Thursday, August 31, 2023

It'll always be Twitter to me

 Honestly, I don't even post on Twitter anymore. It's tainted. But what am I going to call these monthly round-ups? Xs of the Month? Best X ever? The options are fraught. You get the idea. So here are Tweets of the Month! 

• In the future, weaponry will become so abundant, so accurate and so lethal my fear is that in the future there will be no future.

• It’s like there's a global committee out there that meets with just one goal: How can we make soccer more boring? In soccer even one goal is purely aspirational On a day when the US Women's Soccer suffered (I'm sure viewers suffered, too) a 0-0 tie with Portugal, I read that people are now playing "walking soccer." I'm guessing it'll be the first sport where scores are measured in negative numbers. Can''t wait for the obvious next steps: Stationary soccer and the inevitable Rocker Soccer!

• I’m troubled lately by the growing conviction that our mortal Savior was highly unpopular. I mean, only 12 people showed up for his last supper. If I announced today on Facebook that in four days I was to be crucified and was throwing a Wing Nite last supper here at the Tin Lizzy, I’ll bet I could get three times that, not to mention plus more than 100 likes. I wonder if spousal attitudes came into play. Old Testament battle ax wife: “You’re not going anywhere with that troublemaker Jesus. Did you hear how he wrecked the temple because he didn’t think the money changers should be allowed in? All right, I give up. You can go to his ‘last supper’ but only if there’s at least one adult there. Someone honest. Someone trustworthy. Someone like Judas!”

• The ancient Romans use a Latin phrase "omne trium perfectum" to describe the superstition that good things come in threes. Or some of you may be more familiar with the French phrase used to describe the same thing, "menage a trois.”

• Yet another unforeseen consequence of climate change is animals that were once earthbound will suddenly become airborne. For instance, who isn't enchanted by the delightful humming bird? Wait until you get a load of the stealth menace of the dreaded ... humming cat!

• A healthy hen can deliver 250 intact eggs each and every year. My question: At what point do the gender reveal parties cease?

• It’s by now abundantly clear either though ignorance or reckless bravado, our deer are totally disregarding the "Deer X-ing signs. They X where ever the hell they feel like X-ing. How can you tell the difference between the stupid deer and the ones that think they're being cool? The ones that think they're being cool are vaping.

• I’m nostalgic for the days when if you wanted to share a great TV show with a friend, you wouldn't tell them to find Roku, Fubo, Hulu or some other hard-to-remember name with a trendy "U." You'd just tell them a channel number. Usually just two digits. Then you'd tell them a day and time and then the very next morning, everyone in America would be singing, "Makin' your way in the world today takes everything you've got ..." It happened like that with lots of shows back then. It happens no more.

• I don’t know if the guy or gal who came up with the name ever even opened a bottle of the stuff, but if they’d ever spilled a tall, cool glass full of it in their laps they would never have called Canada “Dry.”

• We’ve been taught to believe that heroes run toward the sound of gunfire. Today the sound of gunfire is coming from Jacksonville. The echo of lethal gunfire is still ringing in from Detroit, Las Vegas, Sandy Hook … The ceaseless gunfire is coming from every direction all at once. It's bound to confuse the heroes who know not where to run. And when the gunfire outnumbers the heroes, there is only one thing left for the rest of us to do. Everybody run. Run for your lives.

• When I was a kid, there was one kind of Pringles & they were all Pringle-flavored. They fit on one tidy shelf. Today Pringles come in 25 different flavors and they require five shelves. It's that way with Utz, Herr's, Lay's, etc., and now chips hog an entire aisle. I predict in the near future chip varietals will take up whole store except for one lonely shelf for toilet paper, milk, bread and a grape.

• I must have a low threshold for mystery 'cause anytime someone breathlessly announces, "The suspense is killing me!" I'm already dying of boredom.

• I was railing against this world of woe to some friends who advised me to embrace the wisdom of the Serenity Prayer — “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, The courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.” I thought about it, but decided instead to pray that God grant me god-like powers for just 12 hours. Goodbye war in Ukraine! Goodbye climate change! Goodbye credit card debt! Hello bestseller lists!

