Saturday, December 27, 2008

After Christmas Sale

Christmas definitely loses value fast. I went to a couple of stores the day after Christmas and everything was 50% off. Bargain hunters were picking over the carcass, which surprisingly had an enormous amount of meat left to take. I went to Walmart and they had so much Christmas stuff you'd think they hadn't sold anything up till that time. The Christmas card stock looked like a fresh shipment.

I was at Walgreen's last night and everything was 50% off there too. Then driving by today I noticed it was up to 60% off. The Valentine merchandise was out, which I believe is normal for the day after Christmas. They need to get an early start because it, of course, dies quickly when the time comes. I remember one year getting so much candy the day after Valentine's Day, and still had money left over.

Christmas loses value fast in your mind too. Mine anyway. The day after it's blah. We were listening to Christmas much there hot and heavy, fairly so. But nothing since Christmas day. I got the CD of Brenda Lee's Christmas album this year, maybe two or three weeks ahead of Christmas. It's surprising that you can't get a download of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" at Amazon, and I don't believe they had one at I-Tunes either. I had an MP3 that I got somewhere once but I wanted an official one, a better one. The rest of the album is nothing nearly as good. Brenda's version of Silent Night is as bad a version as any I've ever heard. The phrasing is very much delayed in relation to the music.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I'm Not Really Back

It looks like I abandoned 'All My Children,' my dear blogs. It's a matter of something like biorhythms. Interests. The ebb and flow of the election, then the intensity of it, then the denouement, a mixture of funk and elation that led to deeper spiritual pursuits, including things off the beaten path.

I wanted to make note of something, which I imagined once as a lengthy post, that is, when I was in the terrible thick of it. I was in a real quandary with bacteria, at least in my imagination. It's hard now to believe I went through it, but there was so much smelly bacteria surrounding me, in my chairs, my walls, my desk, my floors, my clothing, that I was doing daily battle with it. My weapons to fight back included Oust and hydrogen peroxide. I abandoned two chairs. I Oust-bombed my rooms a few times. It was a difficult time.

The bacteria smelled funky-good at first. But the funk of it fed on itself and grew in its potency. Until it was sickening in every way. I was changing clothes a few times a day. Me, a guy who might wear the same pair of pants for well over a week! But this stuff was coming through my pants. Seriously. I was doing other things with peroxide, which I won't get into entirely. Suffice it to say this was a battle on all fronts.

I thought I'd beat it. Then it'd build in intensity again. I was looking up bacteria on websites, but couldn't find anything about this. My memory of it now is fading. But it was all consuming for more than a week, maybe two. I had several theories as to what was going on.

The weirdest thing is I inquired of another person who was present a few times. And this other person didn't smell anything out of the ordinary. I thought maybe it was something to do with my own nose and mind. Which is a weird feeling, because you start thinking if you can't trust your senses what will you do next?

Anytime I smell anything now slightly out of the ordinary, I start thinking, could it be the beginning of another onslaught? But it hasn't happened again. This stuff was in September, at the end of the September sometime and maybe (maybe) into October. I didn't write anything down, except this post, now in December.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

"Granny" Should Be A Gender Neutral Word

I've got a beef with the word "Granny" referring only to the female grandparent, i.e., the grandmother.

Here's the heart of my contention: The partial syllable "gran" is common to both grandma and grandpa, grandmother and grandfather, so there is no reason that an "ny" attached to it should make it a feminine word. That is, of course, no reason beyond common usage, universally accepted within the English speaking world. The biggest negative against my objection is that many other words aren't governed strictly by logical considerations.

For the male grandparent we have a companion word for "Granny," which is "Gramps." There is a "p" that possibly relates to "grandPa," but where the "m" comes from, I don't know. It sounds like it was probably originally the "n" but because it's tough to say with a definite "n" sound because of the ellision into the "p" it turns out sounding m-like.

I'm not really going to make a big deal out of this, the biggest reason being that I don't think it would do much good. I am something of a contrarian, that is well established. But I'm also old enough to know that my many objections to things over the years have not typically accomplished much, making them more an exercise in futility -- if not vanity -- than something that would or could yield a lot of positive and practical good or fulfill actual personal aims of mine.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Star Wars: Killing A Fly

Last night as I was getting ready for bed there was a loudly buzzing fly in my room.

I was almost too tired to worry about it, but I knew if I didn't get rid of it it'd be landing on my nose or buzzing around the room all night. And I'd be thinking about it.

So I had to go to the trouble of trying to zero in on it. I had a flyswatter, but the pesky little thing wouldn't land. My only alternative was to stand in an area that had a white background, the wall, and anytime he came into that vicinity to swat through the air. But I wasn't getting him.

Then I thought of Star Wars, and thought, "Let the force be your guide." You know, in the sense that you have some hidden reserve of power somewhere that can help you kill this fly, and that just swatting vainly could be supplemented by the force, giving me an intelligent aim from beyond myself.

It didn't work 100%, probably because I was still too conscious and consciously reflective on the process rather than just letting the force actually be my guide. So I made a few more mad swats and felt discouraged.

But then, unexpectedly, the fly suddenly landed right in front of me, a black spot on a white wall. And I swung the flyswatter through the air with barely a thought and nailed him at a hundred miles an hour. He was stuck to the wall!

Let the force be your guide, Luke. It usually works!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Little Panicked



It's interesting what Obama said about McCain, that he's "a little panicked." At this point, things are on the downside for McCain. The economy's in the toilet and he's seen as someone who championed deregulation, eventuating in these terrible conditions. His chief economic adviser, Phil Gramm, is someone immediately complicit in the whole mess. McCain's corrupt lobbyist buddies have steered his straight talk express over a cliff, and as McCain (a la Wiley Coyote) looks down and sees nothing but solid ground quickly approaching, I guess I'd be "panicked" too.

Reality has its way. We're all going from Point A to Point B, and we do arrive. If we deny reality for the sake of ideology, even an absolutist ideology, we eventually arrive at this conclusion, that ideology is still relative and reality real. Aim your bus for the cliff, deny it will go over, put the pedal to the metal, and just see how it works out. McCain's troubles come from being infected with the disease that is the modern day Republican party. They think up is down, wrong is right, and corruption is good government. Propaganda is effective in accomplishing a lot, but it might help not to fall for it yourself. And certainly you ought not depend on it as your whole program. Because, again, reality's right there in your face, stupid.

But we still have several weeks until the election. And this is where propaganda can be effective, in stinking up the place with lies for short-term gain. We have plenty to watch out for, but fortunately we have a candidate (Obama) who is smart and appears to know what he's doing. The debates ought to draw some good contrasts to his benefit. The better Obama does, the more "panicked" McCain will be. Get the old bird sweating, flustered, frustrated, temper on edge, spouting cliches, changing positions, pandering, lying, looking old, tired, and generally as worthless as he is, and we ought to do OK.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sentimentality At The Grave

You gotta love the dead, don't you? I mean, maybe they'll come back and haunt you if you don't.

I remember the first dead guy I saw in real life, not just cowboys killed on TV. I'd actually seen him several times when he was alive. He was old, scary looking, and had an actual hunchback, and I was eight or nine. A guy like that gives a kid the creeps. My family bought some things from him, all the things of his business. Then he died, and I and about five other people were at his funeral. Later, I would be working with his things in the basement, start thinking about him being dead and maybe lurking somewhere, then I'd have to quit for the night.

After that I saw a few more, including my first grandpa to die. He was a nice guy, as I remember, suffering some severe emphysema from smoking, a car falling on his chest, and one lung removed. I think a guy should be tougher than this, but he died.

Some neighbors of mine had a funeral home in their home (they took the overflow from a funeral home, so bodies would only be there occasionally). This is true. We'd be over there playing in the living room with the kids and they'd have a casket with a corpse in it open, right there. I remember a rubber ball bounced too hard on the floor once, bouncing up into one of the caskets. It seems like one of us retrieved it.

Then over the years numerous others close to me went on to their reward, including Grandpa Slump when he was around 81 or so. That leaves me the sole survivor of a once proud family, not counting Grandma Slump, and all the others who are actually alive but just not around that often.

Today I was at a store that sells various sentimental things, placards saying "Pray," "God Bless This Home," "My Guardian Angel Can Beat Up Yours," all those kinds of things. And I saw one that I've seen before in little shrines that people sometimes set up, like in their yard, in a public park that I know of, at gravesides, of course, or by the roadside where a terrible accident has occurred. It had a saying something like this:

"If tears could build a stairway, and memories a lane,
I'd walk right up to heaven, and bring you home again."

I don't know if I like that entirely. At some point I think it's healthy just to accept it, and not think it'd be a good option to walk up to heaven and bring the dead back. Imagine all the legal trouble it'd cause. The will's already settled, your Social Security account is now cut off, you have no identity, no one's expecting you. But some crying relative with overactive memories took it upon themselves to walk up to heaven and bring you back. I mean, we might welcome a few people back. But there has to be some limit to it. We don't want to be overrun with dead people everywhere. Sure, I miss some folks when they're gone. But once I've worked through the grief, I'm not hoping to look up and see them standing there just because someone thought it'd be a good idea. The emotional trauma across the board would be devastating. If you're going for a walk, stay on earth!

