My Evening Routine: Like Father, Like Son

mark fp_250pxWe all have our routines when we come home after a long day at the office. Things that make us relax. Things that make us forget about our troubles from the workday events. Things that just flat “calm us the heck down!”

I remember really well as a kid growing up in Zion, Illinois and then later South Chicago, my dad had the same routine just about every night.

He worked very hard. Many mornings he would get up before daylight and take off for the hospitals to visit and pray with church members before they had surgery.

He would then put a full day of office work and visitation in for the church.

When he came home in the evening, it was his time to relax! Until one of the church members would call and keep him on the phone for an hour or so about something that probably could have waited till the next day.

But for the most part…he was able to do his regular routine.

After supper, my dad would go upstairs, take off his suit that he had worn all day, put on a comfortable pair of shorts and a t shirt, make his way back down the stairs to the basement, sit back in his recliner and take control of the remote for the remainder of the evening.

Sometimes he had to have a bowl of cereal or a bowl of ice cream before he went to bed. Usually a bowl of cereal.

His dad, my grandpa, would always have a bowl of ice cream every single night before bedtime.

I have my own routine. We all do.

I walk in the door, head straight for the bedroom and take off my suit. ( I am pretty sure there will be no suits or ties in Heaven. The Bible clearly speaks about no pain or suffering there!)

I put on my comfortable shorts and a t-shirt. I head downstairs, sit down in my leather recliner and take full control of the remote for the remainder of the evening!

That is my routine! “Like Father…like Son!”

My routine may vary every once in a while, but for the most part…it remains constant.

Some nights I may get called out to embalm a body. Some nights I may get a call to go meet some friends for dinner. Some nights I may head over to Pokeys for some music by the Collins Brothers Band and some cold refreshment!

But for the most part…change clothes, hit the recliner and watch a little sports or news.

A few years ago, during my separation and divorce, my dad was kind enough to let me move back in with him.

Mom, God rest her soul, was in the nursing home with dementia. I was at a hurting time in my life…and dad needed a friend.

It worked out well for both of us.

It was pretty interesting.

Two grown men coming home after work, shedding the suits from the day at the office, putting on the comfortable shorts and t-shirt and heading to the living room to watch television.

Only one thing had changed.

The remote…well…it was all mine!

Whatever your routine is…I am sure it helps you relax and gets your mind off the day’s events. At least I hope it does.

If not…try eating a bowl of ice cream before you go to bed.

It worked for “Popsie”

Until next time…..

“Let’s Just Say I Had a Great Evening”

Loving the Cubs... and other problems I have Mark Grissom beaverdamusa.comI had a very nice dinner tonight…with a very nice young lady.

We talked about a lot of things. We talked about religion, work, and music…but mostly we talked about work.

I will not give her name or where she works. Although I am aware of the fact that most of you would LOVE to know that information.

Let’s just say…I had a great evening.

We found ourselves talking mostly about Alzheimer’s and the effect it has on the patient and the families. Many of my stories about my mom crossed-over into her stories about her patients.

She is a registered nurse and deals a lot with Alzheimer’s patients and the family members of those patients. As most of you already know, I lost my mom to Alzheimer’s December 14, 2010.

I miss her every single day of my life.

I do not want this blog to be about my mom…or her death. It makes me sad to talk about that. And…I have written a lot about her in the past.

No. This will be about “my date”.

I have been divorced for 3 and half years. I have been on many dates with different girls. Enjoyed most all of them. I have had, what I would call, two serious relationships since the break-up of my marriage.

I find it easier to talk about my divorce now than ever before.  I wish my ex-wife no ill will whatsoever. I wish her only the best in life. She is engaged to be married. I am happy for her.

Now…back to my date.

Lets just call this girl “J”.

“J” and I have a lot in common. We have the same beliefs in our faith. We both have a very strong work ethic and we are on-call most of the time. We enjoy eating out at nice restaurants. We both love to laugh. And, we both love all kinds of music.

