I am Antenna Man

Yeah, I built that.

“To achieve, you need thought.  You have to know what you are doing and that’s real power.”  –Ayn Rand

“To achieve, you need thought.  You have to know how to build an antenna out of bread and paper towel rolls and that’s real power.” –Jeff Brown

Whenever my wife leaves the house for more than a few hours, she turns the TV on for our pets.  She claims it helps the critters feel less lonely when we’re gone.  (Apparently they enjoy bad sci-fi movies and Say Yes to the Dress marathons.)

Of course, I think leaving the TV on all day for the pets is silly because everyone knows that animals prefer to listen to the radio.  Besides, the dog and one of the cats are dudes.  I can’t imagine either one of them caring if Kelly chooses the Column Sweetheart Court Train Chiffon or the Mermaid Strapless Taffeta.

Interesting Fact:  It scares me that I know the difference.

Another Interesting Fact: Okay, I really don’t.  I googled wedding dresses and wrote down the first two that popped up.  I swear I’m telling the truth.

I always try my best to give our pets the listening variety they deserve.  Every morning before I leave for work, I flip on the radio in the kitchen and ask the dog, “So, Arlo, what do you feel like today, conservative talk radio?” 

Then I ask the cats, “What do you want Lacy, some NPR?  How about you, Shadow, a little bit of country, a little bit of rock and roll?”

My only problem is the radio gets poor reception.  It’s one of those radio/cd player combos that’s bolted underneath the cupboard.  The reception is especially poor for my favorite AM talk station.  One day when I was fiddling with it, I noticed the reception was better as long as I touched it.  As soon as I let go, there was annoying static.  I immediately thought I’ve finally discovered my superpower.


And with great power comes great responsibility.  I couldn’t just stand there all day leaning against the radio so the animals could listen to Rush Limbaugh.  I had to go to work because pet food doesn’t grow on trees.  Then, I got an idea. 

I grabbed a nearby loaf of bread and held it up to the radio.  The reception improved.  When I took it away, the static returned.  I tried the same procedure with a box of Pop-Tarts. 

FYI:  Wonder Cottage Bread is way better at picking up radio signals than Brown Sugar Cinnamon Pop-Tarts.     

What I needed to do was somehow strap the loaf to the radio.  I briefly considered using duct tape, but I knew I was out.  (For some reason it seems like I’m always out of duct tape.)  Then I got another idea.

I scooted the paper towel dispenser underneath the radio and placed the loaf on top.  It didn’t quite reach, so I grabbed a nearby box of cereal bars and jammed it underneath the stack.  The result was the loaf of bread was held perfectly against the bottom of the radio and I was pretty pleased with myself.  That is until I let go.


I slumped my shoulders and looked at the herd of critters that had gathered at my feet.  “Well,” I said, “I’m out of ideas.  What do you guys think?”

Lacy: I think Kelly should go with the Sweetheart Court Train Chiffon.

Shadow: Definitely the Mermaid Taffeta.

Arlo: What’s on the Syfy channel?

I’m Number One!

“Winning is about heart, not just legs.  It’s got to be in the right place.”  –Lance Armstrong

“Winning is about heart, not just legs, and finding the right place for my gigantic, shiny, colorful, and prestigious trophy.”   –Jeff Brown

I want to start this column by thanking all of the little people who helped make this happen.  I’m talking about the guy working behind the counter at the parts store, I’m talking about my wife who helped me get it ready to paint, and I’m talking about my dad who did all of the work that required any sort of skill and knowledge.

Most of all, I want to thank the citizens of Ely, Iowa, who bestowed upon me one of their most magnificent and prestigious awards.  (I’m sure it’s akin to receiving the key to their city.)  Of course, I’m talking about the second place trophy I received at the annual Ely Fall Fest 2012 Car Show. 

YES.  I’m number one!  I’m number one!

Okay, I’m number two.

Well, technically, my car was number two in the Stock Chevy 1960-1973 class.  I went with a friend who drives an original Starsky and Hutch car, and it did well in its class too.  His car is actually a lot nicer than mine, but this column isn’t about him, it’s about me.

I’m number one!  I’m number one!

Okay, I’m number two.

I bought my 1963 Chevy Impala 4-door hardtop way back in the early nineties for $1700.00 because it met all three of my criteria buying any vehicle: 

  1. It was cheap.
  2. It was reliable.
  3. It was cheap.

(I suppose you could add “rusty” to my criteria, but I consider that to be more of a term of endearment than a selling point.)

I guess I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Chevy Impalas, especially the ones built from 1958-1964.  In fact, I’ve owned four ‘63’s over the years, including the white 2-door hardtop I drove in High School and the red and white convertible I had in my early twenties.  (I curse the day I sold that one.)  What can I say?  I like the body lines of the early Impalas.  I think even the 4-doors like the one I have now are cool looking. 

