Thursday, February 24, 2011

Death to Gaddafi

I do not consider myself the bloodthirsty sort, but when CNN broadcasts angry mobs executing Col. Muammar Gaddafi I’ll TiVo the kill.
Like I do with favorite sporting moments, I’ll likely watch it a bunch the first few weeks, then maybe once a month, then maybe once a year on the anniversary.
It’s something I may savor with a glass of cabernet.
He was the first contemporary tyrant I ever hated and you never forget your first.
He was always in the headlines for horrific and bloody mayhem when I was a young newspaper reporter in Nashville and Greensburg, Pennsylvania.
To me, he is a Founding Father of state-sponsored terrorism. His money and menace were behind the 1972 Olympic killings and a string of deadly bombings throughout Europe in the 1980s. His bombs blew up discotheques, and machine guns paid for with his oil money slaughtered dozens waiting to board airline flights in Rome and Vienna.
He was an avid supporter of Iran when it held American’s hostage and later when it went to war with Iraq when Saddam Hussein was a key Middle East ally of ours -- and my how times change.
Ronald Reagan tried and failed to kill him with bombing raids in 1986, strikes that killed 45, including Gaddafi’s adopted daughter, but did nothing to deter him.
Then he and his henchmen were behind the Dec. 21, 1988, bombing of Pan Am flight 103 when it was 31,000 feet over Lockerbie, Scotland. The explosion killed 259 crew and passengers and 11 village residents upon whom the thousand pound chunks of debris without warning rained.
Two of the victims were local girls, Elyse Saraceni and Beth Johnson from  Greensburg’s Seton Hill College. The pair were returning from Europe to spend Christmas home with their families. I contributed coverage of the funerals and local outrage over the killings that remains unavenged.
The recollection of those poignant holiday losses still galls.
His body count may or may not be as high as Osama bin Laden’s, but his deadly aspirations have always been the same. 
That’s why I’ve been mystified by the change in Gaddafi’s stature over the last 10 years.
Admittedly, much about U.S. foreign policy mystified me over the last 10 years, but I’ve been most surprised about the shift in attitude toward Gaddafi by the people I count on to know better.
It was summarized thusly by David Blair, diplomatic editor of the prestigious Daily Telegraph in London. Here’s what he wrote in 2009:
"In his four decades as Libya's 'Brother Leader', Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has gone from being the epitome of revolutionary chic to an eccentric statesman with entirely benign relations with the West.”
Revolutionary chic? Eccentric statesman?
Now, I’m not versed in the deft, polite ways of diplomatic conversation, but WTF?
This is not some colorful and benign leader with quaint and idiosyncratic ways. This is a homicidal madman.
The revolution in Egypt was a euphoric triumph. What’s happening in Libya is compelling for more base reasons.
There will be no apologies, no trial, no exile to some cushy Mediterranean splendor.
This ending is preordained.
We’re witnessing the fruits of four decades of bloody repression ripen in real time. We have the opportunity to watch every step as determined mobs advance to an inevitable end that will make squeamish diplomats turn away.
Gaddafi’s vowed to fight to his last drop of blood.
It’s the one public utterance he’s made I wholeheartedly endorse.
Hope you like hell, you son of a bitch. There's a seat saved for you.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The sunny side of Earth 2050

