“I never liked trickle-down economics. It implies that there’s a leak somewhere.”
Pike, J. Zachary. Son of a Liche (The Dark Profit Saga Book 2) (p. 41). Gnomish Press LLC.
To everyone during this holiday season please have yourself a: Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Fabulous Festivus, Sublime Saturnalia, Joyous Juul, Serene Sanghamitta, Zoned-out Ziemassvetki, Lively Yalda, Crazy Kwanzaa, Cheerful Chaomos, Spirited Soyal and a Happy New Year.
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:
The weekend arrived. Saturday the Morning Coffee at the clubhouse got it all started with announcements about holiday shopping and parties along with cream puffs and a Christmas cake oozing brandy. On Sunday, the HOA held its annual Christmas Party with music at the Nepenthe Club House. A two-person group, a pianist and a singer, tried to lead the guests in singing carols with little success. Naida, I and a few others sang lustily along with the musicians while most of the other forty or so attendees continued their conversations. The louder we sang, the louder they talked.
The Welcome Ladies
On Monday, I spent the day trying to nail down the start of my treatment. Despite promises made to me at the end of last week that it would begin this week, I was told that a procedure to insert a “port” in my chest would delay things a bit. The port is inserted into an artery in my chest. It’s intended to pump some chemicals into my bloodstream for about four days. Then I will need to return to have the pump removed. After three weeks or so they will test me to see if the treatment is working. They will do it all again for another three weeks. If I do not appear to be responding they will repeat the procedure. They can do this up to six times before giving up.
On Tuesday, I spent most of my day on the phone trying to get a final commitment to begin treatment. I succeeded in getting everything scheduled for Thursday and Friday next week. I also picked up three new medicines. The nurse explained that the first was to be taken to relieve nausea and vomiting that often accompanies chemotherapy. The second medicine she explained is for when the first does not work and the third when one and two fail. What I do then if that also failed she did not say.
Later that day, I drove into Oakland to assist Terry through his most recent crisis. I slept that evening in a motel on the seedy side of McArthur Bvd.
Hayden called to ask how my treatment went. I was touched by his concern. I told him that everything was put off until next week. He that said he had gotten me a Christmas present and hoped I would have a chance to visit him before he leaves to spend the holidays in Italy.
In the morning, I drove Terry and Campoy to the Court House. I couldn’t help picturing in my mind a movie starring Walter Matthau and some other aging actors playing elderly grifters setting off on their last con in an effort to avoid the boredom of the nursing homes.
The morning at the courthouse was anticlimactic. If you have never experienced pre-trial hearings, unlike the excitement one sometimes sees in the movies, in reality, they are more boring than the waiting room in a doctors office. At least the doctor provides out of date magazines that you would never think of reading otherwise. (you know, People Magazine, Field and Stream and so on. One doctor laid out for his waiting patients old issues of a bicycle magazine. Another one at least had aging copies of National Geographic. Not old enough to display the naked breasts of various so-called native teenagers that modern sensibilities banished from their pages and replaced with photographs of things like crocodiles devouring a deer. This all to the distress of teenage boys everywhere (and if truth be known to older boys also). I suspect that they appealed to women too (although I have no first-hand knowledge of it).
The idea of physical beauty has changed perhaps more often than we humans have changed overlords. In Ancient Greece, the male body was adored. Both men and women, I assume, viewed men’s bodies as the idealization of beauty (although Sappho may have disagreed). Men were usually depicted in sculpture with each ripple of the body etched out in detail. Their facial features, dramatic, deeply creased, and unique. The women, often clothed, their faces placid and their bodies smooth were almost indistinguishable from each other. In the Renaissance Michael the Angel painted his women on the Sistine Ceiling with a blocky sameness, their faces with a spooky similarity. On the other hand, his men featured rippling muscles. Each face distinguished and clearly belonging only to the body it adorned.
Later, men dressed up like peacocks and sported make-up and wigs. Women were forced to follow with a vengeance — compelled to wear ever more outlandish costumes, wigs and makeup that converted their faces from their natural individuality into a doll-like sameness. In portrait painting, unlike warts and all uniqueness of men, women, with few exceptions, appear to look strangely similar. Nevertheless, as they began to be shown more and more naked and as objects of men’s lust (rather than mothers of his children), the idea of the aesthetic beauty of the male body began to erode.
