Category Archives: Humor

Who’s In Charge Of The Damn Band?

My final year of high school I was trying to decide which college to attend. My father had attended Boston College and was a B.C. Eagle heart and soul. But I had designs on being a writer and I had heard Syracuse University had a tremendous school of communications. So I set my sights on Syracuse.

One weekend my Dad and I drove the 6 hours from Boston to Syracuse to check out the University and, as long as we were making the trip, attend a Boston College vs. Syracuse University football game in an old concrete cathedral called Archbold Stadium.

My Dad, being the devoted Boston College alum he was, seemed to know just about everybody who taught or worked there, including the conductor of the B.C. Marching Band Peter Saragusa. And Mr. Saragusa was nice enough to get us tickets and arrange a place for us to stay in Syracuse. Nice guy, huh?

So we made the drive out along the Mass Turnpike and onto the New York Thruway, past Albany and all those little villages in upstate New York. Soon we were within Syracuse city limits and I grew excited to be able to see for the very first time the spectacular University high upon a hill overlooking the city.

Unfortunately we were staying some distance from the University in a Holiday Inn at Carrier Circle. Lots of things seemed to be named after the Carrier Company, which would in just a few short years provide the money to build the massive Carrier Dome, right on campus.

We arrived on a Friday morning and had a good, long look at the S.U. campus, including a tour of the S. I. Newhouse School of Communications, which by itself pretty much sold me on the school. I didn’t need to see much more. But it was a very pleasant Autumn day so we walked around campus and observed the students coming and going from class to class. It looked like a great place to go to college. The afternoon grew late, so it was back to Carrier Circle and our hotel. After dinner and my Dad’s customary Giant Manhattan, we retired back to our room. It had been an exciting day and we had to be up early for the football game. So, it was lights out.

We couldn’t have been sleeping long before I woke up to the sounds of all hell breaking loose outside the door, in the form of a some very drunk members of the Boston College Marching Band. Silly us. Neither my father nor I was familiar with the age-old tradition of marching band members getting stinking drunk and making as much noise as humanly possible in their hotel the night before a game. The party had quickly spilled out of their rooms and into the hall. In fact, the majority of noise makers had positioned themselves, or so it sounded to our ears, directly outside our room. They were playing their fifes and horns and banging their drums. They were singing the B.C. fight song and any other song they could thing of. In short, they were making enough noise to wake the dead.

My Dad and I tried to ignore it for a while, but the noise level seemed to be increasing with each passing minute. Eventually, my Dad came up with a brilliant plan to simply go out into the hall and ask these screaming Eagles to move their party. Bad move. It just made them worse. There was no way in hell we were going to be able to sleep.

Oh, sweet Jesus! Please save us from this growing bacchanalia.

Finally, my Dad decided the only thing left to do would be to ask for help from somebody at the front desk of the hotel. He put on all his clothes and left me behind to enjoy by myself this rapturous racket.

When my father got down to the front desk he calmly described what was going on. “The B.C. marching band is making an incredibly ruckus, partying and pounding on our door,” he told the attendant. “Is there anything you can do.” Or maybe he wasn’t quite so civil and simply shouted, “Who the hell is in charge of the damn band?”. The front desk clerk inquired as to my father’s name and room number and disappeared for a moment.

When he reappeared, the night clerk seemed quite perplexed. “I’ve just checked the records” he told my father, “and they indicate that you are actually supposed to be in charge of the band. So I’d advise you to get them under control.”

No, no, no, no, no, no, no! This can’t be happening my father must have thought.

But then it all must have become clear. His good friend, the marching band conductor Peter Saragusa, had booked my father and I a room under the pretense that we were the band’s chaperone’s. A neat trick for a free room had backfired big time. And now we were doomed. We couldn’t even get a different room. This was our spot.

I’m certain that neither of us, my father nor I, got more than an hour sleep that night. And to add insult to injury, once we were inside Archbold Stadium for the game it started to blizzard. In October. To the point where you couldn’t see the players on the field.

I vividly remember my father, with a somewhat pathetic look on his face, looking at me and saying with his eyes, “Are you sure you want to go to college here?” And then we probably left and found a new hotel.

But I did end up going to Syracuse. And in no time, I grew used to it all; the parties, the blizzards, and the endless snow.

