Monday, September 28, 2009


NFL 9/27/09 - Cleveland 3; Baltimore 32 (Browns are 0-3)

Thursday, September 24, 2009

“CARS: A New Beginning”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: What follows here is a one-act play. The participants in this drama are discussing the post-bailout future of America’s automobile industry. At the urging of President Barack Obama, they have begun to decide how their companies can move past the collapse of 2008… and plan for tomorrow.

SETTING: A secluded boardroom in Cleveland, Ohio. CEOs of the ‘Big Three’ automakers have assembled for a secret meeting.

THE PLAYERS: Henry Ford XVI; Antonio Chrysler; Corporal (Formerly General) Motors; Filmmaker Michael Moore; Former Chrysler Chairman Lee Iacocca.

PRELUDE: The participants chatter nervously over coffee, before opening their meeting. There is a mood of tension in the room. Everyone seems to have a different view on the needs of their struggling industry. Reluctantly, the session is called to order just after nine o’clock.

LEE IACOCCA – “Gentlemen, I’d like to welcome everyone to Cleveland!”

Grumbles and whispers fill the room.

HENRY FORD XVI – “Thanks, Lee. So… why aren’t we in Detroit? Or Washington, D.C.?”

L. IACOCCA – “With everything going on here, we can enjoy being out of the limelight. The FBI is all over Cuyahoga County. The sports franchises can’t win a championship. They’re still fighting about casinos and the Medical Mart. And anything of value is owned by people in Pittsburgh. So nobody will pay attention to us!”

MICHAEL MOORE – (Clearing his throat) “We’ve been asked by President Obama to meet with you concerning the future shape of this industry…”

ANTONIO CHRYSLER – “Barry asked YOU to help us get into shape? That’s a good one. Bada bing!”

CORPORAL MOTORS – “Pipe down, Tony. You sound like Robert De Niro.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Hey, what’s it to you? FIAT saved my cannolis. Okay?”

FORD XVI – “Lee, it’s good to see you again, but, what am I doing here? My company didn’t take any bailout money!”

L. IACOCCA – “President Obama hoped that you might help inspire the other two guys…”

M. MOORE – “He figured it couldn’t hurt to share ideas and plan for tomorrow.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Okay, he done good. But why should we listen to you, Fat Man? What do you know about building cars?”

L. IACOCCA – “Hey, give him a break, Tony. Mike made ‘Roger And Me.’ Isn’t that enough?”

FORD XVI – “That’s fine, but we need fresh ideas to save this business…”

C. MOTORS – “Right you are, soldier. Getting busted down to an enlisted man really stinks. I want to earn my stars again!”

M. MOORE – “Go see ‘Capitalism: A Love Story’ and you’ll have all the ideas you need!”

A. CHRYSLER – “Fuggedaboudit! You just wanna drum up some ticket sales for that
clinker of a movie! Heyy!”

C. MOTORS – “Yeah, maybe you should’ve gotten in on the ‘Cash For Clunkers’ program, pilgrim!”

L. IACOCCA – “Gentlemen, please!”

M. MOORE – “Building better cars is fine. But you’ve got to PROMOTE them in the media. That’s where I come in…”

FORD XVI – “Thanks, Mike. But we’ve already got a spokesman for the next generation of our automobiles.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Yeah, FIAT says European quality. We don’t need no loudmouth to sell our cars…”

C. MOTORS – (Laughing) “Umm… I think it says you’d better get to know a good mechanic in the motor pool.”

L. IACOCCA – “Everyone! Could we stay on track here? The President wants us to come up with a long term plan to make the industry viable again…”

C. MOTORS – “Guess we better listen, soldiers. Barry is our CEO now.”

M. MOORE – “We need to write a new script from old material… just like I did for ‘Fahrenheit 911.’ And then use it to create something useful.”

L. IACOCCA – “The President is convinced that Mike can help us win, even against difficult odds.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Heyy, help me win at the tables in Vegas and you’ll have a friend forever! Oh yeah!”

FORD XVI – “It was bad enough trying to compete with Honda and Toyota. But then, Hyundai and KIA showed up.”

C. MOTORS – “Okay Mike, what’s your plan?”

M. MOORE – “At the auto shows, you’ve touted a trio of new concept vehicles that provide great fuel economy, right?”

C. MOTORS – “Ten hut! That’s right. The Beat, Groove, and Trax.”

A. CHRYSLER – “What, those are cars? They sound like something from the ‘Guitar
Hero’ game. Heyy!”

M. MOORE – “I’d promote them in a short film about The Three Little Pigs… is that inspired or what??”

Silence fills the room. Even Lee Iacocca is speechless.

