660. Deadlines

Image result for deadline cartoons

The funny thing about a blog is the lack of any deadline. No one is waiting or pressuring me for copy. In fact, some folks ever so subtly try to dissuade me from posting. “Who reads your blog?” they ask. Or “How do you know if hits aren’t just mistakes, like wrong numbers?” “Can you tell if they actually read your post? Do you have a timer or something? A survey or exit quiz?” My answer to all such inquiries is “I don’t care.” I don’t write for others. I write for my own eccentric reasons. I’m not good at woodworking or painting or pottery or music, (I actually suck at most things others do well) so I comfort myself with creating in words. If someone else gets a charge out of my writing, that’s a bonus. What is therapy for me occasionally has a benefit for others.Related image

Often it’s like going to the scribe gym to just tone up my metaphors and verisimilitude instead of my abs or quads, glutes and rhomboids. I’ll get a word or idea in my head and then ruminate on it for a while, like slow cooking beef tongue. Image result for beef tongue pictures

Directions
  1. Place beef tongue, onion, garlic, and bay leaf in the crock of a slow cooker; generously season with salt. …
  2. Cook on Low for 8 hours.
  3. Transfer beef tongue to a work surface and cool slightly. …
  4. Heat butter in a skillet over medium heat; cook and stir beef tongue meat until tender, 5 to 10 minutes.

Now mind you, I do not put 8 hours and ten minutes into any post. I’m not a chef; more of a short order cook who throws whatever is available into the stew. Sometimes it’s edible. Other times it turns into what my kids used to call “ham slop”, after a famous culinary disaster involving a sort of accidental pork porridge. It was a doomed project from the jump.Image result for pork porridge picturesAnd never looked this appetizing.

Anyway, if I could copy and paste my own stick figure drawings, I’d give you a deadline cartoon that involved a pair of three vertical lines connected by three horizontal lines…

I/I/I/

I I I

and across the horizontal lines one squiggly line would rest…∼  Work with me, Bloggoiters. Pull it all together and imagine it’s a funeral procession for a dead line. Boom! I know, that’s a big investment for such a small return, like betting $100 to win $0.10, but it’s the thrill of the long shot that keeps me coming back to the same powder dry well. Like cooking an ox tongue for 8 hours so you can have a tough tongue taco for dinner. Say that three times fast. But it keeps me out of jail and rehab.

Image result for lengua tacos pictures

You know I also like etymology, the history of words. I actually like the stories that sort of explain where and when certain interesting words came about. Once I know their back story, I won’t forget the word. Deadline… hmmm, let’s go back in the word time machine. According to my five second Google search, the term arose at the infamous Andersonville prison in Georgia during the Civil War. It held Yankee prisoners of war who were warned that if they came up to, upon, or across a barrier line near the stockade fences, they would be shot to death.

Reminds me of Nazi concentration camps with the same sort of mentality and results– skeletons both living and dead. In fact, some prisoners played dead in order to escape from the dead pile where corpses were stacked like cord wood outside the prison at night. I imagine Hell is an improvement upon such places.Image result for skeleton piles photos

Now come to think of it, if you squint at the picture of Andersonville above, you might be able to see six dots connected by three lines carrying out a squiggly dead line to toss on the pile. It’s hard if not impossible to tell if that tilde squiggle is alive or dead from this angle. More of a dead dot, I think.

Okay, why quit when you’re on a roll. Later in history, newspaper printers found that at the far edge of their copy type some letters would not imprint cleanly and legibly. Aha! A new dead line was introduced regarding this far margin. If a printer dared to set type too far out there, he chanced death, so to speak. His letters would not be birthed on paper and remain stillborn in the rack. This deadline was also tied to space.Image result for old printing press gif

The final deadline is tied to time. It’s the time limit given for projects or admissions or sign ups. If you fail to submit something or finish something else by a given time, you’re dead. Actually you are just out of time, but we don’t say “He ran out of time” when someone dies. We say “He died”, or if you’re squeamish about death, you say, “He passed” as if he’s driving by in the fast lane. In the newspaper business and other media today, certain time limits must be met to make delivery or air time slots for breaking news. Thus the common use of deadline as we know it today.

Image result for walmart checkout line photosMy last unhelpful reference to the line of dead, has to do with actual death. If you picture an imaginary line that separates the living (also known as the quick, i.e., having blood flowing through them) from the dead, that would be the absolutely last deadline at the check out counter of life. Again, work with me on this one. Imagine a typical Super Walmart with 22 check out lines. Some are self check out, which is self explanatory. Those folks are in a rush to get out so they take matters into their own hands. Then there are the less impatient folks who have 15 items or less. They maybe have been smoking and drinking and living the fast life. They’re ready to go but still need someone’s help. Then there are the long lines with multiple carts lined up filled to the top with pastries, and fruit, milk and honey, multi-vitamins and cranberry juice. I want to be behind that guy when I get in my dead line. We all have to check out eventually, but I’m in no hurry.

Image result for oldest man in the world pictures

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659. Jan Be Wary

“I read your blog hoping to find a reference to me, but so far nothing!” said Jan to me at the after party of our final merengue dance lesson by Jose the Colombian dance king. I am not making this part up.

“Oh my dear child! You must be careful what you ask for!”

“What? Why?”

“Because, if I grant your wildly impulsive wish, you may, no… you will regret it.”

“Oh come on! I’ve read your blog and it is so crazily stream of conscious that no one would ever associate me with it…would they? And you only have three readers, right?”

“Consider the costs, Jan. Is this truly what you desire?”

