Monday, September 29, 2008

Star Wars: Killing A Fly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 20, 2008

A Little Panicked

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

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

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

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sentimentality At The Grave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Local Man Votes Democratic

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 15, 2008

I Had An Idea

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The Local Man Supports The Team

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 12, 2008

More About 9/11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Local Man Thinks of 9/11

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Local Man on a Tirade

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

The Local Man Shops Locally

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, September 8, 2008

Let's Hear It For The Local Man

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, September 7, 2008

What Makes a Maverick?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday, September 6, 2008

The Last Piece of Candy

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, September 5, 2008

National Grandparents Day

National Grandparents Day is this Sunday, Sept. 7!

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

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

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

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Roberta McCain

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

102-Year-Old Grandma Voting for Obama

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

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

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

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

ME: What do you think of Sarah Palin?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ME: (laughing) I don't either!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ME: Great!

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

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

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

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

HER: Probably my last time, you never know

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

HER: I hope not! (laughing)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

A Great Pick Up Line

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

Monday, September 1, 2008

Buckets of Urine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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