Wednesday, December 1, 2021

​Moths to a Flame – Part 1, The Inspiration

Like moths to a flame, we are once again drawn to spending time on the only place on earth you can see the dark blue of the world’s oceans: the world’s oceans themselves. We are again going cruising, even after having been dismayed and discouraged by the debacle of our last cruise back in 2014, where for a daily cost of almost five hundred dollars a day, we were fed food that was just plain awful. My wife and I had decided to reenact our memorable first cruise aboard the old Norwegian Cruise Lines Sunward II twenty-five years earlier, but things have changed. Out of four main dining room meals, we sent three of them back as inedible. We unbelievably lost weight on a cruise, a holiday Christmas holiday cruise at that! If it had not been for custom made pizzas and pasta on the Lido deck, we might have starved. Obviously we’ve changed cruise lines for our upcoming cruise.

Ilse with the M/S Sunward II, Nassau, November 1989. Our first Cruise.

We met two young, talented musicians from Patagonia during that otherwise lackluster cruise, a delightful, married couple who sang and played guitar. We had friendly chats with Dani and Seba between sets and ended up watching them whenever we had the chanceWe enjoyed their personalities, and we loved their music. We have followed them as SuperNova Duo on Facebook ever since, even through the trials and tribulations of the Covid epidemic which has altered our entire world. 

We watched them from thousands of miles away as they did a tour with Disney Cruises, and later, after Covid struck, when they were at home in Bariloche in the beautiful, snowy mountains of Argentina.  

They announced earlier this year they were coming to Florida with Celebrity Cruises, doing the mandatory quarantines and reassignments off the Florida coast. They were booked on the Celebrity Millennium, headed to Alaska. That’s when our deep seated wanderlust decided to flare up yet once again.

Ilse on the tender "Little Norway" approaching the S/S Norway, St. Thomas, USVI, 1992

An Alaska cruise had always been on our to do list, at least until 2014 when our desire to cruise was prematurely extinguished. I began to study the Millennium. She appears to be an older, medium size ship at around two thousand passengers. She’s perfect for us. No way are we getting on a ship that engorges – and disgorges – five thousand passengers at a time. We decided to pursue the possibility of cruising Alaska, one of our two bucket list cruises - the other is a full transit of the Panama Canal - perhaps in a year or two after the world has stabilized enough to get back on a boat. Covid restrictions and precautions are absolutely paramount to us, we have absolutely no desire to contract the disease. Period.

We were curious about the Millennium's itinerary and when the winter schedule announced the ship was being re-positioned for eastern Caribbean cruises, we decided to finally treat ourselves to a long overdue cruise. We carefully selected a ten-day cruise with lots of open ocean time and several ports we haven't yet visited. 

We also researched Celebrity Cruise Lines and we liked what we found. While many of the changes we’ve come to dislike or avoid are now industry wide standards, Celebrity appears to offer more of our style and relaxation for a more inclusive, higher but still reasonable cost. The extra cost drink packages – and especially WiFi packages, can still blow an unsuspecting cruiser’s budget out of the water, so to speak, but the regular fare, passage services and amenities seem far more in line with what remember from past cruises.

George at Ocho Rios, Jamaica, M/S Seaward, 1993

We have long avoided the “Private Island” beach day where you eat hotdogs and get sand in your bathing suit. We got off the ship for the beach picnic on our very first cruise way back when, but we have no need to compete with the multitudes who stampede ashore for a day of fun and sun. Those stops are a great day to do on-board stuff as the ship is practically empty. No problem, the Millennium doesn’t have a stop scheduled for the subsidized alternative to a real port of call. Our first stop will still be in the Bahamas, but in Nassau. We don't need to disembark in Nassau. Been there, done that, got the straw hat. 

In San Juan, Puerto Rico, M/S Star Princess, 2004

Then we head to old San Juan where we will get to do want we want, COVID restrictions not withstanding. We simply ran out of time during our first visit there and decided to come back someday. Believe me, that’s so much better than wondering what to do after being ashore for an hour amid the jewelry and perfume shops that define the boundary of your security. Been there and done that, too.

Beach Day in Eluthera, M/S Crown Princess, 2012

So we get to cruise and occasionally watch the flying fish while we sit on our balcony and wonder about the phenomenal colors of the deep ocean. In the evening we get to listen to two talented entertainers who are going to wonder about the two enthusiastic, old people sitting in the back, clapping and smiling, and think, “Do we know those people?”

Ilse with the M/S Norwegian Sky, Nassau, 2014 

We'll get the chance to tell them in person they were the spark that got us back doing what we love.


Sunday, November 14, 2021

State of the Art - Manga, Manga


I was bewildered after my wife and I walked into our local BAM this afternoon. Yes, BAM, and therein lies a hint the message on my brand-new T-shirt is painfully accurate. My wife’s new 79th birthday gift to me has “It’s Weird Being the Same Age as Old People” printed boldly across the front.

