15 January 2019

Two Intelligent Uncles Chatting to the Beat

A Short Story
by Zurys A Feplo, LQE

orwenna Khan looked at the ripped hawk in her hands and felt sad.
She walked over to the window and reflected on her wild surroundings. She had always loved noisy Liverpool with its nosy, nice nooks. It was a place that encouraged her tendency to feel sad.
Then she saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the figure of Sally England. Sally was an intelligent painter with ruddy lips and hairy eyelashes.
Morwenna gulped. She glanced at her own reflection. She was a stable, malicious, tea drinker with ruddy lips and grubby eyelashes. Her friends saw her as a villainous, vigilant vicar. Once, she had even jumped into a river and saved a mighty toddler.
But not even a stable person who had once jumped into a river and saved a mighty toddler, was prepared for what Sally had in store today.
The drizzle rained like thinking gerbils, making Morwenna puzzled.
As Morwenna stepped outside and Sally came closer, she could see the gentle glint in her eye.
Sally gazed with the affection of 8222 virtuous high horses. She said, in hushed tones, “I love you and I want equality.”
Morwenna looked back, even more puzzled and still fingering the ripped hawk. “Sally, you must think I was born yesterday,” she replied.
They looked at each other with shocked feelings, like two low, lonely lizards smiling at a very stupid wake, which had orchestral music playing in the background and two intelligent uncles chatting to the beat.
Morwenna studied Sally's ruddy lips and hairy eyelashes. Eventually, she took a deep breath. “I’m sorry,” began Morwenna in apologetic tones, “but I don’t feel the same way, and I never will. I just don’t love you Sally.”
Sally looked barmy, her emotions raw like a hungry, hurt hat.
Morwenna could actually hear Sally’s emotions shatter into 465 pieces. Then the intelligent painter hurried away into the distance.
Not even a cup of tea would calm Morwenna’s nerves tonight.

14 January 2019

The Feast of the Ass

ormerly, the Feast of the Ass was celebrated on this day, in commemoration of the ‘Flight into Egypt’ says Chambers’ Book of Days, and I have no reason to disbelieve it, though I can’t remember ever noticing it before, and it does seem like the sort of religious festival I would have noticed. We are informed:
The escape of the Holy Family into Egypt was represented by a beautiful girl holding a child at her breast, and seated on an ass, splendidly decorated with trappings of gold-embroidered cloth. After having been led in solemn procession through the streets of the city in which the celebration was held, the ass, with its burden, was taken into the principal church, and placed near the high altar, while the various religious services were performed. In place, however, of the usual responses, the people on this occasion imitated the braying of an ass; and, at the conclusion of the service, the priest, instead of the usual benediction, brayed three times, and was answered by a general hee-hawing from the voices of the whole congregation.
Those were simpler times, I suppose—at least I hope they were. The book doesn’t actually say when this festival was celebrated, but I am assuming that it was one of those medieval frolics that used to engage the minds and bodies of our ancestors in the absence of more sophisticated mass media (think of the asinine antics of Ann Coulter or Benny Hill).
Our present Feast of the Ass is a triptych depicting President Trumpkoff begging the Democrats to save his sorry Ass, then sitting in an empty room waiting for help to come, and finally contemplating a feast of crow. I’m almost sorry that I voted for the guy—no, that’s right, I voted for the actual Republican in the race, Hillary Clinton. You’d have to have been dim as a burnt-out bulb to vote for a failed con-man agent of RasPutin like our Idiot in Chief.
Well, since America has shed its government along with its pretence of greatness, may as well adopt this ceremony as its own. Let the President conclude his address to Congress by braying three times, and let the Senators and Representatives respond in kind. It’s a fitting end to our misbegotten Republic, and a warning to those in the future who might attempt to follow in our failing footsteps.

13 January 2019

De Ole Folks at Bay, or Massa's in de Cole Cole Ribber

t’s Stephen Foster Memorial Day in the United States, for what that’s worth. This racist composer of some of the most insipid songs ever to bore into a listener’s brain apparently has his own day—the day of his untimely death, like those honoring Χian saints and martyrs. Why I don’t know. It’s not as if we don’t have real composers in this country to honor—Duke Ellington, Scott Joplin, Ornette Coleman, Florence Price, or Billy Strayhorn (to name but a few).
Ah, but who can forget such beloved compositions as “Massa’s in de Cole Ground,” “Gwine ter Run all Night” (a.k.a. “Camptown Races”), “Jeannie with the Light Brown Hair,” or “Old Folks at Home” (a.k.a. “Way down upon de Swanee River”)? I sure as hell wish I could. I could extend this list easily, but nausea overwhelms me. I mean, seriously, these are the lyrics to one of his most celebrated songs:
Camptown ladies sing dis song, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
Camptown race-track five miles long, Oh, doo-dah day!
I come down dah wid my hat caved in, Doo-dah! doo-dah!
I go back home wid a pocket full of tin, Oh, doo-dah day!
Gwine to run all night!
Gwine to run all day!
I’ll bet my money on de bob-tail nag,
Somebody bet on de bay.
Really? This clown deserves his own day? I guess in all fairness he’s not as fucking awful as Francis Scott Key, but that’s a low bar to get over. And he did write some catchy melodies, almost at a level with Barry Manilow. (Who can forget “Like a good neighbor | State Farm is there” or “You deserve a break today”? Again, I wish I could.) But is that really enough?
Seriously, anybody can write a Stephen Foster song. Just plunk away at the black keys on the piano, set it to a primitive harmony, ladle in syrupy lyrics about de ole plantation days, and you’re ready to go. An instant American classic.

