TODAY FROM THAILAND:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:
Why are these people smiling?
So, I spent the Memorial Day weekend at my sister’s house in Mendocino. The sky was overcast and the ocean calm and gray. It was abalone hunting season. Parked cars filled the side of the road along the bluff disgorging their black-rubber suited occupants and their tire irons. The divers lined up and marched down the sinuous steep paths that snaked along the bluff face to the water below. From the top of the bluff, they looked like a dark ant army covering the rocks and invading the kelp beds. A lot of them were Asian, Japanese and Chinese tourists I guess, flown over here for the abalone hunting season. I suspect, if they were Muslim the current administration in Washington would suddenly become abalone conservationists.
Most of the time, Mary, George and I sat in the house by the large windows overlooking the ocean talking and laughing among ourselves or buried in some book or reading the NY Times.
On Sunday, we went to the Casper Community Breakfast and Flea Market. Mary and George set up a few tables in the grassy area at the side of the Casper Community Center. On the tables, we placed a few things they had lying around their garage to be sold at the market.
I headed off for the community breakfast leaving them to their commercial endeavors. The community volunteer waitpersons sat me in a middle seat at a rectangular table seating six. I did not know anyone else at the table. Having as a result of my therapy an upset stomach, lost most of my hearing and taste, and blurry eyesight, I had little expectation of enjoying either the food or the company. Suddenly across the room, I saw a nose — Not just any nose but a magnificent nose. The nose was appended to the face of one of the woman volunteers waiting on the tables. As noses go, it was extremely well shaped. It was also huge as though insisting we all acknowledge its magnificence. It moved through the dining room like an icebreaker through the Arctic. I was enthralled.
As many of you know, I abhor the cult of small noses and people who have them. It is insulting to those individuals proud of their prominent noses to know that others are encouraged to cut theirs off so they may become fashionable. Why are tiny-tot noses so fashionable anyway? What are they hiding behind those tiny nostrils? How do they enjoy the full aromas of life around them? Where is the facial drama — the character — the pride?
Now that is a Nose to Remember.
B. BACK TO THE GOLDEN HILLS:
On Monday, Memorial Day, I drove back to EDH. It was a long but relatively pleasant drive— past Lake Mendocino, Lucerne (The Switzerland of California), Clear Lake, through the wildfire ravished forests of blackened trees, the folded hills and out into the green expanse of Great Valley and into the Golden Hills. Since returning, I have resumed exercising — walking around the lakes in Town Center and swimming in the pool at the health club.
One day, I took HRM to the orthodontist to have his braces removed. I was startled when, following the removal, I was invited to watch everyone, including the orthodontist himself, sing, dance and throw around balloons to celebrate HRM’s relief from two years of discomfort.
That is the orthodontist on the right showing off his dance routine.
When I was a kid I never heard of dancing dentists. I still think it is odd. Lampedusa in his novel Il Gattopardo has his main character, the aging Prince, after observing the antics of the younger nobility at the great ball of the Sicilian nobility, comment, “Just look at them. In another generation, they will be climbing back into the trees.”
My departure next week for Italy and Southeast Asia has me a bit anxious. A few months ago I spent two days planning the trip knowing I will still be suffering the side effects of my treatments. I researched and listed in a notebook all the things I absolutely should bring along with me and how they should be packed. I planned out meticulous itineraries and identified all the pertinent phone numbers and contacts I would need. Finally, I prepared a detailed budget. Then as I always do, I promptly ignored everything finding it all too complicated and deciding instead to wait for my departure date, grab whatever is near at hand and take off hoping for the best.
For eight years I have sent out This and that from re Thai r ment to my best and closest eighty or so friends.(I have also published them in a blog https://josephpetrillo.wordpress.com/ ) I thought it would be interesting (to me at least) to go back and look at my first post from each year. Here are some excerpts:
January 17, 2010: From Thailand.
“I arrived safely in Thailand and am now attempting to cope with jet lag in my hotel.
Normally, I despise 20-hour plane rides, but sometimes, like on this trip, the movies make up for the discomfort. I managed to see:
‘The Bastards’: Great Tarantino. All the gratuitous violence you could want wrapped into an engaging story.
“Surrogates,” with Bruce Willis. He seems to make a career out of appearing beat up and disheveled. This was a lot like, but not as good as, “Twelve Monkeys” but worth seeing nevertheless.
“Zombie Land.” I expected to hate it but enjoyed it a lot. A road picture with 4 misfits who hook up and find a life, if only to fight zombies. Great bit with Bill Murray.
Some coming of age French flick with the usual, but much more intelligent, teenage angst and starring an actress whose name I did not catch playing the mother of one of the slightly wayward girls and who is one of the most engaging actresses I have seen in a while.
Well, that’s all for now, most of the rest has been sleep.”
January 11, 2011: From Thailand.
“I guess leaving Paradise by the Sea and traveling to the Big Endive by the Bay can be looked at as an adventure that at least began in Thailand and ended back there as well.”
