Friday, February 28, 2014

Tweets of the Month: Guess my favorites!

Try and guess my favorites. Answer at the end!

Oh, and please folo @8days2amish if you’re so inclined.

• Every operational decision every gastroenterologist makes is in some way or other gut-wrenching.

• Most discriminatory club in America is Groundhog Phil's Inner Circle. Still, America will overlook Phil's bigotry cause he's so darn cute.

• If I was a hockey goalie's agent, I'd say my guy was born with a buttload of vulcanized rubber 'cuz he was always pulling pucks out his ass.

• I one day dream of seeing an obituary with a typo that declares a long-time baker made donuts his hole life.

• I hope the Noah movie includes some dialogue where God tells Noah the flood is the result of human sin and climate change caused by man.

• I admit it. I was a goofball when I was kid. But I’ve changed. I’ve hardened. I guess that means today I’m more of a goofpuck.

• I hope producers cast Gilbert Godfrey as the voice of God in the new Noah movie. After all, his name includes God.

• Because I believe words have meaning, I’m proposing the U.N. unilaterally change the name of Islamabad to Islamagood.

• I predict milk will be the next common food staple to get the luxury boutique treatment. People will have milk orgies in moo saloons: Cowligula!

• I wonder if anyone watched the historic U.S. Beatles TV debut and said, "When I grow up I want to be just like Ed Sullivan."

• Many people flirt with disaster. Me, I slip it some Ecstasy, a made-up phone number and just let the chips fall where they may.

• The best prosthetic salesmen and women are blessed with disarming personalities.

• I'll bet editors at amusement park industry mags are furious when some lazy reviewer calls a new roller coaster a real roller coaster.

• Ambitious tailors who work exclusively on 3-piece suits have vested interests.

• Only time I cease incessant staring at electronic devices is to admonish daughters to stop incessant staring at electronic devices.

• The only downside to having such a fun-filled life is you're bound to forget some really great times. Me, I've forgotten 1987-92.

• Any boss who, frankly, doesn’t give a damn why today you’re late for work is a Clock Gable.

• Without things like pencils, remote controls or silverware, how did cavemen and women know if they were right or lefthanded?

• We should have one day of the month where everyone uses pictures of their favorite mugs for their mug shots

• Daughter, 7, asked what I'd be doing today. Me: "Sitting all alone in a small quiet room screaming for attention." That's writing.

• Sometimes I think of doing push-ups for fitness reasons, but then decide against it when I realize how far my arms are from the floor.

• Fun with kids: Ask a brainy 6 year old to spell “rule.” Listen, then say, “You know my name’s not Ellie. Now spell rule.” Repeat.

• Does anyone else find it odd the man who did more to than any other to help control America's unwanted pet population was named Barker?

• I was just in my mind listing the 5 most influential people from my life; 4 of them are bartenders. It’s all starting to make sense.

• If "Whoo! Hoo!" were uniform about its application of silent letters then "Whoo! Hoo!" would be spelled "Whoo! Hhoo!"

• If we were at all precise about the language then cookies would be called bakies.

• Mexican authorities capture notorious Drug Lord Joaquin Guzman. I wonder what I need to do to refer to me as Blog Lord Chris Rodell?

• Two days too late it just occurred to me: Women's Figure Skating no longer involves women with figures.

• Given its potent combo of sex & athleticism, I think pole dancing will be an Olympic event in '16. Early favorite for gold is, er, Poland?

I was surprised to find so many worthy contenders from a month that seemed pretty weak to me. But I remain charmed by both “Cowligula” and “goofpuck.”

Yes, “Goofpuck!”

But my favorite is the one about not just flirting with disaster, but actually taking advantage of it.

It earned what to me is one of the highest compliments when my buddy Quinn Fallon said he might write a song about it. Very cool.

If you’re ever in Columbus, here’s Quinn’s bar. I’ll be there flat on my face in about a month.

Related . . .

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I wake up and smell something, but it's not coffee

I think I’ve found the culprit as to why career stability’s been so elusive for me and  you’re probably holding a cup of it right now.

It’s coffee.

You have it and I don’t.

