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So In Love

Cole Porter is one of my favorite composers, both for music his and his clever lyrics that often use internal rhyming. I have written here in the past about In The Still Of The Night which I consider to be one of his finest works:

Throughout his prolific career, Cole Porter wrote many, many great songs, some of which have become the backbone of American composition. I can think of four or five of his songs that are truly great. They served as inspiration for my own song writing for so many years in addition to being just plain enjoyable. One of my favorites is So In Love from his 1948 musical Kiss Me Kate. This show had 1,077 performances before closing on July 28. 1951.

So In Love employs an unusual musical score and great lyrics that simply make most normal people feel the joy of love with a tear in their eye. It is such a popular song that many people have recorded it throughout the years including:

Julie Andrews, Josephine Barstow & Thomas Hampson, Shirley Bassey, Mimi Benzell, Vikki Carr, Rondi Charleston, Andy Cole, Chick Corea, Bing Crosby, Deborah DeDe Wedekind, Plácido Domingo, Tommy Dorsey, Alfred Drake, Lara Fabian & Mario Frangoulis, Eddie Fisher, Ella Fitzgerald, Renée Fleming & Bryn Terfel, The Four Lads, Sergio Franchi, Lily Frost, Roberta Gambarini, Lesley Garrett, Robert Goulet & Carol Lawrence, Kathryn Grayson & Howard Keel, Jane Harvey, Dick Haymes, Edmund Hockridge & Janine Roebuck, Mark Jacoby, Betty Johnson, Allan Jones, Stan Kenton, Dave King, Lisa Kirk, k.d. lang, Mario Lanza, Steve Lawrence, Peggy Lee, Liane & The Boheme Bar Trio, Guy Lombardo’s Orchestra, Julie London, Joe Loss and His Orchestra, Lulu, Patti LuPone, Gordon MacRae, Sue Matthews, Marin Mazzie & Brian Stokes Mitchell, Nichola McAuliffe & Paul Jones, Robert Merrill & Roberta Peters, Vaughn Monroe, Diana Montague & Thomas Allen, Patricia Morison & Alfred Drake, Patricia Morison & Bill Johnson, Joan Morris, Georg Ots, Patti Page, Johnny Prophet, John Raitt, Patricia Routledge & David Holliday, Diane Schuur, Dinah Shore, Cesare Siepi, Frank Sinatra & Keely Smith, Dakota Staton, Enzo Stuarti, Kiri Te Kanawa, Trio Désolé, The Tymes, Jerry Vale, Marlene VerPlanck, Dinah Washington, Julie Wilson, Will Wright, Earl Wrightson, Rachel York & Brent Barrett, Caetano Veloso, and Bob Dylan.

That’s a monster list and I’ve included it here to show just how popular this song was and still is. If you have never heard this song, please give it a listen and let me know what you think. You can leave a comment here on this blog.

Here the clip from the 2004 movie De-Lovely

Here is another recording by Mario Frangoulis and Lara Fabian:

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Italy – Time For Change

This March it looked at though Italy was poised to have its 67th government since World War II. However things are rarely what they seem here in the land of pasta.

After a two month hiatus a provisional government seemed imminent as the far right Lega Party and the left leaning Five Star Party agreed to share power and attempt to form a new government. They got together and proposed an unknown lawyer named Giuseppe Conte as Prime Minister, despite Mr. Conte’s dubious resume which according to many was a fantasy on paper. He lasted a mere four days before the whole Italian house of cards fell down. Why? President Sergio Mattarella would not approve the new government’s choice for Finance Minister because of his anti-EU stance in the past. In a true democracy this would not propose an insurmountable problem. Another acceptable candidate would be put forth and the government would go on. But remember, Italy has a parliamentary form of government that rarely functions. Conte bowed out, leaving Italy’s population in the lurch.

President Mattarella then took a most unusual step. He unilaterally appointed an old ex-IMF crony interim Prime Minister, thus nullifying the will of the Italian people and its millions of voters. In the end, two important points were obvious. The Italian population had not voted for Conte or his replacement, once again exposing the major flaws of a parliamentary form of government.

While Italy is Europe’s third largest economy and one of the founding members of the European Union, its political system is medieval at best. Their form of government simply does not work and does not reflect the will of its people. A vote in Italy is dismissed as easily as a stop sign.

Most people in Italy generally feel that they are the poor serfs of Germany and rightfully so. Germany under Merkel has become a political bully to the rest of Europe. It now has all the signs of a 1939 Germany, sans the swastika. To boot Germany, as self-appointed head of the entire EU, has designated Italy as the main dumping ground for the millions of migrants that attempt to enter the EU every year. The average Italian, despite being socially liberal, has simply had enough. Why they ask should an illegal migrant be given free housing, 35 Euro a day per head, a new cell phone and countless other benefits while they are living in relative poverty?

