Fun with words and words for fun

Monthly Archives: January 2015

Rachel went on a play date this morning. She went out with my neighbor who took her to walk with his friend. Girl has no loyalty and jumped into my neighbor’s truck with no reservations and would have gone home with his friend if they’d done that. Interesting. I never had a dog with so little loyalty. But then I’ve never had a dog more friendly than this one. She’s smart and obedient and ready to follow, so lead on McDuff.

Leading on, that’s what this one is about. While Rachel was on her play date, I was watching the news only to see that one tax evader who visits the white house often was calling for a meeting with Hollywood executives because people of a certain color, he asserts, have been excluded from the Oscars this year as a result of Ferguson and Staten Island. Really? And almost in the same breath, the people presenting the story noted that said tax evader had been given thousands of dollars by corporations not to make racial allegations against them. Shakedown artist, tax evader, slanderer (ask Steven Pagones), friend of the President and would be leader of the only group in America seemingly championed by this president, if you can call the effects of his policies on them as championing, he will now purport to determine what films we see, are made, win awards?  And we will allow this? Takes me back to that bill we had to sign to see. We have to confer with him?

The sorry state of affairs we find ourselves in through our wonderful leadership here in America is part and parcel of how pathetic we have become as a people and a nation. If Nancy Pelosi’s ridiculous statement wasn’t illogical enough, think about the logic of the President’s attempt to even out the spread of the wealth. By keeping interest rates at 0 and monetizing the debt, which he said he would not do, he has caused the stock market to soar (the place where you can make profits  when  interest is so  low). The result: the rich who have money to invest have gotten richer and the poor who don’t have the money to invest have not even kept pace with the cost of  living. Including the new measure to procure sick days for workers, each step the big guy takes costs poor people real wages. Bad enough not to keep pace with inflation, worse to be penalized in all different little ways to lessen real wages and make worse the effects of rising costs.

So what’s the game? The leaders know what’s going on. They understand what happens when they take the actions they take. Hypocrisy? For sure! But just that is too easy. The rich leftists aren’t giving up anything; they’re only asking the regular working stiffs to do so, and just so anyone reading this knows, I’m just a regular working stiff. It’s about maintaining a social order. The elephants are criticized as elitists who are bigoted and don’t want things to change. The donkeys have mostly escaped those criticisms because they hide themselves in feigned care and concern for “the people.” They are worse than the elephants since they hide behind fake altruism while perpetuating a system of dependence. Rather than openly encouraging independent thought and action, they want us to sink into the quicksand of mediocrity and complacency by feeding us the sustenance drugs to keep us where we are rather than forging ahead or upward.

It is all a ruse. Shame on them. Worse, shame on us. We spend more money per student than anywhere else in the world yet we rank a pathetic 27th. They have led us out of the American Dream and into third world status. And we follow?

Shame on us.

What will Hollywood do?  Wasn’t it bad enough that North Korea (if you believe that) shook them down and attempted to influence what movies they make? Now a homegrown flimflam man is going to do it?

So, really, who is walking the dog?

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Rachel was having a great time on her walk today, but for whatever reason, the footing was very bad for me and for people in general. Rachel sped along, her usual self, and when I told her I had to go slow, she told me in her happy voice that she had four-paw drive and wasn’t worrying about getting stuck. That said, she picked up a stick and bounced along. If I throw a stick, she won’t retrieve. She won’t even pick up the one I throw. After all, she tells me all the time, she’s not a retriever, she’s a pointer, and every morning she points to the park, and I’m supposed to take it from there.

Of course, that ‘s not what this is about. It’s about what we’re supposed to think and do. The dog has to go out and she’s my dog to take care of and so I have to walk her. In the morning, in the evening, before bed, ain’t we got fun. I know what I have to do and so I do it, and it’s simple. It’s not always easy because sometimes I don’t want to, sometimes I have pain, like lately my knee has been killing me, and sometimes I don’t feel well. So it’s simple but not always easy.

