Oh, Dear Me

It’s become quite popular for folks to write letters to themselves. Seriously, it has.  Sometimes, they’ll write to their young selves and offer advice.  Maybe you’ve written a letter to your future self full positive affirmations and whatnot.  There are even websites offering tips on writing to yourself, where in the future or the past .

I’ve never done this, mostly because I’ve written very few letters in my life (with the notable exception of business letters of which I’ve written thousands).   I once had a therapist suggest that I write a letter to myself.  Like most suggestions, I ignored it.

Today is my birthday.  I am 52 years old.  I spend little time thinking about the past.  There’s nothing I can do about it, so I might as well move on. My birthday is the only time I wax nostalgic.  I’m not sure why, but I do.

Current Me has no advice for Young Me.  Young Me wouldn’t take advice anyway.  Plus, if I write Young Me and tell him all the things that will happen over the years, he might be terrified.  Young Me was quite prone to worry.  No need to make him fret.

I’m also not interested in writing Future Me.  I have no idea how old Future Me will be.  Future Me already knows everything that Current Me and Young Me know, plus a bunch of other stuff.   Who am I to annoy him with my advice?  Maybe he should write Current Me a letter.  That might actually be helpful.  At least I’d read it.

The letter I’d really like to see would one from Young Me to Current Me.  I don’t remember much about that dude.  It might be to nice get his take on my current situation.  Perhaps I’ll write him a letter which will compel him to respond.  It would read something like this:

Dear Me:

Thanks for your recent letter.  I appreciate all the advice, but I’ll be fine doing things my way.

I’m doing okay, I guess.  I’m in college and planning to go to law school.  I guess you know all that.  Sounds like I end up doing alright.  To be honest, I can’t imagine how it worked out like that.  I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing most of the time.

I’m glad to see that things have gone well for you (us?).  I’m quite surprised that you’ve been married for over 25 years.  I can’t keep a girlfriend for more than a few months. Now, you tell me that I’ll be married in just a few years. Is sour wife really ugly?  I’ve always worried that I’ll have to settle for some homely chick.  Next time, send me a picture of her.  Then again, maybe it’s best I don’t know.

You have three kids?  And none of them are psychopaths or grievously mentally ill?  I’m barely able to care for myself.  I’ve messed myself up in a lot of ways.  I can’t imagine what I would do to kids. 

It’s a relief to know that you made it through law school and actually got a job.  I appreciate your suggestion that I pay more attention in school, but you forget that there’s a lot going on in my world.  When I’m not brooding, I try to have a good time.  School isn’t my idea of a good time. 

I’ll admit that I’m a bit sad to know that you aren’t super-rich or famous or anything like that. I hoped I’d make a bunch of money doing something and then not have to actually work.  Oh, well.

Hey, you didn’t have to tell me about Mom and Dad dying.  Obviously, they will at some point, but it’s better to leave that a mystery.  I’m pretty much completely dependent on them right now. I suppose I really will have to fend for myself at some point.

I was intrigued by your observation that Mom and Dad are actually right about almost everything they’ve told me.  Your memory might be failing you.  I still think I know better than they do. 

I was pleased to find out you’re 52 YEARS OLD!  I never expected to last that long.  That’s great.  As I write this, Dad is in his early 60’s.  I can’t imagine being that old.  Good work.  Hopefully, I won’t do anything to mess that up.  Of course, I guess I won’t, since you were able to write me. 

Thanks for the picture. You didn’t get real fat or bald, but I see you got Dad’s white hair.  I’ve always expected that to happen.  You still kind of look like me but not really.  I’m not sure I would recognize you if we passed on the street.  You really are starting to look like Dad, which I never expected.

Did you become a pompous know-it-all like most people your age that I know?  I hope notPlease don’t go around telling everyone else how to live their lives.  Be especially sure to take it easy on the lecturing.  Honestly, no one wants to hear it.

Here’s another thing to remember:  Let your sons be themselves.  They’re going to do that anyway, so you might as well help them.  I know, because I’m living through that right now.  Yes, they’ll disappoint you sometimes, but they don’t mean to do it.  It happens.  Be sure they know you love them regardless. 

Don’t hammer your kids too much when they make mistakes.  Believe or not, they usually know.  I’m not saying to ignore the problems–you know Dad never did!  Just take it easy.

I must take exception to some of your counsel.  How do you know that I’ve never been in love?  Again, your memory fails you.  You’re falling prey to one of the worst mistakes people your age make–you forgot what’s like to be young. 

While we’re on that subject, being young isn’t a barrel of laughs all the time.  I worry about my future and occasionally do hideously stupid things.  You might remember it as nothing but a bunch of good times, but there are plenty of bad ones, too.  Don’t waste any of your time wanting to be me.

I always figured I’d contract some horrible disease or die young in a stupid accident of some sort.  Future Me must have done something right along the way.  I can’t fathom that I will do all that you described in your letter. 

To you, I’m sure it seems that I did all I could to stand in your way and make life difficult.  Mostly, I did the best I knew to do at the time.  Even when it wasn’t the best I could do, I still did something. Instead of telling me what you think I need to know, you should perhaps forgive me for some of the mistakes I made.  I’m sure you’d do the same for your sons.  

As an aside, nice try with the “smart phone” nonsense. There’s no way that everyone carries a phone with them all the time. Do you really expect me to believe that your telephone has more computing power than any computer in my time?  You send written messages to people with it?  Listen to music?  Read newspapers on it?  C’mon.  I know you’re in the future, but you’re not on Star Trek. 

In closing, thanks again for the letter.  Take care of yourself.  We should try to hang around as long as possible.  After all, we don’t want to get a letter from Future You telling us how we’ve screwed up his old age.

Your friend,

Me

 

Four Years and Four Forecasts

I often make predictions.  They are often correct.  By “often” I mean “sometimes.”  For example, I once predicted that every match in the World Cup would end in a 0-0 (or “nil-nil” as we futbol fans say) tie.  I was correct 68% of the time.  I also  predicted that my son would be placed on academic probation based upon his failure to attend any of his classes.  Correct again.

Oh, sure, I also predicted that New Coke would be a hit and that Milli Vanilli would launch a successful comeback.  It strikes me, though, that predictions mean nothing if I don’t share them with someone.   That way, others can perhaps benefit from knowing what’s going to happen or not.

I had an aunt who was a fortune-teller.  She had a crystal ball and everything.  Madame Ruth, she was called.  So, this may be in my blood.  Come to think of it, she was only my aunt by marriage.  I guess I got it somewhere else.

