Beholden To All the Stupidity Money Can Buy

 

StateOfTheUnion3obamaNew1bI have no qualms with any of the things Barack Obama had to say in his State of the Union Address–I just don’t see much of it ever coming to pass unless the nation is smart enough to vote out as many Republicans and Teapublicans as possible in the 2014 midterms. I’ll leave analysis of the president’s words to the pundits who’re paid to blather on about such things. But clearly Obama is in an untenable situation dealing with the worst and most dysfunctional congress in living memory.

RandTeapotThe only thing that will ever save the sanity of America will be the total undoing of the Republican Party as it currently defines itself. (Providing they know how they define themselves.) It’s not that there shouldn’t be an opposing party. And it doesn’t matter if the opposing party calls themselves Republicans or some other name–it just doesn’t do anyone any good if the opposing party more accurately resembles an intestinal obstruction than some other more constructive “movement.”

BoehnerGavelAmerica needs jobs. America needs infrastructure repair. We need sensible trade agreements that don’t further injure American workers. We need immigration reform. We need full equitable rights for women and minorities–but none of those things have any place in the fractured Republican agenda. The Republican party is in such a state of chaos that they were unable to present one unified response to Obama’s State of the Union Address. It took four disparate and odd individuals presenting a jumble of exhausted and hollow words that can no longer be categorized as ideas–because the Republican Party has NO IDEAS. I have ONE message to convey in this post–and ONE message alone: Show up at the voting booth in the midterms this year to avoid a repeat of the colossal mess that happened in the 2010 midterms when “stupid” became the new “smart.” If intelligent people do not put our collective interests in the forefront in the next election, this country will never move forward, and we will devolve into a second rate world power beholden to all the stupidity money can buy.

– Disassociated Press, 2/29/2014

Cabin Fever and the Olympic Winter Doldrums

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The pediment above my front door.

The pediment above my front door.

I’ve lived through many a harsh winter and I don’t normally complain about it. But I’m disliking this winter with a passion. (Note to self: We’re barely one third of the way through.) The harshest winters I’ve ever known were when I lived in Upstate New York off Lake Ontario. The difference is, they know how to deal with ice and snow up in that part of the country–you have to in order to survive. But I’m living in Philadelphia now where the mere threat of flurries can bring the entire city to a grinding halt, schools and city offices close and trash pick-up is prematurely cancelled. Snow removal in Philly is a bunch of dumb-asses driving around salting the earth prior to the storm and then ignoring the ensuing slush and drifts that eventually turn into dangerous glare ice. They don’t quite get it in this town.

A view of my backyard.

A view of my backyard.

Philadelphia isn’t accustomed to brutally cold storms, and I have a lovely purple hematoma on my right hip to prove it. Winnie was pulling to sniff at an all-important patch of yellow snow while I was trying to keep my balance on an icy stretch of neglected sidewalk, when just the slightest tug from her on the leash was enough to topple me to the ground. Winnie is definitely a Philadelphia dog. She doesn’t care to do her business outside when the temperatures are this far below freezing, so she’s taken to leaving me little surprises all around the house. Winnie has never been the best behaved dog I’ve ever had. Don’t get me wrong, I love her to pieces, but she’s a complete catastrophe. In fact she’s a little like living with the young Helen Keller, only Winnie can both see and hear–she just isn’t receptive to training. The entire world is her toilet. And if I turn my back on my dinner, she’ll jump up on the dining table and polish-off my food in the blink of an eye. No disrespect meant by the way to the late Ms. Keller. She was much more easily housebroken.

YOGA-COFFEEAs if the ice and snow weren’t enough, we have the Winter Olympics in Russia to help keep us warm. Truth to tell I’m so done with cold weather that there’s nothing remotely appealing about watching snow sports. What could be more entertaining than sitting slack-jawed in front of the television watching Olympiads “hurling” a ten ton brick of Haggis around with ice brooms? Clearly, the real story on the upcoming Olympics will be the blatant human rights violations and anti-gay bigotry being fostered by Russia’s top closet queen, Vladimir Putin. Buck-up, because winter isn’t going away for another two months or more, and unfortunately Vladimir Putin isn’t going anywhere either. So we all might as well slip some vodka in our mugs of hot coco and pass out in front of the boob-tube while the Winter Olympics bore us to death. (Or is that Boris to death?)

Disassociated Press, 1/27/2014

Christie Kreme is the Only One Swallowing the Bridge Traffic Survey Story

Christie KremeChris-Christie8Chris Christie is the only one buying the bridge traffic survey story, (but is he really?). For a blustering bully who doesn’t mind denigrating anyone publicly–and has a reputation for micromanagement, it’s difficult to swallow the idea that the governor of New Jersey had no idea about the origins of the bridge traffic scandal that looks suspiciously like political payback to his non-supporters.

Trans Hudson TunnelOne would think that an astute politician like Chris Christie “might” be smart enough to avoid this kind of scandal in the first place–but power does stupid things to otherwise smart people. I’ve never trusted Christie. And while I applauded his performance following Hurricane Sandy, the vast majority of his other managerial decisions have been (in my opinion) suspect. From failures to take sorely needed Federal money for everything from construction job projects to education funding, this is a man who has very odd priorities. Hurricane Sandy however served as a very useful political distraction technique for a man with a particular gift for alienating people.

0129-Chris-ChristieAll that aside, it’s more than suspicious when a control freak like Governor Christie has no idea what his top aides and government appointees are up to. Point of fact it doesn’t add up–either he’s lying and trying to tap dance his way through a cover-up–or he’s incompetent when it comes to selecting and managing his staff. Neither are particularly flattering scenarios.

FatChristieDuring Christie’s marathon press conference where he wore-down the press until no one else had any questions, I had the uncomfortable feeling that “the lady doth protest too much.” I did on the other hand notice that he’d lost weight. The true test of whether or not he’s lying will come if we see him gain it all back again. That’s when you’ll know how much this story has damaged his credibility and his chances of being the GOP presidential candidate in 2016. New Jersey politics, like politics in general, are a corrupt and constipated mess. And Chris Christie, like almost all other politicians has an enormous appetite for power and control. Generally speaking, seeking excessive power and control is the first warning sign of a megalomaniac with a gigantic personality disorder. What was particularly interesting, was watching recently “resigned” Christie appointee, David Wildstein repeatedly pleading the fifth on seemingly softball questions like “where were you most recently employed.” It’ll be interesting to see how Christie (ahem) chokes back this bridge too far.

– Disassociated Press, 1/10/2014

Vladimir Putin Declared 2013’s International Closet Queen Award–WinnieToons Year End Review

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin riIn 2013 Vladimir Putin set back human rights by decades when he instituted anti-gay laws in Russia that have resulted in LGBT people becoming the victims of increased violence and hate crimes. Apparently Vlad is trying to garner approval with the Russian Orthodox Church by taking a page of out the Fascist German handbook. Fools are now spray-painting tags on the homes of gay Russians much the same way Nazi’s put anti-Jewish graffiti on the homes of Jews in the days leading up to World War II. Meanwhile Putin doesn’t see anything even slightly gay about his forever running around posing shirtless.

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Antonin Scalia delivered his descent and disapproval of the Supreme Court upholding gay marriage and striking down California’s Prop 8. He’s under the confused illusion that he’s doing his job.

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In 2013, Congress got even less done than previous years–which is almost impossible to wrap one’s mind around. Out of 365 days in a year, Congress only put in 126 “work” days if you want to kid yourself into believeing they work at all–proving if you want a job where you get paid a huge salary for being consistently wrong, you either have to go into meteorology or run for Congress.

A WayneLapierreSkeetLauncher

Mass gun violence and murders became more and more commonplace in 2013. Over 10,000 people died in 2013 from gun related violence since the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December of 2012–and Congress does nothing (but pander to the NRA).

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We get to say goodbye to Michele Bachmann as she steps down as the US Representative from Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District in an atmosphere of campaign fraud and corruption. Saints be praised.

Closed Nationa Parks

The Pee Tardy–or Tea Party if you prefer brought the government to the brink of default repeatedly for shits and giggles.

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Rafael Edwardo Cruz turned his back on his Hispanic heritage while continuing to block all government business merely to raise his own profile–including blocking immigration reform.

CWinnie&DuckExplain football

Well DUH…!!! It turns out that medical research in 2013 proved that repeated concussions endured by professional football players results in increased violence in their personal lives and even suicide.

So even as football has proven to be the sport of choice for people who enjoy watching other people incur brain injuries--the football coaches took the top spot for the highest paid public sector employees.

So even as football has proven to be the sport of choice for people who enjoy watching other people incur brain injuries–football coaches took the top ranking spot for the nation’s highest paid public sector employees.

DarrylIssaBiblicaDisgrace

The most corrupt career politician in the House of Representatives tried tirelessly to fabricate scandals in an attempt to tarnish the Obama Administration and the Affordable Healthcare Act (among other issues). He couldn’t be more unpatriotic if he was a paid plant taking orders from al-Qa’ida.

To reiterate, hateful is as hateful does. Darrel Issa tried to blame the 'Fast and Furious guns and drugs scandal on Attorney General Eric Holder. But it turned out it was Holder himself who exposed and busted the scandalous Bush era program.

To reiterate, hateful is as hateful does. Darrel Issa tried to blame the ‘Fast and Furious guns and drugs scandal on Attorney General Eric Holder. But it turned out it was Holder himself who exposed and busted the scandalous Bush era program.

DrunkSexting

Anthony Weiner (A.K.A “Carlos Danger”) made a failed bid to be New York City’s mayor while continuing to “sext.”

Duck In Memorium

The real Duck D. Duck (on whom the character in this blog is based) passed away of natural causes. She will be missed, but she will live on in WinnieToons.

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Seventeen states plus the District of Columbia now recognize gay marriage, and legally married LGBT people can take full advantage of their marital status when filing in 2014 for 2013’s taxes–but that still leaves thirty-three states where gay marriage is illegal on the state level.

DuckMiddelton

A new British royal was born. Now will everyone leave them alone. Please.

FirstTimeAtChristianMingle

There remain people out there who believe in the myth of ‘Creationism’ and their claim that dinosaurs and man once lived together in harmony. Meanwhile those same folks are blissfully unaware of how climate change continues to be exacerbated by corporations–and the politicians who they keep in their corporate pockets. It was 72 degrees here in Philadelphia on December 21st, five days before the official start of winter. But man and dinosaur were once chummy. Yeah, right.

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The nitwits in the Tea Party along with other extreme conservatives keep trying to further crash the economy. A two year budget was reached that no one likes–especially the people who will now go hungry while the rich get richer.

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No one had any money in 2013 except for the top 2%. Even as the stock market soars, none of that wealth “tinkles down” to the average American.

PopeGivesUp Papacy4Lent

We will all miss Pope Benny’s delightful antics–from sexual abuse scandal cover-ups to shady financial dealings with the Cosa Nostra. But he did know how to wear clothes.

Fried brains

The faithful elected a new Pope. As Popes go, he’s kinda groovy.

GassyDog&Duck

Bashar Hafez al-Assad, President of Syria, exterminated thousands of his own people with sarin gas attacks. President Obama played him like a violin–(in the face of conservative criticism) and that situation is now vastly improved, but Assad has still got to go.

Zimmerman in Jeopardy

George Zimmerman couldn’t stand being out of the spotlight or out of trouble, so after getting away with murdering sixteen year old, innocent Trayvon Martin–Zimmerman proceeded to have multiple arrests including more domestic violence charges. his gun was FINALLY taken away. What a macaroon.

letsTalk aboutRace

Race and ethnic diversity continued to be a sore spot in America in 2013 from “stand your ground” laws to whether or not Santa Clause can (or might be) black. America needs to grow up.

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Kim Jong Un, proving that rotten apples don’t fall far from the tree, executed a number of failed nuclear bomb tests. He also executed his own uncle on trumped-up charges–shortly after executing his wife and some of her associates for an alleged pornography ring. Whatever. He should marry Dennis Rodman, whe looks great in a wedding gown.

Rand Paul

Rand Paul saw an old Jimmy Stewart movie, and it gave him “wind.” A long wind to be precise. Idiot that he is, at least he drew attention to the moral issue of drone strikes. Now we’re expected to get our online Amazon purchases delivered by drones. Perfect–let’s put even more people out of work. Sigh….

Obama responsibility

The Affordable Healthcare Act was launched with what can only be described as a thud of confusion–but alas, I am finally enrolled in a healthcare exchange after going for a prolonged period without coverage. So I’m happy.

OutFest

LGBT rights were a reoccurring theme in 2013. LEBT people are all colors, all faiths and all nationalities. The LGBT community holds the undisputed title of being the worlds longest continually persecuted minority. And put your shirt back on Putin.

Talk to the hand Cruz

Since everyone saw “Mister Smith Goes to Washington” this year on NetFlicks–Rafael Edwardo Cruz held a “faux” filibuster by reading Dr. Seuss to the cameras well into the evening–proving nothing.

Tampons away

In 2013 Wendy Davis held a REAL filibuster over women’s reproductive rights in the Texas assembly. If Texas is smart, she’ll be their next governor.

Wendy Davis brought a breath of fresh air to Texas in the form of common sense.

Wendy Davis brought a breath of fresh air to Texas in the form of common sense.

Detroit went bankrupt in 2013, and all of Michigan has been stolen by Governor Rick Snyder.

Detroit went bankrupt in 2013, and all of Michigan has been stolen by Governor Rick Snyder.

New Jersey Governonr Chris Christie had his stomach stapled, which must mean he's running for president in 2016 if local Jersey political scandals don't get him first.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had his stomach stapled, which must mean he’s running for president in 2016–that is if local Jersey political scandals don’t get him first.

"The Donald" faces hefty fines and legal action from the State of New York for a bogus university to which he lent his name as part of a scam to part the foolish from their money. Graduates got to pose for a photo-op with a cardboard cutout of the megalomaniac himself.

“The Donald” faced hefty fines in 2013 and legal action from the State of New York over a bogus university to which he lent his name as part of a scam to part the foolish from their money. Graduates got to pose for a photo-op with a cardboard cutout of the megalomaniac himself.

Privacy was officially declared dead in 2013. Although privacy had actually died years earlier, it wasn't until Edward Snowden "outed" the NSA that it became official. He's living now in Russia where freedom and privacy are merely abstract concepts.

Privacy was officially declared dead in 2013. Although privacy had actually died years earlier, it wasn’t until Edward Snowden “outed” the NSA that it became official. He’s living now in Russia where freedom and privacy are merely abstract concepts.

The world lost a towering and inspirational figure when Nelson Mandela passed away--but all Fox News could focus on was a harmless handshake between Barack Obama and Cuban president, Raul Castro. It's about priorities folks. It's about priorities.

The world lost a towering and inspirational figure when Nelson Mandela passed away–but all Fox News could focus on was a harmless handshake between Barack Obama and Cuban president, Raul Castro. It’s about priorities folks. It’s about priorities.

Adding insult to injury, while the world grieved the loss of Nelson Mandela, a schizophrenic pretended to be a sign language interpreter standing only a matter of feet away from the most important international heads of state. If you hadn't already guessed--he wasn't signing anything anyone could understand.

Adding insult to injury, while the world grieved the loss of Nelson Mandela, a schizophrenic man pretended to be a sign language interpreter–standing only a matter of feet away from the most important international heads of state. If you hadn’t already guessed–he wasn’t signing anything anyone could understand.

For some mysterious reason, Zsa Zsa Gabor is still alive--and Dick Cheney cost taxpayers billions of dollars to be kept artificially alive until the heart of a suitable victim could be located. Talk about a plumb healthcare exchange. And yes, only the good die young.

For some mysterious reason, Zsa Zsa Gabor is still alive. And Dick Cheney cost American taxpayers billions of dollars to be kept artificially alive until the heart of a suitable victim could be located and installed behind his breastbone. Talk about a plumb healthcare exchange. And yes, only the good die young.

As we bid 2013 a fond but bewilder goodbye--Winnie and Duck have every confidence that 2014 will be every bit as fucked up. And the world goes 'round and 'round....

As we bid 2013 a fond but bewildered goodbye–Winnie and Duck have every confidence that 2014 will be every bit as f**ked up. And the world goes ’round and ’round and ’round….

– Disassociated Press. 12/25/2013

The Year Christmas Trees Could Fly

TheYearChristmasTressCouldFlyThe Year Christmas Trees Could Fly © WTW 2011

by William Whiting

north-pole-firI received a text on Christmas morning from my old friend Robert that read: “Enjoy your traditional Christmas tree toss.” 

Robert is one of those unforgettable people from my past who has an embarrassment of ‘dish’ about my personal history. I had to stop and think for a minute what the hell was he was talking about, when it struck me… Robert was referring to an incident from days gone-by, and I couldn’t help but let loose a belly laugh. Reflecting on that long forgotten ‘fluster cluck‘ it seemed anything but funny at the time—at least not to me—but some situations require the passage of time to fully ripen the bouquet of their absurdity.

There used to be a singing pretty-boy here in Philadelphia who I never took much notice-of. He was blond and much prettier than a man should ever be. His hair was APRH8Ythinning but he went to great lengths to try and disguise the fact, but while I knew him he was still getting away with an undetectable comb-over. I knew the fellow to say ‘hello’ but I didn’t know him well.

One happy hour at Woody’s Bar, the pretty-man, Calvin Quinn, clearly a cocktail or two over his limit, started to hang all over me making it abundantly clear he had placed me in his cross-hairs. It was a week or so before Halloween, and I was only out for a drink not necessarily looking to hook-up—but if cheap, easy sex was landing right there in my lap, I figured why not go for it? He wasn’t my type, but after a few cocktails in bar-light it’s surprising what becomes my type.

iLipsinkaEven though I didn’t know all that much about Calvin, he nevertheless joined Robert, my old friend Joe and me in an unexplainable Halloween group-costume as trashy showgirls running in and out of a series of parties and bars. Robert being the sexiest of us had his costume half-off midway through the evening advertising his gym-toned physique and drunkenly begging men to push him up a jukebox. The evening ended with Robert and Joe sharing or rather fighting-over an inebriated stud-muffin while Calvin came back to my house to scrub-off our make-up.

