audio — Everyone Loves a Parade

Posted in audio versions ---- the talkies on February 10th, 2018 by skeeter
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Everyone Loves a Parade

Posted in rantings and ravings on February 9th, 2018 by skeeter

76 trombones led the big parade. With a hundred and ten cornets close at hand.

Aw, who doesn’t love a good parade, marching bands, twirlers, floats and banners and our boys in uniform? Women too now! And Transgenders! Followed by tanks and artillery, jets flying overhead in formation, bunker buster bombs carried on carriages two blocks long. Formation after formation of the Army, the Navy, the Marines and the Air Force. Battalions and generals and military hardware. The Commander-in-Chief looking down from the stage specially constructed for his viewing pleasure, salutes to him as thousands pass by rank and file, hail to the Chief!!

Damn the expense! If we can’t put on a good military parade once a year, what kind of cowpie country are we? Let the rest of the world cower before our display of drones and cruise missiles moving mile after mile down the banner festooned streets of D.C. Patriotism on Display!! Military Might on Display!! Who doesn’t love a good parade?? Forget that Mickey Mouse balloon stuff. Homer Simpson three blocks high. We’re talking about Fire Power, not Star Power. Save the Disney stuff for the Mummer’s or the Rose Bowl or Mardi Gras. Bring on the Bradley Fighting Machines, the 1126 Stryker, the MK19 grenade machine gun, the Black Hawk helicopters, the MK-54 torpedoes, bring it all out and let the world tremble.

Shock and awe on the streets of the USA, that’s what we need. You wonder how we won the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria, well, sir, check out that hardware we’re selling to every hungry dictatorship around the globe. What’s on display here is more than Uncle Sam’s mighty muscles, it’s a runway for arms sales, pure and simple and who better to brand that than the Trumpster himself, Captain America. You need a second generation jet, we got em. You need some Surface-to-Air missiles, we’re your supplier. Just don’t resell them to terrorists. Don’t want those SAMs falling into the wrong hands like that time with the Taliban back in the cold war days when they were fighting the Soviets.

No, give me a good parade any day. Celebrate the weapons of destruction. Hell, drop a nuclear bomb out in the countryside, nothing too big, just a little show of atomic power, a warning to the enemies of liberty. Small mushroom cloud over the capitol, better than the 4th of July. Guns and God, let freedom ring. 76 trombones and a huckster Music Man, is this a great country or what?

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audio — A Short Tutorial on Declining Solicitations

Posted in Uncategorized on February 8th, 2018 by skeeter
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A Short Tutorial on Declining Solicitations

Posted in rantings and ravings on February 7th, 2018 by skeeter

So I get this call just before dinner and this woman starts right in with Hi, How am I today and before I can say I’m busy here with some friends who are visiting she gushes Golly it’s good to talk to someone who wasn’t like the last person she called who was as cranky as her mother-in-law and I’m going, Holy Replay, Batlady, this is the same solicitor of two days before who had really pissed me to the gills.

Now, I could have just quietly hung up the phone. After all, I had guests who were listening in, wondering who I was talking to that it was so damn important to interrupt our conversation and usually with company I don’t answer phones, but … well, no excuses. I had violated my own directive and was guilty of abject rudeness. And the irony was we had been talking about this very solicitor a few hours earlier, me still wound up about it, and now here was my tormentor calling back with her canned little speech about her crummy mother-in-law.

Maybe you’d have lost it too. I don’t know. Maybe you’re like me, cranky as that woman’s husband’s mom. But whatever … I barged in on her pitch to save breasts, half shouting to shut her up, and said “You called me two days ago with this stupid speech and when I tried to explain why I wasn’t going to give money you hung up on me. YOU HUNG UP ON ME!” And then I told her to, let’s not mince words here, I told her to go fuck herself. Aiiii….

I know. One small rudeness doesn’t necessarily deserve another. And worse, I regretted not trying to tell her how her first call sort of put a dark blot on my day and even the next day. Silly, sure, but it did. And how maybe in the future she could respect people who for whatever reason didn’t put a check in the mail by not hanging up on them when the money wasn’t forthcoming. Sure, all those things you think of … later.

So now I’m remorseful, feeling bad once again, a victim of myself, another Trump banshee flinging his own feces against the wall. Does it mean I should get Caller ID? Do I need anger management mediation? Should I quit answering phone calls, stop watching the evening news, cancel my subscriptions to the paper?? Should I, out of guilt, send money to the breast cancer people? Not like I know which breast cancer group called ….

I just don’t know. And now, every time the phone rings, you KNOW what I’m thinking. I’m thinking it might be that woman one more time. Telling me how nice it is to hear a voice that wasn’t as cranky as that last caller. No, not her mother-in-law, the one who told her to go fuck herself. Jeez, if nothing else I got her mother-in-law off the hook.

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audio — Threading the Needle with Camels

Posted in audio versions ---- the talkies on February 6th, 2018 by skeeter
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Threading the Needle with Camels

Posted in rantings and ravings on February 5th, 2018 by skeeter

The South End Diner was electric this morning, everybody from the Flatheads to the Bible Study crew, all diverted from their usual meandering musings and cock-eyed conversations to a laser focus on the News of the Day. Not even a week after the State of the Union speech declaring victory over tax bondage, the Speaker of the House, evidently trying to one-up the President’s braggadocio, declared that the tax reform bill had already worked.

“How about you, Brenda?” Jerry Harden asked when Brenda came by with the coffee refills. “You get that big raise yet?”

“You talking about that secretary in Pennsylvania?” Brenda said breezily, “the one who probably thought she’d won the lottery after a buck and a half a week raise.”

