Saturday, February 18, 2006

Guest Blogger: Dobie Maxwell

Dobie Maxwell is one of the most accomplished stand-up comedians working in America today. He'll be at Zanies in Chicago this week (Feb 21-26). I highly recommend his stand up act. I think I'm going to check it out again, if somebody wants to join me--drop me a line--we can go together. If you aren't in Chicago, keep a look out for his name. He plays in comedy clubs all over the country. (If you are in a town that has "The Bob & Tom Show," you've probably heard Dobie many times. He is a semi-regular guest on that show.)

I got to know Dobie when I was briefly consulting his radio show in Chicago. He was one of the Morning Loop Guys for a little more than a year. When the company that owned the station (WLUP) was sold, Dobie was fired along with the rest of the morning team.

Chicago Sun Times columnist Robert Feder described it this way in his Jan 14th 2005 column.
"In its farewell under Bonneville International, classic rock WLUP had its best book in more than a year. New owner Emmis Communications dumped "Loop Morning Guys" Dobie Maxwell, Max Bumgardner and Spike Manton just as they were showing solid growth."

Dobie responds: "Welcome to Showbusiness. That's just what happens sometimes. They blow out a morning show for no good reason, maybe just to give their friends a new job. That happens a lot in radio. So, Mr. Lucky gets it right up the asteroid. It was a great job, and working with Greg Solk, Max, Spike and Bruce Wolf, was working with true professionals in the biz."

Ahem, I'm sure he also meant to include my name in that quote.

One of his signature bits on that show was called the "60 Second Soapbox", a rant about the subject of the day.

I asked him to write one for President's Day, and this is what he sent me.

60 Second Soapbox: Presi-dense Day
by Dobie Maxwell

Brothers and sisters, misses and misters, flag wavers and time savers - thanks for taking time out to read my random ramblings. Before I expound any further on said topic, first let me say that I am a proud American. I love my country warts and all and I love to do American things.

I eat hot dogs, even though I know what's really in them. I vote whatever Tuesday they tell me to show up. Whenever I can I outsource jobs to countries whose names I can't even pronounce.

I wouldn't live anywhere else in the world if they paid me, except of course if I could be a judge when they pick the Swedish Bikini Team. I love the U.S. of A. and that's no B.S. All that being said, I think that President's Day in it's current form is totally useless and needs to be chopped down like George Washington's infamous cherry tree. I cannot tell a lie either, it's STUPID.

Every year I get my cheapo calendar from my insurance agent with the bad toupee and every year I flip through it to see how many Friday the 13ths there are or if there are any sexy pictures of hot babes who've been in car accidents the previous year. There never are and like a BAD neighbor, it annoys the hell out of me. I also check to see when the holidays are and inevitably there is always a Monday set aside for President's Day. I seem to remember as a kid that both Lincoln and Washington's birthday were both around the same time in February and were each a separate event but someone must have stuck a feather in them both and called it macaroni.

I always thought being President of The United States was something to shoot for, but evidently it's only something to shoot AT. Old Honest Abe took a bullet for our land and he gets his birthday clumped in with a guy with wooden teeth and some furniture and bed sheet sales. That's not a very good way to pay tribute to Mr. Stovepipe hat, even if we did put him on TWO pieces of our money. $5.01 is NOT payment enough for such a major disrespect.

George Washington got a raw deal too. Here is a guy who did it FIRST, and had to go through life with a hairdo that looks like Buckwheat walked home in a blizzard and he doesn't even get his props, even though he got two pieces of currency too. A buck and a quarter doesn't cut it.

But what about all the other esteemed leaders of our land? They don't get even one iota of love on this meaningless 'holiday'. When was the last time a Rutherford B. Hayes question was on a final exam to qualify for citizenship? Is there a Chester A. Arthur Memorial in Washington D.C.? How about ANYWHERE? Presidents are like Super Bowls, there aren't that many of them and they are supposed to be special but most of them usually fall far short of expectations.

I am usually reminded it's President's Day when I go to the bank on a random Monday and am caught off guard when the door is locked as I try to beat the rubber checks I wrote over the past weekend to the teller's window. I then curse and swear and try to calculate how much in fees it will cost me for the bounced checks, and never ONCE do I take time to honor our esteemed and long dead forefathers of freedom.

