SomeChum’s a Bum!


One Halloween, sometime in the mid-‘70s, I distinctly remember wanting to dress up as a bum.

Not a “bum” as in “derriere” or “backside.” A “bum” as in “disgusting derelict who doesn’t bathe and wanders the streets without purpose or value to society.”

Nothing like aiming high in life.

I’m not quite sure if bums were the trendy costume of the day or if I just didn’t feel like imitating Joe Namath or some other overhyped sports hero. All I know is that I wanted to transform myself into a dirty, nasty man. And that’s what I became – complete with scraggly beard (created by mom’s eyebrow pencil); baggy, strategically torn clothes (courtesy of dad’s ready-to-go-to-Goodwill wardrobe pieces); and a bindle (fashioned from a kerchief tied to the end of a long stick).

In retrospect, it must’ve been a pretty sweet deal for my folks. There was no overpriced costume to buy, and the entire ensemble could be jerry-rigged from common household items. Three cheers for the low-maintenance son!

I’m sure my parents’ biggest concern was that my dream costume didn’t foretell some longer-term career aspiration.

Of course, living in our upper-middle-class neighborhood in a small-town suburb of a modestly sized city, we knew no actual bums. They weren’t welcome at the grocery store, didn’t appear at the post office and never showed up at the town library.

It would be many years before “bums” were rebranded as “homeless persons” – and brought to the forefront as real individuals who didn’t just exist in Dickens novels.

I’m guessing there won’t be many bums making an appearance this Halloween.

That’s probably a good thing.


A photo depiction of my parents’ worst nightmare.


From the Mouths of Cartoon Heroes


All I really need to know, I didn’t learn in kindergarten. I learned it on the floor of my den, propped in front of my family’s 25-inch Zenith color TV.

That’s where I came face-to-face with some of the most amusing, quotable, practical advice. Here are some favorite quips from a few of my childhood icons/heroes:

   “Where’s your get up and go? It just got up and went.” 
          – Fred Flinstone

   “Freddy Flinstone, You’re all heart and a yard wide.”
          – Wilma Flinstone

   “What a doll. She’s got everything. Too bad all girls aren’t like her. Oh well, somebody’s got to be in the PTA.”
          – George Jetson

   “For one brief moment today I thought I was winning in the game of life. But there was a flag on the play.”
          – Charlie Brown

   “Boy, you cover about as much as a flapper’s skirt in a high wind.”
          – Foghorn Leghorn 

   “You’re dithpicable.”
          – Daffy Duck

   “If you live to be 100, I want to live to be 100 minus one day so I never have to live one day without you.”
          – Winnie the Pooh

   “What’s the point of going out, we’re just going to end up back here anyway?”
          – Homer Simpson (viewed on a slightly more sophisticated TV)


Help Me Quit Crack(Berry)


Ask any of my co-workers (and many of my friends) what my BlackBerry means to me, and they’ll probably say “far too much.”

Astute folks.

You see, in the past two years, I’ve grown a bit over-attached to this little impish device. It‘s never far from my clutches and has taken a position as one of the top 3 belongings whose whereabouts are my constant obsession (the wallet and keys occupy slots #2 and #3).

Like any addiction, my BB abuse has escalated to the point of needing some serious intervention. It’s causing me to neglect my family, shirk my household chores, EVEN text while driving (in fact, I regularly compose and send entire e-mails while powering down the highway – who says guys can’t multi-task?)

Going cold turkey is always an option, of course, but it’s such an unpleasant one – complete with vomiting, DT’s and other detox-withdrawal symptoms.

I’m looking for a less severe “scaling back,” one in which I can still reap the benefits of mobility while knowing when to say when. Like a food addict who needs to learn to manage her food issues, I just need to train myself to become a more responsible BlackBerry owner/operator (i.e. she’s still gotta eat; I’ve still gotta tweet).

And so I ask: Does anyone have any ideas for helping to transform my CrackBerry back to a BlackBerry?

My ears – and thumbs – eagerly await your suggestions.


My Life as a Flip-Flopping News Junkie


I’ve recently come to terms with an undeniable reality about myself. Like it or not, I have some flip-flopping tendencies…at least in the political realm.

This trait is most apparent on weeknights from 9-10 p.m. EDT / 8 -9 p.m. CDT. That’s when the cable news cornucopia includes Rachel Maddow and Joy Behar (on the left-hand side of the dial), Bill O’Reilly (on the right side of the spectrum) and Larry King (trying hard to straddle that non-offensive middle ground). 

Each night, I join with my U-Verse remote control in slicing through a cluttered landscape that epitomizes the divisiveness (and plain-old immaturity) of political discourse in America. While Rachel is skewering a Republican Senator du jour, Bill is demanding the resignation of some lunatic liberal, and Joy is taking every opportunity to bash former President(s) Bush – whether it has any real relevance to the topic at hand or not. These pundits seem to take great joy in attacking each other with the fervor and misguided angst of teenage hooligans.

Sometimes I’m drawn in by the logic and sincerity of their points of view; other times, they just strike me as over-the-top grandstanders existing primarily to serve a particular ideology.

One thing I’m convinced of, however, is that hyperbole and hysteria exists on all sides of the political table. And increasingly, that I think I might prefer to sit at a different table altogether.

Maybe I’m naive, but I happen to believe the real Obama resides somewhere between “Savior” and “Anti-Christ.” Conversely, I think Sarah Palin belongs between the poles of “backwater Barbie” and “power-hungry maniac.” Unfortunately, such middle-of-the-road characterizations don’t seem to fuel compelling news programs.

Since it’s apparently too much to ask for a cable news channel that’s TRULY fair and balanced, I guess I will continue my nightly news-roulette ritual…and always keep a fresh set of batteries handy.