Tuesday, July 17, 2018

John O. Brennan

Donald Trump’s press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of “high crimes & misdemeanors.” It was nothing short of treasonous. Not only were Trump’s comments imbecilic, he is wholly in the pocket of Putin. Republican Patriots: Where are you???
11:52 AM · Jul 16, 2018

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Wow. By the highlights the WC final does not look to have been well-played. On France's first, the own goal, the ball had not "skimmed off" Mandzukic’s head. He deliberately, wrong-headedly but deliberately, headed it.

Croatia's first goal was a beauty, a rocketing worm killer.

On the PK, Perisic definitely moved his left arm down toward the incoming ball which struck his hand the arm skin vibrated. The American color commentator immediately said, "That's a hand ball." It was not, as The Guardian wrote, "a borderline VAR decision."

Pogba had one shot blocked at close range by a Croat defender but the ball bounced right back to him and he immediately fired again. The poor Croatian goalkeeper was just getting reset and fell back helplessly.

Croatia's last:France's goalkeeper Lloris kicked the ball right to Mandzukic at point-blank range. The American commentator, "What is he doing?"

The match reminded me of Liverpool's bird pump against Madrid in the Champs League. 

France seal second World Cup triumph with 4-2 win over brave Croatia

(The Guardian)

I missed him yesterday NOT! Menachem didn't play him at all yesterday.
...Oh geez, it's over already...

France DESTROYED Croatia 4-2 to win the World Cup. "Destroyed": their first goal was an ownsie, their second a penalty. They led 4-1 before Croatia got their second and last. Ha! Mario Mandzukic was responsible for both the own goal and Croatia's too-little-too-late. Griezmann, Pogba, and Mbappe had France's other goals...I thought this thing started at 2, no?

My Dinner with Andrew

“And how is ‘Lia?” I asked of my friend.

“The same.” Andrew replied.

I hesitated at the ambiguity. I thought my sequential query would elicit another gay report as it had Carmen and Lucas. Same as what?

“What is she up to?” was the way I chose to proceed.

“Oh, going to school, senior, getting ready to go to college for art.”

“You guys are so creative, so inventive, your whole family. Where’s she going to go?”

“Far away from me, maybe Pasadena like Lucas. New York…” He trailed off. Far away from me could be interpreted two ways. I chose one.

“Oh, Drew. She’ll come back” which was not what I wanted to say and amended run-on fashion.

“She will visit, you and Gayle will visit, she’s a plane ticket away; you’re an empty nester!” No, I regretted that last and decided to append “She’ll always be your baby girl.”

There was a moment’s pause where I thought there should be an affirming “Yeah, you’re right.”

“I thought she was!” he said with an uncomfortable laugh.

“I thought, unlike with Carmen and Lucas who I know we made mistakes with, I thought I had been the perfect dad to Olivia and thought she was the perfect girl. I still think she’s the perfect girl” he quickly added. “But I ruined her childhood. She’s moving away from me.”

How-the-fuck-did-I-get-myself-into-this? Thought bubble to self. How-do-I-get-myself-out-of-it?

“You ruined her childhood? Andrew, put down your crack pipe, you didn’t ‘ruin’ anybody’s childhood. I don’t want to hear it, what are you talking about?” WHY-did-I-say-that-last? Because-although I don't-want-to-hear-it he-wants-to-tell-me.

“She said it herself. Told me right to my face. Was specific as to instances and they were true. Said her memory of me growing up was that I was always ‘drunk and angry’ that anything could set me off and she didn’t know when and was an anxious wreck around me.”

All said with a hearty, uncomfortable laugh.

“Andrew, those things are not true…”

He cut me off.

“…I was not drunk AND angry--at the same time--around her but I drank and I was angry at separate
times.” Andrew-always-had-a-bottle-of-beer-in-his-hand-never-saw-him-drunk-though-had-been-arrested-for-a-violent-
misdemeanor-was-taken-to-jail-he-and-Gayle-had-separated-imagine-there-were-fights. Lightening thoughts.

“She’s seeing a shrink for depression and anxiety and has been prescribed Zoloft.”

I felt a ringing sensation in my brain. I could not speak.

“She said, ‘Dad, do you remember that father-daughter dance my freshman year? I felt terrible but the next year when you asked me about it I told you they weren’t having one because I had so much anxiety about being around you.’ And that was true, I had asked her about it and she had told me they weren’t having it that year.”

I felt nauseous.

“I had no idea, Ben.”

