Unholy Rollers

Dutchland Rollers.png

I’m glad I went to the Barnstormer’s home opener, even though they lost 2-1, giving up the winning run as a result of a wild pitch with a man on 3rd.  I did get to see Chubby Checker again.  I saw the very 1st performance of the Lancaster Cheerleading team, and I got to meet the stars of the local women’s Roller Derby team, The Dutchland Rollers.  “There’s Women’s Roller Derby in Lancaster?” I asked them.  Hey, if I knew that last year, I might have skipped a few baseball games.  I’m a big fan of Roller Derby.  We used to play it in the streets in my old neighborhood.  Using an elbow to steer an opponent into a parked car was a fair play in my neighborhood.  Heck, pushing them into a moving car was only a 1-minute penalty.

So, I got to talk to the young ladies.  They didn’t really have a choice.  They were all gathered near the entrance giving out flyers to their next game.  They were all in uniform, complete with roller skates.  Most of them looked like kids.  Remember, many years ago, when we didn’t trust anyone over 30?  Now, anyone under 30 looks like a kid to me.  Some were quite pretty, especially for Roller Derby stars, and they all looked comfortable on their skates.  They weren’t just acting.  “Anyone related to Charlie O’Connell?” I asked.  I’m not sure they knew who Charlie O’Connell was.  He was a Roller Derby superstar back in the ‘50s.  “How about Dynamite Mike Gammon?”  He’s was Charlies son.  A real speedster on the track.

The San Francisco Bay Bombers were the best team in Roller Derby.  They travelled around the country beating up whoever dared to skate against them.  The New York Team was The New York Chiefs.  I can’t remember any of their names, because everyone rooted for the Bombers.  They were that good.

That was in the ‘50s.  Can you imagine anyone named Dynamite Mike in a “Bombers” jacket being allowed on an airplane today?

“The team can board the plane, Mr. Smith, but we’re going to have to detain the one named Dynamite Mike for Security Reasons….”

So, The Dutchland Rollers play the Mothers State on May 7th.  I intend to be there.  I love this town.  It’s so alive with culture.

Oh, back to the ballgame, they had actual cheerleaders.  Almost 20 young girls in short shorts and tiny t-shirts, did a few cheerleading routines on the sidelines.  The temperature was in the 40s and there was a constant cold mist falling.  They had to be freezing.  Plus, the routine called for them to roll on the floor.  The floor here being a field of wet grass.  I had to put on an extra jacket just to watch them.  They were really troopers, though, and I hope they show up for more games, and I hope that none of them caught Pneumonia.

Chubby Checker sang The National Anthem.

After the 3rd inning Chubby came out again and twisted with the crowd for 5 minutes as we tried to get into the record book for most people in one place dancing to the Twist.  The current record was held by a town in Mississippi, that had over 3,100 people twisting for the required 5 minutes.  I don’t know if we broke their record.  The weather kept a lot of people away from the ballpark, but we did have the entire bullpen twisting away with us.   You don’t get that in the Majors.

The Barnstormers almost pulled it out in the bottom of the 9th inning.  They were trailing by 1 run and had men on 1st and 3rd.  The Barnstormer Centerfielder came to the plate and struck out swinging.

The team also gave out free Slinkys to the first 1,000 patrons.  Tomorrow is $2 beer night.  Does it get any better than this?

I’m born again.  There’s new grass on the field.

Put me in coach.  I can be Centerfield.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

 

 

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Whatcha Gonna Do, When They Come for You?

Bad Boys

Earlier this week, the local police visited me for the fourth time.  Only a handful of locals have visited me more frequently than that.  So, on my list of people in the neighborhood who know me the best, I figure that the local cops are now in 8th place, just behind, Crazy Debbie, Joe Becker (the second-hand furniture salesman, not the boy Hilary and Geralyn Becker adopted), my landlord, Janessa the barmaid, Brook the barmaid, Sarah the barmaid, and the Seth Roegen lookalike-soundalike who works, I kid you not, at the local Puff and Stuff.  I don’t know his name, and he doesn’t know my name, so maybe the local cops are really in 7th place.  It’s close.

It wasn’t anything personal.  The cops were only checking to see if I was alive.  Routine check.  It seems that dropping my 516 cell phone number and dropping my 717 landline phone, led several of my out-of-town friends to think I might be dead (or dying).  Note to self.  Make sure all my friends know my 717 area-code cell number, or else the cops will be back for a 5th visit.

The local cops look like they are all recruited straight out of Gold’s Gym, and they don’t look like small town cops at all.  Lancaster may have a rural background, but it certainly is not Mayberry.  There are quite a few mounted policemen, though, that add a certain charm to the place.

One time the cops (a mini swat team, actually) came looking for my upstairs neighbors, who had moved out a week previously, but usually when they knock on the door, they’re here for me, and they’re checking to see if I’m alive.

“Do you know anyone named Ellie in Texas?

