Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Kitchen Utensil's Christmas

Chapter I - The Meeting:

May I have your attention please? Excuse me. Listen up everybody! Excuse me! Salad tongs, you can save your conversation for later. Thank you. Can everybody hear me? ~~~~~. Okay, good. Now I’ve opened up your drawers and called this meeting for a reason. Knife Block! This concerns you too, so listen up. ~~~~. Alright, thank you.

Utensils of Johnson House: It has come to my attention that many of you have allowed yourselves to become rather disorganized lately - a Spoon in the Fork Tray, a Whisk in Drawer Two… Stuff like that. So I think it’s time for a little coaching session on the basics. I know this stuff is old hat for most of us, but it’s a good chance for you veterans to help out the newbies. I also realize it’s the holiday season and things are a bit chaotic in the kitchen right now, but that’s just all the more reason for you guys to really focus on proper storage habits.

Now, if during this meeting you learn that you’re in the wrong storage area, don’t worry. There will be a break-out session after the meeting where you’ll have an opportunity to move to your assigned area. If you learn that you belong outside of the main complex however, please speak up and you will be excused immediately. Utensils who reside outside of general housing will be addressed separately at a later date.

~~~~~~~. ~~~~? Yes, Tea Strainer, you may be excused. Anybody else?

Okay then, I’ve placed a stack of hand-outs in each drawer. Please pass them around. These aren’t mandatory, but they may help you to follow along better. Share if you need to. You guys in the Knife Block can see all the information here on the chart up front. Okay now, as the chart shows, our main utensil housing complex consists of this main column of drawers by the range, plus the Silverware Drawer over here and the Knife Block on top of the counter.

The top drawer of the main column, colloquially called “the knife drawer”, is properly called “Drawer One”, so naturally the next drawer down is called “Drawer Two”, and the one under that is referred to as “Drawer Three”. The silverware drawer back over… ~~~~~~~~? What? Drawer Four? Well Drawer Four is for Measuring Cups, Cookie Cutters, the Juicer, and some Pampered Chef things that frankly, I don’t understand. So I think we’re better off just calling those things… er I mean, those members of our kitchen community “Implements” rather than “Utensils”. They kind of have their own thing going on down there in Drawer Four, so they won’t be at our meeting today. Now where was I? Oh yeah… The Silverware Drawer. That's over here. Now these four drawers plus the Knife Block are your domain. It’s your community, so it’s up to you to keep it neat.

Okay next, umm.. this can be a touchy area, but it’s important. I want everyone here to know that all Utensils are created equal. However, groups of you do have different purposes and abilities, and those traits determine where you get assigned to live. Now when we’re all cooking together and serving up meals I want everyone to have fun and get along. Just because you sleep in different drawers doesn’t mean you can’t socialize in the common areas; like on the countertop, at the table, or in the dishwasher. Never forget though, there are some very strict rules of conduct that apply to all of you when you’re in the dishwasher. These were covered during your individual orientations, but if you’re unclear on any of the dishwasher guidelines please see me after the meeting. We don’t want any more incidents like what happened over Thanksgiving with Cork Screw and Turkey Baster. ~~~~~~. Yes, I know, it’s sad about the Baster, but that’s why we have rules.

Now let’s discuss our drawer assignments. Drawer One is for storage of sharp edged Knives, including Kitchen Shears, the Steel, the sharp-edged Pastry Server, Apple Peeler, and Meat Fork. ~~~~~~? Oh yes, and flat Cheese Grater. ~~~. That was a recent change, but I think it made sense, and I think we can all get used to it. ~~~~~~~~? Why is Meat Fork in Drawer One? Well because I never use him without a Knife, and I don’t see any sense in… ~~~~~~~~? Okay then, because I said so. That’s why! Now of course the exception to this arrangement is that the Knives of our Chicago Cutlery Regiment are housed in the Knife Block. ~~~~~~~! Sorry, life isn’t always fair Faberware. ~~~. Yeah, the Knife Block might seem like an elitist tradition, but it was a gift, so put on your big boy scabbard and deal with it. ~~~~$#@&~~. That’s enough Faberware. [At this point let the record show that Faberware was removed from the meeting.] Okay, I think that covers Drawer One, so if there are no other questions I’ll move on to Drawer Two.

Drawer Two is home for all of you Serving Utensils who are not Silverware. Oh! I should have made that clarification about the Knives too. Silverware Knives, including Steak Knives and our funny little friend Butter Knife are to reside in the Silverware Drawer, and not in Drawer One. ~~~~~. Oops, sorry Butter Knife. Yes, I know that was insensitive. You’re just as important around here as Meat Cleaver. ~~~~~!! Put a sock in it Cleaver. It’s almost 2017. The world is changing. Hey! Let’s keep it quiet in the Knife Block… Now as I was saying, Drawer Two is for Serving Utensils, like Salad Tongs, Ice Cream Scoop, Big Spoon, Spaghetti Fork, Ladles… Stuff like that. Basically, if your job is to transport food from point A. to point B. you are a Serving Utensil. Everybody got that? It’s pretty basic stuff.

