Thursday, April 30, 2015

April tweets of the month!

Every time I think I’m losing my Twitter mojo, I have a month like this that makes me think, well, not bad. April had a lot of strong lines. 

And I’ve introduced a new @8days2Amish feature. It’s the “Near Daily 3.” It’s a way to blast out three, four or five old posts on one topic. Seems to be helping drive both blog and twitter numbers up.

Thanks for checking in!

• Cursory research reveals none of Pavlov's dogs was named Fido, Snickers or Champ, Rex, etc. 

• Live well & even the most humble home is bound to become a memory mansion. 

• No amount of government regulations or assistance will ever help a wheelchair-bound funny man become a true stand-up comic.

• I just once would like to see a cliffhanger show end with a villain named Cliff ascending the steps to the gallows.

• For promotional reasons, I'm again proposing Poland change its name to GOland! 

• Someone ought to name their kid Serious. He'd say wild things and when people asked, "Are you Serious?" he could say, "Yes, how do you do?"

• I wonder if in the Three Stooges scripts when it called for Curly to laugh it actually spelled it out, "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk.” 

• Some succeed by digging deep into earth for precious metals. Me, I hope to succeed by having dug many tiny holes & sprinkling seeds.

• Took me 50 years to discover my superpower. What is it? When people are talking to me, I LISTEN. Try it sometime.

• I advise people to not fixate on diet. A waist is a terrible thing to mind. 

• I wonder what seems more remote to the Beach Boys: When they were last on the beach or when they last were boys.

• New prisons are the only structures that require occupants break in before they can break out.

• I haven't gazed closely enough, but I wonder if among the heavens there's a star named Ringo.

• I’m eager to one day hear someone with a Cockney accent say the line to donate at the Red Cross was “Bloody long.”

• Global warming means the phrase "tip of the iceberg" will soon lose its punchy validity. Icebergs will soon be just tips.

• News that gray whale migrates record 14,000 miles convinces me some enterprising real estate agent could convince it it’s time to relocate.

• Aaron Hernandez found guilty of murder. He's a throwback Patriot from back before all they deflated were game balls.

• A gym beam requires steady footwork. A Jim Beam isn't nearly as fussy.

• I’m always at a loss for words whenever I take the dog out and he looks up at me like I’m supposed to congratulate him when he craps.

• My daughter, 8, thinks Coachella Music Festival is a music festival run by a coach named Ella.

• I wonder if other owls roll their eyes whenever they hear a "wise" guy owl describe something as a "real hoot.”

• I have to believe Britt McHenry spent part of everyday of her life praying she'd be famous. This week her prayers were answered.

• Quick! Anyone know if there are any symbols for cymbals?

• Most of prez candidates said to be "testing the waters" are too beholden to special interests to actually ever test the waters.

• Tebow back from the NFL dead. Can anyone help me with an apt analogy?

• How much money one earns is among the most inefficient ways to keep score in life. It's a pity it's so damn easy for all the scorekeepers.

• The key to true happiness is to not care what people think. Please RT if you agree. Please! I'll be so sad if you don’t …

• Because it would challenge sedentary thinkers, I think Nome should be spelled Gnome and Alaska should be spelled Galaska.

• Live each day as if it's your last. By that I mean, daily re-write your will to screw relatives who've recently been most mean to you.

• I wish it was a seafaring tradition that anyone who is called "Skipper" actually moved from place to place by skipping.

• This is bound to sound naive, but could global warming be solved by everyone simultaneously leaving fridge doors open for 15 mins a day?

• The advent of ubiquitous smart phones has meant the death of the rhetorical question.

• Something about hearing the words “FLASH FLOOD WARNING” always sends me down to the river pantless in trench coat.

• Spring is when Mother Nature puts on her makeup!

• I’m appalled to see Baltimore cops beating Baltimore protesters/vice versa. Only thing that gets me through is knowing deep down they’re all are Raven fans.

• Powerful thunderstorms through nudist colony could lead to flesh flooding.

• Experts say nude tourists are surprisingly affluent for people for whom description "deep pockets" does not apply.

