Sunday, December 31, 2017

Have We Become Too Sensitive?

We make laws to avoid those things that offend our society. “Thou shall not kill” is a pretty good example of what should be common sense but no one follows the rules. Our laws are just reminders if you disobey there are consequences…. only if you are caught.
With all the release of restrictions in the 60’s and 70’s the kids broke free of the Puritan restraints and now?
If someone kneels during the playing of the national anthem some people become offended. A sign of showing submission as a protest to the playing of the Stars and Stripes forever upsets the sports community or the leader of the ‘free’ world. No matter of the chatter or drinking or swearing during the respecting of the flag is accepted, a group of people kneeling down silently as if in prayer is offensive. Is it right or wrong? You decide.
If someone should present a different point-of-view, even if it is repulsive, our laws allow him or her to say it unless it is physically harmful to another. The presenters may be hateful or god fearing depending on the interpretation and can be accepted or ignored by the law of the land. Social media will not let dead dogs lie and pound the bodacious ideology opposed by many or a few into viral ranting. Is it right or wrong? You decide.
Statues and monuments and symbols for whatever cause or meaning or belief have dotted the countryside for years without major opposition and sometimes just been ignored. Like so many habits or trends or acceptable sociological patterns people found their place. With the resurgence of awareness there is a resistance to the norm. What was questionable in the first place has now become unacceptable, even without the law. Is it right or wrong? You decide.
And those off color comments or taps on the hinny like ballplayers do after every touchdown that were commonplace for so many generations are now getting people fired. There is no excuse for this disgusting behavior and there has never been, yet it was accepted like pointed bras and calling your secretary “Honey” but from the Dallas cheerleaders half time show there is still a long way to go. Is it right or wrong? You decide.
Maybe this is a cultural awakening? Maybe we have been shocked into realizing our bad habits should be reevaluated and adjust for the diversity we have always existed with? Maybe we are over reacting to our sensibilities? Is it right or wrong? You decide.

On The Road

“Hello Susie?”
“No, this is her mother. I’ll get her. Susie!”
With hand over the receiver…
“She’s going to get her.”
Giggling muted laughter…
“Yes, who is this?”
Giggling muted laughter…
“Susie, I found your phone number on a pair of undergarments that were…er…”
“…they were thrown onto the stage and…”
Girlish giggling on phone…
“This is Hash Tagg and we were wondering?....”
“Oh My God!!!”
“…if you would like to come and…”
“ …if you have a few friends who would like to….”
“I can’t believe this. YOU are Hash Tagg of the Slag?”
“, yes and we wanted to know…”
Giggling muted laughter…
“ I had to come home early but it was like the most awesome show and you and Skatch and Mutton were like so awesome, I mean, you were like amazing awesome, I mean, like  I can’t even hear my ears now, you guys were like the best and…”
“Yeah, Susie, but we need an address or a place to meet you and your friends so we can party?”
“Oh yeah, sure, and I’ll call Carol and Donna and Betty and Henry and…”

“Ah, forget Henry. Why don’t you meet us at the ‘Pork & Beef’ next to the highway?”
Giggling muted laughter…
“Sure! I gather up the crowd and we’ll be like there in…”
“Make it quick because we will have to be moving on early…”
Giggling muted laughter…

Yes, boys and girls, that is how the shaggy lads would try and find a date as they passed through a strange town. Rather desperate but to the local girls they were a step up from the local jocks who played with their cars all day with their guy buddies and wanted to get randy under the bleachers at night.
Due to shady contracts and crooked management, the boys would have to be moving on to another cheap roadside motel with a broken ice machine leaving behind broken hearts, unwanted pregnancies, STD, broken glass and debt. Poor young lassies would find these ‘rock stars’ were no better than their boyfriends and maybe didn’t smell as good. Would they have gone to the prom? 
Did those rock warriors find love and affection while wandering up and down the east coast dive circuit to get paid in flat beer and lost guitars? Those who did stayed or tried to bring their chick along which broke up the camaraderie and so the band broke up. Where are you going to find a replacement drummer in Summerville, SC in July?
Once back home, these exhausted lads found their stay-at-home girlfriends had fallen for another wannabe music hero wanderers who stole their passion while away.
Garage bands ‘on-the-road’ was not easy, but as the long hair turns white and a few members are lost into space or the dirt, it was a movie without cameras.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Why didn’t we know about the Great depression?

