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Published on August 13, 2014 by in Uncategorized

You never feel stupider than when you think someone else is being stupid, and you’re the stupid one.

When the boys were still living at home I took them to a Snip and Clip to get haircuts. I told the receptionist we wanted three haircuts and a beard trim.

“Names please.”

“Marvin, Joel, and Glenn.”

“Which one gets the beard trim?” She asked.

“I do,” I replied.

When we were outside waiting, I commented that she was mighty dumb not to recognize that only one of us had a beard.

“Dad,” one of them said, “She wanted to know the name of the one who got the beard trim.”


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Published on August 7, 2014 by in Uncategorized

It is disturbing when you first discover your children are smarter than you are. I don’t know when the realization fully hit me, but one event stands out.

When the boys were about seven and four, we were playing together in the back yard when Becky called us in for dinner. We headed to the bathroom to wash up, and Glenn, then about four, came up behind me and said, “Boo!”

“Did I scare you Daddy.”


“Why not?”

“Well I knew you were right behind me.”

“But I wasn’t right behind you.”

“Well, I knew you were following me.”

“But I wasn’t following you.”

By this time we were in the bathroom. He was standing on a stool in front of me and we were both washing our hands. I was watching his face in the mirror.

“Look,” I said, “In order to scare someone you have to surprise them. I know you were somewhere near and I wasn’t surprised therefore I wasn’t scared. Now I’m not going to argue with you.”

“Yes you are.”

“No! I’m not!”

I’ll never forget the look of triumph on his face.

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The Cat In The Tree (Yet another story)

Published on August 6, 2014 by in Uncategorized

The Cat in the Tree

When I was in law school at the University of Kansas we lived in a one-room school house in the country north of Lawrence. The school house, which had once been known as Knowledge Hill School, had been converted into a residence, and sat atop a hill with no neighbors insight. Although we had no air conditioning, there was an attic fan, and with the windows open we could sleep fairly well even on the warmest nights.

One of the reasons we had chosen KU for law school what that my parents lived nearby, in Rantoul Kansas, and we could visit them regularly. One day when we started home from the folks  house, my Mom handed a pillowcase through the window of the car. It contained a cat, and although Mom denied that she was aware of it, the cat was pregnant!

Since Becky is allergic to cats, we made a nice box for pregnant Ginger in a small shed just outside our bedroom window. As nature went on its catty way, one morning, before I went to class I found six newborn kittens in a hub cap in the shed. No sign of Ginger.

“Ah well,” I thought. “Just as well. We don’t need any more cats, and without a mother they couldn’t survive anyway.” But once I got into town, I started dreading finding six cold kittens in a hubcap when I got home. I skipped class, went to our vet and got a nursing bottle and a formula. When I got home the tiny kittens were still alive, and there was still no sign of Ginger. One by one I picked up the kittens and fed them.

Strange as it seems, we managed to raise all six cats to weaning size. We made a bed for them in the utility room and when we walked in there all six would start meowing and climbing our legs. Since, unlike mama cat, we could only feed one at a time, five would be unhappy while number six got dinner. I don’t think Becky was too happy with my decision to try to bottle feed six kittens, but since she had been part of the conspiracy to acquire Ginger, she couldn’t say much, and to her credit, she dutifully took her turn with nursing duty.

Not long after the litter was weaned, Becky evicted them from the utility room, and we returned them to the shed where they were born. All afternoon we watched them do their kittenish thing, and as night fell they settled in nicely into their box in the shed. Or so we thought.

We had no sooner turned out the light when it began; meow, meow, meow, meow, meOOW. One of the darn kittens was up in the tree right outside our window. “I can’t go to sleep with that going on!” declared Becky.

I got up, wearing what I was born in, and got the big six-volt flashlight. “Are you going to get dressed?” my spouse wanted to know. “Why should I?” I replied. “Now shine that light up in the tree so I can see where the little beggar is.” She obliged, and grabbing a low branch, I swung myself into the tree.

Immediately, the light disappeared.

“Hey!” I said. “What happened to the damn light?”

“I’m not going to shine the light on you naked up there.”

“I can’t get the kitten if you don’t shine the light up here.”

After a brief discussion she reluctantly redirected the light to the tree, and I retrieved the kitten.

We got settled back in bed and Becky started laughing. “You looked like a cross between Moby Dick and Tarzan.” She said.

I’m sure I did.

