Wednesday, August 31, 2016

My weakest monthly tweet round-up

If you’re mentally craving great 8days2Amish tweets, I recommend you skip the following and go straight to this. I often feel it’s been a month of poor quality only to be surprised to find dozens of witty bits worthy of your attention.

Not this month. My mind’s been on so many other things and the cerebral silliness necessary for me to conjure bright tweets has been absent. It’s a pity, too. I’m sure had I been focused, I could have dashed off a bunch about our rollicking political situation.

Alas, it was not to be. I sheepishly confess to including re-runs in this round-up — please don’t tell Twitter. They might revoke my license to tweet.

I feel like I owe the internet an apology.

But I think the blog is back on its feet and that’s essential.

Glad to have this summer behind me and am looking forward to a fun and productive Fall.

Thanks to all of you for checking out my stuff. Have a great day!

• Maybe the Rapture already occurred and God determined there were only like five or six Christians worthy of saving.

• News reports say Usain Bolt took 10 horny babes with him to his hotel room. If I was alone in a room with 10 babes I'd be the fastest man.

• Sometime when I'm pumping gas and feeling naughty I remove my credit card really, really slowly. Just to stick it to The Man. 

• Because I'm an apostle of gross excess, I propose we have #Olympics once each year by adding Fall/Spring Olympics

• It’s hot out. We crank the AC. Cranking AC contributes to global warming so it gets more hot out. So we crank up the AC. Together we dance merrily to our dooms.

• I’d like to be a fly on the wall when flies on the wall discuss their bafflement over why any human would ever want to be a fly on the wall.

• What does this underemployed blogger say about #Amazon and its 30-hour workweek? You're getting warmer!

• New DeNiro #HandsOfStone movie has me thinking of starting an '80s tribute band called Roberto Duran Duran.

• Most people disagree with marketers who say breakfast is most important meal. We agree with dogs. Most important meal is next meal.

• It is my understanding in heaven we'll see only those we truly love. So it is my belief heaven must have a lot of tall walls.

• News Russian hackers targeting NYTimes & other media elites can only mean one thing: time to build a wall around !

• This may sound naive, but I have to think a brain-eating amoeba would be one of the world's most intelligent organisms.

• “Price is Right!” contestants represent a great cross section of America if all America were comprised of insane extroverts.

• Ryan Lochte would get off easy if judged by a jury of pee'ers. Situation still fluid.  

• Does beating the second winningest Olympic country by 51 medals mean we've made America great again? 

• Imagine how bad bowling shoes would stink if every human foot really did have five li'l piggies.

• Trump? Nope. Clinton? Nah. Just because I'd love to hear him give speeches, I'm voting for the Arby's voiceover guy! 

• I’m convinced the future will be dominated by those who in a confusing world retain the ability concentrate ... where was I? 

• I realize it's a waste of time, but in a world yearning for clarity I faithfully check twitter in the hopes I'll one day see @DickCheney

• Build that wall! But make sure Lyin' Ryan is on the southern side of it.

• I’m thinking of conducting a comprehensive study on marketing breath mints and calling it, "The Tactics of Tic Tacs.”

• Being a world class juggler takes real balls. Or clubs, pins, etc.

• News that Trump is telling PA supporters to monitor polls has me thinking of voting multiple times. But telling thugs I'm voting Trump

• I’m so busy I dream of working in a spice factory so I could have access to a thyme machine.

• Equine proctologists would never dream of looking a gift horse in the mouth.

• How did a nation renown for topless beaches end up with a name that includes BRA as its dominant syllable?

• I think solar plexus is some exciting new kind of renewable energy, but something in my gut tells me I'm wrong.

Related …

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Kaepernick, Omaha! & why NFL needs teams to perform national anthem talent shows

My most exasperating gift is an uncanny ability to earn vast sums of money for those who don’t need it while simultaneously earning squat for myself.

Sadly, the most frequent recipient of this mental largess is, alas, the greedmeister billionaires who run the NFL. I’m always coming up with ways to improve our most popular, yet flawed game.

