541. Teenage Wastage

Image result for landfill picturesWaste was on my mind while my body trod on the treadmill, my eyes following the twitterpation of our resident rabbits playing happy bunny games in the back yard. Spring is breaking through in robins and squirrels and mourning doves flittering all around. Oddly though, the word waste came breaking through my reverie like the Doors song, Break on Through to the Other Side as well as the Who’s Teenage Wasteland. However, the lyrics to both songs are just so weak and don’t stand alone, so I will not copy them here. Such a waste…

noun, c.1200, “desolate regions,” from Old French wastfrom Latin vastumneuter of vastus “waste” Image result for wasteland pictures

Latin vastare, “to lay waste”, ravage, ruin, devastate.  You get the picture. Long ago empty uninhabited lands were called the wastelands. Only monsters, outlaws, and brave knights dared to go there. Even today we use the term wasteland for annihilated, abandoned urban landscapes… Wasteland= uninhabitable… toxic Jersey swamp lands, Detroit rubble, the Bronx, Newark, Love Canal, and many, many more raped lands with an unbalanced ratio of old tires to cars.Image result for new jersey toxic waste land pictures

My associative mind rambles on to youth, the waste of all that glorious energy. Kaitlyn the barrista was pale and corpse-like this morning. “No make up either”, she shared. “Was up till 3:00 a.m. working on costumes for the play I’m helping with. Up at 6. I’ll go back till 11 pm or midnite tonight and repeat. Hopefully catch up on sleep by Saturday.”Image result for sleep deprived girl gif

“You are doing life like some people do credit cards:  paying the interest only and accumulating principal sleep debt, which is sleep deprivation.”

“True. But what am I supposed to do?”

“Balance, dear. Running on fumes will never produce your best. Driving while sleep deprived is comparable to texting while driving drunk and applying eye liner.”

“I know. But I’m only hurting myself, right?”Image result for unbalanced scales pictures

“No, last week you put skim milk in the half and half container. I nearly died trying to drink that concoction. Have you no shame?”

“Yeah, I’m still sorry for that.”

“Collateral damage, my dear, young one. Unintended consequences. What if I had died? Well, on second thought don’t answer that. I’m not sure I could handle your expression of relief and then cursory grief. After all you are an actress.”Image result for parks and rec gifs

“Uh, I don’t know what to say to that.”

“I do: youth is truly wasted on the young.”

“Okay, but if that’s true, then is old age wasted on the old?”

“Yes, like hair is wasted on the bald.”Related image

“That makes no sense!”

“Do you have a better epigram?”

“Yes, you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. Boom!”Image result for lipstick on a pig pictures

“Wait one second here, honey! No barnyard animals need to be brought into our discussion. Please, some decorum.”

Larry the homeless guy interrupted us here to rap along with the Maroon 5 song playing on Instrumental Classics radio. “Yo, Larry. Go man!!”

As I sauntered back to my office where Only the Lonely played on my computer, I thought of my teenager client with anorexic traits. “She wants to do everything all the time”, her mom shared. “Lost ten pounds over the past two months.”

“Well, the anorexics I’ve known were super control freaks, perfectionistic and consumed with self image. Secretive. Demanding. Chronically less than happy.”Related image

“Hmmm, that’s not Susan. She’s dreamy and funny, vivacious, distracted, slipping in her grades too.”

“Yeah, the skinny part fits and the anxious energy, but she eats without any struggle. No purging or dieting, right?”

“Yes, true.”

“I’m gaining back some weight, and I want to get back to my former weight”, Susan added.Related image

“Active anorexics don’t do that, Mom. They often go into irrational defenses of why being so skinny is actually a good thing. Putting on weight is like cancer.”

“Not for me, I’d like some curves and padding. I have no butt. See?”

“Uh, boundaries, Susan. I’m an old man, true, but don’t do a booty move on me, okay?”

“I’m sorry. I dance in grocery stores if my jam comes on the speakers.”Image result for girl dancing in grocery store gif

“So does my granddaughter. ‘Life is a highwaaaay; I want to ride it all night long…”

“Oh, funny.”

“She’s five.”

“Oh. I guess I need some inhibitions, huh?”

“They will come with maturity, dear. I hope. Anyway, your youthful exuberance is fascinating.”Image result for exuberant elephant pictures

“Is that good?”

“Uh, um, depends on the context. Like if you’re carrying on with your best girlfriends and hooting and jiving about, I, I, don’t see the harm.”

“So do you think youth is wasted on the young?”

“Were you in the coffee shop this morning?”Image result for suspicious man eyes pictures

“No, Mr. R, my English teacher, gave us that quote as a writing prompt on Monday. I thought it was sort of mean until I thought about it for a while. Now I think it’s a paradox.”

“Nice SAT word.”

“Paradox: a seemingly contradictory statement that contains a truth.”

“Well done, Miss Vocabulary.”

“Thanks. I guess it’s not such a mean statement after all. And I’m not going to do a booty victory dance.”Image result for girl curtseying gif

“Thank you, Jesus.”

“But here’s the thing I want to do now:  I want to go to Africa and save endangered species. Live in a primitive village where everyone is happy and at peace. I know, it sounds crazy to leave civilization, but I think it will be cool to live like Mowgli in The Jungle Book, you know? Keep a pet jaguar. Ride elephants.”

“What country will this idyllic village be located in?”

“I don’t know. A safe one.”

“Yeah, like…????”

“Um, uh, Egypt?”

“Guess again.”

“Somalia?”

“Failed state, along with Libya, Zimbabwe, Sudan, Congo…”

You guess.”

“Mauritius, it’s an island off the coast, way, way off the coast.”Mauritius Location Map

“How do you know about it?”

“Brace yourself: I got a blog hit from there once, so I looked it up. Right next to Reunion Island, another blog hit.”

“Wow, maybe you could contact your blog readers there and see if they have a room to rent.”

“I’ll get right on that refreshingly naive request.”Related image

“Cool. I’ll go home and pack.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

540. Sixty plus two

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It’s official. I turn 62 on Sunday. That’s me in the GIF turning and blinking. Good news if you’re a baby seal, unbeaten by men and uneaten by a polar bear, like a hunk of feta cheese on a sea of frozen yogurt. “I’m just lucky”, I tell my wife. She says, “Yeah, lucky you married me.” This is when dyslexia seems appealing, folks. Oh, to be 26 again. Actually, I’ve been 26 twice plus ten more years for good measure. 26 looks good from here, but I’m not so sure life looked as good or felt any better back in those times.