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Seeing Eye to Eye (Another Story)

Published on August 5, 2014 by in Uncategorized

Seeing Eye to Eye

Like most men my age, I registered for the draft. I never doubted I would serve, but I was in no hurry to do so. I waited until my number came up, then just before I was to report for my Army physical, I enlisted in the Air Force.

Army Inductees only had a two year commitment and volunteers in the other branches had four. But I reasoned that if I was in the Army I might be in the infantry, and if I was in the infantry there might be a war. (This was 1963; after Korea and before Viet Nam.) If I was in the infantry and there was a war, someone might shoot at me. In addition, most of the jobs in the Air Force looked like they would be indoors. I enlisted.

Basic training then, as now, was at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. The barracks were old and had two bays, one upstairs and one down. I had a bunk in the upstairs bay. I don’t remember for sure, but I think there was only one bathroom, and it was upstairs.

Our TI, as the Air Force calls its drill instructors was Sgt. Bob LaFrance. He was a short man, and talked with a distinctive accent. Part of the discipline of TIs was to invade our space. It was pretty much how you see it in the movies. Because he was so short, most of the time all we would see of Sgt. LaFrance was the top of his head as he stood toe to toe with us to criticize our shave or our uniform or whatever TIs do to instill discipline into young Airmen.

Mornings while we were shaving he would come into the bathroom, stand right behind us and say, “Yew better Mewve,” or “Yew better get a Mewve on!”  Because he was so short, and because he stood so close behind us, we couldn’t see him in the mirror.

A couple of us had Sgt. LaFrance’s accent down pat, and we derived great joy from approaching a fellow recruit from behind, bending our knees so we were about mid back and saying, “Yew better get a Mewve on!”

I’ll never forget the day when I was doing my best Sgt. LaFrance imitation in the bathroom, and I heard behind me, “Yew better get a mewve on tew!” Knees still bent I whirled around to meet Sgt. LaFrance eye to eye for the first time.

The look on my face must have been priceless. He turned on his heel and ran from the bathroom and into his office. I’m pretty sure he was laughing.

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Published on August 4, 2014 by in Uncategorized

I love telling stories, and have quite a few of them. After I told a recent story to Dewy Mohler, a friend of mine, he said, “Marvin you ought to write a book.” So I decided, why not. I have reduced several of my favorite stories to writing, and when I have enough, I will try to publish them; probably self publish.

But, this is where you come in. I am going to publish these stories first here on my blog, and I invite your feedback.

So, without further ado, one of my favorite stories:

Cat Piss

While I was in law school, we lived in a converted school house near Lawrence. My parents lived on a small farm near Ottawa. We visited them often.

On one visit, my wife, children and mother conspired to give us a pregnant cat. In another story I have told how we raised a litter of kittens, and how I rescued one of them from a tree.

We kept two of the kittens, and as kittens will, they grew into cats. One, a black female, we named Bagheera, and the tiger striped male we named Shere Kahn. (We had read Jungle Book to the kids and watched the movie several times.)

Shere Kahn was a very large tom.

Since Becky is allergic to cats and since we lived in the country, the cats were outside cats. Shere Khan and I became pretty good friends. We fed them on the roof of a small shed in the yard, and if I invited him. Shere Khan would step from the roof to my shoulders and ride around the yard. Like I said we were buds.

While I was in law school at the University of Kansas, Becky was working on campus. As a general rule we would drive into campus together, I would spend the day at the law school while she worked, then we would drive home again together. Occasionally, however, I went home during the day.

On this particular day, I was at home and, not surprisingly, almost let time get away from me. I hated being late to pick Becky up. She was working so I could be in school, and it seemed the least I could do would be to pick her up on time. In a rush I leapt into the car, realized I had left some essential in the house, and, leaving he car door open ran in to retrieve it. Back into the car, and I was on my way.

Suddenly I saw movement in the rear view mirror. Shere Khan was on the rear window ledge, his eyes  big as saucers. I spoke to him and, seeking comfort, he came and draped himself across my shoulders. It was then I felt a warm sensation down my back, and I was suddenly seated in a pool of warm cat piss.

I don’t know that I had ever smelled tomcat piss before. Any house cats we had had while I was growing up had either been females or neutered males. Shere Khan was a big tom cat with, as I discovered, a huge bladder. The car reeked. I didn’t have time to return home to deposit the cat and change clothes, and I was afraid to open a window for fear he would jump out. I drove bravely on. When we arrived on campus I was afraid to open the window for fear the order emanating from my car would be obvious to everyone. So Shere Khan and I sat.

