Monday, August 31, 2020
• Bob Dylan is 79. He's been singing "Knocking on Heaven's Door" since 1973. Who else thinks when he passes on & knocks on heaven's door, they’re gonna say, "It's just that Dylan kid again. He's been knock-knock-knockin' on heaven's door for 47 years. Just ignore him. He'll eventually go away."
• Can’t disagreeing on policy be enough? Do you have to say your opponents are blood-sipping pedophiles intent on elevating Satan? You're making hating you right back far too easy.
• Constitutional scholars on all the Sunday news shows advising what to do if Trump loses election and refuses to leave the White House. What to do? Barricade him IN. He can't leave. Then tell him you're cutting the cable.
• An idealistic young friend sheepishly confided in me she dreams of becoming a Supreme Court justice. I told her not everyone can become a Supreme Court justice, but everyone can live in ways that'll ensure they're treated with the same respect as one.
• The only thing getting me through this toxic divisiveness is the knowledge that come Nov. 4, all our differences will be set aside - best man won - and we shall march forward together & solve ALL our nation's problems. Because we're ALL Americans.
Kidding! We're screwed.
• New Muppet show (Disney +) getting rave reviews with one critic calling it "uproarious, joyful & heartfelt." Me, I'm tickled anytime a creation described as "heartfelt" comes with a felt heart.
• Oh, Facebook, so stingy with your 7 measly emoji! Don't you realize most of us feel 7,000 emotions when we ask ourselves, "Has enough time lapsed since the last time I checked Facebook?”
• I’ll be despondent all week knowing county fair canceled. Deprives me of opportunity of standing in front of rabbit exhibit & singing, "Can ... Any Bunnny ... Find Me .. Some Bunnny Tooo Luvvv? Some Bunny! (some bunny) Some Bunny! (some bunny) Find Me Some Bunny to Love!”
• I’d like to thank the rest of the world for putting up with historic upheaval, civil unrest and more than 773K deaths just so we Democrats here in the US can get rid of Trump. We promise to return you to your regularly scheduled programming Nov. 4.
• Teaching the value of writing to people who don't read is like trying to teach fish the value of fresh air
• Toilet paper hoarders beware: it ain't all it's cracked up to be and sooner or later you're bound to hit bottom.
• I’d like to see Trump deliver Biden's acceptance speech and Biden Trump's. Imagine the eye rolls, the sarcasm, the body language mockery. It'd be as insightful as it was entertaining.
• Even in normal times, most well-off people live lives of deep ingratitude. Ask them to count their blessings and many will begin the count with negative numbers.
• Given our inability to agree on even basic facts, I believe we're on course that in the next few weeks every other American will be able to at any time wear an "I'm With Stupid" T-shirt and be indisputably correct .
• Help me understand: What do people who don't like Bob Dylan talk about when there's one of those uncomfortable lulls in the conversation?
Friday, August 21, 2020
I’ve made the decision to use the currently inflammatory word “faggot” without coy deceptions — not because Cincinnati broadcaster Thom Brennamen got into trouble for using it.
Because Winston Churchill did not.
Brennaman is losing lucrative gigs left and right for saying into a hot mic that Kansas City was one of the “fag capitals of the world.”
Silly me. I always dreamed of going to KC for barbecue.
I know I’m diminished by the admission, but the instant I heard his name, my first thought was, “Faggot.”
See, I knew Thom. We tended bar together at The Nickelodeon, the most popular bar in Athens, Ohio, where we both attended Ohio University from 1981-85.
To me he was never just Thom. No was, he “that fag Thom,” or in reference to his fraternity, “Thom the Beta fag.” It was all very juvenile, although I do recall once seeing on a bar chalk board the clever “Thom is ghay.”
If you judged by my friends declarations, the gay population in Athens back in the ’80’s was pushing 60 percent.”
The social world wasn’t so much black or white as it was cool or gay. Everything was one or the other.
Tom Petty was cool (and not just because he spelled Tom without the superfluous “h”). Duran Duran? Gay Gay.
