Monday, February 28, 2011

“Grab a hankie.”

Do you have any friends who never tell you the truth about how they’re feeling? “Oh, just great. Couldn’t be better.” All the while their gallbladder is like a bag of marbles. Do you have any friends like that?

I have one or two. They may be having a kidney removed at this very moment, and I wouldn’t know. Some friends, huh?

I would never do that to anybody. If you call me and ask how I’m doin’, I’m going to tell you if sick. May even tell you I am when I’m not. Just depends.

I don’t know how many times I’ve picked up the phone and heard, “Hey, Mark, how you doin’?” I’ll say I’m fine. Next thing I know I’m being asked to haul a hide-a-bed to the dump. – “Oh, I didn’t mean to say I’m ‘fine.’ I meant say that I’m not fine.” Yeah, right.

When someone asks “How ya doin’?” you really need to take pause. I have a couple of acquaintances who have never called what I wasn’t feeling poorly. Just as weird as it can be.

Right now, I don’t even have to feign sickness. I’m there. I’ve been embracing it for the last four days. Today is the first day that I’ve been able to grin. See? I think that’s a good sign. Kay’s not sure.

I haven’t been out of the house since I got whatever I got. From my bald spot to the base of my neck, is a bodily region that is in bad shape. I take antihistamines sometimes and other times I take decongestants. One clogs you and the other is supposed to drain you. There’s about a 30-minute gap between medications where you might catch me in one of those grins.

The most affective medication has proved to be something called “Mucus Relief.” I don’t think it’s brand name, but it says Mucus in big letters right there on the bottle. The label maker is as callous as whoever invented those green creatures on the commercial. Somebody thought that creating snot creatures would make us want to buy whatever they’re selling. I’ve never see the commercial all the way through, so I don’t really know which drug they’re hyping. I don’t pay Dish to show me mucus dancing around.

There is only one medication that has no side effects. It’s called “Placebo.” Everything else will mess with you. My body is so pure that anytime I introduce a medication to my system it becomes a stupid pill and/or an hallucinogen. Oh, and it will constipate me. I don’t care what it is it’ll do the big C on me.

This morning Kay got pretty fed up with me being sick. Tired of seeing me walk around, groan and swat at things. So, she suggested we get out of the house. Made me a deal, even. She said that if I’d go to Home Depot with her to get some mulch, she’d buy me a Breakfast on a Bun at Whataburger. I like a Bacon Breakfast on a Bun. It’s the best breakfast sandwich in the U.S. and Estonia.

I also like Whataburger because they’re nice to the old and the nearly old. I’m pretty close to being nearly old. So, close that when I ordered our Breakfast on a couple of buns, Carol asked if she could give me the senior discount. I asked how old I had to be and she asked how old I was. Took me about 20 seconds to guess right. It’s the drugs. Mostly.

So, our breakfast went from $8.83 down to $6.20. You can’t beat a deal like that. Plus they play the best music at Whataburger. Buddy Holly, Peter and Gordon, Del Shannon… It’s the best, Jerry! Oh, and did I mention that Carol was sweet?

There is no picture anywhere
of the Bacon Brk on a bun.
Here's the sausage.

After breakfast, which I ended up paying for, we went to Home Depot. While Kay was studying mulch, I went shopping for some Minwax Wood Hardener. Johnnie Chuoke, the Happy Handyman, said it would save rotten wood. He know stuff. I hope.

When I was checking out at the self-checking place, a clerk walked up and asked for my driver’s license. I handed it to her and she walked to her cash register and typed in stuff. I didn’t ask why, because nothing was making a great deal of sense to me.

Right after I loaded Kay’s mulch, I told her about the driver’s license check. She suggested that I find out why I was carded. So, I went back and stuck my head inside the manager’s office and startled this lady. She was apparently not used to customers being in the non-store part of the store.

When I asked her about the driver’s license thing, she told me that I either bought something I could make a bomb out of or something I could inhale. She studied me pretty hard after mentioning inhalation.

