KNOTS, PRETZELS, AND THE PRESS – BY TOM CURLEY

It’s been fun since the election watching the right-wing press, mostly lead by Fox News, bend themselves into evermore twisty and convoluted pretzels as they try to explain the latest gaffe/scandal/complete act of idiocy coming out of the White House.

The Dunderhead-In-Chief keeps admitting he does things, like, I don’t know. Like, give up code word “intel” to the Russians. In the Oval Office. Admitting that he fired an FBI Director because he was being investigated by the FBI over his connections to Russia … to the same Russians!  You know, stuff like that.

Hey guys, the CIA just told me some really cool stuff. Wanna hear it?

His defenses all boil down to: “He can do that if he wants to, so there” and “It’s Obama’s fault!”

This is nothing new. If we’ve learned anything in the last four months it’s that no matter how crazy we think things will be, they’ll be even crazier. We also know that the SCROTUS M.O. is to distract today’s scandal with a worse scandal tomorrow.

So, the question becomes, where does he have left to go? What scandal could be worse than today’s? Wait, I got it. He actually shoots somebody on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan to prove he wouldn’t lose any of his supporters.

SEAN HANNITY: Breaking news. President Trump just shot a man on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Secret service agents immediately pounced on the man and wrestled him to the ground.

SEAN HANNITY: Here to discuss this breaking story we have Senior White House Adviser Kellyanne Conway and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Kellyanne, let’s start with you.

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well first off I think it’s very unfair the way the fake news media have been saying the President shot a man on Fifth Avenue.

BERNIE SANDERS: But he did! He shot a guy! On Fifth Avenue! On live TV!

What the hell?

KELLYANNE CONWAY: That’s one way of looking at it. I didn’t see the President shoot a man on Fifth Avenue. I saw the President save a man on Fifth Avenue.

BERNIE SANDERS: Save him?? From what?!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Radical Islāmic Terrorism.

BERNIE SANDERS: WHAT???!!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: And besides, the President was elected in the largest landslide in the history of the world. So, he has the right to shoot anybody he wants.

BERNIE SANDERS: NO HE DOESN’T!!!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: Well, he can order drone strikes. He can send troops into war. He can launch missiles. In every case, he’s killing somebody. So why can’t he just take out a gun and shoot a man?

SEAN HANNITY: Hmmm. That makes sense. Executive privilege.

BERNIE SANDERS: NO IT DOESN’T!! Well, actually, it makes a little sense … No! What am I saying??! This is still crazy! He shot a guy to prove that none of his supporters would leave him!

KELLYANNE CONWAY: That’s ridiculous. He was saving a man from Radical Islam. Every White House aide agrees with me.

SEAN HANNITY: This just in: President Trump told Lester Holt of NBC News that he shot the man to prove none of his supporters would leave him.

BERNIE SANDERS: SEE???

SEAN HANNITY: This also just in. A recent CBS/NY Times Poll says that President Trump has not lost any of his supporters. 85 percent said, “The guy had it coming.” The other 15 percent said “The guy probably had it coming.”

And so it would go. Full confession. This idea is not new. Google “George Bush ate a baby” and “George Bush Saves a baby”.

Everything old is new again. Just dumber.

MEMORIAL HALLWAYS

Every night, I fill up my cup, grab my bag o’ medications, pet the puppies, and hike the hallway to the bedroom at the other end of the house.

After arriving, I put the bag where it belongs. Adjust the bed to its TV viewing angle. Turn on the television for Garry. He watches with headphones while I read or listen to an audiobook. I fire up my blue-tooth speaker. I put my medications into a cup which is actually the lid from a medicine bottle. Convenient and keeps little round pills from rolling off the table.

I never remember everything. Typically, I forget to turn off the fans in the living room. I sit on the edge of the bed trying to remember what I should have done but didn’t.

“Ah,” I think. “Fans.” I go back to the living room. Turn off the fans. Pet the dogs. Assure them they are not getting another biscuit no matter how cute they are.

Back down the hall. Brush teeth. Sit on the edge of the bed. Oh, right. Need to refill antihistamine bottle. It’s empty. Back to the kitchen where the big bottle is stored. Fending off the dogs, I amble back to the bedroom. And get the nagging feeling I’ve forgotten something else.

Ah, that’s right. I didn’t close the kitchen door. It’s a dutch door and we leave the top open during the day to catch the breeze. Tonight, it’s supposed to rain so I should close it. Up the hall to the kitchen. Close door. Pet dogs. Back to bedroom. Garry shows up, having done whatever it is he does for however long he does it in the bathroom. He settles into watching highlights of the Sox game, followed by a movie or three. I turn on my audiobook.

Forty-five minutes later, I’ve got a headache. I’m not sleepy. Everything hurts. Why are my medications not working? There’s nothing more I can take. Panic sets in.