I think rather than close banks and post offices and make everyone angry and inconvenienced, I say we have a national trivia contest to learn the facts about ALL our former presidents, not just George and Abe. That way if we know about the past we can maybe do a little better when electing them in the future. We should know what Nixon's favorite wrestling hold was or if Harry Truman could do a cart wheel or if Jimmy Carter had webbed feet. There have to be all kinds of random bits of information that slipped through the historical cracks over the years. I think we as Americans have a right to know. What kind of booze did Ulysses S. Grant like the best? Did Thomas Jefferson play Yahtzee? And just how big WAS that stick Teddy Roosevelt carried?

The prizes could be a year off paying tax or free unlimited postage for a year. The government is already broke so this little perk wouldn't make it any worse. This way we'd all look FORWARD to President's Day and wouldn't be so stupid when it comes to actually knowing anything about who's in charge and ultimately makes decisions that affect all of us. I don't know about you, but this seems like a great idea to me. I'm sure it will seem even greater when I stupidly go to the bank on that Monday like I usually do, even though I wrote this article and it should serve as a warning. I may be too stupid to heed the warning but there is still hope for you. Good luck!

I'm Dobie Maxwell, proud American. And THAT is all the people need to know.

Dobie teaches a stand up comedy class at Zanies. This is the book he wrote for that class.

Dobie has one CD out and is in the process of putting out another one. Check out his website:

Friday, February 17, 2006

This Week News & Views (Feb 11-Feb 17)

This Week News & Views
By Rick Kaempfer

There really was only one story this week, but it was a doozy...

*Dick Cheney Shoots Man
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas--The Vice President of the United States, Dick Cheney, accidentally shot a hunting partner during a weekend quail hunting trip at a lobbyist's ranch in Texas. The victim, 78 year old Attorney Harry Whittington, was shot at close range in the face, neck, and chest.
Katharine Armstrong, who witnessed the shooting from the car said "he was peppered pretty good." While recovering in a Texas hospital, Whittington suffered a mild heart attack.

It's a big story, but I couldn't really think of an angle. Oh no, wait a minute. Here are 24 angles.

1. It took Cheney 95 hours before he made a public comment. I guess, under the circumstances, he decided it wasn't a good idea to shoot his mouth off.

2. When he finally did talk to Fox News, he explained that he kept the story hidden so that the truth would be told. (Cough) Okey dokey.

3. The pundits were aghast that the reporters were so callous that they didn't even ask how Cheney was feeling. I'm sorry, did you just use "Cheney" and "feeling" in the same sentence? I think that's officially grammatically incorrect.

4. When Brit Hume asked Cheney if this accident had made him reconsider his love of hunting, Cheney pointed out that he did cancel the Sunday hunt that was scheduled. And you thought he had no feelings.

5. Typical biased media. The press only focuses on the bad things about Cheney. Why don't they ever report about the people he didn't shoot?

6. When Brit Hume asked him how close he was to Whittington, Cheney said they were acquaintances--not close friends. "This was the first time we were hunting together," he said. I'm guessing it's also the last.

7. I thought Cheney's re-creation of the shooting was pretty convincing. Cheney said, "Harry, can I ask you a question?" and Whittington responded, "Sure, Dick. Shoot."

8. Cheney admitted he had one beer earlier that day. Police have determined that alcohol wasn't an issue in this case because they interviewed him only fourteen hours after the shooting and he wasn't drunk. Somewhere on Long Island Billy Joel is firing his lawyer.

9. Cheney also wouldn't let them look at the gun. That one I can understand. Everyone knows you can't trust weapons inspectors.

10. The "witness" to the shooting, Katharine Armstrong, who later described the shooting in detail to the press, said her first reaction upon seeing the security staff running into the field was concern something had happened to the Vice President. Cross-examining attorneys refer to that kind of quality "eye witness" as a "LaTroy Hawkins fastball right down the middle."

