746. Profiles in Pooridge

Image result for images for profiles in porridge"Porridge (historically also spelled porage, porrige, or parritch) is a food commonly eaten as a breakfast cereal dish, made by boiling ground, crushed or chopped starchy plants—typically grain—in water or milk

I know, I know how to spell. I’m toying with and tying two things together– one is a real word; the other is not. It’s a  neologism based on the analogy involved in the cooking of starchy plants (Republican senators) in their mothers’ milk (Trumpism…another neologism). What the citizenry gets is political pooridge as our senators pretend to be upholding of the Constitution. Not a Profile in Courage, John F. Kennedy’s collection of courageous persons in U.S. history.Image result for cover of profiles in courage images"Nope.

The book profiles senators who defied the opinions of their party and constituents to do what they felt was right and suffered severe criticism and losses in popularity because of their actions. 

[Ironic, mindblowing note here: Kennedy did not write the book. His speechwriter Ted Sorensen did. He simply edited and put his name on it. Hmmm, sounds like Trump’s The Art of the Deal and Tony Schwartz. So Kennedy recognized integrity and courage in others while ignoring his own fragmented duplicity. Trump, however, just signed on to someone else blowing his own self-serving horn, since no one has ever been more of a Profile in Courage than Donnie J. Trump.]Image result for m. c. escher prints"

We don’t have senators like that any longer… not Kennedy, but Daniel Webster and John Quincy Adams. Ours modern senators have all had spinalectomies, thus becoming invertebrate liars, gaslighters, thieves, and whores. It’s much easier to boil down an invertebrate in a good pooridge, and then there are fewer bones to pick through. Lamar Alexander is the coward pooridge ingredient du jour. But I don’t doubt that Romney, Murkowski, Gardner, and Collins will step out from the shadows of moral gymnastics, where traitorous actions and clear abuse of power can only be crimes if the other party commits them.Image result for bambi and his mother in movie stills"

Can it be that they have a spinal cord locker room in the Senate gym where these Senate worms change back into vertebrates before talking to reporters? They want witnesses and evidence as long as they are sure that no witnesses or evidence will be allowed, just like Donnie Boy wants so badly to release his taxes… he just can’t with the make believe audit and everything. I can imagine each of these pooridge heads hearing the voice of Bambi’s mother (i.e.Mitch McConnell) saying,  “Don’t go into the meadow, Bambi. You’ll be primaried or tweeted to death by Don Vader.” One advantage these spineless cowards have: they cast no shadow in the shooting gallery meadow nor in history. Lightweight civic vampires leave no footprints nor shadows… just guano droppings in the story of justice.

So we get the government we deserve. Pooridge flavored wallpaper paste. Image result for images for profiles in porridge"

Going forward, after the Senate votes to acquit 45, which has always been a foregone conclusion in a rigged trial, this craven excuse making for evil will haunt our Republic till its end. And the end will be here much sooner when evil is given greased skids to glide upon. The next time up will be a Democrat president. He/she will seek Chinese help in an election, and once in power, there won’t be a damn thing to be done to remove him/her… cuz what goes around, comes around. Then the pooridge heads will cry out loud, “Justice! We demand justice!”  However, instead of the blind lady with her sword and scales, justice will simply be a coin. Heads, Trump wins illegally. Tails, the Democrat to be named later wins illegally. So heads equals tails and nothing matters. When weighing evidence and testimony yields to paying for results, Justice will go to the highest bidder with the lowest integrity. Image result for auctioneer yelling sold gif"


745. Finite Love

Image result for album cover every picture tells a story"

So lately the theme of family has been addressed by my pastor, and it got folks at church  talking in uncomfortably comfortable ways. You see, everyone is an expert in their own experience; so there’s the comfortable piece. But the discomfort came as each person shared his/her family’s brokenness. Rod Stewart’s song “Every Picture Tells a Story” revved up in my amygdala as each adult spoke of difficult times and folks…Image result for family photo scrapbook pictures"

Spent time feelin’ inferior standing’ in front of my mirror
Combed my hair in a thousand ways, but I came out lookin’ just the same
Daddy said, son, you better see the world
I wouldn’t blame you if you wanted to leave
But remember one thing, don’t lose your head to a woman that’ll spend your bread
So I got out

Okay, not exactly sage advice but a picture of family interaction nonetheless. But the amygdala, you ask? What’s that about?

Conditions such as anxiety, autism, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and phobias are suspected of being linked to abnormal functioning of the amygdala, owing to damage, developmental problems, or neurotransmitter imbalance.Image result for amygdala pictures"

As automatically as breathing, folks shared themes and details of hurts and impossible persons and situations related by blood, marriage, or adoption. Toil and trouble; family bubble. I think we could have talked for hours and not even scratched the surface of the topics. “You think your sister-in-law sucks;  let me tell  you about mine!”  I’m pretty sure folks are still chatting about their family black holes today.Image result for nature vs nurture scales images"

What’s choice and what’s genetics in a person’s behaviors? How can you tell the difference? Does the difference matter or just the resulting behaviors? What a bee hive we opened up! But that’s where the honey gets made, friends. “Mama always told me not to stare into the sights of the sun, but Mama, that’s where the fun is.” (Bruce S. “Blinded by the Light”)Image result for beehive honeycomb images"

At the root of relationships, I believe, is love (the honey). A seemingly insurmountable problem is that there are dozens of definitions and types of love. And then evolving maturity levels of love can also screw up the gears of relationships over time. Parental love, brotherly love, friendship, romantic love, lust, self love, love of money, love of justice, love of mercy, conditional love, unconditional love, and the list of types can keep on going. The evolution of love complicates the types. Humans mature from dependent infants/toddlers into increasing levels of independence as older children and adolescents. Not all children mature into adults, however, let alone wise adults. I’m thinking of any episode of “Everybody Loves Raymond”. The men portrayed are simply big male children, pampered and enabled to not grow up, ruled by sex and chocolate cake.

