Friday, December 30, 2011

Along the Timeline

This year ends; the next begins. The king is dead; long live the king. A calendar is as good a marker as any to serve the grand chronicle. In another sense, nothing ends or begins. It just keeps rolling along in every which way.

We tend to look at history longitudinally asking, and then what happened? We think in terms of stories. Nothing wrong with that except that by picking up one thread we often ignore what else happened at the same time which may have had unintended ripples.

I recently read part of a 900 page book about the role of England during our Civil war. 250 pages were enough to get the idea and it was due back at the library. The Northern blockade of Southern ports denied the Confederacy its chief export but also deprived the Brits of their needed cotton and caused half a million British workers to be unemployed. It came close to bringing England into our war. An impassioned letter from Lincoln to Parliament saved the day.

If we think associatively we get a broader picture of the times. Pick a year, I said to myself, and I came up with 1906. Cezanne died and so did Susan B. Anthony and Henrik Ibsen but Dmitri Shostakovich, Satchel Page (we think) and Samuel Beckett came into the world. Monsieur Curie (married to Madame) departed, replaced by Philo Farnsworth, Billy Wilder and Oscar Levant and lots of others including my Uncle Harry who was famous only to Aunt Nettie.

Mark Twain was still alive and Emile Zola was still dead. The Chicago Cubs were so good they won 116 games and lost 36, a winning percentage never equaled. When the season was over President Theodore Roosevelt left for Panama and got his picture taken on a tractor, becoming the first president to leave the country while in office. When he returned he was named recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his help bringing the Russo-Japanese War to an end. T.R. had also played a part, earlier that year, in mediating the Moroccan crisis between France and Spain. This sounds like Friday and Sunday fighting over Saturday night.

It was a summer of seismic belches and burps. Vesuvius erupted on April 7 burying Naples and 11 days later San Francisco was hit by a 7.8 earthquake and fire. An even larger temblor killed 20,000 in Chile 2 months later and a typhoon and tsunami swallowed another 10,000 in Hong Kong.

On the good news ledger, the first phonograph, the Victrola, appeared and the first radio broadcast occurred: a poetry reading, a violin solo, and a speech. In December of 1906 the world's first feature film, The Story of the Kelly Gang, was released. The worlds longest tunnel (12 miles) was built under the Alps connecting Switzerland and Italy. The Dreyfus Affair ended with his full exoneration which is said to have led to the separation of Church and state in France and a disgraced military. By year’s end The Wasserman test diagnosed syphilis and a tuberculosis inoculation was developed. As tectonic plates were stirring, the Lusitania, the world’s largest ship, was launched... only to be sunk nine years later by Germnan U-boats. A sign of trouble ahead.

And just when you might think a new age of enlightenment was upon us, the U.S found a reason to occupy Cuba. We had already helped ourselves to Guantanamo Bay three years earlier. Across the Atlantic the British built the battleship Dreadnought. It was the first of an entirely new class of warships giving the vessel unheard-of speed. The launching of the Dreadnought was a first step in a naval armaments race with Germany and we know where that led. At the same time the Muslims of India began separating themselves from the Hindus which resulted in the establishment of Pakistan 41 years later.

The agonies and ecstasies of today have their antecedents 106 years ago. Whether these happenings had a cameo role in each other’s story I leave for professional historians and story tellers. As the world shrinks and connectivity grows it’s hard to imagine any local trouble not becoming seismic. I wonder if tears or cheers marked the New Year parties ushering in 1907.

Monday, December 26, 2011


The word keeps following me. I can remember when other words made their best to get into my head, Embedded had its run and so did, narrative. My nominations for this year are occupy and cloud. Certain words sneak into sentences and self-promote until exhaustion sets in or my ears grow deaf to them. But jam hasn’t been rehabilitated by some techno-nerd; jam is just plain old jam.

Flaubert described a sunset as the color of red current jam. In his book, Flaubert’s Parrot, Julian Barnes has a character so obsessed with the Madame Bovary novel that he tracked down the manufacturer of that jam from Normandy still in business a century and a half later and still the same color, just as the sun still hemorrhages nightly before it dips.