Okay then, Drawer Three can be a little tricky, so please pay attention everyone. Drawer Three is where some of our hardest working and most skilled Utensils live - Like Potato Masher, and Whisk, and the Spatula Team, and Meat Hammer, and Garlic Press, and Wooden Spoon and the whole Bamboo Stir Squad, and Turkey Baster, God rest his soul. ~~~~~? Yes, I’ll try to remember to pick up a new one tomorrow. Anyway, you guys know who you are. You’re the backbone of this whole operation. I know you don’t get shined and sharpened like some of the others, but you guys got moxie, and I like moxie. ~~~~? What? Pancake Flippers? Yeah, that was a tough call. I know Pancake Flippers flip, but they also serve. That’s why they got moved up to Drawer Two last year, and I think it’s working. Besides, Drawer Three was getting overcrowded, so that was a factor too. ~~~~~? Yes, we review these things annually. If you think you’ve been categorized unfairly there is an appeal process. ~~~~~. ~~~~~~? ~~~? Yes I have a form in my briefcase. See me after the meeting.

If there are no more questions about that we’ll move on to…. ~~~~~? No Potato Masher, you belong in Drawer Three. Drawer Two is for serving Utensils. We just covered this. ~~~~~. No, you don’t serve. ~~~~~~~. Yes, you “serve the common good” but you’re really overthinking this. You don’t serve food. You mash it. You’re a masher. Heck, The Monster Mash is your favorite song! Remember making pumpkin pie in October? We listened to that song like three times while you mashed pumpkin meat. ~~~~~! Yeah, that was fun. Mashing is fun, and you’re good at it. So be proud of your station. There’s no shame in being stored in Drawer Three.

Okay, well I think that covers the main column, and the Knife Block, so let’s quickly cover the Silverware Drawer. Now I know you guys get tired of hearing me brag about our Silverware Team, but everybody in the Silverware Drawer is a member of a tight knit squad. These guys are professionals. They all came home in the same box together. They sleep in organized little rows, and they all know their place at a dinner setting. They’re really the A-Team when it comes to organization. ~~~~~. I know Salad Fork, you guys don’t really need to be at this meeting, but this is a team building thing, so I think it’s important. Anyway, to all of you other Utensils - I hear the way you talk about Silverware sometimes, but you all need to realize that they work just as hard as you do. Maybe not physically, but the stress of precision and keeping your shine takes a toll on a Utensil. And remember, this Christmas when you guys are all laying around in the sink, or in the dishwasher after dinner is served, Silverware will be stuck sitting on the table listening to Uncle Frank prattle on until God knows when. So when you’re feeling down, don’t forget what I said earlier, we’re all equal… different, but equal.

In closing I just want to say that we all have a job to do, and we do it best when we’re organized. So let’s get organized and stay organized. Any questions? …Okay then, please pass your handouts up to the front of the drawer. Good meeting guys! Now before I shut your drawers, if any of you think you’re in the wrong place, do not attempt to climb into another drawer by yourself. Position yourself sideways in the drawer that you’re in and wait for assistance. I’ll be around to help you in a minute.

Chapter II - The Post Meeting Report:

As a result of the meeting four Utensils were found to be in the wrong place and were returned to their proper drawers.

After a successful appeal, Apple Corer was upgraded to Knife status and was moved from Drawer Three to Drawer One.

The Turkey Baster position has been filled. New Turkey Baster is fitting in well, and everyone is being careful not to talk about old Turkey Baster in front of him.

During a routine counseling session it was revealed that even though Potato Masher can mash like nobody’s business, the big oaf still dreams of being a server someday. We’re currently exploring his limited options.

Chapter III - Christmas Dinner:

Well Let me just say that I will never think of Big Spoon as a selfish Utensil again. Today at dinner she let Potato Masher serve the mashed potatoes. He did a horrible job, but he had fun. We all had fun. The Silverware reflected smiles from all around the table, and just like at the end of most Christmas stories, we all came to realize that we’re a community. All different, but all important.

[Fade out on Uncle Frank’s audio - Pan camera to dishwasher]

From My Kitchen to Yours,

Merry Christmas

R.L.J. 2016

The Night Before Christmas

(A visit from the Gray Mouse)

'Twas the night before Christmas at the cat lady’s house.
Every creature was purring, except for a mouse.
The stockings were hung by the cat post with care,
in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
The kittens were nestled all snug in their beds,
while visions of parakeets perched in their heads.
And Mama in her chair with three cats on her lap,
had just settled her brain for a long winter's nap.
When in the next room there arose such a clatter,
she sprang from her chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the kitchen she flew like a flash,
where a cat was attacking a mouse in the trash.
She picked up the mess, “Oh that mouse had to go!”
right after a nerve calming glass of Merlot.
Then what to her wondering eyes should appear,
but twenty-two cats hauling ass in high gear,
pursuing a mouse so lively and quick,
he could turn on a dime, though the floor was quite slick.
