Wednesday, May 31, 2023

What we used to call Tweets of the Month...

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• I swear, if I were a lumberjack, I’m certain I’d spend less time jackin’ lumber and more time sitting in the shade pondering what to me is the root question of the profession: “Okay, the boss ordered me to cut this tree down. And as soon as I do he’ll order me to cut the tree up. Down! Up! Up! Down! Make up your mind! … Or is it make it down?” It ain’t easy having the brain of a free-range chicken.

• Thought of showing solidarity with my striking Hollywood writing brothers and sisters until I realized how impractical it would be, what with pals forever inviting me to cross my own Tin Lizzy picket line and join them inside for a drink. #ChrisCross

• Book facts: “Evan & Elle” vs. “The Holy Bible”

The “Holy Bible”  contains 783,137 words, none of which is the word Bible. It’s true: The word “Bible” does not appear in The Bible.  “Evan & Elle” is 85,842 words long, 17 of which are the word Bible. Also, the word “begat” is used 139 times in the Bible, but not once in my book. Yet 9 times in my book, “hot tub” is used  and it appears not even once in The Bible. Then there is this: The Holy Bible sells roughly 100 million copies each year. In almost one year, “Evan & Elle” has sold 133 copies. What all this means, I cannot fathom, but this much I know ... my next book is going to have a heckuva lot more begatting than “Evan & Elle.”

• Just finished my morning banana. Looking for a place to safely dispose of the hazardous peel. Even though I find slapstick  comedies about guys slipping on carelessly discarded banana peels hilarious, I wouldn't want to risk injuring an innocent. I wonder if monkeys are so careful. I'd think Monkeyland would be an endless carnival of primate pratfalls. I wonder if monkeys laugh when another monkey slips on a peel. Some days I wish I were a monkey.

• It is generally agreed there are 600,000 words in the English language. But until we find another word for trunk, which describes both the front of an elephant and the back of a car, confusion will rain, er, reign.

• My fear is that another unforeseen consequence of climate change is when the weather forecasters say, “It’s really comin’ down in buckets,” they’ll be speaking factually. A typical 5-gallon bucket full of water weighs about 45 lbs, enough to shred even the sturdiest umbrella. Cities will be leveled. Cat-’n’-dog precipitation will be even more gruesome. Old-timers like me will sit in shelters and regale the kiddos with our folksy stories of what it used to be like back when rain was just rain.

• Just read that Napoleon said one hour-long bath is the restorative equivalent to four hours sleep. Some will read that and use it to justify luxuriating in a nice warm bath for maybe an hour every once in a while. I go full extrapolation. Eight hour-long baths each and every day! Vive la France!

• I was blown away stuck in traffic today when my 16-year-old out-of-the-blue said just 2 words: "You're good". I immediately choked up and said, "Well, I try. I know I'm not the best provider, the hardest worker or drive the nicest car, but to have a daughter willing to say outloud what I pray she in her heart believes means I must be doing something right." She said that's not what she meant. The traffic had parted and she was telling me it was safe to proceed. 

• Coronation coverage spurred me to finally learn the identity of the neighboring properties adjacent to No. 10 Downing St. The world-famous address just seems so ordinary. That's because it is. Turns out No. 9 Downing St. is ... a Sheetz convenience mart! What's at No. 11 Downing St? Another Sheetz! I didn't research what's at Nos. 8 and 12 Downing, but I'm sensing a trend.

• There are 7.88 billion people on this angry planet. Just imagine how many there’d be if there were no wars or insane violence inflicted on one another? We’d all be stepping on one another’s toes. Maybe war and insane violence are God’s way of controlling the population. I mean imagine a world without victims. Imagine.

• Daughter just came back from a disappointing dinner with friends. Said the waitress was rude. Abrupt. Indifferent. I told her there are going to be people like that, people who resent her and her friends for their youth, their appearance, their optimism and their long, beautiful hair. Almost had her believing it until I blurted out, “Happens to me all the time!”

• When push comes to shove, I'm fine with push coming to shove. My problem is that today in America we go straight from shove to semi-automatic assault weapons. I'm growing nostalgic for the days when people used to be satisfied when all they hurt were my feelings. 

• it’s not uncommon to hear people complain things are so tight they're on a shoestring budget, meaning they have little money. Don't let me hear you bitching about that. At least, I say, you can afford shoestrings. It's way worse for me. Always broke. No work. I guess that means I'm on a loafer's budget.

