Category Archives: grumpiness

The Price We Pay

It is becoming obvious that the American experiment with democracy is now over… In fact, it has been over for quite a while.  We can no longer even claim that this is actually a Republic in the sense that the Roman government began as a Republic.  The current emperor, Emperor Bumpkin Pumpkinhead, has no clothes.  The oligarchs own the government, and we are headed down serious paths of fascism and chaos and potential civil war.  We have the Devil to pay for our economic sins, and many of us will be swallowed whole before the end of it.

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I have known since the 1980’s that Reagan’s supply-side theory of trickle-down economics, more aptly titled Voodoo Economics, was a monumentally bad idea.  If you let the rich folks get richer and capable of buying absolutely anything, they will sooner or later buy the government and rewrite the rules to allow them to do anything they want.  That is the system we have right now.  Anything the idle rich want… That’s the reason we are saddled with Trump right now, the fattest jockey that ever broke a horse’s back.  And some of the rich folks who want anything and everything they can afford are truly demented and psychotic, backed up by years of getting their way even in putrid, evil ways.

The reason that the Republican government is so hot to cut taxes for the wealthy is to continue the wealth-redistribution program of the Reagan years.  Apparently the anointed few deserve all the rewards the economy has to give even though they do little besides horde their money and buy politicians who will continue to help them rake more in.  Meanwhile the rest of us continue to slave for them doing all the work under oppressive debt burdens that keep us under control.

24294271_844430295763808_6294495221275275142_n Of course, “Why should anyone believe me of all people?” is definitely the question.  I am only a retired school teacher who spent a career finding and verifying information, followed by a simple and clearly-defined presentation of the information to be learned.  I have revealed myself in this blog to have the letter “L” on my forehead for “liberal” which translate into Republicanese as “loser”.   And that’s where we will stay if we don’t fight back.

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So, how do we fight back?  For one thing, we have to vote.  Current policies and beliefs of the administration do not reflect the will of the people.  The general consensus about health care and taxes is not even considered by the Bozos in charge of the circus.  And we probably won’t win in the coming elections, because, through gerrymandering, voter suppression, and outright cheating the Republican right always gets its own way.   But that should stir us to further action… doing things like I am doing here, using my innate ability to use hyperbole and doofy jokery to spread the word and stir up outrage.  Better than angry fascist propaganda, right?

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Haven’t we, by now, had enough of what Ronnie Raygun wanted?  Isn’t it time we considered what we want?  …What we need?

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Und So Weiter…

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Page Publishing finally has my novel in page design.  I am hoping to actually seeing a physical book in print, though I am no longer in any way confident that such a thing will actually happen.  The more time that passes, the more I find out about Page being a scammer-type publisher.  The mistakes they made in my work in editing were apparently on purpose.  Now that I have threatened to sue them, I am hoping they will no longer try to sabotage my book to the point they can extort money out of me to fix it.  I think if I had more control over the publishing process, the book might actually sell.  So my resolve is to hereafter do only the cheapest possible self-publishing.

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My art, my writing, and my life is basically organic, growing and changing in dynamic and unpredictable ways.  That is the biggest drag on living in this mechanized, grinding-wheels-for-profit world.  I don’t fit into their neat and perfectly stackable boxes of officially sanctioned society.  They have to chop the leaves and branches off my tree of creativity to make me fit.  I am thoroughly tired of saw blades and wood-choppers of the metaphorical kind.

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My swimming pool is now a grassless space for reading in the sunshine.  I hope to grow flowers there.  There need to be more flowers in this life.

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My work is more real to me now than reality is.  I intend to spend as much of my remaining time on Earth creating things, making the world of my mind tangible and viewable to others.

I finished a novel on my Tuesday blog posts.  I am debating what to plug in there next.  I discovered that the scammers at Publish America are being sued in a second class-action suit by authors.  I might be able to score some money, even though I never paid them for anything.  They have had the rights to my novel Aeroquest bound up in their publishing agreement since 2007.  But my contract is long over.  I can use that novel on Tuesdays with ample rewriting.

I have made peace with the idea of never having money enough again.  Life continues to cost more than I make.  I tried to sign up as an Uber driver for extra cash when I am well enough to drive.  Unfortunately I am only rarely well enough.  And even more unfortunately, my android phone refuses to download either the Uber or the Lyft driver apps.  So I am all signed up, but unable to receive even one driving assignment.  I just read a literary biography of Poe, though, and even though he was a better writer than I am, he lived in abject poverty for the majority of his adult life.  Who am I to do better than he?  For that matter, who is James Patterson?  I don’t claim to better than him, but he is definitely not better than me.  And that dude is a writing millionaire.

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The TV Justice League from my boyhood.

 

That, then, is my “So on and so on…” for today.  Thanks for letting me complain.  If you read this far through my ramble-brambles, you are a noble and worthy reader.  I appreciate you.  And I promise you, it gets better from here on.

 

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So the World Ends Dinky Finky Doo

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He says things daily that are provably untrue.  He makes huge messes that nobody is willing to clean up, both internationally and domestically.  He throws fits and Tweets like a Twit on Twitter.  He insults people with impunity and tries to wreak vengeance on those that give as good as they get from him.  How can he possibly be the President of the United States?  Well, he can’t.  If this were an actual democracy, he’d never have been voted in, let alone stay in the office this long without being impeached and removed.  Most intelligent people who haven’t been hitting themselves on the head with hammers of prejudice and party ideology can see that.  Even some Republicans.

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The selfish, orange-headed moron only cares about what affects him directly.  He constantly seeks attention and plays to the camera and to friendly audiences.  He is deliberately provocative because it gets him the attention he craves, whether it is positive or negative doesn’t seem to matter.  His decisions are guided by virulent racism and misogyny.  He will provoke conflict and do irreparable damage to the functioning systems that keep this country running.  And the Republican controlled Congress will let him do it because they got that control by cheating.  All the levers of power are in their corrupt, feckless little greedy hands.  And they will let the monkey throw poop everywhere until we all succumb to poop-related diseases.

I am already today feeling quite ill.  It helps slightly to take out some of the bad feelings on the Nazi clown that is now in charge.  But only slightly.  At some point I’m still going to die.  And we the people are probably never going to be in control of the government again.

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Much scarier than Batman’s Joker, isn’t he?

So I am bummed.  Things are not going well.  I have hand cramps from shooting the bird at the TV news every day, every time Monkey-face Cheetos-head is talking.  Bile is my ruling humor this morning.  And I need a nap so I can feel better.

 

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Trying to Think of Other Things

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It’s raining today.  Appropriate for the moment when this thing that has consumed my entire summer comes to an end.  Appropriate too for the way the orange-faced king of our country has dominated everything in public life.  As hard as I have worked the last four years to claw my way out of debt, I am now bankrupt.  Everything the king has done and continues to do hurts poor folks like me.  Was George III the insane one?  The narcissist and paranoid schizophrenic?   And if he was, why did we decide after more than 200 years of independence that we needed a corrupt despot in charge again?  We have invited the king back to where he doesn’t really belong.

So what can we focus on today to get our minds out of the mud?

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There’s always sunshine to consider.  The sun will come back.  It is like a law of nature or something.  And, although nothing is ever certain in life, “The sun’ll come out… tomorrow!  Bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow… there’ll be sun!”  (That’s from the Broadway musical Annie, in case I wasn’t obvious enough.)

One can always also appreciate a pretty girl.  Is that being inappropriate?  I am a cartoonist and I have been obsessing about drawing pretty cartoon girls.  So maybe that’s what I really mean.  I’ll go with that.  Let’s think about pretty cartoon girls.

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Yes, Emma Watson before Harry Potter wearing Mickey Mouse ears counts as a pretty cartoon girl.

So, if I still can’t get my mind off the mud… what will I do?

Think about Zebras climbing trees maybe?

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Or Millie Bobby Brown starring in season 3 of Stranger Things on Netflix in October?

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But while I’m writing this, I get a call from the pool demolition guy.  The plumbing and the electrical work apparently didn’t pass the city inspector’s inspection.  Now, it’s not only mud time again, I have a fire boiling in my spleen and am tempted to take an ax to city hall.

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Thank God I am Poor

Yes, now that I am bankrupt, I thank the God who made me that he made me poor and saved me from the terrible torture of being rich.

I know that sounds like a joke.  But I am serious.  In this world where you have to be willing to climb over the bodies and crushed hopes and dreams of your fellow human beings in order to be rich, I would prefer to be on the side of the downtrodden with a clean conscience and an empty wallet.

 

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I have a castle of my own, but it isn’t very large.

I am actually a bit miffed after this last week.  The swimming pool that has given me ulcers from significant financial reversals all summer is still not removed.  I keep having to pay more and more.  I had to declare bankruptcy because my credit rating was degrading and all insurance companies and mortgage companies punish that crime by charging you more money.  The city is pushing hard to get the pool removed, but on Friday their city inspector failed to inspect the pool which must happen before the demolition can begin on Monday.  In fact, the inspector never showed his face or called to explain why.  But the city did not fail to contact the bank that holds our mortgage lien to make them reconsider the value of our property and the payments we are required to make.   Chapter 13 bankruptcy doesn’t protect you from such things as that, by the way.  In fact, it doesn’t help protect you from debt.  I still have to repay everything I owe Bank of America and the other credit card banks I owe money to.  The only thing it does do is stop the snowball of finance charges from rolling further down the mountain, and then it reorganizes my finances with outside guidance to guarantee the banks get paid off.  That is because, even though I had to pay lots of money to the lawyer, and will have to pay more before we’re done, taking care of the banks’ needs is the first priority.  So, I am on my own with the city and their demands and their bullying to make certain their demands are met too.  It is probably a good thing that I have decided to become a nudist.  After all, there will be no money left for clothes.

