Saturday, August 31, 2019

August Tweets of the Month

Honk if you love @8days2Amish tweets of the month! 

On second thought, don’t honk. It might confuse the motorist in front of you that you’re angry. Road rage might ensue. My tweets might be responsible for highway violence. 

I’d be fine with that, of course, if it led to news headlines that mentioned me, my blog, my books or that I’m available to talk to your group about the urgency of being defiantly kind.

But the real issue is what are you doing reading my blog in traffic?

So, please, do not honk if you love my tweets of the month.

Wait till it’s the middle of the night and all the neighbors are asleep then honk like crazy.

Happy Labor Day!

• Fear not death. Fear instead the death-bed realization that you never really lived. Insinuate yourself into enough hearts and you won’t just live to be 100. You’ll live forever.

• I agree with the shrill MAGA voices who say in America today minorities need to “know their place.” Well, my dark-skinned brothers and sisters, your place is right beside me. Unfortunately for both of us, we’re both way back in line behind a bunch of much richer white guys.

• You’re not going to believe this. I just heard a 6-year-old boy was gunned down while he and his family were enjoying a California garlic festival. What are we gonna do? Oh, that's right. This is America. We do NOTHING. Is it time we start arming 6-year-old garlic eaters?

• Hang in there, folks! In just 6 hours we'll be able to change the signs to read, "Welcome to America!  Now   1    Day Without a Mass Shooting!”

• In response to the weekend mayhem, I ask you to join me in being sincerely, but audaciously nice and friendly even in formal situations and among stuffy people conditioned to regard such behavior as weird. Let's be defiantly kind!

• Those who rest assured digital will replace print can take heart that when we see the writing on the wall it's still writing on the wall.

• When you break it all down, life is about deciding if you'd rather walk in someone else's shoes or seize them by their throats. Most bowlers choose the former. 

• Last night, it almost happened. My self-betrayal was nearly complete. I almost used the word "amazeballs" in a sentence.

• Otherwise great Chincoteague beach vacation marred only by incident initiated when kids asked if they could bury me in sand. Sure. I'm game. But when they had me completely immobilized, the little bastards stole my shoes & wallet. I should've known better. They weren't my kids.

• Family opted to sleep in on last day of beach vacation rather than get up early to see sun rise. I can't blame them. Popularity of watching sun rise will increase when it doesn't involve getting up at the crack of dawn.

• Trends in population increase coupled with saturation electronic device usage convinces me one day soon we'll all become our own area codes.

• I’m not necessarily opposed to buying settled nations, but the bargain shopper in me figures we could get at least a dozen shit hole countries for the price of one Greenland.

• I believe 50 percent of the women and 80 percent of the men we encounter in our daily lives are simply older, less cheerful versions of the juvenile spastic morons we all were in high school. Proceed accordingly.

• Thinking of re-writing my history to say the reason I'm not more successful is I made a conscious decision in 2000 to de-prioritize income to be a stay-at-home Dad. Now if I can only convince wife, 2 daughters and dozens of eyewitness bartenders to back me up …

• Whose idea was it to put the mouth, the necessary orifice for breathing and eating, directly below honking, dripping & sneezing nose? It's our worst design flaw. On the other hand, whomever came up with location, function &  performance specs for the penis was really on the ball

• Love going to the county fair to visit the rabbit exhibit and sing, ”Cannnn any BUNNY find meeee some BUNNY to love? Some BUNNY! Some bunny! Some BUNNY! Find me some BUNNY to love!”

• Call me a snob, but I'll always prefer eating at restaurants that sell me food that gives me gas to places that offer food and sell me gas.

• Someone letting the cat out of the bag will become more impactful to me as soon as I start seeing more instances of bagged cats.

• I was 50 years old before it finally began to sink in that, gee, I was drunk wouldn't cut it as an excuse for showing up in church nude.

• A mischief-minded friend is launching the believable lie that Kamala Harris is the niece of Steeler great Franco Harris. Told him it's a good start but for a lie to really take off it needs to be bigger. Like, Bernie Sanders is actually Col. Sanders waiting to reveal chik promo.

• I don't have a whole lot of loot right now, but I bet I have the scratch for Donald Trump to sell me Puerto Rico for what I have in my car console.

• For future reference, it's unnecessary for you to say, "Have fun!" after asking where I'm going or what I'm doing. Look, if it ain't fun I ain't going.

