“Why for You Bury Me in the Cold, Cold Ground”

The world, it seems, is trying to get back to what it used to be.

It won’t, of course, never does. Sometimes that’s good. Sometimes that’s bad. We just don’t seem to have the collective smarts to know which.

So i try to just roll with it. And my world just got a little bit better.

For one, golf courses are opening in the Southwest corner. It is interesting to watch as even though there are guidelines, it depends on who is reading those guidelines as to how it plays out on each course. Sort of stupid, like just about everything else going on these days.

Don’t care. i played with the Toennies and Maureen Wednesday and i played  FMG (that’s Friday Morning Golf which has been in existence since 1991) today. Rod Stark, Marty Linville, and Pete Toennies  wore ourselves out having fun on a course we used to play consistently along with Sea ‘n Air at North Island, and Admiral Baker in Mission Valley. But the Navy is more cautious or silly or afraid or smarter or more careful than the Marines, so those other courses remain closed.

Don’t care. i’m playing golf, out, safe, letting go.

And then last night, i went to heaven. i mean, it had to be heaven. i was there.

It had been another day of hunkering down, working on eight weeks. To be honest, i think most of us would do well with hunkering down without a cause or edict to require it or  some very inconsistent federal, state, local, and imbecile rules for going about it.

Why?

Well, the three of us ran out of things we could communially watch on the infernal machine that has evolved from that tiny console with the black and white screen with one channel in the early fifties into…oh lord, i don’t need to go there. Maureen and Sarah are much, much more into television than i. They love movies, all kinds. They enjoy series, all kinds. i certainly am the biggest problem because, unless it’s something that fits into a very small niche of my past, i’m blowing it off.

Yesterday about lunch time, Sarah discovered a streaming service and was watching a very old, ORIGINAL Looney Tunes cartoon with Elmer Fudd. i was engrossed. i had been trying to find some original cartoons for about forever but had given up. Sarah, far more capable in dealing with streaming, the web (Sorry, Jack Webb, not yours), or anything with more than an off and on switch than i had figured it out. So i asked about more original Looney Tunes. Maybe after supper we decided.

Then i went for an afternoon run/walk after a couple of “virtual” doctor’s appointments or check-ups, the curse of old age, and the run/walk was wimpy by old standards but lord, does it make me feel good. My doc pretty much directed me to stop the running part because i’m old and i could break and the ensuing events likely would be ugly. Then, i looked around and realized there are very few guys, if any within ten years of my age, who could still run. So i, in my usual flow of common sense, said the hell with it and now am running (ha, ha) in a fartlek a little more than half of a three-plus mile route three to five days a week.

Oh, it felt painfully good, even more than the old days. That running thing. And it was in glorious Southwest corner weather, mysteriously returned to us after a strange wet spring.

i cooled off, showered. Maureen did one of her incredible pasta dishes with an equally incredible salad as usual, and we watched the weather and news (what we could stand of the local variety) while we ate. We discussed our options and i asked if Sarah could find some more original Looney Tunes on our streaming service. It  was tough but she did.

We watched about four of those available.  Okay. i mean they had Mel Blanc as the voice of about a quintuplezillion characters. They were fun. i laughed. But i should have laughed after being in heaven.

You see, the first cartoon we watched was one of the best ever. Ever. i almost cried with laughter thinking about how many of the politically correct, left and right wing purists would recoil in horror at all of the insults, disrespect, humiliation, agenda confronting thoughts and reactions they would have. Not to mention the cruelty, oh the cruelty and violence displayed for those innocent children, of which i confess, was never one.

The first cartoon we watched?  Amazon’s “Warner Brothers’ Cartoon Classics, Bugs Bunny, Volume Three, Episode 19.”

Heaven. It could be my hyper imagination, but i was carried back to pre-teen years. It had to have been watched first with my father. Perhaps on our small television. i don’t know. But i do know he and i watched it the first time together. My mother may have been with us. My brother and sister may have been with us. But that old man and i watched it together. Don’t care if the memory serves me correctly or not. It serves me well and that’s my story and i’m sticking to it.