• I wonder if in the annals of mob history a man named Stone was ever asked to kill two men named Byrd.

• Jesus walked on water. I wonder if when He returns He’ll this time opt for a spiffy new Sea Doo.

• Because I can never remember which is which, I propose we rename Vermont “6” and New Hampshire “9”

Related . . .

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Foul balls & Baltimore riots

Not many of you may know it, but I’ve caught three foul balls at Pittsburgh Pirate baseball games between 1991 and 1999.

I don’t know why I don’t write about some aspect of the feat at least once a week because writing about it always makes me feel good, superior even. I know many life-long fans who’ve never snagged even one.

Poor saps.

They’re the only object described as “foul” everyone wants.

Done with flair and in challenging circumstances, catching one is a thrill you’ll never forget.

It was like that particularly with the one I caught May 20, 1991. I recall being deathly hungover. I’d been to a buddy’s wedding the night before. I was holding in my right hand what I back then referred to as “therapy beer.”

Phillie Randy Reading sent a Bob Smiley heater screaming toward the upper deck facade right behind me and my buddies. Our necks snapped in case there was a rare rebound.

There was.

And it was coming straight for my nose.

The eyes of 32,000 fans followed the ball’s hazardous path. Balls hit that hard have been known to knock unwitting fans unconscious. I’m sure that’s what many fans feared was about to happen to me.

Their fears were unfounded.

I snagged the ball cleanly and instantly raised my arms the way boxers do after an early-round knock-out.

And I began to bask in the cheers.

The whole crowed roared. It was a great accomplishment, the kind they routinely show today on the highlight shows, made even more remarkable because I was suffering from a hangover that would have killed a horse.

There were big leaguers on the field who grinned in appreciation.

It was a great moment.

Given that the Bucs would soon embark on what was destined to become a two-decade slide of historic incompetence, I’m surprised no one offered me a contract on the spot.

I write about it today because I’m wondering about something unprecedented happening today at Baltimore’s Camden Yards. That’s where they’ll be playing the first MLB game without any fans.

And they better mean that.

If I see highlights and there are bunch of well-connected fat white guys yukking it up behind home plate, hell, I’ll set fire to a CVS.

But let’s say they have a game with no fans.

What’ll happen to all the foul balls?

Numbers vary widely, but I’ve read an average of 40 balls are fouled into the stands every MLB game.

Will they just roll around in the stands? Without fans, there ought not to be any vendors there, so they’re not in the picture.

I’ve told the story about my most heroic catch, but the one I caught August 26, 1999, was under conditions similar to what we’ll today see in Baltimore.

There were just a few hundred people at old Three Rivers Stadium that day. The ball was sliced into the section nearby and I sort of just hustled over to get it. I remember the ball had rolled up against someone’s discarded nacho plate.

I took a few of them, too!

There’s bound to be some great journalism coming from today’s eeriness, descriptions of a game without cheers, without heckling, without the joyful babble of voices that makes attending baseball games such a happy memory for me.

There’s just something about sitting in the sun and bantering about baseball that makes all the world’s troubles seem to drift away. 

Really, what they ought to do is let just two fans in — an angry black kid and a white guy with racist leanings.

Gee, do you think we’d be able to find anybody in Baltimore today that would fit those profiles?

They should make them sit together right behind the plate and see who gets more foul balls.

I’ll bet the two would wind up buddies and there’d be some great stories about their chases.

I’m not saying it would lead to any substantial changes in the attitudes that seem to be drowning a city I’ve always enjoyed.

But it’d be nice to read at least one cheerful story out of Baltimore, a place that today is being roiled by so much foul behavior.

Related 8days2Amish tweet of the week (just because I think it’s funny): “I’m appalled by the sight of Baltimore cops beating Baltimore protesters and vice versa. The only thing that gets me through my despair is the realization that deep down they’re all Ravens fans.”

Related . . .

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

What's the big idea? Read this

I propose we today begin reversing the effects of global warming by everyone going straight to the nearest refrigerator and leaving the doors open for just 15 minutes.