11. The third person in the hunting party, U.S. ambassador to Switzerland & Liechtenstein Pamela Pitzer Willeford, allegedly asked; "Who wants to shoot first?" And Whittington responded: "I'm game."

12. Should the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein really be in Texas when the Winter Olympics are underway? This is the only time every four years that anyone cares about either country.

13. As he lay on the ground, the victim said; "Mr. Vice President, I think you hit me in the heart." "Shake it off, Harry," Cheney responded. "I've been living without one since 1991."

14. The strangest part of this story is the way they broke from protocol. Usually they shoot the messenger.

15. In the Brit Hume interview, Cheney used the word "accuracy" eight times. Um, Mr. Vice President...I'm thinking you should stay away from that word for awhile.

16. Cheney's own health is so fragile, he has an ambulance follow him wherever he goes. That may have helped save Whittington's life in this case. At least this time the lawyer ended up in the ambulance instead of chasing it.

17. Republican tort reform. One lawyer at a time.

18. I found myself feeling sorry for Brit Hume during the interview. He did ask one tough question--and Cheney didn't like it. Hume implied that there was plenty of information that could have been released to the public on Saturday night even though they didn't know Whittington's exact condition. That's when Cheney produced a note from Epstein's mother.

19. Brit Hume said earlier this week that he didn't think "anyone in the country feels deprived that we didn't learn about this story for a few days." You've got to love his journalistic instincts and curiosity.

20. Hume also said he got the interview because "Cheney wanted the biggest audience possible." That's absolutely true. Other than the three network newscasts which have up to five times more viewers, and the network newsmagazines which have even more viewers, Fox News has the highest ratings. It wasn't because Cheney read Hume's quote in #19.

21. This was traumatic for Cheney. After he shot the man he had Vietnam flashbacks. Oh no wait, sorry. Wrong guy. He had Vietnam flashbacks after he drank his beer at lunch that day.

22. The reaction among Democrats has been predictable. Ted Kennedy pointed out the double standard: "Cheney left a woman (Katharine Armstrong) in a car too, and nobody is giving him a hard time about it."

23. Don't you wonder what kind of beer he was drinking at lunch? My guess: Killians.

24. Of all the days for the White Sox to get booked to visit the White House, it just happens to be the day news comes out that the Vice President shot somebody in the face. It turned out to be a good thing for Paul Konerko, who may have been a tad underdressed.

This Week: ALMANAC

*Susan B. Anthony Day (Feb 15)
This holiday honors one of the first women’s rights advocates. She dedicated her adult life working for women’s right to vote. It wasn’t enacted into law until fourteen years after her 1906 death.
=I always celebrate this day by buying the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

*Yoko One’s Birthday (Feb 18)
The widow of John Lennon, who this past week was given the honor of opening the Olympic Games in Torino, will be 73 years old tomorrow.
=She is starting to look a little closer to her age lately, but, knock on wood, she still has her pleasant singing voice.

Reader Response

Regarding John Moran's Guest Blog on Divorced Dating

"Hey John, do you ever use your sons to troll for hot moms? I like to do it at the doctor's office."

John Responds: "Thanks for the tip. I'll include it in the rotation of Target, the grocery store, and all kid's sporting/school events."

Regarding last week's "News & Views"

"You actually used the word 'Kvetching'. OK, I busted up at that one. I think, other than Joy Behar, you are the only non-Jew I've ever heard use that word! And willingly and correctly, too..."

Rick Responds: "You're a mensch for noticing."

Regarding Suburban Man's Valentine's Day dilemma.

"I sympathize with your consternation about Valentine's day and the appropriate gift, but I'm sure it has to do with your cultural heritage as well as your sex. German's are simply deficient in the romantic gene:
Russians - ballet
Greeks - theatre
French - the Louvre
Italians - opera
Germans - celebrating the prince's wedding--Octoberfest (no Hallmark card for that holiday)"

"I have to agree with High Maintenance Women. My ex (the martyr) used to say that she didn't want flowers, but it was a ruse. Beware if she starts asking you what her favorite color is; it's a trap and the first sign of trouble."

"Well...what did you get for Valentine's Day from your wife? You have to update us."

