Do You Have Unanswered Questions About Halloween?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

I was trying to clear the cobwebs from my mind, and all I could find was random thoughts about Halloween (a.k.a. Hallowe’en, a.k.a. Allhalloween, a.k.a. All Hallow’s Eve, a.k.a. All Saints’ Eve, a.k.a. the Holiday That Is Bankrupting the Federal Witness Protection Program).

My son and I recently lamented that there are only a handful of well-known Halloween-appropriate songs, and they’re played to death. (What I’d give if Queen had taken the time to record “We will…we will…EMBALM you!” Or if the Bee Gees had recorded “How Deep Is Your Grave?”) Beyond “Thriller” and “Monster Mash,” a lot of what we’re subjected to at Halloween is just SOUND EFFECTS (clanking chains, etc.). That would never fly at Christmas – unless you think there’s a market for “Sounds of Rudolph leaving a ‘package’” or “The Elf on the Shelf scoots onto a splinter.”

Speaking of music, one of my sources claims Halloween is responsible for 25 percent of the revived sales of vinyl records. (“Sure, toss a vinyl record in the bag, pops. It’ll taste better than that candy corn you gave out last year.”)

Did you ever suspect that the Grim Reaper would be a little less grim if those robes were SWEAT-WICKING, and if he modernized his scythe to something more mechanical? Reaper, ever hear of an American inventor named Cyrus McCormick? Of course, you did; you mowed him down in 1884. Never mind.

Are you guilty of asking trick-or-treaters inane, clueless questions while dispensing candy? You know, questions such as “And who are YOU supposed to be?” Don’t be surprised if one of the little cherubs comes back with a response of “I’m SUPPOSED to be the third and last child in my family, but Mom and Dad had too much to drink at last year’s Halloween party, so…Got any more nosey questions?”

Granted, some homeowners are a little too kid-savvy to put up with any guff. (“We gave our grandkids a $400 toy submarine for Christmas last year and they played with the BOX. So, here’s a Snickers wrapper. Knock yourself out.”)

Do you think ghosts ever regret not leaving more explicit instructions about the quality of their burial shrouds? (“I wouldn’t be caught dead in anything less than a 250-thread-count sheet. Except I HAVE been caught dead in this bargain-store knockoff!”)

Wouldn’t you love to see a witch simply fly like George Reeves as Superman? (“The poisoned apple didn’t kill her! Quick – let’s THROW one at her!”) I’ve seen cartoons of witches riding a vacuum cleaner instead of a broom, but why do they have to ride ANY sort of cleaning apparatus? I usually expect a witch to be taking names and kicking derrieres when she gets to her destination – not sweeping up dust bunnies and scurrying to set down a drink coaster for guests. (“Lost track of the futures market on gingerbread? There’s an incantation for that!”)

Everyone is on edge about accusations of cultural appropriation when selecting Halloween costumes. DOUBLE DOWN, I say. Dress as the whole United Nations General Assembly. (“I’d love to take that toilet paper out of your trees and clean the eggs off your vinyl siding, but I’ve got diplomatic immunity!”)

Political correctness? You can’t even make fun of Dr. Frankenstein now. (“You’re a MAD SCIENCE denier!”)

Coming soon: why didn’t Foreigner record “I Want to Know What Fruitcake Is”?

Copyright 2020 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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What Shall We Say About 50 Years of Home Ownership?

[cartoon id=”241746″]

Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

This is a year of double milestones: my mother’s house turns 75 and (as of October 30) she will have been living there for 50 years.

She grew up as part of an itinerant sharecropping family during the Great Depression, so I’m glad she has enjoyed all these decades of stability. (I lived in the house from age 10 to age 31.)

One of Mom’s friends dubbed the property “El Rancho Rocky” because of the ample supply of limestone, but the Tyree family pulled together to make something of the place. (Mom was 91 when she finally gave up mowing the five-acre yard for herself.)

Much has changed about the Tyree property and the neighborhood, but many landmarks remain relatively unchanged.

For instance, the Osage orange (French bois d’arc) trees that litter the ground with hedgeapples. And the massive hackberry tree in the front yard. My father suffered his fatal heart attack while sitting beneath it, but Mom prefers to reminisce about the time I sassed her as a teen. She wearied of chasing me around and around the tree trying to discipline me, so she “cut the Gordian knot” by reaching through the tree fork and grabbing me!

