14 July 2019

On Not Writing Here, On Not Protesting and On a Few Other Topics As Well

Anti-War Protest in the Sixties, Before the Internet
I'm writing out of a sense of obligation. I've had this blog for over 11 years and for most of that time I've posted once even twice or three times a week. Last year my number of postings fell of significantly and through the first half of this year I've barely posted at all. I don't flatter myself that there are people all over the world who are waiting anxiously to hear from me but in having a blog I feel duty bound to post now and again. Actually, as I write these words I'm not sure why I've been feeling so damn guilty about the recent paucity of postings. But I do. I did start a post a few days ago, it was one of those in which I rant and rave, perhaps later in this writing I'll get back to that abandoned post. Suffice to say when I stopped at one point to take a look at what I'd written I was not pleased.

It may be surprising that while I've hardly updated ye olde blog these past few months I've been waiting more than ever. However it has almost exclusively been directed to completing a novel. I "finished" it about a month or so ago but have since been adding, subtracting, pruning and fussing over the damn thing. Before I start peddling it I want the book to be the best I can possibly make it.

I love writing. I like stringing words together into a cohesive sentence and sentences into a cohesive paragraph and paragraphs into a cohesive story or essay or review or critique or commentary or anything else that another person might read and enjoy or be edified by.

The blog post I started and never finished recently, was an angry screed about how my friends on the left express their outrage at the political nonsense in the US these days and how they don't express it. They do express it with angry tweets, clever GIFs and memes, outraged letters, petitions signed comments posted. They do not express it by hitting the streets and demonstrating. It boggles the mind that the US is separating families at the border, keeping children in cages and denying asylum seekers basic human rights and we haven't had massive demonstrations in Washington DC and every other major city in the country. In the Sixties there was no Twitter nor for that matter any internet so people protested by getting off their asses and marching. It began with the Civil Rights Movement and continued with protests against the draft and the war in Vietnam. There have been any number of outrages perpetrated by the current administration in DC and only a few have spurred demonstrations. They should be going on damn near everyday. Realistically maybe every week or two. The internet has made everyone lazy. So that's what I wrote about but it came off like I was a hectoring old fool and not a sober reasoned individual so I dropped it. Come to think of it this paragraph reads a little like the frothing of an aging radical. Aww the hell with it. Point made.

Other topics....

I saw this quote on Instagram: "There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." To me it summed up the difference between being depressed and happy. (I spend a lot of times yo-yoing between both worlds.) Nothing impresses you when you're depressed. Nothing seems beautiful, unique or interesting. When you're feeling good, of course, it's the opposite, you are aware of and delighted by the wonders of the world

I heard someone the other day going on about how indifferent they were to soccer how they didn't really like it, found it boring and found some of the tactics confusing. The person went on to say how he would watch it whenever the US men's team was playing an important match. This little story perfectly illustrates why I so vociferously root against the US in men's soccer (that's football, to the rest of the world). While other countries love the sport and follow it year round you have millions of Americans whose only interest in the game is to see the damned United States beating some other country. Disgusting. Let soccer glory go to the people who appreciate the sport.

The Internet Movie Database is an invaluable source of information on virtually any and every film and TV show ever made. It is a must have site for film fans regardless of what type of movie you like. However it tries desperately to cater to young people whose idea of movie-going is taking in the latest blockbuster at the nearest multiplex. For example every day on their front page they list five people from the world of cinema who were born on that day. Today was typical in that they had someone named Phoebe Waller-Bridge and someone else named Scott Porter but omitted one of the greatest and most influential directors of all time (and my favorite) Ingmar Bergman. For some reason I look at the daily birthdays every day and every day like today there are one of two or even three people who I've never heard and will later -- perhaps on twitter -- see that is the birthday of some iconic film star or director who IMDb did not deem worthy of mentioning. For "Top News" IMDb typically has five or six items and invariably there's news about garbage like Spider-Man, X-Men, or the latest proposed sequels, remakes, a reboots, prequels in addition to news about what's been killing it at the box office. It's like they hardly consider film an art form at all.

I have some ideas for future blog posts -- many have been kicking around in the cavernous regions around my brain  for a long time -- that may at last be coming to this blog. First, of course, I've gotten to get that novel done and dusted then prepared for submission, query letter, synopsis and all. No estimate on when that will be but it could be in weeks (whether that's two weeks or sixty two weeks remains to be seen). Thanks for reading (assuming you did).