I paused momentarily on seeing a Yahoo headline that read: “Scientists: Earth 2050 will be unrecognizable.” 
I thought, gee, why on Earth 2011 would I want to read a downer like that?
Then I felt shame for my knee-jerk pessimism. I was making the common mistake of confusing change with something detrimental.
It didn’t have to be that way.
In fact, the story, which I never bothered to read, could be a rosy development. Really, there are day-old diapers that don’t need changing as badly as does much of the planet.
But just in case my first impression was correct, I’m re-writing the story from the view of someone who isn’t averse to change and anticipates improvements the less visionary cannot fathom. Here you go:
“Earth will be unrecognizable in the year 2050 -- and you better start hoping you live to enjoy it.
Because it’s going to be safer, happier, healthier and hairier.
The munitions industry will perfect smart bullets that only hit people who really have it coming. The instant one leaves the barrel, new smart bullets will begin to determine if the target is hostile or psychotic enough to deserve lethal ventilation. If it concludes he or she is not, the bullet will automatically select a more worthy target.
“In fact,” says one scientist, “many smart bullets will get within a foot or two of the intended target and decide the world will be better off if it reversed and struck the person who fired it in the first place.” 
Starvation will be eliminated by advances in fax machine that will allow restaurants to fax leftovers to the hungry.
“These fax machines will allow restaurants to, rather than wasting so much food,  fax them to homes throughout the world where people are hungry. At first,  starving families may complain about static menus -- ‘What! Pizza Hut AGAIN!’ -- but variety will increase as even mom ‘n’ pop diners become acquainted with how to fax things like T-Bones and mashed potatoes without without jamming the machines.”
A simple cure for the common cold will have an unexpectedly beneficial effect on rain forest preservation. Without the sniffles or other unseemly nastiness, the need for acres and acres of tree-devouring tissues or TP will be greatly reduced. Trees will thrive. Air will become cleaner.
The growth of landfills will reverse as engineers refine green ways to use all human waste, biological and consumer, to run collapsible Cadillacs that grow and shrink depending on nearby traffic conditions.
“A car will grow to spacious dimensions on interstates, and will reduce in city traffic to more manageable sizes. By 2050, urban parking garages will all have become butterfly gardens as collapsible cars will be folded up and carried around in shirt pockets and purses until they’re needed for the drive home.”
By the year 2050, hair will be farmed like soy, wheat and alfalfa. Bald men will, for a nominal fee, be allowed to harvest whatever color and texture hair they desire from organic neighborhood hair farms.”
So there.
We are in for dramatic changes and most of it will be beneficial to all mankind.
Personally, I’m hoping that some prestigious and still-thriving news magazine will in 2050 eventually unearth these bold predictions and someplace like that will publish something like this, citing me and my sunny foresights from all those years ago.
Maybe these very revelations will in 39 years vault me from obscurity to the forefront of public consciousness. I will be considered relevant and witty all across Earth 2050.
Of course, I’ll be 87 and about nine years past my life expectancy by the time that heady recognition finally arrives.
I’m optimistic I’ll enjoy a couple of good weeks of prosperity and flattering attention before my demise. 
See, we all have something to look forward to!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My Biblical confusions

I remember reading what to me seemed a profound Biblical phrase from when I was about 25. My recollection of the precise wording was: “He who uses well what he is given shall be given more.”

