Monday, May 22, 2017

You Too Can Be A "Social Justice Advocate"


Ah...the madness continues.  Just read that, on American college campuses, where 90% of the faculty are flaming liberals, university wonks have upped their game.  Seems several universities are insuring everyone has a "safe space" by hiring Social Justice Advocates (SJAs).

These Social Justice Advocates are hired from the student populace at large, who are then paid to walk around the dorms and the campus and identify those students who offend anyone, either in speech or body action.  The SJA's then report these offenses to the Administration who will call the offending student in for counseling and appropriate retribution.

Folks, I have to admit that I despair at this.  I guess I'm just getting too old and have lost touch with the social movements of Generations X, Y and Millennials.  When I was in school if someone offended you, you punched them in the nose, kicked em in the nuts, or exercised any number of defensive measures to curb offensive behavior or speech.  But I guess the generations who always got a blue ribbon for participation simply don't know how to defend themselves.

I've said it often and I'll say it again.  This country needs a good ole military draft, with everyone forced to serve a minimum of two years in uniform.  I suspect that when these "snowflake generations" come face to face with an IED, or even a barrack's "blanket party" they'd learn there are worse places than an American college campus.

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Gipper By The Numbers


The Liberal Left are known for telling lies.  The facts failing them, they resort to fiction whenever possible.  I believe the biggest lie they've ever told has been their attempt to disparage and demonize Ronald Reagan.  Why are they able to get away with it?  Because today's Millennials are as ignorant of recent history as they are about our founding.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

On Boiled Tofu and Broccoli


Over the weekend Michelle Obama slammed Trump for revoking Barry's Executive Order that threatened to withhold school meal funding if school districts failed to follow Michelle's dietary guidelines.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Throwing Black & White From The Crayola Box

If we could only stop branding people in Black or White we'd all be so much better off.  First of all, those Black and White Crayons in the old Crayola Box  are nearly always used wrong.  A liberal takes a look at the corporate exec, then automatically grabs the Black crayon.  A conservative will grab the Black as soon as he sees the mug of a labor leader.  White Hats and Black Hats are so "yesterday"....and never were true anyway.  

We need to stop coloring people in solid colors.  There are more than enough White Hats and Black Hats on both sides to create shades of gray.  

Case in point.  I can find evidence of these truths right in the little home town where I grew up.  The Carnegie Library there is where I first discovered my love of the written word.  Give thanks to Andrew Carnegie, that corporate bastard that exploited labor and was greedy enough to accrue immense wealth.

Except that Carnegie built 3,500 Carnegie Libraries throughout America.  Before 1873, when that first Carnegie Library was built, only the wealthy had access to books and an education.  By 1929, when the last Carnegie Library was finished,  tens of millions of Americans had read tens of millions of books...all for free...and all because Andrew Carnegie put his wealth to work.


No Black Hat for Andrew Carnegie.

Also in my hometown, up on High Street, stands a majestic Classic Grecian Post Office.  And that grand edifice, one of the last majestic buildings left in my hometown, was built by the calloused hands of laborers.  During the Great Depression the poor in my home town were as bad off as the poor in yours.  There were simply no jobs to be had.  So Franklyn Roosevelt established the WPA program, a program meant to put idle hands to work.  The program paid young men $30 dollars a month, plus room and board.  They were allowed to keep $5 bucks for their efforts...the other $25 sent home to support the family behind.  In return those WPA laborers cleared forests, built fire walls, built city halls and hospitals, helped to carve out the Appalachian Trail, strung electricity lines to rural Appalachia, created art works and wrote the histories of every single state.

So, over in Selma, California, the boys joined the WPA.  And right there in their own hometown they built a beautiful post office that was probably far too grand for our little burg.  That Post Office has served as a source of pride for more than eight decades now.


No Black hats for labor.

Let's do our best to throw out them damn Black & White Crayons...unless you plan to use them to create shades of gray.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Interview With My Mother, Part III


Dearel:  So, Mom.  Eisenhower is President, we are just beginning to enter the jet age, and you and your mama are about to venture out on the grand adventure of your lives...opening a restaurant and winning riches.

Mom:  Well, you already know that's not true.  But we sure tried.  We hit every thrift shop in town, buying sets of old dishes and glassware.  And we swabbed down that rickety old joint just off '99 Highway, and Mama cooked her Okie food in back and I worked waitress and the register.  But, because we had sunk all our money into the place, and because your daddy quit his job in Fresno, we were forced to live in a dirt floor shack down behind that old cafe.  You children took your bath in a wash tub and I don't believe I've ever been more ashamed of how we were living.

Dearel:  And just as the cafe was beginning to take off....just as we were filling up the joint with car salesmen and highway mechanics, the roof fell in.

Mom:  Yes, your dad finally laid the straw that broke the camel's back....selling our business out from under us and taking off with the money.  That of course was the year of "the water biscuits" and the "Mrs. Norman miracle"....the hardest year of all...but the year I realized that I could only rely on myself to raise you kids.

Dearel:  Mom, those were the tenuous years...the years of empty cupboards and "hard candy Christmases", yet it was those years when I realized how great you were.  I was never more proud of you than when you were bearing your greatest burdens.

Mom:  I don't need to tell you that it wasn't easy.  Every one in our big extended family urged me to sign up for welfare.  I tried.  But when they asked me to sign an arrest warrant on your dad, for non-support, I just couldn't do it.  I was deathly afraid that you kids would resent me for doing that once you were old enough to understand.  So, I worked those waitress jobs, and I learned to get by on little sleep, and I rose each morning and washed and ironed your clothes, cooked your dinners, brow beat butchers for cheap meats, then went out each evening to wait tables.

