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Friday, May 31, 2013

Tweets of the Month


Does it diminish some of the magic if I confess I sometimes re-run evergreen tweets from 8days2amish? I hope not.

It’s just I consider my twitter account different from your typical one. With the exception of my own blog notifications, I rarely re-post other tweets or link to stories or pictures you might find interesting. I don’t think you need more of that.

I prefer to think of my twitter feed like I’m dispensing fortune cookies without the cookie.

So every once in a while I cull the herd and re-post something I think is amusing or thought-provoking. Just thought you should know.

I think May was a nice run and it included what I think is one of my best tweets ever. That was this one:

“If marriage is so great then how come God’s still single?”

Do you agree? If yes, just think really, really hard and we’ll communicate telepathically.



•I humbly try and include at least one deliberate typo in everything I write lest people think I'm too perfict.

• I’m so pretentiously self-important my voice mail ends with, “If this is a real emergency please call 911.” Like others call me to schedule surgery.

• I'm inexperienced in either endeavor, but I imagine a tame goose chase would be just as exhilarating as a wild one.

• It bugs me that more than one cactus is cacti when by all logic it should at least be cactwo.

• Being in the presence of friends so good that conversation is unnecessary is calmeraderie.

• If Jeremiah was, indeed, a bullfrog, who drove him to the liquor store to get his mighty fine wine? So much of the story remains untold.

• Do sober people who are on the wagon fight over who gets to be the wagon's designated driver?

• Must be tough for peg-leg pirate captains to be taken seriously when they say they’re really going to put their foot down.

• Aggressive stationary salesmen are always pushing the envelope.

• If people who revere the Grateful Dead are called “Deadheads,” what does that make those of us who revere “Moby Dick?”

• NY Jets owner Woody Johnson has the greatest unintentional porn name since Andy Roddick.

• Imagine the promotional bonanza if '70s pop icon Meatloaf was wrong and there really was a Coupe de Ville hidden at the bottom of a Crackerjack box.

• Don Cheadle was nominated for a 2004 Oscar for his role in "Hotel Rwanda" I love Cheadle but he didn't stand chance. Cheadles never win.

• I abhor gun violence, but any armed woman should be able to shoot any man wearing an "If you can read this, the bitch fell off" t-shirt.

• I’m always at a loss for words whenever I take the dog out and he looks up at me like I’m supposed to congratulate him when he craps.

• A hyphen-nation is a land to which grammarians will likely dash.


Related . . .


Thursday, May 30, 2013

"Piranhaconda!" on Copperhead Road


I was ensconced in the basement watching the Pirates pull some more late inning heroics to beat the Detroit Tigers 5-3.

Raise the Jolly Roger!

It was about the fourth inning when our stupid little yip dog began reacting like someone had jammed a lit firecracker straight up his tiny pink pucker.

Later, I asked Val what the commotion was all about.

“A motorcyclist had run over a big snake,” she said, adding that he’d stopped to tell our neighbor who’d been out with her dog. She stopped by to tell us.

Turns out the street named Solomon Temple had momentarily become Copperhead Road.

The news has me thinking about petitioning the township on behalf of the name change.

Solomon Temple is a name that implies Biblical wisdom and religious structure, both of which appear to be nonexistent along our three-mile stretch of hillbilly highway.

Saying I lived on Copperhead Road would be very, very cool. The 1988 Steve Earle song is one of my favorites and Earle could kick the old Hebrew King’s wise ass.

“She said it was a really big snake -- a copperhead -- and it slithered straight into our yard.”

I looked out the window and didn’t see any really big snakes. Of course, my idea of a “really big snake” had changed practically overnight. Just Monday I’d watched about an hour of the SyFy Channel production “Piranhaconda!”

I’ve become an absolute sucker for these campy SyFy thrillers that often combine two fearsome predicators into one gigantic mutation with an insatiable appetite for under-dressed young lovelies. 

Besides “Piranhaconda!” the channel has given us equally compelling features based on killer mutants like “Sharktopus!” “Mansquito!” and “Dinocroc!” There's even a "Sharknado!" which I one day to give what I guess you'd call a whirl.

