Friday, June 30, 2023


 I should start by saying that I believe any person who would be willing to put themselves into the spotlight that is leading the free world probably has a kink in their personality. Of some sort. Even Jimmy Carter, who had lust in his heart. Bill Clinton might have taken a cue from him, rather than carrying on with "that woman" as he did. And others. 

So when we examine the forty-fifth man to hold the office, however tenuously, we should probably accept that there were some drawers that needed new contact paper in the dresser of his mind. The appeal, as I understand, of this former game show host is that he is not like all those other politicians. What sort of expectations that sets is frightening, as we all remember from his pronouncement that he could shoot a guy on fifth avenue and not lose any voters. 

Turns out he could commit sexual assault, tax fraud, and flash around confidential documents in the bathroom of his golf club and still not lose any voters. All of this on a course toward insurrection and guided by a willful disregard for the Constitution of the United States. The more outrageous his demeanor, the more fascinating he becomes. 

Witness the fact that I am once again taking up the topic of this demonstrated loser. This bully. This over-inflated blob of ignorant arrogance. 


Because I am terrified by the continuing adoration he seems to inspire among a wide swath of our nation's eligible voters. The louder he yells, the harder his flock dig in their heels. Never mind that he continues to admit his transgressions because he is physically incapable of maintaining his right to remain silent. His base believes that he can do no wrong because only he can define what is right and what is so painfully and obviously wrong to those of us without red ball caps on our heads. It is as if everyone hearing Lonesome Rhodes express his contempt for his audience in A Face In The Crowd, but they showed up to the next big broadcast anyway. 

Sadly, like so much of America, I can't find the off switch myself. 

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Work Stoppage

 To say that I am nervous might be an understatement. If I were to describe my feeling right now it would fall somewhere in the territory of  "creeping dread."

That's how I would describe my concern over the progress, or lack thereof, on the playground at my school. You may recall a few weeks ago when I got all worked up because after twenty-six years the asphalt upon which generations of school kids have played tag, kickball, soccer and assorted other recess and PE activities while gathering their share of knee, elbow and shin abrasions. Visions of new play surface and improved conditions danced in my head as I imagined all the ways that that time had finally come: The time for playground renewal. 

"Not so fast there, bub," sneered the voice from the great beyond. Since the massive demolition and partial removal of debris at the beginning of June, the playground has sat. And sat. And sat. Days when children would not be encouraged to go out and play were ticking by, and no progress was being made on the reformation of something in the realm of a safe place to cavort. Or frolic. Or stand around and complain about having to play at the behest of some grownups. 

Should I be concerned? With a month left in Summer Break, do I really believe that the school district and its many contractors might just leave this vast expanse untouched until the last minute? 

Or after? 

Well, yes I do. As mentioned here ad nauseum, I have worked for this district for more than a quarter century and I have seen how they can mess up a pretty sure thing. I can envision a future where the first day of school will arrive and the bulldozers and asphalt spreaders remain idle, waiting for clearance or a sign of some sort that will tell them that it's time to build a playground. "We'd love to get started, but you haven't filed your Zed-stroke-nine form which needs to be accompanied with the green forty-seven B. You do have your green forty-seven B, don't you?"

In which case, I figure that I will do that thing that I often do in situations like this: I will learn how to pave a blacktop. I've taught fourth grade. How hard could it be? 

Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Look At This!

 Everything we see and hear is one big conspiracy. The Matrix movies were documentaries. The crackers I had for lunch were made from people. The Deep State will probably doctor this blog post and turn it into a bunch of inconsequential lies about things that don't matter. There is no escape!

Whew. Those past three lines took a lot of energy. I wonder how folks who live that way all the time cope. Lots of caffeine, no doubt. The one that has been amusing me this past week or so is the insistence by the conspiranoids that every time something happens that we should be paying attention to, something else happens to take our attention away from the thing to which we should have been paying attention. That submarine getting lost was a cover for the Hunter Biden charges. Who cares about a bunch of billionaires drowning when the son of a millionaire, who happens to be a millionaire himself and whose dad is the President, pleads guilty to two federal misdemeanor tax charges. 

It probably didn't have anything to do with the fact that taxes are so inherently boring that cheating and fraud doesn't do much to spice up the topic, especially when compared to the human drama of billionaires lost at the bottom of the sea. Or the "distraction" of an attempted military coup in Russia. The conspiranoids would like us to believe that Joe Biden, who is alternately incapable of tying his own shoes and the evil genius behind the liberal demonization of America, unleashed the mercenary forces who were on their way to Moscow to overthrow Vlad "The Poot" Putin. Then he probably had some ice cream and a nice nap. 

Or maybe things are happening in such a torrid blur these days that concentrating on one dumpster fire at a time is all but impossible. The lunatics have taken over the asylum, or at the very least the news feed. Those on the left and the right seem to have driven right past the three hundred or so Pakistanis who perished off the coast of Greece when the overloaded fishing trawler they were on sank. There were no billionaires on board. 

Maybe that had something to do with it. 

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

On The Cusp

 Not everybody is going to flinch when they hear that Frederic Forrest died. If you grew up in the seventies and eighties, it's probably a little more likely, but this wasn't a leading man. Mister Forrest was more of what you would call a "character actor." He showed up for me way back in 1972 in a little picture called When The Legends Die. He played a Native American who gets pulled into the rodeo circuit by a drunken Richard Widmark. Not your typical western. But it was a start.

Several years later, I took in all his repressed rage against the war machine in Apocalypse Now. Frederic played Chef, a member of the crew that gets assigned to ferry Captain Willard up the river, into the heart of darkness. He left me with this bit of wisdom: Never get off the boat. It was this same year, 1979 that he appeared opposite Bette Midler in The Rose. Bette was the star and the voice and the glitter and the gaze, but Frederic Forrest as the limo driver who ends up as the unlikely last love of this doomed siren is the heart. 

A few years later, he appeared in the teen comedy, Valley Girl. Forrest made the most out of his dad role, giving us one of the first "Woodstock parent" tropes. He and his wife try and figure out how their little girl could be so fascinated by shopping and slumber parties when there was the important business of running a health food store to keep in mind. Again, you'd probably come for the Nic Cage, but I would recommend staying for the Frederic Forrest. 

 It was around this time that I discovered Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation, the story of a surveillance expert played by Gene Hackman who is worried that the couple that he has been watching will be murdered. The couple was played by Frederic Forrest and Cindy Williams. This is when I began formulating a corollary to Roger Ebert's Stanton-Walsh rule, which stated "no movie featuring either Harry Dean Stanton or M. Emmet Walsh in a supporting role can be altogether bad." I'll just go ahead and say that it should be expanded to the Forrest-Stanton-Walsh Rule. 

Frederic Forrest may not have stomped on the Terra, except in the background while making it possible for those big stars to have their moment. He will be missed. 

