The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." " is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Narrowing the way, or the shad run, whichever you think more important

The American shad is a pelagic fish, which I understand has nothing to do with the fourth century heresiarch Pelagius or his denial of the orthodox Christian doctrine of original sin, a belief that led St. Jerome to call Pelagius an ignorant liar stuffed with Irish porridge, amongst other negative things, and everything to do with the American shad’s preference for living in the open sea far from the sight of land, where calls from telemarketers, bill collectors, and mooching relatives need never trouble them.  Living in the open sea is a good thing; I’m sure the shad think so or they wouldn’t bother living there, given the property taxes out in that neck of the woods, but every year the American shad wearies of this near idyllic existence and gather together in great schools several hundred thousand strong and then head for the rivers and estuaries of North America’s eastern coast like so many Rotarians, Elks, Odd Fellows, or the fraternal organization of your choice going to their organization’s annual convention in Las Vegas.  The shad head for the East Coast of America for pretty much the same reason that our Rotarians et al go to Vegas—sex—although the shad make less of a song and dance about their reasons for heading for shore. The shad, after all, are not leaving the little lady behind to keep the home fires burning; nope, the old ball and chain is going with the guys and aims to have just as much fun whooping it up as they do.  There’ll be no sexual double standards here, thank you very much; this is a Democratic Party stronghold and don't you forget it, buster.

For those of us who live near a river on the eastern coast of the United States, and yes, this category includes me, the arrival of the shad is one of the great signs of spring, along with allergies, baseball season, gnats, and having to do your income taxes, and no sooner does the shad run commence than the highways and byways of our happy little burg become lined to the danger point with cars, vans, pickup trucks, SUVs, and such other conveyances that will hold truly prodigious amounts of fishing equipment.  This annual invasion of dedicated sportsmen is annoying in the extreme for those of us who live here, as our Izaak Walton wannabes seldom bother to look both ways when crossing the streets.  What’s worse, or at least I think so, is that these people apparently believe that carrying a fishing rod and a tackle box conveys upon them some form of immunity from the vehicle and traffic laws of the Vampire State as well as an exemption from the laws of physics.  So if any of you people, and you know who you are, are reading this, please be aware that waving your fishing rod at my thirteen year old Ford will not stop the car dead in its tracks; fishing rods are by no stretch of the imagination magic wands and this trick will no more work with my car than it will with a locomotive coming down the line.  Except, of course, if I run you down, you know the law says it’s my fault, no matter how stupid you were, whereas if the train hits you and smears your dumb carcass over a mile of railroad track scores of people, including me, will read your obituary and mock you for trying to stop a locomotive with a fishing rod, and we will be happy that you have chosen to remove yourself from the gene pool.  Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life to improve the species.  It’s a small victory, but they add up, you know, yes they do.

Arterialscerlosis is the order of the day on the Internet these days as well and I trust I didn’t hurt your neck with that segue to another subject, but I cannot help but notice the increasing narrowing of the information superhighway.  For example, whenever I go online I must face a plethora of ads that promise to teach men fifty years old and over, yet another category that includes me, unfortunately, Spanish, French, and/or Italian with one simple trick.  I know why this is happening; I have been going to my local public library and using the online French language program to teach myself a little bit of the language in preparation for a proposed expedition to the City of Light later this year.  I have not been studying the language assiduously—I do nothing assiduously, I fear, except whine about my fate to all and sundry—and I can categorically state that after two and a half hours of not very intensive study my French is somewhat less good than my Spanish, a language that I have not been studying assiduously since high school.  So I guess there’s hope for me yet. Also, I am not sure that this trip is even possible at this point, and to paraphrase Will Rogers, I am wasting no time on a prospect.

In any case, these cyberlinguistic Burma-Shave signs promising me deliverance from the drudgery of learning French irregular verb conjugations with one simple trick invariably come with a photo of an attractive young lady of uncertain national origin whose primary assets are her nice looks, her nice smile, and her overly impressive bosom, which I do not understand, since everything about this young lady is designed to make me forget the various conjugations of avoir (to have) faster than I learned them. I therefore suspect that she is not the one simple trick the advertisers promise I can use to unlock my inner Cyrano de Bergerac; if she were, then Hugh Hefner would, by definition, be able to speak all the living languages of the Earth and most of the dead ones, including Pictish and Akkadian, high school foreign language programs would require their students to read Playboy as homework from one end of this our Great Republic to the other, and Viagra would replace Ritalin and Prozac as the pedagogical drug of choice in the nation’s schools.  That Playboy is not required reading tells me that learning French and Spanish is more difficult than this one simple trick can handle and that the purpose of the young lady is to distract my attention while these jokers loot my checking account.  The thing, of course, is that I’m not fifteen anymore.  When I was fifteen this dodge would have worked in a New York minute; when most of your body weight is testosterone almost anything sounds sensible if presented in the right package; but a couple of generations have come and gone since high school, I fear, and most of my body weight is cholesterol now, a substance not nearly interesting as testosterone, as I am sure a good many people out there can verify.  Avoir, aurai, avais, ayant…I haven’t gotten the present tense yet, but I’m working on it.

