Story of the Month: Search for a Slush Puppie


I mentioned in a previous post I attended a conference in Las Vegas last month.

While most guys my age would be excited to see the sites, do some gambling, maybe take in a show or take part in some kind of illicit activity I had only one goal in Las Vegas: Get a Slush Puppie.


I lived in Las Vegas 1985-1986.  One of my most vivid memories is walking back from the air show at Nellis Air Force base, stopping at the local 7-11 and getting a Slush Puppie.

I live in the south east now and we have Icees.  Everywhere are Icees.  They’re good…but they’re no Slush Puppie.  Slush Puppies are icy, thick, crunchy…all the greatest aspects of an iced fruit dessert.  They live somewhere in between Sno-Cones and Sonic Slushes.  But with a flavor that is all their own.  I haven’t had one since the 80s…and I wanted one.  Specifically cherry.  I remembered RED Slush Puppie.

The Bellagio…they had no Slush Puppies…

I stayed at the Bellagio and searched Google maps for a 7-11.  I found one on Koval lane and walked from Las Vegas Avenue, down Flamingo, to Koval.  I discovered a couple things quickly.

First, Las Vegas is an awful city to walk around in.  You can’t cross at every intersection.  The sidewalks go up and over the streets in many places which sounds like a good idea, except a lot of the time they send you back the way you came or (cleverly) back through a hotel.

Second, the gloss of Las Vegas Avenue wears off about a block after the hotels.  it gets very suburban commercial very quickly.

Third, though this may have just been new to me, the HUGE building that says it keeps books is not in fact a book store.  Turns out it’s a bookie’s.  Again that last one may have just been me.

So on I walked to Koval and, to my horror, discovered the 7-11 had a slushee machine!  Thwarted I walked back down Koval, the Am-Pm had an Icee Machine, as did the Shell station.  So I went back to Las Vegas Avenue.

Caesars Palace…sans Slush Puppies.

Walking back up LVA, I found that every convenience store had some kind of drink fountain.  I proceeded past Caesars and then walked back down toward New York, New York, stopping in two Walgreens and a CVS.  Two had Icee machines one had a generic iced beverage fountain.

I was on my own walking around in search of a Slush Puppie for around three and a half hours…to no avail.

The next night a friend and co-worker of ours who lives in the area took us to Old Vegas.  I actually loved Fremont Street far more than the glitz of New Vegas, but still was desperate to find a Slush Puppie.  We stopped at Container Park and a couple of souvenir shops in Old Vegas…again all of them had drink fountains…none had a Slush Puppie.

Circus Circus taken from the car as we drove by…they don’t have Slush Puppies there…

On the way back I saw Circus Circus, the only casino I visited in Vegas when I lived here in the 80s. It was good to see the big creepy clown again…but the lack of Slush Puppies made the trip far less successful than I’d hoped.  Bereft of Slush Puppies I returned to Nashville.

Old Vegas Casinos…which don’t serve Slush Puppies.

After returning home my boss, who had to hear my various schemes to get a frozen dessert surprised me at work with a bag.  In the bag were ten little pouches…each pouch had a Slush Puppie I could put int he freezer and have whenever I wanted.

Turns out the Slush Puppie I looked all over Vegas for was available at home, in the stores.  Not quite the same (I’d kill for one from a fountain machine!) but after cracking one open I soon found I was also after the wrong puppie!  I remembered strawberry.

It goes to show you…you may go thousands of miles in search of something…and find that maybe what you wanted was a lot closer to home than you thought.

Story of the Month: Nightmare on Elm Street and the Cure to Horror


I grew up as an air force kid, moving where my father was stationed.  In 1987, he was stationed at Nellis Air Force Base, outside of Las Vegas and every few weeks took the windowless plane to Groom Lake (yep Area 51) to participate in classified activities.  What this meant for me was that I lived in the little base housing community at the end of the Nellis flight line.  We were there until he retired that winter, and it was here that I had a formative Halloween experience.