Not a bad start for our first date.

But the one thing that attracts me to “J” more than anything…(besides the fact she is a beautiful person) is her love for the Alzheimer’s families.

She works with them on a daily basis. She knows all about the struggles of the patient…and the family members involved. She talked a lot about how she works so hard to make the patients “comfortable” and “at ease.” She works with them to help them maintain a daily routine and schedule that works for their individual needs. She keeps their families informed of everything going on in their lives and what the next step is for the patient.

She is incredible at what she does.

I tip my hat to “J” and to every single person in the medical field that works with Alzheimer’s patients. Their job is NOT easy at all! These patients can be very combative at times, say things that they never would have said before the onset of Alzheimer’s and just downright be mean and hateful.

However, they can also be very, very sweet and kind and if you catch them on a good day…they will carry on a conversation with you that will make you wonder is there anything even wrong with them.

I know all this. The reason why I know?…my mom had Alzheimer’s disease.

I say a great big “GOD BLESS YOU” to doctors, nurses, CNA’s, rehab specialist, LPN’s, hospice personnel and most of all…a great big thank you to the spouses and family members of Alzheimer’s patients.

I have no idea how my father was able to care for my mother as long as he did. He took care of her for many years, 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. He never left her side. Even after we put mom in a nursing home facility, Dad was there every single day to care for her, feed her, change the linens on her bed and to the amazement of the staff of Signature Healthcare…even washed and dried her hair.

God Bless You, Dad. And May God Bless all of the individuals in this world who care for not only Alzheimer’s patients…but for all the long term care patients.

My mom never had the opportunity to meet “J”. I sure wished she had. She would have loved her. And “J” would have taken incredible care of my mom.

If you want to know what comes of “J”…you will have to hang around for future blogs.

Until next time…

Godson ‘Little Mark’ Has Been a Blessing

Loving the Cubs... and other problems I have Mark Grissom beaverdamusa.comI have been a very blessed person. I have had the world’s greatest mom and dad. I have the best brother a fellow could ask for. I have been fortunate to live in nice homes. I had nice automobiles. (Although I am basically a Ford Truck kind of guy.) My parents were great providers for my brother and me. We always had the finest of clothes, plenty of food on the table and everything we ever asked for at Christmas.

I have been a very blessed individual!

However, there is one thing that I have missed out on in my life. That one thing that I will never get to experience for myself. I hear a lot of my friends talk about their experiences, but I will never know what it feels like.

I will never know the awesome, beautiful and joyous feeling of being a dad.

For reasons that I find it very difficult to explain or to talk about, I was never afforded the opportunity in life to experience the joy of fatherhood. I was never given the chance. Kind of sad to think about it.

To think about all of the great occasions in life that dad’s get to experience with their children and to know I have missed out on all those opportunities…makes me very sad.

Watching the birth of your child. Holding them in your arms. Rocking them to sleep. Hearing them say their first words. Taking them to church on Sunday. First day of school. Baseball, soccer, ballet, karate practice.  Taking them to Chicago to see Wrigley Field and the Chicago Cubs…(okay, maybe that was just for me). If you never have children of your own, you will never know those times for yourself in life.

I am very proud to say that I have a Godson and he was named after me. Mark Steven Matyskela. “Little Mark,” has I affectionately call him, has brought a lot of joy into my life throughout the years. He is 14 years old and very soon will graduate from middle school and enter High School. I get to see “Little Mark” about once a year. I make an annual pilgrimage to Chicago for Cubs games, pizza, beef sandwiches…. and “Little Mark”.

The 12 hour drive to Chicago and however tired I may be when I get there is quickly wiped away when I walk in the door of the Matyskela residence and “Little Mark” opens the door to greet me and says…”HELLO BIG MARK”. That puts a smile on my face and an even bigger smile in my heart! We hang out for two or three days. We go to the mall and ride the escalator. We go out to eat to his favorite places. We watch YouTube videos that he has picked out. We make funny sounds like a pig sound. He tells me to say things and repeat them back to him…and I do. Once in a while, I might even get “Little Mark” to give me a big hug! Not that often and for not very long. He has to move on to bigger and better things!

