Sunday, May 31, 2020

May tweets: Serious, silly & sexy (1)

• Conservative whites who become livid when wished Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas think liberal blacks over-reacting about unarmed blacks getting murdered by conservative whites.

• Leonardo da Vinci said, “The  human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.” Given the scope of his admirations it’s surprising his most famous work is Mona Lisa and not Mona Lisa’s feet.

• I remain baffled that the tasteless phrase "wouldn't kick her out of bed for eating crackers" persists. I've never encountered a gent so refined as to ask any cracker-eating female to leave his bed once she got in. In fact, if there were two willing women and one had crackers and the other did not, and he had to pick one or the other, guaranteed, most men would invite the one with the crackers to get in. Lesson: if you're a woman prone to promiscuity always, just in case, keep a sleeve of crackers handy.

• I awoke from a dream it was the night before when I'd awoken from a dream it was the night before. Now I'm confused about what day it is, if I'm asleep or awake or if I exist at all. I'd ask fellow quarantinies to pinch me but fear inviting violence could escalate …

• There's something so unnerving about being engaged in a life-and-death struggle against an enemy our soldiers can't confuse or infuriate with a well-timed moon.                                                                                                                                                        

• People strum guitars. A guitar is an inSTRUMent. Which word came first?

• In light of our reckless eagerness to end prudent safety measures, I'll as of today cease writing "Stay safe!" and will instead begin concluding my correspondence with, "... and try not to make out with anyone too suspicious!”
• Yet another work week has passed and I still don't know what avowed nudists wear for Casual Fridays.

• Have you used your quarantine time wisely? Learned a new language? Fixed up the basement? No? There's still plenty of time to change the world. How? Write a letter to someone who made a difference in your life. A teacher. An aunt. An old lover. You'll change the world.

• Think of all the food you ate over the last 24 hours. Was any of it free? Now think of all the media you consumed to feed your brain. Did you pay even a dime for any of it? Donations always welcome at

• I so dislike being vertical I'm thinking of having a surgically-inserted kick stand so I can always lean without fear of falling over.

• One benefit about being carefree is serious people never look at you and say, "Hon, let's go sit next to that guy. He looks real serious, too.”

• Leaders of most major religions preach peace and the breaking of breads; many congregants choose hate and the breaking of heads.

• I wonder how much it'll dismay future historians to have to type the phrase, "... then President Trump tweeted …"

• Trump supporters who think everything will be fine if he "just stops tweeting" crack me up.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Birthdays; Dylan & this blog & my Michael Jordan story

This past weekend this blog turned 12 and Bob Dylan, 79. It is pure coincidence, but I’ve always used Dylan as a creative benchmark against which I measure the blog’s success.

By that standard the blog is clearly superior to Dylan and has been since Day 1.

The blog, you see, was communicating in complete sentences since its inception, something Dylan didn’t do until he was probably 18 months.

He didn’t write “Like a Rolling Stone” until he was 24. The blog was just 4 when it came up with this gem: “Loud bulimics make the worst neighbors. They can never keep it down.”

Just imagine what greatness the blog will display when its voice changes and it begins to sprout pubic hairs.

Of course, it’s all speculative. Another difference: The boy who became Bob Dylan eventually matured.

No indication that’s in the cards for this blog.

A friend — known her since high school — sweetly wondered if I’m feeling okay. She said she detected a lesser visibility on the blog and through social media.posts

Fear not. I’m fine. I’ve not tested COVID  positive. My Parkinson’s symptoms are stable. I’m not an unarmed black man walking down a Minneapolis sidewalk (or one jogging through Brunswick, Georgia/ eating Skittles in Sanford, Florida, etc).

Generally, it’s a good rule of thumb that the less you hear from me here, the more I’m thriving in places that make a difference to our accountant.

In fact, yesterday was the best day of my career. And it’s grown-up stuff, not like someone gave me a coupon for some free Cheese Stix down at the Sheetz, the ubiquitous area convenient mart that sells everything but sheets.

I’ll share the news with you next week.

—-   <<  >>   —-

It was an ironic COVID pity that I was in a building with three bars and I couldn’t find a soul with whom to drink. 

