Wednesday, May 31, 2023

What we used to call Tweets of the Month...

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• I swear, if I were a lumberjack, I’m certain I’d spend less time jackin’ lumber and more time sitting in the shade pondering what to me is the root question of the profession: “Okay, the boss ordered me to cut this tree down. And as soon as I do he’ll order me to cut the tree up. Down! Up! Up! Down! Make up your mind! … Or is it make it down?” It ain’t easy having the brain of a free-range chicken.

• Thought of showing solidarity with my striking Hollywood writing brothers and sisters until I realized how impractical it would be, what with pals forever inviting me to cross my own Tin Lizzy picket line and join them inside for a drink. #ChrisCross

• Book facts: “Evan & Elle” vs. “The Holy Bible”

The “Holy Bible”  contains 783,137 words, none of which is the word Bible. It’s true: The word “Bible” does not appear in The Bible.  “Evan & Elle” is 85,842 words long, 17 of which are the word Bible. Also, the word “begat” is used 139 times in the Bible, but not once in my book. Yet 9 times in my book, “hot tub” is used  and it appears not even once in The Bible. Then there is this: The Holy Bible sells roughly 100 million copies each year. In almost one year, “Evan & Elle” has sold 133 copies. What all this means, I cannot fathom, but this much I know ... my next book is going to have a heckuva lot more begatting than “Evan & Elle.”

• Just finished my morning banana. Looking for a place to safely dispose of the hazardous peel. Even though I find slapstick  comedies about guys slipping on carelessly discarded banana peels hilarious, I wouldn't want to risk injuring an innocent. I wonder if monkeys are so careful. I'd think Monkeyland would be an endless carnival of primate pratfalls. I wonder if monkeys laugh when another monkey slips on a peel. Some days I wish I were a monkey.

• It is generally agreed there are 600,000 words in the English language. But until we find another word for trunk, which describes both the front of an elephant and the back of a car, confusion will rain, er, reign.

• My fear is that another unforeseen consequence of climate change is when the weather forecasters say, “It’s really comin’ down in buckets,” they’ll be speaking factually. A typical 5-gallon bucket full of water weighs about 45 lbs, enough to shred even the sturdiest umbrella. Cities will be leveled. Cat-’n’-dog precipitation will be even more gruesome. Old-timers like me will sit in shelters and regale the kiddos with our folksy stories of what it used to be like back when rain was just rain.

• Just read that Napoleon said one hour-long bath is the restorative equivalent to four hours sleep. Some will read that and use it to justify luxuriating in a nice warm bath for maybe an hour every once in a while. I go full extrapolation. Eight hour-long baths each and every day! Vive la France!

• I was blown away stuck in traffic today when my 16-year-old out-of-the-blue said just 2 words: "You're good". I immediately choked up and said, "Well, I try. I know I'm not the best provider, the hardest worker or drive the nicest car, but to have a daughter willing to say outloud what I pray she in her heart believes means I must be doing something right." She said that's not what she meant. The traffic had parted and she was telling me it was safe to proceed. 

• Coronation coverage spurred me to finally learn the identity of the neighboring properties adjacent to No. 10 Downing St. The world-famous address just seems so ordinary. That's because it is. Turns out No. 9 Downing St. is ... a Sheetz convenience mart! What's at No. 11 Downing St? Another Sheetz! I didn't research what's at Nos. 8 and 12 Downing, but I'm sensing a trend.

• There are 7.88 billion people on this angry planet. Just imagine how many there’d be if there were no wars or insane violence inflicted on one another? We’d all be stepping on one another’s toes. Maybe war and insane violence are God’s way of controlling the population. I mean imagine a world without victims. Imagine.

• Daughter just came back from a disappointing dinner with friends. Said the waitress was rude. Abrupt. Indifferent. I told her there are going to be people like that, people who resent her and her friends for their youth, their appearance, their optimism and their long, beautiful hair. Almost had her believing it until I blurted out, “Happens to me all the time!”

• When push comes to shove, I'm fine with push coming to shove. My problem is that today in America we go straight from shove to semi-automatic assault weapons. I'm growing nostalgic for the days when people used to be satisfied when all they hurt were my feelings. 

