Thursday, October 5, 2017

West Wing Story


President Trump's speech in San Juan.

"But I consider it a great honor, maybe because I know so many people from Puerto Rico that are such great people—I come from New York.

"Puerto Rico... You lovely island...
"Island of tropical breezes. Always the pineapples growing,
"Puerto Rico... You ugly island...
"Island of tropic diseases. Always the hurricanes blowing,

"Yes. I know your sacrifice. The gangs that rove your streets. The Jets and Sharks that circle your shores in the big, wet ocean, preventing our invincible FEMA marines from landing there in the middle of the Atlantis, where you are. It's big and wet, but we still come to your aid. Even though FEMA is only for real Americans. #FakeAmericans.

"Our forces are doing a bang up job. Texas. Louisiana. Florida. FEMA saved Mar A Lago. God bless 'em. You've got to think about the children of America, doing the child labor tasks that only they, with their tiny hands and no advocacy groups, can do. I can only wish that on the rest of them, poor blighters. Make America Gilded-Age Again.

"But puerto Rico, you can't expect a handout. You're not Wall Street or the Defense Department, you know. And not just because you've been mean to me. I can take it. Even though you are. No. But there must be a reckoning. We all know about the Puerto Rican gangs terrorizing New York with their knives and their singing and dancing. Hardly a fire escape is safe. Let alone the drug stores. There has to be some payback here. Not that I wouldn't like to grab that Maria's piƱata. Am I right, boys? #LockerRoomTalk.

"So I will be sending in General Schrank to oversee the mess you people made here all by yourselves. Don't thank me. You don't deserve him, of course. You brought this all down upon your own heads, but hey! I'm nothing if I'm not compassionate. Schranky will do a wonderful job. A beautiful job. A bang up job telling me what a wonderful job I'm doing. And, let me tell you. That's true patriotism. That's true leadership. A true American. You can learn from him. #NotAmerican.

"By the way, do you have any golf courses?"

Saturday, September 23, 2017

A Kiss

A kiss is a promise.
What kiss? How is this?
Any kiss. Every kiss that ever was kissed.
The kiss never kissed and the kiss often missed.

A kiss and a hug to a coworker at work,
Whom you've known for ages in the corporate murk,
But, sadly, never thought of as else but a cog,
Till a kiss and a hug left you both all agog.

A kiss, and a hug, for an actor back stage,
On opening night! When the stage is arage.
All the world is a stage full of frenetic energy,
You can't keep it in. How else could it be?

A lovers' kiss! Well. There's romance aplenty.
And comedy and farce and giggles. And mystery.
That kiss is electric, from lips down to toes,
And up again, by diverse paths. Where the electricity flows.

So, a kiss is a promise. A promise of what?
Some future boon? Sex? Love? Friendship? Yes, but?
But a tender embrace called life that ne'er ends,
The best kisses have all. Lovers. Companions. Friends.

And something else. Other worldly and eternal,
Kisses don't exist in time. Well, not today, truth tell.
If a kiss is a promise from where does it hail?
The future, ours waiting; the strong and the frail.

Come to me, says she. I have more to give,
If life's about living. Then. Come. Live.
Every kiss you take is a lure and a hook.
Every kiss you make is a fish in the brook.

Every brook, every lure, every hook, every fish,
Ends. As it began. As a hope and a wish.
For you, my lover, or pal, or friend,
Hand in hand, to the future. May we kiss without end.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Future



Artistic revolutions make the future from heresy,
What is unbelievable today, or on the sinners' wheel,
Is tomorrow normal, and the next day, passe,
Despite the vapid, faithful adherent's zeal.

Till the next revolution. The wheel turns, on thou,
Grinding on thine normal reckoning of what is and should be.
The faithful of the flame, once knowing, and now,
Tossed aside, the dead of the past, unconvincingly.

So move, and move again. Will you go? Forward!
To new paths and souls and signs and religions.
Who does not progress, indeed, progresses backward,
Or stays. In lost and hopeless, forgotten regions.

On? Or up? Or off? Or nether?
Beats me. The future is, as always, omniscient.
So. Why not go off to it together?
On a calm day, and a cruel. And one so heaven sent.

To the future. Take my hand.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Hate Me Later

I’ve got it. I’ve been thinking of this for, like, thousands of years or something. It’s philosophical time, why not? It’s like Deep Thought, now that I think of it. The grand collection of billions of brains working trillions of brain-years on a simple problem.

Who should we hate?