The “old O’Neal house” was built sturdily enough of brick and hardwood; but it has had numerous close calls, such as the April 1974 tornado that swept through the front yard, throwing the rail fence into the road and wrapping the tin roofs of outbuildings around utility poles.

Then there was the lightning bolt that struck right outside the garage door mere seconds after my brother put up his motorcycle.

Indoors, someone was standing in the right spot at the right time to catch the dining room chandelier that had been shaken loose by the horseplay of Dad’s Webelos Scout den upstairs.

Let’s not forget the grass fire I ignited while playing with matches. (On second thought, let’s DO forget that visit by the fire department.)

Only three automobile wrecks have occurred in front of the house, but countless dogs and cats have been “clobbered” (to use Dad’s terminology) by speeding motorists. Dear old Turf the ginger tomcat was laid to rest near the northwest corner of the house more than 30 years ago.

Mom has a TV, cellphone and microwave oven; but she takes perverse pride in not letting her domicile be invaded by a dishwasher, clothes dryer, internet, cable TV or satellite dish.

I have so many memories of that place: standing in the yard squinting at the disappointing smudge that was the 1986 appearance of Halley’s Comet; listening to “Gospel Time” on the radio in the former breakfast nook; watching a neighbor lady chase her husband through their yard with a butcher knife. (“Woman killer!” he was shrieking. “Killer woman” would probably have been more accurate, but artistic license and marriage license make a good two-fer.)

Oh, to have a time-lapse video of all the changes the neighborhood has gone through in five decades! Alas, the comings and goings have become a blur.

I hope my mother spends many more good years in that house. And I hope each of you will stop and smell the roses (the metaphorical roses – not hers!) and leave a record of the friends, pets and events that distinguish the little slice of the world that YOU call home.

Copyright 2020 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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Do You Dread Opening Your Car Trunk?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

My electronic key fob is putting more mileage on ME than on the car.

For the past several months, I have tried to build up the nerve to do a thorough search of the contents of my trunk. I am hoping against hope that an overly sensitive trunk-release button on the fob HASN’T left several of my childhood keepsakes strewn along the roadside.

Granted, a neighborhood raccoon has already done a PARTIAL job of searching through the trunk (kindly forcing me to scoop up scattered belongings from the driveway before I could hurry off to work) when the trunk stayed open all night because of a stray signal from inside the house. (Yes, my life is a suspense movie. “The stray signal is coming from inside the house!”)

I keep second-guessing myself, worried that I’ve shut up a curious cat in the trunk or that the mere act of my plopping down behind the steering wheel has prepped me for a madcap adventure of leaving a trail of litter. (“Happy trails to you…until …you get… a ticket!”)

Sometimes I’ll miraculously go for a few days without a hint of trouble from the trunk (or the car BURGLAR ALARM – nothing relaxes you like finally crashing on the sofa to watch TV and having the honking car compete not only with the commercials but also with a robocall reminding you about the EXTENDED WARRANTY ON YOUR KEY FOB), but then it makes up for lost time. I have “butt-dialed,” “nipple-dialed,” “thigh-dialed” and apparently a few internal vestigial organs have volunteered to get in on the action.

Mind you, I’m not soliciting advice about workarounds and fixes. I am taking under advisement all the stuff I’ve read about reprogramming and expensive fob holders and all that. Right now, I just want to VENT.

HAIR-TRIGGER trunk, alarm, lock and unlock buttons on a key fob are ingenious solutions to problems that never really existed. Who needs a trunk to pop open that easily unless they’re on a tight schedule to deliver an underworld informant to a cement-overshoes ceremony? If you really want to scare away muggers in a darkened parking lot, why not have an illuminated bumper sticker that says, “My Honor Roll student is selling band candy and will track you down via facial recognition software”?

Until I settle on a better solution, when I remember, I separate my keys from my pants as soon as I get home. “Keep your friends close, your enemies closer and your car keys where someone will spill pancake syrup on them.”

The key fobs are supposed to be a CONVENIENCE, but separating them from your pockets mostly means a lot of return trips to the house. They’re convenient only in terms of keeping Dr. Seuss fresh on your mind. (“Did I leave it on the table, or by that print of Betty Grable? Did I hang it on the fridge? Won’t you &^%$#@ help me, just a smidge?”)

I’d like to dim my headlights and catch the key-fob engineers in a dark alley. They didn’t put much thought into what all could go wrong. What ELSE have they not taken into consideration about vehicles?

