Archive for the July 2010 Category


The title to this essay is a phonetic one as spoken by Americans.  Its real derivation comes from baseball.  If a hitter gets two hits in his four or five at-bats, he will announce that he had a “twofer.”  (If he was hitless in his times at bat, he would mournfully say, “I had an o-fer.”)  I am quite aware that in proper English the phrase should be “two-for-four at-bats” or “zero-for-four at-bats.”  But for all of the years that I have been involved in baseball, a two-hit game is called a twofer.

Now I have a twofer to offer you in this essay because it arrives at about the same time that my 88th birthday will occur.  The second part of the twofer is that the birthday coincides with five years of blindness.

These are not things that all of my readers should celebrate because I surely do not.  On the other hand, they are to be marked in my memory because of their longevity.

A twofer is a logical figure of speech because it refers to cases in which two items are given for the price of one.  In a double-header baseball game, we are able to see two games for the price of one.  Here in New York, there is a clothier named Joseph A. Banks who on many occasions will provide you with two suits for the price of one.  I won’t attest to the value of Mr. Banks’s suits, but it does show that the twofer is an accepted practice in American marketing.

Let us take the longevity of age to start with.  As it turns out, I have outlived my parents and all of my siblings in terms of the length of life.  There are two or three of my friends who have exceeded me in that department.  Howard Davis is now well into his 93rd year and Tom Scanlon recently celebrated his 90th birthday.  I am not quite sure how long my own life will last, but I only spend a very small amount of time thinking about it.  In the meantime, I salute Howard and Tom.

What I have learned about it is that life is not like an electric light switch that can be turned on and off.  It lets you down in stages so that in the end you are lucky just to keep moving.

There is much to be said for the light switch comparison.  It does not appear to be among the options granted to most of us.  So I suppose that we will have to be content with the gradual let down in our performance ratings and try to make the best of it.

Now on to the blindness issue which has hung around for five years.  Blindness in and of itself probably will not kill you.  If you make a mistake when walking and fall down some steps and break your neck, it might then kill you but that is the result of the fall, not of blindness.  I would not say that blindness has no painful features at all.  The pain arrives from the inability to do things that other people can do which are impossible for a blind person to accomplish.

When my case of blindness arrived back in 2005, in a perverse way I tended to welcome it.  This was not really a welcome to blindness but rather it was a welcome to the end of the tests and experiments that were taking place at the Wills Eye Hospital in Philadelphia and other institutions.  Not only were the treatments painful to a degree, but for the Philadelphia part, there was a 90-mile trip each way to get them accomplished.  So when the surgeon, Jay Katz, said that this was all they could do, I did not necessarily celebrate, but I was glad to be done with the extensive experiments to see what might happen to restore my sight.

Now five years later, a physician recently asked me about the blindness issue.  I told him that in the beginning, I regarded it as a challenge to be overcome.  Now, five years later, I regard it primarily as a pain in the ass.  Ass pains will not necessarily kill you, but they make life a little less worth living.

One thing I can state unequivocally is that blindness is not something that I would ever wish on any other living creature, including bats.

When blindness occurred back in my 83rd year, my wife Judith announced that from this time on she was going to be my eyes.  It turns out that she is not only going to be my eyes, but my right arm and everything else as well.  Kaye McCormick, a wonderful chief operator in Chicago, had a long life but at the end Kaye said, “There is no reason left for me to stay here.”  If I were alone, I would cheer heartily for the Kaye McCormick advice, “There is no reason left to stay here.”  But in the instant case, I have primarily my wife, who protects me.  Then there are my two daughters and two sons-in law and five grandchildren.  And there are several treasured friends who make life worthwhile.  All of them are a great source of joy to me.

So I have reason to hold off the Kaye McCormick advice for the time being.  In the final analysis, I don’t fear death.  What I do fear is the prolonged inactivity in a wheelchair or a bed that accompanies death.  If I could turn off the light switch short of wheelchairs and bed confinement, it would seem like a good deal to me.

Well, there I have troubled you with my twofer.  Again, I remind you that this is not an occasion for celebration.  It is only an occasion for me to mark in my diminishing memory that 88 years have passed and so have five years of blindness.  But even under those circumstances, there are songs to be sung and laughter to be enjoyed.  And more than anything, there is my wife Judith to whom I owe everything.

