Saturday, November 27, 2004


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

Here’s the all-purpose book for people in our business: It appeals to readers, writers, page designers, illustrators and artists alike. Not only is it interesting for adults, it would seem to me that children would be fascinated.

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

And it was all done on a home computer! Well, let’s say that the images and the text were done at home, but the book was professionally published and is simply beautiful. The book was written and illustrated by teacher Valerie Kirschenbaum, and the full title is, “Goodbye Gutenberg: How A Bronx Teacher Defied 500 Years of Tradition and Launched an Astonishing Renaissance.” I would have to agree with this reviewer:

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
“A personal and ambitious attempt to encompass the visual history of the universe and its relationship to writing. Bursting with information and ideas,” and I would add, “packed with beautiful illustrations and stunning images.” And I think visual director David

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Kordalski would approve that Kirschenbaum dedicated an entire page to one sentence: "Suit the design to the word and the word to the design."

And here's another apt comment on the book: "Goodbye Gutenberg is a big book of lavishly illustrated fairy tales for those of us who dream in Photoshop and paint with our digital cameras."

The book is only $47.95. Read more, see more and order it here. I will have a copy on my desk if you want to see it. My copy arrived in just a few days; plenty of time to order for the holidays.

Thursday, November 25, 2004


Another New Feature: What if Clapton were God?

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Since we’re on a religious theme, I got to thinking, “If Eric Clapton were God, how would the world be different?” If Jim Caviezel can be Jesus, why can’t Clapton be God?

Or maybe you’re too young to remember the “Clapton is God” craze.

If you were a kid who played guitar in the mid-60s, who idolized the Yardbirds, who owned a copy of the legendary album, “Bluesbreakers,” and who saw Cream live in concert, the “Clapton is God” graffiti craze made perfect sense. He was certainly my hero.

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
(More details on the craze in the comment section of this post.)

I remember the Saturday afternoon in 1967 or '68 when I drove my mom to Carlson’s Hardware — one of the two stores in “downtown” Kingsville — and my best friend’s yellow Ford Mustang was parked nearby, so we pulled up right behind, and there taped to the trunk was homemade bumper sticker, “Clapton is God.” Wow! Even my eyes popped open. That was my introduction to the craze.

“That Dana Rose!” my scandalized mother yelled! “That’s awful! I’m going to tell him to take that off!” I just smiled. I too was a Clapton wannabe. (See below)

JPF — 1971
Uploaded by jonfobes.
So I got to wondering how the world would be different if Clapton were God. After all, he once formed a supergroup called "Blind Faith!" Maybe music experts Bill Lammers, Joe Hanak and Marty Sterpka can help out on this. Here area a few ideas to get them started.

• Moses would have come down from the mountain not with stone tablets but with stone-cool tablature.

• Jesus and the Disciples would have been a rock group.

• Peter and Paul would have joined Mary for an unplugged set — and would have become famous in their own right.

• Instead of a crucifix, people would be wearing little Stratocasters around their necks.

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

• Instead of telling Peter, “Upon this Rock I shall build my church,’ Jesus would have told Paul (Saint Les Paul, that is), “Upon rock I will build this church.”

• And look at what this Web site says on the subject: “All through the Old Testament, ‘Rock’ with an uppercase ‘R’ refers to God himself.”

Well, there you go — maybe Clapton really is God!

PS. In case anyone asks, Photoshop is worth every penny!

Wednesday, November 24, 2004


New Feature for the Nightsiders: If Jesus did stand-up comedy

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Inspired by the guy who yesterday said he has a fish stick with Jesus' image on it. I think it looks more like Judas, but what do I know? Also inspired by the fact that the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese sandwich sold to an on-line casino today for $28,000. "The Passion of the Toast" will continue with a cross-country bus tour ending in Las Vegas. And one more thing: Why doesn't anyone ever comment on how much James Caviezel looks like Christ? He's a dead ringer!

But anyway, back to Jesus as a stand-up comedian ...

Desert Room, Ramada Inn, Jerusalem

“I’d like to thank you all for coming out tonight. I understand we have some people here from Bethlehem?” (peers into audience). “Yes! Stand up. Give these folks a hand.” (applause, some hoots.)