(“Nah, nobody would ever turn onto a street named after a TREE. So, there’s only a miniscule chance that the ejector seat would ever be activated…”)

Copyright 2020 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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So This Is John Lennon’s 80th Birthday (And What Have You Done?)

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

Ironically enough, I did not sleep PEACEFULLY last night, because I was concerned about taking the wrong tone with this column about the iconic singer/songwriter/musician and anti-war activist who wrote “Give Peace A Chance.”

Friday, October 9 marks the 80th anniversary of the birth of John Lennon (who was murdered by a deranged fan on December 8, 1980 at age 40).

In honor of Lennon’s outspokenness, I hesitated about writing a fawning Beatles-fan puff piece; but neither did I want to lay too much criticism on a fellow fallible human being who isn’t here to defend himself.

Then I got the idea of thinking of Lennon as a Facebook friend.

Facebook allows you to experience the touchy-feely side of people you may know only casually. Likewise, the home movies in the video for Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy” (from the “Double Fantasy” album) genuinely tug at the heartstrings.

Various Facebook memes let you see your friends in a different light (“What would your pirate name be?” and the like). I got choked up seeing actor Robert Carlyle’s cameo as a 78-year-old unassuming, non-celebrity Lennon in the 2019 fantasy movie “Yesterday.”

Facebook shows you how your friends strive to grow and reinvent themselves. The Beatles COULD have hung on as a nostalgia act for decades, playing their “Ed Sullivan Show”-era hits at local dances and Rotary Club fundraisers; but (both before and after the breakup), Lennon thrived on innovation, experimentation and avant-garde aspirations, creating a deeper bond with the listeners and society.

With Facebook, you get treated to previously unseen “glory days” snapshots of your friends. On a recent weekend, my wife, our son and I FINALLY got to watch and enjoy the zany 1965 Beatles movie “Help!”

If you’re like me, you sometimes click “Like” without really scrutinizing all those vacation albums and kindergarten graduation albums that your friends inundate you with; but every now and then, you have the luxury of time. Lennon left a discography containing much more than commercial hits such as “Power to the People” and “Instant Karma” and I hope I live long enough to explore it.

And, of course, SOMETIMES your friends – no matter how witty, talented and lovable they are – espouse political beliefs so wrongheaded that they convince you they were repeatedly dropped on their heads as youngsters.

Yes, I’m thinking about “Imagine” (which some people would like to see replace the National Anthem). Although Lennon softened his interpretation of the message over the years, he was initially proud of having applied enough sugar-coating to lure unsuspecting millions into embracing an anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-capitalistic philosophy.

As with Facebook, I’m tempted to cope by rolling my eyes, agreeing to disagree and scrolling down to something less exasperating.

But seriously – don’t just sway and chant. THINK about the implications of the lyrics. They’re not just naïve or impractical or misguided; they’re all those things ON STEROIDS.

Imagine there’s no heaven? As if primordial ooze produced a genius such as Lennon? As if DREAMERS should relish the “fact” that all great musicians just CEASE TO EXIST?

No possessions? Um, stereos are possessions, dude.

Living for today?

Yes, I’ll live for today. I’ll ALSO cherish my MEMORIES and plan for a FUTURE in which I employ a wide range of emojis to keep new generations aware of John Winston Lennon – warts and all.

Copyright 2020 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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Are College Entrance Exams A Dying Breed?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

My son Gideon has now finished both his ACT and SAT college entrance exams (scoring at an impressive percentile somewhere between “It’s …it’s…go ask my wife” and “Never you MIND what his father’s score was”), but I wonder if the tests will still be relevant when HIS hypothetical kids reach college age.

Hundreds of colleges dropped mandatory test scores this year because of COVID-19 disruptions, but standardized tests were already falling out of favor with admissions officers long before the virus arrived. According to the Wall Street Journal, more than 60 percent of four-year schools in the U.S. have made test scores optional – giving more weight to GPA, extracurricular activities, teacher recommendations (“I really envy the professors who will have Jasmine in class – but not envy in the stalker-ish way…probably”) and socioeconomic adversity.

This derails a nearly century-long tradition of standardized tests being the gold standard for gaining entrance to your dream school. The SAT launched in 1926, when Prohibition-era hooch was potent enough to make those raccoon-skin coats look cool. Even the late-to-the-party ACT started the year before I was born! I’m surprised that in 2020 the first multiple-choice question isn’t “What is the best way to ace this test, kids? (a) get off my lawn; (b) turn down that music; (c) pull your pants up; or (d) all of the above?”

