Saturday, March 12, 2016

About a suicide.

Because this is about another human being, any comments that are judgmental, ungenerous or just plain mean will be summarily excised. To the 90% who don't test positive for jackass, thanks for your forbearance.

(Hearing the M*A*S*H theme for this)

Postscript before the post...

I wrote the following before reading anything about the personal life of Mr. Aubrey McClendon, who took his own life on March 2, 2016. Instead of editing this perhaps presumptuous missive to a man I did not know, I'll let it remain for a couple of reasons. The first is that it's not really about him or even his alleged crimes: It's about a few horrible moments in someone's life, moments all too many folks might recognize even though they take different forms. (These 'different forms', really, are but fragments of one huge illusion, that, in such differences, we are separate. That single illusion creates the greatest tragedy. I'll admit it - trying to dispel such embedded misconceptions is crazy. It's windmill jousting at its most absurd and maybe its most necessary.)

But my second reason for leaving the letter alone is more important: I just read Aubrey McClendon's hometown obituary and watched a 00:58 local news report about his funeral. Mere sadness at the untimely passing of a stranger morphed into true grief: I extend my deepest condolences to his beloved - and they are many.

To Aubrey McClendon

*Amplectimur te

Rest in peace.

Dear Sir, dear brother from another mother on this earth,

There will be folks who read this, knowing of your passing, who may find a public letter less than tasteful, even macabre given the circumstances of your death. This is not my intent.

I never met you. And this missive will presume much. You may think, How dare she? But guess what? Too bad, sir. With all due respect, that's the price you pay for cutting out on the bill. Now sit back down and listen. Please. To start with, I'm on your side...

Now then. The lack of solid evidence notwithstanding, it's fairly obvious that you felt besieged enough to take your own life. Yes, I am taking the liberty, I realize, in imagining that you felt hopelessness to a degree so profound that no other option promised to outweigh the certainty of your... what? Doom?

I've known people who took their own lives amid the toxic trickery of alcohol and/or drugs. Any sense of what is real in current time or - scarier still - the future was long held hostage or disintegrated altogether in the wake of using. The thousand 'if onlys' your loved ones have cried might've paled beside your own. We can only reckon that the many stories from people who attempted suicide, but lived to enjoy - often to treasure - life afterwards must not have crossed your desk.

To fail, to fall from rarefied heights is an unenviable lot. I know a little about that. What's true and false becomes tangled in a web we co-created, I daresay, with high hopes and fervent support. What stings in that fall is surprising, isn't it?

And that doesn't get to the part about finding out who your real friends are. (In my case, I'm happy to report that I did not lose a single one. However, I may have sightly miscounted to start with.)

Am I joking? Not really. Maybe a little. It's a dark business, after all, this seriously thinking of leaving the party early business. Yet jokes can rise up from the big dust up at the Not OK Corral.

Sir, I wish you'd known the Voice of permanence, of - no pun intended at all - grace, mercy - any of the above - before you made your decision. Please don't mistake my meaning for vanity when I say I wish you'd known me, too. Not in the sense that I'm special. Any more than another survivor of our own best dreams and worst nightmares colliding.

By now, I'm sure you've met the Voice, the Source - OK I'll stop beating around the bush since you're already there. How's this? Aubrey, I think you've met the golden, sweet light of an eternally merciful, loving Source. Even if it's simply called a reunion, the re-belonging to the Light so vast and engulfing that all galaxies tremble in their own itty bittyness beside it.

To those of you squirming, muttering, "Oh just say His name already!", please try to understand. A public forum isn't the place to risk labeling The One Thing that implies exclusion. This is only about the great big one-size-loves-ALL kind of what's 'shining on you right now.

Only reimmersion in the Light can bring true perspective - which can only happen without the hemophiliac qualities of regret. People who have attempted and failed at suicide almost unanimously report - insofar as literature is available on the matter - of regret so abject that it's like the guy who said, "I coulda had a V-8!" to the millionth power.

Alternatives occur to you: ones that didn't seem viable before suddenly look like a merry-go-round from your new digs - from Over Yonder. By the way, this is SO not an, "I told you so"! It ain't a reprimand. Nor is it mockery. Here's why I'm writing to you...

There actually exists the chance that someone else, another living, currently breathing human being who feels so out of options, chances, love and hope is reading this and has danced more than once with the thought of El Gran Adios.

Whether or not we're all in the same club of drink too much/stole too much/got caught/too late, etc matters little. The devil drinks our solitude - especially when it whittles away all traces of connectedness. Exactly what he drank as your truck hit that concrete at a very high speed.

Maybe it is not important for us to know if you were sober when you died. The cinders remaining may only add speculation to the subject and all of it is beside the point.

