Monday, June 30, 2008

Anything That Doesn't Kill Me

I've found over the years -- perhaps fitness research would bear me out -- that when despondency is present, when "Old Man Blues" pays his sometimes daily visit, it's best not to take it lying down, certainly, but to be up and at 'em! I sometimes forget that, then there I am moping around the house, lying in my bed looking up at the ceiling, or dulling the pain with an extra helping of apricots.

Then suddenly it hits me, it's time to get up and get with it! Why let life keep passing me by? There's no percentage in giving up. To postpone misery's passing is to submit to the theft of what quality time I may have remaining, or something like that. Anyway, as my cousin always wisely said, "Anything that doesn't kill me makes me stronger." He could turn a great phrase, and this is one I remember.

So here's the way I handled the post-terrorist threat blues:

First, there was a box in the yard -- must've been blowing through. I took a club and beat the crap out of it.

Second, I got Grandpa's old exercise bike out of the garage, squirted a little oil in some of the bits there and got it loosened up to the point that it could squeak along. Not smooth at all, but I'm thinking as I'm working it, "Anything that doesn't kill me..." This thing might, though. I rode it a mile, which, with the severely constrained mechanism there, giving out, freezing up, then freer for a few seconds -- all quite unpredictable -- is equivalent to about 20 miles.

After that I thought about crashing. Rest by the old maple tree. But that's just life passing me by again. So I was up and at it, running around the half acre, through the weeds, tripping over the clods that have been rooted up by moles or gophers or whatever, and around. Over and over. By now I've got my shirt off, tucked in my back pants pocket. I'm rolling my arms through the air -- you know, like they do. "Anything that doesn't kill me" is going through my mind, but, hey, I'm pretty much out of shape.

Now what? I've worked off a lot of the stress. It's time to live!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Despondent Boy

For a few days there we had some real excitement. But now things have died down and we're back to normal. And one day is just the same as others.

I felt like we were at a peak experience there for a while, when Grandma and I thought the terrorists were coming to get us. We weren't thoroughly prepared -- I went into all that -- but the preparations were good enough, let's say, to survive a quick strike. Such as if the terrorists had taken out most of the neighborhood, including our house, and had moved on. We would have been OK in the cellar and would have been able to come up to the surface after everything died down to live another day.

I can see myself, really, in the aftermath of something terrible. Let's just say the house was destroyed. And the half-acre was littered with our possessions. I would be sheltering Grandma through most of the explosions. Then when it all died down I would tell her to be patient, that we must not go out too soon, no matter how curious we naturally would be. Then, perhaps in the dead of night, when there was not a creature stirring, and no sound, I would get my flashlight--

Here's where it gets good. Because then I would still be very cautious, even with the flashlight. My first hope would be that I was able to see without it. Such as if it were a moonlit night or a car was driving by with its lights on. I would attempt to see what there was to see. And I've always been real good at moving -- like a ninja -- without making a lot of noise. (Now, if the floor is naturally creaky, of course I have trouble with that -- who wouldn't? But for the most part, you don't know I'm coming and you don't know I was there until I'm gone!)

So, I would be outside the house. Perhaps all that is left is just the cellar door under a hundred pounds of debris. Grandma is safely behind in her chair. I lift the debris and climb out. I can picture myself, a very grim look of determination playing across my face, hoping it is a moonlit night that my heroic features might be accentuated for posterity.

Moving in my silent way -- as best as can be managed, with no creaky floors in sight -- I see the possessions of a more peaceful day scattered and blowing in the wind. Over there against the fence, pages flapping, is a TV Guide, but there's no TV.

In the distance I can hear the tanks rolling for the city. I'm able to run -- like 40 mph -- over to the interstate. I get there and see them, and can tell by their markings that they're ours. Yet there's no way they would know me. They'd likely take me for a hostile character. So I give them a silent salute. I mouth a silent prayer of godspeed -- the wind takes it and makes it its own.

Back in the bunker, I report to Grandma all the many images I have seen and declare how we will be OK. I'm rocking her in my arms for comfort. Still, I'm wondering to myself how exactly we really will ever manage. The house is completely gone. Only the outhouse is still standing. But you can't live there, of course -- not unless you added on a couple rooms.

Getting back to normal is sort of depressing. But, hey, we do still have the house.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Morning After

There was a song that kept running through my mind all night, "There's got to be a morning after if we can hold on through the night."

I'm by nature an optimist and like to look on the bright side. Even if the terrorists didn't strike -- the Republicans somehow stopped them -- being in the cellar was a good drill. It showed how prepared we were for the worst. And as far as I'm concerned we're a lot stronger for it.

We're wiser for it, too, because I was able to discover in real life testing what some of our shortcomings are. Now, if I tweak those and touch up the conditions of our confinement, we'll be doubly prepared the next time there's a terrorist scare. And don't think it won't happen! That would be a September 10 mindset. Constant fear is the best course.

Grandma's back upstairs, on her bed right now. She was beat -- physically, emotionally -- completely spent. I haven't seen her this wrung-out in a long time, I guess since Grandpa's death. And that was 30 years ago. And she was a lot younger then and could take it. Now she's practically at death's door herself. It took me a good half hour to get her up the cellar stairs; stopping and starting, clutching at her heart. Her poor old frail body can't take much more of this. But somehow, someway -- a lot of prayer and patience -- we made it, both of us staggering, she in a state of collapse. After that, it was literally all I could do to prop her up at the stove to rustle me up some breakfast.

