The Not So Advanced Training Institute

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah The Golden Haggadah, c. 1320

The Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah
The Golden Haggadah, c. 1320

Well, when it comes to stanching libidinal urges, in the case of Josh Duggar, the un-spared rod, limited access to secular entertainment, daily devotionals, and home-schooling were to no avail. Despite his family’s full literal embrace of five-thousand-year-old cultural dictates of nomadic sheepherders (no seed-spilling, frontal hugging, uppity females, e.g.), Josh succumbed to, depending on your point of view, Satan’s solicitations and/or the human hard-wired propensity to seek sexual contact.

As Dana Milbank[1] writes in this morning’s Washington Post, it’s somewhat troubling that such a weird ass family (all of the 19 children’s first names begin with J) would receive boot licks from virtually every Republican seeking their party’s nomination for the presidency. As Milbank points out,

A quarter of Americans are evangelical Christians, but only a small fraction of them are like the Duggars. Only 3 percent of American kids are home-schooled, as the Duggars are. Only 7 percent of Americans think using birth control is morally objectionable, as the Duggars do. As for the percentage of Americans who favor arranged-in-all-but-name marriages? The answer is so obvious there’s no need to ask the question.

Josh Duggar and Jeb Bush

Josh Duggar and Jeb Bush

So why the kowtowing?

Republican primary voters tend to be really conservative radical.

Now that I’ve answered Dana’s question, I thought I’d shift to what I find more interesting, the Duggar family’s homeschool curriculum, the Advanced Training Institute, founded by someone called Bill Gothard (not making up the name) who himself is currently on “indefinite administrative leave” because 34 women have accused him of sexual harassment. Be that as it may, thanks to the website Gawker, I have obtained a work sheet from the ATI, which I would like to share for your entertainment.

According to Gawker,

The lessons themselves consist of bizarre, forced attempts at inserting some type of traditional education into biblical passages. Which is where you get questions such as: “How did the ‘Socratic method’ of reasoning come from a sodomite manner of living?” “How can graphs help to visualize the consequences of lust?” And “How do prime numbers illustrate the principle of ‘one flesh’ in marriage?

For example, here are three examples from “Wisdom Worksheet” On Matthew 5:27-28. (Click on Images for larger viewing)

medicine history science

Obviously, photography is also a manifestation of modernism that the institute finds dangerous.

[1] Milbank claims not to “join in the schadenfreude on the left over the latest case of hypocrisy among family-value conservatives,” but I’d love to see the results of a polygraph strapped to him as he was typing that statement. But come to think of it, Denny Hastert has bumped the Duggars from “the latest case of hypocrisy among family-value conservatives.” Remember during Clinton’s impeachment when Hastert was railing against him?

School’s Out for the Summer

helicopter helicopter

Cue Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out for the Summer,” or, if you prefer, that older ditty, “No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher’s nasty looks,“ which might be updated from my perspective to “no more laptops, no more iPads, no more helicopter moms and dads.”

In case you older readers don’t know, parents can now go on line to keep track of their darlings’ academic progress via an app called “net classroom.” We teachers must post grades from pop quizzes, written homework assignments, vocabulary quizzes, essays, and oral presentations to a site that parents can log onto to mark the progress (or lack there of) of their progeny.

In my 30 years teaching at a prestigious Independent School, I’ve noticed a significant change in parental ambitions for their sons and daughters, which may reflect a national shift from legacy to meritocracy. Back in ’85, before the curse of instantaneous messaging, back when we wrote progress reports by hand, bearing Bic ballpoints down to insure our “good jobs” made it through the carbons onto the yellow and pink sub-copies, parents, many of them laidback lifelong Charlestonians, took more or less a hands-off approach to their children’s education. They seemed to trust that we knew what we were doing. A “C-” here or a “C+” there wasn’t going to keep Drayton Rhett Ball Rutledge Manigault out of Sewanee.

In fact, in the ‘80s, I can only remember one unpleasant encounter with a parent, and I didn’t even teach her son. She was angry because they had missed a deadline for a trip we were taking to the Soviet Union, an unrectifiable problem given deadlines for procuring visas. The conversation seemed to go on for hours.   It was like breaking up with a lover. We kept saying the same things over and over. My wife kept looking over and giving me the index-finger-across- the-neck slice, the universal sign of cut her off now.