Bugs Bunny and the Tasmanian Devil. Oh, we laughed. Still do. Bugs is at his best. The Tasmanian Devil is…well, he’s “Taz.” So the Tasmanian Devil dervishes up to Bugs and is tricked into being buried, but he dervishes out of the predicament and asks Bugs, “Why for you bury me in the cold, cold, ground?” and that folks, remains a constant saying of mine.

Then Bugs calls the Tasmania airlines, the one i flew to Hobart, i’m thinking, in 1979, and zoom, a Tasmanian Devilette shows up in her bridal outfit. Oh, so good.

They just don’t, truly don’t make ’em like that anymore. And there are folks nowadays who would find them offensive. And that is doubly sad.

But not me. About fifteen years ago when i was back home, i went into an Auto Parts store for something i don’t remember. There in a display case were two matching floor mats with the Tasmanian Devil with a fishing rod. “Perfect,” i thought. i bought them for my father to put in his Ford Escape (and boy, that has a couple of great stories with it). He loved it. When he sold the Escape to my daughter Blythe and her  husband Jason because my mother had difficulty navigating the step up into the cab, he transferred Taz, both of him, to his Buick.

When Daddy passed, i gathered up the floor mats, and they have been in my car ever since.

Taz. Bugs. Heaven.

So i’m okay with all of this going down. Family. Golf. Looney Tunes. Perfect.

That’s All, Folks.

Whiner

i am upset.

No, i am offended.

i’ve been thinking about all the folks who get their noses tweaked when someone calls them by a name, either individually or as a group, which they find offensive. Some even get violent about it. So i got to thinking about all the names i’ve been called either as an individual or totally in error as a member of a group. i decided i should do something about it as you might not know what offends me as i often find out i don’t know when i call a group or a person something i thought was respectful and with admiration and they get all pissed off.

So here’s my list of what offends me if you call me out with that name (in no particular order):

Shorty, dumbbell, whitey, shithead, paleface, midget, honky, redneck, goober, townboy, southerner, yankee, Texan, Californian, mister, pussy, Alice, Mary, wimp, junior jock, gob, tar, curmudgeon, asshole, sailor boy, fathead, goofy, donkey, Commodore, Blue Raider,  WASP, Christian, atheist, agnostic, butthead, caucasian, white (as in filling out forms), pinko, conservative, contrarian, rube,  whiner, sissy, hick, macho, man, gentleman, racist, and several more i can’t think of right now (including some dumb cartoon bear who wears a porkpie hat when i don my golf rain hat), but i’m going to let you know if you call me by those i can’t remember now.

So please refrain from calling me the above names and i will attempt to not call  you by things you find offensive or belittling even though i call you whatever that is thinking it is showing respect.

Oh, wait. There is only one of those that really bothers me: racist.

Many of the others i’ve deserved at times. Many of them are accurate descriptions at times.

And some of them: junior jock, goober, townboy, asshole, curmudgeon (after all, my golfing buddies take bride in those last two) i boast about.

And finally, 118 years ago, Owen Wister, in his novel, The Virginian, considered by many as the first truly western novel, had his hero say, “Smile when you say that, partner.”

So when you call me any of those names, smile when you say that, partner, and i’ll be okay with it.

Murphy’s Law

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Grogan’s Law of Supervision: The primary responsibility of a supervisor is to discover what his employees are doing…and stop them.

Goofy guy’s observation concerning Grogan’s Law of Supervision: There are long list of reasons why this law should be observed and a long list of reasons why this law should not be observed.

Duped Again

Oh, it was a long time ago. Several lives ago by my time. It was a lovely time usually forgotten amongst the myriad of good and bad of what followed.

Summer, 1969. John and Susan Johnson will have to give you the exact date of their wedding. i was there. Watertown, New York. About as far north as you can get and still be in the U. S. of A. After all, Yanch was not just a fraternity brother but a real friend for whom i had gained the utmost respect. i had come up from Norfolk on leave to attend their wedding but pretty much in a cloud: a one-year wonder Lieutenant Junior Grade who had just found out i was going to another world, unsure of exactly what that world would be. One afternoon, the three of us were riding around and Susan asked me what my plans were.

i did not hesitate. My goal was be a sports writer, a sports editor, and a columnist like my hero, Fred Russell of The Nashville Banner.  Yanch glanced back at me in the backseat and said the sports editor of the paper his father owned and at which he, Yanch, had begun work, The Watertown Daily Times’ sports editor would be retiring about the time i would be completing my three years of active duty. He suggested i might come up there and become their sports editor. i nodded my approval of the idea, thanked him for the suggestion, and could not think beyond the next tour, unknown except i was headed for the Pacific Ocean.

