Fortune Cookie Blog: Window Shopping?

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A scant stint of www window shopping led to a stunning revelation.
The MSRP for pretty stained glass windows can cost a pretty penny;
125K and, perhaps, even higher; and that particular lovely was used.
Let us pray we speaketh of a merchant / altruist who’s liquidating an
out of touch cathedral’s trappings; will redirect these proceedings to
homeless shelters/soup kitchens that nurture/nourish the estimated
154 million, tossed into the streets, Josephs and Marys, worldwide!!!

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That Other Pandemic

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Yesterday being Thanksgiving, my sibling and I (3220km/2000mi distant) chatted on our cells about this and that; one of those “thats” being the pandemic; however, not the one, one would expect.

Interestingly enough, of late, and unbeknownst to each other, we’ve both been wondering about how our own mother and father had managed to survive the global outbreak of influenza associated with the 1918H1N1 virus; that pandemic resulting in 50 Million deaths, worldwide and 675,000 fatalities right smack dab within our own U.S. homeland.

At the time, our folks would’ve been very young children; a demographic where the mortality had been especially high.

Anyway, we were both sorta shocked that neither of us could recall either of our ‘rents ever mentioning that deadly event, not even in passing. I did speculate that, perhaps, they’d been too young/carefree to fully grasp the seriousness of it all? Even so, what little we do know about our grandparents, they would’ve been sticklers about health safety; which only further complicates our unsolved mystery.

Even now, as I’m typing away in the wee hours of this post holiday Friday a.m. I’ve even begun to factor in our folks’ overly protective nature. Might they have been tight-lipped, oh, say, just to avoid needlessly frightening us?

Still, that hardly sounds like our dad, his being a man of science and a public school educator, too. One would’ve deemed him fully capable of presenting that global scourge’s particulars in a professional, detached manner.

On a semi-related matter, both mom and dad could talk endlessly about 1929’s Great Depression, so what gives re 1918? I dunno.

Well, seeing how you, my savvy readers, have likely already done the math and/or have judged from my selection of the English language tenses, you already know both our parents took any stories, they may have had, to their decades later graves.

So, needless to say, my sister and I will never really know.

However, perhaps, some of you might be able to help us sort thru that pandemic a tad more? Perchance, via the first / second hand accounts of your own grandparents / parents? Even if you cannot add any specifics, do you have any observations that are 1918H1N1 / pandemic related?

In either eventuality, the comment section awaits.

Oh, as a friendly footnote to our discussion of family matters, if there’s anything you’d like clarified about your own parents’ / relatives’ early lives (on any subject), do chat with them. There’s no time like the present. It might make for some fascinating remembrances getting bandied about your dinner table; a side dish, as it were, to your joyful, December holiday feasts.

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Happy Hollow-Days?

Prelude…

Ah, the time honored Holiday Traditions
Hitherto robust, cheery and tasteful
Nowadays busted, dreary and wasteful
Cannot live sans the former
Alas, must exist with the latter

No thanks, to the headless and soulless
Who only see convention in political rally terms
And contort holidays to conform to their flattened sphere
It begs a rundown of their rundown, festering festivities
Hence, this hammered down, Hollow-Days Roster

November…

Thanksgiving’s intent, once-upon-a-time pure
A day to display gratitude for each fall’s harvest
Yet, ’twas utterly corrupted by past, white man’s greed
Pummeled by Manifest Destiny’s – Genocide’s 1 – 2 punch
Left mass slaughter of Indigenous North Americans, in its wake

Today’s whites hotly deny critical thinker youths such truths
The uncouth fail to see how bygone mentalities of white men
Were precursors to today’s accursed; their MAGA-fest Destiny
Native Americans’ descendants sure to “NO” the RSVPs
Of white inviters, who’d have them over FOR holiday supper

December…

Christmas misbehavior; to upstage a dissed savior?
Sighing gifters hurriedly tack on / tuck in gift receipts
Wisely anticipate the ungrateful gifted
Ingrates neither gifted in smarts nor of wise disposition
All discourtesy of ass backward, parental rearing

Giftees offend gifters; greedily, rush mall-ward
Clutching shopping bagged gift rejects
Sweaty fingers and palms itching to parlay
Liberal return policies into pocketed stone-cold cash
Happy Birthday, Jesus?