I think it was the movies that completed the change. Despite the efforts of advertisers and the fashion industry to make all women into an idiot replicant, movies proved they were not. They did not all have the faces and bodies of a malnourished sixteen-year-old. They spoke. They did not all spend their days lying naked somewhere or writhing in some man’s arms or holding a baby or a dead child in their own. Now, we are in an age where the beauty of the feminine in all its forms has begun to become the aesthetic ideal. Then again maybe not.
To move as far away from aesthetics as possible, you may recall me writing about the Turkey flocks in the Enchanted Forest. Well, it seems about 60 or more of those huge birds gather every night at the street corner near our house like teenage gangs of the 1950s. A few days ago we discovered the mauled carcass of a large turkey on our front lawn, actually only its massive breast bone with bits of meat still attached. We could not tell if it was just a leftover of someone’s Thanksgiving dinner or the remains of a local predator’s predations.
One day, we had dinner at the Olive Garden. I mention that here because much to my annoyance I actually enjoyed it. It shows the sad level to which good Italian restaurant cooking has fallen to in today’s America. It is probably Obama’s fault.
Now it is Christmas shopping time. I have mentioned before I hate Christmas. I hate shopping. Trying to decide what would not leave the recipient disappointed (except for something like a new Ferrari) and evidence your thoughtfulness and sophistication is as difficult and as impossible as suddenly growing wings and flying off somewhere — something I would much rather do than Christmas shopping. I decided to abandon everything I hold dear in my philosophy of life and try to do my shopping on Amazon. I expected to be exposed to an unlimited number of choices that I could wander though in happy distraction. Instead, I was presented with only a limited about of uninspired choices. I suspect it had more to do with my unfamiliarity with the platform than with Amazon itself. What I did discover, however, is that it did not reduce shopping time or irritation. It only allowed me the benefit of never moving from my chair, never seeing a department store Santa and never hearing Christmas carols over the murmur of voices in a mall.
Yesterday, Thursday, was a marvelous day. It began with Naida and I going our separate ways — she to doctors appointments and me into the golden hills to walk along the New York trail through the autumn leaf fall
Fall Colors Fallen.
Later I picked up HRM and his friend Tall Long Haired Jake And
I drove them home, picked up my mail and my first Christmas present. I then drove back to the Enchanted Forest where Naida and I watched old movies and worked on our separate computers. We later watched a Highwaymen video (Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jonny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson). Naida took out her guitar and played along with them. We also sang. I felt like I was back in SF in the early 70s. At one point, we started singing Frankie and Jonny and noticed each of us was singing different verses. We checked online and found as many as ten different versions including one by Burl Ives of surprising bawdiness.
Frankie was a fucky hussy,
That’s what all the pimps said,
And they kept her so damn busy,
She never got out of bed.
But he done her wrong.
God damn his soul.
Frankie she knowed her business,
Frankie went to the front door.
She hung out a sign on the door:
She rang the whorehouse bell.
“Fresh fish cost you a dollar here,
“Stand back you pimps and whores
Fancy fucking cost ten cents more.”
Or I’ll blow you straight to hell.
He was her man.
I’m hunting my man.
He done her wrong.
Who’s doin’ me wrong.”
Frankie went looking for Johnny.
Frankie drew back her kimono,
She hung out a sign on the door:
Pulled out her big forty-four.
“No more fish for sale now,
Rooty-toot-toot, three times she shoot,
Go find you another whore.”
Left him lyin’ on that whorehouse floor.
He was her man.
She shot her man
But he done her wrong.
And, as the evening wore on things got even better.
The weekend rolled around again like time took a holiday. Hey man, I’m damned old now. I want time to move as slow as I walk, Slower even. I’d like to see time bedridden.
Saturday, Naida continued to edit her memoir in silence. Boo-Boo the dog yapped at the leaf-blowers until the noise drove me to contemplate mass murder. Naida seemed to weather it better than me. When it all quieted down, I went back to doing nothing except playing on my computer until midnight.
The days move quicker now even though I spend most of my time doing little more than writing here and watching the news. Today I saw something amazing and amusing. The dust-up in the Oval Office between He Who is Not My President and Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer over funding the border wall. Trump managed to conflate shamefulness with transparency. After Trump bragged at how much he had accomplished with the funds he had last year for border security, Schumer said fine we will give you the same amount this year so that you can continue with your good work (actually he had only spent 6% of the funds appropriated last year). Pelosi simply pointed out to him he did not have the votes — in effect either negotiate with us or sit on it.