More rapid than cheetahs the felines they came,
chasing after that mouse as she called them by name:
"Stop Fluffy! Stop Missy! Stop Simon and Mittens!
"Stop Patches! Stop Muffin! You’ll wake up the kittens!”
The mouse took a left at the end of the hall.
Hid your eyes now ‘cause fur’s heading straight for that wall!
As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly,
when they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky;
so into the baseboard the felines they flew,
each under the other; yes all twenty-two!
They created a pile of tails, and paws,
and noses, and whiskers, and ears, and claws.
Mama refilled her wine, and was turning around,
when back up the hall ran that mouse, kitchen-bound.
He was just a gray blur as he ran underfoot,
and she yelled at her cats once again to “Stay put!”
But her bundles of joy had begun to un-stack,
and were already planning their second attack.
Their eyes, how they darkened! Their claws, oh how scary!
It looked like a scene from an old Tom and Jerry.
Then Mama’s droll mouth, it drew up like a bow,
and then the Merlot, really started to flow.
With the stem of her wine glass held tight in her grip,
Mama finished her drink in four gulps and a sip.
Her face it turned red, she had air in her belly.
She hiccupped and burped, and it tasted like jelly.
She giggled a bit, then she pardoned herself,
and she reached for some catnip she kept on the shelf.
Then a wink of her eye to a peering gray head,
let the little mouse know he had nothing to dread.
Mama sprinkled the catnip. It went straight to work.
Cats pulled in their claws, and they started to smirk.
The effect of that stuff on a kitty-cat’s nose,
is the same as a couple Merlots, I suppose.
She went back to her chair, to her cats gave a whistle,
and they all climbed upon her, like the down on a thistle.
And I heard her exclaim, as she sank out of sight…
Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night! 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Melania Trump - Error and Opportunity

I've yet to be critical of our future First Lady, Melania Trump. Mostly I’ve just felt sorry for her, but that will change in a moment.

First, let me say that beyond just being factual, I believe this criticism is justifiable and fair. Secondly, let me assure you that I will not join in with those who attack her for posing nude for the camera. The only relevancy of those photos is that they expose the extreme hypocrisy of Republicans who criticized Michelle Obama's bare arms (i.e. The Taliban wing of the Republican Party).
What is relevant to Melania however, and more importantly what is relevant to her new position as First Lady is that she, like her husband, is a fraud. I won't go into her immigration status, or when she was and wasn't working legally in America, because information on that is being held close by those who have it. Those records, like the Trump family taxes may never be revealed. What I will go into though is her false claim that she earned a college degree, and an impressive one at that.

Shortly after being caught reading a plagiarized speech (not her fault) during the campaign Melania's official professional website www.melaniatrump.com vanished from the internet and all attempts to access it were quickly redirected to www.trump.com. Now this is the important part - Melania's website, her official representation of herself to the world grossly overstated her educational credentials. It lied. And the lie that proclaimed Melania had obtained a "degree in design and architecture at University" wasn't hidden down at the bottom, or slipped in without Melania's knowledge. It was featured in the opening paragraph, quoted below.

"Born on April 26, 1970 in Slovenia, Melania Knauss began her modeling career at the age of sixteen. At the age of eighteen, she signed with a modeling agency in Milan. After obtaining a degree in design and architecture at University in Slovenia, Melania was jetting between photo shoots in Paris and Milan, finally settling in New York in 1996."

Now even though it's been proven that Melania did not earn a college degree (let alone one in design and architecture) and even though her college record shows that she dropped out in her first year, she has not admitted or apologized for falsifying her resume to the American people, her future constituency. All she has done thus far is post a tweet where she states that her official website "has been removed because it does not accurately reflect my current business and professional interests."

I guess that means the fraudulent claim of holding a college degree only accurately reflected her past business and professional interests. Like I said above, I believe that bare arms and bare breast comparisons are irrelevant, but I think this comparison is extremely relevant. Can you imagine the attacks that would have come and what the fallout would have been if Michelle Obama had been caught claiming to have a college degree that she didn't even come close to earning? It would have been on CNN for weeks and she would have been ruined... But all we hear are crickets.

Now I don't want to tar and feather poor Melania over this, but she absolutely should have to answer for it. And maybe this could be a teaching opportunity for her. If she really wants to make it her cause to reduce bullying in America (as she has hinted) then she can start by teaching bullies that they should accept people for who they are, and she can teach victims of bullying that who they are is okay… They don’t have to pretend to be more than that.

Unpresidential Behavior (ain't what it used to be)

Remember when a presidential candidate could do something so blatantly unpresidential that their chances of winning the election could drop from pretty darn good to zip in one news cycle? Like when a single celebratory scream too close to a microphone could earn you the label "too unstable to be president". Or like when overstating your involvement in the creation of the internet could flip your reputation from "kinda stiff" to "lying braggart" and cause the nation to decide that you're just "too arrogant to be president". Or like when puting a helmet on your head and standing up in a tank meant that you "lacked the judgement to be president".

