Thursday, June 30, 2022

May/June tweets of the Month(s)


• Val was rattled this week after seeing a picture of her late mother from when she was 4 years younger than Val is today. Her mother appeared much older. Told Val she shouldn't be surprised. She works very hard at eating right and remaining fit, has a natural beauty and, in fact, looks better today than the day we met. And if I saw her in a bar today, there'd be only one thing that would prevent me from hitting on her. What's that? I'm a happily married man.

• I guess the reason it's customary for adults to ask graduates what they intend to do with their lives is because deep down we're fearful they might turn the tables and ask us what our lives have done to us.

• I’m troubled by the words we use to describe our state of sleep. We can be either "wide" awake or "sound" asleep. One's dimensional, the other makes me think of noises. Is it possible to be narrow awake or noiselessly asleep? I'd say I was going to sleep on it but that's unlikely.

• After going dark in recent years, Ringling Bros. announces its big comeback. The elephant in the room is that there will be no elephants in the room.

• I find myself being oddly drawn to friends -- not based on character or behavior -- but on how game-  appropriate their names are for Wordle. So sorry, ARCHIBALD TERWILLIGER, you go straight to voice mail if I sense OSCAR BRANT might call.

• Starting today, I shall begin to refer to the fast food wrappers, stray receipts, old magazines, etc. that litter my vehicle interior collectively as "carbage." Not to be confused with cabbage, although I've found some of that back there, too.

• Because I enjoy testing the tolerance of inanimate objects -- and I'm including humans -- when I say "inanimate" -- tomorrow for my first Wordle guess I'm typing in the letters LBGTQ to see if my computer explodes.

• I’ve learned from bitter experience that, although mashed, baked & circular gum may resemble a potentially lucky penny, the gum is much more difficult to lift off the city sidewalk and ultimately it is barely worth the free chew.

• That I can't recall ever having spent any quality time at a popsicle stand, yet have blown hundreds of them, leads me to believe I have some serious commitment issues.

• Thanks Greensburg Barnes & Noble for featuring, not 1, but 2, of my titles on the great books for Dads table. For those keeping score at home, that's Rodell 2, Grisham 0.

• Okay, NASA announces a life-extinguishing asteroid will strike the earth in 8 minutes. And that's it. We're cooked. What would you do with your 8 minutes? Pray? Hug loved ones? I blame Mom's hyper-parenting but I'm pretty sure I'd brush my teeth and put on some fresh underwear. Then, what the heck, maybe rob a bank. 

• I’ll never understand the voluntary insanity of busting your ass for 5 days straight only to wage war with nature on the 2 days you're given to relax. We've reached a stage where we return to our Monday toils in need of 2 precious days to relax. We're all weakened by our weekends.

• Proving once again I'm unworthy of staying in nice places, I spent 2 minutes jumping up and down on a stationary disc trying to get it to register my weight before I realized I was jumping up and down on the roomba.

• ”He speaketh with forked tongue," was once one of the most stinging insults a native American could utter against the White Man. It meant he was a liar, incapable of telling the truth. What does that make me? I confess to fibbing, to shading the truth, to sometimes embroidering fact with fancy. I speaketh with sporked tongue.

• Damsels lead lives fraught with peril. Damsels are always in distress. Just once I'd like see a damsel in, say, a laundromat.

• The best diagnostic proctologists are crack investigators.

• On this Father's Day, I confess to being uncomfortable watching racy movies with our daughters. I don't like excessive profanity. Violence makes me queasy. And I leave the room once the sex goes beyond the consensual dry hump. Fuddy-duddy? No. Fuddy-Daddy!

• I covet the grandfather clock at the place we're staying. So much I've thought of stealing it. But it's big, it's heavy and moving it would be a lot of work. I think I'll just steal a watch. I'm but a small time thief.  

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Who stole my American flag?


(Masking tape above shoes shows where stolen flag was)

(791 words)

The crack team of amateur sleuths I brought in to solve the crime found a glaring breech that they said practically invited theft. It was a mere 6 inches.

That was all the crook needed to sashay into my office and shatter a sense of trust I’ve fostered for the seven years my office has been above the landmark Tin Lizzy in Youngstown, Pa., (pop.  324; defining characteristic — one stop light/ six liquor licenses).

The gap isn’t between the walls, doors or windows.

This gap is between my ears.

“What kind of idiot has a lock on his door and doesn’t use it — and in a building full of drunks?”

It may sound conceited, but I believe only the very best kind of idiot would do such a thing.

I’ve always taken pride in having an open door in case any Tin Lizzy patron interested in my books wanted to come by and peek at my office, which appears to have been furnished completely in the style period of Early 8th Grader.

There are drawings from the kiddos, crayon nicknacks, and out-of-focus pictures of me with loved ones and buddies in various stages of sobriety. 

I contend every office would look like my office if big shot execs didn’t care about trying to impress visitors with how their office looked. 

So I never locked the door. Hell, I rarely closed the door. 

I believe the theft occurred late Thursday night. I walked up the three flights of stairs to my office and noticed little things were amiss. Some posters were down. A fan had been moved. The chair was facing the other way.

I was confused enough that it took me about 30 seconds to notice one big thing was amiss.

My American flag had been ripped off the wall.

Who steals a flag?

In some ways it’s the perfect crime. You can fly it off your front porch and nobody’s going to say, “Call the cops! That looks like Rodell’s flag!”

It’s become stylish to alter the American flag to suit your outrage du jour. I’ve seen standard flags emblazoned with “Don’t Tread on Me!” Some have abandoned the red, white and blue to celebrate sexual orientations in rainbow pastel. And some exhort NASCAR driver Brandon Brown to accelerate.

