Friday, December 25, 2015

Of Guns and Gift Wrap

To Every American who gave or received a gun this Christmas:
I’m setting aside my opinion concerning the popularity of this gift-choice on this Christian day of peace to wish you a Merry Christmas with the sincere hope that this gun, this Christmas gift, is never fired in anger, in despair, or accidentally. May it be used skillfully for legal target-sport or hunting, and may any game it takes from the wild be taken for food and not trophy, and may that nourishment from nature be taken respectfully and humanely. Lastly and most importantly, should the exceptionally rare situation ever occur where the use of this gun becomes an option for personal defense, or to protect innocent life, may its wielder possess perfect judgement, and may their aim be true… for there is no pause button, or rewind button on this device.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Happymerry Christmakkah

Here’s a touching little holiday story so new that I haven’t even had time to add exaggerations to it yet…

It all began last Saturday at a little shop in Winslow, Washington, where I bought a combination Hanukkah-Christmas card to send to a Jewish friend of mine who lives out of the country with a nice non-Jewish woman. Yes, I realized when I bought it that Hanukkah is just around the corner, so I planned to get it in the mail right away…

Well last night (four days later) my wife reminded me that I need to get that card in the mail right away. “Oh crap!” I said, “I’ll send it out first thing in the morning!”

So this morning I sat down at the dining room table and began preparing the card. My handwriting has deteriorated over the years, so instead of scrawling with a pen and possibly ruining the card, I went to the computer and typed up a message to insert into the card… Well actually I typed, edited, and printed the message several times before I got it just right; and then with tedious care, I inserted it into the card. The original card was blank on the inside, so with just a touch of glue the insert looked like it came right from the Hallmark factory.

On the outside of the card was a drawing of a reindeer with lit Hanukkah candles on its antlers, and the greeting “happymerry christmakkah” printed next to it.

The message I typed in the insert went like this:
“Dear _____ and ______: I know it may seem cruel to place lit candles on the antlers of reindeer, but as long as you arrange them so they don’t drip hot wax into their eyes or onto the tips of their noses the deer don’t really seem to mind; plus there’s snow on the ground and the fire danger is very low at the present time (I checked). So please accept this reindedelabra as a sign that goyim and Jews can light up the season together... And goodness knows the world needs all the enlightening it can get!” The note continues with personal memories and holiday wishes, blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, with the finished card in one hand, and a couple rejected copies of the insert in the other hand I went back to the table to get the envelope. Along the way I stuffed the rejected inserts into the paper shredder.

When I sat down to put the card in the envelope… Now wait a minute, don’t get ahead of me here… When I sat down to put the card in the envelope I… I couldn’t find the card. All I had in my hand were a couple drafts of the insert. “Now where did that card go?” I thought to myself. I spent the next several minutes retracing my steps. After thoroughly searching the area around the computer and around the table, and along the pathway in between, I finally started thinking what you’re probably thinking already…

The shredder! No, I couldn’t have. I just couldn’t have. I lifted the lid… Yes I did.

The nice folks at the shop in Winslow (89 miles away) are mailing me a new card… And yes, I know, Hanukkah is just around the corner, so I plan to get it in the mail right away! With a little luck, it should get there by Christmas.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Hat

I’m not typically a hat wearer, a cap donner, a chapeau aficionado, or even a hoodie flipper, but recently while perusing through a fine men’s wear haberdashery in a small mountain village of Bavarian persuasion smothered in Christmas sauce, I spotted a hand-made… Wait! Not just a hand made, but a "Responsibly grown, (and) beautifully made" hat (according to the sewn in label). A genuine member of the “Conner hand-made hats” family! And as fate would have it, it was an extra-large… just like my head!

To sweeten the deal even further, it was a dusty faded shade of pine green, pre-scuffed and pre-worn in all the right places; not quite a fedora and not quite an Aussie outback hat. It was… it was the perfect hat. And by perfect I mean it was the first hat to ever speak to me, and it said, and I quote, “Hey dude, I’m your hat”.

“I don’t need a hat,” I said back to the hat, and I set it down and continued walking through the haberdash… Ha! Who am I kidding? I continued walking through the overpriced Leavenworth gift shop.

Then I heard my wife say, “Do you like that one?”

“What?” I said. “Yeah, I guess, but I don’t need a hat,” I continued.

“You should get it,” she shot back.

