Quick Hits – November 27, 2019

Now, some readers, particularly those of the Tri-Cities variety, are getting on my last good nerve by self-righteously proclaiming I should be “supporting the community” instead of “tearing it down.”

Oh! Lord grant me patience. Some of y’all really need to start appreciating the massive effort I put into not being a serial killer. Just go ahead and add that to your pre-meal Thanksgiving prayer.

First, for better and likely much worse, that’s what the rest of the local newspapers already do. I call it “happy news.” When was the last time any local paper broke a real story? Conversely, here’s what we’ve recently discussed here:

  • The immense violence occurring at the Illinois Youth Center – St. Charles
  • Why Batavians’ electric rates are so ridiculously high
  • How an Elgin City Councilman has been bought and sold by the Madigan Machine
  • The sexual harassment scandal in the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office
  • The real Burlington bus aide story
  • The Public Defenders utter inability to make it into the office
  • The truth about roundabouts

And so much more!

I’ll certainly give Shaw Media credit for following up on the IYC, the KCSAO sexual harassment, and the truth about Burlington bus aide stories, but please note the phrase “following up.”

Second, when no one’s covering government malfeasance, it only encourages elected officials to further misbehave, and before you know it, your taxes skyrocket. How are those electric rates Batavia? And didn’t you just get socked with a double property tax increase?

How’s the fact that no newspaper broke those stories ahead of time workin’ out for ya?

And third, whenever someone insists I should “support the community,” roughly translated, what it really means is, I’ve offended their delicate sensibilities with the truth, and they can’t come up with a better argument for why I shouldn’t print the truth.

But since you so impolitely asked me, I’ve got your community support right here:

 

March on ladies!

On the heels of 2017’s eminently successful Geneva Women’s March – despite having to endure polar vortex-like conditions – We Can Lead Fox Valley is hoping to double those 700 female marchers in 2020.

Still gluttons for midwinter weather punishment, the upcoming event will take place on January 18 at noon, opening with a rally in the Kane County Civil Courthouse parking lot on James Street. The marchers will proceed north on 6th Street, east on State Street, and south on Third Street, sticking to the sidewalks the entire time.

Geneva Women's March.jpg

This Women’s March theme is “Get out and vote,” a sentiment I can get behind without reservation.

But there’s an irony involved here that’s just too ironic to pass up. Despite the fact that moderate folks like me wholeheartedly support women laying claim to their political power, it’s beyond fascinating to watch conservatives – and particularly conservative women – take this apolitical march as a personal affront.

And I’m the one who fails to support the community? The mere existence of female marchers seems to immediately trigger conservatives into a sprint to their safe spaces.

I applaud the group organizing the march – it’s no small task, I couldn’t possibly hold our January marchers in higher esteem, and I believe in standing for something, because if you don’t, you’ll fall for anything.

March on ladies!

 

Congratulations Terry Emma!

In deference to my adoring throng, I’m not gonna name names, but some previous Geneva Wood Award winners left me scratching my head. But not this one! If anyone ever deserved this 2019 accolade it’s third-generation Genevan and Geneva History Museum head honcho, Terry Emma.

Terry Emma 2

For you non-Genevans, the Wood Community Service Award, annually bestowed by the Chamber of Commerce, goes to the individual who’s most contributed to “the growth and health of the Geneva community.”

I figure my nomination got lost in the mail – again!

Of course, having been married to Geneva Mayor Kevin Burns, I fervently believe that Terry should’ve won a Nobel Peace Prize, and I’ll be talking to those Swedish folks shortly. But let’s not sully this fine occasion with any kind of negativity.

Among her many accomplishments, Terry brought in $200,000 in History Museum grants and donations that were applied to redesign their new stunning main gallery. I could continue to embarrass Ms. Emma with yet more praise, but the Chronicle already did a fine job of doing just that!

Upon calling Terry to congratulate her, I have to say I had a blast talking with someone who’s truly enjoying life and is beyond excited about what the future might bring. That kind of perspective always proves to be quite contagious!

Good job Geneva Chamber of Commerce and good job Terry. You deserve it!

 

Just Dance!

I know all this community support has made you kind of dizzy, but since I’m clearly on a roll, why stop now? There’s always the possibility that some of your heads will summarily explode and I firmly believe every last Geneva male should take their significant other to the Vargo’s Dance Studio Friday night beginner East Coast Swing class.

For a mere sawbuck ($10) per student you get 45 minutes of expert instruction from Carl Linder and studio owner Jamie Vargo, you get another 20 minutes of supervised practice time, and you can even BYOB. How can anything possibly get better than that?

And trust me, if Jamie and Carl ever give up the whole dance thing, they could go on the road as a comedy team – the class is quite entertaining.

