Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Hooray! It's Tweets of the Month time!

I have 1,605 Twitter followers @8days2Amish, but follow just 137. Many on Twitter have tens of thousands of followers simply by promising to follow back anyone who follows them. That’s not how I roll. I only follow all the very nicest people — for just as long as they continue to follow me.

And I’ll bet that smug, snarky remark is gonna cost me another dozen followers by the end of the day …

(Artsy vaguely Hitchcockian Brian Henry picture was taken in the Tin Lizzy dining room in 2015 just prior to when Rick and Lisa took over the kitchen. Great food! Check it out.)

• It's good to know your limits in life. It's better to high-five them as you sail right on past. 

• Yes, I'm aware that Sing Sing is a maximum security prison that incarcerates many of New York's most vicious cut throats, but every time I hear Sing Sing I convince myself that Sing Sing is populated entirely by wrongly convicted Muppets.

• The word "astute" means shrewd or mentally sharp. Had the people who coined a word that's pronounced ass-TOOT been shrewd or mentally sharp then astute would mean something entirely different.

• How did cavemen and women get around that whole no-doors thingie when they wanted to tell a good prehistoric knock-knock joke?

• My jokes must not be very funny. I told one to some linked steel and didn't get any chain reaction.

• My great fear is that within 10 days I'll see the headline that says: "Trump nukes Puerto Rico; base support holds firm; Cali guv. mulling evacuation.”

• Problem: plastics clogging the ocean; fish eat the plastics and we eat the fish. This may sound naive, but is anyone looking into the possibilities of making plastic out of fish food?

• The concept may sound difficult to grasp, but there once was a time before anyone, anywhere had ever pointed out there's a first time for everything.

• Spring is when Mother Nature puts on her make-up!

• Closing in on another Friday Happy Hour where I'll revel in another week where I -- one -- did not let national politics make me crazy and -- two -- skillfully avoided dropping my phone in the toilet. Alas, those are now my key benchmarks for success.

• The problem for many of us is that every time our careers seem to turn a real corner the first thing we see down the road is another real corner.

• Bad news: plastic waste clogging the oceans. Good news: Airfare to Europe will plummet as money-minded tourists increasingly opt to drive.

• It doesn’t happen often, but I’m not ungrateful when a man or woman hands me a breath mint. My fear is how I’ll react when one day some stranger trying to be helpful says, "Psst, try this.” And hands me a stick of Old Spice.

• What do they call earthquakes on other planets?

• I yearn to live in a time when the word "collusion" appears in headlines less frequently than the word “compromise."

• Little known fact: Prior to construction of the 859-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral, the Parisian location was the site of the first French McDonald’s.

• The phrase “You only live once!” is pure fraud. In fact, you only die once. You’re graced with the option to live every single day.

• I consider it yet another degradation of once-proud men, but I'm upset how what I once called "the family jewels" somehow became "my junk." From jewels to junk in three short decades. SAD!

• It’s a triumph of Biblical marketing that the day known for the cruel beating and bloody crucifixion of the holy man many of us consider to be our Savior is called "Good" Friday. I wonder what Jesus calls it.

• I don't teach my kids how to live. I live and let them watch (so far, so good). 

• My favorite part of the #NFLDraft is watching Roger Goodell excessively celebrate with players who he'll in just five months begin to fine for excessive celebrations.

• The assumption may be based on a flawed premise, but I have to believe if Moses had had to deal with fan selfie demands today we'd only be concerned with The Five Commandments.

• Agoraphobia is the fear of crowded places. I suffer from a-bore-aphobia, a fear of places crowded with dull people.

• Call me crazy, but the first chef to put a credible "Italian Hoagie Soup" on the menu is going to make a fortune.

• A Christian in New Zealand kills 50 because he hates Muslims; Muslims in Sri Lanka kill 250 because they hate Christians; zealots in Pittsburgh and San Diego storm synagogues 'cause they hate Jews. Oh, how I wish there was just one God we could ALL worship all together.

