I’VE BEEN THINKING…

May 26, 2015

HC

As I sat out back on the patio this morning in my thinking chair, I got to thinking there are important things missing in my life.  They are things that are pure luxury, but nonetheless would bring me great happiness and ease the burden of mundane chores that I do over and over again.  As I sat there I thought, of course, I deserve no less.

I am focused here especially on the repetitive tasks that always need to be done but seem so unrewarding.  I am sure you do the same things.  I’m talking about chores or annoying events that never go away—the ones that when you do them you feel like you just did them an hour ago. These tasks are so prevalent in our lives yet they have failed to attract an inventor’s interest who would eventually construct a widget or some kind of procedure that would make them go away.  “How come,” I ask, “has no such inventor come along?”

Now, I know some of you will call me lazy or in shameless want of a life adorned with the abundant luxury of a gazillion household convenience items.  Well, you would be right—that is what I want.  Go ahead, make my day.

It’s just that there are certain things I am tired of doing and I wonder why–here comes the famous cliché–if we can put a man on the moon how come no one has developed any of the innovative items I am about to list?  Yes, I’ve made a list.  It’s not long.   It consists of just a few of the things I have thought about.  These will get us started:

  1. How come the dishwasher cannot empty itself and return all the dishes and silverware and pots and pans to their proper locations in the cabinets and drawers? I have mastered this ungrateful chore that most everyone else in the family seems to ignore.  That’s because they know full well that I am compulsive and will eventually empty the damn dishwasher myself.  Surely some brainy inventor could figure out how to get this done.
  2. How come there can’t be some kind of pneumatic tube or something in which you deposit your trash. There would be one in each room of the house and said trash would automatically be transported to an underground bin that rises up out of the curb on trash collection day? Or, better yet, goes directly to the landfill.
  3. How come our pet dogs and cats must eat…and eat…and eat? How come they constantly gather around your feet and beg for food every time you walk into the kitchen?   There are a gazillion breeds of dogs and cats.  Why can’t they develop breeds that are pre-fed or at least programmed to eat twice a day and want nothing else in between?
  4. If we have a machine that can wash our clothes and then dry them, then how come there isn’t a machine that will fold them? There are machines that bend metal, pour liquid into molds or otherwise make materials conform to specific shapes and sizes.  How come there isn’t one that makes freshly washed clothes do that?
  5. How come the inside of the front windshield in the car is always dirty? Why does it seem to always have a film over it even though no one smokes in the car.  Why is it, when you test this film with your finger to see if it’s there, and of course it always is, then you have a finger smear on the inside of the windshield.  Why is it so hard to clean the inside of the windshield unless you are a contortionists?  Can’t they make some kind of squeegee that comes down from inside the roof liner and cleans the windshield?
  6. How come ice cream cannot be available anywhere, anytime? No further explanation needed for that.

I could go on with lots more things, but you get my drift.  Some people ask what if? or why? while others ask why not?  Me?  I just wanna know how come?

*****

Here is the most recent crop of recipients of a big THANK YOU! from me.  Why?  Because these folks took a moment to stop by marc’s blog…they even read it!     …Rita Petrushansky-Mastroni, Kathleen Neiman, Lee Ann Kuhn, Ron Carmean, Teri Griffin, Ashley Serrate, Roni Komie, Shannon Jenners  


MEMORIALIZING MEMORIAL DAY

May 23, 2015

arlintoncem

 

Okay, I’m back on my soapbox today.  I’m here to try to set the country straight and it means I’ll probably step on some toes again.  I am sure there are others who have made similar attempts.  I’m not the first.  But, like them, I am a traditionalist.  You remember the song, Tradition, from Fiddler on the Roof, don’t you?  “And how do we keep our balance?” asks Zero Mostel.  “I can tell you in one word,” he says–“Tradition!”   Now, when it comes to certain holidays, especially the patriotic ones, I went to the School of Normal Rockwell where I learned how to celebrate them.  That said, here is my take on Memorial Day.

First of all, many of you have it all wrong.  This is NOT a joyous occasion that we are celebrating this holiday weekend.  What was called Decoration Day was established by a group of Union Army veterans in 1886 following the Civil War.  The ex-soldiers thought it would be appropriate to set aside a day to honor those Americans who had died in service to their country.  Veterans of the Confederate Army did likewise on a totally different day.  Eventually, the two holidays merged into one, now called Memorial Day.  It is held on the last Monday of May.

