🧩 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 🧩Hitler Talk ⚖️Chicken Postscript 🐣Green Seats ⚾ I wonder when the average German in the 1930s/1940s said something akin to “Oh shit.” There has to be a point when the rational, sane sauerkraut-lover realized that perhaps his or her vote for a certain mustachioed politician was a really bad idea. For…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Take Me Away🛀Period Tracker🩸Choose Wisely💒 Arriving for the first day at a new job is kind of like showing up in a new town after throwing away your old identity. It’s a blank slate, and you can be anyone you’d like to be. Want to go by a different name? Go…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Racist Billboard🐲Roe Silence😶Guest Bulldog🐶 Driving out of rural northern Arkansas today to return home after several days in a cabin in the boonies, I passed a billboard that was startling, to say the least. It starts off innocently enough with a very true statement: “It’s not racist to 💗 people.” I…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Uranus Sleeper🔭Cabin Rules🩲Taco Seasoning🌮 What does Cuba, Uranus, Sleeper, Doolittle and a billboard saying “If we don’t return to 2 Chronicles, than were finished” have in common? They all were on the route from my Humble Rural Missourah Home to the cabin in the boonies of Arkansas that is my home…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Check Engine 🚗Declined 🥡Murder Suspect 🔪 Every once in awhile, life throws you a pleasant surprise that seems to even the score a bit. Wifey Poo’s car is up for an emissions inspection this year. Her “check engine” light has been going on and off for a year or so, and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩River Thoughts 🛶Little Annoyances 😠Birthday Boy 🎂 I didn’t know what a float trip was until I met Wifey Poo. I’m not even sure today that the term “float trip” is used outside Missourah. But if you’re a Missourahn, when someone says, “Wanna go on a float trip?” you know a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Boys 👨👦👦Work Drinking🥃Feeling Good 😎 I’ve understood since seventh-grade science class how a child is a somewhat random and yet somewhat traceable mish-mash of his parents and their parents and their parents ad infinitum. It’s so cool to see that play out with my own boys. Boy The Elder is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩The Stinger 🦂Inflation 🎈Housing Costs 🏘️ There’s something quite amazing about witnessing a human dinosaur be thrown through a stack of four tables. That was just one of the scenes from last night as Boys The Elder & Younger and I attended AEW Dynamite and Rampage. The biggest news from the…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shitty Goodbye 💩Bald Is Beautiful 👨🦲Housing Market 🏘️ It’s official: My duty ensuring the continued breathing of roughly 20 chickens for Wifey Poo’s and Boy The Younger’s vacationing friends is over. Success! All birds were present and accounted for this morning, as I said goodbye to my new friends — Gertrude,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩CrytpoStupidity ₿Coffee Seltzer ☕Chicken Update🐓 I like to make fun of Matt Damon. I know this comes from a place of deep-seated insecurity because Matt Damon is, well, Matt Damon and I am not. Yet it’s fun to make fun of Matt Damon, precisely because he is Matt Damon — all…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Meatloaf🦎Ugly Fish🐟Chicken Update🐓 You can buy insurance for many things. Your car. Your home. Your boat. Your health. Your eyes, teeth or brain (which, for some reason, is separate from your health). And now, according to a Missourah court, you can buy insurance that pays you if you contract a sexually…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Kentucky Fried Idiot 🍗Johnny Boy Marketing✏️Airplanes!🛦🛦🛦🛦🛦 There’s a scene in the 1979 film Rocky II in which the titular character (sorry, I’ve always wanted to write that …) is tasked by his trainer Mickey with chasing a chicken. Rocky was pummeled into oblivion — though somehow managed to eek out a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Rogue Golfers 🐝Nay Voters🐟Chicken Day🥤 Golfers are known as being a genial sort. Whereas a basketball player could maul an opponent driving the lane, leaving him bloody and unconscious, and still complain about the foul called on him, golfers actually call fouls on themselves! Yet the world of professional golf is…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bees Suck 🐝Bees As Fish🐟Cup O’ Pee🥤 I hate bees. Yes, I know they’re somehow the lynchpin on which our species’ survival will turn, but seriously, if we’re so fragile that we’re depending on a stinging invertebrate to keep us going, well, perhaps we’re not really so special after all. My…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Poultry Responsibilities 🐔Fine Dining🥩Crappy Year For Music🎵 I am many things. I am a husband, a father, a marketing guy, a storyteller, a jokester, a damn good parallel parker and a guy who played on a basketball team that lost 135-3. What I am not is a farmer. I left my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩NASCAR President ₿Creepy Coffee☕Chef BTE 🍖 We all know that just about every politician at any level is, in some way, bought and paid for, right? I mean, perhaps your local school board representative isn’t (though she might be owned by her kid), but when you reach the state and national…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Dessert, Not Desert 🍨Happy Belated Birthday, McLovin 🎁Men Kissing 🏳️🌈 I started out my career in the news business and quickly learned that people suck. I mean, back in the mid-1990s, the internet was just becoming a thing — we even capitalized it … Internet … and