Monthly Archives: February 2016

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 12 Papa Joe 0004 (September 30. 2015)

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“Like most people raised on American movies, I have poor access to my emotions but can banter like a motherfucker.”
—Josh Bazell, Wild Thing

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

We had a small party at the house for Dick’s (Uncle Mask) birthday before he, SWAC and a few others went out to dinner to celebrate.
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The boy in the yellow shirt is Jake, co-producer of “The Haystack Show.”

This week I have my cataract operation on my right eye. I look forward to it — not just because it will help me see better but also because it is something to do — taking the medicines, following the rules, arranging for the appointments — like a short-time job.

Boredom is not the same as depression. True, they both produce brain-freeze — a state in which people so inflicted usually ignore those things that could relieve their predicament. In both states, one can stare aimlessly at nothing for a long time, but the bored are not particularly unhappy — annoyed probably, but not unhappy. Alas, we have pills for depression, but not for boredom.

I have taken to leaving the house often while it is being prowled by the malicious spirit. At those times, I take refuge in coffee houses where I drink various caffeinated beverages, play with my computer or read bad novels until my mind shuts down. I then usually go swimming. There I paddle back and forth in the pool while endorphins or whatever drives consciousness from my mind until I snap back after slamming my head against the edge of the pool. Thereafter, I go home and take a nap. I seem to be spending a good portion of my days in varying degrees of unconscious. I could try dope, but I guess this is healthier.

On the weekend, we attended the Reptile Show in Sacramento. It was more interesting than I expected. They even had a petting zoo for the children complete with a full sized live alligator and a Komodo Dragon.

While HRM created a video for his YouTube program, “The Haystack Show,” I spent most of my time wandering around and wondering why many of the women in the booths displaying the various snakes and lizards for sale were heavily tattooed while the men were not.
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That is a live lizard above Uncle Mask’s head.

The operation on my right eye was uneventful. I found the anesthetic wonderful and asked the doctor if I could take some home with me. He said I also would have to take the nurse along in order to administer it. Although I agreed to the suggestion, the nurse demurred saying, “Honey, you couldn’t afford me.” She’s probably right. Anyway, I can now see clearly out of that eye without glasses.

One evening, we drove to the top of the hill to view the Blood Moon Lunar Eclipse. A few clouds obscured most of it. That was a shame since I probably will not be here in 2033 when the next one comes around.
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The sky above the Golden Hills just before the rise of the Blood Moon.

Marcel Proust observed that ”Experiences are less real when you have them than when you either remember them or imagine them” — alas, the story of my life.

Proust is one of my heroes. He spent most of his adult life lying in bed writing his great book “Remembrance of Things Past.” I too spend a lot of my life in bed. Regrettably, I rarely write. Instead, I lament over things past, read bad novels and peruse Facebook posts by my so-called friends. Other times, I sleep and dream.

Proust was prodigiously self-absorbed. He wrote thirty pages about how he moves about in bed. Try as I might, I could never match his preoccupation with himself. My goal nonetheless, is someday to lie in my bed so captivated with myself, I fall into a coma.

Proust had many opinions about sex, but quite limited actual knowledge. He used to hire young boys to come into his room to stand at the foot of his bed and masturbate. If he found the experience arousing enough, he would join in. I, on the other hand, am not into sex with little boys, or grown men for that matter — unless, I guess, in the case of adults that have tits (as that great observer of life, “Ted,” opined, “there are no chicks with dicks only guys with tits.”) This probably makes me a social recidivist. How wonderful that future world will be when we get to boink without shame with whomever agrees to boink with us.

Anyway, unlike Proust whose mom left him a lot of money, a house, and her bed for him sleep in, I cannot afford to hire anyone to stand at the foot of my bed for any reason. So, I have to content myself with production value deficient porn videos that inevitably leave my computer rife with malware — remembrance of things past indeed.
B. BOOK REPORT:

Suggestions for Books about Bangkok:

Like New York and a few other cities, Bangkok has been a treasure trove fo stories about the city’s teeming underside. Even the city’s most fashionable hotel, The Oriental, has a wing dedicated to some of the world’s greatest novelists who resided there and wrote about Southeast Asia and the City astride the Chao Phraya River that sits at its center. Writers like Somerset Maugham, Graham Green, Joseph Conrad and others all have suites in the hotel named for them.

That tradition remains alive today through such well-known authors as John Burdett, Stephen Leather, Timothy Hallinan, Colin Cotterill, Jake Needham, Colin Piprell and James Eckhardt.

Books by several Thai authors who also have deeply explored life in Thailand as well as Bangkok’s urban jungle have been translated into other languages. These include, “Mad Dog and Co.” by Chart Korbjitti (translated into English by Marcel Barang, himself an author of a novel set in Bangkok as well as the non-fiction, “Twenty Best Novels of Thailand”); “The Tin Mine” by Archin Panchapan; “Sightseeing” by Rattawut Laparoensap; and “Jasmine Nights” by SP Somtow.

A best seller and a good read is “The Windup Girl” by Paolo Bacigalupi, a science fiction novel that delves into Bangkok’s current and future problems with flooding. It was named one of the 10 best novels of 2009

But, by far my favorite Bangkok author is Christopher G. Moore. The protagonist in a good many of his most popular books is Vincent Calvino, a half Jewish half Italian ex-lawyer who for some mysterious reason gave up practicing law in New York to become a private eye in Bangkok.

Among his many books about Bangkok and the Thai urban scene, I like best “Waiting For the Lady.” Unlike most of his other novels, it is set not in Bangkok but in Burma.

Moore’s story swirls around the Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the Chin people of Burma and a young scholar specializing in the art of the mountain tribes of Southeast Asia who along with his two longtime artist friends living in Bangkok search for a hidden hoard of Ming china.The description of the day the country’s military government released Aung San Suu Kyi after 20 years of house arrest is worth the price of the book.
C. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

1. Morality Tale:
Recently, a young American venture capitalist named Martin Shkreli purchased the patent rights for a much used HIV drug and promptly raised the price from about $15 a dose to either $700 or $5000 (I’ve seen both numbers in the press.) The young man seemed to explain his decision to trade on the lives of HIV sufferers by asserting he could make a lot of money by doing so.

Among the almost universal opprobrium that this action engendered, Steven Thrasher wrote:

“It’s easy to be angry at Shkrelli, his smug smile and his greedy choices that may well equal the deaths of those priced out from the malaria, Aids and cancer medicine they need. But Shkrelli is just a tool. He lives in a world where disaster capitalism will reward him. He now says he will make the drug “more affordable,” but the richest nation on earth can’t stop him from deciding what “affordable” will mean. He may repulse us, but he represents our American way of disastrous living. Disaster capitalism no longer just reacts to chaos for profit, or even creates chaos for profit. It creates the conditions by which the spectre of social, spiritual and biological death hang over our heads on a daily basis so oppressively, the crises become seamless.”

2. Qualifications for Leadership:
Pope Francis has all the qualifications for leadership of the Church or for US President. — He has a Masters in Chemistry, is a metalhead, rode a Harley, worked as a bouncer in a nightclub and now wears a yarmulke and a dress. Can any candidate for the US presidency today claim to be as qualified for the Presidency as Francis is to be Pope? Carly wears dresses (Hillary seems to be about the only candidate who rightfully wears pants) and Bernie has the Yarmulke, and while it is possible one or another of the candidates were metalheads and even rode a Harley now and then, could any of those running have survived even one night as a night-club bouncer?

3. SF Chronicle Headlines:

Africanized Killer Bees Reach Bay Area.
Tech Industry Panics, Flees to Vancouver.
Mountain View a Ghost Town.
San Francisco Housing Prices become Affordable Again.

 

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

For those of a scriptural bent: In the interpretation of the Gospels, Pope Francis represents the ascendancy of the Epistle of James (the brother of Jesus and Chief Priest of the Temple) over the epistles of Paul (the tax collecting, egomaniacal suppressor of the Jesus Church). When James and the other Apostles agreed to admit non-Jews into the Church they had no idea it would open the door to the rest of Paul’s theology. In response, James wrote his Epistle in order to refute Paul.

Basically. James and Jesus maintained you are not getting into Heaven by faith alone but by good works, whether or not you have “The Faith.”

If you want to put it into religious terms, politics in the US today to a great extent reflects the conflict between those who believe in faith alone whether in God or Country without concern about the fate of others and those who believe their God or Country demands a commitment to the welfare of all.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“One of the chief characteristics of an economic depression is a reduction in roundabout modes of production by a decrease in investment, although not necessarily in savings, along with a reduction in the specialization of production and exchange of products. The links in any chain of activity from the original producer to the final consumer are reduced in number; individuals retreat from very specialized activities to more general ones; the use of exchange and of money decreases.”
Quigley— Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

I’ve done boycotts of products almost all of my life (starting when my mom marched w/ Cesar Chavez to boycott grapes, then lettuce.) As I got older, I boycotted cereals owned by cigarette companies (and NO, buying more cereal doesn’t mean they’d eventually phase cigarettes out; it just subsidizes tobacco and keeps the SOB in the black).

My favorite corporate asshole is Stanley, maker of tools like tape measures, screwdrivers, etc. Well, they sure put the screws to the American taxpayers — they “moved” their “corporate headquarters” into a Post Office Box in the Bahamas or Cayman Islands . . . I don’t remember which. “60 Minutes” did a segment a number of years ago . . . and I am STILL waiting for The Obama Administration or SOMEONE to nail those bastards. I know Bernie Sanders might do that on his first day in the Oval Office. I’ll see if I can get a pledge from him to do so in his first week . . . or hours, as President.

This tax-dodging bullshit makes the United States look like the most corrupt, the most inept, and the most morally bankrupt nation in the world. And who am I to argue against that, when the evidence is piled up higher than their ill-gotten corporate tax-free profits?

 

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Crises like climate change, food sufficiency and water availability probably cannot be resolved if human population continues to increase. Hydrocarbon emissions, food consumption and water use are not increasing on a per capita basis anywhere near rate of growth in the total use of those resources. The direct approach to dealing with population growth has been to provide greater access to birth control. This is a good thing and should be continued. Still despite decades of trying, the growth of human population continues out of control. The only successful population control other than war, famine and plague has been the liberation and education of women. Wherever women are free and informed rates of population growth decline.”

D. Today’s Poem:

Rhyming Ennui

Watching blue mold on bread grow,
Spring rains, Summer’s glow,
Autumn leaves go floating by,
How many days before I die?

Some reap and others sow,
Some the whole world’s knowledge know,
I instead just sit and sigh.
How many days before I die?

E. From the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows:
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TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It’s also true that people who make the most productive contributions, the ones who make lasers or transistors, or the inventor of the computer, DNA researchers — none of these are the top wealthiest people in the country. So if you look at the people who contributed the most, and the people who are there at the top, they’re not the same.”
Joseph Stieglitz

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Summertime among the Golden Hills

 

Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 1 Papa Joe 0004 (September 20, 2015)

 

“Greed is a powerful tool for making bad things invisible”
Mather, Matthew. Darknet (p. 251).