• Was seeking a word to describe reader-relationship to my books and thought of “beloved.” It’s a good word, but a bit presumptuous. Too bad there isn’t “beliked.” Betolerated doesn’t exist either. Good thing because if it did I’d feel obliged to use it in relation to my precarious family situation. It would be considered unbecoming and from my home I’d likely be going

• It’s not uncommon to hear older men wistfully refer to lost loves as “the one that got away.” Now, these guys are my friends, but I knew them then and I know them now. They didn’t get away. They fled. At full speed. Like from altar to 60 mph in 3 seconds. They burned rubber. They were Bandit. You were Smokey. 

• I can imagine there is no heaven. It’s easy if I try. No hell below us. Above us only sky. I can imagine all the people living for today. I can imagine many things, but I cannot for the life of me imagine a world without bacon.

• I was trying to teach a bone-headed young friend of the value of spending, say, $140 on a fancy shirt while you’re young and affluent, as he is. “I just can’t see spending $140 on a shirt,” he said. I told him it’s only a $140 shirt the first time you wear it. Then it becomes a $70 shirt. Then the next wear it’s a $35 shirt. “Why I have some shirts I bought in 2001 that cost me mere pennies per wear and every time I wear it, I feel a surge of tastefulness amidst all the compliments.” He said, “Yeah, but I can’t see spending $140 on a shirt.” Know what I think? I should spend less time trying in vain to educate overpaid young boneheads and more time hearing style tips from my friends Kevin & Bob at Lapels in Greensburg. 

• 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.

• The first Memorial Day was commemorated May 30, 1868. Organizers believed the day was necessary so we would never forget the cruel sacrifices of war. Today’s headlines feature news of war in Ukraine, Sudan, Myanmar, Syria, Somalia, Columbia, Afghanistan, Ecuador, etc. And in case you haven’t noticed, things are getting a mite tense right here at home. Ah, war,  how can we ever forget ya? You’ve never gone away.

• I’d be lying if I said I was happy to have succumbed to male pattern baldness, but if it had to happen I’m relieved it happened years before I ever had to look in the mirror during the morning groom and ask the question: Let’s see for today: Man bun or no man bun?

• In my restless quest to funnel money from my brain into Buck 's pocket, I'm going to urge him to re-brand the Tin Lizzy basement bar as a trendy boutique winery that'll appeal to deep-pocket hipsters who enjoy being in on the joke. Coming soon (probably not), 'The Grapes of Rathskeller!'"

Monday, May 22, 2023

It's true: Fred Rogers & Arnold Palmer never got along


(674 words)

I’m proud that all my books and subsequent talks are all about spreading happiness and understanding. My aim is to uplift the downtrodden.

So why is it one of the things I’m sure my audience always remembers most is something most distressful?

I guess it’s because no one wants to believe that Arnold Palmer and Fred Rogers never got along.

It’s true.

Two of the warmest, most gracious and historically kind men didn’t like the thought of being in the same room together. Heck, it seems they didn’t like having to share Latrobe.

How do I know?

The realization came to me incrementally.

The first hint — and it was a blunt one — came in June 2004. I was in Palmer’s office days after George W. Bush had awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor the U.S. can bestow.

I congratulated him and said, “How about Latrobe winning two Presidential Medals of Freedom in the last two years!”

I’d startled him. “Who won before I did?” he asked.

“Why, Fred Rogers won in 2002,” I said.

“He did? …

“Damn it.”

I thought his instinctual reaction was hilarious. After all, here was a renown competitor so sensitive to coming in 2nd he begrudged a hometown classmate for beating him to a rare honor. And not only was the winner worthy, he was beloved around the world for many of the same reasons as Palmer.

And his reaction stuck with me. Could I have misread the situation?

I’d every once in a while try to sleuth some answers.

Try this: Google “Arnold Palmer” and “Fred Rogers.” There is not one single picture of the pair together.

Big deal, you say?

They were one year apart in school; Fred is 13 months senior to Palmer and graduated in ’46, Palmer in ’47.

Within 10 years of graduation both had achieved notoriety and were well on their way to enduring international fame.

What does a small town do with a pair like that? It puts them in the Fourth of July parades. It features them at ribbon cuttings. It puts them mugging for the camera on the front page of the local paper.

Not one picture.


There are more pictures of Palmer and me.

Well, they were busy men, some will say. There’d have been scheduling conflicts.

There may well have been.

But three decades' worth?

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood"  ran from 1968 through 2001. The years coincide with the years Palmer was one of the most popular men on the planet. He’d already won armloads of international championships, presidents and royals alike sought his company and his warmth was considered so genuine, many of Americas most reputable brands showered him with cash just to have his name associated with their products.

But he was never once on a show that had “neighbor” in the title and starred a man who was an actual small town neighbor. They could have talked about old teachers, school dances, old flames, etc. They could have talked about the golf lessons Fred took from Arnie's old man, the local pro.

