Saturday, November 27, 2010

London Bridge is Falling Down

I have never bought a copy of The Globe before except once, when I was very, very ill, but the headline screaming at me in the drugstore today was irresistible: Queen Elizabeth II has passed over her son, Prince Charles, and intends to vacate the throne in favor of her grandson, Prince William, after his marriage to Kate Middleton. Elizabeth has been Queen for nearly 60 years, since the death of her father, King George VI, in 1952, when she was 26 years old.

Her father, a second son, had become King in 1937 when his older brother, King Edward VIII, abdicated his throne rather than give up the woman he loved, a once-divorced and currently remarried American commoner, Wallis Warfield Simpson. Edward had struggled his entire life to be normal, a regular guy, as he was embarrassed by being a person requiring homage. So he was, in effect, an anti-monarchist, surely an unusual position for a member of Great Britain's royal family. Mrs. Simpson, allegedly eager to be Queen, sued her husband for a divorce so she could marry Edward, but the royal family wasn't having any of it.

The entire British government was extremely discontented and threatened to quit over the King's new policies and his politics -- his intended Queen was the icing on a very nasty cake -- and Edward was forced to either tow the line or abdicate. He chose the latter, and he and Wallis Simpson, now the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, were married.

They were exiled from England and lived most of their lives in France except for a stint in the Bahamas where he served as Governor during World War II. amid accusations that he was pro-Nazi. He reportedly told an acquaintance: "After the war is over and Hitler will crush the Americans ... we'll take over ... They [the Commonwealth] don't want me as their king, but I'll soon be back as their leader." He also told a journalist that "it would be a tragic thing for the world if Hitler was overthrown". Comments like these reinforced the belief that the Duke and Duchess held Nazi sympathies and the effect of the abdication crisis of 1936 was to force off the throne a man with extreme political views.

There has been rampant speculation about the Windsors, even rumors that Edward's mother, the Dowager Queen Mary, was told that Wallis Simpson had some sort of sexual control over Edward, and had released him from an undefined sexual dysfunction through practices learned in a Chinese brothel. Suffice to say that the royal family was not pleased. The future prime minister Neville Chamberlain wrote in his diary that she was "an entirely unscrupulous woman who is not in love with the King but is exploiting him for her own purposes. She has already ruined him in money and jewels." What I want to know is how a woman attains such powers, and how I can get some.

By all reports, their marriage was miserably unhappy, a tradition apparently followed by Prince Charles and Camilla, his longtime mistress whom he continued to see while married to Diana, and married after her death. The Queen and her consort, Prince Philip, however, have seemingly enjoyed a very happy union for many years. For the first time ever, I feel almost sorry for Prince Charles, despite his abominable treatment of Diana, by all accounts a lovely person, and the fact that he resembles a flounder.

Prince William and his fiancee are extremely popular with the British people, and the Queen has decreed that Kate will be known as Queen Catherine upon William's coronation, which is expected to take place next year.

The Globe's cover also proclaims that Cher's transsexual daughter Chastity, now her son Chaz, has grown a beard. Now THAT is the kind of news we can relate to in America.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Stir It Up

Flip looked up from his computer. "Barbara " " " " (indecipherable) line." He has Alzheimer's so all the words were garbled.


He tried again. "Barbara " " " "." No luck. He walked into the kitchen and pointed to the glass mason jar in which we keep our coffee beans.

The charades game was on. "Barbara Boxer?" Blank stare. "Barbara Streisand?" Vigorous head shaking. "Bob Marley?" He nodded excitedly. Ahhh. "Bob Marley has a line of coffee beans!" He nodded again, beaming. And Flip wants to buy them. Of course.

"Are you thinking they have pot in them?" I asked. He looked hopeful. Ganja coffee. There are many flavored coffees on the market, it's not such a stretch. Jamaican Blue Mountain is my lifelong favorite coffee, but it sells for about as much as a Porsche, another brand I hold in high regard. I can't afford either, however.

Flip was intent on supporting Bob Marley's business enterprise. I reminded him that it would not benefit Bob Marley himself since he is dead. Flip looked crushed. Apparently he had forgotten. I felt bad for both of them, but I was on a roll. "He died in 1981," I added. I could have skipped sharing that detail. It was probably mean, although I was just trying to clarify something, anything, in hopes that our world would somehow return to its formerly reasonable state.

