Wednesday, February 29, 2012

We interrupt this hiatus to bring you some exciting news:

Congressman Roscoe G. Bartlett (R), representative from the Sixth District of Maryland to the 112th Congress, has introduced a bill that will bring some much-needed relief to a heretofore neglected a small but politically powerful a well-deserving segment of our population.

He has introduced the Stache Act.

According to the website of the American Mustache Institute (a major and perhaps the only supporter of the new legislation), “the Stache Act (Stimulus to Allow for Critical Hair Expenses) aims to earn a well-deserved $250 annual tax deduction for every Mustached American for expenditures on mustache grooming supplies.”

“Wait a minute,” I can hear some of you saying. “Hold on there, cowboy. A $250 annual tax deduction for mustache grooming supplies expenditures?”

But others of you, including perhaps my new friend Jim Baker, whose mustache is a real beauty, may be saying, “It’s about dadblamed tootin’ time them cantankerous coyotes up in Washington paid some attention to us little guys that are payin’ their salaries.” [Editor's note. Truth in blogging compels me to say that I’m just having a little fun; the speech patterns of Jim Baker do not resemble those of Gabby Hayes in any way.--RWP]

But let me, as I am wont to do, explain. I was pretty sure this was some kind of joke, especially after learning that the American Mustache Institute is planning a march on Washington on April 1st.

That’s right, folks, April 1st. April Fool’s Day.

But the office of the congressman has indeed informed the institute that the congressman has begun the process of ensuring the Stache Act becomes law by passing the proposal to the House Ways and Means Committee for study -- an essential first step for tax legislation.

Blogger Daniel Halper of The Weekly Standard called the office of Congressman Bartlett to see if something so silly could possibly be real. Sure enough, it is -— but there’s a wrinkle:

Congressman Bartlett was never aware that the bill had been referred to the committee in his name.

At 86 and the second-oldest member of the 112th Congress, Congressman Bartlett may be unaware of many things -- I mean, I’m only 70 and I’m lucid about half the time these days -- but it is clear that only two responses by the Congressman are now possible.

He can fire the staffers responsible and find new ones, or he can join in the fun and have a great laugh with everyone while our country continues to go down the drain day by day. It’s his choice. Only time, as they say, will tell. [Editor's note. It’s also clear, as we cowboys say, that certain congressional staffers may have gotten a little too big for their britches, but I’ll leave that post for another day. --RWP]

As for me, I’m really looking forward to getting that additional $250 annual tax deduction.

Here is a picture of Congressman Bartlett, who was born in 1926:


Here is an earlier picture of Congressman Bartlett:


And for those of you have stuck with me through this post all the way to this point, here is a special treat: A blurry picture of Mrs. RWP and moi from around 1980, when I was being regularly mistaken for both Engelbert Humperdinck and the bass singer in the Statler Brothers, Harold Reid:


You can see from one detail in that blurry photo why I am so pleased with the new legislation. I mean, it may come a tad late for me and my crowd, but the younger fellows coming along behind us can sure use the extra money.

And let’s give credit where credit is due.

Thank you, 112th Congress. It’s good to know that big government is still at work.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Into each life some rain must fall (or something like that)

...and life, which is what happens to you while you’re making other plans, requires me to be away from Blogland for a few days.

Not to worry, though. I shall return, though perhaps not in the way General Douglas MacArthur returned to the Philippines:


In the meantime,


[Editor’s note. One and all, I hate to disappoint you, but I am not sick or in hospital or undergoing psychoanalysis, or having a root canal, or encumbered by any of dozens of other infirmities whose prospect seems to fill some of you with such glee, if I am interpreting your comments correctly. I am not incontinent, or changing my gender, or having anything of any kind removed or inserted. The rain of which I spoke refers to the rain that is undoubtedly falling in your own miserable lives at the thought of having to endure my absence. Never fear. Be patient. As I mentioned before, I shall return. --RWP, 28 Feb 2012]

Friday, February 24, 2012

I know it’s hard to believe, but...

