Thursday, January 16, 2020

In the ring: fighting Parkinson's with boxing

I became a personal pacifist in 5th grade a split second after my right fist caved in the face of Mark Duncan on the front steps at Julia Ward Howe Elementary School.

So at the age of 13 with blood on my knuckles, I’d renounced violence in front of a building named for the composer of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” a song that exalts the Lordly unleashing of His terrible swift sword.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Mark had the day before spit in my face for reasons I still do not know.

We were in 5th grade so it wasn’t like he’d busted me for hitting on his wife.

That didn’t happen ’til, oh, 6th grade with Mr. Apple, suspiciously alert husband of  Mrs. Apple, my 6th grade teacher.

I just recall a righteous fury as I wiped his hot spit from my befuddled face. In that instant and years before I’d ever watched a single episode of “Mannix,” I fully understood the concept of justifiable homicide. 

It’s a pity I became a pacifist because, clearly, I could have been a world champion pugilist and I hear there’s good scratch in that.

His head snapped back — hell, it nearly snapped off. I thought I’d killed him. I felt oddly apologetic. We never spoke again. If he saw me coming, he’d duck behind locker. I fear my punch severely deformed his psychological composition. On the other hand he probably learned spitting in someone’s face is an unwise tactic when it comes to interpersonal problem solving.

I mention all this now because after 44 years, I’m training for a fight against a foe more consequential than that childhood slobber slinger

I’m fighting Parkinson’s Disease. And I’m kicking its ass!

Uh, not really. See, I gotta be honest. I knew writing that obligatory rah-rah sentence would feel phony.

You don’t beat Parkinson’s. You either come to some sort of accommodation or you surrender to it. To me, it’s like being in one of those old movies where the lawman and the escapee are shackled and on the run for reasons that take about 90 minutes to resolve. 

Doctors describe my status as “slow progressing/high functioning.”

(In fact, I saw my PCP yesterday after I’d started this and he declared I’m in otherwise excellent health. If only …)

I have a noticeable limp and watching me put on a jacket is like watching Houdini trying to escape from one. My left arm is basically useless. It just hangs there like salami in a deli window. I type one-handed with the same hand I once used to devastate a 5th grader spitter. 

They say exercise is a key to slowing symptoms. So, I work out at Planet Fitness about four times a week, but I find terribly boring. Perhaps I should set a goal of looking decent in a Speedo by spring, but that kind of vanity exercise would lead to too many drastic lifestyle changes and I’d miss my Tin Lizzy time spent keeping my body all soft and cuddly.

But experts say one of the best ways to fight symptom progression is to put on boxing gloves and get in the ring. One headline: “Punching Out Parkinson’s Symptoms: How Boxing Helps.”  The story says boxing helps Parkinson’s patients maintain higher levels of function and quality of life than those who engaged in other forms of exercise.

So for three months now I’ve been going once-a-week to Ground Zero martial arts academy on Latrobe’s Main Street. I like owner instructor Jeremy Kosicek in that he’ll spend 30 minutes teaching me how to fight and then spend the next 30 minutes philosophizing with me about the folly of living in a world where so many people are so eager to fight.

I’m very fond of him and thus feel sheepish about my eagerness to corrupt his admirably healthy lifestyle in favor of sitting, boozing and BSing with me in dark taverns, which remains my favorite pastime.

My sessions involve shadow boxing, footwork, balance, rhythm and hitting the heavy bags. It’s very invigorating.

He tells me I’m a natural and that he’ll soon have me ready to pound the crap out any surly assailant.

But it is an ego boost to hear I’m becoming skillful at the most manly of arts.

And the opponent I’d most like to clobber is the one that resides inside my own head. It is patient. Time is on its side. It will win.

It’s up to me to make the most of my time until the final rounds.

You should, of course, be doing the same.

Related …

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Contemplating crime while waiting to say goodbye to our friend Dave at the funeral home

I don’t know what it is about small town funerals that often leads me to think of committing crimes.

Happened yesterday at the visitation for our friend Dave Planinsek, 63. When someone like Dave dies — and there aren’t many like Dave — everyone stops what they’re doing and heads over to pay their respects. 

