Comrades Brezhnev and Nixon: За здоровье!
Under the rule of Hero of the White Race Donald Jehoshaphat Trump, it is suspiciously reminiscent of the bad old days of the Leonid Brezhnev’s Soviet Union. Both rulers are mentally decrepit, yet outwardly pugnacious. To come up to the Brezhnev standard, our Presidente is now using battlefield language. According to a story in the Los Angeles Times:
Donald Trump has described himself as a “wartime president” during the coronavirus crisis, and now he seems to have found his army as he pushes the country to reopen despite the risks.
In recent days, he’s begun describing citizens as “warriors” in the battle against the pandemic and suggested some of those fighters might have to die if that will help boost the economy.
“Will some people be affected? Yes,” he said on a trip to Arizona this week, his first outside of the Washington area in nearly two months. “Will some people be affected badly? Yes. But we have to get our country open, and we have to get it open soon.”
Notice the two medals that Brezhnev is sporting. One of them signifies that he is a Hero of the Soviet Union:
Hero of the Soviet Union Medal
Perhaps Trump needs to send us—in addition to those putative $1,200 checks—a medal signifying that we are Heroes of the Chinese Virus War.
I for one do not wish to be a “hero” or “warrior” as Trump defines it. That could only mean in Trumpspeak that we are losers. It is preferable to the Donald that all the “heroes” and “warriors” die nobly so that he could look good at our collective obsequies.
Actually, Stupidity Renders One Particularly Susceptible
Yesterday as I went food shopping at Ralph’s Supermarket, I noticed several shopping carts with multiple packs of toilet tissue. Typically, I could not resist commenting aloud, “I didn’t know there were so many asswipes in Santa Monica!” (Strictly speaking, that isn’t true: I consider the City of Santa Monica to be densely populated with asswipes, but that’s another story altogether.)
Actually, the panicked grocery shoppers of Santa Monica are part of a confusing global trend. Some of the funniest toilet paper memes are from Australia and other countries.
Please explain to me why toilet paper is effective in preventing COVID-19. Unless, perhaps it is used in this way:
The Curse of the Mummies?
And it’s not just toilet paper. There’s a run on liquid soaps and hand cleaning solutions. That must mean that I’m particularly susceptible: I don’t like washing my hands with liquids, preferring instead a good bar of soap. And yet, there doesn’t seem to be a run on soap bars. Curiouser and curiouser.
Well, It Is Sort of Ring-Shaped
Now We Know What Our President Would Read (If He Could Read)
I strongly suspect that this comic is the source for our Presidente’s notion of a “Space Force” to protect us from Inter-Galactic Baddies. Since I happen to know that he can’t read, the source must have been one of his staff, perhaps Mike Pence, who has been looking quite spacey lately—especially since the scuttlebutt is that our next Vice-Presidente may be Ivanka. (She would look particularly good in a space suit, to match the spaciness of her usual facial expression.)
Where Is the “Mission Accomplished” Sign?
Some Other Trump Prospects After Greenland
Our Presidente clearly wants to add to his real estate empire. If he buys Greenland, will it be called Trumpland? Without the ice, wouldn’t it be too barren for him. I have some other ideas for prospective purchases to be added to the burgeoning Trump Empire.
Oz’s Emerald City is a natural, but only if the Golden one can have gold plumbing fixtures installed. It’s a natural property for someone who likes to distract tin men, scarecrows, lions, and little girls by pretending to be something other than what he is, and more powerful.
Duckburg Would Be Even Better to Replenish Funds Lost in Bankruptcies
Scrooge McDuck’s Duckburg would be a much-needed acquisition to allow the Trump to dive in fresh and rather substantial cash reserves which, at present, he doesn’t have. He can replace Donald and his pesky nephews with Jared, Don Jr, and Eric. I’m sure he can find funny names for them. He’s rather good at that.
Pleasure Island from Pinocchio Would Be a Natural Acquisition
A man who likes to grab women by their lady parts would love Pleasure Island. All he has to do is add his name. What do you think of Trump Pleasure Island? It’s too bad that Jeffrey Epstein isn’t around any more to help him populate it with fun subservient underage girls who share his lack of moral compass.
Cover of a French Edition of the Voyage
Well, not exactly. But he is known to have drunk approximately fifty cups of Java each day. No doubt that helped inspire him to write this hilarious spoof of voyages to exotic locales. It is not until the last couple of pages that Honoré de Balzac writes:
In truth, soon I will be losing no time in taking the stagecoach once again, travelling back to Paris across the fields of Touraine and Poitou that I thought I should never see again. During my first days back in Paris I had a lot of trouble persuading myself that I had not indeed been to Java, so much had that traveller [M. Grand-Besançon] struck my imagination with his tales.
So in the end it is a delightful hoax. Balzac tells a series of tall tales redolent of earlier (unsubstantiatable) journeys full of tall tales about the flora, fauna, and women of the Far East. Not all of it consists of tall tales, such as this realistic warning to travelers to be alert at all times:
Go inside a shop selling precious cloths; bargain, buy some cashmere or a length of tamava … if you turn your back for a moment while the merchant is rolling up your purchase on the counter, wrapping it and tying it with string, the package flies to the back of the shop and is replaced by another containing inferior goods, that an apprentice has been preparing in the corner of the shop to look exactly like the one you were buying. With no explanation for this miraculous metamorphosis, you return to the shop furious at having been duped by the Chinese everybody had warned you about; but his only response is to laugh at you.
