Saturday, February 23, 2013

We used to call 'em thongs.

Flip Flops -- No can wear

    The evolution of the shoe is a fascinating subject… to about a half dozen people. Today, I find myself among ‘em.

You can trace my allure for foot coverings as far back as yesterday. It was right after Brad and I exited a restaurant in the Market Street area of The Woodlands. As we discussed what we didn’t get the wives for Valentines, I noticed a shop that sold predominantly flip-flops. I think it was called The Flip Flop Shop.

As Brad walked past, I stopped to study the different varieties of flip-flops in the window display. Realizing that we had taken my car, Brad walked back to the shop window and said, “I can’t wear those things.”

That was so weird, ‘cause that’s just what I was thinking. I was thinking that Brad can’t wear— I mean that I can’t wear flip-flops. Actually I can, but I hate to. Not only do I find it uncomfortable walking with an object between my toes, I don’t like my shoe flipping and flopping as I walk.

We used to call ‘em “thongs.” you know. We don’t call ‘em that anymore ‘cause it creates a mental picture that burns. “Can I help you, sir?” – “Yes, I’m looking for something in a black thong.”

No, “flip-flop” is a good name for ‘em. “Hard-to-walks” would also be good. “Shuffle-shoes” another appropriate name. That’s the only way I can wear flip-flops or sandals. I have to shuffle my feet.

Some of you are not old enough to remember Tim Conway on “The Carol Burnett Show.” Occasionally, Conway would mimic an old person by walking in a short shuffle. It was funny, for the first 10 seconds. Unfortunately, that’s the only way I can wear thongs—uh, flip-flops. I have to shuffle. Do you know what happens to you after the foot-shuffling stage of your life? They put you in the ground.

I thought Kay was aware of my disdain for things that make me shuffle. Listen to this. Kay urged me to buy a pair of Crocs for yard work. Crocs are those heavy plastic, wide-toed, weird-looking shoes with holes.

So, I bought a pair at Academy. I chose the camouflage design, so the neighbors wouldn’t notice. And, I got a pair with a strap across the back, so I wouldn’t be flipping and flopping in the yard. The next morning I got those buddies out so I could inspect the fiefdom, and low-and-behold Kay had removed the straps. She said that it would make it possible to put the shoes on without bending over.

Any shoe that you can put on without bending over is not a shoe. It’s merely a loose footpad. I don’t pine the loss of my Crocs. I feel sure that shoes that come with holes in the top will collect dew of a morning. I don’t like to start the day with wet socks. Perhaps I’m asking too much out of life.

Speaking of houseshoes, those things have been a wonderment since their invention back in 1894. My research is peccable. When they were first invented, houseshoes were called “slippers.” I’ve made it fairly clear that I don’t like shoes that  you slip-on. That’s why I buy “houseshoes.”

Brad says that “houseshoes” is the effeminate name for “slippers.” He is so enlightened. Regardless what they’re called, they have a half-life of about two months. That’s because they stretch like crazy.

Until recently I’ve always purchased houseshoes that actually fit. After a couple of months they become enlarged to the point that I have to shuffle to keep them on.

If you scratched this thing, you’ll uncover a conspiracy that can be traced to China. It was in 1984 that the stretchable shoe-sole was discovered by accident in a Shinyang sweatshop. Americans have been shuffling ever since. 

I’ve managed to circumvent the Chinese ploy by purchasing houseshoes that don’t fit. I wear about a 10, but purchased a size eight last month. The shoes are just now beginning to fit. Obviously, as soon as this article is distributed abroad, the Chinese shoe industry will be brought to its knees. Next target? Mislabeling “Medium” shirts as “XL.”

    Well, our time’s up and I never really got much into the history of the shoe. Cavemen first called them uglops. Roughly translated it means “Mastodon ear.” I’ll have to save the rest of the story for another time. Let me tell you, it’s fascinating.


You can contact Mark at

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Reaction to giant egg in the park.