Dearel:  And through it all you waived some magic wand and somehow kept us straight, kept us fed and clothed and instilled in us the vast importance of getting an that we might never go through what you did.

Mom:  Well, I knew that an education, aside from family, was the most important thing in life.  I remember I once told you, late one night, when you were home from military leave, that I always wondered how far I might have gone had I an education.  As you know, I made a habit of reading the newspaper daily...tried to learn of the world through that cheap printer's ink...but I always knew it would never be enough.  I'm only glad that it was enough for my children.

Dearel:  Mom, you might like to know that, in the last several years, I have written about you dozens and dozens of times.  I have documented your love for us.  I have written about miracles you performed nearly as miraculous as Jesus and his basket of fish and two loaves.  I won't embarrass you by repeating them in your presence, but I hope you know I haven't forgotten a single one of them in the 50 years since you last performed them.    Happy Mother's Day, Mom.

Mom:  Thank you son.  Do you remember my favorite slogan, "God will provide?".  Well son, guess what....he does.

Interview With My Mother, Part II


Dearel:  Okay, mom.  Coffee break over.  Let's talk about what it was like in 1935, the year you married at the tender age of 13.

Mom:  Well, first of all, now that you're a grown man I tell you things that I would never have told you when you were all children.  As I look back on those years, I now think there was something broken inside your dad.  There were places in his heart that no one could ever touch.  Did the emotional damage come from his losing his mother at the tender age of 4?  Or maybe it was Papa's poor parenting....a lack of discipline as he was growing up. Or maybe both.  But your Dad was an inherently lazy and unambitious man.  If he could escape hard work he'd find any way to do it.  And your dad was a strange kind of bully...never around other men...he bullied his wife and he bullied his children.  During the 22 years of marriage I was always a bit ashamed that the other menfolk knew Loda was a coward...and that he was lazy....and it hurt.  But, I need not tell saw it for yourself.  I was loyal and loving and spent our entire marriage years, just waiting for your father to grow up.  And, as hopeful as I was for that growing up, I was equally hopeful that my love could bridge that gap that always kept your dad a bit separate from everyone who loved him, hoping to receive love in kind.

Dearel:  In 1935, in the middle of the Great Depression, I suppose your life choices were pretty limited.

Mom:  They were.  But don't get me wrong.  Once I had made my life choices I was bound and determined to live as well with them as I could.  It was not always easy.  Being poor was bad but it was not seeing any possibility of any rainbows over the near horizon that was equally hard.  When I had Carl Leon, that first infant son, the hope revived, then died again with the sorrow of infant death.
Vergil came the next year, my first year in dual role of wife and mother.  Then, when your dad went off and worked for the WPA, I had high hopes that the work and living around other men would mature him.  It did not.  And for several years both our marriage and my womb was barren..maybe from an inner fear that bringing children into our world was not a good idea.  The year Marcie was born was the year of the "great New Mexico trek"....a few weeks of unemployment by your dad, and over employment for me and my two jobs.

So we came back to Oklahoma, tails tucked between our legs.  But finally your dad got that job at Tinker Field, Raymond and your Dad and other men from Prague commuting into Oklahoma City to work for McDonnell Douglas.  Then you came along.  We had moved into town by that time and I was beginning to delight in playing "urban housewife".  Johnny Mike came along a year and later and things seemed fine....except for Vergil's rebelliousness...the first sign that anger and resentment can pass from father to son.

Then your father came home one afternoon from work, announced that he was quitting his job at Tinker Field and we were moving to California...breaking or collective hearts in the process.  Remembering New Mexico, I begged him not to take us out there.  Oklahoma was the only home I'd known and family was there.

Dearel:  This synchs with my earliest memories, Mom.  We kids rode in the back of that pickup truck as well all followed old Route 66 to "the land of milk and honey".

Mom:  And of course it wasn't "milk and honey".  We first landed in Stratford, occupied a field worker's shack, and chopped cotton to pay for our first meals in California.  As Vergil and I worked the fields your dad stayed back in the shack and whittled the day away.  Later we would move down to Selma and work the peaches and grapes.  And every day I missed home and family.

Dearel:  Yes, I remember.  We first occupied one of Katie Syperd's cabins, then moved to Jack Hupp's old apartments on West Front Street, then finally, when Dad got a job at Producers Cotton Oil Gin in Fresno we moved to that small house across from Jefferson School.

Mom:  And if you remember that was the year that Papa died and your Granny left Oklahoma, joining us in Selma.  And it was the next year when Mama and I opened Tommy's Cafe, our first opportunity to evolve from "housewife" to a dream far bigger.

Dearel:  Why don't we stop here, Mom.  You might need another Pall Mall break before going on.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Interview With My Mother


My mother, Encely Ann Jameson Friend, was born on the 10th of July, 1922 in Enid, Oklahoma.  She died in October, 2002.  Though she is gone now, thanks to my inexplicable curiosity about my family's ancestry, and my mother's willingness to share it, I feel confident that this interview is essentially accurate.

Dearel:  Mom, can you tell me a little more about where you were born and about your girlhood?

Mom:  Honey, if you're looking to hear some great adventurous yarns, well, you'll be disappointed.  I was born in a little town called Enid, Oklahoma.  Enid, back then was known for the wheat crops that thrived in the area and was the starting off point for The Great Cherokee Run...the pioneering land grab that sowed the first seeds of white settlement of the Indian Territory.  My father, half Cherokee himself was the product of a White man and a Cherokee woman.  I'm sorry that I don't know more about my fraternal grandparents.  My mother was Myrtle Jane Payne, daughter of the Payne clan who settled in the Missouri Ozarks in the late 19th Century.

Dearel:  Tell me more about your childhood.

