And Another Thing

Make The Pitcher Throw A Strike
There are certain basic laws that govern our actions, immovable core principles that, if not allowed to rule, can only lead to chaos and certain ruin. These rules govern our homes, our offices, our sewing rooms, our movie theaters, our softball fields.

One such rule is "make the pitcher throw a strike." It is the very essence of slow pitch softball.

I watched a game, grown men, where the pitcher walked three batters in a row on 3-1 counts. The next batter up took a swing at the first pitch. Inconceivable. The pitcher threw three more balls – another 3-1 count – and the batter, probably an otherwise mature and responsible adult, took a swing. Unbelievable.

Forget this whole 2012 thing. If the world ends tomorrow – or at least if civilization as we know it crumbles to dust – we’ll have just a few hours left to blame it on #7 on the team with the gray and white shirts.

It’s all his fault.

I Feel Bad For Pluto

I feel bad for Pluto.

Seriously, don't you feel bad for Pluto? I mean, Pluto was a planet for a really long time, up there, out there, minding it's own business, then one day it discovers that it isn't, in fact, a planet after all, but something less. How would that make you feel?

Of course, compared to the amount of time Pluto has existed, it was classified as a planet for a relatively short time, and pretty much only by Earthlings. But I still think Pluto must feel bad.

I hope downgrading the orb formerly known as Pluto doesn't make Pluto feel too bad. What problems would a loss of self-esteem cause that distant sphere?

Have we fully considered the danger? It seems to me that if you lower a planet's self esteem you run a risk of a lower orbit, and who knows what havoc a lower orbit would wreak upon an unsuspecting solar system.

Chances Are That Exclamation Point Is Wrong

I don’t use exclamation points, and resent people who use them incorrectly – which is everyone.

An exclamation is a short, sudden utterance, so it is impossible for a complete sentence to be an exclamation. It doesn’t matter how loud you mean to say it, it doesn’t matter how intently you mean it, if it isn’t a short, sudden utterance, it is not an exclamation.

My daughter Grace teases me with text messages loaded with exclamation points, so lately I’ve turned the tables on her and have added a dozen or so of the nasty lines at the ends of my messages.

Tonight she says, “You complain about how I never text you but when I do, all you can talk about is exclamation points!” She made a good point, and a nice little chat followed.

Thanks, Grace!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Kids, Kids, Kids

Kids. You can’t live with ‘em, and apparently you can’t just leave them at the bus station anymore. I wouldn’t trade mine for anything, but they sure can strain your gravy, can’t they?

Teach them words, they talk bad to you. Teach them reasoning skills, they decide you are stupid. Teach them independence, they do what they want. Teach them to drive, they move to other states, and take their children with them.


You can’t live with them, and after a while, I guess you’re not supposed to.

Hate Speech Depends On Your Side Of The Aisle

A local lawyer has a message board on the street in front of his office. As these messages change every week, his political leanings become more obvious.

A recent sign read: “Hey Dick, how does it feel to finally have a heart?”

Of course, had someone “from the other side of the aisle” said the same thing about, say, Joe Biden, there would have been honks and howls, and yet another protest against hate speech.

Isn’t it funny how that works.

"Muzak To My Ears"

I’m waiting in the bank lobby the other day, and I notice the elevator music that used to play quietly overhead isn’t quiet and it isn’t elevator music. It’s Alice Cooper, celebrating that “schoooool’s out for ever….”

The next song was bad boy Joe Walsh, followed by Credence Clearwater Revival, “ain’t no senator’s son,” and then the freewheeling Bob Dylan, Blowin’ In The Wind.

Each of these singers used to matter. Each was a rebel in his day, a protester, a rowdy, a troublemaker, anti-establishment, anti-authority, anti-older generation.

And now some of their most significant songs are background music – in a bank. I’ll bet if they weren’t all still alive they would all be spinning in their graves.

