Friday, June 25, 2010

A later Father's Day article

MARK’S ARTICLE – June 26, 2010
“Father’s Day”

I was watching a “City Confidential” episode during lunch today. The program features famous murder trials. In this particular episode, a son killed two small town Minnesota bankers because his dad told him to. Nothing personal, he just wanted to please his dad.

When interviewed, the boy’s mom said something that resonated… with me. I don’t know if anyone else experienced resonation. She said, “Boys will do anything to please their fathers. Not their mothers. Mothers don’t matter.”

Wow, whatta quote. Uh, she might’ve said, “don’t count” instead of “don’t matter.” But, it’s close to a quote. A quote I don’t agree with, but can sure see where she’s coming from.

Without question, I tried much harder to please Faris than Elsie. Reason being, Mom was so much easier to please. If I managed to go a whole day without her wanting to spank me, she was pleased. With seven kids running around, that woman spent many a day unpleased. Dennis and I were “a spanking” waiting to happen.

From left: Larry, Susan (and doll) Dad with Mark, Mom with Jill, Lynda, Dennis (with jaw breaker) Big Al taking picture. That's a joke.

But, Dad? We seldom gave the man cause to spank us. I believe he only spanked me three times. I can only recall “the why” of one of ‘em. He spanked me for lying to Mom, when I didn’t… technically. When I yelled to Mom that I “wasn’t” wrestling with the neighborhood kids, I really wasn’t. I had been when she yelled, but I had stopped wrestling long enough to tell her I wasn’t. So, technically, I was telling the truth. And, I would’ve explained it to her had Dad not been watching the melee.

Dad didn’t care too much for technicalities. I didn’t even bring it up to him. Just took the spanking like a… well, like a crybaby. At no time did any of us kids need Dad to spank us. If he said he was disappointed in us, that’s all it took. I wish I’d been brave enough to tell him that. “Dad, no need for the belt. You had me at ‘disappointed’.”

Now, Mom really needed to spank us… bless her heart. Dad, never. It was partly our fear of him and partly our desire to please him. A touchdown in the big game, a game winning homerun, a four-year scholarship… something like that. Never came close.

Fortunately, Dad never asked me to kill anybody. Never even asked me to hit, taunt or write a mean letter to anyone. Quite the opposite. The man taught me respect by being respectful. I never remember Dad instructing us to say “Yes, ma’am” or “Yes, sir” or “Thank you.” We just always did. We apparently caught onto the notion that it was what Dad expected. He was always polite to other people. Even to people younger than he was. Even to mean people like that one lady at the library. “Thank you, ma’am,” my dad would tell her.

Odd, but Dad never cared if we said “Yes, sir” to him. I think it made him feel less close to us. We never said, “Yeah,” or “nah” or “Not me!” We’d say “Yes” and “no” and “I’m sorry.” Twice I got blamed for stuff I didn’t do, ‘cause I didn’t want to talk back to Dad. I just said, “I’m sorry, Daddy.” Dad was okay with that. Had I tried to explain that Dennis was the one who did it, well, it wouldn’t have come out good for either of us… I imagine. Like I say, I never questioned the man.

Dad said he questioned his Dad only once. It was the only time Grandpa Hayter ever punished him. Ever had to. Dad was helping Grandpa sharecrop during the Great Depression. In Oklahoma, no less. I don’t know what it was that Grandpa told Faris to do, but Dad didn’t think it made all that much sense, so he said, “Well, that’s silly, Dad.”

Grandpa walked over to my dad and boxed his ears. Dad had to explain to me what that meant. It’s when someone puts his hands over your ears and rubs them real hard. Hurts like the dickens. Only wrestlers are supposed to do it. Using a fake rub, I hope.

After boxing his ears, Grandpa said, “Never call a man a fool, son.” I can imagine the temptation to say, “I didn’t call you a fool. I just said that what you were asking me to do was silly.” Dad never said anything except “I’m sorry.” And, he never again questioned my grandpa. (Grandpa was one of the sweetest men I ever knew. He obviously let his grandkids get away with more than he did his son. Isn’t that the way of it?)

