Thursday, March 31, 2011

Muskogee Chamber of Commerce

We don't smoke marijuana in Muskogee; We don't don't take our trips on LSD We don't burn our draft cards down on Main Street; We like livin' right, and bein' free. We don't make a party out of lovin'; We like holdin' hands and pitchin' woo; We don't let our hair grow long and shaggy, Like the hippies out in San Francisco do. And I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee, A place where even squares can have a ball We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse, And white lightnin's still the biggest thrill of all Leather boots are still in style for manly footwear; Beads and Roman sandals won't be seen. Football's still the roughest thing on campus, And the kids here still respect the college dean. I'm proud to be an Okie from Muskogee, A place where even squares can have a ball We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse, and White lightnin's still the biggest thrill of all We still wave Old Glory down at the courthouse, And I love -- Muskogee, Oklahoma, U.S.A.

This is aggravating me: I can't get the SPACES to work, on my blog. I type things in, and space down, and the Computer / Internet / What-Have-You seems to ignore my polite, reasonable spacing directions, and the Type comes out in a block.

Sorry, to any reading this;

"I'm-a-doin' the best I can!"

I don't know what's wrong --

any chance I can pass it off as New Art Form:

stream-of-consciousness expressed in stream-of-typing ??

Damned internet, anyway ...

-30 again-

Oh sure, NOW I get spaces ...!!!

I give up -30-

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Power Play

I've written a "rap": or maybe it is Hip-Hop, or R & B, I'm not sure -- think gangstas from urban areas will soon be wanting to record this. ---------------------------
"The Power Play

(giving it the finger)"

He says "Jump,"

You say "How high?"

So reactive

My oh my


To do what's right a person must

Carefully think about whom to trust

Looking at motives and their recourse,

And always, always consider the source


Dominoes fall so predictably

The schemer taps, seems cryptically,

But his plan is firm in mind

Much experience of the kind

Has shown him the results he can get

With prestige positions he has met.


His penchant to precipitate

tense relations and manipulate

so that one feels strong,

the other feels wrong,

and -- sort of like Hong Kong

when given back to the red Chinese,

was like, "don't start picking

I'm begging you, please!"


Listen to your level-headed self

Instead of that mischief-making,

squint-eyed elf,

Who, like Iago of Shakespeare's play,

wonders, "Whom can I mess up

and put down, today?"


He encounters you, inclusive,

and draws you in,

Above the shark, in the water, the fin

Is like that first domino

That was upright until

He tapped it, going on in for the kill,

No weapons needed --

just that one,





Tuesday, March 29, 2011

unexpected dream

(found a poem)
Can't Predict

Like a fish jumps,


up from the surface

of the water,

And dives back in,

as finale,

One can rise

into consciousness

And then plunge back

Into Sleep's

Alternative Cavern,

To meet a scene

would not have thought --

Meeting familiar


waiting alone

for -- (?)

