Seen in many videos on the web and on the television, an Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at GW Bush. It has great meaning in the Arab world, this shoe throwing, but GW didn’t have a clue as he didn’t understand neither Arabic nor the meaning of projectile footwear. He concluded to the audience that it was a size 10 and that dissent was a part of a free democracy -you can hear the screams of the fellow as he was carried out for a beating on various Youtube videos. His grievances were heartfelt and resonated across the Arab countries.
I have no love of GW Bush, but I love this country, and this news saddens me. I have a great deal of respect for the office of the presidency and what it means to the country to which I have pledged allegiance many times, and all I could think was, “So this is how it ends?” Eight very bad years for America bookended by travesty and farce.
Those shoes should be headed straight for the Smithsonian, and we should all call for leniency for that shoe throwing man -he did not explode himself after all. If he were in the US, and it was 1999, and it was Bill Clinton, he’d get a year or two and a book deal. I hear this fellow is facing 7 years in Iraqi jail, which makes Turkish prison seem like a weekend in Aspen.
It’s interesting to me that the method that I use to capture my words has an effect on how and what I write. One of my great interests is using old school methods of pencil and pad. The handbound leather book filled with blank sheets of handmade linen paper is a joy to have around. I scribble in it a few times a year.This is the sketch I made for a series of paintings I have planned entitled, “Practice Signs for the Post-Apocalyptic Physicians and Surgeons.” This one is for an otolaryngologist.
The writing is done with a Cross fountain pen which was a graduation gift from my fellowship. I used to have a beautiful Mont Blanc pen, another gift, but sadly, I lost it during residency. There is something fun about scribbling that is lost when scrabbling away on a keyboard.
Speaking of keyboards, the picture below shows a manual Royal office typewriter, the kind that were used in the forties and fifties. I saw this one at a church sale in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the spring of my senior year. It was in mint condition, and I was poor, but I shelled out 25 bucks for it. As a kind of perverse oppositional-defiant pose during medical school, I submitted all my notes to the class note-taking cooperative by typing them out on this dinosaur. I thought it just oozed an old school vibe that went along well with the drafty lecture amphitheaters that were constructed in the 1920’s, and the chain-smoking anatomy professor puffing away after revealing some hidden, secret bodily chamber in the very anatomy lab that inspired the book and movie, “Coma.” The typewriter also went very well with my Barton Fink apartment.
My current writing instruments include a Macbook Pro 15 inch running the simple TextEdit that came with it. When I want to create formatted documents, I use Pages (Apple) or NeoOffice (free! port of the OpenOffice suite). Just can’t stand to give another dime to Bill Gates. When I go portable, I use an Acer Aspire One pictured below. It goes 6-7 hrs on a charge, and allows for a fair bit of work, if you don’t mind the cramped keyboard. It is the size of a non-fiction hardback book. The only handicap it has is that it runs on Windows XP. I confess that I write to enjoy the process of writing as much as reading the final product. Mastering the many ways you can write -whether scratching a mark on a rock or typing in the cloud on Google Docs, is pleasurable. It’s the same in fishing when you tie your own flies or dig out your own worms, grubs, and crickets. Or when you golf by knocking a rock with a stout tree branch.
I humbly submit this wish list to whomever has the luxury of extra time to read my poor blog. These are things I wish for when I am overworked, tired, or blue. I’ll put some bath salts into a tub of hot water, light some scented candles, pour some Mountain Dew into some rosé wine (the Pink Zinfandel), turn on some Peabo Bryson, and then close my eyes…
Top 10 Wish List
1. Porsche 911 Turbo in Darth Vader Black
2. Peace on Earth
3. Bacon without consequences
4. Private Clone Army
5. Book and movie deal about my life, be on Oprah.
6. Goodwill to man and his helpmate.
7. Lust without consequences, germs, or wifi.
8. Ability to transform myself into the shape of various animals, inanimate objects, and cars.
9. Elimination of flatulence as a source of humor
Seen Better Days
Among the psychological defense mechanisms, denial is considered among the more dangerous. It’s because the denier is meddling with external reality. Denial is the quiet little sister to her sociopathic older brother, delusion. There are few comforts afforded a family man of forty -the golf eked out in small bits here and there, overeating, and pontificating ad nauseum about himself. If these few shabby activities are over-the-counter remedies for the pain of standing upon the summit of your life and seeing not the road home behind you, but a cold remorseless downhill march to a corpsy slumber in the dark valley below in front of you, then denial is pure opium.
If you are a middle aged man with too much hair where the sun doesn’t shine and not enough where it does -Deny it! Go and buy that Porsche 911 Turbo and a Brazilian (the wax job). If you don’t get spontaneous erections at the drop of a dime (picture your hot high school teacher bending over to pick it up), Deny it! Go get yourself some of those boner pills and get prepared to pester your loved one all weekend. Or if there is no soup there, go book a room in a hotel with wifi and pay for view -some of those pills claim bioactivity for 36 hours so go to town, big boy (what do you think all those towels are for?). Feeling flabby? Suck your gut in. Feeling blue? There’s always bacon, my man.
