If Elected….One Man’s Dream

The New Great Seal of the United States

What if I were President?  I’ve thought about that.  Not much, but I have.  Mostly when something doesn’t go to suit me–which is fairly often.  “If I were in charge…”  I guess I don’t so much want to be President as I want to be a dictator, benevolent or otherwise.  But, what if I became President through some Electoral College snafu?

Despite what Rush Limbaugh and others in the Mainstream Media would have you believe, Obama and Romney are not the only candidates.  The Reform Party, The Green Party, The Constitution Party, The Objectivist Party, The Socialist USA Party and many others have candidates.  It’s not so crazy to think that an Everyman like me could pull this off.

Now, I would never want to run for President.  If you want to read about something like that, look no further than Al Franken’s book Why Not Me?  Okay, for my conservative friends:  Don’t start sending me comments about Franken being a left-wing, liberal Communist.  He might be, but he’s also a funny guy.  Read the book.  You’ll laugh.

I wouldn’t be a good campaigner.  I don’t like a lot of travel, and I am famously impatient.  I would do poorly in interviews.  Here is how it would go:

  • INTERVIEWER:  “You’ve taken a pledge to eliminate income taxes.  What do you say to your critics who describe this as foolhardy and completely impossible?”
  • ME:  “I say they can kiss my ass. “

End of interview.  End of campaign.  Likewise, I would be a poor debater:

  • OPPONENT:  My opponent would have you believe that he has the background and experience to lead this country.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  He will only lead this country to the precipice of disaster.
  • ME:  “Hmmm.  How about I kick your ass?”

End of campaign.  There would be many other ways my campaign would end.  Someone would come forward with tales of a drunken debauch or mention that I fought a girl one time.  Women I dated in my youth would be glad to come forward and derail my ambitions.  That doesn’t even touch on the many photographs that may exist.  So, no, I would not run for President.  This doesn’t stop me from pondering the possibilities of actually being President.

Many of you have wondered what would I do as President?  I’m not saying you’d waste your time wondering what you would do, but I know you want to know what I would do.  Here’s how it would work:

VICE-PRESIDENT

Since I don’t belong to a political party, I’d probably be bombarded with suggestions from both sides. I’d go against conventional wisdom and go with Kim Jong Nam, estranged brother of North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un.  Okay, there’s probably some rule that the VP has to be an American.  Surely, we can work around that for the good of the country.  Nam seems like a fun-loving guy plus he could give us insight into the goings on in North Korea.  Also, like his little brother, I’m sure he’s been trained to look at things.  That would save me a lot of time and travel.

My affable VP, Kim Jong Nam

Nam was banished by his late father, Kim Jong il, for trying to enter Japan on a fake passport.  His explanation?  He wanted to see Disneyland.  What could be more American than that?

FOREIGN POLICY

The first thing I’d do is announce that our new official policy would be a bitter hatred of foreigners.  I don’t really feel that way, but it would be for the good of the country.  Here’s how we’d deal with the problem spots around the globe:

  • Canada:  I’ve already written extensively about this Hell hole.
  • Iran:  Nuke ’em.
  • Afghanistan:  I would consider killing everyone in Afghanistan (except the Americans, of course).  Since I don’t drink, it’s unlikely that I would really do that.  Unlikely.  Not out of the question.
  • The Middle East:  I wouldn’t waste any more time on peace efforts.  I would unilaterally declare a state of perpetual war and wish them luck.
  • North Korea:  I would announce that it’s the 51st state.  That should make them loonier than usual.
  • Pakistan:  Fire bomb the Hell out of it.

I would do all this my first week in office.  I would call it the Michael Corleone Doctrine. That should take care of most of our problems.

HEALTHCARE

I’d outlaw it.  Plain and simple.  If you’re so sickly that you are going to be a drain on our economy, go somewhere else.  REAL AMERICANS DON’T GET SICK would be our slogan.  It would be on every pick-up truck bumper in the country.  My approach would be the same as with sick kids going to school.  If your kid is sick, he or she should stay home.  If you’re sick, we’ll deport you, maybe to Canada.  No need to get the rest of us sick.

SOCIAL SECURITY

I’ll just tell people what they want to hear.  That seems to have worked for every other President.  I’ll craft my message to my audience:

  • If I’m talking to old people, I’ll say “Don’t worry.  We’re not cutting your benefits.”
  • If I’m talking to young people, I’ll say:  “Don’t worry.  Social Security will be there for you.”
  • If I’m talking to people who don’t need it, I’ll call it an “entitlement” and promise to keep it from killing our country.
  • If I’m talking to people who need it, I’ll call it a “benefit” and swear to defend it.

Mostly, I’ll just hope it fixes itself.

DEFENSE

We already spend almost as much as the rest of the world combined on our military, but THAT’S NOT ENOUGH!  Within my first 100 days in office, I’ll declare such obscure countries as Seychelles, Tuvala and Benin to be part of a Polygon of Evil.  I’ll also convince the public that we’ve angered the Martians and an attack is imminent.  It might also be possible to play off the popularity of zombie movies and plant that hideous scenario as a possibility.  The Amish and Hutterites will be tagged as domestic terror groups.  Personally, I will carry a pistol and brandish it wildly before Congress during the State of the Union Address.  My indiscriminate use of nuclear weapons will create a continuing need to restock our arsenal.  Don’t worry, there will be no defense cuts.

IMMIGRATION

I’ll randomly pick a day and declare that everyone on U.S. soil is now a citizen.  In this way, we won’t have any more foreigners roaming around.  Then, I will construct a massive wall, but it won’t be on the Mexican border.  Instead, it will randomly zig-zag across the country.  There will be no point to it.

THE ECONOMY

If it’s as big a mess as it is now, I probably won’t do anything.  If I do something, it will come down to two words:  Tax and welfare reform (that’s four words, I guess).

Lower taxes create more jobs and generate more money for the government.  It only follows that no taxes will do even more good.  We’ll probably have to repeal one of the amendments to the Constitution, but how hard can that be?  If my No Tax Plan won’t fly, I’ll issue an executive order that I won’t pay taxes.  The President is the No. 1 job creator.   Less taxes, the more jobs I’ll create.  Simple.

Welfare is a bit stickier, but I have a good plan:

  1. If you’re on welfare, you have to work building bridges and other public works.  Since we don’t have much–or any–tax money, we’ll need all the help we can get.  You’re probably thinking, “Would a bunch of welfare recipients–especially kids–be skilled workers?”  Myself, I believe in American Exceptionalism, pinko.  Under my plan, if you’re on welfare, no one will ever be able to say “You didn’t build that,” because, by God, you did.
  2. Everyone will qualify for food stamps, but here’s the rub:  You can only use them to eat food prepared by other food stamp recipients from government-supplied foodstuffs (we’ll call it Soylent Green).  It won’t take long for people to get tired of that crap. I know that kinda sounds like Communism.  Hey, the Commies weren’t wrong about everything.  If you can look past the 100 million people they killed, they had some decent ideas.

PRESIDENTIAL STYLE

Every President has his own style.  Ronald Reagan was the conservative icon.  Bill Clinton was “Slick Willy.”  There were Honest Abe, Old Hickory, Give ’em Hell Harry.  The list goes on and on.  I hope to be known as “Old Powder Keg.”  Here are some of the things I’ll do to leave my imprint:

  • I will hold frequent (maybe even daily) press conferences and answer every question with either “I’ll get back to you on that” or “I don’t give a rat’s ass.”
  • I will be the first President to address Congress wearing a John Deere hat.
  • I will chain smoke anytime I addressed the nation.

Our President missed his chance to make this the new look of the White House.

  • I will frequently quote Franklin Pierce, as the “Greatest of all our Presidents.”

Franklin Pierce, our seediest President, will be my role model.

  • I will also frequently quote Jimmy Carter, but I’ll refer to him as “History’s Greatest Monster.”
  • At least once, I will punch the Speaker of the House in the face just before the State of the Union Address.
  • I will appoint Gallagher, Manny Ramirez and Brooklyn Decker to the Supreme Court.
  • At least once, I will address the nation shirtless.
  • I will close every speech with “So, what the hell are you gonna do about it, anyway?”

Unlike LBJ, I won’t wait until I’m out of office to sport a mullet

  • Finally, if my popularity wanes, I will execute someone on TV.  With my bare hands.

