Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Adventures of an American Misanthrope

Chapter One

It should have been funny the way I reacted when the alarm clock went off at its normal time. I turned over in my bed and instinctively began slapping the top of the plastic box trying to hit the snooze button. After several ridiculous attempts smacking the nightstand and even my lamp, the return of silence signaled that I had finally hit the target. The nine extra minutes the snooze button bought were for me to slowly gather my meager wits and begin the process of getting ready for work. But in the back of my mind there was the little voice desperate to make itself know to the greater whole of my stunted being. There was a small piece of information my mind wasn't registering, some vital detail that the little voice was convinced would change my entire outlook.

Instead I began my standard fantasy about laying in a hammock on some remote tropical beach sipping one of those fancy drinks overloaded with pieces of fruit and alcohol. I instantly began relaxing to the imaginary sounds of gentle surf while feeling the calm breezes pass over me. The best part though was the blonde swimsuit model I visualized walking towards me slowly shedding her skimpy bikini exposing her firm, tanned body. For whatever reason, my fantasy fell apart disappointing both me and the swimsuit model who vanished like a ghost. Instead I found myself forced to concentrate on that nagging little voice. For more seconds that I want to ever admit, I was at a total loss as to what the hell I was missing. Fearing for my sanity, I lay in my bed staring at the alarm clock sitting on the nightstand.

The big LED numerals continued flashing “5:00pm” like some angry demon who hated the idea of its existence only slightly less than the schmuck it was created to persecute. As the seconds ticked by I was briefly fascinated at the absurd fact that the fools who designed my cheap alarm clock felt the need to color the plastic that contained all the components like it was natural wood. Was the fake natural decoration supposed to look nice or make the owner proud of his purchase? That's about the time the nagging little voice raging in the back of my head started making sense.

Forty-two million dollars, the voice exclaimed several times. In my mind's eye I had this vision of a normally mild and unremarkable bureaucrat rushing into a conference room filled with egotistical pricks wearing expensive suits and smoking huge cigars. The collection of important men are utterly shocked that such an insignificant speck of humanity would interrupt their proceedings. Forty-two million dollars the normally timid soul screamed at the assembly of self-absorbed a-holes. That's when my greater consciousness finally registered what the little voice was trying to tell me. That I had defied both astronomical odds and commonsense by picking the winning numbers for the Gigabucks Lottery. After Uncle Sam and the great state of South Carolina had taken their share my wealth was now sitting at an amount just north of forty-two million dollars.

I purchased the ticket at a convenience store on a stifling hot and humid June morning on the way home from work. It along with a pint of chocolate milk and a honey bun were sort of a ritual I used to unwind. The chocolate milk and honey bun satisfied my immediate needs while the lottery ticket was fodder for my daydreams. No, I'm not one of those fools who buys lottery tickets with money better used on bills or a legitimate retirement plan. I waste no more than five bucks every couple of weeks on one set of numbers for several drawings. Just the minuscule potential that existed during those times between drawings allowed me to daydream about the freedom and wild adventures that would be possible if by chance my numbers ever hit.       

Due to the twelve hours shifts I worked at my job, the Monday morning I bought the ticket was the start of a scheduled week off, which almost always had me sitting in my apartment watching television or reading. The nice little lie I told myself was that my self-imposed exile was needed to relax and recover from working the 7:00pm to 7:00am shift. But the truth of the matter was that I didn't think much of people. I preferred my own company, something that had only gotten worse since my divorce seven years earlier.

Feeling tired, I was about to call it a night when the local eleven o'clock news flashed the winning lottery numbers across the screen. Immediately I got a chill down my spine even though I was only half listening as the newscaster called them off at the same time. The numbers sounded like mine but I wasn't sure until I opened up my laptop and looked at the lottery commission website. Like any normal person who had literally cheated statistics, I sat at my small desk in stunned disbelief after confirming what seemed impossible. To say sleep that night was next to impossible would be an understatement. However, that didn't stop me from driving up to Columbia the next day and walking into the small office the lottery commission had for people who won prizes bigger than could be paid out at the average conveyance store.

