Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Where is he?

That Schillig sure is lazy. No new posts since February 2007.

Wait a minute. I switched blog sites at the request of management. You can find me here from now on.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Universal Sign for Choking

Here's a snippet from my print column today, which is in turn a reworking/reaction/recycling of pieces published here. At this rate, I may never have to write anything original again. (I know, I know, when is the last time I ever wrote anything original, you ask. I know you're out there; I can hear you breathing.)

My wife and I disagree on the effectiveness of the universal sign for choking. She believes that placing both hands to your throat is appropriate and easily understood.

I do not. It could decrease airflow to the lungs and make the choking worse. I argue that a person instinctively pounds on his chest when choking, and that this is a better signal.

The debate began at a local restaurant a few years ago when I choked on a piece of steak and began striking my chest with closed fist. My wife, apparently misinterpreting my desperate banging for the universal sign for “Me Tarzan, You Jane” or the politically incorrect sign for mental retardation, began to laugh.

Once I dislodged the offending meat (no thanks to her), I was rather angry, leading me to finish my meal in stony silence (which really wasn’t much of a punishment for her). My chest thumping is still a subject of controversy today, and whenever she hears of somebody choking, she innocently inquires if he subscribes to the Chris Schillig school of chest thumping, complete with a grossly distorted pantomime of my distress.

What do you think, gentle reader? Hands to throat, or fist to chest?

If you want more, a copy of The Review is only 50 cents. Be a pal and contribute toward my retirement, won't you?

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Frost, Ice and Snow, Man

Northeast Ohio's deep freeze continues today. When I woke up, the thermometer (actually, the automated Time and Temp voice guy) said it was 7 degrees below zero. Ouch!

Paying homage to all things frigid, here's a song parody I wrote last month, a.k.a. the good old days of December when the temperatures were an unseasonably warm 50 degrees.

Frost, Ice and Snow, Man
(to the tune of "Frosty the Snowman")

Frost, ice and snow, man,
Can turn jolly happy souls
Into lunatics who will flip their lids
When out of their drives they pull.

Frost, ice and snow, man,
Are not fairy tales, okay?
When you shovel snow
In the blowing cold
You'll be frozen for all day.

There must have been some moisture
In the arctic air that night
For when we woke up the next day
Road conditions were a fright.

Frost, ice and snow, man,
Are a drag as you can see.
When you start the car
Know you won't go far,
Before you slide right off the street.

Frost, ice and snow, man,
Kill your batteries all day.
So your car won't run
Forget having fun
While your savings melt away.

Down in the village
All the snowplows became stuck
Sliding here and there all around the square
All the drivers just said, "_ _ _ _!" *

If you venture down the streets of town
Avoid the traffic cop
He'll write you out a ticket when
You roll through a sign marked "STOP."

Frost, ice and snow, man,
Make me long for summertime
When the temps are warm
And the girls' forms
In bikinis all look fine.

* For the politically correct, substitute:
"All the drivers called tow trucks."

Monday, February 5, 2007

Cold snap

Something about today and its -3 degree low makes me nostalgic for the Chilly Willy theme song.

You remember Willy, the little cartoon penguin with the hat who was, as his name suggests, always cold? According to Wikipedia, he was the second most popular Walter Lantz Studio animated character, the most popular being Woody Woodpecker.

Anyway, here are Willy's ("Chill" to his friends) lyrics. Enjoy -- and stay warm!

I'm Chilly Willy the penguin.
I shake until I'm blue.
My head is hot and my feet are cold.
Now what about the crocodiles along the river Nile?
I'll bet they're always warm as toast.
They always seem to smile.
I'm always Chilly Willy.
I'm frozen through and through.
My nose is red and my tale is told.

Saturday, February 3, 2007

Beyond the River

Here is an excerpt from my review of "Beyond the River," this year's One Book One Community selection in Alliance. To read the entire review, see the Saturday (2/3/07) edition of The Alliance Review.

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil," goes a quote attributed to Edmund Burke, "is for good men to do nothing."

We do not know if John Rankin was familiar with the saying, but we do know his life stands as a stirring testimony to a man who refused to stay silent about one of this country’s great evils, slavery.

Rankin, whose story is recounted in this year’s One Book One Community offering, "Beyond the River" by Ann Hagedorn, was a Presbyterian minister who helped hundreds, if not thousands, of blacks who had escaped across the Ohio River from the slave-holding state of Kentucky and onto the free shores of the Buckeye State.

Beyond his active involvement in the Underground Railroad, Rankin was a tireless campaigner for the cause of abolition. He traveled far from his beloved town of Ripley to deliver the message of emancipation in front of audiences both receptive and hostile.

A collection of his writings, "Rankin’s Letters on Slavery," was widely reprinted on both sides of the Atlantic, leading many others to catch the abolitionist bug. The letters, addressed to a brother who eventually freed his slaves as a result, made Rankin little or no money, but he allowed their wide dissemination -- and sometimes paid for printings out of his own pocket –- because they advanced the cause, not because he sought to augment his meager salaries as minister and president of Ripley College.

So influential was his writing that he is viewed as a spiritual father to many other abolitionists, including William Lloyd Garrison, publisher of the antislavery newspaper, The Liberator.

Hagedorn tells Rankin’s story in powerful, unflinching prose. He is the centerpiece of her meticulous research into a time when human beings were bought and sold as cattle, when slavers roamed the shores of the Ohio River to kidnap free men and drag them back into bondage, when the United States government was torn between the demands of slaveholders on one side and abolitionists on the other.

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Censors, unite!

Here is an excerpt from the print version of Left of Center, published in The Alliance Review every Thursday:

Oscar nominees were announced last week, but an independent film debuting at the Sundance Film Festival stole most of the headlines.

"Hounddog," filmed in North Carolina and starring Dakota Fanning, created controversy after the Christian Film and Television Commission claimed it violated federal child porn laws and the Catholic League called for a federal investigation.
Apparently, the scene in question depicts a teenager raping Fanning. Those who have seen it report no nudity and a darkly lit set, leaving a lot to viewers’ imaginations.

Credit Fanning, age 12, with having more sense than most of the film’s detractors. Speaking about the scene, she said, "It’s not really happening. It’s a movie, and it’s called acting. I'm not going through anything."

Perhaps a generation raised on the Marlon Brando school of method acting believes Fanning suffered mental and physical duress during filming. If so, she is bearing up well under the pressure.

To read the rest, check out today's Review, only 50 cents at area retailers, far less by subscription.

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Bad idea

Maybe they're just urban legends, but I've always heard stories about parents rushing children to the emergency room after they've swallowed small toys or pieces of toys. Little green army men, plastic beads, costume jewelry -- anything small enough to get down their throats becomes grist for the youthful digestive mill.

Usually, doctors adopt a wait and see attitude. After all, the piece has to come out sometime, and often does no harm while doing so. A recent episode of the Fox series "House" had the good doctor sticking a knife to the outside of a kid's tummy after the kid swallowed a refrigerator magnet.

Anyway, one of the most common "swallows" are the ubiquitous Legos, those colorful building blocks (kid DNA, almost) of the prepubescent set. They're small, attractively colored, and probably awfully tempting to a hungry toddler whose mom has told him he'll just have to wait for lunch.

So can I be the only person in the world who thinks it's a bad idea that somebody has decided to make Lego fruit snacks? I saw them on my supermarket shelf this week. They look just like Legos, but edible. (Well, at least as edible as those gummy little hunks of sugar can be.)

Doesn't it seem extraordinarily stupid to encourage kids to eat something that looks so similar to something they really shouldn't eat?

Leggo my Lego ... or something like that.