    How many times have you taken a test or had a job interview or cheerleader tryout and found yourself unprepared? It’s happened to me twice in recent weeks, and it wasn’t my fault… either time.

    Have you seen the commercial about the big egg in a park handing out boxes of cereal? I auditioned for that commercial. Did you see me anywhere in it? No, I was unprepared during the audition, because of my agent.

I doubt my agent could pick me out of a lineup. That’s largely because I seldom go to the office, and I look nothing like my headshot.

Regardless, my agent e-mailed me the time and place for the cereal audition. I’d be a guy walking in a park with his wife and a dog on a leash. No dialog. No mention of a big egg. Piece of cake, right?

I replied to the e-mail, asking if I would be the one walking the dog, or if my unknown wife might handle the leash. I’m not good with dogs. My agent shot back one of those text comments. <:- br="" good="" i="" idiot="" into="" it.="" m="" nbsp="" not="" read="" somehow="" things.="" those="" with="">
The audition was filmed in a small studio. Not in a park. Against one of the walls in the room was a big piece of cardboard with a tiny window. Two ladies and I were hurried into the room, and the director told us to pretend to be walking in the park, and reacting to the sight of a giant egg. Someone inside the egg would hand us boxes of cereal. – “Ready? Quiet on the set! And—“

A giant egg? Nobody told me about a giant egg. How do you act when you see a really big egg? I needed time to think, so I interrupted and asked about the dog. I had practiced dog walking, but there was no dog.

The guy told me to forget the dog. I asked which lady was supposed to be my wife. He told me I had no wife. I asked about dialog. Since my wife and dog had been taken from me, I figured maybe dialog was added. The director said. – “Sure, okay. Say whatever you’d say if you saw a giant egg in the park. And, action!”

I’m fairly sure I over reacted when I saw the make-believe egg. I do that sometimes. Hard to believe, but I didn’t get the part. When the commercial came out it had a real-lookingl giant egg. The people who saw it didn’t act scared or even surprised. When a hand came out of the egg, they just reached over and grabbed the free cereal.

I wasn’t what they were looking for, largely because I didn’t know what they were looking for. I had intended to play off of a dog and my unknown wife. Instead, I had to make up stuff to say to a really big egg. I had no idea it would be like that.  <:- br="">
A week or two after that, crazy ol’ Brad Meyer and I went to the Owen Theater in Conroe to audition for a part in The Players Theater Company Old Time Radio Hour. In a few weeks, The Players will broadcast its first radio production – A Philip Marlow episode – on Lone Star Internet Radio.

Brad actually came to write a story about the upcoming event, but also wanted to audition to be the announcer. Brad’s was once a disk jockey and thought his voice would work well in an announcer’s role.

When Brad’s turn came, he was ushered into the audition room, handed a script and told to read for one of thugs, a guy named Baldy. Normally, Brad wouldn’t even have to act to be a thug, but, boy, was he a flop. He even told me so. When Brad says he did bad, you know he stunk up the place, ‘cause he never does bad.

I went in to read for Marlow, but was handed a script and was asked to read for Baldy. Why was this happening to me? Fortunately, unlike Bradly, I had prepared myself for all the roles. Even the lady parts. Hey, you never know.  

Turns out, I got the part of  Waldo, a sarcastic guy who gets iced in the first scene. Brad? He got nothin’, nada, zilch cakes. Serves him right for being unprepared.

He’ll know better next time. The Players plan to produce a show each month. The second show will actually be broadcast live with an audience. How cool is that.

    I plan to write a script for a husband and wife team and submit it to the director, Craig Campobella. If he likes it enough to try it out, he’ll probably assign my part to crazy ol’ Brad and let me play the lady in the grocery store. A lot of stuff happens to me in the grocery store.