So I think I will probably stick around for a while and hope for a rally in the 9th inning to pull the game out of the fire.  I leave you with the thought that we should always stay strong as the advancing years take place.



July 14, 2010

Essay 472


Kevin’s commentary:

Man, and here I thought I was in for an essay all about baseball. I know far too little about the sport.  I suppose I also don’t know too much about what it’s like to be blind though, so I guess I learn either way.

So far as an update goes, three years have passed since this essay was recorded and I can confirm for all readers with relative certainty that being blind continues to be a pain in Pop’s ass. This is to alleviate any doubt that anyone may have about the matter.  What is also true is that things continue to be worth celebrating, experiencing, and sticking around for.


On Monday, July 26, the board of directors of the British Petroleum Company, known now as BP, met to consider the fate of Tony Hayward, its Chief Executive Officer.  I think that it was a foregone conclusion that BP had to separate itself from the honorable Dr. Tony Hayward.

In the British way of doing such things, they are polite about such matters.  They don’t just fire a man, as would be the case in this country.  But rather they give him what is known as “the sack.”  No two ways about it, Tony Hayward was fired or, in more polite terms, given the sack.  He is no longer the chief executive officer of British Petroleum as of October 1st.   But having been sacked, he will be involved in a joint venture in Russia having to do with one of BP’s holdings.  Whether he gets to keep his $6 million salary is another matter unaddressed.  I suspect that he will have to take a pay cut.

Tony Hayward holds all kinds of degrees from Glasgow University including a Ph.D.  That was not enough for him to avoid some egregious gaffes.  In the beginning, he assured the American public on television that the leak in the oil line in the Gulf of Mexico was a small matter and would be taken care of very promptly.  That of course did not happen and at the current reading it is the 99th day of the spill.

Then it was decided by Mr. Hayward and his bosses that a public relations campaign should be undertaken with Hayward as its main spokesman.  I dictated an essay not long ago complimenting Hayward on his diction of the English language.  But in that television campaign, Dr. Hayward also said that he wanted his life back.  Somehow he forgot about the eleven men who were killed in the explosion while they were drilling his well.

In further television comments we were told that there were a variety of measures to kill the well.  As you will recall, none of them succeeded.  Hayward was eventually called before a committee of Congress and mostly avoided answering their questions.  On the Saturday after his testimony, as soon as the Congressional hearings were finished,  Hayward hurried home to be involved in a yacht race involving his own boat.  This did not receive favorable attention here or in Great Britain.  For all of his academic achievements, Hayward had no real sense of how the average man felt about his company.

Now in the 99th day of the spill, it appears that there is a cap that seems to be holding the oil flow back.  But that was not enough to save Tony Hayward’s job.  My guess is that Tony Hayward just doesn’t get it.  He seems to be oblivious to the consequences of the oil spill, particularly as they relate to what his boss calls “the small people” around the Gulf of Mexico.  But Tony Hayward is a man who owns a yacht that seems not to be interested in such small things as the suffering of the people who fish for a living around the Gulf.

So come October 1st, Tony will be gone and will be succeeded by a man named Bob Dudley, who sports a degree from Mississippi State University.  Some time ago, American voices replaced Tony Hayward in the television commercials that were designed to convince us that the oil spill was beneficial to all of us.  Once Dudley was identified as the new chief executive officer, he began to pronounce the word “oil” as it should be pronounced.  Prior to that time, he pronounced the word as something resembling “all.”  But now that he has been promoted come October 1st, he has gotten the message and he pronounces the word oil in a proper fashion.

I have no intention of hitting a man when he is down, but if any man ever asked to be kicked, it was Tony Hayward.  The yacht racing incident put a cap on a long series of his executive gaffes.  My guess is that when he arrives in Russia, he might be inspired to look for a different job.  But now we have Bob Dudley, the Mississippi State graduate, running BP and we have no choice but to hope for the best.

And as for Tony Hayward, you might say that this Midwestern American still admires his diction when he uses the English language, but there is very little else to admire in this whole catastrophe.