I should have looked around the store a bit more, to see if they had one of my other favorite sentimental dead people verses:

"A golden heart stopped beating, hard-working hands to rest.
God broke our hearts to prove to us, He only takes the best!"

I think there's an obvious difficulty with this one. It seems like a major theological problem is present. If people who die are being taken by God, yet "He only takes the best," how do we account for the fact that heretofore, in past generations, so far anyway, absolutely everyone has died? Were they all that good? And if all God needs to not take you is for you to not be the best, doesn't this just encourage people to be not so good? Why try to be the best you can be if it means God's going to kill you and break all the hearts of your relatives just to prove to them how good you were? If this is the case I'd say we all have a vested interest in being scoundrels. The only conclusion is God encourages evil by punishing the good, and who can believe that?

The dead are dead for a good reason, for the most part. Let 'em go, let 'em be. And don't be dragging them back again!

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Local Man Votes Democratic

The local man is the average guy, the salt of the earth. He cares about his country, his wife, his family, his dog. He wants the best for them and everyone. He embodies all the fine qualities that I have previously described as pertaining to the local man -- his local shopping habits, his sincere hometown pride, the way he roots proudly for the local team, and all the rest.

The local man has a mind and can think for himself, and doesn't need guidance (propaganda) from the city. He has plenty of time in the course of his day at the local level to read newspapers, to hear the news in the coffee shop, and to hobnob and otherwise confer with his fellow local men. They discuss the issues in a clear, levelheaded way, putting the pros and cons of each opinion in columns and drawing rational conclusions. Because he is essentially rational -- while being softhearted -- he strictly votes Democratic.

Loving his country as he does, he's careful never to vote for a Republican. (Possibly for dogcatcher, if there haven't been that many dogs running loose lately and the competency and mental disabilities of the Republican candidate isn't that pressing an issue.) To him, Republicans running for office is just another name on the ballot to give us a two party system to set us apart from dictatorships. But the Republican name is never a realistic choice. My friends, the local man is not suicidal, nor is he shortsighted.

When you get right down to it, the local man has good reasons to vote Democratic. For example, he feels disgust at the July 4th parade when the local Republican float comes by, yet pride a little later for the Democratic float. The Republican float usually has some scraggly people on it, mostly guys who've been bailed out of jail the night before and paid by the party so it will look like they have supporters. It's easy to recognize the guys on the float, sex offenders, drug dealers, pimps, and shoplifters. They're throwing out candy laced with poison and riddled with fish hooks and needles. This is the cream of the crop as far as the Republicans are concerned. But the Democratic float has prominent citizens, pleasant looking families, people with teeth and their hair combed, various do-gooders from the town, who eschew the crowd's applause, giving it back to the crowd as a matter of respect and camaraderie. The Democrats don't throw anything. But they're very busy handing the crowd bottles of cold water, low sugar candy, and informational tracts about the issues and the good solutions to our problems.

I don't blame Republicans for not wanting to ride the float themselves. You'd almost think they would, since they're mental anyway, what do they know? But they don't, both to their shame and to their credit, if you know what I mean. They certainly would be no match for the Democrats, again with all their obvious birth defects, hideous deformities, and shedding chromosomes as they do, like water coming off a shaking dog. You ask a Republican for a constructive solution to our problems and they stare at you dumbly. Then they form a little circle, chatter among themselves in some strange language of chirps and cheeps, but finally it's clear ... nothing computes. Just a stupid, blank look on their faces. Constantly, invariably stupid.

This year hopeless John McCain is trying vainly for the local man's vote. Fat chance, defect, not with that "R" next to your name!

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Had An Idea

I had an idea a while ago and I can't think of it. Something about the local man, I think it was. It involved that. I should've written it down. Now it's lost, maybe forever.

Another idea I had one day seems to be lost forever. I've looked around at miscellaneous scraps of paper, thinking maybe I wrote it down. But if I did I haven't found the right scrap. It was something funny, too, which is unfortunate, since I know it was really funny. I was saying it and it made me laugh and one other person, who can't remember it either. Which goes to show you, if you have a good idea write it down!

I had half an idea when I was getting out to go to the grocery store the other night as well. And I thought I could use the audio recorder on my phone, since I didn't have a scrap of paper. But then when I got the audio recorder going I got stage fright and felt very inhibited. Here I am, this crazy person talking into a recorder, which, now that I think of it, I could have disguised by pretending I was talking on the phone.

Anyway, here's the complete transcript. You can see I was stumbling a bit:

The local man. Uhmm. Bud and Randy's Garage. There's no team like the local team. There's no fans like the fans -- There's no fans like my hometown's fans.

Listening to it now, the sound of hesitation in my voice recalls the really bad stage fright, that darned inhibition. But there's unmistakably some great ideas there. Including one I've written about since, that there is no team like the local team. The part about the fans, I didn't include that, which I should have. It's something I definitely believe. There's no fans quite like the fans I sit by.

The only obviously extraneous thing in that set of ideas is "Bud and Randy's Garage." Now, as I recall, that is one of the businesses that the local man patronizes. Although I was thinking of it as a very low level chain franchise. Like in two or three counties. Different from KFC and Pizza Hut, though still not strictly local.

But what was this morning's idea? The local man ... something ...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Local Man Supports The Team

There's no team like the local team, the Cardinals. I try to show my support. How? By going to most of the games and rooting with all my might.

When they put in the new bleachers, it gave me pride. When they transform the lovely field with artificial turf, as they're doing, I think, hmmm, injuries, and I don't care so much for that. But perhaps the powers that be know what they're doing.

When they ring the bell after each victory, I take that resounding gong home with me in my memory. When the graduating senior quarterback throws a touchdown pass with three seconds to go, I go ballistic. Utterly.

I like to hang out at the refreshment stand and eye some of the ladies, and get popcorn that's still fairly cheap, not like your larger city fare. When halftime ends I head back to my seat, because there's still a whole half of great action to go.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More About 9/11

I was rereading my post about 9/11, some of the interesting things I had to say about birds and dogs, and it put me in a nostalgic frame of mind, making me test my knowledge of my own past, specifically what dogs and birds I've owned, or have been in the family.

I had my first dog when I was around 5 years old, and his name was Eggard. Other dogs in my family included Poohie (collie), Peanuts (beagle), Spoochie (collie), Bozo (beagle), Cinnamon (like a terrier), Frankie (collie), Fritz (sort of like a German shepherd), Zoi (Pomeranian mix). I'm probably leaving out a dog or two. Fritz only lived a week after we got him. We got him at a dog pound, then it turned out he had worms, and he crawled under the stairs outside and died. I cried like a baby carrying his big old body over to his grave.

I remember when Eggard died, too, and basically where we buried him, down by the fence, actually less than a quarter mile from the Slump residence here. (There was another family dog at that same time, my brother's, named Rats, and he ran away.) There were several dogs, then, that Grandpa and Grandma had, but they were mostly around when I was just a small kid, and I don't remember them ever having a dog after I was over 5 or 6. So I don't know their names.

As for birds, well, there were several birds that Grandma had, always parakeets, with names I can't recall. Kind of like "Perty Boy" kinds of names. I had a few birds over the years, a parakeet that was named Morgan Featherchild (ha ha). Then there was a finch family, a couple named Man and Woman, who hatched out two babies, Cakes and Wilson. Man, Woman, and Cakes all perished in the course of things, then Wilson lived for quite a while longer. He must have lived three or four years, because I know he was hatched out in 1988 or 1989, and he died on the 30th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's death, November 22, 1993.

Wilson was a fairly smart bird. I could take the lid of his cage across the room, stand up on the couch, hold the lid near the ceiling and call to him and he'd fly over and land on it. I don't know German, but we sometimes called him Der Vilsonfleiger, and one of the calls to him to come to the lid was, "Vilshy Mission!" He was friendly, would land on your shoulder, would play with a wooden egg I had, fight with pencil erasers being poked at him, bite at a piece of floss, try to stand on the floss, and that's about it. I said he died in 1993, and I still have (2008) some of his poop. I had a cassette shelf that was hooked on the wall, and he'd land up there. One day I was looking at it and there his poop still was, just spots of it! So I covered it with some paper so it wouldn't get wiped away, and there it is still to this day.

It's amazing how important national and international anniversaries (9/11) make you remember lots of other interesting things, too!

This is a stereo picture of Wilson in 1989. If you look at Wilson kind of crosseyed, and let the pictures drift together you can see a fuzzy 3D view of him.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Local Man Thinks of 9/11

It's something to think about, when anniversaries roll around, whatever the anniversary is of. Like if you got married, that is your wedding anniversary -- whether it's your silver or golden anniversary or one of the others in between those or one below. Our birthday is called our birthday, but that's just a fancy way of saying it's the anniversary of your birth. If you're one year old in our country, you have been alive for a year, although in some countries, I've heard, they consider you one when you're born.