I said, “What? Minwax.” She nodded. I stood there awhile and mumbled some stuff. I have no idea. She waved me out with her head.

When we got home, Kay started working outside with the mulch. I came up here to tell you about being sick. I’m sick. Too sick to help Kay with the mulching. I tried to explain that to her, but she just waved me off with her head. I’ve been getting that a lot.

I had a weird day, haven’t I? I not only got a senior discount on my breakfast, but I also got carded at Home Depot to make sure I’m old enough to buy Minwax.

Right now it’s time for me to take another pill from the Mucus bottle. It’s been six hours since my last one and I can take one every four hours. So, I’m gonna leave you now and, uh, go take something. Next time, I’ll feel so much better. Unless you’re thinking of using me to move stuff. I won’t be 100 percent for a long time. For two people I know it’ll be like forever.

To see Mark and Brad's review of Sticky Ribs BBQ click here: Sticky Ribs

Monday, February 21, 2011

"We can dance"

Kay finally retired. Don’t know if you knew that. Yep, she’s now home with me, and lovin’ every minute of it.

Me? Well, I like it. It doesn’t pay much, but we can go where and when we want. Oh, and we can dance if we want to. "We can leave our friends behind, ‘cause your friends don’t dance and if they don’t dance, well…" I’m sorry. That song is now stuck in my brain. I hope you’re happy.

While I may have symptoms of retirement, I’m not. It’s just Kay. My schedule is as flexible as all get out, but I’ve got responsibilities. Don’t think I don’t.

For one thing, it’s my job to sit, drink coffee and talk to you guys once a week. I have to pick the topic and do most of the talking. It’s not easy, what I do. You don’t notice so much, but we have one or two whiners among us. Oh, yes we do. See? You’ve started already.

Then I’ve got some other writing stuff to complete. I write all the time, unless something comes up. Like maybe I notice Paladin’s picture is crooked on the wall, or some celery needs deveined, or Spider Solitaire suddenly appears on the screen. Other than stuff like that, I’m a writing fool. -- What?

Oh, and once a week I have to eat out with restaurant critic Brad Meyer, and then go to his studio to video the review. Brad is no joy, let me tell you. He called the house the other day and Kay answered. Bradford says, "Hey, is fat and ugly in?" I’ll buy ugly. In fact, ugly is paid for. But fat? Portly is so much less hurtful.

Getting past that, let me say that I do a bunch of other low paying things. A lot. So, I’m not completely retired.

And, to be honest, neither is Kay. The girl makes jewelry. Necklaces and earrings and toe studs. I made up the toe studs. Kay even has her own company name. Kay’s Creations. Isn’t that neat? It’d be hard to put the word "creation" next to my name without getting tickled. Brad would laugh his big rear off. (Hey, I give as good as I get.)

The only problem with Kay’s jewelry-making involves where she does it. She works in the study right behind me. I’m facing the window, she’s facing the back of my head. Doesn’t bither me a bot. (What movie is that from? Gig Young delivered the line.)

When you make jewelry you have to talk to yourself a lot. I had no idea. I’m sitting there trying to come up with a transition to take us from ice cream sandwiches to a noisy ceiling fan, and I hear, "Crimpers. Where are my crimpers? I’ve got to… wait a minute. I’ll just…" I defy you to keep your train of thought on track when somebody’s talking crimpers behind your back.

So now you know why I flit all over the place in my writings? -- No, that’s not right. I flitted long before Kay started making jewelry in front of my back. You knew that. Some of you mentioned it back in the Twentieth Century.

Regardless, retirement takes some adjustment. How long the adjustment period lasts is hard to figure. Some adjustments take till death. If your husband has been dead for five years, and you still get upset at him being in the kitchen with you, well, you need that "Medium" lady. Patricia Arquette? I think that’s her.

Speaking of which, the kitchen is one area that has caused tension in our household. I used to cook every meal. I got good at it, too. Now Kay’s shoving me out of the way and taking command of the kitchen. Her kitchen.