• MAGAs saying Trump truly is chosen one because forces unknown diverting Dorian away from Mar-a-Lago. Me, I won't believe it until confounded forecasters say storm is circling back and taking dead aim on Puerto Rico.

Related …

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Pirate owner Bob Nutting vs. ghost of Roberto Clemente

He’s one of the most unifying figures in the history of the Pittsburgh Pirates. He’s raised millions for unfortunates and, wow, the man has 3,000 hits.

Roberto Clemente?

Nope. We’ll get to him.

We’re talking Bob Nutting! The Pirate owner since 2007 is a tremendous unifier. 

Everyone hates him.

Worth $1.1 billion, Nutting, 57, raises millions for unfortunates by charging as much as $12 for warm domestic beer. Sure he’s the recipient of all that dough, but I consider him unfortunate because he’s such a defective human being he cares more about loot than love.

As for Nutting’s 3,000 hits, I’m talking about the number of times each week disgruntled Bucco fans take to social media to call Nutting a cheap moron.

Let’s make it 3,001.

My disdain for men like Nutting is usually on simmer. My stove top is too busy boiling over Trump, climate change, the publishing industry and my own multiple failures for it to have a free burner for someone as trifling as Nutting.

But then something will happen with Nutting and my hatred will resume its bitter potency.

It happened in 2009 when I saw Nutting while we were both attending a Bob Dylan/John Mellencamp/Willie Nelson concert. Instead of congratulations for his musical tastefulness, I publicly berated him for putting profits over performance.

Then something even more provocative happened Sunday.

Me and three high school buddies spent the afternoon touring the Roberto Clemente Museum in Pittsburgh’s Lawrenceville neighborhood.

When I went there for the first time in 2017, I wrote how it’s one on the 10 coolest places in Pittsburgh. 

Its walls and exhibits are devoted to the great — the saintly — Clemente. He died Dec. 31, 1972, at the prime of his life age of 38. He was the 11th player to get 3,000 hits (only 21 others have achieved the milestone in the 47 years since.

His dying with exactly 3,000 hits is divine symmetry. Because in 50, 100 years from now, visitors to the MLB Hall of Fame will look at the list and its — who knows? — 70 or 90 members and all will focus on two names: the first, whomever that may be. And the last, which for perpetuity will be Roberto Clemente.

Sassy youth may wonder, who is this dude? Did he hang on past his prime to get that milestone hit and retire?

Then some old timer will tell the story of Clemente.

See, he had every intention of playing more productive years. But fate intervened.

Clemente died in a plane crash on a mercy mission to take life-saving supplies to devastated victims of a Managua, Nicaragua, earthquake. The plane crashed on takeoff into the sea near San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Each member of the Pirates attended his funeral but one. His best friend, Manny Sanguillen, did not. He instead with aching poignancy spent the next 30 days diving in the ocean trying to find the body of his friend. The body was never found. 

Why Hollywood has never filmed the Clemente story is a mystery.

But there’s an even bigger mystery and that’s why Clemente’s team refuses to acknowledge, much less support, his namesake museum.

I learned this during my first visit and had it confirmed Sunday. Like a good attorney, I was asking a question to which I knew the answer:

“How much support does Bob Nutting and the Pirates give the museum?”

Gary, our excellent guide, responded with evident bitterness: “How much is 2 minus 2? The answer is nothing.”

Gary said he believes Bob Nutting thinks any dollar spent honoring Clemente is a dollar denied Bob Nutting.

I say we prove him correct. If you’re thinking of attending a Pirate game, consider instead touring the Clemente Museum. Shouldn’t be too difficult. There were 20 in our group Sunday or about two or three more than were at the Pirate game.

Score one for Roberto.

Really, the whole notion is preposterous, a man like Nutting believing he’s in competition with the ghost of the great Clemente.

Of course, Nutting is nothing if not a shrewd businessman.

Maybe he believes it’s more profitable to compete with a ghost than to compete with the Cubs and the Cardinals.

Related …

Monday, August 19, 2019

Octomom update & other distractions

Because this story is ostensibly about distractions and I wouldn’t want your mind to wander, I’ll start with the headline tease that likely snagged your attention in the first place.

Octomom is alive and well in Laguna Niguel, California, striving to finish her autobiography, recovering from a booze and pill addiction and doing what the NYTimes says is a bang-up job of raising her 14 children. Headline: “The Octomom proves us all wrong: The Happy Household of a former Tabloid Curiosity.

