Archive for the ‘Random Encounters’ Category

So I stopped at a gas station today to fill up the Jeep. While there I mosied inside to grab a pop for myself and a Slim Jim for the Spark. As I was grabbing my stuff, I proceeded to witness the following bizarre exchange between the lady at the counter and a older, hunched over geezer on a mission:

Geezer: “Where’s yer Zagnuts?”

Lady: “My what?”

Geezer: “Yer Zagnuts!”

I mean, this guy was speaking really loudly.

Lady: “Sir, we don’t carry . . .”

Geezer: “ZAGNUT! I WANT A ZAGNUT!”

Man, I gotta tell ya, this guy really wanted a Zagnut. Bro was unhinged. He was yelling now, and he hadn’t walked in there for a Baby Ruth, a Milky Way, nor a Butterfinger. Dude wanted a Zagnut and he wanted one now.

Lady, showing extraordinary patience: “Sir, we don’t have Zagnuts. I don’t even know what they are.”

Geezer: “How in the HELL could anyone not know what a Zagnut is? They’re ZAGNUTS!”

At this point the lady was totally confused as to what to do, and actually seemed a little frightened. So, being the gentleman I am, I tried to help:

Hey buddy, how about some Goobers? Goobers are good.”

At that point the old dude glared at me, made a noise that sounded like somebody stepped on a baby squirrel, turned, stormed out the door, got into his 1981 Chrysler Cordoba and squealed out of the lot, presumably on a quest for the elusive Zagnut.

Me? Although I had to pay for my pop, the Spark got a free Slim Jim. Damn Sparky always seems to come out ahead, and he’d stayed in the car.

But man, I’d never seen anybody so intent on getting a Zagnut.

PS- Do they even make Zagnuts anymore?

PPS- I looked it up. They do.

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bearshopSigh.

Once again I’ve had a run-in with a weird shopper. Here’s what went down . . .

So I travel up to the Tanger Outlets, a mall near where I live here in Southern Ohio. The mall gets shoppers from Cincinnati, Dayton and Columbus and sort of sits in the middle of all three cities. I went up to look for a sporty winter coat, and I scored a sweet Adidas number that was perfect for the price. Adidas is having a helluva sale by the way. Anyhoo, before I found my coat I was in the Nike store looking for the same thing. At one point I spotted something I thought I might like, so I took off the coat I had on, a leather jacket, and hung it on the side of a nearby rack. Not on a hanger, mind you, just over the end of one of the rods the hangers hang on. On a related note, man was that was an awkward sentence.

So I try the coat on, take a gander in the mirror and realize it wasn’t for me. I then put the coat back on its hanger, turn around, reach for my coat . . . and it wasn’t there.

Actually it was there, but not where I left it. That’s because it was on some bro’s back. Yep, you guessed it.

Some guy was wearing my coat. 

Said bro was admiring himself in the same mirror I’d just used, doing the little spin-move pirouette thingy as he checked out his look. I gazed bemusedly at the dude for a second, wondering #1, what would be the proper response in this situation, and #2, how in the hell did he think that well-worn non-sporty Nike Swooshless coat would be sold in a Nike store?

I guess I should have simply said something along the lines of, “Hey, that’s my coat” but that seemed sort of unoriginal. Instead this conversation commenced:

“You like that coat?”

“Yeah, I think I do. What do you think?”

“I like it a lot. Because it’s mine.”

“Haha! Honestly, I think I’m buying it.”

“Haha! No you’re not. It’s mine. Seriously. My cell phone’s in that pocket right there. So’s my money clip. Take it off.”

At that point the guy pats the pocket I’m pointing to, freezes with a look of shock for a second, then proceeds to shuck my coat with the speed of an electron.*

*Electrons are fast.

My coat was then handed back to me along with an abundance of apologies of which I accepted graciously. Well, graciously for me anyway. I may or may not have muttered “idiot” at one point under my breath, but that’s neither here nor there.

Before I left though, I had to ask:

“If you really like this coat I’ll sell it to you for $200.”

Dude thought for a minute, then said “No thanks, man. Appreciate the offer though.”

Then, since it was the holidays, “$150?” Hey, I was feeling all Christmasy and whatnot.

“Mmmm, no thank you.”

Alright man. Have a good Christmas.

“You too.”

Then he walked away.

What can I say? Just another weird shopping encounter for yours truly.

PS – The guy actually made a smart move. I’d seen the same coat at Wilson’s Leather Store for $89.99. 

PPS – I hated myself for a few minutes, but it passed. Merry Christmas!

 

 

Shopping Adventures!

Posted: December 16, 2016 in Humor, Random Encounters
Tags:

For reasons unknown to me I’ve had several weird and inexplicable encounters with nutcases whilst shopping, both for food and otherwise. Somebody asked me to repost one, but he couldn’t remember the title. He just recalled it took place at the store. Because of this I decided to run all the stuff I’ve written about odd shopping encounters. Let’s get right to it . . .

MY ENCOUNTER WITH THE FROZEN FOOD NAZI

For some reason, the weirdest things seem to happen to me. Oddballs seem to be drawn to me, and I know not why. Perhaps I don’t want to know, amirite?

Anywho, today I had to run some errands and at one point ended up in The Krog, a supermarket here in southern Ohio sometimes referred to as Krogers. As I was checking out the frozen food section (Michelina’s was on sale, 10 items for $10, a helluva deal for a bachelor like myself), I noticed out of the corner of my eye a woman staring at me from about 10-feet away. For a gentleman of dashing good looks such as myself, this is not unusual. However, in this case the lady looked a little, well, upset.

