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Posts Tagged ‘Groucho Marx’

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Musings on a Peter Grenell comment about something in the previous issue of T&T (Here).

In response to my remark:

Last night, Naida described how that morning she marveled at the many odd angles I had contorted my limbs into while I slept. We agreed on a new nick-name for me, Pythagorean Pookie. I like it.

Peter wrote:

Now, the alliteration is cool, but “Hypotenuse” is fewer syllables simpler and elegant. And lends itself to the nickname “Hypo”.

If I should choose this nickname, perhaps it might qualify me to become a Marx brother. Then there would be six Marx brothers, Chico, Harpo, Groucho, Gummo, Zeppo, and Hypo. Alas, that would make me the last of the Marx brothers still living.

It saddens me to think of a world without the Marx brothers. Hayden and his cohorts probably have no idea who they were or their importance to civilization. Groucho and Harpo were, in my opinion, two of the greatest philosophers humankind has ever produced. Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, and all the others may have been admirable and brilliant men but could any one of them demonstrate the heights of the ideal contemplative life as did the mute Harpo playing the harp. Could anyone of those worthies of the past match the succinct reasoning regarding the mysteries of existence as did Groucho when he declaimed:

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

Or,

“I’m not crazy about reality, but it’s still the only place to get a decent meal.”

And,

“What have future generations ever done for us?”

Yes, it is a far less interesting and amusing world now that they have left us. Sob!

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A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN THE ENCHANTED FOREST:

After three days, while on our late afternoon walk, we discovered the mysterious orb still there. Now, however, with a sign affixed to its surface announcing “Fountain. Free. Take it away.” Mystery solved, perhaps.

It is now three and one-half months since the growth on my neck first appeared and I went to my oncologist for the first time for a diagnosis. Since then, I have had a PET scan, two CT scans, four sonograms, three visits for biopsies, a stress test, two blood tests and at least 8 meetings with five separate doctors and I still have no treatment plan. Today, I am awaiting insurance company approval for a second opinion on the feasibility of surgery. During all that time, the swelling tumor on my neck has grown from an insignificant bulge to a goiter like bump and my diagnosis has gone from, “It is nothing to worry about” to “You’re probably going to die.” I am no longer amused.

Groucho Marx had a cousin from Argentina named Gaucho.

Days pass, I read a lot, watch the news on television, see the Niners lose again, spend too much time on Facebook — It is now Wednesday, I finally have an appointment scheduled in San Francisco at UCSF for my second opinion. Sometimes bitching and shouting works.

Thursday was a good day although the air quality made it better to stay indoors. San Francisco was reported to have the worst air quality in the world today because the smoke from the many fires in Northern California hung over the city like a dirty shower curtain. Sacramento was not too far behind. Nevertheless, I felt good today. Whether it was from the valium I had taken last night to help me sleep or something else I do not know. In the afternoon, I felt good enough to brave the hazardous air and drive into the Golden Hills to pick up Hayden and Jake. The Skate Park was closed because of the hazardous air-quality, so we went to the house where we discussed the possibility of the three of us driving to a Mountain Bike track somewhere in the mountains this weekend. After doing some research about the various trails, I left them to ruminate on the alternatives and returned to the Enchanted Forest.

Back at the house, I busied myself posting various articles on Facebook from two of my blogs, “Trenz Pruca’s Journal,” and “Papa Joe’s Tales, Fables, and Parables.” I was doing this because I wanted to increase the number of views this year to more than any of the Blogs’ prior years. At first, I was afraid to mention here in T&T how I spend several hours a day (at least four) because it might reveal me to be an insecure recluse desperately seeking recognition for what I feared were my inept and odd scratchings. Eventually, I convinced myself that it was no more than an obsession to “beat my record.” So instead of revealing my pitiful insecurities, I exposed one of my more idiotic neuroses which I somehow believed was less embarrassing. Anyway, for “Papa Joe’s” I passed my best year in early November. For “Trenz Pruca”s Journal,” it will be close to the end of the year before I know if I will succeed or not.

