That Was the Year That Was

One of the many Mongolians who didn't click on this site in 2014

One of the many Mongolians who didn’t click on this site in 2015

Thanks to all of ya’ll who clicked on the blog this year, which received 20.022 hits by visitors from 110 countries. I’d like especially to thank those solo souls in Lithuania, Guadeloupe, Liechtenstein, Ethiopia, the Isle of Man, Libya, Congo-Kinshasa, not to mention whoever it was in Papua New Guinea looking for porn who got sidetracked in Hoodooland.

Of course, several countries were no-shows, including predictable sourpusses like North Korea, Mongolia, and Greenland, but come on, Botswana, Paraguay, and Fiji, where’s your sense of adventure?

Happily, except for a death-haunted January that featured a stem cell transplant, 2015 was a big improvement over 2014, so I thought I’d offer a reprise of some of the most popular posts.


Although “Endangered Lowcountry SC Locutions,” featuring my mother and written exactly a week before my her death, was by far January’s the most popular post, I prefer “Super Bowl XLIX Preview,” which I could easily update this year by merely dropping those clunky Roman Numerals designating forty-nine for the sleek – dare I call them Arabic – numerals 5 and 0.


20140511_inq_jriordan11-bOne of the top news stories in February was an outbreak of measles at Disney World, which brought to light that luddites on both the far right and far left are not vaccinating their replicated DNA, so I produced this piece “Natural Selection at Work” that features not only a vintage photo of smiling polio victims but also a full color photo of an autistic dog.

February also brought us the Brian Williams scandal, which sent me into true confession mode. Dear Readers, believe it or not, I’m no stranger to “misremembering,” as the self-explanatory title “My Most Cherished Mismemory Debunked” testifies.



March came in like a lion with a very popular post, “Ten Literary Riddles.” If you don’t want to see the answers, don’t scroll down past number 10.”


granda-and-ted2What better way to celebrate a month dedicated to fools than a post entitled “A Brief Analysis of the Likability of 2016 Presidential Candidates,” which is so fair and balanced that Larry Sally, my most ardently Republican friend, says he more or less agrees with it.

I also caught Dylan in concert for the only-god-knows-how-manyeth-time, and “Review of Bob Dylan Concert 17 April 2015” got a ton of hits.


governor-watching-tvMay brought the news that Texas’s wheelchair bound governor was preparing the state for an invasion from the US Federal government, and I realized what a great movie it would make, hence, “The Invasion of Texas – Coming to a Theater Near You Soon!”

Like Donald Trump, I ain’t no fan of political correctness, as this piece “Political Correctness Academy” demonstrates.



Folly Beach, my adopted home barrier island, is a frequent subject, and this piece “Folly Beach’s Cat Lady, Potential Serial Killer” still generates some traffic on the site.

Also, in June, I got my hands on the uncorrected proofs of “Elijah’s Wald’s ‘Dylan Goes Electric,’” which was picked up by the mega Dylan website “Expecting Rain: Bob Dylan.” Wald himself weighs in with a comment on the post.

Alas, June also brought us the Charleston Massacre, and this post “Way Past Time” struck a chord.

I also finally got to go to a Jewish wedding: “My First Jewish Wedding.”


A lazy month that featured video of a hotdog eating contest (“Celebrating the 4th on Folly after the Alcohol Ban”), a paean to drive-in movies (“Enjoying Genocide at the Drive-in“), and more spoiled elite college student bashing (“America’s Culture of Hyperachievemnt among the Affluent).


donald-trump-750x455Oh my God, where has the summer gone? Life is short. I’ll be dead in no time. Better turn to the Good Book. And who better to lead a Bible lesson than the Donald: “Bible Study with Donald Trump.


Here’s a poem: “What Guilt Feels Like: A Series of Pickpocketed Similes,” an exercise in collage.

And a behind-the-scenes peek of my decadent lifestyle hanging out with beat poets at Chico Feo: “Folly Beach Life, Ain’t the Good Life, But It’s My Life.”

kaye-paulAnd I’m surprised this post didn’t catch on, a “Casting the Republican Primary Farce,” in which I find photos of dead movie/tv starts who are – drumroll – dead ringers for the Republican candidates.


When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang upon those bows that shake against the cold, what better time than to go all nostalgic: “That Time I Threatened to Hang Myself If Student Housing Didn’t Transfer me out of That Dorm Suite I Shared with Antithetical Monsters.


Actually, not only do leaves not turn yellow where I live, they don’t even fall from the trees: “Whining on Thanksgiving.”


Which brings us to December, today, Christmas. I’ll give Santa the final word:

“Santa Agonistes.”

Naw, I get the final word. Thanks so much for reading. I sincerely appreciate it.