BAM is the new, hip, catchy name of what used to be Books A Million. That name change took place well before COVID so I’m just making excuses here, but what is new are the third, fourth, and five aisles of the store labeled FUNKO and MANGA. In the distance, I saw BUSINESS and COMPUTERS sections so I knew I wasn’t in a grocery store by mistake.

There must have been several thousand titles in the MANGA section, along with several groups of teenagers chatting and comparing books. I stopped a clerk working several aisles over and asked her to please bring me up to the twenty-first century. She adjusted her face mask and led me back to the FUNKO section.

Looks like a toy store, doesn’t it?” as she waved her hand along shelves filled with plastic characters and avatars from a distant universe. “They’re supposed to be collectibles,” she said. “They sell pretty well, I guess.” She turned to the two full rows of shelves behind us marked MANGA. “At least these are books, sort of.”

What genre are they?” I asked. The teenagers stopped chatting and looked at us as if we were infringing in their domain. One group moved to the end of the row of shelves. I think the clerk smiled behind her COVID mask, at least her eyes sparkled as if she was smiling. It is a young person’s style,” she said as she pulled a book off the shelf and handed it to me. “It isn’t for everybody.”

Oh,” I said as if I knew what I was talking about, “It’s Y-A, Young Adult!”

Not really,” she answered. “They’re picture books.”

I thumbed through one book, and then another, stunned by the graphic, pen and ink art panels with minimal or no dialogue printed anywhere. They looked like comic books in 6” x 9” format. The books seemed to be in sets, with one title having fifteen or twenty subsets. There are thousands of them.

I’m stunned. I had no idea this type of book even existed.” I said

Well, it is one way to get kids to read,” she said as she walked away. “Look on the wall across from us, there is another type of book in the same style over there.”

The whole back wall behind us was a sectioned labeled “Graphic Novels.” I thumbed through several of those as well. The only quick difference I saw was they were printed in color instead of black and white.

I thought the birthday T-shirt was cute, but now it reminds me of an old sweatshirt my mom wore that said “My Go-Go got up and Went-Went.” I have a feeling my go-go got up and went-went just about the time they renamed he store to BAM.,only%20used%20for%20special%20releases.

Saturday, October 23, 2021

College football in Florida


Disgusted, I turned off my TV and decided to find out if my next door neighbor was watching a College football game. Of the four local channels I get over the air on the “Big” four local networks, I could only find games like Slipstich U vs Podunk St. from somewhere west of the Mississippi.

My neighbor was busy making noise and sawdust, but he turned off his sander when he saw me walk into his garage.

“Hey, man, what's up?” he asked, lifting his sawdust-framed glasses so he could see.

“Do you watch Saturday college football?” I asked.

“Nah, man my son goes to UCF in Orlando and my daughter graduated from USF in Tampa. They don’t show those games here in southwest Florida.

“Yeah, I know,” I answered. I’m from Miami and they don’t show any of our games here either. They don’t show anything from the Canes or FIU or even FAU in Boca. They don’t even televise any of the conference games, the SEC, AAC, ACC or Conference USA.

“Well, you know,” he answered, “They cater to the snowbirds, even if they aren’t here yet. They show college football games nobody locally cares about. Maybe it’s cheaper that way.”

“In the old days at least we got to see the Gators or the ‘Noles, but they don’t even show those anymore.” I answered. “By the way, do you know anybody from Utah or New Mexico?”

“Nah, Why?

“How about El Paso or Iowa?” I asked.

He laughed and pulled his glasses down. “Why do you think I don’t watch Saturday College football?”

“Later, Man!”

The sander drowned out any lingering conversation. Maybe YouTube on the Internet might have something to watch.

George Mindling

Port Charlotte, FL

Wednesday, September 1, 2021

​Fooling Mother Nature

According to C.W. Hawes, writing in Tag: Writing for Men, “Male readers prefer, for the most part, the genres of adventure, humor, horror, and science fiction. They also tend to shy away from books that are focused on relationships (such as romance).” 

Anytime I see a writer use initials instead of a full name, I assume the writer simply doesn’t want to be categorized by gender, a practice used for many years by women who didn’t want to be excluded or belittled by a male-dominated industry.

I assume C.W. is British as he/she uses the term “throw a spanner,” which few Americans understand. (spanner is a British term for an open-end wrench). Many male Americans my age can sing the lyrics to Dire Straits’ Industrial Disease without knowing what was thrown, but is that a sign men don’t read? Maybe they just don’t read what women read.

First, C.W. Hawes is male, and second, he is not British. Born in Ohio, he now lives in Texas. I have no idea why he used the term "spanner" instead of wrench, but I’m sure it fit the need. When Joanne Rowling published her first book, the publishers decided to use initials instead of her real name. This was to disguise her being a female so the Harry Potter novels would appeal to a young, male audience, who the publishers had decided would be the primary market. Joanne is now known to the entire world as J.K. Rowling. Many of her readers do not know her first name.