Image result for old farmhouse pictures I was living in an old farmhouse next to a pig farm then, listening to Michael Jackson on vinyl. Migrant apple pickers walked by at night and could look right into my unveiled living room as my wife and I watched a black and white, puke green cased television. Seriously. The road was above the grade of our rental house, so kids on bikes or dogs running by seemed to be flying. In New Orleans levees allow huge ships to pass by above houses, which creates a bit of cognitive dissonance for the visitor who sees this sight for the first time while drinking a mojito. It was sort of like that in the farmhouse, surreal at times, only no levees or huge ships motoring by. Sadly, no mojitos either.

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Philosophical hook:  The answer we search for is rarely found in the litter box of history behind us, no matter how carefully we rake through the non-clumping clay pebbles that absorb feline odor and excretions. Even under ultra violet light or the Luminol used in cop shows to detect blood, it’s only cat pee and poop in there. So looking backwards won’t help you or me navigate what channels lie ahead of our personal Exxon Valdezes, which is a difficult plural, you must admit.

Related image1982 is a vague  time and place, with ugly carpeting and red and gold Chinese wallpaper we painted over with white Sherwin Williams Super Paint for our mental health. One of us had to go. It was furry and seemed to move at night if you didn’t stare directly at it, like dying red mice on gold vertical glue traps. If we hadn’t painted it, I truly believe I’d be suffering from wallpaper-induced post traumatic stress disorder or the bubonic plague. Personally, I like smooth, flat walls not Little Shop of Horrors wallpaper that might reach out and eat you while you slip tractionlessly in worn out shag carpeting that was not even cool in the 1970’s, when even the Bee Gees were cool. Even when Walter Cronkite anchored the black and white news, it was not safe to be alone in that room until we finally sealed it off.

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In 1962 I was six years old and in first grade at St. Louis Elementary School south of Alexandria, Virginia trying to find my way home on Bus F, but mistakenly put on Bus E due to my crumpled I.D. badge, until my older brother found me and dragged me on to the proper bus with Mrs. Jackson driving for a minimum wage of $1.15 an hour back then. If not for that brotherly rebound, I could have wound up in another family in another neighborhood and only seen my brothers at school. Awkward hardly describes the potential outcome. There would be no blog. Let us pause and thank the Lord here for His Perfect Mercy.  It was a Catholic school run by repressed nuns who had bought the entire bride of Christ brochure promises and found themselves deceived in the bra-less 1960’s. A case of the old Bait and Switch trick. I paid for the Ritz Carlton but here I am in the Holiday Inn Express. Man, would that suck to buy the whole farm of holiness and purity while the rest of your class had fun, smoked pot, and enjoyed sexual liberation in their lives while jamming to the Stones. Meanwhile, back at the convent, you got to hit kids with erect rulers when their handwriting was flaccid. I know, too much, too soon. Publish this posthumously if you must.

Image result for iron butterfly in concert imagesSo, where was I? Age, regression, changes. Yes, shout out to Mickey Marche, I forget his neighbor Mark’s last name, but he excitedly told Mick about the big song on the radio, seventeen minutes long, In the Garden of Eden, by Iron Butterfly.

In a gadda da vida, honey
Don’t you know that I’m lovin’ you
In a gadda da vida, baby
Don’t you know that I’ll always be true
Oh, won’t you come with me
And take my hand
Oh, won’t you come with me
And walk this land
Please take my hand
Image result for my friend earl picturesIt was a case of mistaken identity. Stuff like this happened frequently back in the day. I don’t know if it ever happened, but Jimmy Moran claimed he laid down his Honda motorcycle in Hayfield Farms to avoid hitting a dog, and the owners were so grateful that they bought him a new motorcycle we never saw. This may be a case of Trumpitic memory attack, where an insecure narcissist claims a false narrative that makes him look heroic. Like the kid at the pool who xeroxed a dollar bill on an early color copier in order to pay off an order of Arby’s fast food. Billy Arnold’s name floats to the surface here. Not sure what counterfeiting gets you when you are caught, but I think it exceeds $1.00. The answer is not back there, thank God.Image result for counterfeit money images
And where, pray tell, is the answer, fair Witch of the West, Miss Glinda? “It’s in your heart, dear munchkins. Just click your heels and say, ‘There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.'”Related image
But even when we lean into the unknown future, the anchor of the past holds us. “Not so fast, young man. You have overdue library books. You can’t go to recess.” In a repeating dream you sit and watch the kids in your class play on the jungle gym or four square with the girls, and you sigh. Maybe one day I’ll be free to choose, and figure out sixty plus two.
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539. The Expansion Mansion

Image result for happy canadians picturesWordPress keeps track of my blog hits from countries around the world. Generally the overwhelming majority of my hits come from the United States, not surprisingly. Lately, however, Canadians have been checking into my mental gymnasium and my bouncy trampolines of tangential thoughts. Let us pause and pray for these poor Canucks. They need to find something better to do with their time. Like drinking Canadian whiskey and watching hockey, not to stereotype. I know winter is long and tough up there, but clicking on my blog will only make things worser. I mean more worser than worse. Like when hemorrhoids have baby hemorrhoids and you can’t think of anything else besides the subdermal fire inside your buttocks canyon. I cannot bring spring sooner. I will only betray you guys. There is no Preparation H in Burritospecial, though some might argue that there should be for preemptive and prophylactic purposes. (Note the popping “P’s”.)

I like Canadians in general. They seem kinder and gentler than we USA’ers. I almost said Americans, but they and our Mexican neighbors are also Americans, they just don’t claim exclusive rights to the term. I suppose Central and South Americans could and should lay claim to the title of Americans. However, I suspect that they realize someone else beat them to it, and imbued the term with all shades of other meanings they might not want to own. No matter, I am going to continue spewing Americanesquapades as I see fit. Like the Statue of Liberty, I welcome all to the land of Burritospecial. Related image

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

Image result for world map imagesToday’s visitors hail from Sri Lanka and the Palestinian Territories, Saudi Arabia and South Africa, even Panama. Truly amazing and disturbing that in this huge world of endless blog sites these folks would land on mine. I can’t imagine why. It could be like the drunk guy from Michigan who used to call my home phone and leave messages that were barely comprehensible. His name was Leroy. He’d just blurt out some thing like,

“Hey, it’s Leroy, man. Cold as a bitch up here in Detroit. So, how you been? Kids all growed up by now, huh? Why don’t you call me, man? I’m settin’ around on my ass  waiting for the union to call me back to third shift. Man, the robots are killing us on the line, but I got seniority. Tell Shelly I called. Call me back, man.”Image result for black man on a phone pictures

This went on sporadically for a while until one day I answered the phone on a Saturday and caught Leroy live. I recognized his voice and recalled he lived in Detroit. We chatted for a while and parted with him saying, “I wondered why you never called me back.”

