Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Drawing From Experience

Art for art's sake is, now that I have begun to consider it, kind of a messed up ideal. Don't you want someone to look at, read, listen or in some way respond to the writing, painting, music or ventriloquism? And it's not like Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer ever took a penny for all those movies they made after the lion roared. In Latin.
Hold on a second. They weren't so much about "art for art's sake" after all, were they? They were all about art for the price of a movie ticket for every man, woman and child in the United States. And beyond. Maybe something more like "art for the price of admission?"
I know a lot of people who make art and most of them want to be remunerated for their thoughts and efforts. I myself graduated from college with a degree in Creative Writing. I spent a large chunk of a decade at a university with the suppressed need to write creatively and be handsomely compensated for doing just that.
So here I am, more than thirty years after that fact, creatively writing for the sheer joy of it. And it's not just here. I have written an number of other things I think are pretty creative. I have written some scripts. Maybe a movie or two. And six skits. I was not offered a single penny for any of these creations. The skits were written, directed, and performed by the Dads' Club of my son's elementary school. That meant I had to do revisions, which I almost never do. And I had to deal with the varied temperaments of my fellow dads. Tickets were purchased and money was raised. But not for me. Which turns out to be just fine, because those five minute bouts of silliness were finales of school-wide talent shows that had a target audience of the parents and families of the participants who appeared onstage just prior to the aforementioned silliness. Money was raised. For my son's school. And there was applause. And laughter. Maybe a whoop or two.
This past weekend, I was at my school, installing some art. A group of upper grade students whom I supervise and attempt to come up with some community project and this year we came up with a mosaic. Every student at our school, every staff member and even a few parents decorated a four inch tile. Then on Saturday morning we stood out front of the school and ended up admiring our work, all assembled there on two walls. More than three hundred little bits pieces of art all gathered together. For art's sake. And the kids. And for me.

Monday, April 29, 2019

The Work Of Heroes

I woke up this morning with visions of super heroic battles dancing in my head. Eleven years after it began, we reached the Endgame. How many times has the planet and other chunks of the universe been saved by these costumed avengers? Lost track somewhere around 2015 myself, but each challenge grew larger and each bad guy got a little badder. Which is why as the years passed, the team grew. The stakes were raised, so they needed an infusion of strength and talent. When some great big dullard showed up who could remove half the living creatures everywhere, we had arrived at a challenge that was up to the abilities of this periodically conflicted group. 
It was superfan Neil DeGrasse Tyson who wondered on Twitter, "If you wield the power to snap your finger and end half of all life in the universe — to preserve resources for those who remain — then you surely have the power to snap your finger and double the resources instead.@Avengers, I checked the math on that one." Pretty snappy answer for an astrophysicist who seems to delight in spoiling movies with science, but it does leave out one important issue: The big purple guy who snaps his fingers is not a good guy. He is evil, and his answer to a problem does not come from a place of forgiveness or happy coincidence. Which is a little like telling refugees at your border, "Sorry, our country is full." Or suggesting that the solution to our energy crisis is to turn back the clock and start mining more of that good clean coal.
Which brings me to the work my wife does: trying to save the planet from the parasitic creatures that seem to be bent on destroying it. She, along with a groundswell of like-minded humans who would like to keep the planet on which they were born and raised have decided to promote science and change in order to save the earth. A Green New Deal. It doesn't come with caped crusaders bounding from one part of the galaxy to another, but it does come with a chance to save the planet. Without any super powers. Unless you count making some sacrifices and working together as a super power. In which case it's time to give your tights a tug and start to imagine a world with clean water for everyone, healthy and affordable food for everyone, and access to nature. It won't be just a snap of the fingers, but it can be done.
We just need to use our powers for good, and not evil.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Healthy Habits

And now suddenly it is recommended. By a nutritionist. A scientist who makes her living telling us what is healthy and what is not have declared that pizza is a healthier breakfast than cereal. If you find yourself racing to the refrigerator the morning after as I have in my past, you probably have something boxed or wrapped in foil that may at some point within the last twenty-four to forty-eight hours been described as "pizza," congratulations. Vindication. Felicitations. 
But what does the science really say? Chelsey Amer, MS, RDN, CDN from New York with a bunch of meaningful letters after her name reminds us that your average breakfast cereal is packed with sugar and is probably not your best nutritional bet when it comes to breaking your overnight fast. A link on her web page asks the leading question, "Are you totally confused about what to eat? Well, Chels, I wasn't until just very recently. I figured I could have my raisin bran and eat it too, shoveling spoonful after spoonful in to my waking face as I pore over the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. Why wouldn't that be the way to go? 
All that sugar and zero healthy fats. If you're as perplexed as I continue to be about discerning healthy fat from its evil twin, pleas form a line to the right. Pizza has more protein than a typical bowl of cereal, so it can satisfy your appetite for longer and prevent snacking between meals. 
You knew this was coming, right?
You shouldn't start banging on the door of your nearest Little Caesars  at six in the morning demanding your pizza, pizza. MSRDNCDN Amer would like us to remember instead that you should try a truly nutritious way to start the day, try Greek yogurt with fruit, with that score of a calcium and protein boost, or oatmeal with cinnamon and fruit, which offers fiber and antioxidants. And this is where I find myself wondering: hey, isn't oatmeal cereal? Hot cereal to be sure, but cereal, right? 
The story was really leading us in the first place. Like back in high school when my semantics teacher used to tell us that eating the box in which Kix was found was healthier than consuming its contents. This was the same teacher who reminded us that Taco Bell had some scary connections with dog food companies. All of which circles back to the reality in which eating pizza for breakfast or Taco Bell ever suggests a lifestyle that does not have nutrition at its center. 
I took the time to tell you about this?