All said and done, I have to say that I was not at all pleased with my relationship with Dad. I don’t think he was, either. We were plenty respectful of him, just not close. We’d tell Mom stuff we’d never tell Dad. We’d even ask Mom to ask Dad if we could do stuff or borrow his tools. It was just easier that way.

If I could go back, I’d change it all. Try to, anyway. I’d tell him the no-need-for-the-belt comment just to see how he would respond. Might not have lived past it, but I should have chanced it. I would’ve asked him more about himself, and I would have told him so much sooner how proud I was of him. My dad could do anything… except have a close relationship with his kids. I wish I had made that my mission. I think it would’ve pleased him.

By the way, I mentioned awhile back that I was going to write a book about my dad. I’m still working on it. I plan to post a chapter a week on our website It may not be there by the time this gets out, but it’ll show up soon. When it gets posted, just click on the picture of the typewriter. Till it shows, you might want to look through some old articles in my “Mark’s column” section. Hey, you might.

Before leaving I want to say, “Happy Father’s Day!” to all you dads out there. Oh, the influence you have. A wise man once said, “It’s impossible for fathers not to set an example.” That’s true for each of us, but, at this time, it’s especially true for dads.

You can listen to Brad Meyer and Mark’s latest restaurant review by logging onto

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The ceiling was angry that day, my friend

MARK’S ARTICLE – June 20, 2010
“This is scary”

Something scary happened yesterday. I thought the less skittish of you would want to know about it. Some people really groove on scary stuff.

I had just come out of the guestroom to—What? Uh, I was reading back there. Good place to read. – Anyway, I left the guestroom to make some coffee and—Beg pardon? Yes, using my new French Press. Uh, Yuban. Would you please let me get on with this? Thanks!

Okay, I’m making coffee when all of a sudden it sounded like a rabid goat had gotten in the attic and was trying to bust through the ceiling of the guestroom, the room I had just vacated. Remember?

My first thought was – I suppose I should go back in there and check that out. Scary is what it was. What weapon do you take into a room where there’s a giant hydrophobic goat? I grabbed the garlic squeezer and eased down the hallway. (If you can get something to stay still long enough, you can do some serious damage with a well-placed garlic press.)

On “three” I awkwardly bounded into the room to find the ceiling fan wobbling around like a bad dog. I had a vision of the original “Airport” movie, where the giant propeller falls off and—What? Okay, maybe it wasn’t “Airport”. One of those older movies. Just quit it, okay?

Instantly I react. After about five seconds I quit trying to grab the little hanging down chain and decided to flip the switch on the wall. Genius. Only downside was, in the panic, I had lost my garlic squeezer. No idea. It’ll show up.

Upon containing the immediate crisis, I decided it best if I finished my reading and my coffee in the study. The guestroom just wasn’t safe. Something had messed up the fan. While I had ruled out mad goat, I was seriously thinking poltergeist. After all, I had just been in that room. Suppose I had fallen asleep during the wobble and the fan had flown across the room and struck me on the head… I could’ve been killed! Or had an in-house rhinoplasty. No, unlike the stupid people in the Poltergeist movies, I wasn’t going back in that room until I had answers.

The answer would have to come later, ‘cause after finishing my coffee I realized I had an appointment in town. I had posted it on one of my calendars. A wall calendar is a great place to write down important stuff. The thing is, you pretty much have to occasionally look at the calendar for it to do any good.

Having to deal with a possessed ceiling fan is the perfect time to check your calendar to see if you need to be somewhere. I did… and I did. I was supposed to meet with stupid ol’ Brad Meyer. Whatta goober. And, he’s mean.

So, I head out the door, but FIRST I call Kay at work. I told her that if she beat me home, she was not to flip the switch in the guestroom. “Why not?” is what she said. I told her, “Look, just don’t do it. You can go into the room, just don’t flip the switch… or turn on the TV. Especially don’t turn on the TV!”