In no time at all, Calvin and I had become to my surprise—no—make that my dismay, a budding romantic “couple.” We went to my place regularly and did what passed for the wild-thing. He was very pretty, but pretty men have never been my preference. He was too pink and rosy—too soft like an inflated Playtex rubber glove. And his eyes when he drank, took-on the bloodshot look of a laboratory rat. But everyone raved about how ‘adorable’ he was, and so I started to believe what other people were telling me rather than listening to my own instincts and preferences. That said, I try to keep an open mind about people, and in those days I was often guilty of compromising my standards when it came to getting laid.

EPSON MFP imageCalvin was very full of himself, basking in self-importance, fancying himself as having a certain local celebrity-status if only in his own mind. He was an actor, model and song-stylist—gay chanteuse is a more accurate description. For Calvin, having an unconventional artist-boyfriend both complimented his self-image and his outfits. Like most of my relationships, this one wasn’t well thought out. None of them have been.

I meet a guy at a bar, have a drink, bed him, and the next thing I know, I’m the other half of an “item.” At least I didn’t allow this dude to move in with me. Calvin had a roommate, which made him self-conscious about doing the deed at his own apartment. He also had two spiteful little designer terriers who took an immediate dislike to my gentle little mutt named Buddy.

Did I say Calvin didn’t move in with me?  Well that’s not entirely true.

EPSON MFP imageWithin days he had a key, toothbrush, contact solution, and various items of clothing strewn all over my house, not to mention those evil little devil-dogs, who were forever tormenting my sweet little dog, Buddy. Calvin started foisting-off his demon-dogs on me because he was always too lazy, too busy or too hung-over to walk them. I could walk those spiteful little monsters to Montreal and back, and they’d still piss all over my sofa or crap on my bedspread as soon as we got back to my house. “Cute” as they were, they’d be looking me right in the eye, wagging their little tails as dark pools of liquid spread beneath them on my living room upholstery. Because they were nasty little things, I had to separate them from my own little junkyard mutt for his own safety. Buddy was far better behaved with an infinitely better disposition, and I didn’t like him being attacked by those monsters.

3It was early October when Calvin’s and my “relationship” took-hold—and no sooner had Halloween melded into Thanksgiving, than it was quickly becoming apparent that it was too late to break-up with him before Christmas. I was allowing myself to be led, for which I have only myself to blame. Through a misplaced sense of honor I had convinced myself I was going to have to endure this emotional mistake right through the holidays, and figure out how to set myself free at a later date. I considered it poor-form to break-up with anyone right before Christmas. I pride myself on not being like other guys—I attempt to be honorable, or at least I try. Not a wise strategy when you’re the only one playing by antiquated Victorian rules of etiquette.

EPSON MFP imageAs the holiday season progressed Calvin would be at a theater somewhere playing the straight male ingénue in a local musical production, or taking gigs in cabaret theater which was enjoying a resurgence in certain circles.  To his own group of friends, musical theater was akin to religious faith, and everyone HAD to go to New York to see the latest Broadway production of whatever current show was the talk of the town (whether they could afford to go or not). Fashion and style were tantamount to social worth; both being subjects under normal circumstances I’d find entirely off-putting. But like a man who’d boarded the wrong express train, I was in a relationship and clueless as to how I might honorably jump-off that train without getting a concussion. I also freely admit to being nothing short of a coward when it comes to hurting other people’s feelings.

Stage Cornice2I should have been clued-in when it became clear that Calvin didn’t really like having sex. He just liked having me play the role of ‘boyfriend.’ We’d start doing the deed, and then he’d suddenly feign exhaustion or worse—take a phone call from another theater-queen and yack-away about whomever was currently rumored to be replacing Patti LuPone in ‘Evita.’ I’d be sound asleep by the time one of his theater phone calls were over. I was occupying the placeholder-spot as the ‘boyfriend,’ and there are very few benefits to being cast in that kind of role. Still, I felt it was only polite to wait until after the holidays to bring this travesty to its logical conclusion. I’m such a wimp.

On Calvin’s non-theater performing evenings I’d be dragged off to parties held by a friend of his: a wealthy, local, eccentric dentist who surrounded himself with musical theater people. Everyone was totally fake, giving each other air-kisses and swooning over how FAB-U-LOUS each other looked in that color, that hat, that outfit, that new hairstyle…  It was ‘dahling’ this and ‘dahling’ that…

EPSON MFP imageThe circle of women in Calvin’s cadre of theatrical devotees swore undying love to him, making bulging botoxed ‘kissie-lips’ at him. Everyone one of their faces were shoveled full of make-up applied to skin snapped-back so tight by plastic surgeons, their smiles exposed involuntary grins full of capped and bleached teeth—probably the work of the singing dentist. Everyone’s eyebrows (including the men) had that look of eminent surprise, penciled-on a bit too high or merely displaced by the surgeons knife in an effort to keep everyone looking smooth and young—or at least looking young enough to fool themselves.

121119044835-obeidallah-twinkie-pack-story-topThe men (if that’s what you wanted to call them) tended to be on the younger side, lean and dressed to accentuate their round, dancing musical theater bubble-butts, all of which were poured tightly into tailored pants. As the observer, I found myself the unintentional witness to a subculture I didn’t think existed outside of vintage movie musicals. I was completely out of my element.

The gay dentist’s dinner parties were among the most peculiar spectacles I’d ever witnessed. People didn’t gather around a normal dining table in his posh Society Hill townhouse, but rather everyone was seated at separate tables designed to accommodate two to four people while waiters brought in drinks and food. A professional pianist would be playing Cole Porter or Gershwin when our dental-host would pick-up a microphone and begin to sing in a less than professionally trained voice that loosened the fillings in my teeth. Perhaps that was how he drummed-up business…?

gg61590417Your first time dining at the good dentist’s home was always the most traumatic. Just as you put a forkful of food in your mouth, a spotlight would be aimed your direction, blinding you as if you were about to be abducted by a Stephen Spielberg spaceship. Seasoned guests acted like all this was all perfectly normal as our host would start scat-singing “Tonight-a we, doobbley-doo-ba delight in-a-in-a wel-com-ing-doo-wah our newest guest, Beihl-a Beihl-a BEIHL – a skooby do wha-pow!”

What just happened? I thought to myself as food drizzled down my chin, my mouth having fallen open in shock.

PIANO DUET CONCERTSOur host continued with microphone still in hand… “Beihl, Calvin tells us you play a little piano.” I furiously shook my head in a gesture indicating NO-WAY trying not to choke myself to death on what I hadn’t yet swallowed. Suddenly there was a thunder of applause as I felt my elbow being lifted urging me toward the keyboard. I used to play a little piano, but I was never what you’d call “good.” And it had been years since I’d sat down in front of the ivories to try and hammer out a tune. But the applause didn’t abate… In a dream-like state of hallucination, I found myself scared-shitless, sitting in front of a keyboard, which had been surrendered to me by the professional pianist. Wanting to bring this embarrassment to an end as soon as possible, I trans-channeled my inner Victor Borge and played an off-key version of “Peg ‘O My Heart” intentionally played in two conflicting, dissonant key-signatures creating a musical effect that could make dogs howl and mirrors shatter. I thought it was funny.

images I received a polite smattering of bewildered applause and floated back to my table confident nothing of the sort would ever happen to me again. It was like an out-of-body experience. I have no idea how I returned to my table.  Calvin was staring at me with stern face. “You can actually play, Beihl, why the hell did you do something like that? You’ve totally embarrassed me in front of all my friends.”

Defending myself, I replied, “Because I don’t like being put on the spot, and I’m NOT a professional musician.” He gave me a condescending pat on my hand and reassured me some of the dinner guests might have realized I was trying to be funny—but performing at the singing dentist’s house was serious business for Calvin.

spotlightNo sooner had I settled back to eating my meal than another blinding spotlight hit our table. The singing dentist with mike-in-hand encouraged more applause coaxing Calvin up onto the stage while I was left wondering what kind of person installs a stage with theatrical lighting in their split-level dining room.

Up Calvin sprang, jumping onto the stage and grabbing the mike like a seasoned-pro. He whispered a word or two to the pianist, and then speaking into the mike said, “I’d like to dedicate this song to my new boyfriend, Beihl.” With that, another spotlight with a blue-filter blinded me in an otherworldly hue while I was trying to inconspicuously chew and swallow my food. Calvin launched into a reasonably competent medley of sappy romantic ballads while I sat there stricken with a mouthful of dinner unable to swallow feeling as if all eyes were upon me as he warbled away…

“Embrace me, my sweet embraceable you
Embrace me, you irreplaceable you
just one look at you my heart grew tipsy in me
You and you alone bring out the gypsy in me…”

What the fuck is he singing about? He hadn’t put out in over a week, let alone like a gypsy. I was considering crawling under the skirted table until this ungodly humiliation was over. It was bad enough he was giving me blue-balls in our private life, but why in the world was he broadcasting his supposed passion for me to the entire room like we were in a serious relationship?

After the dinner party, things were a little bit tense between us, but Calvin said he wanted to make-it-up to me. “Let’s go back to my apartment tonight, we can get the dogs and it’ll be a different setting—a change of pace.”  

Stopping back at my house, Calvin’s awful little dogs were merrily pulling the stuffing out of my sofa while my poor dog, Buddy sat there with his ears down, doing his best canine impersonation of innocence. It wasn’t necessary. I KNEW which dogs were the culprits. “Don’t they look cute?” Calvin said. “That piece needed reupholstering any way.” And off we went to Calvin’s apartment on the other side of town with me thinking to myself: “Why am I allowing this relationship to continue?” Then recalling it was almost Christmas, and it’s really poor form to break-off a relationship right before the holidays.

