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Throwback Thursday! Golfing with Ghosts

(Aug 1, 2015) “It is a talent of the soul to discover the joy in pain—-thinking of moments you long for, and knowing you’ll never have them again. The beautiful ghosts of our past haunt us, and yet we still can’t decide if the pain they caused us outweighs the tender moments when they touched our soul.” ~Shannon L. Alder

golfstinks.com

golfstinks.com

I’m golfing with ghosts, or for ghosts or both this weekend. What I am doing is returning to my hometown to spend the weekend with two of my childhood friends. We’ve known each other since we were in diapers and will still know each other when we’re in diapers again. I think that’s a pretty amazing thing. If you’ve read either of my novels, two of the Golden Boys characters in them are based on these guys. In addition to my two life long friends, I will also be seeing many friends from high school at our hometown bar and at a memorial golf tournament the following day. It will be a weekend filled with the ghosts of my past.

It is a bittersweet occasion however. We are golfing in a tournament to raise money for a scholarship fund in the name of one of our high school classmates, Sara,  who passed away far too young a two years ago.  I hope that wherever she is, she can see the goings on this weekend. I hope that she is a ghost walking among us at the bar and the golf course and, like George Bailey, seeing and hearing the lasting impact she made on those around her. I also hope she can help with my golf swing like Patrick Swayze helped Demi Moore with her pottery, because I really have not been practicing. The phrase “danger to self and others” comes to mind.

Why is ghost Patrick Swayze not wearing a shirt?

Why is ghost Patrick Swayze not wearing a shirt?

If George Bailey had Clarence as his own personal angel, Sara has had Michelle, Debbie, Theresa, Cindy, Sandy, and Sally as her escorting angels for the last three years as they have kept her memory alive in the form of the scholarship that bears her name.

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I’m not sure why, but I’m sentimental. I love to visit my past and remember. That’s what I mean when I say I’m visiting ghosts this weekend. Not only the very literal ghost of a classmate, but the ghosts of my past.  It’s almost as if I can see and hear the echoes of our younger selves. When I look at someone I knew years ago I see their younger self imposed upon the middle-aged adult I’m looking at. I instantly recall conversations and hijinks from years ago.  (Yes, I’m so old that I used the word hijinks) It’s like my memory has bookmarks and I’m just turning back to a dog-eared page.

A lot of people, therapists included, will say that you shouldn’t live in the past. I agree, we shouldn’t live there, but I don’t think it’s a bad place to visit occasionally. Sometimes the past was pretty damned good and it can remind us of parts of us, good parts, that we may have forgotten amidst the mortgages, stress, and careers that have slowly, inexorably filled our present. I’m hoping however that this weekend I’ll be haunted by ghosts and, if I’m lucky, I’ll get to dog-ear a few more pages that I can re-visit in the future.

Have a great weekend! I know I will. ~Phil

Throwback Thursday! Are You A Vapist?

mrlongdrag.com

(July 25,2015) Yaaa! Vaping’s going to save all the smokers! No more lung cancer! Vaping isn’t addictive! You know what? Some of those beliefs are true and some are not, and some are as cloudy as the exhale of an e-cig smoker.

If “smoking” an e-cigarette, or rather an e-cig/mod type device is referred to as vaping, then a person who does it must be vapist, right?  For all future discussion on the subject, that’s what we’ll call them. What they exhale is less toxic than regular lit on fire cigarettes but is no less offensive. Think about it. If a vapist inhales and then exhales the vapor, on the way out it contains tiny, airborne droplets  of their saliva, mucus, and whatever disease they may be carrying. It’s just like spitting on someone. A little known fact is that the plague of the 1300’s that wiped out half of Europe was not, as people believe, carried by rats, but by vapists. Same thing really though.

...SAID NO ONE EVER

…SAID NO ONE EVER

Am I being too harsh on vapists here? Sure, maybe, but I don’t see a huge difference between smoking and vaping. Vapists say e-cigs are safer than smoking. Great, more vapists will live longer. There goes the Darwinism/natural selection effect of regular cigarettes.

