“Great” Britain: Satan of the North Sea

Some months ago, I posted my simple plan for swift and decisive military action against our “neighbors” to the North, that deplorable hell hole known as Canada.  As I expected, neither of our feckless presidential candidates dared to cross the amoral overlords of that frozen wasteland.  Sure, I might have had a visit from the Department of Homeland Security, but they were no more interested in my carefully crafted strategy than your average mush-dog driving Canuck.  After they tasered me a couple of times, I dropped the subject.

Why does no one take me seriously?  How can right-thinking Americans simply sit back and await the inevitable decay and destruction of our great country?  I’ve thought a lot about this, and I have the answer.  Canada is merely a pawn, a Trojan Horse if you will.  The REAL danger lies far to the East in Jolly Old England.  Our old oppressors and so-called allies pull the strings.

That’s right–England (if that’s what it really is).  Is it England?  Or Britain?  Or GREAT Britain?  What the hell is the United Kingdom?  The Commonwealth of Nations?  They have a staggering number of names for the place.  What’s in the United Kingdom?   England and Northern Ireland, I guess.  What about Scotland?  I think so, although I’ve seen Braveheart a bunch of times, and I’d cut those violent, skirt-wearing, bagpipe-playing loonies a wide path.  Wales?  I guess so.  My ancestors came from Wales, and I’ve never heard anything about it being a country.  Then again, I don’t pay much attention to current events.  Maybe it is a country. How the hell should I know?  I know Northern Ireland is part of it because they used to blow up a lot of stuff.  What about Canada?  I have no idea, but it seems like they are part of the same Axis of Evil.  I’m pretty sure Australia isn’t part it, because that’s where England dumped all their convicts, at least the ones that didn’t end up in America.

Their government is sketchy, to say the least.  Have you ever watch Parliament on CSPAN?  It consists of people standing up and flipping through notebooks while exchanging insults.  I’m torn between thinking it is the ultimate democracy or a Monty Python skit.

So, I suppose England is part of the UK which is a collection of countries.  Sounds like Communism to me.  That alone should make them our enemy.  But there are other equally compelling reasons to take Draconian measures against this “nation.”


I know, the war is over.  Really?  What makes you so sure?  The Treaty of Paris was supposed to take care of that, but allow me to point out something that the mainstream media conveniently ignores.  King George III was well-known to be totally insane.  As such, I question his competency to agree to anything (there’s a little lawyering for you, free of charge).  Any day, those Brits can back up on that deal and start trying to tax us to death again.  (One small upside is that The Tea Party’s name will then make a little sense).  I say strike first and put an end to the war once and for all.


Americans love the Royals, you say.  So what?  We have a perverted fascination with celebrities, especially those famous for only being famous.  Each generation has its vacuous icons from Zsa Zsa Gabor to Paris Hilton to Honey Boo Boo.  This fundamental flaw in our national character does not justify royalty.

There is a QUEEN of England.  Think about that.  A Queen and bunch of princes and princesses, Dukes, Earls and whatnot.  Why?  No one knows.  The Queen isn’t really in charge of anything.  She’s just the Queen.  Check out her official title:

Her Majesty Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and of Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith

Wow.  Is it really much different than Idi Amin’s title?

His Excellency, President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin Dada, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Seas and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular and the Last King of Scotland.

Actually, Elizabeth is the Queen of Scotland, I think.  Do you know her name?  Elizabeth Windsor.  That’s a damn nice name–but not as nice as being a QUEEN, I guess–but it sounds like a name a pretty girl would have.


HA! HA! We laugh at you commoners!

I’m not suggesting anything bad happen to the Royal Family.  I’m not French, for God’s sake.  It’s just a bit of silliness that we can do without.  There are many “royal” families, but you don’t see us falling all over ourselves over King Michael of Romania or Ahmad Shah Khan, Crown Prince of Afghanistan.

Once we take over, the Royals can be American celebrities.  Instead of being exalted as better than the rest of us, they can have reality TV shows like our other celebs

  • Will, Kate and Kate Plus 8:  Hilarity ensues when Will and Kate inexplicably move in with Kate Gosselin.
  • The Amish Royal:  Prince Harry lives the life of an Amish man on a farm in Central Ohio.
  • Toddlers and Tiaras–The Royal Addition:  Elizabeth is hired to coach Honey Boo Boo for her many pageant appearances.  Plus, she moves in with the family, forcing her to fight off the unwanted advances of Sugar Bear.
  • Princess Anne–Bigfoot Hunter:  The title is self-explanatory.

These are just a few of the ideas that immediately come to mind.  The Royals will provide us an endless supply of entertainment.


What do the American Revolutionary War, The War of 1812, World War I and World War II have in common?  The British forced us into all of them.  Okay, I’m not sure about the War of 1812, but I think that’s right.  On the other three, I’m dead certain.

In both World Wars, we were forced to save their asses from the Germans.  If it weren’t for us, they’d be goose-stepping in front of Buckingham Palace right now.  Arguably, the Japanese forced us into WWII, but why do you think we were in Europe?  To save France?  Don’t make me laugh.  England.  Plain and simple.

Now, check out this little bit of history:

  1. Germany tries to take over the world.
  2. England starts getting its ass kicked.
  3. USA jumps into WWI.
  4. German ass is kicked.
  5. Germany is torn apart
  6. Germany becomes a democracy.
  7. Germany becomes a bunch of Nazis.
  8. Germany tries to take over the world.
  9. England starts getting its ass kicked
  10. USA jumps into WWII
  11. Germany gets its ass kicked.
  12. Germany gets torn apart again.
  13. Germany becomes a democracy again.
  14. ???????

Do you see a pattern here? Hopefully, they’ll skip the Nazi thing this time, but it’s clear that the Germans will try to take over the world again.  Then, we’re right back in another war.  How is this England’s fault, you ask? It is obvious that they are particularly offensive to Germans and an inviting target as well.  But, imagine if they were part of the old US of A?  We are the most powerful warriors the planet has ever seen!  The Germans will stay right where they are, except maybe for overrunning France.  Again, who cares?


England has to have nuclear weapons, doesn’t it?  Indian and Pakistan do, so England has to.  I’ll just assume that’s correct.  Imagine if those weapons fell into the hands of the Scots with their fiery temperaments and willingness do battle.  How about Northern Ireland?  Violent drunks–good lord.  Is there any other country full of such unstable sorts that we would allow to have WMD (other than us, of course)?  We take over and seize all the weapons.  The world will be safer for it.  I expect at least one Nobel Peace Prize for this idea alone.


The pure silliness of the Brits is enough to justify military action.  Their penchant for monocles, top hats and tailcoats.  Their odd money–pounds, pence, quids and guineas.  But, it’s their language which reduces them to little more than a sideshow.  Consider that they say–and understand–the following:

  • I attend University.
  • I am going on holiday.
  • I am queued up.
  • I say, old man, where is the wash closet?
  • I’ve stored that in my boot.
  • My lorry needs petrol.
  • I’m cheesed off at your cockup!
  • He’s a beastly bugger–a bit of an arse.
  • I enjoy a fag with my tea.
  • She’s such a jammy bird, why is she with that josser?
  • Don’t give me any of your cheek, you git!

To their credit, their accents make them sound smart, at least until some of that nonsense starts pouring out.  If you’re Scottish or Irish, you have the added disadvantage of also being incomprehensible.


