Category Archives: angry rant

Pontification

Yes, I am guilty. Yes, I will probably do a lot of it in this essay. Do I make stuff up out of thin air to support my pontifications? Well, I try not to… most of the time.

That bit of pontification I just shared is not mine. It’s Vonnegut’s. But it is pontification never-the-less.

To be fair, this manner of delivering information, founded on the basis of revealed Divine authority (as if I were the Pope) is not an evil thing… if it is not misused to propagate misinformation and lies. It is often used to convey moral imperatives and Christian values. And to be fair to me, I rarely pontificate unless I am joking and don’t mean to be taken seriously.

Never-the-less I am often told that my fiction is didactic and my essays tend to hold forth with my convictions and conclusions as if they were revealed to me in a visitation from a burning bush or something.

From my humble perspective, however, I wish to point out that I have, through years of teaching experience and encounters with grave issues that affect health and wealth and happiness, learned a few things the hard way that count as wisdom. I would offer the defense that, in spite of what my wife would tell you, I am NOT always wrong about everything. (I am maybe only wrong about most things.) And as such, my opinions, backed up with facts and anecdotes, are sometimes worth listening to.

As I am probably not going to overcome my habit of pontificating any time soon, I should probably warn you about some of the things I have been thinking about of late that I am likely to pontificate about in upcoming blogs. Here are just a few;

  1. Bad things that happen to Good People are what actually turn them into Good People.
  2. The reverse is not always true. Good things happening to Bad People can worsen them, but they become Bad People when the good thing we are talking about is getting away with doing something bad.
  3. The world is coming to its end. Of course, it is always coming to its end, until it reaches its endpoint at which it probably won’t end and then the prophets of doom will have to pick a new Doomsday that probably won’t end it either… though it might.
  4. The St. Louis Blues hockey team gets to be Stanley Cup Champions for two years in a row because of the pandemic. COVID 19 was only 99% a bad thing.
  5. If you are a three-inch tall fairy warrior, a rabbit as your faithful steed is better than riding rooster-back. That’s because if the spell wears off your mighty steed, the rabbit won’t mistake you for a bug and eat you. (But never disguise yourself as a carrot to hide from humans while riding rabbit-back.)

So, I admit to having bouts of rabid pontification. But I would argue that it is a very natural bad habit for a retired school teacher to have. Up until my retirement I regularly delivered the Word of God (as filtered through the Texas State Board of Education) to kids in a classroom.

They would often respond, “Oh, God! Not again!”

To which I would answer, “I am not God. If I were, there would be lightning right now.”

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All That Really Matters

I was not able to post yesterday for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is the turmoil caused by this nation trying to come to terms with those sins of the past that come back to haunt us and hunt us in the present.

I am an old white man. I suffer from “white privilege” in ways I can’t explain to some of my white friends back in Iowa, a State that was almost entirely white when I was growing up there. (And I pray that I grew UP, not just old.)

I learned yesterday that it matters how you put in order the things that you can say on matters of race. You can’t just say, “Black lives matter” to some white people. They will angrily insist that “All lives matter.” They will then proceed to tell you that you are being a racist when you suggest that black people are somehow more important than white people. I learned that you should say instead, “All lives matter, which means black lives certainly matter too. And the debate now is about a few recent black lives that were treated like they didn’t matter, and so, their lives ended in being murdered.” You can’t give white people a reasonable-sounding way to get out of admitting that, or they will. (See, I can be a bit racist too. I sometimes have a hard time believing all white people have positive human feelings in them somewhere.)

My illustrations for this post all came from Pinterest.

It has often, in my teaching career, been a disadvantage to be a white male. Black kids don’t believe you can see them as a good person. If you have to call them down for misbehavior, the worst ones will automatically assume it is about their race and not their behavior. A good teacher needs to listen more than they talk. You have to get them to open up about what happens in their lives that makes them behave the way that they do. You have to make them understand that you actually care about them and want to help. You have to earn their trust to get their best learning behavior. And being white makes that all so much harder. Not just with Afro Americans. Hispanic kids too. Vietnamese kids too. And I promise you, if you take the time to really get to know a kid… from any race or culture… you will discover that underneath it all, there are no bad kids. You stand a very good chance of learning to love them… no matter their racial or cultural differences from you.

And as an old white man, I suffer the disadvantage of never being able to truly understand what it feels like to have to worry that, at any moment, the police might kill you with a gun, or press the life out of you with a knee on your neck… just because of the color of your skin. That is in no way a fair thing that black men, black women, and black kids have to worry about that.

I am saddened and frustrated too that I can’t do any more to correct this terrible injustice than I am doing. I can’t attend protests because of my poor health and the pandemic that will probably kill me anyway. I am too old and crippled and broke to do any more than write this essay and post things on social media that make some of my old white friends angry and ready to argue.

I feel bad. The deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile, and too many more diminish me, make me hurt in my heart. And all I can do about it is tell you that there needs to be more love in this world, and less hate. And I hope maybe you have a little more of it to add to the world. After all, that’s all that really matters.

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Filed under 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion, angry rant, commentary, compassion, empathy, kids, Liberal ideas, philosophy, racial profiling

Polly Ticks

Politics are complicated. Our economic and quality-of-life issues are basically killing us during this pandemic. And you cannot blame it all on the Simian in Chief. Or even on his Mean Monkey Party (GOP stands for Greedy Old Primates). They get a lot more of the justified blame than they are willing to accept without a lot of monkey howls and poop throwing. But not all the greedy evil people are Monkey Party People. There are definite problems with the black spots on the armor of the white knights we were depending on to slay the dragons.

The problems with Herr Twitler, the Chaos Clown have only gotten worse. We failed to hold him responsible for any of the many crimes he has committed. Impeached, but turning impeachment into peachy pie, Trumpalumpa the Oompaloompa is now able to do anything his manic monkey mind can conjure up for him to use against us. We suffer for the crimes of being poor, or a minority, or an immigrant. No matter what he does to us, he will get away with it, and then take away the whistle-blowers’ whistles and turn all Inspectors General into blind-folded privates.

And if I die from Covid 19, the terrible Trumpinator will not exactly be convicted of murder. But he is directly responsible. After Ebola there was an extensive pandemic playbook and procedures and protocols in place for the next health crisis. But because the Trumptastic Trumpaloo detected Obama-cooties on it, he threw it all away and fired the special task force and pandemic office.

And it is not even fun to make fun of him anymore. Nothing that used to be funny can still create even a wan smile. And how much of this is my fault?

I voted all Democrats in the last election. I have called most of my Republican, Trumpatater-loving friends doody-heads enough to alienate all of them (though admittedly I used a number of big words so that they don’t know what they mean). I have explained the problems with Trumpapalama and his minions like Devos and Barr on social media until I’m blue in the face, and purple on the inside. But none of that gets rid of the pumpkin-headed Cheeto-man.

I even need to get some of these dividers for the family dinner table. I am beginning to prefer lyme-disease ticks over Polly Ticks. I have had way too much of my blood sucked out these last four years.

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Mickey’s Somewhat Pretty Okay Not Rotten Weekend

I have had a rough time since the pandemic began. I still get my pension check at the beginning of each month… for now. So, I am a lot better off than those whose jobs were taken away by the lock-down. But I did lose all potential income from substitute teaching. And the plumbing in the house is still aging badly, sprouting leaks everywhere that I have no money to fix with professional plumbers. I can barely afford Fix-it Tape which only slows a leak and does not completely end it. Notice I said “leaks”, not “leeks”. Onions I can defeat. But water is not my element to master.

Today my faithful microwave, the one that I had for four years in my last classroom, gave out. A spark and some smoke and she cooks no more.

But it is not all bad news.

My wife secretly has two more microwaves in her secret evidence-of-hoarding-disorder stash. She let me use one. She also found a leak-clamp for temporarily staunching leaky pipes at Home Depot where I haven’t dared to go in the pandemic because of my diabetes and high blood pressure. So, the weekend was slightly more un-yuckified than I expected.

And this weekend I was having a free-book promotion for A Field Guide to Fauns. I was expecting to give away too few free books again. I expected the Twitter writing community to turn up their noses because it is a story about a family of nudists living in a nudist park. But the Twitter nudists that follow me because of Recipes for Gingerbread Children were delighted. I gave away more books in the first two days of the promotion than I have given away in any other promotion.

It feels good to have someone reading my books, even if they are naked when they read it.

And I have reached a point where I am relatively certain, without being tested, that the illness I have been feeling is all just diabetes and allergies, and I have not yet fallen ill with Covid 19.

So, I can honestly say that I feel very… Meh, okay right now. Better than expected, and a lot better than dead.

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Now is the Winter of Our Discontent…

I am not Richard the Third. But I did do that soliloquy in college for my class in oral interpretation and got an “A” for it. I can channel those who think they have been wronged. I know whereof they speak… forsooth.

If you are not happy with the President’s handling of the pandemic and economic crisis, (and if you are happy, I hope your recent lobotomy is giving you some peace and rest) you are not alone. The Sun of York has not been the right answer.

I am not, however, a dissembler like Richard. I have no plot to remedy the discontent. I can only tell the truth. I will probably die of the virus before this pandemic passes. I honestly do not fear death. I do fear for loved ones who are also at risk. But while I do not welcome death, it will not find me with any sort of burden of regret. I have been an honorable man. I have taught children, and acquitted myself well of the task. I have been a passable husband and father. I have committed serious acts of art… as well as numerous less-than-serious ones. This is not a suicide note. This is simply me declaring myself at peace with the universe.

And this is also me declaring that I once again am unwell. I don’t think it is the virus. I have been extremely careful. But this one stalks more successfully than the H1N1 and various bird flus that I have previously survived. And I always seem to get whatever serious virus is passing around.

Still, it is probably not the Coronavirus that currently has me sick and in bed. No fever. Only chest pain, headaches, and nausea. I also have a variety of other pains, mostly psoriasis in nature, but also some other internal ones. I could be suffering from prostate cancer, heart disease, or mini-strokes brought on by diabetes. My eyes are going bad. And I am not going to any doctors because of the risk of infection in the doctor’s office and the expenses that health insurance expects me to pay for myself. (I hope this pandemic eats all of Aetna’s lunches for the rest of the year.) There are plenty of ways that this current health crisis can do me in. I will endeavor to die at home on my own terms. And I will try to stay alive long enough to vote the bast***s out of office.

I apologize that Mickey wasn’t funny today. Sometimes he needs to complain a little. Even Richard the Third was down and blue in between villainies. And he ended on one really bad day at Bosworth Field.

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Dusted and Down

I did some house-cleaning today. The ceiling fan in the kitchen was filthy. It had grease from cooking on the nearby stove top all over the blades. And embedded in the grease was dirt and grime. So, it had to be scrubbed with Clorox. And I am allergic to Clorox. So, now I am done for the day. My lungs hurt. And it is hard to think. But I am not dying today from that. I am pretty sure the virus that has us shut up in the house has other plans for me.

But not everything is bad. Dust is bad. I am allergic to that too. Yet, I have now gotten 1,800 followers on WordPress. And somebody is using Amazon Prime to read more than one of my books. The pennies are rolling in on my Amazon author’s dashboard. Number one son has a serious girlfriend. Number two son has a work-at-home job that he is doing right now. And my daughter, the Princess, is helping her mother to finish cleaning the fan.

As part of my quest to rewrite AeroQuest as a comedy-science-fiction series, I am rereading the first book in the series.

Rereading your own work can be surprisingly rewarding in unusual ways. When I was working on that novel and reading and re-reading each section and Canto, I really began to hate the writing. It is my worst work so far. And yet, after plenty of time to forget how awful it seemed at the time, I find myself laughing at the jokes again. I know I am a notoriously un-critical critic. But I also am convinced I am a good writer, and even my bad books are better than I usually think. Now, if only somebody else would read them.

Work continues on AeroQuest 3.

So, even if I am a little bit down and blue, I am not out yet. The Dust wlll not win.

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On the Fritz

On this Star Wars Day (May the 4th be with you) I am a little perturbed that practically everything, including Star Wars, is on the fritz. My computer is on the fritz. It starts all sorts of programs and actions within programs without being prompted by a keystroke or click command. The picture I posted at the start of this essay had to be downloaded from Google twice because it downloaded the wrong selection for no reason. And then it had to be pasted into the block editor twice also because the first attempt failed to finish the transition.

Of course, for something “to be on the fritz” and be well understood, it would help if we knew the origin of the phrase. Unhelpfully, no one really knows how it was initially used. Was it a reference to something about Germans? “Fritz” was a common nickname for German soldiers in two world wars. But probably not. Germans are not always haywire.

I think it far more likely that the word is an onomatopoeia for the sound a radio makes when there is a short, it sparks, and then malfunctions, if not catches fire. That seems to me to be a much more fitting image to use for the way my computer works today with its faulty keyboard, and/or mouse pad. It also is a fitting definition for the condition our economy is in due to the pandemic.

But on this Star Wars Day, it is the most apt phrase to describe what has been done to the Star Wars Saga. Don’t get me wrong. I am an uncritical critic. I loved the Rise of Skywalker in the movie theater. The images and the action were great. But the writer in me did not appreciate how wires were crossed in the making of the latest trilogy. The resulting dumpster fire, while colorful and visually entertaining, caused the power of the story to be definitely “on the fritz”.

Character arcs were ruined. Kylo Ren went from evil secondary antagonist to big bad to heroic turn-around to… what? His character dies and disappears at the end. Why? How did he complete his arc?

Rey went from child of nobody to Jedi to possible Sith Lord to…? Where does she end up? Palpatine tells her if she kills him, his spirit will infuse her with Super Dark Side Power. She kills him anyway? Will she now try to destroy the universe in the next trilogy?

And what did Finn do besides ride a horse-thing in space?

But I’m not complaining. Even if the pandemic is going to kill me shortly, I have had a good life. I have seen all the Marvel movies so far. I taught English to well over 2,000 kids in a thirty-year teaching career. I wrote fifteen novels that I published. And no amount of sparks, fire, or fritzing is capable of changing all of that.

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From an Alternative Point of View

These are not my two sons. The picture was drawn fifteen and ninteen years before they were born. Yet they were my two sons in the cartoon story this picture was lifted from.

Am I literally able to fortell the future? Of course not. But as an overly-sensitive artistical type one could argue that there is evidence in my art and writings that my reality now was at least partially embedded in my consciousness many years ago.

Estellia the Demoness

And truthfully, looking at the truth of things based on empirical evidence is what this point-of-view post is all about. We cannot always rely on the traditional concepts of good and evil as they have been taught to us. Sometimes you have to look at how the evidence stacks up properly, and just plain intuit a new way of seeing the whole picture. Yes, this is a portrait of a fifteen-year-old former student of mine. And she was definitely evil and difficult to deal with. But she went into nursing after high school. She works in the ER where her decisive ways and ferocious insistence on having things work out in her favor because that’s the way the established rules say it must be done turn into positive qualities that are probably saving lives in a Texas hospital as we speak. It is all in how you perceive the truth of a situation and then apply it.

Comedy, of course, depends greatly on rearranging your point of view. If you are going to make a joke about something, you have to re-mix and un-match the details in ways that still make a sort of sense to the reader or the hearer of the joke. I have taught at schools like Dudwhittler’s. If you are a teacher, you recognize that that school bus carries not only that which is funny, but also that which is very true. The teacher driving the bus is a tin man who easily rusts and cries too much, thus rusting further, but you can see he has earned his heart, even if he has to drive the bus on top of teaching so he will have enough money to buy food.

But probably the most anticipated thing from a new perspective that you were expecting since reading the title is a new perspective on the Coronavirus shut-down and economic depression. That alternative take is simply this… the pandemic, though extremely hard and painful, is a good thing that happened at the right time.

I am willing to say this, even though the way the virus has been mishandled in this country is going to very likely be the death of me, because there are benefits that we simply don’t recognize without a thorough punch to the gut and another to loose teeth.

