Bellbottom Blog

Scratching A Writing Itch From Time To Time

Archive for the month “July, 2012”

The Mall

Lisa, whose blog The Best Self  T-Shirt Catalog Ever!,  is recommended reading by the Bellbottom Blog, hence its appearance on the Blogroll to the right of this page, inspired this post.

She wrote a post called How To Go To The Mall: A Photo Guide.  You can click on her blog and read it.  As always, it is chock full of helpful hints to successfully navigate your way around the mall experience.

I was thinking about my own experiences at the mall.

See, the mall is a phenomenon that came to be in my lifetime.  There was a time when all the stores were outside.  Yes they were! I swear!

Somewhere along the line, a person decided to buy a large patch of land and build a structure that would house a lot of stores.  Of course, this idea came with a price.  As businesses moved to the mall, the areas they left behind were faced with empty storefronts.

Not exactly a win for all, but people liked the idea of shopping inside.

The big draw, before food courts came to be, was the popcorn stand.  Let’s face it, no one can resist the smell of fresh popped popcorn.  Especially, a 11 year old kid riding his bike where he shouldn’t be with a friend of his.  For example.

The mall closest to our house was the second mall built in Fort Wayne.  This is about 1967.

In addition to the popcorn, it also had an arcade called Aladdin’s Castle.  All pinball machines.  Google it, if you don’t know what a pinball machine is. 3 balls for a quarter.

It had a Sears, J.C. Penney, and L.S. Ayers (an Indiana department store).  ChessKing.  Musicland. A cafeteria. A six screen theater.

Busy, busy place for a number of years.  But as the years went by and the new houses were being built on the other side of town, It started to deteriorate.  Stores left . The theater went to dollar movies and then closed.  The arcade. Even the popcorn stand closed.

Years went by as the carcass of this once fine mall sat unused.  Finally, the politicians in town bought it and tore it down.  Today, there is a Wal-Mart in its place.  And a Menards.

When I drive past that piece of my youth,  I can still remember the thrill of riding my bike through that parking lot.

But that isn’t what I started to write about.


I asked this question on Twitter a while back. “Why doesn’t the men’s section have an area for the guys who wear black socks and sandals. They should be sold in a set. Help the old folks out.”

But really, my question is why do we stop  putting ages on clothing  sections with teens?  Shouldn’t there be an area for 35-50 year olds?  A senior section?

One of the complaints I read about are people who don’t dress their age.  Let’s help them out.

Until next time…






Friday Potpourri Vol. 15

Welcome to the rain that is falling as I type this.  We have been without rain for over a month now and the lawn is getting very crunchy.

The Olympic Opening Ceremonies are going on right now.  But I am not missing anything because they are being shown tonight on tape-delay.  It is 4 p.m. They could be shown now.  But as I predicted in a recent post, NBC doesn’t want us to see them live. I guess it makes it easier for them to slip in commercials. Of course, other countries are seeing them live and Tweeting about it so there will be no surprises when they are shown here.  And if they suck I imagine the viewer numbers would be affected.  Smooth move, NBC!

Has anyone noticed how difficult it is to comment on Blogger?  They require those hieroglyphic sign- ins to prove you aren’t a spam bot.  I was talking to someone this week that just avoids any blog that makes it so difficult to comment.  The spam filter here on WordPress has caught all of the spam before it makes it to the comment area.

In grandson news, we found something that he likes almost as much as Yo Gabba Gabba. We were channel surfing and my wife came across Xanadu.  Made in 1980, the musical stars Olivia Newton-John and , sadly, Gene Kelly.  It is a horrible mess of a picture with music by Electric Light Orchestra.  There is a big roller skating dance number in it.  The little one was fascinated by it.  He rarely watches anything on TV but he couldn’t get enough of this mess.  The combination of bright disco era clothes along with the music was all he needed.

I remember that time as a battle between Disco and Urban Cowboy music. Bars in my hometown had one or the other.

Disco balls.  Guys dressed like Travolta in Saturday Night Fever complete with open shirts filled with gold necklaces.

Or in the other bars. Mechanical bulls. Guys dressed like Travolta in tight jeans and new cowboy hats.

If they still want to dress like Travolta, they would need a fat suit and a toupee.