My memory of it is crystal clear.
So I was surprised this morning when I went to look it up and saw that for nearly 25 years I’ve had it all wrong.
The passage attributed to Jesus Christ that struck me as so indelible is from the book of Matthew 13:12 and says, “For to him who has will more be given and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.”
I don’t know why I’m surprised I had it wrong. I often forget the “not” part in many of the Ten Commandments, oversights that are forever getting me into hot water with my wife, my neighbors and, I guess, the Almighty rule maker.
And -- sorry, Jesus -- my version’s better. It’s more concise, makes more sense and doesn’t ramble about in such confusing fashion.
What do you expect? He’s just a carpenter. 
I’m a professional blogger, well, as professional as any blogger who doesn’t earn a dime relentlessly blogging can be.
So let’s go by my phrasing and issue a report card for over the past 20 years. That’s a fair enough time for a reckoning. What have I apparently used well enough to be given more?
Let’s run it down:
• Spare change -- If you ever need a quarter, I’m the man. I’ve always kept piles of change handy in my life. Ever since 1986, I’ve always tossed the daily change into an old wine carafe. Once it fills, I count it up and usually get about $115. So if my interpretation of the Biblical phrase is true, I’ve done well with change and have been given more.
• Friends -- A morose friend of mine was saying the other day he believes we only have one real friend in our lives. Nonsense, I told him. I’ll bet I have about 50 really good friends -- and I’m not talking about people whose mere company I enjoy. I have hundreds of those. I’m talking about 50 people who will without question help me do things like bury bodies in the woods. I tried to cheer the guy up by telling him, “Hey, there are probably two or three people right in this bar that are your friends -- and you’re not even very popular.” I’m glad I have so many good friends because that man is now very pissed at me.
• Wives -- It gets tricky here because, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, it depends on what the definition of the word “use” is. I’ve only had one wife and, believe me, that’s plenty. But have I used her wisely? I know some very religious men who insist the wife should be submissive. These men, one in particular, must use their wives very well because they are working on acquiring their third and fourth ones. I’m convinced most men don’t want real wives. They want mail-order brides unfamiliar with the English language. Maybe I should try that. I could really use a mail-order bride.
• Golf balls -- This confuses me because I don’t use a golf ball very well. I can’t hit it straight, far or near where I aim. Yet, I have hundreds of them.
• Folding money -- I think this is the source of why I remembered that phrase with such clarity. It seemed like such a simple roadmap to riches. Use it well and you’ll be given more. If that’s so, then it’s damning evidence that I’ve done poorly with my money. I believe I use my money wisely. I’m not extravagant. But frets about money have dogged me my entire life. Life is not giving me more and I’m certainly not going to demean myself by running around after it.
• Time -- What gives with this? I’m a man with all the time in the world. I’ve fatigued proselytizing Hare Krishnas who fled my house saying, sorry, time to run. I’ll spend 15 minutes talking nonsense with the guys who work the butcher counter at the local supermarket. But have I used my time well? I’m 48 have no achievements and made no mark. I’ve had a hell of a lot of fun, but is that a wise use of my time?
Maybe one day it’ll all make sense, but it seems the one thing in my life I’ve really used well is, alas, my cents.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


The men at the bar cast eager eyes at me as I walked through the door. I imagine it must have been a look monumentals like Gen. George Washington, Pericles and Moses felt in slightly more trying circumstances.
These men needed an answer. And they looked to me to provide it.
It took me about two minutes before I shattered the tension and announced with cool confidence.
“Max Yasgur.”
They needed to know the name of the Bethel, N.Y., farmer who owned the land where the 1969 Woodstock festival was held.
I felt a cerebral surge of pride. It was particularly gratifying because I had the answer to that and every question right in my pocket.
I finally bought a low-end iPhone, a G3 for just $45. It is the most amazing device I’ve ever seen or conjured.
And I fear my smart phone will make me stupid.
That’s why my recollection of the late Yasgur was so satisfying.
Understand, in this great neighborhood bar there used to be a chalk board where the owner posted scintillating sports trivia questions. We spent hour after joyful hour challenging our intellects.
Then the stupid smart phone ruined it all. Our friend Dave stopped posing questions about six months ago when mental defectives started googling the answers before the rest of us had a real go at it.
With the answer to every question so easily accessible, why bother storing any information in our cranial warehouses?
My old phone was so decrepit we were unable to transfer the phone numbers to the new one. I had to do it manually.
Of the 77 contacts I figure I really “know” just five phone numbers. Just five numbers I could recall in a panic situation.

