Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Do NOT vote (& magically delicious thots on Lucky Charms)

• I have a contradictory message today. It is simple: DO NOT VOTE! None of you. Stay home. Make love. Binge watch “Ozark.” Clean the basement. But do not vote! Do not vote because I already did and if you don’t then the chances of all my candidates winning increases by one.

• Would you drive an elderly neighbor to the polling place if you knew she was pro-Trump? Or if she voted for Hilary? Be honest. Me? I’d first drive the old babe to the bar and get her all tuned up in the hopes she’d vote the way I told her she ought to … or else.

• I know we’re being told this is the most consequential election of our lives and I don’t doubt it. But if it is then how come half my brain is thinking about the election while the other half can’t stop thinking about what it’s like to work in the Lucky Charms cereal factory? Like do the bosses threaten to transfer the unruly workers who make the marshmallow charms to the oat line if they don’t shape up? Is working the oat line a punishment? I’d hate to work the oat line.

• Once for her 7th birthday, I took three boxes of Lucky Charms and separated the marshmallows from all the godforsaken oats so when Josie poured her morning cereal it was nothing but marshmallows. I’ll never forget the look of pure joy on her face as that rainbow of tooth-rottening candy cascaded into her bowl. I think some day she’ll reckon with my flaws as a provider and moral role model but will  remember those Lucky Charms and think, yeah, the old man was alright..

• And, yes, I learned too late you can buy bags of the good stuff already separated. But what kind of father would take a cheater shortcut like that?

• The Jeannette Public Library is hosting an Open House Wednesday from noon to 7 p.m. I’ll be there around 2 p.m. I’m not going to be selling books or trying to draw an audience. I’m attending because they were so good to me during last month’s visit and because they asked nicely. Oh, and because they said there’d be cookies. Free! Come join us (before I eat all the cookies).

• We watched “Captain Fantastic” starring Viggo Mortensen again. I recommend it to my liberal friends because it shows what becomes of a liberal life when it’s taken to its logical extreme. I recommend it to my conservative friends because it shows how useful a sensible conservative check can be on runaway liberalism. And in the end they both get along. So, yeah, it’s Hollywood fiction.

• It’s not too late to become a member of the Westmoreland Professional Builders Association. That way you can come hear me give my Arnold Palmer talk to their membership Thursday at Rizzo’s. I love Rizzo’s! The pasta is peerless and I love the rack of lamb. Alas, I’ll have to curtail my consumption, lest I have a gastric reaction during my talk. That means no Banana Hot Peppers with Asiago Cheese, a zesty appetizer that burns going in as much as it does going out. I call them Ass Candles. 

• Just got off the phone with a group that booked me to talk to 16 people Nov. 24 here at the Tin Lizzy. I’ll come to your home, too. A group of at least a dozen booked me to come to a South Hills home Nov. 16. “Bring lots of books!” they advised. Will do! 

• Tin Lizzy talks don’t have to involve lunch or dinner, either. I’m sure an afternoon cocktail party will be lots of fun, too. Call if you’d like to learn more, 724 961-2558.

• I’ll be on WCNS-AM 1480 with Hank Baughman Monday at 9:30 a.m. 

• I wonder if they have intra-building softball games between the Lucky Charms employees who work the marshmallow line and the ones who work the oats. It wouldn’t surprise me if Team Oats cheats.

• Please get your signed book orders in early. I have plenty of Palmers and “Use All The Crayons!” but I’m almost out of “Last Baby Boomers,” which is probably the one I’m most proud of. Sold more than expected last month. Still available on amazon. I’m preparing a second typo-free (sorta) edition to be released early 2019. 

• The Greater Latrobe Senior High Drama Club will on Friday and Saturday present the David Ives comedy, “All In The Timing.” It’s supposed to be great. Who sez? My daughter, Josie! She’s one of the leads! Tickets for the 7:30 shows are $10; $8 for students and seniors.

• I was seriously thinking about composing a high-concept post today where I tailored the lyrics of John Lennon’s “Imagine” to today’s political climate. I thought better of it when I asked myself the salient question: “And how much do you get paid to write these blog posts?”

• Prediction: Those of you who tomorrow will be overjoyed at the results of today’s election will be bereft at the results of the one in 2020 and vice versa.

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Monday, November 5, 2018

Deep sixing heart attack plans

My plan to engineer my own death through massive cardiac arrest has been deep sixed since I realized my heart just isn’t in it. And you can’t nurture a future heart attack without a whole lot of heart.

I guess this mindset is common for people who are given an unfortunate diagnosis or hit with a sudden situational forlornness. We read the fateful end game and say, no thanks, and we try and construct a tidier off-ramp. 

A lovely widowed friend of mine told me all about it. She’d lost her dear husband while he was in his early 50s. It devastated her.

“Right after he died, I started smoking two packs a day. I hit the bottle every night. I was living recklessly because I wanted to die. I had no reason to live.”

I realized I wasn’t as committed as she’d been when she asked what other ill-advised habits I’d adopted and all I could come up with was being less fanatical about flossing my teeth.

It’s true. Nearly all my life I’ve been a teeth-flossing fool. When I heard I have Parkinson’s, I thought, “What’s the point?”

Unlike my friend, I wanted my death to be gastronomic in nature.

And let’s pause for a moment to marvel how we live in a land of such plenty that over-eating is a viable death option.