Scholars tell us that anniversaries are arbitrary, in the sense that to commemorate a particular date is only the result of a convention, i.e., our contrived way of marking time. On some other planet, or country, depending on the conditions there, were we to be there, we might choose to mark time in some other way. Then our equivalent of one year here might be a hundred years there. This is what scholars say. Scholars of course have many opinions, some quite treasured, some not worth the paper they're written on. One thing seems certain. The way we do it is the way it's done and likely will continue to be the way it's done, no matter how the intellectual class may buck and belittle the idea.

There are other ways of looking at time -- one of which engages my thought processes on certain occasions, such as when I'm out in the wild, studying nature, which is the effects of the passage of time on other creatures. From childhood we've known a curious fact of life for the canine (dog) family, which is that for them one year is equivalent to seven of our years. To break this down even further, a day for them is like a week for us. The key to this understanding is that everything is a multiple of seven, a fact not contradicted by the equally curious fact that they eat in a day more or less the equivalent of what we would eat in a day. This leads me to muse that a week's worth of time, if it only requires a day's worth of food, means the dog is eating relatively little food. We have the phrase, "to eat like a bird," meaning a small amount, but pound for pound, the dog may be eating much less, simply because of the passage of time as it relates to them and their size compared to birds.

I have had dogs and I have had birds. It does seem like dogs eat quite a bit more, until you factor in their size, as I said, compared to the typical housebird. Dogs are typically in the 10-30 pound range, so they eat 12 ounces to a pound of food on a typical day. Birds weigh around three or four ounces, sticking for the sake of argument with the finch or budgie (parakeet), and they essentially peck at their food and consume very little of it. I've seen enough seeds on the bottom of a cage, and scattered around the floor -- unless there's a very good cage skirt -- to tell me that they're wasting more than they're eating. If it's scattered on the floor, it's hard to separate and reuse. I feel it's best to just let it lay and they'll find it if they get hungry. After all, in nature, observation will attest, they do a lot of pecking at the ground. The housebird hasn't lost that instinct, it's only somewhat stunted because we favor them (spoil them) by too much unnecessary assistance. I was raised on this idea: An animal will eat if it gets hungry.

Really, in addition to birds, and getting back to dogs, I think people pamper their dogs too much. I really do. Things have changed, and we can attribute a lot of it to television advertisements, a transference or attribution of human desires to animals, and the babying that comes from too much attachment or sentimentality in our relations with animals in the home. I could go on. Whether it's allowing them in our beds, on our other furniture, feeding them from the table, or tolerating their many messes, you can plainly go overboard, and people do! This is not necessarily doing them any favors.

When I was growing up it was quite a bit different. The dog was a dumb brute animal in those days. Maybe it knew how to hunt but that was it. The rest of the time it was tied to a tree, and might just as well choke itself to death by being tangled up in a chain. Nobody paid much attention to it, even though it'd be yipping and begging for a minute of your time. We used the dog like a garbage disposal, taking our table scraps out, all mixed together in a kind of soppy bread slop and just dumped it in an old dirty dish. The thing is we got very few complaints because the average brute dog in those days would wolf it down practically in mid air.

I saw enough sickening dog antics to turn me off forever, but I've softened up quite a bit in later years and now have a great deal of compassion for dogs. This is something I've come to, dogs are intelligent, sensitive creatures -- I could almost say beings. They know how to love and they truly are man's best friend, no question about it.

Today is the seventh anniversary of the terrible attacks of September 11, 2001. Our nation observes the anniversary. We will not forget, but also we must not dwell on it.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Local Man on a Tirade

I'm steppin' high today, somewhere between suffering servant, stern prophet, and normal guy. I'm thinking apocalyptically, yet with the safety and security of my normal surroundings.

Even though it seems like the totality of existence is out there, perhaps in the final war, it's nice to be safe and warm at home. I'm about to have a chocolate cupcake.

I'm picturing how dramatic it is, and I'm picturing the blessedness as well, the things of safety, like a valley that the chosen are guided through. But in the mountains all around we can hear it, the seven thunders, the words uttered that no man can understand, followed by a half hour of silence in heaven. It can be quite fearsome, but it's nice to know I have a good deadbolt on the back door.

One can picture oneself as the local prophet of truth, let's say. And this local prophet has given his stern warnings, has acted out a stern tirade against sinners and doubters. Then he retreats first to his valley, then advances up the mountain to watch the incoming storm. He pulls up his mantle to a point just under his eyes, and squints his eyes to keep out the blowing sand.

I picture all that. And it's quite inspiring. But it's also comforting to know that I don't have that long a walk to get home; there aren't any mountains around here. Plus, I'd rather stay home with my things.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Local Man Shops Locally

When I, the local man, go shopping, I have certain civic scruples about it. One of these is that I like to shop locally, thereby keeping my money in the local community, where I live. To me this means being of support to my community, to help it stay strong in commerce by patronizing the businesses that are an important part of it.

I know I could save money by going to the larger city nearby. And I certainly know there are people in my town who don't believe the way I do -- or, to rephrase that, they don't practice it, probably because it's more important for them to save money. Or perhaps, and I've heard this, they believe the larger selection in the big city justifies shopping there, and more variety in stores. All those things are doubtless true, but for me it's looking for immediate gratification rather than thinking of the longer term implications. What if Mort's Five and Dime goes out of business? What will you do then in a pinch? The larger city is still a ways off.

This really comes up as an issue for me at Christmas. I have a few gifts to buy, Grandma, cousins, a couple others. It's sad to see the local businesses barely scraping by. I go in there and I notice they haven't had to hire extra help for the holidays. The local merchant is hanging on by his fingernails. It's all he can do to keep the lights on till a customer finally shows up. Then if the customer just browses, window shops, or is checking prices on his way out of town, that's a killer. There's some sad townspeople turning out their lights at 9:00 and walking home dejected.

There are plenty of businesses that aren't local in the strictest sense of the word. But they have local people working for them. Wal-Mart, Pizza Hut, KFC, etc. I don't know what happens to their money, exactly. They probably ship it out of town for the most part. But the people working there get their pay, and that money is good for the town.

One thing that would be a killer for me would be to have those very people taking their money and shopping at the big city. I know I would feel very sad to see that. I'm sure I would lose my composure if it were proven and not just an accusation.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Let's Hear It For The Local Man

I am the local man. The man on the street, the cop on the beat, the guy who picks up your garbage, the engineer who pulls the horn on the train when it passes.

The local weatherman, the local sports fan, the local greeter at the big store, the cashier who makes small talk about the things you buy, "Looks like someone's having tacos tonight."

When you call the local cab I'm the guy who shows up. When a teacher helps a kid tie his shoes, that's my fingers on the strings. The barber, that's me. The surgeon who puts in your artificial hip, look right in my face.

I grade your roads, I bale your hay, I pick lettuce at $50 an hour, I plow the fields, I pore asphalt in potholes, I pick up couches and big screen TVs for the rent-to-own place when you default on your contract, I'm there to drive your bus, pull your teeth, mow your yard, and flip burgers.

Yeah, that's me shoveling snow, delivering mail, punching steers, slicing meat, changing tires, and baking donuts.

I'm the local man -- the man who tips his hat and says, "Thank you, come again." I haven't got a problem with it. Why would I? It's a living.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What Makes a Maverick?

Mavericks don't fit in, and they don't lead the majority. They lead a few guys who look up to the boss.

If you're using the perception of being a maverick, and the majority follow you, and the conventional point of view is with you, that's phony.

A true maverick doesn't care what people think -- in the larger sense of thinking, not necessarily in particulars. Because mavericks can be decent human beings about it.

Sometimes you can be a maverick in your own mind, which still affects behavior, but fear holds you back from being fully engaged in it. A fantasizing maverick is a sad creature, postponing happiness for an imaginary future time.

Mavericks are loners, liking people in theory but not so much in practice.

There are milder cases, but these are only relative mavericks, somewhere just above or below conformity.

If you're using your maverick status to swing the conventional point of view to your own view you are one of these milder cases.

A true maverick can't be a conservative, because such limits are a contradiction. Someone who is a conservative and is mistaken for a maverick is actually a curmudgeon.

Also people who are simply hotheads are mistaken for mavericks. They pick fights for fun. A maverick doesn't care to fight. There's no use fighting because the world's a lost cause, and you know you're right.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Last Piece of Candy

I'm crazy when it comes to the last piece of candy. I want to make sure it lasts.

The big trouble is that I have no ability to make all the other pieces last. I bought a small bag of Brach's candy, the bulk kind at the grocery store, with two different flavors -- the Sundaes Neopolitan Coconut one and the Jelly Nougats. Both are quite good, even though they're probably not good for you.