Yes, you don’t get the toxins from the combustion of burning something, but guess what? Vaping is essentially freebasing nicotine. Freebasing first became popular in the 1980’s when cocaine addicts, probably out of their minds on cocaine, wanted to find a faster way to get the cocaine to their brain. Yaaa! Now smokers can get the addictive substance absorbed faster, meaning that e-cigs are more addicting! One of the vaping articles I read said, “…when you take a hit…” Take a hit? That’s a drug term isn’t it?

weheartit.com

weheartit.com

Seriously smokers, do you really think this whole vaping thing is a health trend? With cigarettes being practically taxed through the roof and outlawed anywhere but in your own basement, the traditional cigarette market is being killed off, so someone, probably a recovering cocaine addict who still smoked, invented vaping. Now smokers are being vaped out of their money just as effectively. It’s uber-addicting and once you get started you keep coming back for more.

Lastly, I’d like to make fun of a type. A type? Yes, a type of vapist. Ponytail guy who vapes. Ugh. Ponytail guy is the worst isn’t he? Even if he’s not a vapist, ponytail guy is making some sort of statement with that hair, and it’s never good is it? Then you throw in vaping and ponytail guy trying to convince you that it’s cool, healthier than smoking and a fun hobby and well, who wants to be around that? That’s almost as annoying as the home brew guys who make their own beer and trap you at a party or bar and spend an hour telling you about different kinds of beer.

I’m sure that this post is going to make some people mad and I’m also sure there are some wonderful people who are vapists, (I think the Pope is a vapist) but it’s not my thing, and so I make fun of it. If you are a vapist, have one in your life, or just like sharing sarcasm far and wide feel free to share #ThePhilFactor by hitting the Facebook, Twitter, or re-blog button below. Have a great weekend! ~Phil

 

Throwback Thursday! The Man With The Scorpion Tattoo

(July 2, 2011) No, this is not a male version of the popular novel The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. This is much better than that. It’s my blog where I make fun of stuff. I’m pretty sure nobody had very many laughs reading that dragon tattoo book. The Man with the Scorpion Tattoo also is not a fictional character. The Man with the Scorpion Tattoo is a guy I see at my Starbuck’s almost every morning. To be fair, it’s not really my Starbucks. I am neither owner nor manager, but The Man with the Scorpion Tattoo still shows up there regularly regardless of my lack of affiliation with the place.

The Man with the Scorpion Tattoo is bald. Not old man, male pattern baldness bald, but “I shaved my head so I can look like a bad ass bald.”  The Man with the Scorpion Tattoo also has a giant scorpion tattooed on his bald head. A scorpion tattoo that is much larger than any real scorpion. The tattoo stretches from the top of his head, wrapping around the back and down to the top of the neck. Each morning I wonder, what exactly is he trying to tell the world about himself?

Evil. I think having a giant scorpion tattooed on a menacing bald head kind of screams evil. My shamrock tattoo says I’m Irish. His scorpion tattoo says evil. In fact after observing The Man with the Scorpion Tattoo daily for awhile now, I’m pretty sure he is actually Satan. Yup, the real one. Apparently, just like you and me, Satan stops for his Starbucks fix on his way to work every day. Coffee black of course. None of those frou frou girly drinks with whipped cream.  He keeps to himself and goes about his business quietly while at Starbucks, but just the same, I’m pretty sure he’s Satan. He makes small talk with the baristas so as not to arouse any suspicion. He tips, but never too much or too little. He always sits alone at the table by the window.

mug15oz-whi-z1-t-drink-coffee-hail-satan

I suppose it’s possible right? I mean, Satan has a job to do every day doesn’t he? If he didn’t show up for work each day encouraging evil, imagine all the police officers, military, and jail staff that would be out of work. Without evil our economy suffers. So like the rest of us, Satans day begins when his alarm goes off. Because he’s evil, he hits snooze. Twice. Then I imagine Satan walking his dog clad in pajama pants and a Motley Crue reunion tour t-shirt. Obviously, he doesn’t pick up the poop in a little bag because of his inherent evil nature. Unlike me,  Satan never bothers to iron his shirt for work either. Before leaving for work he grabs his bagged lunch, grumbling over the low carb kick his wife is on, and gives Mrs. Satan a little kiss and let’s her know if he’ll be home late because there’s a need for a little extra unrest in the middle east. Then he hops in the Satan mobile (you would think a red car, but he thinks that’s too flashy and goes with black. Tinted windows of course. Maybe a Mustang.) Then he stops at Starbuck’s to have his coffee and go over his schedule, all the while making a mental note that when he gets some extra time he’ll have to perpetrate some evil on that guy in the suit who stares at him every morning.

