Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shocking news: Snake handler dies from snake bite!

Renowned Pentecostal snake handler Mack Wolford died during service Sunday. Immediately turn in your forensic pathologist badge if you think he tripped on some carpet and bumped his head on the pulpit.
Nope, he was -- get ready for it -- bitten by a rattle snake!
Adherents like the late Wolford, 44, believe the Bible issues a spiritual double-dog dare in Mark 16:17-18 where it says:
“And these signs will follow those who believe: in My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
So who’s to blame here? The timber rattler -- Crotalus horridus, if you’re fluent in Looney Tunes -- with a venomous bite that can kill in 10 hours if not treated by highly trained ER specialists or regular folks who, I guess, pray really, really hard.
Or should we blame the Bible for issuing such a flagrant challenge? How many hillbillies would be alive today if they hadn’t thought to pick up a snake the way sane grandparents pick up the young ‘uns?
I guess you could blame Wolford’s father. He was another West Virginia snake handling pastor who by the wildest of coincidences died in 1983 after he was bitten by another church snake.
What are the odds?
You have to think any surviving Wolford children are chagrined that the old man didn’t think to take to plumbing or some other trade for the family business.
Me, I hate snakes.
I find something endearing about all the whacky religions -- and every religion has some whackiness to those of us cursed with rational thought.
But I have trouble gearing up for church when I know there’s going to be a healing service because it’ll add about 10 minutes of tedium to the service.
There’s no way in hell I’m going to a church where the likely need for a healing service is scheduled for right after “the passing of the snakes,” in the church bulletin.
And I don’t think you’ll catch my kids’ school bus driver there, either.
The very day before I read about the snake-handler dying from following the mandates of his calling, our bussy drove up gesturing in a euphoric state.
As school wasn’t out for another four days. I thought maybe she was suffering from some occupational derangement. And that I would have understood.
Exposure to just two children each day has left me deranged. Multiple that by 20 and just imagine what it does to someone like her?
But I was wrong.
“I just ran over a snake on the way up the hill!” she said. “A big one! It’s down there on the side of the road! Killed it!”
After all these years of banal 12-second exchanges about weather and weekends, she was revealing a bloodthirsty side I’d never imagined. She enthused about killing the snake the same way parents do when the kid conquers potty training.
And there it was, just as she said, squashed flat but, really, without the telltale blood splatter, how could anyone tell? Snakes just go through life sort of squashed flat.
What surprised me was this snake had a nearly-identical 4-foot mate. And it was alive.
It lay there a few feet away. I’ve since tried to match the pattern and I think they were copperheads. At least that’s what I hope.
That way I could get the township to change the name to Copperhead Road, which would be much cooler because Steve Earle’s never written even a lame song called “Solomon Temple Road.”
I may be projecting here, but the remaining snake seemed sort of sad.
Before that day, I never would have imagined snakes had emotions. But this one lost its mate or perhaps its drinking buddy. I couldn’t tell if either was a boy snake or a girl snake. While some snakes may resemble penises, it’s impossible for the layman to divine if they have them.
I felt a sudden urge to warn the survivor. Trouble in a big yellow bus was about to come bounding down the hill.
I not only feared for the snake, I feared for my own children. I surmised from the tone of her voice that snakes were the McCoy to her Hatfield (and we’re loving that show).
She’d not abide another snake in the road. I worried she’d see it at the last second and swerve the vehicle so violently it might tip and slide down the road the way the train does in that iconic scene from Harrison Ford’s “The Fugitive.”