THE FINAL DAYS

Although I fully intend to declare myself President-for-Life, I realize that my time in office will likely be brief.  My finals days will, no doubt, be weighed down by impeachment proceedings and assassination attempts.  There is also a strong possibility of emotional and/or mental breakdowns which go largely unnoticed by the public because of my volatile personality.  When it becomes apparent that I will not stay in office, I will abruptly quit without even giving a two-week notice.

After my resignation, I will immediately check into rehab for a dangerous addiction to bath salts and barely-legal Asian amputee pornography.  I will emerge a new man and spend the rest of my life giving speeches for 500K a pop.  Sweet.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com

Canada: The Slumbering Menace

We live in the shadow of the Maple Leaf.

North Korea is in the news a lot these days, yet I find myself pondering larger issues, instead of my usual concerns about whether I’ll miss the latest episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo or when I’ll get my nap.  I offer this as a warning of which I hope our leaders, whomever they might be, will take heed.

I’ll confess that I don’t keep abreast of geopolitical issues.  One might say that I don’t have a “world view” of things.  One might also say that I don’t pay much “attention.”  Both are true.  I am hamstrung by an ignorance of geography which is a result of my poor sense of direction.  I have never been able to readily tell left from right, for example.  When I think of the world, I sense the U.S. in the middle with lots of Spanish-speaking people to the south, Europe to the right; somewhere south of that is the dreaded Middle East; Africa is below that; way to the right is Russia; Asia is somewhere WAY out there;  there is nothing to the left but Hawaii.

I also can’t keep track of all the countries.  I’ve never heard of most of the countries in Africa.  Don’t get me started on the sundry island countries scattered about.

I watch quite a bit of TV, though.  As result, I do know some things.  Ronald Reagan spoke of the Axis of Evil:  The Soviet Union, Iran and North Korea.  John Bolton listed Cuba, Libya and Syria as Beyond the Axis of Evil.  George W. Bush taught me about The Evil Doers–Iran, North Korea, Iraq and random freelance terrorists.  Condoleeza Rice added the Outposts of Tyranny:  Belarus, Zimbabwe and Myanmar.  There are a LOT of threats out there.

Since we overthrew the government of Iraq, I guess they’re not evil anymore.  An example of my ignorance is that I have no idea who the President/Prime Minister/King/Dictator of Iraq is.  Oh, you don’t either?  I feel slightly better.

You can probably also surmise that I have trouble focusing on one topic.  This, too, keeps me from dwelling very long on world events.  Where was I?

While many Americans wring their hands over such mundane topics as health care, deficits, random shootings, war and what not, I have focused on a much insidious threat to our security–our so-called neighbors to the North.

Most Americans fear the Mexicans.  Well, maybe not most, but a goodly number do anyway.  Why?  They look different. They sound different.  Like my German ancestors, they don’t have the common courtesy to learn English before the come here.  Here’s how Americans historically thought of foreigners:

If the Japanese really looked like this, we would have lost World War II out of sheer terror.

So fearful were we of the Japanese, that we sent Japanese-Americans off to fight for the US, while we housed their families in concentration camps.  With a history like that, one would think we would be prepared against any foreign threat.  Think again.

Canadians, of course, strike no such fear in us.  Why not?  They look like us, more or less–except perhaps a bit duller.  They also speak English, except for the ones who–for reasons still obscure–speak French, for God’s sake. Plus, I can’t remember them ever winning a war.

I, for one, am not fooled.  I’m quite confident that our border with Canada is every bit as porous as the one with Mexico.  I offer this warning to all right-thinking Americans.  Why be concerned?  Read on.

O! Canada!

Have you ever heard their national anthem?  It’s beautiful.  It makes you swell with Canadian pride.  Ours, on the other hand, is an unsingable poem set to music.  The Canadians know this.  That’s why theirs is so much better.  If you hear it, you want to be one of them, even if just for a moment.  That momentary weakness is all it takes to begin the slide down the slippery slope to Canadianism.

Hockey

We all know they play hockey in Canada.  We play it, too, but mostly with Canadians.  It was once observed that Canadians taught the French to play hockey, which Europeans have never been able to do.  They haven’t had the same success with Americans.  At one time, US hockey was confined to places like New York, Philadelphia, Detroit and Chicago, places so far north that they are practically part of Canada anyway.  Now, we have hockey in California, Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida–everywhere.  What better way to infiltrate our country than by distributing their toothless, hockey-playing goons around our great nation.  Plus, this gives them ample opportunity to indoctrinate more Americans with their entrancing national anthem.  Well played.

Their Culture

What do we really know of the Canadian culture?  Oh, we’ve all eaten their bacon, which really isn’t bacon at all.  Ice-fishing is probably popular.  I’ll grant them the contributions of Steve Nash, Alex Trebek, Geddy Lee and Pamela Anderson to our culture.  Beyond those minor accomplishments, what do they offer us?

Here’s food for thought:  I read somewhere that they embrace multiculturalism.  I don’t even know what that means, but Glenn Beck says it’s really bad.  It sure sounds bad.

First off, although they speak English, it’s not really English, is it?  Do you want your kids going around saying “aboot” instead of “about?”  How about sprinkling your conversations with “eh?”  It will render our language incomprehensible.  Your kid will no longer be in the 3rd grade.  No, he’ll be in “Grade 3.”  You’ll soon be wearing a tuque on your head.  Welcome to the Great White North, my friends.

They don’t even speak English everywhere, either.  Part of the country speaks French.  Not just any French, but some kind of weird-sounding French that could be spoken on Pluto for all I know.   I had a trial once where a witness was a French-speaking Canadian.  His ridiculous French-like accent combined with my Eastern Kentucky mumble left the jury baffled.  Wouldn’t that be nice to deal with every day?

The Canadians keep their culture under wraps for the most part.  Beyond the greatness of Rush, what do we know of their music?  Their cinema?  William Shatner is, of course, their greatest actor, but he made his bones in the good old U.S. of A.

Canada’s idea of entertainment. A typical Canadian woman attempts to corrupt the morals of our youth.

The number one occupation in Canada is lumberjack, followed closely by illiterate fisherman.  Their policemen dress in Fancy Dan garb that would embarrass Siegfried and Roy.

I know nothing of their religion and don’t want to.  Suffice to say that it likely involves snow gods.

Canada boasts a much a lower violent crime rate than the U.S., even though they own a hell of a lot of guns.  This just proves that they lack the wherewithal to be a major player on the world stage.  They didn’t even wipe out all their Indians like we did.  Americans are hot-headed and prone to violence.  Look at our respective records on serial killers.  The U.S. is a veritable serial killing playground.  As far as I know, Canada has had own notorious serial killer, Robert Pickton, and they called him the “Pig Farm Killer.”  Seriously.  Oooh, scary.

THEIR “GOVERNMENT”

Like most people, I don’t know what form of government they have, other than some form of socialism.  They seem to swear allegiance to the Queen of England, so maybe they’re a British territory or part of the Commonwealth of Nations, whatever the hell that is.  They’re probably Communists.

Lest you think I’m exaggerating, the Queen is on some of their money.  Bet you thought it Wayne Gretzky or Alan Thicke.  Obviously, they’ve sworn some sort of allegiance to the Crown.  I don’t need to remind you that we fought a little war back in 1776 to get away from that kind of thing.  Speaking of their money, check this out:

Inexplicably, Jimmy Hoffa adorns the Canadian $50 bill.

It doesn’t even look like money.  It looks like a napkin or a bus pass.  Have you ever gotten one of their quarters and tried to use it in a Coke machine?  Surprise!!  NO COKE FOR YOU!! I say keep your money in Canada.

But, don’t they have a great healthcare system? According a bunch of emails I’ve gotten, you can get prescription drugs really cheap in Canada over the Internet.  Great.  Now, we can assure that our entire country is drug-addled or in some constant state of arousal further eroding our moral foundation.  Just what we need.

They also have universal healthcare.  Think about that.  “Universal?”  What kind of crazy “one-world” bunch of fellow travelers are these people? If you go to the doctor in Canada, you have to wait 10-12 hours just to get weighed and then they give your weight in kilos or stones or some other incomprehensible measure than no civilized person would understand.  No thank you, Commissar.