What horrendous deed had I committed? Had she seen me eat that grape in the fruit aisle? Being the aggressive shopper that I am, had I cut her off over in Milk & Dairy? I had no idea.

At that point I she began walking towards me. I sensed trouble. That’s when the following conversation commenced:

Lady: “Can I give you some advice?”

Me: “Sure, I guess. What’s up?”

Lady: “If you stand there with the door open the windows fog over. Then the next person can’t see the food. It’s sort of rude.”

You know, I try to be as courteous as possible with people. I open doors for folks, let people cross the street in front of me, stuff like that. But in all my life it has never occurred to me that I shouldn’t hold the door open too long in the frozen food section of a grocery store.

Me: “Why can’t they just open the door like I do? It’s not that hard.”

Then I proceeded to open and close the door approximately 10-times, smiling maniacally while never taking my eyes off the lady. I don’t really know why I did this, other than the fact that she’d thrown in that “It’s sort of rude” comment at the end and it pissed me off. It was unnecessary and uncalled for, damn it.*

*That’s called rationalizing your sarcastic and belligerent behavior, folks. Hey, at least I recognize my faults.

The lady just sort of stormed off in a huff, but our story wasn’t over. Later on, as I was at the self-checkout station, I sensed somebody over my shoulder. Sure enough, it was the Frozen Food Nazi . . .

Lady: “May I ask you a question?”

Me: “You just did.”

Because you know, I’m quick like that.

Lady: “Seriously, this has been bothering me since I spoke to you earlier. Are you somebody?”

Huh? Am I somebody? What the hell is that supposed to mean? Isn’t everybody somebody? So I said the first thing that came to mind:

Me: “Yes I am.”

Then I grabbed my bags and walked way. But guess what? My experience with the Frozen Food Nazi still wasn’t over.

In the parking lot, as I was opening my car door, I hear this from a few cars away:

“I’m so sorry! I was the rude one! It was none of my business!”

Seems the Frozen Food Nazi had seen the light. I just waved and got in my Jeep.

You can’t make this stuff up, folks.

MORE NUTS AT THE SUPERMARKET

I swear to God the crazy people watch me, wait for me to leave, and follow me to get groceries.

Not really relevant, but I liked the photo.

Not really relevant, but I liked the photo.

Today this actual conversation took place between me and a tiny, wild-eyed, blue haired lady as I passed her in the frozen food aisle (it always seems to be the frozen food aisle):

Lady: “You’re going in the wrong direction.” 

At first I thought maybe she was critiquing my life choices, you know, telling me I was headed directly to hell or something. Then I realized she meant literally.

Me, looking around: “Huh?”

Lady: “You’re going in the wrong direction. You’re supposed to start in Aisle 1 and work your way around. You’re going backwards.”

Say what? I reached my age without knowing this vital piece of information? That there’s an unwritten code amongst shoppers that requires directional shopping skills? How have I survived all this time without a major accident? Here I’ve been running willy-nilly and haphazardly around the grocery store like a madman, oblivious to this supermarket decree. Hell, it’s a miracle I haven’t had some horrific head-on shopping cart collision with Cheez Whiz, Cheez-Its and body parts flying everywhere. Good God, man.

At that point I just said this:

“Hey, I’m a rebel. I follow my own set of rules.”

Then I rolled proudly away in the wrong direction, head held high.

In other news, I’m thinking of looking into one of those online grocery delivery sites.

Note: At my Brocery Store (coming soon to a city near you), shoppers may go in any direction they want.

IF THIS SHOPPING LIST IS WRONG I DON’T WANNA BE RIGHT

So I went to The Krog today to pick up some groceries, and as always I was paying up at the self-checkout terminal. I like the self-checkout because I don’t have to, you know, interact with a human being.

Anyway, as I was scanning my stuff I noticed a young lady next to me glancing over from time-to-time. And then she said, “You sure have an interesting selection there.” 

Huh? And the way she smugly said “interesting” led me to believe she meant “odd.”

My first impulse was to tell her to mid her own business, but instead I just muttered, “Really? O.K.”

I mean, I almost felt like apologizing for my grocery selections. I was perplexed and still am. With that in mind, I shall now show you my grocery list and then you can tell me if it is weird or not.

Here we go . . .

2-Big K Diet Orange Colas, 2-liter

1-Package, Charmin Bathroom Tissue

1-Bottle Kroger Brand Aspirin

1-Container Kraft 100% Grated Parmesan Cheese

1-Box Cheez-Its

3-Packages Heritage Farm Lean Thinly-Sliced Turkey

5-Packages Heritage Farm Lean Thinly-Sliced Ham

5-Packages Heritage Farm Lean Thinly-Sliced Beef

5-Packages Heritage Farm Lean Thinly-Sliced Chicken

1-Tub Cesar Savory Delights Dog Food, Angus Beef w/Bacon & Cheese Flavor

1-Tub Cesar Savory Delights Dog Food, Filet Mignon Flavor

1-Tub Cesar Savory Delights Dog Food, Grilled Steak & Eggs Flavor

1-Tub Cesar Savory Delights Dog Food, Roast Beef Flavor

1-Tub Cesar Savory Delights Dog Food, Ham & Egg Flavor

1-Tub Cesar Savory Delights Dog Food, Filet Mignon Flavor w/Bacon & Potato

1-Tub Cesar Savory Delights Dog Food, Rotisserie Chicken Flavor

1-Tub Cesar Savory Delights Dog Food, Grilled Chicken w/Spring Vegetables Flavor

1-Tub Cesar Savory Delights Dog Food, Portehouse Steak w/Peas & Carrots Flavor

5-Cans Beneful Dog Food, Mediterranean Medley

5-Cans Beneful Dog Food, Tuscan Style Medley

So, I ask you. Is that a grocery list that should illicit rude stares in the supermarket? I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. Sure, it could possibly be construed as leaning a little heavily on the dog food side, but what the hell.