• it’s not uncommon to hear people complain things are so tight they're on a shoestring budget, meaning they have little money. Don't let me hear you bitching about that. At least, I say, you can afford shoestrings. It's way worse for me. Always broke. No work. I guess that means I'm on a loafer's budget.

• Was seeking a word to describe reader-relationship to my books and thought of “beloved.” It’s a good word, but a bit presumptuous. Too bad there isn’t “beliked.” Betolerated doesn’t exist either. Good thing because if it did I’d feel obliged to use it in relation to my precarious family situation. It would be considered unbecoming and from my home I’d likely be going

• It’s not uncommon to hear older men wistfully refer to lost loves as “the one that got away.” Now, these guys are my friends, but I knew them then and I know them now. They didn’t get away. They fled. At full speed. Like from altar to 60 mph in 3 seconds. They burned rubber. They were Bandit. You were Smokey. 

• I can imagine there is no heaven. It’s easy if I try. No hell below us. Above us only sky. I can imagine all the people living for today. I can imagine many things, but I cannot for the life of me imagine a world without bacon.

• I was trying to teach a bone-headed young friend of the value of spending, say, $140 on a fancy shirt while you’re young and affluent, as he is. “I just can’t see spending $140 on a shirt,” he said. I told him it’s only a $140 shirt the first time you wear it. Then it becomes a $70 shirt. Then the next wear it’s a $35 shirt. “Why I have some shirts I bought in 2001 that cost me mere pennies per wear and every time I wear it, I feel a surge of tastefulness amidst all the compliments.” He said, “Yeah, but I can’t see spending $140 on a shirt.” Know what I think? I should spend less time trying in vain to educate overpaid young boneheads and more time hearing style tips from my friends Kevin & Bob at Lapels in Greensburg. 

• My superiority complex is so complex it can make sense of the implausibility that a man with accomplishments and results as meager as mine can feel superior to MDs, CEOs and people who merely root for teams from places like Boston.

• The first Memorial Day was commemorated May 30, 1868. Organizers believed the day was necessary so we would never forget the cruel sacrifices of war. Today’s headlines feature news of war in Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar, Syria, Somalia, Columbia, Afghanistan, Ecuador, etc. And in case you haven’t noticed, things are getting a mite tense right here at home. Ah, war,  how can we ever forget ya? You’ve never gone away.

• I’d be lying if I said I was happy to have succumbed to male pattern baldness, but if it had to happen I’m relieved it happened years before I ever had to look in the mirror during the morning groom and ask the question: Let’s see for today: Man bun or no man bun?

• In my restless quest to funnel money from my brain into Buck 's pocket, I'm going to urge him to re-brand the Tin Lizzy basement bar as a trendy boutique winery that'll appeal to deep-pocket hipsters who enjoy being in on the joke. Coming soon (probably not), 'The Grapes of Rathskeller!'"

Monday, May 22, 2023

It's true: Fred Rogers & Arnold Palmer never got along


(674 words)

I’m proud that all my books and subsequent talks are all about spreading happiness and understanding. My aim is to uplift the downtrodden.

So why is it one of the things I’m sure my audience always remembers most is something most distressful?

I guess it’s because no one wants to believe that Arnold Palmer and Fred Rogers never got along.

It’s true.

Two of the warmest, most gracious and historically kind men didn’t like the thought of being in the same room together. Heck, it seems they didn’t like having to share Latrobe.

How do I know?

The realization came to me incrementally.

The first hint — and it was a blunt one — came in June 2004. I was in Palmer’s office days after George W. Bush had awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the U.S. can bestow.

I congratulated him and said, “How about Latrobe winning two Presidential Medals of Freedom in the last two years!”

I’d startled him. “Who won before I did?” he asked.

“Why, Fred Rogers won in 2002,” I said.

“He did? …

“Damn it.”

I thought his instinctual reaction was hilarious. After all, here was a renown competitor so sensitive to coming in 2nd he begrudged a hometown classmate for beating him to a rare honor. And not only was the winner worthy, he was beloved around the world for many of the same reasons as Palmer.

And his reaction stuck with me. Could I have misread the situation?

I’d every once in a while try to sleuth some answers.

Try this: Google “Arnold Palmer” and “Fred Rogers.” There is not one single picture of the pair together.