Related …

Friday, April 26, 2019

I'm in a forgiving mood

I don’t know whether it’s spring, fresh memories of holy Easter or my optimistic disposition, but I’m in a forgiving mood.

I forgive Michael Richards. Me and my sweetheart were watching him play “Cosmo Kramer” on his coffee table/coffee book tour for maybe the kajillionth time and it was as hilarious as it was the first time. He’s done so much to make me so happy so I forgive him for in 2006 calling a heckler the n-word. He’s withdrawn completely from performing and is said to still be haunted by the slip. It makes me sad that one rash moment has cast such a long, sorry shadow. Do you know he’ll be 70 in July? 70!

I forgive Kate Smith (1907-1986) for singing two tuneful ditties about “darkies” when she was a kid just trying to catch a break, as her defenders contend. And while I forgive her, I support the removal of her statue in Philly and the cessation of her taped recording at Yankee Stadium. Just because she’s a mere circumstantial racist doesn’t mean those sensitive to those meaningful issues should be taunted by the recollections.

I forgive you for pointing out how my first two acts of forgiveness involve me, a white man, exonerating two fellow white folks for offending millions of black ones.

I don’t forgive Tiger Woods. I thank him. Watching him win The Masters is something I’ll never forget. I love a great comeback. I don’t believe he needed my forgiveness for his cheating scandals. It’s none of my business and honestly there are many men who live vicariously through sex scandals like Tiger’s.

And I hope my wife is in a forgiving mood if she mistakenly believes I’m one of those sorts of scoundrels.

I forgive my darling daughter — and forgive me if the designation leads you to believe one daughter is more darling than the other — for saying I’m closed-minded. She wants me to, like the rest of this Marvel-mad nation,  go ga-ga for the “Avengers” movie. I just don’t like superhero movies. I tried sitting through my share and found them all tedious. I like stories about human beings being human. You know a movie I’m eager to watch again? “Nebraska” with Bruce Dern. I’d take that over any superhero film. So don’t bring it up again. My mind is made up. Hmmm … I guess my daughter is right. My mind is closed. Whoops!

Speaking of ga-ga, I forgive Lady Ga-Ga for wearing that stupid meat dress in 2010, and while we’re at it, I forgive Kanye West. I pay zero attention to him or his music, but I’m aware enough of him to be convinced he’s already today done something stupid that needs forgiving. So be it.

This one won’t be easy, but I forgive you, my friends, for insisting on putting your stupid political opinions on Facebook. It is utterly obnoxious. You’re losing friends every time you do it. So you’re forgiven, but cut it out! And please forgive me next time I fail to practice what I preach.

I don’t forgive O.J. Simpson nor any literary agents or publishers who so blithely promised they’d take steps to elevate my career then vanished. Now, I’m not equating a killer with professional promise breakers, but … but … Okay, I am. Killing someone’s dreams is pretty serious stuff.

I forgive David Chase for the finale of “The Sopranos,” Jim Leyland for October 14, 1992, Mick Jagger for “Primitive Cool,” “The Simpsons” for Poochie, and I forgive Pringles for getting so out-of-control with exotic flavors (Screamin’ Dill Pickle Pringles!) that it’s becoming near impossible to find Pringle-flavored Pringles.

You know who else I forgive? John Walker Lindh. Remember him? He was the “American Taliban” who in November 2001 was part of an Afghanistan prison uprising that led to the death of CIA officer Johnny “Mike” Spann, and more than 300 of the rioting enemy combatant prisoners. Lindh today is 38 and has spent nearly half his life in the Federal Corrections Institute in Terre Haute, Indiana. I’ve for the last few years believed he’d done enough time. Lo and behold, he’s being freed May 23. I feel neither elation nor fury, but hope he can use his experiences to positively influence other lost youth.

