Monday, February 28, 2011

Life, Such As It Was

I was reading a very good piece of childhood reminiscence, by Knucklehead, and got to thinking that I should be able to get at least 1,200 words out of much the same sort of stuff. So, always willing to boldly go where everybody else has gone before, here's the result.

Let's start with the comment I left over at Knucklehead's place, in response to his story of playground injury...

We grew up tough. I remember loads of injuries on the playground, and all of them that gushed blood were slathered with Mercurochrome. I think that stuff is illegal now, but My Mom swore by it.

"Jimmy, I'm going to paint your leg with toxin and send you back out to play. First, though, have some whole milk with raw eggs mixed in. Have to keep up your strength!"

For those not familiar with it, this is Mercurochrome.

Notice the lovely color? As you might have guessed from the name, it contained mercury. Yup. Moms all across the nation were swabbing open wounds with a concoction made from stuff now well-known to cause brain damage, kidney failure, and birth defects. Wheeeeeee!

(As MY WIFE often opines when she considers the amount of lead paint chips she ate during her childhood, I wonder what sort of an Einstein I might have been had I not had every open wound filled with a medicine containing a substance which if found in a tuna causes the tuna to be unfit for putting in a can. Sorry, Charlie!)

If your mom didn't keep Mercurochrome in stock, the usual treatment was Iodine. That stuff was always a joy. You touched it to a cut and the kid with a boo-boo would jump four feet vertically. While assuredly more effective than Mercurochrome as an antiseptic, it didn't leave a gory red stain on your skin and was thus not as desirable for boys who liked the effect of having their various battle scars heightened. Of course, it did leave a dark purple stain (unless your mother was one of those who put a band-aid on top of everything, in which case you ripped it off as soon as you were able so that all of your friends could see how magnificently crippled you had become during your latest adventures.)

(By the way, I just now found out that Iodine can explode unexpectedly when mixed with ammonia and water.

Kid: "See that big purple spot on Johnny's leg? I heard that if you pee on it, he'll blow up!"

Other Kid: "Cool! Hey, Johnny, come here!"

[unzips fly as Johnny walks over]

Johnny: "Hey! What the..."


I mentioned raw eggs and whole milk before. My Mom, and almost every other mom in our neighborhood, thought those were wonderfully nutritious ingredients in a pre-school breakfast. More mornings than not, I used to get a raw egg or two stirred into a tall glass of milk, a little chocolate syrup added, and it was called an eggnog. When other folks were retching while watching the scene in Rocky where Sly Stallone gulps down a glass full of raw eggs, I was feeling pangs of nostalgia. Salmonella? What's that?

Lunch was also loaded with vitaminous goodity. My Mom often packed a cream cheese and jelly sandwich for me to ingest while at school. Just to be sure there was no chance of anything remotely healthy entering my body, I usually insisted she cut off the crust. A big thermos jug full of whole milk accompanied that meal, along with a handful of cookies or, if I was really trying to watch the calories, a bag of Fritos.

More cookies and milk, or whoopie pies, or maybe some very healthy crackers and cheese (American cheese! Of course it's good for you! What are you, some kind of communist?) would suffice to tide me over until dinner, so long as I didn't ruin my appetite and had room for my fried pork chops and mashed potatoes. You have to have meat with every dinner or else you'll grow up all weak and sissified. And potatoes are... well, they're potatoes, and what else are we going to do with the gravy if we don't have any potatoes to pour it on? Just so the entire meal won't be brown, here are some canned wax beans. Yum!

(I had MY WIFE read this to see if she thought I should add anything. She said, "Those are the things you were eating when I met you, and you still eat the same things now!"

Well, yeah. I never said I didn't like it, did I?)

Among the other things we were fed, and that are now generally considered to be slow-acting poisons, were margarine and lard. Margarine was made from vegetables! Well, vegetable oil, in any case, and that certainly couldn't be bad for you, could it? Spread it thick on that white bread. Lard, on the other hand, just plain made everything taste better, and you were eating pork chops, anyway, so why shouldn't the chocolate layer cake have some pig in it? We topped it off with another huge glass of wholesome whole milk because we wanted to grow up to be big and strong like Dad, who was in the living room chain-smoking unfiltered Camels.

(And, if second-hand smoke is all that bad for you, I should have had seven different kinds of cancer by the time I was eighteen with all the smoke-filled kitchens and parlors I hung out in when I was growing up. The relatives who didn't smoke were the oddballs. I had to be inhaling the equivalent of half-a-pack a day whenever we visited the Sullivan side of my family. I'd ask some of them for further information to verify that statement, but they're all dead now. Who knows? Maybe I am, too, by the time you read this. Woo-Hoo!)

Well, I suppose I could go on and on (maybe I already have) but I've given detail before about eating raw hamburger scraped with my fingers from a store's grinder, hitching a ride on a freight train and walking home on subway tracks, falling through the ice while playing hockey on the Neponset River, and playing baseball on asphalt (including sliding on the stuff), so that should prove something about the sort of childhood I had. Maybe that Mercurochrome had more of an effect on my brain than I've ever given it credit for.

Soon, with more better stuff.


My Mom is a wonderful person, highly intelligent, and full of love for me. She was all of those things during my childhood, also. I wouldn't have traded a single lard-filled whoopee pie if it meant I'd live for an extra five years. Anyway, NOBODY knew any better then. And, rest assured, this is the same sort of stuff some current snot-nosed kid will be telling his peers forty years from now, on some electronic media we haven't even thought of yet, concerning arugula, bean sprouts, and soy milk. It's all good.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Danny... WTF?

[Image of Kendrick Perkins, looking as bewildered as I am, from
where there's a really fine analysis of what I'm writing about.]

If you find today's post boring, blame Danny Ainge.

In deference to the majority of you, who don't give an owl's hoot about basketball, I haven't written much about the Boston Celtics this year. Even though I've lived and died with them forever, I've resisted the urge to go in-depth concerning anything green-related. And I was all set to give you the funny today, but Danny went and made a bunch of trades that, as it now stands, don't make sense to me at all.

Here's who the Celtics gave up: Kendrick Perkins, Nate Robinson, Semih Erden, Luke Harangody, and Marquise Daniels.

Here's what they got in return: Jeff Green, Nadad Krstic, 3 future draft choices, and some money.

Here's where I tell you why these trades suck. Even the most ardent of my apologists will probably be bored, so I won't love you any less if you leave. Come back on Monday. I guarantee it won't be about sports, and I think you'll have a laugh or two.

Kendrick Perkins was the Celtics starting center. During his tenure in Boston, the Celtics never lost a playoff series when their usual starting five were healthy. It is generally believed, by almost everybody in Boston - except, apparently, Danny Ainge - that if Perkins had not hurt his knee in Game Six of the championships last year, versus the Lakers, then the Celtics would have won that series. His presence, as a rebounder and a defender, has been crucial to their success.

After hurting his knee in that game - exploding it, basically - his return was estimated as sometime in February of this year. He worked his ass off and came back about three weeks earlier than expected. And that's the kind of team guy he has always been, and will continue to be now for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The fans in Boston understood his commitment, desire, heart, and guts. The first time he entered a game this season, he received as loud and long a standing ovation as a Larry Bird might have gotten. And he deserved it.

Aside from that sort of perseverance, he made an immediate impact. Any basketball fan with eyes saw that the C's were a better team with him than without him. His defensive skills, and most especially his rotating to where he is needed for help, are apparent to anyone with even minimal knowledge. And a team, such as the Celtics, who had been struggling for rebounding all year, were provided with a presence on the boards that was immeasurable.

