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. 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.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Our Assault on the Chinese

Our assault on the Chinese continues unabated.

If we could liberate the people of Chinese, we would do it in a heartbeat. But it's not an easy task.

The truth is we don't know what to do. So we're more or less floundering without a plan.

My main thought is some kind of cultural intrusion, to dilute their culture with western influences.

We're going to need the help of Hollywood to put a Chinese translation on their worst movies.

We're calling on various cable networks who are known for emitting pollution -- some of the religious broadcasters, shopping channels, and, of course, Fox News, to help in this effort. Give away your services toward bringing China down.

I'm looking for a highly placed official to serve on a blue ribbon panel on infiltration.

Friday, August 15, 2008

China -- A Nation of Fools

We have been less than impressed with China during the Olympics, to say the least. It has led us to one unmistakable, certain conclusion, that China is simply a nation of fools.

Obviously they have what it takes to get things done, if you don't mind being an automaton subservient to a slave-driving government.

The scandals in the Olympics have given them a black eye, for sure. Some of it was done for simple theatrics, some was out and out cheating. They're definitely control freaks.

Do they think they're doing themselves any favors as to how the international community sees them? Who precisely do they think they're fooling? It's been disgusting.

Maybe China "had it goin' on" at various times in their history. Like when they discovered Chinese food. But it's all been downhill ever since.

They have a nitwit leader named Mao. As far as we can tell he does little but pose for pictures -- and not 8 x 10's either, more like humongous posters the size of a double decker bus. By the way, look at that disgusting, honking wart on his chin!

We hope it's a good long while before we have to hear about China or think about China again. We have a request submitted to the Olympics committee that if China ever makes an application to host the Olympics again that they "conveniently" lose the paperwork.

The Chinese have many sins to answer for, not the least of which is the terrible pollution in their cities. And of course their Communist government sucks royally.

Let us bid a final farewell to the Chinese. Don't call, don't write, don't drop by. If you ever dig a hole in your yard don't come this far. We think you are terrible -- a veritable nation of fools -- you disgust us -- we never want to hear about you again -- you should be ashamed -- you're liars and cheaters -- your people are idiots for submitting to your Communist government -- Mao is a certifiable twit -- your fireworks are very dangerous to children -- your food has intolerable levels of MSG -- you're chronic sufferers of the China syndrome -- a bull in a China shop would be doing us all a favor -- your restaurants are cheapskates in that you can't take home food that you paid for -- Confucius was a fluke; it just so happened that one guy in your whole stinking land managed to have all his chromosomes.

In all seriousness, I am one man, just one man. My life has been pretty good but to tell the truth I've always been kind of at loose ends, drifting, without much real purpose. But all that comes to an end, starting now. From now on, I -- this one man -- bravely, courageously, and triumphantly will lead a quest, a charge, to expose, defeat, and ultimately destroy the nation of China!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Brother Sheridan's Big Bag of Heavy Metal CDs

There's a reason why maniacal laughter has to be cut off at its climax, which was well illustrated in the Austin Powers movies. Because in the denouement of maniacal laughter, or maniacal behavior in general, its absurdity is quickly exposed. And one is left with the uncomfortable question of where to go from there.

The same principle is operative in very rousing revival meetings. I've been to a few, but not very many where you left with that feeling that the Spirit has abandoned you. Which would be the maniac's sense if he weren't in perpetual mania (I'll cite Saul in the Hebrew scriptures). When that denouement hits, the letdown, as it does, it's like a spiritual hangover.

You see it when someone you know "gets religion" and tries to get rid of all their sinful possessions. I've had friends over the years, particularly in record collecting, who suddenly, mysteriously, get the sense that their records are sinful and they need to get rid of everything. The cases I know of personally ended in regret.

I went to a meeting one time of a guy I will call Brother Sheridan. He had a big stack of heavy metal CDs, and now that he'd come back to the Lord, of course these were to be dealt with harshly. So he put them in a large black plastic garbage bag, threw the bag in the church aisle and was stomping on them, while carrying on in a loud kind of way.