...once upon a time the leaders of Her Majesty’s gubmint were real people with crooked teeth, pot bellies, fallen arches, and the like. They looked like this:


and this:


and, yes, even this:


But all of them looked like actual, living, breathing members of the species homo sapiens. People like you and me. People with aches and pains. People with flaws.

Here are two more of fairly recent vintage:












Ordinary-looking blokes, both of them. People you might pass on the street or with whom you might share a pint at the local pub or beside whom you might sit at a soccer match.

But something very strange has happened. The current leaders over there across the pond in you-know-where look more like Hollywood actors. They are pretty boys, perfect specimens stamped out with a cookie cutter, almost artificial in their sameness. The effect is Stepford-wives-ish.

Here, for example, are random British leader #1:


















random British leader #2:



and random British leader #3:


...all of whom just happen to have ascended to the highest, most powerful political offices in the land.

Uncanny, isn’t it?

And more than a little bit scary.

Because if the mannequins have already taken over, can the robots be far behind?

I have realized just this minute where I have seen their like before. It was the sinister children in the 1960 film, Village of the Damned.

Let me just say in closing, dear reader, that in this world of ordinary people, extraordinary people, I’m glad there is you.
Yes, in this world of overrated treasures and underrated pleasures, I’m so glad there is you.

[Editor’s note. I would like to thank, in the order of their appearance in this post, Winston Churchill, Margaret Thatcher, Harold Macmillan, John Major, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, George Osborne, Nick Clegg, David Cameron, the sinister children in Village of the Damned, and the lyrics of Jimmy Dorsey and Paul Madeira. --RWP]

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Well, that didn’t take long.

Anonymous has struck.

The following comment appeared on one of my older posts today, and Blogger kindly put it in my e-mail for moderation.
I deleted it, but before I did I decided to copy it and show it to you because I found myself chuckling at the absurdity of it all.

The writer obviously never sat through a course called English as a Second Language (ESL). Or if the writer did, he or she must have failed the course miserably.

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Really, Anonymous, I don’t want to synergy this kind of dietary supplement, although being bound to shell out the very last little extra fat is tempting, especially since your product does not make me feel ravenous and enables me to discard every one of the extra load out of my system.

Thanks, but no thanks. I will not set the buy. I will not acquire this specific. I will have to nourish all of my technique and trigger a bout of optimistic vitality some other way. Whatever product or method I decide to use, I do hope it will enable a tougher and tight body to switch my own prior pulpy size.

I shall look for another proper procedure for my weight loss that can easily provide a sumptuous reduction in bodyweight. I pray that all my endeavours do not pass away an organic demise.

Regarding your claim that just a couple pills in order to pop and I can decline kilos quickly, if only it were that easy. But I will certainly continue to try to induce off of the volume from the bulging belly.

Lastly, Anonymous, whether my bags appear to move is none of your business.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

I have taken my life in my hands

...and, after reading Jinksy’s friend Hilary’s post containing some simple instructions, have -- with fear and trembling -- turned off Word Verification on this blog.

I think the Blogger people probably mean well. They are only trying to separate the real human beings from the automatic spammers, but their efforts are having the unintended opposite effect, that of removing real human beings from the process altogether. If something is too difficult, or really isn’t but is perceived to be, or even if it is just a little bit inconvenient, many people simply quit trying.

I say this to our shame.

***Observes a moment of silence here for what strange creatures we humans are***

But since what I’m after is comments, more and more comments from more and more people, I have taken the plunge.

I am now in free-fall mode.

Please be gentle.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pick one and give reasons for your choice

Today in the United States is Presidents Day or President’s Day or Presidents’ Day.

Follow the instructions in the title of this post.

