Black Friday: The Fun Room Revealed

“Oh my what? Let me see,” said Yo as he rolled in to the Fun Room.

“Wow, what a fun room,” said Yo.

“Hence the name ,” said Larry.

“Vow, that looks like quite a lot of fun,” smirked Jan peeking around the corner.

Sprawled before them lay a large room bounded by several chests of toys. At the center was a large, plush and inviting area rug. The wall at the far end was made up entirely of uniformly spaced book shelves. The uniformity was broken up by the center shelf which framed a large television.

“If Xena is here she may not want to leave,” said Yo.

“You think so?,” asked Larry.

“You think she would leave this room-o-fun to come to back to the Big Box. What do we have to offer,” asked Yo.

“Well, I’m part of the package,” replied a forlorn Larry.

It’s tough to tell when a box is forlorn but his corners were droopy and his cardboard top was a bit damp.

From out of the darkness the gang heard a sleepy voice mumble “Hey, could you newbies find a place to crash so I can get back to sleep.”

“Xena?,” exclaimed Larry.

Shining the bat utility light in the direction of the voice, Larry found himself looking at gleaming black box on a shelf below the big TV.

“Is that you Larry?”

“Yes, it’s me Xena but I don’t recognize you. If it wasn’t for the sweet voice of yours I wouldn’t know who I was talking to.”

“That’s right you’ve never seen me outside of a box.”

“Well, we’re here to rescue you from , um, what is this place?”

“It’s a homeless shelter for families Larry. Families stay here while we help them get back on their feet.”

“Oh. Sounds like a good place.”

“Oh it is.”

“So, you wouldn’t want to come back to the Big Box with me, or us ?”

“Which is it Larry? You, or us?”

“Well, I miss you, so me. They want you back also, so us too.”

“Larry, I’ve missed you and I’ve missed the rest of the gang too but I finally feel that I have a purpose here. The kids need me. I bring joy to them and I think they really need some of that in their lives right now.”

“Oh. Yea that sounds much more important than anything at the Big Box,” said Larry as his drooping corners became more noticeable.“

“Don’t be sad Larry. I have an idea. Why don’t you and the rest of the gang just stay here.”

“Is that possible?”

“Of course Larry. All kinds of things are always getting donated here, clothes , books and obviously toys. No one will be upset if more toys suddenly just show up.”

“Well, I would like to free my inner lego set and bring joy to some kids. This 10,000 piece puzzle box disguise is harshing my mellow,” said Larry as he
looked at Yo and winked.”

“Yea, I see what you did their said Yo.”

“What do think guys,” asked Larry.

“Well, I guess I can put up with tossing my string more often if I can bring some smiles to some kids,” said a smiling Yo.

“Why not my fine chums,” said Batman. ” The Batmobile needs a charge anyway.”

In unison they all nodded their heads and said yes.

Stosh was a little too vigorous in his head shaking but with a click Jan had his head popped back into place.

“Well it settled then,” stated Xena.

“Wait a minute,” said a new voice. “No one asked me.”

“Is that you Robin my fine feathered chum,” asked Batman.

“Holy short term memory loss, of course it is Batman.”

“Well is it ok with you chum?”

“Of course I can’t stay mad at you.”

“Well, I am glad that’s settled,” said Xena. ” Larry, when we get some alone time we should talk. I think we both have some unsaid things to be said.”

“Oh, yes I suppose we do.”

“Where has our coiled friend gone to,” asked Batman.

Yo rolled to the doorway, “He’s stuck to the carpet again. I think he’s going to need all of us with hands this time.”

Larry shrugged his corners and smiled, ”I guess that leaves me out.”
He shuffled over to Xena. “So, lets talk shall we.”

Xena looked down and smiled. “Yes, I would like that.”

Black Friday: Inside The Fun Room

Larry hit the ground , let go of the rope and waited for Yo and the rest of the gang to climb down.

“What do suppose this place is Batman?”

“Well my boxlike friend it looks like a large house.”

“Yea, I , uh , figured that but I was hoping with your crime-fighting skills you might be able to come up with an idea of where to look for Xena.”

“Um, yea I got nothing.”

“Thanks oh winged one.”

“Hey guys, what’s the plan,” asked Yo and he rolled up with Jan and Stosh behind him.

“Well Batman and I were just wondering where you would keep an xbox disguised as a pong box in this place?”

“Vell, I have an idea,” stated Stosh.

“Don’t hold us in suspense big guy,” replied Yo.”