72-scotties-073016_034

Which is when I realize all the pills are in the cup. What with all the walking up and down the hallway, I never quite got around to taking them. Which probably explains why they aren’t working.

I laugh. Continue laughing. Garry takes off his headphones long enough for me to explain why. I got to the punchline, he looks at me and says: “You hadn’t taken them?” He smiled. Nodded. Put the headphones back.

As our memory — collectively and individually — gets less dependable, we have substituted routines and calendars. If we do everything the same way at the same time every day, we’re less likely to forget. Or not remember if we did it today, or yesterday.

The other evening, we were watching a show that included a dog. Garry assumes I know every dog breed at a glance. He’s right, usually. I know the breeds, but these days, I may not remember its name. I will usually remember the group — guarding, herding, hunting, hound, terrier, non-sporting (“other”), toy. If I remember that, I can go to the AKC site, find the group, scroll the list and find the dog. But they’ve changed the AKC website, so it’s not as easy as it used to be. I wish they’d stop fixing stuff that isn’t broken.

I knew the dog that Garry was asking about was the same as the dog Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) had on his show. The dog’s name was Eddy. I remembered that. No problem. The breed name was on the edge of my brain, but not coming into focus. I gave up and Googled it.

Search for: “Breed of dog on Frasier TV show.”

Except I couldn’t remember the name of the TV show, either. So I first had to find the name of the show.

Search for: “long-running comedy on TV about psychiatrist.”

Up popped Frasier. Phew. I could have also found it by looking up that other long-running comedy, “Cheers,” in which Frasier first appeared, but I couldn’t remember its name, either. One of these days, I’m going to have to Google my own name. I hope I find it.

SHARING THE WORLD IN MAY 2017

Share Your World – May 22, 2017

What one thing have you not done that you really want to do? 

Ride in a hot air balloon. It must have something to do with “The Wizard of Oz.” I’m sure if I go drifting, I’ll wind up in a charming parallel universe … or maybe something even better. Like, the past, but a nice past that’s much better than the past really was. I want that piece of the past where no one hit the shores of an unknown (to Europeans) country and didn’t come ashore with every intention of destroying everything and everyone until they owned it all.

I want to float into a better world. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

How often do you get a haircut?

Do we count doing it myself? Because other than that, “almost never” would be the good answer. I snip it and clip it myself to keep it from looking excessively shaggy, but otherwise, pretty much never would be my best answer.

In regards to puzzle what’s your choice: jigsaw, crossword, word search or numeric puzzles?

Always word search, with “Scrabble” as my lifelong favorite.

How many cities have you lived? You can share the number of physical residences and/or the number of cities.

I was born and raised in New York. The city of New York. Born in Brooklyn, moved to Queens (1) then Queens (2).

Matthew – 1958

From the second home we had in Queens where I spent all my years in public school, I left for college. I rented a room near Hofstra University, in Hempstead, New York.

The house on Bedford Avenue in Uniondale

Soon — very soon — I got married and moved to an apartment in Hempstead. Then we bought a house in nearby Uniondale. Ten years later, we sold that house and bought a bigger house in (you guessed it) Hempstead.

Then, after some considerably discontented years of marriage, I plucked myself and my son and moved to Jerusalem, Israel where we stayed for nine and a half years.

Jerusalem, Baka

I came back, lived briefly in the house in Hempstead, then bounced up to a rental place in Waltham, Massachusetts. Because Garry was in Boston and I wanted to be where he was. After that, I bought a place in Lynn, Massachusetts. Immediately after I spend my money on the apartment in Lynn, Garry thought we should get married, so I rented the place in Lynn and we moved into a place in Charles River Park, which is very downtown Boston.

After a year, we rented another place on Beacon Hill — cute but WAY too small.

Ten months later, we bought a triplex in Roxbury and lived there for ten years. Ten years during which I didn’t even own a camera. My non photographic years. Seriously, I really didn’t take any pictures for the entire time which seems a bit weird today. It wasn’t until a few years — after we moved to Uxbridge (which isn’t Boston or even close to Boston) — that I got busy taking pictures again.

And here we shall stay. I know this isn’t Boston because people in Boston, when asked about this house, say “You live WHERE?”

Here. We live here.

TWO SHORT STORIES – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I love stories about clever solutions to thorny problems. Here are two of my favorite family stories about creative problem solving.

THE DIVORCE DILEMMA

My mother was a psychologist. In the ‘60’s, she got a call from a famous divorce lawyer in New York City. His name was Louis Nizer and he wanted her to testify in a society divorce case. He represented the wife who was suing for divorce. The problem, to put it bluntly, was that her husband only liked having sex with her shoes. Not with her.