Interesting Fact:  One day while driving with the windows down, a young guy pulled alongside me, beamed, and said, “I like your car.  It’s ssssssexy.”

Hollywood appreciates 1963 Impalas too.  If you were a fan of the TV show The Wonder Years, the Arnolds drove a ’63 4-door hardtop in the early episodes– just like mine!  In the 1992 movie A Few Good Men, Tom Cruise drove a light blue ’63 4-door Impala.

Another Interesting Fact: Sometimes when I’m driving my Impala, I pretend that I’m Tom Cruise–­­­ not the weird Scientology Tom Cruise of present day, but the cool Tom Cruise of the ‘80’s.      

I’ve put a lot of elbow grease into my car over the years.  I’ve added power steering, power breaks, and a fancy bumper guard to the front.  Not to mention the fact that I’ve taken the whole thing apart, sanded it, painted it, and put it all back together again.  Despite all of this, it’s still hardly a perfect show car, just a fun drive.

This is why I think it’s so cool that I won this award— this gigantic, shiny, colorful, and prestigious trophy.  The only problem is I have to find a place in my house to properly display it.  The ideal spot would be on my mantle above the fireplace, but since I don’t have a mantle or a fireplace, I’ve been trying different areas out. 

As I’ve been carrying it from the living room to the kitchen and from the bedroom to the bathroom, my wife just looks at me and shakes her head.  She thinks all of this attention has gone to my head.   

Not to worry because I know how to handle her.  I just point to the trophy where it clearly states that I’m number one. 

YES.  I’m number one!

Okay, I’m number two.


This picture is from a July car show.

My ’63.

The Trials, Tribulations, and Spam of an Obscure Blogger

“I don’t care too much for money, for money can’t buy me love.”  –The Beatles

“I don’t care too much for money, for money can’t buy me comments like I get from Zssjccvmm.”   –Jeff Brown

I hear it all the time.  “So, Jeff, how’s the writing going?”

It’s a question I dread because I know it’s loaded.  The person usually isn’t wondering if I’m feeling inspired or if I’ve gotten over the dangling participle problems of my youth.  (FYI: I’m completely cured.  It’s amazing what modern drugs and a little elective surgery can fix.)  More often than not, what the person really wants to know is this: Am I making money with my writing?

The answer is no.    

I try not to let it get me down by reminding myself that money isn’t everything.  The real reason I write is because it makes me happy, although I cringe a little when I say that.  I feel the same way when I hear an American Idol judge ask a contestant, “Did you have fun up there?”

Another big motivator for me to keep writing in this modern age of the Internet and Flex Seal (It’s actually liquid rubber in a can.) is the comment section of my blogs.  Here’s an example of the type of comments I usually get.  This particularly inspiring message is from a guy named Louis:

You are in reality a good webmaster.  The web site loading speed is amazing.  It kind of feels that you’re doing any distinctive trick.  The contents are masterpiece.  You’ve done a magnificent process in this matter!

Thanks Louis!  You’re so kind.  Here’s a comment from one of my international readers, at least I think he is because I can’t pronounce his name.  Zssjccvmm says in response to a column I wrote about turning a cow skull into a light fixture:

If you are comfortable with the idea, try loading a few of the items that you have in your current diaper bag into the new one to see how it all fits.  Everything that you need should be able to fit into it comfortably and should leave enough space so that you can reach anything you need without having to unpack the whole bag.

Thanks Zssjccvmm!  I’ll keep that in mind. 

Of course, not all of my readers are positive.  When I get a negative comment, I at least hope it includes some constructive criticism like this one from Vohyri:

Obviously like your web-site but you have to take a look at the spelling on quite a few of your posts.  Many of them a rife with spelling problems and I to find it very troublesome to inform the truth on the other hand I will certainly come again again.

Thanks a lot, Vohyri, but don’t bother.

The weird thing about most of my comments is it seems they were written by people who didn’t even read my columns.  This saddens me because what good is it to be a writer if nobody is reading my stuff?  

Again, I have to remind myself that I don’t write columns to get comments from people that don’t read them.  I write columns for the people who do actually read them, but never leave comments. 

These are my fans.  These are my people!

Every once in a while, though, I’ll get a response like this:

I just wanted to say that you are great and the cow head light bulb fixture is a great idea.

When I read this it made my day.  Here’s a person who not only read my cow head column; he actually felt inspired enough to write a comment too.  (It also heartened me to know there’s somebody else out there who shares my taste in home décor.)

What does this mean? 

It means I can’t wait for somebody to ask me again how the writing is going.  I’ll look the questioner in the eye and say truthfully, “It’s going pretty good– you might even say great.”

One of my avid readers agrees.

Impotent gentlemen never had it so good…


Special Note: If you’d like to read Jeff’s column in your local paper, be sure to share your enthusiasm with the editor.  Thanks!