“Yes.”

“She thought you might be dead.”

“The rumor of my death has been greatly exaggerated.”

“What?”

“Mark Twain.”

“Is that your name?  I’m looking for a guy named Paulson.”

“That’s me.  Harold Earl Paulson.”

“You should call Ellie.”

“Do you have her number?” I asked.

“Yes.  Do you have a pen?”

“One minute.”  I stepped back and tripped over an ashtray filled with roaches.  (not the bug kind.)  I hustled back to the door, before the cop could step in.  “Uh, could you just write it down for me?”

He did and left.

I called Ellie, who was my landlady in New Hyde Park.  Her son, Mark answered.  I explained the telephone SNAFU, and we bullshitted for a while.  The bell rang.  The cop was back.

“You don’t exist in our system.  Do you have ID?”

I showed my New York non-driver license to him, and it all made sense, why I wasn’t in the Pennsylvania system.

“I AM registered to vote in Pennsylvania,” I offered, hoping to mollify him.

He wasn’t one bit interested.  I, immediately, wondered who he was voting for.  This probably was not the time to discuss politics.

 

Today is April 15, Tax Day, the day I usually set aside to do my taxes.  I’m a procrastinator, and I always wait until the last minute.  This year I vowed to break that bad habit and I succeeded by one day.  I sent in the tax forms yesterday.

Yesterday was a strange day.  I woke up a little before 9 a.m. (very strange), had breakfast (not so strange), and went to church (It doesn’t get stranger).  Yes, I went to church, but not for any religious reasons.  They were offering free tax preparation.  Usually, I use one of the online services and the Federal form is free but the state form is $25-30 dollars.  I figured that free was better than $25-30, so I went to Church, The First Methodist Church.  Within an hour I was all done.  So, afterwards, I went to the library to check my e-mail.

I noticed that the Barnstormers were playing a spring training game against the York Revolution at 1 p.m., so I left the library and headed for the ballpark.  The Barnstormers scored first, but the Revolution came back to win the game 5-4.  Nobody cared.  It was just a chance to get all the new guys in the game so manager Butch Hobson could get an idea of how they could help the team.

Today, there is another Spring Training game at 1 p.m.  The Barnstormers are playing the Lancaster Bible College team.  That should be a hoot.  As an Agnostic, I’m always amused when sports figures give God credit for their victories, like God was just spending the day watching a boxing match and hoping for his favorite guy to beat the crap out of the other guy.  I don’t think that any of the Barnstormers can go into this game feeling that God is on their side, but I think they can still be fairly confident of a victory.  I’m thinking about bringing a sign that says, “Smote Them.”

Baby, Baby, Baby You’re Out of Time

Davinci Last Supper

You’re obsolete my baby, my poor unfaithful Baby.

Baby, baby, baby, You’re out of time.

-The Rolling Stones

 

When we were kids we used to rank each other out with sayings like, “I’ll rank you so low, you’ll be able to play handball off the curb.”  “I’ll rank you so low that you could jump off a dime and freefall for three minutes.”  Then, when we were in the armed forces with only days remaining on our enlistment, we would proudly say things like, “I’m so short I could play handball off the curb.  I’m so short I could jump off a dime and freefall for three minutes.”  The power and the meanings stirred by words are constantly changing.

Enemy at 9 o’clock?  That used to be a way to warn somebody to look left, but in the world of digital watches it has no meaning anymore.

When you were really sure of something you’d say, I’ll bet you a dollar to a donut that such and such is true.  Back then a donut cost a nickel so that meant you were so sure you were right that you were willing to give 20-1 odds.  Nowadays with the cost of donuts, those aren’t such great odds anymore, and betting a dollar to a blueberry muffin, would really be bad odds for the person risking the muffin.

In the old days we used to pick up the telephone and dial a friend.  There’s no rotary dial on the phone anymore, unless your dad works for the telephone company.  They seem to be the last to want to let that rotor technology go.  Even the touchpad is already being replaced by voice commands, “Siri call home.”

Even Shakespeare had anachronisms in his plays.  Hamlet was set in the 13th Century, and Hamlet supposedly went to The University of Halle-Wittenberg, which was not founded until 1502.  Shakespeare also put a clock in the play Julius Caesar.  I’m sure he knew full well that the Romans didn’t have clocks, but like many other writers he also knew that you just don’t mess up a good story with the facts.

Even Leonardo DaVinci, who told his story with paint instead of words, played fast and loose with the facts.  It was already pointed out in the DaVinci Code that he painted the scene of the Last Supper with no wine glasses on the table, but the unmentioned anachronism is the table itself.  In Jerusalem in Biblical times they did not have great big tables, especially not the kind that were so big that 13 people could sit on one side with everyone facing the painter.

The pen may still be mightier than the sword, but is it mightier than a phaser, a laser, or something even crazier, like a suitcase nuke.