Nizer wanted Mom to testify to the severe emotional distress the wife was suffering because she was being deprived of her “conjugal rights”. But the lawyer was worried because the judge was an old school, devout Catholic. Nizer was afraid that his argument would fall flat on this particular judge because of his religious beliefs, which didn’t include women “needing” sex.

Mom thought for a minute and suggested that Nizer change his tactics. She asked “What is the only time conservative Catholics believe that sex is appropriate?”

The answer is, to have children. Children, who will be raised as practicing Catholics. So, my mother argued, why not claim that the reason the wife needs a divorce is her husband’s practice of ejaculating into her shoes is depriving her of children. Good, Catholic children.

Nizer thanked my mother profusely. He used her argument and won the divorce case on motions. No trial and no need for my mother’s testimony. No credit for her brilliant idea either. But we know the truth!

THE MEDICAL DILEMMA

My mother’s first husband was a physician. His name was Abraham Otto but he was always called A.O. A.O., who was Jewish, had a Jewish friend who was overseas as a soldier in World War II.

A.O. received a letter from him asking for medical advice. The friend had been told he needed non-emergency surgery – a gall bladder or appendix. Something minor today but which required major surgery in the 1940’s. His friend wanted to know if he should let the field doctors do the surgery or if he should request a flight home to the states for the procedure.

A.O. felt strongly that his friend should have the surgery done in the states, but he also knew all letters were read and censored by the military. He worried if he told his friend not to trust the overseas military doctors, the letter could be confiscated and would never reach his friend at all. So, A.O. wrote a glowing letter about how wonderful the overseas army doctors were and the total faith he had in their abilities.

He signed the letter “Dr. Kim A. Hame.” “Kim a hame” in Yiddish, means “Come home!”

A.O. knew his friend spoke Yiddish. The army censors didn’t. Problem solved!

TALKING ABOUT STUPID

TELL ME ABOUT STUPID

I have been assured it’s not stupid because:

  • It seemed like a good idea at the time.
  • I had a lot to drink, smoke, or was otherwise drugged.
  • Everyone was doing it.
  • I did it on a bet.
  • All my friends agreed — it was the right thing to do.
  • I’m an ignorant ass.
IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME

This only works if you had an idea … and followed it to a logical conclusion. In other words, you were thinking about the decision. If you just did it because you were there, it or he was also there, so y’know, shit happened? That IS stupid. Sorry, but saying it seemed like a good idea doesn’t make it one. Anything done by reflex or without thought? Stupid.

I WAS DRUNK

You had too much to drink? Were really incredibly high? You took a handful of drugs?

Why would any of these things make you less stupid?

EVERYONE WAS DOING IT

As your mom used to say, “If everyone is jumping off the roof, does that mean you should do it too?” If your mom wouldn’t buy it when you were six, what makes you think anyone would buy it now that you’re … fiftyish?

Yup. Stupid.

I DID IT ON A BET

Even you think that was stupid, right?

ALL MY FRIENDS AGREED IT WAS THE BEST CHOICE

Since when are your friends, family, co-workers, shrink, or that guy you met while checking out your groceries, become the people who will decide on your future life? Since when does anyone but you count in your final decision to do anything?

I’M AN IGNORANT ASS

Right. Stupid. Because ignorance is not something you were given at birth. Ignorance is a choice.

YOU KNEW IT WAS THE WRONG CHOICE. WE ALWAYS KNOW.

When everything you know about right and wrong is telling you the choice you are about to make is wrong or bad for you — and you do it anyway? For whatever reason? That IS stupid. I’m not talking about deciding whether you should buy bananas or apples, or which television show to watch. I’m talking about decisions that will affect your life and possibly the lives of other people.

When you have an important decision to make, you are the one who gets to decide. What your friends think is neither here nor there. They have nothing to do with your understanding of right, wrong, good and evil … not to mention the larger context of who else lives in your world.

Sure, it’s possible to be intelligent and make a bad choice. We’ve all done it. It remains a stupid choice. The concept of choice and decision requires your judgments be the result of reason. If you typically make decisions without thought, do stuff you know in your gut goes is wrong, you can’t go back and say ‘Oh, it seemed like a good idea.”

No. It didn’t. It wasn’t the right idea, even when you made it. Maybe you did it out of spite or jealousy. Maybe you did it to prove something to yourself or someone else.

It’s still STUPID.

MY NOTORIOUSLY NEW PRINTER

I hate printers. I also hate copiers, scanners, and fax machines.

Nowadays, you get one, you get the batch, but I still hate all of them, whether in one package or many. I got my new printer a few days ago and finally got around to installing it yesterday. Maybe I should have waited.

When you are setting up a new printer, what can you do if your WiFi simply won’t “see” it?