People stand in line for hours and think about what to say, how to comfort the family and if it’s too soon to call dibs on that fishing rod Dave’ll no longer be needing.

And while they’re thinking these mostly altruistic thoughts, I’m standing there thinking, “Man, now would be a dandy time to stick-up the bank.”

A bank heist would be a cinch when someone like Dave expires in a town like Latrobe. Everyone in town was there to mourn Dave so the rest of town was wide open.

I imagine me running into the empty bank, demanding money, and having the lone teller toss me the keys and saying, “Here you go. Lock up when you’re done,” as she runs out the door in the vain hopes of securing convenient parking.

Of course, there was no convenient parking at Dave’s visitation, thus fulfilling Use All The Crayons! colorful living tip no. 42:

Try and do something each and every day that’ll ensure parking at your funeral will be a real bitch.”

That’s how Dave lived. A retired agent with the state Department of Environmental Protection Agency, he and his wife Cindy are renown for hosting a spring fishing derby on their sylvan property. 

I’d see him every couple days at The Tin Lizzy and was always pleased when he’d sit next to me. The conversation was always insightful, interesting and always circled back to having fun. He’s the only guy I know who could talk for 30 minutes about wild mushrooms native to the Chestnut Ridge and be enlightening instead of excruciating.

Another great thing about Dave: I have no idea about his political leanings. 

If he was a Trump fan, I don’t recall him beating me over the head about it. Likewise, I don’t remember him pulling out a rainbow wig and sashaying around the bar when Megan Rapinoe scored for either the US of A or the LBGQ of T or whatever. 

I do know this: he was a law-and-order guy.

He loved his family, country, the outdoors and people who rolled up their sleeves and worked hard to better his community. 

He was contemptuous of those who felt entitled, those who cut corners, those who felt the rules didn’t apply to them.

So on the day we said goodbye to Dave, Dave would have disdained me.

Because I did something worse than rob a bank.

I cut the line at the funeral home.

I know. It’s the kind of brazen act that could lead to a horizontal sort of visit to that very funeral home.

But the line was so, so, long and the smiling stranger had run out of flattering things to say to me. She’d overheard me talking to some friends and pieced together I’d written the Arnold Palmer book.

“It’s the best book I’ve ever read,” she said with sweet sincerity. I love to hear things like that and am always happy my wife’s not around to logically ask how many books she’s read, if that includes the Bible, and if I’d paid her to say the heresy out loud.

But the line wasn’t moving and the conversation lapsed. Plus, I had to pick up my daughter at the middle school. I’d stood in line for an hour and still had at least another 30 minutes to get to Dave and his grieving family.

I told my friend and he offered an illicit suggestion: Cheat.

“Just skip through that door, down the hall and into the main room.”

He said I could get essential family credit, by just popping in the casket room, signing the book and being seen by the family. From across the room, I could offer a reassuring smile and a solemn nod that says, “I’m here. It’s gonna be okay. Everything’s gonna be fine. Did I mention, ‘I’m here?’”

So what did I do?

What do you think. I took the easy way out! Because t
he easy way isn’t always the right way, but it’s always easy and sometimes that’s all right.

I feel bad I didn’t get to say a proper goodbye to a good, kind man whose manner and ethic brightened so many of our lives.

But to be honest I don’t feel that bad.

I’ll instead treasure all those hellos.

Related …

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Looking back: Best tweets of '19

I’m obsessive about tending these wildly excessive Tweet lists because I suspect I’ll one day mine them for another “Crayons!” book update. But I have to be honest, I don’t know which I’d rather avoid more: Having to assemble the list or having to read it …

 • It could be damaging to a woman's reputation if she gets off on too many tangents with too many tan gents.

• It should be in the Constitution that nobody should be allowed to hold elective office unless he or she can prove they once held a job that required them to wear a name tag.

• Optimists understand phrase "familiarity breeds contempt" is not absolute. Often is the case that familiarity breeds family.

• I’d like to see how a Geiger counter reacts if you take one to a Geiger family reunion.

• I’m intelligent enough to appreciate the contradiction of being a man who fancies himself an intellectual while simultaneously becoming furious at the failure to successfully complete the marshmallow maze on the back of the Lucky Charms cereal box.