“I didn’t have your number, Leroy.”

“Oh yeah. Well, take it easy, man.”

“You too.”

What I appreciated about Leroy and others that mistakenly call into my life via the phone is that they don’t try to sell me something or wheedle for donations for various charities. Those guys are usually from New Jersey and talk so fast to put you on your heels that they leave you only one option: hang up rudely. You probably get those calls too… from home security companies, replacement windows free estimates, and free trips I’ve won in contests I never entered. Now they have come to my cell phone somehow. How I long to smite them so they may know the taste of smotendom.

So, let me think of some liberating words for the wretched international refuse and tempest-tost lost ones among us who huddle in masses beneath the Burrito of Liberty.Image result for statue of liberty with a taco in hand pictures

“Yo, we have a lot of water in America, like a lot. We even sell it by the case at Walmart. We have the Great Lakes and a bunch of lesser lakes and ponds. Rivers too. So this is a big deal to you Saudis and South Africans, right? Ya’ll thirsty all the time. Meanwhile we water our grass with clean water so we can cut it twice a week in the summers in between fertilizer treatments. Yep, and in upscale places we have automatic sprinklers to make sure we never forget to water the grass.Image result for yard sprinkler pictures

“And Panama, we put you on the map after we stole, I mean helped liberate you from Columbia just in time for the canal we built there. We took great liberties with nature by connecting two separate oceans. Continuing the water theme, irreplaceable rain forest was lost along with all the water used to run the locks. You can thank us later. And then we invaded in 1989 to take out the dictator Manuel Noriega. You’re welcome.Image result for panama canal gif

“And now a few words about Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon. It makes a nice textured tear drop pendant, a stunning accessory for the tall, fashionably bold woman, brave enough to wear it.

A roughly oval island with a mountainous center

“After the killer Tsunami of 2004, a whole pile of Sri Lankans dispersed to other lands. On a lighter note, they gave President Reagan a baby elephant back in 1984. Elephants are symbolic of the Republican Party. I can’t make all this up.Image result for reagan with sri lankan baby elephant pictureIf it weren’t for the visuals, you know you would not have believed my words.

“For the Palestinian Territories, well, uh, you could use some water too. You guys are all chopped up and walled off in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, not the ideal places to live in comparison to the state of Israel. Reminds me of Indian reservations in the U.S.A., separate and way, way not equal. Some of these homeless folks still have the keys to family houses from which their families fled in 1948. Pretty sure the locks have been changed since then. Read The Lemon Tree to get a full feel of the bitterness involved.

So, blog universe, may this little space be your mansion of expansion. Welcome.Image result for spinning world globe gif

538. Hawaii Five-OH, OH, No!

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[It’s another Joel story, just so you know. And it’s about Hawaii, and foolish misadventures that only happened in my simple, dizzy mind. I feel I need to warn you up front that you are wasting your time if you continue past this quasi-legal disclaimer, and that I am not responsible for any real or imagined damages that may arise as a result of consuming this pablum. The most common side effects reported were lower gastrointestinal contortions and seismic activity followed by explosive, flaming flatulence. Some victims suffered blindness, traumatic brain injury and stopped reading altogether.  A few died and could not be reached to complete the exit survey.]

“So, Burrito, I will not be available for our coffee shop banter for the next two weeks.”

“Are you breaking up with me, Joel?”

“No, I mean, no, we weren’t going out so I can’t break up with you. You are asking me to prove a negative, which is a basic logic and legal axiom that is impossible to do.Can we prove unicorns never roamed the Earth? Or that there is no God?

“Joel, you just proved a negative to me. ‘You broke my heart, Fredo.’ You are going to fly in that silver bird to paradise without me! I am crushed, ground like roasted coffee beans, used for others’ entertainment and … and that’s pretty negative to me.”

“Are you done yet?”

“No, but go on….”

“The bank board is paying my way. I could not turn it down, and I’m staying a few extra days to recover from all the excess indulgence that bank board members are known for. I’m hoping to find a way to get the university foundation to pick up my extra days. I might do some recruiting on the beach with the fairer sex, you know, and see if any of the locals would like to leave paradise for graduate school in dreary central Pennsylvania.”Related image

“I don’t anticipate a windfall of Hawaiian students following you home, oh Pied Piper of Turtle Town. Especially now that you traded in the silver Suburban, the legendary Silver Tuna Trawler, and you’ve lost some of your sizzling male magnetism.”

“I like my new Traverse. It’s tighter and lighter, more agile. Sexy in an mature man sort of way.”

“No, you sir are suffering from a magnetism deficiency.”

“Oh, this could be serious. Should I speak to my doctor?”

“I’m afraid traditional medicine is behind the curve in diagnosing m.d.”

“How so, herr doktor?”

“Well, they are still using magnetic wands like the deputies use at the courthouse. Simple metal detectors, Joel.”Related image

“What’s wrong with that approach?”

“Duh! I feel like I’m talking to a brick! They only work to detect magnetic sufficiency. You can’t expect a deputy’s wand to prove the presence of a negative magnetism, can you?”

“Well, I don’t know that much about medicine. And I am having trouble keeping up with this discussion. It’s pretty edgy stuff. Can’t I just take a little blue pill or sit in a bathtub while watching the sun set? Your diagnosis sounds harder than the symptoms.”

“Joel, if treating m.d. were that simple, you would not need a sensei to lead you through the maze of differential diagnosis.”

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“Please don’t refer to yourself as my sensei, guru, guide, or anything remotely similar in meaning. On the one hand it is false advertising; on the other, I just can’t stand the humiliation involved with such a set up. I am a man of sterling reputation in this county, and if anyone ever found out about how you torment me, they would blame me not you. I can hear it all now, the provost, “Joel, he was a charlatan.” The chairman of the board, “You’ve been compromised, Old Bean.” The county bar senior pubah, “We sanction you for ethical and species specific violations.” I feel like Carter Page or the Greek guy who got drunk and blabbered to the Australians.”

“Wow, Joel. So you think I’m working with the Ukrainians?”

“Maybe. You are not working within your own cranium, that’s for sure.”

“And now you are the funny guy. I see. You know what happened the last time you launched into stand up?”Image result for stand up comic pictures

“What? I don’t recall ever stooping so low.”

“You passed out. I have the video. It was your birthday at the Grotesque Goat Club in Haverford. You made the champagne toast to Bacchus. Or have you suppressed that bubbly evidence?”Related image

“No. You promised, I have a napkin in my safe deposit box that has both our signatures and a date. It’s as good as any nondisclosure agreement that Bob Mueller will run in to. It was your napkin and your pen, as I recall. So there, Burrito Extorto.”

