Sunday, November 30, 2008

Davie Allan 8-track

Another fictional release by the Fuzzmaster General - created in the Icehouse home office.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

“Dollar-Menu Motorvator”

c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a busy morning at the reborn McDonald’s on Water Street, in Chardon.

As I considered a breakfast of hash browns, eggs, and sausage, snowflakes blew playfully against the window behind my booth. CNN headlines buzzed from the television. The gas fireplace glowed with hopeful intensity.

I sipped my coffee, while waiting.

Suddenly, a frosty figure appeared in the doorway. He shook ice crystals from his shaggy hair and beard, like a wild beast. Then, he peered around the room through fogged eyeglasses.

It was Ezekiel Byler-Gregg, Editor Emeritus of the Burton Daily Bugle.

A cheer sounded across the restaurant. “Hello, Zeke!”

I raised my cup in a blue-collar toast. “Good morning, old friend!”

Zeke took a seat by the fire. “My truck didn’t want to start this morning. But then, neither did I…”

“Let me get you a coffee,” I said.

He plopped a stack of newspapers on the table. “Before you go - look at these headlines!”

I pretended not to hear. Customer traffic at the counter remained brisk. But in only a moment, my order was filled.

“Rodney!” he exclaimed as I returned. “Did you hear me?”

“Yeah, yeah,” I answered. “Here’s your Java,”

Zeke rubbed his hands together for warmth. “Geauga County depends on the rest of Ohio. And Ohio depends on the ‘Big Three’ in Detroit…”

I raised an eyebrow. “Okay, I agree… is that your headline?”

“It will be, on Thursday,” he promised. “Readers in Burton want to know how their families and neighbors will be affected by this situation!”

I nodded. “That sounds like a sensible deduction…”

He snorted with disbelief. “This story is like something out of a Hollywood drama!”
I couldn’t argue.

“GM, Ford and Chrysler facing extinction - who would’ve thought such a thing could happen?” he fumed.

I cleared my throat. “Well, actually…”

Zeke looked up from his pile of papers. “What? Were you going to say something, Rodney?”

“Just this,” I replied. “We’ve known since the 1970’s that living with an oil-based economy was problematic and unpredictable. Steps were taken over thirty years ago to encourage fuel-efficiency from automobiles and develop alternatives. But elected officials from both major parties abandoned the effort over time. We grew complacent. Now, the nation is paying a dreadful price for our apathy…”

He grinned broadly. And then, laughed out loud.

My puzzlement couldn’t be hidden. “Did I say something funny?”

Zeke narrowed his eyes. “Not something funny, my friend. Something profound!”

“Really?” I said.

He pulled a yellowed page of newsprint from his pile. It was a copy of The Geauga Times-Leader from 1977.

“Read the advertisement for Chevrolet,” he said dramatically.

I scanned the page, then began to read out loud:

“It’ll drive you happy – The Chevette from General Motors. 43 miles per gallon on the highway. 31 miles per gallon in the city…”

“Keep going,” he said.

I strained to see the smaller print:

“Smile. You’ve just read the highest EPA estimates for any car built in America. Ever. Chevy Chevette with available 1.6 litre engine and manual transmission. And keep on smiling, there’s more. Chevette has more headroom than many mid-sized cars. More horsepower this year. A hatchback that opens up over 26 cu. ft. of carrying space. One of the tightest turning circles of any car in the world. A diagnostic connector for quick electronic service checks. A service manual written for do-it-yourselfers. A unitized body that’s corrosion protected. And over 6,000 Chevy dealers everywhere.”

Zeke grunted. “Read it all, Rodney!”

I read the final sentences with sheer amazement:

“If 43 and 31 are your kind of numbers, stop by a Chevy dealer soon. He has some more numbers you’ll like too: Chevette’s price.”

My compatriot bowed his head with satisfaction. “I rest my case!”

I was confused. “What??”

“We are on the same track here!” he exclaimed.

I shrugged my shoulders. “Okay, Zeke. You’re reasoning is often a mystery. But this one has me flustered…”

“I’m agreeing with you,” he laughed. “Completely!”

“Right,” I whispered.

“This story is about more than financial chaos,” he observed. “It speaks to the failure of our leaders and institutions to stay focused on national priorities. We all knew what needed to be done. In a sense, the first steps had already been taken. But we got lost along the way.”

I sighed. “So, what did Americans know in 1977 that we forgot thirty-one years later?”

