Thursday, August 04, 2016

On Hillary

I don’t like defending Hillary Clinton. At best she was my third or fourth choice from among the original slew of candidates. However, that was about politics, not honesty.

I watch TV, browse the Internet, and read the news so it’s easy to believe that she has made a career of skating along the edges of ethical behavior. I have to admit that I have sometimes found her attitude grating. She projects a sense of entitlement that I find uncomfortable. However, I can'y be proud that my attitudes formed in no small part due to constant exposure to the headlines, memes, and repetition. If you say a lie often enough, it really does come true.

So, pulling gathering together all of the resources at my disposal, I went on a Google expedition to uncover the “crimes” of Hillary Clinton.

My final determination: There was no there, there. I found accounts of her business dealings, Whitewater and cattle futures and such. However, each of these episodes came across more like bad episodes of ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ than high crime. That she would find herself mired in several get-rich-quick schemes may suggest a certain lack of character but it doesn’t even begin approach the depths of evil with which she is so often discussed.

But what about Benghazi? Benghazi proved that she isn’t Rambo. What should she have done? Has anyone questioned how many more Americans might have died had a guns-blazing, face-saving, futile gesture been authorized?

That the email story continues to thrive is also nonsense. She acknowledged having a private server. What more must she do? If it violated a policy – something that should have been easy for a competent Congress to determine—then wouldn’t there already be a specified sanction. Instead they (the Congress) spent millions on hearings and investigation all for the sake of political theater. I also believe that the security concerns are political nonsense. Anybody, including in at least one instance the Pentagon, can be targeted by hackers. It’s possible, although not an excuse for any violation, that Clinton’s security bettered the State Department’s system. Don’t forget that the State Department’s system did allow mail to go back and forth from a private server. Back to the point, Clinton was Secretary of State, everything was potentially sensitive and carried the possibility of future classification. That she had the server, that she used it for work-related mail is all established fact. Unless, she’s being accused of deliberate espionage, that’s really all there is. Combing through the 80,000 emails in hopes of finding something embarrassing has no value beyond political intimidation.

Still, I’m not saying there aren’t enough questions about Clinton’s judgements, actions, or attitudes that it would be unreasonable to think (hope) that a better alternative might be found down-ballot What I am saying is that she isn’t the anti-Christ, or even a less extreme variation of Trump.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

I Just Don't Know

The Republican Party, which was bordering on deranged, has found a standard bearer who may actually be deranged. Alzheimer’s, Dementia a combination of the two? I don’t know whether to despise Trump or feel bad that syphilis, or something equally debilitating, may be eating away at his brain.

However, the party that continues to fund him can’t hide behind a mental illness excuse. (Or maybe they can if they really think that lead in their drinking water is OK, but I’m guessing that they don’t.) A few Republicans are tepidly jumping off the bandwagon, but in large part that’s only because they sense it might he heading over a cliff.

The party of “No”, the party that for 8 years has known how bad Obamacare was but couldn’t come up with a single idea to fix it, the party so fearful of the law that they won’t appoint a judge until they can be assured of how that judge would rule, so obsessed with personal responsibility that they would default on the obligations they incurred but can’t seem to find the will not to continue spending, worried more about who’s pissing in the next stall than preventing the next economic collapse, obsessed that BLM wasn’t ALM rather than giving a damn about why it is a thing in the first place…

Wow, what a self-indulgent rant; time to put a plug in it. Suffice it to say that the Republican Party has been careening towards this moment for decades. The crazy-man standard bearer is no accident.


Yeah but... What about Hillary? It’s not an equivalency; Hillary is far from my perfect candidate. I find her too hawkish. Her indebtedness to Wall Street is uncomfortable. Her ethics are always on the side of good, but sometimes by less than a hair. She is a little too elitist as it applies to herself. I also think she packed the DNC with cronies to ease her path to the nomination. I don’t like that. But I think the DNC remains healthier than the RNC. The movement within the party is taking a progressive slant. But, most importantly, no matter what you think of Hillary; she’s not crazy.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Relitics has had a confused existence.

