Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Twick 'r Tweet: My best from last two months

I was nervous yesterday about posting the one about Bob Nutting and the Pirates — it’s fourth from the bottom here — being partially to blame for the unspeakable weekend violence. But -- damn the torpedoes -- I posted it anyway just because I thought it was damn funny. I apologize if anyone thought the timing was poor. But with so much random violence happening everyday I don’t believe anyone should ever postpone any opportunity to laugh, love or even in jest bash Bob Nutting.

• It’s entirely possible to kick a squirrel in his nuts and hurt only his feelings. Hers, too.

• Reading the NY Times is to me like reading the Bible only if the Bible had baseball scores.

• I used to think I had a brain but it was all in my head.

• Donald Trump has 54 million Twitter follwers. Barack Obama, 102 million. How many times each week do you think the president asks John Kelly when the Electoral College will weigh in?

• If John McCain is as meticulous about posthumous details as we've heard, I hope he's hired security to monitor his grave to prevent President Trump from sneaking in to piss all over it because that's the kind of guy he is. I'm being totally serious

• Woke up this morning furious to realize that while both the guitar and the sitar are wood-based fretted instruments whose names rhyme, the guitar is spelled with an utterly superfluous "u." I'll get over it but, man. C'mon!

• Greater Latrobe open house last night. Val & I delighted to meet so many great educators. Me, I was bemused to see how parents back in HS revert back to their HS roles. Jocks! Burn-outs! Dweebs! I was unfazed. Why? I'm still one of the cool kids!

• Squads of real reporters are right now working on stories that will relate  how Hurricane Flo will alter mid-term voting outcomes in affected states. This will be important because it'll help you decide which conspiracy theory about government hurricane creation you're apt to believe.

• The potent relevance of the #MeToo movement will begin to peter out the day the perfected sex robots begin assuming positions among the work force.

• For the sake of sweet, tuneful nostalgia I'd just once like to tune into The Weather Channel and hear a forecast of "Clouds in my Coffee, Clouds in my Coffee.”

• I judge all immigrants on how their culinary customs will either excite or bore my palette. So I welcome caravans of Mexicans and simultaneously hope Trump will propose building a big beautiful wall between us and, yuck, Great Britain! Yes, give me your burritos, your tacos, your enchiladas, your spatula-weilding masses …

• A friendly editor was reviewing my self-published books and asked if they were done on shoestring budgets. I told him no. They were done on loafer budgets. What freelance writer can afford shoestrings?

• I dreamt last night I spent an hour talking to Mick Jagger about songwriting. When I was done conveying to him my insights about the craft he told me he was going to write a song about me. I asked what he was going to call it, "Bitch 2," he said.

• Paleontologists dedicate themselves to working with dinosaur bones. Paleontologist is a difficult word to spell. Does anyone suppose paleontologists would object if we all started calling them boners?

• Some words have too many meanings. Like volume (a collection, bulk, strength); or record (recall, an album, etc.) & I'm not touching cock.

• I’m intent on volunteering for the Peace Corps in the hopes they’ll assign me to do hydro-electric work in third-world countries so one day I can say with concrete justification I once really gave a dam.

• Not saying local volunteer fire fighters join for purely social aspects, but it is suspicious the town whore house catches fire every Friday at 8 p.m.

• Ants eat sticks, dirt, decomposing bodies and even poop. My question: Which of their six arms do they use to comfort themselves when they get a tummy ache?

• Now is the time of year when we ardent baseball fans begin bragging to other baseball fans how we were able to stay awake for an entire baseball game. 

• I sometimes wonder if I'd be a different kind of father to a son than I am to daughters. Would I be as curious about their daily lives? I think I would, but I think with a son my questions would be more along the lines of, "So when are you going to shave that stupid beard?”

• Style tip you've likely never considered: Choose what you're going to wear each morning with the idea the zombie apocalypse might occur that day and people/zombies will see you in that garb until Rick Grimes drives a Bowie knife through your skull.