July 27, 2010

Essay 478


Kevin’s commentary: He’s an ass and it bugs me that he’s going to be set and content for the rest of his life. I imagine that by this point the guy has more than he could conceivably spend. Ugh

I think this may be the last Hayward essay, but for those just tuning in, this essay certainly is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Pop’s opinions on this particular issue. View the rest here:

GIVING A (Insert Adjective) RAT’S ASS



The basic question that this essay proposes is “Where are the preachers now that you need them?”  According to news accounts, we are now into the seventy-seventh day of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Pious pilgrims, such as myself, have searched for answers.  We have made inquiries along ecclesiastical lines but have received no satisfactory answers.  What we need here is someone to blame it on, because it is clearly a matter of heavenly intervention in the affairs of man.  But no answers are forthcoming, which causes us to ponder our faith in the system.

This was not the case in the matter of hurricane Katrina.  When Katrina took place, the city of New Orleans and the surrounding territories were largely wiped out.  In that case, His Holiness Pat Robertson spelled out chapter and verse for God being pissed off.  Let me start from the beginning.

Prior to the hurricane taking place, Christians were observing the Lenten season.  As everyone knows, on Tuesday, before Lent starts, the people in New Orleans celebrate Mardi Gras with a giant parade.  His Holiness Reverend Robertson gave us a reason why the hurricane took place.  At that time of year in New Orleans, warm weather is the order of the day.  On this particular day, the weather was quite warm.  As the parade passed through the streets of New Orleans, the women standing on the floats felt obliged to take off their shirts.  I am told that these young women were completely nude from the waist up.  Their duties had to do with distributing traditional beads to the onlookers.  Making sure that everyone gets a set of beads is arduous work and so the young women on the floats tend to sweat a bit.  It is for this reason that they removed their blouses and were nude from the waist up.

There are those who prayerfully thought that the young women should have worn corsets which can easily be bought from the Sears Roebuck catalogue.  But in point of fact, not a single young person on the floats was wearing a corset or anything else.  I suppose that if I had witnessed the Mardi Gras parade that year, I would have felt the same way and I would have been dumbstruck and wondering why this conduct was taking place.  But in point of fact, it did take place and as soon as the Mardi Gras parade ended, His Holiness Pat Robertson began to analyze events.

Now you see, His Holiness Pat Robertson does not necessarily claim to be God, but it is his contention that he is in regular communication with celestial figures such as Jesus, God, and the Holy Ghost.  Now the fact is that I will have to admit that I have no communication whatsoever with those celestial figures.  So I leave it to His Holiness Pat Robertson to interpret those events for me.

As you will recall, Hurricane Katrina happened in August of the hurricane season that summer.  It was devastating to New Orleans and the surrounding territory of Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi.  But why the celestial powers elected to strike Alabama and Mississippi is beyond my understanding because they had no Mardi Gras parade.  But the fact is that his holiness Pat Robertson determined that celestial powers were so pissed off by the women on the floats passing out beads with their breasts exposed, that something simply had to be done about it.

Hurricane Katrina is now behind us and the people of the Gulf are trying to recover.  However, about 76 or 77 days ago BP, the giant oil company, had a terrible incident while drilling and oil is now flowing into the Gulf and does not seem to be able to be stopped.  But the fact of the matter is that no preacher of any kind has identified this with celestial retribution.  Surely there must be a reason for the oil spill by BP.  Have we lost the faith or the courage to identify it as the act of a vengeful God?  Apparently that is the case.  I am as bewildered as the next pious pilgrim.  Why no preacher has identified the reason for God’s wrath on the oil spill is beyond my understanding.  Perhaps in time or when we reach heaven, we may understand the reason for what is taking place at the moment.

Well there you have my thoughts on Pat Robertson, Hurricane Katrina and the oil spill.  We have not answered the question of “Where are the preachers, now that we need them?”  No preacher has stepped forward to identify the God or gods that are responsible for the oil spill.  Perhaps we will know in time who was responsible, but for the moment we are clueless.  Pat Robertson says that God talked to him through his heart.  Perhaps if we all had stethoscopes, we could learn what God has to say to Pat.  But until the stethoscopes arrive, we will just have to depend upon Pat’s broadcasts to the 700 Club to find out just who is to blame for the oil spill.



July 5, 2010

Essay 471


Kevin’s commentary: Pat Robertson is obnoxious.

That is all.


Addition 9/22/13



Now aside from wondering about where the preachers are now that we need them in conjunction with the oil spill, there is one more pressing question.  Why is it that Christians wish to turn their religious beliefs into law?  Specifically I have in mind the matter of abortion.  It seems to me that abortion is a private matter involving a woman and the Church or state has no role whatsoever in determining what she eventually does.

