Blind Mumbling

A compilation of writings that never got anyone excited.

Location: N. Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, United States

Former teacher, co-editor of Total Football and the author of more than 20 books and over 200 articles, most about sports history. His credits include Pro Football: When the Grass Was Real, The Hidden Game of Football (with John Thorn and Pete Palmer), Baseball Between the Lies, The Importance of Napoleon, and the Battle of Stalingrad. He is presently Executive Director of the Pro Football Researchers Association.

Friday, December 30, 2005

The Day We Bombed the State

Robbie swore it was true. I wasn’t so sure. "Everyone knows about it," he said. That sounded convincing. If everyone knew about it, it must be true.

I wondered why no one ever used such a powerful explosive in any of the war movies we went to. Every week we watched movies at the State Theater about things that really happened in the war, things like Wake Island, Bataan, and Corregidor. Lots of Japanese airplanes and tanks got blown up, but no one ever made any explosions with this stuff. Why was that?

"Because it’s a secret!" Robbie yelped. "If they showed it in movies, everyone would know about it." I had to agree that made sense. "Besides," he added, "the explosion’s not THAT big. It’s not going to blow up the whole building, for Pete’s sake."

"How big is it? I don’t want to hurt anyone."

Robbie gave me his best are-you-crazy look. "With bubbles?" he asked. The idea was that millions of bubbles would erupt to fill a large part of the theater. Millions of bubbles would make a great explosion but wouldn’t hurt anyone. When I worried that the bottle might explode, he reminded me we were going to put the whole thing behind the drinking fountain down the hall from the entrance..

"Maybe we ought to test it first," I suggested.

"Fine!" Robbie said in disgust. "Do you have enough money to buy another coke to test with and still go to the movie?"

I agreed testing was a waste of time. By then we were a block away from the State Theater and could read the signboards. "Uh-oh," I said. "They’re showing a Lash LaRue western. I was hoping a Bob Steele."

"It doesn’t matter! We’re going for the explosion, not the movie." He pulled me into the doorway of a shoe store and told me it was time to hide the coke. "They won’t let us into the theater carrying a bottle of coke."

"Why can’t you take it?"

"I’ve got the aspirin," he explained.

"Well," I said, "I paid for the coke." He’d brought the aspirin from home. He didn’t have to pay for it. With the price of the movie, I was putting twenty-six cents into the plan compared to his sixteen to get him into the movie.

"All right," Robbie agreed. "You take half the bottle, and I’ll take half."

I gave up. Robbie put the coke in the small of my back, held there by my belt which he tightened so that I could barely breathe. I was afraid the bottle would slip out, so I walked up to the ticket booth slowly and very stiffly.

An usher stood just inside the door taking tickets. He gave me a curious look and asked "Are you okay? You’re not going to puke are you?"

"He’s fine," Robbie said. "He hurt his leg playing football."

The usher waved us through. "As long as he don’t puke."

"He ran for a touchdown," Robbie added. "He won the game."

We sat down front in the third row. There were only a couple of others in the audience. I was giggling. "How long was it?" I asked.

"How long was what?"

"My pretend touchdown run."

"Sixteen yards," he said without hesitation.

I was curious. Why sixteen?"

"When you make something up, always try to put in details you can remember easy. You paid sixteen cents to get into the movie. So if the movie usher asks you how long your touchdown was, you won’t have any trouble remembering. Now, who’d your team beat?"

"The La Rues," I said.

"No. That would make the usher suspicious. Why would the team and this movie have the same name?

"The Steelmen."

"That’s better," Robbie agreed.

We watched the movie for ten minutes. Lash LaRue used his whip to flick a six-gun away from a crook. Then it was time to place our bomb.

We went to the restroom where Robbie pried the lid off the coke. He took six aspirin out of his pocket. Suddenly I got an awful thought. "What if it goes off as soon as you put in the aspirin?"

"It’s supposed to take a while," he said.

"How long is a while?"

To give us the most getaway time, we waited until we were right next to the drinking fountain before we put in the aspirins. Robbie jammed the cap back on the bottle and wedged it between the fountain and the wall. Then we scurried back to our seats and waited for the bubbles.

Nothing happened after five minutes. We gave it five more minutes and then we went to the drinking fountain to have a look. The cap was loose on the bottle and there appeared to be a wet spot on the floor. Robbie held the bottle up to the light on the fountain to see if the aspirins were in there.

"You can’t have that in here!" The usher who’d taken our ticket at the door had come up quietly behind us. "It’s gotta go."

Robbie tipped up the bottle and chugged the whole coke.

"You better not puke," the usher said.

I told the usher my touchdown run went for sixteen yards and beat the – uh – Autrys.. He wasn’t impressed. He kicked us out.

On the street going home, Robbie complained that the coke and aspirin explosion was a big lie. "What if we were being chased by an enemy spy and the only way to escape was to blow him up?"

"Maybe it just hasn’t gone off yet," I suggested. "Maybe you should puke or maybe . . . ."

Robbie began walking home faster.

Friday, December 23, 2005


The main difference between America and England is that in this country spotted dick is a social desease.

A metaphor is saying someone is an asshole.
A simile is saying someone is like an asshole.
A facsimile is saying someone pretends to be an asshole.
A factsimile is saying someone is like an asshole when in fact he really is one.

When Pat Robertson dies it’ll prove God hates him.

Tom Delay translates as Tom of Lay; apparently one of his ancestors substituted the regular verb lay for the irregular lie.

People who say George W. Bush is the worst president ever are unfair; they are only counting the U.S. presidents.

Go practice aural sex. Stick it in your ear.

"My brother is a child psychologist."
"What will he be when he grows up?"