This is for the baby boomers. You know who you are. Did your folks tell you about handling money?
They went through the Great Depression. That wasn’t just depressing but the entire country went through a crunch. Everything changed and jobs were lost and money was hard to come by. Families had to depend on each other to get through the day and some didn’t. Bread lines, factories shut downs, market crash, soup kitchens, farmer’s prices dropping and generally a rough time. Every penny had to stretch.
So when the resounding War years came along creating jobs to build tanks and bullets and formally unemployed hobos were sent overseas, the country’s economic recovery turned around. After we won (good thing we were so far away from the real fighting) we could easily transform the assembly lines into constructing cars and refrigerators and housing to keep those vets employed and off we went. (You can check out all the details. This is but a rough overview)
So as kids of this generation why did we not know the value of a buck? Why were we so privilege to have any toy or game or have the latest fashion living in a sheltered community with clean schools and highway vacations and if there was a need for that candy there was always a quarter available?
Why did not our parents teach us the value of the dollar?
There is always the theory that our parents wanted us to be better off than they were so they provided us with material wealth unknown by only the wealthy in previous generations. Shoot, we had television and telephones. Little snotty nose kids grew up expecting all desires to be realized, no matter the cost.
I do remember getting a bank account to put my first penance in for my parents knew that cash was burning a hole in my pocket and I’d be back begging for more. The teller would count the coins and bills and stamp my book with the grand total but I couldn’t have access to it until I went back for a withdrawal. Banks are funny that way. They want your money to play with and you are just secured in knowing they got it in a vault.
Then credit cards hit. These were merely loans from bank participants to get ‘FREE’ money and only had to pay back a minimum fee. Too good to be true and certainly it was yet much of my generation grew accustomed to and even dependent on these plastic card. They provided us with a lifestyle we could not afford but we didn’t care until the rent was due.
While my parents were putting away whatever nest egg they could while paying each bill in full, their children were out living the life of wealth and plenty and when they ran out asked for an interest free loan from their folks.
Maybe the car purchases or the house purchases or the children woke our generation up but we had already wasted years and dollars of frivolous behavior.
Today everyone is tending toward technology to make payments easy. Flash your phone or crypto currency bombarded by global access to investments or kick-starters and let the app tell if you have any money in the bank.
I do not have an answer for what the future holds. I hope I have enough money in the bank to see me through but tomorrow I could check and it could all been hacked and all I have is the food on the shelf but when the electricity cannot be paid how will I cook the processed food? When the lights go out how will I listen to music or write this?
This could happen.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Let’s Eat!

We must really be hungry. The first thing in the morning is to get some coffee to wash down some cereal, eggs, pancakes, coffee cake or doughnuts. After leaving the house it is off to Starbucks for some more muffins, scones, croissants or bagel, then it is off to work to check out the vending machines while watching the clock for a lunch break. Whether you have it delivered or rush home to prepare it, there is dinner or supper to be quickly followed by snacks in front of the television.
Think about it. Everywhere we go we are looking for a place to eat. No wonder there is so many restaurants, pubs, bistros and food trucks rewarding our interminable hunger.
Go on vacation and get something to eat. Check into the hotel and get something to eat. Go to the theme park and get something to eat. Enjoy the sport games then get something to eat. Take a drive and get something to eat.
Luckily we live in a country of abundance and stretch pants.

Road Trip

Have you ever just climbed into a vehicle and taken off to parts unknown with no agenda or logical reasoning but to just do it? There is no plan, there is no idea of cost, and there is no thought of running out of gas or eating or sleeping. It is just an adventure. It is just a road trip.
I have.
Have you traveled down a forgotten path dusty with history of another time and found yourself in a potentially dangerous situation with no possibility of escape? Have you pulled into the gravel of a long forgotten abandoned road side hotel and checked in with a bunch of friends you don’t know with no intention of ever paying for the roaches and filth? Have you ever met a stranger who invited you to a party and you went unbeknown what would await you? Have you ever walked down that dark alley hearing footsteps behind you and planned for your victory or demise?
I have.
Have you ever kissed a stranger with a long pressing of the lips because to end it would take all the breath away? Have you ever woken in a strange room where the light is flashing and you are inches from the floor and the room rocks with the sound of a neighbor screaming and you taste yesterday’s romance mixed with reality?
I have.
Have you ever walked away wondering if you had said the right thing or had made the wrong move or interpreted a word or a sound with a different meaning? Have you ever let yourself loose and then realize everyone else on the dance floor is looking at you? Have you ever fallen asleep in church? Have you ever regretted being passive knowing what was happening felt wrong? Have you ever sat in the still water with no sign of land around and wondered?
I have.
Have you ever given a compliment and not meant it? Have you ever held a baby crow? Have you ever laid on your back in wet grass in the middle of the night watching the universe go by in silence? Have you ever had your heart warmed by a smile? Have you ever had to dig the hole to bury a body?
I have.
Life is but a road trip of experiences that should be remembered and passed on so others don’t have to stumble and fall.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Brain Freeze

