Dear Vinny

I know your first name is really Vincent, and most often you go by just Vin. But I hope it’s OK for me to call you Vinny because I’ve known you since I was a little boy. “Vinny” just seems right for those boyhood memories. And what memories they are. It was you who introduced me to Sandy, Don, Ron, Junior, Johnny, Wally, Maury, and the rest of those 25 boys of summer that became my lifelong heroes.

You provided me with my boyhood dreams. I need to tell you… because of you, the game became a passion for me way back when. I guess it is still a passion. Every summer in those boyhood days, I lived for baseball. I played in the sandlots near home and into formalized Little League. Like a lot of boys, I dreamed of someday making the Dodgers and having you call out my name. I was pretty good, but not that good. Just the same, many of the fondest memories of my youth are of those days playing ball. Thank you for giving me that.

Any time I could, I would listen to your broadcasts. I’ll never forget you describing Sandy’s devastating curve ball… or his fastball on the “lower outside corner”. Even though I couldn’t be at the game and little was televised, I could still see Sandy’s pitch in my “mind’s eye”. And for Dodger home runs, I can still hear your voice saying, “It’s a long hit ball… it’s way out there… it’s gone”. Of course, I only remember those calls for Dodger home runs, because I’m still sure the other guys never hit a single home run while you were announcing. And of course no Dodger fan can ever forget when you called the greatest “walk off home run” ever in 1988… when the impossible happened… “Gibby” (Kirk Gibson) hit it over the fence. As the ball cleared the fence you called, “She – is… gone”. Thank you for bringing that to life for me.

I’ve been around the world, lived in many different places but in all of these years since my boyhood I have remained a Dodger fan. No matter what city I lived in, I could never join with the local fans in rooting for anyone else. In more recent years Cable TV, internet radio and the like has enabled me to keep up with “Dem Bums”. (Though I never knew them as the Brooklyn Dodgers, I think I’m still allowed to use that term.) So it is with both sadness and joy for me that you have ended your career as the Dodgers announcer.

I say sadness for obvious reasons… you have been the voice of Dodger Baseball for my entire lifetime. Without your voice it won’t be quite the same.

But I’m also happy to have had you in my ear for all the years… more than anyone could have ever expected. What a career it was… 67 years with the Dodgers. You’ve had so many accolades that all I can add is WOW. I’m happy that you can now enjoy time doing whatever you wish. But mostly I’m happy for you having made Dodger Baseball my pastime. Without you it would have never been the same… I might have even become a Yankee fan. Well… maybe not those Damned Yankees.

Like every Dodger fan out there, I hope you do come back and visit us once in a while… maybe for the first game of the season at “Chavez Ravine” between the Dodgers and those dastardly Giants. Or maybe just for the first game of the season we can just hear you say, “It’s time for Dodger Baseball”.

I wish you all the best and like every Dodger fan… I’m happy to have “known” you.

You’re invited

Dear Friends and Family,

As you know this coming Monday is a very important day to all of us. This time each year we all pay homage to something very special. We thank god for that peculiar, large bluish, spiky broad pointed leaved plant and its magnificent underground heart. It is a time to say thank you to our friends to the south that harvest that underground heart. We rejoice and praise those artisans that use those hearts to produce the nectar we all love and enjoy.

So for Monday, come help me celebrate this most important day. I invite all my friends and family to come to my house for this special day. I have the glasses all lined up for our toasts. I have the frozen concoction maker all warmed up. Let’s celebrate National Margarita Day.

 

Rise and shine campers… it’s Ground-hog-Day.

I know you were probably expecting another post about the “quickie” today, but a far more important event in my life has happened today. Punxsutawney Phil has prognosticated the coming of spring.

groundhog-day-bill-murrayFor most of this long, cold winter, I’ve been hunkered down avoiding the frigid sub-80 temperatures here in the Southwestern Frozen Tundra. Last night it was even below freezing… around 31 degrees. Burrrrrr. Really… it was 31 degrees when I went out this morning and I had to scrape ice off the windshield. Double burrrrrrr!

