CONUNDRUM – A QUANDARY ENCLOSED BY CONFUSION AND VEXATION – Marilyn Armstrong

FOWC with Fandango — Conundrum

We are living in a conundrum of rather massive proportions. The definition is confusing because the word is confusing.

It is a difficult, vexatious problem. It is not unlike an enigma. It may be a riddle impossible to solve. It’s a quandary, often with many potential solutions, but none which work.

We live in a nation of laws where laws don’t seem to have any current relevance. Our protections — Congress and the Supreme Court — are as much a part of the conundrum as the moron in the middle. We can’t count on protections from anywhere. Where a few years ago, we were nervous and worried, today many of us are plain terrified.

He was described last Sunday by Jake Tapper as follows:

We have a “leader” who cannot lead because he knows nothing. That would be bad enough, but he also doesn’t accept advice from those who actually do know many of the answers.

He is driving the world like a 12-year-old kid who just stole the family car. Can his tiny little legs even reach the brakes?

The economy of the world is endangered by him. He refuses to allow sane people to do what needs to be done.  He denies science, evidence, facts, and truth. Although he certainly appears to be among the most stupid men alive, I have trouble believing he is really as stupid as he seems, but no matter how I look at him, I cannot see anything but stupidity, cruelty, meanness, and rage.

Did he get this way via dementia or Alzheimer’s? Is he — above and beyond the obvious loss of brainpower due to disease — also so deranged he thinks the disaster he is creating is amusing? Is anyone laughing?

In my nightmares, I imagine him sitting in one of his ugly, tasteless “homes” cackling at the misery he is causing and wondering what else he can do to make it worse.

People keep asking, “How can he look at himself in a mirror?”

The answer is simple. He has no conscience, no moral center, no sense of right and wrong. The only reason he hasn’t built more effective concentration camps is that he hasn’t got the money. Yet.

Not to worry. He’s working on it.

ME AND CHAPPAQUIDDICK – BY ELLIN CURLEY

I wrote a blog about famous people that I have had connections with throughout my life. People like Gil Scott Heron, Chevy Chases’ father and brother, Celeste Holm, Erica Jong.

I was reading a review of the new movie about the tragedy involving Ted Kennedy at Chappaquiddick in 1969. I suddenly realized that I had worked with someone intimately involved with that story!

From the fall of 1971 to March of 1972, I worked at the New York State campaign headquarters for Edmund Muskie For President. The office was in midtown Manhattan and was run by a dynamic woman named Esther Newberg. She was a tough cookie. Very decisive, effective, organized and politically savvy. She had previously worked for the equally tough New York politician and women’s movement spokesperson, Bella Abzug.

Edmund Muskie

Esther had the responsibility of meeting with all the county leaders in the state and lining up commitments for Ed Muskie. She also ran the PR operations and supervised her New York Volunteer Coordinator, which was me.

I recruited eager local democratic volunteers and came up with things for them to do. We helped with frequent mass mailings (no computers) and with phone calls mobilizing other volunteers and politically active young people. I organized political events, usually involving a speaker, refreshments and lots of socializing. I think I may have done more to promote dating in New York City than Muskie’s political ambitions there.

Esther, on the right, in the late 1960’s

I have remembered Esther all these years. She was a person who made an impression. So when I read the review of “Chappaquiddick”, I was surprised to learn that a woman who had worked in Bobby Kennedy’s presidential campaign alongside Mary Jo Kopechne (who died in the Chappaquiddick accident), was no other than Esther Newberg. I googled her to make sure she was in fact the Esther Newberg I had worked for in the early 1970’s. She was.

Esther and Mary Jo were two of the six infamous ‘boiler room girls’ who worked for Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign in 1967-1968. They worked in a windowless room, affectionately called ‘the boiler room’. Each woman was assigned a regional desk and was tasked with coordinating all of the state campaign directors in that region, with the Washington campaign headquarters. They dealt with the key campaign issues of the day and reported directly to Bobby and his campaign manager and brother-in-law, Stephen Smith.