Momma jokes were always popular.  There were jokes like Your Momma is so fat she has her own zip code.  Your Momma is so poor, she has to save old Brillo pads to knit a stove.  But even these come and go with style.  Your mother wears combat boots, used to be the biggest slam.  Now it could be high praise for her hard work and patriotism, especially if your momma was serving in the Armed Forces.

I saw a blooper scene in the movie Troy about the Trojan War, where Brad Pitt could be seen wearing a wristwatch, something that wasn’t quite invented at the time of the Trojan War, especially not Rolexes.  Movies set in early times often have to make sure there are no planes flying in the area, before they yell, “Action,” but it still happens.  Off in the corner of some cave man movie I’ve seen a vapor trail from a plane that was recently in the area of the set.

Movie makers have to insure that they don’t add inventions to the set that didn’t exist at the time of the story.  You can’t have a washer/dryer in the laundry room of the Little House on the Prairie.

To avoid anachronisms in stories about the past it just takes some research, but writing about the future is trickier.  Did anyone writing in the 1990’s picture a New York skyline without The Twin Towers?  What items will be anachronisms sooner than we think?  Books and newspapers will be replaced by smart phones and tablets, but how quickly.  Probably more quickly than we think.  If I write a story set in the year 2020 and say that the subway traveler turned the page of his newspaper, it is quite possible that readers will wonder why he wasn’t using an e-reader or a tablet, and, if you want to take it a step further, how long will it be before smart phones and tablets disappear, too?

Sometimes ancient inventions make great comebacks.  The windmill, originally invented around 650 BC is making a big comeback today.  Wind power.  Who’d a thunk it, in this Hi-tech age?

Sulphur matches used to be given free with every pack of cigarettes.  Bic lighters made them obsolete.  Now, both the matches and the smokes are becoming out of date, and that’s a very good thing.

Toilet paper was invented around 589 AD, but I can’t see that going out of date anytime soon.  Shit still happens.  Firearms were invented in the 10th Century.  Over the centuries, a whole lot of people have tried to put them out of business, but the firearm business is still booming, literally.

Soap was invented in the 13th century in Babylonia.  That’s still going strong, but washing somebody’s mouth out with soap is now only mentioned in old movies.  The slide rule was invented way back in 1630.  Yet, I used one in grammar school, and maybe even in high school, but they didn’t make it to the next generation.  I’ll bet you a dollar to a donut that slide rules aren’t being used in any schools anywhere, anymore.  There were still some ice boxes in use when I was a kid, but not many, but we still called the Refrigerator the Ice Box for many, many years.  Even today, I’ll say, “I’m heading towards the ice box.  Would you like a beer while I’m up?”

In 1836 Samuel Morse invented Morse Code.  The Boy Scouts are probably the only ones who still know the Morse Code, but I doubt if they use it for anything.  Pop Quiz – how do you send an SOS message in Morse Code?  Answer: dit dit dit, dah dah dah, dit dit dit.  (S – Three shorts, O – three longs, and S – three shorts.)  If you ever have to use that, and if a Boy Scout someday saves your life, you’re welcome.

The first solar cell was invented by Edmond Becquerel in 1839.  We’re still hoping that idea will eventually become fashionable.  1852 was the first manned flight in a dirigible.  The Hindenburg knocked that right out of style in a hurry.  In 1877 Thomas Edison produced the first working phonograph.  The recording industry has been active for a century and a half making sure that any recording media you ever purchased was obsolete long before you tired of listening to the thousands of songs you had in that media.  My friend John is the only one I know who still listens faithfully to his stacks of wax.  The rest of us have been coaxed and cajoled into purchasing constant “upgrades” from vinyl, to reel-to-reel, 8-tracks, cassettes, CD and MP3 players, all of which became obsolete soon after we had invested in them.

Remember rabbit ears for your television?  Remember free TV?  Oh, I guess I’m giving away my age on that one.

In 1986 Fujifilm invented the first disposable camera.  Not long after that, smart phones made almost all cameras disposable.

There is an expression that “Fashion wears out more apparel than the man.”  I know that I have wasted money over the years on things like Nehru jackets, panchos, and Ben Casey Shirts.  The Davy Crockett hat, however, was a good investment, though.  I just wish I could find it.

There are even many recent inventions that have already gone the way of the dinosaur.  Most of them end in “dot com.”  The technology itself is not safe from itself.  When’s the last time you used a floppy disk?

Global warming could really change a few things, in the next hundred years, like the Florida coastline, for example.  Maybe future generations will wonder what you’re writing about if your book is set on the Florida coastline.  Maybe they will even wonder, “What’s Florida?”  All right, that’s not such a bad thing, but it’s not such a good thing either.

In the future, cowboys may still ride off into the sunset, but they’ll probably be doing it on motorcycles, or some sort of hovercraft.

I sign off each of my stories offering peace and love, and hoping that they never go out of style.  Some things are worth keeping and have no expiration date.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl