526. Low Down Dirty Brass

Related imageBig Joe turned out to be a big, warm teddy bear of a trucker. He listened to Tu Bette’s dreams and decided he’d help her however he could. He swore an oath that she would not return to Rev. Stubbs music school, Brass Knuckles, just outside of Marquette. However, due to a string of recent traffic infractions, Big Joe was limited to driving in state exclusively. He got on his CB radio and called in favors from trucker buddies who drove east. Tu Bette was going to that audition whether Hell or high water came first.

Image result for party girls on a cruise ship picturesMeanwhile, Rev. Stubbs contacted Susan and Emily after he discovered Tu Bette was missing. He assumed she would go west and home, which just goes to show how little he knew of Tu Bette. To further confound things, Susan and Emily were on a cruise in Cozumel with their nouveau riche  gas fracking friends. Stubbs filed a missing person’s report with the Michigan State Police. He suggested it was a kidnapping case since a runaway label could damage the polished reputation of his music conservatory. At every turn and any cost he sought to protect his investments, his endearing name for the students who lived at Brass Knuckles campus.Image result for u p michigan landscape photos

Tu Bette was resourceful beyond anyone’s wildest expectations, however. After hitching another ride with Big Ernie, in Indiana she fell in with a traveling carnival, Toothless Billy the Pirate’s Emporium, who needed someone to make popcorn and run the balloon pop game. Tu Bette easily mastered these duties in an hour, leaving her much free time to rehearse her tuba scales. With all the loud background noise and commotion, a teenager playing a tuba with an eye patch and tricorne hat did not stand out. The carnival kept moving ahead of any child protective service investigators or nosy do gooders. After a few months Tu Bette felt safe and secure in the carnival family of chain smoking oddities and freaks. Plus Burgundy Pirate Wench Costume

Years passed. Tu Bette grew into a lovely young lady, looking more Danish than Asian. Still dreaming big dreams, she imagined herself blowing away auditions in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. Somehow she was determined to live out her adoptive dad Bob’s sousaphilic legacy. But how? She was the assistant manager in Toothless Billy’s road show by now. At 20 years old she was nearly a full adult legally speaking. Men were noticing her for all the wrong, unmusical reasons. She had to get out.Image result

While carnivaling in Rochester, Tu Bette made a desperate attempt to break out of her shadowy life and step into the spotlight of a major orchestra. She bought some studio time at Wally and Connie Deitrich’s Sun recording salon on a Saturday morning and laid down her audition tracks, mostly Bach, but she also covered “Foxy Lady”.  Telling no one of her intentions, she left the studio with a heart full of hope and four cd’s containing her work in a cute little black leather clutch. Image result for sun records pictures

She had to find a way to get these audition cd’s in the right ears, so to speak. Six and a half years on the road had been thrilling, but she knew she had to get off the circuit. Her musical soul had developed shingles, aching blisters grew in luxuriance. Sleep would not come. She was losing weight and lung capacity.

Image may contain: flower and outdoorBefore anyone could say “Eureka!”, the carnival was set up outside Stockbridge, Massachusetts during the Tanglewood Music Festival. She had heard that big wigs and brass music lovers attended this annual event featuring the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Everything was falling in place. She hatched a plan with a bit of manipulation thrown in to be sure. She’d wait outside the gates when the brass night was featured, figuring real brass nerds would be coming to listen with glazed eyes and hungry hearts to get their magical fix of tubescence. Secretly she’d call out plaintively to one of these sousaphiliacs on her Jupiter 378, soothing his tortured, misunderstood mind like the milk cows in her early adolescent days in Wisconsin.

Image result for woman playing tuba outside photosOn a beautiful August night she put her plan into effect. She lugged her Jupiter on her back as if she were a performer with the BSO. She dressed in a black gown with a tiny black clutch holding four audition cds.  Near the southwest entrance she feigned a wardrobe malfunction, a broken heel on her left shoe. Several brassy men stopped to assist her, but she dismissed them. “I’ll know when the right one shows up”, she told herself.

It was nearly 8 p.m. when she began to blow her horn, softly at first, arousing the low moanings of man and beast alike. Fireflies were lighting up. The sun was setting. Up the gravel walkway came a Viennese-looking chap in round tortoise shell glasses and a light tweed jacket. He was older, graying, with a well groomed Van Dyke beard. None other than our Joel, the consummate connoisseur of the low brass.Image result for freud headshots with glasses

Something like levitation took place as Joel drifted on Tu Bette’s nasal intakes, sucked into the musical vortex. A helpless love slave flittering on fairy wings of sousaphilic desire. Tu Bette gave him the cd and instructed him to visit Philadelphia, then Boston, then Chicago, seeking auditions. He could not deny her. She kissed him on his forehead leaving lip prints in a medium red lipstick.  Image result for lipstick print on forehead of manJoel was certain he had been raptured. He skipped the BSO concert that night and began his plan to put Tu Bette in her forever home, Philadelphia, where he could listen to her break winds of change till death did them part.

It took a few weeks, a few bank board calls, and bringing in the full weight of the foundation, but Joel managed to get Tu Bette an audition on the strength of her cd chops. He played on her lack of pedigree, the diamond in the rough story. He wished she hadn’t covered “Foxy Lady”, but maybe that would confirm her outlier mystique. Breathlessly, all waited.Image result for symphony audience pictures

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525. Tu Bette Wiel Suhn, Low Brass Rock Star

Image result for beijing airport photosTu Bette Wiel Suhn’s story is a tangled one that cannot easily be untangled, no matter what hair product is used or international law firm is consulted. It begins on a rural Wisconsin dairy farm where Tu Bette came to live after her adoption from an unnamed Asian country was completed through a web of bribes and subterfuge. In the end she was smuggled into the U.S. in a baby carrier made to look and feel like a curling stone carrying bag. Her adoptive father Bob actually competed in the 1992 pre- Winter Olympic curling trials in Bejing in order to extricate baby Tu Bette from another baby handler, known only as Jimmy Smooth, who switched curling bags at the airport as they returned to their respective countries.Image result for smuggler images

The adoption records were sealed with Super Glue by a prominent Chinese attorney. When her adoptive parents attempted to open them, tragically they pulled at opposite ends of the envelope and Mr. Wiel Suhn fell backwards into an open fireplace and was immediately incinerated, leaving only his traumatized widow, Emily, to raise their newly adopted child Tu Bette on a marginally productive dairy farm, located in the outskirts of Wausau, along the banks of the mighty Wisconsin River.Image result for open hearth pictures in farmhouses

I’d  like to pause here and remember the good intentions and completed actions of Mr. Bob Wiel Suhn, may he rest in peace. “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Let us be comforted that his cremation fees were minimal due to the accidental cremation on the home place, and no pall bearers had to miss work for his coffin transportation. Cuz, if you know a thing about a dairy farmer, you know that nothing is more important than milking on time. Amen.Image result for dairy farmers milking pictures