Originally I intended it to be a venting arena where I could pontificate on religion and/or politics. But issues having nothing to do with either religion or politics intervened and Relitics was set aside.

Eventually the dust did settle and I found myself to be a very rusty writer. Even by my low standards my writing had become rusty. I found that writing had become like riding a bike You DO forget.

So I resurrected Relics as a site where I could, hopefully, lose some of the rust, get back on the saddle, etc. (Sadly I've lost my book of tired cliches and must trust that these last few are fresh and untried.). To get back on point: I set myself up with a schedule and wrote - every Sunday night, often inspired by nothing more than what song might be playing in the background.

Well, that was great, for me. But, truth be told, who wants to write and write and be unread? Well I guess, actually there are many people that do. And I say "Bravo" to them. On the other hand there are a lot of people who get similar pleasure from talking to themselves. We generally cross the street when we see them coming.

My point, if there really is one, is that readers of blogs like to read blogs that are about something,not blogs that are about nothing. Think about it. For instance, who would watch a TV show about nothing?

Finally to remedy the situation about having a blog about nothing I'm making the following changes:

Reletics will be about religion and politics, although it may never see another entry.

I've created a new blog: WriterReadersPost. It will be about writing and it will also be about reading. After all there's no point writing if nobody is reading.

Hope to see you there at http://writerreaderspost.blogspot.com/

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Back on the Blog Again





Back on the Blog Again

The iTune player has found “Realize’ by Menthol James. That is some deep digging by the iTunes player but not much of a prompt to start a blog. This is two weeks in a row that iTunes has let me down.

Not so much. FLASH!  I’m a Writing Flashy.

I had my first attempt at writing flash fiction returned. Why? Well they didn’t say. I have several theories but I could never prove any of them.

1. What is flash fiction?

Maybe I don’t know. Or I do know and I also know that what I sent in was not. Flash fiction has a beginning, middle, and end. It does this in 1,000 words or less. My story had a beginning and middle, but did it really end? Well, sort of, but there was a carry-on-to-tomorrow aspect which was unresolved. Perhaps if someone had entered to kill one of the main characters then it would have definitely had an ending.

2. Genre Please.

On order to remain employed editors need to please their readers and their readers demand: science fiction, humor, horror, satire, or romance, but probably not much in-between.  Don’t give me any damn romance when all I wanted was to have the bejeezus scared out of me.

My story it was part fantasy, part horror, part ghost story, with what I hope was a touch of humor. I other words it clearly fit in the … genre. Mr. Editor, I feel your pain.

3. Too Sophisticated for the Intended Publication.

Yeah, that’s likely. But please, allow me to tell myself this while I cry in my beer.


(The iTunes player rises to the occasion to mock me as it plays George Harrison’s ‘That’s the Way it Goes’.)

What’s Next?

Chuck it all in? Learn to write like Dave Barry OR Stephen King but not both? (The world already has a Christopher Moore.)

Well, “THE’ story is actually pretty good. If not good, at least it has been edited well, most of my sometimes excessive comma splices having been removed. I would read it to my son. I wrote it for him many years ago.

So, I’ll find a home for it – somewhere. There are places that accept literary pieces; there are places that publish crap. Someplace there is a place where this story belongs. And on that note, with Culture Club’s ‘Karma Chameleon’ playing in the background – blog out!

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Back on the Blog



Back on the Blog

The tune playing as the blog begins: The Beatles, a bootleg of a live performance, ‘I Want to be Your Man’. Well, that’s a tough one to use as a jump off, or a prompt, or whatever the term du jour may be.

FLASH!  I’m a Writing Flashy.

What is flash fiction? It’s a novel for those of us wanting instant gratification. It’s for those times when Cliff Notes are too much.

As luck would have it I happened to have a story collecting dust that seemed almost a perfect for the format. The format is, basically, to fit a complete story with a beginning, middle and end into 500 to 1,000 words, or 300 to 1,000 words, depending on whose definition you’re trusting.

