The Tooth Brush Song

“I brush my teeth with a Sonicare toothbrush before every show.”  –David Copperfield

“I brush baby teeth during every show.”  –Jeff Brown

You’ve got to brush, brush, brush, brush your teeth.

You’ve got to brush, brush, brush, to get them clean.

You’ve got to brush, brush, brush, every day.

That’s how you fight tooth decay! 

I composed this brilliant and educational song for my daughter when she was only two years old.  I sang it with the great feeling and compassion only a father concerned about his kid’s oral health ever could.  

Simon Cowell:  That was terrible, I mean just awful. 

Interesting Fact:  There’s a little dance that goes along with it too. 

The last time I mentioned the tooth brush song to my daughter (she’s 23 now) she said she couldn’t remember it.  This revelation shocked and disappointed me because, come on, I’m talking about the tooth brush song here!  

I think the lyrics of this beautiful work of poetry just might be the most impressive and creative achievement of my entire writing career.  How could Jessica, my only daughter, forget the toothbrush song?  I guess all I can do now is hope my two year old granddaughter has a better memory.  That’s right– I’m teaching it to Hailey now. 

I scooted a small step stool up to the bathroom sink.  “Come here, kiddo,” I called, “it’s time to brush those pearly whites.”  She came running and climbed up as I squirted a tiny dab of baby toothpaste on her toothbrush.  I grinned, cleared my throat, and sang, “You’ve got to brush, brush, brush, brush your teeth.” 

“Cup,” she said, reaching for the rinse glass.  

“First you need to brush,” I replied, handing her the toothbrush.  “Do you know what to do?” 

“Uh, huh.”  She nodded and stuck it in her mouth.  

I pointed at her and continued, “You’ve got to brush, brush, brush, to get them clean.” 

After a few brush strokes, she crinkled her face and yanked it out.  The toothbrush plopped on the sink and she exclaimed, “Yucky, Papa.”  She reached for the cup again.  “Driiink!” 

I filled the water glass and handed it to her.  She took a deep swig and gawked at me as if she didn’t know what to do.  

“Um,” I said, “go ahead and spit, Hailey.” 

Water erupted from her tiny mouth and dripped down the front of her shirt.  

“In the sink!”  I grabbed the towel and wiped her off.  Her shirt was damp, but she didn’t seem to mind.  “Here’s how to spit, Hailey.”  I demonstrated by leaning over the sink and saying, “Ptooey!” 

“Heehee.”  She pretended too.  “Phooey!” 

Another Interesting Fact:  Four out of five babies surveyed recommend learning to brush from their grandpas that still have teeth.  

All in all, I think our first joint tooth brushing experience went pretty well.  We may not have gotten the best cleaning job accomplished this time around, but I feel I’ve helped instill good brushing habits in my granddaughter.  I plan to keep her brushing in the future by using lots and lots of positive reinforcement.  

Her shirt was still wet, so I grabbed the hairdryer off its hook.  “Let me dry that for you, Hailey” 

“Aaaaa!”  She scrambled down the stool and ran down the hallway.  

I turned out the light and mumbled in the dark, “And that’s how you fight tooth decay.” 

Special Note to the Producers of Sesame Street:  If you’d like to use the tooth brush song in your show, please contact my agent.

Dracula vs. the Scots

“I walk around talking to myself in accents.  Usually people look at me like I’m a complete fruit loop.”         –Eddie Redmayne

“I walk around talking to myself like a vampire.  Usually I don’t leave the house.” –Jeff Brown

“I wish I could talk with a cool accent.”

“Oh, I don’t know, Jeff, you do a pretty good Count Dracula.”

My wife and I were sitting on the couch watching TV.  Vickie grinned and said, “Go ahead, I know you’re dying to say it.”

“Say what?”

“You know what I’m talking about.”

“I’m not in the mood.”

“Come on, say it.”

She was right.  I was dying to say it.  I was dying to say, “Good evening.  I’ve come to drink your blood.”  Believe it or not, I can say those two sentences with a pretty convincing Transylvanian accent, but that’s about it.  My name is Jeff Brown, not Jeff Dunham. 

“No,” I replied with my best wily grin, “I’m too embarrassed.”

“Yeah, right.” She scoffed.

“To get a really good accent, I need to immerse myself in one.  You know, maybe get some tapes to listen too when I’m driving.”