RFK and the ‘Boiler Room Girls’

Ethel Kennedy (Bobby’s wife) once said that “Only the great ones worked in that boiler room.” The ‘girls’ were known to be “frighteningly intelligent, politically astute, capable as all get out.” But they were just ‘girls’, which in those days was a stigma that was hard to overcome. The boiler room girls were often portrayed in the press as ‘party girls’ (not true) and of no significance to the campaign (also not true).

After Bobby Kennedy was assassinated in June of 1968, the ‘girls’ dispersed to other jobs in politics. But they stayed in touch and got together for reunions. One of these reunions, which Ted Kennedy and Stephen Smith attended, was in July of 1969 in Chappaquiddick, near the Kennedy compound in Martha’s Vineyard.

Esther was at the party that night and watched her friend, Mary Jo, leave the party in a car with Ted Kennedy. The car inexplicably drove off a small bridge into the water. Kennedy got out of the submerged car but Mary Jo did not. Kennedy took 10 hours to report the incident. Many people feel he didn’t make enough of an effort to rescue Mary Jo. Others believe that if he had reported the accident immediately, there would have been enough time to save Mary Jo’s life. No one knows for sure.

Esther apparently had her name removed from the movie because she felt that too much had been made up and sensationalized.

The Chappaquiddick tragedy that ended Ted Kennedy’s presidential ambitions, as well as the ‘boiler room girls’, were part of my early political memories. So I was thrilled to learn that I had actually known someone who was part of that history. It’s not really a big deal. But I’m excited that I had two degrees of separation from Bobby and Ted Kennedy and this historical event.

GOD MAY WORK IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS OR MAYBE NOT – BY TOM CURLEY

I’ve been watching the coverage of Hurricane Harvey and the unbelievable flooding it is causing. I can’t help but think that God really, REALLY hates Texas. I’m 66 years old and I’ve never seen a hurricane hit land, turn into a tropical storm, go back to sea, hit land again, go back to sea again, and hit land a third time.

The statistics are hard to wrap your head around. As I am writing this, the storm is still going strong and will be for maybe two or three more days. To date, this storm has dropped over 20 TRILLION GALLONS OF WATER ON TEXAS AND LOUISIANA!

Stop now and try to wrap your head around that number.  And it isn’t over yet. There will be more. Estimates are for over 25 TRILLION gallons when this is all over. The weather channel has had to add two more colors to their rain fall charts to adjust to these levels of rain fall.

We need more purple!

The endless scenes of people being rescued reminds me of an old, old joke. There is a great flood and a man who is a devout Christian is trapped on the roof of his house.  The local police come by in a canoe and shout out to him to jump off the roof onto the canoe.

“Jump in the canoe!”

He replies: “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” The police argue with him for a while but he will not relent. Eventually they give up and move on. They have other people to save.

A few hours later, the water is up to his thighs when the State Police come by in another canoe and they tell him to jump in. Again, he states, “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” After arguing with him for a while they give up and move on.

Another hour goes by and now the water is up to his waist. A Coast Guard Helicopter arrives over his house and a bullhorn shouts out, “We are lowering a basket. Climb in and you will be saved.

Again, he replies, “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” So, the helicopter leaves because they have other people to save.

Another hour goes by and the water sweeps the man away and he dies. Suddenly he is in heaven at the feet of God. And he is livid. He is furious. He shouts, “GOD! I was a man of faith! I believed in YOU! HOW COULD YOU HAVE FORSAKEN ME???!”

And God looks down at him for a second and says: “Forsaken you?? What the Hell are you talking about?? I sent you TWO CANOES AND A HELICOPTER!!!”

I’m not the first person to notice that what may turn out to be the worst storm in history is hitting an area where a lot of folks there don’t believe in climate change.

I used to do a stand-up comedy routine (shameless plug):

where I talked about working in the news.

My point was that the news was always the same. Every week, somewhere in the world, there was an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, or flood. And no matter where it happened, we would send a news crew to gather a poor family who had just lost all their worldly belongings, set them up in front of their recently destroyed mobile home and ask them THREE STUPID QUESTIONS.

