Monday, September 30, 2019


Well, here's a sort of public announcement: Whoever you are, Jason, will you please stop posting your pharmacy advertisements on my blog? It's annoying. I do enjoy receiving mail, but not from people who haven't even read the entries and are simply trying to drum up business for themselves. And Jason, dude, you've posted dozens and dozens of these ads. I have to delete all that repetitive email and I have to delete the messages on the blog. I'm sure no one reads them anyway. People aren't stupid, you know, Jason? I just don't like the blog cluttered with junk mail. So, in short: Cease and desist! LOL. 

Believe Me

We are all in varying degree not quite what we seem. 
--Believe Me, JP Delaney

After purchasing Believe Me, by JP Delaney, I put the novel aside for a time while I forced my way through Trisurya (Liu Cixin) and continued my slow though very enjoyable crawl through the 900 pages of Kronik Burung Pegas (Haruki Murakami), for I knew that once I started with Believe Me, I would read it straight through. 

Claire, a Brit without a Green Card, needs work and money to survive while she rather obsessively pursues an acting career on Broadway--and a natural talent for acting is indeed the one thing she has going for her, the one thing she can use to fill the gaps and sustain her quest. 

Then again ... is she really acting at all? 

Finding it difficult to find lucrative work, given her lapsed visa status, Clair occasionally hires herself out to a somewhat disreputable law firm to play the bait in sting operations designed to entrap cheating husbands, and it is through this employment that she becomes coincidentally involved in a particularly grisly murder.

Then again, is it really coincidence? 

Well, from there it gets a lot more complicated. A whole lot more complicated.

Delaney is the author of an earlier psycho-thriller, The Girl Before, and like The Girl Before, Believe Me, filled with cleverly fashioned intrigues and twists, hits the suspense target dead on; and while it's at it, manages to make some keenly insightful observations about women and men and love and trust, about useful illusions and dangerous delusions. 

Most of all though, as the narrative itself puts it, it's a story about a man and a woman trying to guess each other's motives. To work out what's really going on inside the other's mind. What would I really see, if I could look into your heart?

There's nothing I like better than a novel that fulfills the expectations of genre and at the same time feeds the serious reader's thirst for deeper meaning. In my mind, Delaney ticks both boxes here. 

Saturday, September 28, 2019


Interesting to watch Trump, his high government henchmen, and the Republican party at large twist themselves into grotesque pretzels over Ukraine-gate. It's even more interesting to read the incompetent, quite desperate defenses contained in online comments of the Trumpers out there--garbled regurgitations of the already addled defenses they've heard on Fox or Brietbart. Where will these people go when their hero falls? Nowhere, I reckon. They will form a sort of fifth column, spewing ever more ridiculous conspiracy theories along with  the sort of paranoid hate rhetoric that has no limits, and they will be led still by their delusional king. It's downright Shakespearean. 

Friday, September 27, 2019

9/11 Redux

Back in November of 2016, a thousand sad years ago, I wrote that the American people, or half of them anyway, had crashed a fuel-loaded jetliner into their own country, just as surely as terrorists had done on 9/11. The damage from that latter attack has scarred the nation ever since, and led as well to misguided actions of blind vengeance that scarred nations around the world, especially in the Middle East, along with a progressive deterioration of American values and the standing of the United States in the world community. 

The point is, these blatant acts of destruction don't begin and end on the day of their occurrence. They only begin there. For the past two-plus years, America has suffered the consequences resulting from the morally blind, the stubbornly deaf, the lamentably thoughtless voters who elected a timebomb to the highest office in the nation. It doesn't end in November 2016. There is no 'getting over it and moving on' as so many Trump supporters liked to advise. No, the disaster foreseen by the prudent, the sane, must unfold, the cancer, having been allowed to invade and spread, must run its course. The chance for early intervention long ago passed by. Thereafter, the die was cast. 

How now might the cancer be removed without killing the victim? In some sense, we have now no choice as a nation but to die, and to hope for resurrection. An ugly period lies before us. The terminally recalcitrant will not simply have a 'change of heart'. No, they will go down with the ship, and call it courage and patriotism. And they will continue their rebellion from the secreting shade of tangled forests and crumbling structures and putrid alleys, in the shadows of shadows cast two eternal years ago.

The struggle, once thought inconceivable, once thought needless, has only just begun. 

Thursday, September 26, 2019


A little dog with a serious health problem has shown up at the villa for the last two days, once discovered lying beside my motorbike, and then on the step outside the front entry. This dog has some kind of infection or ulceration or tumor or all of the above involving her female organ, grossly swollen and very visible. Poor little dog. There's really nothing much to do about this in Bali. There is no one I know of to call, no rescue agency to inform. 

But what mystifies me is how it occurs to these dogs to show up wherever I happen to live. It is always the same--if there is an injured or sick or ownerless dog within the radius of the neighborhood, it is sure to show up at my door, or as close as possible to my door. Why? Is there a sort of neon sign, visible only to the eyes of a dog, that reads in flashing red "All dogs welcome here"? 

Moreover, the other people in the villa appear to automatically conclude that the dog has something to do with me, or I with the dog. "Pa Will, there's a dog by your motorbike. Pa Will, that dog is outside the door again." So what? I am all dogs' keeper?

Perhaps this is all Takut's fault. Perhaps he has been going around the neighborhood spreading the word that my place is a free soup kitchen, a free crash pad. I wouldn't put it past him--although, on the other hand, it doesn't seem very likely that he would risk having to share any of his own food.

Wednesday, September 25, 2019


So it looks like we're finally getting around to an impeachment, something that should have happened two years ago in a presidency that never should have happened in the first place. It's something that should have happened before the election ever occurred, when Trump publicly invited Russia to interfere in the election. It's something that should have happened when Trump was caught talking about grabbing pussy. It's something that should have happened when Trump stood behind his microphone at Helsinki and said that he took Putin's word above that of his own intelligence agencies. It's something that should have happened when Trump lied thousands of times to the American people. It's something that should have happened when the head of the FBI described Trump's eagerness to work with the Russians in order to steal an election and Trump's efforts to interfere in his own interest with the proper functions of government. And so on. Better late than never? We'll see. It is in any case the right, the moral, the rable, the patriotic thing to do. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Damn Adventures

I enjoy the opportunity these days of chatting with my second wife every now and then.  Previously, we had not spoken at all for some years. Too many wounds, both real and imaged, I guess. But hey, old things are passed away, behold, all things have become new. 

We were married thirteen years, and in fact had known one another since our grade school days. Therefore, we have many shared memories, which are now mostly good. We don't talk about the others except in broad general terms. 