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

nothing yet...

but there's something on the griddle, folks...

Thursday, April 18, 2013

No, I am not dead yet... and other observations about stuff

...although I must admit that I am having increasingly hostile thoughts about my left leg.  I am not sure what I've ever done to it that the damn thing would go out of its way to cause me this much pain, and frankly, I don't care.  It's a leg, it's supposed to do leg stuff, assuming that leg stuff is a medical category. It is not supposed to make my life miserable, and I just want to say that I'm going to get even with the bastard if it's the last thing I ever do.  So, while I'm here, let me just say that I'm glad Mrs. Thatcher got the full state funeral; it gave her one last opportunity to be "divisive."  The usual knuckleheads were out protesting her, and it goes almost without saying that the usual knuckleheads are the people who think they are entitled to a free ride on other people's money, plus those whose bank on the free riders to keep them in beer and pretzels (i.e. liberal politicians.)  The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on. That the caravan moves on in a way that annoys the dogs even more is just an added bonus.  Not bad for a grocer's daughter, I think.

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Saturday, April 06, 2013

Some good news, or at least I think so...

...and on the good news front, two more New York State Assemblymen have been indicted for corruption, although the idea that indicting a politician for corruption in New York actually constitutes news of any sort is a little odd, now that I give the matter a little thought, I have enough money to go to Paris (I think), and all of us here in our happy little burg are looking forward to the arrival of the 17 year cicadas, vast squadrons of which will be bursting forth out of the ground in a sex-crazed  megaswarm any minute now. (God, they are ugly little bugs, aren't they?) And last, and certainly not least, the public approved our budget and we are now looking forward to a week of temperatures in the sixties, not that those two facts are in any way connected with one another.

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Tuesday, April 02, 2013

My next trick, or further news from the health front, most of it lousy

Well, I suppose I could sit here on my aching rump and complain morning, noon, and night, but a young French person of my acquaintance (yes, I mean you, Audrey, and don’t start disputing my use of the word young; I have socks older than you are) states that it is important to maintain a positive attitude towards life, so that is what I am going to do, even if maintaining a positive attitude towards anything for very long really isn’t me.  There are people who see the metaphorical glass as half-full and others who see the glass as half-empty, and then there are those who see the glass as a sinister tool in a contemptible Communist plot to steal Merchandise 7X, the secret formula for Coca-Cola. I count myself as one of these sober-minded citizens, and as such wonder why more of America’s secrets aren’t in the same Atlanta bank vault as Merchandise 7X? From the record, they would appear safer there than some secure vault in the Pentagon.

In any case, I am going to do the positivity thing if it kills me, so here we go with positivity. I have yet to hear from the good folks at the insurance group that handles minor civil servants such as myself.  My doctor wants me to get an MRI, which as we all know, is a prohibitively expensive procedure, and so I am waiting to find out if my plan will actually pay for this. If not, then no MRI.  It’s not like I can’t afford it, if push comes to shove. I got a nice refund from the IRS this year and I suppose I could use that if I had to, but then I would have nothing to pay the school taxes with in September, and I don’t think the teachers’ union will accept my bad back excuse for not coughing up their dough, anymore than they’d accept my diabetes and arthritis excuses as reasons for not paying.  The bastards want their money up front and they want it up front now.  I suspect that most teachers’ unions supplement their income by working as enforcers for loan sharks, but more than one person has told me that it’s not wise to bring the subject up, so let’s just say that I didn’t, okay?

I am also getting a lot of advice on how to deal with the ice pick currently wedged in my back and hip. My brother the Navy man, which does not describe him well, given that three of my brothers have been in the Navy, but let’s just say that this one was in the Navy the longest, he says that I should stand at parade rest and walk in such a way that my legs do not protrude from beneath my shoulders.  I am not sure how this is possible, unless I try to walk like Frankenstein’s monster.  This method may work well in secret laboratories in Transylvania, but I fail to see the utility in modern America.  I should also hasten to point out that it may be possible for a veteran of twenty years of naval service to stand at parade rest for a prolonged period of time, but those of us without military experience might find the prospect more than a little daunting. In short, this is not going to work and I don’t give a damn how not positive this makes me sound.

So while all the bureaucratic wheels are turning, I am living on painkillers in a house where another brother and his wife are visiting.  Since marital discord is what keeps these two together; no, I can’t explain it, either; I must listen to them argue about money, cholesterol, clothes, his weight (she’s right—he could stand to lose another fifty or sixty pounds, but I’m keeping that to myself) from early in the morning to late in the evening. This is why I am on a computer at work whining about the pain I’m in, even though I am off this week, theoretically because I am in too much pain to go to work.  It really is more than a little pathetic, isn’t it?  Well, once I get some good news I will lift all of your spirits with no end of positivity.  Hey, baseball season has started, and that’s always good news! So there you go, good news already! 

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