Instead, I just drove on and let nature take its course. 
We live in the woods and snakes are unavoidable. I read one website that said the easiest way to discern the difference between poisonous and harmless snakes is the eyes.
A poisonous snake will has the kind you see on biker tattoos, deadly little diamonds with an evil menace all their own.
Harmless snakes have what are described as human eyes, which is reassuring because we all know humans are incapable of evil behavior.
But I don’t intend to get into any staring contests with any of the malicious-looking reptiles. And I’ll not pray that it tests my faith in Jesus by sinking its fangs into exposed ankle.
After what I saw on Tuesday, I think I’ll just summon the kids’ bus driver next time I encounter a serpent. 
When it comes to snakes, I think she’ll know how to handle it.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Mick Jagger: an appreciation

This is bound to be controversial, but I’d rather watch Mick Jagger stand still and read “The Cat In The Hat” than look at most supermodels naked.
The calculus changes if the supermodels are in motion on a trampoline or if Jagger is singing “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” something I’ve heard him sing about 1,000 times.
He is the most mesmerizing performer in recorded history.
I realized this after watching for a second time him host “Saturday Night Live,” a show that’s been so uneven for the past 15 or so years I usually find it unwatchable.
It’s all there in the opening monologue. His every gesture, his phrasing, his posture, his winking acknowledgement of his scandalous history -- it’s impossible to take your eyes off him.
Hoover Dam is less electrifying.
I love both Elvis and Frank Sinatra, but we’ve never seen anything like Jagger, a singer songwriter of some of pop culture’s most indelible hits and the frontman for the band that’s performed live for more people around the world than anyone in history.
Biographer Laura Jackson wrote, “It is impossible to imagine current culture without the unique influence of Mick Jagger.”
Hollywood will be unable to make a credible movie about Jagger or the Stones until the minds of anyone who’s ever seen them have gone mushy. Because no actor can play Jagger.
Only Jagger can be Jagger. He cannot be duplicated
I thought about saving this for July 26 when Jagger will turn 68, but he could be dead by then. So could I.
Heck, we all could.
Well, all but Keith.
But here are some performances and essential Jagger references, trying to avoid the obvious, that never fail to start me up:
• “American Pie,” by Don McLean, 1971 -- Jagger, at the time a self-described anarchist, dominates this classic, one in which he’s never mentioned by name. 
So, c’mon, Jack be nimble, Jack be quick
 Jack Flash sat on a candle stick, ‘cause fire is the devil’s only friend
And as I watched him on the stage, my hands were clenched in fisted rage.
No angle born in hell could break that Satan’s spell
And as the flames climbed high into the night
I saw Satan laughing with delight
The Day the Music Died
This is prophetic allegory. Forty years later, nothing has broken Jagger’s spell and a recent chart topper is Maroon 5’s hit “Moves Like Jagger.”
• “You’re So Vain,” by Carly Simon, 1972 -- Throw out all the speculation about who the subject of the song is, the star of the song itself is Jagger. He’s the background singer that really kicks it into a higher gear and steals the song -- and I’m always surprised how few people realize it’s Jagger so distinctively singing background.
I love how Carly has maintained the mystery of the song’s subject, and has often denied it was Mick. Of course, she, too, denied she and Mick were ever lovers while she was married to James Taylor, a lie that’s since been acknowledged. So he did sleep with Carly -- the rascal -- and is rumored to have modeled the “Hannah Honey” character after her in the sublime, “Memory Motel” from 1976.
• “Ned Kelly,” 1970 -- One of the most fascinating aspects of Jagger is his utter inability to convincingly act like anyone other than himself. No where is this more apparent than in this, one of the worst movies ever made. It’s about the Robin Hood-like antics of the historic Australian bushwhacker and features a soundtrack by Waylon Jennings. So it’s 20th century movie about a 19th century Australian starring an English rock singer featuring songs by an American country outlaw. It’s proof drugs were prevalent in Hollywood long before shows like “The Flying Nun.” Yet, I always tune in for even a little bit whenever it’s on. It’s Jagger.
• “Don’t Tear Me Up,” Mick Jagger on SNL, 1993
The only thing derided more than Jagger’s acting are his solo albums. I don’t find them as objectionable as most but, like Keith’s solo efforts, each seems like something is missing -- and that would be the other Glimmer Twin.
But in 1993 Jagger released the credible and entertaining, “Wandering Spirit,” which bats a little better than .500 in catchy tunes, the best of which might be “Don’t Tear Me Up.” He performed it live on SNL with what Keith Richards later described as “some little jerk-off band.” But his performance is fantastic. The song starts off slow and then, like so many great Stones songs, explodes in exuberant fury.
This show also features a hilarious skit where Mick pretends he’s Keith and Mike Myers plays Mick as the two feud over street cred: Best line: “Keith” argues one point by starting, “Mick, you ignorant slut.”
• “Champagne & Reefer,” The Rolling Stones, “Shine a Light,” 2008 -- This is the kind of song that convinces me the Stones will be playing the blues in dive bars if the crowds at the arenas stop showing up. It features the harmonica-wielding Jagger trading riffs and vocals with the great Buddy Guy. Two giants playing the blues.
• “Tattoo You,” music videos, 1981 -- Music videos were in their infancy when the Stones filmed these stark videos of “Start Me Up,” “Hang Fire,” and “Worried About You.” Done in one take, they barely bother to lip sync the vocals. It’s gloriously haphazard with just the band pretending to play instruments in a barren room. It shows just how dominant Jagger can be without even the slightest of props. The best is the often-overlooked gem, “Worried About You,” a song that starts out sweet as Motown and ends up being a massive musical monster. It remains to me among their most compelling videos, second only to the playfully sexy “She Was Hot.”
And, in conclusion, some of my favorite Mick vocals on Stones classics, again hoping to avoid the obvious:
• “The Storm,” b-side from Voodoo Lounge, 1994 -- The gritty kind of song that makes me wish they’d huddle in the studio for 10 days and bang out nothing but blues. With apologies to Carly Simon, nobody does it better.
• “Rough Justice,” A Bigger Bang, 2005 -- One of my favorite Stones lines:
One time you were my baby chicken, now you’ve grown into a foxxxxxx . . .
One time I was yer little rooster, now am I just one of yer cockssssss . . .
• “No Spare Parts,” Some Girls, 1978/2011 -- I almost had to pull the car over when I first heard this on satellite radio last year. It’s a country leftover re-release snagged from the “Some Girls” sessions. Jagger re-recorded the vocals to this and others like the equally great “Do You Think I Really Care?” He’s never sounded better. It’s taken more than 40 years, but he’s actually learned how to sing. 
• “Monkey Man,” Let It Bleed, 1969 -- If for no other reason other than to hear him sing the incendiary line, “Well, I hope we’re not too messianic or a trifle too Satanic . . .”
• “Star Star,” Goat’s Head Soup, 1973 -- Hard core gangsta rappers have never managed to be as reliably filthy as every line in this song. The profane title’s sanitized so they could include it on the album. Like “You’re So Vain,” only with dozens of obscene references, this one debases Steve McQueen, John Wayne, Ali McGraw, Polaroids and tricks with fruit. It’s Chuck Berry’s music, but it’s Mick Jagger’s life.
We should all be glad we’ve been able to see so much of it.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The papal butler did it

