Thursday, November 25, 2010

Look Out, Turkey

In Jerry Kramer’s Farewell to Football, the author describes a gridiron invention claimed by his fellow guard Fuzzy Thurston. The Green Bay Packers were thrashed by the Detroit Lions in a contest on Thanksgiving Day, 1962. One reason for the beating was a lack of effective pass blocking, especially by guards Kramer and Thurston.

The Lions sacked quarterback Bart Starr 11 times, a league record. After the debacle, Thurston joked that he and Kramer had invented the “lookout” block. He said throughout the game the guards would make unsuccessful attempts to block charging opponents, and then yell, “Look out, Bart.”

Well, maybe Thurston and Kramer launched the first lookout blocks in the National Football League, but they certainly were not the first players to use the term. A pair of high school gridders practiced a version of the “lookout” 10 years earlier.

In 1952, I played right guard and my pal Gordy Newborg was the right tackle for the Tomahawk Hatchets, a Wisconsin high school team somewhat less renowned than the Packers, and not nearly as fearsome as its name implies. Newborg intensely disliked one of our halfbacks. I wasn’t too fond of the guy, either. During most practice scrimmages, the back usually managed to infuriate Newborg and antagonize me in one way or another.

When that happened, Newborg nudged me as we broke the huddle after the halfback’s number was called. He whispered, “Let “em in.” We would fake blocks, turn, and yell, “Lookout.” The “play” usually resulted in two hefty defensemen bashing our mouthy halfback before he could get under way.

Hair-splitters may claim that the ineffective Klade-Newborg blocks were intentional, and therefore not the same as the Kramer-Thurston “lookouts.” That’s true. If the Packers had known of the Tomahawk play, perhaps they would have yelled, “Sorry, Bart; Lookout,” to better define their modification of our invention.

One thing’s for sure, they didn’t yell, “Happy Thanksgiving,” but that’s my shout to you today.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

In Grateful Memory

Sp. Shane Ahmed (U.S. Army), 31, Chesterfield Township, Michigan. Killed November 14 in Afghanistan. Buried today at Fort Custer National Cemetery.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Practice What You . . .

Only two restaurants within a five-mile radius of our home provide what we would consider fairly elegant dining. Establishments offering fast-food and down-home meals abound.

One of the latter, a “Big Boy,” is a favorite of the locals. It features hearty fare and generous portions at reasonable prices. We go there sometimes when I get an overwhelming urge to forsake my usual healthy morning stuff for a traditional bacon and eggs breakfast. The “Big Boy” crew excels at whipping up tasty breakfast dishes.

During our visits, we have noticed an unusually large number of mature adults among the clientele. Not all are there for breakfast; our observations of order deliveries indicate great variety in what the elder diners consume.

During our latest visit, Sandy reminded me of a recent post (Oct. 7, “Ya Gotta Know When to Play ‘Em) advising readers not to be bashful about requesting discounts. She asked if “Big Boy” offered any. I confessed I’d never asked, but said I was sure they did not. “Ask anyway,” Sandy advised me in one of those wifely tones that is not to be ignored.

When our waitress stopped by, I said, “I’ve noticed a lot of old people in here. Any chance you have senior discounts?”

That got a giggle as she appeared to quickly correlate her estimate of my age with my comment about older customers. It also got a surprise positive response. “You belong to the Big Boy Seniors Club, don’t you?”

“What’s that?”

“Oh, club members get a punch card. Every time you have a meal here we stamp your card. When the card is full after ten visits, the next meal is free.”

Assuming geezers last long enough to make it to ten meals, that sounded like a 10 per cent discount to me. Ten per cent reductions are among my favorites.

The restaurant manager was working the cash register that day. “What do I have to do to get a senior punch card?” I asked.

“Hold out your hand,” he said.

“Can each of us have one?”

He plopped Sandy’s card on top of the one he had placed in my palm. Both were stamped with the date.

It’s a good idea to ask about discounts—and it’s not a bad idea to practice what you preach.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In Grateful Memory

Pfc. Shane M. Reifert (U.S. Army), 23, Marine City, Michigan. Killed in an attack in Afghanistan, November 6, 2010.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Commander Salutes Some of Us

The national commander of the American Legion, Jimmie L. Foster, is:

a. An expert at flip-flopping.

b. A man with a very short memory.


c. A blatant liar.

Just in time for Veteran’s Day 2010, my local paper published a lengthy letter from Foster under the headline “American Legion Strives to Represent All Veterans.”

Headlines sometimes misrepresent stories they introduce; however, in the fifth paragraph of his letter, Foster said, “. . . from its inception, the Legion always has maintained that a veteran is a veteran.”