Now, without him, they are left with an aging and unreliable Shaquille O'Neal as their starter, with Jermaine O'Neal (currently injured, and possibly never returning) as back-up. This glaring lack was exacerbated when Trader Ainge pretty much gave away Semih Erden, the only other Center on the roster.

(Last night, against Denver, the team had not a single NBA-level center to play for them. Glen Davis, a fine power forward but too small to play in the middle for more than a few minutes, was the starter. They called up a D League player, Chris Johnson, a total of TWO major league games on his resume, to fill up the bench. He played decently, and credit to him for that on short notice, but he's certainly not the answer. So, for the short term, we saw what might be the dilemma going forward and into the playoffs, if Shaq retains his penchant for being disabled and the other O'Neal doesn't return from the injured list - a basketball team with no center. Brilliant stuff, Danny. If that's what happens, and this team wins a championship, I'll kiss your ass in Macy's window at high noon.)

OK, the C's should not have let go of Perk. I firmly believe that, but I'm willing to see why it might have been done and the good that could occur. His contract was up at the end of the season, and they were supposedly far apart on talks concerning a renewal contract, so they wanted something in return for his expected departure. They packaged him with Nate Robinson - MY WIFE's favorite player (and is she ever pissed about this...) and a good guy, but expendable - and in return they get a fine forward in Jeff Green and your standard European center (very tall, but prefers shooting jump shots as opposed to banging inside) in Krstic. They also receive a future first-round draft choice. Not a horrible exchange, IF WE HAD ANOTHER HEALTHY CENTER REMAINING. Which we don't.

In the most inexplicable part of the day's activities, Ainge traded C Semih Erden and F Luke Harangody to Cleveland for... well, for something, but I sure can't figure it out. They get Cleveland's second round draft choice in 2012.

Squeeze me? Are you cereal? You give up the healthiest center remaining on the roster after Perkins' departure, a guy who has given you some decent minutes and shown that he will have, if not a starring career, a decent life as a role player, at the least, and you also ship out of town a rookie forward with some skills, and you get, in return, a draft choice two years down the road, and a second-round draft choice at that.

I am befuddled, flabbergasted, mystified, and please feel free to consider my mind boggled. But, wait, it gets better! Marquise Daniels was traded to Sacramento for (be still my beating heart!) a second-round pick in...

(No, this has to be a joke. Somebody's yanking my chain.)

... in 2017.

2017! That means this future Celtic might just now be entering middle school. I know you want to build for the future, Danny, but trading Marquise for a pre-adolescent is just slightly odd.

(I joke, and - as Homer Simpson is fond of saying - it's funny because it's true, but I actually understand the reasoning on this one. Marquise is seriously injured, may never play again, and his contract is actually up soon, so if he comes back and makes the roster next year, the C's will have received a future draft choice for nothing.)

All of the above is as it now stands. The thinking among some is that Ainge has cleared room on the roster, and given himself monetary breathing room, in order to make another addition, soon, of a decent player, perhaps Troy Murphy or Rip Hamilton. The team may be better set for the future than it was before. However, whereas before I considered the Celtics favorites to win the championship this year, I now have little doubt they've killed that opportunity. I can only hope that my usual track record concerning predictions - lousy - holds, and I have the opportunity to kiss Danny Ainge's ass come summer.

Godspeed, Perk. You're a beast and you'll remain one. I wish you had remained a Celtic.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

George Pratt, 61

I'm going to be 54 years old this March. I'm planning on playing fast-pitch softball for another year (if my shoulder doesn't deteriorate completely by the start of the season, a distinct possibility from the way it feels right now.) As if I needed any further reminder of the passage of time, a former teammate has gone home to God.

George Pratt was a pitcher. Beyond that, he was a great competitor and a true gentleman.

(In the collection of softball players pictured above, that's George 4th from the right. More photos will follow, all from the M Street Softball League website.)

I only knew George from my too few interactions with him at the ballpark. There are plenty of other folks - family, co-workers, close friends, teammates for a longer while - who are feeling his loss more deeply than I ever will. However, I can honestly say that I'll miss George. A smile came to my face every time I had a chance to talk to him, and the main reason is that George always greeted me with a smile first. That's how I'll remember him - smiling. It was what he was doing, more often than not.

George was THE dominant pitcher in the M Street Softball League for a couple of seasons. You could click onto his full statistics HERE, but let me quote a bit of stuff that should be amazing to anyone who plays ball.

Year Team          W  L IP   H  R  ER BB  K  ERA
2002 Sidewalk Café 21 3 149 167 81 52 33 100 2.44
2003 Sidewalk Café 18 0 133 116 48 37 21 117 1.95

For those not familiar with it, M Street is one of the toughest softball leagues around. So, dig? He went 39 - 3 over the course of those two years, and struck out 217 batters in 282 innings of work. And this is softball we're talking about, and against entire teams full of good hitters. Strikeout totals like that are few and far between. His 2003 year, of 18 - 0 with a 1.95 ERA, was totally unreal. I saw a few of the gems he pitched that year, but I still find the numbers hard to believe. They're the stuff of legend.

Even more impressive, those numbers were put on the board when he was 52 and 53 years old. And he remained a damn good pitcher (12 - 5, 3.95) right through last season, at age 61. His final start was a game in the championships, a 4 - 3 loss in which he went 7 strong innings, giving up just one earned run.

Here is a series of photos of George pitching - getting a sign from his catcher, then his delivery and follow through. I don't know if you can get the sense of speed, or the work he put into each throw, but look at the ball - straight line, blurred, towards the batter - and his rear foot grabbing the dirt violently. Also, note the angle of his arm on the delivery and then the follow through. You can imagine the sort of movement that ball might have had.

I say that I was George's teammate, and I was, but I never had an opportunity to catch him. The one year that I played for Sidewalk Cafe, George was sidelined. And, in the grand scheme of things, George was a star and I'm a scrub. No matter, to him. Any time he saw me, I was an ex-teammate and greeted with as much respect and warmth as if I was his personal catcher and slugged game-winners for him. He was that kind of nice guy.

May God bless his family and friends. He'll be missed.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Back In The Saddle?

Yes. I'm back in the saddle atop the venomous and reprehensible horse known as Suldog Accepting An Award.

(The horse pic comes from HERE. I went to Google, typed in "ugly horse", and it showed up. I'm rather pleased. His teeth resemble what mine used to look like before I got my implants.)

I know I told you I wasn't going to have anything else for you this week, but I lied. You should be used to that by now. The reason for my returning is that I have been given an award.

Some of you know what's coming. Many of you have no clue. That's because you're new here. You've been around for a couple or three weeks, seen some posts detailing my ridiculously compassionate side, and you think I'm something other than what I am, which is emotionally bifurcated.

(Damn. That's a swell word. I should get paid extra for dragging something like that out of my brainpan, especially since I don't get paid at all. Do you have any idea how much masking tape I have to wrap around my skull each day to keep double-jointed words like that from escaping? It adds up.)

Anyhow, it would behoove some of you, especially if you're an ugly horse...

(I'm not going to finish that sentence. It started off as a pun, but degenerated into nonsense. I don't care. I'm here to deliver the bile, not get an A in English.)

What in the FUCK am I talking about? Who knows? In any case, go HERE. Or HERE. Or HERE. Read. Understand what lurks in the murky depths of my malformed and putrid soul. Sure, I save mice and give them cookies, but I have no pity for those who mistakenly assume that I'm worthy of an accolade. Or a lemonade.

