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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