“Yeah I'm sorry, I can't afford a Ferrari,
But that don't mean I can't get you there.
I guess he's an Xbox and I'm more Atari,
But the way you play your game ain't fair.”
Cee Lo Green
Took cherry cobbler and beer to Tom and Darcy Wade’s after watching New England defeat the Lions with Phil. It’s the first Thanksgiving in memory that we did not spend with the Bayers (Kirsten in St. Louis recently had a kid and Brenden had to work), and Phil and Dave’s families ate with Delia and Angie’s families. On hand was Darcy’s affable brother John, whom I had played crochet against at a summer picnic, and his two attractive daughters Annie and Jackie, both in their early twenties. The food was delicious, especially the gravy and small onions in a white sauce. Normally I have white meat, but I took a piece of dark meat off the turkey after John carved it up and it was so tender I went with more of it. As Brady quipped, once you have dark meat, you rarely go back to white. Brady tried to get a game of Wits and Wagers going, but everyone enjoyed conversing so much, he didn’t get any takers. Darcy asked me if I’d seen the Cee Lo Green song “F - - - You” on YouTube and then showed it to me in her room. Cee Lo, one of the two members, along with Danger Mouse, of Gnarls Barkley, also put our a tame version of the song called “Forget You.” One line in the song, “I pity the fool,” was Mr. T’s trademark saying in “The A-Team.”
On Black Friday (the nickname derives from it being the year’s biggest shopping day) Jef Halberstadt hosted gaming. I took cole slaw and potato salad, which went well with Robin’s turkey casserole. I had a very good day starting with a five-player win in Amun Re despite bidding too much for a property that I erroneously thought would get me bonus points. I barely lost Roll Through the Ages to Tom but won Stone Age for the first time ever by concentrating on huts and men. Learned a new Rio Grande game, Dominion, voted 2009 German game of the year, where players take actions to expand their kingdoms. The play involves buying three types of cards (Action, Treasure, and Victory). The only cards that you score at the end are the Victory cards, but if you acquire them too soon, it works against you. On one’s turn there are three phases, Action, Buy, and Cleanup. The second time I played it I won, barely edging out Dave. Back home a SOB (short for sonuvabitch) games was in progress, and at various times I filled in for Phil and Miranda (the eventual winner).
All the grandkids spent the night, so I made pancakes and kielbasa for the crew. James and Rebecca’s choral group performed Christmas songs at the mall, and we all went to hear them. Each had a duet, and neither showed any stage fright. They were very professional. Later in the day we went to Tina Horn’s surprise fortieth birthday party. The Map Quest directions were screwed up, so we spent a few miles on a dark road, passing over an un-gated railroad track and coming upon a one-lane curve (a sign advised honking first) before finally finding the Hacienda restaurant. We’ve been close to Kevin Horn’s family since he and Dave were in high school together, so it was great to see everyone. There were ten Lanes (Dave was announcing a basketball game and Delia was off with her family) among the 40 guests. Phil and I split a steak fajita meal. When the hot sauce came, it reminded us of the “Curb You Enthusiasm” scene we watched together where Larry is having dinner with a sex therapist who mentions how hot sauce makes the climax of oral sex much more enjoyable, so he douses his meal and then has such severe reaction (coughing, sweating, and chugging down glasses of water) that she leaves in disgust. Back home Alissa won both card games, SOB and Oh Hell. She told an anecdote about hearing ZZTop’s “Cheap Sunglasses” in Prague, thinking of the concert we attended together, and turning her friend on to “the greatest old band in Texas.”
With the grandkids and Phil still at the condo I boiled eggs and cooked bacon to go with Toni’s pierogis and cleaned up afterwards. Ten year-old Victoria left early with Delia because of gymnastics practice. Miranda made the varsity basketball team and Anthony, who has a girlfriend who evidently talks to him on the phone for hours on end, is a starter on his eighth grade team. After everyone took off I raked leaves and watched the Bears defeat the Eagles in their best game all year. Eagles wide receivers Jackson and Maclin were on my Fantasy team, while quarterback Michael Vick and running back Sean McCoy were on my opponents’. Unfortunately my guys didn’t do much and I lost to Phil, falling into a tie for sixth place. I’m in danger of not making the playoffs.
“Rolling Stone” gave the Harry Potter movie a mediocre review, claiming that like a padded bra, it “is all tease, zero payoff.” The one thing the reviewer (like me) liked was the animated interlude that explained the legend of the three Deathly Hallows. The magazine’s main feature was listing the favorite songs of 50 artists, including Pete Seeger (folk songs such as Leadbelly’s “Midnight Special”), Debbie Harry (CRGB-ere punk such as the Ramones’ “I Wanna be Sedated”), Patti Smith (Bob Dylan love songssuchas “Isis”), Rod Stewart (Sam Cooke songs like “Cupid”), and Elton JohnNew pop classics like The Killers’ “When You Were Young”). My favorite was Bruno Mars, whose album is called “Doo-Wops and Hooligans” and features the hits “Just the Way You Are” and “Grenade.” The Hawaiian-born Mars, part Puerto Rican and part Filipino, listed such Fifties classics as “Speedo” by the Cadillacs, “Sh-Boom” by the Chords, “Years on My Pillow” by Little Anthony and the Imperials, and “I Only Have Eyes for You” by The Flamingoes. There is a close-up feature on Wavy Gravy called “The Last Hippie” and Ozzie Osbourne’s advice column, where someone complained that his mother-in-law was always talking about her husband’s failures in bed. Ozzie wrote: “No one in his right mind wants to think about their father-in-law’s pork sword, or how good he is at swinging it between the sheets.”
