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Cardella: 2018 begins

By Tom Cardella

2018 is hardly more than a week old, and I’m scared. Panicked might be a better word. Did you know that scientists are predicting chocolate is going extinct by 2050? It’s terrible that polar bears are dying off or that air pollution might become so bad that we might have to wear a mask when going to the Acme. But chocolate going extinct! Admittedly, I’ll be around 110 years old by the time it happens, but I planned on gumming my Trader Joe’s 85 percent cocoa bars by mid-century if I had to. No more chocolate? Is this payback for my not washing my plastic peanut butter jar before I tossed it into the recyclables? Folks, I need my chocolate. …

It used to be that engineering was the best profession for a young person to go into. Since Trump became president, though, it’s fact checking. There are no unemployed fact checkers. Last count of false statements by Trump as president is 1,950, according to the Washington Post. How does this man find time to golf? Yet he’s been on the course more often than Tiger Woods. Trump keeps his clubs next to his BIG nuclear button. Just by accident, you’d figure the president has to just stumble on to a fact, doesn’t he? If lying were a sport, Trump would be Wilt Chamberlain. …

And what is it with Trump calling the Department of Justice “the deep state.” I looked up the definition of “deep state,” and I’m still confused. The term is supposed to describe a cabal of influential people who actually control the government like the Koch Brothers. Trump looks at a guy like former Director of the FBI James Comey and sees the Cigarette Man in “The X-Files.” I look at Comey and see another working stiff in a white button-down shirt and a striped tie who is the only guy in line at Starbucks ordering plain coffee. If Trump thinks Comey was running the show, he should’ve been president when J. Edgar Hoover was the FBI director. Hoover had pictures of everybody. He had so many pictures of JFK, he could’ve put out his own Time-Life series. …

My wife and I went to the parade on New Year’s Day filled with good intentions. Our prime purpose was to see our friend George Hatton march with the Pennsport String Band. We stood outside the Kimmel Center as a frozen string band marched by. We didn’t catch the name. It turned out that we would have trouble reading the signs announcing the names of the string bands and the themes the rest of the afternoon. I suggested to my wife — I thought rather wittily — that the name of the string band was Birds Eye in keeping with the freezing temperatures. The humor was lost somewhere in the single-digit wind-chill readings. We went inside the Kimmel and grabbed a couple of hot chocolates. Classy of the Garces folks and the Kimmel to offer the drinks free-of-charge. Wound up grabbing a couple of seats facing the window looking out over South Broad Street to wait for Pennsport. We got into conversations with other folks trying to find out when Pennsport was due to strut by, figuring we would run out in time to shout “Happy New Year” to George.

Time went by. So did some other bands and brigades. It was great being warm and getting free refills on the hot chocolate, but unfortunately the windows in the Kimmel are pretty much sound proof. I suggested that we use our imaginations and pretend we were hearing Dem Golden Slippers, but my debonair charm was not working on Fran as it had earlier in our marriage. A lot earlier.

Eventually, someone told my wife Pennsport was due to march by after the next string band. We raced for the elevator and then out of the Kimmel Center. The temperatures by now were making Minnesota seem like Aruba. The band — I think it was Polish-American — played a few snatches of “Give My Regards to Broadway.” I duly sang along as they marched off into the distance. We waited. And then waited some more. The next band lined up about a block and a half away. We decided to walk in that direction to hasten the process, if only because my wife’s nose had turned a beautiful shade of blue by then. But alas, the next band and the one behind it were not Pennsport. At that point — and I wisely let my wife make the decision — my wife decided to wish George a “Happy New Year” in the office. I heard the band was great. “Happy New Year,” George. …

At a time when the doomsday clock is close to striking, you’ll pardon me if I haven’t seen “The Last Jedi.” I stopped watching the Star Wars series after “The Empire Strikes Back,” which happily coincided with my kids reaching puberty. I know there is a lot angst among Star Wars fans about whether the ending is in keeping with the deep philosophical insight of George Lucas. I too miss Carrie Fisher. But somehow I feel she’s up there laughing her tush off about how seriously we take Princess Leia. I also think Lucas could’ve come up with a better surname for Luke than Skywalker, but that’s just me. …

Why is the medium-size coffee at Starbucks called “tall?”

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