Rick responds: The smarty-pants actually gave me a heart-shaped box of chocolates. I bet her secretary picked it out.

Regarding the Bald Minute

"It seems that there are two types of bald men: One in whom the man
predominates, and one in whom the baldness predominates. Examples:
The Man Predominates (Michael Jordan, Bruce Willis, Sean Connery)
The Baldness Predominates (George Costanza, of course, Judge Alito, and
most T.V. weathermen)."

Dave responds: Excellent point. Which one is Dick Cheney?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

From the Archives: Hats off to Harry

Milo Hamilton, the Houston Astros Play-by-Play man and former Cubs broadcaster, has written a book. In the book "Making Airwaves", he has taken quite a few shots at a Chicago icon--Harry Caray.

Among the things he wrote about Harry in his book:

*After Harry left the White Sox to take over the Cubs job, he talked to Milo. Harry told him "Well, kid, if I were you, I'd leave town."

*Milo didn't like the way he broadcasted. "He rode the managers, he rode the players, it didn't matter. He treated everyone the same way. In short, he was a miserable human being."

*When Milo was hospitalized for leukemia in 1982, Harry responded on the air that he "Couldn't understand how a guy can take time off during the season. Unlike some other broadcasters I know, I've never missed a game."

In my nearly twenty years in Chicago radio (and even before that), I ran into Harry Caray many times. Does Milo's version of Harry sound like the Harry I knew? Judge for yourself. Here are a few examples of my Harry encounters.

*In 1984, my radio station in Champaign (WPGU) was carrying the Cubs. I got to go to the affiliate reception at the Hyatt Regency in Chicago with the General Manager of our station (who happened to be my girlfriend at the time). We met Harry, had a few cocktails with him, and he nearly pushed me out of the booth to hit on my girlfriend.

*In 1989, I was producer of the Steve and Garry show. It was their tenth anniversary on the air together, and I called people from their past to relive the memories on the air. Since Harry was the play-by-play man for the White Sox during Steve & Garry's famous Disco Demolition stunt, I called him at his home (he lived in a hotel in my neighborhood). When I told him what show I was calling for, he went nuts on me, and called Steve and Garry every name in the book. Needless to say, he didn't come on. (In fairness to Harry, I called Jimmy Piersall next and he was even more belligerent. I hadn't even heard some of those words before. Whew.)

*In 1994, I was the producer of the John Landecker Show. It was the week before the strike and Harry was our guest. We told him the interview would be about two things; the strike and Harry's encounter about Elvis (a great story we had heard him tell to Bob Costas. Remember, this was an Oldies station.) When John brought up Elvis, Harry said he didn't want to tell the story. When John said he thought the strike was really going to happen, Harry basically called John stupid--saying that there "was no way in hell that will happen. There's too much money at stake." The interview lasted about two minutes.

Granted, I cherry-picked those stories from my many encounters. There were other times he was a great guy, an accomodating guy, and a fun guy. I was actually a huge fan, and I never took any of this stuff personally. For every bad encounter, there wa s a good one. In short, he was human.

So is Milo right? Probably. Is Milo wrong? Definitely.

I could tell that Harry never remembered my name when I saw him, but he did recognize my face. He called me "Kid," like I'm sure he called everyone else under 70. Heck, Milo said he called him "Kid," so maybe he didn't stop at 70. Despite his flaws, Harry was larger than life. Anyone who ever met him, remembers it well.

When he died, I was inspired to write the following song. Landecker & The Legends performed it that whole summer, and it appears on "Landecker & The Legends, Volume 5." It's to the tune of "Hats of to Larry" by Del Shannon. You may not know the tune, but you can still see my affection for him in the lyrics.

"Hats Off to Harry"

When I went to Wrigley Field,
And the seventh inning came,
You weren't in broadcast booth,
It will never be the same,

We miss you Harry, Holy Cow,
I'm here at the old ballpark,
Waiting for your last bow,
But it's God's Plan,
To take away the main Bud Man,
Harry I'm crying in my beer for you.

Though you mispronounced some names,
You are in the Hall of Fame,
Baseball will never be the same.