Stage Cornice3At Calvin’s apartment we finally did the deed, with him making an unusually dramatic series of erotic noises, clearly disturbing the roommate he’d feigned not wanting to disturb. His moans and outcries in the name of “Oh God, OH GOD, OH GOD!seemed a little too theatrical to me. Yeah, it was sex, and yeah, sex is fun, but is it necessary to broadcast to the entire apartment building what we were up to? I wasn’t aware of it at the time, but I later learned Calvin’s roommate wasn’t just a roommate, but was rather his ex-lover with whom he was still living with out of financial necessity. The moans were less about MY performance and more intended for the sadistic audience-appreciation of his ex-lover’s ears—but I wasn’t clued-in at the time. I’ve since made it a rule never to date theater queens. You never know when they’re play-acting or acting for real—if ‘real’ is even in their repertoire.

So it came as no surprise when Calvin’s ex-lover made a scene at the breakfast table the following morning, insisting that Calvin be “OUT OF THIS GODDAMN FUCKING APARTMENT BY THE END OF THE WEEK.” And no, I did NOT offer to let him to move-in with me. I was gonna dodge that bullet at all costs. There was however, a little apartment around the corner from me that was immediately available, so I went from boyfriend to furniture-mover, to wall-painter and back to dog-sitter all in the course of one hectic week. Against my better judgment, we had keys to each other’s places so the demon dogs could be dropped off if he had a late curtain as Christmas crept closer and closer.

I did a sketch of his awful little dogs and framed it. That should be sufficient I thought, and placed it gift-wrapped under the Christmas tree in Calvin’s apartment. The same Christmas tree that I’d had to carry on my back, saw-off the trunk to level-it-up and set into the base without much useful assistance. The same tree I’d had to string full of lights and prune to Stage Cornice4perfection so the shape would be ideal to feature Calvin’s prized collection of antique mercury-glass ornaments and old-fashioned strings of red and gold beads. After vacuuming-up the excess pine needles, I said to Calvin, “Let’s get naked.”

His reply floored me:

“I’ve been meaning to talk to you about that Beihl. I don’t want to make love again until you tell me you love me.”

“Say WHAT…?!!!” I replied. “I didn’t have to tell you I loved you the night we met at Woody’s. I didn’t have to tell you I loved you when you were torturing your ex-lover/roommate—besides, we’ve only known each other two and half months.” Love is a serious topic, and I knew full well I was only putting-up with this bogus relationship out of cowardice and sexual convenience, which wasn’t working out all that well for me. Besides, if he wanted ME to tell HIM I loved him, why wasn’t he initiating the subject by telling ME he loved ME? It was two days away from Christmas Eve, and my plan was to regroup my thinking and decide whether to break-it-off after Christmas or wait until after New Year’s Eve. In all honesty, I wanted a ‘friends-with-benefits’ arrangement, not a “serious” Hollywood romance.

10We had a quarrelsome non-argument, where I was preached-to about the true meaning of commitment and how the holidays were the perfect time to commit to a deeper sort of love. I admit to cowardice of the first order, but I’ll only admit to being just so much of a fool and nothing more. I was not about to tell anyone I was in love when I wasn’t. I was, however, cowed into putting on a jacket and tie and further cajoled into attending another musical extravaganza Christmas dinner-party at the singing dentist’s house. The discussion about love was temporarily shelved.

In no time at all, I was back in that surreal theater-set dining room. I even acquiesced to sitting down at the piano and playing a little rendition of ‘When Sunny Gets Blue.’ I’d made it a point to never learn any Christmas carols. I can’t think of a single Christmas carol I genuinely like. Christmas carols get inside your head like an ear-wick rotting your brains and never giving you peace, forcing you to hear passages playing over and over again in spotlightyour head. When I finished my number, a portly woman wearing fashions she couldn’t logistically carry-off, leaned into the piano and said: “Do you know ‘What I Did For Love?’” All I could say was, “Madam, I shudder to think.” And I headed back to my cabaret table.

No sooner was I seated than those damned blinding spotlights were on us again. It was like having dinner while being the subject of a police air search. Tonight’s lights were a triad of rotating red, white and green snowflakes piercing their extraterrestrial beam directly at our table. The singing dentist with microphone in hand singing “That big, fat man is a comin’–yes that big, fat man is comin’–comin’–comin’ to to-o-o-wn.” After a polite pattering of applause, the dentist announced “We have a special surprise tonight, Calvin Quinn and Philadelphia musical new-comer, Bobby LaCroix are going to treat us with a duet of ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside.’

Applause. Applause. Applause.

Calvin and some perfect stranger both hopped-up on stage while a lighting-effect snowfall served as a backdrop. On the count of three, two pretty boys sharing one mike started singing with piano accompaniment.

I really I cant stay
(but baby its cold outside)
I’ve got to go away
(but baby its cold outside)
this evening has been sooo ver-ry nice
(I’ll hold your hands there just like ice…)

The singing dentist sauntered over to my table and sat down in Calvin’s chair.  “Calvin tells me you two are falling in love.” I choked at the sheer in-artful surprise of his comment. “Love is a very serious subject,” I replied,  “not to be taken lightly.” Calvin and Bobby LaCroix warbled-away in the background…

my mother will start to worry!
(beautiful what’s your hurry?)
and father will be pacing with fury
(listen to that fireplace roar)
so really I’d better scurry!
(beautiful please don’t hurry)
well maybe just a half a drink more
(put some records on while I pour…)

Having had several single-malt Scotches, I asked the well-meaning singing dentist, “What do you see in all these people?” Feeling bold, I continued, “They invade your house and take your hospitality for granted, and I can’t imagine that a single one of them so much as rca-victor-nipper-dog-logo-large-mousepad-rare-93debsends you a thank-you note.”  He gave me that RCA Victor dog look, so I went on: “Hey, it’s none of my business,” I said “but it looks to me like you spend a small fortune on these dinner parties, and I can’t help but wonder if you’re not buying yourself a house full of shallow friendships.”

“I am,” he told me, “I have fantasy friends where I can create a moment in time where all of life seems just like the old supper clubs of days gone by.”

“Are you happy?” I asked him. “No,” he answered, “are you?” He stood-up, smiled and greeted another guest. By this time Calvin and Bobby were winding-up with a big finish demonstrating the chemistry of their stage presence bringin’ it home in perfect 2-part harmony:

“But baby it’s COLD OUTSIDE.”

Calvin bounced back to our table.  “Honey, you really don’t look like you’re having a very good time. Do you feel OK?”“I’m fine.” I answered, but Calvin continued, “You really don’t have to stay. I know you don’t quite ‘get’ this crowd of people. If you want to go home and walk the dogs, I’ll understand, and we’ll make love in the morning, I promise.”

“Bobby LaCroix is really very good.” I added carefully watching his reaction. “And very cute, but how old is he?”  

“He’s a sweetheart,” Calvin answered. “He’s just a baby starting college at Curtis Institute. He’ll be 18 on January 15th.”

“I thought he seemed a little too young for this jaded hen-house full of musical comedy wannabees.” 

“Don’t be mean, Beihl, it’s only the Scotch talking. Really go ahead and take the dogs out, and I’ll let you do anything you want to do to me in the morning.” Immediately my mind snapped into high gear: That motherfucker has already lined-up a trick for the evening, and he’s trying to gracefully get rid of me while keeping me on a tight leash.

snow-white-sketchI went home, walked all 3 dogs and counted to one hundred. I then made my way over to Calvin’s place. The apartment where I’d moved-in all the furniture, painted all the walls and even installed his all-too-perfect Christmas tree. I had the presence of mind to bring his idiotic ill-behaved little monster dogs with me and leave Buddy home. As soon as I turned the key in the tumbler, I heard soft music playing in the background with only the romantic colorful glow from the Christmas tree illuminating his tiny efficiency apartment. Right away I saw what was undeniably two male figures trying to hold perfectly still paralyzed under the covers of Calvin’s bed—with one pair of size 12 feet attempting to curl their way under the covers so as to become invisible. I turned-up the dimmer on the overhead light to full blast so the room was only slightly less glaring than the dentist’s spotlights. “Honey, I can explain…” I heard Calvin say standing-up bare-ass naked as I picked-up Calvin’s Christmas tree, still plugged-in and covered with antique Victorian mercury-glass ornaments and threw it across the room at him with all my might. The other little queen hid under the covers with his shrinking hard-on collapsing like a little wilting tent under the quilt.

EPSON MFP imageWith veins standing out on my forehead I hollered at the top of my lungs: “Calvin, you are a badly-balding, former pretty-boy with no dick, no morals and no future. AND you’re certainly no one I could ever love.”  With that I took-away my house keys from his hall table, and left him stranded, stark naked and bare foot in the middle of a floor scattered with shards of broken mercury-glass as his own little soldier went from full-attention to “at ease.” I slammed the door, spun on my heels and stomped my way home curiously satisfied with myself.

So I broke-up with Calvin before Christmas after all, and while it was more dramatic than I’d pictured, it was also much easier than I though it would be.

