Sunday, October 16, 2016

Che Guevara and His Darling Bonnet - poem

Lawrence Hall

Che Guevera and His Darling Bonnet

His beret’s ‘way cool, his reputation’s hot
All for having lots of innocents shot

Nach Canossa Gehen - poem

Lawrence Hall


Nach Canossa Gehen


Everyone stands in the snow at Canossa

Not all at the same time, but eventually,

Alone, barefoot and alone, in the snow

Knocking on a door, for three days or more


A bare-headed, self-shaming penitent

Cold, hungry, shrouded in an exile’s shift

And fearful, hopeful, desperate for admittance

To mercy undeserved, and love, and peace


The door will open eventually, but first

Each man must stand in the snow at Canossa

A Babbler of Mere Fancies

Lawrence Hall

A Babbler of Mere Fancies

A babbler of mere fancies and conceits
A distant figure lost in space and time
And speaking to an ever-present now
For whom there is no horizon or history

Indian Autumn - poem

Indian Autumn


Late, errant honeybees still swarm about

The hummers’ feeder in the afternoons

While lingering sunlight warms October days

Like lovers reluctant to say goodbye


Our little apian friends in chorus sing

A fading summer-song, before the frost

Send workers home among soft, leafy ways

Of air and mist, over stubbled fields at rest


In that quiet hour before the moon

Ascends, and lights the autumn safely home

Lawrence Hall

The Adventures of Hibachi Fondue - poem

Lawrence Hall

The Adventures of Hibachi Fondue

Brushed aluminum, S & R Green Stamps
Tiki torches and instant Polaroids
George Jetson on the Sylvania tv
Elvis rockin’ away on Ed Sullivan

Chubby Checker twisting all over again
Like transistor sister did last summer
Eskimo Pies in the Kelvinator
But you can be sure if it’s Westinghouse

Keds, Schwinn, Salk vaccine, Captain Kangaroo
Randolph Scott, and President Eisenhower too!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

9 October 2016 - Existential Computer Silence

I'm still waiting for my computer.  I'm still waiting to hear anything from the repairman.  And I'm not surprised. 

Forget the Clowns; Send in the Heroes - column, 10.9.2016

Mack Hall, HSG

Forget the Clowns; Send in the Heroes

Are there any clowns that aren’t creepy? The appeal of face paint and grotesque costumes – including the appearance of our presidential candidates and some of our popular entertainers – to otherwise stable individuals is inexplicable.

+ + +

Every filing cabinet in England is an Anglofile.

+ + +

Every telephone in France is a Francophone.

+ + +

If the Czech Republic were to free itself of the European octopus, that is, rule by Germany and Belgium, its new currency might be the Czechmark.

+ + +

Indecisive Flemings and Walloons are Belgian wafflers.

+ + +

Folks in Saint Petersburg are always in a hurry because they’re Russian.

+ + +

“Deteriorated” is a buzzy weather-word just now. You and I might say that the high winds are dangerous or that more flooding is expected, but the weather wardens chant that “Conditions are deteriorating.” Hurricane Matthew deteriorated all over the place for days. While millions suffered from the real storm, the wardens tossed together “deteriorated, “absolutely,” and “actually” every few minutes for their own word-storm of little content.

+ + +

Shortly before his scheduled graduation from Orangefield High School in 1945, Abner Simon went off to war. After his military service he earned a G.E.D. and then a college degree, and became a Baptist minister. At age 91 he is still serving his church.

The Orangefield ISD board and administration, all of whom were born long after World War II, heard of Mr. Simon and so invited him to his old school, fitted him into the traditional Orangefield graduation gown, mustered the Orangefield High School band, and presented him with his diploma as a 2017 graduate. When the rest of the Orangefield Class of 2017 catch up with Mr. Simon in the spring he will be their speaker.

Some old fussies will say that, by cracky, the kids need to listen to Mr. Simon. And one can only agree. But we must also agree that the President, too, needs to listen to Mr. Simon, and so do the presidential candidates, the Senate, the House, the Supreme Court, and the high flyers at Wells Fargo. Every generation grows up to complain about the following generation, but the reality is that if every adult role model were more like Mr. Simon, the rising generation would do just fine.

That famous hat-tip to Channel 12 News and Orangefield ISD – and Mr. Simon! - for this happy story.


Sunday, October 2, 2016

2 October 2016, Computer Failure

My summer-new HP laptop failed after only four months, and I learned from this experience that Windows 10 does not permit a safe start for sneaking around an error and mending it.