Mom:  I don't really remember much about my early childhood.  I do remember that my father had a drinking problem and that didn't set too well with my Southern Baptist mother.  I think I may have purposely shut out the memories of those early childhood years because they proved too painful.

Dearel:  I know that Grandmother Myrtle divorced Robert in the late 1920's so you must have been very young at the time.

Mom:  Yes, I was born in '22 and my brother Floyd came along in '26, then shortly after that my parents divorced.

Dearel:  Well, we know your mother would meet and marry John Archibald Friend a few years later.  Can you remember anything about that time?

Mom:  By the time I met your fraternal grandfather he was already in his mid-30's.  He was a small framed man, gentle by nature, soft spoken and, at the time he met my mother, was raising a large brood of children by himself, his first wife (also named Myrtle), Myrtle Bargay, died very young in the great Asian flu epidemic of 1918...a flu that killed millions around the world in that year.

Dearel:  You left the Enid area about that time, correct?

Mom:  Yes, although our stepfather John came from a line of Friends who had settled the Ozarks early in the 18th century, were considered "land-wealthy", John himself was something of an itinerant farm worker.  From Enid we seemed to be moving south, then west from Enid, taking up sharecropping in tiny settlements throughout central Oklahoma, before finally settling in the Prague, Oklahoma area.

Dearel:  And what was life like for you during those years?

Mom:  Well, you've heard me talk about The Great Depression many times.  Times were hard.  No one had cash back then.  Most of the commerce was through trading in commodities.  In those sharecropping days we raised corn, cotton when there was a market for it, then wheat when the prices were good.  Mama raised a vegetable garden, then canned everything in the summer to get us through the winter.  And we raised hogs and chickens and Papa smoked the pork and any game hunted in the area.  As Papa's older children became grown and married off, the younger children came along..first Billy, then Polly and later, Paul Francis.

Dearel:  Who was the disciplinarian  in the family?

Mom:  Oh it was all Mama!  Papa just could not bring himself to spank us.  But Mama made up for it...she was the taskmaster and wielder of the switch!  The closest Papa ever came to whipping one of us was when little Billy poured out Papa's corn liquor that he hid from our Baptist mama down by the smokehouse.  Papa went down to have a snort one Sunday morning and found Billy had dumped out his  corn liquor and pissed in the jug.  When Papa saw Billy smirking about it nearby he chased him all the way to the house, but lost the foot race and then couldn't spank Billy lest Mama found out why.

Dearel:  Did you go to school?

Mom:  Sure we did.  Floyd and I attended a little red-brick one room schoolhouse, then came home to do our chores...alot of it hoeing cotton in season, or working whatever crops fertile at the time.  Sometimes we worked all day on Saturdays and sometimes, if the work was done for the week, we'd knock off, load the mattresses in the wagon and go down to the creekside and camp for the weekend.

Dearel:  My Uncle Floyd says you were a "wild child"...a tomboy who liked to mix it up with boys and that roustiness earned you a nick-name.

Mom:  Well, you already know my brothers and sisters and my mama called me "Tommy".  They've called me that all my life and I guess they'll call me that till I'm buried.

Dearel:  Did you get along with your brothers and sisters?

Mom:  Well, you know I didn't have much cause to mix it up with Billy and Polly and Paul.  They all came along later and were way too young to be my playmates.  But Floyd and I were very close.  We loved each other dearly, but we fought as brothers and sisters will do.

Dearel:  Come on, Mom.  Don't give me the "sweetness and light".  Floyd has already told me about some of your infamous the time you nearly amputated his toes.

Mom:  Well, he almost deserved it.  It was a Saturday and we had cotton hoeing to do.  But Papa had told us if we finish the rows he's assigned us we could quit at noon and ride into town.  I was working furiously that morning because I really wanted to have the afternoon off.  Trouble was, Floyd didn't want to work.  Instead he would find a tree stump, climb up on it, then began preaching church sermons, trying to copy our fire and brimstone Baptist minister.  Then I would scold him and he'd work for a bit, then think up another commandment to preach about and find the nearest tree stump and commence preaching again.  I'd finally had enough, then swung my hoe his way.  It came down and sliced through his boot which sent blood spurting up out of his shoe.

Dearel:  That wasn't the last time you savaged your younger brother, was it.

Mom:  No, there was that time he tore the head off my raggedy ann doll and I took him by the ears and slammed his head time and again against the bedroom wall.  Trouble was, I didn't know that there was a big ten penny nail sticking out of that wall, and with each slamming of his head I was carving out a nail sized hole in the back of his head.  I have to say though, whether if was toe amputations, or head banging, Floyd never run off and told on me.  He knew he deserved it.  I was hard to get angry but if Floyd teased me long enough he knew he could get me to blow my top.  That closeness never left us though...all our lives Floyd and I had deep love and respect and a special closeness that few have.

Dearel:  Okay, mom.  It's time.  Time to explain why you chose to surrender your childhood and marry at the age of thirteen.

Mom:  (Looking down, much reflective...a bit sad).  You know, son, I was not much different than any other country girl in those days.  I wanted more from life than that back-breaking farm work.  I had graduated from 8th grade and I somehow sensed that that was all I was going to get from school.  In those days women were expected to get married and take care of family...just as I had been doing since I was old enough to walk.  So there was your father, a lean handsome stepbrother, son of stepfather John, often lazing up in the hayloft, talking about doing big things, seeing the world.  And he spun me a world that freed me from field work and slopping hogs and I fell for it.  So, at the age of 13, your daddy 19, we said our vows before a country preacher, then settled into a shack converted from a chicken coop, on the same road that I walked to school as a child, we set about sharecropping the same fields I had walked in earlier years.  Those dreams your daddy spun dissolved like cotton candy.

