🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩
When I was a small boy, the Indianapolis 500 was must-see TV. I’m not sure exactly how it started, but it must have been around 1978 — when I was a 4-year-old boy who loved Matchbox cars and big wrecks. It was around that time that Pops brought home our first VCR — a Video Cassette Record, for you kids. It was a monstrosity that sat on the shelf part of the console TV (because 1970s) and would be used to record on-TV movies such as Star Wars (which shaped my childhood), the original King Kong (which filled my 5-year-old mind with nightmare fuel) and The Wizard of Oz (F.U. to the flying monkeys).
But it was the recording of each year’s Indy that I would watch over and over (and over and over and over) again as I played with my Matchbox cars on our green shag family-room carpet (again, because 1970s). So frequently would I watch the thing that I could (and did) do the commentary of Chris Economaki and former driver Jackie Stewart, even attempting to imitate the latter’s British accent.
These were the days of AJ Foyt, Al Unser (he didn’t need the Sr. back then), Mario Andretti, Rick Mears and Gordon Johncock (*snicker*), back before the rise (and current fall) of NASCAR as anything other than that thing people with funny accents thought was cool.
There was — and is — nothing better in motorsports than the start of the Indianapolis 500, when 11 rows of three cars each take the green flag and storm toward the always-too-tight-for-comfort Turn 1.
Today was the 106th version of the race. We didn’t get home from our zoo visit (see below) until about 60 laps in, so I didn’t get to witness that start, but it still was a great race that included a late-race caution that bunched up the field and led to a dramatic last-lap failed pass attempt to deliver the victory to Swede Marcus Ericcson.
I’m old, folks, and I mark the passage of time by Andrettis. When I got hooked on the Indy, it was Mario and only Mario, the tough-luck Italian who was always competitive but seemed to be snake-bitten by something or other every year. Then his son Michael joined him in the race — and shared his dad’s bad luck. Now, it’s Michael’s son Marco who competes in the race and similarly never seems to find victory lane and the trademark jug of milk (eww).
I don’t record the race anymore, and I don’t play with my Matchbox cars on the carpet while I watch it, but for a few hours each year, I hear echoes of a good part of my childhood and smile.
I don’t do heat well. I never have. I was the kid who, five minutes after going outside on a summer day, would be red-faced and dripping with sweat (though that never stopped me or even really slowed me down). Things didn’t change with adulthood. It was about 10 years ago when the family went to a Kansas City Royals game on a blistering-hot Missourah summer day and decided to tailgate in the parking lot before the first pitch. At some point (and I admit, there was a bit of alcohol involved), I was talking to my brother-in-law and a Wifey Poo cousin when I started to get tunnel vision and realized I was about to pass out. The cousin is a hilarious dude who has tremendous compassion for his fellow humans, and evidently, he shepherded me over to a chair under a canopy and brought large amounts of ice to put on my neck and stuff down the back of my shirt.
Yesterday, Wifey Poo and I went to Busch Stadium for my portion of her Cardinals triple header with the men of the Core Four.
It was a beautiful day outside. But inside the stadium in the bleachers under the hot sun with a sold-out crowd? It was absolutely disgusting. Finally, after the Cardinals stretched the lead to 7-0, Wifey Poo and I went to grab something to drink and sit in the much, much, much cooler concourse and watch the rest of the game on the many TVs surrounding a bar area.
I’ve said this before about baseball — it’s not like other sports. It’s a game that’s meant to be savored. And savor it we did. We had some amazing conversations. We people-watched. We rooted for the players we have on our fantasy baseball teams and against those whom our opponents have this week.
It was, in a word, good.
But it was always too damn hot to go back to our seats and sizzle in the sun, which felt much less this …
and much more this …
Today the other two members of the Core Four who were at that point in these here United States (more on that in a moment) awoke early with me, and we proceeded down I-64 to the St. Louis Zoo. The day promised to be hot, but the morning was gorgeous, so we walked around the sprawling facility and cherry-picked our favorite animals.
While every other kid my age back in the day was fawning over lions and elephants, I was the kid who absolutely loved lemurs.
