Monthly Archives: March 2017

if we were having a beer or golfing


If we were having a beer we could talk history , or we could talk weather , or we could talk beer . We could talk sports , but it would be a short conversation . I don’t follow sports , I will admit . I feel un-American , at times , because of that fact , and possibly even a bit of an alien mole hiding  within the male universe . But , hey , it is what it is .GOLFER m

Now that we’re on the subject of sports for a moment , and not beer , let me drop a couple of bits of information about my experience with golf .

I don’t remember knowing any golfers when I was a kid . Oh , yeah , President Eisenhower golfed . But , after all  , Ike was the President . President’s golfed . Millionaires used to have strings of polo ponies . But them were them and us were us . We California  kids back then  played baseball , football , and basketball , we swam and some of us surfed , and we didn’t know anything about soccer , or polo , jai lai , or golf . We played handball , too , the kids’ version with the big red rubber ball , and hula hoops for a couple of years , and we threw  plastic Whammo boomerangs around , and we played dodgeball with varying degrees of viciousness . But not golf .

So ,  several years back , a friend of mine at work talked me into heading out to the driving range with him . He and his wife and I took a couple of lessons at Griffith Park . Then I got the prized  invitation to join the golfers from work for a game .BOSMAN

To make a long story short , I didn’t read the signals carefully enough . Golf is a serious enterprise to golfers . I mean highly serious . When I admitted that I hadn’t been practicing at the range that week ………………. I mean , the stern looks I got could have stopped a city bus . I was told to hit that driving range multiple times per week , and that admonition was not negotiable .GOLFER f

I had started out with buying two or three old clubs at the Salvation Army Store , and a well-worn golf bag . I was ready !

I was at the driving range one day , knocking that little puckered ball out onto the grass , when the end of my club broke off and flew out farther than the golf ball . The man in the booth announced my innovation to the proceedings over the loud speaker and  stopped the other golfers while a grounds person went over to retrieve the end of my club. I returned the looks of my fellow practicers with grace and dignity . Odd things happen sometimes. Maybe none of them had seen this happen  before ; but it happened . Deal with it ! That’s the message I was sending  with my reassuring smile as I looked these people in the eyes , one at a time and as a bunch .

I took a golf lesson , once , several years ago , in Poland . It was my first intro to playing the game .The golf pro teacher had spent some time in USA .

” You used to play baseball , ”  he said to me , out of the blue .

” Yeah . ”

” Golf isn’t baseball , ” he said . ” A baseball swing won’t work . “Taft golfing

My brother , Tom , who was a golfer , felt sorry for me with my second-hand clubs . He offered me a great set of Ping clubs . He was upgrading his set . Suddenly I had the proper tools of the trade so that I could appear to be a golfer . I played a few games with my work buddies , but I didn’t seem to improve much at all , and they lost interest in letting me string along . I just didn’t take the game seriously enough for them , and I was told rather inelegantly to bug out . I was told to hit that driving range until I worked my skills up to their level before they’d consider letting me rejoin their little golf group.

Maybe you think I’ll say that I was devastated , depressed , deeply insulted in face of this snub  . I wasn’t . It was , by that time , pretty much a mutual decision . I had some misguided notion , starting out ,  that I’d be playing primarily for fun , but  there’s a lot more to the psychology of golf than merely knocking a little ball around with a bunch of people wearing special shoes just for the fun of it .

The world’s problems are discussed , I guess , on the links ( along with handicaps and golf scores and pro golfers ) .  That’s why our presidents all seem to golf , I suppose  . Solutions to giant enigmas are , no doubt , hashed  and re-hashed as Mr. President , whichever one it may be at the time , putts and drives and tests the wind direction .

Or , maybe on the other hand ,  these important people just make competitive bets with one another as my buddies did , sulk after  bad golf days , and trade quickly -counted stacks of cash payoffs after the game while drinking  cold beers and munching on  spicy chicken wings in the clubhouse bar .WILSON

I briefly considered making a plan to join these guys in the clubhouse during  beer time , but since I wouldn’t have  contributed to the green fees , I think , they probably would have given me  the evil eye , as if I had crashed an exclusive party . I  anticipate a  low tolerance for non-golfers attempting to lift a carefree pint when carefully counted losses are changing  hands . That’s important stuff . The fate of the world could depend on it . bb 12


Filed under humor

danny boy

st pat 1 shamIt’s almost Saint Patrick’s Day , so I thought I’d write an Irish-themed post . It revolves around an old memory of mine from childhood dredged up again from the distant past . In the endless swirl of all the stuff I forget , short term and long term , the bits of this memory have stayed with me .

I should mention , perhaps , to better establish my credentials as a true Irishman , albeit foreign born , that  the Consul General of Ireland called me last week .

I had called the Los Angeles consulate to request an application for an Irish passport . No one answered the phone over there at the consulate , so I left a detailed verbal message requesting a passport application . I figured that  I might be taking Metro downtown in a couple of days , walking over to the consulate , and picking up the application .