Monday, June 26, 2023

How Long Can You Hold Your Breath

 I wasn't surprised to find that there are a great many phobias associated with being trapped underwater. The story of the OceanGate submersible seems to have captured a nation's interest because of all these linked fears. Since I was very young, I have harbored a morbid fantasy of diving into a pool, only to find that when I try and break the surface, a sheet of glass has been placed at the waterline, keeping me from getting that lung full of air that I so desperately need. This covered pool scenario probably came from a bad horror movie that I watched when I was young and impressionable, but it hasn't kept me from having it. Or from jumping into the occasional pool. 

Still, that correct wariness of being out of one's element, as an air-breather, is one that most of us maintain because it is a matter of survival. Try as he might, my older brother used to try and condition my younger brother and I out of our panic over enclosed spaces by giving us plenty of exposure to such things. Being sandwiched between two bean bag chairs with my older brother sitting on top, reminding me not to use up my oxygen by yelling did allow me to surrender a bit of my claustrophobia. Kudos to him for that. Don't struggle, it will only make things worse. Then it was my turn to teach this lesson to my younger brother. 

Even so, there's something about submarines that just don't sit right with me. Any enterprise that includes a waiver that mentions death three times doesn't sit right with me. Any enterprise that dangles "catastrophic failure" as a possible outcome doesn't sit right with me. Then there's the very simple matter of revisiting the scene of another famous disaster. More than fifteen hundred people the first time the Titanic stopped being afloat. It seems like an unreasonable amount of hubris involved in taking tourist expeditions to one of the most famous seagoing catastrophes. A little like taking a dirigible across the ocean to recreate the last flight of the Hindenburg. What could go wrong? 

Well, in the case of the undersea voyages of the rich and famous, we have our answer: the aforementioned catastrophic failure. All of which makes me glad for my older brother's careful ministrations, but I will continue to make sure that the pool cover is put away before I jump in. 

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Down The Street

 We're gonna need some more Broncos fans.

Our friend and neighbor Nick passed on this week. He was the old guy on the block. His house was on the corner, and he saw his share of good, bad and ugly during his time there. When the neighborhood lit up for Fourth of July celebrations, he had a front row seat. Just like when cars would choose the intersection to spin donuts and leave great heaps of smoking rubber, he got to experience all that noise and stink.

Such was the life of the guy who lived on the corner. Nick was there for an awful long time. He was there long before we moved in twenty-six years ago. His front yard was a haphazard lot of barrels, wood and metal, car parts, and a great many trees, most of which were shorter than the haphazard but sturdy fence he built to go around it. Somewhere in there I'm pretty sure I saw an old streetlight.

His front steps were covered in plastic, as if waiting for a chance to paint, or waiting for a chance for paint to dry. I assumed he made his entrance and egress from the side door beneath the car port. The car port that occasionally played host to vehicles like a cherry red Buick that he had restored once upon a time, but spent most of the time under a cover when it wasn't on its way to a vintage car show, and a twenty-five foot Winnebago for which he had to raise the roof to wedge it in. 

Nick would show up to the yearly Neighborhood Night Out, sticking around long enough to tag off on all of us who live down the street and then back up the driveway he went. I would periodically run into him on my daily runs around the block, and somewhere along the line a long time ago the subject of professional football came up. His distaste for the then local franchise, The Raiders, was quickly in evidence, and I was surprised to hear that his favorite team happened to be The Broncos. 

Just like me. 

And so, for years we kept tabs on "our team." When we won a Super Bowl. When we lost a Super Bowl. When we made the playoffs. When we missed the playoffs. "What happened to our team?" Nick would ask me as I rounded that corner. I would stop and commiserate about how things were going that season, or our hopes for the next. We knew that our political views were not completely in alignment, so we steered clear of most of that, preferring to vent our pleasures and displeasures in a pigskin vein. 

On Thursday morning, we got a text from another one of our neighbors letting us know that Nick had gone to that big carport in the sky. While he was here, Nick held his corner down. He was a fixture, and he stomped on that corner of the Terra. He will be missed. 

Go Broncos. 

Saturday, June 24, 2023


 We have a white board in our kitchen upon which my wife and I write accomplishments for the month. Things that get moved or fixed or replaced or put right in some way. We track these events by the month. Some are more full than others, and sometimes we have to squeeze things into the margins to capture all the activity. Mostly, it's there as a surrogate for the "To Do List." This is our "To Done List."

June is usually a pretty hectic month, what with me being out of school and looking for something to keep me busy because being busy is one of the ways I know that I am alive. Another way is to have myself paged at an airport, but since I'm not flying anywhere these days, I'll stick to the list. 

After the misfire that was that ill-fated attempt at turning a broken microwave into a Little Free Library. I was still able to put this up on the board under the guise of "recycling," having reduced our science oven to its component materials. But I didn't let that stop me. Instead, I began foraging wood and screws from the pile of debris that exists in our garage. Eventually I was able to cobble together a rough scale facsimile of our house that we painted and put up on a post outside our front fence. The BoogleSnort Free Little Library arose out of the ash that was once a microwave oven. 

Which left me with ten days left in June to fill. And a white board that was getting full, but needed something else to push it over the edge. 

That's when I noticed that our shower drain was all but stopped after my wife's bath. I fussed with it for a bit, checking to see if there was an obvious clog. The plunger technique did not yield any kind of satisfactory results, so I began ruminating. 

A very long time ago, we had our bathroom plumbed in such a way that the sink and the bathtub would drain out the side of the house so that we could reclaim our gray water. It was a very environmentally conscious decision to make. From time to time, the hose that leads out to the front lawn gets a little kinked, and water sits in the sink or the tub while one of us trots outside to make it flow once again. My cursory inspection of the hoses did not reveal a kink, but upon further consideration, I decided to remove the hose from the fitting on the side of the house. When I opened up the valve again, a glug and then a gasp of brownish gray goo as big as my fist emerged before a stream of water that looked like water once again. Not sludge. 

I tried to recall the last time I had checked that hose and could not remember a white board entry in as many months as I could visualize. It had gone a long time, filling up with soap and filth and all the things that would make a drain slow. 

But not anymore. The relief I felt was enormous and just a little embarrassing. Not enough to keep me from writing it down on the white board, but now I've still got a week to come up with something even better. 

Friday, June 23, 2023

Friends In Low Places

 I admit I wasn't looking to name Target as a hero of the revolution. Nor did I imagine that the company that was engulfing and devouring other entertainment entities like a blue whale at a krill buffet would be a shining light in the battle for conscience. Disney as savior? What about Bud becoming the light and the way? Culture wars make strange bedfellows, I suppose. 

Like this guy Garth Brooks. If you've lived a Garth-free life, you might not be familiar with the best selling artist of all time. Depending on whose web site you believe. Garth sang about red necks and cowboys and trains. He sold a lot of records. But you probably wouldn't have imagined him as a spokesperson for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Until now. Garth Brooks, multi-platinum country superstar is opening a new bar, and he says that he'll be serving "all beers." This statement caused quite a stir among the point-headed crowd who get upset when bar owners decide to sell different brands of beer. Especially if that beer is on the boycotted list of that same pointy-headed group. Rather than make a grand show of not selling one of the most popular beers on the planet, Mister Brooks has made the choice to be inclusive. He said he hopes his Friends In Low Places Bar & Honky Tonk, which is set to open in the South Broadway District of Nashville, would be "the Chick-fil-A of honky-tonks." Which certainly has its own spin these days since the pointy-head crowd had to find a new place to get their fried chicken sandwiches once Chick-fil-A hired a diversity and and equity executive. 