It’s likely you’re one of the more than 140 million Americans who starts the day with a cup of Joe. If someone tells you to wake up and smell the coffee then, by God, you can do it.

I don’t drink coffee. Never have.

It’s surprising to even me because I drink lots and lots of everything else. Hot, cold, pasteurized or distilled.

I’ve drunk oceans of ouzo, rivers of red wine and enough sudsy beer to buoy a fleet of battleships. I revere bourbon and dabble in vodka, gin, Scotch, Irish and Canadian whisky, etc. It’s safe to assume I’ve tried just about every distilled spirit available in every bar, often with predictably detrimental results.

Suggest you and I do shot from any old bottle and -- Cheers! -- I’ll drink to that.

And it’s not just hootch. I drink milk and enjoy orange, apple, cranberry, grapefruit and all the other juices.

When was the last time you had a swig of Hawaiian Punch? Me, I had one about a month ago.

And I drink Coke, Root Beer, Mountain Dew and all the other carbonated poisons they say are full of flame retardants. They say they’re bad for me, but I see many advantages for a modern man going through life more flame retardant.

I guzzle water all day long and try for digestive reasons to slam a pot of scalding tea -- hot water even -- after every meal believing it helps better disperse congealing belly contents.

So you have on this side me and the whole wide world of things that are mostly safe to drink and then on the other side you have coffee and vast multitudes of people way more productive than me.

So it’s been decades since I’ve woken up and smelled the coffee. My darling wife doesn’t drink coffee either.

She wakes up and being married to me can only dream of what it’s like to smell the coffee. Poor kid.

I can’t help it. A good, long, loud morning fart is sort of my way of clearing my throat and therefore an occupational necessity for any man who spends the day talking out his ass.

One study says 78 percent of coffee drinkers say it’s the first thing they think about upon waking up; 67 percent say they can’t function without it.

The only thing I’ve felt remotely like that about anything in the last 20 years is, I guess, “Breaking Bad.”

Would my life be different if I drank a little coffee?

I know on one hand I’d be even more impoverished. The average coffee drinker spends about $335.75 a year on coffee. But that seems low. Starbucks earned almost $15 billion in 2013.

Plus, there’s all that time making coffee, waiting in line for coffee, etc., and goofing off on coffee breaks.

That last point is likely moot with me. It’s felt like I’ve been on one long coffee break since 1992.

But would the caffein boost make me more efficient? Would I be super-charged? More stimulated?

I guess that’s one of the reasons I don’t want to engage in the coffee craze. If the world’s wired on coffee, then I guess I’m wifi.

I enjoy going through life under-stimulated.

It’s a safe bet that unlike me, not many coffee drinkers enjoy catnaps during long red lights. And I like to nap -- I’ve taken two quick naps during the time it’s taken me to write this far! It’s very refreshing.

Understand, I’m not trying to change any minds here. Enjoying coffee is an international endeavor that bridges races, religions and helps bring together people from around the world. 

I’m just wondering if my life would be better if I indulged in a little daily java.

So if it works for you then by all means, continue consuming.

Keep on waking up and smelling that coffee.

It’s bound to beat what Val’s always stuck smelling. 

Related . . .

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Ukuleles, YouTube exposure & what Jim Krenn has to do with any of it

My attempts to post YouTube videos of two recent talks were frustrating and ultimately bungled. And that’s a pity because they were tour de forces.

I was funny. I was extemporaneous. I was poignant.

I played the ukelele!

That last part’s untrue. I don’t even own a ukulele.

But that’s what it says there on the introduction (I wrote it) for the YouTube video I posted after the very successful talk at the Greensburg Hempfield Area Library where I sold 172 books to 25 people.

And that is the truth. One woman bought 150 copies for her WVU student group. She was so impressed with my talk she said she wants to have me come to speak to the group and is buying books for each of them in advance.

Another attendee said she’s going to propose I address a state educational convention in Hershey. I love Hershey.

Both parts of that one are true, too. It really happened and I do indeed love Hershey.

Three days later at a talk to a Greensburg civic group a woman was so moved she she said she was going to suggest I be the convention speaker for this summer’s University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg graduates.