Now the evaluations must begin. The biggest downside I saw in this whole experience was the sanitary facilities. The bucket. It would be much better to get one of those camper toilets -- I think I've heard of them -- where there's some kind of really hungry enzyme in there, in the millions, in a constant state of anticipation, that helps keep it clean. Or possibly a chemical dissolvent, something that would neutralize the whole works with a minimum of fumes and sizzling. And that wouldn't attach itself to us! You think, though, you're down there, helpless, and anything could happen. I can see myself living in the fear that an enzyme or a chemical like that might attach itself to us, and essentially eat its way up and out our mouth! So we'll probably keep the bucket handy till I work through some of these things.

And there were other obvious downsides: Cooking, cleaning, ventilation, lighting, no generator, old supplies, dampness, everything else. Plus, I left my gun upstairs. If the terrorists had come busting in, we'd have been dead meat.

It turns out survival is a tough business, something that needs a lot of planning. About the only thing that worked well was the duct tape on the door cracks, but then that also gave us more ventiliation issues.

Last night was a long one, but in the end we came through it OK. Now Grandma can rest up through the morning -- till lunch time. And then we'll see what the rest of the day brings. But I'm looking out right now at a beautiful day. The terrorists didn't come! Somehow John McCain kept us safe -- I guess -- but we also had a hand in it, bravely doing what we could.

And we'll do it better next time! Because it's not a matter of IF but WHEN.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Bunker Mentality

The electricity's been going out all day, off and on. We heard numerous explosions, great blasts. My sense of the thing is that it's either Al Qaeda blowing up the neighborhood or another thunderstorm.

I left the cellar once, to empty the bathroom bucket, but if the enemy closes in on us we might have to just sit tight and endure the smell. It's not a good option, of course, but survival is the main thing, not comfort. Grandma was up and down all night -- heck of a time for the trots. And there I am -- can't sleep anyway, my nerves are shot -- and she's over on the bucket giving it her worst. But the morning did finally come.

Anyway, with the electrical problems that meant this computer was going off all the time. But I'm doing my best here. I just hope there's someone out there still alive. If John McCain is reading this -- or one of his aides, assuming any have survived -- please save us. We're too young to die; that's definitely true of myself, I guess I should add.

It's only been one day and already I feel like I've got bunker mentality. It's very tight quarters in here with the stores Grandpa packed away. I'm looking at some of the bags of this stuff. Rice, beans, powdered water. All of which seems OK. This is not going to be pleasant if it lasts too long. But how long is it going to last?

Let me pause a moment here, to think...

I guess, I don't know, maybe, could be ... I probably should've waited for some official notification from the authorities before going to the cellar. We came down here simply on reflex, it was her idea. But when you think about it, you know, McCain only said he would have an "advantage" if we had another terrorist attack. But -- I think I'm on to something important here -- you know, if you parse that out, then take it in the literal sense of the words, really that's quite a bit different, that's removed from an out and out actual declaration that Al Qaeda is already on their way. And the assumption that they would first attack a rural neighborhood like this, here at the edge of town, on a gravel road, is something else to reevaluate...

I need to take another look at this print out ... looking at it here -- rereading it -- I think the plain sense of this document is absolutely clear, that all of it seems to be merely hypothetical. This in no sense reads like an actual warning, nor, quite frankly, do I see any directive, any instructions as to what citizens should do at the present time -- which you would expect to see if it were like other emergencies; they always have some notification component. Hmm, come to think of it, we had the radio on most of the day and they didn't say a word about it.

But there's Grandma Slump sitting there in her civil defense helmet, rocking slowly back and forth, drifting in and out of intense alertness. I might have to suck it up and take the blame here. So she got siren happy! She's old, and entitled to a certain extent! Well, I'm sitting tight for the moment. Maybe. I'd hate to get up and disappoint her and tell her we're wasting our time down here. She might not believe me. She knows I swing Democratic. She might take it as a personal affront, since we got this alert from a Republican.

But she's stirring a bit, shifting uneasily, and that's what she does when she's fixing to use the bucket. I might get sick. I'll turn my head, of course. There's nothing I want to see. Especially in her sickened condition. Basic hygiene and all that, it's lacking.

One more night of this and we'll reassess in the morning.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Terrorists Are Coming Again!

Those darned old terrorists are coming again -- since it's an election year!

It wasn't enough that they got lucky on 9/11, but they've threatened us and scared us out of our everloving wits ever since, like clockwork at two year intervals.

As sure as anything -- it must be her instinct -- Grandma Slump perked up at the news that they were on their way again, and she's been grinding out that old siren I got one time at an army surplus store.

That's my cue to get to the basement. There's really something about the paranoia of a 104 year old woman. It's not constant but it's very intense in spurts. In those lucid moments she has the urge to survive like a young sprout half her age.

This all started with John McCain raising the very real specter of Osama bin Laden just over the next horizon. Grandma's always been for the Republicans, since she knows no one can protect us like they can -- like they did on 9/11. I've always been pretty much a Democrat, but as soon as the news starts chattering about terrorists, and when Grandma starts cranking that siren, there's nothing I can do but submit and look to the Republicans for protection.

Charlie Black really got it going, saying what an "advantage" terrorism is for McCain. And McCain himself has agreed with that verdict in the past, as I think we all do. Yes, McCain's the man to keep us safe! If we vote for McCain we will be safe! Although, truthfully, all we have to do is get him elected and make it past election day in November, and then, if history is any guide, the threat will subside significantly. So that's a pretty big relief.