Saturday, April 27, 2019

When I'm Sixty-Four

It's not the lining up for the movie. It's not the obsessive reading and re-reading of articles about plot points and Easter eggs hidden within the plots. It's not the seemingly endless discussions with other fanatics that make me wonder.
What makes me wonder is that in June I will be fifty-seven years old.
I would have imagined that this comic book phase might have worn off just a smidge by now. I am not making weekly or even monthly visits to the newsstand to see what new issues have become available. I don't have online subscriptions to any titles large or small.
But I do get emails providing me with updates as to what is happening in the Marvel Universe. And I make my wife sit down with me and watch previews for movies that she knows will be part of her waiting in line experience in the not-so-distant future. Because this is what we do. I do. So much so that there wasn't a question of buying me that Captain America shirt on a recent trip to Disneyland. And when we made another trip back, and Marvel had officially become part of the Disney empire, I stood stock still when I saw the sign directing me to have my photo taken with Cap himself.
Yes. I know that this was not the real Captain America. Nor was it the actor who portrays Captain America on screen. This was a twenty-something who could pull off the costume and put on a good show for those who decided to stand next to him. Much in the same way that guy we met a few years back was not really Thor, but don't try to tell my wife that. She got to touch his hammer.
I waited for twenty minutes or so, as the line inched forward, until it was my turn. I handed my phone over to the cast member who was in charge of such things and I proceeded to puff up my chest and shake hands and make small talk with Captain America. For just a few moments, it was entirely real. My fanboy meter had red-lined and when I saw the dozens of pictures that came to me digitally from the Disney folks and the ones on my phone, I felt as if I had transcended in some tiny way.
An obsessive way.
Sitting here in my chair, months removed from the incident, I still grin at the memory. And I wonder what it will be like when I'm sixty-four.

Friday, April 26, 2019

What Drives Me

At fifty-six years old, I can remember only a handful of rides I have taken in a taxi. A cab. You know, it never occurred to me that Martin Scorsese's classic film might not have been as menacing if it had been called "Cab Driver." But that's a musing for another time. Today I am wondering why I would be worried about the demise of an industry in which I never fully participated. I have no recollection of paying a cab driver, mostly because my lack of ease when it comes to dealing directly with people who give me service. At restaurants I can put my tip on the table and flee, with only a small twinge of fear that I might be chased down and asked to reckon with my math. Not that I undertip. If anything, I probably tip more due to this underlying sense of social awkwardness. I just don't know how to deal with that momentary cloud that passes across someone's face when they see I didn't ring some magic bell that would make me "a good tipper."
Which is really only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the whole taxicab deal. I have what many consider a rather robust "outside voice," but I have not been blessed with the ability to whistle past a barely musical tune. And standing in front of oncoming traffic seems like a really bad idea, having once endured the collision of car versus my left side. I am officially a stay on the curb kind of guy as a result.
Which seems like I would be a good candidate for this ride-sharing thing that has erupted in the downturn of taxis. There's an app for that. An app that sends a stranger to your location and asks you to climb in with your only hope of retribution the number of stars you choose to place on the driving and relative ambiance of the ride. From the back seat. Which makes me fret all the more, since all the programming I have received in my life suggests that this only exacerbates the service mentality of the situation, brought on primarily by looking at the back of someone's head.
So Elon Musk has this great idea: Robot Taxi. His electric cars will have an auto-drive feature that will allow them to take you to the store or the airport. Which sounds amazing, until you get this next bit: Tesla owners will be able to make more money by putting their vehicles into service when they aren't behind the wheel. Just punch up a code and a robocar will appear in your driveway ready to whisk you off on your next adventure. Which probably begins with trying to figure out how you tip a droid. 

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Perfectly Legal

Are you ready for the latest? According to "America's Mayor" and Sometime Trump Lawyer Rudy Guliani, “There’s nothing wrong with taking information from Russians.” This may be taking the definition of glasnost to its extreme, especially since we are no longer dealing with the somewhat more benign Mikhail Gorbachev but rather the somewhat less benign Vladimir Putin. I say this with a full heart because I truly wish that there was a way for us to come down to the same global watering hole and swap facts and spit with the rest of the metaphorical jungle. 
But since this isn't the way the planet currently operates, what do you suppose Rudy was trying to get us to believe when he spouted off about taking information from Russians? He wasn't talking about recipes. Or Instagram. The Russians in this particular example are the ones in government. The ones who might just possibly be wishing for a kinder, gentler approach from our country to theirs. Or maybe looking for a Manchurian Candidate. On one side of his mouth, Rudy suggested that “any politician” in the United States would have sought damaging information about an electoral rival. From the other side, when asked if he would have done something similar with a foreign source he spouted, “I probably wouldn’t. I wasn’t asked. I would have advised, just out of excess of caution, don’t do it.”
So there we have a motive. And Mueller's report offers up any number of opportunities,  the “investigation established multiple links between Trump campaign officials and individuals tied to the Russian government.” It also said, Russia’s alleged interference in the election was intended to help the current "President."
And so once again, we are being asked not to pay any attention to that man behind the curtain. This is just the way sausage gets made, after all, and it's best if we the people don't get too caught up in that process. We just wouldn't understand. These aren't the droids we're looking for. Except this isn't somewhere over the rainbow or a galaxy far, far away. This is the here and now, and I would prefer to believe that when someone brings me a feathered friend who quacks and walks just like a duck that I have been introduced to a duck. Not collusion. It's a duck. A duck that obstructs justice. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Being There

So, here we are, more than halfway through the first game show host presidency. Each day brings a new surprise of the most ridiculous kind. Our ship of state has become a carnival ride, complete with tilts and whirls, freaks and clowns. And with each new day of embarrassment comes that Talking Heads question: "Well, how did we get here?"
It's not as if we couldn't have seen this coming. The political mainstream thought a Trump candidacy would crash and burn shortly after that ride down the escalator so many moons ago. Not so. He went on to step on toes and call names as he became front-runner and then presumptive nominee. This man who had as many business failures as many of his competitors had years in office proceeded to take the nation by storm, stirring up fear and rancor among a following that seemed energized by his twisted version of patriotism. And the biggest joke of all, after decrying unfairness of the electoral college system, it was that very same machine that gave him the office when he lost the popular vote. Each time he takes the podium or tweets his rants, he acts as if he were there by a mandate from the people.
Meanwhile, in the Ukraine, a comedian has won that country's highest office in a landslide. Volodymyr Zelenskiy unseated incumbent Petro Poroshenko of a country torn by war and searching for a national identity. Zelenskiy's prior experience included playing the Servant of the People, a fictional president elected with no political experience, just a viral video that showed him ranting against the current conditions in his country. No concrete word on how he intends to Make Ukraine Great Again, but he does seem to face a little more adversity than his counterpart rattling around the White House. Which makes me imagine the first state visit between the two of them. 
"So, how'd you get the job?"
"I had a TV show."
"Really? Me too."
All of which makes me hopeful about this current trend. By this measure, shouldn't we expect Julia Louis-Dreyfus to be a contender in 2020? Emmy winner Julia Louis-Dreyfus. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Twentieth Of Never