The first one I took out of the bag while driving home from the grocery store was one of the Jelly Nougats. And I believe, without examining it completely, since I was driving, that it was a rare albino one, meaning there were no jelly nougats to be seen from the outside. I was sad after popping it in my mouth and chewing it because I should have examined it, plus maybe take a picture of it. Later, I was thinking of the white animals born in foreign countries that indicate the birth of an avatar or dali lama. And I hate the thought that maybe I ate the evidence of some heavenly sign. But I did.

You get quite a few of these to the pound. And when I have quite a few I'm not husbanding them as a candy stash like we did as kids, but my mind is drifting while looking at the computer or TV, and I'm gobbling them willy-nilly. I always have the resolution to take my time on the next one, since why hurry, it only means eating more than you need, plus the stash vanishes more quickly. Anyway, this one tastes the same as the next one, so why rush? But then the resolution never holds up -- chomp chomp, down the hatch -- and I have to move on to the next one. There's also the danger with a fresh one that it's going to pull out a filling, all the chomping you have to do to get it soft.

Then the supply gets low and I'm thinking of something I read in one of Ram Dass's books, how the Buddhists say everything is suffering. An example Ram Dass gives is an ice cream cone, that even this is suffering because when you have a full ice cream cone you're already anticipating it being gone. That's from the book The Only Dance There Is. I truly am thinking of the candy being gone before I dig in, but it starts to hit me the closer we get to it being gone in fact.

Then I get down to the last few pieces -- and these have to stretch, until I forget. Then the last piece in the bag. But I know that one fell out in the drawer here, so technically it will be the last piece. Then when I get to it, maybe some hours later, this is indeed the last piece of candy! This last piece has to stretch and stretch and be all salivaed up, dissolve and break up on its own. Until I start writing this blog article, forget, and swallow it.

Friday, September 5, 2008

National Grandparents Day

National Grandparents Day is this Sunday, Sept. 7!

Link: "The impetus for a National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade [the picture is of her] (now age 91), a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. President Jimmy Carter, in 1978, proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day."

That means there's one more shopping day till the big day. Flowers is an easy choice and sure to please.

Grandma and I will be spending the day pretty much like we spend every day, with a quiet day at home.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Roberta McCain

It was nice to see John McCain's mother, Roberta, at the convention tonight.

I don't really know what she's like -- if she likes to be tickled under the chin like Grandma Slump and to eat apricots -- but I can imagine, and I'll bet she does. It seems to be universal with ladies of her generation.

But maybe not. Sometimes we see an older gal like her -- and I say this in all respect, a grand looking dame -- and we forget she's not just an old lady, but the same kid she's always been. Only her body is older, something all of us will know for ourselves, if we're lucky. So there's no way to really generalize what they like. But I have my suspicions! Goochey, goochey, goo!

I've seen Mrs. McCain on a few shows, and it could be she's had a harder edge to her through life. For instance, she had some nasty things to say about Mitt Romney's religion (perfectly understandable from my point of view). Recently, I can't think of what it was, but she called something significant in the campaign "stupid." And she's been off the reservation a time or two in addition to those times. But everyone treats it as cute, which it is, but that also means they're going wink-wink, she's old and can't help it. Perhaps, but perhaps she knows exactly what she's saying, because she does seem pretty clear-minded to me. And I've seen confusion up close.

Her son said tonight that she was "96 years young," and that's good; she's getting there...

Last week we paid tribute to Joe Biden's dear mother, a cutie with decent legs. Tonight we pay tribute to John McCain's lovely mother, Roberta! Just because she swings Republican doesn't mean we don't like her, because, after all, that's an affliction I deal with and accept on a daily basis here on our own half acre.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

102-Year-Old Grandma Voting for Obama

This links to an article describing how someone's 102-year-old grandma decided to vote for Obama. The someone is named mangelwurzel, which when I mention again will have a capital M, just so it'll look more like a person's name and less like a botched German dish.

All of the HER and ME pieces below are from Mangelwurzel's article. So anything politically incorrect is Mangelwurzel's grandmother and does not necessarily represent the views of this blog's management, including Grandma Slump herself, who, of course, swings Republican and so is generally very politically correct.

One other item. I won't be researching whether Mangelwurzel is a male or female. Grandma calls Mangelwurzel a "Sweetie," which doesn't seal the deal since I've heard a lot of that over the years myself, but I will call Mangelwurzel a she anytime it comes up.

HER: My God the world's turnin' upside down over here

ME: What do you think of Sarah Palin?

HER: I tell you I can't see her as the president, she should be home taking care of all those babies. My heavens to betsy, one's knocked up and the other's retarded

ME: (wincing) Well, then what do you think of Obama, Grandma?

HER: Ohhh, I don't rightly like the idea of a black man in the White House. I'm worried he might shove it down our throats, everywhere you look it'll be black this and black that

ME: Well, I know you come from a different era, Grandma, but times have changed. It's not about black or white, it's about the man and his policies and what he can do for America. I think we're getting beyond that now

HER: Well, you're probably right and anyway he's the only one who knows what the hell he's doing, we've got no choice

ME: Really? You mean that? What about McCain?

HER: I never liked him very much, I don't reckon he could manage himself out of a paper bag

ME: (laughing) I don't either!

HER: But you know, I'm not going to be around much longer, it's not my problem anymore

ME: What?!? You're still alive, ain't you? Are you registered to vote? I thought Dad was going to take you over to vote like always.

HER: Yeah but I don't like this whole electoral college, delegate thing where I don't feel like my vote counts, we should have one man, one vote, a popular vote

ME: Ok, I agree with you there and certainly my Democratic vote is like a drop in the ocean in rural Texas (I vote by absentee ballot) but every vote helps, regardless of which party

HER: I just feel like my vote doesn't count

ME: Grandma, I don't care who you vote for but would you please vote this year? For me?

HER: Alright, honey, for you I will, I'll go vote

ME: Great!

HER: You want me to vote for that little black boy? (snarky voice)

ME: GRANDMA! I know he's not even half your age but he IS 47! Don't vote for him for my sake, you should vote for who you believe is the best candidate

HER: Well, out of what we've got, I don't see what other choice we have

ME: Your decision, I'm just glad to hear you'll vote again

HER: Probably my last time, you never know

ME: Nawwww, Grandma you'll be around for the next one

HER: I hope not! (laughing)

End of Mangelwurzel's Grandma's transcript. Now let me comment.

Grandma says, "My God the world's turnin' upside down over here." There must be something in the tone that implies this is a political statement and not just normal falling over, as Mangelwurzel replies, "What do you think of Sarah Palin?" From there on we're into the politics.

Grandma speaks with bluntness, using some interesting language, saying, "I tell you I can't see her as the president, she should be home taking care of all those babies. My heavens to betsy, one's knocked up and the other's retarded." Mangelwurzel rightly winces, because the phrase "Heavens to Betsy" is very outdated, even for centenarians. Then beyond that, Grandma is concerned that Obama is black, but maybe Mangelwurzel can explain to her that they still haven't found a cure for that, and that she should be compassionate toward the less fortunate.

Another tact -- not my personal favorite -- is what Mangelwurzel tries, explaining that "times have changed" and that America might be getting beyond racial distinctions. Grandma's in no mood for a discussion; I can tell that. My experience with Grandma Slump is that she doesn't agree this quickly unless she just wants you to go away so she can take a nap.

But Mangelwurzel takes her victory where she can get it and switches the subject to McCain. I like this, because if you leave Grandma to her own devices, at this point, the bugaboo on Obama being black will reemerge and she'll likely say something unpleasant. You know, maybe something about kinky hair, those hair bonnets they have to wear to keep the moisture in so the hair doesn't crack and fall into their food. That's the biggest reason white folks always hated soul food, the constant spitting out of dry hair. Anyway, we don't want Grandma to say anything embarrassing and stupid, or, frankly, racist, so let's move on...

The subject is McCain, and at this point Grandma and Mangelwhatever are both on the same page. Grandma says, with the keenest eye for intelligence and ignorance I believe I've ever seen in a doddering person of her years, "I never liked him very much, I don't reckon he could manage himself out of a paper bag." That is true. History records it -- which is no doubt where Grandma picked it up -- that John McCain spent 5½ years trapped in a paper bag.

Then Grandma turns morose, saying, "I'm not going to be around much longer, it's not my problem anymore." Mangel fights back tears and assures her that she has at least a 5% change of living until Nov. 4. For me, this is a place for a reassuring hug, as well as making sure her will is all in order. But what does Grandma do to compensate for her moment of weakness? Something I've never heard Grandma Slump do, that's for sure. She flips open a poli-sci textbook (her comment on the Electoral College)! My grandma can only be coaxed out of a stupor like that in two ways: 1) Tickle her under the chin; 2) Serve canned apricots.

