Saturday, January 07, 2006

Guest Blogger: Dave Stern

Guest Columnist: Dave Stern*

A few weeks ago, Dave and his wife Michelle welcomed the arrival of twin girls; Julia and Ehren. Mother and daughters are healthy. Dave, on the other hand, is asking that any attorneys out there help him draw up the divorce papers for when his wife reads this heartwarming column…

What About Us

Have you ever had a situation where you knew you were going to be misunderstood even before you uttered a single word? Even though there was no doubt in your mind that you would spend the rest of the evening, week or even your life trying to explain what you had really meant to the offended parties yet you foolishly continued? Where there was the overwhelming possibility that you would be labeled “petty” and “small” but that didn’t stop you from speaking your mind? Well there is no need for me to be put in that awkward position so if you’re a woman please stop reading and go watch Oprah or something.

Wow, even I didn’t see that one coming.

So here it goes. Let’s start by saying that the birth of my children has been the greatest experience of my life. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without the joy of fatherhood. I won’t bore you with the typical weepy Alan Alda esque stuff but you get the picture.

Yet it can be very hard and grueling. Any father knows that it can be the most tiring and exhaustive endeavor one can undertake. Walking around in a sleep-deprived haze is the M.O. of today’s father. Yet selflessly we continue on and do the best we can. The rewards almost always outweigh the pain and we carry on. And that’s just during labor.

First off, it often starts in the middle of the night. Even though most men are already pretty tired by the end of the pregnancy (since their wives have been keeping them up with their incessant restlessness for the last 4 weeks or so) it still would be nice if started at a decent hour.

Second, most hospitals have lousy (and expensive) parking. Why do all the doctors get the good spaces? Mark our words you’ll park in section ZZ, which incidentally is a cruel reminder of what you wish you were doing. The hike from the car wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to bring the not yet born child’s wardrobe for the next 4 years.

Thirdly, it’s really bright in those delivery rooms. Quite frankly it made both of us nauseous. Maybe there wouldn’t be such a health care crisis if hospitals were a little more frugal when it comes to electricity. The high-pitched hum form those fluorescent lights ain’t no picnic either.

Fourthly, you are constantly tempted to turn on the delivery room television yet you know you can’t. It’s widely accepted that the onset of labor is related to the phases of the moon, but I think it’s related to really really important sporting events. In fact, one of my friends had a delivery room with TIVO. Now that’s friggin cruel.

Fifthly, especially if it’s your first, it can take an unbelievably long time. And get this - you’re standing for much of it. Thankfully you get a break every five hours so you can go to the vending machine and enjoy a couple of packs of those peanut butter crackers.

And finally, when you call your family and friends after the labor they always ask, “How’s momma and baby doing”. Would it kill them to ask how Dad is doing? Something like, “Gosh 23 hours, you must be really tired” sure would go a long way. A late arriving sports score wouldn’t be unappreciated either.

So send the emails, leave the voicemails and mail the letters. I’m ready for the criticism that will undoubtedly blitzkrieg my way. (Although remember, this is Rick’s blog, not mine). I’ll just utter those four wonderful words that absolves us poor shlubs from all wrong doing.

“I was just kidding.”

Seriously I was joking.

No really, I was just having some fun..

Umm……I’m really really sorry.

*Dave is the co-author of the upcoming book “The Bald Handbook,” and is also one of the co-owners of A.M.I.S.H Chicago Advertising . Here is a more complete bio…scroll down the page after you hit this link. A.M.I.S.H staff bios

Friday, January 06, 2006

This Week: News & Views

This Week
By Rick Kaempfer

News and Views

*The Alito Hearings
WASHINGTON—Senate Hearings on Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito begin next week and both sides are revving up for a nasty battle.
=That’s nice, but what I really want to know is this: Has Jay Leno introduced the Dancing Alito’s yet? If he hasn't, somebody let him know. He can send me a check later.