Image result for ninja warrior course images"

Back to our small group church table… it seemed to me that practicing a mature and healthy love was the equivalent of an emotional ninja warrior course you run blindfolded. Most of the time you wind up in the water, beaten and bruised. Discouraged by all the obstacles in your path. “No good deed goes unpunished” goes the old cynical expression. Yep, it feels like that is true more often than not. Image result for finite love images"

One essential question to answer, I believe, is this one: is love finite or infinite? How you answer this question will determine your later behaviors. So let’s say a family of a mom, dad, and three kids is our laboratory. Our finite love family share a belief that love is a fixed quantity that is transactional. Implicit in this belief is another belief that if things aren’t evenly distributed, then unfairness is afoot and someone is getting screwed over, hurt, and then angry or sad.Image result for sad drama masks"

Let’s say the kids are Billy, age 12; Cindy, age 9; and Becky, age 5. The Finite family order a large pizza with sixteen slices. Evenly distributed, each family member would be given 3 full slices and 1/5 of the remaining slice. Otherwise favoritism and hurt feelings may arise. This is folly, as I’m sure you already see. If Becky can only eat one slice and she’s full, what’s to be done with her additional 2 1/5 slices? Even if Billy or Mom or Dad would like to eat them, it won’t be equal and then not fair in The Finite Family. Sure, slices can be wrapped and frozen for another time, but what if little Becky just does not like pizza? Let alone what toppings may be on it. Image result for large pizza pictures"

Then with birthdays and Christmas everything must be equal, because if Billy gets one more present than his siblings, it’s interpreted as their loss. So they all get a soccer ball. Billy plays soccer. Cindy does not. And Becky isn’t into sports yet. Win, lose, lose comes out an unwise attempt at win, win, win wherein one size fits all. Image result for single soccer ball image"

If you approach love as a zero sum game, it does not end well. In fact, possessiveness takes over since the husband or wife mistakenly believes he/she cannot share their spouse with others. And naturally parents can only have one child, because how could you divide the love of the first born with a second born? This sort of finite love creates a scarcity model and fosters a sense of division. Imagine this model when Jesus fed the five thousand with two fishes and three loaves. He would have ordered the disciples to cut the two fish into 5,000 even pieces. Same with the loaves. Everyone would get a useless taste only, no sustenance.Image result for jesus feeds the 5000 pictures"

A healthy love multiplies. How? It’s one mystery for which I need no proof. Faith rewarded over time gives me certainty about this concept. Maybe you’ve experienced Amish friendship bread. You divide it with friends, and each sample then swells into its own loaf over time if the receiver does their part….Image result for friendship bread  definition"

A common cycle is based on the addition of one cup each of sugar, flour, and milk every five days, with bread baked and extra starter shared every tenth day. The ten-day cycle produces five cups of starter, which must be either used to bake bread, given away, or used to start a new cycle. A common suggestion is to bake one loaf of bread, give away three cups of starter, and to save the remaining one for the next cycle.

As long as no one breaks the chain, everyone eats sweet bread into infinity, whether you like them or not.Image result for paupers feeding one another pictures"

744. Death Delivers Like FED EX

Image result for fedex delivery man in grim reaper outfit pictures"One of the unavoidable lessons life teaches you, if you live long enough, is that Death comes to us all. No matter if we order it from Amazon or not; no matter if we sign for the package or not; no matter if we live healthy lives and eat well, exercise, and pray. Death does not discriminate. He comes to every one of us in a hoarse rattle, a last gasp, a seizure of breathlessness.Image result for fedex truck images"

He’s a quiet guy. Dark. He casts no shadow because he is a shadow. Like a black cat slinking along a black wall, Death finds a way around and through whatever barriers you might erect to forestall him. Let’s call them defense mechanisms. So many.Image result for black cat in front of black wall images"

I suppose one of the most common is to ignore and deny Death. Avoid hospitals and funerals. Find reasons not to attend a dying relative or friend because it hurts too much or makes you sad or scares you closer to Death. Don’t talk about it. Skip the obits. Change the subject. Sweep it all under a lovely Persian carpet, and then prattle on nervously about the carpet’s beauty and value floating on the hidden cremains in your living room. Keep on living on in your living room…anxiously…as you assiduously avoid death.Image result for persian rug images"

It’s inescapable: the longer you live, the more parallel deaths you experience. At age 64 I can’t recall all of the folks I knew at one time who have expired, passed on, crossed over, and any other nice euphemism you can think of for DIED. DECEASED. Kids I played Little League baseball with. The jerk across the street, Steve, and his sister the local tomboy girl, Judy. Neighbors. Parents. Aunts and uncles. Cousins. In laws. Outlaws. Coworkers. Clients. Babies too. Too many to track. Yet each comes as an unexpected poison arrow piercing my psyche…Still a surprise though less and less shocking through repetition.Image result for arrow piercing a man's back images"

The first big death in my life was JFK. I was in second grade and tender hearted. It was overwhelmingly traumatic to me, my family, my church, the entire country. It seems to me that in 1963 a dignified unity prevailed. We all grieved. The Warren Report concluded an exhaustive investigation, and the assassination was processed as best it could be…until a thousand conspiracy theories popped up later. The unimpeachable FBI assured us then that there were no conspiracies. Until we found out later there were.Image result for jfk  pictures"

Five years later MLK was murdered and then Bobby Kennedy in April and June of 1968. BANG! BANG! in front of the cameras, in front of civil rights unrest, in front of the raging Vietnam War, in front of disbelieving millions. Whatever dignity and unity had prevailed in 1963 was not to be found. There was no time to grieve as chaos consumed the country. Riots and marches erupted everywhere like mushrooms after too much rain.  Langston Hughes said it better,

Image result for a raisin in the sun poem"Image result for riots in d.c. 1968 images"

Well, it exploded and the hits kept coming, closer and closer into the 1980’s. Reagan nearly killed. John Lennon definitely killed. Childhood and adolescent mile markers were blown off their footings, leaving only mannequin feet in the display window of J.C. Penney on Washington Street. Doubts about safety and unity increased with each upset in the news. Death was coming closer and sooner than anyone expected.Image result for john lennon death photos"

