🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
Kentucky Fried Idiot 🍗
Johnny Boy Marketing✏️
There’s a scene in the 1979 film Rocky II in which the titular character (sorry, I’ve always wanted to write that …) is tasked by his trainer Mickey with chasing a chicken.
Rocky was pummeled into oblivion — though somehow managed to eek out a draw (because sequel) in his first fight against world heavyweight champion Apollo Creed — because he was a slow, lumbering, uncoordinated oaf. The grizzled veteran trainer brings a chicken into the training mix to help generate more speed in his fighter because, as Mick says, “If you can catch this thing, you can catch greased lightning.”
Rocky tries and tries and tries to catch the chicken. No luck.
“I feel like a Kentucky Fried idiot,” he mumbles.
I thought of this scene yesterday as the sun faded into the horizon a mile outside my humble rural Missourah home and hour No. 1 faded into hour No. 2 of trying to get eight chickens into their coop.
As regular Puzzle readers might recall, Wifey Poo arranged with a friend who is mother of a friend of Boy The Younger to take care of their chickens while they are on vacation. Wifey Poo then promptly took the boys and left the state — and the chickens to me.
I know nothing of chickens other than how to use their parts in a variety of recipes. But I was game to try to keep these boogers alive until Wifey Poo and Boys The Elder and Younger return (this evening, thank God).
One thing has become perfectly clear in my first 12 hours of chicken-sitting: I am never … never ever … going to catch greased lightning.
When I pulled into the driveway of the chicken-owner’s home, I was encouraged. There were four or five chickens standing just outside the tree line.
“Surely,” thought I, “They will come running when I do the whole bang-on-their-food-bucket thing Holly (chicken mama) showed me to do.”
I got out of my car, checked the empty coop for eggs (none), made sure all the younger chickens were still in their locked-up section of the coop (all present and accounted for) and then got the food bucket.
Bang, Bang, Bang.
Let’s just say I didn’t get the response I’d anticipated.
One — one — chicken lifted its head from its whole “pecking-the-ground” routine and looked at me absentmindedly. The other seven? Well, they must have hearing problems.
Bang, Bang, BANG!
This time, a different chicken was the lone one to acknowledge my Grade A chicken call. The other seven kept being chickens.
“Well shit,” thought I, realizing the well of methods I had inside me to encourage chickens to get into their coop was extremely shallow.
Maybe more repetitive banging would help?
Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang, Bang BANG!
Now I had these bastards’ attention. All of a sudden, eight chickens started toward me … first casually, then like a scene out of Jurassic World.
First, let me tell you that chickens are surprisingly fast runners. Second, let me tell you that chickens also are incredibly stupid. I rounded the corner and opened the coop door, expecting the rapidly running birds to follow me and come on in.
Wondering where the stampede had stopped, I peeked my head around the corner. There, the chickens stood pecking at the ground, stopped exactly where they were when I’d left their sight. It was as if, absent the visual reminder that they were headed somewhere, they’d just forgotten they were running and resumed doing chicken things in the new location.
In the next half-hour, I was able to wrangle exactly one chicken into the coop. I named her Gertrude. We have an understanding. I love Gertrude and wish great things for her future.
The other seven chickens? They couldn’t care less that I had resumed banging on the food bucket, and they sure as hell didn’t respond to my whistling or other whoops and yips that worked on my dog and on a cattle drive I went on a decade ago with Father.
An hour in, I thought of Rocky. I thought of how he eventually caught the chicken. But that was after a boss training montage, and I didn’t have time before dark (and the emergence of a crapton of chicken-eating predators) to train or produce the video montage.
A quarter hour after that, seven chickens were in the coop, including one monster rooster I named Billy. I name things. It’s what I do.
One chicken remained.
I hate that chicken. I hate that chicken with the heat of a thousand suns. I wish an incredibly painful death on this chicken, and it wasn’t lost on me that I could probably accomplish that by simply getting in my car and heading home. Coyotes, foxes, Moma the Bigfoot — all of them would love some chicken wings, I was sure.
Yet there in the back of my mind was Wifey Poo and BTY, all sad-looking because their friends now hated them. Or, worse, all sad-looking because their friends starved to death when they didn’t have enough chicken to make it through the winter.
So I waited.
By this time, Stupid Chicken (officially Christened as such) was hiding under the deck.
Folks, there is absolutely no way to get a chicken who wants to hide under the deck out from under said deck. None. Zero. Absolutely no possible way.
So I went home. I got a beverage. I considered bringing Luna Athena Agliata The English Bulldog to serve as a shepherd dog, but she was sleeping lazily on her spot on the floor with her tongue lolling out of her mouth like the doofus she is.
She would be no help.
