THOUGHTS, PRAYERS, OTHER BULLSHIT, AND A STORY – TOM CURLEY

I don’t know why I’m writing this. I don’t know why I’m wasting both my time and yours. But, what the hell. As I’m writing this the news is still in full-time coverage of the latest mass shooting at a public school.

This time in Florida, not that it matters much. It could have been anywhere in the country. Hell, it has been anywhere in the country. Tomorrow it will be somewhere else. And of course, politicians, mostly Republicans, trotted out the same old crap. “Thoughts and prayers” and “now is not the time to talk about gun control”.

You know, the usual bullshit. One of Jimmy Kimmel’s writers posted all the Republican tweets next to the amount of money the NRA has given them. The average is around 3 million dollars. Except for Trump. They gave him 21 million. You can read it here.

I did notice one new thing this time. As the students were being led to safety by the police they all had their hands in the air.

Why? Well, they hadn’t caught the shooter yet and the police couldn’t trust anyone. There might be a second or third shooter amongst them. I thought the photo of the three-year-old girl practicing standing on the toilet seat because that’s what her preschool taught her to do “when the shooters come” was as sad as things could get. I was wrong.

When it was happening, the initial report was that one person was dead and 17 injured. Ellin’s first response was “Only one dead? That’s not so bad”. A few moments later she said “I can’t believe I just said that. I’m getting immune to this”. As it turned out, it wasn’t just one dead, it was all 17. Not the record, but the shooter sure gave it the old school try.

I probably shouldn’t be making bad jokes like that. I just don’t care. This is America’s version of Groundhog Day. Just a very bad version with a shitload of guns and a lot of dead bodies. At this point I was going to repost a blog I did last year called If Now’s Not The Time To Talk About Gun Control, There Never Will Be A Time.   But why bother? You’ve heard it all before. Click on the link if you want.

Instead I’m going to completely change the subject. I’m going to tell you a story. It’s a true story. It happened to me when I was in first grade. I was 6 years old. It was 1957. I grew up in Schenectady, New York. I went to Lincoln Elementary School.

Lincoln Elementary School

It was one block away from the original Freihofer’s Bakery.

The bakery was local back then. Today you can order their products on Amazon. Every day at 3 pm, I would leave school and be enveloped in the amazing smell of freshly baked bread. It was awesome. They had  horse-drawn carriages that delivered their baked goods right to your door. The horse that came up my street every day was named Tony.

Tony!!

My Grandpa used to follow Tony up the street everyday and scoop up Tony’s “droppings”. He used them to fertilize a tiny tree he planted in our back yard. Today the tree is over 50 feet tall. It’s over 60 years old. Tony made good fertilizer.

We only had three TV channels back then. CBS, NBC and ABC. The NBC channel, WRGB, had a daily afternoon show called “Bread Time Stories”. But everybody called it “The Freddie Freihofer Show”. It starred Uncle Jim Fisk.

His sidekick was a puppet called Freddie Freihofer.

They played cartoons, had a band and the show had an audience of kids.

It was basically a rip off of The Howdy Doody show. But we didn’t know that. What made this show different was they also had “Birthday Boys and Birthday Girls”. They got to sit in the front row. They each had their own special birthday cake.  A Freihofer’s cake, or course.

At the end of the show all the kids would line up in front of a big box with a handle on it. Like on a slot machine. Each kid would pull the handle and get a prize.  Freihofer’s baked goods! (Duh) The show was  just a big  infomercial, but me and all my friends didn’t know that. You have to realize that Freihofer’s made some really good stuff. Their chocolate chip cookies were the best in the world. Their sugar donuts where amazing. At school, we had a scale of best to worst. Chocolate chip first, oatmeal raisin second, sugar donuts third and so on.

But the main part of the show, the most amazing part of the show was “The Squiggle”. You see, Uncle Jim was a genius. He would give a kid a big piece of white art paper and a magic marker.

The kid would then make a random squiggly line on the paper. Then Uncle Jim would make his magic. He would look at the squiggle and say “Wow, you just drew a bunny rabbit. He would then draw around the random line and PRESTO! A bunny rabbit!

Forget Picasso, DaVinci, Van Gogh. They were nothing compared to Uncle Jim! I found out later in life that it was something that pretty much any first year art student can do. But who cares? It was a Squiggle!

I tell you all this because I was actually on the Freddy Freihofer show! My friend was having a birthday and his Mom got him on the show. He could bring one friend. He picked me! I was an instant celebrity at Lincoln Elementary School! I was going to be on “The Freddie Freihofer Show!” I was going to get a Squiggle! And a prize!  Cookies? Donuts? Who knew?

Kids were asking for my autograph!

So, the day finally came and reality set in. I didn’t know it then, but the universe was giving me a heads up on what my future career in TV would be like.

First, when I got there I was put up in the farthest back row of the peanut gallery. I wasn’t “a birthday boy”. I was basically an extra to fill a seat. Second, my friend’s Mom had to actually buy the Birthday cake. No freebies from Freihofer’s. Before the show started a producer came out and promised us that if Uncle Jim didn’t make us a Squiggle during the show, he would stay, and we would all get one after the show. Phew, I was worried for a while there.

So, the show started and out came Uncle Jim. Looking and acting much like my Dad and my Uncle Dick used to act on New Year’s Eve. We did the whole show, and of course, I didn’t get my Squiggle. I mean, I was up in the nose bleed section. But I wasn’t worried. The producer said we’d get one after the show. The show ended and we all lined up in front of the big prize machine to get our prize. They ran the credits over us. I was last in line. The credits ended before I got my turn. I then experienced what in the TV biz is called “a union shutdown.” That’s where 5 seconds after you go off the air,  the crew shuts everything off and leaves the building immediately. Whoosh! Gone. Everybody. Including Uncle Jim.

So, there I was, standing in the dark, suddenly realizing I was not getting a Squiggle. But, it was OK. I mean, I still had my prize! By the time I got to the prize box I was all alone. In a dark TV studio. I pulled the handle. Oh, the suspense! I might not be able to bring a Squiggle to school, but I’d have my prize! What would I be sharing with my friends? Chocolate Chip cookies? Oatmeal Raisin? Hell, even sugar donuts would be OK. It seemed to take forever, but finally, out came my prize! And what was it?

A PACKAGE OF ENGLISH MUFFINS!

WTF!!

 

English Muffins!? Are you kidding me???  I have to go back to my school mates with no Squiggle and a package of  friggin’ English Muffins. I say friggin’ because I’m sure if I said fucking English Muffins back then, my Mom would wash my mouth out with soap. It was a thing back then.

So, with my head  down, I slowly walked out of the dark studio, back into the sunlight. A package of English muffins in one hand, and no Squiggle in the other.

But I still got to leave school every day to the smell of freshly baked bread. I never had to practice standing on a toilet seat. And I never had to leave school with my hands over my head.

Those were the good old days.

WHEN A BEATING SOUNDS BETTER THAN A LECTURE

One day (true story), my granddaughter told her father she would prefer that he would beat her because almost anything would be an improvement over another lecture.

The lecture was TWICE as long.

There are times in life for children, adults, and dogs when your best bet is shutting up and pretending you are paying attention.

MIND GAMES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

Why do I remember the name of my fourth grade teacher but can’t remember the name of the new neighbor I’m meeting for the third time this month?

Why do I fall asleep during my favorite TV show but at bedtime my brain won’t shut off for a second?

Why can I rationally know that I can handle something but I still get a knot in my stomach whenever I have to do it? (For me it’s driving around an airport).

Why is it that after I promise not to tell anyone “something”, that “something” keeps popping into my head even when I’m talking to people to whom the “something” would mean nothing?

Why do I get upset with people for doing something I know that I do too? (Like interrupting).

Why do I get totally obsessed with binge watching a TV show but never about writing a novel or working at a soup kitchen?

Why do I keep collecting recipes in a giant folder when I know I’ll never use them? (When I do try a new recipe I go online because who has the time to sort through that giant folder?)

Folders with the recipes I’ve collected over the years

Why can I look for something for 10 minutes and not find it but my husband finds it immediately – where I know I’ve already looked?

Why can I grapple with a problem and fail to find a solution, but hours later, when I’m doing something totally unrelated, the answer just pops into my head?

Why can I “zone out” while driving (you know, you suddenly find yourself way down the road and don’t remember getting there) yet I don’t drive off the road or into the car in front of me?

Why does my snoring husband insist he was “wide awake” when I poked him but you only snore when you are fully asleep?

Why is it that when I learn about a disease or syndrome, suddenly everyone I know knows someone who has it?

Why can I get sick but when I go to see the doctor, my symptoms disappear?

Why can I get a 1960’s song stuck in my head for days but not a single password has ever stayed in my brain for that long?

PLEASE COME UP WITH SOME OF YOUR OWN AND SHARE THEM WITH ME!

 

WHAT A SHOCK!

You think you know someone. You hang out with them. Exchange emails, jokes, anecdotes. Maybe you even work with them. One day, out of the blue, you discover they are fundamentalist Christians who think you are going to Hell. Or a hard-core right-wing Republican who voted for you-know-who. Maybe a conspiracy theorist or a proud believer in the upcoming zombie apocalypse.

fobidden planet poster

I lived in Jerusalem for almost 9 years. It probably should not be a big surprise that you meet a lot of people who are sure they are Jesus Christ come back to finish His work on Earth. One of them worked at the local pizza joint and seemed perfectly normal, until in the middle of a casual conversation, he would drop a bomb about his mission and there you were, transported to wacko central.

I had a casual friend who was a piano player. He sang and played at fancy hotel lounges, like the Hilton Hotel lounge. He was, like me, an American. So it was inevitable we would meet. I did his horoscope for him because in those days, I did horoscopes for an awful lot of people.

We struck up a chatty little relationship. One night, he called and invited me over. He had something important to tell me.

Important? Our relationship consisted of reminiscing about life in the U.S. in the 1960s — and then, there was his horoscope. I was (coincidentally) the astrology columnist and managing editor of a short-lived English-language weekly. Please, let’s not discuss astrology or my psychic abilities (or lack thereof). You don’t want to know and I don’t want to tell you.

Having nothing better to do at the time, I walked over to his house (just around the corner) and we got to talking. Suddenly, I knew. He was going to tell me one of two things: he was an alien from on another planet … or … he was Jesus Christ.

edward-gorey-donald-imagined-thingsIt turned out to be the latter. Yet one more Jesus. He wanted me, because of my brilliant psychic abilities, to be his Paul and spread the word. I told him his timing was off. I promised to advise him when the right moment arrived. Then I fled into the night and home.

He was one of several people who convinced me there was no future for me in the psychically predictive arts.

Then there was the guy I worked with at a high-tech company in Rhode Island.  One day he told me he was going to quit his job and move to an underground bunker in anticipation of the coming American apocalypse. I hadn’t even done his horoscope. Our relationship went rapidly downhill.

These surprises have made me wary of new friends who don’t come with references from other friends. I’m afraid of what might be revealed when we get to know each other better. The thing about people who believe in cabals — or that they were dropped from an alien space craft or will be leaving on one shortly — are that they are sure God has assigned them a mission and you cannot argue with them.

You can’t point out the incongruities and contradictions of their beliefs. They believe what they believe and that’s that. Facts are irrelevant. They ignore evidence. They know everything they need to know and given where they’re coming from, that’s probably enough. For them.

I haven’t personally met a real nutter lately, so I think I’ve got an opening in my tribe. Any applicants?

A SHITTY LEGACY – TOM CURLEY  

Every president leaves a legacy. It’s a big deal. How will history remember the president? How will history remember his administration? For Lincoln, it was the Civil War and ending slavery.

For Herbert Hoover, it was the Depression.

For FDR, it was The New Deal.

You get the point. So, what will the legacy of the current occupant of the Oval Office be? Will it be that an ignorant, moronic, racist, misogynistic, narcissistic, senile asshole should probably not be the President?

Well, sure, that’s a given. But I think his legacy will be even more than just the obvious. He will be remembered for something far more profound.

The President of The United States gave the mainstream media a great gift. A gift they never could have gotten on their own. Newspapers, cable news, network news — especially network news — finally got something they could never have gotten any other way!

This is the best gift ever!

What was it?


The President made it OK to say shit on national TV. Watching it happen was a wondrous event.


The story was that SCROTUS described countries like Haiti and African countries as “Shitholes” in front of a bunch of Congressmen. The story exploded, like every other stupid thing he does. But this story was different. Something new happened. I was wandering thru the news channels as it happened.  And it was awesome. It was adorable. It was like watching a child speak for the first time.

Haiti is a shithole!

Initially, everyone was hesitant. They all didn’t say shithole, they said “The S-word”. And all the chyrons, the lower thirds, all said “S#@THOLES”.

All the cable news anchors fell all over each other saying how much it disturbed them to have to say a word they don’t want to say because it’s so vile. So they said “The S-Word” And they said The “S-Word” as often as they could.

And then, as the evening wore on, I noticed something. The lower thirds suddenly said “SHITHOLE”.

Wow, I thought. And then like a puppy opening his or her eyes for the first time and seeing a new world, it happened.

Wow, this place is a shithole

Suddenly Rachel Maddow and all the others on TV took the leap. “The President said Shithole!” they all declared! And the flood gates opened up.

By the next day everybody was on the ‘shit-bandwagon’. Every headline had some play on the word shit.

There was not a “S##THOLE” anywhere to be found!

I realize at this point that many of you might not understand why I think this is so important. It has to do with the media. I know what I’m talking about because I’ve been in the media for over 40 years.

There are a lot of things the media can and can’t do, or should or shouldn’t do. But there is one thing that they absolutely can’t do. And that is they can’t say dirty words. To be more specific “The Seven Dirty Words”.

The seven dirty words? What’s that? Well, the words are from a George Carlin routine from around 1972.

The bit was about words you can’t say on radio or TV and the words were: “Shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker and tits.”

The record was played on a Pacifica radio station in NYC, WBAI. That lead to the FCC fining the station.

And that lead to a Supreme Court case. “FCC vs Pacifica Foundation.” It was a big first amendment case and what came out if it was a decision that the FCC couldn’t limit your first amendment rights, but they were OK banning the seven dirty words on mainstream media.

And that is a big thing if you work in the mainstream media. Many anchors have been fired for accidentally saying “fuck” on the air. It was instant death, you were gone. Period. And you have no idea how media people talk, especially  off the air.

I worked for the ABC Radio Network in the early 1970’s, WCBS FM in the late 1970’s and CBS News until today and I always marveled at how some news announcers could go thru an entire newscast hitting the mute button on their mike to yell at someone in between doing the actual newscast.

ANCHOR: In the news today, Vietnam peace talks have stalled, more after this.
MUTED ANCHOR: What the fuck??! Who ate my fucking Goddamn yogurt! You all know that’s my motherfucking yogurt!
ME: (talking in announcer’s ear) We’re back in 3,2,1, cue.
ANCHOR: Moving on to sports, here’s Howard Cosell.
MUTED ANCHOR: God fucking damn it! This is the third time this month my motherfucking yogurt is gone! I will find you, you cocksucker  and I will FUCK YOU UP!!

I know you think I’m making this up. And I also know for a fact that as Garry is reading this, he is rolling on the floor laughing.

My point is, this is a milestone. On January 11th, the year of our lord 2018, a miraculous thing happened. Trump overturned FCC vs Pacifica. The mainstream media got to say one of the Sacred Seven Dirty Words.

Broadcasters are loving it! Now that the precedent is broken, where can we all go next? Oh right — there are still six more dirty words!

So, to sum up this president’s legacy:

  • A shithead decided to run for president.
  • A bunch of shitheads decided to vote for him.
  • A bunch of other shitheads decided that there was no difference between him and the other shithead running for president, so they voted for a third shithead.
  • And half the country didn’t give enough of a shit to vote at all.

You can’t make this shit up. But at least we can say shit now! Thank God, because the president is doing his damnedest to turn this country into a real shithole.

We are all in such deep shit. On top of everything else,  we’re going to need 7 new dirty words.

DIDN’T WE ALREADY KNOW THIS? –  BY TOM CURLEY

Well, the new year is less than a week old and it seems like 2018 is turning into 2017 on steroids. There’s so much going on this week it seemed to be a “target rich” environment for a blog. The “You can’t make this shit up” and “If you wrote this, nobody would believe it” clichés got together and gave birth to a book called  “Fire And Fury” by a reporter named Michael Wolff. 