I wouldn’t mind so much, but she does so many things wrong. Doesn’t put nearly enough butter and oil into stuff. And, cheese? Don’t get me started. She gets these zero calorie cheese sticks and tries to melt ‘em into some of her dishes. What a funky taste and texture. It’s like putting a golf ball in a skillet and melting it into your noodles.

Oh, and cleaning up? I used to take care of the cleaning. I’d vacuum and mop and wash clothes. Stuff like that. Well, Kay told me that tomorrow we’re cleaning out my closet. She already cleaned hers, and figured it was my turn.

My closet is not like hers. It’s a lot smaller and has fewer shoes. But, it’s got stuff in there that hasn’t seen light in forever. Valuable stuff. Kay wants me to get rid of all my teaching materials. Boxes of notes and tests and overheads and seating charts. She says that after five years, I might as well accept the fact that I’m not going back to the classroom.

I know she’s right, but I’ve got a lot of important stuff in those boxes. Took me ages to compile it all. I thought Kay would at least wait until I died before tossing them. She’s not only NOT going to wait for me to kick the proverbial pail, but she’s going to make me do the tossing. That’s not tough love. That’s savage love, you ask me.

Before I married her, there was no sign of any of this. I had to wait 39 years to find this stuff out. She’s a tricker girl, this one. Oh, and -- forget the transition -- we’re going to start exercising. Get this, we’re going to start doing Zumba dancing. Jill told Kay how much fun it is. My own sister encouraging Savage Woman!

I hope you realize I’m exaggerating a bit about my frustration. Truth is, I’m adjusting quite well to Kay’s retirement. She got adjusted two minutes into her first day.

I’m sure this is going to be great. Did I mention that we can go where we want to? Oh, yeah. "A place where they’ll never find. And we can act like we come from out of this world, leave the real one far behind. And we can dance…" Men Without Hats. They’re killin’ me. I’ll be cleaning out my closet to that song.


To watch Brad and Mark’s recent restaurant review below.

Wahoo's Fish Taco


Friday, February 11, 2011

Record cold roofsit

“Turning blue on the roof”

Do you want to know why we’re sitting on this frigid roof today? You look like you wanna know. We’re up here because I wanted to establish the coldest roofsitting experience.

Before today it would be just a wild out-your-ear guess. Forty-one degrees? Thirty-nine? Nope, we can now say with all certainty that the coldest roofsit is 27 degrees. And that it’s happening right now. Feel it?

Like I say, that’s the reason we’re here right now, to establish a record. Wasn’t for that, we’d be inside talking about how to replace a vacuum cleaner belt. I can now save that topic for when I need somethig interesting to write about.

Do you happen to know what the wind chill is? No, I don’t mean what the definition of wind chill is. Nobody knows that. I’m talking about the number. What is it right now? The real temperature is 27 degrees and the wind is blowing. So, how cold does it feel?

Frieda, I can see where you’d guess 50 below. Look what you’re wearing! You came up here, sat down and acted like you had good sense. One word – layer. Two words -- you didn’t.

Speaking of which. Do you know how much heat you lose through your neck? A bunch. That’s why I’ve got Kay’s scarf wrapped around my neck. See? Cute, huh? This scarf is keeping me reasonably warm right now. Were I to take it off and give it to, say, Frieda, I’d be unreasonably cold. Can’t have that. Scarfs. I don’t think most men have taken enough advantage of them. This man hasn’t.

By the way, the wind chill is currently 14 degrees. Probably. Who can know? Oh, and Larry calls it “windshield.” He’ll say, “Hey, Mark, the windshield is 22 right now.” He may be joking, but with Larry, you can’t always be sure.

For those of you doing the whining, let me say that we won’t be up here that long. As soon as my coffee is gone, we’ll get off this frozen metallic incline. Oh, and yes, Calvin, it’s perfectly safe to stick your tongue to the roof. Nincompoop.

There is one thing we need not worry about during the cold spell. Water pipes. I wrapped those bubbas yesterday. Waited till the last minute because I didn’t want to wrap them in anticipation of cold weather that never came. So, when the cold arrived, I wrapped. About froze my posterior.

