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 | Older

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Trick Or Treat, Or Ho Ho Ho?

Halloween is not quite here, so naturally the mailman is coming to my door loaded with Christmas catalogs.

I'm surprised. They're kind of late this year.

Every autumn I complain about this. Then again, as has frequently been pointed out to me, you can set your calendar by my complaints: October, Christmas catalogs. November, crazed weathermen creating snow panics; December, Christmas decorations that play electronic music; January, the return of crazed weathermen creating snow panics, and so on.

To which I say: How do things get so screwy with such regularity?

Anyway, back to October and the catalogs.

What's the hurry? Good gravy, Christmas is two months away. Two. Apply that span to any other time of the year. Do we start getting Flag Day catalogs in April? Are we counting the days between July and Labor Day? Do the stores put up Easter decorations while we're still in the dead of winter?

Actually, on that last one, yes. They do. Nothing like pastel colored M&Ms to make a blizzard more tolerable.

I'm told the reason the Christmas catalog bombardment begins so early is that retailers are scared of a "soft" holiday, soft being the word for what the rest of us would call hard times. The sooner they start, the thinking goes, the more they'll sell. Thus the answer to a soft holiday is a hard sell, lest the economy go soft and we fall upon hard times.

I didn't have that semester of economics with Mr. Rodeghiero for nothing.

Well, this year I can buy the soft-holiday hard-sell thing. The economy still has Boogeyman status for most of us, and there's lots of talk about how this year might not be quite the bountiful holiday season we've known in the past and it'll probably just involve new socks and underwear from Yoder's Department Store this time. Thanks for the buzzkill, Mom. Nice spirit you're showing there.

So this year, I get it. But that doesn't explain the nineteen years leading up to this one when the catalogs arrived and the stores became Christmas Wonderlands while the Darth Vader costumes were still on the shelves.

Think about the kids for a minute. Can you imagine how confusing that must be? You wind up with Vader Claus: "I'm your father, Luke. Ho ho ho."

Now, I do see some good news this year: Thanksgiving seems to be fighting back. As Halloween morphed from a 100% Kid Holiday to a Boomer Bacchanalia, Thanksgiving looked like it was turning into nothing more than the big meal halfway between Trick Or Treat and Deck The Halls. In the last few years, though, large numbers of food fans have led the charge to restore Thanksgiving to its rightful place as one of, if not THE best, American holidays, and not just for the eats. For that, I am thankful indeed.

All things considered, then, I guess I should just resign myself to the fact that the holiday madness now has a mid-October starting date, and there's not a lot I can do about it. The stores and catalogs are going to do what they want, when they want, and complaining won't change a thing.

Except the calendar. I'll just have to find something new to gripe about this time of year. I think I'll go see what the weathermen are up to
Tue, October 27, 2009 | link 

Trick Of Treat And Ho Ho Ho

Halloween is not quite here, so naturally the mailman is coming to my door loaded with Christmas catalogs.

I'm surprised. They're kind of late this year.

Every autumn I complain about this. Then again, as has frequently been pointed out to me, you can set your calendar by my complaints: October, Christmas catalogs. November, crazed weathermen creating snow panics; December, Christmas decorations that play electronic music; January, the return of crazed weathermen creating snow panics, and so on.

To which I say: How do things get so screwy with such regularity?

Anyway, back to October and the catalogs.

What's the hurry? Good gravy, Christmas is two months away. Two. Apply that span to any other time of the year. Do we start getting Flag Day catalogs in April? Are we counting the days between July and Labor Day? Do the stores put up Easter decorations while we're still in the dead of winter?

Actually, on that last one, yes. They do. Nothing like pastel colored M&Ms to make a blizzard more tolerable.

I'm told the reason the Christmas catalog bombardment begins so early is that retailers are scared of a "soft" holiday, soft being the word for what the rest of us would call hard times. The sooner they start, the thinking goes, the more they'll sell. Thus the answer to a soft holiday is a hard sell, lest the economy go soft and we fall upon hard times.

I didn't have that semester of economics with Mr. Rodeghiero for nothing.

Well, this year I can buy the soft-holiday hard-sell thing. The economy still has Boogeyman status for most of us, and there's lots of talk about how this year might not be quite the bountiful holiday season we've known in the past and it'll probably just involve new socks and underwear from Yoder's Department Store this time. Thanks for the buzzkill, Mom. Nice spirit you're showing there.

So this year, I get it. But that doesn't explain the nineteen years leading up to this one when the catalogs arrived and the stores became Christmas Wonderlands while the Darth Vader costumes were still on the shelves.