in my own front room

with desks,



he stands

in dooway,

back to wall,

wearing prescription


I'm wearing

reading glasses

his hands


at his sides

palms up --


that's a surprise

you never know,

with dreams


Monday, March 28, 2011

lonnng, thiinnnn cigarette holder

People who smoke a cigarette through a long cigarette holder: Audrey Hepburn (in "Breakfast at Tiffany's) President Franklin Delano Roosevelt Tennessee Williams Hunter Thompson. --------------------- ---- the first two, I could come up with on my own; someone else's blog gave me the last two names: playwright; "gonzo" journalist. Was remembering a personal experience: I was somewhere between 19 and 24 -- in conversation with a woman who was about 11 years older than me; a local couple was mentioned, casually, by me, & my friend said, "I saw them [the husband & wife] in Pizza Hut one night; he was sitting there smoking a cigarette from a long, thin cigarette holder." "Uh huh." "I don't know -- they were just -- sitting there, and he had that long cigarette holder, and -- I don't know -- I guess I'm just not like that." ------------------------- This small exchange is far in the past now, (as may be noted by the fact that people were smoking right there inside of the Pizza Hut - !! these Modern Times we are able to eat Never-Before-Smoked-Next-To pizza ...) -- it's indeed far in the past, and yet the memory never went away -- it would come back to me, unbidden in offbeat moments, knocking on the door of my thoughts, demanding to be considered, analyzed, or at least not forgotten. And I would think to myself, "So silly!" Why was she so intimidated by a darned old cigarette holder? So what?! Let him smoke from a hookah like the giant caterpillar in Alice In Wonderland, if he wants to -- who cares? --------------- "I guess I'm just not Like that" was what she said -- all I could understand from her observation and discomfort with it was that she felt like some other couple was somehow -- more elegant sophisticated stylish classy -- better in some way, than herself & her own husband. "Better"? Or -- not as good, but edging "too close" to herself and her husband -- too close, in the -- what? Race? Competition? Race to where? Competition for what? ---------------------------- In my myopic perspective at that very young age, all I could think of at the time was that my friend with whom I was having the conversation was fabulous. I thought she and her husband were wonderful, and only wanted to become accomplished enough so that they might value my friendship as much as I valued theirs. And yet -- here she was, worried that she wasn't keeping up with -- somebody else. ------------------------ And with a more recent perspective, with increased experience on my Resumé-as-Living-Being, I can now watch that little memory-tape and think of something which I was too overwhelmed to think of, at the time -- if I could be there in that moment, I'd now have the calm wisdom to say, with gentle irony, "Well, first of all, you don't smoke." (Hello???!!! LOL ...) I mean, the "extent to which you Do Not Need a long, thin cigarette holder can hardly be overstated because, neither You nor Your Husband Smokes !!" ..... (This is why "Competition," a concept which is so revered by many people that you run the risk of being "politically incorrect" if you dare to question the Ruling Terrific-ness of the Almighty Ethos of Competition -- still, in my humble opinion, needs to be questioned, as a way of living your emotional life, because "competition" in personal relations seems to me, to lead to all kinds of unproductive silliness, like feeling all insecure because someone else is smoking their cigarette from a long, thin cigarette-holder. As Steve Martin used to say, to such great effect, "Well, excu-u-u-u-use me!" And also, "Who cares?" and "Good for them." [FDR used to totally get photographed all the time with a big old long cigarette holder, and our buddy the local socialite (?) with the elegant and intimidating cigarette holder was a dyed-in-the-wool Republican, so maybe cigarette holders are bi-partisan. Great; we applaud that.]) Realized recently that you can like people and they may not like you back and -- that is OK. When you are young and starting out, you want everything to be an "equals" = sign. When you let go of the idea of the equals sign, you can relax and enjoy Life more.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Before the Flood

It rained and it rained and it rained.
...It was rather exciting. The little dry ditches in which Piglet had nosed about so often had become streams, the little streams across which he had splashed were rivers, and the river, between whose steep banks they had played so happily, had sprawled out of its own bed and was taking up so much room everywhere, that Piglet was beginning to wonder whether it would be coming into HIS bed soon.
[excerpt, Winnie-The-Pooh. Chapter IX, In Which Piglet Is Entirely Surrounded by Water]
Water edging over roads and into our lives, where I live -- not all from rain, but from some recent rain, some recent snow, & a lot of snow-melt. People finding alternative routes to get places, and speculating on whether or not, soon, they will be able to get anywhere at all.

Last night I stood "in line" (behind one guy) at a store. He was about my height -- five-foot six or so -- and was wearing rubber boots. Brown hair. He spoke with the young lady behind the counter: "My neighbor's road was under water in one spot, you couldn't drive on it."
(mental note to self: stay off country roads)

"The culvert ..." he went on -- [the culvert something -- I don't know...] ..."So he [the neighbor] put down some cement, there, & some gravel..."

I said, "Wow! He laid his own concrete - ? You mean he basically made a road himself?
That's very enterprising of him. And creative!"
(I was picturing one of those trucks where the round, barrel-like thing goes around and around -- a cement truck, or whatever...)
"Well, I mean, he's doing the county's job for them, I suppose the county should..."
"Township's," he said. "That's the township's job."
And he went on --

"And what he did -- he just went and got two big -- chunks of cement -- pieces of an old sidewalk, and he set those there. And put some gravel there. To make it so he could drive over it. But --"
He considered and worried for a brief moment --
"If somebody else was driving and didn't know what's there -- [with a nervous half-smile] if they were to hit one of those chunks of sidewalk, that -- that would not be good."

(mental note to self: stay hell off country roads)
------------------- [In Which Piglet - Surrounded...]: "It's a little Anxious," he said to himself, "to be a Very Small Animal Entirely Surrounded by Water. Christopher Robin and Pooh could escape by Climbing Trees, and Kanga could escape by Jumping, and Rabbit could escape by Burrowing, and Owl could escape by Flying, and Eeyore could escape by -- by Making a Loud Noise Until Rescued, and here am I, surrounded by water and I can't do anything."