The other parental interaction I remember was much more positive. A father, in fact a board member, came up to me and said, “I saw where you failed the boy on that Moby Dick test. Thank you! I caught him with those goddamned CliffNotes. Good job!”

(By the way, that rapscallion student, despite failing a major test that term, did manage to get accepted to Harvard, go to Northwestern for Medical School, and complete a post-doc at Yale).

Over the years, some parents have lost perspective on the weighting of grades. They seem to think that the tiniest assessment might make the difference between their replicated DNA’s attending Stanford or having to slum it at some state university. They seem to have forgotten that we can learn a great deal from our failures. (For example, you’ll never catch me again climbing an extension ladder with a couple of high-gravity IPAs sloshing around in my bloodstream). Anyway, these overweening parents squander their peace of mind by checking grades every hour (I’m not exaggerating) and probably blanch all of the joy of learning from their children who refuse to take intellectual risks because missing one question might make the difference between a distinguished medical career versus 60-hour shifts as an assistant manager at a suburban Sam’s Club.

When a student complains to me about such a parent, I suggest that she demand to see her parent’s high school report cards, which must be preserved given they had studded with A-pluses. Obviously, this suggestion doesn’t endear me to those parents.

But, hey, like I say, school’s out for the summer, so what the hell? Think I’ll put the top down, lay some rubber as I’m leaving the parking lot, crank up Alice Cooper’s anthem and gun it down Folly Road on my way home to the Edge of America.


A Very Brief Peek at What to Expect in the 2015 Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell Tour


Expect a fairly prompt start. Slated for a 7:30 beginning, the lights went down at 7:41 with Emmylou, Rodney, and the band unceremoniously taking the stage clad in what could be street clothes. For really big shots in the music industry, these two are as unpretentious as you get.

The songs – 20 of them – came in quick succession punctuated occasionally with pleasant banter directed at the audience, comprised of mostly old folks. Last night’s show was part of Charleston’s Spoleto Arts Festival, which may have had something to do with the audience’s advanced age. Several of them stiffly fled as the band took their bows as if they didn’t realize that encores were sure to follow.

The set list sandwiches cuts from their new album of duets — The Traveling Kind – between covers and selections from their previous work. They kicked off with a cover of Lucinda Williams’ “I Just Wanted See You So Bad,” (which actually appears on the new album), then went right into “Grievous Angel.” Highlights from the pre-album phase included “Poncho and Lefty,” “Red Dirt Girl,” and “Love Hurts.”

Before they launched into the new songs, Emmylou remarked that she and Rodney had somehow managed to achieve longevity without getting much radio play. Then she said that she’d rather be on a jukebox than a radio to cheers from the audience.

I may have enjoyed the new stuff even more than lead-in tunes. The band — some of whom are not the musicians performing on the record – consisted of Steuart Smith on pedal steel, John somebody on drums, Michael somebody alternating between stand-up and electric bass, a killer keyboardist who also played accordion on the delightful “La Danse de la Joie,” and impressive Australian lead guitarist Jed Hughes who thrilled the crowd with searing solos.

Emmylou announced that we’d just heard most of the new album and then treated us to five more songs.

The lights came up, some septuagenarians headed for the exits, and then Emmylou came back on the stage alone and said that she only played this song – “Hickory Winds” — in South Carolina, and Rodney and the rest of the band ambled out one by one to join in.

So ultimately, what you can expect is 100 plus minutes of Americana music performed by a couple of national treasures.

Political Correctness Academy

Warning: Through no fault of the author’s, the following fascinating and informative piece contains language that marginalized people may or may not find offensive.

* * *

You’ve no doubt all heard the probably specious story that Eskimos have something like 300 or 600 or 300,600 different words for frozen water whereas we denizens of warmer climes only have a handful – sleet, snow, hail, slush, etc. The idea is that because they spend so much time dealing with frozen water they can distinguish subtle differences in its consistency and so it follows that —

Beep Beep Beep!

Un-oh, a new word processing app I just purchased, Offensive Connotative Terminology (OCT), has just generated a pop-up that informs me that “Eskimo” means “raw meat eater,” a pejorative name given to them by enemy tribes to the south and that E-words would rather we refer to them as Inuits, even though, as it turns out, Inuits do in fact eat raw meat. (No wonder then that there is a paucity of synonyms in the Inuit language for fire).