For extra credit, and without looking, name all 44 presidents in order and their terms of office. An example not only would be but is, or was, George Washington (1789 - 1797). Before you complain, remember that I could have asked you to name all 50 states and the year each one entered the union and to tell why you think Puerto Rico should or should not become the 51st state.

Readers who are not Americans (you know you you are), please name as many U.S. presidents as you can, from memory, and report the number in the comments. A helpful hint: Benjamin Franklin, Henry Ford, Michael Jackson, and Whitney Houston were never president. Also, write a paragraph explaining why your country should have a Prime Ministers (or Prime Minister’s or Prime Ministers’) Day if it doesn’t, and why it shouldn’t if it does.

Your next reading assignment, class, is here.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Scott who?


This is not Santa Claus in his younger days.

It is not Peter Ustinov or Burl Ives or any other youngster aspiring to success in show biz.

This is Scott Fahlman.

Scott Fahlman.

Scott Fahlman is the person who may or may not have been the first to suggest the use of :-) as a smiley-face emoticon and :-( as a frowny-face emoticon in September 1982, as careful readers of this blog learned from a link in a comment left by Katherine on an earlier post.

When I was a lad, we didn’t have emoticons.

When I was a lad, we had slinkies and 45-rpm records and Brownie Hawkeye cameras.

When I was a lad, well, see for yourself (2:42).

One thing is sure, if one becomes the ruler of the Queen’s navy, one can not also be the very model of a modern major-general (5:00).

There is method in my madness: My purpose in including the links to Gilbert and Sullivan in today’s post was to change any and all artificial emoticons among the members of today’s audience into real smiles.

Now aren’t you glad you dropped by?

And I made you forget all about Scott Fahlman.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Happy Day After Valentine’s Day Day

...which also happens to be the birthday of my long-deceased father-in-law, Dhimitri Kuçi, who changed both his first and last names when he became a naturalized citizen of the United States, so don’t bother trying to find him in Facebook or any other social networking or genealogical collection. Pop would have been 117 today.

I also had a friend named Ernie (well, Ernest) who was born on Valentine’s Day, so his parents gave him the name Valentine as his middle name. Ernie is gone now too.

But to those of you who remain and are reading this (for you students of mathematics, one group is a subset of the other), I want to wish you a very happy Day After Valentine’s Day Day.

Five or six years ago I gave Mrs. RWP a Dachshund puppy for Valentine’s Day. We named the puppy Rudolph Valentino and called him Rudy for short. Rudy and I had huge disagreements over which one of us was going to be the alpha male in the house. After about three months, Mrs. RWP said, “One of you has to go and I’ve had you longer” and chose me to stay. So Rudy went away to live with three other doggies of his breed, where they may still be fighting over which one is the alpha male.

Last night, Mrs. RWP and I stayed home and ate leftover meat loaf because we didn’t relish fighting the crowds at the restaurants, but we did go out the night before (sorry, I neglected to wish all of you a happy Day Before Valentine’s Day Day, my bad) to a Mexican restaurant called Viva Mexico! The exclamation point is part of the name of the restaurant, not my own excitement at having been there, so I suppose I should have written “Viva Mexico!.” but I’m not sure.

I also bought Mrs. RWP a card and a pink hydrangea plant which will turn blue when we plant it later in the Georgia red clay underneath our bedroom window. I hasten to add that I am talking about the Georgia red clay outside our bedroom window. There is no Georgia red clay, or very little, inside our bedroom window. Also, we plan to plant only the hydrangea plant, not the plant and the card.

If you don’t mind my asking and you don’t mind sharing, how did you spend your Valentine’s Day evening? [Editor's note. And remember, this is a family-friendly, G-rated blog. --RWP]

If you do mind either one of those, just ignore my nosiness and try to have a very happy Day After Valentine’s Day Day.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Waxing philosophical at the O.K. Corral

In our last session, we began by quoting Abraham Lincoln’s statement that if you call a tail a leg, a dog would still have four legs, not five, because calling a tail a leg does not make it a leg.

In the comments section, people began waxing philosophical.
I thought it would be good to elevate the discussion to full-post status.

Carolina in Nederland said it was a trick question and she didn’t like trick questions; they make the people who ask such questions seem smart. But it doesn’t mean that they are smart, although you could argue that it is smart to ask questions that make you seem smart. Carolina is a deep thinker.

Putz from Utah agreed with me that Abe Lincoln was one smart cookie and thought the question was clever, not tricky.

Then Snowbrush out in Oregon chimed in with that old conundrum, “If a tree falls in the forest, and no one hears it, did it make a sound?” Let me just say here that it certainly would have had the capacity for sound, sending out sound waves and all, but if no ear or device capable of receiving the sound waves was anywhere in the vicinity, then no, it didn’t make a sound in the traditional sense, although it could have made a sound in the non-traditional sense. Do I make myself clear?

Katherine from Bay of Plenty in New Zealand (a country in the Southern Hemisphere) presented the possibility that Abraham Lincoln might have invented the wink-smiley emoticon. What that has to do with anything, I’m not sure. Also, the link begins by saying, “While most people believe that Scott Fahlman was the first person to suggest the use of the :-) symbol for representing a smiley face,...” but I challenge that statement. Most people do not believe that Scott Fahlman was the first person to suggest the use of the :-) symbol for representing a smiley face. Most people have never heard of Scott Fahlman.

Then Anonymous, whose origin and whereabouts remain uncertain, posed another rhetorical question: “If snow falls, brushing against the trees in the woods, but no one sees or hears it, does it exist?”

That one’s easy. It most certainly does.

It just doesn’t make a sound.

Next, Elizabeth in the U.K. told us that living in a garage doesn’t make you a car.

I hastened to add that it is also important to remember that a kitten born in an oven is not a chocolate-chip cookie. Elizabeth replied that that was precisely the point she was making.

I asked Snowbrush if he was high on some substance when he made his usual wisecrack (his word) and said that I myself am high all the time without the aid of some substance. He replied, “Wow! You must save a ton of money. Then again, if you tithe, probably not.”

Leaving aside for the moment the question of my financial status and contributory habits, nobody tackled another of Snowbrush’s questions: “What--if anything--might a person’s answer to Lincoln’s question tell us about that person?”

Let me try to formulate an answer to that one.

Persons who answer “Five” find it difficult to focus on the task at hand, are easily led astray, tend to put their hope in unworkable solutions to the dilemmas facing society, and may have used marijuana. They are almost always Democrats.

Persons who answer “Four” harbor no illusions about the total depravity of humankind, are solid as a rock in their personal relationships, refuse to deviate from majority opinion even after it has become a relic from another age, have never let their automobiles drift cross the double yellow line on a highway, and may have sold marijuana. They are invariably Republicans to the fourth generation.

Persons who answer “Seven,” “Nine,” or “I don’t know” attend Star Trek conventions, believe that aliens from another part of the galaxy have been kept alive in Area 51 for at least a half-century, would rather watch a reality show on television about bored housewives in Oklahoma City than attend a concert of live zither and dulcimer music, sit out general elections in a pout because there is not a dime’s worth of difference in the candidates, and may have grown marijuana. In primaries and caucuses, they vote for Ron Paul.

Persons who answer “Twenty-three” obviously did not understand the question.

How am I doing?

Jump in at any time.

I beg you.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

That Abe Lincoln was one smart cookie

Today is Abraham Lincoln’s birthday.

If he were still alive, he would be 203.

Happy birthday, Abe!

He said something once that I’m thinking of right now.

Not “Fourscore and seven years ago.” Not “With malice toward none, with charity for all.” Not “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.”

I’m not thinking of any of those.

No, I’m thinking of something much more profound. During one of his speeches on the campaign trail he asked, “If you call a tail a leg, how many legs does a dog have?”

Someone in the crowd called out, “Five.”