“We knew that tomorrow was a promise – not a guarantee,” he said. “A civilization has to build their future. With hard work, careful judgement, and persistence.”

My face reddened. “So you mean there’s plenty of guilt to go around?”

He pointed a finger in the air. “Exactly! Three decades ago, our workers made affordable, thrifty products available to customers from Maine to California. It was an equation in which everyone benefited. So why did that change?”

I wandered into a moment of reflection. “My Chevette was a 1981 model. A four-door, four-speed version, painted beige. I got a Sparkomatic in-dash stereo for it, at Fisher’s Big Wheel.”

Zeke snickered. “Mine was a ’78 Chevette ‘Scooter’ model. Very, very cheap. Sort of like a car from the Mickey D’s Dollar Menu!”

My reminiscence continued. “I could run from Chardon to central New York State on three-quarters of a tank of gas. It was small and slow, but cheap to drive.”

He nodded. “It got a generation of Americans where they needed to go!”

“At the time, it seemed like everyone had a Chevette,” I remembered. “My friends Paul and Patrick both had them… so did Tammy at work. And Rachael. And Sandy…in fact, Michelle from Maple Leaf Plaza had the Pontiac T-1000 version…”

He pounded the table. “It was a rite of passage in the 70’s and 80’s. Everybody had some kind of Chevette!”

“It wasn’t a ‘status’ vehicle,” I said. “Owning a Chevette didn’t elevate your social standing, or help your dating life. But it meant you had money left over at the end of the week. They’d run all day on a gallon of fuel…”

“Yes!” Zeke shouted forcefully.

“My friend Paul even wanted us to start a band called ‘The Three Chevettes’ and go on tour with our personal fleet,” I said.

Silence followed my comment. I had wandered too far into yesterday.

“Well anyway, what is your conclusion from all of this?” he said at last.

I pondered for a moment. “That we should take a page from history? And learn from our mistakes?”

He slumped over the table, in a heap of flannel and denim. “Build it, and they will come back!”

“B-build it?” I stuttered. “You mean, build a modern Chevette?”

“Yes,” he whispered. “Yes!” He stood upright, and saluted. His voice followed a crescendo into all-out enthusiasm. “Yes, yes, yes!!”

Before I could answer, he bundled his newspapers, and left the table.

“This time, America must get it right,” he insisted. “Goodbye, SUVs, musclecars, and luxury limousines! Hello Chevrolet Chevette!”

I finished my breakfast, alone. Now, it was time to write a letter to Rick Wagoner, the CEO of General Motors:

“Dear Mr. Wagoner…have I got an idea for you!”

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Wednesday, November 26, 2008


We in Cleveland know what it means to suffer for our faith - because we are fans of The Cleveland Browns.

The team announced yesterday that starting QB Brady Quinn will miss the rest of 2008 because of a broken finger on his throwing hand. Having continued to play on Sunday with the injury apparently cause it to worsen. Doctors and Coach Romeo Crennel made the decision to pull Quinn for the remainder of their NFL season.

Quinn had been brought in as the starting QB after an inconsistent Browns season in which the franchise failed to develop any kind of consistency on the field.

Injuries, player squabbles, and poor game-time performances have plagued the team all year. It has been a disappointing season for those gladdened by the Browns 10-6 record for 2007.

Owner Randy Lerner has refused to speculate about the future of Head Coach Romeo Crennel or General Manager Phil Savage, until the season is finished. But many fans and journalists have speculated that both may be fired once the year is complete.

Sunday, November 23, 2008


CHARDON - Saturday, November 22nd was a day for those left behind after a tragic loss - across America, and right here in Geauga County. National Survivors of Suicide Day came into being through the efforts of Senator Harry Reid, of Nevada. Reid was moved to help create the annual remembrance after losing his own father to suicide.
In Geauga County, the day was marked by an event on the Chardon City Square that helped local residents express their own feelings about this difficult subject. A Candlelight Vigil was sponsored by Tim's House, a group founded last year by Carole Brazis.
Brazis lost her son, Tim Weed, to suicide in 2006.
This year, participants each lit a memory candle inside of the Log Cabin. Then they repeated the name of their loved one, before walking a trail around the square in silent reflection.
A somber, wintry mood present throughout the evening seemed appropriate as a backdrop for this rememberance.
Brazis observed that it was important to remember those who had been lost to suicide because their desperation represents our need as a society to do better.
"My son didn't want to die," she said.