I made it onto a mechanical bull once.  It was in the afternoon and the owner, a wonderful slightly crazed Hungarian, decided to take the controls.  He thought it would be fun to learn how to run the bull by practicing on a few of the customers before the evening crowd came in.  I lasted about 3 seconds.

But the music for the western clubs was great.  Live bands from the area getting a chance to chase a musical dream.

(I should tell you that I am trying to write this and follow the BBC’s LIVE blog of the Opening Ceremonies.  That’s right!  Multi-tasking! Belgium just entered the arena. )

(Jamaica just came in)

Oops, sorry, you are still here.

Ahh, Dane Cook made an Aurora shooting victims joke and has apologized for it.  Which makes him an even more heinous person than I thought he was.  He was at the comedy club the night of the Daniel Tosh incident.  He knows how much publicity that received. So, he comes up with his own look-at-me moment.  Scumbag. Lowlife.

(Malta just entered.  This live blog is really great.)

Let’s wrap this up with a gentle reminder that Amy of LucysFootball fame has a book of poetry coming out on Aug. 1st.  Click on her name in my fancy new blogroll and find out all about it.  I can’t wait to get a copy.




The Lake

When I was a young child, there were a few years that my family would take a vacation for two weeks and go to the lake.

We rented a place on a small lake in northeastern Indiana.  There are several lakes in that region.  The one we picked wasn’t very big.  Not a lot of skiers and speedboats.  So the noise was at a minimum.

It was a two story cottage.  Green, if I remember right.   Very steep steps from the front led to the small yard and the dock.

My mom and dad always invited mom’s dad and mom along with two of our cousins.  This was before my youngest brother came along so there were six of us.

Dad was a mailman and in the early sixties he didn’t make a lot of money.  Still they found a way to get us up there every summer.

I  remember piling into our Plymouth station wagon (the car of choice for Catholics back then) and taking what I thought was a very long trip.  Until I became old enough to drive on my own, these were the longest trips I would be on.  It seemed like forever to get there.  The actual trip only took a little over 2 hours on two lane roads.

That car was stuffed with fishing gear, clothes, a cooler, and other assorted things.

When we would get there, every one went to the water’s edge first, before unpacking.  There was and is  something about the smell of lake water that was almost magical to a city boy like me. I am convinced that food tastes better near the water.

The days were filled with wading around and exploring the area with my cousin.

My grandparents provided most of the entertainment.

By this time they had been married over forty years.  They loved each other very much.  They could also push each others buttons pretty well.

Grandpa liked to fish with two poles.  A rod and reel which he always kept in his hand and a fly rod which he put at the opposite end of the boat.  We are not talking about a large boat here.  Picture a rowboat.  Just a regular size rowboat.  That was what we were in.  Dad, Grandpa and me.  To check on his flyrod line, Grandpa would have to get up and try to walk around the boat.  Dad was always shifting himself around so we wouldn’t tip over.

Grandma would yell from the shore, “Sit down, Harry!”

“Awww, be quiet. You’re scaring the fish,” Grandpa would shout back.

In all the years we fished like that, he never tipped the boat over or lost the pole.  I am sure Grandma would take all the credit for it.  Thanks to her vigilance, we stayed afloat.

The middle weekend of the vacation, we would invite Mom’s side of the family one day and Dad’s the next.  Every inch of that property was full of  kids.  It was great.  Looking back, I am impressed that they would do that.  It was quite a mob scene.

Dad would also invite some of his friends from work.  Mailmen, then and now, have rotating days off. One week, they are off on a Monday, so the next week, Tuesday..when Friday would come up in the rotation, they got Friday and Saturday both.  The following week, they would work the whole week and then the rotation would start over again.

So, people would drop in here and there during the week.

I should mention that even though we went up there  every year, I never learned to swim.  I didn’t care for it.  Still don’t.

One day though, I was walking on the edge of the dock doing a little fishing when I took an extra step.  Next thing I know I am on my back under a lot of water and having a tough time finding my way back up. That water I was so fond of was filling me up fast.

A hand appeared and grabbed mine, pulling me up to the surface.  One of my Dad’s friends from work had brought his son and daughter with him. She was the one who saw me and saved my life.

Thanks, Sue.

I only saw her once after that.  I thanked her again.  She just brushed it off, but the look on her face showed how proud she was to have that on her resume.

You would think that might get me to learn how to swim.  Nope. The lake had its chance and missed.