"I want it to be a place you feel safe in, I want it to be a place where you feel like there are manners and people like one another," Brooks said. "And yes, we're going to serve every brand of beer. We just are. It's not our decision to make. Our thing is this: if you [are let] into this house, love one another."

Which kind of brings us back to the root question: Are you really a hero of the cause if your base motive is capitalism? I suppose it beats the heck out of putting up walls and shooting beer cans with machine guns. Maybe folks will line up to buy Bud Light from Garth Brooks to go out into the parking lot to shoot at it. Everybody wins. 

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Provocateur Is French For Game Show Host

 You may remember a little while ago there was a global pandemic. Millions of people died. It was in all the papers. Don't remember? Well, maybe if I told you that it was all over Al Gore's Internet, would that tweak your memory? 

I thought so. 

So, millions of people died, and then medical science intervened, in that way that medical science has a way of doing. Vaccines were developed and millions of people were saved. From dying. And there were parades and magazine covers and songs written about it. 

You may not remember that last part, since instead of elevating these doctors and scientists to an honored position in our pantheon of heroes, we have chosen to continue the "debate" over whether or not these vaccines were effective. Some have stretched this argument to include death via vaccine. Doctor Anthony Fauci never got his victory lap. Instead, he resigned at the end of 2022, happy to have escaped the death threats and ignominy that seems to have come as a matter of course after saving the world. 

Meanwhile, most of us have put our masks aside, and started to venture out like it was 2019 all over again. Except for the fact that folks like Joe Rogan won't let vaccinated dogs lie. Instead, Joe feels the need to stick his podcast stick in the hornets nest of anti-vax and stir it around. Having latched onto Robert F. Kennedy Jr. as the kind of fringe nutjob that makes such good pod, Joe has been working to set up a battle royale between his boy RFKJR and scientist Peter Hotez. A winner take all debate in which the worth of vaccination can be settled once and for all. More than two years ago, I did my own accounting on the relative worth of Mister Rogan's opinions. Now, after the fires of the global pandemic have cooled substantially, he feels the need to kick at them, aided and abetted by yet another "expert" who just happens to be running for President. A lot of people are. A lot of Republicans are. And now, there are two Democrats. Joe Biden, who brought the country back from economic and medical catastrophe, and the nephew of John F. Kennedy. Among the many and varied conspiracies to which RFKJR commits to is the old chestnut about the CIA being behind his uncle's assassination. And that prescription drugs are the root of mass shootings in America. HIV/AIDS were caused by the use of "poppers" in the gay culture. And yes, vaccines are bad. 

As if that weren't enough, Rogan and RFKJR have noted science-hobbyist Elon Musk goading from the sidelines. They guy whose cars and space rockets explode, whose investment in Twitter lost two thirds of its value since he took over: this is the team that is going to pick nits about the value of vaccination. Did I mention that Joe Rogan is also a former game show host? Maybe we can find a vaccination for that. 

Wednesday, June 21, 2023


 Today, I turn sixty-one years young. For most folks, this is not one of those blowout big deal birthdays. It doesn't have the cachet of sixteen, or eighteen. Nor does it have the devilish allure of turning twenty-one. I take some satisfaction that I incidentally made a big deal of turning thirty by leaving my hometown and moving to California. As I was looking at forty, I trekked to Key West imbued with the spirit of Jimmy Buffett and another big deal was made. At fifty I gathered my tribe together for a weekend of nostalgia and nonsense, including a MadLib and a skit that portrayed life under President Dave. Celebrations with the requisite attention focused on my past and my present. 

Last year, another "zero" birthday found me stumbling into my sixties, with enough gas left in the tank to pound through two full days of Disneyland and still have energy to move forward on the next stage of wherever life had in store for me. 

This year? Not my favorite. Lived through having our school closed. Then it wasn't. Then my mom died. Then we went on strike. And those were the broad strokes. Another year in which the tragedy was put aside to age for later comedy. And now I am turning sixty-one. 

I keep saying that as if it means something. Maybe not for all of you. But for me, this is significant because shortly after this birthday wraps up, I will have lived longer than my father. 

I cannot say that I have taken every cue from my father's life as a pattern for my own. He made some choices that I don't think I would. Or could. I did lift a lot of my parenting blueprint from my old man, and his voice is the one I hear repeating the words, "There are no bad kids, just bad behavior." He was a great dad. He was a good salesman. He was my model for telling a story. He didn't hang around long enough for me to figure out how to be an old man. 

I resent the fact that he didn't live long enough to see me become a teacher. A father. A super-blogger. So you'll forgive me if my behavior is a little erratic while I plot in a new course for this next phase of my life. I will henceforth be making it up as I go along. 

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

Lost In Space

 You can't go home again. Thomas Wolfe wrote a whole book about it. If you haven't read the novel, it tells the story of a writer who wrote a book, as writers will, about his family and his hometown. And as it turns out, the folks back home are not happy about it. Wolfe's protagonist, George Webber, goes off on a journey that takes him to New York, Paris, and Berlin. Eventually he returns to the United States, seeing it at last with new eyes. 

I have not written a novel. But I have written a blog. I have made reference to a number of the people and the places where I grew up. I have, for the most part, remained in the good graces of those whom I write about, being careful to change names whenever I feel like I may brush a little close to someone's ego or privacy. I have been able to return again and again, most recently to bid a fond farewell to my mother.

And now I find myself wondering if I can go home again. Should there be quotation marks around that word? I live in Oakland. I raised a son there. He has moved on, but having burned no bridges, he still has a place to sleep if he needs it. Or have a sandwich. I am dedicated to preserving the way station for him as my mother did for all those years. 

But now my mother's house is no longer available. Options have become profoundly limited. Decades ago, I wrote lovingly about my hometown and the way I left behind the front range of the Rocky Mountains for a new backdrop closer to the water. I figured I could always go back. If I wanted. 

Back in the day, I was all but incapacitated by homesickness. Spending the night at a friend's house just down the street wasn't a possibility. I struggled right up until the moment that I couldn't make the leap from Boulder to Santa Fe for my freshman year of college. I truly believed that if I left, I wouldn't be allowed back in. Or that the place from which all those memories emanated would shimmer briefly for a moment, and then disappear forever. I needed to stay there to keep that from happening. 

During my last visit, a cursory inspection let me know that there were still pieces of what I had known, places I could visit, and people who could be gathered there to meet me. But the river of time has also kept flowing, and now so have I. Very early one morning recently, I woke to with a start to the nagging question: "If I had stayed in Boulder, would my mother still be alive?" It's a multiverse kind of question, and one that shows off a little too many comic books in my youth. 

My youth is gone. And so, in many ways, is my home.   

