Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Coldfinger



*Opening theme song:

Coldfinger, he’s the man The man with the freezing touch Such a cold finger He beckons you to his icy rink of sin But if you have any brains you won’t go in Frozen words he will pour in your ear But his touch will freeze up your beer For a girl knows when he has kissed her It’s the frozen kiss of death From Mister Coldfinger He loves only cold He loves only cold He loves cold! (If you want to sing along, please scream the last three words).

*James Bond, the debonair British secret agent, enters the office of the secret intelligence boss, the Department Undersecretary of the Monitoring Bureau (DUMB).

Bond: “Good morning, Miss Moneynickle,” the spy says to the pretty secretary.

Moneynickle: “Hello, sexy,” she replies with a wink.

*The Undersecretary, Bond’s boss, responds over the intercom: “Bond, quit flirting with that woman and get in here!”

Undersecretary: “James, we have a problem. This is a photograph of the notorious Coldfinger. The man cannot stand the heat; he keeps all his rooms at five below zero. As a child he began a life of crime in his neighborhood. At the age of six he was busted for swiping the neighbors’ ice cubes and then dumping them down his pants. At ten he spent time in jail for stealing electric fans. We want you to go in disguise and see what’ he’s up to.”

Bond: “This gives a whole new meaning to being frigid.”

Undersecretary: “Never mind the puns, 007; go see Q to collect the gadgets that will help you to succeed on this mission.”

Q: “Quit looking at my secretary and pay attention to what I’m showing you, 007. Here is the car you will use. Go ahead and start it.”

Bond: “This is fantastic! It emits an oil slick to make the bad guys following me skid off the road! What button do I use to activate it?”

Q: “No button is necessary. The old tub naturally leaks oil. Our budget was cut after the government bought the queen three more castles. We got a great deal in buying this car from a retiring police officer; I believe his name is Columbo.”

Bond: “Great. What else do you have?”

Q: ”Open this jar, James.”

*Upon opening it a foul-smelling thick smoke is emitted.

Bond: “Where did you get this?”

Q: “Los Angeles, of course. Now here is a ‘heat’ pen.’ When you remove the top a nuclear-generated reaction will instantly raise the temperature around you by 50 degrees. 007, are you listening to me?”

Bond: “Of course. You made the brilliant suggestion of removing the top.”

Q: “I was talking about my pen, James, not my secretary. You will wear these special shoes. If you kick someone with either shoe a rocket will shoot out the end and turn your opponent into ashes.”

*007 arrives at the casino where Coldfinger is playing a lethal game of ‘go fish.’ Bond arrives in a covered wagon and wears pioneer clothing.

Bond: “Valet, please park this wagon for me.”

Valet: “Who are you?’

Bond: “My name is Bond, Ward Bond. I’m a wagon master. Haven’t you ever watched the reruns of Wagontrain?”

Valet” “Yeah, I believe you, and I’m the Lone Ranger. What’s this all about?’

Bond: “ I’ll tell you if you promise to keep it a secret. My name is Bond, James Bond; I’m a secret agent here in disguise to investigate one Mr. Coldfinger.”

Valet: “How do you know I won’t tell someone?”

Bond: “See this license? It’s a license to kill. If you talk you die!”

*Bond enters the gaming area. There he spots Mr. Coldfinger, who is sitting on a huge block of ice while he plays a cutthroat game of cards. Bond becomes suspicious when he realizes that Coldfinger always wins. 007 then spots a beautiful young lady looking out the second floor window. She is using binoculars to read the other players’ hands. She then relays this information to Coldfinger, who is wearing an earpiece. Bond breaks his way into her room.

Bond: “So, you’re cheating for that good-for-nothing Coldfinger!”

Miss Kitty Litter: “If I don’t, he will kill me. Oh well, let’s get romantic.”

*Always a fast worker, five minutes later Bond begins to give Coldfinger the wrong information. During the next three hours the villain loses over forty matchsticks. He’s fit to be tied.

*Later that evening Bond sees Coldfinger at the dining area. The bad guy approaches our hero.

Coldfinger: “My name is Frosty Coldfinger.”

Bond: My name’s Bond, James Bond.”

Coldfinger: “Would you like a drink, Mr. Bond?”

Bond: “Thank you. I’ll have prune juice, shaken, not stirred.”

Coldfinger: “Prune juice?”

Bond: “I’m not getting any younger, you know. My character has been featured in films since 1962.”