One example they adopted last year: Throw-forward jerseys.

And, oh, yeah, we’re getting to Colin Kaepernick. 

I came up with throw-forward jerseys after being sickened by the sight of my Pittsburgh Steelers twice each year having to wear hideous throw-back jerseys. I said several years ago that they ought to begin selling equally hideous futuristic jersey.

And what happened last year?

Ta! Da! The gave us special “Color Rush” jerseys. They were flashy. They were daring.

They were unwatchable. 

One game between the New York Jets and the Buffalo Bills saw its ratings progressively tank because team jerseys were indistinguishable to colorblind viewers.

Of course, that didn’t matter. What mattered was they sold a lot of jerseys.

This year’s Brainstorm #1 stems from the retirement of Peyton Manning, who is now on TV more than when he actually played.

He’s a shoo-in for the NFL Hall of Fame in 2021. What’s equally obvious is he’ll include “Omaha!” in his induction speech.

“Omaha!” was the word he used to alert teammates he’d be changing the play. It’s now part of football lexicon. Anywhere people gather to play or jaw about football someone is bound to shout, “Omaha!”

My idea is for the NFL to sell sponsorship rights to the next key word for the 2016 season. And it is brand specific.

The word is “Pizza!”

See where this is going?

A quarterback would approach the line of scrimmage, survey the defense and begin shouting his gibberish, something like: “Red-24! Red-24! Blue-19!”

Then comes the Omaha-replacing sponsorship:

“Pizza! Pizza! Hut! Hut!”

Americans by the millions would dutifully pause the action and like robots dial Pizza Hut to order an 8-foot belly-buster with pepperoni and sausage.

Pure genius, I tell you.

One man no one will hear yelling “Pizza Hut!” this year is Colin Kaepernick. He’s done what neither Trump nor Clinton ever could: He’s united the country.

By disrespectfully sitting through the National Anthem, he’s angered everyone.

And I love it.

Not his protest, which seems feckless. I just love anyone who makes the NFL squirm.

Remember, just last year it was revealed the greedy bastards were charging the Department of Defense $5.4 million for staging those heart-tugging halftime reunions between returning soldiers and their families.

It was pure gall.

They’ve behaved in the same craven manner over domestic violence, breast cancer and — ha! — responsible drinking.

So I hope Kaepernick keeps them twisting until they drum him out of the league.

Then I hope someone with more subtle thinking than Kaepernick picks up the torch for a cause that deserves attention, yes, even during a football game.

That brings me to Brainstorm #2:
Make both teams compete to see who can perform a better national anthem with the winner getting the ball first. The talent show would replace the coin toss. Fans all over could vote.

Kaepernick’s folly obscures the fact that the national anthem at football games is a joke. Hockey fans (not players) really sing it and it’s beautiful.

No one sings it at NFL games, especially the players, who stand there mute or scratching themselves. They set a terrible example.

Having teams perform the national anthem would help the league appeal to the demographic that enjoys “America’s Got Talent!” 

Rehearsal could be a part of every practice. Why isn’t it already?

Each team would be given two minutes to sing the anthem and could include a patriotic skit.

Most wins could be included in the complicated tie breaker system to determine playoff eligibility.

That’s enough genius for now. Time to eat.

Care to guess what’s for lunch?

That’s right.

Pizza! Hut! Hut Hut!

Related …

Monday, August 29, 2016

The giant Trump who ate Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood

Seventy days before election day and Donald Trump is already bringing jobs to western Pennsylvania!

They hired a security dude to make sure nobody vandalizes the 20-foot likeness of him at what is known as the Trump House right here in Youngstown, Pa. 

It’s a wee bit late. Somebody last week drilled a BB about a foot from the smiling Trump crotch, what I imagine was the intended bullseye.

The unassuming two-story house became Trump House in April when property owner Leslie Rossi, who might be a more avid Trump supporter than even Melania, had the structure painted to resemble the American flag.

I liked it. Who wouldn’t? 

