Saturday, December 30, 2017

Overheard at Booth 3: Discussing Putin and Navalny

I swear, this month in Russia is like some scene out of Kafka:

Navalny:  I want to run for President.

Putin: You cannot run for President.

Navalny: Why can not I run for President?

Putin: You have criminal charges against you.

Navalny:  For what crime am I being charged?

Putin:  The crime of wanting to run for President.

Overheard at Table 2: Lucky and Otis Discuss Being Men of a Certain Age

Otis: I don't even know why you're even bringing this up.

Lucky:  Well, you know, a guy's gotta cover all bases.

Otis: Well, even so, you won't have THIS base covered.   

Lucky: That's what I'm saying!  If my wife died or left me, I'd never know if a chick was really into me.  I mean, how could I ever be sure?

Otis: If a chick was into you, you can be sure it would be for you.  Chicks who aren't the woman who built a life with a guy are only into a guy if he's good looking or has money.

Lucky:  Right.  Someone they think that can give them security.   And even women who helped a guy build his fortune is probably only in it for the money if the guy's not good looking, because that money is also HER money.

Otis: Right.  Which is why it would suck to have to start over, to be sure.

Lucky: But it wouldn't be too hard to tell for both of us.  Because if a chick was into either of us, it would have to be for our personalities, because we ain't rich and neither of us are that good looking any more.

Otis: Speak for yourself, homie.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Overheard at the Counter: Niall Runs in the Rain

Niall walks into the café with a grin and a shake of the head.  Walking to the counter, he sees that the Barista is already pulling an espresso for him.   He nods his thanks and says to Lucky Moran, who is sitting nursing a latte, "You would not believe the run I had at lunch the other day!"

"I'm certain I would not," Lucky says.

"It was the day that it suddenly got super-chilly and there was a rain coming down.  Totally invigorating!  Well, I'm running the trails, and back through the enclave, which runs by the manufactured pond for all the ducks, y'see ... and as I'm jogging by the tip of the pond, there are these two ducks sitting there, face to face, like they're talking to each other ..."

Niall then takes a sip from the small white cup.  Smiles at the Barista.   Says to Lucky, "Then, these two ducks turn their heads toward me as I'm walking by, and so I says to them, 'This is just like water off your back, isn't it now?' and you know what they did then?"


"No! They, both of them, turned to face the pond, giving me their backs, and then they just ruffled their rumps!  Poofed their feathers, shaking their butts!"  Niall put the palm of his right hand over the fist of his left, then spread his fingers and shook them wildly.   "That must have be duck-talk for some foul gesture!"

Lucky smiled.  "Maybe that's where we got the phrase 'flipping the bird'."

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Overheard at Table 3: After Thanksgiving

Wife: Hey, wanted to say thanks for you being so great at Thanksgiving.

Husband:  Didn't do much.

Wife: That's just it!  You let me have some "girl-time" with my cousin I haven't seen in twenty years!  You didn't do what you usually do, like, take over the conversation and make everything about you.

Husband: Glad to help out.

Wife: I can't believe we talked so much!  Wow!  So much to catch up on, she was telling me all about her kids, her husband ... you know, she can't stand him...

Husband:  Really?

Wife: Not at ALL!  They've been married about twenty two years, about as long as we have.  And she says he ruined their trip to Nice - you know, south of France - because he's always so controlling and has to be at specific places at specific times.

Husband:  Hm.

Wife: ... and he's always on her case about how much money she spends, and how they never have money and he is always controlling the checking account and paying bills out of it.

Husband:  Sounds like he's trying to stay on top of things.

Wife: ... and then I realized - she was describing YOU!

Husband: Wifey say what?

Wife: She was describing you.  And I realized I can't stand all those things about you, either.  So controlling.  Never let me do anything at all.  Thinking about just totally pissed me off.  I'm still pissed!

Husband: So, looks like we won't be seeing your cousin for ANOTHER 20 years.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Poem of the Day: Twimberly


We were giddy with anticipation

the day that the new soda shop opened.

We waited outside until the sign hanging in the glass windowed doorway

Turned from CLOSED to OPEN

and we rushed in, all eight of us, raggedy and rapscallion and loud and yelling and

pushing each other and it was grand, and everything was a smile,

and the memory of that day still tastes like root beer and licorice and

cotton candy and I can still feel the cool of the shaved ice that Maurice

smeared across my cheek, and we are all still eight years old,

even as the sun now sets on each of us,


in different towns, in different houses,

scattered across the country, separated by the turns of centuries.


Yet, even as the last whip of evening orange strips fade,

the voices of ourselves still echo in my ears,

and they always sing me to sleep.







Monday, November 20, 2017

Poem of the Day: Defeat, by Walter Brenner

I opened up a book of poetry, Poets of World War II, edited by Harvey Shapiro.
This was the very first poem in the book:

What a reminder of our slow progress.
Are we even now, any better?

Anthology (c) 2003
American Poets Project
Published by the Library of America, New York

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Overheard at Booth 3: Annual Review

Meg: He gave me a two on "interpersonal communication" because he said that I'm "too straight-forward" in how I talk to the Project Managers and they don't want to work with me.  I told him that if my boobs were balls, he 'd give me a four for "telling it straight-up with no spin."

Tom: And what did he do then.

Meg: To be honest, it looked like he might have wanted to agree with me, tear up the paper, and start it all over again, but he looked at the HR bitch who was right there, watching him, making sure he towed the company line.  So he just said, "You're lucky that you got the 'two' that you got."

