Friday, January 17, 2020

shards of a sea chanty

Woke this morning with...

.... just the first stanza ... enough to make me look it up.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

getting my age straight ... I think

Today, thanks to a kindly money guy who has what change I have to jingle under his advisement, I learned that I was almost 80. "I know you hate labels, but ..." he prefaced his observation about my age ... "almost 80."

This is more serious than it sounds to any serious-minded person. I had lately been unsure if I were "69" or "70" ... and "80" was in the mix as well. Bill ironed those wrinkles out in our phone chat this morning. Bill has an adding machine and seems to know how to use it. I don't trust my math  skills AND there's no longer much I can do about the facts anyway.



I don't much like trusting outside sources, but Bill has always been a pretty straight shooter who's in a business that insists on the accurate use of an adding/subtracting machine. When I heard Bill's words, I felt a bit like George Carlin's disappointment comedified in his riff on a time when he stopped believing in God. What was he to do? As a former believer, what was he to believe in? He felt bereft. Finally, he said, he decided to believe in Joe Pesche. And I -- I decided to believe in Bill. Believing in others is a poor bet, but Bill is better than many....

So be it. What the hell -- time won't mind.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

pussy aroma

Ranking number 9 on the 10 "most viewed" news list provided by The Guardian's website this morning:

Why is Gwyneth Paltrow selling a candle that smells like her vagina?

Gwyneth [an actress I think] has made a candle called This Smells Like My Vagina for her website, Goop. And, of course, it has sold out.
The Guardian, like the BBC before it, has relied increasingly on rewrites of other news sites lately. It saves time and leg work to borrow other people's stuff. But... but... but.... pussy perfumes? Will every woman henceforth smell like Peppermint Patty? Will the women line up for comparative sniffs? Why is this somehow less gross than Donald Trump grabbing women's genitals?

I liked the commentary.

biggest flower, stinky and ignored

The largest single flower ever recorded was found recently in Sumatra, Indonesia, measuring a reported 111cm (3.64ft) across....
... this giant flower is critically endangered as its forests disappear, and it remains impossible to cultivate. If Rafflesia was a giant animal, like an elephant or blue whale, there would be international efforts to conserve it, but instead it remains largely ignored.

authors offer prize to presidential press secretary

Bestselling novelists Stephen King and Don Winslow have offered to donate $200,000 (£153,000) to a children’s hospital if the White House press secretary, Stephanie Grisham, will hold a press conference.
White House press briefings used to be a regular affair, but the last one was held more than 300 days ago, according to CNN, by Grisham’s predecessor in the role, Sarah Huckabee Sanders. Instead, Donald Trump prefers informal huddles with reporters, with his spokespeople appearing on sympathetic television channels to put their points across.
Grisham told Fox and Friends in September that “a lot of reporters were doing [press briefings] to get famous”, and there were no plans to bring the briefing back in the near future.



Tuesday, January 7, 2020

paradox or simultaneity

Is it "paradox" or is it simple "simultaneity?"  Paradox suggests a problem to be fixed. Simultaneity suggests oh-well-that's-just-the-way-it-is.

At issue, so to speak:

On the one hand: "democracy is the worst form of government except for all the rest." Never mind who said it or when or how. The meat on the bone remains and the probable truth remains with it, I think. Governments are a risky business at best. But for all that, the word "democracy" is flung about like some much-loved Teddy bear. One man, one vote. Yum.

On the other hand Baron Rochefoucault's maxim, "the intelligence of the mass is inversely proportionate to its number." Or, the greater the number, the dumber things get.

So ... which is it? I think the answer is both. Both are true and it's just tough-titty who may try to unravel what some call a paradox.

Everyone should have a say. That's democracy. And yet when everyone has a say, everyone ends up saying much the same thing: It's cozier that way. Cozier and yet dumber. Democracy is smarter in some ways and yet its stupidity hangs out like some untucked T-shirt.

Oh well, I'm working on this.....

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

my mother's 100th

If my mother were alive today, she would be 100 today. But since she is not, she is not. Imagine the bummer of being a kid whose birthday fell on a national holiday. Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 26, 2019


When I was a kid, the backs of comic books would advertise, "Use a word ten times in a day and it is yours." And I guess it is somehow fitting to circle back on that invocation.

