Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Hearts of Bronze.




Think about it. Think about a passage from a Victor Hugo play, perhaps mangled by me but true to the original French:
...Happiness is serious
And asks for hearts of bronze
On which to engrave itself.
Pleasure alarms it by throwing flowers to it.
It's smile is nearer tears than mirth.

Think about the happiest moments of your life--your wedding, the birth of a child, the sight of a parent with dreams fulfilled, or a son or daughter on the way to fulfillment at a graduation or showing off a grandchild.

Hearts of gold are not enough--too shiny and shallow, like party favors. The metal is too soft.

It takes a heart of bronze.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Party Like It's 1999 or 2015--or 1966.



Imagine the New Year Ball dropping in Times Square in 1966, which is pretty much like the Ball dropping in 2015, except that Dick Clark hasn't been there recently.

I attended this party in 1966 with a couple other sailors from the U.S. Navy and concluded that this was the sorriest excuse for a party I ever witnessed. The Ball drop was uninteresting in the extreme and we couldn't wait to pee in an ally and get the hell out of the shivering cold. All around us people celebrated nothing save getting drunk, while we were pretty soused ourselves, passing around a warm fifth of Southern Comfort.

Yet, people rave about these events. "Oh yeah, what a blast! I was  so hammered I staggered for blocks and projectile vomited across Fifth Avenue. People were slipping and sliding on my leftover pizza--including me! Ha ha ha! Look at the lump on my forehead. Ha ha ha!"

Oh yeah, what a blast. You behaved like a hopeless alcoholic and left your mess for other people to
clean up or walk around.

Of course, when you're in the moment, the experience could be good for a life-giving laugh. Believe me, I know.

But, what are these people celebrating? A new beginning? Maybe. Getting another year older? Maybe not. Certainly not throwing out your old calendar for the new one. My guess is that they're just  celebrating being all too human, the good, the bad and the ugly, mostly ugly. It reeks of mob psychology (See a classic analysis by Gustave Le Bon dating back a couple hundred years, entitled The Crowd).

But, don't watch this boring party on television with it's gathering of hired hype artists (they're paid to like it), unless you're thoroughly drunk or addicted to bygone memories. Celebrate getting the day off with someone you love. And wish them a Happy New Year.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Enema Anyone?


Ugh--I had my prostate examined and the doctor said he felt a certain firmness on one side (the prostate is the gland which manufactures the sweet fluid which sperm frolic in on their epic swim to glory). And, by the way, in answer to salacious inquirers--YES, I'm sure the doctor was a man, and YES, I'm sure the probe he used was a finger. He recommended that I see a urologist, so I did.

The urologist turned out to be a tall, dark attractive woman of about 30 years old (Who knew? It's the first time in my life that a beautiful woman asked me to drop my pants and bend over). She agreed with the male violator that my prostate contained a suspicious "nodule." When I objected to yet another doctor's appointment, she gave me a rundown on the insidious advance of prostate cancer.

Cancer? What the hell was she talking about? My doctor never told me that firmness in the prostate is a red flag for malignant cancer.
She recommended a biopsy, so I agreed.

They give you antibiotics for the procedure which are clearly labeled, "antibiotic for prostate biopsy, so the lady behind the counter at the drugstore says to me, sotto voce, "You know, it's the best kind of cancer you can have."
Hey-hey, nothin' but the best for me!

As for the biopsy, I imagined a little Pacman on the end of a tube curling up my backside and taking a little munch, but it was more like a snakebite--twelve times! (You'll hear a little pop, the doctor says). They inject  you with an anesthetic first, but you still feel a little shock of pain and wonder, "How many god dam samples do they need!".

One of the preparations prior to the biopsy requires you to give yourself an enema. The problem is you can't buy just one enema at the drugstore--you have to buy a package of two. Okay, I used one, however reluctantly, so what do I do with the other one?

I hate waste. That's why I save half a paper towel, use the backs of printed paper, and eat suspicious items from the back of my refrigerator. But, what the hell do I do with an extra enema?
"Put it on ebay," a friend suggested, laughing.

The biopsy turned out to be good news--no cancer, my "nodule" is benign--but I still have the problem of an extra enema.

Maybe I should walk into the cafeteria and make an announcement: "Anybody want a free enema?"

That oughta clear the room.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Tom's Election Coloring Book


Three cheers for the red, white and blue.

On November 4th, we'll pick a whole bunch of "leaders." Never mind that most of them will be lame opportunists, looking out for themselves--they DO make a difference, especially for your children and grandchildren. So pick your poison, red or blue, print these maps, get out your crayons, prepare your snacks and watch it on TV. It's more exciting than a Superbowl, if you ask me.

The colored areas on the map represent the places where there are no elections, so the "leaders" in these places will stay in place for at least the next two years. Fill in the blanks on November 4th, red for Republican, blue for Democrats.

For those of you who daydreamed through geography lessons, here's the cheat sheet:



Voting is the best you can do. After that, the best you can do is to have fun with it.

Crayons rule!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Bachelor Kitchen Tips: Save Money.



Always save your leftovers for the next meal. In a pinch, when you absolutely can not tolerate another bowl of macaroni and cheese, you can freeze it. Later, it may not taste like Mama used to make, but it will keep you from eating your marijuana plants to stay alive. Throw all this crap into a frying pan or pot of water, and it can be surprisingly tasty.

That's how the Irish invented their famous stew, which tastes like a water-logged potato, half an onion, one carrot, and a few meat shavings from the bones of a skinny rat (In the days of the camel caravans, all those great spices from the Middle-East and Asia never made it across the English Channel to teach those people how to cook, so that, across the generations, their taste buds atrophied into nothing more than little food-grinder-helpers for the teeth. To them, a boiled potato taste the same as a jalapeno popper).