• Earth tones -- gray, brown, forest -- are associated with colors that dominate nature. But climate change and rampant wildfires are changing nature's palette. More and more, earth tones are primarily red, ember, lava, inferno, etc. I fear if we don't find timely solutions then our future will involve just one earth tone: cinder. 

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

How to Make Friends

 (990 words)

This is the week I used to tell the kids one of my favorite wisdoms, one that positively rings with cheer and hopefulness.

“Remember, today you could be introduced to someone you’ve never met who is destined to become the best friend you’ll ever have.”

It’s true on the first day of school and it’s true any time you walk out your door. None of us has any idea what fate is going to shove into our path.

We look at strangers differently when we realize there’s a chance that dorky new kid in the mail room will one day be the one who’s asked to deliver the toast at your wedding and the eulogy at your funeral.

As our girls have gotten older, I’ve re-structured the advice to encompass modern predicaments.

I say, “Choose your friends on how well you’ll get along should you ever become cellmates.”

This stems in part from personal experience. It was back in 1990, and me and a buddy got tossed into the Dormont slammer for drunk & disorderly. (I was neither). We composed letters to public defenders, railed against injustice, dreamt of righteous vindication  and emerged feeling a warm kinship with Nelson Mandela, who’d been a political prisoner for 27 years

We’d been in stir for, oh, about 10 hours.

I couldn’t have asked for a better cellmate. It made us friends forever. Lifers, if you will.

I’ve never been able to make money, but I’ve always had the happy knack for knowing how to make friends.

That I’m incapable of simultaneously doing both is, to me, puzzling.

I have no doubt that many of the wealthiest men & women in America would trade their gift for making money with my gift for making friends — a deal I’d refuse without even a moment of just consideration.

(That primal scream you just heard was my wife who tends to view the whole situation with a not irrational chagrin that many years ago fell for the dude with all the friends and none of the money.)

Who can blame her?

Anyhoo, what kind of a friend would I be if I didn’t share with you what I think are the keys to making friends.

First, you could take the low-hanging fruit and go the needy friend route. These are the drama queens, the substance abusers, the fools for love.

There is a certain nobility in befriending the friendless.

But know this: It’s okay to have needy friends, but you need to understand the more needy friends you acquire the greater the risk that you are becoming someone else’s needy friend.

There’s only so much you can do to help someone else before you start hurting yourself.

Here’s a tip: Be friendly with everyone but strive for friendships with those who’ll harmonize with you through both whispers and screams.

How do you find tha person? Zero in on who’s laughing when you say something funny. You don’t have to necessarily be funny to to get people to laugh. Adam Sandler proves this every 6 months or so. Having even one person who gets your jokes is essential

I don’t believe in love at first sight. But I do believe in drinkin’ buddies at first sight.

It usually happens when someone in a position of authority says something blatantly stupid. You glance around the room to see if anyone else is alert to the fact that we’re all at the mercy of titled incompetents.

Invariably, you’ll lock eyes with someone like-minded. Approach when available and say, “I don’t know about you, but I think I’m going to need a drink or two to unpack this. Want to join me?”

I hear that’s how Cheech & Chong got their start.

Lastly, and I can’t stress this enough, the surest way to make friends is to cease being an asshole.

I know this because two of the nicest things anyone’s ever said about me were both anal in nature.

One was on my last day at my last job. It was at the Tribune-Review, July 2, 1992. I was making the rounds in the building. I ran into one of the press men and told him it was goodbye.

Without pausing for even a handshake, he said, “Well, we’re going to miss you. You’re one of the few guys in that newsroom who doesn’t behave like he has a giant stick up his ass.”

It brought tears to my eyes —not because the compliment was so well-concealed. I teared up in friendly empathy over anyone who must go through life with a giant stick up his or her ass. 

The other is a long story that I’ll brutally summarize so you can get free to start making great new friends.

I was in a minor accident where I foolishly tried to beat a monster truck through a stale yellow light. We each pulled into a nearby lot and commenced the tense incident reconstruction.