Which reminds me, have you ever wrapped a faucet with a pair of your underwear? Me neither, but I have used mine. They worked pretty well. Briefs, not boxers. I’ve never tried boxers, because I have none to spare. I’ve been wearing boxers ever since I started buying my own underwear. When I turned 40. Don’t know what came over me.

I don’t like the look nor the feel of briefs. And, no, I don’t care to argue the matter. However, I do want to mention another use (a better use) for briefs. Like I said, wrapping faucets. I put three of them in the rag pile. Briefs not faucets.

I wasn’t able to use underwear til now. Kay won’t let me use ‘em for cleaning and dusting. Says it’s just doesn’t sit right with her. So, when I came up with the idea to use ‘em to wrap the faucets, I chose not to tell her. Didn’t want her to obsess.

During my wrapping, I threw a pair on the hood of the car under the carport, thinking I’d use ‘em on the side of the house. Decided against it. Used a big tarp instead. That evening, Kay came out and found the briefs on the car. So, she grabs ‘em, walks up to me and says, “How many times do I have to tell you to keep your underwear off the car?” Isn’t she a hoot? If she wasn’t married, I’d— wait a minute. Never mind.

When I finished wrapping the pipes, I called Freeman to tell him the news. I occasionally like to brag on myself. Turned out, Freeman wasn’t all that impressed. He told me that he’s had his pipes wrapped for four years. He’s always topping me.

While that is weird, this may be weirder. Last night, Kay and I were snuggled on the couch watching one of those detective CSI, NCIS, Cold Case things. You know, where two hours after it’s over, you can’t remember who did the killing or why. At the end, they just throw in something about the baker being the accountant’s step daughter, and she killed him to keep him quiet about stealing the dog from the neighbor. You knew nothing about this till the last five minutes. How mysterious.

Anyway, all I remember is that it was cold and we finally went up stairs to bed. So, I’m coming down for breakfast and what do I see? Right there on the coffee table is a houseshoe and an exercise bra. I have no idea.

I did know the houseshoe was mine, because it was the mirror image of the one on my right foot. I knew the exercise bra wasn’t mine, because I don’t exercise.

I didn’t know whether to put on the shoe and hide the bra, or just take off my other shoe and start exercising. Since Kay was right behind me on the steps, I did neither. “There was a time when I would remember how those got there. But, right now, I have no recollection.” That’s what I said.

Kay couldn’t remember how they got there, either. But, as long as the bra fit one of us, she wasn’t all that worried.

And, speaking of long johns, I couldn’t find mine. Last time I ran across ‘em was back in mid-August. Won’t find ‘em again till— Whoa! My coffee is gone. We’ll have to take up the long johns another day. Maybe during the vacuum cleaner article.

Right now we need to get off this frozen peak. Frieda first. The poor girl has turned a shade of blue that just doesn’t look good. Anybody have a scarf for Frieda? Anybody? -- Next time.


To watch Brad and Mark’s review of Smokey Mo’s BBQ click on: Smokey Mo's

You can reach Mark at

Saturday, February 5, 2011

People all over the world hit this one.

“Widely read article”

Do you know which of my articles in the last couple of years was the most widely read? No, I didn’t ask if you cared. And, yes, that was rude, Celia. You cut me deep. --Honk! I’m okay now.

Truth is, like most of you, I can’t remember what I wrote last week. Maybe like all of you. -- Whoa! True Grit! It just came to me.

But, forget True Grit. Well, try. While last week’s piece could conceivably end up being the most widely read, it certainly isn’t to date. No, the article that wins that distinction was one that appeared in The Villager on March 25, 2010. It was one of my Rooftop pieces.

If I had a copy of the old article, I’d tell you the title. All I know is the name I stuck on it when it appeared on the Rooftop Website. I called it “Happy Day.” I assure you The Boss gave it a better name before it went to press.

