Willy Porter Explains the Banking Crisis

How to Rob a Bank by Willy Porter

For those of you who are curious as to the cause of our current banking crisis and/or still have the stomach to hear more, Willy Porter explains it all in this podcast from the Dave and Carole morning show on 96.5/WKLH Milwaukee.  Thanks, Willy.


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To Campbell’s Soup

To Whom it May Concern:

First of all, thank you for providing your warm, semi-solid nourishment.  For my entire life, you’ve warmed my belly after intense snowball fights and come to my rescue when I was home sick from school.  Your Alphabet Soup helped teach me to read, however poorly.  (Honestly, you have to know that the odds of a spoonful of Alphabet Soup correctly spelling a word are astronomical.)  But it was the humble beginning of the online security tool called Captcha. 

You’ve come a long way from your Condensed Chicken Noodle to Select Harvest, no doubt intended for the distinguished palette of the Jet-Setting elite.  You’ve even removed the arduous step of adding water to your product, which took the time it used to take to fill a can with water and add it to the soup and returned it to the family unit where it was better spent on things like Pictionary and Science Fair projects.

Personally, I loved to dip a corner of my peanut butter and jelly sandwich into your Condensed Chicken Noodle.  The flavors and textures surpassed anything that Willy Wonka himself could have devised.  (By the way, is Willy Wonka dead?  How does something like that work?)  I don’t eat peanut butter anymore because, well, this one time, peanuts tried to kill my wife, and I’m not a hero or anything but IT’S ON!  But I digress.

The purpose of this note is to call your attention to a discrepancy that I thought you should be aware of, and it has to do with your Campbell’s Chunky “Healthy Request.”  Is this not redundant?  Isn’t soup, in and of itself, the tacit reply to the consumer’s “healthy request?”

“Let’s see, I could eat a frozen pizza…or I could have a can of Campbell’s Soup.”  Are you not the “healthy request” in this scenario? 

And, does this imply that your other soups are somehow “unhealthy?”  Are your other soups made with road salt, raw chicken and melamine?  Surely not!  And now that you’ve discovered the secret to “healthy” soup, isn’t it incumbent upon you to apply that recipe across the board?  Lives hang in the balance, Campbell’s!

I write this letter with much love and respect, and if I didn’t consider you a delicious friend, believe me, I wouldn’t bother.  Campbell’s soup will always line my kitchen cupboards as well as the shelves in my Safe Room.  I’ve also been saving the labels as part of your Labels for Education program and, someday, I hope to use them to put our kids through college.  You are our personal 529 Plan.  By the way, do you happen to know how many labels it takes to get into Northwestern?

Your Enriched Egg Noodle,


To Israel and the Palestinians

Folks, could I have your attention please.  Hello?  Would you circle up around me for a sec?  Go ahead and take a knee.  Thanks so much, and I promise I won’t be long so you guys will be back to lobbing explosives at each other in no time. 

Um, first of all, hi, my name is Dylan and it’s a pleasure to be here in the Gaza Strip.  I’ll cut right to the chase; I’ve got some good news and some bad news.  I know that God promised these 139 square miles to both of you and that that’s caused a little, shall we say, friction.  Well, the good news is:  You all can stop fighting.  Now for the bad news.  You all can stop fighting because, well, I’m not even sure how to put this, this area actually belongs to my wife and I.  You heard that right:  God promised it to us.

You see, my wife and I were married in Mexico.  One day while I was sipping a Tequila Sunrise, crisping my pasty Irish flesh on the beach at Cancun’s Grand Oasis Playa, I was approached by a fairly official-looking man who I assumed worked for the resort.  He offered me a free excursion to some Mayan ruins if he could have just a few moments of my time.  We sat down at a desk in the hotel lobby and he offered me the opportunity to invest in some land.  He said it was some prime real estate on the Mediterranean Sea.  It was probably a bad idea to sign the contract without consulting my new wife, but I did anyway.  He gave me a great deal; the whole shootin’ match (pardon the pun) for 500,000 Pesos.  I’m not sure of the current exchange rate, but it was about $35 American.