“There are those who worship loneliness. I’m not one of them.” That might sound like me, but it’s not. It’s Bob Dylan, a quote on his website right below a news post announcing the cancelation of his summer shows.

Is this the end of his fabled Never Ending Tour? Begun June 7, 1988, Dylan has toured ever since. That’s 3,066 shows, the last being Dec. 8. What the hell is he going to do this summer without the road routine? He hasn’t been married since 1992 so there’s no mile-long honey-do list. Maybe he’s cultivating bonsai trees or binge-watching Ozarks.

It would be super cool if he read this blog and decided — what the hell? — I think I’ll stop by the Tin Lizzy and have a drink that guy whose blog was born the same day as me. It could happen. He’s very capricious.

I’ll let you know if he does. 

—-   <<  >>   —-

My Michael Jordan story: It was probably 2001. I was a contributing writer to flashy upstart Maximum Golf magazine. They asked me to snag a press pass for the Mario Lemieux celebrity tournament at Nevillewood C.C. near Pittsburgh. Matt Lauer, Charles Barkley and others from that crowd were there. But the biggest deal was MJ. My editors wanted me to score an exclusive interview with him.

My editors thought nothing of requesting the impossible

He was such hot stuff, the press was given instructions on how to deal with him. The instructions were, in essence, do not. Do not address him. Do not make eye contact. And do not even think of asking him a question.

We were to treat him as if he were invisible.

I couldn’t do it. I remember seeing him on the practice range and thinking, man, that is the most magnificent specimen of a human being I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t believe we were of the same species. Tall, perfectly proportioned, poised and rippling muscles from head to toe, he looked like something out of Greek mythology (if Greek mythology were integrated).

So I decided I had to mess with him.

As he began heading to the tee, a posse of 7 or 8 dumpy little white guys fell in to shield His Airness from me, a dumpy little white guy.

My press pass alerted them to my professional  menace. I spoke, “Mr. Jordan,” and held out a copy of the magazine as we walked briskly across the range. I remember one guy glaring at me and mouthing the words, “NO QUESTIONS!”

Too late.

“Sir, this is Maximum Golf Magazine. The Wall Street Journal just declared it the most exciting new sports magazine in the past 20 years …”

His security ring looked like they were eager to murder me. Jordan was so supremely stoic he seemed to deny my very existence. Still, I pressed on.
“I’d like to interview you for 10 minutes. In exchange, I promise we’ll put your picture on the cover of the next issue …

“We think it’ll make you famous.”

I’ve said funnier things, but situationally, it may have been the funniest thing I’ve ever said.

The group exploded with laughter. Where there had been tension, there was now unexpected delight. No one was laughing louder than Jordan. I sensed he doesn’t get to laugh a lot and my joke reminded him how wonderful surprise laughter feels.

Still laughing, he said, “Man call my agent!”

I never did. 
—-   <<  >>   —-

Think of all the food you ate over the last 24 hours. Was any of it free? Now think of all the media you consumed to feed your brain. Did you pay even a dime for any of it? Did it nourish or decay? Happy Birthday donations welcome here.

Or you can always buy a book or two. Or …

I still accept coupons for Sheetz Cheese Stix!

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

#ObamaGate: My theories, your conspiracies

I think it would be beneficial if scientists devoted their efforts to enlarging the coronavirus. I don’t mean statistically or theoretically. I’m talking about making each actual virus larger.

Like the size of a kickball.

We’re talking bigly.

See, one of the problems I see with coronavirus is you can’t see coronavirus. It’s invisible. Hidden enemy.

That means about half you bastards out there feel justified in denying it even exists. And that’s making those of us who believe in people like scientists and things like microscopes bat shit crazy.

I’m friends with about a dozen cranks who if they were diagnosed, hospitalized and done in by coronavirus would as their dying wish have their tombstone chiseled to read, “I STILL say it’s a hoax!”

Add their names to the roster of the dead, 92,258, most in the world and a ghoulish twist on the 2016 presidential boast “we’re gonna be so sick of winning.”

Will any of us be well enough to attend the traditional White House hamberder victory feast?

Kickball-sized viruses would unify this tragically divided country, reduce the virus population, and become a healthy, productive way for truth-doubting skeptics to blow off homicidal steam.

