#bloganuary: Breakfast of Champions!

From the East Coast Business office in Framingham, Massachusetts, here’s today’s prompt: Write about what makes you feel strong.

Hmmm… I’m not sure that anything does these days. I mean, I’m handicapped, so I’m limited in what I can do. Maybe I need to eat my Wheaties…

The woman hosting Ding Dong School was Frances Horwich, who had a Master’s in Education from Columbia and her Doctorate in Education from Northwestern. At the time she was invited to audition for the job, she was the head of the Education Department at Roosevelt College (now Roosevelt University) in Chicago. Wikipedia tells us that she was an experienced nursery school teacher, but had little experience with television, none of which included working to a classroom with no kids in it. She was scared, but auditioned and won the part, and agreed to give it a try. The show started as a local children’s show on WNBQ-TV (now WMAQ-TV) in 1952 and won a Peabody Award, so they made it a weekday show that went out across the NBC Television Network in 1953. She was named Head of Children’s Television for NBC in 1954, and moved to New York in 1955. Sadly, the show was canceled in 1956 to make room for The Price Is Right.

What that has to do with me feeling strong, I don’t know, but I’m sure Dr. Horwich felt strong when her career in TV took off.

We used to eat Wheaties, and as I remember they weren’t very tasty. I much preferred the taste of Cheerios…

Remember the shitstorm that ensued after that was shown? Some people didn’t just see it as a little girl asking her mother if Cheerios is good for her father’s heart, and the hilarity that ensues when the father wakes up from his nap finding himself covered in Cheerios. Some people couldn’t see past the fact that the little girl had a White mother and a Black father. I mean, this is 2022, and mixed-race marriage and children are common. Some saw it as a way to force people to accept interracial marriage as more desirable than marriage between two people of the same race. I saw it as a way to use an adorable child actress in a commercial.

I’m feelin’ pretty strong right now…

#bloganuary: These Dreams

Today’ss prompt, from the International Sales Office in Lagos, Nigeria: Write about a dream you remember.

My dreams really don’t make a whole lot of sense. Since the stroke, they’re very vivid and I don’t remember them well. About the best I can do is this:

My dreams lately have taken place in a cubicle farm, where I know everyone even though I’ve met few of them, if anyone. Outside the cubicle farm is a store of some kind, maybe a grocery store or a drug store, maybe even a convenience store where I buy Dr Pepper and Benson & Hedges Menthol cigarettes (even though I quit smoking years ago, and don’t remember smoking Benson & Hedges Menthols). Occasionally I’m asked to join a meeting, in an office with a broken toilet in the corner. If I have to go to the bathroom at some point, the urinals are these amazing contraptions that can do many things, although I just relieve myself in them. There are signs on the wall that explain the functioning of the urinals, which I don’t bother reading because I don’t need any other function.

In other words, just a typical day in my head.

#bloganuary: Interview With Blake Stephenson

Blake Stephenson.

The young man you see here is Blake Stephenson. He is the star of a story I’ve been writing for years, and might one day actually finish, Redheaded Stepchild. Blake is a freshman in high school, originally at St. Ignatius College Prep in Chicago. However, his single mother is killed by a hit-and-run driver a week before the start of Christmas vacation, and he has to move to Atlanta to live with his Aunt Betty and Uncle Don (he calls them that, even though they’re no real relation), their two daughters, Rachel, who’s the exact same age (14) as Blake (he’s twenty minutes older) and Chloe, who’s 11 (and hasn’t warmed up to him yet), and their cranky white Persian cat, Snowball (who came with the house and no one has the courage to tell her to leave). Today’s Bloganuary prompt, from corporate headquarters in Lodi, New Jersey, is "Interview a fictional character," and Blake will be my subject.

How is everything going, Blake?