You may think conquering England, Britain, Great Britain, The United Kingdom and The Commonwealth of Nations is a daunting task.  I think not.  I’m sure our military leaders have already planned out a takeover “just in case.”  If not, I have devised a simple strategy to crush them.  Here is my plan:

  1. We establish a beach head in Southern Ireland with the cooperation of our Irish friends whom we will ply with strong drink.
  2. We will proceed on land across Ireland.  Those who are not dead drunk after that march will stage an attack on Northern Ireland.
  3. We will roll through Northern Ireland chanting anti-British slogans lulling them into inaction.  Northern Ireland will then serve as our base of operations.
  4. Simultaneously, we will invade Wales.  I can’t imagine they have a military.
  5. Once the Scots get wind of our invasion, they will rise up again, paint their faces blue and attack England from the north.  Just to be safe, once the war is over, we’ll build a huge peat wall to keep them at bay.
  6. Once hemmed in, the Brits will surrender realizing that no Americans are available to save them.
  7. Scotland and England will be combined into one land–Fabulous America.
  8. Northern Ireland will become a penal colony for political dissidents.
  9. As my ancestral homeland, I will grant Wales its independence but only as a puppet state.  One condition–Tom Jones has to be named President.
  10. Crest White Strips will be distributed throughout the country by air drop, thus winning the hearts of the people.

Wales President-for-Life Tom Jones

Bye, bye “Great” Britain.  Hello, Fabulous America!  With their overlords crushed, those hockey-playing Canadian goons will be vanquished to the scrap heap of history.  What then?

This map shows the proposed invasion route and how the UK will look after it is liberated.

I suppose every group of savages has its redeeming qualities.  The same is true of the British.  Their humor is excellent.  Monty Python, Marty Feldman, Harry Enfield and Benny Hill are just a few of their entertaining sorts.  Certainly, their music has been fine with The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Bon Scott and Led Zeppelin.  We’ll preserve some of that.

bon scott

This statue of Bon Scott isn’t even in Scotland. It’s in Australia. I’ll fix that.

Beyond those few attributes, the rest of their culture will be wiped out.  No more bangers and mash.  Beer will be served cold–not luke warm.  French fries are French fries–not chips.  They’ll eat cookies, not biscuits.  Iced tea will be iced.  Football is football, not soccer.  Quit boiling all your food.  Drive on the correct side of the road.  Our cops aren’t called bobbies, and they carry guns.  Everyone else does, too, so get armed, and Bob’s your uncle!

In this new world, the USA is supreme, if it isn’t already.  France will reflexively surrender (old habits die hard, you know).  Canada will fall without even a whimper.  And that, old chap, will be jolly good. Now, bugger off.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

5 Ridiculous Things: A Random List

The older I get, the more I hear the same stuff over and over and over.  I guess that’s true of everyone.  What may not be true of everyone is that I don’t repeat this tripe, except to the extent that I make up my own stuff and spread it.

This is largely a phenomenon of the Internet meme.  A meme is an idea or thought which spreads from person to person.  It’s kind of like “word of mouth.”  The Internet has taken this to new level by giving us each access to many more people than would otherwise be available to hear our raving.  For example, this silly blog has been read by thousands of people in dozens of countries.  Why?  Because it’s on the Internet.

The Internet, via social media in particular, allows us to spread rumors and half-truths at the speed of light or at least very fast.  There is so much of this that we have websites such as snopes.com devoted to debunking these myths.  It’s only natural that Snopes must even debunk rumors about Snopes.

I’m now prepared to debunk a handful or particularly irksome thoughts, ideas, etc.  Why?  Because I’m on the Internet, by God.

As always, I offer my view only.  It may be incorrect. You may disagree.  If you do, I respect your right to disagree.  You have the right to be wrong.  I won’t infringe on that.

Below are a few things I’ve heard too much about which simply aren’t true.  Believe them if you wish, but I don’t.  For our purposes here, that’s all that matters.

Here are just five that I don’t buy into.  Sorry, but that’s how it is.  They were chosen at random for no particular reason.


Ever heard something like this:  Why don’t we treat the elderly like we do prisoners–free room and board; watch TV all day; exercise; and free medical/dental?  This outrage is based upon the notion that prison is great.  It’s great treatment and a wonderful life.  Prison, the thought goes, is too soft.

If you believe this, it’s safe to assume that you’ve never been in prison or talked to anyone who has been.  I’ve known a bunch of people who’ve been in prison.  They are universal on one opinion:  IT SUCKS!  I know a guy who spent three years in a minimum security prison on an Air Force base, one of the so-called “country club” prisons.  He said it was like “waking up in a nightmare every day.”

Here are few things that folks have told me about prison:

  • It’s filthy. No matter what you do, that doesn’t change.
  • You might be allowed to shower once or twice a week.
  • You use the bathroom out in the open.  That includes “major transactions,” too.
  • You are surrounded by violent, dangerous and often mentally ill people.  You live with them, eat with them and spend all the rest of your time with them.
  • Prisoners aren’t known for their fabulous teeth.  No citation of authority is necessary.
  • The free health care consists of seeing a doctor if you are clearly deathly ill (or dead) or if you have been grievously injured by one of your fellow prisoners.
  • The great exercise program consists of hanging out with the same dangerous people, except now they have access to a variety of implements which can be used to kill you.
  • It smells.  Bad.  That’s a common theme from everyone I’ve heard.  It just smells bad.
  • The food is generally horrific.  If you really step out of line, some prisons serve you something called Nutriloaf.
Nutriloaf--One of the many joys of prison life

Nutriloaf–One of the many joys of prison life

Here’s the bottom line:  Prison is horrible.  It’s a nightmare.  I’ve never met any ex-con who speaks fondly of his days in stir nor I have met anyone who wanted to go back.  If it’s such a great life, I suggest you go. The good thing about prison is that it’s really easy to join.

Maybe you know an old person in a nursing home worse than prison.  If so, it’s hard to imagine, unless you put them there because you hate them (see my comments below about old people).  In that case, it’s good enough for them.

By the way, you know what would really suck?  Being old AND in prison.


Here’s one you’re bound to have heard:  Don’t buy beer or cigarettes or get tattoos or cars or TVs if you’re on welfare.  It’s similar to Michelle Bachmann’s suggestion that the best way to get health insurance is to get a job.  Literally, these statements may be true.  Literally, but not practically.

Perhaps it would be better for poor people not to drink beer or smoke.  That’s probably true for the rich, too,  Tattoos seem to be a generally bad idea to me.  Why not take it a step further and just say that poor people shouldn’t buy magazines or soda or toys for their kids or clothes, for that matter?

I have never been poor.  I wasn’t born poor.  I wasn’t raised poor.  I didn’t pull myself up by the bootstraps.  I don’t even know what bootstraps are.  I’m not a self-made man.  Yes, I am successful, at least by most definitions.  But, I had a lot of advantages–college-educated parents and a comfortable upbringing for two BIG examples.  So, I don’t know what it’s like to be poor.  Most of the people who bitch and moan about poor people also don’t know what it’s like to be poor.

I grew up with poor people.  Some of my friends were poor.  They had one thing in common–they didn’t like it, and were at least slightly embarrassed by it. In Eastern Kentucky, poverty wasn’t uncommon.  We were in a melting pot.  The rich, poor and middle class were all together.  We went to school and church together.  You could be like my family and live well but have neighbors who were poor by any definition.  We got to see it up close, and it’s ugly.

Ever wonder why a lot of poor people turn to drug-dealing?  Was it a life-long ambition?  Is it because they want to accomplish something in life?  Nope.  It’s for the money.  Being poor isn’t good, and most poor people agree.  Yes, there are exceptions, just as there are to every rule.  I’ve known people born into poverty who didn’t aspire to anything better.  What I have NEVER known is someone who wasn’t poor but aspired to be poor, because it is such a great life.