What we were told about "never again" in regards to school shootings turned out to be a colossal and horrible lie. Twenty years ago we were shocked and confounded by the actions of two young men, boys really, who killed twelve of their classmates and a teacher at their high school before shooting themselves. My son was about to celebrate his second birthday, and it never occurred to me that he would grow up as a generation of kids who would experience lockdown drills  as part of their time in school.
Not Colorado's state flower. Not the elementary school which I attended, along with both of my brothers and my niece. And not even the high school in metropolitan Denver where this massacre occurred.
Columbine has become shorthand for kids being murdered in their classrooms. The deaths of those children at the hands of other children made the world stop and contemplate our society. Violent video games, rock and roll, parenting, school security. Gun laws. Meanwhile, time marches on and "Columbine style" is a phrase that has become utilitarian. It is used to describe events that were at one time unimaginable.
This past week a woman, a girl of nineteen, was the subject of a nationwide search as someone who was travelling from Florida to Colorado in some sort of pilgrimage to the site or all that death. Police found her, two days before the twentieth anniversary of Columbine. She was not old enough to remember the actual events of April 20, 1999. She grew up in a world that experiences mass shootings with somber acceptance. Twenty years of never again.
The elementary school at which I have taught since before April 20, 1999 recently installed a security camera and a buzzer to keep bad guys out. Twenty years after the fact, if someone came to the doors of our school, they would have to ring a bell to be let in. Deliveries of paper and pencils, visiting parents, students arriving late because of dental appointments, teachers who don't have master keys, concerned community members all have to wait. To be certain that they are not a threat. Because we don't live in a post-Columbine world. We live in a Columbine world.
Until never again.

Monday, April 22, 2019

At First Glance

All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. Ten instances of obstruction. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy. All work and no play makes Robert a dull boy.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

On The Hunt

It's not always easy to do yard duty at lunch recess. While it's true that some days pass without incident, most days have their own share of intrigue and action. Which is why I am glad that Oscar chose to play tag with me over the past couple of weeks. Oscar is a first grader who is prone to mischief and antagonizing others. All in the name of fun. He first came to our little game while watching a classmate of his, Shelly, playing a very small game of tag with me outside. Shelly is a very quiet girl who shies away from big, rowdy games of soccer, basketball or endless loops around the play structure as most of her peers seem to prefer. Shelly would find me, come and stand nearby, taking it all in. After a few days of this, I reached out casually and touched her on the shoulder. "Tag." This brought a smile to her face as she lunged toward me and caught me just above the elbow. "Tag," she replied and dashed away.
It was sometime during the second or third week of the very small game Shelly and I were playing that Oscar stopped by. "Can I play?" Aside from the obvious challenge of doubling the targets, I could think of no reason why not, but I checked with Shelly: "Is it alright if Oscar plays?" She responded in the most telling way, by reaching out and touching him on the shoulder. "Tag." And so it went. Until one day Shelly was busy with something that required her attention more than our ritual game. Oscar showed up, eager as a golden retriever puppy, darting back and forth. It became apparent that when it was just the two of us, Oscar felt the need to step it up a little. His tags were more like pokes and prods, and my lower back and kidneys became peppered by his jabs. All of which I weathered because I knew that there were a dozen or more kids who were relieved of Oscar's attention if he were engaged with me. So we played.
Then, out of nowhere, right after he had lunged forward and poked me in the ribs, I heard him say, "Stop!" It wouldn't be the first time that an elementary school child had lost interest in the middle of a game and was bailing at the precise moment that he had the upper hand. But when I turned around, I saw that Oscar had dropped down to his hands and knees, and his eyes were fixed on something in the middle distance. "Butterfly!" His voice was a hoarse whisper. It took me a moment to locate the object of his fixation. It was at that moment he pounced. The butterfly flitted away, as butterflies will. Followed by Oscar, who spent the next twenty minutes until the bell rang tracking his prey.
I missed him, but my kidneys enjoyed the rest.

Saturday, April 20, 2019


These days, when I ride my bike past the rec center, I don't think "rec center." I think "strike school." It was in that little building that a few of my colleagues hosted between eight and twenty of our kids during February's teacher strike. More politely named "Solidarity School," this was the place where those families who honored the picket line but needed a safe place for their children to be during the day dropped their progeny. Before the strike I had never set foot inside the building. I had ridden past and even waved at times to students who yelled at me from just outside or in the fields or on the courts adjacent. Now it is officially on the map.
A place with which I am completely familiar is the retaining wall in front of our school. That is where I spend most weekday afternoons, keeping an eye on those kids whose parents are delayed in picking them up. What begins as a crowd of dozens tends to dwindle to one or two, and then there are none. Another day is done. During the strike, this wall became a place for those of us walking the picket line to stop and catch our collective breath. All that chanting and pacing can wear on a teacher. It was also outside the school so we were not crossing our own line. We were simply awaiting an outcome. On a few days during that stretch, I stayed behind to maintain a technical presence while my fellow workers went off to a rally or a march or some other work action. I knew that wall, and I would defend it with my backside.
Just after lunch on one of those days, I heard a voice: "Hey Mister Caven!"
I looked up.
"Watch this."
I sat and watched as one of our third graders proceeded to attempt and mostly perform a series of wheelies on his bike. For an audience of one: me.
"Can you do this?"
"Well," I said in my old-timer's voice, "I used to."
For half an hour, he rode up and down the street in front of the school perfecting his technique. And seeking approval. I knew that he was not one of those kids who would be dropped off at the Solidarity School. This was one of those free range kids who had been left alone for the day with admonitions to stay safe. And aside from practicing bike tricks on a city street without a helmet he was doing a pretty good job. At least he had someone to watch him.
Which, as it turns out, is my job.