True. True. True. As confounding as it is to believe.

See, I’m getting this talking to people about me and my book thingie nailed. It’s just there’s, so far, scant video proof of the fact.

That’s because I don’t have this filming myself thingie nailed down at all.

Ensuring you’re properly filming yourself when you address a group of any size is a tricky business.
First of all, there’s that inherent nervousness about public speaking. Giving a compelling talk is, of course, foremost in your mind so there’s hundreds of thoughts going through your mind before you’re introduced.

Like any public speaker, I’m asking myself if all my anecdotes are crisp and ready for instant recall? Is the progression well-structured? Will I remember to recollect the nifty conclusion?

But as I’m kind of new at this, I’m also consumed with tangential questions such as: Is my fly down? Are there any boogers dangling from my nose? Did I make sure I removed all the “Hi! My Name is Idiot!” signs my daughters taped to me on my way out the door when they pretended they were hugging me?

Now, on top of all those true essentials, I have to remember to adjust the little video camera I’ve set up nearby. I’m reluctant to ask a stranger to do any of this because it’ll feel like a lot of pressure and they’ll be upset if they make a mistake. So I do it myself.

At the library, it looked like it went perfectly. I was in focus, centered and the sound was crisp.

Then I discovered the damn thing cut off after just 30 minutes into what was an hour-long discourse. It was still charged. It must have just needed a little siesta -- and I’m sympathetic to that mindset. Or maybe it’s bestowed with a new smart function where it determines just how much time each speaker deserves and decided 30 minutes was plenty for me.

I was fine with that, too. I thought 30 minutes was plenty to post.

Apparently, YouTube disagreed. It said I could only post 10 minutes. Has this happened to anyone else?

If YouTube was running my blog, this story would have ended 250 words ago.

That’s where the ukulele comes in.

If it was only going to post 10 slim minutes, I figured I’d need to give viewers some explanation about why it cut out and what they missed.

So in the explanatory cutline I put, “Video concludes just before I started playing the ukulele!”

I figured if any ukulele-loving strangers were looking to book a speaker I’d have that going for me and then when they ask where the hell’s the ukulele I could just say my wife backed over it in the driveway.

On purpose.

None of this happened three days later at the tidy 30-minute talk to the Greensburg civic group. It went really well and would have been a great example of my public speaking, this time to 50 people.

Only one problem:

I forgot to hit record!

I vowed the next time I had a high-profile gig I’d hire a professional to do the recording.

And that’s what I did Sunday night.

I had a sound man, a producer, a videographer and a production assistant.

Well, they weren’t mine.

They were Jimmy Krenn’s!

Yes, the great Jimmy Krenn asked me to be on his “No Restrictions” podcast Sunday night. Krenn’s been Pittsburgh’s most popular entertainer for the past 25 years, 24 of them as a co-host of the WDVE-FM 102.5 Morning Show, a remarkable run that ended last year.

He’s now keeping busy doing concerts, speaking and this podcast that already has nearly 100,000 subscribers. It’s mostly Krenn and top local comics so I was hugely flattered when he invited me, a writer, to crash the party.

Of course, I shouldn’t have been surprised. He’s always been supportive and encouraging of me from 1992-2001 when I was a regular ‘DVE guest.

I swear, my wife won’t recognize me from his introduction. It sounded like he’s inducting me into some Hall of Fame for lazy, shiftless writers. He gushed and gushed. It went on so long I became concerned I could only ruin his great impression by opening my mouth.

My fears were misplaced. It couldn’t have gone better.

It could give me, my book and this blog huge boosts. Krenn has a large and loyal audience and he sounded very persuasive when he says everyone should buy my book.

Look for it Thursday on “No Restrictions.

It’s all true, too. This could be huge.

I just can’t right now prove any of it even happened.

I took my camera to have a picture taken of me and Jimmy in the studio after the show.

The camera malfunctioned.

That’s true, too.

Related . . .

Monday, February 24, 2014

No medals for Olympic breasts

(767 words)
Many American observers are saying today the Sochi Olympics were a disappointment because of the stunning disappearance of the USA hockey team.

Leave it to me once again to point out the big picture.