The receptionist at the front desk was painting her nails while talking on the office phone, the receiver wedged between her neck and shoulder. She ignored me for several minutes continuing her conversation with the unknown person on the other end. During that time I learned that her chief complaint in life dealt with her growing disdain with men, her husband's faults being specifically mentioned several times.

When the receptionist finally hung up the phone she looked at me like I was a pesky insect that wouldn't fly away. “Can I help you sir?” The woman asked with a detached air.

I was irritated but somehow still couldn't find a way to express my feelings, so I just came out and said the obvious. “My name is Jason Lance and I won the GigaBucks lottery last night.”

Funny how those few words completely changed the receptionist's attitude and brought out a flood of people from the half-dozen or so cubicles crammed into the small office. By the end of business hours that day I was a millionaire and was the unwilling possessor of the receptionist's cell phone number.


The rest of the week was a daze after I returned to my apartment.  After years of idle daydreams all my elaborate mental adventures had disappeared leaving me at a complete loss. There was no one to share my new wealth since I'm a divorced man with no close family and few real friends. I do have two teenage sons but since my ex-wife had remarried a dentist they had quickly adapted to the fringe benefits of calling him dad.

I didn't begrudge the boys for enjoying their mother's ability to catch such a high class guy and move up the local social ladder. I was just a hourly maintenance chump at a local factory, one that was constantly skirting the edge of being closed if the corporate suits ever looked closely at the efficiency reports that said the plant equipment was out of date while the production workers were passed caring.

A sudden surge of nervous energy made it impossible for me to stay in bed so I stumbled the short distance to the bathroom to just stare in the mirror above the sink. The eyes of the man in front of me were beyond bloodshot while his face looked like an undead zombie who had been hit by a semi then attacked by a pack of angry pit bulls. That's when the memories of the days after getting the money came flooding back.

Instead of going out on the town and celebrating my dose of cosmically improbable luck with friends, I stayed in my apartment and drank myself into a stupor. I stumbled out of the bathroom to discover about a case of empty beer cans on my living room floor and two bottles of tequila looking like fallen soldiers. The forty-two million in my bank account was just a week old and I was already well on the path to self destruction.

“You really need to see a professional about your issues, dude.” A voice behind me said scaring about twenty years off my life.

Despite being thirty pounds overweight, more than a little hungover, and well in my late forties I spun around ready to fight whomever had been in my apartment since I woke up. One problem, the only person I could find was my reflection in the bathroom mirror.

“Holy shit, Jason Lance,” the unknown voice said, “you are exactly the dumbass your ex-wife tells everyone. I'm right here in the bathroom.”

Despite what the supermarket tabloids and cable paranormal activity shows say, real examples of someone slipping into metaphysical realms detached from reality don't really happen. But then again few sane people ever see their reflection talking to them from the other side of the mirror. Even though I wanted to run the hell away, I slowly walked back into the bathroom to get a better look at the apparition talking to me.

Gone was the drunken zombie I had just saw in the mirror barely two minutes before and in its place was a younger version of myself, probably in his early twenties right after my enlistment in the army had ended. Dressed in an ironed polo shirt and wearing jeans without any holes I found my myself slightly embarrassed to realize I was dressed in stained sweatpants and a t-shirt that seemed to be doing an artistic impression of Swiss cheese.

“Hooray,” the younger and better dressed version of myself said, “you have enough brain cells left to follow sounds. Just maybe there is a person left inside that flabby body.”

“You're not real,” I lamely said in hopes of sending the phantasm away.

“And once again you disappoint, Jason,” Younger Me said from the other side of the mirror. “Come on man, punch the mirror and break me into a thousand sharp shards.” It said bemused at my confusion and discomfort.

