551. Time walks a pigeon-toed waddle

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Why start here?  I don’t know. Sometimes I just start a post in hopes of finding a destination, a bread crumb trail to gobble up, like pigeons out for a stroll. What do they find? Whatever they look for. And if they look for nothing, they may still find a crust of bread or a sunflower seed, maybe an ibuprofen. In the Google age it’s simple to find their diet,

Pigeons are natural seed eaters and only eat insects in small numbers. Normal pigeon diet is made of corn, wheat, cereals and other seed. Pigeons will add fruit and greens like lettuce, spinach, sprouted seeds, grapes  and apple in their diet. Or Skittles…

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Simple enough. They have adapted to humans all around the globe, showing up in all cities, famously flocking at the Vatican and Red Square. Yep. Funny how words like birds alight on the clotheslines of language. A pigeon is also a young attractive woman, though I’m not sure why you’d call a pretty girl a “pigeon”. Then again, why call girls “chicks”?Image result for pigeon flocks in flight gif

They are beautiful in flight, right? Almost majestic.

I read once that Ernest Hemingway trapped pigeons in Paris for dinner. He was hungry and poor. I have never forgiven him.

A dupe, sucker or someone easily cheated is also called a pigeon, I guess because pigeons aren’t so smart? I suppose they are easily caught and used up, both the birds and thusly marked victims. Image result for dupe or sucker pictures

Perhaps the extinct carrier pigeon was a duped victim of fowl play. Stories abound of the heroic sacrifices carrier pigeons made in war time, delivering mail, bullets, tanks, and a submarine in the Battle of Midway.Related image

The first message-bearing pigeon was loosed by Noah. The ancient Romans used pigeons for chariot races, to tell owners how their entries had placed. Genghis Khan established pigeon relay posts across Asia and much of Eastern Europe. Charlemagne made pigeon-raising the exclusive privilege of nobility. The Rothschild fortune is said to have been seriously augmented by a pigeon bearing news of the British victory at Waterloo. But it was in the Siege of Paris in 1870 that the carrier pigeon won its wings. (Please hold your applause until the end of the post. It’s hard, I know, when the grandeur of pigeon awe sweeps over one like a phantom wind fills the sails of a clipper ship. But try. Cross your legs if you must.)

My favorite pigeon has to be the stool pigeon, I think. It’s a term for criminals who act as decoys to lure other criminals into a legal dragnet. I imagine stool pigeons were once like decoy ducks that lure real ducks into target range. Stool pigeons must sit on stools in police interrogation rooms and coo, coo, coo away their accomplices. It is also suggested that stool pigeons were low life informants who sat on bar stools to gather nefarious information.

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Yes, there are pigeon associations. And you’ll never guess who is the president of the British Pigeon Racing Association. The very Queen herself, Elizabeth II.  Here she is as a young pigeonphile. Lovely, really, and don’t you dare call her a pigeon.

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Those Brits!!  Crazy, right? And you thought this was just an aimless tangent. Actually, so did I, but we are gaining traction now, Bob. Racing fowlers will immediately recognize the following grand champions from the middle of the twentieth century.  Who could forget Ginger Feathers and her epic flight of 1944? She practically won the war on P Day.Image result for marx brothers movies pigeon feathers

Now in a related but faraway galaxy comes Pidgin English, which is a form of broken English that is spoken in over two dozen lands that were once ruled by the Brits. (Note the British pigeon theme here.)

Pidgin English is a non-specific name used to refer to any of the many pidgin languages derived from English. Here’s a Nigerian example… or more.

7. Wetin dey happen? – What’s going on? (Marvin Gaye, where are you, man?) What’s happening?

11. Dem send you? – Have you been sent to torment me? (Republicans said this about Hillary.)

13. K-leg – Questionable.  Example – Your story get k-leg! Which means your story or gist sounds suspect or exaggerated. (POTUS Twitter feed)

23. Butta my bread – Answered prayers. Example – “God don butta my bread” which means God has answered my prayers (Note to gluten intolerant:  God don butta my gluten free bread. Dairy intolerant version, God don no butta my bread.)

