Monthly Archives: December 2015

with any luck ( not )


painters 002Gary Powers , pilot , shot down over Soviet Union in 1960 in a U-2 spy plane . He survives the crash .

Leon Praport  , holocaust survivor from Poland , emigrates to Israel and then to the USA .

getty museum 007IMG_3077

Gary Powers , then a newsman in L.A. , covers a brush fire in the local foothills in 1977 and that day his helicopter crashes  ,  killing himUtah trip 020100_2559100_1839IMG_3088 .

alley walk Arcadia 045Picture 078I_Lost_My_Job_TodayIMG_2675Praport , visiting from New Jersey , rides Angels Flight, ” The Shortest Railway In The World ” ,  in L.A.  one morning . One of the two funicular cars breaks loose and hurtles Praport to his death in 2001 .


And you wonder why these pictures don’t match the story .

local mountains 001Things sometimes just don’t seem to make sense .

santa plastic 001

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Ah ! Socks ( and rugged individualism )

Socks . It’s not one of the Republican campaign issues as far as I know . Not a Democrat issue either . Not even Bernie Sanders mentions socks . What , then , socks don’t matter ?

I have one pair of socks that I bought in 1982 . It’s thick grey wool , warm , comfortable . I bought three similar pairs back then and I paid seven bucks for them .

Over the years the washing machine hid one or two or more of the socks , and a few more wore out . Old age . I am left with one surviving pair .

The damned things are older than many of the people I know . But don’t tell anybody that . I think it might make them feel uncomfortable . Hell of a thing , I would think , to hang out with some guy who has socks older than you are .

Like my old friend ( my age ) Ivan said about twenty years ago about the two of us : ” They look at us like we’re old grey monkeys . ”  Who knows what part of what conversation that was part of . I remember the expression, though ,  because I became aware at that moment in time that we old grey monkeys don’t feel like old grey monkeys most of the time . That’s the joke life likes to play on old grey monkeys  . Very funny .

But , let’s talk about socks . I was reading my friend Dan’s blog post about socks , and again I was inspired by his thoughts, this time  on the topic of  socks .Poland marathon run 014

I’d like to hear , maybe , Donald Trump expound upon the subject of socks . Good , warm , comfortable socks ! Does What’s-his-name Cruz have at least a few pair of good warm wool socks ?  What’s his oldest pair of socks ?  How about that young other Cuban guy’s socks situation ? Mario ? No , Marco . Well , I don’t think he is even in the socks competition . But I bet Rand Paul has a few old pairs of warm socks tucked away somewhere .

And on the Democratic side ? Bernie Sanders may or may not have a few pair of thick woolies packed back in a closet or a drawer ready for a cold spell . He’s from Vermont , after all , isn’t he ? But Mrs. Clinton ?  I doubt it . I could be wrong , though . But I doubt it .

And how about all those other wanna-bees , you may ask ? Who knows ? I doubt very seriously whether any of the ones I’ve heard of have the gravitas to recognize the importance of a good pair of socks . Well , if you pointed it out to them they’d expound upon it , no doubt , at length and surely with pretend passion . But , I’d ask , why haven’t  they talked about the subject yet ? It’s not important to them ?

I ask you people : Do we want someone who talks only to the cliche topics , who addresses only the bandied-about issues so relentlessly propped up by corporate media outlets and corporate lobbyists and fear-mongering gurus and biased billionaires ?  Shall we be slaves to the numbing blare of mindless dumbed-down public chatter ? Or shall we have , rather , representatives who are not afraid to discuss real topics that thinking people  care about , such as the high price of a good pair of wool socks ?

Maybe it’s just me . After all , I realize that there’s not much to fear from socks , one way or another , I suppose . Socks won’t , then , become a real topic of political discussion . I guess I should just hold my tongue about the socks issue , which , by the way , I have not yet begun to even scratch the surface of ( or,  of which my literary friend Joe would suggest I say , more properly , something like:  ‘of which to scratch the surface …..’ )

I was reading about the issue of corn ethanol in Iowa . It’s not a big issue in Iowa these days , I read in the newspaper . Cruz hates the idea of mandating more ethanol in automobile fuel . Iowans don’t really give a tinker’s damn about it , either , any more , according to the report . Environmentalists , I guess , don’t much like ethanol in the gas  either, anymore  . I guess I’m confused about the whole thing . Hard to figure out what the Koch brothers , who own most of America , think about it  , too . Don’t they own most of the the corn fields these days ? Or was that Ford Motor Corp . ?

But , of course , the Koch brothers  don’t like any regulation . They are good ol’ American rugged individualists , I suspect , who don’t own , probably , even one frayed pair of old socks between them . That makes me wonder , and worry,  about the future of America . Socks, I think ,  are the foundation of the whole thing , yeah ?

