Thursday, December 31, 2009

Happy Gay New Year!

December 31, 1994

New Year’s Eve! I was single and would be ringing in the New Year with a friend of mine and a roommate. The party plans were vague, but looked strong on paper. We were to go to Santa Barbara, 70 miles up the coast, and party on State Street. Hop from bar to bar before finally settling into one to our liking for the midnight culmination. What our planning failed to take into consideration was the overabundant crowds and inability even to gain entrance to many bars and clubs.

We tried to get in to a few clubs but were unable due to overstuffing beyond allowable fire capacity. In addition to reservation-only arrangements, under which some clubs were operating on this very busy night, we were on the cusp of dejection. It was under this dark cloud we heard a large partying congregation down a side street. With our prospects already dim, we approached. Sure enough, New Year’s Eve revelers spilling out of a club! The place sounded great inside, like a great raging party. We paid our entrance fee and entered.

We were very pleased that our New Year’s rambunctious intent was not to be a lost cause. We victoriously walked to the bar and ordered up a round of drinks. The club was pretty cool, and also very large. The dance floor was off near the back of the club, the music was loud, and good. With hooch in hand we headed for the dance floor. It was here we realized the unexpected.

We’ve all been to a club where the only folks dancing might be a few ladies. Perhaps a group of three or so dancing with each other. This was not only the reverse, but to a whole new extreme. It was predominantly guys, by a generous ratio, and they were dancing with each other. This seemed odd to me. But it didn’t yet dawn on me until I was mentally able to wrap my brains around the way they were dancing with each other. Provacatively. The men were dancing close enough clearly disregarding the publicly acceptable bounds for one’s courtesy space. This was a club that catered to gay men! This was shocking for me to see. How frail I was.

My two teammates and I decided our options were few. If we left we’d be celebrating the New Year on the streets toasting with cups of hot chocolate or coffee. We stayed. They, my heterosexual male chum and female roommate, then decided to spend the bulk of the evening dancing closely amongst themselves. I was an awkward little boy in my mid 20s trying to lose myself in a crowd of gay men.

Later that evening there was the topless gentleman smoking a cigar who took a liking to me. I made polite responses to his advances, but he wouldn’t take a hint. I finally had to tell him I was straight. He was surprised and asked a few times to make certain. It later dawned on me his level of surprise. What was it about me that generated surprise that I might be heterosexual?

As the evening wound down toward midnight things got more daring including the fellow dancing on the bar in his underpants with another patron trying to pull them off.

That New Year’s Eve brought more excitement than I had hoped. We gayly entered 1995. It was with much relief I exited from the club.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Year-End Thoughts

NFL’s sudden death overtime > Major League Baseball’s extra innings.

Video games inspired by movies? No thank you.

I’m amidst Team Klem’s year-end investment review. Reallocate investment dollars and change funds as needed. Start the new year fresh and properly calibrated.

Gratuitous nudity. I take no offense.

Libraries. They're under appreciated.

YouTube. I can't remember how I got along without this thing.

The control panel on an airplane’s cockpit. Can a pilot really know what every knob, lever, switch, and gauge are for? Come on, really? Every one of them?

The television series, The Office, is a delight. I just completed streaming season 3 (I think there are 7 seasons now) off Netflix the other day. Good times, that program. Someday I’ll be current.

Never say . . .
a) “It goes without saying . . .” and then proceed to say it.
b) “Not to mention . . .” and then proceed to mention it.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. What’s he still doing with that nut?

This is a very busy time of year when it comes to eating sweets, cakes, cookies, and related holiday treats. There is sometimes a bountiful volume of such treats that is far more than can be safely consumed. This very topic has been discussed with several siblings. Despite valiant team efforts there have been some casualties as the gluttony peaks out and a few expiration dates set in. Too many fronts, not enough gullets, attrition takes it toll. I’ve been reduced to employing the freezer. I’m not ready to concede defeat, but I’ve gone to the freezer for several items to be reengaged in January. My hope is that a few weeks in the hole will help to balance the odds to a more manageable feat.


Saturday, December 26, 2009

Year-End Thoughts, politics

I can understand how people are unhappy with the inefficiency of the Health Care system, but how can people honestly think that government intervention will improve it? If you don’t like the level of inefficiency now, just wait until government ‘fixes’ it.

I can understand how people are unhappy with the price of Health Care services, but how can people honestly think that government intervention will improve it? As the saying goes, ‘If you think health care is expensive now, wait ‘til it’s free.’

The atomic weights of the elements on the Periodic Table are very precise. They were scientifically and mathematically determined with only a handful of atoms too volatile to get an exact weight. While estimated weights have been attained, consensus at no point came into play.

Consensus is not altogether a bad thing. Heck, I think it’s great. Especially for deciding whether the office holiday lunch should be at TGI Fridays or Chilis. Not a good method, however, at deciding whether or not global warming is upon us and caused by mankind.

I’ve made it clear that I don’t subscribe to the global warming clap trap. My two main gripes with it? (1) It’s consensus, we are told, that makes this silly talk ‘true’. That doesn’t sound very scientific. (2) The dangerous misallocation of resources it manipulates.
Example: A household has money set aside to put into their home. They’d like to do a home improvement project, plus the home needs a new roof as there were a few roof leaks during the last rainy season. There’s money enough for only one of the two, however. The household decides on the home improvement project instead of the needed new roof. Global warming is that luxury choice of the home improvement project at willful neglect of something else that is a dire need that could have been remedied, but will continue deteriorating.

How stubborn and silly are they, politicians? If the city / state / country are in such desperate financial problems, as many are at present, can the politicians really not see that ‘No new expenses’ and ‘No new social programs’ is a necessary start until cash flow gets heading in the correct direction?

Smoking. I don’t, although I’ve knocked back a number of stogies in my earlier years. My gripe with smoking? The litterbugging. Next time you’re stopped at a left turn signal going onto the freeway, look down at the curb of the island. A shameful mess of cigarette butts sit there in the street looking back.

I don’t subscribe to Sarah Palin’s spooky death panel talk in Obama’s health care scheme. But I’m perfectly OK setting up a death panel for litter bugs.

Insurance fraud and health care fraud add an estimated 25% to the cost of insurance. People found guilty of fraud should be assigned a date to face the death panels.

Frivolous law suits add significant expense to medical malpractice insurance costs. These costs are passed down to health care customers. My proposed solution? A plaintiff that is deemed by the judge to have brought a frivolous lawsuit to court be assigned a date to face the death panels.

Politics is dirty. It’s a shame that politicians so frequently revel in the filth.


Thursday, December 24, 2009

The School Christmas Program

Elementary school programs are a healthy source of amusement. It’s fun to see your child perform in conjunction with all their classmates, plus, naturally, you want your kid to do well. Can they remember what they’re supposed to do? And what they’re supposed to say or sing?

If it’s a big program, getting a good line of sight on your child can be a major frustration, unless they’re amongst the tiniest students in class at which point they’d be placed in the front. Then there is also the jostling and vying for position as parents try to video record or photo their kid.

My boy’s 3rd grade class recently had their Christmas program. Between him getting buried in the back row and my contesting with the heads in front of me, the view was OK, but not video worthy. I asked my boy afterward if he’d be willing to let me record him going solo . . . and ‘a capella’. He graciously consented.

Click here for Part I of the program.

Click here for Part II.

He did a good job. He’s a good boy. And many years into the future I’ll seek to embarrass him with this recording.

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas Boat Parade

Christmas parades. Once a person’s attained a certain age we’ve probably all had enough of parades, unless you change it up. How about a Christmas parade of decorated boats? This past weekend Team Klem saw just such a parade. Kind of fun.

We were novices at such an event and so had little idea as to the heavy draw a boat parade could bring. We allotted a single hour of drive time when two would have been more appropriate. But we won’t dwell on the unpleasantness of a long slow drive with two restless squabbling kids in the back seat. We were late, so available parking spaces were long ago extinguished by the time we arrived.

I dropped off Team Klem at the party destination and got back in the car to complete the quest for parking. I parked the car a mile away, wrote down the address and cross street where I parked, took off my shirt, and started jogging. Enjoy that amusing visual. Guy wearing jeans and belt with shirt and sweater in hand jogging down the street. What’s life if you can’t make a spectacle of yourself once in a while and laugh about it?

‘You stripped down why,’ you rightfully query. The event was nearly underway and I wanted not to miss it having endured already a rugged drive, so I decided to jog. I also hoped this shirtless precaution would minimize my outwardly sweaty cool-down upon arrival and before socializing would be engaged. Result: It helped but did not negate.

Once at the destination, good times. A small gathering of good friends, delicious grub, and cups of hot cocoa. We walked to the beach and watched the Christmas boats float by.

I’m no sailor, but it looked like chaos out on the water. Some boaters were clearly moving too fast while some boaters had no decorations at all and were trying to float in the middle of the waterway for a ‘front row’ viewing. This created a significant and dangerous logjam. For a while we stood at attention expecting to hear the cracking fiberglass of collision. To our surprise, only close calls.

[video removed by klem on 12/12/2012]

A peaceful and safe Christmas week to you.

Friday, December 18, 2009


What happens to the Klem household when the stabilizing influence of Wife Klem is absent on a lazy Saturday? I recently reviewed a few old video clips and came across visuals documenting this very circumstance. Maybe I should be embarrassed to share this, but I’m not. My Amusement-drive easily overpowers my Pride-drive.

‘So what happens,’ you prod. First, grooming of the kids and myself is quickly waived. My daughter’s hair, as seen here, irrefutably establishes that fact. Also, pajamas go the distance.

Last year our daughter took an amusing obsession toward Wall-E, the good-hearted robot in Disney’s animated Wall-E movie (2008). This particular Saturday morning in November 2008 the Boogie and I decided to do something about it, this obsession. She wanted to be like Wall-E. She then outlined an action plan how this could come to be.

