As an elder statesman, born in Louisiana, I have always been conscious of the fact that my progenitors were hip deep in the Old South’s “Peculiar Institution” which is lame code for an unforgivable lapse of moral compass—Owning humans and regularly beating them mercilessly to remind them that they ought to be grateful for not being left in Africa.

I know….”That was then and this is now” and I never personally owned anyone in my life so why should I feel guilty after all these years?

I have a surprise for you. This is not an apologia for my family tree but, rather, the rediscovery of an ancient solution to a modern problem. In fact many of my progenitors were praiseworthy adepts, as “Cavaliers”, in all sorts of manly skills besides horsemanship. One particular skill has, unfortunately, fallen into disfavor and, indeed, has been criminalized in what can only be called a colossal error.

The skill of which I speak, if cleaned up and brought back to center stage could go a long way toward solving the goddawful political morass (with the accent on the second syllable) which we now face. In fact, it is precisely the state of current politics which reminded me of those horrible years from 1848 when we stole Texas from Mexico to 1865 when we tried to begin something called “Reconstruction”. That period was marked by Brother Against Brother, South Versus North, Abolitionists Versus just about everyone. Each side claimed exclusivity of the magical concept we have long forgotten in our modern hurry to screw the poor and enrich the wealthy.


Southern Cavaliers and Northern Gentlefolk had all suckled at the breast of the Code of Honor. And what was the core value in that code? One’s good name. One’s reputation and one’s name were sanctified to the point where a breech of honor called for a singularly marvelous solution.


This may sound like an Immodest Proposal, but I can envision a new and wonderful political arena (literally) in which immutable beliefs can be wrestled to the ground (literally) and differences of political philosophy settled unambiguously.

It is a truism that Gentlemen, Southern and Northern, eschewed compromise as a loss of face. (President Lincoln learned this the hard way when he suggested leaving slavery alone in the existing states where it was legal and forbidding it in the new territories north and west.) The same kind of dumb appears to be going on today between the likes of Lindsay Graham and Harry Reid, John Boehner and Barack Obama, Michelle Bachman and Anyone Else, Anne Coulter and Rachel Maddow (my money is on the Divine Ms. M) .

Let’s cut the shit. This stagnation is wrecking our country.

I am thrilled by the vision of Lindsay Graham, our poster child for bringing back Dueling because South Carolina was, historically, a hotbed of Gentlemen slipping each other the quietus over real and imagined insults. He may call out Harry Reid and challenge him to a duel of honor to settle the question once and for all whether we shall take care of and feed our impoverished. Reid gets to choose the weapon (sorry, no drones allowed) from the following: 1) Pistol, 2) Rapier, 3) Crossbow, 4) Broadsword.

If, as I imagine, the Democrat wins the duel, we can quit snarking and raise the minimum wage, boost Food Stamps, make school funding fairer, do a lot of single payer health plans and stop sequestering whatever we don’t approve of.

Slick, hunh? Oh, well, I know some of you Tea Party types might be against this plan, but it is historically justifiable…after all, our forefathers dueled each other at the drop of a sleight. The same men who wrote and signed the Constitution and The Bill of Rights had no problems justifying disagreements that were settled at dawn under the “Dueling Oaks”. (So, if their Second Amendment is sacred, why not go back to why everybody might have needed a gun in the first place? It wasn’t until 1839 that Congress outlawed dueling in D.C. and most of the states followed suit in a lame attempt to make our society more civil. Many men still fought duels after 1839 and Heaven help the punk who used the new law as a reason for not accepting a duly-offered challenge.)

Were we to reinstitute Duels of Honor the film rights and live TV broadcasts would give the whole field of Reality Entertainment a major boost, resulting in increased profits for the corporations who, after all, make most of the decisions in Washington for us after we go through the charade of “popular” elections.

I see this as a win-win.

What do you say? What if Lindsay Graham or Nancy Pelosi wimped out and refused to accept a sanctioned challenge? In that case the new law would be very simple. Whoever refuses a challenge must shut the hell up and leave government.

If you have a better solution I’d like to hear it because right now we appear to have lost all sense of honor and civility and are headed into the land of Failed Super Powers.

(Apologies to Jonathan Swift.)


Like most parents who don’t happen to be on crystal meth at the time they procreate, my wife and I promised each other we would never raise our children the way our parents raised us.

