Sunday, February 4, 2018


How odd it is being here situated in New York on this superlatively hyped-up Sunday and find myself thinking more about Benjamin Franklin's beginnings as "The First American", (rooted as they were in Boston and Philadelphia) than the grand spectacles of diversion occurring today in Washington and our beloved twin cities of Mary Tyler Moore and Scotchtape fame.

I plan to fight off this malaise first by taking my blood-pressure, cholesterol, and diabetes medications, then reading this article from the New York Review of Books, entitled "The Business of Learning," and follow that up with a long walk among the wooded hills of home with my wife, Hajnalka, before we shop for healthy half-time snacks.

We will be beaten, one and all, so, finally, why not then lie back and enjoy the bloody game?

Saturday, January 20, 2018

10 Words Beginning With the Letter 'B' That You Can Discover Just By Reading Stuff

In my May 2015 post I randomly entered 10 words that begin with the letter "a" that I had encountered in my reading during that month that required my consulting one or more of my reference books. This current post lists 10 words since that previous post that start with the letter "b" that I had to lookup.
brasser: a cheap whore bought for a brass coin
brachycephalic: having a relatively broad, short skull
botts: a disease affecting a horse's digestive system
boreen: a little road, or country lane in rural Ireland
boojum: an imaginary dangerous animal
bombe: A device designed by Alan Turing to decrypt Nazi Enigma messages
bombazine: a cotton, linen, or silk material, in black for mourning
Boadecia: Briton queen who led revolt against Romans c. 60 A.D.
blebs: blisters or bubbles
blart: to sound loudly and harshly like an airhorn

Friday, December 8, 2017

New Old Europe Beckons

It feels strange to know that I’ll be laying-over in Brussels in a few days. Belgium, who knew, is now the restive center of the New Old World. That city of my mother-in-law’s birth will be the first-leg of a Diamond Jubilee, my 75th birthday celebratory visit to a couple of former empires, Italy and Austria-Hungary.

My wife asked me today if I was excited. I answered, “Delighted.” Which is odd, because I have no recollection of using that subtly self-illuminating word before as a response during my first three-quarters of a century here on Earth.

Once upon a time an ugly American heading abroad would not have his arm-hairs bristle, or be made to see formations of Pig-Penish clouds gathering around him. As always, these are new times, and yet . . .

Travelling in the northern hemisphere in December and January is not for the faint-of-heart under the best of circumstances, but these days it is not something as easily predictable as the weather that causes a thinking person to ponder the possibilities of a chance forever lost of finally answering the riddle of the self, or lo, the meaning of life.

History, if one has read any at all, teaches that managing to be in the right place at the right time is an impossibly difficult endeavor, even for the most diffident of homebodies. For starters, Troy was sacked.

So, despite all the trepidations of venturing forth as a representative of the New America: the overriding sense of embarrassment, the full expectation of a reciprocal intolerance, the crying shame of having to bear witness to profound civil failures and echoes of the zippy codas of age-old marching songs, on my honor, I will do my best . . .

. . . when I return (fingers-crossed) to restore the Spirit of ’76.

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Flight of the Petrarch

No immortal hand—mind’s eye created--
This wild unaeried creature on the fly.
Mind-forg’d it rose--self-emancipated--
Sic Transit Gloria Mundi to the sky.

It might be likened to an eruption--
Or tocsin's raucous bellowing ringing sound--
Then the apoplectic cry, "Corruption!"
As its tortured quatrains are turned around.

Beginnings haven't certain ends in sight--
One smooth passage can't promise another--
Yet behold the Petrarch on its first flight--
Rising freely from its earthbound mother.

Reimagine the Phoenix, the Pegasus--
Imagine then a newborn world for us.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

MOMA Loogie

Kaufman hung the golden sardine


onto a canvas

it slid full
to a stop
in a poem.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Unbelabored Points

Having suffered now, and not alone I am certain, through the better part of a year under a government administration headed by a self-trumpeting ignoramus, I have been searching to enlist some simple remedy to cure me of an acute case of befuddlement at the inability of the body politic to fully understand the immense danger in which it finds itself. Perhaps we can begin to take those actions necessary to rectify a very grave situation if we cast-off the blue-smoke and mirrors and see clearly what our feckless leaders in the Executive and Legislative branches of our government have been doing thus far.

Begin by reading The Handbook of Political Fallacies, by the Enlightenment philosopher, Jeremy Bentham, it is a lucid treatise on the Art of Our Governing; a guide that I am sure Donald Trump has had read to him, chapter and verse, as a child.

Following is a brief excerpt from the Handbook which describes the methodologies of our current ruling class and names those fallacies that are being employed to help unravel our national fabric, and put our nation at serious risk at the behest of pernicious leaders and their enablers. I cannot recommend strongly enough that this book be found, dusted-off, and read closely and widely.

"First, the fallacies of authority, including laudatory personalities, the subject-matter of which is authority in various shapes, and the object to repress, on the grounds of the weight of such authority, all exercise of the reasoning faculty.

"Secondly, the fallacies of danger, including vituperative personalities, the subject-matter of which is the suggestion of danger in various shapes, and the object to repress altogether, on the ground of such danger, the discussion of a proposed measure.

"Thirdly, the fallacies of delay, the subject-matter of which is the assigning of reasons for delay in various shapes, and the object, to postpone such discussion, with a view to eluding it altogether.

"Fourthly, the fallacies of confusion, the subject-matter of which consists chiefly of vague and indefinite generalities, while the object is to produce, when discussion can no longer be avoided, such confusion in the minds of the hearers as to incapacitate them for forming a correct judgment on the question at issue."

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Mixed Messenger

Donald Trump, who tweets: “Theatre!” in a crowded fire while home burns, is correct when he says that the nationwide cultural conflagration didn’t start with him, but he appears to have most of America, and the world, wondering and worrying if it will all end with him.

It is a difficult period for any apolitical American (who now ought to fully understand why his precursor was often called out as the “Ugly American”); there is a lack of something vital, call it a moral compass, call it a moral center, call it morality itself; perhaps it's the lack of a unifying national purpose. Whatever label you choose to stick on this chronic disease, there is also a lack of a sincere, intelligent, ethical leadership at many levels of society and its institutions. It is undeniably despoiling and threatening our present and future welfare.

Across the political spectrum from the far left to the far right, staunch supporters and opponents to Trump's so-called "agenda" have begun to express their doubts about his ability as a person, let alone as a sitting President, to govern and guide us out of the dangerous economic and social cultural malaise in which we find ourselves after centuries of painfully slow progress towards realizing an amorphous “American Dream.”

How does a nation whose citizens were bred to be “Individualists”, whether rugged or otherwise, become “Out of Many, One”? Certainly not by condoning bigotry, privilege, or equivocating good and evil, might and right.

We are all of us to blame, of course; and it certainly will take all of us working together to get the ship of state on a correct course before smashing upon the rocks of forever lost potential.