Dearel:  Thanks, mom.  I'll give you a little break now.  Let's go have a cup of coffee and you can light up your Pall Mall and relax a spell.

Friday, May 12, 2017

"The Lilies Of The Field"


 When Sidney Poitier joyfully leaped onto that Academy Award stage in 1964, he was without a prepared speech, knowing he had no chance to win.  First of all, no Black actor had ever won a competitive Oscar.  Secondly, in that year he was up against Richard Harris, and Rex Harrison, and the favorite, Paul Newman for "Hud".

Despite magnificent performances in "Porgy and Bess", and "Raisin In The Sun", Poitier had never been recognized for his acting prowess.  So what were the odds that Sydney would win an Oscar for his portrayal of Black ex-army veteran, itinerant construction worker in "The Lilies of The Fields".

So, when Sidney accepted a kiss from Ann Bancroft, and that golden Oscar, he had nothing prepared to say.  Instead he simply smiled that dazzling Poitier smile, thanked the writer of the original work, the film's director, then said "it's been a long journey".

I'm sure Poitier was celebrating as the first Black man to win an Oscar.  But that reference to "a long journey" could well have been said about the making of "The Lilies of The Field" itself.   The movie was born from a confluence of fortuitous events.

The first player in this cinematic miracle was the author of the book that the film was based on.  William Edmond Barrett was born in Brooklyn, New York.  Raised a devout Catholic, Barrett would incorporate his love of the church in many of his writings.  Moving with his family to Denver, Colorado when he was sixteen, Barrett fell in love with the written word and used the wide open skies of the American west as the backdrop for many of his stories.  

So one summer morning Barrett found himself motoring across Arizona, cotton ball clouds floating over Sabino Canyon down Tucson way.  The scene proved so lovely he pulled off the road, his attention drawn to the ruins of an old chapel.  When he questioned the locals about that old church he was told of the legend of a Black man who had wandered the desert, and built that church with his own hands.  Over the years the legend had grown larger; the Black man said to have been a Black angel.
So William Edmond Barrett rode back to Colorado, and he wrote "The Lilies of The Field".  

Ralph Nelson was a film director out in Hollywood.  Over the years Nelson had directed a number of memorable movies, their strongest point always being that they had a good story as their foundation.  So Nelson read Barrett's book, and he immediately fell in love with those nuns, and that rascally Black man with a good heart.  And as Nelson visualized the filming of that story, he knew it just had to be Sidney Poitier

Alas, Hollywood's moneymen weren't keen on the story.  So, Nelson, intent on getting the movie made, rounded up a few "nickel and dime" investors who forked out a measly $240,000 dollars, even in 1963 a measly sum to make a movie.  The money came with conditions; all the actors would have to take a pay cut from their normal salaries.  Sidney Poitier agreed to star, would work for nothing, in exchange for 5% of any profits the movie made.

So, the gaggle of actors all trouped over to Tucson, and set up their cameras right at the foot of Sabino Canyon.  The shooting days were long, because that movie was made in a still unheard of 14 days, and filmed in Black and White.

And when "The Lilies of The Field" was released, on October 1st, 1963, Americans flocked to it.  Americans fell in love with the simple, pristine beauty of a story well told.  And the song from that film, "Amen" began to be sung in Sunday schools across the land.  

When the author of the book saw the film he liked it very, very much.  So, when William Edmond Barrett was asked about his motivation for the story, he simply said "I believe that life has more happy stories than sad ones...and I believe both book and film well illustrated the point.

Barrett would go on to write more books.  Director Ralph Nelson would go on to direct other prize-winning movies, including the poignant "Charly"....based on another wonderful book, "Flowers For Algernon".   The film profits made Sidney Poitier a wealthy man, made richer from Oscar gold.

Three men, from diverse backgrounds..on the road to serendipity, their 14- day "miracle in the desert", second only to that desert wanderer who once built a chapel at the footsteps of Sabino Canyon.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Maryland Attorney General Grants Amnesty From Arrest


The Maryland State Attorney General sent out a directive to all law enforcement agencies in that state...advising against making arrests of illegals committing "minor crimes", to include shoplifting, I.D. theft, burglary and non-firearm robbery.

The State Attorney General believes arresting illegals makes them more prone to being arrested again by ICE officers upon release from local or state custody, then deported to their home country.

And of course Maryland believes this is inhumane. So, law enforcement agencies are being asked not to arrest foreign invaders, making them vulnerable to being deported.

Now I may be wrong but I am just wondering what the business community thinks about all this. Under this new directive, an illegal can now walk into a retail establishment, shoplift his merchandise of choice, and if caught, just declare "I'm an illegal alien" and be issued a free pass. And I'm wondering what Mr. and Mrs Smith are gonna feel about having their ID stolen and learn that someone's piling up Visa Card charges in their name at the local Mercado.

Maybe the state of Maryland could just offer all illegal residents of that state a "amnesty card"..amnesty against both immigration and arrest for infractions of the law. Or maybe they could just stamp a big "Amnesty" across the face of those driver's licenses they issue to illegal residents.

If there's any doubt that the liberal mind lacks the "logic" gene, this should remove all doubt.

