Category Archives: Nostalgia reviews

On that nail in my right eye…

(…which could have resulted in a “lazy eye” like character actor Jack Elam – but didn’t.)

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Here’s a break from Politics:  Six years ago I was helping my brother take up the deck in his back yard.  I ended up having a large nail – like the one shown at right* – shoot up and puncture my right eye.

Since then I’ve learned to manage with one good eye.  Then last Friday, February 24, I went to a local eye institute.  I figured on getting my right eye fixed, but it turned out more complicated than I thought.  (“Of which more anon.”)  Which leads to one point of this story:  That fooling around with sharp objects can indeed “put your eye out.”  That’s what happened to veteran character actor Jack Elam, shown in the top picture.

Born in 1920, by the early 1930s he was living with his father and stepmother.  (His birth mother died in 1922.)  There – in south central Arizona – he “lost the sight in his left eye during a boyhood accident when he was stabbed with a pencil at a Boy Scout meeting.”

Then of course there was that famous exchange in the 1983 film A Christmas Story:

Ralphie:  I want an official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle!

Mrs. Parker:  No, you’ll shoot your eye out.

Which is pretty much what nearly happened.*  Which leads to another valid point:  That sometimes those old wives’ tales turn out to be true.  (See also Old wives’ tale – Wikipedia.*)

But getting back to the nail in my right eye:  The thing I remember most about the incident – six years ago – was a feeling of utter stupidity.  How could I have done such a thing?  How could I have been so careless?

That, together with a feeling of being totally out of it.  I know my brother drove me back and forth to the local eye institute’s other-side-of-Atlanta offices and back, several times.  (On the Atlanta Beltway, which is normally a nightmare to drive even one time.)  I also remember that there was at least one surgery, and a host of pre- and post-operation doctor visits.

But through it all I was pretty much in a daze.

Now fast-forward six years, beyond the ongoing lack of depth perception that I had to learn to deal with.  (As illustrated at right.)  And my going on to finally adjusting to seeing with only one good eye.  Around this time last year – at the annual eye exam that I now take very serious – there was some mention of a corrective procedure that would cost only $500.

But I decided to wait.  And the end result was that having turned 65 last summer, the procedure would now be covered by Medicare.  But again, then came the complications last Friday.

The local doctor who does my eye exams made an appointment at the College Park office.  He added that I could drive myself up and back, and that the actual procedure would only take about five minutes.  Which sounded too good to be true, and it was…

It turned out he was talking about a YAG eye procedure:

A YAG procedure, or … posterior capsulotomy, is a type of corrective surgery sometimes needed to correct cloudiness of the lens covering, which is known as posterior capsule opacification, following cataract surgery…

Which was part of what threw me off during the “procedure preliminaries.”  The nurse practitioner started asking questions about my cataract, and I had no idea what she was talking about.  (I had gotten a nail through my eye!)  But in the fullness of time things got clearer.

That is, I finally got to talk to the surgeon who’d operated on and “saved my right eye” six years ago, and he had a different opinion.  A YAG procedure – shown at left – would indeed take only five minutes, and I’d have been able to drive myself home.

The problem was:  A “YAG” only clears up cloudiness in the lens of the eye.  My problem was: I had no lens in the right eye.  The surgeon had taken the lens out – damaged as it was – in the process of saving the eye six years ago.  So the surgeon’s solution was a secondary lens Implant.

The end result?  A new appointment for an actual surgery in April, complete with a thick folder of cautionary instructions and a prescription for three separate eye drops that appear to be really expensive.  Then too I won’t be able to drive home, so the nice insurance lady arranged for a ride to and from the surgery.  (Paid for by Medicare, thank you very much.)   But I feel ever so much better about this procedure.  If it’s going to be this complicated – I’ll have to tape a plastic shield over my right eye at night, to prevent “inadvertent rubbing” – it’s got to be worthwhile.

Of course I know I’ll get more nervous as the time for the surgery gets closer, but maybe – just maybe – I’ll then be able to see out of both eyes, and have some depth perception.

Also “of course,” there was and is a simple solution that could have prevented all this rigamarole:  Always wear safety glasses,* no matter how dorky they look…

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The upper image is courtesy of Jack Elamlostcoastoutpost.com.  The photo of Elam was part of an article – “GROWING OLD UNGRACEFULLY: The Good, the Bad and the Awesome” – which was in turn a trbute to “Spaghetti Westerns.”  (Referring to the broad subgenre of Western films that emerged in the mid-1960s in the wake of Sergio Leone‘s film-making style…  The term was used by American critics [because they] were produced and directed by Italians.”)  

And a BTW:  The original title for this post was”Yes, ‘you could put your eye out!'”

“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 “large nail – like the one shown at right:”   I’ve kept the actual offending large nail “even to this day,” but was unable to upload a photo of it in time for publication.  Note that the nail image as used is courtesy of additionally 16 Penny Nails Home Depot moreover 10 X 3 1 8 In 12 Penny …nikecuador.com.  I believe the actual offending nail is a “12 penny;” at any rate, it is some 3 and 3/4 inches long, bent and rusty.

Re:  The 1983 film, A Christmas Story.  Wikipedia noted that Ralphie ended up getting the gun, but:

Ralphie takes the gun outside and fires it at a target perched on a metal sign in the backyard. However, the BB ricochets back at Ralphie and knocks his glasses off.  While searching for them, thinking he has indeed shot his eye out, Ralphie accidentally steps on his glasses and breaks them.  In order to cover for the fact that he accidentally broke his glasses, Ralphie tells his mother that a falling icicle was responsible for the accident.  His mother, not having seen what actually happened, believes him.

On that note, the “Ralphie-with-a-BB-gun” photo is courtesy of The Lance : Christmas Classic Movie Review: A Christmas Storyfunny-pictures.picphotos.net.

Re:  Old wives’ tale.  Wikipedia noted that such “‘tales’ are considered superstition, folklore or unverified claims with exaggerated and/or inaccurate details.  Old wives’ tales often center on women’s traditional concerns, such as pregnancy, puberty, social relations, health, herbalism and nutrition.”  The article includes a list of such sayings, such as:  “Swimming with full stomach causes cramps and [you] should wait an hour after eating before swimming;”  “Don’t make silly faces or it will make the silly face permanent;”  and “Shaving makes the hair grow back thicker.”

Re: Depth perception.  That lack turned out to be a problem when I was climbing “one big pile of &^%$ rocks after another.”  See the notes to On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail! – Part 2.

Re: “Dorky.”  Merriam-Webster indicated the term, “when used to refer to a socially awkward or inept person, is a relatively recent word:  our records indicate that it first appeared in writing in the 1960s.”

Re:  “Always wear safety glasses.”  I should mention that my “niece by marriage” got me a gag gift for the Christmas following the punctured-eye incident in August.  She got me a solid set of heavy-duty plastic safety glasses.  (See also closing the barn door after the horse has bolted – Idioms.  And a side note:  The term “niece by marriage” was provided by What would you call your nephews wife – Answers.com.  Another site, What do you call your nephew’s wife – Answers.com, posits that the “English language has no special name for a nephew’s wife and does not consider you to be related to you. You would simply call her ‘my nephew’s wife.'”)

The lower image is courtesy of We’re going to be remembered [for] dorky looking goggles … kotaku.com.au, in “This Week In The Business: The Dorky-Looking Goggles People.”

Some highlights from 2016…

Seeing a “naked lady on the Yukon” – symbolized here – was one of my highlights from 2016…

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It’s New Year’s Day, and so a good time to recall some highlights from 2016.

Johnny Mercer, New York, N.Y., between 1946 and 1948 (William P. Gottlieb 06121).jpgThere was of course the Election From Hell, but the less said about that the better.  I prefer to “Accentuate the Positive.”  (Referring to the 1944 song with lyrics by Johnny Mercer, shown at left.)  And seeing a “naked lady on the Yukon” certainly qualifies as one of those positive 2016 highlights…

Back in August my brother, nephew and I met up in the town of Whitehorse, in the Yukon Territory.  From there we drove to Skagway, Alaska.  And from there we hiked the Chilkoot Trail in four days.  (The “meanest 33 miles in history.”)