Didn’t the Christian Church ever learn the problems with prohibition?  It was said that politicians would sober up long enough to go to their legislative bodies, particularly the Senate and the House, only long enough to pass laws to continue prohibition.  Prohibition brought crime to a new level in this country.  But the preachers told us that God wanted us to have no contact with beer or gin or vodka.  But apparently the lessons were not learned by professional politicians who wished to display their Christian credentials.  Can you imagine if the Jews were in the position of the Christians and might order circumcision for everyone?  I don’t even want to think about that eventuality.

Finally, there is the matter of the Trinity.  It has nothing to do with abortion and prohibition and certainly nothing to do with the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  But the point is that this pious codger has been waiting for 80 some years to have the Trinity explained in understandable terms.  When the Christians begin to talk about God in three persons, I must say that I become quite lost.  There may be people who understand the concept, but I am not among them.  As much as I have prayed and wrung my hands, I cannot get my arms around the Trinity.


The Duchess of Alaska, Sarah Palin, had a pronouncement over the past weekend.  On two occasions, which were recorded in newscasts, Sarah used the word “refudiate.”  When she was asked to explain what “refudiate” meant, she said that William Shakespeare made up new words at various times in his career.  Those of us in the lower forty-eight are left to wonder whether the Duchess of Alaska is comparing herself to William Shakespeare.  She has no plays or poems to her credit but apparently she believes that the new word “refudiate” makes her an author of some kind in the class of William Shakespeare.

I assume that Mrs. Palin must have considered “refudiate” as a new word added to the august English language.  If that is the case, she never used the word neologism to describe such a new word.  I suspect that the neologism is a term that Mrs. Palin, her daughter Bristol, her prospective son-in-law and her Eskimo husband would find foreign to them.

As I said, on two occasions she used this new word, “refudiate,” much to the bafflement of her listeners including me.  When newspaper reporters began to question Mrs. Palin, it turns out that the word that she was really looking for was “repudiate.”  There is a gulf between “repudiate” and “refudiate” that most of us dare not cross.  But for Mrs. Palin, it is no trouble at all, particularly when she claims that even Shakespeare made up new words.

My guess is that at the White House, the campaign machinery has gone into high gear to help Mrs. Palin’s become the Republican nominee.  My earnest belief is that Barack Obama would dearly love the opportunity to run against Mrs. Palin in 2012.  Mrs. Palin claims that she is loaded with common sense and does not need exposure to the finer arts and communication.  Common sense is all well and good but I should think that Mr. Obama would be slobbering at the chance to run against the Duchess of Alaska in 2012.  If she is the nominee of the Republican Party, as she may well be, I suspect that people of even ordinary literary brains will run for the hills.

I know a little bit about neologisms, and “refudiate” ain’t no neologism.  It is a blunder of mispronouncing the simple word, “repudiate.”  And to think that this candidate was running for the number two job in November, 2008 standing behind a 72-year-old presidential candidate who had a form of cancer!  But stranger things have happened, more than 52 million Americans voted for George W. Bush in 2004, which returned him to office.  It could be that the voters in this country will “refudiate” those of us who know what a neologism is when we see one.  In the meantime, I suspect that the Duchess of Alaska will have her hands full planning the wedding of her daughter to the most eligible bachelor north of the lower forty-eight, Levi Johnston.  Do you suppose that Levi and Bristol would postpone their wedding until it could be held in the White House?  All I can say is, “Stay tuned.”  It may be that more strange things will happen.



July 19, 2010

Essay 475


Kevin’s commentary:  I am afraid that Pop may have misunderestimated poor Mrs. Palin’s intelligence here.  I actually love the self-made comparison to Shakespeare. She lives in her own little world.


I am writing this essay in the hopes that it will prove to Tom Scandlyn, Howard Davis and Jim Reese that this old country boy’s tastes have gone to new heights.  As a public service, I will try to save you a trip to your dictionary because the word “posole” is another upscale word for hominy.  I suspect that those of us who were raised during the Hoover Depression may have had their fill of hominy.  The fact that it is now called posole doesn’t mean that it tastes one bit better now than it did back then.