We agreed on every point until got to a key aspect about turn signals. He said his was on. I said it was not. At stake was insurance blame assignment and possibly thousands of dollars in increased premiums.

We were both adamant then he abruptly conceded. I must have been right, he said.

“Anyone can tell just by looking at you, you’re not an asshole.”

You’ll think I’m being facetious, but it is a real blessing to effortlessly not look like an asshole. 

Who would have guessed two proctological references would make such dandy credentials for close friendships?

So those are some tips on what to do if you want to make new friends or if all your current ones turn cold.

People are so sensitive these days. You just never know when something you say or post might get misinterpreted and people who once stood by you flee at the first hint of controversy.

Well, all but me. 

That’s what friends are for.

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Tuesday, August 15, 2023

The tattoo I'm thinking of getting ...


I did something this week I swore I’d never do, something I’ve viciously mocked others for doing.

I contacted a tattoo parlor about getting some ink.

We’ll get into all of that but first I need to wrestle with why it was a parlor.

The venerable Oxford English Dictionary says parlor (they spell it, parlour, the Limeys) is “a room or place for talking.”


I talk everywhere I go. Talk all the time. Wide awake or sound asleep.  I just can’t shut the hell up. I even talk out loud to myself when I’m driving down the road. Does that turn my crappy Ford Fusion into a car parlor?

Parlor sounds so dainty. You don’t hear parlor being used much to describe a place of business. In fact, the only other parlor that’s commonly used — or at least it was `about 30 years ago — is the fabled pizza parlor

I used to work at a place commonly referred to as a pizza parlor. It was a neighborhood joint. Good food, reasonable prices. I did that for a few years until I got called up to the big leagues: I became the starting cook at the Pizza Hut, then the New York Yankees of the ubiquitous flavorless pizza industry.

After that I worked at a couple newspaper parlors and eventually at the National Enquirer parlor.  Lots of talk went on there and most every conversation began with, ‘Pssst …”

Back to the tattoo parlor.

If you’ve ever heard me speak at a library, it’s likely you heard me open with this gem: “People who want to appear more colorful get tattoos. People who want to become more colorful, get library cards.”

It’s a strong line because it feels like you’re sticking it to the bullies. Plus, there’s a lot of truth to it. The more time you spend reading in libraries, the more interesting you’re bound to become.

But I don’t begrudge anyone who through their tattoo displays the kind of wit we’ll need to differentiate the robots from the human. For instance, George Carlin advised men to get a groin tattoo that reads, “IN CASE OF EMERGENCY PULL HANDLE.”

So, I could get a tattoo, but it would have to be the perfect tattoo.

Then, I realized it’s been there all along. In fact, it was one of the first items I dreamed up for the book that would become “Use All The Crayons! The Colorful Guide to Simple Human Happiness.”

I recalled it all these years later after being introduced at a golf event to four lovely fellows who I was told “were artists at the local tattoo parlor.”


I thought it would be nice spending a few hours with them in the parlor. Distractedly, I glanced at my wrist watch. It hasn’t kept time for six months. But getting it jump started usually costs between $20 and $35 depending, I guess, if the jeweler’s T-Mobile bill is due that day or not.

Why wear a wrist watch that doesn’t work?

It looks good on a sleeveless arm. It’s the same reason some dandies wear necklaces

Then there’s this. I was too busy.

You could say I couldn’t find the time, but that would be fraudulent.

Finding the time isn’t difficult. Time is everywhere. It’s on the walls, in our cars, in our pockets.

On one hand we’ve never been busier, yet on the other we have all the time in the world.

I like my watch very much. It was a gift from a Vegas host for a story I did about 15 years ago.

It’s been appraised at $1,200 and looking at it makes me happy I never became so pompous I disdain material things. But it’s not the watch I would have picked.

I’d have picked a Rolex, the finest in luxury watches. One of my good friends had a high-profile role with Arnold Palmer, a Rolex sponsor. The watchmakers gave him one just for being a swell dude.

Just like me!

I don’t know what kind of Rolex he wore, but I was told my friend’s watch was worth about $18,000.