Wait . . . could she have possibly thought I was down and out and buying dog food for myself? Dog food, lean meats . . . and I was dressed rather shabbily today.

You know, now that I look at the list it does look like something a guy living under a bridge would buy.

Never mind.

PS – The sliced meats are for Sparky too. He likes them mixed-up in his dog food. What can I say? Unconditional love has no price.

GROCERY SHOPPING RANT OF THE DAY

My problems with supermarkets have been well documented on this site, be itparm running into weirdos or not being able to find something. Hell, I even came up with the ultimate solution in my acclaimed blog Introducing the Brocery Store.

Anyhoo, once again I was at The Krog today when I ran into an issue that’s perplexing, bewildering, befuddling, confusing and flummoxing. It’s a question that begs to be answered, and in fact I demand that it be answered:

WHY IN THE HELL IS THE PARMESAN CHEESE NOT WITH THE OTHER CHEESES?

Seriously, are we discriminating against Parmesan cheese because you can sprinkle it on stuff? Is it not hardy and solid enough? Hey, Swiss cheese is full of holes and it gets to hang with the big boys. So does shredded cheese for Lord’s sake. Yes, you read that right – the shredded Parmesan cheese is with the main cheeses and the sprinkle Parmesan cheese is not. The earth just tilted on its axis, and somewhere an old woman reading this fell over dead from cardiac arrest.

I swear to God I stood in the cheese section for 10-minutes looking for my beloved Parmesan cheese, only to be told by a passing shelf-stocker that it was over with the noodles. Say what? Outrageous.

In conclusion, whoever made this Parmesan cheese decision can go straight to hell.

cheeselover

And sometimes things happen when I’m shopping for other stuff too . . .
AN INCIDENT AT THE MALL

So I’m up at Polaris Mall awhile back doing some shopping when I spotted somebody with whom I once taught. It was a woman I knew pretty well, so I thought I’d have some fun with her.

She had her back turned and was sorting through some merchandise, so she was ripe for the pickin’ if you will. I maneuvered my way around the mannequins and racks of clothing, creeping up on her like a mall ninja. As I did, I put up the hood of my coat. You know, to enhance the effect.

As I crept closer, I considered my options. Just say “Boo!”? Grab her from behind? Nah, that might be too traumatizing. I finally decided to just get real close and whisper, “H-e-l-l-o-o-o-o-o-o-o . . .” in the creepiest way possible and enjoy her reaction.

I know, weird, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Anyway, when I got to within about a foot of her I unleashed my “H-e-l-l-o-o-o” and waited for the hilarity to ensue.

As she whirled around, a shriek could be heard throughout the mall.

And it came from me.

Because the woman I’d sprung my sneak attack on was not the woman I knew. Yep, I’d just scared the bejesus out of a complete stranger.

Seriously, I have no idea who screamed louder, me or her. From somewhere behind me, a baby wailed.

My unintended victim backpedaled away, her hands up in self-defense and her mouth agape. All I could do was back up myself, put up my own hands to show her I possessed no weapons, and profusely try and explain this terrifying case of mistaken identity.

Yeah, she wasn’t listening. At this point she was too busy yammering on about security or something, although I couldn’t be sure. It was really hard to understand her with all the weeping and whatnot.

Rather than wait for the authorities and try to describe my actions, I made the prudent decision to vamoose. I scrammed. Actually it was more of a speed-walk out of Macy’s and into the throng of mall shoppers. I believe I passed a mall cop on a Segway speeding in the opposite direction at one point. And I may or may not have hid in the middle of one of those circular dress racks for a few minutes, but that’s neither here nor there.

But damn, from behind she sure looked like someone I knew.

From the front?

Not so much.

Many of you have read about my serendipitous encounters with rock stars and monkees_leadtheir ilk, most notably David Crosby, Todd Rundgren, Jeff Lynne, and Beck. Hey, I even shared a cold brew with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith on one memorable occasion.

There’s another encounter I had, however, that didn’t occur face-to-face, but rather over the phone. Here’s what happened . . .

Back in the late 70’s I was perusing the back of Rolling Stone magazine and came across an interesting little ad. It was in regards to The Monkees, the wildly popular band from the 60’s that had pretty much disappeared over the prior decade or so. Hey, but at one point Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Michael Nesmith were household names. They even had a TV show and everything.

Anyway, the ad basically said something along the lines of, “Wonder what the Monkees have been up to? Call this number to get a rundown on their latest activities!” It then explained that you’d be connected to a recording that would fill you in.

Being a big 60’s music guy I was sort of interested to see what the boys had been up to, so I thought what the hell? I’ll give the number a call.

Remember kids, this was before the internet and to get information you had to, you know, work for it and whatnot.

I dialed and was listening to the phone ringing on the other end when I got a surprise – somebody answered! What the hell?

Being the witty guy that I am, I said the first thing that came to mind:

“Who is this?”

“Who’s THIS?”

“Well, I was trying to call the Monkee’s hotline to see what was going on. I found it in an ad in The Rolling Stone.”

“Oh yeah. You called the right number. The recording is down so I went ahead and answered.”

At this point I figure I’m talking to some secretary or something and am ready to hang up. But then . . .

MikeNesmithmikenesmith2954698312801623“What do you want to know? This is Michael.”