January 1, 2012: From Thailand.
“Yesterday I was in my manic state, the drooling but happy one. On my way to exercise in the morning, I felt good enough to do an impromptu little soft shoe on the street corner including a Durante-like shuffle with my hat waving in my hand by the side of my face. The Little Masseuse was embarrassed and asked me to stop before people began to think I was not 100 percent.”
January 4, 2013: From El Dorado Hills.
“I am considering starting a new blog. It will focus on commentary about historical events. Of course, if it is anything like my current and past attempts at blogging, I can expect that after a year of effort, I will have received about 35 hits and perhaps a dozen comments. About half of the comments will be from Nigeria or someplace like that letting me know that my efforts have changed their lives and inquiring if I would be willing to open up a bank account in their name where they could deposit $20 million they just happened to find lying around in the jungle that, for “technical” reasons, they cannot move out of the country. The other half will come from people with names like Cindy, Mindy, Sandy, Darla, and Isabel telling me how “awesome” (yes, that is the word they use) they found my post to be and how awesome (again) it would be to get together sometime where we could exchange blogs in private.
Anyway, I am thinking of naming the blog, ‘A Commentary on Historical Events or What the Fuck Happened?’”
January 16, 2014: From El Dorado Hills.
“I have not written here for about three weeks in part because I have grown a bit tired of T&T, but mostly because my blood clots have returned and I am too depressed to do much of anything. Today was the first day I have been able to walk for any length of time since the clot was discovered. I walked this afternoon to the duck pond and back. It felt good to be up and about. The sun was shining and the weather was quite warm for this time of year.”
January 9, 2015: From El Dorado Hills.
“Today I said to myself, “The hell with the temperature or my physical maladies I’m going swimming.” So I dove into the outdoor pool at my new health club and swam for twenty minutes which is pretty good since I have not seriously exercised for over two months. After my swim, I spent some time in the hot tub, took a steam bath and showered. It made me very happy.”
January 14, 2016: From El Dorado Hills.
“On this the first day of the year 2016 of the Gregorian Calendar, my 76th year of life on this minor piece of interstellar detritus, I decided to review the 200 or so books I read in the past year. I discovered, to my not so great surprise, that I would classify all but about 20 of them as entertaining trash. My first resolution of 2016 is to reduce the number of non-trash novels I read to below 15. At my age, I see no pressing need for self-improvement.
My goal in life is to have no goals — a few desires perhaps but nothing greater than the most ephemeral of longings. When I was 5 or 6 years old and someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I always responded, “ a bum” or “a hobo.” It seemed to me, even then, that any other life choice demanded submission to the desires usually of others but sometimes my own and not to the simple limits of nature. I guess this means I craved a minimalist life of aimless wandering punctuated by brief moments of inconsequential obsessions. It is a very hard thing to do. I usually just take a nap and consider the day a success.
Speaking of naps, I take them not so much to rest but to enter an alternate reality when my waking life seems to be on re-run. As an example, on Sunday HRM was gone on a play date, Dick decided to take the day off to rest and I had no car. It was cold and rainy, so going for a walk was out. I was soon bored with reading Facebook posts and decided to nap and visit my alternate reality. In this case, I found myself in a large log structure during the dead of a snow-filled winter day. There were several families living there in a communal arrangement. Most of the families were led by women but some were led by men. Children happily played around the fire pits. We seemed not to be stressed by any outside events that may have caused us to be there but, in fact, we appeared quite happy… and then toilet overflowed and things got weird — I could not get the plunger into the bowl, people kept telling me I was doing it all wrong, strange creatures appeared in the snow then disappeared and the overflow topped my shoes and drenched my socks. “Shit,” I exclaimed unnecessarily. So I woke myself up before things got worse and I went back to Facebook which although just as weird as my dreams at least my socks stay dry.”
January 1, 2017: From El Dorado Hills.
Treatment has begun to take on the feeling of a deadly boring job. Get up, off to work, come home and prepare for the next day, catch a few social interactions and some entertainment where one can.
HRM has settled happily into the Christmas dither, shopping for presents and planning the cake he intends to bake for us. I asked him what he would like for a present. He said, “A toy I can play with for a day and then forget.”
The week that began with great promise as to the course of my treatment came to a close with me feeling more like road kill. So, I complained to the hoards of technicians attending me at the hospital that I was beginning to question the value of experiencing the pain and that I considered balancing that against possibly living five more years or so. They gave me a prescription that I was to pick up the next morning at a pharmacy near the hospital.
The next morning, I arrived at the pharmacy and was given a bottle filled with a pink liquid. The medicine was labeled, “Magic Mouthwash.”
Now, I am of that generation where referring to something as Magic this or that was usually not medicine and certainly not approved by the FDA. In addition, this particular medicine did not come accompanied by those inserts containing, in small and unreadable print, descriptions and warnings about your purchase. Instead, it contained a one-page notice that read in part:
Uses: Consult your pharmacist.