We succeeded in some ways and failed in others. There was back sliding born of unimagined frustration and there were moments of pure channeling as in: “I never planned to say that! I sounded just like my father!”

We have tried our best to stay on the straight and true course of magnificent parenting, but we have had to make all manner of amends ex post delicto.

Now that we are way way way beyond parenting anyone or anything (in our 70’s) we have collected a number of hints for those of you in medias parentis (sic) so that you lessen the number of amends you will have to make later on when your children write you letters that begin with “Dear Mom and Dad: I have been loathe to write this letter since I was 13 years old, but I can no longer hold in my feelings.”

Ten Things Never To Say In Front of Your Children—-

1) “Grandma died just like you will—old, alone and unloved.” While this may be true in far too many cases, we at the Study Center for Psychiatric Anomalies, (SCPA), have made it a truism of our profession to state unequivocally, “Ix-nay on the ooth-tray!” There is a time and place when it is best to let your children know that life is a crap shoot at best and, oh, by the way, try not to say that either…not until they are 11 or 12.

2) “Feel free to stick Q-Tips anywhere they’ll fit.” There is no need to tell children this, for, by the time you actually say it they will already have stuck Q-Tips in every conceivable anatomical location on themselves, their younger siblings or the neighbor child with the learning disability.

3) “Santa loves rich children more than you.” This is a tricky one because it is so totally and inarguably true. Santa may keep a list of who’s Naughty and Nice, but Mrs. Claus keeps a dossier on all parents’ holdings. It would be absurd for your kids to think that they were going to get a Maserati when you don’t make more than $150K a year before taxes. It is rumored that whenever Santa tries to shove a ridiculously expensive gift down a middle class chimney, Mrs. Claus slaps him red-faced. It is said by North Poleans that “…it is easier to pass a camel through the eye of a needle than to sneak a trust fund into an orphanage.”

4) “Insanity runs in our family.” This is a terrible thing to say aloud to any child of yours. It will make your offspring feel special when, in fact, INSANITY RUNS IN EVERY FAMILY!” There is no point in giving your entitled little kumquat a sense of importance just because his uncle Manfred was arrested for sexually assaulting a letter box.

5) “Sarcasm is the highest form of humor.” As if….

6) “There really is no animal rehab where we took all your pets.” Props for making up such a ridiculous cover story for your thoughtlessly euthanizing everyone from Binky the cat with the pancreas problems to Sam the gardener who kept stealing bottles from your wine cellar.

7) “Play Football.” This is as dumb a sentiment as you can possibly impart. It is up there with “If you wet your bed, we’ll tell all your friends” and “Poets never make any money.” If you tell your child this and he or she opts into the football program at The Montowese Island Daycare Playnasium, you may assume that he or she will emerge many years later unable to remember his/her name or where he or she banked the $1.5 M signing bonus. Even if your child avoids all concussions, and fractured collarbones, there is every likelihood that the poor dear will be using a walker by age 50.

8) “The reason all your classmates hate you is that you are so much prettier and smarter than they are.” Though this is probably true, it won’t help your beautiful and brilliant child one bit. You might suggest your child dress down, stop combing his or her hair and say things like “We should have a country without a government to stop those welfare mothers from stealing from the rest of us.” It didn’t work for us, but it might work for you—especially if, by chance, your child is really homely and not so bright after all.

9) “We should build a fence between us and Mexico and Canada that nobody can climb over or dig under.” The problem with this statement is that if your kids actually hear you say this, they will, hopefully, assume you are an idiot. That is a secret you must try to keep hidden until they leave home.

10) “And then you die.” Oh, We already said that, kinda. Try not to repeat stuff all the time. That is, you won’t wish to keep saying the same thing over and over in a different or same way.

No matter what, you are embarking on an adventure that will take more bravery than Everest and less oxygen.


(Lest you forget, Prissy was the name of the body servant, played so supremely well by Butterfly McQueen, to Scarlett O’Hara in GONE WITH THE WIND.)

By this point you may be at a loss as to how an overtly racist representation of an air-headed house slave in a film made over 70 years ago has become a metaphor for an inner state of being. I know I am.