Just the same, Punxsutawney Phil put a smile on my face this morning. It’s reported that he did not see his shadow and as everyone knows, that means an early spring. It wasn’t only Punxsutawney Phil that made this prediction… similar rodents all over North America have made the same prediction. According to sources, Wiarton Willie (Canada), General Beau Lee (Atlanta), Jimmy the Groundhog (Wisconsin) and Staten Island Chuck (New York) have all made the same prediction.

I hear you… you are scoffing at any predictions groundhogs, woodchucks, and whistlepigs make. But not so fast. According to the Washington Post and wikepedia (my bible), the furry fellows have been quite accurate in their forecasts. One source reports that they have been 75% – 90% accurate. Ok… that source was the Groundhog Day Organizers, but they wouldn’t lie… would they?

If the organizers might seam biased to you, the Washington Post adds that AccuWeather reports the rodents have an 80% accuracy rate. Even though official sources may vary… I’m going with the furry fellows… an early spring YEA!!!!!

 

NEWS FLASH – Al Roker, NBC’s legendary meteorologist (only surpassed by KNBC’s Fritz Coleman), has “called out” Punxsutawney Phil. According to Roker on this morning’s Today Show, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky over Gobblers Knob. An investigation into a rodent conspiracy has begun. Is it possible that woodchucks from all over can be in cahoots together to give us false hope?

Investigators into this are quick to point out that a law suit was brought against Punxsutawney Phil by an Ohio attorney a couple of years ago. The attorney claimed Punxsutawney Phil misrepresented an early spring, and was seeking the death penalty for the rodent. The case was thrown out of court as Ohio has no jurisdiction over Pennsylvania groundhogs. (Source: Washington Post)

Another source reports it was the Groundhog Committee that decided to report an early spring without consulting the intrepid Punxsutawney Phil. Was it a conspiracy… or was it just that the committee in the moments before sunrise was too rushed to check the forecast. Had they already made their decision to deceive the American people… or was it caused by all the commotion and noise of all the hoopla as Punxsutawney Phil emerged.

Or… did they simply misunderstand the utterances of the woodchuck. After all, there was a new woodchuck translator for this year’s festivities. Also, it is reoprted that the translator may have been distracted because he was trying to find out how much wood Punxsutawney Phil had chucked in the past 12 months.

Follow the on-going investigation on your local news channel at 10.

As for me, I’m truly hoping for an early spring. This year my plan is to make my trek to the Northernmost Caribbean (AKA Fort Walton Beach, Fl.) in time for all the Spring Break festivities. Those of you following me for the last few years know that my journey to the Emerald Coast has been later and later in the year. This year I’m trying to return there at the beginning of the rolling Spring Break weeks. I just can’t wait for those luscious white mounds.

Mounds of sand of course… what were you thinking about.

 

Another year here already? – NOT POSSIBLE!

I don’t know about you, but I can’t believe another year is here already. It just isn’t possible. I mean… I only just stopped putting 2014 on my checks. It seems like just a tiny bit ago when I was standing in the middle of Key West’s Duval Street for the New Year’s doo-dah. That year I stood in front of the town’s most famous gay bar watching a drag queen… in a giant ruby red slipper being lowered from the second floor balcony. That was the 2011 to 2012 celebration. My New Year’s eve celebrations ever since have been pale by comparison.

This year I’m making no “New Year’s resolutions.” Instead I’m keeping the one I made standing there in the middle of Duval street in 2011 to 2012. That year I waited till the last minute to figure out what the resolution would be. At first, I thought I would resolve not to procrastinate so much. But I thought better of that and decided I would save that one for another time.

Instead, I resolved to make no more New Year’s resolutions. I’ve done a good job of keeping that one. I’m doing better than 99.9999% of the people in this world. I mean, they make a resolution a little before the “ball drops” at midnight… something like, “I’m gunna quit smoking this year.” As they are downing the new year’s first frozen concoction to help them hang on… just as they finish mumbling the words of “Auld Lang Syne”, they light-up. And so go the resolutions. By noon the next day most resolutions are in the trash can.

If were to make any resolutions… which I’m not… here is what I would do:

First… I would vow to make this blog what I originally intended; a weekly musing about the world in general, stuff about my travels, and in particular… fun in the sun. Since that was my original plan, it’s not a New Year’s resolution… but I’m gunna do it starting now.

