Month: July 2020


Barrel of Gifts

The naked dude with a barrel really was once a thing. But it apparently wasn’t for broke people, but for hungover people. If someone got really drunk, bosses from James I to Civil War commanders made the drunkards wear them as punishment.

The article linked to this advertisement: The Five Essential Gifts for Beer Lovers. I wasn’t sure what I’d find, but the five essential gifts consist of things I never once used during my heavy beer drinking days, and I got along just fine:

Tulip beer glasses
Beer log
Leather koozie
Magnetic catch bottle opener
Beer socks.

I think it’s pretty obvious that this alcohol website is written by hipsters, for hipsters. None of those things are essential, and the addition of beer socks? I actually felt bad for the publication.

The beer log, incidentally, is a notebook where you record your notes about the beers you try. Yikes. I wouldn’t be caught dead carrying one of those things into a bar.

Dude at Bar: “Hey man. What’s that?”
Me: “It’s my beer log. Tee hee.”
Dude at Bar: “WTF’s a ‘beer log.'”
Me: “It’s a journal where I record my thoughts and feelings about the different craft beers I try.”
Dude at Bar (standing up aggressively): “You f’in’ with me!?”
Me (covering my beer log with my elbow so he can’t read it; responding in nasal twang): “No. It’s my beer log. Stay away, stay awaaaaaaaay.”
Dude at Bar (turning to his friends): “This dude’s f’in’ with me. Who wants to see me kick his ass?”

But I kept a drinking diary during my young adult years. It … Read the rest

From the Notebooks

From the Gardening Journals

Political discourse rarely interests me. Hollywood gossip bores me. Sporting events hold my attention as good as any pop culture event, but when I see the monstrosity that has become athletics, the entire arena baffles me, prompting me to go into shutdown mode, unable to muster much excitement. New technology is awfully cool, but the constant tinkering by the Apple nerds frustrates me. The stock market has become a fool’s game that no one can figure out, with strong evidence that it’s rigged. Popular economics is driven by belief that printing money produces prosperity.

Then there’s the garden. My plot of land, my efforts, my food. I can touch it, I can pick it, I can trust it. I can’t touch my money in a mutual fund statement, and I can’t even get it without giving 72 hours notice, and I can’t even know for sure that it’s there. Just ask the Madoff investors.

In the garden, I am reduced to my proper size. I can sense (touch, see, smell) as much as is proper to my station in life as a man: a single unit in a large world that escapes my grasp. … Read the rest



My home Charter internet service has crashed. Just this for today:

For fans of comedian Gary Gulman, the actor’s brief cameo in a pivotal scene during director Todd Phillips’ “Joker” must come as a complete surprise. What’s even more surprising is that during his big scene, a bout of constant laughter was throwing Gulman’s act just a little off its game.

An audience member with an off-beat sense of timing to their reaction to Gulman’s comedy set was to blame, and that someone, as it turns out, was none other than Arthur Fleck himself, actor Joaquin Phoenix. . . .

“[T]here was one extra who was so enthusiastic in his laughter that it was throwing off my timing. He was just laughing too loud, and right when I was about to say something to Todd about maybe getting the guy not to laugh so loud, I realized that it was Joaquin Phoenix. It’s my best ‘Joker’ story. I can’t believe it took me six takes to figure out that the man with the really bizarre laugh was the Joker.”Read the rest


Free Cardinal Newman

Great find at Spotify: A high-quality recording of John Henry Newman’s Apologia Pro Vita Sua. Completely free. It kind of blew me away to see someone put it out there like that, but I’m greatly enjoying it.

I searched for similar finds without luck. If anyone else knows of anything, let me know.

Please remember that I’m looking for writers at The Roman Rambler. Yes: “The Roman Rambler.” It’s the arm of TDE. The title evokes the memory of Dr. Johnson and shows its Catholic slant.

There are three of us now, and I have three others who have expressed interest. I could like to get a “stable” of ten writers before the end of the year.

Relevant Radio recently underwent a shake-up. It cancelled two shows. One of them was “Go Ask Your Father,” which was a show I previously enjoyed, but then the host veered hard to the left, politically, advocating for three leftist causes in the course of a few days. He pushed the idea that health care is a basic human right and advocated wholesale gun confiscation/control. I can’t remember the last leftist cause; I just remember the diatribes came in three waves in a very short span. Anyway, I simply stopped listening to him and apparently lots of other did, too. I felt kind of bad when the show got cancelled, but dang. He just couldn’t keep his politics out of his religious views (which seemed perfectly orthodox, for what it’s worth). … Read the rest

Monday Miscellany

Urban Areas

Man, LA is awful. Jack and Andrea just returned from his honeymoon that he ended there. This pic is from the alley that led to their Air B&B. They said the B&B itself wasn’t bad, but the location wasn’t in a touristy area. This is just the way LA is.

