Who Are You?

The Zombies Ate My Brains

Who are you and what have you done with Maggie?

Veggie warning for the beet-phobic among the readership.

I don’t know who I am anymore.

Once upon a time, I didn’t need a grocery list. I was a whiz in the kitchen. I’d whip up a batch of, oh, I don’t know – let’s say chocolate beet brownies – or lasagna – maybe both in the same afternoon – after a day of weeding in the yard and hanging laundry on the line. And the brownies were perfectly executed and the lasagna “to die for” and everyone would rant and rave and sing my praises.

I used to track my expenses to the penny. I tended the garden with maniacal precision. Computers and printers and all manner of office tools obeyed my every command.

Now? Loosey-goosey is my middle name. Now, it’s, “Sorry honey, I forgot the marshmallows,” and “Who cares…

View original post 285 more words

What a Miserable, Mother-Swiving Profession

“What a miserable, mother-swiving profession it is…”

“. . . to be a writer.” Christopher Marlowe

I’d rather be pussy grabbed by Trump than re-publish a book of mine ever again. Flipka, my first book, has had four editors over the stretch of four years.  As a result, I’ve been hornswoggled into a flummoxed higgledy-piggledy, lolly-gagging pusillanimous puke.  It’s not the editors’ fault.  They just didn’t agree with each other which always puts the writer on a ride down the Iron Maiden.

Coincidentally I’ve also been watching the miniseries “Will” which focuses on the so-called “lost years” of William Shakespeare, in this case, the years during which he made a name for himself in London.  Since not much is known about those years, the writers took a few liberties based on events of the day. The first season focused on the dangers he would have faced in London because he was Catholic in a society dominated by blood-thirsty Protestants. This is not something I remember coming up when studying Shakespeare in college but perhaps it did and age has dulled my mind.  I do remember endless discussions about his sexuality which brings me to that other great playwright of the time: Christopher Marlowe.

In this series, Marlowe is the “writer,” agonizing over the meaning of life and the futility of it all, whereas Shakespeare just wants to make a buck to support his family.  He’s the story teller.  I know people who consider it a personal effrontery to be called a story teller. They are “writers.” Their work does not rely on a plot or characters but journeys to the soul of the reader through the divinity of their prose.  Well, that’s cool. But few people can actually do that and I’m not one of them.

Anyway, if I wanted to spend my days intellectualizing over a process no one really understands, I would have made my father a very happy man and gone on to graduate school.  So, my question for you all is, are you a story-teller or a miserable mother-swiving writer?

By the way, I’ve been reposting a lot of “cuttings” from Duke Miller’s soon to be re-released (hopefully) Living and Dying with Dogs, Turbo Edition.  In his over twenty years traveling the world working with refugees he’s seen things most of us only run into in sweaty nightmares of the Apocalypse. It’s a remarkable report from the wreckage of Planet Earth: the Human Edition.  Quite timely.

Dying by a Lake in England

tin hats

THE MARRIED COUPLE came into my office upset.  He was about fifty years old and looked like somebody had switched his head with a skeleton’s skull. She was pretty and younger, but her eyes were two black tunnels drilled into the side of a German mountain. There was probably no way out of the darkness once you drove into them.

The pair was there to complain about cuts in their project funding. Both were psychiatrists working with rape and torture victims. They explained how large their caseloads were and about how much stress they and their patients were under and that the project could not afford to lose support staff or facilities.

The man’s voice rose in harsh judgment as he spoke and the woman shed a few tears. Professionalism fell across my face and I began to emote like a tired bureaucrat. I sympathized with them, but kept saying…

View original post 204 more words

Half A Breath

tin hats

I MET A YOUNG BOSNIAN WOMAN in Sarajevo who told me there “was nothing like love in Sarajevo during the siege.” All the joy and sadness in the world enriched her eyes. They shone like two tears of blue obsidian.  Over a beer, she showed me a set of song lyrics she had written.  “This comes from my heart,” she said.  “The good ones usually do,” I responded.

She sang low, a cappella, there in the little café.  It was a sad tune and I turned my head away from her at the end and told her I needed another drink.

