669. Fruitless Tomato Plants

Image result for sickly tomato plants picturesI’m not saying my folks were dumb, but I do recall we planted tomatoes on the shady east side of our boxy house one summer because the soil was slightly less crummy and a bit more damp. Problem was a lack of sunlight, one of the key ingredients in growing plants as you may recall from fourth grade science class, photosynthesis. We watered and weeded and maybe even fertilized with Miracle Grow or something. Not surprisingly only spindly tomato plants grew, producing next to no fruit. Not dumb, no, but persistently incompetent.

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Our adjoining neighbors planted tomatoes on the sunny west side of their house and across the backyard where full sun was available. Lo and behold, they had big tomatoes and lots of them. Our neighbor, Nora Cooper, had a green thumb, so my mother proclaimed. She could grow strawberries and lettuce without even trying.  It’s amazing what sunlight will do for a gardener’s reputation. Again, I’m not saying anything about the commonsense of my folks, but we did plant tomatoes on the east side the next year as well, and then got out of the tomato business.

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If something is broken and you keep fixing it and it’s still broken, well, you know what I’m saying. STOP!! Put your shovel down and realize that the more you dig, the bigger the bigger the hole you need to climb out of. As kids we dug with sticks and spoons and hand spades, hoping to find gold in the hard orange clay of northern Virginia. I don’t think there was any topsoil spread on our housing development. You had to make your own, and we lacked compost and horse poop.  Seems so very simple nowadays. Back in the 1960’s simple problems seemed harder to percolate than that orange clay in August.

Image result for catholic school elementary kids picturesWe had to go to St. Louis Catholic School. Had to. It’s what Boston Irish Catholic parents did to their children, hoping one would become a priest. That honor was supposed to be mine, but I managed to escape the leaden crown. Public school was somehow judged to be inferior by my parents, who really could not afford to send four boys to private school, not on one parent’s modest government salary. When the school started to charge a monthly bus fare for bus riders, well, the wheels came off the bus so to speak. We had to walk, no lie, a couple of miles with a book bag over the shoulder, not a cool back pack like kids have today with key chains and stickers all over them. The neighborhoods we walked through had no sidewalks. The four of us were supposed to stick together and walk along the edge of the less busy roads. You know how that goes, right? One boy is in the ditch looking for frogs and another is throwing stones to splash muddy water on his brother’s white shirt. Some mornings my dad would drop us off on Route 1 and we’d walk the rest of the way, but only some times. Part of me thinks of the futility of it all, when one block away was our neighborhood public elementary school. It’s not like we had to break the ENIGMA code.

Image result for virginia hills elementary school virginia photos with studentsFinally in sixth grade, the iceberg of stupid melted and I could simply walk a block to school or ride my bike. No tuition or bus pass needed. No uniforms. Just regular clothes and much less rigor. No nuns or penguin terror. No morning mass or religious demands. Nope, life was a lot less constricting after that move. In some ways I felt like a tomato plant that finally got into the sunlight. I also realized how dumb my neighborhood friends were. In fact, Charlie was so dumb that he had to take a short bus to another school for special classes every day. You never would have known that by the way he expertly blew smoke rings or talked in his cocky way after school. I did not realize that we were homogeneously grouped until decades later. I just thought the other sixth grade class had all the tough guys in it.Image result for gang members group pictures

Imagine the total savings that were gained by simply walking to a local public school instead of riding a bus in uniform to a private school times four. On top of that, my mother went to work full time for the Department of Defense. It was 1967 and Vietnam was hot, like Agent Orange hot. I don’t recall a great spike in our family’s lifestyle despite being a two income home. What I do recall is my parents were just tired all the time. Tired parents are easier to fool I soon learned. Image result for edith and archie bunker pictures

Our brand new junior/senior high school was not ready at the start of the next year, so the school district decided to double shift my student body with existing schools. We drew the 12:00 noon till 4:30 shift, which allowed us to hang out and play football in the mornings. Full school days began in January of that school year in our massive new building with no roots. Everything was new, new, new…true, but there is something to be said for established traditions and relationships. That word rootless resonates as a dark truth to me. Not ruthless, but there is a thread that connects the two ideas.Image result for tumbleweed gif

Ruth means “compassion for the misery of another”. It’s also a woman in the Bible who refused to abandon her mother-in-law after her own husband died, i.e., she was full of compassion for Naomi, her m-in-law. Ruthless is to lack compassion for the misery of another. So how does one get from rootless to ruthless? If you lack roots and depth  yourself, you will blow with the wind like a tumbleweed and lack compassion for others. In rootedness comes the ability to stand firm and comfort someone in pain and misery, to be ruth. Ruthlessness thrives in tumbleweed populations, like uprooted refugees and manchildren in our broken cities. Even a tomato plant knows this truth.

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If you are going to bear fruits, you better have roots.

668. El Zorro Plateado

Image result for scottish man in cap picturesWhile catching up with Joel this morning at the coffee shop, I had an epiphany of sorts. After years of me cajoling and ridiculing him for being the legal equivalent of a turkey buzzard who swoops in on the estates of elderly folks, to pick the lucrative flesh from the still warm bones, he surprised me today. Following the usual weekend update and fact check, Joel said something about doing his bit for the refugees. I may have provoked him with my comment about Venezuelans being victims on the one hand in their homeland, but, ironically, if they attempted to seek asylum in the U.S. they would be branded as terrorists and criminals. In any event he hit me with his intent to go down to the border and do some pro bono legal work for the refugees.

Image result for sonny bono picturesBS, “You realize that pro bono does not mean you get to meet Cher or take a pilgrimage to Sonny’s crypt in Palm Springs, right?  It means “for the good”, i.e. free. No payola. Shekelless?  No euros. Doink drachmas. Nada yuans? Zero yen. Zip florins. Nyet rubles.”

Joel, “YES!!, I’m fully aware of the meaning of the phrase and its intent.”

BS, “And you know there will be no exchange of money for services?”

Joel, “Of course.”

Image result for Scrooge picturesBS, “I need a minute to absorb all this cognitive dissonance, Joel. I’m experiencing a miracle in front of me as you transform from Ebenezer Scrooge into Mother Teresa. What was in my whole grain breakfast cereal this morning? LSD? I must be trippin’. OR was my honey CBD infused?”Image result for mother teresa pictures

Joel, “It may seem out of character to you, but I’ve been reading that book you loaned me and it’s made a big impact on me.”