And here you’ve been wasting all your time watching bug sex on the National Geographic Channel.

By coincidence, I’d DVRd “Piranhaconda!” because I figured Val would enjoy it. 

Later that night, long after the kids had gone to bed, I showed my sweetheart just what a really big snake really looks like.

And, yes, consider me flattered if that last phrase had any of jumping to the conclusion that we reveled in a night of romance. But I can’t hold a candle to the p-conda.

Heck, I can’t hold flamethrower to one, and flamethrower was one of the weapons its feckless attackers used in vain to try and destroy it.

Piranhaconda is about the size of a 12-car locomotive, only a locomotive that can swim and raise its enormous head 30-feet in the air. The colossal critter’s mouth is  a garden fence of razor-sharp teeth.

It doesn’t so much as kill its victims as it does vaporize them. You see it strike and then a puff of red mist appears in the air where screaming morons had previously stood. Sometimes for dramatic effect the cameras will show a bloody foot descending from on high in slow motion.

Piranhaconda seems to target artificially-enhanced anorexics. In fact, I spent a good deal of the movie trying to discern whether it prefers devouring people or breast implants and is too hungry to bother separating one from the other, or others, be as it were. 

In between all the cartoon gore is some of the most deliberately ham-fisted acting this side of the late Leslie Nielsen. Every actor is an over-the-top caricature of some vapid stereotype. There’s the nerd, the bubble-headed bleach blond, the surfer dude, etc.

Val said it was like watching cheap porn without the sex.

I was shocked to see that two of the actors were people I’d heard of. One was Michael Madsen, famous for roles in “Reservoir Dogs,” and “Kill Bill.” The other was Rachel Hunter, famous for rolls with her ex-husband, singer Rod Stewart.

Their appearances have me hoping there’ll be some celebrity cache to appearing in the films and soon we’ll see Ben Kingsley and Meryl Streep in some future production about the unholy mingling of giraffes and kangaroos: “Giraffaroo!”

What’s odd is the sci-fi films are helping me overcome some very real world fears of my own. Like snakes, for instance.

I hate ‘em. I love living in the woods, but used to be paralyzed by fear knowing that my dainty loved ones and I have to share the habitat with things like copperheads and rattlers.

No more.

If confronted by a coiled copperhead in our woods, I’ll glare at it and say, “Ha! You call yourself a snake! Well, let me show you a real snake!”

And, no, I won’t be dropping my pants. Not on your life.

Not as long as my DVR still has a clip that shows Piranhaconda, the fish/snake hybrid that humbles all it doesn’t devour.



Related . . .


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

How come there isn't a Mrs. God?


If marriage is so great how come God’s still single?

I have a single friend who lives in New York City, has a good job and a swanky apartment. He enjoys the theater, eating out and is something of a wine connoisseur. He dates around, but he’s never married. He’s what matchmaker females refer to as a “good catch.”

But, man, he’s no God.

He’s not even Derek Jeter.

You have to wonder why by now there’s not a Mrs. God.

If God can’t endure a truly holy matrimony how on earth are the rest of us ever supposed to?

I come to this question as one of those guys who believes he is in a splendid marriage even on days when I do things that convince me my own poor wife is in a rotten one.

I play a lot of golf, attend baseball games and spend hour after sudsy hour in the tavern with my friends where I wonder aloud what it would be like if I had a real job or at least spent a slim part of my day learning how to master things like the ability to tile a bathroom floor.

There are many, many days when, I’m sure, she’d exchange me -- an underemployed blogger/author/worm farmer -- for any guy with a steady paycheck and trusty grout trowel.

I don’t know how she does it without any apparent pharmaceutical crutch.

Maybe I should make her submit to a drug test.

I like marriage and I love my wife. Yet, I’m honest enough to appreciate inherent flaws in both myself and the institution of marriage -- all the while being aware enough to avoid even hinting my darling wife is in the least bit flawed.

So let’s not regard any of the following through my own matrimonial prism. And, note, that’s matrimonial prism.

Not matrimonial prison.

My point is, just imagine what kind of guy I’d be without a spousal governor there to regulate my god-given penchant for misbehavior. Mismatched socks, mustard stained shirts and monthly penicillin shots would be just the tip of the illicit iceberg.

