Monday, February 8, 2016

Great big flags & other Super Bowl thoughts


I thought today I’d write about the patriotic desecration we all enjoy every Super Bowl, but I’d rather not today on what feels like our national hangover.
But one of these days I’m going to dig into that one. See, I’m fascinated by the construction, care and storage of those mega-flags they use at big sporting events.
The American Legion details very explicit rules about flag display. It’s a sacred piece of fabric.
I was reminded of this last week when Val and I attended a memorial service for a veteran friend of ours. The flag ceremony took place amidst the wails of the bereaved. Yet the two-man honor-guard carried out their duties with stoic dignity.
It was very moving.
Guaranteed, that flag will reside in a place of honor in the family den and will be passed down for generations.
I’m curious about what they do with those giant flags, ones that could sink an ocean liner. It’s logistically impossible to treat those flags with the care our flag guardians prescribe.
The largest of all is called Superflag. Its home is Long Beach, California. It is 505 feet by 225 feet and weighs 3,000 pounds. It takes 500 people to unfurl it.
The flag is never supposed to hit the ground. But people, I’m sure, accidentally walk on these monsters. How do you properly fold it? Transport it?
I want to know. Of course, I say that every year and am thus far too lazy to look. Maybe for July the Fourth. 
Or not. Either way, today we’ll Super Bowl scattergun starting of course with . . .
• Puppy Monkey Baby.
• My favorite commercial was the Dorito-loving fetus, but the only element Puppy Monkey Baby was lacking to make it an all-time classic was an appearance by The Three Stooges.
• The NFL should next year skip halftime hoopla and instead just have some pharmaceutical company issue every American hallucinogens that last for precisely 28 minutes. Live tweets about what we’re seeing could be more entertaining than the performers.
• My favorite halftime shows have either been baby races or drunks kicking field goals. These used to be Steeler halftime staples and they were uniformly compelling. Baby races are tremendous sport and would be even more so if the winner parents got, say, a trip to Hawaii. I’ve seen frantic moms screaming at their beloved infants to get their little buckets moving when the stakes were cans of paint. Offer something worthy and it’d be a true bloodsport. Of course, the NFL, caring organization that it is, could offer family counseling to the losers.
• Drunks kicking field goals is great, too. The Steelers used to fetch 10 inebriates from the stands or maybe the stadium tank and have them each try to kick from the 10 yard line. Make that and you move back 5 yards. It was hilarious. For Super Bowl purposes, they could have maybe a tequila maker sponsor each kick and have the contestants do a shot every 5 yards. The stakes? How about a 1-year get-out-of-jail-free card? I’d enter. 
• Do attending fans have to remain in their seats to make the big card shows work or do they have place holders to flip cards in case someone needs to take a leak?
• When are the going to move the game the Saturday?
• I’ll link it below, but I’ve suggested stakes be upped by having fans of losing team go to work for one week for fans of the victors.
• Peyton sure exudes class, doesn’t he? Having said that, I’ll be very disappointed if he comes back for one more year.
• I interviewed John Elway at the Mario Lemieux celebrity golf tournament in Pittsburgh in about 2001. I asked if he’d ever had a thrill as great on the golf course as he’s had on the football field. He said, no, not even close. “A hole-in-one might match it, but I’ve never had one of those.” He got one two weeks later. 
• One of my favorite Super Bowl related tweets was rendered moot this year by the NFL’s decision to for once to shelve the pretentious use of now-incomprehensible Roman numerals. It is: “In honor of typical Super Bowl nonsense, my phone number in Roman Numerals is DCCXXIV CMLXI MMDLVIII. Call me!” I’ve tweeted that for four years now and no one’s ever bothered to call.
• I read about a mini-controversy involving whether Peyton was paid to say he’d be drinking Budweiser all night. I read he owns two Anheuser-Busch distributors in Louisiana, but wasn’t paid to say that. I’m fine with it. 
• Just nine days ’til pitcher and catchers report!
• puppy monkey baby

Related …


Friday, February 5, 2016

Mom thinks I work in hardware store (plus blog halftime Super Bowl prediction)