[You can see that this video was recorded with the built-in camera. My daughter was very amused at seeing herself on the monitor as it recorded. Also, please pardon the image reversal, right-to-left. I know not how to amend it.]

[video removed by klem on 12/12/2012]

Having the outline neatly laid out we went to work taking scissors and yellow crayons to a large cardboard box.

[video removed by klem on 12/12/2012]

That secured me a brief 15 minutes of peace and quiet while she walked around being Wall-E and the boy finished the Mt. Rushmore art project on which he’d been working.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Things They Say

Parenting duties are occasionally a strain for any parental team. Balancing work, family responsibilities, school drop-offs and pick-ups, extra curricula activities and trying to find brief episodes of down time to rejuvenate a healthy disposition can be difficult to orchestrate. But it’s not all trials and tribulations. There are little bonuses that are mixed throughout these parenting calisthenics.

I’ve made mention of my boy’s early penchant for dinosaurs. His interest in the field of paleontology has seriously waned in recent years as Hot Wheels gained ground. But back in the day he’d like to play dinosaur. I’d be assigned the role of the meat eater and he explained that I’d have to chase him, the meat.

October 2004

“Catch me, Dad. Be a T-Rex,” requested my boy.

“What do I do when I catch you? Do I get to eat you,” I asked. This was followed by the adorable pause of a three year old thinking of how to safely navigate his dad’s dangerous misunderstanding.

“Chase Koobi,” he then suggested directing me to his dog, Kira. “Eat Koobi. She’s tasty,” encouraged the boy with an eye towards self-preservation.

Much laughter ensued on the strength of his witty remark and he was clearly pleased with himself. Then I chased him and ate him.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Klem’s Book of Observations, excerpt x

Sign observed outside a church: ‘Serve Jesus. It’s hell without him.’

Sign observed in Chicago: ‘Italian Ice, a Chicago original’. If that was so would it not be called ‘Chicago Ice’?

If I could have anything? A weed-free back yard.

Hearsay sucks.

Underrated: Extra thick milk shakes, though not so thick that a spoon is required thus rendering it a malt.


Friday, December 11, 2009


I’ve got this friend of mine, likes lemons, he does. We’ll call him Adornato. There is a specific variety of lemon he holds in high regard, the Meyer lemon. All others are simply lemons, descriptors are not required, nor deserved, as is the venerable Meyer.

It is the taste of the Meyer that outpaces its lesser behaved brethren. It’s sweeter, believed to be a cross between a lemon and a mandarin orange. One can tell the difference by the shape as Meyer lemons are more round.

The guy’s lemon consumption easily outdistances the per capita consumption for the typical U.S. resident. It is the beers, largely, that has caused his spike in lemon volume. Not that he has an imbibing problem, just that each imbibing incident requires a Meyer. It’s as if the lack of one made the other obsolete.

Realizing that his citrus related needs could cause a painful indentation on his family’s household expenditure he sought a long term solution. He bought and planted a Meyer lemon tree, then researched how best to trim and mold it to maximize the tree’s productivity. In the meantime, though, sufficient product would trail by a year or more while the thing took root and grows. This is where his initiative percolated up. When he told me of his next step, I found the telling very amusing. But to him, crucial. His implementation of the action plan would be the difference between success and continued retail grocery prices for the yellow fruit.

He had observed a Meyer lemon tree two blocks from his domicile, but it was inconveniently rooted in a fenced yard. The premises was occupied by a real estate office tenant, a small operation of five or so folks. He paid the office a visit one afternoon and requested an audience with the business owner. Audience was granted and Adornato explained the reason for his visit.

‘It’s not just a lemon tree you’ve got here, it’s a Meyer lemon tree,’ he confidently explained. ‘If you don’t mind, I’d like and appreciate very much the opportunity to pull some lemons off that tree (pointing to the tree out the window) as they ripen up.’

The business owner, having patiently heard him out, granted authorization. Was he just a nice guy, the business owner, for saying yes? Or maybe intimidated by a possible imbalance in a person who’d approach a business for access to their rented lemon tree. Either way, lack of initiative would have left those lemons as a distant coveted object. Instead, the tree was harvested multiple times. He’d enter through the rear gate, wave to the real estate personnel looking on from the safe confines of the office, pick the fruit, and place it in the sack. He even dropped by once to fertilize it.

I never did ask him how committed was his harvesting, but I can only hope he was going whole hog. I want the imagery of him hauling a ladder two blocks from home and climbing up in the tree rather than just casually pulling off what low-bearing fruit he could reach.

The real estate office has since moved. A new tenant exists. But another sales pitch for the Meyer lemon tree access is no longer needed. His on-site tree is now grown and bearing it’s favored fruit.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

A Word For the United Nations. Useless.

The United Nations is a bloated carcass of undulating rubbish not worthy of the high level of press coverage, pomp, and elitist sentiment that it and its members enjoy. But that’s just this guy’s opinion.

The United Nations is hosting a climate change forum in Copenhagen, Denmark. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change began Monday and is in progress through next week.

There’s been much embarrassment on the global warming/climate change front lately. There was the damning documents that were ‘leaked’ showing that data had been manipulated to support the global warming claims while stifling ‘troublesome’ data that countered its desired position. The correspondence shows that many of these scientists were fighting for a cause, rather than science and truth-seeking [click here for the story].

The U.N. is deep into supporting global warming / climate change. My gripe with this movement is that the focus is not in handling the sources and causes of the problem, such as China and India, because these developing countries have no interest in playing along. The target, instead, is the U.S. and western countries that have already taken measures over the years to clean and improve their society’s earth-friendly behavior. So the climate changers peddle their wares to those willing to drink deeply. This creates a major misallocation of resources away from actual problems into these unsubstantiated claims.

But my point in this missive is not to discuss the merits, or lack thereof, of climate change. It is how to revise the appropriate level of perceived worth unto the U.N. from its current undeserved elevation.

Certainly there are larger issues with which to fault the U.N.; its existence, the corruption, and the vaguely worded statements that make its every movement a farcical motion. But this is the issue at hand.

How to amend the U.N.’s undeserved stature? Punish the U.N. by having the U.S. drop out? No. My proposed fix is two-fold:

(1) Treat the United Nations as what it really is. Treat it like an elaborate Rotary Club. Everyone gets together periodically, socializes, slaps each other on the back, pretends to exchange some very important patter, and then adjourn with no expectation of follow through. You go there to mingle, not to get anything done. It’s a giant cocktail party. By realizing this and acknowledging this one can go about properly allaying one’s expectations.

(2) Much of the U.N.’s enhanced visibility is made possible by its New York address. New York is one of the most enormous media hubs in the world. Temper the headlines and photo ops by moving its U.S. locale to a Dakota; North or South, doesn’t matter. The U.N. is certainly not deserving of the headlines or press coverage it receives. Move it to one of the above noted and the future press sessions will likely be reduced to little more than newswire stories or 10-second sound bites collected by static-laden phone interviews. That would seem to be more fitting for an organization such as this that is rife with ethics related conflicts of interest, get-rich siphoning schemes, and a lack of putting any teeth into meaningful causes.

Thanks for hearing me out.

[The above noted essay intends no ill-sentiment or insult to Rotary Clubs or either Dakota.]

Friday, December 4, 2009

Den Jaevla Naboen

He’s of Norwegian descent, this friend of mine, Mr. At A Slower Pace. A viking heritage I have teased him over the years and he has proudly, chucklingly so, accepted it. Flaunted it, even.

A number of years ago he made a visit to the homeland of his people. He returned bearing a gift for his chum, me. A tee-shirt with foreign words, foreign words to me, not Norwegians, scrawled across the front, ‘Den Jaevla Naboen’. Neither of us knew the meaning of the words but much enjoyed saying the words aloud. I wore the shirt with much satisfaction and delight.

June 1994

I was en route to vacation with friends at a Mediterranean coastal destination and was aboard an international flight. The language capabilities of an international flight, one could assume, would be robust. It was amongst such a diverse crowd that I walked down the aisle in the airplane wearing the shirt emblazoned with ‘den jaevla naboen.’ Two folks, very possibly grandparenting sorts, flagged me down to chuckle at the verbiage.

“I’m busted, right,” I asked. By their effusive laughing and gesticulating I suspected that something was unintentionally amiss.

“Yeah, right,” said the old guy laughing, “Busted.”

His spouse spoke Swedish which has many similarities to Norwegian. If you’ll please pardon the vulgarities, it was explained to me that the shirt said, ‘f___ your neighbor.’

I was embarrassed. Following that trip I wore the foul language shirt only amongst my non-Norwegian speaking citizens.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Klem’s Corollaries on Life, excerpt iv

(31) Globes that spin are irresistible. Own one. And occasionally look at the data it holds.

(32) When the batteries of your smoke detector go out, don’t just take them out and forget it. Replace the batteries.

(33) Going on vacation? Turn off your house water lest you tempt a water loss from a leaking pipe or a burst laundry hose.

(34) Don’t use your teeth to open things (i.e., bag of chips or candy). Retain your dignity.

(35) It’s good to know your boundaries or limits. But it’s not OK to be content simply knowing them. Overcome and expand. [Note: please disregard if you are a jailbird currently holed up in the big house. Do not apply this corollary until post-release date.]

(36) ‘Be grateful for our good moods and graceful in our low moods.’ Richard Carlson in 'Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff'

(37) Do not breathe deeply when in close proximity to a dumpster.

(38) Less complaining and more doing.

(39) Don’t eat out of boredom.

(40) A person’s perspective of the world reveals more about that person than about the world.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Compiled Quotes, xii

“Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” Martin Luther King, civil rights leader [1929 - 1968]

“The temptation resisted is a true measure of character.”
Henri Charrière, convicted murderer and author [1906 - 1973] in his book Papillon. (note: incidentally, an awesome read)

“Cause for celebration is less significant than the quality of one’s indulgence.” forgotten

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The 1-900 Number, my introduction

I was watching football when an old memory came to me. My introduction to the 1-900 number.