With the exception of that incident, I remember those trips fondly.

Lots of laughter.  Lots of fishing.  Lots of memories.




Tragedy on TV

A few days ago, there was an awful shooting spree in a theater during the latest Batman movie.

Aurora, Co. joined a list that includes Columbine, Virginia Tech , Edmund, OK among others as places that would be linked by unspeakable tragedy.

I bet some of you are wondering, Edmund?  What happened there?  Back in the early ’80’s, a disgruntled postal worker entered the Edmund Post Office and killed 14 people, wounding several others.  I bring it up just to emphasize how little progress we have made when it comes to figuring out how to stop these horrific events,

Ban assault weapons.

Toughen the standards for acquiring weapons.

Let everybody have a gun.

Better mental health screening.


Voting Republican.

Voting Democrat.

Reducing violence in movies and television.

Have a bi-partisan commission to study violence in the workplace.

Did I miss any?  Oh, and can we fill hour after hour with “expert” opinion about the shooter?  How he looks.  What music he listened to.

The same crap with the same experts.  All looking very somber.  Spewing their nonsense.

Bad things happen in this world.  There are no easy answers.  Actually, I don’t think there are any answers except some people are just flat-out evil.

My heart goes out to the families who have to find their way through the grieving process with the barrage of cameras wanting an interview.  Maybe the networks looking for a story in between psychiatrists and profilers.

After Edmond and a subsequent shooting in a Royal Oak, Mi post office, all Postal Service employees had mandatory group counseling.  We spent 3 or 4 hours talking with experts who would ask a question, listen to our responses, repeat back what we had just said, on and on, until at the end when they had to admit there were no answers to preventing a future shooting.  By providing the sessions, they could say something had been done for the employees.

No answers.

Just broken families.

I am going  finish this by mentioning the people in that theater who had just a split second to throw themselves on the person next to them, sacrificing their own  lives.

Those people showed what a hero does when it counts the most.

When I happen across any of the endless coverage of the gunman and his long slog to justice, as I change the channel, I am going to remember the heroes.





Friday Potpourri Vol. 14

Here we go!

I want you kind readers to notice the Blogs I Follow section on the right of the page.———–>>>>>>

See?  Follow those blogs if you don’t already.  They are Bellbottom Blog approved.

Well…this week on Twitter I had a run-in with a vegan.  I really wasn’t expecting it.  An innocent comment to a guy who said the Vegans were after him started the exchange.

I suggested maybe the vegan community could use a cheeseburger.  Might calm them down.

A vegan said he would follow my advice if he wanted “cancer/heart disease/obesity”.

I pointed out that I have none of those and I am 56 years old.

He said, “Not yet. These things tend to sneak up on you. Either way, all that will be left will be vegans.”

I didn’t pursue it after that last bit.  A couple of days later, a writer named @SaraJBenincasa  was putting off doing any writing and asked her followers for questions.  The  best part was that she would answer in haiku.

So, I asked the following question: “A vegan told me I would die unless I stopped eating meat:prediction or should I get a restraining order?”

Sara answered with this:

silly!vegan farts/

Could kill a man dear God no/

we all die, Hooray!

How cool is that?

By the way, I don’t care if you are a vegan or not.  Just don’t wish me dead to make your point about the hazards of eating meat.

In other news, I have been trying to find a show that will counterbalance my viewing of Duck Dynasty and Ice Road Truckers.

I had two possibilities:  The Newsroom and Political Animals.

I find the news and politics interesting so I went into these with high hopes.

Let’s dispense with Political Animals first.  This was just train-wreck bad.  Every lame twist possible was used.  So it will probably run forever.

The Newsroom just fired all their writers.  I don’t know for sure how that will affect the quality of the show.  I am amazed that they lifted the Jim-Pam-Roy storyline from The Office.  Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight on the show,  just called them on it a few minutes ago on Twitter.  Lots of speeches.  But Sam Waterston is great. And as Amy pointed out the newscast part of the show is pretty strong.

For fans of the original Saturday Night Live, there was some sad news. Tom Davis, one of the first writers hired for the show, died at the age of 59.  He was hired along with Al Franken, the current Senator from Minnesota. They were a comedy team, Franken and Davis.

I may have mentioned it in another post, but the first four years of Saturday Night Live, really meant a lot to me as a fan of comedy.

This was my generation making an impact.