As mentioned, the neighborhood is barren of neighbors. This had promises of a quiet week, but that was a misnomer. Yesterday morning before the sun came up I am awaken to some banging and talking out front. “WTF! It is not 7AM yet.” After confirming that the noise was out in front of my next door neighbor’s house I figure he came back late and is out front trying to thaw out his Harley, but the noise continues. I open the door to see the neighbor across the street is having his roof replaced. An illegal alien crew is crawling all over his roof with hammers hammering, shovels scraping and power units buzzing. That explains why the last rain all their lights were on and people were scurrying back and forth and looking at the roof. They did the job in one day so it seemed so again expecting a cold quiet morning, but that was not about to happen. At the crack of dawn I hear a big truck stop. “Now what?” Then I hear this motor start up. “Is motorcycle boy back working on his bike in the backyard?” Then that all too familiar sound of tree limbs being turned into sawdust started. A crew of professional looking fellas in red puffy winter suits and black helmets were cutting down another neighbors tree. The tree was decaying and had lost some limbs but this was the coup de grâce. No more napping today, even though there was that brief vision of a road trip with police cars racing and repairs to highways and lost in a stone village like Bethlehem.
It was time to face the day. Another layer of long johns and the sunshine might fake my mind into thinking it was warmer than 21 degrees (let’s not talk about wind chill due to I don’t have a heater on my bike…. Or a windscreen.) Usual warm up and stretch routine with a welcoming by the girls checking out the stump and it was off and away. When it gets this cold the chain will slip now and again but the wheels keep turning. Maybe last night wasn’t the best time to shave? Santa will be back next December. I notice that the brain does freeze in this weather. While the legs move automatically the eyes and the mind have to be constantly woken from a numbness to stay alert of oncoming traffic. The fingers and thumbs get the brunt of the wind and start to numb but the body stays warm by the heart pumping faster and the lungs breathing harder the thin air. Once inside, there are no small carts. I like small carts because I don’t buy much and I can whiz around like a kid on a skateboard. Instead I had to settle for a dreadnaught size battleship with a basket that went out about a mile. It was just like the president’s theme song. I push this monstrosity around the aisles until I remember ‘New Year’s Day’. I’ve got to get the ingredients for the first of the year. It is tradition. Ham, black-eyed peas, collard greens, stewed tomatoes and biscuits. Moving back to the canned vegetable aisle there are lots of folks looking at the beans. I know what they are there for but my big ass cart can make it through the crowd, so I move backwards to get a ham steak (more than enough) and some flakey biscuits. Another journey by the aisles and the search goes on. Unfortunately when the weather gets cold, I look for comfort food. Not because I’m hungry but just because you can’t eat mashed potatoes when it is 100 degrees. My morning was trying to decide whether to make pancakes or breakfast biscuits but my will power avoid either and settled on another cup of coffee. Finally the way was clear and I too could stand in front of the mass variety of beans and…. “Where are they? I know they have them. I saw them the other day.” A woman in 20 layers of faux fur came up and lowered her glasses in her own investigation for the illusive ‘Black-Eyed Peas’. Feeling uncomfortable about my personal space being invaded by this investigation for these seedpods, I move onto the deli section. Not one for the sweet tooth but this weather brings out the desire for coffee cake. Sure enough the table of the Ukrop’s has the almond coffee cake drizzled in enough sugar to charge a car engine for 100 miles. Now I’m a reformed Krogernitt. I was a A&Pen before becoming a Safewayiner, then had to adjust to be a Hannafordian until conversion to the Tummy Temple of Kroger. While never a true Ukropian I understood the following of young yuppie ushers in green aprons pushing your cart to your car. There are some interesting looking pecan pies but I should not buy a full pie – yet, there is some small size in a four pack. I move away from the temptation only to find another. “Hey lady, can I borrow your phone?” There she was again with that smile that can melt your socks. Again we chatted for brief times fondly remembering what could have been and knowing full well she is getting a ½ pound of turkey for her teenage sons on college break. I went back and picked up the little pecan pies. Finally the decision of to get the rest of the ingredients for New Years and search for the last element some warmer day. So with a break in the action I reach down to get the collard greens and just above that shelf is “Black-Eyed Peas”. TaDa! It makes since but no one will find them. In my celebration of the mystery find I forgot stewed tomatoes so I’ll have to come back again tomorrow, but tomorrow they say will be warmer, say around 40. Break out the shorts. The critters are fed but the water is frozen and it is time for the setting sun and going back into the Big House to the balmy 64 degrees. Maybe I’ll have some coffee and pecan pie?

