722. Falling Leaves

The first leaf shaker rains are expected tonight, and it’s Halloween trick or treat night to boot. I can recall Halloween nights when it was cold, wet, windy, or with a full moon. Not too many mild and pleasant nights in the personal archives. Image result for trick or treat kids pictures at night

On the short walk in to my office this morning I walked across thousands of red maple, golden oak, yellow elm and poplar leaves scattered over the charcoal asphalt path. Pale sage locust leaves released in ballerina swirls. Burning bushes stood extinguished. The sassafras have lost their sass. But the poison ivy is putting on a show of burnished red and yellow like a fine painting. It’s the last flash of vibrant colors as the sky becomes moody grey till spring comes again.Image result for fall trees colors pictures

For some synaptic glitch reason the splashes of leaves struck me this morning as drops of blood beneath each parent tree. Especially the maple on my left, crimson stars on one side, pale dead salmon pink on the other. But yellow blood? Golden drops of haema, the Latin name for blood? Morbid drops maybe until I ponder their mouldering into nutrients in the soil that holds the parent trees aloft and feed the acorns and seeds dropped earlier. By Spring the shed blood will nourish the sap filled branches once again. We don’t think of rising sap as morbid; it’s birthing new unfurling life. No, sap is pregnant with life’s energy. Why then should the other end of the cycle be morbid? They complement each other.Image result for fall leaves on pavement photos

Many trick or treats long ago swirl in my head as friendly ghosts of the past. We boys would maraud through our neighborhood of cookie cutter rambler houses called Virginia Hills, with wide eyed expectations bigger than the paper Giant grocery bags we hoped to fill to the brim. Always in packs like coyotes or wild dogs we’d ring a bell or knock with vigor on the next door, shouting “Trick or Treat!” in unison to the amusement of the homeowners. I don’t recall any parental hand holding then or any parents walking along as body guards the way they do nowadays. Things were safer or nosy neighbors just watched out for the kids more dutifully. We did not have cameras mounted on every telephone pole. For that matter, we didn’t have that many street lights.Image result for kids trick or treating at night photos

I don’t remember any vandalism back in those days. Sure, boys too old to trick or treat would chase and scare us younger kids. The mean ones might steal our candy haul. But I don’t recall any eggings or toilet paperings or spray painting tags back then. Well, there was the one exception of Mr. Reynolds, the local pedophile who lived on The Parkway hill. With regularity his house was egged or snowballed by local adolescent vigilantes.  He had it coming–even if our parents and local authorities didn’t want to pry and press charges– Cold Justice came to him one egg or snowball at a time. It’s an odd paradox that we felt safer then while sexual predators and wife beaters and drunk drivers roamed freely without legal restraints, not even seat belts.

So, back to the main thread of leaves and Halloween and life’s cycle. At 63 years of age I wonder how my grandkids enjoy their trick or treat experiences, which are supervised affairs in broad daylight at church parking lots. I wonder if the absence of risk diminishes the thrill of marauding about without parents on the other end of a leash. Later on Halloween night we would dump our booty on the living room floor and proudly sort it out into full size and mini-candy bars and Mary Janes and miniature M&Ms. Bubble gum. Peppermints. The obligatory apple. Bulls eyes. And a variety of candies that probably no longer exist. Yep, you had to inventory your candy kingdom to re-appreciate the raid just completed. The bigger your pile, the more potent the pirate. Arrrgh!!Image result for kids trick or treating at night photos

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There comes a time in a parent’s life when he/she lets go of the child’s hand. Just as a mom weans a baby from her breast and dad no longer carries a grown child, independence subtly arrives one day. It is a separation based on competence and sufficiency not abandonment. “I trust you to cross the busy street without me.” “I trust you to walk to Rose Hill or Route 1.” “I trust you to ride the bus all the way into Alexandria.” Children like beautiful pirouetting dancers float away from their parent trees. Related imageNot to become blood splashes on asphalt, no, but to inspire glassy eyed passersby on grey mornings. “What a beautiful child!” Too many to press under waxed paper in a heavy book but just enough to catalogue in an old melancholy brain.Image result for melancholy photos

I suppose acorns are the better metaphor for this process, but that’s not what I saw this morning. That’s a narrative for another day in spring.

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721. The Sacred Profaned, Beyond the Pale

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If there is no pale, then nothing lies beyond it; nothing is out of bounds. The Pale is an old term that we keep alive idiomatically in the three hundred year old phrase beyond the pale. 

But we need a definition here.

From pale (jurisdiction of an authority, territory under an authority’s jurisdiction), suggesting that anything outside the authority’s jurisdiction was uncivilized. The phrase was in use by the mid-17th century, and may be a reference to the general sense of boundary, but is often understood to refer specifically to the English Pale in Ireland. In the nominally English territory of Ireland, only the Pale fell genuinely under the authority of English law, hence the terms within the pale and beyond the pale.Image result for wasteland images

Generally speaking, the pale then is civilization, and what lies beyond the pale’s boundary is neither civilized nor law abiding. You know where I’m going with this, right? In civilized society there are morals and values that are generally agreed upon, even if subtly. Kids in elementary school know you should not kick someone when he is down. And it’s not a fair fight if three attack one. You don’t call names about someone’s looks or disabilities. Sucker punches are for craven cowards. Don’t play with fire. Nor should you speak ill of the dead. You can add your own truths that your families and communities handed down to you. Morals, customs, laws, taboos, and ethics exist in all societies to hold people groups accountable and cohesive. Murder, treason, incest, rape, pedophilia, blasphemy, theft, desertion, and other actions are criminalized in almost all societies. Likewise many positive behaviors are exalted–justice, mercy, grace, generosity, kindness, empathy, etc.  Stitched together like a quilt, they become the pale. Whatever patterns or designs are not within the pale quilt are outliers and outlawed behavior, cursed to the wilderness.Related imageImage result for symbolic quilts

Let’s focus on violations of the sacred pale, when someone does the unthinkable. What happens in the aftermath?

