Saturday, February 29, 2020

Leaper tweets of the month

• I used to make prognostications but I was so wrong so often I predict it'll never happen again.

• Because I enjoy security cam video of news that can only be described as miraculous, I hope today to see a massive sinkhole open up on a busy highway where an equally massive and adjacent landslide fills it in so neatly passengers in an advancing bus never notice either potential calamity …

And because I enjoy uninformed FB vitriol over things no one can explain, I hope the bus is full of either MAGA-hat wearing NRA conventioneers or rainbow-haired women's volleyballers on their way to a Pete for Prez fundraiser.

• I’d like to be in Boston today to inform Patriot fans who out of habit the day after the Super Bowl begin to set chairs out along the parade route that if they want to see honest champions they'd better get their asses to Kansas City.

• Two of the least popular people in the Republican Party are today two Republican senators chosen by Republicans to lead the Republican Party in two of the most recent presidential elections.

• I wonder where the strangers who appear in our dreams go when we're awake and if they sleep in that place and have dreams that include people like us.

• Those who say they've lost everything and have no where to go but up often ignore the depth of a grave.

• Not to be an alarmist, but who wants to bet that within the next 30 days one of our politicians will declare in the interest of public health we sink the cruise ships full of quarantined Coronavirus victims?

• Every four years I'm forced to overcome the confusion over whether Dixville Notch is an electorally significant New Hampshire village and not some anatomically precise porno jargon.

• I don't understand the need for the redundant spelling of tsetse fly. Is there a tse fly or a tsetsetse fly from which it needs distinguishing? Really, I don't tse the point.

• I know what you're thinking 'cuz I'm thinking it, too: "I just turned 57 and I STILL haven't sucked face with Madonna! What's taking so long?" Thanks, my friends, for all the birthday wishes.

• Most people confuse being opinionated with being correct. Just because you say something in a loud voice absent doubt doesn't mean you're right. Of course, that's just my opinion.

• ”Titanic" concluding now on AMC. I like the subtle irony of a movie where a painter gets framed and a woman whose name sounds like "ROWS" is hauled into a lifeboat and given an oar.

• Given the spread of Coronavirus, how long before Pirate owner Bob Nutting orders -- for prudent health reasons -- a game be played without fans? And given Pirate fan disdain, how long before anyone notices the difference?

• Be honest: How much 'living' do you do in your living room? In fact, it should be called the "watching room" or, worse, the "ignoring-your-loved-ones room.”

• I wonder if any of the forward-thinkers at PETA have game-planned a pro-active position paper anticipating Jurassic scenarios where the organization defends the dinosaur's absolute right to roam free in the cities and the countries.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

This book is worth (at least) $150

(646 words)

I’m not suggesting it will play a role in toppling international currency markets, but one of my books was a key factor in a six-figure transaction that required a notary and five responsible witnesses.

Sure, the necessary inclusion of a decimal point knocks the transaction into modest four figures and, yeah, one of the “responsible witnesses” was a distracted toddler and one of them was, well, me.

But I was sober and alert, enough so that I made one of the craftier deals of my life.

I bought a car with a book.

And, no, it wasn’t one of those little Matchbox numbers.

It was a 2010 Ford Focus (color: “Brilliant Blue”) with 99,891 miles.

Of course I needed to supplement one crayon-signed  “Use All The Crayons!” with a tidy stack of dough (color: “cash green”), but that pesky detail will soon be dismissed.

A reputable car dealer defrayed a not insignificant chunk of change for my book.

If someone had told me 35 years ago that buying a 10-year-old used car with nearly 100,000 miles on it would make me this happy, I’d have said, “Which way to law school?”

But that is my lot.

My other “lot” will from now on be Superior Motors on Rt. 30 across from the Arnold Palmer airport. They were the best.

Understand, I’m not at all a car guy. In fact, when I’m seated with car guys and they start talking about cars, I mitigate the boredom by thinking about girls I’ve known who liked to kiss.

It’s a coping mechanism I’ve used since puberty and one of the reasons I got through school with C averages and why at the age of 57 shopping for $5,000 used cars qualify for me as high finance.

But I a car guy buddy, aware of my meager means and needs, said, “What you need is a Ford Focus,” he said. “They’re practically bullet proof.”

