Things And/Or Stuff

Home
History
Reading Material
Miscellaneous Fun
Greatest (?) Hits
More Fun (Sort Of)
Contact Me
New Page Title

Welcome to Mike Redmond's home on the Weird Wide Web!

Greetings, Earth People. I'm Mike Redmond. Not the baseball player. Instead of making you guess the rest, I'll just go ahead and tell you who I am and what I do.

  • I'm a newspaper columnist -- formerly the feature columnist for The Indianapolis Star (back when you could call it a newspaper). I bailed out of the place about two years after Gannett bought it, and I still count that as the best decision I ever made. My creditors don't always agree.
  • Now I write for papers around Central Indiana, a magazine or two, and this site. I'm also a public speaker, a teacher, an historical (as opposed to hysterical) interpreter, a farm tour guide, and occasionally, when I can be talked into it, an author. They're all my favorite jobs.
  • This is where you'll find my online column, posted every Wednesday, unless I get ambitious and post it Tuesday. But don't count on it.
  • This is also where to look for news about speaking engagements, new jobs, friends, and stuff that strikes me as interesting. I'll probably throw in a few recipes, too. I get wild like that sometimes.
  • Take a look around. Let's have some fun.

Archive Newer       

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Feeling a little peevish today. OK, a lot..

I was asked the other day if I have any pet peeves. Of course I said no, seeing as how I'm such a nice, non-judgmental kind of guy. And if you believe that, I have a bridge over White River I'd like to sell you.


I do have pet peeves, lots of them -- so many, in fact, that they have to be categorized according to type and level of peevitude.


I have behavioral pet peeves. For example, when we are talking, please don't put your hand in the air like a cop stopping traffic, and then take a cell phone call. Excepting, of course, emergencies. I'm not THAT peevish.


I have dining-out pet peeves. Waitperson, please don't say "excellent choice" after I order. I highly doubt you are speaking from the heart. I could order a slab of lard with anchovy cream sauce, and I'll bet half the waitpeople in town would murmur "Excellent choice, sir" just as a matter of reflex. Don't worry, though. I'll still tip you.


And I have linguistic pet peeves. One in particular has really been getting on my nerves lately: Rill.


I hear this a lot, especially from young people. It's how they think you pronounce "real." As in, "For rill?" Which they usually tell them the word is pronounced "reel."


I hear the same sort of thing with the word "mail," often pronounced "mel." As in "I have to check my e-mel." I keep wanting to ask, "E. Mel who?"


I'm not sure why these things stick in my craw the way they do. It's not like I'm Professor Language Man.  I have my own pronunciational foibles, owing to my Northern Indiana background. For instance, I tend to answer the affirmative "Yah" instead of "Yeah" or, more properly, "Yes."


Why? Beats me. I'm not German. I think it's because my grandmother, who was descended from Swiss Mennonites, said it that way. Maybe "Yah" was passed down through the generations, along with the dessert recipes.


I also have a tendency to lapse into the manner of speech I call the "Great Lakes Gargle." It's the accent of people who live where it's so cold that they don't really want to commit their tongues to any unnecessary exposure. That being the case, they tend to pronounce things in the back of their throats: "No," for example, almost sounds like "Nole." Does it come out of my mouth that way? Yah, sometimes.


At least I can blame my pronunciation on geography and genetics. I don't think you can say the same for "rill" and "mel."


Oh, and "ax" for ask. I'm sorry, there's no excuse for anyone over the age of 3 pronouncing "ax" for "ask." Or chimbley. I talked to a guy last year, had to be at least 40 years old at least, not stupid, who kept saying chimbley for chimney. I hadn't heard that once since about the second grade. Just about drove me nuts.


Which, of course, is precisely what pet peeves are designed to do. All you can do is remind yourself that you can't really do anything about them. Some things, I'm afraid, just have to be lived with.


That doesn't mean you have to go along with them. But it would be best if you keep their annoyance at peeve level, because unchecked, a peeve can grow into something that WILL put you on top
of a building with a high-powered rifle, and we certainly don't want that.


Rilly.

Tue, January 27, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Two squirrels divided by a single language. And a menu
 

Things are getting a little squirrelly over in England.

It seems Britain’s beloved red squirrel, the cute one with the little tufts on his ears, is being crowded out by his American cousin the gray squirrel. The gray was introduced there some years ago in what apparently seemed like a good idea at the time.  You know, like when some genius released 80 starlings in New York City in 1890.

The grays have thrived, to say the least, and are run squirrel roughshod over the poor little tufty-eared reds, taking over their territory, eating their food and spreading the deadly (to red squirrels) squirrel pox. Grays are considered vermin in England.

