TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
Halloween came and went leaving behind a bag of assorted candies through which I rummage several times a day searching for a piece of chocolate that I then happily devour.
Halloween I spent at a remote subdivision in Cameron Park, a town a bit further into the foothills than El Dorado Hills. There I watched greedy little children and some adolescents rush from house to house begging for candy, oblivious to anything else. The residents of the subdivision took their Halloween seriously. They sat costumed in their driveways beside large bonfires and behind tables burdened with candies for the children and drinks for the adults. Huge automatons (e.g. a twelve-foot tall animated figure of the Headless Horseman) and sculptures, emerging from the fogs of mist making machines stood blinking and moving awkwardly on the lawns.
Fall has finally come to the foothills. The yellow-leaved trees have now come out among the red. The lawns and streets fill up with fallen brown leaves. As I walk along the breeze twists the leaves from the branches and they drift on to the lawns and streets like slow motion snow. Yellow, orange, red and brown the colors of Autumn. I guess I could describe the scientific process by which the leaves turn color or the metaphors it represents but I leave that to the reader. To me fall has never meant an ending but a fulfillment. Perhaps the drunken poet was wrong and we should go softly into that dark night. Nah, what would be the purpose of that? You might as well scream. It will be the last chance you get.
It is quite chilly on the mornings but in the afternoons it warms up enough for me to still sit on the porch in the sun and drift off to sleep.
I spend my days now a bit like a part-time messenger, picking up or dropping off things for Dick or Hayden. I find it quite enjoyable. Traveling here and there, spending a few moments on whatever business I was directed to do and then traveling on. Hermes, the messenger of the gods, had a pretty good gig.
A few days ago I learned that, distressingly Triple H has slipped completely into the dark side. After conning me out of a few dollars on bets he could not lose, I overheard him on the telephone cadge some more money from SWAC in order to buy LEGO kits and SKYLANDER characters. Following his phone call he turned to me and said, “I am a money ninja. I do not give up until they agree just to be rid of me.” I thought it was time for some parental guidance on the subject, but I was so shocked I did not know what to say.
My doctor just told me that I need to stop spending so much time alone and need to get out more and socialize. In the interim he increased my happy pill dosage.
JOEY’S NEW MYSTERY NOVEL:
ENTER THE DRAGON
She stopped about 10 feet from our car. “Where are you going,” she said?
“Uh, my name is Matthew Dragoni, I’m an attorney and accompanying my client to meet with someone.”
“I know who you are. Who are you planning to meet with?
It came back to me. She was the Deputy Sheriff that had something to do with the investigation of the unpleasantness at my ex law firm a few years back. I could not remember her name and I could not read her name tag pinned to her uniform. A second uniform detached itself from the group standing by the house and began walking toward us just as the doors to the Ambulance were slammed shut and the emergency personnel jumped into the front seats.
“Uh, look here sheriff,” the name came back to me, Meg, something or other, Polan I think. “I am happy to answer your questions but I really have to know what this is all about.”
Mavis who had rolled down the rear window now shouted “Oh my God, has something happened to Mark?”
“Please get out of the car all of you,” Meg ordered. She placed her hand on her gun just as the second Deputy arrived and the Ambulance took off and headed our way, lights flashing and siren screaming.
“Ok, kids get out slowly hands where they can see them, I said to my passengers. “From here on Mavis please shut up,” I warned sotto voce.
The ambulance passed the two officers and disappeared over the rise. “Ok were getting out,” I shouted. “But I still insist in knowing what this is all about.”
As soon as we got out of the call Meg turned towards Mavis and asked, “What is your relationship to this… ah Mark.”
I quickly put my hand on Mavis’ shoulder to stop her from talking and said, “You know better than that deputy.”
After some back and forth we agreed to give statements to the police which scrupulously avoided mention of dope, suicides, Martin Vihn and furniture shipments. In return we learned that Mark Holland had been found behind the house shot. Later reports had him in a deep coma. A neighbor had heard what sounded like a shot or car backfire and a car driving rapidly away. He then left his house nearby with his dog it order to investigate and to attend to some dog business. He saw nothing except Mark lying there and then called the police on his smart phone. Among the things Meg asked in addition to whether we knew why anyone would want to harm Mark, was whether any of us knew whether Mark was dealing dope. We denied knowledge of everything. Meg did not appear to believe us. It took about four hours to finish giving our statements at the scene. On the way back to the car she took me aside.
