Monthly Archives: January 2010

It’s time to fall for winter

The can that cushioned my can.

It’s official: It’s wintertime!

Yes, I know. The calendar tells us it’s been winter for a while now. But it’s officially winter for me because I’ve taken my annual winter tumble.

I’m a fairly careful guy when it comes to walking and climbing. But even so I usually fall about once a year, and that’s often during the winter months. Ice — especially ice that I’m not aware of — is my undoing.

Most of my spills are run of the mill. But some have been spectacular. Some have been humorous. And some have been both.

For spectacular, I don’t expect to top my impromptu plunge from a two-story roof while trying to clear an iced-up chimney during a blizzard on Christmas Eve in 1983. That’s part of the Roberts family lore now. And people who claim they’re my friends still refer to me as “snow angel” at times.

As for humorous, there’s the cornflakes incident, which also took place in the ’80s.

I worked in the office at the former Caterpillar plant in Davenport at the time, and on the winter morning in question, I was running late for work.

I had the ill-conceived idea that I’d finish my half-eaten bowl of cornflakes on the way to the car. What I didn’t realize, though, as I kissed my wife good-bye at the door and headed out was that there had been a heavy frost overnight, and the front steps were quite slippery.

My feet went out from under me, and I tumbled down the steps. In the process, I lost control of the bowl of cereal. It went up in the air, above my head, and turned upside down.

I wasn’t hurt, other than my pride, but milk and cornflakes found their way to my hair, shirt and necktie.

My wife had been watching this circus act from the front door. When I came to rest, I looked back at her. And to her credit, she had kept a straight face. That is, until she saw milk and cornflakes dripping from my glasses. Then she lost it.

My fall from grace that marks the official arrival of winter 2009-2010 was neither spectacular nor overly humorous. But it was memorable.

I was carrying an empty plastic garbage can from the street to the back yard when my feet found a large, snow-covered patch of ice near a downspout.

I did a triple half gainer, landing partially on my back and partially on the garbage can, which cushioned the impact. You might say that can saved my can.

When you take a tumble like that, providing you had no advance warning it was going to take place, the first thing that happens after you thump back to Earth is you think, “What the heck just happened?”

You obviously figure that out pretty quickly, given the fact you’re suddenly lying on your back staring at the clouds and it’s not a good day for sun bathing.

Next you determine whether or not you’re hurt.

If you aren’t — and this is most important of all — you look around to see who might have witnessed your lack of gracefulness.

I survived my most recent fall. I wasn’t seriously hurt, and no one saw what happened. The garbage can? It’s a goner.

Copyright 2010 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This column has been submitted to The North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 27, 2010 in Uncategorized


Tags: , ,

A football fix for a football addict

The Roberts men all like football. It started with my father, continued with my brother and me and, as this 1985 photo shows, was also true of my three sons, Brendan, Clinton and Dane (l-r).

Still football fans. Here's a more modern version of the shot above, this one taken in 1998.

What a Sunday afternoon it was for football fans!

There were two NFL championship games, one after another. I watched them on big-screen TV in high definition from a comfy recliner with a cold beverage nearby and a fire in the fireplace as a cold January wind whistled outside. Both games were exciting for the most part, too. A football fan can’t ask for much more than that.

None of the four teams involved in the two games are my favorite team, so I really didn’t care who won or lost. I just didn’t want to watch a couple of blowouts.

In the first game, the AFC championship, the Indianapolis Colts had to get in gear in the second half — they were down 17-13 at halftime — and they did. They ultimately beat the New York Jets 30-17. But the game was close for a long time.

At the NFC championship, regulation ended with the New Orleans Saints and the Minnesota Vikings deadlocked at 28 apiece. The final score was 31-28 after the Saints kicked a field goal in overtime.

So…..the Saints will face the Colts at Miami Gardens, Fla., at the 40th Super Bowl at 5:25 p.m. CST on Sunday, Feb. 7, the latest date ever for a Super Bowl. The big game takes place at (choose your favorite name for the stadium) Joe Robbie or Pro Player or Dolphins or Sun Life Stadium. They’re all the same place. The Super Bowl will be telecast on CBS-TV.

This will be the 40th annual championship game of the modern-era National Football League after its 1970 merger with the American Football League (1960–1969). And, according to Wikipedia, it will be the first time since Super Bowl XXVIII that both number-one seeds will face each other.

This also marks the first time that two teams who play in an indoor stadium will play each other in a Super Bowl.

The big game will mark the fourth time the Colts franchise has made it to the Super Bowl. It’s the first time for the Saints.

But you can get another football fix one more time before now and Feb. 7. Next Sunday, Jan. 31, some of the best players from the AFC and NFC will battle it out in the Pro Bowl.

For the first time since 1980, the game is being played somewhere other than Honolulu. This year it’s at — you guessed it — Joe Robbie or Pro Players or Dolphins or Sun Life Stadium in South Florida. Watch for it at 6:30 p.m. CST on ESPN.

Copyright 2010 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. Check your local listings for any changes on game times.

Leave a comment

Posted by on January 25, 2010 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Blago gets it right: He was stupid

I was taught that we have free speech in the United States. That we can say whatever we believe as long as it’s not irresponsible, like falsely shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

But free speech does, in fact, come with a price. Sometimes when someone speaks his or her mind, particularly if he or she is a public figure, the speaker has to endure criticism. That’s particularly true if what was uttered is something the majority of people consider offensive, prejudiced, radical, unpatriotic, inappropriate, politically incorrect or just plain stupid.

That stupid part brings us to Rod Blagojevich.

The former Illinois governor, who faces federal corruption charges and may well end up in prison after his day in court, had already been the subject of ridicule and jokes for his behavior when he said something controversial during an interview. In a just-released Esquire magazine piece, Blago said he was “blacker than Barack Obama.”

The lengthy, candid interview can be found at It gives you a pretty good insight into Blago. But beware: Many of Blago’s words are crude, more along the line of what you’d expect to hear from a thug in a back alley, not the former chief executive of Illinois, particularly one who’s trying to polish his image before his trial.

There’s plenty of material in the interview that will likely cause people to heap additional criticism on Blagojevich, but here’s what Roddo says about President Obama that’s causing the big stir:

“It’s such a cynical business, and most of the people in the business are full of s— and phonies, but I was real, man — and am real. This guy, he was catapulted in on hope and change, what we hope the guy is. What the f—? Everything he’s saying’s on the teleprompter. I’m blacker than Barack Obama. I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up.”

Blagojevich was apologizing for that paragraph on Monday (Jan. 11).

“What I said was stupid, stupid, stupid,” Blagojevich said. “I deeply apologize for the way that was said and having said it. Obviously, I am not blacker than President Obama.”

In a couple of minutes of saying he was sorry, Blago used the word stupid a dozen and a half times.

As I see it, Blagojevich had a right to say what he did in the Esquire interview. But I think he ultimately summed up his words in the interview quite accurately. They were, indeed, stupid.

Copyright 2010 by Phil Roberts, Creative Enterprises. This piece was submitted as a column to The North Scott Press, Eldridge, Iowa.

1 Comment

Posted by on January 12, 2010 in Uncategorized


Tags: , , , ,