Marked Down Version

I’m just noticing that I look like a marked down version of my father when he was about my age.  Except for the hair, of course.  He combed his hair straight back and had a widow’s peak, kind of like Bella Lugosi, but not nearly as creepy.

We seem to share the same shaped head, a similar sweep of jaw line and that vertical crease between bushy eyebrows.  At a quick glance from a certain angle in the bathroom mirror, I can see a little of him; a momentary joy, because he’s been dead for more than forty years.

He dressed better than me, too.  I mean my dad, not Bella Lugosi, and he took a lot of pride in how he looked when he went to work.  A suit and tie every day, dry-cleaned as necessary.  Tie clip, shine on his shoes and walking with a swagger.  He was a boss, a building manager, and had to make a good impression.  I work with handicapped kids and terminally ill adults, and they don’t care a lot how I look.  The former occasionally throw up on me, and the latter have a lot of other things on their minds.  Still, sartorially speaking, I try to keep up my end; pressed pants, dress shirts, I even have a Mona Lisa tie.  But none of that seems to help with the ‘marked down’ feeling I get sometimes.  I can’t help thinking that he was better than me in a lot of ways.  In this age, steeped in our curious brew of ego and insecurity, I’m not supposed to admit that anyone is better than me.  But, consider the facts:

  •         He lived through the depression
  •        He served in the Pacific during World War II
  •        He was smart enough to marry my mom
  •        He knew everything, and he knew how to do everything.  And he did it with style and panache and dignity.

Me, on the other hand;

  •        I lived through the gas shortage, which was tough, but didn’t require me to sell apples or to have a president in office for twelve years
  •        I had a high draft number and never went into the service during the Viet Nam War
  •        I was smart enough to marry my wife, but that was less smart than it was lucky.
  •        I know how to do some stuff, but not as much and not as well.  And try as I might, I can’t manage his swagger.

It’s a human failing, probably part of the insecurity/ego double whammy, that we feel the need to compare ourselves with others. I try to keep it to a minimum, but every once in a while it sneaks up on me.  Walking by a mirror at that certain angle, or when I’m trying to fix something, and really don’t know what I’m doing.  I usually think, ‘well, not too bad.  But could be better.’

Thanks dad.  For everything.




Fulsome Prison Blues

I hear the maid a comin
The tray’s around the bend
I ain’t had no champagne since
I don’t know when
I’m stuck in Fulsome Prison
And time keeps draggin on
But I just plucked my eyebrows
And I got my Prada on


When I was just a debutante
My mama told me ‘hon’
Always be a smart girl
Make sure you’re number one
But I married a man in Reno
Cause I thought we were in love
Six months later from our penthouse
I gave the old boy a shove
I bet there’s women shopping
And wearing fancy clothes
Dripping pearls and diamonds
From their heads down to their toes
Now I’m wearing prison denim
And boots that come from Sears
And my makeup’s getting smeary
From crying all these tears


The other women in here
Seem to have no sympathy
They seem to look right through me
As they sip their gourmet tea
They’re using my mascara
They snatched my ermine stole
My attorney says my best chance
Is to hope for early parole.
Well if they freed me from this prison
The first thing I would do
Is go to Bergdof Goodman
And blow a grand or two
On shoes and scarves and stockings
And maybe a diamond ring
And never think of Fulsome Prison
Or other icky things

Poem From a Non-functional Intellect

This is something I remember seeing in a high school yearbook decades ago.  It pretty much sums up my current cognitive and emotional state.
Can’t think, Brain numb                                                                                                                                               Inspiration won’t come                                                                                                                                                           Can’t write, bad pen                                                                                                                                                                      Best wishes, amen.



This is my brain on Saturday


It’s always surprising what lengths people will go to in order to remedy cabin fever.  This winter in the Northeast has seen a peculiar absence of snow, and people are more squirrelly than usual.  Also, there’s no winter Olympics to motivate people to allow their television to watch them for a few hours a night.  There’s the Super bowl, and March Madness is right around the corner, but that’s mostly television.

Just the other day I found myself running back and forth in the street dodging oncoming traffic with a nut tucked into my cheek, and decided I needed an outlet.  So, I hied myself and my spouse to the 12th Annual Saratoga Chowderfest.  At the Chowderfest, people from all over the area stand on line in the cold waiting to pay a buck for about four ounces of chowder, but a surprising variety of chowders.  We walked up and down Broadway and sampled clam chowder, lobster chowder, corn chowder, fish chowder, vegetarian chowder and even a chowder based on Mulligatawny. There is a ‘desert chowder’ from Ben and Jerry’s, and you can even get some chowder for your dog. There was something over sixty-five restaurants within walking distance of each other ladling out the lumpy, luscious liquid.

We tried eight or ten of them, and there was not a clunker in the bunch.  Lip smackin’ good, each and everyone.  And the best part is that I was shivering so much that I spilled some on my coat.  That will give me something to scrape off and savor for weeks to come.

Jury Duty

I spent three of the last four days in a courtroom, listening to testimony from several people who wanted a particular person to go to jail and a few others who just wanted to go home and forget about the whole affair.  Unfortunately, the ones who just wanted to go home and forget about the whole affair were the only ones who really knew what happened, and they weren’t talking.  They just wanted to go home and, well, you know the rest.

I won’t pile on details about the case, who did what, allegedly, who said what, allegedly, what happened after that, allegedly.  It is sufficient to know that one man ended up on the floor bleeding profusely from a wound to his cheek, and another man was soon taken to the police station in handcuffs.  It seemed to be important to many of the participants in this trial, especially the legal professionals, that this occurred on a Super Bowl Sunday.  I’m pretty sure this kind of thing can happen on Arbor Day, or Tapioca Pudding Tuesday, or quarter after high noon on Earth day.  The Super Bowl isn’t the only occasion when it seems appropriate to smack someone upside the head with a champagne glass.

