I Watched a Movie

1 August 2015

There is a time for every
purpose under heaven.

Just watched a really grim, depressing movie. It was about a post-menopausal spinster of an English professor who has an incurable and intractable case of cancer. She dies miserably. Her last conscious moments were dominated by pain. Excruciating, unendurable pain. Then the coma, then death. Christ!

When I was in the cancer ward after my operation, I had to walk the hall, pushing my IV stand, which also served as a walking staff. Hobbling along, bent over and clutching my incision, I peered in those rooms with open doors to see what I could see. Of course cancer wards are filled mostly with old people, though the occasional youngster will show up once in a while. I didn’t encounter any youngsters during my stay, Providence be thanked. Just old timers.

Old timers? I was fifty-eight at the time. Not so old from my perspective today. Today I’m, seventy-three.

When I had the cancer cut out, I rebounded with surprising verve and vigor. I went back into the business world and more than held up my end of the bargain. Dr. G. told me I would have lots of years ahead of me, though with certain diminished capacities, thanks to the operation’s side effects.

Well, now I’ve had those years, fifteen to be exact, and I find myself in a strange place – outré really – where life is becoming . . . ephemeral.

I look out the window and the old familiar sights have a strangeness to them. Not unpleasant, you understand, just strange. A fatigue of the spirit is the cause. I fear I’m getting ready to move on.

I might succumb to this fatigue and let a pleasant apathy take over were it not for Jo. Oh, she’s quite resilient. She’d shed a few tears if I croaked but Jo’d soon move on. Good For Her.

But I know my kicking the bucket would work a hardship on her nevertheless. So I want to stick around as long as I can to be her (there is no better word for it) companion.

And she, mine.

The late John Denver had a song in which he sang “Turns me on to think of growing old”. Well, he’s full of shit. There’s nothing nice about it. The only thing making it bearable is that little knowledge in the background somewhere that whispers, “Not too much longer, Merlin. Best keep a bag packed”.

I’ve let everything go. Hate, hate, moving the fucking lawn. Always have, but I used to be able to do it without complaint. Now I bitch. I used to keep the house spick-and-span too, but like a lot of other old goats, I’m letting my home go to wrack and ruin. Don’t dust, don’t vacuum, don’t wash the floors, don’t clean the windows, don’t paint. Don’t even change the bed sheets often enough. However I still manage to shower on a regular basis and wipe my ass properly so I’m not too far gone, I guess.

Ah, but I keep the cars clean and maintained. That I enjoy. If I can no longer drive, that’ll be it. I’ll chug a fifth of good Scotch and put a dry cleaning bag over my head.

Well enough of these goddamned cancer movies. Cancer movies now join my brown-list along with slave movies and any movie with Meryl Streep. I’ll not watch any of them. All three are bummers. Why do I watch this kind of crap, anyway?

-Merlin-


he Came to America

22 July 2015

He came to America by jumping a fence, swimming across a river, hanging from the undercarriage of a railroad car, locked in the trailer of a semi, nestled in the wheel well of a jet plane or by some other harrowing conveyance.  He came here because there was nothing for him at home.  Nada.  Zilch.

He had no regular income.  What he did make was chump-change paid him by an overlord, a gringo ex-pat, a drug dealer . . .  Some ignoble source.

His mother had lost all the teeth on one side of her mouth.  His dad could no longer stand fully erect as the years of stoop labor messed up his spine. His girlfriend had a couple of health problems of her own but no money for a doctor.

His house was a shack.  The lawn was a patch of hard packed earth in which nothing grew, not even weeds.  Drinking water came from a dirty well. Diarrhea was a weekly visitor thanks to the broken refrigerator (the compressor conked out two years before).

His prospects consisted of the same-old-same-old until age, disease or misfortune carried him off.

He had to get out.  To go somewhere where there was at least the possibility of better times.  So one hot morning, he announced his decision to all and sundry, bid them farewell, picked up his bindle and said goodby.  Probably forever.

Now he’s here, picking vegetables and fruits at a series of sweltering California farms.  But he makes more money than he ever thought possible.  So much that he sends half back to his family.

He’s a wetback.  A beaner. A greaser.  An illegal immigrant.  He goes by many names.

And The Donald [Trump] doesn’t like him.  A lot of people don’t.  They figure he’s here to simply take a swig from the public tit.  But he’s not.  Why would anyone leave his family, his home, his sweetheart, his community and his country simply to pick lettuce?  I sure as hell wouldn’t.   He’s here because he had no hope.  Last year, a survey of the Mexican people showed 56% wanted to leave.  The USofA with their first choice of destination followed by Anywhere Else.

The problem of illegal Mexicans can be laid at the feet of a Mexican government that is feckless and corrupt to the bone.  It has utterly failed its people.  The Mexican government has been bedeviled by tin-pot dictators, parasites, strongmen and a party that kept its power for seventy years, thanks to rigged elections, bribery and, sometimes, murder.  The Mexican government was so weak and rudderless that in the 1800s, it actually hired an emperor from Italy to come in and run things – Maximilian III – then promptly murdered him in coup d’etat.