Think about the kids for a minute. Can you imagine how confusing that must be? You wind up with Vader Claus: "I'm your father, Luke. Ho ho ho."

Now, I do see some good news this year: Thanksgiving seems to be fighting back. As Halloween morphed from a 100% Kid Holiday to a Boomer Bacchanalia, Thanksgiving looked like it was turning into nothing more than the big meal halfway between Trick Or Treat and Deck The Halls. In the last few years, though, large numbers of food fans have led the charge to restore Thanksgiving to its rightful place as one of, if not THE best, American holidays, and not just for the eats. For that, I am thankful indeed.

All things considered, then, I guess I should just resign myself to the fact that the holiday madness now has a mid-October starting date, and there's not a lot I can do about it. The stores and catalogs are going to do what they want, when they want, and complaining won't change a thing.

Except the calendar. I'll just have to find something new to gripe about this time of year. I think I'll go see what the weathermen are up to
Tue, October 27, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Let Me Know How Things Turn Out -- I'm Gonna Take A Nap

I am, by most measures, a pretty low-key guy.

I don't fly off the handle, go berserk, whack out, or run around like a chicken with my head cut off. I tend to amble, when I'm not moseying. I can't remember the last time I shouted, other than at the TV.

Low-key. That's me.

I've been this way for quite a while - ever since I gave up coffee and cigarettes for breakfast - and those who knew me in the old days are often astonished by today's calmer Mike.

Well, so am I.

I was the other day, anyway.

I was back in the hospital for another MRI. I've been getting them at the rate of two a year for the last few years. It's my doctors' way of making my life interesting - they're all heart, those doctors - by taking pictures of my interior with which they can conform my suspicion that there really isn't anything the matter with me, other than my warranty running out a couple of years ago.

Anyway, the other day I was back in the MRI machine. MRI, of course, stands for Mike Redmond Inside. If you've never been in one of these things, let me describe it for you: Once there, you know exactly how Sammy Terry felt before he opened his coffin lid to start the monster movies on Channel 4.

Except that instead of creaking hinges, an MRI has, shall we say, somewhat louder noises. Imagine lying with your head next to a man operating a jackhammer, while a tugboat sounds off four inches from your left ear and a locomotive roars past four inches from your right. And remember, you nose is about three inches from the roof.

OK, so there I was, lying there, jackhammer pounding, tugboat sounding, locomotive roaring, space rays being shot through my head to get pictures of the cobwebs inside. And that is when I surprised myself with the level of my laid-backness.

I fell asleep.

OK, well, Not asleep asleep. I wasn't in there sawing logs or anything, although if I had been you couldn't have heard it anyway. I just sort of dozed off for a few seconds every now and then.

This is unusual for me. I'm not the kind who falls asleep anytime, anyway. Airplanes, for example. I can't sleep on airplanes. I'm always afraid I'm going to snore, or talk, or drool on the person in the next seat. Nope. I sleep in private or not at all.

But back to the MRI. Was I tired? Not particularly? Drugged? Nope. The only thing I could think of was that I've been through this enough times that it has become boring.. You know how it is. You've been through one jackhammer-tugboat-locomotive shoot-outer-space-rays-through-you-while-you-lie-inside-a-torpedo-tube, you've been through them all.

Anyway, I woke up, made the joke I usually make ("I think I had my eyes closed in a couple of them") and went on about my business in my usual relaxed, low-key style. I figured that even if the pictures did show something wrong with me, there wouldn't be a heck of a lot I could do about it that day, so why worry?

As it turns out, the images showed that I'm ok. My doctor called to report it the next morning. And then I went right back to sleep.

© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.


 

 

 

 

 

Tue, October 20, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oh, I WIsh I Drove An Oscar Meyer Weiner

Like many people my age, who grew up in a time before all the cars looked alike, I've always had a few secret "dream rides" I've wanted to own.

If it weren't for the garage space and the cash, or more accurately the lack of them, I would have a fleet that included a Plymouth Road Runner, a Studebaker Avanti, a coffin-nosed Cord or a boat-tailed Auburn, at least one or two Packards, and a variety of Indian motorcycles. Among others.

The other day, in fact, I found myself parked next to one of my dream vehicles, one I have coveted since I was a little boy, one I would give anything just to drive, much less own.

I saw, in the flesh, or rather in the steel and fiberglass ...

The Oscar Meyer Weinermobile.

Talk about a dream ride.

I was coming back from Cincinnati, stopping for gasoline in Batesville, and there it was, parked all by itself at a Shell station. I pulled up to the pump next to it as the young "hotdogger" - that's what they call the people who staff these things - emerged to fill the tank.