But look at Mangel's punctuation: "ME: What?!?" She didn't respond with a gentle question. This was an excited response, then she mentions Dad, and Grandma is shocked back into sentience. I like that, verbal shock therapy, with a twist of guilt (i.e., remember you have a son who may appear to be fed up but still doesn't mind all that much doing things for you, so snap out of it!)

Grandma's response shows she may have once been a Social Studies teacher. To me it's so obvious that Grandma didn't really say this, "I don't like this whole electoral college, delegate thing where I don't feel like my vote counts, we should have one man, one vote, a popular vote." Mangel's lying! And yet, because it's so obviously a lie, it must be the truth, because no one would expect us to believe it unless it were true. So, yes, Mangelbaum's grandmother really said that.

Toward the end, they come to an agreement on the Electoral College, but still, Grandma must be coaxed into voting. "I just feel like my vote doesn't count," Grandma whines, perhaps sensing a serving of apricots and a good chin tickling in her immediate future. Then Mangel mangles it up by saying she doesn't "care" who Grandma votes for, but purdy-pwease, do it for wittle ole me. "Aw-wight, hunnybunch, for wittle old you I'll go vote..." Sickening drivel! Here's where my outrage comes from: The Bush administration is the most criminal administration in U.S. History. John McCain threatens to continue on the same path. Grandma needs to vote for the sake the country she presumably loves. But Mangel makes it into a personal thing, "For Me," and has the audacity to say she doesn't "care" who Grandma votes for! At this point I'm describing the brownshirts at the door, they're coming to get you, Grandma, they have ways of dealing with you! There's their ax! There's their sledgehammer! By now she's begging to vote for Obama.

Now, I know everyone will say, what about you? Haven't you said that Grandma Slump supports John McCain? And that she swings Republican? Yes. Those things are true. My only defense is this: I have no defense. But I may have a strategy. Let's just say when election day comes, maybe I "forget" where the voting station is, maybe I do. Or maybe I fill up the tank with gas, maybe the voting station is only a few miles away, maybe I drive around most of the morning looking for it, maybe I pull up next to an "unrelated building," and run in to do a "quick errand," maybe I refill the tank two or three more times as we're driving around between 7 a.m. and the time voting ends. I'm not saying any of that will happen, but if it did, there'd be no harm, no foul, because my own vote (which may or may not have happened during the "quick errand" at the "unrelated building") wouldn't be cancelled out by Grandma Slump's vote for McCain. So in that hypothetical it would be net one for Obama.

Back to Mangel's grandma. She says in a "snarky voice," "You want me to vote for that little black boy?" You know, I've always liked little black boys, like the ones dressed as servants, holding a ring to hook a horse to. The original black Cabbage Patch babies. And who can forget the story of Little Black Sambo? He's an overcomer; the tigers turn to butter. It's a great story.

Finally, in the end, Mangel guilt trips Grandma into making a commitment to Obama. "Don't vote for him FOR MY SAKE, you should vote for who YOU believe is the best candidate, hint hint." Grandma rightly says, "I don't see what other choice we have." Mangel is happy with "YOUR decision." Grandma gets sullen again, but invites a response of false hope, "Probably my last time, you never know." Then Mangel offers the false hope, "Nawwww, Grandma you'll be around for the next one." Here's where it gets treacly. Grandma says with a laugh, "I hope not!" If I'm Mangel, I'm sitting there thinking, OK, don't worry, you won't be!

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Great Pick Up Line

"Hey, baby, I've been undressing you with my eyes. Would you help me with these hooks?"

Monday, September 1, 2008

Buckets of Urine

Link: Large amounts of urine, including three to five gallon buckets of urine

This was one of the things listed that protesters of the Republican convention had stockpiled. I believe this particular cache of urine was found at just one site and so would not necessarily be the totality of urine on hand for the various protests.

It's an interesting thing to me, as are most bathroom subjects. You've got what? a bunch of folks peeing in buckets and keeping it all in reserve apparently for some nefarious purpose. Which, letting the mind wander, might include: Squirting it at people in squirt guns, like those big Pump Master water guns; dumping it over someone's head, much like you would a coach with Gatorade; or, spiking the punch at a fancy soiree.

But then the police show up, and they're going through your things: PVC pipe, chicken wire, high powered wrist rockets (never heard of that before), machetes, bolt cutters, hatchets, axes, rapelling equipment, etc. Nothing there much, really, that you wouldn't find at any garage sale. But then they come to these buckets of urine, three to five gallons worth, and you as the protester start to get nervous. "Uh, officer, you've heard of urine samples? My doctor wanted one, and I'm very obsessive, can never do anything halfway. I guess I went a little overboard."

I know how that goes about not doing things halfway. There was a show on TV one time about a guy who obsessively collects golf clubs. Buys every one he sees. So anytime I go to Goodwill and see a few golf clubs I tell myself that guy hasn't been here yet. I do a little of that, not with golf clubs, but some other things. The key to getting over it is to turn your obsession over to your consciousness, which means examining every nuance of your life obsessively, giving your lusts no quarter; the downside is your mind is afire with self doubt, reproach, and loathing; the upside is if you're really good at it you can save a little money.

But when it comes to something like urine, to me that's disgusting; just get rid of it. You may be very PO'ed, but you don't have to show it in such a literal way.

You could come up with another term for insane outbreaks. You're heard of "Going Postal," this is "Going Pistol." The police like to have their fun, "Urine a lot of trouble, buddy." If they're charged with anything, I hope they can find a fair jury of their pee'ers.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Farewell, August

August has a very fat name, doesn't it? Look at it. It's beyond pleasantly plump. Plus it's got plenty of days, so you know it means business. August is hot and wears loose fitting clothes, but you can still tell it's got some girth under there.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Sources Tell Me

I'm still working my sources -- this time the news channel ones. For the most part they're putting a positive spin on Sarah Palin being John McCain's choice of running mate. All those questions of experience that were so important a few weeks ago are suddenly set aside. As Kay Baily Hutchinson said, No one really votes for the vice president anyway, it's all a wash.

None of my sources on TV have mentioned the Quayle factor. The last time we had a completely dippy pick for VP was Dan Quayle, leaving aside Jim Stockdale, and not taking into account Dick Cheney, who did have lots of experience. I'm just hoping Palin uses Stockdale's line, "Who am I and why am I here?"

As to my sources on the TV networks, I don't really like them. Andrea Mitchell, yukkus. Whatever protection I should be giving to my sources, I'm going to betray a confidence right now, Andrea Mitchell is one of my sources and she's a terrible one. I do believe in giving Gov. Palin the benefit of the doubt, but these issues of experience and possible corruption are not being questioned as they should be. And sexist stuff as to how Joe Biden will be able to debate a woman is not real good. And honestly, I don't see how any Hillary supporter, except maybe a few insane ones, would want Palin just because she's a woman. Does she share Democratic values? No.

Working My Sources


Your intrepid reporter is busy working his sources -- meaning I've been flipping from one TV channel to another and getting some of the vice presidential gossip. MSNBC over to CNN over to CNN Headline News over to Fox -- wait, scratch that, I didn't go to Fox. I accidentally got the Animal Planet channel, and according to my sources there, Bindi Erwin will not be -- repeat, she will not be -- John McCain's running mate.

I've been working my sources on the blogs as well. My fingers are literally breathless. I'm wearing out the 'Refresh' icon on my Firefox. I might have to download another copy. At Daily Kos they have a thread of speculation. I haven't looked at that yet, or maybe I have; I had to empty my cache since it was starting to spill out all over the floor, and emptying it reset all the links.

It could be Palin, Pawlenty, Romney, Huckabee, Quayle, Petraeus, Bailey-Hutchinson, Cindy. It can't be Bozo because he died a couple months ago. For sourcing on that last piece, that's from my own personal memory of the situation as I know it stands: Bozo the Clown is dead.

The Democratic Speeches

These reviews of the Democratic speeches will be short celebrations. I have zero criticism to make.

How about John Lewis? That was a great speech, wasn't it! The guy's a legend, and when he stands there it's like watching a million bucks that knows it's a million bucks. He's integrity incarnate.

The Martin Luther King, Jr./Rosa Parks tribute film -- That was inspiring in the most profound way. It really teaches you something, that they may hate and kill you at the time, but in the end, by a life of integrity and truth, you win. You hear of King wondering if his stand based on Gandhi and Jesus is adequate for the times, but he goes with it 100%. What a vindication in the years since then and now. He and Rosa Parks and all the other non-violent heroes did conquer and their names will live forever. Those who opposed them, those who opposed civil rights, those who labeled King a pinko and all the rest... Where are they? In the hall of shame, in history's dumpster.

Rev. Bernice King -- Brief speech meant to introduce her brother.

MLK III -- Real good. Personally, I don't think I would want to go through my own life continually talking about my dad day in and day out, for decades, but it must be OK with him.

will.i.am and John Legend -- These guys are geniuses. The song, which I guess was called "Yes We Can," built on Obama's speeches and included numerous snippets of his speeches as part of the lyrics, being sung over at the same time. That was a thing of beauty. I was amazed.