When I returned to the outpost, Stupid Chicken had come out from under the deck and had resumed her carefree pecking of the ground.
All thoughts of passivity had left my mind. No longer was I going to gently encourage this chicken to get into the coop. No… I was going to charge this chicken and herd her into the coop or punt-kick her in the head while trying.
Funny thing. I noticed at that point that there was a security camera mounted on the house. I imagined Holly and family gathered around a computer on vacation, watching as the idiot husband/dad of their friend proceeded to chase a fleeing, obstinate chicken in circles around the coop and garage.
One time — one time — this chicken fled right toward the coop. But, not wanting to let out the seven chickens I had managed to get into the coop, I’d closed the door. Stupid Chicken ran smack into the mesh, bounced off, then fled toward the woods.
I had first arrived at the outpost at 6:07 p.m. I know this because I looked. It was now 7:57. I would make one. more. try.
I’d like to tell you I took off after Stupid Chicken with reckless determination. I’d like to tell you I cornered Stupid Chicken and bravely grabbed it. I’d like to tell you I then lovingly placed it in the coop.
None of that happened.
What did happen is that I chased the chicken in circles for another 10 minutes and then decided to take a chance. I cracked open the door, threatened the seven other chickens (and put Gertrude in charge of keeping her friends stationary) and then took off after Stupid Chicken again.
On the third lap — third. freaking. lap. — it became apparent Stupid Chicken was bored.
And so when I made one last-ditch sprint, Stupid Chicken casually waddled into the coop, turned around, and flipped me the bird as I locked the door.
I hate chickens. I hate chickens with a fiery hatred typically reserved for Donald Trump.
Yet I was there at 6:30 a.m. this morning, opening the door to let these jerks out again, getting them some food, gleefully stealing their would-be babies for Breakfast For Dinner Night tonight.
I will make another attempt at this chicken wrangling thing tonight. I’ll be better. I’ll get it done.
And I’m bringing my shotgun with me.
I’ve got a lot of big stuff going on in my life. I’ve accepted a new job, which I’ll start June 27. I’ve also ramped up my side gig, officially calling it Johnny Boy Marketing and bringing some structure to it as I prepare to formalize it into an LLC. Wifey Poo now has a different title — Vice President of Operations. I like calling her Veep. It’s cute.
She’s great at that math stuff and is equally great at keeping me accountable to not blow company funds on whatever the latest piece of cool technology is that catches my attention.
I’m open for business. It’s a hobby that brings in revenue. I’m having fun. If you need anything marketing-related — social media management, flyers, videos, articles, press releases, website builds, whatever, Johnny Boy Marketing is where it’s at. Follow us on Facebook, yo!
Boy The Younger is a pretty amazing kid. I say this not because he carries my DNA. I say this because the kid can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 23 seconds. That’s his new record, down from about 40 seconds over the past few months.
I don’t know how he does it. When I ask him, he casually tells me, “algorithms,” which I suppose is true. Algorithms govern the world these days, so they might as well be the key to unlocking the solution to that damn thing that I spent hours working on in the 1980s trying to just get two sides.
I spent yesterday out of the house because getting out of the house ensures I don’t go crazy like Jack from The Shining.
The first part of the day was spent at Alpha & Omega Roasting and Coffee Shop in O’Fallon, Missourah. Then I traveled down to Chesterfield to work from LIT Cigar Lounge. The latter sounded like a Somali town in which U.S. “Intelligence” thinks a militant is hiding right before a bomb blows up a school filled with children. There’s an airshow in Chesterfield this weekend. It’s cool watching those jets do their thang.
In Other Writing …
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poultry Responsibilities 🐔Fine Dining🥩Crappy Year For Music🎵 I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a marketing guy, a storyteller, a jokester, a damn good parallel parker and a guy who played on a basketball team that lost 135-3. What I am not is a farmer. I left my…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- I will outlive Stupid Chicken
- The rest of the Core Four returns home tonight.