Monday, December 25, 2017

Monday, December 25

Christmas day. The day that separates BC from AC (or is that a rock band?) is so important, why isn’t it the first day on the calendar? Why doesn’t the year start on December 25?
And what is with this story of a baby being born in a barn and changing the world? From what I heard the couple were looking for a place to sleep when all the rooms were occupied so they took the option of a donkey, teenage mother and a carpenter would spend the night with the cows and horses and goats and what other creatures in a stable. Now, if you have ever been in a stable you know what that smells like. Sweet dreams.
As the story goes the mommy decided to push out the baby that night. Who boiled the water? So now there is this screaming newborn in the barn in the middle of the night keeping all the neighbors awake.
So these sheepherders come down from grazing their flocks, probably driven out by the Ponderosa cattlemen, to see what all the commotion is about. 
Then there are these three Kings? Kings of the road might be more appropriate. After a night of hard drinking these traveling salesmen stagger through the little town of Bethlehem and come upon the wonder of birth with a chorus of screaming baby, baying animals and annoyed neighbors. It must have been a scene. So these dudes, being in the spirit, offer the couple of Mister and Mistress Christ, for we can only assume they were married by then, sample wares of their trade, Gold (not bad gift of value then and now), Frankincense (an incense that can be burned for fragrance or Frankenstein, one wonders) and Myrrh (an embalming ointment used to keep the stench down from the rotting corpse).
And then there is this Santa guy? What is he all about? He doesn’t seem to be related to ησοῦς (Iesous) or ישוע‎  or Jesús but why call him a Spanish name?
Well as the Beach Boys say “Christmas comes this time each year” so mark it on your calendar. What do California surfers know of Christmas? When was the last time they had snow on the beach?
So the city is shut down. The businesses are shut down. The Chinese restaurants are open.
This year there were no big plans. No parties. No cavorting with silly celebrations. No decorations. Just a cold day on a quiet street in a shut down city listening to soothing guitar music until the big game. No lengthy preparation of substance absorbance but a frozen pizza that will be more than filling. A gingerbread man, some wedding cookies and a cup of mead but that is another story. A surprise message much appreciated yet offsetting. Some silly conversations and the usual post of families gathered around piles of paper and children’s faces that you can almost hear the laughter.
Tomorrow is the 26th of December. Trash day has been moved back so I have to remember to move the super cans into their appropriate spot before the arrival of my heroes. Tomorrow will be another day of work for those who do work in this last week of the year. Tomorrow will be packing up the car and jamming in the new loot to sit in the traffic jam to get home again. Tomorrow will be the day to return all that crap you got to get other crap or cash in on the cash. Tomorrow will be the day to take down the decorations and put away the tacky sweaters until next year same time. Tomorrow will be trying to figure meals based on half a turkey, left over macaroni and cheese and four bottles of flat wine. Tomorrow is when the real heavy coats and gloves and boots come out for the next stop is Winter.
But today is the day of reflection of good times and good cheer with family and friends hoping this blue ball we reside on continues to spin around a star.
And remember whose birthday this is.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Turmoil @ the Tummy Temple?

‘Tis the season, the day before Christmas and it deserves a trip to the Tummy Temple. There is plenty of stock piles but must keep up with my routine. Besides I need the air from staying up too late with Christmas cheer.
Down a couple of cups of dirty water while being preached to by a boy’s choir and with blurry eyes see a report that a good friend died yesterday. Bummer. Death is always bad but it seems more so around this season. He always had good stories and was an encyclopedia of musical knowledge.
Last night all the houses in the neighborhood were dark. The cars that remain have not moved. Attention: House Burglars. Colonial Place is closed for the season.
That means there is little to no traffic on the back streets. The stoplight has changed since they repaved the avenue and still getting used to it. A young lad on a bike with saddlebags rides by looking like a former me. The few folks out walking their dogs all smile and welcoming. Always be good to Santa before Christmas.
I find the traffic at the parking lot as a parade of mobile machines circle the pavement like vultures searching for a space. I expected more panic inside the chapel but it was fairly calm. More people than normal are searching for that last minute morsel to make the gathering complete. Everyone is checking their phones as the request come in from the homestead of new items need while their scouts scan the aisles then have to call back with too many choices of styles and sizes. A man staring at the spices ask his better whether it is cumin or coriander? What is cumin anyway? An excited black woman calls home to say the butcher is out of Santa sausage. I don’t want to know. While the veggies are stacked high the chips are flying out the door along with the wine. Seems like everyone will be having nachos since all the Doritos, Tostitos, and all other corn tortilla chips have vanished. I have to circle several times trying to find my path only to be block by a gentleman standing in front of the peanuts. He touches one of the cans and then steps back. He leans in to look at the price then compares down the row. He puts on his glasses and reverses his examination. He then gets on his phone to describe all the variations of cocktail goobers. Dude! They are just peanuts. Grab a can, throw it in your cart and move on. If they are wrong, the temple will be open until 6. Sorry Petie, it just wasn’t the day to get peanuts.
Reloaded enough for today and tomorrow, I weave my way back through the maze and pull into the empty neighborhood. Have to wait until it gets dark for my secret Santa delivery so I can relax in the peace and quiet, watch some large fellas bump into each other and listen to something other than boy’s choir or chipmunks singing carols.
Maybe I’ll go back before closing to watch the rolling and tumbling and see if that guy ever figured out which peanuts to get?

Thursday, December 21, 2017

What Did You Learn This Year?

As the year ends, we reflect on self-accomplishments, shared events, spiritual revelations, humanitarian feelings and opinions that turn to judgments. In one year houses are bought and sold, cars attended to, humans born and humans died, sleep lost and weight found, friendships made and passions forgotten.
You’ve read a lot of words, seen a lot of motions, heard a lot of thoughts and spent another 365 days of life. What did you learn from all that?
Think of all the books you read. Was it pure entertainment or research or did you come away more knowledgeable? Think of all the social media flooding you with real or fake news, opinions, comments and promotions. What did you learn through all that? Interaction communication, whether with your significant others or professional associates or total strangers can be enlightening? Did you learn anything?
Are you smarter this year than last year?
What did you learn about your family and friends? What did you learn about yourself?
How do you react to someone today that was different than last year? What shows will you not watch and what draws you into binging? How has your taste changed in food and clothing? What did you learn from last Christmas to choose presents for this Christmas?
Are you more knowledgeable with information that can create fascinating conversations or writings or other forms of expression or are you just more full of nonsense and useless references to latest cultural delight?
It will be a test.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Santa Lives In My Neighborhood