 

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:

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Photograph of some rice paddies in China. It was taken in the morning or evening, I do not know which and published by non-profit National Geographic, soon to be the for profit “Fair and Balanced” National Geographic.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

The skies are a clear deep blue above the Golden Hills. The days are very warm. A slight breeze makes them tolerable. All in all, it seems like paradise. But, the leaves curling at their edges, the yellow lawns, and the silence tells us all is not well. Ants rush around desperate for moisture while we humans complain that we have less water to waste.

One day I went into Sacramento to wait for the car to be serviced. I had coffee at Chicory, the coffee house with the tattooed baristas that I like so much. After, I walked across the street to Capital Park. I felt a bit down for some reason. Passing by the Weeping Lawson and Mourning cypress trees did nothing to raise my spirits. They perked up, however, while I sat on a bench under a Magnolia tree in the center of the park contemplating whatevers. I love this park. It is a tree museum.

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Another day I drove down to Vallejo to deal with my grandson’s legal problems. We interviewed a highly regarded criminal law specialist. He was an impressive older man. Unfortunately, his firm represented the other defendants, so he had a conflict. Nevertheless, he spent about a half hour with us giving some background on the judge, DA and other criminal law attorneys.

While listening to him drift off into stories and insights, I began to feel I had taken a wrong road in life. When I began law school, I wanted to be a criminal defense attorney. I could not see any other purpose in being a lawyer. Throughout law school, I interned with legal aid at 125th St and Lenox Avenue in Harlem. I was there for the great Harlem riots of the early 60s.

During the riots, I traveled back and forth between Harlem and Rikers Island arranging bail and interviewing detainees. It was then I first learned the great difference between the riots, demonstrations, and crises reported by the media and its reality.

At times, during the riots, I stood on the corner of 125 and Lenox along with some of the denizens of the area, drinking coffee or something stronger. Every once in a while, a young man would detach himself from the group of young men who were shouting and chanting in the middle of the street and throw a rock at the line of cops just waiting for something like that. They would rush forward and our rock thrower would run back to the safety of his compatriots. Sometimes the rock thrower would slip and fall or be too slow and the cops would catch him beat him a few times with their billies and haul him off to the paddy wagon for the trip to Rikers. The locals on the corner with me would cheer or hoot as the case may be and then go about their business. Now and then, a garbage can would be set on fire. In the evening, the looters would come out and break the windows of a few stores. Tear-gas canisters are shot off. Often it seemed that there was more media personnel on the scene than cops or protestors. On TV that night, it would appear as though the entire area was devoured by fire and smoke with hoards of dark beings struggling with each other in the foreground. Meanwhile, away from the corner of 125th and Lenox, life continued more or less normally.

Anyway, after law school, for some reason I felt that legal aid would not be the best place for beginning my criminal law career. I also rejected the DA’s office. Instead, I joined an insurance defense firm, the lowest of the low, in order to get the maximum trial experience possible. I amassed a record of consecutive victories among the three best in NY history at the time, thereby denying justice to many people who had been injured through no fault of their own. Then things happened and my dream died. But that is a story for another time…

Back in EDH, one morning the sun came up red like blood. I later learned that there was a massive fire down near Jackson about thirty miles away southeast of us. For the next few days, the skies hung heavy with black smoke —the air filled with grit making breathing difficult. The fire is still raging as I write this but the smoke and grit has lessened.

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This is a photograph, posted on Facebook, of one of the fires devouring the State. It sort of resembles the end times, doesn’t it?

Then to make matters worse, SWAC arrived like the evil one herself, breathing fire and self-pity. I think it’s time to get out of town.

On Sundays, we have breakfast at The Train Stop in Roseville. After breakfast, we usually go to Denio’s where I look for walking sticks (with little success) and $2 Hawaiian shirts (more success here). Then we search out newly open malls or stores. Last week, we went to the new Bass Pro Shop in Rocklin. The huge store is dedicated to the sale of things usable in the type of outdoor recreation that generally involves killing, like guns, bows or fishing gear. With the disappearance from the environment of large animals and things like that, I wonder what they can use those things to kill now. It has been estimated that in about 70 years from now the human population will reach over 11 billion that is 4 billion more than we have now or more than the current population of China, India, and the US combined. Maybe everyone is just preparing for a new kind of outdoor sport…well, maybe not so new.

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Bass Pro Shop
My Kindle for Mac stopped working. Back to paper books? — Pookie the recidivist.

The sun has emerged again from the curtain of smoke. All is well again in the Golden Hills. The victims of the fires are not fortunate. The emergence of the sun does not brighten the aguish of losing ones home. I would suggest praying for them, but I believe praying usually only benefits the prayer. It helps alleviate the guilt of not doing more. On the other hand, I guess if you tell the victims that you prayed for them, it may make them feel better. Food, clothing and health services would probably make them feel even better.

Ha, I fixed my Kindle — Pookie the computer expert. Now I can help make Jeff Bezos even richer and bury myself in ebooks so that I can avoid doing anything for the victims of disasters and instead insist that government handle it — but not raise my taxes to do so. Hmm, that is a lie. I do not pay taxes so I probably will not care if they raise someone else’s.

Sometimes, in the evening, I just sit in the park.

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B. ANNOUNCEMENT — Pookie runs again.

I have decided once again to run as a write-in candidate for the Republican nomination for President. Since I abhor working hard, I decided to reissue my posts from the last time I ran, four years ago. Not much has changed except the names so I could not see any downside to repeating myself. I have republished my announcement on Facebook.

I thought I would entertain those who patiently have read this far with the campaign post that set out what I believe may be the most important issue facing the nation today:

IRONY

“Back when this great nation of ours was founded our four fathers were drinking tea, freedom’s drink, when they heard the bells and decided to leave the tea party meeting there in Boston, Massachusetts and march down to the docks to tell the British that were around there that they were not going to pay their taxes anymore.

“So all four of our founding fathers, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt, everyone a good Republican, marched right down there to those docks and wharfs. When they got there, they found the British were preparing to unload crates, disguised as tea bags but secretly containing irony to impose on the American people.

“So they jumped on those ships and dumped all that irony into the bay and saved our freedom because irony is not American since it would replace our guns as it has done in socialistic places around the world. As a result, we Americans remained free. Unfortunately, all that irony polluting their bay is one of the reasons those poor people in Boston remain socialist to this day, but the rest of America was saved except for San Francisco and maybe Oregon and New York City.

“You may ask how our four fathers knew those crates that were all marked with the word “Tea” stenciled on the outside actually contained irony. Well, they realized that “Tea” spelled backward is “Aet” which sounds like ate, which, if you think about it, is very ironic.”

Note: Sarcasm, however, is as American as [add your own analogy]

Note ii: Donald Trump, however, is ironic — like a Ringling Bros. clown is ironic. Jeb Bush is not ironic. He, unfortunately for him, is a tragedy.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Contrary to Stephen Hawking and others, the creation of Artificial intelligence is not the thing we should fear most. It is the proliferation of Decentralized Autonomous Corporations (DACs). They already exist and their numbers are growing.

Matthew Mather describes a Decentralized Autonomous Corporation (DAC) as a network of artificial intelligence agents which divides its labor into two parts: (1) tasks it pays or incentivizes humans to do, and (2) tasks which it performs itself.

It can be thought of as an organization run without any human involvement, under the control of an incorruptible set of business rules.

Like most corporations, it generally cannot be terminated except by the investors, often has more rights than ordinary citizens and cannot be imprisoned if it breaks the law. Moreover, its investors are shielded by law — responsible only to the extent of their monetary investment for the actions of their creation.

Recently, a group of large banks announced that they will begin exploration of DAC’s for integrated banking services. At first look it may appear beneficial since, among other things, transactions will be more transparent and access for customers simpler. The banking transactions, however, will have no human control. Whether that will be good or not in the long run, I cannot guess. But, at a minimum, the owners, and their descendants, having done no work other than hiring the technicians to set up the system, could nevertheless receive fees forever, ultimately draining off huge amounts of money from the users. Someday, in the not too distant future, they may inherit the earth — or what’s left of it.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“To me, the most ominous flaw in our constitutional set-up is the fact that the federal government does not have control over of money and credit and does not have control of corporations. It is therefore not really sovereign. And it is not really responsible because it is now controlled by these two groups, corporations, and those who control the flows of money. The new public financing of the Presidential elections is arranged so that they can spend as much as they want: voluntary contributions, not authorized by the candidate, are legal.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

Income inequality and the overwhelming influence of wealth on our political process will resist any long term resolution without reform of the basic elements of the corporation: immortality, limited liability, and personhood.

C. Today’s Poem:

On Seeing Weather Beaten Trees

Is it as plainly in our living shown,

By slant and twist, which way the wind has blown?
Adelaide Crapsey (1878-1914)

 

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“One of the great attributes of discretion is that it can mask ignorance of all the most common and lowly varieties”
Catton, Eleanor. The Luminaries (Man Booker Prize) (p. 397). Little, Brown and Company.

TODAY’S CARTOON:
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Secret Worlds, https://xkcd.com/52/

Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 15 P0PS 0004 (August 31, 2015)

 

“Never under any circumstances interrupt a story!”
Bruen, Ken. Green Hell (Jack Taylor). Grove/Atlantic, Inc.

 

 

TODAY FROM AMERICA:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:

After a long, tiring and mostly uneventful trip back from Thailand, I met my sister in San Francisco and she drove us to Mendocino where I slept my jet lag away.

The next day Annmarie and her husband Dean, my grandson Anthony and Irene a relative from Sabina spending a few weeks in the US arrived. Anthony is having a difficult time. Arrested again for operating his marijuana business, he is in a lot of trouble.

Later that night my other grandson Aaron arrived. On the way up he crashed his car into the back of another car that had that had stopped in the middle of the road having struck and killed a large deer. Aside from that, he seemed in good spirits and happy about his burgeoning career as a chef.

The next day we visited Glass Beach in Fort Bragg. While walking along the path someone going the other called out to me, “How’re you doing Pops?” I was not amused.
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Later we attended the Art and Wine show at the Botanical Gardens. The Gardens were a Coastal Conservancy project during my time as director. It was in danger of closing down. So, since it was considered a significant coastal resource for the area, we developed a plan for its preservation enabling it to redesign and reconstruct its physical plant and exhibits and to purchase a large parcel extending to the coast.
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There also was music to go with the art and wine.
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On Sunday, we went canoeing on Big River. It tired me out so I skipped lunch and took a nap.
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B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:

Finally, I returned to the Golden Hills and things ground to a halt.

My sister dropped me off at the Trans-bay Terminal and after a riding a bus, a train, the light rail and another bus I arrived at EDH Town Center three hours later. The house was still over 2 miles away and there was no way for me to get there except by walking and dragging my luggage (Mr. Suitcase) behind me.
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I looked like a homeless old man searching for a place to sleep. I hoped that that image would so horrify the citizens of EDH that they would call the police who would arrest me and then, after I convinced them I belonged there, would drive me home in an air-conditioned police car. No such luck, so I struggled for another hour and a half walking with Mr. Suitcase, trudging from one bit of shade to another until I arrived home. I then took a nap.

The next day Dick and HRM arrived from Thailand. Since then I’ve returned to my usual routine — Drive H to school, eat breakfast at Bella Bru, go swimming, return home and play with the computer, pick up H from school, eat dinner and go to bed.