I love “Little Mark” very much. I can never say thank you enough to Bill and Val, Mark’s parents, for allowing me to be a part of Mark’s life. Mark is an amazing, loving, beautiful young man.

“Little Mark” has autism.

Not long after Mark was born and coming into his two’s, Valerie told me one day on the phone that he was not talking as much as Sarah did when she was his age. (Sarah is Mark’s older sister). His people skills and interaction with other people did not seem to be what we would call normal. After many tests and procedures, “Little Mark” was diagnosed with autism. He has faced many challenges in his short time here on God’s earth. He has his limitations and his special needs. However, “Little Mark” is one of the most loving, beautiful, caring, fun individuals you could ever be around.

God in Heaven knew exactly what He was doing when he placed the life of “Little Mark” in the hands of two amazing, wonderful friends of mine…Bill and Valerie Matyskela. I have all the respect and appreciation in the world for these two precious people. It is not an easy task to raise a child with autism. As a matter of fact, I know there have been many days that Bill and Val have questioned why God would allow this to happen. I know that because I have talked to them on those days.  I feel bad because I do not have the answers to tell Bill and Val. I only tell them that God never makes a mistake and he knew “Little Mark” was going to need two very special people to raise him and bring him up in this world. God used Bill and Val for a very special task…to be the parents of one amazing young man!

I love you, Bill and Valerie!! If there were a Pulitzer Prize for being “Parents of the Century” … I would STRONGLY recommend you two for that award!! God Bless You Both!

So while I never had the joy of being a father to one of my very own children, I thank God every day for an incredible Godson named Mark Steven “Little Mark” Matyskela!! The world is a brighter place…because of him!

Until next time…

“Helluva a Way to Make a Living”

Loving the Cubs... and other problems I have Mark Grissom“This is a helluva way to make a living…”

I have been honored for almost 32 years to be in a very rewarding and honorable profession. If I had my life to do over again, I would not change a thing. Okay… well maybe there is that one thing.

I have been a licensed funeral director and embalmer for 30 years. I started out in Chicago, Illinois at Lawn Funeral Home under the leadership of Donald B. Jarka, Sr. Mr. Jarka was one of the greatest men on the planet. He was a funeral director’s…funeral director! He was very kind to me and gave me my first job in the funeral profession and told me to become a really good embalmer.

I will never forget him (Mr. Jarka) telling me “You can teach a monkey to be a funeral director… but it takes someone very special to be a good embalmer”.

He was exactly right. There are not many, what I call, good embalmers in the funeral business these days. I am honored to personally know two here in Cleveland that I have a lot of respect for and the quality of their work. They both know and understand how important it is to prepare the remains to the best of their ability and take their time and do the very best job on each individual.

Those individuals are Jeremy Randolph and Ryan Qualls — two great friends of mine and two professional and caring licensed embalmers.

Embalming is an art. I learned that art at Worsham College of Mortuary Science in Chicago, Illinois. I graduated from Mortuary College in 1984, and went to work at Beverly Ridge Funeral Home at 10415 South Kedzie Avenue in Chicago. (Heck… I can still remember that address.)

I learned the basics of embalming in Mortuary College. I learned how to embalm from a gentleman named Bob Collar. Mr. Collar was what we call in our business… a “Trade Embalmer”. He worked for several different funeral homes in the Chicago area as their embalmer. He would go into the funeral home… walk straight to the morgue… embalm the body… and leave. That was his job. That was his only job.

Bob Collar took me in under his wing for about two years. I was an embalmer apprentice under him. I was able to see just about every type of embalming case there was. (I will not go into details about the different cases in this blog.)  He was on call 7 days a week/ 24 hours a day. There were many days where he did not sleep for two days in a row.