Scientists have discovered wasps can be trained to sniff out drugs. However, most scientists say they don’t get the same satisfaction out of saying, "Good wasp," while petting them.

Some object to "Happy Holidays" and want "Merry Christmas." I say compromise: "Merry Holidays."

Friday, December 16, 2005


As blue as the air in a marine barracks
As camouflaged as a blonde in a burka
As common as tattoos on porn stars
As faithful as a plain, fat girl
As hard as Chinese algebra
As high as a sherpa on meth
As low as a mole’s ankle bracelet
As polite as a mean kid before Christmas
As purple as a prince’s pajamas
As rare as a caucasian cornerback
As red as his face when he walked out of the Ladies Room
As shocking as an original speech by a football coach
As stupid as a carjacking on a ferry
As suggestve as wearing a condom in her hair
As unlikely as an anorexic linebacker

Friday, December 09, 2005


I’m sure anyone who ever stood shaking in front of an audience never forgot the first time. All those eyes watching. Judging!

My moment came at the Victoria Theater sixty years ago.

The Victoria was one of the lesser movie houses in town. Top movies with famous stars like William Powell and Veronica Lake played at the Capitol, Court, or Rex. So-called "B" movies – Roy Rogers westerns and Charlie Chan mysteries for example – could be seen at the State or Liberty. That left the "in-betweeners" and second-runs for the Vic. The Vic’s audience was often made up of movie goers who’d seen all the first-runs.

Toward the end of World War II, the Vic found a way to bring in an audience – Saturday morning cartoons. The idea was that working mothers with their husbands in the service could drop the kids off on a Saturday morning while they attended to shopping, getting their hair done, or just catching their breath. The Vic was the baby sitter.

Unfortunately, the Vic couldn’t find enough new cartoons to satisfy its Saturday morning audience. Watching Bugs outwit Elmer in exactly the same way he had done last week and the week before tended to bore the pre-pubescent.

To keep the kiddies happy during their internment, the Vic folks added a stage presentation – a weekly contest involving the kids themselves. If a kid was able to sign his name, he was old enough to compete. Midway through the cartoon program, the names of eight or ten kids were drawn and they were brought down on stage.

The contests changed each week. They usually involved stacking things, throwing things through hoops, or moving small objects from one place to another. While the contestants performed their tasks, the audience cheered. The winner got a prize – a candy bar.

When my name was called, my first thought was to stay in my seat so the other kids wouldn’t laugh at me. That made the other kids laugh at me. So I went down to the stage. The emcee lined eight of us across the stage and explained the contest to us.

Each of us was handed a baby bottle complete with a nipple. Each bottle was two-thirds full of orange soda. The emcee assured us that each bottle contained the same amount of orange. Our challenge was to drink the most orange through a nipple in thirty seconds.

I have to explain here that I knew what a nipple did. I was nine. In fact, I later discovered that I had been a "bottle baby" myself although I didn’t remember the experience. Nevertheless, I’d often seen babies with bottles when my mother or some other relative ordered me to "look at the baby!" Looking at babies was never very interesting, but I’d dutifully glanced at them. I knew what a nipple did, but I didn’t know how it did it. It never occurred to me to ask anybody to show me the way a nipple did what it did. What did I care? I was nine!

I realized that my moment at the Vic was the test for which all of my nine years had been preparing me. If I failed, my whole life for the next hundred years would be dogged by failure. My ignominy would be taught in school as a cautionary tale. Movies would be made – all comedies starring Bob Hope! They’d carve "Failed at the Vic" on my tombstone. I stood on that stage while a hundred or so kids watched, or, as I thought of it, while thousands of unflinching, venomous foes waited to jeer.

The emcee had us all kneel down. Up to there, I was fine. Then he said, "Go!"

I picked up my bottle and sucked. And sucked. And sucked! Nothing happened. I stared down my bottle. I could see it was still two-thirds full of orange. Beyond my bottle was the floor.

Wait! I suddenly became aware that the kids on either side of me had turned their bottles so the bottoms were up. Their orange was in the top of the bottles which was now at the bottom. Filling the nipples! Being sucked! Why hadn’t someone told me nipples worked that way! How could I be expected to understand the intricasies of hydraulics? I was nine!

I’d lost ten seconds, but I tipped up my bottle and sucked like crazy. Magically, my bottle’s orange level decreased.

Too soon the emcee called game. In the short time I’d had my bottle tipped up properly, I’d got to second place. There was no prize for second place. Not even a gum drop. Had I not lost the first ten seconds because they didn’t explain about nipples I would have won. Instead, every kid in that audience was looking at me and thinking, "He only finished second."

They say that early experiences influence you the rest of your life. No doubt that early embarrassment taught me to hold back from fully committing myself in future endeavors. For example, in later years, I did quite a bit of acting on our Little Theater stage. As an amateur actor, I was often praised. My performance as the Delivery Man in Dinner at the Gregson’s received a particularly fine review in the local newspaper.

But I always remembered how those Vic people tricked me. I always remained cautious and avoided full commitment. Surely that’s what kept me from jumping on a bus, going to Broadway, and becoming a star. Each year, when they pass out the Tony Awards, I always think, "There, but for a bottle of orange soda, go I."

Friday, December 02, 2005


Circumambient – being both left- and right-penised.
Circum Del Soliel – Wonderful Vegas show with full frontal nudity
Circumduction – being introduced to a bunch of naked guys
Circumference – subtle hint that a guy is Jewish.
Circumlocution – a speech by a moil.
Circumnavigate – not looking down while walking through a room full of naked people
Circumscribe – a Jewish stenographer of the male persuasion.
Circumspect – gender check
Circumstance – standing cross-legged while visiting your friend at the gay nudist camp.
Circumvent – an open fly.