Archives #6 Scoop Investigates 'The Case of THE SMOKING TOILET', PLUS Rubber Pancakes & Tasty Revenge! PLUS a 'Hummer' of a drink recipe, and JIMMY BARNES interviewed by CBS NEWS...not!  (Thank you, Wade, of CBS NEWS!) plus Jimmy PHOTOS too hot for the local paper!


Scoop of the Month  

    a new "Scoop Web-Exclusive!"


Scoop investigates '''The Case of the Smoking Toilet', plus Recipes for Weight Loss and Bug-Free Eggs! SPECIAL REPORT: Woman gets Bird-Brained!

Scoop #2 2003



And more!

Life is not all fun and games and martinis, you know. Often I must do some actual investigative work in my job as an Ace Reporter. Things can get tough out here in the real camping world, and don’t I know it. I’ve seen every crack in the fragile shell of the world in this occupation, and speaking of cracks, let’s get right to…


New campers and newlyweds Adam and Liz were enjoying their site. Her parents were up to visit and to probably make sure Adam had made a wise decision…about the trailer, I mean.

I had my feet up on the desk, hat tipped low, thinking about a sloshed olive soaking up the neon in a tall martini glass, my mind wondering when some blond bombshell might spend a dime, and there it was: the phone call.

"Scoop Jackson," I said. "Whaddya got?"

A silky voice spoke through the cheap receiver. Angels sang, blood vessels pumped. "I need a big favor," she said, purring.

I got erect, tilted the hat forward as if she could see me. "Name it, Doll."

She got right to the point: "Dinner’s at 7. Bring home some milk and dog food, OK?"

"Yeah, Doll," I said. The olive was still high in the glass in my mind—Mrs. Scoop is kind to me. I packed the gat under my hat, kicked the desk drawers shut, and headed out. The phone rang when I was two steps from the door.

I should have let it ring. Office hours were over long ago. But the long fingers of curiosity pulled me back like a Duncan Championship Yo-Yo. I took the call.

It was Liz Ludwig, the newlywed wife. She sounded desperate. "Scoop," she said, "I need help right now! My toilet is smoking…is that normal?"

"No way normal," I said, slamming the phone down and rushing out. Sometimes the martini must wait…duty calls in this line of business I’m in.

They were all there—the In-Laws, and Adam and Liz. Adam and I went to check out the ‘Smokin’ Toilet’. Smoke was indeed rising from the bowl. It was a mystery, until Adam leaned a bit closer. "It’s steam!" he said.

Yes, the hot water line had accidentally been hooked up to the toilet. I turned and saw the Mother-In-Law breathe a sigh of relief. "Thank Goodness!" she said. "I used that toilet a while ago—I thought it was just me, having one of those hot flushes I’ve heard about!"

Father-In-Law Rick seemed just as relieved, and the case was closed. I hunted down some milk and some dog chow and hit the pavement. I shouldn’t have worried about being late--the front door was open and the Doll was waiting. She wet a finger and touched my nose. "Is that a gat under your hat, or are you just glad to see me?" she said. The she handed me a chilled martini dry enough to make my toes curl. All was well in the world of Scoop.



Tent campers discovered a new breakfast recipe recently when Mike Vickery of Machesney Park attempted to cook up some AM eggs. He reached for the can of PAM to coat the frying pan, as he is careful about his utensils.

"He’s really a good breakfast cook while we’re camping," said wife Patty, "and he had some ham mixed in and everything. So we each had a bite, and Mike said ‘something’s wrong’. So we thought it was the ham—maybe it had gone bad.

"Then Mike said: ‘This tastes like bug spray!’ He spit it out all over the ground. That’s when I noticed that there was a can of RAID bug-spray right next to the PAM. I had just started to swallow and I managed to spit it out, thank God!"

When asked for advice, Patty said this: "Always remove your bug spray far away from the food items. But I must say, Mike and I didn’t have another bug problem all day. Nothing came near us."

They were wrong. It rained that afternoon, and Mike got stuck in the mud. Well, not him, but his truck. Helpful Tom Whitney of RV Sales came and dragged him (the truck) out. Tom told this reporter later: "Mike had a funny smell about him whenever he spoke, but I must admit there wasn’t a single fly in the area."