I'm starting to think the only reason God wants my Mom to live with dementia so long is He doesn’t ever want me to ever run low on blog material.
That’s how I wound up with a make-believe job down at the local hardware store.
Hours are good, pay’s decent and I like all the make-believe people with whom I work.
Some of the make-believe customers can be difficult, but what are you gonna do? The world is just so full to busting with true jerks many of them are crossing the reality border and stealing the jobs of make-believe hardware store customers.
Oh, if only we knew just one great man with the make-believe know-how to build a great big beautiful make-believe wall!
Mom’s dementia’s been on the march for about seven years now. It’s not so debilitating that she’s incapable of living on her own and she’s happy where she’s been for nearly 20 years. And she is beloved there. Her condo is blessed with caring neighbors and staff who understand her situation and are patient with her lapses.
Not me. I’m easily exasperated and often respond to her innocence with cruel sarcasm.
God knows. I’m convinced He adds 18 months to her life every time I smart ass her for her innocent mindlessness.
For instance, it was driving me nuts when she’d begun asking me, “Are sorry you ever became a writer?”
She meant well, I know. But I interpreted the question as an indictment my entire life.
To me, it was my own mother asking, “Are you sorry you’re such a failure? Do you wish you had chosen a career that leads to actual income and benefits? Are you sorry you’re barely able to support your family? In essence, are you sorry your such a damned loser?
The reason it drives me nuts, I guess, is because the question put forth by my endearingly senile 83-year-old mother is the same one I, a completely rational adult, asks himself each and every night.
I want to say, “Yes! Yes! Yes! My professional life feels like one big mistake. Yes, of course, I’m sorry! I can’t stand it!”
But I knew she’d be stung by my tone and wouldn’t comprehend the subtlety. And I knew she’d keep asking me it, as she’s done for the past two years.
I needed an answer she’d understand.
So I told her I took a job in the local hardware store.
It’s a great make-believe job because it’s something cluttered minds can easily grasp. It’s honest. It’s legitimate. And it’s concrete which, by the way, we sell by the sack in aisle 6 in Home Improvements.


Blog Halftime Super Bowl Prediction!!!
What? Didn’t you see the clock ticking down? I’ve been very proud that this is the first time all week the blog’s mentioned the Super Bowl. But I couldn’t let the event pass without a prediction. Here it is:
Carolina 55, Denver 37.
That’s not the score. That’s my prediction of what the high temperatures will be Sunday in each respective city.
I never thought Denver would beat Pittsburgh and I never thought they’d beat New England (and hallelujah for that). They’re playing wily. But I don’t think they’ll beat Carolina. In fact, I think it’ll be a blow out.
It’s easy to root for Peyton Manning, gracious as he is in both victory and defeat. But in situations like this, I always root for the team whose victory will most infuriate our nation’s racists.
And that’s the Cam Newton-led Carolina Panthers. Many racists will be miserable if showboat Newton and his team win. He plays with so much joy and exuberance I can’t help but love to watch him win. So I hope he scores the game-winning touchdown, cartwheels down the field and gets caught on camera sucking face with a Denver cheerleader.
And, yeah, I hope the chick is white.
Carolina 37, Denver 10.

And now for the Blog’s 2nd Half . . .
I think I could really dig working in a hardware store, especially one that stocked lots of shovels. I’d have a steady paycheck, humble ambitions and a sensible stability my wife craves.
But a big part of me would expire.
See, I really do love writing and suffer from a rosy conviction one day it’ll all pay off.
I’m thrilled by the reaction the “The Last Baby Boomer” is getting. I thought it was good and people would like it, but anything that gets so battered by rejection — and I include myself in the category — is bound to react to potential criticism like a dog that’s been beat too much (and, yes, Springsteen completists, I’m thinking of “Born in the USA”).
So to hear people are really enjoying the book makes me so happy. It ratifies all my dreams.
Plus, I’m hearing from enthused media-types who are finding the hook of what’ll happen to the very last baby boomer irresistible. Truly the elements — baby boomers/reality TV/greed/future — are pop culture media cap nip.
That bodes well for the guerrilla kind of marketing I’ll need to make the book a success.
The very best reaction, however, came from the most surprising source.
It was Mom.
She’s enjoying, I think, the idea of me make-believe working at the hardware store. It’s something she can easily explain. But I showed her the book anyway, not at all sure how she’d react or if she’d react at all.
Well, she was thrilled.
She hugged me with startling vigor and told me she was so proud. She could tell, she said, people were going to love it. 
It was like for a moment she remembered who I was and how wonderful it would feel to receive that affirmation she used to so readily and joyfully bestow on an hourly basis.
For that one moment, she was perfectly cogent and I was once again, maybe for the very last time, her little boy who was happy again to be hugging his Mommy.
I have to tell you, it choked me up.
I can hardly wait to tell the guys down at the hardware store.