To put it in perspective: In GWTW the baby-voiced Prissy brags to Scarlett that she is a qualified mid-wife, skilled in all areas of the birthing process. Then, as the Yankees are burning Atlanta and the baby is yearning to be born, Scarlett looks to Prissy for her expertise and Prissy shrieks at the top of her vocal register: “I don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies!” It was all a lie told by an insecure young girl to gain respect.

Thus it is that I am throwing up for your consideration that many of us—I cannot really speak for you, but I know that I am always working to keep my Inner Prissy from faring forth every day—are prone to inflating our skills in public only to spend the next few years terrified someone will ask us to demonstrate these imaginary talents.

In my own case, as an adult trained for many years in all areas of hyper-vigilance, my inner Prissy threatens to take over my mind in any and all situations. Off-Camera the Yankees are always torching Atlanta, all hell is breaking loose, and my subconscious is shrieking “I don’t know nuthin’ ‘bout birthin’ babies!” Or anything else for that matter.

The biggest lie my inner Prissy tells is that I am fine, competent, delightful and in touch with my faults, notwithstanding a few obvious neuroses. Some days I even believe it. Some days many of you believe it as well. Shame on you for buying my “Snake Oil”.

If you can identify with any of the above, let me share with you my daily regimen for keeping my Prissy in the closet.

1 or A) I remind myself every day that hyper-vigilance is usually the result of childhood trauma and this is not then—it is now.

B or 2) If the former is true, then I don’t have to fear everything as a possible trauma. Hell rarely breaks loose and few criticisms are terminal. Thus it is I refuse to let my Inner Prissy confuse the presence of a stranger with the arrival of Yankee firebrands.

iii) Inasmuch as I don’t like everybody, there is no reason why everybody should like me. People cutting me dead are simply exercising free speech.

4) I ask myself if I really really really need to convince everyone I meet that I am more brilliant, more amusing, more fascinating than they are. First of all it is not always true and second of all, nobody really cares except me. When I can triumph in this step, I will not have to face those painful moments when my Inner Prissy screams at the top of her lungs: “You lose! Now you’re gonna die, asshole!”

And so it goes… and sometimes not so well.

BTW: I was so so privileged to meet Ms. McQueen when she came out in support of the Writers Guild strike in 1988. As a selfless devoted Progressive she will be missed. Her magic still lives and, BTW: she was never happy playing racial stereotypes, but there was only one choice on the Hollywood menu.


I forget just who wrote the line about the god of love pitching his tent in the place of excrement—I could probably look it up and actually tried but all I got back from Google was a raft of Christian Websites and the names of a few tent makers. Who wrote the line is not as important as its being horrifically true.

I mean, if you give half a nanosecond’s thought to the concept of “Intelligent Design” (a misnomer inside an inanity), you must assume that the Intelligent Creator of this particular little round ball in a cosmos of ever-expanding other little round balls had either a really sick sense of humor or no concept of basic hygiene whatsoever.

It is much easier to believe that mammalian genitalia happened by an infinite number of Darwinian missteps than that a God of infinite engineering ability thought it a really swinging idea to make the vagina and anus next door neighbors.

Just imagine the discussion that this Holy and Benevolent Creator had with his design team after the Earth had been created.

G: Let’s hear from the Reproductive Sub-group. Whatcha got there, Fred?
Fred: We hit a wall, Chief. My team is split down the middle. Half wants it to be really really fun. And the other half wants it to be horrifically painful.
G: Painful?
Fred: Yeah, Chief. They call themselves Republicans.
G: Jesus.
Fred: Who?
G: Ooops. Aren’t those the same guys who wanted me to put that damned Tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil right where Adam and Eve could see it but not let them anywhere near it?
Fred: They wanted it to be in a gated part of Eden.
G: Right…
Fred: So, whattya want us to do? Make it fun or make it painful to make new creatures?
G: Compromise.
Fred: Compromise?
G: Yeah. I just invented it. Each side gets a little good and each side gets a little bad.
Fred: Half fun? Half painful?
G: Nope. How about really really fun but ultimately a pretty nasty affair.
Fred: Pardon?
G: Where did you put the pooper?
Fred: Down between the legs.
G: Move it back a bit and slip the female reproductive connector in the ‘taint. Leave the other junk where it is now.
Fred: Getting tight down there. We’re running out of room.
G: If it feels really really good I figure animals will find it without a manual.
Fred: Ick. (Sketches a rough drawing) How about the male repro connector.
G: Use the pointy thing.
Fred: The urinator?
G: Yes.
Fred: I don’t see how that’s gonna work, sir.
G: Good Gracious Me, do I have to do everything myself? Figure it out. I want the first pair of humans rolled out by the end of the whatever I called it—
Fred: –Week?
G: Yes. You look dubious.
Fred: (Muttering) Urine is highly acid.
G: Solve it! Unless you want me to replace you with a Republican Archangel. They hate everything.
Fred: Not exactly, Chief.
G: Pardon?
Fred: They seem to be immensely fond of each other.
G: By the end of the week, Fred!
(Fred exits)
G: Who woulda thought making new humans would be such a bitch?

