Thursday, November 26, 2020

Bad News, Good News

The bad news is that we’re having a big Thanksgiving bash. The good news is that nobody is invited. In accordance with Dr. Fauci’s guidelines I thought this would be the perfect year to have my fantasy holiday party; only people already dead will be there.

Carl Sagan was briefed at the door over our low regard for science and decided to opt for life in one of those other galaxies.

James Madison was in distress over what we’ve done to his Constitution. He and his fellow plantation owners will only eat white meat. Tommy Jefferson is seated between Frederick Douglass and James Baldwin getting a lesson on the soul of America.

Fred Ebb (from Kander & Ebb) is composing, Come to the Cabernet, My Friend. Dorothy Parker says, I’d rather have a bottle in front of me than a frontal lobotomy. Mark Twain has stopped smoking cigars for the third time today. When told how books were written on the dangers of tobacco he says he never reads health books because one can die of a misprint.

Molly Ivins says if George Dubya Bush was a shrub then Donald Trump is a stump. Winston Churchill arrives, uninvited, when he hears about the soft-underbelly of Turkey.

Homer and Virgil are having a food-fight over the Iliad and Aeneid. Homer accuses Virgil of ripping off his epic work. The Roman admits he’s always had it in for the Greeks since he heard Cleopatra was in bed with laryngitis.

Freud arrived declaring that he never travels without his couch. He is upset when Sinatra starts to sing, You Make Me Feel So Jung.

Here comes Spencer Tracy showing off his red hair which no one ever saw on the big screen. I have to include him because he always reminds me of my father….even though  my mother could never be mistaken for Katharine Hepburn.

John Keats and W.B. Yeats are over there in the corner trying to get their names to rhyme. In the other corner Einstein is talking to the Barber of Seville about, at least, a trim. Descartes is quibbling with him over MC cubed instead of squared. When offered a glass of champagne he says, I think not, and disappears.

Socrates declines a swig of Merlot remembering the last time he had a drink. Euripides is conferring with Shakespeare whether or not to be or have been

Lincoln wants me to check if the current president ever slept in his bedroom. I assured him Biden will have the sheets changed since Donald probably donated them to the KKK.

Sylvia Plath was late to the party having spent some time in the oven with the big bird.

I almost forgot to mention that Antonin Scalia crashed the party. He was arguing with everyone citing Hammurabi's Code and a list of proclamations from the Oracle of Delphi. When he got up to scream at the assembled, Rosa Parks took his seat.

Now we shall sit alone mumbling our gratitude how we’ve made it so far and get down to some serious gluttony and sloth.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Ankle Talk

First, my back, then the knee, now the ankle. Is this the thousand cuts I’ve so much about? Up until this morning I couldn’t even strut and fret upon this stage. Of course, I’m still with some sound and fury and, as always, it signifies nothing.

I’ve never much given quality time to my ankle. And when I have it’s always been my left one which I broke playing basketball in one of my highlight moments. Now my right one is clamoring for equal time.

In fairness it isn’t really the ankle itself, just surrounding tissue for which I have no name; that mass of soft matter resistant to x-rays.

Thursday I was in a wheelchair at the doctor’s office. The visit was for blood work, physical therapy and radiology. The P.T. was out of the question. However, the lab work revealed an alarming increase in two markers which my rheumatologist has been tracking. One went up from 8 to 84 and the other from 6 to 160.

The phone call came from the doctor who immediately bumped up my dosage on Prednisone. Voila, I am now ambulatory again. I’d kiss my ankle if I could. It will have to settle for the same undemonstrative love to which my elbow has grown accustomed.

The older we get the more familiar we become with long-neglected body parts. It may be time to show some love to my metatarsals, my phalanges and to my spleen. I’ve got only one of those and the last I checked Costco doesn’t carry any. If they did I’d probably have to buy six and look for matches.

A friend suggested a brace but I don’t want to create a scarcity. I expect the entire Trump family will soon be wearing ankle bracelets. Maybe I could borrow one from previously indicted Trump racketeers who expect a pardon any day now.

This afternoon I went to throw out the garbage, both recyclable and otherwise. My plan was to put the 2 bags in the car and drive around the corner. However my key-clicker didn't open the car door so I had to do it manually. Then I couldn't open the back door so I put the 2 bags on the front seat........then I couldn't get the car started because the battery was dead. So I took the bags out and decided I'd try to use Peggy's walker to take one bag at a time on the walker..........but the bag dropped and broke open. I was picking up shrimp tails and banana peels off the sidewalk when a neighbor came along and rescued me from my distress. She took both bags and here I am. Now I must call roadside service to charge my battery. It seems that I left one door ajar and that must have drained the battery. And that's my story.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

The Campaign of '43

Reminds me of that bitter election in the 4th grade when I ran for President against the class bully, Donald Smathers. It was a grueling campaign as I remember it. There were unfounded reports that the teacher favored me in spelling bees lobbing softballs my way. I wouldn’t call upholstery or genuine easy words.