How to Use: Consult your pharmacist.
Precautions: Consult your pharmacist.
Drug Interactions: Consult your pharmacist.
Side effects: Consult your pharmacist.
Overdose: Call 911 or local poison control center.
So, I asked the pharmacist. He took me into a corner and, sotto voce, rattled off several long GrecoRoman words representing the contents of the medicine. I gleaned there were a least two antibiotics and a pain control substance. The other two or three ingredients escaped me.
Anyway, I took the magic mouthwash with me to the hospital parking lot where, in my car, I poured the amount of liquid the pharmacist recommended into a small plastic cup and swished it around my mouth.
Suddenly pain shot through my entire body and everything went white. Sort of like what happens when one takes those magic potions that appear so prominently in the cheap fantasy novels I am so fond of reading. When my eyes cleared, I fully expected to see a few pixies tossing gold dust dancing in the car in front of me, a unicorn in the parking space beside me and Marley’s ghost. Instead, I found myself free of pain and washed in a warm comfortable glow.
So, I left the car, skipped through the rain and into the hospital to find the chief nurse of the Radiation Oncology Department.
She was in her office dressed in fuzzy antlers and Santa Claus cap and a dark green tunic covered in Christmas ornaments. “What do you know about “Magic Mouthwash,” I enquired?
The nurse is from England and speaks with a Cockney accent so thick that, at best, I could understand only every other word. She also refers to me as “my darling” instead of Joe, or Mr. Petrillo or even Pookie. “Oh that,” she responded. “That’s your doctor, Dr. Jones’, favorite potion.(yes she used that word).” “He and the pharmacist cooked it up for when the patients are experiencing too much pain.” She then listed the ingredients like the pharmacist did. This time I caught that one of them was a steroid. That, I thought, explained the skipping through the rain.
“Oh,” I said. “Uh, what about the FDA?”
“Don’t worry my darling, all the ingredients have been approved. They only mixed them together. The patients seem to like it a lot.”
“I can well understand that,” I responded.
A. Iroquois on Top:
“Who were the Haudenosaunee? (Pronounced Ho-deh-no-shaw-nee.) We know them as the Iroquois, a league of six nations of the Northeastern Indian tribes, consisting of the Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Cayugas, Senecas (the original Five) and later the Tuscaroras. Their confederacy stretched across most of New York State to Lake Erie, south to the Adirondack chain, west to the Ohio Valley, and north into Ontario. Iroqu (meaning rattlesnake) was the name given to them by their enemies the Algonquins. The French added the suffix “ois,” as an insult, thus the name Iroquois. They preferred to be called the Haudenosaunee (People of the Long House).”
“Dekanawidah, born in Ontario, founded the Iroquois and bound the original five nations together into a Confederacy, establishing the Gayanashagowa – The Great Binding Law – which ensured a lasting peace among these independent tribes. They were bound together with this formal “constitution.” To this day the Iroquois are the oldest, continuous participatory democracy on Earth! The Ha do no sau nee, living in peace under one common law. They have practiced this representative form of government for centuries. In the Iroquois’ Book of the Great Law, there are striking parallels with our country’s Executive, Legislative, and Judiciary branches. It is well acknowledged by historians that the democratic principles of the Six Nations influenced and shaped the Constitution of the United States.”
“Apart from this remarkable fact is an even more astounding item. The clan mothers (or Gantowisas) were female officials who enjoyed political, economic, religious and social powers unprecedented and unparalleled in any civilization! These ladies owned the land and homes, and all the children. They had the right to adoption, to determine life and death. They declared and ended wars. They conferred or retracted citizenship. They had the exclusive right to raise up or depose Chiefs. They had to be represented in all councils. They made or abrogated treaties. They also held trusteeship of tribal property. The tribes relied on their opinion and ability to make wise decisions. These women were the political and social backbone of all the Confederacy.”
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
I have always craved a minimalist life of aimless wandering punctuated by brief moments of inconsequential obsessions.
C. Today’s Poem:
Excerpt from Lyrics to “The Crickets Have Arthritis,” by Shane Koyczan.
It doesn’t matter why I was there, where the air is sterile and the sheets sting.
it doesn’t matter that I was hooked up to this thing that buzzed and beeped every time my heart leaped, like a man whose faith tells him:
God’s hands are big enough to catch an airplane
or a world,
doesn’t matter that I was curled up like a fist protesting death,
or that every breath was either hard labor or hard time,
or that I’m either always too hot or too cold
it doesn’t matter because my hospital roommate wears star wars pajamas,
and he’s nine years old
His name is Louis
and I don’t have to ask what he’s got, the bald head with the skin and bones frame speaks volumes.