The first appalling offense that comes to mind was 45’s attack on the father of Captain Humayun Khan, Khizr Khan. When Mr. Khan suggested that Trump should read the U.S. Constitution, Trump went after Khan’s wife, suggesting that she was cowering in silence as her husband challenged Trump. Craven cowardice. When you can’t face the facts, distort them and attack the man of honor, the father of a brown patriot who gave his life in service to his country regardless of creed or color. Beyond the Pale!Related image

“Everything, every word is wrong,” Khan said. “Every word is wrong. These men and women, my sons and daughters, signed up for something more than this president can comprehend. This is beyond his comprehension, patriotism, sacrifice. When John McCain sacrificed so much to serve this country, this president ran away. This president ran away from serving.”Image result for john mccain and trump together pictures

The second example is tied in to the first. Trump seethed with envy and jealousy over John McCain. He could not stand next to him or be in his presence any more than a fake soldier can be next to a real one. Fakery and counterfeits are exposed when compared side by side with the genuine article. The impostor cannot speak the same language as a real soldier; he has not learned the code of conduct or earned its honor; so he merely apes and denigrates honorable men by impersonation. Instead of trying to emulate greatness, the poseur swarms about like a gnat in front of a bear, believing his buzzing distractions equal true power. Not even close, Gnat Man.Image result for trump access hollywood photos

I have to pull a bunch of misogyny under one roof for my third example of Trump beyond the Pale. Sexual assaults, porn star payoffs, and his incestuous ways with his own daughter bring about the universal gag reflex for civilized folks. The incidents are too many to even bullet point here. His awful comments about women’s looks demonstrate what a shallow swine he is, rolling in his own self aggrandizing excrement, as if he is Adonis the Pig. Like the Swamp Creature or Grendel from Beowulf, he cannot be among  civilized folks. His envy, entitlement, and constant professional victimhood prevent reciprocal relationships.Image result for swamp creatureHe is not fit for human contact.

Finally there is the betrayal he has exhibited over and over again. He uses people like toilet paper and disposes of them in dramatic flushes. Heroes turn to zeroes in a heartbeat when Baby Donnie does not get his way. It does not matter how much one gives 45, he betrays their loyalty in a self serving second. The line is so long at the Trump Unemployment Office that you must take a three digit number and leave your forwarding address for a turn at the claims desk. Let’s start with Jeff Sessions who kissed candidate Trump’s butt like Colonel Sanders once licked his own fingers. They were tight until Sessions followed the law instead of the cult handbook when he recused himself from the Russian collusion investigation.  A better toady had to be called in to replace Mr. Loyal A.G., one who would collude with the Colluder in Chief. Enter Bill Barr. Unlike Sessions, Barr seems proud to be the president’s legal whore house manager over at the Department of Jactitation. Again, there is no law beyond the Pale. Tillerson and Mattis, the best people at inauguration photo ops, became pariahs when they did not sing Disaster Don’s notes on cue. His own lawyer Michael Cohen, who lied and connived for Trump for years, became an unknown scumbag to Donnie once Cohen coughed up the truth. Ah, sweet betrayal. It’s easy if you do not possess a conscience or moral compass.Image result for trump and michael cohen pictures

Who gets 45’s undying loyalty? Uhhhh, Manafort. Putin. Kim Yung Fool. Erdogan. The Butcher Prince of Saudi Arabia. But of course they do:  they also reside in the profane zone, that wasteland beyond the pale.Gas Masks In Chernobyl

What lies ahead in the post Trumpian world? A Pale of decency, I hope. Maybe that beautiful wall he wanted to build to keep outlaws and rapists out will be built around his sociopathic self, so 45 can play putt putt golf alone in eternity.

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720. Left to Rite

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“This exotic woman that could have been Thai or Japanese or Mexican or all of them mixed together handed me a note in a room crowded with all my friends. The room had  been huge at the beginning of my dream and then it shrunk down so that everyone was close and touching me, trying to connect with me at some big party and I was the center of it. I didn’t like it, man, it was claustrophobic, even if it was a dream. So this chick holds my wrist and puts a note in my hand. I opened it up and read, “Left to rite”. That’s all it said and she disappeared. I could not forget her and the message. It was cryptic, I just knew it meant more than it said.Image result for rites images

“When I woke up, I thought ‘Yeah, left to rite. That’s how I spell the word write, always have. I even misspell shit in my dreams.’ I thought she was telling me to write with the time I have left, you know? Write like crazy till I run out of time. But then I spell checked my self with Siri on my phone. I asked her what rite meant. She told me something I wasn’t expecting…

“a religious or other solemn ceremony or act” Image result for rites images

“Damn! That’s not what I had thought at all. It wasn’t even directional, like left to right, you know, like in English we read and write left to right. This subtle stuff never mattered till my time was running out, but now it matters. You know when your battery’s running low, you don’t want some simple shit text from your friends burning up your data and the electric.

“So what’s it mean, boss?”

“Uh, I love dreams, Dan. And  you being a Jedi time traveler just makes it all the better. No matter what, it’s speculation. Let’s see…The room seems like your life. Thirty three years seems pretty huge and then it just got a lot smaller, you know? shorter in time because of your disease’s progress. But all the people you are attached to are still in the room, so to speak. You are touching each of them, tapping out as your time runs out. And they are tugging on you, trying to get to you before it’s all over. You know what I mean? They want significance too.”Related image

“Yeah, that’s cool so far. I can’t see their faces, though. It’s just the woman, the exotic chick. Who is she and what does the note mean?”

“Dreams can’t be one for one, Dan. They operate in the unconscious and you and I are in the conscious world right now trying to figure out your unconscious. See?”

“Okay, but what’s it mean, Doc?”Related image

“My best guess is that the woman is a conglomeration of all women in your life as well as Sophia, or Wisdom before we had Siri. She gives you a message to unpack and follow. Left to rite.   A rite is a ritual, a holy ceremony.  So it seems to me that you need to get on with your rites, your final rites. That’s what is left for you to do. You are being left to your next rite of passage.”

“Yeah, that’s what I thought but I couldn’t put it into words. That’s why you get the big bucks. Like Tom Brady throwing the long bomb with no time on the clock for the win. You the boss.”