What brought about this latest attack of gas? Some character named Sweet Pea gave me an award. I was sort of thrilled at first. I didn't know Popeye's nephew liked my stuff!

(I've always assumed he was Popeye's nephew. MY WIFE thinks he's Popeye's bastard child from a previous marriage, and Olive Oyl is very kind to put up with him. You can think whatever you want. I just threw it in here because what other obvious joke comes to mind when you're talking about somebody who actually calls herself Sweet Pea? I mean, unless you want to deliberately misspell the second part of it and go the scatological route, which I won't unless things get truly desperate later on.)

[The Popeye & Sweepea image comes from HERE, which is more than you can say for me. As a matter of fact, you can watch whole cartoons over there! Yay! All things taken into consideration, there's no reason for you to be here when you could be there. I've lost any respect I had for you, which isn't saying much.]

Back to the subject at hand, as if there is one. Turns out this Sweet Pea apparition is a woman. Not too bad of a looker, either...

... if you don't mind eyes like Uncle Fester on meth.

I kid, I kid. They're lovely eyes. A tad heavy on the eyeshadow, but otherwise acceptable for any Alice Cooper impersonator.

How many of you hate me now and have gone away? Raise your hands.

Hah! Trick question! If you had left, you wouldn't be able to read that sentence. Put your hand down, you dope. Anyway, I really was kidding. She has gorgeous eyes. And I told her what an a-hole I would be. Go to her place and read the comments. She gave me permission! What a maroon!

So, anyway, this lovely woman gave me this altogether undeserved award:

Near as I can figure out, she thinks I'm versatile. I say "near as I can figure out" because, well, have you seen her site? I gave you the chance to click over to it earlier, but you probably didn't. Here's another opportunity. Go THERE.

Are you back? Well, of course you are. Or you didn't leave at all. Whatever. I'm trying to make jokes here and I expect you to hold up your end. God knows your girdle doesn't.

Despite the non-sequitur above, I'm going to be 54 in a week or so. What does that have to do with the price of tea in China? What does ANYTHING have to do with the price of tea in China? Who in hell came up with the idea that that should be the rhetorical question of choice? Anyway, I can't read a damn thing over at Sweet Pea's place without a magnifying glass. Do they make fonts any smaller than that? Not that I'd have any idea if they did, because anything smaller than that would be invisible. From what I've been able to gather between splitting headaches, I'm supposed to link to her (which I've done in my own inimitable way), tell some stuff about myself (which I'll do because I'm as full of myself as I ever was) and then inflict this web-based gonorrhea on a bunch of other poor saps (which means you, so if you didn't leave before, now you're screwed.)

Here's some stuff about me that's about as real as anything else on the internet:

1 - My actual name used to be Jigglebutt A. Skolinsky. I changed it for tax purposes.

2 - I live in a cheese garden.

3 - My favorite color is soiled.

4 - Every morning, I have mildew for breakfast. It's quite good smothered in onions.

5 - Everything up to this point has been a lie. Everything beyond this point is the truth.

6 - The previous sentence is a lie.

7 - The previous sentence is the truth.

8 - I love you.

And now, just to drive that point home, here's where I give this astonishingly insincere gewgaw to some of you and task you with giving it to other folks until everybody has it and we can all go to bed none the wiser for our experience here. If your name is mentioned below, that proves it.

Growing Up In Waldron

In The Wheel

My Life As Jane

So F*cking Fabulous I Piss Glitter

Uncle Skip

And, wot the hell, let's have someone from outside of the United States...

Fab, Feisty, & Fifty

(All of these people have interesting things to say. Whether they'll be saying any of them at the time you click over to them, I haven't a clue. If you weren't chosen, and you feel that I've somehow slighted you, the only conclusion I can come to is that your reading comprehension skills suck.)

Let's see... Anything else I can add to this pile of glop to make your visit here today worthwhile?

I suppose this will do...

And you thought I was kidding about me having had the same teeth as that horse at one point in my life. Neigh!

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

More Tales Of Vermin

The piece I published yesterday, The Ant & The Dishwasher, brought to mind two other pieces I've written concerning unwelcome house guests. Well, to be honest, Michelle (a new mommy, by the way, so head on over and give your congrats) reminded me of one, and I came upon the other while searching for that one. I'll be presenting them in slightly modified format from the originals, so they're re-runs but not quite. In addition, you get BOTH of them here, rather than me taking up two days of space with them, so shut up.

(To be honest, though, this will be my last post for this week, so I'm really taking up three days worth of space with them, and that's not counting the long holiday weekend, which would make it six days of space, and then I might just get even lazier and not have anything else for you after the weekend for a few days, so if you shut up before, now you can start squawking again.)

Here's a comment made on the original posting of The Ant... in 2010, which brought to mind another ant story.

First, the comment, by Eva Gallant, of Wrestling With Retirement:

I had a bout with ants, years ago. We had just moved into a house and my in-laws had come to dinner for my son's first birthday. After dinner, I opened the kitchen cupboard to get the birthday cake, and my baby-blue frosting was black! The cake was covered with little black ants - hundreds of them! I screamed and screamed, and hubby grabbed the cake and threw it out onto the front lawn. No birthday cake that day! Luckily, at 1 year old, my son had no clue what had happened. We ended up getting the exterminators in and they found a huge ant nest in behind the dishwasher. No, no qualms about killing those suckers :-)

Aside from alarming me concerning the possibilities now inherent with my voluntarily having left an ant in my own dishwasher, Eva brought the following memory to mind.

In a previous home, we had ants. No big deal, though. We would see one every so often, but never more than one at a time. Whenever I saw one, I usually just let him be on his antly way. He wasn't bothering me, so why should I bother him?

Well, one evening I had made a New England Boiled Dinner. It was mighty good, too, and mostly finished in a rather expeditious fashion by the two of us. The next day, I had the little bit of leftover ham for a mid-morning snack. All that remained was a decent-sized hunk of boiled cabbage. We then went out on some errand or another.

When we returned home, I saw that I had left the bowl of cabbage on the counter, uncovered, rather than returning it to the refrigerator. And, when I walked over to the bowl, I saw that it was FULL of ants; thousands of them. I guess they really, really, really like cabbage.

Anyway, it made disposal of them quite easy. I took the entire bowl outside and left it there. And I'm delighted to report we had no ants after that - not even a lone straggler - for months. I can only come to one of two possible conclusions:

1 - Cabbage kills ants.


2 - My New England Boiled Dinner kills ants.

In any case, if I ever again find us infested with a large and troublesome colony, I will try to remember this lesson. I will lay out a large bowl of cabbage and see what happens. Rest assured that, when I do, you'll hear about it, in detail.

Soon, with more boiled cabbage (which drawing of, by the way, I got from Uncle Stinky. No, I didn't make that up.)

P.S. It just occurred to me that perhaps the ants all got vicious gas from the cabbage and then exploded. I still don't like killing insects, but if that's what happened, I wish I had seen it.


And now, the second piece, entitled, simply enough...


(The artwork is from: which is well worth a visit and much more meaningful than anything I have to say.)

I don't kill bugs. I don't step on ants, swat flies, crush beetles, burn spiders, or spray wasps. At least, I try not to. Some people think this is strange.

If you kill a bug or two, here or there, I'm not going to call out some sort of PETA-style group of insect lovers to come to your home and hold a protest. I am not a Jain. I can understand where killing bugs is sometimes useful or even necessary. I have killed quite a few of them in my day. I'm not proud of it, though.