I answered the phone , which is something I do less and less these days . I thought it would most likely be a contractor trying to drum up some work , or a solar energy company telling me I’d been chosen for some exclusive program , or , just maybe , the phony IRS agent threatening me again with legal action . Once this year I answered a call and was informed that I’d won two million dollars and  a new Mercedes . Well , as it came out in the conversation ten or fifteen minutes later , I would have had to send in $200 immediately in order to claim my prize . I asked if he could just , maybe , send the Mercedes around ASAP  but he ignored my question .

Ah ! I was so close to Easy Street ! So close .

One of the clues that gave away his scam , though , was that he said repeatedly that he was based in Missouri , but he pronounced the state’s name as “Misery”. I suppose that’s how it’s pronounced in Nigeria .  Although much more appropriate a description , given the situation , I told him at the end that he was a lousy scammer . No , I don’t mean a lousy dirty no-good parasitic scammer ( which , of course , he was ) , but  that , as a scammer , he was no damn good at it .

That’s when he started swearing . I had injured his fragile scammers’ pride , I guess . He had been thinking all along , obviously ,  that he had had me squirming on the hook all along  despite my exaggerated reactions to the spurious news about my fantasy winnings .

He was a lousy swearer , too , by the way .

Anyhow , I picked up the phone a few days ago , against my better judgment ,  and said hello .” This is the Consul General of Ireland ,”  a baritone voice  said .

His Irish accent  was authoritative  exactly as  a general’s voice should be . I was impressed that the Consul General of Ireland himself had called me.

I thanked him for the call and explained that I had contacted the Consulate in San Francisco on their website , and that they had sent me an application . It had arrived in the mail just that morning .irish caricature (rude)

” Then you’re wasting one of our times , ” he said .

I thought , well , he’s Irish , and this might be the beginning of a conversation . Surely he was joking , making a light -hearted comment ;  but  he wasn’t . I knew that he wasn’t on or around the moment that he hung up the phone and left me there in my living room with my phone to my ear deciding  that he had got out on the wrong side of the bed that morning  . He apparently hadn’t  taken his Ebullient pill that morning either. Or neither .

But this trivia has  very little to do with the  intended aim of this post , so let’s let the Consul General and all the scammers in the world  wallow in the mire of their cheerlessness  and we’ll move on . And please don’t distract me from the increasingly  fleeting and skittishly fragile focus of this  hocus pocus  post .

This particular post has more to do with Conway Twitty than with the Consul General of Ireland so , as I say , let’s get on with it :

One Christmas , when I was a kid , my Irish grandmother gave me a 45 recording of the Irish song  ” Danny Boy ” .  It was a big deal for her , and she wanted it played , like right now . I was about seven or eight years old , I guess . My mother had a HiFi that played  45s . It was all very dramatic , I recall , as someone got the record player and we all waited to hear what would play . My grandmother waited , I realize now , expecting lovely Irish tenor voices to sing Danny Boy .

Oh Danny Boy (Irish tenors )

Everybody and their brother has done a cover of Danny Boy . Elvis sang a version . So did Johnny Cash . Joan Baez sang a nice version . Bing Crosby sang the song , of course . I ‘m not sure about Dylan , though , or his brother , for that matter .

My grandmother had , unfortunately for her peace of mind , bought me a version of Danny Boy sung by Conway Twitty . Conway Twitty was an Elvis -era rock and roller from Mississippi . Conway Twitty had 55 number 1 hits during his career . I’m not sure that Danny Boy was one of those hits . Most likely not .

So we had the 45 player set up , the record placed , the needle carefully set down , and there in the living room some of us  were  ready for a sweet Irish lullaby  . Danny Boy was written by an Englishman in Bath , by the way , in Somerset in 1910 . The writer used a traditional old Irish tune and wrote his own words . There is some question about what the whole song means . It’s sentimental , at any rate . The Irish love it .

The great Gaels of Ireland are the men that God made mad , for all their wars are merry and all their songs are sad .     –C.K.Chesterton

Well , Conway Twitty wasn’t exactly what my grandmother had in mind to sing Danny boy . ” That’s not it !  That’s not it ! ” she kept repeating . She was mad , in the anger sort of way . As I look back on it , I guess I don’t blame here , really . Conway Twitty may not be every grandmother’s cup of tea .

(  Conway Twitty version of Danny Boy )

I didn’t care much for the Twitty rendition of Danny Boy , either , but they say every cloud has a silver lining . The reverse of the record had a song that I quickly decided that I loved : The Battle of New Orleans , sung by Johnny Horton .  It had been written by a schoolteacher who called himself Jimmy Driftwood . He had written it , and other songs , with the idea of inspiring his students to become interested in history .

I spent much of my life teaching history , so I suppose that I should pass along a little thank you to Jimmy Driftwood and Johnny Horton and , of course , to my grandmother . The present  wasn’t all a terrible disaster , I suppose .ST PATS DAY


Filed under humor

my tv

Wikileaks is releasing classified information about how the CIA does its work . There has been a lot of talk about Samsung TVs , how the CIA can listen in even if the TV is turned off .

