The nation is in a struggle to choose its next animal.
Many couples can relate. Let’s say you’re moving and debating which furry quadruped will bedevil your family for the next decade.
“I’d like a dog,” you say. “They’re not perfect, but they’re fiercely protective and they force you to get off your ass, if only to clean up excrement.”
“I want a cat,” your wife says. “They don’t go bat-crap berserk on visitors.”
“I hate cats,” you say. “Don’t you know they secretly despise you? A dog will keep us safer.”
“I want a sub-Saharan Gaboon viper,” says Uncle Joe.
I forgot about Uncle Joe. He’s moving with you. In fact, he’s pitching in on the down payment on the new house, so you can’t swing this deal without him.
“What is that?” you ask.
“Biggest, most venomous viper in the world. Hugest fangs, amazing venom, just incredibly lethal. Some people call it a forest puff adder or swampjack, but I think Gaboon viper has the coolest ring.”
“It sounds dangerous,” says your wife.
“It doesn’t fool around,” says Uncle Joe.
“Um…no. The kids need a dog. It’s important. But if you’ve just got to have a no-good, horrible cat, maybe we can figure out—”
“Gaboon viper!” shouts Uncle Joe. “Or forget about the house.”
“What?” you say. “We’ve got kids! Are you joking right now?”
“Five letters. V-I-P-E-R. As in Gaboon.”
“Have you ever had one of those things?” you ask.
“Nope. Just dogs and cats. They all screwed me. Well, I had one dog I loved. And my dad had a cat he liked. But I am completely sick of dogs and cats. It’s time for a Gaboon.”
PLEASE CHOOSE YOUR NEXT LEADER.
“I could consider a small dog if I had to,” says your wife.
“You liked a dog before. There’s not one you’d accept? A Beagle? Chihuahua? Mutt terrier?
“I want my Gaboon.”
You get angry.
“You know what? If we had gotten our act together we wouldn’t even need your help! I really resent what you’re doing right now.”
“Coulda woulda shoulda. Gaboon.”
“We are not getting a Gaboon,” says your wife. “And that is final.”
“Final my ass. Let me tell you people something. You two lightweights never listened to me, but now you’ll listen. We will not be getting another brainless butt licker or evil scheming puss-puss if I have any say. And for once, I have a lot of say. You know what that means?”
“A coyote…” you plead.
“Gaboon Gaboon Gaboon! Most successful ambush viper in world! It will be absolutely amazing.”
“Uncle Joe,” your wife says. “Did you ever think that it might kill you?”
“Unlikely. While they are among the fastest-striking serpents and those two-inch stupendously venomous fangs scare the pee out of everything, they usually only kill when provoked. Hell, they’re even friendly when they need to be. If they get their steady diet of hares and doves.”
“I can’t believe we’re even talking about this,” you say.
“You better sort this out,” your wife says to you. “We agreed to put our final choices in a hat and have little Ellie choose one, but I never imagined that your bitter, angry uncle would—”
“Another thing about the phenomenally great Gaboon viper,” says Uncle Joe. “He’ll remember who loves him. And he will see that my concerns are taken very, very seriously. That means things will change. It’ll be fun to watch you losers cowering in a corner wondering when he’ll sink his teeth into you.”
“Dear…lord,” your wife says.
“That’s the Gaboon way,” says Uncle Joe.
“I…this isn’t over,” you say.
The next day, you hand him your cell phone.
“It’s your old friend, Mitt.”
He rolls his eyes and lays down his newspaper.
“Yes, Mitt,” he says. Squawking ensues. You hear “kids” and “disaster” and “unsmart.” Uncle Joe repeats “uh-huh” several times and then abruptly says, “Okay you take real good care, bye now.” He hands your phone back.
“So?” you ask.
He snaps the newspaper stiff and resumes reading.
“Read my lips: Gaboon.”
It’s time for groveling.
“Uncle Joe, please. I don’t understand why this isn’t clear to you. It could kill…everyone. Even if it never got loose, if we somehow kept it locked in its cage 24/7, we could never relax for one minute. And God forbid if a stranger came in, it would freaking–”
“That’s just what the doctor ordered,” says Uncle Joe, still reading. “Getting a little tired of strangers. Seems like everything’s a little too strange. Don’t you think?”
“Definitely,” you say.
The down payment is due. Joe wants your pledge that Gaboon will be in the hat, and if little Ellie makes the wrong choice—and he’s watching for hijinks—it’s Gaboon time. You’re praying for long shots. Maybe the authorities will step in say “sorry, no Gaboons allowed.” Maybe you’ll kick the Gaboon out after a month, but that’ll be ugly, too. Uncle Joe holds a note on your house and he will not go gently into the Gaboonless night.