Big deal, you say?

They were one year apart in school; Fred is 13 months senior to Palmer and graduated in ’46, Palmer in ’47.

Within 10 years of graduation both had achieved notoriety and were well on their way to enduring international fame.

What does a small town do with a pair like that? It puts them in the Fourth of July parades. It features them at ribbon cuttings. It puts them mugging for the camera on the front page of the local paper.

Not one picture.


There are more pictures of Palmer and me.

Well, they were busy men, some will say. There’d have been scheduling conflicts.

There may well have been.

But three decades' worth?

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood"  ran from 1968 through 2001. The years coincide with the years Palmer was one of the most popular men on the planet. He’d already won armloads of international championships, presidents and royals alike sought his company and his warmth was considered so genuine, many of Americas most reputable brands showered him with cash just to have his name associated with their products.

But he was never once on a show that had “neighbor” in the title and starred a man who was an actual small town neighbor. They could have talked about old teachers, school dances, old flames, etc. They could have talked about the golf lessons Fred took from Arnie's old man, the local pro.

Instead of Palmer, featured guests included ballerinas, cops, cobblers, steel workers, nurses, athletes — friends from all walks of life. 

He even had a talking gorilla named Koko on in ’98.

I envision a production meeting where they’re discussing potential guests and someone says, “Well, we’re down to two. We could ask Arnold Palmer or we could ask Koko, the Talking Gorilla.”

I see Fred leaning back in his chair and saying, “Well, let’s ask the gorilla. If he says no, then let’s ask Palmer.”

Over 31 years and 912 episodes, there was not even a mention of Arnold Palmer.

Fascinating. I’ll leave it up to the speculators to divine who’s to blame for the apparent life-long rift between two of the most famously gracious men ever to walk the planet. 

I think it’s upsetting because we’re left to conclude, gee, if Arnold Palmer and Fred Rogers can’t overcome their petty differences, what chance do the rest of us have?

It seems we’re fated to endure lives of squabble and bitterness.

It is inescapable.

Damn it.

(All Chris's books can be bought through;; 724 961-2558)

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

My unwanted adventure inside the women's restroom


(757 words)

I mistakenly found myself on the culture war front lines Saturday at an otherwise innocent golf bash..

And, yep, my penis was partly to blame.

It by mistake led me into the ladies' room.

It’s where conservatives believe the about 1.4 percent of Americans who identify as transgender are massing to present temptations that likely would have sent Adam & Eve scrambling all over Eden searching for some sort of early owner’s manual.

The conservatives don’t want even a single penis in the ladies room. After Saturday, I can relate.

I’d been invited to sign Arnold Palmer books (primarily) at the Somerset Golf Bash at the vast Bakersville Banquet Hall. I’d have a table set up right by the entrance guaranteeing heavy foot traffic. Plus the emcee/host is a friend of mine and an articulate advocate of my books. 

And this is all in front of 300 golfers there to spend money to win golf equipment, trips and memorabilia. How many books under those advantageous circumstances do you think I sold: Twenty-five? Fifty? More?

I sold eight. I’m aware many writers would view this as yet another career humiliation. Not me.

Here’s how I did the math:

I was there from 11 to 4. Walked in with nothing; departed with $160; spent time laughing with old friends and made some new ones. Ate free and was given a little yellow wrist band that meant I was master of my sobriety.

I could drink as much or as little as I wanted — For free! I decided to err on the side of getting a little shitfaced.

Yes, I gave in to a good long guzzle. It was fun. My table mate was a recent Pitt graduate. He’d read the Palmer book and was a fan. I wasn’t driving.

Sticking to sobriety under the circumstances would have felt like a criminal betrayal of all the drinking buddies who’ve stood, er, swayed unevenly by me through so many unforgettable times neither of us will ever remember.

So I’m having fun and am just a bit north of tipsy. That’s no excuse. I’ve been having fun and been north of tipsy since the 4th grade and don’t remember missing the restroom sign. 

But this was the first time I had the guy in the mustard-stained sweater on my mind.

The stranger reminded me of my Dad, as sweet a man who ever lived, albeit one whose every garment looked like it had been worn smock-like to paint the pantry with French’s yellow mustard.

But he appeared to be so happy, being out with golfers anticipating the season. Again I thought of Dad.