FORD XVI – “Umm, okay. How does that help The Corporal sell any of his cars?”

M. MOORE – “Just think of it. The Big Bad Wolf is an oil company CEO. He’s blowing down houses all over the neighborhood with outrageous prices. But then the pigs band together to develop better ideas through a community-funded program… and run their wagons forever on a gallon of gas. Eventually, the wolf ends up on skid row. Yeahhh!”

Again, the group falls silent.

L. IACOCCA – (Speaking after a long pause) “Okay! Thanks Mike. It sounds like another winner at the Cannes Film Festival. Not to mention in dealerships across America.”

A. CHRYSLER – “I think that sounds like a big pile of caca!”

FORD XVI – “You need more than a gimmick to sell cars. It takes good design and guaranteed reliability.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Heyy! With FIAT, we got plenty of that. No problem!”

The other participants burst into laughter.

L. IACOCCA – (Miffed by their reaction) “C’mon! Take it easy on Chrysler. This corporate marriage will work out in the end. Just give him a chance.”

M. MOORE – “The President is betting on all of you to MAKE it work.”

A. CHRYSLER – “Bada bing! Barry is the boss. How can we lose with the government on our team? He’ll whack the competition.”

FORD XVI – “Sorry, Tony. This isn’t Cuba. You’ve actually got to SELL cars, not just ride on a government loan.”

M. MOORE – “Ah yes… Cuba…”

L. IACOCCA – “Mike, quit daydreaming. We’re working on a strategy here!”

C. MOTORS – (Brightening with realization) “So I get some cute little pigs to pose with my new cars, and the bucks roll in. Ten hut! I can salute that idea!”

M. MOORE – “It’s a bit more complicated than that. But… yes.”

A. CHRYSLER – “That’s great, you betcha. But what about me?”

M. MOORE – “I think Quentin Tarantino could jazz up your advertising a bit…”

FORD XVI – “Bah! Are you serious?”

L. IACOCCA – “Open your minds, gentlemen. We don’t want to disappoint President Obama.”

M. MOORE – “Think of ‘Pulp Fiction’ with a fleet of P.T. Cruisers!”

FORD XVI – “I’m glad my company didn’t take any government welfare.”

C. MOTORS – “You know, I kinda like that, soldier…”

L. IACOCCA – “That’s the spirit! Give this a chance to work and we’ll all be back in the money!”

EVERYONE – (Singing) “We’re in the money! We’re in the money!”

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009


While reading through old material here in the Icehouse Home Office, I recently discovered a quote from one of my columns that seemed eerily prophetic.

"Answer From America' was written to British comedian John Cleese, well known for his work as part of Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Cleese had penned a letter titled 'Declaration of Revocation' that proposed overturning America's independence because of our unsophisticated, boorish habits. And, because we had failed to elect 'competent' leaders. My response was intended to match his own tongue-in-cheek approach and included the following paragraph:

"John, please! Your empire is long gone. Get over it. With regard to electing competent leaders… remember Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain? The fellow who ‘secured peace in our time’ by signing a friendship agreement with Adolf the Nasty, just before German bombs began to rain down on your homeland? That didn’t work out, either. In America, the pendulum swings eternally. We are a rowdy bunch. (You’ll realize this when BARACK OBAMA is sworn in at The White House during January, 2009.)"

I wrote the text in December, 2006. It seemed almost too incredible for publication. Yet I let it stand in my final draft of the column.

At that moment in history, Hillary Clinton was the 'sure bet' to follow George W. Bush as President of the United States. For many, Mr. Obama seemed too young and inexperienced to win in the upcoming election cycle. But, history had other ideas.

Now, I can only wonder... who will win the next Superbowl of Politics, in 2012?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

STRANGE DAYS: Rod the Racer

Another strange coincidence, via the Internet... race driver Rodney Ice enjoys great success during the 2009 'Summer Thunder' season at Sunset Raceway in Baileyton, Alabama:

2009 Summer Thunder Results

Quarter Midgets
1st Rayce Geary
2nd Travis White

Light Stock
1st Rodney Ice
2nd Joey Cochran
3rd Josh Fisher

Medium Stock
1st Rodney Ice
2nd Brent Shelton
3rd Houston Black

Animal Medium
1st Rodney Ice
2nd Josh Peacocok
3rd Phillip Cardin

1st Rodney Ice
2nd Brent Shelton
3rd Flip Cardin
4th Kyle Bahm

1st Rodney Ice
2nd Brent Shelton
3rd Flip Cardin
4th Houston Black

Flip Cardin won the hard charge award (tire break) donated by R & B Fab.
Rodney Ice won the tire roller donated by R & B Fab.
Again, Thanks to all the staff & racers.
Thanks to all that drove from near & soooo far to race with us.