Friday, April 19, 2019

His Face Doesn't Ring A Bell

Noter Daim or Noetruh Dahm?
Back in the olden days, I couldn't distinguish. At a very early age, I assumed that there was a big church where the Fighting Irish played football, and occasionally there was a bell rung there by a hunchback. In my mind, it helped explain that whole "Touchdown Jesus" thing.
It was thanks to another Colorado boy, Lon Chaney, that I began to pick up on the difference. The university in South Bend, Indiana was a separate entity from that of the cathedral in France. Quasimodo was the name of the hunchback who clambered around the spires and steeples above the streets of Paris. Ara Parseghian was the coach who helped lift the American-based Notre Dame out of lethargy. It was a bit of a tossup to me as to who had the more amusing name. There is, of course, a common thread between the two: the Catholic Church. It should be noted here that "Touchdown Jesus" is a painting on the side of a library, not a vision appearing whenever the Fighting Irish score. Touchdown Jesus just turned fifty-five years old. Construction on the French cathedral began in 1160 and was essentially completed one hundred years later. 
Which may explain why the fire that destroyed large sections of Notre Dame (Paris), is such a big deal. It drew concern from all corners of the globe as firefighters battled to save the distinctive towers but government spokespeople described the scene as one of "colossal damage." Or dommages colossaux in its native tongue.
I became more familiar with the cathedral as I watched more film versions of the tale of Quasimodo and his unrequited love for the gypsy girl, Esmeralda. My older brother even shot one in our front yard when we were kids, without the bell tower. My younger brother bought his first monster mask shortly after I did at the Disneyland magic store. He picked Quasi for his entree into over the head rubber monster masks. Disney made a movie musical out of the story twenty-three years ago. And when I was in college, it was one of the architectural wonders that I studied in art history.
But I have never been there.
Nor have I been to South Bend, Indiana.
Which may explain my confusion.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Goo Goo Ga Joob

Dying eggs for Easter is a tradition that I have enjoyed for years and years and years. I am sure there were a few years during my stint in college that I did not fully participate, but for the abundance of my years on the planet, the celebration of our Lord's resurrection has been celebrated by singing along with Jesus Christ Superstar from overture to curtain and coloring unfertilized chicken embryos.
Mostly I remember the smell of vinegar. Back in the olden days, the dyes that came with the PAAS kit encouraged users to use a teaspoon of vinegar to make them fizz up properly. These days, they only suggest the vinegar if you want Ultra-Vibrant Colored Eggs. If you're after pastels, stick to just the water. The vinegar also came in handy for the rubber egg experiment as well as seasoning that occasional plate of corned beef hash.
In the week leading up to Easter, I was not there for the hash. I was there for some serious egg decoration. Over the years, many different iterations have been attempted, everything from white crayons to rubber bands to leave bare spots on the shell or create stripes over various widths. Of course, the PAAS kit came with its own distractions: stickers and stands and other ways to dress up your vibrantly colored eggs. Those were initially very important to me, but as I grew older and more experienced, I began to explore the actual colors available. I was following in my older brother's footsteps on this one, since he was always more patient and would sometimes monopolize a particular cup for what seemed like hours, looking for a specific shade. Dark red. Deep blue. It was also by watching him that I learned to eschew the provided wire egg handlers. He was not afraid to get his fingers a little orange by turning his eggs with his fingers, plucking it out at the moment he had achieved his spectrum goal. Which served me well also, but when I had a son who was anxious to try every hue in the rainbow, he sometimes got stuck behind his dad who was looking for something in the maroon category.
Now that little boy has moved on to his own house and his own choice for making vibrantly colored eggs. Or pastel. Vinegar or no. Crayons, rubber bands or stickers? We will wait and see. 

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Fear Itself

According to our "President," this country is "full." Not like Soylent Green full, just full enough that we can't possibly take on any more undesirables. Not from Mexico, or any other Mexican countries like Guatemala or El Salvador or Honduras. Oh, sure, you could try and squeeze another asylum seeker in there someplace, but no. Sorry. We are full now.
Which is why it seems odd that one of the solutions that our "President" is floating around currently is that we take all those folks who are coming across our southern border and deposit them in the Sanctuary Cities. The ones run by Democrats. The ones found primarily in godless and forsaken corners of the country like California. "Just out: The USA has the absolute legal right to have apprehended illegal immigrants transferred to Sanctuary Cities. We hereby demand that they be taken care of at the highest level, especially by the State of California, which is well known or its poor management & high taxes!" tweeted the "President."
California is also known for its economy, which ranks fifth in the world. Not among states. Among other countries. A good deal of that success comes thanks to the labor and work done by immigrants. Men and women who have come here seeking not just asylum but a better life for themselves and their families. Not bad, considering all the poor management and high taxes.
I live in one of those Sanctuary Cities. I am proud to live in a place that backs up its thoughts with deeds, in spite of what our "President" might tweet: ....So interesting to see the Mayor of Oakland and other Sanctuary Cities NOT WANT our currently 'detained immigrants' after release due to the ridiculous court ordered 20 day rule. If they don’t want to serve our Nation by taking care of them, why should other cities & towns?" I am proud that my mayor replied to the "President" in this way: "It’s time to stop fanning hate and division @realDonaldTrump - I’ve been consistent and clear: #Oakland welcomes all, no matter where you came from or how you got here."
Meanwhile up the road in Seattle, a city known for its poor management and coffee, their mayor used a few more words to respond to the Tangerine In Chief. Her op-ed piece in the Washington Post reminds the "President" that her city along with several others have already beat him in court, and more importantly, "Seattle is not afraid of immigrants and refugees. In fact, we have always welcomed people who have faced tremendous hardships around the world. Immigrants and refugees are part of Seattle’s heritage, and they will continue to make us the city of the future." 
The future. I hear that. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Everything New Is Old Again