“Wait, uh, um, I thought I did but now I’m getting cold feet. I, I, I mean for me this would be like the time I was working in the race pit back in California and Mario Andretti looked at me and said, ‘Hi, cutie.’ I was young and cute then. Now I’m just cute and it has been a diamond memory for me ever since. Many is the dark day when that ‘Hi, cutie’ gets me through another root canal experience in my tortured life. But you are insinuating that if I accept this hollow honor and join the Burritospecial Hall of Fame alongside Joel and Trump and the other crazies you have written about, I may live to regret it?”
“I insinuate nothing, my child. I guarantee you will rue this night for eternity. A slice of your soul is being embalmed at this intersection of history and hysteria, fate and faith, desire and destruction, ubiquity and soliloquy, inny and outy…”

“Stop!!! I feel I am being hypnotized by a python with a navel”

“Yes, Monte Python, my Eric Idol.  Now look!  I have no navel because I have no mother. I was hatched from a reptile’s egg.”

“You mean…we are all in some bizarre British comedy right now?”

“Precisely, Dearie. Only Rhesus monkeys are selling what you don’t want at their little booths and they speak no English nor do they accept cash. You must use Universal Sign language and imagination to charm these simians and barter your best deal.”

Oh, I don’t like the sound of that change in terms of endearment. I was ‘My Child’; now I am ‘Dearie’. What’s next, Old Broad?”

“Never, Jan. It would not be impolite; I am nothing if not polite. If I should be rude, I would be nothing more than a dubious double negative, inscrutable, forever an unsolvable conundrum.”

“Well, okay, if you say so. I was never too good with double negatives. I suppose I must just release my hibitions and forget the in. But we had it going on tonight, you know, the ‘Take Me Out To The Ball Game’ waltz? That was genius.”

“Yes, Aristotle said metaphor was the mark of genius.”

“Did he?”

“I’m not certain, I wasn’t there, but I read it in a book and it sounds so erudite. Why are you withholding my ten minutes of ignominy and other big words?”

“But, Burrito, I don’t see what I have to lose after my sanity is gone, and it’s leaking out pretty darn fast right now.”

“Your reputation, Jan. Be wary, always wary of the seemingly easy to pick, low hanging fruit.”

“What the hell does that mean?”

“Well, remember two years ago at this very house, the murder mystery play?”

“Yes, as clear as if it were a two year old memory in this very place.”

“Exactly. You were Polly Darton and I was Tron Javolta.”

“And Jeff turned out to be the murderer after much subterfuge and many red herrings.”

“Yes. I thought they were anchovies in the basement with a refrigerator.”

“No, they were Swedish fish in the study with a pipe.”

“In any event… the whole affair was fun because it was not obvious, no low hanging fruit. More like high hanging dates on tall palm trees.”

“And, I’m lost again. You are, whew, way over my head again.”

“Let’s reset at Mario Andretti in three, two, one. When I snap my fingers you will forget everything since that reference. Okay?”

“But I wasn’t going to remember it anyway. I mean you went on with that Monte Python thing and I…”

“Snap one!”

Shaking her head, dazed… “I feel I’m being hypnotized by a python with a navel.”

“Good, good. It’s working just fine. Now repeat after me.”

“After me, after me, after me…”

“I’d forgotten how literal you are, Jan.”

“After me, after me, after me…”

“Darn spell is stuck. Alex, a moment please?”

“Yeah, what’s up?”

“Jan is stuck in a hypnotic state. I hate to bother you on your birthday and all, but would you mind asking her when you were born?”

“Wait a minute. What the heck?”

“Just do it, Alex. It’s a medical emergency.”

“Okay, Jan. When was I born?”

“After me, after me, after me…”

“Man, this is freaking me out. She’s like a zombie.”

“No, it’s the mojitos.”

“We’ve only been here twenty minutes.”

“Her tolerance is way down ever since the murder mystery. She had the twins to carry. Remember?”

“Oh, well. Now I get it. Wasn’t she Dolly Parton?”

“Yeah, close enough. Do me one more solid, will you?”

“Sure. What?”

“Ask Connie to come over here.”

“Gotcha.”

“Now Jan, I want you to stand in front of the bathroom door. Okay?”

“Oh, Connie. We’re backed up here tonight due to a broken spell.”

“Whatdoyouwantmetodo?”

“First of all, slow down and articulate.”

“Okay, I’m just excited. That’s how Filipinos talk at parties. What do you want?”

“Ask Jan when you can use the bathroom.”

“Huh?”

“Just do it!”

“Jan, honey, Alex tells me you’re obliterated from half a mojito, girlfriend. I’m sorry for you, but I gotta know when I can use the bathroom.”

“After me, after me, after me…”

“That’s kinda cold, sister! Where are you going?”

Jan turns as I call out “Snap one!”

“After me, after me, oh… Where am I? What month is it?”

“Hmmm, Jan B. Wary. I told you so…so long ago.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

657. Life in Ten Minute Increments

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So lately the speed of life has been amped up to warp 9 speed. News and data and advertisements and media are coming at us faster than anyone can respond. Cell phones, texts, emails, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, YouTube…I can’t keep up. Maybe you feel the same?  So we react in knee jerks and head twitches as if we were running through a cloud of killer bees. Run, swat, duck, spit, zap, slap, smack, smear. Every ten minutes the political and cultural landscapes erode and crash into the warming seas of humanity that are also rising.

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Climate change is not just nature’s gig; human nature’s climate of civility and unity is likewise changing. I’ve seen videos of glaciers calving huge chunks of ancient ice the size of NYC apartment buildings. Indisputable evidence of global warming is terrifying and coming at us faster and faster, but I think the human blood warming is what will kill us sooner. Our current world is calving off stillborn ideologies of hatred and nativism, offering medieval solutions to evolving modern problems. The negative shock waves reverberate across the world instantaneously at 5G speed. That is faster than the speed of a high powered bullet incidentally, about 1500 miles per hour.