Yet though we share many memories, we do not necessarily share them in a mutual way, by which I mean that we will remember the time and place and basic character of a certain experience but will disagree on the specifics. We spoke the other day, for instance, of a troubled time when we were walking in the park. On that day, she said, seemingly out of the blue, "I don't think I'm 'in love' with you anymore." 

I remember even now how much that hurt. It broke my heart. And yet at the time I buried my pain and chose to approach the matter philosophically. 

"Love changes over time," I said. "It deepens and matures. Sure, it is no longer the electric, butterflies-in-the-stomach passion of romance, of newness. But it has become deeper than that, more permanent, more secure."

"Hah! I said that!" she now insists. "I could see you were hurt and I wanted to explain what I really meant in the first place!" 

Strange. I am quite sure that I said these things to her. She is quite sure it was she who had said them to me. 


There is another incident that we do agree upon, though we saw it quite differently at the time. I had asked her to accompany me on a walk around the neighborhood, my idea being to have a leisurely time together, a breather, just the two of us, from our busy schedules, for we were both in our prime, working full time, raising four children. I was longing for quality quiet time. It was a nice, sunny spring day (rare enough for Oregon), and it seemed a perfect opportunity.  

Often, I had accused my wife of having to make an adventure of everything, for being seemingly unable to be at rest, to 'just chill'. I missed her, I guess. With all the necessities and interruptions of our busy lives, I missed just talking to her.

Well, sure enough, she turned our quiet walk into a needless, and rather irritating slog through a forested area of the neighborhood. The forest floor consisted of countless little lakes separated occasionally by a bit of dry land. The trees were dripping from the recent rains, the bushes were dripping, and the sucking mud was determined to capture one or the other of my shoes--which, by the way, were dress shoes, not tennis shoes or hiking boots. 

At some point in this adventure, I stepped off a log into a particular deep puddle--or not a puddle, a pond--and I finally lost my temper.

"Dammit!, I complained, "why does everything have to be a damn adventure with you!"

She laughed uproariously then, and laughs even more uproariously now. To see me get angry was a rare thing, and an apparently hilarious thing. Boy did she love it when I showed some emotion!

"I guess I never thought of it before that time," she says now. "I guess you just wanted to take a peaceful walk." 

Ya think? 

And even now my response is the same upon being reminded of this story. 

"Well, why? Why did you have to make such a damn adventure of everything?"

In all fairness, though, I will admit now that adventure is not such a bad idea, and that making such adventures is not such a bad character trait. At the proper place and at the proper time, of course. But then that very idea of propriety would transgress against another of her character traits, that being the conviction that spontaneity is the very spice in life. 

I am remembering one August when we drove down to Gold Beach, just north of the border between Oregon and California. I had done this in the past with my son and we had just kind of lazed around, sightseeing and such-like. But on this occasion, my wife had other ideas. 

First off, we went to see a local rodeo. I had never had any interest in rodeos or cowboys or people interacting with horses and cows and calves and bulls. 'How long will we be there?' I asked. Surprisingly, however, I found the whole event rather entertaining, and I appreciated the skill displayed by all these cowpokes, young and old, male and female. 

Next, she signed us up for a tour trip on a fast boat up the Rogue River. 'How long will we have to sit in the boat?' I asked. As it turned out, a famous figure was also taking the tour that day. This was Loni Anderson, best known for her marriage to Burt Reynolds, her various roles in movies, her role in the popular sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, and her large breasts. 

"Now don't make a big deal over her," my wife warned. "Don't even let on that you know who she is. I'm sure she just wants to have a relaxing time out of the spotlight." And then straightaway she contrived a way to secure a seat next to Ms. Anderson as well as a way to engage in an accidental, quite spontaneous personal conversation. 

Other than that--or, perhaps, in addition to that--the boat trip was fabulous. The Rogue River wilderness is one of the most beautiful areas in Oregon and is populated by all sorts of wildlife. We saw bears, deer, elks, eagles, blue herons, and a lot of delightful people, including Loni. 

All-in-all, the Gold Beach excursion of that summer was one of the most enjoyable vacations in my memory. Thanks to her. 

My second wife was a nut case. She still is a nut case. But it occurs to me, just now, that I loved her very much. And that I love her still. What happened to us ultimately? Who can say? Perhaps the problem was that I was simply not "in love" with her anymore.  

Monday, September 23, 2019

Yesterday's Rant

Yesterday's rant (see post) on the camaraderie of all breeds of religious extremism was actually a response, though an indirect one, to the advancement of a bill in the Indonesian Congress that would criminalize extramarital sex relations as well as homosexuality in general and same sex marriage in particular. Moreover, the same bill would prohibit "attacks on the dignity of the president and the vice president" and "insults toward the legitimate government." I imagine Donald would love that part, right? 

The bill has been temporarily "delayed" by President Joko Widodo in response to protests; nonetheless, it is expected to pass. At the same time, a separate bill which weakens the Corruption Eradication Commission, an institution that has stood since the Reform movement began, was passed by the congress. So, I guess the message is that laws curtailing the freedoms of citizens should be strengthened while laws meant to control governmental sins such as corruption should be weakened. Again, I can think of a certain American who would love this. 

This is all quite disappointing for Indonesian citizens who elected Jokowi to the office of president because he seemed at the outset a champion of reform and progressive ideology, someone who would actually fit into the world of sane political leaders and lift the perception of Indonesia itself as a peaceful, politically, socially, and religiously moderate nation. 

But there's a lot of this going around, isn't there? Perhaps it is but the last gasp of repressive, dictatorial inclinations, an echo of the bad old 30's and 40's which gave us Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin, Tojo; Nazism, Fascism, and Communism. 

We can hope so. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Identical Twins

I wonder if Christian extremists ever stop of think about how similar they are to Muslim extremists? After all, the two hold many of the same viewpoints. Homosexuality is evil. Same sex marriage is evil. Sex outside of marriage is evil. Religions other than their own are evil and religious viewpoints within their own system that are in opposition to theirs are evil. For the extremist Christians, Muslims are universally evil, which is a conclusion arrived upon through complete and utter ignorance of the variety of Muslim positions within Islam itself. By the same token, Muslims judge Christianity as evil in the same manner and for the same reason. So … if the two religions agree on so much, what's the problem? Why not unite in a spirit of mutual intolerance and hatred and at last change the world such that it conforms to their shared twisted, inhumane, arrogant, coldhearted doctrine? We have found the enemy, as the old saying goes, and he is us.   

Saturday, September 21, 2019

The Three Body Problem

As I've mentioned previously (I think), I am currently reading a novel entitled Trisurya (English title The Three Body Problem) by Chinese author Liu Cixin. The novel is very much wrapped up in physics and quantum physics. The three body problem, in brief, is the problem in physics of computing the trajectory of three bodies interacting with one another. Whatever that means. These calculations are of little importance or meaning to the general reader, and in fact I still had no idea what the meaning or significance of the three body problem was until I was nearly halfway into the novel. Then one night I had a dream about it, and I awoke with a sudden awareness of what was being addressed. Not that I can convey the idea to anyone else.

