Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Into Memory: Jimmy Liptak

A good man passed this week; someone I knew when I was much younger. Whenever this happens, I find myself stuck in some sort of quantum dislocation. In my mind, that person is still young and stays so till I observe differently. This last month, I’ve found myself considering the loss of three fifty/sixty-somethings who still populate my memory as twenty-somethings.

I've not seen Jimmy in decades. My memories of him, like many other camp folk, stem from back in The Dreamtime. (The sixties and seventies) This was a time in our lives of chaos and possibilities. (And hormones; lots of hormones) The universe was young. Stuff apparently happened before us but couldn't have been that important. The summers were warm and endless and we meandered through them obliviously.


It was a time of formation for us. We look back on those days, much like the constantly repeated stories of our parents' childhoods, as a sort of mythology that has guided our lives. (eg. The Legend of Dennycles and the Bottle of Cheap Wine; wherein our hero learns a valuable lesson about unsympathetic friends who will put ice cubes down your pants when you're helpless to fight back.) We learned things but not well or readily and much of what we learned was useless if not downright dangerous.


Like any garden variety universe, we start out with chaos; particles and potential whirling about with no particular direction or form. That would be our teens… Then, suddenly, order starts to impose itself.


You know what order in such a system consists of? Small influences over time. A minor nudge to a careening asteroid, over time, can alter its course by millions of miles. Small influences…


MD camp was an example of the multiplication effect of those small influences. Back in The Dreamtime, there was a concentration of remarkable people; the very type needed to populate a new mythology. Why, there were giants in those days, folks! (Granted they were all oddly dressed teenagers with unusual haircuts and varying levels of no-clue-at-all but this is my mythos and I'll populate it as I like!)  People such as I'd never met in my life up to that point. Everyone has individuals at camp who had some particularly telling effect on them. To me, for instance, one was Ricky Balsamo. Here was a guy my own age who startled and amazed me. Imagine! To be responsible and organized of one's own volition! Hell, I didn't realize, at the time, that was even an option. (My stable of peer group role models up till then was, unfortunately, a rather sad and mangy lot.)  I would observe Ricky wielding that clipboard like a dog watching a human use a can opener, "Hey, he's performing actions in the present to affect conditions in the future! Wow! I wanna be like that… But with a nicer hat!"


There are always people like that at camp. I remember Jimmy, his lovely sister Marian and more in those early years. People like this give you a glimpse of what they are; what you could also be if you just suck up your nerve and open out. These people have an amazing effect on a life's trajectory. Some have more effect on more people; people like Jimmy. Small influences over time tend to build and amplify. They're shared and grown, transferred and bequeathed. Ah, then order and direction develops! Friendships, influences and lessons learned create pathways and orbits in our lives. (I keep working this metaphor and I know it's getting old but stay with me…) Those small influences have developed into our careers, our friends, even, for many of us, our spouses. Worlds and lives were created by the influences we experienced then. I find it wonderful to see that those original influences continue to form order as camp folk have married, had children who became camp folk, married each other and had even more tiny, little camp folk. It's a marvelous thing to look back nearly 44 years (I know; that doesn't sound particularly old to be called "The Dreamtime" but I'm the one telling the story, dammit…) and to see the paths so many friends' lives have taken that can greatly be attributed to people like Jimmy.

As I said, I've not seen him in years. I didn't even know what path his life took, or what all he did with it. I think it's telling, though, that I just assumed he continued to be that force; touching lives, building spirits. That's what people like him do. Reading some of the postings from his friends and students over the last couple days, that appears to have been a safe assumption.


Small influences over time… 


Eventually, you end up with… this.

Look at the worlds you created, Jimmy Liptak…


God bless and godspeed.



Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Spider, Spider, Burning Bright!



"No spider! No spider! Scorpion!"


The food stall vendor's voice was taking the same exasperated tone as the last four and I was getting the strong impression that dinner was off  for tonight. I'd been up and down the narrow lanes of the Beijing night market but, try as I might, could not find the deep fried tarantula I had been prepping my taste buds for.