Now, Bob left something very special behind on the desolate, nearly bankrupt godforsaken dairy farm north of Wausau, something most folks found to be an odd possession for a milk man from Wisconsin. His prized possession was a Jupiter 378 Series 3-Valve 3/4 BBb Tuba. He had played it in the milking parlor while his girls deflated on the robot milker. Soft, melancholic notes floated above his cows while they pushed out gallons of raw milk with nary a moo or kick. Bob wasn’t sure if they enjoyed it more or if the whole enterprise was a self soothing, cheesey affair for him. But he knew that it was the highlight of his depressed milk price life. Sometimes he’d get lost in his tuba reveries, imagining he was Vaughn Williams working out his Bass Tuba Concerto in F minor. Other times he’d settle for blowing a simple B flat to call his girls in for milking.Image result for old man playing a tuba in a barn pictures

He dreamed of teaching his own child to one day love and revere the tuba as he did. Unfortunately, he and his wife were as unfertile as the land they lived upon. No fruit came from Emily’s womb, not even a raisin. Bob was not to be denied his dream, however. He began reading about great deceptions and connivances in history, Baby Moses, the Lindbergh Baby, Jack Nicholson. During the long cold winter nights he worked out a most devious international child smuggling plan, which sadly crashed and burned up in an open hearth.Image result for fireplace ashes pictures

Emily secretly married a neighbor widow and kept the farm going. Yes, two women, one farm in liberal Wisconsin. Funny thing was that these ladies managed to turn a profit when they combined their two hardscrabble plots of ground and leased the land to greedy gas frackers in the early 1990’s. They kept the herd going to hide their new found wealth.Image result for middle aged sisters

As the years went by, Tu Bette Wiel Suhn discovered her father’s tuba and began to teach herself mournful notes that turned into mournful tunes. The cows mooed delightedly as they recognized the soothing low brass sounds reverberating through the milking parlor once more. Some nights or early mornings it was common to find Tu Bette doing a call and response between her father’s tuba and the herd choir of happy cows. Sometimes they would sing “MOOOVIN on up, to the East Side…” from the Jeffersons t.v. show. Image result for girl playing the tuba pictures

This lovely pastoral scene came unglued just like her adoption records had one day when the Reverend Miller Stubbs was visiting her two moms, seeking their matronage for his private music school in Michigan.  The Rev. Stubbs followed his big ears out to the barn during one of Tu Bette’s impromptu recitals to the herd, and he could not believe his very cultured ears. Instantly envy and greed wrestled in his black heart. He hatched a plan.Image result for snidely whiplash nasty minister pictures

Back in Emily and Susan’s warm kitchen The Very Reverend Stubbs offered to take Tu Bette back to his elite music school in Michigan where he would mentor her… for a very modest donation to said school. Secretly he longed to profit off Tu Bette’s impressive talents, perhaps getting her on late night television shows in Chicago. Perhaps a recording contract would follow. He was giddy with the mercenary possibilities.Image result for snidely whiplash nasty minister pictures

For the sake of brevity, Susan convinced Emily to allow Rev. Stubbs to take Tu Bette back to his school on the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, a twelve hour car ride away, where she cried herself to sleep each night, missing her cow choir. One day, however, she heard a New York station and she couldn’t believe what she heard at all. It was Jimi Hendrix’s “Foxy Lady”. Tu Bette was 13 and fed up with the soap opera her life had devolved into. A rebellious tremolo rose up in her as she soaked in “Foxy Lady”. That very night she made a sacred vow to escape all of these impostors in her life and hitchhike her way across the USA, a hustle here and a hustle there, to Philadelphia, where she would audition for the famed Philadelphia Orchestra.Image result for teen girl hitch hiking pictures

It was tough sledding for a teenaged girl with a tuba trying to hitch a ride during late winter in the U.P. of Michigan. It was May 11th when a big trucker named Joe stopped for her in his big rig, The Phantom 309. They pulled over into a rest stop, which is where I am going now to figure out how to end this adventure. Stay tuned.

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524. The Gas Man Rises

Image result for clues in detective work models visualsLinkage, our brains seek to connect data and draw reasonable conclusions. If you find a bag of English muffins has a little hole chewed in it, and a trail of crumbs surrounding this hole, plus a few little mouse turds on the counter top, it’s reasonable to conclude that a mouse visited recently and may still be roaming about the kitchen. You haven’t seen the mouse yet, but it’s a reasonable reach to believe you have at least one in the immediate area. More likely mice, the plural form. (Though if that’s the case, why isn’t hice the plural of house? Blice the plural of blouse? Why? Because language is fickle and eccentric. It evolves or not, and you deal with the residue. Resin dew. Raisin dew. Resident due. Reason do. Say it long enough and it evolves in real time, legitimately or otherwise.Related image

I had a topic idea this morning as I drove to work. However, I failed to write it down. Now it is an evaporated figment, gone like the frost on my windshield. I’m left with crumbs and mental mouse turds, nothing more than tiny morsels of a topic I wanted to explore. Verbal shards explode like starlings murmurating across the sky of memory. Perhaps I can reconstruct based on the skeletal remains in the ashes.

Oh, now it’s coming back to me. The gas man, the utility guy from a hundred years ago when gas was used in the home for lights. Pre-electrification era. Yes, the gas lighting era. Related imageA famous movie was made about psychological abuse using gas lights as the vehicle of manipulation. In fact, this movie came to define the following sociopathic manipulation.

Gaslighting is a form of manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, hoping to make them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the target and delegitimize the target’s belief.Image result for sociopath faces

Let me give an example of how subtly this can be done. We engage in a dialogue, sharing thoughts, feelings and facts. At some point I deny ten percent of what you said. I faithfully recall and affirm the ninety percent, which makes me seem reasonable, reliable, and accurate while at the same time making you question your own memory of the unrecorded, unwitnessed dialogue.Image result for nodding head gif

In the next phase of our little talk, I manufacture ten percent of my side via half truths and direct lies. I assert my extra ten percent with the same calm authority I presented while earlier denying your real ten percent. I don’t dramatize the fabricated difference. I might even reassure you that you must have just zoned out for a moment when I covered my fake news.Image result for unfair scales images

At the end of this brief transaction there has been a 20% shift in the overall narrative in my direction. I’m at 110% of the truth while you have been reduced to 90%. The process is as quiet as a whispered threat of a brain fart. The intrinsic power of logic and truth is undermined on your side and falsely elevated on mine. I have leverage and advantage as surely as a man at 5’10” has the same over a 5’6″ opponent… even if they both started out at 5’8″ and 150 pounds each. After this dishonest jujitsu, it’s 165 vs. 135. Follow?Image result for sumo wrestler with little man pictures

Even if you do catch on and call out the false parts, I can redirect you to the 90% indisputable truth, dismissing any doubt about the tenth. I am overwhelmingly truthful, right? Why get hung up over a tenth? What sort of perfectionist are you anyway? Good gosh! Next thing you’ll tell me which way the toilet paper should unfurl.Image result for toile paper on roll images

Perhaps you are already familiar with these techniques on a personal level. Since all my readers are presumed to be adults, I will leave you, dear grown ups, to resolve your own gaslighting issues. What called me out for intervention was the nagging feeling that we have a gaslighting epidemic going on in our national political scene. Reasonable sounding congressmen and senators, White House shills, journalists, paid pundits on news channels all jabber on for about 85-90% of their allotted times. Then they carve and shave your truth while inflating their truth by an equal but opposite amount. Verbal jabs are exchanged and time runs out. Darn!