*Coldfinger invites Bond to play golf the next morning. He accepts. Like most crooks, Coldfinger is a cheat. He drops golf balls close to the hole and is not beyond kicking a ball to a better spot. Going to the eighteenth, they are tied. Reaching into his golf bag, Bond opens the jar of L.A. smog. Coldfinger and his caddie cough and curse, but cannot see Bond nor the hole. After a few minutes the air clears.

Bond: “I believe I have a hole in one.”

*An angry Coldfinger gets a double bogey and thus has to buy Bond’s lunch.

*Bond later returns to Miss Kitty Litter’s room. There he finds her dead, frozen in a large block of ice. No doubt this was the work of Coldfinger.

*The next day Bond learns that Coldfinger has taken over the electric plant in Warren, Pennsylvania. Bond goes there and sneaks into the building to see what the villain is up to.

Coldfinger: “Gentlemen, now that we have possession of this key plant, we control the world’s supply of electricity. Anyone who craves air conditioning will pay through the nose! We will make a fortune!”

*At this point Bond, who is pretending to be a hall tree, unintentionally burps. Coldfinger orders his subordinate, Odd Jobber, to get the spy. Bond runs outside but is soon cornered by Odd Jobber, who throws a pointed shoe to dispatch his enemies. Bond ducks under the first throw.

Bond: “This makes me think of the old Ed Sullivan show.”

Odd Jobber: “How’s that?”

Bond: “He was always talking about having a ‘really big shoe!’”

*After another miss with his shoe Odd Jobber is able to corner Bond and begins strangling him. Bond responds by kicking the villain in the knee, which instantly turns the bad guy into a pile of dust. Unfortunately, 250 security forces working for Coldfinger take 007 into custody.

Coldfinger: “You have killed my best killer and friend! I bet he suffered!”

Bond: “No, actually I think he got quite a kick from it!”

Coldfinger: “You will die, Bond, but first I will introduce you to my Grandmother Coldheart.”

Bond: “Well, hello there. You wouldn’t look too bad in a bikini.”

Coldfinger: “Bond, for just one second quit thinking about women! It is now time to kill you!”

Bond: “May I write a last note to my dear mommy?”

Coldfinger: “Okay, but make it snappy.”

*Bond pulls the top off the pen and soon the room is heated to 45 degrees. Coldfinger screams and jumps into the nearest refrigerator. Meanwhile, about 500 of the intelligence agency’s best fighters enter the building and begin a colossal battle with the villain’s army. After cooling off, Coldfinger dumps several ice cubes down his pants and goes after Bond. Eventually he dazes 007 and makes a run for it by jumping into Bond’s car. Unfortunately, the old jalopy has no brakes. We watch as Coldfinger drops off a cliff.”

*Later, back at the Undersecretary’s office:

Undersecretary: “Once again you saved us from the bad guys, 007. I would like to reward you with a vacation, but something horrible is happening in the states. It seems that the Americans play a game called ‘baseball.’ Someone has been stealing bases! Here’s a plane ticket and good luck!”

*Two minutes later the Undersecretary turns on the intercom:

Undersecretary: “Get going, 007; quit flirting with Miss Moneynickle!”

Saturday, September 27, 2014

The Battle of the Bulge(s)

As winter gave way to the colorful flowers, budding trees, and growing grass of spring, I noticed that my everyday clothes seemed to be smaller than usual.  “Dear,” I said to my wife, “Could you take out a few stitches in these pants?  They’ve shrunk over the winter.”

“They didn’t shrink, dear,” was her reply.  “You’ve expanded.”

Reluctantly I accepted the fact that too much time in the recliner mixed with too many tacos with extra cheese sauce had indeed made me a bigger man.  At  that point I headed to the grocery store, where I dutifully stocked up on cottage cheese, Cheerios (very low sugar content), vegetables, and fruit.

For the next two weeks I was very proud of myself.  Jumping onto the scales after ten days of self-imposed deprivation, I discovered that I’d lost almost two pounds!  By then I was a mere twenty-three pounds over my goal.  This would be a piece of cake!  On second thought, that is probably not the best way to describe one’s dieting procedures.

Then came vacation time.  Our son asked us to go to Europe with him.  Who could turn down such an opportunity?  I swear that within ten minutes of the invitation Bev had her bags packed and was on-line ordering the tickets.

Our first destination was Dusseldorf, Germany.  Our son went off to do his own thing, so Bev and I followed a path along the beautiful Rhine River.  All that walking made me ravenous.  Honestly, for a few minutes I did look around for a watercress restaurant, but had to settle for more traditional German cuisine.