Was Cincinnati gay? It was The Queen City, wasn’t it? The Reds were gay so their famous announcer, Marty Brennaman, had to be. We figured he must have been on some sort of gay sabbatical when he fathered Thom.
What was pure cool? Me and my buddies.
About six of us worked at The Nick. Looking back, it was the best job I ever had. We were like kings, deciding who did and did not get served. We picked the tunes, made good tips, drank for free and exhibited a carefree kind of camaraderie that the girls found irresistible.
Well, irresistible at least to the girls who weren’t gay.
Thom was part of this happy mix. What strikes me most in hindsight is how little an impression this soon-to-be-famous man made.
We never shared a laugh, engaged a prank or fought over a chick (can I even say “chick” anymore?).
It was like he believed this really cool job with all these really great guys was just a tedious way station towards a future assured to be filled with lucrative network gigs at high-profile events, free golf, lusty babes, etc..
And he was prophetic. That’s exactly how it happened
Sure, his duties would take him to the occasional fag capital, but as long as he didn’t announce the now toxic-pejorative, he needn’t worry. Why would he?
Thom was ghay, but he wasn’t shtupid.
So I say all this and now I surprise myself by saying the dominant emotion I’m now feeling isn’t glee.
It’s pity. It’s forgiveness.
Sure, he was a lousy bartender, a surprisingly colorless co-worker for a man who’d go on to broadcast color sportscasts to millions.
But he seems like a decent man.
I do not believe he should be burned at the stake — especially when no less a grand wordsmith than Winston Churchill wrote about stake-burnings fueled by pyramids of faggots.
It was he who in his excellent 1956 book, “History of the English-Speaking Peoples,” wrote of the execution of Joan of Arc (1412-1431):
“High upon the pyramid of faggots the flames rose toward her and the smoke of doom wreathed and curled.”
Thus in just 64 years the term “pyramid of faggots,” has gone from a description of a bundle of sticks to something that conjures, I guess, a nimble troupe of homosexual acrobats.
Who knows what faggot will mean in 2080?
My point is I don’t think guys like me and Thom were prejudice. We didn’t mean anything by it.
So go ahead and describe us both with an anatomical word whose meaning even time stands powerless to alter.
We’re not prejudiced.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
If I were to write exclusively about all the stuff that dismays me I’d have to write five times a day through at least, well, dis May.
Zoom meetings, mask etiquette, fan-less sports broadcasts, Fauci-bashing, arid forecasts and the fact that any day now we’re bound to hear Paul McCartney sing, “Simply Having a Wonderful Christmastime!”
But there’s one dismay I simply can’t let go without addressing, and this is an address about things that require proper postage.
Quit sowing doubt about the United States Post Office!
I love the post office for all it’s shoe leather glories and nitty-gritty idiosyncrasies. Plus, its straight-faced bureaucratic administration makes it a dandy target for pranks.
Like the time I in 1996 when I mailed a set of false teeth.
Not false teeth in a box. Just false teeth.
It was part of a stunt story I was asked to do by rascally editors at National Enquirer. They wanted to see if the post office would deliver common — uncommon, really — items if the addresses were put right on the items, stamped, and just dropped without explanation in the corner mailbox.
Other items included a toupee, a coconut, a rubber snake and a big bag of goo.
Delivery success rate? One hundred percent!
Every step along the way, the system indiscriminately treated each oddball item with the same due care as if it were a tax refund or other important government document.
The false teeth belonged to my late grandfather. He removed them from the mailbox, popped them straight into his mouth and began to devour multiple ears of corn on the cob.
Papa loved his fresh summer corn.
The inspiration for my next postal prank had a wintry cast.
I remember enjoying the kind of Florida lark where you want to rub it in to all your snow-bound buddies. To do so, in those pre-internet/live stream days you’d often resort to that charming staple, the scenic post card.
I bought about a dozen Florida-themed ones; about half with palm trees, beach scapes, manatees ’n’ shit. The rest were basically soft core porn, babes in bikini — fairly innocuous stuff. Nothing you’d think that would jolt the testosterone of your typical postal carrier.
But not when that postal carrier is, well, a typical male man.