And so it went, and so it goes.

Not long ago, we agreed to NAFTA in hopes it might bring prosperity to that benighted country.  It didn’t.  With a few notable exceptions, Mexico is as wretched and corrupt today as it was before, its people living in penury and want.

But there is a solution, one that will probably be welcomed by the people: Install an American regency.

Throw out the toads and install an American regent in the statehouse.  It worked in Japan, Germany and Italy after WW II.  General Eisenhower dictated the German constitution, General McArthur dictated Japan’s.  They ran those countries well, leaving functional governments in place when they left.

And look at Germany and Japan now.

I say bring in the American Army to distribute food and clean water and medical care.  The Corps of Engineers can build roads, power plants and schools.  And universities.  As quickly as possible, vet suitable candidates for government positions and bring them aboard.  Cleanse the land of organized crime, including the corporate kind, establishing really harsh penalties for violators.

Within six years – seven, tops – the hoard of illegal Mexican’s that flooded in, will flood back out.  They’ll go back to their homes, their families, their sweethearts & friends, their communities & country, for by then there will be hope and opportunity.

The fences will come down, the border will be open and everyone will be happy.  Even The Donald.

-Merlin-


A Way Out for The Greeks?

16 July 2015

So Greece has rolled over and played dead for the European Union.  Greece will now be the vassal state of Germany and to a lesser extent, France, and to an even lesser extent, the remainder of the Euro powers, e.g., Latvia.

The problem of being a vassal state is your masters use you the way the Roman Empire used its provinces: A low-cost source of labor and resources exploited to the fullest.  Many in Rome felt grinding the provinces into the dirt was just a dandy idea. However, in talking about Rome’s relationship with the provinces, no less a person than Tiberius Caesar said, “I want my sheep shorn, not shaven”.

Look back at the Biblical times and you see Rome’s vassal states, like Israel and Assyria, still had their own local governments and economies, but Rome called the shots and drained those countries’ through heavy taxation and slave labor. Today, with Greece and the EU, it’s pretty much the same arrangement, but without the slave labor.

They didn’t get shaved, but the Greeks sure got shorn.

So what can Greece do now?  Let’s look to the past.

My dad was born in 1899 so he was in his prime years when the Great Depression hit.  He told me how the economy was in the toilet and that all of FDR’s mighty New Deal achievements helped, but the Depression lingered on.

Then, unintentionally, we hit on the sure-fire way to get a stalled economy working: War.  For four years, America worked 7/24/52 to build stuff that was then promptly thrown away — shot from the skies, sunk in the oceans and blown up on land.  Economically speaking, WWII was one vast make-work project.  Of course there were 407,300 casualties too, don’t forget.  In any case, at war’s end, America was the economic Colossus bestriding the Earth.

Did we have austerity here at home like the Greeks are having now?  Yes, but it was self-imposed.  Everything was rationed and Victory Gardens bloomed in almost every yard and commons.  Housewives worked the armaments factories.  Ma even saved bacon grease and brought it to a collection place at the grocery store; it was used to make gunpowder.  There was a central government authority that saw to it the austerity was felt by everyone so all Americans felt each person pulled his or her share of the load.  Taxes went up and almost no one objected to paying them.  Government bonds were sold and everybody bought them.  Huge deficits were run up too, but the prosperity at war’s end took care of that.  And what wasn’t taken care of was handled by printing more money.

Could the Greeks pull-off something like this?  Lift themselves up by their own bootstraps?  Quite possibly.  All they need to get the ball rolling is understanding two things. One, that they are in a war of survival against a european empire much like old Rome. Two, a nation’s wealth is the product of its peoples’ labors.  That this second point is true is demonstrated by the old barter system, i.e., “I’ll work for you, doing what I do best, if you’ll work for me, doing what you do best”.  No currency required.

So, then, the Greeks could repudiate their debt, kick the EU to the curb, reintroduce their own currency, or maybe use the dollar a la Venezuela, and put the country on a war footing.  Undertake vast public works projects that get everyone, and I mean everyone, involved. Create an actual honest-to-gosh labor shortage. If you don’t have a private sector job, you’ll be out on the road, swinging a pickaxe on a government project.  And, most importantly, you’ll get paid.

People won’t live high on the hog for a while.  Indeed there will be austerity but only on a personal level.  You can have a Victory Garden of your own as opposed to the grocery store but all the while the Greek government will build, build, build.  Employment will probably be at 110%, like it was here during the war.  In four years’ time, Greece could be wealthy once again.

Sure, the EU can make a billion-and-one reasons against this but you know, sometimes you’ve just got to take a winger.