A SIMPLE SOLUTION

For years, I’ve written the Pentagon urging a preemptive strike on Canada.  Other than a few uncomfortable interviews with the FBI, I’ve never gotten a response.  Thus, I’m left with presenting a modest proposal to stop the Northern Horde in its tracks before it’s too late:

  • Outlaw hockey in the Continental United States.  I believe this can be done under the auspices of the Patriot Act.
  • Once hockey is outlawed, most Canadians will leave the U.S.  Those who don’t can be sent to Gitmo.
  • Dig a moat on the Canadian border (except the Great Lakes which will serve as their own moat).  It should be 50 feet wide and 20 feet deep.  I know what you’re thinking.  Won’t the Canadians just swim across like they do in Mexico?  No.  It will be too damn cold.  Plus, they all wear flannel and would surely get weighted down and drown.
  • Once the moat is in place, launch a series of surgical drone strikes knocking out their breweries and skating rinks.  In the ensuing turmoil, declare Canada to be part of the United States.

Once we’ve declared victory, redraw the Canadian map as follows:

New Canada, a safe place for all Americans, except the part where we’ll be testing our chemical weaponry.

By dividing New Canada into five distinct zones, I have eliminated the threat:

ZONE 1:  Gulag:  This will be used as detention facility for those native Canadians unwillingly to embrace the American way of life.

ZONE 2: Chemical Test Area:  This will be reserved for testing America’s impressive chemical weapons cache.  It will also be used for storage and disposal of our massive pile of nuclear waste.

ZONE 3: Reservation:  This will be the home of those Canadians willing to embrace American ideals.

ZONE 4: Hockey:  This is where the hockey will be played.

ZONE 5:  French:  We really don’t want to fool with the French whom Bart Simpson aptly described as “rifle-dropping surrender monkeys.”  Those who can’t move to France will live here.  That way, if we have a war we want to lose, they’ll be close by.

Too radical you say?  Neville Chamberlain would have been well-advised to have been so radical when dealing with Hitler.  Just don’t blame me if you wake up one day and lumberjacks are chopping down your door looking for house pets to chain to their sleds.  You might as well get fitted for a pair of mukluks, my friend.

Don’t expect to hear either of our so-called American leaders address these issues.  Note that in the 2012 Presidential election neither candidate produced a shred of proof to show that he wasn’t born in Canada.  By their silence, they sow the seeds of our destruction.  Oh, well, God save the Queen. Eh?

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

The Go Big Blues

I am an unabashed fan of University of Kentucky football. I’m not the only one, either. There are a bunch of us. I have been a fan for 40 years. The Cats’ record during that span? 193 wins, 250 losses, 5 ties. Our most successful coach, Fran Curci, won a whopping 48% of his games.

I date my fandom to the beginning of the Fran Curci Era in 1973. Prior that, all I knew was that John Ray was a terrible coach (according to my Dad).  Dad talked a lot about the Cats winning the Sugar Bowl in 1950.  Kentucky fans still talk about that.  It’s our high water mark.

All of mankind knows UK won 13-7. This was a mere 60 years ago.

Curci got us to 10-1 in 1977. We beat Penn State and finished 6th in the polls (somehow Penn State was 5th). Oh, we didn’t play in a bowl game. Probation. Such are the fortunes of UK football.

The hiring of Fran Curci ushered in a golden era of Kentucky football which saw us win almost half our games.

It’s 2012, and we’ve never gotten back to those halcyon days. We won 9 games one year and 8 several times. We’ve been to a few bowl games but never really challenged on the national stage.  In fact, we’ve never really challenged in our own conference, the formidable SEC.

Historically, UK fans have been optimistic to the point of delusion.  I have a friend who looks at the schedule every year and sees 9 wins. I haven’t talked to him about this season, but he’ll probably give me this assessment:

  • Louisville:  Of course, we’ll beat them.
  • Samford, Kent State, Western Kentucky: Win, win, win. 4-0.
  • Florida: They’re down and we’re due, having lost 26 in a row. 5-0.
  • Vanderbilt: We always beat them (This isn’t true, but UK fans believe it).
  • Tennessee: They’re down, too. Plus, we broke our long losing streak against them last year. We own them now. That’s 7 wins.
  • Mississippi State: Should have beat them last year. We’ve got them. 8 wins.
  • Georgia: We always play them tough (not true, either). Probably a loss, but it will be close.
  • Missouri: Don’t know much about them, but we have a shot.
  • South Carolina: This one is probably a loss.
  • Arkansas: they’ll be in chaos. We have a shot.
  • There you go. At least 9 wins.

This season is different. The old blind optimism is gone. Gloom and doom prevail. I haven’t gotten my friend’s predictions, yet, but he probably only sees 6 wins.  Most fans see 3 wins, 4 if we’re lucky. Last year, we went 5-7–a fairly typical record for UK football. In the past, such a record would be considered a launching pad for greatness. Not now. Why?

I guess I should tell you that I’ve never been one of the optimists.  Generally, I’ve seen every season as holding the potential for 6 or so wins if things go well and 2 or 3 if we don’t get some breaks.  I feel better about this season for some reason.  My friend and fellow blogger, Meisterblogger, posted an excellent piece on this optimism.  I agree with each of his points.  If he and I are optimistic, things must be getting better.

Big Blue Nation disagrees.  Season ticket sales are down–way down.  The call-in shows (as our former coach Bill Curry once said, “The Fellowship of the Miserable”) are consistently predicting 3 or 4 wins.  A coach change looms.  With the addition of Texas A&M and Missouri to the SEC, years of cellar-dwelling are a virtual certainty.  Our fan base has had a go to pieces.

Much like addicts, UK fans have hit bottom.  The reality of their situation is inescapable.  They have given up hope.  Why?

THE COACHING CONUNDRUM

For the uninitiated, our coach is Joe “Joker” Phillips.  Joker is a Kentucky native.  He played at UK.  He was an assistant coach at UK for many years.  He’s charming.  He’s the prototype of what we should want.  In two seasons at UK, his record is 11 and 14, making him one of the most successful UK head men in recent memory. Nevertheless, after two seasons, he’s almost universally disliked.  The most common description of Joker starts like this:  “Joker is a nice guy and I really hope he does well, but…..”  Then comes a scathing critique.

Joker Phillips, “a nice guy, but…..”

Miami University in Ohio trumpets itself as the Cradle of Coaches because of its history of producing football coaches.  UK, on the other hand, can legitimately lay claim to being  the Graveyard of Coaches.  Here is what happened with our coaches in the last 40 years:

  • Fran Curci:  Never coached again.
  • Jerry Claiborne:  Ditto.
  • Bill Curry:  Didn’t coach again for many years until a brief return to start the program at Georgia State.
  • Hal Mumme:  He’s had a couple of head jobs but seems destined to slide back to obscurity.
  • Guy Morriss:  He left UK for Baylor where he lasted 4 seasons.
  • Rich Brooks:  Retired.

The last UK coaches to go on to great success were Bear Bryant and Blanton Collier, both of whom left UK over 50 years ago.  The next two–Charlie Bradshaw and John Ray–also never had head coaching jobs again.  UK isn’t the job you want if you have greater aspirations.

“CAN’T YOU PLAY BETTER?” UK fans have sunk lower than the Bill Curry Era.

We’ve tried everything with our coaches.  John Ray was a hot-shot assistant at Notre Dame.  Curci was an up and coming mid-major coach (yes, the University of Miami was a mid-major in the early 1970’s).  Claiborne was an established, successful coach and UK grad.  Curry was an A-list coach hired away from Alabama of all places.  Mumme was a Division III superstar.  Morriss was the emergency interim coach.  Brooks was an old pro with decades of experience.  Joker is the loyal assistant. Some were better than others, but no one could push us over the top.

For years, UK fans believed that the head coach was to blame.  The right coach and everything will be great.  Now, there seems to be a growing resignation that there is no right coach.  UK isn’t a “destination” job–unless you can’t find a job or want your career to abruptly end.  I can assure you that when Urban Meyer took his year off he wasn’t waiting to see if Joker got fired.  A lot of folks want rid of Joker but very few have ideas about a replacement.  Oh, we still have a small–very small–contingent who believe that almost anyone would take the UK job.  Most now despair that no one can help us.

Coaching football is not that difficult.  Recently, I heard ESPN commentator and long-time NFL offensive lineman Mark Schlereth say:  “The words ‘football coach’ and ‘genius’ don’t belong in the same sentence.  It’s 300 pound guys hitting each other.”  I know I shouldn’t say that, but it’s true.  It’s football, not gene-splicing.  This is especially true in college football, where the talent gulf between the haves and have-nots is huge.  My ten-year old son can recognize many different offensive and defensive formations on TV.  How did he learn to decipher such complexities?  Madden Football.  It’s not that tough.  We can find someone who’s bright enough to coach a football team.