I’ve for 16 years been a husband who at least tries, a man who’s mindful of his obligations and what’s expected of him, a man eager to prove to his wife he “gets it.”

Example: When I hear her walking into the room where I’m watching television I reflexively stand up before she gets there, hoping the motion will confuse her into thinking I’ve either just completed a task or else am about to engage one.

I’ve always said a long marriage is a terrific antidote to excessive ego. This might be helpful to the Creator who must at least once in a while find Himself smiling in the mirror and saying, “Hey, you’re God!”

Sure, most of us can agree God is great, God is good, but is there a chance he’d be greater -- gooder -- with a good wife behind Him keeping him on his divine toes.

We’re taught in Sunday school that God created heaven and earth in six days and on the seventh day He rested.

Racial hatreds, famine, unanswered prayers for justice -- judging by the state of the world, it often seems like He’s still on the couch with the clicker in His hand.

Maybe that’s part of the problem. We’re told man was created in His image.

We males often act like we were created solely in the image of God Day VII, the one at rest.

And if marriage is so important to God, then why didn’t He ordain Jesus get hitched?

Image how different history would be if the widow Jesus had carried on his name and mission. But marriage was not in the cards for Christ.

Instead, we’re left with an entirely contradictory example. When it came to marital matters, what did Jesus do?

He hung with hookers! Many reputable Biblical scholars contend Mary Magdalene was a repentant prostitute. Understanding the tenets of forgiveness and holy redemption, the scold in me still is left wondering, geez, what kind of example is that?

Having the two preeminent religious figures from the Bible be inexperienced with the primary human relationship is about as absurd as having a major faith be run exclusively by mostly old white men who’ve vowed to never marry or have sex.

Bad example.

So maybe it’s time the busybodies who can’t stand to see an eligible gent left to enjoy himself task themselves with finding God a suitable match, someone who will ensure He’s more attentive to all the pressing family duties.

As we’re all God’s children, it’s something in which we all have a considerable stake.

We could all use a little more quality time with the old man.



Related . . .




Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day thots on war & best war movie


Being born with a philosophical bent, I spend a good deal of time wrestling with the great questions of the ages.

“Why are we here?” “What happens to us when we die?” And, “If God created heaven and earth, who created God?”

Those are all topics for another day.

Today, Memorial Day, I think I have an answer to a question that has puzzled great thinkers since it was first posed in 1970. The question?

“War: What is it good for?”

After much soul-searching I’ve come up with an answer. It is as follows:

Without war, there would be no great war movies.

I understand my answer is unlikely to salve the wounds of the veterans and widows for whom today means so much more than a traditional basic cable war movie feast.

I know of very few males, the gender primarily responsible for launching and fighting wars, for whom war movies do not resonate.

I wonder if the two are related.

But I know many men who today will be tuned in to watch, “Patton,” “The Guns of Navarone,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Longest Day,” and other epic films based on man’s inhumanity to man.

I think it’s because most men wonder how we’d react under fire. Would we flee or advance?  Would we respond like our fathers did?

In my case, the answer is probably yes.

Like many descendants of The Greatest Generation, I come from military stalk. The declaration seems to be bestow me with reflected glory.

My Dad served. He stood on the bright line that helped save the world from tyranny.

Did he storm the beaches at Normandy? No.

Dad was a U.S. Navy chaplain’s assistant.

The only less hazardous military title I can imagine is Army Pillow Tester.

He had no war stories about heroics. In fact, my favorite war story of his was the one he told about he was waiting to board the U.S Pocono to be shipped off to the Pacific on August 7, 1945, when someone told him we’d dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.

Dad’s question: “What’s an atom bomb?”

Military historians will argue the ethics of the point, but the atom bomb forced a swift Japanese surrender and likely saved the lives of my father and millions of others who would have perished invading an entrenched and motivated Japan.

We naturally tend today to memorialize only of the ones who fought on the front lines, the wounded and dead. In fact, the original intent of Memorial Day was the memorialize those killed in action. It has somehow morphed into an omnibus military appreciation day and I’m cool with that.

