Monday, November 28, 2011

A Visit From St. Nick (circa 2011)

Okay … gotta ‘fess up here: I first produced and published this piece a few years ago … but, considerin’ the Christmas season is here again (and what an ingenius idea it was, time-stamping it to refresh every 365 days! WOW!!), I thought it’d be apro … apropri … cool to play it again today for yer readin’ pleasure. So, enjoy if ya can:

Hey, little mousers … how ’bout gatherin’ ’round and let Uncle Relic read y’all a real good Christmas story, okay??
It’s called … well, it usedta be called The Night Before Christmas but it's, ummm ...  "souped up" a little, just for fun.

THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS (skeptic’s version)
(NOTE: These remarks are, in no way, a reflection of this writer’s feelings.  I think this was passed down by CNN through FOX then ABC, then the NATIONAL ENQUIRER made a fuss about it …)

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
(so they have MICE? THAT’S UNSANITARY! Why can't they go down to the hardware store and get some D-Con™ traps?)

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
(Geez ... these poor folks don’t even have a working washer-dryer!)

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
(Hmmm ... maybe the last name of the washer repairman?)

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;
(Awww. while MOST kids go to sleep thinkin’ of CARS, GAMES or SEX, they’re thinkin’ FOOD! Tsk … poor, starving waifs …)

And mamma in her ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
had just settled down for a long winter’s nap,
(Suuuure: Man and wife, kids in bed, naked except for kerchief and cap. To sleep. Uh-huh …)

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.
(Probably just a stray dog. Why be so PARANOID?? And you ain't buyin' that "spring" nonsense, I hope.  Hmph ... his WIFE probably kicked his butt out to see what it was ...)

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.
(Well, if he hadn’t eaten the sash to begin with … poor nutrition habits! [Huh? I dunno ... I guess it's imitation JAPANESE food or somethin' ... obviously, the KIDS didn't eat it. They're STARVING!])

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
(Now, why
“breast”? Why not “mantle” or “lawn”? Why does everything have to sound sexist these days?  And why am I sounding like Andy Rooney?  Let's move on ... )

Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
(Yeah … right. “Little old” drivers are rarely “lively and quick”. Seen the HIGHWAYS lately?)
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.
(Gotta admit ... it's the strangest entrance I've ever seen for a washer repairman!)
More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
(Now, what exactly IS a "COURSER?")
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;
(Awww, geez ... he’s gonna wake up the KIDS, who are dreaming of “sugar plums” …)

Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! Now, Prancer and Vixen!
("now" WHAT?!?)
On, Comet! On Cupid! On, Donder and Blitzen!
("ON" what??)
To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
(Now, WHY doesn’t he use the DRIVEWAY like everyone ELSE?)

Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!
(Dash away all of what? Man, you better park that rig and get to fixin’ that washin’ machine!)

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
(Umm, dude?  It's, like, SNOWING out there??  Hurricane season's PASSED!)
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,
(can anyone explain this line?)
So up to the house-top the coursers they flew
(I ask ya again: what’s a friggin’ COURSER?? Thoughtcha had REINdeer, bubba …)
with the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.
(Forget the toys; let’s fricasee those REINDEER! Should taste better than “sash”!)
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.
(Come ONNNN! They’re gonna wake the kids, I tell ya! An’ who’s gonna replace those SHINGLES??)
As I drew in my hand, and was turning around,
(He was probably drawin’ it back to BUST that dude for makin’ all that racket ...)

Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.
(waitaminnit. Isn’t that “entering without breaking”? And why was he carrying a “bound”? Is that, like, a WEAPON or somethin’??)
He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
and his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;
(Awwww, CRAP! There goes the clean CARPET! Well, with the exception of the mouse droppings … )
A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
(It’s late … strange dude looks like a peddler, breaking in through chimney with some weapon called a "bound" … yep: five to ten at San Quentin at least!)
His eyes — how they twinkled! His dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;
(WHOA! Sounds like daddy was gettin’ turned ON by the dude in red!)
The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;
(Man, this cat’s gonna set off the SMOKE DETECTOR!! An’ if the WIFE hears that, she’s gonna hit the ROOF… and THAT'LL knock off all those tiny REINDEER! And then PETA will be on THEIR backs and …)

He had a broad face and a little round belly
that shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.
He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
(almost sounds like some weird PORNOGRAPHY, doesn’t it??)
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;
(like HECK it didn’t … didn’t Linda Blair do the same thing in “Exorcist”?)
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
and filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,
(WAIT!! What … what was the “jerk” doing with him? When’d HE come into the picture?)
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;
(oh …)
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
(hmph — earlier he called 'em by name. Now he just whistles for ‘em?)
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
(what the heck?? Since when does a thistle have DOWN??)
But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight, “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night!”