The biggest disappointment wasn’t the disappearance of a bunch of smelly, underperforming hockey players.

The biggest disappointment was once again the complete disappearance of the competitive breast. You could almost call it an “udder” disappearance.

You’d think in an Olympics that was as hysterically anti-gay as this one, Putin himself would have done something to put breasts front and center right where they belong.

It’s a confounding fact that as the breasts of women around the world have gotten exponentially bigger, the breasts of well-trained women competing in the Olympics have all but vanished.

This became most apparent in what is mistakenly called Women’s Figure Skating, a popular event that no longer features women with figures.

They are mostly girls who’ve been raised like veal only without any of the tender succulence. They have no shape, no breasts and none of the sex appeal that seems an inherent part of the sport.

I didn’t watch that closely, but the only performer I could imagine evoking any feelings of adult raunchiness was 22-year-old Ashley Wagner. She’s beautiful and she’s a woman. A flat-chested woman, true, but still a woman.

What happened to the days of the voluptuous 2-time gold winner Katarina Witt (above)?

A friend of mine, a father of four daughters, nailed it the other night when he was complaining about feeling creepy watching the finals. 

“These are just young girls,” he said. “And they have them doing these sexy maneuvers we used to see all the naked pre-med students do on Amateur Night down at the old Edison Hotel. It makes me uncomfortable seeing them flashing these little g-strings flossing their butt cheeks.”

He’s right.

Their skimpy outfits remind me of the old “Blues Brothers” line when Jake -- or was it Elwood? -- sings, “Baby, when you bend over I’m seeing every bit of Christmas, when you bend back I’m looking right into the New Year.”

I told my friend not to worry. He’s not a pervert.

Unfortunately, I demolished my argument by citing the pornographic musings of renowned pervert Morris Wanchuk.

That name will likely be unfamiliar to all but the most devoted fans of the great 1977 Paul Newman movie “Slap Shot.”

Played by Brad Sullivan, Mo probably has fewer than a dozen lines in the whole film, but every single one of them is filthy. He rhapsodizes about bar maids with whom he’s been intimate, leers at TV yoga hosts, and suggests some incarcerated teammates use their one call to phone -- not an attorney -- but a massage parlor.

When it’s said the Chiefs might relocate to the Sunshine State, his teammates offer bar stool toasts to the weather, the fan base, etc., and Mo says, “Here’s to all that gorgeous snatch in FLA!”

I thought of what Mo would have said when my friend wondered if he was a pervert for having unbidden thoughts of sex spring to mind when he’s watching someone launch into her Triple Lutz.

In fact, I know exactly what he’d say. I can’t recall more than six of the Ten Commandments. I forget important birthdays or when it’s my turn to pick up little what’s-her-name from swim practice. But I have almost the entirety of “Slap Shot” dialogue committed to memory.

The team on an off night went to the rink to see a troupe of comely ice dancers perform. At one point Mo opines, “I don’t like the way they cover their jugs all up with the feathers.”

Goalie Denis Lemieux tries to ignore him and says, “They are so beautiful!”

Mo continues: “They oughtta cut the costumes higher up on the thigh so you can see more ass,” to which the surprisingly prim goalie says, “You make me sick when you speak, Morris.”

The remark offends Mo's sensibilities. He shouts back, “This isn’t art. This is sex!”

So but that standard my friend is no pervert.

If you’re going to dress these little girls up in sexy costumes, no one should be surprised when grown men are confused by sexy thoughts.

I propose they no longer allow mere children in the Olympics until they are either fully developed or are at least old enough to afford a decent boob job.

So there you have it. I know the games are over, but it’s something I just need to get off my chest.

These days that takes what I guess you’d call Olympian effort.

Related . . .

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Re-Run Sunday: A long Vegas jump with Playboy Playmate Claire Sinclair

Last year this week, I embarked on a really sweet junket to Vegas to enjoy the kind of high adrenaline stuff you find far from the plush felt gaming tables. These stories still get lots of hits, particularly this one about doing the Skyjump at Stratosphere with Playboy Playmate Claire Sinclair.

Hmmm . . . I wonder why.