Hats Off to Harry,
We'll miss your glasses,
We'll miss you in the booth,
Checking out the lasses,
Cruel twist of fate,
Chip's broadcasting behind home plate,
Harry I'm crying in my beer for you.

Bye Harry Caray,
It's not the same,
No more Ryne Sanderson,
No backwards names,
You're the only one,
Who could make a lousy team such fun,
Harry I'm crying in my beer for you.
For You.
For You.
For You.

I also wrote the following article for "Upbeat Chicago" magazine in 1992. This is to show you I didn't just get sentimental about him after Harry died. I really was a fan.

There's Nothing Like Fun From The 'Ol Ballpark
by Rick Kaempfer

From Upbeat Chicago

It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon. My wife rolled out of bed around noon, her usual weekend wake up time, and I was ready for her. The picnic basket was packed to the gills, the cooler was packed with a few frosty cold ones, and the blanket was folded nicely.

"Are we going on a picnic?" she asked.

I nodded in the affirmative, and off we went to Lincoln Park. She was still groggy and groaning.

It was time for a bribe. I handed her a book she had been longing to buy. The groan was replaced by a smile, which was then quickly replaced by a scowl when I pulled the radio out of the picnic basket.

"Are we really going to be listening to a baseball game?"

I comforted her. "No, we're going to listen to two baseball games."

I always thought that listening to sporting events on the radio was an underrated form of entertainment. If the announcers are good, the experience can be more exciting than watching the game on television or live at the ballpark. I decided to attempt to prove this to the most skeptical anti-sport fan around.

She comes from a family of White Sox fans, so I thought I would hook her more easily with that game. After all, the Sox are a better team. They're in first place, and the city is catching White Sox fever. Right? Wrong. Not this groggy little filly. John Rooney and Ed Farmer are a good team on WMAQ. They are efficient, polished broadcasters. Unfortunately, they don't really inspire the same kind of excitement as their television counterparts. In fact, after about two innings we suddenly had two groggy campers. I switched it over to WGN.

It was the third inning. Thom Brennaman and Ron Santo admittedly had a better game to work with, but instantly that excitement I was looking for was in the air.

Brennaman is one of Chicago's most underrated broadcasters. He's young, but he is also a first rate baseball announcer. He has a natural delivery, a self assured confident air about him, and most importantly, an engaging personality. His barbs at Santo come frequently, but they are done without the slightest trace of animosity. It sounds like two good friends just chatting about the ballgame, complete with just the right mixture of unabashed rooting and playful sarcasm.

The age difference doesn't seem to matter. Brennaman was still more worried about getting his box of 64 Crayola Crayons when Santo covered the hot corner for the Cubs in the 60's and early 70s. Still, he directs the flow of the broadcast. At the age of 29, he handles the pressures of the big time with ease and grace.

I found myself wishing he wasn't about to switch over to TV, but I knew it was time for the man that is now the Cubs/WGN franchise; Harry Caray. He works the middle innings on the radio. It has become fashionable to bash Harry over the last few seasons. I admit that I laugh at his mispronunciations and occasional gaffes.

I don't know why, but this season I also appreciate Harry more than I have for years. It seems he has regained his edge; his ire turns on the Cubs more easily, his cackle at his own expense is infectious, and his love of the simple things connects with the fan in all of us.

The Cubs hit a long ball. "It might be", his voice raised to meet the excitement of the game. "It could be", the cheer of the crowd reverberated. "It is!" And it was like I was there. Only better. The imagination paints a much more vivid picture than reality.

I lifted my frosty cold one to toast the man when he said "There's nothing like fun at the old ballpark."

I turned to my wife to clink cans with her. Surely Harry must have turned her around. Finally, after all these years I had created the perfect scenario for her to appreciate what I have loved since childhood. She had a big smile on her face. Her imagination was painting a Rembrandt.

Unfortunately, she was fast asleep.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

The Bald Minute: Bald Love

In her book “On Death & Dying,” Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified the five stages of grieving; Denial & Isolation, Anger & Rage, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. The bald or balding man goes through the same stages while grieving for his hair loss, but no-one recognizes or acknowledges that pain. Until now.