The older I get the more I like simple and not complicated. I like my phone, for example, because I’ve had it a few years and I know it. I know how to use the camera (somewhat) and how to do the basics and how to watch a movie or the news on it, etc. I don’t need something more complicated. My car has a USB port and you can put a playlist on a stick and run it in there and have the music you want. But I haven’t done it. I haven’t even programmed in my phone for hands free. Simple is better. Gadgets are nice and nice gadgets are cool, but simple and practical is usually best all around.

So, not too long ago I was talking to a Rabbi, not just any ordinary Rabbi, but a real learned man, the way Rabbis are supposed to be. Yes, he knows the prayer book by heart, and he can read the Torah without the vowels and not only does he understand it, but he has studied it and knows the commentaries and their interpretations and all of that. He was telling me about how sad it was that some people could never escape the influences of their fathers. More specifically he was telling me about people he knew whose fathers had died but who still lived as if they were being told what to do by them. Or, he was telling me how fortunate one was if one could escape that inner controlling voice and strike out for himself. We had started out talking about his move and mine both of which had happened not too long ago and which were to different places and were catching up on the in-between when we got onto this topic and he went immediately to himself and told me that the things he was saying were not just about other people but applied to him too and he was listening to himself so that he might better hear what he was actually saying about…yes he was talking about being free.

But no one is free. We all might like to think so but we’re not. Try not paying your taxes. Try not walking your dog. Sooner or later Rachel would be leaving me a nice package inside the house.

I’ve often thought about our movies and books and whether or not the forces running the entertainment industry are determining the direction we move in. Certain movies are key in this consideration. Mad Max and Escape From New York are the two that immediately come to mind. They kind of started the direction toward apocalypse we’ve moved in. Apart from selling movies, why does a rational reasoning species have to move toward self annihilation?

So, who is moving what? Why the apocalyptic direction toward Armageddon? If there are big forces out there controlling the direction, why not a kinder, gentler one? These are the sixty-four thousand dollar questions.


I woke up this morning feeling fine
There’s something special on my mind…
Last night I met a new girl in the neighborhood.
Something tells me I’m in for something good.

That’s from Herman’s Hermits, circa sometime in the 60s. I heard it on the radio yesterday and when I started this post, a moment ago, that was the first thing that popped into my brain. But lying in bed this morning, about 7:15, I thought about some of the things we have all backwards. The first one is not  my idea, but it is an interesting one. Retirement should come first in life, right after schooling. I mean look at all the kids who can’t find a job after they get out of school and all of the ones still living at home or moving back home. We should pay them a pension, say for twenty years, let them mess around and then put them to work. This way we can control pensions and the time of payouts and all that detail, and then you work until say 105. But no matter what you do during your pension years, you still have to work for the rest of your life. Instead of unemployment insurance, we should have unemployment police going around and putting everyone to work. Have a kid but you can answer telephones, work answering phones. Then there’s plenty of need  for babysitters. We could even make the babysitters tutors and put them one on one for kids so that creates even more jobs. And while we’re at it, instead of truancy officers, we should have go to school police who summons all parents whose kids are truants. Then we could cut their pension checks or their paychecks, so either way it works out.

It’s better than eating babies and opening up that whole market as per J. Swift.

Seriously, though, the ideas above make about as much sense as any proposed by the socialists, not their rank and file people, but their leaders, the multimillionaires who think we should spread the wealth around but not theirs of course. They deserve more for coming up with their great ideas (like Al Gore who says we should conserve but uses more electricity in a month than the rest of his whole town combined). I could add some much more prime examples, but these days in this country I am hesitant just to say what political party I belong to let alone criticize any hotshot hoity-toities. When we moved to the north east, by the way, I registered as an independent and don’t get me started on that cause I might go into a rant and then get audited.

My father fought the Nazis for it to come to this?

For anyone who knows my family, they know he was three years in a Nazi POW camp. Think I could use that as an insanity defense against  my rant being not politically correct?