About half-way through being the executive officer of MSTS Transport Unit One aboard a USNS ship carrying Republic of Korea troops to and from Vietnam, i started thinking about what was next. i wrote Yanch if the offer was still a possibility, i was very interested.

Voila! About thirty months later, there i was. But i was making decisions about life, my family’s security. It would not end as i envisioned. None of it. But those are other stories, some too oft told.

At that time, i was on a roll. We were the first section of the paper to go “cold type” on a newspaper that was on the cutting edge of the new technology. Or rather, my national sports news, which came over by wire, i put on the first page of the sports section in cold type with the second page local news with “hot type,” then whatever space was available back with the national wire news in cold type — the sports pages had averaged a little less than a full page of copy for each addition before the change; after the change, i was averaging three to four pages of copy each day: that was a lot of work, but fun.

Even more fun was the hot type and oh so much more personally involved. i would either write or create the copy (and at the beginning of my being the sports editor, nearly all my copy), layout the page on a miniature mock-up, write the headlines, send the copy, the layout plan, and the headlines back to the linotype machines, which would click-clack spit out the little lines of lead. Then i would go back to the makeup tables where the experts stood by the metal frames for the molds, and we would place the galleys of type in their place from my layout model. When they didn’t fit, we would begin to throw out lines of linotype from the bottom, a good reason to write the copy from the most important at the beginning and the least important at the end.

And there was a sense of closeness, of identification with creating the copy. i used (gasp!) a typewriter. i did not take typewriting class at Castle Heights or anywhere else. You see, i had a magnificent typist of the 80-word per minute, no error variety at my house. She taught me the correct method, not the finger hunt and peck method of most sports writers. i called her “Mother.” So i would sit at my desk at 5:30 in the morning, my cup of black coffee, my cigarette smoldering the ashtray to the right on my desktop, and with my notes on my left and clack away. It was not gentle and when i hit the return bar, it was almost violent, wham, followed again by the click, click, click. Then i would pull the copy out of the roller with a flourish, label the top with my editing, number one or two soft lead editing pencil and commence to correct the errors in my copy. For you see although i had become a pretty fast typist, i never acquired the errorless mystique of my mother.

It was a process i loved. It’s gone. But to be honest a great deal of frustration went with it and a lot more efficiency came with this damnable machine in front of me now.

Yesterday while looking for some notes to include in my book, a faded three-column width piece of  newspaper fell out of a folder. Checking it out, i liked how i had turned three normal columns into a three-column box for my article. You see, when i became the sports editor, i announced i would not write a daily column as had my predecessor, Jack Case, the guy who gave Raymond Robinson his nickname of “Sugar Ray,” had done for uncountable years and had just about every other sports editor in the world up until then. i didn’t want to write just to write but wanted to write opinion columns or articles of special note when they happened.

This column was one of them. It appeared in The Watertown Daily Times Friday, May 26, 1972 in the upper left hand corner of the second page in the sports section, the hot-type page. Re-reading it, i realized one reason i saved it separately from the many other pages of newspapers i have saved over the years. i thought it was one of my  best. Still do.

 

an

And i’m thinking Jack Case, JB Leftwich, Fred Russell, and Bill Roberts are smiling.

Deja Vu All Over Again

As Yogi Berra once sagely said, i just had “Déjà vu” all over again.”

A lovely lady from my hometown, Sara Yahola, had made me feel great me by telling she was enjoying reading the poems in my book of poetry, A Pocket of Resistance: Selected Poems. She added a friend of hers had especially enjoyed “Git,” and “The Rain.”