-Merlin-


A Reasonable Proposal

16 July 2015

Last week, out in our neck of the woods, three more people (read: teen-aged punks) got plugged in a parking lot war.  No news there.  Happens every day.  And once again the anti-gun crowd will make its usual and useless noises.  We must understand: Gun control will never fly – at least not inside twenty years and it’s a long shot even then.  Still, it would be nice to have some peace and quiet and not have people sleeping in their bath tubs as armor against stray rounds coming through the walls, thanks to the Gunfight at The OK Corral taking place in the alley.

What to do, what to do.

Well, how about a bit of education?  We are always talking about education as the ticket to a life of ease and plenty, right?  We feel that knowing a bit of algebra and some trigonometry will help a person figure things out.  The American language is a good subject too.  So is Civics (or Social Studies; it goes by many names).  Sometimes students even get a smattering of law.  And of course, PhyEd, where a kid can get his skull crushed playing America’s favorite sport.

I maintain we should add a new subject to the middle school curriculum: Firearms 101.  It would be mandatory and would work like this.

First  An NRA-certified instructor or state cop will explain the finer points of firearms, how they work and what they do.  Perhaps even delving into firearms as recreation (skeet, trap, target . . .).  Bring in a deactivated hunting rifle, shotgun, revolver and an automatic.  Show the kids how to handle them.   Let them get some hands-on time with the firearms.

Second  Bring in an ER doctor who can put on a show-and-tell about crippling and fatal gunshot wounds.  Lots of blood and guts and the more the better.  A few pictures of gunshot suicides would be salutary as well.  I think this section must also include a real-life video of what happens to a living thing when it gets shot — put a .22 round through a rabbit, say.

Third  Next comes a psychologist, “You know why you wanna gun?  I’ll tell you why you wanna gun!”.  This will be a disquisition on why kids – and the kinds of kids – hanker to be on the public streets packing a .40 S&W and thinking they’re Billy The Kid.

Fourth  A prosecutor from the Attorney General’s office comes in to talk about the law.  What constitutes the various degrees of  manslaughter and murder, and the prison sentences attendant thereto.  Show some pictures of old, dejected, used-up cons sitting in the prison yard and tell the kids, “You shoot someone?  I’ll do this to you.  You are warned.”

And finally  If (when) the instructors see some student sitting there with bright hot eyes, licking his lips and drooling with anticipation, or he or she seems to fit the profile of school and mall shooters, as well as the kind who’ll blow away the girlfriend and her family, he or she is packed off to the school nurse straightaway.  The cops will be called as well.

There will be no quizzes, no tests, no finals and no grades.  And as I said, attendance will be mandatory.

-Merlin-

 


BUMPTIOUS – Word of The Day, 8 July 2015

8 July 2015

bumptious  /ˈbəm(p)SHəs/  adjective  Self-assertive or proud to an irritating degree. Examples:

1.  Donald Trump, when he toots his own horn and fires people on his dreadful “reality show” comes across as an especially bumptious fool.  But now he’s lost his TV show, thanks to the scurrilities he fired off against Mexicans.  A few days later, the head of The Donald’s TV network, NBC, called The Donald into the office, pointed a finger at him and said, “You’re Fired”.  How delicious.

2.  Cousin Maggie, a bumptious sort, went to Claudia’s wedding where she got in everyone’s face, crowing on-and-on about her job as Vice President, then got drunk and did a face-plant into the wedding cake.

3.  Billy-Bob, the school’s quarterback was a bumptious turd who never tired of sitting down at other peoples’ tables, helping himself to their pizzas and recounting his latest conquests in the back seat of his old Chevy.

4.  Thomas Jefferson, a bumptious house-proud fop is famous for saying “all men are created equal”.  And he meant it too –except for the men he kept chained to a nail-making machine in the slave quarters.  Flogged them too, he did.  Though not much by contemporary standards.

-Merlin-


EXCRESENCE – Word of The Day, 6 July 2016

6 July 2015

excresence  /ˌikˈskresəns/ noun  1. A distinct outgrowth on a human or animal body or on a plant, especially one that is the result of disease or abnormality.  2. An unattractive or superfluous addition or feature. Examples:

1.  The fleshy, knobbly and hairy excresence on little Jimmy’s shoulder grew so large that people at the state fair wanted to put him in a tent and show him off as the Two Headed Boy.

2.  Dan Quayle was considered an unpleasant excresence on the Bush presidency.  Sadly, this excresence couldn’t be burned-off with an electric needle.

-Merlin-

 PS: This is our wedding anniversary so we are taking a day trip to Mt. St. Helens.

Mt St Helens

 


MINX – Word of The Day, 3 July 2015

3 July 2015

minx  /mingks/  noun  1. A pet. 2, A wanton woman, impudent and flirtatious.  Examples:
 .
1.  Jasper was sitting in his grandpa’s den watching the game when his 11-year old cousin, Guenevere sat on his lap and blew in his ear.  Why the little minx!
 .
2.  Cyrus kept his mistress, the minx Wilhelmina, cosseted in a downtown penthouse and paid all her bills.
.
-Merlin-

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