I was in 8th grade and my interests were coming into focus. There was something on the other end of the line that I strongly desired, a little harmless fun. And going without it wasn’t doing anybody any good. No, I’m not talking about the sexy 900 numbers. I’m talking the football 900 number.


On any Sunday during the Fall when football games abound. Yet the scores were announced with a maddening infrequency. This was before the advent of the former ground-breaking 10-minute ticker where game scores were given every ten minutes during the Sunday football game broadcasts. But wait, the new 1-900 number had the NFL scores on Sunday and they were constantly updated. Call the number, listen to the recording and get scores. Then call back again soon for further updates.

Present day football watching comes with the opposite problem. Scores are almost too annoyingly updated constantly streaming across the bottom of the screen.

Too annoying versus too infrequent? I choose the too annoying constantly streaming. I try to avert my eyes, but this takes excruciating discipline. I sometimes fail myself, but I grant immediate forgiveness.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Eater’s Remorse

‘Buyer’s remorse’. It’s a term with which we’re all familiar. The buyer thought they liked it, bought it, and later conclude that they regret the purchase. Several times each year I am afflicted with eater’s remorse. Not that I regret having eaten something or how much, but rather that I did not eat enough of it. In the face of a prime opportunity for gluttonous consumption I regret not being able to eat more.

Example: Thanksgiving. First there is the giving of thanks. There is then the grand style feasting to serve as the culmination to top off the giving of thanks. Turkey, ham, potatoes, cranberry sauce, biscuits, stuffing, yams, corn, and abundant desserts.

As the eating commences I load my plate the first time. I feel already overwhelmed because there is so much deliciousness before me. A second generous serving is engaged and places me on the cusp of an uncomfortable engorging. Yet, I try valiantly to jam more tasty grub down my gullet but discomfort has set in necessitating that I stop. I’ve stretched out my belly to capacity and taken down as much as is possible. Couldn’t eat another bite, not even if it were wafer thin. And this is just dinner! Dessert is on the horizon and is bountiful. I will somehow find the courage to proceed, discomfort be damned.

Eater’s remorse sets in the day after the feasting. As stuffed as I had been I am beset with the illusion that I could have, and should have, feasted more the day before.

I diagnosed myself with eater’s remorse several years ago and discussed it with my eldest brother. He was amused, but cared enough to ask a few questions to better understand my affliction. I am currently aware of my mental state and I approach the ‘eating holidays’ with the appropriate frame of mind to temper the feelings of remorse that will soon be upon me.

I stand 5’11” and 160 lbs., plus two temporary pounds around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


I got robbed last night. Unauthorized personnel penetrated my vehicle and made off with less than $2 in change. I think I forgot to lock the car yesterday. There were no signs of forced entry.

November 25, 2009

I park my car in the driveway. This morning I found my glove box opened with contents spilled out onto the passenger seat, the console was open, and the driver’s side car door was ajar.

‘What gives,’ thought I. Then it donned on me. I got robbed! Oh, boy, that’s a creepy feeling. Somebody was in my car right where I’m sitting scouring around for something good to steal.

The thief took only a small plastic film canister which contains coins, parking tokens as I call them. I had probably less than $2 in coins. Nothing else was taken. They didn’t want the $8 sunglasses from Target. My cell phone charger and hands-free ear bud were also unmolested. If they’da popped the trunk they could have basked in the riches of a Thomas Guide map book, jumper cables, and my emergency gear - hiking shoes, sweatshirt, and a wind breaker ‘cause you never know.

Oh, well. Lock your doors.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Way to a Man’s Heart . . .

. . . is through his stomach. I remember hearing this as a youngster and thinking what rubbish. Yet I wonder presently if I have become an embodiment of this very statement.

As we approach Thanksgiving I’ve been thinking of things for which I’m thankful. After quickly rolling through the most important items such as family, friends, dogs, and video games, the subsequent items have made me face that remark from years back.

So I continued working through the mental list of thankful things and food dominated. Maybe I was hungry, but these items are worthy of my thanks: Wife Klem’s Apricot Scones, lasagna, mango salsa, and her crock pot creations. Omi’s lasagna, spaetzla, chili - I’m smitten by those carrots, and split pea soup. Mom Klem’s angel food cake, chili, pineapple-marshmallow-sweet potatoes [honest, pineapple and marshmallows are key ingredients on that dish and a single serving is insufficient to sate this fella], and the mashed potato dish with the crushed cereal on top - really, it’s got crushed Corn Flakes. Grandma Tedesco’s lasagna, gnocchi, and pineapple upside down cake. Grandpa Tedesco’s extra-hot pasta sauce of which he’d boasted many times, “I made it with dirty hands, extra flavor” [I’m pretty sure, and hopeful, that Gramps was just joking]. Opa’s world famous two layered vanilla over chocolate pudding - ‘world famous’, he declared, and my pleased taste buds made me hesitant to question its veracity. Grampa’s butterfly shrimp and egg muffins also hold a position of high standing. And, of course, the vegetarian ‘Jackie Pie’ - a real-life vegetarian entree, but not to be denigrated by the lack of animal flesh.

It appears that I have become the embodiment of the very slogan to which I formerly scoffed. Oh, yes, I’m also thankful for non-edibles such as football and YouTube footage of monkeys, but wait, there’s more food.

These are the general delectables that are not host-specific: sweet potato french fries, peanut brittle, marshmallows - exclude the seasonal pastel variety, fig Newtons, Captain Crunch with the Crunchberries despite the cereal’s ability to ruggedly tear up the roof of one’s mouth due to the harsh texture [the cereal’s worth the pain to endure a second bowl, but it makes a third bowl out of the question], Nestle Crunch ice cream in the carton - not the bars, those pink and white frosted circus cookies with the sprinkles, candy NECCO wafers - a head nod here to a certain Mr. At A Slower Pace, hot chocolate, hamburgers - no mayo, burritos, pizza pie - just don’t make it either cheese-only or anchovies [sorry Dad Klem about the anti-anchovy remark], black olives, and milkshakes.

Food, as it has become newly apparent to me, plays a larger role in my happiness as I have gotten older than I was ever previously aware. As I age will this longing for food become further pronounced? If so, I’ve got some very tasty years ahead of me. I’ll have to put ‘trousers with adjustable waist’ on my Christmas wish list and don them for special ‘eating’ holidays.

A peaceful Thanksgiving to all.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hot Wheels. My Guy Makes a Commercial.

I’ve made it abundantly clear on this blog that our guy’s a big Hot Wheeler. Supporting evidence takes the form of cars, tracks, and notebooks that contain drawings of own track designs.

When he builds, his Hot Wheels tracks often begin with modest ideas and plot plans. But like a government program, it quickly expands well beyond its intended design and constraints until its out of control and resources have been depleted. The growth ends only when he runs out of tracks or space. The spatial constraint often encompasses his entire room to the point where it’s not possible to walk from the door to his bed. An attempt to do so will render you the role of Godzilla to his Tokyo where you’re accidentally knocking down pieces of track that hang precariously on the edge of a chair or taped ever so loosely to a table or his dresser.

The creativity is to be encouraged, though the track typically deteriorates to a cleanup brouhaha after a week or so. The scuffle gets underway with Wife Klem or me suggesting that it’s time for him to put his tracks away and then him bellyaching saying that all his cars haven’t yet done the track.

His Hot Wheels interest ebbs and flows like a gentle tide with occasional flashes of supercharged focus. It is under these piqued conditions where he requests, “Dad, can we record my Hot Wheels commercial?”

[the stunt track]

[the 7-foot drop]

[the predecessor, the video that started it all]

His room is currently clean with no track occupying his room. This wide open floor space, however, is listed as day to day.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Year-End Goals and Checklists

As 2009 winds down, it’s time to make one last review of the year’s goals and checklists and try to get a few more items crossed off the list.

I’m well off pace in a few areas, but with a valiant final burst I can still check off a couple spots in the completion column. For example, another 1,600 push ups and 2,100 sit ups to go - sure it might be better to measure one’s physical fitness on a more balanced scale such as two hours per week or what have you, but I can’t stick to that kind of regiment what with getting distracted by parenting or work duties and vacations. So I pursue a specific number spread out over a year.

My completion column is not empty at present, though. I’ve already got ‘Know all the capital cities in the European continent’ occupying that column along with ‘Watch 3 Foreign movies.’

I present this photo of the back gate as an example of a final push:

I’ve spent a number of weekends this fall painting the trim in several areas along the roof line, a couple window frames, and, completed this last weekend, the back gate.

I’ll have to assess my final tally for 2009 as I look ahead to the goals and checklist I’ll set for 2010. A number of things are merely basic maintenance issues (i.e., drain the hot water heater for 15 minutes twice per year, review the 401K and reallocate as needed, get free credit report for myself and the kids to peruse for irregularities) to projects that I hope will not have to be revisited for many years after (i.e., paint the garage - I’ll fall short on this one in 2009 and will try again for 2010). Then there’s also the personal challenges (i.e., make 200 blog entries in 2009 - 19 to go, read 14 books - two more to go).

A pal of mine got me started on written goals several years ago. We’ll call him McGettigan the Elder. I started as a courtesy to him thinking maybe he needed another person to join in for moral support. We share quarterly progress reports. At this point, I’m hooked.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Klem’s Book of Observations, excerpt ix

Dogs. They’re like perpetual infants what with their stuffed dolls and squeaky toys.

‘Expect the unexpected’. Such meaningless blather is to be ridiculed.

Note to gum chewers: Close your mouth.

Vegetarian chili. What’s the use? Why not just eat salsa or beans? This vegetarian concoction is not chili.

I prefer snails to slugs. Easier to pick up and hurl.

