Friday, May 31, 2019

Hooray! It's time for tweets of the month!

Sometimes I think my tweets are maturing while I am not. Some profound stuff here. And for the second month in a row, not one fart joke! It concerns me because I know if they ever learn how to fix a leaky faucet my wife is gonna leave me for the tweets.

Follow me at 8days2Amish!

Foto is of the fraudulent address label's I've used since 2008 when I wrote this, my fourth post ever.


• 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.

• Most people agree room temperature is 70 degrees. Elmer Fudd says womb temperature is 98.6 degrees.

• 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 don't know of a single adult or child even, who carries around even a single marble in his or her pocket or purse. Yet the phrases, "All the marbles," and "lost his marbles" persist in the vernacular. Oh, take me back to that whimsical era when the possession of marbles conveyed both wealth and wisdom!

• 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.

• I try and see the good in everyone. With some of you it takes a little squinting. Then there are those that require spying through one of those telescopes the astronomers use to spy clear to the edge of the universe. If you think that might be you, you need to try harder.

• 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.

• Last year I asked you to buy, "Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of The King," for your father. This year I'm asking you to buy one for ANY father. Father's Day is just 25 days away! All books signed thus, "This is NOT a golf book. This is a LIFE book!”

• 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?

• Because the weather in heaven will always be perfect, "Some weather we're having," will be replaced as a conversational ice-breaker by, "So how'd you die?" So an interesting earth death -- say kicked in the head by a runaway mule -- might lead to more popularity among angels.

• 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.




Related …






Thursday, May 30, 2019

Golfing with my handicaps


It is said with an earnest concern I find humbling, which is why I feel ashamed when I respond with jackass humor whenever someone asks me if because of my condition I’m unable to golf.

“No, I can’t,” I say. “I can’t drive. I can’t putt. My short game is appalling. So, no, I cannot golf.”

I let that sink in a moment before delivering the punchline most of you saw coming a mile away.

“… But then again, I never could.”

Thus, this is a story about a chronic muscular failure combined with a neurological regression that leads to anxiety and persistent feelings of failure.

Think I’m talking about Parkinson’s? No. 

I’m talking about golf! 

And because this about golf, I feel compelled to once again share the greatest line I’ve ever heard about golf, which isn’t really about golf at all, but is instead about sex.

And in the end it’s always about sex.

I was talking in 2007 with a new golf fanatic — he was in his mid-30s — who’d driven 38 hours from Denver to Pittsburgh to watch Tiger Woods play golf at Oakmont. He was out of his mind for golf.

“The first time I ever set foot on a golf course was 6-months ago. It was the most fun I’ve ever had at something I was so bad at since the night I lost my virginity.”

I told him I wrote for Golf Magazine and that was the greatest line I’d ever heard about golf.

He said, “You write for Golf Magazine? Man, you must be good!”

I said assuming I was good at golf because I wrote about the sport was like assuming sex with an adult film actress would be really hot just because she’s done a lot of porn, which is maybe the world’s worst analogy. But I persist in using it because it allows me a moment of illicit revery about sex with a porn star and that always leaves me feeling, oh, what’s the word?

Presidential?

I’ve played twice this year. Had a 108 Tuesday at Ligonier C.C. and spent a good deal of time wondering why I continue to pursue something I’m so bad at with no realistic hopes of a more satisfying performance — and we’re talking about golf, not sex, although the lines are beginning to blur. 

People ask if golf is so frustrating, why bother spending 4- or 5-hours doing it, a statement that is about 98 percent incorrect. Very little actual golf occurs during your typical round of golf. 

Your average golfer is only golfing for about 3 minutes during a round of golf, that is 3 minutes when the golfer is standing there engaged in the process of executing an actual golf shot golf.

The rest of the time is spent drinking beer, racing golf carts, whizzing against a tree  and gamely laughing at everything your mates say the way the gang at the old Bada Bing laughed when Tony Soprano cracked a joke. 

One of the requirements of being an acceptable golf partner is to lol in non-humorous situations where other people merely type lol.

Faking a good maniacal laugh, like faking a gangbuster orgasm, is tedious, but both deceptions can be essential to building relationships. 

In golf, fake laughter establishes open-minded acceptance so authentic camaraderie can be achieved later on when everybody is good and drunk and everything seems funnier than when you’re sober. And that golf camaraderie is for me the best part thing about golf.

It’s why I’ve lately been quoting the line, “A great day of golf involves where you played, how you played and with whom you played — and the first two are overrated.”

So, yes, I’m still playing golf and taking great joy out of a day spent drinking beer, racing golf carts whizzing against a tree and playing about 3 minutes of golf.

The instant I can no longer enjoy a day like that, well, I’m screwed.