Displayed at the Candlelight Vigil were T-shirts made by TH volunteers to express their grief at losing someone to suicide

Tim's House Director Judy Andrews at the information table

Local storyteller and performer Robin Echols Cooper played drums at the event while Victor Sparrow (right) added harmonica

Former Tim's House Director Sandy Gray with Remembrance Quilt

The Log Cabin on Chardon Square

Saturday, November 22, 2008

O-State Wins Five Years In A Row

OHIO STATE 42, Michigan 7

QB Terrelle Pryor #2

RB Maurice Wells #34

QB Todd Boeckman #17


A happy crowd at The Horseshoe in Columbus, Ohio

Friday, November 21, 2008


Thoughts At Large is a weekly column that has run in The Geauga County Maple Leaf for nearly eleven years - since February of 1998. During that incredible time, there have been many notable journalistic experiments at the Leaf Headquarters. In particular, erstwhile Editor-In-Chief Don Buchanan's attempt to make the newspaper a twice-weekly publication. This meant that TAL actually provided two different installments in a seven-day period. But the November 20th, 2008 leaf issue boasts something even more amazing...

First, the issue has a bonus 'Holly Leaf' section brimming with all sorts of seasonal features, and holiday cheer. Second, the paper carries not one, but TWO 'Thoughts At Large' columns - something that has never happened before in over a decade of wordsmithing.

Have a look at pages 12 and 13... and enjoy a double-shot of hometown ruminations, courtesy of your newspaper of record!

Thursday, November 20, 2008


The Thompson United Methodist Church Drama Group presents: 'A Christmas Carol' for 2008. This holiday drama will be performed by members of the Thompson church. They have worked very hard to bring this seasonal favorite to life - so catch a showing of the play while you can! All shows are free of charge.

Y'all come!

Note: My wife Liz, and daughter Soccer Fairy are in this year's cast. Be there, or be square!

“Bailout Bandwagon: Chapter Three”

c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was a quiet morning in the Icehouse home office. Melting snow dripped from our rooftop. Swelling puddles spotted the lawn. Neighborhood traffic echoed in and out of earshot, under a cloudy sky. But nothing seemed willing to break the calm.

I sorted through news reports, while drinking coffee. My thoughts began to drift toward writing a new book. One about watching world events from the front porch of a rural home in Geauga County, USA…

Suddenly, the telephone interrupted my daydream. It rang with ferocity.

“Hello!” I said numbly, trying to gather my thoughts. “You’ve reached the Icehouse!”

A dramatic pause followed. Then came a squawking voice that spoke with authority.

“Mr. Ice? This is Jonelle Jones from Countrywide Borough Bank.”

I sighed. “Good morning. May I help you?”

“Yes indeed,” she replied. “Regarding your Visa account number 86-007-13… we have not received the scheduled payment of $472.88 by your due date.”

“So, you called to provide a friendly reminder?” I laughed.

Ms. Jones ignored the remark. “Your payment of $472.88 must be made immediately to avoid late fees and a punitive rate hike.”

My disbelief couldn’t be hidden. “So… if I can’t pay a lower amount today, you reckon I’ll be able to cover a larger bill, tomorrow?”

“I don’t make the rules, Mr. Ice,” she warbled.

“Of course not,” I agreed. “But if you could ‘bend’ them a bit…”

“I need you to authorize a payment from your personal checking account, Mr. Ice,” she interjected.

My breezy attitude disappeared. “You know, I was just reading about this kind of situation.”

“Oh really?” she said, sarcastically.

“Yes,” I explained. “Apparently, congressional leaders have crafted a plan to forgive credit-card debt to help the economy. Sort of a small version of what your industry got from the federal treasury. But when presented with the idea, those in control of our banks promptly refused!”

She grew impatient. “Mr. Ice, This is hogwash. CBB must have your payment immediately!”

My face reddened. “Then take it out of my share of the federal bailout.”
She stuttered in response. “W-w-what did you say?”

“You’ve gotten a flood of government money already,” I laughed. “So take it out of my share!”

“Mr. Ice, let’s be serious!” she complained.

“Think about this, Jonelle,” I began. “Who is your employer at the moment?”

The bank representative was irritated. “You are wasting time, Mr. Ice!”

“Humor me,” I said. “Who is keeping you in a job right now?”

She spoke angrily. “Countrywide Borough Bank, of course!”