You sure you want to know? Okay…

It’s real different here. I mean, it was just Mom and I, and now I’m living with a whole family, including Aunt Betty, who wants to act like my mother. Even Mom didn’t act like my mother. Mom was real hands-off; Aunt Betty is real hands-on, and she’s driving me nuts. Then you have Rachel, who I’m older than, but she looks 16 and I look 12. She’s always hanging around with her cheerleader friends…

That’s like a dream come true, isn’t it?

(shakes his head) Yeah, they’re cute, but they’re actually pretty obnoxious, and they NEVER. SHUT. UP. Uncle Don is pretty cool, mostly because he doesn’t feel outnumbered by women and girls anymore. He’s actually kind of funny, because he can get away with saying the things I want to. I sorta-kinda get along with Chloe, who hates me…

Aren’t you exaggerating things just a little bit?

John, she actually said "I hate you."


Yeah, "oh." At least she doesn’t try to make me over, like Aunt Betty and Rachel. They want me to get contact lenses and braces, and I don’t need braces and I don’t want either…

Oh, and there’s Snowball. My first night here, I woke up and she’s lying on top of me. Uncle Don says that’s because I’m sleeping in "her" bed. She scratched me up pretty bad when I tried to move her. And Chloe, who’s the only person that actually gets along with her, gives me the stink-eye whenever she sees the cat in with me. Like I tell her to get in bed with me…

Have you started school yet?

Yeah. It’s really different than St. Ignatius. They don’t offer Russian, which I was taking, so I have to take French….

Don’t they offer Spanish?

Yeah, and Rachel’s taking it. She’d be in my class if I took it. So I’m taking French. Then, there was this whole mess with Math. Since I took Algebra in eighth grade, St. Ignatius had me taking Algebra II. I get here, and they want me to take Geometry, which I’ve already missed half a year of. We finally got that all hammered out, but I get weird looks from the juniors in Algebra II, mostly because I’m doing better than them.

Are you making any friends?

Sort of. Not that it’s that big a deal.

Well, give it time.

Yeah, okay. I just want to draw, play the guitar, and be left alone, and it’s not like that’s going to happen. I feel like I’m in a fishbowl. I try to practice guitar and I’ve always got an audience, even when I don’t want one. I’ve had to lock up my sketchpads because I keep catching Rchel or Aunt Betty going through them, and I’ve got pictures I’d rather they not see in there…

Oh, all right. Well, thanks for talking with me.

Yeah, OK. (his phone rings, and he looks at it) Ah crap, not her again. They got me a cellphone when I moved here, which I didn’t want, and Rachel gave the number to all her friends, so it’s always ringing, and if I don’t answer, they call Rachel, and she comes down and bitches me out for not answering…

#bloganuary: Words of Wisdom From The Bard of Baltimore

Today’s prompt, from the winter office in Hancock/Houghton, Michigan: What is your favorite quote and why?

H. L. Mencken at his curmudgeonly best. I think we all know people like this, who assume that because something is better at one thing, it’ll be better at everything.

I was in Singapore a few years ago, and one day at lunch I bought a can of Bandung, which is a mix of rose syrup and evaporated milk. I figured it can’t be that bad. It was. But I drank it anyway. Live and learn…

#bloganuary: High School Days

New Trier West High School, Northfield, Illinois, My alma mater

From the main vault in Monroe, Louisiana comes today’s question: If you could, what year would you time travel to and why?

I’d set the time machine for July 1, 1971. That was right after we moved to Northfield, Illinois and a couple of months before I was to start my sophomore year as a transfer student at New Trier West High School. The reason for this is simple: I would want to help my younger self do a better job of getting through that transitional year. I didn’t do such a good job of it: I was cocky, thought I was God’s gift to women, drank too much soda, smoked too much, and wasted a lot of time dreaming about being a great guitarist rather than doing the woodshedding and actually becoming a great guitarist. It was all in my power, and what can I say? I blew it. I’d like to go back and fix it. I realize that one shouldn’t screw with history, but as I said in a recent post, that wouldn’t stop me.