With this in mind, I offer a few predictions for the coming years–four for each of the next four years.  Let’s call it the 4×4 Forecast:

2014:

  • Beginning immediately, the word “Lebron” will be uttered during every ESPN Sportscenter broadcast until 30 days after the death of Lebron James in 2062.
  • Justin Beiber will  do something embarrassing in public.
  • A politician will become embroiled in a sex scandal.
  • You will inadvertently “sext” one of your former teachers resulting in a torrid May-December romance.

2015:

  • The return of Jesus Christ will receive scant notice in the press as it will occur on the same day as Prince George utters his first word.
  • Kim Jong Un will be photographed looking at stuff.
  • One of your close friends will obtain a copy of the Gay Agenda and recruit you into homosexuality.
  • Revisionist historians will connect the late Junior Samples to the Kennedy Assassination.

2016:

  • Texas Governor Rick Perry will stab Jim Lehrer with a fountain pen during a televised debate in an effort to buy time to think of an answer.
  • Abe Lincoln will leap from the grave sometime during April.
  • You will see someone you are sure you know but you will not remember his or her name.
  • As expected, a Clinton takes the White House.  Not so expected, it will musician George Clinton who will rename Washington, D.C. “Funkadelphia.”

2017:

  • In early March, the EPA will surprisingly announce that global warming is actually a good thing.
  • Violence will break out among radicalized Anabaptists resulting in numerous suicide buggy attacks on barns throughout Ohio and Pennsylvania.
  • After having experienced Same Sex Divorce, the LGBT community will lead a campaign to ban Same Sex Marriage.
  • The Chicago Cubs will win the World Series.  (Okay, I just made that one up.)

So, there you have it.  Four predictions a year for four years.  Some of it will happen.  Or not.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2014

 

 

Road Trippin’ 2014

I took a road trip—from Lexington, Kentucky to Riverside, California.  Why?  Because I had an excuse to do it.  My oldest son is in a mathematics research program at California State University—San Bernardino.  Instead of our usual beach-oriented vacation, my wife and I decided that we would visit California.

WHY DO THIS?

Even though it was a family vacation, I drove alone to California.  As a result, many people asked my wife and me why I would do this.  Before I go further, let me answer the most commonly asked questions:

Why did I go by myself?  No one wanted to go with me.  At one point, I thought my middle son would go.  He and I traveled together quite a bit when he played baseball, and he’s a pretty good companion, although he’s a little too picky about meals.  Ultimately, he backed out as I expected he would.  Honestly, he would have been bored to death,  although later in life he would have been glad he went.  There is no way my wife would go.  She can’t stand a day long drive anywhere.  Four or five days of driving would have resulted in madness for one or both of us.  My youngest son gets car sick riding across town.  There was no chance of me driving 4,000 miles with the window down so he can “get some air.”  So, it was either go alone or not at all.

Was I lonely?  I have many flaws, but as I proceed through my fifties, I’m pretty comfortable with myself.  I don’t need people to entertain me. I’m just weird enough that driving and seeing new sights interests me.  I don’t have to force someone else to go with me to enjoy it.

Why did you want to do this?  I wanted to see the country.  I haven’t been across the country since I was kid when my family would drive to Utah to visit my grandparents.  I’m 51 years old.  Who knows when I would have the excuse to do this again?  Maybe never or maybe I’d be too damn old to do it.  This was my chance, and I took it.

HITTING THE ROAD

I left on a Sunday morning headed out on I-64 which I rode into Missouri.  Southern Indiana and Illinois are faceless, bland drives.  It only gets interesting when you hit St. Louis.

One thing I wanted to do was check out Route 66 (or what’s left of it), the famed Mother Road which ran from Chicago to Santa Monica, California.  Prior to the Interstate system, Route 66 was the main artery across the United States.  It still exists, to certain extent, although it has been largely obliterated by Interstates 44 and 40.  It many places it still retains some of its old character.  I checked out quite a bit of it.  I’m not going to give your details of all my stops or a history of the road.  Google “Route 66” and you’ll more information than you can digest.

I had no itinerary.  My oldest son gave me a book about Route 66 which was helpful.  It gave me some idea of where I was going.  Otherwise, I just drove.  A lot of the driving was on Interstates, and a lot wasn’t.

My only plan was to drive until 4:00 or 5:00 and then look for a Hampton Inn.  I’m a big fan of Hampton Inn–clean rooms, reasonable prices, free internet and free breakfast.  Plus, they have fitness rooms.  When I do a lot of driving, I like to have at least a treadmill to use to keep this old body in shape.  Oh, I’m also a big fan of Flying J truck stops.  The restrooms are clean and the coffee is always hot and fresh.  Good stuff.

Here are some highlights:

My first stop—about 6 hours in—was in Cuba, Missouri for lunch.  I ate at Missouri Hick BBQ.  Pulled pork sandwich just the way it should be—smoky and no sauce on it.  I followed Route 66 for about an hour after that but hopped back on I-44 to cover more ground.  I spent the night in Joplin, Missouri, slept well and was back on the road in the morning.  I was struck by how much of Joplin is still destroyed by the 2011 tornado.

This just had to be good.  It was.

This just had to be good. It was.

The old road is no great treat in Missouri.  I-44 obliterates in most stretches.  In others, it’s little more than a service road for the Interstate.   Cuba, Missouri, though, is worth a stop.   In addition to Missouri Hick, it’s the City of Murals with murals painted on almost every building.  It also has the Wagon Wheel Motel, the oldest continuously operating motel on the old road. Pretty cool.

On Day 2, I decided to follow Route 66 for the day.  I rolled through Galena, Kansas and on to Commerce, Oklahoma, small town that surely suffered when the Interstate bypassed it.  I came into Commerce at around 9:00 a.m.  I parked on the main street and looked around.  There were no signs of any activity.  One thing, though, stood out.  Mickey Mantle was from Commerce, and Commerce is proud of it.  Signs line the street proclaiming it.  The center piece is in front of the town baseball park—Mickey Mantle Field, of course.  A huge statue of the Mick is out front.  Something about that statue early in the morning gave me chills.  It is a magnificent monument.  Yankee Stadium would be proud to display it.

IMG_7572

THEY STILL LOVE THE MICK IN COMMERCE.

Next, I came to Vinita, Oklahoma, which is home to the former largest McDonald’s restaurant on Earth—it straddles the Interstate, in fact.  Weird, but true.  It was a nice little town.

Miami, Stroud and other small towns passed by.  I ate in Stroud at the Rock Café, a Route 66 landmark—Nice people and good food, too.  It was one of the models for the film, Cars.

No trip through this part of the country would be complete without seeing the Blue Whale of Catoosa:

IMG_7576

I took the Mother Road through downtown Tulsa and about half way to Oklahoma City.  I hopped back on I-44 to avoid traffic around OKC.  My night was spent in Clinton, Oklahoma, home of Toby Keith.  I learned that every town in Oklahoma is the home of “someone.”