Fellini's "Little Person" nun from his film "Amarcord"

Fellini’s “Little Person” nun from his film “Amarcord”

I’ve lost my train of thought. Where was I? Oh yeah, that creepy obsession Fellini and David Lynch have with midgets. What’s the scoop on that?

Beep Beep Beep!

The damn thing’s gone off again. Looks like the word “midget” set it off. Let’s see, here’s a link in the pop-up that might offer an explanation.


Midget, denotation, “very small fly.” Popularized by PT Barnum and therefore associated with freak shows. Politically correct alternatives, “little person,” “dwarf,” “person with dwarfism,” or “person of short stature.”

Forget it, no way I’m going to write about Fellini and Lynch now. Try crafting a sonorous sentence with “person of short stature,” and to my sensibility “midget” conjures a less ominous image than “dwarf,” but anyway, I gotta go. I think I used “midgets” instead of “dwarves” in a piece I wrote about Folly Beach’ s freak show of a tavern, the Sand Dollar Social Club, a while back, so I better go back and edit it. [LINK TO SAND DOLLAR PIECE]

Beep! Beep! Beep!

OTC Suggestion: replace “freak show” with “side show.”

Okay, that’s it. I’m out of here.




Imagine your father at seven, at recess, down on one knee

outside the stick scrawled circumference of a marble ring.

In his drawstring bag: clambroths, corkscrews, steelies, crystals.

A cat’s eye rests on his cocked thumb, crocked in the pocket

of a curved index finger catapult. He prepares to shoot,

to run the ring, to gather lootlike handfuls.


Imagine your mother a gum machine. Round

and finite, an array of flavors in strata, waiting for

puberty’s pennies, the shiny orbs, one by one,

patiently waiting their turn

to spin clanging down the chute

battering the hinged door that dispenses.


A Lonely Impulse of Delight

reefer_boyI suspect that I’m approaching the Guinness World Record for the highest number of adolescent behavioral modification assemblies attended by a member of the species homo sapiens sapiens.   I saw my very first around 1970 when I was a high school student myself.  It was an anti recreational drug film with a plot about as believable as Plan 9 from Outer Space’s scenario of ETs resurrecting the Earth’s dead to prevent scientists from producing a doomsday weapon that would destroy the universe.

The high school film featured predatory pushers who give away cannabis so they can hook their victims on “harder stuff,” more lucrative drugs like LSD. They snare two victims, air-traffic controllers.   Of course, eventually in the control tower during the descent of two planes, our acid-addicted protagonists suffer flashbacks featuring vintage psychedelic special effects – woo-WOO-woo-WOO . . .

Note the year, 1970.   Some kids in my high school were not unfamiliar with cannabis when they were herded into the auditorium to watch the film. The idea of people giving it away would have been a fantasy-come-true for them. Not surprisingly, feeding students inaccurate information tends to make them dismiss the entire message, even aspects that are true.

Like that 1970 didactic school assembly, many of the school assemblies I’ve sat through in my 29 years as a high school teacher have been misguided. Over the years, I’ve been bombarded with slides of chancre-encrusted genitalia as the physician describing the abominations reminded us that he didn’t take Medicaid patients, I’ve squirmed in my seat as a highway patrolman walked us through horrific photographs of mangled corpses who would have been lucky to have been pulled over for a DUI, I’ve listened attentively as a paraplegic described the sickening feeling of realizing he had no feeling in his lower body, and perhaps worst of all, I’ve suffered through forty-five minutes of a one-armed woman in a tank top running up and down the aisles of the auditorium to show and tell us just how one “bad decision” had robbed her of not only an arm (thanks to the tank top we could see all too plainly the gnarled stumplet at her armpit) but of a promising volleyball career.

On the other hand, I have also witnessed a very effective anti-recreational drug assembly conducted by a neurologist from MUSC who leveled with the students and admitted that cannabis did not necessarily lead to harder drugs and the odds of their dying from smoking it were negligible. However, she did convincingly portray via x-ray images how recreational drugs can adversely affect the amygdala, that wonderful compact cluster of neurons “up there” that triggers pleasant feelings. She argued that prolonged use of drugs like marijuana essentially destroys a person’s ability to feel joy. In fact, mighty Keith Richards more or less says the same thing in his autobiography. He quit heroin, he says, because he spent almost all of his time figuring out how to score but didn’t even get off anymore. To get off, the abuser needs more frequent and stronger doses and eventually ends up incapable of experiencing pleasure, and even if the abuser were to quit, his ability to experience joy may be forever impaired.