The first was “How do you feel?”

The answer was never the one you would think …

“How do I feel? I just lost all my worldly belongings. How the hell do you think I feel? How do I feel? I feel great!!! I haven’t had this much fun since my last hemorrhoid operation!

The second was “Will you re-build?”

To this question the answer was always, “Oh yes, this is the third time in ten years we’ve been flooded out. We will rebuild.”

And the reporter would say “But why? You’ve been flooded out three times in ten years?”

And they would say “But this is Paradise! This is God’s country!”

And I would reply, “Don’t you think God is sending you a message??? GET THE FUCK OFF MY PROPERTY!! I’VE FLOODED YOU OUT THREE TIMES IN THE LAST TEN YEARS FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! CAN’T YOU IDIOTS TAKE A FRIGGING HINT???”

I’m telling these jokes because it helps me deal with the horror of what’s going on right now.

What’s happening in Texas now is horrific. Millions of people’s lives are being thrown into unimaginable chaos and despair. Global warming, global climate change is real. The NOAA and the weather channel label these storms as storms of the century, the floods are 100-year floods, 500-year floods. Harvey is being called a 1000-year flood. But it’s not. Hurricane Sandy was a Super Storm that was a 500-year event. And that was FIVE YEARS AGO!

Hurricane Harvey’s flooding is not a 1000-year event. It’s next year’s event. Maybe next month’s. The hurricane season isn’t over yet.


AND NOW — It’s a week later. Irma, the most powerful hurricane to ever be born in the Atlantic, is hustling towards Cuba … and probably, Florida … with 185 mph winds. After that … well … who knows, right? It looks like whatever parts of the U.S. aren’t underwater are on fire. 


Do you think that maybe God is, in fact, sending us a message?

PS: In case you’re curious, what was the Third Stupid Question?

“What did the tornado sound like?” And you all know the answer.“ It sounded just like a freight train going right through our living room.”

That’s a whole other blog.

GOD WORKS IN MYSTERIOUS WAYS, OR MAYBE HE DOESN’T – BY TOM CURLEY

I’ve been watching the coverage of Hurricane Harvey and the unbelievable flooding it is causing. I can’t help but think that God really, REALLY hates Texas. I’m 66 years old and I’ve never seen a hurricane hit land, turn into a tropical storm, go back to sea, hit land again, go back to sea again, and hit land a third time.

The statistics are hard to wrap your head around. As I am writing this, the storm is still going strong and will be for maybe two or three more days. To date, this storm has dropped over 20 TRILLION GALLONS OF WATER ON TEXAS AND LOUISIANA!

Stop now and try to wrap your head around that number.  And it isn’t over yet. There will be more. Estimates are for over 25 TRILLION gallons when this is all over. The weather channel has had to add two more colors to their rain fall charts to adjust to these levels of rain fall.

We need more purple!

The endless scenes of people being rescued reminds me of an old old joke. There is a great flood and a man who is a devout Christian is trapped on the roof of his house.  The local police come by in a canoe and shout out to him to jump off the roof onto the canoe.

“Jump in the canoe!”

He replies: “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” The police argue with him for a while but he will not relent. Eventually they give up and move on. They have other people to save.

A few hours later, the water is up to his thighs when the State Police come by in another canoe and they tell him to jump in. Again, he states, “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” After arguing with him for a while they give up and move on.

Another hour goes by and now the water is up to his waist. A Coast Guard Helicopter arrives over his house and a bullhorn shouts out, “We are lowering a basket. Climb in and you will be saved.

Again, he replies, “No, I am a man of God, and my God will protect me!” So, the helicopter leaves because they have other people to save.

Another hour goes by and the water sweeps the man away and he dies. Suddenly he is in heaven at the feet of God. And he is livid. He is furious. He shouts, “GOD! I was a man of faith! I believed in YOU! HOW COULD YOU HAVE FORSAKEN ME???!”