I don’t know why I was surprised to read the pope has a butler. He’s got almost everything else -- international prestige, adulation, God’s ear.
You’d need a butler just to tidy up after all the confetti.
But it strikes me as odd that anyone would want to butler a pope. 
Paolo Gabriele is cooperating in a emerging scandal about the leaking of confidential Vatican documents. Authorities think the butler did it.
It’s so cliche it makes me suspect the competence of Vatican CSI -- and you have to imagine some network programmer is right now hyping that for a fall release.
Reporters who cover the Vatican -- and let’s go ahead and call them “poperazzi” -- have uncovered little about the married 46-year-old father of three.
His is a fascinating and historical job, but I’ll bet his kids wish he was a fireman or trash hauler on career day down at the elementary school. 
The idea of having a butler is something that’s always fascinated me. It’d be like having a drinking buddy who’s always around to pick up your dirty underwear.
He’d be my caddie, my designated driver, and my ready alibi if I ever wanted to engage in some illicit fun.
I suspect being the pope’s butler didn’t involve any of those sorts of shenanigans. The pope doesn’t golf, enjoy inebriation and has no track record of grabby flirtiness, the latter being quite an achievement for a man whose job description includes laying on of the hands. 
Lots of butlers to rich and famous men probably take advantage of opportunities to shag stray groupies, but I find it impossible to fathom even the idea that papal groupies might exist much less, yikes, conjure up an image.
That’s why I’m surprised anyone would choose a career path that would lead to being the pope’s butler. Sure, few of us achieve our dream jobs, but at what point did Gabriele veer from yearning to be an astronaut or a ballplayer to becoming the pope’s butler?
It would be more fun working for a big-eared dullard like Prince Charles.
Of course, now he may wind up being a butler to Vincenzo the Butcher or some other mafia enforcer down in Cell Block 4.
He and an as-yet-unnamed accomplice are suspected of leaking classified Vatican documents that are portraying the church hierarchy in utter disarray over power struggles, craven money concerns and other earthly matters that have little to do with loving thy neighbor.
It’s rocking the Catholic Church -- and it seems venues that host bands like the Foo Fighters haven’t been rocking nearly as much as the Catholic Church. Some say high-ranking heads will roll.
It proves that not only did Gabriele lack loyalty, he also lacked playful imagination.
Had I been the papal butler, I’d have leaked a series of memos that would have rocked the whole world. For example:

• “Pope debating whether to announce conclusive Vatican proof: Santa Claus is real!"

• “Vatican scholars find typo in 10 Commandments: Turns out thou SHALL commit adultery!"

• “2011 NFL wagers had Pope considering moving Christmas to August 14 to honor birth of Tim Tebow!”
Unlike Gabriele, no one would have ever suspected me of doing anything so ambitiously conniving.
The Holy See himself would testify he never saw me doing any ironing, pillow fluffing or warming the cocoa in time for holy bedtime stories.
The police will say it was a rare case where not only didn’t the butler do it.
The butler never did a thing.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Encore! Happy Memorial Day!

I'm feeling just as lazy as I was last Memorial Day. So I'm re-posting the observations from 2011 Memorial Day. The sentiment still stand. Happy Memorial Day! If you can't thank a vet, say a prayer for one.

I’m giving into the warm inertia of holiday laziness by not posting a fresh Memorial Day story.
If you’re interested in reading one of those, you can do so here from 2009 (serious) or here from 2010 (silly).
But I just don’t have it in me today to conjure another one of those.
I feel sort of guilty about that.
Right now brave Americans are ducking bullets in some of the most inhospitable places on the planet. They are away from their heartsick families, their recreations and all the fat relaxing I intend to enjoy today.
They can’t play with their daughters or take them the new wave pool at Idlewild Amusement Park as I’ll be doing.
They can’t sit in a hammock and sip a beer, toke on a stogie, and listen to the Pirate game, which I have scheduled for the afternoon.
If they’re digging any holes in the ground, it won’t be to plant flowers and tomatoes and other vegetables like we’re going to do today as a family. No, if they’re doing any digging it’ll be for protective purposes.
They’re in hostile war zones fighting to protect my freedom of speech and I’m too lazy to even exercise it.
But I will take time to say my prayers and be sure to include ones that God will protect them, their families and all the men and women who’ve ever served so I can enjoy such a splendid little life in the greatest and most exuberant country the world’s ever known.
Thank you, vets. Happy Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Hatfields & McCoys: Let's play the feud!