Today I met an old retired man from India. I was enjoying a cafe latte in the Starbuck’s at Target while waiting for H to shop for school supplies. The man sat down at the table where I sat. He was waiting for his family to finish shopping. He told me he spent half the year in New Delhi and the other half in the Golden Hills. He said that he used to be a sociologist and, although he now was retired, he sometimes still is called on to lecture about the differences between US and Indian culture. He said he often seeks out Americans to talk to in order to learn more about our culture. Then he said, in words to the effect, “Being old in America sucks. I have to hang out in this Starbuck’s in order to find someone to talk to.”

I have a new phone, an iPhone 6. It frightens me.

I went to the pool early this morning. Alas, the pool I usually swim in was occupied by an exercise class, so I sat on a beach chair to watch and wait until they finished and cleared out of the pool. One of the first things I noticed was the enormous size of the boobs that I observed. Not simply on women but on the men with their distended bellies and their man-boobs sparkling in the sun. Now I admit I had hoped to sit there and enjoy a visually erotic experience since at my age visually erotic is the only type of erotic granted me. Alas, it was anything but erotic. I then I looked down at my own body and realized I fit right in with the water exercise crew. Finally, the music accompanying the happy and vigorous workout eventually drove me to the much colder lap pool for my own usual morning workout.
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This week the trees with the red flowers were in bloom throughout the subdivision. As I have mentioned before, the landscape architect for the various subdivisions did a marvelous job in siting trees that bloom in different colors throughout the year delighting those with little going on in their lives and annoying many others who suffer from pollen allergies.

HRM report: Back in school in fifth grade. Currently, he is focused on his Youtube activities, “The Haystack Show.” He is the Chairman of the Board, Director and Star, his friend Jake is the CEO, Producer, and Editor.
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HRM, Pookie and Tyson HRM’s friend but not the CEO of “The Haystack Show.”

 

I find that spending my time with 10-year-olds is a rewarding and enjoyable as traveling around the world.

Alas, the pump that pushes the house’s wastewater up to the sewer that runs along the street broke requiring HRM and me to spend the nights until it is repaired in the Holiday in Town Center and eating in some of HRM’s favorite restaurants, MacDonald’s, Taco Bell and Panda’s.

I cannot believe I am reduced to writing about broken sewer pumps and Taco Bell.

Since I have returned to EDH my cuisine choices have been limited to McDonalds, Taco Bell, Panda and the snack bar at Target.
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Sometimes we go fishing at the Duck Pond. Where I lie on the grass and stare at the sky until I fall asleep but usually I do nothing.
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I guess I can report that the drought resistant spiders are back and have covered with webs the landscaping for the houses on the street prompting the migration of itinerant pest control experts knocking on our doors and promising to remove the pests in the most environmentally safe manner possible. I assume if that were true, they intend to pick up each spider individually and crush it between their thumb and forefingers.

C. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

Earlier this month when a bomb blew up in Bangkok near a much-revered shrine killing almost 20 people and injuring almost 100 more, the unelected Prime Minister and leader of the country’s most recent coup said that it was an attempt to injure Thailand’s tourism industry, while completely omitting any expression of sympathy for those killed or injured.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

“We usually think of Christianity as the great contrast to the Roman ideology, but this is to misconceive the whole civilization. Christianity as an organization was in no way incompatible with Romanism as an organized structure. The teachings of Christ were, but these teachings were so very alien and strange that no one took them very seriously and being a Christian soon meant, not belief in Christ’s teachings but belief in Christ, a totally different thing. The same thing happened in Islam where Muhammad’s teachings were soon ignored, and the requirements of Islam became a few rituals, plus monotheism, and so far as Muhammad was concerned, belief that he was the Prophet of the One God.

The Christians cut down Christ’s teachings to a minimum also, insisted only on the belief that Christ was the Son of God and some related beliefs and certain rituals, and then began to engage in violent controversy on minute details of implications of these, very remote from Christ’s teachings or attitude. On this basis, there was not much in Christianity which could not be reconciled with the Roman system, and the original enmity between the two came more from the Roman side than from the Christian.

…The willingness of the Christians to become part of the Roman system can be seen in the present survival of the Roman Catholic Church as a copy of the Roman empire, a system organized in municipalities and provinces under an absolute ruler who uses the robes, nomenclature, language, and modes of action of the late Roman empire.”
Carroll Quigley

 

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

“When I won my Best Screenplay award several years ago, I had the great pleasure to see a number of films. One short film in particular caught my eye. It was a musical comedy called “West Bank Story,” and . . . you guessed it — it was a take on “West Side Story,” but set on the West Bank in Israel. I laughed so hard, I triggered muscle spasms in my back, and I had to go home and lay on a hot moist heating pad. It didn’t win, which I considered an enormous injustice, but I kept in touch with the film maker, a tremendously talented guy named Ari Sandel.

I saw it was nominated for an Oscar in the live action short film category, and I called Ari and arrogantly proclaimed that he would get an Oscar before Martin Scorsese would, and he DID . . . by about 2 hours! The Live-Action Short Film award was announced very early in the broadcast, with the major categories, like best actors, director, and picture of course saved for the end.

Now I see that Ari is dating actress Julianne Hough. Some guys have ALL the luck! Hey, Juli — for once, what about dating SCREENWRITERS, huh???

“West Bank Story, just shy of 20 minutes, is uploaded here:|

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mgQfCUNf0no

But if you purchase it, Ari is donating all proceeds to a nonprofit in the Near East that benefits victims of the violence — Israelis AND Palestinians.”

 

 

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

I think this animal rights thing may have gone too far. I mean, what’s wrong about a tiger living in a zoo in a place made to look like the jungle it’s never seen and free from scratches and annoyances of the wild, where someone else catches, slaughters and cuts up his food into bite-sized bits while people pay good money to watch him lie around and yawn? Wouldn’t this make him a Kardashian?

After all, humans in their natural state were made to huddle around the entrance of a cave and be periodically culled by Saber Tooth Cats and Cave Bears — not working 80 hours a week in order to afford to live in a fake greek revival house far too large to ever be fully used with a new Ferrari parked in the driveway that inevitably his doped up kids will drive into a tree.

 

D. Today’s Poem:

The frost has known,
From scattered conclave by the few winds blown,
That the lone genius in my roots,
Bare down there in a jungle of fruits,
Has planted a green year, for praise, in the heart of my upgrowing days.
Dylan Thomas wrote this when he was fourteen-years-old. He remained blindly arrogant and mostly drunk for the rest of his life.

 

E. The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

Altschmerz

n. Weariness with the same old issues that you’ve always had—the same boring flaws and anxieties you’ve been gnawing on for years, which leaves them soggy and tasteless and inert, with nothing interesting left to think about, nothing left to do but spit them out and wander off to the backyard, ready to dig up some fresher pain you might have buried long ago.

 

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“Republicans continue to refuse to extend [unemployment insurance]. You know what, I am beginning to think that they’ve got a point. If you want to get paid while not working, you should have to run for Congress just like everybody else.”
Barack Obama

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Joe 0004 (July 31, 2015)

 

“You will never be the world. Other people will do as they will do and you will have to determine what you will do about that. That is your business.”
Cherryh, C. J. Tracker: A Foreigner Novel (Foreigner series) (p. 206). DAW.

TODAY FROM THAILAND:

A. A NIGHT IN AMMAN JORDAN:

I decided to fly to Bangkok on Royal Jordanian Airlines with a long stop-over in Amman because of the frisson of excitement in flying near a war zone, the price and the long layover that I thought would allow me to spend a few hours in the city, having dinner and viewing some of the sights. When I arrived the complications of finding my way through the airport, customs and transportation forced me to give up that plan. However, behind transfer desk a man informed told me that the airline allowed me to spend the layover at the local Marriott for free including a meal. “No tips,” he added. I surmised that that was an invitation for baksheesh discussions.

The hotel was about three or four miles from the airport and stood alone in the desert. The sun was still shining and I could see what I thought was the outskirts of Amman on the horizon. Everything else was low sand dunes traversed by a couple of roads. The desert had a slight floral scent that differed from the woody scent of the deserts in the American southwest. I had a first class room, a good meal a shower and a welcome sleep. I even enjoyed the baksheesh negotiations.

I took no photographs, alas. However knowing that some of you prefer the pictures to the writing, I have included a photo of Dubai from the air. Dubai was my alternative layover to Amman. I’m happy with my choice.
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Perhaps on my next trip, I will spend an extra day or two in Amman and visit Petra — another bucket list item.

B. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THAILAND:

My last few posts were more or less a travelogue in two to three sentence bites. No matter how I tried to alter the chronology or slip in irrelevant stories, the travel through a place or between places remained foremost.

Bangkok, however, is my home (at least one of them for the time being), and no matter how exotic it may or may not be, the place becomes mere background to my daily experiences. I eat, sleep, exercise and so on. Every now and then as I go about my day something I see or experience interests me, but rarely temples, art or ceremonies.
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For example, I took HRM to the Aquarium in the basement of the Paragon Shopping Center.
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Another day we went to a snow park.
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A few days ago I met at Donut World with the old sailor and his friend an economist for coffee, donuts, and talk. The economist had just had his prostate removed. We, despite the camaraderie, looked at each other through the frightened hollow eyes of those who finally realize the last roundup is near to hand.

The old sailor has been a professional deep sea diver, a sailor, a treasure hunter and perhaps a pirate. He keeps two dead bodies in his locker at the health club (at least their ashes which he, at the deceased’s request, spreads in their favorite bars and houses of ill repute around the world). HRM spent a pleasant morning looking at photographs of the old sailors career.

I have two new shirts now. One primarily white I consider my day and formal summer outfit. The other, a Tommy Bahama design given to me by Nikki who bought it in China, is my night and formal winter attire.
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I live by one of Bangkok’s major tourist attractions, Nana Plaza. At lot of things go on there that the government denies
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This is a photograph of Soi Nana. I live at the other end of the street. Nana Plaza is on the left.
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Looking in the opposite direction across Sukhumvit Road is Arab Town.
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It looks a lot like Soi Nana until you get close. A lot of Bangkok is like that.
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Sometimes I vary my walk to the Health Club by going down an alley.
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The health club has a new manager. He comes from Australia. He promises to make the place one of the premier health clubs in the city. In the meantime for the past three weeks, he cannot make up his mind as to whether members are to be allotted one or two towels per day.

On most days, I have breakfast at my favorite breakfast place, Foodland and then walk through the dark little alley to the health club. The alley now has a bar catering to Africans. It is loud and cramped. Not to be outdone the Burmese bar next door has turned up the volume of the music. Everyone is dancing as I try to squeeze through the gyrating bodies and grasping hands.
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When one is living in a place and retired like me, almost anything that breaks the routine I can find interesting. Today we spent five hours at a local university dental school mostly observing the wonderfully bizarre procedures that needed to be completed before I could have my teeth cleaned. After that, we had a foot massage. I then went back to the apartment and took a nap.
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At the university pointing at something.

Tomorrow I go to Paradise by the Sea one mile from the Outskirts of Hell for a reunion of the Geriatric Knights of the Oval Table at a place called Heaven or maybe not since Heaven was busted by the Thai cops a few weeks ago.