Al Gore -- The guy talks in a flawless way. And his intelligence is so astounding. It's hard to believe we ended up with the total moron we got in George W. Bush. For all those other morons out there, who thought George Bush would be more fun to have a beer with, how was the beer? He doesn't even drink, morons. This country, by the barest majority (electoral votes), turned away Al Gore. There must have been some terrrrrrrible karma this country was set to pay that allowed that tragedy to happen. Like maybe slavery and the massacred Indians put together. Otherwise there's no sense at all to it, unless good doesn't really triumph over evil. And make no mistake about it -- Make No Mistake About It -- George W. Bush is evil.

Susan Eisenhower -- She did a nice job.

The retired generals and admirals -- Good. Their spokesman laid it out in a nice way.

Barack Obama -- Who? Oh yeah, that guy. That was a stunning speech, right from the heart. I was blown away. Crystal clear, inspiring, specific, cutting, funny, common sense, heart of America, perfect.

At the end, there was something I loved, a bit of stagecraft. They played that classical type of music, in a slow, meandering way, and it suggested to me the end of a movie, where the heroes and victors are going off in slow motion, suggesting a happy ending, something extremely satisfying for the viewers. It gave it a kind of significance that is different than just walking off to some oldie. Then the way that Obama himself was the last one out; I thought that was a bit of genius too.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Your Intrepid Reporter -- Take 2

Last night I wrote about me being an intrepid reporter, and on-the-fly did some etymological speculation, deductions, (guesses, really) about the word "intrepid." I posted it to little fanfare, leading me to believe that no one was commenting on it because my explanation was beyond reproach.

I went to bed, then, and I was lying there thinking about it, mentally parsing the word, until I couldn't stand it anymore. So I got up and went to look at the dictionary, hoping to be validated, but I wasn't. That doesn't mean I looked up the other aspects of the definition, because I didn't. I just stuck to this one word, which, as it turns out, has something to do with the word "trepidation," which we all know has to do with fear. So "in" makes it a kind of opposite of that. Anyway, I could have looked up "trepidation" for its origins, but I didn't. I'm just not going to go out on a limb like I did last night and make any guesses about it.

Whether the word "intrepid" means (originally) what I said it means, or something like what the dictionary says, these are matters for scholars to debate. I'm just going to be it, not know it. I re-read over some of my reports, and really I think I was quite "intrepid." Look, I gave Joe Biden's mother five stars and I only gave Barack Obama four. That's fearless. I criticized Mrs. Biden's son for a few stumbles, meaning I have a spine of brass. I'm not that concerned about trolls or nasty emails. If you're going to be a reporter, with original reporting such as I provide, you have to play it right down the middle. To me that means Mrs. Biden did a great job, plain and simple. Others might see it differently, but that's their business; to each his own would be a good way to think about it.

I haven't turned on the TV yet today. But after while, after I do several other errands in my busy life, I plan on watching it. And I won't be taking a lot of notes. I'll just be relying on my memory. Then after it's over -- or maybe between events -- I'll come and post some comments about what happened. These may be very affirming comments; I hope they are. They may be mildly critical -- it's very likely there'll be something I don't like; I'm easy to satisfy, but not overly easy, pretty easy, but don't take it for granted. They may be quite critical -- such as if there is something very egregious, something that strikes me wrong, that raises a sense of ire. They may be super, all-consuming critical; I hope not, because I'm saving most of that for the Republican convention.

You'll have to check back, if you're really that curious. Because we're doing this in real time; even I don't know at this point what I will say!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Other Democratic Convention News

Your intrepid reporter missed most of it, to tell the truth. But among the things I saw were:

-- Joe Biden's speech. He seemed to stumble a few times. I think the problem might have been that it was mentioned a few times that he used to have a stuttering problem. So he was thinking of that and it meant a few missteps. Which illustrates the Karl Rove tactic of attacking someone's strength. In this case, he prevailed over stuttering, which led to what, bumbling words and phrases. As to the content of Joe's speech, he seemed strong and well-intentioned but it was all over the place. As for the catchphrase that the audience was to shout back, it was all muddled, and held back for some reason. When he attacked McCain for a few points this was muffled by referring to him as "John" over and over. The best parts involved Biden's personal biography, his mother, all that. He came across as a man of his word when his mother was nodding and saying "true."

-- Barack Obama made a surprise appearance at the end. He was exciting, and very personable. He had one verbal misstep as well, so it was contagious. And since I'm nothing if not tenacious, I'll trot out the same theory as to what happened to Joe Biden. Obama heard all that about the stuttering, then his subconscious said he didn't want to show up Biden, even though he (Obama) is Number One, he wanted to be gracious, and so he botched one line, and the first one even came out funny. But this isn't all bad, because it's not great to be too scripted.

-- John Kerry. I just saw a few minutes, and he was powerful about the swiftboaters, and all that. I just wish John Kerry could unleash his inner rabid dog and go genuinely on the attack. Everything that comes out of his mouth sounds half contrived and like it's being filtered within and awarded gold stars before it exits his mouth.

-- Bill Clinton. The dawg knows what he's talking about when it comes to presidents. And I thought his endorsement of Obama was pretty good. We don't want the world to go to pot, do we, just so Hillary will get another shot at it in four years?

-- Tammy Duckworth. I saw most of her presentation. She was heroic without taking a lot of credit herself. She was lavish in praise of her brother and sister soldiers.

-- Steven Spielberg film. Excellent, of course, touching music, a tearjerker of a tribute to veterans. It was good for more than the obvious reasons, but for this, that it showed the soldiers as so vulnerable, suggesting they've protected us, now they need a protector, someone to get them back to full strength. Tom Hanks was powerful.

All in all, then, things went pretty well. Joe Biden's mother gets five stars, Joe Biden three, Clinton four, Duckworth three, Spielberg five, Kerry three, Obama four on the evening.

Joe Biden's Mother


I'm going to start with the biggest news first. Joe Biden's mother looks a lot like Grandma Slump. Except she's a girlish 92 and not a mature woman of 104. And so she's no doubt still wet behind the ears.

They showed her in the audience, mouthing that it was "true" that she sent her son back out in the streets to bloody the nose of bullies. She's obviously a tough cookie, and she raised a tough cookie of a son.

Take a look at this photo. When she was sitting in the audience, you couldn't see the rest of her. She had that sweet wrinkly look of blessed age from the neck up, and you're thinking it's all she can do just to be there. So I'm holding my breath, hoping she'll be OK.

But then you see her out on the stage, and look at the photo. She's fit. She's got good looking legs! Those legs aren't Photoshopped. And look, it's virtually a miniskirt she's wearing! That's definitely not a Grandma Slump look! Grandpa and Grandma were married a long time before he ever saw that much skin!

In this picture, Mrs. Biden looks young and full of life. She's definitely a great gal, and it was very wonderful to see how much Joe Biden loves his dear mother.

Everyone who reads this blog knows that Grandma Slump swings Republican and I swing Democratic. But she might just change her mind if she gets a look at Joe Biden's mother!

Your Intrepid Reporter

Your intrepid reporter reporting here.

I've always liked the word 'intrepid.' It's like other words, if you say it a bunch of times it sounds weird. It sounds like a biped with three feet, a triped, or tripod. Trep is like a trap or a trip but isn't a word in its own right. I would guess the 'intre' goes together, as in intro, 'into' with a definite direction. As for 'pid,' my etymological guesses at first are up against the wall, but 'pedal' and words involving the feet ('pied' or 'podiatrist') come to mind. So put those together and you have someone taking steps in a courageous way into a situation. Look it up. I might be wrong but I can't be too far off.

But what does 'intrepid' mean when we use it generally? It's a word we all know when we hear it but because we don't use it in everyday conversation, it's definition is not immediately obvious. We could think first of 'fearless,' fools rushing in where angels fear to tread.

We tend to use it in a humorous way that suggests a parody, or an ironic speaking to someone's abilities. We know there were those who were genuinely, unabashedly intrepid in history and adventures, before anti-heroes, if you will, when heroes wore white hats and were unambiguously heroic and good. As for heroes today, you never know, they might be drunks and tragic figures when they put their white hat away, and when they take off their tight suit their belly flops out, very disgusting, pure fat. So it's always 'your intrepid' this or that with a slightly arch wink and a knowing, nodding chuckle.

I didn't mean to get into all that. We might say -- and with this next bit of humor I am really going to impose on your patience -- that I did something 'intrepid' in fact, stepping into a subject and explaining it both with precision and unnecessary extravagance.

The next post will get beyond the meaning of your reporter being 'intrepid' into what your 'intrepid' reporter has to say about tonight's convention news.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Democratic Convention - Day 1 and Day 2


I'm "liveblogging" here, although this is a quick recap of last night's proceedings at the Democratic convention a day late, so it's tape-delayed "liveblogging":


Day One

I honestly don't remember much about last night's proceedings. A succession of poor speeches by people I didn't really recognize, and apparently that went for the audience too. The two highlights were obviously Ted Kennedy and Michelle Obama.