...It was on this morning that Owl came flying over the water to say "How do you do," to his friend Christopher Robin.
"I say, Owl," said Christopher Robin, "isn't this fun? I'm on an island!"
"The atmospheric conditions have been very unfavourable lately," said Owl.
"The what?"
"It has been raining," explained Owl.
"Yes," said Christopher Robin. "It has."
"The flood-level has reached an unprecedented height."
"The who?"
"There's a lot of water about," explained Owl.
"Yes," said Christopher Robin, "there is."
-----------------[end excerpt]
[Winnie-the-Pooh, by
A.A. Milne. Copyright
1926 by E.P. Dutton
& Co., Inc., New York]

Thursday, March 24, 2011

never realize the time

I've seen love go by my door
It's never been this close before
Never been so easy or so slow
Been shooting in the dark too long
When somethin's not right it's wrong
You're gonna make me lonesome when you go

Dragon clouds so high above
I've only known careless love
It's always hit me from below
This time 'round it's more correct
Right on target, so direct
You're gonna make me lonesome when you go

Purple clover, Queen Anne's lace
Crimson hair across your face
You can make me cry if you don't know
Can't remember what I was thinkin' of
You might be spoilin' me too much, love
You're gonna make me lonesome when you go

Flowers on the hillside bloomin' crazy
Crickets talkin' back and forth in rhyme
Blue river runnin' slow and lazy
I could stay with you forever and never realize the time

Situations have ended sad
Relationships have all been bad
Mine've been like Verlaine's and Rimbaud
But there's no way I can compare
All those scenes to this affair
You're gonna make me lonesome when you go

You're gonna make me wonder what I'm doin'
Stayin' far behind without you
You're gonna make me wonder what I'm sayin'
You're gonna make me give myself a good talkin' to

I'll look for you in old Honalu-lah
San Francisco, Ashtabula
You're gonna have to leave me now, I know
But I'll see you in the sky above
In the tall grass, in the ones I love
You're gonna make me lonesome when you go

[Bob Dylan; "You're Gonna
Make Me Lonesome When
You Go," Blood on
the Tracks album]

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

cause of corruption

"Power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely."
sounds good --
but I have a different theory, based on observation.

In my experience,
some people
who have
frustrations they can't deal with;
low self-esteem;
something to prove;
a drive to domination for its own sake,

and have a need to work this out, somehow, on the World, will seek a position of power from which to operate.

I don't believe the person
Gets the Power
and THEN that Power "corrupts" them --
like if you ate something & got food poisoning.

It appears to me that a corrupt person in power
had the corruption, (or the tendency toward it -- the personal "deficit")
when they arrived at the power.

Having the power just allows the person (Saddam Hussein, for example) to perpetrate more outrageous atrocities on the world and to
obliterate obstacles
protect himself effectively from censure, or defeat.

The more he wins, the more he can win.
The more people he kills, the more people he can kill.
The Power isn't the Problem.
The Problem is the Person who uses the power to do bad things.

(I always remember a catch-phrase Maxwell Smart would use -- sometimes at the end of an episode of "Get Smart," when they're wrapping up the loose ends of the case, Max would become deeply contemplative and gaze off into the distance, & say (in that nasal New-York-accent twang),
"If only he had used his power [pow-ah]
for niceness,
Instead of
for evil.")


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

civilized society

----------------- Kennedy returned to his native Massachusetts one final time the following Saturday to dedicate the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College. The poet had died the previous January at age eighty-eight. At the time of his death, he and Kennedy had been estranged as a result of Frost's remarks on American weakness after visiting the Soviet Union. When Frost fell ill in December 1962, it was front-page news. Telegrams poured in from around the world, but no word came from the White House. "Frost was deeply offended that Kennedy hadn't communicated with him," said Stewart Udall, Frost's close friend. ...

Nevertheless, Kennedy remained a great admirer of Frost's work and decided to honor him. Flying to Amherst on Saturday, October 26, Kennedy worked over remarks written by Arthur Schlesinger for the Frost dedication. Udall warned Kennedy that Leslie Frost was furious about the President's snub at the end of her father's life. "Is there going to be a fuss?" Kennedy inquired. "I don't think so," Udall replied. "But if you see me wrestling on the ground with a woman you'll know she's there." Replied JFK, "Whatever you do, Stewart, we'll give you the benefit of the doubt."

Kennedy's speech was one of his finest, a meditation on the role of the artist in a civilized society. He called Frost "one of the granite figures of our time in America," and observed that "because he knew the midnight as well as the high noon, because he understood the ordeal as well as the triumph of the human spirit, he gave his age strength with which to overcome despair." Kennedy admired Frost for coupling "poetry and power, for he saw poetry as the means of saving power from itself....When power corrupts, poetry cleanses....I see little of more importance to the future of our country and our civilization than full recognition of the place of the artist....I look forward to an America which will reward achievement in the arts as we reward achievement in business or statecraft."
[Grace and Power, by Sally
Bedell Smith, (Chapter
Twenty-Nine). Copyright
2004. Random House.
New York]
2 things: I think we got what Pres. Kennedy hoped for -- "full recognition of the place of the artist" -- in the Kennedy Center, and the events showcased there.
secondly, that quote about "power corrupts" --
"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely." That quote is from Lord Acton (1834 - 1902), full name, John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, an historian, politician, & writer.
I think everyone has heard that quote, and most believe it -- I always did, until experience and observation showed me something different: when I watched the political process from closer range, what I saw was
people becoming "corrupted" by "Power"
but rather I witnessed the fact that there are two kinds of people who run for public office,
those who want to serve,
and those who want to be somebody.
The ones who want to serve can excel, and have fun in the process.
The ones who want to be somebody range from
a little silly, to
a little scary, to
seriously dangerous.
The ones who people say, later, were "corrupted by power" --
came in corrupt, in my view. (Not meant as an insult to any --
just something I noticed.)
The "power corrupts" quotation sounds good,
and far be it from me to argue with a guy who has that many names.
And JFK's phrase -- "when power corrupts, poetry cleanses" ...OK. Not going to argue with him either. If poetry can "cleanse" some of these yahoos, I say, go with Pres. Kennedy's recommendation & drench 'em.