In our upcoming book, “The Bald Handbook,” co-author Dave Stern (bald) and I (bald spot) leave no bald stone unturned as we look at each stage closely to help the balding male cope with his painful reality. Until the book comes out, this blog will present nuggets and pearls of wisdom from the book in short weekly segments, we call…”The Bald Minute.” (This feature is available for radio syndication…click on the e-mail link to inquire).

"Bald Love"
By Rick Kaempfer & Dave Stern

R: Hi and welcome to another installment of the Bald Minute. Today's Bald Minute subject?

D: Bald Love.

R: Dave, let me share a letter from a female fan. She writes, "I read somewhere that bald men have higher testostorone counts. I always tell men that are losing hair that they shouldn't feel bad--they're manlier."

D: Amen, sister. Have you ever noticed how many beautiful woman end up with bald guys? Testosterone is not the only reason.

R: It's true. Beautiful women do have pretty impressive olfactory glands. They can smell testosterone, but they can also smell something else Stage 5 bald men have an abundance of...

D: Money.

R: And why is that, Dave?

D: When a bald man reaches Stage 5 Acceptance, he no longer spends money on the following items:
• Shampoo
• Gel
• Mousse
• Rogaine
• Propecia
• Hair restoration specialists
• Baseball hats
• Sombreros
• Derbies
• Fedoras
• Foam-cheese heads
• Emu Oil
• Wigs
• Hair-weaves
• Combs
• Brushes

R: That adds up over time, giving the Stage 5 bald man more spending money than other men.

D: And the Stage 5 bald man also becomes more successful at work, because he no longer spends his work day doing the following:
• shopping for hats
• trying on hats
• washing and maintaining hats
• reading hat catalogues
• ordering hats from catalogues
• writing angry letters to makers of sham bald products
• writing letters to attorneys of sham bald products
• testifying at Grand Jury hearings against sham bald products
• explaining to the cops why you punched your bald-joke-loving brother-in-law
• stalking and taunting Benecio Del Toro
• hunting animals for their hair

R: That's quite an attractive male cocktail you're describing there; virile and rich.

D: But you'll never know that, bald brothers, until you reach Stage 5. Give up the combover, and start working through the stages of grieving for your loss. Testosterone can only take you so far.

R: For more information about bald acceptance...

D: Including our plan for taking over the world...

R: Look for our upcoming book, "The Bald Handbook." Reporting for the Bald Minute, I'm Rick Kaempfer

D: And I'm Dave Stern.


Big week for Balds in the News

*Canadian Hockey Goaltender Jose Theodore tested positive this week for Propecia, which the Olympic committee says is often used as a "masking" agent. Theodore has been taking Propecia for eight years, despite having a full head of hair.

How many of our bald brothers ran out to the store and bought Propecia after hearing he has a full head of hair? Guys, this isn't a story because the Propecia gave him a full head of hair. It's a story because he had a full head of hair and he shouldn't be taking Propecia.

*In last week's Bald Minute we talked about "Isolation." No matter how many times we point out to balding men that there is no place to hide in the world, some balding man still thinks he can do it. The latest example--Explorer Steve Fossett. After getting in a balloon and flying around the world (those things have to come down sometime, Steve-o), you would think that Steve would have learned he couldn't get away. Last week he tried to stay in an ultra-light airplane forever. It didn't work out, either.

Steve...we implore you. Give it up. There is nowhere to hide. Acceptance is the only way.

Even when working through your stage 2 rage, bald on bald attacks are never okay. Target fullheads or you're wasting valuable bald rage.


When we say "target fullheads" Mr. Vice President, we don't mean it literally. Next time, try a verbal attack. Yes, I know it's annoying the man still has a full head of hair at 78 years of age, but there are more subtle ways to address that.


What do these two Vice Presidents (Aaron Burr and Dick Cheney) have in common? Hmmm. Let's see. Is there a physical similarity? Hmmm. Do they have similar hobbies? Well, yes on both counts. But they are also both members of the Stage 2 (Bald Anger & Rage) Hall of Fame. Cheney gets his award for shooting a guy this week, but to be fair, he was already under consideration for his love of torture. Burr not only shot a guy (Alexander Hamilton), he was accused of treason for attempting to invade Mexico so that he could then invade America and name himself President. Cheney's good, but he's not that good. Yet.