25. I go land you slap – I will slap you! ( Again, POTUS Twitter feed)

One more jump, my friends, to gems. The pigeon blood ruby is a rare and precious stone.Image result for pigeon blood rubyJust look at that drop of crystallized blood. How valuable, you ask?  How about $30 million for this Sunshine Ruby? 36 carats strong.

Extremely rare: The 'Sunrise Ruby' sold for £19.3million at auction

But we are wandering aimlessly, having lost the narrative equivalent of the thread of Ariadne, and are doomed to be devoured by the mythical Minotaur. Yes, yes. No worries. I will simply launch my homing pigeon to find my way out of this Cretan labyrinth. Yes, even in myths pigeons can alight on another clothesline of meaning and provide rescue and comfort. When Daedalus made his famous wings to escape his prison, I like to think he used pigeon feathers for his apparatus. 

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A pigeon taught that falcon how to light a lady’s pipe, and yet not even a footnote of recognition. Shame! After the Great War, when carrier pigeons were replaced by reliable modern technology, a lot of them found work in Hollywood as stunt birds. Tragically, some unfortunates went into the adult bird film industry, where they were exploited for crowd scenes in Rome and Venice, working literally for peanuts.

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It breaks my heart to think of how far this once noble bird has fallen. However, I find comfort and promise in the adaptability of the pigeon. And so, I’ll leave you with fond memories of Bert telling his unfunny pigeon jokes to Ernie, which left Ernie nonplussed but Bert laughing like a bleating goat.   “Agh agh agh agh agh.” That’s all folks.Image result for bert pigeon laugh gif

 

550. Jokes for Nurses

Jan is having a gala event in June for the nursing school addition, including ballroom dancing, which is how we met several years ago. As she explained something intelligent to my wife at our last dance meeting, I pondered a nurse/dancing joke for Jan. I waited patiently for the opening.

“You know Jan, there is a famous nursing dance that came out of the Civil War era.”

“No, I didn’t know that.”

“Yep, it’s like a Chuck Berry one-legged hop called the Hacksaw Amputation without Anesthesia Polka at Antietam Battlefield. It’s a beauty.”

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“Really? How can you joke about… never mind. Of course you’d make a joke like that.”

“Yeah, that’s my tasteless schtick.”

“Hmmm, would you consider telling some jokes at the gala? For maybe 15 minutes.”

“Sure. I’ve considered it and I think I’ll pass.”

“Oh, come on. You can do it.”

“I’m sure that I can, Jan. The problem is a lack of desire to do so.”Image result for uninspired faces

“Surely with your crazy mind you can think of ten minutes worth of clean nurse humor.”

“Madam, I am no Florence Nightingale or Betsy Ross!!”

“You know Betsy Ross sewed the American flag in the Revolution, right?  She wasn’t a nurse.”Image result for sexy betsy ross pictures

“Yeah, I knew that. I was testing your nursology knowledgy. Hmmm, how about I do ten minutes of nursing trivia? That could be fun.”

“Okay, but we won’t have time to collect answers. I expect a few hundred guests.”

“Ah, no problem. We can have a scripted team like on Jeopardy. Let’s see, Your Fred, Jeanine, who really is a nurse, and a local celebrity.”

“We don’t have any local celebrities. This is Franklin County, remember?”

“Touche. How about someone dressed up like Donald Trump?”Image result for jimmy fallon trump impersonation  pictures

“I, I, I’m not sure I want to get into political stuff at a nursing program gala.”

“Jan, what could possibly go wrong? It’s like a well oiled bank robbery. I know my destiny now. Just hold my beer and I’ll explain.”

“Oh, no. What have I done?”

“We’ll need three microphones for the contestants and one for me. Also some jingle music and sound effects. Maybe the Jeopardy theme. I’d like a gold lame dinner jacket with a matching bow tie and a gold cumberbund with rhinestones. “Image result for liberace in gold lame suit

“Okay, here’s your beer back. Let me take notes.”

“Alright. Lighting. Talent. Microphones. Now, we need material. Let’s see…. nursing stuff. I’ll start with a generic nurse joke.”

“Contestants, ready, set, go:  This phrase refers to a younger woman with an older widower in Florida. Fred?”Image result for jeopardy contestant pictures

“What is a nurse with a purse?”

“Well done. You get twenty points. Ding, ding, ding.”

“Jeanine? Are you having a seizure. What is it woman?”