Sad. Damned Sad.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Long Before "A Candle In The Wind"


Just saw a news article about Marilyn Monroe's home going on the market. Looked at the pictures of it and was pleased to see the house was still pretty much in the same configuration as when Marilyn lived there. My first thought was how I love the old 50's and 60's simplicity of wood and much in contrast with the shiny steel, industrialized look of the modern rich man's pad.
My second thought was a remembrance of that day on August 5th, 1962. The Fresno Bee came flying over the fence. I went out and picked it up, unhatched that ancient newspaper fold that was "de rigeur" in those days.. (no rubber band needed), then read the headlines saying Marilyn was dead.
Now, had I reached the stage of "full puberty", my reaction might have been far different. But, since I was fourteen and four months...and the "night dreams" had not yet started, my reaction to Marilyn's death was one of shocked sadness.
I simply could not understand how one so beautiful and famous, undoubtedly wealthy, could take her own life. I had seen Marilyn's face, majestically six feet high, up there on the movie screen over at the Park Theater. And, even as a child, I could detect the delicacy of spirit the woman possessed. I believe that I, and a hundred million other men, were drawn to Marilyn, not so much for her beauty, as by her vulnerability. There seemed to be always an urge to "protect her" from a world she seemed not to be able to understand.
I had seen Marilyn in "How To Marry A Millionaire" and "Gentleman Prefer Blondes"...but, ironically it was the movie with Mitchum, in "River of No Return" that made me fully appreciate her beauty. I didn't believe anyone could look that beautiful in flour sack shirt!
Later, when my balls finally dropped, I would see Marylin in "Some Like It Hot"....that scene when she is bending over the couch, to soothe Tony Curtis's brow, and realized that Marylin could stir more than the heart. That scene is, to this day, one of the most sizzling and erotic movie scenes I've ever witnessed.
But it was on that summer day, August 5th, 1962, the day already heating up, the swamp cooler going there at The Alamo, when I first felt the sweet and innocent sense of loss. Just as so many of us remember the day Kennedy was shot, or that sad day in Memphis, or that sad night at the Ambassador Hotel when Bobby was killed, I remember the day Marylin died as if were yesterday. And I'm not sure what is more sweetly nostalgic....the memory of a day of childhood innocence....or the tragic death of a sex goddess.
"A Candle In The Wind" had not yet been written...but it was certainly written on my heart on that sad day.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Apple Turning Rotten


Observation:  I have a theory about Apple Computer, post Steve Jobs.  Since Jobs died Apple has just been rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.  They haven't come up with a single innovative new product since Jobs died.

The Mac, the iPod, the iPhone, all from Steve Jobs.  Jobs didn't like the IWatch and he was right; no one gives a rat's ass except a few big spending trolls who'd buy horse turds if someone said they were in fashion.

All Tim Cook has done since Jobs died is declared his gayness, hoisted a rainbow flag over the headquarters at Cupertino and shuffle new software that we don't need and don't want into our Apple devices.  

This Apple is getting ripe and turning rotten as we speak.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Boob Tube Wisdom


At 69, I have come to realize that wisdom does not come in one awe-inspiring creeps up on you in stages. This morning, over my first cup of coffee, and while trying to validate Einstein's Theory of Relativity, I began to think about how we can gauge our degree of wisdom by TV programs you finally realize are so inane, so stupid that you absolutely refuse to watch them.
My first tentative step toward wisdom occurred when I was about 15 years old...and it emanated from an old 17inch RCA black and white television. (I was aided by a little brother who could stop and hold the rabbit ears just right so that KJEO came in crystal clear.....I told him holding rabbit hears for hours on end would stimulate his growth).
While I was stupid enough to believe that vampires actually existed, and while I was sure there was a Dr. Frankenstein doing strange things in his basement somewhere in Bavaria, I drew the line on Sally Field flying around Brazil by the simple effort of catching a good breeze and adjusting the wings of her big white cornette (yes, I actually googled to see what it was called). So after watching the first five minutes of The Flying Nun I surrendered my vows and promised myself to never watch again, even if the only other choice was an Indian Head test pattern.
And still the rube, I had no problem swallowing the idea that Flipper was smart enough to score an advanced degree at Miami U while defusing contact bombs stuck to the bottom of a cruise ship in his spare time. And I was fifty years old before I finally realized that Lassie was never really looking at Timmy....the dog was focused on her trainer and noted Timmy only when Timmy had onions on his hot dog for lunch off the crew truck.
But, when My Mother The Car came along, even I was smart enough to realize the likelihood of a mother achieving reincarnation as a 1928 Porter touring car was pretty small...and even the idea was pretty stupid. This was 1965 but I have to believe the TV producers of this program got a head start on Timothy Leary and were scoring some serious LSD when that program was conceived.
So, I got through my teen years with some small measure of standards were low but at least I had some.
Then the late 70's and early 80's came along and I'm ashamed to say I loved watching The Love Boat and Fantasy Island. I think I liked those shows because they resurrected some of the old celebrities who were big in my childhood; Van Johnson and Gloria DeHaven taking a cruise to celebrate their divorce, or Shelly Fabray as the first "cougar" dating a handsome young stud who was secretly lusting for her great aunt's inheritance. Shelly would eventually discover his true character, saved at the last minute by Gopher and Doc. And who could resist little Tatu and his speech impediment, or Ricardo Montalban fondling the rich corinthian leather of his golf cart?
As I recall, I finally gave up on the TV "smaltz" about the time I could no longer pee in a 3ft arc which was probably about age 40. It seems I finally realized that if I wanted to watch someone with an IQ above 80 I would have to watch PBS or a good Steven Bochco program; L.A. Law, Hill Street Blues, or Doogie Howser.
Now, in my old age dotage, I've refined my viewer wisdom even finer. I have something like 150 channels but watch only a few; PBS, C-Spans I, II and III, Turner Classic Movies and any baseball broadcast not involving the Dodgers.
Still, I occasionally do flip thorough those 150 cable channels, and sometimes pause to watch 30 seconds of The Munsters, or a minute or two of Green Acres (and wonder why Eddie Albert didn't just hire a good foreman...and why anyone would be so stupid to tolerate having to climb a telephone pole to call for pizza.)
So, I guess I'm, if not wise beyond my years, have a least figured out that watching much TV (in any era) will rot you teeth and pickle your brain.
Gotta's 5:30 AM and Twilight Zone is getting ready to come on. It's the episode where Charles Bronson is wandering around a post-armageddon ghost town and hooks up with Elizabeth Montgomery.....and in that whole episode she doesn't twitch her nose even once!