The stain was on his lower back on the side that if he were a car it would be referred to as the passenger side. 

Some careless hotdog eater had perhaps brushed up against him and smeared the condiment on a sweater you just knew he cherished. The spineless assailant then just slinked away, too cowardly to confess.

That’s just what I would have done, too, by the way.

I was left with no good options. Tell him and it ruins his day. Don’t tell him and he may be ridiculed. Then there was the third option. Say nothing, do nothing and walk straight into the nearest restroom like you own the place. I don’t know how I missed the signs, but I was consumed with helpless thoughts of this dude’s mustard-stained sweater

I remember noting there were no urinals. I didn’t care. There were no women either, and an abundance of women are a telltale sign in any womens room.

I found an open stall door, entered, used my foot to lift the seat and then began to  contribute depth to the bowl contents.

It didn’t get interesting until I opened the stall door. . There were five or six women. It was like the ladies room had been invaded — by ladies!

One woman, the aggressor, asked what I was doing in there. 

I bit my tongue when I came close to reflexively answering, “My name is Chris Rodell and I’m here to tell you all about Arnold Palmer!”

She was scowling. There was an edge in her voice that let me know she was deciding whether or not a tasing was justified.

I apologized — it was sincere — and made a hasty exit. 

It was an innocent mistake. And like so many others that came before and will surely come again, assigning blame was a cinch.

Yes, it was all the fault of yet another man being careless with his wiener. 

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Saturday, April 29, 2023

Non-Tweets of the month


For the record, none of these "tweets" ever appeared on Twitter. I'm fed up with Musk. Tired of the repeated password exchange. Done with reading news about blue checks, etc. Still, these are best described as tweet-like, so ...

• SnapChat, Instagram, TikTok — 10 years ago none of us had ever heard of these. Now, they’re taking over the world. It’s a Planet of the Aps.

• A military history buff, I enjoy seeing film of great generals discussing how they made key decisions that led to victory/defeat and upon which nations rise or fall. Kind of reminds me of my wife and I  explaining how our daily Wordle went from 3 guesses to 6

• Yes, I'm aware that Sing Sing is a maximum security prison that incarcerates many of New York's most vicious cutthroats, but every time I hear Sing Sing I convince myself that Sing Sing is a maximum hilarity prison populated entirely by wrongly convicted Muppets.

• Just so she’ll never need reminding that at one time this great nation could confront head-on the really big issues, if we ever have another daughter I’m going argue we should name her, “She/Her/Hers.”

• I’m becoming convinced this 2-pound device is the most excessively engineered piece of equipment in the world. It weighs nearly 2 pounds and all it does is bend a malleable thread of wire that weighs slightly more than a sheaf of butterfly eyelashes. I don’t hold it against the stapler. I blame the staple. The man/woman who invents a simple, safe and effective “pinch” staple will make a fortune. I’m workin’ on it!

• French Gen. Jean-Baptist Kleber was in 1800 assassinated by a Egyptian nationalist. To dissuade future attacks, an 8-foot pike was inserted into the assailant's rectum clear to his still-beating heart. So if things start getting dull and you hear me say, "I have an idea! Let's go find a French general, insult him, and see what happens next," promise you'll distract me with card tricks or a pickleball match until the urge passes.

• I’m grateful for all of you who’ve told me you’re rooting —praying, even — for something good to happen to me. Well, last night driving home from class (it had gone great so I was in a good mood) it happened. I decided I’d stop at Sheetz for a small Blue Raspberry Slushie. Kid at the register said it was his treat. A $1.48 freebie! I asked why. He said I looked like a guy who needed a free Slushie. I thanked him and immediately began trying to look like a guy who needed a fast $50,000.

• I wonder if even considerate stink bugs give up on things like washing their hands after going to the bathroom or if they figure, "What's the point? Either way, everyone's still going to say, 'Hold your nose, here comes the stink bug.’’'

• Some men wake up terrified of illicit behavior being exposed. Some fear responsibility. Me? I wake up with the dreadful realization that with each passing day the teachers we grade-schoolers used to viciously mock as being mean old witches are becoming young enough to be my granddaughters.

