Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Tweets of the Month

I’m at 8days2Amish. Follow! Like! Share! Love! And stay the heck out of the passing lane …

• For the sake of metaphorical irony, it'd be neat if old wives grew actual tails.

• I used to think they were called the wee-wee hours because they were the clock's smallest numbers. As I age I'm becoming convinced they're called the wee-wee hours because it's when many adults get out of bed to wee-wee.

• I wonder if warrior Indians were bummed when they went to scalp a warring paleface and found him to be, dang, bald.

• I’d like to see a boy named Morley engage a girl name Leslie and have them conceive a child they'll name Equally.

• I’ll bet there are many days each week when Dick Cheney wakes up and is stunned to realize he's no longer President of the United States.

• My ego is so massive whenever I see my 15-year-old daughter texting in car I think she's telling friends, "My Dad's the greatest!”

• Malia Obama to enjoy gap year before college. My gap year was after Ohio University and in many ways I don't think it's ever ended. 

• I predict some time in the next six weeks, Donald Trump will propose the presidency be decided based on the number of Twitter followers.

• Today’s the day when I begin annoying politically minded friends if the Electoral College has cheerleaders.

• Secret ingredient in any good meal is love. Secret ingredient in bad meals after you've been rude to the waitress is spit.

• World won't be whole until everyone either has or is a doting grandparent.

• John Lennon imagined a world at peace. Try and imagine how different people would look with rectangular nipples.

• Must be tough being a tour guide at Big Ben. They work 'round the clock.

• I like to check books out of the library and imagine I'm having a lively conversation about it with all the previous readers. 

• All you need to know about the taste possibilities of broccoli is no ones ever tried to smoke it or use it to make wine.

• The only thing that today exceeds our national inarticulateness is the number of megaphones possessed by all those who have nothing to say.

• I wonder if heaven is like life in that you like most people but sometimes duck down a different aisle to avoid them in the grocery store.

• From my observation, the canine equivalent of folk man's "5-Second Rule" is the "0.0005-Second Rule.”

• Anytime someone says “the mind boggles” like it’s some kind of rarity, point out that the majority of minds do more boggling than thinking.

• Understand when someone saves your bacon, they're saving it so they can eat it themselves later. Bacon makes people selfish.

• This will betray my warped priorities, but if my house is ever in an earthquake how long will it be before I can safely open a beer?

• How will we explain birds and bees to innocents once the bees are all gone? Birds and birds sounds like something that would upset NC guv.

• I wonder how many times designers of the first drawing board went d'oh when they failed said "Oh, well, it's back to the old drawing board.”

• It doesn't surprise me when scientists say Earth's been rotating for 4.53 billion years. What surprises me is it's never started to squeak.

• I’m spending the day pretending I’m getting from place to place using an invisible steering wheel. Try it. Make screeching sounds on bends.

• True serenity cannot be achieved until you realize the senselessness of trying to change the minds of the mindless.

• I’ve given it a lot of thought and the only thing I can conclude is the hospitality phrase “break bread” predates common table utensils.

• Life for people who prefer vinyl records doesn't begin 'til 33 and a 1/3.

• Some great thinkers try and achieve mind over matter. i wish I could master mind over things that don't matter.

• It’s not something you’ll ever hear marriage counselors say but many marriages wind up in stalemate simply because they involve stale mates.

• As parents, the fruit of our loins inevitably becomes the apple or our eyes, even when they're driving us bananas.

• I’m convinced we in America could end world hunger if for just one summer we agreed to cease all competitive eating contests.

• I wonder how often Hell has Congeniality contests and how long it’ll be before Bill Cosby wins.

• I wonder if there are any sloths who are disparaged by other sloths for laziness. Like, “I may be a sloth but Phil, man, he’s really lazy.”

• “All kidding aside,” are three words you’ll never hear me say in sequence. I’ll always kid. Kidding is forefront to my entire existence.

• Divorce rates will plunge when judges have discretion to make especially egregious husbands take maiden names of their ex-wives.

• People who get religious tattoos often have crosses to bare.

• Why did the grass farmer cross the road? To get to the other sod.

Related …

Monday, May 30, 2016

Memorial Day re-run: "A few good men & women" ('09)

On Memorial Day, I advise people to either thank a veteran or go right out and enlist.

I always opt to thank the vet.

I think I would be a terrific peacetime soldier, which is not unlike being a spouse in a productive marriage. Sure, there’s a lot of bitching and petty gripes, but the GIs realize we’re working for a greater good and soldier on. Adding kids to the equation makes the family unit like boot camp where the parents are the drill instructors and the young ‘uns are the green recruits.

