Monday, December 31, 2018


By a quarter to seven in the evening, the humidity has become so heavy that the sky itself seems to sag with weariness, exerting the last of its energy just to hold itself above the earth until the arrival of merciful nightfall. I have come down to Sanur for a New Year's Eve walk, but have drooped instead into a chair at Starbucks, content to watch the cars and motorbikes go by. Despite the sluggish heat, everyone seems in an unusual hurry, as if racing to make the most productive use of the several hours left in the waning year. On the walkway, a man is pushing a cart bulging with horns and hats and rattles and cotton candy. As he pushes the cart, he blows on one of the horns, and rather inventively so. He has missed his calling in life, I think. One can only imagine what he could do with a saxophone. He blows his horn and people honk the horns on their vehicles in reply, but no one buys the hats or horns or rattles or cotton candy. Nonetheless, the man plays his noisemaker, his serenade in B flat for paper trumpet and gas engine, white sleeves hanging from his spindly arms like sails on a windless sea. 


Well, here we are at the New Year again. So this is Christmas (or, rather, New Years Eve), and what have you done? Another year over. A new year just begun. 

I figure we must somehow have been cheated out of some time this year, because the last New Year's Eve seems to me to have been a couple of months ago rather than 12 months ago. 

I remember writing last year that rather than to celebrate, people ought to cover themselves in sackcloth and ashes as an expression of debasement, mourning, repentance, and as a nod of grief to our poor old world at large, remembering those who were starved or tormented, excluded, marginalized, torn from families, stuck in cages, dismembered with bone saws, lied to, robbed, put out of work, cheated. And so on. Happy frickin' New Year. 

Oh well, I'll admit that I've never liked New Year's Eve. I don't like drunks or noise or noisy drunks. I don't like celebrating the great nothing we have personally accomplished nor the greater nothing the crumbling world has accomplished. Just what are we cheering for? That we have made it alive to the far end of a magic number of days only to find that we must start again? 

Bah. Humbug. 

What have I done this year? Well, I learned at the conclusion of the 11 years of my 3rd marriage, almost exactly a year ago, how to be single again (although, admittedly, I was already pretty well practiced).  I made some friends. I learned, finally, to speak conversational Indonesian more or less comfortably--which came, in large part, as a benefit of being wifeless. As I was explaining to a friend who wants to learn the language, being married to a native speaker removes the incentive to fully communicate on your own because you can always just turn to her for handling things. Remove the wife, and you're on your own. It's either sink of swim. I have watched as my MS has become more debilitating and have learned to modify, adjust, accept. I managed to develop cancer on my ear and face--which is something that I thought, for some reason, that I would never achieve. Good job, right? Hmm. What else? I will say, on a positive note, that I have not fallen off my motorbike even once this year. No scrapes, no cuts, no breaks. Although I have fallen off my own feet a couple of times. I have learned that napping in the afternoon is not impossible. It is easy. 

And so happy new year. And God bless us. God bless us, everyone. 

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Just Plain Weird

During the time that I was especially worried about having to have part of my ear cut off, due to the diagnosed cancer there, I happened to pick up a novel to read and was surprised to find that the plot revolved around a serial killer who cuts off the ears of his victims. 


Some time later, having escaped with my ear intact (more or less), another cancer appeared on my right cheek--a blotchy red spot, not tumorous, but sometimes itchy, sometimes painful, and always annoying, spoiling as it did my otherwise fabulously handsome appearance. It happened at this time that I had finished the book about the psychotic killer and had downloaded a recent novel by Stephen King. Again, I was surprised to find in this novel descriptions of skin cancer eating through the body, gradually gnawing right down to the vital organs, ultimately leaving behind a grotesque, quivering lump with a heartbeat.  

Again, yikes. 

Now, to my recollection I had never before read anything in particular about skin cancer or severed ears (except for the old Van Gogh story, which, of course, has nothing to do with cancer)--so why now, at this time in my 64 years, in two separate novels read one after the other and coinciding with my real life experience at the moment? It seems a strangely more than coincidental event, one of those incidents of synchronicity, or meaningful coincidence--a concept introduced by analytical psychologist Carl Jung. An acausal connecting principle is one way (and Jung's way) of putting it. Another way would be describe it would be Just plain weird

Somehow, things that are pertinent are "accidentally" attracted to the character of one's ongoing reality. A classic example is calling a friend on the phone and finding that he has just picked up the phone to call you and the connection has already been established when both of you finishing dialing. 

There comes with synchronicity the suspicion of meaning. It is a message in a bottle sort of incident. We, in one place, have been connected with something accidental yet pertinent in another, and we have impossibly met in a third place defined by an uncaused yet keenly relevant relationship. 

It is, as I have said, just plain weird. 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Surprise Painting

I came home yesterday to find the owner of the house painting the front of the house. No phone call, no advanced warning. Just there. I suppose this is the sort of thing a house owner does, as a way, maybe, of exerting his place and privilege as owner. Which is his prerogative. Of course, it might be inconvenient if the resident had something planned--a social gathering, a birthday party, whatever. And of course it is always nice to have advance notification so that  one can kind of put things in order beforehand, to demonstrate, you know, that you're taking good, responsible care of the place. But oh well. Living alone, as I do, I'm not given to making much of a mess of the place. Things are generally pretty well squared away because there's really not that much to un-square. Then again, it is also the maid's day to clean the house, and cleaning the house while the house is being painted might not be the best arrangement. Which is something I could have forewarned him about had he called first. 

Friday, December 28, 2018


There's a scene in BlacKkKlansman, the 2018 film directed by Spike Lee (or, I should say a 'Spike Lee joint') wherein a policeman, the station sergeant, explains to Colorado Springs' first black officer that the Klan has changed the way it does business. For one thing, they don't call themselves 'the Klan' in public. They call themselves 'The Organization'. They call themselves 'Nationalists'. They operate legally, in the public view anyway, obtaining permits for speaking events and so on, legitimizing their ideology, step-by-step, in the public eye. They exert political and social influence through the customary channels and they promulgate their hatred in the guise of patriotism and pride. You wait and see, the sergeant says. One of these days we'll have an American president who is an outright racist.

And so here we are. 

BlacKkKlansman is set in the 1970s and is based on the true story  of Ron Stallworth, Colorado Springs' first black police officer. Tired of being marginalized at the station, kept generally out of the way in the back rooms, Stallworth takes it upon himself to make a call to the local KuKluxKlan representative, posing as a violently racist applicant to the ranks. A bit of a problem arises, of course, when Stallworth  is invited to meet with the Klan, for while he can play the part of a racist, he cannot change the color of his skin. 