‘Twas the week before Christmas, when all thro’ the house,
Something is chewing, maybe a mouse;
Stumble down the hallway, the morning break is took,
Heating the coffee, out the window he looks;
The parking lot is empty, where did they go?
‘Twas the week before Christmas, so he thinks that he knows;
Yawning and scratching, should he take another nap,
While all the neighbors, are out buying that crap;
When out on the yard, there arose such a clatter,
Time to roll out, don’t worry about your bladder;
Climbing aboard his pony, he flew like a flash,
To the Tummy Temple he rode, to spend all his cash;
‘Twas the week before Christmas, so that everybody knows,
‘Twas to buy needless stuff, and spend all your dough;
When what to wondering eyes should appear,
But a women in a fur coat, asking the butcher for rein-deer;
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and what would you do,
To celebrate this time of year, and enjoy the wazoo;
Flying the skies for adventure, JD and his main squeeze,
Are celebrating the season, drinking wine, eating pasta and cheese;
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and the pace it quickens,
Glazed faces wander the aisles, gathering all the fixings;
There was a time, when one quick trip to the mall!
Would pack up the car, and that would be all;
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and as much as we try,
Cannot resist online shopping, waiting drones in the sky;
Office parties will be different, all the mischievous news,
Don’t drink, keep hands in your pockets and your eyes on your shoes;
Will the latest surprise, be a new phone,
Unless you place a call or a text or a tweet, and no one’s at home;
Our consumption for material worth, will abound,
To be stacked in basements and attics and in closets until found;
Then shipped off to junk yards, thrift stores, the homeless downtown,
or sent to the dump graveyard to be covered in ground;
‘Twas the week before Christmas, every year it comes back,
To cause stress and remorse, and a pain in the back;
The fat boy is happy, this time of the year,
Repetitive music, grape with a bowl full of cheer;
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and what should he do,
No lights or big plans, not even a clue;
There are no big passions and wants, or even a beef,
No tree or decorations, or toys or a wreath;
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and Santa lives here,
Just watching some football, and drinking a beer;
11 months of the year, he does not fit in,
Not styled like a yuppie, which must be a sin;
A hobo, a vagrant, part of the deadheads,
He’s sure his furry neighbors, are all well fed;
His routine is a ritual, his habits routine,
Quiet unobtrusive, but one calls him mean;
Most smile when they see him, as he rides by,
Some of even wave, and some just say “Hi!”
‘Twas the week before Christmas, and the children will stare,
They better be nice, cause ole Nicolas is there;
For that is the reason, for the children’s delight,
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Waking Exhausted

Sleep is a fleeting mistress to me. I can get tired or stay up late but then after two or three hours of unconsciousness, I awake. I have to get up and wander around for a while reading or having a snack before attempting to nod off again.
Perhaps it is the radio I keep playing thorough the night to hide the sounds of an old house but my mind won’t shut down. A word or a phrase or some distant thought will start creating a story of memories or adventures I’ve never experienced.
When I do finally fade away into the dark space of dreams they have their own story. I have similar places and some familiar faces but the strangers are as real as you and me and while the conversations are mute the thoughts get across.
Some mornings I wake up in panic and some mornings I want to go back to see the end of the story.
I also know my sleeping patterns are not the best. I need a chilled room and no tucked in covers because my legs have to twist and shake and dance in the sleeping process. Many mornings the sheet has disappeared under the bed and the comforter is in a knot.
I also snore. I’ve heard the complaints but they don’t know where I am when the lights go out. I also grind my teeth. It seems when I finally pass out I don’t move and wake with my body sore from being in one solitary position for an hour or two.
Maybe I should buy a new bed? Turn the radio off and hope the ghost pacing the hall doesn’t get me? Take those pharmaceuticals that will knock me out more than the 12-beers?
After two or three hour naps and the sun comes up and the radio changes from classical music to news, I drag my body out of the frustrations of seeking rest.
No matter how much I work or play or ride or stay immobile, there will be the same experience of trying to relax because the brain won’t shut off.
I guess when it does I can have the permanent sleep. Wonder what kind of dreams we will have then?

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Tis' The Season For Giving

What does that mean?
Not that many years ago gifts were handmade or cooked and the recipient only got one and appreciated the effort and amount of time to prepare such a one-of-a-kind present.  Gifts were cherished and put in a position of warmth and care continuing with stories past down for generations (except the pies. The were just eaten up with a burp ‘thank you’.) Today the retail merchandising has convinced you to spend whatever you can put on a credit card items of questionable worth or need to follow the season’s requirements of ‘Mo’ Is Better’. They will even deliver everything to your doorstep like last night dinner. Oh the joy of consumption.
Handwritten letters and cards reminding the person addressed to be a secret message of familiarity and emotion. Now, a quick email or a emoji will suffice. Better yet, just find some meme of someone else’s’ thought and post that for all your friends. That’s the ticket.
Plants and greenery, while making you look Planet Friendly, just requires maintenance and might kill the cat if it chews on it. Clothing (unless handmade) can be questionable. See the reaction of little Johnny when he rips open the paper hoping for the latest version of “Duty of Killing” only to find a 3-pack of tighty-whities. Thanks Santa.
Jewelry and fragrance is always a quick sell but if you get the wrong color or scent, you are doomed. You were not paying attention and it cost you a bundle.
So now days, people are talking about giving a donation in the name of the receiver. A check written to a charity in your name is your gift. How swell is that? How about we go out on Christmas day in the freezing cold and plant a tree. Are you getting that Christmas feeling yet? Come on down to the soup kitchen and sloop trays of gruel to people who sleep under bridges. Kids are having a good time now.
The kids have already had to be put through singing corny old songs in the cold wearing sheets and being pinched by every old person who is a long forgotten aunt or uncle who only shows up for the free grub. This is the season to reward the little brats with toys in hopes they will like you for another year anticipating more gift instead of plotting killing you in your sleep.
Try and remember kids create their personality to others by their possessions. Who wants to hang around someone who got nothing? You got recognition to the Nature Society or the American Health Association with a certificate for your generous donation. Swell. Sally got some new stuff and we are all going over there and play with them until they break.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Our latest disaster is brought to you by…

