POOKIE FOR PRESIDENT:
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1917 October 24:The battle of Caporetto begins in which the
The Italian commander Marshal Luigi Cadorna prepared for the battle by sacking 217 generals, 255 colonels and 355 battalion commanders. He also believed that soldiers fought better out of fear than out of commitment resulting in his troops intense hatred of him. He assembled his forces in a defensive line with no mobile reserves. As a result when the Central Powers launched the world’s first blitzkrieg there were no forces to move into action at the point of the breakthrough. Finally, he firmly believed that the place for a general was far enough behind the lines to be safely out of danger and mobile enough to be able to retreat faster than the rest of his army.
As a result the Italian army dissolved, losing over 300,000 men. Marshall Luigi was fired instead of shot, which only proves how much better it is to be a member of the ruling class than say a trooper who Marshall Luigi would have had shot for faltering in an advance into the throat of machine-gun fire. As a result over 250,000 Italian troops immediately surrendered as soon as the enemy blitzkrieg broke through their lines.
Ernest Hemingway in his novel “A Farewell to Arms,” immortalized the battle.
TODAY’S NEWS FROM (
Tamai is a tiny but apparently prosperous village nestled among the cornfields about six kilometers or so from Sacile. I was told that its name is derived from the sheds that populated the area at a time when the land thereabout was useful for little more than grazing cattle. The sheds were used to drive the cattle into to feed and from which the resulting dung was collected to be processed into fertilizer. Thus Tamai could be translated as “Town of the Cow Sheds” or I guess even “Cow Shit Village.”
Anyway we arrived at the “Farm.” It consisted of about 10 acres of which about two-thirds was planted in the cash crop for the area, corn. The main house, the various farm buildings and sheds, a chicken coop and extensive garden in which the family grew all their fruit and vegetable needs and some of their aesthetic needs in the form of a large variety of flowers occupied the remainder of the property.
I was introduced to the family that lived on the farm and learned that SWAC actually had never stayed with them before but had learned of their existence from one of our employees at our bar in Thailand whose mother had married our host. SWAC previously had visited them briefly while spending a few weeks with a wealthy italian boyfriend in nearby Sacile. This I assumed she believed qualified her to impose upon them for shelter and sustenance for the better part of a month. I also learned that she did not know their names and referred to the Thai woman and her italian husband only as Mama and Papa. I later learned their actual names were Anita and Vittorio.
Living in the house in addition to the aforementioned Anita and Vittorio were and older man and woman referred to as Nono and Nona. I still do not know if they were Vittorio’s parents or aunt and uncle.
Nono is 87 years old and extremely vigorous putting in full days working on the farm. He speaks with the gravelly voice of Brando’s Godfather and seems to see humor in everything. For example he laughed uproariously when I struck my head on a branch I was trying to duck under. During the Second World War he served in the Italian Army under German command on the eastern front in Russia. With the collapse of the Italian Fascist Regime in 1943, he along with most of the Italian soldiers fighting on that front were arrested by the Nazi’s. He spent the remainder of the war in various labor camps in Poland until liberated by the Americans before they were ordered to vacate the land in favor of the Russian Army.
Nono is also one of those fortunate creatures who always manages to look well dressed no matter what he wears. Where most of us tend generally to look a bit like an unmade bed, Nono, even in his work clothes consisting of a straw had, a Thai floral shirt, culottes and sandals, always looks like he just stepped out of a gentleman’s magazine (if there were a gentleman’s magazine for men over 70). When I used to be able to afford Brioni, Kiton or bespoke suits, Church or Ferragamo shoes and various designer shirts, ties and the like, I still managed to look like a basket full of soiled laundry.
Nona on the other-hand looks very much the farmers wife with her sack dress. She spends much of her day working in the garden primarily tending the tomatoes that are ripening nicely.
Both Nono and Nona when they are not working the grounds or gathered with the rest of the family for meals, spend their time occupied, pencil in hand, unraveling problems in various puzzle books.
Living also at the house is a 70-year-old or so women who is Vittorio’s aunt. Although she does not exhibit any of the physical deformities of those retarded from birth, nevertheless she seems to have terminated intellectual growth when she was about six. I do not know if it was genetic or caused by injury or disease. She is also a third stage diabetic and requires two shots of insulin every day as well as constant monitoring of her blood sugar levels. At dinner time, while the family is gathered around the table and before starting to eat, instead of saying grace, we watch Vittorio administer her evening insulin shot.
She always has lived with the family and their relationship is characterized by a lot of shouting (I assure you from experience, a common trait among italian families. We tend to be a loud race) as the family members try to get her to do those things, such as exercise (on an Exercycle on the porch), drink lots of water and avoiding fried foods necessary to keep her diabetes under control.
She tends to shriek rather than talk and Hayden who is a bit of a mimic has learned to copy her shriek and they seem to spend several more of less happy hours together during the day screeching at one another.
SWAC has told Hayden that the aunt is “not 100%,” so he now refers to her as the “100% lady” as he, like me, does not know her actual name.