wrote “e-mail” instead of…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩New Job🧑💼Happy Times🤗Small World ⚾ Buckle up. It’s story time. Today I made a reservation for Ruth’s Chris steakhouse on Sunday for me, Wifey Poo and Boys The Elder and Younger. The Core Four is getting dressed up. Keep in mind, we are not Ruth’s Chris people. It’s not that we…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Pants on the Ground👖Pimp Slap✋Pissin’ in the Wind🌬️ I had occasion to wear a suit yesterday. This was notable because I evidently hadn’t worn said suit in about a year. Over those 365 days, I’ve lost roughly 30 pounds. Thus, I showed up to the engagement necessitating a suit looking like…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Chainsaws Suck🪓Early Arrival✈️Shrimp on the Barbie🦐 I awoke bright and early this morning, kissed Wifey Poo on the forehead and went outside ready to put chainsaw to felled tree. I live far enough out in the country that crankin’ up a chainsaw at 6:30 a.m. on a holiday morning isn’t a…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩My Fullback 🚑Sicky Poo 🤒Helium Shortage 🎈 I don’t get paid anywhere close to enough to deal with St. Louis traffic when it rains. Not that St. Louis drivers are uniquely bad. I would imagine large swaths of drivers in other cities react just as poorly to the presence of moisture…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Taking Toys Away 🔫Checked Out ✈️Windsurfing Kid 🌬️ Many moons ago, I had a toy rubber snake. That my parents would have allowed such a purchase is shocking, given that Mother Dearest was terrified of anything remotely reptilian and Sister wasn’t that far behind. Yet there, in the depths of my…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Shut Up🤫Waffle House 🧇Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes🤗 So here’s something I don’t quite understand: Why is anyone, especially our political leaders, expressing “shock” over what happened in Texas yesterday. Dude … the sun rose yesterday. The sun has risen every single freaking day for the course of humanity. The sun will rise tomorrow. That’s…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Subway Obsession😞Guard Dog 🐶Chainsaw John🪓 Every child is peculiar in his or her own way. It’s an early indication we all should recognize that none of us is normal. We’re all weird. And that’s OK. Boy The Younger has always had his peculiarities. As a small child, he was fascinated with…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Musical History🎹Why Write? 🖊️Loser Level😔 We finally have only one piano in our house! Now, don’t get to thinking we’re this uber-musical family. We’re not. Wifey Poo, from what I hear, was a helluva clarinetist back in her day and did, indeed, take piano lessons. Boy The Elder is really good…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Beyond Tired😫Busting Ass 🐝Covid Sadness😔 Everything is knowable. When I look back at the pace of change in my life, I think that’s the biggest difference between my life as a child and my life as an adult. Back then, if you wondered something, you just … wondered it. I mean,…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Sad Anniversary😞My Back! 😳Dachau😭 Thirty-five years ago today, my first grandparent died. Grandpa was my favorite grandparent, and in looking back, I think it was because of his willingness to join my world. Grandpa played games with me endlessly. He taught me how to play rummy. He would spend hours on…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Bye-Bye BTE✈️Rival Riot Rumble 🤼♂️Old Man John🤕 In a few hours, Boy The Elder will board a plane headed for Germany. He just completed his sophomore year at Mizzou, and now he’s going overseas for a two-week study-abroad session in which he’ll allegedly learn more about food science and fermentation and…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Double-U🧸Big Sis 🦸♀️Preggo Healer 🤰 Anyone remember Speak & Spell? If you’ve seen E.T., you’ve seen it before. Don’t know why, but I was thinking about this toy the other day. For some reason, spelling wasn’t school if you had one of these things to play with. I can still hear…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Heat Wave🥵Lawn Mowing🚜Last Podcast 🎙️ It’s hotter than balls outside in my section of Missourah, and I’m not happy about it. I am not a hot-weather person. I hate heat. I sweat easily. I turn red even easier. Having a bald head does not match well with sun exposure. And has…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Friends😔What To Do?🙋Creepy Dolls 🎎 Yesterday was a rough day. It’s one thing to be a person with essentially no friends. It’s another thing altogether to not be friends with yourself. That’s where I was yesterday — all up in my head and imagining the worst was about to happen in…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Losing Money 🥊The Best F’N Mom Ever👩Heat 🥵 Wifey Poo and I took our weekly date Saturday and went to the city made famous in the original National Lampoon’s Vacation movie: East St. Louis. No, East St. Louis isn’t in Missouri and no, it’s not a popular data destination, but what…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩One Long Sentence 🖊️Birthday Boy🎂Wine & Chocolate 🍷🍫 I remember being a kid and wanting to be an adult. I wanted to drive and have a girlfriend and be able to do whatever it was that I wanted to do, not what someone else said I should do. And now, here…Keep reading
🧩 Today’s Puzzle Pieces 🧩Ink Stain 🖊️Big Week 🎂Gas Pumps 😂 If getting a link of ink right across the front of your shirt while trying to catch a falling pen isn’t one of the Mondayest of Monday things that can happen to a dude, I’m sure there aren’t too many things that can beat…Keep reading