Archive for November, 2007

The Dick Summer Connection – November 25, 2007

Saturday, November 24th, 2007

I’m sitting in the big black leather Papa chair in the living room right now…I’m going to have to move it over to the left a few feet pretty soon to make way for a Christmas tree, because Christmas is coming…one more time. My Lady Wonder Wench and I put our tree up on the Sunday just before Christmas…and we usually leave it up all the way through January…because… that’s how we like it. I think that’s how Christmas should be…just the way you like it.Religious people will tell you Christmas is about Christ’s birthday…and they’re right. But I’m not a religious person anymore…so how come I like it so much? Some people say Christmas is good for the economy, and they’re right too. Lots of people say Christmas isn’t even about Christmas anymore. I think even they also have a point.My buddy Big Louie, his own bad self…says, “Any time you want to understand something better, listen to the music.” If that’s the case, I’d say Jingle Bells is the Christmas song you hear most often…and it’s not really about Christ’s birthday…or shopping. It’s about people having fun together… laughing and singing and keeping each other warm on a sleigh ride. That’s my kind of song. Music is a big part of Christmas to me.

The Salvation Army volunteers are out again this year making music. Some of them are bravely blowing their trumpets and trombones right into the winter wind…others just ring a little bell and smile. They don’t do it for the pay. They do it because they love Christmas. One bitter Boston winter a long time ago, the Salvation Army rescued Christmas for a very little girl. Her dad was out of work, and things were tight for her and her mom and her brothers. That little girl is all grown up now. She has graced my life for a long time, and I love my Lady Wonder Wench very much. So, for taking care of her long before I could, thank you, Christmas…whatever you are.

My dad was a church choir master in Brooklyn. He had more than forty men and women in his choir, and a whole bunch of kids. He made it a point to have people sing carols from their family’s country of origin. A rather hefty soprano lady by the name of Anna, who worked in a card shop, sang the Carol Of The Bells from her native Russia…Skinny little Jack, who did graphics design, sang What Child Is This…his family came here from England. The only time I ever saw my proud, tough old German Grandfather cry was one Christmas eve when dad had the choir sing the second verse of Silent Night in German. Stille Nacht…Heilige Nacht.

My Grandfather left his home in Germany shortly before World War 2. He saw Hitler coming, and he wasn’t having any of what that meant. “Stille Nacht” brought him home for a moment. His tears were bitter sweet. That’s the way it is sometimes when you get to go home…but it’s only for a moment. It’s always good to go home, even if it’s only for that moment. Grosspapa was a good, loving, hard, proud man. And he didn’t hide the tears when they came. He stood there with his head held high and sang along. Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht. Going home. Having a home to go to. Thanks again, Christmas. Whatever you are.

Big boys don’t cry. But big men do. That’s part of Christmas, too. Some tears. Joseph couldn’t have been overjoyed to have his wife give birth to the child in a stable. And childbirth is never an easy thing for any woman… or any man who loves his woman. So tears belong in Christmas. Any of you guys who think that’s un-manly…I give you one statement from the bible: “Jesus wept.” Go duke it out with Him, and lots of luck. So my Christmas is made of music, laughing, loving, going home, taking care, and some tears. But there’s more.

Dad took his whole choir all around the neighborhood during the week before Christmas. Folks looked forward to it all year long. Whole blocks full of people would gather around the choir and sing along… Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Pagans… even the Atheists. All kinds of people lived in our neighborhood in Brooklyn. They all sang, and they smiled, and they wished each other well. Christmas and Hanukkah, Quanza and Solstice…it was all there…mixed up in the music, and the smiles, and the warmth of standing close together in the cold night. Music…and being close together…that’s a big part of whatever Christmas… is.

There was no mistaking Christmas… when all those people gathered together to sing with dad’s choir all those years ago. The Christians, the Jews, the Muslims, the Pagans and the Atheists. I don’t think many of those people were really thinking about Christ. And they sure weren’t thinking about shopping. They were just standing close enough together to keep warm in the cold Brooklyn night…singing… and laughing…and sometimes crying… for reasons nobody ever had to explain.

What a feeling that was for me… standing right next to Dad. I sang baritone and he sang bass. Dad’s gone now…but not completely. That feeling of standing next to him and singing…it’s still here with me…it’s mixed all the way down deep in the music of Christmas.