I figure I’d have to internally grow six extra kidneys and donate them to ailing Rolex executives for them to give me one

So years ago I expressed my craven covetousness in “Crayons!” deluxe: “No. 11 …  ‘Get a $75 tattoo of an $18,000 wrist watch.’”

Now, that’s colorful. Very unique. Idiosyncratic. Only one problem:

My tastes had changed. An $18,000 Rolex tattoo just wouldn’t do.

Today, I need a $17.8 million one. I needed the Paul Newman Daytona Rolex, well, a tattoo replica of it.

It was perfect because Newman is my favorite actor. “Cool Hand Luke,” “The Verdict,” “Slap Shot,” ‘Butch and Sundance,” “The Sting,” I’d revere him even if he wasn’t one of Hollywood’s finest. He’s also a devoted and creative philanthropist and a charter member of Richard Nixon’s Enemies’ list.

His watch was auctioned in June to an anonymous bidder for the jaw-dropping sum.

A tattoo of one is, in fact, preferable in many ways to the real thing.

Think about it. It’s water proof. Hard to misplace, Your greedy descendants won’t fight over it, and only a truly ghoulish thief would try and steal it.

Still, a tattoo is so not me.

But that’s not what stopped me. What did?

The tattoo industry is too immature.

Let me explain. The tattoo guy said in order for me to get the kind of detail I’d need for it to be recognized as a Rolex, the tat would need to be as big as my palm. It would look like a hood ornament on my wrist or the kind of kitsch the hip hop performers wear around their necks to alarm gents like me.

“Maybe in a few years we’ll be able to detail like that, but we’re not there yet,” he said.

Structural immaturity is an interesting predicament for an industry that’s been run predominantly by people defiantly reluctant to mature.

I could wind up with a crude tattoo that looks less like a real Rolex and more like a cheap knockoff Rolex, albeit one that’s a subcutaneous impostor either way.

It is a true conundrum.

I wish I had time to think about it. But the world is moving too quickly and I need to unwind. 

Too bad. Because when it comes to making time stand still, a tattooed wrist watch is hard to beat.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Firetruck racing to end boring parades

(657 words)

 One if the most satisfying aspects of spending so much time staring out the window is being the recipient of radom genius thoughts. It’s a sort of brain lightning. You see solutions to problems that have for years bedeviled your fellow man.

Problems like way too many firetrucks.

That’s just the way my brain works. I wish mine worked like Dr. Jonas Salk’s did. The window he looked out of showed him the cure for polio and millions of lives were saved.

Oh, well. That’s enough about him.

Now, many of you are wondering how having too many firetrucks could be a problem. I sense this acutely from any of you who might be reading this post while standing locked inside a burning building.

Well, it’s not, per se, the glut of them that’s the problem. It’s that so many of them show up to participate in our summer holiday parades leading to common complaints. The parade takes too long. Too many firetrucks. Seen it all before.

Now, I take a back seat to no one in support of our local volunteers. The work they do at all hours and under all conditions saves lives — not to mention tax revenues — for the benefit of all. Even me! And I’m the guy that finds it irresistible to refrain from telling this Happy Hour joke I repeat every Friday when the shrill fire whistle sounds to summon these brave volunteers drop whatever they’re doing to do something heroic.

So as they’re rushing to put themselves in harm’s way, I say loud enough for the whole bar to hear …

“Now, I’m not saying our volunteers join for purely social reasons. I’m sure it’s just a happy coincidence that every Friday at 5 p.m. the local whore house catches on fire!”

So they deserve our salutes on the Fourth of July when they assemble en masse in the back streets of Latrobe awaiting their turn to idle at about 4 mph down Latrobe’s main street.

I’ve been going to Latrobe’s Fourth of July parade for nearly 40 years so I reckon I’ve seen. oh, about 400,000 fire trucks creep past me. I’ve seen them in rain. Seen ‘em when it was chilly and I seen ’em when it was roasting. And every time I’ve seen ‘em I’ve probably thought the same thing.

“There goes another dang firetruck. Nearly indistinguishable every other firetruck. Is this thing ever going to end?”

I recognized my thinking was shallow. These men and women are heroes. Their trucks mechanical marvels. This should be celebrated.

