Posted by: JDM..... | January 31, 2013

There I go…

…taking myself too seriously again…

too serious_450

Posted by: JDM..... | July 4, 2014

Portrait versus baloney sandwich

at least the sandwich merits some bread….

The new portrait of Prince William was unveiled the other day to the sound of one hand clapping, and that was the hand of the artist himself. His other hand was busy alternately patting himself on the back and thumbing his nose at critics. This is the same artist who had excreted the 2013 canvas of Queen Elizabeth as well, with a similar response. Having seen photos of the items in question, I have to concur with those who thought them to be uncomplimentary and amateurish.

The portrait itself was a minor yawn, but the artist seems to be that and more. Art is many things, including an ability to see the universe in ways the rest of the world can’t imagine, and the willingness to actually create representations of those visions in their chosen media. To be an “artist” also requires ego strength and perseverance, and a certain amount of technical skill, whether self taught or acquired through formal instruction. In most cases, even when all or many of those qualities are present, the one thing that can mean the difference between making a mess and making a living is salesmanship. A touch of insanity never hurts, but substituting sophomoric arrogance for shortcomings elsewhere may.

When the vision, the skill, and presentation are universally appreciated, little salesmanship is needed. Who could find fault with the work of Andrew Wyeth and others that have survived the erratic changes in society and culture through the years? Art appreciation is highly subjective, however, and if I turn my nose up at something that has been presented as “art”, I have to realize that in order for it to have drawn enough attention to reach the public eye, it must have a reasonable number of people who actually liked it. Although Picasso was a highly skilled artist in the “traditional” sense, it was his “cubism” that engraved his name in history. I don’t like it. It looks to me like something my daughter etched on the living room wall with aerosol cheese as a toddler.

And then there are those of marginal talent who, unable to attract applause silently, resort to salesmanship and theater. The artist who unveiled his rendering of Prince William took matters a step further, however, and crassly dismissed those who did not like his work, boldly announcing that he really doesn’t give a toot if the people like it or not.

He flipped off criticisms by saying “When a work is complete I discard it like a used condom,” which most likely gives a rather telling caricature of both the artist and his product.

It has been said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and that is quite true in my opinion. However, before declaring oneself above vulnerability to public opinion, the artist might benefit from asking exactly what it might be that he expects to pay him, and from learning the difference between cheers and Bronx cheers.

So, I see the artist as a marginal portraitist who offsets that deficit by being successful as an egotistical bull shit artist instead. I’m not very good at salesmanship myself, an assessment to which my few sojourns into that field of endeavor have attested. However, I do think my cartoons are significantly better than his portraits, although I’m certain he would neither agree nor care. Similarly, of course, I wouldn’t really give a northbound rat’s south end about his opinion of my work, either, assuming he would stop making love to himself long enough to offer one. Which reminds me, I wonder if he uses a condom?


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Posted by: JDM..... | June 30, 2014

What’s good for the gander.….

not good for the goose….?

If Donald Stirling can be stripped of his right to own the Los Angeles Clippers because he made allegedly “discriminatory” comments in a private conversation, and if the Washington Redskins can be punished by having their trademark registration cancelled by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office because it has been alleged that the name the franchise has carried for 81 years “may disparage” individuals or groups, doesn’t it stand to reason (sic) that The Miss America Pageant and the Miss Delaware organization committed “age discrimination” when 24 year old Amanda Longacre was stripped of her Miss Delaware title and all associated benefits two weeks after she was crowned on grounds that she is allegedly “too old”?


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Posted by: JDM..... | June 9, 2014

Executing good ideas.….

in the bloodier sense of the word….

Every bad idea started out as a good idea. It’s not that good ideas somehow spontaneously transform themselves into bad ideas, but that human beings have an innate need to mess with things. Take religion for example. Here is a phenomenal mechanism to bring group cohesion to countless independent nomads in the process of forsaking the traditions of hunting and gathering in favor of living in static communities so they could grow grain, brew beer, and invent bread. What a great idea! Acknowledge the existence of deities taking care of the group and making rules for them to follow, come up with a few shamans to deal with the food supply and play “Daddy” for the community, and voila. Western civilizations came up with the name “God”, or some variation thereof, and imbued him-her-it-they with a strict persona but one of boundless love. The problem was, and of course it “was” almost immediately, that there were as many variations of the Big Kahuna as there were groups developing cohesion. Between that sentinel moment in time and the one that just terminated while I was trying not to spill coffee on my new keyboard a second ago, I’d wager humanity has slain, tortured, beheaded, hung, drawn and quartered, stoned to death, in the Name of God more fellow human beings than have died in all of our wars, diseases, automobile accidents, suicides, dog bites, and pissed off cuckolds combined since the beginning of time. We’re supposedly at the top of the food chain at an infinite Smorgasbord, and yet we opt to consume ourselves.