The pope and his priests, including my cousin Damian, will pray for peace this Christmas. As will the preachers and the rabbis and good people everywhere. Donna Sheehan and Paul Reffel are trying to get everyone to “make love for peace” on December 22, the longest night of the year. Lots of people are laughing at them, and lots of those relentless “Forces For Good In The Community” are shocked, shocked I tell you.

But think about it. Suppose there was a law that said before any country could declare war, the leader and all the people in the country would have to spend 40 days and 40 nights making love. I guarantee you, there would be no wars, because everybody would be in a complete happy state of exhaustion. Not a bad description for world peace. So add loving to what Christmas is all about. That puts music, laughing, being close, taking care, tears and loving in the mix of what makes Christmas.

My lady Wonder Wench loves the old story of the Grinch. We watch it every year before Christmas. I think the Grinch was on to something when he felt his heart grow two whole sizes…when the Whos were singing their Christmas songs. That’s something else that makes Christmas. Magic. How many birthday parties feature Happy Birthday being sung by a choir of angels? And thousands of years later…a guy in a red suit pulled by flying reindeer still celebrates that birthday by sliding down every chimney in the world, with presents all wrapped up with fancy paper and shiny ribbons…all in one night. Magic.

Please don’t forget that Magic is a pagan tradition. So is the Christmas Tree and the Yule log. And Pagans would certainly recognize Donna and Paul’s idea of making love on the longest night of the year. That was part of a sacred ritual long before there was a Christmas.

My lady Wonder Wench never had a Raggedy Ann doll when she was a little girl. They were pretty expensive, I guess. A couple of years ago, one of her friends made one for her…for Christmas. It’s been sitting over there on our couch ever since. Friends are certainly part of Christmas.

Those are some of my reasons for moving the Papa chair over a few feet to the left again this year for another Christmas tree. Christ’s birthday, music, laughs, taking care, being close together, loving, magic, some tears, going home, friends, Santa Claus and a reindeer with a red nose.

So I’ll move the Papa chair a few feet to the left…and one of our sons, Mark, and my brother John will help me bring in the tree on the weekend before Christmas. And our daughter Kris, and her daughters Jacqui and Emma, and John’s lady Beth, and our niece Julie and her mom Peggy will help my lady Wonder Wench put up the decorations. Some of them go back to parents and grandparents and beyond.

We’ll sing Silent Night together….and we’ll listen to our son Dave’s Christmas album. We’ll miss seeing our son Eric and his new bride Brenda this year. They’re honeymooning in Florida, and our son Kurt is in Oklahoma. We’ll miss them. But we’ll keep each other warm and close together…and safe in our home again this year.

Thanks Christmas. Whatever you are…one more time.

Dick’s Details Quiz – All the answers are in the current PodCast at

1- Who wrote “Happy Birthday?”

2- Who was “The Duke of Earl?”

3- What’s this year’s most popular Christmas song?”


3 right – Merry Christmas

2 right – Merry Christmas

1 right – Merry Christmas

0 right – Merry Christmas

I’ve told you what Christmas means to me. What does Christmas/Hanukkah/Quanza/Solstice mean to you? Please drop me a note: I’d like to include some of your thoughts next week. Thanks. Happy Hanukkah.

The Dick Summer Connection – November 18, 2007

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

I have a cold. A lousy, stinking, rotten, hacking, nasty cold. I genuinely can’t talk. That’s why this week’s PodCast is a re-run from last year at this time…with one sexy difference…an introduction by my Lady Wonder Wench…IN PERSON. She calls this a “man cold.” I don’t thoroughly understand what she means…but that’s not unusual either. She says, “women will understand.” They probably will.

This is about Thanksgiving and the Men Are Saints Appeal. (The M.A.S. Appeal.) Here’s the point: Men are seldom given credit for our sensitivity, intelligence and selfless behavior. For example…here in the Northeast, Thanksgiving is usually celebrated on a cold day. So where do we men traditionally encourage our women to spend the day? In the warmest room in the house which, of course, is the kitchen. We, on the other hand, in a manly display of selfless courage…throw ourselves in front of the tv screen to protect our loved ones from the terrible effects of the cathode rays that squirt out of the picture tube… especially during commercials for “erectile dysfunction” medications which, if not used under a doctor’s HMO plan, can cause us to get permanently stuck in the “upright position” so we have to walk bent over at all social functions till next March. And how much credit do we get for that traditional self sacrifice? Right! None!