December/January…

New Year’s Eve orgy
Animal House magnitude
Nude, drunken revelry
Resolutions Dead On Arrival
Long before each avowed recitation’s echo dies

New Year’s Day; morning after
Misery’s miasma; achy body; pounding head
Multiple over the bowl, beer belly evacuations
Hurled disgusting egesta
Along with epithet laced “never again” ruminations

February…

Valentine’s Day; Cupid’s arrow, awry
Finds deplorable cads ISO of (p)lay
Bamboozling; booze plying their prey
Despicably deeming victims altar sacrifice
Songsmiths asking, “What’s love got to do with it?”

Deep in rude dudes’ brain dead heads
Indecent proposals lead to “have-to” weds
Crossed fingers, behind backs, do back grooms’ “I dos.”
Divorce attorneys, so impatient, they consider
Tuxing up as groomsmen; gowning up as bridesmaids

May / November + July / September / February

Memorial / Veterans Days
Independence / Labor and Presidents’ Days
Original intent buried by a sundry of distractions
Picnics wallowing in fatty animal flesh; awash with stiff libations
Major league play by plays, parades and pyrotechnics

To Upstage Soldiers; valiant, selfless; both survivor and fallen
Marginalize Founders; devalue, their on paper, Democracy
Demean Workers: low paid, overworked, union busted, outsourced
Bastardize: The very Presidency a sitting prez attempted to topple
Ah, the mucked up, nouveau Hollow-Day traditions

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Offensive Fences and Walls

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One of my newfound WP compatriots employs a clever method to come up with a prompt word; i.e., to inspire some of his posts. He randomly selects and opens a book and, without looking, simply lets his extended finger land on the page!

Voilà, he’s found his “word”.

And on this new day, his prompt and now, mine too, becomes: Wall

For a left leaning man, such as I, there’s an instantaneous, free association with a freedom loathing X-prez who’s also an inveterate xenophobe.

As most of us are all too painfully aware, throughout his odious tenure, he was obsessed with making good on his bad (actually awful, deplorable) campaign promise of constructing a big, badass, electrified, spiked wall along the U.S. / Mexico border. And if memory serves, he also wanted to dredge out a moat, alongside, and stock that water filled barrier with fanged, venomous snakes and take-no-prisoners ravenous, carnivorous alligators.

Alas, memory serves well.

Long exasperated sigh.

Well, now that I’ve caught my breath, let’s let this wall issue promptly move our thoughts in a more humane direction…

Let’s address the defensive attitudes, which prompt people to erect invisible walls around themselves; just as formidable and impenetrable as the brick and mortar variety; the very type that get in the way of human understanding; the awareness that, deep down, most of us are more alike than different from one another.

The walls that inhibit problem solving, and, yes, even friendship and love.

Let’s deconstruct the word “defensive”, itself, right down to its root, “fense” and then sub in the letter “c”

Voilà, the word “fence” emerges; yet, another type of wall.

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Too Damned Much Too Damned Soon

On this day, I’ll be featuring an excerpt from my very first WordPress blog [6:56 am on March 3, 2016]; an account of a violent, deadly attack against Democracy; its severity matched only by al-Qaeda’s Tuesday, September 11, 2001 attacks in NYC, PA and DC and insurrectionists’ Wednesday, January 6, 2021 storming of the U.S. Capitol.

Indeed, you and I will be reliving vivid recollections, as seen thru a 9-year-young boy’s eyes (my own); reportage of a national tragedy which had forced me to face down too damned much age inappropriate content; to grow up too damned soon…

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I voted for John F. Kennedy when I was ONLY six-years-old!

Well… uh… sorta. Here’s what had actually happened…

After Mom had closed the voting booth curtains, hoisted me up to adult eye level and demonstrated how everything worked, she actually let me shift JFK’s lever down! My having done something so grown-up on Election Day 1960 had been a feel good, defining moment in my young life.