And God looks down at him for a second and says: “Forsaken you?? What the Hell are you talking about?? I sent you TWO CANOES AND A HELICOPTER!!!”

I’m not the first person to notice that what may turn out to be the worst storm in history is hitting an area where a lot of folks there don’t believe in climate change.

I used to do a stand-up comedy routine (shameless plug):

where I talked about working in the news.

My point was that the news was always the same. Every week, somewhere in the world, there was an earthquake, hurricane, tornado, or flood. And no matter where it happened, we would send a news crew to gather a poor family who had just lost all their worldly belongings, set them up in front of their recently destroyed mobile home and ask them THREE STUPID QUESTIONS.

The first was “How do you feel?”

The answer was never the one you would think …

“How do I feel? I just lost all my worldly belongings. How the hell do you think I feel? How do I feel? I feel great!!! I haven’t had this much fun since my last hemorrhoid operation!

The second was “Will you re-build?”

To this question the answer was always, “Oh yes, this is the third time in ten years we’ve been flooded out. We will rebuild.”

And the reporter would say “But why? You’ve been flooded out three times in ten years?”

And they would say “But this is Paradise! This is God’s country!”

And I would reply, “Don’t you think God is sending you a message??? GET THE FUCK OFF MY PROPERTY!! I’VE FLOODED YOU OUT THREE TIMES IN THE LAST TEN YEARS FOR CHRIST’S SAKE! CAN’T YOU IDIOTS TAKE A FRIGGING HINT???”

I’m telling these jokes because it helps me me deal with the horror of what is going on right now.

What’s happening in Texas now is horrific. Millions of people’s lives are being thrown into unimaginable chaos and despair. Global warming, global climate change is real. The NOAA and the weather channel label these storms as storms of the century, the floods are 100-year floods, 500-year floods. Harvey is being called a 1000-year flood. But it’s not. Hurricane Sandy was a Super Storm that was a 500-year event. And that was FIVE YEARS AGO!

Hurricane Harvey’s flooding is not a 1000-year event. It’s next year’s event. Maybe next month’s. The hurricane season isn’t over yet. Do you think that maybe God is, in fact, sending us a message?

PS: In case you’re curious, what was the Third Stupid Question?

“What did the tornado sound like?” And you all know the answer.“ It sounded just like a freight train going right through our living room.”

That’s a whole other blog.

COMEDY IS HARD

Dying is easy. Comedy is hard.

What could possibly go wrong? Life is one hilarious disaster after another. The moment you flash on having finally gotten it together, it falls apart.


Life in shreds? Out of work? Evicted? Hiding from the repo guy? Other half dump you? Medication not working? Bank threatening to foreclose? Don’t take it personally. It’s just a little irony from Karmic Life, Inc.

drinks table dinner

Disaster is life’s cute and funny way of pointing out how little control you have over your fate. Don’t cry. No one likes a cry-baby. Smile! That’s it! Go on. No suffering allowed. No one wants to hear your sad story … unless you turn it into a funny story! Then everyone wants to listen.

Stories of hideous mistakes and horrendous outcomes are the stuff of terrific after-dinner conversation. A few drinks can transform them into hilarity. Misery fuels humor. It’s a fact. Misery, mistakes, and disasters are high comedy. Funny movies are not about people having fun. They’re about people in trouble, with everything going wrong, lives in ruins.

75-DFLobby-HP-1

There’s a fine line between comedy and a tragedy. Mostly, it’s all about the ending. Tragedies end with piles of corpses. Comedies (usually) don’t. Otherwise, it’s mostly timing.

Funny stories weren’t funny when they happened. Later, with perspective, they’re funny. After I was told I had cancer in both breasts (they were having a two-for-one-special at Dana-Farber), I had them removed and replaced by silicon implants, but stopped short of adding fake nipples. Previous surgeries having left me with no naval, I now present myself as a space alien. You don’t believe me? It’s true.

And about those fake tits: I own tee shirts that say “Yes, they are fake. My real ones tried to kill me.” It’s a big hit at parties, the high point of my cancer experience.