The big news flash came on June 1 as Matarella finally conceded power to the persistent but fragile coalition. They offered to out their original choice for Finance Minister and keep the original puppet Prime Minister in the person of Conte. To most Italians, including this Tirolean, it seemed no more than a poor game musical chairs to the tune of Pop Goes The Weasel. More than anything, it seemed as a move to appease a pissed-off populace ahead of Republic Day (June 2). We’ll see what develops. But something had better happen soon.

Italians voted for a fundamental change and received in return a repudiation of their vote compounded by juvenile political maneuvering. Italy is doomed to remain a third world mini power unless they change their entire political system very soon. A parliamentary system simply doesn’t work in a country so full of technocrats, old cronies and mafia driven career politicians. Perhaps they should consider giving the U.S. model a try. It certainly wouldn’t do any harm.

For more on this subject, see my earlier post:

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Several of you undoubtedly recall my various slaps at our education system in the United States. In a word, it is an embarrassment. The United States now ranks 17th in education world-wide with even lower rankings for math and reading. What has happened?

When I was an English teacher nearly 50 years ago, the United States ranked number one. I honestly thought it would be that way forever. Why not? What could possibly change it? Apparently, everything!

It’s not a money thing. When I taught English, I was making a whopping $11,800 per year and that included extra pay for being a credentialed reading specialist. Today, the average high school teacher’s salary is $47,259. While that is not a fortune and surely teachers have been and are still underpaid, the money thing would still seem not to apply. So what’s changed in the last 50 years? A lot!

First, the collective will of America to properly educate their children has diminished. Education is no longer considered the most important thing in a child’s life. Too often, the most important thing is a cell phone with which the average child learns LOL but can’t spell the word laughing. Today’s kids have too much of everything and therefore don’t see the same urgency in learning as prior generations.

Second, education standards have been lowered to accommodate minorities and disadvantaged students. Standardized testing has continually been down shifted to allow minority and disadvantaged students to score passing grades. Kids aren’t held back to re-complete grades as they once were. In today’s world everyone get’s a participation trophy and there is little motivation to truly be the best.

Third, the quality of teaching personnel has greatly degraded. In many locations, people who teach our youth are not even required to be credentialed to do so. It’s like anyone with a heart and some free time is allowed to teach. Background checks are sketchy as well. When I taught in public schools, I was first required to submit to a complete FBI background check and swear my allegiance to the United States in front of a federal judge. Try that today! A neighbor of mine recently told me that their daughter’s teacher simply tells the class to look up things on the internet; the teacher can not be bothered with actual teaching because she is too busy texting her boyfriend with the hope of getting laid.

Fourth, even though there has been a continual cry for more money, schools are not adequately funded. They never have been. Money that is set aside for schools often never arrives in the classroom; it is eaten up and wasted in the bureaucracy of school administration and local politics. New programs are often politically motivated and wind up being a waste of precious money that should be put into qualified teachers, books and computers.

Fifth, the change in curriculum over the years has “dumbed down” our young scholars. Cursive writing is no longer taught, foreign languages still remain an elective subject and even basic reading skills are not taught today. There will always be the need to write a coherent letter or have a meaningful conversation yet our children are not being prepared for these most simple tasks. To be prepared to interact with other cultures who speak other languages is all but out of the question and relegated to fantasy land.

Sixth, there is no real want to be educated on the part of much of today’s youth. They would rather play on the smart phone and see no real need for much formal education. Most can’t look into the future beyond today’s Instagram. With a lack of aspiration on both the part of students and teachers, there is no motivation to be educated. As Pelagius said, “There is no worse death than the end of hope.”

If these six crucial points can be addressed by students, teachers and the public at large, there is a chance that we can once again be number one in education. More importantly, we can regain our place in the world as leaders and innovators. Without drastic intervention very soon, we will be doomed to be a nation of dummies.

PS – Let’s not forget the trades. We have an acute shortage of plumbers, carpenters, metal workers and other trades people. If you want your washing machine repaired, you’re apt to see a guy my age show up at your door. We need more education in these areas as well.

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The Klingon From France

Living in Europe, we constantly seek television programming in our native parlance of English. Unfortunately we have only a TV line-up selected by Socialists. It includes France 24 in English. Like BBC and virtually every other channel, they are usually vehemently anti-American in their coverage of world news.

Broadcasts often start, “Another day, another shooting in America.” Their distaste for America exudes from every pore. There is virtually nothing they like of my native country, from our current president to our politics to our very culture. Nasty is the word that described them best.