Months before our trip, I had planned a trip to the Donghuamen night market, famed for cooking up the most horrible things imaginable and feeding them to tourists. There were all manner of crunchy delights emerging from pots of smoking oil. Here were racks of fried silkworm larvae, fronting skewers of live wriggling scorpions. Off to the left was a brace of skewered intestines with my name on them (In English; seriously, what were the odds?) and row upon row of whole fried quail whose tiny heads stared back at me reproachfully. Every imaginable horror was present, accounted for and ready to be dipped in hot sauce for my gastronomic delight, save one.

The quail stared back reproachfully.


The big black scorpions are meatier.


Skewers of live wriggling scorpions
Where, oh where had my fried tarantula gone? I'd seen them on TV travel shows, checked them out on YouTube videos, learned the best way of eating them and what to avoid. (Their taste is apparently reminiscent of crab except  that crab doesn't make you scream inside for several months after eating them... ) I had also internalized a cautionary tasting note that the abdomens of some are full of egg sacs that are, apparently, not as fun to eat as the rest of the otherwise yummy arachnid. I'd even planned ahead. Our tour guide, Joe, had  e-mailed us several weeks before the trip to ask if there were any special requests; sights we wanted to see that weren't on the itinerary or a bit off the beaten path; cultural highlights or holy sites that called to us. I gave careful, deliberate consideration to his question and replied back, "Night Market! Fried tarantulas!"


Drumsticks for everyone!

I could imagine his internal response. "In all of China and it's 9,000 years of history and culture, he wants to eat crunchy nightmare with the tourists..." I followed up with a lame explanation that while I, of course, would rather drive a few extra hours to see how the restoration of my favorite gorge Buddha was coming along, I had promised my (fictitious) grand kids that I would go eat a giant spider and film it for them to take to show and tell. "Kids", I chuckled weakly and unconvincingly. He promised to write out a route for us to follow and, I assume, consigned us mentally to the lowest level of hillbilly tourist hell.


In Beijing, on our first night, as we visited with the guide and our 12 travel companions, I sheepishly brought up a reminder of our interest in spider eating. I explained to the group that we were planning to skip the Chinese face changing show in favor of a visit to the night market in a bid to achieve hard core immortality in the eyes of some 8 and 10 year olds. The response was amazing. Several others had the same idea and, in short order, all the others did, as well.


"We want to be hardcore, too!"


"We want to eat tarantulas with Dennis! "


"Yeah, let's go to the night market and gross out the little kids!"


"I am Spartacus!" (At this point I was feeling a bit giddy...)


Joe's expression shifted back and forth from dismay to disbelief a few times before coming to rest on resignation. Face Theater was off; Night Market expedition was on.


This turned out to be a good thing as that weekend happened to be Mid-Autumn Moon Festival weekend and you know how hard it is to get a cab during moon festival. Even if you can find one, they jack up the price by a factor of 10. Joe ended up having to herd 10 Americans ( Still chanting "Spider! Spider!"  and giggling amongst themselves) through a series of subway and bus changes through crowds that could only occur in a country with 1.5 billion people on call for crowd duty.




We finally arrived at the night market and plunged into narrow lanes that were a riot of sound, color and smells; and, oh, the smells...  The aromas of roasted nuts and corn intermingled with barbecue, the occasional waft of open sewer and lots and lots of ????. I went stall to stall, followed by my hard core foodie posse but, though we found everything imaginable that shouldn't be eaten by rational beings... no spider. The crowd turned surly and drifted off to shop for other deals among the lanes. I pestered additional food sellers for a while before conceding defeat. This was a shame as I had reams of carefully prepared ad libs ready for my tarantula encounter:


"Are these spiders farm raised or free range?", I'd ask with a sly grin, imagining millions of these multi-legged horrors sweeping majestically across the open plain.The vendor, despite understanding no English, would point both index fingers at me and go "Ooooooohhh!" (Chinese for- My, what a witty riposte. Well played, sir!)


"Hey", I'd burble to the appreciative tourist audience as I pulled off a leg. " Drum sticks for everyone!"


"Mmmm. That's good spider!", I'd mug to the camera in my best Dave Letterman, before looking down at the skewer and screaming uncontrollably.


"Staci! Are you eating the centipedes? I was saving those for company!"

A dozen or so similar gems went begging.


I settled for picking out a skewer of live, wiggling scorpions which were then deep-fried before my eyes for guaranteed freshness and tucked right in to them. It wasn't fried spider but would still garner some hard-core respect from those 8 and 10 year olds.