Well, that old siren's going off, so Grandma must be awake again. I have just a couple minutes to wish everyone out there well, then I'll head for the cellar. She's already down there, of course. We're ready for the long haul. We've got a bucket for bathroom necessities. And all those boxes of civil defense rations -- crackers and canned meat -- Grandpa put down there in the '50s. I hope it's still good.

Remember, world, if this is the last chance I'm able to communicate with the outer world for the foreseeable future, all these problems with terrorists will be solved if only we have the good sense to elect the Republicans.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Slumps and the Swishers

Everybody needs an enemy. And, it would seem, when we get one it's also necessary to use them to good advantage.

When our enemy was a country -- like the Soviet Union -- some of us (not me) used them to good advantage. They kept us pretty much terrified (me) of what might happen -- the Soviets were barely people like us -- and so, no doubt, there was a lot of money to be made in defense efforts, armaments, etc.

Now our big enemy are the terrorists. Whether they really have much power and presence or not, it doesn't make any difference. They're our enemy, and we (somebody) will use them to good advantage. The watershed moment -- which the neocons were thankful for -- was 9/11. You see it pays to have a good defense, but if the enemy still manages to get through, by luck, by hook or crook, or by our own negligence, that also can pay. 9/11 paid big time. There should be no dispute about that. Bush rode it all the way to Iraq and hasn't come back yet. The Republicans used it to ride to victory in 2004 and it looks like that's about all they have left this year.

Today we had it in the news something of this very thing, that the McCain campaign thinks another terrorist attack on America would be beneficial. McCain aide Charlie Black said the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an “unfortunate event. But [McCain's] knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who’s ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us.” The subject of another terrorist attack on U.S. soil was brought up, and Black said, “Certainly it would be a big advantage to him.” So, try to imagine John McCain's prayers every night before he goes to bed, "Oh, please Lord, please, pour out your wrath on this nation once again, so I can get my sorry butt elected. In Jerry Falwell's name I pray, Amen."

"Certainly it would be a big advantage to him." That's what the Republicans are hoping for.

Here on the Slump half-acre, things are pretty calm. But it wasn't always so. We used to have an enemy -- I never really knew why -- the Swishers next door. It was common knowledge that the Slumps never had much use for the Swishers, and the opposite was no doubt true.

Grandpa Slump was the most vocal about it, of course. But he was known to get drunk and shoot rock salt at random. So he was always the most vocal. Grandma always had the basic quietness that is natural for women of her generation. I suppose you have all those kids, and raise them in the depression, and everyday's another heartache, it gives you a softer nature. Not for Grandpa. But of course the drinking took away whatever softer side he might've had.

The odd thing about this feud was it was very low-key. I wouldn't have known the Swishers existed, basically, if Grandpa wasn't grumbling about them. They didn't seem to be bad neighbors and kept to themselves. I said that was the odd thing, but the oddest thing of all was that one of my uncles -- Babe -- married a Swisher daughter. That was before I was born. So why Grandpa couldn't like them at that point, I don't know.

Everyone's got enemies.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Live Blogging 20 on 20

My favorite radio station in the whole world is XM Radio's 20 on 20. It's like a candy store of music. The same songs in quick rotation. They have the top 20 a few times a day now, then the rest of the time it's just top songs, including of course some of the 20 that will make the top 20.

Lil Wayne - Lollipop -- I've heard this song a few times. It has a nice interplay of voices. Some of the vocals are overly filtered with effects. It mentions "Shorty" or "Shawty" a lot, like some of the other songs popular these days. There are a few drop-outs, probably censored bits. I haven't heard an uncensored version, but I have my suspicions about this "lollipop," if you know what I mean (nudge nudge). There's a real neat drum sound on this record, overly trebled, and it sounds cool. I've been thinking about it lately.

Coldplay - Viva la Vida -- This is a nice song. I got the CD the other day and I like it. I have the other Coldplay CDs and have heard them, especially X&Y, but I'm not so well versed like the gurus at All Music. com who must sit in ivory towers listening, charting, dissecting, and interacting with live hookups with every artist in the world. They know so much! I just say, cool song, cool album, etc. But I do like it. It starts off with a little tune, the same tune it ends with, so it's connected back on itself. I've noticed it's an easy CD to listen to while doing other things, not something that needs to be concentrated on or is intrusive. So, I really haven't noticed what the lyrics even are, on any of the songs, and I've heard the whole album four or five times. This song, the single, I've heard a lot more, since it's on 20 on 20 every hour or so. It has some nice strings, and a thicker sound, thanks to Eno, no doubt.

Jessie McCartney commercial -- Taking over 20 on 20 on Friday.

New Kids on the Block - Summer Time -- I've only heard this a couple times. I read about New Kids the other day, back together, doing a tour, with a CD. I myself wasn't a fan of the group. My kids liked them. We got one of their CDs at a garage sale in May, to fill in my daughter's collection. (By the way, I'm out of my Grandma Slump pathetic hayseed character for this post. So if you're worrying about continuity, don't. It's all fake.) This is a good song, affirmative, thinking about you in the summer time. The whole group's in on the vocals, of course. Sounds like a hit to me! Welcome back! I don't remember their names, Jordan, Donnie, that's all I got.