The novel is wildly popular in China, and is part one of a trilogy. Still, I have found it disappointing, and have basically had to force myself to read it. As a fictional narrative, it seems very clumsy indeed, often confusing, often downright silly. There is no character development whatsoever, and in fact the characters sort of melt into one another such that one is not quite sure who this or that character is each time he or she reappears in this disjointed narrative. There is really no tension in the novel, no striving forward of events to keep the reader engaged. 

I bought this novel because of the highly positive blurb from Barack Obama on the back cover. We seem to have been reading two different novels. The subject of quantum physics tends to fascinate most bookish types (like me) given the romantic-seeming poetic side of that discipline, the metaphysical nature of quantum equations, and it should have carried this novel through despite the novelistic weaknesses of the narrative, but Cixin simply has not shown a talent, at least in my opinion, for conveying these complex ideas in an interesting or accessible way or in a way that clearly furthers the plot. What I found most compelling in the novel were those portions dealing with the Red Revolution, but if one wants to read fiction on that subject, he is much better off with any one of Yu Hua's most popular novels. 

So yeah, I cannot recommend Trisurya, despite what Barack says. Maybe it's just a matter of taste, or a matter of what one seeks in a novel. I have always found that a good novel is one that is regularly quotable, one that contains jewels of style or thought that resonate in the mind and simply must be repeated. None of that here. 

Friday, September 20, 2019

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

People seem to come and go in my life rather swiftly these days. Perhaps this has something to do, in part, with the mobile society of Bali in particular, and of Indonesia in general. There is a new resident in my apartment complex, for instance, who has befriended me; however she is here only until January, at which time she will be returning to her home in Australia. There are many others such as she who are merely passing through--foreigners on vacation, Indonesians from other islands who are here temporarily on a work permit and who will suddenly disappear, having returned to their homes for one reason or another. 

But there is more to it than that. I have participated for some time in a language sharing site on the internet. People wanting to learn English (supposedly) will contact me. A brief conversation may ensue. 'Where are you from? How long have you been here? Can you teach me English?' And so on. And then I never hear from them again. 


I watched many people come and go in my wife's life. They would show up out of nowhere and they would seem to have swiftly become bosom friends. The relationship would burn brightly, like a fire kindled from dry, especially flammable tinder, and then suddenly die, leaving no glowing coals, no residue other than lukewarm ash.

Are these relationships less than genuine from the beginning? This is what I wonder about the people who come and go in my own world. Was it all just basa-basi--chit-chat. Or do I myself very quickly lose my initial attractiveness? To know me is to be bored by me? Or have I done something offensive?

I don't know. It's a mystery.

Here now, gone tomorrow. Life seems composed of random chapters with no book to bind them. 


Way back when, in the now but dimly recollected 1990's, I took part in a church performance of the passion play, a theatrical dramatization of that period of time from the arrest of Christ to His crucifixion and resurrection. 

I had never before done any acting, and in fact had always energetically avoided such pursuits given a lifetime of shy reclusiveness. But in this case, mine was but a minor part (if I remember correctly, I was a seller of fruits and vegetables), safely tucked into a crowd of other minor players, our mission being to create a general hubbub, as one might find in a public marketplace or among rubber-necked spectators. It all seemed safe enough. 

Before each performance (there were three a week, on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), each of us would sit in a chair to receive the application of make up, as is typically done in theatrical performances in order to accentuate facial features for the benefit of an audience viewing the play at a distance--lipstick, eyeliner, and such-like. 

As part of this cosmetic effort, those of us who were light-skinned would be slightly darkened (and our blond of red hair covered) in order that we might appear as suitable as possible for parts we were playing--to whit, the parts of Middle Eastern people from the region of Judea. 

Christ Himself, or, rather, the Minnesotan of Scandinavian descent who was playing Christ, had his skin darkened such that he might appear more like the historical Jesus rather than the light-skinned, blond-haired character who appears in so many western depictions and is so objected to by literalist critics. 

Well, it seems now that we were all guilty of a great sin. We--white people--had darkened our skin, an outrageous, bigoted, racist insult to all people of color. This comes to mind, of course, with the news of the unforgivable act of the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, who darkened his skin as part of a costume party portrayal of Aladdin, a fictional character from The One Thousand and One Nights, an Arabic classic from the Islamic Golden Age.  


Trudeau is now apologizing profusely, prostrating himself before the Pharisaical judges of the PC age. If it is possible, let this cup pass by me, however not as I will, but as you will. 

But … hold on … aren't we getting just a bit ridiculous here?  Did Trudeau mean to insult Aladdin (again, a fictional character)? Did he mean to insult Arabs? Or Arabic literature? Or dark skinned people in general? Is this why he darkened his skin in order to appear as Aladdin. Did I have my own skin darkened in the passion play to ridicule Middle Eastern people?

Think about it. 

Our society judges on the one hand that the depiction of Jesus as a Caucasian, for all appearances, is racist and wholly inappropriate, while on the other hand it damns the man who would darken his skin in order to more faithfully portray a figure. 

What's up with that? 

I'm not talking about blackface here, the intentional ridicule or disrespect on the basis of skin color alone. That's a whole entire horse of another color, so to speak. I'm talking about what seems to me a quite natural inclination to portray a part faithfully or realistically. It seems to me not an insult but a compliment of sorts, a desire to become the actual character, dark skin and all. 

It seems, to be brief, that this sort of thing has gotten out of hand. It has become absurd. Presumably, if I were a political figure, someone would dig up an old photo of me as the Middle Eastern first century fruit and vegetable seller and demand my resignation.

Is this really who we want to be?  

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Facing the Music

The heavens will disappear with a roar, the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare.
--2 Peter 3:10

As I walk into Starbucks this morning, the sound system is playing one of the more annoying songs among those in their generally relentlessly annoying current repertoire--a truly cringe worthy number designed to set one's teeth on edge. 

Ah, but there are bigger problems than this in the world, bigger fish to fry to a crisp until nothing is left but ash. For, you see, I am coming here just after reading an article from the New York Times about the inescapable results of global warming by the end of the century. Somehow this brought home the reality more distinctly than I had previously experienced it, just in the same way that the author himself described suddenly facing our inevitable collective fate. 

It had not occurred to me before, for instance--probably because I hadn't really thought about it--that those peoples currently living in land masses that will be the first to suffer deadly effects--land masses such as Indonesia, with its current population of 264 million and rising--will quite naturally seek to migrate north and south to cooler climates. As portions of the earth become one after another uninhabitable, populations will continue to migrate en masse, making their destinations unlivable as well in advance of the actual flash baking of those locales.