But, if that’s true, what’s the problem?  This leads to my next point…

THE JIMMYS AND JOES

Someone once said “It ain’t about the x’s and o’s.  It’s the Jimmys and Joes.”  I don’t know who said that (it sounds like something Darrell Royal would have said), but it’s true.  College football at the highest level is all about the players.  Preparation, game-planning and play-calling are all neutralized by overwhelmingly superior talent.  UK fans have come to accept that our program is light-years away from an SEC Championship roster.

At UK, we might recruit 2 or 3 four-star players a year.  Every now and then, we grab a five-star.   The teams at the top of the heap are getting 15 of these guys every, single season.  When we have an injured starter, we may have to bring in a young man who simply lacks the skill to play at the SEC level.  When LSU has an injury, it looks down the bench for another NFL player.  That’s big difference that you can’t coach around.

The best quarterbacks at UK in the last 40 years are Tim Couch, Jared Lorenzen and Andre Woodson.  Among them, they hold every significant record in school history.  The all went to high school in Kentucky.  Players of that caliber are a rarity in Kentucky high school football.  We certainly don’t get enough to fill out a roster.

Joker is blamed for the current state of the roster.  He was the recruiting coordinator under Coach Brooks, after all.  Maybe a new coach would do better.  Maybe not.  We’ve been down that road before.  The only thing encouraging about this is that our fan base has finally accepted that we lack a lot more than magic coaching to compete with the big boys.

For many years, UK fans moaned about coaching decisions as though a play or two could have made the difference in the most recent 50 point loss.  It seems we’ve come to realize that the talent gulf is so great we may not be able to bridge it.  Compounding that realization is that UK also has a history of NCAA recruiting violations.  Even when we’ve cheated, it hasn’t helped.  If you’re going to cheat, at least win in the process.

For the first time, I hear a growing consensus that we just don’t have players.  Fans seem to have given up on improvement.  They want these players to play well but don’t really think they can do it.

This takes me to my last point…

ABANDON HOPE ALL YE WHO ENTER

This line was how Dante envisioned the entrance to Hell.  A growing number of UK fans feel the same way about Commonwealth Stadium now.  Hope no longer springs eternal.

We UK fans like to think we are great fans.  The best.  I’ll engage in a bit of blasphemy and say that’s not true.  Yes, we have attended football games where we had no chance to win.  A lot of fan bases do that.  We like to tailgate.  Who doesn’t?  The football program makes tons of money.  In the SEC, I don’t how you wouldn’t make a mint.  I’ve attended UK games regularly since the early 1980’s.  When the season goes south, we don’t fill the stadium.  I’ve been in Commonwealth Stadium with crowds of well below 20,000, regardless of the announced attendance.  At the end of Bill Curry’s tenure, you could have shot arrows into the upper deck with no chance of injuring anyone.  Expect a repeat of that if this season goes as badly as predicted.

Simply put, the fans are no longer entertained.  5-7 and 7-5 seasons are better than 1-10 (which we’ve seen), but they don’t inspire.  Seven wins doesn’t mean we’re turning the corner.  It just means we beat Louisville and the three cupcakes on the schedule plus some fellow SEC bottom feeders.  Ho hum.

I don’t have any solutions, just observations.  The atmosphere is as negative as I’ve seen since the last days of Bill Curry.  Maybe worse.  Of course, we open the season with Louisville.  If we win, the old optimism will return–just long enough to lure us back.  Heart break awaits.  Oh well.  GO CATS!

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

Five Horrors

I like horror movies, and I’ve seen a lot of them.  My earliest memory of being scared of a movie was The Ghost and Mr. Chicken starring Don Knotts.  Okay, it was a comedy, but I was 5 years old, and it scared me to death.  I saw it at the Roaden Theater in Loyall, Kentucky.  When I left the theater, I had chewed my shirt sleeve up to the elbow.

I’ve watched horror films in every sub-genre:  Monsters, zombies, Japanese, slasher, splatter, gore, vampires, werewolves, killers.  My favorites are ones with more atmosphere than blood.  An assault on my senses (or stomach) won’t scare me, even though I’ve enjoyed films like Saw and The Devil’s Rejects which infuse new ideas into the tired approach of shocking me.

If you like horror movies, here are five good ones.  You may know all of them.  You may not.  There are some spoilers here, but I’ll try not to ruin them for you.  I’m not including my favorites, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween, because most folks have seen those.  I’m offering five, which while not necessarily obscure, may not be on many “can’t miss” lists.  These are the types of films you’ll either love or hate.  Horror, like comedy, is subjective.  With that in mind, here they are [WARNING–THERE ARE SPOILERS INCLUDED]:

The Bad Seed (1956).  This was directed by Mervyn Leroy (The Wizard of Oz) and is based on a play of the same name.   I first saw it when I was a kid and have watched it many times since.  The basic plot is that 8-year-old Rhoda (Patty McCormack) is an evil, murderous bitch.    She kills a classmate to steal his penmanship medal, kills her elderly (and extremely annoying) neighbor and burns the family handyman alive.  All of this action occurs off-screen. On-screen, Rhoda is a manipulative, preening, prissy-ass.  It turns out that her biological mother was a serial killer.  Once her adoptive mother finds out, she’s convinced that the girl is a “bad seed” and plans to kill her.  She can’t bring herself to do it and instead shoots herself.  I won’t give away the end of the movie, but I will note that it was changed from the stage play.  At the time, the Hays Production Code was still being followed and criminals were required to get their comeuppance in Hollywood.  I’m glad.  As a little kid, I don’t think I could have handled a different ending.

Patty McCormack as Rhoda. Hell in pigtails.

For a modern audience, this film may have its faults–a lot of dialogue, slow pace.  Why do I love it?  Because Rhoda is the creepiest, most vile child ever to be filmed.  She’s mean, scary and evil.  How bad?  At the end of the film, the cast is introduced on-screen one at a time.  The actress playing Rhoda’s mother then says:  “As for you, young lady…” and turns Rhoda over her knee for a spanking.  Why do this?  Because something had to be done to take the edge of that girl.  It didn’t work.  Every time I see the film or even a photo of Rhoda my blood runs cold.

The director’s effort at some comic relief at the end of The Bad Seed.  I would have preferred Rhoda being shot.

Patty McCormack continued acting into adulthood without great fame.  Wherever she is now, she can say:  “Ever see The Bad Seed? I was Rhoda.  Top that!”

The Baby (1973).  This may not be a horror movie.  Maybe, it’s a thriller.  I think it’s horror.  Directed by Ted Post, it defies categorization.  The “baby” is actually a 20-something man living with his demented mother and his two equally demented–and possibly perverted–sisters.  The film is pure 1970’s with short-shorts, pastels and wild acting.  Baby doesn’t have a name or, if he does, no one ever says it.  He can’t walk or talk and lives in a giant, freakin’ crib!

A concerned social worker (R) inquires about Baby’s living conditions and about why the mother needs a jacket and the sister is pantless.

Baby’s odd living arrangement draws the attention of a kindly–and persistent–social worker. The social worker quickly surmises that Baby is kept in his infantile state by his screwed-up family.  She may be on to something.  When one of the sisters screams “Baby doesn’t walk! Baby doesn’t talk!” and pokes him with a cattle prod, you get the impression that all is not well.

The story pales in comparison to the ending which I will NOT give away.  Let’s just say that the “twist” ending is a jaw-dropper.  I didn’t see it coming.  I’ve watched it many times on the Internet just to relive the total freakiness of it.

I assume that The Baby has fallen into the public domain.  The entire film is available on YouTube as multiple downloads.  Occasionally, I’ll watch parts of it again.  It’s always worth my time.

Ted Post wasn’t a great director.  He made some decent films (Magnum Force) and some bad ones, too (The Harrad Experiment).  This one, though, is his best.  I was entertained, and I never forgot it.

Dead of Night (aka Deathdream) (1974).  Bob Clark directed this one.  He also directed Black Christmas, which holds its own place in the annals of horror and A Christmas Story, which is now a classic of a much different genre.  He also managed to direct the Porky’s trilogy.  There may not be a director with a more diverse resume’.  Dead of Night was one of his earliest films and is simply great.

The story is borrowed from W.W. Jacobs’ short story, The Monkey’s Paw.  Andy is in Vietnam and gets shot.  As he’s dying, he hears his mother’s words when she made him promise to come home.  Andy’s family then receives notice that he died in combat.  Dad, Mom and Sis all freak.  Mom can’t accept it and spends her time muttering that Andy promised to come home.  Guess what?  He does, showing up at the door in the middle of the night in full uniform.  It’s all been a terrible mistake… or has it?

