RIP App

It’s not for everyone—although it applies to everybody.

For those who think mortality is an abstraction as they go about their here-and-now priorities, here’s an app for, well, context. It’s called “We Croak,” and it’s available for 99 cents via Apple I-Tunes. Five times daily it delivers a philosophical quote to live by, so to speak. It also includes some daily “You’re Going To Die” reminders to get on with it.

R(ead) I(n) P(eace).

Still Hope For Communications Self-Help

If you’re more than miffed at Facebook and feel you’ve been Suckerberged–or if you’re just tired of gratuitous, grammatically-challenged emails, here’s a suggestion: Write a letter.

Drop a line, even if it gobsmacks the recipient, to a parent or a spouse or an offspring or a sibling or an old friend or a valued cohort or a nice neighbor. Imagine the impact. You cared enough to do this! Even if it’s postmarked from this really cool place you’re visiting! This is personal, not a post “personally” shared with lots of others.

You’re connecting at a visceral, not just a technological level. And nobody’s getting monetized.

Written communication, once an art and now an artifact, requires more thought than online keystroking. Make a mistake, think of a better word, you have to cross it out. Looks untidy. Or start over. So you think prior to–and while–writing. This is you at your most-thoughtful, articulate best. Remember, you still have that side. Share it.

You could start by upping your game with greeting cards. Don’t be satisfied with E-greetings or Hallmarked sentiments with your signature. Caring enough to buy a card at CVS isn’t caring enough.

And imagine the impact. Missives radiate: “I cared enough to actually write you. You matter that much.” It can also be an emotionally positive, cathartic experience for the writer. You’re tapping you–not a keyboard.

So, write a letter. Hell, maybe you’ll get one back. Maybe it’ll catch on. Maybe the Postal Service can be less reliant on Amazon. Scenarios abound.

Here’s another suggestion, although it probably doesn’t apply to this publication’s readers. You already have an admirable, old-school print habit. Bless you. Subscribe to a newspaper. A real one.

If it editorially leans left or right, no matter. It’s labeled as such. And nobody needs a self-validating news cocoon.

This is not just to help an industry that looks, alas, increasingly anachronistic. But to help a democracy that looks, alas, increasingly vulnerable. From Russian bots to alt-Reich Breitbart.

We know how we got here.

Fitness Fashion

Among the places where an older white guy can feel like an alien in pop culture (in-theater, movie trailers are a given) is, of all places, the gym. Or what we used to call a gym. In my case, it’s LA/Fitness, which bought out a place I use to work out at. Sometimes I feel like the only person without tattoos. Or guy leotards. Or a man bun. Or not wired up. Or not wearing a baseball cap backwards. And this just in: The room where I do my stretching is not always available because of classes–from yoga to Pilates–or staff instruction. This time it was because it was reserved–and packed to the killer abs–for a “posing seminar.” Seriously. You don’t just work out to feel good and look good–but to formally look good.

Namesmanship

I’ve always been intrigued by band names. From goofy to clever to politically incorrect to that thin, we-know-it-when-we-see-it line between way cool and too crude. Just noticed who was playing this week at Jannus Live in St. Pete. It’s the lead guitarist with Anthrax who will perform with Killswitch Engage. No, I’ve never heard of either group, but, yes, it did lead to this retrospective.

My short list of favorites for various reasons: The Rolling Stones, The Loving Spoonful, Peaches and Herb, the Sex Pistols, Hootie and the Blowfish, Led Zeppelin, Limp Bizkit, Smashing Pumpkins, Spinal Tap, Blue Oyster Cult, the Dropkick Murphys and Rage Against the Machine. Lynyrd Skynyrd makes it because it was a riff on a high school P.E. teacher named Leonard Skinner. The Dead Kennedys doesn’t make it for unconscionably obvious, disgusting reasons.

And this postscript. Back when I was a rookie, secondary English teacher in Bristol Township, Pa., I made an early mark in the Delhaas H.S. faculty lounge. My planning period coincided with those who passed part of the time with a wickedly funny, creative exercise in making up names for rock ‘n roll bands. I fit in. All too well. To wit: Napalm Sunday, Tit Offensive, Fellatio Alger and The Gaza Strippers.

Halloween Tradition

It’s now a routine Halloween inquiry. Just how old is too old to go trick or treating?

Here’s a take. It’s not so much the age as it is the spirit.

We’ve had University of Tampa students in topical costumes collecting for charities. We’ve had neighbors in costumes funnier and more creative than the ones worn by their little kids. And we’ve seen trick or treaters, sans any semblance of dress-up, who have appropriately prompted: “So, what’s your (non) ‘costume,’ young man? Classic entitled teen? Indifferent, punk-slouch Snickers panhandler? Well done. Sorry, we just ran out.”

Drink Up

A shout out to Tampa and Hillsborough County for getting pragmatically creative about using reclaimed water–highly treated wastewater–to supplement the drinking water supply. It’s done in other places. But there would be added costs, and there are skeptics.

One suggestion: Ditch the “Tampa Augmentation Project” label. Too bureaucratically boring. And by all means, avoid all “toilet-to-tap” references, which are accurate and alliterative, but a bit too literal and visceral. How about “Go with the Flow”?