Bob Collar, in my opinion, was the very best embalmer I have ever met.

Several years ago, after living in Cleveland for almost 20 years, I tried to find Bob Collar. I knew he had retired and moved to Kissimmee, Florida. That was all I knew. I called a funeral home in Kissimmee,  (which just happens to be called Grissom Funeral Home as well), and to my deep sadness… they told me Bob had passed away. Rest In Peace, Bob. Thank you for all you did to help me learn the “Art of Embalming”

I have been embalming human remains since I was 20 years old. I am 50 years old now. You do the math.

I have embalmed thousands of bodies throughout those years. I have served thousands of families at Grissom Funeral Home in Cleveland. I have embalmed and served “one body and one family” at a time. I love what I do. I care very much for the families that I serve.  I want them to be pleased when they arrive at the funeral home for the first viewing and see their loved one for the first time.

There are no more rewarding words to an embalmer, from a family member, than when they look at you and say…”They look so good. Thank you for all you did.”  We, as embalmers, have a very calming and appreciative spirit when we hear those words. We know the time we have spent preparing their loved one has paid off with hearing such a compliment. It means more than any amount of money you could imagine.

Most embalmers I know are not in the funeral business for the money. Most embalmers I know do what they do because they have a passion and a deep love for helping others. They have a “servant’s heart” and want to take good care of the families they are serving. They sacrifice nights, weekends, holidays, birthdays, and ballgames, church or whatever it takes, to serve the families.

Bob Collar use to have a saying. When he would come in the morgue at 2 a,m, or 3 a,m, or on a holiday or a weekend, Bob would look at me and say… “Helluva way to make a living. Are you sure this is what you want to do?”

I said it then… and I will say it 32 years later. “Yes, Bob, this is EXACTLY what I want to do!”

Until next time.

Go Cubs!

Growing Up a P.K.

Loving the Cubs... and other problems I have Mark Grissom beaverdamusa.comI grew up in a Church of God Preacher’s home. I was a “Preacher’s Kid”. Also known as a “P.K.”

I know most of you reading this blog have a very hard time believing that I was a preacher’s kid… but it is true. I have told many people “this apple” fell very far from the tree! My dad is the greatest man on the face of God’s green earth. He is a “Saint” in my eyes.

I know the Catholic Church has certain criteria that a Bishop or Priest must follow to become a Saint. However, my father has passed my criteria and that is all that matters. I have never heard my dad say a bad word in 50 years of being his No. 2 son.  He is a “perfect” person, or at least as close as one can get here on earth, in my eyes. My dad possesses every characteristic of the “fruits of the spirit”.

I know I talk a lot about my dad. I know I brag on my dad all the time. He deserves everything I say and a whole lot more. If you do not like the fact that I brag on my dad, please don’t read my blogs. As Staples Office Supply would say… “That was easy!”

I am very proud to have been raised a “P.K.”  I will be the first to admit that a lot more expectation was placed on me growing up in church than most of the member’s kids. I was expected to be a role model for the other young people in our church. I had to go above and beyond what was expected of the other kids in my age group.

I will admit, there were many times that “higher expectation” would bother me. I was always expected to be in every church service. I was expected to be at every church function. I was expected to be at every Awanas Club meeting. I was expected to play my trumpet during every church service.

Simply put… I was expected to be the very best Christian young man in the church.

My mother, God rest her soul, would put the fear of God in me if I did not do “all of the above” and then some! I was not allowed to talk in church. Back when I was a kid, you NEVER even thought of bringing food or drink into the sanctuary. It was a place of reverence and respect. You never brought a GameBoy or a coloring book or an iPad or whatever else it is that kids bring with them to church these days.

When church started… you behaved and paid attention and kept your mouth shut… or you paid for it when you got home!