“A raise is a raise, Brenda,” Jerry said, grinning and holding out his cup. I expected maybe Brenda would miss and scald Jerry’s hand up clear to his eyeballs.

Fairlane Freddy pushed his half eaten and coagulating plate of biscuits and gravy into the middle of the table like he was pushing chips on a bet in a high stakes poker game. “Speaker of the House said it would pay for her Costco membership.”

“I don’t have a Costco membership, Fred. Costs too much already without paying them to let me shop in their store. I’d be interested in what that secretary got for a salary BEFORE her big pay jump.” She topped off Jerry’s cup and moved to the Bible table, half a dozen men in white shirts trying not to splatter grease on their King James’s.

“Easier for a camel to squeeze through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into the Kingdom of God,” Randall Morganstein intoned. He was a Jew for Jesus back in the big city, but out here in the boondocks, he joined up with the Little Chapel in the Ravine and rarely missed the Monday morning Bible Group session. “Be grateful for small blessings,” he added and that set Brenda off when her first impulse had been to keep her mouth firmly shut.

“That’s just fine, Reverend,” she growled. “If you’re a camel or a rich guy. The rest of us, we’re a little tired of that homily that we should just wait and we’ll inherit the earth. The earth is pretty much parceled up and sold for profits. How about some compassion for the poor?’

“Well, now,” Randall said, holding up a hand the way he might if he was warding off a blow. “I meant no disrespect, young lady.”

Brenda blew back a strand of her graying hair that had fallen across her angry face. “That’s all well and good, Randy, I guess I’ll see you at the back of the line at the Pearly Gates. I just hope there’s a quota.”

Bible Study yesterday was shorter than most weeks. Maybe it was the lack of coffee refills, who can say?

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audio — charity starts at home

Posted in audio versions ---- the talkies on February 4th, 2018 by skeeter

Charity Starts At Home

Posted in rantings and ravings on February 3rd, 2018 by skeeter

So the phone rings early this morning and since I don’t have Caller ID, I answer it with my usual Hello, no clue who’s wanting to talk at me. I know, I’m the last man in the industrialized nations of the world who doesn’t have Caller ID so you’re thinking I deserve what I get when I pick up. The price you pay for being a Luddite, I guess.

The too cheerful voice on the other end starts right in with how am I today and I say I’m just hunky-dory and she says how glad she is I’m not the last person she talked to who was as cranky as her mother-in-law but before I can slide an answer in edgewise she’s off and running how she and the good folks for some breast cancer something or other are trying to do good in this miserable world, trying to save lives, trying to … I try my best to slip in and tell her we have our own charities we … trying to save the planet from disease and misfortune and would we help in some small way if they …. I make another attempt to … just send us a letter of commitment, nothing would be too small, anything would ….

Finally I just talk over her, fully aware that now I’M THE CRANKY MOTHER-IN-LAW FROM HELL WHO WON’T SAVE WOMEN’S BREASTS FROM THE RAVAGES OF CANCER!!, the curmudgeon who won’t write a check for some measly sum too small to pay for their stamps and letterheads even, who would rather give to some other less worthy organization, who …

And I realize in mid-apology for my crappy life … she’s hung up and moved on to the next name on her list. No more small talk, no appreciative mumbling how we all give in our own small way, no goodbye, just a phone gone dead. So now I’m not only feeling bad turning down what may very well be a legitimate organization dedicated to stopping cancer in its tracks, I’m pissed off. Great, just flippin great.

This isn’t the first time I’ve found myself in this position, feeling aggrieved and angry, but it’s going to be the last time. No more listening to solicitations from now on. No! I’m channeling the last caller’s mother-in-law from here on out. And unless I miss my guess, she’s probably a nice old lady….

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audio — Making America Great Again — A Disruption in the Force

Posted in Uncategorized on February 2nd, 2018 by skeeter
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Making America Great Again – a Disruption in the Force

Posted in rantings and ravings on February 1st, 2018 by skeeter

I hear a lot of theories why Trump won a year ago, everything from Hillbilly Elegy to White Trash Backlash. Folks feel like Washington – a euphemism for the Damn Gov’t. – isn’t interested in helping them. That the rich run the show and the poor should have their Medicaid cut. So they voted for a rich guy who lies when he claims the media is faux news. They voted hoping he would shake up the Damn Government.

I don’t think they thought he’d bring back coal jobs — they just hoped he’d do something for THEM. For a change. Who wouldn’t cut deals with Wall street that cut them out of their slice of the American Pie. They’re sick and tired of the wealthy wanting their tiny slice too. And maybe they’ve never heard of the Koch Brothers and if they have, faux news!

I see a future of dislocation, retrenchment, isolationism, automation, Future Shock. Change is happening too fast for us to keep up or comprehend. We love our little devices, but we don’t understand that a digitized world is more and more incomprehensible. We don’t understand, but we sense it. We’re being left behind and it’s not just the hillbillies, although they may be the canaries in the coal mine. We can’t imagine What’s Next. Artificial intelligence, drones, social media, Big Brother, clones, Facebook, nano-technology, 3-D printing, who knows? There’s a disruption in the Force and we’re uncertain if we’re really prepared. The truth is, we know we’re not.

There’s an Anxiety in the land. A sense that the future isn’t going to be better, that the past was the zenith and the present is rolling down hill. The parents fear for their kids and their kids see hard times coming. The jobs aren’t coming back. Coal isn’t coming back. The good times are over. Debts are piling up and coming due. They were willing to try a huckster’s promises, but next time …. who knows who they’ll turn to. We should all be more than a little afraid.

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