Wait. Michael? As in Michael Nesmith?

Yep. Sure enough was. The one who always wore the skull cap, or toboggan if you will. Long story short he filled me in on everything, from Davey Jones and his work on Broadway to Peter Tork’s addiction problems. But what has stood out over the years, though, was what Nesmith told me he was doing:

“Yeah, I’m really into making music videos. That’s going to be the next big thing.”

Huh? Music videos? Why the hell would anyone want to watch that? I had no idea what he was talking about. Of course, MTV started a couple years later and everything became clear to me.

And Michael Nesmith? He ended up producing, among others, the music video for the Lionel Richie single “All Night Long” and the Michael Jackson single “The Way You Make Me Feel”.

Music videos? Who knew?

Turns out Michael Nesmith did.

This was a quick encounter but special nonetheless since it involved one of myTodd Rundgren musical heroes, Mr. Todd Rundgren, once known as “Runt.” Read on . . .

I was casually walking through City Center in C-Bus a few years ago (City Center was a cool mall, amirite?) when I literally ran into a musical legend. My hands flew to my face as I yelled this:

“TODD RUNDGREN!”

Because I’m quick like that, ya know? Immediately his hands flew to his face as he responded:

“YES!”

Bastard was mocking me.

Anyway, after a couple minutes of my blathering on about his music and what it meant to me and him realizing not only that I wasn’t a lunatic but I in fact knew what I was talking about, we had quite the in-depth conversation about the state of music in general. Finally, I moved on to get a corndog and he left for parts unknown.

And that was my brief encounter with Todd Rundgren. Nice life-moment for me, I must admit.

Aerosmithpic29

Yeah. Those guys.

Back around 1978 Aerosmith was on a bit of a downward spiral. Something about drug addictions and whatnot. Anyway, it was after “Dream On” but before the album “Permanent Vacation” marked their return to prominence. A friend of mine was a regional roadie, one of those guys who doesn’t travel with the bands but works a certain area where he helps set up shows and the like. Well, he had backstage passes to Aerosmith and asked if I wanted one.

Well, yeah.

I watched the show (not so good actually – something about drug addictions and whatnot) then headed backstage for the festivities. I don’t really know how to explain it other than saying it’s exactly what you’d expect it to be. Lots of girls, drugs, alcohol, and things I didn’t recognize and haven’t seen since. Rock and Roll decadence at its highest form. Back in those days I blended right in. My hair was as long as theirs and I looked like a taller Charley Manson, minus the God complex and murderous intentions (well, maybe just the God complex).

I worked my way over to Steven Tyler and struck up a conversation, probably saying something witty and insightful like “nice show” which incidentally would have been a complete lie. He looked at me through glazed-over eyes and offered me a beer (for the record, it was a Stroh’s – dead serious). One thing led to another and I ended up on a couch sitting between Tyler and Joe Perry.

Kids, there once existed a picture of me, between those two, all three of us holding up a beer for the camera with half-crazed smiles on our faces. Later, in one of the dumbest moves of my life, I gave the picture to a girl I was dating, who displayed it proudly on her apartment wall. Sadly, when we had an ugly break-up, she hit me where it hurt most – she burned the picture.

For years I waited for her to show up and say she had really kept the picture, then hand it to me with a smile. That moment never happened, but there’s still hope, right? Right?

Damn it.

For some reason I’ve had more than my share of random encounters with ojaysfamous people over the years, both from the rock world and elsewhere. Hell, I was once standing at an airport urinal, looked to my right, and there stood Mr. Soupy Sales. For you kids under 50 out there Mr. Sales was Peewee Herman before Peewee Herman was Peewee Herman. Sort of. Anyway, my friends seem to enjoy hearing about these random encounters of mine so I thought I’d share them from time-to-time.

It happened when my late friend Jigger and I were heading to Vegas back in the early ’90s. You’ve got to remember that I’ve always been quite the Motown/Philly Sound fan and am pretty knowledgeable about a lot of the groups of that genre.

We’d been in the air for a few minutes when I thought I recognized a guy a couple of rows in front of me. Was that Eddie Levert of The O’Jays? I loved The O’Jays!

What the hell, I thought. I went up and sat by him (keep in mind there were only about 30-people on the plane). Sure enough, it was Levert and the rest of the group along with about eight roadies sitting here and there. Throwing caution and common sense to the wind,  I started singing “Love Train” and begging the guys to join in. What can I say? I was overcome with joy at meeting the O’Jays and I’d never have this chance again.

Long story short, in a few minutes all three O’Jays were singing backup to yours truly on lead vocal. One of the guys (Walter Williams possibly) actually got up in the aisle and was doing the dance moves as I stood and sang beside him. Surreal. About halfway through I forgot the words and Levert took over. I then attempted to join the dancing but failed miserably, to the delight of the crowd.

I then took a theatrical bow with the group as the crowd went wild (at least in my memory), the stewardesses applauded and Jigger sat there shaking his head. I believe I even followed up by trying to start a rousing rendition of “Backstabbers” but my moment had passed. The group got off at our stopover in Minneapolis, bro hugs were shared all around, and they went on their way. To this day I can’t watch that Coors commercial and hear “Love Train” without getting a big grin on my face. If only camera phones were in existence back then. Damn.

By the way, my buddies The O’Jays were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2004. I wonder if they remember me . . .

His life was in my hands.

A few years ago I had a rather interesting experience involving Beck. Here’s how it went down.