One can only imagine, given the current attitude of the government of the United States toward asylum seekers fleeing disaster, what the response to this new 'invasion' would be. 'Burn in hell' will probably be the slogan of the privileged people of the future. 

Which all makes me feel glad to be on my way out. All of the suffering that has been visited upon people by other people--the wars, the genocides, the pogroms, the massacres--are about to be surpassed by the earth itself. Poetic justice? I don't know. I guess it just is what it is. And that is what we cannot bear to face. Eat, drink, and be merry, we say, for tomorrow we die. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Idiot Morons

Y'all ever notise that miny Trump suporters miss use the Inglish language? It's like the Bowling Green Massacre, man! I mean, it's like I cant even begin to dikuss an issu until we can get some gramer rules sorted out, let alone spilling. One Trumpette comented this morning that Beto is "a idiot moron." Well, first of all, he has misused the article, in that 'a' should be 'an'. Moreover, he has improperly linked two nouns, as if the second were a modifier of the first--but dude, 'idiot' and 'moron' have the same meaning. It's redundant. The intended insult is not only grammatically incorrect, it's … well, idiotic. He might be "an idiotic moron" or "a moronic idiot", although that would still be redundant, but he simply cannot be an "idiot moron". Although I guess the writer of the comment can be. It's down right tiring. And these are probably the same peephole that tell forners to lern Inglish or go back where they came from without recognizing that they themselves need to go back to skool. God! I reely cant help but try to correct some basic errors, at which point I am, of course, accused of being a 'Gramer Nasi." Ya they ain't no point is speeking rat. We all know whats rat and whats rong, and its obvius who the idiot morn is here!

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Something Happened

Things are different now. Things have changed. I don't know exactly when this happened. In fact, I suppose it didn't happen exactly all at one point in time. I can only research my own life, by looking back through my own writings, and see that perhaps two years ago I was walking every day, and walking fairly long distances, without any particular discomfort. I can see that I would often take a morning walk. The big fat brown dog would come along with me. This was in the old neighborhood, at the old house in Renon. I can see that I would also often take a walk on the beach in the evening. When Sasha was here visiting, he would accompany me. It was just me and him, because his mom was off travelling the world with her boyfriend. This was all, as I have said, about two years ago. 

Then there came a long series of various illnesses, culminating in a final (one hopes) top-it-all-off illness which spanned the months from mid February to August. One problem after another. Or perhaps they were all one masquerading as many. 

I seek now to resume the life that had been put on hold during this long period of time, but find that I am unable. My legs are weak and shaky, my balance sucks. I start out on one of the old familiar paths and have barely begun when my legs and lower back begin to ache. I feel like I'm walking on the moon, only its a moon with gravity double that of the earth and I can feel the weight of the cumbersome space suit that is my own body.

So I guess I'm looking for the new me. What is it that I do now? Rest. Read books. Watch movies. Eat. I guess that's it, so far. And it seems, sadly, to be enough. I will often fall asleep in the middle of the day--a deep, dry-mouthed, paralyzing, spell-like sleep. A Snow White sort of sleep. I will wake to find that Takut the dog has shown up in the meantime and is sitting by the bedside staring at me. It is a sleep that extinguishes time, such that when I wake, I do not know whether it is morning, midday, or evening. 

Gosh, maybe I need vitamins. Some speed might also help. Little blue rocket pills. 

Or maybe I've just gotten old in two years. Time moves fast in these twilight years, even as it seems to stand still. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

In Memoriam

[The following is a memoriam written by my son's half brother, Kendal. I thought it honest, heartfelt, sensitive, touching. Holden passed away in the spring of this year. His mother, stepfather, and brother visit his grave once a month.]

I will remember Holden. I will remember how he was with me from day one and will always be with me.

I will remember going to visit him in a big house high up in the hills, how we would often spend those early fourth of July’s up there with his grandparents shooting fireworks from their porch.
I will remember mom telling me he had a Rom figure, before I was even born but it said something he didn’t like once so he stopped playing with it.

I will remember how we tried to play laser tag once and how I fell and busted my head open, and he asked if he could be taken home before they took me to the emergency room, I tried not to resent him for that, but sadly I’m not sure I ever truly succeeded.

I will remember being at our old apartment, being an ass to my mom In front of my friends just to try and impress them and how Holden grabbed my arm hard to try and make me apologize, but at the time I wouldn’t and how stupidly proud I felt for standing up to him, when in retrospect I was just being a jerk and wish I had apologized.

I will remember going on plenty of volkswalks with Holden and how he was always the fastest walker I had ever seen, often getting far ahead of us and then having to stop and wait for the rest of us slowpokes.

I will remember one particular time, I think after a volkswalk, that we were at a dam or fishery of some sort and we ended up having a little talk amongst one another, and he asked how I was doing and generally seemed to be interested in me and how I was, a rare thing for an autistic person to do and probably my most cherished memory of him.

I will remember how Holden would often walk around with a large glass of juice or tea and before he would leave our house for the night he would always have to gulp down every last drop, often in one shot, as if every drop of liquid was precious, before he could confidently stride out for the night.

I will remember how he always called me Kuda, I never really knew why but I always accepted it, It was nice to have a nickname.

I will remember when dad would drive him around he would often complain about which route he took to avoid traffic, and how despite never driving himself, he was right more often then you would think.

I will remember growing older and realizing people could be cruel to someone like Holden and wishing to kick the butt of anyone I felt treated him wrong.

I will remember intentionally listening to loud music or other ruckus thing trying to intentionally annoy him, as siblings do, or how I would try to eat all the good food In the fridge before he could, a habit that never left me, even though it was petty and stupid and I often regretted doing it.

I will remember his loud booming voice and thunderous step that would always easily announce his presence.

I will remember how he always made it so the microwave wouldn’t spin somehow, whether intentionally or not, I don’t know.

I will remember how you always knew it was Holden at the door because he would ring the doorbell once then twice in rapid succession, before testing the door handle to see If he could let himself in.

I will remember how Holden would sometimes crack himself up In the middle of a sentence as he recounted some sort of ridiculous happenings going on in the world today.

I will remember how Holden on warm sunny days would grab a drink and go out into our backyard and just sit on our homemade patio enjoying the world.

I will remember how he would do an awkward little shuffle between the fridge and garbage can, trying his hardest to avoid touching the garbage.

I will remember how he is the only person I know who probably hasn’t watched the television or gone to a movie in decades, yet still seemed to know what was going on in the world.