“Wrong,” said Lincoln. “It would have four legs. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.”

It would be good if certain politicians of our own day, both on the right and on the left, would keep that in mind.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

When the juices aren’t flowing

...it’s a good time to let Billy Ray Barnwell out of his cage and be our guest blogger for the day. For those who don’t know, Billy is sort of my alter ego and sort of not; suffice it to say that he and I have somewhat of a shared history except that his incorporates a lot of fiction and mine actually happened.

Here’s another chapter from his book, Billy Ray Barnwell Here:


CHAPTER 2

Billy Ray Barnwell here, in one of these little chapters or vignettes or whatever they are I absolutely positively must get started on a poem or essay or something really literary, boy it sure is hard being an author, there are so many possibilities to choose from that some days I can’t focus at all, maybe I could find me a pill I could take for that, but I sure wouldn’t want to become dependent on drugs like Udella Mabry’s cousin Virgil Abernathy did, that was a really sad case, but after he finished doing his time he went to school and became the town pharmacist, so all’s well that ends well, to coin a phrase. I do know this is not going to be a novel because if I were going to write me a novel the characters would already be saying things like “It don’t make me no never mind” and “If Mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy,” things I would never say in real life. I wish I could think of something interesting to write about today, nothing ever happens in this one-horse town, I will just keep pouring the words onto the paper and maybe something good will come of it, I have faith in the process. Mr. Morris said the only way to become a writer is to write, I don’t know why it took me so long to actually do it, Udella said the other day just think this is how Ernest Hemingway got started and I said I like William Faulkner better, then Udella’s buddy Juanita chimed in and said she didn’t care for Faulkner and I asked her why not and she scrunched up her face for a minute like she was trying to decide why herself and finally she said “too many words” well let me tell you I was flabbergasted, it was just like that scene in that Amadeus movie where the Italian composers tell the king or duke or whatever he is that Mozart’s music has too many notes, well in my opinion we should all have too many notes like Mozart or too many words like Faulkner, even though he did tend to use words like “scrofulous” and “phylacteries” and “lugubrious” and “mendaciously,” Faulkner I mean, not Mozart, which always sent me scurrying to the dictionary, wait a minute, hold the fort, that isn’t Faulkner I’m thinking of, that’s Thomas Wolfe, talk about a man who used too many words, O by the lost and wind-grieved ghost come back again my eye, why couldn’t he just write about simple things, a stone, a leaf, a door, that’s a joke for all you literary types, I’m sure it will bring great guffaws in English departments at universities all across this wonderful land of ours, and for those of you who don’t get the joke, I don’t want to ruin your concentration by explaining it, the joke I mean, not your concentration.