Right now, the coronavirus is 125 nanometers, that’s 125,000,000,000. It’s a really big number that denotes a really small menace. How small?

It’s about the size of the brains of most of the conspiracy-theorists who think they know what they’re talking about. 

We’re talking microscopic.

And it just takes one if ‘em to kill you. It can enter through your open mouth or eyes, etc.

You’d think that would be incentive to keeping our mouths shut, but no. In fact, people can’t seem to shut the hell up.

The dominance of one pandemic has unleashed another that misleads people into thinking they’re informed and the rest of us care what they have to say.

A kickball-sized covid would bounce off the heads of most people but if you, say,  refer to Dr. Fauci, as “the chief buffoon,” as Tucker Carlson does, any nearby virus will magically resize to Tic Tac dimensions and make a bee-line for your esophagus where it will latch on and have really tiny babies. 

And if they were kickball-sized they would bestow existential meaning to the lives of couch potato conspiracy theorists. 

If they saw a herd of the ball-sized viruses stampeding down the street, they could separate from the sofa and — cardio! — render pursuit. But not before strapping on the firearms!

It’ll be open season on the virus and our 2nd Amendment romantics will be able to open fire on anything covid-color running through the neighborhood.

They won’t even need to wait to see if there’s any security video of the target virus wandering unattended through an open construction site.

I mention this now because I’m fed up reading the conspiracy theories that end with the annihilation of people who think like me.

We believe the experts, think the suffering is legit, think a reasonable recovery doesn’t require sacrificial body counts. We think we should be working to wipe out the virus, not contrary Democratic governors in battleground states.

Sick of all the winning?

Man, I’m sick of all the dying.

Related …

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Stuff I'll do if I become Last Man on Earth

I was wondering what I’d do if things take a bad turn and I wind up being the last man on earth, which was the premise of an often-hilarious Will Forte show (2015-’18, Fox) called, duh, “Last Man on Earth.”

That’s how it feels some days. I miss both the refined and the rabble.

Here’s what I’d do assuming certain logistics left the joint reasonably functional and I become LMOE.

It’d be petty and makes zero no sense, I know, but the first thing I’m going to do is go around peeling Trump bumper stickers off all the cars. I’d engage in more political yapping if I believed I could change even one mind, but I don’t believe that’s possible.

So why prioritize removing Trump bumper stickers in a world devoid of all but me?

I have no idea.

I guess it’s just one of those itches that must be scratched.

After that I’m breaking into the library and assembling the old water bed right there by the circulation desk. I’ve always reveled in the cerebral peacefulness of of feeling at home in a good neighborhood library. Might as well take it to its logical extension.

I think I’ll continue to try and blog every other day or so. I’ll do this fully aware there’ll not be a single other person on Earth left to read the stupid thing. But there’ve been entire years when readership statistics made me feel like I was the only person on the planet so what’s the difference?

I’m going to tastefully loot the crap out of my favorite men’s stores, scooping up posh suits and other fine garments by the trunk load. I’ll awaken every morning to a proper grooming and spend the day dressed like a royal dandy.

Why would the last man on earth care how he dressed when there’ll be no one around to admire the finery?

He assumes there will there will still be plenty of mirrors.

I intend to joy ride the Gateway Clipper Majestic up and down Pittsburgh’s three rivers. And by “joy ride” I mean sink. I’m a big Titanic fan and will enjoy recreating scenes from the movie and pretending I care as the waters rise.

I plan on playing a lot of golf at a lot of golf courses like Augusta and Pebble Beach and, depending on the weather and the skeeters, playing naked because, well, why not?

One place I won’t play is Latrobe Country Club. Remember, I’ve been banned from the grounds (me and Ben Roethlisberger!) and I will abide by the ban (see link) until club officials come to their senses and apologize, which given the mortal logistics of sudden global depopulation, I just don’t see happening.

Just for kicks, I’ll head to Canton and the NFL Hall of Fame to do some creative rearranging that’ll emphasize the dominance of the Pittsburgh Steelers over the rest of the league.

Not sure what kind of vandalism will occur, but the bust of O.J. Simpson will not go undisturbed. 