“How about that room over there, the von vith the sign that reads “Fun Room”.”

“I was just about to suggest that my rivet jointed friend,” said Batman.

“Vas that a crack,” asked Stosh.

“No, Batman doesn’t have a sense of humor,” replied Larry.”

“Well, Stosh’s head is on straight right now so I say lets check out the Fun Room,” added Yo.

The gang quietly creeped ahead, well all but Larry, he kind of clunked along, a box is not quite stealthy.

After unhooking Steve from the carpet several times they finally reached the fun room.”

“Well, Who’s going first,” asked Yo looking pointedly at Larry.

“My heart dragged my hear I guess it should leads us on,” said Larry.

“Your such a romantic. I think I’m going to be sick,” said Yo.

“Vertigo acting up Yo,” asked Larry.

“No , i’m allergic to sap.”

Larry peaked into the room and with a light from Batman’s utility belt illuminated the room.

“Oh My”

What has the gang discovered ?

What has become of Xena?

What will become of Steve?

Does the Batmobile run on batteries? Please can someone answer that question?

Black Friday: Up on The Housetop the Band is All Here

Up on the housetop Batman claws, out jumps good ol’ Yo Yo Claus

Down through the skylight with lots of poise
All to rescue Xena, Christmas Joy.
Ho ho ho, who wouldn’t go,
Ho ho ho, who wouldn’t go-o

Up on the housetop, don’t you Tarry
Down through the skylight with Lego Larry
Next comes the slinky, well call it Steve                                                            Don’t get attached He might just Leave
Ho ho ho, who wouldn’t go,
Ho ho ho, who wouldn’t go-o

Here Come the Robots, click click clack
Hey Im not a poet, just a writing hack
Down through the skylight here they drop
They’re just some toys don’t call a cop
Ho ho ho, who wouldn’t go,
Ho ho ho, who wouldn’t go-o

Down on the first floor with all the band
They’re here for Xena and to giver her a hand.
But just you wait she doesn’t want to go
Were missing the point, were not in the know.
Ho ho ho, she wouldn’t go,
Ho ho ho, she wouldn’t go-o
On to the next chapter to fill in the gap
Oh me oh my was it just a trap?


On a side note: We did our white elephant last night.

Black Friday: The House On The Hill

“Yo, Have you heard anything from Alfred?

“Well, his daughter just graduated from school and was accepted to Action Figure Law School.”

“That’s not exactly what I meant. Has he found Xena?”

“Yes and No”

“Hmm, that question usually results in a a Yes or No answer. Perhaps I am confused on the concept of finding someone.”

“He has located the building that she is being held in,” replied Yo.

“Great. I sense a but that you’re not sitting on though, out with it.”

“Well, you know that big house on Loman’s Hill.”

“The one that creaks in the wind and always seems to be bathed in darkness?”

“Yes, that’’s where Alfred has tracked her down to .”


“We know nothing regarding the who, what or why of the building.”

“So the bottom line is that we don’t know what were getting into. Does that about sum it up?”

“You are correct Larry.”

“And that is different from our usual exploits how?”

“Um, well, um…..I sense that we have now come to the point that you are trying to make.”

“You are correct Yo. We have visited this kind of chapter several times in our life stories and what do we usually do?”

“We buck up and blindly charge into the abyss?”

“That’s an interesting way to put it Yo but yes that is what we usually do. Gather up the gang Yo. We need to strategize.”

“What about the blind charging part?”

“Hey I am all for the bucking up and charging but I would like to like to avoid stumbling over the furniture on the way to the abyss.”

“Fair enough.”

So on that fateful evening in December Larry stood before Yo, Batman, The Polish Boxing Twins , Major Mat Mason and Steve.”

“Who’s the Slinky asked Yo”

“Thats Steve replied Larry. He’s kind of like a red shirted Star Trek crewman.”

“Oh, please don’t tell me that,” replied Yo.

“Ok I won’t,” replied Larry before turning to address  the crew.

“People” announced Larry.

“Our goal tonight is to rescue Xena. We don’t know what danger lies ahead and what will become of us,” said Larry trying not to look at Steve.

“But I have confidence in each and every one of you. We will be taking both the BatMobile and the Major’s Moon Rover to the dark house on Loman’s hill. Jan and Stosh can only remove their heads so many times before it starts to cause permanent damage. Batman, using his various bat thingies on his utility belt will pave a way to the roof for the rest of us to follow. From there we will drop in to the fortress from the skylight. Once in we will spread out and locate Xena.”