1984 began for me with the promise of a second child. Another girl we were told. We prepped her nursery room in the old farmhouse we lived in. It was the third bedroom on the second floor, just before the attic steps. It would have purpose now with our new arrival. Who was late, quite past her due date. In the moments before life enters the world, you don’t expect Death to sneak in the hospital door behind you, to put on scrubs and pretend to be an ob-gyn nurse without an alarm sounding. But he did manage to glide in unseen.Image result for vampire nurse images"

When she finally was birthed, our joy was followed by panic. Our baby could not breathe in this atmosphere. Ironically, she could only live in utero. Birth equalled death for her. Her un-oxygenated life lasted just about ten minutes from birth to death. In that time period gravity ceased to exist for us. We floated in some thick protective fog across a wasteland. The future evaporated into darkness. And that darkness settled on our guts like thick tar. Everything became slower and unfamiliar– breathing, swallowing, eating, sleeping. As if we’d both had a stroke simultaneously and could barely remember how it used to be… how did it go?Image result for fog covered fields images"

My father died a year later. His was not an unexpected death. I had 29 years to prepare. Still there was an odd detachment, that familiar foggy darkness which did not lift for a while. Watching the old movie Field of Dreams two years later, I found myself uncontrollably sobbing and coughing up an indigestible grief creature from my guts. An antelope or a wildebeest. There were just enough unconscious overlaps in that movie to drill a shaft into my un-dormant Vesuvius of grief. Out came the sulfuric vapors and energy I had suppressed in an emotional vomit lava flow that seemed like insanity dripping down my face in a wretching fevered fluid. So abnormal was this experience that I rented that movie again and had a similar experience, though less intense. My father had been my baseball coach, so when the catcher turns out to be Kevin Costner’s youthful father, all the unconscious tumblers clicked and the floodgates flew open. You can’t explain these things to engineers or scientists; they need so much more proof than an elderly widow whose last child has died. Faith trumps science in the heart.Image result for field of dreams stills with costner and the catcher"

Now in this millennium it’s friends. It’s folks I knew for a time but not a lifetime. They all hurt, mind you, but less and less as my time winds down. Is it easier to grieve when you know your own hour is closer, or does that maturity make life’s wine more precious, harder to let go? In any event, Death’s on time delivery is still nearly perfect.

743. Here and Now

Image result for here and now signs"What’s so special about living in the here and now?  Sounds like leftover hippie-dippy talk from the 1960’s, I know. But there is truth in this simple concept. When we live in our own moment, in our own skin, we feel our feelings and our sensory input. In the here and now we take our own pulse and bring consciousness to our breathing.  As I type this post, it is 1:59 p.m. Eastern Standard Time in my office. I know it’s six hours later in London and most of Europe, but that is there and now. I can’t be there and here simultaneously. I might be able to read the news posts about what’s happening there, but I cannot experience their supper time moment. It’s 10:59 a.m in Los Angeles. Likewise, I can’t be there to experience their late morning moment. “So what?” you ask.

Image result for fly on window gif"The what is this: anxious people try to live in the future. They overthink and hyper-cogitate themselves into the illusion of being in the future; meanwhile their body and breath and emotions remain back here in the now. What fills in the gap between their psychological illusion of being in the future and their somatic reality of being stuck in the here and now is ANXIETY. It’s a prickly sort of mental fiberglass mesh that holds a person’s mind and body together while the mind is struggling to be elsewhere. Anxious people buzz like houseflies on the inside of a double  paned window. The little guy can see the vast outdoors where other creatures move freely, but he is stuck back on the windowsill of the here and now hotel.

You can almost hear his frustrated little fly brain screaming, “Let me out. I want out of here. All my problems are in the here and now. Life sucks on this side of the window. If I could only find a way around or through this glass wall, then I’d be calm and happy out there.” Now this is just a metaphorical way in to my counseling rooms, where humans strive to get out of their marriages, jobs, situations, guilt, shame, compulsions, addictions, old narratives, lies, mythical beliefs, affairs, grief, etc. They buzz and flap and buzz some more. The faster they do so, the less likely it is that they will escape. Image result for fly hitting window gif"

“Your coping strategy is killing you.”

“What does that mean?”

“Well, when you got out of prison, you said you were all in for Jesus.”

“What’s wrong with that?”

“The rigidity of how you apply your newfound faith. You are so grateful for being saved and set free that you…”Image result for tony shalhoub as monk pictures"

“I am so grateful. I can’t shut up about my testimony. I’ll talk 24/7 about Jesus. And why everyone needs saving and grace and such. I am all or nothing, man. 100%. Absolutely saved by grace…”

“…that you override the reality of brokenness in front of you. You go right to gettin’ right with Jesus that you don’t hear the pain of others. You are on to solution and Scripture verses before you check with the broken person in front of you.”

“How can that be wrong, dude? I thought you were a Christian.”Image result for hyper piano player gif"

“How can it be wrong? Take any piece of beautiful music and run it at warp nine speed. Pick one–  Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata for instance. If you play it too fast, it will feel like some amphetamine-fueled bluegrass tune. At normal speed it should last 15 minutes, all three movements. But if you crank it up three or five times faster, you’ll be done in 3 to 5 minutes, right?”

“Yeah. What’s the point?”

“The point is if you talk or play music faster than intended or faster than the listener can process, then you are not joining with the listener. Instead, you are driving a staccato wedge between you and the other. If you go at a tattoo gun speed, you better have some ink.”Image result for tattoo gun gif"

“What? A tattoo gun with no ink? That would suck, dude. It would just puncture the other person’s skin and not leave anything of value, just pain.”


“Are you saying that’s what I do, just drill into my wife’s ears without leaving any good traces.”


“So I need to shut up and listen, huh?”Image result for red ears pictures"


“But I have so much to say; it’s busting out of me like Dolly Parton’s boobs in a 32 B training bra.”


“You’re just gonna say ‘Yep’ aren’t you?”


“So I have to slow down and wait for my wife to talk; and when she does, I ain’t supposta tell her what to do.”Image result for speak no evil images"

“Uh huh.”