29 June 2019

The Author Here Discusses JD Salinger, a New Sherlock Show, Dinner Attire and More

A few nights ago I had a dream in which I was in Moe's Bookstore in Berkeley (one of the great bookstores in the world) browsing when I came across JD Salinger sitting in a sofa on the bottom floor. The bottom floor is where Moe's has new fiction, mysteries, children's books, sale books, new non fiction and music and film books. Actually there's probably other types of books on the bottom floor but I can't be expected to remember everything. Anyway I sat down next to JD Salinger who was by himself seemingly just gathering wool. He was quite happy to talk to me about his novel, Catcher in the Rye, which you may have heard of if you're over ten years old. I don't recall any details of the conversation except that Salinger said he didn't like the end of the book and always wished he could go back and change it. This surprised the hell out of me, even though in the dream I couldn't remember how Catcher in the Rye ended. Before he could go into any detail or I could ask him any questions, someone interrupted us. That's all I remember about the dream.

The next day I decided it was time again to read Catcher in the Rye which, if I made a top ten -- or any other number, for that matter -- list of my favorite all time novels would be right toward the top. Maybe I could have saved time by saying it's one of my five favorite novels. Next time. However I couldn't find my tattered old copy -- I've read the book about seven or eight times -- perhaps because it got too old and tattered when I last read it. So I went ahead and bought a copy at a local independent bookstore (I like to brag about patronizing local independent bookstores like Moe's although in this case I shopped at Pegasus on Shattuck here in Berkeley). Since then I've started to read it and it's better this time than any of the however many other occasions I've read it. Great books like great films are like that. My favorite line in the book is: "Sensitive. That killed me. That guy Morrow was about as sensitive as a goddamn toilet set." God that's great writing.

This is the first line of a new topic. This is the second line, it will be followed by the new topic itself. I think there should be yet another iteration of the Sherlock Holmes story, this one in which Holmes and Watson are in grammar school. Little Holmes' catchphrase would be: "it's elementary school, dear Watson." Thoughts? You like it or love it? Be brutal. This topic is no longer new and is in fact ending.

Much to the resounding joy of people everywhere, I've hardly been writing on this blog at all recently. I've explained before that my writing time is occupied these days by work on a novel. I'm within days of finishing the proofreading of it and will the commence trying to foist it off on some publisher. I welcome your wishes of good luck.

The missus and I celebrated our wedding anniversary last night by dining out (I know, how original). I realize that gentlemen no longer dress up for dinner (when I was a child men wore ties) and that more casual attire than that of previous generations is accepted. But. But there was a young couple sitting at the table next to us, the woman was wearing jeans which given that they were clean and new is perfectly fine in this day and age, but her date was -- I'm not making this up -- wearing sweat pants. No, seriously. Fucking sweat pants to a restaurant. What's the next step? Are men going to show up in their underwear? It seems no line has been drawn. I wish I knew who to ask to draw one. Any line-drawers out there? We could really use you on this one.

Why do conservatives try to make people believe that Democrats are fiscally irresponsible when it is the right that has given enormous tax breaks to the wealthy that will bankrupt our nation? And how do these bastards have the nerve to say we can't afford this that or the other while we're giving enormous tax breaks to the wealthy? Just who do conservatives care about besides the wealthy, corporations and gun owners? They are one heartless group of people and the fact that evangelicals support them tells you everything you need to know about the religious right or as I call them, the biggest fucking hypocrites on the planet.

Speaking of planets, my favorite is Earth. Ya know why? Well for one thing, unlike all the others we know of, its habitable. Also it's the only one I've been to -- so far. I'm still hoping to check out Neptune sometime or maybe Saturn and no, I'm not about to make a joke about Uranus.

I'll keep in touch.

09 June 2019

I Had a Typical Saturday

Ms. Charlize Theron with whom I had a tryst.
I thought it might be interesting for you dear reader, if I shared a typical Saturday in my life. If that is in fact the case, read on.