At that time I was thinking, "I wonder if he'd mind if I asked him for those CDs after the meeting, and maybe sell them on eBay." But I didn't go through with it. He was young and very righteous, and would have been disappointed that I hadn't gotten the point.

Why do I say all this? Because I burnt my brand new Jonas Brothers CD last night, and I'm so ashamed of myself. Not only was it $15 down the drain, I didn't really have a good reason for my petulance. The offending survey surely had nothing to do with the Jonas Brothers themselves. They aren't against people who are over 35. And even if they might be, they certainly haven't shown it. Plus, there's nothing automatically insulting about saying "35+," for the simple fact that they're not expecting a lot of old-timers to be buying a CD marketed to teenagers. Duh.

But it took the light of day for me to see the facts in a clear way. That's what daylight does; it takes away the devils of the night that compel us to do weird things. I guess I was under the influence last night, much like Brother Sheridan. I was all up in the Jonas Brothers' face -- with the real problem being inside me. To think that by constructing a small bonfire and torching their CD would expel my own darkness is silly.

I will confess there have been other times when I've done this. Once in the '70s I burnt all my Tom Jones' albums when I thought I heard he was throwing his underwear at people in the audience. I thought, that's no good, he should know better than to do something so disgusting. Then after the albums were ashes in my yard I heard the truth, that women in the audience were throwing their underwear at him. I wrote him a very contrite note of apology, and, because now I knew he liked women's underwear, I enclosed a pair of Grandma Slump's bloomers that I "borrowed" off the clothesline.

So now what will I do, now that I have reconciled myself that there was no slight toward old people on the part of the Jonas Brothers? Would they like a pair of bloomers? Probably not. No. I will just say here and now how sorry I am, and maybe I will buy another copy of their CD when my disability check gets here (I have a game toe).

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The Jonas Brothers Are So Yesterday!

I'm starting to feel like John McCain must feel, old and out of it.

Just yesterday I was in the grip of Jonasmania and today I barely care. I can't stand them now. I'm very bitter. All because I went to their stupid website -- from a link on the CD -- and there was a survey, "How Old Are You?" And it only went up to "35+"! What's that tell you? If you're over 40 or 50 or 100, your egg money's no good, the pennies you saved, the cans you cashed in to collect nickles to buy their CD's no good. Unwelcome, unwanted!

Yes, it seems that if you're a disabled old man like me (I've got a game toe) you're thrown on the dump heap, relegated to an insulting catch-all category that only has infinity as its natural end. And pity poor Grandma, at 104, don't even talk about her! According to the Jonas Brothers, she's so far out of it there's no hope! There's no welcome mat for the aged, infirm, and disabled at the Jonas household! They'll bump and giggle at you. Boys, don't never, but never, make fun of no cripples. They have no regard for us, our civil rights.

I like to think of numbers sometimes. I remember in school I had a teacher who was always saying numbers are endless. Why? Because you can always add one to a number and have a higher number! I suppose that's logical, but I'm not fully yielding to it, because it's conceivable that if you got up there to one of the very largest numbers, somewhere at the edge of infinity, that you might find one that resisted that tiny bit of addition. Call it The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back Theory. I'd love to prove that teacher wrong. He or she was so mindnumbingly stupid, it was pathetic.

Be all that as it may, I didn't know existence in the world of rock 'n' roll could be so harsh. I've always heard you're as young as you feel, that -- I'm sure there's other young/old cliches like that, but they're not coming to me. But I've just never been one to crawl into the oldies rut, even though I have lots of old records. It's not like the '50s, '60s or '70s somehow defined everything and now we should only stagnate in that swamp.

It is true I have no inclination to put "kissable posters" of teenage stars on my wall, pin-ups of Hannah Montana, love beads or whatever else they're selling. I have definitely moved on from that. The last serious temptation I had with that was with Tony DeFranco, who now sells real estate in Los Angeles, according to Wikipedia. He's also in the 35+ range now, practically 50. Probably time to take the posters down, if there's any other remaining fans out there.