You will have to forgive me for beginning to think dark thoughts about rich people.  One way or another, the wealthy minority are to blame for most of what’s wrong with my life.  Congress right now is trying again with the Graham-Cassidy Bill to make certain that my next health reversal kills me.  It is very important to them that Obamacare is repealed.  And why would that be?  Is is it because Obamacare works because it takes more in taxes away from one per centers, and the Republican-controlled Congress wants to give that all back to the rich folks?  They need the extra millions more than I need to keep living, right?

I am tired of fighting over numbers in bank statements and credit card bills.  I am poor.  I have paid an awful lot of money to get to that point.  I will be satisfied to defend my tiny kingdom to the death as the orcs of wealth-acquisitions overwhelm me.  After all, I have a certain satisfaction with how I have lived my life, and no matter how badly it ends, that satisfaction cannot be taken away from me.

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The Man in the Mirror

Every now and again we have to stop what we are doing for a moment and examine ourselves.  If we are writers, we tend to do it every fifteen minutes or so.  You have to expose the soul to the light of day for a moment and take a look with eyes wide open, prepared to see the worst… but also open to seeing beauty where you may not have seen it before.

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So what do I see when I look in the mirror?  More darkening age spots, more patches of psoriasis with increasingly red and irritated potential infections.  Drooping eyes that have lost their sparkle and now darken with blue melancholy.  I see a man falling down.  Falling slowly, but falling never-the-less.  It happens to everybody with age.  I can no longer do the job I loved for 31 years.  I am no longer the goofy Reluctant Rabbit with the big pencil in the front of the classroom, telling stories and making learning happen.

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Once I was a big deal to little people.  Once I created magical experiences involving books and great authors, poems and great poets… and I taught little people how to write and master big words.  I mattered like a big frog in a small pond, able to make the biggest splash in that particular pond.  I was the froggiest.  But I haven’t drawn myself as a frog yet.

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Of course, I was never as big as that other Michael.  He made a really big splash in a really big pond.  He was a really big frog.

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He and I have a lot in common.  Not far off in age.  We got married about the same time.  Both had three kids, two boys and a girl.  Both were associated with Jehovah’s Witnesses at one point.  Both of us never really grew up.  He had Peter Pan Syndrome, and I stayed in school my whole working life.

And everybody has a dark side, in counterpoint to their better angels.  I’m not entirely sure what my dark side entails.  Being a grouch?  A diabetic?  A closet nudist?  But I have one.  I trot it out to make fun of it constantly.

But as I was feeling sorry for myself, being forced by the city to remove the pool, becoming a bankrupt poor guy thanks to Bank of America, and generally in such ill health that I feel like I am wearing a lead suit all the time, I stumbled across one of those life-affirming moments.  A former student asked me on Facebook to post a picture of myself so he could see how I was doing.  I posted this picture.

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Yep, the man in the mirror is definitely me.  I got loads of complements and howdys from former students, former colleagues, a former grade school classmate, and my Aunt Wilma.  I heard from people I care about and they reaffirmed that they still care about me, even though some of them I haven’t seen in more years than I am willing to admit.  Sometimes you have to look in the mirror to see what needs to be changed.  Sometimes you just need to see the precious few things that were always good and haven’t changed.  It is a process worth the effort.

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Heart-Piercing Pool Problems

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This is what the pool looked like yesterday morning.

The city still thinks the pool needs to go.  They don’t trust my do-it-yourself pool repair to hold water.  But I have a lot of practice over the years drilling out, filling in, and repairing cracks.  This was supposed to be the second time I brought the pool back to life with my own two hands and loads of internet instructional videos via YouTube.  My work is not pretty.  I didn’t have time to paint the pool before inspection. My lines of repair material are crooked and uneven, but to be fair, that’s because the cracks were also crooked and uneven.  The true measure is whether or not my work holds water.

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Here is the pool this morning, virtually the same water level, minus a bit of hot-day evaporation, as yesterday.

It looks like I fixed it, right?  The city even grudgingly acknowledged that if I got the pump running quickly and replaced the underground pipes that were cracked, then I had the problem solved.  But therein lies the rub, Rube.  In order to install a new pump which was well within my budget and get the plumbing fixed, I had to have electricity to the pump circuits.  The pool guy recommended calling an electrician.  Which I did.  Oh, man, what a bloodbath of expenses that was!  $500 worth of exploring the attic and checking the lines in the house determined that not only did the electrician who installed the pool cheat and not install the electrical lines up to code, but the entire house, when it was built the 60’s or 70’s was wired improperly and has no main cut-off switch.  To repair the electricity would cost around a thousand dollars more than having the pool removed, which I already cannot afford.

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This is the pool looking as good as it is ever going to look again.

So, in spite of working like an enraged bull in the bull ring, goaded on by the matador who is the city inspector, for an entire week in July heat and unpredictable rain storms, and getting my part of the work done successfully, I am defeated.

My wife, the reigning Queen of Stubborn in our household, hasn’t given up yet.  She has cousins in San Antonio who do electrical work.  And she is determined to carry on with saving the pool.  But I am defeated myself.  It is time for a bit of depression again and more reliance on humor to get me through the dark nights ahead.  (Notice, I said dark nights, not dark knights.  I don’t have to fight Batman about this.)

 

 

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