The thing is that I never kill a bug just because the bug is there. If a bug is doing something to harm me, I will act appropriately. A mosquito, for instance, may be drilling into my arm. I feel no compunction about killing that mosquito. She started it. Some folks, however, go out of their way to squash anything they see moving. An ant is walking around somewhere, not doing anyone any harm, just thinking whatever an ant thinks ("I'm an ant. There's a leaf. I'm gonna pick up that leaf and drag it home. It'll make a nice end table.") and one of these folks will actually take two or three steps to the left in order to end that ant's life.

A person just snuffs another living creature for no reason? That, my friends, is not a nice person. As soon as I see someone do something like that, I know that person is not to be completely trusted. Where does that person draw the line? At what point will he or she decide that a life is important enough to not be arbitrarily ended at his or her whim? I'm not sticking around to find out.

Some of you are no doubt thinking, "Hey, Jim, lighten up. It's just an ant." Maybe so. Maybe some creatures are less significant than others in the larger scheme of things. I'm certainly not entirely innocent of killing things for my own pleasure. I'm not a vegetarian. Maybe there is, in the long run, nothing morally wrong with stomping an anthill. I eat cows and chickens and pigs and fish, among other things. However, I don't see a chicken and automatically think about bringing a boot down on it's head. So, I'm willing to cut you some slack if you eat the bugs you kill, OK?

Where do you draw the line? Where is your line of demarcation between insignificant enough to squish and significant enough to show some respect as a living thing?

I think most people - at least, those willing to entertain such thoughts and not limited in their mental capabilities - sooner or later realize that the small size of the creature is their main rationale for killing it. A bug finds it's way into your home and is crawling across your living room floor, so *STOMP* and no more bug. What if a sparrow finds it's way into your living room? You gonna step on it? Or are you going to try to somehow get it back outside? How about a frog? Pretty messy to stomp on a frog. How about a stray cat? Got a catswatter handy? You draw the line somewhere. Where is it?

I make every effort to remove an unwanted living thing from my home and place it outside. If it's not harming me - or someone I love - I enjoy the challenge of trying to capture it and relocate it. At those moments, I like to think of myself as an extremely small game hunter. Some of them aren't easy. Centipedes (ugh) move pretty damned fast. Flies have to be snuck up on very slowly, almost as though you were a cat pouncing on a mouse. Beetles, on the other hand, offer little challenge at all. I would say that they lay there like slugs, but thankfully I've never had to remove any slugs from my living room and I hope to hell you haven't had to, either.

(I bet you don't step on slugs; way too squishy. Ooog.)

Speaking of slugs reminds me of a particularly nasty sort of person. I'm talking about the folks who not only think nothing of killing small creatures, but who delight in finding "entertaining" ways to destroy them; the sort of person who pours salt on a slug. This is the same type who enjoys pulling wings off of flies or plucking the legs off of a daddy-long-legs spider. While I would rather not see bugs killed for no reason, as I said earlier I won't shun you for it - if you have a reasonable excuse. However, I believe these people have a special spot reserved for them in Hell. There is no moral defense for making a creature suffer needlessly.

(I also suspect there is a special place in heaven for those who go out of their way to do something nice for creatures that are seemingly unlovable or gross or downright scary. I sure hope so. I've done an awful lot of things in my life that mark up heavily on the bad side of the karma scoreboard. I can use the help.)

There's not a heck of a lot else to say here, I suppose. Either you agree with me or not. I'll finish up by telling you about a gift my Mom bought me a couple of birthdays back.

My Mom knows how I feel about bugs, of course. I think she basically agrees, although she also may not be averse to destroying, say, a cockroach here or there. However, respecting my feelings about this, she bought me a very cool tool called a Bug Buddy. It is one of the most marvelous gifts I've ever received and one of the most useful.

The great thing about this tool is that you can catch the bugs easily, without harming them, and then release them at your leisure. I used to catch bugs in all sorts of improvised contraptions and the problem was that they usually took both hands to hold the bug in (an index card over the top of a glass, for instance) so I had to not only release the bug ASAP, so as to regain the use of my hands, but I also had to find some way to keep the bug in captivity using only one hand while I maneuvered the door open, and then the screen door, and so on. With the Bug Buddy, it's a one-handed operation to catch the bug and if I want to study it for a while (which I don't normally want to do, but I'm just saying) I can. When I go to bring the creepy-crawly outside, I can open the door with no worries about doing a buggy balancing act. Just a marvelous thing to have around if you are in the habit of relocating insects (or you've been so moved by my prose that you're going to start today.)

"He wouldn't even harm a fly." I could think of worse things to have as my epithet.

Soon, with less buggy stuff.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Ant & The Dishwasher

[Originally published almost exactly one year ago, I'm re-posting this because Matt Conlon, in the comments for No More Mr. Mice Guy, said that that story reminded him of this one. Since I'm willing to take the easy way out as soon as it becomes available, he gave me an excuse for giving you a re-run instead of something new. So, if you have a complaint, go to his place and make it. Thank you.]

Saturday morning, MY WIFE and I were watching TV. She was sitting on the couch, while I was in an easy chair. She made an annoyed sound, and I asked her what was the matter. She said, “We’re going to have to buy some ant cups. The little ants are back.”

Little black ants intermittently invade our house. They show up once a year or so, usually during a colder month. They’re harmless, so far as I know. If I see one or two, I either try to ignore them or trap them to put outside. The problem is that one or two are almost surely followed by forty or fifty, and then they become impossible to ignore. If I ignore the forty or fifty, they’d be followed by a couple of thousand, and then maybe a quarter million, at which point they’d lift up the couch, carry it outside, and dump us on the lawn. Then they’d take the couch back inside, flip on the TV, and eat all of our graham crackers while watching… I don’t know; horror films about anteaters or something. I haven’t thought this through completely. You get the idea, though. At some point, the ants have to go.

The problem is that I hate to kill insects. They’re usually not doing anything to me personally. They just happened to wander into the same space I’m occupying. I hardly think that gives me the right to croak them. I mean, if a mosquito lands on me, that’s one thing. A mosquito will try to suck my blood. But, a little black ant? The worst he’s going to do is climb on my arm and tickle me. I should kill something because it makes me laugh? That would be bad news for The Three Stooges, if they weren’t already dead. Of course, some women wouldn’t mind seeing them killed all over again, but I digress.

Speaking of women, MY WIFE does not hold the same opinions concerning life that I do. She feels it’s just fine to squash an ant. It does not trouble her conscience in the least to provide an early demise for an ant. When I express my displeasure with her morality, she says that I should become a vegetarian. She says that I kill cows and such, if by proxy, and that’s the same thing. No, it isn’t. I tell her that if she wants to EAT the ants, I’m fine with her killing them.

Be that as it may – and, unfortunately, it is – I’ll buy the ant cups next time I go shopping. MY WIFE is more important to me than the ants are, so if it will keep peace, fine. And I can sort of rationalize the ant cups. I’m not shoving the ants into the cups and forcing them to eat the poison; they’re entering of their own accord and eating what they choose. So, it’s more like they’re committing suicide, if perhaps unwittingly.

Well, anyway, I tired of our continuing debate concerning the propriety of killing some creatures but not others. I decided to cease fire and enjoy a nice cup of coffee. I asked MY WIFE if she’d like a refill of the used mug she had in front of her on the coffee table. She answered in the negative. So, I grabbed the mug to put it in the dishwasher.