92-230x300By that point it was almost 2AM, so I ran all the way to the Trocadero nightclub on Arch Street where my friend Robert was working as a go-go dancer. I had to tell SOMEONE what had just happened. When I told Robert I’d just thrown a fully decorated, electrified Christmas tree at Calvin, Robert sat down in his jockstrap and laughed out loud. At the time I didn’t entirely see the humor in the situation, but the harder he laughed the more I laughed.

I was free.

I went home and spent the rest of the night, and well into the morning making hand-tinted Victorian Christmas ornaments out of Xeroxes of deranged 19th century paper engravings EPSON MFP imagedepicting children frozen to death in snow banks or eating out of dog bowls or facing other Dickensian perils. My holiday gifts definitely reflected my mood that year. I gave everyone a perverted Christmas tree ornament, macabre and dark, but darkly humorous at the same time. I didn’t have anything close to a broken heart, but I did have wounded pride for being such a trusting fool by not having ended that annoying relationship sooner.

8About a year and a half later, I got a call from Robert. He and a couple of friends stopped into a gay bar advertising live music on the 2nd floor. They went-up stairs to have a drink and there was Calvin Quinn singing an “Evening of Rodgers and Hart,” when he ad-libbed in scatter-song as the new audience members found seats “I-a spy-a shoobidie doo-boop a-group of old friends comin’-in for a drink – Scattley-a dang-pow. Are there any song-requests from the audience?” he crooned, when Robert chimed-up in a voice no one could possibly miss, “Can you sing ‘Oh Christmas Tree’?” Robert’s group left doubled-over with wicked laughter, leaving Calvin standing metaphorically once again naked and barefoot on a stage full of imaginary broken mercury-glass ornaments and his little soldier no doubt shrinking in his trousers.

Flash forward: I never became a famous artist. Robert works in hotel management somewhere down south. Calvin’s dreams dissolved into retail jewelry sales and a string of failed attempts at landing a rich lover. And the singing dentist took out a loan with organized crime to open a nightclub that tanked, sadly he tanked too—as the subject of a notorious unsolved Philadelphia murder. Maybe they were music lovers, but he certainly didn’t deserve what happened to him no matter how awful his singing. At least he left the north-pole-firworld stage with the caché of his being the subject of speculation in an unsolved murder mystery everyone still talks about to this day. The singing dentist left all his earthly belongings to a one-night stand, go figure… I bet Calvin was kicking himself for not having had himself made the beneficiary. Beauty, like life, is fleeting. Skiddley-doo-wap-POW…!!!

Enjoy your Winter Holiday However You Chose to Celebrate It,

- Winnie, Duck & Beihl

PianoWinnieDuck

The Secret of the Virgin Birth Revealed at Creationism Park

FirstTimeAtChristianMinglejesus_and_the_dino_baby_infant_tshirtFinally, the secret of the Virgin Birth has been revealed at Creationism Park. According to park officials, secret papers and DNA samples were discovered in the basement of the Vatican confirming long held suspicions that Creationism is true. It all came to light after a Komodo dragon named Flora, living in the London Zoo laid 25 eggs without her having access to a male mate. Five of the 25 eggs hatched, thus giving birth to five little Komodo dragons named Jesus’ One through Five. The secret Vatican papers made reference to the Virgin Mary being from a bloodline that commingled with dinosaurs during the Triassic period, 230 million years ago. After scientists examined a sacred reliquary containing tears from the Blessed Virgin, it was confirmed that the Virgin Mary did indeed have dinosaur DNA, and was without dispute of reptilian ancestry.

97aff4616c4f3b74b7690f9c60ae9bf7-jesus-with-a-dinosaur-16Dinosaurs are a reoccurring theme in both the old and new testaments in spite of there being no actual written reference to them whatsoever in any existing text. Park official, Daryls Charwin explained that “those particular scrolls were not among the ones found at the Dead Sea, but we have every confidence that additional sacred writings will eventually surface. Until then we do as we always have, and take it on faith, endeavoring to make it all up as we go along.”

jesusdinoWith the multiple births of Komodo Jesus’ One through Five, park palaeontologist and part time priest, Daryls Charwin explained that “the second coming of Christ has taken place at the London Zoo, and our long awaited raptor-rapture is finally upon us.” He went on to say, “there are now five contemporary little Komodo messiahs who can spit a toxic poison saliva up to twenty-five feet at both believers and non-believers alike. Our hearts are filled with joy.”

gloriaAll of the Christmas Nativity displays at Creationism Park have been updated to reflect these new scientific findings and their subsequent theological revelations. The entire Creationist Christian community is very excited about the arrival of the new Komodo Messiahs, as they will undoubted provide a powerful new weapon against the imaginary war on Christmas. There will be no more of this ambiguous, all-embracing “Happy Holidays” stuff or a giant lizard will spit in your eye and eat you alive, just like Christ would have commanded.

creatCreationist “intellectuals” have opened several Creationism Museums across the country and courageously stand by their beliefs without the customary embarrassment normally associated with blowing ideas out your ass and palming them off as factoids. “We try never to allow scientific principles to impede our mission.” said Reverend Charwin, “Facts and research done by the mainstream scientific community offer little assistance in our quest to find truth in fabrication.” Anyone who sees the giant vacu-formed plastic dinosaurs and plaster mannequins together in the Creationism displays will be hard pressed not to agree. As holiday visitors first approach the Noah’s Ark display, everyone is struck by the accuracy and authenticity of seeing creation-noah-trex-cropped-proto-custom_2what is either a brontosaurus or the Loch Ness Monster greeting visitors from atop of the re-creation of Noah’s legendary vessel.

Now that the definitive link between the human and reptilian origins of Christianity have been established, the faithful worldwide are crying out to commingle with their reptilian brothers and sisters. The challenge in mating with the dragons boils down to the pitfalls of how the dragons spit a toxic saliva which paralyzes their mates (or victims  depending on your attitude). Some human and Komodo cross-breeding can result in one mate feasting on the remains of the other, but no marriage is ever perfect. All efforts to recreate virgin births in specimens of entirely human ancestry have been attempted only by teenage Catholic school girls who wear too much indexmake-up and hemlines well above the knee. According to Daryls Charwin, most human experiments in birthing the virgin way have resulted in “very happy” shotgun marriages that aren’t appreciably different from being consumed by a Komodo dragon.

– Disassociated Press, 12/9/2013

See below fior National Geographic’s story on the Komodo Dragon virgin births at the London Zoo.

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2006/12/061220-virgin-dragons.html 

 

The Heartwarming Story of Little Gracie and the Thanksgiving Carcass

Photo140228. 25 sept 07.  Thanksgiving turkey carcass.   Photos by Keith Beaty      The Heartwarming Story of Little Gracie and the Thanksgiving Carcass                                                          by William Whiting © 2010

Many years back when I lived in Upstate New York I worked in a series of department stores–all of which are since defunct or re-branded to reflect national chains. Back then cities prided themselves on their own regional stores touting local retailers as a reason to visit such backwater cities as Rochester, Buffalo and Syracuse. While living upstate I made the acquaintance of a little old lady named Gracie. She was a tiny little thing full of life and spunk. She had a slight over-bite and wire rimmed spectacles that magnified her eyes, especially at the half-moons at the bottom of each lens. Gracie operated the display department sewing machine at the once prestigious, Sibley, Lindsay and Curr Department Store. She often worked late to make tablecloths or sneak-in drag-costumes for ‘staple-gun-queens’ at Halloween–but only for the kids she’d taken a shine to. She was good with her hands despite nagging arthritis. She kept herself trim, prim and proper in the eyes of management while being a covert confident to all the employees.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, ushering in the ensuing “Black Friday” shopping madness, any person who has ever worked in retail display reaches a level of exhaustion unparalleled in the universe. In retail merchandising, you’ve been planning, discussing and executing Christmas decorations since the middle of June, and you’re just about holidayed-out by the day before Thanksgiving.

I purposely ignore holidays, I never much cared for them. That being the case, I tend to be the “odd” person invited to various “orphan” Thanksgiving celebrations. Since I’m the ’gay-relative’ I never kept that much family close-by—especially when I was first out on my own. As they say, “God bless my family, and keep them as far away as possible.”

Working in a display department exhausts a person physically and mentally in the days leading-up to Black Friday—and here little Gracie, nearly fifty years my senior, sensing a lost soul, invited me to join her family for turkey day. She invited me to have Thanksgiving along with her son, daughter-in-law and grandchild. I couldn’t imagine how in the WORLD this tiny little energetic lady had sewn 175 circular tablecloths of various dimensions WITH decorative trim—fluffed dozens of yards of garland—and decorated countless artificial Christmas trees all while planning and executing a Thanksgiving dinner for family and friends!

A few other people were invited on a drop-in basis, mostly people I knew from work, but Gracie warned me about her sister Roslyn. Nothing anyone did ever pleased Roslyn. Food was always too hot, too salty or not salty enough. According to Gracie, Roslyn forever thought the room was too chilly, too stuffy or too drafty. Nothing ever met Roslyn’s impossible expectations. Gracie, while widowed, had at least landed a man. Roslyn on the other hand, had devoted her spinster’s life to a management career in banking, and always dressed the part—right down to her discreet, but obviously real jewels she wore solely to impress people. Gracie’s finicky sister was constantly reminding everyone of the pedigree and authenticity of all her fashions and gems. According to Gracie, Roslyn wore her jewels like she owned the ‘Star of India‘.