Multiple factors have chipped away at the dependence on standardized tests. Reformers point out that the modern emphasis on coaching for tests distorts two years of a student’s life. Yes, we took the tests seriously when I was a student, but there was considerably less pressure – partly because we weren’t inundated with today’s RESOURCES. (“We have some lovely study guides for you, but first, the shop class will have to extricate Mrs. Swanson from the mimeograph machine. Dynomite!”)

Nowadays, it’s Stress City. Instead of just bugging the cafeteria lady, college-bound students make a concerted effort to determine the rank of mystery meat on the periodic table. No matter how short the skirts, the main emphasis of pep rallies is calculating the angles of the human pyramid. Public displays of affection are now less about tonsil hockey and more about clutching the thesaurus. (“My precious! My precious!”)

Skeptics have long derided standardized tests for favoring nerds who are only good at regurgitating information. Speaking as a nerd who is only good at regurgitating information, “Here’s some information: I’m rubber and you’re glue…”
Level-playing-field proponents point out that affluent school districts have an unfair advantage at placing students in prestigious universities. And wealthy parents display a tendency to game the system by hiring tutors, paying someone else to take the test, bribing proctors or getting Newton’s hard-to-remember laws of physics changed. (“Hey, if you’ve got more MONEY than God, you might as well try playing God.”)

The College Board, which administers the SAT, insists standardized tests are still the best predictor of success in college. (The SECOND-BEST predictor of buckling down and succeeding in class is whether you can study the Reconstruction period and the Klan without shouting, “Toga! Toga! Toga!”)

I hope mollycoddling mania doesn’t cause problems if any of my hypothetical grandchildren become optometrists.
“Better or worse? Better or worse? Can’t you give me more time, doc? And can’t you diagnose astigmatism by perusing a narrative about my life experiences???”

Copyright 2020 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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Come On, Get Happy: The Partridge Family At 50

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

Realizing that September 25 marks the 50th anniversary of the premiere of “The Partridge Family,” I am reminded that time moves more swiftly than a 45 RPM turntable.

It seems like only yesterday that I was a fifth-grader and my mother was teasing me because 10-year-old Danny Partridge (played by Danny Bonaduce) was in love.

In the blink of an eye, it’s 2020 and I feel compelled to sing, “I woke up in Depends this morning/ I woke up in Depends this morning/ Went to sleep with Hot Wheels on my mind…”

So much water has gone under the bridge, I honestly can’t remember if I had a crush on Susan Dey as Laurie Partridge; but when I later watched Dey as deputy district attorney Grace Van Owen on “L.A. Law,” I kept thinking some defendant would growl, “I’m pleading the fifth – unless you put on your Laurie braces! Rrrroooww!”

Unless you were alive back then, it’s hard to explain the mass hysteria that greeted songs such as “I Think I Love You” and “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted?” (“Speak for yourself,” interjects Bruno the local mechanic. “I IDENTIFY as an 11-year-old girl from 1970.” Uh, good to know. I hope you’ll be using a wrench instead of a Kenner Easy Bake Oven on my car next time, Bruno.)

When I commemorate the anniversaries of cultural milestones, I often fall back on the cliché of yearning for “simpler times.” But even comfortably nestled between “Nanny and the Professor” and “That Girl” on ABC’s Friday night schedule, “The Partridge Family” was just a brief respite in tumultuous times. It was a world where teenage girls could vie to “Win a date with David Cassidy” while their older brothers could just as easily “Win a date at the Hanoi Hilton.”

The ”simpler times” theme also got tested when – half-way through the show’s run – David Cassidy wearied of his squeaky-clean image and posed nude for the cover of the May 1972 “Rolling Stone” magazine. (I cannot verify rumors that Cassidy first tried posing for Norman Rockwell, who ran away screaming, “Noooo…it’s like that ‘Saturday Evening Post’ session with the G.I. model peeling off his undergarments while peeling potatoes with his mother, all over again! I quit!”)

Musical snobs looked down on the show because the actors only pretended to play musical instruments and only matriarch Shirley Partridge (Shirley Jones) and oldest son Keith (Cassidy) actually sang on the show or the soundtrack albums.

Of course, those critics are the same purists who would probably have BLED OUT while confusing actor Robert Young with character Marcus Welby, M.D. (“Come on – you can fix this protruding femur AND my broken marriage before the first commercial!”)