Fake breasts

Ironically — there’s that word again — a mere two years later, my heart needed a complete overhaul. The ultimate irony because I’d been telling everyone my heart was the only organ that worked properly.

When life goes to Hell in the proverbial hand basket, a lot of people who were sort of friends eye you with suspicion. Is bad luck contagious? There’s also a subtle whiff of satisfaction. They wouldn’t be so rude as to say it aloud, but they are overjoyed it happened to you, not them.

If you are a writer, out of the wreckage may emerge a book — or at least a Freshly Pressed badge from WordPress. See? It wasn’t for nothing.

Personal traumas are collateral damage in our Darwinian battle for survival. No one gets through life unscathed. Mindful of future tragedy lurking down the road, prepare some clever repartee. You can give it a test drive at the next get-together with your more successful friends.

As a bonus, you’ll truly appreciate the humor (irony?) when your friends’ lives go to pieces. It will be your turn to have a good laugh. In private. Later.

YOU MIGHT AS WELL LAUGH

Oh, The Irony

For some of us, irony is just the way it goes. Life is one ironic incident after another. Just when you think you’ve finally got it together, it falls apart. The job that looked like a career maker comes with the boss from Hell and some vital organ fails. Oh well. You might as well laugh. There’s no percentage in tears.


Life in shreds? Out of work? Evicted? Hiding from the repo guy? Other half dump you? Meds not working? Bank threatening to foreclose? Don’t take it personally. It’s just  a little ironic humor by Life, Inc.

Disaster is life’s cute and funny way of pointing out how little control you have over your fate. Don’t cry. No one likes a cry-baby. Smile! That’s it! Go on. No suffering allowed. No one wants to hear your sad story … unless you turn it into a funny story! Then everyone wants to listen.

The first time my world went to pieces, I walked away from a dead marriage, gave everything to my ex and moved to another country. The joke was on me. I promptly married a guy so much worse I get dizzy thinking about it 30 years later. When that fell apart (though it lasted longer than it ought because I wouldn’t admit what a horrible mistake I’d made), I staggered — bloody, dazed, and penniless — back to the USA. When I stopped feeling as if I’d gone through a wood chipper, I married Garry which I should done in the first place, except he hadn’t asked. Minor detail.

All that seemingly pointless pain and suffering was not for nothing. Stories of hideous mistakes and horrendous outcomes are the stuff of terrific after-dinner conversation. A few drinks can transform them into hilarity. Misery fuels humor. It’s a fact. Misery, mistakes, and disasters are high comedy. Funny movies are not about people having fun. They’re about people in trouble, with everything going wrong, lives in ruins.

There’s a fine line between comedy and a tragedy. Mostly, it’s all about the ending. Tragedies end with piles of corpses. Comedies (usually) don’t. Otherwise, it’s mostly timing.

Funny stories weren’t funny when they happened. Later, with perspective, they’re funny. After I was told I had cancer in both breasts (they were having a two-for-one-special at Dana-Farber), I had them removed and replaced by silicon implants, but stopped short of adding fake nipples. Previous surgeries having left me with no naval, I now present myself as a space alien. You don’t believe me? It’s true.

And about those fake tits: I own tee shirts that say “Yes, they are FAKE. My real ones tried to kill me.” It’s a killer at parties, the high point of my cancer experience.

Fake breasts

Ironically — there’s that word again — a mere two years later, my heart needed a complete overhaul. The ultimate irony (but luckily, not the final one) because I’d been telling everyone my heart was the only organ that worked properly. Famous last words.

When life goes to Hell in the proverbial hand basket, a lot of people who were sort of friends eye you with suspicion. Is bad luck contagious? But they also look at you with a subtle whiff of satisfaction. They wouldn’t be so rude as to say it aloud, but they are overjoyed it happened to you, not them.

If you are a writer, out of the wreckage may emerge a book — or at least a Freshly Pressed badge from WordPress. It wasn’t for nothing after all.