Told you it’d in the end be all about sex.


Related …








Thursday, May 23, 2019

Random thoughts on blog birthday



Today is this blog’s 11th Birthday. Can you believe it? I know some of you think I should give the blog the day off to celebrate, but the blog can’t be trusted. Were that to happen, I’m pretty sure it would spend the day drinking in the Tin Lizzy and you know what that’ll lead to come 10 p.m. — Here come the hookers! Honestly, I don’t know where that sort of shiftless behavior comes from. It’s like the blog’s picked the wrong role model.

• I used to lie about the blog’s age. Used to say it was older than it was. No, the blog didn’t have a fake ID. The blog, see, was coincidentally born one day before Bob Dylan’s birthday and I thought it would be cool to say the blog and Dylan shared the same birthday, as if the fraudulent assertion would bestow coincidental glory on Eight Days to Amish, like people would say, “I think I’ll check out this enigmatically named blog because it has to be good. It was born the same day as Dylan!” If that ever happened even just once, I’m unaware of it.

• In preparation for Dylan’s 78th birthday, I told the 12 year old I’d play just one song so she could at least be aware of his enduring genius. Amazingly, she didn’t rebel. After about 15 minutes, I asked what she thought. “I hate it,” she said. “I said I’d listen to one song and you played four! And all four sounded exactly alike!” She’d fallen right into my devious little trap. “Ah! Ha!” I said. “That’s not four songs. It’s the same song!” I’d played “Highlands,” a 16 minute, 41 second epic from ’97’s “Time Out Of Mind.” And she’s wrong. It’s a great song.

• Tonight’s the annual night when I do things that cause the children of strangers to burst into tears and I don’t get either arrested or beaten up. Yes, tonight I’m again word master for the Greensburg Rotary Spelling Bee. I never dreamed making kids cry could be so rewarding.

• I was about to do my patriotic privilege on Tuesday when I was awkwardly confronted with an option to obey or ignore a patriotic pseudo-obligation. I was waiting at the Latrobe high school for Val so we could vote together in the Pennsylvania primary election — I know, I know. We’re one of “those” cute couples. I was early so I went for a stroll. As I’m ambling I hear the school outside- PA come to life and some squeaky voiced kid say, “We’ll now say the Pledge of Allegiance,” and they did just that. Now what’s the etiquette? Not a flag in sight, do I stand there outside the school all by myself and say a pledge to a flag I can’t see. No one knows I’m there. Am I honor bound to do the pledge? Do you say it if you’re at a ballgame waiting in line for beer? In the end I blow it off and continue on my way, quietly relieved it is God who knows all/sees all instead of Sean Hannity.

• I’m sure some of you rolled your eyes when you read me saying Bob Dylan’s an “enduring genius.” Anytime I think that’s going too far I remind myself how in 2006 on the song “Thunder on the Mountain,” he artfully rhymes “orphanages” with “sons of bitches.” Genius!

Example #1 on Why I Should Never Leave the Tin Lizzy: Last Friday I was stationed on my corner stool up in Flappers, the 2nd floor bar, the one with the popular deck. Not a wingman in sight. Zach and Aaron, my Friday evening bartender buddies, were too busy to BS. I’m always comfortable being alone in a bar — if you have as many voices in your head as I do, you’re never really alone. But with so many groups of happy gigglers surrounding me, I felt conspicuously alone. Finally, a big friendly guy with Western clothes sidles up and corrals some conversation. He’s heard of me.“I was hoping I’d get to meet you.” Turns out he’s a prosperous Arizona rancher/businessman. Long story short, he ends up buying 20 books and inviting me out in August for a shindig. All I need to do is get there. I think I’m going to do it.

Example #2 on Why I Should Never Leave the Tin Lizzy: I was supposed to meet a woman at the Main (street level) bar at 1:30 p.m. She was buying a book to include in a golf gift basket for Latrobe high class of ’69 reunion. Confusion ensued and at 2:15, I’m still there when this group of chipper women emerge from the dining room. After some conversation with Jessie, my Wednesday afternoon bartender buddy (yes, I have designated bartenders ‘round the clock — don’t judge me!) says the ladies are looking for a Tin Lizzy tour guide. Was I busy? Truthfully, I haven’t been busy since 1992. Well, theses ladies from Johnstown couldn’t have been nicer. I craftily conducted the tour so it would conclude in my office where I sell my books. Sold 8. Plus they asked if I’d come to Johnstown and tell my stories to their social groups. See, if I’d have been the kind of guy prone toward common office hours and work, I’d have missed out on all those bar sales,

• I’m thinking I’d better wrap this up and get back to drinking down there before this day becomes a total waste!