Staci unaccountably turns down my generous offer to share the scorpions.



2 days later, I was still picking legs out of my teeth.



Friday, August 30, 2013

Harris the Rain King: Chaac and Awe in Belize- Part 1

Hunapu stood at the edge of the forest, looking up the road into the distance.  The far trees danced and jumped in the shimmering heat. A flinty, scorched smell mixed with the smoke and dust filling the air; making his eyes tear and each breath burn.

He turned back to his family's open hut and the stunted plants wilting in the sere earth around it. Mother sat in the shade of the hay roof, holding his baby sister, Cuicatl, and staring blankly at the dying garden plot. His father moved slowly among the dusty plantings, metering a small amount of precious water to each, only to watch the ground swallow it and dry up again immediately. Chicahua dropped the empty calabash gourd to the ground and sank, exhausted, to his knees beside it. The rains were long overdue. In Hunapu's ten years, a' yax-hau; the first rains, had never been this late. He muttered a quiet prayer to Chaac, as he and his parents had, daily, since the drought had deepened.

Turning back to the road, he kicked the dust into small swirls that moved only slightly into the dead air before settling back at his feet. Hunapu raised his eyes again, shielding them against the searing glare beating down from the cloudless sky. In the distance, the images still danced in the heat and haze. 

Then, gradually, one began to resolve itself.

"Tat, Na'na; Someone comes!"  Hunapu shouted to his parents, who moved hesitantly to join him, squinting into the distance at the approaching figures.

As the travelers neared, Chicahua's eyes widened in alarm. "Hide your face! Look to the ground until they have passed!" he hissed urgently to his wife and son. Hunapu did as he was told. He could feel the closeness of the strangers, hear the sound of feet shuffling over the uneven road, smell the dust kicked up by their passing. At the last moment, defying his father's words, he raised his head slightly to steal a glance at the procession.

His eyes locked immediately with those of the man being carried down the road and widened with amazement. His skin was pure white! He wore white hair and a white beard and his great dark eyes (the Mirrors of His Eyes!) reflected back Hunapu! Frightened at being caught he tried but could not tear his gaze away. "Chaac!" he murmured. "Chaac, Lord of the Rains! Lord of Thunder!" Alarmed at his boldness, Hunapu dropped his face again but not before seeing Chaac smile back at him as he turned the Mirrors of His Eyes back to the road he travelled.

As the procession moved out of sight, a single drop fell from the sky in front of Hunapu, raising a small puff of dust and leaving a tiny crater. Another followed, as did another, slowly but with increasing speed. The scent of the air changed as distant thunder rolled over the forest.

"A' yax-hau!"  Chicahua exulted through cracked lips. "The First Rain has come, Hunapu! Always remember this day!"

And Hunapu would remember it. When he was very old, he would share the tale of how his eyes met the mirror eyes of Chaac with his children and with his children's children...

Or at least he would have if he and his family hadn't been carried off and drowned in the flash flooding fifteen minutes later.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Did you see that Mayan family we just passed?" I turned to ask Staci as I pulled off my aviator sunglasses and wiped the sweat from my face. "I can't imagine working in this sun all the time. I go from pale to stroke without ever hitting tanned." Digging through my backpack, I double checked the sunscreen's SPF  for reassurance before settling back. "The little boy smiled at me. It's probably the white hair. All kids think "Santa Claus" when they see me."

"I'm sure that's it", Staci muttered through clenched teeth as our jeep rattled her spine like castanets. "The Mayans have always been big on Santa, you know." It hit another rut and launched her a foot in the air before catching her, again, like a baby in the hands of its drunken, least favorite uncle. "God, does this thing have a suspension?!?"

We were an hour south of Belize City, bouncing down what had rapidly changed from pavement to dirt to rutted mud to a game trail  apparently cratered by years of indiscriminate cluster bombing. Being the last jeep of three, we were also nicely coated with dust while being shaken like human martinis. One moment, Staci would bounce across the back seat atop the luggage. The next moment, the luggage would ride her back the other way. By virtue of my heroic proportions, I had wedged myself tightly in place and was watching the jungle deepen as we passed.

The driver, Hernan, glanced back apologetically. "The dry season has been tough this year. That's why it's so dusty. The farmers are having a hard time of it. If we don't get rain soon, it's going to be very bad for everyone."