I started my day by going to an early morning seance. (I kind of like getting them out of the way early.) We contacted the spirit of Harpo Marx who, as you are no doubt aware, is a chatty fella. Harpo shared his perspectives on such matters as calendar reform, animal rights, the next NLF season and the poetry of Jim Morrison. We all had a grand time and Minne Sterncastle brought some of her homemade scones for our snack break which, along with the usual fare of bear claws, donut holes and raw cabbage, made for a most enjoyable interval. Next we communicated with the spirit of Lance Peters, a recently deceased ex-Marine and decorative magnet salesman. Lance wanted to let us all know that he was doing well and very much enjoying the after life. After he signed off we all wondered who the devil he was.

From there I joined a few other family members with whom I performed an autopsy on our Uncle Earl. Imagine our surprise when, half way through the proceedings, we realized Earl was not actually dead. Were our faces red! Turned out that he'd just been asleep. In retrospect the fact that he'd been breathing should have been a clue. Earl was quite understanding about the whole thing, especially when we gave him a bottle of plum wine. Of course first we had to stitch him up as best we could, sadly none of us are particularly good at replacing organs once they've been removed. But we managed. Bygones were bygones especially as Uncle Earl made short work of the wine. We said our goodbyes and off I went on the next errand of the day.

My next chore was to help my friend Frederich Gustav Abdul-Aziz pick out a floral pattern for his new abattoir. Joining us were some recently escaped federal prisonerss who happened to be in the neighborhood. Minnie Sterncastle popped by with more of her homemade scones so we all indulged. The escapees were especially hungry so Frederich made some bouillabaisse for the lads. But only after the work was done.

I made my excuses and headed for the Ritz where I had a rendezvous with Academy Award winning actress Charlize Theron. The details of our three hours together in her suite shall not here be revealed in deference to our privacy, but suffice to say a good time was had by all, that is the both of us. And how.

Finding myself a bit peckish after the vigorous activity in which Ms. Theron and I had just engaged in, I headed home for a late and large lunch. My personal chef, Knuckles, was kind enough to prepare a five course meal consisting entirely of locally grown produce and fish caught in my pond. I'm quite proud of my pond and am next thinking of constructing a river to connect to it. I'm leaning toward one with rapids. Dessert was a highlight as Knuckles served two scoops of vanilla ice cream swimming in melted caramel sauce with a dash of donut sprinkles. As I told Knuckles at the time, "yummy for tummy." High praise, indeed, replied my erstwhile chef.

After a ten minute power nap I met my friend Barnard JX Pettibone at the local gladiatorial arena where we watched a series of brutes ravage one another. I made a small fortune wagering on the outcomes. I will here reveal my secret: I always placed my money on the armed gladiator. I've recently come to understand that some people find gladiatorial battles to be cruel especially inasmuch as one of the participants is always put to death. For the life of my I don't know what people are on about. Seems a quaint enough activity to me. But no matter. Barnard and I had a ripping good time.  We repaired to a favorite watering hole to consume copious amounts of Thunderbird Wine. There we met some old friends from our days at the The Academy of Irrelevant and Useless Studies. Needless to say we all began reminiscing. A few old wounds were opened up and a some of our group settled old grudges by garroting others. All in good fun.

By now it was evening so I took a rickshaw home to prepare for the coming revelries. My valet Nixon had laid out my tuxedo earlier that day so after a sauna, shower, shave and colonoscopy I was ready to paint the town any number of colors. My first stop was a favorite restaurants, The Salmonella Greasy Spoon by name, where I was joined by on and off girlfriend, Murgatroyd. We had a sumptuous meal of stir fried blue whale and bottle after bottle of Ripple. Before leaving we slipped into a broom closet to sate our lust. The brooms helped.

The rest of the evening is a blur. I do recall a waltz, snorting heroin, working on a jigsaw puzzle, skinny dipping in a dried up creek bed and a balloon ride. It was sometime after 4:30AM when I returned to my humble abode with four strippers, three dance girls, two scullery maids and Murgatroyd in tow. We slept comfortably in my ultra super deluxe king bed although sleeping wasn't the only activity taking place in the boudoir. (Hint, hint.)

As I write this it is shortly after noon and all my overnight guests have departed save one of the scullery maids who I find quite fetching. She is currently sitting beside me reading Proust.

Anyway that was my yesterday, which as you can see, extended into my today. I know it was all rather dull stuff but it gives you a snapshot of my mostly ordinary life. Perhaps I'll next share a weekend in which something unusual happens.

