Friday, June 22, 2018

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for June, 2018


I'm usually a pretty positive person. I try to look for the best in people and situations, and to look for the bright side even in the worst situations. Along this line, as a general rule I try not to be angry when I write my Ass Clown award posts - indignant, yes ... amused, sometimes ... outraged, perhaps ... but never outright angry.

Today, I'm violating my general rule.

I am furious and disgusted as I write this post to present the designation of

The Left-Cheek Ass Clown for June, 2018


to

The Entire United States Government


The award is deserved by the Legislative Branch for its unyielding hyperpartisanship (on both sides, but especially the Republicans), craven submission of duty to political self-interest, and fear of an unqualified and out-of-control president.

It is deserved by the Executive Branch for inept leadership based on blatant and outright lies, distortions, cherry-picked or invented "facts," 240-character bursts of anger and self-aggrandizement in place of coherent policy, and flagrant ignorance of history*. Note that the office of the Attorney General, responsible for executing the most awful and un-American policies in recent memory, is part of the Executive Branch. Note also that my earlier decision to present Donald Trump with a lifetime achievement award and remove him from eligibility for future Ass Clown awards does not disqualify him for participation in this group award. 

And it is deserved by the Judicial Branch, for its utter failure to provide sound legal review and oversight of the other branches of government, neglecting its responsibility to provide rational guidance based on the Constitution and established precedents in favor of a partisan desire to kick the governing can down the road and shove the responsibility back to lower courts.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, I'm really angry, and I'm presenting the Left-Cheek Ass Clown Award for June, 2016, to the entire United States Government ... which is occupying space the Founders intended to be occupied by rational human beings who actually cared about their nation and its place in the world. We deserve better.

Have a good day. Be angry. More thoughts tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday returns.

Bilbo

* Other than a detailed knowledge of everything done by President Obama, the undoing of which is the only demonstrable policy of the current administration.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Musical Monday


One week ago today we celebrated the birthday (in 1949) of appropriately-named ZZ Top drummer Frank Beard. Today, we fire up one of my favorite ZZ Top songs for Musical Sunday ... this week, because of yesterday's celebration of Fathers' Day, on Monday ...



Yes ... every girl is crazy 'bout a sharp dressed man. Believe me.

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Fathers' Day, 2018


If you were looking for Musical Sunday, don’t despair – because today is Father's Day and I have my traditional (and slightly updated) tribute to fathers today, you'll still get your poetry fix this week, just a day late.

Today is Fathers’ Day, the day we honor the man who contributed half of our chromosomes and many of the life lessons that shaped us into who we are.

Fathers don’t get the same degree of respect that mothers do. They work in design, rather than production, after all, and don’t earn the credit that mothers do for going through nine months of pregnancy followed by months of sleepless nights and years of worry. And truth be told, many fathers don’t earn that respect. For all too many men, fatherhood is an unfortunate side effect of good sex, and a child is an impediment to the enjoyment of life. For many men, fathering a lot of children by a lot of women is the imagined sign of a manly stud ... not of lives betrayed by a thoughtless ass who thinks with his man parts* instead of his brain and heart.

Luckily, though, there are many good men out there trying their best to be good fathers. It’s not an easy job, and not everyone is good at it** ... but fortunately, enough do.

I have often reflected back on the course of my life, and I've come to the conclusion I’ve been a better grandfather than I was a father. This is probably normal. You’ve seen more of life, and had more experiences – good and bad – to share. If you’re the grandfather, you get to be the gentle, wise, let-‘em-do-what-they-want fellow the children love to see, rather than the grouchy, tired father who has to put bread on the table, crack the whip, and enforce the discipline. You get all the joy of holding and loving the children with none of the negatives ... when the baby needs changing, for instance, there's none of that messy fuss - you just give her back to her mother. What's not to like?