War changes men, but not like old Andy.   Now, he spends his time sitting in a rocking chair, wearing sunglasses and long sleeves at all times. At night, he livens up.  Mom wanted him to come back, but be careful what you ask for.  Andy has to prowl at night drinking blood to keep from decaying.  The film ends with a wild scene at a drive-in theater.

Andy is a precursor to the mysterious stalker in Halloween and many other films. I’m convinced that John Carpenter used the same lighting for the night scenes in Halloween.   Some shots, like when Andy is outside staring into a house, seem to have been directly lifted and placed in later films.  There is a creepy atmosphere of the unknown through the whole thing.  The acting is also excellent.

You know it won’t end well for Andy, but you like him.  He didn’t ask to come back.  They brought him back.  It’s part vampire, part Zombie, part Frankenstein, part slasher film.  Well done.

The Minus Man (1999).  Owen Wilson (!) is a serial killer.  And a good one.  He travels around poisoning people–people he decides don’t have lives worth living anymore.  He narrates the film explaining his methods (for example, he never stays in one place very long).  He also carries on a running dialogue with two imaginary police detectives, so he’s probably schizophrenic, too.  The tone, the acting-everything is understated.   It’s probably too slowly paced for some people, but I loved it.  Owen Wilson plays the killer as a nice, normal guy with only a couple of overt flashes that he’s not right in the head.  Brian Cox and Mercedes Ruehl are the couple that take him in.  They may be as unbalanced as he is.  Even Janeane Garofalo is excellent as his would-be love interest.

Is it a horror movie?  I think so.  It creeped me out from start to finish.  Screenwriter Hampton Fancher (Blade Runner) directed it.  As far as I know, he hasn’t directed another film.  I don’t know why.

Audition (1999):  This Japanese film is directed by Takashi Miike, a famed director.  Apparently, he’s made many excellent, shocking films.  I haven’t seen any of those other films, but I saw Audition.  That was enough for me.

The plot is complicated, but here’s a quick summary.  A lonely middle-aged widower wants to find a woman.  A friend suggests that he run an ad for a fake movie audition in order to meet attractive women.  One catches his eye.  He concludes the interview by telling her that he will call her.  A later scene shows her sitting in her empty apartment staring at her telephone.  Oh, the apartment isn’t entirely empty.  There’s a large burlap sack in the middle of the floor.  While our man has been trying to work up the courage to call her, she’s been staring at the phone for FOUR FREAKIN’ DAYS!  Finally, it rings.  The sack lurches forward with a sickening groan.  Okay, we’ve got us some messed up stuff going on.

A pretty girl. A telephone. A guy in a sack. Japanese weirdness.

Cutting to the chase, the man eventually gets up with her.  She’s demure and shy–until we find out that the sack contains a man whose tongue she cut out, along with his fingers and feet!  Oh, and she has a wee bit of a jealous streak.  Our man ends up drugged and tied to a table where she’s got some of the same sick crap planned for him.  I won’t tell more in case you want to see it.  At a film festival, an audience member reportedly screamed at Miike “You are evil!”  Indeed.

Here’s a sign your date has gone all wrong.

This film is an exception to my general disinterest in gory films.  Make no mistake: This film is in your face with some vicious imagery.  It is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.  What sets it apart is the complexity of the girl.  What the hell is wrong with her?  To some extent, her back story is revealed during the film, so you understand why she might have some relationship issues.  Her oddness builds.  It is revealed to the viewer much the same way it is to the man–quickly and with blunt force.  This is Fatal Attraction on acid.  I heard it called “cringe-inducing.”  That it is.  I would not watch it again, but I’m glad I saw it once.

So, there are five good ones.  Strange, creepy and scary.  You’ve been warned.  Enjoy.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

Try Not to Worry

I tried to follow Alfred E. Newman’s advice–without much luck.

“What–Me Worry?” So says Alfred E. Newman, MAD Magazine’s iconic cover boy.  As a kid I read this as “whatmeworry” not “What?  Me Worry?” as intended.  I loved MAD, by the way.  Nothing thrilled my more than when Dad would pick up a copy for me at the store.  Secretly, Dad loved it, too.  But this post isn’t about MAD, although that would be cool.

I wanted to live by Alfred’s wise words, but I was always a worrier.  Here’s some crappy advice:  Try not to worry.  That just makes me worry about why I can’t not worry.

I was a born worrier.  Maybe it’s because my Mom fell through the back porch when she was 8 months pregnant with me.  I might have started worrying about what the hell was going on out there.  I was born on August 11, 1962 at 6:20 a.m.  I’m sure I worried about being born so earlier in the day. Would coming out this early disrupt my schedule?  It was Summer, too.  Would I be too hot in this new world?  How hard would it be to make friends?

I worried about stuff when I was a kid.  I even worried about other kids.  When I was about 6 or 7, a kid named Dennis Martin disappeared in the Great Smoky Mountains.  He was my age.  He just walked away from the campground and never came back.  I worried about Dennis.  Where was he?  What happened to him?  Would that happen to me?  Every now and then–some 40+ years later–I check the Internet to see if they ever found him.  Nope.  Still missing.

I grew up at Ground Zero for the War on Poverty.  Social workers would come to school and give kids coats.  I worried about the kids who didn’t have coats.  My uncle was a social worker.  He was the “Shoe Man.”  He would come in the class rooms and kids would stick their feet up in the air to show they needed shoes.  Personally, I never saw this, but he talked about it.  He talked, and I worried.

I’ve worried about my health.  Germs, disease, accidents.  Let’s be honest:  A lot of bad crap can happen with your health.  If you live long enough, it will happen, unless you get killed in an accident.  Geez.  Think about all the diseases and accidents that can happen.   This doesn’t even count the chances of running afoul of a serial killer, mass murderer, terrorist or random nut case.  I read a court case about a guy who got killed when one of his co-workers goosed him with a high-pressure air hose.  Blew out his colon.  What are the odds?  Who knows? But I stay the hell away from high-pressure air hoses.

I’ve worried about sports, mostly sports played by other people and over which I have no influence.  I’ve lost sleep over such things–before and after the event.  I’ve worried about whether people would think less of me because I cheered for a team that lost a big game.  Then, I worried about why I would worry about something like that.

I’ve worried about money, even though I’ve been fortunate enough to never have had any serious money problems.  That never stopped me from worrying about it.  Will I have enough to send my kids to college?  To retire?  What if I lose my job?  What if I can’t work?  These questions are all fertile worrying ground.

The good news is that as I’ve aged, I worry less.  I’d like to say that this is because I’m mature or just wiser.  The real reason is that there are fewer things to worry about, because I’ve experienced most of the things I’ve worried about.  That doesn’t stop people from trying to get me to worry about stuff. Nevertheless, it’s obvious–even to a worrier–that most of it isn’t worth the effort.  What it comes down to is “What if…?”  For some reason, I rarely think “What if…everything turns out GREAT?!?”  Fortunately, there are a growing number of things for which “What if…?” just doesn’t matter to me.

With that in mind, here are some things I won’t be worrying about:

  • The Mayan Apocalypse:  Some Mayan made a calendar that stretched out for hundreds of years and just stops on December 21, 2012.  That’s supposed to be the end of the world or so some say.  This discounts the possibility that the guy who made the calendar just got tired and quit or maybe someone killed him or he died of syphilis or something.  If the world ends on the 21st, so be it.  Really, what can I do about it?  It’s the first day of Winter, and Winter sucks.  Plus, Snookie is supposed to have her baby on the 21st of December.  If that’s the end, it’s well-timed.
  • End Times:  This, of course, is related to the Mayans but different.  If the end is near, I can’t stop it.  Every generation thinks the end is near.  One of them will be right.  Maybe it’s us.  If it is–and it’s a God thing–what I am supposed to do about it?  Just roll with it.
  • High Fructose Corn Syrup:  This is supposed to be bad stuff, some sort of deadly poison.  I don’t care.  I’m certain that everything I’ve eaten with high fructose corn syrup in it has been good.  I like it.  Period.
  • Brain Chips:  I’ve had a bunch of emails telling me that Obamacare has a sneaky provision in it requiring everyone to have a tracking chip placed under their hides in March of 2013.  It’s also called a “slave chip.”  This is disconcerting, of course.  It’s also not true, but that doesn’t matter.  I’m willing to assume it’s true. Here’s what the government would find out about me.  I wake up, go to work, go to the gym, go home.  That’s it.
  • Gay People:  There are gay people.  Always have been.  Always will be.  They don’t bother me.  They don’t try to recruit me.  They don’t try to make my gay.  I’m not worried about them getting married or having jobs or being out of the closet or being gay.  No worries here.
  • Tim Tebow:  Hey, Tebow is a nice young man.  Or he seems to be.  By NFL standards, he’s not a very good quarterback, but a lot of my religious friends disagree. They think God makes him play well.  (Somehow, they don’t realize that Tebow’s fellow Gator and Heisman Trophy winner and equally religious and all-round good guy  Danny Wuerffel wasn’t a good quarterback, either).  I think he can be a good player–just not a good quarterback.  I don’t worship Satan, either.  I’m not going to be concerned about Tebow.  If he does well, great.  If not, fine too.  I wish ESPN would quit worrying about him.
  • The Royal Family:  If want to obsess over the lives of ugly, inbred people, I’ll watch Toddlers & Tiaras.  Maybe I should worry about the fact that I occasionally watch Toddlers & Tiaras.  By “occasionally,” I mean “regularly.”
  • Robert Pattinson:  Like most people, I was traumatized to learn that Kristen Stewart (“K-Stew”) cheated on hunkilicious Robert Pattinson.  It took awhile, but I’m over it.  My intuition tells me he’ll be okay.  He might even be able to find a new girlfriend.  I’ll just keep my fingers crossed and no worry about it.  It’ll be tough, but I can do it.  Maybe.
  • Mercury:  I’m talking about the element, not the planet.  No one has urged me to worry about the planet (yet).  The element, however, is all kinds of worrisome.  Deadly.  And everywhere.  In our water, our food, the air.  There’s no escaping it.  I suppose I should read up on it to find out what it’s doing to me.  My high school chemistry teacher had a big plastic jug full of mercury in our classroom.  We’d dump some of it on a table and blow on it to watch it roll around.  We’d even put it in the palms of our hands and play with it.  Now, if a drop of mercury is exposed, the entire school is evacuated and raided by HazMat teams.  I’ve already been exposed to a lot of mercury.  Too late to start worrying about it now.
  • Getting Older:  A lot of people worry about this.  Seems like I would, too, but I don’t.  I like getting older.  It means I’m still here.  I’ve known way too many people who stopped getting older way too soon.  If I get a letter from AARP, it just reminds me that I’ve survived.  I like that.  Another thing is that I’ve progressively gotten older since birth.  I’m used to it.  If you don’t want to get older, you really want to die.  I don’t want to die.  Of course, the older you get, the closer you are to death.  Worrying about death is different from worrying about age.  Plus, I don’t think most of us worry so much about death as about how we die.  Slow, painful death or loathsome disease are what we worry about.  I better stop now, I’m getting concerned.
  • Global Warming:  I’m sure this makes me a horrible person, but it’s just how it is. I love the coal industry and just don’t cotton to crusades to put it out of business.  That’s what the Global Warming is all about.  Second is that I’m just a wee bit too selfish to live by candlelight and ride a bicycle everywhere I go.  I like electricity and the internal combustion engine.  Global warming is the cloth diaper of this generation.  When my first son was born, people said we should use cloth diapers to save the environment and keep our landfills from overflowing with Pampers.  These people either: (1) Never had a baby; or (2) Are just plain odd and don’t mind having piles of cotton cloth soaked with human filth.  Global warming works the same way.  I’m sure there are people who live off the grid, as they say.  I just don’t know any of them.  I’m certainly not going to be one of them.  And I don’t worry about it.  Maybe I’ll wake up one day on the beach in Lexington, Kentucky, fighting off polar bears.  Now, THAT is something I’ll worry about it when it happens.

There you have it.  A small list of things which won’t be on my mind. I’m going to add one more thing to the list every month or so.  Eventually, I’ll run out of things to worry about it.

For now, I’m not worry-free.  I still have plenty of things that are fret-worthy.  I worry about my children, which I guess most people do (I mean worry about their own kids, not mine).  And not just about their safety and futures.  What if they do something stupid?  Doesn’t that make me a bad parent?  Worse yet, won’t people think I’m a bad parent?  I also occasionally think I’m more important than I really am and worry about my job, becoming convinced that every thing I do is a referendum on my worth as a human being.  I still worry about sports for no rational reason.

I also worry that I blog too much.  Maybe it’s a sign of mental illness.  That’s worrisome.

I’d like to be one of those people who say “Everything will be okay.”  Actually, I am one of those people.  What I mean is I’d like to be one of those people who say that and mean it.  What I really mean is “Everything will be.”  And it will.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

What I Know At 50

Living it up on my 50th birthday.

I’m 50 years old.  That’s just ridiculous, but it’s true.  I have no problem with being 50, mind you.  I’ve known plenty of folks who didn’t make it to 50.

50 is the first age I’ve reached that sounds old.  If you’re 50, you’ve been around the block.  Lived life. Done things.  I suppose that’s all true.

If I take a close look in the mirror, I look like I’m 50.  Gray hair, wrinkles, reading glasses.  I avoid full length mirrors. As a friend of mine once said, you know you’re old when you look better in any clothes than in no clothes at all.  50.

50 is a good age, at least so far.  At 50, I know quite a few things.  Of course, by 80 I will have experienced a lot of other things, but I may not know much about them.  After all, I’ll be 80 and may not be firing on all cylinders.

Here are the things I know:

I DON’T KNOW EVERYTHING

Most people my age know everything.  I mean every single freaking thing there is to know.  They know about politics, sports, children, religion, health–everything.  They also don’t hesitate to share their knowledge.  Me?  I don’t know all that much.  Oh, I know a lot about a few things (the law, sports, coal mining, my kids, movies, TV) and a little about a few things (religion, politics, space travel, geography, books, money, my wife and sundry other topics).  Then, there is the vast universe of things about which I know nothing useful or nothing at all (computers, foreign languages, women, art, math, photography, physics, Ayn Rand, the Spanish-American War, George Soros, Broadway, automobile repair, plumbing and many, many other things).

It wasn’t always that way.  Like all of us, I was born knowing nothing.  By the time I was in my teens, I knew everything and held onto that for several years.  In fact, my knowledge level peaked with my actually knowing more than everything, that is, knowing not only all there is to know but also knowing things that aren’t even generally known.

Chart showing the author’s knowledge level in relation to his age. Note that for a brief time in my late teens/early 20’s I exceeded the human capacity level for knowledge of all things.

I estimate that by the time I was 35, I only knew 75% of everything, having learned through fire that I did not know many things I had taken for granted.  For example, by then I had two children and was quite aware that there were many things I did not know, like how to prevent diaper rash.

My knowledge level has continually decreased to the point that I now know only half of everything.  Truthfully, that’s an exaggeration, as I am sure that I don’t know that much.  However, knowing that gives me extra credit and justifies inflating the figure to 50%.

I have some concern that this downward trend will continue.  Perhaps it will.  I am fortunate to have two teenage sons who can fill in the gaps of knowledge with all they know.

Folks my age are fond of saying “If I only knew then what I know now….”  What they really mean is “If only knew then what I think I know now….”  Here’s the deal, if you were young and were as opinionated and grouchy and self-righteous as most people my age, you’d have no friends.  Period.  Remember when you were a teenager.  If you’d had a friend who acted like a 50-year-old man, you would have beaten him with a bag of door knobs.

The best part about knowing that I don’t know everything is that I will sometimes listen to people who know about things that I don’t know anything about.  Then, I learn.

LIVING IN THE GOOD OLD DAYS

My father was fond of saying that there were no “Good Old Days.”  This was primarily because he lived a Dickensian existence of want.  Thanks to him, I lived no such childhood.  Nevertheless, I agree wholeheartedly with his assessment, albeit for different reasons.

These are the good old days for me.  I’m healthy.  I have a good job.  I like my job.  I have disposable income.  My children are healthy and seem to be fairly decent sorts.  I have a good wife. I do most of what I want to do when I want to do it.  No one tells me what time to go to bed or get up or where to go or what to do when I get there.

Hey, what about the teen years?  Don’t you want to live that again?  ARE YOU CRAZY?  I had fun as a teenager, especially college, but I wouldn’t do that again for anything.  The angst, the drama, the idiotic decisions.  Being a teenager is best left to the teens.  By the time they realize they and their friends are idiots, they’ll be my age.