• I found peace in the trans controversy after concluding that, not only is there evidence of LGBTQ behavior throughout the animal kingdom, there is at least one breed that appears to be in an endless trans cycle. Behold the Poodle! I've never seen a single poodle that looked like it was comfortable with his/her gender. Every poodle looks like it's in a perpetual state of transitioning. Yes, in some complicated matters, many turn to the Bible; others to science. Me? I look to the poodle!

• Dreams are like kites. It’s rare to achieve liftoff without there being at least one string attached. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • How come it took the firing of Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson to learn that Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson's full name is Tucker Swanson McNear Carlson. Maybe I'm sensitive because I have no middle name. But this much I know: If I'd have grown up with either of his middle names the mean kids would have stolen my lunch money mcnearly every single day.

• I remain perhaps foolishly optimist that someday soon great fortune and recognition will at last be mine. Yet I now worry that within hours of the windfall some killjoy doctor will inform me I’ve got 48 hours to live. Don’t let that depress you. We can have a lot of fun in 48 hours

• My attempts to philosophize through the Happy Hour tanked when morons pulled out their phones and forced me to look at pictures of their kids/cars/home improvements/etc. The Art of Conversation has descended into the Graffiti of Digital Blathering.

•A hypochondriac is a person who is abnormally concerned about his or her health. A person who is abnormally concerned about error-free messages, stories or posts is a typochondriac.

• I’d have liked to have been in the classroom to have felt the palpable rage, the visceral contempt, when the high school calculus teacher said, "You'd better pay attention, mister, because this is something you're going to need every day for the rest of your life," and see the student she was lecturing was Bob Dylan.

• I tend to keep a wallet for 2 or 3 years or until I can sense it'll  never be cash prolific. For that I blame the wallet. I sense it's lazy, that it repels cash. I figure if it can't be flush after 2 coddling years, it never will. In the last 35 years Ii've probably had 17 wallets. Same work ethic.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Admiring student says he wants to become interesting -- like me!


(754 words)

An admiring student of mine flattered me by saying he wants to become interesting “just like me.”

At least I think he was admiring. He could have just been very adept at brown nosing, a tactic I’ll fall for every single time. Bona fide flatterer or skillful butt smoocher, it all has the same effect: A kid who was borderline failing has now vaulted to the top of the class.

It’s so effective I think I’ll describe the technique on the first page of next semester’s syllabus.

Here’s a portion of what he wrote: 

“I remember after the first week of the semester a coworker asked me to use one word to describe each of my professors. I used the word "Intimidating" (IN A GOOD WAY) for you. Listening to other people tell stories and ramble has always been interesting to me. So meeting someone as good at the 'storytelling' craft as you was like meeting the 'FINAL BOSS' of observers. Very rare to meet somebody that talks smart but doesn't talk boring, and that is exactly what you do. My question: How do you do it?”

It’s really a very good question, right up there with, for God’s sake, how come I can’t convert this admirable characteristic into actual income?

I understand his yearning. Understand it perfectly. Being a good storyteller was what I wanted to become when I was his age.  I remember being mesmerized by men and women telling stories of their triumphs, their failures. It’s always been there but in my case, it became acute in the Music City taverns and honky tonks.

It was there in Nashville I began to understand that whether it was good or bad, every single thing that happened in my life could become a story worth telling — as long as it was told with bedrock honesty. 

I made it my life’s mission to become a compelling storyteller, a raconteur.

Raconteur is a 19th Century French word meaning “to tell.” So any moron with a mouth can be a raconteur.

But a good one will first spend many, many years engaged in the act of — another French word warning! — auditicie.

That word means “to listen.”

I didn’t become a true storyteller until I had a treasure chest of great stories I’d heard from other people. Unless you’re an astronaut or maybe a pilot who’s landed a commercial jetliner on the Hudson River, your stories about yourself are unlikely to hold anyone’s attention. They inevitably come across as boastful.

It’s like I always say about becoming interesting (it’s one of my favorite lines): “Those who want to appear more colorful get tattoos. Those who want to become more colorful get library cards.”

So you need to find out where the colorful people — good and bad — hang out.

I find many of them in divey bars. They have sketchy backgrounds, angry dispositions, an outstanding warrant or two.