Or, God, maybe the epically deadly Gaboon will somehow make your home the coolest, safest…
Whoa, you’ve got more than a drop of Uncle Joe’s blood, don’t you?
Gaboon’s in the hat. Start thinking cages.
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News-Papers Must Support
Wealthy G.O.P. Gentle-Man
Ridiculed For His Comb Of Hair
News-paper men, and ladies in the Trade, reporting on the ongoing in-state contests to choose the candidates for the U.S. Presidency, are displaying hostile aversion to one of the gentle-men of the Republican Party. They strongly fear this gentle-man, known for the constructing of conglomerate dwellings and appearances on the tele-vision, will now irrevocably win the nomination and lay destruction to Lincoln’s Party, and—should he prevail in the Presidential election—destroy any well-being of the United States.
While this gentle-man’s name is written daily in this broadsheet, my reckoning of the shoe leather sentiment held by the finger pecking ranks in this foul smelling office, usually cloaked well under-neath their inked stories, was deemed invective and I was requested to “not go there,” which our night broom man informed does not reference any existing place a man could go.
My dear, beautiful mother, Joan, passed away this past Sunday afternoon, August 16, after fighting lung cancer. She was 81. She was my best friend, my best editor, and my reason for living. I miss her more than words can express.
Everyone who knew and loved my mom knew she was an incredible human being. I’m heartbroken that she’s left me, and I’m trying to just get through each new hour without her gentle eyes and warm smile. She was the life and light of our family and her leaving has left a void that hurts unbearably.
To honor her, we are creating a scholarship in my mom’s name for bachelors and masters students in the School of Social Work at Rutgers University in Camden and New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Rutgers is my mother’s alma mater, and she was a most non-traditional student. She enrolled in college when she was 58.
We’ve created the Joan Geraci Memorial Scholarship so other wonderful human beings like my mom can fulfill their dream of becoming a social worker…without waiting 35 years to do so.
Having stopped her education at the eighth grade in Mt. Ephraim, New Jersey, mom began working to support herself in Philadelphia in her teens and married her husband, Samuel, in 1954 when she was just 19. They soon settled in Bellmawr, NJ, right outside of Philadelphia. After watching John F. Kennedy make a speech about volunteering in the early 1960s, mom decided she wanted to be a social worker. But it was not to be, for more than three decades.
After raising four children and while caring for her husband Sam during a long illness (my dad passed away on Christmas Day in 1997, a few months before their 43rd anniversary), mom started college to become a social worker at age 58. She soon earned her bachelors, and went on to earn her masters in social work at Rutgers University in Camden, New Jersey at age 64.
Mom had a successful decade-plus career as a full-time social worker, working with juvenile sex offenders, incarcerated youths, displaced children and troubled families throughout Camden County. She has many “success stories” who have better lives today due to their regular sessions with “Miss Joan” — most poignantly a little child named Brittany who mom helped escape a very troubling life in foster care. Mom considered little Brittany to be her most special “success story,” and though she was not allowed to contact Brittany after she left mom’s oversight at age 8, mom thought of her often. Brittany would now be in her late teens, and is one of many children and adults who remember the caring, patient, tireless woman who became her friend and protector and port in a storm in an unkind world.
When she stopped working full-time in social work in her mid 70s, she still continued helping many people end addictions, leave abusive relationships and find resources to care for needy or sick loved ones. Most passionately, she encouraged–championed–anyone who wanted to further their education. She helped many young and older people enroll in community colleges, trade schools, four-year universities and masters programs.
We’ve created this scholarship so that mom might continue to touch lives in this way.
We approached her with the idea of this scholarship for students majoring in social work just a few days before she passed away. She liked it very much. When asked whether the scholarship should focus on non-traditional students aged 35 and older, or be available to all students, her answer was clear even though her voice was quite weak. “Open to everyone,” she said.
Each year, the Joan Geraci Memorial Scholarship will help a deserving student at the Rutgers University School of Social Work in Camden or New Brunswick earn their BSW or MSW with a little less burden. Mom struggled financially to complete her college education in her late 50s and 60s. She couldn’t afford books and had to borrow teacher’s editions and photocopies. It took her many years to pay off her loans. Through her scholarship, we hope to help students seeking a career dedicated to helping others struggle just a little less than she did in the years they spend earning their degrees.
The yearly scholarship will start at $4000 and will grow over time, as the Fund grows. We plan to award the first scholarship in the fall of 2016.
If you knew mom, you know there is so much more to say here. (We are talking a woman so indefatigable, she once found a way to phone the baseball manager of the Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda, in the dugout during a live game to request a signed photo of 1960s-era pitcher Sandy Koufax for me. It arrived by FedEx the next day.)
Even though mom has been taken from me, her love and compassion and courage remain as vivid as ever in my life.
