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One day, after a brief sojourn at my sister’s house on the Mendocino coast, I stopped at Booneville’s bakery and coffee shop for a breakfast. I ordered a coffee and a scone. As I sat down at a table by the window, I noticed a copy of the local newspaper that someone had left behind. I picked it up started reading as I ate my breakfast.

The newspaper’s masthead identified it as the Anderson Valley Advertiser. Its motto Fanning the Flames of Discontent sounded to me more like a call to scratch an itch than to a revolution. The paper also claimed that it was the Last Newspaper in California. I had no idea what that meant.

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The office of the Anderson Valley Advertiser and its Editor.

On the front page,  a lengthy article appeared entitled, The Courtroom As Porn Parlor. I surmised it would prove diverting and began to read. It reported on a trial recently concluded in Ukiah, the Mendocino County Seat.

It seems that a 15-year-old girl from the coastal hamlet of Point Arena was, as has been common with teenagers forever, unhappy with the behavioral restrictions imposed on her by her mother, a single mother, who worked nights and whose husband, the girl’s father, lived in another state. The mom, in the running for mother of the year, responded to her daughter’s complaints by threatening her wayward daughter with being sent off to live with her father with “all his rules.”

The daughter, as teenagers will, sought solace elsewhere. In this case, on the internet, and in social media, especially rap sites and chat rooms. Eventually, and as expected, her pleas and complaints elicited a sympathetic response from a seeming sympathetic 25-year-old young man, Thessalonian Love. Rap Star Love as he came to be known in the article. Rap Star resided at the time in the less than picturesque city of San Bernardino. One of Rap Stars earliest and perhaps most effective messages to our Point Arena ingenue intended, I assume, to soothe emotional turmoil experienced by the troubled young lady  declared:

“Yeah, I’m a guy, so show me them titties, bitch, and send me a ass shot!”

Responding eagerly to such endearments our ingenue and Thessalonian eventually agreed that he would travel to Mendocino, take her away from her drab existence besides the crashing surf, rolling hills and redwood forests and introduce her to the excitement of life in beautiful downtown San Bernardino.

Somehow, Mom got wind of this and when Love the Lothario presented himself at the girl’s school he was met not by the object of his affections but by the Sheriff who promptly arrested him on various charges of attempting to corrupt a minor and human trafficking.

The trial of Thessalonian Love aka Rap Star Love commenced with his lawyer’s opening statement to the jury that began:

“I don’t think 15-year-old girls still call it a pee-pee anymore,

and continued;

“As for oral copulation, we’ve had President Clinton discussing it on TV long before this little girl was even born. And if any of you have listened to rap music, like most 15-year-olds have, you know it’s not unusual, or foreign and, frankly, these girls not only call their vagina a pussy, they refer to themselves — their gender collectively, despite the progressive achievements of the feminist movement — by the same terminology.”

And further on;

“We don’t know what this girl and her friends had to say about this ‘rap star’ coming to see her, but we can imagine they were pretty excited.”

Indeed.

The trial lasted ten days mostly made up of reading into the record or listening to the recorded communications between the young lovers. I would like to imagine that the jurors, hearing the rap exchanges, saw the young lovers as modern versions of Romeo and Juliet’s, but I doubt it.

As fascinating and entertaining as this may have been, however, it was not the most interesting thing that happened during the trial. No, not by a long shot.

The defendant took the stand. Unusual though it may have been, it, in itself, was not particularly interesting. What was, was that after a day on the stand attempting to explain himself, Thessalonian, began to lose hope, so after court was closed for the day, as he was being returned to the jail by the bailiff, Rap Star Love escaped.

The entire police force of Ukiah, including its four-person SWAT team and its K-9 Corps, was called out to search for him. They searched for him all night to no avail. This was odd because as cities go Ukiah is distinctly modest. In fact, even as towns go, Ukiah would still not shed its modesty.
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The next morning, a bailiff on the way to the court spotted our Thessalonian standing motionless in front of the town’s Walgreen’s and took him into custody. After feeding him breakfast he promptly returned him to the courtroom to resume his testimony. Unfortunately, Rap Star, not having slept all night, would periodically nod off during questioning.

