Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2020

Archive for the tag “Money”

All In All It Was A Good Weekend


HOLIDAY WEEKENDS USUALLY SUCK. This one, even though it is really an intrinsically minor holiday – Halloween – is another one that tends to slide downhill quickly. However…

This year our Halloween went by on a relatively horizontal glide path. No sudden plunges into nonsense or vituperative cruelty.

After a few years at this, my wife, the lovely and non-chocolate consuming, Dawn, and I have our standard Halloween operating ritual polished and smoothly running.

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Fire Up The Searchlights !

searchlightsPEOPLE COME AND PEOPLE GO. That is the nature of life. They are here one minute and then, without warning they are – somewhere else.

I love a mystery – don’t you?

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She Just “Sort of” Robbed The Bank

tripleI WAS CHATTING WITH THE USUAL SUSPECTS the other day when the topic of bank robbery came up. Sometimes they scare me. This bunch of Geezers couldn’t rob the Food Bank, let alone an actual – “Money in the vault, Can I see some ID, please,” type of bank. This group would be called the “Don’t forget to take your meds gang.” Even so, they would be a bigger threat than a person I once knew who really did try to rob a bank.

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Sales By The Yard

MelmacTHIS PAST SATURDAY there was a neighborhood-wide “Yard Sale” in our part of town. In other areas of the country events like this are called, “Sidewalk Sales,” “Garage Sales,” or “This crap is going into the trash if nobody buys it.”

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I’d Rather Have Green Beans

giphy-6WE RECEIVED A COUPON IN THE MAIL the other day. It came from one of the Mega-Stores – those places that sell everything short of nuclear weapons and reasonably fresh green beans.

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BayCityRollers-kiltsONE OF THE USUAL SUSPECTS asked me what I was planning to do this weekend. Before I could answer another of the bunch started singing, not very well, a fractured rendition of the old number by The Bay City Rollers: “Saturday Night.”

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When It Comes To Wasting Time I Am Self-Taught

Kite with keyWHILE HANGING TEN OFF MY KEYBOARD today I bumped into a tidbit of info that is, perhaps, the most Obvious, Redundant, and Dumb As a Sackful of Hammers thing I’ve seen in quite a while.

The University of Pennsylvania, Department of English, is offering a course with the title of, “Wasting Time On The Internet.”

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Dancing At St. Arbucks

healing-parkingLAST SATURDAY’S BLOG about the miracle on Wabash Avenue sparked a very shallow conversation this morning at St. Arbucks.

The Usual Suspects were there when I arrived and, after exhausting the topic of the Chicago Cubs Baseball team, they began to talk about “Tele-Evangelists we have known.” This had nowhere to go but down and it did so very quickly.

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A New Shiny Object

Parking lotTERRE HAUTE (That’s French for “I hope there is enough parking.”) is a town that loves something – anything, that is new. If you want to create a stir in this town just open a new store or restaurant.

“Build it and mail out coupons and they will come.”

— Paraphrase from “Field of Dreams”

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“A billion here, a billion there…sooner or later it adds up to real money.” — Senator Everett Dirksen

money coffee tableI JUST FINISHED CHECKING our lottery ticket to see if we had suddenly become the Nouveau Riche while sitting in the corner at St. Arbucks.

We didn’t.

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It’s Haircut Time!

kim-jong-uns-haircutI GOT MY HAIR CUT ON MONDAY. I needed a haircut a month ago, but with all the travelling and such I never got around to it. My head was beginning to look like a Chia Pet version of myself.

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It’s “Lime Green Wednesday”

LEOPARD-AND-DIKDIKI PICKED “LIME GREEN WEDNESDAY” for no particular reason. If Black Friday can have a color, so can this super-duper sale day. If you want to call it something else, go ahead – I won’t object.

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My Fathers Day

john mom and dad

THE FATHERS DAY Holiday, Celebration, Acknowledgement is hard upon us.

On days like that I really don’t think much about my role as a father. I picked up the honorific in midstream, becoming a “Step-Dad” at the age of 56. I don’t think about my role because it is an evolving thing, changing from day to day – sometimes hour to hour.

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Keep Tipper Gore Out Of This

taft-collageEVERY MORNING WHEN I TURN ON MY PHONE and look at the baseball scores, double check the weather forecasts, peruse the news, see if my calendar has any appointments scheduled, monitor the local gasoline prices and check my email (in fact, I do everything except use the phone to make a call) I discover that two or three people have sent me something they regard as “trivia.”

What is or isn’t trivial is really quite a subjective call. It is like whether a particular person is sweet dream beautiful or merely nightmarish, or do Brussels Sprouts make your mouth either water or fill with projectile matter. It is like wondering if some favorite politician is a lowlife, scum-sucking career criminal or just a thieving degenerate spawn of Satan.

You catch my drift?

Most of the things sent my way are not trivia. The fact that today is so and so’s birthday is not trivia. The fact that some guy at a County Fair in California is selling “Deep Fried Slim-Fast Bars” is not trivia. It is hellishly funny, but not as funny as another guy, in Milwaukee, who has erected a sign on the roof of a building on the approach path to the Milwaukee Airport that reads, “Welcome to Cleveland.”

That is a guy I’d like to meet.

For the better part of last year I participated in a weekly trivia contest at a local pub. Teams of erratically educated people would get together to show off, compete for gift cards good only at the pub, and to drink themselves into memory erasing stupors.