“Incorrect!” I said with defiance. “The federal government is in charge of your employment, because CBB would be gone without the bailout money.”

“Either way, I need your payment!” she said.

“You’re floating on a heady tide of taxpayer dollars,” I barked. “Only the influx of citizen wealth is keeping your group from sinking. So in effect, you have already taken my assets to cover your own needs. Now, I ask you to credit my meager liability against that huge amount. This is a new age of fairness. Do you understand?”

She was flabbergasted. The phone line went dead.

I poured another cup of coffee. A gentle rain had begun to fall as the clouds overhead thickened with purpose. Calm returned to my day…

Then the telephone rang, again.

“You’ve reached the Icehouse!” I said with curiosity.

“Mr. Ice?” a new caller intoned. “This is Paige DiCenza from Ford Credit. I am calling in reference to your vehicle loan on a 2005 F-150…”

“Hi Paige,” I said. “Great to hear from you!”

A moment of silence elapsed. “Mr. Ice, our records indicate you have a past-due billing of $399.07 for your pickup truck. But if you pay this now, we will forgive any late fees you’ve incurred.”

I nodded. “That sounds fantastic. Call me again next week and maybe we can work something out…”

The company representative became irritated. “Mr. Ice, I need a payment now. Do you understand?”

I took a deep breath. There was a brick in the bottom of my stomach. “Paige, what I understand is that Ford is running out of gas right now. Just like GM and Chrysler. You’ve got three flat tires and a muffler dragging the ground. Yet the federal bailout will keep you in operation.”

“This is not relevant to our conversation,” she hissed. “You are past due on your monthly payment. May I have your bank account number, please?”

“Listen Paige,” I continued. “My history with your products is a long one. We’ve had over a dozen Ford vehicles in this household. Our friends all drive Hondas, Toyotas, or Volkswagens because they are more dependable and fuel-efficient. But we’ve stayed with FoMoCo to support union workers right here in Ohio. In a sense, we’ve helped to keep your employer in operation. When market conditions became difficult, our tax dollars let you continue to ride high. Now, it is time for reciprocity. Fair is fair.”

She gasped. “Mr. Ice, this is ridiculous!”

“Not at all!” I protested. “Your industry has already gotten twenty-five billion dollars from the government. And you’re asking for more. The cash keeping you on the road came from my wallet, and those of taxpayers across America. So if we need a break, there should be no question about honoring our request.”

DiCenza was speechless. Suddenly, the dial tone buzzed in my ear.

For a third time, I poured a cup of coffee. The first sip was refreshing… but then…

The telephone rang again.

“You’ve reached the Icehouse!” I said, wearily.

A gruff retort sounded from the handset. “Mr. Ice, this is Dale Welneck from GAI Insurance. How are you this morning?”

I began to feel nauseous. “Doing great, Dale! Did you call to chat about sports, or was there something else?”

His voice hardened. “Mr. Ice, we show you as being overdue on your payment schedule.”
“That’s right,” I agreed. “Because I’m overdue on everything else. It didn’t seem proper to leave you guys out of the deal.”

He went dizzy from my comment, but recovered quickly. “Mr. Ice, I need an immediate payment of $227.44 or we will be forced to cancel your policy.”

“Look Dale, GAI isn’t in a position to dictate terms right now,” I said with confidence. “You’re being carried by a federal bailout that will burden taxpayers for generations to come…”

The caller was irate. “Our status has nothing to do with your bill, Mr. Ice!”

“Oh, but it does,” I disagreed. “You would have collapsed weeks ago without help from the feds. Our tax dollars kept that catastrophe from occurring. And let you have your parties and high-dollar conferences. Now, it is my turn. I need a helping hand. How can you refuse me after loading up on government aid?”

A string of four-letter words were mumbled in my ear. For a third time, the call ended abruptly.

I drank my coffee cold. The morning was gone. But so were the bill collectors. After a few silent minutes, my daydream returned.

“Welcome to Geauga County, USA…”

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Friday, November 14, 2008


WASHINGTON, D.C. (APS) - The promise of a new presidential administration drew much attention across America after Election Day on November 4th. But the most unusual delegation to visit our nation's capitol came from outside the US... and indeed, from beyond the confines of Mother Earth. A Kylog V space vessel arrived today from Mentaur, one of the lesser planets orbiting the nearby star Voltan Nebra.

Upon learning that Barack Obama had not yet been inaugurated, the Mentaur group chose to continue their exploration of our solar system, before returning for the actual swearing-in of Obama as chief executive.