One of my happiest experiences in what I’ll call my “crowded life,” was a honeymoon hot air balloon ride over Napa. I intend to take a solo balloon ride and hope I can figure out how to land the contraption before it blows out over the Atlantic.

I’ll run the bases barefoot at Yankee Stadium, bungee jump off the Golden Gate Bridge, and pin the speedometer as I cross the finish line at Indy

Oh, and I plan to learn to speak French so when I talk to myself  I’ll at least sound like a friendly stranger.

It’ll be a life so hollow it’ll have an echo all its own.

Maybe it’s getting to me. I miss seeing my friends. Heck, I’m starting to miss seeing my enemies.

It wasn’t uncommon a few short months ago to hear people complain how people can drive you nuts.

Some of us are learning the absence of them can, too.

Related …

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Help me name my shoe shine business!

This isn’t the first time I’ve had a proprietary hand at naming stuff. Throughout my life I’ve helped or outright named three businesses, two humans and one canine. Some have prospered better than others.

Our first dog was a sweet-souled Golden Retriever with near-zero evidence of having a brain. Val suggested we name him Casey. I suggested we name him Peev because sooner or later even the best in-home animals become pet Peevs.

Lost that one.

We’re were wisely old-fashioned about our babies. We  waited until they were below-the-waist popped out before the real-time gender reveal. Those were two of my most intense and bewilderingly wonderful moments of our lives. 

I named the youngest, primarily after alt-country troubadour Lucinda Williams and the middle name because it rhythmically fit between the other names. 

She is Lucinda Grace Rodell and she today is showing a darling affinity for stringed fretted instruments.

The first baby was trickier because we were convinced baby’d be a boy. 

Amazingly, I had Val convinced the perfect boy name was Buzz Sawyer (it still is).

I said Buzz to honor Buzz Aldrin, the second human to set foot on the moon and the least boring of them all. Sawyer for the Mark Twain allusions and because she at the time was into the hit show “Lost” and she had the hots for a character named Sawyer.

The core of my reasoning, however, was the kid would pick up the obvious nickname that the announcers would seize on, “… and here comes Buzz Saw Rodell ripping another hole in the beleaguered Patriot defense!”

It should come as no surprise that Val was heavily sedated when she nodded her agreement to my scheme.

Either way, we wound up with the precious baby we named Joselyn Rachel for reasons I now struggle to recall.

Business-wise, the results of my naming efforts have been spottier, which could explain why the results of those businesses have been mostly catastrophic.

My first travel writig business was almost called “Postcards from Paradise,” a name meant to evoke lovely destinations, but was, in fact, a shady cover for trying to get free trips. But a savvy older friend said the name was a giveaway for the fraud.

So at the last second I changed it to “Palm Features,” a name meant to evoke lovely destinations, but was, in fact, a shady cover for … Why Palm Features? Because my hands were always up-turned and reaching out for freebies.

Worst name ever? You’re reading it. “Eight Days to Amish,” a reference to how soon my precarious income will lead to exclusively fundamentalist lifestyle options. It’s hard to remember, a joke nobody gets …

I still love it.

That brings us to our latest professional enterprise: Shoe Shine Boy!

I’m totally serious.

I’m reaching out to contacts at law firms, doctors’ offices, etc, — any place prosperous men with feet gather to earn their livings.

Many of these men have nice shoes, but are too busy or indifferent to give them a proper shine. I believe on any given day these men would be willing to pay about $12 to get their dress shoes cared for.

I also plan on doing local pick-up.

I do think it could lead to handy pocketfuls of cash. Plus, it’s a hook I can add to the book proposal I’m putting together about men who appreciate fine footwear or as one friend put it, “male shoe whores.”

So I put together a top-of-the-head list for a bottom-of-the-leg business. Let me know what you think:

• I’m always drawn to the deep inside joke. Only maybe 1-out-of-10 would find this even mildly amusing. But I could see me using this as the introductory joke no matter what I pick …

“The Shining”

Heeere’s Johnnie ….

with your good-as-new shined shoes!