As far as I know my computer still reposes undisturbed on a table in another town waiting for the person who said he would repair to repair it. Perhaps he is related to the authorized dealer who did nothing more than reduce my lawnmower to boxes of debris, or to the many people who, when called, said that they would definitely show up "tomorrow, maybe the next day" to bid on tree removal, and never did.

I have a century-old typewriter which is aesthetically pleasing and which works as smoothly as the reputation of a Swiss watch (the only Swiss watch I have ever owned is an Omega Constellation, which never kept good time). Alas that a typewriter will not post to the InterGossip, so until my own computer is repaired or replaced with another disposable piece of electronic debris, I will file content only infrequently.

Season of Mists and Bee-sy Fruitfulness - column, 2 October 2016

Mack Hall, HSG

Season of Mists and Bee-sy Fruitfulness

Prime Minister Trudeau, a well-known international authority on prolonging adolescent behavior into middle age, attempted to teach Prince George how to high-twerk (or something) during last week’s state visit of Prince William, Duchess Catherine, and their children to Canada. Prince George, three years old, refused to indulge the P.M.’s low-prole importunities, and in so doing gave an adult a lesson in adult behavior.

Perhaps Prince George will visit the United States and help our 70-year-old presidential candidates try to grow up.

+ + +

An eternal bottom-of-the-page filler for newspapers is California’s San Andreas Fault. The theme is that someday the fault will split and California will disappear into the sea in an Atlantis-ish (or Pacific-ish) disaster. My theory is that California will remain in place and the rest of North America will disappear into the sea.

Either way, the Deep Internetistas will insist that the earthquake was all a false-flag operation promoted by the Galactic Masonic Skull and Bones Vatican Klingon Illuminati Rosicrucian Templar Golden Dawn Bilderberg Opus Dei Priory of Sion Lizard People Bohemian Grove Continuum of Really Mean Evilness in a secret plot to…but I lost the plot of this narrative long ago.

+ + +

The Peerless Progressive People’s Excellent Bobdescanted Exploding Smartphone and Washing Machine Company has been falsely headlined for its purportedly exploding washing machines. PPPESES&WMC’s dumb-phones have been known to burn down American cars, but their washing machines don’t really explode; they merely wobble sometimes. Hey, duty laundry dude or dudette, just balance the load, okay? It’s not that difficult.

+ + +

One longs to see a bumper sticker or a letter jacket featuring a quotation from Habukkuk.

+ + +

New tenants have settled in nicely on my magnificent rural estate – several colonies of well-behaved and industrious honeybees who were raised in Buna. My north county apiarist consultant, Terry McFall, tells me that the work of honeybees is responsible for roughly a third of all food raised, so without the little fellows we would all be hungry. Further, although there are native wild bees in the Americas, Europeans imported honeybees in the 17th century for their greater honey production.

Alaska’s beekeepers must import honeybees each spring for their honey production and for the enhancement of agriculture. There have been some experiments in keeping bees alive over the winter, but the results are inadequate and the few survivors never manage to recover fully.

In these October days we may turn to Keats’ “Ode to Autumn” for a celebration of bees:

Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
Conspiring with him how to load and bless
…to set budding more,
And still more, later flowers for the bees,
Until they think warm days will never cease


Sunday, September 25, 2016

Bourgeois Sentimentality - poem

Bourgeois Sentimentality

A beagle puppy napping on the hearth
The morning offering whispered at dawn
Young lovers flirting on a garden bench
The chair in which Granddaddy used to sit

Cranky old men who feed the birds each day
Cool boy-band posters on a teenager’s wall
Red spider-lilies in the autumn sun
And children’s toys scattered all over the yard

“Bourgeois sentimentality!” some cry:
Well, yes, yes it is – by the Grace of God

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

To Incorporate Institutional Effectiveness into Our Everyday Language - poem

To Incorporate Institutional Effectiveness into
Our Everyday Language

)/)/)/ is updating our assessment plan for
Instructional units beginning this fall
2016 semester. After
Visiting with /)/, our SACSCOC
Consultant and Dr. /) yesterday
About our assessment process, it was
Determined that it is in our best interest
To clarify, verify and hopefully
Simplify the current random selection
Assessment process. Therefore, in lieu of
The use of the random selection process,
The plan for this semester and moving forward
Is to assess all students in all sections
Of courses used in the assessment process
And to report data on all students,
NOT just assessing or reporting data
On a random sample. In order to provide
Appropriate artifacts, we will choose
Representative samples (examples
Of great, fair and low achievement artifacts)
To be included in the artifacts
Collection for SACSCOC reporting. However,
We do still need to collect all artifacts
So we have those in the event they are
Needed. This will give us a better picture
Of how our students are performing.

