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Monday, August 31, 2015

Trump dominates August tweets. Of course, he does!

I wonder if having wifi in the Tin Lizzy is boosting my 8days2Amish Twitter output. I thought August was a very fruitful month. Perhaps it’s because I can now post them the instant they pop into my head — I rarely post with smartphone. 

Of course, it’s dominated by Trump.

First day of school today. Yay! To celebrate, I may spend the whole day strolling around the house in my underwear.

Just hope I remember to put the outdoor duds back on when I head out to the afternoon bus stop.


• What did cavemen call houseflies?

• I’m not up to speed on bovine anatomy, but I have to think a rump roast would come from a bum steer.

• I predict this is the week Trump declares he will rename Gulf of Mexico the Gulf of Make America Great Again.

• Doggedness is an admirable quality. Dogged people never quit. I fear I’ve always acted with cattedness.

• I’m still hoping to see reporter ask Trump to name historical women he most admires & hear him say, "Miss Norway, Miss Spain, Miss Brazil…"

• When I promised I'd no longer write about politics, I had no idea Donald Trump was going to be the leading GOP candidate. #Trump2016

• Coaching 9-year-old to say anytime she sees grade school kid picking nose, "There's a farmer in the booger barn!”

• Smart phones are great, sure, but until smart phones have coin return slots where you can find surprise quarters they won't measure up.

• Thinking of spending the day trying to discern which came first: The word "computer" or the word “glitch."

• I’ll bet there are many days each week Dick Cheney wakes up and is stunned to realize he is no longer President of the United States.

• Is the reason the Koch Bros. aren't running for GOP nom. because they can't agree who should be Veep?

• I can only conclude anyone who says puns are the lowest form of humor has never seen an Adam Sandler flick.

• I’m convinced the first thing to go is the inability to resist saying, "The first thing to go . . .”

• Time doesn't fly. It drives a Maserati, drunk, down the Autobahn with a brick strapped to the accelerator.

• Those who obsess over audacious bucket lists go beyond the pail. 

• Forlorn should be spelled fourlorn so we could gauge our level of lorness: Ex. "I was feeling sixlorn so I had a cookie and it made me threelorn.”

• Remember, having a great relationship with the Lord doesn’t mean you can treat the rest of us like crap.

• Silent letters drive me pcrazy!

• Pope asks us to embrace divorced Catholics. Aren't embraces what started all the trouble in the first place?

• How to punish Keith Richards for saying "Sgt. Pepper" sucks? Only one option: He must marry Yoko.

• Grammarians understand it's possible for a stationery store to be based in a mobile home.

• Stones classic #ExileOnMainStreet turns 43 this year. Time to change iconic song title to "Shake Your Replaced Hips.

• I’m going to stand in dimly lit room, extend video cam & spin ‘til I’m dizzy. Then I’ll post & boast I spent 2 mins in eye of a tornado.

• If you're livin' in New Orleans and yer nickname ain't "Fats" then you just ain't livin' right.

• I’ve discovered new way to make junk science even more suspect: depending on the nacho and the setting, 5-second rule is now the 1-min rule

• Thought of way to ensure real face time with Trump: Tell his people sketches of how he'll look on Rushmore ready and he needs to choose most flattering perspective.

• We will eliminate hunger when the world operates on the same humble principle as, "Need a penny? Take a penny/ Have a penny? Leave a penny”

• Many dads accused of being helicopter parents, always hovering. Me, I'm more of a sidecar parent, just along for the ride.

• I think I'm like most writers in that I encourage ones who are less accomplished than I and disdain those who are more.

• Getting out of bed makes me feel like WWI soldier being ordered to vault from trench into No Man’s Land certain to face heroic annihilation.

• I wonder if Hell has Congeniality contests and how long it'll be before Bill Cosby is eligible.

• Can you imagine how pharmaceutical stocks would have risen if the doctors had been prescribing Ritalin when the #3Stooges were lads?

• I’m in a crusade to get national OBGYN organizations to start calling postpartum depression by a fun new name: "Stork Raving Mad!”