“Dan, you are going to see your Titans in December, right?”Image result for tennessee titans photos

“Yeah, it’s on the bucket list. Not gonna make it to Hawaii or Colorado, though. I don’t have the stamina for back-to-back good days. Too much pain. I should be smoking that legal weed. It helps me forget the pain, get outside my body. When your mind is in deep space,  you can get away from earthly pain. What’s wrong with you, man?”

“I’m letting some grief out in small breaths right now.”

“It’s alright, dude. I’ve been dying for years. I’m just getting closer to the finish line now. It’s all good. Nobody gotta worry about DC Mony. I’m good. I played my cards. I’m just going out.”Related image

“I’m going to miss you, Dan. There is no one else like you. No one to replace you….”

“That’s good. If there was, I’d have to whip his ass for acting like me, taking my material like the dentist on Seinfeld. Remember him?”

“Of course you would steer grief into comedy. That’s your life’s story.”

“I love that one where Jerry goes to confession…Image result for seinfeld in confessional pictures

Father Curtis [in a confessional booth]  Tell me your sins, my son.

Jerry Well, I should tell you that I’m Jewish.

Father Curtis That’s no sin.

Jerry Oh, good. Anyway, I wanted to talk to you about Dr. Whatley. I have a suspicion that he’s converted to Judaism just for the jokes.

Father Curtis And this offends you as a Jewish person?

Jerry No, it offends me as a comedian!Related image

“That’s some funny shit there, man. All the contradictions– a Jew in confession with a priest; a not funny dentist who converts to Jewish for the funny jokes– like that time George wanted to be Greek Orothodox for the hats; a mad Jewish comedian who’s offended that someone is stealing his material. Like a cop pulls you over and he says, “I didn’t pull you over for speeding while Jewish. I noticed your comic inspection sticker had expired, sir.” That’s what makes humor funny is all the unexpected turns and contradictions. You know, like when another cop pulls your ass over and says, ‘You know why I pulled you over?’ and the driver says, ‘Well if you don’t know, I aint about to tell you.’Related image

And you got to unpack all that in one second as you laugh at the genius who packed that parachute. Brilliant. See, telling jokes is a lot like making movies. You have to know where you want a scene or a joke to go and then recognize where it might not go or go even better once you start rolling.”

“Life is not a movie, Dan. It’s one live shot, no do overs, no chaser. I wish it wasn’t so.”Image result for old man in graveyard pictures

 

 

 

719. quid pro quo medium rare

Pretzel making at the White House has now merged with Rubik’s cube competitions as the staff attempts to spin mafia messages into patriotic rhetoric about Deep State bad actors who are conspiring to bring down the greatest president in the history of democracy Image result for pretzel making gif while serving up their propaganda like sweet Auntie Anne’s soft pretzels for mass consumption. It’s gotten so bad that the House Republicans today stormed into a closed door impeachment hearing to whine and cry about how Democrats are doing exactly what they would do if only they had the majority like they used to in the Devin Nunes days.Image result for the big Bad Wolf images

“Let us in, let us in”, they yelled. “Not by the hair on my chinny chin chin”, replied Adam Schiff.  No word yet if Jim Jordan scored any take down points at the scrum. Eyewitnesses said it looked like a jail break from a formal retirement home’s dementia unit, some 24 old white men in blue suits, shuffling toward a locked door that they knew they weren’t allowed to breach. Image result for penguins shuffling gif

“Get back in your rooms. All of you old toads. Back to your rooms, damn it!” shouted the sargeant at arms.

Trumpublicans are practiced at the art of deception, as Mick Jagger once said about a million times over in the unauthorized theme song from Trump’s 2016 campaign rallies,  the Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want”.  Over at the State Department they have an unauthorized verse…Related image that goes like this…

I saw Rudy today at the reception
A glass of wine in his hand
I knew about his Ukraine connections
At his feet was his fat goose man

“There was no quid pro quo” became “There was something like a prid quo pro” which became “Okay, there was a quid pro quo. So what? Get over it!” You see the baked in beauty of using a Latin phrase is that Trumpublicans don’t know what the term means and will not look it up. Instead they will wait for Hannity or Tucker Carlson to explain it to them.

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Caller, “Hi Tucker. Tell me, what’s all this about a prid quo pro. What the heck is it anyway? Is it legalese for my weed whacker warranty?”

Tucker, “Thank you for your insightful question, caller. You see, it’s all a radical Left wing conspiracy theory promulgated by communist liberals who eat their young in godless cannibal ceremonies every full moon. In truth, and this is what the libtards don’t want you good MAGA patriots to know, a quid pro quo is a type of sturgeon that is native to Ukraine. Right?  That’s all. And they make caviar from these squid fish. Now Ukrainians love caviar, okay?  So when President Trump called President Zelensky, he asked if they had any quid pro quos? Do you follow? He’s in the hospitality industry and was just checking inventory. It’s all very innocent but the media paints it black. So cynical and unpatriotic.”

Caller, “Uh, this is pretty complicated stuff, Tucker. Are you sayin’ a quid pro quo is like a Mississippi River catfish?”Image result for sturgeon fish pictures

Tucker, “Exactly! And the radical liberal media who want to take your guns and fishing poles from you, rape you wives, and turn your kids into gay Muslims… they want you to believe that a discussion about raw fish eggs was really a request to investigate the Bidens. Sounds fishy, huh?”

Caller, “Uh, thank you so much, Tucker, for telling the American people that I, I mean, Mr. President Trump, who has done more in three years than any president ever did in two hundred, did not ask for any quid pro quo with Ukraine and aid money and Rudy, just  like I- I mean he- never paid a porn star hush money either.”

Tucker, “You’re welcome, Mr. Uh, Um, I didn’t get your name, caller, but I know you are a red blooded, meat eating American patriot who would rather fight than kneel at a mostly Black professional football game.”

Caller, “Oh yeah, it’s Barron, John Barron.”