I am tickled that our local radio station (WJJM in Lewisburg, Tennessee) isn’t embarrassed to showcase upbeat oldies acts such as The Partridge Family and The Jackson 5. Most “classic rock” stations don’t say “Come on, get happy.” They say, “Come on, relive that phase when you had a dead-end job and the Mayo Clinic named STDs after you.”

Whoa… “Nanny and the Professor”! Now I remember my Juliet Mills crush! Oops… I think I laid a big Partridge Family opening credits EGG!

I wish I had Partridge manager Reuben Kincaid patching up things with my wife.

Honey, I think I love…sleeping on the couch. *Sigh*

Copyright 2020 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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Who Can Turn the World on With Her Anniversary?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

What were you doing the night of Saturday, March 19, 1977?

Like 21.2 million other Americans, I was watching the final episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show.” Watching it and making a nerdy audio recording of it for posterity. Sure, I didn’t anticipate the cassette keepsake having such an eardrum-assaulting HUM on it, but at least I felt like I was a part of something historic. And maybe I should use the tape’s hum even today to drown myself out when I spontaneously start singing, “It’s a long way to Tipperary, it’s a long way to go…”

But I’m getting ahead of myself. The 50th anniversary of the premiere of the show is coming up on September 19. Even though the late Moore was already famous for playing Laura Petrie on “The Dick Van Dyke Show,” who could have guessed when she bumped “Petticoat Junction” from the CBS Saturday night schedule that her eponymous sitcom would last for seven seasons, spawn three spinoffs, provide a template for future workplace comedies, garner 29 Emmy Awards and make a sex symbol out of Ed Asner? (Okay, four of five ain’t bad.)

Moore’s character (liberated thirtysomething Mary Richards) dated – but she was an inspiration to countless girls and young women who chose to focus on their careers and self-actualization rather than settling down with the first Prince Charming who would “rescue” them. After umpteen dateless nights in high school and college, I was starting to think that not only Mary Richards but also Jane Jetson, Ethel Mertz, Phyllis Diller, Morticia Addams and Miss Nancy on “Romper Room” were inspiring girls to make me a low priority. (“As soon as I’ve made a million dollars in my career watching paint dry, maybe you can take me out.”)

I don’t know that I was fully conscious of the influence at the time, but in retrospect, I’m sure the gang in the fictional WJM TV newsroom had an impact on my majoring in broadcast journalism in college. (Of course, that was only after I couldn’t find a university with a doctorate program in “Movin’ on up to the east side, to a deluxe apartment in the sky…”)

The writing on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” was smart, sophisticated and socially relevant. And it’s a blessing that we have reruns preserved in amber on Hulu, so we don’t have to harbor pointless dreams of a remake. Do we really need to hear “The F-word’s all around, no need to waste it” or see a jubilant Mary toss a Molotov cocktail instead of her tam into the air? Would we want Chuckles the Clown coming back to life and writing a bestseller about his visit to heaven? (“A little song, a little dance, a little seltzer down your…er, gown.”)

Highly promoted series finales have become standard now. But when “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” ended, it joined “The Fugitive” as one of the few shows that offered closure to loyal viewers. All those shows featuring castaways, genies, nose-twitching witches, Martian uncles and caped crusaders just ended unceremoniously. Of course, maybe that’s a blessing. (“Wiiiillllbuuuurrr – Soylent Green is horses!”)

Thank you for reading this far in my ramblings. You’re gonna make it after all…oh no! The dreaded last-paragraph drift to the crossword puzzle!

I hope there’s no clue for “pluck, spirit, mettle.” I HATE spunk!

Copyright 2020 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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Inspirational Quotes: Are You For Them or Against Them?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

One of the highlights of my 93-year-old mother’s week is when she receives an inspirational essay from a church lady (hi, Regina!) who maintains a mailing list for Special People.

Yes, the world is flooded with anxieties, conflicts and doubts. Many of us NEED someone hitting us over the head with a metaphorical two-by-four on a weekly/daily/hourly basis – refocusing our thoughts on truisms about perseverance, forgiveness, friendship, self-worth and happiness. (And about counting to 10 when some insufferable busybody bugs us concerning whether the metaphorical two-by-four comes from a metaphorical SUSTAINABLE FOREST.)