Saturday, November 14, 2009


I’ve probably mentioned already the Team Klem snack and video proceedings for the kids before bed. The choice of video alternates with our daughter choosing Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and the boy taking Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday with Sunday available as my wild card.

Both kids have recently taken a striking interest in Coraline, an animated film from 2009. My daughter really enjoys a certain short scene where the ‘button-eyed-father’ sings to Coraline. The song is admittedly very catchy and my girl is rather smitten with it.

Seeing as you can find anything on YouTube, I looked for this one scene. I found it and then played it for my daughter. The following video documents what ensued:

I could watch that thing all day what with my giddy chuckling Boogie laughing and singing along!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

The U.S. Air Drink Recovery Program

How sweet a gift is retribution? A retribution that aims to make right a preceding wrong? That would depend on how purposefully the wrong had been issued. This is my tale.

December 1994

A friend and I were en route to vacation. [We’ll call him McGettigan the Younger.] We were tired and the time of the flight’s departure was late into the night. Once in our seats we slept with uncanny determination as evidenced by the screaming child at lift off that could not prevent the slumber from taking place. Unfortunately, we lapsed out before the beverage service and meal. Hours passed. I awakened feeling famished and parched.

“May I have a Coke and one for my friend, please,” I asked the stewardess.

“We’re about to land,” was the curt retort issued with a smile.

I thought it was just jokes. I smiled and awaited the soda. But we were denied and landed absent of drink or snack.

One Week Later

My chum and I returned to the airport for the homebound trip. This refreshed our bitter sentiments surrounding the drink and snack denial from the front end of our sojourn.

We recounted our miserly tale to our new stewardesses. They were rightfully horrified by what they heard and offered unlimited beverages for the flight trying to undo the damage disseminated by their harsh colleague. It was under these favorable circumstances the U.S. Air Drink Recovery Program was off to a bountiful start.

Charged with that top notch support we both imbibed pull after pull failing to consider that our innards may have a limit as to how much juice and soda could be safely processed in a short time span. We were blindly buoyed by this commitment to remedial action and were helpless to stop ourselves. Like goldfish eating until their insides capitulate, we drank more.

It was well shy of our destination when it became clear that our plan had backfired. Our digestive systems had become significantly honked up. It became difficult to sit still. We needed relief. Sadly, very sadly, the seat belt sign was illuminated well prior to descent and the powder room had to wait until the airport.

We easily made up for the beverage denial from the initial leg of the trip, but personal agony was the counterweight.

The U.S. Air Drink Recovery Program. Success? Let the record reflect, it didn’t feel like it.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Compiled Quotes, xi

“Being master of one’s moods is the privilege of the larger animals.” Albert Camus [Algerian-French author, 1913 - 1960] in his book The Fall

“Restlessness is a sign you’re hungry for meaning in your life.” forgotten

“Joe, you’ve never heard such cheering,” Joe DiMaggio’s then wife, Marilyn Monroe, told him in 1954 returning from entertaining troops overseas. “Yes,” said Joe, “I have.”

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Esquire Magazine Fiction Writing Contest

Esquire magazine had a fiction writing contest this past August. The rules were few:

-Choose from three titles:
An Insurrection
Never, Ever Bring This Up Again
-Entry can be no more than 4,000 words
-Entries were due Aug. 1, 2009

I entered the imbroglio, but didn’t win. My non-victorious entry follows. I apologize in advance to Mom Klem for the upcoming offending language and one risqué scene:

An Insurrection
by Klem

“You jackasses aren’t gonna believe who I saw today,” exclaimed Woodward enthusiastically upon entering the apartment without knocking.

Two disheveled jackasses in their mid-30s donning dirty shorts and undershirts sat on separate couches watching TV, reruns of old game shows from the ‘70s. They were roommates. Neither was proud of it.

“Who you calling jackasses,” replied Cassidy not looking up from the television.

“You bastards. I’m calling you bastards jackasses, bastards. I saw Emmett,” continued Woodward losing some of his initial zest.

“Emmett?! From high school?! Where were you? Prison,” asked Cassidy.

“No! Not prison. Why’d you say such a thing,” said Woodward with a disgusted look on his face.

“Seemed he had a high incidence of theft,” added Cassidy still not looking away from the TV.

“Thefts? Emmett? What’re you talking about,” said Woodward irritably.

“The liquor store,” Mondo chimed in.

“The liquor store from over a decade ago? He didn’t get the correct change. He got upset,” defended Woodward.

“He bought Tic-Tacs, was short changed a nickel, so he grabbed the hot dog rotisserie machine off the counter, including dogs, and ran,” Cassidy recounted calmly.

“He didn’t get the Tic-Tacs, though,” said Woodward as if that negated the act from constituting theft.

“What about the hot dog cart,” added Mondo.

“Come on, you bring that up from high school? That thing during summer break? He was really hungry. You remember his appetite,” said Woodward trying to stick up for his buddy.

“The whole cart, though,” was Cassidy’s retort unswayed by Woodward’s feeble defense.

“Will you guys stop? Something happened to him,” said Woodward in a more serious tone hoping to get back on topic.

“What’d you mean,” asked Cassidy looking at Woodward for the first time.

“I saw him at the grocery store,” replied Woodward taking a seat on Mondo’s sagging couch staring at him so he’d sit up and move over.

“What’d he have to say,” Cassidy asked.

“What was he stealing,” Mondo wondered out loud.

“He wasn’t stealing anything,” blurted a near exasperated Woodward. “I didn’t talk to him. He just had this great big man-purse over his shoulder. I was too horrified to approach.”

“Man-purse? You mean like a purse? Or was it a grocery bag? He was in a grocery store, right,” asked Cassidy in an effort to clarify the foggy picture Woodward was painting.

“I didn’t ask him about the contents. I didn’t want to embarrass him. A buddy sees you with a purse, you want him to nail you for it and ask a battery of awkward questions? Wouldn’t you rather he ignore you like the whole thing, including the man-purse, never happened,” asserted Woodward.

“Man purse? Sure it’s not a diaper bag? Didn’t your cousin say he’s got two small kids,” asked Mondo.

“Call it what you want, if you saw him you’d say ‘Look at that guy with the man-purse.’ I’m telling you, he’s fallen a long way from the stud we knew years ago. Remember that football game in high school where he practically single-handedly beat the San Dimas Wild Stallions? He was a ferocious beast, Emmett. It was beautiful,” regaled Woodward losing himself momentarily in the past glory of his friend.

“It’s true. He was a beast,” uttered Mondo trying to contribute.

“How about that rock concert years ago. There was a fight in the mosh pit, naturally he was at the center of it. He emerged triumphant, climbed on stage, and then dove back down into the pit! A maniac, that guy,” said Cassidy smiling in pride for his buddy.

- - -

A month went by with no further mention of Emmett, until a lazy Saturday afternoon. The three guys visited the local department store. Each held a single item with intent to purchase. Mondo was holding a package of shoe sole inserts to help beat back that troublesome malodorous emanation. He was unaware that the smell was actually coming from his mouth resulting from his sub par dental hygiene. Cassidy had a new toothbrush. Mondo had scrubbed his old toothbrush in the toilet after an argument over whose turn it was to do the dishes. Woodward carried a six pack of beer. He had substituted a cheaper sticker price forgetting that it’s the UPC code that the scanner would read, there would be no manual entry.

The three guys were looking at Hot Wheels; they never entirely outgrew their interest, though Woodward stubbornly held fast to his preference for the Matchbox brand.

From down the aisle came a guy with a man-purse over his shoulder. He had a double stroller with two adorable moppets, a boy and a girl, and was accompanied by a beautiful woman. They looked happy and content. The three fellas, a fine contrast, looked slovenly and in need of a thorough scrubbing.

“See anything good, you punks,” Emmett asked also approaching the Hot Wheels rack. He was smiling and sincerely happy to see his buddies after a gap of at least five years.

“Yes, a dude with a man-purse,” said Woodward pointing at Emmett’s shoulder.

“Diaper bag. These two are real factories in that regard,” advised Emmett tossing a thumb at the stroller.

“You still Hot Wheeling, too,” asked Woodward too energetically.

“No, but I sometimes look when we come here. I give them to my two year old,” replied Emmett.

“Oh,” said Woodward dejectedly having to face the thinly veiled charade that, while appearing a full grown man, he remained but a child.

“Hey, I want you to meet my wife, Kira,” introduced Emmett. “Honey, this is Woodward, Cassidy, and Mondo. We hung out together back in high school.”

Kira, almost overjoyed at actually meeting friends of Emmett took to the three goofballs and looked past their obvious deficiencies. Her husband had many acquaintances and people with whom he was friendly when they crossed paths in town, but he was largely a lone ranger. His social schedule was almost bare beyond family outings. He seemed to take on the perspective that extracurricular socializing wasn’t a matter of overstepping his reach, it was just that it was an inconvenience. She knew this chance passing would not come to anything unless she took action. The boys had been speaking for a few minutes and it was winding down.

“Hey, why don’t you guys come over tomorrow. You can play bocce ball in the back yard or watch football. I’ll make a few sandwiches and watch the kids,” she offered.

“What do you say, fellas? We’ll have cheese puffs on hand,” Emmett said picking up a bag from the back of the stroller and waving it.

- - -

It was early Sunday afternoon. The football game was just underway on the television when the doorbell rang.

“Hi, guys. It’s nice to see you again,” said Kira in fine spirits. “Emmett’ll be out in a minute. He’s changing both diapers. A simultaneous double whammy.”

“So, you’re friends from high school,” making conversation.

“Oh, yeah, we chummed around quite a lot,” confirmed Cassidy while Mondo nodded affirmative.

“We played on the high school football and baseball teams. You know, Emmett used to be quite the athlete. Usually the best player on the team,” continued Woodward.

“Usually, the best on the field,” Cassidy upgraded without embellishing.