• Last week roughly 325 million Americans became angry experts on something that happened 36 years ago behind closed doors involving -- at most -- 3 teenagers. What do you think will infuriate you this week about which you know absolutely nothing?

• I’m always amazed to see locks on the lobster tank at the local grocery store. Show me the shoplifter who's fierce enough to shove a live lobster down his or her pants.

• What do you do when you're feeling overwhelmed by the billions of websites tended by hucksters, conspiracy theorists & the shady purveyors of bite-sized bull? Try this. The internet distilled to its absolute purity. It's a website on web sites.

• I thought about taking my watch apart to count all the pieces, but just don't have the time to kill.

• My way to really stick it to the publishing industry. I'm calling my next work, "The Big Hands-On Book of Glues & Other Adhesives," so every review will have to include the words, "Could Not Put it Down!”

• I hope I never need the info, but because you just never know: what do you yell when you see a tall duck about to hit his head on a low branch and how badly confused would the hapless fowl be if you yelled, “Duck!"

• I like to try and win arguments by pointing out that there's no way I could be wrong because I saw it on the internet. People usually laugh too hard to continue their antagonisms.

• Dreamt I was involved in an immoral activity with a prominent female. Her lawyers offered a large sum of money to avoid a scandal. Dream me refused. Dream me has more character than wide-awake me.

• It’s difficult to believe, but there will come a day when the name Trump will not appear in any headline anywhere. It may be Tuesday and it may be because the world is destroyed, but it will happen. What can I say? I'm an optimist!

• Anyone who believes the Biblical fairytale that the meek shall inherit the Earth has never bothered to read the most recent GOP tax proposal.

• I enjoy watching movies about people who would never dream of watching movies. I enjoy watching #CaptainFantastic

• On way to Greater Latrobe Senior High to address aspiring writers wondering how much time the kid I used to be would spend mocking the man he's bound to become.

• Watching far right conservatives argue with far left liberals about the direction of the country is like watching the Old Testament argue with the New Testament about the direction of the Bible.

• The Rolling Stones today have more greatest hits albums (14) than most bands have great hits.

• How would today's profiles differ if men today resumed judging women on how good they'd be around a cow?

• I hope my life extends into an enlightened age where donors are so wise, so giving, that worthy non-profits become profits.

• I hate to be one of those guys who blames Bob Nutting for everything, but I can't help but believe if the Pittsburgh Pirates had been leading the World Series 2 games to 1 on Saturday nobody in Pittsburgh would have felt like killing anybody.  

• I wouldn't want to be involved in anything that would cause pain in others or certainly myself but I'd just once like to be part of a brave mission where our leader said, "Gentlemen, we now must synchronize our watches." I wonder if bowlers ever synchronize their watches.

• It’s unfathomable to imagine how much better off the world would be if every time we felt moved by a good intention we acted on it.

• I’d never dare google it, but from what I know about internet content and priorities, I can pretty much guarantee there's at least one long, stiff penis-shaped instrument designed to assist men who have difficulty putting on footware and it's called "Shoe Horney!”

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Monday, October 29, 2018

It's mourning again in America

I was on the verge of posting something I thought was funny this weekend when I wondered about the tastefulness of trying to provoke laughter when so many of my Pittsburgh friends are bereft.

I asked my friend John. He advised me to wait until at least Tuesday before resuming any on-line silliness. “Any sooner than that,” he said, “and you risk looking like a callous jerk.”

I’d hate for even one person to consider me either — and I beg your pardon for appropriating the use of the word hate on a weekend when hate was so emphatically defined.

So in deference to the dead and grieving, I’ll not post any jokes until around noon Tuesday. But if proper mourning time were the issue none of us would ever laugh again. 

Sadly, it seems like it’s always mourning in America.

I’ve been mourning hate-crime victims since as long as I’ve been alive.

My mourning for The Tree of Life slaughter won’t lap the evergreen mourning I feel for the nine murdered worshippers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston. A godforsaken white supremacist in 2015 murdered them right there in the pews.