And what started light ends somber. I hope the abrupt shift hasn’t unsettled the serenity bestowed by true forgiveness, a graciousness we should all encourage.

If it has, I’m sorry.

Please forgive me.

Related …

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Radical Honesty & #MeToo in "No Judgement Zone"

I was at Planet Fitness — the ballyhooed “No Judgement Zone!” — the other morning when I broke three unwritten rules in 20 seconds, any one of which could have led to my banishment.

First, I made eye contact with a pretty girl. What I’m about to say will sound preposterous to any member of the Greatest Generation, but making eye contact with a pretty girl today is the danger equivalent to storming Omaha Beach.

These are fraught #MeToo times. If a pretty girl senses I’m engaged in what used to be called “reckless eyeballin,’” she could signal gym musclemen to give me a crippling wedgie from which I’d never recover..

Sure, given my current daintiness, most women — hell, most kittens — could do the job themselves, but beating the stuffing out of me might interfere with their routine so some outsourcing would be in order.

But I didn’t just stop with with the eye contact. Nope. I kept upping the ante.

I told this pretty girl she looked great — she did — then I put my arm around her and gave her a squeeze.

The only reason I’m not right now in jail is that the pretty girl is my own darling 18-year-old daughter and we’re still chummy enough to permit public displays of affection.

Clearly, I’ve made some foolhardy mistakes in my life, but that little gym interlude — it was a chance meeting — comforts me in knowing I did a bang-up job on the job that matters most.

And it’s an ever-loving pity that job we all agree matters the very most pays the very least.

Less than even blogging!

Maybe I was so jazzed because, truly, I fear what might ensue if a pretty woman suspected I might be engaged in any libidinous leering. 
It’s so odd to me because virtually all the men and women who go to gyms do so to make themselves more fit and thus appealing to the opposite sex (or the same sex for roughly 5 percent of the population).

But we’re becoming terrified of saying so.

I’m friends with an older author who when he sees an attractive woman, tells her, “I just wanted to tell you how beautiful you are. I sense you are careful about your appearance and I want you to know how much I appreciate it.”

And the women melt.

It’s very classy and evidence of how a charming turn of phrase can bamboozle even highly intelligent women because I know the guy to be a filthy letch, a real hound.

Me? Before I was married, I’d resort to subtle humor. I’d approach a pretty girl and with a face of utter sincerity say, “Was it as difficult for you being born beautiful … as it was for me?”

It never worked but it taught me this much about pretty women: Pretty women love to laugh. Hard.

I mention all this now because I fear we’re on the verge of a bitter backlash where people will — damn the torpedoes — say and do whatever the hell they feel like.

Call it Radical Honesty. It’s the bullshit brainchild of Dr. Brad Blanton, maybe the most obnoxious cocksucker I’ve ever met.

See? That’s my half-hearted attempts at Radical Honesty, a practice Blanton describes as “the best way to reduce stress, make life work, and heal the past.”

It’s also, he said, a beneficial technique in helping one get laid.

I remember him saying if he sees a girl with a great ass he tells her she has a great ass and proceeds to tell her how he intends to romance her. I remember his game plan involved very little traditional romance.

Indeed, Blanton was obnoxious, but I remember thinking he was on to something.

We’re all so afraid of offending we’ve become reluctant to even praise.

Is Radical Honesty the answer?

Hell no.

“Honesty without tact is like brain surgery without anesthesia. The operation could succeed, but the complications could kill.”

I wrote that line years ago and it still applies. 

I hope Blanton reads this and has an epiphany about how honesty tempered with tact could lead to improved well-being through enlightened communication.

I believe this can happen because I’m certain that Brad Blanton is a swell guy who at heart cares more about his fellow man than his penis. And we’d expect nothing less from a man as handsome, thoughtful and sweet-tempered as Blanton.

See, I believe saying nice things about people can have an aspirational effect.

I believe in Radical Dishonesty. 