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I remember the Billy Joel song “We Didn’t Start The Fire”, and how it swells up with historical references faster and faster as his voice moves from a relaxed narrator to the desperate cry of a rape victim. Too much, it’s all too much, too fast.

We didn’t start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world’s been turning
We didn’t start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on

You are either the lightning quick or the dial up dead nowadays. (God, I miss the Slowski turtles!) The jungle has engulfed the so called “civilized” world not vice versa. The slow study of history nowadays seems to be a quaint exercise as well, like collecting stamps or commemorative spoons. Who uses stamps any longer in our instant, disposable world? The now yields to the next and then what? The next next next big thing in three, two, one. Image result for slowski turtles gif

Anxiety rages as frenzied person after frenzied person futilely tries to pour two liters of soda into a shot glass every ten minutes. The post office delivers on Sundays now. Gotta keep up with Fed Ex. Gotta go, go, go. All across America at huge warehouses beside interstates, zombified low wage employees mindlessly race around filling baskets of orders for trucks with tired drivers, impatient to pull away from the docks. Books, cosmetics, toys, clothes, candy, food, all ready to blast off somewhere fast. Welcome to the world of Amazon. It’s like fast food for shopping with all the profits going straight to the Bezosphere. Gone is the experience, the comparing, the touch, the trying on, the personal service and the waiting. Just slap it in and slap it out. Next. Get on to the next thing. The joy of anticipation is an anachronism, like some reference in Shakespeare. We have become craven cravers of constant consumption.

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What am I saying? I’m waiting for my next wine club shipment. I ordered on line and expect Fed Ex will deliver it to my door soon. Why? Price and selection mostly. I don’t like paying a lot of money for merely decent wine with a nice label. The intro sales pitch finally lured me in. I liked the first samples, but now I’m impatient for the second shipment to get here. My credit card has already been charged. I am my own enemy!!

63% Off Bottles of Wine from Winc

Time evaporates before our eyes. Back in the days of utopian and dystopian novels about the future, pictures of four day weeks and more free time were painted for the curious and naive readers. Leisure and luxury were inevitable as machines and robots did the repetitive tasks of labor. Unfortunately, due to the speed and greed of human nature, things have not worked out like that. A little snippet from CNBC confirms this ironic development.Image result for overworked employees pictures

Recent data indicates that the typical American worker is no longer adhering to an eight-hour workday. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American works 44 hours per week, or 8.8 hours per day. A 2014 national Gallup poll put the average number at 47 hours per week, or 9.4 hours per day, with many saying they work 50 hours per week.

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In demanding, competitive industries like tech and finance, professionals work in excess of 60 hours a week as a rule, and are available constantly by smartphone. A recent Bloomberg Businessweek story highlighted American factories where employees work upwards of 12 hours a day, six or seven days a week.

Image result for people dominated by machines picturesSo in the end, it looks we humans are working longer and harder for our labor saving machines. What? Just think about what you pay for your cell phone and cable/satellite television. Add in the Sirius XM radio. Are you around $400 per month? Oh, don’t forget to add your high speed internet. Today we labor longer so we can get the newest gadgets that we just can’t live without. Hmmmm, seems like a never ending self made prophesy and problem that only offers an illusory cure.Related image

Despite our ability to feed and educate the world’s population and inoculate every living being from historically established diseases, we don’t. It just does not suit us to help them, or for them to accept our infidel solutions. “It wonders me,” says the old Amish man as he lights his kerosene lamp for the evening, “why they can’t get satisfaction with all their gizmos and gadgets. I know the hurrier I go, the behinder I gets.”
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So I take a deeper deep breath and allow that simple, old wisdom to flow through me like a sedative. I don’t need faster… and neither do you. Let’s just stay in this ten minute frame until it bleeds into twenty and then forty minutes… just being more and doing less. Can I get an Amen?Image result for amen chorus pictures

 

658. Circle Game

Image result for kids napping picturesIt’s nap time for the grandkids upstairs. They blew in this morning with high voices and high spirits. After all, it’s a big deal for them to spend the night with us, especially since the prospect of heavy snowfall tonight is in the air. Two years ago they lived under our roof for most of a year, so our house, grandma Gaga, and I have a large bit of history in their short lives.

Vintage Playmobil Victorian Dollhouse 5300 With A Lot Of Extra PiecesGrandma keeps the Playmobil doll house permanently set up, so Max and Leah descend on it as they  drop their coats on the floor. Immediately they go to the fantasy land of moving all the pieces about in glorious child dramas. Max finds the grandfather figure and begins to explore the closed back of the house through him. Leah chooses a dominant female figure and begins to reorganize the various open rooms while narrating a story aloud, as Max inaccurately parrots her words. It’s a precious experience for them and us, that house within our house. Invisible bridge cables hold the two homes in a perfect balance.

image 0Usually, if I am invited into their doll house fantasy world, I play the bad guy who stands on the roof making rules that they gleefully break. “Grandpa, you be the mean man.” Leah has her jaunty character ride a spotted plastic horse up the side of the house and onto the roof. “No horse riding on the walls or roof!!”, barks the mustachioed man in a top hat. She giggles and continues galloping vertically until I snatch the rider and toss her off the roof onto the floor far below, well maybe 30 inches.  No matter. Another plastic person mounts the flying horse and canters up the wall while my control freak authority figure yells out happily ignored rules from the roof top. Giggles abound.Image result for gif playmobil france

Later we set up cars for Max to push around on his little garage/track kit. He likes the one with Oscar the Grouch at the wheel. Over and over again he pushes the miniature cars up and down the two ramps while making car noises. Occasionally he tries to force the too big car into the too small garage, and then he cries out for help. Most of the time he follows the laws of physics. Meanwhile, Leah continues to redesign the doll house. She is very precise, adding a tiny wreath to the front door with small wire ties and remarkable dexterity. I tell her that I’ve asked Governor Wolfe to postpone her sixth birthday, so that she cannot turn six in two weeks. She objects only slightly. Honestly, I’d love to put them both in permanent snow globes lit with incandescent joy, but I also know they are like unfurling hothouse roses that are just getting started in their majestic displays. What is yet to come charms me to wait.Related image