And I’ve never seen a single white supremacist that made me, a fellow white, ever feel the least bit supreme.

I’ve been mourning the senseless death of Matthew Shepard for 20 years. Remember him? He was murdered in 1998 by two Wyoming hoodlums who hated him for being gay. His funeral was protested by aberrant church members for whom “God Hates Fags” held more scriptural relevance than “Love Thy Neighbor.”

Shepard was in the news this week. After 20 years without a final resting place, his mortal remains finally found a home in the National Cathedral in Washington DC. His parents said they rejected traditional burial in the hometown cemetery for fear it would attract homophobic vandals whose hatreds extend to beyond the grave.

It would be different if there was any rational evidence that hate crimes modified behavior. But the result of hate crimes always seems to be a strengthening of the identity of those who are victimized simply for being born themselves.

I’ll never understand how one man who disagrees with the things millions and millions of others believe thinks he can change even one mind by killing maybe a dozen or so of us.

For instance, I’m unaware of any mass of homosexuals who decided to become less gay after the Matthew Shepard murder.

Elton John wrote “American Triangle,” an achingly poignant 2001 song about the murder, and in 2009 Shephard became a namesake inspiration for federal hate crime legislation, and gay marriage is now the law of the land.

The two men who killed him? Both were in their early 20s at the time of the murder and have been serving life without parole ever since. 

I wonder what they hate about prison.

Certainly no hate crime has ever led people to become less Black or less Jewish.

Good-hearted and tolerant people will always rally around the persecuted. That’s what happened in Pittsburgh Sunday as 2,000 mourners gathered in the rain to show soulful solidarity.

It’s happened throughout history. 

Christianity didn’t really take off until after its leader was killed in a hate crime that resulted in the forgiveness of all the people who commit hate crimes.

You may have heard of him.

He was some Jew.

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Friday, October 26, 2018

I'm now hosting Tin Lizzy holiday book luncheons

One of my favorite things about working at the Tin Lizzy is pretending I own the Tin Lizzy.

This usually happens when Buck, the actual owner since 1980, is conducting bar business with some unsuspecting vendor, inspector or job applicant in one of the many unoccupied second or third floor rooms within earshot of my office.

I storm into the conversation and begin profanely berating Buck in front of the startled visitor.

“Are you pretending you’re the owner again? I told you if you keep this up I was going to fire your ass. Get back there and finish scrubbing those toilets. Now!”

I then turn to the now bewildered stranger and say, “I’m sorry about this. I’m Buck. I own the place. What can I do for you?”

Now, they don’t know what to think. They look at Buck and they look at me.

My deft lies are perfectly plausible. Unlike Buck, I’m the one who has an actual office in the building. And since I’ve been doing so many book signings and speaking engagements I often dress up. They look at me and see a man in a snazzy sports coat, nice shoes, sometimes a neck tie. I resemble a prosperous businessman, the kind of gent you’d expect to run an historic tavern/restaurant.

Then they look at Buck, an outdoorsman who enjoys spending days in the woods. They see a man who looks like he could spring off his bar stool at any minute and  either gut a deer or make a toilet sparkle.

I don’t know what I enjoy more, the bewildered look on the stranger’s face or the blank one on Buck’s that leads me to believe he’s either playing along or secretly plotting to murder me and make it look like an accident.

So I have a lot of fun here. And now you’re invited to join me.

Management — the real deal — has said I’m welcome to host holiday luncheon or dinner parties in the second floor banquet room. No charge.

The last month convinced me there’s enough of a demand to reach out to groups who’d like to come see the Tin Lizzy, dine off the regular menu, and be entertained by my Arnold Palmer stories and the swashbuckling tales of my years as a seat-of-the-pants freelance writer.

I tell the story about the day National Enquirer asked me to wear a kilt around Latrobe, too, so that seat-of-the-pants bit is purely metaphorical.

Presumptuous of me? Perhaps.