Or, more specifically, what should we do with all of the hate that is already within us? I hate, you hate, and we all hate aplenty. There’s no besting the human race in the hate department. God, we hate people over chemicals in their skins. How mindless is that? And don’t pretend that you don’t. The hate’s there. Even when you play games that it’s not. You're not fooling anybody.

Why not put hate on a payment plan. I mean, that’s what we do with everything else, right? No money down? 30 easy payments? Monthly installments? Pieces of amortized cake? Buy now, pay later? It’s the American dream! All actions! No consequences!

Don’t like me? Fine! Hate me later. Your skin’s not the right hue to do? Well, I’ll hate you later. Right now we’ve got other cats to pet. I need to work with you even though you are a jackass idiot who probably, unjustifiable, thinks the same of me? Sure. I’ll hate you later. For now let’s suck it up and work together, OK?

You’re a woman and whenever some guy says boo to you they’re “Mansplaining?” Get over yourself, Sister. Just say, “Yes, Pal. I get it,” and get on with it. Hate the prick later. For now? Deal with it. She deals best who deals pragmatically.

You’re a guy and some woman’s giving you orders because she’s, like, the boss or something? Snivel on your own time, man-baby. Hate‘r later. Now? Do your fucking job like she’s fucking doing hers. And thank her if she’s a good boss. Those are precious hard to find, no matter what’s in their pants. Take orders from anybody who’s on your side.

They wear funny clothes? Guess what! Your clothes are funny to them. Hate them later. Right now, work together. Burka, pants suit, leisure suit, robes, burkini, butt naked. Who the fuck cares? Hate ‘em later. Now? Dig wells. Build schools. Bring peace. Hate can wait.

Can’t speak the same language? Find a new one! DeutchRus? ChinEnglish? FrancSwahili? You can certainly come up with common words for Meat, Bread, I love you, Look out for that bear! What’s your sign? and, Why did we used to hate each other, again? It’s amazing how flexible linguistics can be. Just follow Twitter. Hate? Hate can take a back seat to understanding.

If you’re an asshole and you happen to be black. Well, black, white, yellow, green, whatever. I’ll hate you for that later. Right now I just have to deal with your assholery, like every other asshole on the planet. That is universal. Color is incidental. And are you positive that the other person is the asshole? There are other candidates in the room, you know…

And somewhere down the line while we’re putting off all that hate to another day while trying to get along with and understand everybody else, we may just forget to hate anybody. Now wouldn’t that beat all?

The Hug

Coco!

A little girl is playing on her cell phone, some kind of game or nonsense. The girl with the electronic buddy. She buzzes along on her app, game, thing and does not notice that someone is calling her name.

I'm sitting nearby, back stage. At a play we are both in. In a community theater. I'm waiting for my entrance que. So is she. She plays on with her distraction machine. I look for mischief.

Coco, I say again.

Hmm?

Watcha doing? I bring my head next to hers and look at the phone screen. It dances with color and oblivion.

Playing.

Oh. Playing what?

A game.

OK. I sit up and look around the theater back stage, making sure my costume is alright and my makeup is not smudged, or properly smudged, if that's what it's supposed to be. It's ages in theater time till my entrance. Idle hands are the devil's play things. I can come up with a game of my own, little Miss!

Coco, I say, for a third time. I just can't stand sitting there, doing nothing.

Hmmm?

Whatcha doing? I stick my head between her head and the veil of shadows in her lap. She balks. Quit it!

OK. I jump back, breathing in another waft of back stage time.

You wanna see something, Coco?

What?

Something special.

What special?

It's the most special thing in the Universe!

Coco missed a beat on her game.

Huh?

Almost.

Coco's mom has been eyeing me, suspiciously, as all good moms should, from a couch in the corner next to the fuse box and an ancient ice cream machine that nobody knows why is there. She looks dubious. The next step: Kill.

Coco. What's the most special, important thing in the world? Besides ice cream.

I dunno. Mom?

Moms are good. You've got me there.

K. Coco isn't really into the conversation. I'm not into the silence.

Got a hug for me?

I can feel the female defense pheromones pouring out of Mom. Not My Little Girl!

No. It's the best thing in the world. It's the first thing in the world. It's the only thing in the world. Got a hug for me?

Reluctantly, and under the trigger sharpened laser beam eyes of Mom, Coco gives me a hug.

It's the first thing anybody feels, I tell her. The hug inside of your mother. Right there. Where her hands meet over her tummy. And we hug her back, as best we can. And we want it for the rest of our lives. And we are conflicted when it is not there. Why? Where? Mom?