Ah yes, those high expectation days of yesteryear. Damn we were fussy back then. But, we've managed to get over it. Now there's no need to act all presidential and stuff, or even competent to get the job. Just get those TV cameras pointed at you - Like a L.A. car chase. Like a Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction. Like a "shock and awe" bombing campaign. As long as you can get those reporters to swarm around you like moths to a porch light, like flies to a pile of shit, you too can become president. You can be as misogynistic as Larry Flynt, as racist as George Wallace, as bombastic as Don King... As long as you're a white guy (orange is close enough). Sorry, if you're black or female, the old rules still apply.

Oh Howard Dean... What in the world made you think you could act so batshit crazy and still be taken seriously? What? The media turned the crowd mic off and cranked yours up? For ratings? No, the news channels wouldn't do that. You've clearly gone off the rails Howard... That's the kind of crap they only do on reality TV.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Why I'm Not Ready to Unite (A few words about picking sides)

Who you defend matters. Who you ally yourself with matters.

The President Elect of the United States, Donald J. Trump is at this moment building a coalition void of ethics that tolerates if not invites hate, bigotry, and misogyny. To deny this, one must first deny the very words of Donald Trump himself, and one must deny the words of his accusers - from abused women, to bilked contractors, to conned students. Then one must deny the ties and motives of his most influential supporters, including some of the ugliest hate groups on earth. One must also deny the backgrounds of many of those being appointed to his transition team and administration. Lastly, if one has a conscience, one must deny that as well. In other words, one must deny all pertinent evidence, and assume beyond all reason that Donald Trump is something that he is not - a decent man with the values, temperament, and qualifications to lead a modern, free, and diverse nation.

“But he’s a businessman!” his self-proclaimed non-racists supporters exclaim, and “He’s going to shake up Washington!” they continue… and “Drain the swamp!” and “Make America great!!” and “How dare you call me a racist!!!” I didn’t call you a racist. I’m merely pointing out that by supporting Donald Trump you are supporting the adoption of a racist, homophobic, misogynistic agenda for America. As I mentioned at the top, who you defend matters. Who you ally yourself with matters. I don’t care if Donald Trump is a Fuc#ing leprechaun with a pot of gold for every one of us... He is unfit to lead, and his VP pick Mike Pence is a hateful homophobe poised to attack the entire LGBT community as soon as he’s able. They’re both dinosaurs from the pre-civil rights era with nothing to offer to a diverse community. And when all is said and done, I doubt they’ll have much to offer to the bulk of their red-state supporters either.

I've chosen my side. History will judge us all.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Uncounting Chickens

So many unhatched eggs sit
in Hillary Clinton's nest this morning
as Democrats look on
in shock and disbelief.
"What happened?" they ask,
and Hillary must be asking too,
as she mourns this loss.
But look closer... Many are cracked.
Cracked before they were viable I suspect.
But don't blame Hillary.
I believe they were cracked
almost a year ago,
when they were hurriedly stuffed there 
by Debbie Wasserman Schultz,
and the D.N.C.

- Of course there are many reasons for what happened last night, and D.W.S. is an extremely small part of it, but I blame her because I believe that she (more than Hillary) is corrupt. I believe that her mishandling of the Democratic primary ultimately made Hillary a weaker candidate... Basically I'm just mad and I need to blame somebody and I think Hillary has been blamed enough already.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The most important debate moment that all the TV talking heads missed

One brief exchange during last night’s debate immediately caught my attention. To me it was the moment of the night, and its potential ramifications are frightening. But it was just a moment and “poof!” it was gone. Maybe this has been addressed by others, but I stayed up till midnight watching the “experts” hash out the debate and I heard almost everything except for my “WFT?” moment discussed.
What starts a war? I’ll leave that question hanging for your consideration.
During the foreign policy segment of the debate, Hillary mentioned a recent incident where some Iranian sailors taunted some American sailors, and she quoted a statement Donald made about the event saying, “’You know if they taunted our sailors I’d blow them out of the water’ …and start another war,” she added.
Donald did not dispute the quote (It was accurate) or even the assertion that he would blow a foreign ship out of the water for “taunting”, but he did object to Hillary suggesting that such an action would start a war. Donald’s exact response to Hillary’s charge was to lean into the microphone and say, “That would not start a war.”
Now let me get this straight… Taunting an American sailor is an action that should be responded to by blowing a foreign vessel out of the water, but blowing a foreign vessel out of the water thus killing its crew is NOT an action that would start a war. WTF? Are you serious Donald? Well sadly, yes he is. You see this is Donald’s existence in a nutshell. If you rub the Donald the wrong way the consequences will rain down on you like hellfire. But no matter what the Donald does, no matter how heinous or vindictive, the consequences are “zero!” Thanks to daddy’s money, that’s his world.
But in the “real world” the acceptable response to having one’s ship blown out of the water is to return fire at whatever blew it out of the water… and at that moment “war” has begun. At that moment control of the situation is lost. At that moment the magnitude of the chain of events to follow is unknowable. All that’s predictable is death; perhaps incalculable death. And all because another thin-skinned political strongman was insulted.
Concerning the event discussed above: The “taunted” Americans, six officers and three sailors have all been disciplined or face action by the US Navy for their navigational incompetence. Their ineptness and resulting entry into Iranian territorial waters triggered the entire event. Yes, they were detained, questioned, and even “taunted”, but thanks to diplomacy they were quickly released. Now imagine a world, a Donald Trump world, where instead of asking for the return of our sailors, we simply blew an Iranian ship inside of Iranian territory out of the water.
What starts a war? That starts a war.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Pulling Beets

My garden has no rhythm,
‘cause I pulled up all the beets.
I put ‘em in a basket
to hand out as trick-or-treats.

Yeah, I’m the old man that
at Halloween most kids avoid.
They tried me once.
They tried me twice,
Then some got real annoyed.

So now they pelt my house with eggs
and I throw beets at them.
Last year I won. Oh it was fun.
My last shot was a gem.

It hit that Tommy Perkins kid
upside his big ol’ head.
His mask flew off,
and he went down.
Thought sure that he was dead.

But don’t you worry none,
‘cause every time I tell this tale.
I make it sound a little worse.
Next time I’m goin’ to jail.

And that’s the beauty don’t ya know,
of Halloween and fiction.
You can kill off half the neighbor kids,
and never face conviction.

Just make it gruesome, make it gory,
You can even make it mean.
Then slap your thigh and laugh,
and tell ‘em “Happy Halloween!”
The only thing that’s true is
that I picked some beets today.
And if you must know,
then I vacuumed rugs,
and stacked some hay.

Authors Note: The first two lines popped into my head while I was pulling the beets… The rest crept in while cleaning the harvest, vacuuming, and stacking the donkey's winter hay ;)

Wednesday, September 14, 2016


I ate a piece of moldy bread.
It’s been four days, I’m still not dead.
My pie was walked on by a fly.
I ate it, and I did not die.
Some bug spray got upon my plum.
But still, to death, I don’t succumb.
My spud with sour cream and chive
was tainted, yet I’m still alive.
I drank a beer with funky yeast,
and look at me, I’m not deceased.
I’m not deceased, not in the least.
But now I fear I need a priest…
for there’s broccoli in my soup du jour.
This time I’m gonna croak for sure.

A Tale of Two Presidents

Another attempt to put things into perspective, and I won't even opine this time... Just some facts:
In 1840 the United States elected a president who had a susceptibility to pneumonia. One person died as a result and America continued along its lethargic path toward a more perfect union.
In 1933 Germany elected a president who had a narcissistic personality disorder. Millions of people died as a result and Germany was left in ruins.

Show Your Papers

Does America have a right to be kept updated on Hillary’s medical condition? Yes, I think so, but let’s put this into some perspective. Firstly – We have been given an update. Her campaign released a statement saying she has pneumonia. Now you may accept that diagnosis or not, but if you reject it without having first rejected the blatant lies that Trump’s doctor spewed out concerning the Donald’s super-human health (A statement even the doc admitted was baseless) then I doubt you’re really concerned about the truth, or Mrs. Clinton’s health. I suspect you may have a different agenda. Secondly – Some of our most productive presidents were in poor health… Jackson, Roosevelt, Kennedy, and others. Thirdly – We have a well-defined, often used, slick as a whistle process for dealing with incapacitated presidents. It hasn’t failed yet.
So with that in mind, which is more important America? …a peek at a presidential candidate’s medical record, or a peek at their tax returns? As I mentioned, if a president up and dies America stays her course with very few waves rocking the boat. But, if a president turns out to be a bloviating con-man America is in deep trouble.
As I wrote in a comment earlier today, “Her medical records and his tax returns ARE America's business, but frankly I think the tax returns are the more important thing to insist on.”

Monday, September 12, 2016

Compliance does not equal Patriotism

When a black man is unjustly gunned down by a police officer in urban America these days the outrage across suburban America can sometimes last for an entire afternoon… But then CNN stops looping the video and suburban America says to itself, “Well maybe the cop had a valid reason for doing that. Maybe we should try to understand all the facts before making a judgement,” and by evening suburban America calms down and things return to normal. But when a black man says, “Maybe this shouldn’t be normal,” and he uses his First Amendment freedom during a song supposedly played to celebrate that freedom the outrage across suburban America can sometimes last for… Well frankly I don’t know. It only started a few weeks ago.

Of course this comment generalizes and stereotypes, and much of “suburban America” gets it, but this does apply to a huge group of self-proclaimed patriots who conflate patriotism with compliance. Remember, compliance enabled the rise of Hitler. It sustains the Kim Jong Uns of the world. And it fuels the maniacal dreams of Donald Trump. Protest on the other hand has been the precursor to countless advances in human rights throughout history.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

In Support of Kaepernick

A man stands of his own free will. A puppet stands at the will of another.
I’m not a fan of Colin Kaepernick the quarterback, but I am a fan of people who stand up (or sit down) for what they believe in, especially when what they believe is, “We can do better than this. We must do better than this”. And that in effect is what Kaepernick is saying with his national anthem protest… AMERICA HAS THE ABILITY TO BE BETTER THAN THIS.