The Gameboy and feather pillow booms like, they’re trying to make him feel at home ‘cause he’s gonna be here a while
I manage a smile the first time I see him and it feels like the biggest lie I’ve ever told.
so I hold my breath
cause I’m thinking any minute now he’s gonna call me on it
I hold my breath
cause I’m scared of a fifty-seven-pound boy hooked to a machine, because he’s been watching me, and maybe I’ve got him pegged all wrong, like
maybe he’s bionic or some shit.
so I look away…
“They say Los Angeles is like The Wizard of Oz. One minute it’s small-town monochrome neighborhoods and then boom— all of a sudden you’re in a sprawling Technicolor freak show, dense with midgets.”
Wong, David. John Dies at the End (p. 23). St. Martin’s Press.
The Second Most Embarrassing Photograph Ever Taken of Me.
“We are what we repeatedly do.”
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
First, I learn that my body has turned against me. Then, my country went insane. It was not a good beginning to the week. So, I overdosed on valium and crawled into bed hoping I could escape into my fantasy world. No such luck. I could not sleep. For the remainder of the week, I refused to read a newspaper, open either my computer or cell phone or look at television. I did sober up one day and slip out of my room to see a movie, Dr. Strange. I thought it was appropriate.
The next week, I was forced to leave the house and begin the rounds of the specialists who poked and prodded me, stuck needles in several different parts of my body and rammed hoses down my nose and my throat while they rambled on with happy talk punctuated with brief descriptions of the pain I would suffer from the treatment they were so eager to provide me.
I tried to get my mind around why, at my age, I would want to submit myself to all that for the sole purpose of living a few extra years reading second-rate novels while I slowly lose my hearing, sight and mind anyway. I mean, it is not as though I am looking forward to the glories of a Trump presidency or watching the Bay rise to cover the Embarcadero or even the possibility of a 49r Super Bowl.
But they, the doctors, the specialists, five so far, whose separate offices are spread across the Great Valley, all seem to be excited about the coming battle. I think the cure may be more important to them than it is to me. They happily croon of the high probability of success and boost my morale by pointing out that the treatment I will go through is far less painful and demeaning than experienced by others with much more severe malignancies. I respond, that I am a hypochondriac, a coward, have an unbelievably low threshold of pain and begin whimpering when I drive by a hospital. I also pointed out I am a depressive held together with massive amounts of happy pills. They counter with promises of an unlimited supply of drugs of my choice to keep me pain-free and happy.
Amusingly, I guess, my problems with my throat and tongue they tell me are caused by HPV. It seems women relatively often develop cervical cancer from this form of STD. “But,” I told the doctor, “I haven’t gone down there in many years.” He explained that it can take 30 years or so for the tongue and throat cancer to develop. I thought this was a rather sad fact to contemplate. Even pleasure can be deadly. In my last T&T, I pointed out that shark bite causes fewer deaths than vending machines. Now I discover that oral sex is even more deadly than those predatory machines. Sometimes I read SciFi novels about humans who land on another world only to find the flora and fauna there to be deadly to humans. It seems as though we do not have to travel to distant planets to find that danger. Here on earth, it appears that just about anything can kill you, especially members of your own species and the machines they create supposedly for your convenience.
On a lighter note, after dropping HRM off at school in the mornings as I drive to Bella Bru for breakfast, I top a rise in the landscape that exposes a magnificent view of a huge stretch of the Great Valley (the Central Valley). For some quirky reason, much of human development disappears from view and I imagine it appears as it did to the indigenous peoples of the area or the first invaders from the East, vast and empty. I often wonder what those invaders from the East, the American so-called settlers thought when they saw what appeared to be that vast emptiness spread out below them. Certainly not simply a potential homestead and the romance of a new life, but also, and more likely, given the reasons for their migration, something that can be cheaply exploited, like a lion topping a hill and seeing what appears to be unlimited herds of gazelles grazing on the grass below.
The cold weather and rains have moved into the Golden Hills ending my swimming for the year and forcing us to spend more time in the house. It is Thanksgiving week vacation for HRM and he remains bubbly and bored spending more time on his computer than is probably good for him. Dick is occupied with caring for the dog, Pepe, who clearly has only a few days or weeks to live. It will be hard for him when the dog dies. I think he has been closer to it than to any person in his life. I, on the other hand, content myself with reading and drifting off to sleep and my dream life. I plan to spend the holidays in Mendocino with my sister. Nikki flies in to entertain HRM and Dick, I suppose, will get on with his grieving.
Twilight in the Golden Hills
B. MORE FROM TAHIR SHAH:
In previous issues of T&T, I have discussed a few of the books by travel writer Tahir Shah. They generally discuss Mr. Shah’s low cost, somewhat bumbling and humorous expeditions to locate non-existing or mythical places or people — King Solomon’s Mine’s, the Gonds of Gondwana Land, Indian magicians and most recently the last refuge of the Inca’s, Piatiti in the Madre de Deus cloud forest of Peru. I thought his inept explorations, often relying on the stories of odd individuals he meets along the way, were literary devices intended to make his obviously humorous travelogues more interesting. However, in doing some background research on the most recent of his works I am reading, The House of the Tiger King, I am no longer so sure about that.