Dean Potter 1972-2016

Dean Potter 1972-2016

I thought of that assembly when I learned Sunday of the death of Dean Potter, a dare devil extraordinaire who got his kicks free-climbing precipitous rock faces, often solo, using only his hands and feet, i.e., unaided by ropes, safety harnesses, etc. He did carry a parachute in case he fell. Once he reached a summit, he might leap off and parachute down or jump off in a suit equipped with Rocky-the Squirrel wings and glide through the air like a superhero until he had to yank the ripcord and parachute to safety. This very extreme sport is called “wingsuit-flying,” and if you’re unfamiliar with it, check out the video below of Potter in action and the next one of someone named Alexander Polli threading the needle so to speak.


Alas, with his friend, fellow wingsuit flyer, Graham Hunt, Mr. Potter died last Saturday trying to replicate a “flight” they had taken earlier. Like the video just above, they attempted to negotiate a notch, and according to news reports, Hunt hit the side of the wall while Potter cleared the notch, but then crashed.  A witness reports hearing “disconcerting, loud sounds in succession that suggested impact.”

I know very little about adrenaline rushes outside of the relatively safe experience of dropping down the face of an overhead wave in a hurricane swell, but to Potter that would be the drug equivalent of a cup of decaf.   Did each accomplished unbelievable feat with its requisite adrenaline rush spur Potter on to attempt even more audacious exploits? Was his thrill-seeking analogous to needing stronger and stronger fixes?

Maybe not. Potter had done the flight before, but whatever the case, he died doing what he loved, and how many of us can claim that?

An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

I know that I shall meet my fate
Somewhere among the clouds above;
Those that I fight I do not hate
Those that I guard I do not love;
My country is Kiltartan Cross,
My countrymen Kiltartan’s poor,
No likely end could bring them loss
Or leave them happier than before.
Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
Nor public man, nor cheering crowds,
A lonely impulse of delight
Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
I balanced all, brought all to mind,
The years to come seemed waste of breath,
A waste of breath the years behind
In balance with this life, this death.

~WB Yeats


3:24 A.M. Tuesday and Counting

Alas, Lonnie sliding into second in Game 7 of the '91 Series when he had a clear path home in a 0-0 tie.

Alas, Lonnie sliding into second in Game 7 of the ’91 Series when he had a clear path home in a 0-0 tie.


Another ditty courtesy of my major muse, Insomnia, who brings us those dark hours when ghosts— in this case Lonnie Smith of the 1991 Atlanta Braves — crawl out of their shallow graves to grieve us.


A coon must be prowling round the water garden,
rattling gravel, or else frogs would be drowning out
the barking of that distant dog.

Sometimes with the windows open
I can hear the ocean, but not tonight —
just the whisper of insistent desperate yipping.

Here come the croaks — that’s better,
the hoarse sturm und drang of their desires
seem to trivialize mine.

When’s the last time I let out
a primal scream? Was it in the ’91 Series when
Lonnie Smith failed to round third and score?

Too bad I can’t slam shut my mind
like the lid of a laptop. Too bad Lonnie got deked.
Too bad that was then and now is now.


Trafficking in Mockery

[Warning: if you are a language purist, you may find the following sentence offensive because it contains toxic levels of tautology, that rhetorical error more commonly known as redundancy, or “needless repetition”.]

marx-lennonLike so many of my fellow left-leaning quasi-communistic bleeding-heart progressive liberal pinkos, I listen to NPR in the mornings on the way to work and in the afternoons on my way home. I teach at an academy where I attempt to indoctrinate the sons and daughters of prominent citizens into post-Enlightenment thinking. In other words, via a survey of British literature, I guide students out of the fog-bound valleys of medieval worldviews. We begin our journey in the dragon-ridden wastes of Beowulf’s Geatland, hike along an upward trail past Canterbury Cathedral, through the killing fields of Macbeth’s Scotland, as we climb Alexander Pope’s metaphoric mountain, reaching three months later the summit of the 20th Century where we can enjoy the far-reaching vistas that history and science afford. It’s a thankless often dangerous, trek, but, by Darwin, damn it, someone needs to do it.

