It’s bar time again for THE FRIENDS. Fred, Frank, Tom, and Ted settle down at their usual spots in the Hullahoo Bar. Cindy, Mary, Melissa, and Celine are joining them, all talking about the unending dog fights in Washington politics.
“Gee, man,” sighs Ted. “The Report is out. No collusion, no proof of obstruction. What a relief.”
“And that after two years of trying to prove the opposite,” Melissa says. “That guy Schiff stands with his pants down, and so does the so-called mainstream media. Now they can put the Roseanne Barr show back on.”
“Hah,” Mary scoffs. “And Jeanine Pirro’s, too. Why the heck did Fox drop her? They’re becoming like CNN.”
“Why waste your time looking at Roseanne or Jeanine?” Cindy says, sipping her white wine. “Just watch Congress. Same show, cheaper too.”
“Or those late-night comics,” Frank says. “All Trump haters. So boring. Puts you to sleep but at least gives you time to make love instead.”
“Doesn’t matter what side you are on,” Tom says. “When one side gets President, the other side tears him down.”
“The American way,” Celine affirms. “Like in the cowboy movies. The new sheriff must keep order, so the bad guys go after him.”
“It has gotten a lot worse with Social Media,” Mary proffers. “Everybody is yelling from their basements hitting away on their computers or smartphones, saying things they would never say if they sat in front of those who they are yelling at.”
“My brother, who votes Republican, tells me he’s sleeping in a different room because his wife is dreaming aloud, screaming ‘I hate Trump,'” Melissa says.
“Any Republican here, hands up?” shouts Frank.
No hands show.
“Any Democrat here?” shouts Fred.
No hands show.
“Come on!” Tom says. “You’re all Independents?”
Melissa raises her thumb one inch and says, “You’re all afraid of the Green Police hearing you!”
“Oh, yeah,” Cindy says, laughing. “That media darling with the too red lips and double name everybody had difficulty pronouncing, so they made her into an acronym.”
“Is that so, there’s a Green Police already?” Mary asks, looking worried.
“It’s part of the fine print of the New Green Deal,” Melissa says. “That’s what you’d get if you vote socialism.”
“Why can’t these people leave us alone?” Ted wonders aloud. “Why’s everybody always fighting each other? Dogs fight, cats fight, birds fight, roosters fight, deer fight, ants fight, humans fight, why can’t we have peace? Don’t we all have a good time now?”
“Because peace is boring, buddy,” Fred says. “A peace book does not sell, a killer book does. Same with movies. Welcome to Planet Earth.”
“Same with those politicians. Always fighting while saying ‘my friend,'” Tom says. “I remember Joe Biden boasting he’d take Trump outside the gym to beat him up. I’m afraid six-foot-two Trump heavyweight would take him by the scruff of his neck and hang him on the coat rack.”
“It’s the bully mindset in us humans,” Celine philosophizes. “There are always those who want to control others, regardless. AOC wants to be the boss, you heard that?”
“We need stronger anti-bullying laws,” suggests Mary.
“Hah, works like gun laws,” sneers Frank. “You’ll soon see that not all anti-bullying laws are equal. They won’t apply to people like AOC.”
“She and Bernie want a seventy percent tax rate,” Tom says, looking scared. “They never learn. Bernie may not remember he had to take his own toilet paper to a restroom in Moskou on his honeymoon because the city ran out of tax money and no taxpayer had any money left.”
“How come all these brilliant Millenials just from school yearn for socialism when capitalism is there for everyone to see it works?” Fred wonders. “Do they know what socialism means? Free goods without freedom and soon misery for all.”
“I’m afraid that’s where we’re heading,” Cindy says. “They have to learn the hard way. Looking at Venezuela on TV is not hard enough. They have to live through it to find out how bad it is.”
“At least the Report puts an end to the collusion hoax,” remarks Melissa. “Did anybody ever ask why a freedom-loving billionaire businessman would ask a communist dictator help him get elected president of a democratic US of A?”
“Fair point, Melissa,” says Frank. “Ask Bernie that question. You get a free beer from me. Cheers everyone!”
Talking China: Some of you may remember Mars Man, Chief Anchor at Mars City TV, married to Kathryn of Omaha TV in a happy mixed extraterrestrial marriage. Mars Man visits Omaha TV regularly, landing in a nearby razed cornfield with Space Scooter One. In view of all the current talk about trade negotiations with China, we repeat Mars Man’s visionary interview a year ago with Lu Kung Si, China’s Governor of the US, about the status of the former US, which is now a prosperous province of China, with the help of Bernie Sanders.