“Okay, I’ll just sit here and listen real hard. Why don’t you say something and I’ll see if I can follow along right. Okay?”

“All right. Let’s go to the adulteress woman that Jesus protected from stoning. Did he lecture her on adultery? Did he douse her with Scripture and then light a match? Did he scream at or argue with her accusers? You know he didn’t, and yet he had remarkable results, so great that 2,000 years later we’re still talking about it.”Image result for jesus and the adulteress woman images"

“Amazing. I feel pretty good just thinking about it. You know I… I…I’m gonna keep my mouth shut.”

“Good. Then there was the Samaritan woman at the well. Remember her? She had five husbands and was living with a man who was not her husband. Seemed pretty promiscuous, right? But if she had been, why wasn’t she stoned after husband one or two? That was the law. But five men divorced her without a stoning. Hmmmm. You know a Jewish husband could divorce his wife if she was sterile. That’s the only reason I know of why she was still alive when she met up with Jesus at the well.”Image result for jesus and the woman at the well images"

“Well, I’ll be! I never.”

“I never did either, Brother. When I gained that information, my condemnation turned to pity and compassion for this sterile woman. I don’t recall Jesus tattoo talking her into submission.”

“I hear you, Bro. I really hear you.”Image result for listening images"




742. Salvation

3 Bears Shrek      Joel’s mind raced the way it does when he gets sweetened caffeinated iced tea sometimes…jacked up and edgy…barely contained… aggressive even. He needed all his wits to get out of this frozen pickle caper. The helicopter roared northward toward Argentina. He knew arrest and a crippling rescue bill awaited him. Even worse, Bucky would be transported to Guantanamo, perhaps forever more. For this brief moment he held his fate in a loaded Montblanc fountain pen, aimed right at the airship pilot’s goggles. Once they landed, the jig would be up, his impotent ploy disarmed. “Think, think, think!!!” He pondered every book and movie of escapes he’d ever witnessed. Houdini, Svengali, Nixon. Songs, poems, folk tales, cartoons. He was desperate to save himself and Bucky. But how?

Across the fog of time came the way, the way out…D.  Then B.  What was this? A code from the great beyond? Then Cooper. D.B.Cooper. “That’s it!!” He nearly soiled himself. The story came to him in fits and starts…

Image result for db cooper"

Dan Cooper is the pseudonym of an unidentified man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in the northwest United States, in the airspace between Portland, Oregon, and Seattle, Washington, on the afternoon of Wednesday, November 24, 1971. The man purchased his airline ticket using the alias Dan Cooper but, because of a news miscommunication, became known in popular lore as D. B. Cooper. He extorted $200,000 in ransom (equivalent to $1,260,000 in 2019) and parachuted to an uncertain fate. Despite an extensive manhunt and protracted FBI investigation, the perpetrator has never been located or identified. It remains the only unsolved case of air piracy in commercial aviation history.Image result for parachute pictures"

Joel licked his lips with satisfaction and then applied some cherry flavored Chapstick with his left hand. “We’re not going to Argentina, buddy.”

Piloto, “But Senor, we must. I cannot just land anywhere.”

Joel, “I’m not talking about landing, sonny boy. I want you to fly over the Falklands.”

Piloto, “Sir, that is British air space. I am forbidden. It could start another war.”

Joel, “Do it!”Image result for falkland islands map"

Piloto, “But sir, we do not have enough fuel to make the trip to Buenos Aries.”

Joel, “My good man, that is not my problem. I was forced onto this airship against my will. Now I suppose you, you must… do you know that old song, ‘It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to’?”Image result for lesley gore pictures"

Piloto, “Si, in Spanish. Uhhh, Lesley Gore, yes? How did it go?”

Joel, “Good memory, fly boy. Let’s see, I’m more a classical aficionado, but I’ll try…

It’s my party, and I’ll cry if I want to
Cry if I want to, cry if I want to
You would cry too if it happened to you
Nobody knows where my Bucky has gone
But Joelly left the same time
Why was he holding his hand
When he’s supposed to be mine?Image result for lesley gore pictures"

Well, that was my theme song when you captured me. But Lesley Gore had a sequel hit. Perhaps you recall that one too, Pedro?”

Piloto, “No, senor. I am empty of trivia recall. Plus I am trying to fly this airship while you hold me hostage with a golden fountain pen.”

Joel, “Well, it was called ‘Judy’s Turn to Cry’. It’s a revenge song from my youth.

I’ll sing a few lines…

Aww when Judy left with Johnny at my party (my party)
And came back wearing his ring
I sat down and cried my eyes out
Now that was a foolish thing
‘Cause now it’s Judy’s turn to cry
Judy’s turn to cry
Judy’s turn to cry
‘Cause Johnny’s come back
To meImage result for my boyfriend is back images"
You see, there was an ironic reversal and Johnny came back to her. Poetic justice was served a bit late but was delicious. Hey, nah. Hey, nah, my boyfriend’s back.”
Piloto, “Senor, I don’t follow. What does Judy and Johnny have to do with us now?”
Joel, “I’m trying to paint you a picture and leave you with a pair of bubble gum songs to ruminate upon after Bucky and I have left you.”
Piloto, “But Senor, you cannot escape. Once we land, you will be arrested. There is no escape.”
Joel, “Aha, that’s where you are wrong, Pedro. I believe I see the Falklands on the starboard side there.”Image result for aerial photo of falkland islands"
Piloto, “That is port side, sir.  The islands are straight ahead.”
Joel, “Oh well, drop altitude, Pedro. I’d like to be around 12,000 feet.”
Piloto, “Senor, you are not thinking what I think you are thinking.”
Joel, “If you are thinking about parachuting to freedom, then you are in sync with my think. Call your men to bring Bucky forward.”
Piloto, “Sir, the cross winds, the ocean current, your advanced age. It is a suicide jump. Please, you can pay the fines and be home by summer.”
Joel, “Pedro, if you only knew the daredevil behind this fountain pen, you’d realize what a silly plea you just uttered. The altimeter says we’re at 12,000 feet. Bucky? Bring him next to me.”
Once Bucky was bundled in Joel’s free arm, something astonishing happened. The ink bladder of his fountain pen exploded, squirting squid black ink SQI1123 into Pedro the Pilot’s goggles. It dripped into his mouth as he screamed for naught. Joel kicked out the passenger side door and leaped to freedom, “Geronimo!”Image result for parachute leap gif"
He recalled his one parachute lesson from the mid sixties boot camp at Fort Rucker. “Count to 3 Mississippis and pull the rip cord”, his drill sergeant had screamed into his face. At this rate, his chute would deploy around 8-9,000 feet, ensuring him time to assess the situation and steer his parachute toward safety. Being a bit of a fraidy cat, he simply counted “1, 2, 3. Pull!!” The violent upward jerk as the chute deployed nearly caused him to lose Bucky, but he held on like Harrison Ford in any movie he was ever in.
As the chute glided into British territory, Joel smiled and felt the peace of knowing he and Bucky would be treated well and repatriated to Shippensburg as international heroes…with no out of p ocket expenses.Image result for parachute leap gif"