Because I soon detected an obvious pattern. The sexy post cards were taking 5 to 7 days longer to get delivered than the scenic innocents — and most of the sexy’s had thumbtack holes in them.
The implications were clear: Some of the men were snatching the “Sunset Over Cleavage” pictures and securing them above their work stations so they could get their jollies while mind-numbing streams of bills, periodicals and other funtional mail went whizzing by.
Who could blame them?
I needed an official postal response as to why the sexies took longer.
“Pure coincidence,” was the answer.
I asked what would happen if we repeated the experiment.
“The men and women of the USPS would be grateful for your patronage.”
I asked how the thumbtack holes appeared in the fleshy ones, but marred not one the sexies. Did he consider that, too, a “coincidence.”
“No,” he said, never breaking character, “I’d say that was, er, flukey!”
I think my best idea regarding the post office wasn’t about making me money. Rather it could make them money.
Introducing vanity zip codes!
I reasoned that, like vanity license plates, local governments would pay extra for zip codes that matched their promotional themes.
The idea stemmed from dealing with my late mother’s dementia. She kept mailing us letters that never arrived. She was forgetting the zip code.
“It’s hard remembering five numbers,” she’d say.
She had dementia, but I remember thinking, you know, she’s right. It easier to remember one number instead of five.
It’s how we almost moved the whole family to tiny Newton Falls, Ohio, home to the easiest to remember zip code in the USA: 44444.
The only easier-to-remember number is likely 12345 in Schenectady, N.Y. Of course, living there would mean forever having to spell Schenectady and that would never do.
The link to the original post is down below. I’d encourage you to read it, as well as the other posts. Each fairly bristles with fresh insights, few of which are evident here.
I make no apologies.
I think readers will understand that when one writes about the post office it is unavoidable to every once in a while mail it in.
Thursday, August 6, 2020
The last time I had my right leg — and that’s the ol’ ass kicker — orthopedically immobilized was 1978.
I was captain and star defenseman for the Mt. Lebanon Blue Devils varsity hockey team. I intercepted a neutral zone pass and broke in to score what would be the sudden death game winner.
Intent on stopping me, two Keystone Oaks goons tripped me so viciously they broke my leg in three places. Didn’t matter. I still scored and won the game. Through my pain, I remember cheerleaders rushing the ice to carry me to the ambulance where they took turns feeding me grapes and whispering what they were going to do to me on prom night.
Only about 30 percent of that story is factual. I thought I’d entertain you with some sports heroics and romance before getting to the dud of a tale as to why my right leg is in the boot above.
Here goes …
I was strolling across my lawn. I slipped on a slight hill. Couldn’t walk. That’s it. No derring-do. I was probably a good four miles from the nearest cheerleader.
With the basics as innocuous as that, there are bound to be extenuating circumstances. Here they are with the percentage of truthful blame I’m assigning…
• Uneven terrain (30 percent) — Our property is in the woods so although it is relatively flat, there are roots, gopher holes, dog poop and because I remain casual about lawn care there are vast savannahs of unkempt lawn shaggy enough to conceal one of those double decker buses they show in the London post cards.
• Sandals (20 percent) — As a concession to summer ease, I’ve been wearing sandals even though I’m convinced sandals ought to be worn exclusively on the beach or else they’d be called dirtals or grassals.
•Dimly-lit sidewalk (10 percent) — I know that sidewalk like the back of my hand, which now has a scrape on it from the fall.
• Parkinson’s Disease (40 percent) — Once you start to compensate for a malady-imposed limp, it throws the whole band off. My band’s been out-of-synch for nearly three years now (think The Who trying to replace Keith Moon). Limp compensation turns you into a beer can chicken without the half-empty Budweiser can shoved up its ass. You become wobbly, un-stable, which I guess if you ask any honest chicken it’d be a small price to pay for avoiding the aluminum violation.
• Alcohol (100 proof) — Yes, it was a Friday evening and I’d been drinking, but if you think I’m blaming Wild Turkey on my fall then I guess this is your first time here. So I invite you to consider this a blind date that is going to either end in acrimony in two minutes or on Monday in Vegas with you and me getting hitched by Elvis in The Chapel of Love. But know this: if ever I throw good bourbon under the bus, I’ll be diving right behind it with a straw, some shaved ice and a heart full of soulful admiration for the essential Kentuckians who made the elixir.
