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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, June 29, 2010

Bye, Annie. Hope You Find Your Eyes Someday

 

 

I guess we all saw where Little Orphan Annie is no longer in the newspapers, joining a long list of things that are no longer in the newspapers (including, in the case of the one where I used to work, news).

I have to admit it gave me a bit of a twinge - not because I was an Annie fan, because I wasn't. I'm a continuity fan. Annie and her dog Sandy were in the comics for 86 years, and I'm the kind of goof who hates to see the end of a string like that.

And while I never was much for Little Orphan Annie (would it have been that much trouble to give the poor girl some eyes?) I have always been a big fan of comic strips. Even at my advanced years, opening the paper means I have to fight the old kidhood temptation to go first to the comics page, and later turn rather grudgingly to the news. Although in the case of my former paper, it IS kind of fun to see if they accidentally printed something interesting.

Some of the earliest reading I can remember took place lying on my stomach on the living room floor, with the funny pages laid out before me.

My first favorite strip was Alley Oop. Something about the adventures of a time-traveling caveman just got me where I lived. He carried a club, rode around on a dinosaur, had a smokin' hot wife who ran around in a fur bathing suit, and visited the 20th Century, where he would don business suits but leave out the shoes. My kinda guy.

It didn't hurt that he was easy to draw. I could impress all my friends with my clever portraits of Alley Oop, which were made more or less by drawing a square and giving it hair and a nose.

For a while, I was a huge fan of all the comic strips printed in The Indianapolis Times, based mostly on a passion for "Freckles and his Friends." More than once I came to the dinner table and declared the Times to be the comics leader among Indianapolis' three daily papers. And more than once I was sent to the kitchen with dinner by my father, an employee of The Indianapolis News.

I acquired a lot of "must-read" strips - "Gasoline Alley," "Dondi," "Gordo," "Moon Mullins," "Rick O'Shay," "The Phantom," "Buz Sawyer," "Steve Roper," "Prince Valiant," "The Little King," "Henry," "Miss Peach," "L'il Abner," "Peanuts," "Blondie," "Major Hoople," "Andy Capp," "Fred Bassett," "Dennis the Menace," ... it took three newspapers a day just to satisfy my habit. I was a nine-year-old with a cartoon monkey on his back.

And then I discovered "Pogo." The strip starring Walt Kelly's philosophical possum and his goofball friends instantly shot to number one on my all time favorites list, where it remains to this day, followed closely by strips that came later: "Calvin and Hobbes," "Bloom County" and "The Boondocks."

So many of them are gone now, and I can live with that. What else can you do? Times change, tastes change, technology changes. It's the natural order of things.

But even so, the passing of Annie from newspapers to the digital world strikes me as a loss, a little piece of us to which we must say "So long." And we can't even add, "See you in the funny papers."

© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.

-- Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Write him at mike@mikeredmondonline.com or P.O. Box 44385, Indianapolis, IN 46244. For information on speaking fees and availability, visit www.spotlightwww.com.

 

Tue, June 29, 2010 | link 

So Long, Annie; Hope You Find Your Eyes Someday

 

I guess we all saw where Little Orphan Annie is no longer in the newspapers, joining a long list of things that are no longer in the newspapers (including, in the case of the one where I used to work, news).

I have to admit it gave me a bit of a twinge - not because I was an Annie fan, because I wasn't. I'm a continuity fan. Annie and her dog Sandy were in the comics for 86 years, and I'm the kind of goof who hates to see the end of a string like that.

And while I never was much for Little Orphan Annie (would it have been that much trouble to give the poor girl some eyes?) I have always been a big fan of comic strips. Even at my advanced years, opening the paper means I have to fight the old kidhood temptation to go first to the comics page, and later turn rather grudgingly to the news. Although in the case of my former paper, it IS kind of fun to see if they accidentally printed something interesting.

Some of the earliest reading I can remember took place lying on my stomach on the living room floor, with the funny pages laid out before me.

My first favorite strip was Alley Oop. Something about the adventures of a time-traveling caveman just got me where I lived. He carried a club, rode around on a dinosaur, had a smokin' hot wife who ran around in a fur bathing suit, and visited the 20th Century, where he would don business suits but leave out the shoes. My kinda guy.

