I grew up in Blythe, an isolated village in the Mojave desert. Like many people from Blythe, I have a well-earned reputation for bumpkinism.
Blythe gets up around 120-degrees every summer, accompanied by the annual sky-darkening plague of crickets. One August when we were little, my sister Lori had a couple of pet crickets. She made leashes out of mom’s sewing thread and took the little critters outside for walks. This is a true thing. I always thought her crickets hopped because the sidewalk is so hot.
Warning to my grandchildren: Blythe bumpkinism may be hereditary.
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A couple of days ago we lost all power in our neighborhood, so I called Edison customer service. Their computer-generated voice answered the phone and told me my power was out. Duh. Then the lovely computer voice told me to log-in to their website for details. Duh. Edison must think I have a gasoline-powered computer.
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We have two little yapper dogs. The one named Ewok behaves like a perpetual puppy. Instead of merely walking, he runs, hops, and skips his way through life. Early this morning, he and I were all alone in the house when he bounced into my office, rolled onto his back, and made pleading upside-down eye contact with me.
I got up from my desk, walked over to him, bent down, and said, “Hey Goofball, you want me to scratch your belly?”
A female voice behind me said, “Sorry. I’m not sure how to help with that.” I jumped and shrieked!
Then I realized it was Google, modestly answering my belly scratch question.
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Way back in the day, I was a Los Angeles rock ‘n’ roll radio personality. My job included not just playing records on the air, but also attempting to amuse listeners. For those of you too young to know what a “record” is, allow me to clarify. First of all, I’m not referring to my juvenile record, which is expunged. The records I played on the radio were plastic disks with grooves cut in them. You spun them around and put a needle into the grooves and that made music. OMG. That seems prehistoric. I’m sounding like a caveman. Never mind.
So… back to the story. At that time, The Southern California Toyota Dealers had a huge multi-media advertising campaign using the slogan “Get your hands on a Toyota. You’ll never let go.” That phrase appeared twenty-four hours a day in newspapers, magazines, billboards, radio, and television.
One afternoon I played Mel Carter’s million-selling oldie, Hold Me. Thrill Me. Kiss Me and back-announced with . . . “That’s Mel Carter singing hold me, thrill me, kiss me, get your hands on my Toyota.”
Almost got fired.
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I’m a lifelong car freak and I loved my seasons as Executive Director of the Kansas City Automotive Museum. While there, I had the good fortune to meet legendary race car driver Sir Stirling Moss. Moss won 212 of the 529 races he entered, including 16 Formula One Grand Prix races. I collect little model cars and Sir Stirling kindly autographed a couple of clear-plastic display cases for me.
In 1962, Stirling Moss sat in his Lotus 21 with the engine running, waiting for the start of the New Zealand Grand Prix. A recently-formed British rock group called The Rolling Stones showed up and as Mr. Moss rolled off the starting grid they asked to ride with him. He refused, of course, because a rolling Moss gathers no Stones.
(Okay, okay… I just made up that part of the story.)
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WARNING: My last true life story (below) is adult commentary. No Jokes.
In a state far away, I served on the capital crime jury for a horrendous, premeditated murder. We had to look at evidence far more explicit than the bloodiest N.C.I.S. forensic scene.
We jurors were male and female, African-American, European-American, Hispanic-American, and Asian-American. Not one of us thought for even a split-second about those stupid, divisive, hyphenations. We were just fellow U.S. citizens from twelve different walks of life, ranging from twenty-three-year old male to eighty-three-year-old blue hair. Proud to do our duty, we all paid attention, took notes, handled our task seriously, and followed the rules.
After the long trial ended, we gathered in the deliberation room and quickly elected a warm, friendly, outgoing black man as jury foreman. As nobody knew how to begin, I said, “Hey, I once saw a movie where the jury started off with a vote just to find out where the situation stood.”
So we voted.
On that first vote, every single person voted guilty. Without the slightest shadow of doubt. Overwhelming evidence proved the perp to be an evil creature who enjoyed the slaughter. I won’t share specific horrific details of the crime because I don’t wish to identify anyone involved. But I will tell you the victim left behind a family.
In that state, the jury doesn’t participate in the penalty phase, so the judge thanked us and discharged us. We all went back to our normal lives, loving our country, proud of each other, never to see one another again.
Several months later, I became curious. Doing a bit of research, I learned that, even though we were in a death penalty state with very specific punishment guidelines, the well-known liberal judge ignored those guidelines and—without explanation—gave the sick, twisted, vicious killer only seventeen-years-to-life . . . with time off for good behavior. For premeditated, lying-in-wait, sadistic torture and murder. Radical liberalism in action.
Troubled, I asked my pastor for his opinion. He said, “I don’t have a problem with capital punishment being our law. I believe in premeditated punishment for premeditated murder.”
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