So here’s a tip. The next time you’re watching college football on T.V. and they show you the marching band, keep in mind that chances are those young people were probably up all night partying and banging on doors.

And make damn sure you’re never in charge of them.

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Filed under Humor, My Stories

Paris Hilton – Eye Candy Arrested For Nose Candy

It is a sad and somber day today for Paris Hilton Nation.

The vapid 29-year-old celebutante was busted last night in Sin City itself – Las Vegas, Nevada, for possession of “the White Lady,” “the Devil’s Dandruff,” “Bolivian Marching Powder,” or just plain old cocaine. According to Associated Press reports, Paris Hilton was riding down the main Las Vegas Strip in a black Cadillac Escalade driven by boyfriend and nightclub mogul Cy Waits, when a motorcycle cop smelled marijuana “wafting out of the car” and pulled the vehicle over. Police say they found a yet to be reported amount of the white stuff in Hilton’s purse, a place usually reserved for one of her dogs.

Paris Hilton was arrested for felony cocaine possession, while Cy Waits was busted for misdemeanor suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

A crowd quickly formed around police and the not-too-happy couple late on The Strip and Hilton was escorted by police into the hotel “to keep her safe” during the initial investigation, said police Lt. Wayne Holman. Later, the scene queen and her 34-year-old boyfriend were taken to taken to Clark County jail where they were booked and then released without bail around 2:45 this morning.

In a bizarre twist, the starlets Tweeter account was updated after her arrest to indicate that she was in bed and watching “The Family Guy” and then she would be going to sleep. It’s unclear whether the tweet came from her or some other “party.”

If convicted, Paris would probably face probation, which if violated, would send her to the Nevada State Prison for between one and four years, which has none of the amenities to which Ms. Hilton is probably used to. It’s probably far too early to even speculate what would happen to any of her pets.

2010 has not been a good year for Paris. She was arrested this summer after the Brazil vs. Netherlands World Cup match in Port Elizabeth, South Africa on suspicion of possession of marijuana. That case was quickly dropped. Earlier this week, there was a frightening incident when police say a 31-year-old man wielding two large knives tried to break into Hilton’s Los Angeles home. The suspect was arrested and faces burglary charges.

These last two incidents involving partying and suspected drug use might come as a surprise to some, after Hilton was sent to the clink for 45 days after she pleased no-contest in 2007 to alcohol-related reckless driving. After spending 23 days behind bars, Hilton appeared on television with talk show host Larry King and said that experience had caused her to re-evaluate the role that partying played in her life. She said at the time that she wanted “to help raise money for kids and for breast cancer and multiple sclerosis.”

But the temptations are very strong when you’re a multibillionaire starlet, especially in Las Vegas, a place where the house always wins.

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Filed under Celebrities, Humor, Profiles

New Solar System Discovered and I’m In Charge

European astronomers have this week announced the discovery of another solar system, consisting of a bright star similar to our sun along with at least 5 planets, one very similar to Earth. This discovery is said to be the biggest astronomical discovery in more than 15 years, and possibly the biggest news since the George Foreman Grill.

Seriously! This is huge news in the “scientific community,” of which I was expelled after flunking “Physics For Football Players” in college. It is believed that the newly discovered star, which has the completely forgettable name HD 10180 (can’t we just call it Sun II?) is located a mere 127 light years away from Earth, just a little bit longer than a circular trip on the Detroit People Mover.

The new solar system is said to exist in the southern constellation of Hydrus, which is just below the Big Dipper. Scientists say it took them six years to find the new solar system (what took so long?), using the most sophisticated instruments such as a spectrograph as well as a telescope that a kid named Samantha made all by herself.

Now the first order of business, in my opinion, is that we come up with a name for this new solar system. Our solar system is, of course, called The Milky Way.

So I propose that we stay with the candy theme and name this new one “The Reese’s Cup.”

Since we’re on the topic of names, I’d like to propose to the International Scientific Committee on this World Wide Web today that the new planet which resembles Earth be named Planet John. I don’t think that’s asking too much.

Since the planet is going to be named after me, I guess that also means that I should be installed as Grand Excellency. And since I’m in charge there are some things that I am going to demand and decree. For one, every living thing on the planet will have free health care, no matter how many heads they have.

