Do you know, I am thinking that the current wokster crowd knows nothing of the concept of actions having consequences, sometimes of the fatal sort, and now and again of the professional kind. (Yeah, Sgt. Mom, welcome to the freaking obvious, I can hear some of you thinking…) But it’s both sad and infuriating to read of incidents such as that child in an adult body; presumed to be a Harvard graduate and accepted to an internship at a major international accounting firm … blowing all that by going all stabby-stabby-encounter on social media about theoretical opposition to her not-terribly-well thought out position as regards to racism against the black and woke, not to mention near to illiterate levels of grammar and spelling. Silly child, welcome to the 21st century, and let me break it to you that the internet is forever, as long as certain clever people make screen-grabs of your woke idiocy. What you post on social media goes far and wide, and even to the ken of people like … potential employers.(And also that whatever you and/or your parents laid out for Harvard tuition was not money well-spent. Just my .02.)

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Dispiriting it is, most mornings, to start up my computer and begin reviewing the news: if it isn’t the return/revival of the Chinese Commie Crud, it’s the interesting spectacle of (mostly) blue cities – ones run for decades by the Democrat party, the party of slavery, secession, segregation and now socialism. Amazing that those cities are the ones most plagued by an unsavory coalition of nihilists co-sponsored by the Marxist-inspired Black Lives Matter and the straight-up communists of Antifa. (As amazing as the number of individuals corporations, large and small, who have been bamboozled into expressing support for the former group. As this commenter at Sarah Hoyt’s place remarked:

The large corporations are kind of caught in two grips of a vice. The first is that they’ve been hiring mostly college graduates, and most of the college graduates are from “progressive” or “liberal” institutions that have been soaked in this hatred of the West since the late ’60s at the earliest. It could be entirely possible that they could have gone entirely through a four year degree without having been exposed or having to seriously debate the other side of the arguments. The second grip in the vice is the power of the media-and especially social media-these days. It is very easy for the wokescolds to create a hue and cry that can ruin a company. And, an amazing number of these companies are in…careful shape. So, anything that risks the company has to be avoided)

Getting back to matters racial/social I find it purely amazing that after decades of official and ostentatious promoting of social justice, affirmative action and representation for the less-fortunate minorities, the less-fortunate minorities are even worse off then they were half a century ago.
(Thank you, for the crowbar required to remove my tongue from my cheek.)

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19. June 2020 · 1 comment · Categories: General

I had in mind the deliberate destruction of religious icons, and a vague memory of it having happened at least once in the Russian or Eastern Orthodox church in the medieval period; such things being, in the judgment of the sternly orthodox, ungodly and unsuitable, and therefore to be expunged … but it seems that spasms of righteous destruction are almost a human constant, across culture and time. The current passion for defacing and destroying public monuments – and not just those memorializing Confederate heroes – turns out to be not all that new and revolutionary. (channeling Private Gomer Pyle: Surprise, surprise, surprise.)

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11. June 2020 · Comments Off on Saying “No” · Categories: General

I lifted a graphic from last weekends’ Powerline Week in Pictures, and posted it on my Facebook feed (where I post only anodyne stuff and things to do with my books, home improvements, and social schedule) which pretty much sums up how I’m feeling this week. Kermit the Frog stares out a rain-drop-misted window, and says, “Sounds Like Thunder Outside – But With the Way 2020 is Going, It Could Be Godzilla.”

Even before one could draw a breath of relief that the Chinese Commie Crud had not ravaged the US population anything like the 1918 Spanish Flu did, and that life was returning to something like normal, what with businesses slowly reopening – here came the stomping behemoth of violent protests and race-riots, in the wake of the death (possibly caused by drugs rather than the apparent mistreatment) of a long-time violent criminal of color at the hands of a white police officer.

This entire brutal and grotesque encounter was on video and understandably condemned as unacceptable overreaction on the part of the officer by just about every reasonable person of any color who watched it. Serious concerns regarding the militarization of police have been raised for at least a decade among thoughtful citizens, what with so many instances of police barging into houses in no-knock and full SWAT mode (often the wrong house, and opening fire indiscriminately), of abusing civil forfeiture statutes and traffic fines as a means of making budget. This concern was exacerbated by resentment during the Chinese Commie Crud lockdown enforcing social distancing – like pursuing a solitary paddle-boarder, all alone on the ocean, and going all-out on parents tossing a softball in a park with their kid.

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05. June 2020 · 2 comments · Categories: General

I’m tired, Tired of playing the game Ain’t it a crying shame I’m so tired…

Oops, there I go, channeling Lili Van Shtüpp, the Teutonic Titwillow from the movie Blazing Saddles – which cinematic offering must be about the last time we were allowed to meditate on matters racial in a mainstream entertainment offering with wit, good humor and malice towards none. Sad to say, that movie could not have been made in the last ten years, and certainly not this week. The social media meltdown would achieve nuclear levels even before production began, and by premier time would sink through the mantle of Earth to the burning core of it’s molten center, which I wouldn’t mind observing from a safe distance. Because I am tired.
Tired of a lot of things, so tired that I have gone beyond being polite and considerate of others’ feelings. Of what am I tired? Oh, liebling, let me begin the list …

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01. June 2020 · Comments Off on Deja-Poo · Categories: General

Why, yes, as a matter of fact – I have seen this sh*t before; several times, as a matter of fact. The first go round of racial/political rioting, looting, arson and general mayhem that I took notice of was that long hot summer of ’68, interspersed with political assassinations and anti-Vietnam War protests, although the Watts riot had taken place three years before. I was fourteen in the year of ’68 mayhem, and already well-aware of current events, through reading the Los Angeles Times when it was still a great and meaningful newspaper. Mom also had subscriptions to Harpers’ and Atlantic Monthly, when they also were still solid and more or less centrist publications, and although Mom and Dad didn’t watch TV news regularly, Granny Jessie did. I believe that it was sometime during that late summer, watching coverage of the riot attendant on the Democrat Party national convention, that I remarked to Granny Jessie that it seemed as if the world were all seriously going to Hell. Recall that I was only fourteen, and had led a comfortable, fairly sheltered middle-class life. Violence was something only seen t a distant remove as part of the plot in movies and TV adventure shows (and pretty anodyne, considering what I would have seen in them back then) and the real-life violence played out on the TV news was shocking. Granny Jessie replied, “It always seems that way, I guess.” Her tone was so jaded, and world-weary, I found it actually rather comforting.

Granny Jessie had seen two world wars and a world-wide depression in her time, plus Prohibition, the Korean War, and the early civil rights campaigns. Perhaps a sense of proportion was called for.
She was right, pretty much. Life went on from then after the summer of ‘68, in the way that it usually has, from day to day in the Shire, in spite of temporary hiccups. For the great number of us, life is that way, in spite of wars’ alarms and natural disasters.