If you missed any previous Bald Minutes, click here:

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Suburban Man: Valentine's Day

By Rick Kaempfer

I’ve been told that everybody in America knows the ground rules of Valentine’s Day. Even though it’s supposedly a holiday for lovers, the responsibility for a gift is strictly a one-way proposition. The man is expected to get the woman a gift, and the woman is expected to receive that gift.

I never bought that concept and I thought my wife didn't either. She and I agreed not to get each other anything for Valentine's Day shortly after we were married, and I fully intended on keeping my end of the bargain. Inevitably, however, a well-intentioned high maintenance woman in my office (it wasn't always the same woman, but it was always the same message), would convince me I was a moron for not getting a gift.

A typical exchange would go something like this:

"What did you get your wife for Valentine's Day?"

“She said she didn’t want a gift,” I would say.

“Trust me,” High Maintenance Woman would reply, “She's only saying that because she doesn’t want to sound greedy.”


“Listen to me,” she would say, “If you don’t bring home a Valentine’s gift, you’re a dead man.”

Even though I was pretty sure I understood my wife better than High Maintenance Woman did, I started doubting myself. After all, I’m just a man. I can’t be expected to understand something as complex as a woman—-even the woman with whom I’ve chosen to spend the rest of my life. Who understands a woman better than another woman? She might be right.

Inevitably I would stop at the store and pick something up for my wife, and every year when I handed her the gift she was mad at me.

“I thought we agreed not to buy each other anything?” she would say.

“Did you really mean that?” I would ask.

“Of course I did. I said it, didn't I?”

I felt like such a fool. Why didn’t I trust my instincts? The next day when I told High-Maintenance Woman about my wife’s reaction, she explained that my wife was obligated to be mad at me to save face.

“That makes no sense,” I would say.

“Did she give you the traditional gift?” High Maintenance Woman asked coyly.

“She didn't get me anything."

"Not even the (wink) traditional gift?"

"There’s a traditional gift for a man?” I asked.

She winked again.

Oooooh. I get it. I’m slow, but I’m not that slow.

“Those are the ground rules?” I asked.

High Maintenance Woman nodded. “Everybody knows that.”

I never told my wife about these conversations, because I never knew what to believe. On the surface my wife is such a sensible and practical woman. It’s one of the main reasons I married her. I didn't want to believe that she had been living by these imaginary rules for all these years without telling me.

What if she is really a totally different person beneath the surface, waiting ten or fifteen years to show me her real self? What if she has just been pretending to communicate with me by using the traditional method (words) while actually integrating a devious subtext? My whole world could be built on a series of false assumptions.

That's the sort of thing I didn't want to know. Ignorance is bliss.

On the other hand, this is the year I'll find out if it's true or not. Now I’m the one at home, taking care of the kids, cooking the dinner, and (sort of) cleaning the house. If High Maintenance Woman was right (and my wife would know if she was or not), then I’m the one that should get the gift this year.

I already did my part. Yesterday I made a big point of reminding my wife not to get me anything. We’ll see if she brings me something or not.

If she does, I’m willing to give her the traditional gift in return.

Although, I’m still not 100% sure I know what that is.

This is the funniest Valentine's Day card I could find. Think she'll like it?

If you missed any previous episodes of "Suburban Man", click here:

Monday, February 13, 2006

This week on Rick's Blog 2-13/2-19

This week on Rick's Blog

Monday, February 13--Jokes for a Monday Morning. This week's theme: Love and Valentine's Day.

Tuesday, February 14--Suburban Man exposes the unwritten Valentine's Day agreement between men and women.

Wednesday, February 15--The Bald Minute: "Bald Love". Why do bald guys end up with such beautiful women? The answer might surprise you.

Thursday, February 16--From the Archives: "Hats off to Harry". Milo Hamilton's new book rips Harry Caray. I met Harry many times over the years. Do I agree or disagree with Milo's assessment?