Jamie Vargo

The Lovely Jamie Vargo

As a result of our tenure at Vargo’s, my wife and I have moved up to the West Coast Swing class, and I’ll be shortly taking adult tap lessons with the Geneva Park District. Not only is dancing flat out fun, but it’s made me a far better athlete.

It’s not just swing, either. Vargo’s offers a variety of adult classes which you can see for yourself right here.

And guys! If you take your wife or girlfriend out dancing on a Friday night, not only will she be completely shocked, but the odds of you getting’ lucky later will increase exponentially. C’mon! What have you got to lose but your whiteness!

 

 

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Lastly, my long-time readers know Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday, and my fondest wish is that you enjoy it as much as I do.

I’m certainly thankful for the kind of regular readership that’s incited me into doing this for more than 13 years, and I’ve enjoyed every second of it!

Since I could use four days off, I’ll likely run another Curmudgeon book chapter on Friday!

Quick Hits – Finishing off the Elgin Cabal

Before we move on to other things, to put a period on our two-part Elgin cabal story – at least for now – let’s cover some of their generally amusing lesser nefarious and incompetent endeavors. There’s quite a bit to choose from in that regard, but let’s start with former State Senator and current 16th Circuit Judge Mike Noland, who can’t even handle the Aurora traffic court call.

You see, what the judge utterly fails to understand is, by law, the men and women in black cannot campaign for, support, endorse, or help any political candidates in any way. And they can’t engage in those activities because it reflects poorly on and calls the integrity of the judiciary into question. But that hasn’t stopped Noland from making proclamations like “Kane County needs another Democratic Judge” and the like.

So, while it’s going to take some time to remove Judge John Dalton from the bench, given his infamous inability to remain silent, those kinds of ethical breaches mean Noland should be gone in a scant two years.

And speaking of Judge Dalton, it’s come to my attention that he and husband Rich Jacobs regularly use Elgin Township Supervisor Franklin Ramirez as their private limo service – on Township time. That means the citizens of Elgin are paying Ramirez to drive our dynamic duo to their Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, home, and in return, Ramirez gets to enjoy that residence when the owners aren’t there.

For the uninitiated, Jacobs was Noland’s Elgin “Chief of Staff,” who now serves current State Senator Cristina Castro in the same capacity. A legend in his own mind, Jacobs somehow thinks he was the one who got elected, and as a result, he acts as if the Senators’ constituents are but a mere annoyance.

Most legislative aides actually answer the phone when folks call, but not Jacobs. Having to contend with the peasantry is something that’s quite beneath him.

Then there’s Senator Castro herself! To be fair, she does have a number of redeeming personality traits, but those qualities haven’t evidenced themselves since she moved from the Kane County Board to Springfield.

Castro 3

Castro, who believes she’s la reina hispana de Elgin, was not at all amused by Elgin City Councilman Rose Martinez’ refusal to fall in line and support Baldemar Lopez’ 2019 city council run. For reference purposes, we covered Mr. Lopez’s follies last Wednesday.

When charm and cajoling wouldn’t work, Castro quickly resorted to outright threats, which didn’t get her very far. If any of you know Rose, then you also know threatening her tends to generate an equal and opposite reaction. So, now Castro is desperately trying to mend fences, but Rose will have nothing to do with that level of insincerity.

Another fun fact regarding the Castro posse is their willingness to use other peoples’ legal misfortunes against them. Since turnabout is fair play, I issued a FOIA request seeking any Elgin police report involving she and her husband Joe McKeown. And sure enough! I found a fascinating tale of how Castro should’ve been arrested for intimidating another candidate’s campaign workers.

Other than the fact Penny Wegman had the temerity to run against her, I don’t know the root cause of the feud between the two. But apparently it got bad enough that Castro pinned a Wegman campaign volunteer’s car in place and proceeded to berate and threaten the high schoolers within.

She then used her car to block to block River Bluff Boulevard in a manner such that the campaign volunteers had to turn around and go the other way. And we all thought Donald Trump behaved poorly.

Castro’s husband proceeded to stalk Wegman – regularly driving by her house, etc. – for the rest of the campaign. To put that in perspective, Penny Wegman is so politically innocuous, that starting a feud with her would be a lot like picking a fight with Mr. Rogers.

I provided Ms. Castro with every opportunity to explain her antics and she declined to do so.

So, there you have it! A bought and sold city council member, two of the worst judges to ever don the black dress, a political lackey who’ll do anything for a dollar, and then there’s State Senator herself.

These shenanigans would be almost funny if these weren’t the people purporting to represent and serve you Elgin, and they’re counting on your continued inattentiveness to get away with all of it. But now that you know, all I ask is that you choose a bit more wisely going forward.