This morning I learn that when the Americas discovered Columbus he was introduced to jam or at least sugared fruit, preserved, which he brought back to lay at the feet of Isabel and Ferdinand. That must have been a great time to be alive….unless you happened to be Jewish, Moslem or the Indigenous people about to be slaughtered. But for Christian Europeans their palate would be astonished by tomatoes, potatoes, tobacco, sugar, avocadoes and chocolate. God’s price was to be tooth decay, diabetes and acne...and collective guilt.

It must be jelly, cause jam don’t shake like that, was arranged and played by Glenn Miller and sung by Woody Herman on another label maybe while jammin all night… and the now jam won’t let go. To get in the spirit for the festival of lights I bought a Chanukah donut (swear-to-god) at the Jewish bakery. It had no hole and was filled with raspberry jam. Makes me wonder why they don’t call the jelly donut, a jam donut. The jelly/jam song, by the way, was written by someone named Chummy MacGregor, piano player for Glenn Miller. These are essential facts in case you are also followed by a jam shadow.

When the dairymaid was summoned for the King’s breakfast, his royal-ness requested, as is the monarch’s wont, a bit of butter to his royal slice of bread. Milne was given his due at our Christmas dinner last night. The table rocked.

What we call jam, was once called sweetmeats. One theory as to the origin is that some child, with his eye on posterity, exclaimed, j’aime, I love it. Doubtful provenance but, j’aime.

Now I will jam on the brakes with Jelly Roll Morton who started playing his piano in New Orleans’ brothels about the same time & place Satchmo blew his horn. Why he was called Jelly Roll may not be fit for print but it stuck and their fame spread as jelly/jam does.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I'll Try To Be Brief

…but I probably won’t, due to vestiges from a previous incarnation when loquacity was esteemed. Fewer and fewer words are now the fashion. Adverbs are deemed to be (really, very) superfluous and adjectives are regarded as weak props, from saccharine to ponderous.

When did brevity become such a virtue? Are we a lazy people or just in a hurry to get where we’re going so we can think great thoughts? Is this our way of getting back at long-winded rhetoricians; those bloviators in the halls of Congress or men of the cloth intoning everything God has to say?

The 19th century was a time when working-people became literate. Novels were the rage and many authors got paid by the word. It was also an age of pretension and ornamentation. A well-shaped sentence on the page with a preamble and digressions of a dozen commas and semi-colons, was considered a thing of beauty. The elegantly crafted phrase at the dinner table got you re-invited. Henry James could separate the subject from the predicate with as many words as it took a Minimalist to write a short story. Lincoln’s four minute Gettysburg Address was preceded by Edward Everett’s two hours oration.

Then the pendulum swung after the First World War. Limbs were shot off and sentences got clipped. Romanticism was overthrown along with the monarchies of Europe. Jazz was the staccato to accompany urban speech. Concision entered poetry. Literature became stripped of frippery the same way the Bauhaus School brought Modernism to architecture. Hemingway wrote what must be the world’s shortest novel:

Baby shoes for sale; never used.

Badinage at the dinner table no longer insured a return visit. In fact, that word, itself, hasn’t made the final cut in dictionaries for decades. Public oration is barely tolerated. We’ve discovered the power of the under-statement. Monosyllabic Anglo-Saxon pushed aside polysyllabic Latinate.

Get to the point. Spit it out. Twenty-five words or less. Button your lip..

Brevity shortened our perceptual span, or maybe it was just a better fit. The president of the United States is now POTUS and the State of the Union is SOTU. Some linguists believe that language precedes thought. Fewer words limit ideas. A broad vocabulary trains the mind to think in more nuanced ways. The positive side of all this is that greater demands are expected of the reader or watcher to participate.

Ellipsis is fine but have we not taken it too far, moving beyond brevity to bites, texts, tweets, and duh? If we continue in this trajectory we will end in the place from whence we came; shrugs and grunts.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Abbreviations, Acronyms and Signifiers

It’s bad enough that I don’t know how anything works but I'd like to think I still speak the common tongue and, at least, know what I don’t know.

I was just told what Wi-Fi means. I’d been seeing it all over town but all I knew is that my life hadn’t changed because of my ignorance. Since the sign had appeared in eateries I thought it referred to waffles or some new sushi. And now I know.

Wi- Fi "refers to wireless fidelity; networking technology that allows computers and other devices to communicate over a wireless signal," according to TechTerms. Wi-Fi communication is between the device and a router, which is connected to a modem that provides access to the Internet for connected devices. Wi-Fi is now used in many cell phones and other mobile devices.