It seems that I’m always hearing about how great everyone’s parents are (were).  Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparents Day, etc.  On Facebook, there are innumerable posts requesting you to “like” them if your parents were saints or your best friends or fabulous.  Let’s be honest, some parents are awful.

Now, I had excellent parents.  They worked hard, cared about their kids and sacrificed a great deal for us.  I was LUCKY.  That’s it.  I didn’t choose them anymore than they chose me.  Someone recently told me that I’m wrong about that–that I was blessed to have good parents.  Perhaps.  But that begs the question:  If I did nothing to be so blessed, what did others do to be cursed with their parents? Nothing, you say?  Then, that sounds like luck–good and bad–to me.

I’ve known people whose parents beat them, ignored them or were just generally crappy to them their whole lives.  These are just horrible people who happened to achieve the none-too-impressive feat of procreation.  You know what these folks deserve for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day?  NOTHING.   As I’ve quoted before, my father once said:  “When I was young, we had plenty of elder abuse, except we called it ‘revenge.'”

So, if you had good parents, good for you, just don’t blow too much about it.  You didn’t have anything to do with it.  If you had rotten parents, it’s okay, too.  You didn’t make them that way.


I’ve written before about hating rich people, so I won’t belabor that.  At the heart of that hate is the belief that the rich are bad.  They aren’t, at least no more so than the rest of us.

Warren Buffett is rich.  Super-rich.  Billionaire-rich.  He once said: “Of the billionaires I’ve known, money just brings out the basic traits in them.  If they were jerks before they had money, they are simply jerks with a billion dollars.”  That makes sense.  Buffett doesn’t seem like to jerk to me.  Maybe he is, but it probably doesn’t have anything to do with having a silo full of money.

Let’s all accept one irrefutable fact:  We all want to be rich.  All of us.  If the rich are awful, then we all aspire to be awful.


It is a common refrain old people are a “treasure” or a “joy” or sources of “wisdom.”  If you were a miserable ass when you were young, there’s a pretty good chance that’s what you’ll be when you’re old.  Being a fool is likely to get worse with age, not better.  In fact, the older you are, the more people probably realize your true colors.  You just lived a long time.  Big whoop.  Charles Manson is 78.  Mozart died at 35.

Charles Manson, a wise and wonderful old fellow

Charles Manson, a wise and wonderful old fellow

Think about this:  Have you ever known an old person you couldn’t stand to be around?  Of course, you have.  He or she was probably a family member, too.  Some old people become mean with age.  Some were mean to start with and became old and mean.  Not all old people are cute or charming or wise.  Some are ugly, hateful and dumb asses.  It’s hard to outgrow those things.

Well, that’s five things that I have now stripped of their veneer of credibility.  Perhaps, you are an old, rich prisoner who aspires to a life of poverty.  As such, you might disagree with me.  Well, you’re wrong.  So much for your “wisdom,” Pops.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

Gunning For Answers

The gun control debate rages again, this time in the harsh light of the Newtown, Connecticut school on December 14, 2012. This shooting is the latest in a troubling series of such acts dating back to the 1997 Heath High School shooting in Paducah, Kentucky.

We have the predictable responses from those who want strict gun control to those who want none. After a week of silence, the venerable National Rifle Association weighed in with its views. As might be expected, the NRA does not view this as a gun control issue. It is, rather, a question of defending the public against homicidal gun owners whose minds have been warped by violent video games and the desire for media attention. To those at the other end of the spectrum it’s all about the guns.

As a lawyer, I prided myself on my ability to digest large volumes of information and distill it into easily understood concepts. In this instance, I’ve opted for a shallow understanding of the issues and flippant set of suggestions. Each, however, is based upon very real suggestions offered by each camp. Understand that I am not making light of the violence which brings these issues to the front now. Rather, it is my analysis of taking these suggestions to their logical (sort of) conclusion.


Few people actually advocate banning all guns or even handguns, but a few people do. Others do so by implication pointing to countries such as Japan as a model for gun control. Let’s just dispense with this one. The Second Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents it. End of story.


If by “assault” we mean “shooting humans,” we have a problem: THEY’RE ALL ASSAULT WEAPONS! Okay, not all of them, but most of them. Handguns, in particular, are made for human game. I know that some folks hunt with handguns. Not many. Gaston Glock designed the popular line of Glock handguns for shooting people. They are an engineering marvel. Lightweight, easily assembled, simple to use and low maintenance. Law enforcement loves them–and for good reason–they are great guns, but they are intended for human targets. That’s the purpose of handguns. Try hunting with a snub nosed .38. Unless you are planning execution-style kills, it won’t be much use in the wild. Stick it in a human’s ribs, though, and it’s damn effective.

If you only own a gun for self-defense, it’s an assault weapon. You only intend to use it to kill another human. If you like target practice, maybe it’s not–unless you use the popular targets that look like–you guessed it!–humans. In that case, you’re practicing for human-shooting should you ever have the opportunity. “Assault” weapon makes as much sense as “stabbing” sword.


There is a small (I hope), but vocal, contingent who see murderous attacks at our schools as a result of the lack of prayer in school. They ignore the fact that the Heath High School shooting in Kentucky, which has the dubious distinction of starting all this slaughter, took place in a prayer group. What was God’s point with that one?

I’ve heard that we prayed in school when I was a kid. I don’t remember any organized prayer, but I prayed. I prayed for each day to end, to never go back, etc. As far as invoking God’s hand as part of our curriculum, maybe we did. I just don’t remember it. Clearly, it made a strong impression on me.

Let’s just leave God out of this one. He gets blamed for too much stuff anyway.


This stuff includes items which technically aren’t guns. They are gun accessories. Large capacity magazines, types of ammo, body armor and other items are all on the table. This has some merit, but coming up with a comprehensive list is daunting. At the end of the day, there will be still be guns. Lots of them. By some counts, there are 270 million guns in American. That’s 9 for every 10 people. They can all be used for killing people and most are designed to do exactly that. Banning their accessories is like telling people they can’t eat with forks anymore. It may be inconvenient, but they’ll still eat.


This is the NRA’s position or, as NRA President Wayne LaPierre said: “The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun.” This isn’t exactly true. A grenade, flamethrower, pack of pit bulls, truck and knife in the back are a number of other ways to stop a bad guy, too. Even another bad guy with a gun can stop a bad guy with a gun. Of course, this only creates the problem of how to stop a really bad guy who can stop other bad guys.

Don’t count me among the folks who think the NRA is a cabal of evil thugs. In fact, I am a former NRA member. Former? I enjoyed reading Guns & Ammo Magazine, but I finally tired of the NRA’s lobbying efforts. Understand that this isn’t because I’m against gun ownership. I just thought they went too far on many occasions. That said, I know lots of fine folks who belong to the NRA.

Even the NRA’s staunchest allies know that the NRA’s position will always be more guns, not less. In other words, confront violence with violence. Some may consider this the same philosophy that seeks world peace through killing all one’s enemies. Nevertheless, it is a mistake to attempt to marginalize the NRA. It has a place at the table. In fact, its political power means that it may well own the table.

The NRA sees four causes of school shootings: 1. Lack of security at schools. 2. Violent video games 3. The media; and 4. Crazy people. The crazies are inspired by video games to seek fame through the media by attacking schools because the schools lack security. There is probably some validity to each of these points. The NRA hasn’t specified exactly what should be done but promises to enlist a vast cadre of law enforcement, military and concerned people to come up with something. We’ll see.