Our Netflix Queue

I gotta get control of our Netflix queue. I don’t mean to point fingers, ahem, but four of our last five movies were duds that took us weeks to work up the will to watch, and filled us with such apathy that it took many more weeks to return them. Netflix is less of a good deal if it takes two months to return a DVD.

The movie that arrived today is about an obscure English king – which ought to tell you plenty about how bad it’s going to be – and apparently the gist of the movie is that he stutters.

Are you kidding me? What’s next, a movie about French King Philip IV, who didn’t know which fork to use? A movie about how halitosis nearly spoiled the reign of Ferdinand VI?

No, no, no, don’t give me that “but it won three Academy Awards and a Golden Globe” routine. Popularity and quality are two distinct and unrelated entities, as you well know.

Make Your Next Event Historic: Gobble Some Shrimp With The Ghost Of Oswold

There is a museum on the sixth floor of the former Texas School Book Depository in Dallas, with 325,000 visitors annually. The museum offers permanent exhibits with “films, photographs and artifacts that chronicle President Kennedy’s life, death and legacy,” which makes sense and probably is a good idea.

The seventh floor is reserved for “monthly programs and special events.”

The seventh floor also is available for rent, you know, for parties and corporate events. Does this disturb you?

Beginning at a mere $1,100 your group or organization can “Make your next event historic!” The web site photographs of banquet tables and lavish buffets seem out of place next to photos of where the gunman allegedly fired the shots, and out the window to the fatal street below.

How this “present[s] contemporary culture within the context of presidential history” is what I want to know. Is that what our culture has come to, where executives say, Hey, let’s all go get liquored up and see where that Kennedy dude bought it, then eat us some shrimp.

Would you have your daughter’s wedding reception there? Maybe each guest would get a souvenir bullet casing or perhaps a cell from the Zapruder film.

Not All Rednecks Are A**holes

“Not all rednecks are a**holes.”

That line is from Tom Clancy, in Patriot Games. My question is: why do we use the asterisks? Is a**hole somehow less offensive than using the esses? Are there people or editors or censors who don’t know what the secret word is?

As disguises go, it’s really not that clever.

I interviewed newsman Les Whitten, who told a story about standing at a urinal next to President Johnson, who referred to a story Whitten had done as “chickensh*t.” I repeated the story in our student newspaper, without the asterisk, and the administration was mad, mad, mad. Here I quoted a highly respected journalist who quoted the POTUS, so I figured the word was part of the story, part of who LBJ was, so I spelled it out.

Would everyone have been less offended had I used the _ _ _ _ing asterisk? I wonder.

Why Can My Phone Fix Words My Computer Cannot?

My computer, which cost as much as a decent used car, uses Microsoft Office, which cost hundreds more. My iPhone, which cost $50, uses apps that mostly cost 99 cents.

So why is it, that if I mistype almost any word on my phone, the word fixes itself? If my phone spell checker can catch and fix words like governer and merchandice and civli , why can’t Microsoft Word fix it automatically?

I can’t imagine the employees at Mircosoft (Word missed that one, too) who maintain MS Word don’t have smart phones. I hate to think they are texting each other at lunch, and the phone changes colro to color, rather than just redlining it, and one says out loud, “Wow, I didn’t know you could do that….”

Approved By The Author

“This abridgement approved by the author.” At the bottom of the box on most abridged audio books, that's what it says.

Of course it does.

What that means is, “We gave the author a really, really big check.”

Why else would any author, who labored painstakingly over each and every word choice, each and every sentence, each and every action, willingly approve those words, thoughts and actions being removed from his or her work?

Million-Dollar Ideas
Arnold Schwarzenegger said that "Money doesn't make you happy. I now have $50 million, but I was just as happy when I had $48 million."

Most of us work hard, so why aren’t we millionaires? There are 9 million millionaires in America – how hard could it be?

