An achy-brakey interlude

Dispatched to investigate a reported disturbance between neighbors in the wee hours of Feb. 24, deputies reached the Mauff Court address just in time to nearly run over a well-oiled man driving an ATV. He was apparently driving because he could barely walk, and deputies returned him to the alleged crime scene with some difficulty. According to the man’s wife, she and hubby had been “partying a little bit” with a neighbor and discussing country music when that volatile subject predictably led to violent discord. Her husband shoved her, prompting the gallantly lubricated neighbor to intervene, thus widening the conflict. Seeing his wife call 911, the man shoved her again and hit the trail on his trusty 4-wheeler, perhaps hoping to T-bone a police cruiser. As in any decent country western song, the unforgiving county lawmen tossed the hard-drinkin’ range-rider in the calaboose.


My Awesomeness Revealed

When used as intended, Facebook is not unlike a globe-spanning Freshman rush party.

As I remember them, barely, rush parties were noisy and chaotic affairs marked by skunky beer, sticky furniture, boorish guys, even more boorish chicks, shameless posing and transparently bogus biographical embroidery.

That’s Facebook.

In the second instance, of course, the skunky beer comes in a 12-ounce aluminum can instead of a 7-ounce plastic cup, the furniture is sticky because the garden hose isn’t long enough to reach your desk, and you can massage your curricula vitae as vigorously as you like because there’s exactly no chance your boorish online associates will catch you in an apron and hairnet serving steamed peas and carrots in the dorm cafeteria and deduce you’re not really on a full-ride lacrosse scholarship. Then again, fiction is generally more interesting than truth, and if everyone knew you actually drive an ’87 Plymouth Reliant and how you really spent last New Year’s Eve you’d have no friends at all. What makes Facebook work is that everybody’s so busy pretending to be that fascinating white-bearded rogue in the Dos Equis commercials they don’t have time to notice that everybody else is, too.

In a bold spirit of glasnost, let me take this opportunity to state, here and now, for the record and for all time, that I am not “the most interesting man in the world”, although I’d like to think that if I ever find myself in a Bangkok casino I could bench press two native beauties if I felt like it. But if I’m not James Bond, James Dean, James Joyce, Jesse James and Susan St. James all rolled into one irresistible package, it’s because I don’t have to be.

I’ve got people for that.

A few months ago I got a friend-request from Steve Knapp. I assumed, as would anyone who can still remember the Blue Screen of Death, that it was a mistake; a little glitch in the system; the World Wide Web having one at my expense. I would have ignored it all together except the idea of friending myself momentarily tickled my funny bone. Sure, I thought, I’ll play along. I extended the cold hand of online friendship to myself, and quickly found out that I wasn’t me. I was Steve Knapp of Manchester, England, England, across the Atlantic Sea.

Steve Knapp

Turns out the estimable Mr. Knapp (since we’re like brothers, I call him Steve, or Steve-O, or Dr. S, and sometimes K-Dog) has been on a mission to friend everybody in the world who shares our proud and mellifluous moniker. He’s run onto 62 of us so far, every one a titan among men, and each equipped to supply one or another of my few and minor deficiencies.



Case in point:

I don’t know anything about cars, up to and including how to safely operate one. Steve Knapp, 23, works at Shuls Express Lube and Tire in the town of Olean, NY, where he spends 40 hours a week expressively lubricating and tiring automobiles. So if Steve Knapp couldn’t grease his car with a lard cannon at 10 paces, Steve Knapp could do it in 30 minutes or your next service is free.


See where I’m going with this?

Steve Knapp

If I’ve got two bucks in my pocket, it just means that some online novelty gimcrack purveyor is about to make two bucks. After graduating from Whitefriars College in 1971, Steve Knapp has risen to become executive director of the Mawson Group, a financial services powerhouse in Melbourne, Australia. Thus, if Steve Knapp can’t handle his money, Steve Knapp can.

It’s Nature’s symmetry, I tell you.

Steve Knapp

There’s a Steve Knapp in Mannheim, Germany. Herr Knapp, 32, graduated from Geschwister-Scholl-Schule Hauptschule mit Werkrealschule Vogelstang. His favorite quotation is “das kurzeste zwischen zwei menshen is ein lacheln.” In Manchester, that means “the shortest distance between two people is a smile.” Now, Steve Knapp would never utter such a syrupy saccharine sentiment, and will now try mightily to forget he ever heard it. But Steve Knapp isn’t afraid to let his love light shine.