The understanding that I am getting around to is that urban riots are not a good thing, long-term, especially not for the residents of those neighborhoods where said riots take place. Detroit was wracked by race riots two years running in 1967 and ’68; together with the collapse of the auto industry (and a simply awesome degree of civic mismanagement) this killed a once-prosperous city as an industrial powerhouse. As hard as local efforts to rebuild and reconstruct try … once a city or a neighborhood has been blasted by a destructive race riot, the earth has been salted. Especially if the city authorities keep giving way to anger-motivated activists. And if those activists keep doing the same destructive thing, over and over again, without care for long-term consequences.
The current civic riots – can I call them the Floyd Riots? Following pretty much the same pattern that I recollect. A righteous cause, local indignation … and a soupcon of professional traveling activists putting in their two cents worth of bricks and destruction … and there you have civic ruin on the installment plan. Deliberate? As a commenter at Sarah Hoyt’s place posted:

“Mayhap I’ve got my tinfoil hat wrapped a weeeeeee bit too tight, but … Is it just me, or is the timing of each of these crises just a tad convenient? As in the moment one crisis finally begins losing steam and people start moving on with their lives and things begin returning to normal, BOOM! New crisis! They’re able to drag out the Mueller Report and Impeachment for almost four months, and then as soon as they can’t pretend that they have a case anymore, BOOM! WUHAN KUNG-FLU GONNA KILL US ALL! And then as soon as the WHO and CDC can no longer convincingly fudge the numbers and states start reopening (whether their petty tyrant governors want them to or not), BOOM! Race riots that are somehow being instigated by white supremacists in predominantly black neighborhoods in every major city, all at once. And pallets of loose bricks just randomly happen to appear *poof!* out of thin air in the exact spots where rioters just randomly happen to decide to congregate? Yeah, why am I not buying that any of this shit is spontaneous and “organic?”

So … Antifa organized, lefty-symp organized, with the willing cooperation of the local racial agitator crowd? It seems that the more observant of those are realizing that they’re being used like a rented mule, with their own neighborhoods, stores and small enterprises being trashed in service to the larger narrative, and meanwhile, the celebrity crowd falls all over themselves, nobly kicking in bail for the arrested. Interesting times, no? Comment and testify as you wish.

29. May 2020 · Comments Off on Hitting a Limit · Categories: General

I’ve always considered myself to be a fairly tolerant person; my name isn’t Karen and I don’t feel any particular need to speak to the manager. In this I take after the maternal grandmother; the one who never made scenes upon receiving bad or abusive customer service. The paternal grandmother would and did, although in Granny Dodie’s defense, she didn’t take umbrage over small and inadvertent offenses and usually got some kind of satisfaction or apology from indulging in recreational Karenism. Granny Jessie would gather up her dignity, depart the scene of the offense quietly … and then never, ever return. No threats, no other complaint, no talk with the manager. Granny Jessie was just gone and relentless in determination to never darken that door again.

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21. May 2020 · Comments Off on Consent of the Governed · Categories: Domestic, Fun and Games, Health and Wellness, Media Matters Not

“…to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…”
“The consent of the governed” – and what a concept, hey? And outlined in our very own Declaration of Independence. That the government has authority only as far as those it governs permits, allows or tolerates; a notion which seems to have escaped the more stubbornly authoritarian among us, such as the governors of certain states: among them Gavin “Gruesome” Newsom, of California, the Unspeakable Kate Brown of Oregon, Gretchen Witmer, the Grand Karenator of Michigan, J.B. “Jabba the Hutt” Pritzker of Illinois, Ralph Northam, the Baby-Killer of Virginia and the weaselly and nipple-pierced autocrat of New York, Andrew “Missed It By That Much!” Cuomo. All the above-listed, and a good few others of lesser notoriety and office went on an authoritarian kick: “Close all the things!” seemed to be their rallying cry, after first ignoring the first warning signs of the Wuhan Coronavirus, aka the Chinese Commie Crud, and then losing their damned minds when the National Establishment Media lost theirs.

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11. May 2020 · 2 comments · Categories: General

As I retired from a relatively uneventful career in the peacetime Air Force in 1997, I’ve been out of the military for longer than I was in it. I don’t hang around so much in military veteran circles online as I did early in the decade afterwards, when my daughter was serving in the Marines after 9/11 and deployed to Kuwait and Iraq. But she does venture into veteran social media circles, on a local basis through organizations and outlets like Bourbiz, Grunt Style, Ranger Up, and Black Rifle Coffee … and she called my attention to what amounts to a dumpster fire ongoing in veteran circles. Holy heck, it’s more a raging nuclear inferno than your plain ordinary social media dumpster fire. Read the series of articles, she said, it’s jaw-dropping – and so I did. Oh. My. G*d. I thought the Vietnam-era “stolen valor” incidents so thoroughly documented in this book were the far frozen limit, but this Steele character appears to have ventured into hitherto unexplored dimensions. More »

09. May 2020 · Comments Off on Respecting Authority · Categories: General

As the Deity is my witness, I swear that certain of our elected officials at the state and municipal level are holding a contest to see who can be the most petty, obnoxious, contradictory, and unreasonably dictatorial boot stamping on a human face in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus. (Yes and I will call it the Wuhan coronavirus, or maybe even the Chinese Commie Crud; I owe nothing to the Chinese Communist Party, nor do I expect to sell books in China, so bite me, Premier “Winnie the Poo” Xi, you and your running-dog lackeys in the American media.)

Lets’ see – Governor Gretchen “Karen” Witmer was making a strong showing for most of the last few weeks; stupid and illogical orders as to what was essential and what was not; yea, even to the point of roping off aisles in general-purpose stores. You could go to the store, look at the merchandise which was sitting right there, in plain sight … but because Governor “Karen” had ruled, in her inexplicable wisdom, that certain items were not essential … you could not purchase them. You could, in fact, order them through the store website … but you could not actually pick up the item and schlep it to the cashier yourself. Governor “Karen” also, in her infinite wisdom, decided that the same quarantine/isolation practices that were marginally appropriate for the Big City in her state were also appropriate for the far-distant rural counties, where one might have to actually arrange for someone with the Wuhan coronavirus to come and cough on you. Governor “Karen” also claimed to see Nazi and Confederate banners at public protests objecting to her idiotic policies. So, not only stupid and illogical … but delusional. If she was auditioning for a spot as the Dem VP-nominee, I suspect that she has bombed the audition. (But one never knows. Like idiocy, there seems to be an infinite and boundless supply of delusions of competence on the part of our current political leadership in blue states.) More »