And here’s a news flash:  There’s a good reason why they call it the “meanest 33 miles in history.”  Mostly it’s because “the Chilkoot” is not a trail at all, but just one big pile of rocks after another.  But it was a man-against-nature venture, and fortunately the “manly men” won. (Though not without some bruises and blisters that lasted for weeks…)  

After that my nephew had the good sense to head back east to begin classes at Penn State.  However, my brother and I proceeded on to a twelve-day canoe trip “down” the Yukon River.  We ended up in Dawson City, also in the Yukon Territory.  But the most “poetic” part of the journey involved two days paddling on Lake Laberge, at right.

Most people know it better as “Lake Labarge,” thanks to the famous poem,  “The Cremation of Sam McGee.”  But that’s only because “Laberge” doesn’t rhyme with “marge,” meaning “shore” or “edge.”  (As in “edge of a lake.”  And further as in the poem’s narrator hauling McGee’s body to the “marge of Lake Lebarge.”)

I figured there was an object lesson there, somewhere…

All in all my brother and I spent five weeks driving up to the Yukon – from Utah – then doing the two “man against nature” adventures, and finally driving back home from the Yukon.  But by far the more traumatic of the two was hiking the Chilkoot Trail.  It was so traumatic that I had to do two blogposts on the subject:  On the Chilkoot &^%$# Trail!, Parts 1 and Part 2.

One of the highlights hiking the trail came as we three were approaching the summit of the Chilkoot Pass.  (My brother and nephew were way out in front.  And at left is the good part.)  

And what with my lack of depth perception – from having only one good eye – going over “one big pile of *&$% rocks after another” was like negotiating a minefield.  I wore heavy hiking boots, but they felt like ballet slippers.  Every step was sheer torture, and brought new pain to each aching foot.

So anyway, I had just taken one of many missteps – causing severe pain – and thus let loose a string of pungent epithets.  Then I looked behind me and there – climbing behind me – was a sweet young lady hiker.  Sheepishly I apologized, noting that I had “no depth perception.”  But she went ahead and passed me.  (And probably rolled her eyes in the process…)  A short while later I had another misstep and loosed another string of epithets.

Again I looked behind me, and again there was a young couple, including another “sweet, innocent young thing.”  So I said to myself, “Hey, I may be on to something here!”

Unfortunately I tried it a few times later on the trail, but my magic formula didn’t work.  (On the other hand there I did see that “Naked lady on the Yukon,” 10 days later, on August 12…) 

You can see the full story at the “Naked lady” post, which brings up the strong current on the Yukon River.  Generally it’s pretty fast, ranging from over four miles an hour up to seven miles an hour in some places.  (Except on“Lake &^%$# Laberge,” where the paddling is very slow.)

That’s the kind of current that helps you paddle 440 miles in 12 days.  But it also means that when you see something totally unexpected, by the time you recognize it, the current is already moving you downriver…  Which meant that by the time I recognized the naked lady as a naked lady, the current was already pushing me farther down-river.

SwampWaterPoster.jpgWhich is enough – for now – about the naked lady on the Yukon.

Which brings up one of my other 2016 adventures, a return trip to the  Okefenokee Swamp, as detailed in “There he goes again.”  That post – from Monday, May 30 – looked ahead to the middle of the week.  I actually put in 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday morning, June 1, and counted 39 gators in the first hour of paddling.  (Then I stopped counting.)   I never did do a post on that little adventure, which is something I need to do in the next week or so.

As for an excuse, I had “another stinkin’ funeral.”  A close friend died unexpectedly the day before, but I didn’t find out about it until I was already in Valdosta.

Which makes this as good a place as any to end this particular post.  Except to note that there were way too many “stinkin’ funerals” to go to in 2016.  (As noted also in the December 19 post, A funeral and an NTE (Near-Ticket Experience).)

And to note that I didn’t see any naked ladies in the Okefenokee Swamp.

Just at lot of alligator[s] mississippienses…”

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The upper image is courtesy of Sun tanning – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “A woman sun tanning on a Portuguese beach.”  Further references are in the blog-posts cited in the text.  And a BTW: Googling “election from hell 2016” got me some 154,000,000 results.

“I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night…”

Baez stands behind a too-tall podium bristling with microphones, wearing a plaid sleeveless top, longish hair in a feather cut

50 years hence, will some dulcet-toned lass sing “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night?”

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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:

Woodstock poster.jpgA word of explanation:  50 years from now that dulcet-toned lass could be singing that ode to Donald Trump to the tune of “I dreamed I saw Joe Hill last night.”  Joan Baez sang the original song – about Joe Hill – most memorably at Woodstockback in the summer of 1969.

Another word of explanation.  The day after the last election – November 9, 2016, in case you’ve forgotten – a phrase came trickling up from my memory vault.  In fact, I did a post on Facebook, reminding people of “what Joan Baez said:  ‘DON’T MOURN.  ORGANIZE!

But then I had to explain it was actually Joe Hill who said that, but she’s the one who made the saying famous.  (At Woodstock, “back in our hippie days.”)  As an aside, Joe Hill was both a labor activist and a song-writer, and as such was credited with inventing the term pie in the sky.

(Which could also refer to Donald Trump, but that would mean going off on a tangent…)

So anyway – and to make a long story short:  Today I finally uploaded Joan’s “Joe Hill last night,” and listened to it on my iPod Shuffle as I did my weekly two hours of kayaking.

That’s when I was struck by the line at the end of the song:  “Where working men defend their rights, it’s there you’ll find Joe Hill.”  Which is what makes the resulting comparison in this post so ironic.  (Either that, or incongruous.  I always get those two  mixed up.)

A black-and-white photograph of Donald Trump as a teenager, smiling and wearing a dark uniform with various badges and a light-colored stripe crossing his right shoulder. This image was taken while Trump was in the New York Military Academy in 1964.The thing is, in some strange way Donald Trump – educated at the New York Military Academy, then the Wharton School (at right) and worth an estimated 3.7 billion dollars* – has somehow become a hero to the (white) American working man.

See for example Trump’s fans have more to lose than Trump himself.  That article noted that whatever the outcome of the election, Trump would remain “more or less intact … rich and privileged and more famous than ever.”  However:

The same cannot be said for the millions of Americans who have looked to Trump to save them.  These folks … the angry, white, blue-collar workers who are outraged or terrified that America has become some topsy-turvy multi-cultural nightmare where a hard-working man cannot make a decent living … will emerge from this circus worse off than before.

See also Donald Trump a working man’s hero in US coal country.

But the future may not be so rosy for The Donald.  In another line from from “Joe Hill,” Joan Baez noted, “‘The Copper Bosses killed you Joe, They shot you Joe’ says I.”  In DJT’s case, the same professor who predicted – back in September – that Trump would win is now saying that he’ll be impeached.  And in another irony the Democrats won’t be behind the impeachment.

Professor Allan Lichtman recently noted that Republicans are nervous about Donald Trump, for reasons including that he’s a “loose cannon” and that no one know what he really believes.  “He can’t be controlled.  The Republicans would vastly prefer to have Mike Pence, an absolutely predictable down-the-pipe conservative Republican.*”

Which – you could say – was what happened to Joe Hill.  The “Copper bosses” couldn’t control him, so they had him convicted of murder in a “controversial trial.”  In Donald’s case, if his party bosses can’t control him, they may resort to impeaching him in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, and seeing him convicted in the Republican-controlled Senate.

 (See also – for example – That OTHER “Teflon Don,” which noted – back in March – that Trump “may well be the first president in American history to get both impeached and convicted.”)

And if that were to happen, Trump would remain forever as a hero to many.  (Untarnished by his actual performance in office.)  As the original song said, “Takes more than guns to kill a man…  Says Joe ‘I didn’t die.'”  And it may well take more than an impeachment-and-conviction to tarnish the Donald’s reputation with the American working man.  

And so the final stanza of  “I dreamed I saw Don Trump last night” might go like this:

From San Diego up to Maine,
In every mine and mill,
Where working men defend their rights,
It’s there you’ll find Don Trump,
It’s there you’ll find Don Trump!

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Hey, it could happen!

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The upper image is courtesy of Joan Baez – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “Baez playing at the March on Washington in August 1963.”  See also the “Portrait of Joan Baez in 1961.”