And — good news, fellas! — the gal’s still single!

I know all this and more because Val and I over one vacation breakfast in Chincoteague, Virginia, explained to the kids the who, what, where, why and how of Nadya Suleman, 44, the woman who in 2010 gave birth to 8 children because, I guess, there’s something about having six kids that leaves one unfulfilled.

Did I mention she’s still single?

How the conversation led to Octomom, I cannot recall.

A widely-debunked myth claims we use just 10 percent of our brains. Nonsense, say top neurologists. All of our brains are active nearly all of the time.

They say this like it’s meant to reassure we’re deserving of being the planet’s dominant life form and thus get a pass for indifferently extinguishing all the others.

Me, I have more respect for the brain power of the common canine.

Even a stupid dog is the more efficient thinker.

A dog’s thoughts can be roughly dropped into four categories: eat, play, sleep and  screw. Romantics might be tempted to lump play and screw into the same category. But I’ve seen horny dogs in action and unless you consider a quick butt sniff romance, I’ll contend there’s a difference between play (chasing a tennis ball) and screwing (google it).

Imagine how much happier and more productive we’d all be if we thought with the discipline of dogs.

Alas, it’s not to be. 

See, I use 100 percent of my brain, but it’s devoted to learning and retaining things like the marital status of Octomom.

In the hour I’ve spent composing this blog — talk about your pointless distractions — this is a partial list of the distractions that have rolled like vapid tumbleweeds across the wasteland of my mind.

Baseball, lunch, Jeff Probst, golf, bourbon, firewood, sex, Elizabeth Banks, sex, the new Springsteen movie, mosquitos, Stones on tour, pizza, book sales, my in-grown toenail and is it time to water Buck’s plants up here on the 3rd floor (no, but I did it anyway).

You know something a dog never thinks about? Jay Thomas. He played Eddie LeBec on “Cheers.” He died two years ago Saturday at the age of 69.

I’ve been thinking about him ever since a friend sent me a link to a commercial that showed George Washington driving a car. As I know what a black hole of distraction YouTube can be, I pondered if I had time to watch the 30-second clip.

I did.

Then I figured since I had time for that I had the 4:45 it’d take to watch Thomas tell David Letterman the uproarious story of the day he met the Lone Ranger. It’s absolutely hilarious. Letterman says it’s the funniest story he’s ever heard. Check it out.

I now watch it whenever I find myself getting depressed by distracting news about climate change, gun violence or polls that hint Trump will win again.

I’m using 100 percent of my brain but, unlike the dog, about 97 percent of it is pointless BS. I worry I’m changing my cranial composition from gray matter to fecal.

It’s a pity the Nazis so thoroughly polluted the term, because I could really use a leisurely stretch in a concentration camp. 

Really, there ought to be a camp where adults could go to learn how to concentrate.

The blog result would be fewer stupid distractions: more coherence, less Jay Thomas.

We’d pick a topic and wring everything we could out of it, which in the case of Octomom we can only hope wouldn’t result in more children.

The last thing I’d recommend for an aspiring writer like Suleman is more runny-nosed distractions running through your home.

Especially if you’re prone to having them all running through your head.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Lovin' beach vacation; hatin' sunscreen

It took a 55-foot keelboat and two 35-foot supply boats for the 27-man Lewis and Clark expedition to in 1804 traverse the continent.

I figure if the attempt were made today they’d need a third boat just for sun screen. 

After an otherwise splendid week on Chincoteague Island, Virginia, I can report that a day at the beach is no longer a day at the beach.

It all starts with the messy, time-consuming and distasteful task of applying sun screen. Dermatologists recommend an SPF of at least 30 with some saying as high as 50.

Given doomsday climate change predictions, I imagine in five years it’ll be SPF 5000, but that’ll be moot because by then our idea of an adventure vacation will be anything outside and above ground.

The sun, our most necessary element in sustaining human life, is also becoming the element most likely to wipe it out.

It’s good for us; it’s bad for us.

So more and more a day at the beach is like unprotected sex with an old hooker. 

Fun for the whole family!

I think the inefficiency of proper sunscreening is what gets me most. First of all, by this time of year we have a closet full of half-used sunscreens of varying potencies. So if I’m determined to get to the prudent SPF 50, I must resort to math. 