It is tradition that American military graves are decorated this day.  Those in Federal cemeteries in the United States and abroad are usually adorned with a small American flags.  When I was a kid I remember seeing lots of American flags on poles or draped from windowsills on Memorial Day.  Almost every household displayed a flag—and I lived in a row-home neighborhood.  Of course, World War II was still very fresh in the minds of Americans, especially anyone who had lost someone in the war.  Most storefront windows also displayed flags back then, not sale signs.  The President used to lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington Cemetery.  News coverage of the event was broadcast live, interrupting regularly scheduled programming.  Nowadays, the Vice-President usually takes care of that task and you might see a fast clip of it on the evening news.

No shining academic record do I hold, but I cringe when I hear a young person today who does not know the difference between the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, let alone any of the great conflicts that followed them.  I am not making that up.  I realize that I sound like an old curmudgeon when I criticize “these kids today” who have no concept of the sacrifice their forefathers made for them.  There are many adults too who have gotten caught up in the redundancy of how Americans celebrate their historic events.  As such, we treat all holidays pretty much the same: big retail sales, family gatherings and sporting events.

But wishing someone a “Happy Memorial Day” is…well, it’s just not correct.  This is a sad day, a solemn day when Americans should take a formal, structured time-out to think about, and pay tribute to, the thousands who died so that we and many others who aren’t even Americans can continue living in a safe and free environment.  A lot of that thought process has gone from the holiday.  Memorial Day does not affect as many of us as it once did.  It is no longer relatable to all of us.  It is no longer as relevant.  It is fast becoming a tradition lost…and it leaves us out of balance.

*****

 

 


FROM PC TO MAC

May 21, 2015

Desk

I am a man in transition.  My new iMac arrived and now I have to switch from using a PC all my life to starting all over again, somewhat, with the Mac which I have never used.  There will definitely be a learning curve; how high it arcs into the air is unclear right now, but right away there have been major puzzlements and minor frustrations.

I have found that I have a nasty personality disorder when it comes to a computer.  I do not have very much patience when it is not doing what I want or expect it to do.  If I cannot figure out the problem quickly I actually feel myself getting angry, very angry.  I do not know why this is. After all, it’s just a machine and I shouldn’t allow myself to get so upset just because it isn’t doing something I want it to.

Anyway, I have much to do regarding the big switch from PC to Mac.  First, I have to learn some new programs.  I have six websites that I have built from scratch and I pretty much have to buy a new software package and start each one all over again.  That will take some time. Then I have all my books and their accompanying marketing materials. There’s a whole new world I have to live in for taking care of them.   I use Photoshop a lot, but now I would have to buy the Mac version which is toooooo expensive.  I have found a brand new alternative that looks pretty good and it’s a fraction of the cost….but I will have to spend time learning it.

From the very start, I keep falling back onto the PC because it’s what I know and it’s easy.  But then, I know today I will begin spending a lot more time on the Mac and may even download some programming onto it.  I started watching some tutorials on YouTube and if I can get by the instructor’s annoying voice, they should help a lot.

As you can see in the picture above, I have the computers side-by-side on my desk (btw, that’s the Cubs beating the Padres on the PC monitor).  The two computers will probably be like that for several weeks while I change over to the Mac.  It’s like having two wives, or maybe a wife and a mistress.  Of course, I am not making reference to any personal experience…just what I’ve read about in Cosmo.  They are both vying for my attention yet I have to keep them on even keel while I move from one to the other.  I’ve picked up this vibe that they are resentful of each other.

Meanwhile, this just in…for those who like stats, WordPress (the platform for this blog) just came out with some new compilations for its bloggers.  In addition to my knowing how many of you stop by here each day along with other bits and pieces of information, WordPress now keeps track of your timing.  The highest percentage of you (20%) stops by on Thursday and noon is your favorite time to be here.  So noon on Thursday is prime time, for which I am not now, nor ever will be, ready.

