Thursday, October 31, 2019

Tweets of the (last two) months

And now entirely without fanfare, here are the Tweets of the (last two) months ...

• Purely to satisfy my curiosity to how bitter partisans react to coincidental news, I'd like to see what supporters and antagonists say if a Storm(y) named Daniels made landfall at Mar-a-Lago. 

• If Trump says the hurricane is gonna hit Alabama then pucker up, Cotton State, and prepare to kiss yer asses goodbye

• It may be a vast over-simplication, but couldn’t global warming be eased if we simply moved Earth farther from the sun? I think if we synchronized our pushups on one side of the globe while everyone on the other side jumped up in the air …

• Given what I know about headline writers and how they strive for novelty, I predict this will be the week one of them crafts the line, "Another whistleblower provides vaping gun.”

•So many evil doers getting killed while committing heinous acts must mean Hell is getting full. That means long lines, shortages, frayed nerves. Imagine road rage in Hell. Now do something here to ensure you won't have to experience it.

• Better casting: The late Leslie Nielsen as Donald Trump or Donald Trump as the late Leslie Nielsen? The longer this goes on the more I wonder if POTUS is a hybrid of the two.

• Do Flat Earthers believe there are upside down people on the flip side or that it's just a bunch of roots and shit?

• Is it coincidence or puckishly deliberate that the federal meteorology department charged with forecasting devastating floods has a name that sounds like NOAH? #NOAA

• Rejoice our leaders are unafraid to stand up to the all powerful e-cigarette lobby in light of 6 nationwide vaping deaths. Rest assured if there's ever another unregulated product used to randomly slay innocents these portraits in courage will act swiftly to end the menace.

• I’ve never experienced love at first sight, but 5 or 6 times a day I'll catch the eye of some stranger and know -- just know -- we're destined to become drinking buddies.

• ”Laid up," is one of our oddest expressions because it usually means a convalescent incapable of getting up at all.  Laid down makes more sense. It gets even trickier anatomically speaking if you dare spell it "layed up" or "layed down.”

• A clear, sharp mind is a brute impediment to enjoying so much of life's wonder and whimsy. I'm glad that's not one of my problems.

• Proper grammar is the math of writing.

• You’d have to think Danish Haz-Mat teams would eventually lose their edge from responding to too many there's-something-rotten-in-Denmark false alarms.

• As monumental they were as a band, they couldn't have come up with a more fraudulent name. The never toured, never gigged a local bar. Hell, they never left the studio. Traveling Wilburys? Right. They were the Stationary Wilburys.

• It doesn't exactly equate to a Rosa Parks moment, but if I were a person of color I'd ask the podiatrist to think up another less Caucasian-sounding name for my littlest brown toe instead of “pinky."

• When I'm drinkin' dahntahn, I like a place with fries and slaw on the bread, HOF Stiller jerseys on the wall, etc. I want the full yinzer. Yes, I want n’atmosphere.

• I wonder if he ever went through a serious phase and told folks he was now going by Bill Wonka.

• I wonder if there was any confusion in the Swingin' '70s when Evel Knievel approached a pretty girl and asked if she'd let him jump her bones.

• The literalist in me becomes furious whenever he visits the National Museum of Air & Space and sees a building with walls and ceilings.

• That which does not kill you only makes you stronger and if this process is repeated enough eventually age and time combine to make you so frail you can die in your kitchen tripping over a kitten.

• From a purely fashion sense, is it accurate to refer to Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud as the "crown" prince of Saudi Arabia when his head gear appears to be some form of hanky?

• What are you doing today to keep the happy parts of your brain engaged? I hope the answer isn't reading Facebook.

• Because most people only listen to 50 percent of what we're saying, I try and omit every other word so theoretically I'll have their full attention.

• Being "left to their own devices," once a stinging form of social abandonment, is now the preferred human activity.

• I admit to feelings of wistfulness over not having sired a son. These feelings pass when I realize a son would by now be asking me, "Daddy, would you help me secure my man bun?" And to my everlasting shame I'd feel obliged to assist.

• Halloween is the season when fundamentalists question the propriety of so much pagan idolatry. It's also the season when I question how come the words "evil" and "devil" don't rhyme.

• NASA probes continue to scan the cosmos for evidence of planets with life-sustaining water. Life-sustaining? Listen, I'm not going anywhere until they find a planet with life-sustaining pizza.