We stayed where we usually stay at a small hotel called “Bamboo” because of the bamboo plants in front of the place that have overgrown their planter pots. It was started a few years ago by a German Gay couple and seems to be the best-maintained hotel on the block. The Little Masseuse (now retired) managed to negotiate the price down from $30 a night to 20 by pleading that I was not a rich old American, but a poor sick old man. As proof, she argued that I must be poor for hanging out with an unattractive sixty plus year old lady like her instead of a beautiful 30-year-old. She still thought it was too much to pay for a room and urged my to stay at a place $8 cheaper where you had to sleep on the floor. I told her my current penury is not such that I must descend to that level of discomfort. She believes paying more than $1.50 for dinner is irresponsible.
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That night the Good/Bad David, Bill G., a young attorney from Bill’s firm who had never visited Thailand before, Dennis and I strolled along the Walking Street in the Outskirts of Hell where we ran into HRM, his mom, her latest financier, and their driver. I took HRM to the Muay Thai fights a little way along the street where one of his favorite fighters was performing.
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HRM scores a punch and a kick on the champion.

After seeing off HRM and his entourage, Bill and his crew and I visited one of his GoGo bars on Soi Six. I left early leaving the others enjoying themselves. I felt too depressed at my age and circumstances to get into the swing of things and was embarrassed. I need to up my dosage of happy pills.
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During the mornings at daybreak, we walk along the beach for exercise and to observe all the dead things and sodden plastic flotsam that littered the beach before the beach chair concessionaires swept the detritus back into the gulf. Many young Thais frolicked along the shore taking pictures of one another or jumping fully clothed into the waves. Thais prefer the beach before or after the sun makes it only suitable for western tourists to be out.
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Later we toured some of the competitors to Dennis and Bill’s clubs — not very exciting. If you are in the Pattaya-Jomtien Beach area, however, I urge you to visit “Heaven” at Soi 11 Kasetsin, Cosy Beach Pratamnak. Tell Tina who will greet you, that I sent you. The other place you may want to visit is Winchester. It is owned by Bill and Dennis.

One evening David, LM (now retired) and I had a pretty good pizza and cannelloni at an Italian restaurant in the Jomtien Complex that is also the gay area of Jomtien Beach. It is called “Da Nicola.” The owners were from the area of Sicily my family comes from. When they learned my family comes from Canicatti, they promptly declared that the best wine in Sicily comes from there.

Upon returning to Bangkok and resuming my life there, I saw that the dark alley containing the bars that I walk through after breakfast on my way to the Health Club has been mostly torn down. It was explained to me that it was done to make it better. I could not help but notice the section removed was the portion containing the bars catering to Africans and Burmese.
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One day the Thais celebrated the Prince’s birthday. Over the years, the much married royal seemed to be universally loathed. Rumors of the murder of his many mistresses and overall behavior abounded among the population of the country. But with the impending death of the much beloved King, the Prince’s birthday was a useful moment to rehabilitate him with a televised ceremony fit for a god which he did not attend but instead was represented by a 10 story photograph before which the great and near-great of the country sung his praises and lit an immense number of candles. In my apartment LM (now retired) lit a cantle and stood in front of the television reverently holding it in her hands for the entire hour-long ceremony.
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Dick arrived and HRM and I accompanied him to visit the aviary in the hotel that also encompasses the health club.
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And so my trip slowly cam to an end. A movie with HRM and LM (now retired), a delightful lunch with Gary, swimming almost every day, lots of naps and finally the struggle to pack and get to the airport.
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C. WHAT I THINK ABOUT WHEN I AM BORED:

I am a great supporter of gay marriage or marriage between members of the same sex even if they are not gay. I believe it is superior to so-called traditional marriage. Think about it. A woman and a man get married often because after a few days of passion they believe their affection will last forever and that this qualifies them to have and raise the next generation. What usually happens in short order, however, is they begin arguing over just about everything including how to raise the kids, while the kids usually have no idea why they are squabbling since most kids find their ordinary days just fine. In about 50% of the cases the loving parents divorce (or even worse not) and the kid grows fucked up anyway.

In my case, my parents argued all the time. I never could figure out why most of the time. After they argued, my father would get drunk for a while and my mom would find a reason to hit me with a wooden spoon (I was Italian-American after all). I think that is the cause of my problems with women. I always looked for a woman who could cook like my mother, wash and clean and now and then beat me with a wooden spoon. I could manage to connect with women quite willing to beat me with a symbolic wooden spoon, but they usually balked at the cooking and cleaning.

But I digress. Gay marriages need not run into this problem as much as traditional marriages do. After all, what’s marriage but a contract that sets out the economic rights and duties of the parties. This is important especially for those rich enough to afford a prenup but too stupid to get one.

Some believe marriage is necessary to procreate and raise children. In this age of rent a womb and the purchase of the hot semen of the body type and mental acuity of choice, procreation seems more a question of cost than who one procreates with.

I’ve always been wary of designer progeny. For example, imagine a bright guy with a lot of money but lacking in physical prowess and comely features. In the hopes that his children will be beautiful, athletic and bright, he searches for a zaftig beautiful woman athlete empty headed enough to marry him. But, it is probably just as likely the kids will be a scrawny idiot as anything else. It would be the same with the brilliant woman captain of industry who beds the ripped pool boy only to find that his mind was also ripped with muscle instead of neurons.

But I digress again. You see, men and women living together can never understand each other. They are like a separate species who in the long run irritate each other to the detriment of their children. That’s probably why so many of us are fucked-up.

Assume two guys, they do not even have to be gay but they are best buds, like the Thunder Buddies, Ted and John. They like to hang out together on the sofa watching football drinking beer, farting, and scratching their crotch. One day they decide to get married to each other in order to take advantage of retirement or death benefits and also raise some kids produced through some rent a womb internet site. They probably happily live together farting and scratching, rarely fighting while teaching their kids to joyfully fart, scratch and watch football. Or, on the gay queen end of the spectrum, the couple could raise their kids gleefully painting their toenails and applying perfect mascara or whatever else it is they are into.

As for two women marrying, even Thelma and Louise when they drove off that cliff could have benefited by a marriage license should one of them have survived the fall. Two women who marry could rent a stud and raise their children to paint their toenails and apply perfect mascara or whatever. Or on the bull dike end of the spectrum teach them to fart, scratch their crotch and watch football on television. They all probably will be content and so will the kids.

Of course, then we will be raising two types of people, those who like to paint their toenails and apply perfect mascara and those who like to fart and scratch their crotch. Unfortunately, I fear soon someone will start a new religion, or go on Fox News and argue it is bad for the nation that one group of happy tykes likes mascara and painted toenails and another farting and scratching and that marriage should be limited to one parent who likes one and another who likes the other so that the children can receive the full experience of being human.
D. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:

The recent drought in Thailand has wrought havoc with the nations rice crop prompting the country’s Prime Minister to suggest the distressed farmers rely less on water-dependent crops like rice and plant more profitable crops that use less water, like a herb that he heard promotes male virility.

I few weeks later, this same worthy announced farmers were to be cut off from government controlled water supplies in favor of urban uses. He also announced the drought will end next month and the farmers who are not growing male virility herbs can again begin growing food for the nation. He later recommended that those who have water voluntarily share it with those who do not. He almost sounds like he is running for the US Republican Presidential nomination. I should be more careful, statements like the last one could get me arrested here.

Recently Wikileaks reported that Thailand was among the countries who purchased eavesdropping equipment allowing it to spy on its citizens. This same unelected but self-described democratically popular leader denied the report but added, that the nation’s citizens and others have nothing to fear if they are not doing something illegal. Something illegal includes criticism of the nations leaders or their actions.

The proposed new Thai Constitution would make it illegal and unconstitutional for legislators and the public to object to any project included in any five-year development plan established and adopted by a commission of non-elected political appointees.

 

PETRILLO’S COMMENTARY:

Frank Capra, the famous Italian-American movie director, during WWII, directed a number of propaganda films for the United States Military under the general title of “Why we Fight.” Shortly after the war, he directed, on behalf of the US Signal Corps a short movie entitled, “Your Job in Germany,” in which he cautions American Servicemen about fraternization with the German populace in violation of international agreements among the victorious allies.

Now, I am not here to apologize for Capra’s rampant misguided conservatism or the “bitter and angry” anti-German tenor of the film, but given the recent events regarding the German government’s aggressive and implacable attitude on behalf of the German banking establishment against the ordinary people of Greece, even to the point of violating the fundamental doctrine of neo-liberal economics that both sides of a commercial agreement should bear the risks without governmental interference, perhaps another look at the film is warranted.

Capra, in the film, reminds us of Germany’s repeated aggressions — first in 1870 under “Otto von Bismarck,” then in 1914 under “Kaiser Wilhelm II,” and finally in 1939 under “Adolf Hitler.” Each time before the aggression commenced he points out through extensive flashbacks and newsreels the German people were portrayed as industrious, fun-loving, dancing and singing and full of good cheer. Well, once again the German people are happy and perhaps are singing and dancing also.

Capra was clearly wrong in attributing to the people as a whole responsibility for repeatedly following the siren call of their ruling classes, whether Junker, Nazi or modern Banker. Clearly those ruling classes appear to have learned by now that the road to lebensraum may not lie through the barrel of a gun but perhaps more effectively through one-sided agreements, enforced by non-elected international bureaucrats where the non-German, the non-Banker and the poor bear all the risks flowing from the failure of a commercial contract.

Arguments have been made that in the previous cases had the other great powers (or even one other) resisted the slide into a shooting war much pain and suffering could have been avoided. Alas, once again the shortsightedness of big power politics (for example, the US worry about Russia requires it to weigh allowing Germany free rein in Europe against the risk of losing their support for US policies confronting supposed Russia aggression) may only make things worse — until it is too late.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“I define democracy as majority rule and minority rights. Of these the second is more important than the first. There are many despotisms which have majority rule. Hitler held plebiscites in which he obtained over 92 percent of the vote, and most of the people who were qualified to vote did vote. I think that in China today a majority of the people support the government, but China is certainly not a democracy.”
THE MYTHOLOGY OF AMERICAN DEMOCRACY
Carroll Quigley presentation to the Industrial College of the Armed Forces on August 17, 1972.

B. Xander’s Perceptions:

“It sickens and infuriates me to see the cynical hypocrisy of conservatives. And yesterday I heard that Social Security Disability payments could be cut 19% by the GOP-controlled Congress. The funding will run out next year, and there is an impasse between Democrats and the GOP. Obama has been all too willing to cave in on such negotiations, but if the 10.9 million people who will lose on average $190 a month — this, for people like me who HAVE no other income, no means of other support, and no ability to do so — if this happens right before the 2016 elections, the GOP could end up like the Whig Party . . . in the political graveyard with other assholes, like the Know Nothings (which the GOP should be called!).”

C. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

1. Government protection of investors.

“Government shielding of investors wealth from full liability for the actions of a corporation violates a fundamental tenet of neo-liberal economic theory and makes almost everything it rationalizes invalid. Until investors in commercial enterprises are forced to protect their wealth through the purchase of insurance as they did before the government created the state enterprises we call corporations, neo-liberal economic analysis is substantially flawed.”

2. Political Correctness.

“I think political correctness has gone too far. After all. what could be offensive about calling Jesus Christ a gay fish monger?”