I was surprised to hear a colleague of mine speak so vehemently about her distaste for Disney's new version of The Lion King. Coming along as part of a flurry of newly fiddled-with CGI retreads of classic animated tales, this one in particular stuck in her craw. If you've never had something stuck in your craw, maybe you don't know how this can affect your appreciation of family films of a rebooted kind.
Maybe this would be a good time to remind our readers that the author is hard-pressed to say anything bad about the House of Mouse. I am not a shareholder, but my son does hold an annual pass to the Magic Kingdom and our investment in movie tickets, stuffed toys and the like suggest that we are shills for most everything Disney. We didn't flinch when those powers that be decided to make a live action version of Cinderella. Or when they turned Beauty and the Beast into a computer generated redux with Harry Potter's friend Hermoine. There was some trepidation when it came time to see The Jungle Book "come alive" with Bill Murray's voice coming out of Baloo the Bear, but we went along for the ride and came out happy on the other side.
But then came Dumbo, and given my past experiences with Tim Burton messing with my own childhood firmament, I could not get myself up off the couch and into a movie theater to take it in. His revision of Planet of the Apes was still stuck in my overall craw region. Dumbo was my son's first Disney love, partly for the big-eared and even bigger-hearted elephant but mostly for the circus train Casey Junior. His parents painted a facsimile of his favorite locomotive on his bedroom wall and it was one of the few repeat rides he insisted upon when we visited the land of Disney.
Now I should also toss all the cards in the air and remind myself and anyone who is still reading that all of these stories weren't original when they came to the family fun factory in the first place. Even Dumbo was a novel before it was adapted for the screen by Walt's minions. Beauty and the Beast? Originally published back in 1740. And if you were paying mild attention to all that Hakuna Matata, the story of The Lion King is a furry version of Hamlet. Shakespeare fans will probably stay home in droves.
With something stuck in their collective craw.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Good Witch Or Bad Witch

Confession time.
I don't know if Julian Assange is a good guy or a bad guy. I have a pretty clear understanding that he is in charge of Wikileaks, which I used to believe was a good thing, but I am not exactly sure what role it is currently playing in world politics. Their mission statement says the web site "specializes in the analysis and publication of large datasets of censored or otherwise restricted official materials involving war, spying and corruption." So, I suppose if it's all about transparency and holding people accountable then I'm for it. 
Except that back in 2016, the "President" then the "Candidate" professed his love for Wikileaks. Which of course sends me automatically to the other side of the boat, looking into shark infested waters wondering if being on that particular boat is a good choice. Happily, I didn't actually jump into the shark infested waters, and when our "President" said this past week that he "knows nothing" about Wikileaks, I felt some reassurance.
But the list of things about which our "President" knows nothing is a lengthy one. Not that he would see it that way, exactly.
So now that Julian Assange has been arrested, and the world lines up to laud or condemn him. Those who insist his work as a journalist and champion of free speech will rescue us all from the treachery of the all-powerful state, and those who have been embarrassed or brought low by the revelations of his efforts and those he has inspired. And maybe a third, smaller group that see Mister Assange as a celebrity of his own making, looking to martyr himself for a price. Which is probably closest to the place I find myself currently. Hiding in plain sight inside the Ecuadorian embassy in London, Julian has become quite the mythical character, and when he was booted out after six years and taken to jail wearing a long gray beard, I wondered again: Gandalf or Saruman? 
Meanwhile, the leaks continue. News comes to us in these odd burst pipes that contain information that needs to be reassembled and then synthesized for digestion by our weak knowledge tracts. Causing us to think about what we read and see and hear. 
Which I suppose is a good thing.  

Sunday, April 14, 2019


It took more than twenty years, but we finally managed to make it happen. I go to see a fair number of concerts, not as many as I did in my youth, but I like to think that I still enjoy getting out and hearing some live music now and again. The same could probably be said for my younger brother, with whom I attended my first big rock and roll show, Elton John in 1975. I was thirteen. He was ten. Elton was twenty-eight. My older brother and his girlfriend chaperoned us and we sat in box seats in the newly constructed McNichols Sports Arena. The place rocked and all three brothers spent the next day with a persistent ringing in our ears.
Which did not stop us from going back. Not necessarily for Elton John, but Jimmy Buffett, and Talking Heads and The Eagles and on and on. On football fields. In field houses. In intimate theaters and sprawling arenas. Somewhere along the way, our paths diverged and we went our separate ways. We had learned to be fans of live music together, and now we were on our own. Me with my Bruce Springsteen fixation, and my younger brother?
The Pixies. His litmus test for people he met in those days was two questions: Do you know the film Repo Man? When was the last time you listened to the Pixies? The preferred answers to this interrogation was, "Yes. I love it!" and "On the way over here."
Which is why, when the opportunity presented itself late in the second decade of the new century for the two of us to take in a show together once again and the Pixies were on tour, it really didn't matter how many miles we had traveled since way back then. We were headed back to a sports arena to watch and listen as Frank Black and friends attempted to tear the roof off the building where the Golden State Warriors play basketball.
The band roared through a twenty-plus song set, and my younger brother and I bobbed and sang along, provided our own confused choreography from our seats near the back of the hall. And I had to confess that I was pleased and happy to have been introduced to this music so long ago, and to finally have a chance to bond over it. As have. As we did.
A magical night. 

Saturday, April 13, 2019


Homework: forgotten, completed, lost, eaten by dog. Many fates await for such matters. When I first signed up to be a teacher, I expected that I would be assigning homework because I had been assigned homework when I was in school. It was as natural a thing as bells and recess. It wasn't until I had been doing the job for a few years that I began to question the importance/validity of what I was doing. Certainly there is something to be said about keeping students' eyes on the prize. If they go home to spend all those hours away from school without thinking about it again until they reappear magically on our doorstep the following morning, how much can they possibly retain? Rather than burden them with hours of busy work and repetition, I learned over time to keep some practice in front of them and then return them to their regularly scheduled childhood.
This was, in large part, generated out of memories of my own struggles with getting my own homework done. I made the large assumption that if I was assigned a certain number of pages, odd number problems, or stapled packet that it was my duty and honor to complete it by the designated time. It never occurred to me that if I encountered something that I couldn't do that I could leave it blank, that I could go into school early the next morning and ask my teacher for help. Instead, I fussed and strained to make good on the unwritten contract I had agreed. My parents worried right along with me, pitching in as they could, especially once my stress level had reached that of an air traffic controller at O'Hare Airport working on overtime. It was on one of these very strung out nights that my father stepped into my room and found me with my nose firmly to my algebra grindstone when he asked, "What would happen if you left that one blank?"
It was a light that came on in my head, but I was unable to acknowledge it until I had completed my formal schooling and had become a teacher myself. That light told me that indeed, I could leave one of those blank, and it wasn't necessarily my fault that I could not complete the assignment. It could be that I had missed some important instruction, or it hadn't been communicated to me in a way that made sense, and that I could make sense of the wiggly mass in front of me if only I was given a little more assistance.
Which is why I gave out my home phone number to my students when I taught fourth grade. I told parents that I didn't expect them to have to learn or teach fourth grade math. That was between me and their student. What they had was practice, and if it was taking more than an hour, something had gone horribly wrong and we would fix it the next day. Or they could call me and I would try and walk them through it. This was essentially the advice I gave my son when he hit his own homework wall. The answers are out there, and sometimes it takes a little extra time to find them.
And this is why I cried a little when I read a news story about a five year old girl who was beaten to death by her father for not doing her homework. She was home-schooled, and her father lost patience when his little girl told her father that she was tired and didn't want to do any more homework. Certainly there must have been other factors that contributed to the end, but when a kindergartner gives up, it's nothing personal. It is what they do. There's always tomorrow. Except in this case.