• I’m vowing my next book will be a hand’s-on guide to adhesives full of sticky samples so every honest review would have to say, "Couldn't put it down!”

• This is the time of year when the most avid baseball fans brag to other baseball fans they were able to stay awake for an entire baseball game. 

Monday, October 21, 2019

Making signed books special

It would be a total jerk move, but I often think about entering book stores and posing as another author to sign their books in ways that promote mine.

I’ve signed a lot of books in a lot of bookstores and never once has anyone asked me to prove I’m Chris Rodell. I could pose as any number of more successful authors and the book seller would cheerfully hand me a stack of books and leave me in peace for 30 minutes, free to drift around the store and snag any number of books by illustrious authors.

Then I can surreptitiously sign what I want and return the book to its shelf. That way prospective readers will open the book to find:
“I’ve sold 500 million books. I really don’t care if you make this 500,000,001. I’d rather encourage you to buy ‘The Last Baby Boomer,’ by local author Chris Rodell. He writes with wit and sparkle. You won’t be disappointed. His books are so magical they ought to be taught at Hogwarts!

J.K. Rowling

Or …

You really ought to consider buying ‘Use All the Crayons!’ by Chris Rodell. It’s so funny and soulful it makes me feel like giving up writing to go back to being a small town Southern lawyer struggling against — pick one — organized crime/corporate greed/racial injustice/fleshy temptation. But because people like you keep buying my books, I think I’ll just crank out another one about a small town Southern lawyer struggling against — pick one — organized crime/corporate greed/racial injustice/fleshy temptation.”

John Grisham

The vast majority of book buyers may find their books more compelling than mine, but no fair reader would say their signings are better than mine.

I’m one of those rare writers who puts as much thought into what he signs on the book title page as he does for things like actual book plot.

I have a John Grisham-signed book. Know what it says?

It says John Grisham

That’s it. I’m not even sure it’s him that signed it. For all I know he could have some intern who sits there all day signing “John Grisham” to an unknown percentage of the whopping 275 million he’s sold.

Buy from me a new “Growing Up in the REAL Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Life Lessons from the Heart of Latrobe, Pa,” and here’s what you get:

“There’s a happy place in every human heart where we’re all neighbors and everyone gets along. May you forever call it home.”

Takes me 45 seconds to sign one book like that.

I’ve sold/signed more than 350 copies since the book arrived Oct. 9. BTW, the average self-published book sells 250 over its lifetime so thanks to those of you who’ve helped make me above average in just 11 days.

 But 45 seconds. That’s 15,750 total seconds or about 4 1/2 hours writing the same 24 words over and over.

I’m reminded of Jack Torrance in “The Shining” maniacally stuck on “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” (10 words).

So why do it?

Because I think it matters. I think it makes the purchase more special and I think the message resonates with readers. 

See, I take what I do seriously. I don’t sit down to write a book with the idea of making a lot of money foremost in my mind.

Mission accomplished!

I want to enjoy the endeavor and I want the reader to feel enhanced by the purchase.

It’s why I sign the Palmer books, “This is NOT a golf book. This is a LIFE book.”

It’s why I sign “The Last Baby Boomers,” “May you truly live each and every moment right up until you truly don’t!”

And it’s why I should win some kind of award for signing the crayon books, “Never forget for even a single instant how many happy colors your life is forever adding to the lives of those you love. And remember, together we can all brighten the whole world!” (33 words).

Maybe someday I’ll be so consumed with success, my idea of an authorial book 
signing will be me scribbling my name in my books (2 words).

Until then I’ll continue signing my books in ways I believe will reach peoples’ hearts. 

And I’ll sign other authors’ books in ways I hope will eventually reach me in my wallet.

“To be or not to be? That is the question. But a better question would be, “Why aren’t you buying Chris Rodell’s book?”

Bill Shakespeare

Updated book signing schedule …

Oct. 26, Jeannette Public Library, 1 pm

Oct. 27, Ligonier Library, 2 pm

November 2, Greensburg-Hempfield Area Library, 2 pm

Nov. 4, Mt. Pleasant Public Library, 6 pm

Nov. 9, Vandergrift Public Library, noon

Nov. 12, Ohio Co. Public Library, Lunch w/ Authors, Wheeling, WV., noon

Nov. 14, Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce, noon, TBD
      Adams Memorial Library, Latrobe, 6 pm

Nov. 18, Murrysville Community Library, 6:30 pm

Nov. 19, New Florence Public Library, 7 pm

Nov. 22, Barnes & Noble, Greensburg (movie debut party)

Nov. 23, Barnes & Noble, Altoona, 1 pm

Nov. 24, Barnes & Noble, Monroeville 2 p.m.