Being vain when it comes to my writing, i took down my copy and read those two poems and a couple of more when i ran upon “Feelings.” There was some strange rumblings in my soul as it sounded recently familiar. i realized it had some similar feelings to “a curse upon me,” which i posted yesterday (i think it was yesterday: old age got me again).

i wrote this one in 1969, when i was confused even more so than now.  Divorced after a short marriage, half-way through my three-year Navy commitment, and looking for love, not yet in all the wrong places which i would get to later in life, and generally out to have a good time.

But i was writing. i can’t remember when i wasn’t writing. i probably understood why more then than now. Then, i was going to finish my obligation, become a sports writer, become famous, and write the great American novel, or something. But i was recording my emotions, my thoughts, not really thinking about any of it getting published. Now, i write and hope folks will read what i write, and as Dave Carey once noted about his motivational speeches, take from my writing what works for them.

i would like to remember i wrote this on a day in May when i had spent the night at Hite McLean’s apartment just outside Newport, Rhode Island. Hite was in JAG school. i was the ASW officer on the USS Hawkins (DD-873). His apartment was on the coast above a cliff to the sea actually. That night, Hite and i had gone out to Mac’s Clam Shack on Thames and indulged in quahogs and a pitcher of beer. We came back to his place, talked over some Jack Daniels until late, and i, unusually wise for that stage of my life, decided to sleep on his couch. The next morning, it was New England spring raw when i walked out to the edge of the cliff, sat down with my legs hanging over the side and watched the foam of white waves crash against the craggy coast line while a light cold rain driven by the Atlantic wind drenched my face.

i remember thinking it was beautiful, perfect. A seacoast the way a seacoast should be. Thomas Hardy stuff.

i know that event happened. But as i wrote that memory i realized that wasn’t when i wrote the poem. It was while i was at OCS, 1968, right before i was commissioned. It was at Hurley’s, the rather off the beaten path, rhythm and blues and jazz club in the alley across from the tennis hall of fame where this wonderful jazz group played while an incredible voiced lady would sing “My Satin Doll” during a Sunday afternoon jam and i would ask again and again but this was not Sunday afternoon but Saturday night when the Fall River girls would arrive in large numbers to catch an officer candidate, which i later learned was called “hog call,” and later, was the inspiration for the movie “An Officer and a Gentleman” (alright, you aviators, it might have been a combination of Newport and Pensacola, and i avoided them most of the time by sitting at the bar asking again if they could play “My Satin Doll” while i nursed a Manhattan and wrote things on a scratch piece of paper. And i saved this one (Oh yeh, i smoked then. Chesterfield Kings. Unfiltered). As Bob Hope and Shirley Ross famously sang: “Thanks for the Memories.”

Feelings

Snow is falling.
A quiet has fallen on the world.
Everyone wants to sit by the fire,

Feel its warmth.
But what it’s like to stand out in the cold,
feel the wind biting,
biting into the cheeks?

It hurts.

But the hurt is satisfying.

The room is big and empty;

There is nothing here
but
me and my emptiness;
There are people dancing to the loud music.
There are people laughing at the jokes that are not funny;
but
I can’t laugh because I know something.
Something?
The something is
I don’t know;
No one knows.

I can appreciate
A warm person,
The beauty of a snowfall,
The warmth of a fire,
A sky full of stars after a snow fall,
A good cigarette.
Let’s cry.

It’s What I Make of It

My “Writer’s Almanac” email today, noted Charles Dickens published his first part of the serialized A Tale of Two Cities on this date in 1859 in Dickens’ weekly journal, All the Year Round.

The article detailed the history of the journal’s publication, added some interesting information and ended with the first paragraph of that novel, one i believe to be, an incredible work:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way …”

i have used this quote several times but confess i stole it from Dave Carey. Dave, a rather incredible person himself, used the quote in the leadership seminar he and i facilitated together in 1985 when he was discussing our choices on how to view our world and our situation.

i would bet money…no, i need to ask Dave if that was behind the title of his inspirational book, The Ways We Choose: Lessons For LIfe From a POW’s Experience.

Then, i considered this is a perfect quote for what we are experiencing with this pandemic (Have you ever thought “pandemic” could mean a bad skillet? No? Just wondering).

It certainly is the worst of what many, if not most of us have experienced. It could also be a time for restructuring our personal goals, behaviors, and attitudes about what really is important in our lives.