Until I read his obit in the New York Times, I didn’t realize how close in age we are.  Mr. Davis is just 3 years older than me.

I purchased my first VCR just to record the show when I was at work.  A big, heavy monster of a VCR.  The remote had a cord.  You read that right,  a cord.  It loaded from the top and had knobs to dial in the channels with on the front.

I have those seasons on DVD.  When I look at them now, the lighting is not the best.  It is a little rough around the edges, but it is still funny.  AND, the original group wasn’t as dependent on cue cards as more recent incarnations have been.

Tom Davis wrote a memoir a few years ago, called Thirty-Nine Years Of Short-Term Memory Loss.  Very funny and honest book.

One last thing, Twitter had an update last week which resulted in me having to re-follow all the people I had been following.

I don’t know why that happens.  It stinks.

So I wrote this tweet, “Twitter’s unfollows have caused more trouble than Andy Cohen at a Real Housewives reunion.”

Until next time,




Olympics on TV: Less Jingoism, More Variety

The Olympics are coming.

As a sports fan, I like watching sports, but I am not a fan of how NBC broadcasts the events.

A brief historical lesson first:

When I was much younger, there was a program on Saturday afternoons called ABC’s Wide World of Sports.  They showed events from all over the world.

“Spanning the globe to bring you the best of athletic competition.  The thrill of victory…the agony of defeat.”

Jim McKay introduced each episode with those words.

And they showed a wide range of events.

Barrel jumping.




Of course, the most memorable is ski-jumping.  Most people remember the footage of the ski jumper wiping out as McKay intones,”the agony of defeat.”

The important part of it for me was that they showed a wide variety of international competitors.  It was really interesting stuff.

Somewhere in the intervening years, the Olympic broadcast became a flag waving, “USA USA USA “chanting, red white and blue production. I don’t like it.

Did I like the USA hockey team beat the Russians in Lake Placid?  You bet I did.  But that just happened.  It wasn’t preordained.  Nobody saw it coming.  That was what made it so cool.

Let the events play out.

The Olympics is about people from all over the world pursuing a dream they have to compete against the best in their field.

I will stick with gymnastics for my examples here.

Remember Olga Korbut?  Smiling on the balance beam.

Nadia Comaneci ? 14 years old.

They went from unknown to world famous in just a few days.  Neither one from the U.S.A.

These days I am not sure how much coverage they would get. And that is the problem.  I want NBC to just show the events with out the nationalistic slant.  Give credit to all the athletes.  Stop trying to bend the narrative to fit with the preconceived vision for the broadcast .

You don’t believe me?  Imagine if the USA Men’s basketball team doesn’t make to the Gold Medal game, the game will be shown on Spike TV.

And while they are at it, stop with the long biographies.  EVERY athlete has challenges to get where they are, just show them competing.

I would also like to see countries stop going into massive debt just to host these games.  We have to figure out a more practical approach.  Maybe a permanent site.

Well, enough of that.

One last thing, blog related, I have added a blogroll to the right of this post.  They are the reason I continue to write here. I enjoy each and every one of those blogs and you would too.  Give them a look if you would and let them know you heard about them here. I would appreciate that very much.



Friday Potpourri Vol. 13

I wasn’t going to do one of these today, but the opportunity to have Vol.13 on the 13th was irresistible.

Amy at @lucysfootball tried to help me figure out how to link to those of you that I refer to here. I have been fooling with it for a while and it might be a little longer before that happens.  She gave wonderful directions.  I am just a little slow at learning new stuff on the computer.  She offered to walk me through it, but it is almost 2:00 in the morning.  I am not going to send out a Twitter alert for something like this.

While I am talking about her, she has a book of poetry coming out Aug. 1st.  Out Of True is the name of it. The cover is beautiful.  @lahikmajoe took the photo that adorns the front of the book.  I can not wait to buy a copy and I have NEVER said that about a book of poetry.

In other news, there is a week long event that emphasizes how difficult it can be to get by on food stamps.  @joshmalina  is a celebrity who is trying it out .  I don’t think you get the full effect of how hard it can be to make the money stretch and still try to eat healthy in one week, but I like that he and others are trying it.  I know I have said it before, if you make the decision-makers live on minimum wage or on a food assistance program for an extended length of time maybe they would see just how devastating their actions or inactions can be for average folks.