I have many good friends from church who confess to being sinners and are ashamed of it. And I’m friends with guys in bars who confess to being sinners and they brag about it.

Which is the more compelling character?

And then there’s this to consider: there are two types of listeners. Actual listeners and those who give the impression they’re actually listening.

Being the latter is far preferable

An actual listener smiles and nods sympathetically, all the while preparing to offer salient advice that’s never sought. Most people simply want to talk to anyone who simply smiles and nods. They don’t want your lousy advice and may, in fact, respond with hostility once it’s offered.

The reaction leads the actual listener to feelings of uselessness and burnout and inevitably they end up back in the bar hoping to sit next to someone who’ll merely smile and nod, smile and nod.

At his or her heart every really good raconteur enjoys being human and enjoys human beings.

Struggle with those essentials?

Befriend an elderly neighbor, volunteer at a local animal shelter or join a church choir. Or you could do what I did.

Read Mark Twain.

I recommend starting with the broadly delightful travelogues, “Following The Equator,” “Life on the Mississippi” and “Innocents Abroad.”

These books exude humanity in all its glory and are told by America’s greatest storyteller. 

I could go on and on. The topic is that dear to me. But I sense some of you are beginning to smile and nod, smile and nod. So that’s plenty. 

As always, thanks for listening.

Or at least appearing to. 

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Friday, March 31, 2023

March (what used to be called) Tweets of the Month


Dog (Snickers) on left from back when he was a remote-sized puppy.  No reason for posting. No reason at all. Enjoy your weekend!

• I’m so conditioned to every innovation being related to snack foods that when I heard Elon Musk was promoting brain chips, I thought, man, I hope he makes some with sea salt & cracked pepper.

• I’m not insinuating our local volunteers join for social reasons. I'm sure it's just pure coincidence that every Friday at 4 p.m. the local whorehouse catches on fire.

• Texas teacher arrested for having sex with student in classroom failed to realize that while educators may touch the future, you're toast if they bust you fondling it.

• It’s Thursday, the day I begin making lists of all the old friends I haven’t talked to in years with the sincere intention of spending the weekend making long personal calls to and will once again put off because it’s the weekend and I’d rather not spend it making long, personal calls to all the old friends I haven’t talked to in years.

• It defies explanation, but if you cherish every moment, life somehow finds a way to give you more moments to cherish.

• Yard work. Painting. Excavating. When in work-obsessed America did weekends cease being weekends? Weekends should be for relaxing. Reading. Cuddling. Jigsaw puzzles. Fewer and fewer seem to realize this. Wake up, America! And go right back to sleep …

• The panic headline du jour involves some techie-sounding bank default they say could impact my savings, which, in fact, are right now at  $0.00. Look, I've endured, and some would say thrived, through pandemic and the death of my favorite bartender. To do what I do, I've been ignored, rejected, mocked and disparaged. I've survived the first six weeks of Kenny Pickett's QB career and the last six week's of the Trump presidency. And here it is again, Monday. You think you can rattle me with accounting errors? Bring it.

• Binge watching is the act of devoting consecutive hours to enjoying a much-hyped program. More common is grudgingly watching a declining show just because of some insane concept of viewer obligation. The realization makes you sick. This is the point at which you've gone from binge watching to purge watching.

• Whether it be climate change or a sudden preference for having their breakfast worms frozen, but robins are no longer a reliable harbinger of Spring. Heck, I've seen robins in January. Looking for a sign of Spring you can trust? Look for me strolling around town in this shirt. I promise to not wear it until the last lick of winter is put to bed. I'm thinking this year it'll be April 14. Now, is it a more reliable sign of Spring if I'm wearing pants or not?

• Being a dedicated and efficient law enforcer is one of the few roles that allow a public servant to truthfully declare they can bust our asses while simultaneously busting theirs. 

• One of my all-time favorite movies is "Scent of a Woman" from 1992, or as I call it in 2023, "Scent of a (she, her, hers)."

• A current national scandal features at its vortex a buxom porn star with a nickname that hearkens violent weather. Question: Will the circumstances open the minds of climate change skeptics? Or do her obvious breast implants give them all the proof they need to convince them it’s all fake?

• It says something splendid about humanity that on the day when long-forecast planetary doom finally arrives, a significant portion of the remaining population are going to be — damn the torpedoes! —having one heckuva good time. Happy Monday!