• I find some lies too soul-enriching to resist. For instance: Carly Simon told me I was the inspiration for her hit, "Nobody Does It Better." But that's not a lie. It really happened. It did! Right @CarlySimonHQ? Right?

• Teaching your children to seek out the insights of interesting people is easy. The challenge is teaching them that EVERY person is in some way interesting.

• I’m on the verge of proving once and for all my office plants are talking to one another. But every time I get close enough to record the conversation the bully ficus says, "Shut up! Here he comes again!" I'll not rest until I get conclusive evidence. Won't work either.

• I remember seeing a story that asked prominent writers to name works they wish they'd written. Answers included "To Kill a Mockingbird," "Grapes of Wrath," etc. Me? I wish I'd coined the phrase "Butt dial.”

• Astronomers calculate Earth is 92,960,000 miles from the sun. I stepped outside today and I swear it feels more like 92,960,002.

• I vow to continue saying 'Happy New Year!' right up thru July 5 when it'll once again become seasonally appropriate to resume saying, "Merry Christmas!”

• I hate it when I fake a mild cold to get out of some petty obligation and people look and me and say, "Yeah, you look terrible! I'll call 911. There's something really wrong with you. You oughta be quarantined! Medic! Medic!" Makes me sick.

• Just because I think it would be super fun to mess with 'em, I'm thinking of sending the SuperMax warden a sexy Rita Hayworth poster and asking him to give it to El Chapo.

• On this chilly winter day I just saw a man at the bus stop wearing nothing but a  musical bellows. He was dressed accordioningly.

• The American Flag: Three colors, countless threads.

• Huge faux pas with a friend I hadn't seen in years. Asked when the baby was due. So embarrassing. Not sure Burt'll ever speak to me again.

• What would happen to the criminal justice system if it was declared that from now on a "jury of our peers" was comprised entirely of the cheerful lunatics drawn from "The Price Is Right" studio audience?

• I’m going to name our next dog "Gusto" so I can spend my days lounging on my couch drinking beer and still contend I'm living with Gusto.

• My daughter, HS senior, is assigned a story on the best person in history. She asked my opinion. I told her Jesus Christ and August Anheuser Busch Sr. were too obvious. Best person in history? Jonas Salk.

• I hate it when my foot falls asleep and the stubborn rest of me refuses to take the hint.

• There are evident novelty advantages to riding a magic carpet, but until they provide some necessary lumbar support the concept will always be flawed.

• We live in a time when being right or being wrong matters less than always having someone to blame when it all goes to hell.

• Many of the people who are opposed to building physical walls along the Mexican border are more than happy to construct truly ugly mental ones between themselves and the neighbors they see every day.

• Who wants to bet that once/if we get to heaven, one of the most popular rec spots is a combo zoo/waterpark run by the Biblical Noah?

• Time, it is said with admiring wonder, can heal all wounds, a statement that seems to bestow time with god-like powers. Oh, yeah? I'd like to see time fix a busted watch.

• My wife is an editor. I am a writer. When I asked her to turn my comma into an exclamation point, she corrected me.

• With your typical polygamist, it's the more the marry-her.

• Momentarily wondered if Don Cheadle was nominated or had won before realizing my folly. Cheadles never win. 

• The best prosthetic salesmen and women are blessed with disarming personalities.

• Many men experience what is known as a mid-life crisis at about age 50. Math question: In heaven our souls are supposed to live for eternity. If there's such a thing as a mid-Afterlife crisis, when would it strike?

•  I’ve never once heard someone say, "I'm not a racist, but ..." without following up with something unbelievably racist. It would be like me saying, "Now, I'm not lazy ..." and immediately taking a nap.

• I may be wrong, but I have to believe there's at least one impostor '80's tribute band out there performing under the name, "Huey Lewis & The Fake News.”

• I used to dream I would become a great writer. And I ofter hear from readers who declare I am, indeed, a great writer. Advice to aspiring writers: Dream not of becoming a great writer. Instead dream of becoming a successful writer. 