Fake News. Or Alt-journalism.
We all hear it and read it and talk about it and maybe, just maybe, some of it is true? The mainstay established journalist presentation has turned into entertainment and the Internet is flooded with opinions and questionable videos.
So what do you believe?
Well before there were newspapers or radio or television or even Google, there was (and is) the word of mouth.
Who knows more about family than Aunt Fanny? She has all the dirt on cousins and second cousins and cousins once removed and people you’d never heard have. My neighbor Jen has the 811 on all the goings on in the neighborhood so I don’t need to research the people who live in the same area. There was always one person who would give you the skinny about anyone and everyone around the water cooler at work. Every Sunday the preacher would inform all of the happy unions and the sad illnesses of those who attend. The newspapers are obligated to list the daily body count and for a fee will even post a picture of the dearly departed. The guy cutting his grass across the street can give a play-by-play of his favorite teams and who made the bad calls. In high school, seems everyone knows everything about everybody even though the network is not that good and it is mostly speculation and perception.
What is the best source of news?
Gossip! The best source for up-to-date worthy news is gossip. As the rock man said, “You see what you want to see and you hear what you want to hear.” Everything is faked or everything is true. You decide.
The bookmark sites reaffirm what we want to believe and strengthen our opinions (bias). With enough links to fact or fiction, there is proof of diligent research, just like footnotes to confirm our resources. It was on Wikipedia so it must be true?
Everyday new disclosures and exposures are reveled like the Kennedy assassination where we find that it was Jackie who fired the fatal shot and then climbed out to give the secret service guy the gun. Of course, if you want to believe, anything can become fact and enlarged and manipulated by our vivid imagination.
If your interpretation of the presentation called “News” does not correspond with another’s, then a disagreement or even an argument can ensue. Welcome to the family discussions over the holidays.
Ye Ole Newspapers separated what people requested for “News” into sections that could share and passed about for enjoyable and informative reading.
The main “News” section held the important stuff like politics, robberies, business, blah-blah-blah and more boring stuff only father would read. Besides after all the ink dried and was trucked and thrown on your doorstep the information was already a week old.
The “Editorial” page was the publisher’s page to state his or her opinion on various topics. These pages were to sway the reader to follow an established, well-educated and knowledgeable thought and believe; yet indulge in a bias. Think of it as “Intellectual Advertising” or propaganda.
Then there was the “Women’s” page. That right gals, you had your own section of the newspaper full of recipes and sewing ideas and fashion trends and of course the society page to announce whose daughter came out and which family was having a gala affair at their estate. Gossip? Sure there was a ‘tell-all’ columnist who had the scoop on the dirt. Fact checking and footnotes were not obtainable. The bonus to the retailers was to put advertisements for the latest blender or refrigerator or fashionable garment to create envy.
OK fellas, here comes the “Sports” page. No upright American male could possibly go without checking the daily box scores of his favorite team? Though the numbers could have been from a previous radio report, the newspaper had in-depth observation of how the team and manager and fans interacted. Gossip? There are stories about your favorite NASCAR driver or quarterback but they are press copies of resumes. Still every page was surrounded with advertisements for tools or cars or liquor.
To end the fun were the ‘Classifieds’. Don’t know what the classification was for but here were pages of tiny type showing houses, tools, cars, and anything else people wanted to throw out for sale. There were even Yard Sales. As newspapers progress and limited the number of pages due to printing cost, obituaries were moved here. The legal obligation to announce a death was required but with a little couching a long list of the legacy of the dearly departed with a charge per word fee. Even death has a cost.
 As the information, true or not, floods our screens we can absorb it as reality. How could that video be false? How could that opinion from that sweet face confirmed by other good-looking folk not be true? If I hear it over and over then it must be real. Ripley’s ‘Believe or Not’?
Disclaimer: I am a news junkie. I check the Internet for that seems to be the fastest deliver of events but check various sources to confirm what I’m reading or watching is factual. I’m still cynical to question the ‘why’ factor. The same is with relationships. I have to rely on what I see and hear and experience to form my opinion. With time opinions can change but judgments are etched in stone.
Did you hear about ….?