Quick Hits – An Elgin Cabal Cracks – Part Two!

On Wednesday we covered how, in the form of Elgin City Councilman Baledmar Lopez, the Madigan Machine’s tentacles have oozed all the way out to Elgin. We discussed the fact the councilman, who’s co-owns a lobbying firm, was paid 60 grand by Commonwealth Edison to do absolutely nothing.

It’s great work if you can get it!

But as bought and sold as he is, Lopez’ antics pale in comparison to another charter member of that Elgin cabal, Judge John Dalton, who revels in a sadistic capacity to make the folks unfortunate enough to enter his courtroom suffer as much as possible.

John dalton

John Dalton

Again, Dalton, Lopez, Judge Michael Noland, and Dalton’s husband, political lackey Rich Jacobs, all revolve around Elgin State Senator Cristina Castro who firmly believes she was somehow elected queen of The City in the Suburbs.

For reference purposes, we’ve previously covered Judge Dalton at length and here are some of his greatest hits:

  • He refuses to enforce his own rulings and laughs in peoples’ faces in the process
  • He makes the law up as he goes along
  • He’s a bigot who’s exceptionally hard on Hispanics and blacks
  • He plays to the courtroom gallery consistently looking for reactions
  • He granted unsupervised shared custody for a father who was out on bond for threatening to kill his ex-wife – twice
  • He granted unsupervised shared custody to a women with a series of arrests for public intoxication (I have the police reports)

Then there’s my personal favorite, when a woman presented texts in which her ex bragged that he was masturbating on the bed next to their two-year-old daughter, Dalton replied, “Do you know how many people have sex in the same room as their children?”

Yeah! He’s a real piece of work! And the reason he gets away with behaving like such a bleep is he’s an elected circuit judge, but he might not be getting away with it for much longer.

You see, his beyond questionable custody placements – Dalton feeds on making the women who appear before him break down and sob in court – have finally caught up with him in the form of a dead two-year-old boy.

To be clear, no good journalist will EVER get involved with, or take sides in a custody dispute, in great part, because it’s far too easy to accuse someone of sexual abuse or any number of heinous acts. But when you consider his track record and a call I received from a Glen Ellyn pastor, it indicates an obvious pattern in Dalton’s placements.

The pastor found me through a previous column on this despicable excuse for a human being, and he reached out because he couldn’t quite believe a church member’s account of Dalton’s behavior in court. His utter disregard for anyone actually is quite hard to believe.

As the pastor went on to describe the horrific particulars of the case, I assured him that Dalton was more than capable of the egregious behavior his congregant described, including placing a child in the care of a pedophile. The pastor was beside himself as he described how the young boy was undergoing rectal reconstruction surgery as we spoke.

So, when the mother of the dead two-year-old previously accused her ex of the same sex abuse, and then that child mysteriously died in the care of the ex and his family, I’m starting to take that possibility far more seriously.

To be clear, the Cook County Medical Examiner is in the process of determining the cause of death, and DCFS has opened an investigation, which means it’s time to issue some FOIA’s in both regards. But the bottom line is, John Dalton has a long history of placing children in peril because he feeds on watching their mothers’ complete and utter despair.

As previously stipulated here, outgoing Chief Judge, Susan Clancy-Boles, refused to address this issue in any way – no shock there – but a new 16th Circuit Chief Judge takes office on December 1, which means there’s new hope! So, let me address Judge Clint Hull directly.

Judge Hull,

Given our former friendship, no one understands this journalist’s persistence quite like you do, and you and I know you have the power to bring John Dalton’s reign of terror to an end. To wit, when there was a mere whisper of Judge Joseph Grady issuing a racist comment in court, Chief Judge Boles slapped a court reporter in that room so fast that heads were doin’ 360s.

It didn’t happen again, did it?

And that’s all that’s required here. So, your first course of action as Chief Judge should be to do the very same thing in courtroom 101. You and I both know Dalton behaves quite differently when the court watchers are there for the Tuesday and Thursday order of protection hearings, and a court reporter would be even more effective in that regard.

Should you chose not to avail yourself of this eminently simple solution, I promise to take you and this situation to the Judicial Inquiry Board and beyond. I will continue to rally the Dalton victims who have come to me to action, and I will personally run the kind of 2024 anti-retention campaign that will require you to respond with some serious campaign cash.

It’s nothing personal Your Honor. It’s simply a matter of refusing to simply sit back and watch people suffer when you and I can do something about it.

Quick Hits – An Elgin Cabal Cracks – Part One!