In the book, Tahir is accompanied by a Swedish father and son team of documentary filmmakers, their backer, a mysterious Ukrainian banker named Yuri, and a Bulgarian film student named Boris. They prove to be even more incompetent at filmmaking than Tahir is at exploring, losing much of their film along the way. Nevertheless, they produced a full-length documentary of the expedition whose production values are abysmal even for an art form known for low productions standards. Nevertheless, having located the documentary on YouTube, I found it a fascinating accompaniment to the book.
For security, the expedition hires an American ex-Vietnam veteran living in Peru on a diet consisting primarily of psychedelics. He quits halfway through the voyage and steals most of the exposed film and all of the expeditions morphine. Also accompanying them is the Seventh-day-Adventist leader of a small Peruvian village in the area who insists that the fabled city of Piatiti exists and had been found by a headhunter living in another village in which the residents supposedly still hunts heads. The head-hunter, when they locate him, denies he found the city but later recants and agrees to join them if they agree that after the expedition they will take him to Cusco to visit a whore house and a disco. The Seventh-day Adventist also warns them that the evil spirits that guard the city will require a dead body in payment for letting them through. This prompts a trip across Peru and a midnight raid of a 4000-year-old cemetery containing thousands of ancient mummies in order to secure the required dead body — no, I am not kidding you. I will not tell you how it all turns out other than to let you know that in the end of both the story and the film the head-hunter gets his trip to Cusco.
The documentary film can be found at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZNEvq6bQ4-A. For maximum amusement, I suggest reading a portion of the book, then watching the corresponding part of the film before going on to the next portion of the book.
I can assure you that after watching the film and reading the book you will be left with that most perplexing of all questions bedeviling humanity — Why?
The following continues a review of those eras of human history about which I have developed a fondness. In this case, it is the era I call the First Centuries, from 300 BC to 300 AD.
After the death of Herod the Great and the division of his Kingdom among his four heirs, the seething dissatisfactions among groups and polities along the Western shore of the Middle East began to boil over. Let us begin by listing some of the contending factions, many of whom disliked each other.
There were the various ethnic groups, the Nabateans, the Judeans, the Galileans, the Arameans, the Phoenicians, and the Egyptians including the ethnic Hebrews who resided there for about 500 years and the Theraputea. To the North in what is now Syria and Central Turkey groups of Hellenized Hebrews lived among the various tribes as did those Hebrews that lived in southern Mesopotamia. Then there were the Hellenes who were everywhere and of course the Romans who ruled them all. Among the Hebrews, few if any had ever even visited Judea and their ethnic cousins and co-religionists that lived there. It can be imagined that until the missionaries from Judea after the Maccabean revolution and Herod’s missionary management reforms armed with the Septuagint these peoples had little understanding of the various accretions to the laws and legends that had occurred over the hundreds of years of separation.
In was in Judea itself, however, that the most significant sectarian factionalism occurred. There we had:
The Sadducees, the minders of the temple and the Judean nobility who managed and profited from the sacrifices in the temple (Judaism was a sacrificial based religion like that of all the other Semitic tribes in the Middle East at the time.) They had been reorganized by Herod when he built the temple.
The Pharisees, I guess you could call them the canon lawyers. They focused on explaining and interpreting the various rules found in the sacred writings.
The Essenes, they can best be analogized to the Albigensians of the Middle Ages, semi-monastic communities. But. where the Albigensians frowned on sex, the Essenes were obsessed with bathing, the parentage of the chief priest of the temple, and the pettifogging way of the Pharisees.
The Baptists, begun by John as a merger of Hellenic cynicism (rejection of civilization and a return to the wild) and the bathing obsession of the Essenes, raising it to the level of a requirement for joining the group perhaps equal to circumcision.
The Zealots (the Sicarii faction of which were the ISIL of the time) dedicated to overthrowing Roman domination and Hellenic moral relativism.
None of these groups liked each other very much but they all hated the Romans although it is uncertain whether they hated them more than they hated each other.
There were probably also other groups active at the time in Jerusalem politics including a bit later the Jesus Church or faction. I guess we should now take a slight detour to discuss the phenomenon of Jesus who although is less important to our story than Paul and the Pharisees (Rabbis) was a necessary transition.
To be continued.
A. Quigley on Top:
When lecturing before the of Defense Institute in the 1970’s Professor Quigley was asked, how much support did he believe the dissenters in this country were getting from the Communists?
I’m sure the Communists are supporting the dissenters. But the Communists are of no importance. The Communist Party in this country was destroyed. Read Shannon’s history. It is extremely likely that by 1960 one of the chief sources of funds for the Communist Party in this country was the FBI spies who had joined it. And the chief financial support of the Communists from about 1920 to about 1950 was Wall Street. Why? I do not know. If you’re interested, look up the story of The Institute of Pacific Relations; it was financed by Lee Higginson & Company of Boston, Frederick Vanderbilt Field of New York, and other big money interests.