Senator Kennedy gave an inspirational speech.

As for Michelle Obama's speech, she was natural, real, and wonderful. She's quite beautiful. The Obamas look so great, it's astounding.


Day Two

I watched some of the pundits and not all the tepid speeches of all those anonymous Who's-That-Guy types. I think Chuck Todd repeated himself too often about what Hillary needed to do. And I think Pat Buchanan is so full of both himself and crap that the two are indistinguishable.

I missed quite a bit because I had other things to do. That would include Dennis Kucinich. I'm really sorry I missed his speech. Also the other day when I was pounding nails I'm really sorry I didn't hit my thumb with the hammer.

Mark Warner's speech -- The man is not a loser, but he is a snoozer. If that's the "keynote" speech, give me the "key" to my room, because I'm going to bed.

Brian Schweitzer's speech -- Animated like a mime, bobbing and weaving, a bobblehead. By and large a rouser, although with a semi-false tone. With some doing he finally got the crowd into it. He was OK, nothing worth waking Grandma up for.

Hillary Clinton's speech -- She needed to show some support of Barack Obama and delivered. Her speech voice is a lot like fingernails on a chalkboard, but it was the content that mattered. She got the job done and her supporters were left with zero rationale for voting for McCain.

A Journalistic Frame of Mind

The whole thing about the Daily News doing a possible interview with me, then headlining the great feature story about my blogging efforts, "Local Man Writes Own Blog," has me in a very journalistic frame of mind. I've got to post something. I can't sit idly by.

I feel like doing original reporting, to be truthful. Such as doing my own interviews, great man on the street types of stories, with candid interviews with the man on the street, what he's up to, what his opinions are, and whether he's ever read my blog. Since I myself built this blog from the ground up, of course I want many more readers -- presently I have barely any -- and if I have to beat the bushes to attract them, then that will be my plan.

I need to work up a convincing spiel as to why anyone should read this blog. And I think I have one, because it might change your life, and also give you the kind of information you can't get other places. Look, already I have more behind-the-scenes details and intrigue with the personalities in my life than other blogs. You've got the best of both worlds, my runaway ego and my withering paranoia. And if that's not enough, my grandmother is on staff to give the perspective of bygone generations.

And one other thing you might see here: there's not a lot of cussing. I was warned against "blue language" as a kid. Also, no "blue humor" here, nothing raunchy, no unclean double entendres about body parts and functions. If you want that kind of talk, there are plenty of inferior blogs that will scratch your itch.

Now I'm going to phase out this particular post -- with your forbearance -- and give a quick journalistic rundown of the Democratic convention, recently in progress.

Monday, August 25, 2008

I Built This Blog

I am proud to say that I built this blog from the ground up.

As I shared yesterday, it is one of my greatest life fantasies to have the Daily News do an interview with me and write a story headlined, "Local Man Writes Own Blog." That may or may not happen, in part depending on my tenacity in getting the job done and in part depending on my strong faith.

Whether there is the glory of a Daily News feature story on me, I will continue to be proud of all I have done here. It is certain that not just anyone could have done it. It took someone with particular skills, a particular outlook, and the ability to draw in the different threads of experience and expressiveness to write a good blog like this.

Sometimes I ask myself how I was able to do it. In wracking my brain and coming up with an answer that is both honest and inspirational, let me say first it wasn't easy. I saw up close the same hurdles that everyone else sees. I saw the same temptation to give up that stares everyone in the face. And I didn't have to do it. But I did, and for that I remain proud.

Of course I have a daily source of inspiration in a very special lady, "Grandma Slump" herself. Playing the part of Grandma Slump is Mother Kendall, and hasn't she done an marvelous job? More or less forgotten, Mother Kendall left behind one known photograph and a whole lotta love. Her loving vibe comes to me through the ether. No doubt long dead in terms of her earthly life, Mother Kendall still inspires, having assumed the role of Grandma Slump here on earth. Perhaps Mother Kendall lived 80 years -- I don't know. But today she lives on as a occasionally robust 104-year-old woman, who takes no guff from me, who plays her single grandson. A big shout out to Mother Kendall, everyone!

That's a part of the inspiration. And inspiration is always a big part of any equation. But you know, they say it's 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration that carries things through. If 99% of the time you're sweating, then you are sweating an awful lot. And that's what I do. Daily I sweat as I put forth this blog.

It took a lot to come up with the great concept. It takes a lot to get the ideas, to develop them, and to present them in a way that adequately fulfills my goals. There are obviously lots of things I could be doing with my time. I could be reading and bettering myself. Just today I saw a couple of scholarly books for sale, one by Immanuel Kant and one on the utilitarian philosophy of Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill. But when I looked through those books, my eyes immediately glazed over, and I told myself, 'Why waste your time sweating over that, which you wouldn't understand anyway? If you want to know something about that stuff, which you don't, look it up on Wikipedia. Instead, you spend your time with ideas for this blog. That's what people want. And that's what you want.'

Now, please give me a moment as I metamorphose back into my personna as Grandma Slump's grandson.

The Daily News at this point doesn't know that a local man conceived and created this blog. But were they to know, I'm sure they would be amazed. It would not take them long -- this is my conviction -- to beat a path to my door for an exclusive interview. The reporters would look at our little house, and Grandma resting quietly in the bed, and would wonder how I did it with such modest means. I would instruct them that it's not a man's means that makes the difference, but a man's spirit. The dirt poorest man can still be a prince, under the right circumstances, a few lucky breaks, meeting the right girl, and somehow tricking her dad.

My spirit is such that a blog like this, while a challenge, is also a labor of love. And that labor of love will continue.

Whether the story ever materializes -- "Local Man Writes Own Blog" -- or whether I am condemned to write in solitary obscurity, write I will! This blog. This single blog. This single great blog, which I myself built from the ground up. A blog that I am proud of and should be proud of -- today and always.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

To Be Known For One Thing

I've been working on "ego" issues. Maybe I mentioned this before; I don't remember.

I let these personality things slide sometimes, then there's a flash of insight and next thing you know I'm back to it. These times usually coincide with me happening to see professional men dressed in white coats. The fact that they're not coming for me is always good, of course, but the fact that I'm thinking of it is enough of a wake-up call to get busy.

Thinking about my ego, usually it's deflated, but sometimes it's quite inflated. Even though I'm getting on in years, it still seems possible that a major producer will discover me and I'll be the next big rock star. Like Fabian. I just sit there, very coy like, but the producer never comes. And I'd hate to have to start out small and work my way up, like standing on the corner singing for dimes, then being the entertainment at a nursing home, then county fair competitions, then producing and marketing my own single record, then ... probably nothing. By this time I'm a worn out has been, with people pointing at me in grocery stores, going, "Isn't that the old guy who used to sing at the fair?"

It's always been one of my biggest fears "to be known for one thing." I hate that whole scene. Such as if you cause a stink at the courthouse in a dispute over your taxes, and let's say you pay your entire tax bill in pennies, and it makes the paper. From that point on, whether you live or die, you're the guy who caused a stink at the courthouse in a dispute over your taxes and who paid in pennies. That's nothing to be known for! And I knew a guy who was known for that. It's a long story, but he ended up in prison, because there was more to the story than that.

You can be known for fairly benign things, like, let's say you were an entertainer at nursing homes. Then any reference to you picks on that one thing. "Well-known nursing home entertainer, Oney 'I've Got a Frog in My Throat' Anderson, died today of a heart attack. His frog croaked too." Or to get out of the realm of penny protests and show business, you might have been a crossing guard for the school system. And that's the one thing you're known for.

I really think it's almost better to be known for nothing than for one thing!

Still, and this is my personal ego talking, how cool it'd be if the Daily News would run a story about me, with the glorious headline in 60 point type: "Local Man Writes Own Blog." Except then, someday 50 years from now when I die, it'd be "Local Man Who Wrote Own Blog Dies; Grandmother Mourns."

Friday, August 22, 2008

It Is Better...

"It is better to dwell in a corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman in a wide house." (Proverbs 21:9).

That verse was from my moment of devotion today. I'm trying my best to get my life on track. And one way I'm trying is the spiritual path. Thinking of my dad the other day, a yoga monk and teacher in the past, reminded me of some of the benefits of the deeper wisdom.

So I thought it over a while, then opened my Bible at random, and that's the verse right there in the vicinity that my eye saw and settled on. When I saw it it seemed entirely fitting in a way, and yet not one to one, because Grandma isn't exactly a brawling woman. I really don't think I'd say she was ever a brawler in the strictest sense of the word. Like anyone, she likes to get her way -- whether it's eating cake even though she has diabetes, buying lottery tickets even though money's right, or hogging the TV. There have been difficult times. But she's never pulled a knife on me or had me rassling in the dirt.