Author’s note : ( Instead of ‘whole thing’ in the last sentence , I almost said “whole shootin’ match “. But that’s a whole other subject best left for another time  )socks







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merry christmas

Our Christmas tree is decorated in a retro style , thanks to our chief decorator , Ada . The fuzzy cloth under the tree is a bit kitchy , but it fits the theme very well , I have to admit .christmas tree 1

Oh well , we couldn’t find the more sedate and sophisticated cloth we usually use . It’s somewhere in the garage , I guess . Maybe it’s making small talk with the boomerang that my father brought back as a souvenir from Australia when his ship stopped there during WWII .christmas display

I haven’t seen that boomerang in years , but I know it’s in there . That lost cloth might be reading my dream journal , the one that I wrote for awhile when I was a college kid but haven’t seen hide-nor-hair  of  for years . There are lots of other possessions of mine hiding in that garage . An old wind-up record player from the 40’s is in there still , I think . I know those items must all get together at times , to compare notes and to chatter a bit , killing time , no doubt also making fun of me for collecting so much stuff and then losing track of it .christmas nast cartoon santa

I haven’t seen any presents appear under our tree yet . I hope that there will be a few , but not too many . I’ve got everything that I want and I don’t need anything that I can think of . My mother used to say that all she wanted for Christmas is for everyone to be happy .  She would often add for emphasis , too , in case we six little monsters hadn’t got the message : “….and no fighting ! “x-mas card 1840

I had to go out this year and buy a new timer for the Christmas lights . Now the house has , in a sense , a mind of its own . Lights come on when they want and go off again later .x-mas

What I want for Christmas is a some kind of a timer for the rest of things . For everything , so that I can just sit here and relax .  Well , now that I think of it , I guess things happen on their own timers as it is now , anyway . My oven , for example , stops working all of a sudden and then starts again . World events begin and at some point are over with . Wars come and go . Enemies are enemies and then they become allies . Someone declares war on poverty , drugs , terrorism ,  etc. Meanwhile , Santa comes and then he’s gone as some people discuss a war on Christmas. How about a war on war ? Too controversial ?  Too passe ?manger

What I want for Christmas is , also , that everyone just be happy . Have a happy holiday season . Be merry . Good cheer !  Let the world’s timer take care of whatever it takes care of . You just relax , enjoy , celebrate . I’ll raise a glass of beer in your praise and honor for doing what you do . My old neighbor Don used to say to me : ” Just keep on doin’ what you’re doin’  ” , and so , this Christmas , I pass that bit of kindness along to you all .


…………………..and many happy new years !cnady cane


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joy to the world

I was reading the L.A. Times today . ‘Reading’  may be a bit of an exaggeration . Let’s say I skim it ,  reading  most of the headlines ; get a sense of what’s called news .

Today’s ‘news’ was all negative . All of it . Usually there is some human -interest filler , or some reporting on something positive in the world . Not today though .

Oh , first I should say ‘Merry Christmas’ !  Good luck for a happy new year , too , because it’s four days or so until Christmas .

I’m reading a book about John Dillinger . He was shot down on a Chicago street by G-men in 1934 . Thirty-one years old . He was known , at the time , as Public Enemy Number One . Had spent most of his life in prison .dillinger

A few days after his death , a nineteen year old in Los Angels shot a cop and yelled : ” I am the new Dillinger ! “No one , I suspect , had informed the young murderer about Dillinger’s having spent the majority of his life  in prison .

Seven years earlier , three eighteen-year olds in Arcadia , CA , were sentenced to life behind bars for having murdered an Arcadia police officer one night . They had been planning to rob a barbeque joint on a dusty corner at the edge of town one night when the cop approached the car they were sitting in and asked for license and registration .

There were other , more grisly murders happening around Los Angeles in those days , too . No need to go into any of those here . It’s Christmas time !    Now it occurs to me that King Herod was killing the new-borns way back at the first Christmas . There must be a lesson here , somewhere , about humans killing humans , but that’s not the point of this post , so I will move on .

And the world during the 1920s and 30s ?  Are you kidding me ?  Peace and tranquility ? Had I been reading a newspaper then , I probably would have been having the same feelings as when I read the L.A. Times nowadays . Al Capone , anyone ? The second world war was beginning to simmer , too .

But now I can also hook in to the world wide web and get a more immediate sense of how things are going . It may well be a skewed sense of things , but , nevertheless , immediate .