Anyway, listening to NPR is about as sun-splashed and uplifting as the Marianas Trench. Each morning and afternoon familiar voices catalogue the latest beheadings, mass migrant drownings, pandemics, news from Syria, coup d’etats, and/or pronouncements from Ted Cruz; in other words, I get a daily digest of TS Eliot called “the immense panorama of futility and anarchy that is contemporary history.”

Bamiyan Buddhas, before and after

Bamiyan Buddhas, before and after

I particularly find upsetting when fanatical Islamists (speaking of fog-bound medievalism) destroy the artistic heritage of their civilizations, for example the Taliban’s destruction of 1700 year-old sandstone statues known as the Bamiyan Buddhas in the Hindu Kush Mountains of central Afghanistan or ISIL’s bulldozing an 8th BCE Assyrian gateway in Arslan Tash.

It brings to mind William Butler Yeats’ poem “Nineteen-Hundred and Nineteen,” written during the Irish Civil War. The poem takes a despairing look at the human propensity to destroy what is beautiful. It’s divided into six sections marked by Roman numerals, and the first section is divided into six stanzas of ottava rima.

Here’s the first stanza, eight lines with the rhyme scheme ABABABCC, and in rhyme impoverished English, making those three rhymes sound like straightforward speech is the mark of a master poet.

MANY ingenious lovely things are gone

That seemed sheer miracle to the multitude,

protected from the circle of the moon

That pitches common things about. There stood

Amid the ornamental bronze and stone

An ancient image made of olive wood —

And gone are Phidias’ famous ivories

And all the golden grasshoppers and bees.

He’s alluding to now lost artistic wonders of the ancient world like Greek sculptor Phidias’ statue of Zeus in Olympia and his statue of Athena that once graced the Parthenon. Yeats was a mystic, so he was apt to believe that the mutability of the moon could affect earthly events. Nothing tricky here: beautiful things disappear in time.

Here’s the second stanza of Section I:

We too had many pretty toys when young:

A law indifferent to blame or praise,

To bribe or threat; habits that made old wrong

Melt down, as it were wax in the sun’s rays;

Public opinion ripening for so long

We thought it would outlive all future days.

O what fine thought we had because we thought

That the worst rogues and rascals had died out.

He’s suggesting that like the ancients his generation also had noble “things” when they were young, “things” like established, disinterested laws, humane traditions, etc. His calling these noble institutions “toys” suggests indignation at being so naïve back in the day. Optimistic Victorians (though Irish, Yeats was born in 1865 and spent a good bit of time in London) enjoyed decades of peace and prosperity, and optimistic members of that generation thought that progress would continue perpetually. WWI, the Russian Revolution, and the Irish Revolution disabused them of that illusion. Indeed, it seems to this NPR listener that “the worst rogues and rascals” will never die out.

Stanza 3 of Section I is an elaboration of these ideas:

All teeth were drawn, all ancient tricks unlearned,

And a great army but a showy thing;

What matter that no cannon had been turned

Into a ploughshare? Parliament and king

Thought that unless a little powder burned

The trumpeters might burst with trumpeting

And yet it lack all glory; and perchance

The guardsmen’s drowsy chargers would not prance.

Note the Biblical allusion to Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 2:4 that swords will be changed into ploughshares in the coming ages of peace. Yeats seems to be saying, even though we didn’t literally change weaponry into agricultural implements, armies were sort of theatrical relics, “showy thing[s]” that had to be hauled out every so often in parades to make sure “drowsy chargers,” i.e., horses, would keep in practice for performances.


Now days are dragon-ridden[1], the nightmare

Rides upon sleep: a drunken soldiery

Can leave the mother, murdered at her door,

To crawl in her own blood, and go scot-free;

The night can sweat with terror as before

We pieced our thoughts into philosophy,

And planned to bring the world under a rule,

Who are but weasels fighting in a hole.

This stanza needs no interpretation. Its anger is palpable, and I love the lines “The night can sweat with terror as before/We pieced our thoughts into philosophy,” which serve as a great description of the nakedness a tragic figure like Job or Lear suffers when his world view has been brutally stripped from him.

