Saturday, September 30, 2023

Best tweets of October (rough)

I was railing against the 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 considered 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 my name on the best seller lists and the return of $4 beers at the baseball games!

•There ought to be a weather person museum with one wall dedicated to the memory of early meteorologists who used rudimentary science to explain to the primitives that lightning was the result of atmospheric conditions — and not the wrath of a vengeful God. Nearby there should be a scholarly presentation of the many times mobs of religious fanatics disagreed and tried to settle the dispute once and for all by burning the sassy heretic at the stake.


• Inhumanity results anytime man opts to wage war. "Wage" is too commanding a verb to cede exclusively to war. You never hear of anyone waging anything but war. Let the change begin with me. On this beautiful day, I shall wage golf. Our children will wage school. And Val will wage pickleball! And we can all hope someone, somewhere is trying to wage peace.

• I’d like to see what would happen if we really sealed the borders. Not with Mexico. I'm talking Burning Man. No one gets in or out. It would be fascinating to see what kind of society this group of nihilists would create, How would they worship? Care for their sick? How would their Olympic team perform? Then let's try the same experiment with people who really like cats.

• If your child is attending the Greater Latrobe Senior Sunrise ceremony, be sure to advise them to be looking East. Not West. Tell them to ignore any fellow students who tell them to look West. And don’t worry. I’m already reaching out to school administrators about contingency plans should  today be the day the sun chooses not to rise.

• People who say they’re flat broke as if it’s the very worst financial situation are wrong. Let me tell you: some of us aspire to being flat broke, which implies a certain leveling. We not only lack dough, but every where we look we see disheartening divots of debt. Flat broke? Try being concave broke.

• If I’ve ever even seen one then I did not know what I was looking at, but when a pigeon is in its pigeon hole is it facing forward or backward? I mean, are we seeing the pigeon’s face or the pigeon’s hole?

• Woke bolt upright in a cold sweat. dreamt I’d had an accident on a busy city intersection. No one was hurt, but my car burst into flames. I escaped in the nick of time. I was standing there grateful to be alive when I realized everyone was staring at me. I’d forgotten. It was “Don’t Wear Pants While You’re Driving Friday!” How embarrassing. Oh, well. Happy “Don’t Wear Pants While You’re Driving Friday!”

• Because I’m all for removing violence from the language I will henceforth no longer use the term “bullet points” to describe punchy ideas. I’ll instead call those breakout ideas “Levitating Conclusionary Punctuation.” I gotta tell you, something in my gut tells me this one won’t be catching on …

• It is estimated that 52 percent of Americans will die in hospital beds. I hope I die on a battlefield — not as a warrior, certainly, but as a guy who made a wrong turn and wound up in lethal crossfire while asking for directions to the nearest Appleby’s 

• Just dawned on me that I never heard the old man drop an f-bomb. He’d use profanity, say, on the golf course, but never the f-bomb. Now, I’m not willing to cede he was a better father. After all, the man raised me and I use two f-bombs when I ask someone at the supper table to pass the salt so he went wrong somewhere.

• Friend at the gym said she just made her goal weight. “And that was with my shoes on!” she said, alluding to a tactic with which many of us are aware: Do not step on the scale wearing shoes, heavy clothes, etc., lest the result be tainted by extraneous factors. I know some who won’t step on a scale until they’ve evacuated their bowels. To me, they’re all pikers. I don’t step on the scale until I’ve aggressively trimmed my nose hairs.

• I used to mock the excessively tattooed, but as I age and my appearance becomes less and less appealing, I see at vivid tattoo as a way of distracting observers from examining all the flaws. Or I could just save the dough and stop wearing pants in public. 

• Just read India, pop. 1.4 billion, may change its name to Bharat. I doubt anyone there would pay any mind to me, but I’d like them to instead consider changing it to the Republic of Fred. I’ve known a number of Freds in my life and not a one of them ever started any trouble. Just easy-going guys. Maybe if you named a nation Fred then Freds would follow. But what do I know? I’m the guy who whenever he sets foot in Murrysville, pop. 21,738, is always reminded I’ve never met a single Murry in Murrysville.

• He’s one of history’s most revered orators and his is one of mankind’s most monumental speeches, but if Abe Lincoln returned and began a live broadcast with the words, “Four score and 7 years ago …” every viewer would immediately tune him out and begin poking at their phones to figure out just what the hell he was talking about.’

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

LBGTQ & how we no longer lose our virginity


(590 words)

So I was sitting here in my shabby little office the other day thinking about sex. This is a not uncommon scenario. 

I think about sex a lot.I think about last time I had some. How good it was. And, good or bad (irrelevant) , how soon before I’ll be getting some more.

What am I supposed to think about? The Oxford comma?

I don’t think I think about sex in an unhealthy way. I mean sex isn’t all I think about.

Sometimes I think about pizza, too. Curiously, when I think about pizza, I think many of the same questions I think when I think about sex.

 When was the last time I had some? How good was it? And, good or bad (irrelevant), how soon before I’ll be getting some more.

But just the other day, a new thought broke through the mental clutter with a question that had nothing to do with either me getting my jollies or me indulging in nutritionally desolate artery cloggers.

The question is …

How are kids losing their virginity these days?

The answer is more complicated than you might think.

It has to do with the eagerness of today’s open-mined youth to align themselves with the LBGTQ movement — and one of these days I’m going to see how Wordle responds if I type LBGTQ in for my first guess.