I took one detour before I reached Clinton.  I drove about ten miles south of I-40 to Binger, Oklahoma, hometown of the my childhood hero, Johnny Bench.  There’s not much in Binger, but they have a Johnny Bench Street and Johnny Bench Museum.  They remember Johnny:

JB's sign needs straightening

JB’s sign needs straightening

I lost a lot of time with my wanderings on Day 2, so I stayed back on the I for most of Day 3.  My first goal was the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo which I got to around lunch time.  I’m glad I looked it up on the Internet.  There are no signs or billboards.  You have to know that it’s between exits 61 and 62.  The artist who created it died just a couple of weeks ago.  You’re free to paint your own graffiti on the cars.  Of course, I couldn’t resist:

I chose to tag a car with "UK" for my beloved University of Kentucky.

I chose to tag a car with “UK” for my beloved University of Kentucky.

Before I reached Amarillo, I couldn’t pass up the Devils Rope Museum in McLean, Texas.  It’s a barbed wire museum.  You never imagined there were so many types of barbed wire—hundreds, maybe thousands.  They also had a small area devoted to Route 66 artifacts.  I met a couple of folks from New Zealand.  Their accents and mine clashed  and none of us were sure what had been said.

I made it all the way to Albuquerque where I had dinner at Garcia’s Kitchen on old Route 66 which runs the Old Town section of the city.  That’s a great drive.  Many of the old motels still remain, although I was told at my hotel that it wasn’t the safest place to wander at night.

Garcia’s was outstanding.  Chicken flautas, refried beans and rice.  My waitress was friendly.  Of course, she asked about my accent.  She guessed I was from Texas, but I told her that Texans could understand me, either.

My goal on Day 3 was Phoenix.  If you know your geography, you know that’s quite a detour.  My brother lives in Scottsdale, and we rarely see each other.  I couldn’t pass up the chance to see him.  So, I did

I had lunch in Holbrook, Arizona, a town which I’m guessing hasn’t changed much over the decades.  Many of the Route 66 businesses were still there, including the iconic Wigwam Motel:

IMG_7633

 

It was cool to see and walk around, but I wouldn’t stay there.  While it seemed well-kept and clean, there was just something about the look–maybe it was the old vintage cars parked in front of each teepee.  I could easily imagine a masked marauder sawing the top off my teepee in the middle of the night.  I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen.

I lunched at Joe & Aggies Café, another excellent meal.  Chicken tacos this time.  Great service and atmosphere.

Winslow, Arizona was next.  The sole purpose of this stop was to be photographed standing on the corner.  So, I was:

IMG_7637

 

Seligman, Arizona was also on my agenda.  I learned that it’s pronounced “Sligman” by the locals.  It had a small stretch of preserved Route 66 businesses, including Degadillo’s Snow Cap, which has been in business since 1953.  I had some ice cream and hit the road for Phoenix.

I had dinner with my brother in Scottsdale, and set out for California the next morning.  I had to make up time in order to meet my family in Riverside that afternoon. I would catch the California sights on the way back.  I did make a brief stop in Needles, California where I enjoyed the 115 degree heat.  Yes, I know—it’s a DRY HEAT.  115 is still hotter than Hell.

We spent five days in Riverside at the Mission Inn and Spa.  If you ever a get a chance, stay there.  It’s luxurious and reasonably priced.  I won’t bore you with the history of it, but it’s like a poor man’s Hearst Castle, a crazy quilt of architectural styles and artifacts.  It has to be seen to be appreciated.  We loved it.

I’ll admit that I wasn’t quite as enthused about the return trip, but I set out to cover the same ground and catch more scenery.  After about an hour on the Interstate, I decided to hit the Mother Road again.  The first landmark was the Bagdad Café in Newberry Springs, right in the desert.  The proprietor, a gentleman named Shaggy, came out to my car and invited me in.  While Shaggy enjoyed his breakfast beer, he gave me the history of the place, explaining that it had been featured in a 1988 film,  Bagdad Café.  Since nothing is left in the real Bagdad, California, the film was made there.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that I had never heard of the film   He gave me a movie poster.

Shaggy was fascinated that I was from Kentucky, because he and his co-workers had been looking for someone who knew about guns.  Oddly though, they never asked me anything about guns.  Shaggy had worked in L.A. as a mechanic.  He liked my car and gave it a thorough examination before I left.

Here’s Amboy, California (population 4):

 

IMG_7751

I continued on Route 66 for some time before I concluded that this is what I was going to see:

IMG_7750

On my trip back, retraced my path and saw a few new sights, such as the Blue Hole of Santa Rosa:

 

The Blue Hole is a popular scuba diving spot.

The Blue Hole is a popular scuba diving spot.

… and the VW Slugbuggy Ranch in  Conway, Texas:

IMG_7789

On to Amarillo for the night where I ate the best barbecued brisket ever at Tyler’s Barbeque.  After a night in Tulsa, I hauled the 750 miles back home.  I was tired and more than a little road-weary.  I’d do it again tomorrow.

THE PEOPLE AND PLACES

Understand that I’m not one of these guys who shows up and glad hands strangers, but I will strike up conversations when I can.  Mostly, though, I just people watch.  I’m odd enough that enjoy the anonymity of being a stranger in a strange town.  No one knows me, and I don’t know them.  Nevertheless, I met some folks and saw quite a few things.  Here’s a sampling:

  • I chatted with a member of the Bandidos motorcycle club in Texas.  He admired my car and we talked about the bugs in the air.  Nice fellow for an “outlaw biker.”  In Indiana, I shared a restroom with a biker who placed a handgun on the sink while he washed his hands.
  • In Adrian, Texas, I met some Chinese folks at the midpoint of Route 66.  They were thrilled when a rough-looking biker pulled up and began frantically taking pictures of him.  He, in turn, was amused.  He let them pose on his bike for their own photo ops.  I talked to them enough to figure out that only one spoke English–barely.
  • In Oklahoma, I asked a fellow about the nearby windmill farm.  He said folks were pretty pleased with it, but that if you lived near it you had to get used the low-level “hmmm” of the blades.
  • At the Blue Hole in Santa Rosa, I watch kids jump into the water-over and over and over.   It was tempting, given that it was 100 degrees.  Kids are kids everywhere.
  • I walked the street in Commerce, Oklahoma at 9:00 a.m.  There wasn’t much activity.  It could have been the small town where I grew up in Kentucky.
  • In New Mexico, I drove Route 66 at sunset.  I parked on the side of the road and watched the sunset while several horses wandered around my car.
  • I saw lots of other towns–Williams, Arizona; Kingman, Arizona; Rolla, Missouri; Clinton, Oklahoma (Home of Toby Keith); Chandler, Oklahoma; Erick, Oklahoma (Home of Roger Miller); Shamrock, Texas; Elk City, Oklahoma (Home of Jimmy Webb); Quapaw, Oklahoma; Ludlow, California; Grants, New Mexico; and many others.

