Monday, December 31, 2012

75 best tweets of 2012!

I guess I tweeted about 750 times this year at 8days2amish. So let’s cap 2012 off with a list of the best 10 percent from that bunch. I’m grateful to all of you who’ve checked in to my blog over the past year, referred it to friends and to the many who’ve bought my book. Have a great night and let’s all be ready to start giving it hell on January 2nd. Happy New Year!

• What does it mean when you hear "Hoo! Hoo!" on Christmas Eve? Owl be home for Christmas.

• Forlorn should be fourlorn so we could gauge degrees of our lornness. Ex: "I was feeling sixlorn, but became twolorn after I had a cookie."

• Shakespeare succeeded without the services of a press agent. Go ahead and check the history books. There's no such thing as Bard publicity.

• Your life will be appreciably more balanced & sane if you wake up Monday & realize your job isn't nearly as important as you think it is.

• If you’re not laughing or crying you’re not living. Or else you’re working, in school, in a doctor’s waiting room, getting tires rotated ...

• Fashion experts who work to ensure ample bosoms fit snugly in brassieres are rack-contours.

• It is my contention that religious harmony will prevail throughout the world if only Islamabad changes its name to Islamagood.

• Foolish mortals! You think you can tell time. Time tells you!

• In honor of the annual Super Bowl nonsense about to swamp us all, my phone number in Roman Numerals is DCCXXIV CMLXI MMDLVIII. Call me!

• When Yosemite Sam says, "Say your prayers, rrrrrabbit!" does Bugs Bunny pray to the same God as you and I? Or is He animated and voiced by Mel Blanc?

• Does it make me liberal or conservative if Jimmy cracks corn and I don't care?

• Parenting advice from Elton John I consider sound enough to follow: Mars ain't the kind of place to raise your kids.

• The day chickens start laying Cadbury eggs is the day I become a chicken farmer.

• Airing anti-depressant drug ads during a Three Stooges marathon seems like a gross misapplication of marketing funds.

• Romantic trees can never be accused of being "too sappy."

• Very productive morning. I killed so many birds with so few stones I'm expecting PETA to protest.

• Really popular all-you-can-eat buffets are places where the crowd never thins.

• Rick Santorum's kids stare at him the way the apostles must have stared at Jesus after he told a really great joke.

• Anyone know if the Doomsday Clock has a snooze alarm?

• If Flex Seal works as well on underarms as it does on screendoor boats I'll never need Right Guard again!

• I understand basic physics, but I defy even Sir Isaac Newton to explain why the Coyote always without fail falls faster than the anvil.

• Soon, "dodged a bullet" won't be a quaint phrase about evading a challenge, it'll be the answer to the question, "So, what'd you do today?"

• Anyone care to guess the identity of the favorite Stooge the girl Billy Idol sings about in "Rebel Yell?" That's right. It's "Moe! Moe! Moe!”

• Has the straight to-the point pick-up line "Hello I love you. Will you tell me your name?" ever worked for anyone besides Jim Morrison?

• Does anyone else wonder if all the other kids made fun of him because Jeremiah was a bullfrog?

• I've lived a long time but I've never known anyone who when they were young & their heart was an open book used to say live & let live.

• Lyme Disease leaves victims chronically fatigued. Lemon Lyme Disease leaves victims chronically fatigued sourpusses.

• Now that Anderson Cooper's admitted he's gay, maybe Donald Trump will be encouraged to step forward and finally admit he's an ass.

• How come a single camera lens isn't properly referred to as a camera len?

• The word "astute" doesn't sound like it should convey wisdom. It sounds like it should convey flatulence.

• Instamacy is the mutual attraction so powerful it causes consenting adults to leap into bed moments after first locking eyes.

• Despite the obvious mathematical inconsistencies, a game of 8 Ball played between two naked men is still called 8 Ball.

• Artistic people often settle disputes by drawing straws.

• Starry-eyed singles who date someone proficient in detonating pyrotechnics are apt to go out with a bang.

• If I limited my conversations to only intelligent people, mine would be a very lonely existence and I’d have to quit talking to even myself

• People who say not owning a computer is old school are wrong. Today, even all the old schools have computers.

• I'm sure he was a perfectly competent carpenter, but I think Jesus missed his calling. He’d have been one hell of a bartender.

• Asked daughter, 6, if she'd had anything healthy to eat today. She said her gum was strawberry. I surrendered to her logic.

• Too many people who bury the hatchet immediately start trying to remember where they put the shovel.

• Shrewd fortune tellers probably greet every new customer with, “I've been expecting you.”

• Never make the mistake of sipping life. Sip wine. Gulp life.