Monday, May 1, 2017

"Bearly" Sane


Last Week California's Senate Health Committee passed through SB 562, a bill that would provide free health care to every resident in the state, including the more than 11 million illegals who live there.

Co-Sponsors, Senator Ricardo Lara (Bell Gardens, may remember Bell Gardens..that's where the mayor and city council made off with millions of taxpayer dollars) and Senator Toni Atkins, San Diego says it is high time everyone recognized that free health care is a natural born matter where you come from.

When asked how California, already strapped with billions of unfunded state retirement fund liabilities, and perennial budget shortages, both Democratic co-sponsors said it would be paid for with "broad based revenue", the generic equivalent of a shoulder shrug.

Although no longer a resident of that state (I left when my neighborhood transitioned from polka music once a mariachi music every weekend), I have a couple of suggestions for California's Democratic controlled statehouse.

Boost gas prices to $15.00 a gallon and impose a 95% income tax rate for residents of Hollywood, Brentwood, Malibu, Beverly Hills and every resident of Silicon Valley and San Francisco.  This should not generate a single protest because it is the residents in those neighborhoods who are most responsible for turning California into a socialist state.

As I read of the bills passage through the health committee last Monday, I was amused to read that the bill was cheered by thousands of supporters who gathered at the capitol to cheer their Socialist Senators along.  For a moment I wondered how all those folks could afford to leave their places of work to get there....but then I remembered there's no work requirement for boarding California's generous gravy train.

All aboard!  

P.S.  California's U-Haul dealers sent out an urgent message to out of state U-Haul centers to send them an emergency supply of moving trucks...their phones were ringing off the hook from taxpayers plotting their exit.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Happy Earth Day


Last Saturday was Earth Day.  Just my two cents on celebrating it.
Let's honor the earth by employing every means to keep her healthy.... solar, wind energy, fusion technologies, etc. But let us all also keep a level head. There are people who would have us surrender our entire lifestyles and fall down and worship nature only.
Well, "man" is also nature and he has built wondrous things, improved the life spans of billions, healing the sick and feeding the multitudes in greater measure than at any time in our history.
Let us look at every societal assertion with a degree of skepticism, especially those people and organizations who derive their livelihood from government grant, for they will only ever mouth the words of our government masters...and we know those masters are never to be trusted.
Fifty years ago, Professor Paul Ehrlich wrote a book called "The Population Bomb", sponsored by government grants and with government's blessing. He said that, if we continued to populate at those current rates we would all live in a vast wasteland, would face massive societal upheaval and would starve to death in the 1990's. Since Ehrlich wrote that book the population has doubled and more people are fed today than when that book was written. Just saying......maintain a skeptical eye at the climate change folks who say we're all going to be swimming for our lives in 2050...their salaries are paid by folks who have a personal interest in promoting their own agendas.
That doesn't mean we earth people aren't stupid. As gas prices fall we see the same old groups buying gas guzzling cars, paying no attention to the fluorocarbons they are spewing into the atmosphere. We still have corporations who value profit margin over the environment. And, even as we speak we still have oil tankers that are not double hulled and highly susceptible to spilling a million gallons of oil into still pristine waters.
Earth Day to me has always been a celebration of the God given gifts all about us. I have lived in Hawaii, where the air is as pure as any on earth, and loved drinking in the sea-fresh air of the tradewinds. I've both flown over, and driven through The Great Smoking Mountains...that vast multi-state, forest of millions of trees....home of 130 different species....more trees there than in all of Europe...and held my breath in wonder at the majesty of it all. Wherever I've travelled in the world...whether in Asia, or Europe, or over the vastness of Arabian desert, and I've always been impressed by man's ability to adapt to any environment.
So, for the naysayers, for the folks who pray for the deaths of a billion people....necessary they say to save the earth...for the people who say we've simply got to stop eating meat and sustain ourselves with grains, who say we all ought to be walking wherever we go, I say "screw you"...."we'll find a way...we always do". 
Our destiny will always be in the hands of our Creator...and His only. And we are still around because he instills in us the heart and intelligence necessary to overcome our challenges and persevere in an ever changing world.
Happy Earth Day. (Now go out an pick up a gum wrapper, turn off that damn light in the closet, shut the water off when you'r brushing your teeth, and plant a tree. I can tell you that's doing far more than those pols in Washington have ever done.)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

One More Word (or Two) On Bill O'Reilly


If any of you are feeling sorry for Bill O'Reilly...don't.  First of all, the guy has racked up hundreds of millions in his nearly twenty year run.  Secondly, I guarantee you he'll get a slot on another cable network if he chooses.  The media outlets are no less "corporate whore" than Exxon or IBM....they will hire anyone who they believe will boost their ratings.

Let me be a bit prophetic here.  O'Reilly, if he doesn't retire, will sign a multi-million dollar deal with one of those mega radio companies who either own, or are affiliated with 500 radio stations across the nation.  Then he and Limbaugh can fight it out for whose the biggest fish in the pond.

Then, following a die-down in the din of liberal outrageousness, some cable company will sign old Bill to a rich contract....and he'll haul in millions of viewers and viewer dollars for the corporate whores who sponsor him.

Incidentally, if you've ever labored under the illusion that corporations have either heart, or ethics, you'd be horribly wrong.  Any one of them would contract out a hit on their mothers if it meant an extra 1 percent of profit margin.