A buddy of mine used to work for a company in C-Bus that provided concert workers. You know, to take tickets, stuff like that. He asked if I’d be interested in working one of the shows and I said sure, what the hell, might be fun. So, he talks to the folks in charge and they make the approval. Didn’t know me from Adam but that didn’t seem to bother them. A couple of weeks later I get the call – Beck is playing Veteran’s Auditorium and they needed extra workers. Cool. I mean, at the time Beck was one of the biggest rock stars on the planet, a darling of the critics. Anyway, we get there, are given the yellow T-shirts with Security on the back, and then the head guy comes in to assign jobs.

He goes down the line, grabs my buddy and his wife, and tells them they’ll be assigned rows to help people get seated. Awesome. They’d get to stand there and watch the show. He looks me up and down and says, “I’ll need you in the back” then walks away. Damn. My friend looks at me and says, “Sorry dude. Looks like you’re out at the back door or back gate or something. Sorry you won’t get to see the show.”

Oh well. I took a shot, right?

Finally the guy comes back for me and says to follow him. I do and we end up in the “back”, as in “backstage.” He says, “I want you to stand right here. Under no circumstances do you let anybody through this door.” I look up at the door that says “Beck” on it and ask rather wittily, “You want me to guard Beck’s dressing room?”

And he sure enough did.

Just me, who’d never guarded anything in his life, as the only thing between Beck and the hordes of lunatics wanting a piece of him.

I stood there for a couple hours trying to look menacing, the opening act started, and finally some guy walks out the door – Beck’s drummer. He sits on the floor across the hallway from me and we proceed to shoot the breeze. A few minutes later another band member comes out and sits down as well. Long story short, pretty soon the whole band was out there, including the man himself, Beck, and his three backup singers.

I eventually sit down because they asked me to and I figured it was OK. The only time I froze for a sec was when the drummer asked me what I was currently listening to. I really didn’t want to look like an idiot so I said The Eels. I breathed a sigh of relief as that answer was met with approving nods all around. Sweet. At that point I believed, perhaps irrationally, that I’d earned instant credibilty.

Eventually they all went back inside to get ready, and upon their return I was invited to stand at the side of the stage and watch the show. Very cool. To top off my evening, afterwards Beck requested that I escort him safely to the bus, which I did. Dude must have thought I was a trained professional or something.

Maybe the best part was later, when I met up with my friend and he asked how it was in the back. “Well,” I said. “Let me tell you about it . . .”

Originally published on November 12th, 2012.

My regular readers will know that I have a habit of running into famous people, most crosbynotably rock stars and their ilk. In fact, sometimes their ilk are more fun than the rock stars, if you know what I’m sayin’. My encounter with Soupy Sales in a Cleveland Airport bathroom is legendary, but that’s been blogged to death already. Anyway, here’s another of my many rock star run-ins.

It was late summer 1999, and I was in Cleveland with my late, great, good friend Tim to see the Cleveland Browns open their new stadium. We were staying at the Renaissance downtown and I rose early on the day of the game to go down to the lobby and find a drink newspaper. As I was heading down, the elevator doors opened and a guy with shades stepped in and leaned against the wall opposite me. After about 30-seconds of awkward staring from me and nervous avoiding eye-contact from him, the following conversation transpired:

Me: “Man, you look just like David Crosby.”

David Crosby: “Mmrumph.”

Me: “You are David Crosby, aren’t you?”

David Crosby: “Yep.”

Encouraged, I babbled on for a few minutes about his music. At some point I think I wore him down and he realized I actually appreciated and knew his work. I believe that because he proceeded to open up and actually began a nice, intelligent conversation with me regarding the state of rock music, as it was, in 1999.  The fact that I may have mentioned him providing the sperm for Melissa Etheridge’s successful attempt at motherhood didn’t seem to bother him at all. Hell, at one point I didn’t think I was going to get rid of him. He finally walked with me through the lobby, wrote me a nice note and autograph, and actually gave me a bear hug that went on j-u-s-t a smidge too long before he left.

All in all a nice, albeit somewhat weird, encounter that I’ll never forget.

Anyway, David Crosby and I?

Buds.

Originally published on April 25th, 2012.

Quite simply the greatest nature video of all-time. Un-be-lievable.

Battle-Kruger-1

Originally published on July 12th, 2012.

I had an encounter with someone the other 2202dbbb4a06dc51811515c498b907c7dbday who I hadn’t seen in awhile. As a little background information for my non-local readers, I used to coach high school basketball here in Southern Ohio back in the 90’s. Since then I’ve never left basketball, coaching AAU, being the National Coach for a team from the Caribbean as well as doing some work for some major college programs. I was also an Athletic Director at the high school and (very) small college levels. I tell you that because it’s relative to my story. Anyway, this lady asked what I was up to and here’s the conversation that transpired:

Me: “You haven’t heard? I’m back coaching basketball at PV. I was hired a couple months ago.”

Lady, cocking head and looking at me quizzically: “Really? Isn’t that a step backward?”

Me: [awkward stare]

Lady: “Well, good for you.”

So I got a good laugh out of it and recounted the story on Facebook. I hadn’t really given it much thought, but some of the responses were very nice. One person remarked that I’m lucky to be doing what I love and another said it’s never a step backwards when you’re helping kids. To be honest it never occurred to me for a second that it was a backwards move or that anybody would see it that way. The bottom line is I love it, and the minute I stepped foot in Donald E. Anderson Memorial Gymnasium I knew it was the right decision.

So, to the point of this blog. I’d like to throw out a question and see what kind of responses I get. What is the most inappropriate or rude thing anyone has ever said to you?

This should be good.