Lose all the weight you want using Hank Bormann’s new exercise plan!

However, that’s not what Hank had in mind when he left his truck at his campsite last week and drove back with his wife. "I figured since I was coming up early the coming week without her, I’d still have a vehicle here at the campground," said Hank.

However, Hank, who is a laid-back guy of above-average intelligence, forgot one thing. He was dropped off at O’Hare and took the bus to Janesville. The bus pulled away, and there stood Hank, 7 miles from his truck.

"I guess I forgot about that part," he said later. "And everyone camping around me has a cell phone, but I don’t know the numbers."

And so Hank walked the seven miles to his site. When asked how it was, he stated: "Invigorating, and introspective."

Which meant he had a lot of time to think about leaving his truck behind next time.


Diane Briggs is fond of birds. She has cute birdhouses all about her deck. Each weekend at her site she would peek in to see if she had any new little friends. Alas, she found no new bird friends. She was sad.

That all changed this past weekend when Diane was viscously bombarded by killer birds that relentlessly attacked her hairdo!

"I was carrying in groceries and yes, beer, and I was fumbling for my keys when something swooped down and started pecking under my hair!," a startled Diane said later. "I thought for a moment it was Tim giving me a ‘love tap’ (Relax…Tim is her husband—Scoop), but I instantly realized he would have just grabbed the beer from my hands first. Instead, I saw a bird fly away. It had an evil little look in its beady eyes, and its beak seemed to carry a smirking grin."

Diane quickly composed herself, fluffed up her hair, and started to open the trailer door. Suddenly she was attacked from the other side, this time the evil little aviator flying under her hair even deeper, as if seeking nesting material. Diane managed to bat it away, and thinking quickly on her feet, ran to the site of her neighbor, Lisa Laurich, who had once worn a construction hard-hat in a posed picture for a past Scoop column, which involved her falling off a pickup truck loaded with lumber. "I needed protection!" said Diane.

Unfortunately, Lisa was not there, nor did she ever own a hard-hat. In desperation, Diane wrapped her entire head in tinfoil.

OK, I made that last part up. But just the part about the tinfoil. Diane made it safely inside, but she was quite shaken by the incident. Asked how she felt, Diane said: "Bird-brained!"

Husband Tim had this to add: "That’s the last time she’s gonna’ feed those !#*!@# birds! Every time we go to bed, there’s twigs and feathers all over the pillows!"


In my last column I reported how Lori Dummer peed down a gopher hole, and since then no gophers have been sighted near her campsite. This was a mixed blessing.

While she is rodent-free, I must sadly report that her campsite is now quarantined—Lori is suspected of having Gopherpox. Attorney General Ashcroft has raised the Security Level to ‘Brilliant Crayola Magenta-White’ and is ordering an investigation.


Another hard day as an Investigative Reporter was over. I came home weary, slung my galoots on the den desk, and wished for something wonderful to happen someday soon.

An angel appeared. It was Mrs. Scoop, bearing a dry martini and bad news. "It’s shaken, but not stirred, Honey-Bunny."

"No problem, Angel," I said. "You stir me, and that’s enough."

And it was. 



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Rubber Pancakes and Tasty Revenge! Innocent Victims Trapped In a Deadly Food-Fight! Plus a near-fatal 'Hummer' of a breakfast drink, and the infamous Jimmy Barnes tries to stay out of trouble, but gets interviewed by CBS News...sort of! And actual unretouched photos of Jimmy Barnes too 'hot' for the local paper to print! 

Scoop #3 2003



Plus a new breakfast drink guaranteed to set your stomach a-flutter!

              Those of you who are faithful fans of my website already know of my travails with the Vulture. For you slackers, let me Update: Carol Okerstrom, on one hand a charming, lovely person, has used her other hand to wage relentless attacks against my Trivia Contests, answering every nugget of knowledge within mere moments of a posting. She was able to do this because it seems as if her boss pays her good money to spend her entire working day searching the Internet for trivial answers.

