Saturday, November 09, 2019

Veteran's Day 2019

I didn't join the Navy to uphold any great tradition of family service. Wasn't even particularly patriotic. I joined because I didn't have the grades, the money, nor the maturity for college, and Homewood in 1980 wasn't a great place to be post high school. 

In short, I needed a reset at 18 and the military is good for providing that reset. If I was smarter and a little more mature and a less impulsive snot nosed punk, and knew then what I know now, I would have probably retired after 20 years with a pension instead of just doing six years. It would have also helped if I had people in my military circles that could have given me some sound advice. 

But I have this really bad habit of doing things by the seat of my pants. And my dumb ass has all sorts of bruises and rashes from crashing rather painfully on said seat of my pants. Same thing when I finally went to college from 1992-2000. That experience was a case study on how NOT to go thru college.  Since then, I've munged my life up in all sorts of exciting ways.  But I'm still standing. Too dumb to kill, I guess. 

But water under the bridge. I'm still not one to chase veteran's discounts. Maybe if I find myself really between the devil and the deep blue sea, I might avail myself of such things, but even though I'm flying pretty close to the ground, thus far. By the grace of God, I haven't succeeded into completely splattering myself all over terra firma. 

I still prefer that things like veteran's discounts  go to those actually saw combat and came home with less than they went away with.  But to all those who raised their right hands, put on the uniform and put themselves in harm's way, so that this country can still breath free. Bravo Zulu (Navy slang for 'good job)  

A lot of you, like me came home with nothing more than memories of working hard, playing hard and staying hard. A few ribbons and medals, some uniforms that may not fit anymore, and still sound of body, if not necessarily sound of mind. 

Others came home broken in body and mind, still fighting that last war. And still others came home in flag draped coffins to grieving families. It is those latter two groups that America should honor first. 

Thank me for my service if you must. But it was no big deal, at least to me. I just wish that it wasn't just the poor, disadvantaged and underprivileged that disproportionately ending up fighting and dying in America's wars. Maybe if the children of the powerful, affluent and privileged were dying on far off soil, maybe there would be no need for any of us to send our best and brightest off to war.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

One Year Later...

     Today being the one year anniversary of the Tree of Life massacre. One wonders whether the occasion warrants the trope of where were you when you heard about the shootings. 
       In my case, I was heading to the South Side to watch the City Championship football game between Allderdice and Westinghouse. As I got off the bus, I noticed that the area around the stadium was quiet. No crowds, no teams, no bands or cheerleaders. I knew I was in the right place, at the right time.  Had no idea what had happened in Squirrel Hill. It was only after I got back home that I found out about the shootings.  
       I was chilled to my core. 
       I spend a lot of time in Squirrel Hill. I went to high school there. My American Legion post of 29 years is there. I've bought God knows how many books at the Carnegie Library book sale there. Only a few blocks away from those places, some evil diaperstain of a monster was ending the lives of righteous human beings who only wanted to worship their God in spirit and in truth.  
        It struck  me. Reminded me of the shootings at Mother Immanuel in Charleston.  The same bipeds with opposable thumbs capable of reasoned thinking are so capable of both unspeakable greatness and equally unspeakable evil.  
        I continue to pray for the souls of the victims and their surviving families.   I pray that their loss was not in vain. I pray that we as Pittsburghers never forget their sacrifice. As a Christian (who admittedly sucks at it) I pray for my Jewish cousins, friends and acquaintances that their struggles with anti-Semitism, discrimination and bigotry, much of which comes from those who claim to take their wisdom from the Jewish carpenter read about in the back part of the Bible, will eventually come to an end. 
         I pray for peace. The peace that passes all understanding.  Let us never forget. Let us overcome our differences and embrace what we have in common rather than what sets us apart. May the souls of those who died rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon them.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Come On You Hounds!!!