If you might briefly consider making a donation to her scholarship fund, I’d be eternally grateful. Donations can be made online with Gofundme.com at www.gofundme.com/joangeracimemschol, or the old-fashioned way by sending a check payable to “Joan Geraci Scholarship Fund” to TD Bank, 129 South Black Horse Pike, Runnemede, NJ 08078. (The donation will also be accepted at any TD Bank location.)
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After four months.
In his first post-suspension interview on June 19, safely on the home NBC turf of the Today show, he persistently dodged a pivotal question Matt Lauer asked but didn’t press forcefully enough: Did he actively know that he was lying when he was telling his many exaggerated tales?
He wouldn’t go there. He just repeated that he got things wrong. Said things “that weren’t true.” His ego made him pump up his stories, but he never intended to mislead anyone.
As genuinely ham-fisted as he’s trying to appear in his sorry-soaked reemergence, Williams is still far from genuine. He’s still putting forward a persona, still trying to sell a man sitting across from him on buying the product he’s creating. Those long-breathed mea culpa sentences are meant to seem clear and naked enough to distract you from noticing they are still equivocations, still conspicuously never add up to I knew I was lying and I kept doing it. Read MoreNo tags for this post.
I’ve become a fair to middling cook in the last year, due to repetition. Chopping, mincing, sautéing, grilling. Watching how heat changes and destroys something. Learning to control the destruction. That’s what cooking is. Controlled destruction.
It’s tactile. If you mainly work with words and other brain figments, attempting to distill air into digital bits that will be inked on a pulverized tree weeks or months down the road, or left as bits, doing something tactile and physical is welcome. The simpler tasks in preparing food can be meditative and unwind a worded-up brain much like drinking alcohol. You’re doing something with your hands that’s tangible and multisensory. It can start and end in the same slice of day. It produces a result that you can hold and taste, one that hits the first slab on the Maslow pyramid. Cooking is what writing isn’t. Read MoreNo tags for this post.
Get a fucking website. It’s not 1975 anymore. I’m going to look you up after someone gives me your name or I find you on HomeAdvisor or Thumbtack or any of the other referral services. You have no website? Game over. I’m not gonna hire you for anything important. How fucking serious could you be? Okay, maybe “you have so much work you don’t need one.” Keep in mind you sound like some 70-year old fool who said he didn’t need a telephone in 1960.
Refrain from only sending out the fucking sales dude. I know, you’re paying a commission to this guy with the polo shirt and brochures to be your front man while you’re off working and earning money. I get it. You can’t be doing estimates all day. So I’m here talking to Cliff or Joe or Derek and wondering if anybody tells him he wears too much cologne. Thing is, I know I’ll never see this schmoe again. I want to talk to the guy who’ll be swinging the hammer. Or onsite telling somebody else to swing the hammer. Until that person comes and looks at the job, I won’t take your bid seriously. Read MoreNo tags for this post.
Pope Francis arrives at the Tacloban Airport in the Philippines on January 17, 2015. Image: Wikimedia Commons
I like Pope Francis. It’s hard not to like him. He’s folksy. He goes crowd wading while his security staffers piss themselves. He’s got a smile that’s both kind and a little devilish. I’d like to have a beer with him, to cite the ultimate good-human test.
The breathtakingly stupid mom-slur analogy he made on January 15, during the press session on a plane heading to the Philippines, even underscores why I like him. (Translations vary mildly, but he took a shadow jab at some hapless papal stooge and said something close to, “If my good friend Dr. Gasbarri says a curse word against my mother, a punch awaits him. It’s normal. It’s normal. You cannot provoke. You cannot insult the faith of others. You cannot make fun of the faith of others.”)
The early backlash to the “je suis Charlie” phrase began hardly a day after the eight Charlie Hebdo editors and illustrators (plus four additional people) were murdered by terrorists in Paris on January 7. Several contrarians painted it as a hypocritical, beer-muscled line mostly being parroted by people who would never display the reckless courage of the Charlie Hebdo staff, don’t have a clue about the newspaper’s editorial point of view and likely wouldn’t be nearly as broken up about the identical slaughter of people who, say, were gunned down for drawing caricatures of Jews or blacks. Or maybe Americans.
Of course, “je suis Charlie” is just the latest iteration of the “I am” rallying meme that starts going around after a bloody event. For example, “I am Trayvon Martin,” “I am a Jew,” “I’m Michael Brown,” etc. By now, some people have closets with nasty identity disorders. I get that the broadly intended meaning of this Swiss Army slogan is “I’m united with the persecuted party” or “when you hurt them, you hurt me.” But I’m pretty tired of hearing it from people who are in no way similar to the entity they are supposedly boldly supporting.