D. Today’s Poem:

Endless daze, sweaty nights

Long night until morning,
Dream breasted, shadow stalked.
Arid lips salt sweated.
Laughter dreams and horror
Dawn faded long ago.
Dreamless sleep’s dark nightmare
Now haunts our withered days.

 

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 13 Shadow 0004 (July 2, 2015)

 

Laudato Si’

“Men and women who seek to become gods must first lose their humanity.”
Koontz, Dean. Odd Apocalypse: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 206). Random House Publishing Group.
July 15 is National be a Dork Day. Remember to mark your calendar.

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SABINA:
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Casperia in Sabina

Back in Sabina, we spent a few days exploring Casperia, the town Jason grew up in, eating at some of the fine local restaurants and looking for a place to buy as a family retreat. Since the collapse of the economy several years ago, the prices of homes in the area have fallen substantially.
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A piazza in Casperia
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Jason by the wall
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Pookie enjoys an afternoon snack of prosciutto, Mozzarella da Buffala, a local crumbly cheese made from sheep’s milk, a delicious local salami and, of course, a glass of wine from the nearby vineyards.

One day we visited Roccantica, another hill town nearby where about 120 years ago my grandmother was born along with her 12 siblings in a small three-room home. Those 13 siblings grew up and most of them left the town, some to the US, some to Australia and some to other towns in Italy. Now only Rosina, the widow of the grandson of one of those 13, still lives in that home, alone. During the day, she sits on a plastic chair in the shade by the door, talking to neighbors across the alley a few steps away, hoping for visits from her children on the weekends and waiting to die.
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Jason, although in America often bitter and angry about the hand fate has dealt him, here in Italy his true home is almost always sensitive, compassionate and insightful.* In our short visit he brought joy and happiness to Rosina.

*Of course, not necessarily in the father-son relationship where we naturally must play endless games of Orestes at the Seashore.

B. A FEW DAYS IN ROME:
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A View of Rome

I returned to Rome intending to get only two things done in the week remaining before departing for Thailand. One was to complete some banking transactions at which I was singularly unsuccessful.

One of my minor amusements while in Rome was to plot automobile directions on my computer and watch the contortions which the application goes through to get from one point to another. In the case of the bank, it was located on the corner of the block not more that twenty-five yards away from my pensione. The map showed an image looking like a deranged snake extending about two kilometers before ending at that same corner.

My second goal was to visit Borromini’s mature masterwork, St Ivo’s in Sapienza which was supposedly open to the public on Sunday mornings and which I had longed to visit for forty-five years now. It was open and I was enthralled.
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The first thing one needs to notice in Borromini’s church architecture is the absolute absence of an anthropomorphic God. Nowhere does one find his rival Bernini and other architect’s visions of God in heaven, a sky full of rumbling noise, clouds, putties and flashing lights.
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True at times he was forced by his patrons to include symbols of their families in his designs, but rarely a hint of God. It seems the Popes and Cardinals that hired him were far more interested in honoring their families then in glorifying God.
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Borromini begins his designs with a simple mathematical or geometrical figure and allows it to become more complex as it meets with the restrictions of the site, like some Mandelbrot set cascading from the apex of the dome to the floor. To Borromini, like Steven Hawking, God exists in a mathematical equation — God as the Unified Field Theory.

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I was so thrilled with my morning, I celebrated by sitting at one of those execrable cafe’s the line Piazza Navona and drinking the worst cup of coffee I had in Italy.
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I sat at the same cafe 45 years ago where my old acting classmate Jon Voight sat nearby during the filming of a few scenes from Catch 22. He did not recognize me and I did not acknowledge him.
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An interesting take on the human statue — one floating in air.

Outside of the above, I mostly I spent my time wandering around, primarily in the Villa Borghese. I wonder why I enjoy it there so much?

Of course, I tried again to get into the Borghese Museum but it was sold out until long after I depart. So, the placid Canovas, the hyperactive Berninis, the dead and bilious eyes of the Caravaggios and the etherial Rafaelos will just have to wait for another day and I will have to content myself with a photograph of the palazzo’s exterior for this trip.
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One evening I sat listening to a trumpet player playing the blues. The clear high notes shimmering through the quaking leaves and shadows of the Roman evening seemed as appropriate as if they came out of a smokey bar in Harlem.
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Another day, I sat and listened to the accodianist play “Toccata and Fugue in D minor” by Johann Sebastian Bach, better known to all as the music the Phantom of the Opera plays when he is sitting alone at the organ. (also recorded by SKY, Deep Purple, Blondie and McFly)
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Earlier, a drone hovered above my head. It was a memorable event — my first drone. One never forgets his or her first time.
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Although central Rome is notorious for bad Italian food, I found a place just off the Via Veneto, on Via Sardegna that I recommend. Andrea’s Restaurant is a little pricey, but when you can make a simple tommelli pasta with butter and cheese and a sprinkling of pepper taste like a king’s dish, you have something good going for you. I also had a side plate of spinach that was remarkably free of the often bitter spinach taste. Since it is fig season, I finished the meal with almost perfect fresh figs.

On my last night in Italy, I returned to Andrea’s. I had a superb Gnocchi. The place must be somewhat well known. There was a Japanese couple in the restaurant with me. They had a Japanese woman with them whose job it was to stand by the table and interact with the wait staff. When she had nothing to do, she waited in the kitchen for the couple to finish dinner and then left with them.

I enjoy wandering aimlessly around cities like Rome where people spend so much of their time outside on the streets that bits and pieces of their triumphs and tragedies drop like gold coins on to the sidewalks. I walked by a hotel a few steps off the Via Veneto where a little girl was crying desolately, having lost something of great value to her on the bus to or from somewhere. Her parents, the doorman and the bus driver fluttered about trying to comfort her. But, of course, to children the pain of such loses, although at times brief, cannot be consoled.

One day there was a Ferrari rally through the streets of Rome. It was colorful and loud.
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At other times I would visit my old haunts.
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Pookie happily enjoying an eight euro cup of coffee at Cafe Greco.

Alas, moments after taking this selfie, the background music in the cafe began to play the dying CoCo San’s aria from Puccini’s Madam Butterfly and I began to cry as I always do when I hear it — much to the consternation of the stone-faced waitress as she brought me my bill.

I noticed one morning as I went down to breakfast in my pensione dedicated to servicing impoverished priests and pilgrims, that I was dressed all in black — black shirt, black pants, and even those clunky rubber soled black shoes that priests like to wear so that they can sneak up on you. I wondered if my subconscious was trying to tell me something truly frightening.

The answer to my question above as to why I enjoy the Borghese Gardens so much is because it is a park with benches where old folks like me can sit for free in the shade, watch the people go by and listen to the music of the street musicians, until the biting and stinging insects drive us away.

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Rome as it is now and alas, as it will be.

C. STRANGE DREAMS:

I continue to have strange dreams. In one, I am an undercover police officer who works at night in a city like New York battling those who prey on the weak and the disabled. I dress like I am lame, hobbling along on two canes. I often go into abandoned buildings that terrorize me. I work every night seven days a week and live alone in a small room. When I pass people on the streets, no one says hello or even looks at me.

In another, I am a priest in a hospital charged with transferring deformed infants on life support to other hospitals better able to care for them or more likely, dispose of them. I am silently in love with an ebullient red-haired hospital administrator who is three months pregnant and deeply adores her husband.

D. BOOK REPORT:

Good News! Denise Mina is about to release two new mystery novels for publication. Mina is one of the few mystery writers whose heroines appear to be real women — women detectives that have a right to be as screwed-up as their male counterparts.

The first and to me the best, The GarnetHill Trilogy, features a loudmouth, alcoholic slut on the dole — Imagine Nancy Drew as a dipso welfare queen in Glasgow.

The second and my personal favorite features a young overweight newspaper reporter forced to cover women things. She wears clothing too tight and skirts too short, is the constant butt of male newsroom jokes and falls easily into bed with whichever no-good asks her.

The third, Alex Morrow, is a police detective passed over for promotion because of her sex and reviled in the station house for her coldness, competence and sharp tongue. Morrow deals bitterly and cynically with the demise of her youthful dreams and enthusiasm about her career. Somehow I get the impression this is Mina’s favorite character.

Each of these women through grit and insight solve mysteries the men who bedevil them are unable to even remotely decipher.

Pookie says try them, you’ll like them.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“ By now it is clear to most thinking people that every decision we make on major public problems simply makes matters worse.”

“We live in a cancer society in which growth has become the enemy of life. In economics this means that our economy cannot sell the consumer goods pouring out of existing factories unless we are simultaneously investing more capital and resources in new factories to make more goods or are otherwise providing more purchasing power to the market by inflationary spending on nonmarketable products such as national defense. This same characteristic feature of our society, that we cannot use what we already have for the satisfaction of our needs unless we devote increasing increments of time and resources to different future desires, now pervades all aspects of our society. Everywhere our activities now have built-in feedback loops which require investment in future technical innovations creating new activities or there will be sudden collapse of our existing activities.”

“Reductionist attitudes and methods now dominate every corner of our lives, defended by an unconscious alliance of special interests, corruption, and irrationality. These would be jeopardized by the holistic methods Ferkiss advocates. We holists are a small minority with little influence. Ferkiss believes that “science” supports his position. Holistic science, such as he and I practice, does support him, but 90% of the American Association for the Advancement of Science are reductionist technicians and would repudiate our version of what “science” is. He ls a holistic political scientist: I am a holistic historian. Each of us is a lonely voice in his own discipline, and our view would be rejected by the majority of our professional associates. Even publication is restricted for holistic views wherever manuscripts are subject to approval by “expert” referees or editorial boards of specialists.”
Carroll Quigley review of Ferkiss “In Search for a Solution to the World Crisis,” 1974

I suggest reading the second paragraph twice. It describes the crisis of our times. The crisis that Laudato Si seeks to address. Sadly, the process of bringing forth a sustainable world will probably be accompanied by economic depression and suffering until it is achieved. The question is not how do we bring about a sustainable world. We already know that. But, how do we take care of people until that revolution succeeds? Because, if we fail at that, we fail with it.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“The tragic truth, however, is that the young as they age become conservative, ethnic groups as they 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 have failed to grasp the grim realities of politics which is that it is an eternal war of attrition and the opposition is better equipped and trained while all too often all we have is our optimism to sustain us as the barricades are overrun and we wait for popular support that never comes.”

C. Emotions people feel but cannot explain.

OPLA. The ambiguous intensity of looking someone in the eye, which can feel simultaneously invasive and vulnerable.
From the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“It should be obvious by now that the right-wing fixation on repealing or defunding Obamacare is symbolic rather than substantive. It’s a political dispute that appears to be about the present and about matters of policy, but is really about the past. Most opponents of the president’s healthcare bill neither know nor care whether it contains elements of “socialism” (which it doesn’t). What’s at stake is the ability to roll back reality, as with a spell learned at Tea-Party Hogwarts. If this aspect of a hated new American reality can be undone, then so, at least in the world of right-wing magical thinking, can everything else”
Andrew O’Hehir, Solon.