As retired US Navy Chief Warrant Officer Jim Wright says in his blog, “Kaepernick raises valid concerns about the present state of America, and no veteran or true patriot should demand that his concerns be silenced.” Wright isn't alone. If you read the growing list of comments from veterans on social media and in editorial pages you’ll read again and again that they fought for freedom, not for nationalism. They fought for people, not for symbols; and certainly not for a song. #veteransforkaepernick
A classmate of mine said yesterday of Kaepernick, “To kick the teeth of the system that feeds you is just really short sighted.” Boy, talk about some old-timey advice to give to a black man. Whip wielding masters gave similar advice to their slaves for decades, but thank god it was never accepted. Kicking the teeth of the system is how progress has been made by societies throughout history… century after century, decade after decade, year after year. It’s nothing new. It’s just the ongoing battle of forward thinking vs. backward thinking.
As a parting thought I’ll just ask this - Why is it okay for white men to arm themselves with military style weapons as a warning to the United States government to heed their flag (The one that says, “Don’t tread on me”) but it’s not okay for a black man to ask that same government (by simply sitting during a song) to stop treading so violently on his people?
Like I said, I’m not a fan of Colin Kaepernick the quarterback… but I am a fan of Colin Kaepernick the thorn in white America’s side, because I agree, “We can do better than this. We must do better than this”.

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Mourning After Dallas

The tragedy that unfolded in Dallas last night is not a competing tragedy with the reoccurring deaths of mostly black men killed by mostly white police officers. It is a part of the same tragedy. It is a tragedy of two races distrusting, disrespecting, and profiling one another; with members of each judging the whole of the other based on the actions of a few. The original sin cannot be undone. Forgiven or unforgiven, it can only be moved past. Only when America mourns equally for the lives lost on both sides of this tragedy will it begin to stitch the wound that continues to rip open with each violent incident. And until we do the deliberate work of stitching, the natural process of healing cannot begin. We must all be doctors today. Our needle and suture must be empathy and respect... Empathy and respect for one another.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Radical Corporate Terrorists

Trump won’t say it. He won’t utter the words. Neither will Hillary, or Barack. None of them will… “Radical Corporate Terrorists!” There, I said it; a phrase you won’t hear from apologists of free market abuse. They’re too politically correct to admit that some greedy capitalists are strapping exploding debt to people across the country. They’re terrorizing the middle class; reducing their numbers with every explosion, leaving them so sift through America’s ruins with the desperate poor. 

Radical Corporate Terrorists have infiltrated every county in the nation. When a student signs up for college they say, “here’s your exploding debt vest. Put it on, or you can’t attend”. When a person gets sick they blow up their insurance agreement and say, “Sorry, we don’t cover that. We cover other treatments, but not that one; not the one you need to survive… But if you’ll strap on this exploding debt vest we’ll keep you alive a little longer. But keep in mind that when it blows up it will financially devastate your family. It’s your call. We’re just here to help. Please fill out our survey”.

Every couple generations Radical Corporate Terrorists blow up the entire housing market, sending shrapnel flying in every direction, injuring everyone except those living at the penthouse level. The penthouse dwellers wander down after the fires are put out and purchase whatever they please for pennies on the dollar and rent it back the financially injured at inflated rates… because they can. And because their God, Money the Almighty, says they are the chosen ones. They have the right. Glory awaits them.

I’m tired of being politically correct. I want a government that will fight Radical Corporate Terrorism. I want a candidate who will acknowledge that “Radical Corporate Terrorists” are here, now, planning and carrying out attacks every day. I want to fight the real enemy for a change.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Arthur P. Dale

(While walking the dogs this afternoon my mind wandered and voilà, a poem was born.)

Arthur P. Dale was hunting for whale,
out in the open sea.
Said Arthur P. Dale as he looked o’er the rail,
“Now where do you think they be?”
Then up from the bottom, the jaws of one got him.
No man was more flummoxed than he.
And he woulda fought ‘em, yes he woulda taught ‘em
a lesson or two… or three!

But Arthur was bested, it was uncontested; 
Hors d'oeuvre a la abductee.
And though he protested while being ingested,
t'was nary a chance to flee.
Now Arthur P. Dale resides in a whale, 
out in the open sea.
Tonight he lay pale, somewhere near the tail,
a victim of hyperbole.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Short Nonfiction

by R.L. Johnson (abridged version) :

Monarch underestimates the anger of the peasant class. Monarch's head ends up in basket. New leader pledges to do better, but soon falls in love with power. Head, basket, repeat.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday

I stopped by my local Safeway this afternoon to pick up a small Easter Ham. Then things got weird. As I hopped out of the truck… One should always hop at Easter time. It’s in the Scriptures. No, I don’t remember where. Ask Donald Trump... Anyway, as I hopped out of the truck, the sky opened up and sunshine flooded the parking lot. Three people dressed like Sailor Moon walked past me, and the sound of a French horn playing You Are My Sunshine filled the air. Yes, that happened... But wait, there’s more.