But I just wrapped up my busiest month ever — 12 libraries, two banquet halls, a senior center and the hometown high school — and was ecstatic by the reaction. At every venue people have come up and said how much they enjoyed my talk and how they’d wished friends of theirs could have made it. Many have asked if they could come to the Tin Lizzy.

Yesterday I spoke to seniors ranging in age from 18 to 95. In the morning it was high school writers and in the afternoon it was senior residents at Redstone Highlands.

How’d it go? Kids were stopping my daughter in the high school hallways to say my stories cracked them up.

The more experienced seniors? The organizer said she wants me back in two weeks.

I think I’m hitting my stride. 

So consider this your invitation. Any group of 5 to 18 can make arrangements through me — 724 961-2558; — and we will set a date. Food and drink can be ordered off the menu at menu prices. My signed books will be available at cover prices. No speaker fees, no mark-ups, no gouging.

You can get a good meal, enjoy some conversation, support a local business (and its parasitic local author) and get a jolt of holiday cheer. And you can see a landmark local building with historic roots.

You might even see Buck!

What do I get out of it? I’ll make some new friends, sell some books and enjoy a cheerful little siesta. Mostly, I get a now-familiar euphoric feeling that comes from making people laugh. They cheer, they clap, they buy my books and they tell me I’m great.

It’s wonderful.

And when that happens, I look around the room and feel something deeply satisfying. I’ve done something special.

I feel like you own the place.

And, believe me, I know the feeling

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Thumb's down "First Man" movie review (w/ some spoilers)

The pressure was too enormous to be contained. The once-ignited gaseous elements demanded release. Lift-off would be achieved.

3 … 2 … 1 …

I’d just endured 138 minutes of “First Man.” I enjoyed the movie, and would have enjoyed it more had I not made the ill-considered decision to consume a heaping plate of refried beans at Don Patron’s just prior to show time. 

Blast off!

It wasn’t the faux pas you might imagine. In space no one can hear you fart. 

Same goes for the distant rear stall in the men’s room at Latrobe 30 Theater & Cafe.

I’m not saying the movie was a stinker. 

Not at all. It’s just that Neil Armstrong, who died in 2012 at age 82, was our most boring American hero. The Wapakoneta, Ohio, native didn’t drink, didn’t brawl. His idea of cutting loose was snacking on a Twinkie.

He was a true straight arrow.

I prefer my arrows a bit bent. Give me Benjamin Franklin, peerless pilot Chuck Yeager, fighter ace and baseball legend Ted Williams. These men had swagger. They were swashbucklers.

Armstrong was a buckle that had never been swashed.

Even his signature line — “One small step for man; one giant leap for mankind” — seems like it hales from the horse-and-buggy era. Had it happened today I’m certain a lucrative endorsement deal would have been pre-arranged and the celestial salute would be something like, “Boy, this would be the perfect time for an ice cold Coke!”

A Blawnox friend — hello Greg! — said I was being shortsighted, always a possibility when the climatic scene takes place 238,912 miles from the planet earth.

He said NASA engineers had to re-fit the seats of the astronauts to accommodate the enormous testicles of men like Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. I get that.

But the earthbound half of the film hints that part of Armstrong’s motivation for being an astronaut was to escape the tedium of routine family life. I know lots of beleaguered spouses who say they need a little space, but c’mon! 

The film is visually fantastic, but even parts of that struck me as redundant.

Take the dramatic lift-off sequences. They showed sparks, fire, choking smoke and fervent prayers the vehicular occupants would survive.

Sounds to me like my near weekly efforts to accelerate my 2007 Saturn Vue up the Pennsylvania turnpike on-ramp at at the Irwin interchange. And I’m not making that Saturn part up just so it fits with today’s space theme. I really do drive a Saturn.

So, yes, it’s a good movie. 

But I’ll wager the better, more entertaining film will be “Bohemian Rhapsody,” out November 2.

It’s about a truly dynamic earthling who overcame great odds to achieve what even us gravity slaves refer to as stardom.

But what else would you expect from a movie based on a guy named Mercury?  

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