I defy any scientist to refute the logic behind this idea.

I came up with this yesterday morning, posted it on social media and, of course, took the rest of the day off.

It wasn’t even 10 a.m. and I’d already achieved something that would save humanity and will doubtless one day earn me a Nobel Prize — and those babies come with $1.2 million in award dough.

The cool thing is that I come up with a really big idea like that at least once a week.

So, assured as I am of eventual riches, I rarely work most days, convinced as ever that my ship will soon come in and I’ll never again be troubled by the need to work. That means my daily life will differ little from what it’s like now except I’ll be able to afford to golf, go to baseball games and sit in the bar and daydream all day like I do now. 

The refrigerator thingie is inspired by the simple kind of genius I once read in a scholarly journal that foresaw a way to end air pollution. Experts said we could instantly purify the air around the globe by popping the tires of all the cars built in or before the 1950s.

I read this scholarly conclusion in the “Weekly World News,” unrelated sample headline: “Baby Born with Wooden Leg!”
I’ve been in the big idea business ever since.

I see a problem and I solve it.

It was that way when I read Olympic TV ratings were down. I enjoy the Olympics and how it brings people together.

Problem: We lack a spectacle grand enough to bring people together?

Solution: Let’s arrange a trans-Atlantic tug-of-war!

In fact, there used to be an international tug-of-war between America and Canada. It happened every year over the 1.3 mile-wide Detroit River between Motown and Windsor, Ontario.

I for years pitched in vain the story to various magazines because I thought it would be fun and might snag a nice buck. But the real reason I sought an assignment was because I was eager to satisfy my curiosity about what they did with the rope the other 364 days of the year.

I mean, you can’t just stow a coiled 1.5 mile long rope in some firehall garage.

I became so consumed with the idea I proposed the U.S. challenge Europe to a tug of war. Shipping would have to be halted for a week or so, but wouldn’t that be fun? 

We’d need some international referees to keep the crafty French from just tying their end to the Eiffel Tower and sipping coffee while we pulled with all our might.

Of course, most of my big ideas are meant to help humanity.

It was this way when I realized the bee population was dramatically declining while the bedbug population was skyrocketing.

We need bees to pollinate our plants and no one needs bedbugs. I said we need to find a way to turn bedbugs into bees.

I think the only thing holding this one back is a potentially nightmarish glitch.


Then there’s the The Great Pacific Garbage Patch, a floating junk monstrosity that’s twice the size of Texas. Less imaginative observers note its oceanic existence and are appalled.

I see the same eyesore and sense lucrative opportunity.

I say we colonize it!

Our 1 percenters are always eager for new experiences on ocean front property. The good thing about colonizing giant trash islands is they can be towed to different locations based on playboy boredom.

It’d be like a luxury cruise ship only instead of creating mountains of trash, it’d actually be one.

As an old newspaper guy, it saddens me that readership is declining. Even worse is knowing so many people go to bed hungry every night.

What to do?

Edible newspapers!

Gun violence is a vexing issue. Pro-gun people think they should be allowed to carry loaded guns anywhere they want. Anti-gun people say too many innocents are getting shot.

Solution: Everyone can carry a loaded gun anywhere they want. Schools, churches, sporting events — anywhere. But they only get one bullet.

Use or lose your bullet and in addition to any existing laws, you need to appear before a judge and explain what happened to their bullet before they get another bullet.

My friends call this the Barney Fife Amendment. 

I got millions of ‘em.

Because political divisions ensue even after mandate elections, I contend victors should be allowed to jail the vanquished — both candidates and supporters — until the term expires.

The post office is losing money while people are complaining that commercial flights are too uncomfortable and expensive.

Solution: Have the USPS ship humans!

I could go on all day. These things just come to me.

When will even one of these turn into a practical solutions leading to actual income for me?

Ironically, I have no idea.

Related . . .

Monday, April 27, 2015

Tom Sawyer ejaculates! And when word meanings change

I was startled to find not one, but two ejaculations on the pages of “Tom Sawyer.”  