*****

BREAKING NEWS:  

I feel like a bridesmaid this week.  Twice I’ve come in as a “finalist” in a book awards competition.  Close but no statue.  Considering these are national and international contests with hundreds of entries I should be humbly happy that I even made the finalist cut.  That said, here are the two honors achieved by DEAD LETTER, my mystery/suspense novel with the “holy crap” ending:

Finalist, Mystery/Suspense, 2015 International Book Awards, Honoring Excellence in Independent & Mainstream Publishing….Sponsored by USA Book News

 Finalist, Suspense, 2015 9th Annual Indie Excellence Awards

 I am still holding out for the Pulitzer.

*****


THOUGHTS ON COSBY

May 18, 2015

cosby3

I do not know what to make of the Bill Cosby situation.  Certainly something is amiss, especially after listening to him during an interview last week.  It all makes no sense to me, or I don’t want it to, probably because I am one of the people in his fan base and, as such, it is really shocking when something like this happens to an individual for whom you have had admiration and respect.  Let me put this in perspective and begin at the beginning, when Cosby first surfaced as a nationally recognized comedian.  It was in the 1960s.  While many comedians like Cosby gained exposure in clubs around the country, the masses got to  know them via their television appearances and the record albums they produced.

The record albums were especially popular with my generation.  I had all the hot albums for comedians like Mike Nichols (yes, later the famous movie director) and his partner Elaine May.  They focused on an exceptionally dry humor and it was outrageous.  Bob Newhart was my favorite.  He’d often used the telephone as a prop to hold one-way conversations that were hilarious.  He was famous for his deadpan style that followed him into two ultra-successful television sit-coms.  A creatively wild performer was Jonathan Winters, a frequent guest on the Jack Paar Show (Paar was the host who preceded Johnny Carson on the Tonight Show).  I think Robin Williams fashioned his style after Jonathan Winters since he had many of the same comedic affectations as Winters. They both could instantly break into alternate voices and characters.

And then there was Bill Cosby, a young clean-cut college man who went to Temple University right there in my hometown of Philadelphia.  Cosby did street-savvy stuff.  In fact one routine that was spot on was about kids playing football in the narrow, row-home streets of Philly.  Boy, could I relate to that.  I also remember that just as teens of every generation have an innate capability to instantly memorize the lyrics to every popular song, anyone in my teen group had no problem mouthing every word verbatim of every popular comedy routine.  I don’t think there was one among us who couldn’t do a perfect “Noah” ala Bill Cosby.  But it was Cosby’s later television show that cemented his most relatable personality that most of my generation fell in love with.  And now this…sexual assault allegations from more than 30 women who claim that Bill Cosby did such horrendous things like drugging them beforehand.

For me, it’s harder to grasp this situation even more than Bill Clinton’s insulting behavior to the highest ranking office in the nation.  Cosby became an institution in this country.  He was real…honest…pure. And now, he has no rational explanation to give us about the charges against him, except to say that he can’t “speak to it.”

Last Friday he appeared on Good Morning America in what one anchor introduced as “an explosive interview” that Cosby had with ABC’s Linsey Davis.  It was the first time, we were told, that Cosby would address the charges against him.  Well, it was about as explosive as a cardboard tube of Pillsbury biscuits.  Cosby appeared in the role of “do-gooder” at an Alabama community organization looking for recognition (translation: funds) to help improve educational benefits to young children.  A worthy cause and one that Cosby, heretofore, would have “been a natural.”  But not now if you ask me.

Guilty or not, he is too entrenched in this scandal to choose to ignore it as he seems to want to do.  It has become the proverbial 500 pound monster in his room.  As I watched the implosive Cosby interview , I interpreted it as the sad ramblings of an old man whose once immaculate verbal skills have aged and become almost incoherent.  Cosby appears a bit distant now.  As he speaks he seems to stare off into some far away zone.   Perhaps he’s in his own land, where he wants to rule as he has always ruled and where he will believe in what he wants to believe in.  Anything to the contrary, as he implies, he simply cannot speak to.  Is it that he cannot…or will not?