I figured it would take 10 years to nurse a real whopper of sufficient fatality. I’d be 65 and the worst of my symptoms would — cross your fingers — be yet to flare. So ever since February, it’s been all pizza, fried chicken, ice cream and bacon! Bacon! Bacon!

Salt bad for the heart? I put salt on my cereal.

In short, I ate like Elvis.

As many of you know, I’m not inexperience at the task.

I once gained 20 pounds in one week on The Elvis Presley Diet.

The inspiration? A thousand bucks and everlasting glory from editors of National Enquirer who craved fresh ways to even in 1994 include Presley in their bold-faced headlines.

The idea came to me when I was watching a cable program featuring interviews with the women who killed The King: his cooks.

I remember one saying, “I’ll never forget walking into his bedroom and seeing Mr. Presley in bed eating a pork chop sandwich. He had butter dripping off his elbows. He said, ‘Man, these sure are tasty. Bring me six more!’”

I wondered what a diet like that would do to an otherwise normal adult male. I submitted the idea to my editor and he green lighted it in an instant. He said the goal was for me to gain 10 pounds.

We spent nearly $1,000 on groceries and began cooking meals from Brenda A. Butler’s official Elvis cookbook — sing it with me — “Are You Hungry Tonight?”

In the end I gained 20 pounds in one week.

So what made me shy away from the killer diet when I thought it might have a practical application in nurturing a fatal heart attack?

Part of it is vanity. I was/am developing a pot belly and I began/am beginning to resent it. I may be suffering from a degenerative neurological disorder with the grim potential to send me to an early grave, but I want to have an open casket so people can with some shade of honesty remark that I look good for a stiff. And I’d rather that than have an open casket because my belly is too big to close the lid.

The other part is an unabashed will to live. I’ve been dealt an unfortunate hand — happens to many of us sooner or later — but I still revel at being among the living. I yearn to grow old or at least older with the good-natured notion that a cure is just a day away.

It’s the same reasoning why so many line up to play the lottery.

Will I resume my fanatical flossing? Nah. I’m kind of done with that. I’ll just floss when I feel like it.

The will to live is strong.

The will to floss, not so much.

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Thursday, November 1, 2018

Biblical sorts of praise for my book, me

I can’t help but wonder if worshippers at a Murrysville Presbyterian church who’d filled the pews eager to bask in the word of God felt spiritual distress when the Almighty was pre-empted by the word of Rodell.

A pastor told me he’d devoted his Sunday sermon to my Arnold Palmer book.

To me, it would have been like expecting the victorious team to douse you with a big jug of Gatorade and instead having some weak tea spilled on your sleeve when the clumsy towel boy trips.

I learned this on a Friday night at the Tin Lizzy when it seemed every stranger in the building expressed a desire to meet me and fill my head with ego-inflating praise.

It went so long and was so elaborate I barely had time to finish my first beer.

Felt like I was being punked.

First were the sisters, a pair of local sweethearts I’d somehow never met. The waitress said they’d just ordered some Tin Lizzy pizza and were hoping to meet me and buy books. Could I stop what I was doing for a quick chat?

Understand, I was engaged in drinking beer at the bar and there have been many nights — hell, there’ve been many years — when the answer would have been, no, I can’t possibly stop what I’m doing. But at 55, that adolescent phase seems to be a bit on the wane. And after so many years of being professionally ignored, I’m preferring to hear people say nice things about me and my work rather than constructing a Force 9 hangover.

So we’re talking and laughing and having conspicuous fun when a stranger at table 4 interrupts. Now, any interruption in that setting is rude and should not be encouraged, but the interruption, spoken enthusiastically in a near shout, involved praise for me so I was all for it.

“I love your book,” he said. “Read it in two nights. It’s one of the best books I’ve ever read.”

And this was coming from a guy who knows a thing or two about good books. I’m talking THE Good Book.

Yes, my new friend said he was a Presbyterian minister and felt parts of the book were useful tools in his everlasting quest to save souls of Murrysville sinners.

I guess, gee, that’s the most flattering review yet.

It went on like that for the next hour. People who’ve read the book or heard me talk are coming to the Tin Lizzy to meet me and buy more books. Sold eight that night.

I left sober, but feeling oddly buzzed nonetheless. Who knew flattery could be so intoxicating?

It happened again yesterday and this time I was in a motor vehicle.

A woman who’d heard me speak at the Murrysville library (I’m on a real Murrysville roll) was calling about booking the Tin Lizzy banquet room to hear my stories (see first link below).

“You were wonderful!” she said. “I could have listened to you talk for hours. You have such an engaging manner and such a great sense of humor. I never …”

I interrupted here and asked her to start over and word-for-word repeat exactly what she’d said.

Val was driving and I wanted to switch the phone to speaker.

And she did!

She said she wants to bring 15 to 20 women to hear my stories November 16. I’m hopeful this could catch on. 

You know, I heard from a lot of publishing industry experts who said the book I proposed — one that has less to do with golfing and more to do with living — would fail. One said the book should detail precisely which clubs Arnold Palmer used to win which tournaments.

But I stuck to my guns, an awkward stance for an avowed pacifist.

Only a handful of golfers will ever know what it’s like to golf like Arnold Palmer did, but the value of this book is it shows how all of us can live like he did.

No, it’s not The Good Book.

But it ain’t too bad.

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