So yesterday I was in Kroger’s (or The Krog as it’s known to the cool kids) when I ran into a friend.1a We chatted for a minute, he asked about my son Kip, and I mentioned that Kip and I had attended the Memorial Golf Tournament in Muirfield on Saturday. Anyway, we talked for a bit and I moved on. Then, however, I ran into a woman who wanted to talk. Here’s the conversation:

Lady: “I heard you talking to that man.”

Me, tentatively: “Uh . . . OK.”

You have to understand that I have a history of running into nutcases in the supermarket. I have no idea why.

Lady: “Did you watch Tiger Woods at that tournament?”

Me: “Yes.”

Lady: “You know why he’s so bad now?”

Me: “Well, he’s not bad, relatively speaking.”

Lady, ignoring my comment: “It’s because of those things he did. God is punishing him.”

Then she walked away.

Whew. I’m glad we got that straightened out. Apparently God was sitting up there watching Tiger’s shenanigan’s a few years ago, raised his hand, pointed down, and said this:

“Tiger, thou shalt not play golf well again.”

Because, you know, God didn’t have anything more important to do that day.

Note: Seriously, why do I run into crazy people at the supermarket?

Dramarama.

So I was at the drive-thru window tonight at Cristy’s Pizza in Chilly, picking up a delicious Italian Sub for dinner and a Calzone for Sparky. I’m kidding. Spark eats dog food. Usually. Anywho, as usual I’m playing music but I’d turned it down to talk to the window dude. I give him my name and he gets and gives me my chow, then he sticks his head way out the window . . .

Window Dude: “Hey, is that Dramarama?”

I was, in fact, listening to Dramarama, an early 90’s alt band that about 3-people in Ross County have heard of, and 2 of them are former students of mine.

Me, taken aback: “Damn straight.”

Window Dude: “I love that band. ‘Work for Food’ is a badass song.”

Me: “Oh yeah. Have you heard the acoustic version?”

Window Dude: “No way!”

Me: “It’s on their Greatest Hits CD after about a 5-minute silence following ‘Goin’ Blind.'”

Window Dude: “Are you shitting me?  I had that CD for 15-years and never let it play long enough to hear that.”

Me: “Yep. It’s on there.”

Window Dude: “The first thing I’m doing when I get home tonight is find that CD and give it a listen.”

At that point some asshat behind me started blowing his horn so we laughed and I pulled away smiling. It was nice to find a kindred spirit where I’d least expected it, and I’d given him a little musical nugget to boot.

I continued grinning all the way out of town and halfway home, happy to have met another Dramarama fan. It made me feel good.

Right up to the point I realized I’d forgotten to pay him.

Well, not for me. For some other poor soul though.

I swear I don’t try and get in these situations intentionally, I really don’t. That said, it seems to happen more and more often for some reason.

Today I pulled into the Valero’s to pick up some stuff. As I got out of my car I had a word with Sparky per usual, because he always wants to come with me. Basically, in a firm voice I said:

“Stay right there. Do not move.”

Then I shut the door and was immediately face-to-face with a guy in front of my car who was staying right there, and definitely not moving.

Oh good Lord.

He was passing in front of my car and thought I was talking to him. Dude thought he was getting robbed or something. I swear he was starting to put his hands up.

At that point I smiled and said, “No no, I was talking to my dog there in the car. Sorry man.”

After a couple seconds the guy laughed, gave an exaggerated wipe of his forehead and said, “Whew. I thought you were talking to me. You scared the hell out of me.”

Geez, I’m not that scary at 3:00 PM on a sunny Sunday afternoon, am I?

Am I?

Note: This is not the first time something like this has happened. I’m starting to get a complex.

Something/Anything?For those of you who are unaware, Todd Rundgren is one of the most underrated, underappreciated, and generally unknown to the mainstream musicians of the rock era (click on his name to see his amazing self-maintained website). He began his career as the leader of Nazz (they had 3 albums entitled Nazz, Nazz Nazz and Nazz III – Todd evidently cared little about catchy album titles), and he later recorded under the name of Runt.

An accomplished musician, Rundgren can play virtually every instrument. His style really can’t be classified, but it’s been said that his early 70’s stuff was an early form of power pop that was profoundly influenced by soul music and 60s rock, especially The Beatles and The Beach Boys. His music also featured sophisticated chord progressions unlike most songwriters of his day, or today for that matter. He sometimes demonstrated an interest in other genres as well, such as hard rock, progressive rock and experimental music. In other words Rundgren is all over the charts musically.

In the mid 70s he fronted another group on the side called Utopia that was more of an anthemic, progressive rock type of band. Rundgren is well-known in the biz as a great producer as well, having produced albums for Badfinger, The New York Dolls, Grand Funk, Meat Loaf (“Bat Out of Hell” no less), Cheap Trick, The Band, and scores of others. And oh yeah, his music video for “Time Heals” was one of the first to air on MTV. Suffice to say the cat’s been on the cutting edge of rock music for quite some time.

If I haven’t snagged your attention yet, maybe this will do it – Todd also produced music for both Pee Wee’s Playhouse and the movie Dumb and Dumber. Oh yeah, so NOW he’s cool, right?

My support for Todd’s induction into the Rock Hall has been well documented. I mean, ABBA’s in there? For realz? Have mercy.

Anyway, I tell you that to get to this – Rundgren’s 1972 masterpiece, Something/Anything? is simply one of the greatest albums in history. It’s a double album, and it came with some of the coolest liner notes I can remember. Liner notes are a thing of the past in this day and age of digital downloading, but trust me when I say there was nothing better than peeling the wrapper off a double album, opening it up like a book, and reading all the informational tidbits contained therein. It’s hard to get the same vibe with those digital “interactive booklets” that come with iTune album purchases, ya know?