Having read The Millionaire Mind, The Millionaire Next Door, The One-Minute Millionaire, and having watched The Happiest Millionaire many times, I’ve decided that the easiest way to become a millionaire is to write a book that has “millionaire” in the title.

Here are some ideas: Eat Blueberries Like Millionaires Do, and The Millionaire Morals Of Angry Birds, and Millionaire Knitters Next Door, and Blogging Your Way To Being A Millionaire.

Man, is that a million-dollar idea or what?

Don't Be Stupid

I still think “Don’t Be Stupid” is a great slogan for a college, but my former employer, the college, didn’t think so.

None of us wants to be thought stupid, but it seems pretty likely, at least according to these experts:

“No matter how smart you are, you spend much of your
day being an idiot.” Scott Adams

“Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.” Albert Einstein

“The two most common elements in the universe are hydrogen and stupidity.” Harlan Ellison

And three from Voltaire, who must have been having a bad day:

“A witty saying proves nothing.”

“Anything that is too stupid to be spoken is sung.”

“To succeed in the world it is not enough to be stupid, you must also be well-mannered.”

Spiderman For The Price Of A Car

Our trip to see the new Spiderman cost our little family of four $100. Tickets, a little candy, a little popcorn, and we're down a C-note.

How can that be? My first car cost $100, and it lasted a lot longer than the movie.

Why do we do it?

We volunteer at the concessions stand for our local minor league baseball team, and for a family of four to park, buy tickets and eat a hot dog, chips and a medium soft drink, it costs $100.

I wonder if the players understand that as far as the organization goes, they are the loss leader. Their only purpose is to get people into the seats. Selling hot dogs and beer, that's the real business behind baseball.

Sat It Ain't True, Drew

GlaxoSmithKline admitted “that from January 1999 to December 2003, there were some occasions on which certain GSK sales representatives, speakers, and consultants promoted its antidepressant Wellbutrin to physicians for uses which were not FDA-approved in violation of federal law."

One of those, apparently, was Drew Pinsky, our trusted TV friend
Dr. Drew, according to the Wall Street Journal. For telling listeners “he prescribes it… to depressed patients because it ‘may enhance or at least not suppress sexual arousal,’” Dr. Drew “received payments from Glaxo totaling $275,000 for ‘services for Wellbutrin.’"

That’s a pretty good pay day. While GSK discounts the event because it happened 13 years ago, what does that tell us about Dr. Drew and other TV doctors? Making no apology,
Drew responded that "my comments were consistent with my clinical experience."

Perhaps, but couldn’t it also be said that take the money and run is consistent with your personal ethics?

Meat Free Monday
I heard about Meat Free Monday because of its association with Paul McCartney, a long-time vegetarian. I disagree with many principles of vegetarianism, but I guess if a guy does it for 50 years and is still healthy and active at 72, there may be something to it. Plus, they have a cookbook.

As it says on the MFM web site, “By giving up meat for one day each week you can save money, reduce your environmental impact and live a healthier life.”

A little cheaper and a little healthier is good, whether it helps the environment or not, but what concerns me about meat is all the chemicals used in
getting meat to market. So one day without it couldn’t hurt, right?

You can find out more
here. And tell me what you think.

Something More Than A Boy Band
Our neighborhood gang was out playing that Sunday night in 1964, when everyone else rushed into their houses to watch The Beatles on Ed Sullivan. My family watched, but I just went upstairs to read.

I didn’t become a Beatles fan until 1971, long after the group had disbanded. My older brother had a nice stereo, and I used to sneak into his room and listen with headphones to whatever record he had on the turntable, and it was almost always a
Beatles album. Perhaps it was just the illicit thrill, but I was knocked out by their music, Paul’s bass, the dynamic harmonies and captivating lyrics, the variety.

Kids today don’t realize what a social phenomenon The Beatles were, and how successful they were. The Beatles sold an average of 1,000,000 records a week, every week, for more than seven years. For comparison, the
Nas song Life Is Good is No. 1 this week with a mere 135,000 copies sold.