And I think I’m good in that role, as is my wife, Col. Valerie.

But none of us can predict how we’d react under fire. Would I be hero or coward? I can’t handle the truth.

Like a lot of men, I’d like to be tested but I never felt the situational urge to put on the uniform like so many others have done.

I think I and the nation are weaker for it. I’m sure I could have benefited from a couple of years of service right out of high school. Imagine what kind of shape the country would be in if, instead of going straight to the college bars, guys like me had been conscripted to spend 18 months in the service of our country.

And I’m not even talking about overseas duty in hostile lands. I mean if at 18 we’d have done some basic boot camp and been dispersed to clean up the ghettos, to dig sewage projects in the Appalachians, or help distribute food and friendly company to the elderly.

It would have instilled a sense of national morality and the too often alien notion of what it feels like to do good for strangers.

But to enlist with the understanding that enemy fire will be trained on you takes another breed.

I like to think I’m like Albert Einstein -- and I doubt he’d ever reciprocate in any fashion -- in that we’re both what he called “rational pacifists.”

We don’t want to kill anybody. We believe reason can usually prevail and that war should be the last, least welcome option.

Rational pacifists saw sound reasons to engage in bloody all-out war with Hitler and the Taliban. We didn’t see it in the buildup to war with Iraq.

Yet, even in a war that many of us felt was misguided, hundreds of thousands of men and women, many righteously motivated by the attacks of 9/11, lined up to serve because they believe it’s their sacred duty.

The surfer dudes have practically neutered the powerful word’s original impact but, man, that’s awesome.

A few years ago I was once golfing with friends on Memorial Day and admitted to feeling sheepish that there we were skipping along in the sunshine, enjoying our favorite pastime, some beers and giggles, while men and women not too different from us were hunkered down in boiling bunkers in places like Baqubah and Jalalabad.

Despite being mired in two difficult wars, there was no homefront hardships in our little world.

My buddy Ronnie, himself an Army vet who’d served in Korea, gave a poignant response masked in a cheerful smile: “Hey, this is what they want us to be doing. This is why they serve.”

Well, that made me feel even more unworthy.

So those are some Memorial Day options for you to consider amidst the barbecue and the beers.

Either thank a vet or climb out of your lawn chair and go enlist.

Me, I think I’ll call Ronnie up and see if he wants to go golfing this week.

Guys like him are too humble to accept my thanks for what they’ve done on behalf of my country. It’s no big deal, they say.

That’s too bad.

It means I’ll probably have to give him strokes.

Alas, that’ll be the sad extent of my sacrifice on this Memorial Day.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Memorial Day thoughts on war & great war movies (from '13)

Being born with a philosophical bent, I spend a good deal of time wrestling with the great questions of the ages.

“Why are we here?” “What happens to us when we die?” And, “If God created heaven and earth, who created God?”

Those are all topics for another day.

Today, Memorial Day, I think I have an answer to a question that has puzzled great thinkers since it was first posed in 1970. The question?

“War: What is it good for?”

After much soul-searching I’ve come up with an answer. It is as follows:

Without war, there would be no great war movies.

I understand my answer is unlikely to salve the wounds of the veterans and widows for whom today means so much more than a traditional basic cable war movie feast.

I know of very few males, the gender primarily responsible for launching and fighting wars, for whom war movies do not resonate.

I wonder if the two are related.

But I know many men who today will be tuned in to watch, “Patton,” “The Guns of Navarone,” “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Longest Day,” and other epic films based on man’s inhumanity to man.

I think it’s because most men wonder how we’d react under fire. Would we flee or advance?  Would we respond like our fathers did?

In my case, the answer is probably yes.

Like many descendants of The Greatest Generation, I come from military stock. The declaration seems to be bestow me with reflected glory.

My Dad served. He stood on the bright line that helped save the world from tyranny.

Did he storm the beaches at Normandy? No.

Dad was a U.S. Navy chaplain’s assistant.

The only less hazardous military title I can imagine is Army Pillow Tester.

He had no war stories about heroics. In fact, my favorite war story of his was the one he told about he was waiting to board the U.S Pocono to be shipped off to the Pacific on August 7, 1945, when someone told him we’d dropped the atom bomb on Hiroshima.

Dad’s question: “What’s an atom bomb?”

Military historians will argue the ethics of the point, but the atom bomb forced a swift Japanese surrender and likely saved the lives of my father and millions of others who would have perished invading an entrenched and motivated Japan.

We naturally tend today to memorialize only of the ones who fought on the front lines, the wounded and dead. In fact, the original intent of Memorial Day was the memorialize those killed in action. It has somehow morphed into an omnibus military appreciation day and I’m cool with that.