Mentaur is home to dozens of civilizations, spread over five major continents. Their predominant language is Falkiri, a tongue remotely akin to Greek.


In bygone days, I remember finding my way around the City of Ashtabula in part by figuring where I was in relation to the venerable UFO. This abandoned gas station was a landmark of great importance. It stood in defiance of modernity.

Information on the UFO is sparse. But on the Roadside America website, this Buckeye relic is remembered with reverence:

Ashtabula, Ohio - Flying Saucer Gas Station - Gone

Address: Ashtabula, OH
Directions: Was along Prospect Avenue - Route 20.
Hours: Gone.

Visitor Tips and News About Flying Saucer Gas Station - Gone

Following are Flying Saucer Gas Station - Gone reports and tips that were sent in by visitors like you, as well as news stories about the attraction. Submit your own tip or update. Some tips may not be verified -- please contact attraction for current hours and admission prices.
Ashtabula, Ohio - Flying Saucer Gas Station

My husband Frank Cragon managed the Flying Saucer gas station in the l970s. When he went across the street to Garfield's Restaurant, he would keep looking back at the saucer.

A waitress remarked, "Don't worry Frank. It won't take off without you!" [Sally Cragon, 05/04/2008]
UFO Gas Station. Ashtabula, Ohio - Flying Saucer Gas Station

This was a wonderful and creative invention that is sadly missed by everyone in Ashtabula. My father was the designer and owner of this gas station, and I remember Dad used to have the attendants wear Martian gear while pumping gas.

Unfortunately, the gas station will not be at the historical society as we all had hoped. They have scrapped everything that was donated, as well as any and all pictures and drawings my Dad gave them -- which leaves nothing but memories for his children. The grandchildren will never know the wonders of this gas station. [Kyra, 03/04/2007]

[RA: Kyra updated Mar 9, 2007: "I am happy to say that this will not be the end of the flying saucer! This week, Ashtabula Township Park agreed to add a flying saucer display to their Lights on the Lake this next Christmas season, which will be a replica of the gas station. "]
Ashtabula, Ohio - Flying Saucer Gas Station - Vague Recollections

I've lived in Ashtabula most of my life. My Mom used to get gas at the flying saucer gas station every few days. There was a Santa in the top bubble during Christmas time and sometimes a rabbit at Easter. We would beg my Mom to go get gas there! The lights around the outside were awsome to us kids. It is a good childhood memory. There is now a Walgreens there. [chris, 02/16/2007]
Ashtabula, Ohio - Flying Saucer Gas Station - Vague Recollections

I just found your site and learned of the sad fate of that gas station. What a shame. It was such a tacky delight. I remember many years ago taking the Greyhound back and forth between my home in Northeast Ohio and my college, and as we rode by on Route 20 (back in the days when Greyhound still took 20 through Ashtabula) looking for that flying-saucer gas station with the racing lights as a landmark.

At Christmas-time, they used to put a plastic lighted Santa Claus up in the bubble, with his arm frozen in a cheery, mittened wave. [Trudi Marrapodi, 01/04/2007]
Ashtabula, Ohio - Flying Saucer Gas Station

The flying saucer gas station in Ashtabula, Ohio is being dismantled and moved to the Crawford Auto Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. [Catherine Schmidt, 12/18/1999]

June 2006: A sad fate for this one. It was hauled off to be part of a Cleveland museum, which lost its funding and the UFO just fell apart and was thrown away. The old Ashtabula site is covered with a Walgreens.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

“Reporter’s Notebook”

c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is a fictional dialogue between residents of our area. It is intended for entertainment purposes only. Those who experience stomach cramps or other discomfort from reading should discontinue use immediately and switch to ‘Barney Meets the Teletubbies.’ Thank you!

SETTING: A news-discussion program at the basement studio of cable channel 74, Geauga County, Ohio. Participants are arranged around a wide, circular table. They are journalists from the region who have been busy covering the 2008 election season.

MODERATOR: (A portly fellow, speaking with excitement) “Welcome everyone, to Reporter’s Notebook! I am your host, Rod Ice.”

AUDIENCE: Responds with generous applause.

MODERATOR: “Our guests today are Ezekiel Byler-Gregg, reporter for the revived Burton Daily Bugle; Carrie Hamglaze, columnist for The Geauga Mail-Recorder and Chardon City Councilperson; Kate Meffler, senior reporter for The Montville Messenger, and Lyle Krelvic, news editor for The Auburn Aerial.”