Moving right along…..I mean, we obliterate virgin woodlands, build houses on the remaining desert, and then go about the business of ….. wait for it…..planting grass and trees! I don’t know how many tens of thousands of years ago the monkey’s nephew first eyeballed a bird and thought it would be pretty nifty to fly like one, but the minute he actually accomplished the feat, he was compelled to roll over and FLY UPSIDE DOWN! No other living thing is capable of exhibiting such perpetual arrogance, with the possible exception of the house cat. Maybe that’s why so many of us love them as pets. Lions and tigers and bears don’t build zoos for themselves under the presumption that they can create a better faux jungle than the original model.

To compound our incongruous concept of logic, we are completely aware that we do this, at least in hindsight. While we frantically rearrange the statutory furniture so the future generations won’t repeat our mistakes, we spare no potential opportunity to engineer new mistakes for our hapless descendants to deal with in a similar manner. The adage “Same shit different day” didn’t just pop out of the ether for no reason, after all.

But, that was then and this is now, so to speak.

According to an online NBC news item, an organization of British geeks announced that a computer program has finally been developed that can convince a panel of geeky judges it is actually human. Isaac Asimov and countless other science fiction writers have played this tune in print for decades, but, apparently, it now has stuck a toe in reality and at least one of Academia’s cerebral “Good Idea Farmers” has already broken the ice with predictions of wondertude for the digital doohickey in the service of mankind.

A professor from the University of Reading sees the Good Idea side of faux-people acting as mercenaries in the fight against “cyber crime”, and then creates the inevitable portal to Bad Idea Land by generalizing the technology into some non-specific, omnidirectional “communicator” with the single overall ability to lie to us and get away with it. First of all, that would seem like an immeasurably frightening proposition. Secondly, that “idea” is the exemplar of reinventing the wheel since humanity has been performing that little parlor trick in-house since some grunting hairball became the first one to stand upright.

That’s all I need, some ashen mobile computer carrying a briefcase and clad in a black suit knocking on my door to talk to me about “I Robot.”

Imagine being pulled over on the Interstate by R2D2 on steroids.

I can almost hear “Hal” laughing his motherboard off when I discover that my bank account has disappeared and that my name has been legally changed to some unforgivable obscenity in an extinct language

The list goes on, but I’m terrified that I might come up with a good idea, and that would be a bad idea, so I think it would be a good idea if I quit right now.



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Posted by: JDM..... | May 4, 2014


silver tongued statist

Posted by: JDM..... | April 30, 2014

The religion of PC.….

and the word police…..

Being retired with a lot of time on my hands, and essentially the same attitude I had when I was eighteen, curmudgeonry was a natural for me. I’m one who, if shown a painting, is compelled to take it off the wall and look at the back, and then re-hang it upside down, just to see how it looks and make note of how my responses might change.

I can’t help but look at the news each day in the same manner, “taking it off the wall to see the back, and re-hanging it upside down“. I wouldn’t necessarily say I have a personality disorder. I’d just say I happen to see my universe through the (left) eye of a cartoonist, and through the (right) eye of an editorialist, both of which I’ve done since my high school newspaper days with varying degrees of reward and consequence.

I’m not particularly surprised therefore, that the brouhaha over the alleged behavior of Donald Sterling, owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, got my attention and won’t let go. True to form, and with absolutely no apology or thoughts of changing my stripes, it isn’t the rotten behavior itself that interests me, though it was undeniably crass and low rent.

If you rummage around in anybody’s laundry basket you’ll find something you’ll wish you hadn’t.

What fascinates me, and riles me, are:

  • 1- How the incriminating tapes were obtained in the first place, and the largely unanswered questions of by whom and for what purpose.

  • 2- Reportedly, they’ve known for years that Sterling’s personality and character didn’t exactly parallel his name, but there has been virtually no reaction to that state of affairs until now. Why? What is to be gained now that wasn’t available before?

  • 3- Unpopular credos, offensive words and behaviors, and being obnoxious to unimaginable levels have always incurred the wrath of whatever society they occurred in, including the United States, but I am dismayed that we have reached the point where a man can have his wealth confiscated and his freedom to own property curtailed because of something he said or is reputed to think.

I’m more than dismayed. I’m offended. I’m angry. I’m concerned about the future of this country.

