Strange and Wonderful

In case you didn’t notice, we’ve slid into a parallel universe.

Republicans taking sides with Democrats … Democrats siding with Republicans … liberal columnists ripping liberals … conservative commentators praising liberals … Wile E. Coyote sending flowers to the Roadrunner!

OK, that last one, the Roadrunner might want to check for a bomb inside the vase, but the rest is actually happening in this alternate reality.

Two of President Obama’s own former Defense Secretaries, Leon Panetta and Robert Gates, criticized his handling of Syria. Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul lambasted conservatives John Boehner and Karl Rove for selling out the people.

Liberal columnists Amy Goodman and Maureen Dowd sneered at Obama’s foreign policy decisions, and conservative columnist Michelle Malkin trashed Republican Jeb Bush for pushing the “shoddy, costly, intrusive, and unconstitutional Common Core standards.”

Headlines that could only happen in this parallel universe:

Blind Partisan Support for One’s Own Side Abandoned!

Russian President Putin Saves Obama from War Folly!

Syrian Dictator Admits He Has Chemical Weapons, Offers to Give Them Up!

64-year-old Woman Swims from Cuba to Florida!

Seattle Seahawks Favored to Win the Super Bowl!

Hannah Montana Does Lewd Dance on TV!

These are strange and wonderful times in the kingdom, my lord.



Reality check

“Every day in every way, I am getting better and better.”

That’s a mantra that the power-of-positive-thinking folks pushed on us, and I really bought into it. The idea is that if your brain believes something, your body makes it real.

It works just fine when you’re 15, and even when you’re 25 and probably 35. Because every day in every way, you really CAN get better and better. But then one day you wake up and you’re staring your 60th birthday in the face and every day in every way you are getting worse and worse. And that whole positive-thinking thing starts to look like a crock.

Merry Christmas!

These kids today

“But I tell ya, these kids today …” Comics have been starting bits with that line for a thousand years. Like this rant from Dave Barry: “These kids today don’t know how easy they have it, with their iPhones and their iPads and their atmosphere consisting of 21 percent oxygen and 78 percent nitrogen and 1 percent various other gases. When I was a youngster we didn’t have ANYTHING. We didn’t even have HAIR. We sat around naked in the cold, sucking on rocks for nourishment. But you never heard us complain, and by God we licked the Great Depression and won World War II. No, wait, that was our parents’ generation. But we faced challenges of our own. Junior year abroad, for example. That was no picnic.”

We interrupt this comedy sketch for the point of today’s bloggy thing: These kids today are smarter, faster and better than we were in every way. Well, maybe not EVERY way, but most. My son Brad and daughter Tara amaze me with their routine daily brilliance, and now I have GRANDCHILDREN who are smarter than me. And that fills me with joy. But enough of this maudlin crap, back to the comedy. This is from a Monty Python sketch with four old Yorkshire men sitting around having wine and one-upping each other:

“But you know, we were ‘appy in those days, although we were poor.”

“BECAUSE we were poor!”


“My old dad used to say to me, ‘Money doesn’t bring you ‘appiness, son!'”

“‘E was right!”


“I was ‘appier then and I had nothin’! We used to live in this tiny old tumble-down ‘ouse with great big ‘oles in the roof!”

“‘Ouse! You were lucky to live in a ‘ouse! We used to live in one room, all 26 of us, no furniture, half the floor was missing. We were all ‘uddled together in one corner for fear of fallin’!”

“You were lucky to ‘ave a room! We used to ‘ave to live in the corridor!”

“Oh, we used to DREAM of livin’ in a corridor! Would ‘ave been a PALACE to us! We used to live in an old water tank on a rubbish tip. We got woke up every mornin’ by ‘avin’ a load of rottin’ fish dumped all over us! ‘Ouse, ha!”

“Well, when I say ”ouse,’ it was just a ‘ole in the ground covered by a sheet of tarpaulin. But it was a ‘ouse to us!”

“We were EVICTED from our ‘ole in the ground! We ‘ad to go and live in a lake!”

“You were lucky to ‘ave a lake! There were 150 of us livin’ in a shoebox in the middle of the road!”

“A cardboard box?”


“You were lucky! We lived for three months in a rolled-up newspaper in a septic tank! We used to ‘ave to get up every mornin’ at six o’clock and clean the newspaper, go to work down ‘t the mill, 14 hours a day, week in, week out, for sixpence a week, and when we got ‘ome, our dad would thrash us to sleep with his belt!”