Now comes some comments that I fear I may not articulate well enough not to offend some of you.  I don’t mean to.  But as much as I find Cosby’s avoidance response offensive, I feel the same for many of these women who are his accusers.  I realize some of you will definitely disagree with me but I have lessened my sympathy these days for women, or anyone for that matter, who say they were victims but did not come forward because they feared embarrassment or shame, or that no one would believe them.  I get it.  I know that happens, but dammit, victims who do not come forward are only contributing to the crime, or the criminal, perpetuating itself.  Society—that’s me and you and everyone else—needs to know about these things and about the people who do them.  Otherwise, we cannot stop them from harming others.  Where were these 30+ women all these years?  It is my understanding that only about four came forth a decade ago, all of whom were dismissed in one way or another.  Where were all the others who could have backed them up?  They chose not to do anything.  That’s a joke.  Not a ha-ha joke like Bill Cosby or Bob Newhart might tell.  No, I’m afraid not.  Instead, it’s a sad joke about a sad man and a group of sad victims…and nobody is laughing.

*****

A big THANK YOU to the following people who checked out my last posting:  Timothy Pike, Eric Wong, Del Nolan, Stuart Perkins, Mike Fuller, Robert Okaji, Damyanti, Nina Karadzic, Rita Petrushansky-Mastroni, Wuji, Elan Mudrow, Ron Carmean, Camie Dunbar, Kathleen Neiman and Rick Alpern.


ODE TO MY 300TH POST!

May 16, 2015

Would you believe that on my blog today is my 300th post?

When I began I figure it’d go maybe 100 at the most.

So here to celebrate is another poem for better or worse.

At times like this, it’s our blog’s custom to be written in verse.

Whoddathunk I’d still be at it over 2 years later

Fact is, no amount of my writing has ever been greater.

I’ve written just about everything there is to be written about.

Much of it was personal as if there were any doubt.

I’ve held little back, especially when something made me miffed.

I took shots at some folks while praising others like Taylor Swift.

I never wrote anything that was untrue or couldn’t be proven.

And I didn’t want to bore you so I tried to keep things movin’.

I admit it’s not a big blog as far as followers and daily readers.

But I trust we’re a happy group; I’m certainly not running meters.

How much longer I’ll keep blogging is anyone’s guess.

I’ll be here as long as I have something viable to express.

It needn’t be big and substantial—heck this blog doesn’t cost a dime.

I just insist that for both of us it offers something worthy of our time.


STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH NUTHIN’ TO WRITE

May 13, 2015

donut3

There was a song back in the 60s—I think Dionne Warwick, among others, sung it. The lyrics were:

“My love has no beginning, my love has no end;

no front no back and my love won’t bend.

I’m in the middle, lost in a spin.”

That’s sort of how I feel right now about the book I am working on.  But things are just a little different from the lyrics of that song.  I do have a beginning and I do have an end.  They’re both coming along nicely, but I just don’t have a middle and, indeed, it’s left me in a spin.

I’ve never had this happen before.  I always have a complete story in mind when I sit down at the keyboard and begin banging out a book.  Oh, I’ve spent a lot of time working on the plot of this one, except for the big donut hole in the middle.  I knew it was there. I just kept assuming something would fall into it that made sense and I’d move on with the rest of the story.  Well, I’m still waiting and so far I don’t see that Fed Ex truck roaring down the highway in my brain with a box full of “middle.”   Okay, I get it.  This is my task; I’m the one who has to get it done.

I suppose I could read one of those writers’ advice books that helps you with things like structure and plot.  No doubt I’d pick up a few suggestions I could work with.  But that’s like cheating, kind of like doing one of those paint-by-number paintings. You’re just filling in the blank spaces that somebody else has already predetermined in shape and size.   Nah, not me.

I though too, I could try that method they use at motivational workshops.  You know the one.  In this situation I’d tack all the beginning pages of the manuscript up on one wall.  Then I’d tack all the end pages up on the opposite wall.  Next, you and I, along with a bunch of others in the room, would throw things up onto the wall in the middle.  Eventually, stuff would begin sticking on the middle wall and we’d all keep narrowing it down until—eureka!—we have the middle story line for the book.  But if I do it this way, then I have to add a lot of names to the author line on the cover…unless I just condense it to “Written by Marc Kuhn and the Wall.”  I’m not too keen on this idea to tell you the truth.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate everyone’s efforts; it’s just that I am a selfish individual and I do not want to share the credit for writing the book.