Oh, the movie, yes, 1944 called Angel Street… starring Ingrid Bergman. Image result for ingrid bergman stills from gaslight movie

In the story, a husband attempts to convince his wife and others that she is insane by manipulating small elements of their environment and insisting that she is mistaken, remembering things incorrectly, or delusional when she points out these changes. The original title stems from the dimming of the gas lights in the house that happened when the husband was using the gas lights in the flat above while searching for the jewels belonging to a woman whom he had murdered. The wife correctly notices the dimming lights and discusses the phenomenon with her husband, but he insists that she just imagined a change in the level of illumination.Image result for ingrid bergman stills from gaslight movie

Kind of like Fake News, huh? You know how it goes? Denial, more denial, then massive denial.  I am not up to anything illegal here. No sirreee. Not me. Not my boy. Not my general. Not my secretary of this or that. Not my campaign manager. Not my mistresses. Not my victims. Not my taxes. Not my decisions. Not my fault. Not my candidate. Not my words. Not my voice. Not my fingerprints. Not my DNA. The gas man elevates two inches above the crowd, throws other dignitaries to the side in the photo op.Image result for trump pushing prime minister gif

Then the shift against the other party comes right at you. The blatant lies, the alternative facts, the kiss of death. There is a conspiracy against poor innocent me. A deep state is introduced. Nasty pet names are handed out like candy to anyone who speaks truth. Three word slogans are repeated and repeated until they are like lyrics to annoying pop songs or commercial jingles. The victim sinks two inches and loses leverage. We all sink when the gas man rises.

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And the gas man rises like the Hindenburg in New Jersey, 1937.

 

523. Comparative Living

Image result for pictures of envyA lot of folks are miserable not because of what is going on in their lives, which are usually safely mediocre or tediously interesting. Maybe even enviable in their own right. Rather, they make themselves miserable by looking at others’ lives on Facebook or television and doing some pretty poor reactive thinking. First of all, they extend the weight of truth to mirage, confusing screen fantasies with whole truth. The miserables assume that since three people they know are all smiling at a new restaurant in a group selfie on FB, ALL their so called friends are out on the town drinking fru fru drinks and partying with Prince like it was still 1999. [Update:  Prince is dead. It’s 2018. Sorry for the purple flames, the color of burning potassium.]  Further, they assume that this photo-shopped little window into others’ lives is representative of their entire lives. Others are ALWAYS having great parties, sex, vacations, family gatherings, special occasions, and flowers from their spouses. The green worm of envy inches out of its cocoon and revs up his voracious appetite for what he feels entitled to, which is pretty much everything. Wormwood is the bitter ingredient in absinthe, the drink of sodden forgetfulness.

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Image result for wrinkled old woman's face“Why are you so sad and bitter, Wanda Absinthia?”

“I was cut out of the will. See my mother left the farm to my brother and his wife just cause they were living there with her. I couldn’t stand to visit them, so I stayed away. They cut me out of their lives too.”

“So you received no inheritance?”

“Well, I got a cash value equal to what the farm likely would sell for.”

“In round numbers… how much would that be?”

“A couple of hundred thousand.”

“Dollars?”Related image

“Yeah.”

“So, uh, help me understand your upset with the deal.”

“It’s just not the same. Mom always favored Clinton. Always, I never could do nothing right for that woman. If I baked her favorite red velvet cake, she’d tell me it wasn’t her birthday.”

“Wanda, are you saying you’d prefer to have the farm instead of the cash value?”

“No. I want no parts of that place. I lived there too long to begin with. It was Satan’s landing pad, the mouth of Hell, a pasture for demons to roam, a…”Image result for mouth of hell pictures

“So what do you want?”

“I want all of them to admit that Clint was the favorite, Mom’s pick, and I was discarded like a losing lotto ticket. All my shiny silver coating scraped off with a penny…”

“Wanda, that’s not the sort of thing conveyed in wills. It’s not real property. It’s a different sort of value, emotional value. You know?”

“I want to hear my mom say she was sorry and that she did love me.”

“Which cannot happen now. Correct?”

“Yep. And that’s why I’m so bitter. And I think you suck too. Why would you tell me that I’ll never get what I want. I want it, don’t I? Who are you to say I can’t git it?”

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Image result for automobile accidents pictures rubberneckingAnd so on. Some people slow down and rubberneck at horrible wrecks on the highway. The Wandas of the world, stop. They put up the camper, set the satellite dish for Trauma News, and then complain about the view and all the traffic crawling by, while also charging admission to the gore show. “That’ll be three dollars. Don’t you have anything smaller than a twenty? Can you believe how the world is turning out, Bob? It’s not like it used to be, isn’t that right, Bob? Bob? Where did he git to?”

What a wicked web we wear when first we practice to compare. Okay, not the finest rhyme ever, but you get it, right?Image result for spider web pictures

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The real story I wanted to share happened on my watch as a middle school teacher/ bus duty monitor. My extra duty four weeks each year was to walk with a few hundred kids down a big hill, across a foot bridge, and then up another slope to a bus ramp area. The kids would mercifully go home. Sometimes you’d run into a smoker or fighter. Maybe get a free cigarette and then walk back to the principal’s office.  Usually everyone was too tired for shenanigans, though.

Image result for school busses lined up in parking lot picturesOne afternoon, however, I found myself behind a little seventh grade guy I did not know very well. Mason was his name. He was kicking rocks; had his fists thrust into his pockets; and was just a ramrod of anger looking for powder to jam down.

“Buddy, what’s going on?”

“I’m pissed!”

“Yeah, I can see that. What’s the drama about?”

Through very tight lips he spat out the problem.

“Everyone is getting laid but me!”

I tried not to laugh out loud, but I’m sure I did.Image result for trying not to laugh gif

“Whoa, Cowboy!! Who is getting all this action?”

“All my friends.”

“Buddy, let me share some man truth with you: your buddies are lying. ”

“They said they were getting laid and I never would!!” Kick another rock.