03 June 2019

A Poet's Birthday, Time Travel, Killing Hitler, The Gym Again, Working Again, Commencement, Also Etc.

Allen Ginsberg born on this day in 1926.
It is the 93rd anniversary of the birth of my favorite poet, the gentleman pictured above, Allen Ginsberg. He has been one of the great influences of my life not only for his poetry but for the admirable life he lived.

People often say that if they had a time machine they'd go back and kill baby Hitler. How awful! Killing a baby?! Me, I'd go back and kill teenaged Hitler. He must have been a particularly obnoxious teen and offing him would probably seem a relative pleasure compared to killing an infant.

Speaking of time machines...(dot, dot, dot) besides killing Hitler people often speculate about other deeds they might do when time traveling, many of which would change the present. Hogwash. You cannot change the past because it has already happened and we have a record of it. If you could go and change something in the past it would be changed now too. I thus can only conclude that if time travel ever becomes possible voyagers would only be able to view events and not interact. Perhaps we will -- I'm talking hundreds of years in the future, most likely -- be able to witness past events. Imagine solving all those ancient mysteries, murders and conspiracies. The truth revealed at last. How cool would that be? (I'm going to go with pretty cool.)

Check out these lyrics from the Mamas and the Papas song, Monday Monday:

Every other day, every other day
Every other day of the week is fine, yeah
But whenever Monday comes, but whenever Monday comes
A-you can find me cryin´ all of the time

Is that the most EMO shit you've ever seen? I mean, dude, crying because it's Monday? Get over it. I can see being a little bummed at the return of another school or work week, but if you're crying one out of every seven days, you need help. Plus, this sucker is a singer. It's not like he's a working stiff for whom Monday means the start of another arduous work week. You're a singer, you can sleep in on Monday. Hell, you're pretty successful, you can take the damn day off. Crying about it? Gimme a break.

I've complained ad nauseam about people who can't  tear themselves away from their cell phones even while working out at the gym so it shouldn't surprise anyone that I'm on that topic again. Recently I saw a woman working out who wasn't looking at her phone between sets (as many do) but stopping to look at it and text between reps! (I believe that was worthy of an exclamation point.) My god, can you imagine the mindset? The level of addiction? I saw someone yesterday on the elliptical machine stop and get off and look at a video for a couple of minutes before resuming his workout. Madness.

Another gym behavior I've noticed is a male thing. I often seen men get on gym mats (communal spaces, mind you) and spread out horizontally taking up space that two other people could occupy instead of being considerate human beings and taking up a vertical space. Last week, for the first time I saw a woman spread out horizontally. It was the first time I'd seen a female do so. No gender is perfect, I suppose. Some people are so self possessed they think of no one else, like those jackasses who blast music out of their cars so loudly you can hear it in the confines of your own home.

I started working again today after 93 days of retirement. I hasten to add that I am now teaching but one class a day -- in the mornings -- and whereas I used to have a commute totaling one hour and twenty minutes one way, I now have a 15 minute walk to my place of work. I don't know how long I'll keep the job, two months minimum and after that we'll see. As it is it's paying for a trip to New York in October for me and the missus.

I saw that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was commencement speaker at Harvard recently. Good get. When I graduated from Chico State (aka the Harvard of the west) we had a German sausage maker speak. I'm totally kidding, I've never gone to any of my college graduations, truth to tell it never crossed my mind to. I have attended my daughters' and as they are both starting graduate school in the Fall it looks like I have a couple more enjoy.

I see in the news that there was another mass shooting and once again the NRA has forgotten to apologize or put forward a restitution plan. My but they've got a lot of blood on their hands as do Republican members of Congress. The latter group is, by the way, saving their resources to have spine implants. It won't be a moment too soon. A bigger group of cowards is hard to imagine.

Well I've damn near finished with another novel and wish me luck because within a month's time I'll be trying to interest someone in it. I'll say this for me, I don't give up.