I tend to believe heroics are often the result of circumstance.

In that regard, I’m like the protagonist of what to me is the greatest war movie ever made, a war movie that shows not a single gun being fired and the only notable death is unseen, but merely mentioned in a letter read aloud.

It’s “Mister Roberts.”

The 1955 John Ford movie stars Henry Fonda as beleaguered Lt. Doug Roberts, the executive officer aboard the cargo supply ship Reluctant.

Roberts itches for action, but so excels at his mundane duties that his tyrannical captain, played by James Cagney, won’t approve his repeated requests for front line transfer.

In the end, his beloved crew secretly rigs the transfer and Roberts is thrust into combat.

The movie concludes with the bored crew getting two letters from Roberts’s new ship: the first is from Roberts who relates how his destroyer is in the thick of the action near Okinawa. 

In hindsight, he has an epiphany about his old shipmates and that the “unseen enemy of this terrible war is the boredom that eventually becomes a faith and, therefore, a terrible sort of suicide. I know now that the ones who refuse to surrender to it are the strongest of all.”

The second letter is from one of Roberts’s shipmates. It conveys Roberts was killed in a below-decks kamikaze strike. He was drinking coffee and never saw it coming.

Just another example of a sad, useless death in war’s grim ledger.

But, geez, it makes for one hell of a movie.



Related . . .



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Memorial Day re-run: A few good men & women



Tomorrow's post will be about great war movies. Sort of. Today's is a re-run from Memorial Day 2009.


On Memorial Day, I advise people to either thank a veteran or go right out and enlist.

I always opt to thank the vet.

I think I would be a terrific peacetime soldier, which is not unlike being a spouse in a productive marriage. Sure, there’s a lot of bitching and petty gripes, but the GIs realize we’re working for a greater good and soldier on. Adding kids to the equation makes the family unit like boot camp where the parents are the drill instructors and the young ‘uns are the green recruits.

And I think I’m good in that role, as is my wife, Col. Valerie.

But none of us can predict how we’d react under fire. Would I be hero or coward? I can’t handle the truth.

Like a lot of men, I’d like to be tested but I never felt the situational urge to put on the uniform like so many others have done.

I think I and the nation are weaker for it. I’m sure I could have benefited from a couple of years of service right out of high school. Imagine what kind of shape the country would be in if, instead of going straight to the college bars, guys like me had been conscripted to spend 18 months in the service of our country.

And I’m not even talking about overseas duty in hostile lands. I mean if at 18 we’d have done some basic boot camp and been dispersed to clean up the ghettos, to dig sewage projects in the Appalachians, or help distribute food and friendly company to the elderly.

It would have instilled a sense of national morality and the too often alien notion of what it feels like to do good for strangers.

But to enlist with the understanding that enemy fire will be trained on you takes another breed.

I like to think I’m like Albert Einstein -- and I doubt he’d ever reciprocate in any fashion -- in that we’re both what he called “rational pacifists.”

We don’t want to kill anybody. We believe reason can usually prevail and that war should be the last, least welcome option.

Rational pacifists saw sound reasons to engage in bloody all-out war with Hitler and the Taliban. We didn’t see it in the buildup to war with Iraq. She’s mangling her defense of it but clearly someone was lying to Nancy Pelosi right along with the rest of us.

Yet, even in a war that many of us felt was misguided, hundreds of thousands of men and women, many righteously motivated by the attacks of 9/11, lined up to serve because they believe it’s their sacred duty.

The surfer dudes have practically neutered the powerful word’s original impact but, man, that’s awesome.

A few years ago I was once golfing with friends on Memorial Day and admitted to feeling sheepish that there we were skipping along in the sunshine, enjoying our favorite pastime, some beers and giggles, while men and women not too different from us were hunkered down in boiling bunkers in places like Baqubah and Jalalabad.

Despite being mired in two difficult wars, there was no homefront hardships in our little world.

My buddy Ronnie, himself an Army vet who’d served in Korea, gave a poignant response masked in a cheerful smile: “Hey, this is what they want us to be doing. This is why they serve.”

Well, that made me feel even more unworthy.

So those are some Memorial Day options for you to consider amidst the barbecue and the beers.