741. Regumption

Image result for Antarctic camps pictures"As the emir and Joel Cousteau passed the U.N. peacekeeper penguins and ducked into the triage tent, they came across twelve beds with red-eyed EMU zealots, rocking and squeaking out passages from their holy book, the Spheniscidae, as they violently flapped their chests in self flagellation. The emir explained that penguins can get carried away in religious zealotry just like human beings, especially if they are exposed to too much western cuteness and condescension. Being detained in black ops sites, poked and prodded, waterboarded even.

Image result for senior penguin pictures"

“Ezspecially ze horeeble snow globes. Zhey are enough to break a bird, sending heem into fits o’ screamio. You in de vest do not appreziate how pure ve penguins are. You see us only as cute chicks and docile vaddlers. You make stupeed assumptions ve very much deeeslike.”

Again Joel was seized with guilt and shame. In his ignorant arrogance and arrogant ignorance he had failed to appreciate Bucky for who he was. All those seemingly happy shakes of the snow globe had been objectified horror and humiliation for Bucky. Only now was he fully able to appreciate man’s inhumanity to his feathered friends. He fell to his knees in humble and earnest surrender.Image result for man praying for forgiveness picture"

“Dear God, forgive me. I have seen the error of my myopic ways in an awkward sort of way. And I vow to be a better man, a sacrificial man. If Bucky lives, I pledge all my earthly wealth and energy to raise him as my own son; to help his flock; and to end the arrogant ignorance that has darkened my mind. I promise to make good on my napkin will for Burrito to have my Spyder once and for all. Furthermore, I recant all the horrible thoughts and words I have unjustly hurled at him. (As an addendum, I want to make clear here that the horribly just comments are not up for negotiation.) Amen.”

The emir turned to him and said, “I see you are holy man, Joel Cousteau. You pray to your God for our Bucky. May He hear your verds and grant your vequests. I’m afraid it vill take a miracle to save heem in his fevered fury.”

Just then a throbbing noise grew louder and louder outside the tent. “Vhat is dat, meester Joel? Is your God now a helicopter?”Image result for south pole rescue helicopter pictures"

“No, but just maybe my prayers have been answered.” He ran out into the swirling snow to see an orange rescue chopper setting down fifty yards away. Six men in rescue suits, helmets and goggles jumped out.

Over the noise of the chopper, the lead man of the six shouted, “Are you Joel?”

“I am. Who are you fellows?”

“Your tour company sent us to follow your GPS signal and extract you from the mission. You’ve been off the grid too long.”

“Nonsense. I’m fine. I’ve found my best friend Bucky. Now if you want to be useful, you can carry his cot onto the chopper and get him back to civilization.”

“Negatory, second Lieutenant!”Image result for Arctic soldier pictures"

Joel was stunned that this stranger knew of his Army Reserve rank from his turbulent 1960’s college days.

“Yes, we reviewed your ROTC records from the Vietnam era. Stand down, Lieutenant. I am Major Domo of the 42nd Argentinian Airborne Division. You need to come with us one way or another.”

“I will not leave without Bucky, he’s a, uh, U.S. citizen and a Private First Class. Major Domo, we cannot leave one of our own on the battlefield.”Image result for saving private ryan pictures of hanks and damon face to face"

“Ahhhhh, you  have me there, Lieutenant! Very well. Men, seize Private Bucky and extract him as well. We will add it to the bill.”

Joel, “Bill? You aren’t going to charge me for this mission of mercy?”

Major Domo,” Joel, you have your words all wrong, mate. It’s a mercenary mission. Remember the contract?  $150,000 if you need to be extracted for any reason. I have a copy of your signed contract here on my I-pad.”Image result for check images for $150000"

“But, I, uh, this can’t be!! I won’t stand for it. I, I, uh, do you know who I am?”

Major Domo, “We covered that part already, Pops. Remember? It’s a done deal.”

Joel, “I am the cheapest skate on the cheapskate circuit, roller and ice divisions. I drive 50 miles past a Motel 6 to save ten bucks at a Motel 5. I negotiate with parking meters. I keep the tags on my formal clothes and return them after hoity  toity engagements because it avoids the rental fee. I can’t do this!! My ancestors will rise from Scottish and Swiss graves and revolt against my immoderate spending. I could be killed by pike and pitchfork, by my own people. Please, Major.”Image result for medieval tribes from Scotland with weapons pictures"

Major Domo, “It’s like this, Joel: get on the chopper under your own power or I’ll taze you, bro. Got it? Your VISA platinum card has already been charged.”

Joel, “Okaaaay!” With great resignation, Joel hopped onto the chopper as the other men carried Bucky’s cot.

One of the orderlies commented loudly, “This one has typhus red eyes. Looks radicalized, Major. He’ll have to go to Guantanamo for psychological scrubbing.”