• Questions I'm glad I never felt compelled to ask Arnold Palmer: "So what's Michael Jackson really like?”

• "Use All The Crayons!" Colorful Living tip no. 973: "Spend a weekend willing yourself to blink more slowly. That way you’ll be better prepared to savor all the wonders everyone says go by in the blink of an eye.”

• As a student of history, I'm aware man has throughout time gone to war over land, women, pride, minerals and all manner of perceived injustice. As a student of breakfast, I am confounded man has yet to feel a need to go to war over bacon.

• My understanding of human nature tells me that many of the people striving to get to the land of milk and honey will once they arrive immediately begin complaining everything is too sticky.

• Proof of our collective child-raising failure is apparent in that if you ask 100 children what he or she would like to be when they grow up, not one will say, "I just want to be happy!”

• Because the angry word has the potential to be useful during this time of so much neighborly hostility, I propose today every one tries to create a situation where it makes perfect sense to shout "Nottafinga!" at someone with whom you disagree.

• Negative: Projections indicate entire planet will soon be 20-feet deep in discarded styrofoam. Positive: Airplane crash fatalities will be reduced to zero.

• Because it could make for riveting TV, I hope to one day hear a talk host announce to a panel of windy blabbermouths, "A landmark study reveals conclusively that the fewer words a person says on TV talk shows the more likely that they're a bonafide genius. Discuss.”

• The older I get the more appreciative I become of the wisdom of one old bartender who said, "Kid, count yourself lucky if the people who say they like you actually like you and the people who say they love you at least put up with all your bullshit.”

• Which seems sillier: a child believing in Santa Claus or an adult believing that Jesus Christ, a man whose ancestors were uniformly Middle Easterners, was a lily white dude. And would it hurt your faith if scholars revealed Jesus looked more like bin Laden than Ryan Seacrest?

• Pundits saying Trump entitled to a victory lap; Fitness experts advise he take it on a very short track.

• How much more challenging would it be for Christian believers to convince skeptics about the Resurrection if Scripture said it happened on April 1?

• How come I can eat 50 regular Peeps in one sitting, but the thought of sitting down to eat a steak-sized Peep turns my stomach?

• It's good to know your limits in life. It's better to high-five them as you sail right on past. 

• Yes, I'm aware that Sing Sing is a maximum security prison that incarcerates many of New York's most vicious cut throats, but every time I hear Sing Sing I convince myself that Sing Sing is populated entirely by wrongly convicted Muppets.

• The word "astute" means shrewd or mentally sharp. Had the people who coined a word that's pronounced ass-TOOT been shrewd or mentally sharp then astute would mean something entirely different.

• How did cavemen and women get around that whole no-doors thingie when they wanted to tell a good prehistoric knock-knock joke?

• My jokes must not be very funny. I told one to some linked steel and didn't get any chain reaction.

• Problem: plastics clogging the ocean; fish eat the plastics and we eat the fish. This may sound naive, but is anyone looking into the possibilities of making plastic out of fish food?

• The concept may sound difficult to grasp, but there once was a time before anyone, anywhere had ever pointed out there's a first time for everything.

• Spring is when Mother Nature puts on her make-up!

• The problem for many of us is that every time our careers seem to turn a real corner the first thing we see down the road is another real corner.

• Bad news: plastic waste clogging the oceans. Good news: Airfare to Europe will plummet as money-minded tourists increasingly opt to drive.

• It doesn’t happen often, but I’m not ungrateful when a man or woman hands me a breath mint. My fear is how I’ll react when one day some stranger trying to be helpful says, "Psst, try this.” And hands me a stick of Old Spice.

• What do they call earthquakes on other planets?

• Little known fact: Prior to construction of the 859-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral, the Parisian location was the site of the first French McDonald’s.

• The phrase “You only live once!” is pure fraud. In fact, you only die once. You’re graced with the option to live every single day.

• I consider it yet another degradation of once-proud men, but I'm upset how what I once called "the family jewels" somehow became "my junk." From jewels to junk in three short decades. SAD!

• It’s a triumph of Biblical marketing that the day known for the cruel beating and bloody crucifixion of the holy man many of us consider to be our Savior is called "Good" Friday. I wonder what Jesus calls it.