21 May 2019

"Leave the Rooster Story Alone, That's Human Interest" - Cary Grant in His Girl Friday

Photo taken by yours truly.
Sunday we were in the Castro District of San Francisco as one of my daughter's graduations was held at the historic and beautiful Castro Theater. I hadn't been in those parts in many moons. I was impressed by how clean it is (you may, if you've a mind to, insert your own joke about fastidious gay people here and yes, I said insert so there is yet another opportunity for you to construct a clever wisecrack). There were many nice shops including a bookstore. Youngest daughter is like me in that she cannot resist a bookstore and so there was no question about entering. It should come as no surprise that I found a book to purchase. I'm like that. Currently I have about two dozen books I've yet to get around to reading with many more that I'd like to purchase. I make no apologies for this particular addiction. It compares quite favorably with my previous addictions that involved drugs and alcohol. I have yet to get a hangover from reading, nor forget the previous night due to excess reading, nor have I damaged either my mental or physical health through reading nor have I insulted people nor made a fool of myself through excessive reading. I have spent more money on books that I'd planned but not to the extent I spent more money than I'd planned on scotch or cocaine.

Later I happened to stroll by the former offices of Harvey Milk and happened to do so when the Gay Men's Chorus was singing Happy Birthday to the late great Mr. Milk, though it was actually a few day's before the anniversary of his birth. They also sang I Left My Heart in San Francisco and another song, the title of which I don't recall, that was first performed during the Candlelight Vigil after Mr. Milk's assassination. There was also what I guess what one would call a gay marching band that performed. It was all quite lovely.

So yes, I saw many gay people striding about (and standing, for that matter) as one does in the Castro. I walked by a group of about six gay men standing around chatting and I noted that the vibe was much different that it would be had I walked by six straight men in conversation. There was a different energy entirely, more relaxed and friendly.

There was also, once the sun made an appearance, a gentleman who was standing on his street without a stitch on. One part of his body seemed to indicate that he was half excited. When I taught in San Francisco my students (who were from all over the world) would, of course, take trips to the Castro and most of them really liked it although they were confused by the naked men. "Why?" I was often asked. I could only shrug.

Another observation I had was that there were a lot of couples, some young, some old and many in between and like straight couples in love they seemed quite happy. It therefore continues to confound and anger me that there are those regressive forces in the United States (and other parts of the planet) who actually hate the fact that two people of the same gender can love one another romantically and express that love physically. The repugnant TV preacher Pat Robertson recently suggested that god was going to "vomit" up the US because of laws guaranteeing equal rights to the LGBT community. One must suppose that Robertson's god looks favorably on countries like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Brunei, Indonesia, Myanmar, Somalia and Uzbekistan where homosexuality is not only forbidden but punished. And think of all the other countries besides the US that this god must hold in disdain for permitting gays equal rights such as the the UK, Argentina, France, Mexico, Belgium, Brazil, Taiwan, Finland, South Africa, Italy, the Netherlands, Uruguay, Spain, Sweden etc.

You would think that god would really reserve his (it has to be a male god if its so uptight about gay sex) ire for countries that made war on others but evidently two people of the same gender fucking is worse in the eyes of Pat Robertson' god then blowing apart human bodies with bombs. Evangelicals are some pretty messed up people.

As I indicated earlier the ceremony was held in Castro Theater which has been a going concern since 1922 (yes, that makes it older than me, smarty pants). If you live in these parts or visit here I'd recommend catching a flicker in the theater. It's gorgeous.

After the ceremony we went to a restaurant where I indulged in a whole lot of eating including a very rich dessert. That night my tummy stated it's objections to my over indulgence and refused to let me have a good night's sleep. This was one of the few signs of aging that I've yet to experience. The next day I still managed to work on one of my novels and enjoy a visit with two grandnieces one of whom is but a month old. Holding a tiny baby for more than a few minutes (I got nearly an hour's worth) is one of the most pleasurable experiences I can imagine. Talk about cures for anxiety and depression.

Today there was more writing, a long walk, reading and two movies to be watched the second of which was His Girl Friday which is among my ten favorite films of all time. I've watched it many times and I could watch it again tomorrow and the next day and be happy doing so. I heard a line from the film I'd not noticed before and it forms the title of this blog post.

I've very much enjoyed writing this and am sorry to anyone who cares (Betsy McGillicuddy of Trenton, NJ) that I've not written more often of late. I'll try to do better. In fact I'll try to do better in other things. We all should.