I rarely rained while we were in Vegas, but when it did it was torrential, often resulting in low flash floods.  My sister and I (My sister was nine and I was six at the time) were always fans of Halloween and being scared (my mom once chased us around the house in a weird theatrical art mask) and we adored Ghostbusters so we were eager for Halloween.  I think this was the year of our glow-in-the-dark skeleton costumes and masks…though I may be wrong.

Unfortunately for us there would be no trick-or-treating in the small base housing neighborhood.  That Halloween night we had one of the worst rain storms we experienced while in Nevada and it curtailed all door-to-door candy hunting.  My mom, also a Halloween nut decided we wouldn’t go quietly into the Halloween night, however, and we took a trip to our local video rental store to get some good horror movies and treats since to prevent the weather from dampening our Halloween spirit.

My mom rented A Nightmare on Elm Street 1-3.  We went home settled in and started the movies.

I honestly can’t say I remember much about that first viewing.  Other than abject terror.  My mom fell in love with Freddy, I thought, “Now I’m not even safe in my dreams!”  At that age I was kind of scared of everything.  It didn’t help having an older sibling who liked to frighten you, but Freddy was a whole new level.  I distinctly remember the creepy way Freddy’s arms extended in the alley while chasing Tina.  He brutal death.  How eerie her appearance in the body bag was.  I remember Kristen in 3 running down the hallway with a child’s skeleton that yelled at her “Put me down you’re hurting me!” a phrase my sister and I tortured each other with for years.  And I remember being more scared than I ever was before.  My six-year-old brain couldn’t handle all it was seeing.

The fear actually lasted for days.  My mom actually got annoyed and told me I couldn’t even watch Ghostbusters again until I got over it.  At one point I carried my Ray Stantz action figure proton pack down the halls with me for protection.  And even though she was annoyed, my mom tormented us a bit with the line, “Freddy’s gonna get you if you don’t watch out!”

My intrinsic fear of all things and everything lasted for a long time.  Even after moving from Las Vegas to Nashville I can remember being afraid walking down the long dark hallway of my parents’ house to my room.  Not wanting to look from my room to the living room into the shadows.  Keeping Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles action figures, dinosaur toys, and stuffed animals around my room as active guards while I slept…  It seemed I’d be one of those people who was afraid of anything even kind of scary.

Then one day…I just got over it.  The fear of the dark and of fictional monsters started to fade and horror movies lost their effect.  I loved slasher movies and can remember sometime between the ages of 10-12 watching a Friday 13th movie marathon with my sister at my grandparents’ house on some Thanksgiving or Christmas.

These days I have a hard time being afraid of anything “scary.”  Yeah movies can creep me the eff out (The Grudge and Paranormal Activity 3 both achieved this) but nothing has made me afraid to that level again.  I started thinking of it as an adult and I told my mom I think she gave me a horror movie inoculation.  I received the most terrifying dose of something as a kid and later in life I might get some mild cases but nothing too devastating.  Even to the point where I volunteer to walk with ghosts and jump at the chance to see if the latest “most scary movie evvarr!” is actually scary at all (usually those are just dumb).

I had the chance to see Robert Englund in Nashville a few years ago and considered telling him that he and Wes Craven scared me so much as a kid that I was scared of everything for 3 years afterward but then never scared again.  I know Robert must hear “you scared me so much” a lot, playing one of the world’s iconic horror personality.  But I wonder if he’s ever been told his brand of horror actually cured people of fear?  If not I’ll be the first to tell the world: A Nightmare on Elm Street scared the fear right out of me.  My hope for the genre is that maybe someday someone will make a movie that can actually put the fear of horror back into me…but until then at least my last real Hollywood scare was by one of the best.

Story of the Month: April Fooled

On this April Fool’s day I thought a story of how I was fooled by no one in particular and how it was the most fooled I’ve been in ages..

I have a lil Russian Blue cat named Rasputin (Raz or Raz-cat for short).  Raz is a weird little animal and he plays with everything, but one of his favorite toys is the springy doorstops that stop doorknobs from crashing through dry wall.  He’s crazy but he’s soft and sweet and likes to sleep on the pillow next to my head.