Really seriously though, since things are the way they are, after age 66 income tax should be regressive if you are on a fixed income. My pension and social security may be quite adequate today but twenty years from now, even adjusted like with the whopping 1% COLA they just gave to social security recipients, what will it be worth? Regressive income tax, not repressive!

Think about it.  Why should the government take 20% of my fixed retirement income? They should let me hold  some of that 20% for added protection for me and my family for our really old age, and hold more and more of it the older I get and less valuable my fixed income is. Or, regressive income tax.

Did I mention they need to grandfather in the retirement-first idea so I’d be exempt since I worked my fifty years already?  Then, everyone like me who has worked their whole life (I’m using the plural since it is gender neutral and I know that causes other issues) and paid their taxes and done it the right way, not like what’s his name who owes nearly 5 million in back taxes and visits the white house often, would be exempt too.

Better yet, I want to write my own personal tax payment amount contract, but they have to sign it to see what’s in it. I want to do the same with my mortgage and my car loan and the terms of all the contracts by which I am bound. Like someone once did with GM, we just make some things null and void and then I can rewrite them and they can sign them before they read them.

Really really seriously though, don’t forget to agree that you like what I wrote here before you read it and that you will read everything I write from now on before I write it. That’s kind of like someone we all know supporting the school voucher system but then cutting it out in the school his kids go to.

When sense doesn’t make sense, that’s what we live in.

 


I spent more than twenty years in kitchens and it was like a whole  other life. Many of the people I write about in the kitchen stories are real since they exist in real life on some level no matter how they translate into the stories. From the sleaziest manager, and most of the managers were sleazy back then, to the most unassuming waitresses, and most of the waitresses were not unassuming, the people were a trip.

Robert took me in because I did him a solid. It just goes to show that being nice gets you nice. I had an appointment to see my probation officer and he was sweeping out the city hall annex where the probation department was located. He was in workhouse blues; I recognized the uniform because I had just gotten out of the workhouse. I was dead broke, down and out and really needing a job, and he looked so sad, the most droopy puppy dog eyes you could ever imagine. So I walked up to him and offered him a cigarette. I told him I had no money but I had cigarettes and offered him one, and that was the truth because all I had was bus fare home and not a penny extra. He said, “No thank you baby, I don’t smoke.” That was that.

A couple of weeks later, the probation officer called and told me he had a job for me. I went to his office and who should be there, Robert, of course. Turns out he was a numbers runner and had been busted for it, why he was in the workhouse, but he was also the broiler cook at one of the steakhouses in Columbus. He recognized me, and I him, and with a big smile on his face he put his arm around me  and said “Come on baby, let’s go.”

That was the night I started as a busboy, and when I spilled the soup on the customer  (see “She Wants a Wife”) I would have been fired if not for Robert who kept me tucked under his wing like a mother hen. Before that happened, when we walked in the back door to the kitchen, he put his arm around me again and made a public announcement that I was his boy and everyone was to take care of me. They did.

They taught me to do a grill and a broiler and work a line and cut meat. They taught me how to cook, from Grandma’s fried chicken to all Mary’s soups and specials, sauerbraten to pepper steak. They taught me to get high in the deep freeze and to mess with the kitchen girls and waitresses in the store room and a whole lot more mostly about family and taking care of one another. Mary once told me that you never forget your first kitchen family and she was dead on.

All of what they taught me was important for different reasons and on different levels. But the idea of family and belonging was probably one of the most important things they taught. That first kitchen family was a life lesson in acceptance and tolerance and understanding, in discovering that we all need to love and be loved and accepted.

So as we turn the new year into 2015, I never did forget that first kitchen family and I loved them all. Whether in my life I’ve been good at it or not, they taught me about the unconditional love and acceptance that transcend the racial/ethnic/religious strife we find so blatantly apparent in our current world situation. They taught me that from nice comes nice, that doing good is its own reward but sometimes it brings rewards too.

Do good. Be good. Judge not lest ye be judged. One cigarette that wasn’t even taken, that’s all it took. Sometimes so little means so much.

Kiss your kids and tell them you love them.

Happy new year.