“Do they make a Rosetta Stone for Vampires?” 

“I don’t know, but if there is one, you should put it on my Christmas list.”  

Interesting Fact: In today’s globally integrated and multicultural business environment, the ability to speak like a vampire is becoming a key factor in individual and organizational success.

Speaking of accents, I’m from Iowa, so I don’t really think I have one.  My wife is from Indiana.  Our cultural differences occasionally rear their ugly heads when she pronounces with prominence a syllable within a word or phrase to a degree that I don’t understand what the heck she’s talking about.  For instance, I call the meal at the end of the day “supper.”  She insists it’s pronounced “dinner.” 

“That’s impossible,” I say, “because dinner is what I eat in the middle of the day.”

“Ridiculous,” she counters, “because where I’m from, that’s called lunch.”

“Lunch and dinner are the same thing,” I insist.  “Supper happens in the evening.”

“I don’t eat this thing you call “supper”, Jeff.”

“Well, I don’t eat dinner at night.”

“Then I’m afraid you’re going to bed hungry, dear.”

If I want to improve my popularity with the wife, I should let her have her lunch and eat it too.  Yes, I should let go of my use of the word “supper” and practice my Scottish accent instead.  She’s mentioned Scottish accents are “hot.”  In particular, she likes Gerard Butler’s accent, although I’m not sure she’d feel the same if he spoke with a Swedish accent. 

On second thought…never mind.

This whole situation is made even more disturbing by her recent revelation that she likes a man in a kilt.

Another Interesting Fact:  I’m thinking about scrapping Jeff of all Trades for The Kilted Columnist.

Where was I?  Oh, yes, I was straining to keep an accent-related theme going for another 30 words or so.

Since it’s unlikely you’ll see me hanging out in the kilt aisle at JC Penney anytime soon, the least I could do is watch some Gerard Butler movies, you know, to brush up on his speech mannerisms.  I suppose there are worst things to do than staying up late watching 300.  Who knows?  Maybe by morning I’ll have a new line I can impress my wife with.

Spartans!  Ready your breakfast and eat hearty…For tonight, we dine in hell!

On second thought, maybe I’ll stick with …

Good evening.  I’ve come to drink your blood.

Cauliflower Fields Forever

“I can resist anything except temptation.”– Oscar Wilde

“I can resist anything except green bean casserole.”– Jeff Brown

“Where’s the cauliflower?” I asked my wife, scooting around a corner with our cart.

“It’s in the fruits and vegetables section.”

We were at the grocery store the day before Thanksgiving.  Vickie and I were entrusted to prepare the broccoli and cauliflower cheesy dish.  This was all fine with me, but I had mixed feelings about our mission.  In years past, I was in charge of the beloved green-bean casserole.  (A.K.A. Food of the Gods.)  This year somebody else was baking it (I hoped) and we were entering uncharted territory with a vegetable I had little experience with.   

“What kind of cauliflower are we looking for, Vick?”  My mind kicked into full smart alec mode and I gestured toward the cauliflower display.  “Let’s see, we have natural cauliflower, low calorie cauliflower, sugar free cauliflower, gluten free cauliflower, classic cauliflower, new improved cauliflower, caramel cauliflower, and my all-time favorite: movie theater butter cauliflower.”

Vickie picked through the heads.  “Here’s organic cauliflower for $2.94 and white cauliflower for $2.18.”  She picked up a green head.  “This one is $2.99.”

Interesting fact: Four out of five people who enjoy cauliflower recommend organic cauliflower to their friends who eat cauliflower.

“We’re getting the white stuff,” she said as she put one of the oddly shaped vegetables in our cart.

“Wait, Vick.”  I said in the most concerned tone I could muster, “Is this free-range cauliflower?  I won’t buy any vegetable, especially a brainy one like cauliflower, unless it’s been treated humanely.”

She rolled her eyes.

“I think it’s important the heads were allowed to roam the farm freely, unencumbered by fences.”

“I don’t know, Jeff.”

Another interesting fact:  Whenever Vickie uses my first name in a sentence, I know I’m getting on her nerves.

I wondered where cauliflower comes from.  Trees?  Cauliflower bushes?  An old familiar tune popped into my head…

Let me take you down, ‘cause I’m going to Cauliflower Fields

Nothing is real and nothing to get hung about.

Except they look like cerebrums, I thought, as I maneuvered into the checkout line. 

