Comments or suggestions: Gerard Van der Leun
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For reasons unknown to me the old website is coming up when my readers are trying to go to the new site. I'm working with Hosting Matters to figure out this FOO.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 27, 2017 7:39 PM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
How To Get Offended

[HT: DeAnn]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 19, 2017 8:05 AM | Comments (7)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Okay, who turned on the sun? -or- "Never Happy"


Things are starting to get out of hand here in northern California.

Oh! We're having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave
The temperature's rising, it isn't surprising,
She certainly can can-can
She started a heatwave by letting her seat wave,
In such a way that the customers say
That she certainly can can-can

Gee, gee! Her anatomy makes the mercury rise to 93!
Having a heatwave, a tropical heatwave, the way that she moves,
That thermometer proves that she certainly can...
(What's your name honey? Pablo).Certainly can..
(Chico, Miguelito, Pablo, Chico, Miguelito)...oh, can-can.

I don't know about anybody else but my life has come down to one concept: FLEE! FLEE TO THE OCEAN!


[Of course, the above bitching brings to mind this observation from all the way back in 2005:]

Never Happy


When I lived in Manhattan, I never needed to know when winter officially arrived. I could count on one particular coworker to announce it. The official date changed every year, but he never failed to signify it by dropping by my office first thing in the morning, a Starbucks commuting coffee mug in his hand, and saying, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how cold it is? Damn!"

Having just peeled off watch cap, ear muffs, scarf, gloves, and a ten pound top coat, I could -- while watching the sleet moving horizontally across the windows -- say with some conviction, "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do believe how cold it is."

With this exchange, the first of a daily ritual that would be repeated between us for months without variation, I knew that winter had been declared open.

In New York City, there are really only two seasons -- "Winter" and "Street Repair." Winter was cold and inconvenient. "Street Repair" was hot and inconvenient. My coworker wasn't happy with either. Yet he never failed to announce the beginning of "Road Work." The official date changed every year, but he never failed to signify it by dropping by my office first thing in the morning, his Starbucks commuting coffee mug in his hand, and saying, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how hot it is? Damn!"

He was a living, breathing, mind-numbing example of why the number two fantasy of people who work in offices is the ruthless slaughter of one or more of their coworkers. (The number one fantasy? I don't have to tell you. You know. And you should be ashamed of yourself.)

When I moved to southern California, this was one little daily irritation I was happy to leave behind along with "Winter" and "Road Work." Instead, I got only one season, "Traffic," but since you have to go to "Traffic" in order to be in that was okay. I no longer needed to kill my coworker, so that was a win.

In the hills above Laguna, however, I discovered another two seasons -- "No birds" and "Birds." That's otherwise known as "Not Spring" and "Spring." When the birds leave sometime around the Christmas holidays, you don't really notice it. At least I didn't until I passed a neighbor, a Starbucks commuting coffee mug in his hand, on his daily constitutional and he said, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how quiet it is? Damn! Sure wish the birds would come back."

He walked on but I stopped and turned slowly to look at him. Brief memories of fantasized mayhem washed over my mind until I shook my head and thought, "No. Can't be. Just your imagination," and went on my way.

But, of course, what couldn't be, was. Over the course of the next few months, I'd pass this neighbor on our overlapping walks and he'd invariably say, just to be neighborly, "Boy, oh, boy, do you believe how quiet it is? Damn! Sure wish the birds would come back."

In time, of course, the birds, as birds will, did come back. I noticed it one day when, just at dawn, a bird woke me with a Bachesque series of trills and calls. A day or so later, when passing my neighbor on the hill, he said, "Boy, oh, boy, did you hear that bird this morning? Terrific!"

But nature is not decorative no matter how much we might wish it would be. Where you have one bird, you get two. When you have two, you get ten. And ten is just the prelude to a hundred or even more, as Alfred Hitchcock knew.

About a month after the first return of the birds, I was awakened by a cacophony of bird calls hooting and screeching at the first crack of light. I shrugged it off and went outside to get the paper from the drive way. My bird-loving neighbor lives diagonally across the intersection. I picked up the paper to go inside when I heard the sliding door to his deck open. I looked across and saw him in his underwear stagger sleepily out into the rising and falling cloud of colorful bird calls, wipe the sleep from his sad eyes, and shout out into the pristine morning, "Shut... UP!"

Even in paradise it seems that some people are never really happy. Must be the traffic.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 18, 2017 10:09 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
My Father


The Interface
--for my father, Albert John Van der Leun

The empty rituals and dusty opulence
of the nightmare's obvious ending dwindle,
and the sounds of departing automobiles
fade into the humm beyond the cul-de-sac.
Inside the house my mother sits quietly,
surrounded by the plates of finger food
that everybody brought and no one ate,
and wonders if she should begin to take
his clothes from the closet and call the Goodwill.
Some blocks away, the minister hangs
his vestments on a peg, and goes to lunch.

I drive the Skyway to the town named Paradise,
park his car at the canyon's rim, and sit awhile
in the hot silence of the afternoon looking out
at the far Sierras where, in June, the winter lingers.
On the seat beside me a well-taped cardboard cube
contains what remains of my father. I climb out
and, taking the cube under my arm, begin to climb
down the canyon's lava wall to the stream below.
The going is slow, but we get to the bottom by and by
and sitting on some moss, we rest awhile, the cube and I,
beside the snow-chilled stream.

The place we have come to is where the pines lean out
from the rounded boulders lodged above the stream;
where what the stream saves builds up in the backwater,
making in the mounds of matter an inventory of the year:
Rusted tins slumped under the fallen sighs of weeds,
diminishing echoes of the blackbird's gliding wings,
laughs buoyed in the hollow belly of stunted trees,
gears, tires, the bones of birds, brilliant pebbles,
the rasping whoosh of leaf fall crushed to dust,
the thunk of bone on bark, the thud of earth on wood,
the silence of soft ash scattered on chill waters.

And in such silence, he fades forever.

The stream, its waters revolving round
through river, ocean, clouds, and rain,
bears away the hands and eyes,
but still the memory remains,
answering, in pantomime,
the questions never asked:

Are these reflections but the world without,
carried on but never borne onward, westward,
towards sunlight glazed on sea's thigh?
Or are such frail forms shaped upon the waters all
the things that are, and we above immersed in air
the forms that fade, only the mere mirrors of the stream?

Is this life all that is and, once life lost,
the end of all that was, with nothing
left to be, with no pine wind to taste,
nor sun to dapple mind with dream?
Is all that is but ash dissolving,
our lives mere rain in circles falling?

Or are we still the center of such circles,
our fall a rise above the shawl of night,
where all shall shine contained within
that single soul, that heart of stars;
that interface where souls and suns
and Earth's far scattered waters meet?

Meet in that one hand whose palm
still remains held out forever,
held out and for forever open
even in the coldest light of day.

Posted by Vanderleun Jun 18, 2017 12:08 AM | Comments (25)  | QuickLink: Permalink
"Men Like My Father Cannot Die"

"They are with me still, real in memory as they were in flesh, loving and beloved forever."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 17, 2017 9:26 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Albert John ('Van') Van der Leun: A Sharp Man

alooksharpbesharp.jpgMy father liked sharp. He was a Gillette kind of man. He liked to look sharp, feel sharp and be sharp. I never saw him unshaven except very early in the morning before he’d had a chance to lather up. Beards? He was a child of the hard parts of the Depression and beards were for bums.