New Mexico was the prettiest state with its red rocks and open skies.  Arizona was the best drive with great scenery and little traffic.  California was the toughest.  Both the Interstate and old road are desolate and HOT.  Oklahoma has the most casinos. Missouri has the most adult video stores.  The nicest people were in Texas.   Oklahoma folks are nice, too.

If you ever want to drive the entirety of the old Route 66, give yourself a couple of weeks.  Drive a vehicle that can handle poorly maintained, or even unpaved, roads.  I didn’t come close to driving the whole route and still encountered plenty of rough driving.  Also, be prepared for maddening breaks in the highway as it gets obliterated by the Interstate here and there.

So, that’s my trip.   I scribbled notes here and there and covered Facebook with posts to the annoyance of everyone, I’m sure. I wrote this as much for me as anyone else.  I’d do it again, but if I don’t get the chance at least I did it once.

©2014 http://www.thetrivialtroll.com

Mitchell The House Rabbit (2008-2014)

An obituary of our rabbit, Mitchell:

RIP MITCHELL

Mitchell passed from this Earth on July 2, 2014 after a brief illness. He is survived by his friend and master, Max Williams (age 12) and Max’s family—parents John and Sherry; and brothers Adam (age 21) and Lucas (age 19). He is also survived by his longtime companion, Mollie, and his special friend, Charlie The Cat.

Mitchell was born on March 22, 2008 in Scott County, Kentucky at the home of Rick and Lisa True. At the time of his passing, he was the only known survivor of his litter. Mitchell was a pure bred New Zealand rabbit, known for albinism and propensity for weight gain.

Eating was the primary focus of Mitchell’s life. He enjoyed nothing more than his morning banana and snack of grapes right before bed. Timothy hay, rabbit food and cilantro were also among his favorites. He was no snob, though, as he was known to occasionally enjoy a piece of cardboard or perhaps newspaper. His own excrement was often his snack of choice. He also enjoyed a good book but only if he could eat the pages.

When not eating, Mitchell was often found staring blankly off into space. Being nocturnal, he enjoyed napping during the day, which he could do with his eyes open. As prey for larger animals, Mitchell was always aware of his surroundings looking about for predators. A cardboard box was his shelter or hutch of choice.

Mitchell brightened the lives of those who knew him with his entertaining “happy hops” and general mischief. While many carry scars from his bites, they are now permanent reminders of our friend.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Kentucky Rabbit Rescue at http://rabbit.rescueme.org/Kentucky.

Mitchell, back in his youth.

Mitchell, back in his youth.

Come Retire With Me!

I’m in my 50’s now, rolling toward my Golden Years.  At my age, we think about retirement.  We read about it, too.  Mostly, we think and read about how we can’t retire because we don’t have enough money.  To that, I say “Balderdash!”  (I say that because I like the word “balderdash” but rarely get the chance to use it).  I read somewhere that 20-30% of Americans think winning a lottery is their best chance to pay for retirement.  I don’t recommend that plan. If that many American win the lottery, the pay outs will be so low, you won’t get hardly anything.

If you have a generous pension plan or trust fund or guaranteed inheritance, you may want to stop reading at this point.  Little of this will apply to you.  You have a safety net in place to assure your comfortable retirement.  For the rest of us, it takes some planning.

We can, in fact, retire if we know what to do. First, we must understand what retirement  is not.

Retirement is not unemployment.  Unemployment is the drunk brother-in-law of retirement.  The only thing it has in common with retirement is the lack of gainful employment.  It’s very easy to be unemployed.  AARP doesn’t publish articles on how best to become unemployed.  We all know many tried and true methods:  incompetence, sloth, thievery, amateur pornography, insubordination, felonious behavior, economic downturns, job outsourcing, bad luck and many, many others.

Retirement is not disability.  You might be disabled and thus unable to work.  That sucks, unless you are really a malingerer in which case you’re okay with it.  Regardless, you’re not retired.   You just can’t work.  There’s no retiring from disability, unless death counts.

Retirement is not wealth.  Perhaps you are incredibly wealthy and haven’t really ever worked.  Whether you attained this status through  dumb luck or the largesse of your ancestors, you aren’t retired.   You are a ne’er-do-well or man about town or socialite or some other such fortunate soul.  You can’t retire from those “jobs.”

So what exactly is retirement?  Retirement is where one works his or her ass off for years until the point that he or she can no longer stand it and quits.  Unlike unemployment, the retiree has sufficient income or assets upon which to live some modicum of a decent existence.  Pensions, savings, Social Security, inheritance and the like all qualify.

Now that we know what we’re dealing with, what can we do to be prepared? If you’re my age or older and you haven’t thought about that yet, here’s the plan:  Work until you die. You’ve waited way too long.   Maybe you’ll get lucky and get disabled at some point.  For everyone else, there are few things you can do–or not do, as the case may be.

1. Work.  This one is simple enough.  You can’t retire from doing nothing. Get a job.  Pay your taxes.  Set up an IRA.  Contribute to a 401K if you can.  Every little bit helps.  Better yet, get one of those jobs that pays scads of money, like movie star or hedge fund manager.

2. Live Within Your Means.  We’ve all heard this but spend much of our time either totally ignoring it or looking for loopholes.  Anyone can understand that you shouldn’t spend money you don’t have or incur bills you can’t pay.  That’s pretty basic stuff.  If you don’t understand that, there’s really no hope for you.  Even if you do understand, you aren’t out of the woods.  Read on.

3. Spend Your Own Money. Do you still have your parents around?  If so, good for you.  If they are good people, call and visit them often.  Be helpful to them.  Pay them back for the many years they cared for you.  Don’t mooch off them.  Maybe your parents are generous sorts and willingly give you money and things.  Here’s the deal:  If the only reason you go on vacation or have a car or a house is because your parents still provide for you, you don’t live within your means.  You live within their means.

Of course, many young people depend upon family to help them get started in life.   That’s fine.  If you’re 40 years old, you’re not a young person.  If you haven’t gotten your start yet, it ain’t happening.   Learn to support yourself.

You may be counting on your parents to actually fund your retirement.  That plan may well work.  Unfortunately, unless you mooch off them, it requires their deaths.  That’s a high price to pay to retire.  But, if that kind of thing doesn’t bother you, just look forward to the reading of the will.

It is equally wrong to plan to sponge off your children.  This is particularly true if you have already bled your parents dry.  Your children will be counting on you to support them forever, too.  A cataclysmic clash of cultures awaits sure to tear your family asunder for generations to come or, at the very least, leave you all pondering which unfortunate relatives upon which you can descend.