I'm glad we've cleared that up.

One sure sign that the world is passing me by is when abbreviations appear and I haven’t the slightest idea what they mean…yet I go for six months or even 65 years faking it. The meaning slowly becomes clear with repeated usage until I get curious enough to Google the derivations.

The most recent one is TMZ. I finally figured out it refers to celebrities but why those letters? And the answer comes up, Thirty Mile Zone, which originated in the 1960's. Due to the growth of on location shoots, studios and various talent guilds established a thirty mile zone, outside of which shooting is considered to be a location shoot, requiring per diems and other travel and living expenses to be paid. The center of the zone was around the old offices of The Association of Motion Pictures and Television Producers, where everything happens. Everything, that is, if you care about that universe….as we must.

The oldest of these is D-Day. I lived through that summer day in 1944 as well as V-J Day. Now that was easy. ..victory over Japan but D-Day always eluded me. Apparently I’ve not been alone.

Many explanations have been given for the meaning of D-Day, June 6, 1944, the day the Allies invaded Normandy from England during World War II. The Army has said that it is an alliteration, as in H-Hour. Others say the first D in the word also stands for day. The French maintain the D means disembarkation, still others say debarkation, and the more poetic insist D-Day is short for day of decision. General Eisenhower said that any amphibious operation has a departed date; therefore the shortened term ‘D-Day’ is used.

Words and signifiers seem to be entering our language with increasing rapidity….and possibly exiting it just as fast. It took me a few years to catch up with bling and wonk. I notice that spell-check still hasn’t admitted the former into its lexicon so I don’t feel too bad about that. I was even late for 24/7.

I’ve finally mastered IMHO, BTW and LOL. We live in global shorthand. I’m glad we’re moving toward universality but we’ve traded away a nuanced vocabulary. I’m reminded of the story about a group of comedians who met regularly and knew each others material so well they numbered the jokes. One fellow stands up and says, 43. Nobody laughed. What’s wrong he asked and was told he didn’t tell it so well.

It’s tough getting old. My impulse is to look backwards into the illusion of historical clarity rather ahead into the dystopia. The present is undecipherable enough. I’m running as fast as I can just to stay still.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Through Un-Arable Soil

A young woman, recently widowed, walks alone in rugged, inhospitable Connemara. She has left the comfort of her apartment. You imagine a smell of garbage about her and her fingernails crusty. Everything she owns is on her back including a blue plastic rolled-up tent in which she camps every night. For the first 15 minutes of this movie there aren’t a dozen words spoken and not too many after that.

She happens upon a house on the tip of a peninsula jutting into a body of water. The owner is Stephen Rea, past middle-age, also mourning his wife’s death. He welcomes her company but neither offers a name or their past, as if they have none and have returned to an elemental existence. When he pushes near she pulls away. When she finally trusts enough to abandon her tent and sit at his table, he becomes more taciturn.

Rea’s face is a biography of his wounded life, cratered but kind. She returns repeatedly to a cliff overlooking this strange phallic-like stretch of earth with the cottage at land’s end. They have both come to the end of their tether in a craggy place strangely embraced by a green belt.

The countryside is as stark and raw as their interior landscape; yet sensually suggestive as the camera closes in on her fingering sinuous, slithering kelp and he pulling onion and chive from his garden. Together they dig and stack peat moss for fuel, transforming the austere and barren into something Edenic.

She peels potatoes and cooks him soup. He offers her his music. Her taste runs to the classical and his to country. He teases that she is too educated to know what’s good. She dances a jig.

The blue of the tent becomes a blue jar on the sill, his blue shirt and the blue light at dusk. Their early insistence of anonymity slowly yields to intimacy, unable to resist forbidden knowledge in spite of themselves and the film’s ironic name, Nothing Personal.

As simple humanity emerges he suffers a heart attack. His heart has been attacked as it opens. She watches over him and when he succumbs she wraps his body in a sheet and embraces him in her nakedness. It is a most memorable movie image, highly erotic and poignant, unlike any I’ve seen before.