Another Creepy Seasonal Tradition

I didn’t hear about this growing up. I was too interested into tearing paper to be disappointed by the socks and combs but there is this tradition where a little doll in a pointed hat and a red suit sits on shelves and bookcases around your house in December to see if you have been naughty or nice and report back to Santa.
First of all, it is December already. You’ve had eleven months to be naughty and this little guy shows up now to do an evaluation report to the Big Guy on how many toys or not to bring. Where was he in July?
Second, it is creepy to tell your kids there is this doll that is watching you and you will never know where he is. Pressure to behave for the reward of toys or a piece of coal.
Now I believe kids these days are used to surveillance. There are cameras everywhere and if you think you are getting away with something, check YouTube. Your kids know you are tracking their every movement and have all the knowledge to block your prying intrusions to their privacy. Kids know how to manipulate you silly parents to get what they want, when they want it.
Now if these little dolls could shoot heat rays when you curse or make some annoying sound that won’t stop when you don’t make up your bed, then I’d say get a dozen and put them around all year long. “Take the trash out or Santa’s Elf on the Shelf will give you the squirts.” Oh warning, don’t try to touch the Elf; which is electrically charged and will burn the crap out of your fingers.
I won’t even get into the tradition of the hardened fruitcake that is passed back and forth from family members like a football or the reason we spike eggnog with all the screaming kids running around or that strange habit of smooching under a sprig of poison ivy only once a year.
Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Spooky Santa

Ho! Ho! Ho!
Tis’ the season and I couldn’t avoid the obvious. With all the weird traditions at the end of the year like bringing foliage into the house, putting up boxes of bling, wearing ugly sweaters and sending cards to people we don’t know, we take our most precious processions (our children) to be fondled by some strange old man.
No, really, think about it from the kid’s point of view? It is bad enough as the adult unit responsible for the results of copulation to drag this unknowing but learning offspring to formalized education, accepted religion and association with other little people like yourself they call ‘family’ but every year when the weather starts getting chilly you drag us off to shopping centers but get mad when we get tired and meltdown. Like all other times you tempt us with candy and some toy that will break instead of listening to us.
This is the major temptation. Toys! Lots of Toys! And candy too!
This strange guy who is never spoken of until the end of the year will break into the house and bring lots of boxes wrapped in gaudy paper and bows under the evergreen hoping the dog won’t pee on them or the cat tear into the temptation before the sleepy kids can come downstairs to rip into rewards for being nice all year.
Now from what I remember from the Good Book, this season is suppose to be a celebration of a kid born in a barn. The marketing department just called and said they cannot make a profit off this story so another character needs to be created to sell the leftovers from a down year and get the books back into the black. How can a birthday create Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Local Store Saturday, Giving Tuesday….. What about Wednesday?
So there is this guy called Santa.
Story has it he lives up in the North Pole with Mrs. Clause, though no one ever sees her and a bunch of little midgets with pointed hats from the refugee tribe called Elves and some stinky deer. So this dude lives up in the ice and cold and all year makes an industry of toy manufacturing that even Mattel can’t match (don’t look at the real names for they are all in Chinese).
At the end of the calendar year, he wanders down from the cold to sit in a chair and have you offered your kids to sit on his lap and tell him secrets. They don’t know this guy. Why would they want to sit on his lap? Why choose this old dude in a red costume to be trusted with your kids?
This isn’t like the family reunions where you pressure your kids to hug Uncle Harry and when he starts rubbing his hands all over them you dismiss it, as he is just drunk. In this time of political correctness and moral reevaluation should we continue with this ancient tradition?
Let us take a look from the child’s point-of-view. This old guy with white whiskers and bad breathe who looks like those homeless hobos your parents tell you to avoid is now the most welcoming person on earth. Where is Santa on December 26?
To keep with the season, maybe Santa is God.
SHOCKED! Don’t be; think about it. This Santa guy is worshiped with relevance of a myth. He does kind of look like those old paintings of what is called the ‘All Mighty’. Besides, everywhere you look in December there is the omnipresent of Santa. He does seem to make magic with packages arriving under the tree faster than Amazon or UPS could deliver. Is he a super hero because he can train animals to fly?
Now take it one step further, if Santa is God wouldn’t you do anything possible to get your children to sit on his lap? The wait-line would get much longer. The Snow Princess in her slutty skirt and the snotty midget trying to take your photo couldn’t keep the peace so the public law enforcement would have to be called in and we all know where that will go.
Through all the work and effort and adulation of your children showered in excessive consumerism for one day doesn’t help you in July when Santa aren’t around.
Ho! Ho! Ho!