Hearing this, I smiled knowingly at Staci as she rattled past, clinging to a couple of playful scuba tanks. "Oh, I have a feeling the rains will come." I grinned. "I have a feeling the rains will come soon. Don't you think so, honey?"

Staci, closed her eyes and groaned apprehensively. "You know, forget the suspension. Hernan, can this jeep float?"

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I'm not sure when I first realized I was a rain god.

That sort of realization comes slowly, on little catfish feet.

I don't even try to justify that status anymore; everyone thinks that the weather has it personally in for them. However, anyone reading this who knows me is silently nodding their heads, some violently as if to dislodge an unpleasant memory. (See October 12, 2009 entry, "Travels With Dennis in Search of...) Some who, unaccountably, have travelled with me more than once (Usually due to marriage or other unavoidable circumstance.) are even able to silently mouth the common refrain, along with the local survivors digging themselves out of whatever wreckage is currently burying them. Ready, kids? All together!

"I don't know what happened! We've never had weather like this before at this time of the year! It was... It was just on us with no warning! Oh, God... Where's the baby?!?!"

Unfortunately, I have no actual control over precipitation levels or exactly what form the weather event will take so there's no money to be made by, say, breaking droughts or ushering in an occasional Ice Age. Normally, the only recognition I get is a friend's occasional look of stunned disbelief at what's happening outside or a high-five from my brother when our combined mojo has rendered an entire region uninhabitable.

There was this one time, however...

Stay tuned (or online, whatever) for the next riveting (meh...) installment!

Who'll Stop The Rain. Anyone? Anyone at all?

or

I, Me, Mayan




Monday, April 8, 2013

On the Beach...




I got a call from my buddy, Glen, this afternoon informing me that one of his major fantasy girls had just passed away. I had this horrible mental image of him holding up a picture of Margaret Thatcher with one hand before he told me it was Annette. 

It was amazing how close I came to crying out loud. 

Just a couple weeks ago I had googled to see where she was in the M.S. path. It was heartbreaking to see the recent video of her; frozen, unable to move or speak; unrecognizeable. I know it wasn't all that long ago...

Way, way back when I was an incredibly young DennyHarris, I would watch The Mickey Mouse Club religiously. While I can remember many details of the show; Spin & Marty, Anything Can Happen Day, Talent Roundup Day and so on, the most clear and retrievable memory is Annette Funicello. As I was very young and my fascination with the development of her sweater contours was several years away, I can't tell, for sure, what it was. The precursor to passion is, apparently, wishing she could be my sister. I would do nice things for her (Which I would never have done for my actual sister but don't confuse me with logic. This was Annette and I was extremely young.) and she would smile at me me which, for some reason, was a wonderful, wonderful thing.

You young, sarcastic bastards need to understand that this was a different world then. Pre-Kardassian, being a hideous slut was not considered  to be a plus. There was a finely polished pedestal reserved for a select few. Annette showed up in all the shows I loved. She had a 3 episode arc in Zorro, for Christ's sake! She completely had me even before the Beach movies. (Note to younger folk; Imagine the place Princess Leia held in your erotic fantasies... Multiply by 10)

In 1987, the film "Back to the Beach" came out. A 20-some year sequel to the Frankie and Annette beach movies of the sixties, Annette was, to my mind, more attractive than she had ever been. This was also about the time she noticed that something was wrong. She had trouble walking through the sand without tripping. Some time later, she announced they she was suffering from M.S., after a number of news items had snidely ascribed her clumsy gait to alcohol. From that point on, she served as spokesperson for M.S. and did much to attract attention to the disease.

It's about 7:15 P.M. now. I've had the T.V. on in the background as the news has been playing. There have been disturbing reports about North Korea, tributes to Margaret Thatcher and debates about the state of gun control efforts.

Those are not the reasons I seem to be sobbing like a baby right now. 






Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Litterbox of the Damned!!!


Another favorite old thread from Facebook; and one of Bob Secco's finest hours...




The Cat is now radioactive...

Following radiation treatment, we have to keep her isolated from the other cats for a week, carefully package and dispose of her glowing poop and pet her only with a stuffed mitten attached to a stick.

Of course, I'm trying to decide how to employ radioactive tabby-turds to terrorize and subjugate the good citizens of Vernon Hills.

