Making People Feel Like Dummies: Swimming the Treacherous Waters of Sheldons

I’ve had some pretty memorable conversations at the checkout counter at Radio Shack:

  • “So you need a male-to-male connector…” (I was fourteen, buying some cables for my stereo–a bit startled by this apparent pickup line.)
  • “Can I please have your address?” (Perhaps another line, but I was just paying cash.)

And my favorite, when I was buying a 25-foot audio cable…

  • “May I ask what you’ll be using this for?”

The guy was implying that purchasing an audio cable to run video through a non-gold-plated triple-insulated cable may not only ruin the quality of my picture but perhaps offset the precarious balance of the Middle East peace talks.

“Thank you for shopping with us…dummy.”

Radio Shack has survived, somehow, by cornering … Read More…

Dumbed-Down Abbey: Mysterious Character Reboots for Season 4

In great peril from my family and friends, I write the following on a beloved, quality show…

To jump-the-shark is a term coined from the infamous Happy Days episode when the series started heading south. There aren’t many sharks, leather jackets or jukeboxes on the moors, but Downton Abbey could use an Inspiration Point.

Granted, Season Four is only a couple episodes old (here in the States), but a passenger can still not like the way that iceberg looks looming in the distance. In sit-coms, characters are two dimensional more than three.


You don’t expect Norm in Cheers  to suddenly weep into his beer because he misses … Read More…

Attack of the Teenage Snow-Day Zombies: Resuscitating the Watching Dead

We heard its slow steps trudging up from the cellar—one foot was obviously dragging.  I swear we could hear the drool splashing on the floorboards.  It snarled.  It hated the daylight—even cloud-covered sunshine deflected off the snow.  We stood in its way and we were going to pay for it…

“I was in the middle of an episode!” it roared.

You may have seen the snow-day zombies in your own home.  They’re easy to spot.  They still look a bit like those pictures on the wall

—but they’re meaner and generally have distinct characteristics.

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Dirty, standing-in-weird-places hair
  • Hunger so severe they don’t know they’re hungry anymore
  • Aggressive, attack-first tendencies
  • Extremely protective of their turf—namely, their remotes

It’s not quite the parking … Read More…

Mad Magazine’s 1976 Christmas Issue: Still Relevant, Still Memorized–Years Later

*Per a few requests, another omitted ditty was added below.  –Kevin 12/24/14

It was a Christmas party when my wife first called me “The King of Useless Information.” I fell into the trap and correctly answered the question, probably too quickly, “Who played Gopher on Love Boat?” Fred Grandy. Who didn’t know that??

But the title really had its roots in 1976, the year I began collecting Mad magazines as a fifth grader while waiting for my mom in the checkout at the A&P. Like my son’s favorite episodes of South Park, Family Guy and The Simpsons, each issue is a time capsule of current events and a cross-section of American culture and attitudes.

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All I Want for Christmas is Bronchitis: A Scrooge and Healthcare

I’m sure that Hell is a waiting room.  And I suspect that “Kelly and Michael” is on the TV there as well.

I’d been hedging my bets, waiting for the really nasty cold from ten days ago to fade away.  Two days off work, leaving me just three in my sick-bank (after 17 months on the new job) combined with 17 hours sleep per day and I thought I had it licked.

But the cough persisted through Day 6 and brought me to the real answer why Victorian homes had separate bedrooms for the husband and wife.  Antibiotics weren’t invented yet and the snoring/wheezing/coughing of one spouse would end in either exhaustion for the other–or murder charges.  So I moved down to our guest room … Read More…

Kid Rock, Costco and Paying Dues: Keeping First-Class Without Sacrificing Coach

An American buying a Lotto ticket seems a bit redundant. After all, in the millions of years of evolution (or few thousand years–depending on which Texas schoolbook you’ve got approved) what are the odds that you’ll be born in a century with indoor plumbing, electricity and fabric softener?

Then factor in that you’ll most likely not be born somewhere between the Atlantic and Pacific, north of the Rio Grande.  Instead you’ll land where 50% of the world is born–a place where you survive on $2.50 per day or less–or nearly three scratch-and-wins. (source)

So as you tsk-tsk high gas prices and the lawn-service guy who’s ripping you off (causing you to get so upset you nearly spill that $4 mocha) remember the cost of … Read More…

Divorce Court for Your Cable Provider: The Art of the Steal

Wouldn’t it be great if we could negotiate everything like a cable bill?  Try it the next time you’re in your doctor’s waiting room.