Monday, June 19, 2023


 My wife and I are planning a trip for this summer. Partly because this will be our thirtieth wedding anniversary and also because it's been a while since we travelled together. Unless you're counting the trip we took back to Boulder this November to put my mom to rest. 

I'm not. 

But between one thing and another, most significantly the global pandemic that you may have heard about, the past few years have not had a lot of galivanting hither and yon together. We have played it pretty safe. 

Which is yet another reason why I am choosing to to be incensed by the latest version of the Immigrant Shell Game. This time, Texas Governor Greg Abbott decided to bus forty-two migrants from the border of his state with Mexico to Los Angeles. A thirty hour trip during which the bewildered passengers did not receive food or water. 

I am generally known in my family as a "drive straight through" guy, but I know where the In 'n' Outs are on my map. Governor Greg let anyone who would listen know that this wouldn't be the last bus he loaded up and sent to the City of Angels. "Texas' small border towns remain overwhelmed and overrun by the thousands of people illegally crossing into Texas from Mexico because of President Biden's refusal to secure the border," Abbott said in a statement. "Los Angeles is a major city that migrants seek to go to, particularly now that its city leaders approved its self-declared sanctuary city status. Our border communities are on the front lines of President Biden's border crisis, and Texas will continue providing this much-needed relief until he steps up to do his job and secure the border." 

So, I'm thinking that I could return the favor by filling up our back seat with some confused Canadians and driving them down to Austin. There would be regular stops, but no lingering, for road pops and snacks. And I would make every effort to explain to our visitors from the Great White North why we're making the journey. Because practical jokes on confused migrants is currently all the rage.

Now I just have to explain my plan to my wife. 

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Reading Is Fundamental

 A while back, I followed through on my somewhat absurd threat to explain the infield fly rule. That one came about as a response to artificial intelligence "making sense" out of things by breezing through Al Gore's Internet to provide a skimmed version of what anybody and everybody else believes is "sense." I will take my stance one step further here by asserting that I would take Artificial Intelligence a lot more seriously if I knew that it had actually sat through an extra innings baseball game that ended up being decided by the aforementioned rule. 

At the time I was making a point about the way so many of us tend to take for granted that certain bits of cultural ephemera are exactly what they have been told they were by someone else. This reminds me of the way baby birds get fed by mommy birds regurgitating into their gaping beaks. You should always trust whatever your mom decides to barf into your mouth. Or your elected representatives. This same group of people who complained bitterly when they were given "only three days" to read the ninety-nine pages of the debt ceiling bill. Who has time to read when you're spending all that time complaining about having to read? 

Which moves us down a notch to the most recent argument about things we should read and understand before we have arguments about them: The Presidential Records Act. This little bit of cultural ephemera came to be in 1978 and was put into active use in January 20, 1981. It is not a fun read. It's about a page long, and even though the text is a little dense, it reads pretty clearly as a road map for how presidents, sitting, former, and incumbent should handle their records. What it doesn't mention is how presidents, sitting, former and incumbent should handle confidential documents. It does address how presidential records move from private to public, and that these records become part of the National Archives. It was written to keep the mess that happened at the end of the Nixon administration, when Tricky Dick tried to take all of his dirty laundry with him, from happening again. To wit: "Prevents an individual who has been convicted of a crime related to the review, retention, removal, or destruction of records from being given access to any original records." You know, like somebody who has been impeached twice, indicted a couple of times, and currently under investigation for sedition and insurrection. 

So, if you're watching the television and someone comes on foaming at the mouth about how the former game show host is absolved from keeping top secret documents in a bathroom because of the Presidential Records Act, keep in mind that their intelligence is either artificial or inadequate. 

Saturday, June 17, 2023


 A great many of these blog posts come to me first as ideas while I am running. Today was a bit more circuitous. The first inkling I had was not for a bit of writing. There may have been something tangentially glancing off, since so many of my notions become stories. This is one of those. 

My idea was about making one of those little libraries. You have probably seen them around your neighborhood. According to the Free Little Library website, there are more than one hundred fifty thousand registered Free Little Libraries in one hundred twenty different countries. They are tiny sheds filled with books that are there to be picked up, read, returned, or moved to another location. You can even It's a way to stir the big pot of literature that might otherwise remain still and stagnant. 

Over a few days, I had been thinking it would be fun to have my own Free Little Library to curate. But first I would have to build it. There is a comforting sameness to the construction of most of the tiny sheds, but when I went online to see about plans or a kit to piece one together for my own, I was treated to a number of clever variations on the theme. 

And that is where my mind wandered while I was running. I thought about all the possible existing structures that I might adapt to the purpose of holding used books for strangers to peruse. A box. With a door. I thought of the defective microwave oven sitting in our basement. How hard would it be to convert that metal box with a door into a Little Free Library? 

My wife, who administered First Aid when I needed it will tell you that it turned out to be a bit of a bloody mess. Using a hacksaw blade on my reciprocating saw, tin snips, and a screwdriver to cut, snip and bend the guts of what used to be a household appliance to my vision eventually rendered that former household appliance into a twisted piece of wreckage.

Not a Free Little Library. It would have been so cool. I was even going to create little pretend LED letters to paste where the timer was that spelled out READ. It would have been another bit of whimsy in an already whimsical corner of our neighborhood. 

Instead, it was a funny idea I had while I was out running. That turned out to be a mildly amusing blog post. We call this a "win-win" situation. Except for the band-aids. 

Friday, June 16, 2023

The Fan-hise

 There was a lot of talk about the Denver Nuggets "finally" winning an NBA championship. They did this last Monday by beating the Miami Heat, who had already earned three since joining the leage in 1988. Denver's basketball franchise used to be called The Rockets, and when they were an ABA team, they won two championships. They played in the last ABA championship series in 1976, falling to the New York Nets before making the big leap into the National Basketball Association. By that time, they had changed their mascot to the Nugget, because there was already a Rocket team in the NBA. From that era, A briefly cherished childhood toy was my miniature Denver Rockets basketball, with the hokey old logo

It would be some time before I got any Denver Nuggets swag. Basketball wasn't the focus of my youth sportsmania. My attention was taken up with the fits and starts of the also-ran Denver football Broncos and the University of Colorado football buffaloes. This was instead of paying mind to the also-ran Denver basketball Nuggets. A vivid memory from my twenties found a friend of mine and I, after dropping my old roommate off at the airport, stopping by McNichols arena on the way back to Boulder. It just so happened that the Nuggets were playing the Cleveland Cavaliers that night and there were plenty of tickets remaining. 

When I say that there were plenty of tickets, I mean that the place was so empty that we could hear Dan "The Horse" Issel huffing and puffing his way down the court. From the upper deck. It would take LeBron James and about twenty more years before the Cavs won their only title, so it was more an exercise in patience for all of us who might have called ourselves "fans." 

Around this same time, my older brother and I were given tickets for a game, this time during a surge in the team's popularity. We were part of a much lareger and more raucous crowd, cheering on a newer and revitalized Nuggets team, including the all-time franchise leader in blocked shots, Wayne Cooper. We enjoyed our seats, the game, many beers and the Hawaiian print souvenir baseball caps we acquired. After the final buzzer, we found our way down to the floor where we were able to corner Mister Cooper and get him to sign the underside of the bills of our caps. This was a bonding moment not just for my brother and I, but with the franchise as well. 

