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On Nehru jackets, Madras shirts, and the magic of “spin”

The Beatles – at the height of their mid-1960’s fame – sporting their “trendy” Nehru jackets

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Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  That was an old-time newspaper – more like a personal newsletter – written and published by Harry Golden.  Back in the 1950s, people called Harry a  “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”  (For his work on the Israelite.)

That’s now my goal as well.  To be a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

For more on the blog-name connection, see the notes below.

In the meantime:

Over the past year I’ve accumulated a number of draft posts:  Draft posts that have remained unpublished “even to this day.”  So for this post I started with some odds and ends.

One such “scrap” had to do with Nehru jackets.  They were the “hip-length tailored coat for men or women, with a mandarin collar,” as featured by the Beatles – and others – in the early 1960s:

The jacket began to be marketed as the Nehru jacket in Europe and America in the mid 1960s.  It was briefly popular there in the late 1960s and early 1970s, its popularity spurred by growing awareness of foreign cultures, by the minimalism of the Mod lifestyle and, in particular, by the Beatles and subsequently the Monkees.

Note also that the word “trendy” first came into use around 1962.  (What a great decade!) 

And here’s another BTW:  Jawaharlal Nehru – seen above right and for whom the jacket was named – “never wore a Nehru jacket.”  The point being that – while I never got to wear a Nehru jacket in the 1960s (when I was in high school) – I did get to wear a Madras shirt.

Madras shirts – and pants and jackets – also became popular in the 1960s.  The name came from the Indian city of Madras, now called Chennai.  (Located near the southern tip of India, the city is now nicknamed “The Detroit of India,” with more than one-third of India’s automobile industry.)  And the “Madras shirt” is definitely a lesson in spin doctoring.

1954 Hathaway Madras Shirt AdThe original idea was a “lightweight breathable fabric suited to a humid tropical climate.”  (Like Florida, where I used to live.)  And today’s Madras is basically a check-patterned cotton cloth, in three varieties.  The most interesting of the three is bleeding Madras.

For us the story began when a textile importer – and ultimately Brooks Brothers – loved the fabric’s low price.  But the seller never mentioned that it “required utmost care when laundering because the color would run out if it wasn’t gently washed in cold water.”

As a result, “Customers were furious when they saw the colors run that ruined their expensive summer apparel.”  Lawsuits were threatened, but ultimately a solution of “sheer marketing genius” was arranged.  An attorney for Brooks Brothers arranged a meeting with an editor from Seventeen magazine, about a new “miracle handwoven fabric from India:”

In the following issue, the editor ran a seven-page article about fabric titled “Bleeding Madras – the miracle handwoven fabric from India.”  And since pictures say more than 1,000 words, they added beautiful photographs with the caption “guaranteed to bleed.”  Within a days [sic] of the magazine hitting the newsstands, Brooks Brothers was flooded with thousands of requests for the Madras items and it became an overnight success.

And who couldn’t help but fall in love … with either the dashing “Hathaway gent” in the photo above left, or “Mad Men‘s” Pete Campbell(As shown below.)  And speaking of lessons in spin doctoring:  I just Googled “spin conor lamb” and got 16,900,000 results.

Which just goes to show:  Fashions like Madras may come and go, but spin goes on forever!

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Mad Men - Pete Campbell in Bold Sportscoat

Mad Men – Pete Campbell [center] in Bold [Madras] Sportscoat…”

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The upper image is courtesy of “”  See also File: Beatles I’ll Cry Instead.jpg (Wikipedia).  As to Nehru jackets in general, see Nehru jacket – Wikipedia, and/or The Nehru Jacket Guide — Gentleman’s Gazette.

Re: “Trendy.”  The Merriam-Webster definition included a note that the first-known use of the word came in 1962.  For other “first words” from 1962, see WORDS FROM THE SAME YEAR.

Re:  “Spin conor lamb:”  Those results included New GOP spin: Conor Lamb is a secret Republican, and Paul Ryan Is Dizzy From The Spin He’s Putting On Conor Lamb’s Victory (

The lower image is courtesy of Madras Guide – How the Shirt, Pants & Jackets Became Popular (Gentleman’s Gazette).  See also Mad Men – Wikipedia, which noted the character Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) was a “young, ambitious account executive from an old New York family with connections and a privileged background.”  Further, “Campbell is often shown cheating on his wife, and is not above manipulating and blackmailing women to get them to sleep with him.” 

See also prescienceforeboding, and/or foreshadowing

On a totally unrelated note:  The original title for this of draft post was “On Nehru jackets, Madras shirts – and other odds and ends.”  As to such odds and ends, see also, which noted that this term – for a “miscellany of leftovers, outsizes, scraps,” or “unmatched bits” – came to its present meaning in the mid-1700s.   Some future posts will likely feature more “odds and ends…”

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Re:  The Israelite.  Harry Golden wrote and published it from the 1940s through the 1960s.  He was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (Another way of saying he told good stories.)  That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  As he got older but didn’t turn sour, like so many do today.  He still got a kick out of life.  And for more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.


“Imitation Game” – Revisited

The “super-spymaster” on the left didn’t know that the guy on the right was a “poofter…”

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I confess – I “do not deny but confess” – that I’ve been lax in posting new essays for this blog.  One excuse is that I’ve been focusing more on my art.  (For one thing, I’ve finally gotten to the point – after 66 years – that I actually feel like I know what I’m doing when oil painting.) 

Be that as it may, it’s high time to publish another post.

In this case, I’ll re-visit a previous quasi-movie-review of The Imitation Game:

[The] 2014 historical thriller film about British mathematicianlogiciancryptanalyst and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing who was a key figure in cracking Nazi Germany‘s naval Enigma code which helped the Allies win the Second World War, only to later be criminally prosecuted for his homosexuality.

That’s what I cited in the April 2015 post, On Oscar Wilde and “gross indecencies.”

The gist of that post was that two men of arguable genius – Turing, and Wilde (in his way) – got persecuted during their lifetimes.  Only after they had died did people come to realize their genius.  (In Wilde’s case he “now brings tourists to Dublin,” as seen at right.)  In the case of another writer, John Steinbeck noted:

The only good writer was a dead writer.   Then he couldn’t surprise anyone any more, couldn’t hurt anyone any more….   I’ve heard he died alone.  And now he’s good for the town.  Brings in some tourists.  He’s a good writer now.

But we digress…  Getting back to The Imitation Game, I first saw the film – in a movie theater – in January 2015.  But I recently checked out a DVD copy from the local library, and started viewing it again, in segments.  That is, I haven’t had cable TV since June 2016.  (That’s when I got back from my grandson’s high-school graduation and found a TV screen with no picture  My cable provider ended up saying I had two choices:  Pay a one-time $50 fee to have a technician check out the problem, or pay another $8 a month.  I said, basically, “No, there’s a third option…”)  

The Imitation Game (2014).pngSo anyway, since June 2016 I’ve been watching mostly old VHS movies on a clunky old-time weighs-a-ton TV set.  But I recently graduated to a flat-screen TV, hooked up to the DVD player I bought years ago.  (But never managed to hook up to the clunky old-time weighs-a-ton TV set.)