This might make a difficult sell of the new campaign to address the problem, the gist of which is:

Eat More Squirrel.

That’s right. In England, right now, there is an “Eat more squirrel” promotion going on. It’s even being stocked in grocery stores.

Actually, I’m thinking that the campaign should be just “Eat squirrel,” seeing as how you can’t eat more of something you’ve never had, and most people I’ve met, on either side of the big puddle, have never dined on Sciurus carolinensis.

Now, I can already see some of you making faces. Tsk tsk. I, for one, happen to love squirrel. Not that I eat it very often, you understand. I have a backyard full of the things and a fine little .22 Remington squirrel gun, but something tells me the moment I popped a couple for dinner, I’d have the cops all over me. (Meanwhile, two blocks away, they’re shooting AR-15s and AK-47s into the air to celebrate someone’s birthday, every night of the week. Oh, well.)

Most of my squirrel-eating was done when I was a kid, and it was prepared by my grandmother and (under protest) my mother. Grandma browned it on top of the stove and finished it in the oven; Mom held her nose, dredged it in flour and fried it. I loved it both ways, giving a slight edge to Mom’s version because Grandma’s recipe called for squirrels that Grandpa had shot. He was using a .410 shotgun to hunt them at that point, and Grandma didn’t always get all of the shot out of the carcass. You had to bite carefully.

The other trick to eating squirrel, any squirrel, is to put out of your mind the fact that what you are eating is essentially a tree-going rat. In my own case, I didn’t care. I’ll eat just about anything. But I know squirrel was easier for my brother to choke down if he kept telling himself he was dining a la Daniel Boone.

Now those were good, healthy country squirrels. I’m not sure that I’d eat a city squirrel even if I could shoot one. God knows what they’ve been putting into their mouths. I’ve seen what their rat cousins eat, and it ain’t pretty.

Nice country squirrels, with their wholesome diets of acorns and hickory nuts, are another story entirely. Which gets us back to England, in a way.

They’ve done squirrel tastings over there, with gourmands talking about how the flavor varies region to region based on which nuts the squirrel has been eating. How silly. And it just goes to show how squirrelly things are getting over there.

Everybody knows it tastes like ... well, like squirrel. You thought I was going to say chicken, right? Don’t be absurd.

That’s rabbit.
Tue, January 20, 2009 | link 

Two Squirrels Divided By A Single Language. And A Menu
 

Things are getting a little squirrelly over in England.

It seems Britain’s beloved red squirrel, the cute one with the little tufts on his ears, is being crowded out by his American cousin the gray squirrel. The gray was introduced there some years ago in what apparently seemed like a good idea at the time.  You know, like when some genius released 80 starlings in New York City in 1890.

The grays have thrived, to say the least, and are run squirrel roughshod over the poor little tufty-eared reds, taking over their territory, eating their food and spreading the deadly (to red squirrels) squirrel pox. Grays are considered vermin in England.

This might make a difficult sell of the new campaign to address the problem, the gist of which is:

Eat More Squirrel.

That’s right. In England, right now, there is an “Eat more squirrel” promotion going on. It’s even being stocked in grocery stores.

Actually, I’m thinking that the campaign should be just “Eat squirrel,” seeing as how you can’t eat more of something you’ve never had, and most people I’ve met, on either side of the big puddle, have never dined on Sciurus carolinensis.

Now, I can already see some of you making faces. Tsk tsk. I, for one, happen to love squirrel. Not that I eat it very often, you understand. I have a backyard full of the things and a fine little .22 Remington squirrel gun, but something tells me the moment I popped a couple for dinner, I’d have the cops all over me. (Meanwhile, two blocks away, they’re shooting AR-15s and AK-47s into the air to celebrate someone’s birthday, every night of the week. Oh, well.)

Most of my squirrel-eating was done when I was a kid, and it was prepared by my grandmother and (under protest) my mother. Grandma browned it on top of the stove and finished it in the oven; Mom held her nose, dredged it in flour and fried it. I loved it both ways, giving a slight edge to Mom’s version because Grandma’s recipe called for squirrels that Grandpa had shot. He was using a .410 shotgun to hunt them at that point, and Grandma didn’t always get all of the shot out of the carcass. You had to bite carefully.

The other trick to eating squirrel, any squirrel, is to put out of your mind the fact that what you are eating is essentially a tree-going rat. In my own case, I didn’t care. I’ll eat just about anything. But I know squirrel was easier for my brother to choke down if he kept telling himself he was dining a la Daniel Boone.

Now those were good, healthy country squirrels. I’m not sure that I’d eat a city squirrel even if I could shoot one. God knows what they’ve been putting into their mouths. I’ve seen what their rat cousins eat, and it ain’t pretty.

Nice country squirrels, with their wholesome diets of acorns and hickory nuts, are another story entirely. Which gets us back to England, in a way.

They’ve done squirrel tastings over there, with gourmands talking about how the flavor varies region to region based on which nuts the squirrel has been eating. How silly. And it just goes to show how squirrelly things are getting over there.

Everybody knows it tastes like ... well, like squirrel. You thought I was going to say chicken, right? Don’t be absurd.

That’s rabbit.
Tue, January 20, 2009 | link 

A squirrelly story if I ever saw one
 

Things are getting a little squirrelly over in England.

It seems Britain’s beloved red squirrel, the cute one with the little tufts on his ears, is being crowded out by his American cousin the gray squirrel. The gray was introduced there some years ago in what apparently seemed like a good idea at the time.  You know, like when some genius released 80 starlings in New York City in 1890.

The grays have thrived, to say the least, and are run squirrel roughshod over the poor little tufty-eared reds, taking over their territory, eating their food and spreading the deadly (to red squirrels) squirrel pox. Grays are considered vermin in England.

This might make a difficult sell of the new campaign to address the problem, the gist of which is:

Eat More Squirrel.

That’s right. In England, right now, there is an “Eat more squirrel” promotion going on. It’s even being stocked in grocery stores.

Actually, I’m thinking that the campaign should be just “Eat squirrel,” seeing as how you can’t eat more of something you’ve never had, and most people I’ve met, on either side of the big puddle, have never dined on Sciurus carolinensis.

Now, I can already see some of you making faces. Tsk tsk. I, for one, happen to love squirrel. Not that I eat it very often, you understand. I have a backyard full of the things and a fine little .22 Remington squirrel gun, but something tells me the moment I popped a couple for dinner, I’d have the cops all over me. (Meanwhile, two blocks away, they’re shooting AR-15s and AK-47s into the air to celebrate someone’s birthday, every night of the week. Oh, well.)

Most of my squirrel-eating was done when I was a kid, and it was prepared by my grandmother and (under protest) my mother. Grandma browned it on top of the stove and finished it in the oven; Mom held her nose, dredged it in flour and fried it. I loved it both ways, giving a slight edge to Mom’s version because Grandma’s recipe called for squirrels that Grandpa had shot. He was using a .410 shotgun to hunt them at that point, and Grandma didn’t always get all of the shot out of the carcass. You had to bite carefully.

The other trick to eating squirrel, any squirrel, is to put out of your mind the fact that what you are eating is essentially a tree-going rat. In my own case, I didn’t care. I’ll eat just about anything. But I know squirrel was easier for my brother to choke down if he kept telling himself he was dining a la Daniel Boone.

Now those were good, healthy country squirrels. I’m not sure that I’d eat a city squirrel even if I could shoot one. God knows what they’ve been putting into their mouths. I’ve seen what their rat cousins eat, and it ain’t pretty.

Nice country squirrels, with their wholesome diets of acorns and hickory nuts, are another story entirely. Which gets us back to England, in a way.

They’ve done squirrel tastings over there, with gourmands talking about how the flavor varies region to region based on which nuts the squirrel has been eating. How silly. And it just goes to show how squirrelly things are getting over there.

Everybody knows it tastes like ... well, like squirrel. You thought I was going to say chicken, right? Don’t be absurd.

That’s rabbit.

Tue, January 20, 2009 | link 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

It's Cold In Them That Hills. Also Valleys. And Plains.

January is a gigantic pain in the hinder.

The holidays are over. The only indications they were even here are the bills piling up on the table in the hallway, and a few stray pine needles that have bonded with the living room carpet. After weeks of bright lights and parties and gingerbread, things have gone back to what passes for normal.

All we have to look forward to now are more bills and winter weather. Wait. Make that crummy winter weather.

Funny how cold and snow are so charming before Dec. 25 and so detestable after.

Anyway, the weather points up the difference between the Januaries of today and the Januaries of my kidhood. Largely because of snow and cold, the Januaries of kidhood were fun.

Of course, I am speaking of snow days. Kids, gather round. Uncle Mike is going to tell you how it was back during the Late Pliocene Era, when school administrators would cancel classes at the drop of a snowflake. Now it pretty much takes an avalanche. You see, schools back in the olden days were there to teach, unlike today, when they are under pressure to “produce,” as if kids were widgets on an assembly line. Absent that pressure, they were a little freer to cancel school if the weather was threatening. Which, being an ice age, it was.