I didn’t ask what that meant, but in America today buying anything described as bullet proof seems like a sensible purchase,  like Eskimos paying for parkas.

Still, I was dreading the day, as dread I do anything that involves me giving what for me is a large pile of money to strangers for something I can’t eat or drink.

But salesman Tom couldn’t have been nicer — and when I told him my name he knew me.

Thanks to so much friendly local media coverage, it’s becoming clear I’m in the midst of warm and rising recognition. It happened later that day at Barnes & Noble where I’d been summoned to sign another stack of new books.

The staff were all solicitous and complimentary. I’m even getting recognized by readers who’ve seen me at readings or on TV. They all want to know when my next book’ll be out.

It’s the kind of reaction I dreamed I’d get seven years ago when “Crayons!” came out. I remain exuberantly proud of that book because all the people who tell me it makes them happy. 

It’s not uncommon for me to gift one to strangers who’ve done me a friendly or two.

What is uncommon — unprecedented — is for me to use it as an audacious bargaining chip in a major purchase. But that’s just what I did at Superior Motors.

“I’ll pay cash,” I said, “but I’ll throw in this book for free if you’ll knock off another $150.”

Now, I know they were just being nice and that no one would value that book at $150. But they were just so friendly they played along.

It was the best car purchase I’ve ever made. Superior Motors is staffed by superior people.

Now, if only that book will begin to fulfill its promise and lead me to a security that for so long has been evasive, well, it won’t be valued at $150.

It’ll be priceless.

Superior Motors can be reached right here

Related …

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Putting those Tin Lizzy rumors to rest

One of my favorite things to do in the Tin Lizzy is pretend I own the Tin Lizzy.

I pretend I’m Buck Pawloski, the 74-year-old actual owner. 

This isn’t as challenging as it sounds. I have since July 2015 rented an office in the historic tavern. The landmark building dates back to the 1750’s and has three distinct lively bars, one in the basement and ones on the first and second floors. A great kitchen serves all three.

Atop the whole shebang is my third floor office. I’m up here all by myself. Just me and the ghosts.

It’s, as I like to say, “Four floors, a million stories.”

Even though it’s possible for me to go days without seeing anyone but Buck, I mostly dress like I’m a prosperous businessman, like a man who since 1980 has owned a thriving and profitable business.

That’s what Buck is. But for some reason Buck every day chooses to dress like a man who is expecting at any minute to be asked to spring off his bar stool and help gut a deer.

I have an office in the building. Buck does not. 

So the perceptions of our appearances make pretending I’m Buck to be a cinch.

I do it about once a month or so when I hear the stairs creak and sense Buck is about to talk building business with some unwitting salesperson or prospective waitress.

I storm into the room and seethe at the real Buck (insert obvious profanity), “Are you pretending you’re me again? I told you I’d fire your butt if I caught you pulling this stunt again. Now, get your mop bucket and go scrub that toilet in the ladies room. Move!”

I then cooly turn my full attention to the visitor, adopt a warm professional demeanor and say, “Hi, I’m Buck. What can I do for you?”

The total bewilderment of the stranger is a joy to behold, and is in stark contrast to the face of Buck, which looks consumed with thoughts of dismembering me.

It’s a good thing — for me, at least — he’s never acted on the homicidal impulse. It could jeopardize his four-decade plus “Employee of the Month” streak, one notable  for him being both selector and recipient, which must be some sort of record for either employee performance or crass nepotism.

There have been fears recently the streak would end for reasons — not of long overdue fairness — but for harsh mortality.

Doctors told Buck he was unlikely to make it beyond this past May.

His liver was in catastrophic failure from, as he bluntly says, the “occupational hazard” of for 40 years running a popular bar. A Vietnam combat vet, he declined pursuing transplant options saying there were worthier recipients.

Now, that’s employee of the month behavior.

If having a mortal departure date shook him, he never betrayed it. He was never sour or morose, bitter or maudlin.

Buck dying was — hallelujah — the same as Buck living.

He laughed, he joked, he told stories. He razzed Jessie, Sandy and Jimmy — the three longest serving bartenders, ones whose terms are measured in decades, evidence of organizational loyalty relatable mostly in Steeler head coaches and the Rooney family.

And he kept showing up. Every day. I can’t decide who’s more monumental, him or the 270-year-old building.