I certainly don’t expect you all to take my word for it, so I took the liberty of including this:

I know that this fellow might not hold a lot of sway in your area, but, trust me, he’s pretty big around here.  It was strange, he pronounced his name differently from the way I’m used to hearing it, but I figured that was just his accent. 

Anyway, fellas, thanks for hearing me out.  So, again, good news:  You can beat your swords back into ploughshares.  Bad news:  My wife and I need you out by February/March for our vacation.  Thanks so much.


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Mac ‘n’ Cheese

Macaroni and Cheese was a staple and my meal of choice when I moved into my first apartment, and even now, beginning the year in which I will turn 40, I can still whip up a batch so creamy and tender that you can chew it solely with your tongue and the roof of your mouth.   At the risk of sounding pretentious, I consider myself a connoisseur.  Like the wine experts who can tell the year of a Cabernet by its finish, I can tell you the expiration date on a box of Mac and Cheese by how quickly the cheese powder turns to “sauce,” and so can you with this simple formula:  Take the year that you will turn 95 and add 50.

Trivia Question:  Do you know the first ingredient listed in the “Nutrition Facts?”

Answer:  Enriched Macaroni Product

Relevance:  The future of Mac and Cheese is NOW.

What is “Enriched Macaroni Product?”  Let me tell you, it’s not easy to come by.  It starts with the capture of a Macaroni.  Without harming the Macaroni, a small sample is taken.  This contains the “D.N.A.” of the Macaroni.  Using highly scientific cloning devices, the Macaroni is reproduced, safely and humanely, and as it’s reproduced, it is also “enriched.”  That means that things are added to the Macaroni Clones that make them “richer.”  “Richer” means “Better.” 

Yes, we’ve come a long way.  The new generation of Mac and Cheese eaters is enjoying Enriched Macaroni Product.  And, on behalf of the Old Guard, I’d like to extend a hand of solidarity.  You are the future, the custodians of history, and you will tell our story.  When you speak of us, please speak well. 

In exchange, I’d like to share some Mac and Cheese wisdom with that new generation and that is this:  You don’t need to follow the “Cooking Instructions.”  6 cups of water, 4 tbsp of margarine, 1/4 cup of milk.  Boil 7 to 8 minutes.  You don’t need that stuff.  For the perfect Macaroni and Cheese, remember the acronym B.L.A.L.:  Boil Longer, Add Less.

1.  Fill the pan 3/4 full of water; the amount of water will depend on the pan (just like Nature intended).  2.  Boil.  3.  Pour in the Enriched Macaroni Product.  4.  Stir occassionally  5.  Boil until the Enriched Macaroni Product swells to your satisfaction.  6.  Drain off the water using ONLY the lid of the pan (If you don’t have a lid for this particular pan, feel free to use a Corningware plate).  7.  Add Cheese Powder/Cheese Sauce Mix.  8.  Stir and enjoy.*

*For a real treat, add frozen peas and tuna fish.

There’s no need to thank me; I feel your gratitude already. 


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Front Row at Cake

By now, I hope that you’ve all recovered from any New Year’s Eve festivities that you enjoyed/regretted.  I know, personally, it feels good to have my filtration organs back up to snuff.  Yesterday, my body bore an uncanny resemblance to Milwaukee’s Deep Tunnel Project and due to overwhelming volume, major dumping was necessary. 

But this New Year’s Eve was certainly special.  This year, my wife and I, along with a woman she works with and her friend, were front row center at Milwaukee’s Riverside Theater for the Cake concert.  For those of you who aren’t familiar, Cake is an alternative/indie rock band out of Sacramento, California.  Some of their hits include “Never There,” “Short Skirt/Long Jacket” and “The Distance” to name but three.

But regardless of who was on stage, it quickly occurred to me that the front row of any concert is an awesome responsibility.  (In this case, “Awesome” denotes both “Woo-hoo!” and “Holy Crap!”)  You see, I’ve never been front row for anything except an IMAX film which was just nauseating and disturbing. 

The first thing that happens when the band leans into their opening chords is the entire audience rises to their feet.  I’ve done this many times, but it was usually in the relative anonymity of row JJ.  In the first row, I was amazed by the proximity.  It was almost too intimate.  In row JJ, you say things like:  “Did he just look at us?  Dude, I think he just looked and pointed right at us!”  In the first row, you say things like:  “Hello.”