For a live version of the song see Joan Baez Live @ Woodstock 1969 Joe Hill.mpg – YouTube, or Joan Baez At Woodstock: Her Song For Joe Hill (VIDEO).”  For the full lyrics see JOAN BAEZ LYRICS – Joe Hill.

Re:  “Hence.”  I used the term in main caption in the sense of “archaic, of a length of time,” and/or meaning “in the future from now.”  An example:  “A year hence it will be forgotten.”

Re:  Joe Hill.  See Wikipedia, which noted that as a labor activist and songwriter, he was “variously celebrated as a martyr or a villain.”  And as a song-writer, one of his best-known songs was “The Preacher and the Slave,” in which he coined the phrase “pie in the sky.”

Re:  “Memory vauit.”  The link will take you to Confabulation – Wikipedia, which defined the term in psychiatry as “a disturbance of memory, defined as the production of fabricated, distorted or misinterpreted memories about oneself or the world.”  (Which could “also again” refer to Donald Trump, but as in the main text “that would mean going off on [another] tangent.”)

“Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed in these “notes.”  Thus, as to the professor predicting Trump’s impeachment, see Professor predicted Trump win, says he will be impeached.

Re: Trump’s net worth.  See Donald Trump Net Worth | Bankrate.com.

The lower image is courtesy of APG 146 – When Pigs Fly?airlinepilotguy.com.  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.”

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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.

On Alice and her restaurant – yet again…

reprise from last December’s Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited.  

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Last December I posted Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited.  It included the photo-montage above, but who’da thunk it?  Who would have thought that one of those men – (the guy at top center) – would be elected president, a year later, in 2016?  (And I’m sure Donald didn’t inhale either.)

So once again the question is:  “Can you say prescient?”

But back to the point.  Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited was about a Thanksgiving tradition I started back in 1993.  Listening – every Thanksgiving – to the full 18 minutes and 34 seconds of Alice’s Restaurant.  (The “musical monologue by singer-songwriter Arlo Guthrie,” released in 1967.)

I do that to “help my team win.”  Just like Moses did, holding his arms up at the Battle of Rephidim.  (At right.)

That is, Moses held his arms up at the Battle of Rephidim to help his team win.  I do the same thing, in part by listening to Alice’s Restaurant every Thanksgiving.  (To help my team beat its hated arch-rival, just like Moses helped his team beat “the dreaded Amalekites.”  For more see On football, Moses and Rephidim.)

But this year is different.  My team is out of the hunt for a national championship, so the outcome of tonight’s game isn’t going to change much.  (At most it’ll be the difference between going 9-3 in the regular season, or “falling” to 8-4.)  So whatever happens tonight, “we” will still have to wait until next year to win “our” fourth national championship.

This year is different because there are bigger events going on in the world outside sports.

The biggest difference?  This country has now embarked on what we might call “the Donald Experiment.”  Which means the question to be decided over the next four years is whether Donald Trump can deliver on the veritable plethora of promises that he made in his recent campaigns.  (First for the Republican nomination, then for the presidency itself.)  

Or whether those promises are merely “negotiable campaign devices.*”

Alice's Restaurant.jpgAnd that’s where Alice’s Restaurant comes back in.  For one thing, the full title of the song refers to the “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” and as Wikipedia noted:

The term “massacree,” used by Guthrie[,] is a colloquialism originating in the Ozark Mountains that describes “an event so wildly and improbably and baroquely messed up that the results are almost impossible to believe.”  It is a corruption of the word massacre … but carries a much lighter and more sarcastic connotation, never being used to describe anything involving actual death.

In turn that phrase – so wildly and improbably and baroquely messed up that the results are almost impossible to believe – perfectly describes the election we just went through.

But getting back to the song itself:  “Alice’s Restaurant” described the Kafkaesque way that Guthrie managed to avoid the Draft – illustrated at right – in 1965.  Briefly, he was rejected because he’d been convicted of littering on Thanksgiving Day.  There followed his encounter with the “surreal bureaucracy at the New York City induction center at 39 Whitehall Street:”

[A]sked whether he had ever been convicted of a crime, Guthrie mentioned the littering incident, and learned that incident was bureaucratically indistinguishable from a violent felony…  In Guthrie’s words, they wanted “to know if I’m moral enough to join the Army – burn women, kids, houses and villages – after bein’ a litterbug.”  (E.A.)

Or as I noted in Alice’s Restaurant, in that song “Arlo Guthrie turned a patently absurd situation into a timeless classic.”  Which brings us back to the challenges raised by a Trump presidency.

To many this last election presents many Americans with a “patently absurd situation.”  But it could also present both a challenge and an opportunity.

Official portrait of Vice President Joe Biden.jpgOr in the immortal words of Joe Biden (at left):

“Calling it an opportunity is a little like saying:  ‘I’ve been dropped in the water that is shark-infested.  But you know, it’s an opportunity.  If I make it to shore, I will set a world’s record.  No one has ever done this before.”*

So if – on the morning after the last election – you started to feel like the next four years will be something like swimming in shark-infested waters, remember this:  It’s an opportunity!

But we digress…  We were talking about the Alice’s Restaurant Massacree and other such blasts from the past.  Which brings up another point that I made in Alice … Revisited:

Alice’s Restaurant reminds us that – for many folks – those good old days weren’t so good[, as seen in the] image at right: “segregated seating at the Super Bowl in 1955.”

Segregated Super Bowl 1955And here’s that image, of “segregated seating …1955.”  You can see the full image at Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited, but the point I’m wondering about is whether we’ve made any progress at all.

Or – to put it another way – there always seems to be a significant segment of Americans who keep wanting to drag us back into the past.  And that’s true even though for many people, “those good old days weren’t so good.”

So it seems to me the slogan “Make America Great Again” carries an implied proviso:  “That is, ‘great’ for the people who did have it made back in the good old days.”

But just for kicks, how about this slogan instead:  Make America Better! 

As in, make America better for all those people who didn’t have it so good back in those “good old days.”  Or for that matter, those people who don’t have it so good right now.  And how about working to Make America Better by fulfilling that promise on the Statue Of Liberty:

“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free…  Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

And that brings us back to the election we just went through.  In some ways the outcome of that election is perfectly illustrated by this, The House GOP just took the whitest selfie ever:

The House GOP surrounds VP-elect Mike Pence in this extremely bright, white selfie

Which brings up this observation:

“Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry…”

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The upper image – which I borrowed from Alice … Revisited – is courtesy of courtesy of Liberal group claims Mitt Romney, Dick Cheney, Donald Trump, others are draft dodgers.  “Note” also that an asterisk in the main text indicates a statement supported by a reference detailed in these “notes.” Thus, as to Trump’s promises being negotiable or campaign devices, see Before taking office, Trump signals campaign promises are negotiableAll the Campaign Promises Donald Trump Has Broken in the Last 24 Hours, and/or Trump backs away from some of his strident campaign promises.

The “Draft” image is courtesy of Draft evasion – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption, “U.S. anti-Vietnam War protesters at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.  A placard to the right reads ‘Use your head – not your draft card.’”

Re: The image “segregated seating at the Super Bowl in 1955.”  In Alice’s Restaurant – Revisited I noted an anachronism, a “chronological inconsistency.”  That is, “the first Super Bowl was not played until 1967 – not 1955.  (The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs 35-10.)”  The image in question – and the “Super Bowl 1955” caption with it – came from ivman’s blague.  The “blague” or “blogue” – apparently French for “blog” – is about “one French professor’s humorous and serious perspectives on life.”  (And specifically, his post on the Good Old Days of Yesteryear.”)  Accordingly, even though the “Super Bowl 1955” caption was written by a cheese-eating surrender monkey – who got the timing of that ostensible Super Bowl wrong by a full decade – the photo is real enough…

The Joe Biden quote is courtesy of Ethan Bronner‘s book, Battle for Justice:  How the [Robert] Bork Nomination Shook America (1989), Anchor Books edition, at page 211.