I think that, from the father's perspective, we have our children too early in life. We're still learning how to be adults, and all of a sudden we're fathers, responsible for teaching our children all the lessons of life that we haven't even learned yet. Our children grow up as much in spite of our mistakes as because of our excellence in parenting.

When you get to be a father, you look at your own father differently. It was Mark Twain who supposedly once said, "When I was a boy of fourteen, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be twenty-one, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years."

It's true.

A good father, as I came in time to understand, is a gift beyond all price. The gold standard for fatherhood is, of course, my own father. He fought the Nazis*** in the skies over World War II Europe, ran his own business, raised four children and buried one, and cared for mom through the long years of misery as Alzheimer's gradually destroyed the mind of the dynamic and witty woman he loved. Dad left us three years ago, and I no longer get to hear his jokes and stories and learn the lessons he still had to teach, yet he remains the man to whom I owe whatever shreds of honor, decency, and ... well ... manhood that I can claim.

This was the man who took the war to the Nazis in 1944 ...


After the war, he turned successful businessman, running his own photographic studio and drawing the attention of the ladies ...


At the Mount Vernon Wine Festival in 2002, he was surrounded by admiring ladies (from left to right: our friends Susan and Nadja, granddaughter Yasmin, and Agnes) ...


With my brother Mark and I, on the occasion of Mark's retirement from the Navy (our brother Paul served in the Army, but wasn't able to be there) ...


And here he is in December of 2013 at his 90th birthday party in Pittsburgh, surrounded by the friends, fishing partners, and family members who came out to honor him in spite of some really ghastly winter weather ...


I'd like to think I made him satisfied, if not proud.

If you’d like to know more about the life of this wonderful man, you can read my remembrance here.

It's politically correct (bordering on mandatory) nowadays to say that a child can grow up just fine in a household with same-sex "parents," but you'll never be able to convince me that it's the same as being raised by a father and a mother who love each other, treat each other with dignity and respect, set a good example, teach their gender-specific life lessons, and subordinate their own dreams and desires to the momentous task of raising a brand new human being.

Have a good day. Honor your father. And if you're a father, be a good one ... preferably a better one than I was. Your children ... and indeed, the future ... are depending on you.

Come back tomorrow for Musical Monday, featuring ZZ Top. More thoughts then.

Bilbo

*  As Missandei would say. If you're into "Game of Thrones," you'll get it.

** As I have had the sad occasion to learn.

*** The real ones, the ones that murdered millions of innocent people and destroyed most of Europe, not the imaginary ones to which ignorant people in this country compare their political opponents.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Cartoon Saturday


No bad news update this week, but you can't get rid of Cartoon Saturday that easily. This week, in honor of the Trump-Kim summit that may or may not have been a train wreck ("we'll see," according to the Tweeter-in-Chief), I thought some cartoons about crash test dummies would be appropriate ...

What are artificial friends for? ...


This test is for the birds ...


At the crash-test casino ...


I think that's reasonable ...


Does he really need the stunt double? ...


It may take a while ...


Artificial Intelligence vs Natural Stupidity ...


Mr Pruitt steps in again ...


Crash-test teen ...


Sugar crash test ...


And so goes another Cartoon Saturday ... I hope you enjoyed it, and that it helped you get over your post-summit euphoria or horror, depending on your political orientation.

Have a good day and a great weekend. More thoughts tomorrow, on Musical Sunday.

Bilbo

Friday, June 15, 2018

Great Moments in Editing and Signage


Here we go again ...

Good for those chicken dinners when everyone wants a leg ...


This is a plus for aging ballroom dancers ...


I don't think it's a good idea to sound too desperate in your advertising ...


Don't hold back, Debbie - tell us how you really feel ...


Helpful if you want to do the Chicken Dance ...


It's a shame when a beloved family heirloom has to go ...


Editor looking for job - see page 10 ...


Not well enough, though ...


More proof that climate change is real ...


New photo editor wanted ...


And there you have it - the latest collection of Great Moments in Editing and Signage, just in time to prep you for Cartoon Saturday, coming tomorrow. More thoughts then.

