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”?

Musings & More

* Ever notice the “I-love-children-but” look of anxious airline passengers as a couple with a small, crying child heads down the aisle? Have video handy.

* It still seems dated to see those double-truck, color ads for Rooms To Go that employ fetching babes in loud colors and flatter-me, spiked heels as come-hither bookends for furniture displays? These are sofas and chairs, not muscle cars and motorcycles.

* Nobody, but nobody, looks good with a nose ring.

* Among the more un-nuanced signs: “Gratuities accepted.”

* Among the best pizza ads: “90% of people prefer pizza over kale.”

More Musings

*You get to a certain point in your life, and you prefer that time would slow down, as in delaying any more ravages. Mortality, no longer the abstraction of youth, flat out beckons. We ponder; enjoy it while you have it. Right now. Savor the moment. But then comes hurricane season. Hurry the hell up and get through October.

* I love creative names for businesses. Four favorites: Edifice Wrecks, Plant Parenthood, The Sod Father, The Mattress Firm.

Odds & Ends

*There ought to be a law: No leaf-blowing before 8 a.m.

* Truth in advertising, sort of. Ever find yourself reading a label of, say, yogurt and noting how it makes a big deal of having, say, “20% fewer calories”? And then, upon opening it, seeing that there is probably 20% less content?

* When you’ve reached a certain age–and you know it when you’ve reached it–you can feel like an alien in your own culture. Like when you wince when ultra loud movie trailers–featuring the latest comic book sequel or video game hybrid–commence. Or you keep noticing the use of “awesome” to describe the mundane. Or you haven’t watched an NBA game in decades. Or you don’t get the ambient allure of flat-screen TV sports and fine dining. Or that rappers can be icons. Or even seen “Game of Thrones.”

Now add this: Try belonging to a fitness club, those workout venues formerly known as “gyms.” Try being, on a given day, the only guy without tattoos, leotards, a man-bun, shorts that aren’t short, a backwards baseball cap or a playlist that seemingly cancels the outside world.

Speaking of a certain age, nothing like unsolicited mailings from the Neptune Society or a local funeral parlor offering a free meal over burial-needs chit chat to make your day.

* If you voted for Trump, whatever the rationale, I don’t like you. I wish I felt differently. But I can’t like those I don’t respect. And I don’t respect those who helped enable Trump to do this to our country. Sorry about that.

No, I’m not.

Name Game Satire

As we know, Robert E. Lee Elementary School may be getting a new name. As we also know, we can make too big a deal out of appellation updates to reconcile history with contemporary connotations. Given that the Ybor City school often references itself as the “Lee Elementary Magnet School of World Studies and Technology” and that “Lee” is such a familiar, contextual-diverse name, why not just officially eliminate the “Robert E.” part?  Take it off the front of the Columbus Drive building and, by so doing, obviate the need of grads to have to reference that they went to a “what used to be called” school.

If the formal name is simply “Lee Elementary,” then everybody can ascribe whatever “Lee” identity they want. And not even be restricted by first, middle or surname designation.

*For example, for those still clinging to Southern heritage, it could, in effect, be “Lee Greenwood,” “Jerry Lee Lewis” or “Brenda Lee Elementary.”

* For literal old schoolers, it could be “Gypsy Rose Lee,” “Peggy Lee” or “Harper Lee Elementary.”

* For movie fans, it could be “Spike Lee,” “Bruce Lee” or “Ang Lee Elementary.”

And so on. What a rare opportunity to be all things to all people.

Humor US

* Chaos. Embarrassment. Depression. Worry. Frustration. Anger.

Have we ever needed Al Franken more than now? Imagine, a politician who’s funny on purpose. A pol who can provide a senatorial side order of ironic wit to offset the main coarsening of America. To wit: Franken’s Watergatesque take on the furor over Trump’s contacts with Russia and his assessment of one of his more controversial Senate colleagues.

<“What did the president know–and when did his son-in-law tell him?”

<“(Ted Cruz) is the guy in your office who snitches to corporate about your March Madness pool and microwaves fish in the office kitchen. He is the Dwight Schrute of the Senate.”

* Previously unknown Democrat Jon Ossoff has a good chance of winning the special congressional election in suburban Atlanta that will fill the seat vacated by Tom Price, now the HHS secretary. Fundraising has been notably creative, including a “Rock Your Ossoff Concert.”

Satirizing Trump Trip

Not surprisingly, the usual, flummoxed insiders leaked embarrassing details of Donald Trump’s initial foray into foreign travel and international statesmanship. Specifically, how he handled the art of world-leader small talk. Here are some LeakGate tidbits:

* Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.

“What a great arms partner you are. Just great. The military industrial complex loves you back home. And I just found out we have something else in common besides money. We hate the same country: Iran. Who knew? Melania told me on the way over.

“But I gotta tell ya. Everything about your country is great. That includes great ingenuity. Who else could get this out of a fan belt and table cloth? Just a joke. I figured it was casual Friday. Still joking, Sal.

“You know, I look at your women. They look great behind veils. But, you’re right, not so great behind the wheel.

“By the way, are you guys Sunnis or Shiites? It makes a difference, right?  But, off the record, Islam does hate us, right?”

* Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

“Love your shoes, Abdel. Do they come in wing tips? Nice to hang out with a Muslim who wouldn’t be offended by ‘radical Islamic extremism’ rhetoric if I were to use it. Hell, you’ve lived with those losers. But you’re a tough guy. I love tough guys. But a tough guy with a name like ‘Sissi’? Just kidding.”

* Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“It’s nice to be with an old friend again. We’re not being taped are we? Where was I? Oh, yeah, classified information is so overrated.”

* Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

“Brought you a little something, Mahmoud. Maybe you’ve already read “The Art of the Deal,” I mean who hasn’t, but this one’s autographed. Could help out when you’re dealing with Netanhayu. He can be a real nut job.

“Also wanted to run some things by you about building a wall. Of course I’m kidding.”

* Pope Francis.

“Welcome, Mr. President.”

“Thank you, Your Holiness. May I call you ‘Frank?’

“By the way, you’re getting a great Vatican ambassador in Callista Gingrich. She’ll be, uh, great. Just goes to show, you know, there’s life after an affair and annulment, right? Of course, I’m kidding.”

Compensation Context

The Tampa Bay Times ran an interesting piece that listed the annual earnings of the Tampa Bay area’s top executives. Quite the private-and public-sector disparity. Included were Joe Lopano, TIA’s CEO, at $393,824 and Paul Anderson, CEO of Port Tampa Bay, at $382,287. That’s a lot less than what, say, Mark Mondello, the Jabil CEO, got ($10.5 million) or what Raymond James Financial CEO Paul Reilly made ($8.2 million).

And, BTW, it was also less than the Major League Baseball minimum ($535,000). Capitalism can be so quirky.