It is a good thing because it will make it harder for Herr Fuhrer Pumpkinhead to win the next election, and he will probably take a number of corrupt Republicans down to the bottom of the sea with him.

It is a good thing because it is proving to us that we can survive on less and still make our way out of the bad situation.

It is a good thing because kids get extra time off from school, and probably also the chance to spend more time with the people who really teach them things we need them to know… like parents, grandparents on Zoom, teachers who don’t fear distance-learning technology, and trolls on the internet (Yes, I know that last one is risky and mainly learning the hard way, but it is also true from before the virus hit).

It is a good thing because the air is cleaner. And we have proven that we can make radical adjustments when it is a matter of life and death. And the environmental crisis is actually a matter of life and death.

So, now I’ve had my twisted say about my pretzel-minded perspective. And so you can now trash it, or possibly learn to like pretzels.

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Snarks and Snags

I am from Texas, but this is not me.

I am really not fond of people telling me how to live my life and what I should be doing differently. Especially when the thrower of verbal stones lives in houses made of metaphorical glass.

This particular angry-old-coot rant was inspired by the bitter old octogenarian in the park sitting on a park bench trying to catch coronavirus. She watched me as I walked my female dog. Then, when Jade squatted to pee and expel a couple of gallons of canine message-juice for the benefit of male dogs sniffing grass everywhere, the angry old crone points at the wet spot and hollers, “Pick it up!”

I shrugged and showed her my handful of poo-plucking plastic. “I didn’t bring a sponge!” I quipped back at her.

“Pick it up!” she screeched.

“It’s PEE!” I coot-howled without profanity.

The dippy old cat lady didn’t understand the difference between how male dogs pee (hind leg pointed skyward) and how female dogs do it (back legs carefully folded out of the way like a dainty lady and back end pressed to the ground}. Either that, or she was just so far gone in her senile viciousness that she really desired me to scrape up all the urine-soaked mud from under the grass.

I am aware that tempers are sparked to life by the flint and steel of crisis management, and these are dark times under the threat of death-viruses in Texas public parks.

And somebody is out there telling us what to do (I won’t mentioned the names of any current Presidents of the United States going to war in orange warpaint to make tons of money off of Hydroxychloroquine made by a company partially owned by an orange-faced moron criminal) in ways that may get us killed by the pandemic just so he can restart the economy early enough to get re-elected and stay out of prison.

Okay… enough angry ranting by dog-walking crazy old coots today. i managed not to get in any fist-fights with cranky old cat ladies today, a feat I should be proud of because she would’ve beaten me to death with her multi-footed cane. And I didn’t mention the moron criminal’s actual name today, so the NSA should leave me unharmed too.

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The Truth is…

  • The truth is… this pandemic will not be the end of the world even if it is the end of me.
  • The truth is… if we don’t learn some fundamental things about ourselves, the whole world won’t survive very long after the pandemic is over. We have only a few short years to get our environmental act straight.
  • The truth is… the people who are most in control of our world have far more than their reasonable share of the wealth and power in this world, and it is not fair and healthy for our society.
  • The truth is… too often it is the selfish, narcissistic people of the world who rise to the top, and they have no compassion or regard for the rest of us.
  • The truth is… we have to change things. And violence is not the most effective answer. But besides extraordinary acts of heroism and ultimate grace from unnoticed individuals, it may be the only answer we have left. The good things Obama tried were mostly shouted down and defeated by the corrupt and greedy among us. The power of the vote may have been completely undermined.
  • The truth is… wisdom only comes through time and hard experience. If you don’t face hardships, you will never learn how to deal with hardships. That is the gift we are being given by this pandemic.
  • The truth is… our leader at this moment is a criminal. He has stolen wealth from the American people and wrecked parts of the government that are essential to the American way of life as we have always known it. And in his incompetence, he has done things and failed to do things that have caused people’s deaths in this pandemic.
  • The truth is… Trump needs to be prosecuted and put in prison once we have removed him from office.
  • The truth is… if we don’t do something to solve these problems and fix these things, we don’t deserve to survive as a species.
  • The truth is… the Truth is sometimes a very hard thing to hear.

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