When these people cut off this money, about 1949, the Communists were pretty much finished. Their only other source of money was Moscow, and Moscow has never been generous with funds for local Communist Parties, which they believe should support themselves. According to an FBI estimate, I believe, the Communists in this country are down to about 15,000 members. Take Angela Davis. She is emotionally alienated from our society, and for good reasons, but this has little to do with communism, even if she is a member of the Party. This is why I say ideology is not really important in dissent. People become Communists not because they like the ideology, but because they wish to demonstrate their opposition, just as young people let their hair grow and won’t polish their shoes or wear neckties.
B. Trenz Pruca’s Observations:
It is not how you make your life that matters, but what you believe your life to be.
C. Today’s Poem
Dropping the Bow, by Andrew Schelling provides a selection from King Hala’s Gaha-kosa(“Book of Songs”), the original of which consists of 700 poems (approximately 200 BCE to 200 CE) Despite being penned by hundreds of different poets, the poems are all of the same meter, and contain approximately thirty-two syllables. Most of them deal with love. As selected and translated by Schelling, they are brief, usually erotic, and often emotionally charged, as this one by Hala himself:
with the blink of an eye
his love vanished
A trinket gets
into your world
you reach out and it’s gone
“The object explained a great deal. The man was an Aghori sadhu. My interest in the trophy heads of the Naga headhunters had led me to the Aghoris. Their beliefs are close to those of traditional shamans. The Aghoris said to have the power to overcome evil spirits, were traditionally confirmed cannibals. Their libations, which once included human blood, are drunk from the bowl of a human skull. But to an Aghori, the skull is far more than a simple drinking vessel. It contains the spirit of the deceased. The soul remains the Aghori’s prisoner until the skull is cremated. Such jinns, spirits, are tamed and put to work by the sadhu in his world of shadows.”
Shah, Tahir. Sorcerer’s Apprentice: An Incredible Journey into the World of India’s Godmen. Arcade Publishing.
“The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.”
–W. B. Yeats
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN EL DORADO HILLS:
SWAC has thrown her back out and now walks about like an arthritic octogenarian. Hayden has come down with some form of stomach flu and Dick is in LA chasing earthquakes. As a result, I have been pressed into the role of part-time nurse to supplement my ongoing role of part-time nanny.
Last Saturday while visiting with Bill and Naida, after noticing the butterfly net Hayden had brought with him to fish for crawdads, Bill told me about his youthful adventures as an accomplished Lepidopterist. For almost an hour I listened, fascinated, to stories about butterfly hunting in Northern California 60 years ago. When he and his friends, the Crocker brothers, were about 10 years old they persuaded the State Parks Department to allow them to replenish the deteriorating collections at several of the parks. I learned all about how to get the wings spread properly when mounting the specimens and the many varieties of swallowtail fluttering around in the Sierra’s.
On Thursday I took the train from Sacramento to San José. I looked forward to dinner that night with Bill Gates and Jerry Smith. I had not seen Jerry in over a decade. For those unfamiliar with Jerry Smith, he was the State Senator who was the principle author of the California Coastal Act of 1976. He was later appointed to the Appellate Court by Jerry Brown at the end of Brown’s first turn as Governor of California over 30 years ago. After retiring Smith spent some time as an international consultant advising countries recently freed from soviet dictatorship on how to set up Anglo-American type judicial systems. Well after the time most people retire, he returned to school to study fine arts. He now is an accomplished sculptor.
We are perhaps the first generation in history where many of us live long enough in good health that we can enjoy five or six distinct careers during our lives and where it is not so strange to embark on one or two more after we reach 70.
Upon arriving in San Jose, Bill met me in his new shiny Ferrari racing red Jaguar. We had lunch at a local men only dining club where the food was pretty good. After lunch we smoked cigars and drank brandy and the like in the game room where we discussed politics and the coastal act with a few of the members. They were all local developers except one who owned a string of radio stations in Texas and Florida. They appeared to be the remnants of the Eisenhower wing of the Republican party. As usual my inclination to pontificate was in full flower and so I talked and talked.
We later travelled to Saratoga where we had dinner with Jerry Smith and talked some more about California Coastal protection program. Jerry was the legislator who carried the bill. Before dinner we drank some wine and watched Obama’s acceptance speech. Jerry had cooked a great ravioli dinner accompanied by local wines and olive oil. After dinner we toured his house to look at some of his sculptures including a fascinating cast bronze replica of tree branches and wonderful outdoor bamboo arrangement in bronze and copper.
On the way home we stopped off at Bill’s nightclub Myth in downtown Sacramento. It has become quite a popular venue. There were about 400 people there at the time we arrived. By then I was exhausted and on the down side of the alcohol euphoria induced by the copious quantities I had consumed earlier in the day. I could only barely acknowledge the noise and the crowding and the remarkably large breasts that seemed required to work as a waitress in the place.
