Thursday, Mar 30th

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Oz Plus One Equals Pi

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Here we go again:  I freely admit I have backtracked, softening my previous, hard-line pledge to ignore the current rerun of clowns-n-circuses at the media's sleazy carny show.  Yet, here I am again, enjoying the bread-n-circuses spectacle of hyperbolic GOP candidates already frothing at the lip-line, competing in a Presidential election still a far cry -- although a much nearer, full-blown panic -- down the road.

The thing is:  This is a lot like exploring a fingertip with tweezers, tracking a wily, elusive splinter you'd swear was actively avoiding you.  It's like getting all the sun-baked duct-tape residue off a glass-fronted storm door.  It's like chasing cancer around your body with glowing Mad Scientist Rays and Big Pharma's Top 100 Greatest Hits:  These things are all theoretically possible -- even technically possible --just be ready for some DEFCON-2-level pains in the patootie, the temples, and elsewhere.

So, here I go again:  Hello, my name is Alex, and I am a recovering political innocent...

(To be clear:  Far as I can see, there has been no change since yesterday.  This is still Oz, there is still no peeking behind the curtain allowed, we are all still in the same handbasket, and the GOP candidates on the yellow brick road are still scrambling around, trying in vain to rustle up some brains, some heart, and some courage.  We join a portion of our show already in progress...)

* * * * *


Pinched Nerve

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My life-long quest to find the Unified Field Theory of Home-Grown Fascism seems at times tantalizingly close, but at others farther away than Alpha Centauri. I'm sure I could wrestle the beast to the ground, snap its neck, and call it a done deal if I laid out my arguments in the form of a book. But a couple of hundred pages makes an unwieldy club. Some Right-Wing half-wit gasbag like George Will or David Brooks could seize upon one sentence of mine … spin it around to mean something I never intended in a million years … and proudly proclaim the entire book debunked. No … I don't want to write a book, pamphlet, or paragraph. I want the same thing Einstein wanted -- to be able to spell out The Theory of Everything in an equation one inch long. No need for a 50-caliber machine gun when a derringer will do.

Just one sentence. That'll do the trick. Printed on a 3×5 card. It could be slipped into the steaming pile of manure Limbaugh reads from everyday on the air. He's on auto-pilot most of the time, doesn't really read the daily talking points in front of him before he starts his argle-bargle-yammering, so he won't even notice what he's read until it's already out of his mouth and into the ears of his listeners. What happens after that is anybody's guess. My favorite scenario is Limbaugh realizes what he's said and instantly his body loses cohesion; 300 pounds of body fat slops to the floor of his studio in an oily avalanche, a wire shorts out, and Rush Limbaugh flames out of existence leaving behind a greasy residue that resists even multiple applications of Mr. Clean.


Going to Oz in a Handbasket

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It's Home Schizophrenia Day, apparently -- I guess -- and I find one of my personalities has started writing this note from the front... doing so, over my own numerous and very strong personal protests to me.

(This is not turning out very well, I said to myself.  I know that, I replied.)

See:  This is about politics and Trump and the aspirations of all the blown-out GOP nut cases and billionaire blowhards to become King of America for a while -- a chance for these marching-band rejects and assorted lame specters to practice their bumbling baton-twirling with our symbolic scepter of state.

(Any Republican winner can continue to treat everyone else like serfs, just like always, except that now, the winner gets Air Force One, and the Big Red Omigod Armageddon Button, to come into gleeful play -- and foreplay.)

This is also about Republicans trying to out-extreme one another... which reminds me how crowded is the field of squealing GOP schemers...  which reminds me we have a veritably incalculable number of tone-deaf and stone-stupid ignoramuses who believe themselves capable of leading and guiding and steering ANY society and country, let alone THIS one, when, in fact, balancing a checkbook and tying their own shoelaces would quickly shunt most of them into the overachiever category in real life...

[ Later, when most of the temple-pounding settled down some... ]

Well, let me start again, and put it this way:

  • I once stepped and slipped, barefoot, as a child, first, into fresh "meadow muffins" and, on another occasion, into a lakeside hole containing a hornet's nest.  Both events were supremely instructive on stuff I definitely wanted to skip from now on.

And yet, here I am again, my bare feet covered with cow dung, angry hornets, and throbbing welts.  Of course, I know better -- one of my personalities surely must -- having submerged one of my selves in the last few weevil-ridden rounds of the unending Lesser-of-the-Psychos, Whack-A-Mole game we call the GOP Presidential Candidate Winnowings.


One More Once

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It's not like I was gone long.  Nor was it likely I'd be missed.  (My ego's at the opposite end of the spectrum from Trump's, say.  You know, down in the deep dark blues of reality, not the riotously bright, day-glow flamingo pink champagne shades of all the little Bushes and Palins and Romneys.)

But, it had been done.  I had hung up my keyboard.  I was all done.

I had decided to do something less painful with my time than offering curmudgeonly commentaries in my stubbed-toe, schadenfreude-rich, Freudian-packed missives on the woe-packed state of the universe.

I thought about taking up something more comfy, like firewalking, maybe, or bungee jumping (with the bungee tied around my neck), or simply sitting on the sofa, pounding sticks of string cheese into my ears with little rubber mallets while humming "I've been working on the railroad..."

Pretty much anything is a fabulous time, filled with wonder and awe, compared with checking out the day's news.  Compared with news headlines of what we humans have done now -- well, even the exciting, rewarding world of home sump pump repair can seem irresistible.

But, then it happened.  Against all odds, some of my childhood energies were accessed, tapped, and given a blast of fresh electrical juice:  Berkeley Breathed was back, and so was Bloom County.

Suddenly, all things were again possible, even the impossible.


Ka-Boom -- Happy Hangover Day.