Tucker, “Thank you, Mister Barron, and God Bless White America.”Image result for tucker carlson with trump picture together

Yes, with such firm reassurance from an unimpeachable source like Tucker Carlson and his MAGA callers, Trumpublica can sleep soundly all day long and party every night. Even if they both end up in the same federal prison, these two MAGGOTs will always share that same-sex Bubba love that mere mortals can’t grasp.

Back at the White House Mick Mulvaney is trying to do what John Kelly and Reince Priebus, Sean Spicer, Omerosa, the Spice Girls, and Kim Kardashian could not do– lie so exquisitely that he could double negatively cancel out the president’s lies and thus neutralize the facts through obfuscation, arriving at a bit of clear air space. But there is no unpolluted air left in the White House. The Don has flatulated, adulterated, and twitterpated every last available clean molecule. No smoking, vaping or static sparking is allowed for ten blocks around the White House now out of an abundance of caution over toxic gas explosions. And it’s not his fault, mind you. It is the heartless Left Wing perverts of Democracy, the Bolshevik Dems in a secret cabalistic alliance with the liberal prog media. Image result for trump with miss universe pics

The Miss Universe security forces were faced with a similar problem with Trump and his habit of barging into candidates’ undressing rooms. “Miss Venezuela, nice jugs. Now turn around. Oh yeah!!  I’m a sucker for beautiful. Let me caress you for silicon. No silicon in my pageants. My hands are like a surgeon’s. I can detect as little as one grain of fine sand in a bikini bottom. Yep, years of practice. That’s the ticket.”

Even if he grabbed Miss Universe by her sturgeon bone, she would have to let him because of his squid pro quid  celebrity status.

Just check in with Hannity.

Hannity, “Yes, it’s in the Constitution that if the president grabs a woman by her sturgeon bone on Fifth Avenue, he won’t lose a single vote and she’ll be invited to a state dinner with the leader of Ukraine. Fact.”Image result for hannity pictures

Caller, “Hi, it’s Michael Cohen from upstate New York. I was wondering if…”

Hannity, “I’m sorry caller. My squid pro quo phone is breaking up. Call me back after the election. Okay?”

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718. What About Bob?

Image result for interstate highway off ramp picturesAs I get closer to the off ramp from my second career, I’m wondering how to manage to ease off the gas and long hours involved in a full time counseling practice while simultaneously connecting my clients to other resources beyond decaf coffee. Most of my clients will be fine because they already are fine; they’re just coming to realize it in my presence. The heavy lifting is all theirs.

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In some ways this time reminds me of teaching my daughters to ride their bikes in a post training wheel world. I’d run along side them as they pedaled and maintained balance with each stroke of the sprocket. When I felt they had the necessary skill and balance to keep on going without my assistance, I’d let go but stay next to them. Their perception was stronger than the scientific proof:  I was not keeping them upright and moving forward; they were. However, my presence gave them reassurance that they were safe and secure. At some point along the way I’d stop running and let them go. It took more than one try to reinforce that they were self sustaining bike riders. And, of course, there was the little matter of turning and braking…but that’s what pads and helmets are for. My daughter Grace once came down the slight hill in front of our house at a high rate of speed and was stopped by a smallish spruce tree in the front lawn. Of course, she was mad at me and angrily stomped past me as she slammed her bedroom door. How dare I plant that tree five years ago! Right there in her flight path even! Helmets cannot protect damaged dignity.Image result for little girl on a bike photos

Anyway, I wish my clients nothing but the best outcomes after I’ve left the practice. I’ve considered how I could be on call for especially hard times in the future, but there’s the reality of insurance and credentialing  and licensure. My fixed costs would be a monthly mountain to climb that, frankly, I would not be able to climb every month, i.e, I’d lose money by staying on. The too easy answer is to Skype without a net, so to speak. I am not going there to the land of lawsuits.

YouTubeSo I’ve considered a reversal turn along the lines of What About Bob? Bill Murray is the patient without boundaries who follows his self absorbed therapist, Richard Dreyfuss, on vacation. Bob turns out to be the better parent to his therapist’s kids and a better spouse to his wife. It’s a belly laugher if you have not seen it.Image result for what about bob images

Thinking about Bob, I considered a counseling Robot named Robert, Bob for short. If I could get a good programmer, I think I could simply substitute Bob the counseling Robot for garden variety cases. Bob could work nights and weekends as a contractor for me.Image result for Lifelike male robot gifs

The beauty of a robot counselor is that the consumer could basically get exactly what he/she wanted in every session. After swiping in with a credit card and entering a password, he/she could then select what language Bob would speak; his gender or lack of; age; race; counseling theory bases; biases; and so much more.Image result for robot pictures

A menu would present after the preferences were given. The consumer would have to pick an issue– anxiety/depression, trauma, addictions, impulse control, attachment issues, personality disorders, etc. Each heading would then bring up another menu to scroll through for specifics.

Onset: day/month/year

Duration: days, weeks, months, years

Intensity: 0-100

Symptoms:

Frequency: hourly, daily, weekly, monthly

Previous and current medications:

Expected outcomes: Image result for computer menus on a screen pictures

The possibilities are limitless really. I know it will take a lot of tweaking to make Bob user friendly. The subtleties of the human voice are so important to express warmth and empathy, especially coming from a machine. Then there’s just the right amount of eye contact– none to constant, which will need a separate knob like a light dimmer. Touch is also touchy requiring some touch screen options: zero, a handshake, a hug, a bear hug, booty check, or full frontal Bob nudity. The consumer could set a timer for length of touch. Image result for sexy robot pictures

Once a certain climate had been established and digitized forms signed, the consumer would select up to three psychological theories– cognitive/behavioral, psycho-dynamic, spiritual/existential, for instance. All further input would be filtered through those algorithms.

Let’s run an example for illustration purposes. The consumer picks his/her/its choices of counselor and then begins with history, either through a voice activation system or by typing on an attached I-pad. Image result for person interacting with a robot pictures

Client, “It all started on a dark and stormy night. My mother birthed me at the psychiatric hospital on Halloween in the far hinterlands of Scotland. The year was 1919 and the Great War was just finishing up on the Continent. The local coal mine of Inverness had claimed my poor father Doogle just two months prior in a collapse after he’d done his bit in the Royal Engineers Division in Belgium. He and his brigade  had undermined most of the Kaiser’s front lines then and pulled the supports, leading to a fantastic collapse that allowed for the Allies to invade Germany and bring an end to the war.”Image result for scottish highland pictures in fog

Bob, “What exactly is a hinterland? It is not in my lexicon. Please substitute another term.”