Sunday, if you are in my former hometown, Kevin Costner and his band Modern West are appearing at the Allen County Fairgrounds.  700 tickets have been purchased so far. He must be serious about this music thing.  Fort Wayne isn’t exactly a destination  for musicians.

Finally, there was a lot of talk on Twitter about a comedian and his run-in with an audience member.

The comedian is Daniel Tosh.  He was telling a series of jokes on the topic of rape.  I guess he was trying to prove that anything can be a source of humor.  A woman in the audience took exception to the run  of jokes and said so to him, interrupting the act.  As she gathered her things to leave, he doubled down on his concept and suggested it would be funny “if five guys assaulted her right now.”

My first reaction was:  Why would anyone go to a comedy club to watch him?  He is aggressively unfunny.  No matter what the topic. And I don’t think rape is a topic for humor.  Also, his reaction to her was so far from what anyone could consider appropriate.

As these things unfold on Twitter, sides were taken.

He was within his rights to say what he did to her.

She was right to call him out.

Comedians have to push the envelope.

He has free speech rights.

This last one was the one I didn’t buy at all.   If it is a matter of free speech, doesn’t she have free speech rights as well?  I think booing would have been fine.  In his case, mandatory.

Anyway, he got to be a trending topic for a day which probably made him happy. Free publicity.

Well, that is all I have for this post.

I have to study putting links in the blog.

And don’t forget Amy’s book is coming out Aug. 1st.

Out Of True

A book of poetry on your coffee table or your book shelves will look fantastic.  Christmas stocking stuffer.

Seriously, she is realizing a dream that all writers have.  To see their writing in book form.

Congrats, Amy!






Weekend Potpourri

Sorry about the length of time between posts.  It has just been too damn hot to think.  Not that much of that goes on here at the Bellbottom Blog.

How was the Fourth where you were at?  We watched the different fireworks shows on TV instead of going out, because of the aforementioned heat.

When I was a youngster, we lived in a two-story house with a small back porch on the second floor.  On the Fourth, we could go out on that rickety thing and watch the fireworks display.  We were about two miles away, so the low ones were not easy to see.  But the large ones could be seen very well.

My favorite tweet about the holiday went something like this,(I didn’t write it, but I can’t find who did)

” People who set off fireworks on the fifth have a favorite wrestler.”

With the drought conditions in my state, we didn’t have to deal with too many neighbors setting off fireworks.  Almost all of the counties have a burn ban in place and the ban extended to personal fireworks as well.

In other news, @chancerubbage pointed out something interesting about the big soda ban debate.  I am sure you have heard about the tiny Mayor of New York wanting to limit all soda cups to 16 oz.  @chancerubbage did some research and found that if you buy a 32 oz. cup of pop, it contains at least 16 oz. of ice.   Makes the argument kind of pointless, doesn’t it? So, a 16 oz. cup would be 8 oz. of pop.  And would still cost $1.79, I imagine.

(Note to self, you really have to learn the art of linking names to their blog or Twitter account)

(I know you promised these people low-tech, but come on.)

In celebrity news, Andy Griffith and Ernest Borgnine died this week.

Everybody has taken a shot at what Mayberry meant to them.  My favorite character was Otis , the town drunk. Floyd the barber gave me the creeps.  I liked it well enough.  Barney’s speech about bud-nippin’ has always held a special place in my heart.

Barney: “Andy, you ask any expert on child raising and they will tell you they are in favor of bud-nippin’. Gotta nip it…”

Andy:”…in the bud.”

McHale’s Navy was completely different.  Kinda loud.  Usually funny, at least before they transferred to Germany. In the Pacific, they always sunk the same two submarines.  Over and over.  Tim Conway and Joe Flynn were the best part of the show.

I would talk about Tom and Katie but it makes @debihen sad so I won’t.

Did I mention how hot it has been?

We are so glad our vacation happened just before someone turned the heat up.

Ringo Starr turned 72 this week.  72.  He is the last person who still flashes the peace sign everywhere he goes.  Which makes him the Bellbottom Blog’s favorite drummer.  Because of how we end each post.



P.S. I promised not to write about politics here, but I find my resolve weakening.  If any of you wants to hear the rantings of a guy who has followed politics all of his life, let me know.  I might do just one to get it out of my system.  I could make another blog like some do, but let’s face it, I am barely able to do this one right.






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