But rumors took hold when my opponent started a whispering campaign. It didn’t help my chances when he wrote on the blackboard, before the teacher came in, that I wet my pants. He’d been saying that since Kindergarten when he tipped over the milk carton onto my knickers. I think he’d had it in for me ever since he knocked down my blocks and I reported him.  He branded me a tattle-tale, teacher’s pet, bed-wetter.

Donald no longer ran with scissors but he did throw spitballs and didn’t play well with others. That was a minor matter compared to the money he stole when he was milk monitor in the 2nd grade. He blamed it on a hole in his pant’s pocket.

He had his group of trouble-makers come up with signs saying, I’d Rather Have Smathers. My constituency was a coalition of kids I knew, kids I wish I knew and a few who I barely knew but couldn't stand Smathers.

He had won in 3rd grade when he carried the most rows even though more votes went to Ursula Sherashevsky. There were five rows each with six boys or girls. Ursula won the first and fifth but Donald took the middle three. This time we were redistributed and I managed to eke out a win in three rows as well as the majority of votes.  

Then the trouble began. The war was raging across both oceans. Refugees were coming into our class. Donald targeted them for ridicule when they spoke with a slight accent.  All classes were urged to buy saving stamps to fill up a book worth $18.75 which would buy a $25 war bond, payable in ten years.* Our class was in competition with the fifth grade over the most bonds.

When he lost the election, Donald went into a tantrum shouting that he should be president for all time. He always boasted that his family was richer than the rest of us. Now he threatened not to buy any war bonds. Those of us who spent our allowance for the war effort were called Suckers. For this Mr. and Mrs. Smathers were summoned to meet with the teacher. They never showed up but sent a note defending their son. That was the last we ever saw of Donald.

Standing outside the room in the corridor waiting for the raised hands I knew then politics was not my meat. I would have to settle for an illustrious career as a shortstop or soda jerk or shaman.

(Part of this is true. It may not have happened to me but it must have happened to somebody.)

* Those war bonds raised 187 billion dollars during the war years.

Friday, October 30, 2020


In my dotage I’m thinking fondly of euphemisms. There was something endearing about saying, Shoot, I just bit my tongue or Darn that freakin' neighbor.

Fig leaves fall as they must on their way to language Heck.  By Golly isn’t that where people go who don’t believe in Gosh?

Holy Moly, I suspect all the gods can handle being taken in vain every now and then from Jumping Jehoshaphat to Geez to Gad Zooks.

Having now endured four years of Donald, Dad Rat It, we can begin to assess the wreckage. With his eight-year old vocabulary he has debased the language to my dang ears like no public official before him.

If you can fake authenticity all the rest is a piece of cake. Movies have an obligatory vomit scene as if that confers a note of edgy reality. Trump has tapped into what he calls locker-room talk which allows for racist and misogynist slang. Grab her by her pussy, says the man who sits where Lincoln and the two Roosevelts sat.

He tells the American people that certain countries are shit holes. In a speech recently he described China as Mother fuckers. If someone at a rally looks suspicious, he yellsthrow the sonofabitch out. I suppose this plays well in a crowd of maskless morons ready to gulp his Corona-spiced Kool-Aid.

He utters lies but they are naked lies. Is trash-talk any more truthful than decent speech? At least athletes’ chatter comes out of raw emotions. Trump's words are calculated. The real-estate mogul is slumming among those he would otherwise describe as losers and suckers.

My ears are burning, my mind is tortured. We must remove this man-child from office, lickity-split.

If you know any Trump voters remind them that Election Day was moved to Wednesday.


Friday, October 23, 2020


Did I ever tell you about the time I……….

Yes, Grandpa you did, many times.


Well, I was seven years old during the campaign of 1940. I remember the beanie cap I wore covered with FDR buttons. Henry Wallace was his running mate and Wendell Willkie, the bad guy.

Roosevelt was not only my hero; he was God incarnate. He spoke with patrician authority as if from on high with his fireside chats. I even imagined the fire.

Of course, Willkie turned out to be one of the best bad guys in political history. He and Roosevelt were on the same page in so far as recognizing the threat posed by Hitler and the Nazi war machine. The isolationist Republicans disowned him as he got trounced 449-82 in the electoral vote of 1940.

After the election FDR asked him to serve as a roving ambassador and he traveled abroad pleading the internationalist cause. In his book, One World, he not only advocated for a world order but also denounced Colonialism. Sadly, he died before the war was over.

Willkie deserved a special place he was never accorded on my beanie. Of course, my beanie is long gone but I do have a political button collection going back to Abraham Lincoln. Skip a few decades and I see Grover Cleveland’s face on one along with his running mate and there are William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson and I even have a Roosevelt/Cox button from his unsuccessful bid in 1920.  

George McGovern must have put all his meager resources into buttons. I have about forty of them. By the time Clinton ran, buttons started getting larger. An Obama button is ten times the size of some of FDR’s. I have one button showing the faces of nineteen ex-Presidents. 

Maybe that was a sign of their demise. I don’t see buttons anymore. Instead they’ve been replaced first by bumper stickers, then T-shirts and lawn signs and now by red caps and unmasked faces. We are walking billboards.