“So you left the big firm, I heard,” she said. “Yeah,” I answered. “I wanted to associate with a better class of people.” She smiled briefly. “I can understand that.” “You know,” she added. “I don’t believe you are telling me all you know. If I find out that you are not, I’ll make sure you lose both your law license and investigators license.”
“We’ve given you accurate statements,” I said. “But I’ll call you tomorrow after I look into some things.”
“Why not tell me now and I’ll look into them too?” she responded.
“It’s your ass on the line.”
“It won’t be the first time.”
We left the scene and returned to The City mostly in silence. Mavis indicated she wanted to spend some time alone so we dropped her off at her apartment. Joe wanted to report to Martin personally and drove me to my apartment where I took a nap and then prepared for my dinner with the widow.
2013: “Today, when we produce more food than ever before, more than one in ten people on Earth are hungry. The hunger of 800 million happens at the same time as another historical first: that they are outnumbered by the one billion people on this planet who are overweight.”
Raj Patel. Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Power and the Hidden Battle for the World’s Food System.
2013: According to a study of the data acquired by Nasa’s Kepler Telescope there are almost nine billion earth like planets in our galaxy capable of sustaining life including one only 14 light-years away.
So where is everyone?
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
Here’s an abstract of a study by the Department of Psychology of UC Berkeley that support the conclusion: Higher social class predicts increased unethical behavior:
“Seven studies using experimental and naturalistic methods reveal that upper-class individuals behave more unethically than lower-class individuals. In studies 1 and 2, upper-class individuals were more likely to break the law while driving, relative to lower-class individuals. In follow-up laboratory studies, upper-class individuals were more likely to exhibit unethical decision-making tendencies (study3), take valued goods from others (study4), lie in a negotiation (study 5), cheat to increase their chances of winning a prize (study6), and endorse unethical behavior at work (study 7) than were lower-class individuals. Mediator and moderator data demonstrated that upper-class individuals’ unethical tendencies are accounted for, in part, by their more favorable attitudes toward greed.”
B. Testosterone Chronicles:
From some guy named Hickman:
“When Lorena Bobbitt cut off her husband’s penis, it spawned a “worldwide phenomenon,” says Hickman. “Across America, and from China to Peru, copycat cases began to occur, with Thailand becoming the epicenter: By the end of the millennium, over a hundred cases had been reported to Thai police, who admitted there were probably many more but the victims preferred to keep their loss to themselves.” Hickman reports cases of women feeding dismembered penises to farm-life and one wife in India who attached her husband’s severed member to a helium balloon.
C. Tales of Inhumanity:
“Khristya Chunyak, a forty-year-old peasant woman from the village of Krasilovka, in the Brovarsky district of the Kiev oblast, told me how Germans in Brovary were escorting a Jewish doctor, Feldman, to be executed.
This doctor, an old bachelor, had adopted two peasant orphans. The locals were very fond of him. A crowd of peasant women ran to the German commandant crying and pleading for Feldman’s life to be saved. The commandant felt obliged to give in to the women’s pleas. This was in the autumn of 1941.
Feldman continued to live in Brovary and treat the local peasants. He was executed in the spring of this year. Khristya Chunyak sobbed and finally burst into tears as she described to me how the old man was forced to dig his own grave. He had to die alone. There were no other Jews alive in the spring of 1943.
Vasily Grossman in the Ukraine with the advancing Red Army discovers what the Germans did in Kazary.
D. A Blast From the Past: Danny and the Tale of Prince Heimlich.
So, last night, at bed time, I continued telling the series of stories to Hayden that I had begun about two years ago when he was six. The stories concerned the adventures of Danny (Hayden’s alter ego) and his trusty pony Acorn (who Hayden now and then rides whenever we visit the ranch owned by our friends Bill and Naida).
Danny was resting at an oasis in the desert following his besting of “The Old Man Under the Mountain.” With him were his two friends; “The Black Knight,” a gorilla (Whose alter ego, a cuddly toy that Hayden insists share my bed) who is “The World’s Strongest Knight” and rides a white horse with brown spots like a cow and is called appropriately “White-brownie or Brown-whitey,” and; “The White Knight Who Used to be ‘The Old Man who Dressed Like a Beggar’ and was The Worlds Most Powerful Magician,” until Danny, in the throne room of the Green Castle, defeated him in a duel of magic aided by “The Monster Who Lives in the Closet and Who Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags,” and turned him into a mouse.