I tend to believe heroics are often the result of circumstance.

In that regard, I’m like the protagonist of what to me is the greatest war movie ever made, a war movie that shows not a single gun being fired and the only notable death is unseen, but merely mentioned in a letter read aloud.

It’s “Mister Roberts.”

The 1955 John Ford movie stars Henry Fonda as beleaguered Lt. Doug Roberts, the executive officer aboard the cargo supply ship Reluctant.

Roberts itches for action, but so excels at his mundane duties that his tyrannical captain, played by James Cagney, won’t approve his repeated requests for front line transfer.

In the end, his beloved crew secretly rigs the transfer and Roberts is thrust into combat.

The movie concludes with the bored crew getting two letters from Roberts’s new ship: the first is from Roberts who relates how his destroyer is in the thick of the action near Okinawa. 

In hindsight, he has an epiphany about his old shipmates and that the “unseen enemy of this terrible war is the boredom that eventually becomes a faith and, therefore, a terrible sort of suicide. I know now that the ones who refuse to surrender to it are the strongest of all.”

The second letter is from one of Roberts’s shipmates. It conveys Roberts was killed in a below-decks kamikaze strike. He was drinking coffee and never saw it coming.

Just another example of a sad, useless death in war’s grim ledger.

But, geez, it makes for one hell of a movie.

Related . . .

Friday, May 27, 2016

Pens vs. Sharks in Stanley Cup (and life)

The Pens playing the San Jose Sharks for the Stanley Cup is less than idyllic for me because I’m one of those guys who gets annoyed having to pay attention to any news happening in any of the 39 world time zones that aren’t the one I’m in.

If it’s not happening in EST, I have trouble paying attention. Same goes for news about people whose names I have trouble pronouncing. 

It’ll be annoying for people watching the games with me because I’ll inevitably ask stupid questions about real sharks.

For instance, I’ve always wondered if these notorious man-eaters are uniformly voracious or if there are some sharks that are like some picky kids about cleaning their proverbial plate.

Dad shark: “Son, if you don’t eat your liver you’ll go to your room without your device privileges for the whole night.”

Son shark: “I hate liver! Isn't it enough I ate both the awful kidneys!”

I like it when best of seven series involving Pittsburgh teams are against teams within our sensible time zone against players whose names lend themselves to convenient heckling.

That’s why I was hoping we’d play the Brooklyn Nets, a EST team with players named Tad Young, Will Read, and Jarret Jack.

Of course, this would be highly unusual because the Nets are a professional basketball team and playing an NBA team in the NHL’s Stanley Cup would unprecedented.

And, oh, how the Pens would kick their asses.

NHL scouts routinely rate a team’s skating abilities. I’m sure they’d say an NBA team has very poor skating skills.

It’d be fun to watch Sidney Crosby zoom around a bunch of 6-foot-10 dudes who can barely stand up on skates. I’m confident Crosby could beat the Nets all by himself. Heck, our goalie could beat them all by himself.

Alas, we get the PTZ (Pacific Time Zone) San Jose Sharks and guys named Dainius Zubrus, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Joonas Donskoi.

I also hate the sports league propensity to try and achieve perfect fairness in scheduling. That means games 1, 2, 5 and 7 will be played in Pittsburgh, which gets home ice advantage because of its superior record. 

Those of you who are statistically minded will note the disparity in sequencing. Games 3, 4 and 6 will succumb to the scheduling equivalent of Manifest Destiny.

It upsets environmentalists like myself because of all the squandered  jet fuel it’ll take to zoom back and forth across the continent in the event the series goes seven games (it won’t).

It’s incredible wasteful.

It’d make environmental sense to play the games in a central location, like Lebanon, Kansas, the exact geographic center of the USA.

If you think Lebanon would be a convention mecca, you’d be mistaken. Population 279, one resident told me they’re so desolate they’re 60 miles from the nearest Walmart and that they buy toilet paper by the pallet.

Of course, the biggest question of all involving San Jose’s participation in the Stanley Cup is whose idea was it to put an NHL franchise in San Jose, an inland city with the same international prestige as Fresno.

Who wants to junket to San Jose?

It’s like taking a California team and making it come to Pennsylvania to play Scranton.

There shouldn’t be professional ice hockey in towns that never see roads covered in actual ice. And I reserve the right to alter my position once Global Warming renders the whole stipulation preposterous.

So it promises to be a fun week here in Pittsburgh and San Jose, too, I’m sure.

I grew up playing hockey and have remained a huge fan. This Penguin team is very appealing, too.