On Thanksgiving morning, I chopped up the broccoli and threw it in a pot of water.  Then I was ready to perform the lobotomy.  I rinsed the brain off in the sink and set it on a cutting board.  I glanced at Vick who was busy making deviled eggs.  “I’m ready to make my first incision.”

She shook her head.

“I’ll start by completely removing the frontal lobe,” I explained.  Then I chopped.  “Wow that felt really satisfying.  I think I’ll chop some more.”   Chop, chop, chop…

“Hey, Vick.”

“Yes, Jeff.”

“Do you know whose brain this is?”

“I don’t know.”

“It’s Abby…someone.  Abby Normal.”

She shook her head.


Pretty soon the broccoli and cauliflower were steamed to perfection.  I dumped it all in the crock-pot and Vick added her cheese sauce.  It looked and smelled pretty good.

A couple hours later we were at my sister’s house for the big meal.  As I loaded up my plate, I took some of the broccoli and cauliflower.  Everyone else did too.  Our dish was such a hit I’m thinking about taking on more responsibility next year.  Heck, maybe I’ll even prepare the turkey.

As long as it’s a free-range one.

I Got Your Back

“Don’t look back. Something might be gaining on you.” –Satchel Paige

“Don’t look back.  Something might be drooling on you.” –Jeff Brown

Our dog, Arlo, sleeps between my wife and me at night.  It goes without saying that I never lie facing in, so I don’t get a lot of variety, sleep position speaking.

My flight to dreamland usually begins with me lying on my left side.  Every night as I try to drift off, Arlo puts his paw on my right shoulder.  Instead of going unconscious, my mind focuses like a laser beam on the weight of his paw.  I imagine Arlo standing behind me, posed like George Washington crossing the Delaware River.

Yeah, I don’t get a lot of sleep either.

I don’t dare turn around to see what he’s up to; otherwise it’s like a scene from Jurassic Park.

Dr. Grant:  Keep absolutely still; his vision’s based on movement.

Jeff:  Don’t be ridiculous.  I’m just going to turn my head to— OH MY GOD!

If there’s one thing I’ve learned in my pathetic life, it’s never make direct eye contact with Arlo, especially if I’m lying in bed.  Somewhere in his tiny canine brain, he interprets “eye contact” as “unrequited love.”

Interesting Fact:  Arlo has a tongue and he’s not afraid to use it.

The assault on my personal space begins with steamy breathing in my ear.  He moans softly as he licks the back of my neck.  Then, like an awkward teenager, he goes for first base.  I push him back and say sternly, “Arlo!  I’m not in the mood.”

Like a lover scorned, he retreats to somewhere behind me.   Finally, as I start to drift off, he vengefully jabs his paw into the middle of my back.

Arlo:  Freeze!  Hand over all your peanut butter flavored Mini Bones.

Then my backside endures a barrage of bumps, kicks, and jabs and I imagine him as a masseuse.

Customer #1:  I feel so relaxed.

Customer #2:  His paws are magic, but I wish I brought my lint roller.

The dog often uses my back as a manicure table when I’m in bed.  It’s annoying when he chews his toes, tugging and licking them until my t-shirt feels damp.

Jeff:  Arlo, your nails look amazing.  What’s your secret?

Arlo:  Spit.  It softens claws as you chew on them.

Jeff:  That’s disgusting.

Arlo:  You’re soaking in it.

Finally, I can’t stand it anymore and I get out of bed.  I head to the kitchen pantry and throw open the door.  There, on the bottom shelf is my secret weapon…

A genuine basted beef hide wraps a savory middle that sends your dog to his own little busy world.

At least that’s what the manufacturer claims on the package.  I grab one and head back to the bedroom.  Guess who’s in my spot?  I toss the smelly baton-shaped turd to the foot of the bed.  Arlo gleefully lunges for it and I climb back in.

“What’s going on?” asks my wife, rubbing her eyes.  “You woke me up.”

“Nothing,” I grunt.  “Go back to sleep.”

A minute later I feel the dog crawl up behind me and put his paw on my shoulder.  It’s almost like he’s saying, “I know you’re having a tough time, Jeff, but I want you to know I’m here for you.

I got your back.”

The Perfect Escape

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your adventure.”  –Joseph Campbell

“The big question is whether you’re going to say “yeah baby!” or “woohoo!” on your next big adventure.” –Jeff Brown


“Our spouses are crazy for not doing this,” I exclaimed, as my daughter and I signed the liability wavers.