"Hi!" she said, cheerily. They're friendly, those hotdoggers.

"Nice weinermobile," I said, being unable at that moment to say anything intelligent.

I simply was too thunderstruck. This was something I had never expected to see for myself, live and in person. Well, not live and in person, exactly. You know what I mean. And I sure as heck would never expected to see it at someplace so everyday as a Shell station in Batesville.

It took me right straight back to kidhood, when this sort of thing was much more common. The Weinermobile was one of those advertising gimmicks that was just part of kid life, like Elsie the Cow, Reddy Kilowatt or Speedy the Alka-Seltzer boy. Elf. Whatever he was.

Elsie, Reddie and Speedy you accepted the same way you accepted the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy - you knew they weren't real (that status was strictly reserved for Santa Claus and Superman) but still you gave them a place in your world.

The Weinermobile - that was a little different. Although you might never see it, you knew it existed because (a.) you saw it on TV and (b.) your cousin saw it for real at a grocery store promotion (at a store where your Mom didn't shop) and told you all about it. In this way it was like Disneyland, which you also saw on TV and which your cousin also saw (while your parents opted to vacation at Grandma and Grandpa's house ... again).

And now here it was right next to me.

It didn't disappoint. It's big, it's colorful, and it looks like a giant weiner on a truck chassis. The seats are mustard yellow and ketchup red. The dashboard looks like a couple of hot dogs. And boy, does it draw a crowd. I had it to myself for about a minute before about half of Batesville came screeching into the station, Moms, Dads and kids running up to get a closer look.

Which is when I left. My childhood dream had been realized, more or less. I saw the weinermobile. I even got a weiner whistle as a souvenir. It was better than I had hoped.

I almost wish I ate hot dogs.

Tue, October 13, 2009 | link 

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Confessions of a chilihead

The leaves are turning and falling; the sky is low and gray. This can mean but one thing:

Chili season.

Which also means it is time for me to dust off my rant about what is, and is not, a decent bowl of chili.

Before we begin, let's review:

Chili is the perfect food, at least for the man part of the human family. It is made from all the food groups: The Meat Group, The Fire Group, The Grease Group, and The Gives-You-Gas Group. In other words, it satisfies a man's needs for nutrition AND entertainment.

Chili is also something that a great many men take pride in preparing. Of course, they make it far too complicated, but that's typical. Men do the same thing with the simple act of immolating a hamburger patty on an outdoor grill. Never expect a man to do in three steps what he can do in 12.

The preparation of chili is really kitchen theater, with lots of chopping and mincing and bandaged fingers, much smoke and more fire, and more than a little weeping from standing over a chili pot where you've just deposited four onions, eight cloves of garlic and a half-cup of chili powder.

Chili varies by region. Here in the Midwest, we favor a rather mild, tomato-bean-and-hamburger stew that often includes the horror of  (gag) elbow macaroni. This most likely started during the Great Depression and World War II, when home cooks were trying to get the most out of what little they had. Properly stretched, a pound of hamburger could feed a neighborhood.

Subsequent generations grew up with this chili and liked it. This preference was reinforced by school lunch programs featuring a hamburger-tomato-and-pasta concoction known as Johnny Marzetti, Goulash, and, in one school I attended, Chop Sewage. While not chili, it did tend to reinforce the idea that hamburger, tomatoes and pasta should never be separated.

I used to be a chili purist, preferring the Texas-style bowl of red to all others. I didn't even want beans in my chili. I've moderated my position on the legumes, however. Beans are pretty much standard in non-Texas chili and I am a non-Texan, so I've come to appreciate their presence. I draw the line at macaroni, though.

I have traditionally gone for a snappier and thicker chili than you can usually find in a restaurant. Soupy chili, to me, is underdone chili. I like mine thick enough to sit in the pot on a low burner and make blooping noises, like the mud flats around a geyser. Sometimes I even thicken mine with a little masa harina, which also adds a nice tamale flavor.

But snappier - well, I guess I've outgrown my need to have the strongest stomach on the block. You get chili too hot, and all your tongue will register is pain. Good chili has layers of flavor that should reveal themselves and ... and ...

And I just realized I have been giving this subject WAY too much thought.

It's chili, for heaven's sake. And whatever kind of chili you like is fine. Even the stuff with macaroni. This is simple. You put it in a bowl, grab a handful of crackers and eat it. It's really not much more complicated than that.

Bowl, crackers, eat. Three steps. And I took 12 just to realize it's all good.

Typical.

© 2009 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.
Tue, October 6, 2009 | link 


Archive Newer | Older

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