“For most of history, Anonymous was a woman,” wrote Virginia Woolf. So, have we gone half-cycle? Do male authors need to use abbreviations now just to get an agent to call back? One of my favorite writer’s magazines - yes, I have a subscription – lists a current issue’s article’s authors as: Jera, Catherine, Kara, Sharon, Whitney, Amy, Cassandra, Barbara, Estelle, Sadie, Kristie, and Robert. That's ten to one against male writers. What's the opposite of misogynistic?

I don’t have the figures for the book publishing universe about gender diversity, but the realm of writing, editing and marketing has flash-banged into a new reality. I wonder how Tom Clancy would have broken into the Best Sellers lists if his books about submarines and warfare had been universally seen as insensitive or unemotional, basically considered unmarketable in today’s writing environment? Kind of smells too much like machine oil and grimy hands for today's book buying public?

I really think if a man had written Fifty Shades of Grey, he’d have been physically accosted and emotionally assaulted until he “crumbled asunder” in front of the “Me, Too!” movement. A man would have had to have hidden behind his initials just like the women used to do... Oh, wait a minute! E. L. James wrote the now famous, blog-inspired, self-published phenomena that jumped not just to the corporate publishing world, but the movies as well. Erika Mitchell, E.L James’s real name, just threw a wrench into the works. Or was it a spanner?


Thursday, August 12, 2021

​Our “American” History - The Patriot's Tour

We started our “Patriot’s Tour” in Charlottesville, Virginia, originally planning on seeing James Madison’s estate at Montpelier first, but it was closed when we arrived, so we decided to drive the short distance to see Thomas Jefferson's Monticello instead. Monticello, the nationally revered plantation home of Thomas Jefferson, one of the creators of our Constitution, and third President of the United States was next on the list. We were following the American revolution and the great thinkers who founded our country. I always had this trip in the back of my mind and we finally had the opportunity to wander through Virginia at our leisure. Unfortunately, Charlottesville is also the center of the American rebirth of blatant racism which blossomed under President Donald Trump just a few, short years ago. The irony wasn't lost on us.

Monticello isn’t a National Monument open to the public as is the Smithsonian in Washington. While it isn't Disney World prices, it certainly makes one wonder if there are musical rides and talking robots waiting in the corridors ahead. There is a sliding scale for entrance to help alleviate the financial cost depending on what you want to see. While we expected nominal entrance fees, my wife and I were surprised with the cost to see such a “National” treasure. The price of a forty-five minute guided tour of the main floor – and the basement of the homestead – was inconsistent with what we have experienced at other historic sites.

It appears to be an excursion into history reserved for the more affluent. According to their website, the attraction is run by “Thomas Jefferson Foundation, Inc., which owns over 2,500 acres of Jefferson's 5,000-acre plantation. As a private, nonprofit 501(c)3 corporation, the Foundation receives no ongoing federal, state, or local funding in support of its dual mission of preservation and education.” There are extra costs to see the second and third floors, and additional costs to see the gardens. We simply felt like we were being taken advantage of using our patriotism and desire to immerse in our history to their financial profit.

In a moment of enlightenment, Ilse and I decided to visit the where General Robert E. Lee surrendered the Army of Virginia to end the Civil War. We decided to head south to Appomattox, the symbolic location of the end of slavery in the United States. Slavery, the economic system that supplied most of the free labor that sustained the plantation style of the Confederacy, was defeated and the Union was saved just a little further south of our planned trip.
Our journey south started innocently enough by simply asking Waze how to get there from where we were, and had the pleasure of one of the nicest drives of our vacation as we headed down the four-lane divided highway toward Lynchburg. Highway US 29 was a pleasant, easy ride and I was minding my manners, toodling comfortably along in the right lane with a Virginia State trooper just behind us, when I was abruptly informed by our guidance system to turn left in three hundred feet. I waited until the trooper went around us and we made our turn into unknown territory. Why are we taking State Road 739 and where does it go?

When we came to the one-lane railroad underpass that had a sign that read “One way traffic - Blow your horn!” we knew we were in rural Virginia. I was glad we weren’t towing our travel trailer as we slowly proceeded under the old railroad bridge when my muse tapped me on the shoulder - she pops up whenever she wants me to pay attention and asked, "Is this the actual railroad that US Army General George Custer had captured the Confederate supply train that altered the course of the war? 

The next thirty miles or so of twisty, backwoods, two lane road was a slow-motion thrill. The beauty of the area and the cleanliness and pride of the residents is worth a trip of its own. But, soon, I needed gas.

We pulled into the town of Appomattox, and drove past the gas station I wanted. We doubled back to fill up the gas tank. It isn’t a busy place. We checked our road map – yes, I use one religiously - and compared the local road signs that seemed to point off somewhere in that direction over there somewhere… and decided to go that way.

After one stop at a memorial marker on the top of a hill, we saw the main park entrance a half-mile away.