Another sure sign of not living within your means is borrowing money.  I’m not talking about loans for houses, cars or business reasons.  These are, to a great extent, unavoidable in today’s world.  Have you ever borrowed money to go on vacation?  Here’s a thought–STAY HOME.  How about a “pay day” loan where you can cash your paycheck before you get it?  Here’s word for you to learn:  USURY.

It is axiomatic that drug and gambling debts are red flags.  In fact, all debts are red flags.  If you can’t afford your lifestyle while you’re working, what are the chances you can afford it when you don’t work?

4. Require Others to Live Within Their Means. Nothing good can be said about loaning money to people for personal reasons.  Perhaps you are a business person and you do so as an investment.  Assuming you’ve done your due diligence, that’s a business decision.  Loaning money to people who just need money is like paying someone for doing nothing for you.  Naturally, it can be difficult to refuse a close friend or family member during hard times.  Here are a few responses which can gently dissuade such requests:

  • BWAHAHAHAHAHA!!!”
  • “What do I look like–a bank?”
  • “What do I look like–an idiot?”
  • “I’m just going to pretend that you never said anything.”

5. Save First, Spend Second.  This is a basic concept.  Save money, then spend–not vice versa. Why? Because we Americans tend to spend all our money.  We like to own things–or at the very least make payments on things.  Famed motorcycle daredevil and spendthrift Evel Knievel once said:

The country singer Garth Brooks once said that he’s made more money than he could ever spend.  Write me a check Garth – I’ll show you how to spend it in 24 hours.

That’s the American way.  It’s also the way to guarantee that you die at work.  Don’t die at work.

It’s Retirement, Stupid.  With these few guidelines, we can all retire if we have reasonable expectations.  You shouldn’t need as much money when you’re retired as you did when you worked.  This is especially true if you have children–that is, assuming they heed the no-mooching rule and get the hell out of your house at some point.

Do you plan to travel the world when you retire?  Good for you, but that takes money–a lot of money.  You can retire without living the lifestyle of a Kardashian.  Excuse my language, but if you can’t afford shit like that NOW, you probably can’t when you retire.  That’s okay, you can still retire.

Here’s what you do.  Work and save money and you should be okay.  Then again, maybe not.  There’s always the lottery.

 ©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2014

ATTENTION YOUNG PEOPLE: THINGS THEY WON’T TELL YOU

During this graduation season, I always have the urge to offer my unsolicited advice to young people.  Why?  Because that’s how I am.  I’m middle-aged and think I know everything. Of course, I don’t, but I do know more than most young people.  Young folks are bombarded with advice from parents, friends and even strangers.  Most of that advice is ignored.  That’s not necessarily bad.  Take a look at who’s offering the advice.  Could be that they don’t know what the hell they’re talking about it.

On the other, maybe they know a lot of stuff, but just pass on the same poor advice they received in their youth.  Strictly speaking, I’m not offering advice here, as much as I’m critiquing advice.  You’re going to be told things that either just aren’t true or are too simplistic.  Who tells you things?  They do, of course.  They know a lot and are anxious to tell you about it.  Watch them, though.  They may not be as smart as they think they are.

Here are five of those things they’ll tell you–and what they won’t say:

1.  HARD WORK PAYS OFF

Hey, I’ve got nothing against hard work.  In fact, if I were giving advice, I’d advise you to work hard.  It’s difficult to accomplish much unless you make some effort.  Here’s what they won’t tell you:  Just because you work hard doesn’t mean it will pay off.  Let’s say that you really aren’t very good at something, but you work hard.  Chances are that the more you work, the more mistakes you’ll make.  You’ll make a bad situation worse.

Another problem is that hard work simply doesn’t always pay off.  You know who works hard?  Farmers.  A lot of farmers barely get by.  Their hard work can get ruined by weather, insects, the economy or plain old bad luck. A lot of jobs are like that.  Just because you work hard doesn’t mean you’ll be the CEO or that your lazy boss will even care.  Sorry, but that’s true.

So, work hard, but work smart.  If your hard work gets you nowhere, then go somewhere else or do something else.

2.  YOU HAVE A SOUL MATE

Well-meaning people will tell you that you have a soul mate, that person that God or fate has selected for you.  This person, among all the people you meet, is The One.  Find this person, and you will live happily ever after.

Think about this.  There are 7 billion people on Earth–half male, half female. That’s 3.5 billion for you.  I’ll concede that some of those will be too young under societal taboos.  Let’s say there are a billion or two available to you.  So, somewhere among those billion or so people is one for you.  Only one.  Assuming you can actually cross paths with this one person, you’ll have to know it.  Then you’ll have to do something about it.  Complicating matters is that this person must also recognize his or her good fortune. If you’re bisexual, the odds getting even greater or maybe they’re better–I can’t figure it out.  Regardless, good luck with all of that.

Half of all marriages end in divorce.  This means we are woefully incompetent at finding our soul mates.  Our soul mates are also incompetent, because they should have found us, too.  It also means that God has a twisted sense of humor.  He made us a soul mate, yet made it damn near impossible to find that person.

3.  MONEY ISN’T IMPORTANT

They’ll tell you that happiness is better than money.  Of course, it is, but that doesn’t mean money isn’t important.  I’ve had times that I lived paycheck to paycheck and times I didn’t.  The times I didn’t were better.

The old saw tells us that money can’t buy happiness.  This is true, but it can buy comfort.  Comfort isn’t necessarily happiness but it sure helps.  It  can even make unhappiness a tad easier.  I say everyone should be happy.  But, if you can’t be happy, at least be comfortable.

All of this is much different from believing that money will actually make you unhappy.  Hey, I’ve known quite a few poor people, and they haven’t cornered the market on happiness, either.

There is a limit to the need for money.  Ponzi schemes, thievery and various forms of graft should be avoided, if for no other reason to avoid prison.  Prison will make you unhappy.

4. THIS IS THE BEST TIME OF YOUR LIFE

You’re a young adult.  You have your whole life ahead of you.  The world is your oyster.  This is the best time of your life.  Boy, I sure hope not.

What are you–18, 20 years old?  You should have 60+ more years left.  If this is the best time of your life, then you have a long slog to the grave ahead of you, assuming you even care to try.

By the way, you are an adult.  If you can vote, marry, sign contracts and join the military, that’s all for adults.  You also may not have a good job or be doing poorly in school or living in your parents’ basement.  If these are the best times for you, life is going to be tough.

I have to qualify this.  When is the best time of your life?  How should I know?  Actually, now should be, but now changes.  Now is the best time of my life, but I’m in my 50’s.  I intend for my 60’s to be the best, too.  Now matters.  I used to 18, but that was then.  So, maybe now is the best time of your life, but later should be too–except not right now.  Don’t peak at 18 years old.  There’s too much ground left to cover.