Aghast, ashamed, achoo! Joel was caught in another moral quagmire. He had contributed to Bucky’s radicalization. He now had a terrible moral choice to make. He began to hatch a plan that was both devious and economical. He waved good bye to the emir and the entire EMU colony as the chopper lifted off. If only they knew the deal he had just made with his own devil, they would not be happy flappin’ him.Image result for aerial shot of penguin colony pictures"

“We need parachutes, Major. It’s in the Geneva Convention.”

“Very well. Wilson, get this man and this penguin parachutes.”

In a matter of minutes Wilson returned with an adult parachute and one for a doll. Joel waited, assessing the time to strike the unsuspecting crew.  In two hours Argentina came into view. The chopper pilot communicated in Spanish for a medic team to be on standby. As the pilot clicked off after “Over”, Joel sprang into action. He whipped out his gold plated Montblanc fountain pen and pointed it in the pilot’s face. “If you don’t want a total black out experience, Chopper Boy, keep on flying until I tell you what’s good for you.”Image result for Air Force One movie stills" Clearly Joel Cousteau had passed the point of no return. From here on he would be branded an international fugitive.






740. Mushing Onward

Image result for dog sled pictures"Eleven men were unaccounted for after the freak snowstorm. The dogs were in fair shape, however, and so the load out was about the same with extra food now that the numbers had shrunken down from 41 to 30. Harsh, true, to measure men by how much Hormel chili they consumed, but 0n the live edge of survival that’s all that matters.  Frivolity ceased to exist now. As Shackleton took his measurements for the South Pole, Joel continued to scan the endless white horizon for Bucky. Image result for penguin colony pictures"

After two more days of steady mushing, the group encountered a large city of emperor penguins, perhaps 200,000 strong. It looked like a formal Woodstock Festival. Hope and dread mixed in Joel’s mind. The odds were stacked against him he knew, but it was still possible that his best friend was in the swarming flock of tuxedoed upright birds. The noise was deafening as they approached the outer ring of the settlement. Such a cacophony he had not heard since warm ups by the Shippensburg Community Band stateside. With great exuberance Joel ran toward the big birds. He had read of the extinct colossus penguins that stood six feet eight inches tall, so he was a bit underwhelmed that the average height of the flock was around four feet, a good twenty inches shorter than he. The moment was upon him. He whipped out his empty snow globe to show penguins while miming “Have you seen Bucky?” in American sign language. Disappointed, stunned even at their ignorance, Joel let out a mournful cry from frost bitten lips. “Bucky!!!”Image result for exhausted figure in snow race pictures"

He stumbled onward, not caring for his life or whether he could find his way out of Penguin City. His brain seemed frozen and unable to process reality, like an eternal brain freeze from a Popsicle on a summer’s day. That’s when a bilingual penguin approached him, speaking a nasally, clipped English similar to a New Zealand dialect. “My good man, what is the matter? I’ve heard your mournful cry and I am at your service. The name is Albert.”Image result for talking penguin gif"

Joel could not tell if he were hallucinating, but at this juncture he did not care. “Albert, have you seen my best friend Bucky? He’s black and white and used to fit in this snow globe.”

“Short chap, I suppose. No, I haven’t seen one of our boys at that height, lad. We are all much taller. You must be looking for a Eudyptual Minor penguin. EM’s. Nice birds but quite small, you know.”Image result for eudyptula minor penguin pictures"

“But where, how? All these years I thought Bucky was a pure emperor penguin.”

“Ahem, political correctness is the law in Antarctica, mate. You mustn’t practice exclusionist or racist processing or labeling of birds here, yank. We are egalitarians.”

“Oh no! I’ve done it again. I am a closet racist in my ignorant arrogance. I’m so sorry, Albert, if I have offended you.”Image result for embarrassed eskimo face"

“Nonsense. I am a Unitarian myself. I see that you are mentally limited by a brain freeze, and I accept you as you are. Uh, what is your name?”

“Joel, Joel Cousteau, international adventurer.”

“Well, my pleasure, Joel. The first church of the United EM’s, or EMU’s is over this rise, about two kilometers Southwest. But they are a fiesty bunch, suffering as they do from PPS. Petite Penguin Syndrome.”Image result for church in antarctica pictures"

“Thank you, thank you, Albert. Here’s a dried, salted red herring in gratitude.”

“We call it fish jerky, Joel. Mmmmm, delicious. Now off you go.”

Joel practically sprinted over the rise ahead, nearly running into a sign and a metal pole archway that announced he was entering the Norwegian slice of Antarctica. The sign told him to declare all his possessions and pass through the metal detector. Being a law abiding attorney first and foremost, he emptied his pockets and announced to the great blue sky what he was carrying, and then trudged on. “How silly. Anyone could just walk around that archway. Duhhh.”Image result for doorway in snow landscape picture"

In the distance Joel saw thousands and thousands of tiny penguins milling about an inlet, diving in and hopping out of the aquamarine blue canyon, like fleas on a blue tick hound. He began to jog and canter toward them, which caused the little guys to turn in a defensive drill, marching to meet him in crack units of 100 fearless EM’s. These same mini-penguins had fought off leopard seals in similar phalanxes, pecking the larger predators to bits like icy pirahnas. Image result for piranha gif"

Coming to his senses, Joel realized he had no Albert to interpret for him. He stopped and waved the empty snow globe. “I come in peace for Bucky.” Still they charged hard at him. Joel had no choice but to bring out his secret weapon– a penguin headed Pez dispenser with cod flavored Pez pellets. The phalanxes broke ranks as mini-penguins scrambled for his sweet deceptions. Finally, the head mini EM came forward from the chaos. He had a fancy turban on his head made from a Norwegian flag. Image result for norwegian antarctica pictures"

This emir EMU spoke with a South African/Indian twang to his English, clearly his second language. “Whart is it that you be vanting, meester? Ve have no meet on our bones. Surely you do not vant to eat us.”

Once again Joel told his sad tale, only this time the emir penguin’s eyes registered an acute understanding as he nodded. “Yes, ve have Bucky.”

“Oh my goodness, where, how, when can I see him?” Joel was dizzy with delight at the news.