Tom: Sucks.

Meg: No shit.  Boss is a big wuss, but HR is the real evil.  They could do something about it, but never do.  All those bitches just want to push paper, feel superior, and act like they're actually worth their salary.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Overheard at Table Two: nanowrimo

"So I'm in this nanowrimo thing - write a novel in November, and I have to tell you, writing 50,000 words is easy.  That's all they want - 50,000 words, and bam!  you got yourself a novel.  Now, the hard part is writing 50,000 words that make a lick a sense!"

"What you've hit on is that writing is easy, but writing well is difficult."

"EXACTLY!  Damn near impossible, in my case!"

Friday, November 10, 2017

Overheard at Table 4: People on Phones at the Airport

"People in the airport, most of the ones on the phone are on for business.  Business, business, business, these Americans never stop working, or rather, giving the image of working.  Most of these guys aren’t really in the trenches of production, but mainly in arranging, and haranguing, and repeatedly going over and over what should be done and what would have been done and 'well we’ve got to get guys out there' and 'well what should have happened was they should have taken it apart to begin with to measure before deciding just to retrofit'"

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Overheard at Table 4: Intimacy at the Edge of Infinity

"Physical intimacy is saying 'I have this body and I sacrifice it for your pleasure.'

"Non-intimacy is when I take your body for my pleasure.

"The act is the same - the way the body parts fit together that is - but the meanings are as far apart as core of the earth to the edge of infinity."

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Overread at Table 4: Tuesday Morning POD

A seventh month old baby,
on Sunday morning:
head shattered like a pimple
by a bullet,

and we blather on Twitter
about rights of guns.


Monday, November 6, 2017

Overheard at the Counter: Do you know what you like?

Barista:  Do you know what you like?

Customer: I like big butts and I cannot lie.

Barista:  Yes, but I'm talking about something you could afford.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Overread at Table 3: Poem of the Day: Houston, 2015

A Memory of Houston, Summer 2015


We were

searching for stars

on a downtown street

lit by spattered neon

in the rain,

on a Saturday night

when the symphony people

poured onto the sidewalk

like milk

from an overturned


and in the

stone gazebo

that capped

the underground


a young man played

a saxophone

while stomping

a bass drum with one










Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Overread at the Counter: American Fascist Chronicle - Day 277

Undercover of the Night: The Senate votes to dismiss a CFPB order which denied issuers of Credit Cards from forcing holders to go through arbitration instead of using the court system, a practice which has been proven to be unfair to cardholders, because the arbitrator is usually  in the employ of the card issuer.  Mike Pence, VP, cast the tie-breaking vote.


The VP only works under the direct order of the President.


Trump currently holds that office.


Trump campaigned on being tough on Wall Street.


This is a gift to Wall Street.


Will there be outrage from Trump supporters, who realize that their President has sold them out?




Why not?


Because they have been blinded by his constant lies.  Their senses are dulled and they believe in this image of Trump that is an infantile fantasy.

And this fantasy will kill them.

As it will all of us.

The same night: The Yankees beat the Astros 3-1 in Game One of the World Series.
Both were 100+ game winners.   Only seven times have 100 game winners met in the World Series.


Friday, October 13, 2017

Poem of the Day: The Subtlety of You

The subtlety of you.
The you that is so quiet.
The you of the sleepy head against the pillow,
in the ambient hush of just before dawn,
and your cheek, soft and pliable against my lips
that kiss you just before I leave the room,
softly closing the door behind me
so as not to wake you,
so as not to lose
the subtlety of you.


Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Overheard at Table 3: The BFG

Billy: I loved it.

Joe: Isn't the guy who wrote that book now a Jew-hater?

Jim: Whaddaya mean by "now?"

Bob: Yeah, guy's been dead for decades.

Billy: Just read about it.

Joe: So, if he's anti-Semite, don't we gotta hate everything he's ever written?

Jim: And burn copies?

Bob: Yeah.  Been years since we've been to a good book-burning.

Billy: Can't we like the stuff but not have to like the guy?

Joe: I don't think it works that way.

Jim: Culturally speaking.

Bob: You can always enjoy the stuff in secret.

Billy:  I'm just saying, if the books are good and the movies are good, does it matter if the writer's a

Jew-Hater or a racist or whatever?

Joe: Oscar Wilde said "There are no moral or immoral books.  They are only well-written or poorly written.  Nothing else." 

Jim:  ... or something to that effect.

Bob: So I guess you can.

Billy: Just don't let anybody find out.

Joe: Good.  Because I thought The BFG was awesome.

Jim: What does BFG stand for anyway?

Bob: Big Friendly Giant.

Billy:  Good, because I was thinking something totally different.

Joe: I think everyone was.

Jim: Great movie anyway.

Bob: One of the few that the CG really MAKES the movie instead of just making the whole thing

look silly.

Billy: Like a cheap cartoon.

Joe: Exactly.

Jim: How close is the movie to the book?

Bob: Don't know.

Billy: Haven't read it.

Joe: I think we burned it.

Jim: Ha ha.  You're such a kidder.

Bob:... but, IS he kidding?  hmmmm.....

Monday, October 9, 2017

Overheard at Booth 5: Coming Out

Fernando: I don't know, man.

Billy: Look, you're gonna have to tell your parents about us at some point.