In my review of the Jonas album yesterday, I mentioned The Monkees. I know that's dangerous territory in reviewing current albums. It's a dead giveaway that you're old and disabled. They were big back when John McCain was wrecking planes and becoming a hero. I was thinking of my old friend, Peter Tork, the other day. Let's see, born February 13, 1942 (I thought it was 1943). These are numbers below infinity, so I can quickly subtract here, and, what do we have? He's 66 years old. (Am I really an old friend of Peter Tork? No, but I once was friends with a guy who said he was friends with him -- true. In fact, this guy I knew said he was the photographer who took the picture of Peter on the back of the Birds, Bees, and Monkees album. So, if you're out there, Ralph, yes, it's me and I haven't forgotten! We tried to call Peter on his birthday one time in the '70s -- Ralph had his number -- but nobody answered.)

There actually was a second Monkees comment I was thinking of making yesterday, which was that the talking intro and outro to "Lovebug" is real similar to a track on Pisces, Aquarius, Capricorn, and Jones, Ltd. I refrained from making that comment because I knew I would be mocked as an old Mr. Know-It-All who seems to know more obscure Monkees trivia than is healthy. But now the truth is revealed, that I am in the 35+ crowd, a group of old fogies who don't even deserve to have an age category specifically for us! To the Jonas Brothers I'm the same as Grandma Slump, 35 or 104, we're all lumped together, it doesn't matter, just die and leave the world to us! OK, that's it, I've had it with you guys!

[Let's go outside.]

Their album is pretty good, but right now I'm busy constructing a small bonfire, because this sucker's going up in flames! I'm arranging some Popsicle/craft sticks in an upright triangle, tying them at the top with some floss. Now a little newspaper wadded up and stuck in the center. I'm going to put my Miley Cyrus single track I-Tunes download in with it, first burning it on a CD, and now sticking it behind the Jonas case. (She's their friend.) Thank God this thing's a cardboard case. It'll go up real pretty, not too much smoke. Now I'm going to get a little gas from next to the lawn mower, and spritz it on. Good thing they have their umbrellas up! Wouldn't want to get gas all over your nice pretty dandy hair! Here goes a match. Oh! it went out, a little breeze tonight. My hands are sweaty, getting sweat on the matchbook, hard to get good friction. OK, here goes, second one's a charm, I'll just flip it down, and poof! A nice roaring flame. The case is starting to bend and crack. There's some color smoke from the plastic tray and the two CDs. There's actually a law against open burning, but if any smokeys come by I'll -- I don't know what I'll do. Let me get it going. Just spritz a little more gas on it -- Whoa! It flared up real big for a second, might've singed my eyebrows off there! Then I would've had a grudge against these guys. Not only disabled but disfigured. OK, it's dying down now. The CD case is ashen. I can still just see the colors on the front, with the colors distorted, washed out, and light. I'll step on it and mush it up good!

So with that we bid a fond good riddance to the Jonas Brothers and their stinking CD, although it actually was pretty good. But it's my money's that was no good! People over 35 don't even deserve their own stinking age category? Well, speaking for myself, for Grandma Slump, and, of course, John McCain, someday you'll get yours!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The New Jonas Brothers Album

Well, we've got it in our hot little hands! "A Little Bit Longer," with 13 very hot songs, and some of the sassiest vocals we've ever heard.

Of course Grandma was very concerned about the CD case, hoping it wasn't cracked. But that turned out to be a non-issue this time because it's one of those cardboard cases with the little plastic liner. And very little else. If you put it on the computer you get whatever else there is, which is a "30 Page Experience." We haven't seen it yet, but it says it features exclusive video performance and interviews, 60 printable photos, complete album lyrics, and downloadable graphics.