“The last time I was in Bethlehem some old guy gave me a chest of frankincense. Ever have any frankincense? That stuff smells great. Sprinkle a little on the carpet, and it takes the pet smell right out. Sure, I was born in a barn, but that doesn’t mean I want my rugs to stink from ca-ca!

“But talk about a stink!

“Did you hear about that loaves-and-fishes situation? I was trying out some material one day, and I had some snacks for the folks, but lots more people showed up than expected, so I found myself looking at this lone fish stick and wishing I had ten more, and you know what? Suddenly I did. So I wished for 100, and there were 100. Well, I admit that I really got into it, and I thought, ‘How about 10,000. How about a million.’ So I ended up with a mountain of fish sticks.

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

“I told everyone to dig in, and we ate fish until we were ready to hallucinate. Some people actually fell down barfing right there on the spot, and then people started going home in droves. Who wants to eat fish sticks when people all around you are falling down sick? I actually heard people say, ‘If you’re heaving, I’m leaving!’

“And you should have heard some of the barfers as they staggered off, ‘Oh, I’ve got a fish headache.’ and ‘Oh, verily, tomorrow I will have a horrible fish hangover.’ and ‘Oh, truly, I say unto thee, I would rather be cast into the fiery pit than ever see another fish stick!’

"And as they stumbled off, I was yelling, ‘Take fish home for the wife and kids,’ but they couldn’t bear the thought of it, so I was left with about 995,000 fish sticks rotting in the hot sun, and all the frankincense in the world was not going to fix that stink. Of course, I tried to make the fish sticks disappear by wishing them away, but it didn’t work. I am new at this miracle stuff. Give me a break.

“It was awful! It almost ruined me. The countryside reeked of fish for weeks. I had to hide in a cave. If people saw me coming, they’d run away, screaming, ‘No more fish sticks! No more fish sticks!’ People started calling me, 'Fish stick,' and worse, 'Fish stink!' It was embarrassing. I knew I had to do something to win the people back, so I came up with a plan.

“I went over to Sepphoris one day, and all the townspeople were standing around with rocks, looking mean, and in the middle of the crowd stood this poor woman, so you know she was in trouble. The town was long overdue for a good stoning, and she was caught picking up sticks on the Sabbath — any excuse for an execution, you know — so they were ready to go to work on her.

“I walked into the middle of the crowd, and I yelled, ‘Let he who is without sin cast the first stone!’ And then I gave them that look.” (gives audience a very stern look … laughter and applause from people who had seen this bit before.)

“I’ve been perfecting this look for a long time.” (scowls harder at audience … more laughter.)

“This is how I looked when I was in the desert for 40 days and 40 nights without toilet paper!” (really glares … audience roars.)

“So I beat them down with my constipated-Savior scowl, and they all lowered their rocks and looked dejected, and kicked the dirt, and grumbled about being bored and ‘never having any fun’ — and then I yelled, ‘Hey, I’m kidding! Enjoy!’ And the rocks started flying fast and furious. And that’s how I got past the fish fiasco. So now instead of, ‘No more fish sticks!’ I hear, ‘He who is without sin … ha, ha. You really had us going.’ (laughter, applause … band starts playing exit music.)

(bows and waves) “Good night. God bless. You’ve been a wonderful audience — I’m heading over to Bethlehem to find that guy with the frankincense!” (laughter, applause, exit)

Tuesday, November 23, 2004


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

I’ve never been a big fan of jewelry, but when I saw Allison Carey’s artwork, I changed my mind. In case you don’t know, she makes wonderful bracelets and necklaces to sell at shows — or to coworkers. I figured since I already have a watch on my wrist, why not give it some beautiful company.

Her pieces are made with Sterling silver accents and glass beads: round beads, square

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
beads, long, short, oval, oblong … some of her bracelets look good enough to eat — as you can see in the photo above, they dazzle the eyes! Beware, you might find yourself opening your wallet almost hypnotically … like I did when I bought the bracelets you see at left. Oops, I left out some other bead material she uses: Peridot, Iolite, Tanzanite, pearls, jade, quartz, Chalcedony and more.