How often have you seen a relatively innocent Louie-Louie Generation man at a raunchy bar go over to a woman he has never even met and invite her to the safety of his apartment to get her out of that dangerous environment? And what reward do we get? Right again. None. But we soldier on as we always have, even in the face of this shameful lack of appreciation. That’s the basis of the M.A.S. Appeal.

As you can imagine, the M.A.S. Appeal is frequently not well received by certain people with more evolved levels of social sensitivity and mostly higher voices. But as a member of the Louie-Louie Generation, I have to keep in mind the words of Big Louie, His Own Bad Self…”If your eyes hurt after you drink a cup of coffee, next time remember to take the spoon out of the cup first.” (Actually, he said, “There are just some things a guy can’t control”…but for some reason possibly related to my cold, my eyes are hurting right at the moment.)

And it is true that I sometimes lose control of parts of me…like my left eyebrow which always seems to flip up when my Lady Wonder Wench walks into a room wearing some of those little outfits she calls “quite comfortable.” And occasionally under those circumstances, my fingers absolutely refuse to behave themselves, no matter where I try not to put them.

My theory is that a guy’s brain swims in a sea of testosterone, which absorbs some of the shock of getting hit in the head by baseballs, Yanni’s music, and high levels of excess verbal communication. Testosterone, you will remember, is a preservative. And a preservative stops stuff like germs and fungi from maturing. So testosterone is an anti-maturing chemical. And I have a lot of it…which is probably the main reason for the M.A.S. Appeal.

Seriously, scientists with degrees from actual schools (as opposed to Internet schools which will give you a degree for life experience and your bank account id plus password) agree that the shorter your pointer finger is compared to your ring finger, the more testosterone you have. Fortunately, some truly caring and lovely ladies I have known have come up with better… although I guess slightly less scientific… tests. (I’m willing to bet that roughly 100% of you guys are now comparing the length of your ring finger with the length of your pointer finger. This could cause a new wave of Email offers to lengthen and thicken ring fingers if the news ever leaks out.)

Everybody likes Thanksgiving. But I must admit that I liked it a lot more before the discovery of salmonella poisoning…which is what the government says you get from turkeys. I think what happens is that tiny little turkey dwelling salmon get into your blood and swim up stream to your brain to spawn…which causes you to completely lose control of your higher reasoning functions, which is what makes you rush to the mall to go shopping.

That’s why I always warned my radio listeners to cook their turkey in an oven turned up to stun for at least two quarters of the football game, then give a piece to the dog and watch closely for signs of any fishy symptoms…like he goes chasing after a lot of little salmon that only he can see.

Dick’s Details Quiz – All answers are in the current podcast at

1- What kind of cold does Wonder Wench say I have?

2- Who was the recording artist who made the statement “Hellooo Baaaby” the mating call heard in singles bars coast to coast?

3- What’s the big peanut butter promotion Wendy’s is missing out on?


3 – right – Turkey, mashed potatoes & gravy, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and slightly hardened apple cider.

2 – right – Turkey tv dinner.

1 – right – Peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

0 – right – Something that tastes like chicken.

Lots of things to be thankful for this year…again. Despite this cold… pretty good health especially for a “Louie-Louie guy my age”…My Lady Wonder Wench, family and friends who put up with me, a job I enjoy, this blog and PodCast…(and by the way, thank you…some of you have been telling friends about it and the counter numbers are going up), a nice place to live, my own little airplane, and a pile of dreams, some of which still might come true.

Sometimes I’m almost embarrassed by how good things are for me. But as Big Louie, His Own Bad Self always says…”huh?” I’ll bet most of you who are lucky enough to be Americans know some of that feeling.

If you think Thanksgiving should be about more than just turkey and gravy, here’s a suggestion: Send a note to “An American Soldier”- Walter Reed Army Hospital – 6900 Georgia Ave. N.W. Washington, D.C. 20307. Just say “Thanks.” As Captain Kangaroo always used to say…”that’s a magic word.” By the way, maybe you didn’t know about Capt. Kangaroo. His real name was Bob Keeshan. Before he became “The Captain” he was a U.S. Marine Sergeant. Sgt. Keeshan was awarded the Navy Cross for heroism exhibited in the initial landing at Iwo Jima in World War 2.