I hope that Santa will take care out there as his sleigh flies along . Lots of satellites will be tracking him , of course . I hope he has checked those helpers and screened that sack of toys . Hell of a thing if one of his reindeer has been radicalized . More likely possibility is that one might be Putin-ized , a Commie spy , slipping in over the frozen northern border at some point while  Santy was busy supervising the elves in the workshop . And who knows what the Chinese or the North Koreans might be up to !santa and kids

And , Jesus !  We won’t even discuss that matter at Christmas. Let’s not talk religion . Too complicated . We might get into arguments , when we discuss the Christmas story , about world-wanderers and refugees . Help them out ? Don’t help them out ?  Did we ever track , by the way , who owned that manger , anyhow ?  There must be a network we were previously unaware of . Must be someone’s fault ; someone was lying down on the job . We are all at risk . I suspect , on top of all that , that those so-called ‘wise men’ were Muslim .

So , this Christmas , peace on earth and joy to the world may be out . Before I declare that as a for-sure thing , though , I have to check Facebook and check  in with cable news . merry christmas cartoon



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one fine day

I am not superstitious .

I don’t care if it’s Friday the 13th . I don’t knock on wood . When I say “Bless you” after someone sneezes , it’s not to ward off the devil . I’ve never tossed salt over my shoulder . I wouldn’t even know when to do that . I don’t have a lucky hat , or shirt , or coin . I’m not superstitious . I might open an umbrella  indoors ( if it would ever rain here in southern California ) without thinking twice . My black cat crosses my path most weeks and I don’t worry . I walk under ladders from time to time .

Of course , as the old Irish woman said about leprechauns : ” Of course I don’t believe in them , but they’re out there just the same . ” I do believe in chance . As a student of history , I think events bump along mas o menos by chance . Most people like to fantasize that things  progress along a planned continuum , that world leaders  move history along step by step and humanity checks off the goods and bads as we all move along a pretty much orderly historical time line .  Study history because heaven forbid we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past , et al . ( Not sure what ‘ et. al ‘ means , but it sounds good to me right here ) . Some common beliefs ain’t so though .

Well , this post is about one lucky day in my life . Sorry about the long lead-in , but it couldn’t be helped .

I want to write about one day back near Thanksgiving. I know , it’s now Christmas time .  I had to wait awhile before I wrote this . Didn’t want to jinx it . You know how it goes .face of forger

Well , I think I’d mentioned in a previous post about our oven going out the day before Thanksgiving . We were able to use a neighbor’s oven to prepare for our little crowd of hungry guests on Thanksgiving . By the way , it’s quite possible to bake pies on a barbecue , if you do it right . Thought you might like to know , just in case . You should insulate them pretty well from the direct flame . It works , though .head of man held by fists

I decided to work on the oven a few days after Thanksgiving .   We have an oven built into a wall cabinet . I’ve worked on it before . I fixed the wiring on the back of it once upon a time a long time ago . I replaced a something-or-other inside the oven a couple of years ago . The part cost me $200 , but it was o.k. , because the thing started working again . I figured the wiring had somehow gone haywire this time again , so I would need to disconnect the gas and pull the oven out . Maybe I could determine the problem and fix it . You Tube would help .

I was clearing out the space below the oven , trying to figure out how to get better access to the electrical outlet on the wall behind the cabinet . I tapped the rear of the cabinet a few times to see if the wood panel  would come loose or be able to be removed without too much trouble . I gave it two tentative taps with a hammer .

The oven clock suddenly came on again . An oven light glowed . I tested the oven and it was working again .

It had given up so easily !  I know that it could guess that I’d be manhandling it for the next few hours , and it probably recalled previous sessions , and it just gave in and decided to work again . Appliances do that sometimes . I hadn’t even consulted my horoscope to determine the cusp of the moon , or whatever , to see if this would be a good oven-repair day . It was a miracle ! I don’t believe in miracles ; but they’re out there just the same .

Okay , but that’s not all . I heard the mail carrier ( our mailman ; but it could some days also be a mailwoman ) drop the letter in the slot about the time the oven kicked in . There was an envelope from the IRS . I don’t know about you , but I never like getting letters from the IRS .

I had been snail-mail arguing with the IRS for several months this year about how much money I should send them and how much I should get back from them . You may have noticed that they want their demanded money right now , but for them to send money to you , well , let’s take our time . No rush . They had demanded way too much money from me which I had been coerced into sending in order to avoid late penalties , etc. . My previous notice from them had said ” It’ll take at least another 45 days to process your inquiry . ”

45 days had come and gone by Thanksgiving . When I collected my mail on oven-fixing day , just after the oven miraculously started working again , there was another envelope from the IRS . Now what ?