I find one half-empty SPF 25 and two nearly done SPF 15s. That’s an excess total of SPF 60 — a waste of 10 perfectly good SPFs.

So by my way of thinking, I need to even the score by choosing to leave 10 percent of my body sunscreen free. I chose to sacrifice the thighs.

Wouldn’t you know it? That’s the same day my thighs got sunburned!

With us, sunscreen application is a family affair. We all gather on the porch and slather it on the parts of ourselves we can reach. Once that’s rubbed in, we form a little Conga line, oldest to youngest and do one another’s backs. Val then does mine.

It’s a little awkward so the only sound you hear is a reverse slurping sound a near-empty bottle makes when the contents evades the hole and you got to flip the lid and give it a shake or two.

When this is done, I head to the bedroom, close the door, pull down my swim trunks and secretly spray my testicles with shark repellent.

Don’t tell me you wouldn’t feel stupid going to all that trouble to avoid a little sunburn only to wind up standing there in the surf waving goodbye to a shark that’s swimming away with your balls in his mouth.

None of this would be worth it if the beach didn’t have the ocean and the ocean didn’t have waves.

I wonder if it has something to do with returning to our Darwinian roots, but stepping into a bracing ocean and allowing yourself to be pummeled by relentless waves is utterly euphoric.

Better still is being a dad to children, 18 and 13, who prefer having actual fun to appearing cooly aloof. Val, too.

The girls let these huge waves knock the literal snot out them.

I can’t think of any other physical activity that leads to a similar result that is so joyful.

Our little one — she’s nearly as big as me — was particularly ecstatic. I hope I never forget that look of wonder, fear and brave anticipation on her face as she felt and saw a monster wave about to crash down on her head.

Pity the youth too umbilically tethered to their devices to experience such electrifying recklessness.

Even the ominous appearance of jellyfish did not deter the fun and, in fact, led to a burst of female team building when they ganged up on me for joking the jellyfish were simply looking for compatible peanut butter fish.

We rode bikes, saw the native horses, hiked, dined, ran into some old friends and enjoyed some truly spectacular family time.

In short, we had a ball.

And thanks to my judicious use of shark repellent, the Chincoteague-area sharks did not.

Related …

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Lifetime(s) ambition(s)

I think being pre-occupied with death is a not unhealthy byproduct of being occupied with life.

So many ways to die means there ought to be just one way to live and that’s exuberantly. I’ve felt that way ever since it dawned on me that I, aw shucks, wasn’t going to live forever.

It’s becoming more acute with me lately. It’s either the near daily news reminder I could get killed going to either — pick one — a store/gym/bar/school/church/movie/other or selfishly fretting about my own prospects, but I’m dwelling on my own mortality more than ever.

It’s more an awareness than a fear. But it’s only human to want to extend our portion.

I figure seven more lifetimes ought to do it.

With one additional lifetime I’d like to devote myself to earning some serious dough. I’ve never had crazy money. It’s never been a priority. But choosing to live an interesting life over a well-compensated one not only is unconventional, it is in many ways just plain stupid. I never intended it to be this way and I remain optimistic upcoming endeavors will alter the situation, but being low income (often NO income) is no way to live. I’d like to have another lifetime to see if a reasonably bright guy like myself could score some scratch if he made that tawdry goal a priority. 

I’d like a lifetime to play golf. I’ve been a pretty decent golfer twice in my life, for about a total of nine days with only five of them involving actual rounds of golf. They were really great days. I know many good golfers and they make being skillful at golf seem as satisfying as I feel after composing some wisdom worthy of being said aloud in my Yoda voice. Give me an entire lifetime to play, enjoy and get good at golf. 

What kind of human being wouldn’t want a whole lifetime to lavish on helping human beings? When a school girl asked Albert Einstein to share with her the meaning of life, the genius said in essence it was to help one another. Wouldn’t you like an entire life to spend making the world a better place? To feeding the hungry? To comforting the sick? And bringing cheer to the hopeless? I regretfully confess there’s no reason why I haven’t in Lifetime No. 1 done more of that.

I’d like one lifetime to stand for something, something that matters. I’m cursed with an ability to usually see multiple sides to every argument. We Americans have spent much of the last three years vehemently arguing over fences. Now, there’s only two sides to a fence yet I see maybe six different arguments. I’d revel to have one lifetime where I was absolutely certain I knew all the facts to every argument and that those who disagree with me were not only idiots, they were evil idiots. It would be so much simpler than cerebral subtlety.