In any bureaucracy, all the work is done low on the food chain. Everyone else just holds meetings.

Last night, I dreamed a movie, actually two, one complete and one half-way through. This is not unusual. I have dreamt movies before. Usually, in my dreams, I enter one of the movie theaters I remember that existed on Fordham Rd. in the Bronx way back when I was going to college at the end of the 1950s. They were grand old Egyptian-Baroque buildings. In my dreams (and probably in real life) the theaters had deteriorated to become purveyors of soft porn and old movies. Strangely, in my dream, I had to go downstairs to get to the theater. The movie was an old one I had never seen before — a melodrama about two families going through various domestic crises. I woke up briefly half-way through the second feature but fell back to sleep almost immediately. The movie was still running but had now become a porn flick and I was an actor in it. This was notable, not because of the nature of my involvement and the vigor of my participation, but because I have not experienced such dreams for years now.

I awoke that morning with Naida caressing my arm as it lay across her body. It made me both happy and sad. Happy because it is so nice to wake up in the morning with someone who loves you and sad because I fear those mornings are going to end far too soon.

Those who observe well, dream well.
Friday was a non-event and then came the weekend.

At five o’clock in the morning, Naida woke up and said that she had to go downstairs to write something in her memoir — something about her approach to math as a child, a complex method that included fingers, beacons and musical rhythms ( the left hand did the rhythm and the right counted the repetitions). I went back to sleep and fell into a marvelous dream. I was somewhere in the Mediterranean, in a colorful small town by the sea. I was younger, a drifter and con man. My friend Blackie had engineered a scam that had gone bad. I was accused even though I had no part in it. A younger Isabella Rossellini, who was a princess of some sort, rescued me somehow. We laughed a lot and got naked. Then Naida woke me up to go to the Saturday coffee at the Nepenthe Club House.

The weekly Saturday coffee was usually attended by the older members of the community. Women outnumbered men more than two to one. Although each person sported a name tag, I never could recall names even after staring at the tags so, as usual, I gave them nicknames — the football coach, the two spies (one a man who was a senior executive in the State Department, the other a woman with coiffed white hair whose job prior to retirement was shrouded in mystery), the leader, the cute lady, the model (an eighty-year-old ex-model), the model’s husband the architect ( a 90+ year old architect of some renown) and others. There was also a mother-daughter duo that one could not discern who was the mother and who the daughter. They whispered and laughed together in the corner. Also, there is always a woman there, usually without a name tag, that attended to the refreshments. I do not know if she is a resident or an employee of the HOA.

The Leader, a large woman, selflessly devotes herself to the task. She feels quite distressed and obviously hurt if anyone challenges or disagrees with her, so we don’t. She opened a small roll-on piece of luggage that accompanies her everywhere, pulled out some papers and a small bell that she rings to call us to order. Then, she announces the events scheduled, calls for volunteers for the myriad of charitable activities planned to be undertaken and so on. After that, we clean up the clubhouse and leave.

Naida and I then went shopping and had lunch at Ettore’s where I choked on a piece of turkey breast and threw-up all over my plate.

The mysterious orb remains, in the gutter by the house. No one has claimed it yet.

B. A SHORT TRIP INTO THE SIERRAS:

On Sunday, we decided to escape the fire-caused air pollution and drove into the Sierra foothills. We drove to Jackson. There is a bookstore that sells Naida’s books. The bookstore has a Sherlock Holmes museum on its second floor with a room made to look like the great detective’s Baker Street residence. While Naida went into the store to discuss book things, I took the dog for a walk around the time. The little fellow got into a snarling match with a large pit bull. I admired his courage, not his common sense.