Inside the store I headed straight for the ham and then quickly to the express register. After placing my carefully selected Black Forest Ham on the conveyor belt, everything came to a stop. The cashier was searching for a key to open up the lottery scratch ticket case for a woman. The line grew longer, but this lady wasn’t moving without her scratch tickets; so, unable to find the right key, the cashier borrowed one form a nearby register and the wheels of capitalism began turning again. The lady purchased what appeared to be a few of every kind of ticket in the case. So far everything inside the store is normal, but, when the cashier tried to hand Scratch Ticket Lady her free Safeway Monopoly game piece, the women abruptly gave it back announcing that she didn’t want it because she’d, “never win”. I don’t know if anyone else in line was entertained, but the irony amused me enough to make the wait worthwhile.

After getting my ham and my free Monopoly game piece, I headed toward the door where a man asked me, “Do you play that Monopoly game?” He had a hand full of tickets so I figured he wanted mine too, but without thinking I said, “My wife does”. Then he gave me all of his tickets. I didn’t know what to say so I just said, “Thanks. I’ll tell my wife a nice guy at the store gave me these”. Then he started laughing, “Nice guy!” he said, “I need to do this more often… Nobody ever calls me a ‘nice guy!’” Doubly amused, I continued on.

Next thing ya know I’m back outside and the French horn music is audible again. This time I see where it’s coming from. There was a busker woman a few doors down, sitting on a chair, playing her heart out to an empty sidewalk. I never know how much to drop in a busker’s case, so I appreciated this one making it obvious. She was sitting outside The Dollar Store under a sign that said “Everything $1.00”. So I walked on down and got me a song for a buck.

...And as it turned out, that “French horn” wasn’t quite a French horn. But it was from the French horn family its owner told me. I don’t remember what she called it, but it was like a French horn except its big bell stuck straight out instead of curling around like a sleeping dog. Speaking of sleeping dogs, it’s time to take mine for a walk.

Good Friday everyone!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Red Hot Pokers

Today as I was ripping out old stalks and leaves without mercy or precision from the dozens of Red Hot Poker plants (kniphofia uvaria) that grow around our house, I realized… These things must be suffering from some plant-form of Stockholm syndrome. I mean, they’re held captive within the confines of my yard, neglected and abused, yet they grow like crazy. They’re peed on by the dog, gnawed on by the donkeys, and everything short of water-boarded by me. The ground is dry and rocky in the summer, and half flooded and rocky in the winter. The only thing they can count on are the rocks. Believe me, the grass is both figuratively and literally greener on the other side of the fence.

A four-man landscape crew with implements of perfection and a full array of plant-spa services show up every week across the street, and the Red Hot Pokers never cry out. They bloom and attract hummingbirds for me each summer, gathering moisture from God only knows where to keep the hummers happily humming. They grow so well I’m constantly hacking them in half with a shovel and replanting chunks of them in places that other plants have given up on… and the chunks flourish. As fast as they grow they could easily grow themselves into a giant “SOS” that could be seen from a passing airplane… but they don’t. They could commit suicide like so many other plants in my yard have… but they don’t. A hydrangea shot itself in the head just last week.

Yes, they’re definitely sick. Not from pesticides, or chemical fertilizers like the poor lush green perfectly pruned plants across the street. No, they’re clearly sick with some sort of mental disorder… but in their weird way, they seem to like it here… and we like having them.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Houdini’s greatest trick recently rediscovered:

Lost to history for nearly a century, a written eyewitness account of Harry Houdini’s greatest trick is now being reviewed by scholars. According to a just-released document: On August 3, 1921, Houdini was dressed before a live audience in soaking wet clothes. Each article of clothing, from underwear to outerwear, was pulled from a barrel of ice cold water on stage. His outermost layer consisted of a pair of high laced leather boots, a peacoat jacket, and wool gloves, all drenched. Houdini was then hand-cuffed and put into a large wet gunnysack.

The dripping sack containing Harry was then shoved into a large tumble dryer. The powerful clothes dryer (a precursor of today’s modern home version) caused the audience to gasp when it was turned on. George Sampson, inventor of the metal drum tumble dryer, and two of his assistants stood by in case of emergency. Harry was tumbled on medium heat until dry.

Approximately 90 minutes after being shoved into the dryer, the door was opened and Harry tumbled out. He was still in the gunnysack. He was still in the boots, jacket, and gloves, and he had not escaped the handcuffs. But upon closer inspection it was discovered that one sock was missing... ta-da!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Superman - The Later Years

Chapter One (Which begins with a very long sentence)

As a lethargic Lois Lane, now likely late for the luau, was laying languidly in the leaves of the landscape on Lower Lena Loop Lane behind the lanai of the library with a lacerated leg and a lost left loafer, but otherwise looking lovely (Despite being in her sixties now, Lois always looked lovely); Clark Kent was cavorting at a cautious cadence (as a man who was once very spry and adept at cavorting would tend to do after reaching the age of seventy) carrying a container of caramel creamers across the carpet of his cozy cabin in search of a cup of coffee last seen on the kitchen counter. Lamenting her lousy luck Lois labored to locate her lost loafer. Little did she know, it had landed on the lawn of the librarian Lill, just up the hill, where she took her spill.