STRANGE DAYS: Another R. D. Ice

As it is often said, truth is stranger than fiction... wonder if this fellow has found me on the Internet as I've discovered him...?


School of Health Sciences -
2003 Distinguished Alumnus
Dr. Rodney Ice

Rodney Ice started his career as owner and operator of Rod's Tanglewilde Drugs in Olympia, Washington (1959 to 1965). After attending Purdue as a Radiological Health Fellow, he served as an assistant professor of radiochemistry and radiation safety officer at Temple University.

In 1971, he became professor of pharmacy at the University of Michigan and also held the position of director of radiopharmaceutical services at University Hospital. In his faculty positions, he taught a number of courses in health physics, radioisotope methodology, and nuclear pharmacy.

In 1976, Dr. Ice was appointed the dean of the College of Pharmacy at the University of Oklahoma. During his tenure, he started nuclear pharmacies in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. He served for a short period as vice president for corporate development at Benedict Nuclear Pharmaceuticals, and, in 1985, became vice president and director of research at Eagle-Picher Industries in Miami, Oklahoma.

In 1992, Dr. Ice assumed duties as a principal research scientist, adjunct professor, and radiation safety officer at Georgia Institute of Technology. He retired in 2003 after leading the decommissioning effort of the five-megawatt Georgia Tech Research Reactor. For this work, his group received a 2002 Georgia State Award in Engineering Excellence.

Dr. Ice has published more than 100 papers in the areas of nuclear pharmacy and health physics. He also mentored more than 40 graduate students during his tenure in academia. Prior to retiring, he was active in numerous professional societies and served as a reviewer for a number of journals. Currently, he is active in the Health Physics Society and is a fellow of the American Pharmacists Association (APhA). In 2000, he was recognized by APhA as a Nuclear Pharmacy Pioneer for establishing the recognition of nuclear pharmacy as a specialty practice of pharmacy. He also was instrumental in the development of criteria to allow pharmacists to become board certified in nuclear pharmacy.

A certified health physicist and registered pharmacist, Dr. Ice received the honor of "Old Master" at Purdue in 1986. He retired as a colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve, having served as the nuclear science officer. He also has been active in his community and his church, teaching adult Sunday school and singing in the choir.

Monday, September 21, 2009


WEEK ONE: Minnesota defeats Cleveland 34-20

WEEK TWO: Cleveland Loses 27-6 At Denver

It's gonna be a long year on Lake Erie...

Sunday, September 20, 2009


Marty Allen - always on of Cleveland's most original radio personalities. Remember his golden days on WTAM 1100? Well, Big Daddy is still on the air...

Check him out at:

Friday, September 18, 2009

“Retrophonic, Reviewed”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Normally, when a new release appears by iconic California guitarist Davie Allan, I immediately jot down notes as part of a ‘first impressions’ review.

But in August, I received a copy of his ‘Retrophonic’ disc while on my way out of town to help with family needs.

My first taste of the recording came while traveling south, on Interstate 79. As I’d expected, it was a superlative effort brimming with creativity. Also, it provided a history lesson of sorts because Davie had chosen to include older tracks recorded with the late Wayne Allwine. Yet weeks passed before I was able to find a moment for quiet reflection on his work.

When an opportunity for re-listening arrived a last, I felt exuberant. With pen in hand, I began to hear, and write as the stream-of-consciousness journey got underway:


1. Devil Dust – A promenade across the desert. The outlaw rider has returned! Kicking up ground level, psychic contrails of yesteryear. Leaving new echoes in his wake. A tonecaster with his Jazzmaster, wandering and free. An unbridled soul on the move - make no mistake.

2. Uprising – Trite man, beware! The High Chieftain from a thousand sessions ago has risen. His children sing a hymn of yonder days. The white buffalo snorts powerfully through a single-coil pickup first designed by Leo the hero. Woe to them who tread recklessly in the hoofprints of this holy bison. Let it be known! The last stand is at hand. This beast rules the holy land.

3. Heavenly Blues – Making love on a black Panhead chopper. Spoked wheels shooting sunfire with each rotation. A visual cue to the fuzz-fire, streaking through the firmament like a flaming arrow. Gonna ride our guitars without being hassled by the man. A thunderbird in flight. Yes I am.