I wouldn’t want to think the well is running dry or anything, but all I can think to tell you about right now are things my father used to say, such as using a condom is like wearing socks to take a shower, or when you eat beans if you also eat macaroni you will get a pipe organ effect, or the ever popular pull my finger, he was a real delight to know, I didn’t think so then and I don’t think so now, in fact I prayed many times for him to be gone and now that he is I miss him more than I like to admit, damn was his favorite adjective and hell was his favorite noun, he smoked Chesterfield cigarettes like they were going out of style and between him and Mama the ashtrays at our house were always full and the air was always blue with smoke, and in spite of all of that or maybe because of it he started teaching the men’s Sunday School class at the Methodist church, you couldn’t make this stuff up, truth is stranger than fiction, I guess I should cut him some slack, he was a good man trying to do his best, he served in the U.S. Navy during the Second World War as a machinist’s mate, whatever that is, on a ship called the PCE869, which PCE stands for Patrol Craft Escort, I know because he talked about the Navy every single day of his life and it is emblazoned in my brain along with the Great Lakes Naval Training Center and the Panama Canal Zone that has towns named Cristobal and Colón and when you say Colón it is not like the part of your body that is somewhere between your stomach and your anal sphincter, it is like the cologne that a man might want to splash on various parts of his body before going out on a big date so that if a person got close enough to smell him that person would end up smelling the cologne and not the body parts, oh by the way Cristobal Colón means Christopher Columbus in Spanish, he drove me absolutely bonkers, my father I mean, not Christopher Columbus, but he did have what every man wants and what every woman dreams about, Udella please tell Juanita she can stop laughing, I’m talking about a weekly paycheck, he was a good provider, for nearly twenty years he worked at Consolidated Vultee Aircraft which changed its name to Convair and then changed it again to General Dynamics Corporation, he was a turret lathe and milling machine operator, he helped build the wing assemblies of the B-36, B-58, and F-111 airplanes with guys named Jim Hodges and Ike Pemberton and Finn Wahl, and he rode thirty-four miles each way to work in a car pool with guys named Bill Poe and Wayne Harmon and Hubert Beard, his round dark green plastic-covered badge said he was employee number 183473, Daddy’s badge I mean, not Hubert Beard’s, not that I ever really noticed, then he got sick and died about a year and a half before he would have been eligible to retire and it’s a damn shame, pardon my French, that he died of pancreatic cancer, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone so be careful what you pray for because you just might get it, and it is way past time to end it for now, this is Billy Ray Barnwell your roving reporter signing off.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Hail to the master

Upon learning today about an article entitled “Oldest Living Thing On Earth Discovered” in The Telegraph, humorist Dave Barry immediately created a post with the title “Incredibly, It’s Not Keith Richards”....

Say what?

This, my 914th post, reminds me that I lived in Poughkeepsie, New York, from 1965 until 1968.

Do you know why?

I don’t mean do you know why I lived in Poughkeepsie, New York, from 1965 until 1968. That one’s easy: After being honorably discharged from the United States Air Force, I was hired by IBM to work there.

I meant do you know why this, my 914th post, reminds me that I lived in Poughkeepsie, New York, from 1965 until 1968.

Your trivia fix for the day: The name Poughkeepsie is derived from the Native American term Uppu-qui-ipis-in, which means “reed-covered hut by the water.” The water in question is the Hudson River. The area includes Vassar College (alma mater of Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis) and a large IBM campus noted for its ongoing development and manufacturing of IBM mainframes (first post-military workplace of the noted blogger rhymeswithplague).

This will be an open-book test. Take as much time as you need.

Photo by Daniel Case, 2008. Used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2 or any later version published by the Free Software Foundation.

Editor’s note. Dear reader, the answer to my question can be found in the comments section of this post. --RWP

Monday, February 6, 2012

Post-game thoughts

If you’re anything like me (you’re probably not), you might be asking, “What game?”

I do have enough smarts about me to know that the game in question is Super Bowl XLVI (that’s 46 for any non-Romans in the crowd).

The Drudge Report is saying this morning that Super Bowl XLVI may have been the most watched program in TV history. According to those who keep track of such things, the game pulled a 47.8 rating (versus 47.9 last year) in the overnight ratings, the halftime show with Madonna drew a 48.3, the final 15 minutes of the game pulled 52.8, New York City reached 49.7, and in Boston the game was a 56.7 rating blowout. [Editor’s note. Remind journalism professors to teach their students about avoiding elegant variation. --RWP]

One of my daughter’s schoolteacher friends posted on her Facebook page that when Jack Nicholson was asked if he was going to the Super Bowl he said, “I’d rather drink bleach.”

My sentiments exactly.

We’re a lot alike, Jack and I.


In other news, at the end of our church service yesterday the teens stood at the door holding empty Soup Bowls (get it? instead of Super Bowls?) and took up a collection that will be sent to World Vision to help feed hungry children in third-world countries like Haiti and Somalia and Sudan.

Speaking of time and tide...

I am reminded of King Canute or Cnut or whatever you want to call him.