*Jack Abramoff, part one
WASHINGTON--Congressional lobbyist Jack Abramoff pleaded guilty on Tuesday to corruption, fraud, conspiracy, and tax evasion. One of the charges claims that he created phony charities to launder contributions to members of Congress. Congressmen who have been given money by Abramoff (there are 60!) are falling over themselves to give the money to charity; including Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, who received $100,000.
=This is my favorite part of the story. All of these politicians who got money from phony charities are making restitutions the money to charity. Sometimes jokes write themselves.
=This scandal is so perfect that even the names of the implicated Congressmen (Delay & Doolittle) describe Congress perfectly.

*Jack Abramoff, part two
WASHINGTON--Disgraced Lobbyist Jack Abramoff arrived at court on Tuesday wearing a fedora and trenchcoat. His friends confide that he is a fan of the movie "The Godfather" and "constantly quoted lines from it."
=Of course, part of his plea agreement says that he will be testifying against half of Washington. "It was an offer he couldn't refuse."

=When he was arrested, the FBI agent whispered "I know it was you, Fredo."

*Jack Abramoff, part three
FLORIDA--When he arrived in Florida to plead guilty to further fraud charges on Wednesday, the fedora was gone, only to be replaced by a beige baseball cap.

=I wore that exact same cap and suit combo last time I went to the monster truck show in Beverly Hills.

*New Rings Found Around Uranus
LOS ANGELES (AP)--Astronomers aided by the Hubble Space Telescope have spied two more rings encircling Uranus, the first additions to the planet’s ring system in nearly two decades.
=Look up in the sky and say this to anyone standing near you…”Is that a ring around Uranus?”

=This is a picture of how my boys react every time I tell them that joke.

*Naked in a freezing lake for good health
BERLIN (Reuters) - Saying ice cold water is good for their health, a group of about 30 naked Germans jumped together into a Berlin lake for their annual swim Sunday.
=Ice cold Germans? This explains so much.
=P.S--I’m German. I’m allowed to say that.

*Free Booze helps homeless drunks
TORONTO (Reuters) - Giving homeless alcoholics a regular supply of booze may improve their health and their behaviour, the Canadian Medical Association Journal said in a study published on Tuesday.
=The same is true of suburban Dads. Let's do a study.

*Lynn Swann running for Pennsylvania Governor
PITTSBURGH (AP)--Throwing his symbolic "Hall of Fame" hat into the ring, former Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Lynn Swann announced this week that he is running for Governor of Pennsylvania.
=Hmmm. His credentials do sound a little familiar. Attended USC. College & Pro Football Hall of Fame. NFL and College Football Broadcaster. Bit parts in a handful of movies. I can't place it...

=Oh yeah.

*Cost of stamps rise
WASHINGTON--Starting next week the cost of sending a letter will go from 37 cents to 39 cents.
=Start working on your "39" multiplication tables. Let's see, 39, 78, uh...where's the calculator?
=Why do I think the next time they raise it, they'll raise it to 41 or 43 instead of a nice even number? This is a math-teacher plot. How many times do I have to apologize for that D I got in Trig?

*Feds Trying New Weapon in War on Terror: Smalltalk
(Gannett News Service) The Transportation Security Administration plans to train screeners at 40 major airports next year to pick out possible terrorists by engaging travelers in casual conversation to detect whether a person appears nervous or evasive and needs extra scrutiny. This new technique is already in use in Chicago, New York and Washington.
=I've gotten my hands on the small-talk manuals for each city.
=Chicago: "Man, can you believe this weather?"
=New York: "What are you looking at?"
=Washington: "Hey there home phone number 555-2276, I totally agree with what you were saying to home phone number 555-7256 at 12:38 p.m. the other day."
(Note to Feds: That was just a joke. Please don't start monitoring my calls.)

*Schools Get PG Version of Clinton
WASHINGTON (AP) Seven years after he was impeached in a scandal of sex, perjury, and bitter politics, President Clinton has beome a fixture in major high school texts. In McDougal Littel's "The Americans," a high school text, the topic merits two paragraphs but doesn't get into any of the saucier details because it's not appropriate for children.
=C'mon, this isn't so hard. I can sum it up in one PG sentence: "He saw London, he saw France, he saw too many underpants."
=I know, I know, that's two potty jokes in one column. Give me a break. My audience for the last year has been 10, 7 and 3. I need to warm up a little.

