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Monday, December 05, 2016

  • Friday, December 02, 2016 4:00 AM
    I don’t have a lot of friends. I know lots of people, but that’s not the same. The people I do call friends sometimes disappoint me. Bob won’t take me to the airport at night (something about cataracts. Oh, please.) Pat won’t feed our cat when we go away for the weekend (yes, Angel has bitten her, but no stitches were required . . . either time) and Cathy won’t water our plants. (Sure, philodendron makes her windpipe contract, but what are friends for?) 
    The need for dependable friends was made clear when I was down in the basement recently and found an old box filled with expired coupons, unused gift cards and a few compositions from the class I taught at IUPUI in 1986 and never got around to grading. At the very bottom of the pile, I found this:
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  • Friday, November 25, 2016 5:15 PM
    Indiana is about to complete the celebration of her 200th birthday. Many stellar names are associated with our great state: Abraham Lincoln, Ernie Pyle, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., Cole Porter, James Dean, Benjamin Harrison, John Mellencamp, and Red Skelton, to name a few . . . instead of naming a few hundred. There are several forgotten Hoosiers who didn’t make it into the history books, but who have now made it into my column. They deserve better, of course, but here are my two favorites:
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  • Tuesday, November 22, 2016 4:00 PM
    When I wrote about this incident many years ago, Mary Ellen said someday I would look back on the event and laugh. I’m still not laughing. Maybe you will. I’d like to take you back to the winter of 2006. Here’s the Naked Truth, 10th Anniversary Edition.
    I had just gotten home after giving a speech, pulled into the garage about 11 p.m. and entered the house through the door inside the garage. Mary Ellen was asleep upstairs. I quietly went into the bedroom and undressed, but before putting on my sleeping shorts, I decided to run downstairs and grab a small bottle of fruit juice from the garage fridge. I retrieved the drink and turned the knob to re-enter the house. The knob refused to budge. “No way,” I said to myself. And no clothes, either. I was locked out. Buck naked.
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  • Friday, November 18, 2016 4:00 AM
    When I wrote about this incident many years ago, Mary Ellen said someday I would look back on the event and laugh. I’m still not laughing. Maybe you will. I’d like to take you back to the winter of 2006. Here’s the Naked Truth, 10th Anniversary Edition.
    I had just gotten home after giving a speech, pulled into the garage about 11 p.m. and entered the house through the door inside the garage. Mary Ellen was asleep upstairs. I quietly went into the bedroom and undressed, but before putting on my sleeping shorts, I decided to run downstairs and grab a small bottle of fruit juice from the garage fridge. I retrieved the drink and turned the knob to re-enter the house. The knob refused to budge. “No way,” I said to myself. And no clothes, either. I was locked out. Buck naked.
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  • Friday, November 04, 2016 4:00 AM
    Americans love to disinfect. Everybody is doing it. Your co-workers, your boss, your friends and neighbors. Single people sanitize their grocery cart handles with wet wipes so they don't pick up any unwanted germs. Then they meet someone cute on Tinder and two hours later they're making out with a perfect stranger. Am I missing something here?
    My wife and I recently took a cruise where the waiters squirted a liquid into our hands just as we sat down for dinner. We bought some of this same gel for our next trip, figuring if there was ever a place waiting to transmit a disease, it was New York City. At the airport, security confiscated the bottle because they were afraid we might use it to make an explosive. I think there needs to be a little more cooperation between the food police and the airport police.
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  • Friday, October 28, 2016 4:00 AM
    The Wolfsies have accepted two invitations to dinner on Thanksgiving. Our good friends the Haversticks always invite my wife and son and me to join them at a lovely buffet at a downtown hotel. Since Mary Ellen and I have siblings who live out of town, we appreciate this gesture. The truth is, I come from a pretty good-size family in New York, but we’re not talking to each other, mostly because of a very contentious Thanksgiving about 25 years ago. For you ornithology buffs, please note: I have seen a turkey fly.
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  • Wolfsie is a big fan of caption contest winner
    Friday, October 21, 2016 4:00 AM
    When I called local advertising executive and film producer Dennis Neary to tell him he was my new hero, he assumed I was a fan of his 52 one-minute bicentennial stories that have aired on TV stations all across Indiana. In 60 seconds, you get a thumbnail sketch of some Hoosier history like Crispus Attucks High School, Robert Kennedy’s speech after Martin Luther King’s assassination, Philo Farnsworth (the inventor of television), Red Skelton, James Dean and the Von Tilzer Brothers, to name just a few. By the way, I didn’t know who the Von Tilzer Brothers were, either. Go to YouTube (Bicentennial Minutes) and search Von Tilzer. It’s worth it.
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  • Friday, October 14, 2016 4:00 AM
    I have monumental problems logging into my bank account. The issue is that I can never remember the answers I had given to my security questions. Who was my favorite comic book hero as a kid? Batman? Superman? The Flash? I’d hate to think I picked Aquaman.
    What about my favorite flower? I have never had a favorite flower. If I choose rose, there’s a good chance I’ll say chrysanthemum the next time—if I can spell it. Tulips are not me. And I’m no pansy, that I can tell you.
    Here’s another stumper: What college did I apply to but not attend? Well, that would be all the colleges that rejected me, so it could be Syracuse, or Northwestern, or Boston University. Maybe Brown. The list just goes on and on . . . and on. And how about the name of my best friend? That’s a tough one because someone is always ticking me off, so it changes every week.
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  • Getting a leg up on medical issues
    Friday, October 07, 2016 4:00 AM
    Publicly sharing personal medical issues is not a good idea, something I should have learned from past experience. Several years ago, I mentioned in a column that I was losing my sense of smell. A doctor wrote me and suggested I might have a brain tumor. Others just said I should have my head examined. I’m not sure if this was the same advice.
    I received similar notes of concern when I disclosed that I have sneezing fits—sometimes a couple dozen achoos in a row. A very caring reader wrote and said this might be an indication of a severe case of “drug-induced rhinitis” and that she was going to pray for me. Then she said, “God bless you.” She needed to say it 25 times.
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  • Wolfsie has the movie madness
    Wednesday, September 28, 2016 7:40 PM
    If I hadn’t gotten lost on the way to the entry exam, the people at Mensa might have made me a member. I did try a second time, but I got a flat tire on the way and I have no idea how to use the jack in the trunk. Otherwise, I’d be in Mensa. Believe me.
    I’m sure you can’t get in Mensa if you don’t understand movies. At home, while Mary Ellen and I watch a flick, she sits on the couch answering emails, and solving complicated Sudoku puzzles. But she still manages to understand exactly what is going on. I am perpetually confused and continually request that my wife stop the DVR and so I can ask if those are those the good guys or the bad guys?
    Mary Ellen has so little faith in my ability to follow a plot that she sometimes stops the recording herself, and asks, “Okay, do you realize what just happened?” I find this insulting, demeaning and emasculating, but it sure does help me understand the movie.
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  • Dick Wolfsie takes turn for the worse
    Tuesday, September 20, 2016 4:00 AM
    I seem to have a great deal of trouble turning things off. Turning them on? No sweat. Light switches, blenders, lamps, ovens, fans. They’re a breeze – especially the last one.
    I used to have a car with a weird issue. When I’d turn off the ignition and get out, it kept running. There was an additional reason I never bought another Ford Pinto, but I forget why now. 
    My wife has to keep reminding me while I’m driving to turn off my turn signal. My car has six airbags, a rear-view camera and voice-controlled GPS directions. I’d give it all up if the blinker would go off automatically after I – what’s the word I’m looking for? Oh yeah: TURN.
    The other day my wife and I were talking via cell phones. “Dick, I gotta go. I have another call.”
    “Okay, see ya.”
    “Dick, are you going to hang up, or not?”
    “I’m trying, Mary Ellen. I pushed the button three times.”
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  • Wednesday, September 14, 2016 4:00 AM
    I have had really bad leg cramps for a long time. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, I jump out of bed screaming at the top of my lungs. Then I brace myself against the side of the headboard and push down on the ball of my foot, which shakes the entire bed. One night, I almost woke up my wife.
    When you’re as old as I am and you want compassion, you need to limit your friends to those with an AARP card. Recently I shared an elevator ride with a young man who had been an intern at WISH-TV. He asked me, “So how are you doing, Mr. Wolfsie?”
    “Oh, okay I guess, Todd. But I get these terrible leg cramps at night . . .”
    “Well, have a nice day. See ya.”
    On the way back down in the elevator, I saw an old friend, a man of my own vintage. “Hey, Dick, how ya been?”
    “Fine, Joel, except at night I have this problem where…”
    “Don’t tell me—leg cramps. I used to get them, also. Here’s what I recommend: Take vitamin E three times a day. It’s like a miracle.”
    I’ve never trusted the Internet for health information, but I am inclined to take advice in an elevator. 
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  • Wednesday, September 07, 2016 4:00 AM
    A small framed photo stashed in a corner of my office is almost 60 years old. I had not given it any thought in ages. Why hadn’t I just pasted it in a scrapbook or added it to the forgotten piles of memorabilia gathering dust in the basement?
    It’s a picture of my All-Star Little League team from New Rochelle, N.Y., back in 1959 — all of us posed in our uniforms and bound for the state championships in Poughkeepsie. Two more victories there and we’d be headed to Williamsport, Penn., for the Little League World Championships.
    We were a motley group: Jews, Hispanics, Italians, Blacks, and Ryan, our Irish second baseman. We didn’t care about race or religion — just runs. Maybe that’s because we were kids. Or maybe because it was baseball.
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  • Sunday, July 17, 2016 10:12 PM