08 May 2019

The Author Again Assails Cell Phone Use But Extolls Museums, Exercise and Books

A photo the author took at the de Young yesterday that was painted by Gauguin

I wonder if before there were cell phones some people wouldn’t go to the gym because they might miss a phone call. I also wonder if these same people wouldn’t go to the gym because while there they couldn’t make a phone call. I further wonder why the actual fuck people feel compelled to answer and make phone calls at the gym. I continue to be amazed at how so much of some people’s workouts are punctuated and interrupted by talking into or looking at their goddamned cell phones. I wonder how much better my work outs are than people who bring and use their phones to the gym. You see, I actually go to the gym to workout. Old fashioned, I know, but that’s me.

I don’t only complain about people. The missus and I went to the de Young Museum yesterday. I love museums. They make me happy and relaxed and I feel smarter and more cultured just being in one. I learn and am inspired and become more creative. I appreciate the people who curate museums, the people who work at museums and the people whose contributions make museums possible. I also appreciate my fellow museum-goers.

Speaking of people who work at museums…How about those folks who have to stand around all day, mostly just making sure that nobody gets too close to the exhibits. Occasionally they get asked a question, usually about directions to other exhibits. You talk about thankless jobs. Standing for hours on end usually without a damn thing to do. They’re like well-dressed security guards. Bless them.

Whenever we go to a museum I always make a beeline for the gift shop. Museum gift shops are ridiculously over-priced and rarely have anything I’ve the slightest interest in. One exception is bookmarks. Most museums sell or give away bookmarks and some are very nice. Those I’ll buy. I bought a tee shirt at MOMA in New York but that was an exception. They had a really cool tee shirt at the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC but none in my size. Yesterday at the de Young there was nothing of interest in the gift shop. They had free bookmarks which were a value at the price. The thing is there were two more gift shops in the museum and excitedly went into both of them. Why? Beats me.

I’ve written a lot about running on this blog but I haven’t written anything about not running. I should explain. I’d been having pain in my knee whilst running for a few months. I went to the doctor and was sent for an X-ray then I saw an orthopedist. This was in March. I was told that the ligaments in my left knee were wearing away and if I continued to run I’d eventually need knee replacement surgery. So I’m not running anymore. Ever again. I always thought that I would be devastated if told I couldn’t run but when I actually got the news I shrugged and got on with my life. I’m like that. The good news is I can do everything else. I started lifting weights and still get in 40 minutes of cardio on the elliptical. I can also use the stair master and the stationary bike. (A stationery bike is one that you can write and send letters on.) I feel fantastic since I started using weights. And I don’t miss running. I also don’t miss teaching anymore. I just move on, whatever happen. (Full disclosure: I may return to teaching on a part-time basis to pick up a little extra cash.)

In casual conversation recently someone said to me that nobody reads books anymore. “I do.” I responded. It seems so do a helluva lot of other people (albeit not to the extent that they used to). Two Saturdays ago was Independent Bookstore Day. I noted that two local bookshops had big doings going on and both were packed with book buyers, enticed by special deals and their on-going support of indy book stores. Last Saturday the Bay Area Book Festival was held in Berkeley and their were hordes of people in town to see the various speakers — all with books to promote — discussing their books and related topics. There were also people buying books from the many sellers who set up shop. It’s a big annual event that shows that reading books has not quite yet faded into history. This coming Saturday the public library is going to have its annual book sale and judging by the past few years, the joint will be picked. Nobody reads books indeed.

01 May 2019

Oh My God, The Author Takes on Christianity

I recently saw a tweet by a former Cal women's basketball player: "I'm 32 years old today, God is good." So because she reached 32 years of age this young woman deems god to be "good." Interesting. One of former students died at 16 from leukemia and another at 22 from colon cancer. God not so good? When something positive happens in a Christian's life, they will often claim that their "prayers were answered." Many people who never pray have good fortune bestowed upon them. Many people who pray for something don't get it. They say it was not "god's will." If everything is god's will anyway, why bother praying? If two christians are in a car accident and both end up in the hospital with life-threatening injuries, you can rest assured that their families will pray for them. One dies the other recovers. So did one family not pray enough? Or without enough faith? God's will. When my best friend died at age 42, his mother, a devout Christian, said, "god has other plans for him." Really? More important than raising his young children? A few months later his widow was struck by a drunk driver. She was hospitalized for months and suffered brain damage sufficient that she was no longer able to take care of her children. Was this another case of god having other plans for someone? If so incapacitating a single mother of three is a strange plan. When my former student died of colon cancer a former colleague (a Christian) who knew the young man said that he would pray that god comforted his family. If god had given a rat's ass about the kid's family he wouldn't have given their child cancer in the first place.