BS, “Ah, yes. Atul Gawunde’s Being Mortal. It hit you in the sweet spot, eh? Feeling a bit more mortal, are you?”

Joel, “I find it profound yet simple in many ways. He just asks the right question: What do dying people need? Not what does a nursing home need or the extended family or the doctors or state. It comes down to purpose and dignity, doesn’t it?”Related image

BS, “Who are you? At any moment I expect you will rip off your Brooks Brother pinstriped shirt and expose a huge PL on your tie dyed tee shirt!”

Joel, “PL?”

BS, “Progressive Liberal.”

Joel, “Oh, yes. They call them libtards on Facebook.”

BS, “Yes, there is no middle ground any longer, is there?”

Joel, “I was once a moderate Republican in a simple red, white and blue leotard. Now I’m a libtard, probably a pink one at that.”

BS, “Okay, enough sulking, Joel. You need to get to the border and start your magic. Stop your coffee shop commiserating and get down to El Paso on the next train.”Image result for 3:10 to yuma stills

Joel, “I have frequent flyer miles to use with Southwest.”

BS, “You’ll need someplace to stay, like Bobby Kennedy did with Ceasar Chavez. Man, it’s like the Sixties all over again, buddy. I’m really stoked for you.”

Joel, “I’ll stay at a Hilton, thank you.”

BS, “But your dad was a career Motel 6 guy, or have you forgotten?”Image result for motel 6 photos

Joel, “Of course not! I’ve just become accustomed to certain creature comforts.”

BS, “Oh, a bourgeois socialist snowflake libtard, eh. Too good for Motel 6. What kind of revolution are you selling here, Joel? How committed are you if you sleep on a squishy Stearns and Foster mattress while your incarcerated clients toss and turn on cold concrete slabs?”

Joel, “There you go again! If I’m tight, you ridicule me. If I’m generous, you mock me.”

BS, “You are right, buddy. I was not beaten enough as a child… and you know why? Cuz I wouldn’t sit there and take it. What sort of idiot sits and takes a beating?”

Joel, “The compliant sort who want to go into law. Anyway, I’ve decided if I can eek out two weeks between my Morocco and Italy trips, then I’m going to the border to do my professional duty and bring justice to bear for those asylum seekers.”Image result for judge roy bean stills

BS, “I am in awe, sitting in the presence of a great man whose very shadow I am not worthy to wear.”

Joel, “Well, that’s more like it. You know some people actually respect me.”

BS, “Those are your mental health competency clients before you return them to the state hospital. They are angling for freedom. I don’t blame them for blowing smoke up your butt.”

Joel, “Must you?”

BS, “I must. Here’s my concern, though, big guy.”

Joel, “Just say it. I don’t want to extend this conversation further with questions.”

BS, “You need a nick name. In Central and South America every name has a diminutive form of some sort, you know like here in the states Barbara is Barb, and Theodore is Ted, William is Billy, that sort of thing.”Image result for billy gif

Joel, “Yessss, I see your point though I am loathe to admit it.”

BS, “But I don’t think there is a direct correlative for Joel. So what if we call you Tito?”

Joel, “No. It sounds like a Cuban horn player.”

BS,”El Chapo?”

Joel, “Taken.”

BS, “How about perro grande, i.e., Big Dog?” Image result for large dog pictures

Joel, “Warmer, but I want a name that inspires a bit of reverence for my cleverness and experience. The Gray Ghost, or the Pewter Wizard.”

BS, “I’ve got it. Perfecto.”

Joel, “I’m afraid to ask.”

BS, “Go ahead.”

Joel,”Arrrrgh. Okay, what’s my legend name?”

BS, “Hold on to your iced tea. El Zorro Plateado, the Silver Fox.”Image result for silver fox pictures

Joel, “Hmmmm. I like it. Lots of syllables, sexy, mysterious too.”

BS, “And here’s the other angle. After you do your two weeks of free service, we buy air time in El Paso and flood late night t.v. with commercials for a new antacid called….”

Joel, “El Zorro Plateado!! Guaranteed to soothe intestinal turmoil or your visa back.”

BS, “At $19.99 plus shipping and handling we know you’ll want a second bottle, so we are going to send you one ABSOLUTELY free. Just pay additional shipping and handling.”

Joel, “What do you think we can charge per order?”

BS, “An even $100. One Benjamin Franklin.”

Joel, “What about a male enhancement serum for $39.99. The silver fox strikes again!”

BS, “Now you’re talking the bono side, baby, like a pro.”Image result for sonny bono pictures



667. The Promised Land

Related imageBruce is at it again, tearing up my mood with his raspy raw truth voice. Shredding my state of mind like my paper shredder at home cuts up and disposes of old credit card and bank statements to prevent identity theft at landfills… yeah, he has always been able to do that, i.e., move me from where I am to someplace else. Where I was…was stuck in a hopeless state website yesterday with the caps lock on. My password was case sensitive, which I could not see as the keystrokes kept turning into little dots per letter. There is something about bookkeeping and website navigation that vibrates my last nerve. The never nerve. When it vibrates I can only think of one syllable curse words. All other words disappear as I shift down into monosyllabic gear. Just beware if you encounter me in an angry fugue state muttering, “never, never, neffer” to myself with a glazed look in my eyes. So I was glad to have Bruce rescue my deep fried clam basket brain with a song.Image result for panic stricken man face