As I grew physically, so did my understanding of (and respect for) the immense leverage, which each of those tiny levers can exert in shaping our nation and world. Tragically, not everyone opts in to such a civilized, orderly process. Such was the case on…

November 22, 1963 ~ It had been a gray, overcast, rainy Friday. There had been no school for Sis and me (due to parent / teacher conferences). I was just finishing lunch when my sibling came rushing into the dining room. Still clutching her pocket-sized transistor radio, she blurted out…

“Somebody Shot President Kennedy!”

Mom, Sis and I quickly adjourned to the living room. Even before our Zenith TV’s B&W picture tube had fully warmed up, we could already hear one of CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite’s earliest bulletins.

As time came grinding down to a dead halt, we felt ourselves rapidly descending into the depths of our nation’s communal shock. There was little else we could do… save for waiting and hoping that our worst fears would not be confirmed. But…

The bad news just kept on spilling forth from our nation’s TV screens while Kennedy’s dream for the betterment of our national / global society, was hemorrhaging forth from his head wounds… dying along with this great man. Eventually, Cronkite had to choke back his own overwhelming sorrow as he reported…

“From Dallas, Texas… the flash apparently official… President Kennedy died at 1 p.m., Central Standard Time… 2 o’clock Eastern Standard Time… some thirty-eight minutes ago.”

And that’s the way it was… the feel rotten, defining moment in my young life. The President I had “voted” for three short Novembers earlier had been blown away.

Bullets… not ballots… had removed John Fitzgerald Kennedy from office and shot to hell my childhood innocence.

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One Step Ahead of the (F)law

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The stanzas, below, synopsize the core storyline of Roy Huggins’ brainchild; a.k.a. The Fugitive; the Sixties era crime / drama series; originally airing Tuesdays at 10 p.m. over the ABC-TV network; these days, episodes playing out on Mondays at the ungodly hour of 2 a.m. over the MeTV network.

By the bye, by poem’s end, do “stay tuned” for my, in standard prose, analysis of how and why, as a bygone kid, I could so readily identify with a grown-up, fictional fugitive from justice.

The Fugitive

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The off beaten path, Anytown homicide!
Doctor is shocked to learn his wife has died
Further stunned to be Cops’ suspect, prime
For, he saw Man, minus arm, flee the crime

While Doc can account, for his own whereabouts
His alibi, backed by none, stirs Cops’ doubts
With his fingerprints / mugshots now taken
He’s railroaded and feeling quite shaken

Soon at the mercy of hangman D.A.
And twelve jurors too easy to sway
The “Guilty!”, verdict the foreman doth state
Seals the Not Guilty. convicted Doc’s fate

Sentencing Judge prescribes chair with High Volts
But, train wreck derails plans; for Doc’s Death Row Jolts
Now, at large, he dyes hair, runs and hides
Flags down the buses, hops boxcars, thumbs rides

The folks he bumps into, wherever he goes
Also have down-on-their-luck tales and woes
Some shelter him well; others call cops to tell
He’ll pull up stakes, STAT; and then Run Like Hell

So, dual manhunts; daily duel, around the clock
Doc hunts down One-Arm; while Cop hunts down Doc
When clashes, face-offs oft go head-to-head
Who’ll get caught first? Who’ll live? Wind up dead?

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  • As a tween / teen I could readily relate to The Fugitive because Dr. Richard Kimble (actor David Janssen) and I were both misjudged and harassed; both on the run from bullies; him fleeing police Lt. Phillip Gerard (actor Barry Morse); I fleeing Elementary and Middle School classmates (bad actors all).
  • We both got morphed, against our will, into outcasts; forced into desolate, hopeless, social isolation.
  • Years later, when these 150 episodes got rerun in syndication. I began to better identify with Kimble’s palpable despair re his need to trade off his professional career (pediatrics) for menial, dead end, low wage, thankless jobs. After all, circumstances beyond my control necessitated deferring my own professional aspirations (broadcasting); to do my time in Retail Hell; a metaphorical death sentence, eventually commuted to 30 years.
  • Lastly, generally speaking, are not most of us doing our level best to stay one step ahead of that entity, akin to the relentless, death sentence enforcer Lt. Gerard; a.k.a. the Grim Reaper?