You certainly can’t say Darth Madigan didn’t have a good run, but just as those 60s generals warned us about Communism, those falling dominoes are quickly closing in on The Speaker. Ed Burke, Martin Sandoval, Tom Cullerton, Mike McClain, Kevin Quinn, Michael Zalewski, and Danny Solis wore a wire!

Say it ain’t so, Danny!

But make no mistake my politically perspicuitous friends, the feds have their eyes on one prize and, considering that elected snitches go home for Christmas, Illinois’ own Sith Lord will fall.

Before you Republicans start in with all the self-righteous smirking, the Madigan Machine would be but a mere political speed bump if it weren’t for some truly serious of GOP collaboration every single bleepin’ step of the way. Can you say Pate Philip? I knew you could!

And those swiftly spreading federal tendrils managed to make it all the way out to Elgin, too!

For reference purposes, the “Elgin Cabal” we’re discussing primarily consists of Judge John Dalton, Dalton’s husband and political hanger-on Rich Jacobs, former State Senator and current Judge Michael Noland, and its newest member, Elgin City Councilman Baldemar Lopez.

It’s also important to note this clique that would be Elgin Kingmakers falls squarely into the orbit of none other than State Senator Cristina Castro.

Castro

But getting back to the feds, it’s Lopez that suddenly seems to be that group’s weakest link, and I want to thank Chicago’s WBEZ Public Radio for doing all the heavy lifting on this fascinating story.

It starts with Lopez being the co-owner of the Elgin based Stratagem Consulting Group, a firm that generally lobbies the Illinois General Assembly on behalf of their clients. An Elgin alderman who’s a principal proposition is being lobbyist? Oh! There’s no conflict of interest there!

To make matters far more interesting, Stratagem’s other co-owner is the eminently powerful 36th Ward Chicago Alderman Gilbert Villegas, Jr., a man who owes his very political existence to the magnanimity of the legendary Madigan Machine.

Lopez

Baldemar Lopez

Considering the complexities of this scheme, let’s resort to numbered bullet points:

1. In January, Commonwealth Edison Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Fidel Marquez, Jr., approached Stratagem to perform “lobbying” services to the tune of five grand a month. Nothing unusual there, right?

2. Fast forward to spring, and the fed’s investigation uncovered a Com Ed “shadow lobbying” effort by which the electric utility paid a slew of connected contractors and lobbyists to do a whole lot of nothing! Their point was to curry favor with those individuals and call in that clout when it was the expedient thing to do.

3. As the fed’s dragnet expanded exponentially, Marquez, Jr. abruptly “left” Com Ed in October. I’m sure he’d already put in for retirement.

4. Villegas, who isn’t a registered lobbyist, admitted that Stratagem had been hired by Com Ed, but he didn’t know why that was the case, referring all questions to Lopez. So, Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s City Council floor leader had absolutely no clue what was going on in his own consulting firm. I’m sure it happens all the time!

5. Lopez subsequently admitted that Com Ed had paid Stratagem 60 grand “to conduct general state legislative lobbying activities,” but he had great difficulty describing those efforts in any detail. I suppose, out of the goodness of their electrical hearts, Com Ed coulda said, “Hey Baldemar! Here’s 60 grand. Go forth and spread sunshine and lobby on behalf of CPS, the Lincoln Park Zoo, and the homeless.” That’s just the kind of company they are!

6. With the federal noose tightening quite uncomfortably, Com Ed cut Stratagem loose on October 3rd with no explanation whatsoever. Lopez explained “they were doing some restructuring of their lobbying activities.” Oh! Is that what they call burying the bodies now? Good to know!

7. Really? even a bleeping ADHD Larkin remedial freshman student could figure out that Lopez was paid $60,000 to do nothing more than to sit there and look pretty. His defense is he hasn’t been contacted by the feds, but there’s still plenty of time for that.

To make matters so much worse for our intrepid first term councilman, his 2019 campaign donor list looks a lot like a copy of Michael Madigan’s greatest hits:

  • $1,000 from Luis Montgomery, owner of a connected Chicago engineering firm
  • $2,000 from former State Rep Linda Chapa LaVia
  • $1,000 from 65th District Democratic State Rep candidate Richard Johnson
  • $5,000 from the 36th Ward PAC which nothing more than Villegas himself
  • $1,875 from 6 Chicago donors suddenly interested in a little old Elgin City Council race
  • And $2,000 in “consulting” from the illustrious Senator Castro.

In fact, other than Castro, Lopez’s campaign finance records don’t show a single Elgin donor! And I wonder what kind of “consulting” the Senator could’ve possibly provided to a candidate so steeped in the Madigan Machine? Perhaps Lopez was simply sharing the Commonwealth Edison wealth.