A man held a harness out in front of me and asked that I “step into it.”  I’m doing this literally and figuratively, I thought.  As I pulled it up to my waist, I noticed it had all kinds of clips and clasps and slide adjustments. 

I definitely needed an adjustment.

“Go ahead and tighten the side straps yourself,” he said, as he helped Jessica with hers.  I could tell he didn’t want to be anywhere near my, uh…lower extremity region.   This was fine with me, so I did the best I could.  When I was done, I felt ridiculous, yet strangely kind of sexy.  I’m certain I looked like a Village People reject. 

Panelist Judge: Sorry Jeff, but we’ve decided to go with the construction worker.

Jessica and I donned our helmets and gloves and started climbing the stairs of Tower 1.  

My wife took this picture of Tower 1 from the safety of the ground.

The zip is a two part flight from Tower 1 to Tower 2 at Bloomsbury Farm in Atkins, Iowa.  The zip line expert waiting for us at the top was very friendly and didn’t appear have any qualms about being near my lower extremities.  “Those straps need to be tighter,” he said in an authoritative voice.  Then he breached my personal space and pulled them so tight I would’ve messed up Macho Man if I were singing at that particular moment. 

This shot taken from the top of Tower 1 is from the Bloomsbury Farm website. There were hundreds of people roaming the grounds the day we were zipping.

We were 51 feet high and had a bird’s eye view of the entire farm on this sunny fall day.  I could see hundreds of people wandering the crowded agritourism grounds, enjoying the hayride, pumpkin patch, and corn mazes.  There were two zip line cables attached to the tower above our heads.  They were 700 feet long and ran parallel to each other.  Tower 2 was our destination and there was only one way to get there:

Go back down the steps and walk.

Okay, there were two ways to get there, and sliding down the cables while dangling from underneath was clearly the most reasonable.    

The zip expert attached Jessica’s trolley and safety rope to the left cable.  Then he hooked me to the right and asked, “Do you guys want me to count down?”

I thought a prayer might be more appropriate, especially since we were about to slip the surly bonds of Earth and touch the face of God.  (FYI:  I was really hoping that second part didn’t happen.)  I asked my daughter, “What do you think?” 

Grinning ear to ear, she said, “Sure.” 

“3-2-1 jump!”

Jessica leaped off the platform.  I followed. 


There we are!

The cable bowed slightly as it took my full weight and the trolley made a “zzzzzzzzz” sound just inches above my head.  I would’ve felt the wind in my hair, but I was wearing that stupid helmet.  I could see my daughter speeding ahead of me as I started to rotate counterclockwise.  My mind raced as fast as my body…

Oh look, that’s where I came from.  Oh look, that’s where I’m going.  Oh look…    

For the record I didn’t actually yell, “Whoopee!”  In fact, I didn’t say anything at all.  The whole experience of zipping down the cable was absolutely exhilarating; I’m just not the kind of guy who goes around hooting and hollering every time something exciting happens.  Oh sure, I let out an occasional “woohoo” in print, but in real life? 

It’s just too embarrassing.

My wife thinks it’s interesting that roller coasters and zip lines don’t bother me the slightest, but the thought of getting home too late to let the dog out gives me nightmares.  “It’s all about escapism,” I told her.  “When I’m doing these fun activities, I don’t have time to worry about things like the economy or the cost of replacing our carpet.”

Before I knew it, my daughter and I were peering off the edge of Tower 2.  She beamed at me, ran a few steps, and jumped.  I took a deep breath, cleared my mind, and followed.    


Yeah, I didn’t say that either.

Jessi comes in for a landing.

Jeff without a care in the world.

To learn more about Bloomsbury Farm, visit their website at

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!

Watch Out For Those Surges Over Some Seats!

This is our “before” picture.

“Wild Thing, you make my heart sing.”  –The Troggs

“Wild Thing, you make me have to change my socks and boxer shorts.”   –Jeff Brown

Hold on!  Hold on! 


As a sheet of frigid water descended on my wife and me, my mind raced back to a half hour earlier.  We were standing in a parking lot near our station wagon.  The rear hatch was open and I was gazing inside.  A battle was raging in my brain between my extreme dread of getting soaking wet and my fear of looking like a complete wuss to a group of strangers.