In order for Danny and The Black Knight to escape from the dungeon of the “Old Man Under the Mountain,” Danny, again with the aid of “The Monster who lives in the Closet but Now Lives in Acorn’s Saddlebags” turned him from a mouse into a young handsome human except with less magical power so that his full name now became, “The White Knight Who Used to be an Old Man Dressed Like a Beggar and the Worlds Most Powerful Magician Until he was Turned into a Mouse and Then into A Young Man who was Not a so Powerful Magician.” The White Knight rode a black horse named, “Blackie.”
They had just finished dinner and were drinking their milk while staring into the campfire when a troop of musicians and actors who were camping nearby came by and offered to put on a performance for the famous Knights.
The knights agreed that they would enjoy that and the chief musician tuned up his Lute and began his song by introducing his main protagonist a skinny boy of indeterminate age named “Heimlich.” Heimlich lived in a not so great but good enough castle in a dreary country somewhere that was always foggy. Heimlich was sad because his father, who was called “Pruneberry the King of the Castle” (and, if truth be known, King of little else) had just died. In addition almost before the body became cold or whatever it is body’s become after its inhabitant dies, his mother “Natasha Dewlap” married Heimlich’s uncle, “Julius Caesar” (we both thought that was a very funny name).
Anyway, Heimlich and his friend (who strangely did not have a name but it could just as well been something as ridiculous and “Guildenstern” or “Rosencrantz” or even “Miracle Max”) one evening, for some unknown reason, decided to go to visit the grave site where Pruneberry was buried. Along the way they came upon a pile of bones and a skull. Heimlich thought the skull reminded him of “Mortimer” his old kindergarten teacher.
Anyway Heimlich’s friend decided to return home after they discovered the bones because he was a sensible lad and was creeped out by the bones and Heimlich’s weirdness. Heimlich went on by himself.
When Heimlich arrived at the gravesite, a Ghost popped out and said, “Heimlich I am your father, Pruneberry and I was killed by Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar who put poison up my nose while I was asleep.”
At this point Hayden asked me, “How can a ghost speak after he died?”
“A keen observation,” I acknowledged. “That is why Heimlich did not believe him and went back home.”
The next morning, as coincidence and fairy tales have it, a group of traveling actors came by the castle and asked Heimlich if he would like to have them perform a play. Maybe, Heimlich, thought, if they perform Pruneberry’s death like the Ghost told it in front of Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar one of them would be reminded and say something like, “Say that looks familiar,” and Heimlich would then know what the Ghost said perhaps could have been true.
And so the traveling players put on the show and at just the right moment, Julius Caesar turned to Natasha Dewlap and said, “Say Natty does this look familiar to you?” At which point Heimlich became furious and drove Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar out of the castle where they were forced to live in a tent and sell apples and rutabagas to passers-by.
Hayden then asked me, “What are rutabagas?”
I said, “I did not know.”
Heimlich, thereafter spent every day alone in the little castle in that dismal country with his furry white cat named “Snowy,” looking out of his window and down upon Natasha Dewlap and Julius Caesar trying to sell their apples and rutabaga to passers-by, except for once a year when the troop of actors came by and they had a party. The End.
I then told Hayden that the actors would perform another tale for the Three Knights that I would tell him about tomorrow (I was already working on a children’s version of King Lear). But, Hayden asked me if Danny was ever going to go back home to visit his mom who lived in the cottage by the “Deep Dark Wood,” before setting out on another adventure. He thought it would be a good idea if he did.
I told him that Danny told the musicians that he would not listen to the story because he needed to get a good nights sleep so that tomorrow he would be well rested for his trip back through the “Deep Dark Wood’” to visit his mom.
“Marriage after all was invented primarily to make sure that those with enough resources for it to matter who agree to live together know how those resources are used and who gets them if one party dies and where the eager lovers overlooked entering into whatever version of a prenuptial agreement available at the time. (Kings and Queens have always entered pre-nups of one source or another. It was included in the dowry, especially when the dowry contained say a kingdom.) Love never had anything to do with it.”
” The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservatives, ethnic groups as the move into the middle class do so also. The gay community is now free to vote Republican without shame while the black community is prevented from voting even if they are Republican. And worse of all, the seven and eight year olds of our nation seem to have been indoctrinated in many of our schools to hate others as well as to despise science.
We progressives can slap ourselves on the back all we want, but as usual we often fail to grasp the grim realities of politics that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better funded, equipped and trained while all too often all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun while we wait for popular support that never comes.”