• John Doe is a pseudonym for someone lost and unidentifiable, often for medical reasons. Someone who's lost and just stupid is a John D'oh!

• I’ve cut my nose off so many times to spite my face it’s become physically impossible for me to stop and smell the roses.

• A single splash of water killed the Wicked Witch of the West. Logical conclusion: Not only was she evil, she also reeked.

• If Three Dog Night had performed before Caesar they would have been called Tres Canis Nox.

• I wish Apple would cease making new iPhones and instead develop an engine that runs on all the iPhones they’ve snookered us into discarding.

• It'd be neat if our sneezes revealed our personalities. Cheerful people would sneeze confetti; sweet people jelly beans; politicians, crap.

• Chefs with rashes are the best at cooking from scratch.

• “Live and learn” is a popular phrase with no practical application. Most people live and stay stupid.

• Runways among our most illogical words. Planes never run on runways. If we named them after what happens most on them they'd be waitways.

• Can't prove it, but I'll wager Superman was the first person to ever say, "I see London, I see France ..."

• The problem with most people isn’t just that they have their heads up their asses. The problem is how many can’t stop admiring the view.

• That which does not kill me usually leaves me with one whopper of a hangover.

• Let's find homeless Happy Days star Erin Moran work. How about an antiquing show? "Joannie Loves Tchotchke!”

• Some fathers are guilty of helicopter parenting. I'm a sidecar parent, just along for the ride.

• Does the god in peanut heaven look like that dapper monocled gent on the Planter’s jars? I call him Shelly.

• We name our dogs Rover, Snickers, Socks and a plethora of other colorful handles. But you'll never meet a cricket that isn't named Jiminy.

• The DeVito-Pearlman breakup involves the separation of the two smallest bodies since the splitting of the atom.

• In the future we will live in smart structures that will shrewdly detect energy needs, flaws, security, etc. They will be Sherlock Homes.

• If it's true that impairment begins with the first drink then I've been impaired since 1978.

• I keep thinking solar plexus is some kind of exciting new green energy, but something in my gut tells me it isn't.

• Vanity plastic surgery will become so prevalent men will flock to a store called "Dicks" and they won't be there for sporting goods.

• I woke up to a nightmare last evening. I was in a raft on a stream called Creativity Creek and couldn’t conjure an imaginary paddle.

• I’ve spent nearly my whole life in one or the other and still can't distinguish between bar, tavern, pub or saloon. More study required.

• How come the only thing anyone ever battens down are hatches? Battening sounds fun. I’m going to try and batten down the dog.

• Any outdoor roadside advertising that features spurious claims should be called a bullboard.

• Cialis ad saying to contact doc if erection lasts more than 4 hours has me sadly wondering if my life's erections have totaled 4 hours.

• Once they teach you to strike while the iron is hot, is there anything left to blacksmith school? Student loans must be miniscule.

• My faith in humanity is always restored anytime I see someone get out of a handicap space with a cane. Me, I always fake a little limp.

• Families are God’s way of reminding us we humans are incapable of helping even the ones we love most.

• Election makes Nov. 8 feel like a liberal holiday. I'm going to celebrate by saying a prayer to Allah, smoking some medical marijuana and kissing a man.

• Mick Jagger's 40-yr-old love letters up for auction. I'd like to see Keith buy them, get shitfaced and host a dramatic reading.

• Aggressive stationary sales people are always pushing the envelope.

• Quick! Anyone recall the name of Viggo Mortensen movie where he's an ex-hoodlum who owns a small town diner and takes up fiddle? "History of Violins?"

• Any truth to the rumor Yoko Ono is licensing a John Lennon app aimed at cleaning up grammatical clutter? #InstantComma

• The 2nd most famous elevator company behind Otis is Schindler. Yes, there's a Schindler's Lift.

• Sentence sinking writers who terrorize readers with reckless and unnecessary punctuation are commakazis.

• Giddy scientists at Hadron SuperCollider claim to have created a new type of matter. I predict it will become known as the Doesn't Matter.

• Just once I'd like to hear news reports of a man being slain by a blunt instrument and learn the weapon was a tuba.

• One advantage of writing book on being colorful: I could rob a bank in Speedo & people would say, "Ah, Rodell's just being colorful again." This I plan on exploiting.

• True dreamers fly kites with no strings attached.

Happy New Year!

Re-run Monday: Run, Roberto! Run!

Forty years ago this evening, the great Roberto Clemente died. His is a story that cannot be shared often enough. Here's what I wrote about him in 2011 the day after Derek Jeter passed Clemente on baseball's 3,000 hit list. Yeah, it's about a baseball player. But it's about so much more.