• My mind's been wandering so long I'm surprised it's not appeared on someone's milk carton.

• How come the words work and fork don't rhyme, but beer and mirror do?

• Given surplus of one and deficit of the other, I imagine when Jesus comes back he'll turn California wine into water.

• Being unwittingly charged merely for seeking tech answers is a fee-ASK-o.

• I’m still mystified why more transgender people don't congregate in a Wisconsin town named Sheboygan.

• Every time I see a picture of Gloria Allred in the news I think her name should be Gloria Allmakeup.

• I’m like most dads in that I'm not without my faults. I make mistakes. I screw up. I'm a flawther.

• We live in an age where people display more affection for devices that play music than for the music devices play.

• Your typical pessimist suffers from pre-traumatic stress disorder.

• At some point this week, I hope to come up with a theory about why a gun isn't called a bang.

• What’s going to happen to America when Trump announces he'll pay bail for anyone who's passionate about helping him deport illegals? 

• I know the lie diminishes me, but I can't help running into rooms and saying, "Did you hear? Dick Cheney's gonna be on #DWTS!”

• The quest has ended in disappointment since the dawn of man, but every decent herb factory has at least one thyme machine.

• I wonder how much the bucket lists of people who own bucket factories differ from the rest of ours.

• Fashion experts who work to ensure ample bosoms fit snugly in frilly brassieres are rack-contours.

• If I ever get another pet I'm gonna name him Peeve so I can say, "Here comes my pet Peeve.”

• I understand if I pray for riches, I'll get nothing and if I pray for wisdom, I'll need nothing. I can't help. Still praying for riches

• If laughter is truly best medicine then how come the pharmaceutical conglomerates haven't found a way to gouge us for watching “#Seinfeld?"

• Getting more and more difficult to convince wife I'm obsessively following Ashley Madison news because I'm passionate about internet security.

• Because of the lasting damage the candidate is doing to the GOP brand, I must conclude Bill Clinton knows nothing about politics after he advised Trump running for president was a good idea.

• We hear lots about Jesus as the Son of God. I wonder about Uncle Jesus. Wouldn't it have been cool to say Jesus was your Uncle?

• Something tells me he admires Trump's moxie, but thinks the needs the guidance of an old Washington hand. Yes, he thinks America is ready for Trump/Cheney

 • It had a handsome leading man, an earnest sidekick and international intrigue, but there was something about Ohio Five-O that never caught on. Oh, and Ohio Five-O had scenic corn locales.


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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Re-run Sunday: What's the F. in F. Murray Abraham?



There’s rarely any rhyme or reason why I pick which one out of nearly 1,500 posts for Sunday re-run promotion. Like today's from April '14.

I didn’t see a show starring F. Murray Abraham. I didn’t read about it. F. Murray Abraham. I don’t know if today is the birthdate or other anniversary of F. Murray Abraham.

F. Murray Abraham just popped in my head and I thought it’d illuminate your Sunday if I could explain what the F. in F. Murray Abraham means. Hint: it ain’t Francis.

Thanks to all of you who continue to share and flatter me about the blog. I’m very happy with your reaction and vow to work hard to keep the blog fun and lively.

Just not tomorrow.

Tomorrow I’ll be posting @8days2amish Tweets of the Month.

Enjoy your Sunday and Go Bucs!


We’re immersed in so many complicated TV shows right now I sometimes have trouble keeping all the dense plots straight.

It happens with “Walking Dead,” “Justified,” and “Dexter,” and it happened again last night with “Homeland.”

We were catching up on the second season and I found myself trying to remember if Brody’s good or evil, if Carrie’s on or off her meds, and just how long I was going to have to wait before Brody’s luscious wife Jessica decides it’s time time to take off all her clothes and make me momentarily forget all my other troubles.

Then something happened that completely derailed my train of thought and sent my mind off on a good long graze.

What happened?

F. Murray Abraham appeared on screen.

So I stopped thinking about the other plot details and began wondering what the F. stands for.

Fred? Franklin? Forrest? Felix? Floyd?

As soon as the show concluded I looked it right up.