“Are you ready?” asked Vickie.

I grabbed my navy blue rain coat and held it up.  “I’m trying to decide if I want to wear this or not.  Do you want yours?”

“No, it’s hot out here.  The water will feel good.”

She had a point.  It was warm (in the seventies) especially standing on the asphalt in the sun, but I knew it would be cooler on the water– a lot cooler.  In the end my dread of being uncomfortable trumped my fear of looking stupid and I tied the coat around my waist.  “Let’s go,” I said.

Vickie and I were enjoying a weekend at Wisconsin Dells and we were embarking on the 1200hp Wild Thing Jet Boat Tour.  The ride is marketed as 50% fast, 50% slow, 100% fun with power stops, 360 spins, sprays of water, and surges over some seats.  As we waited for a bus to pick us up and take us to the Wisconsin River, I glanced at the group of my fellow passengers.  They were all wearing shorts and t-shirts and I could read their minds.

Total Stranger#1: Do you see that goofy looking guy over there with his raincoat tied around his waist?

Total Stranger#2: Yeah, I’m surprised he didn’t bring his blankey.  What a wuss!

The ten minute bus ride was, well…hot.  There were approximately 40 of us all together, and we were glad when we made it to the river and boarded the boat.  The Wild Thing had a camouflage paint scheme and passengers were seated about six across.  There were large plastic containers tucked under the seats and the captain was ensconced in the back in an elevated, Plexiglas encased bridge. 

He spoke through a loud speaker.  (I’m paraphrasing here.)  “Welcome everyone to the Wild Thing.  If you have any valuables you don’t want to get wet, please place them inside the plastic containers in front of you.  I guarantee you’re going to get wet, if not completely soaked.”

I glanced at my wife and smirked as I untied my raincoat and put it on.  “You know, Vick,” I said as I zipped it up, “if you get wet and cold and want my raincoat midway through this ride, don’t you worry.”  I lifted the hood up over my head, pulled the strings tight, and continued, “There’s no way I’m giving it to you.  Hahaha!”

She shook her head and grinned.  “You’re so mean!”

The captain went on.  “Notice the handrails in front of you.  When I say “hold on” I want you to grab them tight.  We’ll reach speeds of up to 70 miles per hour and make frequent abrupt stops.  If anybody falls out of the boat, I’m not going back for you.  Hahaha!”

This guy, I thought, is pretty funny.

Then the captain revved the boat’s engines and we accelerated up the river.  I felt the skin on my face forced back by air pressure and my hood flipped off as the captain shouted, “Hold on!  Hold on!  Hold on!”  The boat decelerated and spun to the right, kicking up a huge wave of water.


I looked at Vickie.  Her hair was soaked and her eyes cried out to me, “Can I borrow your raincoat?”

My eyes responded, “You’ll have to pry it from my cold wet fingers.”

But there wasn’t time because we were soon tearing up the river again.  We’d begun a series of accelerations and decelerations, followed by underwear drenching waves.  The captain occasionally remarked, “Here’s an interesting rock formation that looks like an elephant’s behind.  Hold on!  Hold on!”


“Here’s where Native Americans used to camp. Hold on! Hold on!”


I did manage to notice through my water specked spectacles that it was a beautiful day. The sky was cobalt blue, lush trees flanked both sides of the wide river, and there were numerous other boats whizzing by.

“Hold on! Hold on!”


I don’t remember much else.  All I could think about was how soaked my shirt, pants, and yes, my underwear were.  The flimsy raincoat was no match for the waves, but I was glad I brought it because it helped keep me warm in the 70 mph wind. 

When the boat finally pulled back to the dock, Vickie and I scrambled off the craft and tipped the captain on his, err…driving skills.  There were future passengers lined up on our way back to the bus.  One of them noticed how wet we were and I heard him say to his wife, “Maybe we should have brought raincoats.”

On our drive home the next day, I asked Vickie what part of the vacation she liked best.  “Was it the ride on the famous Army Ducks?  How about that awesome water-ski show?”

She looked at me thoughtfully and replied, “I think it was the Wild Thing ride.”

I remember thinking her opinion was all wet– along with my shirt, pants, and underwear. 

We managed to get one of the total strangers to take this “after” picture of us.

Special Note:  If you don’t mind getting wet and you’re in the Wisconsin Dells area, I highly recommend the Wild Thing Jet Boat Tour.  Here’s a link to their website

However, I strongly urge you to go on a warm day and wear a scuba suit under your raincoat.