Instead of Palmer, featured guests included ballerinas, cops, cobblers, steel workers, nurses, athletes — friends from all walks of life. 

He even had a talking gorilla named Koko on in ’98.

I envision a production meeting where they’re discussing potential guests and someone says, “Well, we’re down to two. We could ask Arnold Palmer or we could ask Koko, the Talking Gorilla.”

I see Fred leaning back in his chair and saying, “Well, let’s ask the gorilla. If he says no, then let’s ask Palmer.”

Over 31 years and 912 episodes, there was not even a mention of Arnold Palmer.

Fascinating. I’ll leave it up to the speculators to divine who’s to blame for the apparent life-long rift between two of the most famously gracious men ever to walk the planet. 

I think it’s upsetting because we’re left to conclude, gee, if Arnold Palmer and Fred Rogers can’t overcome their petty differences, what chance do the rest of us have?

It seems we’re fated to endure lives of squabble and bitterness.

It is inescapable.

Damn it.

(All Chris's books can be bought through;; 724 961-2558)

Tuesday, May 2, 2023

My unwanted adventure inside the women's restroom


(757 words)

I mistakenly found myself on the culture war front lines Saturday at an otherwise innocent golf bash..

And, yep, my penis was partly to blame.

It by mistake led me into the ladies' room.

It’s where conservatives believe the about 1.4 percent of Americans who identify as transgender are massing to present temptations that likely would have sent Adam & Eve scrambling all over Eden searching for some sort of early owner’s manual.

The conservatives don’t want even a single penis in the ladies room. After Saturday, I can relate.

I’d been invited to sign Arnold Palmer books (primarily) at the Somerset Golf Bash at the vast Bakersville Banquet Hall. I’d have a table set up right by the entrance guaranteeing heavy foot traffic. Plus the emcee/host is a friend of mine and an articulate advocate of my books. 

And this is all in front of 300 golfers there to spend money to win golf equipment, trips and memorabilia. How many books under those advantageous circumstances do you think I sold: Twenty-five? Fifty? More?

I sold eight. I’m aware many writers would view this as yet another career humiliation. Not me.

Here’s how I did the math:

I was there from 11 to 4. Walked in with nothing; departed with $160; spent time laughing with old friends and made some new ones. Ate free and was given a little yellow wrist band that meant I was master of my sobriety.

I could drink as much or as little as I wanted — For free! I decided to err on the side of getting a little shitfaced.

Yes, I gave in to a good long guzzle. It was fun. My table mate was a recent Pitt graduate. He’d read the Palmer book and was a fan. I wasn’t driving.

Sticking to sobriety under the circumstances would have felt like a criminal betrayal of all the drinking buddies who’ve stood, er, swayed unevenly by me through so many unforgettable times neither of us will ever remember.

So I’m having fun and am just a bit north of tipsy. That’s no excuse. I’ve been having fun and been north of tipsy since the 4th grade and don’t remember missing the restroom sign. 

But this was the first time I had the guy in the mustard-stained sweater on my mind.

The stranger reminded me of my Dad, as sweet a man who ever lived, albeit one whose every garment looked like it had been worn smock-like to paint the pantry with French’s yellow mustard.

But he appeared to be so happy, being out with golfers anticipating the season. Again I thought of Dad.

The stain was on his lower back on the side that if he were a car it would be referred to as the passenger side. 

Some careless hotdog eater had perhaps brushed up against him and smeared the condiment on a sweater you just knew he cherished. The spineless assailant then just slinked away, too cowardly to confess.

That’s just what I would have done, too, by the way.

I was left with no good options. Tell him and it ruins his day. Don’t tell him and he may be ridiculed. Then there was the third option. Say nothing, do nothing and walk straight into the nearest restroom like you own the place. I don’t know how I missed the signs, but I was consumed with helpless thoughts of this dude’s mustard-stained sweater

I remember noting there were no urinals. I didn’t care. There were no women either, and an abundance of women are a telltale sign in any womens room.

I found an open stall door, entered, used my foot to lift the seat and then began to  contribute depth to the bowl contents.

It didn’t get interesting until I opened the stall door. . There were five or six women. It was like the ladies room had been invaded — by ladies!

One woman, the aggressor, asked what I was doing in there. 

I bit my tongue when I came close to reflexively answering, “My name is Chris Rodell and I’m here to tell you all about Arnold Palmer!”

She was scowling. There was an edge in her voice that let me know she was deciding whether or not a tasing was justified.

I apologized — it was sincere — and made a hasty exit. 

It was an innocent mistake. And like so many others that came before and will surely come again, assigning blame was a cinch.

Yes, it was all the fault of yet another man being careless with his wiener. 

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