Or I’d like a lifetime that coincided with a universal mindset that it’s better to walk in another person’s shoes than to seize that same person by their throats.

I’d like a lifetime to spend in the study of faith. I’m a spiritual, at times nearly mystical, person. But I admire men and women of unshakable faith who enjoy rock-like foundations in what it all means and all that comes next. Talk of any afterlife always reminds me of the famous last words of Apple salesman (not a genius) and founder Steve Jobs who is purported to have said as he drifted into the other realm, “Oh, wow! Oh, wow! Oh, wow!” My fear is my death bed exclamation will be, “Oh, shit! Oh, shit! Oh, shit!”

And I’d like another lifetime to live this lifetime all over again just exactly as it’s been. Nothing — nothing — has worked out the way I’d imagined it would when I was young and certain my life would result in fame, fortune and healthy longevity. But it’s all been just so interesting and happy I’d like to start it all over again just so I could experience all the very same loves and laughs once again. Thanks to those of you who’ve been a part of it.

And because that’s only six lifetimes and I said seven I’ll choose to do the last one twice!

Related …

Monday, August 5, 2019

Jokin' 'bout the joys of jail

It would be a better story if I could honestly say I was there the night Capt. Tony told my buddies he didn’t respect any man who hadn’t spent at least one night in jail.

But that wouldn’t be the truth.

It was Spring Break back in 1985 and my buddies were in Key West while I was back home in Pittsburgh (no dough). And it would be an even better story if I could honestly say at that very moment I was in jail for doing something bone-headed like, say, being drunk and cutting the heads off of municipal parking meters. That’s how they snagged Lucas Jackson in “Cool Hand Luke,” my favorite character from my favorite movie. 

I wish I had been there and had heard the words straight from the mouth of Tony Tarracino, aka Capt. Tony, legendary owner of his namesake bar immortalized that very year by Jimmy Buffett in “Last Mango in Paris.” This was back before Buffett  became a conglomerate dabbling in restaurants, satellite radio, senior living.

Back when he still had what I guess you’d call beach cred.

The captain believed any man worth his salt had to at least once give The Man The Finger and spend at least a night in the slammer. It was a rite of passage.

It made sense to me and — boom — like that within the next year I was tossed into the Dormont Muncipal Jail for a crime I did commit (sorta).

Why I chose to follow the second-hand advice of a drunken old sea captain over the respectable multitudes urging me toward prudence and occupational responsibility is the story of my life.

But — aye, aye — the captain was correct. Doing at least one night in jail did bestow some worldliness. It gave me a great story (link below) and led to what was until recently one of my favorite bar conversation starters:

“Tell me about the night you spent in jail.”

You’ll be surprised by how many now-respectable men have had momentary bouts of lawlessness that led to a night in the Iron Bar Hotel.

The stories are often hilarious, even more so because the illegality is usually something they were once ashamed to admit.  What was once taboo has become humor.

The stories usually involve drugs, drunkeness and midnight mischief. I’m friends with a guy who stole a bulldozer and took it for a 6 mph joy ride down Main Street before realizing too late he was unskilled at knowing how to bring the machine to a complete halt. 

I know some guys who were busted breaking into a car impound lot to steal back their car and in their drunken confusion would up stealing the wrong car.

So I felt I was on stable ground Friday when I asked a buddy my light-hearted question: “Tell me about the night you spent in jail.”

“Which one? There were 528 of them.”

I’ll reveal no details that might lead any snoops to track down his identity except for this: His incarceration made national news and involved a cross-country ride in the caged back of a van driven by the man who would become famous as “Dog The Bounty Hunter,” and included two months with Unabomber Ted Kaczynski as his cell mate and that the terrorist was pretty cool.

It would be a better story if I could say my friend busted Ted for using his toothbrush, but that wouldn’t be true.

It was the most compelling (and entertaining) tale I’ve ever heard in response to my jocular question. And it was the last time I’ll ask it.

Our scars are the most interesting and revealing features of an aging man. But there are sound reasons why some men tend secrets.

Who am I to tap dance among the tombstones in search of bar giggles?

And I fear I, a mostly privileged aging white dude, might one day with buddy-buddy familiarity ask the wrong black man to regale me with some jaunty tales about his experiences with the law and he’ll want to kill me.

I’ll have it coming.

That’s the truth.

Related …