TODAY’S PHOTOGRAPH:
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This photograph is mostly for Bill Yeates and others with a passing interest in the avian world. It is a poster that sits on the plaza that fronts Italy’s Parliament Building. It supposedly represents the birds that frequent the plaza — scavengers all — much like most legislators. In fact from my time in the legislature in California I can attach specific legislators to each species. (Pigeon – Montoya, Seagull – Denny Carpenter, Hawk – Bob Moretti and Willie Brown and those birds that flit around and do nothing, most of the rest.) Let me know how you would categorize the legislators you know.

 

Categories: July through September 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 6 Shadow 0004 (June 26, 2015)

Laudato Si’

“Life has no reason. You are either here or you are in the Cemetery.”
Giovanni Corsello (June 2015)

Jon Snow Lives — Winter is Coming.

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

 

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SICILY:

 

A. Sicily Agonistes.
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The morning sun lighting up Mt. Pellegrino and the Port of Palermo.

I got up early and watched our arrival into Palermo from the deck of the ferry.

After disembarking, we left Palermo to drive across the island to Agrigento. Being spring, the countryside was still green and bright.
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Since it was still early by the time we arrived in Agrigento, we decided to visit the Valley of the Temples. Actually, valley is a misnomer. The temples are sited on a two-mile long ridge atop a cliff facing the sea that formed the fundamental defensive structure for the city. The ancient Greek City of Akragas itself sat in a long flat valley between the ridge and the heights on which the modern city is built. The temples, made of sandstone and originally covered with plaster and painted bright colors, run the gamut from the almost complete Temple of Concorde through various stages of ruin.
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Temple of Concord                                               Temple of Giove

Having been there before, I knew the site would be hot. I had hoped out morning visit would shield us from the worst of it. It did not. Approaching the end and unhappily contemplating returning, this time uphill, I flung myself on a bench in the direct sun, too tired to search for one in the shade. I was still sick, exhausted, old, thirsty and despondent because I had not taken my happy pills for three days. I felt like an aging tiger licking his wounds in the shadow of a rock, contemplating his rising urge to slay and destroy everything in sight, buildings, people trees — all of it.
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Jason, noticing my distress, helped me into the shade of a small park where I could rest. The park, noted by Camilleri in one of his novels, is the attempted restoration of the area where the ancient Greeks used to fish and recreate among the olive trees. Like most operations of this kind, its hopes did not match its funding or staffing levels. Staring at the trunks of 2000-year-old olive trees soon bored me so Jason walked me to a little cafe where I sat quasi-conscious while he trudged the two miles back to the car and then get lost, as one must before he could return and pick me up.

B. Paradiso Siciliana.

We drove to Canicatti. I tried to remember the way to Antonio’s BnB but could not and after a contretemps with Jason and a comedy with the locals over the name of the street, Antonio arrived and led us to his house.
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There we were restored by a lunch of a spectacular caponata and sun dried tomatoes, Pesto Siciliana, local sheep cheese and sausage. I went to sleep until 9 pm when it was time to meet the neighbors.

The neighbors, in this case, being those renting out the two other rooms in Antonio’s house. They were two youngish couples, one French from Montpellier and the other Belgian from Brussels. After a round of introductions and a few pleasantries, we sat down to dinner.

The dinner began with Eggplant Parmigiana made with local tomatoes that look like large chili peppers and have a stronger more piquant taste than regular tomatoes. This was followed by arancini, (Sicilian fried rice balls, rice packed with cheese [mozzarella] and a meat sauce). After this came a plate of mussels cooked in a heavenly sauce that I will not even try to describe. After sopping up the dregs of the sauce with local bread, Antonio presented us with a pasta with clams, mussels and swordfish and some vegetables. All this was accompanied by four wines, three of which were supplied by Antonio, a Grillo and two varieties of local Criso di Campobello. The fourth bottle was a surprise brought by one of the couples, a red from Nimes.

All this was followed by an orange salad, (large pieces of orange covered in well-cooked onions and lightly dusted with black pepper). Then we were served Sicilian cassata, accompanied by a Sicilian Limoncello. And, of course, fruit freshly picked from Antonio’s garden.
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Antonio is a local pediatrician and a leading member of Sicily and Italy’s Slow Food movement. The house has been the family home for at least three generations. It sits on a little less than an acre of land at the edge of Canicatti. There is a small industrial park on one side and a roadway on the other, yet sitting here one feels far away from urban life. On this tiny bit of land, Antonio grows most of the fruits, vegetables, herbs and spices, and some of the nuts with which he serves his guests — and of course, the flowers. When I sit at the outside table at which we eat, I see the following:
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The yard has a litter of kittens, the mother of which has disappeared. They romp through the gardens and in and out of the house catching mice and one another’s tails. Now and then one will take a swipe at your big toe should you wiggle it under the table as you eat.
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I ought to mention the recipe for polpette that Antonio made for Jason and I one evening as we were taking a break from the relatives —take very (hard) stale bread, soak in water for about three hours, squeeze out the water; add meat (half pork and half beef), coriander, three eggs, capers, pecorino cheese, garlic, mint, Italian parsley, salt and pepper and nutmeg. Knead, roll into balls and cook in hot sunflower oil.

At that same meal, we enjoyed a pasta with shrimp and prawns and a meat dish made like braciole.
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Pookie digs in

Later in the week, after the two couples left, we were joined by a German couple. They were here to attend the wedding of a friend. The wife, an ex-bartender, was seven months pregnant. The husband was director of business planning for Siemens wind power subsidiary. We had a number of interesting conversations. They both spoke English well having lived in England and India where the husband worked as a medical systems consultant.
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Jason eats a Cannoli                                           Venerdi and Jason

Toward the end of the week, the figs ripened on Antonio’s trees so we pigged out on them as we watched him turn some of them into preserves and other delicacies.

C. Meet the relatives and eat a lot.

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View of Canicatti
Visiting relatives one has not seen for a while is always a mixture of stress and joy — everyone straining to make each other comfortable for the brief time they have together yet wishing for the easy communication of an ongoing relationship.

Anyway, my eighty-year-old cousin Giovanni arrived with his son to take us to his farmhouse on the top of a hill overlooking Canicatti, the town in Sicily where my mother was born and where I lived for a short while over forty years ago. Giovanni likes to sneak away from home most afternoons to drink wine and nod off to sleep free from his wife’s observation. While he enjoys his pleasures, his son putters around the property. A few days later, we spent a lovely Sunday afternoon at the farm with Giovanni and his entire family.
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Jason, Giovanni, and his son.

On another day we had lunch with an additional group of cousins, Guglielmo, his wife Giovanna and their two sons, his sister Elina and their mother Giuseppina. Giuseppina, Giovanni’s sister, still lives in the same building Jason and I lived in so long ago. Guglielmo is a banker and committed marathon runner. His wife, Giovanna runs half marathons. His sister Elina teaches school in Catania. We had an excellent meal as always.
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Guglielmo and Family                        The view of Canicatti from Giuseppina’s window.

Alas, the next day we had planned a tour of the area with Guglielmo and Elina but unfortunately, he took sick and we had to cancel. That was a disappointment as we looked forward to spending the day with them.

Jason, the good guest that he is, ate everything placed in front of him at the various lunches and dinners. I on the other hand, with varying degrees of success, tried to beg off food offerings before they were served, blaming my all too true intestinal maladies.
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Giovanni and his son, his two daughters Teresa and Maria and their children.
One day, while being driven around the city and its environs, we passed Piezzu Giumeddru (I think it is spelled this way), a large outcropping on the outskirts of the city. It dominates the landscape and it appears to have been split apart by a great force. According to the relatives, it is here the Paladin Orlando, in the great Italian epic “Orlando Furioso,” feigning madness over the woman he loved choosing to bed his best friend, sliced the rock in two with his sword.
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We also visited the beach (it was too windy and cold to swim), and the wonderful Spanish Baroque City of Naro, seat of the Chiaramonte Family, tragically mistakenly bombed by the allies in WWII — but mostly we ate and talked.
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D. Our evening with GiGi.

One night we visited my friend GiGI and his wife. Unfortunately, GiGI suffers from Parkinson’s and has a great difficulty getting around. We spent some time looking at photographs of his illustrious automobile racing career and later we went downstairs into his garage to look at the cars he used to race and where Jason was able to view for the first time in over 40 years the tiny three-wheeled Trojan motorcar that he and I travelled in across Europe from England to Sicily when he was only two and one-half years old.
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E. Departure and return to Sabina.
Eventually, our time in Sicily was at an end and with great regret, we set off for Palermo and the ferry to take us back to Sabina. We spent several hours in Palermo, before boarding the ferry to Naples, getting lost, viewing a few historical sites and shopping.
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Pookie in front of Palermo Cathedral
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Our last view of Sicily

The next morning we drove back to Sabina stopping along the way at Nemi in the Castelli Romani and enjoyed a fine lunch overlooking the lake.
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PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

 

A. Quigley on Top:

“So I told them about the USA — really very hair-raising when it is all laid out in sequence: . . . .1. cosmic hierarchy; 2. energy; 3. agriculture; 4. food; 5. health and medical services; 6. education; 7. income flows and the worship of GROWTH; 8. inflation. . .showing how we are violating every aspect of life by turning everything into a ripoff because we. . .have adopted the view that insatiable individualistic greed must run the world.”

“Although our cognitive system has made our civilization the richest and mightiest in the world, its continued use without cognitive sophistication is leading us to disaster. Lynn White, Jr., pointed this out in his article, “The Historical Roots of Our Ecologic Crisis,” in Science for March 10, 1967.”

“Professor White’s thesis is that when the Judeo-Christian faith established the view that there is no spirit in nature other than the human, the world was reduced to a created object to be exploited by humans, and the way was thus opened to the destruction of nature and to the total pollution of the world — a consequence that may have become inevitable with the rejection, in the latter thirteenth century, of the message of St. Francis to treat all nature as sacred.”

“The cognitive techniques derived from our underlying outlook have included ( a) using analysis rather than synthesis in seeking answers to problems; (b) isolating problems and studying them in a vacuum instead of using an ecological approach; ( c) using techniques based on quantification rather than on qualification study done in a contextual situation; (d) proceeding on the assumption of single-factor causation rather than pluralistic, ecological causation; and (e) basing decisions and actions on needs of the individual rather than needs of the group.”

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“When all is said and done, it is not how many toys you die with, but how many stories.”

C. Today’s Poem:

Who invited him in? What was he doing here,
That insolent little ruffian, that crapulous lout?
When he quitted a sofa, he left behind him a smear.
My wife says he even tried to paw her about.
If that is what his friends thought of him, what of his enemies?
Norman Cameron on the visit to his home by the famed poet, Dylan Thomas.

D. Emotions people feel but cannot explain — from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows.
(Thanks to Denise Mina — may she soon write another novel.)

Sonder. The realization that each passerby has a life as vivid and complex as your own.

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 33 JoJo 0004(June 18, 2015)

 

“If I didn’t believe in the miraculous nature of talent and in the sacred duty of the recipient, by now I would have gone so insane that I’d qualify for numerous high government positions.”
Koontz, Dean. Odd Apocalypse: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 4). Random House Publishing Group.