“Well, you can see it’s just the four of us. He’s never really had many friends over or done anything with other guy friends. He did have a softball team through work several years ago, but he stopped playing after our son was born,” said Kira. “He never goes out. I thought it was flattering when we first started dating. I never had to compete with anyone to get his time. But I’d like him to go out once in a while. I don’t want him to think he can’t go out because he feels I expect him home all the time.”

“Not compete for his time? We did. Looks like we’re face to face with the reason we lost,” mentioned Cassidy graciously acknowledging the victor in that battle. “Justifiably so, I must say.”

“How old are these things,” asked Mondo pointing at a picture of their children hanging on the wall.

“Our son is almost two years and our daughter is six months. He’s so good with them, Em. Do any of you have children,” Kira asked.

“No biological children, but we kind of look out for Mondo,” answered Woodward not aware of how silly this sounded.

“Hey, how’d you and Emmett meet,” asked Cassidy.

“The batting cages. I was in the fast pitch softball cage and he was in the fast-pitch baseball cage,” explained Kira shyly.

“Batting cages,” Woodward asked quizzically.

“I played softball in college. We were pretty good, went to the College Softball World Series tournament two years in a row. Anyway, we had a game and played poorly. It was embarrassing. I mean we couldn’t hit anything. After the game me and five other girls decided to hit the cages. It was a post game cleansing routine. Well, during the game I slid into second base to break up a double play. Ripped my pants. So, we’re hitting at the cages after the game and you could see my underwear through the rip. He walked by and said, ‘Nice swinging, pink lilies,’ referring to the lilies visible through the rip. I was surprised he knew the name of the flowers,” smiling as she recalled the episode. “They were lilies. He really got my attention. Anyway, I countered with ‘You think you got game, elbow guard,’” visibly pleased with the recounting of her retort.

“He had the elbow guard going back to high school,” remembered Cassidy.

“He asked me out that night. We still go to the cages on our anniversary,” she said.

“It sure would be good to get him out of the house once in a while. Heck, if you can get him out I’ll even buy the first two rounds of beer,” she offered.

Emmett emerged just then from the hallway with a child in each arm. After the handoff to Kira, bocce was engaged.

Emmett dominated as they all expected, even Mondo. He excelled at everything, it didn’t matter what the challenge. Basketball, chess, Gnip-Gnop, or hangman. He was a fierce competitor and usually found a successful strategy whether it was his natural ability or his opponents lack thereof. In face to face competition he was tough to equal.

At one point Mondo managed to cut his finger with a bocce ball.

“Mondo, what the hell did you do? You’re holding round balls. How’d you cut yourself,” Woodward pressed.

Nobody saw what he did to get cut and Mondo was virtually blank in trying to explain what happened. Emmett went into the house and returned presenting a choice of two bandages.

“You prefer a Hello Kitty or a Hot Wheels Band-Aid,” Emmett asked him.

“Come on, you got no real Band-Aids,” yakked Woodward mocking him.

“We haven’t had regular Band-Aids since the first baby was born,” Emmett advised.

Mondo grabbed the Hello Kitty but Woodward quickly slapped it away. Cassidy opened the Hot Wheels bandage and applied it to Mondo’s finger. First Aid concluded, they went inside and ate sandwiches in front of the TV.

“Hey, Emmett, may I please have a glass of milk,” asked Mondo politely.

“Help yourself. It’s in the refrigerator door,” Emmett authorized.

“No glass for you, remember? Use a plastic cup,” advised Woodward curtly looking at him with raised eye brows.

He found the milk, but it was beyond the expiration by two days. Mondo abided strictly by these dates on account of a bum experience as a child. It was suspected that expired milk adversely affected him on that fateful day resulting in an embarrassing public self guano incident that only Woodward continued to bring up, and reveled in so doing. He reached for an 8-oz. milk box, chocolate, and then saw the stash of juice boxes. Picked one and rejoined the living room.

“A juice box. Look at this guy. Nice find, Mondo,” said Cassidy with a playful lilt in his voice.

“What happened to your milk hankering,” Woodward asked suspiciously.

“It expired, the milk carton. Then I saw the small milk boxes, but I didn’t want to take one of them. I figured Em’s kids probably drink those,” said Mondo explaining his thought process.

“Who do you think drinks the juice boxes,” Woodward asked pointedly.

“Guys, Mondo’s cool. Actually, Kira and I often deploy the juice boxes for mixing drinks. We don’t always have a lot of large juice containers. We just don’t drink it that often. But those individual servings will last for months. Probably a year or more, even,” asserted Emmett.

The afternoon passed. The football game concluded and the previously flaunted bag of cheese puffs were zeroed out. The three boys set a follow up play date and said goodbye.

- - -

They returned to Cassidy and Mondo’s as they did most evenings. Woodward still lived at home and his weekday routine had him wolfing down supper with his parents before excusing himself to his friends’.

“Poor, Emmett. He’s a broken man! He’s totally defeated,” blathered Woodward getting himself riled up. He lived under the illusion that he lived a life that other men envied, Emmett included. In his own mind he was a man to emulate.

“He looked pretty happy to me,” Cassidy countered.

“He’s changed. Really. He uses his kids’ juice boxes to mix drinks,” continued Woodward irately. “Instead of measuring out drinks by tablespoons, ounces, jiggers, or shots, he now mixes by number of juice boxes.”

“Sounds like logical reasoning,” replied Cassidy again defending his friend.

“Logical reasoning? A grown man using Hot Wheels and Hello Kitty Band-Aids,” said Woodward upgrading his complaint.

“Dude, you have a problem with Hot Wheels Band-Aids? Meanwhile your entire Hot Wheels collection remains intact after age appropriateness is 20 years past,” challenged Cassidy. “Besides, he’s got kids, man. One can reasonably justify they’re for his kids. What’s your excuse?”

“We must break him out of this fettered domestication. He’s locked in like he knows no better,” continued Woodward not having any of what Cassidy was pushing.

“What do you mean break him out? Like an insurrection,” Mondo blurted.

They both looked at Mondo, but he’d already turned away not paying attention.

“An insurrection. Yes, good. Impressive range, Mondo,” answered Woodward surprised at the use of his pal’s fancy word. “You accidentally been watching the History Channel again?”

“What do you mean an insurrection? From who,” asked Mondo having already forgotten that it was his idea.

“From whom,” schooled Cassidy.

“OK. From whom? His family,” pursued a confused Mondo.

“Hey, look smart guy,” announced Woodward to Cassidy with an air of self importance. “We’re fighting for our buddy here. Let’s find a way to save Emmett. You can play smart guy with someone else. So an insurrection’s been proposed.”

“But his wife wants us to take him out. Heck, she’s offered to buy the beer if we just take him out. Doesn’t seem like a revolt to me,” Cassidy retorted.

“Stop clowning around you two. I’d like to find a way to save our friend. Can you do this with me,” asked Woodward. “OK, so his wife offered to buy beers. Good. There’s our seed money for the movement.”

- - -

After much bickering, the boys convinced Emmett, guilt-tripped, more accurately, into entering the dark confines of the exotic dance club. Emmett was a decent man, but not impeccable. They ordered their draft beers, the first of their two minimum drink purchase as required with entry fee, approached the main dance floor, and spied several available seats. Three ladies were sharing center stage with two smaller stages along the perimeter at the back of the club, each smaller stage hosting a single dancer. Woodward, Cassidy, and Mondo, mouths slightly agape, head tilted slightly aloft to view the dancers at their performance elevation. Each man reaching for his wallet in a non-thinking action. With a stack of singles pre-folded they set the bills at the edge of the stage resembling small green pyramids when viewed from the side. These three were lost in their debaucherous desires as the commendably physiqued fancy nubiles shook their junk on stage. To the credit of the boys, they were not yet drooling on themselves.

Emmett, though, kept himself together. There was no ogling. He had not given himself up to the vile environment in which he was relegated. The dancers were not the focus of his attention. He had not descended to the existence of non-thinking inanimate objects, as had his chums. He sipped his draft beer. It didn’t matter what brand. His enemy here was time, the sipping of a beer would be his prop in accomplishing this task. Burn off those few hours that must be killed so that he may retire back to his homestead and his people. But first, he must endure.

As the three full grown delinquents turned themselves over to this voluntary debasing, Emmett fell prey to his own. Over the robust ambient cacophonous racket that passed for music, he heard, so he thought, a faint noise indicating a delight beyond his expectations.

He parted from the three without a word or gesture and went in hunt. He walked in the direction of one of the smaller stages and passed without so much as a courtesy glance at the sweaty undulating body wearing little more than body glitter. It would be through the doorway dead ahead if his instincts were correct, instincts that had been honed over very many hours from the incessant video gaming of his youth. He stepped in. Bliss. Video games. Full standing cabinet arcade style games. Vintage games. Classics. He felt like a teenager again. The exhilaration. He could feel the forthcoming action in his fingers from so many hours of playing, training, those years ago. Five games, one stool, no other patrons. Like his pals reaching for their folded singles, he reached for a stash of quarters in a pocket of his wallet. Setting his beer down and moving the stool into position, he got things underway.

- - -

Two hours passed. One by one they all went broke. Mondo was first as he accidentally tossed out a few tens on stage while lost in his trance. Cassidy, taking an avuncular approach to Mondo, kept him in the game by floating him a few singles and another beer. Woodward, lost to the world, couldn’t hardly tear his eyeballs away. And when he did, the adjustment to darkness after staring at center stage caused a nearly painful squint. The three of them sitting up front with no money left. That lasted almost two minutes before a bouncer forcibly asked them to vacate the seats so that paying customers may occupy them. They stood up without complaint and moved into the shadows away from the lights of center stage. They noticed now for the first time that Emmett was absent.