“LUXURY! We used to ‘ave to get out of the lake at three o’clock in the mornin’, clean the lake, eat a handful of hot gravel, work 20 hours a day at mill for tuppence a month, come ‘ome, and dad would beat us around the ‘ead and neck with a broken bottle — if we were LUCKY!

“Well, of course, we ‘ad it tough. We used to ‘ave to get up out of the shoebox in the middle of the night and lick the road clean with our tongues! We ‘ad to eat half a handful of freezin’ cold gravel, work 24 hours a day at mill for fourpence every six years, and when we got ‘ome, our dad would slice us in two with a bread knife!”

“Right! I ‘ad to get up in the mornin’ at ten o’clock at night, ‘alf an hour before I went to bed, eat a lump of cold poison, work 29 hours a day down at mill and pay the owner for permission to come to work, and when we got ‘ome, our dad would kill us and dance about on our graves, singin’ ”allelujiah’!”

“Oh, ay. And you try and tell the young people of today that, and they won’t believe you!”

“No, no they won’t!”

Dylan Thomas, whoever he was

A friend of mine has been dying for five years … well, yes, we’re all dying of course … but he has some mechanical thingy that keeps his heart ticking, so while his body and brain fall apart piece by piece, his heart will just beat on and on forever. Please don’t put one of those in me. I think about these things too much because I’ll turn 60 in, oh, approximately something like 47 days.

So, yes, I think about the finish line. My blood pressure and cholesterol levels are higher than my doc would like, my prostate gland feels like it’s larger than a walnut (so I’m told), and I knew this rainstorm was coming because my lower back started to ache. And I have a pain in the neck (literally).

But after years of agreeing with Dylan Thomas when he wrote, “Do not go gently into that good night,” I’ve now decided that he was full of booze-soaked crap. Let other people hook up electronics to their organs and pump themselves full of meds as they “rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

As for me, I can’t think of a sweeter final scene than to go gently into that good night.

My momma always said …

Bronze Star, Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit and so many other honors you can’t count them on all your fingers and toes … and also an adulterer. Gen. Petreaus proves to be just another human being. The yin and yang, dark and light, they run through all of us. I’ve never been unfaithful and indeed have found myself on the hurtin’ side of infidelity, but this I know: we are, all of us, flawed.

The election is over. Some celebrate, others grouse.

Neither Obama nor Romney is the demon we saw on TV ads. Nor is either saint or savior. For that matter, the saint has never existed who was perfection … by that, I mean the perfection of fairy-tale minds that ache for Superman in a universe of Forrest Gumps.

Life is like a box of chocolates.

Royal Nipples and Other Stories

Random thoughts on random knots:

Did anyone question whether Kate Middleton had breasts and nipples? What’s the big deal about the photos? And why did I Google it?

If the Super Bowl can’t be the Game of the Century because they’re going to have another one next year, why does everyone absolutely HAVE to have an iPhone 5?

If Muslims kill people and riot in 50 cities because of a bad American film, do we dare show them “Christmas with the Kranks?”

True story: In July, Mozart Morris of Virginia received forms in the mail so he could register to vote. Perhaps he would have registered, except he’s a poodle, and he’s been dead for two years. The forms came from the Voter Participation Center, which tries to register minorities, young people and unmarried women. No word from Mozart’s former master on whether the pooch leaned toward Obama or Romney.

Also a true story: A 69-year-old man got on a train in San Fransisco Wednesday, and when it arrived in Chicago, his luggage, cell phone and medication were on the train, but the man was gone. CNN said he had “disappeared.” I think that’s the way I’d like to go. One minute I’m there, and the next I have simply vanished.

New test results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress show that high skool girlz are much bedder wriders than boyz.


Murderers, Traitors and Underachievers

Turns out, I’m related to Lizzie Borden and Benedict Arnold. A hatchet murderer and a traitor. Allegedly. But I’m also related to Susan B. Anthony (of silver dollar fame) and James Sanborn, who co-founded Chase & Sanborn Coffee (but sold his share before it got really big). And I’m related to several other famous and infamous people whose names I have forgotten because none of it matters. Does it really matter to you what heroes and villains reside in your family tree?

I think I’d rather not know. It’s like your IQ number. I never wanted to know mine because if it’s high, I’d feel like an underachiever, and if it’s low, I’d feel ashamed.