That's where the U.S. Park service recreated the Appomattox Courthouse and the surrounding buildings in 1964. The original buildings were burned down some thirty-five years after the end of the Civil War, but by whom is still considered a mystery. It seems to fit the time frame of the pinnacle of power of the resurgent Klan which continued well into the twentieth century. Today it is called the Ku Klux Klan, but at its height of popularity forty years after the surrender at Appomattox it was simply called the Ku Klux. 

The location at Appomattox is authentic and the buildings have been rebuilt. The old stage coach road has been isolated and maintained as it once was. I’m sure the buildings look better than they did in 1865, but they only symbolically portray the image of the four-year long war’s conclusion that was unexpectedly thrust upon them in a world-shaping event.

Missing from the Appomattox historic site is the soul. I had no feeling of wonder there. The buildings are freshly painted and properly maintained and the grounds are immaculate. The Crepe Myrtles flower beautifully along the parking lot, but there is no overpowering feeling of remorse or sorrow, joy or triumph. It is simply there. The heart was burned out by the white supremacist's whose grandchildren marched four years ago in Charlottesville.

There is a gaping hole in our identity that we have yet to heal. It will take more than new buildings and fresh paint. We were awakened to the cruel reality that slavery slowly and methodically has morphed before our very eyes into a sadistic, vengeful retribution of defeat known today as white supremacy.

Perhaps Appomattox isn't really that far from Charlottesville after all. 

Friday, July 16, 2021



(Written 7-30-2015)

Whoever thought a 72 year old, white American male would be appalled at the thought of an innocent, unarmed creature being lured, even taunted into a gruesome, unnecessary shooting death by a white, armed hunter.

Well, I am, and I don't understand the reaction of the rest of the world. No, I really don't understand why everyone mourns a lion lured to its death to satisfy someone’s ego as I do, but not the death of seventeen year old Trevor Martin, also lured and taunted by an armed adversary he didn’t know was stalking him. 

Maybe if Cecil had been a black lion with a hoodie instead of the ordinary, King of the Jungle type, nobody would care, just like they don't care about Americans killing innocent, unarmed blacks daily as if it were a field day. I am appalled. I am really appalled.



I was introduced to a neighbor's son not too long ago, who, within two minutes, told me he was an ex-Navy Seal. My Air Force veteran’s fib detector went off immediately. Of course we didn't call it a "fib detector" in the military, it had a more cynical name based on a great ingredient for growing mushrooms, but it hadn't gone off that loudly since 2012 when some barfly in Wildwood, Florida, told me he used to fly the airplane we were removing from in front of his American Legion post. The “airplane” he supposedly flew was in fact a Mace cruise missile, one that I worked on for eight years.

The aircrew members, fleet commanders, weapons mechanics, launch officers, submariners, anyone who sat at a control panel with millions of tons of explosives literally inches, or seconds, away from their control, were cloaked. They were cloaked by security procedures, and often by political situations as well. They sat in silence, often in boredom, minute after minute, hour after hour, day after day, shift after shift, startled, often terrified, when the klaxon horns went off. 

They did it for almost thirty years while cities, military bases, naval ports and airbases were dialed in as targets for the nuclear missiles that sat sixty feet above them or behind them. Are we practicing destroying the earth or our we really doing it this time? Is this real or another exercise that will stop just short of an actual launch? Did the Soviets really invade West Germany or did China roll into South Korea? Is Japan under attack or are we just pretending once again? You know, for practice.

Our nuclear power, not only at home but in Europe and the Far East as well, was the only possible way for us to offset the numerical superiority the military forces Communist regimes had aligned against us. Don’t believe me? You are among the many Americans who suffer from amnesia or naivete. You probably believe Captain American will sweep down and save us from malignant adversaries set on destroying our country. No, it was the guy next door. He wore a cloak then, and most likely still does today. Most who wore the cloak knew they would kill millions of people if the war order came. People they would never see.

Do they still wear the cloak? Your neighbor who proudly boasts he was a Navy Seal or a Green Beret or a Ranger? Probably not. More likely your neighbor is wearing the invisibility cloak inside out so it shimmers with glory. Forty years ago all the wannabe heroes I met while I was in the service were “Green Berets,” even though the majority of the braggarts I met didn’t even know what an MOS was. No, I’m not going to tell you except in the Air Force it was called AFSC and in the Navy it's your rating. Today, thanks to media suffocation, most of the wannabes claim they are Navy Seals, even though you can tell by looking many of them couldn’t swim across their own bath tubs. Real Navy Seals cringe and the old timers just smile.

The people who won the cold war sit next to you in restaurants and shop with you at Walmart. But you don’t know who they are and probably never will. They still wear the cloak. They wear it the way it was meant to be worn, not inside out. They don’t tell you what their job was.