Either thank a vet or climb out of your lawn chair and go enlist.

Me, I think I’ll call Ronnie up and see if he wants to go golfing this week.

Guys like him are too humble to accept my thanks for what they’ve done on behalf of my country. It’s no big deal, they say.

That’s too bad.

It means I’ll probably have to give him strokes.

Alas, that’ll be the sad extent of my sacrifice on this Memorial Day.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Happy birthday to Bob Dylan & my blog!


You’re probably unaware of the vanity, but for the past two years this blog has been lying about its age.

It says it’s younger than it really is.

By one day.

See, my very first blog was posted on May 23, 2008. But two years ago, the blog started declaring its birthday was May 24, 2008.

Really, I shouldn’t blame the blog. It was all my idea. I was scratching around for a topic when I noticed Bob Dylan’s birthday was the day after the blog’s. I thought it would be fun to co-opt the coincidence. It resulted, I thought, in a good birthday blog in 2011 (all links listed below).

So I’ve been blogging for five years. This is my 956th post and I’ll likely hit a milestone 1,000 sometime in August.

Let’s say each post takes about two hours to write, polish and present. That’s about 2,000 hours or 83 days.

I enjoy blogging so much I figure I could probably blog for 83 days straight without taking a break to eat or sleep. But by the fifth day keyboard-clogging drool puddles would probably render the experiment moot.

I once compared blogging to having a goofy imaginary friend with multiple dependency issues. You can’t abandon it for too long or it might die from lack of attention. But like having a needy friend, you spend a lot of time wondering if the damn thing’s holding you back from more productive pursuits and wondering if, geez, would anyone really care if the SOB just up and died?

I now understand that’s untrue.

Many people I know would be very upset if this SOB just up and died. They love reading the blog, which is now getting about 5,000 unique page views a month and is enjoyed all over the world in more than 146 countries.

Those are healthy numbers for an enigmatically titled blog that flits from topic-to-topic with whimsical indiscretion.

Cruel experience and natural disposition lead me to come at every self-analysis from self-deprecatory grounds. The blog and my book, “Use All The Crayons!” are changing all that.

There’ve been many, many times over the past five years when I’ve wondered if this is all worth it. I now conclude that, yes, it is. I say this even though the blog remains a perennial deadbeat in earnings. 

Cornerstone advice we give to all our children is that they should spend their lives finding something to do that makes them happy and then dedicate themselves to getting good at it.

I believe I’ve reached that point with my otherwise pointless blog musings.

I cherish every compliment, but one from an influential British writer was the kind I’d craft about myself for purely promotional purposes. Out of the blue and unbeknownst to me, she wrote on her Twitter account: 

“Very few undiscovered gems left, but the writer Mr. Rodell (@8Days2Amish) is one of them. He’s odd, but he’s hilarious. And he can really write.”

It’s the kind of thing that leads me to believe I’ll someday evolve into a discovered gem and I hear there’s real money in that kind of thing.

Either way, we’re not going anywhere. If anything, the blog might become even more robust with plans progressing for a podcast and -- who knows? -- perhaps a best-of book down the road after the appearance of post no. 1,000, as good a time as any for a compendium.

I promise I’ll try and keep the blog fresh and lively and deserving of your scrutiny. I ask in return you refer it to friends whenever you find it worthy. That kind of word-of-mouth promotion is priceless.

And because I understand no one comes here for mawkish sentiments, here is an entirely random sampling of 10 of my favorites from the past five years. 


Related . . .


Miss America & me -- In May 2011, I was getting regular calls from Miss America Teresa Scanlan. Was I going to keep that to myself? Hell, no.

Cigar store ambiance enhanced by breasts -- I went for a friendly Saturday cigar smoke and lo and behold breasts appeared. From April 2009.

Now they’ve ruined jukeboxes -- Includes my ten favorite jukebox songs. From August 2011, I’m still sad over what’s happening to old tavern jukeboxes.

It’s a bobblehead world -- I hear from so many people who say they love it when I write about the bar. The Pond’s great, but I’ll bet there are bars just like it in every town in America. Go see for yourself. This is from April 2012.