- Breakfast For Dinner with fresh eggs.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hydrogen Issue 🚀Karting 🏎️Lake Life 😌 I was all excited to watch the launch of the moon-bound Artemis 1 rocket this morning, only to see the clock stopped at T-minus 40 minutes because of a “hydrogen issue.” Don’t know about you, but I’m thinking having an issue with hydrogen is a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Karen in Control ⌚Karting 🏎️What podcast? 🎧 In the winter of 1993, I went to a comedy club with a friend and, in the spur of the moment, decided to be one of those who came forward to join the fun and be hypnotized. This was decidedly out of character for…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Little League Flap ⚾Grandpa Joe 🤦Psychedelics 🍄 Boys are interesting creatures who aren’t easily understood. One of the many, many weird things boys do is mercilessly make fun of their best friends. My closest friends in middle school and early in high school were affectionately nicknamed Goon, Tree Frog, Butt and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩 Death Cometh Sooner 💀Twitter Security 🔓Game Over 🌑 Average life expectancy in the United States dropped in 2020 by almost two years in 2020, the biggest decline since World War II. Every state and the District of Columbia saw a drop. Guess it was a little bit more than that…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Worm brain 🧠Chicken Big Mac 🐔Eye Twitch 👁️ Caenorhabditis elegans is probably too elegant of a name for something that is really just a disgusting little worm about a millimeter long and most easily found in rotting fruit. It is more commonly known as a lab roundworm and was the first…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Agliata Homeschool Academy 🚌Hypnosis 😳Sunburn 🌞🔥 When you tell people you homeschool your children, you typically receive one of three responses: An enthusiastic: “Oh, that’s so cool!” An I’d-rather-be-dipped-in-acid: “Oh wow! I could never do that!” A you’re-one-of-those-weirdos: “Oh… really… homeschooling, huh?” The percentage for each has changed in the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩So Long, Kid 👨👦Steak Celebration🥩Chip & Joanna 🪚 Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic. So it should come as no surprise when I say…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cash 4 IRS 💰Cash 4 Workers 💸Sound of Silence 🤫 Be extra careful on your taxes this year. The IRS is expected to receive nearly $80 billion when The Inflation Reduction Act eventually becomes law, and its plan is to hire 87,000 full-time workers. More than half of the $80 billion…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Spoon Nose 🥄👃🏻Dump Truck 🚚Twitter Traitor 🐦 Every night, I strap a mask attached to a long hose to my face so I don’t die. Not satisfied with looking kinda like an idiot, I then wrap a flexible Velco-enabled strap around my chin and fasten it on top of my bald…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Thanks, Yankees ⚾Kitchen Moment 👩🍳McDonald’s Glasses 🥛 Wifey Poo and I were recent college graduates and months away from becoming Married Folk when our relationship nearly faced its greatest test. The New York Yankees were rolling toward their first World Series appearance since I played with Matchbox Cars, and the St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mammoth Dilemma🦣Zombie Pigs🧟🐖Stadium Pals⚾ Finding the fossilized remains of a Wooly Mammoth in New Mexico isn’t exactly news. It seems the furry elephants loved to hang out in the land so frequently visited by aliens. What is news is the condition of the fossils from the latest find. Some of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ankle Shot 🦶🏻Teamwork 🤝🏽Talkspace Stupidity 🤪 Over the years, I’ve played catch with Boy The Younger dozens and dozens of times. From those early days of him aimlessly flinging an oversized soft thing a few feet forward, to now when he’s zipping a real baseball the regulation distance from a pitching…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Creative Desert 🎨So Long, Supra 🏎️Taco Truck 🌮 I have absolutely nothing today. On most days — even the really, really bad days — I can push out something creatively worthwhile. A blog post. A flyer. A video. Not today. Today I have jack shit. This is professionally problematic, considering my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hungry=Stupid 😋Strategic Planning 📅Bed Sizes 🛏️ Hunger is a strong motivator. This, most of us know. Yet I witnessed this truth at a whole new level this weekend. Wifey Poo and I traveled up to Hannibal, Missourah, for a few days. Hannibal, for you uncultured folks, is the hometown of Mark…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Change 🌀Me, Different 😷Bad Baseball ⚾ I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Most everything in humanity is governed by two intertwined forces. Supply and demand. Scarcity. Whether its the economy or human emotions, everything about us is geared toward responding to these two things. For example, when there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double Standards 🦅Birthday Deals 🎁Video Guy 📹 The United States has a problem with hypocrisy. Don’t worry, though; it’s nothing new. It just happens to be glaringly apparent right now. Our revered Founding Fathers got things off on a really bad foot when they penned the lofty statement that all men…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Revolution 🌍Rain 🌧️Refund 💰 By this time tomorrow, I will have completed 48 trips around the sun. Or is it 47 and I’ll be starting my 48th? Whatever. I’ll be 48 years old tomorrow. I have to admit, I’m feeling kinda blah about it. Looking back, this past revolution was busy…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bitchy Mother Nature 🌧️⚡Tech Woes 🖥️Maturation 👦 Overnight storms made for a restless night, as waves of rain and thunder rolled through our