• Happy Fred Rogers 143 day! I think I’ve settled on a book title: “Growing Up & Old in Mr. Rogers Real Neighborhood: Stories from The Heart of Latrobe, Pennsylvania.” Hoping to have it available for sale by Labor Day, in plenty of time before the Tom Hanks movie. 

• The second toughest thing about being word master at a 4th grade spelling bee is understanding I can’t hug a crying child. The toughest thing is not actually mouthing the correct letters when you can tell the kid’s about to fail to correctly spell “adobe.”

• Come out and enjoy the Westmoreland County Airshow at Arnold Palmer Regional Airport, featuring the Royal Canadian Snowbirds. The CT-114s are capable of flying 460 mph, which means they could fly from Latrobe to Pittsburgh in just 43 minutes. That calculation includes the typical 41 minute backup at the Squirrel Hill Tunnel.

• I think I’m going to spend the next 1:06:04 listening to Bob Dylan singing “Highlands” four straight times. The beauty is it’ll sound the same all four times. It’ll sound perfect.


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Monday, May 20, 2019

Monday riddles of life/colonoscopies



Sorry to start your week off with a riddle, but what begins at the bottom, has 5 feet, and ends back at the beginning?

A Monday blog about your colonoscopy!

Haven’t had one?

Then someone somewhere soon is about to advise you it’s time.

It could save your life. The procedure can both detect and remove pre-cancerous polyps that kill 51,000 Americans a year. That’s a tragically high number for something that could be so easily preventable if only we all agreed to take some common sense precautions.

Of course, it’s only ballpark 10,000 more annual deaths than those 40,000 poor hapless bastards killed by all-American gun violence and no one wants to do squat about that so big whoop.

Speaking of squat, colonoscopy patients should be prepared to do lots of that. They make you drink a diabolical solution the day before to make your gastro-industrial tract clean as a whistle, albeit a whistle no sane person would ever wish to blow.

Why all this talk of colonoscopies when I had mine done, oh, about three years ago?

I recently had to take a loved one in for hers. Patients are highly medicated for 24 hours so now we know just what it takes to get me to be the designated driver. So I’m sitting there all sober and observant and I was struck by how factory-like this procedure has become.

There were maybe a dozen in the waiting room and one after another they just kept coming.

To further the proctological factory analogy, it was a real ASS-embly line.

Being there amidst so many anxious patients, had me recalling my own experience. What do I remember most? I remember thinking anti-drug crusader Nancy Reagan was wrong. Drugs aren’t bad.

Drugs are terrific! Who knew having 5-feet of apparatus surgically shoved up your rectum could involve so much euphoria?

I’ve since heard an unverified bar chatter that the drugs they use to put you out for the colonoscopy are the same ones King of Pop Michael Jackson OD’d on.

It seems all too convenient: a drug they give you before they shove something up your rear is misused by a man who …

The obvious punchlines are too lazy for even me.

I’m suspicious of the pictures they give you in post-op. They tell you it was taken deep inside your very own colon.

I hate to sound like some cracker colo-racist, but they all look exactly alike. Like I couldn’t believe it when they showed me pictures of what they said were my colon. It looked so ordinary

“This can’t be mine,” I protested. “My colon is much more handsome. And if this colon is mine then where’s the mustache?”

I once did a story for Esquire about what it’s like to be a proctologist. I wish I still had it because the doctor had a great self-deprecating sense of humor. He said his friends all called him “the Rear Admiral.”

He had a bunch of other fart jokes like that and said he goes to work each day knowing he’s saving lives.

I wonder about the many people working in the Excela Health Center on Donohoe Road where we’d been sent. Every single person, from receptionist to doctor, was cheerful and friendly. If anyone was feeling occupational burnout, they kept it concealed.

I’ve been in surlier ice cream shops.

Could it be seeing the full range of humanity so vulnerable, so exposed, makes one more appreciative of our common decency?

Could it be as simple as that? Could it be a 9-to-5 exposure to real assholes somehow bestows an understanding that deep down inside — deep up inside — there aren’t quite so many metaphorical ones.

Or maybe they’re just better at turning the other cheek. It’s a Biblical sentiment for most of us, but many of them had to pass a test on the maneuver back in med school.

And that’s as good a place as any to conclude an essay on colonoscopies.

The End.


Related …


(Just this one recommendation today. I do so to encourage you to read this one. It’s very funny.)





Friday, May 10, 2019

Latrobe Bulletin announces my next book


Okay, the admission may lead you to conclude I’m a rube, but I still get a kick out of seeing my name and picture in the local newspaper. So thank you Steve Kittey and The Latrobe Bulletin for yesterday’s front page splash. 