Remember the 1995 Joan Osborne song, “What if God Were One of Us?”  If God could be one of us, so could Satan. And if Satan had a name, I imagine it wouldn’t be any of those fancy biblical names like Beezlebub or Lucifer. Seriously, how much of a give away would that be? He’d be constantantly hounded by fans and papparazzi. No, I’m pretty sure that if Satan has a name it’s something like Ed. And yes Ms. Osborne, I would call him Ed to his face. I wonder if Ed has a blog…If he does, I’m pretty sure he gets more reads than I got last week because his friends go back to their Facebook page and click on the “Share” button. C’mon people, we can’t let evil win!

Top Ten Tuesday! The Top Ten Perks of Being A Zombie

Since we all will eventually be zombies I wanted to take a moment to remind everyone that it’s not all bad. In fact there are quite a few perks to being undead.

10. Zombies never pay insurance premiums: No health, no dental, no auto or home. Who isn’t frustrated by all the money you spend on insurance that you never get back? Zombies, that’s who!

9. Cardio! With all that constant, aimless wandering around zombies are in great shape.

8. Your wardrobe never goes out of style! Just wear the same outfit forever, kind of like our parents.

7. No tan lines! That’s hot, right?

6. Dating is easy: Zombie chicks don’t care if you have six pack abs. In fact, they don’t care if you have abs at all!

5. Zombies don’t worry about pageviews: I’ve never once seen a zombie blogger check his phone 10x during the day to see how many people read his blog. Zombies don’t give a crap if you read their blog. They’re cool like that.

4. When You’re Dead, Weight Loss is Easy! Got a few extra pounds? Just offer it to your friend as an appetizer. How many points is an arm worth Weight Watchers?

3. All the unprotected sex you want! Do I need to elaborate on this one?

2. No technology worries: Zombies never worry about a wi-fi signal or their phone battery.

Picture credit: www.weheartit.com

Picture credit: http://www.weheartit.com

1. The night life is phenomenal! Every night, all night raves. And now that Michael Jackson is dead he can dance with the zombies forever! What? Too soon?

Feel free to share by the Facebook, Twitter or reblog buttons below. Have a great Tuesday everyone!  ~Phil

Throwback Thursday! Just One Thing…

This story warrants a re-post because last week life and my dentist reminded me about it, again.

(Sept. 26, 2015) Many of you may not remember this scene from the 1991 movie City Slickers:

Or maybe you do. Jack Palance’s, character, Curly, tells Billy Crystal’s character that the “secret of life is just one thing.”  To which Billy Crystal replies, ‘That’s great. but what’s the one thing?”  Curly answers, “That’s what you’ve got to figure out.” This week I figured out what my one thing is.

It was the end of the school day at Cicero Elementary School. Bus number 186 was called over the P.A. system, meaning I could leave the classroom, retrieve my coat from my cubby and head outside to find my bus in line. Eight year old Phil gathered my papers and books, pushing them sloppily into an already overstuffed desk. I hurried a little extra because I was thirsty from playing outside in the sunshine during end of day recess and I wanted to get a quick slurp of refreshing water from the fountain in the hall before I left.  I rushed to my cubby outside the room, grabbed my coat and put my orange and black Baltimore Orioles Little League baseball cap on my head. It was probably a little crooked, it always was. I just didn’t have the knack of centering the brim over my face unless I was looking in a mirror. I didn’t care though. I was still at an age where I hadn’t yet learned that I should be self-conscious about how I was put together. That was something boys didn’t think too much about until they noticed girls.