Ours will be the last generation to remember actual phone numbers and the only one we'll all remember is 867-5309.
Does that number ring a bell? Hell, does your phone even ring a bell? Probably not.
Now, the digital tsunami even has me feeling nostalgic for old phone numbers. 
I still remember the euphoria of slyly persuading an inebriated innocent to give me her number. The fact that it usually turned out to be a fake number did not diminish the heady jubilation.
Exchanging phone numbers was the first essential step in the tumultuous and exciting process that -- cross your fingers -- would lead to other, more vital exchanges.
Now, we give a person our names and within seconds they know everything there is to know about us.
Maybe I’m becoming more sensitive to the mass degradation of our brains because I’m dealing with a mother, 78, who, like many seniors, has self-diagnosed Alzheimer’s. She convinced herself the dreaded disease is stealing her faculties.
She watches a lot of TV and has also self-diagnosed fibromyalgia, mesothelioma and chronic fatigue syndrome. My thin patience will vaporize the instant Mom says she fears she might have erectile dysfunction.
As for the Alzheimer’s, it’s nonsense. She’s seen two physicians -- I was there for one of them -- who assured her their tests and observations reveal there’s nothing wrong with her.
They said she shouldn’t stress over forgetting minor things and suggest she might want to consider brain exercises like crosswords to help keep her sharp.
I suggest she just mutes the commercials anytime she sees an ad featuring a doctor, a lawyer or any elderly couple who appear on the verge of a romantic interlude.
She remains a vivacious and engaging woman and last night we chatted about how great it would be if, like Dad seven years ago, she just toppled over on the couch one day and was dead before hitting the floor.
She doesn’t fear death. She fears losing her mind.
I fear with my precious new smart phone I’m just giving mine away.
It’s something to think about.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Capt. Mark Kelly, a heavenly hubby

On this Valentine’s Day, I’d like to salute Capt. Mark Kelly, husband of recovering gunshot victim, U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords.
He’s succeeding in looking like Earth’s most steadfast husband while preparing to abandon his brain-damaged wife to go on a million-mile jaunt with six of his buddies.
Yes, every happily married couple needs a little space.
The news of her recovery since the January 8 shooting that left six dead and 13 injured has been astonishing.
That anyone could be shot through the head and suffer relatively minor injuries is either a miracle or evidence that much of the average human brain is full of lots of stupid or otherwise useless grey matter.
I don’t think that’s the case with Kelly. To me, the guy’s a genius. Clearly, he’s using his full brain.
I’m not suggesting he doesn’t love his (second) wife. He and Giffords met in 2003 at a Young Leaders Conference in Beijng.
Or so I’ve read. I wasn’t invited. Even if I had been, I’d have been unable to attend  having previous obligations at the Middle-Aged Followers Conference here in Latrobe.
Truly, it is a great love story about a very appealing couple.
Yet I can’t help but marvel at Kelly’s deft ability to maneuver public opinion into crowning him husband of the year at the very instant he’s planning to blast off from his wife’s hospital bedside to go into outer space.
I know husbands who struggle to wrangle spousal okey-dokies for long golf weekends in Myrtle Beach.
It’s a pity. I’ve had some of my best times there with the boys. We play golf, cards, get a little drunk and spend the nights enriching one dollar bill at a time the mysterious college funds of pasty-bedecked girls whose names all seem to end in the letter “i.”
When you look at it that way, it sounds almost wholesome.
The matrimonial reluctance to spend time apart baffles me. 
I’m convinced marriage benefits from more time apart -- and don’t confuse that for cynicism. I’m a man who loves his wife and his two darling daughters, one who just happens to revel in every chance he has to get the hell away from them.
Like the sky-bound Kelly, I need a little space.
Of course, so does my wife. The kids, 10 and 4, are at an age when they are acting increasingly like war-minded Romulans.
They’re driving both of us crazy. But it’s a lot easier for me to justify up and vamoosing than it is for her.
Like Kelly, one of just 65 NASA astronauts, I can always claim my credentialed travels are business-related. (“Honey, do you think I WANT to spend four days in New York City?”)
I’m sure, rather than New York, Val wishes she could board a space shuttle for a months-long mission exploring the effects of cabernet on low-gravity, stressed-out mothers.
A really long space vacation would be her dream vacation right now. Me, too. I’d love to arrange a two-week space flight for just the two of us. Instead of things like ant farms and petri dishes, we’d freight the craft with Snuggies, pillows, books, cases of wine, and the complete DVD collection of “The Sopranos” series, which we’re getting back into.
The seclusion would be heavenly.
But we had trouble Saturday arranging a babysitter for lunch and an afternoon matinee of “The King’s Speech” (loved it!). How are we going arrange two weeks of lunar day care?
The logistics would be out of this world.
So we’ll hustle through another half-assed Valentine’s Day hoping conversely the two of us can soon enjoy both more time together and more time apart.
Me, I’ll be watching in admiration as Kelly on April 19 boards the Space Shuttle Discovery for two weeks away from his healing wife, time he can spend gazing down on earth, and basking in the knowledge he’s circling a planet where millions of wives swoon, “Now, there goes a husband who really cares.”
The only way I’ll be more impressed is if the space shuttle makes an unscheduled landing for four days in Myrtle Beach.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

