Mr. Ellis

My friend Reed died last Tuesday. He was my first teacher friend, and he became a mentor. I loved him. I’ll tell you more about him later, but he was a really great guy. Readers of this blog may know him as Cheeto.

I just wrote this – it’s a first draft, so it might change.


The Christmas Cactus

For Reed

“ The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Just like every year

The Christmas Cactus blooms

Right on schedule

Whether or not you believe

In Christmas

Or shiny, glittery miracles

World peace and unity

The golden gift wrap of the season

Velociraptor ripped, wadded, kicked under the couch


This year you don’t see the glory

The coming of the cactus.

You had your second going,

You died again,

This time, for real.

You have officially

Left the building.


You said you never saw the

Tunnel-and-bright-light the first time

But I can’t help but wonder, if,

In the end, from the foxhole,

Did you find God?

Did Jesus extend moonbeam hands

“Come to my party! It’s my birthday!

We have cake and balloons, a fine rosé,

We’ll get drunk and sing all the classics

Come all ye faithful,

Come on, come in, come over!”


I doubt it. Anyway, you wouldn’t budge.

You were a seeker, not a believer.


But you had faith

Ultimate confidence

In beauty

The impossible thin delicateness of the petals

Fuschia frills erupting from

Bright green succulent stems

Segmented like a grasshopper’s thorax


Without cynicism you trusted

The timing of the cacti

Its ability to read

Sunrise, sunset

Ticking clock




Merry Christmas, baby

And to all, a good night


Hanging in Hanoi

This is Hanoi from the roof of a Hotel called The Silk Queen. Hanoi is very crowded. Not only does it sprawl, but it is built up…

and most spaces are for multiple use.

There are tons of people, cars, motorbikes and bicycles everywhere – crossing the street is like human Frogger. I saw this t-shirt that sums up the attitudes of pedestrians:

All of the other traffic apparently follows these rules as well. Driving is pretty terrifying. Lanes are just suggested pathways. People ride bikes on the highways, ignore stoplights and signs, and just generally presume the right-of-way, no matter what. Can you picture it? Maybe this will help:

Terrifying.Kind of exhilarating; escaping death and dismemberment really makes you appreciate the little things in life, like living and having all your body parts attached.  Also, it’s loud – quasi-cacophonous, like I imagine Honk Kong to be. (See what I did there?!) Despite the chaos, everybody seems calm and nonplussed about the waking nightmare that is life in the city. It can be Hannoying (I did it again!), but nobody seems angry or particularly rushed. If you go, here are some tips I wish I had known…  Anyhoo, I guess the Hanoians are used to it, because there are living, walking, unmaimed  people all over the place.

 It reminded me of Paris, with it’s cosmopolitan feel and bustle. There were tourists from everywhere, and the locals were out on the streets night and day. In restaurants, outside of stores, in alleys and on the corner, people sit in tiny, plastic, blue and red kiddie chairs, and there are street performers and pickpockets, mayhem and music, friends, families and fashionistas, hustlers and hookers, drunks and dreamers, all rubbing shoulders, breaking bread and doing the Hustle.Well, not so much the Hustle, but it looked like spontaneous line dancing was definitely a possibility.

Of course, even during the circus the locals call ” thứ ba”, or “Tuesday”, people manage to hang out and go about their daily errands and work.

Grocery section: Produce and Prawns

Trash Canned Fruit


Rest and Relaxation:

Hanoi Game Boi

Working Women:

Daily business:

I was only there a day and a night – so not enough! I can’t wait to go back! I forgot to say, “Good morning, Vietnam” or  ” chúc mừng năm mới”, which is the only phrase dozens of Vietnamese students managed to teach me. It means “Happy New Year”, but I’m sure natives would appreciate my effort no matter when. Anybody up for a quick 20 hour flight?

 The lady in this photo has just stretched and said, “Good morning, Vietnam!”, or perhaps “Chúc mừng năm mới”. I can’t tell from this angle. Also, I don’t speak Vietnamese.Maybe she is casting a spell that makes motorcycles come to her. It’s a strange, magical place!

P.S. Special thanks to George, who cared when I crossed!