But a record's all about what's in the grooves! And this is a great one. Like I said, very smart, sassy vocals, definitely calculated to tug at your inner anima in her teenagiest manifestations. Example: The talking bit in "BB Good," especially where he semi-shrieks, "I want to kiss you!", followed by a wild guitar.

The instruments are very brash, clean, layered, a great experience. There's a lot to listen to beyond the surface. Everything is instantly likable, except maybe "Lovebug," which the first time through sounds like a downer. But the second time it's great charms are revealed and we love it.

"Video Girl" is the obligatory teen star's protest against shallow girls ("I'm dating a Jonas Brother!"), the spirit of it reminding me of "Star Collector" by The Monkees.

I would say this CD is good for about 20 listens. By then the tunes and lyrics will be in your head with a vengeance, probably in your dreams. It's a very nice album, but I speak the truth about the future.

Now, did I have to fight through a mob of teenage girls to get this CD? No, there weren't any around. And was Walmart prepared, that is, did they have it stocked in the racks? Yes, but I didn't get there till a little after noon, by which time it was out, and there were plenty of copies.

Olympic Lip Synching -- Cute Girl Substituted

This hardly seems right. The Chinese substituted Lin Miaoke (that's her head on top of Grandma Slump's body) for Yang Peiyi (seen on the wall).

You might remember, it was in the Opening Ceremony of the Olympics, a segment that I happened to miss. They had a patriotic song called "Hymn to the Motherland."

Well, that was Yang Peiyi singing, but because she has buck teeth, she was bumped, and Lin Miaoke lip synched to Yang Peiyi's recorded voice.

She wasn't "cute" enough. Mr. Chen, the musical director, said she was "a little too old." And had bad teeth.

Just looking at the picture, though, maybe it wasn't such a bad idea. I think Lin Miaoke's way cuter than Grandma!

"Grandma, I love your body. But the white hair, the dour expression, it's just not the ideal look I'm going for. It's been great, really it has, but I'm giving your head two weeks notice."

Monday, August 11, 2008

A Little Bit Longer? Yes, Tomorrow!

Jonas Brothers fever is raging hot, as we've been waiting for the new CD. Tomorrow is the release, and we'll be there, if I can get Grandma to the car. Or, I might leave her home and dash out and get it myself, which would no doubt be a lot easier. I just hope she doesn't stroke out, since the Lifeline battery's dead and I'm too cheap to buy a new one. Cuts into my discretionary spending, you know.

Really, this isn't like back in the day of The Beatles, when Grandma had all the extra egg money to spend on records. The chickens all died, or, as we like to say, went to roost in Heaven. So if we have to decide between frivolous lifesaving devices and music, it's not even close.

But her concern today won't be the dangers of cardiac arrest and vainly pushing an equally dead Lifeline button. It'll be rocking out to the new Jonas Brothers' album, "A Little Bit Longer."

I can hear her now, "Make sure it doesn't have a broken case!", which is also one of my pet peeves when it comes to CDs. If I have to fight and claw a mob of girls to get one, of course I'll have to take what I get. But if it's a clear shot to the whole rack, I'll make sure the case is OK. Then we'll have it, we'll listen to it, and if she dies, she'll at least die happy.

Kevin, Joe, and Nick, they really are quite cool, aren't they?!

"Just gotta B B good to me, I'm burnin' up for you, baby, I'm not about to be another victim of a video girl."

It'll be hard for us to sleep tonight, that's for sure, with visions of rock 'n' roll dancing in our heads!

The album got a great review at and in Rolling Stone. It sounds like they did a really great job with this one, and the 30 second excerpts at Amazon sound like it too!

Now we're just counting down the hours.

Except we don't know when to start counting down the hours. Like 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 ... Because it's not like we can rush out and get it at midnight. It'll truly be more around 11 a.m., because those old people in the CD department at Walmart are never in a hurry to get the new stuff out... Alas.