Stallworth brings a plan to the department. A white partner--Jewish, incidentally--will learn first to imitate Stallworth's vocal patterns and will then, posing as Stallworth, infiltrate the 'organization', with Stallworth on the outside as support and backup.

The most admirable thing about Spike Lee has always been his willingness to be perfectly blunt, sparing no-one and bowing to no PC rulebook. As he unfolds Stallworth's story and examines the police code, the Black Panthers, Stokely Carmichael, the Klan, racism itself, we see that there is more than a sufficient amount of bullshit to go around.  Simplistic thinking, rigid, self-serving responses rule the day. One extreme is met by another, and the casualty is common humanity. The members of each group, at some point in the film, speak of the concept of 'family'--the law enforcement family, the brotherhood of blacks, the white pride of the Klan--each family needing its nemesis for its own cohesion--the niggers, the pigs, the kikes, the honkeys, the faggots, the Mexicans, and so on. Hatred, ultimately, is the bond that unites them. Under the influence of an extremist leader--Carmichael, David Duke, rap culture, Donald Trump--hatred is focused, galvanized, legitimized. The notion of family itself is grotesquely corrupted and ends in the demand for violence to others in order to preserve relationship within the chosen family.

Although BlacKkKlansman is billed as a comedy/drama, it is, at best, only very darkly funny. Like most of Spike Lee's films, it is in-your-face' honest. And that's what I like, both about Lee and about this movie. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018


When I came to Starbucks this morning, Rupa, the barista, said "Pak Will, there's a deal today on Line. Two for one." 

"Oh, but I don't have the Line app on my phone." 

"That's okay," said Rupa. "I will use mine for you." 

In the meantime, as my first latte was prepared and served, I downloaded the Line app and then sought out Rupa. 

"Hey, I've downloaded the app now. I can just click here, right?"

"Ya, Pak Will. But why don't you wait and come back this evening. We can use mine this morning and yours this evening." 

So here I am with another two-for-one. I don't know that anybody needs four grande lattes a day, but a deal's a deal, right? And anyway, if I weren't here, I'd just be sitting around at home, probably watching a movie on the laptop. It is interesting, too, to visit in the evening sometimes. It is a much different atmosphere than in the morning. For one thing, it is very, very crowded, affording ample opportunity for people watching. And if I were a young, healthy man, it would probably be a good place to meet a girl, as single, young women appear to make up at least 50 percent of the population here in the evening. Of course, I'm not young or healthy. But I still have an active imagination. Come to think of it, my imagination is the only thing about me that is active.  


I don't know how much longer I'm going to be able to write here (or anywhere else)--not because I don't want to, but because language is continually escaping my brain. I know vaguely the words I want to use, but find that they have fallen into some deep crevasse in my brain, from which they cannot be retrieved, at least in a timely manner. I am aware often of choosing something that is kind of "like" what I wanted to say, yet not what I would have said had I the usual resources available. It's rather like what one experiences when he is using a foreign language. He stacks things together that will convey in a simplistic, rather childish manner, what he means to say. One is aware of being less than articulate, but forgives himself, as does his audience, because he is struggling to use a second language. But when English also becomes a second language, what is my first language? Well, it's rattling around in that crevasse, unable to get out.

While I was talking to Christoph the other day, I wanted to tell him about the mononucleosis I had as a teenager and discuss the suggested connection of this to the later development of multiple sclerosis (a large percentage of MS sufferers have also had mono at an earlier time in life). However, I could not think of the word 'mononucleosis' to save my life! I mean, I missed half of my senior year in high school because of the thing, was traumatized by this first serious illness of my lifetime and continued to feel the lingering effects long after my recovery, and yet I could not think of the word. All I could think to say was "You know, the kissing disease", which surely confused Chris even further. 

This, of course, is just one example. It happens all the time. Words, and entire sentences--Poof! Now you see it, now you don't. In my lifetime, I have been trained to use the proper word, the precise construction--as an English literature major, as a writer, as an expert in healthcare documentation. My private pursuits and professional activities have required me to be articulate. My own sense of pride requires me to be articulate. And yet here I am, peering over the craggy lip of that mental crevasse at the dark waters in which so many words swim. 

Poof. Now you see it, now you don't. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The More Things Change, the More They ... Change

I hadn't been down to the beach in a while. Combination of not feeling well and rainy, humid weather anyway. But I went down there for a walk tonight only to find pretty much the last remaining stretch of peaceful, uncluttered beachfront erased by the newly renovated and now open Bali Hyatt. There used to be a long metal fence between the property and the beach along this stretch but now that has come down and the hotel has spilled out like blubber over an obese man's belt. Fancy foo-foo restaurants and manicured gardens and polished concrete walkways and swimming pools (yes, plural) now crowd and shoulder their way to the edge of the sand and beyond, and the sand itself is dotted with signs, like military pickets--These chairs for hotel guests only! Bloody muckers. 

This used to be a nice place to come for a leisurely swim or picnic. It was like a breath of unfettered air, away from the madding crowd of tourists and restaurants and shops and loud music. You could come here and throw out a towel, a patch of tall grass at your back, a square of shade from a tree, enjoy a cold bottle of soda, read a book, listen to the restful sighing of the surf. 

No more. 

And I can think of no remaining peaceful place, at this point, from one end of the oceanfront to the other. 

They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

On the Heels of Xmas

Galungan, the celebration of which is calculated according to the 210 day Balinese calendar, falls this year on the day after Christmas and will extend through 10 days, ending in Kuningan. This long holiday celebrates the victory of dharma over adharma--good over evil. During this time, ancestral spirits visit the earth. Babi guling, a spicy pork and mixed rice dish, serves the role of turkey and stuffing, and the ten days are punctuated by feasts, ceremonies and temple observances. It is, essentially, the Balinese Christmas, and so people have been very busy with two big holidays in a row. My friend, Oming, tells me there is a village you can go to and, if you're a bule, you will get a free meal of babi guling. I wish I knew where it was! Many of the food warungs are closed during Galungan/Kuningan, so you have to get the goods from local families and events. 

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Xmas Morning

Had a nice visit over the phone this Christmas morning with my son in Portland. Generally, I only hear his voice once a year, as his own phone does not receive long distance calls--but this was on his mother's phone, as he, his mother and her husband always spend Christmas Eve together. As it turns out, however, I will not be able to send him the money I was going to send, as the stepfather refuses to share his account number for a transfer of funds. Oh well. It's the thought that counts. 

Yesterday afternoon, I had a Christmas Eve visit with my old friend, and former next door neighbor, Vyt Karazija. As usual, we talked politics and pretty much ironed out all the problems of the world in the couple hours we spent together (while his lovely wife went shopping). 