Four nights, five waivers, three jumpsuits  and, oh, about 24,000 surplus calories.

For me, being invited to participate in Extreme Vegas was like winning a really cool “Price is Right” Showcase and getting to meet a B-list celebrity who’s even more cuddly than Drew Carey.

So let’s start with SkyJump at the Stratosphere because it was the most exhilarating activity and the only one that involved at least a little nudity.

Not mine.

Even better. Way better.     

I’m talking the nudity of luscious Claire Sinclair, the 2012 Playboy Playmate of the Year.

The SkyJump takes place from an exposed deck 855-feet above the concrete patios at the Stratosphere, the second tallest freestanding observation tower in North America.

I’d twice been skydiving 25 years earlier. Both were solo jumps, a distinction that gives me bragging rights over those who skydive strapped tandem snug to dudes who answer to daredevil nicknames like “Psycho” and “Mad Dog.”

I stress to our elementary school daughters that trying too hard to appear cool is the opposite of true cool.

I say this even as I devote my entire existence to doing everything I can to keeping my cool alive. It’s my juvenile compensation for not having things like a job, stability, income, realistic prospects, etc.

See, if guys like me don’t have cool, we don’t have zip.

So one week after turning 50, there I was on the Stratosphere’s 108th floor observation deck with three other reporters, our gracious host, and to add a dash of Vegas surreal, the voluptuous Claire Sinclaire.

I’ll be captioning the picture you see above, “Four guys, one gal = six big boobs.”

Sinclaire has the pleasant kind of demeanor you’d expect from a person who is so far in life enjoying fame and fortune simply by smiling and removing her clothes.

Two other details I noticed about her: she has what seems to be an instinctual habit of provocatively turning her left knee in anytime anyone points a camera at her. At least that’s what happens when she’s upright. I can’t say if this reflex kicks in when she’s being photographed either lying on her back or posing on all fours.

Further research is required and I’m game for the duty.

Also, she speaks almost entirely in double entendres.

She kept asking who’d be jumping with her, if any of us were experienced jumpers and what excited us most about the anticipation of a really good, long jump.

It got even worse when she told us that the resort’s Roxy restaurant had honored her by offering a Claire Sinclair Burger.

“Will you eat my burger?” she asked.

It’s a question no woman’s ever asked me before. I was confused enough to seek a little Sinclaire-ity: “Does ‘eat your burger’ mean the same thing in Las Vegas as it does in Pittsburgh?”

She pretended she didn’t hear me. One of the other guys told me it was the stupidest thing he’d ever heard.

I disagreed and think it was the kind of question any refined gent would ask.

Either way, I told my wife I think her question meant she was hitting on me.

It’s a common misconception that this is a bungee jump. In fact, it’s considered a controlled decelerator descent. You’re tethered to three wires that govern how fast you fall. A jump costs $109 or about a buck a floor.

After a brief safety session, they zoomed us jumpers to the top and led us to a little pen where maybe a dozen people took pictures and turns telling us we were crazy.

As pep talks go, it wasn’t exactly let’s go out there and win one for the Gipper.

I’ve never been so scared in my life. 

When it was my turn, they opened the booth security doors and led me in. I felt like I was sleepwalking.

The wind was roaring. In fact, the last guy in our group was the last guy to go. The howling winds had made jumping too dangerous.

For an extra $30, they strap a video camera to your wrist. You can watch the video here if you want to see how I look when I’m terrified out of my mind, a condition I describe with a careless profanity I in hindsight regret.

I’m not going to say jumping off that exposed metal plank was the greatest thing I’d ever done, but surrendering to my fears and walking away from it would have been the worst.

Cowardice in any form is deplorable.

Sure, I’m not without my flaws, but I proved I’m no chicken and yesterday I fielded calls from envious guys who thought what I did was the coolest thing in the world.

I think so, too.

Just call me Mad Dog.

Related . . .

Friday, February 21, 2014

USA! USA! And why we all "Whoo!"

(822 words)
Guess what, America? It’s Friday!

Whoo! Hoo!

USA plays Canada in Olympic medal round hockey with the puck dropping at noon. Know what that means? The bar will be packed with hockey fans easing into the weekend and -- guess what? -- I think we’re going to win!