28. April 2020 · Comments Off on Lament for a Mall · Categories: General

Malls were the latest, trendiest, most oh-there thing in retail development about the time that I was in high school and college. There were a couple of them that I went to, early on, and they were … OK. A nice diversion if one was in the mood or purse for retail therapy. Most of them were enclosed, two or three levels, almost always expensively decorated, adorned with plantings, sometimes with dabs of architectural creativity here and there. All of that made sense in places where the weather was bitterly cold for at least half the year or boiling-hot for three-quarters of it – still does, in the upper mid-west and mountain west, especially in snowy winters. It was, however, a serious and time-burning excursion to go to the mall; finding a place to park nearest an entrance, walking … and walking, and walking, and carrying whatever you had purchased. If there was a nice and varied selection of shops, not wall to wall big chain outlets, exactly the same as every other mall – so much the better.
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23. April 2020 · 3 comments · Categories: General

And in other places, like New York. I must confess to snickering nastily at New Yorker’s response to Mayor OBlah-blah’s unveiling of a system to nark out your neighbors for not obeying every jot and tittle of the Wuhan Corona-crud restrictions. Said system was immediately swamped in an unstoppable rising tide of rude pictures, pictures of rude gestures, and sarcastic references to Hitler, as well as crude personal jibes regarding the Mayor himself – to the point where the system was taken down entirely. Well, good for New Yorkers, I say – and a very good thing that such a thing wasn’t tried in a Texas city; seriously, the receiving server would have melted down into a radioactive puddle of goo. And California skateboarders industriously clearing out their skate-park of the sand dumped into it by officious authorities and making a dirt-bike track out of the excess sand? That’s just freaking awesome. We have not forgotten how to cock a snook at overweening authority; a tradition has been passed on to a new generation…
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17. April 2020 · Comments Off on The Dark Night of Fascism… · Categories: General

…is said to always be descending on America but landing in Europe … but in the instance of this Wuhan Coronavirus pandemic, a peculiar variant of it looks to be landing in Michigan, New Jersey and Virginia, seeing as those states have been blessed with governors breaking all land speed records in getting in touch with their inner authoritarian. One might be forgiven for suspecting that their motivation is not so much for keeping those vulnerable to the newly-improved Chinese respiratory crud in quarantine, but one might also be forgiven for a healthy sense of suspicion; that governors like … Gretchen “Karen the Governator” Whitmer are actually making a frantic display of authority, in a pathetic attempt to demonstrate that they can, actually, make wise use of such authority. Karen the Governator is additionally challenged by the prospect of being theoretically in the running to be nommed to the VP slot in Joe Biden’s hapless campaign for the office of president of these United and temporarily locked-down States. Sigh – the thing about authority, class, good taste, or being a lady – is that if you must make an overt demonstration of those qualities to the masses – then you don’t possess them at all. While it’s absolutely fine that a real-life Natasha Fatale has lost the Russian accent and taken on the onerous duties of being the elected governor of Michigan, going all overboard like the bossiest boss of the most nightmare HOA imaginable (I’m all about building a second career!) … is not a good look. Demanding that retail outlets which are already open and have customers withing – not sell garden seeds, flooring, and baby car seats on the grounds that such are non-essential is bloody insane. And illogical.

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This is a septic bit of public street art that I ran across on Bookworm Room this week. Apparently, this Winston Tseng is a bit of a rebel artist, kind of the liberal, east coast version of Sabo. Yeah, he looks like what we have come to expect of a certain kind of liberal, big-city intellectual; a weedy metrosexual, striking an avant garde pose. Seems to have the kind of resume that goes with that pose. Frankly, he looks like the kind of guy who doesn’t know the difference between a straight blade or Phillips-head screwdriver. Probably can’t drive a standard shift car, either – even if he does have a drivers’ license in the first place. Appears on the strength of the art posted on his website that he hates Trump and his administration, root and branch. Yawn – so daring! So avant garde! And so bloody predictable.
I get it that there are two New Yorks – the working-class-stiff element, likely who cannot afford a 300-foot apartment in any postal code within miles of Manhattan, and the intellectual sort, chuffed beyond all measure that they are living and working in New York New York – where if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, and anywhere else is just … Nowheresville when it comes to adding up the social intellectual points. Out here in the vast American hinterland between two coasts, those of us who have an interest in more-than-local public matters are marinated in information about New York New York. It’s in our movies, the books and media we read, the media we watch. The Ultimate Big City, the Biggest Apple of Them All … yeah, we get it. Over and over again. We know. But reciprocal evidence that the residents of the most happening, trendiest city in this whole US of A know bloody anything … anything at all about the rest of us is pretty damn thin on the ground. No, nothing. Nada. Bugger-all. Invincible sheltered island ignorance. The famous NY Magazine cover comes to mind; a rare moment of awareness of their own insularity on the part of the most New York New York intellectual monument of all.

This matter came to the attention of Bookworm through a tweet regarding a lament at Slate (which used to be a thing for me, back when I was new to the internet and all) concerning a noted lack of sympathy for New York and New Yorkers during the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic. This in contrast to the outpouring of support and sympathy after 9/11. Why so little regard in this present emergency, asked the author of the post, Dahlia Lithwick, in a tone which almost verged into a protracted whine? I think the most scathing and concise answer to her was commenter Steverino, who wrote in the comments to her post:
A few months after the Sep 11 attacks, I was driving on a two lane Texan road somewhere far south of Dallas when I saw a gas station ahead, the old kind from the ‘60s, with slanted glass so it looked like an airport control tower. The glass was white, like it had been whitewashed after going out of business. I pulled in, out of curiosity, to investigate. The station was open for business. The white on the windows were hundreds of 3×5 note cards taped to the inside, each pledging small amounts of money to buy New York City a firetruck to replace one of those destroyed in the terrorist attack. This was coming from a tiny Texas town that was lucky if it had a Dairy Queen … It is astounding to read a clueless liberal claim that Trump has brought divisiveness to America after conservatives have spent the last twelve years being smeared by liberals as racists and Nazis when we disagree on even the slightest things. The biggest sins Trump has committed, in the eyes of liberals, is to win the election and to use their own rhetorical tactics against them. Had there been no Obama, there would be no Trump. When you take an extreme stand against Americans, expect an extreme reaction … You recruited his army of supporters with your slander and incivility, your contempt for honest dialogue. How do you like the result?

For myself – and getting back to the so progressive Mr. Tseng, whose illustrations were used in a tweet demonstrating just why Ms. Lithwick was getting no sympathy – I was more than a little disgusted with the overt social snobbery in his mock “Keep New York Trash Free” billboards. So our precious artist perhaps never considered that the paunchy working-class guy in a sleeveless t-shirt and Confederate flag tat might be a truck driver transporting essential goods over a long distance, a stocker in a supermarket, or a farmer. Never considered that the woman with a Bible in hand might be a nurse, a volunteer aid worker, a cashier in a store selling essential goods, a good neighbor in a small town. Nope – just trash, that New York is better off without.