I mean besides Colin Kaepernick.

But the giant Trump is controversial, as is Leslie, with whom I am casual Facebook friends.

She is, of course, beloved by Trump supporters here and from coast-to-coast. She and her creation have been featured by CNN and in The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, among numerous other media. And the house is a full-fledged tourist attraction with people from all over stopping to meet Leslie and pose for pictures.

Her father-in-law founded Westmoreland Mechanical Testing & Research right here in town. They’re an international colossus hailed for their superior results in testing cutting edge technology used in the aerospace, automotive, nuclear and medical industries. They’re a big deal.

And the family is renown for their generosity. There’s a reason the still-new $9 million Greater Latrobe High School athletic complex is named Rossi Field.

But Leslie’s effective because in addition to a lot of money, she also has a lot of moxie. She gets things done.

I’m now reminded of that about three or four times each and every day when I drive by the Trump House.

Friends of mine who have a hunch as to my political leanings — go ahead, take a wild guess — ask if I find daily seeing the giant Trump repellent.

Not at all, I say. In fact, I much prefer it to the naked Trump statue the subversives have been inflicting on unsuspecting cities.

But more and more I find myself wishing if we had to have an outsider reality TV host run for president, why couldn’t it have been Jeff Probst?

Or maybe the late Fred Rogers.

It’s a supreme irony that Trump has taken over Youngstown, the tiny village that gave the world both Rogers and Arnold Palmer, two men renown for decency, tolerance and a soulful warmth so bubbly they seem carbonated.

It’s interesting, too, that one of the few yards in town that doesn’t have big Trump signs out front is the one that belongs to the only man in town who actually knows Trump personally.

That’d be Palmer. Trump’s been to Youngstown several times to golf and express his admiration for Palmer. But if Palmer, a long-time GOP stalwart who in the ’60s was urged to run for the office Trump now seeks, is supporting Trump he’s keeping it to himself.

I’m nostalgic for the days when I didn’t know your politics and you didn’t know mine.

Seems quaint, doesn’t it?

For the record: I’ve for years told anyone who wonders that Ken Starr and the Clinton impeachment trial turned me from a moderate into a knee-jerk liberal whose knee jerks most liberally whenever it’s in the vicinity of a conservative’s crotch.

But the rise of Trump has convinced me I’m not a liberal after all.

In fact, I now claim membership in a group that likely would rather not associate with one as uncouth as I.

I am an elitist.

I believe in manners, education, history, tolerance and having chummy foreign allies in good times and bad. I believe in diversity, diplomacy, optimism, compassion and extending the benefit of the doubt to those with whom I disagree. I believe in civility and that a real man’s hair should be composed entirely of real hair.

And because I believe most Americans believe like I do, I believe we’re about to witness an historic landslide in 70 days.

I will say this in Trump’s favor as someone who sees so for himself up close at least once a day: Trump’s hands are truly huge, the size of cafeteria toasters.

I only wish his humanity were as big as his hands.

Related …

Saturday, August 27, 2016

The summer I ran away with the carnival (from '13)

We were in the midst of the gaudy sensory overload known as the Westmoreland County Fair when my wife surprised me with a career suggestion.

She thinks I should write a book about the summer I ran away with the carnival.

I was surprised for two reasons: One, her career suggestion didn’t involve me giving up writing entirely to become a plumber; and two, I’d never really thought of it.

I guess because it seems too cliche.

How many self-involved books have there been about writers who’ve foolishly run off to chronicle war, the latest fad diet, or the loss of their precious virginity?

I’ve kind of hoped the summer of ’83 would just be one chapter in the great, big book, but not the whole book.

But, man, what a chapter.

It was all just so lurid.

And fun!

We were juniors at Ohio University. My buddy Doug had a speedball game and an entrepreneurial bent. Growing up in Athens, his family had been a fixture at the annual county fair where he’d set up the speedball game and give the local hicks a chance to throw three pitches for a buck: guess the speed of your third pitch and win a crappy 25-cent batting helmet.