You cannot conceive what the cloak-wearer’s finger tips represented to mankind. The first time a live nuclear weapon was delivered to my unit’s first operational launch bay, the launch crew Non-Commissioned Officer in Charge (NCOIC), who had trained with the same launch crew in the United States at the Tactical Missile Training School in Orlando and practiced for over a year with his crew on site, broke down and cried. The operation was suspended as the maintenance and launch crews watched in stunned silence. Would the powers-that-be-pull the whole crew, or would they proceed replacing the only the overwhelmed crew chief? The operation was briefly interrupted, but soon finished by the book. It only took minutes before the entire crew adjusted and the insertion was completed.

There are the Cold Warriors you didn’t know were cloaked until they unexpectedly let it slip. It is understandable. They served every corner of the world the United States had military bases or Naval Fleets. Many units weren’t even acknowledged, such as the 498th Tactical Missile Group on Okinawa. Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara ordered the only Air Force nuclear missile unit in the Far East not be identified by name, only its initials.

I think that cloak today is nothing more than a revelation of our American society.

It is those who did, and those who want everybody to think they did.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

Of Puppies and Purple Skin

Not all of my skin is purple, just the parts exposed to the sharp, little teeth of our daughter's new four-month old puppy. The skin on my arm is not normally purple, I’m just incredibly sensitive to bruising and scrapes, a condition that comes with age. My wife, who also suffers from the same process known as “aging,” calls it “onion skin.” All it takes to turn our skin purple is a four-month old puppy that is a lot faster than we are.

I tried to convince myself I am as physically capable now as I was just a few decades ago. I know it isn’t true, but I do my best to maintain the myth that old age is just a state of mind when I know full-well that my daughter’s puppy has made our arms and hands look like we suffer from a major skin disease. Besides, their reflexes make us look like we move in slow motion. The puppy probably thinks I am just another wiggly chew toy that squeaks. The louder I squeak, the more fun it is to chew!

I gave up climbing on the house roof a few years back when I realized I couldn’t swing my legs around the aluminum ladder to climb back down. Insecurity swept over me as I stood holding the ladder looking at the grass some twenty feet below me. I carefully, slowly, finally got a secure step on a ladder rung and climbed back down to reality. Gone were the natural abilities from when I scampered up a cylindrical, aluminum tube only forty-four inches across but forty-feet long, mounted at a seventeen degree angle, in dim light with an Air Force tool bag in my hand while wearing combat boots. Gone was the inherent sense of balance, the quickness, the absolute confidence that falling wasn’t going to happen.

I knew damn well I was about to fall off the roof, though. I remember thinking “If I get down from here in one piece, I’m not ever going back up another ladder!” Believe me, aging isn’t just a state of mind. My mind knew I was in a precarious situation that I had sorely underestimated. To paraphrase comedian Flip Wilson, I let my ego write a check my body couldn't cash.

Taz was a seventeen-year old Golden Retriever that had been a real test for us when he was only two years old, but our arms never looked like we rolled around in barbed wire. He was our last dog, and while we miss all of our wonderful dogs, we have decided not to add any more to our family. All our dogs developed into wonderful companions, each with its own personality, to become real members of our family. We know our daughter’s puppy will do the same for them.

Someday, in a weak, quiet moment many years from now, long after the latest cute bundle of fur has passed on, they’ll probably say, “You know, we need a puppy…”

They may not have arthritis by then and maybe they might still be climbing up and down ladders. There is however, a real, real good chance they’ll get purple skin.

Friday, July 9, 2021

Writer Identification Guidelines

I’m always looking to improve my writing, so I downloaded a free writer’s guide advertised on the Internet as essential to succeeding financially as a writer. Financial success at my age is mainly based using coupons and careful redemption of my credit card bonus points. I’m retired and have no Pollyanna dreams of a garage full of Lamborghini's just because my muse brilliantly nudges my fingers around a computer keyboard. I may be the only reader who enjoys my writing, but then all authors enjoy their own writing, I write compulsively and continuously, I just don’t make any money at it.

I will never be successful like J. K. Rowling - 500 million copies - and Mickey Spillane – 225 million copies – who both triggered the precious “Gimme more!” response in their readers. I would love to spark that desire in millions of readers, but I’d still write for free. That’s one difference between a professional writer and a compulsive writer.

Don’t get me wrong, the free guide for copy-writing as a profession is an outstanding piece of work, invaluable if you want to write and still make mortgage payments, but it subtly defines the major differences between compulsive writers like me, usually untrained, and those who write because they are really good at it. Most have been trained, and usually at great financial expense or time. There are, however, more than a few autodidact writers who have succeeded in the commercial or academic literary word. That’s what I am. No, not a successful writer, but an autodidact.

It’s the difference between reality and fantasy, the difference between vocation and avocation; the difference between work and a hobby. Yes, hobby, the money losing proposition you get to deduct from your Federal Income Taxes. Compulsive writing is as much like owning a bass boat or a hang-glider. I can’t think of a single professional hang glider pilot although professional bass fishing guides can do quite well. Most of those people are autodidacts. I can’t think of a single university that has a baccalaureate degree in sport fishing. Golf? Maybe, but not fly casting. Yet there are masters at fly casting. They are all autodidacts.