I saw a tweet from a high school senior who signed a letter of intent to accept a scholarship and play football at Cal. In his tweet the young man said that "all glory goes to god." I've heard this one from athletes before. What kind of insecure self absorbed god needs us mere mortals to "give him all the glory" for all of our piddling little accomplishments? How about just being happy for what you have and thanking those PEOPLE who helped you achieve it? But of course god expects people to show up at church every Sunday and worship him. Again, what an ego. You're also not supposed to take his name in vain. That might hurt the almighty's feelings and we know how sensitive he is.

Of course there is no greater example of hypocrisy in the world today than the evangelical's embrace of our current president. They are -- along with white nationalists -- the biggest part of the idiot-in-chief's base. Never mind his immorality, his infidelities, his lies, his insults, his crudeness, these supposed Christians believe that god has chosen this scoundrel to be our president. On top of everything else we see that right wing evangelicals have no regard for the poor and that they care nothing about the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. They care more for money, guns and the persecution of gays than they do about social justice. Their twisted image of Jesus is as a white, Republican, businessman who loves the Second Amendment. They would never recognize the man who said this:

Blessed are the meek,
    for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
    for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
    for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
    for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
    for they will be called children of God.

There is disagreement among historians about the historical figure of Jesus, including whether he even existed. Be that is it may there is no question but that a lot of the New Testament stories about Jesus tell of a person of great compassion who cared most for the poor and otherwise disadvantaged and showed disdain for the rich and privileged. Yet evangelicals ignore this Jesus and dwell on the vengeful god of the Old Testament. They parse the book of Leviticus constantly pointing to the admonitions against homosexuality while ignoring the bits about being able to own a slave from a neighboring country (Lev. 25:44), the obligation to kill those who work on the Sabbath (Ex. 35:2), never cutting your hair (Lev. 19:27) and that eating shell fish is an abomination (Lev. 11:10). There are other examples of ridiculous laws god imposed in the Bible but it is the one about homosexuality that evangelicals obsess about. Assholes.

I am not against the practice of any religion. I am against people trying to codify their religious beliefs into the laws of the land. In this country Christians, with their tax exempt status, feel free to mix politics and religious dogma in the worst possible ways. They have even, as noted above perverted the man they purport to worship.

I was raised in the Lutheran church which is the blandest version of Christianity I'm aware of. It was totally uninspiring. The only aspect I enjoyed was hearing from the Bible stories during Sunday school. There are some ripping good yarns in the Bible, though they shouldn't necessarily be taken as gospel (pun intended). However the church services had no relevance to my life and within a month of my confirmation I stopped attending church. I've since kept an open mind to all religions and philosophies and generally have found organized religions to be a crock. They are perfectly entitled to carry on preaching their delusions provided they don't bilk followers (as so many do) or try to restrict the others (again a common offense) or advocate discrimination or violence against others. I also wish people would be more rational about things like prayer and that they wouldn't feel compelled to credit God for everything while similarly excusing him for everything. Maybe someone can pray for me. That ought to do it.

20 April 2019


I am currently seeking people to fill the following positions:

Personal Assistant
Girl Friday

Scullery Maid

Please send your resume and a $200 processing fee to Purple Haze Ltd. c/o General Delivery MooseScrotum, Yukon 24 Canada. If your check clears and your resume is deemed suitable you will be asked to write a 2,000 page essay specifying your personal philosophy, qualifications and reason you are especially suited for the position along with another $200 processing fee. Checks should be made payable to Hugo Z. Hackenbush of Hackenbush, Hackenbush, Firefly, Loophole, Spaulding and Wong. Interviews will be held in early May at the Ritz Hotel in Paris, France.

Applicants must be willing to re-locate at their own expense.