Later during the trial, after Love complained to his attorney bitterly and loudly (out of the hearing of the Jury of course) that he was not receiving the quality of defense for which he was not paying, his attorney was overheard responding:

“You haven’t listened to a single thing I’ve said, and now you are in so deep there’s hardly anything I can do to save you from even the weakest charges they have against you. So, please be quiet for a minute, and let me think how best to salvage this mess.”

Thessalonian Love was quickly convicted by the jury on all counts and before sentencing on those charges now awaits trial for escaping while in custody.

All I could think of as I finished reading the article was, “Who knew things like this happened among Mendocino’s rolling hill and vineyards?”

During the recent blistering heat wave, the temperature reached 104 to 106 degrees  or more ( 40-41 degrees Celsius for those that figure these things that way)  here in the Golden Hills beside the Great Valley. I spent my days indoors to escape the heat. With little else to do, I entertained myself thinking great thoughts, like why 0 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale is where it is, sort of hanging out there on nothing except that you know you are pretty damn cold, unlike the Celsius or Kelvin scale where 0 is set at the freezing point of water or absolute zero. Well, for your information, 0 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale was based upon Mr. Fahrenheit’s (for whom the scale was named) measurement of when a solution of one-half water and one-half salt freezes. I have no idea why he thought that was so important.

So, now you know why and I’ll bet a thimble full of my bellybutton lint you’ve pondered that way more often than you’ve pondered why do fools fall in love. The reason one would not think about Why Do Fools Fall In Love is that it was a song sung by that great 13-year-old rock sensation Frankie Lymon in 1956 and is probably remembered only by people my age.

Anyway, I recall attending a concert at the Apollo Theater in Brooklyn headlined by Frankie and his group The Teenagers. After the show, while Frankie was leaving the theater, he was met by a bunch of toughs who asked him the age old question, “ You think you’re so great, don’t you?” To which Frankie unwisely responded, ‘Yes I do,” and for which he was soundly trashed while his home boys the Teenagers ran away. Frankie’s career never recovered.

If you have never heard the tune, I recommend you do so. I promise it will never again leave your mind. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2sAHiR0rkJg) Here are the lyrics;

Ooooo wah, oooooo wah, ooooo wah, oooooo wah,
ooooo wah, oooooo wah, Why do fools fall in love

Why do birds sing so gay
And lovers await the break of day?
Why do they fall in love?
Why does the rain fall from up above?
Why do fools fall in love?
Why do they fall in love?

Love is a losing game,
Love can be a shame I
know of a fool, you see,
For that fool is me!
Tell me why, tell me why?

Why do birds sing so gay
And lovers await the break of day?
Why do they fall in love?
Why does the rain fall from up above?
Why do fools fall in love?
Why do they fall in love?

Why does my heart skip a crazy beat?
For I know it will reach defeat!
Tell me why, tell me why?
Why do fools fall in love?

Why-Do-Fools-Fall-in-Love

We are number one:

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in 2012 Time Magazine reported that the US is the world’s largest exporter of sperm. Hooray for us!

The article goes on to mention that sperm of a growth sector in the American economy, “From just a handful of vials 10 years ago, American sperm exports have grown into a multimillion-dollar business.”

Time also reported that in the last decade Virginia’s Ben Seisler’s frozen sperm has impregnated at least 21 women producing oner 70 offspring. Atta boy Ben! Ben when asked why he did it, admitted he needed the money for college and added, “I guess I was just dumb.”

Incidentally, Ben is Jewish. Apparently there is a high international demand for Jewish sperm. I do not know why that is or what it means in the greater scheme of things. i wonder if male children of Ben’s sperm should be circumcised? It is times like this when I miss my old friend Irwin Shatzman most. He was my expert in Jewish theology.

Ben’s sperm’s conquests, however, pale in comparison to a donor in Britain who over 30 years has sired more than 1000 children. I do not know if the unnamed Brit is Jewish.

I see a PhD thesis in the making.

Taliesin

Today’s Poem:
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Sculpture of the poet Taliesin on permanent loan to the Order of Sancta Sophia, Pennal.

“I have been many things,
Before becoming as I am.
I have been a narrow multi-colored sword.
I have been a tear in the air.
I have lived as the faintest of stars.
I have been a word among letters,
A book among words.”*
Taliesin, 500 ACE
(*My revisions to translation).