A final note:   I borrowed the quote beneath the lower photo – “Sometimes you don’t know whether to laugh or cry” – from On rectal thermometers and “you’re entitle.”  That referred to an essay by Harry Golden, involving “our sense of American ingenuity,” the law of unintended consequences, and a concept he called “gradual integration,” referring once again to those “good old days:”

In the emergency room of the Alachua General Hospital at Gainesville, Florida [in 1962], there are three thermometers.  They stand in a row on a small shelf with nothing else.  The first is in an open container labeled:  “WHITE – ORAL,” the third is in an identical container labeled, “COLORED – ORAL,” and the middle one, which protrudes through a cork, in its otherwise sameness, is labeled “RECTAL.”  This is what I call gradual integration.

On Halloween – and “Fool’s Fire”

Japanese view of a Will-o’-the-wisp  –  That might “lead you to your doom” on Halloween night…

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Jack-o'-Lantern 2003-10-31.jpgSunday, October 30 – If you’ve been living under a rock – or sticking your head in the sand to get away from negative political campaigning – you might not know that Halloween is tomorrow night.

And speaking of jack-o’-lanterns – like the one at right – they are widely known as one of the prime symbols of Halloween.  And in some traditions they are said to represent the “souls of the dead.”

Another theory is that some old-time people set those carved-out pumpkins on their windowsills, to keep out “harmful spirits.”  (Keep them from invading their home.)   And in yet another tradition,  jack-o’-lanterns “represented Christian souls in purgatory.”

(See also “corpse candles,” in the notes below…)

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The Day of the Dead (1859).jpgWhich brings us back to Halloween.  But what many people don’t know is that Halloween is actually a religious holiday.  Or that there are actually Three Days of Halloween.  (Called the Halloween Triduum.)  The third day of the three-day holiday – November 2d – is called All Souls’ Day.  The original idea was to remember the souls of “the dear departed,” illustrated by the painting at left.

The second of the three days – November 1st – was known as All Saints’ Day.  But back in Merry Olde England, the word for “saint” was halig, which eventually became “hallow.”  (It may have been easier to pronounce…)  So originally – back in England – November 1st was called “All Hallows Day.”  That meant that – literally – the night of October 31 was the evening – or e’en – before “Hallows Day.”  (Or “All Hallows Day.”)

That then got shortened to “All Hallows E’en” – “Eve” or “Evening” – which in turn got shortened further to what we now know as “Hallowe’en,” or just plain Halloween.

Two things about the night of October 31.  One:  By tradition it started the winter “season of darkness.”  (Old-timers – seeing the days get shorter and shorter – started thinking the days would eventually get so short there would be no light at all.)  The other thing old-timers believed was that on the Eve of All Hallows, “the veil between the material world and the afterlife thinned.”  Put another way, the veil between the living and the dead was most permeable.

(Spirits could more easily “pass through” the veil separating the dead from the living.) 

 So what was the deal with wearing masks and disguises? 

To review, people originally thought that on the night of October 31, the barrier between the living and the dead was pretty much all the way down.  And those old-time people were – perhaps naturally – “scared of those ghosts.”

So those old-time people originally started putting on masks and/or costumes to fool the ghosts and spirits.  (In other words, to disguise their identities.)  The idea was to keep the afterlife “hallows” – ghosts or spirits – from recognizing the people in this, the “material world.”

Another thing they did was to build “bone fires:”

“The fires were thought to bring comfort to the souls in purgatory and people prayed for them as they held burning straw up high.”  The idea came from pagan times, when evil spirits had to be driven away with noise and fire.  (Note also that “bonfire” is short for bone-fire.  See Bonfire – Wikipedia, noting the term “is derived from the fact that bonfires were originally fires in which bones were burned.”)

And there was another old-time custom.  If you had to travel on All Hallows E’en – like from 11:00 p.m. until midnight – your candle could tell your future.  If your candle kept burning, that was a good omen.  (The person holding the candle would be safe in the upcoming “season of darkness.”)  But if your candle went out , “the omen was bad indeed.”

The thought was that the candle had been blown out by witches.

Which brings us back to “fool’s fire,” will-o’-the-wisps, and/or jack-o’-lanterns.  A note:  Such jack-o’-lanterns are now made from pumpkins, but were originally carved from large turnips.

And both the jack-o’-lantern and Will-o’-the-wisp are tied in with the strange ghostly light known as ignis fatuus.  (From the Medieval Latin for “foolish fire.”)  That refers to the “atmospheric ghost light seen by travelers at night, especially over bogs, swamps or marshes.  It resembles a flickering lamp and is said to recede if approached:”

Tradition had it that this ghostly light – seen by travelers at night and especially over bogs, swamps or marshes – resembled a flickering lamp.  The flickering lamp then receded if you approached it, and so it “drew travelers from their safe paths,” to their doom…

Put another way, the phenomenon of fool’s fire was “linked with the leading astray of weary travelers into mires.”  The guy leading people astray was said to be a “mischievous spirit,” carrying a lantern or torch and was said to play tricks on people.

Not that there’s any connection to the election coming up next week or anything…

*   *   *   *

 [Feux Follets Near Paris]Another view of some  ghostly “Fool’s Fire…”

 *   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Will-o’-the-wisp – Wikipedia.  The caption:  “A Japanese rendition of a Russian will-o’-the-wisp.”  (It should also be noted that any resemblance between that “upper image” and any of the political candidates running for office is purely coincidental…) 

Much of the text and “imagery” for this post was gleaned from my companion blog, to wit:  “All Hallows E’en” – 2015, and – in 2014 – On “All Hallows E’en,” Parts I and Part II

 The lower image is courtesy of Will-o’-the-Wisp – Lantern Man, Feu Follet, Ignis Fatuus.  The caption:  “Artist unknown. Source: ‘Flammarion, L’atmosphère: météorologie populaire’ (1888, p.749):”

The Will-o’-the-wisp has been recorded as flickering over marshy ground since at least the middle ages…  The lights have also been incorporated into modern literature, e.g. Dracula, and have even had a children’s television show named after them.  The most commonly cited explanation for them is that they’re the product of ignited marsh gas:  most likely slowly leaking methane whose ignition is triggered by phosphene…  Some of their synonyms reveal what cultures thought about them[, such as:]  “corpse candles” suggest[ing] that they’re the souls of the departed…  The phenomenon is also inextricably linked with the leading astray of weary travellers into mires.  The light was taken to be a lantern or a torch carried by a mischeivous [sic] spirit … said to play tricks on people.

“Is there a new ‘Maverick’ in town?”

Is there a new Maverick in town?  (Or just another “nothing new under the sun“?)

*   *   *   *

I’m working on a new piece.  It’s based on an article I found in an old (November 12, 1998) issue of Rolling Stone.

Strangely enough, I found the old magazine at the bottom of a dumpster.  (Like the one seen at right.)  And that – you may come to agree – will turn out strangely appropriate.

I decided to keep the old Rolling Stone as a souvenir.  (Based on the cover photo.)  It featured a photo of Bill Clinton, looking rather befuddled, with the headline: Sex, Power & The Presidency: The Clinton Conversation.  (See also Monica Lewinsky.)  But inside – starting on page 92 – I found an article that seemed much more relevant to today’s political scene.

The article noted a presidential candidate who showed “a malignant understanding of how angry words, more than real ideas, can be deployed as weapons of power:”

He knows that repetition – invoking the same foul claims over and over – can transform outrageous lies into popular understandings.  He blithely changes his facts, positions and personae because he is making it up as he goes along and assumes no one will catch up with the contradictions.  Beneath the mask of conservative idealogue is an amoral pragmatist.

Sound familiar?  Or is this instead a matter of:  “Can you say prescient?”

And here’s another hint:  It wasn’t Donald Trump!

Anyway, the project-piece turned to be out a bit more complicated than I expected.  So – in the interim – I offer up this blog-post.  It’s both a look at the past and a teaser.

Nick Adams The Rebel.JPGOne thing some politicians bring up a lot today is “how great things used to be.”  I agree.  That was pretty much my point in Whatever happened to … Cassidy?  But I made the same point much earlier in “Johnny YUMA was a rebel.”

The title of that post was a take-off from an old Seinfeld bit:  “A rebel?  No.  Johnny Yuma was a rebel.  Eckman is a nut…”

Which also seems strangely appropriate to politics today.