  • THE KIDS TO CALM DOWN and get back to (ahem!) “sugarplum-land”.
EDITOR’S NOTE: So, here, we have the tragic story of an impoverished, fairly uneducated family who lives in unsanitary conditions. Then, one night, upon lying down after a questionable meal — and with his precious children so hungry they’re dreaming of food — the man of the house comes face-to-face with an intruder. The perp made his way into the house in unconventional fashion, and proceeds to make a mess. Strangely, the man becomes attracted to him … and doesn’t stop him or his accomplice (aka “a jerk”) from their crime.
Pity, isn’t it??
Awww, the heck with it … MERPYSONS CHRISTOLIDINGS! (Well, it’s now 2011, and we’ve gotta be careful with our greeting, kids … so I've combined them all into one!)

ROCKNOTE: The above greeting was one coined as a collaboration between The Relic and Lloyd Thaxton in 2006. As so many “politically correct” people wanna downplay the “CHRISTmas” thing, and others don’t see it as a HOLIDAY, we just combined “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays” and “Season’s Greetings” all in one.
See ya on the flip side, when we get back to norml … normle ... ummm, something like that ...

Monday, November 21, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011

Let's see ... as of now, there are parades getting lined up, football fields that are getting fresh lines on them, panicky turkeys occupying towns with signs saying something like "The 99% eat chicken! Down with the 1%!" and anxiously weighing themselves in hopes that their Slim-Fast® diets (poultry version) worked.

It's nearly Thanksgiving ...and it brings back so many memories to me, as I'm sure it does for you:
  • Back-in-the-day, mama used to take the names of all the folks in the immediate family (including grandkids), write 'em on little slips of paper and put them in a hat. After the big feast (and, listen ... nobody could cook as good as my mama -- though Gladys Goodman [my first wife's mum] came pretty close!), we'd "pass the hat", with each of us pulling out a name.
    Soon, it'd come my turn. I'd reach inside the fedora and pull out one from the very bottom.
    To this day, I still can't find family records on the kid named "DryCle Anonly". I knew his age, though ... he was always a young "7 1/2"!
  • Once, when I was married and the kids were just little tykes, the wife and I were trying to cook a turkey. Came time to coat it with juices. I yelled out, "Where's the little baster?" My son runs into the living room to baby brother, yelling, "HEY, MIKE! DADDY'S LOOKIN' FOR YOU!!" 'Twas then my wife-at-the-time reminded me that "baster" has a long ... not short ... "a" in it!
  • By the time the late '90s rolled around (yes, 1990s!), I was helping a friend with his turkey (he and his family'd graciously invited me for dinner). Of course, if you're gonna stuff it, you've gotta reach in and get that little package of whatever it is from inside, first.
    Well, Dave had a horse disguised as a dog (silly guy ... trying to cover and say it was a dog called a "Great Dane" or something.  Nice try.  Didn't look a thing like Victor Borge), and he was next to the kitchen counter, watching as I was wrist-deep in the bird.
    Suddenly, I ... well, have you ever had one of those sneezes that you're just not ready for??  I mean, all you can do is turn your head and let fly?
    Yep. Turned my head at the last second and instinctively pulled my hands up to cover my mouth.
    The only problem was that ... er, one of them was still in the turkey ....
    it slung off my hand, smacked the dog in the forehead, bounced over, hit a chair and came to rest in its seat.
    And don'tcha just hate it when you get thaaaaaaatclose to big sneeze ... and it never happens??
    But Dave finally broke the deafening silence that followed the turkey's "plop" in the char ...
Now ... why not share some of your memories? I'll be glad to print 'em here! And, for all of you (huh?? No, he washed it off, checked it over and still cooked it! Brave soul ...) who are anticipating a great holiday coming up ... HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!


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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Notes From The Checkout Line ...

This is your roving reporter, Chuck "Scoops" Hinson, broadcasting from the field here in Ashland, Kentucky. Right now, I'm in lane 8 at our neighbourhood Wal-Mart®, waiting for the eight people in front of me to check out.
We're ... we're hoping to get a word from some of thegeez ...can we get this line movin' sometime this year??the customers here in line about the recentSir, will you PLEASE stop hitting me with your buggy? Thank you ...the news that's been on everyone's minds.