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN SABINA:

The area of Sabina lies about 40 miles northeast of Rome. It was named for the Sabine tribe that lived around here about 2500 years ago*.
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The hills, sky and countryside of Sabina

Jason and I stayed at the home of his long time friend Gianantonio Rando, a farmhouse a short way from Casperia, the Sabina town Jason lived in for a few years when he was young. The farm house and assorted buildings were originally a monastery built in the 1600s. The area is crisscrossed by many tiny dirt and gravel roads. Here and there, fresh water springs still pour water into the tubs where the residents of the area met to do laundry and collect water needed for domestic purposes. Jason having drunk at these same springs every day he lived here as a youth considers the water the purest aqua minerale on earth. I’m not so sure.
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The two windows on the corner of the upper story open into my room.

Gianantonio rents, sets up and operates sound and recording equipment for performances and festivals and also produces music videos — one I particularly like, his own group playing “I can’t give you anything but love baby,” including cuts of film from the 1920s and 30s can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Zd3RquVvWo (Listen to the follow-up video also. The singer in both is from the Naples Conservatory. The guitarist is a teacher and master of classical and jazz guitar at Santa Cecelia.) Gianantonio lives in Rome and uses the house in Casperia as a video, sound and recording studio, to store some of his equipment and as a weekend retreat.
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Gianantonio is also an accomplished musician, a graduate of Santa Cecilia in Rome with a Master on the double Bass. His musical group and company, Mad Cap Official Ensemble can be reviewed at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mad-Cap-Studio-Musicale-Sale-

The first day we searched for a restaurant for lunch and found most of them closed. (The first phrase in Italian both Jason and Hayden learned was “tutti chiuso,” [It is all closed] reflecting the general status of museums or anything in Italy one would want to visit at that moment.) We did find a fairly good place eventually. Jason ordered a marvelous linguini with local mushrooms and truffles.
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That evening Gianantonio and his friend Marcella prepared us a light dinner at the farm house. It included sausage made on the farm, local cheese, and wine, Parma ham, an excellent frittata and finished off with some grappa and organic ice cream that Marcella produces and sells throughout Europe.
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The next day at lunch we drank beer from a micro-brewery owned their friends. The beer was named Club 27 in honor of the many musical artists (e.g., Morrison) who died at 27.
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Another day, another food fest, this time with family at a Neapolitan restaurant near the Tevere. Most of us had pizza but Jason had tuna cacciatore. The high point of the meal was the antipasti, a collection of Neapolitan delicacies including various forms of zeppole, supli, and fried zucchini.
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The next day was barbecue day.
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Sitting beside Gianantonio is Claudio, Marcella’s son, who is trying to break into the events business. He and his family are longtime cacciatori (hunters) and so the talk got around to hunting and fishing. What was most interesting to me was that he also hunts mushrooms and truffles on a few properties nearby. He showed us a photograph of mounds of black and the rare white truffles he found recently. When we questioned him about his ability to find truffles without the assistance of specially trained dogs or pigs, he took us out into the nearby countryside and filled a bowl with truffles in about a half an hour. “It’s all a matter of knowing where to look,” he said, “and I do.”

It seems, since arriving in Sabina, all I do is eat and sleep. After lunch and an adequate time for conversation over coffee, I took a long nap.

Eventually, I did manage to get sick — stomach pain and constipation requiring a trip to the emergency room, purchase of various medications and confinement to my room. Nothing has worked yet.

One night Gianantonio’s recording business brought an Italian Ska group in for a recording session and a promotional video. The video required the studio to appear like a nightclub with flashing lights and a smoke machine. About 50 people showed up effectively turning the small house into a nightclub. They sold Club 27 beer, wine, and grappa to the attendees. I was not feeling well enough to get out of bed, but I loved listening to the music nevertheless.
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Gianantonio’s music group (Mad Cap Official Ensemble) is headlining a concert on American Jazz (Maratona Jazz a Roma) next week, so the musicians came by the studio today to practice. I felt I had time-travelled back to tin-pan-alley and the Jazz of the 20s and 30s which they treated with the same reverence and respect as the New York Philharmonia treats Beethoven or Mozart. For some reason, I started to cry. They played many of the old standards. Their amazing singer was able to change her voice and phrasing to sound like Josephine Baker, Lady Day or Ella Fitzgerald as the song required.

I spent the day listening and taking a few videos which I cannot send with T&T because of technical space limitations, but here is a photograph.
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In spite of my illness, this was one of my life’s more transcendent experiences.

Tomorrow we leave for Sicily. I am still in pain, have not eaten or shit for three days. Perhaps the overnight boat ride from Naples to Sicily and the sea air will cure me of whatever sickness I’ve got.

Because of an airline strike, Nikki will not be able to join us for a night in Naples so I put off leaving here for one more day. The pains have lessened.

Today I had a mild success, some symptoms of whatever I have passed so, Jason and I went to a friends restaurant in Cantalupo and I enjoyed hand-made spaghetti unique to the area in a heavenly mushroom sauce.
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Jason with pasta
The next day the sun was shining brightly while we left the farm. After breakfast, we drove to the Autostrada to Naples.
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Another photograph of Sabina.

About one o’clock, we had a mediocre lunch and drove up the many switchbacks to the famous Monastery of Montecassino. While there I gave Jason one of my bullshit lectures on the history of the monastery until his eyes glazed and he mumbled “Nice building.”
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The Grand Staircase at Montecassino

Returning to the Autostrada, we drove to Naples.

The stress on a 75-year-old father traveling together with his 50-year-old on a long trip like this, is roughly equivalent to the stress on a 50-year-old son traveling on a long trip with his 75-year-old father. I remember taking this trip almost 50 years ago with my 50-year-old father. My brother and I were insufferable, but my father took it all with surprising grace (for him) and reasonable good humor — certainly better than I am now. But, hell, he was only 50 at the time about my son’s age now and I was 25. So it goes, same old, same old. Or, what goes around comes around. Or, about 1000 more tired old cliches.

Arriving a little early in Naples for embarkation onto the boat, I suggested that we drive on to Sorrento and have dinner at a hotel where at least five generations of Petrillo’s have stayed including Jason when he was only a lad. I always stopped there for a night or two whenever I happened to be in Sorrento. It sits right on the edge of the bluffs with Vesuvius to our right and Capri to the left. The last time I had been there was with Margret Azevedo, Denise, and the very young Jessica.

I was shocked when we got there. The place was closed and in ruins.
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So sad, so sad.

So, after dinner at a local restaurant that was not to bad, we returned to Naples and boarded the car ferry for the overnight trip to Palermo.
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Another picture of me eating.

Although I felt better, I still was not over whatever illness I had contracted and felt exhausted so, I collapsed on to my bed in our cabin and fell right asleep while Jason explored the nightlife of car ferries. There is none.
*Pookie’s fractured history: It was the conflict between an outlying village of Sabines encamped on the Quirinale Hill across the pestilent swamp that became the forum and the Roman tribe camped upon the rocky, smaller, less fecund Capitoline hill that the famous story was written about. One night, the Romans, annoyed that the wealthier Sabines considered themselves superior in intelligence and ability and also believed that the Roman penury was due to their lack of intelligence and general laziness and not the crappy soil of the rocky promontory they lived on, or the sharp dealings of the bastards inhabiting the Quirinale Hill, snuck across the marsh and, in biblical fashion, killed the men and took the women for wives and slaves. (There was little difference between being a wife or a slave at that time, except that a wife could lord it over the slaves now and then.) The Romans realizing how simple it was to get rich and how much less work was needed to kill people and take their land than work the land themselves, attacked other tribes in the area, took their land and made them slaves. Eventually, the Romans began to think they were superior to those others and began to consider them ignorant, lazy and menial — and the rest is history.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“For years, I have told my students that I have been trying to train executives rather than clerks. The distinction between the two is parallel to the distinction previously made between understanding and knowledge. It is a mighty low executive who cannot hire several people with command of more knowledge than he has himself. And he can always buy reference works or electronic devices with better memories for facts than any subordinate. The chief quality of an executive is that he has understanding. He should be able to make decisions that make it possible to utilize the knowledge of other persons. Such executive capacity can be taught, but it cannot be taught by an educational program that emphasizes knowledge and only knowledge. Knowledge must be assumed as given, and if it is not sufficient the candidate must be eliminated. But the vital thing is understanding. This requires possession of techniques that, fortunately, can be taught.”
Carroll Quigley. The Evolution of Civilizations. 2nd ed. 1979. p. 420

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“Western Europe during the Middle Ages was the only society in history to prohibit their brightest minds from reproducing by forcing them into celibate religious orders if they evidence the slightest curiosity or passion for knowledge  while at the same time encouraging the most sociopathic and violent to rule and breed at will.”
Trenz Pruca

C. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:

Some people hear voices. Some see invisible people. Others have no imagination whatsoever.

*A collection of paraprosdokians is called a paradox.

D. Today’s Poem:

Steamboat Willie

I saw Mickey Mouse
As Steamboat Wille
On the telly
Last night.
We both have skinny arms
But I can’t whistle.

(Eat your heart out Emily)

E. Apologies, Regrets, and Humiliations:

Popes: Last issue I indicated the Barberini Pope was Urban VII. That is a mistake. It was Urban VIII. Urban VII was Pope for only 13 days before he died. I should be burned at the stake. Mea culpa.

 

TODAY’S QUOTE:

“The offices of officials were stormed, and the records destroyed. Serfs became lords. The land was revolving like a potter’s wheel. The high-born were starving, and the fat lords had to work in place of the serfs. Their children were hurled against the walls. High honors went to female serfs, who wore precious ornaments, while former great ladies went around in rags begging for food. Weeds were eaten and water was drunk; food had to be taken from the pigs. The learned man had only one wish: ‘May the people perish and no more be born.’ Those who had been poor suddenly became rich. Upstarts now rule, and the former officials are now their servants.”
Papyrus from the Middle Kingdom Egypt 1991-1786 B.C.

(Same old, same old)

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

This and that from re Thai r ment, by 3Th. 28 JoJo 0004 (June 12, 2015)

“Pessimism is strictly for people who are over-educated and unimaginative.”
Koontz, Dean. Brother Odd: An Odd Thomas Novel (p. 273). Random House Publishing Group.

 

 

TODAY FROM ITALY:

POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN ROME:

Sadly I left Sacile and took the night train to Rome. I enjoyed lying on my bunk rocked to sleep by the swaying of the car and the rhythm of the wheels clicking along on the tracks.

I had not intended to do much in Rome except wait for Jason to arrive and then leave directly for Sabina before moving on to Sicily.

I checked into the same pensione I always do — the one near the Via Veneto that services penniless priests and others on their pilgrimages to Rome as well as the odd traveler or two like me, and where, in the mornings, breakfast is accompanied by recordings of Gregorian chant.

After checking in and dropping off my luggage, I walked over to the Borghese Gardens to see if I could get into the museum. I couldn’t, so I strolled around the park.
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The Pines of Rome — The Borghese Gardens (Respighi, first movement)

I ambled down one of the lanes crisscrossing the park, sat down on a bench and watched the tourists pass by on foot or peddling a variety of vehicles.
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In the woods, I could see two people who appeared to be doing something that seemed not completely legal. Nearby a musician was playing the accordion. While I sat there and listened, he worked through many of the great tunes of the 18th Century including those of the Justin Bieber of his era, Wolfie Mozart. — — I can’t believe I just wrote that. I should be ashamed of myself.
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That night I unwittingly locked myself in my room and broke the key off in the lock. I could not raise anyone to get me out until the next morning. I’ve had worse experiences. I convinced myself I was being punished by fate or karma for that line about Mozart.