So since June 2016, I don’t watch TV;  in the morning, or after a hard workout, or at night trying to wind down.  Instead I watch classic movies, on DVD, in segments.  And soon after starting to watch this film, I began to wonder, “Where was the evidence that Turing was homosexual?”

In this morning’s episode, I found out.

For one thing, the film opened – well after World War II – in 1951, with an apparent break-in at Turing‘s home,   Two police officers investigated, during which the lead officer got suspicious because of Turing’s secrecy.  In due course the “sidekick” followed Turing and discovered him making an “assignation.”  (With a younger “poofter,” who confessed his wicked ways.)

More to the point, the film then flashed back to World War II.  To the point where Turing had to propose marriage to the lone female code-breaker, Joan Clarke(Played by Keira Knightley, at right.) 

That was because she was invaluable to the team of code-breakers, but her parents frowned on her being so alone, with all those men, “and unmarried.”  (I.e., Turing wanted her to stay and help break the Enigma code that would help the Allies win World War II.  Times were different then, and besides, the code-breaking project was top secret.) 

At the engagement party at a local pub, Turing was troubled by the upcoming nuptials, and of course the wedding night itself.  Fellow code-breaker John Cairncross asked him why.  Turing responded, “What if I don’t fancy being with her, that way?”  Cairncross responded, “Because you’re a homosexual.  I suspected as much.”  He then warned Turing to keep his homosexuality a secret.  For one thing, “because it’s illegal.”  For another, “Denniston‘s looking for any excuse to put you away.”  Which brings up the need for some more background:

When Britain declares war on Germany in 1939, Turing travels to Bletchley Park, where, under the direction of Commander Alastair Denniston, he joins the cryptography team of Hugh AlexanderJohn Cairncross, Peter Hilton, Keith Furman and Charles Richards.  The team are trying to decrypt the Enigma machine, which the Nazis use to send coded messages.

For some further background, Denniston was “first head of the Government Code and Cypher School (GC&CS).”  He was first appointed “operational head of GC&CS in 1919 and remained so until February 1942.”  Which may explain his hostile attitude toward Turing.

That is, throughout the film Commander Denniston basically hated Turing’s guts.  For one thing, when he tried to fire Turing, the “poof” went over his head and wrote to Winston Churchill (Seen at left, in 1904.)  Churchill in turn put Turing in charge of the code-breaking project.  Which resulted in this anomaly, or at least oddity:  The “spymaster” who’d headed the British Government Code and Cypher School since 1919 didn’t realize Turing was a “poof,” but a lowly fellow code-breaker did(It also turned out that Cairncross was a Russian spy.)  Which led to this, my first response to the Turing-Cairncross exchange:

With spymasters like that, it’s a miracle we won the frikkin’ war!! 

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Notice that my first response was not to ask why I didn’t remember the parts in the movie that showed Turing was gay.  I didn’t wonder, “Why did I have to ask myself, ‘Where was the evidence that Turing was homosexual?’”   But then, I never claimed to be either a super-spymaster or a master code-breaker.  Then too, I may have been hearing too much from that Donald Trump guy, and gone into Auto Attack Mode(“It was somebody else’s fault!”)

But maybe – just maybe – “there’s a third option…”   Maybe I had a repressed memory.

The truth is, Oscar Wilde and “gross indecencies” was a pretty depressing post.  Wilde went from the heights of fame and pleasure, literally to “the depths.”  From being one of the most successful playwrights of Victorian London, to his arrest, trial and conviction for gross indecency.  And after Alan Turing’s own arrest and conviction, he got the “choice” of spending two years in prison or undergoing court-ordered chemical castration.  The treatment left him impotent, and two years later – in 1954 – he committed suicide by cyanide poisoning.

On the plus side, in 2003 the U.S. Supreme Court issued Lawrence v. Texas (Over the objections of many conservatives.)  The Court held that “intimate consensual sexual conduct was part of the liberty protected by substantive due process under the 14th Amendment.”

And Britain – in 2017 – passed the Alan Turing law.  That law allowed pardons for men “cautioned or convicted under historical legislation that outlawed homosexual acts.”  And as Wikipedia noted:  “As of January 2017, some 49,000 men had been posthumously pardoned under the terms of the Policing and Crime Act 2017.”

I suppose that’s some kind of progress…

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The upper image is courtesy of The Imitation Game (2014) – IMDb.  (“Photo” 102 of 102.)

Re:  The Winston Churchill photo to the left of the paragraph beginning “That is, throughout the film…”  Not to be unkind, but in that photo Churchill looks to be a bit of a “poofter” himself.  (To which I might add, “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”)  Then of course there was Churchill’s famous quote, “The only traditions of the Royal Navy are rum, sodomy and the lash.”

The lower image is courtesy of Alan Turing – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Statue of Turing by Stephen Kettle at Bletchley Park, commissioned by Sidney Frank, built from half a million pieces of Welsh slate.”  Two more notes:  1)  “In 1941, Turing proposed marriage to Hut 8 colleague Joan Clarke, a fellow mathematician and cryptanalyst, but their engagement was short-lived.  After admitting his homosexuality to his fiancée, who was reportedly ‘unfazed’ by the revelation, Turing decided that he could not go through with the marriage.”  And 2)  “In August 2009, John Graham-Cumming started a petition urging the British Government to apologise for Turing’s prosecution…  The petition received more than 30,000 signatures.  The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown [issued] a statement on 10 September 2009 apologising and describing the treatment of Turing as ‘appalling.'”

On Cloisonnism – to make your paintings “pop…”

Vincent van Gogh‘s painting of “Père Tanguy” – done in what the French call Cloisonnism

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Donald TrumpI’m taking a break from doing posts on politics (As currently illustrated at right.)  Instead, this post will be on painting, as in oil painting and/or acrylic painting.  That’s what I do when I’m not working on my blogs.

I recently skimmed through the book, Van Gogh (Gramercy Great Masters), and ran across this on page 25.  It was about two paintings Van Gogh did in 1868:*

In the first of these, he used the technique of cloisonnism, the name of which was derived from a French word meaning “divided.”  This approach was typical of [Paul] Gauguin, but was also used by many Symbolist painters, and consisted of surrounding every object with a distinct outline.

Anyway, the basic idea is – as noted – to “surround every object” in the painting “with a distinct outline.”  And on the theme of great minds think alike, I thought to myself, “That’s what I’ve been doing!”  Or at least that’s an idea I’ve developed in my recent painting.

I’m 66 and semi-retired, and so can now spend my time on things I enjoy doing, rather than things I have to do to make a living.  I was a public defender for 24 years in Florida, but I was originally an art major.  (For my bachelor’s degree.)  But as graduation grew near I thought it would be better to major in something that would help me get a job.  (Rather than, “You want fries with that?”)  And ultimately I ended up in law school.

But I never totally gave up on my art.  The problem?  I wondered why my paintings always looked so blah, and – in the fullness of time – finally found out why.  I never outlined anything, so all the objects in my paintings pretty much blended together.