After that, we went for lunch a Teresa’s one of the better restaurants in the town. It always saddens me that so many Italian restaurants here and even in Italy have passed from the families whose food came from the techniques and recipes that their mothers develop to please the taste of their families who ate the food every day, to others whose recipes and techniques are often designed to lower costs and aspire only to being merely acceptable. If you are ever in Jackson you should stop for a meal at Teresa’s.

While there, I learned the story of how Naida got her name. It was not an uplifting story. It was as remarkable and as disturbing as the rest of her life.

We drove back by way of Ione. While passing through the town Naida told me about a friend of hers, an Indian woman, who was Dave Brubeck’s piano teacher when he was growing up there.

C. OFF TO THE CITY — THE BIG ENDIVE:

On Monday, we set off for San Francisco. Before leaving we drove to the kennel to board Boo-boo for the night. It took a little time because the person typing the required forms was blind. He had to lay one eye on the computer screen in order to read the form. Then, after saying a teary farewell to the dog, we left.

By the time we had reached Vacaville, the smog from the Forrest fires was so thick our lungs began to ache. We had coffee and a brioche there and then drove on into The City. Noe Valley where Peter and Barrie live was only slightly less occluded with the smog. They gave us some masks and we walked down to 24th street for lunch. After lunch, Peter and I went to Bernie’s for coffee. The air was too unbreathable to sit at the “Geezer’s Bench” so we sat at a table by the window drinking coffee and complaining about the pains and burdens of growing old.

The next morning, we went to UCSF for my appointment. On the way, as we passed the Ferry Building, Naida told me that at one time she worked with the State Department of Corrections on a massive study on the effectiveness of various parole alternatives on the recidivism rates of violent criminals. The results showed that nothing works.

I met with a Dr. Ryan for a second opinion on the possibility of surgery on my neck. The surgeon’s office was located on the fourth floor of a hospital in Mission Bay. Many years ago I had some involvement in the approvals for the development of Mission Bay. Precisely what, I do not remember. It now has become a hub or medical treatment technology. The cancer department impressed me. It is set up so that most of the diagnostic and treatment needs of the patient can occur in one place without the usual delays.

The surgeon was a youngish man in his mid-forties, dressed in a dark blue suit (He did not have a bow tie). Following the usual prodding, he confirmed the opinion of the previous surgeon that an attempt to operate would probably be fatal. The tumor had entwined itself around the muscle like a lover and pressing up against the artery. If he operated he would have to cut a flap of chest muscles to fold over the wound. He did indicate that all the tests done so far do not show that cancer had spread any farther and those other treatments may work. I then told him I was also looking into various trials including with one of his office colleagues that Terry recommended. He then arranged for an appointment with the doctor in a trial that focuses directly on my problem.

Although this was a somewhat more positive result and made me feel much better, I realized that I am effectively dead in the very near future should these treatments not work.

We drove home that afternoon, picked up the dog, watched some movies and prepared for Thanksgiving.

And on Wednesday the rains came.


Have a Happy National Welcome New Immigrant’s Day.

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English: Julius Henry "Groucho" Marx...

English: Julius Henry “Groucho” Marx, cropped from group photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now I know it may sound unbelievable to many of you but for those under 40 years old, Groucho Marx may be virtually forgotten and I doubt if any of my grand children if they read this have any idea who he is.

Well, to me Groucho Marx is the greatest philosopher of the 20th Century.

“Wait a minute,” some of you may exclaim. “Groucho was a comedian, not a philosopher.”

To which, by way of response, I direct your attention the Greeks of classical antiquity. To these progenitors of many “Western” cultural and intellectual beliefs, comedy and tragedy were just two ways of expressing truth. In the radical dualism of which the ancient Greeks were so fond, humanity’s experience was of only two types; either all your hopes and dreams turn to shit or, if you survive, they still are shit but you can laugh at them. There is nothing more in the cards for humanity except terminal boredom.

Before Groucho, the worlds greatest comedian was Machiavelli, who I have sometimes quoted in these posts. Before him, in my opinion the world’s greatest comedian was Socrates. Plato was a fascist jerk and Aristotle a woolly headed liberal.