One night a few weeks ago I was asleep around midnight when I heard the sproy-yo-yo-yoing of one of the doorstops.  I sat up and thought “what is that little maniac doing…” when I noticed Raz sitting bolt upright next to me.  Then my sleep-addled brain caught up with the situation; if Raz was here…what hit the doorstop?


I turned on the light and looked at my bedroom door, which was propped open.  I have a few wooden swords leaned up behind it but both were still standing.  Then I slowly looked up and realized it must have been the door in the game room across the hall.  The door was closed.  I live on the second floor and that room is the only window accessible from the outside.  The rest of my windows are all two stories up and unless you’re Spiderman you’d have trouble breaking in through them.

I immediately started thinking of what I could use as a weapon, and it occurred to me that all of the most useful stuff was in the living room…not wanting to cross in front of the door in question I looked around my room and the only weapon I could find was a replica Danish War axe leaning against my book shelf.  It’s not a convenient indoor weapon, about 42 inches long with a 7-pound axe head at the business end.  A quote from Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels went through my head, “I don’t want to blow the arsehole out of the world, but I don’t want nobody blowing a raspberry at me either…”  It’s kind of a ridiculous weapon in a CQC situation, but it was all I had.


Still I picked it up and headed toward the door.  Raz was sitting in the bed looking at me and the game room door with an expression that read, “Was it in there?  You’re not going in there are you?”


I leaned against the wall next to the door and listened.  I didn’t hear anything in there.  I decided not to be an idiot and yell out “hello?” and resolved when I opened the door I’d slam it open to go with the shock and awe tactic. I silently braced my shoulder against the door, took a deep breath (looked back at Raz who looked like he was saying “don’t do it…don’t open the door!”) and barged into the door.

To my shock something was pushing back.  The door wouldn’t open as if someone was leaning on the other side or had their foot on the bottom of the door to keep me from opening it.

I pushed harder and went in, axe handle first (I decided I didn’t want to swing that thing and get it caught on the door jamb…).  The door finally opened and I flipped the light on.  I didn’t find any medieval intruders…I found my rolled up Frontline game mat, which I keep standing behind the game room door, had fallen across the doorway and hit the door stop.  I actually fell to me knees and laughed.  Raz looked at me like I was nuts.


I’m paranoid, so I still searched the rest of my house before calming down and going to bed.

I learned a couple of good lessons from this incident.  First: It never hurts to be cautious but don’t always assume the worst.  Second, and maybe more importantly, Danish War Axes are not ideal for home defence.

Story of the Month: The Failure of Zombie Cookies


Halloween more than any other holiday is a “pot luck” holiday to me.

This year rather than just do something store bought I thought I’d go all out and MAKE something.  While I’m actually a pretty good cook, I’m a lousy baker, but I put that aside and decided to try my hand at making some cookies.  I found some really clever Thriller style dancin’ zombie cookie cutters and thought I’d make a nice Halloween zombie horde.

Knowing my limitations I decided against making dough from scratch and bought some tubes of sugar cookie dough.  I rolled it out and following the instructions got it to a certain thickness before applying the cutters.  As soon as I removed the cutter, however, the cookie fell to pieces.  I determined the dough to be too thin and re-rolled it a bit thicker.  I applied the cutter again, and upon removing it only the head and arms and legs stuck this time, leaving just a zombie torso.  .  While dismembered would be in-theme, it seemed like too much of a mess up again and I decided to scrap those too.

At this point the dough started to get sticky so I re-floured it and put it in the fridge.  After letting it chill I re-rolled it thicker and tried the cutters again.  This time when I took the cookie cutter off the arms and legs stretched WAY out making an octopus-armed zombie.  At this point I started to get angry.  Like REALLY angry.

I re-rolled the whole batch SUPER thick and used the cutters finally having cookies survive the process:


I didn’t have a cookie sheet so I put six of them on a pizza pan, put them in the oven to cook, and continued to cut the rest of the dough, making 30-40 dancin’ zombies.