B. NEWS STRAIGHT OR SLIGHTLY BENT:
1. Oh no, we cannot be the worst!
In a survey conducted in over 80 countries, 2,000 people were questioned on which countries have the world’s worst beer. The results listed the United States as #1, followed behind by China, the United Kingdom, Australia, France, and Italy. Budweiser was ranked as the #1 worst brand in beer by the takers of the survey.
2. Oh no again!
(Blame it on the beer.)
C. THAI OBSERVATIONS
The Bangkok Post Reported on August 28, 2012:
“Thais top infidelity chart.”
Thai men are ranked on top and their women are ranked second as the world’s most unfaithul [sic] lovers, with well over half of them admitting to frequent infidelity, according to a survey conducted by Durex, a condom producer.
Women from Thailand are ranked the world’s second most unfaithul [sic] lovers, according to the survey report.
The survey of 29,000 women in 36 countries names the women of Ghana the world’s most unfaithful, with 62 per cent of the women questioned there admitting they often cheat on their boyfriends and husbands.
Thai women were just a little more faithful, with 59 per cent admitting to infidelity, followed by Malaysia with 39 per cent.
In fourth and fifth place were Russia (33 per cent) and Singapore (19 per cent).
As for men admitting to extramarital affairs, Thailand came out on top (54 per cent) followed by South Korea (34 per cent) and then Malaysia (33 per cent).
(But they still don’t do it as often as Greeks.)
Pookie on Adultery:
I believe adultery violates God’s commandments, unless it is with a slave or concubine as the Bible permits. We should have uniform federal laws outlawing adultery, abortion and homosexuality unless you can afford it, or are a Republican candidate or are a priest, minister or Rabbi (Muslim clerics or rich people who profess Islam however are not excepted because to do so would be to condone sharia law. Also, they are not real Americans and they support terrorists.)
Adultery is a criminal offense in 23 states, with punishments ranging from a $10 fine in Maryland to life imprisonment in Michigan (at least according to one judge). It’s also prohibited by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. That means, for example, that Newt Gingrich may have violated the law in some of those 23 states. Where does he stand on the issue of criminals running for office? What is the religious right and the Catholic Church’s stand on adultery? Is it such a sufficiently lesser sin than supporting a woman’s right to choose that it does not disqualify one from running for office? Is it a lesser sin than Homosexuality? If Newt were gay could he become president? Does the Religious Right have any morals what-so-ever? Does the Newtster? Why would anyone name their child after a lizard?
In fairness to the Newtster, I have searched but found no evidence that either Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid committed illegal adultery in one of the jurisdictions in which it is illegal. On the other hand it is probably safe to assume Bill Clinton did, but he did not divorce his wife although the weight of opinion, I believe, felt she should have divorced him. Ah well, they remain happily married and living separately so I guess every thing is ok.
I have it on good authority that neither Mitt Romney nor Paul Ryan have had heterosexual sex in over a decade. On the other hand it is a known fact that the muslim Barack Obama has been shtupping a black woman, but that does not count.
2000 years: For 2000 years, 666 has been the number of the dreaded anti-Christ. An unlucky number for many, even the European parliament leaves seat number 666 vacant. The number is from the book of Revelation, the last book of the Christian Bible. However, in 2005, translation of the very earliest known copy of the Book of Revelation clearly shows it to be 616, not 666! The 1,700 year old copy was recovered from the city of Oxyrhynchus, in Egypt, and deciphered by a paleographical research team from the University Of Birmingham, UK. The team was led by Professor David Parker. (Listverse)
(Note: According to Wikipedia, area code 616 is the area code for the Grand Rapids and Grand Haven Michigan metropolitan areas, which includes Kent, Ionia and Ottawa counties, and parts of neighboring counties.
[Beware of people from Michigan!]
Also, Earth-616 is the name used to identify the primary continuity in which most Marvel Comics titles take place.
[Beware of Spiderman!]
Finally, 616 is the 25th member of the [H-A-X-Z Sequence], coming after 265, 351, 465 (it is the sum of the first two of these). 616 is a polygonal number in four different ways: it is a heptagonal number, as well as 13-, 31- and 104-gonal.
It is also the sum of the squares of the factorials of 2,3,4. i.e.. (2!)^2 + (3!)^2 + (4!)^2 = 4+36+576=616.
The Roman numeral for 616, DCXVI, has exactly one occurrence of all symbols except for L whose value is less than 1000 (D=500, C=100, X=10, V=5, I=1)
[Beware of anyone who knows this!]
Today: 75 percent of Japanese women own vibrators. The global average is only 47 percent.
(No wonder the Japanese birth rate is falling. This also may explain the last place finish of the Japanese in the above sexual frequency Olympics standings chart. I understand that 616 in the model number of the most popular vibrator in Tokyo.
[Beware of Japanese women! They are just not that into you.])