“Okay,” I said trying to collect a few active wits, “not that I accept this, but what do you want?”

“Oh please,” my doppelganger said, “how about that blonde you were dreaming about before your subconscious sent out an SOS. Dear God, what they say about us guys never getting over boobs are true. Hers were just the right size, bigger than grapefruits but smaller than cantaloupes. You sir are a Michelangelo of hooters!”

Yeah, this exchange was crazy and highly likely to end badly, but like they say, when in Rome. “Yeah, I never really got over Annette Howard back in high school.” I replied to myself. “That's who I usually model my fantasies around since the divorce.”

“Good choice,” my mirror self said back. “Who would have thought shy Annette would become a television news reporter all the way in Seattle.”

“Did she ever get married?” I asked totally in the groove now with my progressing psychotic break and talking to my bathroom mirror.

“You know she did,” was the reply back. Annette married a corporate lawyer two years after moving to Seattle. They were a good looking power couple, the kind political movers and shakers recruit to run for office. It was a true happily ever after scenario with the potential to end up in the White House, that is up until the incident.

Annette was doing a stint as the aggressive investigative reporter out to bust corruption and crime when her news team, and several cops broke down the front door of a mansion used by an upscale prostitution ring. The live cameras feeding straight to the news room and police headquarters caught numerous moral pillars of the community scrambling like cockroaches to get away while getting dressed. Within seconds all were laying on the wet grass outside being handcuffed, except for one guy who was stuck hanging upside down in a closet wearing a rubber suit, with certain key sections missing, and a pink tutu that partial covered his face. Below him were several sex toys, a couple of whips, and various tubes of flavored gels. The most curious feature of the upside down man's predicament were the two naked prostitutes who instead of trying to hide their identity had fallen on the floor laughing uncontrollably as he wriggled like a caught fish.

Truthfully, even the heavily armed cops and cynical reporters found the sight funny, that is until Annette bent down and lifted the pink tutu up enough to see it was her husband. When the dust settled Annette had taken a leave of absence from the news station which turned out to be permanent. As for her husband, within a couple of years he had moved to Alabama, found religion and was soon back on television, this time asking good folks to send him money to do God's work. Proving God does have a sense of humor his political career wasn't totally dead, word was that after changing political parties he was thinking about running for governor of that state.

Coming back to the present I found myself laughing, even my younger reflection in the mirror was doing the same. Despite the fact talking to the bathroom mirror was not a sign of secure mental health I found myself having a good time. That was until my reflection decided to get serious.

“Listen Jason, I'm actually here for a reason. It's probably beyond your abilities to discern, hence my presence, but can you guess why I'm talking to you?”

“Ah, well I'm certain it has to do with the money, right?”

“Dear Lord,” my reflection said annoyed, “I'm talking to Homer Simpson. Yes, its the money you fool, just what are your plans for today?”

“Well I'm going to work...”

“NO! That would be a really bad idea. We're the same person, well sort of, but close enough. You'll go to work with the intention of doing something with the money but never will. There is a high probability you could spend the rest of your life doing the same thing until you keel over in here from a heart attack. The only thing that would announce the end of your existence would be the smell of your decaying body.”

“How about I call my kids? I could take them on the vacation of their wildest dreams.” I say immediately realizing that wouldn't fly either. They had their own lives, friends, and I wasn't part of that equation. Any attempt by me to become an active part of their lives would be a form of abuse.

“Alright big boy,” I say to the mirror “just what in the hell am I supposed to do?”

“Leave town,” It replied. “Get your affairs in order, load up your crap into the back of the truck and just drive. No destination, just go and don't stop until you can't go any further. You have no future in this town, trust me I understand why but you might be able to salvage something of a meaningful existence someplace else.”