Related …


Thursday, February 4, 2016

I'm gonna try & swear on KDKA tonight


I’m going to make this brief: I’ll be on 1020 KDKA-AM radio tonight with John McIntire and I’m going to try and swear.
I want to do something shocking, something that’ll earn a jolt of attention, something that generates news.
And because it is radio, merely dropping my pants won’t matter.
I plan on doing that, too, but strictly for comfort.
I should write at least one book a year just to get on the radio with John. He’s that much fun.
He used to do a cable TV show and, man, that was always a party. It was very seat of the pants and that helped make for electrifying viewing.
I remember one Fat Tuesday when me and some buddies had been celebrating in downtown Pittsburgh hours before I was scheduled to appear with John.
I’m not going to say I was “too drunk” to be on television -- is there such a thing? -- but I was plenty drunk enough to make for entertaining viewing, or so I was told.
What I remember most about that one was going into the dressing room — I was festooned in Mardi Gras beads — and looking in the mirror and detecting a slight forehead shine.
What was I going to do about that?
Well, lo and behold, right there was a makeup kit for some of the on-air talent. I took out the little pad from what I guess you’d call foundation and gave my face a little tap.
It worked! The shine had vanished beneath an orangish dab about the size of a quarter.
Of course, that added a bit too much contrast to my Caucasian mug. So for balance I dabbed the other side.
Better!
But now the lower face seemed off-kilter color-wise.
I don’t remember just how long I was in there splashing and dabbing my face, but when I finally gazed back in the mirror I momentarily thought I’d been replaced by a shape-shifter Oompa-Loompa.
My face looked like a sun setting into a bead-graced turtleneck horizon.
That’s when the producer walked in and said, “You’re on in 30 seconds!”
I don’t remember much about the next hour except for me giggling for long stretches and John staring at me with his head cocked looking like a chicken in the rain.
No chance of that happening tonight.
I do plan on asking about swearing. I’d like to say bitch and ass and maybe a few of the PG-13 barnyard profanities.
But I hope you’ll listen. I’ll be talking about my new book, my motivational speaking — “75 percent humor/23 percent humanity/2 percent motivation" — and what it’s like to work on the top floor of the Tin Lizzy, a building that features three wonderful drinking joints. 
And, as always, I’ll try and be a good, coherent guest for John and his avid listeners.
I feel obliged to make up for the night I startled him by appearing tipsy and in too much makeup.

Related . . .


