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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.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

My name's Otis. I own this elevator.
  

It has been a while since I used elevators on a daily basis, but the routine hasn't changed, according to what I experienced in a downtown office building the other day.

I walked in and pressed the "Up" button, "up" being the appropriate direction for my destination on the fifth floor. The elevator, one of those older, slightly creaky models, was all the way at the top of the building, eight floors up.

After a wait of ... oh, I'd say no more than half and hour, the elevator began descending from the eighth floor. It stopped on the seventh. Also the sixth. And, come to think of it, the fifth, fourth, third, and second. Each stop took about five minutes - just enough time, you know, to take on water and coal, to load and unload some cargo, and to move the passengers around.

Now, as this was going on, I was joined in the lobby by several people who also wished to travel elevatoriffically in an upwardly direction.  They and saw the "up" light on the panel glowing merrily, indicating that the elevator had been called (and, apparently, would get there when it was good and ready). So what did they do?

They pushed the "up" button. Every last one of them.

This is a form of conversation. And the message is:

"Excuse me, bud, but obviously you don't know how to call an elevator. Here, let me show you."

Or:

"Didn't you know? The more times you push the button, the faster the elevator gets here." (This is one is most often demonstrated by someone stepping forward and punching the button rapidly and repeatedly, like he was telling the elevator to hurry up ... in Morse code.)

Or:

"I BEG your pardon, but you obviously don't know how important I am. In fact, this is MY elevator and the rest of you are using it at my sufferance. And why wasn't it here with the doors open when I came through the door?"

Like I said, it's conversation. And it's usually the last conversation of the ride. There is nothing so quiet as an elevator full of strangers. Unless, of course, one of those strangers is me.

On crowded elevators, I like to greet my fellow passengers with a hearty "Are we over the load limit?" If I'm in there with a woman, I mind my manners by tipping my hat and saying, "Howdy, Toots!" If I'm in there with just a few people, I like to point out "It's not the heat, it's the humidity," no matter what the weather. And if it's a couple of business-type males, I'll usually ask, "Which one of you had the fried onions?"

I find this gives me plenty of breathing room for the remainder of the ride.

I've always found the elevator experience to be semi-hilarious. Outside, we can be walking, talking, fully functional human beings, but once we get in there, we're mannequins, saying nothing, staring straight ahead. How weird. Why do we do that? What are we afraid of?

Oh, I know. That someone like me might just burst into a chorus of "The Japanese Sandman" or something equally annoying.

Well, don't worry. I may be a goof but I do have some standards, thank you.

I only do that when the elevator is going down.

Tue, February 17, 2009 | link 

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Social Networking Is A Whiz Of An Idea
Friend of mine was all surprised when he learned that I belonged to one of those social networks, SpaceFace or MyBook or LookyHere or whatever it's called.

"I never would have thought it," he said. "In fact, I would have bet against it."

Oh, how little he knows me. Why, I am just as much of a modern communicator as the next guy. Trouble is, there IS no next guy. I'm here by myself.

Anyway, I don't see what's such a big deal about social networking. So we get on computers and tell several million of our best friends way too much information about our lives. So what? Dogs have been doing this for eons. It's called "peeing."

The other day I was walking Cookie, my American dorkhound. We had to stop at every tree, pole and post to catch up on the latest entries from her friends at DogWhiz-dot-com.
Some of them were just brief little blurbs. There's a tree around the corner, for example, where Jasper, the beagle from a couple of streets over, left a little shout-out. You know, something like ‘Just showin' some love!" or "You're special!" Except that, knowing Jasper, he probably wrote "Jasper was here!" And then, on all the other trees for the next few blocks, he added "and here, and here, and here, and here ..." Jasper is a travelin' man.

Of course, Cookie had to respond. Being a girl, she may not be able to leave her message with Jasper's three-legged grace, but she still gets the job done. Which is half the reason for talking the walk in the first place.

Now, further down the block is a big utility pole that everybody - excuse me - every dog signs. I think it's kind of like a bulletin board, or one of those messages at the top of a personal page where you tell everyone what you're doing - "Ingrid is contemplating her navel" "Fred is contemplating Ingrid's navel" and so on. Except in this case it's "Beau is going for a walk" "Nettie is going for a walk" "Cookie is going for a walk" and ... well, you get the picture.

Now, occasionally, one of the dogs will (apparently) stretch out and make a blog post. No, not THAT. Those are logs, not blogs.

I mean they'll leave what you might call a long message, if Cookie's reaction is any indication. It must be that Rottweiler I see. This neighborhood is mostly smaller dogs. The Rottie is the only one big enough to write so much.

Cookie will be sniffing and snuffling along when all of a sudden something will catch her eye - I mean, nose - and she'll get into it like a kid on instant messenger, oblivious to anything around her, including me. I have to haul back on the leash with everything I've got - something akin to landing a fish the size of a Volkswagen -- just to get her moving again. Cookie enjoys a good dog blog.

Remember that, next time you sit down at your computer to waste time. I mean, network. Dogs came up with the idea long before humans had even invented an alphabet. You may think your cyber-chatter-computer-communication is something brand new, but it's not. Dog pee was first.

In other words, urine good company.
Wed, February 11, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Jeepers Creepers! What's Above Those Peepers?

I'm sure we all saw the story about the guy down in Bloomfield who had his eyebrows trimmed for charity.

We didn't?