Coco?

Hmmm?

A hug is at the beginning. At the after. At the now. We are forever hugging our world, our friends, our selves. We celebrate the time when you were me. When you and I were one and the Universe was perfect, placid, and serene. Before we became the I and the Thou. And so we hug.

Coco looks confused. Mom looks non-plussed. I look philosophical, whatever that means.

Give me a hug, little Miss. For that is all that is.

The Phones

So, I decided to come into the twenty first century for a bit of novelty. I cancelled my old, hand crank, candlestick, land line phone and upgraded to an alleged smart phone. I kept my carrier, AT&T because, well, I still remember when they were the Phone Company and I have nostalgia for Ma Belle, ringey-dingey, and all that (now, who remembers that reference?)

So, the AT&T store person filled me in on all the options, laid before my feet like virgins on the precipice of a volcano. I decided on a Samsung 3 something phone because it would fit in my pocket and still give me the portable power of the gods that I so richly deserved. I had seen Harryhausen movies. What could go wrong?

The Phone Chores looked up and said, Eh?

The phone lady said that they didn't have the latest glorious incarnation of the Galactic 3 phone but that I could just go buy one from Walmart, bring it back, and they could imbue it with the fire of the gods for me. I wanted to be sure I had a current vessel of imbuing.

And here the Phone Chorus sang out: Gods don't just imbue anybody with anything. Take my word for it.

So I went and bought a Samsung 3 something phone from Walmart and brought it back to Ma Belle. I specifically asked, Is this the right phone? Of course! she said, and did all the magic, configuring my new phone, creating a brand new vessel of prayer and supplication, ex nihilo, and Poof! I was connected to the Ethereal Heights!

I could call people. The Phone Chorus smirked.

So, I went home and started adding the shrines to the lesser deities; Google, Facebook, Email. And the minor helper spirits from the Halls of App; flashlight, Uber,  Hulu. And all was good.

The Phone Chorus looked at each other and shrugged.

Until. I had one function that didn't work. So I went back to the Temple of Telecommunication and asked, What gives? I had presented my supplications to the Oracle of Google, but to no avail. So the Priestesses of Belle laid their hands upon my holy relic and drove out the demons of miscommunication. Or they found the right option in settings, maybe. I didn't care. As long as I could connect its blue teeth to my car and play show tunes. So I was on my way.

He'll be back, intoned the Phone Chorus.

Another time I couldn't use voice mail, so they exorcised that malicious spirit. Then, today, I couldn't access the Internet without a hotspot, even though I was paying for a Trinity of Gigs every month. So back to the techno-temple to supplicate, Um, why doesn't the damn thing work?

The Phone Chorus sang out; What, miracles you expected?

This time I got a real answer. I had the wrong phone.

Huh?

The phone I had was for Verizon. It was not compatible with AT&T. Then why didn't they catch that little theological heresy two weeks ago when I specifically asked if I had the right phone, and send me back to get the right phone instead of this abomination to the high heavens?

It was at this point that the Phone Chorus started singing about what jerks the gods are.

So I brought my pathetic, Protestant Verizon phone back to Walmart and asked to transsubstantiate it into a holy, Catholic phone, which they did after expressing righteous indignation that AT&T was even able to get the damned thing to work at all. Black magic must have been in there someplace. You have to have the underworld to be a good story.

The Phones chirped something about hubris and call waiting.

So now, I have the right engine of supplication, 24/7, in my pocket. My own household god accepting my worship and milliwatts of power in return for 4G, Internet, Google, Voice and data, email, and all the modern liturgy of the congregation of the faithful.

And the Phone Chorus sang about connection errors, or something. Fucking frogs.

The Phones, Reprise

So, the gods granted poor Oedipus salvation, 4g, voice, and a thinking machine in the Macintosh. I should be suspicious. And so it is.

And the phones sing out: You thought we were done with you, huh?

I get a call from a robot. My mourning is interrupted by my TARDIS ring tone (Look! My ride is here!)

The Phones smirk. Karmic humor is our business, Bozo.

Madam robot informs me that she is not a telemarketer, prank call, or Nigerian Prince(ss.) She's just giving me a friendly reminder that my cyclical payment is past due. The one for the very phone I am being reprimanded on by her. I can stay on the line, exchange gold, place my first born, bound, on a hilltop, or avenge wrongs done against the gods in payment, though a credit card would work, too. Please have your phone number and last four digits of your Sosh ready. An agent will take your call directly.