A warm people, are the Germans.

On a related note, Stephen Knapp, a student at Edison High School in Huntington Beach, Calif., plays on the JV baseball team, says “i no a place were the grass is greener oho”, and claims fluency in English, French, German and Portuguese. Where Stephen Knapp has grown too cynical and indifferent to bother lying about his attainments, Stephen Knapp is willing to make the most transparently outrageous claims without apparent shame.

Steve Knapp

Here’s one for the books – Stephen Knapp of Detroit bills himself as an “Author of Books.” He’s authored 22 books at last count, all of them long-haired explorations of Hindu spiritualism, Vedic traditions, and how to achieve enlightenment in just 22 books. I consider myself more of a Reader of Books, provided the books are really movies and they don’t have any tedious subtitles, distracting dialogue, or confusing plots. What Stephen Knapp’s personal philosophy lacks in depth, insight and illumination, Stephen Knapp’s amply supplies by sheer volume.

Make that volumes.

It’s true. Steve Knapp isn’t a professor of astronomy in New Hampshire. He doesn’t spend weekends flat-boating on Lake Ponchartrain. He doesn’t run his own electronics company, or go to Romania twice a year, or guide raft trips out of Talkeetna, AK, or paint imaginative (and oddly masculine) female watercolor portraits.

Maybe Steve Knapp isn’t the most interesting man in the world.

But Steve Knapp is.

Dixie chick hen-pecks local bird

Just after breakfast, a mysterious female phoned a local woman for information regarding the current whereabouts of an apparently mutual acquaintance to be herewith designated “Waldo.”  When the caller refused to identify herself, the woman suggested she lose her phone number and hanged up. A short time later, a male friend called and immediately handed his phone over to the aforementioned mysterious female, who again demanded to know where Waldo was. Again denied, the surly stranger growled “you better watch your pretty little boy, and you better watch your (caboose).” Alarmed, the hassled lass alerted sheriff’s deputies, who contacted her male friend, who cravenly denied knowledge of the threatening exchange, He did, however, admit knowing the mysterious female, and said he suspected she and her mysterious husband were gunning for Waldo with cruel intentions. Deputies eventually caught up with Mr. and Mrs. Mystery, who were visiting from Alabama, and asked how their interest in Waldo involved the complainant. Waldo owed them money, the couple explained, and may or may not have drained oil from their car. As to harassment charges, they said they’d never even met their accuser, and had certainly never spoken to her, unkindly or otherwise. Officers recommended they keep it that way.

December’s Other Holidays



Pity Sir Humphrey Gilbert.





The dashing Humphrey spent years and fortunes enriching Queen and country by pressing England’s colonization of North America in the 16th century only to have his achievements buried under the celebrity of his little brother and publicity savvy clothes horse, Sir Walter Raleigh, whose principal accomplishments were losing track of the Lost Colony of Roanoke and getting filthy rich exporting tobacco from lands Gilbert pioneered.

December’s like that.

Kind of.

From daybreak on the Feast of St. Grwst until the ball drops on New Year’s Eve, our 12th month is chock full of hard-working holidays with a lot to offer a fest-hungry nation if only they could break free from the tinseled tyranny of Christmastide. In fact, there are no end of annual observances packed onto the calendar’s last page, and yet most people still view December as little more than 31 dizzying days of carols, cookies, credit card debt and really bad TV specials followed by a hangover. It just ain’t so, though, and people with room in their hearts and datebooks for something besides a single jingle-bell Juggernaut will find within the merriest month alternative amusements aplenty.

Besides providing an opportunity to recall the many presumed contributions of St. Grwst, for example, Dec. 1 is also National Pie Day and, with a commendable eye toward dietary balance, Eat a Red Apple Day. Falling on the first Friday in December this year, the 1st was also National Salesperson Day, which service-oriented theme flowed naturally into Bartender Appreciation Day, observed on the first Saturday of the month, which one might have appropriately celebrated on Dec. 2 by raising a glass to National Rhubarb Vodka Day.

Since the United Nations has named 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development, and since December is designated as Worldwide Food Service Safety Month, value-minded folks who celebrated International Volunteer Day for Social and Economic Development on Dec. 5 could rightly claim a three-fer. Value-minded folks who like to economize on personal cleaning products may have preferred to observe Dec. 5 as the arguably more festive Bathtub Party Day.