If you recall, Castro was so hell-bent on getting Lopez elected that she went out of her way to persistently threaten Elgin Councilman Rose Martinez for refusing to fall in line. And now Castro is on the Illinois Legislative Ethic Commission, which is a lot like putting Saudi Arabia on the UN Women’s Rights Committee.

So, how does it feel to be played Elgin? These people aren’t representing you, they’re representing the interests that got them where they are and nothing more.

 

Friday! We’ll continue this theme as Judge John Daltons horrific custody decisions finally catch up with him.

 

 

Quick Hits – November 18, 2019

A correction!

In my defense, I was in the throes of the latest iteration of the plague when it happened, but that’s not nearly an excuse good enough to mitigate this kind of mistake. To wit, an alert reader noted that Naperville is actually 5 percent black, and not the 18 percent I ascribed in a previous column.

The 18 number actually denotes the percentage of Asians in Naperville, most of Indian descent.

But even though I got it wrong, the point remains the same. When you walk out that Ogden Avenue front door, one out of every four Napervillians you meet on the street ain’t gonna be Caucasian. To put that in perspective, that ratio to one in twenty for Geneva, and one in ten for St. Charles and Batavia.

Considering that vast level of diversity, it still surprises me that the whole Buffalo Wild Wing thing actually occurred there. But I will be a bit more careful with my demographics going forward!

 

Not a correction!

Similarly, a number of readers chimed in with a shift in the same Wild Wings story borne of an employee’s written account acquired by a local newspaper. If you fully believe their version of events, and I certainly wouldn’t take it at face value, the restaurant was acting in anticipation of what the racist couple MIGHT do.

At least one reader thought these revelations made it better for the restaurant, but that clearly isn’t the case.

Wild Wings

According to that worker, the male half of the couple who regularly visited the restaurant sported a Nazi tattoo. Now, I don’t know about you, but if I’m running a business and a “customer” walks in with a visible Nazi, “88,” or Confederate flag tattoo, the first thing I’m gonna do is ask them to leave.

More than a half a million Americans perished defeating the Nazis and Confederates, and it’s a slap in their collective faces to have someone celebrate the regimes that so unceremoniously took their lives. And those beyond bigoted snowflakes need to get over the fact that that kind of evil was soundly defeated and it ain’t comin’ back!

The staffer continued to explain that, if a black server brought this racist couple’s food, they’d send it back, so the staff was simply trying to mitigate a possible confrontation between them and the black party by repeatedly asking the African American group to move.

Say what? If they did manage to get the Nazi tattoo past me, the second they refused to accept food from a server based on their race, sex, sexuality or creed, their asses would be out the front door before their food even made it back to the kitchen. On what planet is any business ever required to offer accommodation to a couple of intolerant bleeps?

But then to ask the black folks to move in deference to these jerks when the jerks made no such request? That’s so much worse than the originally reported story. If Buffalo Wild Wings really wants to prevent racial tension, wouldn’t their best bet to be to eliminate the racists and not their victims?

So, no! This new scenario changes nothing! Wild Wings corporate did the right thing by banning that couple for life and firing all the managers. Andd Naperville still needs to take a long hard look themselves.

 

It’s called witness intimidation!

I’m not going to get into the whole efficacy of the impeachment thing because it’s a battle no journalist could win. But for those Trump supporters who firmly believe it was morally and legally correct for the President to attack former Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch while she was testifying, here’s what I want you to do!

Image result for marie yovanovitch"

Pick any reasonably high-profile Kane County felony trial – there’s one or more going on at any given time. Then I want you to pick a trial witness – they’re public record – and immediately proceed to verbally accost them on Twitter, in the courtroom, via email, or any other method you see fit – it doesn’t really matter.

Meanwhile, those of us who know how to behave in a civilized society will start placing bets on just how quickly Judge Barasanti, Tegeler, Peterson, Karyannis, or Kliment will put your pathetic posterior in the pokey, with some serious state’s attorney charges soon to follow!

In Illinois, witness intimidation is a class 3 felony carrying a two- to ten-year sentence.

Put more simply, the President should be setting the legal standard, not destroying it.

Quick Hits – A Curmudgeon Expounds on Marriage!

Since I’m still recovering from the latest iteration of the plague and writing ain’t comin’ easy, today’s Quick Hits will be supplanted by chapter from my upcoming second book ‘The Curmudgeon’s Guide to Life.”

And you’re in for a real treat because this chapter includes a passage from my favorite female curmudgeon, Sharry Lynn Blazier of Elgin. Enjoy!