("Tweets of the Year" later today!)

Baseball fans all over America were celebrating Saturday when Yankee great Derek Jeter got his 3,000th hit.

Not me. I love Jeter, but I was on the edge of my seat until he banged out hit no. 3,001.

The 3,000 hit club in Major League Baseball is one of the most grand achievements in all of sports. Only 28 men in baseball history have had that many hits.

That’s 28 out of -- who knows? -- maybe 1,000,000 athletes talented enough to play professional baseball.

It’s taken professional baseball 166 years for 28 batters to secure 3,000 hits (only two, the disgraced Pete Rose and the disgraceful Ty Cobb, have more than 4,000).

It could take another 100 years for the list to get to 50.

When that happens, anyone engaged enough to look will ponder at least two names: the first and the last.

We don’t know who the first will be, but we know who’ll be last.

It’ll be Roberto Clemente. He’s forever last with precisely 3,000 hits.

It’s probably already happening in places other than Pittsburgh, and I hope I’m there at least once when it does someplace.

A group of kids will be gathering at some ballpark where the club is listed (PNC Park in Pittsburgh has a 3,000 Hit Club Tavern). They’ll go through the list and they’ll come to Clemente.

They’ll wonder, gee, what’s this guy’s story? Did he hang on for a bunch of years just to get his 3,000th hit?

They, in fact, made a 2004 movie, “Mr. 3,000,” about a guy who did just that. It starred the late, great Bernie Mac.

It wasn’t like that with Clemente. His last regular season at bat was his 3,000th hit, a stand-up double on September 30, 1972, in Pittsburgh’s old Three Rivers Stadium. He finished the season batting .310.

Just 92 days later he was dead. He was 38.

That’s compelling stuff right there. If you’re a storyteller, it gets better.

Clemente died a saintly death.

He is considered the Jackie Robinson of Latina players and Latin players throughout baseball to this day consider it a great honor to wear his number 21.

He spent much of his off-seasons doing tireless humanitarian work in impoverished Central American villages like the Puerto Rican one where he was born the youngest of seven children.

When Managua, Nicaragua, was devastated by a massive earthquake on December 23 the newest member of the 3,000 hit club began arranging emergency relief flights. He’d been in Managua three weeks previous.

He was furious when he learned three planeloads of aid packages were diverted by corrupt officials of the then-ruling Somoza government never reaching the victims.

Clemente, who played his entire 17-year career as a Pittsburgh Pirate, decided he’d personally oversee the fourth flight. He knew his presence in a land where he was idolized could make a crucial difference.

The overloaded flight crashed in the Caribbean shortly after takeoff from Puerto Rico.

The body of the pilot and part of the fuselage were recovered. A flight bag belonging to Clemente was all they ever found of the great Roberto.

Of his teammates, with whom he’d won the 1971 World Series when he was awarded MVP, only one did not attend the memorial service.

It was catcher Manny Sanguillen. In a grief so poignant it practically shrieks, Sanguillen instead spent weeks diving in the waters where the plane went down in the hopes of recovering the body of his friend.

Baseball in 1954 instituted a mandatory five year waiting period for any former baseball player to be considered for the Hall of Fame.

For Clemente, it was waived and three months after his death he was awarded baseball’s highest honor. He’s the only player in more than 57 years deemed worthy of the waiver.

There’ve been many books written about Clemente, most recently by David Maraniss.

But there’s never been a memorable movie about this most unforgettable man.

I wonder if the reason is physics.

Maybe cameras are incapable of capturing something so dazzling as the idea of an athlete who was as magnificent a player as he was a person.

The man who died last on one famous list lives first forever on so many, many more.

Friday, December 28, 2012

NRA is now Nat. Assault Rifle Association

We have become so calloused to gun violence that this week we as a nation roared with laughter after a 9-year-old untrained in firearm safety was nearly deprived of his vision after a ricochet bullet struck him in the face.

God help us.

It’s not like we all didn’t see this coming.

The boy was warned over and over.

Yet in the end, we all just sat there and watched it all unfold.

And Ralphie nearly shot his eye out.

I’d like to get Wayne LaPierre’s take on “A Christmas Story.”

I think he’d applaud armed 9 year old’s patrolling the urban homesteads while simultaneously bemoaning a Christmas fable that resorts to wanton violence for cheap chuckles.

But that’s Hollywood for you.

LaPierre may be the only man in America who could watch the classic coming-of-age movie and hammer it into a lesson that is at once pro-gun and anti-Hollywood.