I have work to do

It’s two days ‘til Valentine’s Day and I’m in love. I want to send flowers, write sappy poems and tell my darling sweetheart about the tender feelings our coupling inspires.
My wife?
That’s a given. 
But this isn’t about my betrothed. This is about the one that will maybe one day allow me buy the tangible things for Val that words, the impoverished blogger’s cheapskate gift, can’t convey.
This love letter is dedicated to
Isn’t she lovely?
I might be the only man on earth who considers a corporate media monolith cuddly, but such is the circumstance of the last three years.
It was a time when I felt unloved by anyone with the power to sign a paycheck.
Since about 2007, I’ve steadily been depleting my life savings and groveling for any rare paying assignments that would allow me to keep my nose just above the water.
I’m not ashamed of that. I know many talented freelancers who just up and quit.
What they’re doing instead, I do not know. I know of a book about the pitfalls of freelance writing called, “Too Lazy To Work, Too Nervous To Steal.”
I remember it so well because it suits me. I love telling stories about interesting people and places. It just doesn’t pay all that much.
I know people who work very hard at difficult jobs that rule their lives.
The world needs people like that.
But it also needs people like me. Ambition-free men and women willing to on occasion rise from our hammocks, survey the world, comment on what we see and plead, “Won’t SOMEONE for the love of God fetch me another pina colada?”

For reasons I can’t fathom, the endeavor doesn’t pay all that much.
That’s why I’m so tickled that, thanks to an old friend, I’ve landed what seems to be a really reliable gig with a prestigious news outlet, millions of readers and decent pay that shows up on time without the indignity of unseemly hassling.
Given what you know about me, can you see why I’m stricken with romantic feelings every time I see guys like Al Roker and Brian Williams?
In the past 10 weeks, travel has run eight of my features, often with prominent top of the page display. They ran three in just the past week.
And I have six fresh assignments waiting for me to dig into.
I wake up in the morning and, gee, I have something fun and productive to do.
It’s all thanks to Facebook. Sure, what they helped bring about in Egypt was nifty, but finding me work might be more historic.
I buddied up with Bill Briggs with whom I was a young reporter at the now-defunct Nashville Banner back from about 1985-1989.
It was a magical place to learn the craft of news writing and storytelling. I still have so many great friends from there and the memories of the fun remain vivid.
Today, Bill is traveling the country promoting his book, “The Third Miracle: An Ordinary Man, A Medical Mystery & A Trial of Faith.”

