Coney Island


Mrs. Working Stiff is from the Detroit area, having grown up in the “down river” suburbs south of The Motor City. Back in the day when she was out late dancing or at a club with friends and it was time to find a place for some late junk food, the gang would drop in to a local “coney island”.  Not a coney island as in Coney Island, but a coney island as in a coney island.   Put down the cheese fries and raise your hand if you’re not confused yet.

I’m from the great state of New Jersey, which is considered by many to be the world headquarters of the type of restaurant that I’ve always call The Diner. Big on breakfast all day, burgers, meatloaf, and other short-order cooking and simple comfort foods.  Diners are frequently built to look like a train car – a “dining car” – and are frequently clad in stainless steel and chrome, but that isn’t strictly required. read more

Milk, Bread, and Toilet Paper


Well, another storm has come and gone and with it the usual stampede of millions of people rushing to any possible store to by milk, bread, and toilet paper. Yes, milk, bread, and toilet paper are apparently the big three items sought in these manic pre-storm shopping trips.  I’ve been doing some googling on this broad topic and while I find many people talking about it and joking about it, I am also finding it hard to get to any real explanation.  The reasons for these items being at the top of most people’s emergency list seem to be some sort of government secret.  People joke that a storm is coming so we must prepare to sit on the toilet and eat French toast.  My best guess about the milk and bread is that parents are concerned about having kids stuck at home and are preparing to be able to dole out glasses of milk and peanut butter sandwiches.  As for the toilet paper, I don’t know. Seems to me that you should always be careful not to run too low on that. read more

Scared Stiff


The young boy was frozen with fear, the sheet mostly covering his face as he lay still in the twin bed, afraid to make even the slightest movement that might reveal the fact that he was only pretending to be asleep. Just coming out of an early morning deep sleep cycle as the bright Block Island sun streamed through the bedroom window, he had come fully awake at the creak of the bedroom door as the mutilated killer had pushed it partially open to peer into the room.  He knew the intruder must be looking at him and his older brother, still asleep in the other bed across the room, watching for any signs of movement and deciding who to attack first.   The boy didn’t understand how the killer, one of his legs no more than a mangled bloody stump, had managed to steal so silently into the house. read more


Santa reclines in the banana plant before his long sleigh ride home
Santa reclines in the banana plant before his long sleigh ride home

Christmas has come and gone and last year along with it, for better or worse. I had a few accomplishments and a few disappointments in the past year.  A few troubles, some aches and pains, a few more grey hairs, and lots of fun.  I rebuilt the back fence, fixed some things around the house, did some writing and some crafty things, and built this blog.  There is much work to do in the New Year and change hangs thick in the air.  I figure I may as well call it a good thing because it is here and it is surely happening!  It is only January 3rd and 2016 is zestily zipping along already.  I reckon that Mrs. Working Stiff and I would both rather be stationed comfortable in the cocktail car than tied across the tracks.  Bring it on, let it go, Auld Lang Syne and all that is yet to come! read more

Ghosts of Christmas Past

Santa Overlooks Trunk Bay

While the picture above is actually NOT of anywhere in Pennsylvania, it is still true that we have been having a strangely warm Christmas week here in the northeast. Around the neighborhood of the Chateau Working Stiff temps were in the mid 60’s on Christmas Eve and raging close to 70 on Christmas Day! Very warm for this time of year.  I must readily admit though – it is nice to not have to be thinking about snow shovels or ice melt stuff yet!

We had a mostly quiet week and holiday with just the wife and I for both the eve and the big day. Christmas was very low-key and mostly lazy.  Just a few presents to open, a few bottles of wine to open, lots of corny Christmas music, and a wonderful dinner of that traditional Christmas classic – Chicken Piccata. read more

Leprechauns in North Carolina – oh my!

Special Leprechaun entrance at The Hibernian in Raleigh.
Special Leprechaun entrance at The Hibernian in Raleigh.

Mrs. Working Stiff and I visited my brother and his wife at their cool pad in Raleigh, North Carolina this past weekend. It was a long drive south on Thursday and a slightly longer drive north on Sunday (thanks to a wrong turn on my part!)  Aside from the simple pleasure of visiting people dear to us, we went seeking an infusion of the elusive and ephemeral “holiday spirit”.  We did in fact have a liberal daily infusion of various spirits which may well have included some “holiday spirit”. read more

A Christmas Conference

A Secret Meeting in The Woods

For three nights I had trekked out to that spot in the woods where I had heard talk of these secret meetings.  Once there, near the clearing, and after having spread out an old blanket on which to lay down, I waited patiently.  We had a recent coating of fluffy white snow which was lit almost as bright as day on each of the three nights by the near-full moon.  My first two stake-outs were uneventful, but on the third night the stars aligned, the moon was full, and I bore witness to some wonderful sights seldom seen! read more

Return of The Blob

The Colonial Theater in Phoenixville, PA

All this talk about turkey this week has reminded me of something.  A memory long buried, (or should I say frozen?) – and perhaps best left so, but alas, here follows the story!

Mrs. Working Stiff is visiting her parents in the Detroit are for this Thanksgiving weekend.  I was with my own family in Cape May for a few days but returned home for the bulk of the weekend and am trying to make the most of my time.  (See prior blog entry re: Operation Fireside.)

After breakfast this morning I drove out to the historic town of Phoenixville, PA, about 20 miles away and roughly to the west, just a few miles from Valley Forge National Park.   Phoenixville has a charming downtown area with lots of shops and restaurants to check out and sample.  The area where I parked and strolled around, the eastern part of Bridge Street, was somewhat bohemian and seemed to be favored by a young-ish crowd who enjoyed the Steel City Coffee house and the incense-burning gift shops.  It looked like a great place to have a meal, a stroll, and some holiday shopping.  I have personally made a mental note to take the wife there for an evening of seasonal merry-making next month! read more

Operation Fireside

My stepmother Meryl with, from left, Joanna, Kristin, and Victoria

I was not even a gleam in my daddy’s eye back in 1944 when the D-Day landings took place on the north coast of France –  Operation Overlord – so fortunately I had no part in that hard day!  I have always wished that I had in fact taken part in Operation Thunderball back in 1965 – but unfortunately I have had to accept the fact that Operation Thunderball is just a fictional secret mission in a James Bond book and movie!

No, for better or worse, the only military mission The Working Stiff has ever been involved with is the great “Operation Fireside” which has been ongoing in Cape May since being launched in 1981, and he is very proud of it! read more

Morning Coffee

The pellet with the poison’s in the flagon with the dragon;

The vessel with the pestle has the brew that is true.”

(I’ll get to that.)

Being working stiffs, we aren’t always able to jet off to exotic islands whenever we like.  This year, as it happens, was a year devoid of a tropical island vacation.  I’m not trying to garner sympathy by saying that – just saying.

It is fair to mention that we did in fact have a fantastic week vacation on Block Island just this past September, which is not shabby by any stretch, so again – not complaining!  I fully recognize that the fact that we didn’t get to have a week or more on a sunny Caribbean island this year, soaked in sunlight, rum, and coconuts will not rise to the level of tragedy by most reasonable standards, but oh well – when life is good sometimes we must find our own hardships to anchor us! read more