And therein lies the difference between the two types of writers: the ones who paid to learn how to write and the rest of us who hammer away simply because we enjoy doing it. That’s the whole point of a writer's group: we amateurs and semi-pros get to compare notes and pretend we can get out of a new Corvette without embarrassing ourselves.


Wednesday, July 7, 2021



I recently submitted an article to a writers magazine for consideration and they in turn forwarded an electronic copy of their latest issue as a teaser for my possible subscription. I had read bits and pieces of prior submissions and browsed through reviews of their material, but had never seen a full issue of the magazine. I had hopes my writing would meet their criteria but by the time I finished reading, I had changed my mind. It appeared to me the entire collection had been cleansed with an sterilizer.

The stories were without a hint of blood or sweat, ugh, sweat, but evenly saturated with contrived, saline adjusted tears. Apparently tears lead to book sales. I wondered how many passes through a computer it took to find the specific words used to create the carefully engineered, structured product that superficially appeared as ingenuous writing. Every piece in the collection could easily have been written by the same author, one who spoke precise, articulate English, rooted in Shakespearean grammar, with access to a large, unlimited - and ingenious - thesaurus.

There were seven separate articles written by seven supposedly different writers in the anthology that sparked my epiphany. I had never read any of the seven writers beforehand so I had no idea what to expect from any of them, except one thing: I expected them to all be different. The subjects and styles were all different and even the genres were a cross section of any good readers magazine, but by the time the articles got to me, they had been homogenized and cleansed of any personality. They were all quite sanitary and boringly bland. Elevator music. Musicians restricted to only one tempo or rhythm, regardless of how many notes they played. I write this knowing full well there are people who listen to Baroque endlessly, but they know they like Baroque and don’t pretend to be listening to something else.

What were the stories like before they were force-fed through the corporate/academic process that produced the anthology? At least several stories had great premises and interesting plots. Only one, however, had any characters I’d turn the page to know more about. I knew all I wanted to know about most of the non-dimensional protagonists in the first paragraph or two. The dialog used by the characters in each of the stories was as interesting as reading the end-user agreement that comes with your computer’s software programs.

There are ten thousand ways… No, wait, is it a myriad of ways? No, I’m using the word myriad as a adjective, not a noun. Right? My muse is getting an upset stomach.

How about, “there are many” ways to spend my time that are more exciting than reading contrived, improbable but somehow remarkably familiar stories that all fit the mold of salable material delivered with the empathy of a robot.

Sorry, my Internet is down right now, so I’m out of literary antiseptic.


Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Still TPC


Anyone remember the antagonist – bad guy – in the movie “The President’s Analyst?” Does anyone at least remember the movie? It starred James Coburn as a secret agent who proved TPC was responsible for trying to take over the world. James Coburn, you know, the switchblade throwing cowboy in the Magnificent Seven? Well, this isn’t going as I planned.

If your memory is in the cloud and the Internet is down, TPC was going to implant Cerebrum Communicators in everybody’s brain and, well, I’m sure you know where that led. The plot is easily found on Wikipedia and other Internet sources, so if you plan on writing your Master’s Thesis on conspiracy theories, make sure you cite your sources accurately. You may have recalled by now TPC stood for The Phone Company.

TPC was the same group who sent an unmarked car with two of its people to my next door neighbor on SW 36th Street in Miami one evening in 1958. Jim C. was caught cheating TPC because he had surreptitiously installed a second telephone in his bedroom but hadn’t declared it to the TPC. If you don’t remember James Coburn, you definitely don’t remember when you paid a fee for every telephone in your house. A second extension cost extra, and TPC monitored ring current to every telephone number to make sure no one cheated. Any anomaly in the current required to ring your bell warranted a visit from the people in the unmarked car. Jim agreed to pay the “fee” for usage going back several months and we heard no more about it.

Skip ahead to what I did a just few moments ago, some sixty years later, when I blocked yet another scam telephone call. I know it was a scam because the call was from my own phone and I have it in my hand and as forgetful as I am at times, I know I didn’t just call me.

Are these calls being paid for? I seriously doubt anyone can defraud TPC by skirting or spoofing outbound calls. Are honest businesses being scammed into thinking these fraudulent, million dollar charges are really incurred by them? Somebody is paying big time for carrier access.

Do you think scammers are escaping the revenue sweep of TPC? I doubt it. It looks to me like TPC has found a way to make lemonade out of just about everything. Where is James Coburn when you need him?


Monday, June 7, 2021

​Of Geckos and Anoles

Every time I hear someone call one of our local, miniature dinosaurs a gecko, I want to stand up and yell at the top of my voice: THAT’S NOT A GECKO!

A constant, almost hourly barrage of television commercials for a car insurance company with a very similar name that calls their animated, iconic lizard a gecko has subliminally convinced our couch-potato, television addicted civilization all lizards here in Florida are geckos.