That's when the alarm clock went off again. Its shrill screeching reaching deep into my soul. I looked over at the unholy device to see it flashing “5:09pm” my normal time to get up and prepare for work. Doubting the very fabric of reality I rushed over to the laptop and checked my account balance. It goes without saying dreams are serious weird affairs and I had a strong suspicion my winning the lottery was just a secondary artifact of my conversation with my younger self in the mirror.

No, the money was real, the bank website had my balance at forty-two million. I signed out and closed the laptop and walked into my living room. Sure enough, the beer cans and tequila bottles were in their proper places on the floor, that left the question of my conversation with the bathroom mirror. Hesitantly, I walked into the bathroom but the only thing I saw was my forty-seven year old reflection. I still looked like shit warmed over, but that was actually a comfort.

The lesson was learned though, it was time for a change and unlike most other unfortunate souls, I had the means to make it happen. Finding my cell phone proved to me a bit of problem, but after finding it underneath the couch, I dialed my work number.

Hey George,” I said to his voice mail, “its Jason, I won't be in tonight. No reason, but I will be dropping by in the morning.”

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Life Goes On

The smell of the freshly brewed coffee in my cup was already weaving together the synapses in my brain as I plopped into the chair in front of the television. As I settled in with my caffeine and listened to the overly attractive and surely focus group-tested lady read off the leading news, I could feel my consciousness asserting itself even though my body wanted desperately to crawl back into bed. Sleep offered nothing but a pleasant postponement of having to listen to the long worn out machinations of men who are playing a game whose purpose they can't fathom beyond the pursuit of blatant self-gratification.

As the same stories that had dominated the news for days and even weeks were read off there was a bit of perverse comfort in knowing that the shit pile called current events hadn't drastically changed since the night before. A sad commentary on life for sure, but with the nation and world being held essentially hostage by people whose psychologies never rose above that of the average schoolyard bully you take comfort in whatever form available.

The leading story that morning was the super-hurricane that had just run over the island Puerto Rico with all the compassion the current occupant of the White House can muster about anyone outside his family. Funny thing about that hurricane, being the latest in a strange line of “Once in a lifetime weather events,” a person might begin to wonder if some outside force might be amplifying them. Its almost got to the point that our elected leaders should call upon the highly educated and professional men and women who have studied climate and weather for years to look into the matter. If this change in climate is because of something humans have done it would seem a good idea to stop it and work to repair the damage.

Just as soon as the last pictures of tropical destruction faded off the screen the news lady appeared saying she would be back soon after this commercial break. That's when the nausea struck causing me to put down my coffee cup.

“This is my hair!” The now middle aged, former child television star exclaimed as if he had just discovered the location of the fountain of youth. Call it a bizarre notion given our culture, but its always bothered me that many celebrities can't seem to walkaway from the limelight even though the basis of their fame had long since faded into oblivion. This particular individual, the middle boy child of a late 1960's and early 1970's merged television family has tenaciously fought to keep some aspect of his fame. He's no lone ranger with several others in his television family going to equally awkward levels to stay in the public mind.

“I can wash this hair, I can style this hair, this is my hair!” He continued with all the zeal of someone who just a personal one-on-one conversation with God. I could feel the bile in my stomach bubbling as this washed up actor turned reality star talked about how much better he looked and felt since undergoing the the procedure that restored him to a full head of hair. In normal times such enthusiasm would have been reserved for developing a vaccine for polio or finishing a project that brought fresh water to a third world village.

As a middle aged man myself who is severely follicely challenged, I know all the reasons that commercial justified for males having their hair restored to improve appearance or regain confidence is a thinly disguised lie. If the true reason for hair restoration was just for confidence, there wouldn't have been a need for the company to pay a twenty-something, bikini wearing lady to sit in a hot tub beside the grinning fifty-something man sporting an abnormal amount of hair on his head. As a book I just finished stated, our civilization is based on clever fictions we convince ourselves are true. But at some point men should just own up and admit that no matter our age, our chief goal never drifts far from wanting to get laid. I truly feel we would all be mentally healthier in the end if we faced that truth.

