Nov 4 2016


When I was growing up I remember hearing the term ‘grease zert,’ and I just assumed it was a made-up word. While my dad was skilled at a lot of things (drawing, aviation, mechanics,welding), he was not always known to handle the English language in a manner consistent with the generally agreed upon principles of usage (he once wrote the word ‘paided’ as a past tense for ‘pay’).

But it turns out that in this case he was pretty darn close:


See more of the etymology here at Merriam-Webster.

Pic borrowed from Currie Enterprises.


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Jan 5 2014

The Marauder

My dad once told me the story of his uncle Delmar’s car:

“Your uncle Delmar never had kids, so of course he had lots of money.

Back in the 60s this racecar driver told Mercury that he wanted them to make him a car, and Mercury figured that if they had to make one, the might as well make six.

Your uncle Delmar bought one. When aunt Nancy wasn’t around he’d take your uncle Donnie and me with him out on the highway and really open it up.

When he decided to sell it, me and Donnie begged him to sell it to us, but he refused.”

Delmar said, “You idiots will kill yourselves in it.”

“And we would have,” Dad admitted.

“So Delmar sold the car to your uncle Alfred.”

Dad said it kind of derisively, and did his impression of the permamellow Alfred driving the Marauder; it was much like Bill Cosby’s impression of Weird Harold driving his go-cart Continental–slumping sleepily in his imaginary seat with his arm outstretched on the imaginary wheel.

A few years ago I asked Alfred about it, and told him what Dad said about him tooling about in it all slow and stuff.

“That’s not really true,” he said.

“I had it up to 80 one time.”

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Jan 27 2012

I’m just going to have to find myself a new giant

André the Giant died 19 years ago today.

André was always one of my favorite wrestlers. When I was a kid, we didn’t watch wrestling at our house. Whenever we were at Grampa’s (my Dad’s dad), every Saturday morning was Bugs Bunny followed by, as Grampa called it, rasslin’. This was back in the early 80’s, with Hulk Hogan, Ricky the Dragon, Jake the Snake, King Kong Bundy, and of course, André.

The only match I remember was between King Kong Bundy and André the Giant.  Bundy was obviously the heel (villain), as evinced by his shaved head, his black unitard, and his being 500 lbs. He did a splash (jump from the top rope with arms and legs out, landing flat) on André like five times, breaking the giant’s sternum. I remember after the match when you saw André walking out, you could see his sternum pressing against his skin. I already thought KKB was bad, but to break a man’s sternum? Pure evil.

At least that’s the way I remember it. I’ve done some searching around online and found out that that was a kayfabe injury. In wrestling lingo, kayfabe means that whatever happens inside the ring is presented as real, but in real life it is not. Examples: The Undertaker is not really dead and Kane is not really his brother. In and out of the ring Vince McMahon really is a jerk, and Mick Foley really is hardcore. In wrestling lingo, a mark is a fan, and a smart mark is a fan who knows wrestling isn’t real. I was not a smart mark.

At any rate, I still don’t know how they did that sternum thing.

Anyway, celebrities die all the time (who doesn’t?), and it’s not like you actually know any of these people, but it was really sad when André died, like we really had lost the 8th Wonder of the World.

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Nov 13 2009


When I was 14 my dad came home with a fresh pineapple (or as fresh as you can get in Missouri). It was the first time I ever had fresh pineapple, and it was amazing. Between me, Dad, and my three brothers, it was too-soon devoured.

But there was still plenty of pineapple core left, just sitting there on the cutting board. As if guessing my intent, Dad cautioned:

“Don’t eat that core.”

What did he know? The problem was that the pineapple core looked so good.

So when he went to do something else, I tried a little piece; it tasted even better than the pineapple itself had. So I ate the rest of the core.

That night I had the absolute worst stomach pains I had had in my whole life, and I haven’t had its equal since. It felt like some was taking my stomach and wringing it out like a wet towel. With a vise. Remember that scene in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where Mola Ram makes him drink that stuff out of the skull, and he lay convulsing all night? I wished I could have had it that easy.

So why didn’t I listen to my Dad? I don’t know.

Just because he spent a year in Hawaii didn’t mean he knew anything about pineapple.