The good news: I was on time to pick up my wife. The bad: We had to ride home in that car.

Well, what do you think. Please let me know. And just in case you like it too much. It is hereby copyrighted, 2014.

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Dealing With Your Elders

Published on July 22, 2014 by in Words of Wisdom

Several weeks ago, I wrote a couple of blog posts addressed to my aging peers. You can read the most popular one here. Today I want to address aging from a different perspective: The attitudes and actions of others toward us, your aging friends and family. This will undoubtedly be a rant.

  • Never, never, never refer to anyone as so many years young. First it’s stupid, “years young” has no real meaning. Second it implies that there is something wrong with being “so many” years old. There isn’t. Being 70 or 80 or 90 years old is a good thing. It means one has lived long enough to have had great experiences and gained wisdom. Don’t denigrate that by saying some one is 85 years young.
  • Don’t, don’t, don’t address us as “sweetie” or “honey” or “darlin'” unless we are your spouse, child or lover. In other words unless you would use those terms with us if we hadn’t achieved the age we have achieved. This is particularly offensive when it is a member of  the opposite sex. When you call me by an affectionate term you wouldn’t call a stranger, you are assuming I’m safe; that I won’t see it as a come on. Well, that’s just wrong. What would a young woman say if the grocery checker referred to her as “sweetie.” She might slap him. In my opining the grandma should too.
  • You don’t have to shout when you talk to us. . . . Well wait, maybe you do.
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Jury Duty

Published on June 17, 2014 by in Uncategorized

Yesterday, I was called for jury duty, and I dutifully appeared. After a whole day of voir dire, I was one of the first peremptory challenges. I knew I would be. I always am. Attorneys just don’t like to have attorneys, even former attorneys on juries.

That is fine, I suppose, but I wonder why I had to sit through all of the process when both attorneys and the judge knew there was no way I would be on the panel.

Now I could have avoided it. There was a general question, “Is there anyone here who, for any reason, thinks they couldn’t be a fair and impartial juror?” If I had answered “Yes,” I would have been dismissed. My second opportunity came when I answered affirmatively to the question “Have any of you ever been involved in criminal defense?” Followed by, “Do you think you could give this defendant an fair trial?” Again I answered “Yes.”

So, since I knew I would be excused from participation in this trial anyway, why not get out early?

Well, I had taken an oath to answer honestly, and I honestly believe, firmly believe, that I could be a fair and impartial juror. So the only way to avoid spending a fruitless day of jury selection would be to lie.

I couldn’t do that.

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Pow Tunes

Published on March 14, 2014 by in Uncategorized

I have discovered a fun resource: Pow Toon. I can fully recommend it and, it’s free! It takes a few minutes to get the hang of it, but once you do, it’s fun and you can create some interesting videos. Even I can. Check out the links to my offerings on You Tube:

Difficult Conversations

Keynote speech,

and finally, a resume”

You should try it.

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10 Things to Remember When Everything Seems to Go Wrong

Published on March 3, 2014 by in Words of Wisdom

Sometimes you run across something that is so well put, you couldn’t have said it better yourself. That is the case with the recent post post by Paul Hudson.

It is so important, and so beautifully said, that I’m just going to post the link here. You really need to read it.

Thank you Paul.

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Tell Somebody

Last Saturday night after a Laugh Lines performance, I was leaving the theatre when a young woman acquaintance approached me.

“Marvin I just want to tell you how much I enjoy your performances,” She began. Then she elaborated on why she enjoyed them and what she enjoyed about them.

Wow! I left the teatatre walking on air.

Now, I am pretty self assured most of the time, and I suppose when I’m not, I’m fooling people. But like everyone else, I need and love validation.

It’s interesting that just the night before, I had commented to a fellow actor on how much I enjoyed her performance in a play. I not only told her I enjoyed it but also give some details about why I liked it. The look on her face as she listened made my day.

I think we go through life admiring and respecting those around us but we never bother to tell them. Oh, we are quick to note failures and mistakes, but we don’t routinely comment on successes.

In Laugh2Learn’s improv training sessions, we always end with an exercise in giving and receiving praise. When we debrief the exercise people always comment on how much joy they receive from both receiving, and perhaps more importantly giving praise.

So today, make it a point to tell that person you admire that you admire him or her. Tell them why.

You will both feel better.


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