Having seen a large crowd from the stage, I can say that a crowd is an entity in and of itself.  Once you get above a certain number of people, they cease to become people, much like Voltron ceased to be the sum of the lions that were its parts but was simply a big, ass-kicking robot.  Likewise, a large crowd is just that, and the individuals tend to disappear into the writhing, screaming mass.  It moves with one purpose and speaks with one voice.  But the first few rows consist of living, breathing, oddly well-lit people that are a fifty or so-person litmus test for how well or poorly the concert is going.  Until New Year’s Eve ’08-’09, I had never been a portion of that sample.

It’s up to the first few rows to provide instant feedback for the band, which is no less important than the monitors through which they listen to themselves.  Now being a fan of Cake but certainly not a fanatic and being familiar with Cake but certainly not an expert, for me this included a lot of eyes-closed-head-shaking, stationary dancing and lip-sync mumbling.  Secretly, I hoped that this was sufficient to let them know that they were indeed reaching and delighting me. 

The front row is also very often the target of the band’s conversation breaks; the several moments during the show where they stop playing and briefly speak to the audience in order to call attention to an issue or just get something off their chest.  I was not prepared for this.  During one such conversation break, Cake front man John McCrea was attempting to convey to his audience how important it is to acknowledge the sacrifice of others.  The mass was reluctant, so he deferred to the front row.  He looked down and said:  “You, sir, in the tie, do you know anyone who has been injured?”  Since I was probably the only member of their demographic that knew what a tie was and chose to wear one without irony, I could only assume he was speaking to me.  The hand gesture and direct eye contact was also a bit of a clue. 

Now, I assumed that he was making reference to veterans and their sacrifice to our safety, security and country, but, for a moment, I wasn’t sure.  It was, after all, a question that had been asked by lawyers in their television commercials many, many times.  “Have you or someone you know been injured due to the negligence of others?”  Surely he wasn’t referring to television commercials…was he?  But because I knew both someone injured by war and the negligence of others, I felt confident in responding…but how?  It’s customary to cheer at concerts, but it certainly wasn’t appropriate to cheer because I knew someone who had been injured.  I’m also fairly certain that John McCrea wasn’t interested in a lengthy, detailed discussion, so I decided on a thin smile, a contemplative blink and a nod of my head, heavy with gravitas.  It seemed to be the reaction that he was looking for.

New Year’s Eve ’08-’09 was one of complete and utter Cake immersion, and completely and utterly unforgettable.  To John McCrea and his Cake mates:  I promise that I’ll be better prepared the next time.  And, as a side note,  I now realize that “Satan is My Motor” is not a tacit endorsement of the Lord of Lies, but rather a commentary on how conflict within our corporeal selves is the very human fuel that propels us in our search for transendence.  Right?


Home for the Holidays

Hello, friends.  My apologies for being away for so long.  Even though you don’t ask for them, I realize how much you rely on these unsolicited essays, and I have been slacking, but now, I’m sitting here at the computer with a mug of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and my fingers are performing their final safety check before lift off.  (By the way, Dunkin’ Donuts coffee, in the parlance of today’s youth, is DA BOMB!  The only thing that would make it better would be sugar-frosted cruller chunks floating in it, but I suppose that’s my responsibility.  [Also by the way, “Sugar-Frosted Cruller Chunks” was my nickname in high school.])

Perhaps you can forgive me for my lack of Blog Due Diligence if I tell you that it was in preparation for the holidays.  For me, anyway, the holiday is Christmas although I have enjoyed a Hanukkah celebration here and there, and for those of you celebrating Kwanzaa, it begins today.  (Of course, if you celebrate Kwanzaa, you already knew that, and you don’t need some Sugar-Frosted Cruller Chunk White guy telling you.