It’s an inside look at this train wreck called “a Presidency.” It confirms what has been common knowledge for a while already. SCROTUS is nuts. Senile, and dumb as a brick, too.  And much, much more.  The book is riveting. I downloaded the audio book. Ellin and I sat at the kitchen table and listened for over 3 hours before we realized two things.

One: This is totally engrossing. We can’t stop listening.
Two: Damn, my butt is sore. Don’t sit at a kitchen table for more than three hours.

The thread of the book is how unbelievable this administration is and how unbelievably incompetent this administration is. 

But I think the lead — which has been buried — is how this guy was able to write this book. I’m not making this up. How did he do it? He spent the last year hanging out in the White House. In the West Wing.  He talked to everybody, including the President.

He could go in anytime he wanted. They all talked to him. They all knew he was writing a book!

How did he pull this off?

He met with Trump and asked if he could be a “fly on the wall” and document his administration. Trump said “Sure, why not?” Now he denies it but somehow, he got access to the White House, even though nobody is sure who actually allowed it.

The utter chaos that the book describes is how he got in.

Just sitting here, watching all this shit happen.

So, think of it. A reporter is going to the White House for a year, wandering around and everybody tells him everything. And nobody notices he’s —

  1. A REPORTER!
  2. HE’S THERE!

And they all seemed to be completely  stunned and surprise that this guy

WROTE A BOOK!!!

The other thing about this book is that all the bombshells in the book are not bombshells. It’s all common knowledge. Hell, I’ve written a blog about most of them.

The book points out that they never expected to win. The book equates the campaign to the Mel Brooks movie “The Producers.

I wrote CAN MEL BROOKS SUE REALITY FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT? The President is stupid.

I wrote STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES. The White House staff treats SCROTUS like a child.

I wrote WE NEED A FIRST MOM.  They have to come up with ways to stop him from doing stupid stuff, or worse.

I wrote M.A.D. MADMEN AND THE FIVE MINUTE RULE.  The president is nuts.

I wrote NORMAL, NORMALIZING AND NORMALIZING NUTS. The president is getting nuttier.

I wrote NUTS, NUTJOBS AND NUTTERBUTTER. I could go on, but I’m getting tired of the cutting and pasting. And of course Marilyn, Ellin, and Garry have written even more on all of this. Basically, all the stuff we’ve known and been watching unravel during the last year is now in a book because a guy got to sit on a sofa in the West Wing for about a year — and just watched it all happen.

You just can’t make this shit up.  We all know one thing: It’s going to get even weirder.

OTHER PEOPLE’S DOGS

Other people’s dogs love their people more than anything else in the world. They will do anything for a hug, a pat, or a cuddle.

Other people’s dogs come when called. Sit when told. Some of them do other things … like walk at heel. Even do tricks.

Our dogs are without a shred of respect for us. Before they do something nice for us, they want to know what’s in it for them. Are they going to get one of the “good” treats? Or better yet, a piece of chicken? Or maybe a fried shrimp? Any human food, in a pinch.

We do not have obedient dogs. I mentioned this to Ellin. She looked at me and said: “We are not the kind of people who have obedient dogs.” I’m pretty sure that’s because we find their disobedience so damned funny, they know they can get away with murder — as long as they make us laugh. Meanwhile, we tell them what to do and they ignore us.

So, what about being willing to do anything for to make us happy? Surely you are kidding? They won’t get off the sofa unless someone is heading for the kitchen … or Duke thinks there’s chance someone will throw the ball for him … or there’s a funny noise out there that requires immediate barking.

Love us no matter what? I’m pretty sure if we run out of biscuits, the dogs will go looking for a better home.

And yet, we continue to bribe them anyway. We let them disrespect us daily. We give them their medication. We buy the best food we can find. We worry about them. If they don’t seem quite up to par, I wonder if I should rush my little furry one to the vet. They can fake me out by simply refusing to eat a meal.

Bonnie didn’t eat dinner? She must be dying. Well, maybe not Bonnie. She has been known to not eat on the theory that something better will show up in the dish if she turns her nose up at dinner numero uno. The other two though? Gibbs is the most serious eater I’ve ever seen. Nothing can dislodge him from dinner. Duke is distractable, but he doesn’t leave much. Even when distracted.  As I write this, I can see them sitting on the sofa, laughing at me.

What’s wrong with them?

More to the point, what’s wrong with us?