Aristotle

Aristotle (Photo credit: Lawrence OP)

Now some of you may say whoa, ”Aristotle a liberal?” “How can that be? Over the years some of the most autocratic people and institutions (like the Catholic Church) relied upon Aristotle to crush the human spirit?“

As Leo Rosten said, “A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they’re dead.” There is nothing so liberal that a few centuries later a conservative could not find useful to beat away challenges to his prerequisites. For example nearly 50 years after Marx, that arch-conservative Lenin saw in Communism something with which he could beat up a group of doddering superstitious autocrats and take over their empire (and while he was at it crushing the inept liberal Mensheviks along the way). Later Stalin had Trotsky killed to make sure Marx received the same treatment that Spencer gave Darwin.

Why do modern conservatives reject Darwinism when Spencer and his “survival of the fittest” did so much to make him their favorite scientist through most of the last century? I guess they found God. He is after all the ultimate survivor. As one supporter of conservative causes has written, “Jesus was against the minimum wage,” and the Bible “absolutely condemned” the estate tax, and opposed the progressive income tax also. This, of course, leads me back to Groucho and his immortal line, “I never forget a face, but in your case I’ll make an exception.”

History is often funny in a sad sort of way or as Groucho would say,

“Why should I care about posterity? What’s posterity ever done for me?”

There is an old Hotel/Pub in Marble Arch, London, which used to have a gallows adjacent to it. Prisoners taken to the gallows (after a fair trial of course) passed by the pub on their way  to be hanged

The horse-drawn dray, carting the prisoner, was accompanied by an armed guard, who would stop the dray outside the pub and ask the prisoner if he would like ”ONE LAST DRINK.”

If he said YES, it was referred to as “ONE FOR THE ROAD.”

If he declined, that prisoner was “ON THE WAGON.”

So there you go… More bleeding history.

On thing about Groucho he never was one to curry favor. He once famously observed, “It isn’t necessary to have relatives in Kansas City in order to be unhappy.”

Speaking of to “curry favor,” it comes to that part of the world that actually speaks english  from Australia, so let’s put some ‘strine’ on the barbie, shall we?

It seems that at some point the inmates of the penal colony that was Australia decided that they wanted to improve their image in the world so that they would no longer appear to be what they were, criminals. They discovered that it was fashionable in certain circles to adopt the appearance of being civilized to cover the rough edges, so to speak. They decided that this was a good idea and they would do so too.

The first thing civilized thing they did was to start killing the aboriginal inhabitants that they were sharing their country with or driving them off the land that they, the civilizers, wanted for themselves. The second civilized thing they did was for a few of them to become as rich as Midas by destroying as much or the land as they could and where necessary killing anyone who stood in the way. The third civilized thing they introduced was gambling venues at which these new rich could flaunt their money. Since gambling casinos were considered immoral at the time, the most civilized gambling activity they could consider was horse racing.

Soon a lot of money was spent to find the fastest horse of them all so that someone could boast that he owned it. At one time that horse was named Favor.

Now, there is a comb or brush used to remove tangles or burrs from a horses coat. It is called a currying comb or brush. Now I assume at the

English: Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones ...

English: Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones in the early days (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

time people were lined up for the chance to brush the famous horse much like groupies lined up at a Rolling Stone concert for a chance to be shagged by Keith Richards. And that’s were we get the expression to “Curry Favor.” ——- No. to brush the horse, not get shagged by Keith Richards, that’s called something else.

For a horse of a different color, they used to use urine to tan animal skins, so families used to all pee in a pot and then once a day it was taken and sold to the tannery. If you had to do this to survive you were “PISS POOR,” but worse than that were the really poor folk, who couldn’t even afford to buy a pot, they “DIDN’T HAVE A POT TO PISS IN” and were the lowest of the low.
The next time you are washing your hands and complain because the water temperature isn’t just how you like it, think about how things used to be.

 

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