Anyway, Big Al set up our Rooftop Website,, years ago. It has pictures and videos of some of the productions we’ve been involved with. And, it also has a place where you can view my past articles. Not future ones. Big Al’s working on that as we speak. If he’s successful, it’s gonna be so much easier for me to write stuff.

I generally stick a new article on our Website about a week after it appears in the newspaper. I do that in case you go on vacation and get a week behind. Not a weak behind. That’s something all together different.

Right now there are only two years worth of articles on the site. If you haven’t seen it, get your buns over there… just not now.

So, temporarily forget this shameless promotion. Let’s get to the article that people from all over the world looked at. I can’t be sure they read it, but I can assure you they clicked on it. – Uh, for the two of you who know less about the Internet than I do, “click on it” means that somebody Googled me or some item that appeared in the article and clicked their mouse on one of their findings. When they do that, the article gets what is called a hit.

Okay, Sarah and Mitch have that glazed-over look, so lets get past my poor explanation skills.

I will tell you that I can determine how many “hits” the site gets, and from what countries they come from. Fortunately, I can’t determine who hit me. I don’t want to know who hit me, nor do I want the people I hit to know that I hit ‘em. – Can we get past this?

First off, a few people in the U.S. of A. logged onto the “Happy Day” article. But, and it’s a big BUT, we also got hits from Britain, The Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, Estonia, China and a few other lesser-known areas. Did you know that there’s a Ukwhatistan? There must be a “Country-Naming for Idiots” publication.

But forget that. The question we all need answered is why has no one invented the chocolate covered Cheeto? But, more to the point, why would someone living overseas want to find one of my articles.

Well, I zipped over to the article and did some research. I found the article by zipping over to the Rooftop Website and clicking on “Mark’s Column” and then-- Oh, forget it. Sarah and Mitch are just coming out of their coma. No need to hit ‘em again.

Bottom line, I found the article and instantly noticed a couple of pictures that I had included with the piece. The first is of a cute, little red/orange-chested bird. I put the photo in, ‘cause the article had to do with a conversation I was having with you on the roof. A one-sided conversation.

I was talking about the different birds in the yard and mentioned how Kay has a knack for naming birds. If she doesn’t know the official name, she makes up something sappy like, “Little Sweet Birds” or “Peep Peep” birds.

In the article, I went on to say -- “I think that’s why God let a man name all the animals. ‘Blue-footed Booby.’ That’s a man’s name for a gull-like bird. Genius!” -- I then inserted a photo of a Booby. A Blue-Footed one.

And, that is where we find the attraction for the article. It had nothing to do with me or my article. No, people wanted to see the photo of The Booby.

The realization of this just disappointed the daylights out of me. And, it obviously upset a few of those who landed on the article. One person commented, “This is the stupidest ocker I ever read. This guy’s a real drongo dunny budge.” I’m pretty sure it was one of the Australians. I’m just glad he’s on the far side of the globe.

Yes, the comments really hurt, but I can see where people may have been just a bit disappointed in their search results. I would assure them that I did not intentionally entice them to the Website, but they’ll never know ‘cause they’ll never be back. I’m now an outcast in the Outback.

Unless… Okay, this may bring ‘em back. Bear with me here. – “Everyone on the planet is born in the nuddy.”

“Nuddy” is Australian for “starkers”, which is British for “gzbldak” which is Ukwhatistan for “naked.” If I knew the word for “naked” in all the other languages, the people might come back to see that my use of “Blue-Footed Booby” was not a trick to lure them in. Of course, the nuddy thing is intentional, but it’s for a good cause.

The big problem I now face has to do with what picture to include with this article when it appears on the Rooftop Website. What photo can I insert for “nuddy?”

Whatever it is will certainly disappoint. Hopefully, the Australian stinker isn’t a real dolly whopper, or he just might buy a plane ticket. Then I’ll really be in deep frazzle caddie. – Uh, someone wakeup Sarah and Mitch. Somebody? -- Next time.

To view Brad and Mark's latest restaurant review click on -- El Bosque's