Saturday, November 27, 2010

Hats Off to Horst

I’ve just watched the episode of In Treatment in which Gabriel Byrne’s Dr. Paul Weston try to retain a brave face while he learns of the growing closeness between his teenaged son and his ex-wife’s about-to-be husband. What very painful, very shameful memories it brought back.

Wife the First and I separated before our daughter’s third birthday. There were multiple aspects of my personality she’d come to be unable to stand, as I’d come to be unable to stand several of her own. She especially detested my fervent tightfistedness, and began getting chummy before we actually came apart with the latest in a succession of very wealthy men she’d beguiled. This one, whom we’ll call Horst, was the scion of a German electronics manufacturing family. Like the earlier, to whom she’d been engaged, he was no oil painting in the looks department, and English being his second language precluded his dazzling her with the sort of wordplay that is my own stock in trade. But what an awful lot of money he had.

(Tightfistedness is as natural to me as pollen allergies. I am the son of a mother whose family commonly had in the dark of night to abandon rented apartments on which they’d come to owe far more than they had. My dad’s circumstances hadn’t been quite that awful, but he was no more capable of spending money casually — or even unagonizedly — than walking upside down on the ceiling like a fly.)

One Sunday afternoon, Horst drove WTF down from the wine country to collect our daughter in front of my place in San Francisco. As I watched the three of them greet one another delightedly and then drive away, I felt as though getting open-heart surgery without an anesthetic.

Some months later, my daughter and I were taking a moonlight stroll around our new neighborhood on The City’s western edge when she enumerated the people she loved most, and included Horst. It had never been OK with my mother that I love my paternal grandparents, who she felt had treated her poorly in the first months of her and my dad’s marriage. Now I channeled her, telling my daughter in no uncertain terms that she was under no obligation whatever to love Horst, who wasn’t after all, her real dad. And this after I'd promised myself that I'd do better by her than my parents had done by me. I recall with infinite shame her crying in pained confusion.

It turned out that Horst was actually a very nice guy. Aware of my feelings, he made a point of stepping quietly aside whenever I entered the picture, as when greeting my daughter at the airport when the three of them returned from one of their many visits to Germany. After my daughter performed (with jaw-dropping brilliance) in a school play one evening when she was around nine, I thought I’d finally tell Horst how very much I appreciated his deference. He was so intent on sparing me a confrontation that I had virtually to chase him around the gymnasium. A good guy.

A very good guy. Two years after relocating to the UK, I returned to Santa Rosa to finalize the sale of the house I owned there. I lived in mortal terror of running by chance into my daughter, who hadn’t spoken to me for over two years at that point (and who hasn’t, at this one, spoken to me in eight a half). I could too vividly picture her sneering at me hatefully and walking quickly away. My first morning there, though, I was astonished to hear someone calling my voice in the drugstore where I went for breath mints — Horst. When he told me my daughter was down in Santa Barbara studying cosmetology, I was gigantically relieved — and then overcome by jealousy. How was it that he, who had divorced her mother a year or two before, knew my daughter’s whereabouts while I did not? At the same time, it felt only fitting that, for having made her cry on our walk that night, my heart should be bloated with pain.

The older I get, the more conscious I become of how well my parents did by me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Sara(h) Smiles, Part 15: In Her Hole

I wasn’t expecting everyone on whose door I tapped yesterday to be gracious about their Thanksgiving being interrupted, but when I explained that I was there on behalf of Sarah’s imminent presidential candidacy, nearly everyone changed his or her tune, and invited me in for at least a turkey wing and some stuffing. A couple of people, though, seized the opportunity to make a big deal of Sarah’s having seemingly forgotten the other night that it’s the South Koreans who are our allies, and not the North. As usual, they seemed to view this gaffe as further evidence of Our Gal’s being a dimwit, but if they’d examined a transcript of her interview more closely, they’d have seen clear evidence not only of a normal IQ, but even a higher-than-average one, as you'd expect in someone with a college degree and everything. "This,” she asserted about the whole Korea mess, “is stemming from, I think, a greater problem when we're all sitting around asking, 'Oh no, what are we going to do,' and we're not having a lot of faith that the White House is going to come out with a strong enough policy to sanction what it is that North Korea is going to do."