4. Buzz Saw Effect – The rebel tonesmith summons Mike Hammer from his grave. Shadows reign, as the rising specter begins to dance. A growling, gnawing pirouette on wingtip shoes. Black and white whipped with rhythmic might. Dive on the whammy bar! A new king rules the night.

5. The Glory Stompers – Celluloid stamped with the sweat of a troubadour in motion. Brothers, there is no other. Motorcycle grease and a chick called ‘Mother.’ The head stomper wields his six-string shooter like a magic talisman. And I want to hear him play, again and again. Hey now, won’t you be my friend?

6. Straight Shooter – A carpet ride on the electric tide. Twangin’ and bangin’ down the stairwell once rented by Link Wray. He was born to play, this shooter can sway. He’ll keep pluckin’ till the break of day. You know what I say!

7. The Lone Arranger – A hero rides free. Evil holds the moment, but then justice has its way. Fuzz licks split the fretboard. Twanging notes ring out to the weary. They cling to vinyl grooves cut with steel hooves. A pale rider saves the day!

8. You Really Got A Hold On Me – A clue, parting mystery from mystique. Remember when we laughed like this? Those days were precious and sweet.

9. Rebel Rouser – Song of the South, not in Dixie, but the lower third of California. Squawkin’ and talkin’ with Duane Eddy while sipping bourbon over ice. Juiced and on the loose. Ain’t that nice! Jamming on a riff first heard as the rebel began to rise. He’s here with us now. Just open your eyes.

10. Will You Love Me Tomorrow – A song from beyond the rim of eternity. A joyous, loving chorus carried on the wind. Old friend, your voice still causes me to chill with love. You may have gone above, but you will never go away.

11. Recycled – Wick up the throttle. My little piece of Milwaukee is stoked up, wound up, and ready to ride. Got a tank of go-juice and a need to play the blues. I’ll ride all night, straight into the sunrise. The lonesome highway comes alive!

12. Building Blocks And Lollipops – I had too much to dream last night. Danced on a keyboard walkway – what a fright! Took a field trip to ‘Top of the Pops’ and the house band played hits by The Shadows of Knight. But don’t worry, ma, it’ll be all right.

13. Extrasensory Deception – Jamming gears up the PCH after dark. Dragging the footpegs just to watch the steel spark. Somebody needs to worry here, but it ain’t me. Stuffing the fuzzbox with hot rocks is what I do. The power chord is my creed.

14. Honky Tonk Jezebel – An Arrow Escape through the magical power of a musical change-up. Fuzz tricks traded for a whisper of steel guitar licks. Cowboy desperado singin’ solo. A melody so sweet, written for a lady of the street. Jezzie jams her heartbreaking smile in between the riffs of an outlaw, throwing heat. But the hurtin’ is good. She makes my night complete.

15. Night Crawler – So late, and still on the road. The outlaw yearns for sight of his home. But there is no shelter. No place for his bed. Grown on electric gunfire and steel wires. The world is in his head. Saddle tramp, born to wander. By name, he’s a drifter. Look hard into the nightfall. You'll see him pass over.

16. Los Cabos – Ain’t been to Kokomo. Ain’t been to Orleans. But I’m smokin’ my way around the sun in a dream. Got to ride, got to run. Steel strings and a six-gun. There’s a prophet on the mountaintop. And another by the sea. Before this lifetime is over, I’ll hear the wise men speak.

17. Evil Did Too – Ghost rider, just before the dawn. What is this place? I must be travelin’ on. I am here in body, but do not belong. The old house holds its secrets, told only in song.

This beat-poetry review concluded as my out-of-state family adventure was drawing to a close. With the Arrow-Dynamic sound still reverberating, I began to make preparations for a return to Cleveland.

It had been a long journey, spiritually and musically. I felt inspired by a sense of rekindled familial love.

But also, by fresh sounds from the one called ‘King of the Fuzz!’

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Friday, September 11, 2009

“Car Shopping, Revisited”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: The recent ‘Cash for Clunkers’ program had lots of Americans searching for a new, more thrifty form of personal transportation. This plan was intended to aid weary, post-bailout citizens while helping the environment. But while it appeared to succeed, the effect was only temporary. And not everyone who was car shopping could participate. Including one humble family from Geauga County, Ohio…


It was late in the Icehouse home office.

I had been at the computer for several hours, since we finished having supper. My intent was simple – to purchase a second vehicle without breaking the budget. Each mouse-click yielded new pages of automobile listings, with cyberspace rapidity. But nothing seemed to fit our needs.

I groaned with frustration. Despite the benefit of Internet technology, this was sure to be a long process.