It’s the Story of a Lovely Volcano

“I feel like a person living on the brink of a volcano crater.”  –Agnes Smedley

“I feel like a person living at the base of a live volcano.”   –Jeff’s Plastic Army Man

As back to school season goes into full swing, I feel myself getting that old familiar dread.  Don’t make me go back, Mom!

Not that I have to.  I’m 42 years old and haven’t attended classes for quite a long while.  Every year at this time when the air gets cooler and shopping carts fill with essentials like erasable bond typing paper and Dukes of Hazzard Trapper Keepers, I get a little nostalgic.  Summer is my season and I hate to see it end. 

Like most normal people, I still associate summertime with my early childhood.  You know, doing all the normal things kids like to do– playing hide and go seek until dark, spinning on merry-go-rounds until I couldn’t see straight, and building Brady Bunch inspired volcanoes in my back yard. 

I’m referring to episode #76: “Today I Am a Freshman.”   This show features Peter’s science project volcano spewing “lava” all over his sister and friends.   Here’s a 48 second clip:

Is this great TV or what?  Keep in mind the scene was filmed in 1972, long before computer generated special effects.  Every time I watch it, strong feelings get stirred up deep inside me.  I mean, did you see the smoke?   Did you see the lava?

Did you see the short outfits those girls were wearing? 

Okay, to be honest, I didn’t notice the girls so much when I was a little kid.  Now that I’m older, I have even more appreciation of the clip, but I’m getting off topic.  Where was I?  Oh yeah– the volcano.

I spent hours as a child wondering how it worked.  The volcano was obviously electrical, but what caused the smoke?  Did Peter use dry ice?  Was there some sort of lava pump hidden under the table?  As I looked around my bedroom strewn with Pick-Up Sticks and old Tinker Toys, I knew I’d never be able to replicate the TV volcano exactly.  I didn’t have the proper equipment, but that didn’t stop me from trying.  I had my own ideas.

It’s the story, of a lovely volcano…

Mt. Jeffuvious was a magnificent sight to behold.  (To be more specific, I distinctly remember thinking it looked “keen.”)   It stood about two feet high and was constructed from sticks I poked into the ground in a circular pattern.  The skeleton frame looked like a tipi, except the sticks didn’t meet at the top.  Instead, there was a gaping hole I referred to as “the caldera of destruction.”  The whole thing was covered with a thick layer of mud and dirt and the result was a realistic looking mini-volcano.  I filled the inside with dry grass and leaves.

Mt. Jeffuvious, I speculated, had been dormant for 100,000 years.  After all this time, the magma chamber was filled to the brim and she was about to blow.  It was too bad for the villagers living at the base of the mountain.  They were a peace-loving race of plastic army men that drove to work every day in their Tonka vehicles. 

Interesting fact:  One of the villagers drove a Spiderman car.

Sadly for the unsuspecting citizens, their time on this planet was nearly up. 

Jeff the fire god lit a piece of paper on fire with some matches he found in his dad’s garage and threw it in the caldera.  He laughed maniacally, “Hahahaha!”

Villager #1: Did you hear that?

Villager #2: You mean that weird laughing coming from the heavens?

Villager #3: Legend has it that maniacal laughter from the sky means Jeff the fire god is acting without parental supervision again.  We’re doomed.

Flames erupted briefly and white smoke belched out the top.  The volcano looked, well…keen.  Peter Brady, I thought, eat your heart out. 

Then my dad showed up.  He glared at me and ordered,   “Put that fire out right now, Jeff, before you burn yourself!”

Villager #1: Who was that?

Villager #2: The god of punishment.

Villager #3: We’re saved!  When he cools off, I sure hope he buys Jeff a Dukes of Hazzard General Lee.  One of the wheels fell off the Spiderman car. 

Unfortunately for the mighty Mt. Jeffuvious, irresistible forces of nature such as plate tectonics, erosion, and my dad’s shovel completely leveled the once majestic peak.  It only exists today as a memory– a sweet summertime memory from my youth.  Yeah, there’s no doubt about it: summer vacation is the best time of the year.

Unless, of course, you’re an army man living at the base of an active volcano.

Villager #1: Did you hear that?

Villager #2: It sounded like a school bell.

Villager #3: Music to my tiny plastic ears.