Client, “You need a bigger lexicon, Bob. It’s the far out places, the wastelands beyond civilization’s pale.”

Bob, “I see. Please refrain from poetic or colloquial speech during our time together.”

Client, “I’m not feeling understood or validated, Bob.”

Bob, “Validation is not my thing, Shirley. You should have selected unconditional positive regard from the Rogerian menu, option 11. If you’d like to end your session now, your fee cannot be refunded; however, I am authorized to print out a coupon for 10% off your next counseling session with me.”Image result for person beating a robot gif

Client, “I’d like to talk with your manager, Bob. I am not happy.”

Bob, “Happiness is an illusion, Shirley. If you want happiness, please select Prosperity Gospel Counseling, option 23 from the alternative approaches menu. Wait! What are you doing with that screw driver? You are not authorized to enter my power pack….”Image result for joel osteen head shots

Shirley, “You little prick. I’m taking your lithium battery back to Walmart, Bob. That should cover my refund.”

Bob, “But you can’t …………” Blip.

Like I said earlier, some tweaking is in order before the launch.

 

 

 

 

717. Candid Dan

Image result for primitive art examplesThe long and the short of it is this:  Dan’s body is dying. As it does betray and slowly leave him, his spirit continues to make me laugh and cry at his hyper Jedi mind skills; his brash creative mind; his audacity to think beyond the here and now. I think of him as a primitive artist, untrained and unschooled, but an artist nonetheless, coming out of the unconscious world and well worth attending to.Image result for images of the unconscious museum

We met thirteen years ago. Another therapist sent him to me, and yes, Dan gave me explicit permission to write about him as long as I talked him up real good. The truth is I only have high regard for him. We clicked from the jump. His curious irreverence and candid vulnerability captured my attention and admiration. He may be the funniest guy I’ve ever encountered in my life, Holmes, exploding with movie and pop culture references laid smoothly over Jayz lyrics. Even his voice mail message went something like this, “I can’t talk atcha right now cuz I’m out making my first million, so just leave me a message.” Priceless.Image result for jay z pictures

There was a time when he got the poker bug and quickly mastered the game. His mind seemed to work so fast that if he didn’t count the cards, he intuited them and played accordingly. But what he liked best was to deal and banter as he delivered the cards around the table. He was a born comic, or let me rephrase that– he learned early in life how to turn chicken shit into chicken salad with a side of cole slaw and home fries. He made reckless abandonment carefully funny.Image result for cartoon characters pictures

I urged him to get on a stage for an open mic night at any comedy club, but he lacked the confidence to test my theory that he would kill any audience brave enough to track with him. He made me an offer once that I had to refuse. Image result for sherlock holmes in a wing chairHe said he’d go on stage if I went with him, “You know, Dan and his therapist… right? You could just sit in that wing chair, you know, all tweedy with a cardigan and a pipe, and nod and say your therapy shit, and I’d riff on about my exit stent shelf stuff. C’mon, man! You know, the shit that’s on clearance sale as you leave Lowe’s– half dead geraniums, grass seed, and a can of Round Up– in November!! I mean, who they kiddin, Dog?”Related image

“Dan, maybe after I retire and my license is dead, we can tour. I’ll need a roadie to carry my chair, though. I’d like some good bourbon and a nice cheese plate at each performance. Right now it’s unethical, immoral and illegal for me to do what you’re suggesting.”

“Hey, it was your idea, man.”Image result for it was your bad idea  pictures

“Yeah, it was, but I am unsaying it now, retracting the idea. I am unthinking it while denying and retreating like the Trumpster’s hair stylist being deposed by federal lawyers.”Image result for trump pictures

“Cool, I see how you gonna be, Boss. A little scared of the stage yourself. It’s easy to tell other people what to do when you aint got to do it yourself, huh.”

We both laughed.  “I do have a can of extra strength whoop ass in this file cabinet with your name on it.”

“So now you gonna be Stone Cold Steve Austin, huh? I see how it is. Why you wait till I’m sick to Break Bad on me, Jessie? I could have whooped your ass last season.”Image result for walter white pictures

Endless stream of consciousness conversations flowed easily between us. He was that weird FM radio host from a 3:00 a.m. ‘expand your mind and comfort zone’ show that you once heard while you drove all night across Texas long ago. Somehow you’d always known that voice and the mind behind it, full of hard won wisdom. You could count his ribs and the hairs on his head over the sound waves. Though you were not on drugs, his wildly associative monologues put you there.Image result for psychedelic images gif

“I should’ve been a movie director, Spielberg, you know. I always loved movies.”

“Well…?”

“It’s too late now that I’m sick. I gots to stay around my doctors and pharmacy. I mean my side effects have side effects, bro. I can’t even spell my disease. It’s a very exclusive club. I’m like one of twenty people on the planet that have it. We should open our own club, Studio 21. People be dyin’ to get in.”Image result for studio 54 pictures

“Dan, what about filming our sessions or a small gathering where you run your comedy? Then you could upload it to YouTube, right? Are you feelin’ me? There is a bigger audience out there than your humorless home town.”

“Nah, I can’t do nothing by a script. Give me random spontaneous or give me death.  Well, I got the death thing already, I guess, so I’m batting .500.”

“All the more reason to record what you can of your life and amazing wit, my man.”

“Yeah, I’m writing like crazy now cuz  I know my time is short and precious. I want to call my manuscript The Perfect End to My Messy Life. What do you think, Kev?”Image result for book cover picture "my messy life

“I like the title; I hate what it signifies.”

“Then that’s the right choice, man. See, it hits you and you all mixed up about it. That’s my target. Boom!”

“You know Perfect Endings require tying up loose ends. What do you need to do still?”Image result for tying loose ends images

“Well, one thing is I’m being way more cautious cuz they gonna give my estate $75,000 for my body if I don’t die accidentally. They want to study my body for a while, I guess.”