I'm almost sure that the only loser in the Fox-O'Reilly matter will be Fox News.  Not many conservative viewers have left O'Reilly, despite the massive assault on his character, and the long line of females who cried sexism.   Slick Willie is no less popular for dropping his zipper in the Oval Office and you have to realize we just elected a guy who harbored an urge for "pussy grabbing", so don't get caught up in the morality of this thing, kiddies.

So, if you've been thinking of setting up a Go Fund Me page for Mr. O'Reilly, I urge instead that you send any money you can spare to this "Modest Scribbler".  In return I promise to keep my groping to the minimum.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Multi-Layered Human


Two recent news stories sent this old noggin spinning this morning; Bill O'Reilly's firing over on Fox, and football player/murderer, Aaron Hernandez' prison suicide.

In both instances you find fatally flawed human beings, their flaws eventually doing them in, just as they did with iconic funnyman, Bill Cosby.

In an age where society seems to value the superficial, an image created especially for a hundred yard gridiron, or a TV screen, we usually find the flaws much later than we do among our intimate friends. That's just the way it is.

And yet, we are all something of the artichoke, a multi-layered being who strives always to put on the best face in public, and save the nasty stuff for hearth and home.

In both of these media celebrities there's something to ponder.  In Hernandez you had a Latino kid who lost his father at age 16, searched for something to replace him, and found the world of the street thug to his liking.  His teammates, searching for something kind to say about him after his suicide, said that Aaron really loved kids, apparently only before they reached puberty, cause after that they were subject to being gunned down by Aaron and company.  Still, those stories reveal another layer of the human being that was Aaron Hernandez.

In O'Reilly's case, you have a seemingly intelligent man who just couldn't keep his dick in his pants.  There's precedent for that; Rhodes Scholar Bill Clinton suffered from a similar affliction.  So, this week, O'Reilly, who was pulling in $20 million a year, finally suffered the consequences of treating women with less respect than he demanded of himself.  So, again we see another layer of human being....the sartorially splendid and articulate Bill O'Reilly, done in by those layers of human frailties that lay beneath.

Please don't engage me in a debate about the unfairness of O'Reilly's firing.  Given the plethora of victims in O'Reilly's wake he probably deserved it.  And I do despair that the incestuous liberal snake pit over at CNN, and MSNBC, and CBS, and ABC, never seem to get nailed for their own peccadillos.  Slick Willie still draws huge crowds and rakes in tons of speaking fee money, and Hillary didn't fire her Chief Campaign Aide just because her husband was flashing his wiener on Facebook, nor have liberals ever complained about Joe and Mika, both married to others, but making the beast with two backs when the camera lights are dimmed.  Nor has anyone questioned a capability for objective reporting given how many of our "news kings and queens" are married to our government masters.  Yet the liberal set spared no outrage for O'Reilly's failings....because, let's face it, he was conservative.

America needs a good artichoke peeler.  We might not like what that peeled artichoke looks like after...but it would certainly reveal any rot below a hell of a lot quicker.

Friday, April 21, 2017

KFC Spent $80 Million For What?


Now anyone who knows the chicken business knows that Chik-Fil-A has been kicking KFC's butt for years now.  So this week I read that KFC has spent the last two years, and $80 million dollars, working on a better chicken sandwich.

Well, KFC is about to debut their new sandwich, called "The Zinger", on April 24th.  No doubt your email box will be full of animated crowing chickens, accompanied by a 20 percent discount coupon, to test drive The Zinger.

Sigh.  I could have saved KFC that $80 million.  Just hire southern moms.  Yes, I said southern moms...the purveyors of delicious crispy fried chicken...from recipes handed down to them from an era when women twisted the neck off a yardbird, de-feathered it themselves, and threw into a hot iron skillet filled three quarters with lard.

Yes, lard.  And don't get your panties in a bunch.  Lard makes everything tastes better.  And is it really important that you don't live to age 89, your brain fried with old age dementia?  Can't you be happy living to 85 and dying with a smile on your face?

Just have your wife (or, in this era, do it yourself)...wander into the kitchen and whip up a tray of biscuits, made with lard.  That's the taste we grew up with...the taste we loved...before our government masters dictated its extinction in commercial kitchens.  (Yes, people...they still make their fast food and diner biscuits with lard down south...they just hide the bucket when the food inspectors come in.)


A few years ago I walked into a Hardees down Georgia way.  As I walked in the door I realized I was the only White boy in the joint.  However, the scent of biscuits and gravy steeled my spine and I sidled up to the counter and ordered myself a styrofoam platter of southern nirvana.  And, man it was good!  

After sopping up the last ounce of sausage gravy with that lard infused biscuit, I gathered up my tray, dropped the trash into the receptacle, then prepared to walk out.  And, as I sauntered toward the door I noticed that Hardee's chef, a large Black lady, was winking at everyone at the tables around me.  I suspect that viral winking was not about the "honkey"...rather that some fried yard bird was even now being lowered into a tub of boiling lard...right in time for lunch.

KFC, if you're reading this, next time you can fore go wasting $80 million bucks to come up with something that tastes good.  Just hire yourself a southern mom and stock up on tubs of lard.