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July Fifth:  July Fourth, plus one, and counting.  Happy Hangover Day, gunpowder aficionados.

(I'll bet many of you are thinking that the rest of us are admiring the many black marks of your scorched-earth policies on the sidewalks and roadways of our Freedom.  Actually, we are not.  No, we're frankly puzzled, looking down at those gunpowdered starbursts, how it is that primates have toddled and dawdled along this far.  We're amazed that this universe has treated so well the unlikely equation of Curiosity + Opposable Thumbs + Tool-making Ability, and how it got us this species, ourselves, us -- how it got us anywhere at all, let alone not having gotten us smeared, long ago, across the landscape of our own night terrors.)

And now, an update on terrorism:

An array of agencies fielded an impressive assortment of watchful agents yesterday, hoping to spot and snare any "lone wolf" terrorists lurking here or there, bring them all in, in some sort of grand finale.  You will see some reports about this today, about their efforts.

Meanwhile, here's how my personal pie chart breaks out in terms of terror:

Part of me is relieved to know that trained, dedicated men and women are available to keep watch, even on holidays, whatever their agency designations -- from the ATF to the Zyzzyva Bureau.

Another part of me becomes reflexively suspicious whenever a "terror alert" goes out, because it makes me think we're gearing up to invade yet another country, and are laying the groundwork for yet another round of, as Firesign Theatre might say, "Beat the Reaper."

Part of me wonders the philosophical preoccupation of contemplating ourselves as our own worst enemy in such equations.

And part of me wonders if anyone knows, or cares, that the people in my neighbor are living right next door to terrorists -- terrorists who have no manifestos, have no conflict with this country,  have no alien flag to fly.


Action, Reaction, and a Humpee's Holiday Hunch

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Here is a scattered smattering of overheated thoughts for this hot. heat-waved, and patriotically-roasted, spit-skewered expanse of a weekend:

Why is it that the modern world must -- absolutely MUST -- trump nature, and whomp-stomp peace and quiet?  Well, for that matter, and more to the point, why is there human activity at all?

This one beats hell out of me, and I've been asking that question since I was 3-and-a-half, on a tricycle, pedalling furiously, trying to out-distance a rapidly-gaining Boston terrier named Tag -- a neighbor's dog who was  permanently locked in the demented, mindless throes of human-leg-lust, and would launch at any chance for satisfaction, not matter what you'd done or not done.

(There are many sorts of people I have known whose behaviors take after that dog.  Most of them are in the acquisitions trades, and/or the equally self-rewarding business of their own ego-stoking, inflation, maintenance, and related puffery.)

Meanwhile, at the time, I had no idea that tableau would turn out to be such an apt analogy for the rest of my life, for everything that followed, right up to this very moment -- here I am, and there is always something trying to hump me, and here I am, once again, making my legs go round and round, faster and faster, trying to outdistance the thing with that crazy lust in its eyes.

Thing is, the tricycle gets old, the legs even older, all while the dogs, unbelievably, get younger and stronger and faster and more numerous.

Sometimes it was Cancer or a Brain Tumor trying to have its way with me. Sometimes it was the Military.  Sometimes it was Work, or lack of it.  Sometimes it was just Me, myself, chasing my own tail, but going way too fast -- even going in the wrong direction, somehow.

Back then, as a child, I somewhat succeeded:  My small legs tired.  I stopped.  I was panting. The dog caught up to me.  He was also panting, and was mostly too tired to give it all he had, too weary to give it all he had earlier wanted so very desperately to give.  So, it was only a half-hearted humping that I got.

This, too, as I think about it, is an apt analogy for the rest of my life, for everything that followed, right up to this very moment -- trying like hell to outrun The It of The Moment, never quite succeeding completely, but having run myself -- and The It of The Moment -- down so far as to have perhaps altered history a smidge, and so, I received only a small portion of the humping for which I had been originally destined by Cancer or The Military or Unemployment or whatever.

I couldn't much tell about the Brain Tumor or my 80-Hour-a-Week Job or the National Employment Outlook, but I knew that I was sure panting like hell, braced against the frame of my tricycle lifestyle, trying to distract myself from the inevitable punishment to come, looking at the world's reflection in the chrome, trying to ring the bell, wonder if getting some tassles would be too, well, froufrou ...

And now, much time has passed, and there is a new now.


Pick a Drone, Any Drone

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It must be slow in the news business.  Or, maybe, some of the Bat Guano Madness of the GOP presidential candidates is rubbing off on the poor people forced to actually, physically stalk them, in person (not just Twitter-stalk them, as 9 out of 10 doctors would plainly advise in similar cases of such severe mental contagion, along with plenty of hand-washing after initial contact or voluntary self-neutralization following prolonged exposure).

Maybe news headline writers are having a contest as to which one can single-handedly boost the consumption of booze or tranquilizers.  Or the consumption of both -- even though we all know that such a sequence of events is a prescription to fall down without warning and not get back up again, no  matter how many emergency pull-chains you have installed throughout your home, business, or underground sanity bunker.

I mean, some headlines can sneak up on you and go off unexpectedly, like leaning, loaded shotguns jolted into self-awareness by gravity, or how hair-triggered coiled rattlesnakes can be, once irked at having their tails set upon by rockers or lawn chairs.

My lifelong exposure to news items has pretty well blistered my mind, insuring a cushion of dead tissue that usually keeps most of the remaining mass safely in place, no matter how jarring or penetrating the unfolding events.  Sometimes, though, my mind is folded and mutilated by events choosing to unfold themselves at arm's length -- going off in real time, almost, as I read about them.

These stories make me feel like I am working in the bomb squad, wrestling to defuse a five-story monster, all the while knowing I am putting in my last day -- my last 4 seconds! -- as a bomb squad tech, but giving it a brave go anyway...


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