Why it is, I don't know, but I seem to have a perennial brain fart about the word "desultory." I simply cannot remember its meaning and usage. (desultory:
"1 : marked by lack of definite plan, regularity, or purpose a dragged-out ordeal of … desultory shopping— Herman Wouk
2 : not connected with the main subject desultory comments
3 : disappointing in progress, performance, or quality a desultory fifth place finish a desultory wine")
The word does not flow along my vocabulary circuits. It doesn't fit as other words do. Its music and meaning escape me again and again. Again and again I bump up against the word and fail to get it right, find its home.
I try using it ten times in a day, but the word sniggers like some bad boy with spit balls at the back of the class room. You can't catch me, I'm the Gingerbread Man.
I console myself by suggesting that no matter how hard anyone might try, there will always be some strand of understanding left unknotted, unknown and just plain wrong. Go with the flow. But of course the habit is still strong: Improve and understand ... improve and understand ... improve and tara-diddle.
Another thing still unknown.


The house was teeming with everyone yesterday ... all the kids grown and all of them bigger than I was for a Christmas get-together. Everyone together and, from my perspective, everyone BIGGER. How ever did we fit so many people in such and small and littered house?! My daughter cooked a meal for everyone and there were enough calories to choke a horse ... not least some REAL fucking brownies and a cheese cake with caramel sauce that was pure wowsers.

I could tell I was old, the surest sign being that I got a robe and some slippers from Santa and his/her elves. Toasty stuff.

How did everyone get so big? ... an old fart's question. All of them good kids -- healthy and kind in their particular ways. A privilege to be part of their realm. Still not quite sure how I fit in that jigsaw puzzle, but I'm in there somewhere. My wife did the heavy lifting and ... well, it was a quiet velvet day.


Wednesday, December 25, 2019

asked and answered

As once, in what I think of as the bomb zone of my beginning of my spiritual quest, I asked the question, so now I have reached my answer and it is satisfactory to me.

The question, posed somewhere between an icy doubt and a deep, beloved yearning was this:

Is spiritual life or spiritual endeavor a crock of shit or not? I really wanted to know and that yearning set me on a 40-50-year quest.

Question: Is spiritual life a crock of shit or not? I didn't want to know for anyone else. The question was a one-off built solely for me. Well, is it, or not?

Question: Is spiritual endeavor a crock of shit or not?

The answer is: Yes.

Asked and, after so many years, answered.


Is it a crock of shit or not?


I cuddle up to this answer today as I was in no way capable of cuddling then: Yes.

I am satisfied, yet issue a warning.

Anyone who might take this blog post as a jumping-off point for some further metaphor or evidence of their own assessment should be wary: If you come within my crosshairs, I will shoot you dead if I have the chance. Literally. Don't be a scumbag!

Is spiritual endeavor a crock of shit or not?


Asked and answered.

Nothing -- no question or answer should be premised on these words. Just yes. Yes. The end.


Sunday, December 22, 2019

"Scar of Bethlehem"

Wissam Salsaa, the manager of the Walled-Off Hotel, pictured with Banksy’s Scar of Bethlehem. Photograph: Ahmad Gharabli/AFP via Getty Images           

Banksy’s latest piece – the artist’s take on a nativity scene – has been unveiled at a hotel in Bethlehem.
The Scar of Bethlehem features a nativity scene with Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, but instead of a star hanging over the crib there is what appears to be a large bullet hole piercing an imposing grey wall.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Trump impeached

The Democrat-laden U.S. House of Representatives impeached President Donald Trump last night. No one has promised to take him out behind the wood shed and shoot him ... and put him out of our misery.

The Republican-laden Senate will now have the chance to exonerate the same man who promised to "drain the swamp" and created a new one.

Exhausting and embarrassing.

Monday, December 16, 2019

newspaper for sale; price: $0

An Alaska newspaper publisher is ready to hand his operation to a new owner at an unbeatable price: $0.
Larry Persily, a longtime journalist who runs the Skagway News in the state’s panhandle, is willing to give away the small-town paper to a multi-talented professional who can ensure it a bright future.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Trump gears up to step down?

Niggling and naggling at the edges of my thoughts is the notion that U.S. President Donald Trump is shoring up his political nesting place in advance of his stepping aside from the U.S. Presidency.

Trump hasn't got the balls to lose and the House of Representatives vote on articles of impeachment in the upcoming week/this coming week looks (however scripted) like a loser.

A Senate exoneration is to follow the House vote.

Trump has fewer and fewer whipping boys -- people he can blame and fire for the errors he has made. And like any champ, he would like to go out on top. Or maybe this is all just wistful  wet-dream  thinking. Can anyone imagine his leaving office without saying, "I-told-jaso!"

And castrated Senate Republicans who don't dare to stand up for country or principle would like a safe harbor as they head home for the Christmas break and meetings with constituencies that voted four-square for The Donald.