When they found him, he was a sweaty mess. His shirt soaked through and his hair matted down on the sides and back with wetness. He was still gaming and had been doing so nonstop, taking only short breaks to move the stool from one game to the next. His beer was sitting on top of the Galaxian arcade game where he’s set it down over two hours ago. Mondo, without asking, grabbed it, drank it with relish, and put it back where he got it.

“Emmett, have you been in here the whole time,” asked Woodward almost sympathetically.

“Not now, I’ve almost got the high score in Joust,” exclaimed Emmett lightly agitated at the distraction. He wasn’t angry, just laden with adrenaline.

“Look at this. He’s got all the high scores,” announced Cassidy, pleased with his friend’s skillful craft.

“Dude, give it a rest. You’re getting all worked up,” said an irritated Woodward.

“You’re one to talk. You were pretty worked up watching the dancers,” responded Cassidy keeping Woodward from unduly elevating himself.

The video game ended. Emmett entered hs initials. Another high score. He grabbed his empty pint glass and walked away with no words. The four made for the exit and he placed his glass on the end of the bar without breaking stride.

- - -

They drove to Emmett’s, nearly silent except for the radio. With the motor idling Emmett exited the vehicle.

“Thanks for the time, guys,” Emmett offered. With a wave to the three in the car he walked to the front door and reached for his key. The three yelled their final denigrating remarks.

They drove away in silence for a few blocks. Pals, they were, and would continue to be for years. But socially it was over. There would be very little intersecting, if at all, from this point forward. They shared a common beginning, but are different today. They all knew it, even Mondo.

“He’s damaged goods. He can’t be fixed,” Woodward said seeing that Emmett was beyond them now.

“He can be fixed. Wasn’t he vasectomized last year,” Mondo said proud of his clever comment.

“That’s not what I meant,” Woodward said wrestling with the realization that it was not Emmett who was the damaged goods. They were perpetual adolescents with such trademark maneuvers as short changing the part-time fast food cashier with a flurry of questions while they were counting change or trying to tilt a vending machine looking to score free junk food.

Emmett was lost to them. Yet he was happy. Somehow whole. The three had extended their best effort, and were defeated. Emmett had seemingly evolved, while the three remained in flux. There would be no successful intervention. Nor an insurrection.


The winner, if you’d like to give it a whiff, can be read by clicking here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"Wake Time!"

I don’t know about you, but when I wake up in the morning I could easily lie about in bed for an extra few minutes slowly joining the day. No need to immediately bounce out of bed and commence the day with a flurry of activity just because the sun has poked up above the horizon shining its inviting glow outside the bedroom window. Children, however, seem to have no gray area in this regard. They’re either awake or asleep.


When our boy was three years old he’d wake up with the sun and, because he was awake, expect the same of his fellow residents.

The boy would consistently wake up at or around 6:00 am and announced his awakened state in this manner. Standing in his crib yelling, “Wake time! Wake time!”

Wife Klem and I advised him a number of times, ‘It’s OK if mommy and daddy sleep. You can play with your dinosaurs or read your books. There’s no need to wake us up too.’

He eventually got it and stopped yelling out to announce the beginning of each new day. I regret, however, not recording the audio of his morning wake up calls. Especially when he banged on the wall with his hand for added effect while issuing his ‘Wake time’ shout out.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Things They Say

Kids say the silliest things. Sure, sometimes they’re just talking nonsense, but it’s a treat when the nonsensical remark is an unintended treasure.

July 2007

Team Klem was in an airport waiting to catch our flight at the front end of vacation. I was reading a magazine when an advertisement with a bicyclist and a bull caught my eye. I showed the advertisement to my daughter, three years old then, and asked her if she was faster than the bull. Confused possibly with my line of questioning, she said that she’d ride the bike. I countered that she didn’t know yet how to ride but would she be faster than a bull if she rode her scooter.

She paused as if trying to grasp what daddy was asking her, then responded “[her big brother’s name] a mammal.”

“Yes, he is a mammal, you smart girl,” I said overjoyed at the creative response and hoped that additional gems would flow. But she cooly remained silent after that and returned to her coloring book seemingly content with her conversational contribution.

She must’ve been stumped by the question, but I prefer her answer to one I could have anticipated. ‘Mammal,’ I thought to myself. Possibly a byproduct of a Discovery channel program?

Monday, November 2, 2009

Daylight Savings. A Sneaky Move.

Daylight savings. Certainly we can discuss its origin and whether or not it remains applicable to today’s society. But instead, I’d like to show off how Wife Klem and I used it to our advantage.

Sunday night

8:00 is bed time for our kids. At this time they’re sent scampering upstairs to bed for their toileteering, reading, and tucking them in. Now then, what did we do when the daylight savings clock shows 6:30 pm, but the kids’ internal clocks were still locked in at 7:30 pm? We took advantage of clocking differences and sent them to bed early, did Wife Klem and I.

Sunday evening we started snack and a video at 6:30 and got them upstairs by 7:00 pm instead of the normal 8:00! Yes, put them down an hour early and gained ourselves an extra hour of free time. The kids were none the wiser.

What's the worst that could happen, we thought? They’ll get up an hour early in the morning. No biggie, heck tomorrow’s a school day. Success again was ours! They both got up early and came down for breakfast without us having to negotiate them out of bed.

Daylight savings. Is it necessary in today’s day and age? Probably not. Can it still be wielded effectively for someone’s advantage? Yes, as evidenced above.

Friday, October 30, 2009


I went to college at UC Santa Barbara in the late ‘80s. Great community for a youngster to experience a few years of growth, education, and play. With a large number of students living in such relatively close confines there’s ample opportunity for playful interaction, partying, ridiculous behavior, and hooch - legal and illicit. Going to class, studying, and taking exams are also sprinkled in to round out a well balanced college experience. This young populace was a key factor in a well known UCSB tradition. Halloween.

The street along the cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Isla Vista, the neighboring residential community immediately adjacent to the UCSB campus, is Del Playa, or known by locals as DP. There are apartments and rental homes lining both sides of the street.

On Halloween thousands of visitors descend upon Isla Vista (IV) for a vigorous round of this fabled Halloween partying. In my years as a UCSB student one was not allowed to drive their car into IV unless they had a letter addressed indicating an IV mailing address that matched their ID. This was done because it is a tiny community that is quickly congested with cars and people creating a sickly logjam if everyone who wanted to drive in for Halloween were allowed to do so.

Once all the Halloween party goers have assembled they commence with the drinking too much and otherwise inebriating themselves. As the darkness of night sets in so does a comfortable level of bravado as the youngsters don their Halloween costumes and walk along DP looking for more hooch and parties. So crowded is the street of Del Playa for a mile that you can’t walk without first considering the people in front of you and on all sides. Really, shoulder to shoulder pedestrian traffic. And let’s face it, tempers sometimes flare when drunks from different groupings commingle in passing.

I was witness on one very special Halloween galavandering to unusual and amusing fighting words. One guy, dressed as Gumby - a popular claymation character from the ‘60s and ‘70s - had apparently offended a fellow partier of another group.

“I’m gonna kick your ass, Gumby,” loudly blathered the offended one. After the laughter died down from those within ear shot there was no actual no fisticuffs.

Halloween at UCSB. Fun times. Happy I don't live like that anymore.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

THE Vending Machine

It was a machine well beyond any reality that I could comprehend. 30 years I had lived to that point and such a mechanical device I had not imagined. Perhaps it was the culture within which I had been raised. Issues of legality would make the device difficult to wield. But let the record reflect that it exists. I saw it.

August 1996

I was vacationing with friends in Barcelona, Spain. A night of drinking Spanish hooch was safely winding down despite having engaged inebriation. The hour was late and we had walked back to our hotel. We were standing out front when we saw it.

A vending machine in the lobby of the neighboring hotel caught our eye due to its unique merchandise. The oddity was not immediately distinguished, yet something about it caught our attention. We locked visuals on this machine and approached. It was a mere ten feet away behind the locked glass lobby door. The lobby was well illuminated with the machine occupying a focal point as if mocking us with its cool majestic indifference. From this vantage point our observations were digested. A beer vending machine!

Yes, you enter your peseta [‘peseta’ as this is pre-euro] into the slot and remove a cool bottle of beer . . . if it were not for the unfortunate locking mechanism keeping us apart from this product of impeccable ingenuity. We were not drunk, though certainly not in need of more beer. Heck, we were just going to go upstairs and be asleep soon. But this machine beckoned with its offerings of golden suds.

A security guard sat in the lobby shaking his head ‘no’ indicating that we were to be denied the pleasure of this desired commercial transaction. This guard, I thought later, was he guarding the hotel lobby or the vending machine? Guarding it from any harm that might be issued from such fingers as my own tainted by their desirous hankerings? Either way, this control he steadfastly declined to compromise. Even when we offered to buy him a beer for allowing access. Damn his gumption!

A beer vending machine. It exists. I saw it. It’s in Spain.

Monday, October 26, 2009

First Steps

Infants are curious beasts. You never know for sure what they’re thinking or what they’re gonna do.

June 2001

My son took his first steps at exactly one year old. I got home from work and Wife Klem was in an especially good mood.

“Come here,” she said with a large smile as I entered the house. “Your boy has something to show you.”

With help from Pretty Mommy the boy rose to his feet. With one hand on the hall wall to maintain his balance he took a step and started to laugh. He took another step and continued laughing. [Laughing why? Happy with his newly gained altitude? Walking’s more funny than crawling? Just pleased himself maybe.] He walked down the hall. As he walked by me I thought two things: (1) Wow, he’s walking well, and (2) Where’s he going?

He turned the corner into the office, still laughing. I followed him in and saw that he was walking toward his dog’s toy bin. He approached, looked in, and started tossing the dog’s toys out onto the floor.

The guy finally attains some degree of walking ability, substantially upgrading his mobility, and that’s what was on his mind? The dog’s toy bin? Silly animal. But he’s our silly animal.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Klem’s Book of Observations, excerpt viii

‘How does it feel to be a wage slave?’ asked the sign I saw overhanging a freeway while driving in the course of work. Rewarding, I say, to be able to provide for my family.