But take a closer look at that blast from the past:

[Johnny] Yuma faced down intolerance, distrust, greed, confusion and revenge.  Despite his rebellious nature, Yuma respected law and order and despised abuse of power.  He stood up for the weak and downtrodden.  He traveled alone and was often forced to work alone because he was the only one willing to stand up to the bad guys. (E.A.)

Which – I suppose – brings up the subject of mavericks in general.

Originally the term referred to “Texas lawyer Samuel Maverick, who refused to brand his cattle. The surname Maverick is of Welsh origin, from Welsh mawr-rwyce, meaning ‘valiant hero.”

As an adjective the term applies to someone who shows “independence in thoughts or actions.”  As a noun the term means someone “who does not abide by rules.”  Either that, or someone who “creates or uses unconventional and/or controversial ideas or practices.”

Maverick - Title Card.jpgBut to those of us of a certain age, the more-familiar connection is to Maverick, the “Western television series with comedic overtones” that ran from September 22, 1957 to July 8, 1962, on ABC 

(The series starred “James Garner as Bret Maverick, an adroitly articulate cardsharp.”)  Which – I suppose – brings us back to the subject at hand.

So:  Is there indeed a “new Maverick in town?”  Or are today’s politics just another example of nothing new under the sun?  (For the original thought, see Ecclesiastes 1:9:  “What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”)

I’ll have the answer in the next post.  That post in turn will review more fully the Rolling Stone magazine I found at the bottom of a dumpster.  (Which I expect to turn out as a great metaphor.)  In the meantime enjoy this other blast from the past:

*   *   *   *

HOPALONG CASSIDY:

“Reserved … well spoken, with a sense of fair play,” and:

“His drink of choice being sarsaparilla.”

 

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Maverick (TV series) – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

Re: “Dumpster.”  Here the proper term would be “roll-off,” a specific type of dumpster.  “Roll-offs” – as I know them – are used in recycling.  (Converting “waste materials into reusable objects.”)  See also Dumpster diving … Dictionary.com.  Note that when I found the “last century” copy of Rolling Stone, I wasn’t “foraging in garbage.”  I was “stomping down” paper products in the paper-recycling roll-off.  Such stomping-down insures that the roll-off will contain more material to be recycled.  (In this case paper products, which in turn will Save More Trees.

The lower image is courtesy of The HOPALONG CASSIDY Poster Page, WILLIAM BOYD.

 

Whatever happened to … Cassidy?

Whatever Happened To Randolph Scott – shown at right didn’t happen to “Hopalong…”

(… as in “Cassidy.”)

*   *   *   *

 There was a cute young volunteer at the office the other day.  (At the local Keep America Beautiful, where I work off and on as a supervisor.)   Her name was Cassidy.

So when the Big Boss Man called her “hopalong,” I got a bit confused.

assumed that maybe – when she put her bag behind the office table –  she’d done a little hop. Or maybe she’d had a limp the day before.  But later – working at the recycle bins – it hit me.  So I asked her about the nickname and she said, “Oh yeah, that’s what a lot of old guys call me!

I then asked if she knew who “Hopalong Cassidy” was.  She didn’t, so I got out my trusty smartphone – or a reasonable facsimile – and showed her the Wikipedia article, complete with pictures.  (Including the early “rough around the edges” version, by Frank Schoonover, at right.  It’s Hopalong Takes Command, “for the 1905 story ‘Fight at Buckskin.'”)

But that little episode set in motion a whole set of trains of thought(Or more precisely, train-lines of free association.)  

Those train-lines included – but weren’t limited to – the question, “Whatever happened to the guy who played Hopalong Cassidy?”  For that matter, “Whatever happened to the guys who played other old-time cowboy heroes?”

Those queries also include – but aren’t limited to – whatever happened to Randolph Scott, Lash LaRueJohnny Mack Brown, or for that matter, Gene Autry.  For one short answer, check sites like 10 Best Old Cowboy Movies, or Famous Old Western Actors, both courtesy of the Screen Junkies website.  Or you could check 16 Best Western Movies | The Art of Manliness, for more on the ongoing appeal of those old-time cowboys.   That short answer?

Few figures in history have had as powerful an impact on American masculinity as the cowboy.  For over a century, the cowboy has — for better or for worse — been a standard of rugged individualism and stoic bravery for the American male.  While the mythologization of the American cowboy began all the way back in the 1880s … it wasn’t until the advent of twentieth century cinema that the cowboy cemented his place as an icon of manliness.

Gene Autry.JPGThen too, through the magic of hyperlinks, you can check for yourself what happened to Randolph Scott, Lash LaRueJohnny Mack Brown, or Gene Autry.  (As shown at right.)

But we were talking about “Hopalong Cassidy.”  (“Hoppy,” for short.)

Clarence E. Mulford created Hoppy in 1904.  And in the original version, he was portrayed as “rude, dangerous, and rough-talking.”

(Not uniike Bugs Bunny or Woody Woodpecker.  Bugs was originally “loud, zany with a goofy, guttural laugh” and a “hayseed voice.”  But in later versions he was shown as “cool, graceful, and controlled.”  Woody too went on to “evolve over the years, from an insane bird with an unusually garish design to a more refined looking and acting character.”)

Be that as it may, in the movie version played by William Boyd – starting in 1935 – Hopalong Cassidy too was transformed into a clean-cut hero.  (As shown in the bottom image.)

…white-haired Bill “Hopalong” Cassidy was usually clad strikingly in black (including his hat, an exception to the western film stereotype that only villains wore black hats).  He was reserved and well spoken, with a sense of fair play…  “Hoppy” and his white horse, Topper, usually traveled through the west with two companions – one young and trouble-prone with a weakness for damsels in distress, the other older, comically awkward and outspoken.

Gabby hayes.pngIncidentally, George Reeves – who later played Superman – was one of those who played the “young and trouble-prone” sidekick.  And among those who played the older man – “comically awkward and outspoken” – was Gabby Hayes.  (Seen at left, he played Hoppy’s original “grizzled sidekick, ‘Windy Halliday.'”)   But Hayes left because of a salary dispute…

Also incidentally, Hayes went on to a long career as a movie sidekick.  He made 44 movies with Roy Rogers, 15 with John Wayne – “some as straight or villainous characters” – seven with Gene Autry and six with Randolph Scott:

Hayes, in real life an intelligent, well groomed and articulate man, was cast as a grizzled codger who uttered phrases such as “consarn it,” “yer durn tootin’,” “dadgummit,” “durn persnickety female,” and “young whippersnapper.”

But once again we digress.  We were talking about William Boyd, and about Cassidy, “Hopalong” or otherwise.  Boyd was born in 1895 and died in 1972.  The Boyd link too noted that Hoppy’s character changed drastically from the book to film versions:  “from a hard-drinking, rough-living wrangler to its eventual incarnation as a cowboy hero who did not smoke, swear, or drink alcohol (his drink of choice being sarsaparilla)…”

Then too, Boyd made the then-radical transition from movies to television.  When Hollywood branded him a “washed-up cowboy star” in 1948, Boyd made a desperate gamble.  He bought the movie rights, which set the stage for his moving to the new – and untested – TV format:

Boyd’s desperate gamble paid off, making him the first national TV star and restoring his personal fortune…  [He licensed] merchandise, including such products as Hopalong Cassidy watches, trash cans, cups, dishes, Topps trading cards, a comic strip, comic books, cowboy outfits, home-movie digests of his Paramount releases via Castle Films, and a new Hopalong Cassidy radio show, which ran from 1948 to 1952.

Married five times, Boyd retired from acting in 1953.  He invested in real estate and “moved to Palm Desert, California.  He refused interviews and photographs in later years, preferring not to disillusion his millions of fans who remembered him as their screen idol.”

Which I suppose could be an object lesson for some of today’s actors and sports figures, who play past their prime.  But in closing, let’s get back to “Cassidy.”

The Partridge Family David Cassidy 1972.jpgCassidy – as a first name especially – comes from the Irish and means “clever.”  (Or “curly-haired,” from the Gaelic Caiside.)  It first appeared “among the 1,000 most-popular names for American girls in 1981,” and reached a peak of popularity in 1999.  (When it was “the 99th most popular name for American girls.”)