Turns out it stands for  . . . nothing!

It’s just F.

It’s true. I read where he was born Murray Abraham and just thought the name was too ordinary to make an impression so he “framed it” with the enigmatic F.

That’s not all I learned. Turns out Murray Abraham was born in 1939 right here in Pittsburgh. He's outstanding at his craft and won the Oscar for best actor in 1985 for his role in “Amadeus.”

You can now bank on it that one day I’ll forget our anniversary, my children’s birthdays and the five times in five hours I’ve been reminded to bring milk home, but I’ll never, ever forget that the F. in F. Murray Abraham is meaningless and that the dude was born in Pittsburgh, the F. City of F. Champions. 

I suppose I dwell on initials more than most folks because I have no middle name.

I’m simply Christopher Rodell.

So if I have a monogrammed sweater it looks like I’m an ardent fan of the Colorado Rockies when, in fact, I’m wholly indifferent to the Denver-based ball club.

Our parents decided against giving us middle names because they both loathed theirs. Mom was born Rachel Mae; Dad, Paul Russell Rodell.

I’ve always felt it was very unfair of them. If that’s really how they felt, then all they had to do was name me something besides Christopher Russell or Christopher Mae Rodell.

And, you know, Christopher’s not the easiest male name to lug through life, either. Many juvenile friends still call me with Chrissy because it rhymes with Sissy and they hope it’ll make me feel less like a real man. I’m not going to say the cruel taunting makes me actually feel less like a real man, but it does sometimes make me burst into tears, which is fine because I keep reminding myself it’s okay these days for a real man to cry.

But I am chagrined at not having a middle name.

Cody or Clint would be cool because then I could be C.C.R. — and I love Creedence. And Christopher Arthur Rodell would have some automotive zip.

And I don’t even need the whole name. Consider Harry S Truman.

Careful readers will notice what looks like a typo in his name. In fact, his middle “name” is merely an initial.

His middle name is S.

Or, actually, his middle name is S

Harry S Truman has a middle initial but no middle name. Turns out it was not uncommon for people of Scotch-Irish descent to bestow single letters for the middle names. It’s in character with a people renown for thrift.

To me, his name always sounds like a nickname given to him by old Army buddies with whom he used to shower: “Here comes that hairy ass Truman.”

With S Truman and F. Murray as my inspirations, I’m now wondering if it’s not too late to give myself a dandier handle.

I’m thinking Chris T Rodell. Internet search engines would inevitably recognize it as ChrisT Rodell.

I believe it would lead multitudes of new eager readers seeking bloggers with messianic credentials.

And that’s as good a place as any to conclude a post that began wondering just what the F.



Related . . .