I remember many times, my mother reaching over and pinching the fire out of the back of my leg because she thought I was misbehaving. I wanted to scream to the top of my lungs! OUCH!! STOP IT!! But I knew I better not do that. As a matter of fact, I probably deserved it!

There was no room for foolishness in the “house of God”. Neither one of my parents would tolerate any misbehaving or cutting up during service. You were there to worship the Lord and respect the presence of God in the service. When the opening hymn began… it was time for serious business with the Lord!

Fast forward to 2014.

I owe my mom and dad all the thanks and appreciation in the world for raising me the way they did. I could never thank either one of them enough for raising me in the fear and admonition of the Lord. I could spend from now until next year thanking them for teaching me the Bible and it would never be enough. I love them dearly for bringing me up in a church where you opened the hymnbook on Sunday and sang the hymns that had true meaning and depth and the writers of those hymns put much thought and prayer into their lyrics and music.

To this day, I still prefer to sing hymns out of the church hymnal. I was grieved many years ago when the church I was attending did away with the hymnbooks and started singing songs from a large white screen in the front of the church. Songs that nobody knew the words to. Songs that they sang over and over and over and you still could never learn the words… or the meaning for that matter.

I am proud to be a member at First United Methodist Church in Cleveland, Tennessee where every Sunday we still sing the hymns out of the Hymnal. We still sing songs written by Charles Wesley and many others in the faith from years and years ago. Songs that have such depth and meaning that when you are standing there singing and reading those words, you almost cannot help but start crying.

Everything inside of me… Every part of my being that has any and all desire to serve the Lord and to do right and to live right… I owe to my precious mom and dad.

I still have times where I make mistakes in life. I still have times, even at the age of 50 that I screw up and don’t always do the right thing. But when those times come, I have two things that I can go to in my life that will pull me out. I have two things to remember that will help get me back on the straight and narrow. I have two things that, to my dying day, will keep me at the foot of the cross and serve the Lord with all my heart.

Those two things… The fact that Jesus died on the cross and shed his blood for my sins and His Grace covers me. And the fact that two Godly, loving, caring, incredible people raised me in a Christian home and brought me up to serve the Lord and live for him daily.

Dedicated to my mom, Patty Grissom 1934 – 2010 and my dad, Rev. Tom Grissom. I love you both with everything inside of me!

The Best Coffee in Town is… Uh, Where?

Loving the Cubs... and other problems I have Mark Grissom beaverdamusa.comHello… my name is Mark… and I am addicted to coffee!

Those are the words I will say one day in a group meeting, sitting around in metal chairs in the fellowship hall of some church, with 20 other people who have the same problem I do!

I cannot go for one entire day without having a cup of coffee… or four!

I remember, as a kid growing up in Zion, Illinois, my dad had an electric percolator to make his coffee. You could smell that incredible aroma throughout the entire house on any given morning. I never drank coffee back then, but I sure did love the smell.

I think I was about 15 years old when I tried my very first cup of coffee. I was in Daniel’s Restaurant on Harlem Avenue in Bridgeview, Illinois. They served coffee in a coffee cup with a saucer back then. I filled my coffee up with dairy creamer and lots of sugar. It was soooo good!!

After I graduated High School and began working at Lawn Funeral Home, I drank coffee on a regular basis… non-stop!

I learned that it gave me energy, smelled great, tasted wonderful and kept me awake for long periods of time. Those possibly are the same reasons why I still drink coffee to this very day.

I did a little project tonight. I went all over town in search of the very best cup of coffee. I had an idea before I ever left my apartment what the winner would be, but I was totally wrong. I will tell you the winner at the end of this blog!

mark grissom loving the cubsFirst stop… Sonic. I was not even sure if they had coffee. The intercom went off… “Welcome to Sonic, may I help you please?”  “Yes ma’am, I said, I would like a cup of coffee. Do you sell coffee here?”  She replied, “Yes sir, we only have a medium size.”  So… after paying her a total of $1.85, I left with my medium cup of coffee.