The next stanza, however, is not so transparent:

He who can read the signs nor sink unmanned

Into the half-deceit of some intoxicant

From shallow wits; who knows no work can stand,

Whether health, wealth or peace of mind were spent

On master-work of intellect or hand,

No honour leave its mighty monument,

Has but one comfort left: all triumph would

But break upon his ghostly solitude.

I’ll paraphrase: he’s talking about people intellectually astute enough to look at the dead end hopelessness of the human condition without seeking escape through platitudinous bullshit, people who realize that all of civilization one day will be rubble. Despite the difficulty in carving a 55 meter Buddha in the face of a cliff or composing an oeuvre of gorgeous poems, these works will one day disappear. The “one comfort” I guess is that triumph might distract those people from their ghostly solitude, their heroic stoicism in the face of futility.

Section I ends with this stanza:

But is there any comfort to be found?

Man is in love and loves what vanishes,

What more is there to say? That country round

None dared admit, if such a thought were his,

Incendiary or bigot could be found

To burn that stump on the Acropolis,

Or break in bits the famous ivories

Or traffic in the grasshoppers or bees.

Yep, what we love disappears, and vandals burn and loot and sell artifacts; they “burn” and “break in bits” and traffic in stolen artifacts.

The poem seethes with anger in a mocking tone that turns on itself. Here’s the killer 5th section:

Come let us mock at the great

That had such burdens on the mind

And toiled so hard and late

To leave some monument behind,

Nor thought of the levelling wind.


Come let us mock at the wise;

With all those calendars whereon

They fixed old aching eyes,

They never saw how seasons run,

And now but gape at the sun.


Come let us mock at the good

That fancied goodness might be gay,

And sick of solitude

Might proclaim a holiday:

Wind shrieked — and where are they?


Mock mockers after that

That would not lift a hand maybe

To help good, wise or great

To bar that foul storm out, for we

Traffic in mockery.


Yeatsian gyre

Yeatsian gyre

A problem with Yeats — perhaps I should say the problem with Yeats — was that he had crazy ideas, ideas like history transpires in circular motions like an electric current running up the coils of an outstretched Slinky. He thought that the 20th Century had whirled us into a new age of barbarism, and, of course, the 20th Century sucked, and the 21st continues to suck.   In another, better poem of his, “The Second Coming” he wrote, “The best lack all conviction/While the worst are full of passionate intensity, “ which rather aptly describes the characters featured on Morning Edition and All Things Considered – conviction-less Hillary and Jeb on the one hand and passionately intense Osama Ben Laden and Abu Bakr al-Baghdad on the other, two bigots who certainly didn’t make it very far up science’s summit.

Better, I suspect, to turn off the damn radio, roll down the window, and let the wind blow back your hair – that is, if you have hair.

[1] Interesting, when I used “dragon-ridden” to describe Beowulf’s Geatland, I had forgotten the term appears in Yeats’s poem. O beware of plagiarism, O seeker of academic aid. Cite your sources. Orwellian search engines lie in wait.

Guilty Pleasures

David Carr

David Carr

In the wake of the the death of David Carr, the New York Times, his employer, ran a series of reverential articles extolling his wit, reporting skills, craftsmanship, generosity, work ethic, etc. He was by all indications what my friend Jim Klein calls a “cat” — short for “hep cat” — what Cab Calloway defines in his Hepster Dictionary as “a guy who knows all the answers, understands jive.”

While I was checking out Carr postmortem, I ran across a video [VIEW HERE] of him and his colleague, film critic AO Scott, discussing “guilty pleasures” — in Scott’s words “the stuff you like but maybe you don’t want other people to know you like.”

They rattled off rather bland shit (the appropriate word) that they didn’t mind admitting they enjoyed, like reading the New York Post and watching Jersey Shore (more heroic admissions might have included Japanese Massage Porn or collecting vintage tampon cases, but who can blame them?).