My father favored the flat-top for himself and his sons. Butch Wax was a staple in our house and four males could go through a jar a week. He grudgingly accepted my 3-inch “Ivy League” cut once I went off to the university, but was never reconciled to the longer and longer hair that came later.

My father was a sharp-dressed man. He liked the snap of a freshly laundered, starched and ironed white shirt. His suits were always cleaned and pressed and his shoes shined to a military gloss. I still have many of his gold and silver tie-tacks and cuff-links and although I seldom wear them, I do wear them. They make me feel sharp.

My father was a car salesman and a good one. He was a sharp salesman; one that was always looking for what the customer actually wanted as well as what the customer could really afford. For every minute selling, he spent five qualifying. He didn’t boast about being the top salesman at the lot, although he usually was. He did boast that he had the fewest repos of all the salesmen, and the most repeat customers. He liked to sell people cars that he knew they could afford. His most repeated instruction to me was, “Never try to profit off of another’s misfortune.”

My father hated smooth. He liked plain talk and despised euphemism and manipulation, especially among salesmen. He’d fire car salesmen working under him if he caught them lying or even shading the truth to make a sale. He looked at every deal brought to him for approval that the buyer didn’t have the credit for as a failed sale and wouldn’t approve them. “A man that will lie to a customer will lie to you,” he’d say. “Bad for the buyer and worse for the business,” he’d say. “If you let a man buy what he can’t afford on credit, you’re going to be taking the car back and making an enemy. We’re here to get cars off the lot, not see them come back after repossession. A man who can’t make his car payments is a man who can’t maintain his car. A salesman who’s so smooth he’s selling people cars bigger than they can afford is a salesman who’s taking a kickback from the repoman.”

My father was a man for whom honor was essential. Did my father sell as many cars as he could have? Probably not, but he raised three boys well and without want. My mother worked hard, day in and day out, as my mother and did, in the final analysis, a pretty good job of it. My father saved carefully and retired all debt as quickly as possible. When he died, a relatively young man after years of expensive medical treatments, my mother was still set up comfortably for life.

My father despised debt and avoided credit. Educated by himself, he’d seen the worst of the depression and, during one hard winter in Pittsburgh in the 30s, had to hang out by the railroad tracks to pick up lumps of coal fallen from the trains in order to heat his home.

My father was a life-long Democrat, and despised Richard Nixon for his five-o’clock shadow, his smooth palaver, and his treatment of Helen Gahagan Douglas in an early California election. He felt the same way about Kennedy. “He looks sharp but when you listen to him he’s just too smooth a talker.”

What would my father think about a President who was a both a sharp-dressed man and was smoothly talking the country into buying trillions of dollars in deficits and entitlements?

Like he said, “A salesman who’s so smooth he’s selling people cars bigger than they can afford is a salesman who’s taking a kickback from the repoman.”

Posted by Vanderleun Jun 17, 2017 12:01 AM | Comments (46)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Dairy Queen Princess


When I get hot and sweaty from workin' in the sun,
I head down to her corner for a tall, cold, frosty one.
When I'm with my DQ princess I'm never there alone.
For just another dollar, she'll gladly dip my cone.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a smooth vanilla softy. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.


My baby makes me order my big banana frozen.
The boys line up to see her. She's the one that's chosen.
She's just a small town mama but still an ice cream star.
She's the only one around who'll grab your Dilly Bar.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a steamed hot chocolate malted. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.


She 's got a long blonde pony tail, wears tight white shorts,
With a polka dot bikini top. She plays all the midnight sports,
And she'll whip you up a sundae, maybe top it with a cherry,
But tomorrow she'll be serving it to Curly, Moe, or Larry.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's deep-fried tofu toffee. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.


Down at her DQ she's some games that you can play,
Like "Ninja Warrior Pinball," or "CyberRoad to Mandalay."
She's workin' hard for tips all the big boys wanna slip her.
She'll gladly change your dollars and let you pump the flippers.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a deep dip Dilly Bar. She's the Blizzard Breeze supreme.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.


She's the town's roadside attraction.
She's the center of the summer's action.
It's just a little job -- pumping soda for the jerks.
It don't pay all that much, but she's never out of work.

My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.
I crave her flavor. She don't treat me mean.
She's a hot fudge filly. She's the center of the scene.
My baby's a Princess of the Dairy Queen.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 16, 2017 12:40 PM | Comments (12)  | QuickLink: Permalink
New American Digest Is On Final Approach


I am finally coming to grips with the new Wordpress American Digest and getting it ready. Basic design is done and the basic templates formed. It will be a day or so more since I have yet to figure out how safely transfer the 30,000 MovableType American Digest entries over to the new site.

I am however feeling confident that the new version will be viewable on tablets, pads, phones, and bones.


Update by azlibertarian I've mentioned this here before, but in my meat-space life, I am a Captain at a major national airline. Allow me to inject some inside baseball to that video.....

* The procedures we fly--the departures (which we call SIDs--Standard Instrument Departure), the arrivals (STARs--Standard Terminal Arrival), and the approaches (which take you to the landing runway)--are constantly changing. Sometimes the changes are major and sometimes they're minor. The video begins with an "arrival" called the SADDE6. We now fly the SADDE7, which has only minor changes from the SADDE6.

* The turn right after coming over the beach is over the Santa Monica VOR (a type of navigational aid), and almost always to a air-traffic-control-directed heading of 070ー.

* The camera doesn't do this, but right before the downtown L.A. label, if I turn my head to the left I can see the Hollywood sign, and then later on downwind, right after passing the downtown area, and again on the left is Dodger Stadium.

* The video touches on one of the scariest parts of my professional day: If you look at the google map image of LAX, on both the north and south sides of the airport, you can see two parallel taxiways, just north and south of the terminals. In between those parallel taxiways is a roadway (which is where the plane holds position to allow the fire trucks to pass). I'm pretty sure that a fireman wouldn't run into my plane, but the guys who drive the baggage carts, catering trucks, etc don't inspire my confidence. Those guys drive around airplanes all day, every day, and I think that some of them get inured to the idea that that other vehicle crossing in front of them is a 737/747/757/767/777. Years ago, I once saw a fuel truck (!) with a fender-bender crease in the tank. Who drives a fuel truck like it isn't made of glass?

* And here is my final point: I suspect that some airline pilot got a new Go-Pro, and mounted it to the dash to take this beautifully-done video and then post it to YouTube. Why he would do this is more than I know. I get it that the view from my "office window" is a special sight and one that someone might want to share. I get it that someone without access to the view I routinely have might be interested in seeing it. But taking that video and sharing it on YouTube is a potentially career-ending move.