It didn't hurt that he was easy to draw. I could impress all my friends with my clever portraits of Alley Oop, which were made more or less by drawing a square and giving it hair and a nose.

For a while, I was a huge fan of all the comic strips printed in The Indianapolis Times, based mostly on a passion for "Freckles and his Friends." More than once I came to the dinner table and declared the Times to be the comics leader among Indianapolis' three daily papers. And more than once I was sent to the kitchen with dinner by my father, an employee of The Indianapolis News.

I acquired a lot of "must-read" strips - "Gasoline Alley," "Dondi," "Gordo," "Moon Mullins," "Rick O'Shay," "The Phantom," "Buz Sawyer," "Steve Roper," "Prince Valiant," "The Little King," "Henry," "Miss Peach," "L'il Abner," "Peanuts," "Blondie," "Major Hoople," "Andy Capp," "Fred Bassett," "Dennis the Menace," ... it took three newspapers a day just to satisfy my habit. I was a nine-year-old with a cartoon monkey on his back.

And then I discovered "Pogo." The strip starring Walt Kelly's philosophical possum and his goofball friends instantly shot to number one on my all time favorites list, where it remains to this day, followed closely by strips that came later: "Calvin and Hobbes," "Bloom County" and "The Boondocks."

So many of them are gone now, and I can live with that. What else can you do? Times change, tastes change, technology changes. It's the natural order of things.

But even so, the passing of Annie from newspapers to the digital world strikes me as a loss, a little piece of us to which we must say "So long." And we can't even add, "See you in the funny papers."

© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.

-- Mike Redmond is an author, journalist, humorist and speaker. Write him at mike@mikeredmondonline.com or P.O. Box 44385, Indianapolis, IN 46244. For information on speaking fees and availability, visit www.spotlightwww.com.

 

Tue, June 29, 2010 | link 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Flash! Firefly Season Is Here; Film At 11

 

I've just come in from the back porch, where I spent a very productive half-hour watching the fireflies.

And people think I don't use my time wisely.

Actually, I think there is a great deal to be said for sitting on the porch, doing nothing that the rest of the world might deem important. For starters, it's a good way to digest the strawberry shortcake you shouldn't have eaten but couldn't resist because the strawberries are so good and the season is so short.

Better than that, though, is the practice of using your brain for nothing more than trying to guess were the next lightning bug will flash. If your brain is anything on mine, it runs on the very edge of being overloaded, every single waking hour. A few minutes of this diversion might mean the difference between getting up and going to work the next morning, or waking up wearing one of those jackets with the sleeves that buckle in the back.

Fireflies are extraordinary little creatures. For one thing, they've pretty much got the "bug with a butt that lights up" thing all to themselves. If everything that flew around the back yard did that, they wouldn't be a big deal at all. And frankly, it would be kind of annoying.

Fireflies also hold a special place in our collective memory. Is there anyone among us who didn't once upon a kidhood venture out in the yard on a warm June night to catch lightning bugs? The very mention of it conjures up thoughts of me and my siblings and a dozen or so of our cousins, running around Grandma and Grandpa's yard with peanut butter jars, trying to catch enough bugs to make a lantern.

We always punched holes in the lids of the peanut butter jars so the bugs could breathe. And we always made sure to put a stick in there for them to perch on, and some grass for them to eat. We didn't know for sure that lightning bugs ate grass. We were guessing.

(I just looked it up. According to a web site I found, some fireflies eat pollen; some eat other insects; some eat flowers; and some don't eat anything at all. No mention of grass.)

Of course, we never got the requisite number of bugs to make a proper lantern. Just about the time you'd get on a roll some adult would come to the back door and tell you to come in for a bath and bedtime.

Who cared? The point was to be a child on a soft summer evening, in that special time between the setting of the sun and the appearance of the stars, running noisily around the yard with the people you liked most in the world. It was to be free of the encumbrances of school and homework, chores and trombone practice. It was to be a kid, in the fullest and happiest sense of the word.

