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Friday, May 27, 2016

An Overlong List of Medieval Sex Acts or Yet-To-Be Invented MixedDrinks, If You'd Like

Grammie Gertrude's Happy Hammer
Chattanooga Pistol Whip
Dizzy Chuck's Cement Mixer
Kentucky A-Frame
Two-Ton Clump
Friendly Necromaniac
Trans Atlantic Rip Cord
Salisbury Sludge Muncher
Aunt Susie's 60th Surprise Party
Pekinese Pop Rivet
Bottom Shelf Mouthwash
Detroit Shish Kabob
Crooked Bishop
Hattian Hotbox
Parasitic Snaggletooth
Going Fisticuffs With A Stuttering Lumberjack
Sagittarius Filibuster
Run Amok Scud
Hog-Tied Weeping Orphan
No-Look Cluster Bomb
Naughty Clergyman's Spittoon
Appalachian Scrotum Pole
Whiskey Rick's Battered Flotilla
Ooze Cruiser
Heaping Flounder Bucket
The Berserker
Deutschland Donker Barrage
Post-Traumatic Hydraulic Press
Baby Beluga's Fever Dream
Disgraced Olympian
Midnight Trolling For Largemouth Bass On The Susquahanna
Cross-Eyed Wiccan's Gnard Garden
A Faceful of Crust
34 Gun Salute
Bavarian Sidewinder
Hulga's Sweater Vest
Ticklish Amputee

Murder Beach is Open for Summer is published on Timothy McSweeney's Internet Tendency

Here is the link...Murder Beach is Open for Summer




Saturday, May 21, 2016

In God We Trust?

My comment to Francis Hynds' Post Gazette editorial: 


'In God We Trust' might be just what we need in schools



The one person you SHOULDN'T trust is god.
Francis, do you watch the evening news? Aren't you appalled by the carnage and suffering that unfolds while God lounges on his cloud throne? A children's hospital in Syria was bombed a few weeks ago. God ate buttered popcorn and watched. Maybe he got up halfway through the humanitarian response to take a leak. Or maybe he switched seats for a closer look at a North Korean gulag. Bravo!
Have you read the Old Testament, Francis? It's the biography of a jealous megalomaniac. God murders the entire world, and that's in the FIRST CHAPTER. Spoiler alert. His behavior doesn't improve as the story rolls on.
I wouldn't trust God to watch my cat for a half hour. Unless, of course, I wanted my cat to be turned into a pillar of salt as punishment for pooping outside the litter box.
Yeah, let THAT GUY in schools.


I'm going to write a lot more about this subject when my goddamn right hand is out of this cast. Thanks, God.

Sunday, May 8, 2016

The Grimy Planks of an Old Friend

This piece was originally published by Rum Bunter in 07/16. However, since I'm currently experiencing writer's block I'm publishing it here, at the risk of Fan Sided or Time Inc. giving half a shit anyway.)



As the cliché goes, a lot can happen during the span of 162 games. Yes, on the field, but a helluva lot of life can happen in the meantime. Since the baseball season unfolds nearly every day from spring bloom to when trick-or-treat candy lines the shelves at Giant Eagle, it coincides with life’s gradual advance.

A component of the major league game that has always captivated me is that a baseball season is like a mixtape. Let me explain. A mixtape is composed of a hodgepodge of songs. Each of the songs steers your memory into a U-turn towards the time and place, and distinct feelings you experienced when you first heard the songs on FM radio, or late night on MTV. (That’s the effect mixtapes had on this Gen X’er, anyway.)

When I reflect on Pittsburgh Pirates seasons of the past decade I simultaneously relive whatever “life” was transpiring at the time. For instance, when I think to when the Pirates peaked in the summers of both 2011 and 2012 – those quasi-resurgent campaigns – I was on vacation at Rehoboth Beach with the family. So, the start of the Pirates’ collapses and pleasant memories of the rising tide are married. (Of course, after two years I came to believe that my taking a vacation cursed the team and stalled the rebuild). I remember Freddy Sanchez’s summer-long chase to claim the batting crown, circa 2006, coinciding with gradually falling for my wife-to-be. I vividly recall the ghastly collapse of 2012. Amid the night-after-night gut punches, I published my novel and experienced the birth of my son, Uri. (“Pirates flag outside”). Until early August that year, I thought the squirt might actually be born during an exhilarating playoff run. Nope. Uri was born on a night the Houston Astros pretty much put the fourteen final nail in the coffin. Yeah, I watched that in the maternity ward.

The only span during the baseball season when nothing happens on the diamond, but life plows onward, is during the All Star break. And here we are. I’d like to stop a moment at the signpost that reads “welcome to baseball’s second half” and briefly reflect on baseball, life, and the loss of a certain back deck.

Yes, I’m leaving my sanctuary.

As a fan, the 2015 Pittsburgh Pirates season began like any other, writing for RumBunter notwithstanding. After enduring a brutal winter along with my North Eastern brethren, my schedule for the upcoming summer was unoccupied, and my anticipation of a division crown was teeming. The snow on the back deck gradually melted, and dripped through the planks and on my kayak below. Before long, I swept the cobwebs off my trusty radio, snatched the IPAs from the fridge, and took up residence on the deck. No sleep until November, hopefully.