We try to buy groceries on Tuesdays and Fridays and, as a general fact, they are usually purchased from the Whole Foods Market.  The Whole Foods Market was founded on the basis of serving organic food, which in my estimation is nothing more than a fraud.  Seeds have to go into the ground and have to be fertilized with such things as cow manure or the droppings of chickens.  For a store such as Whole Foods to advertise, as they did on score cards beside the main entrance as to the number of organic foods they were offering that day, is, as I said, a fraud.  But nonetheless my wife Judy and I are generally pleased with the offerings of the Whole Foods Market here in Millburn.  Basically, we are attracted to the fact that they have a fish counter that seems to offer unparalleled excellence.

The other day my wife Judy went to the soup counter and encountered a soup called posole.  I must confess that I had no idea what in the world posole meant or contained, or whether its ingredients were healthy.  When the posole arrived at our home, we examined its contents and found that its major ingredient was hominy.

As best I understand it, hominy is a kernel of corn with the seed removed.  This renders it absolutely and totally tasteless.  But it was used in my mother’s cooking, I suppose because it tended to fill up the stomachs of hungry children.  And it probably did not cost much.  In those days of 1933 to 1937, we were not eating many meals at The Four Seasons Restaurant.  Also, it enabled my mother to say, “There are a lot of people in this town or around here who have nothing to eat.”  The fact of the matter is that during those years, there were plenty of people who had very little to eat.

When my wife Judy picked up the story of hominy on the internet, it turns out that it was a dish that goes back to the days when the Indians ruled this country.  Apparently they had perfected a means of removing the guts of the corn kernel.  I will say this in defense of hominy.  It is as close to nothing as you can get.  That may not be a defense of hominy but more likely, it is probably an indictment of it.

Well, in any case, we ate the posole, whose major ingredient is hominy, and were none the worse for it.  But I must say that the instant when my wife placed a bowl of posole or hominy soup in front of me, after 75 years the smell was instantly recognizable to me.  I don’t contend that it smelled poorly but anything made with hominy in it has a distinct odor.  In the instant case, I gobbled up the hominy with no enthusiasm whatsoever.  That was the recollection of Depression days.  But more than likely, the hominy was so tasteless that it recalled few other meals when the ingredients offered so little sustenance.

I started this essay as a means of instructing country boys such as Tom Scandlyn, Howard Davis and Jim Reese in my adventures into great foods.  I thought that posole would baffle them but I am here to tell you that if any dish, regardless of its name, has hominy in it, it is probably not worth preparing.  My mother was such a fan of hominy that its memory is ingrained in my senses.  So I have given you fair warning.  Stay away from hominy and from that fancy word of posole.  It ain’t worth eating.



July 26, 2010



Kevin’s commentary: I had no clue such a foodstuff existed. I suppose I should thank my mother and father for that. I wonder though if this will be one of the new hip miracle foods sometime. Like friggen “kale” — in the last two months everyone in San Francisco has developed a huge hardon for kale and I have no idea why, but it bothers me tremendously.


There are two essays in this package having to do with the murder of Abelino Mazariego.  The second essay is called, “I’m still as mad as hell.”  These essays were written in anger and contain a few redundancies and a few errors.  But in the second essay, I have tried to correct some of the errors in the first because the facts have changed.  I hope that you will forgive the repetition, but the murder of Abelino has stirred my passion endlessly.

The chances are that you never heard of Abelino Mazariego.  As a matter of fact, I had never heard of him either until an incident last week in which Mr. Mazariego was beaten to death.  One of the reasons that you may never have heard of Abelino Mazariego is that he was a dishwasher for a restaurant in Summit, New Jersey named Dabbawalla.  The manager and chef at Dabbawalla is Colin Crasto.  As a matter of interest, or perhaps non-interest, Abelino worked for the owner and manager, Crasto, for 11 years.  For the record, it should be stated that my interest in Indian food is nearly nil.

What happened last week is, in my estimation, a case of at least aggravated assault or murder.  It seems that Mr. Mazariego had finished his shift of washing dishes, which he regularly did.  This occurred around 9 PM.  He left Dabbawalla to sit in a park about half a block away.  On the way to the park, Mr. Mazariego bought himself a slice of pizza.  As he sat on the bench in the little park, he was accosted by three men.  One of them pulled his tee shirt up over his head, the second began to beat him around the face, while the third man took photographs of the beating.  I assume that the third man had a telephone that could take pictures of the proceedings.  Stupidly, the third man circulated those pictures around the teen-age crowd in Summit and shortly they made their way to ABC television.  They were then shown on the air and arrests soon followed.  News reports fell off after the initial impact of the killing took place.  But it is understood that the three participants are being held on manslaughter charges with a bail of $100,000.