“Yes, I remember it well, Joel. It was my self-decomposing paper and time-delayed invisible ink. Remember, you commented on my fancy pen that day of the signing? Those words are nothing but ashes now in your not-so-safe deposit box, old chap.”

“I rue the day we shared this coffee table round, implying equality; level, implying fairness; stout, implying stoutness; and Formica-topped, implying a non-stick honor code between gentlemen.”

“Are you done yet? All this whimpering over losing your chew toy. Sounds like a Jack Russell puppy locked in the laundry room.”Image result for jack russell terrier puppies pictures

“I hate you. But you already know that.”

“Yes, and yet there is this masochistic urge in you to continue in what is clearly an unhealthy relationship for both of us.”

“And, da, bah, sheesh!!! This is what you do: turn the conversation and blame me, the unwitting victim of your turpitude.”Related image

“I love it when you toss legalese into our conversations, Joel. It feels so juris prudential. Like I’m in court with you, swindling poor old widows out of their last coins.”

“I avoid court. I work quietly behind the scenes in estates… for big bucks, I might add. No coinage in my realms.”

“Okay, I guess I’m not going along to Hawaii, huh?”

“Precisely.”

“We could have made a great team on Waikiki Beach, ‘Book her, Danno’.”

“No, you’re Danno. I’d be Detective Steve, and to you I say, ‘Aloha, Sucker’.”

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537. Frames

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How we see life depends on the frame we use to view it. For instance, if I look out my back window with my old, feeble eyes onto the farmland that stretches up and away to a wood line, and then farther away to the bluish mountains beyond, I see with decreasing clarity as the landscape distance increases. Sometimes I think I see a stationary animal out in the corn stubble, even with my corrective lenses on. When I fetch my binoculars and focus in on the blur, I see it is two or three stalks of old dead corn overlapping in faded gold, brown and black, vaguely approximating a figure of an imagined ground hog or coyote or fox. Whatever movement I thought I saw was likely my eyes straining to focus. My brain made sense out of the available but insufficient sensory input. Incorrectly… but I could not be sure of the mistaken identity until I made further inquiries and nailed down the positive i.d.

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I recall many years ago seeing a groundhog up in a tree at the back of my yard. Until that day I did not realize that groundhogs could climb trees, so my brain tried to make sense out of the available, seemingly contradictory input. Until I saw more than its furry face, I completed the figure incorrectly and thought it was a monkey of some sort. How could a monkey come to be in a tree at the back of my yard? I needed a story to connect the monkey with my tree. Maybe it’s a runaway from a traveling circus, I thought, seeking resolution. That was a desperate long shot, a conspiracy theory of sorts. I kept staring at the partial figure until I could clearly see what it was. Ever since then I’ve had an expanded frame for groundhogs. In fact, I shot one out of a tree a few years ago. Image result for monkey in a tree photoCase closed.

Many folks I run into have similar frame issues. The most common false frame up is the black or white thinking frame. By making complex issues A or B choices, binary thinkers shrink the world of possibilities down to 2, us versus them, for me or against me, all or nothing, now or never, etc. Facebook is overcrowded with such false oversimplifications. The politically extreme left and right do this for a living. At the edges of fanaticism you could have a true or false question like this:

True or False?  Thomas Jefferson supported the institution of slavery.

Well, the frame forces one or the other, implying no other answer(s) is possible. In fact, Both would be a better answer. Neither would also work. The truth of the matter is the truth cannot be reduced to a single word answer. Let’s borrow a couple of Wikipedia paragraphs as evidence.

In U.S. history, the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and slavery was a complex one in that Jefferson passionately worked to gradually end the practice of slavery while himself owning hundreds of African-American slaves throughout his adult life.Jefferson‘s position on slavery has been extensively studied and debated by his biographers and by scholars of slavery.Image result for sally hemings images

In his writings on American grievances justifying the Revolution, he attacked the British for sponsoring the slave trade to the colonies. In 1778, with Jefferson’s leadership, slave importation was banned in Virginia, one of the first jurisdictions worldwide to do so. Jefferson was a lifelong advocate of ending the trade and as president led the effort to criminalize the international slave trade that passed Congress and he signed in 1807, shortly before Britain passed a similar law.

And then there was his common law wife Sally Hemings, with whom he guided four  kids into some sort of freedom. Not sure if one or all four were Tommy’s kids.

Image result for extreme eyeglasses cartoonsThe problem with trying to answer complex issues is the matter of time and reading and critical thinking requirements. Time requires patience and the suspension of premature conclusions. Reading requires discernment about what is read. If you only read what confirms your original assumptions, then you’ve wasted everyone’s time. A broader sample is more likely to provide a more accurate answer, but there is the time/patience condition again. Finally, we get to critical thinking, the function of one’s frontal lobes, where we weigh evidence, and prioritize, examine, and conclude. Tommy Boy’s non resolution of slavery was very complicated and irreducible to True or False.

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Here is the “resolution” for black and white thinkers: destroy the both or neither, annihilate the anomaly. If reality does not shake out  neatly into A or B, deny it, defy it, absolutely fry it. So when it comes to LGBT folks who don’t fit your paradigm, demonize them. Don’t check your feeble eyesight or your incorrect assumptions. Get a good fire going around a public square. Add one gasoline soaked victim. Strike the match.

Image result for witches burned at the stake picturesWhen it comes to how to spend public money, binary “thinkers” make false pairings of veterans versus drug addicts, even though there may be, no, there definitely is, overlap between the two. Ask simplistic questions like this, “Should we spend money on drug addicts rather than veterans?” As if there is no both overlap involved. Nonsense. The easy answer, the low hanging fruit, is the veteran. We all want to love and honor our veterans. Thank them too. Never mind that the veteran may also be a drug addict. Or make it homeless versus vets, ignoring the fact that many homeless are vets. Or move on to coded talk like that surrounding social security benefits, a federal entitlement program, as if it’s different from federal employee retirement programs, another federal entitlement program that trumps social security but is never viewed in the same frame. “Hey, I paid in to this fund. It was mandatory”, both camps legitimately say. Why then is one demonized and the other given a pass? Preconceived frames, that’s why.

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I’d love to give you a simple, one word take away answer, folks. I just don’t want to insult your intelligence.