I have a Samsung TV . I’m not sure how smart it is , though . The CIA , I heard , monkeys with Samsung smart TVs . I’m glad , in a way , that this story broke , because for a time I’ve had my suspicions .

All I know is that my TV has developed a buzz over the last couple of years . Now I know that the buzz is , most likely , clear evidence that the CIA is listening in . I think that they messed up , however , because I can overhear voices within the works of the TV. CIA voices , maybe .  They’re encrypted , unfortunately , so I can’t decipher individual words .

TV in Poland , by the way , has some weird stuff going on , too . Polish TV stations broadcast plenty of American sitcoms . I can hear the English dialog , but not loud enough to understand more than one or two words every few minutes . I listen very carefully , thinking that I will be able to follow the dialog ;  but , no . Meanwhile , a monotone voice reads all the parts in Polish . The whole process reminds me of my TV noise .Poland 2016 art etc 053

I can’t comment on any other countries . I don’t watch TV anywhere else . Maybe all the international spy agencies are hiding in  TVs all around the world . It’s part of what they call cyber warfare , I think .

So now I have to worry about my TV  eavesdropping on me . What about the radio ? If I had a smartphone  then of course I’d know that that sneaky device is constantly spying on me . We’ve all known that about smart phones for years , though , haven’t we !

What is more worrying than the CIA stealing my secrets is that every large corporation in America knows more about me than I know about myself ( because I forget some of it as time goes along but their data bases don’t ) . I don’t imagine that the CIA sells my secrets to others , for example to the FBI or to the FSB , to the IRS or to Mi6 , but  of course  the corporate entities, on the other hand ,  trade my info all over the globe so that now cruise lines and pill makers , food merchants and furniture producers , electronics sellers and pet food places , grocery chains and just about everyone else knows all about me .Yard and Mayor's breakfast 005

I guess that I just have to not let it bother me . Instead of worrying about that kind of stuff , I could worry about earthquakes . Scientists are , as always , predicting  ” The Big One ” happening any day now here in California . The newspaper last week said it would most likely be centered up north from here .

Today however , there is a story about a long earthquake fault near the coast from Los Angeles all the way down to San Diego . I’d  better stock a few more gallons of water and energy bars and double- check that I’ve got that wrench ready  to turn off the gas . And I should check my ammunition , too ,  of course . This is a dog-eat-dog , every man ( person ? ) for himself ( or herself ) world . There’s carnage all over , I heard from the POTUS , in this country , and the barbarians are at the gates . Best be ready to defend ourselves .

Forget smart phones and smart TVs .    Maybe , to save civilization , we should make contact with some smart human beings . I’ll  talk to my TV about it . We’ll see what the CIA and I can come up with . They must have a list .


Filed under humor

the cat

I was talking to Cosmo today . She’s been in a weird mood lately , eating grass and howling a little more than  usual . She’s a cat who likes to talk on a daily basis , but lately she seems to be complaining  . I don’t understand cat lingo so much , so I don’t pick up on the nuances .

Ada might be able to help , but she’s away for the time being . Ada is  more of a cat person than I am . She knows what cat blinks mean , for example , and stuff like that . Oh , yeah . When your cat looks you in the eye  and blinks it sure does mean something .

Ada told me , of course , what a cat’s blink means , but I can’t remember right now exactly what it was she said . I think she said that it means that the cat loves whomever it blinks at  , but it might be , conversely , that  the cat is issuing a stern warning of some sort . The day you don’t feed me will be the  day when I  will drag my gooey pooey bottom all over your glistening  hardwood floor ?  Something like that , perhaps . Or some hidden message about an anonymous feline creature possibly peeing one otherwise carefree pleasant day on the sofa cushions ?  Again .    I don’t know .

I took Spanish in school , but maybe I should’ve taken Cat .cosmo in box 2

Anyway , Cosmo has a digestion problem , evidently  , which  may be a result of the long ago coyote attack  which she experienced which she  almost didn’t survive . We therefore have to give her a bit of slack , in my opinion , when she pukes on the floor , which she does fairly often , usually in the morning . I get to clean it up , usually , and I really don’t mind . Better , in my way of thinking , than carrying a sack of dog poop around the neighborhood every day as I would have to do if we had a dog instead of a cat  . Sorry , dog lovers , but that’s my opinion .

So , now  Cosmo is sleeping here next to me on the sofa . She snores , but she isn’t snoring at the moment . She’s got a cosy little place to live ,  to sleep in and to wander around  in this little house , if you ask me , and I think that , underneath her natural catty haughtiness and devil-may-care demeanor , she knows it .thanksgiving-goes-crazy

Maybe I’ll tell Cosmo when she wakes up that we’re considering getting a dog . Shake her up a bit . Turn the tables on her .  I know darn well that she understands English .

Well, on second thought , she’d get even , and that might well involve deviously -placed poop and/or cat pee . I better not .


Filed under humor