389. Bermuda High

Joel is off to Bermuda with the annual Veiled Bankers’ United Trust Fund Exchequer Diddlification Conference. VBUTFEDC abbreviated. Some just call it BUTFED; either way it needs to be deloused.  You have likely never heard of these tweedy, greedy money minders from small towns and medium size cities.  Once a year they meet secretly off shore to set mortgage and credit card rates at extortionist levels for poor schmucks like you and me and Bernie Sanders behind a tree to pay.

Sometimes called the Presbyterian Mafia by those in the know, these guys and gals have a lot of pull. Their weapon of choice is paper overloaded with obfuscation. They like to call it gravitas. I call it Enlarged Buttocks Syndrome. In German it’s pronounce BeegAhhhss, with a strong accent on the second syllable.

This year Elton John is going to be entertaining the money stormtroopers with his greatest, greatest hits… rumored to be getting $100,000 per song. He will perform from the deck of his yacht, anchored in international waters. He’s scheduled to sing a set of 15, under the assumed name of John Elton so that he can’t be taxed anywhere. (Don’t tell anyone, okay?) Encores are $150,000 each, according to my sources. Expect “Crocodile Rock” and “Saturday Night’s Alright” to bring the inebriated bankers off their BEEGAHHHSSES onto their etherized BEEGFEETS. Such an epic event must be held in international waters due to liability and corporate secrecy concerns also. If anyone ever found out how much money these carpetbaggers abscond with, the guillotine would be reinstituted and heads would roll like… well, like never. Still, I think a pocket sized guillotine could be great for trimming nails and sharpening pencils. Or a cheese stick cutter trinket that says, “I cut the Gouda in Bermuda”.

I am not envious, not much anyway. Okay, a little. I did call in a favor from my buddies at Andrews Air Force Base to scramble a couple of F 16s to shoot down any plane resembling VBUTFEDC’s charter, but I was a week premature in the catastrophication intercept. Captain Carl Wilco reported that his men sent a Fed Ex cargo jet into the Bermuda Triangle graveyard in flames. Pity. I have no more favors to use. Call it research without a riscence.

Reminds me of one of Elton’s songs, “Daniel” about a blind guy flying to Spain. (I don’t think he was the pilot.) His younger brother is the dramatic voice singing the song. I don’t think Elton will sing that one to the bankers. Too somber. You don’t want salty tears diluting your mojito gravitas. However, if you recall the love affair between Joel and Sheila the mule from the Grand Canyon post, I offer the following mash up with Sheila at the microphone… dim lights, heavy rouge and dark lipstick, sultry sway…

“Joel is travelling tonight at high altituda
I can see the red tail lights heading for Bermuda
Oh and I can see Joel, he’s waving goodbye
God it looks like Joel, must be the clouds in my eyes
They say Bermuda’s pretty though I’ve never been
Well Joel says it’s the best place that he’s ever seen
Oh and he should know, he’s been there enough
Lord I miss Joel, oh I miss him so much”
[Braying desperately, one hoof held against her forehead, three stomping in pain]
“Joel my muleboy you are older than me
Do you still feel the pain of the saddlesores that won’t heal
You hide your eyes, but you see more than I
Joel, you’re a star in the face of the sky”
[mule shuffle conga line with Cinco de Mayo sombreros bouncing]
 