“Then what,” asked Steve.

“Well, then we do what we always do, replied Larry ”

“We wing it?” asked the Major..

“Thats right, we wing it,” replied Larry. “To the BatMobile gang!”

“…and the MoonRover?, asked Yo.

“Yea, but I was going for a dramatic segue-way.

“Oh. To the Dark House On The Hill!”

Black Friday: The Band Comes Together

So Yo, What is the plan?


“For getting the Band back together.”

“Oh, yea sorry the vertigo was kicking in.”

“Too much of the up and down again?”

“Yea, but I’m ok.”

“So whats our move .”

“Well, Ive taken inventory and we still have the Major and Batman.”

“Man we’re crossing toy companies again, we’re begging for trouble.”

“We’ll worry about that later. The key thing is that, between those two , we’ll have 
 transportation and intel.”

“Oh yea, the rover and that bat vehicle thingy.”

“You mean the Bat Mobile. We won’t tell Batman you called it a thingy.”

“So by intel I take it you mean information. Where are we getting that from?”

“Batman is still in touch with that Alfred dude .”

“Alfred still has that computer in his cave?”

“Well, not exactly. He  retired and traded in the computer and the cave for a smart phone and a condo  in Florida. The phone  is way more powerful than that old computer.”

“Sounds about right. So do we know where to find Xena?”

“No, Alfreds working on it .  We’ll need some muscle so we’ll have to rescue the Polish Boxing twins.”

“Jan and Stosh need rescuing? From what?”

“The WAFL.”

“Their trapped in a waffle?”

“Um, No. the World Action Figure League, they got tricked into a lifetime contract.”

“How do we break that?”

“I have a cousin who’s a lawyer-action-figure. If its written down and there are no 
 pictures involved he can get you out of it. He has pull with some judges and got us 
 a temporary restraining order against the WAFL. We just have to deliver it. “

“Lawyer action figure? What kind of action can they be involved in.”
“Oh filing lawsuits and vacationing in the Hamptons counts as action for some kids.”

“Not any kids I want to play with.”

“Jan and Stosh have a fight at the arena tonight and I gave Batman a heads up. To the Bat-Mobile Larry. I always wanted to say that.”

So for the second time in that day, Yo came down with vertigo. Dropping from the rafters in an action figure boxing ring can do that to a Yo-Yo.

It was worth it, thought Yo, as he , Larrry, Stosh, Jan and Batman sped back to the Big Box via the Bat Mobile. The Band was slowly coming together.

Yes, it  was a bit crowded in the the Bat Mobile but fortunately Jan and Stosh can remove their heads.

Will Yo and Larry be able to emancipate Jan and Stosh  from WAFL?

Can Alfred and his smart phone find Xena in time for him to make the next blue plate special.

Does the Bat Mobile run on batteries?

All this and maybe less in the next installment.

Confused? Perhaps you skipped the prequel. Black Friday: A Different Perpective.



Black Friday – The Band Gets Back Together

Larry the Lego Set was feeling a tad out of sorts, maybe even a biff*.

At first he thought perhaps he was missing one of his parts but a thorough check confirmed he seemed to have his stuff together.

Bricks , normal and duplo, check. Figures, check. Wheels, check. Lego train tracks, train, scenery and town, check. Larry considered himself a well rounded individual. Hey, it takes a village to make a fake village or a Larry.

It had been a few weeks since he last saw Xena before she finally was absconded with. Absconded is a bit of a harsh term for the event. It was a legitimate sale. They saw it coming and tried to thwart the sale. Well, as much as mildly animated inanimate objects could thwart anything but the author has a strange new found fondness for the word thwart. The sale could not be thwarted. The sale appeared to have a will of its own, thought Larry. “But, that’s just nuts.”
Larry sighed deeply and as he was about to go into another self pity fueled sadness bender his buddy Yo came swinging in.

Hey , he’s a Yo-Yo that’s what they do.**

“Snap out of it Larry. This pitty party of one is harshing my mellow.”

“Harshing my mellow?”

“Hey. I’m a Yo-Yo. I was born in 1970’s California.”

“I hate to go all Cliff Claven on you but you can trace your roots to the Philippines and before that to China. I’m not an expert but I find it hard to believe the term “Harsh My Mellow” could originate in any Chinese dialect.”

“Larry, are you the author of my story? That was rhetorical. The answer is “I think not.”