Imagine yourself on the surgeon's table, and your surgeon, or the anesthesiologist, or one of the nurses is fiddling with their cell phone looking at Facebook. That cell phone is at the very minimum, a potential distraction from the important work that they're being paid to pay attention to. The FAA sees that Go-Pro on the dash in the same light. Those guys driving those catering trucks are supposed to yield to airplanes, but if one of them ran through an intersection and into my plane, and I had a Go-Pro on the dash, it would be all my fault.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 15, 2017 11:24 AM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Life Comes at You Fast


Congressman Mike Bishop called into Paul W Smith on WJR Detroit - here were the highlights:

- Bishop was at first base; jump to the ground while shots went overhead.
- Lots of shots fired - well over 50 - rapid fire successions. (Definitely sounded to me like a leftist who is a really bad shot and just played vidya games.)
- Scalise at second base was the target; they really went after him
- Scalise shot in the hip; didn't look fatal
- One GOP staffer shot in the chest; looks real bad
- One GOP staffer shot somewhere else; doesn't look as bad
- Multiple magazines and time to change between them
- Bishop estimated 8-10 minutes total
- Scalise's security men were outside the diamond; came in; had revolvers (he originally said pistols but said they were just service revolvers); the security men charged the shooter who was very keen on Scalise; they took some hits themselves but also brought him down with far fewer shots.
- The other Congressman and staffers, including somebody's 11 year old boy, were in the dugout or batting box - whatever is the structure as he kept saying there was just one structure they could get into, but if the gunman had gotten to it, it would have been over since there was just one entrance.
- And the diamond had a backstop so they could not flee; only one exit; the guy had clearly planned this and scouted it out before hand. Vox Popoli: Assassination attempt on House Republican


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 14, 2017 7:52 AM | Comments (13)  | QuickLink: Permalink
On the Porch by Ghost Sniper


Sat on a friend's porch yesterday and watched a charm of hummingbirds, maybe 15-20 , buzz bombing each other with pit stops at the many feeders to reload on sucrose.

It was hot, dry, and the shade was nice. Sometimes we'd speak but usually not, just look and observe and think.

My friend's two big dobermans, Kai (male 165 lbs) and Riley (female 130 lbs) stretched out on the cool deck boards. In front of the porch there is maybe 100 feet of green well-manicured lawn ending in dense, lush forest and who knows what beyond. The house is 1/2 mile off the road so the couple vehicles per hour of traffic was barely heard and never seen.

It was time to go so I reached in my pocket and drew out a cookie for Kai and another for Riley. Then I walked the 3/4 mile downhill to our house.

I sat in my desk chair and my own Shannon came to me. She wanted a cookie too and she got one. She smelled the neighbor's mutts on me and was not jealous, just curious. I hit the send and receive button and an email from my neighbor said that 5 minutes after I left Kai dropped over dead from a heart attack. He'd been doing poorly for the past month but seemed chipper when I came around. Before I left I knelt down on the deck and stroked Kai's enormous head and looked into his yellow eyes and saw his soul. I told him he was a good boy and to stay well. Then I left, and so did he.

Later we used the Kubota to dig the hole and lowered Kai into it wrapped in his favorite blanky. The wife and 8 year old son weeped. I said a few words and walked home, plopped down in my porch chair and just sat there.

The birds, the squirrels, the chipmunks, the pileateds, the raccoons and the bunnies did their floor show but I was lost in thought. Out here there is little difference between our 2 legged and 4 legged friends. When one leaves a void is left. It starts filling with memories but there is no satisfaction . In time the memories and dissatisfaction will fade but never disappear. Across the way I hear the great horned owl emerging.

Posted by: ghostsniper in Window gazing is best done with music in the background.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 12, 2017 12:28 PM | Comments (20)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Boomer Anthems: Into the Mystic by Van Morrison (with an assist by Gregg Allman)

[Complete with a classic four minute break/riff right in the middle.]

Music is my life's blood. I love music, I love to play good music, and I love to play music for people who appreciate it. And when it's all said and done, I'll go to my grave and my brother will greet me, saying, "Nice work, little brother—you did all right." I must have said this a million times, but if I died today, I have had me a blast.

I want to rock your gypsy soul / Just like way back in the days of old / And together we will float into the mystic - - Gregg Allman (December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017)

"'Into the Mystic' is another one like 'Madame Joy' and 'Brown Eyed Girl'. Originally I wrote it as 'Into the Misty'. But later I thought that it had something of an ethereal feeling to it so I called it 'Into the Mystic'. That song is kind of funny because when it came time to send the lyrics in WB Music, I couldn't figure out what to send them. Because really the song has two sets of lyrics. For example, there's 'I was born before the wind' and 'I was borne before the wind', and also 'Also younger than the son, Ere the bonny boat was one' and 'All so younger than the son, Ere the bonny boat was won' ... I guess the song is just about being part of the universe." -- Van Morrison

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 11, 2017 2:43 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink


The Moral Meaning of ‘The Sopranos,’ Ten Years Later - Acculturated It is impossible for a person to compartmentalize evil acts and separate them from the rest of his or her life. In the case of a gangland boss like Tony Soprano, it is impossible to maintain a real family and a Mafia family without having the latter corrupt and threaten the former.
No way out Globalism has made it possible to fund disorder from the profits of order. Qatar, for example has recently been accused of being the Switzerland of Terrorism. Yet it receives a vast income not only from the sale ofnatural gas but from holdings in the West. The BBC remarks that "Qatar owns more land in London than the Queen."
Marxism: A Cross Between Mean Girls & Lord of the Flies | Declination Deep down in their bones, they are afraid of us. Because that is the instant reset button. They immediately lose the second it comes to that. With Marxists, it is perpetual high school politics. View them through this lens, and a lot starts to make sense. Their tactics, their methods… it’s all straight out of school. Moral high ground, in their world, is straight-up popularity, and nothing more. You wonder why mountains of bodies surround every major Marxist regime? Imagine if you gave a bunch of catty valley girl teenagers absolute power over life and death. What would happen? How many would die?
Basic Economy Flights Exist To Make You Pay More For Air Travel – Consumerist American Airlines found that in test markets for the Basic Economy fare, it was able to raise the prices for regular economy fares. Customers were willing to pay more for a regular economy seat if there were something worse available. Like Basic Economy.
Denver Decriminalizes Public Defecation To Protect Illegal Aliens This new law, or lack thereof, has the ACLU seal of approval so you know it’s bullshit:
Denver Colorado is about to smell worse than piss-soaked shit-stained San Francisco. The city voted to essentially decriminalize public urination and defecation and the reason is as liberal as it gets. The city is now becoming a giant toilet to help protect illegal aliens from deportation. Denver is not only a sanctuary city for criminal immigrant scumbags but also now a sanctuary for human waste.
Cancer Isn’t a Logic Problem Cancer cells are not simply a disorder or breakdown in a mechanism, but an organism going on a full-tilt offensive, using multiple, often shifting strategies to produce and use molecular fuel, win resources, and evade the immune system. If so, then the rules of the game may change—these insights suggest that the war on cancer may be endless. Still, we can get better at treating it as an evolving entity within the context on its ecology, through the idea of “living drugs,” such as engineering the body’s own immune cells to sense and mobilize an attack on cancer.
It Turns Out That Paving a Road with Unwashed Clams Is Not a Good Idea | Oddity Central - Collecting Oddities A few days ago, David Rose unloaded several truckloads of unwashed clam shells onto the access road to his property, as a cheaper alternative to gravel. As soon as they saw what was going on, Rose’s neighbors told him to use washed shells instead, as the ones he was unloading still had visible clam meat on them that would start to rot. He apparently declined and carried on with his original plan. After three rainy days, the sun came out over Tiverton, and with it came maggots, flies and a stench that neighbors describe as unbearable.
The Worst Ever First Day on the Job | Literary HubIn the preunion days, lunch would always be at a bar. On particularly tough jobs, John Callahan himself was known to show up late in the day with a case of beer for the crew. On road trips, it was the job of the guy in the shotgun seat to prepare a thermos of cocktails for the driver. At the end of a move, the shipper always offered us beer. Often our work would take us into New York City, which required a 7 am start. At 7:20 we’d get off I-95 in Pelham and stop at Arthur’s Bar and drink a couple or three screwdrivers before heading into Manhattan. As far as I could tell, the moving business floated on an ocean of alcohol.
CABINET // Journeys of Lactic Abstraction Milk is a substance prone to mimesis and abstraction, a duality echoed in the ebullient packaging that places it before us as an industrial staple. For pats of butter or rich creamy milks, there are countless hand-drawn bucolic scenes, realistically formed, that essentialize the gift of nature, of the mother, Mother Nature. Equally, milk is prone to abstraction through technical processing into powdered formulas or constituent parts. This abstraction is reflected in the aseptic geometries of plastic cartons, milk sticks, and Tetra Pak pyramids.
[Miscellany] | Bee-Brained, by Vauhini Vara | Harper's MagazineFor the past decade, Indian Americans have dominated the Scripps National Spelling Bee — among last year’s top ten were seven Indian spellers — and all the recent champions competed at the N.S.F. bee first. Nihar told me that his experience there established his training regimen. Also, he said, “If I hadn’t done N.S.F., I would have felt very scared spelling in front of a lot of people.”
Impossible City: New Orleans The last bars have closed, at four or five, and all that’s left is the sour smell of oysters, vomit, and stale beer. Every so often, in the cool drift from an open door, there comes a sweet trace of dark liquors, breathed out from shadowed wood. Cigarette smokers splash disinfectant across the sidewalk and hose it into the gutter. Shops put out their garbage, a simmering potpourri. These smells are always there, but you notice them more in the early hours of the day, when the distractions are few, when the neon has been switched off and the bands have gone home, when almost everyone is somewhere else.
BBC - Future - Why printers add secret tracking dots At that point, experts began taking a closer look at the document, now publicly available on the web. They discovered something else of interest: yellow dots in a roughly rectangular pattern repeated throughout the page. They were barely visible to the naked eye, but formed a coded design. After some quick analysis, they seemed to reveal the exact date and time that the pages in question were printed: 06:20 on 9 May, 2017 – at least, this is likely to be the time on the printer’s internal clock at that moment. The dots also encode a serial number for the printer.
What it Takes to Cook Some of Literature's Most Famous Meals | Arts & Culture | Smithsonian Dinah Friedhas created and photographed 50 famous meals from literature. From Holden Caulfield's cheese sandwich and maltto Oliver Twist's gruel, Fried has compiled a collection of images that fascinates food, photography and literature lovers alike in her newbook,Fictitious Dishes. "Eating and reading just go hand in hand," said Fried, "we use the same words, to have a voracious appetite for food or for books."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 10, 2017 8:55 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Moving Daze

With the duct tape and chewing gum wads of the MovableType software that holds this site together slowly falling apart, I've no choice but to move the type here to another platform: Wordpress. This means that I have to do what nobody my age ever wants to do; learn a new program. Result? Posting here shall be light through the weekend as I try to set up a new home in space.

All I have to do is move over 30,000 items from one planet to another. Confidence is high. Repeat: Confidence is high.

What I think I'm building:


What I am probably building:


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 8, 2017 11:14 AM | Comments (18)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Curse Carved Into the Cursing Stone


Carlisle: The Cursing Stone:The cursing stone, which stands in a subway linking Carlisle castle and the Tullie house museum, is inscribed with a curse first invoked by the Archbishop of Glasgow in 1525 against cross border families, known as the "reivers", who lived by stealing cattle, rape and pillage. The stone, designed by artist Gordon Young, consists of a 14-tonne lump of granite carved with the 1,069-word 16th Century curse.

That curse is as follows:

I curse their head and all the hairs of their head; I curse their face, their brain, their mouth, their nose, their tongue, their teeth, their forehead, their shoulders, their breast, their heart, their stomach, their back, their womb, their arms, their legs, their hands, their feet, and every part of their body, from the top of their head to the soles of their feet, before and behind, within and without.
I curse them going and I curse them riding; I curse them standing and I curse them sitting; I curse them eating and I curse them drinking; I curse them rising, and I curse them lying; I curse them at home, I curse them away from home; I curse them within the house, I curse them outside of the house; I curse their wives, their children, and their servants who participate in their deeds; their crops, their cattle, their wool, their sheep, their horses, their swine, their geese, their hens, and all their livestock; their halls, their chambers, their kitchens, their stanchions, their barns, their cowsheds, their barnyards, their cabbage patches, their plows, their harrows, and the goods and houses that are necessary for their sustenance and welfare.

There's more. Much, much, much more. But you get the general idea and.... Well... if you insist.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 8, 2017 4:52 AM | Comments (10)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Never a shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile around when the right private jet goes over...

"And what carbon emissions come from my trips... are offset. I live a carbon-free lifestyle, to the maximum extent possible."

Gore's idea of what is possible is so ludicrously crabbed that I don't know why he has any hope of solving any problems at all. He's already hit the maximum by buying carbon offsets?!! Well, he's got the money. And by the way, doesn't Al Gore make money from people buying carbon offsets??Althouse: "Second, we need to ban taxpayer-funded air travel to conferences."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 7, 2017 5:55 PM | Comments (1)  | QuickLink: Permalink

by Gerard Allen Van der Ginsberg


For Karl Rove Solomon

I SAW the second-best minds of my not-so-Great Generation destroyed by Trump Derangement Syndrome, pasty, paunchy, tenured, and not looking too sharp naked,

bullshitting themselves through the African-American streets at cocktail hour lusting for a Cialis refill and one black friend on the down-low,

aging hair-plugged hipsters burning for their ancient political connection to the White House through the machinations of monied moonbats,

who warred on poverty and Blackwater's Wal-Mart and bulbous-eyed and still high from some bad acid in 1968 set up no-smoking zones on tobacco farms in the unnatural darkness of Darwinistic delusions floating a few more half-baked secular notions like "Let's all worship Zero!",

who on the Burly Bears float of gay pride bared their man-breasts and, he she or it, bleated their vaginas' mawkish monologues to John Kennedy's ghost under the Capitol Dome and french-kissed Mohammedan agents in the gore-drenched redrum rooms of Guantanamo,

who passed gas in grad school and on into universities with radiant meth eyes hallucinating President Hillary and Vice-President What Was His Name Anyway?, envisioning world peace among the masters of war and stayed on and stayed on and stayed on sucking off the great teat of academe in unpaid student loans and over-paid professorial positions the better to molest the minds and bodies of children for decades with every third year off in Provence for bad behavior,