There is redemption of life through hard-earned love, the way potatoes grow between ancient stone and bogs, pushing up through un-arable soil.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Extra Paper, Read All About It

In the old movie, an editor calls downstairs to stop the press. In the next scene stacks of papers are thrown from the truck. Newsboys hawk the special edition on the corner, taking in the three cents faster than the execution switch at Sing-Sing. In real life, big black headlines seared themselves into my head: ROOSEVELT DEAD, D-Day, JAPAN SURRENDERS.

All that’s left now is the L.A. Times with their second section called, Extra, a few pages of regional and national stories. It seems always to be bad news on a small scale rather than the first section which is bad news on an international scale.

Last Saturday’s edition gave us a shooting spree at Sunset and Vine on the first page. A crazed gunman fired randomly at passing motorists. A witness said he wanted to die a loud death and he did as police finished him off in a surreal scene. Bystanders thought they were watching a movie being filmed.

Other stories on page one concerned a child molester, overcrowded jails and corruption revealed by an audit. I turned the page and read about the unclear motive of a campus shooter in Virginia after he killed a policeman and turned the gun on himself. Fear is said to have returned where a deranged undergraduate killed 32 students four years ago on the same campus.

Woe is us, sorry, woe is we. Life has become the shoot-em-up movie I do my best to avoid seeing.

More negativity on page three with an article about the millions of dollars lost to recent wind damage. I finally spot a happy story on the bottom of the page. A red-flanked bluetail was spotted on San Clemente Island. The bird is indigenous to Europe and Asia. It either had no sense of direction, disoriented perhaps by climate change or was seeking a new homeland. In any case no one accused it of being undocumented. It caused delirium among birders who welcome what they call a vagrant; and beautiful it is with its blue rump and tail, cinnamon wings and reddish flanks.

Turning the page to the obits I joined in celebrating the eighty years of Hubert Sumlin. When Howlin Wolf howled through Wang Dang Doodle who do you suppose was thumping his snarling guitar? None other than the great bluesman, Sumlin. He riffed hard one moment and sighed the next. Once he strapped on his instrument his sound was lacerating.

As John Garfield says in Golden Boy as he risks everything, What are they going to do, kill me? Everybody dies.

The best we can hope for is a life lived, loudly or not, on our own terms. Better the end doesn’t come on the mean streets as a random shooting. Howard Sumlin said his piece with his ferocious guitar. The red-flanked bluetail made it to the new world even if it was impaled a few days later by a loggerhead shrike, as I just learned.

Life is various; good news and bad, intertwined. On the last page of Extra, I see that it is 88 degrees in Rio and minus nine in Winnipeg.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Baseball is life, so they say, and I don’t disagree. But that was when we were pastoral and puny; a diamond in the rough, heedless of time as we ran around the bases counter-clockwise. Now football is our pastime, a metaphor for business and for war, for all things adversarial. It is America’s game; what we do at home, vicariously, while our military is occupying enemy territory, shocking, awing and droning. 18 of the top 20 most watch T.V. programs are football games, as befits our muscular foreign policy.

We bet on outcomes as if we were generals, fantasizing our armies, devising strategies. Concuss or be concussed. Football players do battle in padded gear and we sit on the couch growling and guzzling. I know; I’m one of them, feeding my reptilian brain.

Of course I look at it as a choreographed ballet of bulky bodies; a cerebral sport with blocking assignments, Hail Marys, fakes and audibles improvised at the line of scrimmage as the quarterback reads the defense. The gridiron is a chessboard with an occasional stretcher.

The game itself often brings out 100,000 fans on Saturday and brings in ten of millions of dollars for division one NCAA schools. It is a growth industry on many campuses. Few student-athletes make it as professionals. Whatever glory is achieved and no doubt,embellished over time, is generally accompanuied by scars followed by an early blue plaque for handicap parking.

Strange, how it is a peculiarly American game, unlike the futball played by the rest of the world. Consider the shape of the ball; American exceptionalism again. Kick, run, pass. Use your hands, your feet, your helmet. A score is not one point as in soccer; it is six and with a conversion,7. There are no ties. We have sudden death as if life itself was on the line.

Football is an elongated march downfield, a muddied advance, played in rain or snow in defiance of the elements. Many exercise their right to bare arms. It is a manly game that spills hormones all over the field. Needed yardage is bulled for, straight ahead. Ulysses inches his way from post to post like the rest of us …. to swooning Penelopes cheering on the sideline. They huddle, we huddle. They fumble just as we bumble; missed assignments, sacks, broken patterns, interceptions. Once I may have punted on first down. This time I go for it on 4th and inches. One team gets to the end zone with victory swagger. It could be me.