Speaking of delusions or grandeur, when the news lady returned her story was about the various speeches given at the opening of the United Nations Assembly earlier this week. Sure enough a video soon began showing America's latest joke on civilization and history at the podium wildly gesturing while exclaiming how he would totally destroy the country lead by the only other individual who rivals him at being a dangerous stooge. It is my sincerest hope that at some point in the future humans will have advanced enough to recognize the aberrant behavior in children that leads to narcissistic megalomania.

From there hopefully they could either correct it or prevent such individuals from ever holding any position of power greater than a city employed gardener. How far should societies go to prevent such maladjusted individuals who crave power like plants need sunlight from pursing their goals? While civilized people like to say the ends never justify the means, depending of how much our personalities are govern by genetics, I'd have to say pretty damn far to prevent anything similar to “Fat Man” and “Little Boy” from ever coming to power again.

Faced with a growing weather apocalypse, crass commercialism promoted by washed up actors, and the immediate threat of nuclear Holocaust perpetrated by mutant trolls, I turned off the television and went outside to sit on my backyard deck. While I was physically able to settle in my chair my mind was still reeling from the complexities of a civilization where the various leaders are acting instinctively instead of intelligently. Seriously, it should totally freak out any reasonably sentient person that the Catholic Church has a better scientific understanding of many of the global problems we face than the leaders of most twenty-first century nations.

That was when I saw the bird feeder my wife had just purchased and had hanging for one of the backyard trees. A bird I couldn't identify and a squirrel appeared to be in some sort of staring contest on either side of the large feeder. With the feeder slightly swinging from their small jerky motions I expected one of the two to leave while the other gorged out on the seed supply. Instead they both pigged out on the seeds for several seconds before both leaving. My sighting of the two animals sharing the bird feeder wasn't anything profound but it did allow me to brush off the residual anxiety from my mistake of watching the morning news. Essentially it showed me that worrying about things won't help the situation and that despite it all life will go on. After that revelation I made another cup of coffee and enjoyed the day.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Relearning Compromise and Moderation

Memories are malleable things subject to current biases and circumstances but I can say with absolute certainty I have always entertained various liberal ideas when it comes to politics and society. Yes, I have to admit that for a short time from the mid-1990's to the early 2000's I bought into the conservative mindset. After voting for Bill Clinton in 1992 I became extremely dissatisfied with his behavior and along with the Democratic Party after several highly visible congressional scandals. I felt the party had become hopelessly corrupt after several decades controlling both houses of Congress.

There were other reasons for my rightward drift but rehashing the ancient political history of those times and my shallow membership in the “conservative movement” would be meaningless. What is important though was that my exposure to the likes of Limbaugh, and numerous other false right-wing prophets made me realize its talk about freedom and self-reliance was largely a lie. As I listened to the usual right-wing talking heads it became apparent that conservatism had quite literally jettisoned rationality and was toying with authoritarianism along with displaying a dangerous fascination with religion having a direct involvement in politics. Lets face it, both Eisenhower and Reagan were great Republican presidents but neither would stand a snowball's chance in hell at getting nominated in today's deranged GOP.

Even though I had fallen to the Dark Side back during the early days of the 1996 presidential campaign I was disgusted with the blatant racism directed towards General Colin Powell on the popular radios talk shows during the time he was considering making a bid for the Republican nomination. To have General Powell, who had served his country with honor for decades, be criticized by individuals who leaned heavily on military deferments to avoid being drafted was an outrage. It wasn't long after that I became conscious of the movement by Republicans to outright reject anyone not fitting their religious and societal definition of what it means to be a true American. Yes, I was guilty of many of these sins myself and have no excuse for my horrendous behavior other than mindlessly following the crowd.