“What do you want done with the money?”

“Yeah, first I want a big ass private party at Roy Pitz for my friends to celebrate. That will cost a few thousand the way those mf’rs drink. Then I want to pay for therapy for ten of my closest people. You have like gift certificates, Kev? What’re you chargin’ these days anyway?”Image result for therapy gift certificates jokes

“Dan, uh, no gift certificates. That’s like a gift card for your dentist. I mean, it’s very thoughtful and original, but how do you know your loved ones would even come?”

“But see, that’s the beauty of it:  you win either way, man. So that’s another couple of thousand, right? Just sayin’,  but the big chunk goes to my girl. She don’t know it yet, but she will after I’m gone. I want her to go to college or whatever fifty grand will buy when she’s ready. I helped raise her, so I got some claim on her, right?”Image result for father daughter images

“Dan, you have the claim of love on many folks. We’ll all be poorer after you’re gone”

“Now shit! You making me cry, Kev. You know I don’t like to cry unless I’m in the shower, man, and I’m already wet. Maybe I’ll just skip those gift certificates, dude.”

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716. Fleas and Ticks on Democracy’s Back

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If you have a dog, then you know that fleas and ticks come with the canine territory. Sure, you can spray them with aerosol toxins, or bathe them with flea and tick insecticide shampoos. Or maybe you use Front Line or just an old fashioned flea collar. Whatever intervention you choose, the desired outcome is the same: no parasites on the dog or in your House.

If not prevented or treated, fleas and ticks can cause a variety of potential health issues for dogs, including:

  • Skin irritation and infection
  • Rashes and red inflamed skin
  • Scabs and scales
  • Transmission of disease and illness to you and your dog
  • Psychological issues from constant scratchingImage result for scratching dog gif
  • What human-health problems are associated with ticks? Ticks transmit a large number of diseases in North America. These diseases include Lyme disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, relapsing fever, ehrlichiosis, tularemia and tick paralysis. It is important for the health of your pet, as well as the safety of your family, to include ticks in your pet’s year-round parasite control program.Image result for tick picturesI don’t know about you, but I don’t currently have an FDA approved year-round parasite control program, Y-RPCP, to speak acronymically. These nasty little parasites can suck the joy out of having a dog, the ticks, that is, not the acronyms. They might cause you to look at your dog differently, perhaps as the carrier of diseases, when it is only the carrier of the carrier of diseases.  I wanted to show you faithful readers graphic pictures of fleas and ticks, but I could not do so in good conscience since my gag reflex kicked in just perusing the pictures. You are welcome.Image result for fleas on a dog pics

However, there are other metaphorical ticks on other metaphorical dogs. Currently we have a bunch of plague-ridden parasites riding on the back of the U.S. House of Representatives. You’ve seen them on television, I’m sure. They have pinched up insect faces that are stuck in eternal scowls of perpetual contempt, almost too horrible to look at. These ticks are Matt Gaetz, Jim Jordan, Mark Meadows, and Devin Nunes.Image result for Matt Gaetz pictures angry

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They play Super Patriot Mario right wing political games, but are actually ticks that jump from Donald Trump’s butt to the floor of the House of Representatives and back again. They peddle conspiracy theories and align with any and all things Trump. Gaetz is especially egregious. One paragraph from The Huffington Post should do as an introduction…

Gaetz drew complaints from the audience [in Florida following the Parkland massacre] as he tried to argue that violence caused by undocumented immigrants is worse than the toll of gun violence in the United States. (For reference, there were 40,000 gun deaths last year, about two-thirds of which were suicides, compared with one rough estimate of 400 homicides attributed to illegal immigrants.) Gaetz said that funding a border wall would help curb both problems. He was speaking at a hearing on House Resolution 8, which would require a background check for every firearm sale

Matt Gaetz is a clumsy professional carnival barker magician, a Trump junior wannabe. “Presto, changeo, gun violence, my friends, is really just a border wall issue. Don’t look here; the truth is over there.” A hollow voice in the White boys club lacking any integrity. A bloated tick sucking out power, prestige, and entitlement from the citizens he’s supposed to serve. Looks like Matt’s in the self service line where you name your own price.Image result for flo and the name your own price tool picturesProblem is, some folks can do math.

Jordan–angry, impulsive, sweaty, shirt sleeved Congressman Jordan, forever the Ohio State University wrestler. He has yet to find a conspiracy theory that he did not just love to bits. I guess his constituents in Ohio aren’t too bright because they keep re electing him. He even goes to bat for batshit boy Gaetz who tries to put himself in meetings where he is not allowed. Today was the second time he tried to insert himself in a meeting he had no business being present for. If you recall, Gaetz tried to intimidate Michael Cohen when he testified before the House. I know, it’s all too much to retain. That’s what the shit show regime is counting on. All the blather becomes homogenized white noise by design.Jim Jordan-451920742

. is conducting his secretive impeachment proceedings in the basement of the Capitol, and now he’s kicked out of today’s deposition. This testimony should be available to every member of Congress and every single American. What is Schiff hiding?

The real question is this: What is Gaetz doing there?

Grandstanders, both of these clowns go looking for fights so they can make it on that evening’s Fox News. How big a liar is Jim Jordan? He claims that Donald Trump has never lied to him. No recollection of a single Trump lie. The Toronto News reported that Trump had lied over 5,000 times by mid May of 2019. Sweaty Jim has been asleep at the switch, so it appears. We all find what we look for, and Sweaty Jim seems to want to find rainbows and unicorns in Trump’s ass.

 

Mark Meadows… let’s just put this out there. Remember when he put a silent Black woman on display like a mannequin to prove that Trump is not racist? Uh, it was during Michael Cohen’s testimony before the House.  Classic mind blindness. I guess this sort of cretinism works in North Carolina. “Why we had slaves, sure, but they loved us like family.”
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A white man [Meadows] who helped spread the racist conspiracy that Barack Obama wasn’t really American put a black woman on display, as though at a slave auction, to defend the white man [Trump] who did more than anyone else to take birtherism national against legitimate charges of racism. Then, that white man reacted with outrage and hurt when a woman of color called him out for what he had done.