It turns out, the most popular technique is highly technical denial. This means you turn everything off and go shopping. Really, any outside-the-house activity will do the job. We went to Garry’s hearing place to see if they have a significantly better hearing aid for him. Not quite. Yet. Maybe it would be a little better, but not $4000 better.

When we came back from the hearing place and having briefly stopped at the grocery store, I realized I had to confront the printer again. Another one of the small aggravations of modern times: new computers — like this one — don’t have DVD players. I bought an external one, but first I tried downloading the setup instructions from the website. This is supposed to work just like the disc, but surprisingly, didn’t.

Probably, because the WiFi did not find the printer. Or maybe there was some other inexplicable reason.

When your WiFi won’t find a device, there isn’t much you can do about it. You can wave your hands in the air like a fan. Maybe that will blow the WiFi in the right direction. You can shake your devices — but this may work to your disadvantage. Then, there’s cursing. For many people, that works well, but for me, it’s a distraction from getting on with the job.

Turning everything off, then turning every back on is one of the most effective ways of convincing something that should be working to really work, but this time, it didn’t. I should have figured if going shopping didn’t fix it, I needed a new approach.

So, after we came home and I quickly realized it hadn’t magically fixed itself (damn), I hauled my laptop and DVD player into the office. There are — as it turns out — alternate instructions which only appear when you click “NO, that didn’t work either”  for the third time. At which point alternate instructions pop into your browser. These are apparently dangerous weapons of mass destruction and can only be used if your WiFi absolutely can not find the printer, even after you wave your arms and plead with the manufacturer.

It turns out, you have to press the WiFi button until the ALERT button flashes twice. Not three times. If it flashes three times, you have to start over. Next, you have to push the start button again, at which time the WiFi button should start to flash very quickly (not slowly … slowly won’t do the job). They also don’t warn you there’s a pause before it starts rapidly flashing — but if you push it again, you have to start over from the top.

If all goes well, at this point, unless your WiFi is actually out, you should have a connection.

Then you push another button while pressing a third button. Which prints a sheet which you will attempt to scan. Which inevitably produces an error message. If you try to do it again, all it will do is keep printing the same page.

I said screw it and gave up. Then, I decided to register the printer. It turns out, I can’t. Because I am a Canon user — but have no idea what my password used to be. I’m exhausted from carrying the laptop around and having to follow all those instructions.

Since the printer was been found by the WiFi, it would surely print if asked. If the WiFi had found the printer all by itself like it should have, I wouldn’t have had to do any of this. Windows would have taken over and installed everything. Immediately.

Good news? The printer says it works. I’m trusting this to be true. I’m not at all sure about the scanner, but I’ll save that for another day.

Have I mentioned how much I really hate printers? I used to hate fax machines and copy machines too, but now they’re all one thing. So I have just one big thing to hate instead of three.

Is this a good or bad thing?

SHARING MY WORLD – MIDDLE OF MAY

Share Your World – May 15, 2017


How many languages do you speak?

One and two halves. I used to sort of speak Hebrew, but now I can only understand it when someone else speaks it. I used to read French well enough to get through the entire Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel “Les Misérables.”

Columbine

I never really spoke French, though I could read it. I tried to get to France which I was sure would have improved my speaking skills, but alas, it was not to be. So mostly, unless I’m listening to a French song, or watching a movie in French, it’s English. All English, all the time.

What are you reading, watching, listening to, eating?

I’m reading Richard Kadrey’s “The Wrong Dead Guy” in the living room, but in the bedroom, I’m reading “Open and Shut” which is a courtroom and crime story … with dogs. I have “Astrophysics for People in a Hurry” by Neil deGrasse Tyson and Terry Pratchett’s “Wintersmith” waiting in the wings. I am always reading at least one and typically two books. Since I started playing games too, I’m running a little behind on the reading, but that’s okay.

As for watching, we watched “Steve Jobs” — the movie — last night. We just finished up a British series called “Pie in the Sky” with Richard Griffith who was a chef (with a restaurant) and a cop (awaiting retirement). We haven’t settled on a new series yet. We tried out “Father Ted” Priest-detective, but so far, it hasn’t quite taken yet. Really, we are waiting with bated breath for the return of “House of Cards” at the end of the month.

We are also watching baseball, though the Sox are pretty mediocre so far, but the Celtics (basketball) just made the semi-finals, making them this year’s over-achievers. No one thought they would get this far. And we have a bunch of movies to be watched, most of them new. And we always watch “The Daily Show” and Colbert at night. Because we need a good laugh.

What was the last photo you took with your phone?

I don’t take photos on my phone. The only time I took them was when we were in Boston a year ago this month. I’m not a fan of telephotography.

What is your favorite time of day?

Sunrise. If I’m awake.

Sunset, when possible!

Photo: Garry Armstrong