Another idea I had was to skip the middle altogether.  If the front and back are so good, maybe I should just embellish them and then butt them up together.  I’d just squeeze out the middle and add a transition line that says something like “…years passed and then…”  That might work.  Then again, it might not.  I can hear the reviews now:  “Mr. Kuhn writes a great story, but it has no middle.”  Or, “…a thrilling saga that sends you in a tizzy from the first page to the last, but not in the middle…”  Yeah, that’s what they’d write, stuff like that.

So I guess I am stuck.  I shall just have to wait it out until I get unstuck.  I am sure it will resolve itself in due time, but until it does I will suffer constant anxiety thinking about it.  I’m on middle ground but I have nothing to stand on…I’m in a spin.

*****


BASEBALL, BELLY, AND BIRTDAY…The Trifecta Update!

May 12, 2015

 For those inquiring minds who want to know and need a life…

This is another one of those “update” postings I’ve done in the past.  It’s always good to follow-up on things every now then…though I’m not really sure why.  As many of you know, I decided to become a baseball fan this year, something I’ve never been.  My chosen team is the Chicago Cubs and I have watched about 90% of their games so far.  I did report last time on the news that spitting has been greatly reduced since I last watched a game a few years ago.  I’ve only caught two baseball players spitting since I last reported in on this ancient phenom over two weeks ago.  I am happy to say neither player who spat was a Cub.  So I think I can fairly say that spitting in baseball is a thing of the past even though I thought it would never go away.  Well, shut my mouth.

My new observation, however, is that there is a lot of butt slapping going on in the game of baseball.  I’m not sure where or when one guy slapping the other on the butt got its start, but it is definitely the gesture of choice on the mound when there is a pitching change.  The manager will slap the departing pitcher on the butt as he dismisses him and the incoming replacement gets his welcoming slap, usually from a team-mate, upon arrival on the mound.

Meanwhile, there is also a lot of crotch grabbing that’s a regular part of viewing baseball, especially by those at bat. I don’t know if there is team-issued underwear or if every player wears his own personal briefs or boxers—but, regardless, something is causing some kind of rearrangement of items that the players find uncomfortable while playing the game.  They have no inhibitions about reaching in or grabbing from the outside in order to make the necessary adjustments.

So, I have come to the conclusion that there is this preoccupation with the section of anatomy below the waistline and above the thighs, either front or back, that has become part of the baseball environment.  It’s a bit peculiar seeing men publicly grabbing their crotch on national television.  I’ve seen rock stars do the same.  I think if I were to do it in the middle of the cereal aisle in the supermarket I would get some weird looks.

Moving right along, my diet, for those interested, has pretty much disintegrated after several months.  I did lose some weight, but not where I wanted.  My face is a lot thinner making my cheeks sink in a bit.  My good old fat belly—the target of this diet–is still there sticking out.  While I have not stuck to the menu, I am more conscious of what and how much I am eating and there seems to be slooowwwww progress as a result.   I am still going to the gym regularly and have even added some new elements to my routine.  So to sum up, I plan to continue the effort to lose some girth but it may take me a long time to do it.  I just have to control the ice cream, cakes and cookies and bread and rolls and pastries and all those kinds of things that the devil places before me everywhere I go.  As Flip Wilson’s Geraldine used to say, “The devil made me do it!”

And finally, have you ever noticed that when we count, we are obsessed with tens.  We like to celebrate decades and any time some event or occurrence reaches a “tens” mark, it is so noted.  In fact, to show the longevity of things, we like to point out how many decades they’ve been around.  25 and 75 are two exceptions of non-tens anniversaries that we consider noteworthy.  Today, my birthday hits one of those tens benchmarks.  My mind denies it, my body reinforces it.  I have no choice but to accept it as much as I wish not to.  Regardless, I am not ready to give in to it.  I shall slow down a little and begin to pace myself.  From now on I will live one decade at a time.  Oh, I knew you might ask that …it’s 70.  Egads!

*****

My thanks to the following nice people who stopped by my last posting… Ron Carmean, Antoinette Prato Shreffey, Myke Motus, John Tugano, Ellen Rothstein Weiner, Peter Bolger, and Camie Dunbar.


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