Those are the basic facts in the case.  It turns out that Mr. Mazariego, the dishwasher, was 47 years of age and had four children.  He was a native of El Salvador, the Central American republic.  A funeral mass was held at St. Teresa’s Roman Catholic Church in Summit a day or two ago.

Two of the boys who committed the murder were students at the Summit High School while another one attended Morristown High School in a town nearby.  Very little is said about the fourth person, who is underage.  So there are the facts as we know them at this time.  At the moment, the story has caught the interest of the local newspapers.  So Mr. Mazariego has been properly blessed and a Mass was said for him.  At his family’s request, he is being returned to his native El Salvador.

I don’t pretend to be an expert on these matters, but I assume that Mr. Mazariego represented a target of opportunity for the three teen-agers and that he was killed for the fun of it.  Whether they intended to kill him or not is beside the point.  Clearly, they intended to cause harm to him.

This story caused me at least three sleepless nights because Mr. Mazariego is the kind of person with whom I identify.  When I was involved with labor union matters with the AT&T Company and with the New York Telephone Company, the fact that a man was trying to work himself up from the bottom always interested me and gained my sympathy.  In this case, Mazariego was working himself up from below the bottom, coming from El Salvador and washing dishes for 11 years at the Dabbawalla Restaurant.

I say that this was a “fun” killing by the three teen-agers because Summit, New Jersey is an affluent town where something in excess of 95% of the children graduating from high school go on to college.  It would be very difficult to argue that they targeted Mazariego because he was taking a job away from them.  Kids who attend Summit High School are not there to train as dishwashers.  I would suspect that most of them have their eye on a management job that will pay a substantial amount of salary.

Abelino Mazariego was doing the very best he could to support his family.  Apparently he was a hard worker, having worked at that restaurant for 11 years.  In the end, aged 47, he was beaten to death and eventually will be buried in his native El Salvador.  Few people know about the circumstances of his death but knowing what I know about it now, I am greatly disturbed by it.

In 1955, the AT&T Company decided that my talents were needed in New York City.  So my wife and one child moved from Chicago to the great metropolis on the East Coast.  We could not buy a house in Summit, New Jersey because houses were too expensive.  We wound up renting a farm.  The town that we located in was New Providence, which is the next town over from Summit.  It might be said that New Providence is a poor sister to Summit.  But we were very happy in New Providence.  But clearly those with more affluence settled in Summit rather than in New Providence.

And so at this juncture one man, Abelino, is dead, and the three teen-agers will in most likelihood have a conviction on their records.  An assault in New Jersey carries a sentence of ten years, while aggravated assault carries a sentence of up to 25 years.  I don’t pretend to be an expert on legal matters, but it seems to me that the three teen-agers clearly intended to beat Mr. Mazariego as a form of sport.  Stupidly, they filmed the beating and it was circulated among their cohorts.  I hope that the authorities in Summit are as disturbed about Mr. Mazariego’s death as I am.  He was my kind of guy.  He was hard-working.  He was willing to sweat out his time at the bottom of the economic ladder in order to provide for his wife and four children.  What more can you ask?

There really is no moral to this essay.  I recite it because it has been troubling to my mind for the past few days.  As I have said, nobody attending Summit High School trains to become a dishwasher at an Indian restaurant.  Mr. Mazariego was starting at the bottom of the economic pack and was killed while eating a piece of pizza.  I feel a little better for having recited the story of his death because, more than anything else, his life in New Jersey will have a very small amount of recognition.  I regret that I did not know Abelino Mazariego while he was alive.  But the very least I can do is to recognize his passing and express my profound sorrow to his family.


PS: Since this essay was dictated, there have been two or three significant developments.  St. Teresa’s Church has steep stone steps at least 15 or more in number.  When the hearse arrived at the church, the priest asked for volunteers to carry Abelino’s coffin into the church.  A Hassidic Jew stood up to volunteer, followed by a Korean who had ministerial ranking.  Soon they were followed by other men in work shirts rather than chief executives.  Abelino’s body was carried into the church and out of the church by men of his own class.  Those are my kind of guys.

