§  We subscribe to both Netflix and Prime (and, this month, Apple as well), but it still takes forever for us to find a movie.  Apparently, Quentin Tarentino and the Coen Brothers can’t make films fast enough to keep up with the pace of our watching them.  C’mon guys.

§  Speaking of Films, Part I.  Wouldn’t you think that any gang of killers sent to murder the martial-arts hero would have watched enough movies to know YOU CAN’T ATTACK THE HERO ONE-PERSON-AT-A-TIME!  But as my sister-in-law says, if these guys were smart, they wouldn’t need to be criminals.  Same goes for script-writers.

§  Speaking of Films, Part II.  When the vengeful psychotic gunman corners his target and his gun is poised against the victim’s sweaty head, the gunman always begins a monologue that blames the victim and helps him “understand” why he deserves to be killed.  Then the gunman kills him (with exceptions, see below).  Which makes no sense.  Would it not be more cruel (if that were the gunman’s intent) to let the victim live an extended time with the guilt and shame of knowing how he turned the gunman into a psychopath?  I mean, the victim usually only gets a few seconds to appreciate the gunman’s inner turmoil, and then blam.  Well, like my sister-in-law said…

§  Speaking of Films, Part III.  The psychotic gunman, before he kills his victim, is either: (a) shot by the cop who also happens to be his childhood friend and who just now arrived on the scene, and is conflicted about saving or shooting him; (b) shot by the “sensitive” guy in the gang who has a wife and kids and decided this was the best way to save his family; (c) shot by his rival in the gang, who is also simultaneously shot, and both die; or (d) shot by his girlfriend who just can’t even; or (e) trampled by a herd of elephants.  OK, I sort of made that up.  I haven’t seen the bad guy trampled by elephants since, oh, Bomba and the Elephant Stampede (1951).  Tarentino never used elephants.

§  I don’t know what it’s like these days, but when I was in grade school, I remember how it was a big deal when one of our classmates was out sick, leaving an empty desk in the room. It just felt really odd and a little ominous.  “Where’s Janet today?”

§  If I were the 21st-century Marquis de Sade, I would want a job working for the airlines.  I would engineer a pressure-sensitive airplane seat that tallies the minutes your butt is in the seat and charges you extra for every seat-contact-minute.  Passengers who are able to crouch so that their tushie doesn’t touch the seat can save a buck!  If you have to sit, well, that privilege will cost you.  Tell me this isn’t in our future.

§  I find it uplifting if there is even one economic transaction a week in which I am treated like a human instead of a credit card swipe.  And it works the other way too: at the grocery, I generally try to read the cashier’s ID badge and either greet them by name or bid them well as I leave.  I get a smile in return about half the time and walk out happier in any case.

§  It’s not the same when I dare use the self-check line.  I’m still trying to figure out where on the scanning station I can strangle that dictatorial voice-bot, but it will be so satisfying the day I do.  “Please Place Your Item in the BA-A-GGH GAKH UKKH… “

§  When I was growing up, my mother always cut bacon-lettuce-and-tomato sandwiches on the diagonal.  No other item ever was, not that there were a lot of opportunities for creative slicing.  Today, eating any diagonally-cut sandwich still feels like a treat to me.

§  The past tense of bear is bore.  But how does it make sense to say, “A baby bore climbed our kousa dogwood tree looking for berries yesterday.”  It makes no sense at all, because plenty of berries had already fallen on the driveway.

§  My spouse often encourages me to look out our living room window as the evening light is fading and appreciate the beauty of the subtle blues and grays spreading across our sky.  I thought of this when I recently read the following passage from Karl Ove Knausgaard’s 2009 autobiographical novel, My Struggle: Book 1:

I set off with a sigh.  Above me the entire sky had opened.  What a few hours earlier had been plain, dense cloud cover now took on landscapelike formations, a chasm with long flat stretches, steep walls, and sudden pinnacles, in some places white and substantial like snow, in others gray and as hard as rock, while the huge surfaces illuminated by the sunset did not shine or gleam or have a reddish glow, as they could, rather they seemed as if they had been dipped in some liquid. …

Sights like this were not exceptional, on the contrary, hardly a day passed without the sky being filled with fantastic cloud formations, each and every one illuminated in unique, never-to-be-repeated ways, and since what you see every day is what you never see, we lived our lives under the constantly changing sky without sparing it a glance or a thought.

And with that we close for now.

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(Or, This Body Will Come to Alphabetical Or-der!)

She speaks with that half-hearted Ardor

from her perch in the whiteness of Bangor

mouthing what she thinks passes for Candor

with her eye on who might be her next Donor.


She reigns as our national Equivocator:

It’s the one thing that makes her a Factor.

Having failed in her bid to be Governor,

Maine elected her their main Hesitator.


Lacking creds as a dogged Investigator,

Susan presents herself as an impartial Juror

(disregarding the con-job by Kavanaugh)

and the Senate’s most serious Legislator

always ‘troubled’  by some gross Misbehavior.