Gracie on the other hand, worked hard to earn a meager living, and carried a bicycle chain in her purse when she came or went from her working-class neighborhood—just in case she had to ‘clock‘ somebody in order to insure her own safety. Occasionally, when she worked late at the department store, Gracie (who was nearly seventy) would walk home swinging that bicycle chain above her head like Spartacus entering the Coliseum–but only when she was forced to cross the Court Street Bridge on foot due to missing her bus. The footpaths on the Court Street Bridge could get very creepy late at night back in those days. But life was entirely different for her sister Roslyn. She bought a new car every year and kept residence in an apartment building where she was greeted by a doorman on the “better” side of town in one of the other blighted snow-belt capitals of Upstate New York.

Gracie confided in me she’d never asked a thing from Roslyn other than she behave herself “once-in-a-blue-moon.” During family gatherings her sister would comment on other people‘s weight, or wax-rhapsodic about the Amalfi Coast, knowing full well no one else had been there. Gracie would try to keep the conversation going by saying she’d enjoyed seeing the Amalfi Coast in a photo spread in the National Geographic up until she turned the page and saw bare-breasted natives who were clearly from somewhere other than Italy. If only Roslyn would stop being such a braggart, so annoying, so pretentious, so critical of everyone—that was all Gracie was asking.

But according to Gracie, Roslyn found remarkable ways of delivering an insult while allowing her Freudian slip to show well below the hem—especially after a nip or two of expensive single-malt scotch she sipped from a flask she brought with her so as to insure it‘s quality. Roslyn once told Gracie, that she was “glad” Gracie had married that soldier Roslyn had “lost interest” in. But the way Gracie told it, Gracie saw him first, and Roslyn had tried to steal him away from her right-up until the wedding ceremony. In her own revisionist history, Roslyn attributed her success to not marrying anyone, let alone a blue-collar ex-serviceman, and that allowed her to focus on her career and secure a place in the world as a formidable businesswoman.

But I digress…

…After several decades of on and off “not speaking”—Roslyn was going to ‘grace’ Gracie’s table at Thanksgiving—and I was invited to join them all—but I was given fair-warning that Roslyn took no prisoners—had NO filters—and spoke her mind even if it was hurtful. Warning duly noted.

I was bringing a pecan pie bought the day before from a bakery shop on the other side of town. It was a hefty chore, since ice and sleet had already descended on all of Upstate New York. Meanwhile, they couldn’t have been toastier up in Toronto–the north wind blows over lake Ontario in cold weather gathering raw moisture that created sugar-coated ice-storms in every corner of the ‘snow-belt.‘ No sooner would the weather seemingly end than it would start-up again—never thawing. The early storm that particular Thanksgiving promised to last for forever.

I rang-up Gracie at noon on Thanksgiving day to make sure dinner was still “on” given how slippery it was outside. I lived walking distance from Gracie, but her family and friends were driving-in from Buffalo, Syracuse and Ithaca.

I was told to come over any time midday. Gracie assured me most of her family had arrived safely late the night before—except for Roslyn who’d just called from a rest-stop on Interstate 490 to say she was coming, but only because she was better than halfway there and would otherwise have turned back. I said I’d try to be there by 3pm or thereabouts.

Gracie was vexed with Roslyn’s snide remark about “turning back” and defiantly said she’d start dinner with or without her persnickety sister. Roslyn was already in sour-spirits, dropping the bomb that she hated the thought of driving all that distance for what would undoubtedly be “dry turkey” (even if it was moist) and stuffing that wasn’t nearly as good as what their mother had once made (in spite of it being their mother‘s own recipe).

At about 2:30 in the afternoon I attempted to walk my dog, who while young and chipper couldn’t maneuver well on the ice. The poor thing splayed herself out on the slippery sidewalk like Bambi taking his first steps. The dog couldn’t keep upright on the ice, and neither could I. I clung to walls, branches, hedges and gates until the dog found just the right spot to pee. We then navigated our way back via lampposts, telephone poles and street signs so I could drop the dog off at home and set out for Gracie’s. The wind and freezing-water was gathering in my eyebrows and mustache. It took forever to walk even a few steps gauging each carefully calculated footfall. Nevertheless I hit the ground HARD a couple times landing squarely on my tailbone.

Eventually I made my way to Gracie’s place, clutching the front banister for dear life, I rang the doorbell—but not before taking one last tailspin to the ground. It was then that I saw it: THE car–a duo-tone Cadillac Fleetwood Eldorado perfectly parallel-parked in front of Gracie’s house. Given Gracie’s neighborhood, either a pimp was making holiday rounds, or Roslyn had arrived. When the doorbell didn’t rouse anyone, I knocked at the shaky, tired, peeling green Victorian screen door decorated with a wreath wrapped in white iridescent polyester trim which I recognized from the department store’s table cloths–table cloths, which would premiere for Black Friday tomorrow morning at 10AM when the store opened for business. I admired Gracie’s red and green plaid grosgrain bows and lighted swags flanking her front porch. She didn‘t have money, but she had style, even if she did swipe all her supplies from work.

As previously mentioned, Gracie and I worked all hours of overtime the night before and for weeks on end, prior to the holiday. Here I was exhausted in my early 20’s wondering where-in-the-world this little tiny lady found the time—let alone the energy to decorate her own home.

Gracie opened the door and warned me that “Roslyn is in unusually bad spirits this afternoon.” The moment she arrived, she promptly began drinking scotch, and was working her way around the table telling everyone what she REALLY thought of them. Other people’s families are not my problem, but a home-cooked meal was just fine by me so long as I wasn’t the victim of Roslyn’s scrutiny—and why should I be? I can be charming, and I hadn’t even met the woman yet.

I arrived late due to the ice, and the whole family was already gathered around the table and were just starting to pass food around the table. I‘d missed hand-holding and the Thanksgiving prayer–just as well, as I’m a bit of a pagan at heart.

I took my place at the table following brief introductions, but Roslyn ignored me. I tried not to take offense, but no one likes to be ignored at an introduction. I understand shyness, but I recognize hostility. Roslyn looked at me with a stillness of expression that told me I was beneath contempt, let alone introduction. There was definitely something wrong with that woman–-she unnerved me.

Once Gracie had heaped my plate with turkey and side dishes, I glanced across the table at Roslyn who was still glaring at me eye-level which made me all the more determined to be courteous to a fault.

But there she was with was that stoic, almost ‘other-worldly’ face glaring back at me. Smiling sweetly, I asked Roslyn to pass the gravy as a way to try and engage her interest, at which point, Roslyn summarily slumped over and died face-first into the gravy boat with little tufts of yellow-white hair thirstily absorbing the thick, oily, floured liquid.

There was a beat of time during which no one fully grasped what had just taken place. Had she passed-out drunk…? Or fainted…? Wiping the gravy from her sister’s face, Gracie lifted Roslyn’s head and put a pocket compact-mirror by her sister’s nose and mouth, but she couldn’t tell if the condensation was coming from the gravy or from Roslyn’s breath. She didn’t look to me like she was breathing, and I said so, which threw Gracie into a panic. Cell phones didn’t exist back then and neither did 911. I took it upon myself to ‘dial’ the operator from the kitchen wall phone and told the operator to contact the police emergency paramedic unit and recited the distressed address.

Before the paramedics arrived and declared Roslyn dead on the scene from what later proved to be an aneurysm, it was the human reactions that fascinated me. Gracie was guilt-ridden for having made such a fuss over Roslyn’s numerous faults. But while everything was unfolding, Gracie’s daughter-in-law was removing jewelry from the body. The choker necklace I could understand (at first) but relatives were pulling the jewelry off her fingers and earlobes while other guests continued in a surreal way to pick at their plates. Gracie was nothing short of bewildered. After all, there was a corpse at her holiday table other than the turkey–but ever the gracious host, Gracie, in an indescribable moment of awkwardness offered me left-over’s to take home even as the medical team hoisted her sister’s body onto the gurney.

A dazed Gracie signed a form bound for the coroner‘s office, and I declined accepting the take-home “goody bag.” Just my mind’s-eye memory of Roslyn’s facial expression and her yellow-tinted hair soaking-up gravy through capillary action completely put-off my appetite.

I had done my part by contacting emergency workers, so after an awkward silence I bid my farewell. This had become a family moment where I felt compelled to leave them to sort things out on their own. There were befuddled goodbyes, but no one was even feigning tears. I made a quick but slick exit to allow Gracie and her family to pick over the carcass of their spoiled celebration. Bracing myself against the cold, damp wind, I slipped and slided my way back home to my barren refrigerator in my little apartment. All I had in the house were ketchup, stale bread and 2 frozen pork chops.

I was still a bit shell-shocked, so I let the dog out the back door to pee in the yard on her own, and popped the two frozen pork-chops under the broiler. Once I was settled in, I was suddenly hungry as the devil in spite of what I’d just witnessed. The broiler door jammed so I forced it shut with my foot, catapulting the pork chops into an irretrievable space behind the oven where they were left to thaw and stink-up the apartment for weeks to come.