• Until I started this. I’d never known any man who shined his own shoes, much less an actual shoe shine professional. But the practice conjures real homey feelings. I was buying some polish at the Walgren’s and the check-out clerk just about came apart, “Oh, that takes me back to watching my grandfather shine his shoes. Such a happy memory.” I think it all stems from the idea that everything is disposable and seeing someone care for something others discard is heartening. This one plays off that …

“Front Porch Shoe Shine”

Out the door by breakfast, 
Shining by supper or sooner!

• I prefer the tagline to the main name, but you can’t have one without the other …

New Buddy Shoe Shine

Making Friends One Shine at a Time

• This one refers to my Parkinson’s with the idea word will get around the office I have the disease and customers will think, gee, let’s give the poor kid an extra buck. But it sounds too much like an ice cream shoppe …

Shakes ’n’ Shines!

• Another Hollywood reference. Most guys’ll get this. It would make a good T-Shirt with Joe Pesci on it …

Goodfella Shoe Shine

I Got My $#&%-in’ Shine Box!

I’m most fond of this one because it’s clever, like 8days2amish, perhaps too clever. It’s a play on the still popular 1983 Bonnie Tyler hit. Changing the spelling of the first word in the title so it would have a foot reference is just plain stupid but there’s no  one here to talk me out of it so I just did it anyway.

Toe-tal Eclipse of the Shoe

 Shines so Bright They Blind

So what do you think? Like any of these? Have any shoes that need shinin’?

Well, heeere’s Johnnie!

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Yes, we need testing, just not the kind you think ...

So much of our tottering economy’s hoped-for rebound is pegged to testing. It’s all we’re hearing.

The states need tests. The municipalities need tests. The hospitals need tests.

I see many restaurants and businesses are looking to gun-like devices that when pointed at a potential customer’s forehead will light up when that person is registering a telltale fever.

My fear is that in these contentious times when you point a gun-shaped device at anyone’s forehead many will in court-sanctioned self-defense draw a real weapon and come up blastin’.

America 2020: Where you don’t need a fever to act like a hot head!

Still, by all means, let’s test. Let’s test the elderly. The young. The polite social distancer and the in-your-face protester. Test the city dweller and test her country cousin. 

Test! Test! Test!

But let’s be sure we have a test that determines the outcome that matters most.

PATIENT: “I thought this coronavirus test was a swab up the nose and we’re done. Why am I hooked up to these monitors and why’s my right hand on this Bible?”

TECH: “This isn’t that kind of test. Now just please truthfully answer the questions. Do you post political upper-case rants on FaceBook?”

PATIENT: “If I see a situation that needs a little homespun common sense then I exercise my 1st Amendment rights and,  yes, I sometimes for emphasis use ALL-CAPS.”

NURSE: “Have you ever stepped in front of an elderly shopper to snag the last roll of toilet paper when you knew you already had sufficient toilet paper at home?”

PATIENT: “Well, there was that one time — but that was before the Don Patron was closing up!”

NURSE: “Do you ever watch the COVID-19 death toll demographics and secretly cheer when it momentarily seems like it’s wiping out a larger proportion of your favored presidential candidate’s opponents?”

PATIENT: “Hey, it’s God’s will …”

NURSE: “That’s enough. I’m afraid I have bad news …”


NURSE: “Our tests indicate that unless you change your core behavior, there’s a 96 percent chance your soul is going to Hell.”

PATIENT: “Ninety-six percent? Jesus H. Christ!”

NURSE: “Uh, taking the Lord’s name in vain just bumped it up another point. Oh! And you’re also testing positive for coronavirus.”

PATIENT: “Mother-&*%#!!!”

NURSE: “ … 98 …”

Imagine how much better people would behave if they took a test that would within reason relate a percentage likelihood that their soul was headed for eternal damnation. 

All but the most irredeemable would undergo overnight personality transformations that would make old Ebenezer seem like a spiritual stoic.

They’d shelter the homeless, nurse the sick and year-round spread the cheer of the Christmas season.

God bless us, Everyone!

We live our lives like there are no consequences to our rampant incivilities.

A simple test calculating the chance we’ll wind up in Hell might change that. And who wouldn’t welcome even a little more civility?

Because my fear isn’t the results of tests that calculate the chances we’re all going to Hell.

My fear is we’ll all wake up one day and realize Hell’s here.

Related …