After leaving Kay hanging, I kept my appointment with crazy ol’ Brad. Just mean as he can be. We taped two of our audio restaurant reviews. Pretty good stuff. I don’t know how we do it. We never even land a punch.

Where was I before I offered up that shameless plug? Oh, yeah, fortunately I beat Kay home. I instantly shut the door to the guestroom and prepared supper. I grilled some Cornish hens. What I did was put some pepper and—Beg pardon? Well, of course there’s a shorter version. Okay, okay. All you hafta do is ask.

All right, long story getting’ shorter ‘cause of Mr. Gripey-pants. Turns out there was no ghostly connection to the severe blade wobble. Who woulda guessed it? Well, I did, actually. Right after Kay assured me our home was not built over a grave-site. Don’t know how she knew that, but she was convincing.

I waited till this morning to take a look at the fan. First I had to dust the blades. I put on my lawn-mowing mask for the job. Nothing collects more dust faster than a fan blade. Uh, maybe a piano. Yeah, I hear that pianos really—Okay!

While cleaning the blades I noticed that two of ‘em were rather loose. Could a loose blade ‘cause a wobble? Could starched shorts cause a rash? They have and they will.

You may not be aware but you can’t tighten a fan blade very well without removing the salad bowl sized light shade. Those buddies collect dust, too. Not as much a piano, but… So, I take off the light shade and clean it. Then I tighten the blades.

At this point a less confident person would’ve tried out the fan before reattaching the light bowl thing. Not me. I had conquered my fears… my uncertainties. Once you rule out frenzied goat and ghouls you’re pretty cool with everything else.

After reattaching the glass bowl to the fan, I flipped the switch and viola! All’s well at the Hayter house. I just called Kay to tell her the good news. Sarcastic as all get out. I’m her hero. Craig T. Nelson couldn’t have handled it better. So lucky to have me. Did I find the garlic press?

There is always something to mar a happy ending. Been my experience. Something apparently took off with the garlic squeezer thing. I don’t know who… or what. I don’t wanna know. I just want you to know that I fixed the fan.

Yes, I could’ve told you that right off, but I love a scary story. -- The ceiling was angry, my friend…


To listen to Brad Meyer and Mark’s latest restaurant reviews go to

Thursday, June 10, 2010

We're being downsized

MARK’S ARTICLE – June 11, 2010 “The incredible shrinking can”

Did you know that if you close your eyes, lean back in your reclining swivel desk chair and tilt your head back that there’s a good chance you’ll eventually fall over backwards? Depending on where the rotating castered-legs are positioned. Something about center of gravity or a weird force tugging on you from the core of the earth. What I’m thinking.

This has nothing to do with today’s topic, it just happened to be on my mind. Now that it’s gone, let me tell you about this week’s real topic. We’re gonna talk about squash, sandwiches, tuna and ice cream. Not sure anyone has ever done that. So, grab some corn nuts and hold on.

Last week Kay and I were cooking some deer steak and squash that Virginia and Freeman had given us, and some green beans and new potatoes that our good friend Catherine had given us. Nobody thought to give us corn, but that was okay.

Oh, did you know that Catherine broke her foot? I was as surprised as you. I didn’t find out until the sweet lady called to ask if we wanted the green beans and potatoes. Don’t remember how she broke her foot. The story was getting a bit involved. She lost me at new potatoes. Poor Catherine. She’s got that boot thing and has to hobble around. Just as sweet as she can be.

Where was I? Oh yeah, we’re in the kitchen cooking. At some point, Kay suggested we call Virginia and Freeman to see if they wanted to eat with us. After all it was mostly their food. Turns out they wanted to come over… even with the late notice. I had to slap my forehead.

Why didn’t we invite Catherine, two of you are wondering. After all, she provided the green beans and potatoes. Well, did I mention she broke her foot? Hellooo? That woman would be tripping around hurting herself. “Mark, no. I’ll get that myself.” Bam! She’s on the floor. No, it was best for Catherine that we wait till she heals a bit. Just sweet as she can be.