So, with all these ideas swirling about, what is the answer? I’m certainly not qualified to come up with a plan, but then again no one else is, either. With that in mind, here is my modest proposal:


Nothing sends Americans scurrying to the local gun store like the word “redistribution.” They imagine hunkering down with their personal arsenals to fight off jackbooted government thugs. These thugs will be roaming house to house to take away our hard-earned stuff and giving it all to people on welfare. I’m a free market guy and would never suggest such socialism.

No, I’m talking about redistribution of our weapons. With 270 million guns floating around, there’s no excuse for people not being armed. The problem–as with wealth–isn’t that there isn’t enough of it. It’s a matter of disproportionate distribution. For example, my father owned 12 guns. That means that there were 10 or 11 people without guns. He was in the gun 1%.

Here’s what we do. Gather up all the guns and distribute them among the public. Make sure everyone has his or her own. Even better, just by my typing this, gun sales will increase, and there will be even more guns to hand out. What if we’re still short? We’ll invoke Obamacare and create a Gun Mandate. If you don’t go buy one, we’ll tax your ass to death.

Once we’re all armed, the playing field will be level. Someone pulls a gun, and it’s the OK Corral. Let’s throw lead. Every man, woman and child will pack iron. Child? If these kids can learn how to use an iPad, a pistol is snap. Plus, real guns will pull them away from the dangers of video games. This is a win-win-win.


The NRA suggest that a national database of the mentally ill is needed. No, it’s not because they want a more comprehensive mailing list. They want to keep track of dangerous people. Predictably, this has been met with hoots of derision. Some believe that violating numerous federal laws and constitutionally protected privacy rights is too high a price to pay to protect the Second Amendment. Of course, the NRA disagrees. Hell, they’d trample the Third Amendment and quarter soldiers in our homes if meant we could keep our guns. But, the database (of “Loony Log,” as I call it) could work:

  • According to the National Institutes of Health, there is a dizzying array of mental illnesses and an almost uncountable number of related medications. Here’s the deal: If you take one of these, you’re on the list.
  • We can use Obamacare to help us tag other dangerous mental defectives. If you have seen a psychiatrist, psychologist, clinical social worker, clergyman or school guidance counselor, you’re on the list.
  • ADD, ADHD, schizophrenia, depression, bi-polar disorder, borderline personality disorder, autism, moodiness, PMS, anxiety, angst and prickliness all qualify. You’re on the list.
  • If you’re over 65 years old, there’s a good chance you’re not firing on all cylinders. You’re on the list.
  • If you dress funny, look weird or are just odd, you’re on the list.
  • If you’re not on the list, this means you are in a tiny minority. Clearly, there is something bad wrong with you. You’re on the list.

Once we’ve compiled the list, a crack team of retired police officers, soldiers, militia men and security guards will constantly monitor the list to track your every move. You may ask: Will this affect my ability to acquire a gun? Are you insane in addition to your mental illness? There’s nothing in the Second Amendment stripping the rights of crazy people. Strap down, my nutty friend.


This is my own idea, and I’ll confess that it’s a bit radical. It is a long-held belief that an armed citizenry keeps the government in check. If they come after us, we’ll fight them off with our guns. The problem–and it’s a really big one–is that they control the military. Now, I know many folks are quite skilled with guns, but this is a question of firepower. No army on Earth can even seriously oppose our military. I’m confident that a disorganized band of the mentally ill randomly firing handguns will fare poorly.

Better weaponry will allow us to even the odds in a civil war. An added bonus will be curbing crime through superior firepower. Imagine the second thoughts which will be caused by the prospect of facing down not only a general public armed to the teeth with guns but also of a grenade or flamethrower being whipped out. If your neighbor builds an unsightly fence on your property line, a little napalm will take care of it. We’ll bring all this foolishness to an end through the threat of mutual destruction.

If a good guy with a gun will stop a bad guy with one, a good guy with a LAW rocket will stop 20 of them. Of course, bad guys might have the same weapons. But, remember–most of these freaks are loners. They won’t be as organized as we are. Think scorched Earth.


My little diatribe above is all tongue in cheek, of course, but it were printed as an op-ed piece, I am sure that many folks would agree with parts of it. Honestly, is it any crazier than some of the ideas being floated now? If there is a point to any of this it is that these simple answers can create as many problems as they solve.

What is the real answer? Complex problems often require complex answers. Americans like simple answers. Ban guns. Arm school teachers. Pray. These public gun attacks (or “sprees,” as the press says) continue to occur even as crime rates, including violent crime, decline. It is a political, social and even moral issue. Unfortunately, we live in a time when compromise in any of those areas seems impossible.

I own guns and grew up around them. They don’t scare me nor do they give me any particular comfort. I know people who have been shot, including two family members. I also know people who have shot people. Sadly, I know far too many people who have taken their own lives with guns. I know they can easily and legally get into the hands of people who will wreak havoc with them. THAT is serious issue which should be addressed with all the urgency of the response to 9/11. We’re a bright people. We can explore answers that don’t require stripping rights or just admitting defeat.

The NRA, the anti-gun lobby, politicians and the public have common ground here. No one wants to read about mass killings at schools, malls, churches or anywhere else. Addressing that concern would seem to be in everyone’s interest.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

An Updated Review of Rain Man

In light of recent events, the media has focused on autism, particularly Asperger’s Syndrome. In the haste to break the latest “news,” accuracy has been sacrificed for speed. Asperger’s is being portrayed as an excuse for the inexcusable. In truth, the unspeakable crimes of recent days have nothing to do with this condition. This misinformation has made me wonder how one of my favorite films, Rain Man, would be viewed through today’s prism. If Rain Man were released today, I think the review would read like this:


Rain Man is the latest film from Barry Levinson, known for such diverse output as Diner, Good Morning Vietnam and The Natural. This time, he takes on the difficult subject of mental illness with decidedly mixed results. Dustin Hoffman is excellent in the role of Raymond Babbitt, a psychotic middle-aged man. Tom Cruise, best known for Risky Business and Top Gun, is Hoffman’s equal as Charlie, Raymond’s brother. Unfortunately, these stellar performances are weighted down by Levinson’s unrealistic take on a serious subject and a script best described as a work of pure fantasy.

Charlie is the Narcissistic son of the recently deceased Sanford Babbitt who leaves his $3,000,000 estate to a Cincinnati mental institution while Charlie receives only a vintage Buick Roadmaster and some prize rose bushes. Charlie immediately travels to the hospital to get to the bottom of his father’s inexplicable largesse. At the hospital, which is clearly a hospital for the criminally insane, Charlie discovers his long-lost brother Raymond. Raymond, he learns, has been in the hospital for many years. The horrific crime committed by Raymond is never fully explained.

Outraged that his father has left millions to care for his homicidal brother, Charlie kidnaps Raymond and sets out for Los Angeles. In a particularly disturbing scene where Raymond has a dangerous psychotic episode, Charlie decides not to fly to LA, no doubt realizing that Raymond poses a grave threat to the safety of the passengers. Thus, Charlie, his girl friend (the lovely Valeria Golino from Big Top Pee Wee) and the unhinged Raymond set out cross-country in Charlie’s Buick.

After a series of misadventures, Charlie learns that Raymond is an autistic savant with amazing abilities to recall dates and make complex mathematical calculations. During a chilling scene where Raymond flies into a rage of violent insanity, Charlie learns that Raymond was actually hospitalized for attempting to murder him when Charlie was an infant.

Early in the film, Levinson builds a tense story reminiscent of Psycho. Then, he loses his nerve and Rain Man becomes little more than a modern-day Road Movie where the audience must suspend disbelief for such diversions as a trip to Las Vegas. The thought that a shallow character like Charlie could keep a raging maniac like Raymond at bay is at best laughable. In one particularly inane scene, Raymond actually visits the home of complete strangers. Does he strangle the family or perhaps hack them to pieces, as the story to that point would dictate? No. He watches TV with them. Imagine Leatherface from Texas Chainsaw Massacre attending a church fish fry and you get the idea of the grotesque and inappropriate imagery.

By the end of the film, Levinson abandons any effort to bring realism to the film The penultimate scene involves a show down over the inheritance, pitting Charlie against the hospital. I won’t give away the ending other than to note that it was a crushing disappointment. Raymond, having been led across the country like a mad dog on a VERY short leash, sits passively while the action takes place around him. Just at the moment when logic and the story itself dictate a hail of gun fire, the directors cops out for saccharine sweet ending. I have no respect for film makers who won’t stay true to their own story. The only reason I don’t give away the ending is that it is so ridiculous no one would believe it. Just as Levinson did with The Natural–by tacking on a Hollywood ending and rendering his source material unrecognizable–he does the same here turning homicidal psychopathy into little more than a series of parlor tricks.

Every so often, a director has a chance to explore the inner workings of the mind of a psychotic without exploiting the story (Richard Brooks’ In Cold Blood). Rather than take that bold leap, Levinson settles for a cheap story of a lovable misanthrope played for laughs and manipulated for false sentimentality. It’s a shame that Hoffman’s and Cruise’s fine performances end up obliterated by the nonsense of the story.

Not since Hogan’s Heroes treated Nazism as sitcom material has the public been subjected to such baffling artistic judgment. Levinson has made fine films and may well do so again. If Rain Man interests you, I suggest you search for a copy of the Jerry Lewis’s lost classic, The Day The Clown Cried, about a clown in a Nazi concentration camp. I guarantee it is more believable.

Unfortunately, today’s news is just as inane and inaccurate as this review.
©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

The Wonderful World of My Mother

I have written here before about my Dad. Twice in fact. He was an interesting, quotable character and a fine, fine fellow. Great father, too. I haven’t yet written about my mother. Until now.

Why not? It’s not because she wasn’t a fine person. She was. Certainly, it’s not because she wasn’t a great mother. Of that, there is no doubt. The reason, I think, is because–unlike Dad–she is difficult to capture in words. But I’ll try.

Mom died in 2003. Her life was probably unremarkable by most standards. She was born on January 19, 1930 in Detroit. (Coincidentally, my father shared the same birthday, being born in 1925). Her parents were in Michigan, because my Papaw was looking for work. Shortly after her birth, they moved back to Eastern Kentucky. She grew on Island Creek in Pike County and in Cumberland in Harlan County. She graduated from Cumberland High School and then Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tennessee in 1951. After a year of student teaching at Benham High School, she taught at Evarts High School in Harlan County for the next 30 years. She was a Home Economics teacher. She married my Dad in 1957, and they stayed married until her death. They had three sons, of which I am the middle one.

Mom in 1945 in Cumberland, Kentucky

Mom in 1946 in Cumberland, Kentucky

She had a brilliant mind. After her retirement, she became something of an expert on investing and taxes. She was my primary financial advisor. If my Dad was the engine that drove our family, Mom was the brains of the outfit.

She survived breast cancer and the resultant toxic chemotherapy, although she suffered neurological damage from the treatment which left her with a bizarre set of symptoms for the remaining 20 years of her life. She also weathered the death of her youngest son. Overall, she had a life like most folks–ups and downs, good time and bad times.

A rare photo of Mom with all three sons.  Your author is on the right.  Note my dutiful older brother holding the purse and bottle.

A rare photo of Mom with all three sons. Your author is on the right. Note my dutiful older brother holding the purse and bottle.

She was, by turns, funny and sad; inspiring and discouraging. She could make me angry enough to yell at her (which I would NEVER have done with Dad) and the next moment be kind and thoughtful. She was generous and genuinely tried to let me know that she cared. She probably wasn’t different from a lot of mothers in that regard.

What made her different, at least to me, were the things she said, the stories she told and the myriad eccentricities to which we all became accustomed. To give you a better picture, I’ve decided to share some of those:


Like most mothers, Mom had a vast library of cautionary tales which were repeated over and over and over…. Here are some of the classics:

Poor Cousin Stubby: Around the 4th of July, I would hear about Mom’s cousin, who lived in Chicago at some time in the distant past. He was just called her “cousin.” If he had a name, I’ve long since forgotten it. Cousin had a penchant for setting off dangerous fireworks. One year, he set off some particularly deadly explosive and “BLEW HIS FINGERS OFF.” That’s how it was always described to me. Not one finger, mind you (which still seems unlikely, unless he was playing with blasting caps). In my child’s mind, this meant every, single, damn finger. My little mind imagined Cousin fumbling about for the rest of his life with his stubs–all because of fireworks. Some years later, a short-fused firecracker went off in my hand. Other than making my ears ring and slightly burning me, it was no big deal. Oddly, I was a little disappointed at the lack of maiming. Just a little.

I actually did have a cousin who cut off his finger in a door. He was never presented as any kind of example. He was just an idiot.

The Medicine Cabinet Moron: We lived in a house with an old-fashioned bathroom. It had a steel tub and steel sink with a medicine cabinet over it. The toilet probably used about 10 gallons of water per flush. As a lad, I would climb onto the sink to access the medicine cabinet. This was, as Mom taught me, one of the most dangerous stunts a child could pull.

It seems there was a boy in an unspecified part of the world who also liked to climb on sinks. Coincidentally, he was about my age at the time. Sadly, he lacked my sure-footedness and fell while reaching for his medicine cabinet. He crashed to the floor, cracking his head on the tub. The result? “BRAIN DAMAGE!” No, he didn’t just split open his head. He had BRAIN DAMAGE. As a result, as Mom said, he became a moron. Not only that, but he was also a “VEGETABLE.” THAT, my friends, is a bad deal. I am now 50 years old. A few weeks ago, I was at my in-laws house (which is very similar to my childhood home). I looked at their medicine cabinet and could not help but glance at the tub to satisfy myself that there was enough distance between the two to prevent a moron-inducing fall. Oh, I didn’t climb on the sink. But I thought about it.

The Boy Who Made Out With The Toaster: I have had a lifelong habit of looking at myself any time I pass a mirror. This isn’t because I am particularly handsome. It’s just a habit. My Dad did the same thing. When I was small fellow, I used to look at myself in the side of the toaster. I know that’s weird, but the toaster had a dent in it, and you could treat it like a fun house mirror. Besides, I just liked doing it, okay?

There was once this boy who, like me, stared at the toaster. One day–for reasons I didn’t understand–he kissed his own reflection! Much like Narcissus, he was done in by his own beauty. How, you say? By ELECTROCUTION. That’s right, he was electrocuted. Immediately. Dead. Just like the other kid who tried to get his toast out with a fork. D-E-A-D.

Here’s a secret: After she told me that, I kissed the toaster. What the hell? Life on the edge. Don’t tell anyone about that.

To this day, when I see a shiny toaster (you know, the silvery chrome kind), I’m tempted to plant one on it just to see. I don’t. Usually.

Sputum: If Mom saw me touch the bottom of my shoe–even for a split second–she would say “Oh, there is nothing filthier than the bottoms of your shoes. You have walked in people’s sputum.” Not spit. Nor phlegm. Not even snot. Sputum. When I got older, I would do it just hear the word sputum. She’s the only person I ever heard say it.


Mom had a habit of saying the same things over and over about particular people or situations. I considered these to be her catch phrases. This is best described by the following examples:

Social Disgrace: This was something to be avoided at all costs. A social disgrace would bring shame upon your family name. Divorce was a good one. Marital infidelity was another. Getting arrested was a biggie. Mom’s description was “Honey, you know that’s a social disgrace.” I’ve done my best throughout my life to avoid these.