She’s never been much of a Negotiator

but simply another shrewd Operator

in the dress of a centrist Protector

and the voice of the dullest of Question-ors.


Her true calling was probably a Realtor

instead of a mealy-mouthed Spin-doctor,

a half-truth and quarter-truth Tolerator

whose motives are reliably Ulterior.


Ms. Collins found her niche as a Vacillator.

So who needs to be a gender Warrior,

And who needs to be a government X-rayor,

when you can be a fence-sitting Yea-sayor

and get elected as Senator Zig-zaggor?


Madame Senate-Or Susan M. Collins

No relation, no, none at all

Playing both sides, A to Z, clumsily.

Maybe the only poem ever written about her

The mediocre poem she’s long deserved.


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Everyone knows the U.S. Constitution was flawed, to put it mildly, the day it was ratified by the ninth and decisive state of the original thirteen.*  The document has since been amended 27 times, but that number has not been nearly enough to align our Constitution with the stated ideals of our Declaration or to ensure the survival of democracy and justice.

I’m sure you have your own wish-list of Constitutional fixes, which I invite you to share in the comments.  My Top Ten list may have many in common with yours:

No. 28:  The Second Amendment to this Constitution is hereby repealed.  Congress and The States may regulate the manufacture, sale and possession of military-grade weapons, repeating firearms, and all instruments of mass destruction.

No. 29:  Presidents may not grant self-pardons for their crimes or misdemeanors nor may they grant pardons for acts committed by their family members, as Congress shall define.  Presidents may not grant pardons for acts that have yet to take place or for which charges have not been filed.

No. 30:  Neither Congress or any State shall make any law to obstruct, delay or sanction the medical termination of a pregnancy in the first trimester, nor any life-saving medical procedure for a pregnant woman of any gestational stage.

No. 31:  Any marriage between two persons that is lawfully contracted in one State shall be recognized by all States, and by the United States, as a legal marriage for all purposes.

No. 32:  Election of the President by popular vote.  Section I.  The Electoral College and its related provisions are repealed.  Section II.  The winner of a Presidential election shall be the person who receives a plurality, but no less than 40%, of the votes from all those who may lawfully vote for President.  If no one receives 40%, a national run-off election shall be held between the two leading vote-getters 21 days after Election Day; the person who receives more votes in the run-off shall be elected President.  Section III.  No votes for President shall be counted for a person who, in any of the 90 days prior to Election Day, was serving a felony sentence for a Federal or State crime.  Section IV: Election Day, and the run-off election day if required, shall be a Federal holiday.

No. 33:  Section I:  Justices of the Supreme Court who are confirmed after ratification of this amendment shall serve a 20-year term, or until age 80, or until they resign, or until they are impeached and removed, whichever occurs first.  Section. II:  In light of their duty to impartially uphold the law, no Justice or members of their immediate family may accept gifts, gratitudes, services or other items of more than token value from any domestic, foreign or corporate source.

No. 34:  United States currency and coinage shall not bear the name or likeness of any person who owned slaves, or who waged war against indigenous people who inhabited what is now the United States, or who engaged in insurrection against the United States.  The Treasury shall issue complying currency and coinage within two years of ratification of this Amendment and shall remove non-complying currency and coinage from circulation within three years of ratification.

No. 35:  The Comprehensive Equal Rights Amendment.  Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex or gender preference or gender identity.

No. 36:  The number of members in the House of Representatives shall be based on the most recent decennial Census:  1) The least populous State shall have one representative. 2) The number of representatives for each other State shall be the ratio of its population to that of the least populous State, rounded to the nearest whole number.  3) The District of Columbia shall have one representative with the same privileges as all representatives.†

No. 37:  Persons detained under the military authority of the United States, but who have not been designated Prisoners of War, must be given the opportunity to be remanded to Federal custody and be arraigned in Federal courts within three years of their detention.  The Supreme Court may grant one-year extensions to such detentions.

No. 38:  Upon ratification of this Amendment:  Section I.  The National Dog shall be the Golden Retriever, being necessary to the security of a free State, and so damned lovable.  Section II:  The National Vehicle shall be the Ford F-150, with a Golden Retriever in the passenger seat, and the driver yelling, “Yeehaw!  Is this a great country or what!”

I wonder which of these Amendments would get passed first.  Or ever!  Thoughts?


* The ninth state to ratify (nine was apparently selected so as to assure ratification by a majority of the people of all states) was New Hampshire, on June 21, 1788.  Virginia missed its chance to be the decisive ninth state by four days.
† If the 36th Amendment were in effect now, the House would have 538 members instead of 435.  No state would lose a House member.  The largest states would gain the most: Pennsylvania (+6), New York (+9), Florida (+9), Texas (+13), California (+17).  This illustrates how un-representative and small-state biased both the House and Senate are today.
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