One hasn’t lived until he’s devoured fried wiener schnitzel.  Along with the meat was served a large plate of French fries.  Admittedly, I devoured this high calorie meal, but I neutralized the damage by ordering a diet Coke!

The next stop was  the Netherlands.  Aboard a boat that served as a restaurant we ordered what the natives call pancakes.  They were thin pieces of a floury substance that covered the entire plates.  One was stuffed with bits of apple, while the other was covered with cherries.  On top of each pancake were two scoops of ice cream, while on the side were  containers of syrup and  dishes of whipped cream.  Still conscious of my weight-reducing program, I only drank two beers with my meal.

Never go to Brussels if you’re trying to lose weight.  Shops there offer waffles that are sensational.  I should know-Bev “forced” me to eat about ten of them.    The city also offers some of the world’s best chocolate, which, of course, Bev and I had to sample.  Feeling guilty, I walked two extra laps around the city square.  Realistically, I should have jogged to Moscow.

In Norway we followed narrow winding roads up the mountainsides on our way to some of God’s most beautiful scenery-the fjords.  Towns were few and far between, so at a store we stocked up on potato chips, Oreo cookies, French bread, cheese, and, of course, chocolate candy.

At our first stop in the land of fjords we enjoyed a roasted chicken, a salad, and assorted fruits.  This was probably the first and last healthy meal that we consumed on this trip.

On our  return to the states we were fortunate enough to get first class.  In that section of the plane one gets more leg room and seats that actually can be transformed into rather comfortable beds.  On the other hand, the airline over does the feeding part.  First, one is offered a glass of Champaign.  I don’t particularly like its taste, but why not take something that‘s offered to you?  Next, one is served two appetizers before the main course is served.

Some of the choices were rather exotic.  One of the main courses looked like a giant moose’s eye covered with some kind of rich sauce.  After devouring the main course I couldn’t be rude by refusing dessert, so I ate a large piece of what I think was carrot cake.  It might have been my imagination, but it seemed like the plane began tilting toward  my side of the aisle.

Once back in the states I made a firm promise to myself to get back on my diet.  I forgave myself for eating like a pig while on vacation, and   I even came up with a motto for the trip: “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we may (must) diet.”

Monday, September 15, 2014

Driving the Mrs. Crazy

If there was ever a picture-perfect driver, it had to be my father.  He didn’t speed, he didn’t tailgate,  he kept his hands on the steering wheel at the “ten-two” positions, and he used the mirrors just as I was later  taught to do in driver’s education.  I doubt that professional instructors were as proficient.  Yet, Dad had to have been one of the world’s worst driving instructors.  Why?  He simply had no patience.  No matter what he was teaching, the “student” would be told once and then he or she was supposed to “get it.”

For some reason my mother had never learned to drive an automobile.  Then, sometime during the early 1950s (or so I am told; I was an infant) Dad decided that Mom needed to get her license.  After driving to the local fairgrounds he stashed the four children into the backseat and proceeded to give Mom a fifteen minute course on the basics of driving.

He showed her the gears of the standard transmission and then demonstrated the use of the clutch.  “You have to let the clutch out slowly or you’ll kill the engine,“ he bellowed.

With Dad riding shotgun Mom took the controls.  Immediately my father resorted to his number one teaching technique-screaming:  “&^%%^&!  I told you to let the clutch out slowly!”

Poor Mom, already frustrated, was giving us a ride to remember.  The old Chevy, much like a bucking bronco, would lunge forward, come to a sudden stop, and then once again lurch ahead.  Dad’s instructions became louder and more urgent: “You’re letting the &^%$$%^& clutch out too fast!  Quit grinding the  &^&^$^$&&^ gears!  $%^^&&&&&!”  Thankfully, Dad didn’t order her to “throw out the clutch;” she was so discombobulated  that she might have taken his orders literally.  I can just imagine her yanking the clutch from the floorboard and then heaving it out the window!

Displaying much horse sense, a nearby nag watched our car hop and spin around the track for a few seconds before wisely galloping into a nearby barn.  There, no doubt, he was much safer than we poor souls who were trapped in the backseat.

After what seemed an eternity Mom completed a lap around the track.  Jerking the automobile to a halt, she pulled  the emergency brake, turned off the key, and announced that she was through with driving. True to her word, she never again ventured behind the wheel.  I have no doubt that Mom could have learned to drive, but unfortunately fate had given her one of the world’s most ill-suited instructors.