I reluctantly returned to the hat. It sat there looking a little smug for my taste, but I picked it up and dropped it back on my head. It fit perfectly… “Slytherin!” it hissed. I flinched and the hat laughed, “just kidding,” it said. “I see you've read the books…”

“Yeah I read the…”

“I think you should get it,” my wife said, unknowingly interrupting my conversation with the hat.

I looked at the price tag and set the hat back down for the second time. “I can’t afford it,” I said.

She picked it up and checked the tag. “It’s $49.00. You can afford $49.00,” she informed me.

“That’s a lot for a hat!” I protested. But being as well-versed about hat prices as I am about the going rate of mangos in Dubai I was apparently unconvincing.

“Get the hat,” she said.

“Do you want this in a bag, or will you be wearing it?” the cashier asked.

"I'll wear it," I said, and I still wear it… Because after all, it’s the perfect hat.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Tipping Point

We enter the rapid
off balance.
The current
more than my paddle
sets our course,
and chooses our fate.

A fallen tree
reaching up like a beggar
nudges the side of our canoe.
An observing raven
flies from its branches
loudly calling out its displeasure,
as the river’s icy water envelopes us
quickly and completely.

Rising to the surface
my wife and myself,
our canoe and our gear,
scatter like raindrops
on a freshly waxed car hood,
gripped only by gravity.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

As Alexander Graham Bell Intended

Remember when you could end a phone call by putting the receiver… The receiver… You know, the talky part on the curly cord. Anyway, remember when you could end a phone call by putting the receiver back on main part of the telephone, in the cradle thingy, by the number dial? You could set it, you could slam it; with a little practice you could even toss it. As long as you got it on there halfway straight the call was over, fineto, finished! Geeze I miss those days. Now half the time I can’t figure out how to hang up my telephone... Er, excuse me, my “smart phone”.

Oh I know how to press the END CALL button. The problem is that it’s never there when I need it. Something always happens when I remove the phone from my ear to look at it. The screen has changed! The END CALL button that was just there a second ago has frickin’ gone AWOL! I don’t know where it goes, and I don’t know why my phone needs so many different phone screens. All I know is that this is why the telephone and the phone receiver should be separate like Alexander Graham Bell intended… So you can slam the two together when you’re done talking, and get on with your life.

But nooooo, we couldn’t leave well enough alone. If I ever leave you a phone message… oops, excuse me, I mean a voice mail. If I ever leave you a voice mail there’s a good chance it will end with, “How the hell do I hang this… Where the #%@* did that button go?!” followed by several seconds of silence before the smart phone figures I’m done. “Why do you even leave voice messages?” you may ask… If I coulda hung up before the beep, don’t you think I woulda?

Thankfully live conversations generally go better because while I’m flipping through phone screens searching for the magic button, the person on the other end hangs up and we’re done. If anyone as inept at this as I am ever dials my number we’re screwed. We’ll be stuck together all day. I’ll probably have to run into a public bathroom and throw my phone in a toilet to end the call.
Well, That’s all I’ve got to say for now. Good bye… Click!

Racism at the Highest Level

Rolling Stone recently named President Obama “One of the Most Successful Presidents in American History”, but imagine what could have happened if, like white pitchers throwing at Jackie Robinson’s head, a group of white lawmakers hadn’t since day-one been trying to take our President out of the game. Of course I’m talking about the Eric Cantor led group who vowed on January 20, 2009 to oppose every bill that President Obama supported regardless of the fallout solely to destroy his presidency. History will clearly show these men to be backwards immoral frauds who risked a nation in an attempt to take down one man of color for having had the audacity, like Jackie and others, to break down another one of their sacred racial barriers. Their back-slapping self-congratulating conversations will blow away in the wind, but their shame, just like Barack and Jackie’s success will be written in stone for the ages. Thank you Barack, for enduring and succeeding in a rigged white man's game for all of us who cheered, as well as for those who booed.

Friday, July 24, 2015

My Best Pet Yet

Note: This was written for a poetry prompt. The prompt was "What pet should I get," written in 20 lines or less.

What Pet should I get, or should I get two?
Should I get a duet, or will one creature do?
And where should I keep it, here under my bed?
And if it won’t fit, then my closet instead?
Should it be furry, or covered in scales?
Something that scurries, or has a long tail?
Something that swims, or something that purrs?
And what should I name him, or should I name her?

And where should I look for this new pet of mine?
Should I look in a book, or go shopping online?
Should I look in a guide? Should I look high and low?
Well when I decide, I will let you all know.