The book is, "Growing Up in the REAL Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood: Stories from the Heart of Latrobe, Pennsylvania."

Of course my favorite part of the Bulletin story is the picture, one I don’t recall taking, haven’t ever seen before and haven’t the foggiest idea how it was secured fir usage by my Bulletin friends.

It’s a dandy. First, I’m smiling and you can tell I have a mouthful of teeth. I’d be disappointed had they selected one where I appear serious.

Here’s a tweet from two years ago this month: “One benefit about being carefree is serious people never look at you and say, "Hon, let's go sit next to that guy. He looks real serious, too.”

The picture is a perfect repellent to serious people.

The best part are the eyes. They appear to be gazing 20-feet above and past the unknown photographer. It’s like I’m gazing at either the resurrected Christ returned to Earth Biggie-sized or at a hovering UFO filled with love-starved women yearning to try earth sex and their malfunctioning computers have led them to believe I’m  the only man on the planet.

It’s just a very happy face.

And why wouldn’t it be?

I’m announcing my next book. It’s the one I never dreamed I’d write.

See, for a year I’ve been resisting pressure to write a book about Fred Rogers that’s just like the one I wrote about Arnold Palmer.

I didn’t want to do this because I didn’t know Rogers, certainly not the way I knew Palmer. And it just seemed too obvious.

My resistance is indicative about why I’m always moaning about being broke. After all, why would I want repeat something that made me a lot of money and so many people happy?

I mean, besides the producers of “Shrek 12,” who would want to do that?

But the commercial incentive is apparent; the Tom Hanks/Fred Rogers movie is likely to do gangbuster business and generate interest in what it’s like to live in Mr. Rogers Real Neighborhood, a place I’ve called home since 1992 and written about in my blog since 2019. 

That, for me, seemed like a good hook and an authentic reason for me to engage. 

I explain it all in this Bulletin story. Please get in touch if you have any Fred stories or are interest in sharing why his spirit still matters here in Latrobe and around the world.

Happy Mother’s Day!


—    <<  >>   —               —    <<  >>    —                 —    <<  >>   —


It was this week last year that Triumph Publishing released my book, “Arnold Palmer: Homespun Stories of The King.” In the year since, my editor has called repeatedly to gush that sales were exceeding expectations.

The satisfaction I feel over that news is surpassed only by my appreciation over how well it sold right here in Latrobe. I joke that it’s like everyone in town bought five copies. “They read one and they use the other four to stabilize wobbly furniture.”

That’s a silly exaggeration, but my gratitude is heartfelt. 

Why is it selling so well? I can think of two reasons. One of them, obviously, is Arnold Palmer, one of the most compelling men from the last 100 years. 

The other is you.

One of the best decisions I made upon landing the contract — maybe the best decision — was to reach out to readers of the Latrobe Bulletin and let you know I was eager to hear your stories about our famous neighbor. Those stories enriched my book the way our neighborly association with Arnold Palmer enriched our town.

A year later, I’m back to humbly repeat my request: Latrobe, please tell me your stories.

Not about Arnold Palmer.

No, I want to hear your stories about you. Well, you and Mr. Rogers.

I want to hear why you live here and if you or your loved ones are ever motivated by the benevolent spirit of Fred Rogers.

We’re just seven months until the release of the Tom Hanks/Fred movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” The movie — experts are predicting a blockbuster — is bound to have people around the world asking, “So what’s the real Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood really like?

The book I’m considering will not be a biography of Rogers or a history of Latrobe (although there will be elements of both). At this point I anticipate the book will rely heavily on my observations of what it’s like to live here, as my family and I have done since 1992.

See, I didn’t know Fred.

But I do know Latrobe. I hang out in its bars, patronize its businesses, attend its church services, its festivals and am chummy with both its community leaders as well as its happy rabble (some of them fit neatly in both categories).  

So if you know any great first person Fred stories (funny, heroic, generous), by all means, please get in touch.

But I’ll be just as pleased to hear any stories from men and women who decide to help a stranger change a tire because, gee, that’s what Fred would have done; stories of how some distant stranger treated you with extra care because they found out you were from Latrobe, birthplace of Fred Rogers, Mr. Rogers’ Real Neighborhood.

I can be reached at 724 961-2558; storyteller@chrisrodell.com.

I’m hoping this book will be a definitive answer to the question, “What’s Mr. Rogers’ Real Neighborhood really like?”

To me, it’s a special place. It’s full of boisterous characters, robust natures and so many kind hearts I sometimes wonder if it’s our chief export. But Latrobe is not a fantasy. It’s not a fable. It’s not a safe space. 

It’s a real town with real people. 

And with this book, I intend to keep it real.