Beyond my above comparisons, we mustn’t overlook the simultaneous undercurrent coursing thru Huggins’ core storyline; which surfaces to serve as a consciousness raising message to society…

  • The Death Penalty serves no other purpose other than indulging the mindless vengeance of latter-day cavemen; (mis)leaders, (f)lawmakers and their birds of a feather constituents! Capital Punishment has no place within any aspiring to civility society.

At present 24 of America’s 50 states still endorse capital punishment; namely, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah and Wyoming.

All of which reminds the mindful…

How many of the convicted souls are absolutely innocent of all wrongdoing and, worse yet, how many have been put to death?

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Footnote: MeTV needs to reschedule The Fugitive to a prime time slot. While I’d watch this quality drama every day of the year, once per week would suffice to serve as a reminder to society that there’s still so much more of our work to do; so many wrongs we’ve yet to right.

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Disrepair

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When disunity, duplicity, incivility, irresponsibility overrule
Society falls into disrepair along these disappointing lines

Ugly voter suppression (f)laws enforce minority rule status
Empowers the power junkies who help themselves to more

Testy tyrants hose down their puny plots with testosterone
Sociopathic chickenhawks trigger no-end and no-win wars

Bullet blasting (not ballot casting) executes régime change
Perpetrated, perpetuated Big Lie lays waste to Democracy

Boneheaded, cultish, sycophantic insurrectionists run amok
Try, in 1 scant afternoon, to slay a 2½ century old Republic

Gun nuts shoot up school houses and houses of worship
Badged man’s bigotry / brutality targets people of color

Class warfare fattens the fat cats; flattens the proletariat
Welfare secured for the wealthy screws over truly needy

Non-living wage, no benefits, sweatshops harvest the poor
Human Resources Dept “Cafeterias” serve (up) hired hands

Nutritional and intellectual starvation drain body and mind
Every negative “ism” sows seeds of suspicion and hatred

Runaway greenhouse gasses render our Earth uninhabitable
A deadly, unbridled virus sucks all the air outta the “room”

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Bubbly Salutes

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A salute to whatever remain of our Earthly tomorrows
Even if this amounts to one; Only one; Just tomorrow

A salute to today; In the event tomorrow never comes

A salute to our ultimate reunion; be it
• Awash in some elemental oblivion
• Aglow within Heaven’s life eternal
• Afloat within uncharted nebulosity

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9 November 1973

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It all began en route to my Community College; in the thick of the Friday, 8:45 a.m., rush-hour traffic; the light snowfall just beginning to taper off.

My still harboring those typical, teenager delusions of invincibility and immortality, I kept on paying way too much attention to the radio’s progressive rock and too little to my speedometer; kept soldiering onward while downplaying the severity of the storm; not noticing how road conditions were deteriorating with each passing minute and mile.

That all dramatically changed upon my arrival at the US-23 overpass, where a not readily visible, thin layer of ice had turned that short stretch of highway into a skating rink.

Sensing the classic fishtailing motions, I panicked and over-corrected, which only made matters worse. While both my mind and car were beginning to spin out of control, barreling down on me was the sea of oncoming headlights. And, leading that vehicular “parade” was a massive, take no prisoners, 18-wheeler.

I believe it was my last minute serendipitous tug on the steering wheel; my metaphorical Hail Mary, last ditch effort (accompanied by the literal prayer), which wound up preventing my crossing over the center line. BUT, the wild ride was far from over.

What happened next, only a veteran Hollywood stunt driver could’ve pulled off in “one take” for his/her film director. I know I’d have been jaw dropping stunned had I been able to see the aerial view of that four wheeled choreography; which by journey’s end found me jumping the curb and coming to rest neatly perpendicular “parked” between two, closely spaced road signs.

Well, with my level of adrenaline ebbing, the incredibility of it all gradually began to sink in; no head on with that semi tractor-trailer rig; all the other drivers and their vehicles totally unscathed; my own emergence from that scene with nary a scratch to either my flesh and blood or vehicle’s metallic body. In a word, WOW!

The other drivers, out of consideration for me (or, perhaps, out of fear that I’d execute some further boneheaded driving) had all brought their vehicles to a dead stop, affording me time to shift into reverse and get back onto the highway.