They had put a government check in there . For me . For Ada and me . No explanation was included , but it was all of the money I’d figured that they owed me , plus $300 . I figured the $300 was for my heartburn and incurred mental anguish and  maybe also for late penalties that they had undoubtedly slapped us with  . That’s how the IRS works . They got Al Capone , after all , on income tax evasion ; not on murder , extortion , bootlegging , prostitution  , corruption , etc .

So , as we all know , good things come in threes . I should have bet on the lottery that day , say some of my friends . I was waiting for the # 3 , but I never recognized it . It must have come , though .

Ah , if I only still had my old rabbit’s foot ! Who knows what possibilities might lurk !


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conspiracy trouble



We were up on the mountain last weekend listening to the radio . A young woman droned on and on about all the conspiracies in America . For a small donation the radio station would send us a book that reveals the disgusting horrible truth about America . It would turn our world ( and our stomachs ) upside down .model hair down 1895

She was using her harpy voice . Maybe she was a pleasant sort of a person off the air , but had somehow cornered a harpy ,  beaten   the poor thing up , and stolen her voice . Thought , no doubt , that the grating sound would give her gravitas . Maybe a flustered station manager had told her to give the conspiracy show  her best shot , enhance her game , pull no punches , or else . Maybe the manager  had suggested the harpy-beating scheme . I don’t know .dancer tamar

My friend Bill had a woman living in his basement who thought Bill was sneaking in when she was out and shrinking her clothes .  She presented him with proof . Some of us wondered how exactly Bill was doing it , not being one especially adept in the  laundry , and why he didn’t stop . He was driving the poor woman crazy , and we had proof . Anyone meeting her could see the result of Bill’s dirty tricks .

I know for a fact that Ada goes around the house and hides my stuff . She denies it , of course , as all conspirators will , but that doesn’t make the stuff come back now , does it ?

My grandfather used to know people who  talked through their hats . I don’t know too many people like that . Of course , not many people wear hats these days .

Native Americans pointed out people , often government men , who spoke with forked tongues , and these forked tongues weren’t fashion statement tongues . These forked -tongued folk may also have been able to talk from both sides of their mouths at once . No doubt they were two-faced too .

I had a cousin who used to take lots of things with a grain of salt . A big smile , a kind word , and a grain of salt . He knew what was what .

I’m not sending a contribution to the radio station to get the conspiracy book . I don’t care about conspiracies . One could spend one’s entire life chasing conspiracies . There are  secret groups who want people to do that , perhaps because it keeps them from immediately fomenting violent Revolution .

I spent all of my cash, anyway ,  on wood planks and nails . I’m nailing myself into the house , door-by-door, window-by-window , crawl space-by crawl space . It’s the only reasonable strategy to stay safe these days  .

I’m not sure yet about the chimney , whether or not to nail that shut .  Santa’s got to get in somewhere . At least we can count on dear old Santa .santa and kids





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snowmen in arcadia


Christmastime  in Arcadia again , and the odd creatures come around once more to hang out on neighbors’ lawns . I wrote about one of these guys last year , a lazy bugger who collapsed on the lawn across the street  during the days . At night , every night , he got lit up . I thought for a long time that this slacker was a Santa Claus imitator , but Ada pointed out that it was , clearly , a snowman . Clearly . Sometimes , admittedly ,  I don’t take a good look at vagrants . I took a closer look and agreed with Ada , once again marveling at my langorous  powers of observation .

This year a strange looking bird showed up next door . He stands all day long and all night long on a corner of  my neighbor’s lawn , what’s left of the lawn , at least . I’m going to call the weird creature over there a snowman , at least until someone tells me different . SNOWman 007

We don’t get too many snowmen in Arcadia . Snowmen and oranges don’t seem to mix. Lemons do much better than snowmen in this town .

And Limes . My limes have been dropping off the tree and this is forcing me to make batches of Christmas ceviche . There’re  only so many limes that can be sliced and served with bottles of beer no matter what .  lemon.jpg

I will admit that I have an angel in my front yard , a flapping angel on a nylon flag . Angels and Christmas , right ? An angel announced the arrival of the child , I think .

I also have a candy cane . I’m not sure of the etiology of the Christmas candy cane . You may have noticed the neighbor’s snowman is holding a candy cane . Candy canes have something to do with Christmas . A friend gave us this candy cane several years ago , so I stick it out in front every year to show some Christmas spirit .cnady cane

I’m watching those Christmas visitors out and about the neighborhood . You know , the flock of strange figures who show up for the holidays and then are not to be seen again the entire year .  You know we always have to keep in mind the admonition : See something — Say something .  If I see any suspicious behavior by these Christmas creatures , this suddenly and suspiciously appearing   flock of refugees , then I’ll say something . First , I’ll say something to Ada , though , to see what she thinks . Maybe , otherwise , I’d be making a mountain out of a mole hill . 



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