Monday, March 21, 2011

that joint started rocking

excerpt from Tina Turner's life story
(written with rock journalist Kurt Loder):
------------------ It was around this time [1962] that Ike hired his first -- and last -- white Ikette...Bonnie Lynn O'Farrell, his fan from the St. Louis club scene. She would become noted later in the sixties as one half of the rock team Delaney & Bonnie.

Bonnie Bramlett:
I was working by then -- I'd started singing in clubs when I was fourteen....Well, Ike fired his bass player then, Sam Rhodes, and when Sam left he took his girlfriend, Jessie Smith -- the Ikette -- with him. So Ike needed somebody -- he had a gig the next night. I knew the parts, so he said, "You wanna go?" I said, "You've gotta ask my mom." And he did. He pulled up to our house in a big silver Cadillac....

We were going down into Kentucky, so they had to make me look like I was black....We used Man-Tan -- and it turned me bright, streaky orange. I was a mess! But I put on one of those wigs and I got out there onstage.

Everybody knew I wasn't black, of course, and somewhere in Kentucky we got in trouble. We were driving along some turnpike and suddenly this old beat-up Plymouth full of white kids came up and started trying to run us off the road. They were calling me a ...lot of filthy names. Well, Ike said to Jimmy Thomas, who was driving, he says, "Why don't you just pull right off on this exit here." The exit was only wide enough for one car, and these white kids, like idiots, followed us. Then Ike said, "Stop the car, Jimmy."

And he got his gun out of the glove compartment and he got out of the car. These kids in back of us were tryin' to turn their car around, but they couldn't get out. So they were rollin' up their windows and lockin' their doors -- they were terrified. And Ike put that gun to the car-door window and he said, "I ain't gonna be another n----r for you boys this afternoon, so take your ass away from here or I'll blow your goddamn brains out." They were cryin', "Oh, please, dear God, oh God, oh God..." And then they were gone.

I had to leave, of course, had to go back to St. Louis.

{earlier, in the 1950s, pre-Tina}
After a little while, I was playin' fourteen jobs a week around St. Louis. The Imperial was all white kids at first, and Geoerge didn't want blacks in there. It was the same deal with the black club owners, like Booker Merritt and this guy Kingsbury, up in Illinois. ...But I wouldn't play at no black club that wouldn't let in whites, and I wouldn't play at no white club that didn't let in blacks. Then the white kids started followin' us from places like the Club Imperial over the river to our gigs in East St. Louis. We would line up, man, like thirty-some cars of us, and we'd go straight across that bridge, man, at sixty, seventy miles an hour, and nobody paid a toll. We were hot.

{Tina's older sister Alline took her to see Ike Turner and the Kings of Rhythm when Tina was just 16. She got in.}
Well, we arrived at the Club Manhattan and boy, was it a jumping joint. It was like one of the Holes back in Ripley or Brownsville, but all in one club -- about a two-hundred-fifty-seater, with the stage in the center of the room and tables all around it, and a great big painting of the Kings of Rhythm up on one wall. The band was already playing when we arrived -- they always warmed up the house before Ike came on....

And all these women were sitting there in their bare-backed shoes, seamed stockings, and backless dresses -- I mean, looking good -- and smoking and drinking and making eyes at the band....Trying to figure out who would be going home with who when the night was over.
...Then Ike walked in the room, and you could feel it, somehow. He had the body then that David Bowie has now....His suit looked like it was hanging on a hanger. He walked through the room, and everybody was going, "Hey, Ike, hey, man"....Then he got up onstage and picked up his guitar. He hit one note....And that joint started rocking. The floor was packed with people dancing....