The Birth of Taliesin:
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Ceridwen and Gwion Bach by Tim Rossiter.

“The magical story of Taliesin (t-ah l-ee eh-sin) – Hanes Taliesin – begins with the goddess Ceridwen (KEH-rihd-wehn) stirring her Cauldron over her cooking fire. Ceridwen is the triple-goddess in her form as elder or ‘crone’. Her Cauldron is the source of everything, for she is God in the aspect of Creator. At this point, the Cauldron is the source of poetic inspiration (awen in Welsh) and of all wisdom and knowledge. She has her son Gwion Bach (which might be translated “Little Man-ling”) stir and watch the pot. Accidentally, three drops fall from the Cauldron onto Gwion’s thumb, and he sucks his thumb. With this act he becomes filled with all knowledge – and, seeing danger ahead for himself, scurries.

There follows a magic hunt, in which Ceridwen chases Gwion, Gwion shape-shifts into a hare, then an otter, then a bird, and Ceridwen shape-shifts in pursuit. Gwion then becomes an ear of grain and Ceridwen turns herself into a hen and eats him. The symbolic meaning is fairly transparent: Gwion, the archetypal Human Person, acquiring a little wisdom, flees from fire (the cauldron) via earth (hare), water (otter) and air (bird), all of them changing forms within the great cosmic delusion of Creation (hence, “shape shifting”); but the Divine Mother is in constant pursuit, ever coaxing Her child back to Herself. Eventually, the Human becomes totally humble, submitting himself to a state of being (one grain) in which he can be wholly absorbed into the Divine Consciousness…….

…..and, as often happens in a story when grain is a symbol, he is reborn. The Hanes Taliesin tells us that Gwion now spends nine months in the womb of Ceridwen and is then reborn as Taliesin. Ceridwen wills neither to keep him nor to kill him, so she leaves him in a basket by Gwyddno’s royal salmon weir. There he is found by Prince Elffin, son of King Gwyddno Garanhir of Ceredigion.

Elffin is frustrated. He was there, allowed to fish for salmon for the first time in his life, and instead of catching any he caught this darned baby. The baby Taliesin immediately sings Elffin a poem, in which he proclaims himself “loquacious though not yet able to speak” (reminiscent of Krishna’s comparably surprising day-of-birth speech to his father), informs him “I was once little Gwion Bach but now I am Taliesin”, and promises the young prince that he will one day be worth more to him than even as inconceivably big a day’s catch as three hundred salmon.”
https://kingarthursomerset.wordpress.com/about/

While driving back from the bay Area to El Dorado Hills following some medical tests a few years ago, I was accompanied by my 9-year-old grandson Hayden. During the drive, I explained to him that we had to make sure I did not fall asleep due to any residual effects of the anesthesia. I suggested  we play ‘What am I thinking.’ A game I learned from some friends as something they used on long drives to divert their children. At one point, during a lull in the game I mentioned to Hayden that talking was also a good thing to do to keep me awake.

He said:

‘In that case, there is something you should know about me. I am really an alien from Cluton sent here by my parents. That is why I act like I do. I have three hearts and five stomachs one of which is dedicated exclusively to digesting fish smoothies. I also have three butts one of which I lost during the Butt Wars which we lost and is why my parents sent me here to earth. I am filled with ‘joy bubbles’ which allow me to float in air or water if I want. You should also know that music makes me crazy.’

With that, he turned on the radio to a music station and acted…well crazy until finally and thankfully he shut the radio off.

Who knew?

A few days later I learned about a television show, Marvin Marvin, about a boy also from Cluton who lives with an American family. Hayden tells me Marvin is his best friend and they arrived from Cluton together.
Hayden made me promise I would tell no one of his confession because if they learned he was an alien they would send him back to Cluton. I figured that the well-known discretion exhibited by readers of this blog would permit them to fall within the class of no one.”

4-up on 3-1-13 at 6.18 PM4-up

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Recently, I got news that my 98 or 99-year-old mother (my sister and I disagree about her actual age and my mom refuses to tell us) fell and injured her head while trying to break out of the nursing home at which she resides. She was taken to the hospital where she had two stitches inserted in her forehead. She returned to her bed in the nursing home not too much the worse for wear.