“Joel is travelling at high altituda
I can see the red tail lights heading for Bermuda
Oh and I can see Joel waving goodbye
God it looks like Joel, must be the clouds in my eyes”
I do expect a VBUTFEDC endorsed version of “Bennie and the Jets” with Joel gassing out a lover’s reply to Sheila with Elton at the mic, substituting Sheila for Bennie and Steps for Jets. Something like this…
“Hey kids, shake it loose together
The spotlight’s hitting something
That’s been known to change the weather
We’ll kill the fatted calf tonight
So stick around
You’re gonna hear electric music
Solid walls of sound
Say, Candy and Ronnie, have you seen them yet
Uh but they’re so spaced out, Sh- She- Sheila and the Steps
Oh but they’re weird and they’re wonderful
Oh Sheila she’s really keen
She’s got electric boots a mulehair suit
You know I read it in a magazine
Sh-Sh- Sheila and the Steps
Hey kids, plug into the faithless
Maybe they’re blinded
But Sheila makes them ageless
We shall survive, let us pour ourselves a long….
Where we fight our clients out in the streets
To find who’s right and who’s wrong
Oh Candy and Ronnie, have you seen them yet
Uh but they’re so spaced out, Sh- Sh- Sheila and the Steps…”
Yep, I wish I could be there rockin’ the crocodile rock around the clock with Mr. Spock. But I’m back in Turtle Town drinking coffee, big shock, on a treadmill dock of routine with only one sock. See what I mean? If only I could roll like Senor Joel, Mr. Jellyroll. Holy Moly. Sholy he is the King of Whackamoley. I’d quit my dream of Olympic goalie, get totally married to Angelina Jolie. Never need to call the police on me.
But I digress. I need to  close with another Elton song for Trinitarian balance. Hmmm, wait, could it be? No. Is it Sheila bursting out of the waves, professing her undying love of her pale, faithless rider?
“I can’t light no more of your darkness
All my pictures seem to fade to black and white
I’m growing tired and time stands still before me
Frozen here on the ladder of my life
“Too late to save myself from falling
I took a chance and changed your way of life
But you misread my meaning when I met you
Closed the door and left me blinded by the light
“Don’t let the sun go down on me
Although I search myself, it’s always someone else I see
I’d just allow a fragment of your life to wander free
But losing everything is like the sun going down on me
“I can’t find the right romantic line
But see me once and see the way I feel
Don’t discard me just because you think I mean you harm
But these cuts I have they need love to help them heal”
And now it’s time to say goodbye to Joel and all his friends, frolicking free on a joyous junket, where the party never ends.
 Hakuna matata, my friend.
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327. Dilemmas and the Dalai Lama

Dilemmas are difficult double bind situations in life. The classic line “Damned if I do but damned if I don’t” sums up the word.