And staring out the window, just thinking about solutions to the problems vexing humanity it came to me.

The problem isn’t that the parades are too long. The problem is that the trucks move too slow.

The firetrucks should be required to race through the entire parade route as if they were responding to a report that an area orphanage had caught fire. The sirens would wail, the lights would flash, the engines would roar. 

Imagine the exhilaration.

Of course, this is inherently dangerous. Narrow streets. Twenty-five ton firetrucks careening pedal to the metal, barely in control. There are bound to be accidents.

And what better place to have one than amidst a sea of alert first responders?

Community teams could be lining the parade route, standing by with the Jaws of Life  — and Jaws of Life I’m not referring to the tubby glutton who keeps the food trucks in business.

There could be competitive aspects to the endeavor: Fastest heat, fewest  casualties, least amount of space-saver folding chairs clipped.

Maybe “Survivor” host Jeff Probst could host.

But with racing firetrucks covering in 90 seconds what used to take nearly a dawdling hour, the parade would conclude in a jiffy.  

Problem solved.

I wonder if Jonas Salk ever thought about things like too many firetrucks at the Fourth of July parade.

If I’d have been him, I’d have thought about changing my name to one that isn’t pronounced “SOCK.”

Monday, July 31, 2023

is this my best line?

 My friend Scott Levin told he thinks this the funniest line I’ve ever written …

"If most men are being honest --  a big "if" -- we'd admit to seeing a lot of ourselves in Ken while aspiring to see just a little of ourselves in Barbie.”

Is he correct? Do you recall a better one or do they fade from memory right away?

What about these? Hope you like 'em all!

--  <<  >>  --

Adventure tourism will take an extreme turn when scientists perfect heat-resistant vehicles & rec gear that’ll be able to withstand the temperatures on the surface of the sun. Solar visas won’t be granted until applicant can prove he or she has requisite amount of sunscreen SPF 9.999,000,000,000,000. Warning: You might want to think twice before accepting an offer to play “Shirts vs. Skins” beach volleyball 

• So much of writing isn’t writing at all. It is instead the iron-willed destruction of inarticulate, artless sentences you mistakenly thought was writing when you composed your crappy first draft.

• Limitless learning potential. Confronts every challenge with aggression. Compromise viewed as weakness. Prone to using catastrophic weaponry when confronted with alternative progressive theories. History’s most efficient killing machine. Take a bow, Mankind! You’re nature’s Artificial Intelligence v.1.0!

• A good friend will tell you all about their tattoos, even the ones the public cannot see. A really good friend will tell you all about their scars, especially the ones the public cannot see.

• Everyone says the inevitably robot takeover will be peaceful as long as we imbue in AI robots the values of empathy, compassion and the value of every human life. Right because that’s exactly what we’ve been doing with our darling children for generations and the world is just in such great shape.

• I have a theory we could end world hunger if we in America ceased competitive eating contests and figured out how to fax surplus hot dogs to hungry people with really sophisticated fax machines.

• A shortage of money, goods or other tangible items is a deficit. A shortage of sarcastic, egotistical waterfowl certain to be outsmarted by a wily rabbit is a Daffy-cit.

• How would it impact his legacy and place in pop culture if Bob Dylan remained Bob Dylan in every way except instead of singing like Bob Dylan he sang like Susan Boyle? For one, I don't think The Wilburys would have had him.

• Crackdown is such a thuggish word. There’s a crackdown on recreational drugs. There is a crackdown on women wearing skimpy clothing to the office. And there’s a crackdown on party noise after midnight.. Every where pettiness reigns, boom, there’s another crackdown. It’s time we usurp the very definition of crackdown. I propose we all begin using crackdown to describe sleep posture. So if someone asks how you slept last night, the response could be, “Crack down.”

• Technology is our greatest uniter. Everyone exposed to it either swears by or at it.

• Line from the romance novel I'll never write: "Will you let me swim in your oh-so-blue eyes if I promise not to pee in your pool?”

• The Biblical idea of Pearly Gates is charming but incomplete. I believe in heaven there are pearly fences, pearly utility poles -- even pearly manhole covers. There is just a surplus of pearly construction materials.