I'll be needing a really cool super-villain name, some costume suggestions and a plausible flowchart for most effective utilization of deadly cat muffins.
Bob, you start...December 14, 2010 at 7:25pm · Unlike · 1

Dennis Harris ‎...and remember, "Senor Bag-o-Crap" is a Mexican wrester name and is already taken.December 14, 2010 at 7:26pm · Like


Dennis Harris The cat has a runaway thyroid and has dropped to 4 lbs. RadioCat in Arlington Heights specializes in radioactive cat thyroid ablation. (Apparently thyroid ablation is popular among cats, just behind bulimia and cutting themselves...) It's spendy but Staci won't accept my proffered addendum to Shroedinger's famous thought experiment ( I call it the "Cat Disposability Postulate...)December 15, 2010 at 7:32pm · Like

Dennis Harris At any rate this should fix her and will remove the need for chasing her down twice a day to stuff pills down her. She's smarter than me and can fake accepting medication like a tiny, well-groomed Amy Winehouse. We keep finding the pills later on, usually in my shoes or on my toothbrush.December 15, 2010 at 7:35pm · Like · 1

Dennis Harris After all this brouhaha, though, we'd better get at least another 5 years out of her or I'm going to have her stuffed and mounted and keep her around like Roy Rogers did with Trigger.December 15, 2010 at 7:36pm · Like

Dennis Harris I seem to remember hearing, at the time, that Dale Evans also wanted to be stuffed and mounted, though not necessarily in that order...December 15, 2010 at 7:37pm · Like · 1

Staci Tull Harris Torture is finally getting your very affectionate cat back from 3 very long days away from us (for radiation treatment)... only to have to keep telling her "I'm so sorry. You're still glowing. I can't hold you, or pet you for 2 weeks. I can only look at you!" The looks she is giving are killing me (not to mention the constant meowing all night long outside our closed bedroom door)!
December 17, 2010 at 12:34pm Like


Brion Davis Thompson- I don't know if I could do it!December 17, 2010 at 12:40pm · Like · 1

Robert Secco Sure you could, Brion. The hard part would be breaking into their house so you could get close enough to their closed bedroom door to start meowing. (I'm not sure why you'd want to do it, but it could be done!)December 17, 2010 at 1:16pm · Unlike · 4

Robert Secco And as for you, Staci, you want to hug your kitty even though she's radioactive, yet when Dennis gets a little too "gassy", you have no qualms about locking him in the basement for the evening. For shame!!!December 17, 2010 at 1:24pm · Like · 1

Dennis Harris Bob, that was the best reply to the best set-up line in memory. You must still be basking in the afterglow...December 18, 2010 at 5:35pm · Like · 1

Bill Harris Sr. I had the thyroid ablation done, myself. While I was radioactive, Carolyn made me sleep in the basement by the water heater. My meowing got so loud that the neighbors called animal control and they shot me. Fortunately I was able to create a protective bubble around myself at the last minute. Carolyn finaly let me back into the bedroom after she couldn't get me to stop levitating outside the bedroom window. Sadly when the radioactivity wore off, so did my powers. It takes a week or so ....... until then I would be very afraid .... I'd hide the car keys ...
December 18, 2010 at 12:12am · Unlike · 4

Dennis Harris    The Cat is now back home... 

Smurfette and I have been observing her for any signs of radiation induced mutant superpowers.

It actually appears that she's developed some low level psychic mind control abilities over the other cats. She's sitting under the Christmas tree perfectly still, eyes unblinking, making an eerie keening sound as Abbey totters back and forth in a zombie-like state constructing a tiny, grisly pyramid of mouse skulls to honor her."



At the same time, Attila is standing there with a confused, scared look on her face as she repeatedly slaps herself. Sad how easily their tiny, simple minds are controlled.    December 16, 2010 at 9:50pm · Like


Dennis Harris   Now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go cash out my 401K and buy squeaky toys...  December 16, 2010 at 9:51pm · Like · 1



Thursday, July 5, 2012

Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Skunks



Now and then, it's worth all the attendant annoyance of Facebook just to be part of a good string when you have the right friends participating.  I think that transcribing a few favorites over is a nice, lazy man's way to fill up some blog space.

Here's one.