Wednesday, February 3, 2016

O.J., me & National Enquirer


It’s the wildest sort of speculation for me to imagine there’s a lot of office watercolor talk about “The People vs. O.J. Simpson” when I don’t even know if offices even have watercoolers anymore.
Heck, for all I know watercolors may have been replaced by pot dispensaries where harried workers stand around and say things like “Dude” and “Chill.”
See, it’s been a long time since I’ve smoked pot, too.
But a host of O.J. dramas has people buzzing about the what by any definition was the crime of the century.
We started watching the 10-part FX series last night and I hear the ESPN “30 for 30” extravaganza is well-done.
Not sure I can watch all that. I do not wish to OD on O.J.
Been there done that.
It was 1994-95.
The whole country sort of stopped what it was doing while the trial was going on.
My recollections of the era are colored by having been connected with The National Enquirer, which was referred to by prosecutors as “The Bible of O.J. Coverage.”
That honorific was first reported, not IN The Enquirer, but by The New York Times.
Understand, I didn’t write a single O.J. story back then. Never have.
But I was one of the magazine’s top feature writers. I did as many as four stories a week throughout the ‘90s.  I’d visit the Florida offices every six months and was on friendly terms with every reporter and editor in the building.
Unlike many sports fans, I wasn’t a huge fan of The Juice when he was setting rushing records for the Buffalo Bills. I revered only Steelers.
In fact, I didn’t become a really ardent fan of the Juice until 1988. That’s when he appeared in the first of three “Naked Gun!” movies with the incomparable Leslie Nielsen.
I remember thinking, man, this guy can really act, albeit in a way Moe, Larry and Curly did.
It was pure slapstick. And I love that movie. Love it!
Fun fact: His first screen credit was as a police recruit on a 1968 episode of “Dragnet.”
Yes, the man who would eventually be prosecuted by the LAPD once played an actor trying to become LAPD.
So, like everyone, I was shocked when he was charged with killing his wife and waiter Ron Goldman. Appalled because it was clear he did it.
Where did you watch the slow-speed chase? Surely, you were one of the 95 million on June 17, 1994, who did.
I saw the start of it from a press tent at Oakmont Country Club, site of that year’s U.S. Open. I’d snagged a press pass.
The day in hindsight was for me rich in irony.
I was in that press tent to watch the weepy retirement from U.S. Open golf of local legend Arnold Palmer, a man who would eventually become a friend who’d provide the gushy cover endorsement for my book about things we can all do to make the world happier and more colorful.
On wall-to-wall TV in the adjacent room was the accused murderer on the run. It was surreal because Palmer and Simpson had starred together in a series of playful Herz Rent-a-Car commercials.
The man who was friends with kings and presidents was now (former) friends with a murderer.
I had a TV in the old basement office back then and I have no idea how I got any work done. Trial coverage was on round-the-clock.
CNN featured Roger Cossack and Greta Van Sustern, whom I in those pre-Twitter days joked to friends should be called “Handsome and Greta.” At night Jay Leno featured the burlesque of the Dancing Itos. 
The FX production is based on a book by legal expert Jeffrey Toobin, against whom I’ve nurtured a disdain for more than 20 years.
He was the on-air foil against Enquirer celebrity reporter Mike Walker.
Toobin was always disparaging The Enquirer, even as the international scoops kept piling up.
I remember him one time haranguing Walker about checkbook journalism. He said, “Will you admit you pay for stories?”
Oh, he really thought he had Walker on the ropes. Instead, Walker reached down and picked up a novelty check with $1 million on it and said, “We certainly do and this one is for anyone who can provide credible evidence that will stand up in court proving Simpson is guilty!”
It was beautiful.
I remember some nervous immigrant clerk being grilled on the witness stand for taking, I think, $15,000 for The Enquirer exclusive about how he sold Simpson the murder knife.
Johnny Cochran was relentless in his badgering. He accused the man of being tainted.
Clearly, rattled by the accusation, the witness said: “The Enquirer said they would only pay me if I was telling the truth! That’s all they wanted. The truth! They said there’d be big trouble if I didn’t tell them the truth! The Enquirer just wants the truth! The truth!”
Flustered, Cochran asked Ito to dismiss the witness as he kept babbling “Truth! Enquirer! Truth! Enquirer! Truth!”
I called the office and asked about the reaction. My editor said, “Oh, we’re having a party!”
That’s the truth. And, boy, could that gang party.
Funny, but yesterday Val and I took in an afternoon showing of “Spotlight.” It was fantastic. We both revere newspapers and great journalism.
I doubt they’ll ever make a movie about what The Enquirer did to bust the O.J. case wide open.
They found the Bruno Magli shoes, the “ugly ass” ones Simpson denied ever owning.
The Enquirer figured there had to be a picture of Simpson, one of the world’s most photographed men, wearing them.
They sent one of the top reporters — his name’s Larry Haley — to an NFL office that was a repository of stock photos of all its players and stars. They had maybe a million of Simpson.
Haley was tasked to look through every single one until he found even one of Simpson in the shoes the murderer wore.
Imagine that. Twenty-one days of nothing but poring over pictures of the same man.
He was there five weeks before he found one. You’ll see it in the show, I’m sure.
It’s the key evidence used to find Simpson liable in the wrongful death civil trail where California jurors chose to award Fred Goldman $33.5 million.
These shows will focus on the circus qualities of the trial that so appealed to both tabloid and mainstream media 20 years ago.
But they will do a criminal disservice to history if they don’t convey the woeful grief of the Goldman and Brown families feel from these bloody murders.
It’s why sometimes when I’m having a bad day I still remind myself that things can’t be that bad.
For today and every day, Osama bin Laden’s in hell and O.J.’s in jail.