Rohan Marley, one of the singer's sons, founded the company as a tribute to the great reggae legend. He says, "My father came from the farmland in Nine Mile. There, he learned a deep respect for nature and humanity - respect that helped guide his life and ours. He said he would return to the farm one day. That was his dream."

Bob Marley's real name was Nesta Robert Marley. Maybe they're calling the new product "Nestacafe."

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Why Can't I Own a Canadian?

I don't usually post things that I didn't write myself, but think this is hilarious:

In her radio show, Dr Laura Schlesinger said that, as an observant Orthodox Jew, homosexuality is an abomination according to Leviticus 18:22, and cannot be condoned under any circumstance.

The following response is an open letter to Dr. Laura, written by a US man, and posted on the Internet.

Dear Dr. Laura:

Thank you for doing so much to educate people regarding God's Law. I have learned a great deal from your show, and try to share that knowledge with as many people as I can. When someone tries to defend the homosexual lifestyle, for example, I simply remind them that Leviticus 18:22 clearly states it to be an abomination ... End of debate.

I do need some advice from you, however, regarding some other elements of God's Laws and how to follow them.

1. Leviticus 25:44 states that I may possess slaves, both male and female, provided they are from neighboring nations. A friend of mine claims that this applies to Mexicans, but not Canadians. Can you clarify? Why can't I own Canadians?

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus 21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

3. I know that I am allowed no contact with a woman while she is in her period of Menstrual uncleanliness - Lev.15: 19-24. The problem is how do I tell? I have tried asking, but most women take offense.

4. When I burn a bull on the altar as a sacrifice, I know it creates a pleasing odor for the Lord - Lev.1:9. The problem is my neighbors. They claim the odor is not pleasing to them. Should I smite them?

5. I have a neighbor who insists on working on the Sabbath. Exodus 35:2 clearly states he should be put to death. Am I morally obligated to kill him myself, or should I ask the police to do it?

6. A friend of mine feels that even though eating shellfish is an abomination, Lev.11:10, it is a lesser abomination than homosexuality. I don't agree. Can you settle this? Are there 'degrees' of abomination?

7. Lev. 21:20 states that I may not approach the altar of God if I have a defect in my sight. I have to admit that I wear reading glasses. Does my vision have to be 20/20, or is there some wiggle-room here?

8. Most of my male friends get their hair trimmed, including the hair around their temples, even though this is expressly forbidden by Lev. 19:27. How should they die?

9. I know from Lev. 11:6-8 that touching the skin of a dead pig makes me unclean, but may I still play football if I wear gloves?

10. My uncle has a farm. He violates Lev.19:19 by planting two different crops in the same field, as does his wife by wearing garments made of two different kinds of thread (cotton/polyester blend). He also tends to curse and blaspheme a lot. Is it really necessary that we go to all the trouble of getting the whole town together to stone them? Lev.24:10-16. Couldn't we just burn them to death at a private family affair, like we do with people who sleep with their in-laws? (Lev. 20:14) I know you have studied these things extensively and thus enjoy considerable expertise in such matters, so I'm confident you can help. Thank you again for reminding us that God's word is eternal and unchanging.

Your adoring fan.

James M. Kauffman, Ed.D. Professor Emeritus,
Dept. Of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education, University of Virginia

PS (It would be a damn shame if we couldn't own a Canadian)

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Ennui Is Me

I am a misfit. The Giants won the World Series tonight and while I am happy for them and their many fans, I couldn't care less. San Francisco is exploding with screaming, cheering, honking horns, dancing in the streets and general hysteria, but the whole thing makes me yawn. I am laying low in my apartment, avoiding everyone so I won't have to pretend to a manic joy I don't feel, which I could fake about as well as the Saturday Night Live Coneheads managed to blend with their neighbors. Besides, I look terrible in orange.

I know it's downright un-American, even subversive, to prefer a good book when I could be watching baseball on TV, but I haven't had a favorite team since the Brooklyn Dodgers moved to Los Angeles when I was a kid. Like all New Yorkers, I felt abandoned. Betrayed. I could get psychoanalytical and say that I never got over it, but frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.

Far be it from me to rain on anyone's parade. Our nation's pastime is a perfectly fine game. I have even enjoyed playing it on occasion. But one team's victory over another does not make me walk taller. I have never understood sport rivalries when so many other things are more interesting. In fact, I am so disinclined to commemorate a baseball landmark that I didn't even remember to post this confession, which I wrote last night.