Friday, April 12, 2019

Why Did It Have To Be Snakes?

Coincidence depends a lot on which corner of the galaxy you happen to be watching.
Scientists found a seventeen foot python slithering around the Florida Everglades last weekend. Let's put it this way: if an NFL running back averaged five yards per carry over the course of a career, he would be preparing his speech for Canton. This snake was somewhere in the Jamaal Charles territory. If that sports analogy is a tad obscure for you, try this one: You can get a pretty nice sailboat that runs about seventeen feet long. Or if you prefer, we can leave the sporting world behind and tell you that U-Haul will rent you a very nice seventeen foot truck with enough room to move a two bedroom house. While it is unlikely that a python would be able to ingest the contents of your home, this one weighed in at one hundred forty pounds and at the time of its capture was carrying inside its legless torso seventy-three developing eggs. One giant python hanging out in Big Cypress National Reserve would be a concern. Seventy-four of them would be, well, seventy-four times worse. Or better, if you happen to be a fan of such things. Or if you aren't a fan for raccoons and possums.
It should be noted that these pythons are not native to the swamps of Florida, but those scientist types mentioned earlier estimate there are over one hundred thousand of them crawling around down there. Across the continent in Los Angeles, Pythons are a little easier to find and isolate. The Monty types anyway. One of them was recently discovered in the Hollywood Hills, or at least his habitat was. Police and fire officials mounted a hazmat response to that location, and two women were taken to a nearby hospital as precaution. Not because they had been constricted or bitten, but because they were afraid. Not of snakes as much as poison. A white powdery substance was received at Eric Idle's residence and was initially feared to be anthrax. Tests proved negative, but the Python in question was not immediately available for comment. 
You decide. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

I'm Cleaning

I'm cleaning my brain. - Talking Heads Artists Only
I really love going to art openings. No. Wait. Check that. I really love going to my younger brother's art openings. It's not just the freshly baked cookies. It's not the cubes of cheese which can be eaten with those colorful toothpicks. Often there is bubbly water. All of which makes for a very convivial occasion, strolling about the gallery with a little plate and a napkin, snacking as I move thoughtfully through the collected works.
And there is collage.
This is not a regular feature at all art openings. But it is at my younger brother's art openings. After a few cheese cubes and maybe a sip or two of bubbly water, I am ready to sit down at the table filled with scraps of paper, scissors and glue sticks. Of course I have spent a good amount of time viewing and taking in the art that was prepared for the show, but then my mind begins to wander. What sort of creation can I contribute to this endeavor?
Sometimes I work narratively, picking words and phrases from magazines and advertisements. Sometimes I work on a more abstract level, preferring texture and shape to pre-packaged images. Sometimes I know exactly how things will come together once I begin to glue them down. Sometimes I have no idea but instead I trust that what I cut will all come together.
All the time I have fun doing it. Mostly because it reminds me of all the art I have done in classrooms and elsewhere. Cutting and pasting is very therapeutic and brings a flood of childhood memories. When I was in elementary school, I had an art teacher, Ms. Kunesh, who admonished me in third grade to learn how to handle my scissors "like a grown up." This criticism didn't land as a put down, but rather as encouragement. I learned to make long, decisive cuts, rather than those tentative little chops I was making. I learned to do the same things with my lines as I drew. Confidence was key. Even when I made a mistake, Ms. Kunesh reminded us to use them, I did it with confidence. No one else need know that you didn't want that big gray streak through the middle of the picture. Maybe you were after something a little postmodern when you let the glue drip down beneath the blue spiral.
So there I sat, surrounded by art, and feeling those spirits of the past moving through me. I had another cube of cheese and started a new creation.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019


Ladies and gentlemen, we have our answer: "Our country is full." At least that's what our "President" says.
Why else would we need to close our southern border? There's no room for any more people. I don't know if you noticed how crowded things have become at your local Starbucks, but you can be sure that if you want your Triple, Venti, Half Sweet, Non-Fat, Caramel Macchiato in a timely fashion, you had better hope that something is done and fast. "There is indeed an emergency on our southern border," the "President" said at the briefing in Calexico, Calirfornia and adding that there has been a sharp uptick in illegal crossings. "It's a colossal surge and it's overwhelming our immigration system, and we can't let that happen. ... We can't take you anymore. We can't take you. Our country is full."
His pronouncement came as California and nineteen other states that are suing the "President" over his emergency declaration to build a border wall requested a court order to stop money from being diverted to fund the project. "The Project" known as "The Wall" is seen as the solution to keeping our country from overflowing. And the latte lines more reasonable. 
What isn't apparent to those folks coming across the border in those marauding hordes is that they aren't wanted. Somehow the past two years of antagonistic rhetoric from our "President" hasn't stilled the urges of those living down there to make them want to find a way up here. Which is pretty telling since the fear and animosity aimed at those yearning to breathe free, to have a shot at the American Dream. But they aren't Americans, are they? Not North Americans, anyway. Or not the lower than Canada North Americans. 
And since these hordes are the ones bringing all the drugs into the country, it's really for the best. Now, if they were bringing Macchiatos, this whole thing might go down a little differently. Instead, we could welcome these refugees as saviors to our shores. Well, our deserts, anyway. Across the imaginary line that won't be so imaginary anymore because they will be marked by great big plates of steel, rising dozens of feet into the air. Nearly insurmountable. Unless you are clever and/or desperate enough to walk around it. But you can't really walk away from hate. Or the fear of not being able to find a parking spot at the mall. 