To get from place to place Mom became a world class walker.  Even in her seventies it was not unusual for her to walk ten miles in a single day, and she walked at a brisk pace, too.

A few years later Dad took it upon himself to teach my two sisters the art of driving.  I must admit that they were two of the worst drivers I’d ever seen.  However, once they left home and escaped  Dad’s harassment, they miraculously transformed into excellent motorists. Go figure!

Whenever possible I  avoided driving with him. When forced to do so, I simply tried to ignore the ranting and raving.  Thankfully, my brother-in-law took pity on me; he taught me the basics of driving and didn’t yell or scream.  It’s too bad Mom didn’t have such an instructor.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

A Special Homecoming Queen

The Ohio State University, originally known as the Agricultural and Mechanical College, began “Ohio State Day” in 1912.  Later changed to “Homecoming,” the event was created to bring alumni back to campus each year.  A key part of the festivities included electing a Homecoming Queen.

To be selected Homecoming Queen, much like being selected to be a cheerleader, is a prestigious award for which most young women can only dream.  In 1926, the OSU College of Agriculture nominated one Maudine Ormsby to rule over that year’s Homecoming festivities, but the young lady had two humongous problems to overcome.  First of all, although she was seen around campus and ate her meals there, Maudine was not registered as a student at the Ohio State University.  Secondly, unlike many of her fellow coeds, she was not exactly beautiful, at least not in the conventional sense of the word.  Indeed, she was a large gal; she might have been the heaviest female on campus.  On the other hand, Ms. Ormsby was ahead of her times, for she was one of the few practicing vegetarians in the region.

To the surprise of college officials, this rather homely female was elected Homecoming Queen for 1926.  Those officials, perhaps with smiles on their faces, had refused to disqualify Ms. Ormsby over the technicality of not being enrolled, and as for her looks, no doubt the Ohio State brain trust realized that real, lasting beauty lies within the soul.

Surprisingly, the alumni and the students were more excited about Maudine’s victory than she was.  She went along with the festivities, but never displayed either nervousness or excitement.  She neither smiled nor frowned as the crown and cape were placed upon her. For Ms. Ormsby, it was just another day.  

Later that evening, after the parade and other festivities had been completed, Maudine skipped the big dance.  Perhaps that was a good decision, for she didn’t look like the most agile gal in the world.  In fact, she could be described as having four left feet.  So instead of attending the dance she contentedly spent her evening at a barn not far from the main campus.

You see, Maudine Ormsby was a cow.  No, I’m not an insensitive male chauvinist pig describing an overweight lady.  I’m talking about the kind of cow that moos, gives lots of milk, and eats hay.  As a joke the College of Agriculture had nominated this creature for Homecoming Queen, and when the student body elected the hay burner, Ohio State officials went along with the funny business.

To this day some folks argue that the joke was an affront to the tradition and seriousness of Homecoming, but I think they protest too much.  Although Maudine Ormsby was rather homely (if you are a bull, you may disagree), no real harm was done.

Although Maudine did not meet the physical standards of Ohio State’s Homecoming Queens either before or after 1926, Buckeye fans, with tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, would argue that she’s prettier than any Homecoming Queen ever elected at that “school up north.”

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Dad's Scary Tales

*Dad loved to tell spooky stories, especially after the sun had gone down.  I loved his tales, but they scared me half to death.  At this minute the doors are locked, the windows are secured, and all the lights are on, so I will share a few of them with you.

*Dad lived in a “holler” in West Virginia; the nearest neighbor, an ornery old man, lived a couple miles away.  Now and then this fellow invited folks from the area to visit.  After everyone had eaten, the spooky stories began.  The old guy’s favorite was the “headless” horseman.

Anyone traveling on horseback  at night, on the very same road that Dad had used to get to the party,  discovered that his horse would stop at a certain wooded area.  Out from the trees would emerge a man who seemed perfectly normal if one did not notice that he had no head.  The headless one would mount the horse (behind the rider); then the horse would continue along until it reached a clearing along the highway.  The headless horseman would then dismount and be on his way.

After the party ended, poor old Dad, scared half to death, sprinted the entire way home.  He found an extra burst of energy as he reached the area where the headless horseman was said to emerge.  At least Dad was getting plenty of exercise.

*At one of these parties there was an elderly gentleman who was not quite right , mentally speaking.  Knowing that the old guy would be walking through the graveyard on his way home, a few brash young men decided to play a prank.  Leaving the party early, they settled behind a huge gravestone in the cemetery.  A few minutes later they heard the mentally-challenged gentleman approaching, happily singing.