If some unnamed person was to sneak into my home and hide recording devices in order to capture my every display of rude speech, politically incorrect comment, possibly treasonous remarks, reputed cardinal sins, free-range potty mouth, and various shameless body noises, with the intent to publicly distribute said “entertainment” (Which I would be the first to admit would be inappropriate for that venue, and wasn’t intended for it anyway), I’d be spending my time in a court of law for assault with a deadly weapon, not for the naughty things I might have said before I shot the son of a bitch. Lucky me. Billionaires and such don’t normally find their way into court. They get to run the media gauntlet and suffer disembowelment or beatification according to whims of Neilson Ratings and various Press Associations instead of according to the rule of law, and whether or not they actually did anything criminal.

That distinction, of course, is muddied by political spikes and creative legislation by those empowered to hem and haw over what’s criminal and what’s not.

Don’t scoff. The hard drive on my computer isn’t big enough to list the collection of asinine laws that have been passed in this country just in my lifetime, both on the local level and federally.

That is not to say there haven’t been a great many truly brilliant and courageous actions taken by various ruling bodies. There have been. It is not just because of creative imagination that Americans have long felt justified in strutting about and being proud since before my great-great grandfather was born, but if something doesn’t change soon, creative imagination may become the primary standard all too quickly.

I have experienced or witnessed the phenomenal changes that have taken place in our society since the middle of WWII. Many of the changes between that world and today have been very positive, but a significant portion of those changes actually took place decades ago. In our efforts to smooth out the rough edges since their inception, however, some really unfortunate circumstances have been permitted to develop.

In a nutshell, we have not necessarily eliminated the evils of discrimination, favoritism, and so forth as much as we’ve played a game of musical chairs with them, enforcing the outcomes with special rules and regulations to the point that one of the most elite and privileged designations one can attain now is to be part of a “special interest” group. Woe be unto those who are not so associated should they say or do anything that hurts the feelings of, or annoys, those who are.

The drawing and quartering of Donald Sterling is a prime example.

Those inclined to march in step and those who are more concerned with being politically correct than in being correct will, of course disagree with me and may even seek to discredit my elevation to Second Class as a Boy Scout back in the early fifties, or something. No matter. When I express an opinion, I either stand behind it, or recant if I come to believe I was wrong. I don’t think I have recanted because someone else thought I was wrong since I left home so many years ago, and I stand by this one.

Make no mistake. The statements made by Donald Sterling that were recorded were repugnant and offensive, especially to the athletes and men of African heritage who, understandably, took his remarks quite personally. But, amidst their anger and indignation, perhaps they would do well to recall that, in addition to risking unprecedented defiance and determination, it was the courageous, sometimes dangerous, and always hard fought application of the rule of law that removed them, their parents, and perhaps even their grandparents, if they are young enough, from the pall of inhumanity.

Even so, their mission is not yet finished, as some of their noted leaders have said, but that is not simply because they haven’t managed to check off everything on their lengthy agenda yet.

They will find that their campaign will be won only when they choose to stop looking behind themselves and start looking forward.


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Posted by: JDM..... | April 26, 2014

More on quick-draw apologies.….

and wooden nickels…..

Remember when you were a kid, and you were in the process of taking some sort of risk, and about a nanosecond before anything bad actually happened you found yourself already loading up the phrase “oh, shit!”….? After seven decades of launching that expression, among others, I can say with some level of confidence that the process has very little to do with “instinct” or “gut feelings”. I suspect the World’s Favorite Expletive is solidly based upon foreknowledge, which in turn is based upon at least a rudimentary understanding of the physics, chemistry, biology, morality, ethics, probability coefficients, and human psychology most likely to apply to the behavior in question, as well as to have the greatest influence on the ultimate reward or consequence.

Lest those disinclined to commit potty-mouth flirt with the delusion that absence the expletive equals absence of emotional response, or that it perhaps makes one immune to miscalculation and misjudgment, let me clarify. The Prime Directive, otherwise known as the “Life Happens” rule, mandates that, unless one is a plant or lichen, living things screw up from time to time, intelligence and piety notwithstanding. Upon occasion, the Most Perfect Person in the World (reputed to be a cousin of The Most Interesting Man in the World, of Dos Equis renown) actually steps on his own shoelace, breaks a yolk, or is simply in the wrong place at the wrong time when someone on the third floor of the building he is strolling by, in all of his wrinkle-free excellence, forgets to yell ” garde à l’eau!” before pitching the slops out the window. While he may not launch into a tirade that turns his teeth brown just before they burst into flame, the same thought process and response can be expressed quite nicely in any cultural niche. For example, I recall quite clearly how my father’s ears would redden just before he would lose control and bark “Doggonit!” I wasn’t around to observe how he handled allegedly unanticipated events when he swiped his father’s pistol and sneaked down to the local quarry to play ricochet games. I know “aw phooey” wouldn’t cut it for me when ducking screaming chunks of jagged lead in a rock pit.