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

After A Certain Age

I don't like going to see the doctor. Not that I resent or mistrust the medical profession. I appreciate all the science that has gone into taking me from the cradle to the place I find myself currently, perhaps a little closer to the grave, but we'll speak of that later. I don't like going to the doctor because they inevitably put their big medical science finger right in the spot where I am most vulnerable. And that's about the time that they begin to explain that "after a certain age" our parts begin to wear out and while there are plenty of things that can be done to mitigate the process of aging, I'm still running on parts made in the mid twentieth century.
Let's take my recent battle with gravity as an example. Initial examination of my vitals suggested that I was "a pretty healthy guy," according to the ER doc. So why was I falling over and clinging to the carpet? "After a certain age" those tiny crystals of calcium carbonate located in your inner ear can shake loose and travel into the canals that sense your head's rotation. Once my little crystal was shaken back into its place, I asked if there wasn't something that could be done to keep it from happening again. The long pause after the "well" was the message being sent to my mid twentieth century brain that this was another in a string of acceptance issues that I was going to be wrestling with until my bionic replacement was ready. 
Just about every time I go out for a run there is a moment where I imagine my younger self chugging along past me as my pace begins to slow, almost imperceptibly. Except to me. I know that I used to get around this circuit or that mile more quickly than I am currently. That was before I had knee surgery. That was before I was thirty. Forty. Fifty. Now I congratulate myself for lacing up my shoes and getting out three or four times a week to prove to the world and myself that I am still mobile. I ride my bike to and from school, though it takes a few more gears than it used to. 
The Rolling Stones had to postpone a world tour because their lead singer Mick Jagger needed heart surgery. Mick had a valve replaced so that he could get up in front of thousands of fans and continue to shake his moneymaker and sing Satisfaction one more time. By all accounts, Mister Jagger is a "pretty healthy guy." Who happens to be seventy-five years old. Keith Richards continues to survive on transfusions of blood from six year olds, but that's another matter.
Though now that I think of it, making a deal with Satan may alleviate some of the stress I feel about going to the doctor. 

Monday, April 08, 2019

Lying Down

A few days back, the "President" was using his caps lock button to complain to Twitter about PRESIDENTIAL HARASSMENT. Oddly enough, this came in the days following the release of the Mueller Report, the one that he insisted, after months and months of decrying its existence as a WITCH HUNT, cleared him of all wrongdoing. The trouble, it seems, is that there are still a whole lot of people who are not convinced.
And a whole bunch who are. It seems that repeating a big lie often enough sometimes has the effect of making it a truth. Not the truth, since the truth is only known to history, and what we hear currently is a lot of yammering competing to become the truth.
Like if someone says that the noise from wind turbines cause cancer. That doesn't sound like very good science, but then again what does? If someone you admire and respect shows up and starts babbling on about all those cases of cancer generated by the noise from wind turbines, wouldn't you be tempted to believe them? Especially if they gave you a nice red baseball hat?
And what about somebody who continues to relate how his father was born in Germany, even though rooms full of documents state that he was actually born in New York City? I mean, a guy should know where his father was born, shouldn't he? Unless that little fact didn't fit in well with the rest of the clanging and banging going on in the narrative that would not fit the purpose of this little fact. Like stopping the flow of drugs into our country is directly connected to our immigration policies and a wall being built across our border. Except the drugs coming into our country are not being strapped to the backs of immigrants seeking asylum. They are coming in great boatloads to various and sundry ports of call. Immigrants are bad because they bring crime and drugs.
Not the ones from Germany, of course.
So the FAKE NEWS continues to HARASS the "President." If that means that we continue to separate the wheat facts from the chaff lies, then so be it. In the meantime, I continue to be amused at the pretend architecture of this administration, but I look forward to one that has a little more reality mixed in, just for good measure.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

Balanced Breakfast

Every morning it's the same thing: "Please don't eat on the playground." I repeat this phrase a dozen or more times, sometimes a few extra for the kids whose listening is most impaired by being in fourth or fifth grade. And then I have to reflect, not for the first time, the reality in which they are being turned loose.
Many are not sent out of the house with any sort of healthy breakfast. The cereal with milk, glass of orange juice, Flintstones chewable vitamin and the occasional slice of cinnamon toast is not readily available in most of the homes from which our children make their daily trek to our playground. If it were, it's also quite possible that there is no adult awake or around to  make sure that any or all of those ingredients get fed to them.
Instead, they graze. Often they walk out their door with whatever was on the counter from the night before: a piece of pizza, a tube of Ritz crackers. Then there is the inevitable stop at one of the corner stores located between home and school. Nobody behind the counter will ask a paying customer about what makes up a healthy breakfast. It would be nice to imagine that there would be some halfhearted lecture from the cash register about how those flaming hot Cheetos are best saved for an afternoon snack and probably shouldn't be the first thing that gets dropped into the empty stomach of a nine year old.
So often times, before the first bell ever rings, a group of our kids have been poisoned by food with enough artificial colors and flavors to bring down a rhino. Not that this will have the same effect. In most cases, it makes them even more excited and agitated just to be living in their skins and the breakfast we are offering them in their classroom as soon as they troop inside goes ignored. "Not hungry," they grumble as their sugar high begins to dip. When lunch rolls around, the kids lucky enough to have a lunch packed for them dive in, and a very similar group to that in the morning will fuss and fume about how they aren't hungry and they don't like that stuff the cafeteria is serving them anyway. Never mind that it's free and it will be the healthiest option most will get in the next twenty-four hours. Because they still have that bag of chips in their backpack that will be consumed in furtive bites in the classroom or on a corner of the playground where I will inevitably come upon them licking orange dye from their fingers and I will say, "Please don't eat on the playground."
Until tomorrow.