That, I submit, is brilliant use of the language — sanction being the one word in English that means essentially opposite things (generally, condone as a verb and penalty as a noun). So was Sarah advocating that we support North Korea’s having attacked South Korean civilians on Tuesday, allegedly in retaliation for the South Korean navy’s firing into North Korean territorial waters during military exercises, or penalize them?

Ambiguity is every world leader’s ace in the hole, and Sarah’s clearly got a king, a queen, and a much livelier intellect than many give her credit for in her hole.

And now, by exclusive arrangement with the Department of State, it can be revealed: She might have let the cat out of the bag, but she didn't have her facts skewed. North Korea really is our ally, and all the lamestreamers ridiculing her can just, as feisty Willow might put it, STFU.

It wasn’t always thus, of course. Indeed, in the two decades immediately following the conclusion of the Korean, uh, conflict — North Korea was indeed very much in America’s diplomatic doghouse. But as Japan began to soar economically in the mid-1970s with the introduction of the Datsun 240Z, 260Z and even 280Z, and Casio digital wristwatches, it secretly asked America for help staying ahead of South Korea. Confident that no one would believe us capable of such a thing, since we have never in our history backed a tyrannical lunatic, the CIA worked to help Kim Jong-Il consolidate his power within the Korean Workers’ Party, and American advertising and public relations firms were secretly drafted to sell to the North Korean public his self-elevation to the status of Dear Leader.

It all worked far better than anyone could have imagined. North Korean saber-rattling — and testing of nuclear weapons — has until very recently kept South Korea too nervous to mount an effective challenge to the Japanese, who rewarded us by sending us Ichiro Suzuki and introducing sushi and Casio keyboards in North America. For that, all Americans should be thankful, for no one who has ever tasted good sushi will deny that it is the most delicious food known to man, and you could count the number of hit records produced in the West since 1982 on which Casio keyboards have not played a vital role on the toes of one of Kim Jong-Il’s notoriously tiny feet, which some believe to be webbed; no photographs are known to exist.

The South Koreans tried to fight back, of course, with Samsung electronics and kimchi, a traditional fermented vegetable side dish, but it was far too spicy for the average American palate, and after decades of enjoying Yamaha and Mitsubishi products, Americans were loath to buy televisions, laptop computers, and MP3 players from companies that didn’t also manufacture motorcycles, in the one case, and automobiles, in the other.

Underestimate Sarah Palin at your own peril!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Special: The Grateful Life

I don’t know whether it was the 40 milligrams of citalopram I take every day, or just having gotten fatally fed up with being miserable most of the time, but I have finally learned in 2010 to live gratefully. I have joined the ranks of those who don’t dare if the glass is half full or half empty, but are grateful just to have a glass. It’s been months since I suffered the sort of aching-all-over depression that used to be my default mode. Certainly on several occasions boredom and that too-familiar feeling of futility have nudged me right up to the edge of the abyss, but I seem not to fall in anymore. I’ve finally begun to live the lyrics of the song of implacable hopefulness I wrote on Christmas night 10 years ago when my estrangement from my daughter felt like a knife through my heart.

Once I thought desolation was romantic and sort of cool. Suffering for one's art, and all of that. God, was I fool. Any day you can nearly die laughing or curl up and ache with despair. I choose the laughter. I accept life's dare.

I direct my feet nowadays to the street's sunny side. Often I stumble, Heaven knows. Always, though, I take pride in the fact that I've offered resistance where my demons once had a free ride. High tides float all boats. Misery's defied.

The water gets murky sometimes, but I can refuse to drown. Gazing into the mirror, I can stare my accuser down. You don't get all the days you've spent pouting refunded as you approach death. Between breath and suffocation, I choose breath.

In a year during which a one-time college roommate a few months younger than I died, I am grateful for my excellent health. I am grateful for the love of the extraordinary woman to whom I’m married. I am grateful for the affection of wonderful friends; they are few (my sunny new disposition hasn’t made me less reclusive), but fab.