When I was growing up, we basically had “Keep on truckin’” and “Today is the first day of the rest of your life – start it right with Total”; but now there is a seemingly inexhaustible supply of books, calendars, refrigerator magnets, posters, jewelry, coffee mugs, apps, etc. to promote a positive attitude. If he were alive today, I’m sure Winston Churchill would reassure us, “When your heart is weighed down with despair…when you’re DOWN IN THE DUMPS…gather up some of those discarded calendars, refrigerator magnets, etc. and see how long it takes them to give the NEXT schmuck Type-2 diabetes.”

Six years ago, one of my business associates encouraged me to become a motivational speaker. Because of family commitments, some since-resolved health issues and a detour waiting breathlessly for each new day of the Klingon inspirational calendar (“Today is a good day to die. And TODAY is another good day to die..”), I haven’t taken that route yet. But I am putting the finishing touches on a motivational/inspirational book for publication in November. (Details to follow.)

I’m keeping both eyes on the deadline. It’s harder than it looks to write gems such as “You can’t motivate other people until you first master motivating…master motivating… y’know, if they would hurry up and detonate dynamite at the quarry again, maybe that bag of Cheetos would vibrate over toward me…”

Inspirational quotes can be stressful when they are (superficially, at least) in conflict with one another. My guiding maxim is poet Robert Browning’s “A man’s reach should always exceed his grasp or what’s a heaven for?” It takes some fancy footwork to mesh that with Saint Paul’s “Godliness with contentment is great gain.” (Sudden-death overtime tiebreaker: so, Robert, got a spare BASILICA on you?)

I’ll admit that I would derive more benefit from inspirational quotes if I didn’t insist on OVERTHINKING them.

Take for example, when I read Leo Tolstoy’s advice “Happiness consists of living each day as if it were the first day of your honeymoon and the last day of your vacation.” Just imagine: a “Groundhog Day” existence where you’re constantly shifting between “Hurry up and give me that room key or I’m LEAVING the car parked right here in your lobby!” and “We’re not going back 350 miles for that teddy bear! Not when I…uh, had him CLONED for your birthday.” High jinks and productivity ensue.

Let’s not forget Buddha’s “Learn to let go. That is the key to happiness.” Yeah, and the key to falling from the gym rope and getting out of P.E. class for the rest of the year.

Whether you prefer Zig Ziglar, Albert Einstein, Mark Twain or “Unknown,” keep thinking those good thoughts.

As for my book, whatever doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger in resisting the sequel. *Sigh*

Copyright 2020 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at tyreetyrade[email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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Will You Be Laboring on Labor Day?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

For most of us, Labor Day will be an occasion for relaxation and contemplation.

(And MORAL DILEMMAS, because our contemplation will be complicated by the fact that the little cartoon angel on our right shoulder and the little cartoon devil on our left shoulder aren’t allowed within six feet of each other.)

For others, even in the time of pandemic, it will be “just another manic Monday.”

My afterschool job required me to work EVERY holiday, so my sincerest empathy goes out to those truck drivers, retail clerks, restaurant employees, medical personnel, utility workers, newspaper staffers and others who will be keeping their noses to the grindstone on September 7.

Sure, some of you appreciate the extra pay; but don’t be so modest. Truly, you folks are the glue that holds this country together, which is ironic, since most of the people who actually MAKE glue will be at home flipping burgers or snoozing in the hammock.

Take solace in the recognition that you’re ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEES – even if management has decided that what is essential for society’s survival is someone to referee a round of “Maybe you snatched the last marked-down queen-size mattress, but I’m snatching you bald-headed on Black Friday, you hussy!”

After nearly two decades of working mandatory overtime, I am now hooked on my weekends and holidays. If you ever hear ME singing, “I’ve been working on the railroad all the live-long day/ I’ve been working on the railroad, JUST TO PASS THE TIME AWAY,” please put a golden spike through my noggin and tell Dinah to blow it out her…well, never mind.

I’m sure Labor Day will be more bearable for workers if the boss doesn’t pipe in TRIGGERING MUSIC, such as The Band harmonizing “Take a load off, Annie.” (“Ain’t no load coming off unless I get a new forklift and double overtime pay! Where’s the shop steward?”)

Certainly, we need to give a Labor Day shout-out to our nation’s first responders (paramedics, police officers, firefighters, that know-it-all kid who thinks he has to answer every %$#@ question, etc.).