Carr and Scott then roamed the Times Building “on a dirty Safari,” as Carr put it, eliciting from their colleagues embarrassing indulgences that no self-respecting cat would ever admit to, like listening to on a regular basis the Archies’ song “Sugar, Sugar.”

narcissismI bring up guilty pleasures because I’m re-reading Christopher Lasch’s The Culture of Narcissism, a book I once defended in a published letter in Newsweek, a book that President Jimmy Carter cited in a widely panned speech accusing his countryman of suffering from a malaise, a book I had hoped in this second reading would prove Lasch a forgotten prophet, but, alas, Lasch’s cultural analysis turns out to be self-righteous, all-knowing, hectoring, in short, a heaping pile of Freudian gobbledygook.

Like when you read about a strange exotic disease and start thinking you’re experiencing its symptoms, I’m fairly certain now that me-myself-and-I suffer from a narcissistic personality, that I’m an utterly self-absorbed asshole in constant need for affirmation from others, someone who has constructed a way-too-cool persona to cover his pathetic insecurities. Unlike most narcissists, however, I have formed a couple of lasting relationships, and I don’t have any interest in celebrity culture, so perhaps there’s hope for me.

Therefore, in an attempt to remove the way-too-cool mask of my persona, I thought it might be therapeutic to admit to a couple of my guilty pleasures (despite the narcissistic indulgence of doing so in the first place more or less confirms my self-diagnosis). Nevertheless, here goes.

Guilty Pleasure #1. I love reading obituaries and consider myself a master critic of the genre. I read perfect strangers’ obits from the first sentence through their career recaps down through the survivors all the way to where memorials can be sent. I especially take note of verbs indicating passage from this life to non-being. Just last Sunday I read about some 98-year-old who “has stepped into the glory.”

Guilty Pleasure #2. What started out as an anthropological exercise of studying television series The Lone Ranger as an artifact from the Late Fifties has degenerated into a full-blown addiction. How can someone who earns his living teaching literature suspend his disbelief and squander hours watching a show where horses gallop from the wide open plains directly into a film set with fake trees? How can he ignore the never-ending chain of coincidences? The guns shot crisply from hands 20 meters away?  Good questions. Search me.

Guilty Pleasure #3. The Monkees. Not as bad as the Archies, But close. I hasten to add I only own one song, “I’m Not Your Steppin’ Stone.” It could be worse. “Daydream Believer,” for example.

Okay, enough of this confessional shit. I need to get back to writing my memoirs.

The Invasion of Texas – Coming to a Theater Near You Soon!

I’ve just come up with a great idea for a movie, an action packed contemporary shoot-‘em- up extravaganza and cautionary tale mixed into one, Masada meets Waco, a tale of states right patriotism, the importance the 2nd amendment, and the nefariousness of a godless federal government led by a closet Muslim who signs executive orders as frequently as Phil Mickelson signs autographs.

I’m going to call the movie The Invasion of Texas.

governor watching TV

Here’s a blitzkrieg scenario. The federal government plans a massive multi-state military simulation exercise called Jade-15, ostensibly  to train the army for foreign desert engagements; however, the entire operation’s real goal is to take over Texas, place it under martial law, and to confiscate all weaponry from Texas’s citizenry.

The movie opens with the governor channel surfing from abomination to abomination, the Bruce Jenner Diane Sawyer interview, a Fox News special on Benghazi, Miley Cyrus twerking.  His cell’s ringtone “Don’t Mess with Texas” goes off.

It’s Chuck Norris (playing himself) asking for an emergency meeting.



Using the image above, Morris explains what the feds are really up to.  The governor calls up the national guard and gives Norris permission to go underground.

The movie flashes back and forth from White House/ISIS planning sessions and Norris planning sessions.  Employing carrier pigeons to evade the prying eyes and ears of the NSA, Norris assembles a ragtag group of Dirty Dozen-like patriots insurrectionists (e.g., Ned Nugent, Sarah Palin, etc) who develop an elaborate plan to thwart the bad guys, i.e the USA.

Jade-15 is launched, and the Texas Patriots counter the attack but find that their shotguns, hunting rifles, snub-nose revolvers, and even their AK-17s are no match against the tanks, F-17 Fighters, attack drones, Navy Seals, Green Berets, Army Rangers, and nuclear arsenal that the USA has at its disposal.  the Lone Star State defenders, including the governor, are driven back to San Antonio where they seek refuge in the Alamo.

In the last scene the governor Custer-like with a pistol takes down Indian American soldier after American soldier until his handgun jams and the camera mercifully pans skyward into a setting sun.

The End


alamo attack