Fernando: I was gonna wait until my birthday.

Billy: That's in January!  I was hoping we could spend Christmas together.

Fernando: I'll be 18 then and they wouldn't be able to say anything.

Billy: Well they're gonna say something no matter what age you are, especially considering I'm 40.

Fernando: [silent]

Billy: That's what's bugging you, isn't it?   It's OK. You can tell me.  I get it.  The age difference.

Fernando: Billy, they don't even know I'm GAY.  Then, to also tell them I'm in love with someone almost my dad's age.

Billy: I think your dad'll understand.   I mean, he and I have got a lot in common.  We both voted for
Obama ... TWICE!!

Friday, October 6, 2017

Overheard at Table 2: Bump Stock Review by the NRA

Heard on NPR this morning as I was moving cars at 5:15am, pundits discussing possible gun reviews in government.  They were saying that NRA was on board with a review of the bump stock.  The pundits were blithely saying that congress was trying to decide if the review would be sufficient for the NRA, as was the White House.


I wanted to scream at these pundits that the NRA shouldn’t get to choose.   They shouldn’t even have a say.


Here’s the deal: a government, when working properly, exists to protect the citizens.

The NRA does not exist to protect the citizens.  The NRA exists to protect guns.  Period.

When it comes to protecting the citizens and guns, if those two come into conflict, then government is required to side with the citizens and the NRA can side with guns.   Government, being the stronger entity (again: when working properly), should have the final say and determine the best path forward to protect the citizens.


Since the government cannot make a coherent, rational decision, without sticking out its tongue and wagging like a dog begging at the master’s table, it is time to remove government and install one that will protect the citizens.   We will do this by making our voices heard and by voting wisely.


To accomplish this: We must call each of our federal representatives, daily.

Second: we must educate ourselves on candidates, every one.  We must vote in every election.  We must encourage others to vote in every election, at every level, and for others to be educated on every candidate, every topic.


Yes this may sound inconvenient, but remember, the next concert you go to, or that your children go to, it could be your brain that’s blown out by a madman’s bullet.  Or your teenage daughter’s.   Her skull could be smashed to pieces so badly that you would only be able to identify her by the shape of her jaw or the birthmark on her shoulder.   And, knowing that you could have spoken up, knowing that you could have said something, done something, but didn’t, then, at that time, you can accept some measure of culpability.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Poem: Mandalay


Even as I lie with you
side by side,
here, in this bed,
there are shots being fired,
thousands of rounds of ammunition,
from a 32nd story window in Las Vegas,
into a crowd of tourists attending
a country music festival,
but we do not hear the rounds,
we do not hear the cries,
we do not hear the sirens.

We are asleep.

But we will awake to the news
in the light of day,
and then we will have a choice to make.


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bernhoft "Fly Away"

They say it's a place called Lydverket, but it's really one of the two interior stages at the Zen & Tao Acoustic Café!

Enjoy! ...

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Overheard at Table 3: Tales of Harvey: Song of Roland

Mack: People should sing songs about you, dude!

Roland: I wouldn't go THAT far.

Mack: Seriously, you got out in your boat and you were rescuing people.

Roland: So was everyone who had a boat.

Mack: Kris and I are really proud of you.  You are a hero.  A true hero.

Roland: Everyone was out there.  It's just a good thing so many people around here have boats.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Overread at Table 2: from "Leaves of Autumn"

Leaves of Autumn

These were the days after the hurricane.
Summer left, limping, with a broken wing.

We swept what was left of the water from the concrete porch
into the grass, to wend its way through the smooth stones
into the French drain,
                and disappear eventually, to the front of the house.

Every night, around dusk,
                we walk together, barefoot, toward the mailbox
                halfway down the block.

Hand in hand (most days), we
walk in silence,
                breathing in the late afternoon;

it is as if, those days, we measure the movement of the
summer heat.  Our lungs are the daily barometer, the heaviness of
                the humid Houston air.

With the advent of September, and the eventual creeping earlier
                of dusk, the sun leaves us a few seconds, earlier each day,

                we pull the mail from the box:  
                People en Español, Cinco Hill Review, the assorted
                varieties of medical bills,

we are what was left when August no longer was.


Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Overheard at Table One: Tales of Harvey

The pastor tells the story of the man he met at the Cinco Hill High School, a 60-plus year old man, who had just had open heart surgery five weeks before.  House flooded.  Now he's on a cot in the high school auditorium, along with other people, and other families.

The Pastor:  "I asked him if he wanted us to arrange a host family for him, and he said that the school had already said that they had a lead on something, and anyway, he was all right where he was.  I went back the next day, and saw him still there.  He smiled super-wide and said 'I got adopted!'

"Just then I saw this little Latino walk in, with a son about 7 or 8 years old.   They brought her over.  She was the host family.  During the conversation, she said, 'He doesn't have any grandparents here.'

"Even in the middle of this tragedy, there ARE beautiful things that come out of the storm.   Families and friendships being formed that would never have been formed before.  And THAT is the working of God for good in the world."

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Overheard at Table 3: Netflix Binging

Lori: I haven't seen that one.

Kristen: Oh my god it's brilliant.  I started watching it Season one and I'm halfway through season two and they just started four but everyone tells me I have to watch three before four.

Lori: I love just crashing through whole seasons.  Like, takes my whole weekend.  I did that Homeland.

Kristen: I watched all seven seasons of Dexter.  Again!  Love that show.