Otherwise, the big fat brown dog made a Christmas morning visit to the house (as she does every morning). She seemed to know it was a special morning, given that she kept waiting to receive more treats than usual, whereas she usually gets her one sausage and then goes to sleep. Anyway, she had two sausages, two slices of pastrami and two windmill cookies. 

Over at Starbucks now for the Christmas morning coffee (just like every morning), and then later my friend Christoph will come by the house for a visit (which makes me think, just now, that I should have cleaned up the house before leaving this morning). 

Monday, December 24, 2018

The Outsider

An 11 year old boy is brutally raped, killed and mutilated in the small town of Flint City, Oklahoma, and the all the evidence points squarely  to Terry Maitland--'Coach T'-- a local school teacher and little league baseball coach. Blood analysis, DNA from the boy and the perpetrator, the accounts of witnesses, all make Maitland's guilt unquestionable. 

The only problem is that Maitland wasn't there. And he can prove it. 

So goes the plotline in Stephen King's intriguing new novel, The Outsider. Step aside, Agatha Christie. You've met your monstrous match!

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Peace on Earth

The good news this Christmas in Indonesia is that the season has passed so far without any of the church bombing incidents that have marred it in the past. Moreover, it is even being allowed this year--officially, according to declaration of the top mucky-muck--for Muslims to say "Merry Christmas" (last year it was forbidden, although I don't know how many actually observed the rule). To make things even merrier, the Indonesian government is up and running, which is more than we can say for America during this holiday season. There are Christmas trees in all the malls, and Christmas carols on the sound systems, and the special police are out in force at the large Christian churches, doing their best to make sure things remain merry. I note also that there is a significant police presence at the beautiful large Catholic church not far from my house. Deck the roads with uniformed officers armed with machineguns. I have also noted during the season a very visible campaign in newspapers such as Kompas (the largest Indonesian language newspaper, I think) to educate readers about Christmas in particular and the spirit of tolerance in general.  So, I reckon, from what I see, that Indonesia has the Christmas spirit this year, which boils down to what the angel said: Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. 

Merry Christmas

I purchased this little Christmas tree the other day along with two cookies in the shape of Christmas stockings. The big fat brown dog has already eaten the cookies. Merry Christmas to my readers!

Saturday, December 22, 2018

A Visit to the Fire House

Every year around this time just before Christmas my father would stop by the door to our room and tell my brother and me to gather up our old toys--toys that we didn't really play with anymore. He didn't explain why we were to do this. He just said to gather the toys and bring them outside to the car. I can remember wondering why we had been so ordered. Had we done something wrong? Were we being punished? Or had we been insufficiently fond of certain toys, such that they would now be taken away? 

As always, I went to my brother for the explanation. 

"We're taking them to the fire station," he said, rummaging through the nether recesses of the closet where the older toys lived. 

The fire station? Why the fire station? Where's the fire? Or is there about to be a fire? 

"They collect all the toys there," my brother continued, "from all the kids."

I pictured this mountain of old toys on the floor of the fire station. Where would they park the trucks? What would the firemen do with all these toys? I put 2 and 2 together. An idea formed in my head. 

"Do they melt them down?" I asked. I was picturing all the toys gathered into one great heap and being subjected to a controlled burn such that a great block of colorful metal and plastic would remain, and perhaps this would be constituted, piece by piece, into new toys, which would then be sent to Santa Claus so that he could deliver them all over again.

"No, dummy, they don't melt them down," my brother said. "The toys are for poor kids."

"Oh."  I wondered why there would be so many poor kids in the fire station. I had never seen them before, and I passed the station every day on the way to school. But I didn't ask, for a question of greater significance had entered my mind. 

"Why don't they just get their toys from Santa Claus on Christmas like everyone else?" 

"That, I don't know," my brother answered without looking up from his work. 

Of course, he did know. He was two years older than I. He knew everything. He just didn't always say everything that he knew. 

It seems that it was always snowing when my father drove us in the station wagon up to the fire house, rear bed loaded with two or three boxes of toys. We had indeed found toys that we did not play with anymore. We had found toys that were for little kids, for we were a year older now and had grown beyond such things. And we had found toys that looked newly interesting, but had to be let go nonetheless. It seems it was always snowing, but perhaps this was just the one year I remember well. The year I learned that there were poor kids who went to the fire station for toys when they could have just waited a few days for Santa Claus to bring them.

My father parked the car by the curb and had us carry the boxes into the bay where the fire engines were parked. There was no disordered, crumbling mountain of toys as I had  imagined, but neatly stacked boxes and a stack of wrapped packages as well, and there was even a Christmas tree twinkling with colored lights. A red cheeked fireman received our boxes, wished us a merry Christmas and ruffled our hair with a bear-like gloved hand. He strolled out to the parking strip, where my father was lighting his pipe, and they spoke for a minute about the snow. 

In a child's mind, things piece themselves together. Things get melted down and reconstituted and take shape bit by bit. My father was not the sort of explain things in words. He just told you to do things, and one came to understand through the doing. Giving was not a suggestion, not a matter for negotiation. It was a command, and as you carried out the command, you observed the world around you more thoroughly. You would learn in due time that it is not Santa Claus who brings toys. You would learn that, at least in some small way, it is you. And you would understand in time, with the understanding that is amenable to taking form in words, how it happened that you felt so warm inside on that snowy drive home from the fire house just a few days before Christmas.

Friday, December 21, 2018

The Old Wooden Cross

In the wake of a rather odd pre-Christmas incident of "accidental" religious intolerance, the Sultan of Yogyakarta has apologized to the family of a deceased Catholic man after they were prohibited by their neighbors from holding a service for the deceased and placing a wooden cross on his grave. The Sultan apologized as well to Catholic church authorities in Yogyakarta. "This incident is a lesson to all of us," he said. "Yogyakarta people and leaders must uphold tolerance to maintain peace and harmony. We understand the Constitution and the law," he added, "but there is no guarantee that the people understand it." (In other words, the government understands the peace and harmony taught by religions while the religious people themselves may not). 

Though the deceased had lived harmoniously with members of the community during his lifetime, it was felt that speaking well of him in a Muslim setting and placing a wooden cross in a Muslim graveyard would be inappropriate. The cemetery was exclusively for Muslims, they explained. Who knew what havoc a dead Catholic might cause? And anyway, anyone at all familiar with the Great Pumpkin knows that he visits only the most sincere of pumpkin patches. 

After the deceased man's wife placed a wooden cross on the grave despite warnings, community members visited the site in order to saw off the top of the cross, thus rendering it a cross no longer. In their own way, they were trying to help, the Sultan explained. They were looking for practical solutions. Nonetheless, a Constitutional reference on religious symbols had been ignored (or, rather, the people were ignorant of the Constitution).