And Wikipedia noted that “Cassidy may have become a first name due to baby-boomer parents naming their children after ’70s teen idol David Cassidy.  (Seen at right, or perhaps “the Grateful Dead song, ‘Cassidy.'”)

So here’s a newsflash for all those coming-of-age young ladies named Cassidy.  And who were given that name by baby-boomer parents  (And – most likely – by baby-boomer mothers who had the hots – when young – for David Cassidy.)

 

Now you know why all those old guys call you “Hopalong…”

 

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of Randolph Scott – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The caption:  “With Jack Lambert in Abilene Town, 1946.”

Also re: Randolph Scott.  Like Boyd, Scott retired – at age 64 – a  wealthy man.  Through “shrewd investments throughout his life,” he eventually accumulated “a fortune worth a reputed $100 million, with holdings in real estate, gas, oil wells, and securities.”  But neither “Randolph” nor “Scott” became associated with a teen idol, who later gave a name to a generation of baby-boomers.

Note also Cassidy (as a surname).  That common Irish surname translates to “descendent of Caiside,” a family from “County Fermanagh.  The Caisides were originally a medical family, who were hereditary physicians to the Maguires.”  The Maguires are also from County Fermanagh, but that surname is uncommon, and said to descend from “Cormac mac Airt, monarch of Ireland about the middle of the third century.”

The lower image is courtesy of The HOPALONG CASSIDY Poster Page, WILLIAM BOYD.

“The Protestant Whore,” and other posts from last March…

Nell gwyn peter lely c 1675.jpg

“The Protestant Whore” – Nell Gwynn – in a post from a year ago…

*   *   *   *

Birdman poster.jpgI started this blog a year ago.  My first post came on March 12, 2015, with “Birdman,” the movie.  (Which included the poster-image at right.)  

That initial post explained how I signed up for the domain name, “Georgia Wasp,” while adding that there was a problem.

There’s a web-site, DatingPsychos.com, and one of its bulletins told of a crazy guy – “Alias ‘Georgia Wasp.’”  The site said this guy was a “pathological liar…   married many times and has cheated on each wife with multiple partners!”  So I had to start off with “a heads up:  I’m not that guy!!!

In that first post I also explained how I chose “THAT ‘WASP’ NAME.”

Moving right along, on March 18 I posted Jeremiah and the Parable of the Dirty Underwear.  For the Bible version, see  Jeremiah 13:1-11.  (An “interesting read.”)  It also cited a Harry Golden essay with a similar story.  As to that I wrote, “few people would use ‘schmooze’ and ‘death’ in the same sentence, let alone the same title, but Golden did.”

The next stop – metaphorically speaking – was Pink Floyd and “rigid schooling.”  That post compared modern musicians like Pink Floyd with old-time Bible prophets like Isaiah.

For example, in The Wall Pink Floyd took issue with – among other things – “an out-of-touch education system bent on producing compliant cogs in the societal wheel.”  In a similar way – according to guys like Isaac Asimov – the Bible prophets of 3,000 or more years ago were also considered the “radicals of their day.”  Isaiah for one took great issue with the kind of priesthood that was “primarily interested in the minutiae of ritual.”

Exodus: Of Gods and Kings, out on December 12 in U.S. theaters tells the story of Moses (played by Christian Bale, left) rising up against the Egyptian pharaoh Rhamses (played by Joel Edgerton, right)I posted On “Exodus: Gods and Kings” on March 28, 2015.  I noted the natural inclination to compare that 2014 movie with the 1956 DeMille film, The Ten Commandments.

That included one big difference:  In Ridley Scott‘s 2014 version – including the image at left, of Moses and “Pharaoh” – God was portrayed by “a bratty kid with an English accent.”  I also noted that “the Moses played by Christian Bale was more human, more like us today and therefore more believable.”  I ended that post with two points:

First:  To the icons that we choose to throw our cares and responsibilities on – like Moses – we followers are pretty much a pain in the neck…  Second:  Exodus: Gods and Kings is a pretty good movie and well worth seeing, if only in the interest of broadening your horizons.

And finally, I closed out the month of March 2015 with “When adultery was proof of ‘loyalty.”

Looking back – a year later – I think I may have been a bit prescient.  Harry’s essay on “when adultery was proof of loyalty” was set during the time of the Commonwealth of England.  That came after the Execution of Charles I, in 1649.  Basically a bunch of radical conservatives took over the government, shook things up, and made every Englishman’s life miserable.

Which naturally gave rise to a whole lot of hypocrisy:

One may easily see how desire for office or promotion led to hypocrisy.  If sour looks, upturned eyes, nasal twang, speech garnished with Old Testament texts, were means to favor, there were others who could assume them besides those naturally afflicted with such habits.

At the time I asked, “Does any of this sound familiar?”  In closing I noted one of Harry Golden’s main points in his essay, that history repeats itself in cycles.  Which led to the question:

“Which cycle are we in now??”

 

Joseph N. Welch (at left) tries to figure a way to escape McCarthyism

 

The upper image is courtesy of the article Nell Gwyn, included in Charles II of England – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.   The full caption reads:  “Nell Gwynn was one of the first English actresses and a mistress of King Charles II of England.”

The lower image is courtesy of McCarthyism – Wikipedia.  See also Joseph Nye Welch – shown in the lower image at left – as “head counsel for the United States Army while it was under investigation by Joseph McCarthy’s Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations for Communist activities.”  See also – re: history repeating in cycles – Historic recurrence – Wikipedia.

On that OTHER “Teflon Don”

Jumbo poster 1.jpg

A poster celebrating that other “Greatest Showman on Earth” – circa 1882…

*   *   *   *

Just a couple thoughts on the 2016 U.S. Presidential Race.

First of all, if “The Donald” – shown at right in 1988 – does manage to get elected, he may well be the first president in American history to get both impeached and convicted.

And here’s a BTW:  So far we’ve only had two presidents impeached – Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton – but neither man ended up getting actually convicted by the U.S. Senate.

(And that statement about “impeached and convicted” is judging by the GOP’s late[st] push to stop Trump.   “Which is being interpreted:”  If Trump does turn out to be as bad as many people expect – on both sides of the aisle – it seems likely that Congressional Republicans would gladly join any Democratic effort to impeach and convict him, if only to secure their own future employment…)

The other observation:  It wouldn’t surprise me a bit if Donald Trump is really trying to help Hillary get elected.  In other words, it wouldn’t surprise me a bit to learn that Master Showman Donald Trump is actually playing those far-right conservatives like a piano.

Who knows?  He may be trying to get some kind of political payback from Hillary.  Or he may have felt it more advisable to run for president as a Republican rather than a Democrat. (How would “two New York Liberals” have played out at the Democratic convention?)  Or maybe he just wants to shake things up, to “show that he can.”  But whatever his true intentions, you can be sure he’s got something up his sleeve.  (There’s “more here than meets the eye.”)

But we’re digressing.  The title of this post refers to “that otherTeflon Don.'”

The thing is, I originally planned to do a post comparing Donald Trump to P. T. Barnum – at left – known for an earlier Greatest Show on Earth.  But surprisingly, I found a number of distinct differences between the two men.  (One of them: Barnum turned out to be an effective elected official.)

But first, here’s something of an experiment.  I Googled the phrase “donald trump fraud” and got 3,120,000 results.  I Googled the phrase “donald trump hoax” and got 1,157,000 results.  On the other hand, I Googled “donald trump huckster” and got a mere 32,400 results.

The point being that somewhere along the line, my recent free association on Donald Trump ultimately led me to that other Great American Showman, P. T. Barnum.

One surprising thing I learned about Barnum:  He served 60 days in prison when he was 19 years old.  He was publishing the weekly Herald of Freedom in Danbury, Connecticut.  In the process he managed to upset “some very powerful people,” and got convicted of libel:

Traumatic though this spell in prison must have been …  Barnum found that far from damaging his career the conviction increased both his notoriety and his popularity…  He became a folk hero for some and upon his release from prison he was met by a band and a horse-drawn carriage organised by his supporters for a parade back to town.