    Just once in 38 years I’d have liked to hear Mary Ellen say something like: “Dick has this terrific habit of changing his underwear every day.” Generally the word habit is associated with a repeated bad action.  I mean, there are good vibes and bad vibes; good ideas and bad ideas; good luck and bad luck. But it’s almost redundant to include the word “bad” with habit.

    Mary Ellen recently commented that after all our years together, it still drove her a little batty that I whistle all the time. She claims I do it when I am working in my home office or cleaning out the garage, and even when I am on my way out the door to go to the TV station.

    “No one whistles on the way to work,” she said. I told her I could probably name seven who did, but one of the dwarves’ names keeps slipping my mind. 

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  • Sunday, July 17, 2016 10:09 PM

    Garrison Keillor performed his final Prairie Home Companion episode last week, capping things off with a goodbye visit to Lake Wobegon, his mythical hometown where “all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average.”

    I did not hear that live performance on the radio; I watched it the next day, on YouTube—a decision I regretted because for four decades he was a disembodied voice. That might sound odd, but actually seeing his body took away some of the magic for me. If you love radio, you know what I mean.

    Keillor was a glorious confluence of Mark Twain, Jerry Seinfeld and Will Rogers.  And while I did not know him personally, there were a few intersecting points in our lives.

    The first begins with Fred Newman, his intrepid sound-effects man. Fred makes each performance sparkle with accompanying mouth noises that brilliantly mimic explosions, trains, tornadoes and virtually anything that Keillor throws at him as he spins a story. Fred never knows what’s coming.

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