On Dec. 6, a few dollars and a few minutes are that’s needed to celebrate both National Pawnbrokers Day and Microwave Oven Day.

Some of the thousands observing Pretend to Be a Time Traveler Day each Dec. 8 act as if they’re from the future and treat modern technologies with exaggerated disdain. Other Time Travelers spend the day making like they’re from the past and regarding even dated mechanical contrivances like electric can openers and dumb-phones as objects of reverent wonder. Many others who find dated contrivances genuinely wondrous hold the phone until Dewey Decimal System Day on Dec. 10.

If most of those self-described holidays sound decidedly unofficial, it’s because they decidedly are. Except for the very few national anniversaries so designated by Act of Congress, almost every “Day” of the year is just somebody’s pet obsession that happened to catch some small piece of the public fancy. But if no government agency exists to certify all those half-baked holidays, since Popcorn Day in 2013 the diligent men and woman of National Day Calendar have done their best to impose a veneer of rationality upon an increasingly congested yearbook. The organization currently recognizes well over a 1,000 national days, and if that seems like a lot consider that each year it receives about 10,000 requests for calendar space and typically denies all but a handful. It’s also worth noting that the growing catalog of jump-up jubilees has largely been compiled during the last 25 years and can be attributed almost entirely to the Internet’s ability to connect folks who share a common fixation. That we aren’t plagued by an endless succession of sappy celebrations that start with the words “Hug a…” can be attributed almost entirely to National Day Calendar.

If no parades hindered Centennial State traffic on Dec. 11, it could be because too many people spent National Mountain Day in their kitchens performing whatever arcane rites are expected of the faithful on National Noodle Ring Day. December 13th is enshrined on the calendar as Ice Cream and Violins Day, so named because on Dec. 13, 1903, Italo Marchiony patented a machine to mold ice cream cups, and on Dec. 13 more than a hundred years later rock violinist Ben Lee broke a world record by playing                                              his instrument at more than 14 notes per second.

Conceived and popularized in 2000 by Michigan State University art students Casey Sorrow and Eric Millikin to celebrate “all things simian,” National Monkey Day has grown into a globe-spanning holiday that shares its love equally between all non-human primates including apes, tarsiers and lemurs. Take part in National Underdog Day, Dec. 15, by rooting for the worst team in any league. Get the most out of Barbie and Barney Backlash Day on Dec. 16 by parking your kid in front of the TV and treating yourself to 24 hours free of repetitive sing-a-longs and tedious story re-telling.

Dec. 18 is Answer the Telephone Like Buddy the Elf Day. National Hard Candy Day comes but once a year on Dec. 19, and on Dec. 20 one can observe Mudd Day by telling anybody who’ll listen that Dr. Samuel Mudd, who in 1865 set the broken leg of Lincoln assassin John Wilkes Booth and was sent to prison for it, got a bum rap. Whether or not they celebrate it, most people can appreciate the motivation behind Humbug Day, Dec. 21, and scheduling Re-gifting Day on the Thursday before Christmas is simply good sense.

The twenty-second.

A whole day just for Haikus.

How did that happen?

There are 103 national days in December, a glory-starved gallery of second-string saturnalias culminating with the self-explanatory Leap Second Time Adjustment Day on Dec. 31. Many of them are silly, many others are at least half serious, few require much in the way of time, money or emotional investiment, and none of them get the respect they deserve. If you were wondering why Underdog Day falls during the same month as the year’s uncontested holiday heavyweight, just ask Sir Humphrey.

Skulking sculptor creates 4-way split

One sunny afternoon a local developer summoned sheriff’s deputies to a Hilltop Road residential construction site to investigate what could be termed anti-sculpting. Sometime during the previous 24 hours, a determined anti-artist had transformed a handsome 9-square-foot stone mega-sign welcoming passers-by to “The Observatory on Independence Mountain” into four smaller signs that, individually, convey no clear message. Although the anti-sculptor didn’t sign his work, the doleful developer suspects he may have seen his handiwork before. Other anti-acts against the planned subdivision have included strewing roofing nails along the entrance drive and depositing the site’s building permit and blueprints into the most fragrant part of a portable toilet. Officers promised a month’s-worth of increased patrols and, with luck, the destructive Degas will soon be making big rocks into little ones for the county.