Well, then, sit back and get ready for ... EYEBROWS IN THE NEWS!

We take you now to Charming Bloomfield, where former jeweler Si Burgher donated his eyebrows to Rotary International's PolioPlus, which raises money to fight polio in the developing world.

Members of his Rotary Club bid for chances to prune the hedges over Si's eyes, which had never been trimmed and grew to a length of three inches. The event raised $1.600, at $500 bucks a whack.

What a heartwarming story. I'm sure you all join me in saying:

"THREE INCHES? Good Lord, man, have you never heard of scissors?"

Or something of that nature.

I saw the before pictures of ol' Si. It looked like the south end of his forehead was planted in tumbleweeds, with a few vines and creepers - Jeepers Creepers, to be specific - thrown in for good measure. He could have braided these things, or put them up in curlers.

In other words, they were a mess. As eyebrows go, they were worse than Andy Rooney's, which is saying something. I'm not kidding. Andy's look neat and tidy next to what Si used to have.

Three inches? Let's put that in perspective, shall we? Three inches is about the length of a playing card. It's half the length of a dollar bill. It's ... it's ...

It's way too long for eyebrows, that's what it is.

My Dad had some pretty aggressive eyebrows - black, thick and bristling. He kept them under control, though, generally with a whip, a chair and a pair of barber shears. He was the Gunther Gebel-Williams of eyebrow trimmers.

Mine started heading that direction when I was in my mid-20s. In what had been nice, neat, orderly, everyday eyebrows I'd get this one one crazy hair that decided to go its own way. Trying to escape, I guess. 

One day I noticed it had brought friends to its merry little escapade. Interestingly, this was at a time when I had very long hair on top of my head as well, so there I was, keeping the barber away from my hair, but giving my eyebrows crewcuts.

Of course, crazy eyebrows are only the beginning for most guys. Without getting too - oh, what's the word I'm looking for? Ah, I have it. Gross. Without getting too gross, men just get weirdly hairy as they mature.

It's like the Weird Hair Elves come in the night and secretly douse you with Rogaine in as many unusual locations as they can find. Then they destroy a few scalp follicles, just for fun. You wake up in the morning and find that not only has your hairline gone north another couple of millimeters, but you also need to shave the front of your nose.

This is the stuff they never told you about in seventh grade when all the girls had to go to the Home Ec room to watch their Special Movie About Growing Up, and all the Boys had to go to the Science Room to watch theirs.

They SURE didn't say anything about eyebrows. Or if they did, I was asleep.

I wonder if that's what happened to ol' Si. Three inches? Jeepers Creepers.

© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.

Tue, February 3, 2009 | link 

Jeeoers Creepers! What's Above Those Peepers?
 

I'm sure we all saw the story about the guy down in Bloomfield who had his eyebrows trimmed for charity.


We didn't?


Well, then, sit back and get ready for ... EYEBROWS IN THE NEWS!


We take you now to Charming Bloomfield, where former jeweler Si Burgher donated his eyebrows to Rotary International's PolioPlus, which raises money to fight polio in the developing world.


Members of his Rotary Club bid for chances to prune the hedges over Si's eyes, which had never been trimmed and grew to a length of three inches. The event raised $1.600, at $500 bucks a whack.


What a heartwarming story. I'm sure you all join me in saying:


"THREE INCHES? Good Lord, man, have you never heard of scissors?"


Or something of that nature.


I saw the before pictures of ol' Si. It looked like the south end of his forehead was planted in tumbleweeds, with a few vines and creepers - Jeepers Creepers, to be specific - thrown in for good measure. He could have braided these things, or put them up in curlers.


In other words, they were a mess. As eyebrows go, they were worse than Andy Rooney's, which is saying something. I'm not kidding. Andy's look neat and tidy next to what Si used to have.


Three inches? Let's put that in perspective, shall we? Three inches is about the length of a playing card. It's half the length of a dollar bill. It's ... it's ...


It's way too long for eyebrows, that's what it is.


My Dad had some pretty aggressive eyebrows - black, thick and bristling. He kept them under control, though, generally with a whip, a chair and a pair of barber shears. He was the Gunther Gebel-Williams of eyebrow trimmers.


Mine started heading that direction when I was in my mid-20s. In what had been nice, neat, orderly, everyday eyebrows I'd get this one one crazy hair that decided to go its own way. Trying to escape, I guess. 


One day I noticed it had brought friends to its merry little escapade. Interestingly, this was at a time when I had very long hair on top of my head as well, so there I was, keeping the barber away from my hair, but giving my eyebrows crewcuts.


Of course, crazy eyebrows are only the beginning for most guys. Without getting too - oh, what's the word I'm looking for? Ah, I have it. Gross. Without getting too gross, men just get weirdly hairy as they mature.


It's like the Weird Hair Elves come in the night and secretly douse you with Rogaine in as many unusual locations as they can find. Then they destroy a few scalp follicles, just for fun. You wake up in the morning and find that not only has your hairline gone north another couple of millimeters, but you also need to shave the front of your nose.


This is the stuff they never told you about in seventh grade when all the girls had to go to the Home Ec room to watch their Special Movie About Growing Up, and all the Boys had to go to the Science Room to watch theirs.


They SURE didn't say anything about eyebrows. Or if they did, I was asleep.


I wonder if that's what happened to ol' Si. Three inches? Jeepers Creepers.


© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
Tue, February 3, 2009 | link 


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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.

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