Best of times. Worst of times. 1859. 2020. And all points in between, behind, or beyond.

Our choice. It’s what we make of it.

And that is one thing that will never change.

Thanks, Charles and Dave.

Murphy’s Law Bonus

Created from extensive research of late:

Goofy guy’s Curse of the Road: If traffic is reduced to almost nothing, the number of wrecks will be increased.

Goofy guy’s explanation of his Curse of the Road: Since hunkering down began, i have been on the interstate/freeway system exactly five times: drove Sarah to pick up our wonderful meal s from Wine Vault and Bistro three times, drove there myself  to pick up the first one when this all began, and drove to golf at Temecula Creek Inn yesterday for golf. During three of those five times, i was in the middle of extensive traffic jams that extended the drive over a half-hour to more than an hour. Sarah has declared it my curse.

Goofy guy’s small delight in his Curse of the Road: Maureen decided to drive home yesterday.

Oscar the Grouch and the Old Fart Collide

What a difference a day makes. Twenty-four little hours. And no, i don’t care what you say, this is Dinah Washington’s song.

And today there was a difference.

Last week, i caught the announcement Temecula Creek Inn, among other golf courses in Riverside County, was open for play. i told my buddy Pete Toennies, thinking the two of us might drive up (an hour’s drive northeast of here) and check it out. i didn’t think our wives would want to drive up and back in a day with 18 holes sandwiched in between.

Well, i don’t know whether they are golf fanatics, love being with their husbands on a day long trip ( i really don’t think so), or just wanted to go SOMEWHERE, but they not only glomped onto the idea, Nancy Toennies made the tee time.

We went. Weather was nice but hot. Temecula is desert but has become a mecca for ultra commuters and grown from horse ranches, sod farms, and  hot dirt, into this mega wanna be a big city with all of the strip malls and franchise stores you can cram into a country town with lots of heat added. Still, they built several nice golf courses and it is on the way to Palm Springs, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indian Wells, Indio, etc., so i’m okay with that.

And we played. A polite description of our games would be sporadic. i’m used to that.

But we were out. Safe, distant, following the rules — Do you how incredibly hot those masks are in dry eighty degree weather? But it felt free.

Funny thing is i really haven’t minded this hunkering down at all, but just driving seventy miles and back felt like freedom, release.

This lovely reprieve from the dungeon was preceded  by some pretty dark thoughts last night. Well, maybe not dark. Just sort of wake up in the middle of the night and think that’s what i want to say kind of thoughts.

Actually, they weren’t dark at all because i was accepting having so many diverse friends. i thank you all:

there is, in my old age,
a curse upon me
and
i spit in its face
in spite of
involuntarily allowing the curse
to invade me occasionally;
yet
i spit in its face
even while
i see dumb shit
all over the place,
large scale, small scale
dumb shit
folks refusing to think beyond
their noses
believing they are the supreme knowledge
of the world
because
someone told them to think that way
to make them better
and
make the ones that told them
rich and powerful and loved
and
full of bullshit;
and so
they go on believing
their form of politics,
their form of religion
their form of living
is the right and only way
so
we should eradicate all the others,
which, of course, is
bullshit,
and
for god’s sake
(and i mean that universally),
they believe they are pure
and
do not see
the manipulation
of the power brokers
who call it good and pure and right
but
when the layers are peeled back
good and pure and right
are only a disguise for
hate and then fear,
and
they really aren’t for something at all;
they are against whatever they believe is against them,
but
i spit in the face
of my curse
and
refuse to don the layers of hate and fear
covered by against
as i am only against the against,
not the againsters
because they are good folks
who don’t look below the layers
and
they are my friends
for whom i’m not against.;
wipe that spit from your face,
my curse.

 

Murphy’s Law

From my “Murphy’s Law” desk calendar archives thanks to Aunt Evelyn, Uncle Pipey, and cousin Nancy:

Bitton’s Postulate on State-Of-The-Art Electronics: If you understand it, it’s obsolete.

Goofy guy’s confusion concerning Bitton’s Postulate on State-of-the-Arts Electronics: This could mean everything i have is current, but i’m pretty sure everything i have in electronics is obsolete and i still don’t understand it.