Max uses my binoculars to search the backyard for the dinosaur I told him that I had seen there in our last phone call. When he can’t find it, I begin tyrannosaurus rex noises and chase him into a bedroom. Hey, if they want to ride horses up the side of the doll house, then I can be a carnivorous dinosaur. Unfairness equally distributed is fair!  Kermit the dog insistently snuggles her head under my free hand or leg or any crevice available. It’s all good and richly rewarding. Where else could I possibly want to be?Related image

Max hits his endurance threshold and Grandma takes a pile of books with him to the bedroom for a curative nap. Leah hasn’t napped in years. She seems to have a sleep allergy and great contempt for naps. “Naps are for little kids, Granpa! I’m in kindergarten now.” We begin a jigsaw puzzle on the floor. It is recommended for ages 8 and up. I tell her she’s too young for such a hard puzzle, but she determines to prove me wrong. The border gets framed up in ten minutes and away we go snapping piece after piece together. It is strangely calming and satisfying to make order out of chaos on this cold, gray day. After about 40 minutes, however, she returns to Grandma’s I-Pad that is loaded with learning games she loves. My daughter Grace (their mother) and I continue with the mindlessly soothing puzzle task at hand. Time evaporates on this shrouded winter day. We recall doing 3-D puzzles in this same room 25 years ago, and the time/space continuum opens for us briefly. She is still my cherished little girl for five seconds.Image result for father and daughter doing jigsaw puzzle pictures

Metaphysically, in a far off emotional Swiss chocolate bank account, huge amounts of currency are being transferred across boundaries and borders of time and person; spiritual bit coinage arrives in the pit of my father/grandfather’s stomach like gold infused truffles. Up rise smiles and invisible tears of joyous gratitude. Snowflakes don’t always make it to the surface of the earth; nor do all tears make it to the tear ducts. Some light up photo cells of happiness and shine forth in rays of wonder.Related image

It’s the same house my girls grew up in, with the same play house and books. The parents are now grandparents and the children are now parents. The circle of life clicks ahead a  notch. Joni Mitchell’s Circle Game cycles in my memory banks.

“We’re captive on the carousel of time
We can’t return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game”Image result for joni mitchell photos

Now Joni is 75 and unhealthy, not the forever young blonde with forever in her voice. We all have our promises to keep, I suppose, as Robert Frost’s sleigh driver stated,

“The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.”
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She kept her grand promises to her grand muse. I just hope to keep my little promises to the little loved ones in their little world.

656. Somewhere Between

Image result for scarecrow photosSomewhere between the poison toothpick and the

Cold steel heart knife

You were impaled on the wooden spike

Of secret shameImage result for shame masks

 

It’s a shame you couldn’t wriggle off

Nor touch your feet to walk

With the spike splitting you in twoRelated image

 

To talk with someone

Would kill you suddenly

So you chose the quiet death of slowly choking

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Choking back the truth

The names and horrors ached

Like a broken tooth unmedicatedImage result for broken teeth pictures

 

Unmedicated? Not true, the alcohol soothed

The terrrible nightmares and vaporized

the horrible staresRelated image

The horrible stairs led in a spiral

Downward to destruction as toxic termites

Quietly fed on your soul’s timbers

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Timber! Down it all came one day

Lumberjack worms won

And you stood in shock and dismayImage result for shock faces

[Before a mirror– unable to look or look away]

 

In shock and dismay you began

Unable to make eye contact or hear

The horrible eyes and syllables of those daysImage result for eyes floating pictures

 

Those dazes of dissociation

When a tiny dancer had to hide

When werewolves razed her villageImage result for werewolves pictures

 

Her village where wolves today graze like sheep

Now perplexes wary witnesses

How could these sheepish wolves be predators?Image result for wolves in sheeps clothing images

Predators prey on those who pray in vain

Whose veins are broken by angry hands and

Impale their victims on wooden stakesImage result for pictures of impaled victims

 

On wooden stakes the shepherds watch their flocks

Of wolfsheep in pastures

“My sheep know me and I know my sheep”Image result for sheep attacking shepherd gif

 

“I know my sheep will morph and attack me

If I don’t play along”

Say the shepherds impaled on wooden stakes.Related image

 

And so we all wait.

 

 

 

 

655. Pardon Me

Image result for Paul mccartney images let it be

So my son in law sent me a nice Beatles mash up text of Let It Be lyrics.

“When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Russia comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, Covfefe.”

He cleverly exercised his First Amendment rights, and I chuckled. You know how I like a good lyrical mash up, so I got thinking about Let It Be’s melody for Trump’s Pardon Me swan song as he is dragged out of office. I kind of like it.