It would be fun to hear his take on how shows like “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas” would differ if Cindy Loo Who had a Glock tucked in her jammies.

The man’s nuts. 

Did you see him on “Meet the Press” Sunday? I tuned into to see if the Sandy Hook tragedy would jar him into a moment of thoughtfulness, perhaps some consideration that maybe it might be prudent to tinker with a law or two to affect some change.

How silly of me. 

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that the public face of the National Rifle Association stuck to his guns.

Most of America’s law abiding gun owners need to understand that most of us who are distraught by the unholy rise in gun violence aren’t opposed to the National Rifle Association.

It’s the National Assault Rifle Association that give us the willies.

The former was founded to promote gun safety and represent the interests of sportsmen. I’m all for that, although I prefer the company of sportsmen who bowl.

The only way a bowler is going to accidentally hurt someone is if he or she drops the ball on your foot.

LaPierre’s group should now more accurately be called the NARA because their sole focus is to scare people into buying bigger, more lethal weapons from the gun makers who provide the bulk of their funding.

LaPierre -- and one of these days conservatives are going to wise up that the man’s name sounds, ick, kind of French -- kept saying there are too many convicted felons still caught committing crimes with guns, like that was the main topic.

Let me cut the chase here: He wants to focus on black hoodlums involved in the urban drug trade. The black-on-black gun violence is an on-going national crisis. 

This is bound to sound on its face discriminatory, but white-on- (mostly) white gun violence is worse because it’s so bloody indiscriminate. 

LaPierre is trying to scare dainty whites into believing they face a clear and present danger from urban violence. He’s saying you need a really big gun because a lot of black people have them.

My fears of my wife or daughters getting killed by an angry armed black man involved in the drug trade are low.

My fears of them getting killed by an angry armed white man when they go to the movies or school or a mall are high.

Again, if you think this isn’t a problem that can’t be solved, in part, by addressing some common sense gun regulations then you are part of the problem.

You’ve allowed the NRA to make you a victim of your fears and your insecurities, thus increasing the odds that the gun you use for safety will eventually be used to make you a victim of yourself. Having a gun in the home dramatically increases the likelihood you’ll have a successful suicide there, too.

I’d like to see a world where Ralphie’s old man played a reasonable role in deciding who gets what kind of guns. 

Before giving him the Red Ryder BB gun, he repeatedly warned his son he’d shoot his eye out.

The NRA is likely opposed to gun dealers issuing such common sense warnings.

They don’t seem to care who shoots your eye out.

Just as long as someone’s shooting something.

Related . . .

Monday, December 24, 2012

Piece on earth? Our most sexless holiday

I veered toward the naughty list the other day when our youngest asked me what I wanted for Christmas.

I certainly couldn’t say, “A really good romp,” to a 6-year-old and she wouldn’t have understood if I did.

So I just smiled at her earnestly and said, “Peace on Earth,” which is maybe the most boring answer you could give someone who considers a new Pillow Pet the coolest thing Santa could bring.

For most parents, peace on Earth is only slightly less elusive than the one involving the alternative spelling.

I can’t remember the last time I had sex on Christmas Day, although by one equation it was clearly 1999. Yes, we had a child born exactly nine months to the day after Christmas.

Being blessed with the greatest gift of life, alas, means a severe reduction in the number of times you’ll forever more get to enjoy the second greatest gift.

In fact, if you gauge every pregnancy by the typical 38-week period, the most popular conception day of the year is -- ta! da! -- today!

According to this New York Times chart which ranks the popularity/frequency of birthdays, the most common birthday is Sept. 16. That means the most popular conception date is today, Christmas Eve.

Silent night, holy night, my ass.

The least common birthday is February 29. That’s the leap year date. I know many married men who have sex about once every four years so maybe that has something to do with some kind of cycle women are reluctant to share.

The second least common?

Christmas Day! Can you believe it? Life’s greatest gift is stingiest on the day most renown for giving.

Fewer people are born on Christmas Day than any other. I wonder if OBGYNs induce birth prior to Christmas so they can be home with their families.

I can understand that. Plus, Christmas Day would be an awful birthday. Those who crapped out in this regard include Jimmy Buffett, Karl Rove, Annie Lennox, Humphrey Bogart and, oh, what’s his name?

Oh, that’s right. Jesus Christ.

Or so we’re told.

Many scholars say ancient clerics chose December 25 so it would coax pagans celebrating the winter solstice that a more sacred holiday would be preferable and free of unseemly secular taint. 

Ho, ho, ho.

That means many of the people who were born on one of the holiest days of the year were conceived on one of the least, April Fool’s Day.

You can find a handy conception calculator right here.