Arrivederci, Ann Curry -- People have been writing about Matt Lauer’s sinking popularity all year. I stopped writing about it since this one from June of last year when I think I nailed it.

A galling story on useless body parts -- Stories about anatomical oddities always fascinate me. This one’s about my friend Joe coming back from his Oct. 2012 vacation without his gallbladder.

Don’t hate me ‘cause I’m beautiful -- Still gets a bunch of hits and a lovely picture of Ines Sainz. From Sept. 2010.

Mime, all mime -- I liked this one from Feb. 2012 if for no other reason than it includes the line, “Careful mimes can be safe, but never sound.”

My gay friend John -- Google “My gay friend John” and this is the first thing that pops. It didn’t have much of a readership when it first ran in Oct. 2011, but is now on track to be one of my most popular. Just about every hour, someone somewhere is reading this all over the world.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Dietary thoughts on weight gain, cannibals


I like to ask fitness fanatics if tragic circumstances required it which part of themselves would they eat first.

This is particularly fun with vegetarians.

Yes, self-cannibalization gives new depth to the old you-are-what-you-eat adage.

I’m spending a lot of time thinking about weight gain these days. I tell myself I’m still working off my winter paunch. But I’m becoming less sure about just which winter. I fear my paunch is becoming permanent.

I did eat a lot this winter, most of it over five glorious binge days in Las Vegas.

The weight gain becomes more noticeable when the summer shorts and slacks come out and once-roomy garments are uncomfortably snug. 

Drives me crazy. I detest almost anything that restricts my movement, the exception being family obligations which often restrict me from staying out drinking beer and eating pizza when there’s a good game on.

Health nuts might scoff, but I think I have a pretty decent diet.

Breakfast is usually a banana or an apple. Once a week I get one donut or one breakfast sandwich from McDonald’s. 

Lunch is almost always a big salad and a sandwich or a piece of fish on the grill.

And my wife, who usually helms supper, is admirable about making sure we eat healthy.

I probably eat burgers or something fried at The Pond about three times a week (two lunch or maybe one dinner).

Is it all that beer, you may be wondering. Yes, I drink a lot of beer, but I always urinate a near equal measure so in my mind that can’t be it.

My father was a tubby gent, but he drank three or four beers each night. I do not drink beer at home, preferring to drink maybe a dozen or so at the bar two or three nights a week.

That sounds like a lot, but I stretch them out over about six hours so I consider it wise moderation, albeit wise moderation in reckless excess.

Either way, I’m not giving up my happy bar nights so let’s just drop it.

Exercise?

I probably walk two or so miles about four or five days a week. It’s not habitual, but I do 50 push-ups probably three times a week. I should do more sit-ups, but they’re a real grind and anytime I lay flat my mind automatically shifts to nap mode. 

So why am I unhappy with my physique?

I guess it’s because I can’t get the rest of me to resemble my calves.

I spend a lot of time with my bare legs crossed up on my desk. It’s my reading pose.

When it’s time to turn a page or just take a look around, I often spy my calves, nicely toned from walking, and say, “Man, you’ve really got some nice legs. They’re gorgeous.”

And I do say this right out loud, and often follow it up with a polite, “Thank you. That’s very kind of you to notice.”

My body may be in decent shape, but my mental health from working all alone for so many years is an absolute mess.

I remember thinking a cannibal would go right for those calves. 

(Joke break: What do you call a cannibal who’s careful about not over-eating? A cannibbler.)

That’s why I’m so dismayed about my gut. 

Even worse is when I gaze in the mirror and see the Rodell neck.

I first noticed it on my Dad when he was about my age and we were golfing on a breezy day. He turned in profile and I remember seeing his neck flapping like some  careless sailor had forgotten to secure the spinnaker.

I remember recoiling in horror and thinking, man, if I inherit that freakish abnormality I’ll wind up spending all my retirement dough on drawers full of turtlenecks.

Unfortunately, it was all I inherited from the old man.

So I’m not too concerned about a middle aged spread. That can be addressed.

The real problem is all this useless fat up above my shoulders.

But if you’ve read this far, that’s nothing you didn’t already know.



Related . . .