The fans at the stadium suit up or down for the spectacle like a paramilitary unit with their gladiator faces, fangs and tattoos, often stripped for action. Aggression sublimated, one hopes.

It’s both brainy and brutal. I gladly let them reenact the ancient ritual. Perhaps football was more symbolic of trench warfare when armies battled for every foot of real estate. Today, our wars are fought with remote buttons against guerillas who vanish into caves or tunnels. The new national pastime might be a series of computer games which simulate both terrorism and occupation along with the next misadventure of a world power foolish enough to imagine we can police the planet. However, until drones come to our neighborhood, football will have to do.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Such a Deal

The New Deal happened under my very eyes but my eyes were just seven years in this world by 1940. Whatever hardships or remedies occurred, they entered my consciousness as normalcy, as mother’s milk.

I only knew that money matters were whispered about in the next room. My mother moaned and railed about the hard times with her gevalts. She had an enormous vocabulary for curses and an affinity for the woes of life, yet I never missed a meal or felt deprived. As she did combat with the world, I became a pacifist.

I just finished reading Michael Hiltzik’s book, The New Deal, which details the conditions of the thirties and FDR’s legislative agenda to turn it around; all the politics of the day which passed me by.

History brings another dimension to the present, the necessary antecedent in the continuum. Reading the public rhetoric from back then makes me hum, I’ve heard that song before. The world hasn’t moved much in the alignment of opposing forces.

It is tempting to compare Roosevelt with Obama and make the case for that man as FDR was derisively called. The closer we look, the matter becomes a bit more muddled. Certainly he had a quality of voice, unequalled. It was, at once, warm and authoritative. He was the ultimate charmer. Obama was not to the manor born and lacks his Patrician ease. Many folks feel un-met. However, our current president has a greater intellect and can be equally inspiring to a large audience. Justice Holmes assessed FDR, Second rate intellect, first rate temperament.

Both men practiced pragmatism, shunned ideology, made missteps, appeased the opposition, spoke contradictory statements and evoked the wrath of both the Left and Right. If Obama has the baggage of Tim Geithner at Treasury, FDR stuck himself with Henry Morgenthau whose call for a balanced budget never ceased.

By 1936, Roosevelt enjoyed a 5:1 ratio of Democrats to Republicans in the Senate and a 4:1 advantage in the House. Is it any wonder he was able to have his way with an alphabet of agencies? When the Supreme Court struck some of them down he had a tantrum which caused him to squander much political capital in Congress for a while. However, as the nine old men died off he was able to make key appointments who stayed on the bench well into the 50's and beyond. William O. Douglas remained until 1975.

The accomplishments of the W.P.A. are impressive by any measure. It produced 124,000 bridges, 8,000 parks and 24,000 schools, to name a few. The Tennessee Valley Authority brought rural electrification to millions of people. Locally, after the Long Beach earthquake of 1933, the federal government built or repaired 536 new schools. In NYC it constructed the Triborough Bridge. Perhaps the greatest accomplishment was Social Security which eventually led to Medicare. The Republicans can’t forgive him for that.

For most Americans the New Deal instilled the precept, in Hiltzik's words, economic security is a collective responsibility and therefore a function of government. That this notion is now under attack is unfathomable and tragic.

While Roosevelt prepared us for war and led us through it, Obama is trying to wind down our foreign adventures while still maintaining homeland security. Both have had to navigate between Hawks and Doves, between Keynesians and naysayers. If Obama has put too much faith in the engine of banks, FDR made a pact with the Devil in keeping the Solid South. He did not support anti-lynching laws or an end to the poll tax. The New Deal was more of the Old Deal for Blacks. Such are the shameful compromises of politics.

In certain ways Obama’s narrative is more compelling than Roosevelt’s. It is the chronicle of a struggle through humble beginnings, with no father in a foreign land, then raised by grandparents in a country still gripped by racism, all transcended with a meteoric rise to our highest office. FDR led a privileged life until he was struck by polio and overcame that hurdle by grit and the force of his personality.