On a rattlesnake speedway in the Utah desert
I pick up my money and head back into town40 years ago, Bruce Springsteen and Steven Van Zandt drove through the Utah and Nevada deserts. The Boss wrote about what he saw in one of his masterpieces.
[Bruce’s driver narrator won the illegal drag race, I guess.]
Driving ‘cross the Waynesboro county line
I got the radio on and I’m just killing time
Working all day in my daddy’s garage
Driving all night chasing some mirage
Pretty soon little girl I’m gonna take chargeImage result for desert drag racing images
[I know, it’s “Born To Run” in the Southwest, a car instead of a motorcycle. He’s stuck and making promises to his side chick.]
The dogs on Main Street howl
‘Cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister I ain’t a boy, no, I’m a man
And I believe in a promised land
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[Our antihero is understood by dogs but not by men. Okay, dogs are less judgmental. I grant that. The Mister he’s barking at seems like “The Man”, you know, Authority. Or his dad.]
I’ve done my best to live the right way
I get up every morning and go to work each day
But your eyes go blind and your blood runs cold
Sometimes I feel so weak I just want to explode
Explode and tear this whole town apart
Take a knife and cut this pain from my heart
Find somebody itching for something to start
[I know, it’s very general and vague. What is killing this kid? His own expectations maybe. Anger at the status quo. Very James Dean.]Image result for james dean in rebel without a cause photos
The dogs on Main Street howl
‘Cause they understand
If I could wrench one moment into my hands
Mister I ain’t a boy, no, I’m a man
And I believe in a promised land
[Now comes the dramatic climax: our antihero is gonna launch like a rocket across the salt flats into the Promised Land, wherever that is… just away from where he is. Problem is, no matter where you go, you’re still there. So if the problem is you, well, it’s your constant companion, your shadow. Apparently he wants to be a man somewhere else. ]
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Well there’s a dark cloud rising from the desert floor
I packed my bags and I’m heading straight into the storm
Gonna be a twister to blow everything down
That ain’t got the faith to stand its ground
Blow away the dreams that tear you apart
Blow away the dreams that break your heart
Blow away the lies that leave you nothing but lost and brokenhearted
[Since we don’t know the source of his anguish, we can only watch dumbstruck as he hauls off into the storm.  Maybe he becomes the storm.”Now I wonder what was eatin’ at Will’s boy? Look at him go, will ya? Yikes, he’ll be in Vegas by midnight.”]Image result for car driving into tornado pictures
The dogs on Main Street howl
‘Cause they understand
If I could take one moment into my hands
Mister I ain’t a boy, no I’m a man
And I believe in a promised land
And I believe in a promised land
And I believe in a promised land
[I wish dogs could talk. Perhaps they could decode the super angst in search of a cause. No matter– teenager powerlessness is ironically powerful like gasoline fumes.]
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Such intensity boils over and leaves me just about as frustrated as when I was talking to the lady who works for the state licensing agency after I could not “navigate” the hopelessly inadequate website, which is the only way to renew one’s license. Paper and mail are no longer options. Like the angry young mechanic/drag racer in Bruce’s song, I am flailing at something that only dogs understand. My old guy cyber inadequacy just lacks the verve for a rock anthem, however.
Well, maybe not. Let me see what I can muster.
On a laptop computer on the second floor
I  pound on the mouse and head for the door
Crossin’ Main Street traffic to my favorite joint
Workin’ all day long, man, what’s the point?
I swear when I get my licensure straight
Gonna’ drive all night to the Golden Gate
Listen, Lady, I aint a boy, no I’m a man
And I believe in Retirement
Before my knees are blown
And my back is spent
I just need to get 
To Retirement
Yes I believe in Retirement
Yes I believe in Retirement
I know, I know. It needs some work.
A little research informed me that there is no Waynesboro County in Utah or Nevada. It was just a line in Springsteen’s mind that he crossed on a desert drive long ago when his recording contract was in legal limbo. He was artistically locked and loaded, but hamstrung by his contract, as lawyers feuded. Now I get the angsty nature of it all. Amen.Image result for Springsteen pictures in 1980
Thank God for James Taylor next up in the cue to soothe me and chill out the mood with “Going to Carolina”.

666. You know, that one.

The beast 666 comes out of the seaInevitably the number must come up if you count long enough. You can’t skip it like the 13th floor in an office building due to the self evident fact that no office building has ever had 666 floors. It has a greater significance than 665 or 667 put together and multiplied by 2. It is the name of the Beast in the Book of Revelation.

…rather than being something literal such as a 666 tattoo, the mark of the beast symbolically identifies those who let the political system rule their lives. Those with the mark of the beast place themselves in opposition to God.​.. (according to the Jehovah’s Witnesses).

Image result for roulette wheel imagesIn the number business of the Bible, 7 is God’s perfect, complete number. 6 is close but incomplete, thus no cigar. 3 x 6 is not 18, Biblically speaking, but 666, i.e., utter futility in opposition to God’s power and authority. On a side note: this makes me wonder about two games of chance. Blackjack uses 21, (3×7) as the unbeatable pairing, if you are the Dealer, which is God times 3. And in Roulette the total of all numbers on the wheel adds up to 666. I’m not saying there is a connection here, but I’m not saying there isn’t one. Superstitious folks can weave the connections while I surgically plow forward with this post.Image result for black jack pictures

Also it [666 BEAST to be announced] causes all, both small and great, both rich and poor, both free and slave, to be marked on the right hand or the forehead, so that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name. This calls for wisdom: let the one who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man, and his number is 666.  [Rev. 13.]

Image result for photos of super walmartsI will only speculate that the beast is actually WalMart and the number is a universal bar code that all humans will one day possess on their left hand for easy scanning when they pick up groceries, tires, paint, dental implants, fire extinguishers, and whatever else their little enslaved minds can think of. It is essentially an EZ pass system like you use on bridges and toll roads today… i.e., my way on the highway. Cue up Elvis. On their way out of the Superstore no cash or card will be needed. Instead, their bar coded left hand or shoulder will be scanned by a robot that will automatically deduct the total from the dystopian customer’s universal One World Bank account in Geneva.

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Don’t fret, I have the advanced study of numbers, called numerology, on my side, dear red-eyed, lobotomized blog glazers. You see, if you assign the numerical value to each letter in WALMART, as follows…

W= 23




A= 1



and so forth, you can arrive at 66 with some contortionist tricks that Harry Houdini would be proud of. Image result for harry houdini picturesAdding all the numerical values together, you will arrive at a sum of 88. The key to solving this mystery, one that has eluded scholars for centuries, is the value of the A, or Alpha. Notice there are two A’s. Added together, i.e. “gathering the two’s”, you will arrive at the sum of two.

Image result for alpha imagesNow this is key:  In ancient pre-Babylonian texts, astronomers who had first hand contact with alien card sharks knew that 2 was the DEDUCER or “Deuce” as it was later known in card games. In Kabbalistic writings of the Middle Ages it was suggested strongly that when any other numerical gerryrigging failed, the practitioner should always “Dedeuce the answer”. Thus, with great and omniscient pedagogy behind me, I offer this deduction.