But the holidays have a way of seriously disrupting work-a-day life patterns regardless of whether you’re honoring the birth of Jesus, slow-burning lamp oil or your African-American heritage.  There’s shopping, wrapping, baking or, in my case, shopping, wrapping and making homemade Irish Cream (recipe available upon request) which has been added to nearly every liquid that I’ve ingested for four days now.  And then, of course, it’s time to head home for the holidays.  Since every patriarchal and matriarchal family member, including my mother and father, have passed (by which I mean they’re dead, not that they’ve passed on hosting the holidays), this year, my wife and I visited her family in Beaver Dam.  (Beaver Darn for those of you with delicate sensibilities.)

But whether you’re visiting the home of your youth or that of a loved one, I think the experience is universal.  Essentially, it’s like visiting a museum and, for a time, you become part of the exhibit.  While the notches on the kitchen doorway that once marked the passage of time by your height are no longer relevant and your feet now hang over the end of the bed, for a moment you’re captured in a Sepia Tone snap shot.  Your job, income, growth, accomplishments and status are all put on hold while you revert to the little boy in the flanel football pajamas or the little girl in the nightgown with the ridiculous lace collar.  While Life doesn’t take kindly to stasis of any sort, it is the both the charm and claustrophobia of the Holidays.

And they say that Halloween is the holiday of ghosts, but if ghosts are, in fact, the indelible impressions that the departed have left with us, I say they’re never more prevalent than now in the darkest days of December.  They sit in chairs and breeze past the oven.  They ride on the waves of children’s anticipation and their voices can be heard in the steady hum of a dozen simultaneous conversations.  Whatever their form, be it in the tiny spark of memory, a tear of longing or a hearty laugh, they most certainly are.  And when the celebration subsides and our personal inertia continues, we feel the space that they had filled, once again vacant yet strangely eternal, like a single candle flame burning in defiance of the vast, infinite darkness.  And we pause.

For all of the time spent shopping, wrapping, baking and Irish Cream making, in that single pause, in that fleeting moment, when time has stopped while we take our place in our personal museum exhibit, we can count the angels on the head of the pin…and we’re home.


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Friday, December 19th, 2008, Day Two, Entry Two

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.  All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

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Friday, December 19th, 2008, Day Two, Entry One

So much white.  Whiter than the population of Utah.  I soon realized that it was not the white light of Heaven.  Death, where is thy sting.  I was not murdered for my succulent meat as I had suspected I might be.  And while the snow did try to gain entry into our home by donning the brown shorts of the U.P.S. man, its inability to speak was the flaw in its subterfuge.  Nevertheless, we are surrounded.  


Trying to fill my final hours with card games.  Uno.  Uno!  UNO!  I long for Ocho Loco

One shovel has already caught fire and exploded; I dare not go out again.


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Thursday, December 18th 2008, Day One

I’m counting on the local news to keep me safe; from the storm…and myself.  Every meteorologist says they’re the one to trust…but I’ve been hurt before. 


But watch them I do, and watch them I will.  They say that this is End of Days.  In 2 hours, it will come.  Twelve inches, wet and heavy.  The perfect snow storm.  They say we all pray eventually. 

This is my last will and testament:

I, Dylan Bolin, being of sound mind and body, hereby do bequeath all of my worldly riches to Bailey (dog).  And to my wife, I ask:  Why, honey, why?  For the record, I think it’s always to early to resort to Canibalism.  Don’t ever date anybody else or I will haunt you both.

You win, Weather.


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The Dylan Bolin Gift Certificate

Personally, I don’t care for gift certificates.  Nothing screams:  “I was obliged to get you a gift so here’s a gift certificate!” like a gift certificate.  I like to play with my holiday toys right out of the wrapping paper.

That being said, for those of you who are looking for a last-minute gift for that special someone, I’ve got the perfect gift:  Me.  And the Dylan Bolin Gift Certificate couldn’t be simpler.  Here’s what you do:  Put your name and telephone number on a piece of paper.  On the other side, write “Dylan Bolin” and a dollar amount.  Have the recipient bring the Dylan Bolin Gift Certificate to me and, together, we’ll do something equal to the dollar amount on the paper.

Let’s say it was $10.  Perhaps we go and get ice cream.  $20?  Maybe we go and see a movie.  For $50 or more, maybe that movie has a, shall we say, “happy ending.”

Happy Holidays, everyone!


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