Need more reasons to cheer? There’s not so much as a flake of snow in the forecast!

Whoo! Whoo! Whoo!

Of course, some of that could change and the whole mood would be ruined. Canada could beat America, the weather could turn disruptive and, wham, it could be Monday morning again before we know it.

That could only mean one thing.


Or should it be bhoo!

So much Olympic broadcasting has me realizing how much time we as a people spend either booing or whooing.

We whoo when we win; we boo when we lose.

But why do we whoo?

It’s a nonsensical word. The Oxford English Dictionary calls it an “exclamation of surprise, grief or other emotion; an imitation of an owl’s hoot.”

I take exception to the secondary definition.

No sports fan alive has ever said “Whoo!” with the hopes of appearing wise or owl-like. That word is spelled “Hoo! Hoo!” And you know what it means when you hear “Hoo! Hoo!” in your holiday evergreens, don’t you?

Owl be home for Christmas. 

I spent a little time last night trying to learn the history of whoo, something decidedly different from the history of woo, which implies romance. For example, “He was pitching woo.”

I use that example because it’s so common, even as I know it could lead to some confusion on the part of Taiwanese readers who remember a pitching Wu (Wu Jung-yi) who in 2003 helped lead his Brother Elephants to a 6-1 win over the Sinon Bulls in the Taiwan Series before 10,500 cheering fans in Taichung.

I wonder if any of them that night whooed for Wu.

Although the expression’s been around for four centuries, I think whoo is in a golden age thanks to Homer Simpson who is known for saying “Whoo! Hoo!” when he finds things like stray chicken wings in his trouser pockets.

Remember at one time, a popular cheer was the now stuffy sounding, “Hurrah!” Today, anyone caught yelling “Hurrah! Hurrah!” at an athletic event would be interrogated on suspicion of being a subversive time traveler.

I wonder when “hurrah!” began falling out of favor. I know it wasn’t until after Johnny came marching home again. Hurrah! Hurrah!

It’s still a very stirring song, but I suspect its essential poignancy would be diminished if instead of singing “Hurrah! Hurrah!” we’d exclaimed the equally euphoric “Whoo! Whoo!”

Of course “Whoo!” is heard in countless great rock ‘n’ roll songs to great effect. But it can be overdone. I think Pete Townsend understood this when he named his band “The Who” instead of “The Whoo!”

One of our greatest rock songs is embedded with some phrasing that leads many people to mistakenly conclude it has a lot of chanted whoos. It’s “Sympathy for the Devil,” and the fact is something I always point out whenever it comes on and I’m with another listener. Happened in the bar just the other night when it was just me and the bartender.

“Ah, hear this. You’re to be excused if you believe the background chorus is chanting, “Whoo! Whoo!” In fact, they’re singing “Who? Who?” Mick Jagger is throughout the song quizzing us. He’s saying he’s responsible for committing all these unspeakable evils throughout the ages and insistently demanding we guess his name. But as the sinister imagery increases and is propelled along by the jungle rhythms, the background singers, likely Keith Richards and Brian Jones, begin to implore “Who? Who? Who? Who?” as if not knowing is driving them mad until at last Jagger reveals he is, indeed, Lucifer, The Prince of Darkness. What do you think of that?”

“I think it would be nice,” the bartender said, “if just for once you’d shut the fuck up so I can enjoy the song.”

I thought I’d found enlightenment on a webpage enticingly called “The History of Whoo.”

It turns out Whoo is also a prominent Korean cosmetics manufacturer. It’s a great name for people who make lipsticks: “One kiss from a girl wearing Whoo and it’s Whoo! Whoo! Whoo! all night long!”

But I was disappointed. All the page did was try to sell me Korean cosmetics, too drastic a lifestyle change for me going into a Friday afternoon when I’m eager to watch Olympic hockey.

So it’s something to consider next time some youthful Olympian does something that makes you cheer.

Because it’s likely Horton heard some whoos when Horton heard some Whos.

Well, looks like I made it through another week without doing any real work while still managing to keep all the pesky bill collectors at bay.


I mean . . .


Related . . .