 

536. The Colonel

He was tough. You had to be tough in order to lead other men, some reluctant draftees, through Vietnam. Colonel Baker, worked at the Pentagon back in the day, the early 1970’s. He was the kind of guy who lived at the end of a cul de sac, and when a foolish high school kid in a jacked up Duster would chirp tires or rev his 340 a few decibels, Colonel Baker would jump into the street and stop the fool bare handed, which may have been overkill since his hands were deadly weapons, I’m pretty sure. He was familiar with the riot act and would put the fear of God into the unfortunate soul stuck between the Colonel and escape.The text of the Riot ActFeeling like a Viet Minh truck driver under interrogation, the kid would confess to crimes against humanity and God, and sign the confession before the Colonel would release him to a future, tarnished with fear of a bullet proof ninja stalking him. I knew better and calmly pulled into the Bakers’ driveway in my primer gray 36 horsepower 1959 Volkswagen Beetle .

I liked and admired the Colonel. He was the real deal who grew up in the coal country of Pennsylvania playing football and wrestling. Viciously patriotic and loyal to a fault, I think. Duty first and always, even if you had to kill a few folks along the way. Duty or Die.Image result for coal miner pictures

His son Mark was a close friend. He was a lot like his dad, but also carried a lot of his mom’s tenderness and compassion. Five kids in the family; Mark was the older boy. I liked Mrs. Baker as well. She was a Girl Scout troop leader and an Army colonel’s wife; two very different worlds. In her sunny kitchen with huge flowered wallpaper hung this poem:

Silver and Gold

Make new friends, but keep the old;
Those are silver, these are gold.
New-made friendships, like new wine,
Age will mellow and refine.
Friendships that have stood the test-
Time and change-are surely best

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The Colonel’s domain was the garage, the living room with the Washington Post, the basement he finished in dark paneling. He gave me the bar he built down there during  the move out before their divorce. It was built with nails and screws and would have surely survived a nuclear strike. Covered in the same dark paneling and orange Naugahyde bumpers around a dark orange Formica countertop. Very 1970’s gross. I moved it to an old farmhouse in Pennsylvania in 1980 with Mark’s help. No matter how I tried to incorporate the bar, it could not be done. It belonged in the Colonel’s basement or nowhere.Image result for 1970's formica orange topped bar pictures

[you know you want it]

Two memories arise today and are equally conflicted insights into the Colonel. I recall chatting with him on a summer night. He asked what I was up to. I told him I’d been painting pictures. He expressed interest in seeing them. I said okay and drove four miles home and back again with my acrylic masterpieces. One was some sort of colorful mandala thing that I called “Beltway Madness”. The other was a black and white painting of a crow sitting up on a high branch in a dead tree in a winter landscape. Image result for painting of a crow in a dead tree winter scene

“I like this one. What do you call it?”

“Death.”

“I can see why. May I have it?”

“Sure, of course.” I thought he was humoring me till months later when the painting business came up again. He said he kept the painting over his bed. I called his bluff. He brought down the painting a few minutes later. “I was not kidding you. I like it.” His word was made of granite blocks; mine was green Jello that didn’t quite gel.Image result for green jello pictures

The other memory of the Colonel came around the same time, 1972. Mark and I were both 16, being born a day apart. I rolled in to visit with him. No cell phones, no texts, no Twitter, no Snapchat, no Instagram. I just rolled into his driveway in the Bug.  We sat opposite his dad in the front living room. The Colonel read the Post as we chatted.

“So what’s new with you, Burrito?”

“I went to DAR the other night and saw Joan Baez. What a voice! It was a powerful experience, man.”Image result for joan baez circa 1972 pictures

Something like terror shot across Mark’s face. He tried to say, “uh huh” and calmly stay under the Colonel’s radar and/or hearing.  No good. It might just as well have been a branch snapping on the Ho Chi Minh Trail. The veil of the Washington Post came down slowly and the Colonel crisply folded it and set it down on the end table that held his evening cocktail. He did not look at me or address me directly. The roiling volcano eruption was directed at his loyal, loving son who knew it was coming.Image result for gene hackman faces of rage

“You know if you went to see that Commie Bitch, I’d kick your ass all around this neighborhood AND I WOULDN’T EVEN TELL YOU WHY!!”

“Yes, sir.”

“Her and God Damned Hanoi Jane Fonda. If they were on fire across the street, I wouldn’t even piss on them to put out the fire. They can burn in Hell. I know men why hung from ropes in the Hanoi Hilton because they refused to be interviewed by those bitches. So if you ever….” Rage brimmed at the edges of his self control. I had no idea what demons he fought to prevent self incineration.Image result for gene hackman faces of rage

“Yes, sir.”

The scene turns to black. Mark thought I should go. I did too. No more unguarded conversations in front of the Colonel. On my shell shocked drive home I smelled gasoline fumes that seemed to be chasing me like a streak of napalm through a faraway jungle.

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There are divisions in history and society and family that are as opaque as black out curtains. Veiled mourners walk by anonymously. Whom they mourn is a mystery; maybe it’s a time, a son, a marriage, or a golden friend.

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535. Psycho Killers: Profiles in Sewage.

Unfortunately the Talking Heads song Psycho Killer is relevant again. I say unfortunately not as a musical judgment but as a sad comment on contemporary American massacres; the most recent one last week in Florida is nauseatingly familiar to past school slaughters by highly armed, mentally ill psycho killers, who left a vivid trail of clues before acting out in streams of blood.Image result for streams of blood images
Columbine, Virginia Tech and Sandy Hook come to mind without much prompting. Throw on the corpse pile the non-school shootings like Las Vegas, Nevada and Aurora, Colorado, Orlando, Florida, Sutherland Springs, Texas and your mind starts to smoke with the overload. Neurons back up and get trampled because nothing makes sense to a rational, solution-seeking brain. The bodies pile up like log jammed timber as well, seeking a pinhole of reasoned compromise to break free. Nope.
I can’t seem to face up to the facts
I’m tense and nervous and I can’t relax
I can’t sleep ’cause my bed’s on fire
Don’t touch me I’m a real live wireImage result for Columbine killers pictures
Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est (What is it? What is it?)
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better
Run run run run run run run away oh oh
Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est (What is it? What is it?)
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better
Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, away oh oh oh
Yeah yeah yeah yeah!
 