 

Love, n. A temporary insanity curable by marriage. – Ambrose Bierce,

“Wait a minute, Mr. Ward! I distinctly recall you saying something about a wife in the last chapter! What self-respecting curmudgeon would ever consider sharing his or her domicile with another human being, and worse yet, what kind of obviously mentally ill woman would ever consider cohabitating with the likes of you?”

You know, it’s real a pain in the ass having such smart-ass readers. Perhaps I’ll go work for Fox News. But I digress!

The first thing you have to understand about curmudgeonliness is that it takes time to fully develop. Sure! The signs are there from an early age, but with so many erstwhile folks trying to fix us, it could take years of therapy to reverse all that damage and finally come into our own.

Curmudgeon Marriage

For example, it was only after writing that first newspaper column at the ripe old age of 44 that I truly started to realize my curmudgeonly potential.

But before we fully develop, we come across as the quiet and unassuming type which some men and women find utterly irresistible. The problem with those marriages, however is, when the curmudgeon’s true colors rear their glorious head, the spouse who didn’t sign on for that level of intensity tends to move on.

But there’s an even more insidious form of mixed marriage in which the husband is almost always the curmudgeon.

Considering our sparkling personalities and infinite capacity to play well with others, it’s hard to believe any woman would want anything to do with us. Ah! But there is a plurality of planetary females who see us as a challenge, and they proceed to administer their feminine wiles in an effort to trap and “fix” us.

Women can be such spiteful creatures.

Lured by the prospect of nuptial delights (and we’re quite adept at it, by the way) and by someone who coyly bats their eyelashes and giggles at our jokes and daily rants, like a hapless moth drawn to a big backyard bug zapper, we inexplicably ignore our finely tuned intuition, abandon our curmudgeonly roots, start believing the whole relationship thing was our idea, and then we become charming enough to seal the deal.

Even I have my moments, but thankfully, they quickly pass.

Once those “I dos” are exchanged, the charade abruptly ends, and things change faster than a hormonal teenage girl’s mind, because it’s at that very moment your brand-new wife starts executing “Operation Transmogrification.”

Oh! It’s subtle at first. She’ll say simple stuff like, “You know, you look really good in that [ridiculous article of clothing],” “You look much better with a goatee than a full beard,” and “Please don’t drink the tequila straight out of the bottle!”

Since we’re still getting regular sex, like a praying mantis oblivious to his impending doom at the hands of his hungry mate, we figure it’s such a small price to pay, we’ll go along with it just to make her happy.

So, we wear the ugly sweater, we shave a little bit more, and we stop drinking tequila out of the bottle – when she’s not around. But then, like the Starship Enterprise carelessly drifting into the grasp of a giant space amoeba, with her trap fully set, it gets worse – much worse.

The first sign of real trouble is your favorite articles of clothing mysteriously disappear. So, what if those jeans had holes in the seat? It took years to break them in. And if you ask me, buying new underwear once a decade is more than reasonable.

Then it’s the event scheduling and vacations. Despite her clearly comprehending curmudgeons hate going anywhere, especially if it involves new and obnoxious people, she’ll say things like, “C’mon! It will be fun,” as she gives that not-so-coy look that means you might get lucky if you just go along with the program.

Of course, it’s never something like a Cubs game or a strip club. Nope! It’s gotta be some sort of silly opera featuring a morbidly obese woman who insists upon caterwauling in a foreign tongue while everyone around her dies a gruesome death.

Apparently, those 18th Century Italians were a real hoot!

And who knew those uppity ushers (and your wife) would get kinda cranky when you rip open that bag of peanuts you snuck in smack dab in the middle of an aria. And who knew you weren’t supposed to spit shells on the floor? C’mon! If it’s good enough for Texas Roadhouse…

Then, irked by the whole peanut thing and the exceptionally loud snoring, she refuses to speak to you the entire way home – which would generally be a good thing – because it can take some time to recover from all that incessant shrieking.

So, you’re feeling pretty good about surviving the whole ordeal until you realize her silence means that sitting through a 4-hour snooze-fest just to get lucky later aint’ gonna work. Then you have to spend the rest of the week apologizing just for being you, which won’t get you very far because she knows you’re not really sorry and you’re not going to change.

And you can’t duck out to escape that dire dynamic because going out with your buddies will only aggravate her further. You see, it’s no fun for women to ignore you if you enjoy the fact you’re being ignored. With nowhere left to turn, you start playing Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall – 25th Anniversary Edition’ over and over again until she stops ignoring you long enough to shout, “turn that s**t down.”

It’s as we slowly twist the volume knob counterclockwise that we suddenly realize the full extent of our horrific mistake. But divorce isn’t an option because then she’d walk away with half of your 33 guitars, your 60 superhero statues, and your comic book collection, which would be a tragedy of epic proportion.