• I don't teach my kids how to live. I live and let them watch (so far, so good). 

• My favorite part of the #NFLDraft is watching Roger Goodell excessively celebrate with players who he'll in just five months begin to fine for excessive celebrations.

• The assumption may be based on a flawed premise, but I have to believe if Moses had had to deal with fan selfie demands today we'd only be concerned with The Five Commandments.

• Agoraphobia is the fear of crowded places. I suffer from a-bore-aphobia, a fear of places crowded with dull people.

• Call me crazy, but the first chef to put a credible "Italian Hoagie Soup" on the menu is going to make a fortune.

• I have to think it depresses shoe factory morale that maybe a quarter of the employees report to a department under a sign that reads “HEELS.”

• Bible says our bodies are temples. On Friday nights, mine is more like a honky tonk. Some beer's been spilled, some of the furniture is busted & it smells kinda funny. But the folks are friendly, the peanuts are free and the good music never ends.

• The older I get the more convinced I become that the whole sum of life is equivalent to the pointless milling about we do for the 3 or 4 hours we have to kill until the front desk tells us our room is ready.

• I admire spouses who pull off the physically contradictory trick of standing beside someone who is flat on the floor.

• I’ve back-burnered so many important projects my fears are the stove will soon catch fire and I'll be unable to recognize the blaze as a priority before it consumes the whole building.

• Weed” is today a $55 billion business. "Weed" is cultivated, sheltered, nurtured and cared for more lovingly than some rare orchids. My point: Nothing about "weed" suggests weed so let's all stop calling "weed" weed.

• It flips language logic on its head, but being self-employed ain't working for me.

• How did the phrase "pigeon hole" ever evolve into such common usage when I know of not one person who can affirm they are familiar with even one pigeon's hole?

• It is my contention that one of the most devastating aspects of climate change -- catastrophic rise in sea levels -- could be eliminated if all these massive water displacing cargo ships were simultaneously removed from the water. 

• Spent yesterday seeking to confirm intimacy studies that contend 90 percent of adult men/women enjoy being hugged. My results were exact opposite. People were furious at my cheerful embrace. I'll try again today but with a slightly different approach. Today I'm wearing pants!

• The only thing that today exceeds our national inarticulateness is the number of megaphones possessed by all those who have nothing to say.

• If an affluent person is well-to-do, does that make me well-to-don’t?

• The biggest difference between men and women is women look in the mirror and see flaws ... no one else can detect. Men look in those same mirrors and see perfection ... no one else can detect.

• The people who think writing is easy are the same ones who think reading is hard. Trying to explain to them the value of books is like trying to explain to fish the value of air.

• I wonder what kind of pushy sales tactics a prosthetic salesman would have to produce to end the month up in arms.

• Mother Teresa came from a large family with three sisters, all of whom had large families themselves.
Q: Did her nieces/nephews call her Aunt Mother Teresa? Aunt Teresa?

• Worry not about being popular today. Worry instead about being yourself EVERYDAY and you'll soon appreciate the meaninglessness of popularity.

• If you were following yourself in a car how many times a day would you give yourself the finger?

• People getting all worked up over White House orders the Navy cover USS John McCain identifiers with tarps. Big whoop. I'm preserving my outrage for when White House orders the McCain sunk.

• Fear not death. Fear instead the death-bed realization that you never really lived. Insinuate yourself into enough hearts and you won’t just live to be 100. You’ll live forever.

• I agree with the shrill MAGA voices who say in America today minorities need to “know their place.” Well, my dark-skinned brothers and sisters, your place is right beside me. Unfortunately for both of us, we’re both way back in line behind a bunch of much richer white guys.

• Those who rest assured digital will replace print can take heart that when we see the writing on the wall it's still writing on the wall.

• When you break it all down, life is about deciding if you'd rather walk in someone else's shoes or seize them by their throats. Most bowlers choose the former. 

• Last night, it almost happened. My self-betrayal was nearly complete. I almost used the word "amazeballs" in a sentence.

