Monday, May 25, 2009

Flying the colors at the Hall

Memorial Day was picture perfect Monday. Mr. and Mrs. Hall had spent the better part of the weekend sprucing up the landscaping and manicuring the lawn. As the Gentle Reader is no doubt aware, Master Christopher left early this year to make his mark in the service of the US Air Force, and young Master Ian is eagerly anticipating his graduation and entry into the US Marine Corp. Consequently, Penguin Hall is awash in patriotism this year. Planters were filled with red, white and blue flowers, and little flags marked the drive. Digging out their baseball caps and summer togs, Mistress Colleen and Master Ian leashed the dog and met the Halls downtown for the Marcellus Memorial Parade.
It began with the usual flash of uniforms and a warm welcome to all our veterans in the area. Unfortunately, since most of the veterans in Marcellus find walking the 7/8ths of a mile of the parade route too strenuous, they were conveyed via a series of unmatched and generally unidentifiable vehicles. They were then followed by the girl scouts, the boy scouts, the Marcellus High School Band and three hook and ladders owned by the Fire Department. Seven minutes and once around the local cemetery is usually the extent of the affair; however, this morning the event stretched to nearly ten minutes because of a log-jam somewhere about Maple and North street, involving a stray dog or perhaps a lost child. Having averted a possible pile-up of Brownies and Cub Scouts, the teams regrouped and met together at the Mighty Marcellus Memorial Rock, in the center of town.
There was a prayer and some speeches; an anthem and several solemn songs. The color guard presented, ceremonial gunshots fired and, in the most climatic moment of the morning, Taps was played at the base of the flag, then played again, in response- by a trumpeter far off on the hill, and two army fighter planes performed their fly-over, perfectly on time. The Halls saluted, wiped a tear and holding hands, walked back to Penguin Hall. All in all, a lovely morning.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

OTB= Olde Tyme Barbershop, or The Sport of Kings

The air at the Kasson Road Barber Shop is notoriously thick with testosterone. Between the sports rags and the girly mags, sit most of Camillus’ sturdier specimens. The younger set, brought in unwillingly and unawares, usually fall victim to a hazing and dressing down that might have been standard 20-30 years ago in a shop such as this. Now, because of PC sensibilities, these have all but disappeared, cropping up only in these hidden suburban eddies.
"How can a room this cramped, laden with ozone-sucking hairspray and old newspaper clippings, be such a breath of fresh air?" said Mr. Hall, sliding into his favorite chair. As he nodded off during his regular trimming by Dominick, Mrs. Hall contented herself with the Derby news. “Are you betting on the Derby?” asked Dom. “Oh sure,” said Mrs. H. “Who can resist a long shot? We’ll probably lay some clams on ‘Flying Private’ at 50- 1.” “Would you put some money on a horse for me?” asked Dom, and he pressed $3.00 into Mr. Hall’s hand. “Place it on ‘Atomic Rain’ for me, would ya? I really like that name! Atomic Rain- sounds good, doesn't it?” Mr. H. rolled his eyes. “Looks like we’re going to the Auburn OTB this afternoon,” he sighed, and he paid the gentleman, glanced approvingly in the mirror and they left.
The Derby results are history already, and a long shot did come in, but it was neither Dominick’s nor the Halls’ horse. “Oh well,” said Mr. H. as he explained the finer points of the game to Dominick. “Easy come, easy go. The Preakness is next week and we’ll have another shot at winning.” Dom waved them off, discouraged by his loss, but Mrs. H. was not that easily deterred. “I’ve got my horses picked already,” she said, “and besides, the hot dogs at the OTB are the best in Auburn!” It’s a cinch the big black car will be parked there again come the weekend.

The Halls of Fame

On a lovely autumn day some time ago, Mr. Hall made a promise to Mrs. Hall, while driving what he casually referred to as the “Cadillac Station Wagon” (aka the hearse), “Someday, I’ll bring you back here when we’re not on business time.” Recently, he made good on that promise. Rolling out early one Saturday morning, Mr. and Mrs. H. pointed the big black car east and headed towards Mecca: Cooperstown and the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Twenty or so years had passed since Mr. Hall had been through those doors, but it was all new to Mrs. H. It took the better part of the morning just to take in the first floor, so after a brief lunch, they returned to hit the remaining exhibits with renewed vigor. The springtime air was still a little brisk, but not so uncomfortable as to keep them from enjoying a few innings at Doubleday Park, where the home team was holding its own.
Shopping, as one wag has been known to put it, “ran the gamut from A to B”; mostly costly trinkets with an undying allegiance to the Empire State. It was all Mr. H. could do to keep Mrs. H. from reminding the local shop keeps that there are other teams in the leagues as well, you know, and would it really kill them to carry perhaps some Cubs memorabilia; but after two or three proprietors misinterpreted her request as attempts at humor, Mrs. H. sulkily gave up. Stuffed clean up to the ears in trivia and chock full of history, they slid into the big black car wearily, and made their way home again.