Jordin Sparks and Chris Brown - No Air -- This is a hot song. They did it together on American Idol and it was burning hot. I like it a lot. I've liked Jordin's singles, Tattoo and the other one, the name escapes me. Chris Brown always sounds good. It's a hot duet. "It's so hard for me to breathe. Tell me how I'm supposed to breathe with no air." It's a song like this that makes 20 on 20 a candy store. If you like the colors and jars in a candy store, these songs are that. Classical music CD stores -- of which there must still be one somewhere -- are candy stores too. I used to see one at Westport at Kansas City, Missouri. Candy store.

Britney - Break the Ice -- I don't think I've heard this before. I haven't been on 20 on 20 that much lately, just in the last couple days, so I might've missed a few things. But it's time to get caught up. Less electronic effects on the vocals than on some of her recent singles. Sounds OK, but it's not engrained in me yet. Hmm, she says, "I like this part." I seem to remember that from another song. Didn't she say that in one of the other singles from the latest album? Plus I heard a song by some guys the other day where the guy says, "I like this part."

OK, we're at the top of the hour. Jessie McCartney is taking over, playing his top 20. Here he is, talking, speaking to us, updating us guys about what's going on. He's back in 2008 and hopefully it will be a great year. He's been working on a new album, has been working with a lot of R&B guys, and the album is a big step forward for him.

His first song played:

Snoop Dogg - Sensual Seduction -- Well, I have to go ... so we'll leave it there.

I Kissed a Girl -- I Wish

Anyway, so here I sit at Grandma Slump's, a confirmed bachelor, more a consequence of never actually getting out there in the dating pool. I might have to buy myself a really good suit one of these days -- yeah, that's what I'll do. Then I'll get some gel for my hair, what's left of it, a few wisps left here and there. And maybe I could make myself presentable.

I used to think maybe I had something to offer. But you know the old old story. I was shy. I figured Grandma and Grandpa needed help around the property here. Grandpa never saw any reason for me to be "cattin' around." But he's been gone for years and I guess I let some of his stick in the mud rules keep me down.

I saw an article, though, the other day, that said 25% of adults in New York have herpes -- I'm not sure if that meant genital herpes, the kind they advertise on TV for or not. They have these two elfin romantics riding bikes on the commercial. And one of them -- the infected one -- has some positive things to say about her outbreaks and the period of time between them. I'm thinking at first, say no more, you're out of here, true love or not. Send you to a herpes island and let people air drop you supplies. But if 25% of an entire city is in the same boat, we'll either need a bigger island, or we'll have to somehow coexist. That takes away some of your desire, though, right there.

But I know there's a lot of people "gettin' lucky" out there, whether they have a nice suit and hair gel or not. They knock back a few drinks, that reduces their inhibitions, eye contact comes next, there's some barely perceptible head feints toward the door, then they stagger to the backseat of their car, and that's it. Exchange names, health records, and you got it.

Some of these girls kissing girls, though, is almost too much. You figure, hey girls, get a guy and leave the girls to us men. At least it'd expand our odds a bit if the girls weren't horning in on our territory. But who am I trying to kid? My odds aren't that great. Like tonight. Grandma's going to be snoring in about an hour, I'll be playing solitaire or shelling hickory nuts, maybe checking out the Keith Olbermann program. It's Friday night and that's my idea of action -- pathetic.

Did you happen to see the story about the 17 girls at a high school who had a pregnancy pact? They're just out getting pregnant, just to do it. Grandpa always called that "sleeping with a bull" -- seriously. And one of the guys was a homeless guy. Now he might end up a registered sex offender since the girls were underage. And if you have to register your address and you're homeless -- well, you can see the trouble. But the first part actually gives me hope -- the pact. Maybe there's some more middle aged gals out there making pacts. If I heard of any kind of pact I could show up outside their headquarters. I've got a big bouquet of flowers. I've got my hair slicked over my bald spot. I've got my new suit on. I've got a sign that says something suggestive, you know, like "Hiya, girls. Wink wink. I'm desperate, let me in."

It's not my purpose to rag on myself and my prospects, but they're getting bleak. I had an embarrassing experience, I suppose I could say it. It was all in good fun. One of my good friends from high school -- we were having the high school reunion -- 30th -- and he wanted to go out with me. So we went to a restaurant, a kind of nice one over by the college. We were standing there waiting for a table because it was crowded. And right here, real close right there, there was a table with about 14 college girls -- like drill team girls -- around it. Nothing but 14 girls together! And my old friend goes, "What's this? A meeting of your ex-girlfriends getting together to talk over old times?" It was something like that he said. I gave a fake chuckle, but the thought kept going through my mind the whole night, even later through the night at home. 14 ex-girlfriends talking over old times! It's bizarre, but definitely something to think about!

Battle of the "I Kissed a Girl"s

It's kind of weird to have such a distinctive title recycled like that, with Jill Sobule in 1995 and now Katy Perry this year. I know titles are not copyrighted themselves, but you're not expecting a different "A Hard Day's Night" or "Like A Rolling Stone" to come along.

There's an article at Entertainment Weekly, called "Jill Sobule weighs in on Katy Perry's 'Kissed a Girl'" that has some of Jill's thoughts on this. She says, "I don't feel precious about the title, but I've gotten tons of e-mails from annoyed fans."

When I first saw there was a song with that title, I thought 'remake," cover version. But it turned out not to be.

So we have the battle of the videos, battle of the kissing girl songs. Which one is best? Jill Sobule's is cuter, more bubbly, a great guitar break. I like both really. Katy's is more a tailored mainstream sound for today. It might also be more consciously pushing buttons. I like the line about "cherry Chapstick," but who wouldn't?