“Well, they’re just talking. Guys will do that, and really, there’s no way to prove it.”

“But Doogie Howser got laid last night on t.v.”Image result for doogie howser pictures

“What? You mean the television show with the teenager doctor?”

“Yeah. He’s getting some.”

“Mason, that’s a t.v. show. You know it’s fake, right? Neil Patrick Harris did not get jiggy with a woman despite what the script suggested.”

“How do you know?”

“Cuz he’s gay. I mean, he’s gonna come out in about ten more years, and he’ll be selling Heineken beer. Trust me. So, no. Doogie is not into women.”Image result for neil patrick harris selling heineken beer pictures

“You mean even gay guys are getting laid and I’m not?”

“No, nobody’s getting  laid. You’re killing yourself with bad intel, man.”

“But, somebody must be. It’s everywhere. ‘Gettin’ Jiggy Wit’ It’. How about Will Smith?”

“You have a good point, Mason. I actually know Will, and he  told me that the phrase meant ‘to be cool or in style, fashionable’. Okay? So, just lookin’ at you, I can see you’re gettin’ jiggy wit’ it. Cool?Image result for gettin jiggy with it gif

“Yeah, I guess. I gotta get on my bus now. Thanks for the chat.”

 

 

522. Elephants in the Room

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I’ve been on a low wordesterol blog diet lately, trying to shake off some of my rumpage, which is the combination of my blog rump expanding over my age limit for the sake of sustainability. You’ve no doubt seen signs on highways or bridges that say “Maximum weight limit, 22 tons”, right? Tonnage over time is what the infrastructure debate hinges on. (Einstein proposed mass over the speed of typing in his early Energy equations. What a visionary. Bet you didn’t know that trivia fact.) My rumpage reduction plan is like that but on a verbiage scale spread out over my readers’ neuronal receptivity tolerance. You see, my good wordesterol has been hanging out with my bad wordesterol and blowing up my whyglycerides. When this happens, word sugars spike, causing typer two diet freeties, a deep fried Brazilian dessert.  Sadly, even Round Bale, a faithful reader from Nambia, corrected my use of fatty the other blog day and expressed his upscale preference for adipose. Really, RB? Do you order steaks that way… “I’d like a lean or low adipose T- bone”? I don’t think so.Related imageThat’s cyber posing, I think.

Lately I’m waking up startled in the middle of the night for no apparent reason. No Big Macs, no fries, no cheeseburgers, no more word salads. In this modern fake news world of instantaneous breaking fake news, I wanted to write a post with not a single reference to that elephant in the yellow room. If you want a flame or full fire to go out, you must stop its supplies of fuel and oxygen. Water or foam can do this. So can a fire blanket with asbestos fibers. I’ll just cook today with no grease…and hope for the best.

Related imageAttention junkies live on attention, good or bad, it hardly matters, because it all matters just as surely as your next breath matters. Heroin junkies feel the same way about their junk. Some athletes also. The root word to focus on is junk, folks. So, to stay away from the elephant and its fuel, I wanted to share some fun, no drama, almost politically free facts I found about pachyderms.

25 Cool And Absolutely Extraordinary Elephant Facts

Posted by , Updated on September 16, 2014

Image result for elephant picturesI was surprised to learn that they have extraordinarily sensitive skin. You wouldn’t think so since it is an inch thick and coarse and wrinkly, but my unnamed source in the Executive Office claims an elephant can feel a single fly land on its body. Some politicians are thought to share this ultra-sensitivity with pachyderms due to a common ancestor.

And what animal, pray tell, is common to both politicians and elephants?  You wouldn’t believe me if I told you. What? Okay. The hyrax. I know, there is a credibility gap between us, but go and Google this statement. I’ll wait for your apologies.Image result for hyrax pictures

Elephants have excellent memories, and are thought to have cognitive maps of large scale areas they traverse. The only time they can’t recall stuff is during a deposition under oath or what was videotaped on a Hollywood film lot… or porn star trysts, or if history calls, or … whoops. I almost lost it there.

They don’t get drunk. It would take too much alcohol to subdue these massive creatures. And then, there is no drunk like a drunk elephant. Then there’s the holding tank issues. Tipsy is not a good look when you weigh yourself by tonnage.Image result for tipsy elephant pictures

They produce several sounds, but are best known for trumpeting which is made during excitement, distress or aggression campaigns. Hmmmm. Trumpeting, how perfectly pachydermish. It’s as if they are telling the world, “Look at me! Fear me! Hear me trumpet!”

Touching is an important form of communication among elephants. Enough said. Whether such touching is consensual or not depends on who is telling the story. When you are a bull elephant weighing in at 6 tons on a plane at 30,000 feet, who needs consent?

Elephants are not scared of mice as some myths suggest. However, they are scared of ants and bees. Consequently, farmers in some African “Shithole” countries protect their fields from elephants by lining the borders with beehives. Clever security wall measures. Related image

Elephants are avid eaters, consuming up to 600 pounds of food per day at McDonald’s or other fast food, unpoisoned, germ free venues, where no one expects elephants in the drive through.

They recognize themselves in a mirror, which is not saying they are necessarily narcissists, but not saying that they’re not. I’m saying nothing till I’m out of the Serengeti.Image result for elephants in rear view mirror pictures

They are the only mammal that can’t jump. Thank God!

Elephants suck at hide and go seek. They are not agile or quiet in their sprints to hiding places. Then there is the embarrassing fact that they are, well, bigly. Some might say hugely. Unhideable.Related image

In an 1874 cartoon, artist Thomas Nast drew a donkey (symbol of the Democratic Party) clothed in a lion’s skin – scaring off the other animals at the zoo.. . . All the animals, except for the fearless elephant, which was labeled “the Republican vote.” Ever since that cartoon, elephants have stood as the symbol of the Republican Party.

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Other elephants have exercised religious or political prerogatives. For example,

The first year of the Islamic calendar corresponds to A.D. 622, the year of the Hirja (the prophet Muhammad’s emigration from Mecca to Medina), but the prophet’s birth occurred 52 years earlier, in what is known in the Islamic world as the “Year of the Elephant”—so named because it was the year a Christian Yemeni ruler attempted (with one or more war elephants) to invade Mecca and destroy the Kaaba, the central shrine in Mecca that predated Islam. According to Islamic tradition, the lead elephant, prophetically named Mahmud, halted at the border of Mecca and refused to enter. So even a pre-Islamic elephant with a Christian driver knew enough not to violate immigration laws of the day.

Democrats were first called jackasses, after their candidate Andrew Jackson. Later just donkeys, strong willed beasts.

As long as circuses have existed, elephants have had a central role in them.Image result

Who can forget Hannibal and his Alps-scaling elephants? 38 elephants. None survived the harsh elements but what a mnemonic device.