Once I moved to the left side of the country, my basketball focus was easily moved to the Golden State Warriors. For a while there, they made winning championships easy. Of course it was also the Warriors who managed to blow a three games to one lead and allow Cleveland to finally win a major sports championship in 2016.

Leaving the Denver Nuggets to carry around that albatross of no NBA championships all by themselves. Until this past Monday. The stars aligned and the talent combined and there was joy in the Mile High City for basketball. At last. 

Just after the game was over, before they passed around the trophy, my phone buzzed. My older brother texted me. Two words: Wayne Cooper. What a long, strange trip it's been. 

Thursday, June 15, 2023

What I Like

 It would be cliche for me to say that I don't know a lot about art. But I do know what I like. We can start with those formative years when I was using the inside covers of coloring books to draw my own pictures. At that time, I was attempting to recreate the world I saw around me. Cartoons I saw, and most notably the pictures I saw my older brother and his friends make. 

Skip forward a few years, and we find young Dave trying his hand at acrylics, using a pallette knife to create what he hoped would be realistic flames in the style of Morris Katz. My parents owned two paintings by Mister Katz, who was renowned for his ability to crank out living room masterpieces at an incredible rate. I did not know this at the time, I was mostly interested in re-creating things I had seen. 

In junior high school, I was given the choice of taking industrial arts or studio art. Indulging my sensitive artist personality, I skipped the band saws and the sanders and the chance to make a lamp. I chose to work on my skills with a pencil. And other media. Including a weaving project that icluded yarn and chicken wire. In high school I took Basic Drawing, Advanced Drawing, Ceramics One and Two. This set me up perfectly for the opportunity of becoming a Studio Art Major when I reached college. 

The only course I failed in college was Basic Drawing. I could draw, but I rebelled against the idea that I should have to attend a Basic Drawing course. I knew how to draw. So I stopped going. It was for this lack of effort, the instructor failed me. Go figure.

It was right about this time that my younger brother started releasing paint. He started as a painter very much in the frantic style of Morris Katz. As my own experience as a graphic artist began to wind down, his was ramping up. He began to work more intently on his craft, creating a series of paintings depicting neon signs he encountered on his travels through Los Angeles. He was making art our ot what he saw. 

This past weekend, I met my younger brother at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. He invited me to join him at an exhibit by Frank Bowling. We walked from room to room, canvas to canvas, talking about what we saw. Vivid colors. Blurred images. Stories that would take too long to tell but fit neatly in a gigantic painting. As I listened to my younger brother describe these works, Listening to him talk about painting is my new favorite art. 

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Revisionist Dummies

 This comes as a reminder to absolutely no one who has read the blog more than once: In World War II, the United States fought alongside a group of its allies to defeat a group of cruel borderline humans who called themselves "Nazis." We decided to call the generation that defeated the genocidal nutjobs The Greatest. This was a consensus vote, by the way. Not a lot of arguments from Gens X, Y or Z. Maybe Baby Boomers complained a little, but saving the world was a pretty cool move. 

It's been eighty years since then, and a lot of water has passed under the bridge. In this model, the bridge is us and the water is time. During that flow, there have been those who have cherry-picked certain events and decisions that have provided the "yeah, but" arguments to this distinction. Like the way that Henry Ford may have been a better capitalist than a Nazi-hater. Or the way that Franklin Roosevelt's anti-Semitic tendencies may have slowed down the response to the Holocaust. All of which makes the eventual outcome all the more impressive, in my mind. 

When the chips were down, the Nazis were worse than any greedhead car maker or career politician. The United States got off the bench, eventually, and went on to crush the Wehrmacht and induce Adolf Hitler into gargling with a pistol. When it was all over, there was dancing in the streets. Real, actual dancing. This response is quite natural when one considers that evil had been vanquished and the good guys won. 

Us. Or rather US. The United States. 

Which is why I sit in slack jawed  wonder at the display of Nazi flags outside the Most Magical Place On Earth.  Yes, this past weekend at the front gates of Disney World, a group of pointy headed agros rallied with their swastikas and (checks notes) DeSantis 2024 banners. This band of mostly masked individuals yelled "White Power" and other even less pleasant vituperation. It's America, after all, and the Constitution provides us with freedom of speech and assembly. Why not go ahead and take a walk on the wildly out of touch side by glamorizing both the losers of a World War and a guy who has decided to pick a fight with a giant rodent. 

This generation is sadly lacking. Very sadly. 

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Is This Familiar?

 Maybe you feel like I do, as if you had just woken up and found yourself watching the middle of a movie during which you had fallen asleep before the ending. Donald Orange Julius Trump was just on trial for something, wasn't he? And didn't I see him up in front of a crowd insisting that he was innocent? 

And this isn't a really good movie. But we seem to be stuck in a place where armloads of idjits still feel compelled to let him flaunt conventions and good taste. People like Kari Lake, who you may remember from a different fever dream that involves losers of elections to spend years after the last vote was counted insisting that they are the rightful heir to the throne. Here's what the Not Governor of Arizona had to say the night after her companion in counting dementia was indicted. Again: “If you want to get to Trump, you’re going to have to go through me, and seventy-five million Americans just like me. And most of us are card carrying members of the NRA. That’s not a threat, that’s a public service announcement.”

This is just an extended dance remix of the Marjorie Taylor Greene assertion that if she and her pal Steve Bannon would have been in charge of the January 2021 insurrection, they would have been armed. And they would have won.

So somewhere in this fantasy world in which these feral mongrels live it is completely worth having children shot and killed on a daily basis in order to Make America Great Again. The threads are just so darn easy to connect. Ironically, this is the same group that loves to tout Ms.s Greene and Lake as "Trump in heels," while withering in terror at the mention of a drag show. The Grand Old Party can't even get it together to save their gas stoves because they are having a contest to see who is the most conservative (read: confused).

While high schoolers are dying at their commencement ceremonies and the east coast wilts beneath a climate crisis cloud, the Loony Party is busy threatening violence in support of a loser. A loser with a capital T. That rhymes with D and that reminds me that this is the guy who hasn't had a job for almost three years. And before that, he pretended to be "president."

Somebody please wake me up when it's over.

Monday, June 12, 2023


 Officer: I pulled you over because you were doing sixty-eight in a posted fifty-five mile an hour zone.

Me: Ah, but, oh - Hey! What about that red car that flew past me?

Officer: I was not clocking him sir. You were exceeding the legal speed limit.

Me: Look at all these cars whizzing by. You're going to tell me that none of them are exceeding the legal speed limit?

Officer: As I explained sir, I was clocking you. You were exceeding the posted limit.

Me: What about the flow of traffic? Was I supposed to slow down while everyone else was speeding?

Officer: Your license and registration, proof of insurance please.

Me: You know I heard that Hillary Clinton was doing a hundred ten down this stretch.

Officer: Really?