What’s funny is that the same logic used to argue against school closings used (“It’s not like they’re going to stay home”) was just as true back then. The difference is that instead of going to the mall, furloughed students in my era either had poker-and-cigar parties at the house of someone whose parents both worked, or went out and played in the threatening weather.

Being country kids, we tended toward the latter. By “we” I mean myself and my best pal, Monty Jo Strawser, and anyone else who wanted to play ice football (on skates), or hitch sleds to the back of a tractor, or slide downhill en masse on the upside-down hood of a 1952 Oldsmobile. Which still had the latch on it. Talk about a pain in the hinder.

Now, you have to understand that this was in the Frozen North Country, also known as LaGrange County. The snow was deeper and the temperatures colder back then. Of course, everyone says that about the winters of kidhood. People who grew up in Hawaii talk about the snow being deeper when they were kids. But in my case, it’s true.

And this brings me to the question I have every January:

How could we spend all day running around in single-digit weather with four feet of snow on the ground ... and enjoy it? No kidding. We’d be out there for hours at a time with no ill effects. Heck, if we were playing hockey, we’d even take off a few layers of outerwear and play in shirtsleeves. Today, I turn to a block of ice when the temperature gets below 34. And I live in a place where the average January temperature is 33.

Oh well. January, like other afflictions, is something we must endure. Sorry they don’t hand out snow days like they used to, kids. Guess you’ll have to do like the grownups and take consolation from knowing that eventually, January will end.

And then we get February. Which is usually worse.

© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.

Wed, January 14, 2009 | link 

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Should Auld Acquaintance Be ... Me

As we go careening into a New Year, I find myself facing a new fear in addition to the old reliables (losing hair, losing teeth, losing my house and so on.) Now I fear becoming ... an old man.

I know it’s a long way off yet. I’m in my mid-fifties, and by today’s standards that’s middle-aged. Young middle-aged, in fact. This is quite an improvement over my great-great grandfather’s day, when the mid-fifties meant you were about two years dead.

So I’m not old yet, but I’m closer than I’d like. I see the signs. And I’m not just talking about hair shooting out of my ears, or eyebrows that seem to have been treated with Miracle-Gro.

I’m talking about the fact that I recently became obsessed with electricity and gas (the heating kind, not ... well, come to the think of it, the other kind, too, but that’s different.)

See, there are two ways an (almost) old guy can go with utilities. He can burn the lights and keep the thermostat turned up, justifying it by remarking about how the house always seems so bright and cheerful and welcoming, especially on these cold winter nights.

Or he can go around turning off lights, muttering about how someone around here must own stock in the electric company, and turning down the thermostat and asking whatever happened to the idea that when you got cold, you put on a sweater.

Guess which Old Mike I see just up the road?

I think it’s genetic. To be perfectly honest, the first model – the cheerful old person – is one with which I have very little practical experience. Oh, one of my grandmothers had a bit of it, and one of my great-aunts had it in superabundance, but other than that, it’s slim pickin’s from the family tree. And that’s the only thing about my family that can truthfully be called slim.

For the most part, I seem to come from a long line of light-dousing, thermostat-lowerers. Now, this doesn’t make them bad. Quite the contrary. They’re exceedingly decent people, every one. They just spend winter in the dark and cold. And gripe though they may, they secretly enjoy it.

You see, they’re all from Northern Indiana, where winter is looked upon not only as a season, but a character-building experience. The harder the winter, the better person you will be come spring. And you can make yourself an even better person by keeping lights off and the thermostat turned down to Meat Locker.
 
Well, if that builds character, suffice to say I am descended from the biggest characters of all. Read that however you like.

And I’m starting to act that way already. The other day I sat down to watch a movie. The thermostat was set ... let’s say on the low side, so I put on some warm clothes.How warm? I looked like I was going sledding. Have you any idea how difficult it is to run a remote control wearing mittens?

So maybe this fear is really a wake-up call. Maybe the ghost of Old Man Yet To Come has been showing me what I might turn into if I don’t change my ways. In which case, I am going to go turn up the heat.

I’m much too young to feel so cold.

© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.

Wed, January 7, 2009 | link 


Archive Newer       

By the way -- everything on this site is Copyright 2009 by Mike Redmond. If you copy it without my permission, I will hunt you down with either my dog or my lawyer. I'll probably go with the dog. She's smarter.

me.jpg
Click on the photo to see previous columns

Here at the home, we just love to get mail, so drop me a line at mike@mikeredmondonline.com.

This site  The Web 

Goofiness abounds. Just go with it.


ClassicHolidayRadio.com
Visit Classic Holiday Radio.com