“I happen to be a nurse and here’s my purse. What do I win?”

“Excellent. You get forty points. Dingy dingy doooo.”Woman hitting a man

Fred, “Wait a minute! I got the question first. How come she gets double the points?”

Burrito, “She got the daily double, Fred. Plus she is an actual live nurse not just married into the field like you.”

Fred, “Oh…(mutters to self, “That’s not fair.”)

“Fred?  Louder please.”

“I said ‘It’s not fair. In the rules of Jeopardy, Alex always says…'”

“Whoa, Buddy. This is Nurse Trivia. Bite your tongue. Now repeat what you just said.”

“Thysthaidthitsnophayre.”Image result for man slurring words gif

“Bartender, cut that man off. He is clearly slurring his words.”

“Fred, you can let go of your tongue now.”

“Sheesh! I told you, Jan. This was a bad idea.”

“Next question. This movie, circa 2000, starred Renne Zellweger as a confused nurse in a soap opera/bank robbery.Image result for nurse betty images

“Donald?”

“What is the Art of the Deal?”

“No. Jeanine?”

“What is Nurse Betty?”

“Correct. You get 160 points.”

Donald, “Now wait a second, Alex Baldwin. I said Nurse Betty first.”Image result for jimmy fallon trump impersonation  pictures

“Uh, no you didn’t.”

“Yes, I did. And I have my personal attorney Michael Cohen here to sue you for deprivation of character.”

“Mr. Trump is correct. I will sue you because that’s what I do. Sue people.”Image result for michael cohen pictures

“Pssst, Michael, it’s not really Mr. Trump. It’s Eddie Laugherman from the VFW. We just dressed him up to look like Donald. Okay? Thought the crowd would get a hoot out of it.”

“Oh, alright. Well,  I’d still like to sue someone on Mr. Trump’s behalf. Are there any porn stars in the house?”

“Okay, Michael, we’re gonna continue with Nurse Trivia while you get your double D depositions.”

“What do you call it when the hospital runs out of maternity ward nurses?”

“Fred?”

“A mid-wife crisis.”Related image

“Well done, Fred. Ding ding ding. Add another ten points to your score. Let’s see you’re at thirty, Jeanine is at 200, and Donald is still hovering at zero.”

Fred, through clenched teeth… “This is stupid. I am going to join the Donald in a class action suit against you and this whole thing as soon as his stupid lawyer stops measuring women’s chests.”

“Fred, that would really kill the profit margins on the gala. Think about it:  Happy wife, happy life?”

Fred, “uuuurrrrrrgggghhhhhh. Alright. Motion withdrawn.”Image result for judge judy gif

Donald, “Uh, Alex, I’ve never understood that saying. My wives, and I’ve had three hot ones and Ivanka, plus all the side chicks, and they were always very miserable. Eh, eh, I always said that was the quid pro quo for dating a man like me. I’m very rich and can afford contemptuous women as long as they are super models. I mean, no one loves pouty supermodel nurses like I do.”

“Thank you, Don. Now, back to our game. In One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest…she antagonized the character played by Jack Nicholson.”Jack Nicholson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975)

“Fred?”

“Nurse Ratched.”

“Sorry, Fred. Your answer must be phrased as a question.”

“Ahhhhhhhh!!!!”

“Jeanine?”

“Who was Nurse Ratched?”

“Ding, ding, ding. Jeanine, you’ve won another two hundred points for your team. And we’re at the end of Round One. So let’s all have a few drinks and some sworn testimony, and then we’ll be back for Round Two of Nurse Trivia.”

“Donald?”

“I can’t lose. I’m a winner. I win, that’s what I do. ”

“Of course you are a weiner, Don. You are, you do. And we love you… at zero.”Image result for donald trump in hotdog bun

 

 

 

 

 

291. Work is the Thing

A couple of friends ( are they really?) have asked me how I can come up with so many different topics as I approach 300 posts .  Well, catching ideas and playing with them is something I enjoy doing. Others in the asylum like to pull the wings off of flies and train them to do circus tricks, but not I. I glue the cast off wings onto ants and liberate them from gravity’s curse. Random association is not difficult for me. It might be painful for those around me, but I rather enjoy the thin attachment between ideas that often results from freewheelin’ associative thinking like a Rorschach ink blot interpretation.