Then there is Disney’s Dumbo, the flying elephant. Nothing to add to this factoid.Image result for dumbo pictures

Just a cutie.

And before we park this post in a ditch, let us salute King Babar, one of my kids’ favorite pachyderms.

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See, that wasn’t so hard.

 

 

 

 

521. Opium Casino

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Over the weekend we wound up in a HUGE casino 90 minutes north, not to gamble or smoke, but to listen and dance to a band we’d heard once before in a much smaller venue, a local Eagles Club. Oh what a sheltered life we lead, my dear Blog Nannies! I felt like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz as we drove up the long approach and saw the Emerald City glittering on a hill, glowing like a Hollywood set, across a field of opium poppies. I could not fathom the size of the place with a four story parking garage and five story casino complex. I’d never seen anything like it. Surely, we were no longer in Kansas, my dear Toto. Of course not; we were still in Pennsylvania.

We parked our car and began the uphill walk to the valet parking circle. It strikes me now how the elevation of the casino played a psychological role to folks flocking in through the smoked glass doors, penitents and pilgrims. Its aura is magical, mystical, like a shrine set on a rise. But a shrine to which god? Fortune, I suppose. Image result for goddess fortuna pictures

Here she is holding a loaded cornucopia, or horn of plenty, a symbol of a bountiful harvest. And what are her worshipers praying for? A bountiful harvest, of course, shocks of shekels and drachmas, flatbeds of florins and dollars. Related image

My wife and I were clueless neophytes at the temple of Luck. As we walked up the grade around the traffic circle, we could smell tobacco smoke. Huh?  There is no way that we should smell any smoke so far from its source on a drizzly January night, but we came to learn we were wrong. On the other side of the smoked glass doors, a trollish i.d. checker person was posted with an ultraviolet flashlight that could read licenses magically, and detect fraud. Like the TSA uses. Huh? Were we taking flight somewhere? “You must be 21 to enter the premises”, so many signs said. Twenty one to legally practice your addictions in this cavernous “safe room” to shoot up your dopamine levels. Magic crack. Legal suicide. Socially acceptable self annihilation.Related image

While we tried to figure out the deal, where the stage was located, dining options, just a basic sense of direction, etc. we were overwhelmed with the sights, sounds, smells and general buzzing vibe of the place. Its low hum reminded me of the cruise ship engines from years back. Thousands of gambling video games spread out over acres of floor space amid faux Egyptian architectural accents. Robots sat with a drink in one hand, a cigarette in the other. Folks in power wheel chairs and manual walkers, oxygen tanks on some, nothing would stop them from their appointed rounds. Round and round their eyeballs spun in the sockets; roulette balls seeking absolution from the cold dead odds of fate.Related image

Cravings were palpable. Cigarette and cigar smoke hung in the air, irritating my nose, throat, and eyes. The constant pinging and little riffs of carnival music reverberated like ten thousand hungry cicadas. I imagined Pleasure Island from Pinnochio, and each gambler growing a tail, sprouting asses’ ears, and preparing to enter coal mines to Hell, whinnying their futile resistance. “We just came to profit not to perish.”

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What does it profit a man to gain the world and lose his soul?

I needed to use the bathroom. I noticed a sharps container on the wall. I’d never seen one outside of a hospital. I wasn’t sure why such a container would be needed in a casino– insulin shots? epinephrine pens? asthma shots? heroin? And who handles such razor sharp toxins? The cleaning staff were not All Star nurses or medical technologists, let me tell you. I was confused yet again.

Oh well, we were there for the band and dancing not for moral compass calibrations. After eating dinner in a side room off the main restaurant, off a football field of video games and table games, we found the central stage/bar/dance floor combo. Funny thing was we could not hear the loud rock and roll music across the casino floor despite major decibels cranking. The undercurrent of all the games obliterated Deep Purple’s Highway Star. Now consider this factoid,

They (Deep Purple) were listed in the 1975 Guinness Book of World Records as “the globe’s loudest band” for a 1972 concert at London’s Rainbow Theatre.

Are you feeling me yet?  My intestines were rocking along with the song’s not so pure lyrics,

I love it and I need it
I bleed it 
Yeah it’s a wild hurricane
Alright hold tight
I’m a highway starImage result for deep purple live photos

But on the way to the bathroom, running the carnival gauntlet of cigarette smoking zombies with frozen fish eyes, through fog banks of acrid tobacco smoke, inundated by goofy accordion runs and xylophone noises, other forces moved my viscera. The pulsing power of addiction was ambient, like walking through a floating narcotic plasma. The desperation of it all permeated my clothes, my nose, mouth, ears, my bowels, my soul. I needed a shower. But what soap washes off carcinogenic desperation?Image result for smoky bar scenes

Cheryl Crow’s Leaving Las Vegas comes to mind…

I’m standing in the middle of the desert
Waiting for my ship to come in
But now no joker, no jack, no king
Can take this loser hand
And make it win

Not that the casino will ever play that antiseptic song. Too depressing and true. For every winner there are ten thousand losers. Almost as bad as our tax code. Absinthe for the masses, green ghosts are distilled from wormwood. The house always wins over time. That’s how they pay for the opulent house/shrine/temple. Pick your poison, please.

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The band was tight and entertaining, lively, far more than the sinking graveyard of humanity surrounding it.

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If what Marx said, “Religion is the opiate of the masses” was to be considered as some kind of truth, what are we to make of an Opium Casino impersonating an Egyptian tomb? Snake eyes.

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520. A meal of minnows

Related image“Are you going to put that in the blog?” Joel asked after a clever turn of a phrase I can’t even recall an hour later.

“No, it’s not that simple, Joel. You must have bigger fish to fry to make it to a thousand words.”

“Oh, I didn’t know that.”

“You can’t make a meal out of minnows, my good man.”Image result for a bucket full of minnows picture

Chuckle. “Oh that’s good. There’s a lesson for our populace these days: they are so busy trying to dine on minnows.  Petty if you ask me. Maybe you could at least make a pizza with minnows as a topping choice for the die hards.”

“Perhaps, but I don’t want others trying to influence the outcome of my sacred blog. It is an institution of high integrity in my mindscape. Are you working for some Russian troll farm, Joelputinsky?”

“No. My people came from Switzerland. Net neutrals. We were arms merchants. I must say, though, your post on the Donald was priceless.”

“Joel, you have to be more specific. I have written about Trump nearly as often as I have about you. Are you referring to the fake Mueller interview?”

“Yes, that one.”

“Uh huh. I channeled my inner DJT, also known as unbridled narcissistic navel gazing id.”

“Well, as I read it, I felt I was in his very great overbearing presence…”

“Thanks.”

” Eh hem! I was not finished. He reminds me of my drill sergeant in basic training back in the 1960’s, totally invasive, spraying microorganisms in my face with each barked out order or comment. When I wasn’t paying attention, why he’d come after me for not taking a knee in rest position.”