Me: Yeah. About seven years ago.

Okay? See how stupid that sounds? Maybe not, depending on how tight your red baseball cap is. The former game show host that once lived in the White House for a while continues to find himself on the wrong side of the law. I say "continues" because even before this country was foolish enough to elect him "president," he and his lawyers were involved in more than four thousand cases in state and federal courts. The people he has paid to be his lawyers say things like "it's a natural part of doing business." 

Not unlike the way getting a speeding ticket is all a part of driving. But something tells me that if you had four thousand speeding tickets they might take away your license to drive. 

Or put you in jail. 

Sunday, June 11, 2023

God's Little Elf

 Pat Robertson, God's little elf, has gone to that great broadcasting studio on the sky. Somewhere in there Robertson was a "man of God," a Baptist minister to be precise. This is not how history will remember him, however. 

In 1960, he started a little enterprise called "The Christian Broadcasting Network." He did this a year before he was ordained. In this way, he cemented his reputation as a broadcaster first, minister second. He used his telepulpit to promote "family values." Like hate and fear. 

In 1991, he let fly with this one: "You say you're supposed to be nice to the Episcopalians and the Presbyterians and the Methodists and this, that, and the other thing. Nonsense. I don't have to be nice to the spirit of the Antichrist." I understand these folks weren't necessarily on the same team, but at least they were playing in the same conference. What sort of invective did he fling at those who weren't on the God Squad? 

When asked about a man with an Alzheimer's stricken wife, Pat said, “I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but to make sure she has custodial care and somebody (is) looking after her.” Never mind What Jesus Would Do. That's why Pat's here. He did preface it with  "I know it sounds cruel." 

It's probably no surprise that he was no fan of Disney's "Gay Days." “I would warn Orlando that you’re right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you … It’ll bring about terrorist bombs; it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor.” In this way, Pastor Pat foretold the coming of Ron DeSantis. 

You may not remember that he once took a run at the White House. In 1988, Pat came in third on the Republican side behind George HW Bush and Bob Dole. Apparently America had plenty of fear and loathing to go around back then. In 2001, he and his pal Jerry Falwell let us all know that God had allowed terrorists to pull off the September 11 attacks as a judgement against our country for leaning too far left. 

You many notice that I didn't say that Pat Robertson had gone to heaven. I don't know about that. I am an ordained minister, but I have not spent any time running a broadcast network. I don't have prophecies. I just have opinions. I believe Pat stomped on the Terra, and he will answer for that stomping elsewhere. 

Saturday, June 10, 2023

Infrequent Flyers

Hello, and welcome to Sacramento!

The nice man who put us on the plane said that if we made it to estado Dorado that we should ask for Governor Handsome. 

Governor Newsom? 

Yes. That was his name. 

So where are you all from? 

Well, my friends and I here are from Venezuala. That group over there? They come from Columbia. 

We are all so very glad to have you here.

Yes. Where is "here?" 

You are in the capital of California: Sacramento?

Okay, but what about Governor Handsome?


Whatever. The other governor fellow said you could give us all jobs. And houses. 


Yes. And jobs. 

Governor who?


Oh. Right. He said that when we got here you all would take care of us. 

So, what part of Florida did you come from?

We did not come from Florida. We were put on a plane in Texas. And we got to stop in New Mexico. Very unimaginative name, by the way. 

Governor DeSantis sent you? 

He invited us. So how far are we from Martha's Vineayard? 

Friday, June 09, 2023

A Brief History

 My youth tasted like Shasta Root Beer. Not because I particularly enjoyed it, but rather because I was anxious to experience the blizzard of foam that was promised in each and every can. The marketing ploy that essentially insisted that we pour their soda in such a way that it would cause more air to mix with it and create a creamy bulge at the top of the mug that should in all cases be wasted by blowing it off the top in the most frivolous manner. It was the exception to my cola fixation that I was helpless to ignore because Madison Avenue suggested it. 

Other than that, we were pretty much a Pepsi household for many years. When there was a celebration, Fourth of July or a family reunion, we were ensconced at our cabin in the mountains. Without electricity, in order to keep the amount of pop available for a crowd of kids, we would haul a case or two down to the creek out the back door and down the hill. There, all those various flavors mixed with the known brands. The Cragmont next to the Shasta next to the Seven Up and the aforementioned Pepsi. 

Then there was our short-lived love affair with the Pop Shoppe. This was essentially the Disneyland of soda, where you could wander the aisles, creating a mixed case of bottles with such exotic (to us) flavors as Cream Soda and Black Cherry. My older brother insisted on getting his selections in the most bizzare tastes as possible, while my younger brother and I were content to fill in the the rest with lemon-lime, their Seven Up equivalent, and Cola, which ot my uneducated palate was indistinguishable from Pepsi. 

Then, at the dawn of the 1970s, Coca Cola began selling their brand in resealable two liter bottles. Initially these were glass, and helped spur the nascent recycling movement. What my brothers and I understood was that while it was possible to recap the contents and save them in the refrigerator, the carbonation would diminish greatly after each pour, so it was in our best interest to have as much of that bottle as we could at one sitting, avoiding the flat brown liquid that would inevitably arrive after that initial taste. 

This was my beginning of a lifelong connection to "The Real Thing." My brothers were still swayed from the one true path, but my palate adjusted to the sugray burn of what would become my go-to. I have fond and somewhat regrettable memories of standing in my parents' front yard, chugging an entire two liters (once they switched to more managable plastic) for the amusement of my friends. And that's how it stayed until, at the end of one particular summer sometime after my prime, I began to collect kidney stones. Once I retired from dark sodas, and at the advice of my doctor, the stones stopped occuring. 

For a while, I searched in vain for a replacement. I drank my share of Sprite and Sierra Mist, but I knew that I was only filling a void. Eventually, soda pop stopped being a thing in my life. But every summer, I can still recall all those bubbles. And the way things used to be. 

Thursday, June 08, 2023

No More

 Here4TheKids, "a movement of unexplored and unprecedented action led by Black, brown, indigenous, women of color with a team of white women working behind the scenes to end gun violence in the United States," wants the governor of Colorado to sign an executive order banning guns and instituting a statewide buyback program. To make this more likely, they have invited white women along, encouraging them to use their privilege to send a message.

That message? "Us too." That message was sent via an old-fashioned sit-in on the lawn of the Colorado Capitol Building. What's different about this action is not just the invitation to the privileged, but also because Governor Jared Polis has recently signed four bills into Colorado state law limiting access to guns. An assault weapon ban in the Centennial was defeated, much to the gloating of the National Rifle Association.

Increasing the waiting period between purchase and delivery of a firearm as well as an expansion of a "red flag" law is a pretty big deal in any state, and perhaps most notably in the once rootin', tootin', six gun shootin' state of Colorado.

Not big enough for Here4TheKids. Colorado has had more than its share of mass murder thanks to guns. The Denver Metro Area, Boulder, Colorado Springs, have all experienced the tragedy/grief cycle in some of the most notorious events in the syndrome that has only accelerated since 1999 when the massacre at Columbine High School set off a plague that continues to intensify.