Oh ... and it's 9:00 PM my time, Saturday night (8:15 Wal-Mart® time ... they throw in the extra minutes if you buy the clock):

Sir??  Excuse me ... SIR??  May I have ... oh ... excuse me!  Ma'am?? "WUUUT??"
"Ma'am, can you tell our viewers at home what you think about ... about the original Black Sabbath finally returning?"
"HUH?? Wha ... you mean they moved Black Friday back by two more days?? Shoot ... that was my only chance t' get away from the ol' man durin' them football games!! And on the Sabbath?? God ain't gonna""NO, ma'am. I mean the rock group ..."
"The who??"
"No, ma'am. They're still together, I think,. I'm talking about Black Sabbath here!"
"You mean they're gonna git rid of Black Friday?? Lawd'a mercy, I ..."

"Have a good day, ma'am!"
Now ... let's see whoSir? No, sir, I'm not harassing the customers! I'm with TMCTV and ...
"(ahem!) This is the front-end manager here at Wally World and, sir, what do YOU think about the recent problems at Penn State?"

"Well,(is this thing really on?? WOW!!) well, we always pride ourselves in low, low prices, and that motor oil's been one of our biggest sellers. But IIII ... I haven't heard of any problems with it! What ... what'd they say was wrong with it?? Let me know an' I'll pull 'em off the shelves!"

"No, sir ... I mean the trouble they had with Sandusky over the past week ... do you think it ..."
"What happened in Sandusky??  I've got relatives who live up there in Ohio, and they ain't said nothin' about anything goin' on!"

"Sir, I'm talking about Jo Pa!  Do you think he should've stayed, or ..."
"Now, what in the far does my Pa haveta do with it??  But, ma'am, if'n ya talked with him, dang right he shoulda stayed.  I mean, runnin' out on me and mama and Billy Joe like that ... "
"Uhhhh ... thank you sir!  LOOK! There's someone on Aisle 27 needin' your help ...""Huh?  We ain't got no 'Aisle 27'!" "Well, just imagine there is.  Just like our readers imagining this is a broadcast ..." 

(We're cutting this short and pulling "Scoops" back in the studio.  As he's doing this, he's also fighting a humongous case of bronchitis -- but, as soon as he starts to recover, he'll be back online [give it a good three days, at the most, okay?])

Monday, November 7, 2011

The Relic In Chi-Town

It all started so innocently on that July morning ...
Y'see, back in '99, I took my (then) daughter-in-law and two-year-old granddaughter to Chicago so we could witness Kaela's dad graduating from boot camp at Great Lakes Naval Air Station.

I said the trip started innocently enough: Since I hadn't been to Chicago since 1897, I thought it was safer to take the Greyhound™ bus. Nothin' to it: Buy tickets, load baggage, find seats, relax. Right??

Yeah ... uh-huh ... suuuuure ...

Since the night before had been a long and sleepless one, I dozed off just before the bus approached the Indianapolis station for one of its famed stops (long enough to get a drink, not long enough to use the bathroom). Suddenly, I heard Kaela's unmistakeable cry.

(Now, for this next part, PLEASE understand that I was groggy. Please?? Thank you ...)

So, still mostly asleep, I instinctively reached over, rubbed her arm and mumbled, "There now, honey ... grandpa's here! You're gonna be okay!"

Suddenly, I was hit by a wadded-up piece of paper, and my name was being whispered loudly but urgently: "Chuck! CHUCK!!"
I barely cracked open my eyes when I noticed Kaela ... sitting with her mother ... on the other side of the aisle!!

I went from a drowsy to "freshly-poured-ice-down-my-pants" look in .015 milliseconds. If Kae's up there with her, then who was ....??

As they (and a few other passengers) began laughing, I slowly, hesitantly glanced beside me.

Now, I dunno ... maybe the sailor was coming off leave or something ... but, fortunately, he was still asleep! Thank goodness. Maybe I was off the hook? Probably not, considering it wasn't his arm I was stroking (NONONO!! It wasn't, er, "that" ... it was his leg! His LEG!! ONLY his leg!! Geez ...)

And I was right. By the time we pulled into the Indy station and I started to g-e-n-t-l-y get up to retrieve K's diaper bag, he tapped me on my hand and slipped me a piece of paper with his phone number on it! (And, no, I didn't, so don't ask ... let me suffer in peace, willya??)

Finally, after pulling into the Windy City (I'd moved to another seat. By myself ...), we got off the bus and into a cab, heading for the Metra™ train station.
Now, for you who've been there, you know there are some revolving glass doors in front -- and Chicagoans move faster than the speed of light through those things ...

ummm, until I showed up.

Carrying all the bags so K's mum could focus on carrying her, I waited until just the right moment and finally jumped into a vacant door ... which was smaller than my load ...
and jammed the entire system!