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“Wouldn’t you like to go back in time and tell him you were being patriotic and not following the lead of overpaid, unpatriotic professional athletes from the future NFL? You could have turned his complaint into a historical/political anachronism. Kaboom!  Blown his tight little mind into a thousand million shards.”

“You see, my mind does not work like that. I can’t travel across time and space the way you do. I am merely a foil that illustrates your genius, like Dr. Watson was to Sherlock Holmes.”Related image

“Yes, I see it now, my good man. The tweed. The deer hunter caps. The wide world travel. You are compensating for not being me.”

“Is it that obvious, sir?”

“Painfully, man. Pull your self together. Such obsequiousness is unbecoming of a man of your accomplishments.”Image result for caterpillar pictures

“I like that. I should not be intimidated by the brilliance of others. I am a good person, even alone on a desert island, with out any audience. I am enough. God I hope that is true.”

“Joel, you would die in ten minutes on a desert island. You are no Tom Hanks in that movie Castaway.”

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“What makes you say that?”

“Well, in the movie, when he opens up the ice skates…”

“Yes, he uses them as dental implements later, right?”

“Yes, but you would have put them on and turned an ankle while looking for ice to skate upon.”Image result for nancy kerrigan on ice injured photos

“Ouch. You mean I am too literal?  I am stuck in the box and can’t think outside of it?”

“I’m saying if you open a box with ice skates, you should immediately put them back in. Think inside the box. That’s what lawyers are trained to do, and the box in this case is the law.”

“Oooohh, okay. I think I’m following you, but that’s like following an otter in a water park.”

“Joel, you will cease and desist all analogies and jokes. That’s my department. Is that clear? Otherwise I will have you send yourself a stern letter.”

“Yesssss, but can’t I have at least one bread crumb line here and there which illustrates my subtle ways and irresistible plain yogurt charm?”Image result for sour baby faces

“Okay. You get one. Don’t abuse the privilege. And it better be Greek yogurt, sour and stiff.”

“Did I ever tell you about my tuba mentor, Harry Feathers?”

“I thought your career in sousaphilia was a consequence of misbehavior at school, a condition of your probation.”

“I’m ignoring you. He was a veteran of World War II. And before I shipped off to basic training, he gave me a white cloth.”Image result for waving a white cloth pictures

“To polish your tuba?”

“No. He told me that in the military there would be commanding officers who could not tell useful work from lollygagging.  He gave me the cloth and told me to polish whatever was nearby whenever a commanding officer approached me. He told me to just pretend to clean something, anything really, and I’d never be given k.p. or some other odious task.”

“And?”

“Worked like a charm. I never had k.p. or any other odious task for the ten weeks of basic.”

“Even if you polished an invisible turd, you got out of forced labor?”

“Something like that. I kept that cloth all the way through my military obligations. Later I used it and a little Brasso to polish my tuba in honor of Harry.”Image result for polishing brass tuba bell with a white cloth photos

“That is very sweet, Joel. Touching.”

“I can be more than you paint me out to be, you know?”

“And how do I paint you to be, monsieur?”

“Uhhhhmmm, like a tortured Picasso.

“Like the cubist period  Picasso? Like this..?”

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“Yes, what is that one called?”

“The tuba player polishing his invisible turd.”

“This is why I hate you. You toy with me, draw me closer with your verbal chicanery, and then torture me like a housefly on a needle for your own perverted entertainment.”

“I cannot argue with your astute observation, Watson. It is elementary, good man. But let us remember, that when fishing, one must be either the fisherman or the worm. In our relationship we are at opposite ends of the same hook.”Image result for worm on a fishing hook photos

“Tenterhooks, more like it. I am so often hung out to dry, you know.”

“Yes, I am aware of this, Joel. But I am trying to stretch you, keep you from shrinking up in the harsh sunlight of life.”Related image

“So this is therapeutic pain that I am suffering in your presence?”

“Exactly, Watson. This is therapy. In lieu of bigger fish, enjoy your minnows.”

 

 

 

 

519. Influence or Control?

Image result for dot in a big circle picturesYears ago our very wise pastor John began a sermon lesson with a huge circle roughly hand drawn on the projection screens above him. “This is your area of influence. Okay? Everyone got that? It represents all your work areas and relationships with family and friends.”  Then he placed a pinprick dot in the circle. “That is your area of control. Try not to confuse the two.”

He went on to talk about how Christians speak Christianese, which might as well be Portuguese, to non believers and then get annoyed that their untranslated salvation message is not received with joy and celebration by the confused listeners. “They are not trying to be difficult”, said the wise man. “They don’t know the code. So don’t treat non believers as if they were really believers who are just stubbornly resisting you.”Image result for confused faces

DR. John had a habit of only hitting home run sermons or grand slams. Never walked, struck out, bunted, or hit into a fielder’s choice. A great man and a very skilled orator. Shout out to Houston. Our loss was their gain. No church holds a monopoly on great men of God, though. God holds that patent.

The word influence wonders me, as the Amish say, today as I am under the influence, not of drugs or alcohol, but the flu, better known as influenzanoun

 1. a highly contagious viral infection of the respiratory passages causing fever, severe aching, and catarrh, and often occurring in epidemics.[It is compelling me to take ibuprofen, drink hot tea, nap, etc. However, I can push back against this viral pestilence. It will not win the day. I’m still going dancing tonight, defiantly.]
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Similar to the definition of influence.   noun
1. the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or 

produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others:

It sure feels like control, but I suppose there are differences. Fluere, the Latin root word, means to flow. Fluent, fluid, confluence, flux, reflux, fluctuate… notice how that darn flu keeps appearing? It’s epidemic! Most certainly there are effects produced by influential viruses and people. Image result for fluidity gifs
So how is influence separate or different from control? The word origin of control is interesting in that control originally meant something about keeping a copy of a document or record, what I’d imagine we mean by duplicating an original. What I gather is that control keeps things the same, whereas influence allows the other party or object of influence to manifest changes. I don’t think it’s a big leap to say that controllers want to keep things exactly the same as they have been; influencers want to inspire new change in their listeners. Conformity comes out of control. Creativity comes from influence not control.Image result for copies of copies pictures
Here’s a wild thought: imagine all of the Old Testament as an experiment in control that fails due to man’s inability to replicate the basic laws of God. Then, think of the New Testament as an experiment in influence and persuasion of spirit. The former insists on religiously rigid conformity to the law, and measures out justice; the latter allows for an evolving completion of the law, with mercy and grace as its hallmarks. Both systems seek holiness. The first elevates rules; the second covenant elevates relationship…. it truly wonders me.Image result for old wise man wondering pictures
Where does it all begin? you ask.  In the belief system of the beholder. See if you can relate.  When a baby is born, it’s simply a bag of endless needs. Parents control nearly every aspect of the newborn’s existence– eating, bathing, movement, sleep schedule, stimulation, etc.
Image result for infant picturesOver time the little one begins to develop independence of a sort with toddling and speech and exploring its environment. This is when controllers get scared. From deep in their personalities or DNA pools, controlling parents want accurate replication not a novel interpretation of lifestyle. Often they will reproduce their own childhood rules and requirements while demanding that their child basically relive a life that was legitimate 25 years ago. Obviously this approach is doomed to fail in a fast paced, dynamic society where constant invention and adaptation persist. Misery is not far behind the control, since misery is also about holding on to something past its usefulness… like misers do. Cue up Scrooge.
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Okay, so far, so good?  Now I’ve worked with a lot of adults who know their past was deficient, but they are too stubborn or unenlightened to change. They said stupid things like “My dad would have whipped my ass if I left a light on when I left a room.” When I probe, “How did you like that treatment”, I get answers like “I didn’t. It felt like the g.d. light bill was more important than I was. Way more important.”Image result for angry man under a light bulb pictures
“So how are you handling the lights in your home with your teen aged son, Ed?”
“I don’t hit him. If that’s what you mean. I yell at him. I lecture him. I tell him Granpa would have whipped his ass if he’d done that in the ’70’s when I was coming up.”
“And how does he handle your guidance.”
“He still forgets to turn out the light in the breezeway after he comes in. Drives my nuts.”
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“Ed, what’s a kilowatt of electricity going for these days?”
“I couldn’t tell you. Why are you asking?”
“Because you are sending the same disturbing message to your son that your dad sent you:  the light bill is way more important than you are, son.”
“Oh, I guess I am. Never looked at it like that.”
“Does he do anything else that is non compliant or defiant?”Image result for proud smiling father pictures
“Nah, he’s a good boy. I’m really proud of him.”
“Do you tell him you are proud and that he is good?”
“No. I don’t want to give him a big head.”
“But you don’t mind telling him he’s less important than the light bill?”
“When you say it like that, I guess. Well, I, I mean, my dad was rough on me, but I turned out all right.”
“Yep. Ever wonder how it could have been if he had treated you as you needed to be treated instead of how he needed to treat you?”
“Not sure I follow you.”Related image
“What I’m saying is that we ought to raise our kids the way they need to be raised, in their era, taking in to consideration all the differences in their modern world. Instead, we replicate what our parents did and wonder why it does not always fit so nicely.”
“Yeah, that would have been nice. Still, my dad is a good man. He’s a great grandpa.”
“Sure…. but grandparents are a lot more influential when they are less controlling.”
“Hmmmm. I think my light bulb is coming on.”
“So what are you going to do now?”
“Turn out the breezeway light; tell my boy I love him and I’m proud of him.”
“Nice, Ed. You are getting there.”
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518. Dystopian Developments

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Zach mentioned that a chimpanzee had been cloned over dinner. No, let me rewrite that.  Over dinner, Zach mentioned that a chimpanzee had been cloned. Not during dinner or because of dinner or even in a chandelier above dinner. It was a Facebook news feed from England, I believe. Context matters, though. The conversation had begun a few beats earlier with a yes/no question from me. “Hey, would you like to have my old printer?”Image result for pictures of hp 2050 printers

“Does it work?”

“I’m sure it will for you.”

“Does that mean it doesn’t for you…currently?”

Then the wife chimed in, “Did you plug it in?”

“Yessssss!!”

Zach, ” I taught him that trick.”

I will admit that I had a printer emergency not long ago, and the trouble shooter Zach figured out that I had not plugged in the printer to the keyboard USDA port. I swore him to a blood pledge (type AB positive) of loyal secrecy that lasted about 28 minutes, when he texted cryptically to my wife who figured it out in about five seconds.

“Guilty as charged.” Okay, I’m not a joiner.

Related imageThe topic of copies was thus introduced into the seven person conversation over Pho and fried rice meals, our new Wednesday night tradition at the new Vietnamese restaurant.

Somewhere after the HP model 2050 offer was neither accepted nor rejected, came the chimp cloning comment. Zach suggested we could eventually clone our human selves and send the clone to work on our behalves. (Now there’s a word you don’t see every day, unless you have a window fan near an active bee hive.) Maybe IT could drive and do laundry as well.  Then there would be the new laws, morals and ethics involved when you needed a hand, literally, and surgically removed the clone’s hand, bringing a whole new meaning to “He’s my right hand man.” Or if you pull off your clone’s entire arm, “He’s my wing man.”Picture of The Living Severed Hand!

“What if your clone ran into my clone while mine was going to the drive through window for a happy meal and your clone was late for your job at the french fryer? Do you think your insurance would cover that?”

“Wow. That’s stupid. They’ll be in self-driving cars by then. Duh! Plus, I would advise my clone not to admit any guilt until a full investigation had been performed.”

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“So you don’t trust your clone, is that it?”

“No, just, forget it! You can make a sane person nutz in a minute.”

“Want me to print you a new brain, Zach? You know you can just print one now on a 3 D printer if you have enough ink.”Image result for 3d printer images

“I’m pretty sure it’s not ink that gets used in 3 D imaging.”

“Okay, maybe it’s a crayon sort of wax in primary colors. My point is that a good printer is what you need, with two bonus cartridges for free.”

“Maybe Jess can use it. I use the one at work.”

“Okay… but wait, there’s more. If you take possession tonight, I’ll throw in a new power cord and all connective wires.”Related image

“Sounds like a deal clincher…”

“But wait, wait once more. I’ll sweeten the deal with a weekend in Miami Beach, two nights, three days and all the air you can breathe.

(Ultra fine print voice: offer does not include or imply transportation, fees, taxes, food, parking or lodging. Nor any legal fees involved in trespassing charges that may be filed.)”

A bidding war nearly broke out between Alex and Zach over these fake spicy add ons. Neither wanted the printer. They were all about the free air.

“I’ll give you two hundred dollars for that package”, said Zach.

“Two fifty”, Alex the wise bargain hunter countered.Related image

“I’ve got two fifty, can I get three, three, three to the man in the pin stripe suit and pink tie. Sir?”

“Two fifty once, two fifty twice, two fifty…

“Three!!” Alex raised his own bid in all the fermenting excitement.

Fortunately our Pho arrived in steaming bowls and the auction was suspended due to steam.Image result for pictures of steam

I literally could not give away my used printer. Sadly, I had a similar experience giving away 8 track and cassette tapes. Finally a receptive land fill with low standards and no EPA inspectors took them. Some mighty good music got buried that night in Upton after the guard went home.  I could rewrite Don Mclean’s Bye Bye Miss American Pie with that story line, sort of blend in Alice’s Restaurant to boot..