It now turns out that when Abelino was still alive, he was taken to Overlook Hospital in Summit, New Jersey.  His wallet contained his pay package of something on the order of $600.  His widow noted to the authorities that his pay was missing from his clothing.  As if Abelino had not suffered enough insults, his pay was stolen by a male nurse.  That nurse has been arrested.

One more development has to do with one of the attackers, who had been held on $100,000 bond.  He was released on Monday, July 26.  But there is also the report that the whole case is going to be referred to a grand jury.  It is at that proceeding that I hope his attackers are charged with more than simple manslaughter.  My hope is that they will be charged with attempted murder or at least aggravated manslaughter.



July 28, 2010

Essay 477


Kevin’s commentary: This is incredibly sad. I’m sure this happens as a matter of regular course especially in large metropolises like New York or Chicago — dozens of people there are murdered every week — but it is much easier to hear a statistic like “there were twenty deaths this week” than it is to hear the story of what actually happened to each individual person. This story reminds me a bit of a despicable activity that some of my classmates at the esteemed Westlake high school in Austin used to take part in — it was called hobo hunting and participants would either throw change at homeless people or in some cases shoot them with paintballs or airsoft pellets. The most privileged people in the world preying on the most desperate for sport. There is a sense of entitlement here with this murder that is just heart wrenching. I have not had time to research the outcome of the case further at this time but I hope justice was served, though honestly prison sentences can never really compete with a family of four who no longer has a father.

This essay was upsetting, but I’m glad I read it.  The follow up will be published next.


Those of you who have followed my career know that I have spent my full time in study and in contemplation of the great theological works.  In spite of the fact that I have spent nearly 88 years in the study of theological works, I was astounded to find that there was a religious word to which I was thoroughly unaccustomed.  This is a Roman Catholic word which is used almost exclusively in Vatican circles. The word is “delict.”  How I could have spent the better part of eight decades in the study of theological works and contemplation and have missed “delict” is a mystery to me.  But apparently that word describes a very grave condition in the Roman Catholic faith.

If a person is convicted of committing a delict, he can be excommunicated or, if he wears the robes of a priest, he can be unfrocked.  As best as I can determine it, unfrocking a priest includes removing his clerical collar and perhaps making him turn in his black suit.  There is no reason to suspect that the unfrocked priest will be reduced to his skivvies.  I know very little about unfrocked priests because there have been so few of them in recent years.  But I suspect that the Church will permit the unfrocked priest to keep his tee shirt and his jockey shorts.

All of this came to light in a dispatch from Rome dated June 17, a Saturday.  The Roman Catholics are catching on to American reading habits; they know that bad news is to be conveyed in time to reach the Saturday newspapers.  This was an art, mastered by the Nixon administration and carried forward by all of the succeeding administrations, which reserves bad news for release on Friday afternoon and evening.

As most of you know at this late date, the Roman Catholic Church has been embroiled in scandals having to do with pedophilia.  Pedophilia is a fancy word.  What it really comes down to is that the priests were buggering altar boys and other youngsters placed in their care.  Buggering is nothing more than a form of rape.  This is no laughing matter in that the Church teaches that the priest speaks with the authority of God.  Therefore, when a ten-year-old or a younger person is told to disrobe before the buggering takes place, he assumes that it is a function of piety.  In short order he will learn that piety has not a damn thing to do with it.

On July 15th, the correspondent for The New York Times has offered us these lines to cover the change in Church law.  It reads:

VATICAN CITY — The Vatican issued revisions to its internal laws on Thursday making it easier to discipline sex-abuser priests, but caused confusion by also stating that ordaining women as priests was as grave an offense as pedophilia.

The decision to link the issues appears to reflect the determination of embattled Vatican leaders to resist any suggestion that pedophilia within the priesthood can be addressed by ending the celibacy requirement or by allowing women to become priests.

Excerpted from:

Vatican Revises Abuse Process, but Causes Stir



What all of this boils down to is that if someone wishes to ordain women in the Roman Catholic Church, he will find massive resistance from the Vatican.  I think that it is thoroughly astounding that a Church equates the ordination of women with the rape of young boys.

Other religions, such as the Protestants and the Jews, seem to have no trouble with the ordination of females.  If I were a Catholic – which I am not – I would have no trouble whatsoever in receiving the final rites of the Church or communion from a female priest.  I must ask Joseph Ratzinger, who now styles himself as the Pope, “What is wrong with the mysteries of the Church being explained by a female rather than a male?”