Maybe someone will write a "Profiles in Cowardice" book ... but it's doubtful.

And  Vice-President Mike Pence as president? The artificial-intelligence Christian as president? Well,  let's take one pig-pile at a time.

Thursday, December 12, 2019

rewriting American history

It was my now-dead Army buddy Bill McKechnie who reworked the wit and witticism sometimes attributed to American 'founding father' Benjamin Franklin:
Early to bed
And early to rise
Makes a man healthy,
Wealthy and wise.
McKechnie's rendition -- announced after what I can only assume was a night of too much beer, carousing and giggling:
Early to bed
And early to rise ....
And you never see any of your friends.

Mexicans bridle

Emiliano Zapata: He pissed them off then and he pisses them off today.
A new portrait of Emiliano Zapata has caused a firestorm of outrage for its portrayal of the Mexican revolutionary hero striking a seductive pose – clad only in a pink sombrero and high heels.

Tuesday, December 10, 2019

a bit of information


Monday, December 9, 2019

taking a step back

Watching CPAN 3 last night, I could feel a sigh of relief ... I wasn't quite as nuts as I had thought I might be.

Elizabeth Holtzman
There was Eizabeth Holtzman, one-time pepper pot of the 1970's, remembering the impeachment of Richard Nixon (against today's backdrop of a firestorm of impeachment talk swirling
around Donald Trump today).

Listening, I realized how much more courteous and well-argued times were in Holtzman's era. It was important that the country might be injured: Democrats and Republicans all agreed on that. No one was above the law -- Republicans and Democrats agreed on that. It was important to think and to tell the truth ... and however rancorous, no one made a fetish out of stupidity and harming the nation.

The country was important.

That, and it was not up for sale.

Elizabeth Holtzman helped me to breathe easier. No wonder I felt so out-of-joint. Nowadays, everything is thrown away, indecorous, and rude. The law is ... oh well, it's a witch hunt and the country is a Tinker Toy for toddlers. Still, Nixon's was my era ... no wonder I felt weird and confused when the media dove into bed with a man whose most notable accoutrement is his wind-blown wig.

As if to drive some passage-of-time nail home, the Associated Press saw fit this morning to mark the death of René Auberjonois, a character actor with
René Auberjonois
whom I used to play as a kid. Swords and cap pistols and movies in which lusty, male background singing was par for the course. Rene died on Gautama's enlightenment day (some say): Dec. 8. As kids, we imagined we too might be as lusty and manful and sword-swinging. And, of course, sing about it.

Slow it down. Iron it out. Talk about the past because, enfin, it is the past and as such, is apparently confined and ready for shipment into the present.

My teacher's teacher, Soen Nakagawa Roshi once commented, "There is birth and there is death. In between is enlightenment."

Somehow things were and remain more fitting.

Feels like an ahhhhhhh, somehow.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

the search for wisdom

The search for wisdom is a fool's errand.

But since, in the gentler sense, we are all fools... well ... do you have something better to do?

Organize your sock drawer?

Iron your brocade?


Isn't it time to live up to at lease some expectations?

Friday, December 6, 2019


Shinto priest Kiyoshi Miyasaka displays a photo he took in 2006 that shows a phenomenon called omiwatari, or the crossing of the gods, which occurs when Lake Suwa freezes over and two sheets of ice collide.
Found this Reuters piece a tranquil and evocative meditation.

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Taken from the internet
For once, the forecast for a winter storm that slipped east over the weekend lived up to specs -- six to eight or more inches of snow it seems. It's winter. Lotsa snow.

Long day yesterday doing doctor stuff. Tiring. At around 2:30 a.m., I realized I wasn't going to get back to sleep so I turned on the TV. There was some amateurish soft-core porn to while away the time.

Strange to see the beginnings of movies with a whole lot of stamps of warning and approval. "Brief nudity," "some violence," "adult content...."

Is there really any "adult content" any more? What constitutes "adult content" -- is it a bare bum, uncovered breasts, grinding hips ... the red flags all seem to hark back to more sedate and clothed times. Naked bodies hardly seems worth a nod -- "sexy" after all relates to the coverings, not the uncoveredness. Plunging necklines, popular lately, are being replaced ... how far can anyone 'plunge' before you run out of plunging space and it's time to re-cover and start all over?

I guess the final step will be penises, but when a body is entirely naked, it's just naked, isn't it? Sometimes sexy sometimes not ...

Sunday, December 1, 2019

an era of perpetual rug burn

Catullus: "Ave atque vale."
Donald Trump, erstwhile president of the United States, made a trip to be with the troops in Afghanistan on this just-passed weekend. Congress headed home for a holiday break in the midst of impeachment hearings that are threatening to wear out even the most caring democrat.