I would resolve to not write about political stuff, but for this coming year it would be impossible not to make comments about “The Donald.” So I won’t make that a resolution. (Come on folks… “The Donald” for President… have we lost our minds… is that the best we can do? Give me a break. Imagine him as the Commander in Chief… with the military at his disposal to do what he wants… send all the Japanese in this country to internment camps. And with his finger on the button, I’ll have to move to some place the nuclear fall-out won’t reach.) See… New Year’s day isn’t over so there would have been no point in making the “no politics” resolution.

I will try to take a look at the funny or absurd side of politics. I’ll try to do it without political slant. I’ll just “call out” anyone that deserves it. I thought about running for President myself… you know, doing an Alfred E. Newman type campaign (What, me worry?)… or a Pat Paulson type campaign. (For those that don’t know who these guys are… Google is your friend.) But if I did that… “run for President”… someone would take me seriously and the fun would go out of it. So I’ll be poking a lot of fun without running. Oh… and Donald… Yer fired!

Another resolution might be to consider giving up so many frozen concoctions to help me hang on. But since I’ve developed a taste for Kahlua and Bailey’s Irish Cream, I’ve already having fewer frozen concoctions. In fact, as I write this I’m having a few sips of my new favorite “nectar”.

Since I’ve been accused of being “over-sexed”, I thought I would… Well, that isn’t one either since I gave up most sex in the spring of 2014.

Then there are those resolutions that are to do good for mankind. I applaud those kind of resolutions. Since I’ve already spent a large portion of my life in the service of mankind… you know, keeping the world free from Democracy, I think I already have that square filled. So no resolutions in this area. OK… I donate some time and a bit of cash, but that’s an on-going thing. That said, if you are looking to do something for someone, here’s a simple way to help out someone that isn’t asking for much, but needs the help just the same. For about the price of a frozen concoction to help you hang on… you can help make someone’s New Year a little better. (By the way… this came to me from a reliable source that knows these folks. They are real and this is not a scam.) This brother and sister lost their dad just before Christmas and their mother a little before that. They had to borrow money to pay for their dads cremation. Click HERE for the link to the fund raiser.:

I do not resolve to loose weight (I’m already just right)… or to quit smoking (I already did that)… or to dress better (shorts, t-shirts and flip-flops are just fine for me)… or to get closer to god (I’m going to be there soon enough)… or to make more money. Well, I might have to reconsider that last one. But for now, no self improvement resolutions for me. I already get enough directions and instructions from Bloody Mary to more than take care of this area.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have anything against New Year’s resolutions. If you think about it, these resolutions are about hope. Each New Year brings new hope… hope for a better you… hope for a better life… hope for a better world. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel compelled to have a resolution… I have a good me, a good life and despite what some “down in the mouth talking heads” might say, I live in a pretty good world.

So, there you have it. In keeping with the spirit of the 2011– to – 2012 resolution, no new resolutions for me. No sir-eee. I would have alaready “baled out” by now with some lame excuse any way.

I’ll stop here so I can get this posted while it’s still New Year’s Day. Naw… I’ll post it later. No one I know will have clear enough eyes to read on New Year’s Day anyway.

Oh… stay tuned for next weeks musing. Sign up to receive my posts with your email address in the “Subscribe Here” place in the top right column of this page.

Boat drinks for everyone.

Bleeding Blue

My friends know that when I was growing up if I got a scratch, I bled Dodger Blue. Over the years my blood became normal… well kinda normal. My love of baseball and of the Dodgers faded to almost oblivion. However, in the last few years my blood has taken on a tinge of that blue again.

Now this year ‘Dem Bums” are in the playoffs again. It’s almost a reflex for me to say, “Go Dodgers.” But this year there’s a different “blue” in the mix… the Cubbies.

You see… the Cubbies haven’t won the National League pennant and gone to the World Series in 70 years… they haven’t won the World Series in 107 years. In those 107 years they have lost in the world series 7 times… lost the National League  Championship playoffs three times… and the Division championships three times.

Yesterday, the Cubbies won their wild card playoff game and go to the Division championships again. This time against the St. Louis Cardinals. Don’t you think it’s about time the Cubbie fans… the long suffering Cubbie fans have “their year?”