12 January 2019

Toxic Femininity

 see in the news that a thirteen-year-old girl managed to escape from the man who kidnapped her, murdering her mother and father in order to keep them from being “barriers” to his violent project. I feel confident that Nancy Rommelmann and her fellow journalist Leah McSweeney will soon be explaining how this is an example of “toxic femininity” and urging that the girl “just get over” her parents’ murder and learn to live with things—you know, choose not to be a victim and all that.
I mean, gee whiz, shouldn’t we think of what poor Jake Thomas Patterson must be going through? What young man hasn’t at least considered murdering a teenager’s parents and carrying her off to a remote cabin in the woods? That’s just how young men are. It certainly shouldn’t be allowed to blight his future prospects—boys will be boys etc. Let’s all try to forgive him and put this whole unpleasant business behind us without getting into victim culture and all those sorts of distasteful things. Brett Kavanaugh would understand.
Think about it. In a few years maybe we’ll be seeing Justice Patterson nominated to the Supreme Court. He’s certainly got the qualifications for it—at least in the Dopey Don’s America. A callous indifference to human life, a strong desire to achieve his own ends whatever the cost to others—and not one, but two actual murders under his belt. Maybe they didn’t have the prominence of Jamal Khashoggi, but surely the removal of every “barrier” counts.
President Trump should consider it. That is, assuming he can ever manage to get the U. S. government open again.

11 January 2019

Another Corrupt Politician Out (2008)

[Originally posted at Rational Rant on 11 January 2008]
ccording to the New York Times, John T. Doolittle, who along with fellow-travelers Richard Pombo and Tom Delay did so much to gut environmental laws for the benefit of private corporations, is planning to step down.
WASHINGTON — Representative John T. Doolittle, a California Republican who has suggested he is almost certain to face criminal charges in a Congressional lobbying scandal, announced Thursday that he would retire from the House next year.
The announcement by Mr. Doolittle, 57, who is in his ninth term in Congress and was once seen as a rising star in the Republican Party, made no reference to the criminal investigation by the Justice Department, which has centered on his connections to the corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff.
Last April, Mr. Doolittle’s home in suburban Virginia was raided by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as part of that inquiry, and his wife, a campaign fund-raiser, was subpoenaed for her financial records.
The aptly-named Doolittle spent his time in Congress attempting to destroy the endangered species act and to make sure that nothing was accomplished on virtually any environmental front. Given this record it is no surprise that the California Republican had ties to corrupt lobbyists. The Times added:
Justice Department officials would not comment Thursday on the status of the criminal investigation against Mr. Doolittle, who is among nearly 20 House Republicans to announce that they will voluntarily leave Congress over the next year. Prosecutors appear to be focused on business connections between Mr. Doolittle’s wife and lobbyists, including Mr. Abramoff, who might have sought to influence his vote.
...Until this week, Mr. Doolittle publicly rebuffed calls for his resignation and said he was eager to seek another term. Branding his critics within the Republican Party as “weasels,” he continued until several days ago to seek donations for a re-election campaign this November.
I wonder what happened to change his mind. [11 Ja 2008]

10 January 2019

The Washington Clown-Fest (1999)

[From my pre-weblog, 9 January 1999. Yeah, it’s a day late.]
here’s probably no good reason to put in anything here, really, but this impeachment farce continues in Washington, and I might as well get something down about it. It’s unbelievable that Congress has sunk this low, to use the power of impeachment for what can only be described as narrow partisan ends, but there it is I guess. Nobody I’ve talked with gives a damn about any of this—the general opinion seems to be a let’s-get-this-damn-thing-over-with attitude. Detachment is the only way to handle this idiocy. This bizarre defense the Republicans (my own party, God help me) keep coming up with is like an incredibly bad sleight-of-hand trick. It’s not what Clinton did that’s important—it’s the fact he lied about it. That’s the real issue. Don’t look at the goldfish bowl I’m trying to hide behind my back—you’re supposed to be looking over here, where I have the sheet in the shape of a bowl. Come on, audience—now I’m going to do it again, and this time try to follow the trick—look at what I want you to, and not at what I’m really doing. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. For God’s sake, people, come off it! The only issue here is whether having an “inappropriate relationship” with an employee is in fact a high crime or misdemeanor on the level of treason or bribery—or election fraud or selling arms to our nation’s enemies. If so then the issues of lying under oath or obstruction of justice assume a serious cast and we can talk seriously about maybe removing the president from office. But without that it’s all dust and cobwebs. And when the Republicans themselves keep on saying that the issue isn’t sex, it’s perjury (for which so far they haven’t presented the vestige of a case, as far as I can see, since no one has even addressed the question of materiality), or lying under oath, or obstruction of justice, or something or other like that—well, hell, they might as well just come out and say We don’t have any kind of a case, but we’re hoping somehow to get Clinton on a technicality. While I have little respect for the American people on the whole, this time they’re quite correct in their perception that the case is about Clinton’s sex life. Period. And the Republicans have only a lame magic trick they can’t quite get to work. [9 Ja 1999]

09 January 2019

Martyrs Day (Panama)

t’s Martyrs’ Day in Panama, and as this is the fifty-fifth anniversary of the event, I attempted to write something a bit more substantial than I’ve been able to manage recently, but events have conspired against me, and I’m now out of time to do anything.
So to hell with it. Maybe next year. There’s a decent article on it by Eric Jackson preserved at The Internet Archive, and some fascinating links at maestravida dot com. You can check them out if you like.
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