Anyway, the verse pictures two people living in a wide house, meaning they have plenty of room. We don't live in a wide house, just an ordinary, fairly narrow house. But we're pretty happy with it and don't have the energy to add on. We have the old philosophy, "Be it ever so humble, there's no place like home." That's always been one of Grandma's favorite stock-in-trade sayings.

So here we are at home. Home sweet home. The verse is saying, though, it would be bad to be even in a wide house if you had a brawling woman. Things wouldn't be so sweet.

The alternative given is to move up to the roof, to live on a corner of the housetop. That's not a natural place to live, and would be a ludicrous choice. So I'm taking it as the upshot of this whole verse that brawling women are to be avoided, whatever you have to do. A little advice to the menfolk, try to keep your grandmothers happy and you'll always have a decent place to live.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Brighten The Corner

Brighten the corner where you are.
Brighten the corner where you are.
Someone's out to get you whether near or far.
So brighten the corner where you are.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Our Own Little Corner of the World

If you've ever been good and paranoid, you know that you're the center of the universe and all eyes are on you, at least the bad ones. There's a camera on every pole, a camera that an enemy has installed in your garage, recorders under the couch cushions, maybe a bug on your collar, right where they can pick up your heavy breathing.

If you've ever gotten weird calls, as I have, numbers that are unidentified, mysterious clicks when you answer, odd numbers like 999-9999, recordings that start off with "Do not be alarmed," or actual cranks who seem to know more than you want them to know, saying, "I know where you go, and I know what you do there," then you've given at least a second thought to the idea that, yes, they're out to get you.

But you tell people this -- those who are comfortable in their own skin and believe no one's out to get them -- and they start to wonder about you. And when they start wondering, the cycle picks up again, and the wondering mounts and feeds upon itself. Perhaps they're trying to usurp, maybe that weird shifting in their eyes indicates discomfort, suspicion, revulsion, mistrust, and maybe they're just trying to humor you till they can get out of your sight and alert the authorities. They're coming with sedatives, dogs, electric prods. You don't have to tell me, a guy can lose a lot of sleep sitting at the window with a shotgun. Then you start to drift off and in a confused state you start, shaking off the sleep that's come upon you unbeknownst, and in the meantime you end up sending a spray of buckshot across the lawn. It happens.

Paranoia happens, then sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't, that's when you feel like you can be convinced that there's an entirely different scope on things. Meaning, maybe you really aren't the center of the universe. Maybe no one cares if you live or die. Maybe your spot in this world is confined to the little half acre, the little plot of land that your sad carcass is resting on right this minute. And while the rest of the world is cruising by in a convertible, their hair streaming in the wind, you're just sitting there a forgotten, unknown, neglected lump, worthless as ever. If you shoot your gun, occasionally, you'll get away with it, because no one is paying attention that closely. (You're just playing the devil, you didn't shoot your gun, no matter what ballistics tests might reveal, assuming they press the issue.)

To put it in a more positive way, there are niches, shelves, corners, and the like, and you're in one of them. If you're unknown, you are inhabiting your own little corner of the world. And you have all the privacy in the world, because, again, no one cares. If you live, fine. If you die, fine. It really makes no nevermind to anyone, men, women. They're out there, living it up, while you, in this pathetic enforced privacy are shut up, pining away, wishing, hoping against hope that maybe one of them, perhaps a good looking one, would give you the time of day. But apparently that's too much to ask, and so it goes on.

For me, I've found it's always best to look on the bright side and keep a positive outlook. When you have your own little corner of the world -- and when you're happy -- that's a fortune, it's worth its weight in gold. We used to sing that little song in Sunday School, "Brighten the corner where you are," and that's still the philosophy I live by. I have my place, you have yours, and never the twain must meet. That can be a challenge, of course, say, if we feel lonely at times, perhaps shunted off to the side of existence, out of the mainstream of life, like everyone else is partying it up while we're over here picking the scab of our many resentments, idly wondering what precisely is wrong with us? You'd think we're made of the common lump, right? Well, that might be expecting too much. You look at yourself in the mirror and you see the same thing as any other guy, and it makes you wonder, what's the problem? Because there's obviously a problem somewhere!

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days)

Those aren't tears streaming down my face. OK, they are tears -- I don't sweat that much.

So what's been tugging at my heartstrings today? Did I see a hen mothering an orphaned baby duck? No, the answer is less to be found in the realm of natural history and more in the realm of popular entertainment, culture, music to be specific, country music to be particular.

I've been listening to the Judds' song, "Grandpa (Tell Me 'Bout the Good Old Days)." It's an old favorite and a very touching song. You might remember it. "Take me back to yesterday when the line between right or wrong didn't seem so hazy." Then they remember back, asking about the greater family values, whether lovers really were in love, wondering if daddies really never went away, and if hens mothered orphaned baby ducks without some kind of egg subsidy from the government.

They explain to Grandpa that everything has changed, which is called progress, which might be a bad word for it. "Let's wander back into the past, and paint me a picture of long ago." "Did lovers really fall in love to stay, stand beside each other come what may..." I do remember those days, here with Grandpa and Grandma and everyone. There was the distance between my own parents and Grandpa and Grandma. Then Grandpa died and "he really went away."

The Kundalini family (my father received it as a monastic name in a yoga sect in California before meeting my mother, getting married by the guru, and having me) was spacey in many ways. We came back this way, to the Midwest. I ended up staying with my grandparents while they went on back to California and often to parts unknown. My dad's now passed away -- he "really went away," too -- and my mother is still alive, but sick and poor in California, apparently without much sentimentality, although once in a while she writes.

They were back, though, a few times, and we always had a nice time, especially with family meals, going hunting and fishing, and of course meditating. About meditation, that was a sore spot for the family -- Grandpa brought out many of his treasured cuss words to address the strangeness of it. He definitely didn't understand sitting in one spot doing nothing! So, yes, those were the good old days. Thank you, Judds, for bringing back all the great memories. Family estrangement, everyone going away, Grandpa's personality problems, government subsidized chickens, my sick mama, the works.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Miasmic Pepper Shrimp

I went undercover tonight in my crusade against the Chinese. It felt like backsliding, really, because I've been trying to avoid it, but it was for a good cause. I wanted to gain intelligence on their furtive, possibly evil ways. I went to eat at a Chinese restaurant.

This is usually something I regret, for obvious reasons. The food is very spicy, there's a hundred choices, about six of them taste good, and there's enough nasty looking items on the buffet to make the six seem bad.

Yet occasionally it's still a temptation I give in to, because once I had a good piece of chicken there and some kind of red pork. But that doesn't make up for the time the corn on the cob was rancid. In fact, most of the vegetables look bad enough that I scrupulously avoid them, so what do I have on my plate, about five different kinds of meat. Including lots of pepper shrimp. And a little bit of rice.

Tonight, though, as already revealed, I went with an ulterior motive, to seek out signs of Chinese espionage against America, perhaps secret trapdoors, boxes within boxes, finger traps, dripping water, fortune cookies hinting at illicit rendezvous'es (?), maybe illegal aliens serving as wait staff -- if I find something I might become known as the Lou Dobbs of Chinatown. And, who knows, if there's enough clues in this little strip mall dive I might lead a national effort, organizing a Minuteman brigade to guard the porous China/U.S. border.

But after eating there tonight, something weird happened. They must have known I was coming and did something to the food. Some kind of spice designed to overcome my will. With just a few bites of the pepper shrimp I completely mellowed out. I was in such a condition of weakened will that I believe I ate a cheese mussel still clinging to its shell. Yes, it must've been the hyper-spiced super miasmic pepper shrimp. That's my word for it, leading to the state that followed, a psychological bombasia I hadn't experienced since the Leon Russell concert in '72. But this was a salty food unlike any I've ever tasted. It was like dying and going to a potato chip factory. I felt myself becoming very lightheaded and felt a strange swaying motion. I looked over at the chandelier above the broccoli chow mein and everything seemed alive. I felt like I was staggering as I went for more shrimp.

Eating more and more, the sensation of motion left me and instead I felt a real honing of my senses; I could really think, like a computer making typewriter clicks and rings. I started taking in my surroundings. My eyes could see sharply, my sense of sound was keen. I listened to the waiters speaking Chinese and discerned their intent -- normal restaurant business. The people behind me laughed in conversation -- personal trivia with no greater meaning. I could read the lips of the folks across the way -- ordering iced tea. Even the manager and his son over by the cash register I could closely examine -- the boy was playing a game, a handheld electronic game. My senses were alive, but there wasn't a single bit of espionage. But I no longer cared.

I ate another helping of the miasmic pepper shrimp, and it took away a lot of the anxiety I've had lately. There truly was something in it that seemed to make me tolerate the Chinese more and more. I went out of that restaurant no longer caring about their Communist government that much. And everything else I criticized them for, I decided to let bygones be bygones. Shake and be friends.

Perhaps this was their evil plan all along, to make me friends with China. But I don't care a bit.