Someone has to be Here4TheKids. Guns are the number one killer of children in the United States. Protecting the Second Amendment of the Constitution should not take precedence over protecting the children of the United States.

Now comes the hard part. No matter how many white women, black men, brown families show up on Colorado's Capitol lawn, the cards are stacked against them. That's why there is so much talk about "common sense" gun laws. These are the workaround notions that are sometimes put in place to make it a notch or two more difficult for children to be killed. It should be much more difficult to buy a gun than to shoot a kid. Logic suggests that if you couldn't buy a gun at all, you couldn't shoot a kid.

Don't wait for someone to ask you. Use your privilege to tell anyone who will listen that we have too many guns already.

No more.

Wednesday, June 07, 2023


 Remember that story I told about the Comcast offer that turned out to be a scam? Well, if I didn't already bore you with the details, the short version goes something like this: I picked up a call that identified as "Scam Likely," but since I tend to tease these moments out into something beyond just annoyance I decided to play along. The offer being made by the gentleman on the other end of the line was to cut my cable bill in half. Or close to it. And as much as I wanted to bring the experience to an abrupt end, I felt drawn in by the bait. The pitch this guy gave about giving back to their loyal customers was appealing enough that I kept playing along. It was all going along so professional and friendly like until the suggestion was made that I pay for three months in advance. In the form of Target gift cards. From my perch in front of my computer, I was quickly able to Google this specific scheme, and then the fun was over. 

The worst part about this was that recently when I was having trouble with my Xfinity/Comcast/NBC/Universal services, and I found myself once again dealing with the spiderweb of automated systems that are in place specifically to keep customers from speaking to human beings, I wanted that guy back. At least, I wanted to talk to the guy who was understanding about how the price of getting cable TV and Internet and landline service. Shouldn't those who pay their bills on time, and have been doing so for thirty years or more be given some sort of volume discount? Or at the very least have easy access to real people who are interested in helping solve problems with the aforementioned services? 

Because that has all but disappeared. Recently I went to a burger joint for some fast food and found that I could almost completely avoid human contact by ordering at a kiosk, paying there, and waiting for my cell phone to buzz when my order was ready to pick up at the counter. Grocery store runs are also streamlined by the self-service checkout. Get all those barcodes lined up right and don't accidentally remove something from the bagging area and you can be in and out without ever making eye contact. 

Which is great, except when there is a glitch. In my latest Comcast imbroglio, there were several glitches. And once they started, they just kept compounding because there wasn't anyone on the receiving end to slow down the chaos to try and straighten things out. When I finally reached the nominal end of the tech issues, I wanted to be able to relate my experience to someone in customer service. This required another twenty minutes of starts and stops with the phone maze, and I was finally able to get a real person from "Customer Care" on the line. As I began to relate, for that seemed like the twentieth time, my situation, the connection began to falter. 

It was only after waiting for a call back and then reengaging with their system that I was at last told that the "Customer Care" department was shut down due to technical difficulties. Which made me wonder: Who do they call for support? 

Tuesday, June 06, 2023

How Many Years Young?

 Film composer and former lead singer for Oingo Boingo Danny Elfman just turned seventy. I was going to say "seventy years old," but I stopped myself. First of all, I continue to refer to this person whom I have never met by the somewhat diminutive "Danny" rather than "Dan" or "Daniel." My father waited until I was eighteen before he started referring to me as "Davy." That didn't sit well with me as I was beginning to forge my way in the adult world, but he was my father. My senior. My progenitor. It could be argued that he had earned it. 

But why would I continue to refer to someone who is nine years older than me in this same fashion? Probably because there has never been any effort to affect any change in his overall persona. All those scary, manic noises he sang and composed for all those years, it feels like the work of a Danny. And his last name is "Elfman." How grown up could you expect a guy with that surname will ever be? 

Back to that "seventy years old" thing: Now that I can imagine what seventy might look and feel like, I confess that I am looking for ways to ameliorate that rush of time. Lately, Danny has not been content to simply play out his string, conducting the occasional orchestra playing his film scores, or singing along with guests at the odd staging of A Nightmare Before Christmas. A year ago, Mister Elfman not only performed at Coachella, he did a great deal of that rock and roll set without a shirt. And he had GQ magazine asking about how he managed his "look." 

Then I think about this habit that I have, when I am out on a run, and I run past the occasional duffer who I suspect may be older than me. But by how much? And those who rush on past me, are they just flaunting their relative youth, or do I console myself with the notion that this isn't a race, and we'll all get where we need to go eventually? I am certainly not ready for Gentleman's Quarterly to come and interview me about my workout habits. Not that this is in any way a thing I would encourage. 

Meanwhile, Joe Biden and Bruce Springsteen fell down One is the leader of the free world. The other is a politician. Both of them are older than Danny Elfman. Media outlets felt compelled to use these as a mark of the ravages of time. Just a few days ago, my twenty-six year old son got smacked in the head by an errant door at Safeway. Nobody suggested that he was unfit for office. We all just figured that Safeway had mislabeled their doors. 

No word about how Danny Elfman has been handling his trips to the grocery store. 

Monday, June 05, 2023

How The Sausage Gets Made

President Joe Biden and House Speaker Kevin McCarthy met in the Oval Office on May 22, 2023 to discuss the debt ceiling. Here is a recording made at that meeting. 

McCarthy: Are you kidding? Pass that stupid debt ceiling bill? That's dumb!

Biden: That's 'cause you know it'll stick!

McCarthy: You're full of it!

Biden: Oh yeah?

McCarthy: Yeah!

Biden: Well I double-DOG-dare ya!

MSNBC: NOW it was serious. A double-dog-dare. What else was there but a "triple dare you"? And then, the coup de grace of all dares, the sinister triple-dog-dare.

Biden: I TRIPLE-dog-dare ya!

MSNBC: Biden created a slight breach of etiquette by skipping the triple dare and going right for the throat!

Sounds of egos clashing can be heard, then the soft whimpering of a House Speaker who had just walked into a trap. 

MSNBC: McCarthy's spine stiffened. His lips curled in a defiant sneer. There was no going back now.

 Schwartz: This is nuts. 

Biden: HAHAHA 

McCarthy: (scribbles can be heard) Stuck. Stuck! STUCK!! 

Biden: Geez, it really worked.

MSNBC: So, if you see Speaker McCarthy with his tongue stuck to a flagpole, you'll know why. 

Sunday, June 04, 2023

Grounded In Play

 I picked up my phone on the morning of June first and saw that there was a text from one of my fellow teachers. I'm used to getting texts from my colleagues. What I am not used to is getting a text from one of my fellow teachers a week after we have finished the school year about

Wait for it

The resurfacing of our school's playground. 

You read that right. The text my friend sent me was of a front loader scooping up a great mass of broken asphalt. The bane of my professional existence for the past twenty-six years was being carted away. In great big truckfuls. 