Jeff Manes did a SALT column on 94 year-old lefty Lydia Grady, who was fighting for civil rights in Gary during the 1940s and provided a place for Obama volunteers to stay in the spring of 2008. Jeff started with a Paul Robeson quote, and Lydia mentioned that when Robeson sang at the Reverend L.K. Jackson’s church after the school board forbade him to make an appearance at Gary Roosevelt School he was at her home and serenaded her two year-old daughter with a rendition of “My Curly-headed Baby.” I interviewed Lydia for my Postwar issue “Age of Anxiety.” Manes asked Lydia about the 1945 Froebel School Strike, and she answered, “I got thrown in jail over that one; I’d been in Gary like one day. I had just gotten out of the service. I told the [white] kids who were striking, ‘This is not why we had a war.’” Manes ended with Jim Hightower’s criticism of moderates: “The only thing in the middle of the road is a yellow streak and dead armadillos.”
I decided on a new ploy for the enduring saga of the missing tiara. Here’s the latest paragraph: “By this time, word of the theft had spread to most of Wendy’s old classmates. She had sent LeeLee, Jimmy, Connie, and Janet Facebook messages that friends of theirs soon learned about. The mystery quickly became a topic of much speculation. Awaiting Wendy’s arrival home was a telephone message from LeeLee containing amazing news. An anonymous person had mailed a package to Molly’s sister. Inside was a tiara and a note in capital letters saying, “For the shrine to Molly, the true queen of our school.” Sissy did not have Wendy’s phone number or address and had asked LeeLee to find out if she should mail it to her. Instead, after talking briefly with LeeLee, Wendy decided to ask Captain Cardinal to look into the matter. She thanked Sissy profusely for getting in touch with her, and asked her not to throw away the package or the note that accompanied the tiara. Learning of this latest development and that Wendy was willing to pay for him to visit Sissy in New England, the Captain recalled how much he had liked Molly in high school. During a party at her house Molly’s mother had told him she was one-eighth Cherokee. “So am I,” the Captain had said. “Maybe you and Molly are related,” her mother replied. Indeed the two seemed to share a bond that transcended casual friendship. At the reunion Sissy had told the Captain how much Molly had liked him. He was struck by the strong family resemblance between Sissy and her mother. Visiting her would be a pleasure. He placed a call to LeeLee to get her phone number and see if she could go with him and make the arrangements.”
Talked to Michael and Janet Bayer about their Thanksgiving without the Lanes. The one thing Michael insists on is turnips, while Janet needs cranberry jell from a can as opposed to fancier stuff. She bragged about a dish she made with persimmons. Gaard and Chuck spent Thanksgiving with eight or nine friends. They never had kids but are very close to a god-daughter. A great cook, Gaard reported that she had good luck with a spice cake recipe that she tried out only the blackberries threw the consistency off slightly. Tanice Foltz invited us (via an email Evite) to her annual cookie exchange party. Maybe I’ll look into persimmons cookies.
Ron Cohen came across an “adults only” 1995 comic book for sale on eBay called Jimbo about hillbilly punkers exploring unknown lands. The ad invites readers to “Turn on, tuni in, drop out, and pick up this groovy underground comic from the days of free love, drugs, and rock and roll! This is issue #1 of Jimbo, the comic from artist Gary Panter.” Wonder if there was an issue #2. Panter’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone magazine, and he has reprised the punker in the graphic novels “Jimbo’s Inferno” and “Jimbo in Purgatory.” Ron also sent me a New York Times article about a photo taken of Abraham Lincoln exactly 150 years ago, the first showing him with a beard. Previous presidents were clean-shaven, but only one man, William McKinley, would serve as president in the next 50 years without facial hair.
In the news: the U.S. and South Korea are conducting war games off the coast of North Korea despite heightened tensions in the area. Dead from pneumonia at age 82 is actor Leslie Nielson, most famous for his roles in the comedies “Airplane” and “Naked Gun.” His most famous line, in reply to someone saying, “Surely you can’t be serious” was, “I am serious, and don’t call me Shirley.” Also dead of prostate cancer, former Gary Police Chief Thomas Houston, shackled to a hospital bed while serving a 41-month sentence for violating the civil rights of burglary suspect Victor Adams. In 2008, shortly after Mayor Rudy Clay appointed the 40-year veteran Chief, he came home from a funeral to find his home burglarized. With two others he burst into the house of Adams and kicked him after handcuffing him.