I still haven’t made up my mind about how much glory we owe our nation’s LAST RESPONDERS. (“Sorry, we’re late. The car needed an oil change and I had three Big Gulps and Hunter finally talked me into looking at the map and…oh, he did? I’m glad it was a lovely service. So, would six months be too soon to call you up for a date?”)

Being self-employed is no guarantee of getting out of working on Labor Day. Dairy farmers in particular get no slack from the REAL bosses. (“It’s about time you showed up for our twice-daily meeting, Bubba. It would be an UDDER DISASTER if you skipped a milking. No, you don’t have to tip me for the humor. PLEASE don’t tip me!”)

I know we need a catch-all term for people who work outside of management, but maybe by next year I’ll brainstorm a less generic term than “labor.” I mean, if you tell someone “I’m going into astrophysics” or “I’m going into the clergy,” they know what you’re talking about. If you say, “I’m going into labor,” they start boiling water and calling 911 for a first responder. Especially if you’re a dude. (“I TOLD you them GMO squashes would ruin mankind’s chromosomes! But everybody listened to that little devil hovering…”)

Copyright 2020 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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Have Lawyers Become an Endangered Species?

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Tyrades! by Danny Tyree

“The first thing we do, let’s reboot all the lawyers.”

No, that’s not really how the line from Shakespeare’s “Henry VI, Part 2” goes; but it came to mind when I read a Wall Street Journal special section on artificial intelligence and encountered the article “Would You Trust A Lawyer Bot?”

According to the Journal, numerous startup tech companies are churning out apps and digital services that horn in on routine procedures typically performed by flesh-and-blood, bar-exam-passing lawyers. These tasks include generating lease agreements and nondisclosure agreements, canceling unwanted subscriptions, getting compensation from airlines and settling which rider shouted “Shotgun!” first. (On the last one, the algorithm usually places disproportionate weight on “Which one has beer money?”)

The Latin legal phrase “res ipsa loquitur (the thing speaks for itself)” has never been more apt.

(Watch out for the day when the artificial intelligence decides, “Hey, we keep using all these phrases from a DEAD LANGUAGE. Somebody must have KILLED it! Do I hear a negligence suit coming on? KA-CHING!”)

Isn’t the 21st century wild? We’re suddenly embracing companies that help “the little guy” file personal-injury lawsuits using software that has no understanding of “little guys,” “persons” or “injuries.” (“That’s a lie! I know all about injuries! Candy Crush and Angry Birds keep hogging all the random-access memory on the phone!”)

Remember back in school when you made fun of the bookworms who just regurgitated facts? Now we bow down to computer programs that … regurgitate facts. (“Yeah, it regurgitates facts, but it regurgitates them so CHEAPLY. And doesn’t narc about wedgies.”)

If the apps are going to be as eager-to-please as Siri and Alexa, you’ll have to tell all your friends to take the precaution of turning them off around you. (“I waited for you at the wrong restaurant. So, SUE me. Wow! That subpoena was fast!”)

I, for one, will miss the human touch of picking up on nuances and context. Go to an app with a complaint of “My boss gave me the SHAFT,” and you’re likely to hear the mellifluous tones of Isaac Hayes singing, “Who is the man that would risk his neck for his brother, man? Can ya dig it?”

There’s still something to be said for the benefits of living, breathing lawyers. The attorney who prepared my mother’s will was aided by the fact that he has known the family for years. In this era of the “internet of things,” I’m not sure I want my VIRTUAL lawyer knowing so much about me. (“My friend the water heater tells me you’ve been taking awfully long showers. And, oh, the stories your electric scales could – and do – tell…”)

Is society ready for automated “ambulance chasers” that can declare, “If I can just get wi-fi to connect, I’ll STOP that ambulance ahead, dead in its tracks!”?

Can you imagine the impact on history if we’d employed these apps earlier? (“Before I deliver my summation on the evils of school segregation, let’s enjoy a few pop-up ads!”)

Yes, automated legal services are a boon for people who have been genuinely wronged but can’t afford to seek redress through the traditional legal system. But do we really want every Tom, Dick and Harry emboldened to sue? (“I am offended that the word ‘frivolous’ begins with an ‘f’ instead of a ‘ph’! Let’s take Merriam-Webster to the cleaners!”)

Copyright 2020 Danny Tyree. Danny welcomes email responses at [email protected] and visits to his Facebook fan page “Tyree’s Tyrades.” Danny’s weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc. newspaper syndicate.

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