{going back to earlier years -- back history -- when Ike Turner was 17 he'd already been playing in a band called The Tophatters...}:
When the group broke up around 1948, its more sophisticated members -- those who could read music -- realigned themselves as the Dukes of Swing; Ike and his less tutored but more aggressive young friends became the Kings of Rhythm. They gigged under primitive conditions. Since there was no music store in Clarksdale, Ike would repair broken guitar strings simply by tying them back together. If a piano string went, he would melt down car tires to get at the steel wire in the treads for a replacement. "I'd cut up chamois cloth to make new pads for the saxophone keys," he says. "Air would always leak around them, so just before a job we'd take the horns to a pump and pump water through them, to swell the chamois. Musicians today have it so easy, man."
[excerpts from I, Tina, "My Life
Story," by Tina Turner with
Kurt Loder. Copyright 1986,
Avon Books, The Hearst Corp.,
New York New York]

Thursday, March 17, 2011

you may be right, I may be crazy

"Maybe I win the lottery."
I couldn't get that kid's vague dream out of my mind, though it's a long time since we had that conversation.
And the idea of "winning the lottery" surfaced again recently, and I want to write about what's bugging me.
-------------First, a disclaimer, or clearing-up statement.
I am not critical of "the lottery" or of anyone who buys tickets or wins it or anything else.
Here's the only thing -- it's bothering me, that people --
"people" in General
seem to think,
these days,
the only way financial security and some wealth can be achieved is if they --

Recently I was in a conversation with someone and when I mentioned my goal / project of finishing writing my book and hoping to get it published and to make an excellent living As A Writer, he said, "Yes, like if you won the lottery."
believe it or not, a couple of months later -- last week -- I had a conversation with another person, and when he asked me what I was doing, I told him about my current full-time job and also my writing, and my goal / project of getting published, and HE said -- (guess!) --
"Oh, you want to win the lottery."
[slightly exasperated silence]
Two things:
1. Writing a book that is good enough to get published and good enough to sell a lot (and hopefully film rights as well) is not the same thing as winning the lottery.
Winning the lottery is sheer luck. (Nothing wrong with that.)
Writing a book that sells a lot (when you aren't yourself a celebrity of any kind) is not luck. That is applying your passion and enthusiasm, working hard, and achieving something.
Achieving success is achieving success. It isn't luck.

(Now, it can be argued that you're lucky if you get a publisher -- yes, yes, no Argument there -- any kind of success takes some of what many people call "luck" -- [heck, we could make the argument that if a person got through a day alive, he was "lucky.")]
But -- I don't deal in luck. That's too fuzzy of a thing.

The fact remains, in my world (head) that
winning the lottery is a good thing -- fine. That's Luck.
Achieving Success through one's efforts is also a good thing -- and that's Doing Something.
Creating Something and then applying persistence until the Thing you Created garners the Success you want. (I'm getting lost in my own words, here -- help! 911!)
Luck is fine.
Creating / Doing Something and finding a way to sell it (or someone who will sell it for you) --
or -- (lost in forest of ideas again) -- not so much sell it, but rather --
it, and then if People are entertained and enticed, they buy it, and I Make Money. And THAT, I'm trying to say, is Not "LUCK." That's different from Luck. That is NOT "Winning The Lottery." That IS -- achieving something.
And -- here's the thing that makes me feel -- bothered, ill-at-ease, like -- Something's Not Right.
I am not personally offended or bummed out in any way if someone -- anyone -- likens my Best-Selling Books goal to Winning The Lottery.
They were just trying to relate to what I told them -- they didn't hurt my feelings or anything, at all --
What seems "off," to me is that --
three people --
the young guy who is just starting out who had no vision for Success except "win the lottery,"
and also
the two guys in the recent conversations --
all Three of them seemed to be operating on an assumption that the
Way to Have Financial Security and Wealth
was to -- WIN THE LOTTERY.
It's the apparent prevalence of the "win-lottery" concept that I find disturbing.
Disturbing because if People (who? everyone except me?) believe that the only way to achieve financial security is to win the lottery, then they *DON'T* believe that most of us can achieve it through "working hard."
That bothers me because of 2 reasons:
1) That reverses the Belief System my Whole Life is based on, as an American, and as a human;
2) (for the first time in my life, I'm worried that -- they might be right) .


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Good Life

In conversation about a year ago, I asked a young man what his career goal is & he answered, with a big smile and a small shrug, "Maybe I win the lottery."

It bothered me a little bit -- nagging around the edges of my consciousness -- because the answer I anticipated would have been something along the lines of, "To become a supervisor, and then a manager," or
"To further my education" or
"To go to law school" or
"To start my own business" or
to --
I don't know...some kind of an idea where the kid would have a plan / goal / dream / whatever that involved Making Good In Life by working hard at something for which he has enthusiasm.

It seemed like that wasn't on the "radar screen" of his awareness.
And -- I'm NOT criticizing this tall, strong, smiling guy, not at all -- what bothered me about it -- and I could not forget the conversation -- what was bugging me was, that in his generation he seemed to have no concept of the idea / promise / hope / belief that I grew up with (which I THOUGHT everybody else in America was still growing up with) -- the
that says, "If you work hard, use your talents, and apply your enthusiasm, you can succeed." be continued

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I always thought that someday

On You Tube, James Dupre.