Personal traumas are collateral damage in our Darwinian battle for survival. No one gets through life unscathed. Just, for some of us, it’s rather more scathing.

Mindful of future tragedy lurking down the road, prepare some clever repartee. You can give it a test drive at the next get-together with your successful pals. Something to look forward to.

As a bonus, you’ll truly appreciate the irony when your friends’ lives go to pieces.

No matter how awful things are, you will stop bleeding and screaming. Eventually. Depression will ebb. The crushing weight on your chest will be replaced by a permanent sense of panic which you will call “normal.”

It’s all in good fun, right?

BLAST FROM THE PAST -The Best Medicine

Life in shreds? Out of work? Evicted? Hiding from the repo guys? Other half dumped you? Bank threatening to foreclose? Don’t take it personally. It’s just  a joke. No, really. Disaster is life’s cute and funny way of pointing out how little control you have over your fate. Don’t cry. No one likes a cry-baby. Smile! That’s it! Go on, now, no suffering allowed. This personal disaster is your cue to laugh. No one wants to hear your sad story … unless you turn it into a funny story! Then everyone wants to listen.

The first time my world went to pieces, I walked away from a dead marriage, gave everything to my ex and moved to another country. The joke was on me. I promptly married a guy so much worse I get dizzy thinking about it 30 years later. When that fell apart (though it lasted longer than it ought because I wouldn’t admit what a horrible mistake I’d made), I staggered — bloody, dazed and penniless — back to the USA. When I stopped feeling as if I’d gone through a wood chipper, I married Garry which I should done in the first place, except he hadn’t asked. Minor detail.

All that seemingly pointless pain and suffering was not for nothing. Stories of hideous mistakes and horrendous outcomes are the stuff of terrific after-dinner conversation. A few drinks can transform them into hilarity. Misery fuels humor. It’s a fact. Misery, mistakes, and disasters are high comedy. Funny movies are not about people having fun. They’re about people in trouble, with everything going wrong, lives in ruins. The difference between a comedy and a tragedy is the ending. Tragedies usually end with a pile of corpses; comedies (usually) don’t. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of timing and style.

Funny stories weren’t funny when they happened. Now, well, yeah, they’re funny. After I was told I had cancer in not one, but both breasts (they were having a two-for-one special at the Dana-Farber), I had them removed and replaced by silicon implants, but stopped short of adding fake nipples. Previous surgeries having left me with no naval, I now present myself as a space alien. You don’t believe me? It’s true.

And about those fake tits: I own tee shirts that say “Yes, they are FAKE. My real ones tried to kill me.” I’m wearing one right now. It’s a killer at parties and is the high point of my cancer experience.

Fake breasts

When life goes to Hell in the proverbial handbasket, a lot of folks who were sort of friends eye you with suspicion (is bad luck contagious?), but also with a subtle hint, a light whiff, of profound satisfaction. They wouldn’t be rude enough to say so, but they are overjoyed that it happened to you, not them. Sorry about your life, really. (Furtive, slightly smug grin.)

If you are a writer, out of the wreckage will come a book or at the very least, a Freshly Pressed badge from WordPress. Yay! See? It wasn’t for nothing!

Our personal traumas are collateral damage in a Darwinian battle of the fittest to survive. No one gets through unscathed. So mindful of whatever tragedy lurks just over your personal horizon, why not prepare some clever repartee? You can give it a test drive at the next get together with your more successful pals. It will give you something to look forward to. And, as a bonus, you will really appreciate the irony when your friends’ lives go to pieces later on. You’ll be able to give them great advice on how to survive their personal Apocalypse! Cool!

So no matter how horrible things are right now, don’t worry. You will stop bleeding and screaming. Eventually. Black depression will ebb. You won’t always feel you can’t breathe. That crushing weight on your chest will be replaced by a permanent sense of panic and mild hysteria you will call “normal.”

Start laughing right this minute.  No tears allowed. Tragedy is hilarious. Heaven may be droll, but Hell?  Everyone is yukking it up down there. Watch out for the flames (OUCH).