*Letterman & Bill O'Reilly spar
(NEW YORK)--Bill O'Reilly was a guest on David Letterman's show this week and the two men verbally sparred. Among the comments from Letterman; "I may not be smart enough to debate you point by point, but I'm guessing about 60% of what you say is crap."
=But to be fair, that also means 40% is not crap. By TV standards, that's pretty respectable.

*Jeff Reardon robs jewelry store
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) - Jeff Reardon, one of the top relief pitchers in history, blamed medication for depression after his arrest for a jewelry store robbery.Police said last week that the 50-year-old Reardon, retired since 1994 and sixth in career saves, walked into Hamilton Jewelers at the Gardens Mall on Monday and handed an employee a note saying he had a gun and the store was being robbed.
=He always did have a pretty good pick off move.
=The note said “One is for fastball. Two is for slider. Three is for “I’ve got a gun and the store is being robbed.” He shook off the clerk twice before she flashed him a three.
=Uh, Jeff, that’s the wrong kind of diamond.
=His defense was that Rafael Palmeiro lent him his medication for the day, and he had no way of knowing what the syringe contained.

*Sean Lennon's personal ad
(NEW YORK)--John Lennon's son, Sean, announced to the NY Post last week that he is looking for a mate. He has pretty specific requirements, however. His ideal mate "must have an IQ above 130, must be truthful, must have a kind heart, and must be born female."
=I already had the phone in my hand until I read that last requirement. Picky, picky, picky.

*Pete Townshend makes big announcement
LONDON--Pete Townshend of The Who says the band will be touring this year in support of a new album due in June 2006.
=If it were me, I'd name the album..."Who's Left"
=I got a list of the new song titles: "My grandson's Generation", "I can see for feet", "Pine box", "Tommy I can't hear you", and "Who are You? No, I really mean it. Who are you?"
=Mocking aside...Those of you still in the biz remember your good buddy Rick when the free tickets arrive.

*Sir Tom Jones
LONDON (AP)-- Tom Jones, the big voiced singer from Wales, was among the new knights of the realm in the New Year's list of honors. Jones, 65, joins a group of previous pop-rock knights including Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Elton John, Sir George Martin (the Beatles producer), and Sir Cliff Richard.
=Cliff Richard? What about Keith Richards? That's a ceremony I wouldn't miss.
=For the Tom Jones ceremony, the Queen will forgo the usual tapping of the shoulders with her royal sword and will instead toss her royal undergarmets at Jones. (For those of you who don't know...that's what his fans do at his concerts).
=OK, that's three juvenile jokes. No underpants next week--I promise.

Reader Response

The Good:
"It helps me pass the time at the office. I'll pass it along to my brother who shares a sick/twisted/sarcastic/enlightened sense of humor."
“Great stuff. If you haven’t bookmarked this site yet, do so.”
"Look forward to being part of your wackadoo mafia."
“Enjoyed your articles, especially one on big toys. Nicely done.”
"Now we'll never get anything done at work."
"Looking forward to stealing your stuff."
"The 'Trying to Be Best Dad' article is wonderful."

The Bad:
"You self-promoting SOB."
"Goofy Picture."
"Do you have a chatroom for men who enjoy leather?"

(Rick replies: Guilty, guilty, not yet.)

This week in “Severance”

*I’m working with my editor on editing my novel about media consolidation, bias, and politics. The novel is called “Severance.” Although any similarity to real people and events are completely coincidental, other people who have read these specific chapters I'm working on right now have mentioned that Sumner Redstone, Mary Matalin, and Celine Dion won’t like them. I’m not sure why.

*Whenever I find articles that have information about the current state of the media business (which is, after all, the inspiration for my novel), I will provide links for them here.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

From the Archives

The following AP report announced that I won a national writing contest…


ATLANTA, May 17, 1999 /AP / -- Who says you cant’ break into the publishing world on your first try? Diet Coke is making it possible for one talented writer to do just that. Rick Kaempfer of Mt. Prospect, Illinois has been named the grand prize winner of the “diet Coke Living Life to It’s Fullest” writing contest.