I will remember how mom and dad would drive out to all sorts of stores in order to get everything Holden needed, but almost inevitably he would call back the next day with something he forgot, and how, if they could, nine times out of ten they would get whatever else he needed as well.

I will remember how mom would always share her diabetic supplies with Holden, even when he would overdo it because she understood what Holden was going through even when me and dad couldn’t understand.

I will remember how he always loved to go to the beach and would have loved to have lived there, a sentiment I share.

I will remember how Holden had a nice smile on the rare occasions he showed it.

I remember how he often would not get up until noon, and how I would usually meet up with him in the middle of the night when he slept over, we were both night owls of the highest order and had way more in common than I often thought.

I will remember how Holden was always an old soul and seemed to get along better with people twice his age, and how I thought if he could just live in an old folks home, man would he be set.

I will remember his interest in the similarities and differences in religions throughout time and his seeming quest to find a pattern to it all.

I will remember his love of history and his never ending quest for more books to read, something he shared with mom, how I would often sit and listen to them discuss history, wishing I had something to add to the discussion.

I will remember his aspirations at trying to write books, I believe historical fiction, and how he took it into his own hands to try and get published, I think some of his work he even put online, I wish I knew where, as someone who has his own inclinations towards art I hope that his stories brought him a sense of accomplishment and joy to create, perhaps not all stories are meant to become popular, maybe some are never even meant to be read or seen by anyone but their creator, but, nevertheless I feel they are all important and worth the effort to create.

I will remember him reading young adult horror books when he was younger and how he would scare me with apparitions like the bandage man, he is probably one of the reasons I am interested in things like Bigfoot to this day.

I will remember how when dad had to go away on business he came over to stay, at the time I thought it was purely out of self interest, but I suspect that he may have desired to watch over me and mom.

I will remember how if the cats were bothering him he would talk to them just like they were little furry humans and could easily understand him, I found it rather funny.

I will remember how he had a special relationship with bumpa, one that I cannot really speak of but that I know he appreciated.

I will remember how he would always come over on Christmas eve to open presents and have a good meal, and how it was always fun to see him so nonchalantly tell you exactly what he thought of his presents for better or worse, but I think he appreciated them despite how mundane they always were.

I will remember that despite all his problems he was always able to talk to anyone he met, he was never afraid to speak his mind or share an opinion, a trait I wish I could have learned from him.
I will remember how Holden almost singlehandedly kept Tab on the shelves with his love of the product.

I will remember how he would always say goodbye by saying something like “It was nice seeing you, hope you have a good day, uh, goodbye!” and how he was always obsessed with the weather and how it would affect his favorite activity, walking.

I will remember how he was always active on some project or another whether it was writing a book or cleaning up a long forgotten hiking trail for free better then anyone who would have been paid to do the job could have.

I will remember how he would offer to trim our hedges and do the best most meticulous job you’ve ever seen.

I will remember Holden as a always restless wandering soul who never had enough time on his hands and always hoped for sunny days.

I will remember how I would sometimes see him smile and wave at my cats as they passed by and how he would almost talk to them like they were people who could understand everything he said, I always thought it was very cute.

Holden had to endure many hardships and hurdles in his too brief life but he always tackled them with resolve in himself and the fact that the Lord was always with him, that is what I will take from Holden's life, the idea to never stop, never give up and to always have faith, unshakable unwavering faith.

Be well Holden. I will see you in heaven someday and we’ll walk along the sunny paths of eternity together. I love you, miss you, and will never forget you.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

I did not realize that Quentin Tarantino's recent film, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, was about the Manson family murders until well into the story, when I began to put together the hints along the way. Of course, most folks will already know this when they go to see the movie because most folks are more plugged into current American film offerings and pre-release media than I am. In a sense, this made me the ideal viewer, as Tarantino was able to spring this shock-value surprise on me whilst I was otherwise immersed in the frivolity of Hollywood lifestyles and the self-centered fixations of actors and directors which seemed, though deceptively so, to be the focus of the story. It all comes together rather nicely, actually, and ends up delivering a comedy, in the classic sense, of Hollywood illusion juxtaposed with the deadly realities of the world. I have never been a Tarantino fan (to put it mildly), but this is certainly his most successful, most artistic, most meaningful effort. Yes, when it comes to the Manson murders, I would rather see a film from Spike Lee or Francis Ford Coppola or Martin Scorsese; but then again, it is perhaps better at this point in time to talk not about the factual details regarding the murders and the murderers, but about the culture that produced them and continues to do so. And this is what Tarantino has done. It is a good movie, I will say grudgingly, and it is extremely well acted by Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, and Al Pacino.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Allmost Lost in Translation

Generally, in every day conversation with every day people, one finds that Indonesians, as well as other Southeast Asians, know very little about America or American politics. And there's no reason that they should, actually. America is far away, and American realities are superfluous to every day life in Asian countries.

However, I happened to meet a young woman yesterday through my language sharing app who is a political science major at a university in Java and who I found to be quite knowledgeable about current political figures and trends in America, being able to understand the English in newspapers and news broadcasts. 

Nonetheless, the view she had arrived at, through these sources and through, I'm sure, the slant of her studies and lectures, was interesting. 

Trump just fired national security advisor John Bolton, she wrote. Trump is a traitor. He NEVER followed MY orders, Trump said. When I ordered him to give Putin a list of my CIA agents, Bolton refused. When I ordered Bolton to Nuke the hurricane, Bolton didn't do it. Now, thanks to Bolton, Alabama is in ruins.

As an American reader can see, I hope, this version of events is rather garbled, rather extreme. Even for one who despises Trump as much as I do, Trump is not quite so bad as painted here. He did not order Bolton to give Putin a list of CIA agents in Russia (at least as far as we know or has actually been reported). Bolton was not ordered to Nuke any hurricanes. And, of course, Alabama is not in ruins. 

But, you see, this is what happens when news that is generally bad is translated through language and cultural perception and foreign political sensitivities. It becomes worse. Conversely, when news that is good is translated through the same channels, it becomes better yet. Thus the common Indonesian affection for Barack Obama. Therefore, what strikes us at home as despicable about Donald Trump and his administration's policies becomes more despicable yet in foreign eyes. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019


Totally lazy day today, even for an expert, like me, at lazy days. I've outdone myself in something that didn't really need outdoing. Instead of going out for coffee and what not, I sat around watching the American political news, otherwise known as the Trump Comedy Hour, which, hopefully, will soon be cancelled, for it is a show that is increasingly outrageous, disheartening, and maddening. So why watch? Well, as I have theorized in the past, it may be because it is like witnessing a terrible motor vehicle accident. The site is chilling, gruesome, and yet one cannot look away. I think there is also the expectation, or the undying hope, that something significant will happen and the whole nightmare will soon be taken care of and washed away. 