I’m grateful for my beautiful home, with its view of the Hudson. The sunset Tuesday night was humblingly beautiful; it looked as though the sky were bleeding. I’m grateful that I have plenty to eat, and that my cooking has improved a bit. I'm grateful that the good folks at Central Hudson manage to keep the power on the vast majority of the time. I’m grateful for having rediscovered the work of Scott Spencer, whose writing is on a par with Tuesday night’s sunset.

A year ago, if you’d told me that this blog would have attracted only 17 followers (I somehow managed to sign on in the beginning as my own follower, to my considerable embarrassment), who only rarely comment, after nearly 300 entries, I’d have abandoned the whole idea and treated myself to an extended poutfest. But I’m grateful for those 17, and grateful for the pleasure the work gives me. I am abundantly blessed, and make no mistake.

To paraphrase the Louvin Brothers, I like the grateful life.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Sara(h) Smiles, Part 14: Lovemaking Tips of the Inuits

Another day, another several dozen America-loving New Yorkers pledged to work on behalf of Sarah’s brand of common-sense conservatism next year and in 2012, another several hundred dollars raised for Sarah’s campaign “war chest,” another bunch of blows struck against the Obamarxism that threatens all of us, even those too hoodwinked by the lamestream media to realize it.

Speaking of the lamestream media, a lot of folks yesterday wanted to talk about Sarah’s declaration that she wouldn’t subject herself to more of that rhymes-with-witch Katie Couric's ridicule, as she was on the CBS Evening News shortly after John McCain invited her to be his running mate in 2008. Behold common sense conservatism in action! How would America gain in any way from Sarah’s once again being ambushed with trick questions like What newspapers do you customarily read? and With which recent Supreme Court decisions do you most disagree? When, in the first instance, Sarah said she reads all of them, or at least all the important ones, do you remember how Couric channeled Billy Idol, sneering to beat the band? Well, if Couric were a tenth as smart as she imagines herself to be, she’d have known that Sarah has a degree in communications from the University of a State With Remarkably Few Coloreds, and knows ethical journalism from the sort the lamestreamers purvey. “I want,” Sarah has declared, “to help clean up the state that is so sorry today of journalism.” Hear, hear!

Much is being made by the left of the second episode of Sarah Palin’s Iowa having fared much less well in the ratings this past Sunday than the first episode. Never mind that advertisements for the first show suggested — misleadingly, as it turned out, but that’s to do with the whim of her producers, and not Sarah herself — that the show would reveal the native Alaskan lovemaking techniques that keep her and Todd itching to get behind closed doors together even after 22 years of marriage. According to TV Guide, though, Sarah in the second episode was to show the viewer how to make moose jerky. Interesting, yes, but obviously lacking the maiden broadcast’s “wow" factor.

Naturally, the lamestreamers haven’t troubled themselves to note in the midst of their gloating that the second SPI trampled the debut of Arianna Huffington’s fashion makeover show on PBS. But I suppose you’ve got to give the strange-accented old shrew credit for coming up with an irresistible concept — making middleaged women more attractive by getting them to dress less dowdily and undergo extensive cosmetic surgery. Yes, of course I’m being sarcastic; in the United Kingdom, where Huffington has almost certainly vacationed, one could easily watch such programmes four hours a night.

In other news, common-sense conservatives are very much in favor of today’s National Opt-Out Day, during which, on this busiest travel day of the year, common-sense conservatives and others will advise Transportation Security Administration airport personnel that they decline to be electronically scanned, and want instead to be patted down.

Predictably, the Obamarxists are citing studies by the Food and Drug Administration, the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, and others who probably share their belief in evolution, to the effect that one is highly unlikely to suffer corneal damage or contract skin, breast, or testicular cancer from the scan. But these are the same people who once told us that fluoridating municipal drinking water would help reduce tooth decay!

A lot of travelers refusing to be scanned is sure to cause chaos at the nation’s airports, and its entirely conceivable that a great many Americans will wind up having to delay their big holiday feast until Friday, traditionally the most fervent consumption day of the year, instead of shopping. A lot of retailers will consequently go under, and the recession will deepen. But that’s a small price to pay for being able to ask Big Government thugs as they pat us down, “Enjoying yourself, faggot?”

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Sara(h) Smiles, Part 13: Think Again, America!