Both are public men whose inner lives remain largely unknown. Roosevelt never wrote his memoir. His personal side has come down to us through letters and recollections from dozens of family, friends and historians. He was most certainly the right man for the time and arguably saved our system, for better or worse. Obama’s legacy remains to be seen. He has been dealt a Raw Deal from an unconscionable opposition. I suspect history will be kinder towards him than our current observers.

1904, T.R. spoke of a Square Deal when addressing a labor dispute. FDR offered the people a New Deal in 1933 and Harry Truman called for a Fair Deal. As divisions continue to grow between the privileged and disadvantaged, the deck, itself, needs to be re-examined.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Riddle of Days

Vermont, Statuesque, Swedish, Arthur's, Africa, Sensation, Misunderstood How do these words connect? It’s a riddle a friend sprung on me. I enjoy these word games if I can figure them out. I can’t stand them when I don’t. I regress to those times in school when I forgot my homework. In this case I hadn’t a clue. I looked at the vowels, their order and the consonants that surrounded them. The alphabet ran in my head. I came up blank. And then he gave me the answer ……… they all contain an abbreviation for the days of the week. That got me thinking about these names, from whence they came and what memories and meanings are attached to them. Monday derived from the Old English. Monandaeg, was seen as Moonday by astrologers because it aligns with the moon. I’ve learned never to argue with astrologers, fearing they might consign me to horoscope hell. I’m retrograde enough as it is. For many Americans it is named Monday because that is when Monday night football happens. The question whether Monday is the first or second day of the week is still unsettled even though the major religions all assign Sunday as the first day of the week. God labored in his creation experiment for six days and gave us up as hopeless, sleeping in on Sunday. Accordingly, Monday is day two. However pious we may claim to be, Monday, in the workplace, is seen as day one. All I know is that Monday began the school week and in the pharmacy it was, by far, the busiest day. It is also the preferred day for suicides, the numbers swelled perhaps by overworked pharmacists. Tuesday follows, regardless of whether it is the second or third day. It’s what happens when you get through Monday and wake up alive. Tuesday Weld was not the first person to think of the name. Tuesday is another well-worn word having passed through Norse and Germanic hands; our version of Tyr, which is the Old English translation of Mars-day. Suddenly I’m remembering Meatless Tuesday during the good war when we sacrificed together and felt noble about it. It is also our election day which generally means a night of teeth-gnashing and mourning. Next is the day that Ash Wednesday always falls on. Wednesday positions itself in mid-week with its silent “d” that could stand for double agent, having infiltrated a word for no apparent reason… other than it came down to us from the Anglo-Saxon, Wodon. If you’re still alive by now you are half-way through the week. Thursday is my favorite day. It feels juicy to me as having had its Thirst-day quenched in my mouth. It comes to us from Jupiter, by Jove, translated as Thor as in thunder. Thursday night was my time to dial up God ….for a few hours, to get me through the Friday tests. My non-belief didn’t keep me from a chat every now and then. I’m told that Thursday is the new Friday (the same way 80 is the new 60) when college kids start partying. No wonder our nation is in steep decline. We have Good Friday and Black Friday which is even gooder, at least for merchants. I understand that Good Friday is the best day to plant potatoes. I must remember that for my next incarnation. Then there is Friday the 13th which is a bad day to do anything except perhaps to have dinner at TGIF. For those with their heads in the clouds it is somehow connected to Venus. The word itself is again bequeathed from the Norse God, Frigge. One should never do battle with a Norse god particularly on Friday. Days are named for the planets, which were in turn named for the deities so Saturday belongs to Saturn though it is not necessarily saturnine. In fact it is our reward having gotten through another week. Saturday is Sabbath, for observant Jews, football for orthodox fans and the loneliest night of the week growing up unless you enjoyed a juke-box Saturday night if you were sentient in the '40's Finally we come to Sunday and not a minute too soon. I can tell by the weight of the newspaper. Before it was the Lord’s Day, it belonged to pagans who worshipped the sun. Like so many other rites this is another instance of the Church appropriating the day for its own purposes. God rested and ye shall come in your Sunday best and sing praises to his name. And while you are here you might just drop a coin in the cup for the edifice complex. If I allow myself to regress to childhood, Sunday night was an early bath with Lifebuoy soap and my sailboat, then out in time for radio programs starting with Jack Benny and ending with Fred Allen. However, retirement is a seven day weekend, all days indistinguishable; part of our campaign to ignore the calendar.