The numbers of those who love us, who'll stand with us to the end may be miniscule next to those who don't care or worse. It's never as personal as we think it is. Hell, just read Psalms for the most poetic accounting of being besieged by all sides. No other human can say life's not that bad when thoughts of death beckon like a holiday.

Courage is one of those things most of us never really get to wholly test. (The older I get, the happier I am with that statistic.) Until we've faced untold fear down its cold, endless shaft, until we leap right into that thing that scares us, threatens our beloved, hurts our dawg - the list is long, the options many - we won't know our mettle.

I've watched men I thought weak, own up to their sin, do the time and walk a changed path. Then, too, I've seen bastards not get the point, try to blame their own mama and whine like the little piggy going "'Weee, weee, weee' all the way home!"

Most of us probably fall right in the middle.

I'm sorry you didn't see a way out. I'm sorry the world isn't big on the story of the prodigal son. That's a hard one to forgive. Woe be into him/her who is given much and either steals more, causes harm with it or just screws it up. But, honey, every damn one of us has had a glass house at least once in our lives, and it's usually when our fat little fists are chock full of rocks. Life's funny that way.

They say folks love a comeback. Darn it, I'm truly sorry you won't get to feel that particular shock. I'm sorry you can't be the Phoenix I think you were capable of being. This time around.

Sometimes our egos are most dangerous at the bottom, under fire: To be grandiose in failure - yeah, baby, just as epic as the Everests we climb - that may be saddest lie of all. For in the moment we most need to see ourselves as deserving of mercy and understanding, still thinking we're the exception can be, as you know, fatal.

Maybe because we were close in age. Maybe I just saw another scared white person who was caught between a rock and a hard place. But too late.
Maybe mostly because I look in the faces of my sisters' children to remember I matter and besides... What if one of them is looking into their own abyss one day? Maybe, just maybe, fuck ups need to stick around.

Well, after I wrote all this, I pretty much have to sign off with what we often write casually. I'm writing this from my heart of hearts.

Love always,


* we embrace you now


(singing along with Taj Mahal)

"Well I woke up this morning feelin' so good..
You know I lay back down again
Throw yo big leg over me Mama I
Might not feel this good again."

This is the incorrigible, sensual
Cheetah who's just enjoyed a bath from 18 year-old Miss Mitzi. Nonplussed at the prospect of putting his virtual grandmother to work in this fashion, he decided to stretch his leg over the tired out poodle Roger.

I'm sorry the shot isn't that clear: between not wanting to disturb them and trying not to tinkle laughing, it's the best we could do.


When watching someone have not-one-of-their-better-days seems like a fanny shake away from having one ourselves...

When the person next to you seems like he needs a sucker punch even though you're not absolutely sure they're a murdering terrorist or not but probably because a kind of long unexamined rage has been building to a boil in your breast...

And, too, when the person who sucker punches seems like he needs a good old-fashioned speaking...

When we all forget - and we're all bound to, because it's the nature of the skin we wear - that we are a stardust speck of the big precious Entire Shebang to-geth-er...

Then sometimes scrunching our eyes shut tight and seeing this may get us back between the ditches.
Or not. But we're stuck sober and alternative plans always come in handy.

Eddie Haskelle

We were struck by the resemblance between a certain candidate, in his more docile, disingenuous moments - whining about a cancelled rally - and this guy.


Yeah, but an hour later, you're feeling creative again....

A woman in China quit her job to stay home and raise her child.
This was one of the 200+ 'interesting breakfasts' she fixed for her little girl.

To support the premise that anything worth doing is worth doing well, we marvel that one morning meal could ever be tendered in such detail. Maybe this Mom sucked at math homework. Maybe she found a zen path for borderline obsessive tendencies. Maybe she got sick of quail eggs the usual way. We don't care.

We have our own extraordinary and memorable examples of our own Mom showing up above and beyond the suggested requirements of the gig. The fact that there were five of us undoubtedly precluded Martha Stewartish (esque?) crayola du jour mealtimes, but we do recall heart-shaped pancakes. That made us feel all warm and fuzzy for a week. We'd get a kick out of hearing what this kid thinks.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Like a Rolling Stone. Only Not Fast Enough

Steven Nardizzi. Al Giordano.

The head guys who bilked the Wounded Warriors organization and who were both fired today, finally, after years of misappropriating funds.

You are both...
Gone. With. The. Wind.

You'll both probably land on your feet because even for every Martin Shkreli, there are a few people who think their brand of avarice and flagrant abuse of public trust corresponds with profit. And it can and does.

We wanna wag a finger and say, "Shaaaame", with the thickest accent we have.
There is more to it than that. They don't make rehabs for some things, do they?

You found a soft spot in the collective psyche. After Vietnam, we finally stopped demonizing the people who fight the wars. (When humanity will finally get smart enough to penalize the old people who start them is another duck entirely.)