I’m glad that cockroaches don’t have teeth.

Overrated: Food described in terms of its visual presentation rather than taste.

Reenactments are asinine. A poorly outfitted reenactor moving about on artificially grainy film is poor viewing. Tell the story, show a photograph or depiction of the character in question, and move on.

If given the choice, I’d rather have ESPN than ESP.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

My First Memory

What is my earliest memory, I got to thinking one day? A memory prompt, I figured, might help bring me back to my earlier days. I came up with the following memories.

I liked baseball as a kid, so what’s the earliest World Series that I remember? Dodgers versus A’s in 1974. I was 7. Super Bowl? Steelers versus Cowboys in 1976 with Lynn Swan’s beautiful catch. Nine years old. Grade school, 1st grade, and kindergarten I can all remember in descending degrees of detail. I even remember one impressive crying bout I had in preschool. Yes, preschool. I wanted to climb the fence and get outta there on one particular occasion. Four years old, was I for that embarrassing episode. GP, our pet Guinea Pig, again four years old. I came up with another four year old memory. It is possibly my earliest. The birth of my baby sister.

October 21. Glendale, CA.

The day struck me as odd. My two older brothers and I were at home and the only adult with us was Grandpa Tedesco. He was babysitting us. We loved gramps, but babysitting? Even at four years old it didn’t seem to be anywhere near his comfort zone.

What extreme circumstances necessitated this? The birth of my sister, the fifth and final Klem offspring. Mom, dad, Grandma Tedesco, and my younger brother, still just an infantile little fella, went to the hospital.

I remember gramps walking nervously around the house while we sat on the dark green shag carpeting watching tv. I can only guess what the instructions were to gramps, ‘Just keep these three alive. We’ll be back as soon as we can.’ He did.

Happy birthday, JQ. I’m glad you arrived.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

That’s Not My $10,000

It’s a familiar day dream that we’ve probably all had at one time or another. Free money. You go to the ATM and it shoots $20 dollar bills at you. Or the bank makes and error and adds a zero or two to your account balance. Fun thoughts. But what if it really happened?


I’m not overzealous with daily or even weekly balance checks on our investment and retirement accounts. Quarterly, that’s the typical frequency I’ll tune in for a review plus a once per year overhaul, as needed. But this particular evening I logged in, out of schedule, and discovered an irregularity. An irregularity in my favor. $10,000 in my favor!

I immediately logged off and walked away from the computer. Could I just leave it there, pretend I knew nothing, benefit from someone’s error and keep it? Could they track the error back to me and reclaim the money at some future date? Would another customer actually be out the $10,000? Or would the financial institution cover the error? Those were questions I would never have answered. A guilty conscience got the better of me. Ten minutes passed and I logged back into the account online and called a customer service representative.

I advised the phone representative of the error. After a short review, he countered by advising me that the error was mine, the $10,000 belonged in my account, and could he do anything else to help. I was then in the amusing situation of asking to speak with someone else to insist that the errant $10,000 be removed from my account. This time, the message was heard and my request was followed through with a thanks. My good samaritan phone call was rewarded by being credited a free trade next time I bought or sold stock. I accepted the token of thanks, street value about $15.

My day dream henceforth changed. No longer ‘What if my account is credited erroneously,’ but rather ‘What if I found a large paper bag of dollar bills?’ Heck, that’d be cool! No electronic tracking, just a guilt-free sack of money. Hot dog! That’d be fun!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Allowance Revisited

We have revisited the weekly allowance for the kids, specifically the amount of remuneration. In speaking with a few parents from school, it sounds as though our positions of $1 for a third grader and $0.50 for kindergarten may be on the low end of the allowance spectrum.

The updated compensation level for the boy proposes $3 per week based on him cleaning his bathroom and keeping his room clean. Failure to meet with compliance yields what is now considered a meager $1. He has performed adequately so far at bathroom cleaning which includes emptying the bathroom’s trash bin. His Achilles Heal has proven to be cleaning his room. The first few weeks under this program his remuneration has been a lowly $1, I’m sad to report.

The problem, you see, is the guy’s Hot Wheeling inclination. He likes making Hot Wheels tracks. He especially likes incorporating his entire room, desk, dresser, his dinosaurs, dominoes, and all his other toys into the landscape of the tracks. It really is all encompassing. So much so, that before I check on him before I go to bed, I can’t get to him without stepping on some portion of the track. He maintains that the track must remain standing until all his cars, of which there are about 100, have driven it. He then immediately sets out to modify the track which necessitates that he repeat the process with all the cars. The room never actually gets clean because there’s no down time between tracks.

As for our daughter, she’s been bumped up to $2 weekly. Her responsibility in return is twofold:
(1) She practices writing her alphabet. The task is supposed to be done daily, but my diligence sometimes falls short. The capital letters have been mastered and she’s working on the lower case. The ‘j’ has proven problematic for her as to which way it curls.
(2) She practices her numbers daily. This entails a variation of writing her numbers from 1 to 30 and counting by tens to 100 or counting to 100. She’s really gathering steam here, although that ‘50’ is sometimes elusive.

They’re good kids, but let’s not tell them that. Wouldn’t want to spoil them.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Compiled Quotes, x

“Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.” Thomas Fuller, English rector and historian [1608-1661]

“If you have a clear mind and an open heart, you won’t have to search for direction.” St. Paul, apostle [?-65]

“Hey, Lasorda,” one fan once heckled the robust Dodger Manager Tom Lasorda, “is that your belt or the equator?”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


My father-in-law passed away last week after a battle with pancreatic cancer. Any pain and suffering from the illness was his secret until six weeks before he passed away.

We’d regularly taken trips to a beach a short drive from his house, he and my family. He liked to take his grand kids to look for sea life in the tide pools and watch them play in the gentle surf. It was on one such beach trip in August the first signs of trouble appeared. He lost his balance a few times and was uncharacteristically out of breathe. The hospital visits began shortly thereafter.

Opa, as the whole family often preferred to call him, grew up in W.W.II Germany. He was a very mature 12 years old by the end of the war as one might imagine such experiences shaping his youth. As the oldest of three siblings one primary responsibility was to look out for the safety of his little brothers and sister.

He left Germany in 1954 after an apprenticeship in electronics. One time over coffee and Wife Klem’s blackberry cake, of which he was so fond, he explained why he left Germany, his family, and all that he knew. He said simply that he wanted to see ‘how the victors made out.’ He was twenty years old and ready to engage the world, make his way. With that he departed for Canada and entered the U.S. a year later.

He was a man of numerous exciting and entertaining tales, many of which I’ve written down to pass on to our kids. When they get older and curious about their family history they’ll be better able to know the life of their Opa.

He was a good dad to my wife and I couldn’t have asked for a better father-in-law. He was very involved with his grandchildren and consistently took full advantage of a grandparent’s privilege of plying his grandchildren with candy regardless of whether or not a base of strong food had first been consumed. It was always a Happy Opa Day.

Peace to you, dad.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

The Things They Say

Conversations with kids. You never know what kind of gems you’ll be gifted. The following transpired last week with both kids driving to my son’s golf lesson.

“Daddy, our home isn't very fun,” said my daughter in a dejected tone of voice from the back seat of the car.

“No fun? What do you mean? You’ve got that cool tent set up in the office for you and your stuffed animals,” I countered kind of surprised. “You’ve got your own room. That’s pretty good. And your big girl bed.” She was very pleased with herself when we removed the rails from her bed a month ago.

“Well, some day you’ll own your own house,” I continued after a pause. “Do you know when that’s going to be?”

“After college,” said my son from his booster seat in the back.

“That’s right. And after college you’ll get a job, get your own place to live, have your own family, and buy your own house too,” I said wrapping things up.

“Dad, of all the things, I’m not looking forward to kissing the bride,” said my boy.

I suggested to him that some day he may change his mind. He appeared skeptical.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Compiled Quotes, ix

“If you’re not going to tell the truth, at least be accurate.” Lou Duva, boxing trainer [1922]

“Ignorance is not bliss, it is oblivion.” Philip Wylie, author [1902 - 1971]

“Anyone can become angry, that is easy. But to be angry with the right person, to the right degree at the right time, for the right purpose, and in the right way, that is not easy.” Aristotle, Greek philosopher [384BC-322BC]

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Return to the NFL

I mentioned recently how the NFL and I had parted ways. That abstinance turned out to have an expiration date.

October 2004.

Our daughter was born September 2004. She had a restless first couple weeks as exhibited by gobs of crying during the day and resisting the peaceful embrace of a sleepy slumber at night for more crying. Poor, baby. One thing she did like, though, was being carried. If you merely held her and sat down or held her and stood still, she wasn’t going to tolerate that for long. Pick her up and maintain motion.

Wife Klem and I worked in shifts holding her and playing with her. During my shift I would often walk around the house holding her, talking to her, and showing her photos that hung from the wall, even though her eyeballs at that time were probably not visually operable other than seeing fuzzy shapes and colors. I eventually came to turning on ball games, the late season baseball stretch was in progress and the baseball playoffs were on a rapid approach.

The rhythm of the games actually worked out well. Watch a couple pitches, walk around the house with my baby, return for a few more pitches then walk around and talk to her. Repeat process. So my evening shifts were occupied thusly intermixed with a few feeding sessions and diaper changes.

Curious thing. After a few weeks I found that I had enjoyed watching baseball. The World Series concluded with the Sox of Boston beating the St. Louis Cardinlas 4 games to 0. Baseball season was over but I had a longing for more athletics. It was at ths point I boldly substituted football for the playoff baseball. This proved to be agreeable. My NFL sabbatical had come to a close.