I see the lives kids have today - so busy, so complex compared to my kidhood - and I wonder if they ever get that chance. I hope they do. I see the grownups with the overloaded brains and I hope they do, too.

And I hope someone passes along that stuff about the firefly diet. Remember: No grass.

Tue, June 15, 2010 | link 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

You Are Only As Old As You Eat

 

 

I  was sitting in a restaurant the other day - I won't say which one, but I will say it was one of those where you get pancakes as a side dish to anything you order, including salads - when I flipped casually to the menu page for, shall we say, mature guests.

You know which page I'm talking about - it's the one that offers the Penny Pincher Special (one egg, one slice of white toast, coffee), the Cardiac Combo (oatmeal, fruit cup, Sanka) and the Regular Customer Special (Two eggs, whole wheat toast, Metamucil).

I had already decided on my order (cheeseburger, fries, pancakes) so I was just sort of browsing. I wasn't ordering. I want to emphasize that, especially in light of the following. Not. Ordering.

OK, I saw that the Maturity Menu was for people age 55 and older, and two thoughts raced through my mind:

"Wow, I could order from this page of the menu!"

And

"Wow, I could order from this page of the menu!"

Same wording exactly, but two completely different thoughts.

The first was sort of a pleasant surprise. The second was a surprise, but I wouldn't call it pleasant.

I am 55 years old. According to some - my students, for example - this puts me at about the same age as their parents, which is to say Jurassic. According to others, such as my co-workers, I'm one of the "experienced" members of the staff. And according to my dog, I'm a robust 385.

According to me, however, I just ... am. In most ways, I feel pretty much as I did 10, 15, 20 years ago - a little more settled, perhaps, but certainly no wiser. I'm the same knucklehead I've always been. Only slower.

We're screwy about age in the country. Youth rules the retail and entertainment worlds, despite the fact that youth has no money. Those with money hanging out of their pockets, the mature generations, are all but ignored by advertisers and marketers, unless, of course, they are advertising and marketing something intended to make us look or feel younger.

Being older isn't what it used to be. For one thing, it's treacherous from the employment standpoint. Experience used to be a valuable asset. Now it's a liability. Too expensive. Not as expensive as fixing the mistakes caused by inexperienced newcomers working for one-third the salary, but hey, since when did business make sense?

Being a senior today isn't what it used to be, either. Grandpa used to sit on the porch and yell at kids to stay off the lawn. Now he's inside yelling at political radio. Once we went over the river and through the woods to Grandmother's house. Now we fly to Florida to visit her in her condo and have a catered dinner before she rushes off to karate class.

Age is all a bunch of bushwa. You are the age you are, but you are also the age you feel. If you feel pretty much the same as you always did, that's good enough and nobody can argue with you. And as for your chronological age - you can't do anything about it so why try? And why lie? It can be useful, if for example you want to save a couple bucks on breakfast.

 Although there's no law that says you HAVE to.

© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.

Tue, June 8, 2010 | link 

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Clothes Make The Horse. Man. Whatever.

 

 

I've been on something of a shopping spree lately. It seems I've turned into a clothes horse. Clydesdale, when you look at the sizes.

This happens to me every few years. Truth be told, these are the first new duds I've bought in about seven years. I've been living mostly in jeans and t-shirts during that time, and while that's fine, a fellow does need a little diversity in his wardrobe. Shirts with collars, for example.

Just kidding. I owned some nice clothes too. I had suits and jackets and even a couple of tuxedos hanging in the closet. Truth be told, I once was known as something of a snappy dresser.

But, as I said, that was seven or more years ago and you know what happens in seven years: Clothes go out of fashion and what was once the height of style becomes a clown suit. Watch a repeat of Soul Train if you don't believe me.

And then there's gravity.

I personally believe I am more susceptible than most to gravitational pull. This is why my body (a.) is sinking slowly toward my feet, (2.) weighs so much and (also) is so hard to drag up the stairs unless I first take a nap in the living room before going to bed.

Anyway, the time came to buy clothes and I discovered a few things.

For example, guys my size have a lot more choices than they used to, and some pretty vivid ones at that. I saw a yellow suit in The Fashion Store For Big And Beastly Men that 20 years ago would have been mistaken for a lost parade balloon. And I saw a striped one that looked like it should have come with a whistle.