They're never very helpful either, to tell you the truth. They've got the boxes of new stuff setting around and if you ask them if they got such-and-such CD, they'll get out their computer lists, scratch their heads, and go, "I don't know, I never heard of that one, uhhh..." They had a retirement party for one old guy who worked back in the CD/electronic department. I bet I asked that guy five questions over the years about merchandise and he was completely clueless. I would've asked him more questions, but by then I knew better.

Anyway, I don't want to spoil our enthusiasm. The fact that these folks can never do anything right is nothing to get myself worked up over, because I already know the Lifeline's dead. So we'll start the countdown. 10 - 9 - 8 - 7 ... That's quite a title, huh? "A Little Bit Longer." It's been long enough! Lord, get us through this night!

Oh, No! It's DEVO

There's a similarity between the phrase, "I know where you go, and I know what you do there" and the lyrics of Devo's song, "Peek-a-Boo." The lyrics, in part, are:

I can see you
And I know what you do

I know what you do
Cause I do it too

Good ones, huh? This was a good album, although I don't know that it's reviewed as being excellent. It seems like one time I looked and it wasn't.

It's one we had on cassette back when cassettes were popular. And one we played a bunch of times. I always thought it was pretty good.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The National Enquirer

I'm going to have to start buying the National Enquirer to get my news. I don't remember ever buying a copy. I picked up the Weekly World News once but could hardly stand to pay $3 for it.

I was thinking about making a career writing for them, then they went out of business. Some of my great ideas I still have, which I jotted out on a shoebox lid:
  • A guy who made a big map of the United States from pork chops.
  • Train graffiti in a museum, and an art professor who diligently studies it.
  • Someone who builds their own fountain of youth (that is something Grandma Slump might actually do, perhaps next week if she lives long enough).
  • Chinese gong balls curing arthritis in the feet (which is a true life story I have).
  • Fortune telling with pizza (this isn't that ridiculous, since I can do it. For me, it's only one step up from crossing my eyes and seeing art masterpieces in terrycloth towels).
  • A man whose aura is morbidly obese, yet he is only 98 pounds.
  • A woman dies and actually takes her wealth with her.
  • A slot machine haunted by a dead gambling counselor.
  • A woman named Alma Daeus (amadeus pun) channels Mozart and renounces music.
  • Science class skeleton turns out to be the missing principal.
Some of those are pretty good ideas. But as I understand it -- which I don't -- the National Enquirer is not in the market for these sorts of stories.

As we've seen in the recent past, the last several months, they've been hot on the trail of John Edwards. Perhaps he, like I, received strange phone calls, with a muttering voice saying, "I know where you go, and I know what you do there." If so, then I'm sure he was distraught. But for him -- and this is where we differ -- the whole world cares. If they ever caught me "dead to rights" it'd be one brokenhearted 104-year-old woman crying, and a half acre's worth of field mice going on their merry way.

The National Enquirer did it. They got the news when the others were sitting around, too good for actual reporting. It's just like all this nasty business of John McCain's adultery. Someone ought to do something about that story. Maybe the Enquirer will, since they have increasing credibility. It's a sad story what he did to his ex-wife. But so far he's skating by, not a peep.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Volvo Driving Soccer Mom

I know everyone thinks I'm very addled out here on the half acre, maybe hooked on horny goat weed or something. But I'm really not. I'm actually a very demur, thoughtful guy -- who's single, happens to live with his 104-year-old grandmother, and occasionally suffers severe anima attacks.

At those times, when I'm driven out of my mind -- like by a laughing girl in a convertible with her hair blowing in the wind or chicks who are forward enough to order whiskey at soda shops -- I can't think straight. But that's what it means to be driven out of your mind; your thoughts are crazy.

Today, and usually this is true, I'm demur, as I said. Today's one of those days. I'm taking care of business. Yes, listening to a little music, which is OK. Today I was listening to Everclear and their CD with the song, "Volvo Driving Soccer Mom." It's one of those that comments on aging, changing, maturing, and wants to suggest that something essential was lost in the process. Kind of like Bowling for Soup's "1984."