In fact, the most up-to-the-moment designation is LGBTQQIP2SA, which represents Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, Two-Spirited and Asexual.

LIST GLOBS, SALT PIQS and BAGI SAPS  are just some of the nonsense words you can spell using those letters.

But, to me, what I see it spelling is TROUBLE. Not for me.

For my penis!

I exaggerate for effect, but when you break it down, for many of these affiliates, a functioning penis is no longer necessary in losing one’s virginity.

There’s a certain fairness to this.

After all, if two enthusiastic and monogamous lesbians fall in love and spend their lives together, rich lives filled with physical romance, can you really call them virgins?

At what point is virginity lost? For dudes it would seem clear cut. Like when Adam and Eve were alone to frolic in paradise, interrupted only when they bickered over things like Trump. You just let nature take its course.

It’s been that way for heterosexuals ever since but as the number of sexual farm teams expanded it seems the idea is losing its quaintness.

Can a gay man lose his virginity, but not a lesbian? And how fair is this? It could be anatomically argued that same gay man could lose two virginities. On the same night!

What about an Intersexer or a Pansexer? And someone will have to explain both terms to me. For all I know, I might have been a lusty Pansexer right up until I became a father.

I asked a young hipster what she thought about it, all the confusion, all the blurred lines.

Her thoughtful answer struck me as the perfect mindset to keep the fraught topic from driving you nuts.

“Losing your virginity is just a concept.”

Far out

The whole topic convinces me that my clever Harry Houdini line shall remain relevant for years to come. It is …

“History books show it took Harry Houdini fewer than 4 minutes to escape from a straight jacket. 

“I have to imagine escaping from an LBGTQ jacket would be a whole lot more complicated.”

Well, that’s it for today. Almost time for lunch.

I’m all of a sudden thinking pizza.

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Monday, September 25, 2023

There are worse things than being flat broke


(717 words)

I’m aware of many unfortunates who lament being flat broke. They’re barely getting by,. They live lives of quiet desperation.

I envy them. I aspire to being flat broke.

I’m a whole different and exotic kind of broke. Mine is a life of shrill desperation.

I’ve maxed out my credit cards, bummed what I can from family and until, say, Oprah gives “Evan & Elle” a 5-star review there is no rational way out.

And the new lows continue their descent.

How low? I bummed $30 gas money off a passenger last week and have ever since been trying to avoid all the places she goes.

But that’s challenging because she’s my 23-year-old daughter and it’s impossible to avoid a person who says things like, “Please pass the salt” at the dinner table.

She’ll just have to wait.

Flat broke?

I’m concave broke.

Waking up every day and realizing you’re flat broke is beginning that day with your toes on the starting line. You’re in the race. When you hear the starter’s pistol go off, you can be reasonably sure the bullet isn’t heading towards you.

Being concave broke means you start out every day in the hole. 

Others may feel embarrassment at the realization, a soul-sucking shame that leads them to take prudent steps to alter the situation, maybe get a job. Or two.

I steadfastly refuse to do either.

To me, the only embarrassment isn't about the situation, which I believe is common, but the fact that I don't have a good story to tell about how I got here.

No hookers. No pharmaceuticals. No mistress. No lost month in Vegas. It's just the cost of me doing business.

And I still  believe I will prosper doing exactly what I’ve always done.

This is the very definition of insanity; doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. But I’ve drawn a line in the sand, an apt metaphor for a man who seems to have never matured beyond the proverbial sandbox.

I remain confident — resolutely confident — that one day soon my big break will arrive. Admittedly, I’ve been saying that exact same thing every day since 1992 and have been wrong every single day since,

If my idea of quitting traditional work 31 years ago was a get-rich-quick scheme  then it’s failed on both counts. The scheme hasn’t made me rich and it’s taken a lifetime.

I believe I’ve tried everything. I populate the social media. I’ve had books traditionally published and self-published. I’ve taken my titles to chains and independents. I’ve tended tables at book fairs and farmer’s markets.

Nothing’s worked.

Including me!

We live at a time when many of the brightest minds in the business can’t figure out how to break even selling stories. For God’s sake, The New York Times is closing its sports department to cut costs.

The New York Times!

You may have heard, I’m starting a “Use All The Crayons!” podcast (thanks to friends at Latrobe Bulletin for this Page 1 story). It’ll be a celebration of Latrobe and the very best of the 2,500 human interest stories I’ve covered for the last three decades.

So it’s the sum of my parts. Because, really that’s what I’m all about. My ambition is to talk to every single person on the planet and find out what makes them tick. What do they love? What do they hate? Is the struggle all worth it?

And in life is there such a thing as a truly happy ending?

So I’m putting on a big fundraising push which involves me writing letters to people who have a lot of money and asking them to give some of it to me. It’s that simple.

Honestly, I thought if I ever put the word out that I needed dough the result would be like the final scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life!” The telegrams would ring clear over in Europe — “Hee! Haw!” — and folks would show up at The Tin Lizzy with hampers full of cash to dump over my head while I was power napping facedown on the bar.

It didn’t happen like that at all. But that’s not to say it still might.

And wouldn’t that be glorious!

So you see, my finances may be concave but my spirit soars still.

I can’t help but wonder if sub-consciously, this was my plan all along.

Maybe I knew I wouldn’t be satisfied until I could claim I’d become what I’d so zealously pursued my entire life.

A great story with a really happy ending.