Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Pop-Up Quiz

(Originally posted on 1/23/2009)

Recently, I was at a Joseph Heller web site, deeply immersed in a discussion of Milo Minderbinder's place in literary history, when I suddenly noticed something in the lower right hand corner of the screen. It wasn't part of the site since it had nothing to do with Catch 22. Here's what it said:



I thought to myself, hey, it'd be kinda cool to know my IQ, so I clicked .

Ever since I clicked, a box has popped up on the screen every ten seconds asking me to, variously, try a new anti-wrinkle cream, take advice on how to pass a civil service exam, give a gold-plated pendent to that very special person, join a health club, try liposuction, dine at a new Chinese restaurant in a city I never heard of, take pills that will cleanse my body of impurities, buy a Humvee, rent a condo on the shores of Lake Huron, and buy a mousetrap that glows in the dark.

I think I flunked the test.

Friday, January 20, 2012

In Memoriam: Etta James 1938-2012

Singer. "At Last" "(Wallflower) Roll With Me, Henry" "Tell Mama" "All I Could Do Was Cry" "I'd Rather Go Blind"

"[Chess Records founder] Leonard Chess was the most aware of anyone. He went up and down the halls of Chess announcing, 'Etta's crossed over! Etta's crossed over!' I still didn't know exactly what that meant, except that maybe more white people were listening to me. The Chess brothers kept saying how I was their first soul singer, that I was taking their label out of the old Delta blues, out of rock and into the modern era. Soul was the new direction...But in my mind, I was singing old style, not new."

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Yards Gained

I decided to pay my first visit of the new year to my favorite watering hole, the Looking-Glass Cafe. As I walked in I saw my two avid sports fan friends, Ralph and Hank, at the bar pouring over a Rand McNally map of the United States.

"Hey, Ralph. Hey, Hank," I greeted them. "I'm surprised you guys aren't watching one of the bowl games."

Hank looked up from the map and said, "Oh, we've already watched the Rose Bowl, Gator Bowl, Sugar Bowl, Orange Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Liberty Bowl, Alamo Bowl, Outback Bowl, Maaco Bowl, Capital One Bowl, TicketCity Bowl, Little Caesars Pizza Bowl, Chick-fil-A Bowl, Meineke Car Care Bowl, Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl, and the Bell Helicopter Armed Forces Bowl!"

"The Pterodactyl Petroleum Bowl is coming up next," Ralph added. "Now, Kirk, if you'll excuse us, me and Hank have an important matter to sort out before the game starts."

"Oh, sorry," I said. "I'll leave you guys be." I turned to the bartender, Sherman, and ordered a beer.

Ralph and Hank turned their attention back to the map. "Now, let's see, how far away is Wilson University from where we're sitting?" Ralph asked.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Hank pull a tape measure out of his pocket, and stretch it out along the map.

"One thousand four hundred and thirty two miles," Hank replied.

"OK," said Ralph. "Now, how about the University of Rawlings?"

Hank moved the tape measure in another direction, and studied it for a second.

"One thousand four hundred and thirty two miles."

"Oh, no!" Ralph exclaimed. "They're both the same distance! Now, what do we do?!"

"I've got an idea," Hank replied. "Hey, Sherm, you don't happen to have a magnifying glass, do you?"

"I keep one just for emergencies like this." Sherman reached behind the bar, pulled up a magnifying glass, and handed it to Hank, who used it to examine the map with even greater scrutiny.

"Ha!" Hank shouted. "Look at this, Ralph. Rawlings is one thousand four hundred thirty two miles and sixty-three yards from where we are sitting, whereas Wilson is only one thousand four hundred thirty two miles and forty-nine yards!"

"So, Wilson is the closer of the two."

"That's right."

With that, Ralph and Hank jumped off their stools, and rushed out, leaving the unfolded map, tape measure and magnifying glass on the bar.

"Where are those two off to in such a hurry?" I asked Sherman.

"I imagine they're getting ready for the game. They better hurry. It's almost time."

A couple minutes later, Ralph and Hank burst back into the Looking-Glass Cafe. They were both wearing Wilson University sweatshirts, Wilson University sweatpants, Wilson University caps, and carrying Wilson University pennants. They both hopped right back on to their bar stools. Sherman picked up the remote, and clicked on the game.

"Go, Wilson, go!" Ralph shouted.

"Boo, Rawlings! Yea, Wilson!" Hank screamed.

Nothing like rooting for the home team.