To date I still crave my footballs. The viewing experience can be enhanced when my daughter concedes to being held while watching. Being as her football tolerance is low, this presents but a fleeting opportunity.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Birthday Wishes to Mom Klem

It’s possible that Mom Klem is not renowned for her wild ways. Well hear me out.

In high school she had a teacher who occasionally issued assignments on green paper. Mom Klem and her merry band of pranksters, the sneaks, wrote in green ink on these occasions. The befuddled teacher was reduced to straining her eyeballs to read the green on green.

Lent is a time of meat-free Fridays for Catholics. Well, Mom Klem and her clever vixenous girlfriends late on a Friday night during the Lenten season, on more than one occasion, would order a pepperoni pizza pie. That’s right, these wildcats ordered a meat pizza before midnight, the pies would then be cooked, served, and eaten after midnight, now Saturday morning, free of the meat restriction. It would be a failed effort on your part should you aspire to convince me that such a cavalier move was anything short of a boldness personified.

These scamps would frequent the local Catholic school dances on the weekend. One could do little more than hope they were satisfactorily sated by this revelry fearing what madness and havoc they might otherwise instigate.

There’s so much good stuff along the way from which I could easily pull to show examples of your good deeds, Mom. But let’s not get bogged down in the drudgery.

I love you, Mom. Happy birthday.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

I Meet My Bride

December 1995

A work related move took me to another office 60 miles away. I met a cubicle neighbor, we got along well, and we went to a burger franchise and got acquainted over a couple of Whoppers, mine was without mayonnaise.

Returning to the office he introduced me to some new work cohorts, including my neighbor across aisle. She was beautiful! I did what I could to maintain my cool before departing that afternoon.

My neighbor across the aisle and I were both single. A combination of being shy, in addition to being leery of an in-office romance, I fostered a friendly, though clumsy, familiarity. Brief chit chats about weekend events and social goings-on was the typical conversation. She was quick to laugh and had a delightful smile when engaged in conversation. I was hooked hard and continued looking for reasons and topics of discussion.

May 1996

Six months later she turned in her two-weeks notice. She was leaving the company. Mustering up my strength, I managed to ask her out. I got strength in thinking that if she declined, it would be an awkward two weeks but then it’d be over and she’d be gone. But to my delight, she smiled, wrote down her phone number, folded the paper in half, and handed it to me. I think she even brushed at her hair with her hand during this brief exchange.

The evening of our first date had arrived. The conversation was no longer clumsy. We decided on a second date.

Today marks our 11th year as bride and groom! I love you, Sweet Pea. Happy Anniversary.

Our Daughter is Born


We’re having a baby! Wife Klem awakened me at 12:07 am to advise that our daughter was ready to meet us. We woke up the boy and arrived at the hospital at 12:30 am. After a couple phone calls I returned home to leave the boy with my big brother and Wife Klem’s dad who had by now driven in after receiving a pair of rushed requests to baby sit.

Our daughter burgeoned forth at 3:36 am. She ranked in at 8 lbs. 6 oz. Not much eye contact or interest in looking around at anyone or anything, our daughter. Until, that is, she heard Mommy! Her eyes opened wide and looked right at Wife Klem. No interest in anyone else, but lots in Mommy. Probably wants to see from whence that pleasant voice has come those preceding nine months.

Today is our son's first day of school. I called to say that he won’t be in today on account of his new baby sister. The benefit of having a sister pays off immediately for him with his ‘Get out of school’ pass. Before returning to Wife Klem at the hospital I made a round of family phone calls advising of our daughter’s arrival. I also took down a celebratory breakfast of two Eggo waffles and chocolate milk.

She’s really a super kid, this baby, occasionally running through her repertoire of facial expressions. Her rendition of the large unencumbered smile ranking as my favorite.

6:30 pm. Our special in-hospital birthing celebration supper. Shrimp for me, filet mignon (that’s fancy for meat) for Wife Klem each with a single serving sparkling cider and an apple pie dessert. Good. Robust? No, but I don’t think I’d successfully manage to consume a robust meal at this point. Wife Klem? I boldly say no. The baby now beckons for a feeding. Wife Klem complying despite the meal interruption. Generous, she is.

It’s an amazing procedure the human birth. All the way up to and including the doctor holding up the spent placenta and showing us the opening from where the baby emerged. And then he casually chucked it into the garbage bin, the nut. Birth by hatching on the other hand? Much less dramatic. Much more adorable.

We love you, Boogie. Happy birthday.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Rock Concert

Before our daughter was born I would often take the boy in his stroller, then three years old, and the dog for a weekend morning walk to the nearby park. This one specific morning there was a crew setting up an extensive arrangement of temporary chain link fencing. Something major was underway.


“What’s going on,” I asked a guy.

“George Thoroughgood is playing today,” he replied. Thoroughgood. That’s a rock band. A decade or so beyond their prime, but still, playing here? At the park?

“They’re opening for Blue Oyster Cult,” he continued.

With that my attention was fully piqued! BOC, for those of us in the know, was a favorite rock band of my brothers back in the ‘80s. Having been fortunately furnished with this chance information, my day’s plans were to be altered.

I had a few chores to do, but my boy and I were going to see BOC live! He was excited when I proposed that we come back for a picnic lunch to watch a rock concert. I liked his enthusiasm. Although I venture to say he didn’t really grasp what ‘rock concert’ meant.

Returning home I had to hustle around to complete the yard chores before we went. It was getting close to start time when I had just finished. Stepping into the house I was expecting to have to quickly make sandwiches and pack a lunch. But I was instead greeted by a smiling Wife Klem who had packed lunch for me and the boy and offered to drop us off near the park. How lucky am I? Thanks, Wife Klem.

“Are you ready?! On your feet, or your knees, for the amazing . . . Blue Oyster Cult!!” blared through the sound system as we entered the park. The big ‘80’s rock band had just taken the stage. We navigated around the paying customer seating and luncheoned 50 yards to the left of the stage beyond the metal chain link temporary perimeter fence under a tree on a grassy knoll. Sandwiches in hand, along with binoculars, we took in the scene. Good view of the stage, beach balls bouncing among the crowd, and the money-paying spectators, of which we were not. A $25 ticket price secured them a patch of grass in the sun within their fenced-in confines.

The event was hosted by Harley Davidson. This would be readily attested by the amusingly rugged contingent of Harley gear-wearing folks in attendance, in addition to the numerous limping personnel and various other physical observations seemingly resultant of a hard living.

We stayed for an hour. He had fun, but I sensed that he had his fill when he started to ask after every song, “It’s over, Daddy?”

We got home, put the guy down for his nap. The next day his sister would be born.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Klem’s Corollaries on Life, excerpt iii

(21) Reach for a dictionary once in a while. Look it up.

(22) Dude, if you’re rocking a pony tail and it’s not for a Halloween costume or a prank, cut if off. Who’re you, Steven Segal?

(23) When picking up a heavy object, lift with your legs, not your back.

(24) Vanity license plates. Almost never a good idea.

(25) Happiness comes with seeking satisfaction and fulfillment. Not from the pursuit of happiness.

(26) Have a plan. Periodically review that plan for improvements.

(27) Read constantly. Novels, newspapers, magazines, the Bible. Doesn’t matter, just read something. When you finish it, pick something else to read. Repeat process.

(28) If you feel compelled to criticize, mix in constructive comments.

(29) If you feel you have to mumble, then it’s probably not worth saying. Stop mumbling.

(30) Use spell check.


Saturday, September 5, 2009

My Involuntary NFL Sabbatical

It was September 1, 1996 at 10:04 am Pacific Time. Sunday morning, Week 1 of football season and a game was just then kicking off.

I’d been a football fan since 1975, I was eight, and my team had always been the Cleveland Browns. Very sadly, the Browns had moved to Baltimore at the conclusion of the previous football season and changed their name to the Baltimore Ravens. My Cleveland Browns no longer existed!

I was tremendously disappointed with this development, but couldn’t be certain how it would affect me until football returned. I’d been a football watcher on Sundays during football season for 20 years. Would I still feel compelled to watch the great pageantry that is professional football even though I was now without a team? For whom, now, should I root? I was riddled with confusion. Today I would find my answers as the first games of the season kicked off across the country.

“Honey, do you want this?” My girlfriend at the time, who later, to my glee, would become my bride, asked if I had an interest in watching the football game that was airing on the television.

Thinking briefly upon Sweet Pea’s query, “No thanks.”

Silly thing, I didn’t know how I would feel about football again until that first kick off of the new season. Here we were. I was surprised at how easily I had turned the page on the NFL. Its draw for me had been extinguished.

[Note: An NFL team returned to Cleveland in 1999. It would be a few years more before I made my peace with the NFL and returned as a spectator.]

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Student Discount

The student discount has been a favorite of mine for many years. You know, you go to the movie theater, zoo, or other fee-for-entry establishments and the student discount is often available for the asking and photo ID verification. I’ve rarely taken advantage of it, but have cherished it each time as one might cherish an unassisted triple play in baseball or a safety in football.

I was last officially a student in June 1990 when I graduated from college. Strictly speaking the student discount was no longer available to me for the balance of my days.

In 1992 I took Scuba diving classes with my kid brother and we became certified divers. We were issued student diver ID cards on the front end of the our training.

It was this student identification card with photo and official student number that I called into use over the years to score this youth-intended discount. I pulled the stunt as recently as last year when Team Klem went to the Los Angeles County Museum of History. My boy likes dinosaurs, we go periodically and let the fella refresh his interest by staring at the ancient bones.

I saved maybe $2 with the discount that afternoon. Wife Klem amusedly suggested that I retire from the student discount racket. Maybe she’s right. I should probably give up the ghost on this. But in a moment of weakness I cannot guarantee that should I be under the influence of a squirrelly mood that I’d be able to muster the needed gumption to once again resist pulling that card from my wallet and showing it to a clerk. I can only try to do my best.

A rascal or a scoundrel, am I? You decide.