After listening and looking at all of the evidence, I was pretty well convinced that the defendant was guilty, but it was not proved. In the tradition of American jurisprudence, the defense does not need to prove that he is not guilty; the prosecution has the burden of proof, and must prove it to the jury beyond a reasonable doubt. This was drummed into my head with such rhythm and prosody and consistency that it now sounds like; “Thedefensedoesnotneedtoprovethatheisnotguiltytheprosecutionhastheburdenofproofandmustproveittothejurybeyond areasonabledoubt.”

So, we had to follow the rules of the game that were developed in stuffy, airless courtrooms and have been embraced by stuffy, airless people for centuries.  In this particular contest, the prosecutor was not able dig up enough facts and evidence or witnesses to prove what happened during that half time show.  There was not much doubt about what happened, considering prior actions, proximity, motivation, alcohol, shouting, and outcome, but in the strictest sense, it was not proved.  There were no pictures, no video, no sound files, and no credible witness.  And so, in strict adherence to ‘the rules’, a wrong was not righted.  He was and will forever be considered ‘not guilty’.  This is different from being innocent, but those of us who don’t wear black robes or expensive suits don’t really understand why.

What we need here is a deus ex machina (I looked that one up in Wikipedia).  There ought to be some method, some agency or agent, that could step into these scenes and, like a cartoonist changing Snoopy from a pit bull into a beagle, and say, “Let’s just fix this.”  But there isn’t.  Well, not anymore.

That’s the thing that God used to do.  God, without a by-your-leave to anyone, frequently blew off the rules of the universe to ‘just fix’ something.  The world was corrupt, so he flooded it and only saved a few of the people (Although he forgot the unicorns).  The Jews needed to escape from Egypt, so he suspended gravity in a specific area for a little while to let them get across the Red Sea.  Hey, that Lazarus is a good guy, let’s raise him from the dead.  That kind of thing.

Of course there isn’t a method or agency or agent that anyone would trust with that kind of power.  Some modern day J. Edgar Hoover might take control and rule the universe wearing a frilly dress, and no one wants that.  So life happens (feel free to replace ‘life’ with your own four letter word).  Common sense takes a backseat to precedent.  Rules rise like floodwaters to drown the unicorns.  Instructions to the jury force you to break down what you know into tiny dissolvable packets of not quite truth.

The US judicial systems works remarkably well considering how skilled our species has become at dissembling.  And of course, no system is perfect (here’s a link to the OJ trial).  Nor do I have a deus ex machina in pocket that will make every trial come out right.  I only know from my experience this week that sometimes being the guy on the floor bleeding profusely from a wound to his cheek is only the beginning.


February is that short month, especially because it sits between tall January and wide, muscular March. It’s wimpy too.  Can’t really make up its mind.  ‘Oh, I don’t know.  Twenty-eight days, twenty-nine.  Gee, does this leap year make me look fat?’.  It’s such a poor excuse for a month that you really can’t help feeling sorry for it.  It isn’t completely barren, but close. The Super Bowl is kind of like molten gold that overflows a little from January into February but only because there was no more room in January. The Winter Olympics don’t happen one year, don’t happen the next, don’t happen the next, and then okay, its February again, time for the Winter Olympics.  ‘Olympics’ comes from the Greek word ‘Olympomodemiea’ which basically means any activity that will eventually cause someone to limp.  The winter version is a series of competitions comprised basically of sliding, sometimes with grace, and sometimes with sheer speed, but always with brightly colored designer uniforms.

“Everybody!  Attention everyone!  It’s time to get everyone up on the hill, that’s right, families of athletes too.  Let’s see, we’ll need skis and skates and sleds, um, snowboards too.  And some rifles and brooms.  I’ll explain about the rifles and brooms later.  It’s complicated.”

Presidents Day is in February as well.  A few think of it as Washington’s birthday, a few as Lincoln’s birthday.  Some think that Washington shot Lincoln at Henry Ford’s Theater on the Fourth of July while the Chinese were bombing Pearl Bailey. Anyone who takes the time to look it up realizes that it actually is celebrations for two former presidents that have been bundled together and air-lifted it to the third Monday in February. This serves two purposes; it gives us a three-day weekend, and saves us from trying to remember who they actually were.

Valentine’s Day, a made up holiday if there ever was one, was dropped into February because February had nothing else to spruce up the calendar page.  So, to brighten up the winter landscape, we get chocolate and hearts and naked babies and flowers and Hallmark.  And the color red.  Valentine’s Day, aka Saint Valentine’s Day, is placed pretty much dead center in the month, at the heart of it, so to speak, probably so it doesn’t get lost.

Cupid, in Greek called Eros, is the symbol of Valentine’s Day.  He is depicted as a child, often an infant, with a bow and arrow capable of creating love between two people where apathy and indifference existed before.  Personally, I think there is a lot to be said for apathy and indifference between the sexes.  Makes for a lot less violence on Saturday nights.

Below is one of the most sacred and beloved poems of the Middle Ages that sums up the legend of Cupid in only eight lines:

Cupid is a little tyke

Who sports a bow and arrow

If he shoots you through the heart

You’ll feel love to your marrow


The bastard shot me years ago

And love made me so stupid

I married a widow with 9 small kids

I’d like to strangle cupid

So February lurches through its abbreviated existence, or slides through it, wearing a brightly colored designer outfit and stopping occasionally to aim and shoot an arrow.  A naked baby flies overhead poking the tops of chocolates to find the one with the peanut butter center.   Meanwhile, George Washington, writing a greeting card to Abraham Lincoln, stares out the window of his monument and dreams of Spring.