I followed the first few months of the season without real-world life events complicating my fandom. At first, the Pirates disappointed. Early speculation swirled about the severity of Andrew McCutchen‘s “lower body” issues. “Is he impaired? If so, how is the injury affecting his mechanics? For god’s sake, how do you explain his pitiful average? Awwwwwww!” Francisco Cervelli immediately impressed with his sweet bat, superb pitching framing ability, and firecracker personality. After Russell Martin signed elsewhere, Uncle Frank’s presence softened the impact of the collective plunge into the Allegheny River after a Bucco Nation suicide jump from the Roberto Clemente Bridge. And Gerrit Cole appeared every bit the ace that fans had hoped he’d become since being drafted first overall in 2011.Still, the team repeated its 2014 early-season struggles. Even so, I followed nearly every moment of every game. My Back Deck Reports are testimony.

Memories of this time of my life outside are uneventful: working, fathering, husbanding, writing, kicking rocks down quiet alleys while whistling Ziggy Stardust, and following the Bucs.

As the Pirates season began to change in mid-May, so did my life. Whereas the Pirates gained in the standings, I lost…my beloved back deck. The deck is now under contract to be purchased, along with my home, by someone I will never meet. The Bower family is moving up, apparently.

At least the Pirates are surging toward the pinnacle of the NL Central. Yes, they look like the team we hoped for. Before he returned to the DL, Josh Harrison had begun to recapture the magic of his out-of-right field 2014 campaign. A.J. Burnett has peaked at age 38, and will don an All-Star jersey for the first time in his 17-year career. Cutch has become Cutch again. The Pirates have roared back to contention. As of the All-Star break, the team sits 2.5 games back of the Cardinals.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the recent two-month resurgence. Thoroughly. What beats the final two walk-off victories of the latest Cardinals series? Now THAT’S redemption for those three disheartening walk-off Cardinal victories in St. Louis in early May. But when the snow swirls again, and I day dream back to the time when the Bucs ripped the (black) hearts out of the Cardinals two nights in a row, the vague sense of the anxiety of buying and selling a house, and bequeathing my deck, will coil around my nerves again.

My only venture onto the back deck in the last few weeks was to set up the patio furniture for the open house. I can’t bear to feel the grimy planks under my bare feet. I can’t enjoy relaxing on it and listening to a Pirates game anymore. I feel like the deck is an old girlfriend who still lives under the same roof; we’re both waiting in awkward silence, trying to ignore one another, until her new boyfriend picks her up in his piece of crap Chevy S-10.

Come mid-August The Bower family will living in our new home. No back deck, just a front porch without a roof. However, the back yard has a sprawling view of downtown and Oakland. I’ll listen Bob Walk‘s dry wit and shoot at the Met Life blimp with a BB gun.

My wish is that my first memories of the new home coincide with memories of the Pirates stampede to a NL Central division championship. Someday, I want to fondly recall unpacking boxes in the new living room while Greg Brown shouts “Frightfully Bully.” I want to joyously relive ripping down the old wallpaper in the new kitchen while Steve Blass yells “Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god!” after a walk-off dinger. I want to blow off painting the new bedroom so I can attend the tickertape parade downtown in late October.

Crap. I fear I just jinxed the season. Apologies.

Goodbye, back deck. We’ve suffered countless soul-wrenching Pirates defeats, but celebrated a few victories too (the campaign bath in 2013). You’ve heard me curse Ronny Cedeno, and praise Pedro Alavarez (like, once or twice). I’m leaving you to a new owner. But I’ve vetted him. He’s not a Cardinals fan (or a Brewers/Reds/Cubs/lite beer fan).

We raised it good, my old friend.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

PLAY BALL

This piece has been published via Fan Sided/Rum Bunter in 2015. Therefore, the references lag by one year. Furthermore, although I am obligated to NOT publish this piece here, I'd love to see the Fan Sided parent company challenge the publishing powerhouse that is Crooked Lullabies. Your funeral, Time Inc.

Ah, yes, the Pittsburgh Pirates Opening Day is here. The smell of the grass. The crack of the bat. The taste of pine tar.

Hey, get that out of your mouth.

Take me out to the ballgame

Finally, nothing else matters. Every spring training essay, editorial, blog, status update, Tweet, opinion, statistical breakdown, and observation is as pointless as a desk fan in a windstorm, or a cooler at the North Pole, or seeking a willing trade partner for Jose Tabata.

Buster Olney predicted the Pittsburgh Pirates to win the World Series. So what? Albert Einstein predicted that nuclear energy would never be obtainable. The New York Times predicted that a rocket would never leave the Earth’s atmosphere. Variety Magazine predicted rock n’ roll would die in 1955.

Until April 6, every post on Rum Bunter may as well be written in the sand near the crashing waves. The Big Tuna thinks the Pirates’ starting rotation will be as strong as any in the National League. Jim Tufexis says that Starling Marte will be an MVP candidate. Jon Anderson likes Corey Hart’s projected power in PNC Park.

Okay. Great.

High tide comes Opening Day.

Take me out with the crowd

PNC Park comes alive on Opening Day.

If you press your fingers into the wrist of the bronze Roberto Clemente on Federal Street, you’ll swear you feel a pulse. Nearby, a larger-than-life Willie Stargell emerges from a cold hibernation to great fans as Pops again. Around the corner and down the street, maybe, just maybe, Maz won’t be the only Pirate rounding the bases as a winner in October.

An old fan prays for one last World Series winner before his time has passed. He thinks this might be the year –“dear god let this be the year.” A fathers point out Andrew McCutchen to his son. A young fan — daydreaming only of a scoop of ice cream in a plastic batting helmet and to see the Pirate Parrot up close — will someday point out the next Pirates great to his son, and pray for one last World Series before his time has passed.


Buy me some peanuts and cracker jack

…and a $9 Miller Lite pounder, and an 18 pound container of nachos smothered in cheese, and a slab of beef off the grill puffing smoke beyond the left center field wall so Manny Sanguine will sign my baseball.

I don’t care if I never get back

Full disclosure: I do care if I get back. Imagine being locked inside a baseball park for the rest of your life. You’d have to live off discarded sunflower seeds from the dugout floor, and infield sprinkler water.

But in the moment, man…

In the moment, a Neil Walker Opening Day walk-off home run in the 10th inning to break a 0-0 tie…

You might forget yourself until the fireworks stop exploding. You might high-five a stranger you’d otherwise curse if he cut you off in traffic. You might not realize there’s a great big world outside of PNC Park.

You might lose yourself in a timeless moment, of a jubilation so fleeting.

Let me root, root, root for the home team

At PNC Park, rooting for the home team is merely a matter of degree. Most fans fit into one of the following categories.

The Whatevers — Just there for the vintage Bob Walk bobblehead, or the AGH beach towel, or a bachelorette party, or the Fan Jam Train concert, or, you know, whatever. A dying breed since The Streak ended.

The Common (foot-long hotdog) Feeder — Wears a Pirates tee-shirt, or Pirates cap, or both, and cheers appropriately. Causes little or no disturbance to surrounding fans. Likely to take part in the wave, but never start it.

The Buc’n Arsehole — Typically either drunk, or too drunk. Gets wildly overexcited about the most insignificant on-field achievement, or obnoxiously criticizes every booted ball. Shouts things like “Jordy Mercer is a bum,” or “woo” in the late innings of a Tuesday night blowout. There ain’t no party like a tailgate party ’cause a tailgate party don’t stop.

The Mascot — A mascot for the fellow fans in his section. Cameramen seek him out for a pre-commercial break fade out. Sometimes granted his own segment on the Titon-Tron — usually involving him dancing alone in the aisle — during inning breaks. Popular during rain delays. Totally sober — a controlled crazy. Most likely to start the wave.

The “What the WTF?” Fan — Name derived from what another fan –typically a Common Feeder — quietly utters to himself upon seeing this fan. For example: When taking a bathroom break, a grown man — dressed head-to-toe in a pirate outfit which looks like it may have been robbed from the corpse of Blackbeard himself — suddenly steps to the urinal next door…”What the WTF?”

Still, these fans are totally dope.

If they don’t win it’s a shame

Winning, yes, that’s why I pay attention. Anything else — bar perhaps the frenzied scene of Randall Simon bolting out of the crowd and chop blocking Oliver Onion during the Great Pierogi Race — would be a shame.

Wait, there IS one aspect of Opening Day that rivals the intensity of the game…the fighter jet flyover — that stadium-shaking messy money shot of awesome timed to coincide with the climax of The National Anthem.

Suddenly, four fighter jets appear above the grandstands like mighty baby phoenixes exploding out of the birth canal of the gods. The roar of twin internal combustion turbojet engines shake your bladder dreadfully near, and possibly a bit beyond, the point of incontinence. Your soul is rendered impotent to its core. You impulsively let go of your chair, and your child, thrusting two fists into the air, pumping them as though you’re beating a hole in the heavens. Every molecule of which your physical body consists screams “FUCK EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE!

This is the point where your life would flash before your eyes, but you haven’t truly lived until this moment.

For it’s one, two, three strikes, you’re out

Duh! This is just Baseball 101.

Specifically, it’s rule 6.05 (b) in the Major League Baseball Official Rules, 2014 Edition.

At the ooold

Opening Day.

Every team is tied for first place. Every team is tied for last place.

Andrew McCutchen has the same batting average as Matt Dominguez. Jeff Locke has as many wins as Clayton Kershaw. Clint Hurdle has chewed zero pieces of gum.

…baaall…

Predestination is a myth. Manifest Destiny is a hoax. Fate is void.

Off-season bold predictions begin a slow death.

…gaaame

Baseball lives again.

PLAY BALL