So when did this happen? Last night? Night before last?
Nope. It happened 34 days ago. When did I finally go to the doctor?
What can I say? I thought it would get better on its own. I thought it would magically disappear. I figured it was what it was.
In short, I treated my foot the way Trump treats a global pandemic.
We’re like a lot of guys in that we don’t go to the doctor unless we see blood rhythmically pumping from a severed limb.
“Well, the good news,” the doctor said, “is that nothing’s broken. The bad news is you tore up a bunch of ligaments and suffered needlessly for a month when you could’ve been healing properly.”
He gave me the above boot to help. It’s made of durable space-age polymers that practically ensure I’ll fall again, (likely Tin stairs, Friday, soused on Wild Turkey) and will break every single bone in my body — except the ones inside the boot.
On the plus side, it’s great for crushing beer cans. Especially empties!
I thank you for your heartfelt concern. I’m sure everything’s going to work out fine. My foot will heal and together we’ll march into a future that’s brighter for us all.
(Fact-wise, that last paragraph barely hits 50 percent).
Monday, August 3, 2020
I wondered what was going on inside the fly’s head as it flew straight inside mine.
Was it a fearless scout? A fugitive? Or maybe a Jedi insect probing Death Star weak spots?
It was an odd sensation because — BUZZZZ!!! — I knew it was going to penetrate my outer ear about two seconds before it did. I’ve heard it’s that way with some combat veterans who say they knew the bullet was about to strike before it did.
I was enjoying respite on the back porch and reading “Into The Blue: Boldly Going Where Capt. Cook has Gone Before,” the terrific, 2002 book by Tony Horwitz, one of my very favorite authors. I was very sad when he died last year at age 60.
Had a fly ever entered his head it would have been treated to brilliance.
What a fly so driven by mission zealotry hoped to find in my head, I have no idea.
I imagine being in my head like being on one of those forlorn wagon trains through desolate stretches of Nevada where all you see for landmarks are the bleached bones of desiccated cattle. No signs of life.
Nearest Sheetz 4.5 miles!
I can’t imagine being inside my head would be very appealing. It’s full of distracting thoughts about things like, well, flies.
It was I who in 2017 after many hours staring out the window came up with the line, “I’d like to be a fly on the wall any time flies on walls express their bafflement why any human would ever want to be a fly on the wall.”
Know what I did after coming up with that line?
Took the rest of the day off!
Yes, I thought I’d expended all my brain power on that line. The tank was empty.
Who thinks like that?
I’ve many, many times been called a shithead and that would certainly attract flies.
But this fly displayed an urgency you don’t see with flies at a poop picnic.
It was like he was being chased by a posse.
It hit like a meteor strike. I went in an instant from being perfectly relaxed to manic motion like I was in the running for some primitive dance contest.
I began jumping up and down and batting my head with both hands. From afar, I’m sure it was hysterical.
Understand, I didn’t know what kind of insect it was. Was I about to be stung?
I didn’t know.
I once talked to a stranger — a roofer by trade — who had a bee fly up his nose and sting him. He nearly died.
I told him I could only think of one worse place to be stung.
Well, worse for a man.
The internet is full of stories of insects entering ears or noses to lay eggs or spin webs or just enjoy a siesta.
As I was reading about Cook and his randy crew of situational sodomites, I wondered if the fly was a fearless explorer seeking a comfortable place to colonize.
Honestly, I didn’t think most of these thoughts until after the danger had passed.
After about 30 maddening seconds and with a combination of jarring, prying and pulverization, I was able to dislodge what turned out to be a common house fly from deep within my ear canal.
Still kicking, it fell to the porch.
I felt immediate regret.
I’ve spent the better part of my life trying to attain for inside my head the perfect natural buzz and what do I do when one’s delivered right to the door step?
I squash it with the sole of my sandal. Goodbye buzz!
That’s enough for now. This unplanned diversion’s already set me back and you all know what that means.
I gotta fly.