A couple of years ago I read a novel entitled “The One-Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Ran Away.” It told the story about a 100 year-old-man who ran away from his nursing home as they were preparing to celebrate his 100th birthday. He fell in with a group of criminals, grifters, and a sympathetic cop, made a lot of money and ended up living in Indonesia or someplace like that with his 70-year-old Thai girlfriend.

I always suspected that should my mom ever successfully break out of confinement, she would probably immediately organize a criminal gang of her own made up old ladies specializing in shoplifting and random muggings. She would then take her ill-gotten gains and settle down with her boyfriend in someplace like Colma in an apartment above a restaurant named “Nona Teresa’s Eggplant and Ditalini House.”

 

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During my travels, like many who go on vacation, I like to send to close and not too close friends emails (today’s postcards) regaling them of my good fortune in traveling the world and their ill-luck at being forced, for whatever reason, to remain at home. Not too long ago, I settled for a while in Jomtien Beach, Thailand and began to send out an incessant stream or emails regarding my new life. During a particularly frustrating period of trying to adjust to life there, I received a few emails from some of my correspondents commenting that my recent emails dwelled too much on the difficulties of my ex-pat life and were becoming a bit of a downer.

 

Although I thought I was just providing a humorous take on the foibles of my current situation, I took the criticism seriously and I realize that perhaps I may have fallen into a rut. So one morning when I awoke I decided to do something different. A quick check of the internet turned up the report of an algorithm that measured how many times Pun Day was mentioned on social media. The leading date turned out to be May 15 which also happened to fall a few days after my search. Further research turned up that in the UK, P:un Day falls on February 8. Other days also have been proposed. Austin Texas held an O’Henry Pun-Off World Championship on May 16. So, armed with this copious research, I declared May 15, Pun Day and communicated that to my correspondents. My announcement was met with a resounding Meh by all that took the time to notice it.

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I got the idea for Pun Gay, as I usually get most of my ideas, from one of my favorite authors, in this case, William Kotzwinkle. As with Henry David Thoreau, he is a favorite of mine, not necessarily because of his literary output (Although he did write the screenplay for “ET the Extraterrestrial” and the stories for the “Walter the Farting Dog” series), but for the audacity of attempting a literary career with a name like Kotzwinkle.

 

 
Anyway, in his novel “The Fan Man,” about an archetypical New Yorker who, during the hot sticky days of the New York City summer, travelled about the City holding in front of him one of those little battery operated fans to cool himself off (Hence “The Fan Man” in case you have not already guessed). In one of the chapters of the book our Fan Man wakes up and declares that day to be “Dorky Day” in which he would only speak the word Dorky throughout the day [By the way for those with interest is such things Dork is a common and respected name for boys in Armenia, Also, July 15 is “National Dork Day.” so mark it on your calendar].

 

The remainder of the chapter, for about 10 to 12 pages, consists exclusively of the word Dorky repeated endlessly (Dorky,Dorky, Dorky… for those who may need help visualizing) broken only by the variously perplexed or angry responses of the other citizens of the City whose paths may have crossed that of our hero on that day.

 

Shakespeare must have eaten his heart out. Can you imagine what the world of the theater would have been had Hamlet instead of “The play’s the thing, in which we’ll catch the conscience of the King,” announced, “Today is Dorky Day?”

 

Anyway, the idea for Pun Day comes also from one of my other literary mentors, Cuzin Irwin (to whom I beg forgiveness) who sent me the following:

 

it’s Snow White’s birthday.
 The dwarves buy her a camera as a present.
 She is ecstatic and takes pictures of every thing she sees.
She takes the film in to be developed.
 She goes back the next day to pick the pictures up.
 The man behind the counter shakes his head as if to say, “No”.
Snow White cries.
 the man behind the counter says
 “Don’t worry Snow White, someday your prints will come.”

 

Alas, with the coming of the smartphone, poor Snow White’s prints never arrived so she went home with an Android.

 

And for all you Snow Whites out there, may you prints come soon, but please always use protection or you may end up with a Kotzwinkle.

Have Pun

Ciao

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