So, we ended up with eating with just the Plilers. And, everything on the table had been given to us. Except for the tomatoes. We got those at Kroger. Kroger didn’t give ‘em away. But, the tomatoes did provide a segue into the HEB vs Kroger debate. The argument lasted for several minutes. It never got real heated, though. Food didn’t fly this time.

The debate ended when Virginia brought up tuna. I think she did it because she was losing the argument. Virginia said that tuna cans are so much smaller than they used to be. A lot smaller. We don’t know if it happened overnight or if it was a gradual thing. All I know is I’m in the store one day and there’s a can the same size as when tuna was first invented. Next time I buy tuna, it’s in a snuff can. Same price.

Can they do that? Isn’t there some kind of law? Apparently not. Same thing happened to me at Which Wich. That’s a reasonably new sandwich place where you grab a bag and check off everything you want on your sandwich. You can check anything and everything, and they’ll fix the sandwich and cram it in the checked bag. It’s genius.

Sidebar: You can actually put too much on a sandwich. Not sure you knew that. One time I ordered one of Which Wich’s Wickeds. That’s one with extra meat. To the meat I added everything. I had black olives, green olives, olive spread, red onions, coleslaw… I had it all. Took a bite of that bubba and it was all wrong. It wasn’t a sandwich. I don’t know what it was. I think it even moved.

But, if you don’t go crazy, you can get a good sandwich at The Wich. However, when they first opened the place near my house, they had big o’ buns. Huge-mongus? I could make two meals out of one sandwich. They cost a bit, but well worth it.

I ate so many sandwiches that Kay told me to lay off for awhile. So I did. A month or two later I went back. Same price, much smaller bun. I had to double up on my chips just to get full. I don’t know how it happened. Was it overnight, or did they just gradually downsize the bun? Do those people who eat every meal at The Wich realize that the buns are smaller? Or are they like the frog in the pan on the stove? -- What? Forget it. -- Point is The Wich downsized without telling me.

The Plilers and Hayters aired out a lot of other important stuff during the meal. We capped the oil leak, wrote out a high school graduation speech, figured out what not to get at the Chinese buffet... Eventually we were ready for dessert. Virginia brought along a homemade chocolate pie. It was the least she could do.

Unfortunately, chocolate gives me migraines. I’d tell you more about that, but I see most of you have your eyes closed, leaning back in your chairs. Nobody listens to me.

So, uh, oh yeah, I can’t eat chocolate, so I went to the freezer and got my half-gallon of Blue Bell banana pudding ice cream. Next to Blue Bells Blackberry Cobbler, it’s the best non-chocolate ice cream in the world.

When he saw the Blue Bell carton, Freeman said, “At least they still sell it in a half gallon container.”

Indeed they do. Most ice cream maker people have gone down to a quart and a half. I don’t know when they did it, but they all seemed to do it at the same time.
And, they seemed to somehow camouflage the smallness of their containers. Some kind of rectangular thing. Like a large can of SPAM. It’s not natural. Blue Bell must’ve missed the memo. They do what they’ve always done. Hopefully always will.

Makes one wonder what has been done to the other stuff. Potato chips, pickle jars, Wheat Chex boxes, donuts, frozen corn… The only thing I know they haven’t messed with is Oreo’s. They do sell ‘em in small looking bags, but they somehow put more cookies in it. Don’t know how that works.

Okay, I think I’ve covered all topic items. Let’s call it a—Hmm. I’ve lost everybody. I tell you, there are gonna be some cracked skulls tomorrow. Stupid weird force field at the core of the earth.


To listen to Brad Meyer and Mark’s two latest restaurant reviews go to

Friday, June 4, 2010

Not seein' it

June 4, 2010
“In the year 2010”

I recently made a comment that I thought would make a recent high school graduate feel the least bit hopeful. It wasn’t one of those sappy “The world is your oyster” comments. I don’t even know what means.