The St. Louis zoo recently build a new outdoor primate exhibit I had yet to see, so I got to hang with my favorite animals for a while. Boy The Younger is similarly weird in that his favorite animal is the red panda …
… which, zoologically speaking, is not related at all to this stupid thing …
If you know I’m at a zoo and you don’t find me watching the lemurs, you’ll find me with the gorillas. That’s where we were today when we happened upon an older gentleman — we’d learn during the course of our conversation that he had just turned 80 — who was even more ga-ga over the big apes than I am over lemurs. The dude was there by himself and said that the St. Louis Zoo gorillas are his children now that his are grown. He proceeded to tell us all about one of the apes in the enclosure — and then pulled out photo books of pictures of gorillas around the country (and the world!) that he’s seen. He had story after story after story about each of these majestic animals and proceeded to drop some serious gorilla knowledge on us.
Should Wifey Poo have to go before me to the Great Beyond, I imagine an 80-year-old me something like that guy.
I awoke this morning to a text from Boy The Elder, telling me he was about to take off on his flight back from Germany. He’s been there for the past two weeks as part of a study-abroad group organized by the Food Science department. Yes, they might have talked a little bit about fermentation during one of the wine tastings, but it doesn’t appear from the pictures I’ve seen that this trip was very academic.
Which is, to me, exactly what it should be. The education comes from seeing the authentic culture of another country, and because the professor leading the group is a native German himself, they’ve gotten away from the touristy stuff and into what I imagine real Germany to be like.
We were on the way back from the zoo when we received another text saying BTE had landed at Newark Airport. Ten minutes later, we received yet another text saying that the flight that was supposed to bring him back to St. Louis for an 8:30 p.m. rendezvous had been cancelled.
BTE if very much a live-for-the-moment kid. He and his buddies on the trip are now strategizing a night out in NYC before a 9 a.m. take-off tomorrow. That my boy will be in my old stomping grounds makes me smile.
In Other Writing …
As Zach prepares for his first ultramarathon, he sometimes finds himself 20 miles into a training run deep in the Redwood Forest with tears streaming down his blond-bearded face. It’s not pain from the grueling run or sadness from a sometimes difficult past that brings them. They are tears of appreciation that he, born without…Keep reading
Today’s Reasons to Keep Living
- I’m cutting down a dead apple tree tomorrow. Chainsaw fun!
- Next week could be huge in the trajectory of our family.
- I gotta pick BTE up from the airport tomorrow.
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🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Indycar 🏎️Best Friends 😎Baseball Irony ⚾ There are certain people who look at car racing as an endless series of left turns. These people are idiots on whom nuance is lost. Boy The Elder and I crossed the border yesterday late-morning to head just past the fine city of East St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Swine Inflation 🐖Swamp Thing 🎥Phone Calls 📱 Life was different when I went to college in Iowa after growing up in suburban New York City. This isn’t to suggest I was a city kid. I wasn’t. The city was a place we went to a few times a year, and where…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Triple-Threat 🖥️🖥️🖥️Tasmanian Tiger 🐅Video Work 📹 Humans were not meant to stare at laptop screens. At least, humans of a certain age were not meant to stare at laptop screens. I say this after successfully lobbying for a second monitor at work, which effectively turned my laptop screen into a third…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Look Before Brewing ☕Hoop Construction 🏀Nuclear War ☢️ If you’d like an indication of how much of a Monday yesterday was for me, know that I ended up with an orange in my coffee. Well, to be fair, it wasn’t a full-blown orange. It was something called a Cutie, which is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Weird Date 🪦Nature Walk🌳Bulldog Bath 🐶 If you have a date walking around a cemetery, you’re either weird or goth, and neither Wifey Poo nor I were wearing black today, which I guess tells you all you need to know about us. Old cemeteries are something of a fascination for us,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩So Long, Kid 👨👦Steak Celebration🥩Chip & Joanna 🪚 Regular readers of my drivel know that I’m kind of an emotional guy, which is like saying that Jack kind of could have fit on the spacious floating door with Rose