Lori: I did that with House of Cards, first two seasons.  Watched them over and over again.

Kristen: I know.  There's always stuff you forget.  So much stuff you forget.  Each time is like watching it for the first time.

Lori: I'm the same way.  Why is that?   I was plowing through Shameless last week and my kids said, "Mom you've already seen that why are you watching it again" and I said, "I haven't seen this and then - bam! - right there in episode seven there's this scene and I'm like "I remember that!" I wonder why we never remember our shows.

Kristen [looking down at her phone while she reads and sends a text]: I dunno.  Same thing happens to me all the time.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Overheard at Table 3: The Strength in Summer Storms

And I woke up in the middle of the night last night and it was raining, and thundering and lightening and the kids jumped into bed with me and I held them so close and it's at those moments when it hits me that I really don't mind that he's gone, that he'll never be a part of their lives.  It's like, it's just me, holding the kids against this storm, and my arms are strong enough, my love is strong enough.  And I got this.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Overheard at Booth 5: Driving Home

"I was on the way home from work and I don't really know what it was, maybe something on the news, but I saw the sun starting to slant toward the horizon and even though it wouldn't set for another couple of hours, I could imagine the sunset, the colors, blue slowly taking on the purple, the shade of orange sliding in behind it,

"and I don't know why but that made me think of my dad, the day he died.  He died in a hospital.  Off the ventilator.  He died that afternoon, and then my wife at the time, after taking care of things, we drove off, and it was just getting to be evening.  The sun was setting then, and I remember thinking that the day was closing down and it would be the last day he would ever see and he didn't even get to see the end.

"Like, he didn't get to see the end of the day.  Like we all die before the end of the story.  Before we get to see what happens to our kids, and I guess they say it's all the way of life, but somehow it doesn't seem fair.  Like never getting to see the last ten minutes of a really good movie."

Overheard at Table Two: Learning Spanish

So my boss comes by my desk and he sees my Basic Spanish book and he says, "Are you trying to learn Spanish?" and I said, "Sí.  Quiero aprender español."

And he says, "I think you should spend more time learning your job."

So I say, "Creo que te debes chingar."

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Poem of the Day: I Hear America Gurgling

I Hear America Gurgling
(after Walt Whitman)

I hear America gurgling, choking on cheap Mexican beer,
The auto workers, each machine that replaced the men grinding all
                night long,
The Home Depot guy renting out circular saws, measured by the hour,
The night watchman downloading videos on his phone, watching the tiny screen as
                the building huddles in its sleep,
The ticket taker at the theater telling people that their movie is the fifth screen on the right,
                restrooms on the left
The girl at the shoe store at the mall brings out the fifth pair from the back for the woman
                with the fungus under her toenails.
The cop in the car, the black boy out after curfew, the accountant at home with her bored husband
                and angry children,
The undocumented mother having just given birth, not knowing if she’s going ever to be able to
                get the piece of paper that proves her child exists.
Tall blond girls getting smashed at a kegger, and the lecherous jackals ready to tear off those blouses
                and thonged shorts.
Each gurgling and spewing and spitting the foul taste of the acid in the air or the lead in their water.
These days belong to the day, and the nights belong to the strange, and
the future belongs to those with the power to buy it.
America no longer sings any strong melodious song.
The songs that America sings is only some backbeat from ratchet speakers,

                and words no one remembers.

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Overheard at Booth 5: We All Gone Crazy

So we gots doctors in big apple walkin in and killin other doctors and we got ups guys walkin into ups shops killin other ups drivers and we got all these guys walkin into their works killin their coworkers it's just nuts its just crazy

sounds like we don't got NO self control any more.

La Pistola y El Corazon

Los Lobos - La Pistola y el Corazon

This album is a must-have for any collection, whether you like conjunto, norteño, folklórico o no, you cannot deny that Los Lobos are masters of any style, any where, any time.   Especially acoustic instruments.  A beautiful dreamwork tapestry of Mexican folk instruments and voices that speak for the ancients and the dead.

Friday, June 30, 2017

Overread at Table 1: Poem of the Day: Mistaken Lines

The idea for God is not mistaken,
lines upon lines have been written,
engraved in the barks of trees, tree bark
pulled and pulped into paper and
graphite ground into ink and
innumerable ink stained fingers have
rubbed the parchment with words upon
uncountable human words about God and
who God is and is not and was and will be
forevermore, ever and ever, and still
now in the iridescent light that blinds our
eyes from the fluorescent bulbs that bathe us
in the hum and drum and glum of this
we now call our
daily lives,
grind out of our minds these ideas for the word
the words of God,
the concept is such a fleeting thing,
that we have killed all the trees,
buried all the paper and ink in landfills,
and all our words now stored
outside our minds, saved in the
where we know something exists,
but we have forgotten


Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Overheard at Table 3: Book Writing

MR:  Have this idea for a book but it's about a woman at work and her and her husband and this trip that they are going to take on the river, river rafting, river floating, and in my mind it's a book a lot like "The Pill vs. the Springhill Mine Disaster" by Richard Brautigan and "The 158-Pound Marriage" by John Irving and I'm not certain how to write it, because I don't want it to be merely a pale imitation of those two books, but it definitely has a "feel" if you will of both of those works, I don't know why I sometimes have ideas for books with other books in mind, is it inspiration?  or is it plagiarism?

VG: It's more like musicians. 

MR: What?