Two more days until my treatment begins. My neck pains these last few weeks have gone from non-existent to irritating to aching. I do not think that is a good sign.
Last night while we were taking the dog on his evening stroll through the Enchanted Forest, Naida recited Longfellow’s Ballad, “The Skeleton in Armor.” The following is the first stanza:
SPEAK! speak! thou fearful guest,
Who, with thy hollow breast
Still in rude armor drest,
Comest to daunt me!
Wrapt not in Eastern balms,
But with thy fleshless palms
Stretched, as if asking alms,
Why dost thou haunt me?”
An apt poem to recite while walking through a dark forest. It certainly represented a departure from our usual singing of old show tunes as we walked along.
Tomorrow we leave for the beginning of my treatments. See you all later. Have fun.
Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Billy Shaking Spears
So it goes…
Draft first Chapter of a New Novel that will never be completed or published.
He nuzzled his nose against her neck and said, “Did we laugh before we fell asleep last night?” “No, We were too tired,” she replied.
He caressed her. Even at eighty, he marveled at her skin, feather lite and smooth to the touch. He tried to remember how long they had known each other. When did they first meet? He could not recall. About forty years ago she appeared in his life. Married to a friend. He died. He had held his friend’s hand that last day or so and they drank together his final whiskey and laughed.
He remembers the rest of that day and of a few thereafter. People, shadows mostly, moving about the room doing things that needed doing. He remembers holding her, grief-stricken and shaking. He recalled shadow cars passing beside him on the drive home.
Months later, when did the embrace of comfort lead to passion? Why? And now, almost a year more, worried about falling asleep in each other’s arms without laughing — without pleasure.
“How old” he thought, “must one be before love dies?” “Or does it. Yes, often. But this? No, I do not think so.”
He stroked her arm. Dry and warm. Soft so soft. “We look so much like crumpled cardboard when we are old,” the thought, “yet in fact, we are soft and delicate. Bones, the bones of birds, light and fragile. What has our flight of life seen so far? — Too much.” He snuggled closer. He did not want to get up that morning. He just wanted to remember the past, his dreams. His dreams, last night he recalled, he had washed up on the shore of an Island in a sea he had visited before — not in life, but in other dreams.
The natives in a little village took him in. “Was she there,” he thought? “No, Yes,” a wisp of a thought a longing. Who were these people, these natives? He could not understand their language and yet he could. He was not supposed to be there. It was not for him. Yet he was there and they needed him.
There were others, you see. Others on that island. Others that should not be there or should. They did not want him there. “Their world,” the villagers said or perhaps they didn’t, “is out of balance.”
Even during his dream, he could feel the warmth of her body pressing against him and remember her smell as she came to bed and folded herself into his arms.
Others came, they did not like the people in the village. “No,” he said to them “No.” He was on a ship. Their ship or his — he could not tell. The Island seemed to crumble before his eyes. “No,” he said again.
He woke up sweating and entwined in her arms. “Did we laugh before we fell asleep last night?” he said to her.
Late that morning, while sipping his morning coffee, he looked out the window. “Will it all crumple,” he thought? “for both of us?” “No, Yes, perhaps.”
He was dying, you see. He wanted more — years even days will do.
That day, he left the house they shared. One more errand. Once more a task he had done before. Then he would be free. They would be free. For what. To laugh before they sleep a few times and then no more.
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
This and That…March 2012:
When I began “This and that…” almost two and one-half years ago I thought of it as merely a travelogue and tales of my missteps and foibles as I settled into retirement in another country and culture. Something with which to amuse me and a few friends and family.
Recently I have begun posting them into a blog and adding excerpts from my Diary and email exchanges with those of you who read them and choose to comment. Although I have entered a year or so of posts, I have completed entering everything, the posts, Diaries, and comments, on only the first quarter of 2010. In rereading it, I find myself somewhat disturbed, because I, as I see them for the first time all together, am meeting someone I did not know. Someone who I think even less of than I did. The Posts recorded my somewhat self-centered and self-indulgent adventures intending to be slightly amusing and to some extent artificial. The Diary entries reveal an even lesser person, perhaps even more self-indulgent and erratic. The exchanges of comments show, in my opinion, an insensitivity on my part that at times revolts me.