The old wooden cross has been restored therefore, as has harmony in the community. Superstition is also safe.

The deceased Catholic, of course, could not be reached for comment; nor could any of the deceased Muslims in that place. 

The body is sewn in corruption; it is raised in incorruption. (1Cor. 15:42)  

Thursday, December 20, 2018


At the vacant pizza place next to the vacant doughnut establishment they are playing Silver Bells over and over again. It's a particularly irritating wind instrument version, a saxophone groaning out the main part, and the recording plays from the beginning to the end and then starts at the beginning again, like a recurrent nightmare. A single man sits with his coffee and his untouched doughnut at the unoccupied doughnut and coffee café, trudging half-consciously through a book called The Fourth Monkey, a silly, not-so-thrilling thriller about a psychotic murderer who kidnaps his victims, then cuts out first an eye, then the tongue, then one ear. See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil. He is a gruesome, though not very original killer. But the book is an easy read in Indonesian and better suited to the dim light of evening at a vacant doughnut shop than Hiroki Murakami would be, which the man reads during the sunlit mornings. The other half of the man's consciousness is fixed on three emails he had written just after getting out of bed that day--one to his son, one to his son's mother and stepfather, and one to his stepdaughter. Christmas greetings, nothing more. None of the emails had been answered. He looks again at his phone just to make sure. A light rain begins to fall, turning the gray street black, and the black street twinkles with the white and red reflections of headlights and tail lights. A swarm of motorbikes buzzes into the vacant lot of the vacant doughnut establishment and alights on the wet pavement while the drivers dismount and retrieve their rain smocks from the seat compartments. A wind-like hiss sings from the car tires on the road. City sidewalks, busy sidewalks, dressed in holiday style. The man wonders whether he is invisible. What proof is there of his existence? He has no record. His phone shows no messages at all. Three emails, not seen, not answered, not heard. Whatever happened to Christmas? Remember how love was all around? Whatever happened to it all?  

Fathers Know Best

YouTube has been leading me on some interesting avenues down memory lane lately. I suppose that the site collects one's previous searches and then makes some computer generated guesses as to what a person might want to watch. Because I've looked up a few of the older Christmas movies, suggestions have popped up for old TV shows like Father Knows Best and the Ozzie and Harriett show. I may have seen these at a very young age--too young to remember them now--and so it has been a pleasure to watch them again, for the first time, essentially. Kind of like peering through a window to observe a Christmas Past, in the way that Ebinezer Scrooge peers through the window in Bob Cratchett's little home. We see very sharply for a moment things that have become very dim through time. The big difference, as it seems to me, between Christmas in these old TV shows and Christmas in contemporary stories, is that Christmas in the old stories was something that was stable, reliable, composed of a shared spirit, whereas Christmas in contemporary stories is always something of a worry, a time of stress and want, a conflict in and of itself. We identify now not with tradition and stability but with conflict, dissatisfaction, angst. The new Christmases generally make their way, through a struggle of one sort or another, back to the solid shores of the old Christmases. The old stories simply begin there and play themselves out in a sort of celebration of the eternal--family, tradition, love. Love, in the old, is something that you have; in the new, something that you seek. \

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


When I got home yesterday after my coffee at Starbucks, I found the front gate at my house shut. Strange. I never close the gate during the day and only find it closed after the maid has been at the house on Saturday. But this was Tuesday. How had it gotten shut, and why? Sometimes the mailman will leave a package and close the gate--but no, there was no mail. And it was clear that no one had actually been in the house. The front door was still locked and everything in place. A mystery. Why would someone have taken upon him- or herself to close the gate to someone else's house? 

Well, the mystery was solved this morning when I ran into the neighbor from across the street. I have really never spoken to this man before, except for a cursory nod or good morning, although I have chatted with his wife briefly on a couple of occasions. It seems that the big fat brown dog had come to the house after I left and was pounding on the door, wanting to get her morning treat and then go to her room for her nap. The neighbor, hearing the racket and seeing the cause, had come over out of concern that the dog was going to mar the door (which, of course, she was). He explained to her, as he told me, that if my bike was not in the driveway, that meant that I was not at the house, and he ushered her out to the street and closed the gate behind her. I can imagine that the dog was fairly offended by all this--but not so much so that it kept her from returning later in the day.

The curious, and rather pleasant thing about this, in a foreigner's eyes, is the inclination of folks here to kind of watch over the neighborhood in general. Why should it have been this man's concern--a man to whom I had never spoken, mind you--that the dog was banging on the door or that she might mar the wood? Is it not generally considered a trespass in America for someone to enter your property or interfere in your affairs or alter the arrangements you have made (such as the positioning of the gate)?  "It's none of my business" would be the more common response, right? 

But here, these boundaries are not so rigid. They are subject to elasticity through the property of common sense and a collective  conception of propriety. In the same manner, when recently the boy across the street was stuck on the roof of his house, no one called the fire department or the police. Everyone pitched in to find men and a ladder and to effect a rescue--for the collective thought was simply this: The boy is on the roof. He must come down. The neighbors, individual people on the scene, are the fire department, are the police. And they are, somehow, responsible for the dog who is on my porch pounding on my door. 

It is nice to know that, when you are away from the house, your home is not really empty, your property not really unattended. Good people are watching, as a matter of course. It's just what neighbors do. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Higher Powers

A little article happened to catch my eye this morning, from a site called "Dead State". The headline read as follows: 

Christian author: Trump is under attack from 'multidimensional Luciferian advanced beings'.

One Paul McGuire, described as an "end times author", appearing on the Jim Bakker show (as if things weren't bad enough already) declared that President Trump is "currently engulfed in the greatest spiritual battle in the history of all mankind". 

My goodness! Who knew? 

Anyway, this climactic battle is apparently taking place in high places in the invisible realm. No wonder most of us have been unaware of the conflagration, given its invisibility. 

It gets even weirder, having something to do with the New World Order and the Mystery of Babylon;  but as it turns out, as far as I can figure, the simplest way to understand these Luciferian beings is to understand that they are basically democrats.

I guess if Rudy Giuliani's defense tactics aren't working, you turn to higher powers in mysterious realms. 

Nonetheless, I agree--there are higher powers after Mr. Trump, not mysterious, and not coming from Babylon. They are called The rule of  law, the FBI, the Justice Department, the Southern District of New York, and the United States Congress. 

Near Disaster

Having nothing to say this morning, which is more and more a common experience, I began to mess about trying to change the appearance of my blog, and boy did I succeed! Luckily, I was able to revert to the original. Really, all I wanted to do to begin with was to change the color of the blog description, for as it stands now, against the present background, it is very hard to see. Attempting to turn the lettering red, however, turned ALL the text red, and made other sections of text disappear altogether. The more I messed with the thing, the worse the situation became. I'm just no good at this sort of thing. Never have been. And so, my apologies. It is what it is. Jim Dandy, like me, is a plain fellow and will wear no coat of many colors. 