(8-2= 6 + 8-2= 6 + 8-2= 6)

Image result for minoans and the minotaur imagesTaking into consideration that the very advanced Minoans added in vertical columns, we arrive at the beastly number of 666, which was also the room number of the Minotaur in his Maze Hotel. When it bellowed for room service, Greek youths shuddered to answer, knowing that they were on the menu. Thus, the number of the Beast. At last! This method of reductionism productionism is not a mere parlor trick to be played by five drunk people and one sober mathematician in a prison beauty parlor. No!! It is quasi-scientifico-religio-magico pluralism. And it always works. Always.

Let’s take the name of songstress Etta James, famous for “At Last!”, as our next example.Image result for etta james pictures

E= 5




J= 10

A= 1


E= 5


Our total is 94 this time. However, if we invert the 9 by 180 degrees, we will have our first 6. Then, using the rule of two’s, we add the A values together in the tens column with the existing 4 and get our second 6, thus birthing another 66. I know, I know!! It’s incredible. All these centuries and it was hiding in plain sight. The Minotaur in the room, so to speak. Now, following the Minoan vertical column addition practices of the 6th century B.C., before Columbus, Image result for christopher columbus pictureswhich would be about 892 A.D. during the spread of Islam across the Mediterranean region, original Rhodes scholars tell us the 6 was implied or silent in the hundreds column. Thusly, we have dedeuced another 666.

Image result for ancient greek youths whispering to one another picturesBecause the number was so scary to say, devout Minoans would often say 555, leaving it up to the listener to add the 111 when referencing the Beast and taking on the onus of the implied blasphemy. Sometimes it turned into an intellectual game of the dozens. At other times it was blood sport… in the lobby of the Maze Hotel.

Aretheus, “Atticus, it’s for you. Dude says he’s the Minotaur and he’s hungry.”

Atticus, “Aretheus, I got your 222, my brother.”

Aretheus, “I’ll double that and give it back to you, my man.”

Atticus, “No bro, I’m gonna divide and conquer by deucing you. I’m a give you back a 333.”

Aretheus, “Uh uh, Atticus. I’m giving you my 555 plus your 333 minus the original 222. Gotcha, bro. I’m zeroing out.”

Atticus, “But, but, I can’t go in. I’ll never come out again, Aretheus.”

Aretheus, “I know, man. My grandma went to Walmart ’bout three years ago. Ain’t nobody heard from her since.”

Atticus, “I was never good in math, man.”

Aretheus, “Don’t cry, bro. Here, eat these garlic cloves.”

Atticus, “Will they save my life, brother?”

Aretheus, “No, but they will give him bad breath.”

Atticus, “Molon labe!”


665. Truth Full Relations

Related imageIt’s a slippery slope, I know, to tackle a topic that runs out of the backfield like Jim Brown in his prime. You know there will be a collision and it will hurt. You also know that if you don’t stick your head into the elusive runner, that the guy in the orange and white uniform will be standing in the end zone in 4.4 seconds. Game over. Too bad so sad. Image result for jim brown action photos

So let me write in vague generalities to avoid stepping on fragile fried egos and pickled minds. Allegory and parables and fables work well. My children, gather round as I share a fable very loosely based on a true story.

Image result for king mango picturesOnce upon a time there was a bad king with orange hair who lied and lied and surrounded himself with liars and thieves. They huddled together in a big white house in the middle of a diamond-shaped swamp where they plotted how to rob from the poor and give more and more to the rich. The bad king took away poor people’s civil rights and insurance coverage, and gave huge tax cuts to rich corporate folks like himself. King Mango the Magnificent also surrounded himself with cable news celebrities like Dawn Shannity and the ice queen, Can I Assaulter. All these thieves and liars took turns whispering into King Mango’s ears. Some even turned pop songs into political mashups. “It’s all about the base, the base, the base, no trouble.” Sang Dora Dinglham.Image result for fox news celebrities gif

Now King Mango smiled like a crocodile and made funny faces that must have been cute when he was three years old, make that one, but seemed preciously infantile in a 71 year old leader of the free world. Behind his back many of these same sycophants would also sing a child’s nursery rhyme that went like this…Image result for king trump pictures

KID 1, “Uhhhmmm, what’s a sick o’fant? Is it like a sick infant?”

Yes, Billy. Correct. One that has been torn from its mother’s breast prematurely.

KID 1, “My name is Brody!”

Thank you, Billy. Now, the nursery rhyme…Image result for trumpty dumpty images

“Trumpty Dumpty wanted a wall

Trumpty Dumpty had a great fall

And all the king’s horses and all the king’s men

Couldn’t put Trumpty together again.”Related image

KID 1, “Is King Mango fat?”

More top heavy, I think.

KID 1, “Did someone push him?”

Anonymous sources at the white house reported a long line of disgruntled employees who were all too eager to do so. There were also unpaid porn stars and contractors he had stiffed for payment. All were suspects.

KID 1, “What’s that mean, mister?”

Ah yes, it means that someone without a name kicked him so Mike Pence could… I mean, so Prince Friday would then take over the Magic Kingdom where every white privileged boy could achieve his dreams.Image result for cartoons of republicans kicking trump

KID 1, “Was King Mango an egg?”

Yeah, I guess you could say that.

KID 1, “Hard boiled?”

Absolutely, Billy, now shut up for a while, okay?

KID 1, “Shut up is not a nice word!”

If King Mango the Magnificent ever heard the mockery of him, well, he would have blamed somebody and said, “You’re Fired!!” in a tweet. He had all his employees sign non disclosure agreements to cover up his many indiscretions, aka, cracks in his integrity. King Mango the Magnificent seemed big and powerful and slimy, like a monster slug helium balloon. He left glittering trails of slime shine wherever he squirmed and called it branding. Mango Towers, Mango Castle, Mango Airlines, Mango University, King Mango Presents The Rolling Stones, King Mango’s Miss Universe Pageant. You get the picture, right?Related image

KID 1, “Yeah, he’s a jerk.”