The point is, the very fact that we universally utter something between “golly” and some filthy Anglo Saxon construction just before the feathers or what-have-you hit the fan is proof that we know darned well the nature of our acts and how they are likely to turn out.
We know. We just choose to go for it anyway. I will make some small concession to the possibility that one’s chosen verbiage might be spontaneous and sincere in that it could stem from dismay or disgust at not having gotten away with breaking some natural or man-made law.

That said, I would like to propose a moratorium on specious apologies and smarmy public butt-bussing sessions on the evening news. Few people actually believe that shtick anyway. It’s like “Have a nice day,” or “how are you?” Most such exchanges are knee-jerk responses based on social conditioning, and completely insincere. Being introduced to a stranger accompanying someone you met three months ago and you only recall by a first name is a social requirement, as is telling the grinning mannequin that you are pleased to meet him/her, and then, that you hope he/she has a nice day. Deep down, most of us really don’t give a toot on either count. Not that we wish plague and pestilence on the hapless pawn of social convention, any more than they would wish it on us, but the feigned interest is shallow and we all know it. In truth, such responses to strangers and shunned acquaintances on my own part would only be sincere if intuition or a surreptitious bribe ahead of time ensured me that my ego or my bank account was about to be significantly inflated.

Whenever yet another politician or some entertainment world Narcissist bellies up to the microphone, dials up the appropriate eye contact and Face of Contrition, and grovels for a positive reaction to some real or imagined transgression, I am reminded of how an errant child, caught elbow-deep in the cookie jar, quickly stuffs a last treat into his cookie hole and then drags out the Drama 101 Countenance of Remorse before spitting out a crumb-encased, muffled, and somewhat untidy “I’m sorry.”

As I try to devise a way to honestly subscribe to such a moratorium myself, I also have to acknowledge that…..

I have never regretted anything that I didn’t most likely enjoy the hell out of first

So, what can one say when chewing on the impulse to blurt out a culturally prescribed apology because somebody disapproved of something one said or did? Nothing? I don’t think there is a one size fits all answer, and that’s the point. Therefore, I think the best answer would be to “wing it”. Each has to do what is natural for him or for her rather than spit out some canned pap that few believe.

If, after having spent considerable time reflecting on my deed and its possible impact, I honestly regret a recent action, and can state why, then I may find it to be in my own best interests to discuss the revelation with those I may have offended. I say in my own best interest because I find it easier to apologize to someone else for something I did than to myself for something I didn’t do. Snapping off a quick-draw grovel-fest before the dust has settled on the suspected transgression is as pointless as it is transparent.

Similarly, what can one say when subjected to such a honey-dipping by someone else, whether one cares about, or is even aware of, whatever it is that the self-flagellator is going on about? Sometimes I might ask whether they are “sorry for the act or sorry for being caught“, but more often than not I do nothing at all. Why bother? I think the empty CYA apologies speak to the times. Genuineness is not the trademark of the twenty first century. Appearances are the gold standard, like the scenery on an old western movie set. We didn’t just switch to such a tune on the spur of the moment. It has taken the rabid dedication of an entire generation to nurture it into self-sustainability, and I don’t expect it to change any more swiftly, but it will eventually. There comes a time when even Narcissus himself has to gag at what he sees.

In the meantime, don’t take any wooden nickels……..or holographic apologies, either.


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Posted by: JDM..... | April 22, 2014

The Picture not Taken.….

The adage advises that a picture is worth a thousand words, or some variation thereof, but what of those poignant moments that occur so unexpectedly and briefly that they can only be recorded in one’s mind? Who has not pleaded to nobody in particular that if they only had a camera…..?

And then, there are those moments when, though an event or circumstance may be so arresting as to demand preservation, the distant whisper of a dying ethic reminds that this one, for whatever reason, may not warrant brazenness. These vary in nature. Perhaps it is a private moment, and should be respected as such. Perhaps simply snapping a photo because one can would be especially crass or inappropriate. Unless one is a paparazzi and the only warning to be heeded is when one is about to be shot, there is always an element of judgment involved when one chooses to step outside of the realm of stiff family “snap-shots”, birthday parties, and Uncle Pete having a few too many at the family picnic.