Doubtless, he certainly would never, ever acknowledge that people of the sort that he scorns as “trash” have done more good in this current crisis than he has been, or ever will.

11. April 2020 · 2 comments · Categories: General

No, really; the renovation of a single room in my house – the hallway between the garage to the living room was kicked off by a single doorknob. I asked for it from Amazon Vine on a whim, and after I installed it in my bedroom door and wrote the review, I began thinking how really nice it looked. Too nice for the ratty old hollow-core contractor-grade door, which was original to my house when it was build in 1985. Being a bit of money ahead, I thought of replacing the door … and when I looked into interior doors, cost of, and availability at Home Depot, it came about that I could actually afford to replace not just one door – but the doors to the closet, the guest bathroom, the second bedroom door, and the door into the garage as well. Hurrah, hurrah! And – adorn them with the same glass doorknob as I had gotten through Vine. A gallon of good paint, and a few hours on the part of Roman The Neighborhood Handy Guy; done and looked amazing!

The Doorknob!

But the new doors, with a coat of pristine white paint made the existing trim and walls look grotty and gross – especially the wall where the cat litter boxes had formerly been lined up, and so there was a trip to Lowe’s … and another to Home Depot, and while there, saw some nice laminate flooring on sale. And the Daughter Unit mused, “I wonder how easily that peel-and-stick linoleum will come up?”

At Work In The Hallway

I looked at the row of narrow shelves in the hallway, stacked with paperback books … the shelves were just simple lengths of MDF and plain brackets, Serviceable enough, but not all that attractive. Surely, we could do better; and when consulted, Roman TNHG suggested knocking out the drywall and setting the shelves between the studs. That way, it wouldn’t narrow the hallway as much. He could do a bang-up job with fancy molding trim and beadboard; a bookcase that would truly be a built-in.  And if we started the work ourselves, he wouldn’t charge for the demolition. The following day, I began boxing up the books while the Daughter Unit was at work, and when she returned home to a relatively empty and echoing hallway, we took out the shelves, and bashed away – carefully – at the drywall. Today, we applied bead-board pattered wallpaper to what will be the back of the bookcase. (Anaglypta wallpaper from Wayfair, which I swear must be about the only place one can even find nice substantial wallpaper anymore). Tomorrow, when the wallpaper has dried, we’ll paint – and next week, trek back to Lowes’ or Home Depot for everything else to finish off the hallway in style.

The beadboard wallpaper, installed between the wall studs

I swear, it all started with a single doorknob…

10. April 2020 · Comments Off on Proactive to Punishment · Categories: General

I can’t decide which is the more dispiriting element of the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic; the fact that so many local authorities in America and Britain are letting their inner authoritarian out for an untrammeled romp while sanctimoniously insisting that it’s all for our own good whether we like it or not (or agree or not), that a large number of ordinary citizens are falling all over themselves in volunteering to inform on neighbors who are doing nothing more than going for more than one walk a day, visiting a park or beach, or exercising in their front garden, and that representatives of our National Media Establishment are as malicious a set of scurvy, biased, panic-sowing incompetents as ever crawled out of a journalism school armed with delusions of adequacy along with the degree. Age 27 and know absolutely nothing, as Ben Rhodes remarked.

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03. April 2020 · Comments Off on Life in the Time of Pandemic · Categories: General

Being retired (from the military as of 1997) and from much of anything else involving putting on a skirt suit, pantyhose, low heels and modest makeup in the last three or four years, the Wuhan Coronavirus lockdown really has not impacted my own life much. My daughter’s work and what there is of mine has been home office based for the last four or five years, so sheltering in place has not been much impact on our day to day life. We count this as our good fortune, while realizing to our sorrow that many others in our community are not so fortunately situated.

Up at half-past six, earlier if Larry Bird is creating outside the back yard windows, a leisurely mug of strong tea, while scrolling through various favored websites for a view of what fresh hells await, then a walk with the dogs – our own terrier-mix Nemo, and Penny, the labradoodle who belongs to an elderly neighbor. (One of those upon whom we are keeping a careful eye, as a fragile cancer-survivor.) A very brisk walk through the tangled streets of our subdivision – alas, we were once given to go to the nearest Planet Fitness three times weekly for an hour mostly spent on the elliptical, but they closed at mid-month, so the strenuous walk must substitute. The dogs are getting rather resentful at this program: “Oh, hell, aren’t we done yet?!!” practically appears in thought-bubbles over their heads during the last half-mile or so.

Back to the house: usually a bit of house-cleaning or gardening – the spring has been quite splendid, almost unnoticed. The trees are lavishly green, the bulbs planted in the fall and winter are now producing flowers, the tomato starts that I bought on sale in the fall and sheltered through the couple of chill spells have already produced tomatoes, the pole beans planted a week or so ago are beginning to leap up the frames positioned for their benefit. We were planning on replacing the chicken house this spring, and refreshing the small flock of laying hens, which has been reduced to a single semi-productive hen, but it looks like the current pandemic emergency has caused a run on supplies of chicks and hens. So – next year, I think. In the meantime, an egg every other day or so.

An hour or two (or more) at the sewing machine in the den – I’m doing fabric masks, from a pattern on the Joanne’s Fabrics website. It seems that local clinics, hospitals and medical practices are in crying need of them, so I am going through my cotton muslin fabric scrap stash. It’s not as easy going as I would like – the cranky Brother machine that my daughter bought on the installment plan is a temperamental beast, and after re-threading a couple of times and breaking at least one needle, my patience is at an end. My rule – after doing a fair amount of stitching for Matilda’s Portmanteau – is that after I break two needles, I’m done for the day. I have a pattern scanned from a neighbor’s pattern stash for doing surgical caps, which I am given to understand are also needed badly by a local clinic. The Daughter Unit also posted eight of them to my sister in California: she supervises the care of Mom, and needs three masks for her husband and son, and five for the home-care nurses to regularly visit to help with Mom, who is paralyzed from the shoulders down, but otherwise in good shape.