King Mango seemed to be coated in Teflon also, because whenever one of his squalid acts was reported in the kingdom’s news outlets, he would decry the “Fake News” and release his minions to clean up his vomitus and fecal matter. Like the other bad kings in the world, Vlad the Bad, and Kim the Dim, he liked to deny things, bad things, vehemently, knowing that his base liked emotional testimonials and conspiracy theories, no matter how unhinged from reality they might be. He knew if you said the same lie over and over again loudly, through a Russian bull horn, it became a sort of truth, a splintered alternate truth. Like pounding roofing plywood with a hammer so many times that nails are not needed to secure it. You get an alternate roof.

Until one day, a boy with silver hair and a salt shaker the size of a subpoena came to town to clean up the slug mess.

KID 1, “What was the boy’s name?”

Bueller, pronounce BEW LER, BEW LER, BEW LER.Image result for bob mueller pictures

KID 1, “That’s a weird name. Did he have a last name?”

Billy, you’re killing me!! He was Danish, okay, only one name for Danes. Hrothgar. Beowulf. Wolfgang. Puck. Wolf. Blitzer. Are we good?

KID 1, “I’ll shut up.”

Okay, so Bueller the Bold was sworn to uphold a secret of previous kings called THE LAW. And thus, he began to circle the swamp and subpoena the outermost sick infants in the ring around the white house. He would present magic evidence to the Grand Jury and then indict King Mango’s evil minions, pulling the circle tighter and tighter with a rope called Justice. He told the New York Times it started like a pig rodeo but ended up like a link sausage barbecue.Image result for pig rodeo gif

KID 1, “Does that mean he caught all the pigs and made sausage out of them?”

Billy, you are astute.

KID 1, “What’s a stoot?”

Anyway, once he corralled all the evil doers in the kingdom in red tape and subpoenas, they collapsed like styrofoam lawn chairs. He sprinkled the salt of truth on each of them. Eventually enough of the underlings came to the salty truth and ratted out King Mango and his lavish campaign bamboozlements and emoluments. Being selfish liars and thieves, they had no honor or loyalty among them. So they had none to give the Rat King himself, Mango the Melting Magnificent, when Bueller poured a pound of pure truth salt on his lying narwhal carcass.Image result for slug melting gif

KID 1, “Did King Mango die?”

No, he just sort of disappeared, leaving only a faint orange ring around the toilet bowl. But Mango, Junior swore an oath to avenge his father.Image result for slug melting with salt gif

664. Pogo a go go

Related image“Well, I kept my word to the bank shareholders.”

BS  “And what would that be, Joel?”

“I bounced on my pogo stick on the stage before them at the annual meeting.”

BS “And they appreciated this 1950’s bouncy action?”

“Oh yes! Laughter and smiles and wild applause were followed by a standing ovation. It was marvelous! Better than any musical achievement with my tuba, let me tell you. It was intoxicating. Cell phones were rolling to memorialize the last pogo ride of the Lone Ranger.”Image result for standing ovation for maestro pictures

BS  “Wow, Joel! Amazing, but there must be a back story to this pogacious perturbance.”

“Yes, this was not some spontaneous celebration. I had been planning it since last year’s annual meeting. You see I’d given the annual report and noted that we were in good shape again. We had more than made up for the awful years of 2009 and 2010. That’s when a young woman approached me and asked about the pogo stick bounce off.”

BS  “So it was her idea and you were trying to impress her?”

“No. You see, ten years ago things were bleak at the bank. We were bleeding money everywhere. And that year I gave a rousing speech of encouragement like Churchill or FDR would have during the Big War. A real fireside chat. And I promised the downhearted, shell shocked shareholders that when we recovered and got back into the black, I would victoriously ride across that stage on my pogo stick.”Related image

BS  “You are a national treasure, Joel. A regular Victor a guy’s Secret.”

“Well, that may be overstating my value, but I am a local bank board treasure. And last year I reported our recovery and that happy days were here again. It was thrilling to see all those greedy eyes light up again like small halogen bulbs on deep sea creatures in the dark depths where even Jacques Cousteau dared not to go….”Image result for deep sea fish pictures

BS  “Joel, Joel!! Focus. Snap out of it, buddy. We’re here in the coffee shop. Breathe deeply. Focus man!”

“Oh, I was adrift. You know I had a pogo stick back in my childhood and I made it a point to pogo around my neighborhood without stopping. There was not much else to do besides smash pennies on the railroad track. I got so skilled that I could go around the block three times without stopping or falling. So I challenged any kid to a pogo death match.”Image result for 1950's kid on a pogo stick pictures

BS  “And how did that turn out?”

“Well, I think I was the only kid with a pogo stick back then, so I never had to defend the title.”

BS  “Did you just realize that at 70, that you weren’t the stud bruiser of the block that you had imagined yourself to have been? You were simply born on third base with a pogo stick and told you’d bounced into a triple.”

“Do you enjoy dashing my hopes and dreams ?”Image result for dream smasher gif

BS  “Not really, Joel, but when I have to choose between the truth and friendship, I must choose the truth. All true writers must.”

“But you’re a blogger. Can’t you cut me just a little slack? I mean I provide you with endless material for the blog and all I ask in return is for a little mercy now and then.”

BS  “Well… that’s all very tempting but no. My blog ethics won’t allow me.”

“I knew it! I am nothing more than raw material for you to spin your yarns. I am Clotho and you are Lachesis, and one day we will both have to suffer under the sharp blades of Atropos.”Image result for three fates sisters pictures

BS  “Yep, pretty much. But don’t be so fatalistic, Joel.”

“A pawn in your imagination to move and sacrifice for your own gains and perverse genius.”Image result for chess board with pawns pictures

BS  “Uh huh.”

“A guiltless sociopath.”Image result for ted bundy pictures

BS  “Bingo.”

“You are not taking the bait.”

BS  “Joel, please. You insult me with these obvious rubber worms. There is no sport.”Related image

“Well, I mastered the pogo in any event. Years later I told my wife that I wanted an adult, professional model. She asked me if I’d lost my mind. Maybe I had, but it was something I was good at, and I wanted to relive my glory days. So I got one and practiced alone in the garage.”

BS  “Joel, that’s so pathetic. You hid your skills like a 70 year old grandmother playing with her Barbies by moonlight for fear her friends and grandchildren would find out and ridicule her.”