She had picked up the phone one day in Australia and answered a call from a Bosnian soldier fighting the Serbs. It was a wrong number, but he explained he was calling from Sarajevo. Over the days they talked on the phone and soon they fell in love with…

View original post 498 more words

First, Do No Harm

Recently a number of bloggers I respect have started writing opinion pieces stating basically that  Trump should not be blamed for the rise of the Neo Nazis and their ilk, as he is only a “symptom” of the problem and not the cause.  They admit  that  he’s a despicable and vile human being but… 

I don’t know about you, gentle readers, but those “buts” always get me.  My first thought is always “Oh no, they’ve drunk the Kool-Aid.” But then I realize those bloggers have shied away from political rhetoric in the past, perhaps not wanting to offend potential readers. Thus, when they do leap to his defense, they must add a caveat to their statements such as “he’s slime but he’s not filth.”  Okay, he’s not filth but he’s also not a symptom.

A symptom is the dead canary in a coal mine, a high fever on a child, dark spots on rose leaves, or a sinister rattle under the hood. The cause is not yet known and must be acknowledged and then analyzed. Hate groups have been analyzed for a long time.  We’re way past canaries.

I think of the president as a doctor hired to heal the country.  It’s important for him to understand the country’s many open wounds but it’s equally important – if not more – to first, DO NO HARM. 

If we think about the political parties as doctors proposing cures, if you were coming down with a cold in the ’70s, Dr. Democrat would prescribe bed rest, chicken soup and plenty of liquids. Generally he wouldn’t blame you for the excessive smoking, drinking and carousing all night long that brought on the cold. He would prescribe a cure.  On the other hand, Dr. Republican would tell you that sickness was for weaklings and hospitals were for the dying.  But, if you didn’t have insurance and got pneumonia, he’d work out a long-term payment plan for his bill.  Both sides were different but not enough to confuse voters.

Fast forward to the Obama Era. If you’re coming down with a cold, Dr. Democrat would tell you to make healthy choices in your diet and exercise routines but if you did require medicine, he’d try to make sure it was affordable. 

On the other hand, Dr. Republican would tell you that you’re at liberty to live however you want, and that admonishing you to live a healthy lifestyle (as Dr. Democrat has done) violates your Constitutional rights.  If you did get pneumonia, Dr. Republican would  demand your insurance card.  And if you didn’t have one, he’d tell you that you shouldn’t be buying iPhones. But he’d also tell you to have more children because birth control is a sin.   

By 2016 the intensive squabbling between the two doctors caused patients to look for other opinions and along came:

  • Doctor Feelgood:  His cure was free healthcare for all, free higher education for all, and stricter controls on financial institutions.
  • Doctor ToughLove: His cure was to burn down all the institutions and go back to living in a log cabin. If you did get pneumonia, get a church to take care of you. 
  • Doctor Greenie: The only patient he cared about was Planet Earth, because once she was diagnosed as terminal it really wouldn’t matter how healthy the humans of the world were.
  • Doctor Denier:  You don’t really have a cold. 

Good Grief!!  It’s no wonder the country lost all confidence in doctors. So it’s no wonder that when a new doctor flew into rusty towns and villages on his magic carpet, and with all the right mojo, claimed he alone had the answers, they believed him because they’d seen him on that great altar of truth, reality television. They’d seen him in his golden tower, with his golden children and his barely clad exotic bride. Unlike other doctors, he didn’t warn them of the complications of the medicine he would prescribe if they hired him. No, there’d be no complications, there’d be no poisoned water to drink, there’d be no draft of their young sons for his wars to fight, and, best of all, political correctness would be a thing of the past. 

From Disney’s The Princess and the Frog

And when he saw those cancer cells growing in his crowds, he violated that first rule of being a doctor: first DO NO HARM. Trump isn’t a symbol of anything. He’s the Voodoo Doctor.

*The images in this post are all from Bing Images.

The Rise of the Ice Cream Socialists

I’m joining this party. How about you?

The Return of the Modern Philosopher

politics, humor, satire, Donald Trump, racism, Modern PhilosopherAt a time when our President cannot find the words to condemn Nazis and white supremacists, I think it’s time to support a new political party to lead our nation back from the brink of Trump-ageddon, Modern Philosophers.

I offer you the Ice Cream Socialists.

I attended one of their gatherings today, which they refer to as a social.

There were no tiki torches, no hoods to hide the identities of anyone in attendance, and no flags flying other than the Stars and Stripes.

No one marched in anger, shouted obscenities, or looked to engage in a physical altercation with anyone else in attendance.

It was a peaceful gathering of about seventy-five people, who managed to interact without any sort of conflict.

There were plenty of smiles and kind words, though.

And on this breezy summer day in Maine, the Ice Cream Socialists had a very clear platform with…

View original post 287 more words

Are Poor Laws in our Future? I think so.