    If some of you decide to crawl out of your rut and audition for stuff, be prepared to be unprepared. They might take your dog and your spouse. They may even turn you into a sarcastic dead guy. But, it’s generally a really fun experience. Unless you’re like Brad. He’s a real <:- br="">
To view Brad and Mark’s video of their visit to The Woodlands Taste of town, click below.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Doin' great

Scratch your own back

    Less than a few of you have asked how I’m doin’. I’m great. I just got back from seeing my urologist and got a big thumbs up. Figuratively.

    Seems my prostate hasn’t grown back, nor have any new kidney stones formed. I was so happy with the news that I considered hugging the doc, but I remembered reading somewhere that 62 percent of all urologists prefer not to be hugged. I think it’s urologists. Somebody doesn’t like hugging.

    I haven’t been letting on, but I’ve really been concerned about kidney stones. I’ve been drinking a lot more water and not eating nearly as much dry toast since my last attack. The toast part is unrelated, but I thought it worth mentioning. 

    Since my eighth attack, I get scared when I get even the slightest ache anywhere below my neck. At least I did before I got the thumbs up.  Now I’m good for another year or so.

    And, guess what else. A couple of weeks back I got a flu shot. It’s only my second. I got my first flu shot from the school nurse at Oak Ridge High a bunch of years ago. They had a special deal for teachers. We got a free chalkboard eraser with each shot. It was something like that.

Anyway, a few days later I got the flu. If I didn’t get it from the shot, I likely got it from one of three dozen students who came to my desk to bum some of my Kleenexes. Back then, kids were too cool to carry handkerchiefs. I imagine that hasn’t changed.

I also got a shot for shingles. I’ve never had shingles, but Kay has. She had a slight case on her forehead once. She tried to hide it by combing her hair over her face, but the touch of hair to her skin hurt too much. When hair hurts, that’s not good.

A month ago, while I was talking to some of the guys at church about urination frequency, Kay got in a conversation with some of the ladies about shingles. Fellowship takes different forms.

One lady said that she got shingles in her eye. Someone else got ‘em across the stomach. Another on top of her head. From what Kay told me, shingles is not particular.

Kay seems to think that you can only get shingles if you’ve had chickenpox. I choose to believe her because Kay is smart, and because chicken pox is the only childhood disease I’ve ever had. Mumps, measles, whooping cough, tonsillitis… I dodged ‘em all. If that’s not a harbinger for shingles, nothing is.  

The only ailment I ever hoped to get was mononucleosis. With mono you could miss school for 40 days. We called it the kissing disease, but I heard that you could also get it from unwashed vegetables. I knew I’d come closer to eating sullied greenery than I would to kissing a girl, so I wolfed down a bunch of unwashed lettuce. Nothing.

Truth is, I’m not sure Mom washed food back then. This was before Americans got so obsessed with health. I imagine we ate so many tainted vegetables back then that most of us developed an immunity to a lot of ailments. Unfortunately, I must’ve developed a resistance to mono. Just my luck.

Other than kidney stones, allergies and colds, I don’t get sick very often. Oh, I’ll get an occasional rash, but nothing that develops into something bad. And, that’s a good thing, ‘cause I doubt there is a husband in this county who has had his back scratched or rubbed less than I have. Even the rare times that Kay has a mind to scratch, she’s bad at it. -- Sly, this one. 

Can you believe there is no back-scratcher in this house? We’ve got a 30-year-old bottle of earwax remover, but no back-scratcher.

Last week I was walking down the baking goods aisle at Kroger and noticed a sale on salad tongs -- Buy one, get one FREE! I bought one for salad tossing and got the other one for back scratching. I haven’t tried it yet, but have high hopes.

From all of this, you can discern that my health is fine. Of course, I could have a fall tomorrow, but I can deal with it… just as long as my kidneys are stone free.

Yeah, I think I should’ve put on some rubber gloves and hugged my urologist. He may not be one of the 62 percent with hug issues, but best not to take chances with a urologist. I’m just sayin’. – Next time.


To watch a Whine and Dine video featuring Hole in the Wall Grill, click below.

Hole in the wall Grill -- James Canada