I didn’t know it, but the next moment was the one that changed my life. I turned from my cubby and fought my way across the hall, dodging and weaving through other students flowing through the hallway like a swift moving river of four foot tall humanity. After successfully navigating the obstacle course I reached my destination. The hallway water fountain.

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Doesn’t that bubbling, gurgling water look refreshing? I thought so too, so much so that I leaned in for a drink a little too quickly. See that curved piece of metal above the bubbling water? I leaned over, perhaps slightly hurried and slightly distracted by the crush of students passing by and thoughts of my waiting bus, and as I did so one of my center front teeth hit that curved metal piece. Not hard, but hard enough that about one quarter of a tooth broke off cleanly and completely. One drink. One quarter of one tooth. One life changed forever.

Yes, I know it sounds insignificant, but we rarely realize the long term ripple effect of small moments when they happen. That one moment those many years ago helped me realize just how lucky I am.

On Thursday of this week, two days ago, decades after I broke that tooth, I visited the dentist because of that tooth. Complications related to that one simple moment have probably required me to have, literally, about 100 additional dental appointments over the years.  There have been countless procedures, needles, poking, prodding, and pain. Today I thought to myself that if I had one chance to turn back time and change one moment in my life, that moment when I broke my tooth might be what I’d choose.

When I started writing this I thought to myself, considering what others have endured, if my biggest problem in life has been a broken tooth that would plague me for the rest of my days, then I’ve been pretty damn lucky. Then I decided that I wouldn’t go back in time and stop stupid eight year old me from bumping my tooth, because from today going forward it will always remind me how lucky I’ve been so far. Weirdly, I think that the next time I’m in a dental chair because of this tooth, I’ll probably smile. Because of the dental work on the tooth it may never be a perfect smile, but it will be a grateful one.

So what’s your one moment? Your “one thing”? What would you change if you could? Or what life lesson did you learn from that one moment in time?

As always, if you enjoyed #ThePhilFactor, please share it by hitting the Facebook, Twitter or re-blog buttons below. Have a great weekend! ~Phil

Fun With Search Terms: The Father’s Day Edition!

When most of us were kids, Google was our dad. There was no internet or search engines. If you wanted to know something you had two choices: break open that giant set of encyclopedias that your parents bought twenty years ago or ask your dad. Dad was supposed to know everything, right? Only now that we’re parents we know that our parents didn’t know everything and were making all their answers up.

Now though, we can search the internet for answers. Unfortunately, when you ask the internet questions,  sometimes the internet keeps those questions so a blogger can make fun of them later, like now. Today. That is what I’m doing. Here are the funniest/weirdest search terms that brought readers to #ThePhilFactor over the last three months:

Gary Spivey on Trump Impeachment: I will take any opportunity to post a picture of Gary Spivey, Psychic Medium because I’m jealous of his fame and fortune. And hair. We have a lot in common. We have great hair and both he and I have predicted a premature end to the term of he who shall not be named. Also, I predicted I would interview Gary for The Phil Factor this year. He knows it’s going to happen.

MTV music video font: From my old days working on MTV I stole their font and have been using it.

Philthy Animal Old: I take exception to Google deciding that my blog, or me in particular, is the answer to this search term. It’s like Google is mocking me personally.

Funeral Fun: That’s right! Need entertainment for your funeral? Just call 1-800-Phil-Factor! I will emcee with humor and empathy!

“phil factor” bill gates: Yes, I’m the Bill Gates of blogging.

Phil is leaving memes: You’re damn right I’m leaving memes. I’m a meme dropping machine. And I’m sassy.

real sexting conversations to read in hindi: This goes back to a post from 2015 and since I published that, the views and this search term haven’t stopped. EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. That’s ok. You Hindi speaking people feel free to fly your freak flag at The Phil Factor anytime you want. I’m here for you.

Have a great Sunday and Happy Father’s Day to all the Dads out there! ~Phil

Music Monday! Saturday Sun by Vance Joy

I hope you brought a little bit of the weekends Saturday Sun into your week. Have a great Monday! ~Phil