I hit the kitchen and opened the dishwasher. As I was placing her mug in the rack, I saw that one little black ant had hitched a ride on the handle.

I could have squashed the ant, but you already know how I feel about that. Another choice was to pick up the ant and place him outside. If it were spring or summer, that’s probably what I would have done. It’s winter, though, and putting the ant out into the snow seemed just as cruel as squashing him; maybe more so, as I have no idea how long it takes an ant to freeze to death. What I finally decided to do was just leave the ant in the dishwasher. He could fend for himself and my conscience wouldn’t bother me.

As I put the mug in, the ant fell off the handle and landed on the floor of the dishwasher. There were some tiny bits of food there. He no doubt thought he had hit the ant lottery. He immediately made his way to them. Satisfied that not only had I saved the ant, but had probably made him much happier, I shut the door to the dishwasher.

A couple of hours later, I had forgotten about the ant. I had eaten some toast and I went to place my plate in the dishwasher. As I did so, some buttery crumbs fell off of it. The ant – presumably the same one, anyway – reappeared, perhaps wondering if he had died and gone to ant heaven. All he had to do was wait a bit and, every so often, he’d receive a bonanza of food residue, refreshing liquids, butter, sugar, and other bits of treasure. Life was great!

Of course, his general attitude toward the beneficence of his God will change when the dishwasher is full. As he’s wondering just how much more good stuff can possibly come his way, the worst will happen. He will become a victim of a deluge that, in ant terms, will make the one suffered by Noah seem a light sun shower by comparison. Rather than getting another treat, he will be scalded, shaken, swirled about in a soapy morass, shot through the drainage hose, and then deposited in the sink. If he somehow survives that initial thrill ride, he will then find himself riding a wave into our garbage disposal, where he will not have time to admire his new abundance of wealth, but, instead, will be whisked away to his final place of disposition: a sewer.

I can’t help but think that, given the choice – and maybe granted the intelligence to make such a choice worthwhile - he might have decided that eating a bit of poison from an ant cup was not so bad by comparison. Or maybe, if granted that intelligence, he might be able to judge an appropriate time to exit the dishwasher of his own accord, rather than stick around to see what happens when his cup literally overfloweth.

Well, you can occupy your day for only so long with such flights of fancy, so I then went to do the grocery shopping. Among the things I bought were the ant cups. When I got home, I saved MY WIFE’s soul. Rather than delegating to her the duty of placing the poison, I laid out the cups myself. Hell, one way or the other I was to blame for killing the ants. Just buying the cups was enough to make me a hypocrite, so I saw no reason to remain all high and mighty from that point on.

I did try to get the ants to understand that they had a choice. I said to them, as I was laying out their poisoned treats, “Ants, this is poison. If you just go away now, you’ll be happier than you will be if you eat this. My advice is to leave our home immediately, not eating any of this seemingly delicious treat on your way out. It is not a delicious treat. It is death.”

I’m sorry to report that the ants did not listen to me. They fairly much ran towards the poison. As I write this, most of them have eaten their fill and died. Meanwhile, I haven’t done the dishes yet, so I’m still providing ONE ant with what he thinks is paradise but is actually an impending horrific doom. What a swell fellow I am! For all of my talk about not liking to kill bugs, I’m doing a fairly comprehensive job of exterminating them.

And now, I wonder if we’re actually any better off than those ants. Adam & Eve (or, if you wish, Adam Ant & Eve) were presented with a similar choice in the Garden of Eden. They could have lived indefinitely in paradise, so long as they didn’t eat one particular fruit that was poison to their souls, but they chose the poison. The result was death. God told them what the result would be, but they ate it anyway. And, much like my one ant in the dishwasher, after a while there were was only one person remaining that God deigned to talk to. Maybe I should try to get Noah, the ant in the dishwasher, to build an ark. I wonder if he knows what a cubit is? I really don’t want to imagine what he might be gathering two-by-two of, though.

Soon, with more better stuff.

[Image of little black ant from How To Get Rid Of Things, which appears to be a great resource should you be planning an insect holocaust.]

Friday, February 11, 2011

No More Mr. Mice Guy

Last week, I was at work. MY WIFE was home, watching TV in the living room. She saw him scooting around the radiator near the front window. She gave me a phone call.

"Ratatooie is back," she said.

[This is somebody else's mouse. Ratatooie is extremely camera shy.]

We had had a mouse in the house before, a few years back. We never saw him, nor did we hear him. He was the quietest most polite mouse in the history of micedom. We only knew he was around because we occasionally saw chewed up bits of paper in one of the kitchen drawers. We also saw little teeny-tiny mouse poops near the stove. If it wasn't for that poop, I wouldn't have cared one way or the other. If he was so quiet that we never heard him, and so secretive that we never saw him, I was willing to let bygones be bygones and let him have as much scrap paper as he wanted. You can't have a house guest pooping in your kitchen, though, so I bought a "catch-and-release" trap.

MY WIFE, not as much of a sentimental dope as I, averred that she was in favor of buying the kind that splatters a mouse's brains all over the linoleum. I was tempted to tell her that it was her fault we had mice. If she wasn't allergic to animal dander, we'd have a cat. I decided it really wasn't fair to lay blame at the feet of someone who couldn't help being wheezy, though, so I compromised - in my head - and, since I do the grocery shopping, a humane trap was bought on my next trip. I set the trap, following the instructions. I caught no mice.

We did, however, stop seeing any signs of a mouse being around. I suggested that perhaps this was a particularly intelligent mouse, and when I set the trap he decided that we were too smart for him and he left. MY WIFE rolled her eyes (which she'll do more of later in this story, I assure you.)

A couple of days later, I discovered what had happened to that mouse. At least, I assume it was the same mouse; we hadn't been formally introduced. I went outside to tend to some plants, and there he was, a stiff little mouse corpse near our cellar stairs. I have no idea how he came to meet his maker, but he certainly had and it made my life easier. I no longer had to consider buying a trap that would kill him, since he was already stone cold dead. Back to our life as normal, without mice!

But then, four weeks ago, we were in the living room together and we heard a noise from the kitchen, some small item or another tipping over on our counter. I went to investigate. I flipped on the light switch and caught an extremely fleeting glimpse of Ratatooie scurrying behind our cookie jar. I moved closer, but he had completely disappeared, down some hole I couldn't locate for the life of me.

(I don't know which one of us first took to calling him Ratatooie, but that personalization wouldn't help matters later. You'll see.)

I retrieved the previously-unsuccessful humane trap from where it had been living in a drawer full of other useless items like old keys from two houses ago and 7/23 hex bolts that fit Eastern European appliances we threw out in 1995. Since it was still somewhat close to Christmas - and since so many of you kind souls had sent me a fruitcake or two - I baited the trap with a little piece of fruitcake rather than the peanut butter I had tried during the former failed mouse hunt. I figured if I liked fruitcake so much, Ratatooie would, too.

As it turned out, I was right. Fruitcake is an excellent bait. This time I caught a mouse. I found this out when I got up in the middle of the night to have a snack - some fruitcake, as a matter of fact - and I saw the trap had been triggered. I grabbed a small cardboard box that was nearby and released Ratatooie into it, being careful to close off any avenue of escape as soon as he was inside.

Now the question was what to do with him.

I had never thought of what would happen AFTER I caught a live mouse. At least, I hadn't considered what to do with one in the winter when there was about three feet of snow on the ground everywhere in our neighborhood. I had purchased the trap during a summer when it was easy to imagine releasing a mouse in some flowery field, where he would see the abundant food supplied by blooming trees full of succulent fruits and hearty nuts, maybe some shapely lady mice nearby giving him a come hither look, and then he would gaze up at me with big brown eyes full of gratitude for not crushing his head, give me the mousy equivalent of a tip of his hat, and saunter off to live his suddenly wonderful life. Instead, I was faced with the prospect of tossing a cute little furry animal into a snowbank to die.

I know, I know. Some of you are like MY WIFE. You see nothing outstandingly cute about vermin. You've got to understand, though, that I was raised on cartoons wherein the mouse was always the hero. Mighty Mouse was on his way to save the day. Speedy Gonzalez rescued entire Mexican towns from evil cats. Pixie and Dixie were always getting the best of Mister Jinx, and... well, hell, as much I really like Tom, I didn't want to croak Jerry.

With all of the vicious snowstorms we had been having, we and our upstairs neighbors had decided to park in the driveway rather than utilize our garage. We did this because it was easier to drive the cars into the street and clean them of new snow rather than shovel the entire length of our sixty foot drive. The garage door was closed, whereas we usually kept it open. So, after giving about three seconds of thought to keeping Ratatooie as a pet until springtime arrived, I decided to do the best by him that I saw as possible at the moment. Holding the box in one hand, I grabbed a Nilla Wafer from our cookie jar with my other hand, carried both out the back door, walked to the garage, opened it, and went inside. I put Ratatooie's box down in the far corner of the garage, slipped the Nilla Wafer into the box for him as a going away present, then shut the garage door behind me and went back into the house. It was cold in the garage, but not windy, and it wasn't full of snow like the rest of the world. My hope was that he'd find a warmish spot to huddle in until a thaw happened. At the least, he'd enjoy the cookie before freezing to death. And I figured that was that.

In the morning, I told MY WIFE that I had caught Ratatooie. She asked me what I did with him. I told her. Remember that eye-rolling thing I told you about earlier? She did it again. And she said, "So, let me get this straight. You put the mouse in our garage and fed him a cookie? Great. Now he'll tell all of his mouse friends that there's a lunatic in the neighborhood who gives cookies to rats."

I became indignant.

"He's not a rat. He's just a tiny little mouse with big brown eyes. Besides, I figure if I give him a cookie in the garage, then he'll get the idea that's where the food is and he won't come back in here."

Her eyes rolled even harder than the first time. I had the upper hand, though, because I, the mighty white hunter, had caught the mouse. Whatever else she thought, our house was now mouse-free.

Until last week, that is, when Ratatooie returned.

(Of course, I'm not 100% sure if this next mouse was Ratatooie. It might have been Ratatooie's brother, or, God forbid, Mrs. Ratatooie.)

So, as I said at the beginning, MY WIFE called me at work. She asked me where the humane trap was. I told her, and she set it.

When I got home, we watched a bit of the Celtics game together. Then MY WIFE went to bed. I stayed up to watch the end of the game. In the fourth quarter, just after Ray Allen hit a three-pointer to give the C's a lead, I heard the trap snap shut. I went over to where it was, by the radiator, and lifted it up. I could tell by the weight that we had caught something, and I assumed it was a mouse. Once again, I had to figure out what to do with him.

Oh, hell, you know what I did with him. I put him in a box, gave him a cookie, and took him out to the garage. After closing the garage door, I went back inside and re-set the trap, just in case there was more than one Ratatooie.

The next morning, there was. I took this one out to the garage, too, with the requisite cookie in hand, and dumped him in the same box that was already there and empty. I threw his cookie in with him and went back inside the house. I don't know; maybe there's only one mouse, and he has getting back into the house down pat and I've trained him to expect a cookie every time he does. Damned if I can tell. The next time I catch one, I'm going to draw a big X on his back in magic marker so I can see if I'm catching the same freakin' mouse over and over.

So far this week, I have not caught another mouse. Fair warning to Ratatooie if he reads this, though: You can only push me so far. I ate the last of the Nilla Wafers myself a couple of days ago, so no more cookies for you, pal!

Soon, with more better stuff.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011


[Image from, may their hits increase!]

As I write this, I am awaiting the start of the on-line version of the test to qualify for Jeopardy. As you read this, who the hell knows?

I've been down this road before. I've taken the on-line test twice. I've been administered the test live and in-person once. I may have passed the on-line test before, but I don't know for sure. They don't tell you whether or not you passed when you take the on-line version of it. I know I flunked the live test. They tell you how you did on that one. They don't give you your score, but they tell you if you passed. I didn't. The number I recall being mentioned by somebody as that needed to pass was 37 correct answers from among the 50 questions given. Whatever the passing score was then, near as I could figure, in going over the test in my mind afterward, I blew it via one incorrect answer.

That still irks me. I know for a fact the answer was Albany, as in the capital of New York. It was a question regarding the Hudson River. I answered something like Newark, New Jersey. Albany seemed too obvious. I basically out-thought myself. I made the test harder than it was, and I blew it.

Using the in-person scoring as a guideline for what constitutes pass/fail scoring on the on-line version, I tend to believe I've passed the on-line test at least once before. Unfortunately, just passing the test does not guarantee anything. Unless they call you and invite you for further testing, including a personality interview, you've basically accomplished nothing of importance.

Still, I want very badly to pass the test, and to know for sure that I did so. It would do my ego a world of good, even if they never choose me to be on the show. The Jeopardy test is a decent challenge, unlike the one for Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. I tried out for that show, and passed the test. Let me tell you about NOT being a contestant...

[I've already told some of you about this. If you've been here for a few years, you might have read this when I originally published it. Too bad. I love you and all, but you've come this far, so you may as well read it again. It's full of funny! And have you got anything better to do? No! If you did, you wouldn't be reading me in the first place.]

[Image of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire logo from the official website of the game.]

Auditions were held in New York, so I traveled there at my own expense to compete. The audition itself was a simple process. We were checked in by staff and then handed a sealed envelope containing the written test. After being seated, we were given some instructions concerning the filling out of answers on a separate form, and then we were allowed to open the envelopes and begin the test.

The test consisted of thirty questions, multiple choice, and we were given ten minutes to complete it. If I passed, it was on to the personality interview. There someone would decide if I was personable enough to make a national television audience want to root for me. Or perhaps decide that I was a blowhard psychopath. In the interest of fairness to ABC, as well as future contestants, I won’t give you any of the actual questions. However, they were mostly of this caliber:

What do you use to drain your spaghetti after cooking?

A – A Colander

B – A Calendar

C – A Tennis Racket

D – Your Hands

Well, OK, it wasn’t quite that stupid, but it wasn’t MENSA stuff, either. A particularly bright ten-year-old would have had a decent shot at it. And – getting back to the personality thing - I didn’t stand up in the middle of the test and shout, "I came all the way to New York to take this fucking idiotic test? Why didn’t you just grab all the people off of the first short bus you saw passing by and save me the trouble?" I filled out the test paper as instructed and, in the approximately six minutes I had remaining after doing so, I re-checked my answers, making sure I hadn’t drooled on the form or anything else which might have been off-putting to the judges.

The tests were very quickly graded and then we were told which of us should stay for an interview and which should go home. We had been given numbers with our tests. I was number 12. They called out the numbers of those who passed the test:

"193... 78... 126... 12..."

Yes! I passed the written test!