The clock struck seven.

Chapter Two (Where Superman is called into action)

Clark, craving caffeine, was completely unaware of Lois’ location, or situation, and in his frustration he had forgotten all about the luau he was supposed to attend that evening. His memory was failing and his alliteration was slipping badly, but a couple recent rhymes seemed to buoy his spirits.

Suddenly Clark thought he heard a familiar cry coming from outside. Through the double doors and onto the deck he dashed deliberately, followed by a dubious dachshund dubbed Dagmar. The fresh air felt exhilarating, and even seemed to perk up his alliteration a bit. Dagmar remained dubious.

Clark’s cabin, on the crest of Cooper Canyon, was within earshot of Lower Lena Loop Lane which ran along the Cooper Canyon Creek directly below. He heard the cry again. Having dashed enough for one evening, Clark hurriedly dawdled back inside to the closet where he found his old cape and tights. “This is a job for Superman!” he announced to Dagmar.

The last phone booth in Cooper County had been removed several years ago, so Supe slipped into the bathroom and squeezed into the now iconic red and blue outfit. Catching a glimpse of himself in the mirror Clark noticed the outfit needed to be let out a little in the seat. He made a mental note to stop by the cleaners in the morning.

A few minutes later back on the deck Clark was trying to remember why he went out there. Then Superman thought he heard a familiar cry. To the railing he rushed, and with one hand cupped behind his ear he leaned out and listened. Hearing nothing but ear hair rustling in the wind, he leaned out a little farther.

Chapter Three: (The rescue)

Lois pulled Superman out of the hedge. “That was quite a fall you took,” she said, helping him to his feet.

“I flew,” he corrected her.

“Yes, maybe, but all the same it was quite a crash.”

“I’m a little out of practice,” Superman answered. Then as he brushed himself off he added, “I’m here to rescue you. Oh, and I saw a brown ladies loafer on my way down the hill. Is that yours?”

“Yes. Thank you it is,” she said, wiping the injured leg with her kerchief.

As they walked up the hill together Lois began explaining what had happened. “I was just stopping to pick up Lilith,” she said, “and I slipped on the wet grass and fell over the bank. Oh goodness, I’ve made us late! We were supposed to meet Clark at the luau.”

“Oh crap!” blurted Superman, “I mean…”

“Hello!” called Lilith, waving from her porch. “What happened?”

Chapter 4 (The Conclusion)

After assuring Lois that he’d explain the whole situation to Clark, Superman began the long trudge up the hill. “Don’t rush!” he called back, “and take care of that knee. That could get infected!”

“What was that all about?” asked Lilith, “and why is Clark wearing that ridiculous costume?”

“It’s a long story,” answered Lois.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Yes, It's Election Season Again

FOX, CNN, CBS, ABC, NBC: I’ve about had it with your dumbing down of the American electorate!

Bernie Sanders is a Democratic Socialist, which means he believes that people should be informed and engaged enough to cast votes for what they feel is best for their society… And here’s the astonishing part – Bernie believes people’s votes should be counted and acted on!

Now before you have a Cold-War brain-fart about the word “socialist” just think about this for a minute: When is the last time you heard a wealthy Washington politician call himself or herself a Democratic Capitalist? The term exists but you don't hear it because today’s Washington capitalists aren't all that interested democracy. They’re not interested in the vote count, but rather the dollar count. The Supreme Court’s decision that “Money equals speech” has replaced the concept of “One man one vote,” or to be more accurate, “One person one vote”. In fact, "One person one vote" (i.e. Democracy) has become so unpopular that many wealthy capitalists are doing everything they can to suppress the vote of the people! Why? Because the lower voter turnout is, the easier and less expensive it is to buy elections and pull the strings of government!

Please consider that the next time you hear somebody question Bernie’s allegiance to American democracy.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Executive Action

Thank you President Obama. Thank you for taking action instead of taking the cash that has corrupted Congress and crippled our government. Thank you for standing tall on behalf of the children of Newtown, and thousands of others. Thank you for your thoughtful, rational, and impassioned speech to a nation half-listening.

...And thank you Paul Ryan. Thank you for responding to the President's speech before it was even over. Thank you for demonstrating with your knee-jerk quickness and blanket statements that you are unhindered by reason. You did the NRA proud (Your check is in the mail). Now, just like you Mr. Ryan, Republicans across our nation who did not listen to the President's words today (let alone try to understand his reasoning) will refuse to even consider balancing their "right to bare arms" (Damn the "well regulated militia" part) with their fellow citizens right to live in a safe and sane society. They, like you will rail against reason, against facts and statistics, and against humanity. They will worship and hold high their holy firearms as they demonize their President for having the audacity to suggest that the right to be armed and dangerous is not absolute, and does not trump all other rights.