So compared to those my flag’s a bit of a bore. It’s red, white and blue, 50 stars, 13 stripes. The dimensions are 3x5, or roughly the same size as Superman’s cape.

It looks like every other flag. You’ll see a million just like it over the next week.

What made it special is known only to me and my family.

It is a battle flag.

Now, I’ll understand if proud veterans belittle my contention that my stolen flag was flown in battle. There are no bullet holes. It is not singed by enemy fire. It has no mud I can claim was splattered from Iwo Jima, Normandy or Dien Bien Phu.

It was purchased 21 years ago at a Latrobe flag store from a flustered proprietor who couldn’t believe I’d called to inquire if on that day his store was open.

“No, we’re not open! Aren’t you watching the news?”

I told him the news was why I’d called.

But apparently flag sales are so precisely seasonal that it never occurred to him why out-of-the-blue a stranger was calling about purchasing an American flag on this crisp Fall morning.

It was September 11, 2001.

He must have thought I needed some orange and purple Halloween pumpkin flags.

And that’s how I wound up forking over $26.95 for an American flag that some likely drunk just had to have in the middle of the night when no one was watching.

Also stolen was a 15-year-old iPod Classic I relied on for loud musical inspiration for nearly every word I’ve written since 2007; and a ceramic owl with a coin-sized slot in it dome for change, a gift from the Reynoldsville Public Library for speaking there in 2017

So I’m looking for a patriotic thief with good taste in music and an excess of pocket change. 

I hope the culprit brings it all back or at least stops by to argue why my stuff should be in his house.

I suppose many of you are feeling outrage on my behalf, but I’d encourage you to let those feelings go.

I have very little, but the best parts of me — and you — are the parts that cannot be locked up or stolen. 

And I’d rather folks see me as an open door and wonder what’s in my head than hear I cower behind a fortress and wonder if I have a heart.

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

LIV golf: What would Arnold Palmer do? An "insider's" view


(829 words)

Because I sense the threshold of interest has been breached, I’m going to respond to a question I have no business responding to. But people keep asking.

The question is: What would Arnold Palmer do if the bloodthirsty Saudi Arabian sheiks offered him, say, $200 million — what they’re paying Phil “Lefty” Mickelson — to join their upstart LIV Saudi professional golf tour?

I was not in any way a Palmer confidant.

True, I did interview him more than 100 times over 20 years, but I was in no way privy to any of the high stakes business decisions that earned him at the time of his 2016 death, an estate of about $700 million.

When asked, I’d tell people that, indeed I was in his orbit, but I was sorta like Pluto. And people argue over whether Pluto’s even a planet anymore.

So let’s cut to the chase.

Would Arnold Palmer have taken Saudi oil money to abandon the PGA to promote their LIV golf tour?

No way.

I think Arnold Palmer would vehemently reject the blood money.  Palmer had too much class. He was honorable. He was loyal. He was content with his portions.

I close my eyes and can imagine him indignantly saying it’s something he never considered.

But how about the people who advised him on how to make money? Would they consider it?

Oh, you bet your ass they would. In fact, I can imagine his advisors arguing he’d be crazy not to take it.

They’d see a check with all those zeroes, calculate their percentage and begin to whisper in The King’s ear, psst, you know, boss, you can do a lot of good with that kind of dough.

You can be an agent of change.You can be an inspiration to the downtrodden Saudis. 

Like knowing how to hit a low fade in high wind would improve the disposition of a 18-year-old kid who’s facing a death sentence because the secret police busted him flirting with Abdul down at the neighborhood coffee shop.

But, c’mon, $200 million! Who could refuse?

I remember on “Dallas” J.R Ewing urging young Bobby, the idealisj, “Once you get past ethics, the rest is easy.”

But this isn’t fudging the totals in the annual report. This is murdering and hacking to bits dissident journalists. This is the mass execution of homosexuals. This is the place that 75 percent of the 9/11 hijackers called home.

That would barely factor into the bottom-line totals of the men and women who’d be urging Palmer, a national treasure, to chuck it all to pile millions on top of other millions until the stack reaches the cruising altitude of his private jet.

Why would they do that?

It was their job.

A true Palmer insider once confided to me that Palmer told him that his job (Palmer’s) was “to always be the nicest guy in the room,” and that it was “my job was to be the meanest SOB in the room.”

Interestingly, the guy was the company ice cream dipper.


He was an attorney.

I’m convinced none of the bottom-line crowd would have changed Palmer’s mind. But I could see them persuading the likes of Mickelson, Dustin Johnson and others of their weasely ilk.

But those guys shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as Palmer.

Hell, they shouldn’t be mentioned in the same breath as … me!

I’ve never told this story before, not even to Val. But about ten years ago, I was contacted by a childhood chum who wanted me to write his life story.

It was the story of how in 20 years he’d gone from being just another shady businessman to being a Japanese smut mogul.

He told me he’d built a pornography and prostitution empire from scratch. He said the story involved drugs, murder and lots of sex.

I remember imaging me doing late-night opium den interviews with beguiling geishas.

He told me he’d pay me $100,000.

I checked it out. His story was legit.

And I said no.

Now, this pay wouldn’t be anywhere near as tainted as Saudi golf money, but a part of me just felt it wasn’t right for me.

I call that part of me the stupid part. Because, I instead accepted $5,000 to write a book called “Manly Golf: 50 Ways to Muscle Your Way to Victory.” And, certainly, that book — it came with a blister pack of fake tattoos! — is as embarrassing as anything that would have come from a year’s worth of interviewing Asian strippers.

We live in a time when conspicuous excess isn’t considered sinful. In fact, it is by many exalted as virtue.

But there are values we learned in pre-school that still prevail.

That’s why I think people are making this one complicated when it’s actually very simple.

It’s a simple case of right and wrong.

Or to be more specific, a case of right and Lefty.