• Otherwise great Chincoteague beach vacation marred only by incident initiated when kids asked if they could bury me in sand. Sure. I'm game. But when they had me completely immobilized, the little bastards stole my shoes & wallet. I should've known better. They weren't my kids.

• Family opted to sleep in on last day of beach vacation rather than get up early to see sun rise. I can't blame them. Popularity of watching sun rise will increase when it doesn't involve getting up at the crack of dawn.

• Trends in population increase coupled with saturation electronic device usage convinces me one day soon we'll all become our own area codes.

• I’m not necessarily opposed to buying settled nations, but the bargain shopper in me figures we could get at least a dozen shit hole countries for the price of one Greenland.

• I believe 50 percent of the women and 80 percent of the men we encounter in our daily lives are simply older, less cheerful versions of the juvenile spastic morons we all were in high school. Proceed accordingly.

• Thinking of re-writing my history to say the reason I'm not more successful is I made a conscious decision in 2000 to de-prioritize income to be a stay-at-home Dad. Now if I can only convince wife, 2 daughters and dozens of eyewitness bartenders to back me up …

• Love going to the county fair to visit the rabbit exhibit and sing, ”Cannnn any BUNNY find meeee some BUNNY to love? Some BUNNY! Some bunny! Some BUNNY! Find me some BUNNY to love!”

• Call me a snob, but I'll always prefer eating at restaurants that sell me food that gives me gas to places that offer food and sell me gas.

• Someone letting the cat out of the bag will become more impactful to me as soon as I start seeing more instances of bagged cats.

• I was 50 years old before it finally began to sink in that, gee, I was drunk wouldn't cut it as an excuse for showing up in church nude.

• For future reference, it's unnecessary for you to say, "Have fun!" after asking where I'm going or what I'm doing. Look, if it ain't fun I ain't going.

• It may be a vast over-simplication, but couldn’t global warming be eased if we simply moved Earth farther from the sun? I think if we synchronized our pushups on one side of the globe while everyone on the other side jumped up in the air …

• Do Flat Earthers believe there are upside down people on the flip side or that it's just a bunch of roots and shit?

• I’ve never experienced love at first sight, but 5 or 6 times a day I'll catch the eye of some stranger and know -- just know -- we're destined to become drinking buddies.
• A clear, sharp mind is a brute impediment to enjoying so much of life's wonder and whimsy. I'm glad that's not one of my problems.

• Proper grammar is the math of writing.

• You’d have to think Danish Haz-Mat teams would eventually lose their edge from responding to too many there's-something-rotten-in-Denmark false alarms.

• As monumental they were as a band, they couldn't have come up with a more fraudulent name. The never toured, never gigged a local bar. Hell, they never left the studio. Traveling Wilburys? Right. They were the Stationary Wilburys.

• It doesn't exactly equate to a Rosa Parks moment, but if I were a person of color I'd ask the podiatrist to think up another less Caucasian-sounding name for my littlest brown toe instead of “pinky."

• When I'm drinkin' dahntahn, I like a place with fries and slaw on the bread, HOF Stiller jerseys on the wall, etc. I want the full yinzer. Yes, I want n’atmosphere.

• I wonder if he ever went through a serious phase and told folks he was now going by Bill Wonka.

• I wonder if there was any confusion in the Swingin' '70s when Evel Knievel approached a pretty girl and asked if she'd let him jump her bones.

• The literalist in me becomes furious whenever he visits the National Museum of Air & Space and sees a building with walls and ceilings.

• That which does not kill you only makes you stronger and if this process is repeated enough eventually age and time combine to make you so frail you can die in your kitchen tripping over a kitten.

• From a purely fashion sense, is it accurate to refer to Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud as the "crown" prince of Saudi Arabia when his head gear appears to be some form of hanky?

• Because most people only listen to 50 percent of what we're saying, I try and omit every other word so theoretically I'll have their full attention.

• Being "left to their own devices," once a stinging form of social abandonment, is now the preferred human activity.

• I admit to feelings of wistfulness over not having sired a son. These feelings pass when I realize a son would by now be asking me, "Daddy, would you help me secure my man bun?" And to my everlasting shame I'd feel obliged to assist.