Related …

Friday, April 19, 2019

Seeing Satan in the smoke & the story of Daryl, the forgotten 13th Apostle

The tragic incineration of Notre Dame Cathedral had the faithful around the world peering through the smoke to see the faces of hope and redemption.

Not me.

I studied the smoke to see if I spy the face of  — brace yourself —


It’s a habit I picked up through years of reading the Weekly World News. 

You can have “The Onion,” “Mad,” and other hipper sources of satire. To me, the funniest periodical ever printed was ‘the WWN. 

Sample headlines: “Scientists Reveal Saturn is a Giant UFO!” “Man’s 174-mph Sneeze Blows Wife’s Hair Off!” and “Sadam and Osama Adopt Shaved Baby Ape!”
They never skimped on the exclamation points. Never!!!

The News was the paper that provided some of the most comprehensive coverage of the life and death of Elvis Presley — in 2006. He was 71.

I started reading the WWN in college, never dreaming my “career” would lead to friendships with swashbuckling staffers. The Weekly World News was until it closed in 2007 a sister publication of National Enquirer. Their offices were separated by a simple partition.

So when I finished doing my wacky Enquirer stories during my visits, I’d stroll around the partition to revel in the preposterous. It was a storyteller’s paradise.

But it wasn’t all fun and games. When global tragedy struck, they were like other more sober news organizations in that they were ready to detail what happened and assign blame.

Unlike those prissy brethren they held nothing back when it found blame. And their quoted experts usually laid the blame at the hooved feet of …


Yes, any calamity inevitably led to a front page picture of smoking ruins with a sinister headline: “Face of Satan Seen in Smoke …”

Of course, being fair and balanced before there was a fair and balanced, they devoted ample coverage to Team God.

That’s how I learned about the existence of Daryl the 13th Apostle. I recently found a copy of the story in box of old keepers. Headline: “Christ’s Forgotten 13th Apostle Was an Idiot!”

The story says a maverick researcher learned that the Apostle named Daryl was an “obnoxious jerk” and a constant embarrassment to the Savior. Church fathers believed dopey Daryl detracted from the solemnity of the Bible and edited him out of the Gospels.

British historian Dr. Chad Norton-Chestwell is quoted as saying, “Daryl was rather like a drunken party guest who clowns around thinking he’s funny when he’s really just annoying.”

He said Daryl showed up drunk at the Sermon on the Mount and actually heckled Jesus, shouting things like “Borr-ing!”

He demolished the dignity of the occasion of Jesus’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem by mooning the crowd and telling Jesus, “How’s that for turning the other cheek?” Jesus had to stop His followers from beating Daryl senseless.

The story about how Jesus turned water into wine when the wedding party ran out? Take a wild guess why they ran out.

He couldn’t even keep his yap shut during Jesus’s miracles. When He brought back Lazarus from the dead Daryl pinched his nose and declared, “The man still stinketh.”

No realm was too sacred for Daryl to satirize. One time a chair Matthew was sitting in collapsed and Daryl said, “My Lord, you may be the Son of God, but you’re one lousy carpenter.”

“At the Last Supper, he started a food fight. The other 12 apostles constantly urged Christ to give Daryl the heave-ho, but Jesus being who He was, he could only forgive the idiot.”

Yet, at the crucifixion, it was Daryl alone whom He called to be at His side, Norton-Chestwell said, adding, “Daryl stayed at the foot of the cross, making light of the situation with pratfalls and one-liners, to keep the Lord’s spirits up.”

Now, I suspect some — just some — of the WWN’s stories were made up (“Baby Born with Wooden Leg!”). 

But I hope the story of Daryl the Forgotten Apostle is factual.

I like the idea of a Savior with whom you could sit and enjoy Leslie Nielsen in “Airplane!” and “Naked Gun” movies. 

Because some probably did see the face of Satan in the smoke above Notre Dame.

But if you look closely enough, you just might see the Face of God every time you see someone you love smiling back at you.