            That’s why I call her ‘The Vulture’—she will tear at a morsel of Trivia until she gets to the bone. That’s also why I respect her, but that’s besides the point…I’m here for revenge! So I was most pleased when a reputable NewsHound passed along a little tidbit…

            It was a month or so ago when Carol and her daughter decided to make pancakes for breakfast at the campsite. They used a box of mix that had been left in the trailer cabinet over the winter. Things seemed fine as hungry husband and father Mark awaited his perfect pancakes. They were perfect, all right—a platter of congealed, indestructible “things” that producers hope to use in the forthcoming sequel ‘Terminator IV: The Rise of The Deadly Dough.’

            After bending 3 forks and a knife, Carol and her daughter instead picked the pancakes up by hand and began flinging them at each other, resulting in much giddiness. An eyewitness who wishes to remain nameless (Kevin Possedi—Scoop) described it as “two goofy women throwing rubbery balls at each other while poor Mark tried to remain dignified while dodging pancakes traveling with the velocity of a bullet.”

DISCUSSION: If you were Mark, would you criticize your wife’s cooking? Also, how come guys get called ‘immature’ when they drink beer and watch ‘Caddyshack’ for the 45th time, knowing by heart every line Carl is going to say, yet they would not—sober—wad up their food and throw it at each other?

            Wait a minute—yes, they would. But that’s beside the point. My final question up for discussion is: Who thinks Mark was a fool not to videotape this and send it in to “Funniest RV Videos”?

            Anyway, innocent passerby Kevin was involved in the melee when the pancake-excited women decided to use him as a target. “I was on my golf cart and I had to maneuver suddenly—thank goodness I have lightning-quick reflexes and excellent driving skills. Pancakes were flying everywhere, bouncing off of walls, the road, Mark’s head…Venus Williams would have had a tough time keeping up with those volleys! Luckily, I escaped without injury, but as I was dodging batter-balls, my cart was struck by a well-intentioned throw. I have no doubt that it was meant for my nose, but it hit the cart instead and bounced off.

            “Unfortunately, a car was behind me…the poor unsuspecting man! The pancake-missile landed on the rear tire and would not spin off. Away he went with a constant ‘thump-squish, thump-squish’ sound. I doubt he’ll ever pry that pancake off.  But I guarantee that tire will never go flat…that batch of pancakes can’t be destroyed!”



Warning: Don’t try this at home!


            Lori Kmiecik was up camping recently, visiting friends Ken and Mary Atella. They roamed between sites, had a great time, and because alcohol was a factor, Lori stayed at Ken and Mary’s seasonal site. And at this point, I must add that Mary has a very attractive yard with numerous birdfeeders.

As I have warned many times, the most seemingly-innocent factors can often be the most dangerous. Think about it: a deadly combination of…alcohol and birdfeeders!  

            Mary described the devastating incident this way: “Lori got up in the morning and went to the fridge. I had a jar of red hummingbird food in there, the liquid stuff. And right across the jar was a big piece of tape that said in big bright letters: ‘DO NOT DRINK!’  Well, let’s face it, she had a hangover, and maybe she couldn’t see too clearly. Maybe she thought Ken and I were trying to hog the last of the cranberry juice. Anyway, Lori came stumbling back, waking us up yelling, ‘What kind of juice is this!!’

            “It affected her the entire weekend. I mean, it hurt her system bad, and she couldn’t stop burping! Later that day, she drank a Pepsi, but when she burped, it smelled like hummingbird juice. Even that night, when Lori finally decided to try a beer again, every time she burped it smelled like hummingbird juice! To tell you the truth, she was afraid to use the bathroom in our trailer, wondering what effect the hummingbird juice might have on the plastic holding tank. On the other hand, I probably wouldn’t have had to plug one of those deodorant things into the bathroom outlet either.”

            Lori Kmiecik is OK now, except for a psychological fear of birds, after being relentlessly pursued by a pack of hummingbirds all the way to the Wisconsin-Illinois border. 

            Lori is coming up again soon to visit the Atellas. “I know it sounds cruel,” says Mary, “but Ken and I can’t pass up this opportunity. We’re putting little ‘DO NOT DRINK!’ signs on all the beer cans, and on the water faucets on the kitchen and bathroom sinks. We’ll bring her back here after she’s done some partying and she’ll think she’s in ‘The Twilight Zone’.”