The only thing I did, really, up to this point, was drive the short distance to my wife's villa to pick up some food she had for Takut the dog. The wife herself, who is actually no longer the wife, was not there, but in the city of Solo on the island of Java--thus the need for me to retrieve Takut's food while it was still fresh (although, to tell the truth, I doubt whether he cares how 'fresh' it is but only how quickly he can get it). 

That task done, I went back to watching the news, and then fell asleep. Such is my entertaining life in tropical paradise. And as far as that goes, the weather today feels far less than tropical (for which, in fact, I am thankful), being instead cloudy, windy, and a bit chilly. Something like autumn in Portland, actually. Deja vu. 

Something that used to annoy me about Indonesia and Indonesians, and which now, after eight years of acclimation, is only vaguely irritating, is the general habit people have of considering motorbikes, once parked and left behind whilst the owner shops or has coffee or goes to bed or whatever, to have become public property and useful as park benches, easy chairs, powder rooms, or what have you. I will often return from wherever I have been to find someone, or two or three someones, happily reclining on my bike or screwing the rearview mirrors around so that they can examine their skin or comb their hair. As I've said, there was at first the automatic American response of 'What the hell are you doing on my bike, dude?' Now, I find it only momentarily surprising, and actually tend to apologize for interrupting the occupant's rest--'Sorry, that's my bike. I have to go now.' On one occasion, I returned to the bike to find a policeman sitting on it. My immediate thought, predictably enough, or Americanly enough, was  'Oh boy, now I'm gonna get a ticket for something or other. Am I parked improperly? Are my plates expired?' But no, the officer was just chilling, kicking back, and the most convenient place to do so was on the seat of my bike.  

Ah. Well, then, I guess it really is okay. 

Other than this, Takut the dog once again finds himself accused by one of the villa occupants of being ill. 

"No, I don't think he's ill," I answer. "He's just ugly. And old."

"Yes, he is ugly. But he's okay here, as long as he doesn't bother anyone."

"Yes, he's a pretty quiet dog. Hardly ever barks. By the way, he's not my dog, you know?"

"Oh? But I always see him on your porch."

"Yes, he often hangs out here, but he's not my dog. I don't know whose dog he is. He was here already when I moved here." 


"Yes. He used to live on the back patio under the patio floor. He just figured out over time that I was dog-friendly and had food to give him."

"And does he come inside?"

"Well yes. He often sleeps inside, when he's not sleeping on the porch." 

"On your bed?" she asks, aghast. 

"Oh Lord no. The dog has bugs! Kutu-kutu."


"Yeah. Eww."

"But he's okay. As long as he doesn't have rabies."

"Well, if you see him foaming at the mouth or biting people, let me know, okay?"

Poor Takut. He can't help his appearance. Or his bugs. And he's not foaming at the mouth or anything like that. Really, he's a pretty nice dog. He just needs a friend or two.  

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

It, Chapter 2

Last night I watched It, Chapter Two, the second part of the new film adaptation of the Stephen King novel of the same title. As in the novel, chapter 2 (or part 2) concerns the encore struggle of a close knit group of childhood friends, the Losers, minus one, with the very embodiment of evil, appearing most often as the especially creepy clown known only as It to the group, although It can, and does, appear as anything he, or rather It, pleases. 

I found Chapter 2 far more compelling, and far more chilling, than Chapter 1. There are some truly shivery, hair-on-end scenes here, and moreover, to my mind anyway, the childhood friends interact far more naturally and convincingly as adults.

I had read a review previous to watching the film wherein King's familiar problem with writing himself into a corner and straining to come up with a satisfying ending was addressed, and the film praised for manufacturing a better one than the novel had managed. I do agree that the film's ending, alternate to the sappy one King chose in the book, is superior. Still, it did not succeed in wrapping up the essential quandary presented in the novel--how, indeed, is pure evil in the world to be overcome? But I reckon that's forgivable, given that it is, after all, a quandary that has haunted mankind for as long as mankind has existed. 

Nonetheless, Chapter 2 succeeded pretty well in conveying the enormity of dread faced by the friends, and by the world at large, and in the saving courage of community, the awesome strength of true camaraderie. 

Two Rotten Peas in a Pod

Well, here is quite a pair--Donald Trump and Jerry Falwell--as described in a new article from Politico, the first paragraph of which reads as follows: 

"More than two dozen current and former Liberty University officials describe a culture of fear and self-dealing at the largest Christian college in the world." 

Sound familiar? I guess this shit is catching (and has been for a long time). It is a general misuse of religious and government institutions in a naked quest for unbridled power and self-enrichment.

"When he (Falwell) does stupid stuff, people will mention it to others they consider confidants … but they won't rat him out.

"That's beginning to change."

Well, Hallelujah, it's about time, right?"

Here is a case of emoluments on the religious front. "Falwell presides," the writer explains, according to the testimony of a number of Liberty officials, "over a culture of self-dealing, directing university resources into projects and real estate deals in which his friends and family have stood to make personal financial gains."

Again, sound familiar? Trump resorts and golf courses, anyone?

"Fear is probably his most powerful weapon," a senior official told Politico

"We're talking about the difference between right and wrong," another high ranking official said. "Not even being a 'Christian', but being a good person, versus people who manipulate the system."

It is high time for both Donald and Jerry to be ratted out by 'good people', people who have faith in the ideals of the United State of America, and people who have faith in the ideals of Christianity. And the good news is that it is happening now, one courageous voice at a time. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Indos and Indians

We who are foreigners in Indonesia, or in any foreign land for that matter, tend to forget that what is perfectly familiar to us from the viewpoint of our native culture is often perfectly foreign to Indonesians. 

It happened that an online friend asked yesterday "What does it mean if someone says he is a "Native American? Asli? He is originally from America? Like you?"

"No, it means that he is an Indian. An American Indian, not an Indian Indian."

"Oh! So why does he say 'Native American'?

"Because we don't say Indian anymore."

"Oh? But if you are originally from America, aren't you a native American?"

"No, only Indians are Native Americans. The rest of us are immigrants." 

"Oh? Wow! So where do you originally come from?"

"Umm … America. But, you see, my ancestors came from England, whereas the Native Americans' ancestors came from America. I mean, they didn't come from America. They were already in America. That is, before America was America."

I realize that I'm beginning to suggest now that America started out being India. 

"Okay. The Native Americans are the Indians."

"Yes. But Indian is politically incorrect. Now we say 'Native American' because they're not really Indians at all. It's like black and African-American as opposed to 'Negro'. 

"Are they the same? Black and African-American?"

"Yes. The same as 'Negro', but we don't say Negro."

You see, it gets complicated. And I had just made it more complicated yet. 