He also contributes wonderful travel, health and business stories to I’m unclear as to how the connections were offered -- I don’t think my begging was too unseemly -- but he put me in touch with three friendly editors there.
I didn’t realize how much I missed the pulse of writing for a daily news outlet. I’ve spent much of the past 10 years writing for magazines that publish six months after the story’s been accepted (and pay about two months after that).
It’s a terrible grind.
True story: I wrote a 2,000-word assigned story for the world’s biggest men’s magazine in August 2008. They paid me, but the story has yet to run. I heard from the editor this week. He says it’ll appear this August.
The topic? The importance of being patient.
I swear to God.
Now, my stories are appearing so rapidly I hear from subjects before they hear from me.
Even better, the editors hunger for fun, offbeat topics that aren’t too different from what I explore here on the blog.
For instance, when the news outlets were all fired up about stories involving invasive TSA pat-downs I knew there had to be about 1,000 people named Pat Downs in America.
I turned in a story idea: “What do Pat Downs think about pat-downs?”
The editor called and asked if I could have it to them in 12 hours.
It took me two hours.
That’s an indication of how I’ve hungered to work on fun stories with tight deadlines.
I’m having a ball.
So how can I thank my old friend?
I bought his book and intend to write some deservedly good reviews about the book that details how once-regular folks become saints.
The process is riven with as much seedy bureaucracy as majestic and is particularly timely as the scandal-plagued Catholic Church hurtles toward making Pope John Paul II the fastest man to become a saint in church history.
But I, of course, feel obligated to do something more concrete, maybe a restaurant gift certificate so he and his wife can enjoy a nice meal. Too bad he’ll have to wait until about 2015 for that.
Despite the boost in productivity and income, I’m still feeling about Eight Days To Amish.
I’d intended this to be a story about the stories behind the stories, but this got away from me. Maybe some other time. But here are some links to recent features they’ve run.
I think you’ll understand why I’m having so much fun.
• Ray's Pizza  . . .
• Welcome to Mars, Pa.! . . .
• What Pat Downs thinks about pat-downs . . .
• Upscale ice fishing . . .
• A little love for Intercourse, Pa.  . . .

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Zsa Zsa & when it's time to go

I’m seeking friendly subversives who’ll help me start a rumor that Zsa Zsa Gabor’s amputated foot is up for eBay auction.
Hell, I’d pay through the nose for a celebrity foot.
Gabor, once one-third of the most glamourous sister trio on the planet, celebrated her 94th birthday on Sunday.
And I’m again reminded of the cruel indignities of excessive age.
As many people die too old as do people who die too young. I think most everyone who’s ever been born would live conversely more full lives if we all died about 18 months before we actually do.
This puts me at odds with rascally Prince Frederic von Anhalt, Gabor’s ninth husband since 1986. His life philosophy reminds me of a great Robert Earl Keen song, “The Road Goes On Forever (and The Party Never Ends).”
The prince released a horrific picture of him presenting her a “Happy Birthday Baby!” cake days after the amputation, a drastic operation many anorexics might confuse with a novel way to lose weight fast.
The picture shows Anhalt beaming above an expressionless Gabor who with her left hand appears to be pawing at the cake’s pink icing flowers. Her once voluptuous body sprawls beneath a hospital gown.
It’s pathetic and should never have been made public.
He said he released the photo so “people can see that she’s not half-dead,” an odd unintentional play on the old glass half full/half empty debate.
At 94, the woman I remember most for playing Erika Tiffany Smith on “Gilligan’s Island,” looks way past seven-eighths dead to me.
Really, if you’re 94 and the doctors say the most prudent medical thing to do is to start, piece by piece, removing parts of you, I’d say it’s time to close the book.
In my observations the people who seem to enjoy life the least seem to cling to it the most. They go to desperate lengths to add days to lives spent in shadow.
This certainly wasn’t the case with the ever-vivacious Gabor, author of the 1970 book, “How To Catch a Man, How to Keep a Man & How to Get Rid of a Man.”
She flitted from marriage to marriage, role to role, and seemed to enjoy having her life play out on the front pages of National Enquirer. She joked her greatest role was that of housekeeper: “I’ve been married eight times and every time the marriage ended I got to keep the house.”
She made sensational headlines in 1991 when she slapped a Hollywood police officer over a routine traffic stop. She she did a funny send-up of the incident during the opening credits of the hilarious “Naked Gun” sequel starring Leslie Nielsen.
So it saddens me to see her slow death being played out as if its some virtuous sort of testament to an indomitable spirit.
No, it would be far better if she’d have died, oh, probably about four years ago.
Now, the best we can hope for is that her husband the Prince -- and that’s a story too tangled for snappy distillation -- loses control of her chair as he’s wheeling her out to the limo and she zips down the drive and out onto the freeway where, for reasons of slapstick impact, she gets run over by a runaway steam roller.
I swear if the doctors ever come to me and say, “It doesn’t look good. We’re going to have to remove a foot.”
I’ll tell them to forget it. I intend to die with dignity. They’re not taking a whole foot off me.
“Heck, doc, I’m only 5-9. I can’t spare even an inch.”
Maybe they’ll conclude the sensible thing to do is relocate the point of amputation.
Like at the neck.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dealing with life's disappointments