Also, people will be allowed to roam freely on my planet. I don’t want any stupid immigration laws or restrictions. All people will be citizens of our new planet. This will eliminate the need for any insipid border patrol agents, who ask irrelevant questions like “How do you like your job.” There will be no more of that nonsense.

I think we should also eliminate the monetary system and introduce the old system of barter. If you have two goats you should be able to trade them for seven sacks of rice. Or if you have a really cool car, you could trade that for a boat or a house. I don’t think wife-swapping is a good idea though, as evidenced by that dumb television series.

And haggling will definitely be encouraged. Lots of haggling.

Finally and most importantly, there will be no more wars or fighting. Guns and rifles and automatic weapons and any other thing that can kill somebody or get blood on your shirt will be strictly prohibited. If there’s a disagreement, all inhabitants will go before either Judge Judy or Dr. Phil depending on the disagreement. If you can’t work things out, you’ll have to leave.

So get ready to come along to our new home, because we’ve gone and spoiled Planet Earth completely.

I’ll personally make sure we don’t screw things up again!

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Filed under Humor, My Stories

The Runaway Horse

In an effort by my parents to improve my skills as a hockey player when I was 15 years old, and most likely to also get me out of the house, they sent me to summer hockey camp. It was quite a wild adventure.

Now I should preface this by the fact that I wasn’t an incredible hockey player to begin with. Even though I had been playing since I was about 10, I was just a little bit better than mediocre. I was a heck of a skater; in fact, due to the amount of time I spent skating on a pond in the woods behind my house I could probably skate circles around every other kid in my neighborhood. But to be a great hockey player you have to be able to hit – and hit hard and get hit. And in order to do that you have to be fairly big. While I was tall, I was only about 140 pounds soaking wet. So I got killed in the corners and that wasn’t so good when it came to digging the puck out of the corners so the center could score.

Anyway, I digress. This hockey camp was run by a former minor star in the NHL who’s name I can’t seem to remember. But, it was 35 years ago, so I hope you’ll give me a pass. Ron something. Bill whosamagig. Doesn’t really matter. Let’s just say it was this guy:

Nah. That’s Philadelphia Flyers star and Boston Bruins arch-nemesis Bobby Clarke. I just liked the photo.

So this was a summer day camp. Meaning that I didn’t sleep overnight at the camp. I just stayed there during the day, which was enough for me.

This was a strange hockey camp. It’s the only hockey camp that I’ve ever seen before or since that had a skating rink where we would practice and play games on some type of slippery hard plastic material. I’m not sure what it was, but it wasn’t ice. My parents must have got a heck of a deal, sending me to a hockey camp with a rink without ice.

I swear this today to you. It was some type of synthetic ice which I suppose has the advantage of not having to have those cooling elements that keep it frozen. Now I realize that some of you may think I’m making all of this up, so I searched the World Wide Web and found a video that proved my point. Watch and be amazed and imagine an entire regulation ice rink made of some kind of synthetic plastic.

Again, our rink was bigger than that. It was a strange sensation – skating on plastic. And it was a little bit harder to push off on your back foot. But that’s okay we were told. That will make you a stronger skater when you finally skate on ice. Okay, whatever.

One thing is for sure. It certainly cut down on the need for a Zamboni. Here’s one they could probably have afforded at this apparent low budget operation.

Here’s what they look like today, in case you haven’t been to a game recently.

That bed is in case the Zamboni driver has a second or third job and needs a bit of shut eye during the periods.

Anyway, the hockey camp turned out to be pretty good. I ended up a much better player (probably because of that synthetic ice, eh?) My sister ended up dating one of the instructors who played for a while with the Boston Bruins. (Sorry to mention that, Patty)

But you’re probably wondering why the title of this blog is “The Runaway Horse.” Well, sit on back little doggies and I’ll tell ya.

It seems hockey wasn’t all we did at this camp. I mean you can only play and practice hockey so many hours a day. I remember there was a pond. There were other summertime activities, like baseball or softball and maybe even a bit of soccer. But the highlight for me was that they owned a horse. (Great right. They could afford a horse, but not a damn Zamboni.) But I loved this horse. I can’t remember his name either, so let’s call him….Horse.