In defeat, I turned off the oven and ate two slices of stale bread covered in ketchup and then went to bed. I had to go to work the next morning for ‘Black Friday’ to be on hand in the event that any of the displays collapsed under the weight of stampeding Black Friday shoppers.

Poor little Gracie got the next week off with pay due to there being a death in the family—even though she confided in me over the phone that she still hadn’t cried. After an exhaustive search of her sister’s personal belongings, it was determined that Roslyn had expected to live forever, and had never prepared a will. That being the case, everything was left to Gracie as next of kin. It turned out to be a most profitable Thanksgiving for Gracie, who promptly retired in comparative financial comfort for the rest of her days.

Happy Thanksgiving.

– Disassociated Press, 11/25/2013 – Republished from a post on November 24, 2010.

suspicioustday.jpg

Can We Stop Jogging Through Jello Now?

Obama responsibility

obamaToday is the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F. Kennedy. I was thirteen years old when that horror stopped the nation dead in its tracks–but I remember it like it was yesterday. A lot of time has passed, but conservative hatred masquerading as legitimate faith confused by hiding behind patriotism still remains strong. Lots of religious Hippocrates were delighted at the death of JFK never giving a second thought to his being a husband, father and leader of the free world. People pride themselves on stupidity, and that is their right so long as words don’t morph into actions we all live to regret. But this anniversary is merely the preface to my recounting observations of human beings at their most disappointing.

In today’s world, the Senate has finally invoked the nuclear option, and Mitch McConnell pitched a fit now that majority rule has been restored. He doesn’t want to see the reinstatement of Senatorial nuclear math–(majority rule)–but nuclear option or not, you don’t have to wait for the fallout. The fallout began well before the day Barack Obama took office. While Mitch McConnell is a very clever and politically astute man, he is an incredibly stupid person who sees no further than the end of his turtle-like beak. For McConnell and so many neocons, it’s not about what’s best for the American people–it’s about what is best for Mitch McConnell’s perverse worldview–and so much of conservative America– many of whom have lost their way.

Colorado congressman, Doug Lamborn thought it was “OK” to equate President Obama to a “tar baby.” Dick Durban sticks by his claim that an anonymous high ranking member of the GOP allegedly told Barack Obama to his face: “I cannot stand even looking at you.” Addle-brained, Rep. Addison “Joe” Wilson, Sr., felt a moment of turrets come on–and went with it, inappropriately shouting “you lie!” during Obama’s first State of the Union Address—and so the disrespect and abuse just keeps coming on…

obamabirthx…I was feeling lazy the other night and didn’t want to be bothered with cooking dinner, so I stopped by a local bar and restaurant for a sandwich and a beer. There was loud music playing, but I found myself watching the closed-caption evening news on one of the multitude of TV screens placed all around the room. Barack Obama appeared on television coinciding with a pause in the loud music. From behind me I heard a man say: “Somebody should assassinate that man.” I wasn’t prepared to hear anything that ugly and inappropriate rekindling horrible memories, so I wasn’t at my cleverest–I turned to face him, and with a booming voice said: “Go to hell.” The man didn’t utter another word because I come across as imposing when provoked. I sized up the offending, pathetic sad-sack–with his ridiculous mullet haircut, surprised to see someone who looked like he belonged in the back woods of Alabama transplanted to urban Philadelphia. The mullet itself told me everything anyone needed to know: He was too rt_barack_obama_100616_mn_face0pathetic and stupid to express an informed opinion. His opinions were clearly based on undiluted hatred–not on facts, nor accurate information–nor life experience. He was only capable of parroting the sentiments he’s heard on toxic talk radio and emboldened by the bar-lowering brats currently infesting both Houses of Congress.

Those sentiments are part of an echo chamber between right wing politicians and the media mouthpieces devoted to spreading hate and stupidity for the sake of self-serving media ratings and/or votes.

imagesAs a matter of course our nation’s elected officials waste more time languishing in gridlock than they ever do attending to the country’s business. We have elected officials who revel in creating suspended animation, specializing in roadblocks while ignoring infrastructure. Almost no one in Congress has any appetite for getting anything done–especially on the “R” side of the aisle–and believe it or not, Congress has about one more “work” week left in 2013. Washington, DC has been reduced to a never ending state of stagnation and pointless finger pointing. Congress’ popularity rating is polling somewhere between Ebola and head-lice with most of the credit due to incompetent congressional freshmen who were elected during the 2010 midterms while a drowsy national electorate slept.

imag3eeesWhen nothing constructive gets done, morons like Mr. Mullet blame the president for all manner of things that can all be traced back to misinformation campaigns that took hold inside his tiny little mind. Mr. Mullet is a prime example of the kind of person easily manipulated by both the Tea Party and neocons–capitalizing on low-information voters and their inherent failure to understand how anything in this world actually works.

imeagesEveryone has seized on the embarrassing healthcare website that stumbled out of the gate in October. No one remembers what they had for lunch, let alone important historical comparisons like: Medicare, Medicaid, Medicare Part D and Social Security–ALL of which began with shaky starts, but over time became popular programs that transformed people’s lives. The healthcare roll-out is merely the first time a national entitlement program of such a massive scale has been almost entirely introduced to the public by way of an online presence, and the twenty-four hour news cycle has had a field day fixating on its flaws.

Obama_8The prototype for the Affordable Healthcare Act was first implemented in Massachusetts by former Republican governor, Mitt Romney–with most of it’s foundations based largely on ideas designed by the conservative Heritage Foundation’s think tank. Nevertheless the GOP’s very own ideas have become the primary focus of conservative ire over the audacity of someone actually doing something to implement them. Perhaps conservatives didn’t want those ideas available to everyone and would have preferred to keep affordable healthcare reserved for people exactly like themselves. Staunch conservatives don’t ascribe to the idea of everyone being created equal. They don’t factor in the rights of women or minorities. I strongly suspect staunch right wingers view everyone other than heterosexual white males as something short of human. Obviously that makes no sense but we’re talking about a conservative worldview here–it isn’t supposed to make sense.

image3eesOur founding fathers initially wanted citizens from all walks of life to run for elected office–serve out their civic duty only to return to their original professions when the next citizen successor was sworn in. Nice idea in theory–but theory is where it ends. Forget about the citizen senator who puts down his farmer’s plow to spend time serving his country in the nation’s capitol. The Teapublicans have proven beyond a shadow of a doubt how naïve that concept really is–so much so that Tea Party freshmen have demonstrated themselves to be considerably worse than self-serving career politicians. (If that’s not frightening, then I don’t know what is…)

Barack Obama speaking about sequesterThe main source of our inability to move the nation forward boils down to one core issue: An irrational hatred of our president–or more accurately his race. Obama’s detractors may deny that race is what motivates their hatred, but it’s too transparent for them to convincingly deny. I maintain that were a white male elected president in 2008–who in turn handled his political agenda precisely the same way as Barack Obama–we’d never have seen the same degree of political gridlock. So the problem is not the president nor is it his message–it’s the perception of the president by those who hate him that’s at the core of our national stagnation.

imageresIt’s bewildering to watch a principled man smeared with lies, hatred and convoluted half truths. What’s particularly frustrating is the taint that lingers where lies are concerned–because there will always be people who prefer to believe a lie over the truth–especially when it dovetails with the “hater’s” own preconceived notions. If logic and common sense are inconvenient to an accuser’s objectives, liars merely talk louder and become more self-righteous. Take for example: Ted Cruz, Darrel Issa or Mitch McConnell–ad nauseum. The only redemption for anyone victimized by deceitful detractors is to remain dignified–keep a level head–and wait for the truth to win out while a fickle and easily confused public flip-flops around like a flounder on a dry dock. Barack Obama is a patient man who adheres to a higher set of principles, but don’t expect either blatant or subliminal racists to ever concede to that point.

barack-obamaThe very moment Obama took the oath of office, people on the hard right began a relentless campaign to continually smear and disrespect him. I’ve witnessed members of Congress withdrawing their hand when the president extended his (literally speaking)–and in the next breath you hear political pundits accuse Obama of being distant and unapproachable. Whether it’s birthers or neocon pundits fabricating all sorts of psychobabble, Obama rises above it all with an otherworldly air of dignity and calm. I couldn’t maintain my composure the way the president has–and there are few people among us who could.

barack obama2The noisy faction purposefully craft lies into faux-truths employing constant repetition. There’s a receptive audience out there either unwilling or unable to think for themselves and therefore gullible enough to believe anything. I have an acquaintance who despises Barack Obama. He’s incapable of coherently expressing why he hates the president, only that he hates him. When I ask if he’s ever listened to the president speak on policy matters or if he’s tuned-in to any of the State of the Union addresses, he replies: “I can’t even bear to hear Obama’s voice.” In other words, he has no idea what Barack Obama stands for but he’s heard things through “select” media outlets and prefers to drink the Kool-Aid.

121203-D-BW835-505If I bring-up the fact that a great many of Obama’s policies (including healthcare reform) have their origins in ideas Republicans embraced up until Obama implemented them–my friend claims I’m “making it up.” It’s curious how those same Republican ideas become “toxic” when people have preconceived notions about the messenger while completely missing the message. If Americans were colorblind, they’d likely embrace the majority of the Obama Administration’s agenda. Those same goals were, after all the GOP’s very own platform not so very long ago.