On Something/Anything? Rundgren played every instrument on the first three sides. The fourth side was something entirely different but I’ll get to that shortly. The album contains a wide variety of music, from the pop musings of “Hello It’s Me” and “I Saw the Light” to the rockin’ “Some Folks is Even Whiter Than Me”, “Slut”, and “Wolfman Jack.” Throw in the whimsical “Piss Aaron” and the raunchy “You Left Me Sore” and “It Takes Two to Tango” and this album’s got it all.

The real treat for me, however, was the aforementioned side four. It consists of seven songs that were done straight through, live in studio, complete with false starts, goofing between songs, laughter, and general insanity. Imagine you’re sitting in the corner for 30-minutes listening to Rundgren and the band jam away. That’s what I did on many a cool summer night in the summer of ’72 and ofttimes since. Believe me when I say that it’s a must-listen for any true rock music aficionado.

Something/Anything? was ranked #173 on Rock’s Greatest All-Time Albums by Rolling Stone magazine. In my opinion they missed the mark by about 150 spots. With its mix of beautiful pop confection, pristine production, lighthearted sense of humor, live in-studio spontaneity, and flat-out rock and roll, this album has everything you need in one beautifully crafted musical masterpiece.

Here’s the album in its entirety. Let ‘er play . . .

Something/Anything? – Todd Rundgren

Note: I was casually walking through City Center in C-Bus a few years ago when I literally ran into the man himself. My hands flew to my face as I yelled, “TODD RUNDGREN!” Immediately his hands flew to his face as he responded, “YES!” Bastard was mocking me. After a couple minutes of my blathering on about his music and what it meant to me and him realizing not only that I wasn’t a lunatic but I in fact knew what I was talking about, we had quite the in-depth conversation about the state of music in general. Nice life-moment for me I must admit.

[Originally published on April 12th, 2012.]

Pain at the Pump

Posted: January 10, 2015 in Humor, Life, Random Encounters
Tags:

oops-road-sign-4204407Well, it could’ve been painful. Possibly. Under other circumstances.

I was pumping gas this morning when I saw one of my former students roll into the lot. He was on the passenger side and his girlfriend was driving. They pull into the pump on the other side of me and the girl hops out and starts pumping gas too.

Nothing to see here, all normal so far.

“So” and “far” being the operative words there.

You have to understand I had a good relationship with this student when he was in school. He came from a tough background and I was always giving him a hard time, pushing him and trying to help him make the right decisions. He always responded to tough talk, which is why I said the following:

“Hey, dumbass! You’re supposed to pump the gas for your girl. Why don’t you try being a gentleman for once?”

Hey, it was said with love. Sort of.

He was directly on the other side of the pump, so he couldn’t see me. I didn’t know if he’d recognize my voice, so I was wondering what his response would be. And then his girlfriend pops her head around the corner and says very loudly:

“I know, right? Listen to the man, Bobby! Be a man for once! A gentleman!”

Then her and I both laugh hysterically at Bobby’s expense. Wait . . .

Bobby?

The guy I knew wasn’t named Bobby.

Oh no.

Sure enough, I peek around the pump and there sat . . . some guy named Bobby.

He was looking at me with a combination of disgust, anger and confusion. Then, for reasons I can’t really explain, all I did was point at him, wink, and go back to pumping my gas.

An apology didn’t seem necessary.

And as they pulled out, I could hear the girl:

“Did you hear what the man said? He said . . .” and the voices faded as they drove away.

One of these days my big mouth is gonna get me killed.

Imagine this thing looking you square in the eye when you were 7-years old. Chilling.

Note: You gotta admit I’m good with the catchy titles, huh? Seriously, I’ve been writing attention grabbers like a boss.

This story took place when I was a kid, I guessing I was about 15-years old 7-years old. I was at the zoo with my family, and it was supposed to be an All-American summer day with Mom, Pops, and the sisters. By the way, my sisters? Mean as junkyard dogs to me. They just treated me brutally throughout my childhood, picking on me often and repeatedly. Keep in mind they are a little older than me, and by a little I mean a lot.

Here I was, basically the perfect kid and treated as such by my saint of a mother, and yet I was forced to put up with the evil shenanigans of those two. Did I mention they are much older than me? Anywho, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were behind this yarn I’m about to spin in some manner, either by telling me to look elsewhere while they ran or telling me there were free Cheez-Its around the corner and then bolting from the immediate area.

Long story short I got lost. Separated from my family unit. Wait. That last sentence sounded painful. Yikes. Anyway, I’m lost at the zoo, not a great place in which to be lost, and Jack Hannah was nowhere in sight. I remember being a little afraid at first, then the fear turned to full-out panic:

“Mom?”

“Mom?”

“MOMMY!!!”

At this point I’m sure my sisters were probably watching from behind the Lion Pit, grinning maniacally and hoping I’d wander in there and become the King of the Jungle’s brunch. I didn’t, thank God, and just decided to start walking and yelling “MOM!” from time-to-time. I mean, they’ll miss me sooner or later, right?

Right?

Eventually I came to this little sidewalk that cut through some trees, and in my infinite 7-year old wisdom I took it. I was sort of half-jogging down this sidewalk when it happened. I suddenly came face-to-face with an enormous 7-foot peacock. OK, it was probably 4-feet tall but I was about 3 1/2 feet tall so to me it was a monster. I froze. He froze. And then it happened. His tail feathers arched open and he made a charge at me like Honey Boo-Boo towards a bag of Funyuns. It was an absolutely horrific sight.

