I was sipping suds last week with a friendly roofer who in the course of our conversation told me the single most horrific sting story I’ve ever heard. He was nailing a tarp to an old lady’s roof when his hammer nearly nailed a wasp. He missed, but the wasp wasn’t relieved at the narrow escape. No, it was pissed. It reacted like the Randy Quaid fight pilot character in “Independence Day.” In its impulsive rage, it decided to turn kamikaze. It flew straight up his nose. Once embedded deep in the roofer’s booger barn, it stung. “The pain was excruciating,” he said. “My whole body immediately began to swell.” Lucky for him, he was on the roof of a quick-thinking old lady. She didn’t wait for an ambulance. She drove him to the ER herself and even had the foresight to immediately load him up with Benadryl. Docs said she saved his life. Had I been blogging like I used to, I’d have written 1,000 lavish words on his story and concluded by saying the only way the story could have been more gruesomely compelling was if the wasp had flown straight up his penis.
• Only 49 days till PyeongChang Winter Olympics! I love everything about the games and hope the Korean peninsula is still inhabitable come Feb. 9.
• Val and I staged a holiday intervention for our 11-year-old earlier this month. Fearing 6th grade meanies might tease her about her darling innocence over the existence of Santa, we exposed the fraud. We told her Santa wasn’t real, that it was all a fairytale, all make-believe. Then we took her to church and instructed her to worship God in heaven.
• Something very odd happened with the blog this week; it became a global phenomenon — at least readership-wise. In nine years of blogging on average 17 times a month, I only four times reached more than 10,000 readers in one month. My stats page says I’ve already this month reached more than 30,000 — and that’s in just the last two days. Thousands of readers from around the world with France, Belgium, the Philippines and Kuwait leading the way began binge-reading like it was the night before finals. I’d seen lesser bursts from individual countries, but never anything this widespread and sustained. Of course, it being my blog, 30,000 new readers earns me as much as if it were zero and things have already returned to normal. But I’m struck by the realization that the less I write the more impactful I become. That’s a dangerous lesson for a man already prone to laziness.
• I’ve been bee/wasp stung on my back, thigh, forearm, neck and once on the tip of my left pinky, which hurt the worst and led to a painful aftermath. I didn’t tell my roofer friend about the pinky sting.
• This random item post is being composed to the sound of “Brothers in Arms” by Dire Straits from 1985. Mark Knopfler’s band’s just been voted into the Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame. I just love Dire Straits and if forced to be picky I’d take Knopfler’s nine solo recordings since ’96 with me if someone decided to maroon me on Mars. It’s the kind of argument that ought to be settled in a bar with a great jukebox, but I contend are two greatest living artists are Knopfler and Van Morrison.
• Contender for most controversial tweet of the month: “Conservative whites livid when wished Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas think blacks overreacting about unarmed blacks getting killed by conservative whites.” A newish Facebook friend wrote: “Well, Chris, I discovered you a year or so ago, and enjoyed your wit. Learned over time you are leftist in your thinking. But this post goes too far. Goodbye.” I said goodbye, good luck and wished her a Merry Christmas.
• We’ve reached a point in our national political discourse where it’s impossible to argue with people with whom you disagree and you risk infuriating those with whom you do, in fact, agree if you do not agree loudly enough.
• The teen angst flick “Lady Bird” — it’s not about Mrs. LBJ — is on every top critic must-see Top 10 list I’ve seen. It will not be on mine. It’s another reminder of how if you want to succeed in the American arts today, your best route is pandering to the crowds eager to patronize boring mope-fests with murky endings. Looking for some feel-good entertainment? Skip “Lady Bird” and see “Coco.”
• To be clear, my habit is to wish everyone the omnibus “Happy Holidays!” I do this because it covers all the holiday bases. And just to be safe, I avoid shooting any unarmed blacks.
• So Todd Palin told police he needed his gun to protect his family and was going to achieve this by shooting one of ‘em?
• Movies I’m interested in seeing include: “The Shape of Water,” "Molly's Game," “The Greatest Showman,” and especially “Darkest Hour.”
• Once again, our holiday highlight included a visit to the Jimmy Stewart Museum in the star’s Indiana, Pa., hometown. The visit includes a free screening in the cozy theater of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” I wrote in ’15 how seeing this movie should be a national obligation.
• Thanks to one and all who came to the memorial service for our dear Mom last Saturday, three days before what would have been her 85th birthday. Most moving part was what I called my trifecta of love: My wife playing piano accompaniment for Josie singing “Supermarket Flowers” in honor of her Nana. There’s a video link on my Facebook page. I spoke for about three minutes and feel deserving of credit for not turning the eulogy of my mother into a bombastic sales promotion for “Use All The Crayons!”
• Funny thing about near-death experiences. As the roofer told me how he was nearly destroyed by the wasp that flew up his nose, we were both roaring with laughter over the near-fatality. Just goes to show you, what doesn’t kill you can only make for a really great bar story.
• Merry Holidays!
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