AUDIENCE: Cheers enthusiastically after the introductions are finished.

MODERATOR: “This has been an exciting week in Geauga, thanks to the national presidential campaign. I’d like to ask our panel – What was your lead story after Election Day?”

KATE MEFFLER: (adjusting her wire-rimmed glasses) “Rod, my newspaper went with rejected school levies as our primary feature, like those in Thompson and Newbury. With the banking crisis and economic woes, everyone has been squeezed. Our schools are no different. Many need immediate financial relief. But taxpayers are struggling to meet their own budgets. It is a difficult situation.”

EZEKIEL BYLER-GREGG (in a flannel shirt and denim overalls) “I went with the ‘Scarecrow Vandals’ story from Chardon. Actually, this has become an ongoing series of reports. Some of our readers wanted to boost the $1,000 reward offered by County Treasurer Christopher Hitchcock for information on those who destroyed city displays. Several more called our office to say they wanted the perpetrators to be publicly jailed on the Chardon Square.”

MODERATOR: (wiping his brow) “Hmmm. An interesting idea, to be sure. That would make the city webcam very popular with Internet visitors. How about you, Lyle?”

LYLE KRELVIC: (dressed in a dull, gray suit) “We opened with the incredible voter participation in Geauga County. Board of Elections Director Arch Kimbrew observed that there was a heavy turnout of citizens, without any problems. That puts our county in the forefront of American democracy.”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: (wearing a red hat festooned with shamrock pins) “Is it my turn yet? You guys are a longwinded bunch!”

AUDIENCE: Bursts into laughter, then applause.

MODERATOR: (smiling) “Okay, Carrie. What was your first take on the week?”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: (Adjusting her multicolored sweater) “I wrote a column about Dr. Bob Evans, and his unsuccessful campaign for County Coroner. His support of Tim’s House, a place for those affected by the pain of a loss to suicide, was particularly admirable. My readers found his ability to look beyond the office itself to be refreshing.”

MODERATOR: (Straightening his glasses) “Question Two – What does the national Democrat Party sweep mean for Geauga County?”

KATE MEFFLER: (Smoothing her flowered dress) “This is a moment of opportunity for local Democrats. They’ve traditionally been a minority here, but the party’s statewide and nationwide success will mean more awareness of their philosophy as a group. That diversity will be good for the county.”

EZEKIEL BYLER-GREGG: (Grunting) “I’ve noted a growing dissatisfaction with the traditional parties among my readership. Power players from both parties supported the multi-billion dollar bailout of our banking system. I think the anti-incumbent mood benefited Democrats, today. But generally, there is a feeling that we have been abandoned by our elected officials. I predict that Libertarian Party candidates will make significant gains across Geauga, in the coming years.”

MODERATOR: (Raising an eyebrow) “Your crystal ball is working overtime, Zeke. Thanks. What say you, Lyle?”

LYLE KRELVIC: (Folding his hands) “My conservative readers have been encouraged by the historic ‘house cleaning’ that has come to Washington. While painful for the GOP today, it means that the party will become leaner and stronger for tomorrow. The best thing that could have happened for them was to be drubbed in this election cycle.”

MODERATOR: (Looking surprised) “You speak with courage. We’ll see if it works out that way in the future…”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: (Growing impatient) “Yoo hoo, Rod! There’s one more member of the panel here! Don’t forget about me!”

MODERATOR: (With embarrassment) “Sorry about that, Carrie. What is your opinion of the Democrat rise to supremacy?”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: “I believe that former Speaker of the U. S. House of Representatives Tip O’ Neill was right when he said that ‘all politics is local.’ Reading too much into this sweep is foolish. Geauga County residents remain steadfast in their support of Midwestern values and traditions. My readers believe that the current mood was more a product of economic chaos than real philosophical change. People were worried, so they chose to try something different. If it doesn’t work out as intended, they’ll be just as quick to move in another direction.”

MODERATOR: (Nodding) “Well said, Carrie. The American electorate has always proven to be unruly in thought and even more rowdy in action.”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: (Speaking proudly) “God bless America!”

MODERATOR: (With a sigh) “Finally, I’d like to ask our panel – What do you see as being most important for Geauga County, going forward?”