A. What “Occupy” is all about and what it really wants:
Mike Lofgren served 16 years on the Republican staff of the House and Senate Budget Committees. He has an article in The American Conservative entitled, “Revolt of the Rich – Our financial elites are the new secessionists.” I largely agree with it. He states:
“Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it. If one can afford private security, public safety is of no concern; if one owns a Gulfstream jet, crumbling bridges cause less apprehension — and viable public transportation doesn’t even show up on the radar screen. With private doctors on call and a chartered plane to get to the Mayo Clinic, why worry about Medicare?”
1. Use of words in political discourse, conservative style:
“The Right’s also better than us (liberals) at taking new phrases and using them to inject their terrible ideas into the public discourse. “Boning poor people” sounds awful and almost no one would support that, but call it “welfare reform” and people can really get behind it. Everyone likes the idea of eliminating supposed abuses, after all. “Privatization” sounds way less terrible than “giving away public assets for pennies on the dollar” or “taking Social Security and putting it all on black.” Creationism in public schools bothers a lot of people, but “teaching the controversy” about “intelligent design” sounds way more palatable. Fortunately for America, though, the public at large didn’t fall for this.”
Stumbling Through the Halls of Power
(Is Carville still alive or have I just forgotten that he always looked like a cadaver? I suppose the reason that Carville is usually the only Democrat commentator regularly invited to appear on Faux News is that he has been dead for the past five years.)
3. Which Group hates Obama most:
According to a recent Quinnipiac poll, Obama’s support among white males without college degree fell to 29%, which is the lowest of any Democrat in recent history.
C. Testosterone Chronicles: Penis file.
Researchers in Vietnam studying the marine life of the Mekong delta have identified a new species of the Phallostethidae family named Phallostethus cuulong . These are small fish found in rivers in South East Asia, easily distinguishable because of one bizarre anatomical feature – their penises are on their heads!
(On the other hand, dickheads are very common among humans.)
D. BOKONONISM: Sayings of Bokonon (Vonnegut)
On man’s power to control:
Any man can call time out, but no man can say how long the time out will be.
Also on man’s power to control:
It is not possible to make a mistake.
[ It is described as a “customary greeting given by all Bokononists when meeting a shy person.” ]
History! Read it and weep!
Of course it’s trash!
On man’s destiny:
Today I will be a Bulgarian Minister of Education. Tomorrow I will be Helen of Troy.
We do, doodley do, doodley do, doodley do,
What we must, muddily must, muddily must, muddily must;
Muddily do, muddily do, muddily do, muddily do,
Until we bust, bodily bust, bodily bust, bodily bust.
On the ignorance of learned men:
Beware of the man who works hard to learn something, learns it, and finds himself no wiser than before. He is full of murderous resentment of people who are ignorant without having come by their ignorance the hard way.
On “the heartbreaking necessity of lying about reality, and the heartbreaking impossibility of lying about it:”
Midget, midget, midget, how he struts and winks,
For he knows a man’s as big as what he hopes and thinks!
Last afternoon of the Geriatric Knights in which the Knights Get Down to Business (Cont.).
The virile member, to please women, must have at most a length of the breadth of twelve fingers, or three handbreadths, and at least six fingers, or a hand and a half breadth.
There are men with members of twelve fingers, or three hand-breadths; others of ten fingers, or two and a half hands. And others measure eight fingers, or two hands. A man whose member is of less dimensions cannot please women.
The Perfumed Garden, Richard Burton, trans.
Giufa Comes Home.
So, Giufa, fortified with the “Blue Pill,” a “Gold Pill”, Density’s magic Chinese “Black Pill” and a testosterone shot, felt he was more than ready for the celebration of the festival of coitus.
So, that day he reserved one of the “Love Temples” located off of the pool room at the Kennel Club and took Selma with him into the room to assist him with the rites.
They began with the customary removal of clothing and proceeded to the ritual of the “Fondling and Kissing of the Nipple.,” This was then followed by the ceremonial “pee-pee” by each of them. The shower service followed with the formal “Soaping and Washing of the Genitals.” Thereafter they entered upon the “Altar of the Bed” and proceeded to the “Laying Out of the Condom on the Nightstand” ceremony. Then following completion of the liturgical foreplay, they performed THE SACRED SHTUP that ended with Giufa shouting “Oh God” as proscribed in the literature.
After the completion of the ritual during which they attempted to exchange bodily fluids in every orifice they could imagine and after a brief period of rest, they commenced to perform the rituals in reverse, to unwind, so to speak, the completed ceremony; first the shower, then the pee-pee, the final “Fondling and Kissing of the Nipples” and the donning of the clothing. At last there was the obligatory wait while she put on her make-up.
They left the quiet of the temple and emerged into the raucous noise of the pool room. Density and Harvey looked up from their game of pool with several of the “Ladies-in waiting” smiled and nodded to Giufa.
Giufa now sanctified, threw back his shoulders, smiled, nodded and passed out from the Kennel Club and into the sunlight, eager to begin his quest.
Next issue, “Harvey gets his wish.”