It turns out that writing flash fiction can be a great exercise, especially for a master of the superfluous. Limiting oneself to essential words results in cleaner writing. All those words intended to add color – gone! (They probably didn’t work anyway.)

Story ready, off it goes. Will it be accepted? I don’t know, but just in case I am making plans for the $60.

Clever, eh?

At one time I intended that this blog would tackle serious subjects: religion and politics. Reletics, get it? Anyway I’m going return to take a turn in that serious direction for a moment. All while ‘You Brought the Sunshine Inside’ by Jude Bowerman plays in the background.

Shortly after it started appearing on Facebook I started following the Clive Bundy ranch fiasco. It was supposed to be an assault on our basic rights but I wasn't getting it.. So I read and then read some more, but I still didn’t get it. How was one rancher’s sense of entitlement to freely use land that was not his, endangering our rights? He said he didn’t recognize the Federal Government but would willingly pay the state authorities anything they asked. That doesn't make sense. We can’t legitimately decide not to pay people we owe but to pay some uninvolved party instead. Bundy had been making his usage payments until around 1993, so what changed? His claims to have been farming the land since the 19th century don’t appear to be valid. Land records indicate his family purchased their land in the late ‘40’s, and probably didn't start farming (or ranching?) until the mid ‘50s. It doesn’t appear that they ever owned the land in dispute.

So, without hyperbole about the armed thugs of BLM – Since, even if they do exist they didn’t show up on the scene for 20 years – what’s the story?

The Final Tune for the Evening.

Once more I depend upon the iTunes random selection to close out the evening. Tonight it’s “March of the Meanies” from The Beatles, Yellow Submarine soundtrack. For a moment I was thinking that I might have to re-think this iTunes strategy, but I actually like this.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Sun-Witch



Old Stuff

It’s been a busy week, so, once again this week will be a slight cheat. But even a slight cheat is new – sort of. I can’t help but make some changes. The following ‘story’ first appeared in “Feel Good Alberta’ in December or November 1995. I probably still have a copy of that magazine around here somewhere.

But first, the first tune on tonight’s playlist is “You Don’t Know Me” by Ray Charles and Diana Krall. Silk and velvet, I don’t know which is which.

Sun Witch

Ah, snuggled in bed under Aunt Anna’s Christmas quilt, with a cup of warm cocoa within arm’s reach and a flask snooker of rum strategically tucked between the pillows. The winter rage outside may have ice-olated me in my home, but that’s OK. I wasn’t expecting to see the neighbors again before the spring anyway. Winter rations are safely assembled under the quilts; ten to fifteen novels, 35 pounds of chocolates, a roasted duck or two, other assorted snacks, TV remote control, and of course peanuts – preferably shelled, lest my wife complain.

So what had I forgotten? The telephone. It was still in the room where I could hear it ring. And then it happened. It rang. I could have ignored it, theoretically at least. But, no. I can’t ignore a ring tone.

I reluctantly emerged from my winter cocoon and darted across the room (remember this was 1995), to answer the blasted device. Heaven forbid that I should allow the answering machine to perform its duty.

“Hello,” I said.

“Hello? Is that you?”

“Of course it’s me.” I said. “Are you, you?”

“Can’t you tell?”

“No, I can’t tell. My telepathy has been on the fritz lately. But my bare legs are absolutely all goose-bumpy with anticipation.”

“Listen,” she said.

Damn it, I could hear it. It was the sound of palm trees swaying in the gentle breeze. It was followed by the crash of hot sun on white sand. I could almost hear the sound of bikinis dancing.

“It’s me,” she said. “Your sister.”

I could picture her hands on her hips as she said this.

 “Calling all the way from Florida? You found a quarter?”

“How’s the weather up there? I’m wearing shorts.”

So what, I thought. What do you suppose I’m wearing? What did it matter what I was wearing? There was ice developing between my toes.