• Wildlife biologists say humans are the only animal on the planet that rolls its eyes in non-verbal communication. I say that’s because humans are the only animal that gets Dad Jokes.

• Anthropologists estimate that 117 billion humans have lived on Earth since the species appeared in about 50,000 BC. Know what that means? No matter how crappy your day is, it’ll still be better than about 97 percent of the humans who’ve ever lived.

• It’s humbling sharing a house with three opinionated females. In a foolish attempt to gauge where I rank, I made a top 10 list of their consensus priorities. No surprise. I wasn’t on it. So I extended the list to 25. I’m still not on it. But the Jonas Bros. and quinoa are.

• Nine of the last 10 new Instagram followers of mine are much younger women who either have loose morals or are determined to pose and dress as if they want the world to infer they have loose morals. Their profiles say their names are like Destiny06969 or TanyaEZ. Now, many would see all that and conclude it’s fraudulent. I gotta tell you, I see it and think, yeah, I still got it.

• In the interests of quaint authenticity, no business should be allowed to call itself a “shoppe” unless its origins date back at least to the 18th century. It’s a misleading sham that seeks to fool consumers into thinking the proprietor is some tried-and- true mainstay that in this age of slick hucksters can be trusted more than a mere “shop” keeper. Just my opinion. Sincerely, Ye Olde Blogger

• Score another victory for this '16 TINARA Award winner. Girl that cut my hair yesterday asked what I did and I told her I'm a writer. She asked what kind of books and I told her I'm all over. She likes mysteries. When I get home, there's an e-mail saying she bought "The Last Baby Boomer." Cool! So I signed one and ran straight back to the salon. I asked her why that book. "Well," she said, "they all look interesting, but I saw that was a major award winner." Then I had to confess. I made it up. I was jealous of seeing other -- in my eyes -- inferior books with gold stickers. So I invented the TINARA Awards & bestowed upon myself the '16 1st Prize and that TINARA stands for:







She laughed. Thought it was funny. At least that's what she said.

I won't know if she's upset 'til after my next hair cut.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

My letter to Grace seeking grace

 This is the letter I wrote to the 10-year-old girl, an aspiring writer, after she gave me the only copy of her 22-page handwritten book to review and I lost it.

I had her father read it first. I thought there was a chance he’d hit me. Instead, he got choked up and shook my hand.

I gotta be honest: I gave a lot of serious thought to trying to lie my way out of this one …

Dear Grace,

When your father  asked if I’d  be willing to read something you’d written, I didn’t hesitate. I’m more than happy to encourage young writers like yourself to pursue the kind of life I’ve been lucky enough to have lived.. I’ve been writing for 40 years and I still tingle with satisfaction knowing I’ve crafted a sentence that people will want to re-read because t made them laugh or think.

He gave me the draft of the book you started — in one night — on Wednesday. On Thursday I did something wise followed by something unbelievably stupid. First the wisdom.

I teach creative writing at Point Park U. I told my students that I’d begun a new book and I began to read them what you’d written. I read them two pages and asked what they thought. One student said it was “imaginative.” One said the writing was “well-paced.” Two said for me to keep reading. They wanted class turned into story time. Then I confessed I’d lied. I told them the writer was the 10-year-old daughter of a Ligonier friend. And they were amazed. One said you must be a prodigy.  I said that’s the perfect word to describe what you’re doing.

Now for the stupid. I don’t know if you can forgive me but I lost what you put so much heart into. I have no excuse. The class is 3 hours long and leads to a sprawl of papers, but I should be more careful with something so precious.  You can be furious with me. I deserve it.

But I’m going to urge you to do something else. I’m going to urge you to take three deep breaths (through the nose!). And do it all over again. The best writers aren’t really writers at all. They’re re-writers. A first draft can be a frolic. Very loose. Almost stream of conscious. I’m not saying yours was, but a rigorous re-write shines with a discipline that demands respect

So you can curse me — I’d start with that — but I recommend you learn from this and add it as another rung on the ladder to success I’m sure you’ll ascend. Lastly, make copies of EVERY THING. It’s a lesson every writer learns. It was just my incompetence that gave you a particularly vivid lesson at an early age.