Liz, my wife, was getting sleepy. She appeared in the doorway with a flash of pink pajamas.

“Are you coming to bed?” she pleaded.

I slumped in my chair. “This needs to get done.”

“Relax, Roddy!” she sighed. “We can look all weekend.”

I clicked on an entry at Thompson Motors. “How about this? A 2006 Hazaki Pundit with only 26,000 miles.”

My spouse shook her head. “Hazaki??”

“They are made in Vietnam,” I said.

She stiffened her shoulders. “Stop kidding around!”

“No, really!” I explained. “Hazaki is the fastest growing line of cars in North America. They have a staff or engineers hired from Honda and Toyota.”

Liz bit her lip. “And you’d be happy with one of those? Instead of another truck?”

I clicked to a new page. “Okay, how about this… a 2007 Satra 4-Go with 18,000 miles…”

She wrinkled her nose. “A whatra??”

“Satra,” I repeated. “They are made in Russia. The 4-Go is a fuel-efficient hybrid SUV. And they offer a ten year warranty!”

She folded her arms. “You really want a car from Russia?”

I clicked on yet another page. “Okay, how about this… a 2004 Kendi Ghanza with 31,000 miles. It comes with all the popular accessories and even a built-in MP3 player…”

Her mood was growing rowdy. “Rrrright. Where do they make that one?”

“In Pakistan!” I cheered.

“Come to bed, Rodney,” she frowned. “We can look at some real cars tomorrow, instead of playing on the computer.”

Her patience had evaporated. So I surrendered without an argument.


Our shopping adventure began in the morning.

Hoping to save money, I chose to visit smaller, ‘budget lots’ in the area. But this produced an unintended consequence: lots of distractions. Though we were seeking a fuel-efficient family sedan, I kept seeing relics from the past. With each classic car, I became less focused on our task.

At Big Fred’s Claridon Car Carnival, this problem became overwhelming. While Liz pondered a red Nissan Altima, I stood in awe before a gray 1960 Chrysler 300. It’s bulging chrome grille and sleek tailfins had me spellbound.

I was lost in a fit of desire.

“Honey, look at this,” my wife purred. “This car has a luxurious interior, AM/FM CD player, cruise control, and air conditioning!"

My mouth hung open. “I want a Hemi…”

“Rodney!” she squawked. “Are you listening to me?”

I lovingly caressed the Chrysler’s hood. “Real Steel from Detroit. That’s what I need!”

She was impatient. “Do you want my help, or not??”

I shook off the daydream. “Sorry. Lost my focus there for a moment…”

The next lot boasted over a dozen models, including an Audi, two Pontiacs, and a Scion. But in the back waited a 1963 Ford Falcon.

Liz peered through the window of a VW Jetta. “This is sleek. Leather seats and everything. Have a look!”

I was busy reminiscing about the Falcon. “My Grandfather had one of these… a blue and white coupe. And there were two Falcon station wagons in the family. I remember that those had the rear window crank on the outside… a weird design.”

My wife snorted. “Would you pay attention? We need something that isn’t older than our daughters!”

I relented, begrudgingly.

Finally, we decided to pause at a Subaru dealership. It seemed like a safe place to consider economical transportation. But there was a late 60’s Cadillac hidden behind their all-wheel-drive station wagons.

My pulse quickened. “Yes! Ohhh… yes!! Now that’s a REAL car!”

Liz bowed her head. Our search was bearing no fruit.

“Go check it out!” she grumbled.

I got out my cell phone and took a photograph.

“This will look really cool on Facebook!” I cheered.


After much encouragement, I agreed to visit the local Kia franchise. Happily, their salespeople were friendly and professional.

Almost immediately, Liz became intrigued with a 2006 Optima. The car was a bit smaller than her domestic sedan, but well appointed and stylish.

A test drive added to her affection for the car. It delivered a smooth and comfortable on-the-road experience.

But as we sat down to consider financial details, I remembered that there had been another couple looking at the same car.

When we made an offer on the vehicle, our young salesman reddened with embarrassment. “I’m so sorry,” he apologized. “The Optima has… just been bought by someone else. Could I show you a different vehicle?”

My spouse withered with disbelief.

“Thanks for your time,” I said. “This just wasn’t meant to happen…”

He looked surprised. “Isn’t there anything else you’d like to consider?”

“Not today,” I said.

The evening sun disappeared as we returned home, empty-handed.


We had been car shopping for approximately three months.

While Liz was at work, I continued the hunt. After browsing through more small lots, stopped at a Dodge/Jeep dealer. They had listed a silver 2006 Hyundai Elantra for sale, with 55,000 miles.