Thanks. Dick Summer 

My email is


The Dick Summer Connection – November 11,2007

Saturday, November 10th, 2007


I love “Once upon a time”. Stories rule. Especially true ones like this. Once upon a time… 4:18 AM last night to be specific. I was asleep…in the middle of a dream that seemed to have something to do with Catherine Zeta Jones. I didn’t even notice my Lady Wonder Wench getting out of bed and going for a potty break. But just as Catherine Zeta was smiling seductively and introducing me to her twin sister in my dream… Wonder Wench cut loose with a shriek that must have cracked windows all the way to Greg’s house down the block.

Without even waiting for instructions from my brain, my legs did about a quarter of a mile in 1.2 seconds…because I was lying on my side… but in the process, somehow one foot hit the floor…which, of course, caused me to run right into Mr. Wall. That woke me up enough to realize that Wonder Wench had either seen an asteroid the size of Asia hurtling directly toward us, The New York Mets had blown another pennant race, or there was a mouse loose somewhere within our zip code.

The bathroom door slammed, and a pink streak flashed into the bedroom and up onto a chair. It was pretty obvious that Ms. Wench was considering climbing up to an even safer position on top of her dresser. Now, as a Louie-Louie Generation guy…I’ve been around long enough to know that trying to calm a woman down with words while she is trying to climb up on her dresser is not only not going to work… it’s like trying to put out a kitchen fire with a can of gasoline. It was obviously time for action. I was going to have to go head to jaws with the mouse. Mano a mouso. Me against Mickey. And it wasn’t going to be a catch and release…Ms. Wench was calling for a scalp. Mickey had to go down.

So I quickly slipped on my slippers and pulled on some shorts to protect my most vulnerable parts from possible retaliation on the part of the mouse…grabbed my baseball glove from the top of the closet…and went on the attack.

I opened the bathroom door just a crack, so he couldn’t come running out… and up my leg…and there he was…about two inches long… probably weighing in at three or four ounces…trying to hide behind the bathroom scale…two malevolent red eyes gleaming…fangs bared…tail thrashing back and forth in anticipation of the battle. My plan was to distract him by talking to him, while my baseball glove hand sneaked around behind him for the grab.

Things were going well. I was bent down just a couple of feet from the snarling monster…my baseball glove just inches away from a catch… when he suddenly jumped…vertically…right up into the air…a good two feet…right at my face…as if he were on the attack. I did a quick retreat and tripped over the spare toilet paper holder and landed on my fanny. The mouse countered by jumping behind the wicker laundry basket. I slowly and carefully pulled the basket away from the wall. I could see him…lurking… looking up at me.

He was obviously way too fast for me to catch him or to hit him. So this morning, I got some mouse poison and a couple of traps, and I put them around the house. And, sure enough, right after lunch I went down to the computer room…and there he was. Motionless. Sprawled out on the carpet. Dead. I guess I should have felt victorious. But I couldn’t help think of the contrast here. He’s about three ounces by three inches. I’m about five ten and 180 pounds. And he battled me to at least a draw. I couldn’t beat him when it was just mano a mouso. I had to bring in a cowardly weapon of mouse destruction to do the job.

I know…I didn’t have much choice…if I was going to pry my Lady Wonder Wench off the dresser, I had to go mano a mouso. But I kept thinking about when I was a kid…how much fun I had with the story about “hickory dickory dock… The mouse ran up the clock”…and how I always told our kids the story about “the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse”…and a long time ago…television sets had rabbit ears…but they also had those mouse ears that Annette Funicello wore on her head… and everybody sang…M I C…See you again tomorrow…K E Y…Why? because we like you…M – O – U – S – E. Good night, Mr. Mouse. You did good. You didn’t beat me, but I didn’t beat you either. Your mamma would be proud. You did good.

Dick’s Details Quiz – All the answers are in the current PodCast at

1- At which hour of the day do people laugh the least?

2- Why should you pour leftover cola down your toilet?

3- How could an ordinary smart guy have stopped King Kong?


3- Right – Mickey Mouse Himself.

2- Right – Road Runner.

1- Right – Elmer Fudd.

0- Right – Boris/Natasha

I have a favor to ask of you. If you like this blog and or the PodCast that goes with it, I’d appreciate it if you’d tell a couple of friends, and ask them to pass it along. Nothing like having a nice group of people together…all the time… when you’re doing a “Once upon a time.” Please let me know when you do this at because I’d like to thank you for your help.