Friday, August 28, 2015

Ranting to strangers about misnaming things


We were amidst a tedium so pervasive the only things with even a remote chance of vanquishing it were either a joint or a bottle of Jack Daniels.
But those sensible solutions would have caused more trouble than they were worth.
Even I understand no matter how boring the situation, you can’t just whip out a joint in a public school amidst a bunch of impressionable middle schoolers.
School starts Monday and me and about 10 other parents and about as many children were in the hallway outside the high school tech office waiting for student laptops to be passcode adjusted for the coming year.
I was bored out of my mind. I can’t stand any fidget instigating environment.
Remember, I’m the guy who when our 9 year old texted me she was bored at grandpa’s immediately texted back the solution: “Set something or someone on fire.”
My escalating boredom was making Josie, 14, nervous.
She knows I consider it my life’s mission to banish boredom wherever I find it, so we were at that moment a combustible twosome.
I needed something — anything — that would let allow me the opportunity to start a conversation.
I turned my head and, boom, there it was right in front of my nose.
It was an improperly named painting!
Improperly naming anything is a real pet peeve of mine.
In this case it was an otherwise lovely rear perspective of a young lad in a blue ball cap with his arm around a golden retriever.
This isn’t student art. Local philanthropists have for years collected and donated beautiful works of art to hang in the halls throughout the school.
But I was stunned when my eyes drifted to the ID plaque. This heartwarming painting was called “A Dark Secret.”
It was as if the artist wanted me to turn the painting over to see if the other side was a picture of a young Jerry Sandusky.
“Geez, will you look at this,” I said. “The artist ruined this fine painting by calling it ‘A Dark Secret.’ It’s disgraceful. Who in their right mind would take something so sweet and tarnish it with sinister overtones?”
I said this in my anchorman voice, not to be confused with my anchor baby voice which I use anytime I want to get a rise out of the Trump supporters.
I was offering a topic for general discussion. I was engaging fellow parents in the hopes we could talk about something communal — like talk radio without the radio.
Of course, no one dared speak up or even make eye contact. I’d broken the unspoken covenant about everyone doing their best to never speak to one another.
The only obvious reaction that anyone had even heard me speak came from Josie. She looked like she was trying to become Randall from the “Monsters Inc.” movies. Randall’s the chameleon with the ability to achieve pure invisibility by disappearing into any background.
I wasn’t about to let being ignored hamper me.
I now had a topic and I was going to run with it.
“Given our civic bent toward corporate sponsorship,” I intoned, “I guess we should be grateful the painting isn’t called, ‘A Boy and a Dog named Geico.’”
No reaction.
I said I don’t know how the artist could paint a picture of a boy and his dog and not call it something like, “A Boy and His Dog.”
It was disappointing, too, because the dog was a ringer for our Golden Retriever, the big dunce Casey. Casey’d been with us from 1992-’07.
Casey had no dark secrets. He was very open about his single-minded devotion to mooching food and shoving his nose deep in your crotch. He was utterly without guile.
What dark secret, I asked, could this dog have held?
None of the parents wanted to confront it.
I told them we had a dog named Snickers and how I hate Snickers because having Snickers in the house is like having a squirrel that barks. I posted a picture of him on Facebook and a friend said Snickers put a smile on her face.
I said, yes, he’ll put a smile on your face and urine on your shoe.
And I kept talking.
I wonder if the dark secret among the other parents was that they were secretly glad they had a guy like me around because they, too, had been bored and they enjoyed my soliloquy about dogs and misnamed paintings.
Alas, we’ll never know.
The computer codings were eventually bestowed and we were allowed to depart.
I bid the still, silent throng adieu and allowed my red-faced daughter to hustle me out the door.
The boredom had been banished. A tedious time had been rendered less so — for me, at least — by unwitting exposure to a pet peeve.
And I vow I’m going to name my next pet Peeve, so I can honestly say, “Here comes my pet Peeve.”
Maybe that’ll get a rise out of them.