VG: Would Led Zeppelin be Led Zeppelin without Leadbelly?  No.  Would the Beatles have been the Beatles without Carl Perkins or Buddy Holly?  No.   But they were completely different, even though strains of those who inspired them would always run throughout their work.  It's the same with writers.  Kerouac would not have been Kerouac without Proust.   Hunter S Thompson would not have been himself without Hemingway.

MR: Good point.

VG: Now, why are you still sitting here?  Go write your damn book.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Overheard outside Z&T: Levon Barnabas preaches the GOOD NEWS!

Levon Barnabas:

In a world that wants you to be PERFECT!
In a world that wants you to be RIGHTEOUS!
In a world that demands that you do everything right!
It's GOOD to take comfort in a God who knows you are not.

Listen folks,
Your wife wants you to be a perfect husband.
Your husband wants you to be a perfect wife.
Your employer wants you to be a perfect worker.
Your kids want you to be a perfect parent.
Your parents want you to be a perfect kid.
Retailers want you to be a perfect shopper.
Your mortgage company wants you never to have a bounced payment.
Your landlord always wants the rent on time.
Your lender wants you to have perfect credit before they'll loan you any money.
Your country wants you to be a perfect citizen
Heck, even other cars on the road want you to be a perfect driver.

In this world where EVERYONE demands that you be PERFECT,
it is GOOD to know that you are loved by a PERFECT God who knows that you are NOT PERFECT, but says, "Hey, here's what I'll do:

I will come down there and LET YOU KILL ME
so that I can show you how much I love you and show you how to have a
relationship with Me."

Now THAT's good news.

So take comfort in the fact that there is ONE being who created the Universe,
who does not require you to be the perfect spouse, or co-worker, or employee, or parent, or child, or driver, or whatever ... He just wants a relationship with you.

Now, THAT ... folks,
to me...



Friday, June 16, 2017

Verble Leans on the Counter and says...

There are several reasons for having children born on US soil to have automatic citizenship.


First: Economic.

From the time they are born, we have begun to invest in them.  Our society in one way or another pays for their birth, their care, and their welfare.  As they grow, they take part in our public school system, and as such, I pay to educate them.  It only stands to reason that I should have a return on my investment, by having them become a functioning member of society: a productive worker/a defender in the armed forces, etc.


Second: Humanitarian/Cultural

Most children who are born here are raised here, as their undocumented parents have little economic ability nor the mobility to go back and forth (contrary to popular opinion, most undocumented have been living here for over a decade, having overstayed their visas).   Therefore, these children are culturally American, just like you or me.  Having mentored many children of the undocumented, I will attest that they have few, if any, cultural ties to their parents’ birth countries.  For example, I myself was born on the Isle of Man to an English mother and Greek father, and brought here as a toddler.  I speak no Manx, and very little Greek.  I am an American, and this is my country, and this is the place to which I owe my allegiance and my fealty.  The majority of children born here to undocumented parents feel the same way.  To send them back would not only be cruel, but it would also be sending away people who believe in America and want to do all they can for America.  Why should we cast away those who only want to contribute to this country, especially when this is the only home they have ever known?


Third: Historical

I believe in the “melting pot” history of America, and the idea that successive waves of immigration both add to the cultural diversity of the country, and is part of the strength of this social experiment.  By bringing other countries’ ideas and genetic material into America, we strengthen our enterprise by a continued influx of “new blood.”  The history of America is the story of the world coming to these shores and weaving their strands into the fabric of our culture, our economy, and our society.   In a sense, we inhale the breath of other countries, and exhale freedom and unity through diversity.   And yes, I understand that this is a romanticized view of history.  But I’m an old romantic, so …

Fourth: Legal Precedent

Since this has been the “norm” for over a century, the norm should continue.  Additionally, we should be able to point to a number of citizens born to immigrant parents (both documented and undocumented) who have contributed positively to our society.   This last statement also encompasses points 1 through 3.


These are my reasons for continuing automatic citizenship for those born on US soil.   I understand that they may be open for debate; however, these have been developed over decades, so I must advise a contrarian to expect much “movement” from me.  Again, I’m old and crotchety and even though I believe in American citizenship for all, I will still tell you to GET OFF MY LAWN!   ( in English AND in Spanish!)

Overheard at Booth One: That Which Unifies Us

The music connects us in a way that no laws can connect us.  Laws tell us what to do.  Music shows us how to dance with each other: side by side, hand in hand, laughingly slamming chests against chests.

Literature connects us but only when we teach each other our languages, and even then, the words sometimes carry different weights and measures.

Food, now, food connects us in a way even more beyond music.  Food connects us at the gut level, and by gut I'm not being metaphorical.  I'm talking in the stomach, the bile, the liver, the intestines, the mouth, the tongue, the throat.  We may not speak the same languages or read the same literature or like the same music, but when we sit down together and eat each other's food, in that moment we become almost as unified as two bodies creating life.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Overheard at the Counter: PSA: It'll Never Happen to Me

The biggest lie we tell ourselves:

It'll never happen to me.

This is complete arrogance. 

It is illustrated by such false beliefs as:

My spouse would never cheat on me.
I would never cheat on my spouse.
My work would never fire me.  I do most of the work.
I'll never get laid off.
I would never hit my kids.
I know exactly what I'm doing.
I'll never let my kids live in the house as adults without a job.