“That will be $148, Mr. Walsh,” says the cranky person behind the glass slidey-door.

“Hmmm…I’m not sure about that.”

“Hmmm?” she glances up from her computer.

“That’s right.  Hmmm.  You know, I think you might be overcharging me.”

“Sir, would you like me to sick a collection agency on you?”

“But $148 to have my kids’ acne examined?  And we had to wait an extra hour for that privilege.  Can you knock off twenty bucks because of the wait?”

“Sir, the doctor is very busy.”

“I’m sure he is.  Anyway, the zit-doc down the hall told me he’d look at my … Read More…

“The Returned,” A Great Show to Read — Even in French


TV is getting to be annoying.  Like never before, it interferes with our personal lives.  We have no time for our chores after work, for example.  Maybe we have to clean our kitchens, bathe our kids, even feed our kids, but there are just too many TV commitments.  Just last night, for example, I set out to make dinner for my three little ones, so I baked the chicken tenders, boiled the noodles, and then Almost Human debuted, followed by The Walking Dead, and then came The Talking Dead.  At 11 pm, I went to turn off the kitchen lights to … Read More…

An Important Halloween “Thriller”: From Music Videos to Music Films

It’s Halloween again, so it’s time to watch it:

But, watch.

I mean, really sit down and experience it all. Turn on that 480p, shut off the lights, grab a bag of popcorn and if you’re lucky enough to have a significant other, grab him or her too, sit down, and watch “Michael Jackson’s Thriller”. It’s one of the most incredible short films ever created, and its impact on pop culture can never be overstated. We view it every Halloween because it puts air in our tires. It gets us excited for horror films and candy and costumes and–dancing. But before it became a Halloween staple, it was the production that changed music videos and television and the role of the pop … Read More…

Too-Tidy? Breaking Bad’s 94%-Pure, True-Blue Conclusion


The reviews were in last Monday for the finale of Breaking Bad and some cried:  “It’s too tidy.  It’s too neat.  The rest of the show wasn’t like this.” 

It was the polar opposite of the terrible “But-They-Were-All-Dead-All-Along” finale of Lost.  It had no irritating fade to black with Tony’s knowing smile as he sees his daughter or a hit-man in The Sopranos

Sure, Walter White didn’t wake up beside Suzanne Pleshette like the end of The Newhart Show, but the ending of Breaking Bad was completely satisfying because it was so neat–as precise as Walt’s nearly pure blue meth.

Marty Robbins’ classic “El … Read More…

Post-Season Tigers: Ethical Crossroad for Detroit Fans (Moral-less)


Tonight the Tigers give it another try.  Under Jim Leland, they’ve been to the post-season many times and twice been to the World Series–crushed by the Cardinals in ’06 and crushed by the Giants last year.  It’s a battle of the big-dough, Little Caesar’s fortune against Billy Bean’s rummage-sale sabremetrics (although he’s never publicly endorsed the scheme).

Poor Mike Ilitch (a phrase not heard often), born just four months before the stock market crash, has had to endure plenty of Great Depressions.  He transformed the 1970’s Red Wings from a group outdrawn at Joe Louis Arena by the Ice Capades into the Yankees of … Read More…

Thanking Two Men I’d Forgotten to Thank 30 Years Ago: Mr. Denstaedt and Mr. Wentz


After attending 25 years of high school graduation ceremonies, it finally dawned on me as I sat in my robe and was thanked by grateful students and their parents–I really didn’t deserve such nice seats.

Compared, to the folks who were really responsible for the pomp and circumstance, my hourly contribution was minimal.  Elementary teachers put in the long hours and are stuck with the kids all day long.  Middle school teachers are fighting the two-headed dragon of hormones and immaturity in a short, nasty body that hasn’t often developed a soul yet.

Within two days, Clawson lost two of its icons–John Denstaedt and Bill Wentz.  … Read More…

Abilify’s Bathrobe: The Joe Camel of Anti-Depressants


The first time I saw the Abilify ad, I thought Saturday Night Live’s monologue had just finished.  There was no way it was serious…

I am fortunate not to suffer from the crippling effects of depression, but when I saw this cartoon, I felt insulted for the millions who do.  It’s tough enough to have to admit that you’re at the mercy of this syndrome but to have a pharmaceutical company display its complexities with an animated bathrobe, like a possessed Linus’s blanket, is wrong.