And that’s basic carny economics, patently unfair yet mutually acceptable.

His experience had given him an idyllic view of the fair circuit, because that was part of the pitch he used to entice me into joining him in what wound up being a four-state swing through the upper Midwest.

He told me it was a cinch the carnivals would be filled to lots of pretty young co-eds.

That may have been the case with some bucolic carnivals, but not the ones with whom we trucked.

Our carnival was populated entirely by junkies, sexual deviates, ex-cons, and Ohio University Bobcats -- that was me and Doug and Bob.

Bob is a footnote in the story. He started out with us hoping to make his fortune selling soft pretzels. Understand, this was long before the era of the deep-fried Twinkie so don’t hold his lack of imagination against him.

He lasted just two weeks.

True story: he became a congressional aide for an ultra-conservative Ohio U.S. representative and today works closely with Ohio Gov. John Kasich administration.

Me, I stuck it out and today am delighted anytime I get a chance to shoot the bull with any junkies, sexual deviates, ex-cons or ol’ Bobcats.

There’s plenty of evidence to dispute the contention, but I think I, the underemployed blogger, turned out the better of the two.

There’s a lot of tedium involved in traveling from town to town with a gypsy carnival.

The fairs and festivals didn’t really get busting until about 6 p.m., about six hours after most of them opened.

So Doug and I would take turns sitting there baking in the sun. If I took any life skill away from that summer it is that I became an adept juggler. Doug, too.

Think about it. You’re sitting on a box with nothing to do for about 30 hours a week. You’re surrounded by baseballs. Learning to juggle was the only sensible thing to do.

That and read, of course. In fact, I believe I’m the only carny in history to have read “War and Peace” in the shadow of the Tilt-A-Whirl. My buddy back home was about to leave for the Navy and told my mother to tell me he was reading Tolstoy.

I, of course, figured he meant “War and Peace.” I was wrong. He’d read “Anna Karenina.” So I read the 1,440-page “War and Peace” by mistake.


And I learned to be a pretty slick talker. You had to.

Every town had a hotshot pitcher who believed he could throw 100 mph. And maybe he could. Just not while drunk in tight jeans and cowboy boots. 

It happened about once a night. They’d get right in your face and scream that the game was fixed. They didn’t care about winning the cheapo batting helmet. They just wanted the big number to impress all the hometown on-lookers.

You’d need to make a snap judgement over whether the best way to proceed was to either calm them down with logic or respond with bombastic ridicule. Guess wrong and they’d want to kill you.

I’d scream at Doug at least once a week to re-calibrate the damn radar gun so it would show that even 8-year-old girls could out-fastball Nolan Ryan, but he’d refuse.

He, too, became a conservative, albeit a warm and cheerful one.

The best part was after the shows closed. Doug and I would take our fake IDs and run to a local liquor store to score beer and booze for all-night parties behind the fun house ride we wound up calling the Wicked Witch Saloon.

And the carnies all were welcome and all would come.

We heard everything about their lives: Who was divorced, addicted, on the run, on parole and who they’d kill if only they could.

And when we were good and drunk we’d all turn loose out on the midway. I remember riding the giant sliding board -- wheee! -- at about 4 in the morning with Randall, who’d just gotten out from the Illinois state pen for a 10-year manslaughter stretch he got for killing his boss. He swore it was an accident.

I can’t believe we made it through the whole summer without anyone trying to rob or kill us, especially Doug, the pretty one.

And then there were the girls. I told Val there were just two.

I’m coy, of course, out of respect for her feelings. She suspects there were more and -- hallelujah -- she is right.

But really there weren’t that many. Carnies, even ones who can boast they’ll soon be successful newspaper men who’ve read Leo Tolstoy, bear an indelible stigma.

It was a difficult pedigree for available young single women to overcome. As for those who managed, well, bless their hearts.

So maybe one day I will write a book. It’s a dear and rich part of my past.

Today, you’ll just have to settle for a blog.

And that there’s just one more example of carny economics.

Related . . .