Friday, October 30, 2020

Twick 'r Tweet! Best of the Month


• Imagine how different society would be if every time we turned to social media, instead of disparagement, nonsense or vitriol, we received, ahhh, enlightenment. Let it begin with me ... Rhode Island isn't even Rhode Isthmus!

• I wonder about the 1st time someone said, "You know, there's a 1st time for everything," and if the conversants were at all aware of the irony.

• Trump expected to name a dozen potential Supreme Court justice candidates. If I were Biden, I'd counter with just one  ... Merrick Garland.

• I know it's unrefined for someone who aspires to sophistication of manners, but I sometimes wolf down my meals. My daughters are far daintier. It's more like they poodle theirs down. "Poodle Down!" would be a great name for some don't ask/don't tell military rom-com.

• I’m confused by all these people who say the world is about to end; that Judgement Day is nigh. If you truly believe that, shouldn't you be nicer? I mean someone is likely keeping score. I know if I was soon to be judged for all eternity, I'd be on my best behavior.

• It’s entirely possible to kick a squirrel right in the nuts and hurt only his feelings. Hers, too.

• This election is convincing me the first time many Americans will believe in science is when it is applied to the lift-off that takes them safely away from this planet which through their neglect and indifference has become an uninhabitable cinder.

• I’d like to see Hollywood announce it was releasing what it calls a period movie and have it be solely about punctuation.

• The new Rt. 30 Sheetz near Latrobe is being constructed so quickly I wonder if the bread'll have enough time to get properly stale.

• When even the mundane are deemed worthy of demonization Hell itself becomes pedestrian.

• Perspective: as godawful as 2020 has been, guaranteed, in 2041 our travails will be one paragraph in school history books that'll be boring future students. That is assuming 2020 doesn't take a really dark turn that'll mean 2041 never happens.

• Because it would suggest modernization and would require the change of just a handful of letters, I suggest we change the name of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center to the Walter O'Reilly Army Medical Center.

• I would think one of the most difficult things in nature would be being a praying mantis and trying to explain to your parents that you've lost your faith.

• Woke up this morning on fire with ambitions to accomplish great things. Nature had other plans. Entered Tin Lizzy office and was attacked by a crazed bird that flew in and now finds escape impossible. I bear no malice. Same thing's happened to me countless times.

• 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.

• Sure this all sucks, but #LookingontheBrightSide, it's sure to yield great movies and books for the suvivors to years from now enjoy. Remember: without the global cataclysm of WWII, we never would have had "Saving Private Ryan.”

• Jeff Bezos is worth $178.8 billion. You and I are, well, worth less. But there'll be hell to pay if I ever catch anyone saying we're worthless.

• Fancy shaving ads about ease of accessing those "hard-to-reach" places crack me up. Hard to reach? I'm shaving my face, not the gnarled butt of some Mongolian yak 20,000 feet up the Himalayas.

• The people who make so-called Mega Stuft Oreos suffer from a serious lack of imagination.

• If Spring is when Mother Nature puts on her make-up, then Fall is when she starts climbing into her coffin.

• Told daughter, 14, Eagles "Hotel California" was originally going to be called "Hotel Pennsylvania" but The Golden State came up with tax breaks to secure naming rights. Her scornful reaction made me nostalgic for the days when daughters would fall for any line of crap.

• I’d like to know the first words of souls arriving in Hell when their last words on Earth were, "Goodbye cruel world!”

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

• Technology is the willful and mutually agreed-upon demolition of charm and all that was once beloved as quaint.

• What would happen if you took a Geiger counter to a Geiger family reunion?

• Speculators envision a day when toilet paper is traded like coffee, milk or other commodities. They are mistaken. Toilet paper cannot become a commodity. Toilet paper is a commode-ity.

• If I labored in the janitorial services and spent a lot of time scrubbing toilets I'd spend a lot of that time wondering whose bright idea it was to make every toilet gleaming white. Isn't there maybe a better color, one that matches fixture functionality. Like maybe say, oh, I don’t know ,,, brown?

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

The dog that turned me into a cat person


NOTE: I swear I strode down a hundred hallways and tried a thousand doors in the hopes one of them would lead me to a more wholesome conclusion, rather than the filthy double entendre of which I’m here to preemptively warn. But none of them worked and I’d already spent too much time on it. I figured a fair warning like this could alert the delicates to either brace themselves or seek controversy-free Sudoku diversion. Why preserve something racy enough to potentially alienate precious readers. I thought it was funny.