The Lowest of Trash: One big step below a social disgrace was behavior reserved “the lowest of trash.” This behavior included drinking, drugs, premarital sex, children born out-of-wedlock, foul language, poor grammar, bad table manners and general trashiness. Normally, this was used as follows: “Honey, the lowest of trash wouldn’t do a thing like that.” Often, a woman who looked like a “floozie” would be used as a living example of the lowest of trash.

Stomped-Down Moron: To be a stomped-down moron may or may not involve social disgrace or the lowest of trashiness. All it required was poor judgment. Then, Mom might observe that “You act like a stomped-down moron.” This is not to be confused with a brain-damaged moron.

As an aside, Dad once observed during an argument with Mom: “Anna, I know that it’s important for you to get the last word, but you’re the only person I know who has to get the last scathing insult in any conversation.” Stomped-down moron fell into that category.

He Wears A Diaper: My parents knew a man who became involved with a much younger woman. It was a social disgrace, of course. This guy was about Dad’s age, and the gossip horrified Mom. Naturally, she talked about it all the time. Every time it came up, her description of this fellow included this tagline: “He wears a diaper.” WHAT?!? Evidently, this fellow had suffered some sort of hideous medical condition or that’s what folks said, anyway. As a result, “He wears a diaper.” Sometimes she would say “You know he’s incontinent. He wears a diaper.” Did he? Who the hell knows? How would Mom know this? I have no idea. It’s not like he was a close family friend. He was just some guy they knew. I doubt that he ever told Mom he wore a diaper. Regardless, his name was never mentioned without reference to his diaper.

Some years later, I happened to be in Harlan on business. I was at the Hardee’s and guess who I saw? Diaper Dandy! We exchanged banal pleasantries. I must admit that I checked him out for any tell-tale signs of diaper-wearing. You know what? I think that man was wearing a diaper.

The Ugly Man: Mom went to college with a man so ugly, so repellant that he was denied admission to medical school. This man was so hideous that the mere thought of exposing him to the sick and infirm was a shock to the senses. Since Mom was quite a few decades too young to have attended school with Joseph Merrick, the famed Elephant Man, what could this man’s affliction have been? Bad teeth. Yep, poor dental work. So bad–or “deformed” as Mom always said–that he couldn’t cover them with his lips. It seems to me that if you couldn’t cover your teeth, the lack of saliva would cause them to rot. Maybe they did or maybe he licked them frequently. Either way, it had to be really gross. I tried to envision this man’s appearance, his grotesque twisted teeth protruding. By the way, I’ve seen a lot of ugly doctors. Think about how bad this guy had to be.


Mom had a number of peculiarities or eccentricities or whatever you want to call them:

Car Sickness: Mom usually got car sick when she opened the door of the car. Sometimes, she would just puke in a plastic grocery bag. (Oh, the word “puke” is only said by the lowest of trash). Other times, you’d have to pull over to let her “get some air.” Once, we when she was a child, her father drove their family from Pikeville to Cumberland, Kentucky. When asked at the gas station how far he had driven, Papaw replied: “Nineteen pukes.” Normally, when my parents came to visit my home in Lexington, the first thing Mom did upon arrival was go to the bathroom and vomit. My wife thought it was odd, but I was so used to it that I rarely even noticed.

Camera Shyness: I suspect that there are more photographs of Howard Hughes and J.D. Salinger than there are of my mother. She hid from cameras like you were the Paparazzi. She would turn her head, hold up her hand, run from the room–anything to avoid the camera. Future generations will wonder why we have so little photographic evidence of her existence.

I took this photo of Mom in 1990.  She is telling me to leave her alone.

I took this photo of Mom in 1990. She is telling me to leave her alone.

Burning Paint: She had no sense of smell or at least that was the claim. There was one notable exception to this malady: She could smell burning paint–and she often did. It was like a super-power. Unfortunately, she would smell it when it wasn’t present. Or maybe it was but only her heightened sensitivity. “John, do you smell that? I smell burning paint.” There was never any burning paint, as far as I know. Then again, I don’t know what burning paint smells like.

The Pre-Planned Funeral: A lot of folks pre-plan their funerals, but not many do it without the help of a funeral home. Mom did. Shortly before her death, she gave my brother detailed plans, including a budget. No embalming (“It’s not required and a waste of money.”) We followed her instructions with one exception. We didn’t tell the funeral home to get all the gold out of her mouth (“They’ll steal it, if you don’t.“). But someone might have:

After Dad died, I found these in a jar.  They were Mom's.  Maybe Dad fulfilled her final wishes.

After Dad died, I found these in a jar. They were Mom’s. Maybe Dad fulfilled her final wishes.


Mom had a vast reserve of maudlin stories, most of which involved her childhood. Here are the best–and most repeated–ones:

Jitterbug: She had a dog named Jitterbug. I don’t remember what kind of dog it was. Here’s what I do remember: Jitterbug go run over by a train or a big truck or something like that. It was horrific. The story had a tremendous build up of how wonderful and loved Jitterbug was. Then, he got killed. I hated that story.

The Bracelet: When Mom was a girl, her father bought her a bracelet. She got mad at him one day, took off the bracelet and threw it at him. He weeped. He didn’t cry or sob or tear up. He “weeped.” That’s how it was always said, like a Bible verse: “Daddy weeped.” My older brother so hated this story that he refused to listen to it after a while. (Dad, being cynical as he was, observed “Can you imagine what a cheap piece of junk that bracelet was?”) Nevertheless, Mom never got tired of telling it.

Poor Little George: Mom’s Uncle George was about the same age as she was. He had some kind of awful liver disease. He died when he was 8 years old while his parents were driving him to a specialist somewhere. This is a legitimately sad story. The kind of story best told once. Once.

Papaw: My grandfather–her father–was one of the finest people I’ve ever known. Kind, caring–just a nice guy. He did, however, have the cardiac history of Fred Sanford, having suffered innumerable heart attacks. Mom would recount some of those to me telling me how he barely survived each. Once, he had one while working underground in a coal mine. Again, he barely cheated death. My Dad’s version was much different: “When we got to Cumberland, your Papaw was flaked out on a lawn chair listening to a transistor radio. He didn’t look too sick to me.” Papaw later moved to Utah and any time we visited him, he cautioned that it could well be the last time we saw him. He reminded us of that, too. He died in 1998 at age 91. Oh, and I never knew him to have a heart attack.

So, that’s Mom. It’s easy to say you love your mother. I did, but I also liked her. She was funny. She cared about what happened to me. She always tried to help. She rarely raised her voice. In her later years, I don’t think she could yell. She spoke barely above a whisper, often prefacing her comments with “Oh, Lord, honey…”

When my younger brother died, sadness infected her like a bad cold she couldn’t shake. She got better but never well. Even with that, she was a good mom and grandmother. She is greatly missed but left me with a lot of good memories.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

The Sporting Life of Me

I like sports. Maybe I love sports. Loving something like that (or is it those?) seems odd to say out loud, but it’s possible that I do. Why? I’m not sure, but I know this much: It isn’t because I was ever good at any of them.

If you’ve read any of my sundry blog posts, you know that I will opine on almost any topic–politics, religion, TV, movies, fighting girls, self-help and, yes, sports. These things interest me, and I like to write–and talk–about such things. One might call me self-centered. One might be correct about that, too. I assume that others will be interested in these subjects since they interest me. Mostly, I believe that others are, or at the very least should be, interested in what interests me. If not, they must be interested in me, generally. With that in mind, let’s talk sports.