“Dear viewers, I am Kathryn Holliday, spouse of our dear Mars Man. Today we air Mars Man’s long-awaited interview with Lu Kung Si, China’s US representative, in his new office at the Empire State Building in New York, taped last July. We do not have permission from Lu Kung Si to air this interview, but we do so on behalf of Mars TV. Mars City TV, are you connected? All right, here we go:
Mars Man: “Lu, nice meeting you again. You have a magnificent office here. You can see the whole world. On a clear day, you can even see Beijing. On the other hand, I hear you have no clear days in Beijing.”
Lu: “Thanks for your welcoming words Mars Man, but we Chinese usually are more polite at the start of an interview instead of throwing mud.”
Mars Man: “Blame my Americanization for this, my apologies. After all, the US has been sending these rovers to Mars and they infected us with their bad manners.”
Lu: “You are forgiven, but I must give you a red flag in accordance with Chinese State Rule 180437. No democracy or free speech here anymore. One more and you are out the door.”
Mars Man: “How are you dealing with the US now that you have submitted it to your communist culture of serfdom?”
Lu: “I warn you Mars Man for framing your questions in an adverse manner. Americans will retain freedom more or less like Hong Kong, within prescribed limitations. We use American security systems, which we borrowed from the NSA, to control the Americans. Besides, we have over one hundred scientific torture methods, including our well-known water drop and slow death by a thousand cuts. No Miranda rights and Department of Justice susceptibilities. We have abolished the ACLU and their members have all been sent to labor camps or been incarcerated for life.”
Mars Man: “That must discomfort many American citizens. On Mars, we are concerned about China’s militarism and aggressive totalitarian methods. After you have made the US your subsidiary, other countries of Planet Earth fear losing their freedom. We understand Europe is next.”
Lu: “Who says we do not belong to the free world? We have elections too, you know, but we keep order with our one party system. The US lost the taste for discipline. Other countries, including Europe, should learn from us and adapt. Several are communist already. President Obama was our avid student and did most of our preparatory work so that we could just walk in here and take over without fundamental change. It was too late for Trump to stop that.”
Mars Man: “But your mercurial capitalist policies are pure state rule and make everyone unhappy.”
Lu: “You remember former President Obama crying on TV that he had this messy democracy to deal with? That’s what brought down the US.”
Mars Man: “But all your excess money is invested in your military.”
Lu: “Has Mars forgotten Planet Earth’s history? A century ago, China was invaded by Japan, Russia and Western countries, including the US, and Shanghai was made into an American brothel. We suffered a lot of misery and we don’t want that to happen again.”
Mars Man: “All right, but where do you need all that weaponry for that was reportedly fabricated with what they say stolen US technology?”
Lu: “Mars Man, I must warn you. You sound if Mars is on the side of the West what’s left of it. We only need to open NASA’s files to invade Mars, don’t forget that.”
“Mars Man: “Point taken, Lu, but please answer the question.”
“Lu: On the stolen technology, that’s because we are good at stealing and reverse engineering. We know math. The American kids did not do their math to America’s peril. We must rule the world to protect China. ”
Mars Man: “On Mars, we thought the land of Confucius was the image of peace, wisdom, and respect for humanity. Didn’t he say ‘Don’t impose on others what you don’t wish for yourself?’”
Lu: “That’s grossly taken out of context. Don’t confuse Confucius with Western linear thinking. Confucius also said: ‘The cautious never err.’ Read our White Paper on China’s Peaceful Development. It’s on the Web.”
Mars Man: “I don’t read Chinese. Give me the gist, please.”
Lu: “It makes the case that China does not interfere with other countries’ internal affairs and does not bully other countries, such as America did. We only come when invited, as we were by Obama and Walmart.”
Mars Man: “Your child policy has created a massive growth of only male people. What are the sexual implications of that?”
Lu: “These are questions you are not allowed to ask. Remember our Rule 180437. Your former Vice President Joe Biden fully understands this one-child policy, so go and ask him.”
Mars Man: “Let me put it differently then. How will you deal with the striking increase in Chinese male homosexuality with all these single men? I thought homosexuality was forbidden in China. What do these guys do if there aren’t any girls left?”
Lu: “We have a vibrant girl doll production in China that can satisfy the most sexually driven men. They giggle, coo, wriggle, kiss, moan, and can do it up and down. The military gets them free. We have all types, Asian, Caucasian, Hispanics, you name it. Demand in Province America has already exceeded our wildest expectations. Even lesbians love them. I can send you our vendor list if you want.”
Mars Man: “Thanks but no thanks, Lu, they don’t work on our Mars bodies. Goodbye and see you next time.”
Kathryn of Omaha TV: “That was it, dear audience. OMAHA TV risks to be closed by the Chinese authorities for broadcasting this interview. Only NBC is still functioning with their communist staff under Chinese state control. Soon we will have to travel to Mars to get the real news.”
A blank screen appears.
Fred, Frank, Tom, and Ted sit at their usual place at the counter of the Hullahoo Bar for their Friday night drinks with friends and not-so friends. The subject is TV panels.
‘You ever notice how the female panelists always sit cross-legged?” Fred initiates.
“Yeah,” Frank responds. “You wonder how they avoid getting cramps. I’d like to see what they do with their legs during the commercials.”
“I bet some physical therapist comes by to rub their calves,” Tom says.
“You ask yourself why they’re always sitting cross-legged in unison,” Ted says. “Are they hiding something?”
“You ever noticed how the male panelists sit?” throws in Cindy. “Always wide-legged.”
“Oh, they do,” Melissa croons. “With their hands folded at the groin. I wonder if they’re hiding something, too.”
“And some are thumbing their fingers at the same time while they’re pontificating.” Mary scoffs.
“Gross,” Cindy judges. “Why don’t they sit at tables so we don’t have to watch that exhibitionism?”
“It’s because male viewers like to see nice legs,” Mary retorts. “They’re not interested in what they’re saying.”
“Sure,” Tom interjects. “Some females wear their skirts so short that you see way up their upper thighs instead of hiding them.”
“I’m all for sitting at tables,” Melissa says. “Not all female panelists have nice legs. That’s discrimination.”
“Then the viewers will focus on too much facial makeup,” Frank says, “Ever noticed those dark lines under and above their eyes to hide wrinkles or a hangover?”
“Ever noticed those guys with black colored hair and grey beards?” Cindy shoots back.
“Why shouldn’t males have the right to paint their hair to look younger?” Fred asks. “Women paint their hair for that reason all the time.”
“We do because if we don’t you guys go look for younger blondies,” Mary says. “It’s all in the eyes of the beholder. Painting our hair works for us.”
“Painting your hair while leaving your beard or mustache greying is preposterous,” Cindy insists. “It shows you’re having your mid-life crisis.”
“So table or no table doesn’t make a difference,” Fred concludes. “That’s a level playing field.”
“Oh, and then you have those false teeth,” Melissa deposits. “Amazing how different those guys look with their instasmiles. They can’t stop laughing broadly to show off how much they paid for it, regardless of the sordid issues they’re harping on.”
“That brings me to the facelifts,” Ted says. “Nancy Pelosi’s multiple facelifts. Or Kerry’s endless botox looks. And those of other celebrities. Panels feel forced to ape the anti-aging trends. It’s absurd.”
“Every woman has the right not to look her age,” Melissa says. “It’s all your males’ fault. You men go astray as soon as we get wrinkles.”
“Hear, hear,” Fred says. “I repeat there’s no difference between tabled panels and legged panels. That was what we were arguing about.”
“I suggest that all panelists, females and males, wear pants,” Cindy offers. “That solves the issue.”
“Right,” Frank pummels. “So they all can sit wide-legged.”
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While stationed in Dhaka, Bangladesh, between 1980 and 1984, for the World Bank, we traveled with the two kids, David and Samantha, (8 and 6), through India on several occasions, from east-west to north-south: wonderful and unforgettable experiences. Some pictures you may remember from your own travels in that intriguing part of the world.
How did we travel? By air (it takes three hours to fly north-south), taxicabs, and rickshaws. We visited palaces and temples of artful architecture which showed the richness of India in the Middle Ages and earlier, while Europe was building its own cathedrals and palaces.
We watched the Gometeswara statue above in awe on our way from Bombay (now Mumbai) to Bangalore. The kids were still too young to feel ‘shocked’ by the enormous penis, but on a beach in Goya later, daughter Samantha pointed startled at a live male nudist’s penis because to her big shock it dangled precipitously.
Dave and Sam in front of the impressive Palace at Mysore in southern India, a huge complex designed by Englishman Lord Henry Irwin and built between 1897-1912 after the old wooden structure burned down. Maharaja Krishnaraja Wodeyar IV and his mother Maharani Kempananjammanni Devi, commissioned Lord Henry to build it. The royal family lived in these palaces since the 14th century.
A photograph of the Hoysaleswara temple at Belur. Here is where Sam and Dave disappeared in the dark inside. Worried about child kidnapping in India, we found Sam later sitting with a local family, selling mango fruits as if she had become Indian. They did not want to be photographed. When Sam ran back to us I sneakily took a picture of them anyway.