This clown is the co-captain of the self aggrandizing Freedom Caucus. They are great finger pointers, that’s a fact.

Finally, we have Satan’s altar boy, Devin Nunes. Remember when he ran to the White House and “found out national security stuff”?  And so conveniently the White House provided all the talking points for Devin’s grand deep state conspiracy to surveil Trump’s campaign.Image result for devin nunes pictures

In March 2017, the [intelligence] committee started an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 elections in order to produce, as Nunes promised at the time, a “bipartisan” and “definitive” report. But since then, Nunes has used the committee only to sow confusion — confusion that has benefited Trump. Perhaps his most notable disclosure from the investigation occurred in February when, over the objections of committee Democrats as well as the Justice Department and the F.B.I., Nunes released a memorandum alleging a conspiracy against the president. 

A Parasite feeds off others. It’s an organism that lives in or on an organism of another species (its host) and benefits by deriving nutrients at the other’s expense. The term precisely applies to these pest representatives. Term limits may be the only pesticide available, but their constituents seem more than happy to keep sending these necromancers back to the finger pointing Kabuki theater known as Congress.Image result for kabuki theater

 

715. fallow

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The word comes to my mind today from a healthier place — a deep well in my soul’s aquifer. Fallow, the time of rest for a field that has been worked over and depleted of nutrients, sucked dry of life-giving nourishment by the practice of over planting consumer hungry crops, blasted into magical production by chemical fertilizers. Yep, if you keep withdrawing assets without making any deposits, it’s simple math at the bank or the embankment on a farm. Depleted funds, negative balances, over draft fees, then bankruptcy.

Image result for fallow fields picturesFallow ground is not ignored or abandoned land; it can still be tilled but is intentionally left unseeded. Apparently this process helps deter weeds while renewing essential nutrients in the soil. A fallow field is land that a farmer plows but does not cultivate for one or more seasons to allow the field to become more fertile again. The practice of leaving fields fallow dates back to ancient times when farmers realized that using soil over and over again depleted its nutrients.

Image result for doing versus being imagesWe humans also need a fallow season here and there, like a power nap to refresh ourselves in order to be more productive and/or responsible. The constant do, do, doing of our modern world wears out our be, be, beings so that it begins to seem like what we do is who we are. That’s a dangerous and slippery slope to camp on. Pretty soon you slide into other crevasses of reasoning that the more you do, the more you are worth; or the less you do, the less you’re worth. These false beliefs can feel true because a tired mind conflates being with doing. Just like hikers at high altitudes get feeble minded and make mistakes… Feeling is not thinking; no matter how true the feeling feels, it can never vault into a fact.Image result for tents in a crevasse pictures

[“Where’s Ed, Sidney?”  “He just walked over to the loo.”]

I’m looking forward to my next break of a few days by the ocean. Hopefully my wife and I will walk along the unseeded sand and produce nothing but contentment and footprints of peace as our feet slowly press into damp sand. The shore is only plowed by the waves and tides which refresh it every twelve hours. This uninterrupted cycle may explain why a few days at the shore can erase weeks of work tension. By listening to the heartbeat of the planet in rhythmic waves, one is carried away from solipsistic navel gazing; drawn to the horizon of infinity where God rests, waiting for us to join Him.Image result for infinite horizon photos

On the drive across Maryland’s Eastern Shore I noticed tractors harrowing the ground in preparation for winter. Towers of dust rose behind each tractor like butternut smoke drifting and then settling in a hundred or so yards. These strange images reminded me of the Dust Bowl, a man made disaster of over-farming, plowing what should not have been plowed exactly when it shouldn’t have been. And this reminds me of a tank racing across Iraq in hopes of weapons of mass destruction… another completely man made disaster.Image result for dust plumes behind tractors photos

The seeds of the Dust Bowl may have been sowed during the early 1920s. A post-World War I recession led farmers to try new mechanized farming techniques as a way to increase profits. Many bought plows and other farming equipment, and between 1925 and 1930 more than 5 million acres of previously unfarmed land was plowed. With the help of mechanized farming, farmers produced record crops during the 1931 season. However, overproduction of wheat coupled with the Great Depression led to severely reduced market prices. The wheat market was flooded, and people were too poor to buy. Farmers were unable to earn back their production costs and expanded their fields in an effort to turn a profit — they covered the prairie with wheat in place of the natural drought-resistant grasses and left any unused fields bare.

A drought in nature coupled with a financial drought turned success into failure, forever epitomized in The Grapes of Wrath. When what you are doing is not working, do it faster and harder, and then step back and reap the whirlwind. And do it louder with more self righteousness. That’ll be sure to work even better.Image result for movie grapes of wrath

All those acres of fallow ground served an anchoring purpose that was not understood until it was gone. What appeared to be wasteful and unproductive land wound up becoming dust storms or haboobs that terrorized the Midwest plains through out the 1930’s.

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Turned out that fallow wasn’t a negative thing at all.Image result for health impact of dust bowl

When the rains come or fail to, the fallow ground and/or person can endure extremes. However, if farmers plow and plant to extremes, or humans run on fumes, nothing is left for less than optimal conditions. As is true in agriculture, so is true in human culture. We can’t outrun our nutrients and roots in a mad dash toward productivity. Just because you drove to Walmart in 8 minutes once at 3:00 a.m. does not make it the new normal for you or anyone else. Remember dial up computer speed? No one appreciates that nowadays because we have been swept up in the rapid adrenaline race of sprinting technology.Image result for farmer plowing pictures

Hmmmmmmm, my wife wonders what I’m writing about. “FALLOW”, I reply. “You know, like a field that is not planted for a time?”

“You are such a farmer.”

“Yes, a farmer of words. An etymologist.”

“Oh, that’s good. Yes, it fits you. A word farmer.”

“Uh huh, I’m full of crops and manure. Is that where you were going?”

“No, but now that you mention it….”