When the timer went off and opened the oven and found the six zombie cookies I was baking had merged into one GIANT cookie on the pan.  Apparently cutting them thick enough to survive the cutters meant they were so thick they swelled and spread out while cooking!20141030_161330

They shattered into a mess when I took them off the pan and I tried to make only twoto see if they’d just swell without merging into a zombie-cookie-blob form.  It made this:

I made Venus of Willendorf Cookies



Finally furious beyond imagining I yelled “F*CK THIS!” wadded the rest up into a bowl and bought some friggin cookies at the store on the way in the next morning.

Though admittedly the pics of my baking failure and the story was a bigger hit at the pot luck than any dessert I could’ve made.

Here’s hoping if anyone has to do any baking for the rest of the holiday season it goes better than my experiment and failing that you at least get as good a story out of it…

Story of the Month: Shadows of The Ring

StoryoftheMonthOne of the traits I’m best known for as an adult is my inability to get scared by horror genre media.  TV shows, movies, haunted houses (even the “real” kind) don’t really scare me.  It’s probably because I was scared of everything ever from 5-10 years old and got it all out of my system.  This is a case of, while not being scared really, showing the effects something SCARY can have on even someone like me…

Horror movies of late have been less scary than ever.  The torture genre is just uncomfortable to watch, not scary or even fun.  Most of the other genres have just been done to death.  During the early 2000s the US was invaded by Asian horror, and it was a kind of horror I had never seen.  My introduction to this kind of film was 2002’s The Ring.

I saw this on my College’s free movie channel my senior year.  This channel showed second-run theater films at 7 PM and often again at 9 or 10.  I saw a lot of movies that way and when the showed The Ring at one of the “late shows.”  I won’t go into the movie.  Great tension, creepy imagery, and one of the best horror film finales in recent memory.  It made an impact and the crazy video tape and thrilling climax really stuck with me.  I enjoyed the film, but wasn’t creeped out or scared really, and went to bed right after it went off.

At the time I lived in a sparse single-dorm room.  Just a computer, desk, fridge, TV dresser, and bed with four posts.

I woke up sometime after three and caught sight of a shadowy figure at the end of my bed.  I froze for a split second pondering options…no don’t hide under the covers…no don’t scream for help…or say “is someone there.”  There was a shadow…a small, child-sized shadow…like a little girl with hair over her face…like Samara from The Ring standing at the right corner of the foot of my bed.

The split second passed and I made my decision.  I gave the creepy shadow a sharp, fast KICK with my right foot smacking the lil creepy thing right in her dark face.   Then felt the stinging pain in my foot as though I’d kicked a 2×2 post of pine…mostly because there was no creepy girl ghost at the foot of my bed…it was my hoodie draped over the right corner post of my bed.  So I actually HAD kicked a 2×2 piece of pine with all my might and really damaged my foot.  Seriously it still gets sore 12 years later.

So it goes to show you, no you might not feel scared from a movie, no you might think a horror movie is simple fun and didn’t effect you at all…but when you least expect it shadows enter your imagination and you might be more effected than you think!

Shadowy monster or Halloween decor shadow? You decide!
Shadowy monster or Halloween decor shadow? You decide!

Story of the Month: The Quest for the Stereo and the Spirit of the 90s


It’s strange that the 90s still feel “new” to me. The early 2000s feel passé and ancient. Things about the 90s still stick with me and despite the “convenience” of new technology I miss some of the aspects of “inconvenience” of my teenage years. Columbia Record Clubs, VHS and DVD rentals, Magazine research…it’s all stuff that, though it may still exist, isn’t a main part of the culture anymore… My first CDs came from Columbia record Club! And I could only play them in my Sega CD….through a mono-TV.