My salesman was a grizzled veteran of the business. But when I asked about the South Korean sedan, he became flustered.

“Umm, I think that is across the street,” he confessed. “It’s at our Chevrolet/Buick location. Let’s check it out!”

Reluctantly, I followed him across four lanes of traffic.

When we finished recklessly running across the road, another salesman appeared. He was even more gray and weathered from long hours on duty.

“Do you still have that ’06 Hyundai?” my temporary guide inquired.

His counterpart looked sour. “Nope. Sold that one earlier today…”

My stomach began to hurt.

“But hold on,” he said. “If you’re in the market for something like that, how about a ’02 Pontiac, with only 173,000 miles. She’s a real creampuff, as they say…”

I disappeared before he could continue the sales pitch.

Shortly afterward, I picked my wife up from work.

“Did you look at anything else today?” she said, hopefully.

“A Chevy Malibu, a Nissan Sentra, and a Dodge P. T. Cruiser,” I said. “Then I tried to find a late-model Hyundai. But it had sold earlier in the morning.”

She was out of breath. “Oh my!”

“Look,” I said. “There’s a ’98 Ford Ranger pickup in Parkman with only 42,000 miles. And it’s cheap. I’ve had five trucks in a row. Why not just make it six?”

Liz nodded. Shopping fatigue made her weak. “Okay… take the deal… and run!”

Our search was over at last.

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

“Observations About Mountain Country”

c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers – What follows here is an essay produced by a recent stay in the ‘near south.’ As I spent time helping my parents cope with personal challenges, certain truisms became apparent. I present them here for your inspection.

Parents constitute a lifetime resource. They offer much to children in the form of wisdom, guidance, and protection. Even as an adult, one may depend on their parents for homespun family counseling and medical advice. Yet, what happens when this chain-of-duty is reversed?

I began to find answers to that question recently, after leaving Geauga County to help my father through an episode of major surgery and recovery.

Twelve years ago, Dad was beset with intestinal cancer. It was a serious enough affliction to have nearly claimed his life. But though he survived this medical challenge, the after-effects persisted. Finally, it became necessary to once again seek intervention by a trusted surgeon.

The work was difficult and tedious. We prayed together while the doctor labored with his team of heroes. Their task involved removing unhealthy tissue, and fashioning a new wholeness out of what remained. Long hours elapsed while this magic took place. We waited breathlessly as day turned into night, and the sense of drama grew stronger.

Happily, mercy was bestowed by our higher power.

Tomorrow came as a gift. It constituted the ultimate reward – more of that precious essence called time.

Afterward, I pondered many things. Foremost in my mind was the value of life itself. And the endurance of love. Yet as the strictness of this moment yielded to everyday concerns, I began to consider my temporary surroundings.

They were not like anything seen in the uppermost corner of Ohio.

My parents live in an enclave nestled among the mountains of West Virginia. Neither of them is a native of this spot on the map. But after twenty-three years, they have been ‘adopted’ by the community.

My extended visit offered a chance to consider the unique character of rural, southern living. So, I decided to soothe the effects of post-crisis decompression with a bit of reflective wordsmithing.

The result was a short list of thoughts about mountain living:


IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… guardrails by the roadside are few. People here reckon drivers should have enough good sense not to land on the roof of someone’s home when negotiating a curve.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… names take on an entirely different character from the typical nature of more citified surroundings. Women may be known as Raylene, Jolene, Carlene, Maxine, Georgetta, Mary Sue, Rachael Anne or Judy Beth. Men are often identified regally as Ezekiel, Zebulon, Zachariah, Buhl, Blaine, or Hezekiah. Creative spirits reign in the hills!