Image result for trump in jail gif
When he found himself in times of trouble
Paul Manafort came to me
Speaking words from prison, Pardon Me.
And in my hours of darkness
Stormy is mooning right in front of me
Extorting me for spooning, Pardon me.
Oh, pardon me, pardon me, pardon me, pardon me
Slippery words of fiction, pardon me
No confusion, no collusion, pardon me
***********************************Stormy Daniels slams Trump's request for nearly $350G in legal fees as 'grossly inflated'
And when the broken morals people
Living in the world agree
That will be my exit, pardon me
For because they are so stupid
There is still a chance they will forgive me
That will be Mike Pence’s cue to pardon me
Oh, pardon me, pardon me, pardon me, pardon me
Mike Flynn and Omerosa, pardon us three
But pardon me, pardon me, pardon me, pardon me
Wicked words of fiction, pardon me
Oh, pardon me, pardon me, pardon me, pardon me
Jared and Don, junior, pardon about all twenty
********************************
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And when collusion’s proven
Fox News will still shine on me
Shine on till tomorrow, pardon me
I wake up to the sound of footsteps
Robert Mueller comes to me
Speaking words like guilty, pardon me
Oh, pardon me, pardon me, pardon me, pardon me
Enough with the blank gaze, Mike, pardon me
Okay? Like now!!  Damn it, pardon me!!Related image
Won’t you pardon me, pardon me, pardon me?
Keep me out of prison, minions
Pardon me!!!!
I can’t breathe in this cell block
Pardon me!!!
Bubba and Gino
Are coming after me
I’m afraid to take a shower
Pardon me!!!!
These sheets are coarse and smell bad
I’ll never sleep a wink
No seat on the toilet
No plug in the sink
No stylist for my bouffant
Pardon Me!!!Image result for trump in jail gif
I’ll hit back harder
Pardon me.
I have Obama’s birth certificate
pardon me
who’ll run Miss Universe?
pardon me
I won by the biggest margin ever
pardon me
I’ve done nothing wrong but love you
pardon me
it was chuck and nancy
pardon me
I’m getting really really mad
pardon me
Michael Cohen snores
pardon me
I don’t share well
pardon me
there are germs in here
pardon me
I’ll show you my taxes
pardon me
I’ll even pay my taxes
pardon me
I’ll apologize to Rosie
pardon me
C’mon man!
pardon me

654. Coulrophobia

The concept of the evil clown is related to the irrational fear of clowns, known as coulrophobia, a neologism coined in the context of informal “-phobia lists”.Image result for evil clown faces

Well, sure. They are creepy. Our facial recognition section of our brains wants to identify the person in front of us. But clown face make up confuses the mind, presenting a mask over a face. Tension is created in the figure/ground struggle for certainty. And that’s where anxiety wells up– in the cycling uncertainty. Is that smile a pleasant greeting or an aggressive pre-bite display? Of course the white face makes any tone of skin appear ghostly or corpse like. So there is that tension as well. Is the painted face alive or dead, man or animal?

African wood mask, 'Praise God' - Handcrafted Circular West African Wall Mask in Red Tones

My mother-in-law has a series of death masks that hang in a vertical line in her family room. My girls were always both fascinated and afraid of these South American Indian masks. I believe in the same way that some folks are afraid of made up clown faces. Once again there is a struggle between two identities in play. In this case it would be the stylized carved or ceramic mask face on top and the dead human face beneath. Yep, disturbing. You cannot trust either face when they are competing for your recognition. Perhaps trust could come with a lengthy period of separation… but most folks don’t stick around so long peering under death masks.

The term “two-faced” conjures up negatives. According to YourDictionary, it means this…

The definition of two-faced is someone who is insincere or who acts one way in certain situations and then in a contrary manner in others. An example of someone who would be described as two-faced is a person who pretends to be your friend and then starts calling you names as soon as you leave the room.

Image result for two faced images

Certainly this sort of behavior creates confusion but maybe no fear and revulsion like masks do, but maybe not. I think it’s only when both faces can be seen at the same time that the confusion, terror and revulsion kick in. The two-faced gene seems to run in the families of politicians, who are famous for double talking and double walking.Image result for two faced images

In the same ball park of reference are the war painted Native American faces. Pretty wild and scary on first peek, I believe. But they get the job done. What job? you may ask.Image result for american indian war paint faces

In fashionencyclopedia, I found a connecting bit of explanation…

Indians used war paint to rally themselves for battle and frighten enemies, in the way sports teams wear the same uniforms. The Catawbas of the Southeast painted one eye in a white circle and another eye in a black circle. Louis Capron observed in the National Geographic Magazine article “Florida’s ‘Wild’ Indians, the Seminole” that for the Seminoles, red paint “signifies blood,” green paint near the eyes helps a person “see better at night,” and yellow paint is “the color of death” and “means a man has lived his life and will fight to the finish.”Image result for seminole indian warrior painted face
Now that is some scary messaging, if you ask me, even if you can wash it off later. But what about permanent ink, i.e., tattoos? That’s a life time commitment there, bro. You’d better tip your  tattoo artist well the first time.

Image result for warrior face tattoos

I would imagine that a single adversary would feel outnumbered by a double-faced opponent. If you slew one, there would still be another face to slay. That’s double the fighting. Double face duty is not limited to humans, no buddy. In Roman times they worshiped a minor god Janus, who had two opposing faces, and for whom this very month of January is named. Image result for janus god pictures

His super power was the ability to look into the future and into the past simultaneously. He was posted over doorways since you can go in or out of a doorway, i.e., forward or backward. Image result for two headed trump pictures

Which brings us to the main two headed clown, my favorite target because he is as easy to hit as the Pacific Ocean. Our Two Faced Clown in Chief who lacks the stones for a tattoo but puts on grease paint when he pretends to go on the warpath. As disturbing as a death mask and with delusions of divinity to boot, he continues to mask his true face, if it even exists. He was a liberal Democrat at one time when it was convenient. He discarded that mask around the time he discarded wife one. Then he became the caricature of a real businessman, huckster, charlatan, celebrity all rolled in to one nasty enchilada. Fake tan, fake hair, fake values define his fake narrative.  Later he emerged as a fake Republican conservative supported by hookers, frenzied fundamental Christians, Fox News, the Russians, and any conspiracy theorist you can name. A charming transformation if ever there was one.

This month the evil clown has shut down the federal government as some sort of ploy to make it appear that he has a modicum of governing power. However, after two years into his unplanned administration, we have one clown act after another jumping on and off the Trump Titanic. There is no doubt that the Cruise Ship Lollipop is going down in a fashion similar to Saddam Hussein, who was another blustering delusional dictator clown. Saddam and his sons were ground up by the folks they had oppressed forever. As the old saying goes, the last ten minutes of a dictator’s life aren’t nearly so glamorous.