All this reminds me of a question posed by my friend Adi. We were having coffee together. He had been listening to a rap song, when he suddenly asked "What does it mean, 'Ma Nigga?"

"Hah? It means, Adi, that you never, ever say 
'Ma Nigga'."

The 'why' of the thing is perfectly clear in the American mind, requiring no lengthy explanation. It is quite something else for the Indonesian, and nearly inexpressible when struggling to explain it all in a foreign tongue.  

Monday, September 9, 2019

A Short Stroll

As I come out on the far end of my long illness, I find among other things that my legs no longer function normally. Well, let me amend that. They haven't functioned normally for some years now, but I have found that they are functioning more abnormally yet than previously.

My plan this morning was to get out and do a sort of walking/photo taking tour of part of Sanur--not the beachfront, as would be more typical, but the street-side business district. Downtown, so to speak. This includes essentially the length of Jalan Danau Tamblingan, onto Jalan Danau Poso, and thence back to the highway, otherwise known as the Bypass. Why? Because it bypasses the town proper of Sanur. 

As it turned out, however, I was able to walk only a short distance, from my parking spot opposite the Starbucks down to the Circle K store--a distance of perhaps three city blocks. Not what I had in mind. Plus, I took only one photo as I rested at the Circle K with a yogurt drink. 

The legs feel quite weak and quickly cease to adopt a normal gait, the feet clumsy and uncertain. This soon becomes not a pleasant tour but a worrisome unsureness of whether I will be able to make it back to my bike without embarrassing myself or suddenly sitting down in the middle of traffic. Making things more difficult was the fact that the day, though the hour was only 10 am, was unusually hot. So much for the pleasant summer weather we have lately been enjoying.

So what to do? Do the muscles simply need exercising, strengthening? Could be. But then what the hell happened to the balance? 

I find as well that I am very easily fatigued. In fact, I wake up fatigued after a solid eight hours of sleep. I will get up, watch a bit of the news, eat breakfast, get dressed, and then straightaway want to go back to sleep--and very often do so. I will also often fall asleep after coming home from coffee--a deep, dead, sudden sleep that seems to leave the body and brain waterlogged.  What's up with that? 

Anyway, I think I'll go with a plan to push myself to exercise more and try to re-strengthen a bit. Hope it doesn't make me sick again! 

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Life and Death

Someone I know once commented that what was clear to him when it comes to the subject of religion is that this is something that is embraced by people who are essentially suffering from a fear of death. Because these folks cannot face the idea of extinction, he surmised, they choose to believe in a fairytale notion of heaven and eternal life and seek to surround themselves with people and a belief system serving to constantly validate their hope. 

But as comparative religion scholar Karen Armstrong among countless others has pointed out, religion collectively is much more about life in this world--the life of the individual and the life of the planet and all its peoples than about an afterlife that can only be vaguely visualized or imagined. Religion is the spiritual foundation that truly enlivens now, not at some time in the future. 

It seems to me that if there is fear regarding death, it resides in he who invests his belief in nothing, an unavoidable abyss, an inescapable end. How bleak, and how frightening. These clutch at the only straws available to them. Medical science, for instance, must continue to push the length of life expectancy with new medicines, new treatments, new organ transplants. Why, even brains may be transplanted one day (although one cannot help but wonder whose brain he would be thinking with from that time forward). People may one day be frozen, like freeze-dried coffee, and reconstituted at some future date when death had become scientifically conquered. Another popular idea is that the essential person, which would seem to be contained in the brain alone, will be downloaded into a cyber eternity such that the person will continue, his comprehensive being captured in a program (God forbid that the program should crash).

These, as it seems to me, are the desperate manifestations of fear, and are really no more than clumsy substitutes for the simple assurance of religion. 

It was Blaise Pascal who pointed out that human beings make a basic wager with their lives--that either God exists or does not. The rational person, he argues, will live as though God exists and seek a knowledge of God within himself and in his actions. If, as it turns out, God does not exist, the believer will merely have been wrong (as well as dead), whereas he, by believing, will have invested in infinite gains--that is, eternal life--and avoided infinite loss--that is, extinction according to his own belief. 

How much more pleasant it must be to face death in the anticipation of new light than with the expectation of nothing at all.

Saturday, September 7, 2019


I see a cartoon this morning which in the top panel depicts a bloated, Mussolini-like Trump posing the question "Who's going to pay for the wall?", and in the bottom panel a delirious stadium full of supporters shouting "Military families!" 

Like most Trump comics, this is more sickening than it is funny. And it's not really even a joke. It is merely a depiction of the reality we have all seen over and over again. 

They voted for him because he promised to build a beautiful, albeit ludicrous wall on the US-Mexican border which would keep out not only rapists, killers, and drug dealers but also just plain old brown people, men, women, and children, all of whom were entering the country through a handful of legal ports of entry in any case. And yes, Mexico, for some reason which apparently only those voters understood, would pay the tab.

They voted for him because he would be a champion of the military. He has championed it to the extent that extra millions have been devoted to building overstocks of weapons we don't need, while robbing military families of money previously appropriated for their welfare in order to pay for the wall that Mexico was paying for--in other words, to pay for it out of the taxpayers' pocketbooks.

They voted for him because he would represent the common man with tax breaks and such-like. To be sure, he has provided tax breaks in the billions--to corporations and to the top one percent. 

They voted for him because he was 'strong' and would be respected and feared around the world. Instead, he is an easily manipulated dupe for our enemies and alternately laughed at and ignored by our friends. 

And so on and so forth. 

No, the comic is not funny. What's funny is that his supporters, his faithful basket of deplorables, will continue to shout their affirmation no matter what the man says or does. That is funny, in the sense that it is odd, perplexing, unbelievable, pathological. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019


I read an article on Facebook this morning by a certain Baptist minister, whose name I have now forgotten, and of course I cannot find the article again (you all know how it goes on Facebook). But anyway, the article concerned his increasing embarrassment at being a Christian, given the distinctly non-Christian character of the modern Protestant church, most especially the evangelicals, of which he of course, as a Baptist, is one. The man is the son of a pastor and became a pastor himself, and has become now keenly discouraged by the shallowness, the hate, the divisiveness, the intolerance that he sees. Not Christianity at all. 

Well, I feel him. I certainly do. And embarrassment, I think, is insufficient to describe the feeling. Ashamed, appalled, outraged, angry, heartbroken, disgusted--some word embracing all of those would do. In short, when the church sounds more like Donald Trump than like Jesus Christ, we have a problem, Houston. 