Prices vary, but to give you a rough idea, I paid from $22 to $32 for the bracelets I bought. Again, this is not a commercial, just a tribute to a wonderful item made by one of your creative coworkers.

Here Allison's art history:

“I woke up one morning thinking that I could make better, funner, livelier jewelry than I was finding in the stores. For me, it’s all about color, and I wasn't finding enough variety.

“I started a year and a half ago with a $5 starter tool kit and a $1.19 pack of mixed beads from Michaels. Now, my company is called CitySea Beads after my son's initials C.T.C. (thought of this after reading a story on vanity plates, not to mention my love for the sea).

“I now buy supplies at big trade shows, live with my ziploc'd purchases until designs and patterns pop into my head, then I work ... and work ... and work ... often until 1 or 2 in the morning. I have been in 6 or 7 shows, have done well and have a big one coming up. The very popular Artcraft Building Holiday Sale is December 4th and 5th, noon to 7 Saturday and noon to 4 Sunday.

“I'll be on the 6th floor in Bonnie Dolin’s studio. Come visit!”


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

I have long wondered why Mexican food is so plentiful yet good salsa is so hard to find. I still don’t know why, but I do know where to find salsa that’s right up there with the best I’ve ever had: Jim Darr.

He has two varieties, mild and medium, and it sells

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
for $4.50 a jar. Return the jar and get 50 cents back. He also sells it by the case: $50 for 12 jars, so you get a break on the price. Then there’s his green pepper jelly. Denise is smiling because she’s got her hand on two jars of it. Good stuff!

Anyway, this post is not a commercial but a tribute to a great salsa.

Here’s Jim’s salsaology:

“I was born the son of a poor... er, strike that. But I was poor once, and if I hadn't been I probably wouldn't be making salsa today. The Wapakoneta Daily News didn't pay enough to support a family of three in the mid-70s, so, like my grandparents once did in the Dust Bowl, I relied on a big garden at the farmhouse we were renting to put food on the table. That meant learning how to put vegetables up in jars, something that I never forgot.

“I had grown up with Mexican food. In northwest Ohio, a trip to the old Loma Linda's on Airport Highway was something of a ritual for many people. And I love vacationing in the Texas Hill Country, for the southwestern food as much as the music and natural wonders. Add all of that up with my love for growing things at Old Plank Farm, my digs in Ashtabula County, and you have the pungent product of 10 years of recipe tweaking, Vallejo Grande Salsa, soon to be named Valle Grande Salsa. I grow all of the tomatoes, peppers and cilantro, and I use no pesticides or herbicides. The rest of the ingredients come from the historic West Side Market in Cleveland, from organic purveyors where possible.

“I hope you enjoy it.”

Monday, November 22, 2004


harvey ain't no rabbit
Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
In case you haven’t noticed, this insane blog has a logic of its own, though not always apparent even to the bloggers themselves.

We went from grilled cheese to bread bowls to R. Crumb, strictly through the logic of association. And so it was not far to go for own version of R. Crumb, comic genius and legendary crumbudgeon Harvey Pekar.

And to make the circle complete, the bread bowl on Tim’s head came from Haki’s church. And two of the people who attend that church — and who Haki talked with Sunday — are Joyce Pekar and Danielle! (If you haven’t seen the film, “American Splendor” or read any of Harvey's comics then get on the ball!)

See Harvey’s Web site, with the Harvey, Joyce and Danielle blogs.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Tim Graham worked overtime Sunday night and became so obsessed thinking about all the extra bread he was earning that by evening’s end his head was enveloped in a halo of golden crust.

Please, no wry comments about Tim loafing the night away; he worked his buns off for that money — not that he needs the dough or anything.

Sorry for all these half-baked puns, but it’s hard to stop when you’re on a roll (with help from Tim and Pete).

Crumb Products | R. Crumb

Sunday, November 21, 2004


Our readers say:
Do you play Texas Hold'Em on the Internet?
"To really enjoy cards, it's like six - you have to be face to face, live."

Is is worthwhile to have a dollar coin?
"Not as long as we have the idiots designing them that designed the season be anthony and the other one politically correct."

Do you think performance enhancing drugs have ruined the integrity of sports?
"Yes, I do. cutting the length of the field is not enough for some athletes. I've been suspicious ever since Bay Bruce's record was passed."