Kid got a record contract!
about a month ago, it appears...


Monday, March 14, 2011

legal earthlings

Today, the term
"illegal aliens"
seems to have taken the place of several of the old, dated, Archie-Bunker-era racial epithets.
I was thinking that's an improvement, because at least it isn't so rude & crude,
but then I thought maybe that's not an improvement because
"illegal aliens" has just become the phrase which many people who are information-free
simply apply
to describe any person who looks different from them.
And because it isn't as rude, crude, and offensive as some of the old words, maybe it's more insidious, because more people are willing to say it.

(Some of those old racial epithets are just like swearing or obscenity, in many people's value-system; on the other hand, no one's going to advise you to wash your mouth out with soap if you say, "illegal aliens.")
When I think of aliens, mostly picture "little green men" with antennas sticking up out of their heads.
They say, in funny voices like buzzing elecricity,
"Take us to your leader!"


Friday, March 11, 2011

local news

Story in our local paper had this paragraph:
"The bill was referred to the 41st day, effectively killing it, but it was hoghoused on the House floor Tuesday afternoon before being defeated."
Reading that, I wondered whether most readers would be familiar with the term "hoghouse":
to "hoghouse a bill."
------------------------ I'd never heard of that phrase until I started working as a lobbyist and attending annual legislative sessions in our state capital. (What? -- They're legislating a house for hogs??)
-------------- After the legislative session starts, in our state, there are so many days during which you may introduce a bill. After deadline date, then -- no more new bills. However, if the deadline date has passed & you really need a bill, and you become sort of desperate, for whatever reason, you can introduce your bill by "hoghousing" it onto another bill.
Let's say, Senate Bill 98 is still "alive" in the last couple weeks of the session. Senate Bill 98 isn't going anywhere, and so you basically use it, as a vehicle for your Concept that you want to introduce (but you can't because it's too late for new bills).

You have your Concept, you propose an amendment to "strike" all the language of Senate Bill 98 and then the proposal of your Concept that you want becomes the new language of Senate Bill 98.
(You didn't introduce a new bill; you just amended an existing bill.)

A legislator might "hoghouse" a bill in either of two scenarios that I can think of:

1) you need to bring the bill, but the issue didn't arise until after the deadline date for new bills; or

2) you had your Concept in an earlier bill that got killed. So you take it & hoghouse it onto Senate Bill 98. That is your opportunity to try it again.

The term hoghouse originated in earlier times -- at state university they wanted to build a hoghouse (a literal hog-house -- or, you might say, barn) -- it's an aggie school -- and they needed a bill --
it was too late in the session to introduce new bills --
and --
someone brainstormed and said, "Hey! We can amend our bill onto another bill that's still alive! We just have to get permission from the live bill's sponsor!"
Deferring a bill "to the 41st day" is an expression, too, that's probably unique to our legislature: if the legislative session is 40 days long, then when you want to kill a bill, you say, "I move that we defer House Bill 1111 to the 41st day."
Since there are only 40 days of the session, the 41st day never happens, so the bill is dead.
You can also kill a bill just by killing it -- voting it down.
But if it is referred to the 41st day, it is deader.
More dead.
Why? Effort, Experience, Trial-and-error, and Will -- blending together to create Tradition.
[One year a voter who was keeping track of bills told me, "They've got an awful lot of bills that they've referred to the 41st day. How are they going to have time to handle all of those on that one day?" : ) An excellent question, if you don't know the insider-meaning of "41st-day." And most people don't have any reason to know about that. They're busy knowing about other things.]
When I began lobbying, learning what it means to "hoghouse" a bill, or to "smoke out" a bill was one of the first things I remember.
And really, when you begin, you don't need to personally engineer either hoghouses, or smoke-outs. You need to be very basic and straightforward -- simple, and up-front.
But yet that was one of the first things I learned, because fellow lobbyists (mostly lawyers with unique personalities and sets of interests -- people who had, shall we say, a lively and enthusiastic "love affair" with the political process) wanted to teach me that.

That was the instruction they wanted to offer; the story they enjoyed telling.
"Smoking out" a bill is where -- your bill got killed in Committee, but then down on the floor you have legislators lined up and organized to revive the bill by smoking it out. One legislator moves to invoke Rule # whatever-it-is, & he needs x-number of votes. If he has enough votes, the bill is resurrected from being dead, & they discuss it on the floor (even though it never passed the committee) and then it will be either passed or not, on the floor.

Thinking of "smoking out" a bill, reminds me of a "lobbyist axiom" -- they keep a list (or collection) of axioms, which were written, over the years, by various lobbyists -- they are rules to remember, and they are humorous, in varying degrees -- ironic. ...
(like, for example, "There are 101 ways of saying "No" around here that sound like "yes").