who were embraced by the academies and hired by the New York Times for crazy & publishing obscene odes or anything else that trashed Republicans or non-Unitarian Christians without regard for truth since there were no consequences for these posturing poseurs of puke,

who cowered in their marble-countered plasma-screened media rooms in smegma crusted underwear which was no longer Victoria's Secret, burning their money by donating it in carloads to every half-assed Democratic POL that promised re-erections in Two-Ten without the losing proposition of actually holding an election, and listening to Rush Limbaugh through the wall,

who got bombed at public wine-tastings by chugging the slops bin and referencing Sideways, returning to their summer house in the Hamptons where they ate smoked salmon and each other, smoked $400-a-bud marijuana, wore $250 denims, paid the maid $200 a week before taxes, and bitched about how the economy was a mess but did not really, as they claimed, send their $36,000 tax cut back to the government, and continued to suffer the secret shame of Affluenza,

who breathed fire and bile about ungrateful "Democrat plantation negroes" among their cooler college comrades, and shut up around the one black friend they all shared, and drank turpentine to get through "A Night with Gloria Steinem", claimed bogus ego-death, blended health shakes from Cherry Garcia, seaweed, and the dried dung of Deepak Chopra, and Ab-Busted their torsos night after night that their butts might spread on the Le Corbusier sofa eternally after,

with dreams of Two-Ten re-erection victory without elections, with seven different mood-soothing drugs in the Ikea medicine cabinet, with waking Birkenstock nightmares of Trump, Trump, still of Trump, alcohol Jello shots and the soon to be sanctified Holy Matrimony of gay cock and deballings by their now not-so-significant others,

who blathered continuously about the Florida "theft" for decades after the two Trump terms while the One put one, two, maybe three or even four justices on the Supreme Court, but still not nine!, causing a million fatal air-embolisms during consenting acts of mutual Manhattan humm-jobs,

a lost battalion of a multi-million man and mom marching platonic conversationalists jumping to conclusions about WMD off fire escapes off windowsills off World Trade Center out of the moon, yacketayakking screaming vomiting whispering "Trump LIEEEEEEEEED!" forever after into deepest eternity, and moonbat memories and false anecdotes and eyeball kicks and yearning for the electro-shocks of hospitals and the briefness of jails and bring back the endless Trump wars that we may hate into our drool-cups again .... oh my sorry little schmos.... ,

who wandered around and around at midnight at the White House wondering where O smoked and Michelle hid her dildos, got the address of Obama's birthplace in Hawaii at 1776 Kenya Street and went there with fresh batteries, and found Barbra Streisand muffdiving in the lanai with Whoopi Goldberg and Goldie Hawn, all set on leaving no child's behind,

who had double-standard visions of fashionable footwear while their baby seals died, turned inside-out into a pair of fur-lined muck-lucks by Halliburton, Halliburton, Halliburton, Halliburton

who thought they were only mad when the second coming of TrumpHitler appeared in the clouds above their White House like the mother ship in Independence day proclaiming "Neener, neener, neener,"

who in humorless protest turned Hillary Clinton into their personal hand-puppet, which she enjoyed, and then complained that she looked far too much like the devil spawn of Howdy Doody and Alfred E. Newman, and that the fit was too loose,

who scribbled celebrity porn from scuffed kneepads in the offices of Vanity Fair and collected and shaved stray cats far into their barren Pecksniffian nights until that bleak Upper West Side dawn when, waking from their stupor, rolled over in bed and discovered they had slept, not with their sixth spouse, but with Barney Frank, and thought, "Well, that's an upgrade,"

who dreamt O-Ba-Ma! O-Ba-Ma! hectoring and bloviating in the White House until in galactic luminosity Nancy Pelosi stood knock-kneed and naked on "Fleece the Nation" clad only in her San Francisco penis-gourd of flaccid played-out policies, while being frisked by a thousand agents of I-Am-the-President Obama, super avenging angel of the SortaSocialist Party, now and forever recreating the syntax and measure of polluted human prose, "Oh Hope!, Oh Change!, O Timor!, O Mortis!, Oh Yes We Can't!," and then all of them in their faded glory standing before America past, present, and to come, speechless and pseudo-intelligent and shaking with unshamed shame, a whole once proud party now doomed to decorate pikes and lamp-posts,

who were reduced in desperation after aborting their next generation to bribing the fervently fertile illegal constituents of wise Latina judges with appointments, with dinner parties, with caviar burritos, with $50 a shot artisan tequila, with cash for Cuernavaca clunkers, and invitations to bi-lingual and tri-sexual Hollywood "events," rejected yet confessing to the guttering sparks of thought in its treppaned Democrat skull as it proclaimed its new positive program for "Mourning in America," "Yes, yes, yes, like our patron saint Michelle-O-LaBelle that deep driving dominatrix of The Won, we too have a two-inch political penis, give us alllll your money, give us alllll your votes, give us ALLLLL THE POWER!, we and we alone can give you the golden gifts of our youth -- appeasement, defeatism, pacifism, penury, poverty and death!",

and rose reincarnate in the tattered rags of bluster and blabber in the tinhorn shadow of the ballot box and blew the the suffering of America's lumbering liberals' lust for unearned power into an eli eli lamma lamma sabacthani saxophone bleat still pandering for the Jewish vote after erasing Israel, as the American people, at long last no fools they, shived the elite in their entrails and blew them off again and again right past the last bus stop of democracy

with the absolute loss of political significance butchered out of their own body politic good to lose a thousand years.

Posted by Vanderleun Jun 7, 2017 10:57 AM | Comments (62)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Remember, support your local Dirt Person.

RTWT OF THE DAY: Tactics and Money | The Z Blog

These efforts take money, of course, just as the efforts to build up alternative media require funding. That’s where the dissidents are making the most progress. WeSearchr is still trying to find its footing, but it has worked well as a proof of concept for fund raising outside the orthodoxy. The new site Counter.Fund is a very creative idea that could turn out to be a viable alternative to the establishment crowdfunding sites. By being explicitly ideological and open about its business model, it makes supporting it feel important.

Mass movements of any type have certain thresholds they must pass in order to become credible threats to the prevailing orthodoxy. If you’re building a religion, you better be provocative and you have to live off the land, so to speak. If you are building a political party, it is about working the election laws and getting your message out to a broader audience. Put another way, you have to demonstrate tactical savvy and the ability to finance your war against your opponents. Otherwise, people are reluctant to join.

Whatever your preferred term is for the brewing rebellion among the Dirt People, they have weathered the first punch from the Cloud People. The dismissive name calling that was a feature of Progressive commentary, has given way to attacks on the people on the front lines of the fight. The next step is to start going on offense using the rules against the establishment. That means coordination and that means money. There are some good signs so far, but the Dirt People are still a long way from being a credible threat.

Remember, support your local Dirt Person.

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 6, 2017 7:46 PM | Comments (0)  | QuickLink: Permalink
June 6: A walk across a beach in Normandy


Today your job is straightforward. First you must load 40 to 50 pounds on your back. Then you need to climb down a net of rope that is banging on the steel side of a ship and jump into a steel rectangle bobbing on the surface of the ocean below you. Others are already inside the steel boat shouting and urging you to hurry up.