Perdition comes to them all. Remember Baghdad Bob?  He was the original fake news anchor for Saddam Hussein. He promised the annihilation of the invaders of Iraq. Sort of their Sarah Sanders.

His pronouncements included claims that American soldiers were committing suicide “by the hundreds” outside the city, and denial that there were any American tanks in Baghdad, when in fact they were only several hundred meters away from the press conference where he was speaking and the combat sounds of the nearing American troops could already be heard in the background of the broadcast. 

Well, clowns, the drum beat of defeat is coming your way. No matter how you lie and posture, perdition is on its fiery steed trotting your way.Image result for sarah sanders pictures

The circus is over.

 

653. Bigly Wrong

Image result for Trump and lester holt pictures Lester, I’m pretty sure that what I said is not what I said about Rusher and the Comey thing. First of all, I’ve never been wrong, even when I’ve been caught doing wrong, it turned out to be a perspective thing not a legal thing at all.

Lester: But Mr. President, you did say…

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See what I mean? My lawyers tell me I’m so clean that I squeak. And when lawyers say squeak, what they really mean is roar. Now some of my lawyers turned out not to be squeaky clean. Like Michael Cohen; he was weak and bad. You see, he lied about me lying so I stiffed him because he failed me. He promised to take a high caliber bullet for me, but when the Mueller bullet came, he dodged it. Coward, big time coward who couldn’t take a bee bee shot.  I told Michael he shouldn’t have made campaign promises he could not keep. But that’s okay cuz I did nothing wrong. He took the Omerta oath, and he knows he did wrong. Loser. Bigly loser. 

Lester: Sir, the Comey affair, uh, the American people would like to know…

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You see, Lester, sometimes you have to stiff a disloyal subcontractor. You do this all the time at NBC, I’m sure. Some advertiser wants a better spot and you put them on at 1:00 a.m. We all do it, Lester. If you scratch my back, then I’ll scratch yours. Comey didn’t want to scratch me, so I fired him. That’s business and nobody knows business like I do. Even my nanny told me when I was doing my potty business that I was never wrong. I never missed. Not once, and this was an adult size toilet, mind you. Really tall, and I didn’t get a stool or some sort of help. No sir. My dad Fred wouldn’t hear of me being wrong or coddled. I’m self made through and through. When I wet my bed, it turned out –after a two year long investigation– that my Howdy Doody doll did it. So he was spanked and then hung and burned in Central Park as an example to all my other bedroom toys about colluding with Crooked Howdy Doody against Big Donnie Boy. I tell you what: it worked. No doll ever peed in my bed again! He was Fired!

Lester: Sir, sir, the firing of Director Comey seems to have been an effort to obstruct…

Image result for Trump and lester holt pictures

Construct, Lester, yes, construct. I’m glad you asked that question. It’s what I do. I build things. After the Howdy Doody doll incident I had our Jamaican gardener build a wall around my bed so that no other toys could sneak in and pee in my bed ever again. That’s when I began to obsess about the southern border wall. Not psycho obsess but like obsess over a super model, you know?  I guess I was five years old, before legos existed. I took a solemn oath:  No foreigners were going to come across my wall and pee in my bed ever again. So when I visited Moscow years back, I returned the Howdy Doody favor to the Russians in that hotel bed in that fake news dossier. Man it felt good, and I didn’t miss. That’s off the record, Lester. 

Lester: Mis, Mister President, these are appalling details that I’m certain will come back to haunt you…

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Lester, so many people attribute wrong doing to me, but they are wrong and doing irreparable harm to my squeaky clean reputation and this country when they wrongly accuse me of wrong doing. I live in the moment, in my own ten minute increments. Always have. What is Wrong? Really. One man’s wrong is another man’s crack bong. So I promise to sue my critics except I have to relent when my attorneys tell me I could be exposing myself to countersuits and truly bad people. So maybe I will and maybe I won’t.  Did you know in the discovery phase of a lawsuit that the other party can demand information from you? That’s illegal in my book. Suing should only be one way, like the Holland Tunnel. Terrible. Wanna  Big Mac? 

Lester: I, I, I don’t eat during interviews, Mr. President. 

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They’re safe. I have my Secret Service detail get fresh ones every day from a different McDonald’s so I can’t possibly be poisoned.  Some folks say I am a germaphobe. It’s not that I’m afraid of germs; I fear no man or animal. Rather, it’s that I am so clean I can’t have a single bacterium on my body, ever. I tan daily to kill off any skin parasites, followed by a full North Korean exfoliation regimen. I like to do this while watching Fox News during my executive time with Mike Pence on my lap. People ask me all the time, all the time, how I can have such puckery spring left in my lips without Botox. And what it is, Lester, honest, I can’t lie, it’s superior genes. The Nazis studied eugenics. They should have just waited to clone me. I’m high I.Q. and naturally foxy. Lester, touch my lips. Go ahead. See? Firm and supple, huh? You’d like to know where these lips have been, wouldn’t ya, dog?