The next morning, having escaped from confinement, I decided to take a short morning walk for exercise and stop by some of the places I do not consider my visit to Rome complete unless I do.

I planned to begin at Piazza Barberini near my pensione, walk up the hill to Quattro Fontana and the church of San Carlo. I consider this church, Borromini’s first commission, to be among the finest examples of an architect combining art, design, and mathematics in a single building. I then planned to continue on past Bernini’s St Andrea, skirt the Quirinale Palace and push my way through the tourists at Trevi Fountain. Then over to Piazza da Spagna to visit the Keats-Shelly museum dedicated to three young men who unfortunately died before enjoying all the lives most of us are endowed with. But then, perhaps they were only allowed one life to live (except perhaps for Byron [Childe Harold himself]). I planned to follow this up with espresso at Cafe Greco, walk up the Spanish Steps and wind my way home before the heat of the afternoon leaves the streets of Rome to the tourists.
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As I walked from the Triton Fountain toward Quattro Fontana, I noticed that visiting the art collections in Palazzo Barberini was free today and even more surprising, it was open.

Palazzo Barberini is stark proof that there was a time when all a family needed was to produce one Pope (Urban VII in this case) to become unbelievably wealthy and set for generations. The Palazzo now is also the National Art Museum containing an art collection that, although not quite as spectacularly focused as at the Borghese (which I am resigned to never finding open again) nor as vast as the Vatican, nevertheless, is remarkable in its own right.
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I often forget classical artists, in addition to their obsession with murder and mayhem, also struggled mightily to inject sex in all its varieties into their paintings and sculpture.
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“Maddalena Penitente in Estasi” by Guido Cagnacci

This painting below (Betsabea al Bagno by Jacopo Zucchi [Firenze 1541-Roma 1593]), while I was there, seemed to be the most popular among the women visitors. They would stop to discuss and take numerous pictures of the painting while the men mostly strolled by without glancing at it. I could not figure out why.
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Some of the Museum’s more famous paintings (capo lavori) below, from left to right: “Narcissus,” by the incomparable artist, drunkard, sociopath and murderer Caravaggio; “Beatrice Cenci,” by the gifted Guido Reni; “Fornarina,” by the sublime and subtle Rafael (although perhaps not all that subtle this time).
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After leaving the museum, I walked to San Carlo to pay homage. I was so moved while there, that for the first time in 50 years I attended mass — a high mass no less.
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The woman in red has been begging at this spot for as long as I can remember.
I left San Carlo feeling virtuous, slipped a Euro to the woman in red at the door and walked on.

As I was passing the Quirinale Palace, the home of the Italian President, I discovered that for the first time in my experience it was open for tourists. I took advantage of the opportunity and entered. The palace was opulent as could be expected and contained a remarkable number of tapestries. As usual, it was guarded by a special branch of Carabiniere who some have suggested are, “as tall as angels (over 6’6’’?) and as dumb as stones.” One, stationed in the center of an especially ornate room so as to be seen by all, seemed to be at least 7ft. tall. With his golden helmet and irritated eagle on top, he appeared to approach 8ft. His feet clearly hurt him as he leaned on his sword and shifted from one foot to another.
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Future recruits.
I left the Quirinale and after skirting the Trevi Fountain ate lunch in a little restaurant where 40 years ago the woman who owned it then had me try, for the first and last time, cervello (brains). Then it was over to the Keats-Shelly museum and an espresso at Cafe Greco.
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A Pookie selfie in Cafe Greco.

Following my coffee break, I walked up the companion stairs to the right of the Spanish Steps that used to be the leather glove center of Rome and on back to the pensione.
When I arrived back at the pensione, as I passed small room off the stairs, I heard the woman who runs the place and two others laughing loudly. One of the women I had surprised when I opened the toilet door this morning. I was more embarrassed than she was. It seems strange this establishment dedicated to religious pilgrimages has unisex bathrooms.

Anyway, as I passed by, the proprietress saw me, mentioned to the others my unintended imprisonment last night and called out to me. They all laughed some more and invited me to join them. Too embarrassed, I excused myself, scampered up the stairs, locked myself in my room hoping the key would not break and crawled into bed.

The next day I decided to spend the morning wandering around the Villa Borghese again. As I walked up the Via Veneto, I thought about the club I often frequented 45 years ago. It was underground located in the crypts not needed by the adjacent Capuchin monks for their diorama of death. It was dark and smokey, the music a mix of jazz and rock. We, dressed in our turtle neck shirts, huddled in the tiny crypts drinking wine and discussing poetry and the war in Viet Nam. We were the last gasp of the Beats before they were swept away by the flower rebellion and folk rock. It is still a nightclub today, but an expensive one and the crypts are now used for gambling. It just goes to show, give a hippie enough money and he will spend it on high priced booze and gambling (well, dope too).

The Borghese Gardens are the lungs of Rome and perhaps a bit of its soul also. I used to hang out here in the Gardens many years ago. It was my retreat from city life.
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As I entered the Gardens I noticed signs for something called, “Social Network Week.” I have no idea what they meant, except perhaps free Wi-fi hookups among the pines for Facebook addicts.

While strolling along, I saw a pair of bright green birds flitting about in the trees. At first, I thought they were Rome’s version of San Francisco’s escaped parrot colony. These, however, did not make the raucous sound of the SF flock and their tail feathers were as long and their bodies.
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Recently they have added an exact replica of the Globe Theatre, barely visible among the trees. I hope they show a selection of all Elizabethan plays and not just Shakespeare. In other posts, I have expressed my dissatisfaction with the general exclusion of other Elizabethan dramatists in the academic world and at drama festivals.

I went by the Borghese Museum. It was closed Mondays so I sat on the bench near where the accordionist usually plays his Baroque medleys. I guess he was closed Mondays also. The guy with the electric mandolin was there, however. The plinking sound of Neapolitan folk tunes made into 1950’s hit songs skittered through the trees. A splatter of young teens armed with eggs, flour and aerosol cream whirled by and, in a lengthy pre-coital ritual, gaily covered each other and the pathway with bits of uncooked pastry.

On the way back to my pensione, I passed a small but loud protest in front of the American Embassy. I watched for a while. It was not the mass rallies against the war that I remembered from the late sixties but it still had the homemade signs, the slogans, and the whistles. I could not figure out what they were protesting but, since in general I believe protests are a good thing, I shouted my support. I was not arrested nor beaten with a police baton so the demonstration could not have been all that significant.
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All in all, it was a wonderful morning.

The next day Jason arrived. He will drive directly to Casperia in Sabina being unwilling to brave the traffic of Rome (no one has ever written a symphonic piece entitled, “The Traffic of Rome”). I will take the train and join him there tomorrow. Meanwhile, I have another day to wander the city. I think today will be ice cream day. I’ll probably walk to Piazza Navona for a lunch of bad spaghetti carbonara and good ice cream.

The walk from the Via Veneto to Piazza Navona even if you take the narrow back alleys is tourist highway. Hundreds of flag-waving tour guides lead legions of eager sightseers to the not to be missed marvels along the way. I veered slightly off the track to visit St Ignatius’ Trompe d’oil ceiling and the magnificent but unappreciated piazza in front.
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I passed through the plaza in front of the Pantheon and braved the masses to drop into the old building to pay my respects. I was surprised when I entered to discover it putting on an unusual light show of its own.
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In the piazza, a woman was playing a mournful “Ave Maria,” (is there any other way to play it?) on the accordion. Surprisingly, as I departed the piazza I could still clearly hear it as I walked along the backstreets. Other people and sounds seemed to disappear until I felt there was only me and the music floating above the gloom of the alley.

Just before arriving at Piazza Navona my heart skipped a beat, the door to the state archives containing Borromini’s master-work of his mature years was open. Because it was located in the archives, I had never been able to visit the church before. As with San Carlo the site was difficult to build on and Borromini had to design a church unique in Christendom to fit there. Instead of basing the design of the interior on circles, ovals and squares, he used interlocking triangles. Alas, my hopes were crushed. The small library he designed to house the Pontifical Academy’s Library was open, but the church was not. I did find out access to the church was now available on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings.
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St Ivo in Sapienza

I passed through Piazza Navona and into the warren of streets on its far side. I had hoped that I could get far enough away from the piazza to find edible food. Until now, since I have been unable to get to places like Piazza Tuscola (outside the walls) and the like, I have been stuck eating the overpriced inedible stuff served in Centro. I found a place right by one of my favorite churches. There was no one eating there and two surly teenagers who I assumed were the waitpersons sat by the door fiddling with their smartphones. I assumed either the food was so bad everyone knew to stay away or the food was good and the service terrible. I bet on the latter and sat down. I won my bet. The food (gnocchi con buffala mozzarella) was excellent and the panna cotta with fresh raspberries heavenly.
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Pookie is happy when he eats.

The church was notable because the Renaissance and Baroque era Popes, in a vain effort to discourage the location of national churches that were breeding like locusts in central Rome, gave this site to a small German order because he thought the piazza was too tiny to fit a church in it. He was wrong.
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The restaurant is on the left.

I do not recall the architect of the facade but the designer of part of the interior was Bramante. It was he who made it fit, There was a Chagall exhibit going on inside today, but the entrance fee was more than I wanted to spend.

Then I sauntered off to Piazza Argentina with the statue of he who did not cave, like Galileo, to Papal pressure, Giordano Bruno (he was burned at the stake instead) rising above the daily market.
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While approaching the Via Veneto on my return, my right ankle gave out and I fell hard on to the sidewalk. Two American tourists helped me up and inquired if I was all right. “Embarrassed,” I responded, “but otherwise all right.” And, after thanking them, I walked off trying to appear unaffected by my tumble.

If it were Bangkok and I fell on the sidewalk, I would be quickly eaten by soi dogs and street rats and no one would help me get up. Instead, they would stand around and laugh at the clumsy fat farang in his death throes.

Ah, well, tomorrow I am off to Sabina.

 

PEPE’S POTPOURRI:

A. Quigley on Top:

“Experience may be the best teacher, but its tuition is expensive, and, when life is too short, as it always is, to learn from the experience of one’s own life, we can learn best from the experiences of earlier generations. All such experiences, whether our own or those of our predecessors, yield their full lessons only after analysis, meditation, and discussion.”
Carroll Quigley, Weapons Systems and Political Stability.

B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:

“The last refuge of scoundrels is not patriotism but the claim that no one could see it coming.”

C. Today’s Paraprosdokian*:

The voices in my head may not be real, but they have some good ideas!

*Paraprosdokians devour their own minds.

D. Today’s Poem:

I’m nobody! Who are you?
Are you nobody, too?
Then there’s a pair of us — don’t tell!
They’d advertise — you know!

How dreary to be somebody!
How public like a frog
To tell one’s name the livelong day
To an admiring bog!
Emily Dickinson

(Everyone has a bad day now and then.)

E. Message from the Old Sailor in Bangkok

“….having an interesting day ….a guy died in the lobby ….too many ladyboys ….dirt on his shirt …..from his last meal or his last ladyboy…..from Denmark ….drank too much and smoked.

Good name for a book: Dead Guy in the Lobby”

 

Categories: April through June 2015, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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