Here’s something that’s cool.  I’m not far away from the age where I can hug young women and say inappropriate things and be dismissed as “sweet.”  I’m not there, yet, though.  I’m still young enough to be considered creepy and dangerous.

I’M AN ADULT

I’m an adult. I’m 50.  I can eat pork rinds for dinner if I want.  Last night, I ate a huge piece of cheesecake.  I can do that for breakfast, too.  I can stay up late (assuming I don’t naturally just fall asleep–not insubstantial risk after sundown). These are all good things.

I also have credibility.  At 50, I’m a grown man, you know.  Gray hair helps (on a man, that is).  I look like I might know a few things.  I can call people “son” or–if I’m on edge–“boy.”

Gray hair means I’m worldly and must be taken seriously

Reading glasses also lend an air of respectability.  I can take them off and gesture with them.  I can look at things and give the impression that I’m really paying attention.  I can chew on the ear piece to appear to be deep in contemplation.

Your author demonstrates how the use of a $10 pair of reading glasses creates an authoritative aura lacking in today’s youth.

Young people have none of these tools available.  Much like wearing a tie, these simple accoutrements makes life easier.  Below is an example of my foolish efforts to be taken seriously in my youth:

At age 26, your author naively believed that such things as a coonskin cap and a noisemaker would make others respect him.

When I go to Starbucks or a restaurant, pretty young women call me “honey” and “sweetie.”  Okay, it’s a little patronizing, but I like it.  Recently, a comely lass at the gym asked me how old I was and whether I used a trainer.  “I still got it,” I thought and responded:  “I’m 49, but I don’t use a trainer.”  She said: “Oh, I just wondered.  My dad is 45 and wants to get in shape.”  Oh well.

Mostly, it’s all good.  People call me “Sir” and “Mister.”  Some of my kids’ friends’ parents even call me “Mister.”  I don’t correct them. I like it.

KIDS ARE GOOD

Most people my age have children, or so it seems.  I’m glad I have children.  They’ve been fun and only occasionally have I wanted to kill them.

When I was young, I didn’t know if having kids would be important or not.  Then, I had one.  Man, oh, man, was it important!  I changed many, many diapers.  I got thrown up on–not to mention other bodily discharges.   I was fascinated.  Still am.

I’ve blogged about kids before, so I won’t wear you out with that again.  My point:  I’m glad I have kids, and they’ve kept me young.  At 50, I have a ten-year old son.  That’s very cool.

DON’T DISCOUNT LUCK

No one likes give credit to luck.  But, like Ignatius P. Reilly bemoaning  in A Confederacy of Dunces, “Oh, Fortuna…”, we will give luck all the blame.  I’ve found luck to be a valuable asset.

Like most people, my ego whispers in my ear telling me that I deserve all the good things but none of the bad.  I deserve the good, of course, because I’ve earned it, by God.  The bad stuff is caused by everyone else or just plain old bad luck.

Branch Rickey said that “Luck is the residue of design.”  I don’t know what the hell that means.  Another Baseball Hall of Famer, Grover Cleveland Alexander said: “I’d rather be lucky than good.”  I know what that means, and I agree with it.

Grover Cleveland Alexander was a wise–and hard living–man. He looked like this at 40. Maybe he’d run out of luck.

I’ve had more than my share of good luck.  I’ve been married 24 years.  I’d love to take credit for that, but luck plays a role.  I’m lucky she married me and lucky she puts up with me.  I’m lucky to be alive.  I’ve done a stuff that could have killed me, but it didn’t.  Luck.

I’ve had bad luck, too, like everyone else.  I quit saying “Why me?” a long time ago.  Now, I say “Why not me?”  Luck cuts both ways, but I’m glad I’ve had more good than bad.

LIGHTEN UP

I’m not that important.  Seriously.  Neither are you.  Sorry, but it’s true.  If you’re lucky (that word again!), your family and maybe a few friends think you’re important.  Maybe your dog, too.  That’s about it.

What about work?  If you think you’re important in your job, try this:  Quit.  I did that one day.  Just quit a job I’d had for 18 years.  They were fine with it.  If you quit, some people will want you to stay, some will be glad to see you go and all of them will forget about you in a few weeks.

Of course, it’s possible that you actually are really important in your job.  Maybe you’re the best there is.  If you are, I’m willing to bet you monumentally suck at something very important in your life.  Back off your job and take a look at some of those other things.

You could also just die–the ultimate test of your importance.  The downside is that you may not be able to see what happens next.  Here’s what happens.  A handful of people are really upset, a few are concerned and most don’t give a damn.  That’s it.

Life isn’t a long, slow trudge to the grave.  At least it shouldn’t be.  Work, politics, religion, taxes, injustice–all those things will survive after I’m long gone.  Lighten up.

Once I lightened up (and it took years to do), I learned my final, most important lesson.

LIFE IS GOOD

When Leon Trotsky was living in exile in Mexico, he famously penned in his journal “Life is beautiful.”  He wrote this knowing that assassins were after him and would soon succeed in their quest.  And they did.  I used to think Trotsky was a nut.  He wasn’t.

Life is beautiful.  Not only that, it’s good, too.  It took me a long time–too long–to believe that.  Why is life good?  Here’s why:

  • Laughing
  • Things that smell good
  • Little kids
  • Kissing
  • Sports
  • Books
  • Movies
  • The Internet
  • Naps
  • Food
  • Friends
  • Microwave Ovens
  • Television
  • The beach

We all enjoy at least some of these.  If you don’t, you’re missing out, and it would suck to be you.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

A Touch Of Evel (Knievel)

THE EVEL ONE

I grew up in the time of Evel Knievel. If you are of a certain age, that name resonates. If you are young, you may wonder why I don’t know how to spell evil. Trust me. It’s Evel.

Robert “Evel” Knievel was an icon of the 1970’s. He dressed like Elvis. He had swag before there was swag. If you were a kid in the ’70’s, you knew Evel.

Good or bad, there was only one Evel Knievel

He rode motorcycles. “Rode” isn’t quite right. He jumped things on his motorcycle. Cars and buses mostly. Actually, he attempted to jump things. He crashed a lot, and we loved it. It was said that he broke every bone in his body. That wasn’t true, but we didn’t care.

Evel could jump trucks, cars, vans–you name it.

He would do this a lot, too.

He was a staple of ABC’s Wide World of Sports. I’d tune in to see him jump stuff. Secretly, I hoped he’d crash–that was far cooler than a successful landing. He’d ride back and forth in front of the ramp, popping wheelies. Then, he’d ride to the top of the take off ramp and give the thumbs up. Then, it was on!

There was movie about Evel called, appropriately, Evel Knievel, starring a pre-tanned George Hamilton.  It was a largely fictionalized story of his life.  It ended with Evel contemplating a jump across the Grand Canyon.  Even though I was a little kid, I had been to the Grand Canyon and knew that would be no simple feat.

My little brother had the Evel Knievel stunt cycle and action figure. Evel was on the cover of Sports Illustrated.  Evel was a rock star.  He even gave me one of my favorite quotes.  “If you were supposed to hang on to money, they’d put handles on it.”  Or something like that.

The apex of his career was the Snake River Canyon jump.  He abandoned the Grand Canyon idea but still harbored dreams of a “big” jump.  Snake River Canyon in Idaho was it.  It was hyped for months.  Evel built a steam-powered Sky Cycle which would fire off a launching platform and hurl him across the canyon.  The event was so big that it was available only on closed-circuit television (the grandfather of pay-per-view, for you youngsters).  On September 8, 1974, it happened. Alas, the parachute deployed on take-off causing Evel to crash to the canyon floor without crossing the river.  I was very disappointed, but I admired his trying.  You had to be crazy to try that.

Evel being lowered into Sky Cycle X-2 at Snake River Canyon.

Evel became so popular that he eventually starred in his own movie, Viva Knievel, an almost unwatchably awful film.  As with most bad films, the plot was a convoluted mess of drug dealers, conspiracies, fights and romantic subplots.     Evel was duped into performing a dangerous stunt in Mexico not knowing that drug dealers planned to kill him and then use his fabulous 18-wheeler to ship cocaine back to the US. Gene Kelly, at what had to be the low point of his career, plays an alcoholic mechanic and Leslie Nielsen is a villanous drug lord.  Evel actually heals a child in a wheelchair by merely visiting a hospital.  Evel also delivers several inspiring monologues on the evils of “dope.”   Lauren Hutton, Red Buttons and Marjoe Gortner all makes appearances, a bunch of stuff happens and Evel saves the day.