Well… yes but only sorta. You see… as it stands the Cubbies are not playing the Dodgers. So for now, my Dodger blue blood is also Cubbie blue blood. I really do hope they win… maybe win it all. So for now I can say, “Go Cubbies!”

But… if the Cubbies play the Dodgers for the National League Pennant… I guess my blood is going to curdle.

A Rant

I don’t rant about much. I’m a happy person writing about my adventures and generally lovin life. But this time Carnival Cruise Lines has got me going. So bear with me while I vent a bit.

I hate it when someone insults my intelligence. I hate it even worse when a corporation does it. Are those people sitting in their corporate board rooms so full of themselves and their own arrogance that they think the rest of the world… and their own customers don’t have enough intelligence to see through the crapola they try to pass off. I think they must be… full of it that is.

So you ask, what’s the latest that has got me off into this rant. Why it’s Carnival Cruise Line of course. For years and years they have had the policy that people could bring water and sodas on board their ships. To be specific, bringing bottled water and bottled soda was allowed… and that was in writing.

Now the boardroom has come up with a new idea. Do not allow bottled water or soda to be brought on board. To make up for that they are now selling 12 packs of water for $2.99 if you pre-purchace it before the cruise… $4.99 if you buy it after the cruise begins. These will be 500ml bottles with the Carnival Logo on them.

So you figure it out. Most stores sell 24 packs with prices ranging from $2.50 for the store brands to $5.00 for “designer brands.” I generally pay about $3.50 for a 24 pack.

To “sell” this to their customers, Carnival claims that they are instituting this policy for “safety” reasons. They claim that since some customers smuggle booze on board, it is unsafe because some of those “unmonitored” customers will drink too much. Yeah… that’s the ticket.

If they were really concerned about safety, then they wouldn’t delay a month to institute the policy. And if they were really worried about customers drinking too much, they would limit their alcohol sales much more than they do. There are plenty of drunks on their ships that never smuggle a drop of booze on board.

Now Carnival has taken another step. Booze sales on board ship is a huge business for the cruise lines. Bottles of booze are sold in duty free shops on board, but are held by the cruise lines till the end of the cruise. Also, bottles of booze purchased while ashore in ports of calls must be checked in when re-boarding the ship.  For years it has been Carnival policy to distribute booze purchased on board or while in ports of call on the last night  of the cruise. Sure, folks cracked open their booze and Carnival didn’t get those revenues. Now they are instituting a new policy of requiring their customers to stand in line and pick up their purchased booze the morning they are getting off the ship.

Once again, Carnival is claiming “Safety”. They claim they don’t want unmonitored booze drinking the last night of the cruise. Who do they think they are fooling. Some folks will be getting into a car and driving around 7 AM. Are they going to cut off booze sales early in the evening to prevent someone getting behind the wheel the next day. If it was really a safety issue they would do just that.

If they were only worried about the “bottom line” they would do just what they are doing. They would continue to sell booze at their bars till the wee hours of the morning. They would not allow customers with purchased booze to pick it up till just before they get off the boat. And then they would come up with some BS justification to try to convince their customers the board members just have their customer’s well being and safety in mind.

Well, board members… we’re not that gullible. I understand that you are trying to maximize profit. You see that to be your job. Well, this time you’ve stepped on your dangly-bits. The King wears no clothes… and Pinocchio’s nose grows even longer. Next time just tell the truth.

Leader of the Carnival Board Room.

Leader of the Carnival Board Room.

Day… Last

Bernie Lives

Before I get to rambling on about the last day, there’s a guy that’s been on board that I’ve seen every day of the cruise… Bernie. You know, Bernie… from the classic movie “Week-end at Bernies”. You know… the dead guy that was cursed by a voodoo witch-doctor. Every time Caribbean music starts up, Bernie comes back to life. Chest up, shoulders back, elbows behind him, and he traipses down the beach to the beat of the music.

I hesitated to call this a “classic” because it has to be one of the worst movies ever made. Still, it has gained some cult-like prominence in the realm of raunchy movies. If you haven’t seen the movie… well… then don’t. It’s that bad. Just skip the next couple of paragraphs. That way you won’t hate me for even mentioning it.

Anyway… Bernie lives and is on the Breeze. I saw him the first night at the Ocean Plaza bandstand. The music was playing and Bernie was there by himself dancing. Well… it wasn’t exactly dancing… think Bernie. He had on sorta beach clothes. Except they were Bernie style beach clothes… white linen long pants, a white shirt with forearm length sleeves, some kind of a mesh vest… complete with the small brimmed little hat. There he was… dancin’ kinda like a zombie to the beat of the music. I’m sure Bernie was having a glorious time.

The picture I’m posting of him isn’t very good. That’s by intent. I don’t really want to show who he is. I didn’t want to invade his privacy too much but I think you get the idea. I don’t know if he realizes he resembles Bernie or not… or maybe I’m the only one that sees it. But one thing I think I can tell you for sure… he has been having fun all cruise.

Bernie lives! I found him on the Carnival Breeze.

Bernie lives! I found him on the Carnival Breeze.

By now I’ve lost track of what day it is… I just know it’s the last day. Isn’t that what a cruise is supposed to do?… make you loose track of days and time. It always does for me. By about the third day I rarely know which of the cruise days it is. The only way I sorta know is by where we are. Even then, I usually have lost track of the date or what day of the week it is.

When the last day gets here it is usually a sea day. That’s when folks try and cram in as much as they can. Time as flown by and they can’t believe that the next morning they will be off the ship and back to reality. Most feel like the cruise is over way, way, way too fast. Me too. With one last sea day I can get one more Ferengie burger… one more chocolate melting cake… and a few more frozen concoctions to help me hang on. I can get one more afternoon that I promise myself that I’m going to the gym… and don’t.

The pool today seems even fuller than it has been all cruise long. Not only are there lots of people in the pool, lots of folks are sitting around the edges. Since fall is approaching, this is that one more chance to get a massive sunburn.

I haven’t noticed too many chair hogs around the pool this cruise. It seems that the Hog family has moved up to the Serenity deck. I’m not sure how closely they are enforcing the 40 minute limit on “reserving chairs”. I haven’t spent long periods there so I can’t report back to you with any certainly. But it does seem like there are a lot of towels and flip-flops being sunned on the Serenity deck.

It’s time for me to go do my traditional last day stuff. I always make it a point to do the water slides and the serenity deck hot tub on the last sea day. And there is that matter of a few frozen concoctions to help me hang on.

More later…

Bob

Searching for Kokomo… and a witch-doctor for Bernie.

Go to the beginning of this series, “Live From the Breeze.” 

And now; A Word From our Sponsors…

Oh… wait a minute. I don’t have any sponsors. You don’t see any of those annoying banners here enticing you to click into it to get some unbelievable and unreal promise… you don’t see any adds for electile disjunction… you don’ see any adds for free cruises (cause they’re BS.) And… you don’t see any donate buttons. I want to keep it that way. I want this to be for just tales of great adventures.

But… it does cost to operate this site. And I spend a lot of time to bring you the good, the bad, and the ugly… without having to resort to getting “bribed” to say something that I don’t think is true.

So, what I ask is simple. Across the top of this and all my posts here on KokomoMan.com are links to books I have written. Just click into them and from there clicking on the cover image will take you to Amazon and/or Kindle. Use the “Look Inside” feature on Amazon/Kindle to read the first part of the books. If you like it, buy it… it’s only a few bucks. If you don’t like it, then thanks for looking.

If you don’t have a Kindle, not to worry… there’s a free app for just about everything so that you can read the books on almost anything including whatever you are reading this on. Here’s a link to get the Kindle Reading App.

That’s it… now back to all the fun stuff.

Ann-Margaret and me.

As I was waking up this morning, I was having a dream. It was a dream about a time and a place that really wasn’t very nice. A place I left long ago, but somehow don’t seem to be able to completely forget. Usually when I dream of that place, I would rather not remember the dream… just let it go. But this time was different. It was of something I liked… of something that would put a smile on my face… of something that I like to remember.

As I laid there in that “never-never land” between sleep and awake I squeezed my eyes back shut. It was Dec ’68 again and I didn’t want the dream to end…

I was in a far off land at a little “garden spot” we called, “Naked Fanny”. We were all there doing our best to stop Uncle Ho from moving war supplies to the Cong in South Vietnam… supplies Uncle Ho wanted the Cong to use against our boys. It was Christmas time and Bob Hope came to our base. It was a secret base that wasn’t supposed to even exist. In one of his television specials Bob quipped, “We did our show at Nakhon Phanom for pilots, crew chiefs, and technicians… who don’t officially exist.”

Each year Bob Hope came to “Naked Fanny” and brought the troops a little piece of home during Christmas time. The show lasted for nearly two hours. It ended as always with the singing of Silent Night. For a little bit, it had been Christmas. But we all knew we had to get back to the business of war. There we were… hundreds of grown men… all with tears in our eyes.

After the show we were all hungry and headed for the Chow Hall… the Skyrader Inn. It was very crowded because after everybody left the show they headed over to eat before going back to work. It was hard to find a table and we had to sit wherever we could. As we were starting to chow-down, Bob hope and a few others walked in. I guess even star performers get hungry too. Everyone stood up and gave them another round of applause. Bob in his typical style took a swing with his golf club and acknowledged us. Then he got in line with everyone else to get some chow.

We were woofing down our food as fast as we could. We had to get back to work… the war was still raging and there was stuff to be done… we had to stop Uncle Ho. Then… I couldn’t believe it. Bob Hope came up to our table and asked, “Okay if we sit here?” There they were… Bob and Ann-Margaret… at my table! We had only two empty chairs. My jaw dropped and I stuttered out, “Shh… Shhh… Sure you can sit here.” Bob sat across from me and Ann-Margaret sat next to me. I was in love.

Ann-Margaret was the most beautiful woman I had ever been next to. Her stage make-up was gone and I think she was even more beautiful. I really didn’t know what to say. But she made me at ease. It turned out she also might have the friendliest woman I had ever met. I quit woofing down my chow. The war could wait for Ann-Margaret. We sat there for much too short of a time. She didn’t seem like a big time star any more… she was just like any girl from back home.

Someone from the Bob Hope troupe stepped into the chow-hall and announced, “Time to go… the plane is ready”. By that time I had forgotten all about where we were or what we were doing. For just a few minutes I was just back home, chatting up a beautiful girl… and there was no war. Ann-Margaret turned to me, kissed me on the cheek and said, “Gotta go… I’ll never forget you”.

With that, she was gone… I’ll never forget you Ann-Margaret…

Try as I might… I had to wake up and get on about the business of the day… people to see, places to go and things to do. Although Bob Hope is gone, millions of GIs like me will never forget him. We will never forget all of those that came to us at Christmas time. Whenever I think about the time Bob came to us for the visit, I always hum to myself… “Thanks for the mammaries ”. (No…  that’s not a typo… I meant mammaries.) Thanks Bob.

And thanks to Ann-Margaret for the fantasy filled moments you have given me. Oh what might have been.

Lots of red-blooded American men and the GIs of the time have fantasized about Ann-Margret the same way I have. What a lot of them didn’t know is what kind of a person she really is. During the time of her USO tours, she was married to Roger Smith. She is still married to him today and by all accounts, it has been a “fairy tale” love. Still, she entertained us like we were the only one in the world for her. She took her Christmas time to come to our little “garden spot” and I thank her for that. I truly will never forget her for that.

One other thing I should mention is that she has a special spot for us GIs of the era too… she always calls us her “gentlemen”. Her web page has a section on her time with the USO. Be sure to read the stuff at the bottom of the page. And… guys who were there… have some Kleenex ready. Here’s the link.

http://www.ann-margret.com/uso.html

P.S. I owe this story to a friend that also did time at “Naked Fanny”… Dan Bruhn. He was there from ’68 – ’69 too. An email from him reminded me of the Bob Hope show and of Ann-Margaret. Of course, he claimed that he was the one that ate lunch with Ann-Margaret way back during that Christmas time… maybe he did.

An Air Commando Hero is gone…

Shame on the “main stream media” for not giving this the attention it deserves. I guess that it has been overshadowed by the summer games in Missouri… you know the shoot, loot and scoot happening in Ferguson.

Well… I hope lots of you share this and post about this. During the Vietnam war fourteen US Airmen were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. That’s it out of millions that served. Many more deserved it, but Bernie Fisher was one of the fourteen.

Here’s today’s news story…

Bernie was and still… is revered throughout the US Air Force… and now he is gone.

I salute you Colonel Fisher