Rick’s story was chosen from more than 400 entries. The selection was made based on the judging of seven best-selling authors including Elmore Leonard, Nora Roberts, Lisa Scottoline, Maeve Binchy, Mark Victor Hansen, Barbara Taylor Bradford, and Mark & Chrissy Donnelly. The entries were judged on originality, creativity, appropriateness to theme, and clarity. Twenty three finalists were also announced today.

Kaempfer, who lives in Mt. Prospect, a suburb of Chicago, with his wife and two young sons, read about the contest in his local newspaper (The Daily Herald) and, despite having never entered a contest before, was inspired to enter because of the title. “When I read about the ‘Living Life to the Fullest’ contest it reminded me of my grandfather,” says Rick. His is a whimsical tale about a man who adds the name of everyone who inspires him throughout his life to his own name.

As the grand prize winner, Rick and his wife will be flown to New York City on May 14th to live the life of a best-selling author during an all-expenses-paid, three-day, two-night trip. Highlights include a VIP tour of prestigious publishing houses HarperCollins Publishers and Penguin Putnam, Inc., as well as meetings with publishing executives to discuss his writing. Rick will also enjoy dining in the company of best-selling authors Mark & Chrissy Donnelly, Mark Victor Hansen, Nora Roberts, Lisa Scottoline and Elmore Leonard. His story will be published as an e-book that will appear on the diet Coke website through the end of this year.

Rick’s Notes:
The e-book has vanished into the nether world since the end of 1999, but the original children’s poem that my essay was based upon still remains. I wrote the following story in 1992 the day I learned my grandfather’s cancer had returned. This story isn’t really about him, although he did like to take me to the park when I was a boy. It’s more about the spirit of him…the way my mind saw him as a child. This is the only children’s story I’ve ever written. My grandfather, Engelbert Ruscheinski, died in 1993. I never showed him this story.

I know it’s corny, but it’s a children’s story, and it did make me feel a lot better at the time. I hope you read this in that spirit.


Rudy liked to play in the park, there were so many things to do,
He could slide down the slide, or play in the sand, or he could swing on a swing or two,
Every day he went to the park, as soon as he finished school,
And he would wait for his mom to pick him up, that was his #1 rule.

One day the sun was shining bright, and he had little time left to play,
He couldn’t stop watching the man on the bench, who came to the park every day,
There was something about that old man there, and Rudy couldn’t help stare,
Birds were flocking and landing on him, and they came from everywhere,

He held a big bag, and fed all the birds, and soon the food was no more,
But they stayed to listen to the old man talk, and Rudy wondered, "What for?"
So he dropped the sand he was playing with, and he walked to the end of the park.
What was the old man saying to them—what were those soothing remarks?

But as he approached, the birds flew away, leaving Rudy alone with the man.
The man looked at Rudy, and Rudy looked back, and he almost turned and ran.
"What is your name?" came a gentle call, and he added, "You look like a Mike."
Rudy shook his head, and the man guessed on, "Are you Charlie, or Kenneth, or Ike?"

"Rudy's my name," he heard himself say, and he wondered about the man's name.
He wondered if he was supposed to guess back, were they playing some sort of game?
"What is your name?" Rudy asked the old man, then guessed "Are you a Joe?"
"Yes, I am," the old man replied, "and a Tom, and a Sean, and a Moe!"

"I'm also a Vince, a Benny, a Pete, a Billy, a Jim, and a Barry,
I'm a Chuck, and a Steve, a John, and a Beav, an Alex, a Mark and a Gary.
All of these names are part of me now, I’m the man with the world’s longest name,"
And he told little Rudy the story about, how he achieved this acclaim,

"I once had three names," the old man said," A first, a middle and last.
But that was many years ago, before my loved ones passed,
When I was a boy, my granddad died; I mourned him and I cried,
My mother tried to comfort me, but I wanted to know why he died."

"God called for him," she said to me, "He also loves your granddad.
And he touched our lives, like no one else; be thankful for the years that we had.
What one thing will you miss the most, what made you love him so much?"
I said, “I loved the way he made me laugh, with a face, or a smile, or a touch."