Once in the boat you stand with dozens of others as the boat is driven towards distant beaches and cliffs through a hot hailstorm of bullets and explosions. Boats moving nearby are, from time to time, hit with a high explosive shell and disintegrate in a red rain of bullets and body parts. Then there's the smell of men near you fouling themselves as the fear bites into their necks and they hunch lower into the boat. That smell mingles with the smell of cordite and seaweed.

In front of you, over the steel helmets of other men, you can see the flat surface of the bow’s landing ramp still held in place against the sea. Soon you are in range of the machine guns that line the cliffs above the beach ahead. The metallic dead sound of their bullets clangs and whines off the front of the ramp.

Then the coxswain shouts and the klaxon sounds and then you feel the keel of the LST grind against the rocks and sand of Normandy as the large shells from the boats in the armada behind you whuffle and moan overhead and then the explosions all around increase in intensity and then the bullets from the machine guns in the cliffs ahead and above rattle and hum along the steel plates of the boat and the men crouch lower and then somehow together lean forward as, at last, the ramp drops down and you see the beach and then the men surge forward and you step with them and then you are out in the chill waters of the channel wading in towards sand already doused with death, past bodies bobbing in the surf staining the waters crimson, and then you are on the beach.

It’s worse on the beach.

The bullets keep probing along the sand digging holes, looking for your body, finding others that drop down like sacks of meat with their lines to heaven cut. You run forward because there’s nothing but ocean at your back and more men dying and… somehow… you reach a small sliver of shelter at the base of the cliffs. There are others there, confused and cowering and not at all ready to go back out into the storm of steel that keeps pouring down. And then someone, somewhere nearby, tells you all to press forward, to go on, to somehow get off that beach and onto the high ground behind it, and because you don’t know what else to do, you rise up and you move forward, beginning, one foot after another, to take back the continent of Europe.

If you are lucky, very lucky, on that day, you will walk all the way to Germany and the war will be over and you will go home to a town somewhere on the great land sea of the Midwest and you won’t talk much about this day, or any that came after it, ever. They’ll ask you, throughout long decades after, “What did you do in the war?” You’ll think of this day and you will never think of a good answer. That’s because you know just how lucky you were.

If you were not lucky on that day you lie under a white cross on a large lawn 73 long gone years later.

Weak princes and fat bureaucrats and traitors mumble platitudes and empty praises about actions they never knew and men they cannot hope to emulate.

You hear their prattle, dim and far away outside the brass doors that seal the caverns of your long sleep. You want them to go, to leave you and the others to your brown study of eternity.

"Seventy-three years? Seems like a lot to the living. It’s but an inch of infinite time. Leave us and go back to your petty lives. We march on and you, you weaklings primping and parading above us, will never know how we died or how we lived. If we hear you at all now, your mewling only makes us ask, among ourselves, 'Died for what?'

"Princes and bureaucrats, be silent. Be gone. We are now and forever one with the sea and the sky and the wind and the steel rain. We march on."

Posted by Vanderleun Jun 6, 2017 9:31 AM | Comments (70)  | QuickLink: Permalink
There's a tried and true American approach to suppressing terrorism,
and it worked quite well during Gen. Sherman's 1863 Kentucky campaign and Gen. Phil Sheridan's subsequent reduction of the Shenandoah Valley. We don't have to be particularly smart; we merely have to do some disgusting things. Sherman and Sheridan suppressed sniping at Union soldiers by Confederate civilians by burning the towns (just the towns, not the townsfolk) that sheltered them. In other words, they forced collective responsibility upon a hostile population, a doctrine that in peacetime is entirely repugnant, but that in wartime becomes unavoidable. By contrast, the peacetime procedure of turning petty criminals into police snitches has backfired terribly. No doubt we will learn that the perpetrators of tonight's horror at London Bridge were known to police, like the Manchester Arena suicide bomber and most of the perpetrators of large-scale terrorist acts in Europe during the past several years. The remedy is time-tested and straightforward. We merely require the will to apply it. Counter-terror lessons from America's Civil War | Spengler

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 4, 2017 7:42 AM | Comments (4)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Barrel of GoogleRands

barrelbricksheader.jpgDear Congress or armed IRS agent with a no-knock:

I am writing in response to your request for additional money via the "WTF!? Cough It UP! Re-Financing America Extortion Act of 2010: IRS Form 259B Error" Page I was led to while filing my taxes electronically last night. It noted that I had not paid the full amount of estimated re-tax double blind anticipatory VAT levy for the "care and feeding of citizens who pay no taxes." I had put "Poor Planning" as the cause of my overnight insolvency in Line 42b of sub-paragraph A of Form 259B-subC. Your database asked for a fuller explanation and I trust the following details will be sufficient.

I am a taxpayer by trade. During the last year of the recent mortgage "accident," I was working alone on the roof of a broken-down six-story building in West LA, laying down slate shingles and edging it with solid copper gutters, hoping to flip it to some fortunate soul who has recently landed a $13.25 hour job with the Census Bureau. When I completed the paperwork to purchase this pig, I found I had some cash on hand thanks to the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" section of the "No-Money-Needed Mortgages" still available secretly from Fannie Mae under certain "conditions" (I swear my assertion of 10% Inuit-Kenyan ancestry was true, and not just something I made up in a tanning booth.)

This money, after I converted it to seemingly solid gold GoogleRands, weighed 240 lbs. This was delivered to me on demand by a bank-insured black helicopter drop onto the roof of the building I was hoping to flip. Talk about your "windfall profts!" This was money for nothing. Rather than carry the gold GoogleRands down by hand, I decided to lower them in a barrel by using a pulley attached to the side of the building at the sixth floor. To do so I had the helicopter lift me off the roof and deposit me on the ground. It was all part of their "customer servicing."


Posted by Vanderleun Jun 3, 2017 9:32 PM | Comments (2)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Something Wonderful: Must Love Bugs

"Entomologists Charlie and Lois O’Brien have the largest private collection of insects in the world.

In their 55 years of marriage, these real life “love bugs” have traveled the world gathering specimens for their unique collection. Now in their 80s, the couple plans to donate the 1.25 million bugs carefully catalogued in their Arizona home to a research university. Even without their insects, the love they built on little legs, wings and stingers will live on."

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 3, 2017 8:08 AM | Comments (5)  | QuickLink: Permalink
That's Entertainment: Kathy Griffin in Tears During Press Conference

My favorite video of the year so far: "Dead Slut Squawkin. "

“I’ve dealt with older white guys trying to keep me down my whole life, my whole career. I’m a woman in a very male-dominated field…There’s a bunch of old white guys trying to silence me. And I’m just here to say that’s wrong…This wouldn’t be happening to a guy.”

Let us bid a fond adieu to this rotten person struts and frets while lying and crying her way towards her exit -- Stage Left -- into oblivion. Door. Ass. Bang.

And, by the way, it would seem Griffin has been stalking her own doom for quite some time....