He kept showing up even as rumors swirled — fact-based rumors — that Buck was dead man walking. This, of course, fueled rampant rumors that the Tin was for sale. It was not uncommon for customers to tell better informed employees that it was already sold. The deal was done, they swore.

This would produce unwelcome upheaval among those of us who revel in feeling at home in such a quirky and delightful place.

Through it all Buck appeared robust, enough so that I began telling people he made the whole thing up because he craves attention.

That’s not true. Men like Buck don’t crave attention. They deserve it.

Either way, it’s attention he’s bound to get because of what he told me and others after last week’s checkup.

“They can’t explain it, but they said my numbers are perfect,” he said. “They were so surprised by what they saw they ordered a second blood test. It confirmed the first. They said I could live forever.”

They lied. He won’t. No one does.

But it’s welcome news to those of us who disdain change in things that seem so fleetingly perfect.

And our friend is indispensable to the situation.

Consider yourself fortunate if you live in a place with even a few indispensable people like Buck.

Easy to mimic, impossible to replace.

Note: Because this included personal info, the subject was given the opportunity to read this in advance, make changes or deny its posting. He made one minor change regarding the source of his affliction. It is my hope we can now go back to speculating on the really important Tin Lizzy questions. Questions like “Where does Rodell hide all the loot he makes from bloggin’?”

Related …

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Blinded by the (head)lights: a glaring story

I’ve said it before, but I’m such a pacifist the only thing I reflexively want to kill is time.

This puts me at odds with everyone but, gee, I guess the Dalai Lama and Kermit the Frog.

But the other night I heard some cranky old white male talking about blasting a fellow motorist and I thought, yeah, I’m on board with that.

He said: “I’d wait the they got real close and then I’d — BAM! — let ‘em have it!”

He indicated his victim would go unmourned and that he, this vehicular vigilante, would be hailed a hero.

I have to say, I saw the light.

And now I can’t see anything else!

Bruce Springsteen was metaphorically “Blinded by The Light” in ’73. I’m blinded every time I leave my driveway in the dark. 

It seems our headlights have gone wild.

Yes, on top of all our other boiling hostilities, I sense a new front is emerging in the multi-pronged Civil War some seem so eager tp fight. This one is between high-beam blasting souped-up headlight jerk offs versus courteous in-obtrusive motorists like me

If anecdotal motorist complaints are any indication, there’s an epidemic of blinding headlights and selfish on-coming motorists who never dim their high beams, the better perhaps to see you go airborne missing a turn and wrapping your car around a utility pole.

My cranky friend says he wants to rig a rear-facing LED light and switch it on anytime he’s being high-beamed or tailgated. 

His anger illuminates a problem that’s all about anger illumination.

Are headlights getting brighter?

Government and insurance industry inspectors say no. They say the especially controversial LED lights only seem brighter because they’re novelty blue.

Well, I believe my own eyes and at night they’re in a constant squint. Looking for terrain and road contour clues while faceing on-coming traffic is like staring staight into the sun.

Headlights have been getting cosmetically worse ever since the 2006 premier of the Pixar animated “Cars” movie where all the vehicles were made to appear human. This was especially evident through the headlights. The turn signals were even eyebrows.

And, of course, life imitated crass art and today many new cars at night appear to be monsters on a roll to gobble up the pavement.

While we’re on the subject of movies, my jiffy Oscar thoughts on some we saw: We loved “Jo Jo Rabbit” and “1917” (wife and daughter saw it … w/o me!); my favorite of the year was “Knives Out.” I haven’t seen “Parasite” and am reluctant to because I hated “Snowpiercer,” also by lauded director Boon Joon-Ho — and he has the best name to appear on film since Dash Riprock.

And, sorry, I hated the self-indulgent “Irishman,” and consider it more evidence that picture-by-picture Robert DeNiro is becoming our most over-rated actor. Want to see an under-appreciated DeNiro gem with crackling dialogue? Check out “Midnight Run,” the great 1988 road/buddy movie co-starring (Pittsburgher!) Charles Grodin.

I hear “Ford vs. Ferrari” is great and that brings us back full circle to cars, likely with the blinker on and the whole time hogging the passing lane.

I did a little digging on the glare problem and the future is, well, less blinding.