Related . . .


Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Latrobe Bulletin features me & "Last Baby Boomer"

I was very pleased to learn this weekend that in the eyes of the local paper, I’m a proper noun. See I figured I was an adjective. I figured I was “Local Author.”
But when the Latrobe Bulletin published its page 1 feature about me and my book, the headline read: “Chris Rodell’s debut novel is deathbed satire.”
That means, at least in the eyes of Bulletin editors, I’m right up there with Arnold Palmer, who in I think 1937 was referred to as a“Local Golfer.”
This was the first story about “The Last Baby Boomer” and I can only hope other writers will be as careful and engaged as Maryann Gogniat Eidemiller was. I’m very pleased with the story and the way it describes me and the book.
So instead of inserting my own thoughts, I figure I’ll just re-post verbatim the Saturday story because many of you haven’t seen it and the Bulletin has no webpage. And bully for them. Old school!
I’m thrilled by the early reaction the book’s getting. Please get in touch if you’d like to buy a signed copy.

Hundreds of people came to sit at the bedside of Martin J. McCrae, who had lapsed into a coma that was capturing national attention.
They came not in friendship, nor to offer him comfort.
They lined up, day in, day out, to pay $25 for 15 minutes of bedside vigil on the long shot they’ll be present when McCrae takes his last breath and dies. At stake was a $980 million jackpot.
“Everyone has to die,” Chris Rodell said, “but only one of us gets to die last.”
McCrae is the central character in Rodell’s debut novel, “The Last Baby Boomer: The Story of the Ultimate Ghoul Pool.” This week he donated the first copy of the book to Adams Memorial Library in Latrobe.
At 117 years old in the year 2078, McCrae is the last survivor of the Baby Boom Generation.
“It’s a coming of old, age story,” said Rodell, who lives in Latrobe.
In real time, no one can predict when the last Baby Boomer will die, but for sure the last one was born on Dec. 31, 1964.
“I was born in February 1963 and it dawned on me that I could possibly become the last one to die,” he said. “When you start doing the math of how many there are, it’s really going to be a monumental occasion.”
In the novel, the current generations have grown weary of Baby Boomers and everything about them. They resent that the music of The Beatles and Tom Petty is still popular and they don’t like how the Baby Boomers lived. By 2078, McCrae is the only one left and they’re betting on when he’s going to go. But he just isn’t dying.
Rodell debated over making the story serious or satirical and opted for the latter. A sampling of chapters available on his www.ChrisRodell.com website shows his breezy style for the absurd. The old man is dying and Rodell makes it funny.
Then the plot takes a turn. McCrae stirs and wakes up from his coma and now has something else to consider: A friend tells him that Jesus Christ is returning, and McCrae wonders if he’ll live to see it.
“Ever since Sunday school, he was told that Jesus was coming back, and he was furious about all the times he’d heard that it was happening and it didn’t,” Rodell said.
That’s McCrae’s dilemma. Does he try and to stay alive on the chance he’ll finally get to see Christ or should he just pass away and assured of seeing Jesus in heaven?
“Religion comes into this, but there’s no hidden meaning,” Rodell said. “It’s satire.”
The backstory of McCrae’s life unfolds when he wakes up and remembers the highlights of his 117 years. There are some similarities to Rodell’s own life. McCrae is a golfer and so is Rodell, but the author admits he’s not any good. McCrae doesn’t have a real job, which leaves him free to do whatever he needs to to get by and to have all those adventures that he narrates. 
That’s sort of like Rodell, who 23 years ago quit his job as a reporter to work full-time reporter with the Tribune-Review to pursue full-time freelance writing.
“I made McCrae an exaggeration of my exaggerations,” Rodell said. “I wanted him to be bigger than life.”
Rodell has written for a number of publications including Esquire, Men’s Health,  Playboy and National Enquirer. For the latter, he traveled around the country doing offbeat stories like “The Elvis Diet” for one week (he gained 20 pounds in seven days; visiting the Darwin, Minnesota, home of the world’s largest ball of twine; and visiting “the serial killer bar” in Washington state that was routinely patronized by four serial killers, including Ted Bundy, Green River killer Gary Ridgway and D.C. sniper John Muhammad.
“The bartender told me they were all great guys and good tippers, and they never caused any trouble,” Rodell said.
He also wrote a golf book about holes in one, and 2013 the motivational humor book called, “Use All The Crayons! The Colorful Guide to Simple Human Happiness,” which helped launch him as a humorous motivational speaker.
“The Last Baby Boomer” can be purchased on amazon.com.
Thanks, Latrobe Bulletin!