A lot of people I spoke to yesterday on behalf of the Committee to Elect Sarah in 2012, and Then Again in 2016, as it’s been renamed to demonstrate how very serious we are not only about taking our country back, but keeping it back, were livid about the trial of Ahmed Ghailani, who’d been charged with 280 counts of murder and conspiracy in connection with the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. It was the Obama Justice Department’s bright idea to try him in civil court, rather than by a military tribunal, and his fast-talking, probably Jewish (let’s call a spade a spade!) lawyers convinced the jury that he was guilty of only one count of conspiracy after the Jewish-surnamed (let’s call a spade a spade!) federal judge disallowed the testimony of the guy who sold Ghailani the TNT he used to blow up the embassies just because Ghailani mentioned him only while being tortured.

As we common-sense conservatives see it, Ghailani should have been grateful for any trial, military or otherwise. You didn’t need to know much more about him than his name to know that he was guilty as sin. The only real Americans named Ahmed are wide receivers or running backs. When you give American kids names better suite for Arabs, you’re only asking for trouble. If Bob and Bill and Tom and Jack and Steve and Jebediah were good enough for generations of brave Americans, they’re good enough for NFL and NBA players.

I’m well aware that a lot of liberals can’t bear the thought of torture, and refuse to be consoled by the reassurance that it’s used only on those with accents as weird and foreign as their names. If it keeps one American child from lying awake at night worrying about hijacked jetliners being crash-landed on his or her middle school’s athletic field during football or even cheerleader practice, though, we common-sense conservatives say waterboard, baby, waterboard!

If there’s a silver lining in all of this, it’s that Obama’s Department of Justice has made clear that Ghailani could have been acquitted across the board and still not gone free, as the President has retained what his press secretary has called post-acquittal detention power, a power not even George W. Bush thought to claim. (Two years into his presidency, Obama finally does one little thing better than Bush!) I can’t imagine any right-thinking American having a problem with the president being able to keep a terrorist imprisoned even when he’s been shown in court not to be a terrorist at all. But neither can I imagine any right-thinking American not wishing it were someone as common-sensical as Sarah wielding the power, rather than a Kenya-born Muslim socialist whose middle name is Hussein.

In other news, Our Gal last week decried the "untruths and exaggerated rhetoric" — the latter a word whose meaning she doesn’t quite understand, and almost certainly can’t spell, but not everybody had parents rich enough to send them to Harvard or Yale, so stick it where the sun don't shine LOL — told by Bristol's ex, Levi Johnston, who can’t spell even Johnson. Typically, though, it isn’t her own feelings this profoundly decent woman’s most concerned about, but those of her elder son Track, who, while helping to liberate the Iraqi people, had daily to deal with the cruel irony of risking his life to protect the freedom of speech of those accusing his mom of being an inattentive parent, a money-grubber, and a shameless fame whore.

Here again, we common-sense conservatives diverge from the elitist liberals. We are all in favor of free speech when it’s decent and truthful and doesn’t promote ungodliness. Were our elitist liberal friends not listening in the 70s, though, when many imbued with folk wisdom, the best kind by far, were saying (and singing!) what goes around comes around? Do they really imagine that we as a society aren’t eventually going to have to pay a very high price for our having tolerated anal intercourse, Lady Gaga, and the proliferation of professional athletes with Islamic names? Think again, America!

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Sara(h) Smiles, Part 12: The Bristol Stomp

I and other common-sense conservatives have just about had our fill now of how plucky, perky, pretty Bristol Palin is being pulverized in the press for still being in the running on this year’s edition of Dancing With the Stars in spite of a lot of allegedly far better celebrity dancers having been sent home in tears. We’re supposed to be ashamed that her success probably owes to the support she’s enjoyed from the countless tens of millions (and counting!) who agree with her mom’s politics.

Am I the first to notice that we hardly heard a peep of protest from the left the past two seasons, when propagandist Michael Moore and then Noam Chomsky, the linguist turned professional America-hater, waltzed home with the Mirror Ball Trophy, apparently thanks to electronic ballot-stuffing by the Obamarxists? I have tonight spent literal hours on YouTube trying to find evidence that it’s possible to dance the paso doble more gracelessly than the elephantine Moore danced it in 2008. Fat chance! And Chomsky’s tango a year ago tonight with partner Edyta Sliwinska was enough to inspire Argentina to break off diplomatic relations with us.