After being informed that I'd passed – I’d estimate that 1 in 8 of those tested did so – I had my picture taken. I smiled nicely. I was very pleased with the photo, too. I don’t think I photograph particularly well, but this one was a winner. I looked reasonably intelligent, somewhat friendly, and I had no hanging boogers in my nose. So far, so good.

Then it was on to the personality interview, wherein it appears they concluded I was a blowhard psychopath. I received this postcard from the production staff about two weeks after my trip to New York.

Given the result, you might think I had answered the interviewer’s questions in the following manner:

Interviewer: Hi, Jim! I’m Debbie.

Me: Debbie? Hah! Are you the one who did Dallas? Hah-hah!

Interviewer: What do you do for a living, Jim?

Me: I disembowel rabid weasels.

Interviewer: That must be fun!

Me: Not if you’re the rabid weasel.

Interviewer: What’s the first thing you’ll do if you win a million dollars?

Me: Give it to Al-Qeada. Either that or I’ll rent out a roomful of whores and snort massive amounts of cocaine off of their asses until I die.

Interviewer: What sorts of hobbies do you enjoy, Jim?

Me: I thought I made that clear with my previous answer. Wow, you’re really thick!

Interviewer: Well, it’s been nice talking to you, Jim. We’ll let you know in a few weeks whether or not you’ll be placed in the contestant pool.

Me: Like I give a shit, sister. Hey, what are you doing later tonight? Would you mind if I snorted some cocaine off of your ass?

The interviewer’s questions really were like those above, but I didn’t give hideously inappropriate answers. I was nice. I wasn't threatening. I thought I was at least fairly humorous. Maybe the swastika I painted on my forehead was a bit too much. I thought it was a nice homey touch, but you never can tell what’s going to turn some people off these days.

Truthfully, I don’t know for sure what I did to not be chosen. They don't tell you why they decided not to use you. Here's some conjecture.

Since the time of my testing, I’ve talked to a few other people who passed the written exam and who also were not invited to appear on the show. They are, without exception, nice people possessed of a higher-than-average intelligence. And I hope this isn’t too self-serving, but I think that’s the problem. I think the producers aren't looking for the highly intelligent. I have a feeling that what they really want are the reasonably intelligent – those who know how much two plus two is, but not necessarily what someone might do with that information - combined with a type of perky which I, unfortunately, never have been.

Hey, it’s a TV show. I know what they’re trying to do is appeal to the widest possible audience and, just because they decided not to use me, I don’t need to feel like it’s some sort of personal insult. Luckily for me, as a voice-over talent, I work in a subjective business. I know what it’s like to be rejected for reasons having nothing to do with intelligence, talent, or personality. Sometimes, what you’ve got simply is not what someone else needs or wants. I’ve had ample opportunity to get used to being passed over in a like fashion, and I know how to deal with it like an adult.

Stupid Poopy-Heads.


And now, here I am testing for another shot at fame and fortune via the game show route. If I pass the test and somehow get on the show - that is, if the Jeopardy staff decides an appearance by me on the country's TV screens won't constitute a threat to the moral health of the nation - I'll give a shout out to each and every one of you, one per show. Since I have 517 followers, that means you can expect to see me on Jeopardy for the next two years straight, and I'll win about $12,000,000.

Damn. I hope I pass this test.

Soon, with more better stuff.

Monday, February 07, 2011


That's how much you won yesterday when you followed my advice concerning which bets to make on the Super Bowl, and you're welcome. Since you are an honest and forthright individual - you're one of my readers, after all - I expect you'll get the check for my 10% of your winnings into the mail ASAP. Just in case you've forgotten, here's my address:

Suldog The Hopeful, Even In The Face Of All Evidence To The Contrary
93 Winsor Avenue
Watertown, MA 02472

By my figuring (which yesterday has proven to be pretty damned good) my cut, at 10%, comes to $53. Since I have 518 followers, I should be receiving checks totaling at least $27,454.

(I say 'at least' because there are no doubt a few lurkers among you who haven't chosen to become followers, but who nevertheless made the bets I suggested. I'm assuming one or two of you will send me a check, also.)

(Since I'm a Christian, and charitable giving is a virtue, I've decided to be magnanimous and give everything I receive over $27,454 to charity. Yes, I am a nice guy, and I have no doubt God just punched my ticket for Heaven due to my having such a fine and generous thought. If you send me what you owe me, no doubt your ticket will also be punched.)

More math for those of you who don't care: The total amount I asked you to risk was $3,750. The win which resulted, of $530, is a return of 14.13% on your investment. Not bad for four hours. Try to get a bank to do as much for you!

So, that will be the only time this year when I give you my tremendously sound financial advice, and I'm glad you profited. I'll be back with some new writing after you send me my share of the loot. Or I'll never be back, if that will get you to send the check in a more expeditious fashion. Your choice.

Soon (relatively, and dependent upon your honesty) with more better stuff.

Thursday, February 03, 2011

Giving You Your Props

To the young and hip, the title of this piece is another way of saying 'lauding your achievement and/or effort.' I certainly love you, and would have no problem giving you some applause - if I knew why you deserved some, aside from slogging your way through my writing - but since I'm neither young nor hip (which is obvious from my use of the word 'hip') I mean something else entirely. What I am is old and a former big-time degenerate gambler, so what I'm going to do is make you rich, instead. Personally, I'd rather be rich than get applause, so I hope you realize the favor I'm about to do for you.

Oh, yeah. Those of you who aren't (yet) degenerate gamblers may not know what else 'props' might mean. I'm talking about 'proposition bets', which is to say sporting wagers dependent upon an outcome other than the standard "Which team will win the game?" We shall be exploring the wacky and wonderful ways you can risk your money during this coming Super Bowl Sunday.

If you're not a football fan (American gridiron, that is, and pity if you didn't know that already) stick around anyway. This isn't about football. This is about insanity, and that's always fun!

Here are some of the odder proposition bets available, for this coming Sunday, from varied bookmakers in Las Vegas.

Will a National Football League player be arrested before the game this Sunday?

Yes +125
No -500

Explanation: All betting lines are per $100. In this instance, you would bet $100 to make $125 if you believed that an NFL player will be arrested prior to the game on Sunday. If you believe that an arrest will NOT be made, you would have to bet $500 to make $100. 'No' is the outcome the bookmakers would seem to expect. As with most proposition bets, inside information would be helpful. Say you were a high-ranking police official and you held an arrest warrant for some NFL player. Well, obviously you could get a bet down before making the arrest and make a pile of dough. Of course, unless you can cover up your tracks exceptionally well, you'll probably end up being arrested along with the NFL guy. Make sure you bet enough to make it worth your while!

Will Ben Roethlisberger be accused of a crime before the game this Sunday?

Yes +600
No -6000

You bet $100 to win $600 if you think Big Ben will have someone come out of the woodwork to accuse him of, for instance, molesting underage woodchucks. If you think he's clean - that is, you believe he's molesting only woodchucks that have reached the age of majority - you lay $6000 to win $100. Obviously, you'd have to be an idiot to risk $6000 to make $100 on such an iffy proposition. All it takes is one publicity-hungry bimbo (or woodchuck) to accuse him of something, whether true or not, and there goes your money. Now, that doesn't mean you should bet the other way, either. The odds aren't high enough (unless you're the publicity-hungry bimbo - or woodchuck - and you know it's a sure thing, although if you're a woodchuck you'll probably have trouble getting a bet down, especially if you're underage.)