As an avid student of human nature, I’m eager to watch the History channel’s “Hatfield’s & McCoys.” I’m ignorant of the historic feud’s origins but I understand it involves a stray pig.
Nothing stirs my interest like rationally disposed human beings helplessly giving in to bents of insane passion.
This is true in cases of both love and hatred. 
I’m still following all the news about the messy love triangle between former Highmark insurance titan Ken Melani, his golf cart honey Melissa Myler and her fifth-wheel husband. 
Just two months ago, Melani was earning $4.5 million a year as the CEO of a $14 billion industry giant. He was often feted by local philanthropies and society pages for his keen intellect and social dash. He was a true mover and shaker.
That was before he fell under the spell of the comely half-his-age Myler, who moved and shook in ways that cause older married men like Melani to drive their once-stable lives straight off cliffs.
You can read more about it here and, you betcha, count on me to keep you informed any time any of the trio does anything to make the news.
Then there’s the sad, tragic reverse when people let irrational hatred drive them to the very depths of human experience.
It’s impossible to catalogue all the news stories I’ve written about men who are now serving life sentences that stemmed from conflicts over things as mundane as the disputed location of a hedge.
I can’t recall the details and wouldn’t post them here for fear for my life, but the most gripping Hatfield & McCoy story I’ve ever covered involved two middle-aged western Pennsylvania men who’d led otherwise spotless lives right up until they become neighbors.
One was a college English professor, the other a skilled carpenter.
The story would be better if I could say both men were well-regarded within the community as quality individuals. That was not the case.
The professor was. The carpenter was not. In fact, I spoke to maybe a dozen witnesses from the subsequent trial and everyone said the carpenter was an absolute jerk no one would miss if he dropped dead.
The professor was a man of manners and good humor, at least he was until the carpenter moved next door and began poisoning both their lives.
In fact, the first dispute was over the location of a fence the carpenter built. The professor said it strayed across the border onto the property of his tidy suburban home.
By two feet.
Those two feet led to an escalation of antagonisms the led to attempted murder.
Six months after the construction of the fence, the professor had had enough. He couldn’t sleep. The carpenter kept odd hours and played loud music with the speakers pointed at the professor’s bedroom. The carpenter’s dog was pooping in his yard.
Individually, these may seem like petty irritants. Cumulatively, they consumed the professor. So much so that one day he purchased a gun and approached the carpenter on his back porch and emptied the clip in his antagonist’s head.
Imagine a hatred so all-consuming that you’d willingly sacrifice your freedom to eliminate it. He understood the law. Knew he’d go to prison. Yet he chose the peace incarceration would bring knowing because it meant the end to the source of his soul-searing hatred.
Then imagine the object of that hatred surviving six bullets to the head.
I don’t recall the calibre of the weapon, but it is irrelevant. Experts and police were stunned that this evil neighbor could survive intact. I interviewed him at his kitchen table. Without knowing the history of their feud, he would have seemed like a perfectly normal guy.
He showed me his wounded noggin. It looked like someone had slugged him multiple times with a ball peen hammer.
And everyone in town felt terrible about the whole thing.
Not for the victim.
For the history professor.
Jurors told me they felt bereaved they couldn’t imprison the victim and free the assailant.
It reminded me of what one old attorney once told me. “There are three kinds of homicide: justifiable, unnecessary and praiseworthy.”
I’ve had some wonderful neighbors and some that have caused me to think of how that old English professor reacted with his mortal enemy -- or maybe he thinks of him as his immortal enemy. I may revisit this topic again soon because I’m convinced a bad neighbor can make your life worse than a bad spouse.
The bad neighbor has more permanence.
A friend of mine told me the last time he golfed he was beset upon by tiny, annoying flies. They didn’t bite, they didn’t sting, but they were a constant irritant that ruined his round..
“They were just always there in your face,” he said. “You couldn’t escape them and you couldn’t kill them.”
You mean, I asked, like neighbors?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Yesterday, Arnold Palmer watched me golf