A segment of state government located in the Capitol building (we'll call it "MXM") does the research and writes the bills in correct form.
One lobbyist "axiom" states,
"You know your bill is in trouble if you have to smoke it out of MXM."
In my first year of lobbying, a gregarious (non-lawyer) lobbyist -- a consummate schmoozer used to sometimes teach me things, & other times make jokes at my expense. It was OK -- they didn't "cost" me much, and they were funny.
Once, trying to say "hoghouse" to him in conversation, I said, "smokehouse" -- like, trying to say "hoghouse," but thinking of "smoke it out" -- I knew "smokehouse" wasn't a Thing; I just misspoke -- but my mentor / teaser hurried right over to the nearest group of lobbyists and announced, "Her organization is gonna smokehouse a bill!"
Everybody's a comedian.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

show me the money

I was thinking about ways of making money.
People refer to "the bottom line."
How fast do you get to the bottom line?
What process do you use to get to
The Money?
Does a person go in with the idea of
Getting The Money?
Or does a person approach a project, or client, with the idea of
Doing A Great Job /
Offering a Great Product
and then the end result will be that --
the person (or people) will want to pay Money for their product or services?
It occurred to me, the extreme result of focusing too narrowly on
The Bottom Line
is -- the most direct thing there is, is robbery.
Get the Money!
(Thwack!) "Give me all your money right now."
A little bit illegal.
There's an old joke --
(that's one of my favorite opening lines):
There's an old joke:
Jack Benny's in an alley...
(Part of Jack Benny's comedic persona was, that he was parsimonious.
And cheap.)
...So, he's in an alley. Suddenly there's a gun to his head, and a guy behind him says tersely,
"Aw right -- your money or your life!"
"I said, your money or your life!!"
Jack Benny (nervously): "I'm thinking, I'm thinking!"


Friday, March 4, 2011

what you love

"Do What You Love, The Money Will Follow"
is a book written by Marsha Sinetar, published in 1987, Dell Publishing, New York.
The title sums it up so well, that you almost don't need the book.
It's an idea.
Some people scoff; some people do it, if they can.
---------------------- Chapter 1 begins,
Work I disliked the most was work I wasn't suited for. Once, for example, I sold vacuum cleaners door to door. ...
By the time you get to Chapter 10, she's into writing about something like -- you become "one with" the work, or something ... "Because he has committed his heart, attention and intention to doing the work (and doing it with a kind of narrowed, intense focus which transcends ordinary consciousness) he heightens his energies and intelligence, and thus is able to give his all to the job at hand."
There's this quote, at start of chapter: "It is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching."
Before you say, "That sounds like esoteric bullshit," got to tell you, that quotation is from St. Francis of Assisi, so -- there's no swearing or vulgar language.
When we think of people who do something they're really good at, and then the Money "follows," it's easy to think of rock stars and great writers, whatever, & then we think, "Yeah but they're different, that's few & far between," but --
recently in my own experience, I've encountered two people who are not famous, rich, and incredibly talented and prodigiously fortunate, but rather real people, who both
"Do What They Love"
"The Money Follows."
-----------------------The guy who fixed my car is one. He works on cars in his garage anyway -- a race car, and whatever -- that's What He Does, because that's where His Talent and Enthusiasm Are, and then --
without promotion or fanfare, people come to him, and Bring Money.
He does what he loves, & the Money Follows.

And a co-worker in my department -- crochets.
She crochets -- blankets, baby hats, baby head-bands, music CD-holders, socks, shoes, Corvettes (I think), bank vaults, the Brooklyn Bridge -- whatever ... it's like Extreme Crocheting.
And people want to purchase custom-made sometimes custom-designed items which she
She crochets because she LIKES to crochet.
And the money -- Followed.
(I picture five and ten dollar bills, 20s, 50s, hurrying after her on sturdy legs & sneakered feet. She is stalked by money.)


Thursday, March 3, 2011

I stand corrected

Farmers and ranchers always know how far it is to someplace, and how big something is.
How many feet, inches,
miles, acres, quarters...sections...
They know, because they work on the land, and they own the land. And they fix things, and build things. So they are accustomed to quantifying in rather specific numbers without even going to measure.

I got home from a Bob Dylan concert one year, on like July 2 or 3, and then on the 4th I was at friends' house -- or, yard -- outside in the dark, the fireworks long over, people were conversing, drinking beer, stretching out the social time, when I arrived. Mentioning the concert (I was still in a mind-set of Total Happiness and -- Can't Believe How Great It Was), I told some long-time acquaintances, "I saw Bob Dylan and Paul Simon! In concert! It was so great! Unbelievable! Unforgettable! Amazing!
--------- And I was right up front, close to the stage, back only a few rows of people, because it was open seating, first-come-first-serve, and I went down to the site nine hours early so I could wait, and be close! I didn't even need binoculars! It was incredible -- I was right there!"
(Not talking about the specific songs -- "Highway 61," "Tangled Up In Blue," etc. because don't think these folks know those songs -- I only shared what I thought this particular group would relate to. I was so thrilled. I could not come down off the cloud.)