But, c'mon, being gangbanged in the bathroom? That's supposed to evoke a sense of nostalgia for your lost youth? Being a Volvo-driving soccer mom would be way better than that. But there's one part in the song I can really "dig" -- hope the lingo doesn't throw you... If she's now a Republican, obviously that's no good. If there's anything ever not to be, it's a stinking Republican. (Sorry, Grandma, I'm not talking about you.)

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I'm Withholding Judgment

I'm withholding judgment till all the facts are in. OK, that's long enough. I see the resemblance.

I have spoken with John Edwards on two separate occasions. That is a true statement. Unfortunately for this article, those occasions were both in 2004 and would have no bearing on the content of this article.

Be that as it may, I am a long time fan of the phrase "love child." I used to read it in Grandma Slump's magazines all the time. Every celebrity in the '60s and early '70s had a love child, or wished they did. Some of course would be infertile, impotent, or otherwise incapable of fecundating or being fecundated. These were left with little recourse but to adopt a love child. Who all had a love child in those days? I can't remember. But those who appeared on the covers of movie magazines back then included: Elvis Presley, Tom Jones, Mia Farrow, Elizabeth Taylor, Lawrence Welk, and the Lennon Sisters. Put any two together and you've got a decent love child story.

It is a cool phrase, though -- "love child." You know, it's weird, if your parents are married and they have you, you're just an ordinary kid. But if there's something illicit about it you get a much more interesting title -- you're a "love child." I remember asking Grandma what a love child was. She always tried to put things delicately back then, and I believe she said it was "a baby that two people had."

When we were kids my cousin Roto told me "a virgin" was "a woman who f***s all the time." So I asked Grandma what a virgin was. And she told me that was "a good girl." Now of course I know that Roto had it backwards and Grandma was right. As for the definition of a love child, she left out one critical piece, that the couple is not married and has been doing what Roto thought virgins did.

Then the Supremes' "Love Child" record was a biggie around '68 or '69. But I don't really remember at the time making the connection between that and the wanton activities of virgins. Looking back it was sung from the perspective of the love child, now grown up, whose Mom and Dad probably never appeared on movie magazines.

Does John Edwards have a love child? He didn't mention it in 2004. But, could be.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Kindness to Bugs

The other day when I thought that guy was spying on me, muttering "I know where you go, and I know what you do there" in a real menacing way on the phone, I was beside myself. I was incoherent. I twitched, babbled, raved. I was literally secreting some kind of fear sweat from my pores that could only be described as black corruption. It was biblical, like Gethsemane.

But -- and there's no need to rehearse all the details -- I overcame certain aspects of my fear, and managed by the power of positive thinking to thwart the guy from calling again.

Since then, and since eating all those white things, I've felt a serenity that is otherworldly. I'm so at peace with things that I really could freelance for Guideposts. "Fairy tales could come true, it could happen to you, if you're young at heart," I might say, which doesn't really fit the context of this situation but it's still a great song.

In this state of renewal, bliss, I've decided to be kind to the creation. That means not killing where I don't have to, although if I forget I'll have to excuse myself.

A couple weeks ago we had literally millions of bugs in the lawn and I had to go over the grass with the mower. I was thinking, to the bugs I'm like a terrorist. Were they to have a news network and newspapers down in their little world, the headlines would've been six inches tall, "THOUSANDS WIPED OUT BY TERRORIST!" But it would appear that bugs don't have history, just their place in "natural history."

Still, that doesn't mean we can't be fairly kind to them, like the Ahimsa. They go around with masks so they don't accidentally breathe in a bug and thereby kill it.