Skitter-skattered along the news wires I skim, like left-over confetti from last night's party, there are the Joe Six-Packs and oenophiles alike saying what I certainly feel -- it's all too much. Everyone's divided.
Benito Mussolini
The sense of one-ness that might underpin an impeachment hearing is missing in action and hence Donald Trump -- savvy liar. moral coward, and ignoramus extraordinaire -- shows signs of winning. Touching base with what might be patriots in Afghanistan, lining up the troops who may prove necessary to his cause -- the blood cause, the new civil war, the rise of ignorance, Trump, like Mussolini and other dictators, touches base with the guys and gals who have the guns.

But it's so damned tiring ... and not just because I am an old fart, a skim of the wires suggests. The rich get richer. The poor get poorer. And Donald Trump, the purveyor of bleah, may be the only salvation. Where is George Carlin when we need him most?

Ave atque vale!

An era of perpetual rug burn.

I, like others (boozers and non-boozers alike) seek some healing... and, as mis-attributed to P.T. Barnum, "there's a sucker born every minute." Me too -- another sucker. Trump engineered the era. A money man. And just look at those who aided and abetted him. Love my country? Horseshit!

Thursday, November 28, 2019

tusk hunters unearth "dogor"

Doggone it! How an 18,000-year-old puppy could change everything we know about dogs

Dogor was two months old when he died and has been well preserved in the Siberian ice. But is he an early modern wolf – or one of the world’s very oldest domesticated dogs?

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

gene-edited babies?

Glad to think someone -- in this case The Guardian?/Associated Press, I guess, is keeping an eye this one 
Chinese scientist He Jiankui shocked the world by claiming he had helped make the first gene-edited babies. One year later, mystery surrounds his fate as well as theirs.
He has not been seen publicly since January, his work has not been published and nothing is known about the health of the babies.
“That’s the story — it’s all cloaked in secrecy, which is not productive for the advance of understanding,” said Stanford bioethicist Dr. William Hurlbut.
He talked with Hurlbut many times before He revealed at a Hong Kong science conference that he had used a tool called CRISPR to alter a gene in embryos to try to help them resist infection with the AIDS virus. The work, which He discussed in exclusive interviews with The Associated Press, was denounced as medically unnecessary and unethical because of possible harm to other genes and because the DNA changes can pass to future generations.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

new stuff

My daughter and her husband are adopting a dog... Sugar ... a beagle... hales from Arkansas and is thus pronounced without the 'r' I gather ... "shuga." They plan to pick up the dog Friday next in Maine.

My older son is settling down with his live-with into a newish used house in Marietta, Ga.

My younger son keeps a stony silence about his interview upcoming with the UMass police department. Waiting is always 90% of the battle.

On the porch, my wife discovered a birds nest in the making and shooed it away. I see no reason not to share the porch with the birds, but my wife finds it invasive.

I want to apologize to the birds, but it's too late now.

On the TV, a tale teller made a distinction between telling tales and joining the political fray to re-arrange or reform the tale. I like the distinction. Tale telling is not the same as the need to do something about the content of that tale.

As for example the incomplete tale of Catafalque Rambassoon, whose body was found a presumed day or two after his death. His layout was as neat as he had planned it. Catafalque lay smooth in bed. Sheets, coverlet ... everything neat. He knew he was on the lip of something new and had instructed Ermina, the woman who came Tuesdays to clean: If anything was out of alignment, would she please rearrange it so as to make the least possible splash in death. Ermina, a woman who was not afraid of death, followed his wishes and tucked in Catafalque's left foot under the covers from which it peeked. Catafalque was a man of neatness, both on the bed and off. A so his body was found, smooth as warmed honey, lying supine where he lay.

Likewise the pocket detritus on the bedstand table -- a pocket watch, a silver quarter, a .32 caliber live round whose copper and brass were scratched here and there to the brilliance of raw metal
... and the rest was dulled from riding so long in his pocket. Catafalque -- who chose his first name when he was 10, wanted the bed-stand to tell a tale or two, though which tale, precisely, he was never entirely precise.

Good to her word, Ermina tucked the errant foot under the coverlet, smoothed the sheets, smiled at the corpse, and called the authorities. The authorities came, pronounced Catafalque dead, which struck Ermina as slightly silly, and leveraged the body into an ambulance that was currently not being used.

At 10, Catafalque had taken his father at his word and chosen a given name that seemed to gambol with the family moniker. At 10, the choice boiled down to a flip of the quarter ... heads for "Fontainebleau" and tails for "Catafalque."