Further contributions are being taken by your Not-so-Plain Speaking correspondent, Tim. This will also be expanded to include the best Moaning, the best of the Beer Guy, and Thankful Tursday as necessary.

Pete nails it!

Sometimes things are complicated, and other times they're pretty darn obvious as was shown when Pete Zicari approached the Sunday night Newsdesk team of Denise, Tim, Jon and Haki, and said, simply:

"You guys are getting weirder and weirder and weirder!"


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
But turned this way, the miracle toast reveals an image that promises four more years from the big cheese who's been nibbling away at our hopes and dreams since 2000.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
Turned this way, the miracle sandwich reveals a kindly, familiar image.

Saturday, November 20, 2004


sweet nothing
Originally uploaded by jonfobes.
I have learned one thing from this situation.

Religion and miraculous cuisine have one thing in common: They only appear to be meaningful when seen from a certain direction. Otherwise, they’re toast.

If the sandwich maker had started eating from the other corner, her $7,801 miracle snack would have been nothing but lunch. Sort of makes you want to examine everything from all angles, doesn’t it! (So let's!)


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

Last night toward the end of the shift, my pal and coworker Tim Graham had some time to browse ebay and called my attention to a number of items related to the now infamous Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese sandwich.

As of this writing there are 234 Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese items listed, some with serious bids, others with out-of-this-world prices. Seems like a good place to start one’s Christmas shopping.

1. The Blessed Grilled Cheese Virgin Mary Kit. Now with QUESADILLA option, $95,100. No hoax!
2. Virgin Mary Grilled domain name, $500.
3. Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese T-shirts: “If you grill it, she will come.” And, “I ate the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese: It was Sacrilicious.” $9.99
4. Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese neon clock, $39
5. The actual Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese sandwich (pictured above), $7,801.
6. Virgin Mary, Baby Jesus share a grilled cheese sandwich, painting, $20.49.
7. Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Barbie, $20.
8. Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese thong, $12.99
9. Virgin Mary Blessed Grilled Cheese ornament, $9.99
10. Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Sinfullicious bumper sticker, $5.99
11. Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese tin lunch box, “cult classic,” $5.00
12. Gumby wearing Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese mask, $4.00
13. Low Carb Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese recipe, Atkins OK. “Eat Like Mary Intended.” $.99
14. Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese trading card, “Rare.” $9.99
15. Jesus Sausage to go with Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese, $.99
16. Top Secret Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Conspiracy Report. “Find out who’s behind the conspiracy.” $4.99
17. "Bush ate the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese sandwich" T-shirt, $6.00
18. “I Saw the Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese on e-bay, and she looked a little toasted.” T-shirt, $12.99
19. Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese Christmas Cards also, “ALSO HANUKKAH CARDS WITH MOSES ON Bagel toast.” $10.49
20. Virgin Mary Grilled Cheese could be Greta Garbo, $2.00

The last one is my favorite because what no one seems to remember that we don't know what Mary looked like! She might have looked like Maria Ouspenskaya, Zasu Pitts or even Buddy Hackett with a bad hangover. Oh, Shipoopi!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

David Kordalski has returned to work after being off for a medical procedure.

And his x-rays show what we always knew: He has a good heart and it's in the right place.

But what's with the new wardrobe and the funny hand signs?

Service boxes we’d like to see

Here’s another possible feature for the site, aside from our new friend, Newstrodumbass: Service boxes we’d like to see.

For anyone who doesn’t know, we have a few dozen service boxes we use on a rotating basis to fill space under a story that comes up short. There are service boxes about drug abuse, ride-sharing, family services and lots more. My favorite service box, which is no longer available to us, was for the literacy council and was headlined:

“Can’t read?”

And then it gave information, which, of course, couldn’t be read by the person who needed it. If we had more service boxes like that we wouldn’t need to invent silly ones, but we don’t, so we do. Open for suggestions. What service box would you like to see?


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

One of the benefits of being Metro coordinator is attending the 4 o’clock news meeting, where you can bet something interesting will be said.