And one guy who was there, about 4 years older than me -- I've known him forever, and yet don't know him -- a lot of relationships are like that -- he's a prosperous farmer who criticizes and complains a lot...he challenged me: "How close were you to that stage? How far was it, between you and Bob Dylan?"
---------------------------------I knew he was putting me "on the spot." I didn't mind. (I was happy to talk about any aspect of the Bob Dylan / Paul Simon concert...! My enthusiasm could not be contained.)
"Ummh--I was -- 50 yard, or maybe -- 40 yards -- 40 or fifty yards away from the stage!"
"Really?" he queried.
I said, "Yeah, like from here, where I'm standing, to -- over there, the barn, right there. From here to there."
He scoffed, "That ain't fifty yards...that's barely fifty feet!"
He gets to be right, right? In front of an audience of his peers. ...
He wanted me to feel corrected. Humbly corrected.
But I was only more jubilant --
"You mean I was only fifty FEET from Bob Dylan ??!!????!!!!!!!?!"
--That was the only piece of information that could have made me any More Happy, that evening.
Thanks, buddy!


Wednesday, March 2, 2011

not so self-assured

Certain moments, and words, you remember: and you don't know exactly why. Other things you don't remember after a while, and if you go back and read them in your Diary, you say, "Well, they must have happened because it's written here, from back on that day, but I certainly cannot remember" -- some events and conversations and impressions seem to evaporate in fog.

Last couple of days, I remembered words people said to me which were simple and plain and -- some might think not significant enough to recall, but I recalled them -- three in particular -- and they meant something important at the time, and still important now, in context ... even if the relationships changed later.
The most recent one was three years ago, Mega-Stress, and found myself on the phone with a man, pouring out my "life-and-death-end-of-the-World" concerns about not having the correct pieces of paper for some people to sign; my voice must have sounded desperate -- I totally remember the feeling.
And when my talking stopped, there were a couple of seconds of silence on the line, and I thought of saying, "Hello? Are you still there?"
but before I could say that,
he said,
"It's a little thing."

A very simple sentence. The way he said it --
not scoffing, like -- 'You're an idiot to get so upset'
and not PBO (polite brush-off), like -- 'Whatever, go away I'm too important to think about you and your stupid worries'...
and not indignant or critical, like 'What's wrong with you, what're you getting so upset for?'
not judgmental,
not impatient,
not --
anything, just
an even tone: calm, practical -- just a factual statement --
"It's a little thing."
I can hear his tone on the phone, in memory, as if it was only 10 minutes ago.


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

glowing, singing, thrilling

[excerpt, The Great
Gatsby, F. Scott
The butler came back and murmured something close to Tom's ear whereupon Tom frowned, pushed back his chair and without a word went inside. As if his absence quickened something within her Daisy leaned forward again, her voice glowing and singing.
"I love to see you at my table, Nick. You remind me of a -- of a rose, an absolute rose. Doesn't he?" She turned to Miss Baker for confirmation. "An absolute rose?"
This was untrue. I am not even faintly like a rose. She was only extemporizing but a stirring warmth flowed from her as if her heart was trying to come out to you concealed in one of those breathless, thrilling words. Then suddenly she threw her napkin on the table and excused herself and went into the house.
Miss Baker and I exchanged a short glance consciously devoid of meaning. I was about to speak when she sat up alertly and said "Sh!" in a warning voice. A subdued impassioned murmur was audible in the room beyond and Miss Baker leaned forward, unashamed, trying to hear.
...I followed Daisy around a chain of connecting verandas to the porch in front. In its deep gloom we sat down side by side on a wicker settee. ...
"You see I think everything's terrible anyhow, " she went on in a convinced way. "Everybody thinks so -- the most advanced people. And I know. I've been everywhere and seen everything and done everything." Her eyes flashed around her in a defiant way, rather like Tom's, and she laughed with thrilling scorn. "Sophisticated -- God, I'm sophisticated!"
The instant her voice broke off, ceasing to compel my attention, my belief, I felt the basic insincerity of what she had said. It made me uneasy, as though the whole evening had been a trick of some sort to exact a contributary emotion from me. I waited, and sure enough, in a moment she looked at me with an absolute smirk on her lovely face as if she had asserted her membership in a rather distinguished secret society to which she and Tom belonged.
------ [end Excerpt]
The backstage manager
was pacing all around by
his chair.
"There's something funny going
on," he said, "I can just feel
it in the air" ...
--Bob Dylan
"Lily, Rosemary and the
Jack of Hearts"
Blood on The Tracks album