The stacatto fa fa fa fa is eerily reminiscent of a busy semi automatic weapon unloading. Pick the location and be sure to wear hearing protection since the gun shot echos in hallways is deafening.
You start a conversation you can’t even finish it
You’re talking a lot, but you’re not saying anything
When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed
Say something once, why say it again?
Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est (What is it? What is it?)
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better
Run run run run run run run away oh oh oh
These disturbed young men confused violence with worth of some sort, infamy, celebrity, in a neighborhood where values are upside down, where the soul dead come alive and the living must die.Related imageDead souls look for company in their hellish existence, where lives extinguished are good for bragging rights among them. Unlike their video screens, there is no reset button.
Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est (What is it? What is it?)
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better
Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, away oh oh oh oh!
Yeah yeah yeah yeah! (What I did, that evening
What she said, that evening
Fulfilling my hope
Headlong I go towards the glory… OK)
Ce que j’ai fais, ce soir la
Ce qu’elle a dit, ce soir la
Realisant mon espoir
Je me lance, vers la gloire, OK
Yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah yeah
Yes, that glory thing. The glory of being a serial murderer, it’s a desirable outcome for someone who could not succeed or even function in his own society. Rather than working to figure out what needs to change, the psycho killers kill the standard they could not reach. In their abnormalcy they kill the innocent normals. They appear to be all or nothing thinkers, and since all is not available because it does not exist, they give us all the gift of nothing— annihilation.
Las Vegas gunman Stephen Paddock
We are vain and we are blind
I hate people when they’re not polite
Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better
Run run run run run run run away oh oh oh
PHOTO: In this July 23, 2012, file photo, James E. Holmes appears in Arapahoe County District Court in Centennial, Colo.
Psycho Killer
Qu’est-ce que c’est
Fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-fa-far better
Run, run, run, run, run, run, run, away oh oh oh
Yeah yeah yeah yeah oh!
For one moment these deranged man-boys rushed high on infamy flowing through their veins like heroin, finally feeling important, prophetic, apocalyptic, revenged, heroic in their demagoguery and eventual demonology, making s’mores in hell.
Here we are again. In some strange associative thread, I am reminded of the anti-Nixon ad that asked, Image result for would you buy a used car from this man poster Well, millions of Americans did buy what he was selling…twice as a matter of fact. In the end they finally had some buyer’s remorse.
So, check these bizarro dudes above and ask yourself:  would you sell any of them an Assault Rifle and a thousand rounds to go with it? Again and again and again? Our shivering congressmen and senators dive for shelter,  political shelter when the bullets fly. Even when one of their own is mowed down playing softball, they lack the courage to stand up and do the right thing. Like the serial psycho killers, they opt for spineless nothingness, puppets of special interests. Unfortunately, school safety has no lobbyist.Image result for u s congress pictures
After 9/11, after Oklahoma City, after the first fertilizer bomb at the Twin Towers, after the shoe bomber and underwear guy,  we learned to protect ourselves against weaponized diesel fuel and fertilizer and planes and shoes. The results have been strong and effective. Though they infringe on our freedom of movement and add a layer of inconvenience to renting trucks or buying fertilizer, I suppose, no one is in an uproar over these common sense responses. As a result, airports are some of the safest real estate in the world nowadays.Image result for atlanta airport photos
Strangely enough, rather than tightening wise gun stewardship laws, these horrific massacres send more and more Americans to the gun shows for weapons and ammo stockpiles, and more and more elected officials quaking before the NRA. “Please, All Powerful One, do not unseat me.”

But there is one quirk that consistently puzzles America’s fans and critics alike. Why, they ask, does it experience so many mass shootings?

Perhaps, some speculate, it is because American society is unusually violent. Or its racial divisions have frayed the bonds of society. Or its citizens lack proper mental care under a health care system that draws frequent derision abroad.

These explanations share one thing in common: Though seemingly sensible, all have been debunked by research on shootings elsewhere in the world. Instead, an ever-growing body of research consistently reaches the same conclusion.

The only variable that can explain the high rate of mass shootings in America is its astronomical number of guns.

[The Interpreter Newsletter]
 Students and family members attend a candlelight vigil for victims of the mass shooting
The sewage will continue unabated, however, through clever manipulation of these horrid facts. Guns don’t kill people; spineless politicians afraid of losing elections do.

534. Tangents

Image result for water slide picturesEver slide down a tangent like a water slide? You get in the mouth entrance up a few flights of stairs in a water park. You wait for the guard to signal you to let it rip. And away you go for a few seconds of gravity-induced joyous terror. Your butt just barely touches the chute as you hydroplane down to a deeper pool of level water. Slow. Stop.

Image result for tangent illustrationTangent means to “just barely touch”. To be tangential means you’re off the main course, out there, digressing. Yeah, you started at a traction point, but then you rocketed away into deep space, leaving only a vapor trail. I could not explain to you what a tangent in geometry is, but I can zip line out on a verbal tangent anytime.Image result for zip line ride pictures

I like tangents, connections as thin as a spider’s silk and just as strong, able to stretch without breaking, but allowing for a lot of bounce. A single quarter inch strand of spider silk can suspend an Abrams tank over a Russian soldier’s head for well over a minute before breaking. On average. Some Vladivostokian volunteers died in this research. Image result for spider silk pictures

So, what’s that look like? you may ask. Like a spider bungee jumping in a rose bush. Like a guy parachuting from 15,000 feet with just a 17 pound parachute. Like a stand up comic who has his first joke ready and confidence that the rest will magically fall in place. In short, it’s terrifying to introverts who are risk aversive, and exhilarating to the shameless caffeinated extroverts among us, who seek risk like a heat seeking missile seeks, well… uh, heat. I thought I had something stellar there, but not so much at the end of that analogy.  Okay, like a MIG 25. (Round Bale, I await your expert warrior correction here.)Image result for heat seeking missile pictures

So, let’s riff on a tangent, shall we? First, you must suspend doubt and any sense of cohesion or cause/effect relationships. Okay, then you must indulge in word play for the sake of word play alone. You may consider this mental masturbation, and that is your inalienable right, guaranteed by article 14 of our Constitution, but keep in mind that you already agreed to suspend doubt, so put on your suspenders and let’s go bungeeing already.  You should already know your rights and amendments thereto. You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind sock blows.Image result for wind sock pictures

Earlier I stated that I like tan gents, which is not illegal or immoral anymore since it was dropped first from the DSM III R and then through the courts until gay marriage was made legal in recent years. So, if I say “I like tan gents”, I am not discriminating against pale Irish and Welsh coal miners. Not at all. They are simply pasty pale gents who need to get on holiday and get some fun in the sun, for goodness sake. “I like tan gents” is not equivalent to “I hate pale gents”. That assertion does not follow logically any more than “I hate semi-tan gents, like Portugese guys or Cubans.”  I hope you are following the vapor trail closely but not inhaling. And by like I do not mean like that! Sheesh!!Image result for Cuban men at the beach pictures

So, Joel, who is very pale in an Icelandic tourist sort of way, arrived back at Coffee Central today after a sousaphilia conference in Winston Salem, N. C. We talked as usual after I serenaded him with “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Angels…