No self-respecting male curmudgeon would ever resort to cheating, either, because the thought of having to cater to the emotional needs of two irrational women is even more terrifying than going to Disney World, Branson, Missouri or, God forbid, sitting through your wife’s book club

So, you attempt to make some strategic compromises, but that falls flat because once you’ve fallen through a black hole’s event horizon, there’s no escape – she won’t be happy until she completely remakes you in her image.

Emboldened by the emerging signs of resignation in your eyes, she starts buying all of your clothes, tells you when to get a haircut, makes you go to movie theatres, forces you to shave your back, insists you get dressed up to go out, and – the icing on the cake – she expects you to be nice to her crazy younger sister.

Finally, after years of heaping on this horrific abuse, one of two things will happen.

The first is, the curmudgeon re-bursts forth in all his righteous glory to reclaim his rightful legacy. He makes it abundantly clear that things are gonna be different from now on as he rips off the absurd sweater, puts on the pair of ratty old pair of underwear he hid in the toolbox in the basement , and grabs the pasta server to finally get relief from the incoming back hair.

Faced with the dismal failure of Operation Transmogrification, the wife typically bursts into tears and runs to her mother’s to explain exactly what a scurrilous cad you’ve been as if she’s the one who had to endure all that unspeakable torture.

And just like the shampoo bottle says, rinse, lather and repeat until the messy divorce is on.

But it’s the second possibility that’s the truly tragic one. Worn down by years of unrepentant harassment, the curmudgeon finally capitulates and becomes exactly the man his “loving spouse” always dreamed he’d be.

But then a funny thing happens! Utterly unhappy with her handiwork, she gets more and more dissatisfied with every “yes dear,” and then she meets a new guy at church (curmudgeons don’t go to church) who requires even more repair work. Enamored of the possibility of converting yet another victim, she starts having an affair and eventually leaves you for the new guy, who ends up treating her like crap.

The truly tragic thing is, once a curmudgeon completely capitulates, like a honeybee that just stung an interloper, there’s no going back. It’s a slow slide into oblivion as the former curmudgeon fervently prays for a quick death.

Either way, marriage almost always ends badly for the curmudgeon. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a curmudgeon to curmudgeon marriage, but I’m convinced that kind of thing could only lead to a double homicide or a civilization ending epic conflagration.

So, while it’s too late for me, there’s still time for my single male curmudgeonly compatriots to save themselves. No good can come from marriage in general, and that’s especially true if a curmudgeon is involved.

“But Jeff! If married life is so miserable, why do single men have shorter lifespans?” That’s because all animals live longer in captivity. And if you’ve ever been to a bachelor’s funeral, you will quickly observe that the corpse is always smiling.

Ah! But there is a kind of curmudgeon marriage that can work. If a non-curmudgeon male runs into a female curmudgeon, like stalking the elusive North American wilderness elk, if he can behave just long enough to con her into thinking he doesn’t completely suck, he won’t be disappointed.

To wit, this is my eminently curmudgeonly feminine friend Sharry Blazier’s response to this particular chapter:

“Having never been married, I feel unqualified to critique this. But, a cherished aspect of my curmudgeonliness is my certainty that I definitely would not, could not, have been a wife like those described. I wouldn’t care what he wore. I don’t wanna go to Branson, but wherever I wanted to go, I wouldn’t drag someone uninterested. I like Pink Floyd. I’d have viewed marriage, most especially to a fellow curmudgeon, as a shared shelter from all those annoying … PEOPLE out there. I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have killed each other. But you may be right. In which case, just one more thing to feel curmudgeonly about. Marriage, bah humbug.

They’re low maintenance, they refuse to play the “if you don’t know why I’m unhappy then I’m not going to tell you” game, they don’t like to go to silly places, they don’t like sappy chick flicks, they like sports (not fake s**t  like golf, figure skating, or synchronized swimming), and they tend to drink semi-heavily and become quite funny and entertaining as a result. 

What’s not to like?

Quick Hits – Wheaton College and the sin of pride!

Why is it those institutions who exist solely to champion and promote a societal standard, somehow believe it means that it doesn’t apply to them? It reminds me of the ‘Cheers’ episode when, after Carla learned her son was going to be a priest, she immediately embarked upon taking advantage of what she called, a “get out of hell free card.”

Of course, when her son changed his mind, she suddenly tried to make amends for the all the havoc she’d unceremoniously wreaked.

Though this dynamic does seem to be a basic fact of human nature, I want to be clear that the stone I’m about to cast isn’t nearly aimed at every glass house. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of available targets either.