It’s a cow, right?No, it’s a young Bob Dylan hiding from attacking crows behind a fake beard and spectacular sunglasses. Hey, Bob. You are not fooling anyone, dude.

I think the same thing is at the heart of some humor, and, of course, the painful pun.  If you abandon worrying about what others think of  you, you are free to riff on. Sort of like dancing or singing without constraints. If you stay in your head over analyzing every step and syllable you put forth, you are fatally screwed, my friend. Letting go… can be tantamount to breaking on through to the other side, as Jim Morrison sang.  Elsa sang “Let it go” ad nauseam in the Frozen movie.. My youngest daughter has done some Elsa impersonations locally for little kids. It’s a hoot, but at the heart of it is a willingness to pretend on both sides. It’s a real buzz kill if you get the brat kid who yells, “Hey, you’re not Elsa!”

“Hey, kid. Everyone knows that, but we were all happily and harmlessly pretending she was Elsa, or maybe a close relative. Schmelsa from Bushwick.”

Literalist concrete thinkers are pretty boring folks, I think. They lack imagination. I suppose they make good farmers who spread manure methodically or cut corn religiously, but they are sadly lacking in the fun part of life. I’ve had a few run ins with manure spreaders in Franklin County, and I have to say it’s a good thing I don’t drive one. I’d be tempted to spray folks in open convertibles just for giggles. But a good farmer wouldn’t want to waste his precious manure on pranks when it could fertilize some soy beans up along the fence line. See, work’s the thing not foolishness.

In fact, I learned long ago that many farmers are taught a little song when they are in the cradle. It goes like this,

“We’ll have fun when the work is done, but the work is never done.

So put your back into it, son, cause we’ll have fun when the work is done,

And if that day never comes, don’t worry, we’ll have fun, son, if the work is ever done, now hurry

Oh, when we stand on that cemetery hill and our work is finally done

We’ll have fun, so much fun, watching that humorless sinking sun.”

It’s a real hit at birthday parties. It starches up the young’uns for a life of … starch… and concrete. And fence posts. Arthritis too.

So when young Billy is 12 and wants to play football or wrestle after school, Pa says, “Well, sure, son. You can do all that once the work is done.” But poor innocent Billy rediscovers that no matter how fast he works, the work is never done. The blisters on his hand heal over into callouses while his heart draws tight like old leather shoes on a miser’s feet.

In high school Billy has a car and a savings account at the Valley Bank because he has learned from Pa “Work’s the thing”. He doesn’t have time for silly sports or concerts, movies or dances. Heck, they don’t put money in your pocket. “Work’s the thing that sets you free.” He remembers reading this in History class somewhere. It don’t matter, really. S’pose it’s true, if you like book learnin’.

Something irritates him like poison ivy, though. ‘It’s those freeloading fun lovers. They don’t do a dang thing but laugh and carry on. Why, if they didn’t play all the time and worked some, I wouldn’t have to work so hard,’ he thinks. ‘Sure, those girls are mighty pretty, but Work IS THE THING!!! Girls like that just want your car and money. They know nothing about hard work.’

Billy graduates and works and works and works, setting his roots deep in the soil. So much so that he rarely leaves the county. And why would anyone need to leave this place? There is so much to do– plant, milk, trim, fence, milk, spread manure, milk, harvest, combine, complain about the weather. There is no end to it. But you know what?  We’re gonna have some fun when the work is done.

Caleb Johnson took a cruise after he sold his farm to his second son last year. His skin cancer just about got him licked though. Why would a body want to go to the Bahamas, anyway?  All they do is drink rum and dance. That ain’t work. No wonder they’re stuck in the poorhouse. Me? I’d like to go to China or North Korea. Them boys know how to work, so they do. Pa always said, before he lost his last marble, “Works the thing, Son. Never forget. You can have your fun when the work  is done.”

There was never a more practical man than my Pa. Why he insisted that I bury him with the front loader to save on the funeral costs. So I did. He’s in that berm up behind the milking parlor now. I guess he’s having his fun now. Ma carried on something fierce at the services. I’m not sure if she missing Pa or the fun they never got to.

Anyway, I’m pretty set to follow Pa’s footsteps. It’s a free country but not a freeloading country. So turn off the music and get a job. Work is the Thing.