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Thursday, August 27, 2015

Oskar Schindler & my persistent feelings of failure


I always feel as summer winds down an odd kinship with Oskar Schindler.
Remember him?
He was the German industrialist who cleverly — and at grave risk to his own life — saved more than 1,200 doomed Jews from the Holocaust.
The connection seems pretty thin, I admit.
He did so much and was justifiably memorialized in what you could argue was Stephen Spielberg’s finest film, “Schindler’s List,” from 1993.
It feels like I have done nothing.
And that’s where Schindler and I become one.
To me, the most indelible part of the movie is the end when Schindler falls to pieces in the devastating belief he’d not done enough.
He looks disdainfully at a gold ring and says it could have saved another life. His fancy watch disgusts him; it could have saved a family. He is revolted by the Mercedes-Benz in the driveway.
How many more souls could that have saved?
It’s because of Schindler I always feel anyone who dies satisfied dies having not done enough.
To bust that analogy clear down to atomic levels, I believe I wasted an entire summer.
I did not do enough.
I feel this way, of course, in particular with the kids. They’re 14 and 9.
They won’t be that ever again.
I’ve scoffed at maudlin friends who say they suffer from empty nest syndrome.
I tell them I look forward to a day when I can watch what I want, eat what I want, and do it all wearing shabbily comfortable clothes that would cause my loved ones to roll their eyes in fashionable distress.
But when summer days begin to dwindle and we’re fully geared up to start school as we will on Monday, I become wistful for lost time.
I wasted so much of it.
Did I devote enough hours to the needs of our children? Did I by being their daddy do anything to enrich their lives or their memories of this summer?
I feel like a failure.
It’s not like I was working all the time.
As you may have heard — and I’m sure you did, it’s what this blog is all about — I don’t work.
Unlike most of the rest of the civilized world, I am untethered by occupational concerns.
I try and keep busy. I have a bunch of events booked for the fall and am anticipating a fruitful time.
But I have nothing to show for the summer.
A guy like me with so much free time on his hands should be fluent in French, Spanish, Mandarin, Latin and those made-up languages you hear on the floors of the Star Trek conventions.
Instead, I’m fluent in “Seinfeld” catchphrases.
With all the time I have on my hands, I should be a scratch golfer, a skilled ice carver or a baseball fantasy league savant.
I should be a volunteer fire fighter or do busy work at some senior center, a place full of dear people who ache all day to see just one friendly face.
I wasted my summer.
Have I wasted my life?
I sometimes feel I have offended God and mankind by doing so little with my life.
That’s not me.
That line is a paraphrase of what are purported to be the last words of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519).
Maybe the most insightful man in human history died convinced he was a failure.
Yeah, just what did he do?
Oh, yeah, he painted the Mona Lisa, conceptualized the first flying machines, armored fighting vehicles, contributed to ground-breaking innovations in surgery, manufacturing and is remembered as maybe the most brilliant human being who ever lived.
I wonder if his office was above a friendly tavern.
I guess what I’m tying to say is if these two giants died feeling like failures, it’s okay if sometimes you and I do, too.
Every now and then we’re all going to feel like monumental failures.
At least we all have monumental company.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I'm now a (sort of) Emmy nominated voiceover artist


My girls didn’t believe me when I told them they were now the offspring of an Emmy nominated voiceover artist.
In fact, I think the 14-year-old was already looking forward to her paternity test.
Why would I lie about the august credential?
Gee, anyone care to start a list?
Let me.
First, it’d be very cool; second, it sounds like the kind of thing that might lead to a backstage introduction to Neil Patrick Harris; third, it sure beats hearing my daughters say, “My daddy blogs!”
In fact, it is true.
I only wish you could hear me verbalize that confirmation.
You’d melt.
I didn’t realize it till yesterday, but my voice is a heady mashup of Morgan Freeman’s gravitas, George Clooney’s debonaire, JFK’s historical impact, with just a dash of Pee Wee Herman thrown in for spritely yucks.
It’s the Emmy-nominated film, “The Closing of the Donora-Webster Bridge,” by my friend, videographer Brian Henry of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. The Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Television Arts & Sciences nominated the 7:20 segment for its “Public/Current/Community Affairs Feature/Segment” award.
If you think you’ve never seen Brian’s work before, many of you are mistaken. 
He shot the vividly colorful “Use All The Crayons!” homepage promo. I think it perfectly conveys what the book is all about, which is mostly me juggling and shooting waste paper basket hoops.
It was done right around the time Brian was shooting video of the Donora Bridge. The bridge closing and eventual demolition would at best maroon the old steel town — birthplace of both Stan Musial and the Ken Griffeys, junior and senior — and at worst finish it off.
He needed a steady voice to read the prepared script and its gritty tale of persistence.
I guess James Earl Jones was busy.
I recall it took us about 30 minutes. It would have been less, but we had to restart every time I’d either burp, fart or stop mid-sentence to ask him the proper pronunciation of words like “halupki.”
I played it for my girls and they frantically peeled away after about one minute.
I think the idea of hearing my voice used for serious documentary work was disorienting to them.
They’re more accustomed to hearing me say things like, “Can someone bring me another beer?” and, “Sorry! That was me,” whenever anyone asks who finished the toilet paper and didn’t have the courtesy to snag a new roll.
What’s impressive to me is all but one of the other six nominees are highly credential teams involving multiple editors/producers/directors etc. That’s a lot of teamwork brainpower, not to mention overlapping salary.
Brian is listed as director/photographer/producer/editor.
His singular honor is bound to be bad news for the other nominees.
From what I know about corporate America, there’s some beancounter saying, “How come this one guy got a nomination for doing the same thing it took six of you assholes?”
Of course, I’m not actually part of the award nominee.
Doesn’t bother me a bit.
Not being mentioned at all means it was a job well done.
I’m sure there were other entries who were discarded because producers used a nerve-rattling voice that sounded like the Aflac duck for narration.
It'd be great if this new feather in my cap led to a lucrative sideline that would allow me to cut back on my other office activities, namely juggling and shooting waste paper basket hoops.
I’m learning the only thing easier than typing is talking.
Either way, I promise I’ll continue to compose the posts here about my daily doings.
You can help by spreading the word anytime you think it’s worthy.
In short, ask not what this blog can do for you, but what you can do for this blog.
Or something like that.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Animal annoyances? Let's blame Noah