“Vell, ve have a small problem, meester sveet candy man. You see, Bucky has been radicalized, as you say in de vest.”

“You mean he’s gone rogue? Jihadist? Noooooooo.”Image result for crazed  penguin gif"

“Please, control yourself, meester. You see, it is a problem vith our youth. Vithout purpose and jobs, they can be heepnotized by internet memes and fooled by click bait.”

“I don’t care. When can I see him. His is a brother to me. I’m certain I can talk him down.”

“Ve vill see”, said the emir penguin as they waddled over to the UNESCO tent, surrounded by ten peacekeeping EMU penguins in white helmets and automatic rifles. Image result for UNESCO tent in Antarctica pictures"



739. Saving Private Bucky

Image result for airplane taking off pictures"We left off with Joel in search of a way to Antarctica. His plane took off from Dulles IA after Fast Eddie the Uber driver dropped him at the terminal just in time for the flight to Atlanta and then Buenos Aries. From Buenos Aries it is no small trip to the southern most tip of Argentina where Captain Shackleton of the HMS Endurance waited for him in the port of Ushuaia. All told it would amount to nearly 36 hours in motion, southward ever southward like General Sherman’s scorched earth march to Atlanta and beyond. Joel’s mission was to find and extract Bucky from the vast snowy desert of Antarctica. But how?  He knew on a figurative level it was like finding a needle in a haystack. No; worse!  Literally it was finding a penguin in a snowstorm.Image result for snow squall in antarctica pictures"


Before he left the coffee shop, we chatted a bit.

“You know I actually did have a penguin snow globe when I was a child.”

“I sensed that. Somehow our chakras crossed and the message shot into my unconscious chi.”

“Hmm. Amazing. You seem to know what you have no right to know, and then you write about what you have no right to write.”

“It is a sacred mystery, Joel, how images and lyrics bubble up in the creative springs of poets and soothsayers’ grottoes of inspiration.”

“Are you trying to confuse me? Or is it just a gift of  yours?”

“It’s a gift, Joel, and I relinquish all claims of ownership now and forever more as you should likewise yield your claims over the Spyder. Just sign this napkin will and fold it over your key.”

“Are you trying to hypnotize me through repetition and recall?”Image result for hypnotic pocket watch pictures"

“Perhaps… perhaps it’s all a disembodied dream.”

“I never dream.”

“I was thinking that it was one of my dreams not one of yours.”

“You are doing it again.”

“What? Confusing or gifting you?”

“Yes, that.”

“Trust me for once, bro. This is serious. Bucky is lost! Go!!”

****************************************************Image result for shackleton dog sled pictures"

Once he found the Endurance, Captain Shackleton impatiently tapped his pocket watch and addressed him. “You must be the photographer. If it weren’t for my need to document this expedition for history’s sake, we’d  have sailed two days ago, laddy.”

Joel fumbled with his camera and suitcase. “Do you have a valet service, sir? A concierge, perhaps?”

“Shut up and get on board. A valet! What sort of nonsensical land lubberism is that? Ensign, set sail. Shove off, me hearties.”Image result for pictures of the Endurance ship"

Into the icy water the Endurance turned, no one on board knew it was to be a one way trip. It took four days to conquer the cruelly snapping jaws of the sea and arrive at the edge of the Antarctic Peninsula near Palmer outpost.  The men were excited to exit onto solid ground. They posed for Joel to snap official pictures. Some even kicked a soccer ball around. You know how Brits are about football, right?

“I’m not really a photographer”, Joel explained. “I’ve come in search of my childhood friend Bucky; he’s an emperor penguin who was kidnapped from my snow globe back in Pennsylvania.”

Steward Bigsley reflected, “You’re a good friend, mate. I could only hope if I’d been kidnapped from inside a snow globe that a brother like you’d come and find me. Bucky, you say?”

“Yes, Bucky. A truer friend never there was.”

Bigsley, “With such a captain as Shackleton, we’ll find him, sure we will.”

Off they marched the next day like conquistadors down the peninsula toward pagan penguin cities teeming with penguins of all shapes and sizes. The crew’s morale was high as they trudged forward on snow shoes while dogs pulled their sleds. The days were 22 hours of sunlight and blue sky.Hauled onto a flow at night

Joel’s heart thumped in anticipation of finding Bucky. He realized the odds were not in his favor, but he’d lived under Fortune’s protection lo these seventy plus years. In the distance he spotted the first colony of penguins; but something was very wrong. These penguins were all wrong. They had disturbing hair or head feathers. Until this moment he did not know he was a closet penguin racist, exclusively preferring only emperor penguins like Bucky. At this moment though he felt the revulsion toward this subspecies. Shame shot through him. “I’ve been arrogant in my ignorance. Back home at the Second Presbyterian Church I am the chairman of the inclusion committee. And here I am excluding birds who do not look like my Bucky. Forgive me, God.”Image result for penguin types pictures"

Joel fumbled for his fountain pen to record this deeply personal epiphany. It was just then that a snow haboob began to rise up on the fat end of the peninsula, charging at the crew of the Endurance. Fate had apparently turned against our lucky intrepid traveler. When the first edge of the snow haboob hit them, the men were shocked. It was a snownado, whirling in nearly a plasma form. Not flakes so much as loose, white meat sausage-snow hit the men with such force that they could only go prone, head down against the merciless monster. The unfortunate men who stood up, were blown end over end into the freezing water nearby, never to be found.Image result for south pole snowstorm pictures"

The freak summer storm raged for two days. Men and dogs huddled together in one mammal pile, taking turns at the outer edge in imitation of penguin colony behavior to conserve heat. For two days Joel’s only thought was Bucky. Against all odds he continued to call out “Bucky, Bucky” from his frozen foxhole. A reasonable man would call this a tragedy if the story ended at this point. However, neither Joel Cousteau nor his constant chronicler, Mr. Burrito Special, ever considered defeat. To quote the great man himself, “The only tragedy from which one can never recover is a non billable hour.”