My boyfriend’s back he’s gonna save my reputation
(Hey-la-day-la my boyfriend’s back)
If I were you I’d take a permanent vacation
(Hey-la, hey-la, my boyfriend’s back)Image result for singing group angels pictures

Not the most intelligent lyrics, but then in-tell-i-gents is an entirely other category to research. If you tell a gent some intel, does that make him an intelligent? What if it’s an embarrassing secret you reveal? Have you out-telli-gented him? Or if you talk too much with your gentle friend, have you out telled him? Do tell. Or sing. What about William Tell and that famous apple shoot? Aim a zing. Image result for william tell pictures

This is known as a jump stone in masonry, the kind bricklayers do, not the secret society type. Ginseng is a thinly connected almost homonym of sorts that starts the next round of verbal bungee Olympics. Perhaps you’ve ingested ginseng tea or some sort of herbal concoction.  Then again, perhaps you have sung karaoke under the influence of martinis.Image result for ski flying pictures

In the latter case you’d have experienced gin singing, the first cousin of ginseng, the best of which is found in the mountains of Korea. Gin singers became famous during the age of  Dickens, when gin was made in London bathtubs.Related image

So here we are again, waiting for meaning to catch up to language sounds. Not the minimum guage, which is still unlivable at minimum or a large vegetable in season.

In court I imagined giving expert testimony. “Sir, what are your thoughts about holding this minor in ten more days of lock down?”

“Oh it’s a great idea. I think we should all go for a refresher seminar on the suspension of one’s civil rights.”

“Your Honor, please remind the witness about the use of sarcasm in the court.”Related image

“How do you know it’s sarcasm, Mr. D.A.?”

“Well, you don’t mean what you just said. You were mocking my question and the ruling of this court with your supposed ironic endorsement of the penalty imposed on the minor.”

“So it’s not what you say that matters but how you say it, is that what you’re saying?”Image result for courtroom drama pictures

“Certainly, that’s why we speak directly without any pretense or drama in court. No riddles, no figures of speech; just cold hard facts in yes/no question format.”

“I see. Context matters.”

“Yes, but I think you already knew that.”Image result for sumerian cuneiform pictures

“I did, but I wanted to hear you elucidate this truth, counselor.”

“And why is that, sir?”

“Because if you plug my client’s words and actions into the context in which they occurred, you will find a different meaning than what you have ascribed to them. Words and actions do not exist in a vacuum.”

“Your Honor, I move that these comments be struck from the record as needlessly tangential.”

“So ordered.”Image result for judge pictures

 

 

 

533. michael cohen says sexit to trafficking charges

Image result for street signs for incredulity avenue picturesWe find ourselves at the intersection of Incredulity Prospect and Constitutional Crisis Avenue. Michael Cohen, attorney at law for none other than Donald J. Trump, recently was outed against his will for a handsome charitable contribution to a Ms. Stormy Daniels, adult film star. The self-effacing philanthropist was caught red handed doing the right thing for the rightest of reasons. He secretly paid Ms. Daniels $130,000 U.S. dollars of  his own money to hush her pouty lips and help her escape the tawdry world of pornographic films. The poor woman was down on her luck and so desperate that she contacted the Trump campaign, no, I mean, Attorney Cohen, Esq., and threatened to blackmail candidate Trump late in his bid for the presidency in 2016.  We have not witnessed  philanthropy on this level since George Costanza started The Human Fund.Image result for the human fund pictures

Michael Cohen saw through her extortion ploy as a tragic cry for help. He raced altruistically to set up a shell company in Delaware for the sole purpose of paying her blackmail demands in order to rescue her from a life of sexploitation. At no time did he believe for a second that Ms. Daniels had a torrid affair with his best bud and major client, Donald J. Trump. He later told investigators it was all a big humanitarian misunderstanding. Paying her demands might look like yielding to extortion, but Mr. Cohen reported it was really a gift from one Trump bimbo to another.  Nothing more or less. “I’d do it for any woman with boobs the size of Rhode Island” he reportedly said.

As Cohen further related after all the other reporters left the room, it began several years ago. Ms. Daniels had photo shopped pictures of herself with Mr. Trump in 2006 as if they were an intimate golf twosome at one of Trump’s golf courses. Melania had just delivered their son, and Donald needed some R & R of another sort. The misguided Stormy then put her evil plan into effect, contacting the Don and demanding hush money for something that never, ever, let me repeat, never happened. On your mother’s grave, I swear.Image result for stormy daniels pictures with trump

In  Political Stilletos Magazine, Mr. Cohen was interviewed recently by former White House spokesman Shawn Spicer.Image result for sean spicer pictures

“I know it’s all truly false because I was there when the first high heel fell, so to speak. I was attending Mr. Trump’s personal care. I am also a licensed CNA. Mr. Trump had called me into his toilet area. I remember it like it was yesterday, Dec. 7, 2010, Pearl Harbor Day, which is ironic because Mr. Trump’s toilet seat is inlaid with mother of pearl. You don’t forget these things. Related image

“I had just read the first extortion letter from Ms. Daniels aloud when he called me into the bathroom for another delicate matter. ‘First things first. We’ve gotta do the first thing and do it first.’ He’s like that, cuts to the marrow of meaning in a way that even asphyxiated well diggers can grasp. Image result for well diggers pictures

“Anyway, he made sure I used antibacterial lotion and latex gloves to inspect his nether regions on the back side. You see, he had been complaining of a rash back there below his spare hair pelt that he grows just below his belt line. Something just didn’t feel right. I detected a small lump, a nuisance really, like Devin Nunes.Image result for devin nunes gif

“I combed through the back up pelt and found nothing out of the ordinary, and then he was relieved. I took a picture and added it to his collection of specimens. Ever since his nanny scolded him during toilet training, he has been perfecting his revenge. It is not encopresis. This is a man who is legendary for playing 3-D checkers while other men play chess and flush away their swine before pearls. It is part of a larger strategy to be a totally self sufficient rebel locked in the anal explosive stage. Image result for trump on toilet pictures

“Mr. Trump complained of rectal pain occasionally, but especially in the latter days of the presidential campaign. He thought a Crooked Hillary supporter might have poisoned him at a McDonald’s drive through window. Once again I put on the gloves and checked him. The pelt was fine, shiny and vigorous like a silver back gorilla’s coccyx after hydrogen peroxide treatments. That’s when he said, ‘Lower. In.’Related image

“I took a deep breath and asked him if he was sure. ‘Sir, permission to touch you there.’