Y'know, people look a mite funny when their faces are pressed against glass ...

Eventually, I got out ... just to see my daughter-in-law nearly bent over in laughter ... red-faced, but laughing at me (imagine ...)!!

On the escalator going up to the elevated train platform (remember, me: pack mule. Daughter-in-law: protective mum), one of K's shoes fell off. Gallant granddad to the rescue. I reach over to retrieve the shoe ... a couple of bags fell off my shoulder and sped down the escalator and ...

remember the old bowling alleys?? Well, replace the pins with humans, and ...

All I could do is run down ("down" an "up" escalator!), grab the bags, look around in embarrassment whilst trying to save my butt by mouthing "I'M FROM KENTUCKY!" and run back up the moving staircase while keeping my head bowed (at least that way they wouldn't see the foot in my mouth!)

On the train, the conductor would come back and announce each suburb on the route as we reached it. The first time, little K. looked confused. The second time he came back, she looked angry. The third time he came back to announce the suburb, she jumped into the aisle, put her hands on her hips and yelled out, "NO S--T!!"

We finally got to the train depot at GLNAS (no, that's not me in the pic. My hair didn't start turning grey until after this ...) and had to get over to the gym where the commencement was to be held.
But there was a problem: A wicked-looking barbed-wire fence separated us from the main area!

Natch, Mr. Braveheart took all those bags and negotiated the fence ... pulling barbs out of his torn shirt, wiping off a little sweat and blood with my hand. FINALLY ... I'd made it! I turned around ...
to see K and her mum standing in front of me ... and they were (do I haveta say this again??) laughing!!

Six feet from where I went through, the fence had stopped, allowing anyone (with any sense) to go around it ...

We finally got to the gymnasium and the ceremonies (and, I've gotta admit, when Tim marched in with the grads to Anchors Aweigh, I jumped up, tears flowing, and shouted. The guy behind me did finally apologise for burning my butt with his cigarette, though ...*).
After a fantastic July 4th weekend with him (and a great stay at the Great Lakes Navy Lodge), we took another stop in Chicago -- a very brief and cautious one (eyes watched ... and remembered) -- and headed home.

*(Alright, I've gotta 'fess up: The reason behind the tears and shouting was that I was proud of my boy. I'd raised him and his bro, Mike, by myself since they were pups, and to see him marching out there, so dedicated in his perfectly-pressed Navy whites, made me feel tower-tall ...)
But I wasn't done with Chi-Town ... yet:
A year later, whilst on the way to work with a client up in Canada (I took a non-sailored Greyhound™ this time), I stopped in the Windy City; since the next bus wasn't due for another eight hours or so, maybe I could make up for the mess I made last time.
Yeah ... right ...
I put my cigarette out in the ashcan as I turned around and headed for the terminal. With enough time on my hands, certainly there'd be enough time to take in one of the city's famous blues gigs.

Suddenly, people started running in and out of the station, yelling excitedly. I looked out and saw the unmistakable flickering of fire!
Apparently, somebody'd thrown a cigarette ... into ... the ... wrong can. One marked ... 'garbage'!
It was all just a simple mistake. I mean, any balding Kentuckian could've done it ... right??
Anyway, after viewing the resulting festivities ... er, from a distance, I thought it'd be a good time to exit the station right then (or, until the next bus came). So I checked my pockets and realised that ... I'd lost my ticket!!
No problem, really. Since I was sitting in the station when the flames started flickering, I just backtracked. There it was ... fifth seat from the right. I grabbed it, put it in my coat pocket, and took off.
"Hey!! HEY!!" The guy who was running after me had blood in his eyes: MINE!

"Who the hell do you think you ARE, man?? Gimme back my ticket NOW!!"
Judging from the way he was reaching for my coat lapel, I don't think he wanted it for warmth! But I obliged (either that, or this 6'4", 275-pounder was gonna make me "late" -- and I don't mean for the bus; it's what my friends would've called me ...)

"Look ..." I stammered to him (and the now-gathering crowd of mostly-roughnecks) as I pulled it outta my pocket. "I bought this ticket in Ashland, Kentucky, and I'm headin' for Canada. See?? It clearly shows I'm heading to ...

Boston, Massachusetts ...

So, as I was fumbling my apologies and handed it back to the man, another guy looked over and under the seats. "Here go one for ..." he checked it out ... "Calg'ry, Canada ... an' IT from Kentucky!" He handed it to his friend who grabbed my lapel, opened my coat and shoved it in the side pocket.