I came within a two-foot putt of committing what would be one of the greatest golf sins in the game’s history. I almost asked Arnold Palmer if he’d leave Arnold Palmer’s Latrobe Country Club because Arnold Palmer was bugging me.
This would be like asking the Pope to vacate the Vatican for being too Catholic.
But, man, he was bugging me.
I was invited by Doc Giffin, Palmer’s assistant of nearly 50 years, to join him and two other golf writers to play a swanky member-guest function at the historic home to one of golf’s greatest legends.
It’s a real treat.
Both Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have more championships, but golf has no more enduring and endearing star than Palmer. He is beloved around the world and revered here in Latrobe.
And why not?
An expert pilot, he’s set around-the-world aviation records, is best buddies with several presidents and has golfed with all but two of them since Ike. Bill Clinton says one of the great perks of office is getting to play golf with Arnold Palmer. Kirk Douglas said in 1970 that no one alive -- not Sinatra, John Wayne or Ronald Reagan -- has more charisma than Palmer. In 2007, GQ named this 82-year-old gent one of the most stylish American men from the past 50 years, and last year one of the 25 coolest athletes of all time.
And through years of chummy interviews, he’s somehow become my buddy. In fact, he was gracious enough to provide the gushy foreword for my new book, “Use All The Crayons! The Colorful Guide to Simple Human Happiness.”
I told him I’m convinced it’ll be his most successful endorsement ever which, if true, means my book is destined to become more profitable than either Cadillac or Rolex.
And wouldn’t that be a big win for the little guy!
It’s no exaggeration to say I still tingle every time I see him.
What’s odd is I now realize the only place I don’t want to see the legend is in his native habitat, the golf course.
Actually, reverse that: I don’t want him seeing me there.
But that was the situation over three holes yesterday afternoon.
Prior to spying Palmer spying us, I’d been playing well. I’d parred the first and second holes and was just off the back edge of the third hole, a tricky par 5, in 3.
That’s when I saw him glowing in the trees. He was seated in a golf cart -- and he truly does glow. I don’t know whether it comes from wealth, karmic beneficence, or some kind of pricey sunscreen he uses, but there he was shimmering in his golf cart. It was perfectly cool.
Of course, I thought of my late father, the man who bestowed upon his sons a reverence for all things Palmer.
It was a flawless western Pennsylvania afternoon. And there I was playing at Latrobe Country Club with Arnold Palmer, a man I call a friend, about to watch me golf.
So I about crapped my pants. 
In fact, that for the next three holes became my dominant swing thought. Good golfers will address the ball and say to themselves, “Now, keep your head down, use a smooth back swing, and be sure to follow through.”
I just kept thinking over and over, “Just don’t crap your pants.”
I managed to hit the first shot, a dainty little wedge, to about seven feet. I was left with a tricky downhill putt.
Having executed the wedge shot without embarrassing myself, I felt a surge of confidence now that I held the putter, even as I recognized I was on one of the club’s most dangerous greens.
I hit the putt on a nice line, but it grazed the cup and sped past about 3 feet.

“That’s good!” Palmer yelled cheerfully.
So now in addition to thoughts about loose bowels, another herd of questions come thundering across my brain.
Is he being sarcastic? Should I pick up? Is he testing my golf integrity? What if he says, “You know, if I’d have known you putt like that, I never would have endorsed your stupid book.”
Confused, I bent down to make the comeback putt. Missed it by a foot.
Now I’m coming apart. My promising round is ruined by the observing presence of one of the greatest golfers to ever live.
I made the next putt, but it had taken me three strokes to negotiate seven measly feet.
And now I begin to wonder how long he’s going to be hanging around watching us. What if he starts to heckle?
He follows us for parts of the next two holes. He’s joking, encouraging and gracious.
He sees me hit six more shots, about four of them decent, and then he simply vanishes. He either drove off without me watching or else uses some kind of time-space transportation beam available only to him. We don’t see him again the rest of the round.
I’m relieved when he’s gone, but I sense a lost opportunity. It will now haunt me that I was unable to confidently sink a long putt, scorch a perfect drive or cozy a wedge shot snug to the pin for him to see.
Arnold Palmer watched me golf and I failed to do something remarkable.
On the other hand, I guess in a way I sort of did.
At least I somehow managed to keep from crapping myself.