“‘Permission granted’, he replied. Gingerly, like Fred Astaire gingerly, I looked in and saw a vision I can never unsee. As I pulled back his ample saggy butt cheeks, I found Nancy Pelosi staring wide eyed back at me. ‘What are you looking at?’ she snarled. ‘Everyone my age has had a little work done.’Image result for nancy pelosi pictures Before I could respond Sean Hannity shouted, ‘It’s Obama’s fault again. Show us the birth canal certificate.’ Image result for sean hannity picturesA strong hand came up from the deep and covered his mouth, pulling him back into the Abyss of Buttocks. Slowly I saw another hand and then a severe jaw appear. It was Michael Flynn. ‘Lock her up. Lock her up.’ he chanted rhythmically.Flynn pleads guilty to lying to FBI, is cooperating with Mueller

“That’s when Mr. Trump said, ‘There! That felt better. What’s going on down there Michael?’

“I was a gassed at that point. I mean exhausted with the comb in one hand and the tweezers in the other. Plus, Mr. Trump is a large man with a rump like William Howard Taft, the bigliest president in U.S. history. I didn’t know what to say in such unimagined territory.Image result for president taft pictures

“It was at that very moment when I was overcome with compassion for porn stars stuck in a humiliating lifestyle like hard candy pellets in a Pez dispenser in the President’s butt. I remembered the threatening letter that no one in the campaign or White House has ever seen. Ever. I contacted Stormy and made my career escape plans for her known to her. She was dumbfounded and agog over my offer. No one had ever made her such an unconditional offer of love and freedom. She accepted. Case closed. Honest Injuns.”

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532. Prodigals All

So you know the Bible story of the prodigal son, right?  It’s one of those stories that meanders out of the Bible and into movies and books and songs in one way or another.  Why? Because it contains so many universal themes– impatience, rash action, fraternal jealousy, repentance, forgiveness, humility, pride, bitterness, and love. All wrapped up in a tasty taquito of a story. What can I possibly add to this masterpiece parable? Let’s see. The deep fry. Image result for deep fryer taquitos gifs

Usually the story is focused on three characters– the older brother, the father, and the prodigal son. I imagine them lined up left to right in that order. They never got names, but in my version they do. MJ, Malachi, and Fast Eddy. However, you are in this story as the audience hearing it. (The original audience was composed of Pharisees and tax collector types, saints and sinners. You know which you are; don’t kid yourself. ) In the end you must wrestle with three perspectives– the self righteous, entitled older brother who will receive his full 2/3’s inheritance no matter what happens to his younger brother; the kind, extravagantly generous and forgiving father; or the shriven, repentant lost son seeking redemption. You get to weigh each perspective and then choose. Let’s look closer before you do.Image result for prodigal son, brother and father pictures

Fast Eddy is the younger brother. He’s not getting the farm, the herds or the rights that go to the first born son. The legal concept of primogeniture continues today in many cultures. Headship of the family, royal or otherwise, goes to the first born son, the namesake. (See William of the Windsor family.) Fast Eddy saw the writing on the wall, so to speak. And, as the story unfolds along with MJ’s judgmental attitudes, we listeners can pick up some of what Eddy must have felt in the harsh eyes of his entitled older brother. Unless MJ dies or has a severe head injury leaving no son behind, Eddy isn’t going to become the big guy playing first fiddle. So why not get what you’re gonna get? Get it, a third of the inheritance, now. Get out of Dodgernaum. Who loves their spare tire?Image result for royal family portraits

Fast Eddy seems to have had an addictive personality. He wanted what he wanted when he wanted it. He’d fit in at an AA meeting with great stories, but that wasn’t available in ancient Israel. He rudely opts for his inheritance early. Imagine that scene, “Hey Dad. I can’t wait till you die to get my inheritance. So can you expedite that for me to party hardy now? I mean, I love you and all, but the wine and women are calling my name, and I can’t say no, maybe, or later. It’s all or nothing right now!!!Light my fire. Boomity Boom Boom. Just a sec, my chicky chicks. Dad, the money?”Related image

Malachi, the father, already knew his younger son’s nature. I’m sure the rash demand was not a surprise to him. Fast Eddy had to be of age to leave, so 14, 16, 18? Not sure, but he was not a kid, he just acted like one… immature, short sighted, craving his animal cravings… temporarily head injured due to prolonged adolescence. He does not know what he does not know. He has to learn from experience instead of from his father’s wisdom.

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Extravagance abounds in this story. Prodigal means “extravagantly wasteful”, but Malachi’s generosity and tolerance of his impetuous son are extravagant also. Extra-vagant means to “wander beyond” what is appropriate, usual or moderate. Fortunately for Fast Eddy, Malachi’s love and mercy are just as extravagant. It just takes years of continued stupidity for Fast Eddy to realize who his father is instead of stopping at what his father owns. Incredibly, Malachi essentially says, “Eddy, your will be done” and grants the absurd, free will wish of self indulgence. You know how that journey ends, in a faraway land, covered in pig excrement. Ashamed.

Oh, then there’s Malachi, junior, the heir who “earned” a double share by being born first. It’s easy to accept the unearned glory as if you did earn it, born on third base and told you hit a triple at birth. It’s hard not to believe your own mythology. The law, family, culture, tradition, justice are all on the side of the older brother. He’s entitled to feel entitled, right? Everyone is saying he’s bigly so he must be bigly. He’s likely holier than others, an Eagle scout, valedictorian, president of the Future Herders of Israel, and just as prodigal as his little brother, only in a different manner. Proud, restrained, conservative, all about the rule of law. The guy who always asks for permission and, therefore, never has to ask for or grant forgiveness. In the thick of privilege’s thicket, it’s hard to see your own exclusive privilege. Extravagant Malachi also grants Junior’s wish, “Son, your self deceitful, squeaky clean will be done.” MJ’s will leads him to bitter jealousy of his ne’er do well little brother. Like “Where’s my party for being good, Dad?”Image result for jealous male images

Now we come to you, dear inquiring blog reader. Do you align with the wise fool Fast Eddy, who finally gets it only after humiliation? Or with his brother, who resents mercy to others that costs him nothing? Binary thinkers stop here and miss the point, I think. The third and best option is to align with the loving, merciful father who is the source of all blessings to begin with. Malachi means, “my messenger” in Hebrew. Related image

To the Pharisees and teachers of the law, Jesus (re-)presents the radical, shame-obliterating, honor-infusing love of the father. God comes out to them, pursues them, invites them, and begs them to participate in the true feast of honor.  But entering the extravagant feast implicitly acknowledges that the years of labor was never the basis of acceptance, honor, and inclusion.  The father’s invitation extends to both the falsely-honored Pharisees and the falsely shamed tax-collectors/sinners’.  The shame he endured covers everything with a fresh coat of honor. [Honor/Shame blog passage]

So choose wisely, my friend. Related image