At that point I did what any reasonably intelligent 2nd grader would do – I ran like hell. Seriously, just scampered out of there like a rabbit on crack. Problem was, the peacock was pretty good at scampering as well. Random thought: If I ever start a band I’m naming it The Scampering Peacocks. But back to the chase. The peacock was right on my ass, just burnin’ rubber trying to get at me. I glanced over my shoulder and the news was not good – he was gaining on me. Right about then I had a horrifying thought. Can peacocks fly? I envisioned this winged beast piercing its talons right in the back of my neck, picking me up and flying me off to peacock parts unknown to be eaten at his leisure. But that didn’t happen. Instead, it caught me and ripped me to shreds pecked me on the back of my legs. I turned and tried to connect with a roundhouse kick but the demon bird was quick on its feet, deftly hopping out of the way. From that point on, though, he stalked me from a distance of about 5-feet, which in some ways was freakier than being attacked by this predator from hell. He was stalking me, waiting for me to make a mistake so he could swoop in for the kill.

In the end I was saved by a heroic zoo worker, a superhuman immortal who faced the monster head-on and ran it off. OK, it was an 83-year old female volunteer but she was a hero to me. Before vamoosing though, the behemoth fowl stopped to give me one last look, like, “This isn’t over little one. We shall meet again.”

The same lady actually helped me find my family and told them the story, so of course I had to endure years of ridicule from my aforementioned much older evil siblings. In addition, the whole ghastly experience led to a life-long aversion to peacocks.

Sad story. Sad indeed.buytrew34

Oh, and to this day I don’t watch NBC unless absolutely necessary.

Note: Some parts of this story were exaggerated to enhance the experience. It’s called creative license. What I’m trying to say is I love my sisters. They weren’t that mean to me. I, on the other hand, just might have been a less than perfect little brother. Sorry Sis and Sid.

Back when I taught 6th Grade I had a kid named Joe who was, shall we say, a little on the edge. werdHe’d been in trouble so many times his mail was delivered to the principal’s office. I knew about all this at the beginning of the year but, as I did with all my kids, I was going to let him start with a clean slate. The first couple of weeks were uneventful, but Joe never said a word. I decided the best plan would be to just give him time and try to draw him out slowly. Sure enough, one day we were talking about careers and I was asking my kids if they had any idea what they wanted to do for a living someday. The topic then turned to animals, so I asked the class if anyone would like to work with animals in the future. Among the 4 or 5 students who raised their hand was Joe. Ah, I thought – breakthrough. I worked my way slowly over to him. I asked one of the kids how they wanted to work with animals, and she said she wanted to be a veterinarian. Another said he wanted to run a daycare for dogs. And then I turned to Joe. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Joe, how would you like to work with animals?”

Joe: “I want to work in a slaughterhouse.”

That, my friends, was Joe’s idea of “working with animals.”

A couple of years ago, I was teaching Phys Ed and a 2nd Grader walked over to me. Here’s the conversation:

Max: “Mr. Shoe, do you mind if I sit out for a little bit?”

Me: “Why? Are you sick?”

Max: “Nah, I’m not sick, I just haven’t felt very good since the incident.”

Me: “The incident? What incident?”

Max: “I fell out of a tree stand.”

Huh? He then proceeded to turn around and show me a knot on his head the size of a coconut.

Me: “HOLY . . . have you been to the doctor?”

Max: “Nah, dad says it’s probably just a concussion.”

Me: “Max, go to the nurse.”

They raise ‘em tough down here in Ross County.

And finally, this nugget. I was a High School Athletic Director at the time, and I was making the rounds passing out some paperwork to my coaches.  One of my volleyball coaches taught 3rd Grade, and I have to say she was, well, a bit of a prude. In fact, she was really uptight about some of the very things in life that yours truly indulges in regularly.  Keep this in mind as you read the conversation that took place between me and a little kid as I walked into her room:

Kid: “HEY! I saw you in the liquor store!”

Me, startled: “Huh? What? I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Kid: “Yeah, it was you. It was on Thursday in Greenfield. You were at the liquor store.”

At this point I remember that I was in fact in Greenfield on Thursday, and was, in fact, at the liquor store.

Me, thinking fast: “Oh yeah, a buddy of mine owns the place so I was stopping in to say hello.”

I’ve no idea why I felt compelled to lie to the kid but he had me on the ropes. Alright, I admit it.  I panicked. Anyway, the kid wasn’t convinced…

Kid, skeptically: “Huh.”

At that point I’d given the papers to the teacher and was on my way out. Hey, I’d covered my ass and was good to go. But as the door was about to shut behind me I heard this:

“That’s funny. I thought I saw him buying a fifth of Grey Goose Vodka.”

Damn kid was probably flunking 3rd Grade but he remembered every detail of my trip to Joe’s Party Shop.

Originally published on September 3rd, 2012.

Hobos were way more stylish in the old days.

Hobos were way more stylish back in the day.

So I go into a convenience store in town today, and as I go to pay a guy is standing there frantically fishing through his pockets. He had a gallon of milk and some other stuff on the counter, and he was clearly short of what he owed. It was also obvious the guy wasn’t exactly well-to-do, partially because of the way he was dressed and partially because he smelled like a burnt turd rolled in spoiled cottage cheese.

Anyway, as I watched I noticed the guy was $3.78 short. As he began figuring out what to return to the shelf, I just told him I’d take care of it and handed him a $5.00 bill. I did this partially because I’m a good guy but mainly because I’m an impatient ass who wanted to get the hell out of the store.

(more…)

Very cool.