• It saddens me that my self-awareness about the topic is so high that wnen my daughter said my hair looked nice, I blurted out, "Which one?”

• I dreamt I died and was being evaluated for Heavenly admission and  the 1st thing they did was show a lavish compilation of me helping people. It lasted 12 hours! After it was over, I started for the door marked, “Heaven.” As I reached out for the door knob, a voice said, “Not so fast. Now we have to show the film of every time you failed to do anything that would help extinguish the flames of human misery.” I asked how long this one lasted. “Let’s just be glad we have eternity.”

• “Cool Hand Luke” is maybe my all-time favorite movie. Today during what might have been my 10,000th viewing, I noticed something unsettling: A 1967 movie about a Southern prison camp/road gang has not one African-American in the cast of 48 inmates. What were producers thinking? Sophisticated movie goers wouldn’t accept the idea that an all-white Southern jury could possibly find a black man guilty?

• I know men who've driven women into the arms of another man. I know women who've done the same to men. What's surprising, given the reliability and convenience of the service, I've never heard of someone who's been Ubered there.

• We’re proud of our first responders here and admire their commitment. Still, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some complaints when our holiday parades are choked with dozens and dozens of firetrucks and other emergency vehicles ensuring the parade in the hot sun will take up to 2 hours. Well, I have a solution sure to satisfy everyone. Have all the firetrucks you want, but insist they run the entire route as if it were they were responding to an actual emergency. Top speeds. No brakes. Sure, there will be wrecks and injuries, but that would turn it into a showcase for EMTs. It could be a competition!

My nearly 2 hours with world's most sadistic barber

(671 words)

I’m so resigned to the cruel realities of male pattern baldness that when my daughter said my hair looked nice, I said, “Which one?”

So normally I lack the impetus — not to mention the hair — to write about my coif But after what happened to me at the Ye Olde Barber Shoppe in Duck, N.C., I feel compelled. 

We were on the Outer Banks when I decided I needed a haircut. The decision was based on pure whimsy. I could go the rest of my life and not “need” another haircut.

But I find barber shops are great places to absorb local culture, sports banter and other topics appealing to a sophisticate like me, albeit a sophisticate still on a quest to learn the perfect fart joke.

It was appropriate here  because my time at the Ye Olde BSer really stunk.

Had I checked Yelp I would have known this and gone elsewhere. Here’s just one customer review:

This place is awful. The experience was hands down the worst customer service I have ever encountered. The owner/ barber took no less than 7 personal phone calls, while busy, and while cutting hair. He also was very, very pessimistic about everything. Everything was about how shitty everything is. He hated everything. He talked about shaving the eyebrows off of customers he didn’t like. I heard that and said bye-bye. I’d had enough.”

My experience:

Ignoring the “Let’s Go Brandon!” flag in the window, I walked in and took a seat. I was third in line. It was 2:15 pm. I learned the barber’s name was “Coooter.” Five minutes after I sat down, an elderly gentleman came hobbling into the shop. He’d left his walker in the car. I jumped out of my chair and rendered assistance. He took my arm and I led him to a vacant seat. I mistakenly thought my gallantry would earn me some good will.

Like the Yelp reviewer, I sat there as Cooter spewed hatred for everything that could be described with a noun. He hated minorities. He hated government, gays, foreigners, etc. It was all couched in an aw-shucks, good ‘ol boy, I’m-just-tellin’-it-like-it-is banter where everyone’s in  on the joke.

When after an hour, it was my turn, he asked a standard ice breaker: “Where you from?” I told him Pittsburgh because it’s not only the truth, I’ve found it to be perfectly safe

In my experience, Pittsburgh and Pittsburghers enjoy a great reputations around the country. Pittsburgh is very neutral. It’s not NYC or, thank God, Boston.

It was the wrong answer. He leaned in so close I could feel his beard tickling my ear lobe. “So you’re not only a Yankee, you’re a damn Yankee.”

I had no idea what that meant, but it sure sounded sinister. 