      Amongst the soccer heads in Pittsburgh, there are a certain strain that support their favorite teams in the big Euro leagues like the Premier League, the Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, even the lesser followed Euro leagues like Ligue 1 or the Eredivisie. I'm guessing there are also those who follow the South American leagues or League MX.
      But they won't give the MLS or even worse, the USL the time of day.  Honestly, I don't really follow the MLS either. The closest MLS outfit to Pittsburgh is Columbus Crew. I maintain a slight disposition towards Everton in the Premier League. Only because of my attitude towards the underdog and my contrarian nature and most US soccer fans are quick to follow the big money clubs like Man United, Chelsea, Liverpool, Arsenal and Man City.  Basically, the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs, and Dodgers of the British game.  Most of the big Prem League clubs are owned by Arab sheiks, Russian oligarchs and even a few American big money interests with a few billion burning a hole in their pockets and no place to spend it.
       I more or less follow Everton because they aren't those clubs. While Everton is not owned by British money, they are not part of the Prem League Big Five. They usually hover around the middle of the Premier League table. They do well enough to avoid relegation, but they are no threat to hoist Prem League hardware anytime soon. I zig when others zag.  Gotta be me. But even then, I follow Everton's progress in the table.  But I have no idea who's in their lineup.  That's about it.  My feeling is why support a team located halfway around the world, who's stadium I'll never get to attend, and frankly doesn't need my money.
       I'd rather support the local team. In Pittsburgh, that's the Riverhounds. For the benefit of the uninformed, the Riverhounds play in the USL Championship. The second division of the US soccer pyramid. One step below the MLS, but that step is basically difference between the bottom of the Grand Canyon and the top.  Most of the USL players make a bit more than I do. They're pros, but they don't make the big bucks. They're looking to do a year or two with the USL and eventually try to get a spot on an MLS roster or failing that, get signed on a lower division Euro team.
       Some of these guys were loaned to the Hounds from an MLS squad. Some had a cup of coffee on an MLS team. Some came from the local loop in their home country.  Some from college.  But naturally, they all have aspirations higher than their current station.
       But frankly, I'd rather watch them than a Premier League side. They're accessible, I can walk to the stadium, the beer and food is inexpensive, they're a local product, and in the last couple years, the Hounds have been competitive in the USL. And, they deserve my support.
       For what I'd pay in terms of tickets, food and bev, and merch for two Premier League games, I can get a season ticket for the Riverhounds in the best seats at Highmark.  They deserve my support.
       They put a pretty good product on the field for their level of competition, and frankly, I'd rather watch them than the Pirates. At least The Hounds ownership is committed to winning.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

You Suck, Nutjob!

      So the Buccos have officially booked another losing season. 23 in their last 27 seasons. 8 out of 12 under Boob Nutjob's tenure as owner.  

        Congratulations, Boob. You suck.

         And I don't even like baseball. You have made a proud franchise into a laughing stock. In Pittsburgh, you'd lose a popularity contest to Osama Bin Laden.  You have taken one of the finest ballparks in baseball and erased any home field advantage the Pirates ever had.          
          You've substituted fireworks, bobbleheads, meaningless promotions and fripperies for on field success that would bring  more fans thru the turnstiles and make you more money  than "Take Your Dog To The Game" ever will. 
          When will it end? Will the long suffering fans in Pittsburgh ever see another NL pennant, much less a World Series flag fly at PNC Park?  Or are the fans going to continue to go around and around and around on the carousel from Hell hearing the same old excuses again, and again and again. 
           Boob, when will you sell the team? How much more blood can you wring from this desiccated franchise, this city, these fans?  You can only kick a dog so many times before he turns on you, or runs away. The fans are turning and slowly, they are running away.  
            I could go on, but I'm done. Boob won't see this, and even if he did, he doesn't care. He makes money playing in an empty stadium. And as long as he's making money, he won't sell. We'll have to wait until he takes a dirt nap before he loosens his grip on this team, this city and these fans.  I'm not calling for him to be assassinated, but if Boob Nutjob were to keel over anytime soon, Pittsburgh would breathe a sigh of relief heard from out in space.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Trump, The Media Whore

      Trump is the quintessential media whore. He cannot stand being out of the limelight. He cannot stand not being the center of attention. To him, the world revolves around him.  If, in the extremely rare case, he is not in the news, he finds a way to insert himself into the news.
       The worst vacation for Trump is to be at some remote place by himself with no Twitter, no cell/internet access, no access to Fox News, no smartphone, no way to promote himself, or seeing himself being promoted.
        Trump is a showman.  As far as he is concerned he's the warm up act, the headliner, he sells the tickets, as well as the popcorn, although he leaves the cleaning up to others.  He is consumed with people talking about him and telling him about how great he is. He thrives on adoration and hatred. If he says something controversial and gets no reaction, it would drive him nuts. He doesn't care if you love him or hate him, as long as you're talking about him.
         And I think that's one thing that drives liberals crazy. The more dumb things Trump says and does, the more pissed liberals get, which makes him say and do more stupid things. It's a vicious circle.
          Same thing with conservatives. The more outrageous stuff Trump says, the more excited and passionate his base gets, which gives him the green light to say more outrageous stuff.  Trump gets it from both sides and it works for him.
           And the older he gets, the looser his grip on reality. At this rate, should he win re-election in 2020, (which is very possible given the Chinese fire drill that is the Democrats' current slate of contenders), by 2024, reality will slip thru Trump's hands like water.