“I just didn’t want to explain why a grown man was bouncing around on a pogo stick. Not everyone is as easily endorsing of eccentricity as you, Burrito.”

BS  “So you do value me after all the negative noise?”

“I have a faint appreciation for your non traditional evaluation of eccentrics.”

BS  “Say it, Joel. You like me.”

“I hate no man!”Related image

BS  “But you are fond of me. You enjoy all the abuse I give you. Say it.”

“Alright!! I guess I do, damnit!! I hate to admit it.”

BS  “And I think you’ve been too hard on yourself. I think if you’d wear a singlet while you pogoed around, Gary would be a supporter also.”

“He’d only be interested in the singlet.”Naked Man on Pogo Stick

BS  “I know that, and you know that, but no one else needs to know that. We could pretend that he was just in awe of your pogo abilities.”

“He watches college wrestling and he likes it.”

BS  “I know. He misses his glory days back at Westchester where he wore the singlet proudly.”Follow me for Hot Wrestlers in Sexy Singlets =)

“Only to have the program sanctioned forever because of the selfish actions of one perverted supporter.”

BS  “Yes, tragic is too good a word for it. Criminally tragic is closer to the truth.”

“I know how he feels, though. I believe I am reliving my glory days when I ruled my block on a bouncing stick. It was everything a young lad could want.”

BS  “But your story lacks criminality, Joel. You bounced for legalized filthy lucre.”

“Well, until we’re audited I’m a free man on a stick.”Related image




663. 9-1-1, What is Your Purgency?

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What can my mind seize upon and dissect today? Something always pops up. Oh yeah, I am taking a mandatory suicide recognition and prevention course to maintain my state counseling license. It’s killing me.  The 40 pages of fine print text are so tedious that I’m considering suicide just to get out of finishing it. Well, maybe I’ll at least fake my death and live under an assumed name in Mexico. But I’d miss the family and Coffee Nation. They both give me meaning and purpose in life, which means they tolerate me.

Image result for ethics cartoonsA while ago I had to go to a mandatory ethics training class where I learned exactly one thing:  I have no ethics. Seriously?  If I meet a client, past or present, in public, I am ethically required to document such a contact in said client’s file. Nah! Every phone call, text, email… document,document, document. Sometimes I can’t even remember their names. Better yet, don’t even contact them to begin with. That’s the ethical thing to do. I could just operate via phone counseling and charge by the minute in bit coinage from a booth in Mexico.Image result for man in a phone booth images

I also just finished the mandatory child abuse recognition and prevention class for mandated reporters and its 10 riveting multiple choice questions. Most were the same as two years ago. And yet, and yet… somehow the state breathes a sigh of relief that I am now aware and, more importantly, liable. Not capable, mind you. No… just liable for abuse reporting, suicides, and ethics. But I had all this material in grad school. I proved it then. I was certified and supervised again and again. Did I mention these classes are mandatory? Oh yeah, I did. But it’s not just mental health that sniffs its own butt for a sense of false security. No, no, no. Let’s go back in the time machine.

Image result for reinventing the wheel cartoonsWhen I was a public school teacher, we had to constantly reinvent the wheel of education so that university professors could publish cutting edge research that would revolutionize schools as we knew them. Someone somewhere up the food chain decided we absolutely had to implement new changes urgently to salvage the sinking ship of public schools.  We had to explicitly teach kids critical thinking skills, as if we hadn’t been doing so for years. Then we had to stop teaching critical thinking skills in isolation, ya know? and blend them back into the curriculum, thus completing the circle of futility. A committee to salvage the rescue ship that failed to rescue the ocean liner of education was formed and met.

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Later there was a push to implement career awareness in all aspects of education. That was followed by the writing across the curriculum brainstorm that would shift the burden of writing away from English teachers by expecting math and gym teachers, as well as art teachers, to have kids write all the time, everywhere, about everything. Only problem there was that no one wanted to read and grade all this glorious, extracted writing. Flop, flop, flop… each of these grandiose ideas failed within the same year they launched. They were canoes made of wire mesh and Swiss cheese. Oh, but they looked good on the high, dry cliffs of academia. A committee was formed to study this issue and met.

Image result for palm pilot imagesPerhaps the greatest failure of all was the technology race in-service by the wonder nerd guest speaker with one of the first pocket planners. It was the infamous Palm Pilot, the techno doorway to the future. Mr. Techno from someplace else preached, I mean he sermonized, on the indispensability of Palm Pilots in every palm in every home in America in the late 1990’s. As usual we were negatively reinforced with stories of how Japanese students and German students were blazing educational comet trails far beyond our capabilities. Our patriotic duty, our economic duty, our duty to our children’s international viability depended solely on the Palm Pilot.  Elvis sang “It’s Now or Never” over the p.a. system. Administrators bought them and used these miracle machines until they glitched out. We were told that Palm Pilots would one day inventory our refrigerators and order food for us. Check our health records. Brush our teeth. Restock our toiletries too. Alas, they didn’t. A committee was formed to study this issue and met.

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Techno Man, the voice of the future, assured us that the Japanese had also engineered square tomatoes and featherless chickens for greater efficiency, thus lowering the costs of bringing these items to market. He also had pictures, though now I believe they were early photo shop productions. I will grant you that the I-phone has done all of the above and more after the Palm Pilot bit the dust. Still, I’m glad the urgency and purgency waves crashed without me in their wake. Sometimes on late night Ronco television commercials I think I see Techno Man selling magic frying pans or gutter sealant. He had a gift.

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[Ronco album cleaners. I know, kids. What’s an album?]

On the other side of the desk I vividly recall a junior high science teacher proclaim to my class in 1969 that Lake Erie was biologically dead and that it may take 200 plus years for it to be renewed. I don’t know if he had a bad day or was just a pessimist at heart. He was wrong. Somewhere along in those years of 1970 and ’71 I recall an English teacher pontificating about drugs destroying young people’s lives. He shared the urban myth of students going blind while staring at the sun on a psychedelic field trip with Timothy Leary and The Moody Blues. Dude got morally outraged over this stuff, but was also rumored to have sexually molested his teenaged babysitters on their rides home. That’s what I love about moral certainty: if you can find a seam in its construction, it starts to unravel at the weak rivets. Fervency and urgency lead to purgency, dontcha see?Related image


I saw Timothy Leary once in college. I don’t recall a single subversive thing he said. He reveled in his reputation as “the most dangerous man in America”. He died in 1996, leaving the title to… well, you choose your own purgency.