We went out to Walmart Thursday morning for fabric for this new project and another packet of needles. They are apparently going big on social distancing; in the foyer, I was upbraided by a manger for not remaining six feet or more from my daughter as she procured and sanitized a cart. “It’s the city rule!” she protested, when I pointed out that we are related, live together, and arrived in the same car, seated considerably less than six feet apart. Sigh. There are rules; sensible ones, and then the other kind – the variety that authority freaks seem to get off on enforcing. I hold the city authority freaks responsible for this one, not the manager, who in the matter of providing essential products to the public, likely has challenges that I can only imagine in my worst nightmare. (My regular nightmares are epic… last night I had two of the them in a row: “The Radio Station Which Doesn’t Work” in which I try to do live radio from a studio in which nothing works or is in the right place, followed by “I Can’t Find My Car” – in which I wander about endless parking lots around a campus of some kind, trying to find my car, or even remember where exactly I left it. Yeah, I must be stressed or something. The Daughter Unit blames the Walmart manager for this…)

Break for lunch – usually something left over from supper the night before, or a toasted sandwich. Then on to writing, for a couple of hours in the afternoon. I am staggering along on Luna City #9, at a pause on That Fateful Lightening, not that this should worry my half-a dozen fans. Both Quivera Trail and The Golden Road stood half-completed for months, or even years Break for supper around 5 PM. An hour or so of watching something on streaming video – this week our choice has alighted on episodes of The Good Karma Hospital – which is agreeable, has scenic backgrounds (filmed on location in Sri Lanka, which used to be known as Ceylon) and deals with mostly solvable medical dilemmas and soap operas teases of an emotional sort. Read in bed for an hour or so after that, attended on one side by Nemo the Terrier (who appears in The Golden Road as Nipper) and on the other by Mom’s former cat, Isabelle the Not-Tightly-Wrapped-Siamese, who has Issues. Don’t we all, these days?

31. March 2020 · Comments Off on Madness and Maddow · Categories: General

The Navy hospital ships promised by President Trump to deploy to New York and Los Angeles arrived on-station as ordered a few days ago. MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, presumed for some obscure-to-me reason to be associated with the provision of news to the public, and most recently famed through peddling Russian conspiracy theories regarding Trump’s election for the past three years, had ridiculed the President’s proposed schedule as “nonsense. ” She, or whatever pronoun she goes by, had loudly and publicly claimed that it would be “weeks” before the hospital ships arrived. Instead, the hospital ships arrived more or less to schedule. A lesser news-person would have the decency to be embarrassed over how transparent a prediction-flop this was. Not this Maddow person, it appears. This is not a good thing, and not for the reason first assumed. PBS’ Yamiche “Rolie-Polie-Olie” Alcindor baldly admitted, and in nicer words, that the name of the game for the national establishment news media is “Get Trump!” and anything goes, fair or foul (mostly foul) will serve that end. Well, really – those of us who have been paying attention, especially for the last decade and a half (or longer) have known very well that the name of the game as far as the establishment national news media is concerned, is to enthusiastically smear Republicans and their conservative supporters (no matter how mild or harmless) the pretext, and to excuse Democrats and their supporters, no matter how vile the offense and actions. Nothing new here, move along. SSDD, as we used to say in my active duty days. (Same sh*t, Different Day.)

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24. March 2020 · 3 comments · Categories: General

Seriously, I do wonder if there isn’t a strong antipathy against all things Official-Mainland-Chinese/ Chinese Communist Party and all its works building among Americans, in the wake of the almost-universal infection by the Wuhan Corona-virus epidemic. I mean – the damn plague started there, despite what all the official CCP agencies and bodies, and their sympathizers and hired media can and will insist. Bungling containment, concealing practically everything about the epidemic (the third devastating epidemic originating in China, by the way, the swine flu and the H1N1 virus being the first two) and then having the unmitigated gall to blame it on the United states – that takes the absolute cake, as far as I am concerned. It reminds me of the books I absorbed, growing up; most by English and American authors of the mildly popular sort (some fiction, some non) and dating anywhere in the first half of the 20th century whose detestation of Germany and Germans hung in the atmosphere of those books like a particularly dank fog. It was an almost visceral dislike, for all that we generally had been inclined favorably towards Germany before the turn of the previous century. Martin Luther, Johan Sebastian Bach, the Brothers Grimm, Schumann, Beethoven, Goethe, scientific, technological and medical advances all flowed to the rest of Europe and to the Americas, making is all the richer for it – but German ‘frightfulness’ in World War I, and the horrors inflicted by Nazi Germany burned through that enormous fund of respect and favorable opinion, leaving a very bad taste in the mouths of those old enough to have been exposed to them, either directly or at first and second remove. That bad taste may only now be fading with regard to Germany, but I wonder if it isn’t now about to be replaced with burning resentment of China, or at the very least, the Chinese Communist Party.

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20. March 2020 · Comments Off on The Far Limit · Categories: General

With an effort, I wrench my attention from contemplating local fall-out from the Wuhan coronavirus, or as an unknown wit called it the ‘Kung Flu’. The grocery stores we favor are pretty well picked over by mid-day, in spite of closing from 8 PM to 8AM to restock, the gym has closed, gatherings of more than ten are strongly advised against, and just about every local market or book festival that we had considered participating in has been cancelled or postponed until summer or even later – when, presumably, either the medical wizards will have a handle on the Kung Flu, or people will stop panicking over it.

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18. March 2020 · Comments Off on Pottering Around · Categories: Domestic

Well, I have to say that social distancing – or even more pronounced social distancing than is normal for me – is letting me get stuff done around the house. The Daughter Unit has work obligations, and a social life of sorts, which the Great Wuhan Coronavirus Panic of 2020 has not yet impacted to any degree. We stocked up at the beginning of the month, topped up over the weekend, so there is nothing I particularly need for projects at the moment. The gym has closed for two weeks – and here was a place which routinely sanitized for your protection anyway. We walked the dogs energetically this morning, in place of an hour on the elliptical, and then the Daughter Unit went off to her place of work, assisting her employer with sorting out their personal and professional expenses for the year. It turns out today that the IRS will generously grant us another ninety days to file, due to the Great Wuhan Coronavirus Panic. Well, it’s a very ill wind indeed that blows no one any good.

I may eventually have to go to Lowe’s for wallpaper paste, and some more paint rollers. The new back door awaits installation now, being painted on all sides, so I moved on to the trim around the hallway doors, and the underside of the attic space access ladder. When the new and toweringly efficient HVAC system was installed some years ago, replacing the decrepit and leaking original contractor-grade system, they put in a brand new ladder and a heavy wooden panel covering it into the hallway ceiling – and I never got around to painting it. So that is done, and tomorrow I will haul in the tall ladder and do the trim around it. I watered the garden, and planted some lettuce, and an assortment of basil seeds. We already have garden tomatoes, by the way – from some starts in 2-inch pots that I bought last fall and protected through the winter, and a wayward plant left over from last year – and the first couple of cuttings of spring salad greens, from seeds I planted early last month. It’s been that warm, you see.

Laundry – done sheets, and blankets. What an onerous chore was lifted off the shoulders of women, with the invention of electric washing machines and dryers? What might have been the weekly-occurring project taking up several days of brutal labor over a boiler, wringer, and clothesline now takes a turn in the washing machine and two hours in the dryer. Listen, you could never sucker me into going into one of those ‘history-house’ projects. I know very well what doing household laundry in the 19th century involved – at the very best, sending it all out to an industrial laundry in the big city and hoping that you got all your stuff back again in one piece, or at least, the pieces you sent it out in. Plus having to sew on all the buttons again, unless you had a maid to do all that needlework. The late 20th century to start of the 21st is the best century ever, thanks to household electricity and plumbing (not to mention air conditioning!) and don’t ever you let some freak afflicted with nostalgie de la boue a la The Life Primitive tell you any different. (An all-over bath once a week. Indeed – spare me. The ancient Romans had the right idea, as far as frequent bathing went.)