“Ok, Ok. I did not mean to harsh your mellow.”

“You have been moping around here ever since Xena was sold. Can’t you see whats happening here?”

“I’m sad, my mellow has been harshed?”

“Ok, now your just making fun of me. No. You my friend are heartbroken.”

“Heartbroken? How could I be why I never told ..we never talked…I mean, well, yea you are right. Pardon my expression but my heart seems to be at the end of string spinning forever with no hope of ever being ruinited with hands of comfort.”

“Ok now I just want to toss my string.”

“Sorry, but what am I going to do?”

“Well duh. Do I have to think of everything. You want to get advice from a Yo-Yo all of your life.  Just think about it.”

“We, should go get Xena?”

“There you go. And what else.”

“There’s something else?”

“Yes , who do we need to help ?”

“Um, The Major, Jan and Stosh, Batman. Yo-Yo’s little helpers?”

“Yes and no. That name never stuck. It doesn’t sound much like  a band of action heroes. Especially in an Austrian accent.”

” How about The Band.”

“Yes The Band. That works.”

” We need to get the Band back together?”

“Yes Larry, We need to get the Band back together.”





*Not a unit of measure but it should be.

**Perhaps you should stop trying to catch up and check out the original four part prequel. “Black Friday, A Different Perspective.” “Black Friday: Living On The Down Low“, “Black Friday: The Gathering” and the thrilling conclusion “Black Friday: Twas The Night Before Christmas”


That is the original name. I didn’t rename it once I decided it was a prequel. I’m not George Lucas. Maybe if someone makes a wildly successfully movie, the heavens open and gold flows down a rainbow into a sea of love, peace and tranquility I’ll think about it.

Jump On The Bandwagon

“When did you join the bandwagon?” I had been waiting for that question.
Let me look back and ruminate on the moment. Now as I recall….
I remember crying after some guy in a frock or something had just spanked my ass. Yea I know what you’re thinking , quite rude and at the time I thought uncalled for.
When I stopped crying another man , who I later found out was my Dad,  gave me a couple hats with pictures of animals on them, one of them even had a picture of feathers.

He lightly rested his big hand on my tiny head and said, “Son, from now on most of your crying will be done on the inside.”

I truly didn’t understand what he met until the summer of 1969 which I spent getting my heart broke within the friendly confines of Wrigley Field. At the age of eight the world had said to me,”Sometimes what you love dearly will break your heart.”
From that moment on I spent my off seasons healing and baseball seasons preparing for heartbreak. In that regard my Cubbies didn’t disappoint. I have spent many a moment pondering my sometimes dysfunctional relationship with my boys in blue.

Often times its like your first love where either of you just can’t let go. “Come here darling. No, get away , get away. I love you but I just can live with you. When I need you, you just aren’t there.”

Over time we have come to an agreement, “Lets agree to try really hard and make this friendship work. Sometimes when times get tough we’ll want to lay blame but lets be bigger than that. Let us not say “Its not you it’s me”, we’ll just silently agree “It’s you but next year will be different.”

Well, next year has come and it’s joyously different. It doesn’t matter when you jumped on the wagon. The biggest parties are the best. So jump on the bandwagon and enjoy the party. It’s going to be a good one.


Put Down Your Phone and Don’t Panic.

Can I Fear You Now?

Dawn cracks early today.

I must awake to start another 16 hour period of

survival in the phone zone.

These aren’t easy times and I can not afford to panic.

The mindless hordes have grown unabated. Their

doltish brood is increasing at an exponential rate. They

seem to  be controlled by a more determined power

these days. Their catatonic screen stares bely an

underlying machination. They seem to be in pursuit of

a goal that is beyond my understanding.

     When I use the term understanding I don’t mean in a rocket science, orbital mechanics kind of way. I understand the gist of that.

I mean it in a “ I do not understand your servitude to

your phone” kind of way.  I dare not approach them in

an attempt to understand their reasoning. That would

be interrupting one unintelligible act with another.
These hordes go by many names, Phonezies,

Smartzies, PokePods. Smartzie seems to be a misnomer.

There are many adjectives one could use to characterize

these hordes, smart is not one that I would choose.

I am going  with PokePod. It has a nice ring to it

and is marketable. You can use it but I get a cut of the


The journey to and fro is wrought with extra dangers

these days. The PokePods are ignoring risks and taking

their phone reverence on the road. If they were only

risking themselves that would be one thing but they are

jeopardizing thousands of innocents.