Nov. 29, Tin Lizzy/Flappers Black Friday bar celebration, 7 pm

December 1, Barnes & Noble, Greensburg, 2 pm

Dec. 12, Upper St. Clair Library, 7 pm

Jan. 29, Bethel Park Library, 7 pm

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Quick! Gimme $65. I need a new pen!

The clandestine meeting had been set for a public place. Consummation would take place out in the open, but among indifferent strangers.

This tete-a-tete had wholesome origins. My attractions bloomed at the Ligonier Farmer’s Market in early summer in the season of the rising sap.

Of course, I couldn’t let my wife know. I suspected she’d be very upset.

Turns out I was right.

Because in spite of all my painstaking deceptions, guess who also happened to be there at the Barnes & Noble café. It was Val

I was busted. Exposed. Caught with my proverbial pants down. 

The sap had risen and the sap was I.

“It’s not what you think,” I feebly mumbled.

Oh, but it was. The evidence was spread out all over the table.

World’s smallest hooker?

No, more than a dozen or lovely little Duckys.

Pervert? More like a penvert.

The object of my secret desire was not a wayward woman, but a refined, eye-catching luxury pen handcrafted by Dave “Ducky” Owen.

Another long string of my consumer deprivation appears to be drawing to a close. Interest in the new Fred Rogers book is high, sales brisk. So for now I’m flush. Still deep in debt from years and years of bone-headed decisions, but feeling the warm winds of momentary prosperity on my face.

And what’s the first thing you do when you have money burning a hole in your pants?

Yep.  Shop for asbestos underwear!

Then you splurge a bit.

It’s indicative of my station that my idea of a splurge isn’t a Ferrari, a Rolex or first class tickets to some place exotic.

No, mine is the uppity cousin to the humble Bic, a writing instrument that goes for $117.25 — for 300 of ‘em.

But each of those penny pens fulfills the same mission as the ballyhooed Aurora Diamante Fountain Pen, the world’s most expensive writing instrument. The pen is festooned with 30 carats of genuine De Beer's diamonds on a solid platinum barrel.

Out of my league. But that doesn’t mean I can aspire to upgrades.

I became a nice pen guy last year when I was enjoying some success with the Palmer book. A stranger had bought 30 copies to give to friends and stood there and watched me sign.

“I hope I’m not being rude,” he said, “but a great writer like you should be using a great writing instrument,” he said as I blushed at the heady compliment. From his shirt pocket, he pulled out a Cross Century Classic he said cost $130.

But his appeal to my fancy vanity took seed. I vowed when I reached a certain threshold I’d shop the Cross website for classy pens still affordable to a classless guy like me.

And I didn’t tell Val.

Wrong, I know. Spouses all tend secrets in order to avoid needlessly roiling matrimonial seas. Live down and desperate so long any item that’s perceived as extravagance can inflame ire, especially if it’s attained on the sneak.

And, geez, it wasn’t like I was concealing a ruinous coke habit (give it time).

Cross, by the way, produces a “Liberty Unlimited” line made from melted-down metals that include steel from illegal guns confiscated by the police: “Its purchase helps protect and educate kids who are growing up with gun violence.” 

I wish I could buy 1,000 of ‘em.

Anyway, my heart kindled a spark when I saw Owen peddling his pens, made right up the street in Greensburg. They’re magnificent. Plus, there’s a strong appeal to supporting the local guy, an instinct I’ll revisit in a few paragraphs. So, I decided to buy one to commemorate the release of the new book.

And I got busted. 

The pens were all over the table, price tags plainly visible (mine was $65). I felt bad. I’d disappointed her. Again.

But I love that pen. It’s just beautiful, worthy of a great writer — or at least of a writer who’s been told he’s great.

Now, I want you to pay for it.

If you like the blog, I ask you check out the new PayPal widget on the sidebar. Supporting the blog — through donations or book purchases -- has never been easier.

That way I can say with belated honesty the pen was a gift from benevolent blog readers out to express their gratitude.

In this case, it’s the write thing to do.

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