Monday, December 17, 2018

Enemy of the People

"Enemy of the People". It's the perfect title, as it seems to me, for the HBO flick that is sure to be made after Donald Trump leaves or is ejected from office. 

I mean, have you ever seen a man and an administration so completely mired in a sea of lies and corruption and scandal, under investigation from just about every angle possible? Just think of all the plotlines--the cover ups, the sleazy lawyers, the Russian secret service, the Russian mob, laundered money, porn stars and playmates, inside rebellions. My goodness. And we don't yet know the half of it! 

I just hope I live long enough to see the movie.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Traffic Insults

I pull into the lot at Plaza Renon this morning behind a white car. As I wait for the driver to take his ticket from the machine and enter the lot, two girls on a motorbike zip up on my left and then maneuver their bike in front of mine behind the white car. As the driver of the car takes his ticket and moves forward, the girls also move forward, and as they move forward, another motorbike driver zips up on my left and cuts in behind the two girls. 

I always find this astounding. Every time it happens. And it happens often. I cannot quite decide what is transpiring here. Are these people blind on their right side? Or do they imagine that I'm just parked there in the entry to the lot and don't actually mean to enter? What can they be thinking? Are they running desperately late for something? (Well, actually, that goes without saying. These are, after all, Indonesians). 

I mean, I myself am in no hurry, but I do have a sense of existing. Why is it that my existence seems so superfluous to these drivers? And how is it that they seem to give no thought to possible consequences? I must say (as I always say) that committing this sort of traffic insult in America comes with a fair chance of getting beat up or even shot. Seriously. 

But oh well. We're not in America, are we. Luckily for them. 

Saturday, December 15, 2018


Interesting. Among the Dayak people on the large island of Kalimantan, there is a tradition, when a member of the community dies, for a few men to come forth to fill the role of Bukong, or grievers, in the household of the deceased. These are volunteers who feel called or especially suited to this role. For the next three days, from death to burial, they will perform all the household chores, taking care of every detail, gathering wood for the fire, greeting mourners and so on. Before this task, their faces are painted with charcoal and chalk such that they appear grim and grave, and the bukong will maintain frowns of affliction throughout in comradeship with the affliction of the mourning family members--although occasionally they will do something funny or entertaining in order to lift the spirits of the grievers, to lighten their sorrow for a moment. The bukong serve the family for three days, and on the day of the burial, they accompany the deceased as a sort of sentry over the passage from death to heaven. 

It's a rather nice tradition, I think. Grief wants a companion, it desires a face, wants to give itself away somehow. One feels so very alone in anguish, yet has, in the bukong, a living being to personify his own grief.  

Friday, December 14, 2018

Mindful Holidays

Met the ex-wife and her boyfriend this morning for coffee. They'll be heading back to Australia tomorrow and not back in Bali before some time in January. Wayne, the boyfriend, seemed in good spirits and in good health. He is receiving cutting-edge treatment in Australia for an aggressive cancer (neuroendocrine)--like chemotherapy but without the attendant deathly ill feeling associated with the usual regimen, happily for Wayne. He also brought me a tube of a different type of skin cancer cream which he had used in the past (having also had problems with skin cancer), so I'm excited about trying that out. Imagine that. At this season of the year, I used to get excited about receiving Christmas cards in the mail, or boxed presents from relatives, or carolers in the neighborhood. Now I get excited about cancer cream. Ho, ho, ho. 

So I will be on my own this Christmas. But now that I think of it, I've spent the last few Christmases alone--for even when I was married, my wife was out of town on recent Christmases. Moreover, she was never much on Christmas anyway. At best, it seemed a stressful day for her. To be honest, I've not had a really Christmassy Christmas since my parents passed away, roughly 20 years ago now. 

I remember working with a guy named Phil, just out of college. We both worked for the now defunct Oregon Journal newspaper. Phil had long been estranged from his parents, though he never explained why to me. So estranged was he that he took the effort of changing his last name to Smith. He did not care to be associated with his parents in any way. For this reason, Phil did not celebrate Christmas. It was to him, he said, just the same as any other day. Sad for him, I thought--and yet convenient for me, because that meant that he would work the Christmas shift at the paper, leaving me free to enjoy the holiday at home. 

Like Phil, now, I have no family with me. Moreover, I am living on an island where Christmas is, in fact, just another day. And yet, I keep it in my heart. It does not pass unobserved. There are no trees, no presents, no feasts, no mistletoe, but there is the kiss of eternal love in the air, for which I find myself, every 25th of December, especially mindful, and therefore joyful.   

Thursday, December 13, 2018

Kunyit Putih

I happened to receive a phone call this morning from my pharmacist down in Sanur--quite unexpectedly, really, as I had not talked to her in quite some time. I had been waiting for an order for gabapentin, as I now recall, which she had long been unable to obtain from her supplier, and I had kind of just forgotten about it. Why had I wanted gabapentin? Well, surely it must have been connected to the neuropathic pain I had long been experiencing (not that gabapentin had done much good for that in the past, in any case). 

Well, having her on the phone anyway, it occurred to me to ask whether she could recommend something other than Panadol for a headache. Panadol is what passes for aspirin in Indonesia, and is quite ineffective for headache pain or any other sort of pain. I had been getting Advil from Australia, thanks to the kindness of friends there, but had run out of my supply. As far as I was aware, Advil (ibuprofen) is not available in Indonesia, but it turns out that my knowledge was faulty. Yes, she said, she could get ibuprofen, either 200 or 400 mg. 

My lucky stars! 

So, I went on down to Sanur later in the day and met the apoteker in the apotek--which is to say that I met the pharmacist in the pharmacy. I still don't know the woman's name. It's a difficult one, as Indonesian names go. Still, I really ought to learn her name, as she is a very pleasant, very helpful woman who has always done her best to satisfy my requests, or to make her own suggestions based on symptoms. 

Of course, as with all Indonesian businesses, one doesn't just go in and buy something. One goes in and exchanges pleasantries and converses for a while and then buys something. As it happened, therefore, the conversation moved toward new experiences and interests--such as cancer and the threat of amputated ears. My goodness!

"I have something for that," she said. "Very popular with the Australians who come here. Every time they visit, they buy another bottle." 

It's called kunyit putih (and is, in other words, white turmeric)--a traditional medicine, the package insert tells us, which is very beneficial for the treatment of cancers and tumors. Of course, we who have MS already know that turmeric is also thought to be helpful for the disease. 