Nor did I tell him that he could do anything he set his mind to. That’s just not true. I had my mindset to play in the Super Bowl. Do you ever remember me bringing up the experience? “Encouraging words can make you want to, but they don’t do much to make you capable of.” (Soupy Sales 1960)

No, I said something that made it sound as if I were envious of the lad. I wasn’t, but it sounded like I might be. I said, “Oh, the things you’re going to see during your lifetime.” I probably should have used a complete sentence, but I think he understood. At least he didn’t say, “What the heck does that mean?” Polite kid.

After high school, no one said anything like that to me. I think the closest anyone came was Dad. Right before I drove off to college he said, “Son, remember to always keep a couple of cans of oil in the truck.” I fought back the tears.

Truth is, I wouldn’t care to trade places with 2010 graduate for anything. The poor sap. When you shuck down the corn, I’m not sure he’s gonna see all that much fascinating stuff. Look at me. It’s rhetorical, quit staring.

Two years after I graduated from high school, this country put a couple of guys on the moon. More than that, we brought ‘em back. Anybody can chunk you on the moon, but bringing you back is a big deal. Bringing you back ALIVE is bigger still. And, we did that. Somebody did. I don’t remember playing that big of a part.

The thing is, 40 years later, we haven’t come close to matching that feat. That’s something I would not have believed possible during my younger years. By 2010, we were supposed to be taking vacations on the moons of Jupiter. We even saw movies about it! There would be robots that look just like us. We’d have flying cars and gigantic force fields around the major cities to protect us from extraterrestrial invasion. And, doors in buildings would open automatically when we approached. Wait a minute. Skip that one.

But, no, we’ve got none of that… except for the smart doors. Flying cars? We’re still using the ol’ internal combustion engine. I don’t know how it works, but I would’ve thought someone would’ve come up with something better by now. Something that used gama rays. What a dreamer. There have been no alternative fuel breakthroughs during my lifetime.

If someone had told me that a slogan for a candidate in the 2008 Presidential Election was going to be “Drill baby drill!”, I would’ve said that we must’ve had a global war somewhere down the line and all the smart people got killed.

And, had someone told me that there would be an oil leak in the Gulf that would be continuously leaking for a month and counting, I would’ve said that the U.S. was apparently no longer Number One, and that Brazil was the new super power. Just like my ninth grade World Geography teacher predicted.

If you had told me that one of the plans to cap the well was to shoot golf balls and pieces of tires into the pipe, I would’ve guessed that I had become head of the Dept. of Energy in this new third world nation.

Yes, I just expected to see some better stuff. Of course, I don’t want to leave the impression that nothing of a scientific nature has been accomplished during a big chunk of my life. Did I mention that we have the self-opening doors? And, that’s not all.

I may not have seen flying cars, but I have lived long enough to see the self-service pumps. That was big. Bigger still was the advent of pay-at-the-pump! You don’t even have to remember your license plate number when you use your card! Just your zip code. Oh, yeah. That’s another thing. Somebody came up with zip codes. We’re even up to nine digits!

We have some pretty neat computers, too. We’ve got some handheld ones that can take pictures and tell us what’s showing at any theater in the Free World. Our kids can now send hundreds of weirdly abbreviated messages every day. Even some of our smarter adults can text.

Oh, and we’ve got skinny TVs that you can hang on the wall. Speaking of skinny, none of us are. But let’s not talk about that bit of progress. Let’s speak of the advances in medicine. Doctors can do almost anything nowadays. They can stick a camera inside you and yank your gallbladder out through a little incision in your gut. Oh, and they can inject bacteria in your lips to make ‘em look real puffy. I mean way-out-there puffy.

There have been a bunch of other innovations since my high school graduation, but after the thought of lip enhancement, I’m out of the mood to continue.

Bottom line, I’m a bit disappointed in our progress over the last few decades. I just expected more. It’s one of those 150-TV-channels-and-nothing-to-see things. I want to witness more. I’d like to fly in a car, and see a few of my acquaintances go to one of the moons of Jupiter.

But, that’s not happening. Likely not even in the lifetime of any recent high school graduate. Especially not if our best and brightest are considering chunking golf balls and pieces of old tires in a pipe to plug an oil leak.

Anything we set our minds to? I’m not seeing it.