Next stop… Hardee’s! Ordered a medium size cup of coffee, paid the pretty lady $1.42 and left with my second cup of coffee in hand.

Then… Burger King. This is where things went south real quick! I ordered a cup of coffee and paid the lady $1.42 (yes, same price as Hardees). Upon leaving the parking lot I burned my tongue and spilled coffee on my white shirt. All that, and the coffee was not all that great.

Next stop… Wendy’s.   The worst experience of the evening! I asked for a medium cup of black coffee. She said, “That will be $1.96 and please pull around to window No. 2.”  I pulled around to window No. 2, paid the lady the money, and she preceded to hand me a medium Frosty Shake. “No ma’am”, I replied, “I asked for a cup of black coffee”. She knew she had made an error and asked me to pull forward while she makes me a cup. She finally brought the coffee out to me, the lid was cracked, I spilled coffee on my tie, the coffee tasted bad… and she never gave me any kind of refund for the difference between my coffee and the frosty. As you can tell from the picture, Wendy’s has the smallest cups of medium coffee of anywhere I went.

Okay… here we go to McDonalds! Medium cup of Java… $1.00. Coffee is served in a very nice thermal cup with a secure, leak proof lid, and tasted GREAT! Well pleased! On a side note, my dad says McDonald’s has the best coffee around Cleveland!

Forward Ahead!

The next place I wanted to try advertises “The best cup of coffee in town”. One problem… they were closed! Formerly known as Dunkin’ Donuts.

Okay… you coffee lovers… I pull up to the drive through at Starbucks. “One medium cup of coffee, please!” I ask. “That will be $2.14… pull ahead to the next window.”  WHAT??? Two Dollars and fourteen cents for a bloomin’ cup of coffee?? However, they do serve their coffee in a very nice cup, with a burn-preventer thingy wrapped tightly around it and a little green stick in the sippee part of the lid. The coffee… AWFUL! I am very sorry, Dr. Jay McCluskey. I know how much you and your lovely wife, Michelle are big fans of Starbucks. I deeply apologize to you both! However, I am not a fan of Starbucks. Coffee is way too strong and way too expensive! Sorry, guys, just not for me!

Thanks to the encouragement of my good friend, Wayne Wilhelm, I tried the coffee at the new Speedway in town — the one next to Dr. Ken and Brian Beard’s dentist office.

Let me point out that I do NOT like coffee from any gas station. They sell gas. Their specialty is gas. Well, maybe gas and cigarettes. I have never liked coffee from any gas station. But I do own a “Roo-Mug” from Kangaroo in case of emergency.

Speedway’s coffee… YUK! Sorry, Wayne, just being honest. They advertised it was 100% Columbian. I doubt that. But it was way too hot and was not a good taste.

Now for the shocker.

I really thought, before I began my pilgrimage in Cleveland, Tennessee of all the coffee places, that McDonalds would be the ultimate winner.

Not so fast!

In my very honest opinion, the best coffee out of all the places I went, a fair price, a nice mug with a nice secure lid and one of those burn-preventer thingy’s… drum roll please… Sonic Drive In!!

If you have never purchased coffee from Sonic… take my word for it… very, very good!!

Until next time… GO CUBS!

Thank God for Cousin Brooke

In my very first blog, I told you that I have issues.

Nothing has changed. I still do!

I have shared many of those issues with you over the past several weeks and months. I still have many more to share. Be patient… I am a work in progress.

I have good days… and I have bad days.

I wish I could be more like my dad. For those of you who know my father, you will have to agree that he is like a steady ship out on the ocean. The waves of time never cause him to rock or shift. He remains constant! I have always admired that, among many other things, about my dad.

It does not take much to cause me to go from having a really great day, to all of a sudden having the worst day of my life. Someone may say something I don’t like. A car may pull out in front of me. I may spill coffee on my lap while driving down the road. I may break up with a girl I have been dating a while. The Cubs may have an off year. WHAT THE HECK?? The Cubs have an off year EVERY YEAR!!