Gauguin Il Cristo giallo.jpgFor example, if you look closely at Van Gogh’s “Portrait of Pere Tanguy” – at the top of the page -you’ll see that Père* is surrounded by bright red outline.  Or – speaking of Paul Gauguin – you can see a much more exaggerated version in his The Yellow Christ (“one of the key works of Symbolism in painting.”)

Gauguin relies heavily on bold lines to define his figures…  The bold outlines and flatness of the forms in this painting are typical of the cloisonnist style.

And just as an aside, some sources say the word – “after the French for ‘partition'” – was a style of expressionism featuring large patches of bright color “enclosed within thick black outlines, in the manner of medieval cloisonné enamelling or stained glass.”  Also, “The word ‘Cloisonnism’ is used interchangeably with the term ‘Synthetism,'” although artists “like Gauguin did not use the thick black outlines which are the hallmark of cloisonnist paintings.”

Whatever          (But only in the sense that “it’s about time this post came to an end.”)  

So anyway, that’s what the French call Cloisonnism.  Which leads me to say,”Boy, those French have a fancy name for everything.”  Or as Professor Henry Higgins said in My Fair Lady, “The French don’t care what they do actually, as long as they pronounce it properly!”

Words of wisdom to live by…

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The upper image is courtesy of Portrait of Père Tanguy – Wikipedia.  Other sources – for paintings and text – include Cloisonnism: History, Characteristics – Art EncyclopediaArtworks by style: Cloisonnism – WikiArt.orgCloisonnism – Wikipedia, and 124 best Art – Cloisonnism images … Paul Gauguin.

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the two paintings Van Gogh did in 1868:  They were L’Arlésienne and Portrait of Armand Roulin.  (One of several versions.)

Re: Père.  According to Wiktionary, the term can mean either a “priest of the Roman Catholic Church, especially a French one,” or in the alternative the term is used “after a proper name that is common to a father and his son to indicate that the father is being referred to rather than the son; juniorfils.”  See also Père | Definition … by Merriam-Webster.

The lower image is courtesy of Rex Harrison: Professor Henry Higgins – IMDb.

Movie review: “The Post” – It wasn’t REALLY 6-3!

Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) and “The Post” staff get news from an old-timey (3-channel) TV…

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The Post (film).pngI just went to see The Post, the “2017 American political thriller” featuring Meryl Streep as Katharine Graham and Tom Hanks as Ben Bradlee (The publisher and executive editor of the Washington Post – respectively – at the time in question.)

It brought back a lot of memories.

The film – set in June 1971 – covered the month when both the Washington Post and the New York Times ran afoul of the Nixon Administration.  Specifically, both newspapers ended up in the U.S. Supreme Court, charged – essentially – with treason.  At stake – also essentially – was the future of freedom of the press in the United States(You know, that pain-in-the-ass part of the First Amendment of the Constitution?)

The Washington Post was perhaps best known for its coverage of Watergate scandal:

[From 1972 to 1974], in the best-known episode in the newspaper’s history, reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein led the American press’ investigation into what became known as the Watergate scandal; reporting in the newspaper greatly contributed to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

However, The Post (film) covers an earlier time:  June, 1971.

That was when first the New York Times, then the Washington Post began running a series of articles based on the Pentagon Papers (The 47-volume, 7,000-page assessment of the history of the Vietnam War.  It was ordered in 1967 by Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, and ultimately concluded that the war was “unwinnable.”  The papers were “turned over (without authorization) to The New York Times by Daniel Ellsberg, a senior research associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for International Studies.”) 

 The Nixon Administration charged Ellsberg with conspiracy, espionage, and theft of government property – i.e., the Pentagon Papers – for which he faced a possible 115 years in prison.  And the substance of The Post (film) is that “Kate” Graham herself faced criminal prosecution, not to mention personal bankruptcy and the loss of the “family paper.”  (The Post (newspaper

An aside:  The paper had been “in the family” since 1933.  That’s when Katharine’s father – Eugene Meyer – bought the paper in a bankruptcy action.  “In 1946, Meyer was succeeded as publisher by his son-in-law, Philip Graham” – Katharine‘s husband – who died in 1963.  (Which itself offers some interesting drama…) 

The point being that Katharine Graham had a lot to lose…

I could write a lot about The Post as both film art and a commentary on how history tends to repeat(My original title for this “article” – to avoid a redundant “Post post” – was “Movie review: ‘The Post’ – and history repeating itself…”)  And I will do more “posts on ‘The Post'” in the future.

But for today I’ll focus on journalism and its place in American law.

All the President's Men book 1974.jpgFor one thing, I majored in journalism because of “Woodstein” and the film All the President’s Men.  For another, after graduation in 1976 I went to work for the St. Petersburg Times – now the Tampa Bay Times – for five years.  Then I  went to law school intending to become a reporter specializing in the law and legal proceedings.

Which could explain my focus for today’s review.

Near the end of the film, the staff of the Washington Post got a telephone call – on a rotary phone, no less – announcing the Supreme Court’s decision.  At stake was not only freedom of the press, but also the personal and financial future of Katharine Graham and Ben Bradlee (U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell was quoted as saying, “Katie Graham’s gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that’s published.”)

The announcement?  “We won, 6-3!”  (Or words to that effect…)

My first reaction?  That the scariest part of the movie was that – back in 1971 – three Supreme Court Justices seemed to agree with the Nixon Administration.

And if that was true back then, what would happen today if the Trump Administration took a similar stand, from its own Enemies List?  Or worse, if Trump goes on to pack the Court?  But –  after further review – it turned out that Chief Justice Warren Burger – together with Justices John Harlan and Harry Blackmun – dissented only because of the “haste of the proceedings:”

[Burger] argued that in the haste of the proceedings, and given the size of the documents, the Court was unable to gather enough information to make a decision…  The Chief Justice did not argue that the Government had met the aforementioned standard, but rather that the decision should not have been made so hastily.

Which doesn’t mean the dissenters favored the government.  It only meant they thought the decision should not have been made so quickly.  (See New York Times v. United States.)

To give some perspective, the Times published its first article on June 13, 1971, while the Washington Post began publishing its own articles on June 18.  The Supreme Court heard oral arguments from the various parties on June 25 and 26, and rendered its decision on June 30, 1971.

Which means the whole process – from the first publishing to the government’s law suit to the final decision by the Supreme Court – took less than three weeks.  But in normal certiorari proceedings, “cases take approximately 12 to 24 months from the day they are petitioned until the Supreme Court issues a decision.”

On the other hand, the average schmuck trying to fix a decision in a state court must first “exhaust all state remedies” – which can take years – and such cases are rarely granted review.

At any rate, the fact that the three dissenting justices only felt the decision was rendered too quickly made me feel a bit better, and not so panicky.

At least for now…  In the meantime, consider this from one Thomas Jefferson:

…were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. 

I’ll be writing more reviews of The Post in the future.

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Official Presidential portrait of Thomas Jefferson (by Rembrandt Peale, 1800).jpg

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The upper image is courtesy of The Post (2017) – IMDb.  Text and/or images were also gleaned from  The Post (2017) – IMDb and Pentagon Papers – Wikipedia.