KATE MEFFLER: (Once again tweaking her spectacles) “My readers believe some kind of balance needs to be found on the issue of school funding. There are no easy choices regarding this issue. Citizens need relief from the burden of tax increases, while children require a quality education to prosper in society. Somehow, we need to find common ground. Our elected officials must jettison their partisan rhetoric and get to work on the problem.”

EZEKIEL BYLER-GREGG: (With a lengthy groan) “Bugle readers believe that the new powerline issue is most important. It will only make expansion of business and housing easier in the county. For that reason, it is unpopular here. They favor careful, slow development in Geauga, with respect for our heritage and natural beauty.”

LYLE KRELVIC: (Looking tired) “Readers of our paper think that Geauga County needs to join the 21st Century, in terms of outlook, procedures, and government. We have many wonderful resources here that should be used to benefit our residents.”

CARRIE HAMGLAZE: (Defiantly) “Hah! To benefit who? Be careful, Lyle. Too often, our elected officials make deals that drive profit for themselves. We need to be a watchdog for the people. Don’t advocate… investigate! Then let the citizens decide.”

MODERATOR: (Grinning) “A populist last word there, Carrie. Thank you! And thank all of you in our audience, for watching. This is Rod Ice, for ‘Reporter’s Notebook’ saying so long till next week! Good night!”

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Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Our black Labrador Retriever 'Wrangler' showed us how strong a 1.5 year-old puppy can be when my wife wanted his nails trimmed at her parents' house. It took both of my in-laws and a lot of effort to accomplish the task. And a day later, our big pooch was still pouting. Yikes!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

“Invasion of the Squiggles – Chapter Two”

c. 2008 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

It was early on a Tuesday morning. Rain tapped gently at the window in our home office, filling the murky grayness with rhythmic energy. Liz, my wife, was on her way to work. Our daughters had been dutifully fed, outfitted, hugged, and sent on their way to school. Now, only household pets remained to share the awakening day. At last, it was time for breakfast… and wordsmithing.

Quietly, I sat at the computer with a bowl of Ramen Noodles. News headlines filled the monitor with tidbits of mayhem and glee. But my eyes were lazy. Blurred images swam across my field of vision. I nodded off in the midst of a story about bicycle use among residents on The Northcoast… and then…


The telephone was ringing, furiously. Each jangle of tones sent a lightning bolt surging through my head. I pawed for the receiver, still numb and helpless.

“Hello!” I babbled. “This is The Icehouse. We are not interested in encyclopedias, aluminum siding, landscaping, a home gym, or a new car. At the tone, please leave your message…”

“Rodney,” my spouse intoned with confusion. “Is this you or a new recording on our voice mail?”

Her voice split the haze. Reflexively, I dropped the phone.

“Hey!” she squawked. “Are you okay? Answer me, Rodney!!”

My face burned. Somehow, I found the handset. “Who is this??”

“Your wife!” she giggled.

“Your voice did sound familiar,” I yawned.

“Stop being a goof! Were you back in bed?” she said with amusement.

“No,” I explained. “Just having breakfast while I catch up on the news…”

There was a pause. “Just tell me you’re having something healthy like fruit or yogurt for a change!”

I rubbed my eyes. “Yeah, both of those…”

“Liar!” she snorted. “You made Ramen Noodles again, right?”

I began to tremble with guilt. My fork clinked against the bowl.

“I heard that!” she sang, gleefully.

“Just peeling an apple,” I said.

“You fibber!” she laughed.

My thoughts began to clear. “Uhmm, I mean… chopping a pear?”

She sighed. “Liarrrr!”

Steam wafted from my noodles. “I can’t help it. Soccer Fairy got me hooked on ‘Squiggles’ again…”

“Don’t blame our ten-year old!” she said with indifference.

“Lately, she’s wanted them every day,” I protested. “It brought back memories of studying in New York. Suddenly, my old craving returned…”

Liz giggled again. “Oh Rodney…”

“Anyway, listen to this,” I interjected. Dramatically, I began to read from Nissin company literature on the Internet:

“The noodle isn't just a meal. It's a steaming hot celebration of texture and flavor. We understand the noodle better than anyone. With Top Ramen and Cup Noodles, we taught an entire generation that quality Ramen Noodle soup is never more than three minutes away. Today, we're still taking the noodle to exciting new places with our Chow Mein, Chow Pasta, Souper Meal and Choice Ramen products - each created for your busy lifestyle.”

“I think you’ve gone noodle crazy,” she barked.