(657 words)

Speculation that the world’s loudest dog barked himself deaf increased when an actor called a TV dog named Snickers and our Snickers didn’t look up.

The name is uncommon enough you’d think a real dog named Snickers would look up from his 24/7 duty of licking the spot where his marble-sized testicles used to be to see if they’d made a show about him. 

Like maybe a story about how an annoying little yip dog was introduced to a cranky writer and steals his heart and becomes the playful inspiration for a string of best sellers.

That’s right. It’d be fiction.

I’ve tried to like this dog, honest. I believed the prophesies of those who said he’d grow on me.

Ten years hence and he still’s not grown on me.

Peed on me, many times, sure. But not grown on me.

It’s a family consensus that Snickers hates men and there’s plenty of supportive evidence. If a man comes to the house, Snickers will bark and snarl until the visitor departs to, I guess, rev his vehicle up to 100 and drive straight into the trunk of a sturdy oak.

He’s so alert he barks anytime even a single leaf strikes — and we live in the woods!

Snickers is as near as we can figure a terrier/chihuahua mix, which sounds like the plot of ‘90s canine rom-com. He weighs 17 pounds.

Your typical ant — and is there any other kind? — weighs 1 mg and is capable of lifting 5,000 times it’s own body weight.

It’d be like you and me rolling up our sleeves and lifting Cleveland.

Snickers’s bark is like that. It’s like the combined 150- decibel air horns of 5,000 trucks condensed into one-sixteenth of a second and pointed straight into my ears.

In the instant before I’m certain my heart is about to detonate, I imagine Snickers in a white smock administering an EKG that reacts to each bark so violently the needle flies off and starts spinning around the room like a ghost helicopter.

A good dog likes to relax near warm fires.

Snickers likes to start them.

And everything’s an emergency. He never saunters or ambles. It’s always like he’s racing to be first to the 5-alarm blaze down at the local orphanage. Call him to sit with you on the couch and he comes running, his nails clicking on the hardwood floors like spent shell casings on the rifle range.

It’s like living with a squirrel that barks.

Of course, if the kids read this they’ll think I’m a monster. They can’t understand how come I don’t love Snickers. 

If they only knew …

With me and Snickers it’s personal. 

I know his dirty little secret.

He wants to screw my wife!

Or at least her leg.

Before Snickers, Val and I used to sleep all smoushed up together, a dual position commonly referred to as spooning. And it was marvelous.

Then along came Snickers. Why he chose to sleep with us and not the girls, I do not know. But he began to borrow right between us. Then once he’d severed the bond, he’d lay in a way to maximize our distance.

It was apparently all part of his plan.

Because now about once a week now, he’ll spring to life and start humping Val. Right in front of me!

I’d say it takes real balls to do that right in the same bed as her husband but he hasn’t had real balls since 2013.

And just like that I’m an unwitting participant in one of nature’s most perverse threesomes. 

That’s the story of the dog that turned me into a cat person.

A cat doesn’t bark or put its housemates on edge with his nervous tics.

Plus, as a heterosexual male, if I’m ever forced into a menage a trois involving a domesticated animal I’d at least want a shot at a little pussy.

Related …

All dogs go to heaven? Even Snickers?

Blaming Conservative Joe for nearly killing Snickers

Casey, our bum-sniffing dog

RIP Buster, the 19-year-old cat

Daughter, 7, says Bible says I must love our dog

Monday, October 19, 2020

Parkinson's update & where do they get those long drug names


(671 words)

My neurologist just prescribed me Amantadine to go along with my Pramipexole and Levothyroxine. Or as I call them, the little green one, the pink one and the medium tan one that tastes like the bottom of a farmer’s boot.

That’s three pills, 17 syllables.

The Amantadine is supposed to improve dexterity in my left arm, which Parkinson’s has rendered as useless as a deli window salami. Side effects include vivid hallucinations in 50 percent of the patients.

An Amantadine-taking friend of mine warned me of this. He has them. I asked him to describe what he sees.

“You see whatever’s most on your mind. With me, it’s roofers. We’re having new roofs put in on three of my properties so I’ve been thinking a lot about roofers.”

I wonder if I’ll start seeing naked waitresses bringing me trays of food and drink. That’s been a persistent fantasy of mine since puberty and the years have done nothing to diminish its potency.

Either way, I’m glad we don’t live in a house with a leaky roof.

There was good news from my neurologist. She says I’m beating Parkinson’s. Those were her exact words: “You’re beating Parkinson’s.”