I have read virtually all of Balzac as translated into English, but this is by far the funniest of his works. An English edition entitled My Journey from Paris to Java (Singapore: Editions Didier Millet, 2010) is available.
British Poet Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
Considering how much I like him, I wonder why I haven’t written about Philip Larkin before. Today, I read a piece in the Times Literary Supplement by his literary executor, Graeme Richardson, that contained some wonderful anecdotes, among which was the following.
Once Larkin was unable to have me to dinner in college, so we met for lunch instead, in a pub almost opposite Magdalen College called The Aldgate. A degree ceremony was taking place elsewhere in the city, and the bar where we had our beer and ham sandwiches was full of gownwearing graduates and their proud parents. One of these recent graduates (a “sweet girl graduate,” in fact), recognized Larkin and brought across her napkin for him to sign. Despite his reputation as a semi-recluse, and her obvious fear that he might growl and tell her to go away, he graciously did as she asked. As she withdrew clutching her trophy, I said something about her being pretty. “I know,” he said. “You wouldn’t believe what a disadvantage my deafness has been to me all my life. I shudder to think how many women have come up to me and said, ‘Take me, lover,’ only to have me reply, ‘Yes it is rather warm for the time of year, isn’t it.’”
I Scream, You Scream …
Actor Jim Carrey looks to be on the point of starting a brilliant new career, as an Anti-Trump Twitter Troll. The tweet that went with the above picture is:
Even more artistic is this one about General Kelly:
The accompanying tweet reads as follows:
Finally, I couldn’t pass up this attack on the current Speaker of the House of Representatives:
And the tweet thereunto appertaining:
You can see all the pictures by clicking here.
Here Are Some German Terms That Will You Understand the World Trumpf made
The following text appeared in Salon.Com, which was quoting a site from Alter.Net. Since Our Fuehrer’s family hails from the Vaterland, I thought it was appropriate to let you in on it.
Fernweh, or “distance pain,” is like the opposite of homesickness. It’s the feeling of wanting to be elsewhere, anywhere but where you are at this moment. The fernweh many Americans feel today is a bit like wanderlust, minus the glamour, and with the added fear that you may be harshly judged as an American traveling abroad in the time of Trump.
Weltschmerz translates literally to “world pain,” and boy oh boy, does that say it all. It’s the state of weariness one feels at the state of the world. Some of us may have felt a constant state of weltschmerz since Nov. 9, 2016.
If your state of weltschmerz has been really getting to you, it’s possible you’ve put on a few extra pounds of kummerspeck, or literally, “grief bacon.” Know that you’re at least in good company: last year, Barbra Streisand, Judd Apatow and others complained they’d gained a “Trump 10” in the months following the election. Eat your feelings, indeed.
This wonderful heap of syllables evokes chaos or a hopelessly messy, unstructured state. Sounds like the White House as told by Michael Flynn.
This is a state of unfiltered, primal rage. You may have felt it over the past year while listening to any White House press conference, hearing Trump describe Haiti, El Salvador and many African nations as “shithole countries,” seeing the president troll Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on social media…or really, any time at all.
Ever felt ashamed on behalf of a member of the Trump White House? Like the time Kellyanne Conway told Fox viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff”? Or when Trump claimed his inauguration speech literally made the clouds part and the sun come out? That’s fremdschaemen.
In German, this means “a face that deserves to be punched.” Insert your own joke here.
Well, What Is It Like Being a Spirit in the Afterlife?
There is a delightful story in Alfred Döblin’s Bright Magic: Stories (New York: New York Review Books, 2016) entitled “Traffic with the Beyond.” The story is about an attempt to solve a murder using a séance. The spirits, however, take a more active role than is expected of them:
With that, the session ended. Incidentally, van Steen’s rage at the beyond is more comprehensible when we realize the job that this man, who so loved life and had lived in such high style here, had on the other side: Garbage collection! That was the usual assignment for a certain kind of new arrival, whose heart still clung to earthly things and who led a wild life on the other (that is, this) side. Conceited bachelors were given that job as well, and famous luminaries such as scientists, painters, tenors, and generals. For there was garbage in the beyond, stemming from the titanic mass of rotten, shriveled, worthless ideas and preferences that everyone brought with them, gradually threw off, and as it were sweated out of their system—things that no longer had or could have any place in the strict, noble, and spiritual other side. This sad latrine duty was assigned to the merry van Steen. He, and others, had to sweep up this daily rubbish and cart it off to be burned. In his affliction he, like many others, simply scattered the stuff back down onto the earth.
The Supreme Court in Washington
I was amused by this post in The Futility Closet website:
The U.S. Supreme Court building is pretty spiffy. It has its own cafeteria, a 450,000-book library and a basketball court on the fifth floor (which staffers call “the highest court in the land”).
It’s so spiffy that when it opened in 1935, some justices were embarrassed. Harlan Fiske Stone called it “almost bombastically pretentious … wholly inappropriate for a quiet group of old boys such as the Supreme Court.” Others called it “the Temple of Karnak” and suggested that justices ought to enter the courtroom riding on elephants.
A New Take on the Ten Commandments
One worrying note: The building’s frieze depicts Moses delivering the Ten Commandments, but his beard obscures some of the Hebrew, so the visible text reads:
But let that pass.