Thinking of this reminded me of buying my first stereo. It was 1997. I’d had them given as gifts before, Christmas and Birthday presents. The one that I was replacing was indeed a birthday present from my 15th Birthday. It was a TWO disc changer. And it seemed so cool. It had two trays on the top and they would swap places when the discs were changed (I knew so little I once tried to put my Full Throttle PC-CDROM into it to play the great Gone Jackals soundtrack… It didn’t work… But I DID get that soundtrack…from Columbia House!). The stereo started to skip and the changing mechanism didn’t work. I’d saved up some money and went to get myself a brand new stereo. We started out early, about 10 AM. I was kind of excited.

In the 90s, in my area, there were only a few places to go. Circuit City, H.H. Gregg, and Media Play. I usually went to Circuit City, but I remember H.H. Gregg had a sale on them so my mom drove me there. I picked out an AMAZING 5 disc changer. Brought it home, hooked it up, ran my TV and video games systems through it. Connected my parents’ old MASSIVE JBL speakers…and it didn’t work. I tried repeatedly and it didn’t work. So we took it back. H.H. Gregg said they would only offer to fix it, we explained it was a BRAND NEW item and they reluctantly let us exchange it. Unfortunately they didn’t have the one I bought so I downgraded to a three-disc changer, OK with the savings in money, and brought it home. I went through the rigmarole of hooking it back up and…guess what… It didn’t work. Acted like there was no CD in the tray. So we boxed it up and brought it back. The store manger came out and didn’t believe us that it didn’t work. I remember he went in the back and came out with a CD on his finger. He put it in, pressed play, and….it didn’t work. He said “It’s like it’s not reading the CD at all…” My mom, if I recall, responded “No shit.” We got my money back and went to Circuit City.

Old Circuit City buildings had these cool entrances with red-plastic floors covered in circles. it felt like something out of Total Recall. Shopping here was like being in a sci-fi movie…

I felt more comfortable here. We’d purchased PCs from here before with 2 year warranties. Typically when they died after 18 months or so we’d activate the warranty and they’d replace the PC with one that cost the same NOW as the one we got THEN. It means essentially a free-upgrade system if the PC went bad. They quit doing that after a few years.

I found a nice Philips 5 disc changer and took it home. I quit hooking up all my stuff to it and took to just opening the box, plugging it into to the nearest outlet and trying it. I plugged it in. The CD played! I changed discs…and…the mechanism sounded like a pepper mill and it just sat there. We tried it again and…nope. No disc-changing. By this time it was after 3PM. It had been all day. We boxed it up, took it back, and I remember distinctly the woman and man salespeople saying, “Oh I’m sorry… I can’t believe it… Luckily this is Circuit City!” They gave us another one and we took it and went home.

It didn’t even get all the way out of the box. I pulled it out and noticed the back of it looked like it had been kicked in. We just looked despairingly at it and shrugged. I remember saying, “Screw it if it works I don’t care.” It didn’t. It didn’t even power on.

So we took it back…it was after 5PM. Walking back to the stereo section the two salespeople were standing there chatting and I remember the woman turned and saw us, looking stunned she said, “Oh you’re kidding…” I explained it looked like it someone had used it for batting practice and she said, “That’s our shipping…it’s just a box to them.”

Of course they didn’t have the one I picked out. I went to the deep end. I found an amazing-looking Sony 50-disc CD changer. It was 200 more than I planned to spend but I had it. After much consideration I bought it… Took it home…took it out of the box….and…glory be. It worked! It sounded amazing.  in fact it STILL works. It STILL sounds amazing. It as surround sound ports built in. If I want it will play all 50 discs loaded one after another.  It evens started my love affair with Sony products…in all the years I’ve bought them I’ve never had a bad one…

It's an MHC-F100.  Aftermoving it to and from college for four years, from room-to-room,'s still busting it old school.
It’s an MHC-F100. Aftermoving it to and from college for four years, from room-to-room, furniture-to-furniture…it’s still busting it old school.

Yes portable music, iTunes, Bose, have all changed the way we play music, but that experience plus the quality and awesomeness of this system still sum it up for me. Nothing sounds better than a CD…and it sounds all the sweeter knowing the system I found at the end of that capitalist-consumer quest is still alive and kicking. A bit like the spirit of the 90s to me.