Well it’s time to report that I got my new pet!
I named him Mort. He’s my finest  pet yet!
I just went in the yard, and I climbed up a tree.
It wasn’t that hard. I just caught me a bee,
in a little glass jar, with some holes in the lid,
and it may seem bizarre, but here’s what I did.
I gave him his name, “Morton J. Bee”,
then I opened the lid, and I let him go free.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

WARNING: Iceberg ahead

Some people say, America today is a lot like the Titanic was in 1912, heading straight for an iceberg; and they may not be too far off. But blaming people on food stamps, Medicare, welfare, etc. for our current mess and dangerous trajectory makes about as much sense as blaming the poor people who perished on the lower decks of the Titanic for that disaster. No, those poor immigrants searching for a better life at the dawn of the last century didn’t steer the ship “full steam ahead” into catastrophe, and neither are today’s immigrants, working poor people, or those receiving needed government assistance steering America “full steam ahead” into the looming shadow of her iceberg.

No, the poor are not the reason we’re in this mess. The two men taking turns at the ship’s wheel are David and Bill Koch. They’re the ones taking us on this rich man’s joy ride. “Too big to fail” is the new “Unsinkable”, and in their arrogance they actually believe it’s true. But why wouldn’t they? We bailed them out when they capsized the last ship with almost no protest. We handed them the wheel long ago by allowing gerrymandering to fix our course, and the Citizens United decision gave them all the coal they need to power the engines “full steam ahead!” Meanwhile money-drunk CEO’s and their Wall Street cronies are partying on the deck, unconcerned about the collision that lies ahead.

And why should they worry? America’s iceberg is still several fiscal cycles away. They have plenty of time to cash in and get off the ship. Then what? Democracy and the poor slobs working to power this nation sink to the bottom. So What? What’s it to them?

Of course we could do something about it… Yes, you and me, and the other 99% of this country. We could stop fighting each other, and stop blaming the blameless long enough to veer this nation away from oligarchy, and back toward representative democracy. We may not be allowed up on the deck with the luxury passengers, but if we all stick an oar in the water from down here, we can turn this thing. My oar’s in the water. How about you? I’m making another small donation to the Bernie Sanders for President campaign today. And when I can afford to I’ll do it again. You may choose another candidate, but I encourage you to hear Bernie out before making a final decision.

Note: A lot of the web sites selling Bernie Sanders merchandise are NOT a part of the campaign, and are simply profiteering off of Bernie’s growing momentum. And many of the “Bernie Sanders for President” web ads you’re likely to see are actually collecting donations for “Act Blue” which is a legitimate site, and they do a great job as a PAC collecting and effectively spending money on behalf of Democratic candidates, but to contribute DIRECTLY to the Bernie Sanders campaign go to www.berniesanders.com …As good as Act Blue may be, Bernie doesn’t need a middleman. Besides, PACs are a part of the problem we're trying to fix.

Well, that’s all I’ve got to say for now. Enjoy the Republican clown show, but seriously, seriously study the candidates… their words, but most importantly their record. WARNING: Iceberg ahead if we don’t.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Kayaking the Wandering Stream

The wandering stream of thought
that runs through your mind
is ever flowing,
and ever changing.
Leave it too long,
and you may not recognize it
when you return.
Its altered course,
its newly carved channels,
its deepening pools,
may cause you to wonder,
“Is this really me?”

The evidence of erosion
may frighten you.
Fond memories drifting away
within translucent ripples
my cause you to chase along the shoreline,
trying to hold the stream still in your mind.
But the stream will not hold still.
You must hold still.
Chasing the stream to its end
where it pours with all others
into an ocean of memories
would surly cause madness.

Sit instead on the sandy bank
in the calm of morning,
and observe the flow.
You will soon understand
that the stream deposits
just as much as it washes away.
It sustains life within its waters,
and along its meandering path.
It turns time with its steady current.
Oh, if we could only stop it,
but we cannot,
and we must not try.

These wandering streams of thought
that run through our minds
ever flowing,
and ever changing,
are for each of us alone
to kayak upon.
And the best we can do
is paddle in the present,
trying not to drift
too far into the past,
or paddle too quickly
into the future.


RLJ - 06/12/2015

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Scratched Vinyl

I lowered the needle to the record,
carefully.
Bobby Pickett’s name tumbled,
like pants in a dryer;
circling round and around,
on the plastic turntable.