noun: dilemma; plural noun: dilemmas
a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more alternatives, especially equally undesirable ones. For example,
“the people often face the dilemma of feeding themselves or their cattle”.
The official word origin says dilemma comes from “Di (two) Lemma (premises)” but it could come from two lemurs, muttered by a drunken Austrian dude, “der lemurs”, as he exits a petting zoo in Munich.
 We all face them, dilemmas (not der lemurs) in life. I recall when I got a loan for the house we built in 1985. Interest rates were ridiculous at the time. Oh how the Reagan love slaves forget. It was not unusual to get a fixed rate of 15% on a twenty year loan. Great for the banks but untenable for regular slobs who bought their own lunches.  We took a gamble and risked a three year variable loan at 11.5%. It was dicey because we feared the rates would go up again like a drawbridge after three fixed years and we’d be stuck forever on the wrong side as the Trump Yacht sailed through the bridge’s gap. Fortunately the market corrected in that time and we refinanced at 9% and then a few years later at 7%.  Nice returns for the banks but a bloody mess for the average working family. Bankers butcher their customers and leave blood and oxtails on the floor when they are done “helping” their customers… in my overly dramatic slightly eccentric opinion.
 Image result for banker pictures
The dilemma part was that paying rent went nowhere while real estate prices were only going up and up. So if you rented cheap places you could live on the meager wages you earned but never acquire any long term assets. On the other hand, if you bit the bullet and bought overvalued real estate at historically inflated interest rates, you were skating on thin ice in April. No wonder that dilemmas are often compared to the horns of a bull. Either option will gore you to death.
 That’s got to hurt. Oddly, hard charging hot growth economies are called Bull Markets, butt as you can see, (or, as you can see the butt) timing is everything.  This matador should have cashed out five seconds earlier. He may be singing “Der Lemurs” with the drunk guy at the zoo in his newly acquired soprano register. Not Tony Soprano either. To the tune of Edelweiss,
“Der lemurs
Der lemurs
Every morning you greet me
Black and white, clean and bright
You look maniacally happy to greet me…”
Clink! goes the tequila bottle against the St. Pauli Girl growler as the new friends stroll along the wide streets of Montevideo.
“You are alright, Pedro, but why do you walk so funny?”
“My butt cheek got gored by an angry two thousand pound bull at 8 miles per hour, Claude.”
“You don’t say.”
“No, I just did say.”
“Did you know Al Gore invented climate change?”
“Claude, you’re drunk if you believe that.”
“But I’m drunk if I don’t….”
Sure, it’s all good and funny until some poor matador gets gored in his back door. I mean, how would the attending surgeon go about that procedure? Now I get the example given above, “do you feed the people or feed the cattle?” Neither the bull nor the matador is going to want to eat after this chance meeting. “Just ice water with lemon for me, thanks.”  Me, I’d slaughter the bull, cut the horn off, and send the matador to the ER on a cart with a hole in it for his shamed face to hide in while checking his Facebook page.
“Holy Guacamole!  I went viral for all the wrong reasons. My nameless faceless butt is famous. Oh the humanity!”
Now here is my dilemma:  at 500 plus words into a frothy no calorie word shake, I must develop the other horn, as promised by my title–> His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. Other authors who possess self respect, common decency and solid boundaries would stop here and delete the previous 500 words. But not a man named for an oversized Mexican flour tortilla. Burrito, you will be amazed to learn, means “little donkey” in Spanish or Mexican, as you wish. Sometimes also affectionately called jackass. I am not avoiding the Dalai Lama discussion with my trail of embedded footnotes. No, I’m just a curious guy.
 I do wonder what happened to the previous 13 Dalai Lamas, however. So I went in search of the truth at Google. In moments I was surrounded by more Tibetan Buddhist words than Madonna has stiletto heels. I had a hunch there might me a llama loose in the woodpile, if you know what I mean. And if you do, please tell me because I don’t know what I mean. Like a goat I pick all low hanging humor fruit, rotted or otherwise.  It’s delicious.
So, the Dalai Lama is the counterpoint to my first point, which I can’t recall making. In a nutshell it was about the dangers of drunk guys going to bull fights and singing songs from The Sound of Music. There was also something about interest rates and bull markets and bull crap. Let me cut to the quick–  the  man we have come to know as the Dalai Lama was a burned out accountant from San Francisco who moved to Montana, determined to start over again. He traded in his suits and lap top for a flowing robe collection, mostly saffron and scarlet. He looked like a college dean from Holy Cross on graduation day as he wandered about the hills and dales of Montana, looking for new meaning and purpose in his life. He took on a cowboy name, Dale, and began to raise and shepherd homeless llamas.

After several years, locals called him Dale the Llama Guy. It stuck. His flocks grew and his wisdom found a big enough sky to flourish beneath. Old Dale just spread out like smiling wildflowers, possibly edelweiss, blown along the foothills. One day, however, two slightly drunk guys came by singing “Der Lemurs”, and Dale knew what he needed to do… get to Tibet as fast as he could go, to save humanity from itself. And that, my children, is the whole truth about dilemmas and the Dalai Lama. Maybe.

230. Magical Mystery Tour

Okay, this post has nothing to do with the Beatles album of the same name, I just thought you might peek in if I baited you with art and then switched you into madness. I am currently under the influence of Pink Floyd and Cream at this very intense moment and my thoughts seem to be erupting slowly like methane bubbles rising out of the decaying detritus from the floor of an intellectual swamp and then popping onto this blank canvas you are reading. Visual flatulence… could be the name of a band from Toronto that never quite made it, like Spinal Tap. Anyway, at this morning’s Coffee Nation Summit things turned and twisted uglily (yes, I’m sayin’ that) as they normally do… five wet shower curtains in the wind on a drizzly day. Each very limited man put in his unlimited input, like PGA putters put in their putts or putzes, depending on your personal preference and people group. But put or putt or putz, no one was disputin’ Rasputin or Vladimir Putin due to Article I of the Nation’s Constipation:  no politics or religion will be broached or tolerated in Summit. Failure to comply will result in a slow, painful death by pun firing squad, which may take up to six months. [Most victims of the pun firing squad actually die of dehydration since they only drink coffee during the painful firing of the puns. They often beg for a quicker death near the end. It’s a cruel and inhumane way to die and must be carried out beyond the outer limits of the Geneva Convention in caves on the north beach of Aruba, aka Pun Island, where the pun is truly mightier than the sword.]