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Oct 17 2009

Alms for the poor

Back in the 60s my grampa, my dad, and my uncle used to drive to Kansas City to stay in an apartment and work all week, then drive back home to southern Missouri on the weekends. Dad said when they got back to the apartment, my uncle would get out an old can and say, in his most pitiful voice:

“Alms, alms for the poor!”

Dad and Grampa would laugh and throw change in his can.

Dad said they thought it was pretty funny–until the end of the month when my uncle had an extra $20.

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Oct 7 2009

My first float trip

When I was seven and my brother was four we went with my Dad and his friend Roy on a float trip. I don’t remember the river, but I do remember a lot of things about the trip.

One thing was at one point in the river, over to the side, there was this circle where the water was literally blue. My Dad said it went a hundred feet down. I have since found in a book of Missouri Folklore that the spring, called Blue Spring (not to be confused with Blue Springs, Missouri), was created when an Indian maiden jumped into the water and drowned herself.

Some time later someone said, “Hey! Look at that! There’s a skeleton on that branch!” I looked up, anxious to see a human skeleton dangling from a rope in the tree–maybe a pirate or a cowboy that was hanged. I was disappointed to see that it turned out to be a huge frog skeleton in the water. It was intact, despite the lack of any flesh at all, and it appeared to be biting on a submerged branch.

The last event of the trip was when we were in the home stretch of the float, a wide slow-moving section of water, that Dad decided to be funny. He was an excellent swimmer, unafraid of any body of water, no matter how snake-infested. I was never a good swimmer.

Dad starting rocking the boat, acting like he was going to tip it over. My brother and I held on, trying not to be thrown overboard. I was terrified; Dad was highly amused.

Once he had finished having fun trying to drown us, he realized that he had inadvertently knocked his steel-toed boots overboard and they had sunk to the bottom of the river. It was good for him that he was such a good swimmer, as he had to dive down and retrieve them.

And then I was highly amused.

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Aug 17 2009

Dad’s Volkswagen

As long as I could remember my Dad always drove American cars, so it was a great surprise when my uncle mentioned that my Dad and his twin brother had once owned a Volkswagen Beetle–for a short time.

“They were coming around a  long curve on our gravel road. Our neighbor and his wife were pulling out of their drive. He didn’t see them, and she did, but she talked really slow.

She said, “Les, here come those boys in one of those–”


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Jul 24 2009

Hardwood, books & movies

I love books, and have for a long time. I think a lot of it stems from when I was a kid, when we would go to the mall. Mom and my brother would go somewhere, and dad and I would go to the bookstore.

I don’t know what dad was looking at, but I spent a lot of time sitting on the hardwood floor of Walden Books reading. The only book I remember reading was a book of behind-the-scenes stuff from Star Wars: how they did the effects, actors’ names, etc.

This book is what started me on a path of memorizing useless trivia (actors, directors, special effects guys). But it also got me to watch any movie that had actors from Star Wars in it. I first watched Dr. Strangelove because it had James Earl Jones in it, and Bridge on the River Kwai and Lawrence of Arabia because they had Sir Alec Guinness in them.

Guinness later said that he hated Star Wars and that George Lucas’s dialog was awful, and he barely mentioned any of the Star Wars movies in his autobiography. It’s really too bad, because I wouldn’t have watched any of his “good” films if it weren’t for his work in a space opera that he detested.

But besides the movies and trivia, I developed a love of hardwood floors. My house has hardwood throughout most of the main floor, including my office. Soon, I plan to line the walls with shelves for my books, including my books about movies.

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Jul 19 2009

No, ma’am

My dad, Lonnie,  had a lot of skills: auto mechanic, aircraft mechanic, small aircraft pilot, welder, torchcutter, and storyteller.

You can see how most of those overlap quite a bit. So it was a great surprise when he told me he had taken typing when he was in high school. It came out like this:

“One day I was in typing class and I had done a terrible job that day, and at the end of class our teacher called on us to tell her how many words a minute we had typed.”

“Jim?” she called.





My dad called out his abysmally low score.


“Did you say ten?” she asked incredulously.

“Yes!” my dad answered irritably.


Remember, this was back when corporal punishment was legal and encouraged.


“Do you want me to come back there and slap you?” she asked.

“No, ma’am.”

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Jun 5 2009

Three crosses

My dad had a funny sense of humor. One time we were passing a church with three crosses on it, and he made this observation:

“You know, that one thief went straight to Hell, but he still gets his cross on the church.”

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