The effect of the media bombardment has been astonishing. It seems nobody cares what the brown, sometimes green, lizard running across the leaves on your hibiscus really is. Its identity slips slowly into the complacency that makes existence in today’s mind-numbing world acceptable. I wouldn’t be surprised me if someone asked, “Do they really talk?” Right. And they drive little red sports cars, too! The natural instinct to find the quickest, easiest path through our daily rituals is the culprit for our acceptance of blissful, inconsequential ignorance.

Oh, we called them by the wrong names when I grew up in South Florida, too, but it wasn’t a willing disregard of facts. It was simply pre-Internet naivete. There was no deluge of information available at our fingertips back then. We still did everything in longhand, which today is called cursive. If I wanted to research what everyone called them, it meant a bus ride to the library and even then it might still come out as the colloquial name. We called them chameleons.

We called the harmless little lizards that turned from bright green to brown if you put them on a paper grocery bag chameleons because they could change colors. My mom told me they were even sold as chameleons in certain novelty or dime stores back in the late 30’s and early 40’s, complete with dainty golden collars and attaching chains. I assumed most of them starved to death while attached to some lady’s lapel. We allowed them to roam wild on our backyard screened porch - oh, sorry, today that’s called a lanai - because they ate bugs.

This isn’t the first time television has corrupted my Florida culture. Try to find Dolphin on your sea-food restaurant menu. It’s still there, but it’s now known as Mahi-Mahi. Why? Because a television show from years ago convinced the masses they were eating one of the stars of their show, a Bottle-nose Dolphin known as “Flipper” instead of the pelagic, deep sea fish the Cubans call Dorado. Restaurants changed the name to the Hawaiian name, Mahi-mahi, and the delicious fish has regained its popularity. Flipper is now safe from hungry seafood neophytes.

It has been many years since the Green Anole dominated the local gardens and shrubs of south Florida. It has been displaced - but not eliminated - in recent years by its dark-brown cousin from the Bahamas. They both share size and many physical attributes, their colors being the obvious difference. Several variations of the Bahamian Anole develop a ridge along the spine that resembles a small dinosaur. All males have the same red neck sack, or fan, boisterously inflated when attempting to attract females.

The Green Anoles, sometimes known today as Carolina Anoles, and the now numerically superior brown Bahamian Anole, and even the latest newcomer, the relatively large and rather unfriendly Cuban, or Knight Anole, all share one common trait: They all live here in Florida and THEY ARE NOT GECKOS!


Friday, June 4, 2021

Rebirth of the UFO – An Jaundiced Analysis


Have you ever noticed when something falls out of public interest, someone – usually with a vested interest in keeping that subject in the spotlight – manages to rekindle enough controversy to reignite the average citizen’s curiosity? UFOs are passé, so how about UAPS? Wow, now I’m interested! Change the name to Unidentified Aerial Phenomena and a whole new generation perks up their ears.

Unidentified Flying Objects – UFOs – are as outdated as calling relocatable school buildings portable. The word portables for schools has been stripped from out lexicon, even though when I went to Olympia Heights Elementary School in Miami in the 1950’s, every building in the entire school was a “portable.” But I stray here. That name of the portable classroom was changed for image purposes, apparently to help salvage my self-esteem. Someone thought it sounded more civilized to say “Relocatable.”

While UFO’s also suffered from an image problem – they are associated with people who wear colanders on their heads and swear they’ve had their credit cards stolen by little green men – the real problem with UFOs was people simply lost interest.

Before I go any further, I need to ask you several questions; When you are riding in a car looking straight ahead, does the landscape move from side to side? In my experience, it only moves left or right when the car I’m in is turning. When the car quits turning, so does the landscape. If I watch a vehicle I am following, the relative size of the vehicle stays the same unless I am catching it – it gets bigger – or if it is pulling away from me – then it gets smaller. If I look out the window to my side, the landscape whizzes by and nothing keeps up with me except once when my dad was racing a train. Second question: Ever look through a “Heads Up” display? Me neither, but I know it doesn’t look like riding on a merry-go round holding a camera they way they did when they shot the sky-scooter scenes in the first Star Wars film.

Not many Air Force veterans know which state the famous Area 51 is in, much less what goes on there. Suffice to say I spent eight years in the Air Force and I don’t have a clue. I know we have secret airplanes and some really neat stuff we don’t want anyone to know about that we have to fly to test. Somewhere away from prying eyes and Russian spies. I’m pretty sure that’s what goes on in Area 51.

Let me continue. I have no doubt we don’t understand everything we see. That’s why the word “Unidentifiable” is the common link between UFOs and UAPs, but I know horse pockey when I see it, and I’m seeing a lot of it lately.

I have a feeling the Navy Tailhook gang is having a grand laugh at our expense with some really cool, albeit strangely repetitive, oddly familiar "videos." More power to them, it keeps the Qanon nonsense off the news media.


Sunday, May 9, 2021

Well, So Much for the Romans.


I stood and looked in awe at the Porta Nigra in Trier, Germany in early 1962. Not only Germany’s oldest building, but the gateway to an Empire! The famed Roman Empire!