Man vs. Skunk- Day 2 A man can only take so much! I mean, I've done my best. I've tried to reason with it but it's fought me at every turn. This is the second time the little bastard has gone off next to the house, infusing the basement with that special aroma which quickly circulated through the house. Last time, one fell into a window well. Oh, that was fun! Never again! 

Now I am become Death, the Destroyer of Skunks!! I need a cunning plan...


  • Sandy- try candles-baking soda in the carpet and vaccuum-how about a ozone machine> lol< so sorry dennisSeptember 22, 2010 at 6:46pm · Like






  • Dennis Harris Since ammonia soaked rags, filling in the access holes and sending strongly worded letters (anonymously) hadn't worked, I had to move on to stronger methods. This being me, of course, you pretty much know where this is going. Embracing my inner Elmer Fudd, I went straight to the Home Center to arm myself with mothballs and poison smoke bombs.September 22, 2010 at 6:48pm · Like







  • Dennis Harris Now, instead of a house that smells like skunk, I have a house that smells like skunk, mothballs and poison smoke bombs. The basment is uninhabitable and the cats are huddled together, desperately trying to dial Staci's cell number....

    Sadly, I know how this cartoon usually ends. I see myself standing in a scorched blast zone where my home used to be; nothing but a roasted caricature in shredded underwear, holding a single spent match, totally smoke-blackened except for, in a triumph of 40's era bad taste, my enormous white lips and wide, surprised eyes.

    Somewhere off camera, a skunk laughs mockingly...

    Smurfette will be home Friday. Can I crash on someone's couch for a couple weeks? September 22, 2010 at 6:49pm · Like ·
  • Denise-  Play a radio where he is. My inlaws had one that kept coming around and the radio actually worked. Seriously try it!September 22, 2010 at 7:13pm · Like

  • Dennis Harris I tried the radio thing but he'd keep changing it to soft jazz in the middle of the night. 3 hours of Kenny G and I gave up on it as a bad job. Skunk's clever; too clever.September 22, 2010 at 8:29pm · Like

  • Dennis Harris I have, though, come up with a cunning plan for when Smurfette returns on Friday. I'm cooking up a welcome-home dinner of fried fish and cabbage with lots & lots of garlic. I may have to burn it a bit but it should keep her distracted till morning. That's when she'll probably get suspicious, though, upon being confronted with limburger pancakes... Suggestions?September 22, 2010 at 8:38pm · Like
  • Bill Harris Sr. I know a guys what knows a badger ....see .... $500.00 and this skunk (what skunk? I don't know nuthin' about no skunk) has a little "accident" on Rt. 45 . (I hear there was rabies involved! Too bad!) Nuf said lemme know.September 22, 2010 at 9:11pm · Unlike · 1
  • Glen McAfee Just mention an old girlfriend stayed over one night this week and spilled some unknown substance. Trust me, the subject of a possible skunk will never come up.September 23, 2010 at 12:16am · Like
  • Robert Secco Are you sure it's a skunk? A buddy of mine thought he had a skunk living under his deck, but in reality it was just a bunch of chipmunks smoking some really expensive weed. That little discovery also cleared up the mystery of his missing Cheetos and hearing the faint sound of reggae music all night.September 23, 2010 at 11:10am · Like
















  • Dennis Harris Well, I can see from the footprints in the corn starch I scattered around the
    bird feeder that the skunk is alive and well.

    Great...

    I'm wondering, then, what the hell I gassed yesterday.

  • I keep getting these horrific mental images of a dark and silent "Fraggle Rock"...

    September 23, 2010 at 3:42pm · Like
  • Robert Secco Have you considered using black spray paint to make one of your white cats look like a comely skunk vixen so as to entice the little bugger out of his lair? History has taught us that it worked numerous times on Pepe Le Pew, so it might be worth a shot.September 23, 2010 at 4:49pm · Like


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Chalk Outline of the Body Politic (A Look Back)


Back in November of 2010, I posted the following rant after the mid-terms but then took it down after a few days. Chock full of good, snide metaphor as it may be, it smacks of the same smug, patronizing tone that I find so distasteful in anyone who's not me.


I thought I'd archive it, give it a year and see if I had any legs as a political prognosticator. With New Hampshire coming up in a couple days (the first reality based contest) and the battle focusing in on the Empty-shirt-wearing-the-mom-jeans, Mister Seepage and Ron Paul, the dust should start settling and we'll see who's left chewing on the Republican carcass. 