Which might have led to Barnum being labeled “Teflon P.T.”  However, that doesn’t have the same nice ring to it as “Teflon Don.”  (And besides, Teflon hadn’t been discovered yet…)

Then too, in what might be called a similarity between the two men, Barnum (1810-1891) was known for an alleged comment, “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

But that seems to be like many another American myth, to wit: “greatly exaggerated:”

“There’s a sucker born every minute” is a phrase most likely spoken by David Hannum, in criticism of both P. T. Barnum, an American showman of the mid 19th century, and his customers.   The phrase is often credited to Barnum himself.  It means “People are foolish, and will always be fools.”

Wikipedia went on to indicate that we simply don’t know who first coined the phrase.  (But it did add that in the “1930 John Dos Passos novel The 42nd Parallel, the quotation is attributed to Mark Twain.”)  On the other hand, his biographer said Barnum “was just not the type to disparage his patrons.”  For that matter, Barnum thought his audiences should get their money’s worth:

Often referred to as the “Prince of Humbugs” [as shown at right] Barnum saw nothing wrong in entertainers or vendors using hype (or “humbug,” as he termed it) in promotional material, as long as the public was getting value for money.  However, he was contemptuous of those who made money through fraudulent deceptions, especially the spiritualist mediums [of] his day…

Now, about his serving as an “effective elected official.”

First of all, Barnum started out by promoting “hoaxes and human curiosities such as the Feejee mermaid and General Tom Thumb.”  But that didn’t pan out, and after “economic reversals due to bad investments in the 1850s, and years of litigation and public humiliation, he used a lecture tour, mostly as a temperance speaker, to emerge from debt.”  (Is is possible that, “The Donald” is also just trying to work himself out of debt?)  The point is that from there:

Barnum served two terms in the Connecticut legislature in 1865 as a Republican.  [On the issue of slavery] and African-American suffrage, Barnum spoke before the legislature and said, “A human soul, ‘that God has created and Christ died for,’ is not to be trifled with. It may tenant the body of a Chinaman, a Turk, an Arab or a Hottentot – it is still an immortal spirit.”

Which no doubt surprised a number of people.

From there he was elected as Mayor of Bridgeport, CT in 1875.  He “worked to improve the water supply, bring gas lighting to streets, and enforce liquor and prostitution laws.  Barnum was instrumental in starting Bridgeport Hospital, founded in 1878, and was its first president.

Which no doubt surprised even more peope.

In another strange twist, before the Civil War Barnum produced blackface minstrel shows, but with a twist:  His “minstrel shows often used double-edged humor.”

Then too, in 1853 he promoted a “politically watered-down stage version of Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”

But in Barnum’s version, the play, had “a happy ending, with Tom and other slaves freed.”  And finally, another similarity:  Both men started out as Democrats.  In Barnum’s case, his “opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act which supported slavery, of 1854 led him to leave the Democratic Party.”

And so, in joining the “new anti slavery Republican Party,” Barnum had “evolved from a man of common stereotypes of the 1840s to a leader for emancipation by the Civil War.”

The question is:  In light of Donald Trump’s often-shifting political positions, will he eventually be seen as an “effective elected official,” a funhouse showman, or a Simon Legree?

 

Simon Legree hunting fugitive slaves in “UTC.”

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The upper image is courtesy of the Jumbo link within P. T. Barnum – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. The caption:  “Jumbo and his keeper Matthew Scott (Circus poster, ca. 1882).”  For further information on Barnum, see P.T. Barnum, Human Freaks, and the American Museum, and/or P T Barnum Facts, information, pictures | Encyclopedia.com.

Re: To play someone like a piano.  The cited reference is actually to playing someone like a fiddle – Wiktionary, meaning to ” manipulate (a person) skillfully.” 

Re: Free association.  See also Free association (psychology) – Wikipedia.

The lower image is courtesy of Wikipedia’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin.”  The caption:  “Simon Legree on the cover of the comic book adaptation of Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Classic Comics No. 15, November 1943 issue).”  And a note on Barnum’s “happy ending.”  In the original version Uncle Tom died, a victim of Simon Legree.  In turn, he is portrayed as “the perfect Christian.”  That is, at the end of the novel the character George Shelby returns to his Kentucky farm and frees all his slaves.  In doing so he “tells them to remember Tom’s sacrifice and his belief in the true meaning of Christianity.”

Re: Trump’s political positions:  “On specific policy, Trump has been described as a moderate Republican.  His politics have been described as populistnativist, protectionist and authoritarian by a variety of sources.”  A few examples:  Trump has said he wants to “lower taxes for middle and working-class people, and increase taxes on wealthy private equity and hedge fund managers.”  He has supported “improving America’s infrastructure,” even though on the federal level – he has said – “this is going to be an expensive investment, no question about that.”  He started out pro-choice but now describes himself as pro-life.  He supports “states’ rights to legalize and regulate cannabis.”

One final note:  The “Simon Legree” comparison is based in large part on Trump’s emphasis on Mexico sending “its people” into the U.S., mostly “criminals, drug dealers, rapists, etc.,” while “some, I assume, are good people.”   He has said that on “Day 1 of my presidency, illegal immigrants are getting out and getting out fast,” and that he would build a wall similar to the Israeli West Bank barrier.  Finally, “Trump opposes birthright citizenship based solely on birth within the United States, arguing that it should not be protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Remember “transcendent” meditation?

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi with the Beatles in India” – in happier times…

 

Welcome to the “Georgia Wasp…”

This blog is modeled on the Carolina Israelite.  Harry Golden did up that old-time personal newspaper.  And for that he was considered a “voice of sanity amid the braying of jackals.”

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:

Remember Transcendental Meditation?  In case you missed it, the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi started teaching this method of personal development in 1958.

Prep examples of MadrasIronically, “TM” was said to have launched in Madras, India.  (Now called Chennai.)

In less than a decade after 1958, Madras shirts, shorts and jackets – like those at left – became all the rage.  (“All the rage” for middle school, high school and even college “boys” in the 1960s.)  Getting back to TM:  It also got “more popular in the 1960s and 1970s, as the Maharishi shifted to a more technical presentation and his meditation technique was practiced by celebrities.”

Celebrities like the The Beatles, shown in the top-of-the-page picture

The kicker?  You had to pay through the nose.  (At one point the price for “working folk” was pretty much a full week’s salary.)  For that you got instructed in the technique itself, plus you got your own “personal Sanskrit mantra.”  (Note that a mantra is a word or phrase – said to be of “spiritual power – that you repeat over and over again, for up to 20 minutes.)

One of the goals – of “regular” meditation anyway – is to “bind the mind staff in place.”

File:Picswiss UR-28-18.jpgThat – in a way – brings up that the Maharishi – hereinafter “Mahesh” – did quite well as a result of his teaching.  (The photo at right shows one of his “headquarters;” the one in Seelisberg, Switzerland.)

 On the other hand:  It turns out you could get pretty much the same thing from Lawrence LeShan‘s 1974 book, How to Meditate: A Guide to Self-Discovery.  But of course, that would mean you had to do some actual work, to learn the self-discipline on your own.

(An observation that seems to be “redundant redundant…”)

But we digress!  The point is:  LeShan’s How to Meditate was “one of the first practical guides to meditation.”  And it was a whole lot cheaper than TM.  (My first copy cost $1.95.)

And incidentally, LeShan noted that “anyone who gives (or sells) you a mantra designed just for you … is pulling your leg.”  On the other hand, I remember reading somewhere that Mahesh charged Americans so much – for example – because they don’t value “free stuff.”  They – we – arguably figure that if we don’t pay a high price for something, it must not be worth much.

Which does make a certain amount of sense.  (And a telling comment on the American psyche.)

Be that as it may

We mentioned the Beatles being “converted” to Transcendental Meditation.  As Mikal Gilmore noted, George Harrison’s wife Pattie introduced him to Mahesh in 1967.  Harrison was impressed enough to persuade the other Beatles to “attend a sabbatical in Bangor, Wales.”

Later – in 1968 – the group went to Rishikesh, India, for a longer course.  However:

[T]heir relationship with the teacher soured when they heard rumors that he had attempted unwelcome sexual advances on a female devotee.  Lennon and Harrison confronted the yogi, pronounced their disdain and then left him, despite his pleadings that they reconsider…

On a related note, pretty much the same thing seems to have happened to Rajneesh – born Chandra Mohan Jain – also known as “Osho.”