The common factor for these and other beliefs is a) absolutism, and b) prescience.
You believe ABSOLUTELY in an ALWAYS or NEVER.  

This is prideful.  It is arrogant.  It is assuming that your desires or your confidence in your character will create reality.

Let go of pride.  Let go of absolutism.  You do not know the future.  You do not know the person you will be, because you do not know the future conditions that will affect your future decisions.

This has been a PSA for your life.
You're welcome.

Overheard at Booth 1: Where Was Adam?

Wife:  When I was at the women's retreat, I really liked the message about Abigail.   A Truly tough, godly woman, who even though he had a total loser for a husband, still held everything together.

Husband:  My favorite is Sephora.  Any woman who would circumcise her male sons to save her husband's life, man, THAT's true dedication!

Wife: Like you guys deserve any!  Always sitting around, blaming us for the Fall.

Husband: Yeah, thanks a lot for that, by the way.

Wife: Well where was Adam?  He was supposed to be WITH Eve, they were supposed to be together.  He was probably wandering around, aimless, like most men, while she was there on her own.

Husband: She probably had sent him away because she wanted some "alone time"

Wife:  Touché.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Overheard at Table 2: Boy and Dad at the Sermon

.... reminds me of something I read somewhere: there was this little boy, about 8 or 9.  His dad takes him to church one day.  Boy sees his dad put his offering in the plate and then they listen to the sermon.  Afterwards, on the way home, the boy hears his dad complaining about the sermon, how the pastor didn't know what he was talking about and how he missed the point totally and didn't know how to deliver a message, blah blah blah.

... and the boy looks at his dad and says, "I don't know, Dad.  It seemed like it was pretty good, since it only cost you a quarter."

Friday, June 9, 2017

Overheard at Table 4: Screwdrivers and STDs

You know, I think I could forgive my husband if he cheated on me.  But man if he gave me an STD from screwing around on me I swear to God I would drive a screwdriver right through his eyeball and into his brain!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Overheard at Table 5: Build-a-Bear Conspiracy

The first time I head about the Bilderberg Conspiracy was like in 2005, 2006.   I thought they were saying "Build-a-Bear" Conspiracy.  My daughter was about 7 or 8 at the time, and she'd already dragged me to the mall twice for the damn things. 

I said, "Hell yeah it's a conspiracy!  They take five dollar teddy bears and soak ya for 70-80 bucks!!"

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Overhead at the Counter: A Connecticut Christian in a Southern Baptist Church

My pastor last night had just come back from a church planting in Connecticut. He said he was amazed that there could be such a turnout in that state. That niggled at me for awhile, until I remembered that he's from Alabama, and teaches in Texas.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Overheard at the Counter: Some thoughts on some recent Poems of the Day

Maria de la Luz Knows How to Walk by Juan Felipe Herrera
touched me, because the stories of the migrant worker and the undocumented immigrant have a special place in my heart, as this is the current example of human suffering, resilience, endurance, and dignity.   The unpunctuated stream of words and images, from a variety of different places, shows how Maria de la Luz is one women, but also is all women, in the life of the migrant worker, and in her story are all the stories of travel, pain, loss, and hope.

First Light by Chen Chen
was a kick in the eye, i.e. a Satori.  As the poet himself stated, it is the immigration tale of a person who does not remember being an immigrant, and whose immigrant story is told to him, and thus, becomes something wholly imagined - almost a creation myth, that has little bearing to the fact, with mundane facts replaced by heroic fantasy.

Self-Portrait as Exit Wounds by Ocean Vuong
Frankly, I cannot tell if I like this poem or not.  The staccato rhythm I understand is important to the jarring "mood" that the poem is trying to create, the city, the camps, the conflict between the shared culture of America and Vietnam, how a singular human being came out of this war and, as such, contains both warring factions within the self: that I understand. 

However, on the other hand, the poem seems a little too "busy" (for lack of a better word), as though the images were rather thoughtlessly placed.  Simply put, it reads as though someone dumped a desk drawer and made a list of all the trinkets that had filled it over the years.   If this was the poet's intent, well, good for him.  But it does prevent the reader from truly getting into the "flow" of the couplets.

Overread at Table 3: Poem of the Day: Crossing the Stream

One night full of bifurcated dreams:
the flowing streams the water over pebbles of so many colours,
like a mad painter's palate, the slate greys and bone whites and ocean hue blues,
these stones that you walk across
with your bare feet, your pigeon toes
grasping and unclasping,
the water up to your ankles now and the
summer sunlight trickling through the leaves
of the limbs of the trees on the bank of the other side
of the stream, hands out to
each side, airplane-balance in
grounded flight, tilting only slightly as you
balance and bounce to the rhythm of the
laughter of the water over these stones,
and minnows tickle your toes
and then you reach the grass, a mop of
tasseled hair atop the mudslope, where the roots
of these trees become your rope ladder
to pull yourself out of the stream
and into the vast new world
that awaits your exploration.



Thursday, May 25, 2017

Overheard at Table 1: Trump, smart or .... nahhh

Man: He’s got his hotel…

Woman: Oh yeah, he was smart to do that then.

He was smart then I don’t know about now. Ever since he won the election, he’s just, well…

It’s the most interesting Presidency I can tell you that.

It’s always something happening.


Woman: I’m gonna fly first class one day.  It’s on my bucket list.


Man: I went to Vietnam in 65, they put me in Pan Am first class.
These days it’s just a Chinese tincan.


