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Alex Baer

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.

Last Updated on Sunday, 05 July 2015 21:46

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.

Last Updated on Friday, 03 July 2015 19:57

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...

Last Updated on Thursday, 02 July 2015 12:57

Dear Greece, Please Call Iceland.

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A love letter to Greece seems an improbable mission for me, so far away, never having met her, never having chatted over coffee on the somewhat-mandatory, U.S.-style, daylight date in an aboveboard, public place...

But I can't help it.  I've seen the travel posters.  I've seen documentaries.  I've read books.  I'm in love.  I can't help it.

And here I am, locked away in a nearly insane country run by mouth-foaming, pinstripe-suited financiers and fiscal charlatans of all stripes -- except the cartoony prison sort wearing the broad bands of old-fashioned, black-and-white-striped suits...

... and there they are, the Greeks, with their long crossroads of history, with their many legendary gods and goddesses, blessed with an astonishing number of starkly gorgeous islands and brilliant ocean inlets washed in the colors of sea and sky, and with their earnest and good-humored, quick-to-smile folk, alongside a diet of dining and drink to die for...

And, me, here, landlocked in a brown, paved land of The Unending Big Mac, of Queens of Dairy-things, and of Kings of Burgers -- or is it Dairy Kings and Burger Queens? -- hoping to offer this centuries-old culture of cuisine and class some well-meaning advice, there in the Aegean, a hop and a skip from the heel of Italy, a short stride and a half-step away from what may be the most important gateway country of the modern era, in Turkey, where modernity has long met Muslims in a mostly modest, humane way, offering us all some lessons on how to behave...

Last Updated on Tuesday, 30 June 2015 13:13

A Few Outbreaks of Sanity

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There are days when I imagine the main purpose of The News is to get our blood raging to check the strength of the vein walls, or to have us self-check the gnashing positions of our upper and lower jaws to test the limits of the bullets we're biting on, or maybe, to make us drag our funny bones out of storage to give them a random tickle and jolt, via a semi-vicious half Nelson.

These past couple days, checking the headlines, I think all of that is trying to happen at once.  No, it's OK -- I get it:  Life is simply trying to see how much Krazy it can stuff into the Klown Kars of Reality before everything goes Ka-Boom.

I dunno about you, but I always keep my leather bite tab handy.  See, mine doubles as the key fob on my set of keys that go to the Scream Room, the Isolation Tank, and the now-abandoned, 1950s-era, Anti-Armageddon Bunker.  (I closed off that last one a number of years ago.  It used to double as the Rumpus Room, but you just can't find high-quality Rumpus anymore -- about the same time Formica was no longer mined, and Naugas went extinct, and their hides got harder to find...)

Anyway:  If you were to put me under oath and ask how full the Klown Kar's getting, I'd be obliged to tell you we're gettin' purdy close to bein' all topped off and then some.

Before we have to go look around for roof racks, let's start off easy:

Last Updated on Wednesday, 24 June 2015 19:14

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