Osho.jpgOSHO” (1931-1990) was yet another “Indian mystic, guru, and spiritual teacher who garnered an international following.”  In the fullness of time he got nicknamed “the sex guru.”  (But others said he just had “straightforward attitudes about sex.”)  

All of which may prove no more than that men are scum.

(At least from a female view.)

But again we digress.  Getting back to Mahesh and the Beatles, see Maharishi Mahesh Yogi | The Beatles Bible.  As to the group confronting Mahesh about the allegation, Lennon said he had to do the “dirty work … as usual.”  When he said they were leaving, Mahesh ostensibly said, “‘Why?’  Hee-hee, all that shit.  And I said, ‘Well if you’re so cosmic, you’ll know why.'”

The article noted as well that despite “the harshness of Lennon’s words about Maharishi, McCartney and Harrison, in particular, remained believers in the power of meditation.”

Which could be another way of saying that the underlying discipline itself was good and valid. (Even if one greedy individual did use it for his own personal gain.)

And the article noted a positive result:  The song “Sexy Sadie,” which Lennon originally wanted to title “Maharishi.”  But again, none of that means the underlying discipline is worthless.  It simply means that – at worst – one or more unscrupulous, misguided or overzealous individuals used a valid spiritual discipline for person gain.

Henny Youngman.jpgWhich is “nothing new under the sun.”  Take martial arts…  Please!

Many people these days come to the martial arts as if to a sport or, worse, as if seeking an effective instrument of aggression and domination.  And, unhappily, there are studios that cater to this clientele.  Violent and exploitative martial arts movies contribute to the corruption…  (E.A.)

And incidentally, that Henny Youngman one-liner – “Take my wife, please!” – is based on a fundamental principle of both martial arts and magic.  (The principle of dislocation.)

But for a third time, we digress…

Plain old meditation – the kind you don’t pay an arm and a leg for – is a “practice where an individual trains the mind or induces a mode of consciousness.”  It’s done for any number of reasons, including to “promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force (qi, ki, prana, etc.) and develop compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.”

Among the benefits of meditation:  better focus, less anxiety, more creativity, more compassion, better memory, less stress and “more gray matter.”   Or as LeShan said, the real goal is “to help you grow and develop as a total human being.”

The kicker?  You actually have to put in a lot of work.  Or as LeShan said, in its ideal form the “long hard practice” of true meditation “disciplines and strengthens the personality.”  See also Discipline – Wikipedia, with an image captioned:  “To think good thoughts requires effort. This is one of the things that discipline – training – is about.”

All of which may be another way of saying that – when it comes to personal development (a heavy-duty industry in this country) – some people prefer that kind of thing pre-digested:

 

*   *   *   *

The upper image is courtesy of www.vintag.es/2013/06/maharishi-mahesh-yogi-with-beatles.  

*   *   *   *

Re:  The Carolina Israelite.  Harry Golden‘s personal newspaper, which he wrote and published back in the 1940s through the 60s.  Harry was a “cigar-smoking, bourbon-loving raconteur.”  (Which is another way of saying he told good stories.)  That also means if he was around today, the “Israelite would be done as a blog.”  (For more on the blog-name connection, see “Wasp” and/or The blog.)  But what made Harry special was his positive outlook on life.  He got older but didn’t turn sour, as so many seem to do today.  He still got a kick out of life.

*   *   *   *

Note that personal development has “developed” into an industry, with “several business relationship formats of operating.”

The “Madras” image is courtesy of  Madras Guide – How the Shirt, Pants & Jackets Became Popular.

References to LeShan‘s book, How to Meditate, are from the 1975 Bantam Books edition.  The “bind the mind staff” quote is from page 55.  (Along with a note that “we” should “bind ourselves gently and with humor and compassion at our own lack of discipline.”)

On that note too, see page 14, featuring a quote from Teresa of Ávila, describing the mind of man – in the attempt to meditate for example – as an “unbroken horse that would go anywhere except where you wanted it to.”

The quote about “anyone who gives (or sells) you a mantra” is from page 67.

The “Switzerland headquartersphoto is courtesy of Transcendental Meditation – Wikipedia.

Re:  The high price of TM.  For another view, see Why does the Transcendental Meditation course cost so much?  One theory has it that Mahesh wanted TM to be “primarily taught to the wealthy leaders of society in order to enact maximum change in society,” and further that he “made a public address to that effect in the mid 1990’s and immediately T.M centers worldwide raised their prices.”

Re: Mikal Gilmore.  Gilmore – a writer for Rolling Stone magazine – described Mahesh and the Beatles in his 2009 book, Stories Done: Writings on the 1960s and Its Discontents, at pages 124, 156, and 164-65 in the 2009 Free Press paperback edition.

As to the Beatles and Mahesh, Gilmore noted that later in their lives, “Harrison and McCartney reconciled with Maharishi, though Lennon never did.”  (124)

The Henny Youngman image is courtesy of Wikipedia.  His classic one-liner – “Take my wife… please  – relied on dislocation.  That principle is used in comedy, and also in magic and the martial arts in general. See, Shinogi – Budotheory.ca, which mentioned three types of dislocation: positional, temporal, and functional.  See also Magic (illusion) – Wikipedia.  Finally, see The Internet Classics Archive | The Art of War by Sun Tzu, which noted the Chinese philosopher who said, “The fundamental principle of the Art of War is deception.”  (In other words, dislocating an opponent.)

So anyway, in the classic one-liner – literally “a century ago” – the audience was led to expect Youngman to say “for example” when he began.  (As in, “Take my wife… for example.”)  But instead of saying that, Youngman dislocated his audience with, “Take my wife…  Please!

The quote on martial arts as used for “aggression and domination” is from Taisen Deshimaru’s The Zen Way to Martial Arts, translated by Nancy Amphoux, Arkana Books (1991), at page 3.

Re: “Benefits of meditation:”  The actual article-title is What Happens to the Brain When You Meditate (And How it Benefits You.  As to “more gray matter,” the article said that meditation has been shown “to diminish age-related effects on gray matter and reduce the decline of our cognitive functioning.

Other benefits of meditation came from LeShan‘s How to Meditate, in the 1975 Bantam Books edition.  (The quote “develop as a total human being” is from page 38.)  LeShan pointed out that true meditation is much like physical exercise.  Both require “repeated hard work,” most of it “basically pretty silly” in appearance.  “What could be more foolish than to repeatedly lift twenty pounds of lead up and down?”  But both forms of exercise aim for “the effect on the person doing it.”  (Page 3.)

LeShan cited two main effects.  The first is greater personal efficiency in everyday life.  The second is “the comprehension of a different view of reality than the one we ordinarily use.”  (Pages 6-7.)  Other effects?  The capacity to transcend the painful, negative aspects of life, and develop a serene “inner peace.”  (Id.)  He said it’s characteristic of a practiced meditator to live with joy and love; “a zest, a fervor and gusto in life.”  And one final effect – for the practiced meditator – “a very deep sense of the union of himself and the All.” (Page 7)

The quote about “long hard practice” is from page 38.

The lower image is courtesy of mydailyminefield.com/2012/03/20/spring-has-sprung.  Another good image is at animalstime.com/what-feed-baby-bird-what-feed-baby-birds, along with good advice on “What To Feed A Baby Bird [Who] Fell Out Of A Nest.”

I originally planned to use the image below, an illustrated quote from “that great Philosopher, Charlie Chan.”  But then I had a brainstorm, figuring an image like that of baby birds – eager mouths wide open – would get the point across better.  

“So anyway,” the image below is courtesy of izquotes.com/quote/217824.  See also Charlie Chan (Wikipedia).  The quote is said to have come from Charlie Chan at the Circus, and in the form given.  See Charlie Chan – Wikiquote and Reel Life Wisdom – The Top 10 Wisest Quotes from Charlie Chan.  But I could have sworn that the actual quote was, “Mind like parachute;  work best when open.”

 

A final note:  This post is a substantially altered update of a post originally published as On the Bible as “transcendent” meditation, at DOR Scribe – Expand your horizons