Is that confusing?  You bet it is.  Life is confusing.  When you’re my age, you’ll understand.

5. YOU CAN DO ANYTHING

This is the most dangerous advice you can receive, because it simply is not true.  You can’t or, at the very least, shouldn’t.  Oh, you can try.  (See Item No. 1 above).  You are likely to fail at certain things.  Most of us do.  Failure is temporary, unless you continue trying the same thing.  As you continue trying, at some point you become insane and then you really can’t do anything.

Have you ever heard this?  Failure is not an option.  Oh, how wrong that is.  Failure is always an option.

You may dream of being a professional athlete.  If you can’t do it, at some point you must stop trying.  The same applies to intellectual endeavors.  Maybe you’re not smart enough.  That’s not a sin.  It’s just a fact.

Bad luck is another stumbling block.  You might not get the opportunity to do whatever you want.  Paying bills, eating, living indoors and the like often take priority.

Here’s something that could happen.  You could end up with someone who is not your soul mate.  This person could be a mill stone around your neck keeping you from doing anything you want.  It happens.

You also might have really crappy judgment.  The things you want to do may be terrible ideas.  Mobile meth labs, amateur pornography and random death threats are examples.  Yes, you may well be able to do these things, but you’ll wish you hadn’t.

CONCLUSION

So, what’s my point?  I don’t really have one.  That’s one luxury of getting old.  You can talk and talk and make no sense, but people feel like they need to listen.  Now, go out there and work hard, find your soul mate, ignore money and do anything you want to do.  This is the best time of your life or so they say.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2014

 

Staring Into The Abyss: Street Life

 “Battle not with monsters lest ye become a monster; and if you gaze into the abyss the abyss gazes into you.” Friedrich Nietzsche

I recently spent a few days in Washington, D.C. I have been to our Capital before, but this time I had a few hours to play tourist. Two of my law partners and I strolled the National Mall and surrounding area. Seeing the Capitol, White House, museums and other landmarks, one of my partners noted that it made her proud of her country. Indeed, one would have to be a jaded American not to feel the same way. I know I did.

I was in Washington on business. I had been asked to speak at a conference at the United States Department of Labor. Such things, of course, make one a big deal.

As we walked from our fabulous hotel two blocks from Capitol Hill, we approached several workers preparing for their day. They wore hard hats, boots, work gloves and those reflective vests which one hopes draw the attention of distracted drivers. These men were assembling scaffolding on the sidewalk and running industrial extension cords for whatever project awaited them.

As we neared the workers, I noticed that were negotiating their way around several piles of trash on the sidewalk. I thought it was a shame that among all those impressive sights, our nation’s capital couldn’t keep its sidewalks clean.

Then I saw the feet. They were sticking out from under a pile of carpet felt. Then I saw another pair beneath a pile of rags and plastic. Between the feet was a body. Wedged between two buildings was another man, swaddled in rags and staring blankly. These could have been corpses or garbage, but they weren’t. They were people–men huddled against the elements, awaiting nothing.

My concern that morning was that my feet hurt from the previous day’s sight-seeing. I also had my talk to give. This, of course, was very important, too.  I was living a world away from those fellows.

The day before, I had walked by that same spot and noted that the building housed the Mitch Snyder Arts and Education Center for the Homeless. I’m embarrassed to admit that my reaction had been to dismiss this as foolishness. What kind of do-gooder thinks the homeless need art? I even cracked a joke about it to one of my partners.  This Mitch Snyder must have been some rich guy who thought art would help.  How about some beds?

When we walked back to our hotel several hours later, the scene was much the same.  The workers were still working.  The piles of humans were still there, too.  Pedestrians disinterestedly passed both.  We crossed to the other side of the street.  On that side, those piles didn’t exist.

It struck me that’s how my life works.  I live in suburbia.  I have a job.  And a family.   Those men don’t exist in my world, although even in the college town of Lexington, Kentucky, I am no more than a 15 minute drive from them.

Who are these people?  Most assuredly, they are wracked by some combination of mental illness, addiction and poverty.  We know that many of them are military veterans–the same men we breathlessly laud for their service to our country, reduced to nothing so much as refuse.  In fact, one would expect common garbage to be removed from the sidewalk.  People, it seems, are a necessary evil.

At this point, one might muse “There but for the grace of God go I,” the well-known idiom attributed to 16th century martyr John Bradford as he saw prisoners being led to execution.  How many of us really believe that?  Not many, I suspect.  You may be imbued with an arrogance that you are somehow protected.  Family, friends and God will shield you from this fate.

I no longer believe that I am either graced or protected.   At the risk of offending my readers, I have no use for a God who arbitrarily graces me while He curses my brothers.  If I embrace that I am so special then I must also accept that others–through no fault of their own–have been ignored or even damned by that same God.

Those men on the street have families.  They are sons, siblings-even parents.  They have had friends and lovers.  Each story is different but all share a common thread.  Somewhere, somehow, they fell to the point where I saw them in Washington or in Las Vegas on New Years Day this year or here in Lexington.

I learned about some of these men from a friend of mine.  He lived this same life years ago.  Born to parents who neither wanted nor loved him, he suffered a childhood of abuse and neglect.  In his teens, he was homeless and a budding alcoholic and addict. Into adulthood, mental illness gripped him as he drifted from town to town unable to hold a job or establish anything most of us would call a “life.”

The good news is that my friend overcame his addictions and for several years worked and made a life for himself.  Fate, though, can be cruel.  In the past few years, as he approached middle age, my friend suffered disabling illness which has threatened to take away this life.  He gets along as best he can with the help of friends and doctors, and is grateful for all he now has, as meager as it may seem to me.  Yet, he will occasionally look at me and ask:  “What did I ever do to deserve this?”  I have no answer. Now, when I consider all that I have in my life, I ask the same question.  I have the same answer.

What of Mitch Snyder?  My judgment was wrong.  I have since learned that he may well have been the greatest advocate the American homeless ever had.  He is credited with forcing the District of Columbia–largely by public shaming–into providing shelters for the homeless.  A common tactic was to publicize the funerals of those who froze to death on DC’s streets.  His public fasting directly led to the donation of an empty Federal building as a 1400 bed homeless shelter–the largest in America.  In the end, Snyder couldn’t conquer his own demons.  In 1990, at age 46, he hanged himself in that shelter.   His Community for Creative Non-Violence continues his work.

For all his efforts, I suppose Snyder never conquered homelessness, either.  Don’t ask me for the answers.  I still wonder why I have so much while others have so little.  I do know that money alone isn’t enough.  If you think this can be remedied by handing out checks or jobs, I disagree.  Visit one of your local homeless shelters and talk to the residents.  Few can handle money, much less a job.  We can do better offering them food and shelter, but that can be limited help.  My friend told me that always avoided shelters because they were “too dangerous.”