Neither of those two are wagers I'd take a chance on. I only showed them to you as examples of the sort of lunatic bets that are available. As bizarre as those are, however, at least you might rationalize that you've made an analysis and that your money is riding on something more than a guess. There are other bets that are even odder, since there is no way in hell you could possibly have inside information or other reason to think you've picked a logical side. You can bet on the result of the coin flip; on which team will be the first to call a timeout; on which team will be the first to have a coach ask for an instant replay review; or which team will be the first penalized by the referee. If you bet on any of these, you're pretty much begging for a ride to Gamblers Anonymous.

Other bets from The Twilight Zone (but which at least can be analyzed and perhaps actually profited from by someone willing to do the strange homework) include:

Will the Pittsburgh Steelers win the Super Bowl and Pittsburgh Penguins win the Stanley Cup in 2011?

Yes +1000
No -2000

I'd tend to lean towards the "No", but I'll be damned if I'd lay odds on it.

More Blake Griffin (L.A. Clippers, National Basketball Association) Total Rebounds against Miami Heat -OR- Pittsburgh Steelers Total Points?

Griffin Rebounds +7 1/2 (-115)
Steeler Points -7 1/2 (-115)

If you bet on Griffin, you get 7 1/2 rebounds to add to his total. If you bet on the Steelers, subtract 7 1/2 points from their total. In either case, you have to bet $115 to make $100

More LeBron James 1st half points against Clippers -OR- Green Bay Packers 1st Half Points?

Straight up, laying $115 to make $100 on either.

More Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics, NBA) Total Points + Assists against Orlando Magic -OR- Green Bay Packers Total Points?

Also $115 to make $100, either way. This is one I'm almost tempted to tell you to bet on. I expect Green Bay to score in the 20 - 27 range. Rondo has consistently come up big in marquee games, and this one will be against a good opponent, on his home court, and nationally televised prior to the Super Bowl. I expect him to score 10 - 14, and add anywhere from 14 assists on up to 18, for a total range of 24 - 32. If I could get any sort of small odds on Rondo, rather than having to lay money, I'd jump on it. As is, not quite. Close, though.

(For every damn bet you can possibly imagine, go HERE. I'm not paid by that site, nor am I advocating placing bets anywhere on-line. It's just a good place for the info.)

Here are the proposition bets I would actually make. I suggest you do so also, as soon as possible. If you bet enough, you will become fabulously wealthy. When you do, you can thank me by giving me 10% of your winnings. If enough of you do this, I'll have millions of dollars and I'll never write again. Even a total damn fool can tell you that's a proposition worth every penny.

Will there be three unanswered scores in the game?

Yes -200
No +160

In other words, will either team, at any point in the game, score three times without an intervening score by the other team? Conversions following a touchdown (both extra points and two-point conversions) do not count as separate scores.

Take the odds on this one. While the over/under (the total points scored by both teams) and the regular betting line on the game are set to stimulate action on both sides, and are not necessarily reflective of what the wise guys in Vegas expect to happen exactly, they're still a decent enough guide to set you in the right direction on this sort of wager. Let's analyze.

The over/under is 44 1/2 as I write this. The line is Green Bay by 3 points. If both of those numbers end up being more-or-less correct, the outcome should be Green Bay winning either 24 - 21 or 24 - 20. In that case, if one team scores three times in succession, the odds are the other team will have to do so, too.

(Not a guarantee, but more likely than a split scoring scenario.)

Will Pittsburgh go up 17 - 0 or 21 - 0, then lose? Will Green Bay go up 17 - 0 or 21 - 0, only to have Pittsburgh rally strongly to make the final score one of those mentioned above? Both scenarios are unlikely. Even one side or the other scoring first then giving up 17 or 21 points in a row isn't something I see.

Lay it in heavy. Take the "No", $1000 to make $1600.

Will the game go to an overtime?

Yes +800
No -1400

There has never been an overtime game in the Super Bowl.

What is commonly known as "Gamblers Fallacy" is the notion that just because something has not happened in a long time, it is somehow 'due' to happen. Mathematicians will tell you this is a load of rubbish. The reason is because misguided gamblers are viewing the series of events from the beginning, in which case it might be an unlikely string of games, whereas the odds are set concerning the current event ONLY. What came before has no real bearing on the present outcome. This is true for all gambles. Dice, cards, little roulette balls, or whatever else, have no memory. They do not think "Oops! I haven't done such-and-such in a long time, so I'd better get going and do it now!"

Having said that, I'd still make a small bet on this game going into overtime. I think these two teams will play it close enough to the vest to make overtime a real possibility, and getting 8 - 1 seems just enough of an overlay to make it a worthwhile wager. Let's bet $50 to make $400.

For our next bet, we'll look at a series of possible outcomes.

Odds can be had on the exact number of points either team scores. I think Pittsburgh scores more than 20, but not more than 34. Here are the odds you can get for any outcome in that range.

Pittsburgh Steelers 21 Points 8/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 22 Points 75/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 23 Points 18/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Points 10/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 25 Points 60/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 26 Points 40/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Points 12/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 28 Points 12/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 29 Points 50/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 30 Points 25/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 31 Points 12/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 32 Points 60/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 33 Points 30/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 34 Points 15/1

I'm going to eliminate those that would likely require some odd type of score (a safety, a two-point conversion, or a missed extra point.) I expect Pittsburgh to score at least one field goal, also, so let's eliminate totals resulting strictly from 7-point touchdowns only. This is what is left:

Pittsburgh Steelers 23 Points 18/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Points 10/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 27 Points 12/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 31 Points 12/1
Pittsburgh Steelers 34 Points 15/1

I'll take a flier on each of these for $100.

By the same token, I see the Packers scoring 20 - 27. Let's eliminate the same sorts of totals (touchdowns only, and those including a safety, etc.) and here are the remaining props:

Green Bay Packers 20 Points 12/1
Green Bay Packers 23 Points 15/1
Green Bay Packers 24 Points 8/1
Green Bay Packers 27 Points 12/1

Give me $100 on each of these, also. If any one of these Pittsburgh or Green Bay totals is correct, we will win money overall on this proposition (well, one total will just break us even, but I think we need to cover that one, so...) If none hit, we drop $900.

Will B. J. Raji be on the field for at least one offensive play?

Yes -185
No +145

Raji is a defensive player, and is almost exclusively used in that way. However, he has been used in Green Bay's goal line rushing formations for much of the year, as a fullback. I say they'll use him that way, at least, and possibly as a ball carrier. Lay $370 to make $200.

Finally, let's get some action on the game itself.

Pittsburgh, + 3, $550 to make $500.

And let's have a wager on the "Over/Under" of 44 1/2.

Over 44 1/2, $880 to make $800.

(If you live in Las Vegas, or bet sizable amounts, you may have to lay less than the 10% I've shown here.)

So, now, let's sum up.

My Total Amount Bet = $3,750

Best Possible Win = $4,500

Remember, if you follow this exact course of action, I'll be expecting a check for 10% of your winnings. Send it to:

Suldog The Tout
93 Winsor Avenue
Watertown, MA 02472

[DISCLAIMER: I am one hell of a good handicapper. Having said that, I am also notorious for pitiful performance results whenever I shout my selections from the rooftop. I think God truly loves to humble me. However, that usually involves some team or another that I care about, and I don't give a fat rat's ass which team wins this Super Bowl. So, um, there. Also, if you lose? I'm not covering your losses in any way, shape, or form, unless maybe you're a publicity-seeking bimbo (or woodchuck) and we work out some deal beforehand.]

Soon, with more bettor stuff.