"Do you think that you could do that, son, to people that you meet?"
I just nodded and looked at her, and I slowly got up to my feet.
"That way he still lives with us," I said, as the idea came.
"And since he is now part of me, I shall add his name to my name."

"I added his name to my other three, to make the total four.
And many years have passed since then, and I've added many more.
My father was great, and he loved to sing, and though he’ll never have fame,
When he died, I learned his songs, and I added his name to my name."

"My mother was kind and loved animals, she soothed them with her sweet words.
And when she died, I added her name, and I came to talk to her birds."
Rudy was quiet, but then he asked, "Have all of those people died?"
"Oh, no!" said the man, and he smiled at Rudy. "Inside me they're quite alive!"

"If you wanted to add my name," Rudy asked, "would you put it right after Mark?"
"If I added your name, I'd put it first, and I'd love to play in the park."
Rudy smiled and said “My mom’s coming soon, I better get back to the sand,”
And though he never saw him again, Rudy never forgot that old man.

Rick’s Notes:
My sister-in-law Kelly drew some beautiful pictures to accompany this story back in 1992, and I did try to sell it to a few publishers, but I didn't really know what I was doing in those days. In 1999 I was reading the Daily Herald, and saw the article about this contest. Something about that title "Living Life to It's Fullest" made me think of my grandfather, which made me think of this story. I dug it out of the closet, converted it to an essay, and sent it in. When they called a few months later to tell me I had won, I was taking a nap. Bridget didn't wake me up--she took a message. I always thought that was funny.

The pictures below were taken in late May 1999, when we arrived in New York to accept the prize.

The top photo shows the television cameras that followed us around (my wife Bridget accompanied me). Stories about this contest, and my winning the grand prize, appeared on dozens of television stations in the country, including WLS-TV (Channel 7) here in Chicago. (In later editions of “From the Archives” I’ll be showcasing some of the press stories/interviews that came out after I won the prize.)

The bottom photo was taken at lunch at the famous round table in the Oak Room of the Algonquin Hotel where Dorothy Parker and her vicious circle used to dine every day in the 1920s. Chicken Soup for the Soul author Mark Victor Hansen and romance novelist Nora Roberts are having lunch with Bridget and me.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Bald Q & A

I've gotten a few good questions about today's post, so I'll answer them here for all to see.

Q: Why in the world do balding guys even try to do combovers?

Actually this is something Dave has done quite a bit of research on, so I asked him to provide an answer. This is what he said.

"Without getting too technical, there are basically three or four scientific theories to explain this. The most widely accepted is Phantom Hair Syndrome. Similar to amputees who still feel like they have all of their limbs, balding men continue to "comb over" their hair even after they no longer have it. Baldologists call this theory: PHS. The three other theories are NHF, NWA, and NMH."

I had to write him back to find out what those were.

"NHF--No Honest Friends. NWA--No Women Around. NMH--No Mirrors in House."

Q: Is Rick really bald enough to co-write this book?

My answer to that is, my promo picture for the book jacket will be taken from behind to prove my credentials. Dave's answer was the following...

"No. Sometimes you have to make a pact with Satan to get a book deal."

Blog Programming notes:

--A few of you have asked if I ever write things for my kids, and while the answer to that is no, I did once write a children's poem/story before I had kids. I submitted it to a national contest, and somehow won the Grand Prize. I'll post that for you in tomorrow's blog.

--Also, for those of you who don't like the family stuff or the bald stuff, Friday's blog will be for you. Every Friday I'm doing a full recap of the week in news, complete with one-liners and punch lines. It will be posted early enough to use on morning radio (you know who you are--it's OK--it's free) Friday.

--And for those of you who don't think I'm mean enough, Mr. Mean (Dave Stern) gets his chance to guest blog on Saturday. Guest Bloggers coming up in the next few weeks; Radio sportscaster, bon-vivant, and award winning playwright Spike Manton, Rock and Roll Hall-of-Famer John Records Landecker, United Airlines pilot and novelist Kim Sargent, Former WCFL radio host Bob Dearborn, and stand up comedian Dobie Maxwell.