Of course, you don't want to eat anything poisoned by bacteria, but testing leftovers is easy. I always go by my father's scientific technique: Look, Sniff, Taste. If it looks good, smells okay, and tastes okay, it's good. Shut up and eat it. If you detect a sour odor from the milk carton, it's only from the film of milk on the inside of the carton getting overripe. Bottoms up.

The result of many years of such fatherly training is a stomach that could digest a bowling ball spiced up and heated to a temperature of 350 degrees without so much as a hiccup.

Never throw out leftovers unless the growth on it reaches a height of one-quarter inch. Mow the growth off and heat the remaining lump enough to kill all living things. Let cool and eat.

I have more tips, but I'm anxious to get to my "Recipes" chapter.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Goody Two Shoes.



I love exploring, even if the object of exploration is only insect life under a rock. That's why I'm reading this book about Polar exploration. It's amazing what those guys went through, frostbite, starvation, scurvy, gangrene and death, yet they kept going back for more, again and again.

None of that for me. I was heading for San Diego on vacation, no icebound ship, no freezing and, most importantly, no dying. And I could even travel with my trusty partner, Gayle, plus see my long lost brother, Jim.


My brother, who's been living in San Diego for many years, dropped us off at a beach in nearby La Jolla. "Follow the beach around the point, and I'll meet you with my RV at the grass hut on the other end of Windansea Beach. You can't miss it," he said.

So Gayle and I strolled south along the beach, which very quickly turned into rock-hopping and raging surf. And it only got worse as we went along. A concrete wall loomed to our left, protecting the beach houses twenty feet above. Gayle stopped atop a rock and stared at the treacherous-looking rocks and surf up ahead. "I'm not going there," she said.

"Come on, it's an adventure. We can explore a place we've never been--the thrill of discovery!"

"Right. I'm gonna take the street around to the grass hut."

"Come on! I'm taking the surf road, the road to adventure," I said, trying to entice her.

"See ya," Gayle waved, picking her way across the rocks in the other direction.

Okay. This was a challenge, and I was up to it, so I pushed ahead carrying my shoes in one hand. I had to wait for each wave to recede before I could find the negotiable rocks to hop along, until I met a young guy on the rocks going in the other direction who pointed at the surf with his swim fins. "Have you ever seen it this bad," he asked?

"Uh, no, I'm from New Hampshire."

"I've been walking this beach for twenty years and never saw it like this. There's a storm out at sea. Normally, you can walk on beach sand all the way around the point to Windansea Beach."

I looked at the mess ahead--nothing but raging white water and rocks. Here's a picture of Windansea Beach I found, taken after a big storm:


My exact location would be somewhere behind that white water, on my way to the nice beach sand which usually occupies the foreground.

"There's a staircase in the wall ahead," my rock-traveling compadre suggested. "You might want to try that."

I made it to the stairway, but not before gouging my bare feet all over old piles of concrete and rough rocks, then, being bashed against the wall by raging white water that splashed off my back and over my head, soaking me and my highly valued cigarettes.

The stairs were steep and slippery, with an ominous black iron gate at the top. I crawled up to the gate and untwisted a wire that apparently held the gate closed, though it seemed to be stuck. I wanted both hands to grip the gate, so I threw my shoes through the bars, one at a time, clinging for dear life and shaking it as much as I dared..

But the gate wouldn't budge, so I peered around and discovered that there was a padlock on the backside (the "thrill of discovery")--those rich folks were protecting their beach houses from all intruders.

I looked south to the point and decided that I'd never make it, so I looked forlornly at my shoes on the other side of the gate--I'd never find them in the private yards among the blocks and blocks of beach houses over my head.

I had to go back, so I fought my way back over the rocks and walked around the point through the streets as the hot sidewalks burned my feet, limping and wondering how Gayle found her way, wondering if she was okay. At the other end of Windansea Beach, I found her, gazing placidly at the blue Pacific.



"I was worried about you," I said, still wet and nursing my aching feet.
"I'm fine," she said, "What happened to you?"
After I told her my story, scolding her for abandoning me, she nodded in satisfaction. "There are good choices, and there are bad choices."
Sure, she was fine, sitting there in her dry, comfy white sneakers enjoying the view--like the rest of the Goody Two-Shoes, like the ultimate Goody Two-shoes--Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, who, with a click of her heels, could conjure up beautiful sky and water and fresh breezes without a single thought of the sharks and sting rays and poisonous jellyfish out there.

Where were MY two goody shoes?

"What are you laughing at?" I demanded.

"There are good choices, and there are bad choices," she intoned again in a sing-song voice.

I grimaced in fear at her words, fear that some night soon, I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming at the echo.
"There are good choices, and there are bad choices. There are good choices and there...."

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Bachelor Kitchen Tips: Leftovers.


If opening the refrigerator door stinks up your whole kitchen, you may have to do a thorough search of its interior. Wear latex gloves if possible and rummage carefully--you may run into things that could not only spread disease but also make a mess, of which you have enough already.

If you remove the lid from a pot stored way back on a shelf to take a sniff, and your head jerks back violently, there's your problem. The contents will be mysterious and soft, but whatever it is, you can easily scoop it into the toilet with a large spoon while you hold your breath. Flush immediately, but don't throw out the pot. They're expensive. Leave the lid off and push aside leftover debris to make room for it on your counter for a few days--so that the contents dry into a harmless solid crust, then clean the pot thoroughly.

Use a power drill with a wire brush attachment if necessary.