In Monday’s meeting there was some discussion on a story about kidney swapping. Yes, wife swapping used to be the rage, but now it’s kidney swapping. One guy traded his 1965 Mustang for a kidney and another guy traded his kidney for a vintage Les Paul and a pituitary gland. And one strange fellow traded both his kidneys for a Carnival cruise and a dialysis machine!

The conversation turned to organ donation, and Jeff Greene was asked if he would donate a kidney. “For my brother, or my mother — or for Doug!” Jeff said, and everyone laughed. However, rumor has it that Doug has decided to accept Jeff’s offer, not because he needs a kidney but just so he’ll have a spare ... or so he'll have something to trade at next week’s Organ and Kidney Swap Meet at the IX Center. You don't want to go in there empty-handed!

Rachael Ray will be there making chili. And Jeff will be there trying to trade his other kidney for a brain.


Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

Nightsiders Web log would like to introduce a new feature: “Newstrodumbass, Prognosticator Extraordinaire! Decoding secrets of the future from Page One of The Plain Dealer.” Sure, it sounds far-fetched, but George Bush got re-elected, and the “Da Vinci Code” is still selling like crazy, so anything's possible, right?

Not being Newstrodumbass, I can’t predict how often the feature will run, but I will be posting items and images for him because, alas, the great prognosticator is not wise in the ways of the Web. Like all great seers, he’s also somewhat schizophrenic, so don’t be alarmed if his predictions sound as if they are coming from a variety of people.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Newstrodumbass, 11.10.04

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

Decoding secrets of the future from Page One of The Plain Dealer. "Revelation and prognostication — Read and believe!"

Newstrodumbass is taken aback by the startling Page One image of a U.S. soldier smoking a cigarette.

The great prognosticator sees it as a sign of the powerful death wish in human beings, and how those who can’t kill themselves fast enough with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, over-eating and lack of exercise seek out wars instead. Their failure to self-destruct fuels a desire to kill others. Surely, the divine force has a twisted sense of humor!

In the middle of the page Newstrodumbass sees something quite different, a story of hope headlined, “New diet pill may actually work: And it even helps you quit smoking, study says.”

Revelation and prognostication — Newstrodumbass understands! This new diet pill will work better than scientists had ever hoped with an amazing unseen benefit: When human beings get over their need to kill themselves with lifestyle choices, they will lose the urge for war. But the millions who decline to take the pill will retain their death-dealing instincts, causing not only a “morals gap” but a “Peace Pill” gap between liberals and conservatives that will someday tear our nation asunder.

Thus saith Newstrodumbass: “Believe and grow wise!”

Newstrodumbass, 11.11.04

Originally uploaded by jonfobes.

Decoding secrets of the future from Page One of The Plain Dealer. "Revelation and prognostication — Read and believe!"

Newstrodumbass sees much death today.

The top headline says, “Remember those who served” and just below, “Arafat is dead.” Newstrodumbass feels the icy finger of death running down his spine. Hey, that tickles!

And skipping to the bottom of the page he finds a story on the Iraq war. More fighting means more dead veterans in the future. How many will fall before the madness stops? Newstrodumbass thinks it might be wise to buy stock in cemeteries and casket factories.

But wait, a ray of hope shines forth!

In the middle of the page there’s a photo and the news of a miracle birth. A 56-year-old woman named Aleta St. James has delivered twins. Surely, a divine force is at work in the universe! What’s more, this is not just any woman but the sister of Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels.

Revelation and prognostication — Newstrodumbass understands! The miracle twins will become Guardian Angels for the world, bringing peace to the Mideast and drastically limiting future war fatalities, making Veterans Day of the future a thing of the past. Or something like that.

Thus saith Newstrodumbass: “Believe and grow wise!”

Thursday, November 04, 2004


Originally uploaded by blsbls.
While the rest of Ohio remained undecided at 2:30 a.m. on election night, Emily said yes to that young man she's been spotted with here and there from time to time. As the rest of the world worried about provisional ballots and overseas voters, Emmet popped the question in a window overlooking Cleveland's beautiful Flats, the very place where they first kissed. November 2005 nuptials are planned.

Photo by Rosemary; caption by Denise

look out

Let me elbow in here and get some of those X chromosomes flowing through this blog.

Boy, are you guys in trouble now!