I thought of that this morning as I left my driveway and aimed the Buick towards the road to town on an errand. Many years have passed since my tenure as a small town editor and wanna-be AP/UPI “stringer” (though I did manage to sell a few), but the rules of the road remain embedded in my memory, springing to life whenever I head out the door on a mission with my camera. These days, my subject matter is rather benign. Seeking that Nobel view from a rooftop or tree being generally off limits at my age, I tend to specialize in redundant sunsets and pet shenanigans. My eye doesn’t know retirement, however, and from time to time I encounter one of those moments.

As I drove down our quiet street, my neighbor was doing what we all do when the snow pulls back enough to reveal the annual moraine to be dealt with. She was raking her yard and clearing her flower beds in preparation for more detailed attention.

The story gains weight if one knows a bit more about this lady, so I will digress for a moment to provide some caricature. I’ll call her “Jane”. “Jane” appears to be my age, give or take, and she epitomizes the image of the country woman who doesn’t know the meaning of “can’t”. Every spring she turns the better part of her back yard into a prolific garden which she labors in daily for the next five or six months until, once it has all been harvested and the leavings converted to compost, she turns her attention to stacking the several cords of wood that will warm her home through the coming winter. She does not stop, in spite of appearing to suffer some of the unfortunate restrictions of advancing age.

So it wasn’t really unusual to see Jane out there bulling through it.

Except, she was doing it from a wheelchair.

I would not have taken that picture, at least not without her permission. It was poignant, it was moving, it was inspiring, and it was a thousand words that no picture could rival.

Some day, maybe I’ll thank her.


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Posted by: JDM..... | March 28, 2014


and the lost art of thinking….

A coin actually has three sides, not two; heads, tails, and the edge, though it’s highly unlikely to land on the edge when tossed. Human intelligence and politics often seem to resemble the coin, with the well thought out and rational representing the edge. It’s not that human beings are stupid, any more than a 100 watt light bulb is dark, but each can warrant its negative assessment when used incorrectly or not at all.

The daily news is supposedly a condensed report of what has transpired during the preceding twenty four hours, but it can also serve as a telling caricature of who has been using the light bulb as a hammer, etcetera.

While remaining up to date on real world events may have suffered recently, the amusement and eyebrow-raising asininity quotient has been well served indeed.

Take the Breaking News thing, for example. As proof that the reference fits “like bark on a log”, to borrow a ruralism from an old Blue Ridge acquaintance of mine, I really don’t need to comment further, for most people to know exactly of what I speak and why.

…..But, I will. One would be hard pressed to explain why a global news organization would spend two weeks picking through a haystack in search of a needle and providing everything but DNA analysis of each sprig of dead plant life encountered. Jon Stewart’s parody of CNN’s tedious moronification of the Malaysian airliner tragedy serves as punctuation to that thought.


In another case, it was the worm-brained precipitating event itself which provided sad evidence that the brains of some people in positions of authority are located in very close proximity to the pocket in which a guy usually carries his wallet. I’m referring, of course, to the hoity-toity Colorado school from which a nine year old girl was suspended for shaving her head in support of a friend suffering from stage 4 cancer.

An institution of learning supposedly aims to provide a child with knowledge and to foster growth of the wisdom required to use that knowledge well. I could not get beyond the question regarding exactly what that child must have learned from the unthinking, knee-jerk action by the school’s administrators when faced with the task of applying the school’s dress policy to the situation.

I envisioned the metaphor about a parent teaching little Johnny to not hit his little brother with the toy truck by whacking little Johnny with the toy truck.

Fortunately, the school (actually, the adult human beings running the joint) did what most reasonable people do when they walk face-first into a shit-storm; they turned around and went the other way. It remains to be seen whether the Board of Directors will change their thinking or will simply stick with an expedient change of direction.


….Speaking of moronification, the “giant sucking sound” of today isn’t the rapid migration of jobs to Mexico of Ross Perot’s mid-nineties opposition to NAFTA, but the sound of the media collectively giving president Obama a hickey for his effort to promote the alleged healthcare plan bearing his name. The moronic quotient is kept aloft by the fact that people may actually be starting to march in step to some degree, and by the sycophancy of an institution historically known otherwise for its pedantic examination and assessment of government activities. While I’m sure the various editors are inundated with an endless cascade of “releases” issued by countless federal Obamacare toadies, I find it to be unforgivable that whether they bury an item in Journalism Purgatory or plaster it across the top half of Page One, none of the “attaboy” stories reporting how many people have “signed up” for the government mandated daisy chain happens to point out that it isn’t “voluntary” by any stretch of the imagination, or of the Orwellian Thesaurus, either, for that matter…


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Posted by: JDM..... | March 16, 2014

Internet mine fields.….