Every season I delight in telling tales of the infamous and charming Jimmy Barnes, the retired Firefighter who, a while back, almost burned down his own Chicago Fire Station as he cooked ribs in the back alley. The rest of the crew were on a routine patrol, and had to respond to a call to their own station. The ribs were ruined. The reliable Jimmy has suffered many other misfortunes, such as when he sat down on a claw hammer, or a giant mouse attacked his nose, or when hungry fish chewed on his toes while he was tangled up in a safety rope by the swimming area.

But Jimmy has kept his head down lately, even on the golf course, where last week he stole my ball marker and wouldn’t give it back. I wanted revenge with a new ‘Jimmy’ story!

And then fortune smiled…

A gentleman from New Jersey drove to Milton recently to purchase a Jayco travel trailer. He had seen it on the Internet, and wanted this particular model because it could be converted easily to an office and still retain sleeping quarters. His name is Wade Karlquist, and he works for CBS News, specifically as a teleprompter for Dan Rather on ‘48 Hours Investigates’ and for ’60 Minutes’. Wade and I had a few cocktails and talked, he showed me his CBS Press Credentials, and inspiration struck! Soon my plan was in motion…

Wade wore his fatigues and a ‘Kuwait—CBS News’ T-shirt, with his string of Press Passes in full view, and armed with a notepad and pen. We arrived at Jimmy Barnes’ site as he and his cohorts were deciding what time to golf.

Jimmy (appearing a bit startled): “What’s going on here?”

Wade introduces himself. Jimmy stares at the credentials that have ‘CBS News’ plastered all over them.

Wade: “I understand you almost burned your own Fire Station down while cooking ribs.”

Jimmy: “Scoop…is this for real?” I merely grin.

Wade: “I just heard you talking about golfing. What time will you be back? I need to let the film crew know in advance.”

Jimmy shakes his head. “Pal, if you weren’t wearing hose fatigues, I’d doubt you. But listen, you can’t mention that rib-cooking thing. We kept it off the report.”

Wade: “Well, that’s why I’m here. We want to tell your story on ’48 Hours Investigates’.”

Because Jimmy is a rascal, he then proceeds to elaborate on his rib-cooking ordeal, all the while telling Wade ‘but don’t mention that part, OK?” and “I shouldn’t tell you this, but”. Wade pretends to take notes, they shake hands, and we drive away. I wonder if Jimmy has taken the bait.

The next morning local camper Randy Hart Jr. pulls up on his golf cart. “Scoop,” he says, “how long you going to keep stringing Jimmy Barnes along? He’s asking everybody if this is for real.”

I wonder if this trick has put Jimmy off his beer out of sheer worry. I don’t want the man to die of thirst. “How long should I go?” I ask.

Randy grins. “As long as you can,” he said.

Well, it only lasted until that evening. Wade was headed back to New Jersey, and somebody spilled the beans. Jimmy circled around on his cart constantly, pointing an accusing finger at me. My revenge was short-lived.

But tomorrow he and I are going golfing. The odds are with me. Jimmy can stay out of trouble only so long…did I mention that Jimmy Banes stole my ball marker, and I am out for revenge?

But I have to be careful. I can hear it in the air—the whistling of a well-struck ball, the sound of it hitting the back of my head, the earth settling as my tender noggin makes a divot. That’s why I’m glad Jimmy is a great golfer…he can always play ahead of me.



Disclaimer: We love Jimmy Barnes...but he's just such a great source of stories! So we can't help it! So here's Wade Karlquist of CBS News helping me rattle Jimmy's cage... 

Jimmy is startled by 'CBS News'!


And now...the photos too 'hot' for a Family Paper to print!

Jimmy Barnes, at the local saloon, is convinced to try the 'new' White Owl cigar

Jimmy gets a harsh smoke and a string in his mouth! (You do know what it is, right?)

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The new 'Scoop Jackson Golden Star Certificate', suitable for framing, and destined to be worth big bucks! All you need to do is win a Contest--maybe even just enter!--or be a NewsHound and rat on your friends! Good luck to all!


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