Friday, May 1, 2009

It's Spring!

And a young man's fancy turns to fancy dress and fun events, such as the Marcellus Junior Prom. Master Ian decided at the last minute to partake in the festivity, causing not a little scurrying about by Mrs. H. to procure the proper attire. Flying solo that night, Master Ian joined his band of friends at the Orchard Valli restaurant and stayed on for the after the prom party at the Skaneateles Rec Center.
Ian reports, "I managed to avert two mishaps that evening; I ate some chocolate covered strawberries from the chocolate fountain (accompanied here by the attendant lip-smacking sounds...) and I went ice-skating afterwards with my friends while still wearing my tux!" It was the consensus all around that Master Ian cut the most dashing form on the ice!
The prom and post prom lasted until nearly two-thirty the following morning. Mrs. Hall was tapped the next day to return his tuxedo; poor Master Ian was sleeping just as fast as he could, for he was due to work early that afternoon!

In case you don't read the NY Daily News

Ever mindful of trying to save the government some much needed $$$, the New York Daily News thoughtfully included a copyright free image of Air Force One and invited the public to do for free what the White House's PR committee flubbed for 300K. The results were fantastic; and Penguin Hall, not to be outdone, weighed in with their own submissions. Here are two that made it to the site: feel free to submit more! (

Technology run amok

Mr. Hall shook his head wearily, convinced the Apocalypse is near. "When the republicans get in bed, so to speak , (Mrs. H. raised an eyebrow...), with the Same-sex marriage groups- Senator Craig notwithstanding; it must indeed be a sign we are surely looking at the End of Days. "There, there, dear", soothed Mrs. Hall- "Read your newspaper, while there is still one to be read, and calm yourself. " But garnering the daily reports is no longer the calming experience it once was...

A Hit and a Miss
With the advent of broadband to the hall, Mr. H. is now finally expanding, however tentatively, further into the world of tweets, woots and blogs. The mysteries of You tube no longer elude him (previously only visited sporadically, when the download times were short, by links sent to him from old pilot friends); and when spontaneously quizzed, as sometimes happens when he is working with associates from another generation, can answer with a modicum of confidence and almost a straight face. He is still mystified by the fact that a dowdy spinster from Scotland can garner several million views; (“Why would anyone want to watch it again- Lord knows the network news plays it ad infinitum already?”) and be considered a hit, and a candidate for a beauty pageant can lose her shot at a title for speaking her mind, and be vilified, in countless forums, by so many who speak as if they have no mind at all. “Surely, this is a strange, new world we live in.” said Mr. H. to Mrs. H.; who nodded in what he took as agreement, though she was listening through her earphones to her iPod.


While driving the big black car into town last week, Mr. and Mrs. H indulged in their usual whim of listening to WRVO Radio. They usually play along with "Says You!" and "Wait,wait- Don't Tell Me!", but this fine morning the newscasters were giddily reporting on new experiments with treating vegetable for bacteria. Ever diligent in their research to find yet another way ferret out the offending germ, scientists have taken to electroshocking lettuce. "Shrink-wrapped, radiated and now shocked! Sounds like what some Hollywood starlets were doing currently to reduce", said Mr. H.; but the announcer went on to say that while the bacteria counts were down, an unfortunate byproduct was that the process bleached the lettuce white! "That's fine by me", said Mrs. H. "I'm plenty green already from just hearing about it."

And this from the trade papers:

Bohemian National Cemetery has built a red brick replica of the wall at Wrigley's center field where deceased fans o f the Cubs may be interred until Doomsday or the next time the team win the World Series. Whichever comes first. Construction has begun on "Beyond the Vines", the ultimate in final resting places for die-hard Cubs fans. The Beyond the Vines memorial wall is 35 feet long and 14 feet tall, located in Bohemian National Cemetery, at Foster and Pulaski. It's designed to look like Wrigley Field's center field wall, complete with ivy, and topped by a 7'x4' stained glass replica of the scoreboard. When complete it will contain 280 "eternal luxury sky boxes" for you or your loved one's remains. Slots are filling up (must resist "dying to get in" joke); if you're interested, call 773 -463-4696 for pricing and more information. (courtesy Andrew Huff)

Tell your friends!