…..and other lists of ways to cook rocks….

Much as I despise MSN, et al, I tend to emulate the other sheep and trot obediently to the website each day when I log on. There, I am (we are) anointed with inanities, interrupted randomly but frequently by pop-up ads and mouse-over triggered thinga-ma-jigs. Getting from one inanity to the next is like trying to race barefoot across a cow pasture on a moonless night without stepping in something.

I have been promising myself for the better part of an eon that I would dump the “cow pasture” and seek out a “home page” for those who might be above the average sponge on an IQ scale. Every time I dive into the process however, I run into a mine field of barriers, circular wild goose chases, and dead ends as I attempt to recapture my profile picture, shoe size, favorite vegetable, police record, seventh grade report card, and Santa’s other list, which I would prefer to destroy, if I can ever get my hands on it. Anyway, like most of us, I naively relinquished my birthright to my own business the very first time I followed the dulcet tones of the digital Sirens into Intellectual Let’s Pretendville. Pfffft! If I had been born a trout, I’d have been dinner at someone’s first cast.

Back to the issue at hand, or squishing up between one’s toes, or whatever one might choose to call it…..


….So, on one recent morning’s regularly scheduled journey into the mindless void of the MSN cyber-pasture, I suddenly realized that something titled “9 daily habits that are affecting your health”, being one of the more idiotic sounding blogettes on the menu, begged derision. I decided to risk the cow patties and jumped the fence.


I noticed that the list of “9 daily habits that are affecting your health” included ten items, but rather than stir that soup I moved on to the main course.

The Nine (sic) things were:

  • 1-Sitting with legs crossed at the knee can bump up blood pressure

  • 2-You stand with locked knees

  • 3-You sleep on your stomach

  • 4-You wear your belts tight

  • 5-You slouch

  • 6-You drive long distances without a break

  • 7-You stretch as soon as you get up

  • 8-You hold off on using the restroom when nature calls

  • 9-You chew gum

  • 10-You carry your purse the same way every day

1-The very first killer activity out of the gate was sitting with your legs crossed. The doctor whose “study” was referenced tilted his head forward, scrunched his eyebrows into a frown, and instructed Everyman to “avoid crossing your legs for longer than 10 to 15 minutes, and to get up and walk around every half hour or so.” I tried getting up and walking around every half hour or so back in 1959, which is probably, in part, why I got to do ninth grade twice.

2- The second epiphany, snagged from some journal article by an orthopedic doctor, instructs us to stand with knees slightly bent and not with knees locked. Heck, I learned to not lock my knees way back in AOCS so I wouldn’t do a domino drop on the Grinder in front of the CO. Other than that, though, I pretty much let my knees let me know what they prefer. When I try to stand around with my knees slightly bent, people scowl and tell me if I have to do that I should go outside or to the bathroom.

3- The third nugget of wisdom said one should not sleep on one’s stomach because that can compress nerves, causing pain and numbness. If I lay there worrying about neuroscience, I won’t get a pain in the neck but I won’t sleep either, which would be a real pain in the ass. Besides, I have no idea what position I sleep in because, well, I’m asleep at the time.

4- Fourth came the pronouncement that chasing the innermost hole on your belt might keep your pants up, but it can also lead to Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease. That cracks me up. When I was diagnosed with GERD thirty-five years ago, my pants had nothing to do with it. However, there was a slight possibility that twenty years of hard drinking, a two pack a day smoking “habit”, and all of those jalapeño peppers and other gastronomic pleasures, some rivaling Naval Jelly and lye, might have been factors. I hiked up my drawers, cinched my belt to the point that I wouldn’t get arrested for indecent exposure or do an untimely face plant, and took my medications. I altered my diet too, but not enough to impress a blogging OCD gastroenterologist. So far, so good.

5- Don’t slouch. Good heavens, this is starting to sound like my mother on a bad day, may she rest in peace….(but not on her stomach).

6- Sixth on the menu was a little handwringing about “You drive long distances without a break.” So, some expert statisticator frets that a person driving 100-150 miles without taking a break could get leg clots. Frankly, I’ve always measured my journeys in increments of time, not miles. I was a salesman in Miami back in the seventies. Ever seen Miami traffic? If I’d gone by mileage, I’d still be there, clots, wet pants, and all. I take it the good doctor never drives farther than the local golf club, or else he doesn’t mind celebrating a few birthdays enroute on long trips. If people listened to their bodies they wouldn’t be reduced to learning the art of chewing food from a friggin’ blog. I always found it timely to take a break whenever had to drive with my legs crossed to keep from ruining the upholstery, or when “that funny noise” turned out to be the rumble strip on the side of the road. But, I digress.