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… dogs are co-equal with human beings. Here, the affection of a loyal canine is on par with any sort of familial love. So they may be included in all kinds of social activity, or holiday celebrations, except for a bridal shower.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… folks are proud to have known Billy Ray Cyrus before he was Hannah Montana’s daddy.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… roads still follow the paths first trodden by ancestors. They may meander through villages and towns with a closeness to local dwellings that can seem almost frightening. The sight of a concrete curb that rests directly against the porch pillar of a house is not at all uncommon.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… any kind of foodstuff can be fried, breaded, or smothered in gravy. Additionally, meal preparation may be done without the common need for dietary correctness. Deep-fried Snickers Bars or Vienna Sausages cause no guilt. Bacon may be dipped in chocolate. Hot dogs are adorned with garnishes of chili, onions, sauerkraut, slaw, relish, and BBQ dressing. Pork rinds can constitute the basis for a salad, soup, or dessert.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… there is actually a boulevard named for Don Knotts, who played Barney Fife on The Andy Griffith Show.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… any vehicle with four-wheel drive is worthy of ownership. This holds true even if it is over thirty years old, rusty, roadworn, limping mechanically, and patched with duct tape. A pickup truck is essential for navigating uncivilized roadways while transporting lumber, fuel, spare parts, food, and children.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… nearly anything may be homemade, from a prom dress to the wooden flatbed on a pickup truck. People here have retained skills like painting, carpentry, landscaping, light construction, and sewing in their DNA.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… if you see a straight section of road, it is probably someone’s driveway.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… recycling is an age-old virtue. Any discarded item may have a new purpose when viewed in the spirit of innovation. Truck tires can provide the platform for a garden. Old hubcaps might hold water for pets, or flying creatures. Worn out blue jeans can become purses, seat covers, or drapes. Plastic jugs often end up holding cleaning solutions or as part of a front porch décor.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… grocery stores still bag items for their customers, deliver orders to senior citizens, dispense advice on household chores, and sell products actually made on-site. But they may also offer fishing tackle, hunting equipment, and yard ornaments.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… a road is also known as a ‘run.’

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… small churches abound. They are in traditional, steepled structures, in modernistic meeting halls, fanciful lodges, weathered outbuildings, or in converted warehouses. They boast billboard signs that proclaim “God allows U-turns” and “Jesus can heal your achy-breaky heart.” They offer evidence that even though some in America have embraced a sort of generic philosophical unilateralism, many still revere the age-old concept of God.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… time is a relative concept. Typical community architecture often includes a striking contrast between decades, or even centuries of development. Civil War relics co-exist with 1950’s theaters and diners. Turn-of-the-century grandeur might share a spot with the commercial blandness of McDonald’s or Subway. Fuel stations not remodeled since the Nixon-era abound. Only Walmart seems to provide convincing evidence that the present moment really is today.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… folksy names like ‘Ketchem Trail’ or ‘Green Bag Road’ are common.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… class divisions are not so obvious. A mansion might be positioned across the road from a humble house trailer. Or a wealthy family could inhabit the sort of home typically given to po’ folk. Plots of land are often passed down through generations of a family. So strict neighborhood definition is less common than in more urban confines. The common denominator – everything is built on a hillside. They wouldn’t have it any other way.

IN MOUNTAIN COUNTRY… biscuits go with everything.

The pace of life in Mountain Country is less speedy than one would expect living near Cleveland. Yet this peaceful setting offers a chance for local residents to pause and reflect on more important things, like fishing.
And, the precious joy of living.

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Wednesday, September 02, 2009


Car Shopping... always a way to find what you're not looking for. These cool relics appeared last week while we cruised the budget auto-mile on Vine Street, east of Cleveland:

Late 60's Caddy at Halpert Subaru

Mid-60's Ford Falcon at Bob K Cars

1960 Chrysler at Bob K Cars

Tuesday, September 01, 2009


c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved

Note to Readers: Like this column, much of what follows here is a product of imagination. But while truth may be stranger than fiction, consider the reverse – fiction is often more accurate than published truth.

Every columnist seems to eventually use their space in the newspaper to answer reader mail. It is a time-honored journalistic tradition.

The rise of modern technology has made this habit easier to accomplish, by providing rapid-fire communication through texts, e-mail, and instant messaging. One needs only to open their eyes to be inundated with personal questions and comments of all sorts.

Actual ‘letters’ about this column have become rare. More common are observations posted online, and e-notes sent through cyberspace. Such correspondence is answered directly, without the need for printing.

Still, the thought of diligently sorting through inquires of a postal nature remains appealing. Genuine warmth is conveyed through the tactile sensation of opening mail and reading messages in handwritten script. So what follows here is an overview of the ‘Thoughts At Large’ mailbag, without any ‘Information Age’ embellishment:

Jazdy Polenka, Claridon – “Rod, you often mention a rowdy fellow named Ezekiel Byler-Gregg in your columns. Is he a real person? Or is the character based on someone you know?”

Jazdy, I have to admit that Byler-Gregg is completely fictional. And, he bears no resemblance to anyone in my circle of friends. If I remember correctly, Zeke first appeared in my ‘Tube Farm’ column, which quoted several faux newspapers, including his ‘Burton Daily Bugle.’ Since then, I’ve found him to be a dependable component of this column. Something similar to Mike Royko’s use of imaginary friends like Slats Grobnik.