One thing I don't see much of in these videos is any actual kissing!

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Eight-Track Consciousness

I've been thinking about life and all its peculiarities and particularities. That there's a certain trajectory to life, going, it appears, from one moment to the next. This of course seems self-evident to us in the West, just guessing, but there have been those (are those?) who have seen it as more cyclical, or, maybe even in some more inscrutable way, like cyclical/linear/quarkish all at the same time. I suppose you could call our linearity similar to a phonograph record, the cyclical people's similar to a CD, and that last bunch similar to an 8-track tape.

If you think of each one as preserving something, yet having its own little world (ethos), this makes an apt illustration of my point. What the phonograph record and CD suggest is pretty obvious. But the 8-track tape is a real adventure, if you remember them, a wild, easily disordered affair, a mushy, undependable interface point, planned and unplanned program jumping, sometimes unexpected repetitions, bleeding tracks, continued songs, space-age wavering, slowing down, speeding up; they really could be used in consciousness experiments, if not transcedence / transconsciousness triggers. The artist intended the music of this world, the delivery gave a door beyond.

And to think I used to see them along the road, broken, run-over, the tape unspooling, flapping about in the wind, being tangled in weeds and pecked at by red-winged blackbirds. I should have collected them and pieced them together. Who knows what I might have discovered, say, if I would've run them upside down, backwards, through, say, two players simultaneously, or whatever? It might've been an eye-opener!

Original article ["Feeling Sorry for Myself"] fragments, now abandoned:

Anyway, as I said at the outset, I've been thinking of life, in particular, my pathetic life here. Grandma Slump in the other room snoring. She's a real survivor. She survived another day of life, as did I. Why do I say "pathetic?" Not for any big huge monstrous reason, really, but I guess I'm tired, and just feeling sorry for myself. I'm sitting here, aging right along, definitely linear (it's obvious), and I know other guys my age are out there, partying with wives, having martinis with business associates, helping their kids get through college, driving big Hummers, the works.

But the way it was for me -- the peculiarities and particularities coming out of my choices -- was that I stayed with Grandma. Taking care of her, I can chalk that up to my credit. And I do help out around here. I guess I should be a little proud. My clothes aren't your expensive brands. But, hey...

Yet, looking at these four walls everyday of my life, sleeping on the same bed I slept on when I was 12, and watching time tick on toward the time when I join Grandma in Heaven. There's something less than satisfying about that.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

"Old" Got the Most Mentions

In the Baltimore Sun article by Paul West, "McCain has diluted his rare reputation," there's mention of a Pew Research Center poll that asked voters to sum up McCain in one word.

"Old" got the most mentions.

Old is fine in my neighborhood. I've barely got any friends under 80. There are those who come to check on Grandma Slump, and most of them are young, but I don't know that they really want to be friends. They tend to look at me askance, like 'Why don't you grow up and move away? You're not getting any younger yourself. And here you sit, mooching off your Grandma's Social Security for your livelihood. Living in her house. Vegetating. We social-services-types have no use for an old hayseed who doesn't get out and get a job but lives only as a parasite on an old lady's tender mercies. Sure, she is your grandma, and she did allow you to live here after high school, but that was meant to be temporary. Who knew you'd glom on like a barnacle and still be here after decades had passed? Who does that? You're very creepy. You're a creepy old man who might be a clown when no one's looking, for all we know.'

They've never actually said any of that. So maybe it's all in my mind. I might be losing it, you know, up there. Cuckoo time. That's what age does. And while I'm not in her head, who knows what kind of la-la goes on in Grandma's mind? Swatting for flies that aren't there. I've seen that so much, it's like a nervous tic, it's hard not to do yourself -- there goes one. No, wait, another false alarm...

I'm not for him -- I've mentioned that before -- but I hope John McCain doesn't have any trouble with being so old. And that people will give him a break, until he does or says something completely nuts. I'll recognize it when it happens.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Ways John McCain Can Fight Back

—Mention that in creationism's young earth theory dirt really isn't that old.

—Manage comparisons by exhuming Strom Thurmond's body and keeping it next to him.

—When the subject of Social Security comes up quit referring to his own benefits.

—Visit more nursing homes and ask, "Now what is this place again?"

—Stop using phrases like "Lands sakes alive," "Gee willikers," "23 skidoo," and "Obama's mother wore army boots."

—Show computer savvy by telling us, "I just expanded the RAM on my VIK-20 another 16K."

—When the story of the diapered astronaut comes up, don't ask, "What's so funny?"

—Don't use William Jennings Bryan to make a point. The earliest to go back is Coolidge.

—Refer to Cindy as "My old lady."

Thursday, June 12, 2008


I've been following some of the discussion at Daily Kos on ageism, so called, as it relates to John McCain. Not everyone is comfortable giving the most powerful office in the world to an old guy who might very well keel over at any minute.

This "ageism" is classed in the same league as sexism and racism. In other words, there is really nothing about a person's personal characteristics that should give us pause before electing him. In this case it's a "he," so that's what I'll say.

Falling down, in a heap, a physical wreck, in shambles, whatever qualities the person has, it would be OK. Because there should be no discrimination, you see, based on physical qualities. He might be nothing more than a shriveled up brain in a petri dish, but as long as we can discern sentience in there somewhere via electrodes applied to his surface, he is a fit candidate for president.