There is a curious fact here that may need some more explanation.  The New York Times has also discovered in earlier dispatches that when Ratzinger was the Cardinal in Munich, it was alleged that he covered up priestly misconduct of this sort.  Curiously, there seems to be no denial of that accusation.  Now, a few weeks later, here we have a new set of bylaws that say that the ordination of women and the buggering of little boys are delicts.

If someone were to go through my writings, he would discover that for many years, I have been a staunch defender of females.  I think that they get the short end of the stick, whether they are in the clergy or in everyday business.  To equate their fate with rape of little boys is to me a thorough insult.  I must say at this point that I am not a Catholic nor do I propose that I would ever become one.  However, it seems to me that the coupling of buggering and ordination of women is a strained construction and an insult.  If the Church is opposed to the ordination of women, as it has been for 900 years, let that fact stand on its own feet.  To tie it to the buggering of little boys is demeaning to the females in the faith and, I should think, to the Vatican in its entirety.

That is my sermon for this week.  I got off on this subject because of my failure to understand the word “delict.”  Now that I have a full explanation of what delict means, I can tell you that, in spite of my years of study of theological matters, I am still repulsed by the idea of delicts being used to equate the ordination of women with the rape of little boys.

So now, as we say in the preaching business, go now in peace.



July 17, 2010

Essay 474


Kevin’s commentary: Well, I suppose that makes two of us who have recently become aware of that word, because I certainly didn’t know it. More importantly though, the fact that there is even a remote comparison between the ordaining of women and the molestation of children is mind boggling. What century are these people living in?


This morning I was amazed to hear that Levi Johnston and Bristol Palin have announced their engagement.  I know that my age is approaching that of Methuselah, and there are those who would accuse me of having antediluvian ideas.  But I always thought that the way to romance had to do with a boy and a girl finding each other.  There would be dates and dinners and, heaven forbid, no sleepovers.  And then after a respectable period, they would announce their engagement to be married.  Obviously, I have it all backwards, which accounts for the title to this essay.  In the case of Levi and Bristol, they seem to have had their romance, which resulted in Bristol Palin’s pregnancy, with which Levi went away.  As far as I know, both of them dropped out of Wasilla high school, which makes it very difficult for him to land a job.  But, much to my surprise, this morning there was an announcement to the effect that Levi and Bristol were on this date, July 12, being engaged. 

Good gracious!  They also have a baby to show for it.  I know that I am out of the events of the day because my children tell me that I should “get with it.”  But I thought getting with it had to do with following some form of proper procedures.

In the case of Levi and Bristol, they did it backwards.  First, they had the baby and then a year or so later on, they announced their engagement.  May I ask what the hell is going on here?  Curiously, there is no provision for announcing their wedding plans at this time.  It came as quite a shock to my system to discover that the way things are done now is that first the baby appears and then there is the announcement of the engagement.  As I said in the title, I have it all backwards.

The fact that Bristol has announced that she is now prepared to make speeches at $15,000 per copy may have had something to do with Levi changing his mind.  The success of Bristol’s mother in raising money from the far right wing may also have had something to do with it.  Old Levi is not as dumb as he looks.  He knows a good thing and he intends to try to latch onto it.

I am not necessarily a proponent of people being married before they have children.  However, I believe that is the proper thing to do.  But that comes from my Christian upbringing and I would not want to enforce that upon passionate Alaskans.

Now if we take this to the extreme, should there not be an obituary followed by a long life, many years of happy marriage or unhappy marriage, followed by an engagement and/or fooling around?  Let’s not do things halfway here.  If we are going to go backwards, I say let’s do it all the way.

My system at this advanced stage can only absorb so many body blows.  But the announcement by Levi and the bride-to-be might make it all right with those right-wingers to insist upon morality in every phase of American life.  So at this point, my intentions are to retire from the battlefield, realizing that I have had it exactly backwards for all the years of my lovely life.  How could I have been so wrong?



July 12, 2010

Essay 473


Kevin’s commentary: Levi Johnson is such a winner. His tweets in particular are incredibly classy, and are generally written in allcaps.  Also, the fact that someone is willing to pay Bristol Palin that much money — or rather WAS willing to do so, because I doubt she can pull anything like that now — is disheartening.