I’m not an athlete. I never was. Oh, I tried my hand at various sports. Never, though, did I find my game.


I played a lot of baseball growing up. I wasn’t particularly good, but I played. I had one God-given skill and that was speed. I was pretty fast. That was helpful, to some extent. I also have decent hand-eye coordination–decent, not excellent. I couldn’t hit very well nor did I have a good arm. In my 20’s, a doctor told me that it was likely that I had torn muscles in my shoulder when I was young, which would explain chronic pain and weakness. I use this now as an excuse to explain my overall mediocrity. I am now convinced that I tore my shoulder when I was 4 years old.

My baseball career, as it were, can be summed up in one game when I was 14 years old. My team faced a pitcher who threw side arm. I couldn’t hit him neither could my team-mate batting in front of me in the order. In the last inning of an extra inning game, we both had struck out four times. There were two outs, and I was on deck. Since we both had the dreaded Golden Sombrero (four Ks), I silently prayed that my team-mate would get out so that I would not end the game for us. He did. On strikes. I was happy. There may be no “I” in team, but there damn sure is one in “strike out.”

I was also volatile and difficult to coach. I would argue with my coaches. I would argue with opposing players. I would argue with my team-mates. These may seem to be attributes of the modern athlete; however, they are best reserved for the modern, outstanding athlete. The borderline, average teenager in the 1970’s did not benefit from such behavior. One time, I even got into an argument with my coach’s father during a game. Not a good move.

I combined lack of skill and bad attitude with laziness. If I needed to work on something, I preferred to just sit around and hope I improved. Oddly enough, it didn’t work.


I also played basketball or, more correctly, tried to play. To say that I was not a good basketball player is to say that William Shatner is not a good singer. The speed which I flashed playing baseball disappeared with a basketball in my hands. I couldn’t go to my left at all. I could barely go to my right. But, could I shoot? No. Try as I might, my jumper was always an awkward “push” shot. It would have looked good in the days of the two hand set shot.

My lack of skill limited my play to pick up games, except for a brief period in elementary school when I played what we called “Little League” basketball in my home town. I played for Loyall Christian Church. Although I did not attend church there, they sponsored our team. I played three years and might have scored 10 points total. Honestly, that’s probably a stretch. I do know that my high game was four points. Wow.

The highlight of my organized basketball career was a fight–not involving me, of course. My Dad had an older kid walk me to my games at night (Dad was often on the road for work during the week). One night, we encountered a hoodlum of some renown. My guardian slapped the cigarette out of the hood’s mouth, picked it up and took a long drag off it. He then flicked the butt off the hood’s chest. I can still see those ashes exploding against his chest in the dark. Why did he do this? I think it was just to make a point. Okay, that’s not really a fight, but I was just 7 or 8 years old, and I thought it was cool.

I would occasionally play pick up games, usually quite poorly. The only time I ever recall playing well was in a one on one game with a friend in high school. For reasons now obscure, I had mouthed off about how I could beat him. I don’t why I did that since he was taller than I was and, by all appearances, more athletic. He challenged me to a game to 20 by ones. Something possessed me and, for that one game, I could really play. I couldn’t miss a shot. My awkward, two-handed J hit nothing but net. The game winner was made after a quite accidental cross-over dribble off my knee. My opponent slipped and I nailed a jumper from about 15 feet. My friend was wowed. I used up all my basketball luck in one game.

I also played in the occasional pick up game in college. Again, poorly. My friends tolerated me, because…well…they were my friends. I’m sure it pained them to watch me. Sometimes, I would play against girls. They were also better than I was. Perhaps the highlight of my college career was a violent body check/pick laid on me by a University of Kentucky football player. He was about 6′ 4″, 350 maybe. No front teeth and he wore a down vest to play basketball. After his bone-pulverizing pick, I predictably collapsed in a pathetic heap. He then screamed obscenities at me, rightfully questioning my manhood.

I used to play basketball with my kids. Then, they got better than me, too.


I also tried golf. There weren’t a lot of golfers when I was growing up in Harlan County, Kentucky. Some people belonged to the Harlan Country Club. I heard that they played golf up there on a 9 hole golf course. Other than the occasional miniature golf game (they had miniature golf in Evarts), I didn’t touch a golf club until I was in my 20’s.

I thought golf would be a good game for me. It didn’t require much (or any) athleticism. I imagined myself strolling the links with fellow hot shots, playing and making lucrative business deals. Sadly, my golf play resembled nothing so much as Spaudling Smails in Caddyshack. Here are some of the reasons golf didn’t work:

  • I discovered that most people didn’t enjoy playing with someone in a blind rage the whole time.
  • People would give me pointers which I desperately needed; however, I HATE pointers, advice, helpful hints or whatever the hell you want to call them.
  • I broke my pitching wedge beating it against a tree after sailing an approach shot over the green.
  • I broke my 9 iron. By running over it with my car. On purpose.
  • I bent my putter. Throwing it.
  • I would curse loudly and often.

Ultimately, I abandoned the game because I was just terrible at it. Terrible. The only thing I liked about it was that one could drink alcohol while playing. In my case, it didn’t affect my game at all. Now, I often think about what my father said of golf: “If a man has enough time to play golf, he should do something productive instead. Like work.” That gives me some comfort. Some. I don’t do much productive, either.


I tried other sports. Bowling, for instance. Sucked. Like golf, I can tell you all the fundamentals one must embrace to excel, but I can’t execute any of them. Once I stopped drinking, I found out that the only reason I ever bowled was for the alcohol, anyway.


How about pool? I love shooting pool. I can visualize every shot on the table. I can’t execute any of them. I’ve broken a couple of pool cues over my leg. I used to have a nice pool table, but I gave it away. It taunted me every time I walked by it. Again, though, one could drink beer and play. It had that going for it.


In the 1970’s, there was a yo-yo craze. That’s right–yo-yo. Everyone had a yo-yo, me included. The craze even reached Harlan County. Every hay-shaker and hill jack in the county was walking the dog, rocking the baby and going around the world. Me? I cracked myself in the mouth once trying to go around the world. Split my lip. Sometimes, I would walk the dog, and the yo-yo would pop up and hit me in the forehead. It was just sad.


My mediocrity knew almost no limits. Ping pong, darts, dodge ball, volley ball and softball all mastered me. PE in high school was a struggle, because there were no games at which I excelled. Our PE teacher was an affable enough fellow who went on to a successful career as a college football assistant coach. He was affable, that is, until he had a psychotic episode of yelling and screaming about something. He once hit a kid with a desk. He was better, though, than the head football coach who someone once aptly described as a “shaved ape.” They brought to mind the old Woody Allen joke: “Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach gym.”

Of course, it was a right of passage that one take PE. At the time, I suspected that it was because of a homoerotic desire to force us all to shower. I guess that was wrong, but–hey–I was 14. It made sense at the time.

One sport I never tried was football. I was WAY too small and have an aversion to being hit. I also don’t like injuries of any kind. When I grew no one played soccer. I never ran track or swam competitively or played Frisbee. I like to think that I could have excelled at any of those if I’d only tried.

Later in life, I met many people who didn’t grow up with me. Someone would ask if I played basketball, and I could say, “Oh, yeah. I was pretty damn good, too.” Or I could say I was baseball star. Fortunately, when you reaches a certain age, people don’t challenge you or invite you to join their teams. If they do, you can alway claim some injury like a torn rotator cuff or unresolved sports hernia prevents it.