Jumping in front of the would-be victim, one of the young men, with a white sheet draped over his body, began to scream and make other ghoulish sounds.  Unperturbed, the elderly gentleman replied, “You better watch out, Mr. White Ghost; there’s a black ghost behind you!”

Turning, the prankster did indeed see a huge, menacing black figure hovering over him.  Screaming, the “white ghost” and his buddies, silhouetted by a full moon, dashed madly through the cemetery.

At the party another guy had overheard the pranksters’ plans.  Liking the old fellow who was the intended victim, this guy decided to have a little fun at the pranksters’ expense.

*Each fall a fraternity at an unnamed university accepted new members.  Of course, the fraternity members loved to have a little fun at the expense of the pledges.  At dusk a want-to-be member  would be escorted to a certain gravesite at the local cemetery.  He was told to stand there until the fraternity members returned in a couple hours.  Then, pretending to leave, the members hid nearby where they could observe the action.

All would be quiet for the next ten or fifteen minutes.  Then the pledge would hear a low moan, sounding as if it came from the nearby grave!  Calming his nerves, he usually stood his ground at this point.

A few minutes later he would hear another groan, perhaps a bit louder than the first.  By this time the pledge was shaking with fear, but he screwed up his courage and stood firmly. Then something happened that would make  even the bravest young man run for his life.  Another moan , this time much louder, was followed by arms seemingly rising from that grave!  Actually, it was a fraternity member who had been carefully covered by leaves before the pledge had arrived.

I don’t know if the story is true, but it seems to me a rather cruel initiation practice.  It’s a wonder no one had a heart attack!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Pizza

Until the age of eight I had never seen, smelled, or tasted a pizza. In fact, the word “pizza” was not even a part of my vocabulary.  All that changed when we visited relatives in northern Ohio.

At suppertime the father sent his oldest son somewhere to pick up a pizza.  Since I had never heard of such a thing, I was quite curious.  He returned about twenty minutes later with a large box.  When he opened that box I almost vomited.  Never before or since have I smelled anything so gross.  Perhaps they just make pizzas differently in northern Ohio.  As a result, I avoided being around pizzas for about five years.

During the junior high era I attended several basketball and football games.  After one such event my friends asked me to go with them to the local pizzeria.  Against my better judgment I tagged along.

To my utter surprise I discovered that the hometown pizza looked and smelled nothing like the one I had encountered  several years earlier.  Before the meal was through I had tasted my first pizza and was instantly hooked.

Dad had heard about pizza, but for some reason he banned it from his house.  Perhaps he read somewhere that Elvis Presley liked pizza, for I know for a fact that Dad despised everything about the “King,” which, of course, made me a big fan.

Several years later my sister and her husband lived at our house while he finished school.  Unlike Dad, we three absolutely loved pizza.  One night after the folks went to bed my sister sneaked downstairs to order one that was smothered in pepperoni.   My brother-in-law’s 1955 Chevy was parked on the street in front of the house, so he and I pushed it up the road about half a block before starting the engine.  On the return trip he cut the engine and let the car roll into its parking place.

Since Mom had the nose of a bloodhound we ate the pizza in the backyard.  When finished we deposited the box in the trashcan of some neighbors down the street so that Mom would not find it.

About a month later Dad and Mom announced that they were going to visit some friends across town.  That was music to our ears; as soon as they left my sister put in the pizza order.  A half hour later my brother-in-law and I brought a large deluxe pizza into the kitchen.  Before we could begin eating it, however, the folks pulled into the driveway.  It seems that the friends were not home.

Thinking quickly, my sister closed the pizza box and shoved it into the closet.  Upon entering the house the first thing Mom did was begin sniffing loudly:  “I smell something!” she exclaimed.

“I don’t smell anything,” my sister calmly replied.  “Do you smell anything, Larry?”  she asked her husband.

“Nope!  I don’t smell a thing,” he answered.

Like a trained bloodhound, Mom continued to sniff around until the boss, Dad, said it was time for bed, so the five of us retired for the night.  Well, actually three of us retired for about ten minutes before sneaking back into the living room and retrieving the pizza from the closet.

Once again we ate in the backyard before hiding the evidence in a neighbor’s trashcan.  Then we had to avoid the noisy floorboards as we navigated our way down the hall.

Thankfully, I didn’t prohibit my kids from ordering pizza.  The biggest problem they had to worry about was the strong possibility that the old man would eat a goodly portion of their pizza pie, unless, of course, it smelled like the one ordered in northern Ohio so many years ago.