section of Missourah. Flash flood warnings pinged my phone sometime in the middle of the night, and by the time I left for my drive to work, eastbound…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rollercoasters 🎢Sad Puppy 🐶News Roundup 🤖 It’s possible to think a lot of thoughts while plummeting 90 feet at a 90-degree angle while staring up at the sun. This I learned yesterday while at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missourah, with the Core Four, Div, Wifey Poo’s baby sister and baby…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Date Day 🤟🏽Prison Justice 👊Universe Questions 🚀 Wifey Poo and I ended up having more than 12 hours to ourselves yesterday here in the Midwest Redneck Mecca of Branson, Missourah. Boys The Elder and Younger, along with BTE’s lovely girlfriend of nearly three years, and Wifey Poo’s baby sister and family…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩WFH WTF? 🧑💼Rebel Ball ⚾Psych Myth 🧠 As a writer/columnist/blogger/thought-spewer, I always enjoy when I get something out there before anyone else. I dug that when I was a newspaper journalist, and I dig it now. That’s why I’m happy to be hearing national publications and sites like Business Insider starting…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fahrenheit 🌡️Blindingly White ⬜Alone Time 👴 Muricah is very much a reactionary nation. Much of what we do and who we are is because we were pissed off about the way someone else did things. Monarchy? We’ll have a democracy, thank you very much. The metric system? We’ll measure stuff our…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tryouts ⚾BBQ Sauce🍖TMNT🐢 There is cause for celebration in the Core Four: Boy The Younger has been drafted. Sadly, we’re not talking about the ongoing Major League Baseball draft. Rather, we’re talking about the sick modern world of Little League baseball. Not to get too “Get off my lawn!” on you,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Growth 💗Dreams 💤Redecorating 🛋️ There are moments in a dad’s life in which he can see the growth of his sons quite clearly. Sometimes that growth is physical. One day, Boy The Elder was a short, stocky little boy and then, boom, he came home from his high school job at…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Burn Pit🔥Alaska Ass🍑Nose Hair🐽 Having a plan is a far different thing from having a plan work out. I’m really good at the former, yet the latter seems to be extremely elusive. Yesterday, my plan was to take the huge pile of chopped-down cedar-tree limbs that have been in my backyard…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Jewel💎First Kiss💋Slow Ahead🐢 Wifey Poo and I are headed out into the sweltering hell that is Missourah this evening to see the woman who, should she knock on my door and say “let’s go,” I am fully empowered to join in the next part of life’s journey. I jest. Sort of.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Parenthood 🚓Alexa 📋Quick-Hitters 👋 Just about every statistic imaginable tells us we shouldn’t have kids — at least, not if we’re concerned about our own happiness, mental health, marriage, career, finances, time or ability to buy a really boss car instead of a freaking minivan. Yet here we are, still a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Lawrence Pfaff Sr. Sucks 🚓Engagement Talk 🌯Quick-Hitters 👋 From what I know of Lawrence H. Pfaff Sr. of Belmont, NY, he was kind of a douche. The 81-year-old man died on June 27. I never met him. Never even heard of him. Until I read his obit. And about that obit?…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Travelling Companion🚓Free Beans 🌯Unfollowed 👋 Brandy Bottone is either stupid or brilliant. Whichever it is, she’s also right. The Texas woman was traveling in the HOV lane — which, for the country folk out there, stands for High Occupancy Vehicle and is reserved for cars with two or more people to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Slots 🎰Dude Perfect ⚽Bye Bye Facebook? 👋 My mother-in-law (AKA The Judester) is nearly 81 years old and has knee problems that keep her from getting around too well these days. Watching her stand up from a chair is to feel pain yourself. Yet when I walked into the Ameristar casino…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Reflections on Grandma 👵Kids & Death 👨👦👦Don’t Say It 🤫 My grandma died yesterday, four days shy of her 96th birthday. As it goes with people at that age, it wasn’t a surprise. She had been fading for more than a year and, though she still was breathing, that version of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sleepwalking 🧨DnD Gang 🎲Gas Idiots 🛢️ If there were a day-by-day measure of the collective output of workers in these here United States of Amuricah (and for all I know, there is), I would venture to guess that July 5 ain’t our most productive day. I base this on my observations…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid Parade 🧨Math Matters ➗What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Not being a hugely patriotic person at this point in my life, I made no plans to go to any Fourth of July parade this year. It seems mighty foolish to be celebrating freedoms that are eroding right before our eyes, though I…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone Time, Girl Time 👩👧Picture Hanger🔨What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Wifey Poo and I found ourselves in an interesting position at home today for a little bit: Alone. Boy The Elder took off for Six Flags with his buds, and Boy The Younger left with a friend and his family (Chicken Owner,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oil Change 👨🔧Goose Lover🛦Church & State⛪ Based on my history, the last place anyone should ever look for me is underneath a car. Yet that’s where I found myself late this morning, side-by-side with Boy The Elder as he showed me exactly how stupid I’ve been all my life. I’m not…Keep reading