I entered one of the defining questions of my life into the Google search engine. The returned links discussed cast changes on a popular British television baking show.
Steven Wright asked, “If you’re driving at the speed of light and you turn on your headlights, would they do anything?”
The dialogue in a recent Doctor Who sneaked in the phrase, “Stronger Together”, which was the slogan for Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign.
According to history and/or legend, Albert Einstein came up with his famous equation E = mc2 as a result of a thought exercise, with no semblance of a typical scientific investigation. Just by pondering the issue for however long it took, Einstein deduced that mass and energy could be converted into one another, and that the constant of proportionality depended on the speed of light in empty space, raised to the second power. That Einstein, he deserved his reputation as a genius, which was only reinforced by the frizzy hair and the German accent and the sweaters and the violin.
Which brings me to Donald Trump—a man whose genius lies in extracting commerce and votes out of an unwary public, and perhaps stoking everyone’s anger, either in support or against his personna and politics. I stand with the “against.” The man needs to be stopped, or failing that, at least checked and balanced. I look at him and see a deranged, self-deluded psychopathic bastard who is blinded by his own image in the mirror and the many lies he invents or amplifies on behalf of his bloated ego. His policies are disheartening our allies and empowering our enemies, disenfranchising the underprivileged, bankrupting the country, and don’t get me started on global climate change.
Please vote for Democrats on November 6th, especially for Congress. While you’re at it, go make phone calls or send postcards or convince an occasional or reluctant voter to join you at the polls. We can do this, people. We can save the democracy.
The day may come when we humans lose the ability to think and communicate in complete sentences, nevermind coherent paragraphs that support a common theme.* Some of the current political campaigns seem to support this theory. In Texas, the incumbent Republican Ted Cruz has adopted the strategy of plastering his opponent with sticky-notes that read “liberal,” “abortion,” “open border,” “immigrants,” and so on. As in “Liberal Beto O’Rourke will supply free abortions to the immigrants who come across the open border.” That particular compound claim and its many derivatives are utter gibberish, but I am sure some Longhorn voters believe them anyway.
We are a very divided and screwed-up country.
I have just returned from a family wedding in….wait for it, you might not guess the location….good heavens, it’s Omaha, Nebraska! This very pleasant, very livable city on the great plains features parks and zoos and good-looking restaurants and a first-class art museum, which we toured. Omaha would seem a thousand miles away from serious discontents, except I did notice, out of the corner of my eye, some homeless camping under bridge abutments or begging on street corners. There is no escaping the troubles of the world, not even in Nebraska.
The wedding was elegant and lovely, featuring a bride and groom that I deemed to be especially young and vibrant and beautiful/handsome, in part because that was clearly the case, but also because I am now firmly entrenched in the camp known as “the older relatives.” I realized my station when I started telling stories about departed family, like Great Uncle Teddy (not to be confused with his nephew, also named Teddy and a ‘regular’ uncle, and also alive, alas, only in memory.) Great Uncle Teddy, a lifelong bachelor and serious ladies’ man, by reputation, liked to give the same speech at rehearsal dinners, which was “You don’t have to go through with this. It’s not too late to back out,” etc. etc. Everyone laughed at him, although I’m guessing more nervously than I understood on the occasion I remember, when I was a young lil’ shaver in a junior-cut tuxedo.
To quote Annie Savoy in Bull Durham, “Honey, we all deserve to wear white.” Every bride and groom deserve a perfect ceremony and celebration to start their lives together, and I hope the Omaha Twosome agree that their event was as close to perfect as could be hoped for. (This is a public blog so I don’t want to mention them by name.) Over the years, the travails of daily life and the surrounding environment are bound to diffuse in like methyl mercaptan from a cabbage field (please don’t look that up.) The trick is to be resilient and practical and to laugh off the silly insults from the crazy old uncles.
One person not at the wedding was a certain resident of New York City—which is a three-day drive from Omaha on Interstate 80, or a long afternoon’s airline trip via MSP or ORD, or a zillion miles in cultural terms. I recall her three rules for living in that city within a reasonable budget.
1. Stay out of taxi cabs.
2. Stay out of restaurants.
3. Use other people’s air conditioning.
I’m sure for many observers, the whole point of New York is to gad about in taxis between apartments, restaurants, jobs, museums, and theaters, as per the plotlines on shows like Seinfeld and Sex in the City. An air conditioner may have fallen out of an apartment window, to comic effect, but no one wrestled with paying the electric bills.
Last Friday was my birthday, which means I have made it through another year of trodding the boards and pumping the oxygen, as well as, with my wife, raising two wonderful boys, now ages 13 years and 16 months. I am grateful for all sorts of blessings, which were capped off that night with a steamed lobster followed by birthday cake and presents. Thanks, Druh and Maxwell. And Nathen, too.
We live in Massachusetts, just outside the accepted suburbs of Boston and into a region that seems to be known locally as the Boonies or the Sticks, which are terms I associate mostly with Iowa. My one complaint about my home region are the number of lawn signs I see for various right-wing candidates, including the guy whom I expect will lose big-time to our no-nonsense, in-your-face liberal senator, Elizabeth Warren. Go get ’em, Elizabeth. Do that persistence thing. We need you.
That’s the essay for the day. As always, feel free to post comments on Facebook or the platform of your choice. And go vote!
*As this essay may evidence, I could be suffering the affliction right now.