Phones: Ya. We're bureaucratic, too. You should see the paperwork.

Tacky phone music plays. And an ad for something I, surprisingly, already own.
Hello! I'm Valerie. How can I help you? What do you know? A Madam Person!

Phones: Hah! Now the slaughter commences.

Oh, hello. I've been an at&t customer since it was AT&T. Back when Lily Tomlin was in diapers. Recently I upgraded to a smart phone with all the trimmings. I thought my account was already set up to charge my KarmaKard for monthly payments. It looks like something didn't hook up right.
No problem. I can set that up for you. We're sorry for the inconvenience.

The Phones were off shooting craps in an alley.

Madam Person Valerie brings up my account. Checks for unforgivable sins, or maybe credit score, then takes my incantation, full name, expiration date, security code, next of kin.
Great! I'll just rustle up the billing elementals... This will just take a moment.

The Phones say: Yah. Right.

Time passes, as is it's want.

And passes.

And wants.

Gee, said Madam Human. This is taking longer than usual. I make small talk. Her accent sounds southern, so I say I hope she missed the hurricanes. She says she did. I say I'm in New England and might get a brizzle tomorrow. That's a bit of a drizzle. She responds..., respondingly.

The Phones are like: Come on. You Mortals aren't supposed to, like, get along or relate to each other as real people or stuff. IRONIC BETRAYALS! Don't you sock puppets read the classics?

Valerie comes back and says the billing system is down. She is very sorry but I am welcome to call back later or go online if I have an account. I thank her and we exchange niceties as humans in a chaotic world are want to do. That's what makes the world nice.

The Phones look glum. What, no Peloponnesian war? No blood feud started solely on a misunderstanding? No jealous gods shoving it down each others throats?

Fuck, I need a real job.

International Chapter

So I got my inspiration instrument, or 'smart' phone, connected to the greater ethereal plane, plasma, stuff. I can do international dialing, text, and crap now. Voice is a dollar a minute. Text is free. Oh, I just have to turn off roaming (Rome-ing? How unmythological!) I'm all set for my Ireland trip.

Three..., two..., one...

What, no snarky karma trash talk from the Phone Chorus? Where tf are you guys, anyways? Come on. I did something. Now come tell me that the gods are furious and I must be punished or that I am destined to go back in time, swap out a y chromosome in my mothers womb, marry the resulting female me and that I will be the offspring of said abomination. What? You never thought of that one? Come on! It's your job to come up with ironic, self referential punishments! Do I have to do all your work for you? Are you guys 'Not in Service' or what?

Oh. Off tormenting some poor sap is Sarasparilla-ville, eh? He put the stamp on upside down for his final Hades insurance payment and it can't be delivered? Eternal torment and all that? All for the lack of perspective? And you don't have any backup to spare on me, huh? Don't give me that budget cuts crap! Bureaucratic error. Not my job, outsourced gods, etc. Alright. I'll wait. Play some musac. That's eternal punishment enough.

What's a guy got to do to get his karmic comeuppance, anyway?

Amateurs.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

A Moment of Silence



At 1:00 O'clock, Saturday, August 26, 2017, a service commenced at the chapel at Pomfret School, Pomfret, Connecticut, in memory of Bob Sloat. He was a retired teacher from Pomfret School, a talented, active member of the community who inspired and befriended all he met, and a genuinely loving person. I knew him from my activity at the Bradley Playhouse where Bob was a founding member, president emeritus, and often conducted the orchestra for musicals. He was also involved with the tech, such as lights, and mentored many people in technology, such as me.

Unsurprisingly, the chapel was packed. At the same time the cast and crew of the Little Mermaid assembled on stage for a moment of silence. If we could have, every one of us would have been there, too. Room capacity be damned. So we paid our respects the best way we knew. By getting dressed in our costumes, putting on makeup, doing warmups, pre show hugs and kisses, making sure our spotlights were in working order, mic checks, making popcorn, greeting patrons, ushering people to their seats, and generally preparing for a first class show to give to our audience, as Bob would have wanted.

And we paused from our theater hubbub. Cast. Crew. Orchestra. Lobby staff. Theater management. Whoever could. And were silent. For Bob.

In silence we meet a fearsome foe. And a fickle friend. Memory. So we remembered.

It is said that the worst thing about losing someone is not in the grief that he is gone. It's in all the days after when he stays gone.

We remember.



Now conduct the choirs of Heaven, Bob.