From here, the Romans conquered the British Isles and much of Europe. The Roman Limes extended from Provenz Germania Superior to the border with the Germanic tribes to the east in Provence Raetia. The Romans built streets that still exist, and you can still walk on if you visit the Cathedral in Koln, just north of Trier.

I’ve been enthralled with the prowess of Roman engineering and logical skills ever since my senior year in high school, way back in !(^) - yes, that’s intentional - when a book was circulated among my class about the Circus Maximus. To me, the astonishing technology and perseverance was the pinnacle of human intellect, perhaps the basis of our own civilization.

But no more!

A recent article by Ingrid Faust in the New Yorker Staatz-Zeiting & German Times spoiled it all. According to Frau Faust, Roman Emperor Augustus is said to have been such a great fan of asparagus that he had his favorite vegetables brought into the games on his orders. Asparagus! Really, And it gets worse!

Apparently Cato the Elder described the exact cultivation method of asparagus around 175 BC. The Romans may have developed this odd taste for stringy, tasteless vegetables from the Greeks, but, honestly, I was never impressed with the ancient Greeks. Now I have to revise my opinion of the Romans.

I don’t dare publicize my opinion of the hallowed White Asparagus, developed by the French in the 16th century - obviously they thought it needed improvement -  with my German friends, they may not let me back into the country. According to, “white asparagus (weißer spargel) is celebrated (literally) in Germany with festivals from April to June. If you’ve never had white asparagus, it is exactly like green asparagus but without chlorophyll (the green in plants that helps generate oxygen in the photosynthesis process). It has to do with the deliberate harvesting process. Germans like it because it’s sweeter and more tender than the green variety.”

One of my favorite pieces was from Huffington post a few years back was entitled “How to cook asparagus you’ll actually want to eat.” Really, It’s at

but in my mind, it doesn’t work, either. even has a page for the top seven asparagus substitutes. If you search the Internet, you’ll find myriad articles like “Why can I NOT cook asparagus right?” and “Why does asparagus make your pee smell?”

Obviously, the Romans did not have the Internet. I don’t know what the German excuse is.

And this is from a writer who likes fried Okra!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

End Times

I’ve been told we metamorphose every seven years. If that’s true, I feel sorry for dogs. But, I know it’s true. Really. I turned 78 last year, and I can feel and actually measure the effect of memory loss. It’s no longer the funny anecdote about losing your keys or putting your wallet in the glove box, then searching for the wallet for two days because you’ve never done that before. It is now a fact of life. My life, anyway.

If you don’t suffer from the unpreventable condition that leaves you standing in front of some irritated clerk because you forgot your wallet – for the very first time in your life - you can only make light of the condition and blame it on just getting older. Hahahaha.

To me, it is terrifying. I have always been known for my remarkable memory, and yet I can’t remember what I was going to write about when I sat down in front of my computer. Well, too bad! I’m here now so this is what you’re going to get. Is it the first sign of the dreaded Alzheimer’s disease or is it simply the fate every human who is fortunate to live as long as I have? Am I simply enduring the aging process as I slowly grind along toward my final breath? Well, not as long as I can reach this keyboard!

It will probably cause undue stress on my family if I print this now, so maybe I’ll tuck it away and let them find this in my pile of papers left in one of several boxes scattered in the attic. Yes, I can still climb the pull down ladder and climb the rickety, cheaply made access to our semi-attic. We live in Florida, there are only pretend attics here. You would not believe how many people down here in Florida step on the poster-board attic floor, that is in reality only the flimsy ceiling over the living room, thinking they are up north somewhere where attics actually have weight-bearing floors. At least I haven’t forgotten to step only on the cross beams. How stupid and old would I feel if my leg were waving down from the ceiling in front of someone’s face sitting on the commode in the bathroom?

Some of you older people know what I’m doing here, but most of the younger ones won’t have a clue. I’m putzing around on the keyboard, waiting for my muse to take over and finish what I sat down to write in the first place. Trust me, she dictates what I write. I sit back when I’m done and wonder where the hell that came from? Come to think of it, maybe she’s writing this as I lament my inability to recall what I was trying to write when I sat down.

And here I thought my muse had abandoned me! I haven’t heard a word, or more correctly a keystroke from her in a year and a half now, ever since I turned Seventy-Seven. Well, some silly stuff for my Blogs, not anything of substance.

Ow! That hurt! She just slapped me against the head! OK, OK! So blogging was just an excuse to put pen to paper – I remember that from English class some sixty-five years ago – and I should appreciate whatever it is I remembered from who I was. Or rather, what I did as opposed to what I said or wrote.

Fickle is as fickle does, I should have known better. Oh, wait! I hear laughter from somewhere. I still don’t remember why I sat down here in the first place. The laughter is not infectious or endearing. My muse is getting as old as I am.

Oh! I remember now! I have the definition of time! Time is simply defined by… Oh, well. Let’s see what else she comes up with.