You're welcome.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

A Word Or Two On Breakfast


1) First of all, let's get this out of the way right off....if eggs were bad for you I would have been dead ten years ago. I totally ignored those dire Surgeon General warnings of the 80's, have eaten my way through a chicken coop of eggs...and have better cholesterol readings than my "eggs twice a year" wife.
2) American business can design a device that will hold ten thousand songs...but can't make sausages square so you can cook them evenly on all side without having to play "roll a bug".
3) When I lived in Saudi Arabia we had two choices for butter; American brands and Ireland's Kerrygold, both priced the same. So I always got Kerrygold because it was only like a hundred times better tasting than the American stuff. Kerrygold is as addictive as cocaine. So, when I returned to the states, saw that Kerrygold sells over here for $6 bucks a pound, I had to go back to American butter. (Severe withdrawal symptoms)
4) Since I was a kid I had watched those old MGM movies where the rich are sitting out on the patio of their mansion, drinking orange juice out of crystal, and having their breakfasts from silver tureens, and I always wanted to dine with those silver tureens. As it turned out I finally got the chance....except the "silver" was stainless steel vats and the "meal de jour" was shit on a shingle served from a 10 gallon vat.
5) Has anyone noticed that eggs have gotten smaller over time? What once we called "large" they now call "jumbo". And I've actually bought "large" eggs of late that look like quail eggs.
6) Most folks wouldn't know that I'm a master of efficiency when cooking breakfast. I can whip up a breakfast in five minutes or less, ten if you add a side of meat.
7) I have tried at least a hundred times to duplicate the light and fluffy hotcakes that you get at Denny's and Ihop...and can't...mine are always heavy. (no, don't send me any recipes...I've read them all)
8) If you haven't tried crumbled bacon over brown sugar and cinnamon oatmeal, with a dollop of sweet cream, you have no idea of what heaven will be like.
9) With the profit margins collected on a Denny's breakfast the Justice Department ought to arrest the franchisees and throw them in the clink for life. Death penalty for anyone who charges $3 bucks for a cup of coffee. Drawn and quartered if they charge for re-fills.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

"On The Occasion of My 69th Birthday"

Take a poll among any hundred intellectual elites and they will tell you that sentimentality is a dishonest emotion, totally without merit.  Those elites hate any movie where there's a tear shed, when any emotion is honestly book, in movie...or in the lyrics of a song.

I disagree.  Sentimentality is the art of seeing only what we want to see.  And I say "thank God for that".  Life is tough enough, humans fallible enough, that we simply must possess the art of forgiving our loved ones' faults if ever love is  possible.

So, every year my daughter sends me a wonderfully sentimental birthday card.  And she always takes the time to make that card meaningful to me...something that never fails to touch my heart.  So does that mean she does not harbor memories of my many failings?  Of course not...she is simply saying that I am loved, even admired, despite my failings.

My god, people, you all know I'm something of a "sentimental slut" myself, having written, hundreds of blog essays...about every one of my loved ones.....none of them perfect...without fault and failings.

And, as I have grown older, I freely admit to chronic bouts of sentimentality.  In a world growing increasingly more savage, when folks are judged these days on the very latest "mal droit" they have mistakenly uttered, I believe we can all use a dose of sentimentality to maintain our sanity.

Though I tend to "mix it up" in my writings on this blog, I can tell you that I literally torment my Facebook friends, almost daily, with a post about feeling euphoric on a particular morning...just because the trees are leafing, or my Lantana is bursting into spectacular color.  Or I write about something cute my little dog did this week.  And, yes, time and again, I climb into my time machine and write about the wondrous experiences of my childhood.....a period when I was nurtured, tutored on the right way to behave, and loved unconditionally.  While much of what I write about is "water under the bridge", those waters are soothing beyond belief...and the bridge always there, over the troubled waters of my life.

I suppose my daughter could send me a tract on "Modern Philosophy".  And I'm just intellectual enough to be stimulated by it.  But, these days, I prefer a simple and sentimental message that says I mean something to her...assuring me that my life has had some measure of value.

In that little Hallmark missive my daughter sent, she borrowed (or bought) the words that might express to me, what I mean to her.  And in conveying those words to me, she is saying that I have served as the foundation for all the love that came later in her life.   I feel a little pride in that...the feeling accompanied by a slight trilling of the heart...and admittedly, a tear or two that drops from these old eyes....and I feel not an ounce of guilt for it.

So Happy Birthday to me...on the occasion of my 69th birthday.  And, of the 24,000 plus days since I crawled from the womb, it has been the sentimental expressions of love that have kept me living and loving.

Monday, April 17, 2017

The Heart Of A Champion


Rod Carew, U.S. Marine Corp vet, Hall of Fame baseball player, member of the "3,000 hit club", suffered a massive heart attack in September 2015, one doctors described as a "widow maker", his heart damaged beyond repair. Doctors inserted a heart device, said it wouldn't save him, then sent him home to die, suffering from both heart and kidney failure.

Konrad Reuland was a California kid, born and raised down in Mission Viejo, California. He played tight end on his high school football team but was not good enough to be drafted out of college. Yet, Konrad had a lot of fighting spirit and the San Francisco 49ers saw that in him, and signed him up.

Konrad would go on to play in the NFL for a few years, first with the Niners, then the New York Jets and Baltimore Ravens.

So, four days after Thanksgiving last year, Konrad Reuland suffered a brain aneurism, was admitted to the hospital but the doctors couldn't save him. He died just two weeks before Christmas.

But Konrad had a gift for Hall of Famer Rod Carew...a little organ donor card in his wallet.

So four days later, just a week before Christmas Rod Carew, Hall of Famer, Marine Corp vet, received the heart and kidneys of young Konrad Reuland, he of The Fighting Irish and Stanford Cardinals, gladiator of the gridiron.

Rod Carew's uniform number in his playing days was "29". That number 29 hangs on a banner in the baseball stadium of Minnesota Twins, and in the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Konrad Reuland died at age 29. And "29" means a lot more to Rod Carew these days...far more than a number on the back of a baseball uniform. Rod Carew, with his spanking new heart, now goes about the country promoting an organ donation program called "Heart of 29".

...the heart of a champion....