“My appetite led to a bit of investigation this morning,” I replied. “Have you ever wondered about the history of Ramen Noodles?”

She wheezed. “Well, no…not really…”

“The original Ramen was a Japanese dish that came from China,” I proclaimed.

“Linguistic experts have several theories about the origin of this word. It may have been a version of the Chinese ‘lamian’ which means hand-pulled noodles. Or of ‘lo-mein’ which means to dredge up, referring to how the noodles are prepared in boiling water.”

There was silence on the telephone. My wife was genuinely speechless.

“In the middle Twentieth Century, Ramen became a popular item at restaurants in Japan,” I observed. “They were even sold from handcarts by street vendors, like Hot Dogs would be offered here in America.”

Liz glowed with wonder. “So where did those noodle bricks come from?”

“Ah… the modern history is even more curious,” I said. “Listen to this timeline from Nissin Foods…” I read out loud from the company website:

“1958 - Momofuku Ando establishes Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd. of Japan.
Mr. Ando introduces Chikin Ramen (Chicken Ramen), the first instant Ramen Noodle, to Japan.
1970 - Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd. establishes Nissin Foods (USA) Co., Inc. in Gardena, California.
The Top Ramen brand is imported from Japan, introducing instant Ramen Noodles to US consumers.
1971 - Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd. invents Cup Noodle, a revolution in the industry that makes it possible to package, prepare and serve noodles all in the same container.
Nissin also adds vegetable and meat varieties to its instant Ramen Noodle lineup.
1972 - Top Ramen is first produced in the United States.
1973 - Nissin begins producing and selling the highly popular Cup O' Noodles in the United States.
1976 - Oodles of Noodles bag Ramen (is) introduced.”

“And the rest is history,” my wife purred.

“Wait, there’s more!” I said emphatically. “Did you know that Ramen Noodles have traveled with the astronauts?”

She gasped. “You’re making this up!”

“Not at all,” I protested. “Space Ram is a version of the dish that can be cooked during a mission to the cosmos. It debuted on the Space Shuttle in 2005.”

“Rodney!” she hissed. “Stop it!”

Once more, I began to read from the computer:

“The zero-gravity blend adopts several changes to Cup Noodle recipe to meet shuttle standards: The stringy or dangling noodles typical of Nissin's products has been replaced with ball-shaped pasta for easier consumption by a fork. The soup, which comes in four flavors - soy, miso, curry and pork broth - is thicker to prevent spills. The meal is spicier than Cup Noodles, as foods generally tend to taste bland in space. As no boiling water is available on the shuttle, the soup has been reformulated to cook in seventy-degree liquid. Though Nissin has patented Space Ram, the company has no plans for its public sale at this time.”

Liz surrendered. “I give up. Eat your noodles, and be happy!”

“Mr. Ando passed away in 2007,” I said.

“Isn’t Ando a character on the NBC ‘Heroes’ program?” she wondered aloud.

I nearly lost track of my thoughts. “Yes, but… anyway…his legacy remains forever! What would college life be like without Ramen? It’s a culinary innovation that can be enjoyed by everyone. A perfect ingredient in the great ‘Melting Pot’ that is America…”

“Rah Rah Ramen!” she said. “Oh well, my coffee break is over. Happy wordsmithing! See you this evening. I love you!”

The phone clicked in my ear.

Now it was time at last… to finish my breakfast!

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Wednesday, November 05, 2008


Much prose is being written about how one person can directly affect the greater consciousness by providing hope and inspiration. For many, this makes them 'The One' that illuminates our tomorrow...

To be sure, many will take such thoughts as a political message. But for sports fans in the area of Cleveland, Ohio, this essence is embodied by one, striking individual.

He is Brady Quinn.

Can he really win on the gridiron? Can we experience victory through him? Stay tuned, friends in the Dawg Pound...


After a long presidential campaign season, there's no need for descriptive prose here. The numbers say it all.

'Change' has been the buzzword for months... what comes next will be very interesting, indeed.

See you later, Johnny!

Monday, November 03, 2008


Throughout the campaign season of 2008, I sent copies of our Icehouse Books to those involved in seeking the nation's highest offices. It seemed like a positive way to connect with these notable individuals.

Barack Obama, John McCain, and Sarah Palin all graciously responded with letters of gratitude as Election Day drew nearer. Now, Joe Biden has completed the quartet:

Tomorrow, the country will select a new administration to guide us into the future. Here's a humble prayer that, whatever the result, God will place his blessing on America.