RE:  “That pain-in-the-ass part of the First Amendment.”   That Amendment states:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;  or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Re:  The Pentagon Papers saying the Vietnam war was “unwinnable.”  The study also indicated that presidential administrations beginning with Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower also routinely lied to the American people as to why the war was necessary in the first place.

The photo to the right of the paragraph “To give some perspective,” is captioned “The Monday, July 21, 1969, edition, with the headline ‘The Eagle Has Landed’‍ – Two Men Walk on the Moon.” 

Re:  The “normal” length of time for Supreme Court proceedings.  See How long does a US Supreme Court case take –  “More commonly, cases take approximately 12 to 24 months from the day they are petitioned until the Supreme Court issues a decision.”  Re:  “Average schmuck” and “exhausting state remedies.”  See SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES, (courtesy of “law.cornell”), and U.S. Supreme Court: Failure to Exhaust Remedies Is an Affirmative Defense.  

And as another aside, Chief Justice Warren Burger also argued that the Times should have discussed the possible societal repercussions with the Government prior to publication of the material.

The lower image is courtesy of Thomas Jefferson – Wikipedia.  As to the quote, see also Jefferson’s preference for “newspapers without governmentJefferson on Politics & Government: Freedom of the Press, and/or Jefferson’s Warning to the White House |

On George McGovern’s “KMA” buttons…

Unlike many Republicans – past and present – George McGovern actually served his country…

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It’s the Thursday after Christmas Day.  So those holidays are over, and the end of 2017 is near.  Which means it’s time to look back at 2017.  And for me especially, that means looking back at some draft blog-posts that I started this past year, but never got around to finishing.

One of the posts was on George McGovern and his famous “KMA” buttons.  But first a note:  In the 1972 presidential election, only about four people in America – including me – voted for McGovern.  Richard Nixon won in a landslide, but neither he nor Vice-president Spiro Agnew served out their terms of office.  (Agnew resigned in less than a year over allegations he took bribes as Governor of Maryland.  Nixon resigned over the Watergate Scandal in August 1974, illustrated above right.) 

Which means that my vote for McGovern in 1972 is one of the proudest moments of my life.

In case you’ve forgotten, that election in 1972 was famous for Republican dirty tricks.  (Including but not limited to the infamous “Canuck letter” that led to Ed Muskie’s tears of anger.)

But since then I’ve gotten used to underhanded Republican campaign tactics.  Like the fact that some stay-at-home conservatives in 1972 also took issue with McGovern’s service in World War II.  And just for the record, McGovern served in combat with the the 741st Squadron of the 455th Bombardment Group of the Fifteenth Air Force, stationed near Cerignola, Italy.

He was commissioned a pilot in the Army Air Forces and flew 35 missions over enemy territory.  He piloted a B‑24 Liberator that he named “the Dakota Queen,” in honor of his wife Eleanor.  (And won the Distinguished Flying Cross.)  

But my favorite story about George McGovern came much later in his life.  It happened late in the 1972 campaign and involved his confronting a heckler from the Richard Nixon camp.  (Though it was not Donald Segretti):

McGovern was giving a speech and a Nixon admirer kept heckling him.  McGovern called the young man over and whispered in his ear, “Listen, you son-of-a-bitch, why don’t you kiss my ass?”  The heckler confirmed this to an inquiring journalist and the remark was widely reported.  By the following night, “KMA” buttons were being worn by people in the crowds at McGovern rallies.  Several years later, McGovern observed Mississippi Senator James Eastland looking at him from across the Senate floor and chuckling to himself.  He subsequently approached McGovern and asked, “Did you really tell that guy in ’72 to kiss your ass?”  When McGovern smiled and nodded, Eastland replied, “That was the best line in the campaign.”

See McGovern presidential campaign, 1972 – Wikipedia.  And again just for the record, Senator James Eastland was a Democrat – like McGovern – but who supported the Conservative coalition, and was “known nationally as a symbol of Southern support for racial segregation.”  But this was when Southern Democrats were effectively Republicans:

Mississippi was effectively a one-party state, dominated by conservative white Democrats since the disfranchisement of African Americans with the passage of the 1890 state constitution.  The state used poll taxesliteracy tests and grandfather clauses to exclude African Americans from the political system.  Therefore, winning the Democratic nomination was tantamount to election.

But this was also a time when political rivals could “sup with their enemies.”  In the photo at right, Eastland shared a moment with noted northern liberal – and a very young – Ted Kennedy.

You can see this photo – or one much like it – at Kennedy got Senate assignments in boozy meeting (N.Y. Daily News, 9/30/15).  At the time Eastland chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee:

After he slammed three drinks, Kennedy staggered away with the three assignments he wanted the most…   “It’s quarter to eleven, and I’m barely able to get up.  So of course I go back to my office [and] walk in there smelling like a brewery.  Here’s our little senator, 30 years old; he’s been down here two weeks, and he’s stiff as a billy goat at 10 in the morning.”  Kennedy said Mississippi’s Sen. James Eastland poured him a drink as soon as he arrived to the 1963 meeting.  “Bourbon or scotch?” the chairman asked.

But of course Eastland’s legendary drinking – or Kennedy’s for that matter – is a whole ‘nother subject entirely.  The point is that back in the good old days, politicians still had a sense of humor.  (Even to the point of chuckling over an arch-enemy’s “best line in the campaign.”)

And in a very big sense politicians as a group were eminently more likeable than they are today.  (See also On Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher.”)  But the main point I’d like to make is that I wish George McGovern could have hung around long enough to run in the 2016 presidential election.  That way he could have told someone else to “kiss my ass!”

For that alone, George McGovern would have made a great president…

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of George McGovern – Wikipedia.  In other versions of the “KMA” story, McGovern was appearing in Battle Creek, Michigan, on November 2, when a Nixon admirer heckled him.  McGovern told the heckler, “I’ve got a secret for you,” then said softly into his ear, “Kiss my ass.”  The incident was overheard and reported in the press, and became part of the tale of the campaign.  See also “George, Heckler Exchange Words”. The Spartanburg Herald. November 3, 1972. p. B8.  For an account of his passing – by Fox News – see Former Senator George McGovern, ’72 Democratic presidential nominee, dies at 90.  

Campaign trail.jpgFor still other takes on the 1972 campaign, see Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘7 – by Hunter Thompson and illustrated at left, The Boys on the Bus – and/or One Bright Shining Moment.  Also, reference was made to Boller, Paul F., Presidential Campaigns: from George Washington to George W. Bush, 2nd Edition, Oxford University Press, 2004, ISBN 0195167163, at page 340. 

And for one of my takes on Southern Democrats like Eastland , see Blue Dogs and the “Via Media.”  For yet another take on the politicians of yesteryear, see “Great politicians sell hope.”

The lower image is courtesy of  I first used a smaller version in Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher,” but then used the photo as a “parting shot” in the December 15, 2017 post, On “Pyrrhic victories.” 