There are two types of poor people,
those who are poor together
and those who are poor alone.
The first are the true poor,
the others are rich people out of luck.
Jean-Paul Sartre

My grandparents lived their entire lives in something I like to call genteel poverty. They worked steadily until they retired owing no one but only able to afford modest cruises and a few months during the coldest months at a trailer park in Florida. They lived in a town where the majority of the folks survived just above the poverty line but no one seemed to envy those who had more or mock those who had less. 

They lived through times of fear that the little they’d saved through thrift unimaginable would not nearly be enough to keep debtors from their door and I’m sure at those times family members sacrificed what little they could to help out. But I’m also sure that if they’d had calamitous misfortune – such as a work-related injury for which there was no insurance at that time or a child crippled by birth defect or accident, they could have easily been pulled under. 

According to Wikipedia, genteel poverty refers to people once a part of America’s royalty who are now living in squalor with their gems and furs and “dignity.”  Most emigrants came to country trying to get away from shit like royalty but apparently after some of them became bloated like ticks with money and power, they decided being a king was a pretty cool thing. And besides, they deserved it. They knew how to bugger the other guy and weren’t too chicken shit to do it.  

 Picture this scene from Gray Gardens: a middle aged woman and her elderly mother (aunt of Queen Jackie of Camelot) living in a decaying mansion where they eat cat food on china from the Ming Dynasty.

Do you notice the difference between the two houses? One is modest but well kept and the other looks like a scene from a Hitchcock movie. I don’t agree with Wikipedia. What does eating cat food from Ming era china have to do with refinement? 

    This a photo of my grandfather before he shipped out to the Great War.  It’s in a cheap plastic frame with a yarn cord for hanging because he was the son of a preacher with five other siblings.  Indeed, his name is handwritten on the back so he would not be forgotten in case he did not return.  He did; but gaunt and hollow-eyed. 

From American Heritage Dictionary:  gen-teel: 1. Refined in manner.  2. Free from vulgarity or rudeness.  If taken too far: 3. Marked by affected and somewhat prudish refinement.

I think his picture speaks of gentility. It is refined. It is free from vulgarity or rudeness as was the grandfather I remember, sitting quietly on the screened patio as crickets chirped wildly after an evening thunderstorm, knowing he’d never cheated anyone to get ahead or made an excuse for an unpaid debt.   

This is a photo of my grandmother upon her graduation from nursing school.

She was not as refined as her husband.  Containing her opinions on any subject involving a hint of impropriety made her face twitch and her eyes flutter like a trapped butterfly. And, if you didn’t really want an honest answer you didn’t ask her. 

I know wealthy people who consider themselves genteel and practice noblesse oblige towards those not as fortunate as they are. But they cheat on their taxes and and brag when they’ve managed to game the system. Their children and grandchildren will never go to war or change bedpans of that I’m sure. If I asked them what would happen if they lost everything tomorrow, they would insist that they would still hold onto their dignity and gladly eat cat food off a Ming plate rather than take public assistance of any sort. And I believe them. I just don’t think that qualifies as gentility. How about you? 

Of course they honestly believe it could never happen to them because, like many wealthy people, they believe in one or all of the following:

  • Life really isn’t so bad for the working poor. People who espouse this opinion generally follow it up with “They could be living back in Dickensian London where debtors were thrown into prison and their children sent to work houses. (This argument is almost as stupid as being told if you don’t eat all your food, people in China will starve.)
  • Or they believe the poor are poor because they don’t work hard enough. Gina Rinehart, an Australian mining tycoon and the world’s wealthiest woman: “If you’re jealous of those with more money, don’t just sit there and complain,” she wrote in Australian Resources and Investment magazine.  “Spend less time drinking or smoking and socializing, and more time working.”
  • Or, that the children of the poor should be put in workhouses as young as possible to contain the virus that causes poverty: “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it’s illegal.”– Newt Gingrich, Former House Speaker who said that laws preventing child labor in America were “truly stupid” and that schools should hire working class students to be janitors.

With so many right wing millionaires now in positions of power, I wonder how long it will take them to take a page from the Victorians and pass Poor Laws which force people needing help into prisons called “workhouses.”  Of course they could use the same rationalization as the Victorians did:  workhouses will act as a deterrent and fewer people will claim welfare, bringing the poverty rate down to its “correct” level. The Poor Laws  were eventually struck down, in a large because authors like Charles Dickens railed against them.  However our leaders have already proven they don’t study history.

 So how long do you think it will be until the current head of HUD, Ben Carson, comes up with the bright idea to suggest a Poor Law Amendment to the Constitution? Just wondering.