“I was working in the lab late one night,”
it began.
And The Monster Mash tumbled
like bones from the speaker,
filling my bedroom with sound,
at 45 RPMs.

Then it did what it always did. ...It skipped!
“He opened,”
“He opened, He opened,” ...Smack!
“the lid and shook his fist
and said, ‘Whatever happened
to my Transylvania twist?’"

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Sea-Change

The tide may finally be turning,
but the lives of black men
who died unjustly in our streets,
and in the death row gallows of America,
will never be recovered,
from the sea of bigotry
that washed them away,
like so much driftwood.
The best we can do now,
is walk to the water’s edge,
and seek to make amends.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Cooking with Moody - St. Patrick’s Day Edition:

Well it’s that time of year again... Tis the season when a bunch of non-Irish people are about to try their hands at some traditional Irish cooking. If you’re one of them my friend, this article is for you. Now whether your plan is to create an entire St. Patty’s Day feast, or you just need to show up at the Thompson’s potluck with a respectable dish, here are a few tips you’ll need to know. First of all: Corned beef and cabbage is not a traditional Irish dish. Sorry. I realize that just eliminated 90% of your ideas, but if you’re goal is to serve authentic Irish fare, you’ll need to dig a little deeper.
Well you’re in luck, because I’ve done the digging for you. I found my great-grandmother O’Malley’s cookbook in the attic just last week, and the stained dog-eared pages revealed a wealth of information. This is stuff you won’t find in your Betty Crocker Cookbook, or even on Pinterest. Now I can’t possibly share all of its Irish cooking secrets here, but I can tell you this: If you’re ready to step up your game this year… If you want your dish to be the hit of the potluck, try the Boiled Leprechaun.
The recipe is simple

Ingredients:
• 2 gallons water
• 1 cup coarse kosher salt
• 4 large heads of garlic, halved crosswise
• 2 tablespoons whole black peppercorns
• 2 large heads of green cabbage, cut into wedges
• 2 pound carrots, peeled, and quartered lengthwise
• 1 medium sized leprechaun (cleaned - see page 6.)
Combine all ingredients in large pot. Boil 1 hour.
Simmer until tender. Serve with spiced mustard.
Mmm-mmm! Doesn’t that sound delicious? Now I know what you’re probably thinking. “Where am I going to find a leprechaun this close to St. Patrick’s Day?” Well, you’re right. Most butchers have been sold out for weeks, and if you haven’t already ordered one, you’re probably sunk.
But don’t despair. I found a handy conversion chart in the back of great-grandma’s cookbook. It says you can substitute one elf for two leprechauns in any recipe. I know that means making a double batch, but who wouldn’t want leftovers of a dish like this? Also, the book says if you’re in a bind you can substitute a gnome for an elf, but you’ll need to marinate the gnome in a gallon of sweet white wine for 24-36 hours before cooking. Otherwise it will taste like troll.
Lastly, and the book says this is very important: Do not, unless you want your guests to have gas for a week, do not serve troll!
Well I hope this helps with your holiday meal planning. Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Today's Headlines and Comments

I haven’t done one of these in a while, so here goes...

“Today’s Actual Headlines”
(plus my comments):


“Earthquake in central Spain shakes buildings in Madrid”
(In a related story “Arrow in center of target pokes hole in bullseye.”)

“Nepal pledges to improve climbing conditions on Everest”
(Mountain to be lowered and paved by 2018.)

“Honda to replace its president following air bag fiasco”
(Whoopee Cushion deployments hilarious, but dozens killed in mix up.)

And in local news:

“Man was posing for photograph when train struck him”
(This one should read, “World’s worst photographer uses wrong shutter speed.”)

“South Park Bridge stuck in the open position; detour advised”
(But not mandatory, so you're free to step on the gas and repeat, “I think I can make it, I think I can...”)

“Seattle tunnel machine breaks through wall into rescue pit”
(Seahawks sign Bertha to $10 mil. contract to use in short yardage situations.)


Note: In case Seattle's troubled tunnel maching hasn't made headlines in your newspaper, the machine's nickname is "Bertha"

Thursday, January 29, 2015

God on the Rocks


A man is just a skipping stone,
his fate delivered when he’s thrown.

He measures time in skips and beats.
In skips and beats each year repeats,
with each one shorter than the last,
until they’re coming way too fast.

And though some lives fly far and straight,
some others meet a different fate.
Some to the left or right will dash.
Some lives are but a single splash.

And God is just a boy on shore,
with a pile of rocks, and nothing more.