Sun-witches. They come in all shapes, sizes, and denominations. They can be sisters, brothers, cousins or friends from the cold country. Always the Sun-Witch’s first question reveals the real reason for their call. It’s always the weather. They know we’re freezing and that the first reasonable temperature is months away.  So why do they call? Because sun-beast live to remind us of our winter misery. They all do it. It doesn’t matter where they’ve moved; Arizona, Florida or Mexico. Their motives can only be assumed to be sadomasochistic. Not even a raisin could enjoy as much sun as they claim to.

“It’s not so bad,” I said. What else could I say? Did she think I’d admit that my toes are blue and I hadn’t had any feeling below my knees for weeks?

“Really? I’d thought it’d be getting cold up there by now.”

Oh, I could feel the venom dripping from her tongue. I knew her next utterance. She’ll tell me she’s outside and even though she’s wearing shorts and in a tank top, she’s sweating.  Oh, I could say, do you really feel safe in your insect-proof wire mesh enclosure. Have fire-ants consumed any small children lately? But I fight back the vitriol.

“No colder than normal,” I respond diplomatically.

Perhaps I should remind her of poor Aunt Bertha in Arizona. She turned to dust in Arizona; poor women. “It’s a dry heat,” she’d say, “you don’t even notice it.”

Aunt Bertha sure didn’t notice it. The body is 98% water. The “dry heat” sucked her dry. One dry, hot morning Uncle Frank bent over to kiss her. She collapsed into a mere handful of dust. The paramedics told Uncle Frank that this sort of thing happens all the time him. It’s the dry heat.” Poor Uncle Frank hasn’t stopped drinking – water – since. It’s doubtful his kidneys will survive much longer.

“It’s around 70 degrees down here. It’s been that way for a week.”

70 degrees! That’d be Fahrenheit I guessed.  20 C. doesn’t sound warm enough for people who like to gloat.

“That’s nice, maybe we’ll have to come down there one day; get ourselves out of this cold for a while.”

Wrong, wrong, wrong. I’d stepped right into her web.

“You think you can handle all this nice weather?”

How smarmy! She’d handed me the “can you handle too much of a good thing” line. I was sunk. Remarks about my pasty-white skin and the spores growing on my back were just around the corner. I had to fight back. I needed to score – big!

“Alligators eaten any of your cats lately?” I said jokingly. Ha, that’d get her.

“Why would you say that! We’d had Fluff for almost 12 years. He just couldn’t run as fast as he used to. The kids are still upset.”

“What? I was joking. Nobody told me.”

“Look, if you prefer tundra to paradise that’s fine. I didn't call asking for insults. I just called to wish you a Merry Christmas.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.”

So How Did That Piece of Drivel Ever Get Published?

            If you really think it is crap, you should see the original. Or maybe I should find the original. The copy I was working off of had so many typos and errors that I find it hard to believe that it is the actual finished work that was published, up in chilly Alberta, Canada way back in 1995.

            How it got published is easy enough. “Feel Good, Alberta” was a new start-up venture for Alberta. Although the title may have suggested swingers or any number of sexual escapades it was actually all about living healthy. My column was the healthy dose of humor. I was just like Dave Barry or Erma Bombeck if either of them ever happened to be unfunny.

The column was dropped after a couple of months as the magazine found a new source of revenue. Doctors, mostly chiropractors actually, paid to have their articles published. Fortunately these articles always included helpful information such as phone numbers and business hours. In any event whether I sucked or was secretly brilliant the days of paying people to write for the magazine had passed. As an actually brilliant writer once said, “So, it goes.”

The Final Tune for the Evening.

            The evening ends with “Money Talks” by Danny Hull & Chris Cain. It’s not exactly a peace & love song; well it’s not a peace & love type song at all. It’s a money talks and BS walks song, and there you have it!


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Close Call


Close Call

I almost started “to blog” without the music playing – a sacrilege.