As you can see if the Divine Creator could come up with such an odd way of recreating ourselves, then he was clearly not minding the store. If he was so fond of the mammalian reproduction procedure, why didn’t he use it when creating Adam and Eve? Adam came out of the dirt and Eve came out of his rib. There was no talk at all about anuses and ureters.

Okay, you say, perhaps all the strangely naughty parts of sex came about as a result of Eve and Adam’s eating that fruit that gave them good teeth, good skin and the knowledge of Good and Evil. As punishment perhaps God took away a really poetic method of coitus, like, perhaps rubbing rib cages together breathlessly? I have not personally tried rubbing rib cages together as a means of reproduction, but that doesn’t mean it might not have been a neato idea —especially if the end result was total satisfaction, a physical high to beat all physical highs, and a cute little critter who looks like one or both of us.

If you are still not convinced just on the basis of strange biomedical design flaws, then how about the fact that ever since the first hairy male discovered his urinator could be used for all manner of amusing things, the first hairy female discovered that the urinator’s rigidity often had a disappointing shelf-life. And thus was born the oddly named design defect called “premature ejaculation”. (In truth there is no such thing as premature ejaculation. Ejaculation is ejaculation and may be way too early for some and too damned late for others.)

It seems to this A-theologian that if there were Intelligent Design, the male ejaculation would not happen until it was triggered by the female’s crying out like something from The Amityville Horror. If this had been the case, 75% of psychiatrists and psychologists would be out of work, and would have to have focused on things like bedwetting which is another less than perfect bit of anatomical design.

I can see that many of you are not convinced that Sex is really really weird in spite of the fact that everyone seems vaguely addicted to talking about it, doing it, or watching it or manically NOT DOING IT.

And some of us are not even doing it the way nature appears to have intended it.

Look at the other fallouts from these strange design choices. First there are some people who have never recovered from hearing how sex worked in the first place.

“The Mommy puts her thing in the man?”
“No, dummie. The Daddy puts his thing in the lady.”
“That’s gross! No, it is triple Gross!”

These people go on to have fabulous careers in religion and classical music while some of them just kill themselves rather than consider doing that thing with their things.

If sex had been perfectly or even Intelligently Designed, EVERYONE would love to take it as prescribed.

Good luck with that, Cowboys and Cowgirls.

Before the ink was dry on the first bit of papyrus or Dead Sea Scroll, God sent down word that some of us were not doing it right and should be stoned to death. Rather than doing that gross thing with the urinator and the lady receptacle, some of God’s Chilluns were poking sheep, having a go at horses, the same sex, and wineskins filled with lamp oil.

I postulate (which sounds dirty but isn’t…not the way I do it) that if Sex had been designed well, we would not have to keep farmboys from goats, and priests from acolytes.

Not to put too fine a point on my thesis (which really does sound dirty), consider my Mom’s telling me I was vile-gross-disgusting-and-nasty for playing doctor with the daughter of the Episcopal Priest down the street. We were both 6 years old. It would be a brief four years before she would tell me and my brother about the birds and bees as urinator and receptacle chat was once known. Suddenly I was informed that the entire universe was vile-gross-disgusting-and-nasty and adults were okay with that. I actually asked my mother, “How on earth does a man get a woman to do that?” She replied, rather unconvincingly and without affect, “Because it is the most wonderful experience a woman can have.”

Hello, COGNITIVE DISSONANCE which sounds like a Blog yet to be written.

The fact that I dived into sex head first in no way excuses the fact that Intelligent Design is yet another one of Life’s Unintended Consequences.

I rest my case.