A reminder to my friends on both ends of the political fringe. Please don"t mistake this as a leftist diatribe. Being a radical centrist, I think you're both crazy as hell. It's just that I find the battle for the soul (or whatever serves in its place...) of the Republican Party more fascinating.


Besides, who am I kidding? I am smug and patronizing.


Let's see what happens.

______________________________________________________________
Nov. 4, 2010

I know you’ve been watching the returns and the apparent rise of the Tea (Terrorize Elderly Americans) party with a frozen look on your faces as if someone were waving a turd under your nose. Take a deep breath, though, and stop surfing through those Canada websites. This is where it gets really fascinating. (Of course I’m slightly sociopathic and find fun in some strange things; like history…)

You don't want to miss the part where the tea party true believers, just like the Religious Right that Bush Junior date-raped and dumped during his elections, meet reality. Flushed with imagined power, the rank-and-file fringe element of the Baggers actually believes that the Republican Party is going to leave its Wife for them. This is the same coalition of delusional "Salt-of-the-earth" types (Blazing Saddles subreference, folks...) , paranoid old people and completely whacked out billionaires that Karl Rove cynically co-opted in 2000 by leading them on; using and abandoning them at the altar. The current tea bag herders (Hey, Karl, what’s new?) will have tired of them soon, even though the baggers will do things for them, dirty things, that no respectable political base would.

The most entertainingly insane of the bunch have already been voted off the Island. Angle lost to Harry Reid. Harry Reid! This has to be the psychic equivalent of giving your best pole dance, and still being laughed off the stage; "No-one wants to see that, honey!"

And of course Christine O'Donnell, number one on the Republican MILVF list (Moms I'd like to Vote for- Just $5.99 to access streaming video of the "news conferences"; an extra $50 gets you ten minutes for a private discussion of the Chinese conspiracy, Pinky and the Brain and, just possibly, a happy ending.) This dumbed-down (god help us…) Sarah Palin and her ilk (good word) have possible futures on “Dancing With The Stars”, FOX and the “Late Show Top Ten List”, but what about all the little, pale, pink-eyed people out in the towns and villages that have powered this movement with their energetic banality?

You can actually envision them standing outside the Capitol building in the cold, greasy light of dawn; soiled panties bunched up in their purse, no money for the bus, an ominous itch developing and hot tears of shame carving gullies through their make up. "I did it again! Oh why do I keep falling for the same sweet lies? He's probably putting those campaign videos up on Face Book for his pervert friends? Oh, God!!"

In the meantime the rest of the body politic will move on as the two vaguely more functional ends of our lunatic fringe continuum continue to do whatever we can to screw things up in more surprisingly unforeseen ways.

Here are the parts I’m looking forward to watching (Remember, though, that I do have antisocial tendencies and I’m sort of at loose ends for entertainment since “Lost” went off the air)

1. The Republican Party Civil War as Boehner and McConnell each have to play different hands for different stakes with the Baggers.

2. The bellows of dismay when the Baggers realize that they were a means to an end.

3. The continuing bellows of dismay when the mainstream Republicans realize they’ve played this hand one too many times and that they’ve lost control of the Baggers  This will start to get fun right about the time raising the debt ceiling comes up. It should be as epic as “Lord of the Rings”, with Jim Demint as Sauron.

4. The subtle maneuvering by the Republicans to torpedo Sarah Palin before she can do more damage. She cost them a possible shot at the Senate by backing candidates even less qualified than her. (You want to look thin, stand next to a fat person. You want to look sane, stand next to O’Donnell)

This coming few years can be a lot of fun if you don’t actually think about it or have any stake in the future. Turn on “E”; have a beer and wait for the end. (Of course, I don’t have any kids and the cats will probably die before me so what the hell…)

Meanwhile, somewhere out of the way in an old burnished and worn boxing ring,  Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes continue to trade blows before a silent audience of old white guys. After many hundreds of rounds, neither seems to have a notable advantage. However, Mr. Smith is the only one that appears to be smiling.

Let's sit back and watch the fun, kids. Better bring along that well-thumbed, dog-eared copy of The Wealth of Nations, just in case we need a ruling.

Get comfortable. This is going to take a while...