Saturday, April 06, 2019

Space Forces

What happens above our head tends to go unnoticed. Unless it's the Super Blood Harvest Moon (with sprinkles). Celestial events tend to escape our notice because they don't tend to happen during the day. Stars come out at night, right? I'm looking at you, George Clooney.
But since we're such big fans of science here at short attention span theater, I thought I could suggest that things that happen outside our atmosphere continue to happen in large part because of Newton's First Law of Motion which states that an object in motion tends to stay in motion until acted upon by an outside force. Down here on Terra Firma, we tend to expect gravity to be that thing that will eventually stop something that comes hurtling toward us. Even a bullet, given a long enough trajectory, will eventually run out of kinetic energy and come to rest back on the ground. Kids, don't try this at home. Out in space, there are bullets that could have been fired during the U.S. Civil War that are still zipping along through the vacuum of space. This is not probable or likely because this was before the advent of our "President's" proposed Space Force.
That's not the reality, but this is: India shot a missile out into space to test their anti-satellite capabilities. Success! They blew up the satellite. Nobody got hurt, but now everyone can be afraid of India. And not just because they have this awesome anti-satellite missile technology. They can be afraid of the debris that they created by blowing something up in space, causing chunks of what-used-to-be-satellite screaming around without any particular vector or orbit. Junk that could crash into other satellites that were not intended targets, or maybe the International Space Station. NASA is currently tracking sixty pieces of potential trouble drifting about with vectors that could present a danger to human spaceflight. India has suggested that whatever mess they created will eventually be pulled back to earth and burn up harmlessly on reentry. Unless it runs into something else on the way down. Like a farmer in Des Moines.
My suggestion to the folks in Iowa: Don't farm at night. You should be safe.

Friday, April 05, 2019

Lifestyle Contouring

Friday is cheeseburger night. At least that's the way I like to play it around my house. This is not just a little throwback to the way I experienced life when I was a mere slip of a lad. When my parents went out to dinner, we three boys were afforded the opportunity to enjoy a big sack full of McDonald's.
Let me say from the outset that I understand how different McDonald's is from cheeseburgers. I can best illustrate this by sharing this: I would be shocked and dismayed if I went to virtually any other hamburger stand on the planet and was handed a McDonald's cheeseburger. What is this barely there flat bun and patty combination with a couple of thin pickles and a sprinkle of diced onions held in place by mustard and ketchup smeared into the same temperature as the rest of it and served in a bit of wax paper that identifies it as a "cheeseburger?"
And yet, I have made pilgrimages, over the years to the Golden Arches to buy a big bag of those "meaty treats" because they are their own unique food group. Quarter Pounders, Big Macs, they are another matter. They don't qualify because they don't call them "burgers," do they?
And then there was Tom's Tavern. And The Branding Iron. It was at these two establishments that I had to explain to the friendly folks taking my order that I wanted two hamburgers, but I didn't need twice as many fries, or two scoops of that awful macaroni salad. I just wanted to double up on the burger portion. One plate, thanks. Two burgers.
When I discovered that we had moved into our new house just a few blocks from the nearest McDonald's, I felt that my future was assured. Buying my son his first Happy Meal with cheeseburger was a rite of passage. They even had a numbered meal on their menu that gave me those two cheeseburgers and one order of fries. Like they had anticipated my needs. Desires?
And somewhere along the line the McDonald's up the street closed and I began to question just how many buns I needed to consume along with my obsessive burger habit. And if the hill I was going to die on was going to be cheeseburgers, weren't there some more attractive options?
Nothing served on a plank, thank you, and no artisan buns. But Friday is cheeseburger night.

Thursday, April 04, 2019


Spring. Could be a verb. Could  be a noun. Could be a part of a mousetrap.
A mean mousetrap.
Or a season. A transition from the dark of winter to the warmth of summer. This is true for those of us currently on the north end of the globe. Down south, the long nights are just beginning. People in, let's say Australia, are preparing for that long winter's nap. In June? What do they do for Christmas? Water the lawn?
All of these mostly rhetorical inquiries can best be answered by science, but I teach in California, specifically in a region that is somewhat impervious to seasons. What we know of Winter is what we watch on television and movies. Snow and sledding and snowman and mittens for throwing snowballs and staying all  bundled up in case a rainstorm comes and keeps us inside for recess. Causing me to once again wonder about the strength and character of "kids these days" that they can't withstand a little water because they seem to be made from spun sugar. When I was a boy, I would spend ten of my fifteen minutes of recess getting all bundled up to go outside and brave the elements only to turn right back around after the bell rang and put all those extra clothes in the cloak room for the lunch break.
Not that it occurred to me back then that living in the foothills of Colorado would give me a different set of experiences than those of my counterparts in the Golden State. Not that there aren't foothills and snow to be found here in California. The kids I teach come back from long weekends or vacations with wistful stories about going to see the snow. December, January, February. Those are winter months and the ones where cut snowflakes from construction paper and snowmen with cotton balls.
Until Spring comes and we make umbrellas and rain drops because that's what happens. Unless you're in Australia and you have to dig up all those rust and earth tones to cut up all those Autumn leaves.
But no mousetraps, please.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Where to begin? Perhaps by saying that if in fact ignorance is bliss, this might explain why it seems like the current administration and its hangers-on seem to be having such a good time. All the time. Let's take a look at a few instances of less-than-cleverness on the part of those looking to Make America Great Again. Over the weekend, the "President" called for an end to aid to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. This move was made in a the continuing tantrum he and his minions are throwing over the migration from these countries to ours. This ban on assistance is not in itself stupid, just arrogant and xenophobic. The stupid part comes in the reporting of said efforts by the friendly friends at Fox and Friends who began their discussion of this situation above a graphic that read, Trump cuts U.S. aid to 3 Mexican countries.” Of course, there were abrupt and gratuitous apologies for the gaffe, and the Chyron operator will now be looking for work elsewhere, but the message sent by this tiny-brained mistake only serves to amplify the diminished capacity of all involved. 
Speaking of Fox News and all the friendly folks who show their faces there on a regular basis, the"President's" favorite talking face interviewed him last week, Sean Hannity took note of his pal the "President's" thoughts on alternative energy. Wind power won’t work because wind “only blows sometimes.” This echoed a familiar talking point he tried out on workers at a tank factory in Ohio last month. He complained that his former Democratic rival Hillary Clinton “wanted to put up windmills everywhere.” He then pretended to be some anonymous husband, telling his wife: “Turn off the television darling, please. There’s no wind. Please turn off the television quickly.” Ladies and Gentlemen, the comedy stylings of our "President."
If you like that one, then you probably got a big laugh out of the "President" and his son making light of the New York Times and Washington Post winning a Pulitzer Prize for their coverage of the Mueller investigation. Junior had his daddy's back when he retweeted a tweet from his old man's account about how the Pulitzer Committee should have their prizes taken away, and added the comment, “He’s right… unless they give Pulitzer’s for fiction." Which would be funny if they did. Because they do. And one for history. And one for music. And one for drama. 
No Pulitzers were awarded this year for Twitter. 
Because that would be stupid.