I’m not proud of Susan B. Anthony, and I’m not embarrassed by Lizzie Borden. I didn’t advise  either one of them. One of my forebears sailed to America on the Mayflower, and another was King of England (I’m not sure which one, but I think it was King Arthur, who I’m pretty sure was a fictional character).

Thanks to their mother, our two children are direct descendants of Arthur Flegenheimer, aka Dutch Schultz, the notorious mobster of the 1920s and 30s. This, I have to admit, interests me. After Schultz was gunned down in a New Jersey restaurant in 1935, it was said he left $7 million in cash, buried or hidden somewhere. Seems to me, our children ought to have a rightful claim to part of that … if it ever turns up.

Oh, and I finally found out what my IQ is. I agreed to have it tested for someone else’s master’s degree project in psychology. Turns out, I’m an underachiever after all.


Say It Ain’t So, BO

I’m not a Republican. But I can’t figure out why it’s a good thing for a President to make a video plea for all African-American voters to turn out and support him.

I know! It can’t be true, right? He’d never dare suggest anything like, “we blacks all have to stick together.” That would be divisive. Anti-American, even. I mean, this is the Great Melting Pot, where we are to be defined not by the color of our skin, but by the content of our character. But here’s the video, and it’s The Man himself, his own face, his own words, his own website:

President’s Video

If a white candidate filmed a video like that, asking for all Caucasian folks to support him, he’d be hooted down for the racist bigot he is. “We whites have to stick together” would be a disgusting and intolerable message. Some might rightly respond to that by saying, “They’re gonna have y’all back in chains.”

Two Lost Souls Pass in the Night

Yes, that picture atop “The Media Room” website is indeed our own media room. A custom man-cave with eight La-Z-Boy recliners on two tiers, large plasma HD mounted on the wall, 5.1 Surround Sound, Blu-Ray player and a collection of over 550 movies. Oh, and a popcorn machine.

Last night, I felt embarrassed or sad or conflicted about all my comforts and good fortune. I was walking out of a McDonald’s when I locked eyes with a young woman sitting in the dark on the restaurant’s patio (if McDonald’s can be called a restaurant). She looked about 30, clean, well-groomed. She smiled at me and said, “Are you going to ask me to leave?”

No, I was just going to my car.

“Because I was just about to leave. Don’t worry.” Her voice was husky and rough, like a longtime smoker.

“It’s OK.” As I walked away, she continued talking about god knows what, and I instantly realized she was homeless and not completely right in the head. And it made me uncontrollably sad.

This wasn’t a grubby bearded alcoholic old man wearing four sets of tattered clothes pushing a shopping cart. This was a nice-looking young woman who had no place to live, no one to turn to, perhaps a mental issue, and all she wanted to do was sit outside a McDonald’s in the questionable safety of a dim light. And if someone said she had to leave, she would.

And I was driving home to a media room with eight La-Z-Boy recliners and a popcorn machine. What do we do? Bring them all into the warmth of our homes? Hand them a few bucks? What?

I did nothing. I thought about it all the way home and felt sad and almost wept. And I did nothing. Damn me all to hell.


It’s Happiness Happens Month!

I’m David Cunningham with your KPTZ news update, and here’s what’s happening. It’s Wednesday, August First, and that means today marks the beginning of World Breastfeeding Week, National Catfish Month, Get Ready for Kindergarten Month and Happiness Happens Month. Seriously. We are not making any of this up.

And do not make fun of Happiness Happens Month. Last week, we here at KPTZ took a light approach to our report on a Port Townsend event in connection with World Breastfeeding Month, which unleashed a flood of angry callers, and both were unhappy with our cavalier attitude.

So it is with the utmost seriousness that we report that in 1998, the Secret Society of Happy People declared August 8th as Happiness Happens Day. In August 2000, the society expanded its celebration to be a month-long event, and we quote from the society’s website, “so that you can celebrate whatever day is convenient.”

August also is Cataract Awareness Month, Peach Month, Motorsports Awareness Month, and What Will Be Your Legacy Month. Seriously.

We report all this in tribute to KPTZ co-founder Ann Katezenbach, who regularly began or ended her newscasts with tidbits like the fact that Monday was National Cheesecake Day. Ann soon will be leaving Port Townsend to spend her golden years under the golden sun-shiny skies of Arizona, and we will miss her. Seriously.