He gave out a loud sob, we were sitting at the bar in a restaurant, I glanced to see if people noticed, a few heads were turned but it was a loud restaurant. He then wept silently but heavily, his shoulders heaving, but no one was looking. I put my arm on his shoulder then thinking that would attract attention, my hand on his back, then thinking even that would attract attention if it went on, gave him a squeeze and a pat and withdrew my hand. After a few seconds he stopped. He took off his glasses and rubbed his red eyes with a paper napkin. One of the waitresses noticed. He put his glasses back on.

The pathos was 3-G’s heavy. I had to lighten it. So-other-than-that-Mrs Lincoln-how-was-the-theater?

“So, other than that how's 'Lia doing?” smiling. That worked. He immediately laughed a hearty, tickled laugh.
Our food came. It was perfect timing. I needed time to think. What was my role here? How was I to navigate between the Scylla of Olivia’s feelings and the Charybdis of Andrew’s? I decided I needed more information and took a bite of food.

“Andrew, let me ask you something, I thought you gave up drinking.”

“I DID! I calculated it one it time. It has been 3,315 days, NINE YEARS! since I gave up drinking and in those nine years I have had a drink on SIX occasions. But five of them were around Olivia.”

I could feel myself getting pissed.

"Then where did she get this from?" Legitimately info-seeking, not a question in advocacy. “Did you get drunk around her?”

“NEVER! Not on those five occasions OR AT ANY OTHER TIME! When I was drinking every night I was drinking around her BUT NEVER GOT DRUNK AND NEVER LOST MY TEMPER AT HER! Around her, yes, 3-4 times.”

I leaned back in disgust forgetting I was on a bar stool and almost fell to the floor. He did not see that the lean back was in disgust and I was glad because I don’t think disgust, although disgusted I felt, was the appropriate reaction to show, too “argumentative,” “Judge, I move to dismiss the case for lack of evidence.” Olivia’s reaction WAS reality based, her depression and anxiety WERE real, she was being prescribed a heavy-duty anti-depressant, I could not show disgust. I could not take Andrew's side.

“Have you two talked it out? Yes, right? You told me she told you all of this."

"Oh, yes. I confessed. Once she gave me a statement of particulars it was all true. She said she had already forgiven me but she doesn't want to be around me. That's why she is moving away."

I thought I was going to vomit. I couldn't look at my plate.

"Oh my God, Drew, I am so sorry," but catching myself: "You cannot undo what you did. You did not know any of this was effecting ‘Lia as it was?”

“No, I did not.”

“You did not know?” I wanted to make sure. How could he not know?

“No. I thought we had a perfect relationship. We had so much fun.”

“Did anybody else say anything to you? Like Gayle? I know I never saw any of this.”

“Not about my drinking. The losses of temper, of course. I didn’t need to be told that those caused her anxiety.”

“Did you ever direct your anger toward her?”

“NO! That’s the thing. When she first told me all this I pushed back against it because I had never raised a hand or my voice at that child, never even gave her a time out!”

“I didn’t think you had. But of course she is still going to see it.”

I picked at my food.

“Gayle and I DID argue and scream at each other, that was around the kids and of course, we had a very difficult time with Carmen and especially Lucas and Olivia saw all of that. She told me she felt she had to be perfect to make up for Gayle and Carmen and Luca, that she didn’t have the luxury to
be a child, to be less than perfect.”

“I see,” and threw back my head. It all made sense now and I felt I was master of the case and where it stood was Andrew had ruined Olivia’s childhood. I had to accept that as fact but had a difficult time
accepting it as fact. I had to force myself to accept that as fact. Andrew had done it unintentionally and had very few indications of it, none that he had “ruined her childhood" but he had. What do I say
now? I thought to restate the case.

“You accept that you did ruin Olivia’s childhood.” Oh-god-this-was-a-mistake. “She has forgiven you but it sounds like her forgiveness is more an intellectualizing. She is still moving away from you.”

I aborted mission. He had ruined his child’s childhood, that didn’t need to be restated, he already knew that, and now the rest of his life was going to be a living hell. One cannot undo the past—nor the future consequences of one’s past conduct.

"This is like putting lipstick on a pig but she is perfect, she turned out perfect, you get a sort of lipstick-on-a pig-credit for having raised a perfect daughter. Despite you, I understand, but still...” Did-I-have-to-add-that?-Did-I-HAVE-to-add-that.

I had to re-abort.