Not only does it perpetuate the “loafer/just get out of the house” stereotype of depressed people remaining in … Read More…

Cyber Schools–What the FAQ? A Union Goon’s Tea Party Question Reveals New British Taxation (with Podcast)


Podcast of interview with Kevin about this post by Night Shift’s radio host, Tony Trupiano (WDFN Detroit, AM 1130).  (Begins at 1:40)

If Columbus explored as much as the Detroit Free Press, he’d have never left that dock in southern Spain.

In a  “Free Press-Release” yesterday by Lori Higgins, “Michigan Students to Have Many Options for Online Learning,” we learn of the many choices that Michigan students now have to their education via online learning following the passage of Senate Bill 619.  I had high hopes that I’d finally learn a little more about the companies that are running these schools (if … Read More…

Life Epicenters: Where Are Your Memories Formed?

It’s not normal, I suppose, to think of Cher at one’s high school reunion.   One of my favorite seeming non-sequitors in movies is from Moonstruck, when her Oscar-winning Loretta informs her dad Cosmo that she’s got to tell him something important.

“Let’s go to the kitchen,” says Cosmo.


I’ve seen it dozens of times at household parties, the living room and dining room are empty, and the 12×18 kitchen has 24 people in it.  We had a joke growing up that the only room in the house that had no life to it was the living room.  I still remember sticking to plastic … Read More…

From Russia With Hate: Not Tuning-In 2014 Winter Olympics

The following was originally posted on Joe’s blog at this link.


If you follow my blog you know that I rarely comment on current events and mostly am guilty of reminiscent wool gathering. I have also stated that I am not content just writing about the timeline of our marriage.

But, what is going on in Russia needs to be addressed now and regularly until the Winter Games and beyond. The persecution of LGBT people in Russia is horrifyingly similar to the gradual evolution of the Jewish holocaust led by Vladimir Putin an ex-KGB thug.  He knows what he is doing. Find a … Read More…

Watching The Fish-Slapping Dance: An Unbiased Examination of British TV in America by an Anglophile

Brit tv 

I was the smug little kid who was laughing about the “fish-slapping dance” before anyone in my class had even heard of Monty Python’s Flying Circus. I was 11, and I was hooked by the crazy, absurd imagination in that show, by the accents, and of course, by the fact that no one else had heard of them. I watched The Benny Hill Show, but everyone had heard of that, so I stuck my nose up and moved on to The Young Ones.  In college, it was Doctor Who.  Now, I smugly gear up to watch the first episode of Broadchurch. 

Yes, it’s true.  I’m … Read More…

Breaking Bad-Ass: AMC–the Michael Corleone of Cable TV


It’s hard to decide what’s more cold-blooded–Walter White’s slow-decline into Hell or the transformation of AMC?

This weekend, Breaking Bad and Hell on Wheels continue new bloodbaths on the same network that endeared us all to the old-man-in-the-fake-livingroom-introducing-the -movies.  In Detroit, the folksy host of my childhood afternoons was Bill Kennedy, a b-movie actor who was known for such great appearances as, “the guy out of the submarine hatch, just before Cary Grant climbs out.”  He’d read letters during the breaks, tell war-stories then press the play button again.

When cable TV hit my neighborhood in the early 1980s, I couldn’t believe that there was … Read More…

Jose or Jhonny? A Choice Between Right and Braun

 Let me show you what is probably the only defining baseball moment for Detroiters—surely my generation of Detroiters—to come out of the mid to late 90’s:

If you can look past the fact that Frank Beckmann was a part of this, it’s a pretty incredible moment. The scene is the last game ever to be played at historically legendary Tiger Stadium. One of the only bright spots in a dismal baseball future, Robert Fick, steps up to the plate with the bases loaded. With one swing of the bat, Fick immortalizes himself in baseball history, hitting a grand slam off of the roof—the ultimate send off to every Michigander’s favorite sports venue. He’s wearing Norm Cash’s number, and Frank reminds us that … Read More…

The Contagiousness of a Happy Couple: True Story or Con-Job (or Doesn’t It Matter?)

I’ve seen it three times today and I could see it another 12 more times before I go to sleep. 

So it’s been seen already 17 million times by the rest of the world–I’m a little slow!

I was totally exhausted this morning and trying hard to wake up when I saw the link to this Tonight Show video on my friend’s Facebook page.

And, as expected, if it seems too good to be true…

Out came the speculators that it was staged.

And a blog that gave folks another reason to hate Jay Leno.

It’s the same debate I’ve had with myself a hundred times.  When the headlines hit, can I separate the work from the artist?

Read More…