A commercial caught my eye the other day. It featured a knowing babysitter telling two young girls that Mommies and Daddies need special alone time.

My mind went right to sex, of course. I thought maybe the commercial was going to break new ground and show some kind of holiday sex toys you can use to really stuff your stockings.

But then it cut away to an appealing young couple sitting at McDonald’s acting all orgasmic over breakfast sandwiches.

I was furious. How deceptive. I thought about taking to social media to vent about the fraudulent ads that tease our libidos while aiming at our appetites.

But I figured that would a waste of time so I instead got into my car, drove to McDonald’s and snagged an Egg McMuffin and a hash brown.

I read one interesting argument that said it’s kind of sinful to have sex on the day we celebrate the savior’s birth.

While that only heightens the appeal for me, I believe it’s nonsense.

Why would anyone, especially, the Prince of Peace, want to restrict people from enjoying our common humanity? 

No, I think He’d be more like Al Czervik, the Rodney Dangerfield character who at the end of “Caddyshack,” exalts one of the most hopeful and euphoric lines ever heard in cinematic history.

“Hey, everybody! We’re all gonna get laid!”

Sure, it’s not exactly, “God bless us all! Everyone!” but it has its own special resonance.

Consider yourself lucky if you get to spend even a few moments tomorrow hugging even just one person you love. And if hugging’s all you get to do then that’s still pretty good.

Merry Christmas!

Related . . .

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Re-run Sunday: Christmas time = no time

I kind of vowed when I posted this last Christmas this wouldn't happen again. It did. The season rushed by again with nary a single jolly contribution from me. I hope my wishing you a Merry Christmas counts. It's from the heart.

Time doesn’t fly. It drives a Maserati 190 mph down the Autobahn blithely oblivious to the brick some prankster strapped to the accelerator.

Where did Christmas go?

People who think Christmas time refers to a season are wrong.

Christmas time is a spacial acceleration that turns weeks into days, days into hours, etc.

It’s like the whole season disappears down a black hole, only the black is replaced with tinsel, glitter, and flashing colored Christmas lights and the whole giddy trip is soundtracked like one of those sped-up Alvin & The Chipmunks monstrosities.

I feel like I didn’t do anything.

My wife did all the shopping, all the wrapping, all the organizing, all the cheer spreading and somehow found time to patiently listen to all my bitching about never having any time to do anything.

I feel like I didn’t spend enough special time with my daughters, my wife or all my needy bar buddies.

Christmas cards? Not a chance.

I haven’t sent a batch of cards in 10 years. I always say I’ll compensate by spending an afternoon calling dozens of far-flung friends just to wish them Merry Christmas.

So far, I’ve phoned just one dude and part of my motivation was to remind him he still owes me $20 so that taints the whole gesture.

I cracked up an old friend earlier this year when I told him my greatest quality was self-forgiveness. I was telling him about my perceived shortcomings in dealing with my aging Mom.

“No matter how often I lose my temper,” I said, “I just say, ‘Hey, I’m doing the best I can. I’m only human.'”

It’s like I’ve extended myself a personal get-my-conscience-out-of-jail-free card.

How come I can so easily overlook cruel failings in dealing with my dear mother, yet feel forlorn I let Christmas slip by?

Is it because Christmas is only once a year?

I wondered this morning if this self-imposed funk would lift if, geez, I found a big bag of money.

I don’t think that’s it. I don’t need more Christmas money.

I need more Christmas.

I need time to take my wife out to dinner and show her how much she means to me.

I need two full days to take each of our daughters somewhere Christmas special so they’ll have memories of Daddy lavishing them with the attention every little girl deserves.

I need a night to spend with my fading mother so she’ll maybe realize her son’s there for more than just pills and bills.

And what would Christmas be without more time getting gooned up with all my buddies? The more time I spend all alone writing, the more I appreciate the time I get to spend with the friends who help keep me essentially silly.

I wish I had time to sit home alone for an evening in front of the fire to read, watch an old Western, and marvel at the shabby little Christmas tree the girls decorated while I was out doing something I don’t remember.

Maybe that quiet little reverie is what I need to deploy the self-forgiveness card and realize I’m doing the best I can.

I’m sure you are, too. I can guess I’m not alone in wondering where the time went.

I’m sure you wish you had more time to do what matters most at Christmas -- and it’s not getting gooned up with friends, although that is high-up on the to-do list.

If some Christmases, all we have time to do is wish one another a sincere Merry Christmas then let it be done.

Merry Christmas, my friends! Let there be peace on Earth!

That’s straight from the heart.

I hope you’ll forgive me if it sounded a little rushed.