On the third day an eerie calm appeared along with cerulean blue skies. The Antarctic was truly an upside down world. No matter, onward the men trekked to their appointment with destiny. Ocean Camp, 15th December 1915


738. Waddling with Penguins

Image result for penguin colony pictures antarcticaIt’s summer in Antarctica, folks, and that can only mean one thing: Joel Cousteau is on his way to another continent. His bucket list includes waddling with penguins apparently. Some men dance with wolves; others swim with sharks. However, the most interesting man in the world, aka Joel, waddles with penguins. I know, it sounds like a children’s book title, but there it is– the unvarnished Antarctican Truth, bold as a toucan’s bill.Related image

Oddly enough I have blogged on penguins in the past. Let me do some crack research here…. yes, way back in post 158. Totalitarian Penguins, a prescient piece about the overthrow of the planet by a Hitleresque Penguin named Flappin. So I am not exactly a newcomer to this business of penguinistas. It should come as no surprise if you have followed the misadventures of Joel in other posts; by now you know his many eccentricities as well as Walter Mitty-like gifts. The Easy Rider complex, the sousaphilia, the mule gigolo, crime stopper, civil rights protester impostor, biker gang consiglieri, galley slave, crack trap shooter, international cheapskate, and so much more.Taking dogs off Endurance

Anyway, the trip is an arduous one that requires a doctor’s approval, passports, shots, a ship’s round trip passage from Argentina, and hours of training for any possibility, including a totalitarian penguin uprising. Waivers must be signed and warnings acknowledged. For instance, if you have a medical emergency that requires a helicopter evacuation, the cost is a cool $150,000 in U.S. money. If  your credit card does not have a limit that high, then it’s an impromptu burial at sea. Pretty harsh, I think, but it’s the risk some courageous men are willing to take in order to waddle with penguins down under.Image result for antarctic rescue helicopter pictures

But wait!  There’s more. Once on the ice-covered continent, there can be no touching of penguins just like at any reputable strip club; and there are no poles except for the South Pole. As one treks on foot, if you should encounter a penguin on a foot path, you must yield him/her the right of way. Failure to do so will result in fines and points on your license issued by one of the sovereign nations who claim Antarctica…

There are seven sovereign states who have territorial claims in AntarcticaArgentinaAustraliaChileFranceNew ZealandNorway and the United Kingdom.

So just imagine this– you get a ticket in Antarctica, but the presiding magistrate is in France! One more reason not to molest a penguin in case you needed another.Image result for courtroom in costume pictures

What compels brave men like Joel Cousteau and Ulysses, you ask?  Each intrepid traveler has his own unique story. I happen to know Joel’s since he confided in me before the perilous journey, just in case. I was to keep the secret until and unless he was lost in the Antarctic and never returned. He instructed me to write this down and share it with his eulogy, coincidentally another blog post, 336. Ululational EulogiesImage result for humphrey bogart photos

It all began on Christmas morning 65 years ago. Joel was 8 years old and fired up about the presents under the Douglas MacArthur fir Christmas tree in his living room. He opened the big spherical present first. Lo and behold it was a brand new globe of the known world. He spun it and then began to study each country, imagining himself a world traveler even then. Hawaii was still a U.S. territory then, but he knew one day a banker’s convention would pay for him to visit. Bermuda, Iceland, Morocco, Italy, and so many other nations called out to him, “Visit me one day, Joel Cousteau.” He made a solemn vow that he would do all in his power to set foot on all seven continents, except maybe Antarctica, and sail the many seas in between despite his fear of discomfort and immoderate expense.Image result for antique world globe images

His next present was a snow globe from dear Aunt Marie which housed an adorable emperor penguin that flapped his wings as the globe was shaken. The penguin seemed to beckon Joel, “Don’t forget me”. He gave it the name of Bucky, a friend whom he could never touch. After some brief research he learned that penguins like Bucky only live in Antarctica, so his exception became his renewal of his General MacArthur solemn vow–“I shall set foot upon all continents, especially the home of Bucky, my friend the penguin. Perhaps one day I can go there and meet Bucky, like I met the Lone Ranger at the Zembo Temple last year.”Image result for snow globe with penguin pictures

The globe turned on its axis thousands of rotations, through the turbulent 1960’s, the svelt seventies, the egregious eighties, the nattering nineties, the roller coaster 0 oughts, and the twenty teens. Joel became an elder statesman with a predilection for tweed and travel. He began checking off  his bucket list– feral goats, smoked shark meat, Moroccan lamb, Bermuda beach crow, Irish eel, and so many more delicacies that I dare not list for fear of inciting my readers to drool on their screens. Scotland, Iceland, Morocco, Bermuda, Ireland, Italy, France, and the list goes on. Some called him the Rick Steves of Chambersburg. Image result for rick steves pictures

Years dragged by like a snoring glacier in a fjord. Joel did not spin the globe with the same fervency he had as a young lad. Bucky was put away on a dusty shelf next to the silver bullet at his assisted living cottage. Joel had nearly quit his quest for a foot on all the continents. He was content to simply go to Italian restaurants, Irish pubs, Indian buffets, and Caribbean cafes that popped up around town. His world conqueror blood had cooled to room temperature and his feet were often cold. Image result for withered old man pictures

One day he was snipping his nose hairs into submission when he looked in the mirror above and behind his reflection to the shelf where Bucky had been lodged these many years. In a panic he realized his best and longest lasting friend was gone. Only the snow globe remained. It was a locked door mystery as to how Bucky escaped and the rest of the Christmas scene remained just as it had always been. Image result for empty snow globe images

On that day the blood boiled in our hero and he pulled himself up to the challenge. “I will go to the ends of the earth for Bucky.” It was now January 2020 and fortunately for Joel a ship was leaving Bueno Aires in a week for the Antarctic. If he could get there in time, he could sail with the crew of the Endurance, the three-masted barquentine under the captaincy of Sir Ernest Shackleton. “Damn the torpedos. Full steam ahead!” Joel yelled at his own reflection in the mirror. Image result for shackleton expedition ship name

Unfortunately, this tale must be continued….