7- I never stretch when I get out of bed, though not because some genius decided that is is a bad idea to stretch as soon as you get up. I usually get plenty of exercise trying to scramble to my feet so I can get rid of a leg cramp or to launch a slipper at the cat for leaping on my bladder at 4:30 a.m. Actually, the first thing most reasonably normal people do when their feet locate the floor in the morning is fart. For me, that activity is a hell of a lot riskier than doing calisthenics; I’m not twenty any more, you know!

8- Number eight on the list of this “YOU’RE GOING TO BREAK YOUR NECK!!!” list is why women shouldn’t delay using the bathroom when nature calls. I can appreciate the challenge that must present for women. How does one NOT delay the moment of “AHHHHH….” when in line at the grocery store, though, or on an elevator, or in the commuter lane during rush hour? We men face different parameters, the first consideration not always being the location of an appropriate place to relieve one’s self, but the second occasionally involving the odds of being arrested, or at least experiencing a little embarrassment. I could tell some stories.

9- I like Number nine: “Don’t chew gum”, obviously the edict of a dentist, a school teacher, or, once again, my mother. Everybody chews gum. The good Doctor sez “The jaw joint is designed to chew food, not gum…. ”. Cool. Ninety percent of the required ADLs and rituals of modern civilization are unnatural, for crying out loud. If we did what the body “was designed” to do, most of us would be in jail and the rest would still be on the lam. I chewed gum until I had to spend an hour trying to scrape the Chiclets off my new dentures one evening. “Gumming it” describes a whole new scenario now. Avid gum chewers don’t give a crap about jaw pain, doc. If they did, you’d be flipping burgers. Besides, the only pops and clicks I ever overheard emanating from my oral cavity were caused by a fist, not a silly little wad of synthetic rubber. That reminds me. When I was a kid, I actually worked in a chewing gum factory one summer, so I KNOW ABOUT THESE THINGS.

10- I can’t comment on number ten, “You carry your purse the same way every day”. I understand men carrying purses is accepted in parts of Europe, San Francisco, Key West, and few other enlightened milieus, but here in rural Maine the Enlightened Male is more likely to have a big black billfold stuck in his back pocket, attached to his belt with a chain. I have neither a man-bag nor a trucker’s briefcase, but I can still buy a cup of coffee when the mood strikes me or produce my driver’s license when someone in a uniform suggests I should do so. A physical therapist did advise me once that carrying my wallet in my back pocket probably contributed to my back pain and sciatica. I still carry my wallet in my back pocket, but the therapist managed to lighten it for me

I learned something by reading the MSN article, however. I learned that these medical professionals, most of who were still in diapers when I was flying barstools and Navy trainers upside down, read too much. My own doctor did, too, until I just sat there like a bump on a gurney saying nothing until he got his nose out of the computer and looked me in the eye. And then, at my age, I’m not paying him $150 plus per quarter hour to shake his finger at me and deliver some condescending oration about how to live a long and healthy life. I’m there for some magic potion to reduce the sensory consequences of having done pretty much what I damned well pleased for 70 years, a lifestyle I see no reason to willfully change at this point.

When my knees don’t want to walk any more, they won’t. I don’t usually stand around long enough these days for it to matter whether my knees are locked or not. When I’m on my feet, I’m going somewhere.

I haven’t slept on my stomach for decades. The laws of physics and a modicum of abdominal lard forbid it.

I may slouch a bit, but at least I’m vertical and on the sunny side of the lawn. Deal with it. The Drill Instructor said “At ease” fifty years ago, and my body agreed immediately.

I must concede that I don’t drive long distances without breaks anymore. First of all, I don’t usually drive farther than the local store anyway, but if I do I make sure I take a catnap every once in awhile. I pull over, most times.

I realize that the writer was probably focused on a woman’s viewpoint (after all, MSN is the twenty first century version of those sleazy tabloids sold at the grocery checkout or in the smoke shop next to where the men found their favorite skin mags), but neither the writer nor the physicians referenced seemed to have a practical understanding of male plumbing, especially that of a senior citizen. I rarely delayed decanting of the bladder as a pup, and I usually got away with it. After all, those truck drivers pulled off along the Interstate and standing on the grassy side of their rigs aren’t just enjoying the scenery. At this point, though, it’s not exactly a choice. Sort of like passing gas while standing in the checkout line at the grocery store. I never do that intentionally just to be funny, not any more. The fact that it is funny simply represents fortuitous happenstance.