The first tune up, as selected by iTunes which seems to work hard to remind me that there are some unusual tunes in my library, was Grand Funk Railroad’s “Loco Motion”. It makes me thankful that I somehow avoided going through the perm-phase.

Blogging Times 2

I thought it would be easy – writing a serial story blog. Maybe it is, but I haven’t really been able to get it going. (There is a very distracting version of the Beatles’ “No Reply” playing. Performed by the Beatles, it has so much echo in the mix that it sounds as though recorded in high-school locker room.)

Back from my momentary capitulation to ADHD…


The other blog of which I speak is  http://wickedmanipulations.blogspot.com/ . First, I’ll admit that I had planned to cheat somewhat – I thought I had a playbook – or outline – to go with. Many, many years ago, in the previous century as it turns out, I’d written a story called “Wicked Manipulations”. It may have started out as loosely autobiographical but several re-writes later it had safely departed any recognizable reality.

To make the long story short I thought I’d start out with the original paper and work from there. (Paper! Does that give you any idea how old it is?) I blew off the dust and prepared to transpose from paper to blog. But, and a huge but, it turned out that my recollection of this tale was fonder than deserved; it sucked – at least as seen through 21st century eyes. Of course, I had anticipated that I would be making some changes along the way but, in a major blow to my self-esteem, a major re-writing was in order.

Not All Bad

As insinuated, “Wicked Manipulations” has had a long fermentation period. It was originally written for a college creative writing class. It received a passing grade, an ‘A’, I believe, or maybe it was  ‘AAA’-plus. In any event, I had some validation that it was possibly as terrific as I thought it might be.

I scoured the land, or at least the newsstand, after consulting my borrowed copy of ‘Writers Digest’, for a worthy place for publication. I deemed the “Atlantic Monthly” as worthy.

            The editors at “Atlantic Monthly” thought somewhat differently. They replied quickly and courteously: “To Whom it May Concern. Thanks, but no thanks.”

So They Said

 “Wicked Manipulations” is a tale of love gone sour and a murder in a restaurant – your basic nasty-story. However, of particular interest is a scene that takes place in the all-night diner where our hero, and future dead man, is stymied in his attempt to order French-fries. As I was writing this section I thought it so original and humorous that I practically wet my pants while writing it, a problem since corrected. Now, remember, the key word I used to describe this was, original.

Several months after I’d received the Atlantic Monthly’s rejection letter I was reading a copy of ‘People’ magazine. I guess I’d already gone through all my literary magazines and I'd likely finished steamrolling through my copy of the latest Smithsonian. (The way you steamroll through the Smithsonian is to just look at the pictures and ignore the words, which are way over my head anyway.)  Back to the point,  there, buried in some typical People-blabber about some better-looking people, was my restaurant scene! Had my originality really been so unoriginal after all? Were French-fry shortages something that had recently entered the public consciousness and something which I just unknowingly borrowed from the cosmos? Hell, even the humorous dialog was practically the same. Where all fictional waitresses named Paula? (Was the Paula I had known real or just a figment of my imagination? If so, compliments to my imagination.) Hmmm. Who had written this tripe? Seems the writer was a former associate editor at. . .  “The Atlantic Monthly!”


Had I been plagiarized? Maybe? Yet, I prefer to think that I managed to work myself into this other writer’s psyche. If that is in fact the case, that my writing had indelibly impressed itself upon another human's brain, then I’d already done more damage to his career than any lawsuit would have accomplished. And with that I can be satisfied that justice has been done.

The Final Word.

Beethoven symphony #7 Allegreto – or maybe it’s II Allegreto – I’m uncertain. Whichever it is this is one of the finest pieces of music ever written – and oddly appropriate for a blog about a possible bit of plagiarism.

I think it’s unfair to suggest that Beethoven stole this work. Notions regarding copyright were different in those days. But, it is my understanding that this entire symphony is built around a popular Austrian folk song of the time.  That doesn’t matter. It’s still a great piece of music that has been used in countless movies to evoke great emotion whenever great things are about to happen or Hans Zimmer isn’t available.