 

 

120. Hope

In the mental health business hope is an indicator of health, optimism, and faith. The opposite of hope, hopelessness, is an indicator of bad times and often correlates with suicide attempts. “I’ve lost all hope” is a pre-suicide cliche. So by extension hope correlates with life, and hopelessness with death. I’ve known a few unfortunate souls who suffered from intense chronic pain. Not surprisingly they thought of death as a reasonable pain killer. They did not want to die, just to end their suffering. They had lost hope of their pain ending; lost faith in their painkillers; and decided to kill the pain receptor, i.e., themselves.

It’s a hard sell to try and persuade someone back into their pain wracked body. It’s comparable to encouraging a battered spouse to go back into his/her marriage. I would never try to persuade a battered spouse to return to a battering partner. Yet, I would try to walk and talk a chronic sufferer back into their pain dump. Not because I am a cruel sadist and derive pleasure from another’s pain. No, my position is more rooted in the value of life and,of course, the hope of cure. I believe in better times and have walked through many dark valleys with folks who were ready to cash out their chips. So far, no suicides have occurred on my watch. None of the credit belongs to me; all of it belongs to the concept and practice of hoping for better days, and the strength of the hoper.

Years ago I recall a conversation with my one good buddy who was swatting at the flies of suicide in his mind. “Been this way for fifty years, Man. No chance. Gotta face it.” I argued a bit that the past is not the ruler of the future. He disagreed. “The past rules. No, once the bell is rung, you can’t unring it.”

“True, but you don’t have to march to the same cadence to the end of your life. What if Act Three of your life is all about redemption and joy? You’ll miss it because you bought the message of the first two acts of your life.” Fortunately for him, the love of his life was just around the corner. He is one of the happiest guys I know now, except when he bosses me around and I won’t cooperate.

Today I am back in Arizona with my daughter and brand new granddaughter, Leah Grace. It’s a surreal experience as I feel and hear my granddaughter’s little kitten breaths while she slumbers on my chest. She curls her little hands together and clings like a baby possum to its mother. The circle of life is complete, and something very satisfying is rising up in my core. I suppose it is joy. Eight pounds of gentle quiet joy. She resembles her mother whom I can barely remember cradling in my arms 26 years ago. The old photos show a svelt young me with full black hair and big 80’s glasses. Wow! A full generation has passed. Back then I am sure I hoped and prayed for a healthy and wonderful life for my baby at that time, Grace Marie. My wife and I were so grateful to God that we could have another child after losing one in 1984. We hoped all the more because of the deep pain we had suffered through with the loss of baby #2, Lisa Ellen. It’s funny: you don’t hope for what you have. Hope is the thing that keeps you going when you are at the bottom of an abandoned well, calling for help, hoping a Good Samaritan passes by. You don’t practice hope if you are securely standing beside the well. Still, I hope and pray for this precious child, that she will have a healthy and wonder-filled life. I can realistically hope to hold her child one day, God willinng. I can cast my hope out there another 26 years… I’ll be 82 and teetering on the Grand Canyon of life. What a blessing that would be!

For the moment I will content myself with hope for a good night’s sleep for her devoted mother and father.  Ever wonder what your life would be like if your kids were your parents? In some faint reflective way, they are. The DNA may commingle and dilute, but there are traits of my parents in my children. My wife is adopted, so the trail ends with her. My folks were odd people, let me tell you. They married late for their generation due to the Big War. My mother wrote to many GI’s during WWII because it was the patriotic thing to do. Plus, there weren’t many men available in Boston in the early 1940’s. My dad wrote back. He returned in person and hung out with my uncles. Amazingly none of my uncles was killed or injured in the War, though one was held for two years in a Nazi prison camp. Think he needed some hope?  And his family who faithfully sent him packages that he never received. Hope might have been an empty box, but it still contained a loving spirit if not cookies and bread and chocolate. However, what if he had received every package sent and never made it home? That would have been the empty box, the coffin. Instead he was liberated and made it back to Boston. Bob fathered nine kids, by the way. He lived a full life and was much loved when he died a  timely death a few years back.

The old saying goes, “Be careful what you hope for. You might just get it.” Well, thus far my life has exceeded my hopes and dreams, and there is more ahead. Amen.