Being in a city that’s on a championship run is tremendous fun. No one knows this better than Pittsburgh fans. In my lifetime, I’ve celebrated six Super Bowls, three Stanley Cups and three World Series championships.

That’s 12 in five decades, for an average of more than two every decade.

By comparison, fans in Cleveland haven’t won squat.

Yes, it’s good to be us.

This week will prove it again.

It sounds like one of those hysterically hyped Animal Planet shows, but this series will confound the the aquatic natural order: The Pens will devour the Sharks.

Livers and all.

Pens in five.

Related …

Thursday, May 26, 2016

A pill to end need for sleep; one to end need for food: You must take one. Which do you take?

Imagine it is the future, which means it could be 10, 20 or 50 years from now or it could be tomorrow morning.

It is announced a major pharmaceutical company has developed a pill that if you take just once will eliminate the need to eat.

Simultaneously, a rival announces it has developed a pill that eliminates the need to sleep.

And because it is the future and we’re all conditioned to see the future as grimly dystopian, the prevailing tyrannies announce everyone in America has to take one or the other.

Which do you choose?

Will you never sleep again or never eat again?

I’m torn.

Sleeping and eating are two of my very favorite human activities. But, guaranteed, we’re nearing a day when these prescriptive remedies are available.

Many people regard both essentials as nuisances. Many Type As brag they sleep just three or four hours a night, like sleeplessness is a virtue. They’d certainly take both pills, viewing meals as time consuming inconveniences.

But most of us aren’t like that. We enjoy eating and sleeping. 

On many, many days I look forward to sleeping the way I used to look forward to Friday nights. The event fills me with yearning anticipation.

We have a comfy waterbed — and I can’t fathom the marketing failures that have relegated the moisture mattress to hippie nostalgia. If I’m tired, crawling into a warm waterbed with my soft sweet wife is a heavenly sensation.
When the air is brisk and crickets croaking Mother Nature’s lullaby, a good night’s sleep leaves me feeling born again.

On some rare nights, I become so lost in slumber, so bereft of decorum, I wake up with my face stuck to the soggy pillow. It’s slobber sleep, the best sleep there is, the sleep equivalent to bowling a 300.

Then there’s the soulful afternoon doze. It may last just 15 minutes, but it’s perfectly refreshing. I like turning on the Weather Channel and watching the soothing patterns depicting havoc being wreaked in places I’m not. They could be getting the hell pounded out of them in Kansas, but to me the big purple blobs look like a soothing lava light in a darkened room.

Zzzzzz …

That’s all done if you take the big no-doze.

What will happen to the bedrooms in the houses where nobody sleeps?

It seems extravagant to keep a bed in a room just for the screwing, especially in homes that have a handy breakfast bar.

No sleep means no pillows, no PJs, no bed head, no my-alarm-didn’t-go-off excuses. No more nightmares, but no more wickedly raunchy dreams either. And no cocooning retreat from the world when it seems to be getting really mean.

One of our last sanctuaries will be banished forever. It’ll truly be 24/7 for 24/7.

A pill that will eliminate the need to eat will forever rid the world of hunger so we’ll have to find something for the farmers to do.

And driving will take on a dangerous new element as the streets may soon be over run with wild cows, chickens and pigs as liberating the animals makes more sense than maintain them.

PETA will have to figure out a whole new ad campaign while militant vegans will face an identity crisis.

It’ll be nice that no one will be hungry but a no-eat pill could cripple the economy. Look around where you live. Nearly every third business is some kind of eatery. Same goes for commercials.

But it’s not like the people who feed us will ever go hungry so don’t lose any sleep over that factor.

I know many people will who mistake food for fuel. They believe it’s merely something to combust to keep the motor running.

I pity them.

I love trying new recipes, shopping for food, preparing food and then slowly, bite-by-bite, savoring it.

Many of the best memories of my entire life involve eating meals both simple and grand with people whose company I treasure.

Val and I dined at Windows on the World at the top of the World Trade Center with all Manhattan spread out beneath us. And there was that four-hour lunch at he famed French Laundry in Napa. And I love the grub fests at some divey roadhouse after me and the boys have enjoyed a sunny afternoon round of golf.

I’d miss juicy grilled steaks, sumptuous sushi, eggs-over-easy, pasta, winter soups and ballpark hot dogs with my darling daughters.

What will I miss most?

The answer will reveal I’m at heart a man of pedestrian tastes, but I bet I’d miss good pizza the way men who’ve endured accidental castration say they miss their erections.

I just love pizza.

In fact, just typing the word pizza has me right now craving pizza.

Oh, how I wish I had access to a pill that would free me from these distracting daydreams!

Or maybe it’d be better to just order a pizza while that’s still an option.

Related …