Friday, February 17--This Week, News & Views

Saturday, February 18--Guest Blogger: Stand Up Comedian Dobie Maxwell. Dobie gives us his take on President's Day.

Sunday, February 19--GET HEALTHY MAGAZINE ARTICLE--"Men who Pamper Themselves". The latest issue of "Get Healthy Magazine" comes out this week, and one of the articles is a Rick Kaempfer contribution. It's about men who pamper themselves (and yes--I did have to do research on the subject.)

Jokes for a Monday Morning

This week we're featuring jokes about love and Valentine's Day. Thanks to "C", "S" and "T" for sending these in.

1. Have You Ever Been Unfaithful ?

An old couple was sitting around one evening. The man says to his wife, Sarah: "Now that we are about to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary, tell me, have you ever been unfaithful to me?"

She hesitated a while and said, "Yes, 3 times."

"How did it happen?" he asked, a little stunned by her answer.

"Well, do you remember right after we were married and we were broke and the bank was going to foreclose on our little house? That was the first time."

He remembered. "Yes, that was really a terrible time," he said with a sigh.

"Remember when I went to see the banker and the next day they extended our loan?"

"It's hard to believe," the old man said, "but I guess it really was for us and I can forgive you. And the second time?"

"Do you remember," she said, "years later when you almost died from the heart problem because we couldn't afford the operation?


"Well, do you remember that right after I went to see the doctor he did your operation at no cost?"

"Yes," he said. He was shocked but it was understandable considering the circumstances. "I understand you did it because of your love for me and I forgive you. And how about the third time?

She said, "Do you remember when you ran for president of the PTA and needed 63 more votes?"

2. Inheritance

When Dan found out he was going to inherit a fortune when his sickly father died, he decided he needed a woman to enjoy it with. So one evening he went to a singles bar where he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her natural beauty took his breath away.

"I may look like just an ordinary man," he said as he walked up to her "but in just a week or two, my father will die, and I'll inherit 20 million dollars."

Impressed, the woman went home with him that evening and, three days later, she became....his stepmother.

Women are so much smarter than men. When will they ever learn?

3. Be My Valentine

A guy walks into a post office one day to see a middle-aged, balding man standing at the counter methodically placing "Love" stamps on bright pink envelopes with hearts all over them. He then takes out a perfume bottle and starts spraying scent all over them.

His curiosity getting the better of him, he goes up to the balding man and asks him what he is doing. The man says, "I'm sending out 1,000 Valentine cards signed, 'Guess who?'"

"But why?" asks the man.

"I'm a divorce lawyer," the man replies.

A date is a job interview that lasts all night. The only difference between a date and a job interview is that there are not many job interviews where there's a chance you'll end up naked at the end of it.
---Jerry Seinfeld

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Happy Birthday Abe

On this day in 1974, eleven year old David Stern (still sporting a full head of hair) walked onto the campus of Northeastern University. His poem about Abraham Lincoln was chosen as one of the top ten Lincoln poems at Hayt Elementary School in Chicago. The top ten poems were taped for broadcast by WBEZ radio. Little Davey got to ride in his first cab that day. Little Davey was on the radio for the first time that day. Little Davey's sixth grade teacher, Mrs. Reese, bought him lunch. And little David Stern paid tribute to the greatest President this country has ever known with a full, firm voice. His poem, by the way, was the only one of the ten that used the word "bald". It would haunt him the rest of his life.
(See "The Bald Handbook)

And now, here it is, an award winning birthday tribute to the 16th President of the United States. Happy Birthday, Abe.

Honest Abe he was called
and we are sure he was not bald
when he was young he read and read
even when he was in bed
but until the day he died
he had still never lied

He was one of our leaders and a good one at that
who always wore a very high hat
and justice he wanted and justice he got
except for a man with a dangerous plot

John Wilkes Booth was a very bad man
and surely not a Lincoln fan
He put agreat leader into his grave
who wanted so much to save every slave

Rick's notes: All of Dave's friends can recite this poem from memory. Let's just say, that he likes to say it. In fact, we have a recording of the grown up Dave reciting the poem to appropriate music.

Click on this link, and you can hear it too...