And – I processed the bag of small sweet apples through one of those patent apple-peeling/slicing gadgets, dropping them into a bath of water acidulated with a little lemon juice, and put them into the patent dryer that I am supposed to do a review of, when all those little apple slices are dried. And only then, did I turn to writing…

I had been half-expecting that San Antonio would cancel or delay the yearly Fiesta; this was made official Friday morning: put off the celebrations until November. Fiesta San Antonio was originally focused on Sam Houston’s victory at San Jacinto – which took place in April of 1836. (Lot of other events being cancelled as well.) Since Wednesday, I had been getting emails from various companies who I do business with, at least enough business for them to have my email: Costco, Sam’s, Petco, Frost Bank, the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the Texas author’s group (who have put off the Wimberly book event from June until November)the senior center in Bulverde who hosts a fall craft fair, Lowe’s and Home Depot – I think. All had pretty much the same message: “Aware of the Covid-19 thing, taking every precaution – deep-cleaning, sanitizing, encouraging sick employees to stay home, those who can to work remotely, concern but doing what we can, customers encouraged to wash hands, self-quarantine if feeling ill …” I wonder now if there wasn’t a degree of coordination going on, or if all the corporate public relations departments simultaneously came to the same conclusion. Reasoning? I rather thought the city and the Fiesta Commission would have to do something of the sort, after reading of Disneyland closing, and the LDS temporarily suspending meetings at every level.

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13. March 2020 · Comments Off on March Marches On · Categories: Domestic, General

I had a client make the final payment on a finished project late this week, and the two potential clients whom we met with earlier in the week are deferring a decision or a start on their projects until later (if ever) so I could take a break from their stuff and do a little bit more on the ongoing house project; a replacement door for the back door into the garage, and one for the second bedroom, which the Daughter Unit currently occupies. We found a quite acceptable metal-reinforced panel door at Home Depot for a reasonable price, but the door for the bedroom is another matter. We were looking for a door with a glass panel in it, for the bedroom is at the end of a hallway with only a single ceiling light, and no natural light from the outside whatever. So – the Daughter Unit has been pushing for the door with a translucent glass panel in it, so as to allow natural light from the bedroom window to seep into the hallway. Only problem was … expense and availability. Such a door is a special order; not in stock at either of the big-box home improvement outlets. Although Wayfair had very nice ones available – the very cheapest of them was $300, which is … a little out of budget. I had to go and order from Home Depot, and the door will be delivered early in May. Until it arrives, my attention will be focused laser-like on the rest of work in the hallway; specifically, covering the ghastly popcorn texture with beadboard panels and cornice molding, and the peel’n-stick lino with cork flooring and new baseboards. (This will be a test run for the look of the rest of the house …) Until I can begin on that, though – I need to replace the narrow set of shelves along the hallway which houses a simply huuuge collection of paperback books. This will involve boxing up all the books, and taking down the metal brackets and MDF planks in order to complete painting that wall, and seeing to a complete-floor-to-ceiling shelf unit just wide enough to accommodate paperback books… no, really, I would rather work on my income taxes …
All the bits and bobs and lists of expenses and profits from sales in various venues, are all tallied up and ready to be delivered to the nice gentleman CPA who has done my income taxes since 1995. What I will do when he retires for real, I have no idea. I can just hope that he is one of those who will carry on out of habit, looking after a diminishing pool of clients, rather like my late business partner did with her clients – and she handed them all onto me, those who survived. I can only hope that my CPA has a younger apprentice handy.
In other news, it seems that springtime has arrived – alas, not in the trees to the back of the property, which is mystifying. The plum and peach are still bare sticks; no blossoms or budding leaves at all. Neither is there any fresh spring growth on the thrice-cursed hackberry weed tree, just the other side of the fence line – a tree which I hate with the passion of a thousand burning suns for the manner in which it scatters nasty, weedy sprouts all across my yard. I hate the hackberry, so I do. If the wretched seedlings aren’t pulled up entire by the time they are about three or four inches tall, they send a tap-root halfway to the center of the earth and defy extermination … only cutting damned thing off at ground level and painting the bleeding stump with a chemical concoction available from the local nursery keeps it from propagating… This weekend, plant out the various seeds and seedlings, as mid-March marks the last possible frost in South Texas. I did get a jump on this, in sheltering some tomato starts through the winter; they are just now bearing a handful of tomatoes ripe enough to eat, and a tub full of spring greens is nicely ready for salads … and that was my week.

09. March 2020 · Comments Off on Ask Not · Categories: General, Literary Good Stuff

… whom the woke-mob bays for; it bayeth for thee… to paraphrase John Dunne. As no less than Woody Allan may testify at this point, as the article linked here outlines. So the woke mob claims another scalp; yay, wokesters of New York City Mainstream Publishing Division! Take a bow, having thrown a glorious temper tantrum and bent your employer to your will! Today, Woody Allen – tomorrow? Who knows?! N.K. Jemison, a notoriously woke science fiction writer and beneficiary of the current system, weighed in on behalf of the mob, which is … not a good look for someone dealing in speculative fiction. She is supposed to possess some talent, but again – encouraging the mob, even joining in – not something which a thoughtful person with a sense of events and historical recall ought to do. But never mind.
Frankly, as far as I am concerned the mainstream publishing establishment, which is centered in New York (as if that wasn’t sufficient punishment) may ride off into the sunset any time now. Words like “incestuous” and “culturally-blind” come to mind, as well as “arrogant” and “exploitative.” More »

01. March 2020 · Comments Off on The Battling B’s · Categories: Ain't That America?, Fun and Games, Politics

Oh, my … does the Dem Party, the historic party of slavery, secession, and segregation now look to add another “s” to their banner of massive fail – that of ‘socialism’, or whatever currently-fashionably euphemism that superannuated, work-shy Commie-symp, Bernie Sanders wants to call state control of any resources of value, including the labor of the masses? Looks like the finger of the burned fool is wabbling back to the fire, as Mr. Kipling so memorably put it all these decades ago. The live-action political version of Grandpa Simpson polled well in Nevada; he would have looked perfectly awful at the Dem Party debate-debacle … save that apparently all the other contenders came off even worse. More »