Related …


Monday, February 1, 2016

Overcoming in-flight panic attacks


(710 words)

Flying commercial always makes me feel like a foot must feel when it’s getting shoved into a bowling shoe.
I tweeted that last week and was immediately corrected by Jim H., one of my old Nashville Banner buddies, who said I was being too kind.
A more accurate description, he said, would be it feels like a right foot getting crammed into some left shoe with somebody else’s stinking foot already inside it.
Bingo.
That our national air carriers can turn an endeavor involving transporting human beings 32,000 feet above the earth’s surface into something so perfectly pedestrian is a towering tribute to oxymoronic grandeur.
I last week flew from Pittsburgh-to-Chicago-to-Omaha then Omaha-to-Charlotte-to-Pittsburgh.
That's a lot of airtime for a guy once prone to airplane panic attacks.
It wasn’t the prospect of flying that disturbed me. No, it was the prospect of flying inside an airplane that did.
I’m sure I’d be more comfortable strapped right to the wing.
Who wouldn’t? 
Honest. I’ve flown in hot air balloons and open-cockpit bi-wing stunt planes. I’ve twice gone skydiving and once took the controls of a 330 horsepower Extra 330LCs aerial stunt plane.
And the thing was way up in the sky when I did!
Yet from about 2001 through 2010 I used to have low-grade panic attacks on planes.
They had nothing to do with 9/11.
Instead, they had everything to do with a pre-9/11 Wall St. Journal story I saw about passengers on a Northwest Flight who due to heavy snows were marooned on the tarmac for 11 hours. That’s eleven.
The richly-detailed story told how the passengers were just 50 yards from the terminal gate, yet no assistance could be rendered. The toilets backed up, babies were screaming, fights between passengers and crew erupted.
Worse, they run out of booze!
Imagine the cruel deprivation, the stink, the claustrophobia.
I remember reading the epic story and thinking, “Man, if that ever happens to me I’ll go out of my mind.”
Of course, it happened my very next flight.
It lasted “only” four hours, but when you’re in the middle of it you don’t know how long it could last. Worse, the pilot would come on the intercom every 15 minutes and say it’d be just another 15 minutes.
They did that for four hours.
I had the middle seat between two barnstorming Sumo wrestlers. Just one fart and we’d all be goners. I remember breaking out in a cold sweat.
A storm had re-routed my NYC direct flight through Cleveland. I could look out my window and see Interstate 90 that led to Detroit.
By coincidence I’d in fewer than 12 hours be right there. My buddies and I had tickets to the Pirates inter-league series against the Tigers. I knew I could have arranged an easy rendezvous to spare me from my purgatory.
But they wouldn’t let me leave. The flight attendant, bless her heart, was very understanding. She let me stand up near the cockpit, dabbed me with damp towels and coached me to breath like she thought I was about to go into labor.
I had a rough stretch flying after that. I tried boozing, home-remedy relaxation techniques and talking about my problem to wary seatmates.
Nothing worked. I still on every flight felt like running up and down the narrow aisle until I could find a place to eject from the tubular prison.
I was finally able to beat it with something so simple I’m surprised I’d never heard counseled.
I immersed myself in a really good book.
I was flying from Houston and in the airport picked up Adam Hochschild’s fine “To End All Wars,” about World War I, one of the most miserable epochs in human history.
I think it helps me when I’m feeling sorry for myself to read about other hapless bastards who’ve had it way worse.
WWI soldiers had it so awful. They were trapped in tightly confined spaces with the constant threat of mortal harm. There were poison gases, endless dread and unceasing torments.
I know what you’re thinking.
Sounds like your typical commercial flight.
I must be thinking of a different book.