Lester: Mr. President, I’m going to have to throw up, sir. I uh, just, um– (hurls into nearby  trash can.) I’m so sorry, sir. I’m feeling sheepish.Image result for lester holt sick pictures

Animals? Nah, I can’t be bothered with sheep, dogs or cats, rabbits either. I wouldn’t let my kids have one. Sure they cried, but I toughened them up like Fred did to me. Only one family member should be adored and catered to, and that’s me. Plus, they don’t vote so they can’t be part of my devoted base. Pets are like angry Democrats who flip when Mueller squeezes them. Not that I’m concerned about anything when I haven’t done anything wrong. I am incapable of doing wrong. My old doctor Billy Bob said so in his metaphysical report on me. And I  quote, “Mr. Trump is the greatest known human specimen I ever hope to examine.” Hard not to exaggerate when you’re looking at the Taj Mahal or the Trump Tower, huh Lester? See these hands?  No problem in that department either.Image result for trump hands pictures

Off the record?  Stormy was a steamboat going over Niagara Falls. Very steamy, eh, eh? You know what I’m saying, right, right?  Lester, some fries?Related image

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

652. Caitlan from Catalonia

Image result for puck from shakespeare pictures

Wearing a royal blue cotton cape over her normal black barrista attire, Caitlan rejected my Harry Potter reference. ” I was going for Stevie Nicks or a fairy. After all I am playing Puck in A Midsummer’s Night Dream. I’m half a fairy.”

“Well, you’re too tall for Stevie Nicks.”

“Wait, let me get down on your level. (Steps down 6  inches.) See? I’m short enough.”Image result for stevie nicks photos

“But can you sing?”

“One thing at a time, please. We were just doing height comparisons right now.”

“But you’re not blonde.”

“I used to be. I mean I had blonde highlights.”

“So you were a bottle blonde on a budget?”

“No. I recall from cosmetology school that I was a dark blonde on a scale of 10 for black and 1 for pure blonde, I think. Anyway I was a 7.” 8R, MEDIUM REDDISH BLONDE

“What about albinos? Why aren’t they a 1 or a 0? Why the discrimination?”

“Well, albinos would be platinum blonde or A 1 or 11, I can’t remember which way the scale went.”

“Sounds so bureaucratic, Caitlan, like a draft classification for the Army. ‘ The colonel needs an A 1 blonde for this tank in Iraq.'”

“Or a steak sauce. Who doesn’t like A 1 on a burger?”Image result for a 1 steak sauce pictures

Vegans.”

“I knew as soon as burger left my mouth that you were gonna say vegan.”

“You say burger, I say vegan…Burger, vegan. Burger, vegan. Burger…”

“Okay, okay. I have the concept. Is this the sort of crapola you put in your blog?”

“Yes. Mostly it’s about Trump hating and Joel baiting. I enjoy riffing on both of them. I am a small man filled with too much time, bitterness and vinegar envy.”

“But you must be pretty techno savvy, though, yes?”

“No. I actually just do word processing. I have a guy in Romania whom I have never met that uploads and monitors my blog traffic.”Image result for computer hacker pictures

“Do you get a lot of traffic, I mean on your Romanian directed blog site?”

“Only the occasional stray feral goat or escaped convict looking for a new identity. My lawyer tells me I should post a sign that says, ‘Caution: feral goats and escaped convicts may cross this path. I cannot be held responsible for damages due to them or loose shopping carts.’ My Romanian IT guy says it’s like being a traffic cop in Death Valley. No speed bumps on that road. People are speeding to get out of there.”Image result for picture of death valley traffic cop

“So has Joel ever sued you for slandering him?”

“Since he is also my personal attorney, he cannot sue me. That would be a conflict of interest. Plus he knows only about three people ever read my stuff, and they are all inmates at the state psychiatric hospital, so he feels the risk/reward trend line curves in his favor.”

“But you pillory him. I mean, mockery is too nice for what you have done to Joel.”Image result for pillory pictures

“I like that word pillory. Touche, Caitlan of Catalonia!!”

“Wait…what? Catalonia? Explain.”

“It’s euphonic. Sounds nice. Plus, if you were a fairy fencing expert, I imagine you would hail from Catalonia, which is in northeastern Spain. Instead of a Zorro Z, you would carve a CC on the chests of your less skilled adversaries.”

“Wow, did you just make that up? I mean the cape and the fairy stuff and the euphonics?”

“Give the coffee partial credit. I’m more radioactive in the mornings. I get worn down by late afternoon. Age discriminates against the decaffeinated elderly.”Related image

“Well, yeah. But mileage discriminates against car tires too. It wears them down.”

“Touche again, Caitlan of Catalonia! I am going to my office and write CC on my chest with a red Sharpie. You have pierced me to the quick once more with your wit and cavalier insouciance.”

“I’m still a bit confused here with the Catalonia thing. Plus, I don’t know what you just said.”

“Have you ever watched the children’s show Alena of Avalor? It was a favorite of my granddaughter.”

“I think my niece watched it sometimes.”Image result for elena of avalor pictures

“Well, she is a power Disney princess from an intentionally vague Latin American land. Let me quote from the very unbiased and highly respected journal Disney Examiner

“I hope the show teaches and emphasizes to all girls that being a princess is so much more than pursuing and focusing on what you look like on the outside, but more so, pursuing the best version of yourself by seeing your own potential, choosing kindness, and treating others with great respect and compassion. To all the ladies out there, know that you, as a young girl or woman, CAN be great and CAN make a huge impact in whatever you do.”

“Sounds like a Miss America finalist’s pledge in the knockout phase, where the cosmetological wonder woman says it’s not about looks or her awesomely delicious figure; it’s about being faithful to her cross stitching that brings her purpose and true worth.”

“Now who is bitter and vinegary?”

“You are a terrible influence!”

“Oddly a minister’s wife once told her husband that same thing about me.”

“Really? Why?”

“Well, she was as rigid as I was gelatinous.”

“Oh my! That’s a bad combo.”

“Yes, but it gets worse. You see she worked at the big trash landfill. I called to speak to her husband one Saturday and she answered the phone. I pretended to be a customer complaining about why my trash was not picked up. Instead of checking caller i.d.  she asked what side of Route 30 I lived on. I told her the south side and she replied that pick up was Monday. I thanked her and hung up. Though it was her day off and she was at home, duty called and she dutifully answered the phone. So you see, someone like me was a serious threat to someone like her.”