747E62F8-CD53-4E78-9A21-197A7AD22823_mw1024_n_sI once asked the same aforementioned acquaintance: “Do you really hate Obama, or are you allowing racism to govern your opinions?” That set off a firestorm. He ranted and raved about how he is NOT a racist. Although he doesn’t even hear himself use racial slurs during his own routine use of language–all the while blaming the world’s problems on Obama. He’s against ObamaCare but curiously enough, has considerably less trouble with The Affordable Health Care Act–blithely unaware that they’re one in the same thing. He blames corporate bank bailouts on Obama–again unaware that it’s a matter of historical record that those bailouts began under Bush 43–and that the economy tanked before Obama was elected president.

barack-obama81For those who maintain a purposefully limited worldview, all that has gone wrong in America became Barack Obama’s fault the minute the man took the oath of office. If I point out how all the massive problems that confront the nation were growing like a silent tumor for decades starting with “Saint Ronald,” but coming to a head during the excesses of the Bush/Cheney years he says: “When are you typical bleeding heart liberals going to stop blaming Bush?” Regarding certain events and issues (from incomprehensibly costly losses of blood and treasure, to incompetent responses to natural disasters) my answer is: “Never.” And for a very good reason. It’s patently stupid to think that problems start and stop with each successive administration. History is a linear continuum, and the course of the nation (as well as its budget) are set in stone by the preceding president leaving his barack-obamasuccessor stuck with those preexisting factors for the first three or more years in office. In the case of Barack Obama, the hand he was dealt by George W. Bush was so bad–so toxic–and in such disarray that no one in the world could neutralize our collective catastrophes in two terms. All Obama can do is set us on the right course, and hope that his successors continue to guide us along a productive path. Obama’s presidency has been perpetually kneecapped by a House full of obstructionists whose primary goal is nothing more than a “game” to regain control of the White House in 2016. In GOP tea-speak, the job of governing is secondary to playing chess with all of our lives and fortunes (such as they are) merely to regain political power.

Obama is a populist in spite of criticisms that he’s too professorial. He is a very cerebral man, and I’ll take a thoughtful leader over a monosyllabic reactionary any day. He’s displayed a cool, levelheaded grace in spite of near impossible odds. His presidency has 130523_barack_obama_speech_ap_605been stalled by obstructionism, prejudice, fear-mongering, heart-rending gun violence, layered on top of unforeseen international, industrial and natural disasters–yet he has managed to neutralize many of our worst international enemies and accomplish things the Bush Administration couldn’t begin to address. The stock market has soared to new heights and more than recovered from the days when Bush left office. (Albeit a jobless recovery–but you can largely blame that on Congressional inaction.) However, you’ll never convince my reactionary acquaintance–or Mr. Mullet–they’re both too busy following football. And they’re only colorblind when it comes to the players on the sports teams they follow. Getting people to pay attention to the issues that really matter is like jogging through Jello. It can be done, but it’s slippery going. Everyone has a right to their opinion–even when it’s patently stupid. My own gut instincts tell me that Barack Obama learned early in life that there’s a lot less traffic on the high road and eventually we will follow his lead. Sadly, the rest of Washington, DC prefers to stumble over what lies behind them in an endless effort to march obama-family-peopleblindfolded, backward toward the past. History exists as a road map to the future so that we may reflect on the past to guide us forward–not backward.

May our president and his family be safe and well on this sad anniversary–and continue in good health in all the days that follow.

Disassociated Press – 11/15/2013

If You Don’t Vote–Don’t Complain About the Outcome of an Election

Workin the polls11teaparty1People are busy. They have things to do, television shows to watch and time to waste as they see fit. That’s all well and good, but elections don’t just happen during presidential years. Elections happen EVERY year. So many of the really disturbing impediments to progress sneak past the general population during off-year elections, primaries and midterms. 2013 is an off-year, and while there are very important high profile gubernatorial races in some of the states like New Jersey and Virginia–many other states are voting for candidates in less widely watched matches for elected offices that don’t get the media attention higher profile run-offs enjoy. That however, doesn’t make those elections unimportant or without consequences.

AP609338614431-e1381755593889The deterioration of sanity known as the Tea Party took root during off-year elections, and grew to become fully disturbing blockages of progress during the following midterms. This is because a vast majority of people don’t pay attention, and therefore don’t feel compelled to turn out for the less “sexy” political match-ups.

WinnieToons entry for this week is very spare, due to my being spread a bit thin at the moment–well, that–and I’m working on a more complex blog essay that I’m not yet ready to publish. The only message I have to impart today is a very simple one: If you don’t vote, you forfeit your right to complain. It’s too easy (and inaccurate) to blame everything on the president or the dunderheads in Workin the pollsCongress–not that there isn’t some truth to those opinions. but if your government and your sense of fair representation through government runs counter to your best interests–go ahead and complain–but only if you’ve taken the time and effort to turn out and vote. Otherwise, you can keep your opinions to yourself, because you made a conscious decision to silence your own voice.

– Disassociated Press, 11/4/2013

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I will be donating a piece of original art to Conserve Wildlife Foundation of New Jersey, Women & Wildlife Awards silent auction. The piece featured is in a private collection. What I will do for the winning bid is a custom ordered piece of original art either from the winning bidder’s choice of a wildlife subject or a family pet. To place a bid, follow the link below:
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Halloween Horrors in the Halls of Congress

Haunted House

Ted forgot to put in his teeth this morning.

Ted forgot to put his teeth in this morning.

I seriously wonder if our country is doomed to fall victim to its own superstitions, prejudices and stupidity. If an ignorant populace prefers to elect ignorant people to represent them in Congress, what can anyone possibly expect? This morning I spent a few minutes watching Kathleen Sebelius being grilled by Congress over the snafu caused by the faulty website roll out of the Affordable Healthcare Act (AHA)–or Ah-Haaa, if your prefer. It was nothing short of disingenuous to see Republicans drag the Secretary of Health and Human Services over the coals because of a crashed website. We all know the GOP wants the AHA to fail in the same breath that they’re demanding answers as to why the enrollment website has been such a dismal failure. You know they’re glad that the website crashed repeatedly. It’s drawn attention away from the Ted Cruz Show. Now they’re all kicking themselves for shutting down the government in the first place and not allowing AHA’s rocky start to dominate the headlines instead of their own congressional constipation.

132191790.jpg.CROP.promovar-mediumlarge

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett turns a deaf ear to the needs of his constituents.

It’s pretty clear that no one in Congress actually understands or experiences the real life trials and challenges that everyday struggling citizens endure. I’ve been without healthcare for over a year now. I’ve been looking forward to obtaining affordable healthcare. I still believe in the principles of making affordable healthcare available to millions of otherwise uninsured Americans–because I’m one of them. The website will be fixed. Clearly no one realized the crush of traffic the site would draw, and it’s pretty obvious there are systemic problems in the design and implementation of the website to put it mildly. But I still maintain that the online presence will be corrected, but that’s only part of what we can expect to go wrong with the Affordable Healthcare Act. Much of what will substantially go wrong will be how the law is undermined.

Kudos to whoever created this inspired piece of Photoshopping.

Kudos to whoever created this inspired piece of Photoshopping. Speaker Boehner allowed the House of Representative to run amok under the madness of Ted Cruz. He does need to be changed.

The ideas behind implementing the AHA are sound and moral. The boisterous tantrum thrown by members of the GOP Tea Party are not. But if the GOP wants to put a fly in the ointment to create problems in the AHA, fear not, Republican governors across the nation have already done that due to a provision in the law handily provided by activist judges in the Supreme Court. Shortsighted and blatantly evil state governors like Governor Corbett in Pennsylvania (where I live) have purposely failed to expand statewide Medicaid. In doing so, people like me do not qualify to take advantage of the AHA. I fall into a crack between the floorboards. My earnings are below the poverty level, but I have small assets and holdings. If I could show on paper that I earned either $250 MORE per year or $250 LESS per year, I’d qualify for a healthcare exchange that would cost me $70 per month. I’m only sixty three years old and I’m not disabled–so I don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. This leaves me having to pay SEVEN HUNDRED DOLLARS per month as opposed to seventy dollars. I don’t have $700 a month to spend on an exchange.

tumblr_msffq489Yk1s65idto1_400This purposeful denial is designed to keep people like me from qualifying and taking advantage of the AHA. It’s also clearly the purpose of the GOP to confuse people into believing this is a failure on the part of President Obama’s signature law. It is not. It’s an undermining tactic. Too many Americans in general don’t like to think very deeply about anything. The easy assumption will be “blame it on Obama.” The exception that I fall into is by Republican design. And it’s not particularly “Christian-like” of the party of “God, guns and greed.” But that shouldn’t surprise anyone. In GOP-think, religious values are a tool and not a moral imperative. The Affordable Healthcare Act will eventually work, and people will like it. However, by that time I’ll be on Medicare and Social Security–providing Republicans haven’t figured out how to undermine those safety nets as well. Nothin’ like Congress at work. Oh, I forgot, they don’t work, they just get paid and collect magnificent medical care and other various and sundry deluxe entitlements. Goody, goody for them.

– Disassociated Press, 10/30/2013

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Tryptich-300x95Check out my new creative arts website: http://www.williamwhiting.com/

And…

My Book, An Early Work Late in Life is available at PixelPreserve:
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