(There seems to be a trend here…)

On “Pyrrhic victories…”

The Battle of Bunker Hill,” one example of a Pyrrhic victory from our own American history…

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Doug Jones Flag.jpgLast Monday – just before Tuesday’s special election in Alabama – the term “Pyrrhic victory” came to my mind – for some reason…

On the other hand, late that Tuesday evening – December 12 – you could have knocked me over with a feather(As in, to “shock, confuse, or astonish someone to a point of complete bewilderment.”  In the alternative, the idiom expresses “great bewilderment or surprise.”)  As to why, see Doug Jones beats Roy Moore in Alabama Senate race.

Which is another way of saying that I expected – or was afraid – that Roy Moore would win, possibly in a landslide.  (Because Alabamians don’t like “outsiders” telling them what to do, as my brother Bill predicted a week or so before the election.)   And that is another way of saying that if Moore got elected, it could have turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory for Republicans.

pyrrhic victories, romeThe name comes from King Pyrrhus of Epirus, an ancient Greek state in the western Balkans(Just east of the Italian peninsula.)  His army beat the Romans in two separate battles – one of which is illustrated at left – in 280 and 279 B.C.  But the wins came at a high cost.  While the Romans had more casualties, they also had a far greater pool of soldier-replacements.

Which gave rise to the name of a victory that “inflicts such a devastating toll” that it is tantamount to a defeat.  (The “heavy toll negates a true sense of achievement or profit.”)

You can check out four other such “victories” at 5 Famous Pyrrhic Victories – History Lists.  Interestingly enough, two such battles came in America, both within the last 250 years.  (Compared to the original, nearly 2,300 years ago.)  So maybe it’s time for a third? 

In the American Civil War there was the Battle of Chancellorsville, in 1863.  While often called Robert E. Lee‘s masterpiece, “it came with a massive price tag.”  That is, while the Union army had 4,000 more casualties – 17,000 to 14,000 – it too had a “far greater pool of replacement soldiers.”  (Like the Romans.)  More important, Lee lost his most trusted general, Stonewall Jackson (“Jackson was hit by friendly fire,” and Lee reportedly said “I have lost my right arm.”)

On the other side of the fence – so to speak – there was the Battle of Bunker Hill in 1775:

The battle was a tactical, though somewhat Pyrrhic victory for the British, as it proved to be a sobering experience for them, involving many more casualties than the Americans had incurred, including a large number of officers.  The battle had demonstrated that inexperienced [American] militia were able to stand up to regular army troops in battle.

And that brings us back to last Tuesday’s special election.  Just as the Battle of Bunker Hill showed that inexperienced American militia could stand up to the vaunted British army regulars in battle, so last Tuesday’s election proved that a &^%#$ Democrat could get elected to the Senate in  &^%#$ Alabama!!!

Which brings up how that “pigs are flying” victory came about.  Or more specifically, why Roy Moore lost the election in Alabama.  The linked web article said – for one thing – that the “Alabama election was a warning:  appease the Trumpian, populist, nationalist movement at your peril.”  Then there was the article, Analysis: Why Trump will pay the political price for Roy Moore’s loss in Alabama.  As one professor said, “This is the first real evidence that a political backlash might be brewing to Trump-ian Republican politics.”

So maybe last Tuesday’s special election in Alabama wasn’t about Roy Moore at all.  Maybe it was more about Donald Trump and his “particular brand of magic” going stale.

So maybe – just maybe – we could post-date this spiel on Pyrrhic victories to November 8, 2016?

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Donald Trump

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The upper image is courtesy of Battle of Bunker Hill – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “‘The Battle of Bunker Hill,’ by Howard Pyle, 1897.”

The Doug Jones image is courtesy of Doug Jones (attorney) – Wikipedia.

The “two separate battles” image is courtesy of 5 Famous Pyrrhic Victories – History Lists.

For more on such victories, see Urban Dictionary:  Pyrrhic victory, which included this suggestion:

The best example of a pyrrhic victory is in the anglo-zulu war, in which Ntshingwayo Khoza set 22,000 zulu warriors, about 55% of the male population of zululands to attack 1,400 British soldiers in a surprise attack at the Battle of Isandlwana.

See also Battle of Isandlwana – Wikipedia.

The “pigs are flying” image is courtesy of APG 146 – When Pigs Fly?  See also Flying pig – Wikipedia, which defined the phrase in pertinent part as “an adynaton—a figure of speech so hyperbolic that it describes an impossibility.”  Note also that I used the image in “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night,” posted on November 30, 2016.  (That post was an exercise in irony.)

The lower image is courtesy of  See also, On Reagan, Kennedy – and “Dick the Butcher,” which included a smaller version of the photo. 

“Buen Camino!” – The Good Parts

A Pamplona monument to running with the bulls.   (Something that is not on my bucket list!)

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Some people reading “Hola! Buen Camino*” might think I had a lousy time in my five weeks hiking the Camino de Santiago in Spain.  For example, there was my comment on the first 10 days – after starting in Pamplona – being “pretty miserable.  My left foot constantly throbbed, until it blistered up and got tough.”  And that it took about 10 days for that to happen.

But there were lots of good things that happened during those 30 days on the Camino…

21743239_361474040953373_4085132213676039775_nThe good times started with Pamplona itself, where my part of the hike began.  I had drinks – two separate times – at the Café Iruña(Immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in The Sun Also Rises.)  And before the hike started my brother and I spent a day sight-seeing.  (During which I took my own photo of the “running of the bulls” monument, at left…)

Then too, at the end of the first day’s hike we stayed at the Albergue Jakue, in Puente la Reina.  That was September 13, when we made 15 miles but didn’t reach the albergue until about 8:00 p.m.  The good part:  “They had a $13 dinner special,* which included wine.  I GOT MY MONEY’S WORTH!”  To explain:  The wine came in a serve-your-own set of three spigots, not unlike those for draft beer.  (Except for the privilege of “pouring your own.”)  

As I recall, there was a red wine, a white wine, and a rosé (And I noted that I had a good portion of each.  As added in my journal, “Did I mention that I got my money’s worth on the wine?”)

Perhaps fittingly – or preemptively – during that first day we had hiked up and over the 750-meter high Alto del Perdon(Also known as the “The Mount of Forgiveness.”)  And as the link at left says:

It is a very windy place, and a long winding climb.  The path is not very steep but feels tiring…  Maybe the weight of unforgiven sins on our shoulders?  Once the top of the hill is reached, [the pilgrim-hiker] is welcomed by these statues representing pilgrims, braving the wind to continue their chosen path.  (Emphasis in original.)

For myself I was mostly glad that some enterprising lady had a “cafe movil,” basically a truck-pulled trailer offering cold drinks.  And it was interesting to go “‘horsing’ around with some of the cut-out statuary at ‘the Peak…'”  (The Peak of Forgiveness that is, as shown above right.) 

This is also a good time to mention that dinners on the Camino were universally delicious.  Most of the albergues featured a three-course special, including a salad, main course and choice of desserts.  Which may explain why – even though people said I “looked thinner” when I got back home – I actually weighed the same 160 pounds as when I left.