Then I turned a corner and saw the Hawaiian shirts. Let's just say it was a good thing I hadn't eaten.

I tend to be rather conservative in my clothing choices. For this you may credit my mother, who implanted long ago the idea that fashionable clothes were for thin people, not me. I can still remember the heartbreak in her voice when she told the saleslady I needed the "husky" jeans. You would have thought "husky" was another way to say "criminal."

Years later, I was shopping with a girlfriend and saw a double breasted suit I liked but did not buy. The girlfriend asked why. I told her I could hear my mother's voice saying "You can't wear a double-breasted suit. Your butt's too big."

The girlfriend thought I was being ridiculous so when we got to my place I had her listen on the extension while I called Mom. "Saw a suit I liked today," I told Mom. "Double breasted."

Mom didn't miss a beat. "You can't wear a double-breasted," she announced. And then we heard the sound of the extension phone hitting the floor.

I've told the same story to numerous therapists.

But I'm over it now. I go by the maxim learned in Mrs. Grabill's Latin class: "Vestis virum reddit." Clothes make the man. When I dress well, I feel good. Powerful. In control. And that's really what the new clothes are all about - feeling good, powerful and in control.

I even bought a double-breasted blazer.

Don't tell Mom.

© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.

Tue, June 1, 2010 | link 

Clothes Make The Horse. Man, Whatever.

 

 

I've been on something of a shopping spree lately. It seems I've turned into a clothes horse. Clydesdale, when you look at the sizes.

This happens to me every few years. Truth be told, these are the first new duds I've bought in about seven years. I've been living mostly in jeans and t-shirts during that time, and while that's fine, a fellow does need a little diversity in his wardrobe. Shirts with collars, for example.

Just kidding. I owned some nice clothes too. I had suits and jackets and even a couple of tuxedos hanging in the closet. Truth be told, I once was known as something of a snappy dresser.

But, as I said, that was seven or more years ago and you know what happens in seven years: Clothes go out of fashion and what was once the height of style becomes a clown suit. Watch a repeat of Soul Train if you don't believe me.

And then there's gravity.

I personally believe I am more susceptible than most to gravitational pull. This is why my body (a.) is sinking slowly toward my feet, (2.) weighs so much and (also) is so hard to drag up the stairs unless I first take a nap in the living room before going to bed.

Anyway, the time came to buy clothes and I discovered a few things.

For example, guys my size have a lot more choices than they used to, and some pretty vivid ones at that. I saw a yellow suit in The Fashion Store For Big And Beastly Men that 20 years ago would have been mistaken for a lost parade balloon. And I saw a striped one that looked like it should have come with a whistle.

Then I turned a corner and saw the Hawaiian shirts. Let's just say it was a good thing I hadn't eaten.

I tend to be rather conservative in my clothing choices. For this you may credit my mother, who implanted long ago the idea that fashionable clothes were for thin people, not me. I can still remember the heartbreak in her voice when she told the saleslady I needed the "husky" jeans. You would have thought "husky" was another way to say "criminal."

Years later, I was shopping with a girlfriend and saw a double breasted suit I liked but did not buy. The girlfriend asked why. I told her I could hear my mother's voice saying "You can't wear a double-breasted suit. Your butt's too big."

The girlfriend thought I was being ridiculous so when we got to my place I had her listen on the extension while I called Mom. "Saw a suit I liked today," I told Mom. "Double breasted."

Mom didn't miss a beat. "You can't wear a double-breasted," she announced. And then we heard the sound of the extension phone hitting the floor.

I've told the same story to numerous therapists.

But I'm over it now. I go by the maxim learned in Mrs. Grabill's Latin class: "Vestis virum reddit." Clothes make the man. When I dress well, I feel good. Powerful. In control. And that's really what the new clothes are all about - feeling good, powerful and in control.

I even bought a double-breasted blazer.

Don't tell Mom.

© 2010 Mike Redmond. All Rights Reserved.

Tue, June 1, 2010 | 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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Here at the home, we just love to get mail, so drop me a line at mike@mikeredmondonline.com.

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