“A long, long time ago I can still remember how that music used to make me smile…”

“Until we came to a side road, and off the side of the
Side road there was another fifteen foot cliff and at the bottom of the
Cliff there was another pile of garbage. And we decided that one big pile
Is better than two little piles, and rather than bring that one up we
Decided to throw ours down That’s what we did.”

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I had to wait, think, manipulate. “Zach, I was reviewing the marriage contract the other night. Especially section 3. B, the dowry.”

“Oh really?”

“Yes, so I consulted carefully with Joel. I did not want to be too hasty or jump to any conclusions.”

“I see.”Related image

“In addition to the actual animals listed there: two camels, four male goats, three female sheep, a sheep dog, two turtle doves and one male hamster, all of which would convey to the parents of the bride, I noticed another clause…”

“Something about a printer?”

“No. Don’t be so crass and petty. Line 23 and 24 read, ‘all progeny thereto shall be retained and cared for by the party of the second part…’ which is you… ‘and failure to do so will terminate this agreement and all animals, clones, and office equipment, et al, e pluribus unum shall be reconstituted with their original fruit tree.'”

“The misused Latin at the end was a nice touch.”

“You mock me, Brutus?”Image result for caesar and brutus pictures

“Not at all, Caesar.”

“Don’t call me Caesar! ”

“Arrrrggghhh!!! Will you take the damn printer so that I can end all this subterfuge?”

“How about those spicy add ons?”

“Well, Alex offered $300 for the free air. How about I give you two hundred and you take the printer?”

“Two fifty, firm.”

“But, but, I’ll only profit fifty bucks for all my wicked bamboozlements.”Image result for fifty dollar bill pictures

“And I hope you have learned your lesson.”

Okay! I’ll bring it over after work.”

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517. We desire nothing so much as what we ought not to have

That’s a quote from some long dead Roman Publilius Syrus. Oddly enough you already know some connective tissue that holds today to his B.C. words…Image result for early rolling stones pictures

The Muddy Waters song Rollin’ Stone was named after Publilius’s proverb and the Rolling Stones band was named after that Muddy Waters song… “A rolling stone gathers no moss”. Yeah, that guy. He is just a thousand handshakes away from us… as the Dead’s song U.S. Blues reminds us,

“Shake the hand that shook the hand of P.T. Barnum and Charlie Chan”.

We are all so many handshakes away from Babe Ruth or Abe Lincoln or Louis XIV. In our current consideration, Publilius lived in the last century before Christ. So, to figure this out, let’s assume an average age of 60 for each hand shaking an infant’s hand, and that grown infant shakes another infant’s hand 60 years later. If we divide 2018 by 60, we get just under 34. Throw in two more for good measure and to cover the Bubonic Plague years, and Shazamm!! You are a mere 36 handshakes away from the great Publilius himself.Image result for handshake photos

I’d like to have said that to my fellow Roman senators… “My immovable paving stone Republican friends, I cannot join in lock step with your plans and pathways any longer. Yours is a sedentary life that draws moisture and produces moss. Stacked one on another, your stones become a wall; your wall a prison; your prison’s name– Xenophobia.  Furthermore, your Emperor Trumpus is a hoax, a slimy pebble purporting to be a boulder god of a man. He is not what you desire, but your desires blind you to reason. Because Dr. Vesuvius tells me I have a moss and mold allergy, I choose to be a rolling stone…for a rolling stone gathers no moss, thus avoiding pesky copays and antihistamines, which are not covered under Emperor Trumpus Nocare.”Image result for emperor trump pictures

I picture him before the Senate, toga robe clinched with one hand, proverbs scroll in the other. Oratory at its finest. Okay, the only photo I could find has Mitch McConnell playing the part, so squint and imagine a real senator yammering… “lemme be purrfectly honest with ya’ll. I don’t know what in the Hell is goin’ on round here. Hating Emperor Obama was a lot easier than lovin’ Emperor Trumpus. Ah mean, least we knew what Obama was for. Trumpus is like a horny red squirrel in a forest fire, jumping from limb to limb. Why, we cain’t tell. It’s truly amazing that he hasn’t hit the ground yet and broke his damn fool back.”Related image

Tangents are the runways to nowhere that you find at major airports. They lead planes away from the main runways that are stacked up with departures or sizzle with a new arrival every 90 seconds. Tangents loop out of traffic, leading to terminals or out to plane pastures. You may have noticed that I began with tangents leading nowhere in particular, but now back to the topic.

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In 1 Samuel the people of Israel demand a king from God. Judges and God’s Law weren’t good enough for the people. God warned them that a king would take and take and take from them, so that one day they would call on God again for relief from the king. No matter, just like our recent election, “The people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations…” If you know the rest of the story, you know Saul was not a good king. He was a coward and very vain, depressed, jealous, and he twittered a lot about David. He consorted with a forbidden medium, jumped impatiently into the priest role, and then committed suicide. The Israelites wanted a hero king; they got a zero disaster.

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We most want what we most should not have. Yep, I’ve seen that malady play out many times.  The man who chases his well endowed high school sweetheart and marries her. Urges her to upgrade Mother Nature’s gifts with augmentations. Then shows her off as the new improved trophy wife version of Barbie to his same old plastic Ken. And then breast cancer comes knocking and the boobs go to mastectomy like a pair of hay barns in a fire. Poof!! The now older couple stare warily at one another, pretending that the big boobs didn’t define their marriage. They avoid talking about the twin elephants that are not in the room any longer.Image result for elephant in the room pictures

“The thing I most should not have is what I most want”, is a drug addict’s mantra. Certainly being sober is good, but short of death, it is a temporary state. At funerals of AA guys they say, “Today Wally completed his program”. Kind of sad and pathetic, yet still true. Some addicts go a week and think they have conquered that thing they most crave. They are kidding themselves, and on day 8 they crash and burn all over again. Some addicts go two years and think they have passed over the green line and have conquered their personal Taliban. Wrong. A sniper kills them with a syringe in the neck. Some addicts go twenty two years and grow both arrogant and complacent. “I’m in control, man. I’ll have a beer if I want one.” A week later detox starts again for the stubble faced, arrogant, complacent addict.

Image result for buddha imagesBuddha said that it is our desires that make us miserable. I’d chirp up and add that our miseries lead us to substances that lead us to addiction as fast as our little legs can go. Killing our desires is preferable to killing ourselves, I think. We are instructed to rid ourselves of the center, the selfish center, so these desires have nothing to cling to. Lose the ego.

So, my good blog readers, what is it that you crave so much and cannot let go? An old love? Revenge? Secret porn stash? Your neighbor’s wife? His car? His bank account? His suave personality? Crack cocaine? Opiates? Stick a knife in the heart of that darkness and save your own heartbeat.Image result for knife in the heart pictures