Related …

Monday, April 15, 2019

A reckoning for the inventor of styrofoam

Carl Georg Munters, the father of styrofoam, died on this day in 1989. News reports made no mention if his coffin was packed with form-fitting styrofoam to insulate his body on its journey to Hell.

The late Swede’s non-recyclable invention is the source of much environmental angst.

So is plastic, of course. But plastic — at least for now — gives responsible consumers the option to recycle. So all should be hunky-dory, right?

Apparently not.

That must mean responsible consumers are becoming like all the endangered species being killed off by all the irresponsible ones. There aren’t enough of us left to make much of a difference.

It puts me, a determined optimist, in an awkward position.

The pessimist says the oceans are choked with plastic. I say soon we’ll all be able to drive to Europe! Truly, Jesus walked on water and became the Savior. What will it mean when we’re all able to walk on water?

The pessimist says we’re on trajectory to cover the entire planet in styrofoam up to 20-feet deep. I say when that happens plane crash fatalities will drop to zero!

Did you know styrofoam is 98 percent air? That’s fascinating.

So if you’re ever in the middle of the ocean and find yourself beginning to drown, just reach out for a nearby chunk of styrofoam and begin to eat it. 

Of course, I’m being facetious. Thanks to so much plastic it’ll soon be impossible to drown in the ocean. 

I was prepared to have my intellect tickled when I Googled “styrofoam facts” and up on top popped “Styrofoam fun facts.” 

I expected to read little bullet-point delights like: “Did you know if you soak discarded styrofoam chunks in water long enough they’ll turn into tiny dolphins?”

That to me would be a fun fact.

Here are Google's idea of actual “fun facts.”

  • Styrofoam is made from styrene and styrene is made from petroleum products, which are non-renewable and pollute the environment.
  • Styrene is a cancer-causing health hazard.
  • Chemicals from Styrofoam plates and cups can leach into food, especially if you microwave the Styrofoam.

If those are fun facts then the Old Testament descriptions of things like plague, pestilence and human sacrifice are the “feel good” parts of the Bible.

And remember: styrofoam is 98 percent air.

Imagine how horrific it’ll be if styrofoam is ever made out of … styrofoam!

The abundance of styrofoam is one of the reasons I’m convinced if Planet Earth were our first apartment we could kiss that security deposit goodbye — and anymore when it comes to kissing anything involving the planet I’d recommend one of those aristocratic air kisses that don’t come within a foot of the face. 

Set aside that styrofoam can kill us — kill us! — the really big problem is its ubiquity. It’s everywhere and it takes 500 years to decompose. 

That means the styrofoam cup you threw away after this morning’s coffee will remain in the environment through the year 2519 or about when Larry King concludes it may be time to start thinking about retirement.

One source estimates we make and waste 12 million tons of styrofoam each year.

Can you imagine the size of 12 million tons of something that weighs so little? It would be like the size of a Saturn. 

Not Saturn the vehicle.

I’m talking Saturn the planet.  

Maybe I was unduly harsh on Carl Munters. He was after all a brilliant man with more than 1,000 patents to his name. He’s best known for a refrigerator design that so revolutionized cooling efficiency that Albert Einstein declared it “astonishing.”

Try and fathom doing anything that would make Einstein say, “Wow! Never thought of that.”

We need a new Munters — not to be confused with  a new “Munsters” (I adore Herman Munster) — who’ll fix all that’s been wrought by styrofoam.

Maybe we could tweak the composition so styrofoam is even lighter, lighter than even air. That way you could drink your coffee, let go of the cup and it could slowly rise into outer space.

Remember: Be sure to let go of the cup!

Or in tribute to the inventor, we could fill every coffin with styrofoam packing peanuts. That would rid the surface planet of styrofoam while simultaneously acting as a stabilizing agent in the event of earthquakes.

But, clearly, we must do something.

Because I don’t really think Munters is going to Hell.

My fear is Hell is coming to us.

Related …