In my kindness campaign toward bugs, I've picked up a few already, gently, with Kleenex, and have taken them outside for release. It's a lot cleaner than just squashing them, too. I saw a centipede or millipede, sort of like the one pictured, and I had to put something away in the other room before tending to it. Then I came back and it was gone, but I knew it couldn't have gone far. So there I am, tiptoeing around so I wouldn't step on it, but it was frustrating. It couldn't have disappeared! After a while I discovered what happened. It was up against the floorboard, in the dark, and now made a run for it. I was right on it with a Kleenex, and it escaped, then I caught it again, and got it outside for release.

But a while ago I accidentally forgot myself. Sitting at the computer I felt something small on my neck and reached back and picked it off and rubbed it between my fingers. I never saw it but it was probably an ant or something about that size.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Inevitable Comedown

I had the kind of night I knew I would have. Alternating visions of Heaven and Hell.

A victory like that last night -- involving actual sparks and flames -- has its inevitable downside.

Those in the know -- and I'm the only one on my block -- know what personal inflation is all about. It's great for a moment, to get you through the trouble, but you need something to counter it, quickly!

For me, it's the color white. A countering white agent/force that is easy to acquire, and tastes good, is white bread. We had a few slices in the breadbox. That calmed me down temporarily, took away the convulsions and gave me a few minutes' respite so I could manage a quick trip to the grocery store.

I sped through the store -- picking up a few loaves of white bread, a gallon of milk (not chocolate), cottage cheese, and shredded coconut. Starting to convulse in the car, I hastily made a cottage cheese and coconut sandwich and downed it in a couple gulps.

Getting home in record time, I got out our white serving platter, cut the crusts off and arranged the bread in a circular fashion around the edge, placed the cottage cheese in the center, and sprinkled coconut in the zone between. I poured out a big glass of milk. I systematically ate my way around the platter, starting at the top and going clockwise, then the coconut clockwise, then the cottage cheese, ending with the centermost remaining cottage cheese.

It worked. Now I'm sitting here very calmly in clean white underpants looking at a white candle. There's nothing like ritual to restore your sanity.

Monday, August 4, 2008

No Call!

Well, 10 o'clock has come and gone, and no crank call. That's good news.

And surely it's a benefit from The Power of Positive Thinking. Mental power proves itself once again to be transformative!

I doubled down on good thoughts, banishing anxiety. Mentally I arranged a scapegoat to take my fears far into the desert, laying all my griefs upon his sorry hide. I brought my hands together in the classic Praying Hands pose for a time of positive meditation. And as the witching hour of 10 o'clock neared I crossed the fingers of both hands, mentally officiating as the Holy Priest at a sacred marriage (hierosgamos) of feminine and masculine intercessors, one hand as King's X and the other as his queenly consort. Just a little technique I know that occasionally works.

As the seconds ticked down toward 10 o'clock I raced through a positive memory of every good deed I've ever done, calling in karmic favors from every spirit on the block. Helping Grandma with her bathing, helping Grandma with her meals, helping Grandma with dressing, tending her bedsores; you get the idea. Then magic words, sacred syllables of glossalalia I've heard in church. Shondola! Then I went through a list of angelic figures I happen to know from the Pseudepigrapha and Gnostic texts. I was so thorough I even included Eilo the overseer of testicles. And all the way up to Metatron himself! By now my spirit's on fire, and were I even to touch the phone it would certainly zap and render impotent and sterile anyone else on the other end. Too bad he didn't call!

I simply don't believe in being morose or leaving these matters to chance. For me, it's all a matter of rising up in righteous power and indignation. Even as I write this post, my monitor is shorting out and doing a lot of blinking. The power's easier to turn on than turn off. I'm even licking my fingers to try and neutralize some of the sparks but it only helps for a short period. But monitors and keyboards can be easily replaced. I could mow some neighbors' yards and get money to buy this stuff. Or check out the thrift stores and garage sales -- there's lots of good computer bargains to be had, if you're on the lookout. Of course if you have beaucoup bucks -- well, let me move on.

The long and short of this story is that every single one of my efforts paid off! There was no fail! And there was no call! The guy did not call! He did not dare! LOL, ha ha!