• Halloween is the season when fundamentalists question the propriety of so much pagan idolatry. It's also the season when I question how come the words "evil" and "devil" don't rhyme.

• NASA probes continue to scan the cosmos for evidence of planets with life-sustaining water. Life-sustaining? Listen, I'm not going anywhere until they find a planet with life-sustaining pizza.

• I’m vowing my next book will be a hand’s-on guide to adhesives full of sticky samples so every honest review would have to say, "Couldn't put it down!”

  • This is the time of year when the most avid baseball fans brag to other baseball fans they were able to stay awake for an entire baseball game. 

• Because I remain an optimist about my longevity,  I will henceforth list my age with a prefacing zero: i.e., 056.

• Who won Game 7? Don't tell me! I'm such a baseball fan I always tape the last game and watch 2 pitches a night until spring training. Let's go ‘stros!

• My aim is not to be controversial and please don't read too much into this, but I feel compelled to point out the simple truth: cat naps are for pussies.

Chang and Eng (Siamese twins), originators of the #MeTwo Movement.

• On this day we as a nation should vow to never say Happy Veteran's Day until we're certain we've done everything we can to ensure every veteran is happy. 

• How different would rock and comedy histories be if instead of John of The Beatles, Yoko had fallen for Moe of The Stooges.

• I wonder if parents of children named Hunter are disappointed if Hunter grows up to be vegan, and if vegan parents have ever dared a statement name by calling a child Gatherer.

• I wonder what they told instead of knock-knock jokes before the advent of doors.

• I remain naive in the ways of high finance, but aren't most trust funds really don't-trust funds?

• I for years referred to myself as a struggling writer. I now realize that's wrong. Writing's never been a struggle. What am I? I'm a struggling earner. I'm sure many of you can relate.

• It’s borderline sacrilegious but I request you include in your Thanksgiving blessing a prayer that God mention to Tom Petty that we really miss him.

• I’ve decided to call my next book, "The Big Book of Thanks to Everyone Who's Supported, Cheered & Encouraged the Release of My Self-Published Fred/Latrobe Book," and it's going to be 14,001 pages long. #gratitude

• Bible says my body is a temple. Could it still be so if it's absent of any devoted worshippers?

• Q: What does it mean when you hear, "Hoot! Hoot!" coming from a nearby tree this time of year? 
A: Owl be home for Christmas.

• Knock knock.
Who's there?
Javier who?
Javier-self a Merry little Christmas!

• Back when I was growing up, a love triangle was typically scandalous behavior between a trio of consenting adults. Times change. People are less coy about their gender identities and promiscuities. Isn't it about time someone started a love rhombus?

• I’m putting together a troupe of tiny side-burned toymakers to head to Vegas and sing, "Jailhouse Rock," "Burnin' Love," etc. "Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Elves Presley!”

• All you fun gals beware: You're all just one missed tap of the spacebar away from being fungal.

• I contend the story of the Christ birth would be impossible today because we'd be hard pressed to find in the entire world three wise men.

• All my life I've never had a pot to piss in. Never cared. I wonder if I'd be more ambitious if I didn't live in the woods.

• Reading a real newspaper is like an intellectual stroll through a garden where you pause to hear interesting people tell you their stories. Reading most anything on-line, with all the pop-up ads/links/click bait, is like being forced to run an obstacle course. You're harried, distracted and end up wondering if it was worth all the aggravation.

• In striving to be all inclusive and non-confrontational during the War on Christmas I will henceforth wish people a Happy ALLidays. I want people of ALL beliefs to enjoy ALL holidays. Happy ALLidays!

• The greatest public misnomer involves announcers addressing crowds at things like NFL games as "Ladies and gentlemen." At any game of about 60,000 fans, there are probably no more than 120 ladies and 50 true gents. If they cared at all about accuracy, they'd say, "Welcome bitches, dudes and garden variety blowhards!”

• Reading is maybe the one passion that’ll ensure you’ll never need friends while assuring you’ll always have as many friends as you wish.

And with that, I thank you all, my friends, for reading, sharing and buying my books. May 2020 bring you all joy, prosperity and the time and soulful motivation to help those who have neither.

Happy New Year!

Chris R.