Woman: You watch the news they draggin people off the airplane and fights in the lobbies oh Lord!



Woman: If he makes it four years I’ll be surprised.


Man: Well the Middle East was messed up since WW1 when they divided it up.  Cut across trahbal lahns.


Woman: I can’t even wake up watching the news, he’s just tripping all over himself.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Overheard at Table 4: Father's Day

Lucky Moran: I hate Father's Day

Otis Redwing: Why?  All you get are ties?

Lucky: No.  Nobody's bought a tie since 2005.  At least not for anything but job interviews or funerals.

Otis Redwing:  Which you have said before are much like the same thing.

Lucky:  Yeah, every time I go on a job interview I'm mourning the loss of the hope of all advancement.  But the reason I hate Father's day, really is because of all the deadbeat dads out there.

Otis:  How so?

Lucky: Because they make everything so freaking aMA-zing.  For Father's Day my kids are like, "gee dad thanks for sticking around all these years"  I mean, my 17 year old last night said, "Thanks dad for never beating us" and I said, "Most dad's don't beat their children, son" and he said, "You'd be surprised"

Otis: Actually, he's right.

Lucky: See?  So that's why I hate Father's Day.  I get lauded for just doing the basics, the bare minimum, and guys who are totally crap dads probably get some sort of recognition for being a little bit less of an asshole than they normally are.  It's sucks.   It's like why have it anyway.

Otis: Damn, man you're depressing.

Lucky:  So what are your kids getting you for Father's Day.

Otis: They're going in on a new Sea-Doo.   It's my present for always telling them the Wi-Fi password.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Overheard at Booth 3: The Father of Saudis

Saw on Twitter this weekend a discussion about a picture of the Saudi King, who had some guy changing his slippers to shoes right before Donald Trump came in.   Really interesting, how one person tweeted that the old guy should be able to change his own shoes, and then there was this long string of replies about how Saudi culture respects the elderly, how the king is considered Father of the Saudis, how it is an honour to serve the king, how you have to understand Saudi culture to understand the depth of their gratitude and their love.

Man, I wanted to jump in but I just couldn't.   There was a cultural divide that I couldn't bridge.  I wanted to say that the difference is that here in America we do not bow to a King, we only bow to the the One True God.

But then, I realized that's just a fantasy that I believed when I was growing up.  A fairy story that they taught us to keep us in line and to get us all choked up on the Fourth of July.   Now, we just worship money and power.

Sort of like the Saudis.  But at least they still have the comfort of their fantasy.  And that must be nice, on some level.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Overheard at Table 2: This Schniz

4 young ladies sitting at the table, one points to her phone screen:

1: Check out this schniz

2: That IS the schniz

3: Total schniz.

4: Right .... wait.  OK, what exactly is schniz, anyways?

2: It's ... well, it's ...schniz

3:  Yeah, right.  Schniz is schniz.

1: [points to her phone screen] THAT ... is the schniz.

4: [shrugs] OK.  If you say so.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Overheard at Table 3: M and E Discuss Mutant Jeans

M: It's Friday why don't you wear jeans?

E: I don't have any jeans.

M: Yes you do.  Everybody has jeans.

E: I got a little too fat, so I outgrew all my jeans/

M: You know they make jeans in all body types.  Plus you DO have genes, in every cell of your body.

E: I want mutant genes.

M: Like Jean Grey.

E: She had very nice mutant genes.  But you know, I never thought they casted her right in any of the movies.

M: I thought Famke Jannsen was a good cast.

E: But Logan, wow, that was good casting.

M: Yeah, he was made for that role, but man after playing Wolverine for 20 years don't you think he got tired?

E: I think he made his last.

M: I couldn't stand how all the movies start to run together.  One is called "Wolverine" and another is called "THE Wolverine," after awhile you can't tell them apart.

E: I was telling my son, when I was his age and reading the comics I never thought they could come to the big screen, but I guess technology finally caught up to the fantasy.

M: Yeah, and now we can't tell which is which!

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Overheard at Table 2: SB4 and Profiling

M: So, now with SB4 as law, all Texas cops get to profile anyone driving while Hispanic.

K: People profile all the time.  It's normal.

M: No it's not.  Why should an Hispanic have to drive around with their papers while white people like us don't have to.  Everyone should do it or no one should do it.

K: Who are the majority of the people here illegally.

M: [a pause]

K: Thought so.  If that's the target group, then the ones who are here illegally have to put up with the inconvenience. Sorry.  It's just like who we leave our kids with.  We're much more easy to leave our kids with a woman than with a man, even if it's family.  Why?  Because men commit most of the crimes of abuse against children.  So, we automatically profile if Cousin Freddy offers to watch our kids, we're much more willing to say, no thanks I'll ask Aunt Barbara.  Is that fair to Cousin Freddy?  Hell no, but he's got to put up with it because of all the other men out there who've ever beaten a child.

M: Women can commit child abuse.

K: My point is that we automatically PROFILE.  I didn't say it's right on an individual case-by-case basis, I'm saying it's a necessity for the whole of society.

M: Well, society sucks.

K: Suck it up, buttercup.  You enjoy living here, don'tcha?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Rise up

It is time now to rise up.
Raise your voice.
Lift your hands to the sky.
Get to your feet and stand for something greater than yourself.

When you rise, you do not rise for yourself.
You rise for those who cannot speak for themselves.
You rise for those who cannot stand up for themselves.
You rise up for those who live in the shadows.