Notice the natural Indian beauty of the young women selling mangos, squatting with – probably – their mother.
The ancient Indian art of temple sculpture is breathtaking. You see much of that art spread throughout South Asia and the Far East (Indonesia).
Of course, we had to visit the Taj Mahal (“Crown of the Palaces” – in Hindi) in the city of Agra while staying with friends in New Delhi who kindly babysat the kids for this trip. Joy is shown with the Taj Mahal in the background. My grandfather, a great-uncle, and father went there too, so it became sort of a pilgrimage for me. For Joy, all travel in India, in particular Bombay and the south where her family hailed from, was an all-out pilgrimage to visit her roots. Her family name in Guyana being Jaundoo, we searched the English language Bombay telephone book, which listed the name Chandoo. In Guyana, it had become Jaundoo. The pronunciation was exactly the same in Hindi, but spelled differently in English in British Guyana.
The inside of the Taj Mahal glorifies Persian, Mongol and Indian art. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor, Shah Jahan (who reigned from 1628 to 1658), to house the tomb of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal (source Wikipedia) Next to the Taj Mahal is the tomb of I’timad-ud-Daulah, commissioned by Nur Jahan, the wife of Jahangir, for her father Mirzā Ghiyās Beg, originally a Persian Amir in exile. I’timad was an important Persian official in the Mughal Empire, whose children served as wives, mothers, and generals of the Mughal Emperors.
From Agra we traveled to nearby Fatehpur Sikri, a remnant of the capital of the Mughal Empire in 1571 built by Emperor Akbar, serving in this role from 1571 to 1585 (Wikipedia). It is a remarkable assembly of impressive buildings which excel in structural simplicity.
From there, we traveled to Jaipur to complete the Taj Mahal ‘triangle.’ A historic old town with a remote castle on top of a mountain that one can only reach by elephant.
A ‘Joyful” elephant rider: the elephant seems to like her.
Following are two local Indian paintings we bought in Jaipur. The one with the Hindu figures we could not get because the store where we saw it displayed in the window case was closed. Indian friends of ours – thanks again Anand Seth if you read this blog! – who are from Jaipur purchased it for us later. The other painting displays a typical Indian rural scene as we encountered them on our travels by car.
Back to New Delhi to pick-up the kids to travel to Srinagar in Kashmir, a state torn by strife between Pakistan and India, now dangerous for tourists. We spent there a week in a houseboat on the lake at Srinagar, from where we traveled around Kasmir with its beautiful scenery that reminded me of Switzerland.
Following are some more pictures of fascinating Kashmir with Joy, Dave, and Sam:
It was great to relax in Kashmir. But on a day trip with a rented car, we got a flat…and no spare in the back! I had to walk to a nearby village to get some young guys to help me carry the tire to a local workshop to get it repaired. The young guys said proudly: ‘Kashmir is Pakistan.’ They were also proudly Islamic. It reminded me later when I sat with Palestinian colleagues looking over the Dead Sea at the West Bank mountain ridge. ‘There is Palestine,” they said, as proudly. Behind the scenic beauty in the world, strife is not far behind.
Meanwhile, Sam took it easy: she ate an apple I plucked from a nearby fruit yard, with the scenic valley and Himalayan mountain ridge in the back.
Next album: Darjeeling and more.
Where is James?
I want James.
James? Where are you?
James, please make up my bed.
James, have my breakfast and coffee ready at eight. Don’t forget to pick up the paper from the front door.
James, clean my wife’s bedroom, PLEASE! And bring her a cappuccino, a fried egg, a toasted buttered muffin, and don’t forget to sprinkle it with bacon crusts and paprika.
James, drive my car out of the garage and wash it. I have to go out.
Here’s the shopping list for today, James. Make sure you cross out evrything to make sure you didn’t forget anything.
Drive me to my lunch date, James, at noon sharp, and pick me up at two.
James, please light the fire at four. Get some fresh wood from the shed.
James, why is my tea not ready yet? Don’t we have marmalade in the house? Don’t you know I always want marmalade on my crackers?
James, please bring me my sherry at five, and a plate of Swiss macaroons. Some salmon mousse on those little toasts, too, please. Thanks.
James, when is dinner served? What did Missus order? Steak, pork or what? I hope you didn’t do those awful Brussels sprouts again?
James, where’s my evening gown? Didn’t you get it back from the cleaners? I was so mad when I messed it up with my brandy l
James, Mr. and Mrs. Vanderpoorten are coming for dinner tomorrow. Is everything on schedule? Table silver polished? Candles set?
Anything more of your service, Mr. John?
Thank you James. Did you bring Missus her bedtime tea?
James, where are you?