It is the same old story, political correctness run amok. Sexism would be wrong because gender's a quality of people from 0 to 100, and the same with racism, your race in itself is nothing problematic. But truly age can determine several things, depending on the person. Clarity of thought -- and, since I myself am fairly old, I can't think of the others. He's not running for chairman of the Walmart greeters, or president of Phase II of Del Boca Vista, but president. You want someone who is going to be closer to the top of his game.

Age restricts people all the time. You don't see many 75 year old football players, baseball players, or boxers. The airlines don't have many 75 year old pilots. In sports, it's because you have reduced abilities to compete effectively, less stamina, and so on. In flying, it's because of public safety, would be my guess.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The McCain Doctrine - "That's Not Too Important"

We heard The McCain Doctrine today, which comes down to this phrase, "That's not too important."

If it's the possibility that the troops might come home from Iraq, and at long last the Iraq war would be over with, McCain's response is, "That's not too important." Again, let's stay there a hundred years, it's all the same to him.

We see in the McCain doctrine a twist on Alfred E. Newman's doctrine, "What, me worry?" Whatever the issue, there's nothing to it, nothing worth worrying about. Let it go.

He actually can have very simple policies with this philosophy. Education, if we wonder is our children learning? "That's not too important." And that's true, because it doesn't seem like there's much left to discover. Anything that's been discovered is already known by someone. There's no use in everyone else knowing it, too.

Health care? "That's not too important." That's also true, because no matter how good of health we're in -- or how poor -- we're all eventually going to die anyway. Do you think people a hundred years ago in Grandma Slump's day were any better off if they died in 1915 or 1920? It's all in the past, old news, irrelevant.

But surely energy and oil prices are important? "That's not too important." OK, I guess I can see his point. What's the difference? If we have gas, we'll use it. If we don't, we won't. It is very simple. We can relive McCain's childhood. Bring back the blacksmith. Everyone get a horse and buggy. It'd be kind of neat really. It'd provide lots of jobs, cleaning up after horses.

So, dear voter, do you have worries? Do you have concerns. Well, quit it! Why should you worry? Just repeat John McCain's mantra: "That's not too important." Let it go.

Either things will get better on their own or they won't. We can't do anything about it, so relax...

Sunday, June 8, 2008

John McCain's Adultery

Should I tell her? Can I tell Grandma Slump about John McCain? That's he's done it for reasons other than procreation? That he's done it by dallying around by several women not his wife? That he did it big time while his wife was crippled up and needing support? That he's essentially a sex machine with several workers?

How can I tell her something like that? Her heart's not good, other vital organs. She loves the Republicans. They can do no wrong. She spent her golden years in the '90s decrying Bill Clinton for his terrible adultery. She seriously asked what she was going to tell the kids. And I had to comfort her, telling her the kids were each over 60, they could handle it.

She's always looked to the Republicans for the moral way. Which hasn't been all bad. For someone of her years and delicate health, her mental powers in a fetal position, it's comforting to live by a certain mythology. She's able to wake up and see the day is bright or the day is cloudy, do her cooking and cleaning chores, and get ready for bed in the evening. In there we may have the radio on for a little news, but her mind drifts off quickly if it's anything beyond the basic facts.

So she doesn't really know the basic facts about John McCain. Even though he's well known in one sense -- he's a Republican running for President -- the rest of his biography isn't clear. He's got a wife, and that's about it. But that's about all it takes for Grandma Slump to support him. Because she knows what she needs to know, that he's a moral man, that he'll protect the values we believe in, and he loves his wife.

I don't think I'm going to tell her. She'd never believe it anyway. Or maybe she would, and the reaction would be too terrible to contemplate. She's been to heaven several times. She's seen the light. She's failed. She might die for the last time. Then where would I be? I suppose I would inherit the property, the half acre. And maybe I could persuade another woman to come in. If I only knew how to meet them. Maybe we could get rid of Grandma's old lumpy mattress and get a new one, then who knows what might happen-- Wait a second! I'm not John McCain! And I can't afford a new mattress--

But I've got the goods on the old guy, that's for sure, if I could only use it. It's all right here, how John McCain came back from Vietnam, found his first wife crippled up from an accident, started an affair with Cindy, and several months later got a divorce and married her. Those who knew him at that time say he was running around, womanizing, spilling his seed on living creatures and some that weren't, knotholes in trees, he didn't care. An adulterer, the exact reason why Grandma never liked Clinton! And here he is a Republican, good enough to be President after everything they said about Clinton. Grandma doesn't deserve this!

No, I shall let her rest. Let her drift off her way to sleep, perchance to dream, to dream of heaven and Grandpa. Up there building rabbit traps or carp fishing. She's lived a good long life, now well beyond the usual span, and this isn't really anything worth dying for.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Me and Grandma Slump

Her bust is flat, she's got no rouge,
Standin' by the range,
I feel I'm nearly starvin' for some beans.
Grandma stirs, the lid's back down,
Nothin' very strange,
No meal's fixed till she boils us up some greens.

I took my napkin out of my dirty flapped pajamas,
I was wipin' forks while Grandma set my plate,
Grandma said it's eatin' time, 'n she took her chair and I took mine
And we ate everything that Grandma made.
We washed it down with tea and lemonade.

Grandma's just another word for my own private cook,
And nothin', she gets nothin' 'cause it's free,
Eatin' good is easy, Lord, she doesn't need a book.
And what she cooks is good enough for me,
Good enough if I feel the need to eat.

