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!