“No kidding. Is anyone safe from your predations?”

“Only the pups of the mythical beast Chupacabra.”

“Why only them?”

“Dear Caitlan of Catalonia, they don’t exist, that’s why. They are figments of fearful desert dwellers on pitch black nights.”

“If I only knew what Latin American country I was from, I’d go slay that beast and free the people of my land.”

Now you’re sounding like Stevie Nicks. ‘ Would you stay if she promised you heaven, will you ever win? Aleeeeeeena.'”Image result for stevie nicks singing pictures

“Oh no, you set me up again!”

“Your trash pick up is Tuesday, Caitlan of Catalonia. Don’t be late or alonia.”

“I know: euphonics.”

 

 

 

651. Dormant

Image result for dormant bear picturesHere we are in another new year. It was very busy at Planet Fatness last night as I did my post holiday penance… 20 squats, 20 pull ups, 20 military presses, etc. Two miles on the stationary bike. What sins were being expiated?  Chocolates, cheeses, short ribs, beef Wellington, whiskey, wine, bread, brunches, dips and chips, and more of everything. Movies and football games, pinochle, Scrabble, and books consumed as well. Basically I was on the Sumo wrestler diet minus the wrestling.

Related imageNo blog posts. I wasn’t feeling it. Dormant, you see. I could have written about the poinsettia that my wife nursed through the past year; how it turned flaming red in late November without any artificial interventions. Even today it is thriving, demanding our awe. I took a picture instead. Could have written a snarky post about the matching toilets my wife and I gifted each other with. My son in law installed them on Christmas Eve. Isn’t that your holiday tradition? They are nice little thrones for the king and queen of farts, I mean hearts.  There was the huge bonfire of summer and fall’s yard waste that could have been seen from the moon. A pile the size of a beached narwhal was reduced to mere inches of charcoal and ash after a few hours of ten foot flames. You could have read the New York Times in its entirety by the light of those flames. Meanwhile the Burrito was taking a nap in the back of a cave full of flickering shadows, defragging and resetting along with the warming planet.Related image

Funny thing is that I often write when I have a lot of nothing to say and no time to do so. What? You already knew that? When I have the time to craft a post, I do something else instead. Busy people get more done, right? Or is it that they just blast out a lot of rough drafts with no time to finesse them? Perhaps the urge to write comes from a void which, once filled with food, fun, friends and family, disappears. If you are living in the moment, then you are not writing about it from a distant observation point. Introverts have such observation decks they are naturally drawn to, but I am not an introvert. Unlike introverts at overlooks beside the Grand Canyon, taking pictures or sketching, I’m drawn to the words, like so many paint colors to play with. I rappel down the sheer canyon cliffs of craggy topics.  Like primitive or naive art, my writing is not sophisticated. I know that. It’s more cave dweller scribbles waiting to be decoded in a thousand years. Instead of sophistication, blobs of red and blue words run together into mauve and purple sentences, dripping down in seemingly random patterns. Jackson Pollack threw paint in wild frenzies. I guess I mention him because I often throw words onto white space without much premeditation, and then feel some wonder at their power and beauty. It’s not about my skill; the words still shine like mosaic tiles even if a monkey put them there.Chimp art (Painting by a chimp using his tongue.)

Dormancy originates in the Latin verb dormire, “to sleep”. It’s a temporary time of slowed activity that conserves energy. Fruit trees and mammals are dormant or hibernating right now. Not dead, mind you, just suspended till late winter when the bright sunlight will awaken them once more. You remember the Frere Jaques song in kindergarten. He was the sleepy priest.Image result for picture of frere jacques

Frère Jacques,
Dormez-vous ?
Sonnez les matines !
Ding, daing, dong !

So I’m in good company, I suppose, if he’s not one of those creepy priests. Conserving energy as the morning bells are ringing.  In no rush whatsoever. That old song sends me back to long ago on a play ground behind St. Louis Elementary School near Groveton High School, south of Alexandria. I have some dormant memories of playing Red Rover and trying to break through the arms of some cute girls in funny coats. I don’t recall if I managed or not. I just recall my name being shouted, and off I ran full tilt into the arms of glory. Girls from our neighborhood got prettier at school somehow, despite the hideous green plaid jumpers and white blouses. Like the nuns who waddled about in their wimples, uniformity was the thing then. The Conformity Iceberg in the 1960’s was melting away, but not in Catholic schools. Nosirreee.

Well, not exactly. I’ve forgotten their names from so long ago, but I do recall the maculate scandal when a young priest, let’s call him Father Froggy and a young nun, Sister Impatience, became entwined in their habits and had to leave the land of penguins and undertakers. Love was exploding all around then. It could have been 1967. Norms and conforms were breaking apart as hemlines rose higher and higher. Sex and drugs and rock n roll were all a body needs, so it seemed.

Ian Drury wrote about such things a decade later in 1977.Image result for ian dury and the blockheads pictures

Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Is all my brain and body need
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Are very good indeed
Keep your silly ways or throw them out the window
The wisdom of your ways, I’ve been there and I know
Lots of other ways, what a jolly bad show
If all you ever do is business you don’t like
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Is very good indeed
Image result for ian dury and the blockheads pictures
Every bit of clothing ought to make you pretty
You can cut the clothing, gray is such a pity
I should wear the clothing of Mr. Walter Mitty
See my tailor, he’s called Simon, I know it’s going to fit
Here’s a little piece of advice
You’re quite welcome it is free
Don’t do nothing that is cut price
You know what that’ll make you be
They will try their tricky device
Trap you with the ordinary
Get your teeth into a small slice
The cake of libertyImage result for ian dury and the blockheads pictures
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex and drugs and rock and roll
Sex, drugs, rock, roll, sex, drugs, rock, roll
Time to wake up, I suppose.