Describing the hair cut as harrowing  would be an exaggeration. But I’ve been in dentist chairs where I’ve felt less apprehensive. Let’s call it hairowing

Toward the end of the nearly 45-minute ordeal he put me in a sort of headlock, held me steady and said, “I hope you enjoyed your education.” Then I felt the razor rake the back of my neck. It stung when he slapped on the aftershave.

“Just a little kiss to remember me by.”

He said it was $25. I paid it, happy to leave with both ears still attached. It was 4 p.m. I’d been there an hour and 45 minutes.

Later at the beach, Val noticed my neck had a pinkish hue, one that corresponded to the bloody stain tainting my snazzy beach shirt.

That was Cooter’s “kiss.” The sirt would need dry cleaning.

I’ve always considered myself a man of reason. Not rash or flighty. I think things through and settle firmly on a steadfast position. I’m for the most part a social progressive with an unflappable belief in the goodness of my fellow man/woman/he/she/them/their blahbidy blahbidy blah …

But all it took was one “kiss” from Cooter and I’d become a real redneck.

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Friday, June 30, 2023

Tweets of the Month


• As a proponent of "make everyday something festive," I was a pioneer promoter for "Christmas in July" (and August, and September and etc ...). Today I told my daughter to quit the summer job, drop out of school and devote her every waking moment to composing 12 Juneteenth in July carols that'll really capture the essence of this great new holiday. 'cause when was the last time you heard a really rockin; Juneteenth carol? So much remains to be explored about this exciting new holiday. Merry Juneteenth everyone!

• Daughter is expressing interest in getting a facial piercing. That is her decision. My opinion is unsought or disregarded. I told her she can do what she wants. “But know this,” I said. “For every piercing, every tattoo marring of your darling appearance, I vow to get the exact same procedure or replica tattoo done on my wrinkled old ass. And if you think you’re embarrassed by my Dad jeans just wait til you get a load on my Dad Speedo.”

• It’s not uncommon to hear bickering couples contend one or the other is putting "words in my mouth." Let that phrase be a cue to romantic detour from hostilities and begin putting things other than words in one another's mouths. Say a piece of candy. Or an ear lobe.

• I know, I know, there are far more pressing matters concerning the issue, but I do a slow burn every time I hear a newscaster call it "an out-of-control wildfire." All wildfires are out of control. That's why we don't call 'em tame fires!

• I was given a tight deadline. Tough to meet. I asked editor if she had any wiggle room. “You bet! You got yourself some wiggle room!” I love wiggle room! All hail wiggle room! I swear, the next home is going to have a wiggle room …

• News that PGA Tour bosses are grabbing their ankles to accommodate murderous Saudis has me furious at all the times my parents dragged us to Sunday school to memorize the gospels when the life lesson from the shady deal can be boiled down to three jiffy words: "Greed is good.”

• Those who think differently, defy convention and act without regard to the scolding opinion of others are individuals. To live otherwise is to risk becoming an UNdividual.

• If I ever have a role in naming another child, I'm going to argue we name the kid with Unisex name, "Guess." Every introduction would reveal so much about the person. Do they get angry or do they chuckle?

"Hi! I'm Amy! What's your name?"


"C'mon. Really. What's your name?"


• I have no idea how they're doing it. War in Ukraine. Uprisings on the streets of Moscow. Economic tumult. Civil unrest. With all that going on, how on earth does the Russian leadership find time to address priority issues like keeping transgender kids from reading all the books they're busy banning?

• Nerve-rattling headlines declare dozens of Moscow war lords fighting for supremacy. Now, I don't contend to know much about matters either military or spiritual and I'm no gambler, but when I read those headlines I think, okay, I'll see all your war lords and raise you just one peace Lord.

• My superiority complex is so complex it can make sense of the implausibility that a man with accomplishments and results as meager as mine can feel superior to MDs, CEOs and people who merely root for teams from places like Boston.

• I one day hope to meet a smokin' hot geologist dedicated to volcanic studies whose name is Ashley Firestone.

• Because their sedentary postures are identical, it’s impossible to tell the difference between an idler and someone lost in thought, I often cry out “Eureka!” when I reach some profound conclusion. Like just now when I decided if I’m going to have the onion rings instead of the fries with lunch tomorrow. “Eureka!”

