The occasion was a city-wide art contest. They were told to paint paintings entitled "Peace." While the judges were understandably attracted to this beautiful pastural scene that a local painter had painted. It was a green pasture. It was the puffy white clouds and the beautiful blue sky and a little boy going by with a fishing pole over his shoulder and a quiet brook and some birds. That got second place. First place - well, the picture was of an angry, stormy day at the sea shore as the ocean was beating against the cliffs and the cliffs were stark and dark because of the darkness of the storm. The sky in this painting was angry and black, green and purple. You had to look twice to figure out what in world this had to do with peace. But if you looked halfway up the cliff these little baby birds were nestled underneath the wing of their mother, and they were sleeping totally oblivious to the storm that was howling all around them. Now it's the Christmas season. It's suppose to be about peace; but, if you feel the holiday pressure like I do, seems more like a storm, a stress which leads us into those birds.
I guess every athlete would like to do something immortal, something that will be remembered. Roy Riegels did - in a way. He played center in the 1929 Rose Bowl game in Pasadena, California. The game was almost over - the score was very close. Both teams knew that any score might well decide the game. Then, on one play, Roy Riegels suddenly found himself with a ball in his hands. Now centers only know what to do with the ball when they're snapping it to the quarterback - but Roy Riegels had it whether he liked it or not. Well, he started running as fast as a center can go - right for the goal line. He glanced back over his shoulder and he saw a strange sight - he was being frantically pursued by his own teammates. His instincts told him to just keep running, and he did - until he was tackled just short of the goal - by one of his own teammates. Roy Riegels was running for the other team's goal. And shortly, the other team went on to score and win the game. And as for athletic immortality? He went down in football history - as Wrong Way Riegels!
One thing I was never tempted to be was the neighborhood bully - you have to be big to be him. Now in the Chicago neighborhood where I grew up, there was a guy big enough to bully all of us - his name, believe it or not, was Boomer. If his mother named him that, it is her fault that he was a bully. Well, he was the first terrorist I ever knew - and I was one of his terrorees.
He threatened all of us little kids, he hurt us, and took our stuff. One day, I had had enough of Boomer's terrorism. So I marched down the street to his apartment building and went where no one ever went - to his back porch, to his door. Sure enough, Boomer came to the door, looking as nasty as ever. But I insisted that he give back the stuff he had taken. You say, "What a brave little guy you were." Sort of. Left out one small detail - when I went to stand up to the bully, my father went with me.
I have no official statistics on what I'm about to say - only personal impressions - but I believe the State of Pennsylvania is the roadkill capital of the Northeast - especially for dead deer. I've just seen many more deer by the side of the road there than in any state in our region - of course, there's a lot more of Pennsylvania too. But I read an article about the outraged mayor of a small town in Pennsylvania - the interstate runs through his community. The reason for his outrage? A paving crew was working on that road one day last summer - and they came upon a dead deer with much of its carcass lying on the road. Do you want to try to guess what they did next? Yes! They went right ahead and paved right over the deer!
If you've been to Disneyland or Disneyworld you've probably experienced an attraction called "Small World." You get in this little boat and you're propelled along this winding canal where you're surrounded by animated dolls from every conceivable area of the world. They're all children. Arab children, Indian children, French children, Mexican children, Eskimo children - you get the idea. These animated children are singing to you "It's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small world after all, it's a small, small world." You say, Ron, those lyrics are monotonous. You should take the ride! You get to hear it about fifty times. The singing dolls are cute, and the song's okay for a little while, but by the time you hear it over and over and over, you have had enough of a small, small world!
In certain parts of the country taking out the garbage is no brainer. Not where we live in the Metropolitan New York area! We are talking pages of trash regulations including what to do with plastics, different colors of glass, aluminum cans, leaves, branches, tires. Well, my friend Craig isn't used to all these regulations because he just moved here. So he let his garbage pile up for the first few weeks in the area, with odoriferous results, shall we say? Eventually he had his own little land-fill developing by his back door. Finally he found the instructions on handling trash and Craig told me, "It wasn't that I didn't want to get rid of that garbage, I just didn't know how to."
On any given day you can probably turn your TV on sometime and the show will be on - Gilligan's Island. Yes! In fact, I'll bet you may even be able to hear the theme song playing in your brain. You see, that show was a big hit when it aired the first time. And now it just won't stop airing. Remember, there is Gilligan who is the terminally stupid first mate of the S.S. Minnow, the skipper, the millionaire and his wife, the Professor, the movie star - the characters are really well known. The plot was very simple, summed up in the theme song. These people went out on the S.S. Minnow for a three-hour tour and a storm blew them into some unknown island where they were stranded until the series finally ended years later. Some three hour tour!
When I was a kid someone came up with a new idea for entertainment - not making hieroglyphics, no - it was called three day movies! If you're old enough to remember this, I hope you're enjoying your senior citizen discounts, you'd go to the theater and they'd hand you these glasses that looked like cardboard sunglasses and you'd settle in to watch the movie, but not for long - especially if it was a monster movie. You see, the monster would start walking towards the screen and then right out of the screen and practically into your face! Of course, if you took those glasses off it was just a flat old screen again and a flat old monster. But when you had those glasses on, you saw things that you otherwise would miss!
I think children go to secret seminars on how to manipulate parents. They are so good - so early - especially at bedtime. See the object is to squeeze out a few more minutes before having to go to sleep - right? Let's see, there's water - hmm - and then there's getting rid of the water, and, then there's praying some more, let's pray some more (who could be against that?) - ah, there's a sudden interest in talking about things, they are suddenly communicators, and then of course, the ever popular monsters in my closet. Actually, a lot of these things are based on real needs and real feelings. I mean a lot of children really believe there's a monster in their closet - and that the monster will come out and get them as soon as there's not a Mommy or Daddy in the room. I am sure glad we're all grown up now and we don't have to be afraid of a monster in the dark anymore. Well, except for one.
We had three kids. They all were in the junior high band at different times over a seven year period of time so I got to go to seven straight years of Junior High Band concerts. Now, I enjoyed watching our kids develop musically, but I cannot say that it was a memorable music experience. Now fortunately they stuck to pieces that were at their level. But suppose they had attempted Beethoven - okay, imagine you don't know much about Beethoven, I tell you, "Beethoven was a musical genius. Now why don't you come to the Junior High Band concert with me, they're playing a Beethoven symphony. I know you're going to be impressed with Beethoven's ability." Okay it's after the concert and I go, "Oh, what did you think of Beethoven?" You go, "I am not impressed." And tell you, "I know there were a lot of squeaks and squawks and instruments missing but please, please don't judge Beethoven based on the way they play His music! He is a genius, they just don't play His music very well."