Wounded Warriors, you reckoned. Who wouldn't wanna help?
Now, because of what you've done, there will probably be a big dent in the funding.

Interesting to see if either of you publicity rationalize your actions.
Even more so to see who hires you next.

So at the Colorado conference, they said you rode in on a horse.

Your exit isn't write quite as ceremonious, but we're hearing heroic music just the same.


We recently mentioned 'Ragnarok' by Jorge Luis Borges, recommending it in his book 'Dream Tigers'. Reckon someone thought we were looking for it and sent us this link. Although we have the book itself, we thought we'd pass along this little weird dream of Borges.

Timely? Maybe. Pretend we don't think it has a thing to do with anything, that it's just one of those written works of art that is precisely that because it travels well.

Thanks for obliging us.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Aunt Ann

Our beautiful aunt Ann would've been 70 today. She was the funniest, sweetest person in town. And, as the only sister of either parent, pretty much like buying one Super Lottery ticket and winning the whole shebang.

We miss you and love you. Hugs especially to Alyson and Jason who miss her every day.

Yo. Cool stumble alert.

Like finding an excellent little gallery you never knew was there. Wildly differing works hanging on virtual walls for the proverbial good cause.

Just a thought: Can see this being good revenue model for other charities at local level. Besides, we always liked galas where you don't actually have go - you know. Teetering on mean shoes and smiling while your feet are filling for legal separation.

Just pop some cider at the house and take home something to make your eyes happy all while making a chunk of the planet a little better.

Anyway, this is how they roll it up and make it smoke in San Francisco... Enjoy.

Phase II

Our splendidly, sexy, show-off orchid is apparently going nuts after a long dormant season. We haven't even fed the gal and look at her go...


Wednesday, March 9, 2016


Mr. Will Rogers, we'd sure love to know what you're thinking about everything going on these days, sir.

To paraphrase "Doctor" Kesey, "Sometimes a great nation".

Ray M., in one of our post comments, reminded us of a particular American treasure who was taken too soon a bit over 70 years ago. We submit this brief radio broadcast for anyone interested in plain speak, with a heart of wit and, we think, an extraordinary capacity to connect us. (Of course, he likely wouldn't have had a good run of it during the McCarthy years, when any semblance of Rogers' ideas was rendered suspect.)


In the twinkling of an eye.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

I Am...

Some particular struggles are out of our loop, but because funny travels, may we present We Are Still the World....

About Facebutts on Facebook

People who take the high ground when life hits messy pockets are among our heroes. We may not emulate them as much as we desire, but neither have we failed to note that NONE of them, for so much as an instant, ever stops what they're doing to announce to the rest of us that they're taking the high ground.

They're kind of amazing that way.

The following submission, while falling far short ot that particular 'calling attention to itself' criteria, is nevertheless better than our first impulse which was to go in full evisceration mode. (To wit - This little ditty took about five minutes to write. The zippy retorts with which we were first tempted? They wouldn't have even known what hit them. As such, we liken said act to bragging about beating a Border Collie at Scrabble: No matter how bright the dog, you're an ass for both playing and keeping score.)

The culprits? Too dastardly a description. Let's just say the intended recipients are, happily, but a few pantywaists (snerts) in whom passive aggression has found a full teat to suck.

The following is about that one unpleasant facet of Facebook. To anyone who may rue the fact that we spent any time at all on this: 10-4, good buddy. Loud and clear. Without further ado...

Gentlemen's Agreement: FB Style

Come on in, we warmly bid, and sit with us by the fire.
The rules are sparse, we liked them not, and tossed them on the pyre.

Clubhouse walls invisible, the ether connects us skin schools:
Which is just a term for humans who are sometimes disguised as fools.

What you see and say here, may it lighten or better your load.
But beware the wrath of wounded ones who taunt or meanly goad.

The barrel-chested zombies spewing litanies of all they hate
Run side by side with repeaters who leave borrowed thoughts in their wake.

What can we expect of a club without fees or signs when you come inside
That say you have to be this tall to even get on the damn ride?



If you can see VENUS from where you are, check her out...

She's got on all her shinys stuff on, twitching her tail feathers, too.

We bet NUFORC gets all kinds of reports about her audacious display this evening.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Not. One. Dissenting. Vote.

We fully expect to hear that Alabama Chief Justice Ray Moore exploded in a Rumpelstiltskin impression over this story. That's fairy tale speak for apoplexy.

Y'all. Not. One. Dissenting. Vote.

Round of back flips on us.


This is a very sweet boy and his dog Rex who, as big as he is, has been the only dog this ten year-old boy has ever known for his own. It's getting close to the time to say goodbye to dear Rex and Mr. P wants to savor every moment he can.