So my mind riffs on allow, ballow, callow, fallow, gallows, hallow, mallow, marshmallow, sallow, swallow, tallow, and wallow. Quite a crop of mostly outdated words mixed with a few stubborn hangers on.  One might expect a secret connection among all these words that are so close in spelling, but I can’t find one. What they share is old age, dating back hundreds of years. Only a fallow mind can entertain such seemingly useless information, unwinding on a quiet ride home as the world rages on in its dirty dust blizzards of erosion.Image result for fallow fields pictures

714. Workin’ the 12 Steps of N.A. Humility

Those readers familiar with the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous will immediately realize that the following steps are a bogus parody of said steps. I’m not sure why I blame my buddy Joel for this corruption, but the idea came to me while talking with him this morning over various and sundry items. Likely some Trump dumping involved in the convo as well. Maybe the following suggestions could be Narcissists Anonymous’ 12 Steps to nonrecovery.

Step 1. I realized that I was all powerful over all things and the world would be a more manageable place if it would just listen to me… so I ran for President.

[With our stable genius in mind, here is the section in Step one on bankruptcy…]

No other bankruptcy is like this one. Power becomes the rapacious creditor, bleeds us of all self insufficiency and all will to resist its demands. Once this stark fact is accepted, our bankruptcy as going human concerns is complete. Away we go.

Upon entering N.A., I perceived that only through utter unabridged power and lying was I able to take my first steps toward liberation and strength. Personal power is the firm bedrock upon which happy and purposeful lives are built. Look at me: I make deals and build stuff.

Step 2. I came to believe that no Power greater than myself could restore me to sanity.Image result for trump as a Roman emperor pictures

Yes, I was almost too smart for my own good. I loved to be called precocious. I excelled in the best schools ever, always first in my class. My grades are under audit, however, so I cannot release them, but I will soon after I become dictator for life. Since I was brighter than all others, the spoils of a capitalist world were mine for the taking. My big brain replaced the God of all others.

Step 3. I made a decision to turn my will over to this God of megalomania and self sufficiency–Me, Emperor Hubris, the First.Image result for trump as a Roman emperor pictures

I feel sure that N.A. is the only safe harbor for the super powerful battleship that I have become. If this is not turning one’s life over to a newfound Providence, then what is? Plus, the goddesses are hot… and you can grab’em by the you know what, and they let you!! Cuz you’re a God. It’s fantastic.

Step 4. I made a searching and fearless material inventory of myself.Image result for trump as a Roman emperor pictures

You know what I found?  I’m rich, like really rich in the same way that I’m really smart. From a small loan of a nickel from my father Tiberius Fred I built an Empire the likes of which the world has never seen nor will again. Like my tax returns.Image result for trump as a Roman emperor pictures

Step 5. I admitted to myself, my God and others the exact nature of my Rights.

By learning to confess the sins of others, I found my way to a higher level of rectitudinousness. When I founded N.A., for the first time I stood among other less exceptional humans and demigods who seemed to understand the thrilling burden of my greatness. Another great dividend of confiding my Rights to others was Humility– a word often misunderstood. And I am very good with words. Humility to me means fully telling others how great I am. The root word HUM means to vibrate one’s vocal cords/lips and ility means great stuff in Norwegian. So when you put the two together, you get humming about great stuff or humility. I ghost wrote David Bowie’s Fame song, but a non disclosure agreement prevented me from gloating about it during his life. He really loved me while we jammed together at Studio 54.Image result for david bowie pictures

Fame, makes a man take things over
Fame, lets him loose, hard to swallow
Fame, puts you there where things are hollow (fame)
Fame, it’s not your brain, it’s just the flame
That burns your change to keep you insane (fame)

Step 6.  I am entirely ready to inject even more assets into my solid gold character. Why not? I’m just getting better. Image result for trump as a Roman emperor pictures

Since most of us are born with an abundance of natural desires, it isn’t strange that we often let these far exceed their intended purposes. When they drive us blindly or we willfully demand that they supply us with more satisfactions or pleasures…. that’s when we’re kickin’ it and the world wants to be me. I’ve had other billionaires– Russian oligarchs and Saudi princes– offer to rent my life for 1o million dollars an hour. You know what I told them?  I’m not a hooker.

See character is just an accumulation of achievements where the end justifies the means. Annette Funicello wrote that in a book I read once. So, even if you were born on home plate like I was, the thing is that I still hit a grand slam, even if I never faced one pitcher. It doesn’t matter how you get to Maralago; it’s all about being there. That’s character.

Step 7.  Boldly ask myself how great I am. Image result for trump as a Roman emperor pictures

I like to do this often so I can keep refining my platinum image. Brilliant. You know, it’s not enough for me to succeed; all my critics must fail. So I do some pretty good savaging of others who cross me. Look at Rosie O’Donnell. Yeah, I blew her up. And Obama? I dump on him like toilet paper, and trust me, I use a lot of toilet paper in a day.

Step 8.  Made a list of everyone who harmed me and forced them to recant.

Let me tell you something: I got a list a mile long. Roy Cohn taught me well. The Clintons are at the top. The lying media is tied for first. Congress, I hate them and will dissolve them soon. I’ll keep the Senate because I want to go to Toga Tuesdays where I address them in the remodeled chambers. Then after lunch we’ll have gladiator fights on the mall. I think it would be beautiful if the House members were forced into mortal combat to the death. You know, Nancy Pelosi kills off Shifty Schiff only to be stuck in the back by that Maxine Waters who gets shanked by Elijah Cummings. Oh, the Humanity!! I’m giddy with anticipation.Image result for trump as a Roman emperor pictures

Step 9. Directly confront the listees and injure them wherever possible.Image result for trump as a Roman emperor pictures

Step 10. Continue with the fearless self inventory. I’m skipping this step because that’s up to my accountants and lawyers. Plus, I’ll have a layer of plausible deniability built in to that formula.

Step 11. Pray to myself fervently that only my steel will may be carried out further.Image result for trump as a Roman emperor pictures

Step 12. To spread the practices and philosophy of N.A. to other misunderstood geniuses.Image result for trump as a Roman emperor pictures

Covfefe! Quid pro quo.

Emperor Hubris Maximus