"I know where you go, and I know what you do there." [Raising two of my longer sparking fingers in his general direction] Well, here's something else for you to know, Loser, and you also know what you can do with 'em! Sit on 'it!

Please please please

I am delicately unnerved, as you can well imagine. My prayer is "Please don't call, please don't call." Let me abide unperplexed in peace, within the sanctity of my own circle and realm. I need not a minder picking up clues as to my whereabouts.

I'm Being Spied On

I'm nervous to write here anymore. But I'm going to put at least this one last thing -- call it a cry for help, or whatever. Something to document the straits I find myself in in case something happens to me. If something happens to me, be very aware of this and mark it well, there is a 104-year-old woman who could die without proper care.

The thing is, I'm being spied on, watched, apparently monitored around the clock. I haven't seen the guy and I don't know who he is. But he's out there somewhere, perhaps very close. I know because he's called me and muttered some things in the phone, then hung up. That gravelly, devious voice is etched on my memory.

It's all very devious to do, I think, especially without him stating his motive and plan and what it might take to satisfy him. At this point, I'm barely able to think straight, just being freaked out in several awesome ways. And I don't freak out easily unless circumstances are not calm. I should have just put it out of my mind. Maybe it will be a wrong number. I haven't done anything, seriously that I know of. So why am I being marked out? Is it just a big mistake on someone's part? Or have they set a dragnet, spread one to weed out the guilty from the innocent? Who can know?

The call has appeared two nights in a row, about 10 p.m., a terrible time for the phone to be ringing. I'm tremulous that it will happen again and again, a third night. Then what can I do? In a way I feel that I don't really dare do anything, except show a bright hope that I won't be singled out forever. Maybe he'll get tired of this interesting game and tell himself to quit, or move on to someone more guilty than I. I have done not anything that I know of, yet it's freakish to be accused by someone with authority who claims certain knowledge.

That's what he said, though, and that was the extent of our time. "I know where you go, and I know what you do there." What? Where? What do I do there? How does anyone know? There's nothing to know. But if he could be more specific. Does he want money? A confession? A payoff? For me to come clean? I can't come clean if the charges are clouded. There's a whole veil pulled over the whole situation. Where I go and what I do there is really nobody's business, except those who serve and those who are served. Except if someone makes it his business, which appears to be what's happening, by one with inside information.

Is there a video tape? That's the crux of my fear. If I go to the authorities and he steps forward with video tape, that would ruin me. I could be sent up for life, and marked. I could be made a laughingstock. The best course is to say nothing. And whatever evidence I can find, destroy. Let it all vanish in an instant, swallowed up and forgotten.

I have done nothing. I have no idea what any of this is about.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Missed August 1

So August 2 will have to do.

And you know what that means. I need to put on my best "behind the barn" cowboy, hillbilly auctioneer duds, cinch in my pants real tight, put on my tightest, most pigeon-toed cowboy boots, inwardly angled is what I mean, get on my best brim, put on a bolo, and saunter out to my pile of junk -- then I'll look down at it with a casual, knowing look, able to appraise, to identify both quality and value, look out over my crowd of bargain-seekers, who also mean me a lot of good will, make small talk with a few of them named Cy and Les, arrange my auctioneer microphone, dangled now around my neck, check with the old guy who's catching calls for me, and make sure everyone's got their bidding number.

"Edith's got hamburgers and baked goods over in the trailer, friends, so in case you get hungry, you know where it's at. Also look around, there's something out here for everyone today.

"We're going to start off with this nice television set. It's a good one. Worked the last time they watched it. What are we going to start off with here? Nice TV. All right, let's get it goin' right now, and what will you give me for it? Do I hear five, five, five, five? Four? Three. We got three! And now four, four, four, four. Four! Sir, we've got four. Five, five? This one's ready to go, barely been used, and it is known to have worked at one time. Four, we've got four, and now five, five, five, yup! Five, and now six? Six? Six, once, twice. Sold! Five dollars, number 262!"