Yes, I include myself in those thousands. I am innocent. Ok, I was once.

The PokePods need to pull their head out of their

apps and pay attention to the road. They need to stop

panicking about the poke dudes and dudettes* they

can’t find and start panicking about their potential

contribution to traffic fatalities. If their activities

continue unabated, I fear for the sake of mankind.

I must conclude this entry soon. Night is coming and I

need to conserve my energy for what may be a long

night. The PokePods have ceased their activity for now

but the nights are long and their activities are

unpredictable. The pitch black of night presents no

barriers for these plugged in legions of chaos and I

must be prepared for the unknown. Author signing off.
* A hipster term for a female dude. No it’s not in the dictionary. It wouldn’t be a hipster term then.


The clouds lifted and for a brief moment the words

came out to play. They cajoled, they told corny jokes,

they did a soft shoe. They worked for a few grins , a

smile and the holy grail guffaw. They felt joy for the

first time in many moons. The sky was blue and for a

brief moment they could see a clear horizon.  The joy

they felt was interrupted.  In the middle of their act, the

thunder cracked and the clouds rolled in to remind

them they do not manage the stage. Reluctantly, they

left the apron and slipped away to patiently

wait for the next break.

Punishment (Growing up Catholic)

I was raised Catholic in a Polish Neighborhood in Chicago. I also went to a parochial school of the Catholic variety. What occurred at the school was most of the major trauma that would shape the rest of my life. It was there that I developed a very personal definition of punishment.

I fell in love with reading from the minute I was exposed to the perils of Dick and Jane. That series soon lost its luster due to the thin plot lines and it was not long before I graduated to reading more sophisticated material. It was then I was introduced to the Great Books Club, a national program designed to foster reading excellence. The assigned reading material for the club was purposely beyond the grade level of its participants.

I achieved club membership in my first year of eligibility as a second grader and also the next year as a third grader. I was looking forward to making it my fourth year.

Sister Leonard Ann* had been teaching fourth grade at my school since forever. She had actually taught my father and his brothers. I am not sure I ever heard a good story about her.

     She was hateful from year one and by that I actually mean the first year after Christ died. She was that old. I think Jesus sensed she was on her way and feeling the futility of the future turned himself in.

I entered the fourth grade looking forward to the fifth grade. I just had to survive Sister Leonard Ann. It soon became apparent that for that to happen I had to have luck on my side. It also became apparent that I was not lucky.

I had heard about the sister’s teaching technique from my father and uncles. That did not prepare me for the actual experience. Nothing can really prepare you for the book throwing, knuckle smacking and ear pulling she employed outside of daily exposure to a 3 Stooges marathon in 3D. The one thing I had not heard about her was her degree in punishment of the psychological variety.

I soon became convinced she must have been used to interrogate prisoners during the wars. Yes, wars plural. I meant all wars.

It was after the first month of school that the Great Books Club members for the year would be announced. I expected this year to be no different. “.. Walter Praczek, Susan Shirzinski and Alan Vostek. Well congratulations children.”

My face matched the writing paper on my brand new big chief notebook, pale and blank. I had no idea why my name was not called and I was losing a battle to prevent tears from flowing. Glancing around the room the Sister’s shark like gaze fell upon me.

“So tell me Mr. Szybinski* . Why did you not make the club this year?”

“I, uh, I don’t know.”  Then the damn broke and I could see nothing through the refraction of the tears. A few moments but what seemed like hours later the Sister announced that I had indeed made the Club. I first felt relief but that quickly morphed into anger.

Why had the bitch humiliated me? Well, I would have thought, “bitch”, if I used the word.

The vocabulary of a nine-year-old Catholic schoolboy in 1970 Chicago generally did not consist of the word bitch.

The only word I had at my disposal was wench. A strange word for a nine year old boy but I read a lot. Maybe it was Nathaniel Hawthorne. The author did not matter; the point was she was a wench.

The nun I now refer to as The Bitch Who Shall Not Be Named had tried to take away the main element in my life that brought me joy. It was her cruel idea of punishing me for what I can only image to be the crime of existence.

The experience now is pretty much just a story to tell, although from time to time I find when something good happens I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. I guess this experience is not done with me or I it. I am currently writing a story of fiction inspired by my time with the bitch who shall not be named.

*The names have been changed to protect the innocent (me).

This post was in response to the Daily Prompt., and my need to vent.

A Place To Share Some Grins