Many of you know, but one week in 1964, John, Paul, George and Ringo had the
top five songs in the country, 14 songs in the top 100, and five Number One tunes that year. No one will top that, ever, not even Katy Perry.

Mow 'Em Down With Teamwork

I mowed lawns with a kid named Alan. I ran my mower at the normal height, but Alan ran his high. "The grass grows back quicker that way," he said. I was uncomfortable with that, but said nothing.

One day, instead of me mowing the front and him the back, we followed each other around. We ended up with a corn maze effect, where his rows were taller, which the homeowner noticed. She made us redo the lawn, and since my mower cut lower, I had to go over all the places Alan mowed.

I learned two things that day: Work is better when you work as a team toward a common goal, and try not to be in business with people who don’t have the client’s best interests in mind.

No Rainouts In Football

Our first rain in a long time just happened to be on the eve of the first home football game of our daughter’s school, where she was going with her father. He called to ask whether she had any rain gear. “Well,” she answered, “I have waterproof mascara….”

Quit Lying To Kristen: She Stinks
“That’s okay, Kristen, you did good,” lied her mother. “Good job, honey, good job.”

How can it possibly be good for Kristen to be told she did a good job? She just gave up two base hits and walked 11 batters. She got no one out while giving up eight runs. Kristen did not do a good job. Kristen stunk up the place. How does it help her to say she did well?

I’m sure Kristen is a nice girl. Tell her she is smart. Tell her she is a whiz at math. Tell her she does one heck of a limbo. Tell her how great she is at the flute. But do not tell her she did good when she walked eight runs home.

Tell Kristen you love her. Tell her she’s adorable. Tell her she rocks in every other walk of life, but do not tell her she did
well when she threw 44 pitches off the plate. How could that possibly help her?

Where are we headed when mediocrity and abject failure are praised and rewarded? All it does, it seems to me, is remove incentive to do well, and it cheapens the whole experience for those who actually are good.

Never Back Down, Even If You're A Wimp

I weighed 106 pounds at the start of football season my sophomore year. On the program, the coach listed me as 110 pounds. He said he didn't want the other team to know I weighed less. It’s not like the other team ever saw me play, though. I think I was on the fifth string offense just because we didn't have a sixth string.

The biggest player was listed at 210. This also was a lie, by about 60 pounds. Coach said he didn't want the bad guys to know how much he really weighed, either.

I knew how much he weighed because, for some reason, it seemed I was always supposed to block or tackle or run past this guy in practice.

I probably never did. But I tried. I never backed down, even though I knew I was going to take a hit. "Like throwing water against a wall," the coach used to say.

Winning isn't always in accomplishing a thing, it's in trying. It's in getting back up, knowing you're just going to get knocked down again. Winning is gaining self-mastery.

HOPE I Don't Do Jail Time
Did you read that Shepard Fairey, the guy who created that blue and red HOPE poster of President Obama, stole the original image from the Associated Press. Then he lied about it in court, apparently, until he eventually admitted to “creating fake documents and destroying others in an effort to subvert the civil discovery process.”

Am I the only one who thinks that’s funny?

Abbot And Costello Right In Our Car

Aubrey's friend, who dropped her phone in Kool Aid, wasn't answering her new one. Here's a front seat, back seat conversation on the way to the girl's house yesterday:

Aubrey: I hope she didn't drop this one in Kool Aid.

Me: You hope she didn't go to Kuwait?

Aubrey: No, she's been awake all day.

To Kill A Mockingbird Is Good, Despite What Homer Simpson Says

I love To Kill A Mockingbird. It is the only book I reread that halfway through, I start hoping it will end differently, just this once.

No Pain No Gain No Way

Playing a board game, Libby Lu was tossing little pink Nerds at Aubrey. After, Kelly said, "you have to pick up every little Nerd in this room." Aubrey responded, "that means you'll have to pick up my dad, too."


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...