And here I wasn’t even sure the 139-year-old Tom has been through puberty.

I wondered if perhaps I’d stumbled onto one of those pornographic parodies. Some of you more worldly types may have heard of those.

They’re where the smut merchants tweak a famous title and turn something wholesome into something filthy. Examples: “On Golden Blonde,” “Shaving Ryan’s Privates,” and “E.T.: The Extra-Testicle.”

But I soon realized I mistaken.

No one had tampered with the words of Mark Twain.

Time had tampered with their meanings.

In today’s porno-drenched society, I avoid using the word ejaculation. It’s too freighted with XXX connotations.

It wasn’t that way when Twain wrote Tom.

The first instance is in Chapter 15, “Tom’s Stealthy Visit Home,” in which he’s hiding under Aunt Polly’s bed as she loudly laments her belief that Tom’s dead.

“He had to keep still long after she went to bed, for she kept making broken- hearted ejaculations from time to time …”

Ejaculations resume in Chapter 21, “Eloquence — And the Master’s Gilded Dome.” 

“There was a buzz of gratification from time to time during the reading, accompanied by whispered ejaculations of ‘How Sweet!’ ‘How eloquent!’ ‘So true!’ etc…”

I’m unable to discern when ejaculation went from being a word that conveyed words gushing from our mouths to a word that meant something other than words gushing from elsewhere.

But it is indicative of how, well, fluid the language can be.

It’s that way with intercourse, another word that would today make modern Tom Sawyers snicker the way they do whenever the astronomy teacher mentions Uranus.

Intercourse used to be a proper Victorian word that meant two people engaged in polite conversation.

For instance: “Last week my wife had intercourse with the man who played Greg Brady in ‘The Brady Bunch.’”

Given the 19th century definition of the word, it’s perfectly true and within the marital restrictions set forth in our wedding vows.

It’s okay because, heck, I had intercourse with him, too!

It’s how Pennsylvania has a charming village named Intercourse. You can blame Sigmund Freud for the word’s perversion. He in scholarly works began to describe carnal intimacy as “sexual intercourse.”

So today my favorite unofficial state motto is: “Virginia Is For Lovers But Pennsylvania Has Intercourse!”

Hospitality is another example. We love hospitable people, hosts who treats guests with warmth and aplomb.

Care to guess the Latin root word of hospitable?

It’s hospital!

Yes, in 19th century England children slaving away in dreary work houses used to dream they’d get sent to the hospital because treatment there was so superior.

It was hospitality at its finest.

Today, nobody says, “Cabo’s booked. Why don’t we just head over to the hospital for a few days of R&R?”

Another example: Did you know the word computer is about 360 years older than the first computers?

It’s true. The first computers were people who made calculations; they’d compute.

Condescending used to be a word that described noble men and women who’d take the time to explain complicated issues to less educated souls.

Today, condescending to someone is faux pas — and I’d explain the definition of faux pas, but I wouldn’t want to risk coming off as too condescending.

Here are two from a read-worthy and related Collins Dictionary article:

Broadcast was initially an agricultural term that meant spreading seeds with a wide sweeping motion. It wasn’t until the 1920s that the term was applied to spreading the news.

We’ve all heard Teddy Roosevelt ejaculate the word “Bully!” Well, it used to be a term of endearment for do-gooder men and women. It wasn’t until the bullies began showing off their good deeds that bully began to morph into a word that meant intimidating.

I’m curious about where the word terrific will eventually settle. Of course, the root of the word is terror.

In fact, when T.R’s cousin, Franklin Delano died 70 years ago April 12, his last words were, “I have a terrific headache!”

It’s a sure thing FDR didn’t mean it the same way admiring film critics did when they wrote, “Michael Keaton is terrific in ‘Birdman!’”

So that’s it for today’s blog ejaculation. Thanks, babe, for the bully intercourse.

I hope you’ll check in tomorrow.

I promise you and I will have a gay old time!

Related . . .

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Re-Run Sunday: "Boston Corbett, America's Greatest Eunuch!"