On top of this, they saw two full-on physical altercations and a dog attack, plus a dozen nuts and a hundred homeless. That was in just 36 hours.

Heather Mac Donald is The Man, so to speak. If newspapers are the first draft of history, she recently wrote the second draft of the first six months of 2020. Her recount in the most-recent issue of Imprimis is real close to a must-read. Excerpt:

On the night of Thursday, May 28, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey ordered the city’s Third Police Precinct evacuated as the forces of anarchy descended upon it for a third day in a row. The building was promptly torched, sending a powerful sign that society would not defend its most fundamental institutions of law and order.

Mac Donald is apparently a graduate of Yale, Cambridge, and Stanford. What’s wrong, Heather? Couldn’t hack Harvard and Oxford?

I trust everyone caught my irony in that question, but I wanted to clarify. Twice over the past month I’ve had a written joke wildly miss, and in one case, it prompted a harsh reaction from a friend. I felt bad and showed the texts to Marie, who is pretty quick to condemn me and defend others, but even she couldn’t figure out how my humorous intent was missed. Since then, I’m trying to tread … Read the rest


IMG_3150The Teetotaling Eudemon?

The dog days of summer. It looks like the hottest (the doggiest) days are behind us, but it’s still plenty warm. I don’t know whether I’m getting old or worn out by the heat, but I need a break. How do I know?

Because I don’t even feel like drinking.

That’s right. For over 30 years, I’ve consistently itched for a drink on Friday evening, unless I had drowned the itch on Thursday evening.

Not today. I have a commitment-free weekend yawning in front of me (subject to working at the office most of Saturday). It’s the first since . . . frick, I don’t know. I’ve had a really long week, chock-full of loooooong meetings, scores and scores of daily work emails, and the interrupting phone. Normally, I’d be salivating like Pavlov’s dog right now at the thought of 5:00 PM (okay, 4:15 PM . . . I would normally jump the gun).

But no. Drink or no drink? It doesn’t really much matter. I could see myself unwinding with some vodka this evening, but I could just as well see myself unwinding dead sober on the couch. I suppose either will feel intoxicating, and that’s probably the important part.

Have a good weekend, everyone. … Read the rest


Lines, Lines, Everywhere a Line

This is the line outside a Gucci store at a Chicago mall. A similar line was standing outside the Nike store. Marie was told the wait was 45 minutes.

To get inside a store.

The mind boggles. This, no doubt, could serve as Exhibit A to one thing John Paul II and Francis have in common: a condemnation of consumerism. What kind of shallow lives would sacrifice 45 minutes, not to mention the drive time over there and the opportunity cost of the money spent in the store, to buy a non-necessity? As far as systems go, the one that produces 45-minute wait lines for Nike is far better than socialism, which requires people to stand in line just to buy a loaf of bread because the knowledge-resource distribution is so whacked out, but man. For the individual who succumbs to such debased servitude (“You stand in line to spend too much money on our stuff”)? I’m afraid I feel disgust.

There’s some pity in there, too, but mostly disgust.

But it gives me hope that brick-and-mortar stores aren’t dead. I mean, if Nike and Gucci can get people to stand in line for 45 minutes, surely other stores can get people to come into their stores, thereby thwarting the Amazon machine at least a little. I really like Amazon, and I have a ton of respect for what it has done, and I appreciate the reality and goodness of creative destruction, but the juggernaut that is Amazon concerns me a little bit.

Looking for Writers!

I’m looking for Medium writers! Join The Weekly Eudemon publication stable of writersRead the rest

From the Notebooks

20th Century Existentialism

Four subjects that were wildly popular in the 20th century:

Zen arose when Mahayana Buddhism merged with Taoism. Buddhism is steeped in a thing called “monism,” which teaches that all things are one. Individual things don’t exist; individual classes of things don’t exist. There is, in other words, no essence at all. In this, Zen might be the most radical form of existentialism. Its techniques—whether quiet meditation or sudden enlightenment or koans—are all designed to get its practitioners beyond “subject-object” . . . beyond the separateness of all things and beyond all essence.

Jack Kerouac dripped Buddhism. He practiced dhyana, Buddhist meditation. He at times took vows to lead a Buddhist life. In one vow, he promised to limit his sexual activity to masturbation (apparently his idea of austerity), another time he vowed to eat only one meal per day and to write about nothing but Buddhism. He at times exclaimed, “I am Buddha,” and once asked the modern Zen master D.T. Suzuki if he could spend the rest of his life with him. His On the Road is a portrait of a young man with zero concerns about essence-filled societal conventions.

J.D. Salinger’s Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye punches and weaves through everyday banalities that most people embrace. He disdains the ballyhooed elite prep school he attends; he thinks little of money; he is nauseated by the forms of entertainment most people find enjoyable. He intuitively sees the shallowness of the things that are the cheap fodder of existence for most people. Holden is merely a watered-down, less radical, version of Mersault. Both are existentialist characters that pull … Read the rest