Then on September 14 we stayed at the Albergue de Capuchin, a pilgrim’s hostel run by monks in a monastery:  “Though ‘Spartan’ it has wifi … and a shower, w/ washer/dryer and a restaurant downstairs.”  That was in Estella, not to be confused with Estrella, “a lager beer, brewed in BarcelonaSpain.”  (With which I became well acquainted, while in Spain.)

Getting back to the hike, September 16 “was tough. 17.3 miles, from Los Arcos to Logrono. We’re both limping this fine Sunday morning.  I have an unpopped blister on the ball of my left foot…  I put a bandaid on it.  Then duct-taped a gauze pad on top of that.”  But along the way we had gotten some “jamone” sandwiches to go, and later ate them in a copse next to the “Ermita del Poyo,” or Hermitage of the Virgin of Poyo (As shown above left.)  

And incidentally, those “jamone” sandwiches became pretty much part of our daily routine.  Jamone is “basically a cured ham, thin sliced and dark hued, with cheese, on a half loaf of French bread,” as I wrote.  I suppose the bread was actually “Spanish,” but either way it was very chewy, as was the jamone itself.  Which led me to ponder at one point during the hike, “I wonder what people with dentures do for lunch in Spain, what with the chewy sandwiches?”

One answer?  They probably go hungry!

And speaking of routines, breakfast had a routine as well.  Fresh-squeezed orange juice – one feature I do miss about Spain – along with café con leche and tostadas(As in toast, or “more French/Spanish chewy bread, toasted and spread with butter and marmalade.”)  But however routine those early meals of the day, “dinners on the Camino were universally delicious.”

Unfortunately I’m approaching the limits of an ideal blog post – 1,000 words or less – so I’ll have to wrap it up.  And what better way to wrap up an emphasis on the good parts of the Camino than the photo at right:  A “scene along the way:  A shepherd and his ‘flocking’ sheep.”

I took that picture on September 17, the fifth day of hiking.  And aside from a quaint shepherd and his flock, you can also see “some fellow Peregrinos in the background, walking along the road.”  That particular day featured a lot of hiking on macadam and asphalt highways, but with more than two months’ hindsight, the picture above right made it all worthwhile.

Plus I discovered – in just checking my hand-written notebook – some more good parts of the Camino.  I wrote on September 15, “Two nice Spanish ladies helped us today.  One came from behind and zipped up my pack.”  (As in the side pockets that I’d left unzipped.)  Then, “Another [lady] pointed us back to where ‘we’d’ made a wrong turn.  We had to hike across a field.”

I remember that.  While the Camino is normally well-marked, there are times when you can get lost.  We’d taken what we thought was the right path, but then discovered there were no other hikers around.  That’s when the Spanish lady took the time to point out the error of our ways.

But now I’m getting really close to the 1,000-word maximum.  So I’ll wrap up with the picture below, from the first day off we took from hiking.  We reached Burgos – with a population of some 180,000 – on Friday evening, September 22.  (After 10 days hiking.)  After checking into our swanky hotel, we went out for a bite at the Cafe Dolar, an American-themed pizza parlor.

It was quite the Friday-night hot spot, and featured American-movie posters on the walls and ceilings, and some old-timey advertising posters and such.  I had such a good time that I went back Saturday afternoon, for a quick cerveza.  And to take the picture below.  (You can see my yellow-shirted arm to the left in the mirror.)  It was almost like being home…  (But better.)

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The upper image is courtesy of Pamplona – Wikipedia.  Caption: “Monument to running of the bulls.”

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to “Some people reading ‘Hola! Buen Camino*,'” the full reference is to the post dated October 23, 2017, “Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited.  (As opposed to the “primitive” post I did while on the Camino itself, “Hola! Buen Camino,” dated October 3, 2017.)  

And as to the “$13 dinner special,” that would have been 13 euros. 

On Roy Moore – and Oscar Wilde

Oscar Wilde Sarony.jpg

 Oscar Wilde in 1882, before he was sentenced to two years prison for “gross indecency…”

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As a general rule it pays to remember our past history.  That’s good advice even when – and maybe especially when – that history isn’t all that glorious.  As Harry Truman once said, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.”  (See Harry Truman and his History Lessons.)  Which brings up Roy Moore – and Oscar Wilde.

Judge Roy Moore.jpgOne interesting aspect of Moore’s saga involves his weighing legal action against women accusing him of harassment(Other interesting aspects include his being “compared to Jesus.”  Or – in the alternative – to Joseph, who “courted” Mary when she was 14 years old.)

But let’s focus on his weighing legal action against his accusers.  And the fact that “Those who cannot remember the past are [often] condemned to repeat it.”

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In 1895, Oscar Wilde was at the height of his fame.*  But that all came crashing down when he got into a dispute with the Marquess of Queensberry(The same guy who lent his “name to the ‘Queensberry Rules‘ that form the basis of modern boxing.”)  It started like this:

On 18 February 1895, the Marquess left his calling card at Wilde’s club, the Albemarle, inscribed: “For Oscar Wilde, posing somdomite” [sic].  Wilde … against the advice of his friends, initiated a private prosecution against Queensberry for libel, since the note amounted to a public accusation that Wilde had committed the crime of sodomy.

What happened next was a public scandal, and a media circus.

 It seems the Marquess of Queensberry was the father of Wilde’s lover – one of them anyway – Lord Alfred Douglas.  And after Wilde filed the lawsuit, the Marquess was arrested and charged with criminal libel.  So he and his lawyers went to work:

Queensberry could avoid conviction for libel only by demonstrating that his accusation was in fact true…  Queensberry’s lawyers thus hired private detectives to find [supporting] evidence…  They decided on a strategy of portraying Wilde as a depraved older man who habitually enticed naïve youths…

As noted, Wilde filed the lawsuit against the advice of friends, one of whom advised him to “flee to France.”  But he proceeded on, to a trial that “became a cause célèbre as salacious details” began to emerge in the press.  The trial itself began “amid scenes of near hysteria.”

A cartoon drawing of Wilde in a crowded courtroomLater, as the defense produced evidence to support the accusations, Wilde decided to drop the prosecution:

Queensberry was found not guilty, as the court declared that his accusation that Wilde was “posing as a Somdomite” [sic] was justified, “true in substance and in fact.”  Under the Libel Act 1843, Queensberry’s acquittal rendered Wilde legally liable for the considerable expenses Queensberry had incurred in his defence, which left Wilde bankrupt.

But wait, there was more!!!

Even as Wilde was leaving court, an arrest warrant was applied for, against him.  Again friends advised him to take a fast boat to France, but it was too late.  Or as Wikipedia put it:  The libel trial unearthed evidence that led to Wilde’s “own arrest and trial for gross indecency.”

To make a long story short, Wilde was sentenced to two years hard labor.  And when he tried to speak, his voice was drowned out by cries of “‘Shame’ in the courtroom.”