Encore! Happy B-Day to Bob Dylan and this blog (from '11)

Please excuse me while we interrupt this blog in progress. I'll be posting a fresh essay about Arnold Palmer watching me golf in about 90 minutes, but didn't want the day to go by without acknowledging the blog turns 4 today, the same day Bob Dylan turns 71. But rather than just update all the stats included here, I figured I'd just float this re-run.

We'll soon be returning you to your irregularly scheduled blog.

Today Bob Dylan turns 70 and this blog turns 3.
It’s certainly presumptuous of me, a not impartial observer, to even make the claim, but of the two it’s this blog that is on track to make the more significant cultural contribution.
First, Dylan has written 458 songs in his life. But he didn’t really write anything until he was about 17 years old.
This post is the blog’s 444th, a near perfect equivalent. So it took Dylan about 53 years to accomplish what this blog’s done in 3.
Compared to Dylan, this blog’s a prodigy.
And only his parents and some farming neighbors in desolate Hibbing, Minnesota, really cared about the boy they knew as Robert Zimmerman (this blog’s not going to have any artsy name change, either; bestowing it with even more gritty street cred).
Guaranteed nobody outside of America had even heard of the boy who became Dylan.
On the contrary, this blog has been enjoyed in 91 countries.
I know this because I obsessively check the blog’s secret “stats” feature. It pretends to tell me which posts are being read, the nations where those readers reside, and the search terms that led them there.
It’s been delightful to see people in Macau, Kenya, Belarus, Iran and even Palestine find their way to the blog. That those hits correspond to search terms like “amish boobs,” “amish blue jeans” and “amish pledge of allegiance” does nothing to diminish the accomplishment.
I’m suspicious of the total numbers and believe they are more substantial than those shown in the home page tally. For instance, the other day, I posted a well-read story about Arnold Schwarzenegger.
As soon as it went up, “stats” told me the story was being viewed by 10 people in the U.S., three in Denmark, two in Germany and two in France.
That’s 17 people. Yet stingy “stats” tallied only six site views.
It makes me want to scream at “stats” for its mathematical deficiencies. I’d try and find a more reliable readership survey app but am fearful it would tell me no one’s reading so I stick with fickle “stats.”
I spend a lot of time thinking how I can increase the blog’s readership without being obnoxious.
Should I write more posts with fewer words or vice versa?
I’ll do neither. I may not have an overwhelming number of readers, but I am thrilled with the ones I have. You’re a great and feisty mix of people and I am truly thankful to each of you.
I believe more readers and blog prominence is bound to happen. The feedback is too heartfelt and persistent to ignore.
To me, the best thrill is checking in on “stats” and seeing a huge spike indicating that someone, somewhere, is devoting an hour or two to reading dozens of old posts.
That’s the kind of readers I want.
It’s kind of like the way I gained an appreciation for Dylan, which didn’t happen until 1988 when he was with the Traveling Wilburys. His songs had a joy and humor I’d not previously detected.
Had he had a “stats” page at the time, Dylan would have seen a kid in Pittsburgh was scarfing up for all his old stuff. I think it would have pleased him the way it pleases me.
So that’s one thing I’m going to change. I’m going to continue to write about 700 words three times a week, but I’m also going to be less reluctant about including lively shorter items and tossing some of my old favorites into the mix with an updated preamble.
After all, Dylan doesn’t just play new stuff. No, if you go to see a Dylan show (I’ve seen him 29 times), he’ll play about three new songs and maybe 15 oldies.
The comprehensive says he’s played “Like a Rolling Stone” 1,816 times.
So it’s crazy for me to keep pumping out new stuff while just ignoring a really respectable back catalogue.
What if someone mistakes a new blog as the go-ahead for a pee break?
Will have a more impressive run than Bob Dylan?
Only time will tell.
Either way, thanks for reading. I hope you’ll continue to check in and refer it to friends whenever you find it worthy.
And you can go ahead and take that pee break now.