Snyder was right when he thought that those men on the street should enrage the public, but they don’t.  They make  us sad, even a tad guilty perhaps, but few of us rage against it.  Even worse, a fair number of us condemn such people as drains on society, symbols of those who can’t–or won’t–take advantage of all our great country has to offer.  This is, after all, the Land of Opportunity.  Each man and woman can do anything he or she sets out to do.  If that comforts you or eases your guilt, go on believing it.  I’ve come to believe that opportunity isn’t doled out equally nor is success measured the same for everyone.  For too many, survival equals success.

A person born to my circumstances has little excuse for failure, while my friend mentioned above can easily be forgiven.  I’m not naïve enough to think that we can eradicate homelessness anymore than I would believe that we can assure success for everyone.  Nor do I think my observations are great revelations.  It’s not like I just discovered this problem, but I don’t think I’ll see it the same again.  Something about the juxtaposition of my privileged stroll down the street with men living on that sidewalk gave me new perspective.

If nothing else, the next time I’m patting myself on the back for something, perhaps I’ll consider those men.  No one’s life is easy.  We all have our trials.  I suppose we all run the same race, but many of us had a head start.

©2014 http://www.thetrivialtroll.com

Twenty Signs You Are A Liberal…Or Not

Are you a liberal?  If so, there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s just that the world is confusing these days; thus, you could be misjudging yourself.  Some people say I’m liberal.  Liberals don’t say that.  They say I’m a reactionary capitalist.  It confuses me.  I’ve always been the type that had difficulty figuring myself out.  If you ask:   “How are you?”  I might respond:  “I don’t know.  You tell me.”

John F. Kennedy was considered a liberal, but I think he’d be a conservative today.  Ronald Reagan is king of the conservatives, but he might be a liberal now.  Who knows?  I do know that there are definite signs of liberalism, but even those are confusing.

So, I’ve tried to identify the tell-tale signs of liberalism–those traits which expose a closeted liberal to the harsh light of day.  These same traits could mean something entirely different, too.  It’s all still confusing, but this won’t stop me from making broad and reckless generalizations.

With all this in mind, any of the following characteristics could make you a liberal–then again, maybe not:

  1. You have a beard (ladies included, of course).  If you have a beard because you live in an underground bunker, you’re probably not.
  2. You compost your bodily wastes.  See bunker comment above.
  3. You don’t bathe regularly.  If it’s because you are in prison for insider trading, you’re probably not.
  4. You draw a check for doing nothing.  If your check comes from a trust fund, you’re probably not.
  5. You have a ponytail.  If it is on an actual pony you bought your daughter, you’re probably not.
  6. You refuse to shop at Wal-Mart.  Okay, this cuts both ways.
  7. Your car is covered in bumper stickers.  If any of those sticker say OBUMMER, you’re not.
  8. You support higher taxes.  If you support higher taxes only on people who don’t pay taxes, you’re probably not.
  9. You believe in big government.  If you don’t consider the military part of the government, you’re probably not.
  10. You’re anti-war.  If your anti-war stance applies only to you personally not being in a war, you probably aren’t.
  11. You’re a socialist.  If you don’t know what a socialist is, you’re probably not.
  12. You’re a communist.  No counter-point here.  All communists are liberals and vice versa usually.
  13. You hate Ted Nugent.  If you only hate him because he plays that blasted Rock and Roll music, you’re probably not.
  14. You are smarter than everyone else.  If you really are smarter than everyone else, well…you’re smart enough to  know the answer.
  15. You hate all religions.  If you hate all religions except your own, you aren’t.
  16. You own a cat.  If the cat is food for your hyena, you aren’t.
  17. You support universal healthcare.  If your support is limited by your belief that Earth is not part of the universe, you aren’t.
  18. You belong to a minority group.  If that minority group is the Mega Billionaire Club, you probably aren’t.
  19. You hate Ann Coulter.  If it’s because she won’t respond to your letters, you’re not.
  20. You don’t own a gun.  If you don’t own one because of some mental health issue, you’re probably aren’t.  Then again, you might be.  It’s hard to say, really.

Under my proprietary and quite arbitrary scoring system, here are your test results based upon the number of signs which apply to you:

5 or less:  You are not liberal.  If you think you are, you have been living a lie.

6-10:  You have definite liberal leanings.  Keep them to yourself around your conservative friends.

11-15:  You are a dangerous, free-thinking leftist.

16-20:  Total Fidel Castro-loving, Marxist pinko.  Or not.

See? It’s pretty simple.  Or not.

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2014

My Reality TV Gold

I’m an idea man. That means I think about things and don’t accomplish a whole lot. Imagine Steve Jobs without the intelligence and work ethic. For instance, I’d like to have a universal TV remote control implanted in my brain. I’m sure it can be done, but I just can’t get started on it.

I watch a lot of TV. Many of my friends harrumph “I don’t watch TV, except CSPAN. I’m too busy re-reading the classics.” Well, good for you. You’re missing out, my pseudo-intellectual friend.

Sports are on TV. The great film Road House is often on. There are news programs, comedies, horror movies, history programs and, of course, Reality TV.

Reality TV is just TV without actors. You take non-actors and film them doing stuff. It helps if your stars are mentally impaired, already famous, or have odd physical anomalies. Generally strange lifestyles such as survivalism, obscure religions and polygamy are also pluses.

Reality TV falls into two broad categories. One is slice of life programming ranging from the curious world of Honey Boo Boo to the insufferable largesse of the Kardashian family. The other category is the competitions such as singing, dancing and survivalism.

TV producers love Reality TV because it’s cheap–no actors, no sets and very little scripting. Of course, there are scripts. After all, if we really followed someone’s life we’d watch them make beds, pay bills and nap. We have to have a little structure for entertainment purposes.

With all this in mind, I’ve been thinking, as I’m wont to do, about my own reality shows. I have several ideas, and they are all solid gold.

AMISH CSI

We take a young Amish man (probably named Yoder) and set him off during Rumspringa to be trained as a crime scene investigator. Yoder incorporates his Amish ways into modern crime-fighting, using saw dust to dust for fingerprints and drawings instead of demonic photography.

Yoder returns to Pennsylvania Dutch Country to fight crime among the Anabaptists.  Each week we follow him as solves a new mystery such as horse thievery, buggy vandalism and the use of electricity.   Violent crimes are not excepted, either.  He can investigate forced shavings and other such outrages.  I’ll figure it out as we go along.  Remember:  The Amish are entertaining regardless of what they are doing.