One thing was for sure, he wasn't going to stick with the name on his birth certificate, "Chauncey." And so, for 70+ or minus years ... he had become Catafalque, a nice enough man who preferred the poetry and roll of names. A smooth man who had died, to all appearances and with Ermina's help, smoothly.

Rambassoon, a name out of the deep Pacific Ocean, far from "far away." "Ulyanov" was a name toyed with but carried too much baggage. So, "Fontainebleau" or "Catfalque" and the quarter chose "Catafalque." ... chosen at 10 years old. Smooth and oiled and quiet on the tracks of the announcement, "Catafalque Rambassoon."

And a single live round amid the various bits of lint.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

feeding frenzies on Atlantic shores

I have yet to find the news outlet that ignores U.S. gryrations on the presidential impeachment front in the same way the rest of the world appears to be. That on the one hand. And, across the pond, winkle out a news outlet that is not chasing its tail on the on-again-off-again exit of Britain from the European Union. (Brexit)

Where is the rest of the news. I can't keep up with the impeachment players.
I can't keep up with the Brexit players.
The feeding frenzy on both sides of the Atlantic suggests to me that Turkey and Israel have open season on their lesser opponents. China, of course, keeps its head down and keeps on keepin' on.

Imagine that: Bibi Netanyahu and Donald Trump swept back into office. Plausible deniability. The oligarchs get what they want and the rest of us get ....

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

people given a taste of hibernation

Humans put into suspended animation for first time
Groundbreaking trial in US rapidly cools trauma victims with catastrophic injury to buy more time for surgery.....
Nasa considers that full-on hibernation for interstellar travel is still a distant prospect. The US space agency is instead investigating ways of putting astronauts into a torpor, so reducing their metabolism for extended periods.

Friday, November 15, 2019

dumb is preferable?

Worth observing?

A question I don't know how to state clearly ... but something like this:

In a comedy movie, perhaps, a rap-happy black person comes head to head with a well-educated white person. The comedy rests on the fact that the well-educated (wo)man struggles to bring his or her lingo in sych with the black person's rap. The flubs are endless.

I can think of zero instances in which the rat-a-tat-tat rapper attempts to bring his or her linguistic abilities to align with the educated (wo)man's capacities.

This needs to be stated more clearly and I can't seem to do it. The dumber version invariably wins out. The smarter version is left to languish. Why is the one acceptable and even funny, while the other is not?

This needs to be brushed off and clarified. I feel inadequate to the task and yet think it is an interesting social question. Why is dumber better or more acceptable or whatever?

Why is "nucular" acceptable when the word is "nuclear," for a small side-light example. Why is "ast" OK when the word is "ask?"

There's a question in here somewhere ....

I'll come back to it, perhaps.

journalistic dream team

It's the second day of "impeachment" hearings in Washington. They're rioting in South America. Hong Kong awaits the iron fist of China. It's all important, but I have a hell of a time detemining what, exactly, "it" is.

Jeepers, creepers.

Since fantasy football is acceptable these days, I thought I would start compiling a fantasy news team -- a grouping of people who remain somehow top-drawer in my ill-informed book.

1. Mark Shields -- a reporter's reporter.
2. Rachel Maddow -- a woman who seems never to run out of ways to ask the question without ever stating it: "Are you shitting me?!"

The rest of the reportorial prairie seems to be peopled by well-made-up and well-paid players who have good dentists. I guess there are others that belong on my list, and perhaps I will add to it, but these two strike me as remaining true to some form of journalistic quality... and a willingness to smile or even laugh.

Connect the dots, and do it in mouth-sized portions.

I don't really understand: Don't I get to understand what the fuck is going on?

Is it possible that a latter-day version of the "Valentine's Day Massacre" is needed ... just take 'em out behind the barn and shoot 'em.

Sunday, November 10, 2019

details, details.....

Ever notice ? --

1. Horses ridden in western adventure movies are uniformly spic and span, whereas anyone who has ever curried a horse knows it gathers caked-on shit on its flanks and some portion of the belly before it is dutifully scrubbed. Tack, though harder to see, is also spiffy with much care and little use.

2. The underside of human shoes in TV movies are almost always a brand-new-leather color between the heel and where the toe-portion of the sole hits the ground.

3. Autos out of the 1930's 1940's and 1950's(and earlier/later) in retro movies almost never show a spot of mud or slush .... always in spanking-new, perfectly-waxed condition.

I'd like to get paid as much as the worker who gets a paycheck and yet overlooks such details or cannot get the changes past cost-conscious executives.