This was a big enough deal to me that I laced up my shoes and ran out of the house, all the way to school where I could witness this magic all for myself. For a great many years it has been my good fortune to teach PE on the desolate moonscape that has passed for a playground. Every year or so, the district would send out a crew to make vague attempts at patching the craters and cracks that proliferated across this expanse. Each year it just got worse. And worse. Each year, whenever the opportunity would present itself, I would make loud noises to anyone who would listen about the state of my school's yard. Each year, those pleas would be met with another round of patching. Each PE class included several requests for the students in my charge to please not throw the broken bits of asphalt and rocks at one another. Over the past year, these pleas were expanded to include bits of the melted rubber that had been used the summer before as patching material. 

On the morning of June 1, 2023, all of that mess was broken into tiny bits, or at least more manageable bits and removed, leaving a barren stretch of earth that would soon be turned back into a play surface for children in grades K through Five. All of those hopes and dreams were suddenly made real for me and the kids who attend, or will attend, my school. Our school. The place with the new playground. The playground I thought might never happen. The playground about which I had recently been centering my plans for retirement. 

But I confess there was a tiny black cloud on the magnificent horizon. Upon first witnessing the initial photo, I felt the urge to call my mother with the news. A moment later, I uttered a curse. Loud enough for my wife to ask what was wrong. My mother didn't live long enough for me to tell her. 

I am assured, by those in the know, that she is aware. She may have had something to do with it. 

Saturday, June 03, 2023


I guess I'm a little perplexed. I thought that the Far Right folks were against what they were labeling Cancel Culture. Now it seems that you can't go anywhere without stepping in the middle of some boycott or another. 

As of this writing, Kohls, Chick-Fil-A, and Target are now on the Do Not Fly List for uptight MAGAts. Initially, they seemed happy buying cases of Bud Light and shooting at them, but now they seem to be dedicating themselves to bringing down department stores and, in what seems like a bit of a twist, God's favorite chicken restaurant. 

This Chick-Fil-A hoopla started after someone with access to Al Gore's Internet made a point of sharing Chick-Fil-A's most recent hire:  a Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, and to make matters even worse, they are now celebrating LGBTQ Pride Month.

That sound you just heard was the audible gasp from the tiny brained fear rodents who have apparently developed a fear of rainbows.

And what exactly are they so terrified about? Acknowledging a percentage of the human race doesn't live like they do might upset the very twisted balance upon which they have built their lives. It makes it extremely difficult for them to move about the country in their accustomed privileged bubble, knocking over people and things that somehow don't fit into their narrow vision of "how things should be."
Well, here's the wakeup for all of them: Things never were like the way they think things should be. People didn't just start being gay in 2016. America was founded on ideals like diversity and equity. Out of many, one. Or if you're more comfortable with the Latin, E Pluribus Unum. Not a uniquely American idea, but one that those who started this Constitutional Democracy of a Republic thought it important enough to stick on a lot of our money.

The money that you can feel to spend at Kohls, or Target, or even Chick-Fil-A. But to tell you the truth, since I am familiar with it, I kind of like that all those conservative types are being made to feel uncomfortable. There a lot of Americans who have spent their lives feeling like that every day. Feeling excluded? Gee. That's too bad.

Friday, June 02, 2023

Endless Loop

 My older brother kicked the door open for me when it came to making mix tapes. He put Bohemian Rhapsody right before Maynard Ferguson screeching Pagliacci. What followed after that was a mix of music, some of which I was familiar with some of it not, that would become the soundtrack for an entire summer. A few years later, he constructed another epic mix that served as my high school pep band's singalong tape: Ballad of the Green Berets, The Fish Cheer, Redneck Mother, and many many more. We wore that bad boy out. 

And in those acts of brotherly love, a seed was planted. When I got my first cassette deck, plugged it into my component system, I didn't use it to listen to pre-recorded tapes. I went out and bought a case of the preferred stock of Maxell UD-XLII ninety minute cassettes to start my own cottage industry. My car stereo would blast out collections of my favorite tunes, without commercials. The hits just kept comin'. 

When I started courting my high school girlfriend, she became the target of these operas I was too lazy to write. At the moment that the new music in my vinyl library became sufficient, I sat down in front of the stereo and pieced together another hour and a half of what was happening in my head. They became documents of the songs of that time, and the silly bits that I could squeeze into ninety minutes. 

Years passed, and eventually the romance dissipated. But the music kept coming. When she moved away I would still pack up a padded envelope now and again to keep the rock rolling. Somewhere in there cassettes gave way to CDs. And my attention turned to making tapes for the purpose of courting the girl who would become my wife. 

Time was kind to us all. We remained friends, and even though cassette tapes stopped being the currency of our relationships, those tapes hung around. Without any means for playback, there was still this mass of plastic full and overflowing with the sounds of adolescence. My wife had occasion to drop by my former girlfriend's home and she loaded up the empty spaces of her carryon with some of those nuggets from the past. She brought them home and here they sit, on my desk. 

I spent what I thought was a pittance for a machine that could turn those cassettes into music that my computer could play. So I could hear them one more time. On repeat. 

Thursday, June 01, 2023

A Writer Wrote This

 The workers control the means of production. That sentiment goes pretty far into the quick and easy reasoning for me to back the Writers Guild in their current strike. To say that I am a "union man" would be a bit of a stretch, but since I pay my dues and I have participated in a number of work actions, I suppose I am guilty by association. But setting my traditional union ambivalence aside, I don't know how anyone outside of the corporate offices of the major studios could see things any other way. A handful of people are getting scandalously wealthy on the backs of a group of creative folks who are far too often not seen or heard even when the words they string together are. 

So why aren't they getting the same sort of big money that the far less creative executroids who "make deals" and "take meetings" get? Something about corner offices and capitalism. Once upon a very long time ago, there was a company formed by Charlie Chaplin, DW Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks. They called it United Artists, created in 1919 to keep artists in control of their own interests rather than be dependent on commercial studios. Quite the ideal. Their studio has been bought and sold a number of times over the past century, with each iteration moving just a little farther from that ideal. The height of the irony surrounding these deals may be found in the absorption of UA by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, whose motto translated from the Latin is "art for art's sake." MGM has, to its credit, helped fund a lot of art, but art was not the underlying motivation. 

Money. That's what they want. So they lure artists to their bungalows and have them crank out art that they can proceed to turn into more money. 

Lots more money. That's what they want. The so-called Independent Film craze that broke out in the seventies here in the United States was quickly sopped up by studios who could offer big paychecks for those same gritty off-the-wall creations that were apocryphally paid for with credit cards. And then the studio would own them, free to release these works of art based on their business plans. If a director or a screenwriter got rich, it was never as rich as the ones holding the purse strings. 

When VHS turned into DVD and suddenly you could have the movie-going experience in your own living room, the artists who made those evenings possible had to go on strike to get the tiniest slice of the pie their overlords were enjoying. Now they don't even have to pay for the physical media. They just push a button and suddenly someone's vision can come streaming onto your big screen or your telephone at rates designed to keep you attached to that device and the studios who act as the dealer. 

Strike! Don't write another word until you get paid properly for your efforts. 

So, I guess upon reflection I'm a union guy after all.