Now that I’ve written this, I think I know why I love sports. It’s precisely because of my incompetence. Perhaps, I live vicariously through these athletes. Perhaps, I admire their expertise. It could be that they represent all that I wanted to be. Or maybe it’s because I REALLY love watching TV. I am very good at that.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012

The Common Man’s Guide to the Fiscal Cliff


Hunter Thompson once said: “The edge… the only ones who know where it is have gone over it.” He later shot himself and had his cremated remains shot out of cannon by Johnny Depp. I’d say that’s somewhere over the edge.

Now we Americans are all on the edge–the edge of the dreaded Fiscal Cliff. Since I grew up in Eastern Kentucky, I like to call it the Physical Cliff, because that’s what we call our Fiscal Courts. You may also call it a “clift” if you like. Regardless of pronunciation, we are there, on the edge, ready for the plunge.

Perhaps the Mayans were on to something with their silly calendar. Maybe they knew there would be a United States and that it would one day be run by gaggle of twits. Maybe they picked December 21 because they knew no work would be done during the holidays and that might as well be the end of things. It’s hard to say.

What is the Fiscal Cliff? Since I eschew research, I don’t really know. I have, however, gathered bits and pieces of information listening to people rant and rave about it. As best I can tell, come January 1, 2013, tax rates go up and military and non-military discretionary spending goes down–all the way across the board. Every pet project and sacred cow in the spendthrift world of federal government gets cut. Taxes go up, too. And over the edge we go. What happens then?

Before you read further, bear in mind that I am not expert on economics or any other topic. Much of what you will read here is inaccurate. Some of it is just flat made-up. Regardless, it should provide a useful overview of the issues facing our great nation.

If you’d like to really learn about the budget, the Congressional Budget Office has a handy 100 page overview of the next couple of years. It’s like reading H.P. Lovecraft if he were a complete dullard or budget wonk. By raising taxes and cutting spending, the federal deficit will eventually be decreased by $2 trillion dollars, blah, blah. If you understand that, you’re miles ahead of me on this deal. Let’s face it: I don’t understand any of this. If that’s too confusing, maybe this will help:


No? I’ve done my own, simpler graph to show the potential outcome:


The Cliff is some kind of Idiot Test for the federal government. This raising taxes and cutting spending is unpalatable to everyone. Those of a conservative sort have sworn their allegiance to someone named Grover Norquist. Evidently, he makes you swear never to raise taxes. (Don’t feel bad. I don’t know who the hell he is, either). The Left, of course, can’t palate not spending. Cuts are like taking Paris Hilton’s trust fund away. Sure, she would survive, but would life really be worth living? Both sides are united for their distaste with cutting ALL spending. So, the thought was, this plan will force these conflicting groups to agree for the betterment of all. Maybe it will. Maybe not.

President Obama wants to raise taxes. Why? More money, of course. Grover Norquist doesn’t want to raise taxes. Not now. Not ever. Why not? It’s just bad, I guess. As a result, the Republicans will entertain increasing tax revenue but not raising tax rates. What?!? I don’t follow it, either, but it’s okay to raise tax revenue by eliminating deductions or “loopholes” and broadening the tax base. “Broadening the tax base” means taxing people who don’t pay taxes now. Just don’t raise rates. This is called “tax reform,” not taxes increases, even though it would increase the amount of taxes paid. Get it? Me neither.

The Republicans demand spending cuts. Since the federal government is broke and getting broker (if that’s possible), this seems reasonable. Then, why don’t they like the spending cuts at the bottom of the Cliff? Doesn’t a massive cut take care of things and eliminate all the debate about what to cut? Nope. We can’t cut military spending. Why not? I’m not sure, other than we can’t. We spend as much as the entire world put together on our military. Reducing that would cripple us. Maybe it would, but that seems unlikely.

The Democrats are equally obstinate about social programs or, as the Right likes to call them, “entitlements.” “Entitlements” are handouts to people who don’t deserve them. Laggards, wastrels, layabouts. Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are the battlegrounds. The Left doesn’t seem to grasp that the system was designed to function exactly the way it does. That’s why it’s failing. Overhauling it is a good idea. But, like many good ideas, Washington isn’t interested. These expenditures aren’t part of the Cliff, but the Republicans want them reformed.

Here’s a little secret: they’re not really cutting spending. They’re just going to spend less than they want. In Washington, you can actually increase the amount you spend, but still call it a decrease. This is called a “sequester.” They are sequestering the budget, which appears to mean that the budget won’t increase in 2013, but it will in later years.

To understand this, you must understand Washington Math. Spending “cuts” aren’t really cuts at all. They are more like reduced increases. Let’s say you make $40,000 a year and spent $50,000 this year. Next year, you plan to spend $60,000. Someone-me, for instance–says “Whoa, there, Rockefeller. You can’t do that. You have to decrease your spending!” You then decide to spend $55,000. Under Washington Math, you’ve just cut spending by $5,000. Make sense? Of course not.

But, you ask: “Wouldn’t increased revenue and decreased spending be a good thing?” Not so fast, genius. When it comes to money, the government is like my kids. They spend what I give them. Whether it’s $2 or $20, they spend it. Then, they ask for more. That’s how the government works. They’ll spend all the tax revenue. All of it. They’ll still spend more than they have, just less of it. Think of it as less of more.

So, we find ourselves at loggerheads. Democratic President, Republican House, Democratic Senate. Can they ever agree on anything? We stand at the edge, ready to plunge. At the precipice with us are the President, a pompous know-it-all determined to get his way, and John Boehner, the yam-colored, leathery Speaker of the House, who is also determined to get his way. If we’re going to take a tumble, they are poised to give a friendly shove.

What will happen if we plunge over the Cliff? Here is my prediction, based on nothing other than pure guess-work:

  • Taxes will increase on someone, maybe everyone.
  • Spending will increase, but it will be called a decrease.
  • The President will blame George Bush, but in a bizarre twist it will be George H.W. Bush.
  • George W. Bush will emerge from seclusion and once again inexplicably declare “Mission Accomplished!”
  • In an ill-conceived attempt to improve Congress’s image, Mitch McConnell and Nancy Pelosi will have a hot make-out session on The O’Reilly Factor.
  • The State of the Union Address will be replaced with this 800 number recording: “The state of the union? It’s just really shitty.”
  • Grover Norquist will have some kind of spell.
  • White House spin doctors will replace “recession” in the lexicon with cooler-sounding “Obamacession.”
  • Glenn Beck’s TV show will come back, but he’ll need about seven more chalkboards.
  • Chris Matthews will yell about all of it.
  • General Petraeus will take his own plunge, if you know what I mean.
  • My car will be totaled. (My bad. That’s something that will happen if I drive my car over a cliff).
  • Beans will replace dollars as the international currency of business, thus transforming all Doomsday Preppers into Captains of Industry.
  • As a show of cooperation, Obama and Boehner will compromise on a $1 per pack cigarette tax. The compromise will be that it won’t apply to the President or Speaker of the House.
  • The Death Panels will work overtime to reduce the number of unemployed.
  • Honey Boo Boo won’t care. (On second thought, maybe she will. Her taxes will probably increase).

Don’t be alarmed by this nightmare scenario. Compromise is still possible. Indeed, it may even be likely. Here’s how it will work:

Taxes rates will increase on the highest earnings but not all that much. Loopholes will be closed, thus broadening the tax base. The end result will be more taxes for almost everyone. Republicans will save face by claiming that the President is insane and shoved it all down their throats by promising HUGE spending cuts, none of which will actually be part of the compromise. Spending, of course, will actually go up but less than projected. This will be called deficit reduction, even though the deficit will actually increase. Both sides will declare victory.

As you have no doubt garnered, it’s all rather simple. Now, enjoy your time on the edge. It’s where all the fun stuff happens anyway.

©thetrivialtroll.wordpress.com 2012