662. Cold Front

I finally caught up to Joel between bank board meetings and conferences in Florida but before his tour of Morocco.Related image

“I was in Fort Lauderdale till Thursday and it was chilly.”

BS  “But it warmed up after you left. I know. My brother-in-law sent weather taunting pictures from the Quarterdeck Lounge. It was in the high 70’s. People were in shorts and tee shirts. They weren’t afraid to be outside and freeze to death.”

“Well, I, I, I don’t know what to say. It did warm up after I left. True.”

BS  “Have you ever considered rap, Joel?”

“No, definitely not!” Long pause.

“Well?”  Another longer pause.

“I know I’ll regret this question… why do you ask?”

BS  “I just thought what a great rapper name for a 70 plus white guy with gray hair and a tight beard…. wait, ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you, the oldest living hip hop artist from the 7-1-7 area code, give it up for Indiana Jones’ daddy, the original ice cold courtroom d.j. of cool, Mista Cold Front.”Image result for rapper pictures

“I can see you are enjoying this.”

BS  “More than you can imagine. This could be bigalow like a gigolo. I can get my groove on and write you into nursing home fame, Joel. This is gold, solid gold. Do you know how many nursing homes in Florida alone would pay big money for a sexy septuagenarian male icon? I mean women would be throwing their bras and dental plates at you to keep going!! It’s brilliant. Finally we have something where we can collaborate and make some money. It’s going to be so much fun. You will literally kill them.”

old GIF

“Uh, no.”

BS  “What?!?! Oh, you are playing possum, trying to sweeten the deal. I see what you’re doing. Okay, 60/40 your way. You’ll be the eye candy and I’ll just write the songs and routines and manage the entourage.”

“What entourage? I don’t like the sounds of this already.”

BS  “Well, it’s very important that you are seen with adoring fans all the time. If you are not popular we have to make you appear popular. So we’ll need some big gold chains and a few massive rings. A big tattoo and a controversial hair cut. We’ll ditch those horn rimmed glasses and maybe you can wear an eye patch?”Image result for old pirate with eye patch

“No, no, and uh, no.”

BS  “C’mon, Joel. It’s like your Tchaikovsky night at the symphony hall without all the formality. No assigned seats, just room to rumble and funk it up. That’s all. It’s all good, bro. Your classical friends will approve when they find you are on the right side of history again wearing a big fur coat and a little puff of gray hair up top. No shirt, just tight black jeans and high top sneakers that are never, ever tied. It’s coming together.”Old Man GIF - Old Man Dancing GIFs

“I refuse to be too vulgar.”

BS  “Oh, this is gonna be thoroughly PG 13, Cold Front. Maybe we could get Gary or Steve to open for you as PG 13,  sort of your little brother act cuz I sense another hip hop persona in the making. Lil PG and Cold Front. Man, that’s hot.”

“Won’t we need material?”

BS  “Slow your roll, Cold Front. Give me a chance to build the brand first. You gotta be appealing to all the single ladies from let’s say 60 to 105. That’s our market. Now we’ll need some catchy lyrics that hit the spot. What comes to mind, Joel Front? Just spit it out without any filter. We’re brainstorming here.”

“Oh, let’s see. I like to read histories mostly. And I keep a journal of pithy comments I come across that I want to commit to memory some day.”Related image

BS  “Very sexy, Cold Front. But this is not a librarians’ dating app. Now spice that up with some dangerous living. You know, the leather jacket and the Spyder. Riff on it, CF.”

“Well, all right. Let me see what I can do…

Shoo bop shoo bop I’m on the hip hop flip flop

Goin’ to the Amish barber shop clip clop clip clop

Got my leather jacket on so hot so hot

Make you remember what you forgot forgot

BS  “Nice, Joel. Smooth. I like it.  But you need to get rid of the tweed jacket. That’s too much of a colonial throw back. We need snakeskin and bling. Emily, can we get some aluminum foil here?”

Emily, “Sure, here’s an industrial roll. Let’s see, yep, 5,000 yards.”

BS  “Thanks. Now Joel, first thing we need is a ‘rrrrriiippppp’ necklace with some initials, C F hanging around your sternum.”

“But I’m modest by nature.”

“Don’t worry, most of your audience won’t be able to see a thing. They will listen by touch as you strut through the aisles of their dining halls.”

“Really?”Image result for barry white pictures

BS  “Joel, I listened to Barry White in college.  Okay, I wasn’t born last night. ‘You’ll never find, as long as you live, someone who loves you tender like I do… and you’ll never find, no matter where you search, someone who cares about you the way I do….”

“That’s very good. You really think I can do this?”

BS  “Absolutely! Now let’s give you a silver tooth. And this rubber band with the black checker piece will do for an eye patch. Oh, look at that!!  ‘No I’m not braggin’ on myself… You’re gonna miss my lovin’. Yeah, now strut. Shake your tail feather.”Image result for rap impersonation gif

“I can’t. I’m a Presbyterian. We don’t dance or have too much fun. This isn’t going to work.”

BS  “Joel, the money. You’d be walking away from millions, leaving it for some other Cold Front to tap. Can you live with that guilt?”

“Well, when you hit my pocketbook, I guess I could give it one more try.”

BS  “That’s the spirit. Now let’s pick it up with ‘You’re gonna miss, you’re gonna miss, you’re gonna miss my lovin'”.

“Ouch. I’ve popped my hip out. See what you’ve done, Burrito!! I should never listen to you. My deductible is gonna be shot right out of pocket. I might miss Morocco and the Humphrey Bogart look alike contest. My life is over. Thanks.”Casablanca 8x10 Photo Humphrey Bogart Head Shot in Hat Looking Soulful kn

BS  “You know, Joel, maybe we should explore the Blues as your genre.”



