June 24, 2015's Weekly Slap:

“Beach Slapped” is what it is because from the moment I first came to the Oregon Coast, most every moment I lived here, and even my last hours here, it was always about the beach. That wasn’t always true of my life, and perhaps that’s been my problem.

Growing up in Colorado, I was a long way from the beach. I don’t care what anyone says, lounging next to a giant lake/ civic water supply is not the beach.

BartonGroverHowe.com:Where to keep up with humor writer Barton Grover Howe. Here, you'll find all of his Beach Slapped columns from The News-Times in Lincoln County, Oregon, excerpts from his latest books and the occasional random musing that would get him fired if he published it in a family newspaper.
Manila: Where New Year's is a blast -- literally
- January, 2001
Well, New Year’s finally arrived, and with it champagne, party-munchies and staying up far too late into the night.  Accompanying it were the headaches, nausea, stomach pains and exhaustion that come with it. Sadly, I got all of these in the hours before January 1 - not after - as I was sick as a dog.  All that agony and no partying to go with it; hardly seems fair.

            Truth be told, just about all of us have been sick with one thing or another since we got to Manila.  Sore throats, headaches, weird rashes, plus all of the aforementioned ailments have greeted all of us in some form or another.  I’m sure part of this is related to our constant traveling and change of environments: every time we get used to a place, we leave and have to let our bodies get to know a whole new set of germs and bacteria. I guess Manila has really friendly germs.

            What I am equally sure of is that living in a giant cesspool like Manila doesn’t help, either.  All of our bodies have a hard enough time fighting off the creeping crud as it is, but having to fight off the germs living in the tons of trash lying about this city can’t possibly help.  As you look around this city, it’s almost impossible to imagine how any place could be any less healthy.  At which point you find out that as of January 1, two of the biggest trash dumps on the island closed, and it’s piling up in the streets of Manila at the rate of 3 - 4 million pounds a day. Even our pool is beginning to smell ripe, when the breeze is just right.

            Sitting in my air-conditioned room, though, did give me the opportunity to catch CNN, and reflect on the events that were transpiring in the world: “In breaking news, a bomb has gone off . . .”

“Oh, great, what are those idiots in the Middle East doing now?” I tend to talk to myself when I’ve been trapped alone in my room for several hours.

            “. . . in the Philippines. Authorities . . .” OK, this was a little more interesting, as I’d heard about terrorism in some of the southern islands. “. . . in Manila are reporting . . .”  Manila? “ . . . at least nine people have been killed in multiple attacks around the city.”

“Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap . . .” Feel free to substitute other words for “crap.”

That said, New Year’s Eve in Manila is a hazardous endeavor even without terrorists trying to blow you up.  That’s because normal people are more than happy to do it.  Fireworks here are legal, some of which are powerful enough to blow a crater in the sidewalk.  As an extra bonus, many of them are packed with cow manure – I guess it explodes well – so even if you live through the blast, you can always die of Tetanus.

These things are huge, producing sounds loud enough to be heard literally blocks away.  Every year, hundreds of people are killed or injured by these monsters, and every year people keep doing it.  Turns out this year was a little better; firework sales are in the dumper with the rest of the economy. No word yet if people took to blowing up cows, instead.

            Another threat to your health on New Year’s Eve are people firing guns into the air.  Every year a few dozen people are killed or injured by bullets falling back to the earth from which they came.  Regretfully, they never seem to fall on the idiots that fired them, only on innocent people standing outside, or children sleeping under thin tin roofs.  I suspect if these bullets automatically returned to sender this problem would cure itself, but they don’t, and every year they have to launch huge public safety campaigns explaining gravity and physics to the ignorant gun-toting masses – including the police.  Even Charleton Heston would hate these people. I think.

            And so it was in this dampened, bacteria-laden spirit that I celebrated New Year’s Eve – indoors.  We had a nice private party, where I drank nothing more than Diet Coke, but for half a glass of champagne at midnight.  Outside our windows, as entertainment, some local boys shot fireworks into the air and at each other.  You would suspect Darwinism would eventually cure these types of problems, but apparently not.

Finally at midnight, to a serenade of popping and considerable noise, we welcomed in 2001, all the while wondering if the sounds we heard were bombs, fireworks, guns, or corks popping out of bottles. We all showed up for the work the next day, so I assume it was the latter.