Well, one day I was taking a little ride on Horse and something went terribly wrong. The guy who prepared Horse’s dinner mistakenly rang the bell (this may have been a typical hockey prank) and old Horse heard the bell which, like Pavlov’s dogs set off his salivary glands) and Horse took off. So no longer was Horse trotting. No longer was horse walking calmly like a good horse usually does. Horse took off and started to gallop at a pace I can only compare to Secretariat’s speed in the final leg of the Kentucky Derby. And at 6 feet, I was no jockey. In fact, the only think I can honestly say I was…..is terrified. This was the fastest I’ve ever gone on any animal (including a camel) in my life. And this is what it looked like in my distorted mind:

Fortunately, the horses trainer saw what was happening, noticed the look of sheer horror on my face and said the secret word (all horses have secret words that mean something to them but not to us) which slowed the darn thing down to more of a…well….to a stop.

I got off and didn’t ride again for about 10 years. I went on to become a star hockey player, scoring the winning goal in the Stanley Cup Finals and I even let the horse’s real jockey pose for a photo with Lord Stanley’s cup.

And if you believe all that I have some synthetic ice that I’d like to sell you.

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Filed under Humor, My Stories, Sports

My Uncle Johnny’s Poem

I have an Uncle John and he was one of the funniest men I’ve ever met. He didn’t talk much. The truth is that my Aunt’s didn’t let him get too many words in, so that may account for his somewhat strange behavior at parties.

Every time we had a party and my Uncle Johnny was there he would get good and liquored up (probably needed the liquid courage), get the attention of the entire group gathered there that night, both adults and children and he would recite, to the astonishment of the gathered crowd – completely from memory, this poem.

I’d like to share the poem with you, not only because it made such a huge impression on a young boy growing up in Boston and being absolutely transfixed and in many cases scared out of my wits at a very young age. (Which reminds me of a great Tom Wait’s quote in which he says, “I was born at a very young age.)

You might even be familiar with the poem, it is called “The Cremation of Sam McGee” by Robert Service.

I offer it to you, my friends, in tribute to Johnny Coffee, who will probably outlast all my relatives, and so that you who have young children in your families might also enjoy hearing and being frightened beyond belief.

The Cremation of Sam McGee

by Robert W. Service

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Now Sam McGee was from Tennessee, where the cotton blooms and blows.
Why he left his home in the South to roam ‘round the Pole, God only knows.
He was always cold, but the land of gold seemed to hold him like a spell;
Though he’d often say in his homely way that “he’d sooner live in hell.”

On a Christmas Day we were mushing our way over the Dawson trail.
Talk of your cold! through the parka’s fold it stabbed like a driven nail.
If our eyes we’d close, then the lashes froze till sometimes we couldn’t see;
It wasn’t much fun, but the only one to whimper was Sam McGee.

And that very night, as we lay packed tight in our robes beneath the snow,
And the dogs were fed, and the stars o’erhead were dancing heel and toe,
He turned to me, and “Cap,” says he, “I’ll cash in this trip, I guess;
And if I do, I’m asking that you won’t refuse my last request.”

Well, he seemed so low that I couldn’t say no; then he says with a sort of moan:
“It’s the cursed cold, and it’s got right hold till I’m chilled clean through to the bone.
Yet ‘taint being dead—it’s my awful dread of the icy grave that pains;
So I want you to swear that, foul or fair, you’ll cremate my last remains.”

A pal’s last need is a thing to heed, so I swore I would not fail;
And we started on at the streak of dawn; but God! he looked ghastly pale.
He crouched on the sleigh, and he raved all day of his home in Tennessee;
And before nightfall a corpse was all that was left of Sam McGee.

There wasn’t a breath in that land of death, and I hurried, horror-driven,
With a corpse half hid that I couldn’t get rid, because of a promise given;
It was lashed to the sleigh, and it seemed to say: “You may tax your brawn and brains,
But you promised true, and it’s up to you to cremate those last remains.”

Now a promise made is a debt unpaid, and the trail has its own stern code.
In the days to come, though my lips were dumb, in my heart how I cursed that load.
In the long, long night, by the lone firelight, while the huskies, round in a ring,
Howled out their woes to the homeless snows—O God! how I loathed the thing.

And every day that quiet clay seemed to heavy and heavier grow;
And on I went, though the dogs were spent and the grub was getting low;
The trail was bad, and I felt half mad, but I swore I would not give in;
And I’d often sing to the hateful thing, and it hearkened with a grin.