Bilbo

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Poetry Sunday


Memories of summer ...

The Last Perfect Season
by Joyce Sutphen

No one knew it then, but that was the last
perfect season, the last time sky and earth

were so balanced that when we walked,
we flew, the last time we could pick a crate

of strawberries every morning in June,
the last time the mystical threshing

machine appeared at the edge of the field,
dividing the oats from the chaff, time of

hollyhocks and sprinklers, white clouds over
a tin roof. Everyone we knew was young then.

Our mothers wore dresses the color of
dove wings, slim at the waist, skirts flaring

just enough to let the folds drape slightly,
like the elegant suits our fathers wore,

shirts so white they dazzled even
the grainy eye of the camera when

we looked down into the viewfinder to
press the button that would keep us there,

as if we already knew that this was
as good as it was ever going to get.


Have a good day, and enjoy the summer while it lasts.

More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Cartoon Saturday


June grinds on ... however, because we have house guests visiting from Germany for the next few weeks and will be busy with tour-guiding and such, I won't have time to give you the usual roundup of bad news until things settle down. Just watch CNN and Fox to get your diametrically opposed views of the world, then head for the nearest bar to drown your sorrows. The news summaries will return at the end of June.

In my ongoing quest to tone up my aging body, I've started going to yoga lessons at our local rec center. As it turns out, yoga is a popular subject for cartoons, as we see in this week's selection of funnies ...

There's nothing like doing the "Downward Facing Dog" pose when your nose starts running ...


Seeing the true inner light, 2018-style ...


Cell phone yoga ...


I understand ...


Ahhh ... political yoga ...


I remember playing Twister back when my body could move in more directions ...


I understand this one, too ...


Yoga shampoo?


It's best to know the local rules ...


I'm over 65 ... this is a very good yoga pose ...


Have a good day and a great weekend. Poetry Sunday will appear tomorrow ... more thoughts then.

Bilbo

Friday, June 08, 2018

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for June, 2018


As you know, Dear Readers, every two weeks I whine about how difficult it has become to select a single Ass Clown awardee from the enormous numbers of candidates that are clamoring for attention in today's increasingly toxic political, religious, and social environment. Indeed, it has become so difficult that - today - I am taking the unprecedented step of announcing a three-way tie for the designation of

The Right-Cheek Ass Clown for June, 2018


The first co-awardee is:

Virginia Congressional Candidate
Nathan Larson


Mr Larson, who is running as an independent to represent the Charlottesville area, is an admitted pedophile who has bragged in website posts about raping his late ex-wife, and who created websites that served as gathering places for pedophiles and violence-minded misogynists.

The second co-awardee is not a person, but a thing:

The BCB Wall Breaker


This device, fawningly reviewed in this article from Fox News, is a cannon which fires ordinary projectiles such as water cooler bottles with enough force to blast through walls. It's being hyped as the latest solution to the plague of school shootings - equip each room with a cannon which can be used to blast an escape route for students trapped by an armed killer. The article doesn't discuss the cost of the cannon, but in a time when school budgets are being relentlessly slashed, it seems like an odd thing on which to spend scarce money.

And our third and final co-awardee is:

"Prosperity Gospel" Televangelist
Jesse Duplantis


Mr Duplantis made news this past week when he asked his followers to contribute about $54 million to help him purchase a new airplane - his fourth - to spread the gospel to as many people as possible. Duplantis says he needs the new airplane, rather than any of his current ones, because

"... a brand new Falcon 7X ... can go anywhere in the world, one stop ... And if I can do it one stop, I can fly it for a lot cheaper, because I have my own fuel farm. And that’s what’s been a blessing of the Lord."

Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once opined that God is dead. For people like Mr Duplantis, scamming money from their shearable flocks, God is bread.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Readers, our co-awardees for the dishonor of being named the Right Cheek Ass Clown for June, 2018, are Nathan Larson, the BCB Wall Breaker, and Jesse Duplantis. Perhaps a large enough version of the BCB Wall Breaker might be used to propel Mr Duplantis at a fraction of the cost of a new Falcon 7X luxury jet ... it worked for generations of people shot out of cannons at circuses.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday. More thoughts then.

Bilbo

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Magic Words


Magic words and incantations are a staple of fairy tales, fantasies, and horror stories. They are the words that give mystical powers to those who say them, or call up arcane forces for good or evil. You know some of the classic magic words:

Abracadabra (a version of this, avada kedavra, was the Killing Curse, one of the Unforgiveable Curses, in the Harry Potter stories)

Shazam

Open Sesame (used by Ali Baba to open the cave of the 40 Thieves)

Sim Sala Bim (from the TV series Johnny Quest and the film Oz the Great and Powerful)

Alakazam

Oo ee oo ah ah ting tang walla walla bing bang (from the 1951 song “Witch Doctor”)

And the ones our parents (well, mine, anyway) always wanted us to use: Please and Thank You*.

There are also the evil incantations, such as H.P. Lovecraft’s unpronounceable "Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn."

Of course nowadays we’re pretty sophisticated, and we know that there aren’t any real magic words, right?

Wrong.

We use powerful incantations, and experience their use upon us, every day. The most widely used and powerful of the modern incantations is

National Security, which can be used to justify almost any action, no matter how unconstitutional or unconscionable.

Other powerful incantations, capable of clouding the mind and judgement of those who don't think for themselves are:

Fake News, which, like The Shadow, has the power to cloud men's minds.

And

Second Amendment, used to dispel and confuse arguments about ways to reduce gun violence in America.

Magic words and incantations are real, and are being used on us every day. What other examples do you see? Leave a comment.

Have a good day and protect yourself against political enchantments. More thoughts coming.

Bilbo

* If you watched the old Captain Kangaroo show, you know his magic words were "abracadabra please and thank you."

Monday, June 04, 2018

On Being Patriotic


A few days ago I went out with Agnes on a field trip to her favorite crafts store ... after all, someone needs to mind the cart while she ponders the difference between six different shades of blue fabric, right?

Anyhow, I took notice of the store’s large displays of decorations for the upcoming Fourth of July holiday. Great piles of red, white, and blue bunting, flags in all sizes, fierce-looking eagles, Gadsden flags, and dozens of different sizes and styles of signs shouting the single word “freedom” - everything you need to decorate for Independence Day in true American style.

But it just doesn’t seem to ring true, somehow.

Make no mistake: I am a proud American and I love my country ... at least, I love the America that used to be where some other strange country is now. I’m embarrassed by ostentatious displays of “patriotism” purchased at the local crafts store and unsupported by the actions of a thoughtful, well-informed citizen. Here’s what I think:

It’s not “patriotic” to worship the Second Amendment if you ignore all the other ones.

It’s not “patriotic” to believe freedom of religion applies only to those who worship like you do.

It's not "patriotic" to believe freedom of speech doesn't apply to those whose ideas differ from yours.

It’s not “patriotic” if you believe that people of the other political party hate America.

It’s not “patriotic” if you believe the borders should be hermetically sealed to keep others from aspiring to the American dream*.

It’s not “patriotic” to fly the Confederate flag, the Gadsden flag, or any flag other than the Stars and Stripes.

It’s not “patriotic” to demand your rights and ignore your responsibilities.

It’s not “patriotic” to insist on your right to carry weapons everywhere you go unless you’re also willing to enlist in the armed services to defend your country.

It’s not “patriotic” to complain about your government if you didn’t vote.

As we get ready to celebrate Independence Day, be a real patriot. Don’t be an empty-headed, flag-waving poser.

Have a good day. More thoughts later.

Bilbo

* This does not mean that crossing the border illegally is okay - it's not. What it means is that we need to get rid of a feckless Congress that doesn't have the guts to enact rational immigration laws for 21st century America.