Nardell Baines, Chesterland – “Dear Rod, Have you ever thought of running for political office? Your unique perspective would be useful in local government. If voters in Minnesota can elect a comedian like Al Franken to the U.S. Senate, then why can’t we get you on a ballot for Geauga County?”

Nardell, I appreciate your comments. In fact, I did think seriously about entering politics a few years ago. But thankfully, that reckless notion didn’t last long.

Amoretta Di Carlo, Bainbridge – “Rod, I like to read your recipe columns. Do you actually cook meals at home?”

Amoretta, In a word: yes. I enjoy ‘playing chef’ on occasion, though my stovetop results aren’t always appetizing to the rest of our family. I find oddball dishes with a bit of rural, southern flair to be particularly appealing. (Probably 50% of my personal cookbook involves the use of bacon, sausage, or pork rinds.) Still, I am evolving slowly toward more healthy cuisine. I just prefer to have plenty of gravy or melted cheese on the side.

Stan Deszek, Newbury – “Rod, I enjoyed reading about your recent search for an inexpensive used automobile. But one of the vehicles you mentioned was a 1988 Saturn. That company didn’t offer cars until the 1991 model year. So, how do you explain this discrepancy?”

Stan, you are an observant reader. ‘Saturn’ as an idea was born in 1982. The original intent of this undertaking was to compete more effectively with imported vehicles produced in Germany and Japan. It received lots of press coverage throughout the decade. However, GM’s burdensome corporate structure slowed actual progress on the new nameplate. The company wasn’t officially founded until 1985. And the first car didn’t appear until mid-1990. Because of this long period between conception and actual production, I suspect that some are confused about when the Spring Hill, Tennessee factory began operating. Used Saturn models purporting to be from the 80’s still appear occasionally. If one of them actually were some sort of pre-production model… that would be newsworthy, indeed!

Gail Bender, Thompson – “Dear Rod, I used to enjoy reading about your friend Jay Wright, and the affliction of ‘Guitar Acquisition Syndrome.’ But you haven’t mentioned that in a long while. Were you ‘cured’ from collecting stringed instruments, or did the disease simply lose its potency over time?"

Gail, I wasn’t actually cured of my GAS-ailment. It would be more accurate to report that the current economic climate put a stop to such activity. I haven’t placed a bid on eBay in several months. In fact, I’ve become an avid seller. Still, I hope that President Obama’s stimulus package will include a new Fender Telecaster or Gibson Les Paul for the Ice Household, by 2012!

Maggie Marceau, Munson – “Dearest Rod, I could swear that my husband and I saw you on the WKYC-3 evening news, being interviewed by Eric Mansfield. Was that really you?”

Maggie, I must admit that we did conduct an interview, in June. It happened because Eric had posted on Facebook (the Internet site) that he was seeking people who might offer help with a story about financial woes in the Cleveland area. I reckoned it would be a great opportunity to pass along one of my books, and a business card. He seemed friendly, and very professional. It was a pleasure to meet him in person.

Delbert Blaine, Parkman – “Dear Rod, I am a great fan of The Chardon Polka Band. Their drummer, Paul ‘Pops’ Magooch, has inspired lots of us to re-think what it means to be a senior citizen. My wife and I even celebrated our 60th wedding anniversary at a show they played on the Chardon Square. So after your recent column about the band, I have to ask – when was your nephew in the group?"

Delbert, I believe the collaboration started while everyone was still in grade school. They were known as ‘The Chardon High Polka Band.’ My nephew, Juztyn, was a good friend of lead ‘polkateer’ Jacob Kouwe. They played many gigs, all over the area. Eventually, everyone graduated, and several performers went away to college. But the group survived these changes to become more streamlined and proficient. Juztyn last performed with the band in December of 2007.

Karl Schelfe, Hunstburg – “Rod, I once heard that your last name was Italian in origin, pronounced “ee-chay” in the Old World. Is that true?”

Karl, I’ve occasionally said that in jest. But actually, the name ‘Ice’ is originally of German descent. My ancestor, named Frederick, spelled it ‘Iaac.’ Later, the moniker was changed to make it easier for English-speaking folks to process. Sadly, that hasn’t always worked so well. In one of my high school yearbooks from the 1970’s, ‘Ice’ was misspelled in three different ways.

Mail from readers can take the form of questions, critiques, suggestions, or praise. But most important of all is the act of communicating. Truly, we need each other to continue this ink-borne tradition.

So long as those who buy this newspaper feel truly ‘connected’ to our crew of professional wordsmiths, the business of publishing will survive.

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