“Much of modern art often called serious by some, whether by those who benefit from the artists production or by artists themselves in their eternal struggle to break from the past and garner success of their own, has become not too much more than the so-called artists infatuation with his or her own experiences, assuming therein exists novelty. Alas, there is no novelty only recognition. As a society that no longer needs to move from cocooned comfort and travel the world like Burton or Stanley for physical or mental adventure, we now look within and wonder if we are different, unique and find too often we are not. In fact, we are less, less unique and less interesting than we feared. Does that make us feel better? Perhaps it is a cultural thing, the descent of Western man (and it is definitely both western and men) from their Procrustean cross into their all too soon to be despoiled grave.”
(I cannot believe I wrote that last paragraph. Worse, I cannot believe I let people see it for a second time.)
1. Sir Issac Newton believed doomsday would be in the 21 Century, calculated from clues in the Bible.
2. Benjamin Franklin invented the flexible catheter in 1752 when his brother John suffered from bladder stones. Franklin’s catheter was made of metal with segments hinged together with a wire-enclosed to provide rigidity during insertion. I bet Ben’s brother never spoke to him again after that enlightening experience. Experimenting on others is a cornerstone of medical science.
A. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
“Doing something incredibly stupid and getting away with it can make your whole week.”
B. Today’s Poem:
A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General
His Grace! impossible! what dead!
Of old age too, and in his bed!
And could that mighty warrior fall?
And so inglorious, after all!
Well, since he’s gone, no matter how,
The last loud trump must wake him now:
And, trust me, as the noise grows stronger,
He’d wish to sleep a little longer.
And could he be indeed so old
As by the newspapers we’re told?
Threescore, I think, is pretty high;
’Twas time in conscience he should die
This world he cumbered long enough;
He burnt his candle to the snuff;
And that’s the reason, some folks think,
He left behind so great a stink.
Behold his funeral appears,
Nor widow’s sighs, nor orphan’s tears,
Wont at such times each heart to pierce,
Attend the progress of his hearse.
But what of that, his friends may say,
He had those honours in his day.
True to his profit and his pride,
He made them weep before he died.
Come hither, all ye empty things,
Ye bubbles raised by breath of kings;
Who float upon the tide of state,
Come hither, and behold your fate.
Let pride be taught by this rebuke,
How very mean a thing’s a Duke;
From all his ill-got honours flung,
Turned to that dirt from whence he sprung.
BY JONATHAN SWIFT
D. Adventures with Hayden:
CHRISTMAS SEASON 2016 — TOPPLING CHRISTMAS TREES AND SUPER GLUE.
One afternoon, we arrived home to find our fully decorated Christmas tree lying on its side amidst a splatter of broken ornaments and spruce needles. Dick the engineer hypothesized that the tree, despite out heroic endeavor three days ago to balance it properly, was, in fact, unbalanced and it took the tree this long to realize it. So, we lifted up the tree, rebalanced it, placed additional weights on the bottom, redecorated it with the remaining unbroken ornaments and hoped for the best.
On Saturday, a day of horrendous rain and fog, HRM happily announced he was going out to play in the rain. Noticing one of the eyelets in his boots was detached he decided to reattach it with superglue before flitting about in the rain. As misadventure would have it, rather than attaching the eyelet to the boot he managed to glue both his own eyes shut. HRM, Dick and I, then spent the next eight hours in the emergency rooms of two separate hospitals where the doctors worked to unstick his eyelids. One of the doctors, who was quite amused by it all, took me aside and asked, “We see this a lot, where children [usually in the 3 to 6-year range] glue one eye shut with super glue, but we have never seen anyone who managed to glue both eyes shut. How did he do this?”
“HRM,” I replied, “is a very special child.”
WWE blew in from SE Asia in concern for the welfare of her progeny and then promptly refused to accompany him to the ophthalmologist claiming she had more important things to do.
“The besetting vice of high office is the temptation to micromanage, to take direct control of a small, concrete, easily understood subsidiary operation and start issuing orders, to the detriment of the chain of command (and the neglect of the big picture). The reason micromanagement is a vice is that it’s a temptation to self-indulgence: it’s too easy to get carried away. Taking on a low-level coordinating role while retaining the full executive authority and fiscal responsibilities of senior rank is like playing a game you’ve mastered on the lowest difficulty level.”
Stross, Charles. The Labyrinth Index (Laundry Files) (Kindle Locations 4545-4548). Tom Doherty Associates.