What pulled me back to sanity was Bush and Cheney's Iraq adventure that totally failed to find any of the dreaded WMD's that they assured the American people were on the verge of being given to the 9/11 attackers by Saddam Hussein. Side note: Unlike numerous Republican politicians and radio talking heads, I served in the military and know just enough about remote intelligence gathering to understand that Saddam's missing stockpile of WMD's wasn't an honest mistake. Certain pieces of information questioning whether Saddam had any WMD's were ignored or willfully suppressed while other, less reliable sources were pushed on the public through sympathetic media outlets. Throw in the acceptance of torture by the administration and a large part of the Republican party, the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on a war built on lies, along with the factors I had already noticed and I ran back to the Democrats and my true nature.

Since then Republican actions have only pushed me further left. I found it appalling and even damn scary that President Obama, a man elected with clear majorities in both the popular and electoral votes in 2008 and 2012, was treated like a criminal by an overwhelming numbers of conservatives. At the same time, those same individuals openly admired and embraced the authoritarian thug in Russia, Vlad Putin. A person that murders journalists and dissenters with a casual disregard that Stalin and Hitler would respect.

All that being undeniable to anyone except for fools, racists, and the outright stupid, I find myself increasingly disappointed with both the Democratic leadership and the rank and file members. The Democrat Party leadership seems mired in some sort of passionless limbo unable to articulate any clear route the country might take to overcome the unique challenges we face in this era. They are still terrified of being painted the the party of welfare moms constantly popping out babies to boost their food stamps and wasteful spending.

The response to this lack of a Democratic vision has been the development of a left-wing version of the Republican “Tea Party movement” by those who generally label themselves as progressive. In no way is it an exact copy but it does share the same penchant for ideological purity tests along with a total disdain for compromise. Both of those items are like cancer to a working (small D) democratic system like our elected government.

Way back in 2009 after President Obama took office I remember a lot of Democrats were whining that nothing was getting done even though they had a thin control over both houses of Congress. One person I know on Facebook and the blogosphere even suggested Obama was a Republican/corporate-controlled Manchurian candidate out to just pursue the Bush/Cheney agenda.

Here's the problem that to some self-aware individuals might sound strikingly familiar. Obama wasn't a dictator, yes, during his second term he did start issuing executive orders in an attempt to get something done in the face of a Congress that by then was heavily controlled by Republicans and that refused to work with him. But before the 2010 midterms the Democrats didn't get much done because many of them were in districts that were not politically secure or that outright leaned Republican. Their one collective desire was to get reelected and that meant they couldn't go along with every policy Obama wanted to enact.

Despite showing restraint many of these hesitant Democrats were voted out of office in 2010 anyway. But honestly a lot of that can be blamed on lazy and self-absorbed liberals and progressives who couldn't be bothered to vote while conservatives, now terrified that the Antichrist was in the White House, flocked to the polling booths. As they say, the rest is a sad history with only Putin smiling over self destructive American intransigence.

Funny thing though, all during the Obama years Congressional Republicans had scores of non-binding votes to repeal “Obamacare”, shrilly promising that if they ever regained the White House it would be killed minutes after the new chief executive took the oath of office. Fast forward to the disastrous aftermath of the 2016 election and these same Republicans honestly looked like a flock of headless chickens with their inability to not only repeal Obamacare but their mind numbing incompetence at crafting a semi-workable replacement.

Speaking strictly as an outside observer, yeah their inability on crafting a replacement and getting it approved was sheer monumental incompetence on the party leadership. But the deja vu should have been overwhelming for the rank and file Republican members of Congress from politically insecure districts or ones that usually voted Democratic. It was easy to rage against Obamacare, the rabid base loved it but when it actually came to ending the only means millions had access to healthcare those same Republicans from problematic districts had second thoughts. Oh God I admit it, I thoroughly enjoyed the whining put out by conservative talking heads disturbed that after years of promising to take healthcare away from people their party failed as badly as the proverbial lead balloon.