Related . . .




Sunday, January 31, 2016

RRS: What I think about when the dog and I get into a staring contest

No cogent reason for re-posting this. But it’s got, I think, some funny musings and seemed to fall through the cracks. And it has nothing to do with the Super Bowl so it for now is perfect.


I sometimes find myself staring at the dog and wondering how I’d lok with his nose and how he’d look with mine. And I wonder if he’s thinking the same thing.

I doubt it. I think when he looks at me he’s wondering when I’m going to eat again. 

He’s a very small dog, a yipper. I guess his brain’s about the size of a walnut. I think he devotes all his minuscule brain power to thoughts of obtaining and consuming food. 

I’m surprised dogs like him don’t try and leap through the TV whenever they see commercials for things like Hot Pockets.

One of the things I most admire about dogs is they’d never pause to read a nutrition label. They just eat what they enjoy until what they enjoy is all gone.

Yet, dogs have what must be an instinctive dislike for anything we’re told is healthy. I’ve never once seen my dog slobber over a salad.

If dogs were smart, they’d spend less time wishing for food and more time wishing for opposable thumbs that would allow them to pull open the refrigerator door. It’s like the Biblical parable about giving a man a fish or teaching him how to catch them.

I know a lot of humans who’d look more interesting with the noses of their dogs, me included.

A nose, even a properly functioning one, is a terrible facial focal point. If eyes are the windows to the soul then noses are the chimneys to the respiratory system. Nothing good comes out of them.

I’ve always thought it would be cool if what you sneezed revealed your personality. Cheerful people would sneeze confetti; sweet people, jellybeans; politicians, bull crap.

I once read that the size of our eyes is the same when we’re born as when we die.

That’s probably for the best. I’m trying to picture my 82-year-old mother with saucer-sized eyeballs. It’d be very unnerving, like she could instantly tell when I’m lying to her about how delighted I am she lives nearer to me instead of my deadbeat brother in Tennessee.

That same article about the consistent eyeball size said human noses and ears grow a little bit each and every day.

On days when I have very little to do I spend hours staring straight into the mirror intently trying to detect some growth. I can’t see it, but old pictures from around high school prove growth is, indeed, happening.

My butt’s getting bigger, too.

I’ve read we’re on the verge of physiological changes that will allow the average human to live to extraordinary ages, like 200 years.

That sounds great until you think about relentless ear and nasal growth.

Standard elevators will only have room for two or three old timers. Everyone else will either have to take the stairs or ride a few floors huddled beneath a nostril.

I’ve always been baffled by the way ears look. Why we need all that superfluous gutter cartilage around the little ear hear hole is a mystery.

I wish I could evolve dog ears, little mud flaps that would hang over the actual ear.

Like a beagle’s!

Many people say, ah, but having a furry flap over your ears would impede hearing.

To which I respond, ah, but having a furry flap over my ears would impede hearing!

Have you heard what’s being said or sung?

The only reason I don’t walk through life with my fingers jammed in my ears is because I’m either carrying something or my hands are up in the “Don’t shoot!” position necessary for surviving today’s society.

Think of the splendor if you could walk around with thick mufflers dangling over your ears. You’d wouldn’t hear stupid political opinions, unwanted sports discussions or disagreeable music.

If you wished to engage in conversation with someone intelligent, you could fasten the ears above your head with a little clip, something fashionable.

So that’s some of what I think about when I’m staring at the dog and he’s staring back at me.

What he’s actually thinking we’ll never know.

Like I said, he’s probably thinking about food.

I just hope he’s not thinking vengeful thoughts against me because a few years ago I approved the surgery that severed maybe the one thing dearer to typical male dogs than food.

I guess it’s something to think about.



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