• I started today thinking about war lords and how you never hear about peace lords. Now I'm thinking about all the other lords and which lord suits me best. There are land lords, drug lords, lordy lords, Jack Lord, sea lord, The House of Lords and slum lords. I've never seen wordlord, bloglord or book lord, so I guess I'm hoping I'll one day be OMa Lord or, cross your fingers, Good Lord.

• We all need a little perspective on these Canadian wildfires. I mean, it's not like Canada is some massive country with billions of acres of freestanding timber. Canada is roughly the size of Connecticut. Right? They both start with C. That's the way it works, right? Or maybe I'm thinking of Cansas. Either way, let's all take a deep breath -- at least those of us who can still do so without choking.

• Used to wake up on hazy mornings like this and assure myself, "It's just a little morning fog. It'll burn off." Now, I'm troubled by the realization, it is NOT a little morning fog. It IS ALL BURN OFF.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Thots on Titan sub & untimely death


(648 words)

I blame my years as a young newspaper reporter for why I spend so much time thinking about untimely death.

Back then it was a near daily smorgasbord of reporting on the often violent expirations of hapless Tennesseans. They’d accidentally steer jalopies off cliffs, stumble into the rusty wood chipper, and drunkenly fail to exit the bed after the last cigarette began to singe the sheets.

And after I’d finished each story I’d in my mind put it in one of two categories: “How I’d want to go,” or “Not how I’d want to go.”

So, to me, the death to which I most aspire is to die peacefully in my sleep of multiple gunshot wounds.

It sounds on the surface contradictory. It is not.

See, the first bullet may jar you awake, and you’d be briefly pissed. But bullets four through six will shut your lights out with minimal disruption.

Sleeping next to a snoring spouse is more annoying.

At least, I guess, in the short run.

So that’s how I’d like to go.

What can I say? You’ve got your bucket list. I’ve got my kick-the-bucket-list.

One way I do I not want to go is right now being played out in the chilly waters of the North Atlantic. 

With five souls right now in grievous peril, some may say any lurid discussion of the fate of the crew of the Titan submersible is in poor taste.


The crew is composed of wealthy bona fide adventurers. They wipe their asses with waivers that in cold legalese warn just what happened really could happen.

They not only mock death. They court it.

They each paid up to $250,000 to secure a voyage on the Titan.

Although at least one of them had flown into outer space, they weren’t the kind of people anyone would describe as “flighty.” I’m sure they and their retainer lawyers did their due diligence and decided the result would be worth the risk.

I have a thousand questions. 

First: do you think they were wearing seatbelts? My vehicle doesn’t move until everyone is buckled up.

Another question: If they, indeed, took every precaution, how come the story doesn’t have a happy ending involving a winch and a surface crew reeling in a really, really long rope with the vulnerable sub on one end and  sweet salvation on the other.

Having a long rope solves many at-sea misfortunes.

Many people say their greatest fear is the fear of dying alone. My greatest fear is dying in a room crowded with many people. 

I think for me the worst part would be the hours and hours of small talk with perfect strangers while awaiting a rescue that may never come.

Imagine the conversations. 

The English woman would say she regretted cheating on her faithful husband. The older Australian dude would say he was sorry he missed out on his kids’ childhood. The guy most like me would repeatedly keep apologizing for the constant farts.

It’d be all me. Me. Me.

Why, I doubt Bob Dylan’s name would even come up.

Who wouldn’t prefer to die all alone? But are we ever all alone?

Homer Simpson didn’t think so. When he was being quizzed about his drinking habits, Marge asked if her hubby ever drank alone. Homer responded by asking if God counted as a person.

Yes, I’d want God for my co-pilot in any situation when death seemed imminent.

I’d thank Him for such sweet life, for the love so many of His children shared with me, and for such a laughter filled life.

I’d say I was sorry for all my sins, my sloth, gluttony and for holding to many petty grudges.

And I’d ask Him to forgive me for in a world in need of so much urgent prayer, I chose to write jocular things like this.

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