I guess the liberals are as acquainted with the phrases Turnabout is fair play and What’s good for the goose is good for the gander as they are with the brand of patriotism that originally made us great — and will make us great once more when we, behind Sarah, take our country back in 2012.

I think probably Elton John (singing the lyrics of Bernie Taupin) said it best when he said, "Hold me closer, tiny dancer. Count the headlights on the highway. Lay me down in sheets of linen. You had a busy day today."

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Sara(h) Smiles, Part 11: Not Whether to Run, But With Whom?

It’s a little bit premature, but nonetheless a world of fun to speculate about who will make Sarah's best vice presidential running mate in 2012. Not surprisingly, a lot of the fellow common-sense conservatives I’ve been talking to in the mid-Hudson Valley seem to favor Michele Bachmann, who represents Minnesota’s 6th congressional district in the House. They love her fervent common-sense conservatism related to such issues as global warming, which she has quite correctly identified as a hoax, pointing out that carbon dioxide is "a natural byproduct of nature" and actually required by plant life. There's also a lot of residual enthusiasm in this neck of the woods for the music of Bachman Turner Overdrive, with which Congressman Bachmann has no connection whatever.

Other folks would enjoy seeing Sarah paired with a country music icon — a Carrie Underwood, for example, or even the late Tammy Wynette. But it’s generally felt that Underwood lacks sufficient political seasoning and gravitas, and many are fretful that the Democrats might be able to mount a challenge to the idea of a deceased person serving as vice president — though the Constitution doesn’t specifically forbid it — that would prove both financially and emotionally debilitating. Similar problems may well arise with Carrie Bradshaw by virtue of her being fictional, though she would likely make Sarah more attractive to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered voters. Oprah, who would make the idea of a Palin presidency more palatable to the differently pigmented, is out because so few Republicans will forgive her for having endorsed the Muslim socialist from whom snatching the country back is what the 2012 election will be all about.

Surely a lot of people would be more likely to vote for a girl and a guy than two girls, so a lot of male running mates are obviously under consideration. As noted the other day, there’s significant enthusiasm in my town for the idea of Iraq president Jalal Talabani, thanks to his refusal to execute Saddam Hussein’s former mouthpiece Tariq Aziz, who’s a sort of Christian. It’s well known that Talabani loves the idea — the American vice presidential annual salary is $208,000, whereas he’s getting only the equivalent of $13.45 per hour, and no dental or vision or limousine, to run Iraq, but getting him naturalized in time for the election is going to be a very tall order, even with powerful common-sense conservatives pulling State Department strings, and no few Republican strategists have fretted openly about the guy’s surname reminding many voters of the Taliban. It’s comparable to Wyoming congressman Jeff Hitler being passed over as Jimmy Carter’s running mate in 1958.

It’s been almost universally noted that a ticket of Sarah and Mitt Romney would be the most physically attractive in American political history, but many observers suspect Mitt might be very hesitant to play second fiddle to Sarah, as too might John Ellis (Jeb) Bush, the former governor of Florida, widely thought to be less an idiot than his big brother George — not that we common-sense conservatives regard George as anything less than the greatest American president of the 21st century. As far as considering taking a back seat to either of these men, Sarah, having run for vice president already, is all like been there done that.

If she asked me — and stranger things have happened! — I would urge Sarah to consider Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of the Burmese democracy and human rights movements. Talk about mama grizzlies! This terrific lady, who won the Nobel Peace Prize (take that, B. Hussein Obama!) in 1991, has had to learn to do her own electrical rewiring and plumbing while spending 15 of the past 21 years under house arrest, but has still found time both to win a Congressional Gold Medal and a star on Hollywood Blvd. Bono likes her, and so do Hugo Chavez and Christina Aguilera! As with the Iraqi guy mentioned above, some major strings will have to be pulled to get her naturalized in time, but it will be well worth the trouble, as every Asian in the country will vote for her, and probably even a few liberals, who will enjoy the idea of having in office someone whose name only they, in their own minds, pronounce properly.

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