Here’s a poem I wrote many years ago as though I were he. [Editor's note. Notice my use of the subjunctive mood, which indicates that my being King Cnut is an impossibility. Notice also my use of the possessive pronoun to modify the gerund in the preceding sentence. Finally, notice far fewer exclamation points in the poem below than it contained the other two times I posted it on this blog. --RWP]


Canute (994?-1035)
by Robert H. Brague



I, King of all the Britons, and Denmark mine as well.
My star approaches zenith. In Caesar’s train I dwell.
More kingdoms to be conquered, and all shall be laid low.
And feudal lords shall bear me liege wherever I may go.

And shall I stop at kingdoms? Nay, tarry here and see:
The winds and waves shall hearken, and both bow down to me.
No more shall raging ocean erode this harried shore.
But it shall do my bidding, as Christ’s in days of yore.

No more shall sea advance upon the gray and shifting sand.
Now cease your endless churning! Subside at my command!
It is Divinely ordered. You must obey my will.
In God’s name I command you. Hear and hearken: “Peace! Be still!”

But can I be mistaken? And can I be denied?
My words have no effect! Still onward comes the tide!
The swirling eddy rises! The tide attacks my knees!
It hears commands more regal than this lowly creature’s pleas!

God’s kingdom is eternal, mine but of measured span.
What foolishness emerges from the haughty heart of man.
I am but mortal monarch -- oh, hear my fool’s heart cry --
‘Tis chastened by the deafness of a greater king than I.


I don’t know, somehow it loses something without those exclamation points. Falls flat. Feel free to disagree. [Editor’s note. Click on the Labels section below to view the other two posts. --RWP]

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Three irrefutable proofs that time and tide wait for no man

May it please the court, I place into evidence Exhibit A:

Gandalf the Old:


and Gandalf the Young:



Exhibit B:

President and Mrs. Clinton (Bill and Hillary) arriving at Beekman Arms in Rhinebeck, New York, for their daughter Chelsea’s wedding the following day:


and at their own:



and Exhibit C:

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, please look to your right. In the sidebar are photographs of your correspondent taken approximately 70 years apart.

Your Honor, may we take a short recess? I am too depressed to continue at this time.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Bubbles burst While-U-Wait

Groundhog Day, February 2nd, has come and gone. This year any illusions I might have retained from days gone by about the accuracy of meteorologic prognostications by certain oversized rodents came crashing down yesterday morning.

I was in my car around 9:00 a.m. and the sun, which had been up for over an hour and a half, was shining brightly, as it had been doing all morning. I turned my radio on to catch the news.

Prominently featured among the stories was the fact that the world’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil of Gobbler’s Knob, Pennsylvania (I don’t know why he isn’t in Punxsutawney and frankly, I don’t care), had seen his shadow and had scampered back into his burrow, thus assuring that six more weeks of winter was in the offing. It was then reported that Atlanta’s local equivalent of Punxsutawney Phil, General Beauregard Lee of Yellow River Game Ranch in Lilburn, Georgia (never mind that heretofore his reporting has been from Stone Mountain), had not seen his shadow and thus we would be enjoying an early spring.

I nearly drove off the road.

Make that I nearly drove off the road, blinded by the sunshine.

We have already been enjoying an early spring. This winter has been much milder than last year’s, and splashes of purple phlox and yellow forsythia and a few jonquils are already showing up here and there. The temperature has even made it into the seventies a time or two. That wasn’t what made me nearly drive off the road.

What made me nearly drive off the road was trying to figure out how General Beauregard Lee could have avoided seeing his shadow when there was nary (all us old Southerners say nary) a cloud in the sky and I was reaching for my sunglasses.

This put me to thinking that perhaps General Beauregard Lee is nothing more than a mute mammal and it is his human handlers and publicists, in cahoots with the weather departments at the local television stations, who decide what the breathlessly-awaited annual announcement will be.

Yes, Virginia, there may be a Santa Claus, but there is not, alas,
a reliable groundhog in these parts.