“Andrew, how else can you look at this? What can you do now? You don’t love her any less, you’ll continue to love her and you’ll support her in therapy. She has forgiven you and that means she still loves you.” Wince-forgiveness-does-not-mean-love.-You-are-a-weak-sniveling-coward.-What-are-you-going-to-say-next,-"Leave-it-in-God's-hands?"

"Kids are like the pottery barn rule," I said to partially undo my cowardice, "You break it, you own it."

"You're right about that!" Andrew replied.

I left it at that and called for the check. I had hardly touched my food.

On the way home I thought of what I would have said if I had been true to my feelings.

“Andrew, what else are you going to do? How else can you look at this? Seriously, you are totally fucked. You may have lost her. You know it, I know it. You can do one of two things: Kill yourself. Or take it, feel it, every day of your life feel it, never forget it, taking responsibility and affirming the legitimacy Olivia’s feelings is true love. Don’t try to paper it over, don’t try to forget it, those are denials that will hurt her more. Love her, and hope she gets the help she needs…I don’t know what I would do but I am recommending to you the latter.” 

Saturday, July 14, 2018

Vladimir Nabokov urged students at Cornell to appreciate Bleak House as art, and to appreciate Charles Dickens as artist, "enchanter." As a storyteller, Nabokov said of Dickens:

At its worse, Bleak House reveals the storyteller stumbling now and then...

That is so true on both counts and may have been said with equal force of David Copperfield. One could not tell either book as a story, there are multiple stories in each and Dickens does stumble in telling them all in one book. The shame of it is that there are several real good books in the subplots of each with memorably drawn characters ready for prime time. The shame of it is that Dickens could have been a great storyteller! The Steerforth-Rosa Dartle-somebody else triangle in David Copperfield: that's a whole book. A great story and a seperate, thinner book. Instead, we are introduced to Steerforth and Rosa early on and then poof! they're gone for hundreds of pages. The Smallweed family in Bleak House: Oh my God, three of my favorite characters, hilariously drawn by Dickens. There is no reason they needed to be interwoven with Jarndyce and Jarndyce. None. At all.

For most readers, then and now, Dickens was so popular because of his characters. Then and now, chances are when you give an example to a friend to explain why you like Bleak House or David Copperfield, you will tell them about your favorite characters. You can't tell them the story, there is no coherent story, you tell them your favorite scene.

Dickens knew this and my hunch is that he wrote in as many different characters as he could think of and the story be damned. 

Mr. Dick

This character in David Copperfield is brain damaged. He is, as a result, a simpleton, childish, lacks verbal skills, is obsessed with his memorial to King Charles I, possesses intuitive empathy.
                                                                 Yes, that is Mr. Dick.

Until, that is, Chapter XLV beginning on page 542.

Addressing Copperfield,

"You couldn't speak to me without inconveniencing yourself, Trotwood, I am afraid?"

No. Mr. Dick does not talk like that. 
"Now, boy," said Mr. Dick, "I am going to put a question to you." 

On an earlier reading I circled boy in black. Mr. Dick would not address David Copperfield aka Trotwood as "boy."

"What do you consider me, sir?" asked Mr. Dick, folding his arms.

"Folding his arms" is to indicate that Mr. Dick is smarter than David, has a secret. No. Mr. Dick is not smarter than David. Two sentences before Mr. Dick had addressed Copperfield as "boy." Now, sir. No. NO! Fail.

"A dear old friend," said I.

"Thank you, Trotwood, returned Mr. Dick, and reaching across in high glee to shake hands with me."But I mean, boy," resuming his gravity, "what do you consider me in this respect?" touching his forehead.
"Weak?" said Mr. Dick.
"Well," I replied, dubiously. "Rather so." 
"Exactly!" cried Mr. Dick...

NO! Mr. Dick does not have insight into his condition. 
"In short, boy," said Mr. Dick, dropping his voice to a whisper, "I am simple." 

Black circle by moi.
"Then, I have got it, boy!" said Mr. Dick.

The eureka moment for a person who didn't get eureka moments. Circle, margin note, Mr. Dick wouldn't talk like this.

There is an illustration accompanying "Then, I have got it, boy.":

That is not the Mr. Dick of the preceding 541 pages. That looks like Mr. Micawber:

This is the Mr. Dick from earlier chapters.

                                                              Sitting in corner at right.

With his kite.