“I can tell by looking at you you’re doing great. Still strong. Most patients at your stage (5 years since symptoms appeared) are showing significant struggles. You display none of those. That bodes very well for your future.”

I’m gratified, but I wonder if she’s taking drugs with side effects that include overly exuberant diagnoses to anxious patients.

I don’t feel like I’m beating Parkinson’s. Distracting it, maybe.

I know it’s one of those things that’ll be uppermost in my mind until the day I die, which leads me to fear I one day might transmit the disorder to all those naked waitresses I’m hoping will appear in my hallucinations.

I wonder how long it’ll be before the number of pills I take outnumber the number of fruits and vegetables I eat.

Or alcoholic beverages I guzzle.

I think every pill comes with prudent instructions to avoid alcohol.

To which I say, how the hell am I supposed to do that? I work in a building that has three bars lavish with booze. I daily stroll past two of them on my way up the stairs only occasionally succumbing to temptation’s pull. 

What am I supposed to do? Heave a grappling hook up onto the roof and scale the walls?

No. I’ll not let a little pill boss me around. I invite it into my body — my party — and I expect it to play nice with the other guests. 

I think I’ll begin to worry when I top 100 syllables in daily pharmaceuticals.

A big chunk of that could come if I’m ever diagnosed with melanoma. The skin disease is treated with Talimogene laherparepvec (tal IM oh jeen la her pa REP vek). I imagine the name hula hoops twice around the little pill bottle.

Then there’s OnabotulinumtoxinA, which sounds less like a treatment for debilitating motor skills and more like one of the brain puzzlers used to stump final round contestants at the National Spelling Bee.

Where do these names come from and do the smock-wearing namers ever try to name a pill Phil?

Well, it turns out the naming of a generic drug is highly regulated — and informative. Each syllable tells a story.

Reliable web sites — are there any other kind? — say “Pharmaceutical names are assigned according to a scheme in which specific syllables in the drug name (called stems) convey information about the chemical structure, action, or indication of the drug.”

So, conceivably, there are men and women who have committed to memory vowel-devouring words of up to 20 letters. I have no idea of how to identify these people by sight but if one day one them becomes my partner in a high-stakes game of Scrabble, man, you’re going to hear about it.

Because a rose by any other name is still a rose.

Same goes for Dapagliflozin.

Related …

So, okay, I have Parkinson’s

The suicide pill 

Prince & the Nation that pees purple

In the ring: fighting Parkinson’s with boxing

Deep sixing heart attack plans

Thursday, October 15, 2020

My KDKA spot goes pfft

(726 words)

Our daughters made a nice impression on some friends this weekend and I was happy to share the compliments.

“They said you were charming, poised and articulate,” I said, sensing right away they were experiencing proud surges of youthful self-esteem. It was heady praise.

It’s why I felt momentary shame when I instantly pricked their ego-expanding balloons.

“You know,” I said, “when people say things like that, they’re not complimenting you. They’re complimenting me and your mother.”

It’s true. A child is unworthy of genuine compliment until they’re about 25 years old and are out and about in the world. Until then, most everything they are — how they look, how they act, what they have — is a result of parental influence.

I can say this because I understand an increasingly big part of who I am is a direct result of someone else.

That’d be Kevin Miscik.

Kevin’s owned Lapels, a fine men’s clothier in downtown Greensburg, since 2002. That was around the time when I dressed year-round like a guy who was always available to help a drinking buddy move a porch couch.

That all began to change when Lapels opened.

I guess I bought my first shirt there in about 2003. Most of you have seen it. It’s the vivid Tommy Bahama floral print shirt I’m wearing on the cover of “Undaunted Optimist.” The plush black sports coat was another of Kevin’s recommendations.

It’s because of Kevin I’ve become a bit of a dandy, this at an age when most men are beginning to transition from tailored business suits to elastic waist band warm-up duds.

Prior to Covid, I’d been doing a lot of public speaking and needed to look sharp. Plus wearing fine clothes gave me confidence. And it was all thanks to Kevin. 

He and his associate Bob Nolan seemed to take pride when they found just the right garment to compliment a new sports coat I’d purchased for a high profile public appearance. 

So today was going to be a big day for Kevin and I. I was scheduled to appear via Skype on KDKA’s “Pittsburgh Today Live,” for a segment that was to run later.

I was very excited. It seemed like a great opportunity to promote my book. 

I told Kevin.

“Oh, that’s great!,” he said. “Stop by the store and let me find you a shirt so you’ll look your best.”