I wonder how different the world would be today if on Noah’s ark someone had thought to bring along a fly swatter.
It’d probably be a lot less annoying.
They drive me nuts.
Bees do, too, of course. But bees provide tangible benefits. They pollinate and make delicious honey.
What do common houseflys do?
Well, I looked it up. The answer doesn’t bolster their case for ark inclusion.
Each female fly can lay about 500 eggs, a reproductive feat that makes Michelle Duggar look like a piker.
How do these flies contribute? They spend their entire month-long life cycle feasting on garbage, carrion and feces.
I could see this being beneficial to the circle of life only if they were capable of taking really, really big bites, but a diet like that magnified many times over would lead to a slew of other bigger and even more disgusting problems.
I wish some Biblical archeologist would announce he or she has found Noah’s passenger manifest.
I have to imagine many of the species with which he started out didn’t make the entire cruise, which if you believe Genesis 7:11-13 lasted 370 days.
Some likely died en route.
Remember, the ark had no qualified veterinarian. Crew skills likely tended toward  farming, carpentry and, at least with the skipper, the kind of meteorological wisdom even weather savants like Al Roker are bound to envy.
I nurture a theory that unicorns were on the ark but became too cross-eyed to function and just died off only to be resurrected on the “My Little Pony” show.
Some animals may have been deemed too dangerous or annoying to preserve.
Maybe scores of vicious, stinky animals we’ve never heard of once roamed the earth and either Noah or one of his crewmen decided to play God and just tossed the varmints overboard. 
We’d have no way of knowing.
If that’s the case, I wish they’d have gone a few steps farther and gotten rid of all the snakes, rats, roaches, pigeons, etc.
If our neighbors’ husky had been on the voyage, it’s likely we’d now be living in a dogless world.
Maya is left out all day and all night and does nothing but bark, bark, bark. It’s endless. It robs us of both sleep and any chance of summer peace.
Maybe I’m being too harsh.
I shouldn’t say I’d get rid of the dog. That’s cruel.
I’d get rid of the neighbors.
I’d also like to see archeologists announce they’d found a menu detailing just what did they ate on the ark?
Cruises have always been about rapacious gluttony. Why should Noah’s cruise have been any different? Guaranteed, there was no casino. There was nothing to do but either tend to the animals or eat them.
And I can practically guarantee there was no salad bar. It had to be mostly all protein.
The animals, we are told, were boarded two-by-two. Many of them likely reproduced during their time. Screwing was all they had to do, much like some of today’s swinger-themed cruises.
But none of the tasty mammals were as prolific as the houseflies (aside: what did cavemen call houseflies?).
You’d have to think over 370 days the crew developed a toothy fondness for particularly delicious animals.
I wonder if there were some now-forgotten animals made of such delicious substance that they were right there on the ark eaten to extinction, animals so tasty that it was impossible to stop eating them until it was gone.
Like really big Peeps!
Or maybe at one time there were animals they called Bacons, too delicious to survive.
I guess I wish Noah had been a little more choosey. The world is full of animal annoyances
Some of them legitimate, some what I guess you could call “petty.”
As for annoying humans, well, that ship has sailed.
No sense in complaining. We just have to learn to live and let live.
So I’ll not say another word.
Not one peep.

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