Rise up.
Now is the time is


Thursday, May 11, 2017

The soft light through the window upon the open pages...

Overheard at Table 3: Kids These Days

Writer 1: So then we have the twins come out as transgender.

Writer 2: I thought we were going to go with straight-up gay.

Writer 3: "Straight-up gay" - good one!

Writer 1: No, they're going to have their 8th birthday party in episode 3 this season, they need to come out as transgender, only Lucas will want to start transitioning NOW and Marcus will want to wait until they're closer to puberty.

Writer 3: Marcus always is the more cautious one.

Writer 2: Then we can have a big argument where Lucas will say Marcus will want to back out when Lucas is already halfway transitioned ....

Writer 1: ... which will break the pact they made in Season 1 Episode 10 to

Writer 3: ... always be a unit.  Right.

Writer 2: Cool, that could take up a solid 10 of screen time.

Writer 3: We could have the argument right through the last 20 of the episode.  Start at minute 9, go through the end.

Writer 2: Filler?

Writer 1: We still have Becca's subplot.

Writer 3: The cutting?

Writer 2: I thought we agreed to move on from cutting by Epi 2 this season.

Writer 1: Whoa whoa whoa, didn't you guys forget?   Her and Charlie?

Writer 3: "Lust for Grandpa" ?  Are you sure we really want to go with that?

Writer 2: Pushing the limits.  That's what we do.   13 year old girl wants to lose her cherry to her 60 year old grandpa.

Writer 3: Mike told me we still haven't gotten her parents to sign off on that yet.

Writer 1: Let Legal deal with that.  We're writing it in.  By the time we're shooting the episode her parents will be on board.  The studio will kick in a 20 grand bonus.

Writer 3: I'm sure if they bump it up to 30g the parents will let us film her full frontal.

Writer 1: God I love working on this show!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Overread at Booth 3: The Right to Believe

A paper left at Booth 3, type-set on a sheet of white paper.  It appears to be a first draft:


Every philosophical discussion or debate must have carefully designated conditions for debate.
The Right to Believe as one wishes is a philosophical debate.
We must therefore define the conditions.

Condition 1: That every individual has the right to believe as they wish.

Condition 2: That every individual does NOT have the right to act as they wish on their beliefs.

For example, you may believe that all women should be veiled.  I can believe that all women should be paraded around naked.  Neither of us has the belief to go around veiling women without their consent nor tearing off their clothes to expose their nudity.

Some may believe that all Jews should be rounded up and thrown into the sea.  They have that right.  They do not have the right to round up Jews and throw them into the sea.

You may believe that those who draw cartoons of the prophet Mohammad should be killed.  You do not have the right to kill cartoonists who draw the prophet Mohammad.

I have the right to believe that those who do not accept Jesus Christ as their personal lord and savior will never enter the gates of Heaven.  That belief has nothing for me to act upon, because whether another human will enter Heaven or not is completely beyond my control.

So, now that we have set the conditions, let's start the discussion...

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

First Cup of Coffee

I am a septuagenarian male, yet I feel like this picture upon my first cup of coffee of the day, yessirree!

Monday, May 8, 2017

Overheard at the Counter: Why Rural Communities Vote Republican

I had been wondering why so many in the non-populous states voted for Trump.

The idea that they are all ignorant or stupid seemed a little to facile for me.

Then I heard an article on NPR, about the opioid epidemic.

The opioid epidemic has actually spread faster among rural communities.

The reason, interestingly enough, is that even though there are fewer people per square mile, the people have a stronger interpersonal network.

This interpersonal network allows them to spread information quickly (as well as drugs)

I extrapolated this article to the concept of government assistance.

If people who live in cities have a weaker interpersonal network, then by necessity, they will need a stronger social safety net.

People in rural communities don’t see the need for a government social safety net, because they have one built in.

Example: If your neighbor two miles down the road needs help fixing his fence, you go help him.

In the city, if your next door neighbor is 83 years old and needs food, you will never know and even less likely, care.

So, this may be why rural areas are more Republican, and see the government sponsored social safety programs as ineffective and unnecessary.  They do not understand the breakdown of social interaction in cities. 

We always assume that the more people in a given area relates to a stronger interpersonal connection, but rather the converse is true. 

Example, go to Manhattan or Tokyo.  Millions of people.  No one looks another in the eye.  To make connection is exposure to potential threat.

These are just ideas, but they invite further thought and research.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Overheard at Table 3: Walton and Johnson Say We're Animals

"Walton and Johnson, or as I like to call them, 'Blackface Buttplugs,' were talking on the radio today about how Americans love war - which is true - but they say it's because of our animal nature - which is also true - and then they went on this rant that seemed to be saying just to embrace the animal nature.

"They were putting it in the context of war, but they talked about how when animals fight they fight until one animal gets tired and walks away, but when two humans fight and beats another guy up, the guy just goes to his truck and pulls out a gun and shoots the winner in the back, so they were saying that you just gotta go all out and kill the person before he gets a chance to shoot you in the back

"THEN came on their little announcement, WALTON AND JOHNSON - NOT TAKING LIFE TOO SERIOUSLY - or some shit like that.  Like it was all a joke.

"Motherfuckers, that ain't no joke.  They were talking about the need to just go out and kill people in any fight.   It's fucking disgusting and you can't back away from that sort of shit that's going out all over the airwaves."