Again, my lucky stars. 

So I bought that, and the gabapentin, and the ibuprofen, and the subject turned to relationship status. 

"How is your wife?" 

"I no longer have a wife."

"Oh really!"

"Yes, nearly one year now."

"But what happened?" 

"She ran off with an Australian." 

"Ahhh!" The sort of 'ahhh' that says 'That figures, we all know how these Australians are!). "Well," she continued, "It just so happens that I am also in the process of divorce." 

"Oh really!" 


"Your husband--I mean, your ex--is a bule, right." 

"A Jerman," she specified, accenting a distaste, or so it sounded, for all people of that nationality at this point. 

What could I say? 

"Yes, a German," I echoed, with a stress on germ

"Wanted a young woman," she said. "A girl."


"Yes, of course." 

"Of course." 

"Ah well, no more problems," I reassured her. "Just happy now, peaceful. A new start for you. Let the German have his girl." 

"That's right, Papa. You're absolutely right. No more troubles!"

"Except for the cancer." 

"Haha! That's right. Except for the cancer. But take one pill a day before dinner, Papa. And everything will work out just fine." 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Not So Magic Cancer Cream

It's hard to tell actually whether this cancer cream is making my skin cancer better or worse. Of course, it's not bound to do much at all where the ear is concerned, given that the cancer there is in the form of tumors within the body of the ear, but the one on my face--the dry, scaly, sometimes itchy, sometimes painful, sometimes white, sometimes red thing on my cheek bone--seems some days to improve with the cream and some days to worsen with it. Perhaps it would be the same with or without the cream. Who knows? I suppose I was hoping for a miracle cure. But cancer is cancer, right? It doesn't like being cured. So whereas a couple of days ago the blotch on my face had turned white and nearly invisible, now it is red as a traffic light. Kind of a scabby traffic light. Well, if it ain't one thing, it's t'other. The good news, anyway, is that I didn't have to pay for this cream. I'd be pissed, at this point, if I had. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Xmas Movies

As has been my habit during the holiday season, and because I have nothing more pressing to do, I've been watching a lot of old Christmas movies for the umpteenth time. So far I've viewed several old Scrooges, a couple Miracles on 34th Street, Elf, The Man in the Santa Claus Suit, It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (with Mickey Rooney), and, of course, A Charlie Brown Christmas and the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. 

My favorite Scrooge is the George C. Scott rendition from 1984,  who seems both much more seriously gruff and scroogey than others and also more fully human. The more recent portrayal by "Captain Picard" (of Star Trek New Generation Renown) seems the worst to me, totally flat and uninvolved. And Albert Finney in the musical version is just a bit too much. The whole thing is a bit too much (especially for one like myself who is not a fan of musicals to begin with), although I do get a kick out of his "I Hate People" song. 

I cannot get my favorite version of Miracle on 34th Street, with Maureen O'Hara and a very young Natalie Wood, this year for some reason. Seems that every site either doesn't work, wants to send you to another site, or wants you to pay. Same thing with the Bill Murray version of Scooge (Scrooged). Bummer. 

One thing that is new this year, however, is that the increasingly familiar "pseudobulbar effect" is regularly kicking in. As the reader may remember, this is an odd symptom associated with multiple sclerosis wherein one finds himself at the mercy of excessive tears or excessive laughter without a sufficient trigger. It is sometimes described as inappropriate laughter or crying that comes without any trigger at all, but I can't really get a handle on that description. I mean, it seems that one would always be able to find some little sort of trigger, and it seems also that just a little thing on the outside can touch a substantial trigger within the great grab bag of the soul's conflicts and joys and sorrows. 

Nonetheless, when I find myself weeping uncontrollably over Tiny Tim's little crutch in the chimney corner, I understand that something's gone a bit haywire. Especially considering that I've known about that little crutch for the past 60 years or so. And it's like this with every one of these shows. The more maudlin it is, the more weepy I become. I mean, I even cry during the Charlie Brown Christmas! I am thankful, therefore, to be alone in my little house before my little laptop screen. My goodness, what would people in a crowded movie theater think of me? 

Monday, December 10, 2018

The Weather Outside is Frightful (but it always has been)

Sitting outside with a cup of coffee this evening, I noted a single winged termite--a laron--flutter down from the heaven. This was noted also by a sharp-eyed, fleet-footed lizard, which immediately skittered up the wall to swallow this first morsel among the many to come. As always, as an introduction to these buggy flurries, the air had grown heavy, tense, portentous--the tropical version, perhaps, of the unstable chill that precedes a snow flurry. Another bug, and another fluttered down, and another and another lizard appeared on the ceiling and wall. Soon the air was swirling with termites, sifting down silently as snowflakes (although you would not want to catch these on your tongue). A light breeze picks up, drifting the bugs and their gossamer brown wings into crooks and corners, closely pursued by cicak. Somewhere off to the west, I think, a man in a mosque is wailing the Muslim call to prayer. Were this downfall from the heaven snow, one would soon hear children singing out. But children don't run out to play when termites fall. This heat, this heaviness stifles such songs. It covers the mouth with a thick, humid palm, such that one feels he can barely breathe. I saw on a newscast today that the journalist Khashoggi's final words were that he could not breathe. How essential such simple blessings become, such that we in dire straits should give them expression, all of life reduced to a function, a need. Christ, near death, spoke of being thirsty. Neither could have believed that their tormentors would care or assist them, and yet so they spoke nonetheless. It is the crucial thing, the last necessary thing, the last factual thing. I cannot breathe. I thirst. And the curtain that falls is not of driven snow but is dingy and dim and permeates from skin to soul. The wailing has ceased, the prayer is done, as is the feast and the flurry of laron. The thing is done, they are said to have reported to their leaders by phone. It is finished. Silence now as fist over fist the heaven withdraws the brutal heat. Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my spirit. 


Clearly, the Balinese have not yet heard that explicitly religious Christmas music should not be played in public places. God luv 'em. Already since entering the mall this morning I've heard Angels We Have Heard On High, Hark The Herald Angels Sing, and Away In The Manger. Such beautiful songs; and, for me, the core of Christmas. And who would have thought that you'd have to come to a Hindu society on the other side of the world to hear them? It's about the only way that Bali feels more Christmassy than America. Then again, that's about the only way that really matters, when you come right down to it. 

Sunday, December 9, 2018


I was preparing to leave the house this morning, given that a tornado was about to strike, which is to say that the maid would be arriving to do her one-day-a-week clean up job, when it occurred to me that I had a sudden craving for one of these oatmeal scones at Starbucks along with the usual latte. I talked myself out of this, however, reasoning that the extra cost was unnecessary and I could just have a bowl of Wheatbix at home anyway. Which I did. 