Popular Science reports all new vehicles will soon be equipped with so-called “adaptive driving beam tech.” It uses sensors at the front of the vehicle to detect where other vehicles are, and dynamically dims headlights to avoid glaring those vehicles.  Experts say the win-win result is other drivers won’t be blinded, but the road will be brighter.

The technology is already in use in Europe.

It’s maybe the only time in the history of illumination when dimming is a bright idea.

We shall close today’s rant with a Bible lesson from Genesis 1:3 declares, “Let there be light.”

Given the glaring troubles of driving in the dark, I don’t feel sacrilegious making the last sentence in this blog …

Enough already!

Related …

Monday, February 10, 2020

Forks, fingers & sporks

I’ve in the last month added an exciting new element to my diet, one that could lead to dramatic weight loss without the sweaty grind of regular exercise. It is … 

The fork! 

See, because of my condition, I’ve let myself go a bit over the last 18 months.

Who wouldn’t? Women look at me with a pity they can not conceal. Men cross the street like they fear what’s afflicting me will jump to them.

My once vital life is irreparable diminished.

But, hey, that’s what living with male pattern baldness can do to a man.

I decided, eff it, I’ll eat what I want. Lots of pizza, subs, burgers and that omnibus staple of every unhealthy meal, bacon! Bacon! Bacon!

I consider bacon an essential component in every tasty meal. Describe any meal — any activity — with the word “bacon” and it automatically improves.

There’s bacon pizza, bacon burgers, bacon lasagna; and you can get creative with things like bacon commute, bacon Happy Hour, bacon church — “Come for the worship, stay for the bacon!” 

Or even bacon sex — “Come for the sex, stay for the bacon!”

See, I’d eaten healthy for most of my adult life and then was blindsided by news that it really hadn’t mattered. You’re still eligible for any number of nasty maladies that mock your motivations to maintain a sleek profile in tight jeans.

So for the past 18 month I’ve eaten like Elvis (see link below).

What’s interesting is the number of folks who now go out of their way to declare just how great I look. They seem sincere, but I wonder how many of them are just trying to make feel better without having to go to the expense of having to buy me liquor.

Well, there’s only one way to find out. Too bad it’s still a bit nippy to start showing up to the Tin Lizzy in the ol’ Speedo. 

But then I began to detect obvious flaws in the logic behind my damn-the-torpedos diet, one by my 19-year-old daughter instigated what we’ll call her “cookie intervention.”

“Dad, do you want to die of a massive heart attack?”

Yes, I said. That’s exactly what I’m hoping to do. A chest-clutching heart attack is a bucket list way to go. More like a kick-the-bucket list way to go, but you get the point.

But my heart is not yet so cushioned with fatty tissue that it cannot be moved by a daughter’s love — even when a cynic might confuse her sassy admonitions for  patricidal nagging.

So I told her I’d resume eating healthy fork foods.

Or would I?

Because as I was in the midst of reacquainting myself with the fork, a good buddy from my Nashville Banner days messaged me with an epiphany about innovative tableware. He was at a fast food chicken joint and felt compelled to rhapsodize

“It’s just just such a joy to hold and behold!”

I had to read it twice to ascertain he wasn’t talking about the birth of a new grandchild.

In fact, he was talking about …

The Spork! 

It’s the Swiss Army knife of knifeless utensils 

He was eager to learn the history of the hybrid utensil and because he was my first Alpha editor, I reflexively viewed his request as as assignment. So here goes …

The spork was in 1874 invented by Philonious T. Spork.

I jest. But I wanted to include at least one libel or falsehood in a story I knew my old editor would read just for old time’s sake. 

In fact, Samuel W. Francis was on Feb. 4, 1874, issued U.S. patent no. 147,119. So the spork’s been around for two years longer than the first internal combustion engine.

This is in contrast to the chop stick which is estimated to be between 4,000- and 5,000 years old and thrives despite the fact it is the least efficient/most potentially embarrassing way to convey food from plate or bowl to mouth.

It’s no wonder so many chop stick advocates are thin.

I think my friend is hoping that if I highlight the spork here on the blog I can boost its profile, maybe make it some dough. You know like I’ve been trying in vain to do for myself since 2008.

Either way it’s all just some Monday morning food for thought and now it’s done.

Stick a spork in it. 

Related ….