I guess I tend to be a “moody person”. I’m sorry. I don’t necessarily like being that way… but I am just “wired” to be like that.

For many years, there has always been one person in my life that can bring me “back on track” and get me cheered up faster than anyone I know. No matter how bad of a day I might be having, this one particular person in my life can make me realize how precious life is and how much we should appreciate every day we have on this earth.

That very special person in my life is my cousin, Brooke Grissom.

Brooke lives in Trussville, Alabama, and is a computer specialist and designs web pages. She is an awesome individual.

Brooke has cheered me up on hundreds of occasions when I have been going thru a struggle in my life, or just having a bad day in general. Brooke is the light at the top of the lighthouse for me!

She always has a great big smile on her face and always looks at the positive side of life. She has her own special way of helping me to look at the bright side as well. Many times I have texted or called Brooke and told her about a problem I might be going through and right away she says something to me that totally cheers me up and gets me feeling good again.

For all the years I have had Brooke, “Brookester” as I affectionately call her, in my life… I have never known her to have a bad day or be negative about anyone or anything. If she does, she never shows it.

She is beautiful, fun, cheery, happy, loving, caring, joyful, peaceful, kind, considerate and that is just to name a few!

I do not get to see her that often. I wish I could see her more, but we both stay in touch by text or phone call on a regular basis.

She lights up my world in a way that nobody else ever could.

One more thing you might want to know about Brookester. She was born with Cerebral Palsy. Brooke has never been able to walk a day in her life. She has spent her entire life in a wheelchair. She is very limited with her arms and legs and her physical body.

Mark and Brooke Grissom

Mark and Brooke Grissom

Brooke Grissom has never walked a day in her life. But I cannot tell you the number of times that she has “picked me up” and helped me to get “back on my two feet”… and to start “walking” again!

So next time you’re having a bad day… and things are not going just the way you think they should be going. Or next time you wake up and don’t feel like going to work, or whatever your problem may be. Just remember the most beautiful, loving, happy, caring person in the world, Brooke Grissom, has to live her life confined to a wheelchair. Then come and tell me you’re having a bad day. I double dare you!

I love you with all my heart, Cousin Brooke! You are truly MY HERO!!

Until next time…


Dear Santa

Dear Santa:

We are the folks down at The Beaver Dam Roadside Tavern. You know us. We keep you cracked up all year long at our Web site, on twitter and Facebook. We’ve been good this year. Well, mostly we have. You know a little naughty goes a long way, and nice is a bit overrated. Anyway, we know you’re busy for a guy who only works 1 day a year, so here’s the list:

Professor Thorndike Sinclair never stumbles when he does SEC Pigskin Picks. He is a master behind the mic. So, we thought we might could get him some of those cool turntables like DJs have, and he could start a second career. He already has the killer smile and good looks.

Zach Clayton has been a really good… okay, well, you know he tries to be good. Hey, at least his “Music Musings” column good. That should account for something. Anyway, maybe letting him do the sound for the next Van Halen tour would be nice. Have you ever seen him do the Hey! Hey! Hey!’s to “Ain’t Talking Bout Love?” It’s Roth-like.

Mark Grissom wants a World Series Championship for the Cubs. If you cannot do that, just make him a handsome billionaire and supreme ruler of the world. That should be more doable. You know, his blog, “Loving the Cubs… and Other Problems I Have” publishes each Wednesday. Right?

David Carroll, who writes “That Guy on TV and Radio” has been a good boy this year. We really need to change that. Please bring him a $100 Gift Card for the Catfish County Tattoo and Piercing Emporium. For a piercing, we’re thinking something through the eyebrow; and let’s ink him up with a python up high on his neck so when he does the news you can see its eyes poking up over his collar.

Chely Sizemore just wants a balanced no-load mutual fund that outpaces the S&P 500. Hey, who doesnt? Are we right big guy? Oh yeah, and bring her a turtleneck, too. Everybody appreciates a good gag gift now and again.