The best examples of this paradoxical phenomenon are the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Catholic Church, the Geneva, Illinois, Police, the National Republican Party, social justice warriors, and my all-time favorite, the eminently sanctimonious Wheaton College!

Wheaton College

They’re the institution that ardently believes the rest of us should blindly adhere to their version of “Christianity” while they tried to protect their ranked football team from a hazing scandal resulting in multiple felony charges; they were ranked the country’s least tolerant university towards gays and lesbians; and they “fired” a black professor who donned a hijab in solidarity with Muslims because “they are people of the book.”

Put much more simply, that Wheaton College administration is just another fun-loving bunch of pseudo-Christian hypocrites.

And since they generally ascribe to a Pharisee at the Temple kinda theology, Wheaton is back in the news again! This time, four students are suing the City of Chicago for banning their proselytizing practices in Millennium Park, particularly in the area surrounding the ‘Cloud Gate,’ more colloquially known as ‘The Bean.’

Clearly comprehending the inevitable chaos that would ensue if the park became an unchecked forum for all manner of evangelists, political zealots, and anyone with beef, a Chicago ordinance prohibits any kind of solicitation in the park.

But as is par for the course in ‘The City that Rarely Works,’ the enforcement of that edict has ranged from capricious, to downright illegal. At one point, our quartet was moved to another area of the park, only to be told they couldn’t “preach” there, either. Then a couple of security supervisors told them the adjacent sidewalk was also out of bounds, which actually is a First Amendment violation.

The lawsuit is being argued as we speak, and that kind of statutory fumbling certainly ain’t gonna help the Second City’s cause.

Nonetheless, I fervently believe Chicago will prevail on the grounds that we limit speech, and particularly religious speech, all the time. Sikhs can’t bring their daggers onto airplanes. Muslims can’t wear face coverings in driver’s license photos, public school teachers can’t lead a morning prayer, the government cannot install a religious symbol on public ground, and so forth and so on.

Furthermore, what Wheaton College chooses to fail to understand is, “religious freedom” also means freedom from religion. I have an absolute right to stare into the Cloud Gate free from being harassed by a shouting 20-something zealot who has no clue about what life or theology really means. More simply put, your right to foist your religious beliefs on me ends at the tip of my nose, and at the lobe of my ear.

If those students wanted to simply stand and offer literature to people, go for it!  But no! What fun would it be if you aren’t allowed to self-righteously bash non-believers over the head with a set of tenets that don’t apply to them?

And if Wheaton College is so sincere about this evangelical effort, why not send students to preach on O’Hare flights, during Blackhawks games, and at the next showing of ‘Harriet?’ Free speech is free speech, right?

But they don’t send them those places because it wouldn’t end well for them on any number of levels – especially at the Madhouse on Madison. I’m guessing some fans would come up with a rather new and innovative application for a hockey puck.

In the end, and at it’s most basic level, it’s called having some consideration for your fellow human beings.

Though Wheaton College is always one of the worst, they’re not nearly the only ones who engage in this kind of blatant bullying. There’s a regular sport in my neighborhood by  which the Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses insist on ignoring our rather detailed no soliciting sign.

And when I point to the plaque and ask them to leave, they instantly start acting like a four-year-old who didn’t get his cookie. That’s when I pull the cell phone out of my back pocket, dial 911 right in front of them, and then the police come out and tell them they’re done in Geneva for the day.

With the exception of my immediate family, friends, and clients (and sometimes I even wonder about them), access to my presence is a privilege and not a right! And for self-professed “Christians” to believe they’re entitled to it shows they don’t even begin to understand what Jesus was all about.

But that’s not nearly the worst of this fencepost-over-the-head proselytizing. That would be the vast arrogance borne of the sin of pride, and the last time I looked, “pride” was one of the Seven Lethal Shortcomings

Please consider the hubris it must take for someone who doesn’t even know you to assume their religion is somehow superior to yours! I don’t need to be saved. If I need your help finding my way, I’ll be the first one to ask. And you have absolutely no right to interrupt my day in a park or at my front door. If you want to leave something at my door, or perhaps even have a theological conversation (and you’re willing to listen), I might just be up for it, but that’s about it.

But if you don’t begin to understand what being a Christian means, you can’t explain why you’re “open air preaching” other than an adult told you to, and you have no appreciation for me other than that of a deer in a hunter’s scope, not only are you not gonna get very far, but if you can’t figure that out on your own, you should be prohibited from doing so.

Because if Chicago provided that kind of green light, Millennium Park would be overrun with overzealous advocates to the point where it’s entire recreational purpose would be utterly defeated. So, I’m certainly rooting for them on this one.

And just out of curiosity, whatever happened to “They’ll know we are Christians by our love?”