In the morning she's out of bed, and at evening she's not done,
Yeah, Grandma keeps a pace I can't control,
Checkin' traps and cleanin' fish, in moonlight or by sun,
She cuts our wood and keeps me from the cold.
But somewhere in the forest, Lord, I guessed she slipped away,
She's lookin' for our home, and I hope she finds it.
'Cause I'm hungry and need a woman, and Grandma will have to do,
To be holdin' Grandma's cookin' to my lips...

Grandma's just another word for my own private cook,
And nothin', she gets nothin,' I said it's free,
Eatin' good is easy, Lord, she doesn't need a book.
And what she cooks is good enough for me,
Good enough if I feel the need to eat.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Kos and McCain's Teeth

The Daily Kos cruelly opined today on John McCain's teeth, saying that they were not all they should be. But I'm looking at the same picture as you, and I'm saying those are fine looking choppers -- at least the upper plate looks great.

The thing about teeth is this: Mine aren't the greatest either. I think I chewed too many licorice sticks, then all the chain smoking, and chewing tobacco, then no flossing, no brushing, no cleaning. I've seriously got plaque a quarter inch deep, in the shallow spots. Like a feather mattress. Like foam rubber. They call me mush mouth. I need the depth finder off my boat to even know my teeth are still there.

But I've got a real good excuse -- bad teeth run in the Slump family. Grandpa Slump spent more time picking his teeth after dinner than it took him to eat. I had a cousin who bit my arm -- they got him off with a baseball bat -- and he didn't leave a mark. Even our dog had bad teeth. We had a sign out front that said, "Please don't hurt the dog."

Grandma's teeth were the exception. Her teeth weren't that bad through the years. But then with old age and everything else going to pot, her gums started bleeding and her teeth eventually crumbled away. She spat out a few, and she even swallowed a couple in her sleep. We checked the outhouse but never saw them again.

Teeth are funny things, really. It's odd. You get that first set, which grow in your mouth at nature's instigation. Then they all fall out. Then nature gives you a couple "permanent" plates. And these you're expected to take care of, as I'm now given to understand.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Change She Can Believe In

Grandma Slump wants change she can believe in. Or maybe not.

Meaning, she wants that nice man, John McCain, to be president. And if he thinks he believes it, then she thinks she believes it, too. My own suspicion, and I'm hoping she doesn't read this, is that he reminds her something of Grandpa, and she might be reliving her procreation years. As soon as his speech started -- this is a fact -- she excused herself and went to bed. So, you tell me...

But had she actually stayed up and watched the speech, she would've seen a rouser. McCain was at his strongest, most compelling. And while I didn't see the crowd, I know it had to have been quite a few. I heard one of the network commentators, though, saying that 30 of them were staff members, 20 were family, five were recruited off the street, and 10 were from FEMA, there to take care of any damage McCain might do to himself.

Myself, of course I'm not a McCain man. I'm a part of this family, you see, and like Grandma, I also remember Grandpa. Grandpa Slump was a hard man to love. Very curt, abrasive. He'd never give you your due, you know what I mean? If you caught a fish, it was never big enough. He was more focused on his own projects, big ideas, he thought, like making wren houses for craft sales that unfortunately very few people wanted. I always thought, sure, wrens were a big deal in 1895, but this is 1975 (which it was). So when he died in '78, we had about 400 wren houses to get rid of. They make excellent kindling for the fireplace, if you smash each one with a sledge hammer first.

Anyway, Grandma Slump has better memories about Grandpa than I. And she also carries over some of those feelings -- I'm sure of it -- for John McCain. He represents change she can believe in. Knowing her as I do, the change she believes in is "no more change, please." Just keep things going like they have been going and she'd be happy. Like that nice Mr. Bush. Do what he did.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

McCain Advisor Gives Softy Grandma Slump Ideas

When you rule a family, rule the roost, you need to do what's best for your family. And you need to exercise your authority in such a way that the family will prosper and be happy. Grandma Slump has always been a benevolent matriarch, often times getting her way with us and we didn't even know what happened!

You might not be hungry, but Grandma puts a plate of pancakes out there and says in her gentle, pleading voice, "You need to eat." Not like Grandpa, who we barely mention, who was a man of few words and great strictness, who simply said, "Eat!" Grandma might have been a trained psychologist for all I know, spending years before she had sex (and thereby children) working in university or government laboratories, doing top-secret experiments and studies on lab rats. Come to think of it, she got me a guinea pig on my first birthday, and he already looked fairly old.

She had the touch, the knack, to put her foot down, yet always in a way that made you want to hop-to, kowtow, and submit. I never really liked apricots and prunes, speaking of food, but Grandma Slump always had a way of making them seem edible. And she was sweet, after you cried a while, then choked them down, saying with her tender cooing voice, "There, there," and, of course, "Now come give Grandma sugar."

Pardon me my memories. I'm going way back on some of this stuff. I guess she really had it going in those days. Now Grandpa's gone, the lab's cleaned out, no more sex, to speak of. In fact, I'm glancing over at the couch now, and with her slumped posture, the blank stare, and the occasional swiping of the air, you'd hardly think she had much vigor left. Ah, these are her golden years.

Of course none of that is to say she doesn't have her days. I tried to wrestle a spoon away from her the other day, and she about broke my wrist. Then a quick release, the fingers going suddenly limp, and it was forgotten. And she can be bossy -- and not always in her sweet way, although usually the sweetness still makes a quick return.