No, my friends ... I don't think Chicago, Illinois, will ever forget me. That's why I now have insurance ... and a good set of fake glasses-and-nose in the event fate lands me there again!
(DISCLAIMER: Don't get me wrong; I really love Chicago. The events that occurred in these posts actually happened, but does not reflect the city or its people ... most of whom I hope to see if I'm ever allowed back there ...)

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Our 60 Minutes Were Well Spent ...

Each week, he made at least 60 Minutes of our time a lot more bearable ...

When I read that Andy Rooney -- the sometimes-ascerbic-but-always-lovable commentator who capped off CBS' famed primetime news magazine -- died yesterday, it was with the feeling that we'd lost an anchor of this turbulent boat called American Common Sense.

Still, most of us saw it coming, not so much due to his age as the fact that he had finally retired from the daily grind he'd known for a half-century. You see, when a career that long comes to a halt and you're left little more than time on your hands, your body is going to react accordingly; it's used to the rigours of the workplace.

Rooney was a man who wasn't afraid to speak his mind -- a rarity, even in these days. And, when he spoke, people listened, whether he was on the TV screen or on the street. With a build akin to a bulldog, square face and bushy eyebrows, he could command attention from anyone (mostly because they'd be afraid to really let that "bulldog" loose ...).

And he could be humourous -- not a comedian, but someone who could find a bit of laughter in the ironies that surround politics or other news items. Yes, it was rare, but he could also deadpan as well as a Buster Keaton or Johnny Carson.

The big question has been, "Who will replace Andy?" and is asked even more since his passing.
The answer is obvious: No one.
Because, you see, some people are just flatly irreplaceable ...


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Friday, November 4, 2011

Stuff Happens ... Even To Me!

Yep ... it happens to the everybody at one time or another.

Lately, I've been bogged down with deadlines, another studio biting the dust, doctor visits -- even a wardrobe malfunction (actually, my pitbull-wannabe -- the daring Shih-Tzu pup Yoshi -- pulled out one of my shoestrings, but that "malfunction" line sounded more dramatic ...). Of course, there came Halloween, where a bunch of weird-looking little characters came knocking on the door (three trick-or-treaters and an Amway® salesman. Gave them all candy and sent them on their way ...).

Yep ... stuff does happen. But it's stuff you can certainly handle. As Uncle Lloyd would say, "After all, it is only 'stuff'! Just make sure your stuff -- the stuff that's inside you -- is stronger than that other stuff!"
With that in mind, I've swept up the leftovers and am ready to take the helm here again.

STAY TUNED Recently, I started pulling notes together for a book about LL's life -- highlighting, of course, the period from host of The Lloyd Thaxton Show to his stints with The Today Show, Fight Back! and the book Stuff Happens! Whilst it's still a long way off, just reading the notes, poring through the emails we sent each other, remembering phone calls and reviewing the DVDs made me realise just what a gem we really had during his time here. I mean, here was a man who touched not only every base in the world of media, but every heart that came to know him!
Incidentally, the first two words of the paragraph up there, as you know, was his "sign-off" at the end of his blog posts. And I'm thinking of using it as the main title to the book.
If anyone wants to help with this -- memories, pics, whatever -- just email me, okay? We can make this a joint effort -- a tribute from his fans and friends!

HE LET THE FINGERS DO THE TALKING  I rarely get to watch the tube like I used to (kiddies, "the tube" is an ancient description of an old contraption called "television".  It's a square looking piece of furniture with a glass front -- sort of like it was styled after your laptops monitor!  Ask your grandparents to demonstrate ...). 
But there was a lady on a local channel who said that, whenever she felt upset or down, she'd draw little "finger people" on her digits and then make them "perform" a comic rendition of a song she'd hear on the radio.  She said it's "guaranteed to break apart those blues you're feeling."
She said she'd gotten the idea as a child ... from ... a TV show her sister watched everyday after school!  There was a guy on there who would do the same thing! 
Er, ummm ... anybody we know, ma'am??
Ahhh, the finger people make the big time!

But WAIT!!  There's MORE!!! ...

A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY to Wally World about a week ago (actually, I was already in the store, but that subheading sounded good ...):

An older gent was looking at one of the "new" Tiger Beat™ mags (no, they're not the same. All glossies, glitz and glamour ... no solid stories or stars, IMHO) when I mentioned the Man who Made the Mag to start with.

The fellow looked at me and smiled a less-than-toothy grin. "Why, I remember him! Whatever happened to them little puppets he bounced around there? Looked like he had 'em on his fingers or somethin'. Did anybody keep 'em?"
Only in our hearts and memories, brother (yes, with a smile on my face and a bit of pride in my heart, I did explain!) ...


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