--Sunday I'll post my latest Shore Magazine piece "The Santa Threat", and Suburban Man returns next Tuesday with a brand new column.

Keep those comments and questions coming. They are greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Suburban Man Reaction

Thanks for all of your comments and observations. Some were so good, I just had to share. I use only a first initial to preserve your identities and encourage further comments in the future.

"That is too funny, the only thing that might have saved you at that moment would be to grab your chest and fake a heart attack. At our age, it's easier for teens to believe that then actually think they see us rocking out to an old classic."

"Avid car radio backup singing is an art, even when you don't do it well. I admit that I don't. I swear that I caused the small crack in my windshield from belting out something fairly dissonant, but that's just the price you pay for enjoying the moment. C'est la vie. Keep rockin', bloggin' and livin' life to its fullest, Rick!"

"I have the perfect solution to your what I did to our 4runner that serves as our kiddie transport (I am home with the kids and have been for over 6 about stereotypes..). Spend about 2-3k on a stereo so not only the musical stylings of Spongebob and the Cookie Monster can be anjoyed at high db but also Led Zep and Iggy Pop. The teenagers may not like the music but they will appecriate the volume. Plus, the car will be the most popular mini van with those that do have musical taste."

"Very funny stuff! A few more examples of "you know you're Suburban Man when"
**You're enjoying that new song on the radio only to hear the announcer thanking you for listening to Saturday morning flashback
**You've only heard about half of the artists that received this years MTV music awards and don't know a single song mentioned
**The clothes at Sears don't really look that bad
**There's a problem with mowing the lawn at 8:00am on Saturday morning?
**New Year's Eve was pretty cool this year because you've never seen Times Square ball drop on high definition TV previously.
(I wish I were making this up)"

"So far, I'm laughing out loud. Didn't realize you were a stay at home dad. Love it!! You're brave."

Rick's Reply: Actually "brave" isn't the way I would describe it. More like "completely unqualified." As you'll learn if you check out next week's Suburban Man.

Suburban Man

“The Birth of Suburban Man”
by Rick Kaempfer

I remember the exact moment I came to grips with my title of Suburban Man. It took me nearly ten years of gradual self-awareness to get to that moment, but it is seared in my brain. I was at a red light at the intersection of Rand Road and Elmhurst Road in Mt. Prospect, sitting in the driver’s seat of my minivan, waiting for the longest red light in the Western Hemisphere to turn green. “You Shook Me All Night Long” by AC/DC, a great rock and roll song from my high school years, came on the radio. And I cranked it.

When that pounding bass and powerful guitar filled the van, I realized for the first time what a great stereo the minivan had. This was a rare outing without one of my three boys in the car with me, and I hadn’t properly broken in the stereo since we purchased the minivan two years earlier. I started singing along with the lyrics, screaming them with the same reckless rock and roll abandon of lead singer Brian Johnson. I bobbed my head to the beat. I had almost forgotten the power of rock and roll. Yeah! If I had a lighter in my pocket, I would have lit it and held it in the air. Rock and Roll! I may have been lost for the last ten or fifteen years, but I was back. This was the real me. This song was speaking to me.

“Knocking me out with those American thighs,” I screamed.

That’s when it happened.

In mid head-bob, I suddenly saw something with my peripheral vision. It was the driver of the car in the lane next to me; a 16-18 year old girl driving a Honda Civic. And she was staring at me. “Kimberly” or “Jennifer” told me more with one facial expression than I had ever been told in a decade of suburban life. I’m not normally a lip reader but I read her lips on that Thursday evening as she uttered one simple word to herself while watching me rock out to AC/DC in my minivan.

“Ew,” she said.

It was an out-of-body experience. I was suddenly sixteen years old again, and sitting in the Civic with Kimberly/Jennifer looking at the 40-something year-old man in the minivan. I could see myself behind the steering wheel, and it might as well have been my father driving his 1976 Cutlass Supreme station wagon. Of all the preposterous sights; my 40-something-year-old father was cranking AC/DC. I had the exact same reaction as Kimberly/Jennifer.

“Ew,” I said.