It's almost too intimate to post, but if we don't share things like this then, as that ever curious Gauguin fellow might ask, "Who, indeed, are we?"

Thunder Puppeh

Because she was actually IN a funnel cloud, Mama Dog hates lightning.
"Hate" isn't a strong enough word: She's terrified of it. She once scratched through wood, wiring, insulation and halfway through sheetrock to get inside the house when it was storming back in Georgia.

To that end, living in LA has proved a blessing for her because, as the song and drought forecasts say, "It never rains in southern California."

Well, it's not only raining at this very moment, It's lightning up - a storm. Bad timing. The last of the dog tranquilizer, Acepromazine, was used up on the Fourth of July. (Tallulah, who was stone deaf, was the only pup who didn't see what the fuss was about.)

I don't know if this can be called a 'life hack' exactly, but I'm feeling pretty smart: Mama Dog's shaking so badly that I gave her two of her brother Roger's phenobarbital tablets. (For anyone keeping score at home, my boy had a bad couple of seizure episodes, necessitating the daily use of said strong medication.)

No, he's not her actual brother: He's a standard poodle who weighs 70 lbs and she's a big shepherd/husky mix weighing maybe 10 more than that, but they so share my last name. And medicine cabinet.

Which brings me to gratitude. Thunder doesn't thrill me, either, but how fortunate am I to no longer have the desire to WASH DOWN A COUPLE OF BARBS WITH A BEER TIL IT PASSES!?

On second thought, when I was getting loaded, I'm pretty sure I didn't need a special occasion to wash down anything. Lest I sound as if I saved up for legitimate reasons. Breathing was as good as any.

Except for how it's shaking up the beesties, I'm grateful for the reminder thunder brings.

Lemme hear an amen from my "one storm at a timers".


Little Life Hack

The word 'hack' means something completely different to a comedian. Now that it's a synonym for 'helpful tip', looks like we'll have to come up with another word for lowest common denominator of funny.

(Then again, maybe 'mohels' weren't thrilled with 'tip' being used out of context, either.... Howard, that's for you.)

Anyway, here it is...

One night when I was about thirty, I realized I had dozens of books on the topic of meditation and that, despite being familiar with most of them, hadn't actually bothered to begin the practice.

Dr. Herbert Benson shot holes in my bucket of excuses with his book "The Relaxation Response", a bare bones technique just about guaranteed to 'work'.

My only quibble with the results had to do with the fact that I made my initial attempt late at night: The burst of energy I had was sufficient to deep clean the entire apartment. It's for this reason that I recommend trying it earlier in the day.

Btw, I'll assume those of you who are beyond this 101 technique will be too zen to quarrel with its appearance on some random non-enlightened person's blog.

I'm only submitting it in the off-chance that there is one person thinking that meditation requires a complicated ignition process. I was happily dissuaded from that position.

Happy Om-ing

Are you smarter than an atheist?

Unlike many of CSM's news quizzes, this one was really easy. We shouldn't have even missed one.

(The quiz title is, "Are you smarter than an atheist?" We don't know about that, but we would like to take a quiz called, "Are you smarter than an atheist fifth-grader?')

Sunday, March 6, 2016

If she can do it, so can we , dammit.

A long time ago, on an open mic night at a North Carolina comedy club, we watched what appeared to be the world's oldest white woman trying her hand at the craft. We weren't really paying attention as the emcee said her name.

The club owner winced and whispered in our ear, "She's real dirty, Miss Brett." (We told you it was a long time ago.) Of course, we stayed to watch.

After what seemed an eternity, she finally spoke slowly in a thick country accent.

"Ah'm sorry Ah'm late, y'all. Ah seen a sign whilst drivin' here what said, 'Cockfights'."

(Long pause)

"If Ah knowed it was chickens, Ah'd've never pulled over."

Our guffaw rose above the shocked titters in the room. Then, with great exertion, our heroine took a seat on the stool which was next to the the microphone. Her legs splayed, slightly akimbo beneath her flowered dress.

"Y'all forgive me fer settin' down. Whew. Ah jes' paid rent an' Ah'm airin' out the receipt."

We damn near hit the floor laughing. But those few wretched words, instead of endearing her to the crowd, had the antithetical effect: People were actually asking for their tabs and cueing for the door, as if her octogenarian sense of impropriety was a contagion and that, somehow, perhaps by osmosis, they could give it to their own beloved Nana.

We discovered later that we saw one of the earliest performances of Faye Woodruff, AKA Grandma From Hell. We never did see her developed act, but heard she was quite good, with less 'special effects' to represent her as less of fossilizing artifact.

In the school of Moms Mabley, even if we're not quiiiiite as advanced in years as she was playing X-rated sold out shows in Vegas, we're realizing that truth can take its teeth out and still have a hell of a bite.

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