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 2, 2017 3:58 PM | Comments (30)  | QuickLink: Permalink
Storming the Cockpit


America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves. -- Abraham Lincoln

In this Brave New 1984 World all Americans are passengers in a gigantic aircraft flying into the storm clouds of a new harsh history.

Americans always been “The New World,” and every day we wake high above "The Old World". In this aircraft we feel safe in our techno-miracle. Here we feel sealed against the ancient unchanging history still unfolding far below in the eternal blood-feuds and tribal genocides of Africa; below in the bestial gangs of Mexico and the deepening socialist disasters of South America. Above it all we fly here where the beer is cold, the champagne iced, and the service crisp. We fly above the jumbled rubble of ancient empires in the middle east where an moon cult still seeks converts with the sword. In this year of our Lord 2017, America is a large aircraft of some 321 million souls and, in the cargo hold, it carries the future hope, "the last best hope" of all mankind. Still.

This nation “conceived in liberty” is precious and rare. It is also fragile and its controls can be taken over and, like an airliner piloted by an Islamic fanatic, be crashed into the ground or into, as we have seen, our tallest buildings.

It all depends on who is the pilot and where he sets his course for us to transit the towering storm clouds we can see all around us.

Since 9/11 our flight through history has become more perilous. First there was the continuous bungling of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, made more deadly by the constant drone of what came to be known as “Bush derangement syndrome.” This of course was no “syndrome” but a conscious plan to harm the nation by traitors within the media and academia; these traitors are legion as are their underlings.

Our American traitors reached their apotheosis with the elevation of a socialist weakling and coward to the office of the presidency. This odd creature, a man whose resume was only skin-deep, piloted the nation through eight years of torpor, appeasement, cowardice, corruption, and a constant drive to increase race hate among Americans.

In those years the America we all inhabit began to lose power, turn nose down and auger into an earth in which China was flexing its power while their vassal state, North Korea, continued to threaten Earth with nuclear Armageddon. Not satisfied with letting our enemies grow strong, the previous president gave billions to Iran, a nation which had sworn to destroy us with nuclear weapons just as soon as it got their hands on one. To this the previous president effectively said, “God speed.”

And then somebody unexpected stepped forward to try and get control of the aircraft and, through the intervention of a God that still seems determined to bless America, succeeded. He took his rightful place in the cockpit and began to take the America into higher and safer realms.

This could not be allowed. Since the morning of November 9, a vast and vile uprising of traitors, quislings, perverts and their lackeys have risen up, daily and hourly, to try and destroy and overthrow a legitimate election with lies, memes, images and hate so vile that even those who did not especially like the President have now begun to see the traitors actions as despicable.

In short, what we have on board with us is a group of passengers endeavoring to storm the cockpit and murder the nation’s pilot. While these blood enemies are using every media weapon to hand, there is little doubt that -- if they could -- they would use actual weapons to kill this President without hesitation. Depend upon it.

None of these animals can actually fly our plane, mind you. All they can do is destroy it and all of us with it. This is their mission. In their seething hatred they do not even care if they perish in with us. As such they are a clear and present danger to our aircraft, our nation, our lives, and our posterity.

Like the animals with boxcutters on 9/11 there is no negotiation possible with these rabid America-hating animals. They are cut from the same cloth as the Islamic haters of America and are aligned with them. And like them they cannot be allowed to break into the cockpit.

Watch for them. Denounce and out them everywhere.

Avoid crowds. Be prepared. Let's roll.


Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 2, 2017 12:04 PM | Comments (6)  | QuickLink: Permalink
The Japanese. Nuked Too Much or... You know, I try to become more cynical every day but lately I just can't keep up.

[HT: Daved (who should be ashamed of himself.)]

Posted by gerardvanderleun Jun 1, 2017 4:49 PM | Comments (3)  | QuickLink: Permalink
A Change of Heart

"And I thought of all the bad luck,
And the struggles we went through
And how I lost me and you lost you."

-- Don Henley

dove_rs.jpgThere's a lot of it being bandied about these days. Change, that is. Mostly in the realm of the Politics of life. Despite all the hand-wringing and introspection that goes on in this area, I've come to believe that the Politics of life are easy. It's the Poetics of life that are tough.

Changing your politics by either softening or hardening or completely reversing your positions on issues is such a simple intellectual feat that almost anyone, even politicians and lawyers, can manage it. At bottom, it is mostly a matter of viewing or "re"-viewing your internal map of how the world should be, and taking up those positions or opinions or policies that you believe will lead the world from "what it is" to "what the world should be."

Thoughtful and engaged citizens of the nation or of the world continually assemble and reassemble their political beliefs to resemble their visions of the world and its continual becoming. All of which implies, to a greater or lesser extent, some individual control over the creation of policies which determine -- to some degree -- political outcomes.

Politics is the great game of our globe. It is now and always has been the only blood sport played well by both warriors and wimps. This is as it should be since blood or treasure must often be spilled to obtain any one of many possible outcomes. In all this, change may be for the better or the worse, depending on where you stand, but change will come, have its way and send the butcher's bill.

And the butcher's bill will always be more than you imagined you would have to pay. In blood and in treasure, the stakes are fates.

All of that is hard and difficult and, more often than not, splits parties, factions, families and friends right down to the living bone. It is played in real time and with live ammunition. But none of it is mysterious. In the end it involves only the process of politics and, while the rules may be at times obscure, they can still be descried and codified.

Not so the changes of the darkest realm of our lives; that realm we know only dimly but tell ourselves, in our error, that we know well. This is the realm of the human heart; a place where change comes more slowly than wisdom accrues, and rolls below our conscious minds like a deep, underground river into which we have drilled, through the bedrock of our lives, the wells of love and the wells of hate.

We recognize and celebrate the deep wells of love within ourselves. So much so that we invite others, be they strangers, friends or lovers, to drink from them; to refresh themselves and thus know us as the kind of human being that can love and love deeply; that can make the deeper vows of love in life and, despite setbacks, still cling to them and draw strength from them. To close down and fill in one of these wells we open in ourselves to another is still seen -- even in this deluded age of no fault for anything -- a large failure in, and a waste of, life. This is as it should be. A deep love is known, by all who have had it granted to them, as the rarest of all moments of grace to be had in this world. Nothing can buy it and nothing replaces it. One can only nuture it or squander it.

We toast the couple who has made it to fifty years of marriage. We are, indeed, amazed these days when half that measure is achieved. We admire the parents who have a deeply challenged child and yet stick by and raise that child into all the happiness of which that child is capable. We honor all those who spend their lives in service to humanity and even, when that service passes all understanding, raise them up as saints, holy or secular.

The water from our deepest wells of love runs clear and clean. It refreshes the soul. Like all the great waters of this life it carries within it no taste at all other than that which is pure and which is true. Tasted once we carry within us forever a ceaseless thirst for more of it.

Then there are, because we are only human and caught halfway up the stairs between beast and angel, the darker wells of which we do not speak, but which run just as deep and just as ceaseless within our hearts.

These are the wells of the black and bitter water that we drink from at that awful hour of 4 AM in the soul. That hour when the bad phone calls arrive, when the arguments and the accusations twist in the soul, when nothing is satisfied and sleep is slight and the dawn delays.