Yesterday’s callers all sounded as if they’d been dispatched from the suicide hotline.
“You gonna be okay?”
“It gets better, believe me . . .”
They all thought the Pittsburgh Steeler Super Bowl loss had me way out on the ledge.
In the great canon of my life’s disappointments, this one barely registers.
I can’t recall the disappointment that inspired the attempt, but I once set out to divine history’s most pessimistic summation of this great practical joke we all call life.
Here’s what I came up with:
“Life is a series of disappointments, each one greater than the last, leading inexorably to the grave.”
It doesn’t, I admit, have the same pithy ring of “Have a Nice Day!” but the essence is evergreen.
This has been especially true for someone like me whose life has been plagued by persistent delusions of grandeur.
Perhaps the clearest example of this was spring of 2009. The Pittsburgh Penguins had just won their third Stanley Cup.
Pittsburgh was hosting a raucous parade attended by 250,000 revelers. The Pens rode in open cars and basked in the adulation of a metropolis they had by the tail.
I remember sitting home watching the euphoria on TV and thinking, man, I can’t believe no one called to invite me to be part of this.
And I wasn’t talking about the parade. Homeless derelicts were welcome at that.
I meant being up their on the podium with the champs.
Let’s for a moment examine this. I was an outstanding amateur hockey player -- and that’s no delusion -- but I ceased playing after high school. I covered the Ohio University Bobcats hockey team for the college newspaper, and later coached an area high school hockey for three bewildering seasons (combined record 8-42).
As for the Penguins that year, I’d done basically squat. I hadn’t attended a single game or contributed anything to the local media driving more rabid paying fans.
Sure, I watched the games on TV and wore my Penguins hat to the grocery store for milk whenever my hair was misbehaving, but that was it.
Yet for some reason, I felt the heads of the Penguin organization should have extended an invitation to have me be part of the team festivities -- the parties, the stag dinners, the midnight gatherings at the private strip clubs.
Why I feel this way is a complete mystery.
I do know this: everyone would have enjoyed themselves more if they had invited me -- and that’s no delusion.
As for my professional life, each and every day is, I swear, a crushing disappointment.
I go to bed each night distraught that some prestigious editor hasn’t called to say they want my novel and that Stephen Spielberg is interested in discussing the screenplay.
And then there’s this deadbeat blog. I figured it would take about a six months to gain an enormous audience and interest from wage-paying syndicates who’d want to shower me with praise, perks and piles of cash.
It’ll be three years in May and there’s still no sign it’s destined to become the national mania I was convinced it would be.
The strange thing about this is I know pockets of people who are absolutely insane for it. They give me just the reaction I’d hoped for when I commenced this solitary uphill climb.
They become despondent if I go more than three days without posting something fresh. They can’t all have substance abuse problems or foolish beliefs if they say nice things to me I’ll pay them all the money I owe them.
Talk about your delusions of grandeur.
So, yes, the Steelers loss was a disappointment. But I shall press on.
It’s all I know to do.
Because life is full of disappointments. The best we can all do is to cherish what we have while we have it.
Me, I’m going to divert my sporting interests to the Penguins and hope they are on a joyful march toward a fourth Stanley Cup.
Maybe this time someone will think to call me for the celebrations.
I’ll be disappointed if I’m not first to sip champagne from the Cup.