Wilde was imprisoned first in Pentonville Prison and then Wandsworth Prison in London.  Inmates followed a regimen of “hard labour, hard fare and a hard bed,” which wore very harshly on Wilde…   His health declined sharply, and in November he collapsed during chapel from illness and hunger…    He spent two months in the infirmary…   Richard B. Haldane, the Liberal MP and reformer, visited him and had him transferred in November to Reading Prison…  The transfer itself was the lowest point of his incarceration, as a crowd jeered and spat at him on the railway platform.

When Wilde was released from prison – in May 1897 – he sailed immediately to France and never returned to England.  He spent his last three years “in impoverished exile.”  Despite that, and though his “health had suffered greatly from the harshness and diet of prison, he had a feeling of spiritual renewal.”  Among other works, in exile he wrote and partially published De Profundis, a letter “from the depths” based on Psalm 130(Of which more in the Notes.)

So maybe there’s some hope for Roy Moore yet…

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The point is that in a few short years Oscar Wilde went from the highest acclaim to cries of “shame” in the courtroom.  And it all came about based on an ill-advised lawsuit that should never have been filed.  (And of which Roy Moore may want to take notice.)  Further, when Wilde was transferred to “Reading Gaol,” a crowd gathered to jeer and spit at him.

And now he brings tourists to Dublin, the city of his birth…

(Which leads to the question:  Will the same happen to GadsdenAlabama, Roy Moore’s birthplace?)

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The upper image is courtesy of Oscar Wilde – Wikipedia, with the caption:  “Photograph taken in 1882 by Napoleon Sarony.” 

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to Wilde “at the height of his fame:”  Throughout the 1880’s Wilde was a popular London playwright.  He was noted for his epigrams – his “witty, ingenious or pointed sayings” – and a novel The Picture of Dorian Gray.  Then there were the plays, including a “masterpiece,” The Importance of Being Earnest.  Also:

He wrote Salome (1891) in French in Paris but it was refused a licence for England due to the absolute prohibition of Biblical subjects on the English stage.  Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, which made him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London

The “media circus” image is courtesy of Media

The lower image is courtesy of Wikipedia: “Statue of Oscar Wilde in Merrion Square, Dublin.”  

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A final note:  This post borrowed extensively from a post in my other blog, On Oscar Wilde and Psalm 130.  The following is a summary of the highlights of that post:

Between January and March 1897, near the end of his prison term, Wilde wrote a letter.

The letter was sent from “Reading Gaol to Lord Alfred Douglas.”  The title of the letter was De Profundus.  Psalm 130 is one of the “Penitential psalms.”  In English it begins:  “Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord!”  The Latin for “out of the depths” is De Profundus, and that’s where the title comes from.  See De Profundis (letter) – Wikipedia

In other words, [Wilde] “lost everything dear to him,” but didn’t blame external forces.  [Take note, Roy.]  The letter quoted Isaiah 53:3  He was despised and rejected by mankind, and [Wilde] came to see “Christ as a Romantic artist.”  In a word, instead of blaming other people, Wilde “rather absorb[ed] his hardships through the artistic process into a spiritual experience.”  See Oscar WildeDe Profundis, and also Voices from Solitary: Oscar Wilde’s Cry from the Depths.

Incidentally, Wilde had to publish his last work, “Reading Gaol,” under an assumed name:

The finished poem was published by Leonard Smithers in 1898 under the name C.3.3., which stood for cell block C, landing 3, cell 3.  This ensured that Wilde’s name – by then notorious – did not appear on the poem’s front cover…   It was a commercial success, going through seven editions in less than two years…

So again, maybe there’s some hope for Roy Moore yet…

This time last year – 11/8 and 11/13/16

From last November 13:  “Are you telling me Donald Trump just got elected president?”

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It’s mid-November, and so it’s time to start taking stock of the year just past.  (And what a year it’s been!)  Which brings up “last year at this time.”  Specifically, two posts from this time last year:  Trump made me a Contrarian,* and “Trump is like a box of chocolates.”  (Published November 8 and 13, 2016, respectively.)  The “Chocolates” post noted a prediction that – having been elected – Trump would be impeached.  But not by Democrats, by Republicans:

They [Republicans] don’t want Trump as president, because they can’t control him.  He’s unpredictable. They’d love to have Pence – an absolutely down-the-line, conservative, controllable Republican…  “Mike Pence in the White House would put a more trusted establishment Republican in the job.”  (E.A.)

That post also asked if Donald Trump would be “the new Simon Legree” – as noted in the Classic Comics image above left – but that’s a whole ‘nother story altogether.

A man is at the center of the image smiling into the camera. He is sitting on a blue crate and has his hands resting on his legs.The “box of chocolates” post further discussed my being turned into a Contrarian – defined in part as a “moderate with a ‘tude” – both by the election itself and the uncertainty as to what kind of president Trump would turn out to be.  And that brings up what Tom Hanks meant when he said “Life is like a box of chocolates:”

When you open a box of chocolates, there is a variety of flavors available.  Problem is, since they are covered in chocolate, you can’t really tell what any given piece of chocolate is going to taste like…  The real lesson:  you take what life gives you and you learn to deal with it, because – as they say – that’s life.

I wondered if Trump might “evolve into something neither his ardent supporters nor his rabid opponents expect.”  I also wondered if “Showman Donald Trump” had actually played his “far-right conservative” supporters “like a piano.”  And finally, I wondered if – given “Donald Trump’s chameleon-like shifting political positions” – he would “eventually be seen as an ‘effective elected official,’ or a funhouse showman?”

It seems the jury is still out on those questions.  (At least to some people.) 

But no matter:  I resolved in the “box of chocolates” post that I would “be a cheerful Contrarian.”  Which brings up the Trump made me a Contrarian post.  I published that on the night of last year’s election – and before the final results came in.

I started off by noting that I used to be all “moderate and nicey-nicey.”  I used to say – or at least think – things like, “Let’s not rush to judgment!”  Or, “Let’s wait until we get all the facts before we say anything that might be taken the wrong way!”

However, when dealing with people like Trump supporters, that “moderate, reasoned, common-sense approach will get you nothing but bowled over.”  (In the sense of hearing something so “whacked” that you are rendered temporarily speechless with disbelief.)

And that’s because they “use the 8-track tape mode of political discourse:”

The thing about 8-tracks was that they never stopped.  You never got to the end.  They used a “continuous loop” system, which is why they didn’t have a rewind option.  As long as you played the tape, you got the same thing over and over again.  The same “data,” the same songs played in the same order over and over again.

Which I thought was much like “trying to have a meaningful conversation” with a Trumpster.  That led to one definition of Contrarian as a former moderate who has to “take a position directly opposite the person we’re talking to just to get a &^%$ word in edge-wise!”

You could also refer to it as having to “out-wacko the wackos.”  And that’s turning out to be a skill that we former “moderates” are definitely going to need in the years ahead.

The good news is that having to “out-wacko the wackos” isn’t all that difficult, and can be fun.  (In a weird, other-worldly sense.)  Which is another way of saying that being a Contrarian means learning how to make a snappy comeback.  But because Trumpsters tend to make the same arguments over and over again, your “moderate” or “Contrarian” snappy comebacks don’t have to be all that snappy.  “You can plan your snappy comebacks way ahead of time.”