For me, it has been a long while since I attended any church at all, such that I have kind of missed out, thankfully, on a personal experience of the general apostasy, but of course one sees it all the time on Facebook and hears it from loud-mouthed popular "representatives", who seem to be in competition with one another over just how misguided they can be. I read books--the classic theologians of the early centuries, contemporary philosophers and commentators who have taken up the sober and reliable examination of the Word, and I learn, and grow, but still I will sometimes miss the fellowship of the body, communal worship, the companionship of sharing in the love of Christ. Song. Of course, one can sing by himself, but one voice is very clearly different than one hundred in unison. But the price of conformity to a spirit so clearly non-Christian is far too high. 

At the same time, it seems safe to say that the infection is confined, so far, to the charismatic/evangelical churches. The rot can certainly be avoided by sticking to an orthodox church of one sort or another. These may lack the joy that typified my own young experience in a Pentecostal church, and yet, given apparent views of many 'spirit-filled' faiths, I'm not sure what 'the joy' is about. It's certainly not about Christ and The Way. 

I appreciate that this pastor has spoken out, and no doubt does so where his flock is concerned as well. We need more of this. Much, much more. As with the current political miasma, people of integrity and good heart need to stand up and say "Enough!"

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Town Crier

Takut the dog began for some reason to bark this morning. It is the first time I have heard Takut say anything whatsoever. And it was a definite, full-throated bark--the sort that might frighten people who do not know him. The thing is, I could see nothing whatever to bark at. His gaze seemed fixed on the porch of the apartment just across the way from mine, but it was clear that there was no one on the porch, either human or animal. Still, he continued to stare and bark. I went over to investigate, and, just as I had already thought, nothing was there--not only no creature, but no movement of any sort that might perhaps be caused by the wind or the slant of the sun. One always wonders in such cases whether dogs are seeing things invisible to our eyes--unworldly creatures or ghosts or demons or some sort of extradimensional beings. Or is Takut the dog simply going crazy, delusional, hallucinating? But that seems unlikely. He has always been, in the six months I have known him, a dog of reliably sober nature. In any case, I am hoping that he does not become enamored with the sound of his new found voice, for he exists in the apartment complex according to the unspoken concession of those who live here, which, I suspect, may be dependent upon keeping a low profile presence. Shouting out an alarm at 6 o'clock in the morning seems unlikely to go over well.

The Story

This is our home. This is our story. The earth. The world. Mankind. Outside of this there is no imaginable this. There are inventive mental alternatives to this, other worlds, other histories, other creatures, yet all these are still part of this--life and the idea of life. There is no other point of reference. We both observe the story and take part in the story. We critique the story in which we move and have our being. We teach ourselves the particulars of the story to the extent to which our curiosity takes us. We simply cannot conceive of there being no story, even as we are gradually smudged away. We think not of the end, nor of what non-existence must be like, but of what comes next. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Christ the Heart of Creation

"In this wide-ranging book, Rowan Williams argues that what we say about Jesus Christ is key to understanding what Christian belief says about creator and creation overall ..."
(Book jacket)

Here's a wonderfully tedious, can't-see-the-forest-for-the-trees treatise for readers who are more fond of comprehending scripture than of thumping it, and also for the instruction of those who are more fond of curt dismissals than of actually educating themselves on the subject. 

For my own part, I love this stuff--sort of in the way that a self-flagellant must love the pain that he inflicts upon himself. As with the writings of Aquinas, one lets himself in for a grinding, scraping, stopping and starting, bare-kneed crawl through page after page of intellectual thickets spread out in prose as sharp as nails.

And nothing feels so pleasant as later inflicting the same upon arrogant naysayers who laugh off scripture as child's play from an ignorant ancient time, fairytales and simplicities which they challenge you to defend against the lofty clarity of the secular mind of reason. "Prove your case about God and the Bible," they will say. 

"Ah, well, take a look at this by Rowen Williams and refute it. Then I will concede defeat." 

Generally, if the person actually does accept the challenge, I will not hear from him again--for he will have found that he never even got within a glimpse of the goal of refutation, for he will in fact have understood nothing whatsoever of what he had read. 

Hmm … maybe there is something to this Christianity after all? 

Monday, September 2, 2019

Music or Madness?

There seems to be a plot afoot at the Renon Plaza Starbucks to drive patrons crazy with the endless repetition of a series of particularly insipid musical numbers, played day in and day out in the exact same order and at inappropriately high volume, though I cannot begin to guess at why such a mad plan would be suitable to management. Some malicious scheme at the highest level? Each of the numbers has in common a mind searing monotony, like the sound of a ticking clock, an invasive sort of dopiness seemingly designed to mar the soul itself like a mark that cannot after be buffed away. 

This is the song that has no end
it just goes on and on my friend
Some people started singing it
not knowing wat it was
and they'll continue singing it
forever just because
This is the song that has no end … 

I can remember more pleasant days when one was only vaguely aware of music playing in the background, music that seemed carefully chosen as soothing, non-interruptive, relaxed. Sinatra music, for instance, softly crooning, or some instrumental number, a baroque piece or a classical, Eine Kliene Nachtmusik. 

Ah, the good old days. 

Sunday, September 1, 2019

The Realm of Possibilities

It strikes me that life here in my twilight years could be quite pleasant. It is certainly well within the realm of possibilities. What more pleasant picture, after all, than that of time slipping away on soft sunset tides under the gentle caress of the tropical breeze and the swaying of coconut trees? Throw in a few rhythmic honey-skinned beauties doing hula sorts of dances on the sand, some cool tropical fruit drinks, a chaise lounge, a swimsuit, a book to read. What else would one need? 

But there's the catch. It's that pesky realm of possibilities; for, by definition, the realm includes both the picture painted above as well as many distinctly less pleasant ones. As it is, I am beginning to feel embarrassed by my inability to live up to the basic human obligation to feel fine at least some of the time. Answering that one is not well is reasonable enough on fairly rare occasion, but having to answer the same as a matter of course is a decidedly dreary thing, not only for oneself but for those who must hear it. 

Yesterday evening, a couple of nice young women who live in the apartment complex asked whether I would like to accompany them out to 'the night market', where they would eat and stroll, browse and chat, and whatever else nice young women do on these outings. Now I ask you, how many invitations does one get to while away the evening hours in the exclusive company of two strikingly beautiful young women?

My answer? 

"No. I can't. I'm not feeling well."

'Good Lord', I thought, watching them skip away arm-in-arm, 'someone give me a cyanide tablet.' 

Could I have gone anyway, had as much fun as possible? No, I couldn't. Not without taking the toilet with me. 

How bleak it is to really, truly mean 'I can't' when one says 'I can't'. 

I begin to hide now when I see people coming, ducking behind the drapes, slipping inside from an exposed position on the porch, lest they pose the dreaded question once again. How are you? 

Perhaps eventually they will learn to avoid me altogether. In fact, I am quite sure that they will.