Joel our jovial attorney was in no hurry to get to work printing counterfeit money. He stayed quite a bit longer than normal. (I hesitate to use the word normal, since that has mental health implications that we cannot justify. We are abnormal putzes. If we had an alma mater, that would be our cheer: “We are… abnormal putzes. We are…”) He had shared his thimble of wisdom for the morning and invited us all to his summer tendonitis attorneyment. You’ve probably already guessed its name:  Thimbledon. It’s a fortnight of blindfolded barristers yelling legal citations back and forth over ankle high badminton nets followed by a round of icy mojitos on the  croquet lawn. Instead of golf carts they have summer interns push them around in wheelbarrows to avoid any possible DUI’s. This year’s theme is “Liability and Libation, A Study of Contrasts”. Most attendees will never forget last year’s rousing rendition of Pete Seeger’s “If I had a margarita, I’d hammer out justice, I’d hammer out freedom all over this land” by a young member of the local bar who chooses to remain anonymous. (It was Eddie Fickle, but you didn’t hear this from me.)

As Lance arrives, Joel says, “When I see you, I have to go.” The table reassured him that there are medications that can help with his random urinary urges. He did not protest as we offered various homeopathic remedies such as corn starch and fiber supplements to balance and help him control his aging bladder. My favorite suggestion was for him to sleep with a penny under his pillow each night to pay off the bladder fairy. With a sheepish grin he thanked us.

Big Steve regaled us with his pool maintenance tips and warned us of using outdated hoses on updated pumps. Someone could be violently hosed if the couplings did not get along. (There’s a Lady Gaga joke in their somewhere.)  And isn’t that a universal truth?  This was a natural segue into the topic of war. D.J. shared his near death experience in Iraq when a nursing mother attacked him with a squirting breast. His soldier buddy collapsed at the absurdity of it all, laughing himself into a helpless state as D.J. had a tense standoff with the milk bomber. Later he wrote it up as an encounter with an IEBD, Improvised Explosive Breast Device. “She was deadly accurate with that thing. I mean it, man. I was ready  to shoot back!” Imagine his PTSD flashbacks and nightmares. Huge zeppelins spraying laser streams of 2 % milk on him as he fights against his high count Egyptian cotton sheets and shudders, “Don’t milk taze me, bro!” It’s not funny. A simple trigger of a pool pump could throw a man back into his struggle for life in a godforsaken land of booby traps… something his recruiter completely failed to inform him about. Maybe one of the Thimbledon lawyers will take his case and together they can push wheelbarrows filled with young interns around Aruba. “Mojitos for everyone.”

Meanwhile Gene sits like a disgruntled Buddha with hemorrhoids who occasionally shouts, “Shut your face!” He gives his shots at the Nation, knowing that when he leaves he’ll be subservient to Lance’s razor at the barber shop tomorrow. ” N-N-Not to be smart, but I can’t argue with a man who’s got a razor at m-m-my neck.” He’s as meek outside of the coffee shop as he is cantankerous inside it. The Nation functions as a catalyzing poop magnet for Gene, keeping him emotionally regular from week to week.  Lance sat across from Gene and was not content until he got a blast, “Shut your pie hole, you!” This outburst led to bent over contortions of laughing.

And that leaves me. The nice thing about being a blogger or the Dictator for Life of Coffee Nation Summit is that you answer to no one except your wife. So I am under no legal or moral obligation to say what I did or did not contribute to the group… unless my wife jacks me up and makes me confess. Anyway, I remember others’ silliness far better than mine. So let it be written. Let it be sung.              The magical mystery tour is coming to take you away. Dying to take you away, take you today.