Well, when I got to Starbucks and ordered my latte, I found that my account qualified for a free Daily Planner and carrying case--a perfect Xmas present for the ex (as for myself, I don't plan my days, they plan me, and the plan is generally the same one day to the next). 

Moreover, when my latte was served, I was also given--guess what--a free oatmeal scone! Now how did they know that I had been craving an oatmeal scone?

So it's a good start to the day, I reckon.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Colorless Aristotle

For some time now I have been reading a book called The Last Superstition. This is intended at its core as a refutation of the new atheism (and the writings of its pop culture adherents such as Dawkins, Hitchens, Dennett, et al) and ends up being a long, exhaustive tour of the foundational philosophies of Plato and Aristotle and then of the theology of their Christian heirs, Augustine, Aquinas, Newton, Pascal, and so on. It's fascinating, informative, persuasive, but quite dense and demanding (unlike the rather shallow and often ill-informed arguments being refuted)--and so I have taken a break to return to Murakami.

Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage  (or, in Indonesian, Tsukuru Tazaki Tanpa Warna Dan Tahun Ziarahnya) is a book I have already read in English, and not so very long ago; but, thanks to my nearly nonexistent memory, which itself is thanks to MS, I am able to re-read it, this time in Indonesian, and be as entertained as the first time. I will gradually remember things as I read them, but they will seem new in the sense that they are being expressed in a different language. This gives 'colorless' Tazaki a new sort of color, so to speak, a different angle of appreciation. One wonders how different again he would be in the original Japanese (though of course I will never know, because I am far too old to  learn yet another language).  

Literally, the title in Indonesian, translated directly to English, is  "Tsukuru Tazaki Without Color And Years Pilgrimage". From this, one can see how you have to switch some gears and pull some levers in the mind to reform the language to the patterns you are accustomed to. It sounds backward to the native speaker of English; but, of course, English sounds backward to the native speaker of Indonesian. For me, it's a fascinating exercise--and a rewarding one, insofar as one, in immersing himself in the patterns of the foreign language in order to understand what is said in a novel, further familiarizes himself at the same time with the patterns he will hear among Indonesian speakers in every day life. 

I must say, however, that I would hate to have to try to read Plato and Aquinas in Indonesian, for they are quite sufficiently challenging enough in English! 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Ant Army

I was washing the dishes at the sink last night when I began to note tiny ants crawling on my skin. As quickly as I brushed one off, it seemed that two more would appear. It was then that I noticed the kitchen counter, against which I was leaning while doing the dishes, was swarming with the little critters. And I do mean little.. These guys were the next thing to microscopic, and yet each little microscopic ant packed a powerful bite! Soon I was itching from head to toe. Well, a long shower succeeded in flooding the ants off my skin and out of my hair, though not before I was left with multiple little red welts. Now I not only have skin cancer, but skin 'antcer' as well. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

The Fall

Christoph, my fellow MSer here in Bali, had a bad fall in the shower the other day, and by this morning found himself unable to get out of bed. The pain medicine he had been given, which was after all just paracetamol,  proved ineffective for his pain. Pain can be a problem here in Bali, as the strongest med they have, as far as I've found, is codeine, which is  often not very effective either (not to mention that it constipates the user something terrible). Christoph, however, whom I talked to this morning, was able to find some help through his Balinese friend and that friend's network in the form of a temporary assistant and (I think) a visiting doctor. The will be to be caring and helpful, which seems common among the Balinese, never ceases to amaze me. It is, I think, a cultural thing learned early on, and there is a desire, especially where the tamu are concerned (the 'guests', like me and Christoph) to be helpful, to provide assistance to strangers in a strange land. In some sense, there is no better place in which to suffer the disabilities of MS, particularly in the sense that kindness is often the only effective treatment for the disease. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018


Finally got my magic cancer skin cream this afternoon. An old friend my ex-wife's and mine had the cream from leftover from her father who died of cancer, though not skin cancer, of course. That was just a cancer he was doing as a sideline to the liver cancer which eventually killed him. His name was Eugene and he was a fascinating old fellow who was originally from Russia but had spent most of his life in France, and then in Singapore and Indonesia. He spent his retired years writing historical fiction and bringing up his young daughter, whom he and his wife had adopted, though his wife passed away early on. In the end, the daughter, Nita, took care of Eugene. So it goes. 

This cream is essentially the same as 5-FU (though it has a different name) and is to be used mainly for the precancerous keratosis on my right cheek, although when I talked to the oncologist about the basal cell carcinoma in my ear, I asked if I could use the cream on that and he said 'couldn't hurt'. So I'll give it a shot. If it is effective, I should be able to get more from Australia (they don't have the stuff in Indonesia). I am told, however, to use it sparingly, three times a week, as it can make your skin fall off. Yikes. 

Morning Challenge

A challenging morning, mostly of my own invention. I was to go to lunch later on with my ex-wife and friends, but it was so damn hot that I thought I'd get a haircut first. Also, the hair has grown so long that it's bothering the sore on my ear--you know, always rubbing against it, irritating it. 

So I popped up the street to the usual barbershop, only to find it closed. The sign on the door said "Open at 4:30". What kind of barbershop opens at 4:30? Maybe the kind that's not doing a lot of business? Or maybe the barbers are off at a ceremony? But no, that can't be, because most of them are from Java, not Bali, and it's the Balinese that do the ceremony thing. 

Anyway, I thought 'Well, there's a barbershop over on Tukad Buyon, still close to my house. So I headed down there, but given that this took me on the same road that leads to Sanur, my brain kicked in with automatic pilot and I was nearly to Sanur by the time I remembered what I was supposed to be doing.

Oh well. I recalled seeing a new shop in Sanur, so I figured I'd just go to that one. However, as it turned out, I could not find it again to save my life. 

Dripping with sweat, I stopped for a coffee (at least I didn't forget where the Starbucks is), and upon finishing the coffee, decided that I did not want to show up for the lunch in my increasingly soggy condition. 

Home for a shower, then--and hey, I can stop this time by the barber I previously meant to stop at on Tukad Buyon. 

Automatic pilot, however, frustrated this plan once again. 

At home, after showering, I decided I should really resort to a pair of shorts today, even though my ex doesn't like me to wear them because they make my legs look too skinny. (I beg to differ on this point. It is not the shorts that make my legs look skinny. It is my legs that make themselves look skinny). 

Now, the only decent pair of shorts I have is a pair of brown shorts, and for this I would need to wear brown sandals. The heel strap on my brown sandals has long been in need of repair, and I had long ago bought a little bottle of superglue to effect said repair. So, no time like the present. 