If college’s so scary, why not join the army?

brave-new-world-bookHow did Orwell and Huxley not predict this dystopian commonplace of Late Empire America – a generation of highly gifted, hypersensitive students in higher education who jolt into Viet Nam vet flashback mode at the mere mirroring in fiction of a situation that once traumatized them? We’re talking situations as insignificant as garden variety bullying, students who police speech the way the KGB policed Solzhenitsyn.

It’s gotten so bad Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld won’t play college campuses anymore.

It only takes two generations. The progeny of grandparents who heaved across the Pacific in malodorous, un-air-conditioned steerage take grand mal umbrage if you assume they’re good at math. According to Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt, “a student group at UCLA staged a sit-in” during a class of an education professor and “read a letter aloud ‘expressing their concerns about the campus’s hostility toward students of color’” because the professor “had noted that a student had wrongly capitalized the first letter of the word indigenous” and “[l]owercasing the capital I was an insult to the student and her ideology.”

140206_dx_wellesleynudestatue-crop-promo-mediumlarge-2I wrote about one instance of this hypersensitivity last February [The Delicate, Censorious Damsels of Wellesley] after reading that outraged students had gotten up a petition to remove a statue that they found offensive (a pasty, slightly overweight bald man sleepwalking in his briefs) because of its “triggering thoughts regarding sexual assault for many[1] members of our campus community.” The key word here is triggering – you see the statue, it flips on a memory of a sexual assault you suffered, so your personal trauma demands that public artwork be censored.

Nagasaki c. 1946

Nagasaki c. 1946

Okay, I’ll go ahead and admit my prejudice. My old man was a tough guy. He was stationed at Nagasaki right after the bomb blast when he was 17. He didn’t talk about it at all, but he did tell me one story when I was in college and he was drunk [trigger warning: depravity] involving a prostitute, a chest of drawers, and a baby’s corpse. I suspect this incident didn’t contribute to the mental health of a seventeen year old, but it didn’t prevent him from watching WW2 movies nor did he demand the world make accommodations for that mischance.

On the other hand, I don’t disagree with Kate Manne’s contention in her Times’ editorial that a voluntary “heads-up” to students on potentially shocking content makes sense — it seems like good manners to me. On the other hand, mandatory warnings on novels like The Great Gatsby are worthy of Swiftean scorn. The reactionary Scots-Irish-English mongrel me says, “If college’s so scary, why not join the army?”

Wallace Steven wrote in “A High-Toned All Christian Woman,” “This will make widows wince. But fictive things/Wink as they will. Wink most when widows wince.”[2]

Nowadays, it’s the most elite of the younger generation doing the wincing. Doesn’t bode well. A wave of fresh immigrants just might do us a world of good.


[1] 7, 15, 38, 161, 323?

[2] By “this” he means highly imaginative art

Good Night Moon with Trigger Warning

Good Night Moon with Trigger Warning

I had not heard of a “trigger warning” until I read the New York Times article of 17 May 2014, but I must say the phenomenon doesn’t surprise me because twice in six years as an English Department chair, I have had parents complain about required reading, not because of graphic sex or violence, but because children might find the dénouements of A Hand Maid’s Tale (rising seniors) and Of Mice and Men (rising 8th graders) depressing. “Why,” the mother of the senior whined, “with so many uplifting books out there, do you have to choose such a depressing one?”

In my email I patiently explained that “unlike most movies, great literature provides students with a realistic portrait of the world and endows them with the vicarious experience that comes with experiencing the struggles, triumphs, and, yes, defeats of its characters.” Or, in other words, life is a bitch, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. We all die, almost all of us unpleasantly, our last breaths rattling out as our bodies spew the contents of our bladders and colons in a Dantean horror blast of shit and piss, so experiencing these bummer experiences secondhand might provide us with a wee bit of inoculation.

By the way, the previous sentence should have, according to many college students across the country, been preceded by a trigger warning in case a reader had witnessed a loved one’s dying and suffer from reading the sentence post traumatic stress. A warning like this: “If you have ever witnessed the cessation of life, please don’t read the following sentence because it graphically describes said cessation.”

Students at several universities are demanding that professors attach trigger warnings to their syllabi to protect the hypersensitive from abstract re-exposure to rape, suicide, violence, foul language, misogyny, drug overdoses, traffic accidents, flat tires, unpleasant smelling locker rooms, Barry Manilow concerts . . .

The first five of the above catalogue suggest that we might have to bid adieu to Mr. Faulkner, not to mention Master Will himself. The Times article actually begins with a Rutgers’ student’s complaint that The Great Gatsby needs a warning because “a variety of scenes that reference gory, abusive and misogynistic violence.”

Plus, Tom cries like a baby when he sees a box of dog biscuits.