Dickens lost control of this character. It is as if he forgot how he had drawn Mr. Dick in the previous 541 pages. And that's a FAIL!
David falls in love with his boss's daughter, Dora Spenlow, at first sight. And, quite frankly, we're not quite sure why.
Dora's father, Mr. Spenlow, is unaware of their courtship...and demands that David forgets the whole thing. But then, Mr. Spenlow suddenly dies...So, while Mr. Spenlow is alive, David can't marry Dora. And once Mr. Spenlow dies, David immediately (and symbolically) takes Mr. Spenlow's place as Dora's caretaker. He spoils her and fusses over her as though her were her father as well her fiancé. And it's, well, a little weird. 
[David is] such a young man himself that he's not ready to be married to such a dependent woman, in need of being spoiled and cared for all the time the way Dora does. Still, despite these concerns, Dora and David get married. 
Dora miscarries and slides into the long illness that will eventually kill her...the whole Dora episode leaves a bit of a bad taste in our mouths...

And that's the other thing: Dickens does not even kill Dora good. The miscarriage did not kill her, a "long illness" killed her. What is this "long illness"? She's a teenager! Healthy as a horse! Brains to match. 

I agree with everything "Shmoop" wrote there. Dora is a ridiculous, superfluous character who Dickens should have aborted rather than bring to life and then unconvincingly snuff out.

I have had this thought before with Bleak House, even researched it a bit one time. These long novels get away from Dickens. There are sooo many characters, so many barely overlapping sub-plots I wondered if he wasn't on some stimulant that over-stimulated him.

Another example is Mr. Dick, next.

An empty wooden ship washed up in Japan — and it looks like another mysterious North Korean ‘ghost ship’


An empty, overturned wooden boat has been found drifting off Japan's western coast, and it could mark the start of another flood of "ghost ships" from North Korea to wash up on Japan's shores.
One hundred and four "ghost ships"— vessels discovered with no living crew — were found along Japan's shores last year, the highest since authorities started collecting data in 2013. Many were found with dead bodies in them, whlie others were empty.

Faux Pelini

have him call me I have an idea for a defense argument

Miami man with no arms charged with stabbing tourist http://dlvr.it/QbFTFM 
8:08 PM - 11 Jul 2018

I have a question which I direct into the ether. Why did Charles Dickens introduce the absurd Dora Spenlow character only to kill her off? Did he come to have doubts about her as he was writing? Then why not excise her out entirely? David Copperfield would have been improved by the subtraction. I have read this book a couple of times and am perusing it again and from first reading I have wondered about Dora Spenlow. David Copperfield was Dickens own favorite of his novels, it is autobiographical; was one of Dickens' own wives or loves Dora-like? Deary me, I hope not. The "child-wife" diminishes the Copperfield character and, to the extent Dora was a caricature of a real woman in Dickens' life, diminishes Dickens moreso. She is Exhibit A in the feminist critique of Dickens, instantiating the proposition that Dickens did not write women well because he could not write women. I do not find that proposition carried, not in a book also with Betsey Trotwood, but I cannot defend Charles Dickens against the charge on Dora Spenlow. 

Friday, July 13, 2018



DOES MENACHEM ONLY PLAY CROONOWITZ WHEN I'M HOME? I've only heard Croonowitz when I'm home! (heh-heh-heh-heh) Does he like watch for my car to pull in? "Ah! He's home early today. Uh-uh-uh-uh." One time he did call to me from the balcony, "Benyamin, new car!"

Did Rosenstein deliberately announce the indictments of the Russians today to coincide with Trump's meeting with QEII? Deliberately before Trump met with Putin?

John Kidd-Jack Hitt?

LeBron James reportedly spends $1.5 million to take care of his body 

(Business Insider)

We are so much alike, LeBron James and I.


If this is a ‘witch hunt,’ it sure is finding a lot of witches
(Paul Waldman, WaPo)

"Russians Targeted Clinton’s “Personal Office” On Same Day Trump Called on Russia to Find Her Personal Emails, Indictment Says"-Slate

"Europeans Believe Trump's Agenda Is to Divide and Conquer."-NYT

Just Like Putin!

...they have begun to believe that...there is a strategy: to undercut European solidarity in NATO and the European Union so the United States can exercise its economic and military power to shape relations with individual countries, just as China and Russia seek to do.
...Europeans are now convinced that Mr. Trump has an agenda that is inimical to their interests, said François Heisbourg, a French political analyst. 
...Tomas Valasek, the director of Carnegie Europe...said, "He wants to pit countries against one another and use U.S. power and wealth against the others for his advantage.”
...European leaders made little effort to engage with Mr. Trump, chatting to one another while Mr. Trump walked along with the Turkish president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a semiauthoritarian outsider.
...Sigmar Gabriel, the former German foreign minister, said...“We cannot delude ourselves anymore. Donald Trump only knows strength. So we have to show him that we are strong.”