Albeit with frayed nerves, bruised ego and my car’s newly acquired, minor front-end wheel alignment (shimmying) issues, I did make it to my 9 a.m. class, safe and unsound; a scant five minutes late.

Now, to tie up a few of my harrowing tale’s loose ends…

  • Seeing how I had no sooner resumed my commute than gleaming sunbeams began breaking thru the dark blue/grey cloud deck and (British Band) Badfinger’s “Carry On Till Tomorrow” began tracking, crackling thru the car radio static, I could not help but instantly compare Pete Ham’s and Tom Evans’ lyrical sentiments to a pep talk; one laden with encouraging words to Carry On even when the situation, at hand, seems to be hopeless.
  • By day’s end, came the more heightened sense that I may have even been communing with my Maker, who also wanted me to Carry On Till Tomorrow; to all the tomorrows ahead; inclusive of this 48th anniversary of my, so far, first and only, actual scrape with death.
  • Considering how my driving skills that bygone November morn had been so lousy, applying both a religious and secular spin was inevitable. It had either been the Big Guy, above, or Lady Luck (maybe both) who had saved my very life. Naturally, that preceding statement’s sentence structure revealing to whom I’m giving top billing.
  • And, none of this is hyperbole.
  • After all, November 9, 1973 could’ve easily been chiseled beneath my own tombstone’s D.O.B.

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Crapshoot (Parable)

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Once upon a time, obscenely wealthy, greedy guardians poorly reared their sonny, named Sonny. In exploiting his still wet-behind-the-ears susceptibility, they had facilely convinced him to follow in their well-heeled footsteps.

Consequently, from the tender age of four, onward, that li’l hellion was hellbent on hotly pursuing the unrestrained accumulation of untold wealth; even to the point of shaking down (in one devious way or another) his exclusive prep school’s entire student body. Needless to say, Sonny wound up friendless.

It was nine laps ‘round ol’ Sol later that the night of Sonny’s coming of age party had finally arrived; a swank soirée where his ‘rents had needed to surreptitiously rent attendees (actually megabucks bribe his “guests” to show up).

However, even more germane to this sad tale is all that went down the morning after.

Then and there we discovered underage drinker Sonny, in one of those head over the commode moments; hurling chunks, expletives and ruminations re overindulgence. Yet, in spite of his hungover pounding head and achy abused body, he was still able to plot an all-out offensive that’d facilitate his inheritance of The Golden Throne; even going to the extreme of commissioning scoundrels to corral and exile everyone who boasted his bloodline.

And topping off his hit-list (<—typo: missing “s”) was none other than mumsy and dadsy.

Well, once his goon squads’ dirty work was a fait accompli, so too, was his premature ascension to absolute power. Next up, even before the ink of his very first royal decree had fully dried, his retrograde rules and regulations had became the law of the land; inclusive of… ahem… that d-head’s edict that would (literally) keep a lid on the chamber pots and outhouses, kingdom-wide, till kingdom come!

It would now behoove his deployed army (soon to be known as The Potty Patrol), to enforce total compliance. Indeed, no private citizen would ever be allowed to party down… correction… potty down… until they had ponyied up one gold coin per… ahem… visit (approximately five smackers adjusted to 2021 U.S. dollars). Worse yet, these soldiers had standing orders to shoot any scofflaws; namely, the behind the bushes squatters.

Of course, just to ensure His Majesty would be able to score his thrice-hourly fix of adulation, Sonny’s sycophantic handlers and henchmen had conspired to schmooze the Patent Office hierarchy into declaring their Liege Lord the inventor of:

The Pay Toilet!

Henceforth, any of that kingdom’s honestly authored history books (if such publications even existed) would dub Lord Sonny:

The patently offensive patent holder!

And, tho few intellectuals had actually considered the full etymological ramifications, in essence, each time a soldier unlocked a Sonny locked up potty, it trotted out a whole new connotation for the phrase:

Can Opener!

However, one must never dwelleth on such piddling, crappy matters.

Cutting thru the crapola of Sonny’s character flaws and abuse of power, we arrive at the morals to our story:

  • Can opener laws can open up cans of worms!
  • Poor child rearing and potty training oft lead to crappy, butthead leaders!

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