01. March 2020 · Comments Off on You Can’t Go Home Again · Categories: Domestic

Well, you can, sort of – but in the larger sense Thomas Wolfe was right: you can’t physically go home again, not after a good few years have passed. I’ve amused myself, since discovering google earth and street view by looking for and locating the houses that I have lived in, and seeing how they appear now. That is if I have a clear memory of the address, and if the house itself still exists. Which is not always the case: the GI student housing in Santa Barbara was gone shortly after Dad finished the graduate level program at UC-Santa Barbara in the mid-1950ies. I have no notion of where to even begin looking for the house in the backwoods of Beverly Hills (yes, Beverly Hills does, or did have a backwoods, per se.) With unpaved roads, even, although it probably isn’t the case now. The White Cottage at the corner of La Tuna Canyon and Wheatland in the Sun Valley end of the San Fernando Valley is still there, although it looks as if the massive sycamore tree that shaded half of the back yard is gone, and La Tuna Canyon road has been widened and had sidewalks installed, so the fence line has been moved back. I can “walk” up the half-mile of La Tuna Canyon to Vinedale Elementary. The shapes of the hills looming over the canyon, as it funnels back into the Verdugo Hills are still familiar. Many of the roads which ran back from La Tuna Canyon were unpaved then – they’re paved now, it seems.

Mom and I, on the front porch of the GI Bill Student Housing

The next house, which I always thought of as Redwood house, was at the corner of Hillrose and Rosetta, at that corner of Shadow Hills which touched the edge of Sunland. Again, a dirt road, and lines of olive trees which had once been part of an olive orchard. That house is long gone – it was where the 210 Freeway drops down into Big Tujunga Wash, halfway between the Ralphs’ on Foothill Boulevard, and the fire station on Wentworth. I can “walk” from Sunland Elementary to Olive Grove and up a block to Hillrose … and that’s where the road ends, at a chain-link fence overlooking the highway.

Redwood House, from the hillside below

The house after that, the second house on the left up Cedarvale from Estepa, was curiously only a stone’s throw from the White Cottage, geographically. Not by road, though – it was a drive of at least half an hour between the two, going around through two different canyons. It’s been remodeled, extensively from when we lived there, and the new owners cut down most of the trees around the house. We liked the trees for the shade, but now the view is spectacular, or so I can judge from street view. The pool is still there, but I can’t see if the well still exists. There was a small spring/seep in the hillside, and a small well which never dried out entirely. I lived there from the age of sixteen, until I enlisted in the Air Force. My parents sold that house when my youngest brother finished high school and decamped to Northern San Diego County.

In the driveway of Hilltop House: Little Brother, Dad, the family station wagon and Mom.

I think the barracks where I lived at Misawa AB is gone; that whole base was revamped when the F-16 wing moved in. I can’t even begin to find building in the R housing area, out the POL gate where I rented the little sliver of apartment. That whole area has been revamped. The Wherry duplex in the enlisted housing area at Mather AFB where we lived for a year – that’s all gone. It looks like all very upscale condos, now. That was a very bare-bones kind of place; conblock walls, industrial linoleum on the floor, and metal cabinets in the kitchen. I had no furniture other than a rattan rocking chair, a couple of book cases, and my daughter’s crib when we moved in, but by the time we moved on, I had managed to purchase a single arm chair, an upholstered small sofa, a round wooden table and two chairs. There was a trailing rose bush by the front door. The housing office inspector gave me grief for trying to train it up the porch supports. This experience and the chore of cleaning that place before checking out of that base cured me of any desire to live in base housing. Uncle Sam is a sucky landlord.

The barracks at Sondrestrom AB in Greenland is still there; they’ve jazzed up the grey concrete slabs with red and white stripes, and green paint, and put a modernistic entryway to what was the dining facility; not much has changed with all that, at least on the surface. Looks like there are some restaurants, and a B&B, but the general aspect is still gritty grey dust, and bare rock mountains looming above. As we used to say grimly to each other: it’s not the end of the world, but you can see it from there. In the winter – when it was midnight-dark for most of the day with perhaps a pale twilight at mid-day, it was an amazing and unearthly sight; to come down the hill from the AFRTS station, and see the whole base lit by glowing yellow lights. In the dry arctic air, the vents from the buildings filled the head of the fjord with billowing golden clouds of water vapor.

For three years after that, we lived in a second-floor apartment on a corner in suburban Athens; a narrow balcony ran around two sides of the apartment, which took up the whole of a single floor, at the intersection of Knossou and Delphon.  From the windows on the street side, we could look out at the Saronic Gulf and the perfect triangular island of Aegina; it looks like they have built another three or four story apartment block across the street, so likely there is no chance of that same view from the apartment today. The little tile-roofed villa across the road in the other direction is still there, but the empty lot which was next door, in which an elderly man kept chickens and rabbits and a bit of a garden with lemon trees, has been replaced by another three or four story apartment block. But the building itself looks well-kept; whoever is living in the second-floor apartment has a series of nice plants in pots along the balcony.

Spain: the place where we lived the longest until we settled in Texas. I had no taste for a high-rise city apartment, which was all that was on offer, until the friend who was helping me house hunt said, “Let’s go see if there’s anything in San Lamberto…” This was a complex of duplexes and low-rise apartment buildings outside the city, which once had been American base housing, but now was in private ownership. There was an empty unit available for a reasonable rent, at the corner of what is now Calle Placido Domingo and Calle C. A ground-floor unit with a garden, and a shaded terrace. It is barely recognizable, now, although the two palm trees are still there and thriving. The new owners added a swimming pool, a small addition where I used to stack wood for the fireplace outside the dining area window, and a covered shelter for a car. The low wall and pillars are still there, but they have put in dark green fencing panels above, and the lawn looks a little better than when I lived there. My daughter went from kindergarten to the sixth grade in the time we lived there. I tried tracing the route that I usually drove from San Lam, past the Spanish regional airport to the Garripinellos gate, but again – too much has been changed. It used to be a narrow wandering country road; now there’s some fairly substantial interchanges.

The little white and grey house in the middle of the block of Jefferson between 36th and 37th was the perfect small house. I wish I could have owned it, so that I could have fixed it up properly. A perfect dolls’ house, with a big window on either side of the front door, and a long garden in back, with hedges so thick on either side that the lights of other houses could barely be seen in summer. Lilacs along one side, a row of apricot trees on the other, a bearing cherry tree, a shed where we might have kept chickens, a green lawn and a garden plot which I managed to rototill for two summers. In the spring, lilies of the valley came up at the edge of the front walk … we were there for two and a half years. The sun came up in the morning over the iron-grey wall of the Wasatch front, and in the afternoon, light poured in through the back of the house through an enormous picture window which gave on the yard. Paradise. I am still angry at the assignment detailer for my career field, who did not send me back there; this after hearing for years how they would reward you for years overseas by making certain that your last assignment before retiring was to the base where you most wanted to be. The house looks good, though: the present owner has taken down that cheap metal awning over the porch, and put in a planter and a new set of steps where the front porch used to be, and taken out the ragged hedge which formerly bisected the lawn.