Till I came to the marge of Lake Lebarge, and a derelict there lay;
It was jammed in the ice, but I saw in a trice it was called the “Alice May.”
And I looked at it, and I thought a bit, and I looked at my frozen chum;
Then “Here,” said I, with a sudden cry, “is my cre-ma-tor-eum.”

Some planks I tore from the cabin floor, and I lit the boiler fire;
Some coal I found that was lying around, and I heaped the fuel higher;
The flames just soared and the furnace roared—such a blaze you seldom see;
Then I burrowed a hole in the glowing coal, and I stuffed in Sam McGee.

Then I made a hike, for I didn’t like to hear him sizzle so;
And the heavens scowled, and the huskies howled, and the wind began to blow.
It was icy cold, but the hot sweat rolled down my cheeks, and I don’t know why;
And the greasy smoke in an inky cloak went streaking down the sky.

I do not know how long in the snow I wrestled with grisly fear;
But the stars came out and they danced about ere again I ventured near;
I was sick with dread, but I bravely said: “I’ll just take a peep inside.
I guess he’s cooked, and it’s time I looked;” . . . then the door I opened wide.

And there sat Sam, looking cool and calm, in the heart of the furnace roar;
And he wore a smile you could see a mile, and he said: “Please close that door.
It’s fine in here, but I greatly fear you’ll let in the cold and storm—
Since I left Plumtree, down in Tennessee, it’s the first time I’ve been warm.”

There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

# # # #

And so, Uncle Johnny, wherever you might be, I raise a glass to you and hope that you’ve found the warmth in your heart that you were looking for at those parties so long ago when I was just a child.

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Filed under Humor, My Stories, Poetry

Billionaires Agree To Donate Part Of Their Wealth…Sooner Or Later.

My fiancee Janet the star newspaper editor, who always has her pulse on the events of the day, mentioned this blurb to me today:

Billionaires To Donate Fortunes

The Sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett, said Wednesday he and 39 other of America’s wealthiest people have agreed to donate a bulk of their wealth to charity either during their lifetimes or upon their deaths. As DailyFinance’s Carrie Coolidge reports, the initiative, known as Giving Pledge, is a moral commitment to give, not a legal contract. “At its core, the Giving Pledge is about asking wealthy families to have important conversations about their wealth and how it will be used,” says Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway.

Well, that’s nice. Or rather, “It’s about damn time.”

Yes, these 40 rich men and potential thieves have finally come to their senses, or somehow been enlightened with a conscience. They have looked around them at all the stacks of cash, and thought long and hard about the many, many needy folks and charities in this world and decided they should give some of their riches back. I guess you only need a few billion to live quite comfortably in this lifetime. Of course, how would I know. I’ve never had the unceasing problems of having “too much money.” What a terrible burden that must be.

I was once interviewing a famous author who’s name shall not be mentioned at this point who unabashedly told me that he has more to worry about, now that he’s successful, than when he was a poor and struggling writer. Hogwash, I say!

Imagine the stress each and every awful day trying to decide what to invest in or what to buy – as compared to say the anguish that many Americans go through when faced with threatening letters from utilities or even worse, being tossed out of their own houses by the local government hacks, who probably in some cases get a ride out of it.

But I digress and may be missing the real point. This may be a step by these suddenly generous billionaires in the right direction. Maybe they are finally realizing the meaning of that passage in the bible about the camel, the rich man and the needle.

But this line from today’s news item struck me as a little ambiguous:

“America’s wealthiest people have agreed to donate a bulk of their wealth to charity either during their lifetimes or upon their deaths.”

I mean why aren’t these fat cats just doing the donating now, especially during a time in American history when it’s needed most? Somethings seems fishy in Denmark, or Switzerland or where ever these rich dudes keep their bars of gold bullion.

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Filed under Humor

Deconstructing Toto (the band, not the dog)

Today I thought I’d treat you to a real laugh, as short story writer, novelist and comedic talent Steve Almond takes apart, line by line, the song “Africa” by one of the truly bad bands of our time, Toto.

(Almond recently published a book called on the premise of whether or not Rock and Roll really has the ability to change your life. I’ve read a bit of it and it is very, very funny.)

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Filed under Humor, Music