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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, April 28, 2009

Welcome to my home. When can you leave?

I recently played host to a large group of people (that’s “large” as in “herd”) who came to town to partake of my legendary open door policy. In other words, they needed a place to crash and I had room.

The visit served to remind me that I have no future in the hospitality industry.

I simply am not cut out for turning my abode over to strange people. And yes, I mean strange. I should know. I’m related to them.

I’m talking days on end of people wandering around the house all hours of the day and night in various states of dress, alarming the dog, terrifying the cat, playing havoc with the schedule, monopolizing the bathroom, rummaging around the kitchen and commandeering my television set.

You know what? I think people don’t really know how to be guests anymore.

Let’s take breakfast. Getting a herd of people breakfasted and out the door is incredibly difficult when they seem to have forgotten that you live in a house, not a diner.

Example: One morning I thought it would be nice to make pancakes. I make a pretty good pancake if I do say so myself. They also seemed the most efficient way to get everyone well-fed and ready for the day.

No such luck. You see, Ellie doesn’t like pancakes. Joanie doesn’t like pancakes unless they have blueberries in them. Frank prefers waffles. Richard never has anything but oatmeal in the morning. Dave (who is always on the lookout for new diseases so he can disprove that quack doctor who keeps saying he’s healthy) believes himself to be allergic to wheat, although he hasn’t been, and doesn’t plan to be, tested. And Marilyn just wants some juice.

Oh well. They can have coffee while I figure this out. Except that Ellie takes half-caf. Joanie’s a decaf person. Frank likes full-strength but only from Colombia. Richard likes a balance of half half-caf, half full strength. Dave thinks he’s lactose intolerant so he wants soy milk in his. Marilyn drinks tea.

Anyone for bacon? Well, at least they all agree on that one: No. But would I have any of that good sausage I had last time?

Weird. I can remember when herds of us would descend on Grandma and Grandpa McKenzie’s house. Breakfast would find a dozen or so people around the table, eating exactly the same thing: Bacon, eggs fried in the bacon grease, and toast. Orange juice for everyone. Coffee for grownups, milk for kids. And not a soul complained.

For one thing, it was good food. For another, you just didn’t DO that sort of thing. You were a guest. You minded your manners and tried not to make demands of your grandparents, lest your mother reach over and smack you one.

I’m glad people feel comfortable in my home, I really am, but come on. You want pancakes with blueberries? Make them at your house. Around here, the pancakes are plain and if you don’t like it, you can go to LePeep. Which is actually what everybody ended up doing, at my suggestion.

Hey, I guess that makes me a concierge. Maybe I have a future in hospitality after all. I’m going to have to rework that open-door policy, though. How’s this:

I have an open door. You’re free to leave at any time. PLEASE.

Tue, April 28, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I'm Here To Pump Me Up

You wouldn't guess it to look at me, but I am a body builder. Really. I just hide it under several inches of flab.

As a bodybuilder (albeit a secret, flabby one) I spend an inordinate amount of time in my home gym, formerly known as the garage, picking up heavy things, putting them back down, and then picking them up again. That's pretty much the whole shebang, right there: Pick things up, put ‘em down, repeat until you faint.

Of course, what you pick up and how you do it is kind of important, too. Bodybuilding is all about dividing your body into muscle groups and then working them in isolation until they explode and you have to have someone come out to the garage to load you into a wheelbarrow and take you off to the emergency room. It's heaps of fun. And if it happens as often to you as it does to me, you'll soon make friends with all the doctors and nurses in the ER, all of whom are very helpful, especially when it comes to suggesting new hobbies for me. Stamp collecting seems to be the staff favorite.

But no. I am committed to blasting my trapezoids, crunching my abominables and pumping my bivalves (that's bodybuilder talk) every day with time off on Sunday for good behavior and paralysis.


Well, I needed something to do, for starters. My favorite day job (I have several) is on hiatus for a year, and I thought weight training might be a way to use the time. So would pounding myself upside the head with a Louisville Slugger, I realize, but this seemed more productive.

Besides, I fooled around with weight training as a younger man - a much younger man - before giving it up because I thought I had better things to do, such as watch television and eat potato chips.

The other reason I am taking up bodybuilding at my age is because someone told me I couldn't. This person said it was impossible to build significant muscle at my advanced years. I don't know about you, but telling me something can't be done will pretty much guarantee I'm going to try it, especially when it is accompanied by a wisecrack about my age.

Besides, bodybuilding sounds cooler and than "I want to get into shape." I was already in shape. A pear shape.

And guess what? You CAN add muscle after 50. Not only that, you can even add muscle and lose flab at the same time. I've been doing it. You just have to work extra hard because it's not as easy as it was when I was 20. We have more gravity now.

I'm not kidding. By my estimate, the amount of gravity has increased at least 20 percent in my lifetime. When I was a kid, a 50-lb. dumbbell weighed 50 pounds. I'm pretty sure my 50-pounders weigh at least 60 pounds now -- maybe more - because of that extra gravitational pull. I'm as strong as I ever was. It's just that this time, the entire planet is working against me.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go out to the garage. I need to work on my deltas and lattes. You can come along if you like. Just don't ask me to pose. Remember, I'm a secret bodybuilder. Just stand there by the wheelbarrow, and be ready.

© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
Tue, April 21, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Laughing All The Way To The Audit

I seem to know a lot of funny professionals. My doctor, my dentist, my accountant - they're all jokesters.

Most of the time this is all right. MOST of the time. There are exceptions.

My former physician, the retired-and-greatly-missed Dr. Shecky, had a knack for making a joke while the flashlight gizmo was still in my nose. More than once I just about shot the thing across the room. And my dentist, Dr. Laughing Gas, just loves to pull that dentist stunt of asking a question that requires a complete sentence to answer - but only after your mouth is full of dentist fingers.

And then there's my accountant, Chuckles.

This is April, and if there's ever a month you don't want a jokey accountant, this is the one. It's tax time, and you're about to sign off on a document and in doing so, swear that every last bit of it is the absolute truth, and if it isn't the Internal Revenue Service can send you to a labor camp in Antarctica. You'd think this might cut down on the hilarity, but no. Take a look at some of Chuckles' tax-time Laff Riots:

* "I went ahead and claimed a cat as your dependent. Congratulations. You now have a daughter named "Mister Tinkles."

* "I tried a couple of unusual business deductions here. I have friends at the IRS and they tell me these things work almost 14 percent of the time."

* "Oh, by the way: If you look at Form 1190 WOWO, you now own 45 percent of Vandelay Industries. Don't ask."

* "You'd better check my figures. Math was never my strong suit."

And the classic:            

* "Don't worry. If the IRS questions anything in your return, we promise to visit you in prison."

Now, the truth is that Chuckles is a very good accountant. What am I saying? He's a wizard. And he approaches the whole tax business as a sort of contest between the IRS and us.

By that I mean there are a finite number of legitimate deductions available to someone in my circumstances. If we miss them, the IRS isn't going to tell us about it, so it's up to us - that is, Chuckles - to find every last one of them. And he does.

I used to do my own taxes. I called him in because the IRS and I were in dispute to the tune of a several thousand dollars (you can guess which side of the dispute I was on.) Well, Chuckles not only cleared up the mess (and got me to swear off tax return software) but also went through my records and found a few overlooked opportunities. As it turned out, the IRS ended up paying me about twice what they said I owed. 

So you can see why I put up with Chuckles' jokes.

That said, I still can't help being a little nervous this time of year. Once you've received one of those "Nice Try, Now Pay Up" letters from the government, April is nerve-wracking, even with a pro like Chuckles on the job.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go sign this year's return.

Chuckles says I might want to double up on the Prozac first.

I think he's joking. I hope he's joking. Please let him be joking.

Tue, April 14, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Time to put a lid on lids ...

A guy I know, who goes by the name of My Brother P.D., has one habit that just drives me to distraction.

Well, actually, he has several. But today I'm just concerned with the way the big dope wears a baseball cap every waking second of every day. Indoors, too. Even at meals, except when I'm at the table, in which case it's likely to be snatched from atop his head and held over the nearest open flame.

Why? It's not like he's bald and needs protection from the sun. If you're looking for a reason, I suggest you see above under "Dope, Big." See also under "Raised in LaGrange County under influence of once-dapper, then-slightly-unhinged father who had mid-life crisis and turned into Hoosier version of Willie Nelson." See also under "Raised in LaGrange County where blaze orange hunting cap and Carhartt coat are considered appropriate for autumn funerals, including your own."

In other words, the boy never did have much sense, as the people who know how to dress say when the funeral's over.

So it was with some measure of delight that I stumbled across a headline the other day: "Over 50? Time To Dress Your Age." Here, I thought, I would find something I could send to my brother to convince him to take the stupid hat off his stupid head, at least when he was indoors.

I thought wrong.

The story was full of information, but alas, it didn't apply to P.D.:

"Don't wear granny panties - they can age you mentally AND appearance wise."

"Wearing pantyhose with sandals is a no-no at ANY age."

"A little cleavage may be sexy, but showing off your décolleté in a super-low V-Neck can appear desperate."

And so on.

I'm not all that certain about my brother's underwear preferences, but I am pretty sure they don't include granny panties. At least, I hope not. Actually, come to think of it, I'm not 100 percent certain my brother even WEARS underwear.

Euwww. Excuse me. I just gave myself Too Much Information. Sorry about that.

As for pantyhose, I know for certain that my brother hasn't worn anything but white socks since 1974. In fact, they may even be the same pair. They're white with those funky maroon and yellow stripes around the calves - just the thing for when the roller disco reopens.

And where cleavage is concerned, not an issue with P.D. He's not one of those guys with moobs. Not yet, anyway. He is getting kind of porky, though, so stay tuned on that one.

Well, I was disappointed to say the least. I've been pestering my brother about his ever-present headgear for as long as I can remember, and frankly, I'm going to need help if I'm ever to get the idea through the hat AND the thick head beneath.

Or maybe it's a lost cause. After all, if he's not embarrassed - and evidently, he isn't - when why should I be? In a way, we're like the Cleavers, Wally and The Beaver. So what if people can't believe that a dazzling Wally such as myself came from the same litter as a big overgrown Theodore like my brother?

In other words:

How could I get P.D. to dress his age ... if I he doesn't even act it?

Tue, April 7, 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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