Our team had one member who must have done nothing for the last 20 years but listen to Top 40 Radio and watch sitcoms. He was a very valuable person to have on board. Another member had a disturbingly encyclopedic memory for anything to do with Sports. I was the Old Guy who could actually remember something that happened before the invention of TiVo.

I was doing the trivia thing for the enjoyment and to get out of the house so my loving and talented wife, Dawn could have some peace and quiet. I can be a bit like a young beagle puppy at times – cute, but headache producing.

I don’t drink – a fact that helped late in the game as I was one of the few left in the joint who could remember facts about William Howard Taft and get my car keys in the ignition on the first try. Through chance and dumb luck our team was surprisingly successful. Appetizers for everyone!

I began to separate myself from the weekly event because I began to suspect that our Sports Maven was nuttier than a truckload of Payday candy bars.

The trivia game is supposed to be fun. Am I right? But for this fellow it had turned into a Blood Sport. If he supplied the wrong answer to a question about who won the Orange Bowl in 1913, he would slam his fist onto the table, turn persimmon red, and have to go take a walk to cool off.

Naturally, I would throw kerosene onto the fire.

“I think you’re right! Tell the Moderator that you challenge her answer and that you are playing under protest.”

“##^@@&*$##%%!!!!!” (followed by a few laps around the parking lot)

That’s a paraphrase, of course.

I used the Holiday Season to completely exit from the team – and so did all of the other members – leaving Mr. Pecan Log teamless.

I heard that he glommed onto another team and proceeded to drive them batty.

Oh, well.

I may go back over to the pub and play the game again someday, but I’m going to assemble my own team beforehand. I want no psychotics, nobody who has to keep throwing away their sobriety pins and no one who thinks the answer to every question is either Al or Tipper Gore.

Strawberry Shortcake Is A Young Man’s Game

20130613_194208THIS MORNING IS THE MORNING AFTER our church’s Annual Strawberry Fest and I feel like a piece of meat with shoes on.

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I Could Use A Half Billion Dollars, Thank You


THIS PAST WEDNESDAY the Powerball Lottery drawing Grand Prize had reached 500 million dollars. Wow! Half a billion dollars! That would keep you off of food stamps for a while.

For reasons I’m still not sure of, the State Lottery Commission decided that the drawing needed some additional allure. They set up a publicity stunt here in Terre Haute. I guess they felt that the smell of all that money wasn’t enough.

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Game Show Number Three – Gimme The Money


THE THIRD AND FINAL game show that I invaded was my favorite – “Win Ben Stein’s Money” on the Comedy Channel.

It was 1998, during the show’s second season. I was in LA for a few days and arranged for a tryout. Compared to the Jeopardy quiz this audition was more like asking someone out on a date. I chatted with about five staffers and we sat around cracking jokes. They liked that I had just put out a small book called the “Joy of Revenge,” and was pretty much a sarcastic SOB. After all, this was on the Comedy Channel.

Two months later, at about ten o’clock at night I got a call from them asking me if I could come to LA the next day to be on the show.  It was kind of last-minute, but I said, “Sure, no problem.” So what if it was a 450 mile drive, did I care? Well, yes I did, but this show had one very attractive feature: you played for cash. I didn’t need any more rice.

In contrast to the Jeopardy shoot, “Ben Stein’s Money” had the feeling of a “Wayne’s World” episode. The set looked like somebody’s basement rec room.

My fellow contestants were a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and an LA lawyer. After the first round the lawyer was history. I was in first place. The reporter dude was in second and Ben would be joining the game.

In the second round my brain kicked into overdrive and I smoked both Ben and the reporter. That meant that, after a short break, it would be Ben and me, one-on-one, mano-a-mano, winner take all – $5000 and no parting gifts.

During the break Ben and I sat down on the edge of the stage and chatted. He was very nice and at ease. He asked me how I prepared for the show. He was taken aback when I told him that I had been called less than 24 hours ago.

For the final challenge Ben and I were sequestered in our own private “Isolation Booths.” His had an easy chair, Art on the walls, and a cooling beverage on a small table. My booth looked like the inside of a plywood shipping container: one bare light bulb hanging down, a wooden stool, and sitting in the corner a half empty box of cheese crackers.

My theory on shows like this is that, “You either know this crap, or you don’t.” You really can’t study for it.

Jimmy Kimmel asked me ten questions about all sorts of things. I got 7 out of 10 correct. Dumb luck. He happened to ask me about stuff I knew.

He then asked Ben Stein the same ten questions. He got only five correct.


A ton of confetti and balloons dropped from the ceiling and Ben congratulated me, shaking my hand. He told me that only about 1 out of 10 contestants bested him. I beat him like a rented mule.

About two weeks later I got a check for $5000 in the mail – no dishes, no Zenith televisions, and no rice. Just money, lucre, scratch, geetus, dead presidents, moolah.

About half of it went to taxes and a healthy portion of the rest went into a new, state of the art, computer and printer.

The television industry limits people to three game show opportunities. They don’t want people to make it into a career. Trust me – given my track record on game shows, it would make a lousy career. Not a lot of money, but at least there would be something to cook up for lunch.

Game Show Number Two – The Big Time

jeopardy cheers


IN AN EFFORT TO FULFILL my citizenship requirements in California I applied to become a contestant on Jeopardy – or as they insist on calling it “Jeopardy!”

The tryout for the show is a two-parter. First you take a written test of about 60 questions – with a ten minute time limit. Not multiple choice, you have to know the answers. The day I took the test, in LA, on the Jeopardy! set, I was one of about 80 people scribbling madly. There were a lot of tweed jackets with elbow patches there.

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