No button is large enough to contain Trump’s egomania. The only button needed for the first Presidential debate was the one Trump should have had on his lip. His behavior was so maniacal it called for a muzzle or mute button in last night’s debate though I don’t think it was used. In spite of his rambling bluster he did a fine impersonation of a grown-up.

I wonder if he has a Russian-American dictionary in his desk along with a one-way ticket to Moscow. The thought of his finger on the button to launch the nukes for another term is a prospect devoutly to be dreaded.



Wednesday, October 21, 2020


Will the person who climbed through the window and stole my glasses please return them? No need for forced entry; just drop them off at the front door. No questions asked.

All right, forget all that. I’ll take the rap. I haven’t been out for three days so it’s got to be here somewhere. The truth is I don’t wear them much. They are bifocals and I can read better without them except for tiny subtitles and when I’m driving.

It’s understandable that the glasses might be upset. The last time I drove (I can’t remember when) I sprayed on some shaving cream to prevent them from fogging up. After wiping, the film is supposed to prevent the haze from wearing a mask.  

Or maybe they’re upset because Peggy has about seven reading glasses from the Ninety-Nine Cent Store scattered around the house and they don’t want to be associated with low-life cousins. It could be they escaped like some of my socks. I could swear a few of them made their way across the street and showed up in yard sales.

Looking for anything always turns up something else. So far, I’ve discovered a small flashlight behind my night stand and a set of car keys from a Honda I owned eleven years ago. Usually I find my credit card when I’m looking for my checkbook. Of course, my cell phone knows how to ding when call it.

Listen to me, glasses, if you're out there, it's true I've never cared for you much. I was always afraid someone would mistake me for an intellectual. And then what? So maybe this is payback. You're hiding because of my constant vacillation. One day I'm seeing through rose colored lenses and the next through a glass darkly. I can't help myself. Call it existential dread.

Could it be you are hiding to teach me a lesson? If you think I'll go blind and suddenly play the piano, forget about it.  Nor will I become a seer even with the beginning of macular degeneration. There's a long tradition in literature to assign inner vision to the blind. I have no wish to become either Tiresias or Homer. However I have gained a bit of insight in this grand search.

I have discovered a most profound philosophical concept. Are you ready? Namely, drumbeat……… that Everything is Somewhere. The converse is also true: Nothing is Nowhere. This is the kind of wisdom that is hard-earned after losing something every couple of weeks over the past 87 years.  

Now I’ve taken to imaging. I can picture my glasses all spread out behind or under something. They’re just lying there with their astigmatic correction maybe missing my nose or my ears. Who knows what emotional attachments they’ve made?

I can’t take this much longer. It’s one thing to lose my glasses but another thing to be numbered among those known as Losers. Trump has got my number. Not only a Loser but maybe a Sucker also. If I find them will I suddenly become a Winner?

Ah-ha, I got up this morning and spotted them looking forlorn on the floor around my computer. I forgive them for their wanton ways. In the words of Donald, I take all of the credit and none of the blame.


Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Untied States of America

 America is a sandwich with artisanal squiggly breads of rocky shores on either side and rigid perpendiculars of Dakotas in the middle.

The Blue coastal states are a bluesy sax blowing grievances and joy as if those islands in the Pacific Northwest were new ideas bubbling overhead in a comic strip and the Florida Keys, a work in progress. Maybe someone took a bite and these were the indigestible chunks.

California is a baguette and Oregon an Everything Bagel while Puget Sound is the piece of an argument that resists containment, giggling and probing into some vivid unseen.

Jersey is seeded rye. The Carolinas ready to burst and Georgia has a blue moon rising. Maine is mainly independent indigo and from Massachusetts to New York harbor diverse as huddled masses yearning to be free.

Here are Wisconsin and Michigan which obey no ruler, shaped by the deep blue lakes and Pennsylvania is stretched out in blue-collar blue under an azure sky.

The swampy bottom of Louisiana is shaped by a parade down South Basin Street to the St. James Infirmary. I’m seeing red going to purple or is that Texas inching out of the red from the Rio Grande northbound.

In the mayonnaise middle is Oklahoma, long as their buried Trail of Cherokee Tears. Alabama, the Crimson Tide. Mississippi, red from Strange Fruit that hung from their trees. Arkansas red as rednecks.

And what does West Virginia think it is doing sprawled out in public with Kentucky blushing red as a MAGA cap while Illinois is belly-laughing into Missouri?

Kansas and Nebraska, lined up like Boy Scouts busy behaving themselves at the hundredth meridian. There’s Utah and Wyoming, straight as the page of Donald’s tax return, caught red-handed. Iowa is straight as a cereal box.

Arizona, home of well-fixed retirees used to be red as John Phillip Souza’s um-pa-pa marching in file on their fixed border but now there is a purple dawn rising.

We are a color chart turning from red herrings to blue remembered hills. From rectilinear slabs of red meat to plates of quinoa and kale. Not yet united but, at least, untied.