As the Geezer pointed out last Veteran’s Day (11/12/09 and 11/16/09 Posts), the Legion denies membership to several million honorably discharged veterans because they did not serve during the Legion’s definitions of “wartime.” I am one of those. My two years of honorable service (1958-1960) in the U.S. Army don’t mean a thing to the American Legion. Neither would 20 years of service by a Marine whose enlistment ended on Dec. 6, 1941. How ridiculous is that?

Was I not exposed to danger when men in my unit were returning from service as “advisors” in Laos and Cambodia, even though officially we were not at war in Southeast Asia? I could have been sent just as they were. One sergeant in my unit gave a speech at a class I attended in which he described how he directed artillery fire onto the Chinese mainland. When’s the last time we were at war with China? Was my hypothetical pre-World War II vet never at risk during two decades of service in which he pledged to serve his country however and wherever he was ordered to do so?

Perhaps Foster just forgot the facts for a moment. Two paragraphs later, he said, “If you honorably served our country during wartime (emphasis added), you have a home in the Legion, period.”

Hum, he must suddenly have remembered the Legion’s membership rules. Or, more likely, he knew them all along and just tossed in the corrected definition because the thrust of his message was not to reconcile with veterans like me who the Legion sees as “second class,” but to try to recruit women and minority “wartime” vets, whom the Legion tended to ignore for many years.

Foster could spearhead a drive to correct the injustice of the irrelevant dates of service restrictions. Because the Legion is suffering significant membership declines, such an effort by the organization’s leader would have a high chance of success. Don’t count on him doing that. Many Legionnaires, some of whom served much of their active duty time in the Officer’s Club, are not eager to have their heroic images sullied by allowing any second-class vets into their club now.

Foster concluded his letter with the final insult to what the Legion perceives to be second-class veterans:

“On this Veterans Day, let us thank God for the gift of freedom made possible by those who served our nation with honor, courage, and commitment in our armed forces during all wars (my emphasis; he uses the Legion’s definitions here, no doubt, again ignoring the Cold War period) that enabled so many of them to earn that coveted title of an ‘American veteran.’”

How nice of him to imply that we “peacetime” vets are not veterans at all and did not serve with honor, courage, or commitment. Whatever Foster is, a., b., c. or something else, I will not salute him today. But I will salute ALL my fellow veterans, regardless of gender, color, or dates of service.

Thank you for your honorable service, my comrades.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Who’s Team?

Claims by Dallas Cowboys’ fans supported by many television announcers that the Texas club is “America’s Team” long have rankled Green Bay Packers’ fans.

We think our 100,000 stockholders spread across the nation entitle us to that title. We also think many more people in many places without an ownership stake root for the Green and Gold week after week, seeing our heros as the classic small-town guys up against the big-city slickers.

The fact that the Cowboys have notched so many victories against the Packers rankles even more. It just didn’t seem fair that our hired guns were out maneuvered so often by theirs, and it happened more than once in recent years when playoff advancement was at stake.

Sandy and I have not been south of the border for some time, but we once were frequent visitors. Cowboys’ uniform replica shirts and t-shirts were everywhere. Mexican youths seldom were seen in clothing featuring Packers’ insignia. We never met a Packers’ stockholder in Mexico, except for fellow tourists.

It’s doubtful the situation has changed much, although there probably are some residual green and gold number 4’s still hanging around in Cabo, Cozumel, and points in between. Most Packers’ fans have disowned that guy, anyway, so shirts honoring Old No. 4 shouldn't count.

After Sunday night’s 45-7 thrashing in Green Bay of the boys from Texas is it fair to say “America’s Team” finally crushed “Mexico’s Team?”

How sweet it was.

Thursday, November 04, 2010


It was a clean sweep. Not a single Cocktail Party candidate prevailed in Tuesday’s elections. This was not the stunning setback some may think. The party did not back any candidates.

Never fear. The Cocktail Party (see 8/5/2010 Post, "Coffee, Tea, or . . . ) is merely saving its ammunition for the big one—Campaign 2012. The presidential race started about five minutes after the polls closed in most places and even earlier in some places.
We believe millions of those eligible voters who failed to exercise one of the great privileges of American citizenship and did not bother to cast a ballot in the midterm election include many closet Cocktail Partiers who heeded this wisdom from Kin Hubbard:

“We’d all like to vote for the best man, but he’s never a candidate.”

The Cocktail Party will rectify this situation as we plod toward November 2, 2012. We will develop a strong slate of candidates. Along the way, we will be staking out positions on important matters in words that cannot possibly be misunderstood.

We will create some unique proposals, but also borrow thoughts from others just as we lifted the Hubbard quotation for a website titled “Time Goes By.” We may or may not credit those we steal ideas from.

We expect to glean very few useful thoughts from current members of Congress or those who belong to other political parties.