132 POUND SCROTUM GUY

Anyone who follows me on the various social media knows my admiration of The Learning Channel Special, The Man With the 132 Pound Scrotum.  I’m a big fan, not as big as his scrotum, but big nonetheless.  I was equally parts fascinated and horrified.  Why?  Well, the guy had a freakin’ 132 pound scrotum!!  How about that?

In my show, we follow him around with a camera and record his adventures.  Okay, I know the guy got the scrotum thing fixed (Thank God!).  I would never suggest that he regrow it just for my TV show (unless he really wants to).  We can fit him a lifelike prosthetic scrotum to duplicate the real one.

We can get him a job in various Reality TV occupations such as pawn shop owner or commercial fisherman.  Hilarity and horror will ensue, because of–well, you know–the giant scrotum situation.  Perhaps we can even turn him into a Doomsday prepper just to see if anyone would be willing to share his shelter with him.

Did I mention that he had a 132 pound scrotum?  People will tune in just to see that.

DANCING WITH THE DWARVES (DWARFS?)

Everyone loves little people.  They used to be called midgets, but I understand that is now a pejorative term.  I think “dwarf” is still okay, but it sounds worse than midget.  By the way, is it “dwarves” or “dwarfs?”  I don’t know. Spellcheck says it’s “wharves.”  I’m pretty sure that’s wrong.) Anyway, if that, too, is offensive we’ll change the title, although we lose a certain alliteration.

This one is simple.  It’s just a dance competition among little people  Here’s the twist:  Their dance partners are non-little people professional dancers.  (I hesitate to say “normal” sized. After all, that infers that the little people are abnormal.  I don’t want to alienate my core audience).  Wouldn’t you  watch little people dance madly about trying to keep up with their larger partners? OR we could have professional little people dancers try to teach clumsy big people how to dance.  Either way, it’s ratings gold.

SISTER WIVES AND BROTHER HUSBANDS

The History Channel’s R. Lee Ermey marries Here Comes Honey Boo Boo’s Mama June, Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson, Chloe Kardashian and Flavor Flav.  They all move into a house together.  I don’t have anything else figured out for this yet, but you’d watch it.

NAKED AND GAY

This is perhaps my most controversial idea.  Homosexuals have long been feared, yet quite entertaining.  From Broadway musicals to figure skating, they have provided endless hours of joy for heterosexuals who are otherwise are terrified of them–much like our African-American friends were viewed a generation or so ago.

I’m tired of this.  I want to create a fascinating gay reality show intended to both entertain and horrify.  Each week, we take a couple of gay men, the more flamboyant the better (think of a gayer version of skater Johnny Weir).  We then strip them naked and place them in various survival scenarios.  (Alright, they don’t have to be naked–unless they want to be, in which case I’m perfectly okay with it.)

I’d prefer gay men for show–not because I’m gay or anything, not there’s anything wrong with that.  It’s just that the world of pornography has worked many years to mainstream lesbians.  Gay men, on the other hand, remain feared and loathed, what with their awesome Gay Agenda which they pass out to people on the street.

We’ll send them to gun shows, Tea Party rallies,  NFL locker rooms, church services, Arizona–anywhere we can think of that they might be unwelcome.  They can announce things like “Hey! We’re gay people!  We’re here to turn you and your children and grandchildren all gay like we are!”  They can make out with each other.  Maybe we’ll even send a minister to marry them on the show.  As long as they gay it up good, I’m fine with it.

Controversy notwithstanding, I realize there’s not much of story line here.  I mostly just want to annoy people.  This will probably do it.

These are just five ideas.  I have many more.  We can take a bed-ridden, morbidly obese person and have him or her live in the wild with Bear Grylls for a week.  How about someone with a hideous deformity trying to become a country music star? What if Gary Busey and Bob Dole travel across the country on Route 66 on motorcycles?  Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, Willie Aames and the Kid from Deliverance form a Christian Alt-Folk band?  The Bachelor, starring Abe Vigoda? Let’s set up a camera in prison and hope that we see Jerry Sandusky get violently abused.

I’m running out of ideas now.  I’ve been thinking about something like a microwave, only it freezes things really fast….

©www.thetrivialtroll.com 2014

MY PERFECT POKE SALLET RECIPE

Spring is just around the corner. Soon, the daffodils and cherry blossoms will bloom and young men’s thoughts will turn to love. Some, though, will think of poke.  I’m one not of them, but I’m sure some people are ready to pick poke or whatever it is you do to harvest it.

Some of you ask: What the cuss is he talking about it? What is poke? I’ve written about it before. Read this. It will tell you all you need to know.

If you’ve read this blog before, you know that I grew up in Harlan County, Kentucky–the very heart of Appalachia. We like poke so much that we have an annual festival in its honor.

When I originally wrote about poke, I drew some mild rebukes for my perceived criticism. Well-meaning folks told me that I was misguided. It has caused me to reconsider my views.

My mother was a home economics teacher, and she taught me more than a little bit about cooking. I have now applied these skills to the issue of poke. Rather than dismiss this weed as foul and unpalatable, perhaps I should find a way to create my own culinary masterpiece. Thus, I present the perfect poke recipe.

First, you’ll need a mess of poke. How much is a mess? One pokeful should be sufficient. You’ll also need a pot of water, a raw onion and vinegar.  A double sink would also be helpful.

Thoroughly wash poke in cold water-or don’t. It doesn’t really matter.

Much like marijuana, remove all stems. In fact, smoking some of it while you cook may not be a bad idea.

Bring water to boil.

Place poke in boiling water.  You may also place poke in which poke is gathered into boiling water for added flavor.

Boil poke.

When poke reaches a consistency somewhere between algae and human baby excrement, it may be done. The smell should also approximate algae and/or fecal matter.

Drain poke in colander.

Look at poke.  Vomit in poke-tainted side of sink (This is where the double sink is important.  You do not want poke vomit in part of sink where dishes may be placed).

CAUTION:  DO NOT LEAVE PREPARED POKE WITHIN REACH OF CHILDREN OR PETS, LEST ACCIDENTAL INGESTION TAKE PLACE.  IN THAT EVENT, NATURAL GAG REFLEX SHOULD INDUCE IMMEDIATE VOMITING.  IF NOT, FEED VICTIM MORE POKE.

Open window and throw poke water into yard.  WARNING:  Poke water may contaminate ground water supplies or result in the actual growing of poke.  The author disclaims any responsibility for roaming hill jacks picking poke in your yard.  

Place prepared poke in toilet.  Flush repeatedly until all contents are expelled.  In cooking, this is known as “eliminating the middle man.”  In this case, the “middle man” is your digestive system.

Eat raw onion washed down with tall glass of vinegar in effort to erase memory of poke cooking.

So, there you have it. Bon apetit!

©www.thetrivialtroll.com