I know that we are changing directions
And I ask that you be patient as we
Navigate through this process and determine
How best to collect, assess, and use the data
We receive to make continuous improvements
For the good of the students and to
Incorporate institutional effectiveness
Into our everyday language.

Thank you for your willingness to assist
In this process and determining the best
Ways to help our students. Stay tuned as we
Look at and develop some additional
Templates or formats to report the data.
Please share this information with your faculty.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Stagecoach That Robbed Its Passengers - Column, 9.19.16

Mack Hall, HSG

The Stagecoach That Robbed Its Passengers

A common commercial reference in western movies is the stagecoach / banking / shipping group known as, well, let us call it Snork-Ponsonby. In a good old Saturday matinee’ shoot-‘em-up the outlaws rob the train for the Snork-Ponsonby gold shipment, the Snork-Ponsonby Express Office for the farmers’ and miners’ deposits in the Snork-Ponsonby safe, and, most thrillingly of all, the Snork-Ponsonby stagecoach for its Snork-Ponsonby strongbox – so strong that a single shot from a revolver blows it open.

“Hand down that strongbox, ya capitalist lackeys, or we’ll shoot ya down off that stagecoach like flea-bitten mangy varmints throwing up the acidic remnants of busthead whiskey and prairie dog stew in the streets of Lordsburg, New Mexico after a night of carousing at the Shortbranch Saloon and Garden of Earthly delights!”

Or words to that effect.

Despite tremendous growth and changes of ownership and associations since its founding over 150 years ago, Snork-Ponsonby retains a strong commercial and cultural identification. Credit-Suisse doesn’t feature a stagecoach in its advertising or on its letterhead. As for France, the Credit Agricole-Credit Agricole Group (yes, there are two credits, two agricoles, and one group in the name, for some reason) is so title-heavy that a sign painter would have trouble fitting all that lengthy title-ness onto a wagon-lit.

Snork-Ponsonby long ago sold off its stagecoaches in order to focus on banking, but still must deal with robbers. Curiously, if the news is to be believed (and there have been no arrests or indictments), Snort-Ponsonby now robs its depositors itself, thus saving the bother and expense of the old-fashioned third-party road bandit.

Like Doc Boone and Miss Dallas in John Ford’s Stagecoach, some 5,000 Snork-Ponsonby employees have been told to be on the next stage out of town. They are victims because somebody / somebodies in the banking system secretly added credit cards and false accounts to customer’ existing portfolios, thus padding the already hard-to-understand monthly statements with all sorts of clever little charges.

The wonderful Canadian actor Berton Churchill personified the stereotype of the stuffy but corrupt banker as Gatewood in Stagecoach. As with Chaucer’s “Marchant” (merchant / businessman), Gatewood is pompous and preachy and dressed very well, but no one knows that his bank is failing due to his greed and incompetence:

     His resons he spak ful solempnely,
     Sownynge always th’encrees of his wynnyng.
     Wel koude he in eschaunge sheeldes selle,
     This worthy man ful wel his wit bisette,
     There wiste no wight that he was in dette

The modern personification of a corrupt banker might be a woman, a Snork-Ponsonby executive who cost thousands of industrious low-level banklings their livelihoods while her fellow Gatewoods on some board paid her millions to go away and, oh, spend more time with her family.

As the sun sets over the dusty trail west of Deming, let us close with one of Banker Gatewood’s speeches from Stagecoach, spoken while, as IMDB notes, he clutches to his heart the valise full of money he has stolen from the poor farmers, ranchers, miners, and workers who trusted him:

I don't know what the government is coming to….(w)hy, they're even talking now about having bank examiners. As if we bankers don't know how to run our own banks! Why, at home I have a letter from a popinjay official saying they were going to inspect my books. I have a slogan that should be blazoned on every newspaper in this country: America for the Americans! The government must not interfere with business! Reduce taxes! Our national debt is something shocking. Over one billion dollars a year! What this country needs is a businessman for president!

Amos 8:47 says it all much better, only without a stagecoach chase.


Let's go to the Pub and get Bombed - poem

Let’s go to the Pub and get Bombed

New York, 17 September 2016

Twenty-nine wounded, but nothing to fear -
The mayor assures us there’s no terror here

Friday, September 16, 2016

Oh, Possum! - poem

Oh, Possum!


Marsupials in the Mist


Didelphimorphia Park

Well, there you are, snarling behind the mesh
Of a steel humanitarian trap
For the crimes of digging under the fence
And encouraging the dogs to escape

Stop hissing, now, through rows of dragon-teeth
And listen to human words you won’t believe -
Late summer grapes have tempted you to this,
So absolution is granted; ajar is the door

Your executioner stands down: Go forth!
And be a better ‘possum forever more