Sincerely, this is Putin too. There are no differences.

Mueller Indicts 12 More Russians--In Hacking of Democrats

32 people and three companies have been indicted by Mueller. 14 Russians and three Trumpists have already pled guilty. Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein announced the indictments at the same time Trump was meeting with QEII, creating split screen split personality TV. Trump is then leaving Britain to meet his campaign manager in Moscow.
"I did it...my...way."

He has started early today. Just my luck. Ah, Friday the 13th.

Windows are open. Menachem, it's fucking too hot outside to have the windows open.

Now, "It's...just...impossible, impossi-ble-ble-ble"...Never heard so pronounced a trill as this. Or a slower anything.

..."Unforgettable you-ou-ou."

Maybe this is inoculation against a 4:30-ish performance. Maybe he's trying to get his fix in before sundown when he can't use mechanical devices. Or maybe this is a marathon. :( Maybe he is trying to drive his goyem friend insane. Maybe I was too hasty putting my shoulder-launched, sound-seeking missile on ebay.
It is Friday the 13th and Trump is in Britain.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Day the Music Was Reborn.

Croonowitz is back. I thought it was safe to write the earlier. It wasn't.

The Day the Music Died

You expect to hear your neighbors living in a condominium: talking, laughing, arguing, parties, music. But I live in a condo of largely older Orthodox Jews in a neighborhood known as Little Israel (I think they approved me because they were confused by "Benjamin." Common mistake.). My neighbors are quiet as synagogue mice. I have heard music played by two neighbors in 15 years, occasionally by a young woman upstairs from me years ago who has long since moved out, the other by someone around me, not on my floor, but until a couple of months ago I didn't know where he lived, who he was, or if he was a he or a she.

It was not unpleasant music, a crooner with a nice voice who sang Sinatra and Elvis songs in a croon rhythm to exaggerate his trill in a manner that I imagined appealed to those of his constituents who fancy exaggeration, which largely my neighbors do. So, it was pleasant at first. But, my neighbor played the same two or three songs at the same time of day, late afternoon, every day, for years. He played it pretty loud, too. It was louder in my unit in the winter when he flung open his balcony sliding glass doors, more muted in the summer but still plenty audible.

After a while it drove me to distraction. I tried earplugs but earplugs don't shut out all noise and I could still hear it. And because I knew the music so well, from endless repetition, I would, against my will, anticipate the part that always particularly grated on me, a music-less "uh-uh-uh-uh" trill, just the trill, no singing, "uh-uh-uh-uh." ARGH! I would get my CD player ready to go every day I was home at about 4:30 to drown it out. I would put on anything, I would switch it to radio and tune it to static, anything just to drown out "uh-uh-uh-uh." But these defensive maneuvers of course interrupted my work or my reading or whatever I was doing.

I thought of complaining, but about whom? I didn't know who it was! And if I had, was I really such an asshole as to complain about an older Jewish man or woman playing not unpleasant music for 15 minutes in the middle of the day? No, I was not that big an asshole, I'm an above-average asshole but not a BIG asshole. Usually. So, I would just turn the goddamn CD player on.

Then one day this past spring, I was outside the front of the building waiting on my son to come over. Suddenly, Croonowitz started. I whirled around, looked up: third floor, balcony sliding glass doors open. I had left my shoulder-launched heat-seeking missile in my apartment when I realized, "Oh my God that's Menachem." I knew Menachem's unit, I had been in it before, Menachem was the person I liked best in the building, and the music was coming from Menachem's unit. I felt guilty and resolved to sell my shoulder-launched heat-seeking missile on ebay. Croonowitz continued at his appointed time every day. I didn't complain to Menachem.

I didn't hear Croonowitz on July 3. Menachem must be away for the holiday. "YAY!" But his vehicle was still in its parking space right next to mine. (?) The last time I heard Croonowitz was ~July 2. The music had stopped. Menachem had stopped playing it. Stopped playing any music. Somebody had complained. Somebody who lived next to him on the 3rd floor probably. I would have had to leave every day the minute I heard him put Croonowitz on if I had lived next to Menachem on the third floor.

A few nights ago I heard a sound that I have never heard in 15 years living here, a television set, soft and unobtrusive. Somebody had complained and Menachem, like the good mensch he is, gave up Croonowitz for the Boob Tube. I wish I could say I am sorry for Menachem that he had to give up such a pleasure to him but I am too big an asshole for that. 

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Really sorry it turned out that way.


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