You are strong, gifted, talented, fleet, accomplished, humorous, witty, charming, humble, handsome, heroic, and just too shiny. You look in the mirror and see Zeus, king of the gods. Flee before me mortals before I strike thee with lightning bolts shooting out of my ass! Kneel befo…what was that honey? Who am I talking to? It’s the people in the computer. Okay, I’ll keep it down…
I haven’t found a single golf game I could recommend for the iPhone, not a single one. Mario Golf for the Gameboy is the best I’ve seen so far. But, I have found The Game for my iPhone. Every computer I have owned had its Game. My first computer, the Coleco Adam, came with Buck Rogers, but it was the Coleco cartridge game, War Games, from the movie, that managed to blister my thumbs. In college, I had a Fat Mac, with all of 512k and two disk drives, and the Game for it was Dark Castle. Subsequently, in medical school, the Game was Spaceward Ho! for which the authors have ported to OSX -played it on Quadra 900. Funny thing has been that I never got into the 3D shooter games -the closest thing was Turok for the Nintendo 64, both of which I received for free from a friend who was the tech writer for Newsweek. My favorite arcade game in college was a game whose name I don’t remember involving playing as an elf, a dwarf, a wizard, or least favorite -a human. My favorite pinball game was Taxi or Pinbot, whichever was not occupied at the time. The last game that would qualify as The Game was Myth played on a Powerbook G4 that J brought home from work.
The Game shown above is Fieldrunners, available on the iTunes App Store. It is easy to learn, fun to watch and listen to (machine guns, little gnomes squealing as they get mowed down), and completely engrossing. There is a spot on my brain, maybe a tumor, that gets rubbed when I play certain video games, and it just GETS ME. Now, if they get Spaceward Ho! on the iPhone, I’m truly a dead man.
When we stopped making the turkey last year, we had the best thanksgiving ever. We had it catered from Wakonda from the inimitibable Chef George. In fact, when you take in the food costs and time, it pretty much is a draw. We were having our front door neighbors over. It was our first Thanksgiving without blood relations. At around 5 in the evening, I drove over and picked up 6 neatly packaged bags in cardboard boxes. Driving home, the smells were otherworldly. We unpacked, put out our good (and only) china, and popped a bottle of wine. The neighbors came, and we had the best Thanksgiving meal that I have ever had (except for a visit to my college roommate’s family in Philadelphia in 1987, where I ate enough for three, and then lounged around for five hours alternately watching football and a Star Trek marathon, before eating AGAIN).
There was no Star Trek last year, but there was homemade cranberry sauce with perfectly tart fresh cranberries in a jammy gel that had never had the shape of a cylinder. The stuffing could have been a main course by itself. I could have lifted the gravy boat and guzzled the brown ambrosia. The mashed potatoes were really smashed with the evidence quite clear from the non-uniform pearls of pure earthy flavor. Washed down with a Gewürztraminer, followed by pumpkin pie a la mode and serious fresh ground coffee. Oh, the turkey was perfect.
The clean up involved putting away the leftovers in the packages they came in. No hours of back breaking labor for a 5-15% chance of a turkey mishap (observation from about 25 Thanksgivings as an adult). That bad luck turkey is a mofurkey which in its many manifestations is alternately unevenly cooked, over-done (usually due to relying on the popup signal designed by lawyers), or generally associated with some misfortune (this year, a nephew with second degree burns, have heard stories of houses burning down). No, we completely avoided the mofurkey last year by outsourcing. It wasn’t just the meal we outsourced -it was the stress and the work on a day that no one should work. We could concentrate on the giving of thanks and enjoying each other’s company. What did we do for Thanksgiving this year? We ate jja-jjang myun at a seriously great place in Bayside, Queens. No mofurkey!
Grabulosity - The Exhilaration of Getting the Easily Distracted Parent's Attention
The holidays are upon us, and like other belief systems, golfism has its holiday. It falls on any particular day of the year when you realize that you deserve something amazing and fabulous. It may be simple like that tiny laptop that’s burning an image in your mind’s eye. Or extremely portable, like that shiny black and tiny digital camera. Or sociable, like a golf and poker trip to Scotland with eleven of your closest buddies. Or visible, like a 112 inch flat panel TV. Or practical, like a Porsche 911 Turbo in Darth Vader Black. Self love is the basis of self-confidence, and the true golf swing reflects that. Like my good friend, W.A. Hamilton IV from high school once said: “if it’s worth doing, it’s worth overdoing.”
When I was five, I was in the back seat with my cousin Eugene who was also five, and he started whining about the car ride. I told him in Korean, “Nahmja neun ch’ah m’uh ya deh,” which loosely translates to “A man must persevere.”
The Korean phrase doesn’t refer directly to perseverance but to a kind of bloody mindedness involved with smiling at someone while they rip out your fingernails or holding your pee until you are about to burst. My mother has told this story repeatedly to where I now believe it.
That I have to bring it up reflects how much I have changed since that bloody minded 5 year old. At that age, I didn’t mind so much pulling out loose teeth and even not so loose teeth just to prove a point. At seven, after we had immigrated to the US and ended up in Cleveland, Ohio, I made it a point to start rolling a snowball around the apartment complex repeatedly to make it the largest one ever seen. I made it around one and a half times, before I attracted the attention of older kids who then joined in. At that point, the snowball was taller than me. At the end of the day, it was taller than the cars, and we left it in the middle of the driveway up to the main entrance. I had no gloves on, and I couldn’t feel my fingers or ears for a week.
I’m much less hard core now, but still have that Sisyphean bloody mindedness when it comes to getting something done my way. I would hope to have the wisdom to pick and choose my battles. In golf, it’s called course management when you avoid the hazard by taking two strokes, and it is bloody mindedness that has you going for it in one, dropping balls and trying over and over until you do.
A reinterpretation of a familiar story of the indomitable spirit of clones.
G has never like clowns, Barney the dinosaur, and Santa. Likes the Tooth Fairy and Santa as concepts and business transactions, but creeped out by the reality of confronting the figures. Probably the last year he believes in these fellows. I’m on that To Be Formerly Magical List, along with a whole bunch of other people. I’d better enjoy it while I can!