Which translates to:  “Bless those Trumpsters and their 8-track political arguments…” 

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“Factory optional 8-track stereo player … between the center console and dash…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Forrest Gump (1994) – IMDb.  See also Forrest Gump – Wikipedia, and Life is like a box of chocolates – Wiktionary.  The latter indicated that the book “Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami, first published in Japanese in 1987, and in English in 1989, has the following: ‘Just remember, life is like a box of chocolates.’”  (Some seven years before the movie.)

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus, as to the “Contrarian” post, the full title of the post for November 8, 2016, was ‘Mi Dulce’ – and Donald Trump – made me a Contrarian.”  “Mi Dulce” was my pet name for the woman I was dating at the time.  However, that relationship is now defunct, for reasons possibly including her status as a Trumpster, then and since.

The “Legree” image is courtesy of Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Simon Legree on the cover of the comic book adaptation of ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ (Classic Comics No. 15, November 1943 issue).”  The article added:  “It is unclear if Legree is based on any actual individuals.  Reports surfaced after the 1870s that [Harriet BeecherStowe had in mind a wealthy cotton and sugar plantation owner named Meredith Calhoun, who settled on the Red River north of Alexandria, Louisiana.  Generally, however, the personal characteristics of Calhoun (‘highly educated and refined’) do not match the uncouthness and brutality of Legree.”  

The “Gump-in-uniform” image is courtesy of Forrest Gump – Wikipedia.

The lower image is courtesy of 8-track tape – Wikipedia.  The full caption:  “Factory optional 8-track stereo player in a 1967 American Motors (AMC) vehicle mounted between the center console and dash.”  The article added:  “The format is regarded as an obsolete technology, and was relatively unknown outside the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and Japan.”

“Hola! Buen Camino!” – Revisited

My completed pilgrimage started at Pamplona, at lower right, for miles of hiking and biking…

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Well, we did it.  My brother and I arrived in Santiago de Compostela on Thursday, October 12.  This was after hiking – and biking – the Camino de Santiago, as shown in the map above.  Along the way I occasionally listened to my iPod Shuffle – to help pass the time – and one of my favorite songs was It’s a Long Way to Tipperary.  Except in my mind I had to change the words to “It’s a long way to Santiago!”

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I did my last post from Puente La Reina, in Spain – “about eight miles shy of León” – on October 3, 2017.  For reasons including that I only had my tablet, the post was extremely primitive.  But it did note that – upon reaching Leon – “we will have hiked 250 miles from Pamplona, in the 21 days since we left on September 13.*”  Here’s what I also noted:

The first 10 days after [Pamplona] – on the hike – were pretty miserable.  My left foot constantly throbbed, until it blistered up and got tough.  But the day off in Burgos helped a lot.  And since then we’ve made good progress.  Still, we had to implement a Plan B, which involves renting bikes in Leon and cycling the remaining 194 miles.

Image may contain: sky and outdoorAnd speaking of Burgos, here’s a picture of the city’s famous cathedral.  It shows my fellow traveller, and was taken on the morning of September 26, on the way out of town.  (That took over an hour, hiking.)

To make a long story short, we covered the last 195 miles or so in seven days, riding mountain bikes, complete with panniers on the back.  In other words, during the first two-thirds of the trip we averaged 12  miles a day, hiking.  In the last seven days we averaged closer to 28 miles a day.

But in a way that turned out to be simply a variety of Dorothy Parker‘s “different kind of hell.*”  (We just got way too sore again, but in different parts of the body.)

You can get a better idea from the map at the top of the page.  It took ten days to hike from Pamplona to Burgos, where we too our first day off.  It took another 10 days to reach Leon, where we took our second day off and picked up our pre-ordered bikes.  Then that long section from Leon to Burgos – some 195 miles of the 450 – we covered in seven days.

But not without mishap.  Neither one of us had ridden a bike in 40 or 50 years, so it wasn’t really surprising when my right handlebar took out – smashed the heck out of – the side-view mirror of some poor slob’s nice new car.*  In the second mishap I literally “ran my ass into a ditch…”

We were zooming downhill one afternoon.  I tried to adjust my left pantleg, and the next thing I knew I was laying in a ditch, bleeding like a stuck pig.  And not just any ditch.  A nice deep ditch covered with thorns and brambles on the sides and bottom.  The “stuck pig” part came when my Ray-Bans gashed the bridge of my nose, causing it to bleed profusely…

The third major mishap came a mere six kilometers from Santiago, when my rear tire when flat.

We finally got a new tube on and inflated, but then had a time getting the chain back on the derailleur.  I finally flagged down a passing Spanish cyclist.  He helped get that straight, but then – after he peddled his merry way – we found out there were no rear brakes, which posed a problem.  We knew that much of the remaining six kilometers was downhill, and also that if applied too forcefully, using front-only brakes can cause a cyclist to go “ass over teakettle.”

So my brother had us switch bikes, and we both glided – carefully and gingerly – into Santiago.

I’ll be writing on more of these adventures, including the several times I – or we – got Lost in Spain.  But after five weeks in Spain – the last part of which included a nine-hour bus ride from Santiago to Madrid, and a 10-hour flight from Madrid to Atlanta – I can only say, with feeling:

There’s No Place Like Home!!

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There is indeed “no place like home” (especially after a long pilgrimage…)

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The upper image is courtesy of Camino de Santiago 800 PROJECT: Map of the  

The “Tipperary” image is courtesy of It’s a Long Way to Tipperary – Wikipedia.

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed further in this “notes” section.  Thus as to the asterisk next to the passage “the 21 days since we left on September 13:”  We actually reached Leon on October 4. 

Re: Fellow traveller.  Here referring to a person who is “intellectually sympathetic” – in this case, to the crazy idea of spending thousands of dollars and five weeks to hike in a foreign country – as opposed to the term as used in U.S. politics in the 1940s and 1950s.  At that time and place the term was a “pejorative term for a person who was philosophically sympathetic to Communism, yet was not a formal, ‘card-carrying member‘ of the American Communist Party.” 

Young Dorothy Parker.jpgRe:  “Different kind of hell.”  The allusion is to Dorothy Parker‘s famously saying – whenever the door rang in her apartment – “What fresh hell is this?”  That’s also the title of Parker’s 1989 biography by Marion Meade.  See Dorothy Parker: What Fresh Hell Is This?  

Re:  “Some poor slob’s nice new car.”  City streets in Spain are generally very narrow and difficult to maneuver. 

The “bicycle in a ditch” image is courtesy of Cyclist falls into ditch at opening of new safer bike path …

The lower image is courtesy   See also No Place Like Home – Wikipedia, which noted that – aside from the famous line in the movie Wizard of Oz – the phrase may also refer to “the last line of the 1822 song ‘Home! Sweet Home!,’ words by John Howard Payne and music by Sir Henry Bishop; the source of inspiration for the other references here: ‘Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home,’” and/or “‘(There’s No Place Like) Home for the Holidays,’ a 1954 Christmas song most famously sung by Perry Como.”  For a “live” version, see also There’s No Place Like Home – YouTube.