The one element that everyone occupying the growing partisan divide ignores is that our system of government was built on compromise. YES, it is always clumsy and often as ugly as a mutant pig but trying to govern with just one party in control simply ain't working! When you have one party trying to govern alone the results are wild swings in Congressional majorities with the opposing party using every means to undo or sabotage previous efforts when they take control.

Moderation and compromise are dirty words in politics these days, both political parties feel called by God (one quite literally and the other figuratively) to “save America” from the evil minions on the opposing side. But moderation and compromise are the only way workable solutions can be enacted. I've said it before, while I am firmly settled on the lefty liberal side of politics I am not egotistical enough to believe my opinions are the only way for our country to go forward.

Watch any of the cable news channels shows and it isn't hard to hear both conservatives and progressives say that America is on their side. That any deviation from their proscribed political dogma violates the soul of our nation. A curious sentiment given that it is similar to any number of destructive religious cults that demands the individual surrender their free will and ability to change their minds when new evidence is uncovered.

Such a thing happened the other day when I caught a conservative talk show host on television get a wild, rapturous look on his face when he got the actor Henry Winkler to agree on some point. The talk show host's response was to exclaim, “That means you are a conservative!” in the same way a preacher gets when a person becomes born again. Don't worry, I've seen many progressives (Bernie Bros) get the same way and go into a rage if someone dare suggest their policies might be unworkable or impractical.

How did the situation get this way? That's as complicated as explaining why the Roman Empire fell. Sure, it's easy to point to certain individual factors but lately I come to think we are seeing a cascade effect with many elements involved. Conservatives, who are generally white and well off financially, fear change while progressives rage against a system that, truthfully, isn't fair to the economically disadvantaged and minorities. This fear and rage dynamic plays off each other and brings out the extremes. I have to add that you can't ignore the willfully destructive individuals in our society who associate with conservative and liberal/progressive causes. Their true mission is to sow hate and discord and to burn the world down the first chance they get.

The only simple thing I can find with our collective political constipation is the fact that the only way we are going to extradite ourselves is by getting the vast number of non-voting Americans to regularly show up on election day. The only thing fear and rage accomplishes is to bring in a new congressional majority that will be ejected within an election cycle or two. Allowing the bases of either political party to dominate the nomination process for any elected office is akin to letting an emotional unstable toddler play with matches and a five-gallon jug of gasoline.

If pushed, and if I have drank enough beer, you might get to admit there is a thin silver lining in the apocalyptically dark cloud that is Trump. That abomination is such a disaster that I see a record turnout of voters for both the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential run, even if he is impeached and removed from office. There is a slim chance he might be the catalyst that reengages the members of both political parties forcing them to relearn the art of compromise and moderation. 

Ideally, I'd like to see some sort of unity ticket run for president in 2020. I don't care if the its Republican/Democrat or the other way around, I want rational government that can adapt to the news situations that appear daily both here at home and around the world. Yes, I am still a liberal Democrat but the welfare of the nation and world should transcend our petty politics.  

Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Short Buffett Interlude

Like an idiot, after a long and much needed hiatus I attempted to write some fiction this weekend. After pounding out over a page and a half of lackluster prose I realized it was so bad that I physically began to smell something akin to a long neglected cat's litter box coming from my laptop. So between trying to salvage that disaster and watching Hurricane Irma coverage on CNN I wasted the entire weekend. So instead I will offer up a small Jimmy Buffett video interlude.

While I'm still a fan of Buffett, I've got to admit I ain't feeling the same thrill anymore. Especially since he appears to have mostly transitioned from tropical vagabond singer/song writer/author over to some sort of high rolling resort/real estate developer going as far as offering up retirement homes to aging Baby Boomers. I guess my disappointment in Jimmy's embrace of gross capitalistic endeavors that probably threaten coastal environments that inspired his songs is a minor form of whining. But still, that makes Jimmy more part of the establishment now than the free soul whose songs once told everyone life should be taken at face value because none of us were going to get out of it alive.