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Why am I writing this again?

     For a while now, I've been referring to myself as "Uncle P." I've had any number of nieces and nephews, at least one of which isn't even related to me by blood, call me Uncle P.  For a long time, I've hated people referring to me as "P" because I wasn't comfortable with sharing a nickname with a bodily function involving the elimination of body waste.  As far as nicknames go, My sainted mother used to call me "Lovebird." I'm not sure why. Maybe because I was the only one of her kids that didn't drive her crazy when I was growing up. I'm glad that she never called me Lovebird in public. I'd never live it down.  I'd had at least one brother call me "Souphead" My father called me "Knucklehead."
       I had a couple kids at elementary school call me "Professor" because they thought I was smart and I wore glasses. I went by Boo-Boo and Rerun in the service.  Now, I call myself Uncle P. But not in the perverted creepy sort of uncle way, but more like the oddball uncle who says weird stuff off the top of his head and everybody just smiles, nod their heads while wishing that he'd go off into his own corner and leave the rest of them alone.

Why am I writing this again?

       I guess I'm just the person who puts weird shit on Facebook to give his friends a break from the incessant drumbeat of negativity, politics, divisiveness, brokenness and and chaos on Facebook. I try to bring a smile to people's faces, lighten their hearts, give them grist for their mental mills, make them laugh. I write weird shit.
        God, thru CCAC and Robert Morris, gave me a gift to take the letters that make up the alphabet soup in my mind, arrange them into readable words and put them out here so people can read them, and know that the world isn't just a constant barrage of ads, memes, political sewage, hot takes, a never ending parade macabre of death, crime, man's inhumanity to man, and soul killing nastiness. We need a break from this flood of fetid flotsam and jetsam that threatens to sweep us away into despair, depression and depravity. We need to laugh, dammit! To feel good. To love ourselves and our friends.

Why am I writing this again?

      I write weird shit. I'm told I'm pretty good at it. Gotta figure out how to get paid to write weird shit. But like a great home cook who's friends rave about their cooking and hound them into opening a restaurant only for the place to close after a year because they find out that their friends were the only people who dug their food and the rest of the world thought it was crap. I can't assume everybody else likes it. And I can't commit to a weekly column, because I can't turn my creative process off and on like a light switch. It's spontaneous, it shows up when it feels like it. I can't write to a deadline or a page or word count, or a quota. It may be a paragraph or three pages. A hundred words or three thousand.  Like this thing. My writing style is wordy.  I write long rambling screeds like this.

Why am I writing this again?

Sunday, August 04, 2019

Mass Shooting Night in 'Murica

     Gilroy, El Paso, Dayton, countless other cities across this nation...You've heard of Hockey Night in Canada and Football Night in America?  Welcome to Mass Shooting Night in 'Murica. πŸ˜‘πŸ˜­πŸ˜©πŸ‘ŽπŸΌπŸ˜€ The Left blames the Right, the Right blames the Left, while dudes hear voices in their heads, arm themselves and go crazy spitting lead into innocent people.  SMDH! πŸ˜“πŸ˜“πŸ˜‘πŸ˜‘
       This ain't a Left vs Right situation. This is an American situation. Except for the corrupt, lawless, dictator run countries where law and order were shitcanned, this is America. The Land of The Free, And The Home of the Brave. Supposedly the greatest experiment in democracy in this planet's history.
        A country not without its flaws, still the rebellious shit-talking angsty teenager compared to the older countries in the world who count their existence in centuries and millennia. We've only been tromping around here for some 240 odd years. A few grains of sand passing through time's hourglass.

        But look at we've done in those 240 odd years. Both good and bad. We've made our mark on this planet, both good and bad.  But despite all we've done, it seems that we're the only country that produces mass shootings by the buttload.
         Is it guns? They play a partial part. Is it our propensity towards violence in our sports, video games and media choices, that also plays a part.  Is it the regrettable way we treat mental health and those who suffer from it? I think that plays the biggest part.
          I think if you add all three parts together, that produces the majority of our mass shootings.  I have no idea how to fix all this, but we gotta figure this shit our some kinda way. The streets are already running red in the blood of the innocents.