Viva Knievel is when Evel jumped the shark, as they say.  If it wasn’t then, it certainly occurred when he beat the living hell out of a writer named Shelly Saltman.  It seems that Saltman wrote an unflattering book about Evel who expressed his displeasure with a baseball bat.  Evel drew a little jail time and kinda faded from view.  He would reappear on occasions like filing bankruptcy or getting a liver transplant.  His influence on me was brief but strong.

TIME FOR ME TO FLY

I offer all this as background to explain Evel’s influence on me.  For a brief time, I wanted to be Evel Knievel wearing a leather jump suit and cape, risking my life.  His idea of jumping the Grand Canyon intrigued me.  How could you do this?  I thought a lot about it.  You’d need wings, I guess.  I got an idea.

How hard would it really be to fly?  The Evel Knievel movie came out in 1971, so I was probably 9 when I got this idea.  I would try to fly in my backyard.  Simple enough.  I just needed wings.

I thought about making some out of plywood, but abandoned that after I realized how heavy plywood was.  At my diminutive size, I wouldn’t be able to flap them fast enough.  But I didn’t give up.  What about jumping off the porch with an umbrella?  That was just stupid.  Then, I got an idea–a brilliant idea.

My little brother had an inflatable baby pool.  What if I put it on my back–kind of like a cape? I could spread it out and glide.  It was lightweight and gliding eliminated the aerodynamic impossibility of flapping hard enough to stay air-borne.  Perfect.

My test run was off the back porch.  Now, our back porch was only about 4 feet high. If it didn’t work, I wouldn’t get hurt.  I got up on the porch with my baby pool, spread my “wings” and hunkered down for the jump.  Our clothes line was about 20 feet away, and I figured that would be a good landing spot.  3…2…1…LAUNCH!  POW!  I hit the ground.  Hmmm.  I’m sure the Wright Brothers had failures, too.  The good news was that I was sure that I did sense–if only briefly–that I was suspended in air.  Not a complete failure.  Back to the drawing board.

I was a pretty smart kid, and I quickly realized that caution had been my enemy.  By using the porch, I had denied myself the benefit of (1) Being in the air longer; and (2) Catching enough air to hang up there for a while.  If I could catch even the faintest of breezes, it could make all the difference.

After some consideration, I determined that the top of the garage was the perfect launching spot.  It was probably 10-12 high and right by the clothes line.  If something went horribly awry, I could just grab the clothes line and safely swing to the ground.  If it worked–as it surely would–I would glide across the back yard and land safely on the porch, covering a distance of about 30-40 feet.

At this point, I should note that I had an older brother.  He was much smarter than I was.  If I had only consulted him, things would have been different.  I suppose I knew that and didn’t want him to crush my dreams with some brainiac explanation.

The day came.  First, I got the ladder and tossed the pool on top of the garage.  Then, I climbed up.  It’s funny how 10-12 feet doesn’t sound real high until you look down, especially if you’re about 4 feet tall.  I’ll admit that my confidence was a little shaky.  On the plus side, there was a good breeze.  The only problem was that it was blowing away from the porch toward Mr. Wade’s farm across the fence.  I really hoped that I didn’t blow over there.  He scared me a little.

I pulled the pool on my back, tightened my grip and readied myself by squatting into launch position.  I had reasoned that I needed to first launch upward, then I could bank toward the porch.  3…2…1…LAUNCH!  For split second–very split, mind you–it was working.  I was among the birds.

If you ever fall and have enough time to think about it while you’re in the air, it is terrifying.  The ground rushed up at me at around 1000 miles an hour.  Embarrassingly, I think I actually flapped my wings once in an effort to prevent the inevitable.

The ground was hard.  My ankle rolled.  I face-planted.  It hurt.  Luckily, I wasn’t seriously injured.  A scrape on my forehead and sprained ankle.  Now, I felt like an idiot, of course.  I had to pretend I wasn’t hurt since I would never admit that I had jumped off the garage with a baby pool on my back.  I hobbled around a few days and that was that.  Later, I casually asked my brother how birds could fly.  He offered me an explanation about aerodynamics.  Boy, was this all a dumb idea.  Oh, well.

BACKYARD EVEL

I wasn’t done with my daredevil ways.  There was still the matter of jumping things.  I, of course, would use a bicycle instead of a motorcycle.  This time I had a partner, my best friend Jimmy.  Jimmy was, in a sense, my alter ego.  He was the kid who would do anything, regardless of the danger involved–and he had the broken bones and scars to prove it.  Remember how your mother cautioned you about losing an eye? He did that–a stick right in his eye.

Jimmy and I were probably 12 years old, and we both admired Evel.  I’ll admit that Jimmy had a bit more Evel in him that I did.  He had, for example, invented the game of Tire Wrestling where we would roll large truck tires at each other and try to tackle them.  It was a very painful–yet fun–game.

We tried our hand at jumping our bikes off ramps on occasion, usually just a 2 x 10 and cinder block, but I had greater ambitions.  We built a ramp in my back yard.  A real ramp.  It was made out of plywood and about 3 feet high.  It looked something like this:

Artist’s rendering of ramp design

In our past efforts we had encountered two problems.  First, was the ramp itself.  A piece of wood on a cinder block was too unsteady, plus it didn’t launch us high enough in the air.  This was now remedied.  The second was that bicycles are not really designed for flight.  They tend to be heavy in the front or at least almost as heavy as they are in the back.  This tended to cause the bike to land on its front tire, a disaster as Evel had learned on several occasions.  I needed a bike with a better design.  As luck would have it, I had one available.  My brother had a Schwinn Lemon Peeler, just about the coolest bike ever made.

The Schwinn Lemon Peeler

After studying the design of the Lemon Peeler, I was confident that it was perfect.  The larger racing “slick” in the back, the smaller wheel in the front, shock absorbers–perfect.

Jimmy went first–on his own bike.  He hit the ramp flying, shot up in the air and hit the ground in a violent crash with his bike flipping backward.  He landed almost squarely on his back.   He got up laughing, ready to for another go.  But it was my turn, and I wasn’t crashing.

I made a couple of passes by the ramp, just like Evel, and I was ready to go.  I took off, got my speed up and hit the ramp.  It felt right.

I wish there was a video of my jump.  Jimmy said the landing looked good-right on the back wheel as planned.  Here’s what I remember: The handlebars hitting my jaw and the back sprocket digging into my right shin.  I don’t know what went wrong, but I was on the ground with my head ringing and my leg throbbing.

I looked down at my shin and there was hole–right on the shin.  The hole was about an inch long and a quarter-inch wide.  It was gunked up with grease from the sprocket but there was still the white gleam of bone shining through.  Oh, and the big hunk of skin on the sprocket.

I ran to the house and looked at it.  This was bad.  I called to my older brother.  He looked at it and went into a swoon.  He gathered himself and told me that it HAD to be cleaned out.  I begged him not to tell our parents.  I then went to bathroom to find appropriate cleaning supplies.

Peroxide first.  I poured it in the hole.  It stung a little but not too bad.  The hole wasn’t bleeding, just weird-looking. (Later in life, I had horrible infection in my left leg and learned that the skin on one’s shin has very little blood flow).  The throbbing subsided, but it was still filthy.  My mother had warned me of the horrors of infection, so I dabbed it with a cotton ball.  That helped, and it still didn’t hurt. too bad.

I thought about putting Mercurochrome on it, but it seemed beyond that.  I only had one choice.  Rubbing alcohol.  I knew this was the ultimate disinfectant.  Oh, I knew it would burn some.  My mother had applied to various injuries, and it always stung.  I would soak a cotton ball and drip a little in the hole as a test.

Sometimes pain in so sudden, so severe, that it isn’t really like pain.  It’s more like something you taste-like you have taste buds in the middle of your brain.  It was like someone had driven a burning nail into my forehead.  That subsided and then it focused on my shin.  It burned so deeply that I was certain it would kill me.  I then stuck my leg in the tub and rinsed it.  That helped. A little. Forty years later, I can still feel it.

I managed to hide my leg from Mom for a few days.  The hole started to turn black around the edges and smelled funny.  That’s when I showed Mom.  She cried and carried on and then took me to the doctor.  Some strong antibiotics and I was good as new.  Of course, the leg was never the same:

Your author still bears the scar of his backyard folly

That was the end of my daredevil career.  It’s probably for the best anyway.  Evel had drug problems, money problems and was crippled up pretty bad.  All I got was the scar on my leg.  But it’s pretty cool.

 ©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012