Reality overwhelmed me at that moment and made me look in the mirror for the first time since I moved to the suburbs in 1996. I’m 42. I drive a mini-van. I have three children, all of whom think my name is spelled “Daaaaaaaaaad” because I’m constantly embarrassing them. I haven’t actually been knocked out by American thighs since the Reagan Presidency. I have a 2 ½ car garage because I need room to store my bevy of lawn care implements. I won’t go into the city during the weekend because the traffic is unbearable.

I was painting an unmistakable picture of myself. I had become Suburban Man.

I came to my senses at the Rand/Elmhurst red light that evening. Somebody needed to turn down that infernal racket in the minivan, and quickly, before some Justin/Zachary pulled into the turn lane and saw the same ridiculous sight as Kimberly/Jennifer. I reached over and slowly returned the volume to its rightful level.

And I have never, and will never, crank the stereo in the minivan again.

The next time Kimberly/Jennifer sees me at a red light, she won’t be alarmed by the delusional man behind the wheel. Everything will look as it should. I may be enjoying a Peter, Paul & Mary song on the soft rock station, but the volume will not reflect the power of the lyrical message. Sure, she might see me singing “If I had hammer, I’d hammer in the morning.”

But it will only be because I’m on the way to the hardware store.

And there better be a parking spot close to the door…

Monday, January 02, 2006

Welcome to Rick's Blog

Happy New Year!

2006 marks the official beginning of my blog ( If you are on this e-mail update list, it means I think you’ll appreciate and enjoy at least some of the daily entries on my blog. Every Monday I’ll send out a brief e-mail detailing that week’s upcoming entries. If nothing catches your eye, simply ignore it. If something does catch your eye, I’d recommend bookmarking the site. It will save you the struggle of remembering the spelling of my name.

The blog will have a regular format.

=Every Tuesday I’ll debut a new edition of my humor column about parenting, marriage, approaching middle age, and life in the suburbs. I call it “Suburban Man.”

=Every Wednesday I’ll have another episode of “The Bald Minute.” This short vignette, co-written with my bestest, baldest buddy Dave Stern, will feature bald humor from our upcoming humor book “The Bald Handbook.”

=Every Thursday I’ll dip into my extensive archives to feature humorous highlights from my radio days (producing “The Steve & Garry Show” and “The John Records Landecker Show”) and my earlier free-lance writing material (including essays, columns, articles, songs, interviews, and excerpts from plays, TV scripts, books, and novels).

=Every Friday I’ll do a recap of the week’s news, featuring strange stories you might have missed, my take on some of the big stories, plus your comments, suggestions, and observations (which are strongly encouraged by the way—e-mail me here or click the e-mail link on the blog). I’ll also keep you up to date about my novel “Severance,” which is currently in the hands of my editor.

=On Saturdays I plan on featuring guest-bloggers. It could be anyone from any walk of life—including you. Let me know if you want to contribute. This blog will have a very eclectic and semi-influential audience, so if there’s something you want to get off your chest or there’s something you’ve always wanted to say; here’s your chance.

=On Sundays I’ll be posting my latest published pieces from magazines and/or newspapers.

If this sounds like something you don’t want to be bothered with, let me know, and I’ll take you off the e-mail list. If you know anyone else who would like to be included, please send me their e-mail addresses. If you want to send any posting to someone, simply click on the envelope at the end of that particular posting.

This week on Rick's Blog:

Tuesday , Jan. 3: Suburban Man…The day I realized I had become Suburban Man. It involves a mini-van and a song by AC/DC.

Wednesday, Jan. 4: The Bald Minute…Combovers.

Thursday, Jan. 5: From the Archives…My award winning essay: “Living Life to it’s Fullest”

Friday, Jan. 6: This week (News and Views about Uranus, Cold Germans, Jeff Reardon, The Who, and Bill Clinton among others)

Saturday, Jan 7: Guest Blogger…New papa Dave Stern writes a very politically incorrect essay about the lack of sympathy new fathers receive (compared to overly-pampered new mothers).

Sunday, Jan 8: SHORE MAGAZINE ARTICLE from Winter 2005 issue…”The Santa Threat”

Thanks for checking it out, and I hope I can bring you a laugh or a smile whenever you come back.