13 April 2019

The Author is in Much Better Spirits Than When He Last Wrote and Discusses This Fact

Good god that post about contemplating suicide has been sitting here at the top of my blog for over a week now. Some people must have thought I'd taken a swan dive off the Golden Gate Bridge. And if you were among those who thought the worst, where was the concern? You could have checked in on me. Especially you Bethany Q. Cattlepuss of Lincolnshire, Vermont. You, my most faithful reader (that is to say my only reader), surely you were worried sick. Anyway, at the risk of being obvious, I did not do myself in. As I write these words I'm alive and well. I struggled through a few more days of depression and then felt fine AND dandy for a few days, then took a dip in spirits again and now I'm enjoying excellent mental health. For how much longer I do not know. I take it one day at a time.

You may be wondering what I've been up to these past few days. Then again you may not but I'm going to work under the assumption that you're positively obsessed with knowing the latest about little ole me. Funny you should ask. I've spent nearly a third of every day recently sound asleep. I make a point of indulging in an eight hour nap from about 11:00 PM to 7:00 AM everyday. I wake up refreshed and ready for come what may. I recommend a similar course of action to everyone else. While slumbering I get to enjoy dreams. I love dreaming and feel sorry for people who never remember their dreams.

I generally have a great deal of fun in my dreams. Sometimes I'm a young man again. Often I am successfully pursuing a romantic relationship and occasionally "get lucky" in my dreams. I've even dreamt of "being with" my own wife. This is convenient because I can tell her about those dreams. Many others dreams I refrain from mentioning to the better half so as to keep on her good side. Having taught for one 30 years it should come as no surprise that I often have teaching dreams. They come in all variety but typically involve something going terribly awry. In many I have an impossibly large number of students or have to detail with errant behavior (these, of course, are more reflective of my middle school teaching days). Some are comical and some bizarre (what ho! bizarre antics in a dream?) and many emphasize particular kinds of students or indeed a particular student I once had or colleagues I had the pleasure or rotten luck to work with.

Some of my dreams barely involve me or I do not feature in at all. These are like stories that I have created and can be full of action, adventure, mystery, romance or high drama. War is sometimes a feature of my dreams and so too are crimes. I always wish that I had clearer memories of these dreams as many would lend them self to the type of short fiction I like to write -- when time permits.

Time has not permitted much "other" writing at all recently. While I'm stacking up rejections for one novel I'm plugging away at another. I'm not one to quit easily, or for that matter, at all. I see a hand up there in the back. Have you got a question, sir? I see, good one. The gentlemen in the last row with the gamey leg just asked "what is it like to write a novel?" Well, sir, I can, of course, only speak to my own experiences. It is like a lot of things that one works hard at. There are days when everything just flows and other days when everything just sits there staring right back at you. Most days are somewhere in between. But for different days one might have different goals. Some days are more about structuring and deciding where you're going, others are just about putting words down on paper -- or rather on computer screen. Still other days are for revising and some are for editing and cleaning up. When all goes well it is damn exhilarating and well doesn't it can be mighty frustrating. The key is to keep at it which is easy enough in principal but can be bloody difficult if you're in the throes of depression and the idea of answering a simple text message seems daunting. Were I a successful novelist it would be damn good work, especially as I would then no doubt be provided with deadlines by publishers. As it is there's nobody (except you Mrs. McGillicutty of Osborne, Idaho) waiting for what I've written. I have to be self-disciplined and my record in this department is somewhat spotty.

So I'm writing and sleeping, what else? There's eating. Again this is something I do on a daily basis. I find that in retirement it is much easier to eat healthy than while working. The missus and I are eating well, limiting sugars and highlighting greens, nuts and the like. I also try to meditate daily and if not beset by the miseries, manage to. Every other day I go to the gym and am consequently looking Herculean these days. The odd thing is I'm doing slightly less reading in retirement than when I was working. I would read on average 30-40 pages a day on my commute in addition to whatever I read in the evening before beddy bye time. I'm not quite maintaining that pace these days in large part because of all the time I spend watching movies. My film addiction has gotten even worse since last Monday when the Criterion Channel launched. Oldest daughter bought me a subscription to said channel for Christmas. It is a cinephile's dream and with it, Netflix, movies I DVR on TCM and my own extensive DVD collection (which numbers over 240 titles) it's hard to make it through a day without watching a bushel of movies. I'm not one known for restraint.

So I'm a happy lad these days except -- of course -- when depression grips and then I'm a miserable old man. Ya just can't have everything. But you can certainly have some things, some of which I have -- so to speak.