It was very generous. He picked out the playfully dashing Luciano Visconti number you see in the picture and wished me luck.

The appearance on a popular regional TV show never felt to me like a sure thing. Dates were changed, calls went unreturned.

Then all of a sudden it became a sure thing. We were set to do a 4-minute segment today at 10 a.m. Just yesterday, I ran through some topics with the host and followed up with some scripted talking points.

After some initial nervousness I believe I settled into some lines and sight gags that would ensure a winning appearance.

Then out-of-the-blue (the black actually, it was 8 p.m.), came the soul-deflating e-mail. 

“Unfortunately,” “cancel,” “disappointing,” “final say,” “so terribly sorry” were some of the key phrases. It ended with a plea: “I hope you understand.”

In fact, I do not. 

Evidently, someone must think I’ll be bad for business, that I’ll drive viewers away, or that I’m the kind of crass opportunist who’d use my time to shamelessly plug things like the businesses of my friends.

(I plead guilty on that last count. I had positioned the little sign I’m holding above so it would appear on the Skype shot right above my head.)

It’s all good. I bear no grudge.

My heart has no room for hard feelings — not as long as it’s consumed with the toxic smog of lost opportunities, hurt confusion and the rising tide of bile belched forth from deep in the soul where once pretty dreams go to die.

So it’s not unlike those Friday evenings when the bartender says I’ve had enough.

But don’t feel bad for me. I’m confident other opportunities will arise and the good times will resume their roll.

Feel bad for Kevin.

See, I’m keeping the shirt.

Related …

I drank alone

I get screwed by Bay Hill … again

Praise, Fame &TINARA Award going to my head


Friday, October 9, 2020

Americans suffering from ASS


(530 words)

I have a layman’s understanding of Attention Deficit Disorder and a lazy man’s reluctance to do the research that would broaden my knowledge.

So take what you read here with a grain of salt, a warning I’m sure is unnecessary to those of you already hyper-alert to fake news shenanigans.

In fact, my standing in this regard is so shallow it can be summed up in one lame light bulb joke:

PERSON 1: “How many attention deficit disorder kids does it take to change a lightbulb?”

PERSON 2: “I don’t know. How many ADD kids does it take to change a lightbulb?”

(PERSON 1 stares blankly for a good 20 seconds or until straight man loses all patience. Then …

PERSON 1: “Wanna go ride bikes?”

See, the humor comes from the inability of an ADD person to focus on one thing or concentrate on a task or field of interest before absentmindedly flitting onto something else entirely.

I confess here to feeling a twinkle of serenity upon typing the word “absentminded.’

Image for a moment being incapable of finding your mind.

If I lost my mind I wouldn’t send out a search party until 1 January 2021.

I don’t have ADD.

No, I, probably like you, have Attention Surplus Syndrome (ASS). Yes, I made it up. I imagine identifying and describing an affliction entitles me to naming dibs, which I decline.

It’s going to be challenging enough being my daughter without having to answer the question: “So, are you the Rodell for whom ASS is named?”

ASS is the flip side of ADD. Go ahead and call it the other cheek.

ADD patients deal with attention deficits. ASSes like me have surpluses of attention. We watch the news all day and well into the wee hours.

It’s the one thing upon which partisans on both sides agree. We can’t get enough of the news. We could stare unblinkingly for hours and still not be sated.

We have attention to spare.

I’m not there yet, but the most extreme cases people with so much surplus attention can’t help themselves and spill their excess opinion on innocents who are simply trying to enjoy their lives free of political conflict.

They swamp FaceBook friends with conspiracy theories and fake news purporting to be about fake news. Many of them are consumed with hate for anyone who doesn’t share their opinion.

And they can’t shut up.

They’re Attention Surplus Syndrome Oral Lecturers (ASSOLs).

Happily, it’s not too late. You can begin taking steps today to restore your sanity. Turn off the TV, slam the lid on the laptop, take a stroll in the woods or snuggle up to a cuddly consensual and see which of you can go longer without using mentioning politics.

I’m trying to do my part to be less of an ASS. I’ll be selling books at Second Chapter Books in Ligonier from noon til 5 with an earnest vow to avoid controversy.

I hope you’ll do the same. We all need to do our part to lower the volume and reduce the ugliness.

Let’s start with you and I.

Let’s together vow to kick ASS before ASS kicks us.

Related …

America’s last undecided voter … me!

Trump’s no jackass — he’s under-qualified

Trump’s in Latrobe! Aunt Millie goes nuts …