Anita has two daughters from a prior liaison, one who used to work at Ava, married an American man and moved to Rochester NY. They subsequently divorced but she continued to live in Rochester, why, I have no idea. Her other daughter is married to a Thai man and has two children. They live in Italy nearby to the farm and visit almost every day. Anita also has a twenty something year old daughter with Vittorio. She looks more italian than a full-blooded italian with her unfeigned indolent sensuousness and permanent pout.
Vittorio is a wonderful 50 something farm boy, generally quiet and gentle. He always lived within a few miles of the farm, served as a Marine in the italian army, plays the Tuba in several local ensembles, all in all one of earths good guy’s. He retired last year from whatever work he was doing to supplement his farm income and loves to tell everyone, “I work to live, not live to work.”
It addition to the people and chickens the farm supports a tribe of feral cats and two dogs, actually more insects than dog. I truly believe I have discovered a new species indigenous to the farm, Canis Insectai. Luckily, like mules they are unable to breed otherwise they may be discovered by celebrities as fashionably grotesque pets and flood the world with them causing the human race to die out from revulsion.
One of the insect-dogs has patches of something that looks like a cross between used toilet paper and rusty wire that passes for hair or fur while the other has several teeth missing so that his tongue hangs grotesquely out of the side of its face. I, who am an inveterate dog petter, never missing the opportunity to scratch behind the ears or under the chin of just about any dog I come across even at times the Soi dogs of Bangkok, have not touched these creatures for fear it is catching. (to be continued…)
PAPA JOES TALES AND FABLES:
JOEY’S MYSTERY NOVEL:
Vince looked up from examining the piece of note paper in the transparent evidence envelope the sheriff had placed on the desk in front of him, stared into Megs milky blue crazed eyes and said, “I haven’t the slightest Idea why she wrote this. I only know that yesterday she asked me to meet with her sometime today.” He realized too late that he had violated one of the rules every attorney learns by the time he finishes law school, never volunteer information unless you already know how it will benefit you.
“Well,” said the well endowed Sheriff smiling slightly, “perhaps you can educate me on what this meeting was to be about.”
“Uhh… I have no idea. She did not say.”
“Come now Mr. Biondi,” she said sounding more and more like a parity of a bad television crime show detective, “you must have some idea. Could it have been something about the recent death of her husband or perhaps something you and he were up to?”
Vince now felt himself getting angry at this muscle-bound Barbie Doll and was about to say something thoughtless in response when to his surprise he heard Ray’s voice asking a question.
“Sheriff” he inquired, “would you mind if I took a photograph of this note?”
Megs turned her head towards him and stared as though he had somehow just crawled through the transom. “Why,” she growled?
“I thought maybe we could save the County some money and have the handwriting analyzed. It seems pretty unusual all shaky ant the like. If we find it was not written by her that could change the focus of your investigation.” He stared back at her a broad innocent smile on his face.
After a few moments her stoney face softened, a slight smile appeared on her face. “Thank you, I think that may be a good idea.”
Ray took a small,l but to Vince a complex, looking digital camera from a large pocket in his camouflaged cargo pants and a six inch ruler. The ruler he carefully placed along side the note then snapped a series of photo’s, returned the camera and the ruler to his pocket, leaned back and smiled again at Megs. “Thank you.”
Megs smiled as though she had just received a birthday present.
Once again Vince found himself wondering at his own reactions. On the one hand he was relieved that Megs attention had swung from him to Ray. On the other hand he was nonplussed that Ray seemed to handle the situation better that he did. Finally, he was a bit jealous of Ray’s obvious effect on women.
“Well, Mr. Biondi,” she said, “I guess we will just wait to resume our conversation until your kind associate produces his report.”
As they walked down the steps outside the sheriff’s office. Ray noticed a tall thin man in a tee-shirt and jeans taking their picture. He quickly ran across the street toward the man, took the camera from his pocket and began snapping photographs of the man who in turn shot photographs at him, until the skinny photographer retreated to a late-model silver Lexus and drove off.
Ray returned to the stupefied Vince.
“I find that usually scares them off for a while,” he said.
a. Eponymous laws:
Hanlon’s razor — A corollary of Finagle’s law, and a play on Occam’s razor, normally taking the form, “Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.” As with Finagle, possibly not strictly eponymous. Alternately, “Do not invoke conspiracy as an explanation when ignorance and incompetence will suffice, since conspiracy implies intelligence.”
(Don’t let Fox News hear about this.)
b. Testosterone Chronicles:
Researchers found that, “young male” CEOs — younger than 45 — “are more likely than older men or women to both initiate and kill M&A deals.” And they concluded that it was testosterone that caused that behavior.
Testosterone decreases in men as they age, which is another interesting fact in itself.
c. Department of abasement, apology and correction:
“Cow Shit Village” can never be considered and appropriate translation for Tamai. I was just having some fun.
Hayden, the 100% lady and Nono and Nona working on their puzzles.