661. Plagiarizing Oneself

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I’m losing track of the previous 660,000 words I’ve blogged out in the past seven years. I feared this would happen one day and that I’d become that narrator character in Joni Mitchell’s song… “The Last Time I Saw Richard“… on the Blue album…

The last time I saw Richard was Detroit in ’68 and he told me,

“All romantics meet the same fate someday, cynical and drunk, and boring someone in some dark cafe…”

Um, I wasn’t in a dark cafe, but I wrote about 500 words on a topic I’d written about two years ago. It started to sound and look oddly familiar to me, so I checked the blog log. Lo and behold: there it was in the same order and level of detail. “Whoa!” I said to myself. What the heck is going on? Have I lost my memory totally and is it possible to plagiarize oneself? I’ll leave the legal question for Joel to research while I focus on the first question. Have I lost my mind? Actually, I’ll have Joel represent me on both counts.

BAILIFF: All rise for the Honorable T.V. Judge Joseph Albert Wapner.

Joseph Wapner.jpg

JUDGE WAPNER: Looks like a mental competency hearing is on the docket today. Please begin, counselor. I have a tee time at 1:30.

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JOEL:  Hmmmm. Your Honor, my client, Mr. Burrito Special, never had a functioning mind to begin with, that is, he was not in full possession of any kind of mind, therefore he could not legally or metaphorically lose or fumble his mind out of bounds since he lacked ownership and/or possession to begin with. In fact, I intend to prove that he was never even within the bounds of society’s norms at any point in his misanthropic life. The man is a human fraud, a monstrosity. In Manson vs. California it became accepted law that if a short, bow legged, long haired, deranged guy who wanted to be one of the Beatles, with no soul, has carved a backwards swastika in his forehead because he did it while high, looking in the mirror, he is no longer competent to stand trial and should be institutionalized for the rest of his natural days until death do us part. I submit that my client is in the same category with only minor circumstantial differences.Image result for charles manson photos

Joseph Wapner.jpg

JUDGE WAPNER:  Counsel, that’s a nice opening statement and goes right to the rusted gates of my ironclad, justice-loving, ice cold heart. I also appreciate the subtle football metaphor embedded in your plea. I expect that you will provide ample evidence of incompetence for the Court’s consideration? Bye the way, Counselor, which team will you be supporting in this weekend’s Super Bowl?

JOEL: Of course, your honor, after I have thoroughly proven my client’s incompetence, I will segue into the historical, nay, dynastic competence of the New England Patriots and provide an appropriate point spread if you would like to place a wager.Image result for patriots group photos

JUDGE WAPNER: Counselor! Be careful here, sir, you are on the threshold of the foyer of contempt of a civil court proceeding.

JOEL: How so, your prepositional phrase abusing honor?

JUDGE WAPNER: You are assuming that I am a Rams fan and willing to bet on them despite the obvious advantages of a Brady/Belichik led team.

JOEL: Well, no disrespect intended, your honor, but you are a television judge, and a fine one at that. We are in a Hollywood studio, and you live in Los Angeles. Plus your Mercedes bears a ‘Go Rams’ bumper sticker. Therefore, I concluded it likely that you would not only support the Rams, but be inclined to also show your team spirit with a gentleman’s bet of say…$200 with a three point spread.

JUDGE WAPNER: Make it four points and double it to $400.

JOEL: Deal!

WAPNER: Deal delayed, sir… I have exposed my allegiance to the Rams; however, you have failed to disclose your suspect interest in the Patriots. I believe you are from south central Pennsylvania. Yes?Image result for sean connery embarrassed photos

JOEL: Yes, your honor. Nice research.

WAPNER: The Court is interested in what may be a conflict of interests here, sir. How did you ethically come to be a fan of the hated Patriots when you are a lifelong resident of a commonwealth with not one but two fine NFL teams?

JOEL: Well, your honor, there is a simple non-nefarious reason for this apparent paradox. My adult children have both resided in the Boston area in the past for extended periods of time. And thus, within the third level of consanguinity, I asserted my hometown team privilege to include but not be limited to the Red Sox and the Patriots.Image result for photos of gillette stadium

WAPNER:  Nicely played, counselor. And where do your children reside now?

JOEL: Your honor, I sense a perjury trap here, so I am asserting my fifth amendment right to remain silent.

WAPNER: Counselor, you cannot have it both ways. There is no dual fan citizenship. If you declare fervent Patriotism, then you must renounce all allegiance to any other fandom. Is that clear? Otherwise you would be the equivalent of these team owners who shop their teams around the country looking for the sweetest tax deal and television market. How do you plead?Image result for scales of justice pictures

JOEL: Your honor, with all due respect, sir. We are here for a competency hearing for my obviously deranged client, Mr. Special.

BURRITOSPECIAL: (drooling on the table and licking it) I like the Redskins, Judge Wapner, and K-Mart and I Hop on Thursdays.

WAPNER: Yes, I see. Where were we?

JOEL: Manson vs. California, sir. And now if it please the Court, I’d like to introduce my witnesses.

WAPNER: Proceed.

JOEl: Mrs. Burrito Special, please state you name and dress size.

MRS. BS: My name is Mrs. Burrito Special. I’m a size…Related image

WAPNER: Counselor! I’m warning you, you never ask a lady her age, weight or dress size!! Are we clear?

JOEL: Yes, your honor. Uh, Mrs. Special, do you believe your husband does indeed present the qualities I explicated above?

MRS. BS: Yes, sir, but you left one quality out.

JOEL: And what is that, dear suffering saintly lady?

MRS. BS: He was not beaten enough as a child.

WAPNER: Let the record so reflect Mrs. Special’s additions.

JOEL: Any other statements for the court’s consideration?

MRS. BS: I was very young and naive when we married. He snores and steals the covers at night. Very klepto. Forgets his glasses often. Drives aggressively. Clumsy… and

JOEL: That will be all. Thank you, Mrs. BS.

WAPNER: Any more witnesses?

JOEL: I call the entirety of Coffee Nation.

WAPNER: Is this a stunt, counselor? Do these men share a brain?

JOEL: Actually, your honor, they do. Unfortunately their Supreme Leader is none other than Mr. Burrito Special.

WAPNER: My God! This is the Manson family rebooted. I grant your insanity, incompetency, incontinence, and anything that rhymes forthwith. Now, if you will excuse me, I have a golf ball to punish. Image result for judge wapner in people's court action gif