I don’t chew gum anymore, as I explained earlier. It doesn’t matter that my jaw hurts anyway. Heck, everything hurts. You just have to learn to ignore it. If my jaw hurts, it’s probably hurts because my teeth don’t fit. That $3.50 tube of Super-Glue saved me $3,500, but there are some minor consequences, of course. Sometime I amuse myself by just taking them out and practicing wrapping my lower lip over the tip of my nose or doing a Moms Mabley shtick. Out of deference to my loving and tolerant spouse, I no longer do that in public restaurants or at the dinner table. At least not when we have company or when she is looking.


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Posted by: JDM..... | January 14, 2014

Running the Gauntlet.….

on the way to 2016….

Like Rudy Giuliani of the post “9/11” decade, NJ Gov. Chris Christie is enjoying his own “fifteen minutes of fame” for providing a corona around his Hurricane Sandy responses. The Republicans took the rectal temperature of Public Opinion and immediately set about the business of grooming his persona with an eye towards the 2016 presidential election.

Just as quickly, the Democrats, and unaligned anti-Republicans, whipped out their Fine-Toothed-Combs and set about the business of mining for anything from misshapen dead skin cells to international sex scandals. It’s cumulative. The sooner they can pile up enough to make Christie smell a little too ripe for comfort, the sooner they can turn their attentions and faux passions to someone of their liking to beatify for 2016.

This is nothing new. Presidential aspirations come out of the closet and the first move of a pawn in the next round of political chess occur at the very moment a sitting president stands up to take the oath of office for his second term. Party affiliation has no bearing on the matter. Politics reminds of the mid-fifties when I tagged along with a pal as he did his weekly chore of cleaning a local horse stable for fifty cents. In addition to the requisite building of hay bale forts in the loft, we invariably engaged in brief but energetic skirmishes involving airborne shovelfuls of equine byproducts. The voting public thrives on this kind of behavior while feigning disgust, unlike our respective mothers, whose displeasures were clearly genuine.

The first volley of airborne political “stuff” ironically was launched on the rather thin ice of “political correctness” by attacking Christie’s girth. At the same time the word “fat” was being groomed by language managers as the next taboo “f-bomb” in the Age of Perceived Propriety (a vaudevillian form of communication), Christie was being enthusiastically caricatured as Dumbo the Republican by those whose primary objective for the next couple of years is to rain on all parades not of their own gestation. The rules of engagement for this quadrennial contest are both innumerable and vigorously ignored.

As a cartoonist, I cannot help but defend the Birthright of Caricature for unlimited levels of venomosity / hilarity because the underlying objective is to convey a message; to build a concept, perspective, or idea; to communicate with humor. Though “politics” is reputed to be the honorable process of practicing self government, it is, in practice, synonymous with character assassination and human demolition; to win by default by rendering any opponent impotent and / or toxic, rather than by promoting one’s own strategies for wise public administration and defense, etcetera.

To those ends, Gov. Christie has been firmly locked in the Democrats’ cross hairs. The “fat” man has now been splattered by “Bridgegate”, the ultimate impact, if any, to be determined more by the theater quotient of his responses than by any need for his detractors to transform the deftly fostered element of doubt by much theater of their own. Proof of complicity on any level would be neither the cake nor the icing, but simply sprinkles added for effect.

Additionally, political pedants from the counter-camp have raised questions about Christie’s alleged use of Hurricane Sandy disaster funds to put some juice into his reelection campaign.

It is an old but never tired or trite tactic of politicians and tabloid-style journalists alike to invoke the undeniable truism that “The best way to create a rumor is to deny that something is true”, thus putting the ones on the other side of the chess board in “check” by forcing them to prove their innocence.

Tit for tat has not yet made its inevitable significant and/or dramatic entrance because the Democrats, while enjoying the catbird seat for the present, have been preoccupied with looking for lipstick, bows, sequins, and Febreze to make Obamacare as pretty and stink-free as possible. Nevertheless, their turn is immanent.

Media snipers are, of course, ever-poised to pounce like trap-door spiders on any opportunity to stir up dust. Dust sells, not only for the media, but for the opponent of any player unfortunate enough to get caught with a finger up his nose or fixing his shorts while the cameras are on. If Christie survives this gauntlet, he may very well be a frontrunner for the final duel.


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