I read some of the news to her today -- and I'm thinking maybe it's giving her ideas. All that business about her being the matriarch -- she's still got it in there somewhere!

The thing I'm speaking of is this adviser to John McCain, Michael Goldfarb. He's just been named the Deputy Communications Director of the McCain campaign. But last April, he shared in a conference call with former Senator George Mitchell, in which Mitchell advocated a timetable for withdrawing from Iraq.

Goldfarb wrote later that he thinks the President possesses "near dictatorial power." Here's his statement: "Congress is a coequal branch of government...the framers did not want to have one branch in charge of the government. True enough, but they sought an energetic executive with near dictatorial power in pursuing foreign policy and war. So no, the Constitution does not put Congress on an equal footing with the executive in matters of national security." (my bold).

Hasn't this country suffered enough under George W. Bush? Do we really want another president who has an inflated sense of his powers, to the extreme point of being a dictator over us? That's what Bush said, too, that he wouldn't mind a dictatorship if he were the dictator! And he went on to act like that was no joke. The unitary executive. If the president does it it's constitutional. It's not torture if he does it.

John McCain is simply a man we cannot trust to lead America. He must be defeated. The best thing to happen would be for no one in the entire country to vote for John McCain. Then when he gets only one vote (his own), and demands a recount, it will be very easy to do. We'll recount the votes five or six times just for good measure. You got one, buddy!

As for Grandma Slump, I'm going to have to watch what I read to her. She likes McCain so much. Like I said one other day, she respects her elders. And if McCain does it or says it, she just might try it herself. She is our matriarch and she's aware that that means something. But at the last family reunion we decided that there needs to be close limits to matriarchal power, such as she always gets the first piece of a cake and she breaks the champagne bottle on any ships the family might purchase.

But if John McCain gets a big head, and starts pulling down the thick purple drapes, and wraps them around himself, then grabs a gold lampshade and puts it on his head, wielding a broomstick as a scepter, the next thing I know, Grandma will need to try it.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Exercise Huff Huff

I saw a saying at someone's blog the other day, and I didn't exactly read it, but I think it said, "80% of it is just showing up."

I've been giving that some thought. It comes across to me as true to a certain extent. Like school, work, relationships. Being there is -- I was going to say half the battle -- 80% of the battle. We can quibble about the exact percentages. If you're there, that's key.

I'm applying it to exercise -- which may have been the original context, who knows.

So I have a membership at the fitness club, but I don't make it as often as I should. Common story. But I have something coming up, and I need my legs to be able to carry me 3 miles or more along a road.

So tonight I did my 80%...I showed up. I went to the elliptical and set it for 40 minutes, which is 25 minutes more than usual. And went at it. When I'm going 15 minutes, AND I'm in the mood, I'll try to get a mile in the first 8 minutes. You have to go like crazy to do that. And the first minute is an easier minute. With some diligence I can get .2 miles fairly easily in the first minute. Then I try to keep track of what I need to ... just make it (or make it comfortably) ... 8 minutes.

But tonight I didn't think of that till I was too far along. Since I was thinking to pace myself for 40 minutes. But then it occurred to me that I ought to aim at a mile every 10 minutes. That way I'd get 4 miles. And so forth.

So there I go. And I did it, made it. With the 5 minutes cool down included I actually got 4.51 miles in all, but I was going like crazy the last 50 seconds to try and press it up over 4.5, since I was so close.

Now my legs feel weak, tired, protesting somewhat.

If I can do that everyday -- I go for big goals -- things ought to be great!

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Dripping Femininity

I've needed to buy some cards lately. Sending cards, giving cards is not something I do by nature. It's only when there's a certain amount of force involved, social expectations that cannot be thwarted without losing massive amounts of face, that I think, 'Better get a card.' Graduation is a huge example.

Anniversaries are like that, too. I used to make my own. Mr. Creative, all that. Or Mr. Cheap. But now I grin and bear it, if I'm somewhere that has cards, just get one. They're very expensive, too, for some little piece of tripe, usually. My last anniversary card actually had a very good saying on it, that wasn't too over-the-top, and wasn't "funny" in that kind of unfunny way they tend to be.

So I've been to the local Hallmark store a couple times in the last few weeks. This is a place that is also a gift shop with all the kind of stuff you might expect in there. I should've made a list. It would be quite a list of stuff, most of it very grating on my optical nerves, and certainly most of it far from tempting. And I have the consumerism bug like everyone, worse.

You wouldn't call it a feminist place, probably, if you use words the way I do, how I've heard them used over the years. But of course it's all very feminine. Dripping with femininity. They need a scanner right there about waist-high at the door, scanning for testicles, and if it goes off a big wall of bars comes down. Except, I guess, they're not wanting it to be a ladies' club, because they want guys to come in and get something for their wives and grandmothers. No guys are working there.

I could take Grandma Slump in there. But she's kind of an old fashioned gal. I don't know that she wants to collect some of the knick knacks they have, little lighted up village buildings, every kind of trite religious keepsake you can think of, sayings about grandchildren being the light of your life, etc., ad blasé infinitum. All very adorable and precious. Grandma Slump cans, peels potatoes, washes out tubs, baits hooks, picks dandelion greens, and digs outhouse holes. And that's just for fun.

Anyway, to sum up, the Hallmark store is like diabetes in the eyes, when you look at that stuff. Very, very tough to endure.