Be that as it may, this seems fitting given what people in the Caribbean, Florida, and Texas have endured.

Now how about a little mid-life reflection:

Word of warning, when listening to this song with the volume up DO NOT have your car windows down while as you drive through pickup loop in front of your daughter's school. The attractive 40-something teacher directing traffic in her sundress that spring day didn't appreciate the apparent but totally unintentional  innuendo.

And finally, something to remind everyone life is short and often tragic, so we need to be nice as possible to each other and not get caught up in the bull shit.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

Nomad Feet: Brookgreen Gardens and Pawleys Island

With summer quickly receding all I can say is good riddance. While my loving spouse and daughter went on an awesome trip to Scotland and then down to England I got to stay home and babysit two overactive dogs and two indifferent cats. The problem with this situation being? By now everyone should be well versed in my simmering disdain for both suburbia in general and the contemptuous but pleasant hellhole I live so I will spare you poor souls by not rehashing the sacrifices I made by keeping the home fires burning and the grass cut.

That being said several months before the two left on their glorious adventure my wife and I negotiated a series of day trips to the coast for myself as sort of a recompense for not getting a real vacation. In the greater scope of things, my little excursions were and are quite insignificant compared the their grandiose vacation, but it usually doesn't take much to keep me happy so I was okay with taking these simple day trips.

Last Saturday was my latest day trip and while my original plan to catch a tour boat in Georgetown, South Carolina that would cruise up Winyah Bay to an uninhabited barrier island didn't pan out, my daughter and I did do something else just as good. My daughter, Darth Wiggles, and I decided to hit Brookgreen Gardens down by Murrells Inlet, South Carolina.

Brookgreen Gardens is a 9100-acre sculpture garden and wildlife preserve that was once four separate plantations, whose presence on the property has largely been erased. The creation of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington their original intention was to create a winter home, but she soon decided to use the property to showcase her own sculptures. Eventually the property went public and began displaying the sculptures from many other artists. Today Brookgreen Gardens is one of the major tourists' attractions on Grand Strand and last Saturday it was a refuge for this weary knucklehead.

I didn't get the information on that sculpture but it's one of the first items you see upon starting the tour.

Didn't get the name of this one either, although I take a picture with it on every visit.

This is called "Young America" by Joseph Walter. There is a confidence and intelligence in the lady's pose that I wish our country had right now.

This is mainly a landscape picture but the sculpture on the lower left is called, "Bella and the Bug."

Part of the continuing appeal of Brookgreen Gardens is the serenity of the grounds. I can see myself sitting on the bench under that tree and reading a book. Yeah, part of why I like it is the tree itself, it has a real majesty. 

"The Saint James Triad" by Richard McDermott Miller.

"Time and the Fates of Man" by Paul Howard Manship

Just a nice scene that I really like.

And another, notice the lack of people which wasn't hard since it was still rather early in the day.

Yeah, I dig butterflies.

"Baboon" by Marshall Maynard Fredericks.

Peaceful scene.

The sculpture is entitled "Eat More Beef" by Sandy Scott. The photobomb in the background is by Darth Wiggles.

Nice scene but I didn't get any info on the statute

Cool picture of a flower.

Another nice scene.

No info, but I included it because of its depth.

Eventually, my daughter and I made our way to Pawleys Island to walk the beach. The surf was quite rough that day, so much that hardly anyone was in the water. Little did I know but a storm had formed off the coast. 

Like I said, no one was going out very deep that day. God knows, given the stupid stuff I did as a kid in the waters off Pawleys I should have drowned many times. I sure as Hell never let my own kids do anywhere near the crazy things I did. Best example is that long before I could swim all that well I would regularly go out to the point the water was way over my head. 

Just proof that I did get my feet wet. Getting down to the coast is such a  rare occurrence I often need a record of it to remember. That's all the picture I'm going to publish.