This bottle of superglue is rather cleverly done. It comes in the package with a detached screw-on cap, and when you screw on the cap, the seal is punctured, thus allowing the superglue to escape the tube. 

And escape it did. Soon, most of the fingers on both of my hands were glued to each other (though not a bit of the glue had yet gotten onto the sandal). I was in a bit of a panic, as it seemed like the thumb and middle finger of my right hand were about to be fixed permanently into the position of an "A-Ok" sign.  Happily, a generous amount of dish washing liquid and hot water finally released them from one another. 

By now, it must be getting late, I thought. So I went to check the time on my cell phone, and found the touch ID no longer works. The superglue has erased my thumbprint.   

Off to lunch now. Hopefully my newly glued sandal will not end up permanently glued to my foot. 

Wish me luck. 

Tuesday, December 4, 2018


I received a message from my friend Samuel the other day. The message said, "Mr. Will, what happen?"

You see, he had noticed something I wrote on Facebook about my cancerous ear saga, and though he cannot read or speak English, he was able to note the word 'cancer' and was concerned. 

I sent a message back, briefly explaining the thing, and received the following message from Samuel. 

"Mr. Will, I come to your house tonight." 

Similarly, other friends and acquaintances here picked up on the post and immediately expressed their concern and good wishes. 

I mention this just as a way to express my surprise and my appreciation at receiving so many caring inquiries. I really did not expect that anyone would even notice, much less rush to my house. And although my ear and I have not been parted after all, it's nice to know that folks cared.  

Monday, December 3, 2018

Baby It's Cold Outside

Once again, 'tis the season to object. I'm not sure when this sort of thing started. I do remember when Christmas was just Christmas, without any particular objection. But at some point people got in the habit of feeling offended. 

The usual objection has been to overtly religious displays. God forbid that the celebration of the birth of Jesus should be tainted by … well, references to Jesus. Bluntly 'religious' carols had to go, and manger scenes and other distasteful images like the cross and wise men and shepherds in the field and so on. There has even been the feeling in some quarters that the word Christmas itself must go, that it would be somehow more polite and considerate to say 'Happy Holidays'. 

But this year's objection (or the first one I see, anyway) is of a different sort. We are to object now to the old song, "Baby It's Cold Outside". 

I saw this news just today, and my first response was Huh?

Well, yes. We are told that this song is not appropriate in the 'Me Too' age. We are told that the lyrics are misogynistic, sexist, insulting, and may even promote rape culture. 

Oh, God. Don't get me wrong. I'm a big fan of the Me Too movement. I'm also a big fan of pizza, but one can go too far with these things.  

So, here are the lyrics (parts in parentheses sung by the male, non-parenthesized by the female): 

I really can't stay (but baby, it's cold outside)
I've got to go away (but baby, it's cold outside)
This evening has been (been hoping that you'd drop in)
So very nice (i'll hold your hands, they're just like ice)
My mother will start to worry (beautiful what's your hurry?)
My father will be pacing the floor (listen to the fireplace roar)
So really I'd better scurry (beautiful please don't hurry)
But maybe just a half a drink more (put some records on while I pour)
The neighbors might think (baby, it's bad out there)
Say what's in this drink? (no cabs to be had out there)
I wish I knew how (your eyes are like starlight now)
To break this spell (i'll take your hat, your hair looks swell)
I ought to say, no, no, no sir (mind if I move in closer?)
At least I'm gonna say that I tried (what's the sense in hurtin' my pride?)
I really can't stay (oh baby don't hold out)
But baby, it's cold outside
I simply must go (but baby, it's cold outside)
The answer is no (but baby, it's cold outside)
Your welcome has been(how lucky that you dropped in)
So nice and warm (look out the window at this dawn)
My sister will be suspicious (gosh your lips look delicious)
My brother will be there at the door (waves upon the tropical shore)
My maiden aunts mind is vicious (gosh your lips are delicious)
But maybe just a cigarette more (never such a blizzard before)
I've gotta get home(but baby, you'd freeze out there)
Say lend me a coat(it's up to your knees out there)
You've really been grand (i thrill when you touch my hand)
But don't you see? (how can you do this thing to me?)
There's bound to be talk tomorrow (think of my lifelong sorrow)
At least there will be plenty implied (if you got pnuemonia and died)
I really can't stay (get over that old out)
Baby, it's cold
Baby, it's cold outside

Scandalous, right? Very inappropriate. Unhealthy.


The song has now, in the year of our Lord 2018, been banned by multiple radio stations. Clearly these lyrics encourage sexual aggression and predatory attitudes--the idea that women may be restrained against their will, badgered, and plied with drinks, going as far as to suggest that a man may put something in the drink! 

Given that these lyrics were written in 1944, the author may well have intended to suggest that something had been added to the drink--something like an extra shot.

Baby It's Cold Outside has been performed by countless singers, including Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Michael Buble, Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Dolly Parton, Idina Menzel--and so on.

Little did these folks realize that they were promoting sexual assault.

Huh. And all these years I thought it was just a story about a boy pursuing a girl and a girl playing hard to get. How naïve of me.
Then again, I wonder.  Could it be that the only inappropriate thing here has been the imposition of the corrupt, cynical, paranoid sensibilities of our time on a more innocent age? 

Worth thinking about. 

But in the meantime, and in keeping with the modern spirit, let's all try to be just a little bit less pleasant and a little less human this Christmas.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Mystery of the Laron

I was watching an old movie last night called The House of Fear, starring Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes, with Nigel Bruce as Doctor Watson. This had just happened to pop up on my YouTube page for some reason. Strange how that happens. Apparently the site is somehow aware that I and my brother used to enjoy watching these old Holmes flicks on a rainy day back when we were just tykes and presumed that I might be interested in watching them again. Of course, these Holmes flicks, produced during the '40's, weren't all that old back when we were tykes.

Early impressions are lasting and persuasive, and for that reason, Basil Rathbone stays with me as the best ever to have portrayed the British sleuth. 

Honestly, The House of Fear was a rather silly story, and a predictable one; nonetheless, I was so immersed in the 'mystery' that I did not notice the swarm of laron that had entered the house. Laron is the Indonesian word for the flying brown termites that mysteriously appear at the most pressing height of the day's humidity, just before or just after a big rain. They are attracted to light, which of course is why they had come flocking into the house, and they retain their wings for only a short while. 

So, I looked up from The House of Fear to find myself in the house of laron, swallowed in a veritable storm of flying brown bugs. 

So much for the movie--for cleaning these critters out of the house requires time and effort. And a broom. Later on today, I will need to clean off the kitchen counters and sink in the back, for everything is covered with a blanket of brown wings. 

Where did the bugs themselves go, minus their wings? Well, my der Watson, that remains a mystery.