Nothing good ever transpires in an argument carried past 2AM, and it grows almost lethal as it winds on until 4. It doesn't matter whether or not the argument is with another or just with oneself, let it run that long into the night and you will know -- cold and stained -- the darkest secrets of the self. And you will drink them down as night after night and year after year they are drawn up from the heart's core. And the water will be dank and false and carry an ever increasing taint of poison into your soul. Tasted once, you will have a ceaseless thirst for more of it.

I've been drinking my dark bitter glass from my secret well of hate in the dark hours on and off for what is now going on fifteen years. That's a strange measure since it marks just about the same length of time that I loved the woman and was married to her.

But I'm no addict. I'm no alcoholic of hate. No, not me.

Over time I no longer drank from this dark well nightly. I'd lost a couple of years to its intoxicating haze in the early 90s, but I emerged from that in time. Say what you will of the dark water, it did not rule my life, only -- from time to time -- my nights.

After some years had passed it surprised me to realize that I had not really thought of her for months. It was surprising to notice that my once nightly mantra of secret thoughts centered on all the wrongs done, and all the years of my child's life stolen from me, had retreated to a much more infrequent pattern. I was relieved that the thoughts that always spiraled down into the dark (where I would imagine the worst sort of things happening to the woman I once loved above all others) had faded to a sometime thing.

And there it stayed, a sometimes thing. A steady state of hate.

Of course, because it came up from a well of hate I had dug deep into my heart with my own hands, the sometimes thing was always the same thing on those random nights when it filled my sleeplessness. It was a thing fashioned from the shabbiest materials of my soul, all the cheap claptrap that I was capable of pasting to the mildewed walls, all the shoddy stuff that held me up as a heroic "sufferer" at another's hands, the eternal moist "victim of circumstance," the paltry, spurned lover. The husband who had been so unjustly cast aside that he had conveniently forgotten his own hand in the matter. The wronged father who could not be bothered to look at his own failures when the spite and the maliciousness was so clearly all on the other side.... On and on it went in a litany of wrongs unavenged. The trial was held and held again and the verdict on her "crimes against my humanity" was, according to the jury (that would be me as well) always guilty, guilty, guilty.

Then I'd siphon up another glass of black hate from the dark well of my heart, knock it back neat, and get on to my favorite part: punishment. I won't go into the punishments I would imagine except to say that I have an extremely vivid imagination and that being in the book and movie "American Psycho" would have seemed like an all expenses paid day at Disneyland by comparison. After all, it is the nature of hate to feed upon itself and, like all addictions, demand greater and greater quantities to become sated. Let's just say I ate my revenge slow and cold with a table knife.

And that was how my private little melodrama played in the showcase of my soul as a decade rolled by and I waited for it, like some perverted and worn Velveteen Rabbit, to become real. I'd hear of her from time to time but never in any great detail. I could have if I'd wanted to since I still retained connections with various members of her family. But I didn't ask and they didn't tell. In truth, so dark was the hate I held for her that I thought I didn't want to hear anything about her unless the news was bad -- very, very bad.

I honesty and deeply believed that about myself right up until the day I actually heard some very, very bad news about her.

It came in over the rumor mill of the telephone, just like the game of telephone. Somebody told somebody something. That somebody told somebody else something. And that somebody told me. It was a series of anecdotes four times removed from the subject. Little more than the thin gruel of gossip watered down and enhanced four times over.

The tale told was bleak and awful. It had all the things about it that I had, in my hate, been waiting to hear: disease, destitution, loneliness and ruination. My waiting cup was at long last filled to overflowing and handed to me.

And I could not drink from it. I dashed it from my lips. In one stunned instant I knew that everything I had been telling myself for nearly 15 years about my deepest feelings for this person had been one of the most carefully constructed and meticulously executed lies I have ever told. And one that I had told only to myself. One that I had believed.

It was in one moment revealed to me as a lie because my very first and deepest reactions to the awful news I had been waiting for for so long was neither the glee nor the jubilation I had always imagined, but the exact polar opposite of both these states.

My first reaction was one of shock, of concern, or wanting to know more, of thinking immediately of which resources I possessed that could be brought to bear to help her, no matter what the cost.

A second illumination followed almost instantly upon the first and I saw tumble through my mind a host of bright memories I had long thought erased forever. The roses by the cabin door in Big Sur where we had first become lovers. The nights above the fog moving over the Presidio in San Francisco. Her face leaning out of the window of her loft down on Duane Street in New York as she threw down the keys. The wedding at the Pierre in New York. The flat in Belgravia. The villa in the Algarve, the apartment in Paris and the village house up along the Western Front. Her hand crushing mine as our daughter was born. The picnic in the Boston Public Gardens in a blizzard of blossoms from the cherry trees. The Hanukkah/Christmas evening when I looked into our house in Connecticut and saw her and my daughter lighting the candles on the musical Menorah.

Everything that had been good and true and wonderful across all the years before it all went smash rolled back over me, much as they say life does before a drowning man. Only it didn't drown me. It pushed me up out of my chair, out into the sunlight on the dock, and there it.... Sat. Me. Down.

It sat me down beside the still waters of the inlet with a ringing in my ears. Then it cold-cocked me like a ball-peen hammer stroke to the third eye with the truth of what I had been drowning with hate for so long. What I'd been hating darkly was not her at all but what I had let happen, in all the small and large ways that you do, to destroy what we had had and would never have again. A sad and sorry and shabby truth to be sure. All the more sad and sorry and shabby for being, in the end, so very common and ordinary.

After about an hour of this, I got up and went back into the houseboat office and made a call. I knew enough about the ways of the "telephone game" to know that you verify rumors before acting.

In a day I got an answer back that, in fact, nothing very dire was happening at all. Life for her went on and, in the main, that life was good. No threatening diseases, no financial ruin, no more loneliness than is common to single people of a certain age, and that she enjoyed the steady love of our daughter. Some travel was in the offing and, on the whole, everything was all right. Examining some of the details of her recent life made it clear how rumor bred with rumor to yield a dire report, but like all gossip it was only a few flecks of truth that were expanded into a false tragedy. There was nothing in it that called out for my intervention and thus no need to alter the state of no-connection that had suited us both for so long. We'd both, as they say, moved mostly on. No need for change in that regard.

Change. There's a lot about it being bandied about in the political sphere where, as I mentioned, it comes easy enough. Less so, much less so, when it comes to the change of the heart.

And a change of the heart is, I suppose, what I've finally gotten out of the whole long, sad, sorry and sordid tale. In the weeks since this happened I won't pretend that the deep and black well in my heart has somehow been back-filled by God, made whole in some miraculous moment. I don't think God does plumbing like that. He probably sub-contracts it out to free-will and leaves the heavy lifting up to you. I do know that I've managed to cap that dark well at last and am busy carrying in stones to keep the lid on.

Just as well because I'm not going to drink from that bitter water again. You need the power of a lie to work that pump, and once you know the truth about yourself you've got no handle to work it with. But I'm going to keep piling on the stones. Just in case.

Posted by Vanderleun Jun 1, 2017 8:45 AM | Comments (46)  | QuickLink: Permalink
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