Who Let the Dogs Out?

68 is not old

Here’s something that probably none of you know, and probably none of you care to know, but I’m going to tell you anyway, because that’s the way I roll.  The area of a racetrack that takes the most pounding is the area closest to the rail, because the shortest trip to the finish line is the trip that skims along the rail.  Calvin Burrell won a few Kentucky Derbies by taking his horse on a path that skimmed the rail the entire mile and a quarter.  If you watched those Derbies, you knew that.  What you didn’t know is that racetracks take special precautions to prevent excessive wear and tear on the inside portion of the racetrack during morning workouts.  They put traffic cones on the track to keep horses away from the rail.   When Racing Form clockers report the times of these workouts, they let the racing fans know that the horse was not allowed to skim the rail because “the dogs were out.”  That means, there were traffic cones on the track to prevent the horses from getting too close to the precious rail area.  I have no idea if the Baha men knew this terminology when they wrote their one hit, “Who let the dogs out,” but I’m just passing this information along to my readers to keep them well informed.

 On my birthday last week, Jose Canseco made a guest appearance at Clipper Magazine Stadium in a home run hitting contest against five local amateurs.  Since the five local guys were not major league caliber they put the dogs out.  Traffic cones were placed in the outfield and any ball hit past the cones was considered a home run.  Spoiler alert!  Jose won the contest easily.  Almost every one of his shots went further than the cones, but he only hit a few balls that actually cleared the walls and went out of the park.  Here I should note that it was a humid evening and the ball was just not travelling well.  Jose won the contest, but he was upset that he didn’t show off his power, and man oh man does he have power.  I was only 50 feet away from him, and he looked more like the dinosaur in centerfield than he looked like the other participants.  He was Huge.  I don’t think that he is still doing steroids, but he obviously spends more time in the gym than the library.  So, when the contest was over, he still wanted to hit.  Naturally, they let him.  He just kept hitting until he had whacked enough balls into the stratosphere to make himself happy.

Jose Canseco

They also had the local Women’s Roller Derby stars from the Dutchland Rollers skating around the stadium and I got a picture with my favorite, Vanitti.  

vanittiIMG_1904_3

So, that was a good start to my birthday celebration, but it got better.  It was $2 beer night from 6:30 until 8 o’clock.  My activity tracker showed a lot of activity that night between 6:30 and 8, as I raced back and forth from my seat to the beer concession numerous times.

Normally, you can just sit wherever you like, because the stadium is half empty (or half full if you’re an optimist) but not on that night.  In addition to Jose Canseco, and $2 beers, they also gave away complete sets of Barnstormer bubble gum cards, and there were fireworks after the game.  The weather was nice, so the stadium was jammed with the highest attendance they ever had.  Not bad for a team in last place, 10 games out of First Place.

My seat was right in the middle of the row and the family on my right never once complained about having to get up every 15 minutes while I replenished my beer supply.  They didn’t even complain when I got drunk and started messing with them.  The more beers I had the more the guy on the end of the row looked like Danny Glover.  So I kept pointing my camera phone at him asking him to repeat Danny Glover’s signature line from the Lethal Weapon movie, “I’m too old for this shit.”  I took a picture just so you can see the resemblance.  They look very upset in the picture, but that’s just because I caught them by surprise.  They were actually very friendly and nice, and never once called for Security to restrain me.

Put the camera away

 The guy immediately on my right did his absolute best to ignore me as I got drunk and started joking loudly about everything and everyone in the area.  I kept taking pictures of the giant head that was protruding from the seat right in front of me.  I had a great seat, right behind home plate, about 6 rows back, but I was right behind the largest man in Lancaster.  I kept taking pictures of the back of his head trying to make the fellow on my right laugh.  It took a while but James finally cracked up and we joked together for the rest of the ballgame.

The team is still in last place, but there are advantages to that.  They are adding more giveaways and entertainment.  Last night they had Chad the Mad, from Venice, California, who juggled 3 running chainsaws in between innings.  They also had fireworks after the game and after that the premier of a show that will be airing on Fox this Fall called “Pitch.”  The show is about the first woman player in Major League Baseball.  I really enjoyed the commercial-free premier of the show.  I also enjoyed another $2 beer night, and the Barnstormers won big, so it was a great night.

Oh, and before the game, they let the dogs out again.  Well, it was just one dog, Percy, the Frisbee catching wonder dog, who is a fan favorite and a local legend.  Woof Woof.

Go Stormers.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

 

 

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The Curse is Foiled Again

curses_foiled_again_shower_curtain

In my family we grew up knowing that no male Paulson made it to 68 years old.  Most died exactly at 67, with a few who met their demise earlier mostly due to accidents.  For this reason, my Dad retired early at 62 so that he could enjoy 5 years of retirement.  I don’t know if his early retirement made the difference, but he survived well into his 90’s.  The curse was broken – but not forgotten.  My brothers and I all felt that our Dad was the exception to the rule, and that the sword of Damocles still hung over us.

I have a few cousins who, if they’re still alive, have recently joined my Dad in the small group that survived past 67, and today I joined the club.  Today is my 68th birthday.  So, in the immortal words of Rocky Balboa, “Yo Adrian.  We did it.”  The curse is officially broken, at least as far as I’m concerned.  Will I make it to my 90’s like my Dad?  I doubt it.  I partied a lot harder than he ever did, but then again, I didn’t have the strain he had of raising three hyperactive boys, so maybe I’ve got a shot.