in Titanic. So it should come as no surprise when I say…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Cash 4 IRS 💰Cash 4 Workers 💸Sound of Silence 🤫 Be extra careful on your taxes this year. The IRS is expected to receive nearly $80 billion when The Inflation Reduction Act eventually becomes law, and its plan is to hire 87,000 full-time workers. More than half of the $80 billion…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Spoon Nose 🥄👃🏻Dump Truck 🚚Twitter Traitor 🐦 Every night, I strap a mask attached to a long hose to my face so I don’t die. Not satisfied with looking kinda like an idiot, I then wrap a flexible Velco-enabled strap around my chin and fasten it on top of my bald…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Thanks, Yankees ⚾Kitchen Moment 👩🍳McDonald’s Glasses 🥛 Wifey Poo and I were recent college graduates and months away from becoming Married Folk when our relationship nearly faced its greatest test. The New York Yankees were rolling toward their first World Series appearance since I played with Matchbox Cars, and the St.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Mammoth Dilemma🦣Zombie Pigs🧟🐖Stadium Pals⚾ Finding the fossilized remains of a Wooly Mammoth in New Mexico isn’t exactly news. It seems the furry elephants loved to hang out in the land so frequently visited by aliens. What is news is the condition of the fossils from the latest find. Some of the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ankle Shot 🦶🏻Teamwork 🤝🏽Talkspace Stupidity 🤪 Over the years, I’ve played catch with Boy The Younger dozens and dozens of times. From those early days of him aimlessly flinging an oversized soft thing a few feet forward, to now when he’s zipping a real baseball the regulation distance from a pitching…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Creative Desert 🎨So Long, Supra 🏎️Taco Truck 🌮 I have absolutely nothing today. On most days — even the really, really bad days — I can push out something creatively worthwhile. A blog post. A flyer. A video. Not today. Today I have jack shit. This is professionally problematic, considering my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Hungry=Stupid 😋Strategic Planning 📅Bed Sizes 🛏️ Hunger is a strong motivator. This, most of us know. Yet I witnessed this truth at a whole new level this weekend. Wifey Poo and I traveled up to Hannibal, Missourah, for a few days. Hannibal, for you uncultured folks, is the hometown of Mark…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Change 🌀Me, Different 😷Bad Baseball ⚾ I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: Most everything in humanity is governed by two intertwined forces. Supply and demand. Scarcity. Whether its the economy or human emotions, everything about us is geared toward responding to these two things. For example, when there…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double Standards 🦅Birthday Deals 🎁Video Guy 📹 The United States has a problem with hypocrisy. Don’t worry, though; it’s nothing new. It just happens to be glaringly apparent right now. Our revered Founding Fathers got things off on a really bad foot when they penned the lofty statement that all men…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Revolution 🌍Rain 🌧️Refund 💰 By this time tomorrow, I will have completed 48 trips around the sun. Or is it 47 and I’ll be starting my 48th? Whatever. I’ll be 48 years old tomorrow. I have to admit, I’m feeling kinda blah about it. Looking back, this past revolution was busy…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bitchy Mother Nature 🌧️⚡Tech Woes 🖥️Maturation 👦 Overnight storms made for a restless night, as waves of rain and thunder rolled through our section of Missourah. Flash flood warnings pinged my phone sometime in the middle of the night, and by the time I left for my drive to work, eastbound…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rollercoasters 🎢Sad Puppy 🐶News Roundup 🤖 It’s possible to think a lot of thoughts while plummeting 90 feet at a 90-degree angle while staring up at the sun. This I learned yesterday while at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missourah, with the Core Four, Div, Wifey Poo’s baby sister and baby…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Date Day 🤟🏽Prison Justice 👊Universe Questions 🚀 Wifey Poo and I ended up having more than 12 hours to ourselves yesterday here in the Midwest Redneck Mecca of Branson, Missourah. Boys The Elder and Younger, along with BTE’s lovely girlfriend of nearly three years, and Wifey Poo’s baby sister and family…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩WFH WTF? 🧑💼Rebel Ball ⚾Psych Myth 🧠 As a writer/columnist/blogger/thought-spewer, I always enjoy when I get something out there before anyone else. I dug that when I was a newspaper journalist, and I dig it now. That’s why I’m happy to be hearing national publications and sites like Business Insider starting…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Fahrenheit 🌡️Blindingly White ⬜Alone Time 👴 Muricah is very much a reactionary nation. Much of what we do and who we are is because we were pissed off about the way someone else did things. Monarchy? We’ll have a democracy, thank you very much. The metric system? We’ll measure stuff our…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Tryouts ⚾BBQ Sauce🍖TMNT🐢 There is cause for celebration in the Core Four: Boy The Younger has been drafted. Sadly, we’re not talking about the ongoing Major League Baseball draft. Rather, we’re talking about the sick modern world of Little League baseball. Not to get too “Get off my lawn!” on you,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Growth 💗Dreams 💤Redecorating 🛋️ There are moments in a dad’s life in which he can see the growth of his sons quite clearly. Sometimes that growth is physical. One day, Boy The Elder was a short, stocky little boy and then, boom, he came home from his high school job at…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Burn Pit🔥Alaska Ass🍑Nose Hair🐽 Having a plan is a far different thing from having a plan work out. I’m really good at the former, yet the latter seems to be extremely elusive. Yesterday, my plan was to take the huge pile of chopped-down cedar-tree limbs that have been in my backyard…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Jewel💎First Kiss💋Slow Ahead🐢 Wifey Poo and I are headed out into the sweltering hell that is Missourah this evening to see the woman who, should she knock on my door and say “let’s go,” I am fully empowered to join in the next part of life’s journey. I jest. Sort of.…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Parenthood 🚓Alexa 📋Quick-Hitters 👋 Just about every statistic imaginable tells us we shouldn’t have kids — at least, not if we’re concerned about our own happiness, mental health, marriage, career, finances, time or ability to buy a really boss car instead of a freaking minivan. Yet here we are, still a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Lawrence Pfaff Sr. Sucks 🚓Engagement Talk 🌯Quick-Hitters 👋 From what I know of Lawrence H. Pfaff Sr. of Belmont, NY, he was kind of a douche. The 81-year-old man died on June 27. I never met him. Never even heard of him. Until I read his obit. And about that obit?…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Travelling Companion🚓Free Beans 🌯Unfollowed 👋 Brandy Bottone is either stupid or brilliant. Whichever it is, she’s also right. The Texas woman was traveling in the HOV lane — which, for the country folk out there, stands for High Occupancy Vehicle and is reserved for cars with two or more people to…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Slots 🎰Dude Perfect ⚽Bye Bye Facebook? 👋 My mother-in-law (AKA The Judester) is nearly 81 years old and has knee problems that keep her from getting around too well these days. Watching her stand up from a chair is to feel pain yourself. Yet when I walked into the Ameristar casino…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Reflections on Grandma 👵Kids & Death 👨👦👦Don’t Say It 🤫 My grandma died yesterday, four days shy of her 96th birthday. As it goes with people at that age, it wasn’t a surprise. She had been fading for more than a year and, though she still was breathing, that version of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sleepwalking 🧨DnD Gang 🎲Gas Idiots 🛢️ If there were a day-by-day measure of the collective output of workers in these here United States of Amuricah (and for all I know, there is), I would venture to guess that July 5 ain’t our most productive day. I base this on my observations…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Stupid Parade 🧨Math Matters ➗What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Not being a hugely patriotic person at this point in my life, I made no plans to go to any Fourth of July parade this year. It seems mighty foolish to be celebrating freedoms that are eroding right before our eyes, though I…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Alone Time, Girl Time 👩👧Picture Hanger🔨What Amazon Reveals 🚚 Wifey Poo and I found ourselves in an interesting position at home today for a little bit: Alone. Boy The Elder took off for Six Flags with his buds, and Boy The Younger left with a friend and his family (Chicken Owner,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Oil Change 👨🔧Goose Lover🛦Church & State⛪ Based on my history, the last place anyone should ever look for me is underneath a car. Yet that’s where I found myself late this morning, side-by-side with Boy The Elder as he showed me exactly how stupid I’ve been all my life. I’m not…Keep reading