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Monthly Archives: September 2018

This morning, via Facebook, I shared some thoughts on the Kavanaugh US Supreme Court nomination. Facebook’s default text on the Timeline posting box is “What’s on your mind?” Between the sets of asterisks is what I put in the box, and what my friend Laura J Young was kind enough to ask permission to Share. Laura, thanks again, and on your behalf I am sharing with my WordPress followers…

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“What’s on your mind?” The post box asks us. “Doublethink,” the term invented by George Orwell, is on my mind. It is when you know something is false, but at the same time you know that it is true.

Brett Kavanaugh is a fine, decent man. And Brett Kavanaugh is a lowlife and a liar. There is plenty of evidence that he is part of a male culture that likes to sow wild oats, to euphemize, or to have fun and jokes at the expense and to the detriment of women, to be more candid.

Anyone remember Panty Raids? Frat boys being frat boys would invade dorms or sorority houses and steal young women’s panties. But that’s not all they would do. When I was a student at the U of A one frat boy ripped the bedclothes from a woman in her bed, exposing her bare breasts. I am 100% certain that worse things happened during that panty raid. I am also grateful that I was never in a fraternity.

What Kavanaugh did with his testimony was de facto plead guilty to a lesser series of crimes. He pled guilty to liking beer and hating Democrats. He pled guilty to making fun of his farting classmate and he pled guilty, through demonstration, of being a crybaby.

And this enables the doublethinkers of his like-minded colleagues to rush to his defense. It is the same doublethink that allows Trump supporters to excuse truly egregious behavior on his part, including adultery in his current marriage, as “brash.”

The trouble is, bad as panty raids were (are?), something far worse is going on under our noses. A Treasury raid. An Abuse of Power raid. A raid on our environment. An invasion by a hostile foreign power.

Please, dear friends on both sides of the aisle, stop double-thinking. It is killing our country.

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The title of this post is a riff on the Bob Dylan song title “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” Though I regret the partisanship revealed by the “Alt-Right” portion of my title, my weakness for bad puns overcame my wish for neutrality. To all you non-Nazi, humanity- and diversity-loving Alt-righters, please accept my sincere apology.

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I’m a sucker for bad puns, so every so often my friend Sandra Snow sends me one by posting on Facebook and tagging me. Her latest was a photo of the classic Dracula, also known as Vlad the Impaler, posing beside a classic Chevy Impala, and the title is Vlad, the Impala.

In acknowledgment I posted three comments:

1)

Straight Outta Vladivostok.

2)

Q: How did the Scottish farmer reply when Vlad the Impaler asked him what part of himself he would least like impaled?

A: “Eye, Vladdie.”

3)

There once was a bad guy named Vlad
Whose penchant for piercing was sad.
Were he now live and free
He would no doubt Spike Lee
And tell Jonze he was next. What a cad!!

Consequently I’ve had Vlad on my mind. The thought occurred–wouldn’t he make a great pitchman for blood donations? So here is a public service announcement for a cause I believe in. It is silly but serious. Please consider donating blood, as I have dozens of times–platelets too, which takes more than an hour but you can do it much more often. You may save a life!

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This page went sideways in more ways than one. At first it was going to be a triple acrostic, most likely built around Fizzler (or perhaps Fiddler), Puzzler, and Dazzler. But when I columnized Puzzler, it occurred to make of the words an end-in-itself structure. Suddenly there was an ambiguous artifact, perhaps of a lifeguard station or a large container or the upper torso of a breastplated, long-dead soldier. Then it needed to be populated. Then tied together…

The result would serve as an illustration to any of dozens of stories. When I look at it I feel a pang of loss for the late great Shel Silverstein.  The stripped-down drawing style and the service to Story remind me of some of the things he did.

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Gold is versatile, being malleable, ductile, and conductive. Its true value might be more in the realm of symbolism, though. Most of us gold-owners want more, feeling better off with each additional acquisition. But there are those for whom a drawerful of Kruggerands is not enough . . .

Here are the words. Note that Ringolevio under slight name variations is a sort of combination of Tag and Hide-and-go-seek, originated in one of the New York City boroughs. Coventry is a place in England that has come to symbolize shunning, banishment, or quarantine.

Coventry’s a game of ring

O-levio with children’s lingo

Linger on the second level

Deviate and be bedeviled

Long ago and very early in his career the underground comics legend Robert Crumb drew a frog looking mournfully at the viewer and saying “‘ ‘Tis sad.” Decades later the President of the United States ended quite a few of his limited-character assessments with the word “Sad.” Crumb has made it clear in more than one of his creations that he regards Donald Trump as a personification of Evil.

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Sam Rockwell is an Academy-Award winning actor. Norman Rockwell was an illustrator who championed civil rights, most famously in a portrait of grade-schooler Ruby Bridges being escorted to a sanctioned-by-law non-segregated class by four hefty enforcers from the U. S. government. In contrast to these two gentlemen, George Lincoln Rockwell was the hate-mongering head of the American Nazi Party in the 1960s. On the laptop screen behind my drawing is a scene from the ROOTS saga featuring Marlon Brando as the Nazi Rockwell, who would have fit right in at that infamous rally in Charlottesville.

Here are the words to the quadruple acrostic:

See, some surnames make it rain and snow
And two fellows with a row to hoe
Make Art crafty on a carousel
And for our emotion’s sake excel

I drew Sam Rockwell from a freeze-frame from WOMAN WALKS AHEAD, starring Jessica Chastain and Michael Greyeyes. I drew Norman Rockwell from the canvas-sketch detail of his “Triple Self-Portrait.” I wouldn’t waste a gram of graphite drawing George Lincoln Rockwell, unless it was absolutely essential to do so for an image’s sake. Turns out it wasn’t in this case, so I cheerfully excluded him.