Today I’m going to drink a toast to the two people who provided me with the genes to make it this far.  Thanks Mom and Dad.  I also have to thank Dr. Barry Kaplan and the staff at Long Island Jewish Hospital especially Janet Hyland for the stents they placed in me back in 2009.  I have to thank Dr. Paula Schlossberg at the VA clinic in East Meadow, Dr. Loren at the VA Hospital in Manhattan, who put in another stent.  Add the good people at Southeast Lancaster Health Services, Amy Vandergrift and Kathleen Brumbach, the cardiologists at the Heart Group in Lancaster, the doctors and nurses at Lancaster General Hospital, my physical Therapists, Susan Harroun in New York and Brittany in Lancaster, Dr. Jackson at the VA clinic in Lancaster, and my cardiologist at the VA Hospital in Lebanon, PA, Dr. Shankar.  They say that it takes a village to raise a child.  In my case it took a slew of doctors, nurses, and therapists to get that child to a ripe old age.

Thanks to all for getting me here.  Cheers!

Now, I’m counting on my siblings, Brother X and Kevin, to break the curse too.  As the Vulcan’s say, “Live long and prosper.”

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

Letting My Freak Flag Fly

Bret HartEarl The Hitman HartDoc BrownGeiko Caveman20160812_171157

 

I just finished rereading a short story that was written by William Goldman many years ago.  It was called DaVinci, and it was about a cranky old barber, who wasn’t good at making friends but who gave the best haircuts ever.  The man was an artist, and all he really cared about was the craft of cutting hair.  The problem was that he was such a perfectionist that it took him over an hour to give a haircut.

Last year I was sitting in the barber’s chair at the local barber school and one of the pupils was doing his best to give me my $3 worth.  He clipped away for almost an hour, probably only cutting one or two strands of hair at a clip.  We got to talking and he told me that he was fresh out of prison and that he was determined never to go back.  So, he immersed himself in the craft of haircutting, and hoped that it would be his salvation.  He explained some of the things he learned in barber school and one of those things was that dandruff is plaque.  He explained this as he broke the news to me that I had dandruff.  He was as serious as a doctor telling me that I had a deadly disease, and only had weeks to live.

I told him that I knew I had dandruff, since I had it all my life.  He asked me what I was doing about it.  I told him that I used Head N Shoulders shampoo, but it obviously didn’t seem to help very much.  That’s when he told me about dandruff being plaque, and suggested that before showering I should pour a capful of Listerine on my hair and let it sit for 30 seconds before rinsing it off.

His sincerity impressed me and I decided to try it.  To my astonishment it worked.  I also noticed that I was now losing less hair.  I’ve always had short hair, partly because it was easier to manage, but mostly because my hair just wouldn’t grow long.  It fell out long before it grew too long.

Now, the way my hair was growing, I was curious to see how long it could get before I started to shed again.  I haven’t had my hair cut in a year now, and I think it looks great, as long as it’s still wet.  It kind of looks like the hairstyle made famous by the wrestler Bret “The Hitman” Hart.  When it dries out, though, I look more like a cross between The Geiko Caveman and Doc Brown after he got struck by lightning in the clock tower trying to jump start the Flux Capacitor.

No matter what, good hair day or bad hair day, I’m enjoying my hairy experiment and letting my freak flag fly.  Plus, I love going outside in the rain without a hat and getting my hair wet.  I only have one regret.  I just hope that young barber-in-training, who gave me the good advice, wasn’t counting on my monthly contributions of $3 to keep him in business and out of jail.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl

 

Happy LANniversary to Me

“Washington is not a place to live in.  The rents are high, the food is bad, the dust is disgusting and the morals are deplorable.  Go West, young man, go West and grow up with the country.”

Horace Greeley, 1865

Back in 1865, when Horace Greeley wrote about going West, he was talking about Pennsylvania.   Three years ago today I traveled west and got off the Amtrak train in Lancaster, Pa.  I checked into a motel on the outskirts of town and started my apartment search the following day.  I didn’t find a place until October, but, when I did, I found a place right in the heart of town that was perfect for me.  Everything was close-by and I had a Senior Citizens Free Bus pass that could take me anyplace that wasn’t within walking distance.

In the past 3 years I enjoyed dozens of baseball games.  I even took batting practice with the team and threw out the honorary first pitch once.

I went to about a dozen plays at local venues.  I even took an acting class at the Fulton Theatre.

I’ve enjoyed quite a few pints of local brews on local barstools.

And recently I completed two Excel courses at the local library.  So, my education continues, too…LOL.

Since moving here, I found out that Lancaster has a woman’s Roller Derby team.  Even New York doesn’t have a Roller Derby team of its own anymore.  The Flat-track version of Roller Derby is dull compared to the exciting matches of the San Francisco Bay Bombers vs The New York Chiefs, back in the day, but watching 12 athletic women skate merrily along, is still good for the old ticker.

Best of all, I lost weight here, 25 lbs.  It hasn’t been gradual.  Most of the weight loss came in the last few months, after I completed a deluxe sweater and linen cabinet I designed out of empty 5-liter wine boxes.  Who knew that drinking a few liters of wine a day was the reason I wasn’t losing weight before?  I thought it was part of the much ballyhooed Mediterranean Diet.  Oh well, live and learn.

For the last 25 years or so in New York, my New Year’s resolution had been to lose weight.  It never worked, so I switched resolutions when I got here.  Now, I just wish for every year to be even more fun than the one before it.  That’s been working out pretty well.  I’m having fun and now losing weight.  It’s been a good 3 years here in Lancaster and I look forward to making the next 3 years even better.

Peace & Love, and all of the above,

Earl