Talkin’ Brooks at the Bean

It’s official title is Cloud Gate but everyone calls it The Bean. That’s because Anish Kapoor’s sculpture in Millennium Park in Chicago looks like, well, a bean. A giant, shiny bean. My son has lived in Chicago for more than three years and every time I visit him I must visit The Bean. If you’ve ever experienced it you know why. There is something about it that speaks to the kid in all of us. So, even last weekend when I was in Chicago for my son’s wedding, I made it my business to get to The Bean. Twice, in… Continue Reading

Those Midwesterners

“Is this a Chicago thing?” I asked the bartender as he popped open a tiny bottle of beer and placed it in front of me. “More of a Midwestern thing,” he said. I’m just glad it’s a thing. See, it was 10 in the morning and I had just ordered not a beer, but a Bloody Mary. The beer came as no surprise though. In fact, I was expecting it. And looking forward to it. In Chicago, and apparently throughout the Midwest, a Bloody Mary is served with a beer chaser. They call it a sidekick, sometimes a side car,… Continue Reading

Eat ’em if you got ’em

Peaches. I love peaches. Maybe that’s why my little girl said what she said when she was about three. Greta, now 32, was riding with me, all harnessed into her car seat (we put them in the front in those days … front facing, too), when she announced, “I love peaches, so my nickname should be Peachie.” How cute. Except she didn’t love peaches. She didn’t even like them. While we gave it a pretty good try, her self-proclaimed nickname did not stick. Through the years, however, I would, and still do, trot it out, just for fun. “Hey, Peach,”… Continue Reading

In the cool, cool, cool

The air conditioning’s been on the fritz at our church. Since early summer, wide open doors, front and back, on Sunday mornings have been the the telltale sign that it had yet to be fixed. Wide open doors followed by heaving sighs from church-goers exiting their cars and reluctantly making their way across the parking lot. Church bulletins quickly became fans at every service. Now, I’m sure I am in the minority, but the lack of air conditioning had not bothered me all that much. I’d say to my wife I distinctly remember beads of perspiration rolling down the middle… Continue Reading

A golf joke that’s true

I’ll leave the names out to protect the not-so-innocent, but I know a true golf story that, if you ask me, trumps all the lame golf jokes I’ve heard throughout the years. “Hit the ball, drag Jack,” comes to mind. If you don’t know that one, I’m not going to tell it here. Or maybe I will. We’ll see. The true one involves a couple of my friends and the golf term “fore.” Even non-golfers, of which I am a prime example, known that “fore” is yelled by a golfer who hits an errant shot. It’s supposed to alert bystanders… Continue Reading

Lucky Us

It’s rare to discover a baseball fan in one of my college classes. They’re all into the NFL, save for a few who don’t care about sports at all. But baseball? Eh. So I rejoice at finding a student who’s wearing a Chicago Cubs cap because he likes the team not just the color of the hat. Or one who’s heard of Ted Williams or Willie Mays or Ernie Banks. So, imagine my joy when a few years ago I had not one but two such fans as students. One was all about the Red Sox, a big Dustin Pedroia… Continue Reading

The song that never ends

I was just finishing up mowing the lawn when I spotted the ice cream truck a block or two up the street. There was a time when that would have sent me scurrying into the house. It was either make that dash or have “Pop Goes the Weasel” in my head all night long. But thanks to one of my students, I now know the antidote. It was a few years ago when that student told me the way to knock a pesky tune out of your head is to hum the “I Dream of Jeannie” theme song. You know:… Continue Reading

Own Goal

If you are a soccer fan you know the meaning of the term “own goal.” You also know why I am writing about it today. If not, allow me to explain. Occasionally in a soccer match a player will inadvertently knock the ball into his own team’s goal. It’s called an “own goal” and it counts as a goal for the opposing team. Since soccer matches typically are low scoring affairs, an “own goal” can be devastating. Like on July 1 when England’s Laura Bassett scored an “own goal” for Japan to cost her team a victory and a trip… Continue Reading

The Bob Cicon Rule

I don’t see my old friend Bob Cicon much these days, so it was interesting that I ran into him the very day after mentioning his name at the Luzerne County Community College commencement. I had told a colleague about something I’ve been calling “The Bob Cicon Rule” for, oh, 40 years. Maybe more. And the next day, there’s Bob. The colleague was Dr. Steve Housenick, fellow faculty member. The first time I met Steve I told him he was a dead ringer for Phillies pitcher Cliff Lee. He said I wasn’t the first who said that. We don’t run… Continue Reading

Slow down on side streets

It’s like a cold glass of water in the face that sign in the yard on Foote Avenue, Duryea, right where it becomes Parsonage Street, Pittston. “Drive like your child lives here,” it reads. If that does not make a motorist slow down I don’t know what will. It speaks to something I’ve said and written about for years: slow down on side streets. I really don’t care if someone is driving 85 mph on Route 81 or the Pennsylvania Turnpike. I don’t do that now but I used to. Then it occurred to me one day how many times… Continue Reading