Mo’ Trouble at the Tummy Temple

Ah the season is here for stuffing…er, that is fine cuisine to feed the hungry during the holidays. No, you aren’t going to the shelters and feeding the homeless, instead you will present your best china loaded with enough grub to your family and friends to require checking with your plumber and getting additional air fresheners.
That means, of course, more trips to the Tummy Temple.
As a frequent flyer I am accustomed to the panic surges and the long wait lines so I try to use down times to avoid the crowds, but tis’ the season for wanton cooking and feasting and gorging and let us not forget the consumption of alcohol in various forms. It all requires ‘patience’ and I’m in no hurry so I watch the seasonal madness with glee.
Yet there seems to be trouble in the Kingdom of Nourishment. Every aisle is stacked high with pallets of boxes full of crackers, cereal, mac & cheese, cola, candy and other tempting items of delicious but they have to be put out on the shelves. Some person employed by the Temple for they will wear the uniform has to be assigned to stack and sort and register each item in its proper place for the parishioners to partake and fill their passing basket. 
Yet there are few assembling the riches of the Temple. Those who are putting out the cheese doodles and curly fries are overwhelmed by the chore at hand to distribute the pillars of human requirement for existence. The others, with minimal skills, have been ordered to the conveyor belts to keep the ever growing wait lines down as is a critical mission of the Temple.
On today’s venture onto the movie of life, the efforts show improvement but today it is meeting day and now the aisles are stuffed with people catching up and not attending to their squirming yard apes or the task at hand. This movie changes everyday and I stop occasionally (out of the way, of course) to take in the spectacle and enjoy how humanity hunts for food now. There is a cart loaded with sweet soda pushed by a rather large individual who can barely push it, another sniffs the melons but not the carrots, yet each curious creature is here for one purpose and I shouldn’t tally but get on my way to free up a cart and allow another individual to buy a ticket to this show. I speak to the stars of the show and must remember on December 25th the curtain comes down so stock up.
This is such a wonderful performance I’ll be back again for the matinee. Where is the popcorn?

Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Conversationalist

Spent some time with a friend the other day and was lost in conversation. This person is a writer and has a much better vocabulary than myself but I noticed how I enjoyed every sentence. Every word. It was a memorable time.
Not so much that the topics were any different than the usual gabber everyone has but the formation of the expression was like reading a good story over a graphic novel. The mouth was not just blowing air but assembling words into jewelry of the mind. Romance in each letter.
It is a treat to sit with a person who can make a brief conversation dessert. I’ll pick up the check.

Where did everybody go?

Sunny yet chilly day. Perfect fall day. The leafs have finally turned and would be hard to fathom that I’d racked and filled three supercans. Off to the Tummy Temple to clear my head and throat but what is this. Half of the newly paved parking lot is empty?
Where is everyone? I thought today would be the spectacular with the entire congregation battling over dead birds and cans of peaches. Wonder how many minutes it takes to thaw and cook a 25lb. bird in the microwave?
A woman gives me her now empty cart and I make her laugh. Thanks. The only folks I see are the guys who have been sent back to get that one last item while their mothers, sisters, wives, whatever’s are cooking and making a big mess in the kitchens. The gaze of deer in headlights prevail. Don’t worry about the difference in baking powder or soda. Whatever you pick up will be wrong and you’ll be right back here. The game won’t be on for hours and it is the method of getting you out of the way.
So today is the day of Thanksgiving except for the indigenous people. That means the Injuns to you uninformed. The question is: “What do you have to be Thankful for?”
For some it might be the wealth of worldly goods or the just the sign of mass consumption. For some it will be the warmth of family or animals. For some it will be their spiritual faith in the unknown. For some it will be the fear of another day of agony and pain.
Turn the tables and think this…. “What do you have to regret?”
Both questions might have the same answer?
Regret that second helping of mashed potatoes? You’ll never run off that jellyroll at the gym. Regret not saying what you meant but maybe thankful that it didn’t. Regret no one else will see this masterpiece of blooming mushrooms on the side of the road and the symmetry of fall colors and arrangements. Regret trying to cover up the lack of personal hygiene with some teenage fragrance trying to mask my stench. Regret those lines on your face. Regret the hair color change that didn’t come out of a bottle. Regret that third child. Regret that last drink. Regret bringing up the subject at the dinner table. Regret not having cranberry sauce at the tailgate cookout.
There are plenty of things we all regret but only one day to be Thank Full. It is a good excuse for over indulgence and gluttony before chasing the marketing bait.
Games on! Who wants to order pizza?

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

What will you do when the lights go out?

No, I don’t mean for the last time. No one knows what happens after that though there are lots of speculations.
What I’m talking about is what happened last night.
The lights flickered and I heard “Uh Oh” in that outside voice used in the dialect of speech when a baby falls down. Then everything went black.
Been spending evenings burning CDs and was on the last song of a triad when the lights went out. Sit still for a few minutes to see if someone somewhere out there in powerland will throw the switch but it doesn’t happen. Looking out the window all the neighbors are dark too. Still this is late so I’d expect their shades to be drawn but the alley light is also off. Wander down the hall and open the front door. All is dark there too. The sky is cloudy so it has a grey glow to it. There is power somewhere but just not here.
There was no sound of a crash or an explosion from a transformer, only the quick beep of the Fios battery kicking in. I could have turned around and gone back inside or even attempt to sleep but this horse I’m riding won’t allow that. It is rocking time in the dark silence.
I could pull out one of the battery operated electronic connection devices or even one of the wooden boxes with metal wire but tonight is for listening to the quiet. A light and the whoosh of a passing vehicle is an infrequent interruption to the glory of darkness. Now and then the rustle of leaves in the distance reminds me I’m visiting their territory and time.
Then, just like it left, the light is back. The party was over.
Don’t have any idea of the time and the neighbors may have slept through it only to find their clocks flashing.