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The word “woebegone” is self-ironic. And tears leave the body.

Words to the minimal acrostic:

Whence Bardo

Or Omegan

Endgame

Friends, if you are Woebegone, though you may feel like the loneliest person on Earth, you are not alone and you are loved.

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My name is Gary, and I have a problem with gambling.

My problem cost me a lot of money, a lot of energy, and time that would have been vastly better spent doing something else, and very likely the relationship I had with the love of my life.

Late in 2010 my inner voice told me I would survive 2011 if I did not set foot in a casino, but if I did, I would “not be OK.” So I didn’t set foot in a casino; in fact, I didn’t gamble for more than six years. Good things and bad happened during those six years, but I guarantee you they would have been far worse had I indulged my addiction.

Around February of 2017 I fell off the gambling-sobriety wagon. The rationalizer in me says it was OK to do so, since I was not in a romantic relationship with anyone, and I didn’t let it interfere with my job performance, and I was lonely and getting strong intimations of mortality.

I know better, of course. As for not being in a romantic relationship, gambling addiction is a preventative. As for interference with job performance, that is true of my day job, but not of my REAL job, that of poet and artist. Gambling thieves time, energy and mojo. I have left numberless paintings, drawings and poems on the gaming table.

And as for intimations of mortality–the clock is ticking. What is the best use of the time I have left?

Odds are slightly better than even money, Friends, that I will be in a casino, pissing away a little more vitality, as you are reading this. I hope not. In fact, I’m writing this as a preventative. But I am a weak man.

The title of this post, “Getting a Little Bit Dirty,” is a riff on an old joke whose concept is “Getting a little bit pregnant.” You’re either pregnant or you’re not, and, in terms of addiction, you’re either dirty or you’re not. It’s been eight days since I’ve been in a casino. I am not dirty. That can change in a heartbeat, and that is 100% up to me. I cannot be rescued by anyone but myself.

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Mary Byrne, sister of Tom, has been my friend for more than 50 years. (She is only 35, but we met in a previous lifetime.) She is now Dr. Mary Al-Saleh, and I learned of so much of her joy and sorrow as we had breakfast at Kiss the Cook in Glendale, our home town.

First I caught her up, thus: Broke up with high school/college sweetheart Gayle in 1979. Some effort to get back together, but we didn’t. Next real girlfriend, 1985. Lasted three months. Engaged to be married in late 1987 to a woman from Iran. She broke our engagement in mid-January 1988 and two days later I met Joni, who would marry me on December 10 of that year. Our only child Kate was born in April of 1990, and Kate got her library card at the age of 3 on July 23, 1993. Joni and I ended our marriage amicably on December 19, 2011. New love sent me to the Village of Oak Creek in Sedona, and then Cottonwood, but, alas, we could not get along and I gave my girlfriend, despite my still having deep love for her, and my employer Sedona Winds, despite my still being a dependable worker in good standing, two weeks notice in mid January 2015, and then headed back to Phoenix that February. Stayed with my mom and younger brother a while, found my own place, found a new job, found a steady girlfriend and lost her, found a better job at Matt’s Big Breakfast, where I work to this day, found another girlfriend who ended up breaking up with me, getting back together with me, and yet again breaking up with me–March of this year. Now I call myself the world’s most ineligible  bachelor, and I see my daughter and ex-wife and former steady girlfriend fairly often, but have been ‘ghosted’ by my second girlfriend…

“‘Ghosted’? What’s that?” Mary asked.

“When someone acts as if you don’t exist.”

“Oh.”

Then Mary caught me up, and here I am plagued by memory issues, but I seem to remember her first child, who died tragically young, was named Laila, meaning Day, and her second child Noura, meaning Night, and they were indeed like Night and Day. A son whose first name is Ali, and two other sons, both of whose first names are Abdul. One is called Hobby. Mary briefly tried her hand at travel agency, then taught Nursing at the community college level for 28 years. Somewhere in there she earned a Ph.D. She also learned there is a lot of unpleasant politics in the teaching profession. She is now, I hope I got this right, a Certified Lymphedema Therapist…

which came at the end of a long journey involving Mary’s health issues, of congestive heart failure and of breast cancer. Congestive heart failure caused her legs to swell, and then caused her to collapse.  Her heart pumping capability was measured at 28, and it needed to be at minimum 55. (She is now a fine 55.) But then one day she was standing in front of a mirror. and for some reason she let her hand fall to her breast, and at the exact spot her hand fell, something did not feel right.

Soon she was tested, including a biopsy, and then she found herself facing an oncologist. The oncologist, aware of Mary’s CHF, said almost immediately, “Yours is a difficult case.” And that did not sit well with Mary at all.

Her search for a good fit for healing somehow led her to Houston, Texas. Suddenly she had a team on her side that she could believe in, and so she underwent a course of chemotherapy and then of radiation. And it was in the enormous room where the radiation was done, when Mary was surrounded by arcane apparatus telling her that desperate measures were being taken, that Mary realized that she was very, very sick.

Sick she may have been, but her spirit was robust. Her game was on. She took a radiative beating that left her so exhausted that at one point she did not have the energy to move her toothbrush up and down. So she crept back to bed and slowly gathered strength. And she recovered from all the ghastly things that some Stage 3 cancer patients must endure, to survive.

And now she is a grandmother, and proud to say that many of her progeny have pursued medical careers. One son is a nurse. Another is a doctor.

And Mary’s journey continues. She is full of life, full of giggles, full of fun and lovingkindness. Long may she thrive!

Friends, it’s the Third of September, and a long time since my last post. Before the end of the month I hope to get back up to daily posts. Meanwhile, must start somewhere, so here’s an ink sketch, just a little inspired by local hero Alice Cooper.

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