Brother Hoyt wants either a Tennessee Vols National Championship in football or for Alabama to go 0 and 12. We know you and Jesus compare notes, so see what you can do. Which ever is easier. It doesn’t matter to him.

Ard Svenson just wants to meet Alex Trekek over a couple of Sweetwater 420s. As a matter of fact, buy yourself one while you’re at it.

Coach Billy Jack Hoover is a simple man. He’s kind of like Phil Robertson without all the facial hair and the money. All he wants for Christmas is for him and Mrs. Coach Billy Jack Hoover to have one of those all-inclusive vacations down in Jamaica. (Actually, there’s a kid down there who rushed for 1,400 yards as a high school junior, who Coach thinks might fit in well at CCHS. But don’t tell Mrs. Coach Billy Jack Hoover.)

The Sports Drive has all those super-huge sports brainiacs all crammed in that little studio. So for them, we ask for one of those big studios like Kathy Lee and Hoda have with 10 or 12 cameramen. No, wait. Camera girls who also have really big sports brains.

Okay, well that’s about it. You get to work on that now, and remember, you can deliver the presents to the Beaver Dam Roadside Tavern. We’ll have milk and cookies under the tree, which should give you enough energy to make it to the kitchen where we keep the good stuff.

Merry Christmas,

The Curse of Cubbie Nation

Surviving Scorn as a Cubs Fan
And Living to Tell About It

Loving the Cubs... and other problems I have Mark Grissom beaverdamusa.comGreetings! Thank you for checking in on my very first blog for That is enough for the welcome!

I am drinking a cup of decaf coffee and contemplating what I would like to write about. I drink coffee out of a Styrofoam cup. That’s just the way I roll. Get used to it!

I have problems. We all have problems. Some are big. Some are small. Either way, I have them….and so do you! One of my major problems is I am a life-long, die hard fan of one of the worst teams in Major League Baseball….the Chicago Cubs.

It is not my fault. I place all the blame on my father. He raised me this way. He had other options. But he chose to raise me a Cubs fan. I was five years old, living in a small town in northern Illinois, when my father took me to my very first Cubs game. I cannot remember what I did wrong to deserve that horrible punishment. I was five! What did I do? Steal a piece of lunchmeat out of the fridge? Break the lead on my big fat #2 pencil from school? Spill milk on the kitchen floor? I was five years old! What did I do that was so wrong to deserve the punishment of having to attend a Cubs game at Wrigley Field?

It was at that point I was hooked. I was born again into a religion called “Cubbie Nation”. It is a faith in which you enter and there is no returning back to normality. You will be scorned, ridiculed, beaten up, made fun of, picked on and laughed at for the rest of your days here on this earth when you are baptized a Cubs Fan!

My father and I would make our pilgrimage from Zion to the north side of Chicago about three or four times during the summer. Dad has his small, handheld AM radio to listen to WGN Radio during the game. I had my Rawlings ball glove in hopes of catching a foul ball. We ate Vienna all beef hot dogs with mustard only. No ketchup! (You never put ketchup on a hot dog if you’re from Chicago).

Programs were 25 cents and a pencil cost 5 cents. I had to have both. I had accumulated several programs throughout the years with signatures of Cubs players on them. One year, while cleaning my bedroom, my mother….”God Rest Her Soul”….threw them away. It took me many years, but I finally found forgiveness in my heart for her doing that. I doubt they would be worth anything today. The Cubs never made it to the World Series. Never! Not in 49 years of my lifetime.

As a matter of fact, the Cubs have ended up in last place in their division every year for most of my life. We had one team worse than us. The Houston Astros. As luck would have it, MLB moved them to the American League two years ago and now we have last place back all to ourselves.

I have much more to say about this subject and many other subjects in future blogs. Stay tuned.

You think you got it bad… least you’re not a Cubs fan!

Until next time!

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