The Jefferson St. House when I lived in it – in winter

Korea: a year in a barracks building, across the road from the Navy Club at Yongsan Army Infantry Garrison. It looks as if that building isn’t there, as far as I can see. The whole garrison has relocated to Camp Humpreys, but the Dragon Hill Lodge still exists, as a recreation center and hotel run by MWR. No luck in tracing anything of my route to work at AFKN, on the hill above the main PX.

The one home that I most deeply regret loosing was not a home which I lived, although my daughter did, during the year that I spent in Korea; that was Mom and Dad’s retirement place, the house that Dad first designed and oversaw building on a rocky knoll with a view down into the Guajito, in the hills above Valley Center, Northern San Diego County. They spent five years doing this, having initially expected to get it done in three, but had a marvelous time anyway. When we came home between tours in Spain (having saved the government a bomb of money through signing on to a second tour in place, so we had a free round-trip home as a reward) the house was coming down the home stretch, and we shared the RV with Mom, Dad, and their dogs. It was far enough along that we celebrated Christmas in the house, among the sheets of drywall stacked up in the dining are – drywall which Dad would teach me to hang and mud. Mom designed and laid out the garden – and when the house burned in the Paradise Mountain Fire in 2003, Mom and Dad moved into another RV on the site and built it all again, with improvements. (They hired out all the tough jobs that Dad had done, first time around.) We made a road trip from Texas to California most years. And then Dad died, suddenly in 2010. Mom didn’t want to leave the place they had shared, although … we all worried about her being there alone with the dogs. My youngest brother even brought up how risky it was, only to be slapped down. A few years later, his fears were realized when Mom fell and injured her back so severely that she was paralyzed from the shoulders down. Their house had to be sold, of course. My sister, who took over care of Mom, needed to have her own house renovated to accommodate a semi-paralyzed invalid. Originally, we were all four supposed to inherit a quarter share of it, and I entertained thoughts of buying out my brothers’ and keeping the property as a kind of family compound. Not to happen. I used the proceeds from the sale of my own California real estate to fix up the current Chez Hayes. Likely, I will never return to California. But I look at the view from the dead-end road past Mom and Dad’s house, and follow the dirt road back, looking at all the places that we went past, and think of the view over the Guajito, of how I would run on the dirt roads in the early morning, and the quail pattering through the thicket by the gate because Dad was in the habit of throwing out seed for them, the bends in the Woods Valley Road, the stench from the chicken farm at the foot of the last leg of road up to Mom and Dad’s…

It doesn’t look like the new owners have done very much, at least, not that we can see from the road view. But the owners of the next property over seemed to have established a nursery; greenhouses, and sheds and all. The previous owner of that place had let it go to wrack and ruin; basically returning to nature after the fire, save for messing around incompetently with an earth-mover on weekends – to the detriment of the watershed down into Mom and Dad’s driveway.

My daughter looked at the satellite view, and said, “Don’t say anything of this to Mom.”

No, you can’t go home.  

22. February 2020 · Comments Off on Flashy Himself – A Literary Diversion · Categories: Fun and Games, Geekery, History, Literary Good Stuff

So it took a link on Powerline last week to bring to my attention that George McDonald Fraser’s first Flashman book came out fifty years ago.

My, I don’t know how the time flies – but it does. I must have read the first couple of Flashy’s adventures sometime in college, shortly thereafter, and being quite the history nerd even then, they were rowdy enough, and amusing enough that I read most of the rest of them when they came out, even if I had to order them from an English book catalog when I was stationed overseas. I do remember very well reading The General Danced at Dawn, in the back of one of my more boring lecture classes at CSUN and nearly self-strangulating in trying to not laugh uproariously out loud. The professor lecturer would not have been amused – he was a medieval history expert with a thoroughly tedious interest in the most comprehensively boring of early dark age church confabulations and absent any detectable sense of humor.

My main regret as far as the Flashman series goes is that GMF never wrote of Flashy’s adventures in our own Civil War, which sounded from references in other books, as if Flashman conducted himself in the manner which we came to expect of him – that is, purely and basely devoted to the preservation of his own skin, while dodging, lying, fornicating and back-stabbing on battlefields spread across three continents, as well as hob-nobbing socially or sexually with all sorts of likely participants. As one early reviewer put it, Flashy saw 19th century history briefly over his shoulder as he fled down the corridors of power at high speed. His adventures in our very own Civil War would have been … interesting, although when I touched on this matter before, a reader pointed out that a) Flashy was a British officer and hardly gave a toss as to what we recalcitrant ex-Colonials got up to, and that b) that all our native ACW experts, amateur and professional alike would have made passionate objection to any error or omission, fancied or with historical backing that GMF might have worked into the plot. So, the effort wouldn’t have been worth the candle to him … although I and most of his fans would have loved to read it anyway. Just to see the process by how Flashy got suckered into participation by Abraham Lincoln, fought on both sides, and wound up being pals with George Armstrong Custer and well-acquainted with General Grant, and how many other Civil War notables.

I myself would have loved to see Flashy entangled in some kind of partnership with Elizabeth Van Lew, the Richmond spy queen, or perhaps a much deeper entanglement with Allan Pinkerton, of the national detective agency … it all would have been great reading, no matter how contentious the fallout might have been with Civil War historians. His take on Robert E. Lee and other Confederate generals would have been interesting, as well. Because GMF had the eye, an absolute gift for writing 19th century dialog, and loved history enough to go into the deep weeds about it all … and most of all, make it interesting to the reader. Pop media is not downhill from culture, it’s in a symbiotic relationship with it. One shapes the other, mutually.

The darkly appealing thing about Flashy is that as a character, he was blunt and unsparingly honest, especially about himself: coward, toady, professionally self-serving, enthusiastic fornicator, (rapist, also on one occasion), and all-around scummy character – and yet with pluck and luck, always coming up out of the sewer smelling like a rose. As well as being brutally honest about himself to himself, Flashy was also was also magnificently candid about a lot of other matters now held to be absolutely radioactive. And that’s a large part of his appeal. I rather suspect that GMF had a great deal of fun in writing Flashy as a character, kicking politically correctitude right in the shorts, over and over again.

And what a wonderful miniseries Flashman would be, supposing that GMF’s literary executors would allow the rights to be negotiated for it, and a producer had the budget and stones to do it right, covering Flashy’s eventful career. You’d likely need eight or nine seasons to do it all justice, filming in fabulous locations in Europe, the US, Russia, China, India, Indonesia and Africa, an international cast of actors buckling swashes right and left … it would leave Game of Thrones in the dust, for sure. Likely it would never happen, given today’s social climate – but it would be glorious. Oh, well – at least we have the books. Discuss as you wish.