Apple Don’t Fall Far

Recently, my father set out on a journey to find out how big his internet footprint is. Though he is a very private person, I suspect he is always secretly disappointed when he discovers that it’s tiny. He doesn’t share his searing social commentary, droll observations about love, life, and the human condition, and important survival information with the masses, like his dear daughter does. ( I’m referring to myself here, not my sister. Just to be clear.) He sends emails to a select few about all kinds of things, whether they are appreciated or not. Some of the people he sends stuff to are a group of his hard core followers,who I lovingly refer to as “his minions.” They think everything he sends is brilliant, no matter how boring, inane or inappropriate, and can spend months on a single thread of inquiry, like “Herring: America’s New Hotdog?” or his famous “Do you think this is funny?” series, which features tasteless, inappropriate jokes told by one of his “personas”, a politically incorrect, old, Jewish man who is “so out of touch, it’s funny.” (By the way, according to Dad, the answer to the “Do you think this is funny?” emails is always “Yes”, even when the most loyal of minions has given it a hard negativo.) He often writes in this weird, annoying dialect, and in addition to disgusting things, he has recently decided that he likes that which is hokey and cliched, so that’s something to look forward to.

Dad can also be repetitive. He will send the same thing out over and over again, even though you told him you hated it the first time. Sometimes he’ll ask you to find some repugnant thing he has sent in your mailbox, because he immediately deletes everything he sends or receives. He doesn’t want to clog up his computer’s memory. He spends a lot of time on it, but he doesn’t really get his computer.

It’s not all bad, though. Dad sends me all kinds of infographics, photography collections, and interesting articles from around the world. Appreciated. He also sends copious videos of fuzzy kitties or monkey babies, stuff about people with horrific deformities, and lots of things about various types of fecal matter or diseases you can get from messing with, inadvertently swallowing, or somehow being unexpectedly exposed to such doo doo. Not so appreciated. You’d think you’d like the monkey babies, but it gets old, especially those ones about interspecies friendships. “Oh, how cute! That monkey baby is picking fleas off an elephant!” Not cute! That just shows how stupid baby monkeys are! Elephants don’t have fleas!

Actually they do. They also get warts. But stop sending those videos anyway.

Anyhoo, so Dad was googling himself and found out that one of his illustrations was online. Seeking excessive monetary compensation, he made moves to sue whomever put it online. One of Dad’s personas is a stingy, money-loving miser.  Turns out, the offending party was me.


Unable to figure out how to reference only the post in question in his Cease and Desist letter, he ended up emailing me almost all of my posts from 2010.

(Side note: he also sent it to all of his minions, so they could see his drawing on the world wide web.)

So I read them. All of them. It was truly enlightening. For one thing, I found out that I am just like my dad, except I can’t draw.

As you can see from the snippet of “Snippets” above, (does anybody ever click on the links I post? I mean, just to see what they are? C’mon, man! This could be interesting! It’s possible!) I, too, have been known to speak in questionable, annoying dialect.

I, too, have a high opinion of myself, and pretty much like any attention I can get. If I am not getting enough attention, I will even offer fake incentives to make myself appear more popular than I really am. Also, I believe that when I ask a question about myself, the answer should always be a positive.

I, too, will go on and on, for a long time, about things that nobody but me really cares about. And some of the things I care about are disgusting, offensive and inappropriate. And if you didn’t like it the first time, I probably wrote about it over and over. If you think this is hyperbole, just put something innocuous, like the word “cocksucker” in the search bar; post after post on that one! (It was a phase, I’m over it now. Pretty much.)

But wait – none of that is really me.That’s my persona talking! The truth is, my early blog posts are HI-larious with a capital HI! They are filled with facts, fibs and fantasies, and by golly, people like them! I used color, and pictures, and songs, and I wrote about things that made me happy. Not only that, but I was cutting edge and diverse in my information. For example, just today someone turned me on to this:

It reminded me of a post I wrote in 2009! That’s right! a simple search of “duck penis” in the blog archives pulled up this gem!

Bob Loblog

Good times! Sometimes I forget how much I have truly loved writing this blog. I love looking back on it and am so glad it is all here in one place for me to peruse and remember who I have been, who I still am, and who I am becoming. I want to thank chm chm, for giving me this site, and hosting it, and helping me with every little thing, be it technical or personal. Like venereal disease, this was truly a gift that keeps giving, and try as I might, I can’t get rid of it. Can’t seem to shake you, either. Lucky me!!

Also thanks to those of you who still read and comment and hope for the best with each post, even though they have been a little waah-waah, Debbie Downer lately. I picture you getting a message that a new post has been sent (or I call you and say, “Hey! New blog post! Did ya read it yet? How ’bout now? Do you think this is funny?”) and you click on it, thinking “C’mon, man! This could be interesting! It’s possible!” Thank you for hanging in there.

Merci to Maman, who always tells me I am a writer, and who has thought I was extraordinary since the first time she laid eyes on me. She was way ahead of her time.

Finally, thank you to my dad. I am so grateful for the you that is in me. Keep those cards and letters coming. Even the kitty ones. Like you, I am familiar with the delete button.

Just to make sure my dad reads this post (and sends it along! More readers for ME!!!!) I submit: Minotaur Dans Son Bains, by Harvey Richman

Well worth being sued over, non?

P.S. Speedy Recovery, Trixie!

Deleted Post, Rebooted.

On Father’s Day, considering family values and all the things my dear Da has taught me, I wrote a long, angry post about the United States immigration policy under the current regime. It was neither unbiased or measured in its argument. I’m just about to start a new job with social media savvy employers, so I decided to think on my piece a bit before I posted it.Thinking on things is new for me, but in the modern era of “lasts-forever-no-take-backs-for-all-of-eternity,” I thought I might give ‘er a go.

When I went to look at it again, my computer told me I was trying to edit something that didn’t exist, and suggested that my post may have been deleted.

Russians? The FCC? The elusive MPAA? HUAC? The Pittsburgh Post?

We may never know.

Anyway, here is the gist of a post so dangerous, half-dozens of people were denied seeing it.

H9 rob rogers pittsburg gazette fired

“[This week we saw] the soul-deadening inversion of American values, when Jeff Sessions and Sarah Huckabee Sanders cited the Bible to justify ripping children from their parents at the border – including a baby being breast-fed by her Honduran mother. The Statue of Liberty wept.

Sessions is on a vile tear. A week ago, he vitiated the policy that made it possible to give asylum to women who are victims of domestic abuse or who are raped or threatened by the sort of gang members Trump decries as “animals.”*

The image is by Rob Rogers. Read about his recent sacking here:

To be fair, there are two sides to every story, even if the story in question is a picture worth a thousand words, so here’s that for ya. I don’t want my new employers to think I make a practice of being politically affiliated with any one side, for what good comes of speaking your own truth when there are so many truths to tell. 

This whole thing might have died, but it turns out some people just won’t shut up about the importance of freedom of expression.

Some people are unapologetic about their views and feel like it”s worth the risk – in this case, of speaking against the mandates of an employer and risking termination. Which brings me to the words I used in my re-post. They belong to Maureen Dowd, and are from a column she wrote in Sunday’s New York Times, entitled “Psychos on The Potomac.” 

Maureen Dowd is fierce. She calls it like she sees it, and she’s smart, too. Did you have to look up ‘vitiated’? I did. She doesn’t  hide behind others words because she’s scared of being censored -she just lets them fly, big black-winged sentences circling in a white sky to swoop down on their target.

I think I’m going to publish this post quick-like without thinking. I’m going to act courageously, in a weenie kind of way. I hope my dad will be proud.

*Lest we forget, Trump also called these guys “animals”, because he has a really good brain and he’s said a lot of things, and knows if people are telling the truth and being honest in the first five minutes of looking at them, and can tell if they want to be grabbed by the pussy or not, because he is a master of the deal, and because he is a very stable genius. Again, his words, not mine.

Image result for the central park five case

Image result for the central park five case

Maybe the editorial cartoonists aren’t the ones who should be censored. At least they don’t claim their opinions are fact and all else is fake news.

From the What Can Go Wrong Department

WARNING! This is long – really long! Not only that, I think I’ve said everything in this post before. I am destined to repeat myself, because I talk so much, and also because I come form a long line of people who say the same things over and over. You are probably destined to forget the things I say, because of my aforementioned verbosity, and also because really, how well were you listening the first time? Anyway, I’ll understand if you only read a little, or just click on the clicky stuff. I won’t take offense. I’m just glad that I wrote something -anything!- even if I’ve already written it before!

I overheard one of my 8th graders talking to one of my 6th graders. “Two things: If you don’t understand what’s going on in the story, say ‘nonlinear vignettes that are slices of life reflecting the human condition’ a lot, and she’ll think you do. Also, you never have to study or even read for the last test of any novel Ms. R. assigns. The answer is, the protagonist always dies, and we learn that humanity is doomed.” This proves what an excellent teacher I am; they have learned in two years what it took me until graduate studies to figure out. The students have surpassed the master!

It is true I am fond of a good plunge into the cruel, icy waters (or is it the roiling volcanic lava? Robert Frost and I want to know!) of dystopian decimation, though I will point out that it’s not always the protagonist that meets an untimely death in the books I teach: “Stay gold, Ponyboy!”. In The Crucible, a novel that reads like a play, pretty much everyone dies. I like to see it as more bang for your buck.

In the world of dystopic dorkdom, a great debate arises regarding which is the better of two high school tomes, 1984, by George Orwell and Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley. I am, of course, too mature to enter the passionate fray sophomore literary scholars engage upon being forced to read these classics. The writings of Orwell, voted number two in the 2008 Times list of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945, and those of the psychotropic drug addled mysticist and academic, Huxley, both have their merits, so obviously,  I remain objective. Of course, one can have a personal preference, as indeed I do, but I am steadfast in my professionalism, and ever unbiased, allowing the reader to thrill to the words and concepts that have become part of our vernacular, and that comprise all things ‘Orwellian’, or to enjoy, on a somewhat shallow and hedonistic level, the sex, drugs and rock and roll touted by the man nicknamed ‘Ogie’ as a child. Unless I came straight out and told you, you could never guess which book is my favorite.

Orwell and Huxley themselves were less judgmental than I. Shortly after publishing 1984, Orwell received a letter of congratulations from Huxley. After some polite words, Huxley got to the meat of the matter: he said that while either view of the nightmare that is human existence was possible, his was more plausible. (Horn-tooting Huxley strikes again! Oh, that Ogie is a pompous git!) In Brave New World, along with extensive in-utero (or, more precisely, in-labratorio) genetic manipulation and psychological-behavioral programming, the powers that be appeal to human vanity, need for delusion and external stimulation, and love of hedonistic escape to make their autocratic control possible. In 1984, a more violent, aggressive tactic is used to make the population pliable and obedient. As Orwell puts it, “If you want to imagine a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.” Huxley makes a strong point about the sustainability of his vision. But Orwell rules, because I say so.

This is the crux of the  “Fire or Ice” debate: in which way will people inevitably destroy themselves? Will it be through passion, fury and might? Mind numbing denial, apathy or prejudice? Inflamed self-righteousness and an all consuming, voracious lust for power at any cost, or a cold, calculating desire fulfilled by immediate gratification that allows us to wantonly forget the greater good, and pursue courses of action that bring about desired goals, regardless of the tolls on the future, or the horrifying consequences of the loss of our humanity.

Ray Bradbury believes that we willfully fling open the door to doomsday by allowing ourselves to get sucked in to the glittery promise and opportunities that technology holds.While he was a proponent of imagination, invention, innovation and possibility- “We must move into the universe. Mankind must save itself. We must escape the danger of war and politics. We must become astronauts and go out into the universe and discover the God in ourselves” (via CNN) – he worried that we were just not equipped to make the best choices or foresee the negative aspects to our positive innovations and studies – ask pacifist Albert Einstein a thing or two about that particular kettle of fish! “I don’t think the robots are taking over,” Bradbury said. “I think the men who play with toys have taken over. And if we don’t take the toys out of their hands, we’re fools.” (via the Associated Press) Einstein agreed, kinda. “I believe that the abominable deterioration of ethical standards stems primarily from the mechanization and depersonalization of our lives,” he wrote in a letter to his friend, psychiatrist Otto Juliusburger, in 1948, “a disastrous byproduct of science and technology. Nostra culpa!”

Check this out – pretty freaking prescient!

But still, why do I insist on teaching all of this to the sweet, innocent lambkins in my classes? Can’t they just be happy for a few years? Don’t I know any nice books, with happy endings?

NYET! NEIN! Image result for No in Chinese! Nope! We have to teach our children to pay attention to the word around them, because, no matter how much we want it to be as we want it, it will become theirs, and they will have to figure out what to do with it. Today we see kids becoming active and engaged in their future, and it makes me proud – somewhere along the way, the Parkland generation, like the kids of the Civil Rights Era, and many others before them, must have had some good teachers.

Today in the NYT, I found these articles:

I could go on. It’s depressing, and so easy to dismiss as hopeless. The great literature seems to imply that indeed, it is hopeless. George is always going to have to shoot Lennie like Odysseus’ stinky old dog, and he is always going to have to live with the regret and doubt that comes from his actions. We are destined to make the same mistakes, doomed to forget hard-learned lessons, and hard-wired to eschew change. Bummer.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try to evolve…there is a place for willful delusion! How can we live in a world that is void of hope? We cannot. And that is why we are doomed. Because we are human. We can’t win, but we mustn’t give up! Even if we fail to overcome that which propels us to jettison ourselves towards disaster, moth-to-flame, we must always resist the sucking negativity that is our birthright! Resist, I say! Resist, and try hard, and do good, and teach the children, and learn many, diverse things. See beauty and seek to love freely and wholly, and to be treated in kind. Please yourself, and hurt no one. Be kind and generous, and take everything offered to you.

Yep. That’s what I think.

Einstein said in a 1955 letter to Bertrand Russel: “There lies before us, if we choose, continued progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal, as human beings, to human beings: Remember your humanity and forget the rest.” Smart cookie, that one.

Waxahachie Bathroom, Webb Gallery, 2018

P.S. If you’ve made it this far, thanks for indulging me! You’re a peach!

A Monkey, A Clown and A Crow Walk Into A Bar, Or, The Joke With No Punchline

A Monkey, A Clown and A Crow Walk Into A Bar, Or, The Joke With No Punchline

  • US slams North Korea missile test as Kim claims ‘whole US mainland’ in reachCNN, July 30, 2017

In his kingdom, remote, isolated and desolate, he was considered an enormous man, and, to be fair, compared to his gaunt, emaciated people, he was a giant in girth, as well as power. His hair was magnificent. He thought of himself as the mighty King Kong, a chimp who developed into a fearsome beast, a foe not to be underestimated as he fended off the weaponry of his adversaries, swatted missiles out of the air as if they were gnats, and shook the ground he strode with footsteps that toppled trees. The big man admired the ape, so resolute and stoic, so he collected armaments to lob, like so many coconuts, in the direction of his enemies, clapping his hands with delight and smiling with all his teeth when his arm grew impressive and his aim improved. So enamored was he of King Kong that he patterned his foreign diplomacy on the cinematic simian, but the big man never understood Kong’s motivation: Kong was a victim. He only fought out of self-defense, out of a sense of love, though that turned out to be totally misguided and unrequited. Ah, well, live and learn, Kong. There are worse things to be duped by than love. But I digress.

The monkey-man fought for the sound his fat hands made when they beat his own chest and the joy of smearing his feces in the faces of his enemies. He called this “respect.” He was nuts, coconuts, and he was completely and utterly convinced that he was always right, and that his thoughts, no matter how ill-conceived, harmful or self-destructive, were Actions That Must Be Taken. This afforded him his all precious respect, and this is what made him King.

  •     Donald Trump vows to answer North Korea nuclear threats with ‘fire and fury’, The Guardian, August 8, 2017

The Clown-magician was not really a clown or a magician, but a lunatic, who could be funny, because he looked like a fool and acted like a baby. He dressed in a fine suit with a fright wig, and made much of pointing out the fine leather of his enormous clown shoes, because you know what they say about a man with big feet. He carried with him, like a scepter, a golden woman. However, his favorite toy was other people’s money, and he juggled it with skill. He mastered sleight of hand, so at one minute you saw the money, felt it fanning your greed-hot cheeks, and then POOF! It disappeared, only to resurface in an unexpected deep pocket, usually hidden close to his vest, or out from behind an old white man’s hairy ear. This confused people, so sometimes they did not know that he was insane, and sometimes they saw the madness as magic. The Clown-magician recognized something in the rolling eyes of Kong; he saw a kindred spirit, and that scared him, the way a scorpion is threatened by, and will therefore strike, its own reflection. Kong had a childish aura about him, which tempted and enraged the Clown-magician; it made him want to set up a homicidal play date.  Also, Kong threw an ICBM at the Clown-magician, which was bad, but when the monkey-man clapped with delight and smiled with all of his teeth, the act became totally unforgivable.

Because he saw himself as a magician, he crossed his arms like a petulant genie and began to chant: “with Fury and Fire, Alacazam Kazzee/ The Fat man, that Little Boy/ Shall Cease to be/ I’ll grind that Monkey/Into the Sea/ That’s what he gets/ For Messing with Me!” Because he was a clown, he added some nonsense words: ENO-LAH GAI! Hee-ROHSH! Sheemah! NAW Gaw SAKEE! Sakeetoomee, Sokitoomee!, and sprayed everyone in close range with a jet of liquid from the poison flower in his lapel. Because he was deranged, he meant what he said, whatever it was, and pictured fur flying and huge clown shoes flopping until the main ring of the circus was awash in blood and teeth and the feces of the enemy. “Sock it to me,” he whispered under his breath.

Everyone knows that clowns are scary, magic is smoke and mirrors, and you can’t argue with crazy.

  • ‘God has given Authority to take out Kim Jong-Un’, evangelical adviser says, Washington Post, August 9, 2017

The man in the black robes did not know who he was, and so he read a book that told him how to be. Still, the not knowing vexed him. He wanted to be sure. Perhaps he was a priest, or a pastor, or maybe a judge. Was there a difference? He decided to be a crow, cawing loudly to his flock, who flew in circles or plummeted beak-first to the ground, unless he instructed them on the proper methods and techniques of flapping. They were angry about how far King Kong could fling his feces and bombs, and they worried Kong could slap down their own weapons like gnats.  The flock squawked and hopped when they heard the words of the Clown-magician. They found them remarkably stirring, and more importantly, easy to repeat. “Fire and Fury, Ca- Caw! Fury and Fire, Braaaak!” There was much hullaballoo and ruffling of feathers, cut short only because one of the flock, a big bald eagle-ish fellow, spread himself to the full span of his wings and shouted, “Wait! Fire and Fury? What are you even talking about? That is not how we do things! Fire and fury tears nests apart- think about the families! It singes feathers- consider all the missed opportunities!  Fire and Fury scorches the earth and sends clouds of smoke so high that nobody can fly anywhere, and there is no place to land! Fire and Fury SUFFOCATES LIFE! What gives us the right to grind anybody, even monkeys, into the sea? Sea monkeys? They aren’t real! They are just what we all are- dried up shrimp, worms trying to wriggle their way into existence. Who are we to stop them?”

All beady bird eyes turned eagerly to the man in black robes, who suddenly found his calling. It felt good to be called, and so he picked up the phone. Jesus was on the line. “Uh-huh. Yes sir. And this comes straight from the Big Guy, does it? No, no, I’m not questioning! No, I believe…Oh yeah, huge honor, huge! Yeah, I get it. No, I’ll say it good. I will! All right, then. Thanks a lot. You can count on me. Amen to you, too.”

He dropped to his knees as if struck by lightning. He babbled in tongues for awhile until he had everyone’s attention and the cawing and hooting became muted twitters and tweets. His voice took on honeyed tones reminiscent of Magnolia trees and Jack Daniels. The slow, Southern drawl practically holy rolled right out of his throat. He swirled his robes around him, and the flock settled on their perches.

“We are not animals, brothers and sisters. We are God’s creatures. God compels us to fly towards glory, to soar in our faith, for we are descended from the Divine. From Light. God is Light, and we always fly towards the Light. Light lives matter.

Apes, even in human skin, are animals. Hairy, filthy, black beasts with blood under their fingernails and bone gristle in their teeth. Dark and Evil, they mock us, and they mock God, pretending that because they walk upright, they are in God’s image. God hates apes. God hates Kong. We live for God, for God is King. King of Kong. But Kong rises up, Dark against the Light. We always fly toward the Light, and therefore,we  matter! God as King says “Kill King Kong!” I say Kingdom Come welcome Kong Killers. All Kongs. This I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, because I am of the Light. Follow the Clown-Magician into the Light! Amen and Amen! Because it is God’s will, we will kill!”

“Ca-Caw!” shrieked the flock. They were whipped up to a frenzy. “Braaaaackkkkk!”

The Bald Eagle was going to ask how the Crow was so sure of what God wanted, but he knew what the Crow would say, and anyway, it was already too late. The flock was already practicing dive bombing.

  • “It’s common for something to sound way better in your head than when you actually say it out loud. A refined idea has better odds of making people laugh (or at least not making them cringe) than a raw one. But before you speak, ask yourself:

Can you explain it concisely?

Will appeal to the people you’re speaking to?

Is the timing appropriate?

Sometimes, your joke or funny thought requires too many mental steps. You might need to properly set it up in order to explain it properly, which might take way too long or cause people to grow disinterested. Alternatively, it could also just go right over people’s heads. On a similar note, you may observe something funny, but just not yet figured out the best way to present it or phrase it. That’s okay. Shut up and let it marinate. You may get another chance at it later, and it isn’t worth saying now if it’ll fall flat.” – From “Five Common Mistakes People Make When Telling Jokes”, February 27, 2015,

So, what did you expect? I told you there wasn’t a punchline. In fact, it’s not even funny. Even I don’t get it. It is not concise- that was an awful lot of build up for no pay-off; I can’t imagine who will find this story appealing; and while the timing is appropriate, as far as topicality, it’s way too long to remember, even though, without the specifics, it’s an age old story about the insanity of war, and the short-sightedness of humanity. Also, a not-so-subtle dig at certain preachers, and a clever revelation regarding the truth about sea monkeys. It’s ridiculous. Preposterous. Nutso. Since I don’t know what happens next, I should probably shut up and let it marinate. But I can’t. Shut up, I mean. I’m a talker. You knew this about me. I don’t know where I was going with this. I don’t know how to wrap it up. I only know what I fear – that this jokes is going to be on us. And like I said – it’s not funny.


Pittsburgh, not Paris

Today President Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord, “in order to fulfill [his] solemn duty to protect America and its citizens.”

Related image

Image result for jim morin climate change

I don’t feel safer. And I don’t think that Mr.Trump cares what I and countless other citizens of the U.S. and of the planet feel. I think he is not only opaque about his intentions,

Image result for jim morin i pledge allegiance

but that if we don’t do something, we are sanctioning his actions.

We get too complacent. We become overwhelmed. It is larger than the scope of our influence or power, or, if we are not being directly affected, we don’t really care.

I am reminded of this poem:

There Will Come Soft Rains

Sara Teasdale, 18841933

(War Time)

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground, 
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

From The Language of Spring, edited by Robert Atwan, published by Beacon Press, 2003.

You may recognize the title from a Ray Bradbury story that is excellent, and thematically mirrors Teasdale’s poem. Here is Leonard Nimoy reading it, if you feel like revisiting.

Another well-known poem that deals with the human penchant towards self-destruction is “Fire and Ice” by Robert Frost.

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
If we know our recklessness has repeatedly led us down paths from which we know return is not guaranteed, it seems like we might be more likely to be cautious. It seems like we would learn from our mistakes. Perhaps our mistake is believing that we are not doomed to be constantly fucking up.
Still, I applaud those who keep trying. I’m impressed with all of the companies that urged the president to realize that what is best for our country includes what is best for our planet. I am proud of the politicians at all levels (including the mayor of Pittsburgh who have vowed to continue to try to reduce human impact on climate change. I celebrate people I know, and those who are still strangers to me, who do something rather than nothing, and who understand that we are, for better or worse, inextricably connected.
I don’t think that the Paris Climate Accord was the deal that was going to save the world. In fact, I think it is too late for that – fire and ice, y’all. All we can do at this point is slow down the inevitable. The treaty was a first step; people across the globe came together to say that we should do – you might have heard this phrase before- something, rather than nothing. I am saddened that my country asks, “What’s in it for me?” , as opposed to, “How can I help?”
There are those who vehemently oppose my viewpoint and support the president. Check out Utah Senator Mike Lee on the PBS Newshour and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley on Face the Nation
Again, I feel no safer. So much double talk and subterfuge! As Martin Luther King, Jr said, “Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance or conscientious stupidity.”
I started this post on Thursday. Friday it rained so hard in my town that water was gushing out of every alley onto streets where the runoff came up to my headlights. It was scary.The downpour lasted about an hour and a half, and in my city alone there were over 70 water rescues. Of course, that doesn’t mean that climate change is responsible for a summer storm – rain happens. Last night the news cycle moved on with the horrifying attacks in London, the third in England in less than a month. It’s hard to believe that we are not hell-bent on self-destruction.
We are living in interesting times, my friends.
Most of the editorial cartoons in this post are by Jim Morin, who has an exhibit right now at the Newseum in Washington, D.C. You can check him out here:
While you are at the Newseum site, check out these photographs. They are so evocative and iconic; I cried a little in the gallery.