I’m delighted a Re-Run Sunday coincided with one of my favorite historical days of the entire calendar. It’s Boston Corbett Day!

He’s the eunuch who killed John Wilkes Booth. It happened 150 years ago today.

This is my third most popular post ever and continues to enjoy robust readership. 

You won’t see it anywhere in the news today. There will be no stirring memorials. Congress won’t pause to honor the actions of the man who should be acclaimed as America’s greatest eunuch by unanimous consent.

All hail, Boston Corbett, the man who killed the man who killed President Lincoln! It happened 145 years ago this very morning.

Really, can you even name a single other great American eunuch?

I can’t.

I guess we’re all stumped.

And so are the eunuchs, but in a much more literal way.

A eunuch is a man who undergoes deliberate removal of his testicles for any number of offbeat cultural reasons. Throughout history, eunuchs have served royals as courtiers, harem servants and trusted guardians of virginal princesses

Some have even willingly become eunuchs so they could serenade a discerning king with a treble voice of unmatched loveliness.

It sounds extreme, but I’m surprised no one’s tried it yet on American Idol. I guess in these days of instant fame, making a real sacrifice for the sake of art is no longer fashionable.

Of course, Corbett makes each of those motivations seem like pikers by comparison.

Born Thomas P. Corbett in London in 1832, he eventually moved to Boston, where he picked up a nickname with slightly more dash than if he’d have moved to say, Passadumkeag, Maine.

In 1858, at the age of 26, is when things got interesting. Fired with the religious passions, he grew his hair long in an attempt to imitate Jesus.

Then he did Jesus one better. Two better, to be precise.

The history books say he was so consumed with lust for Boston prostitutes he resorted to dire remedies. So one night he took a pair of rusty scissors, dropped his trousers and -- snip! snip! -- cut off his troublesome testicles.

That’s taking safe sex practices to a whole other realm.

The he sat down and had a nice dinner and attended a Methodist prayer meeting before finally staggering off for medical attention.

Amazing. For literary purposes it would be great fun to discover that the entree was meatballs, but the menu is lost to history.

The man is testament to the fact that it doesn’t take real balls to be a real man.

In April 1861, he enlisted as a private in the New York Militia, was honorably discharged after his three-month commitment, then re-enlisted to fight again. He was taken prisoner in 1863 and was captive for five months in the notorious Andersonville prison before being freed in a common prisoner exchange. He would later testify for the prosecution in the death penalty trial of doomed prison commandant Capt. Henry Wirz.

After again re-enlisting, it was Corbett on this day in 1865 at the Garrett tobacco barn near Port Royal, Virginia, who against orders shot the bullet that struck John Wilkes Booth in the back of neck, about one inch from where the dastardly Booth slew Lincoln on April 14.

“Providence directed me,” he said when asked why he’d disobeyed orders.

Then, like today, you can get away with a lot if you can convince believers that God whispered in your ear, “Pssst, hey, buddy . . .”

Corbett’s post-war life became increasingly erratic, perhaps, because of exposure to mercury when he worked as a hatter in New York and Boston. Because of his fame, he was appointed doorkeeper of the Kansas House of Representatives, where he pulled a pistol on some men who he’d caught yawning about the morning prayer.

He was sent to an insane asylum, escaped and lived for a while in a hole that today lists as the No. 1 scenic attraction in Kansas.

It may be a big state, but I’ll drive hundreds of miles out of the way if I can avoid a state where the most scenic site is Corbett’s hole.

He is believed to have died along with more than 400 others in the Great Hinkley Fire that consumed hundreds of acres of Minnesota forest where he’d built a cabin and was living when the fire spread on September 1, 1894.

His story is the reason I never fail to engage airplane seat mates about their lives.

I’m sure he shared many stagecoach rides with men and women too engaged in their 19th century iPad equivalents to hear the stories of this fascinating eunuch who killed the man who killed the president.

So, to honor America’s greatest eunuch, I suggest we all cut the work day short.

Please don’t feel the drastic need to cut off anything more significant.

And just to be safe, let's all steer clear of the prostitutes in Boston at least for today.

Related . . .