However, nowhere in the selection of channels is the anti-American spirit so bold as on France 24 in the person of reporter Douglas Herbert, International Affairs Correspondent. With every breath, he seethes his anti-American sentiment, punctuated with bits of drooling sarcasm. If there is something good to report, he always finds a way to diminish it and substitute it with his own personal brand of hate for America.  His latest salvos have been directed at Israel and the United States over the relocation of our embassy to Jerusalem. News flash little Klingon: The United States of America can put its embassy any damn place it wants to; we don’t need special permission from an anti-Semitic Europe nor do we need your crap after the fact.

Note the title of this blog post. Monsieur Herbert does indeed resemble a Klingon warrior from Star Trek, both in bug-eyed looks and temperament. A douche? No, just a Klingon in every respect! His demeanor, voice and comportment all scream Klingon aggression and unfortunately it is so often aimed directly at the United States. When he speaks about international affairs, he vomits his anti-Americanism. He is never neutral and he always tries to play the  poor man’s Joan of Arc against the United States.

To be fair, I actually generally like France 24 news reporting, sans the Klingon. Florence Villiminot and Nadia Charbit are delightful, informative and downright fun. Other contributors are also great reporters, often bringing a somewhat non-biased approach to their reporting. It is only the Klingon who seems to always spew his anti-Americanism on every broadcast in knee jerk fashion. He comes on the air agitated and prepared to do battle. Why? Is he not a fan of Lafayette? Is he not a fan of liberty? Is he off somewhere during the night polishing his photon torpedoes? What the frog gives?

Unfortunately, Monsieur Herbert, Monsieur Klingon Commander is not alone in the European anti-American news corps league. British, German, Italian and almost all European outlets seem to take great satisfaction in running down the United States of America at every opportunity. Why? We have rebuilt their pathetic little countries after two world wars and two German aggressions yet they seem to be eternally pissed at us and our every nuance. If we are not stuffing money in their pockets, they turn on us at every juncture. In a word: Bullshit! Europe, it’s time for you to grow up, grow a pair and pick your friends more carefully.

If U.S. news broadcasts started with. “Another day, another terrorist attack in France and another knifing in London,” we would hear a whine heard around the world. These folks would come uncorked in an instant, leaving their Champagne and Brown Sauce bottles askew. Please little brothers, you are not so damned special. You are just small specks in the global firmament who don’t really count for squat. Show a little respect!

A little piece of advice for the Klingon and his anti-American contingent: Editorial reviews belong on the third page, not on the front page above the fold. In other words, save your personal opinions and grievances and just report the world news straight up without your personal distaste for America. Merci beaucoup! (Qatlho’)

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Addio Marcello

I recall a day from 21 years ago as though it unfolded this morning. My wife and I made our first trip to Italy in 1997 and of particular interest was to visit the tiny village of Tret where my father was born. Little did we know that Tret would be our permanent home for nearly two decades.

We visited the alimentari, a small store that sells basic goods. This house was where my father was born in 1913. We peered cautiously into its small depths and had many questions for the new owner about the history of the house since it passed out of the hands of our family. As we were about to leave, the door swung open in a great swoosh and a little man asked the owner, “Dove sono, ‘sti Americanini? (Where are these little Americans?) The owner pointed timidly at us . “Li…”

This little man came straight out and introduced himself: Marcello Bertagnolli. Indeed, we had seen him hunting in the woods the day before but we hadn’t met. His eyes were bright and his voice enthusiastic. He told us that he had heard we were in town and wanted veru much to meet us. We spoke a bit though my Italian was poor in those early days. It was the beginning of a two decade friendship.

After we moved to Tret, we became good friends with Marcello. We visited his home many times. He was a hunter and his corridor ws littered with stuffed animals, elk horns and other mementoes from his past. I found that he was also a true musician and the only other person besides me in our small village who could read music. He would show me his compositions, written mainly for church masses. “Varda, varda – che bello ‘sto pezzo!” he would say as he grabbed by arm with a monkey like grip. His enthusiasm always shined through.

After several years in Tret, I was searching for a Christmas gift for Marcello, I stumbled across an old poem called “Paternoster.” It was written in the local dialect of Nones by and unrelated man of the same surname some 100 year hence. I had a special copy of the poem printed as to allow for musical notation and presented it to Marcello. I gave him a few ideas for music but in the end said I was sure he could make a beautiful piece from it. I could see the wheels turning immediately. “ ‘Spetta, spetta – Si’.” Was his response. The glitter in his eyes was strong and he said to me that it was one of the best Christmas gifts ever.

Marcello was a small man who came up to my small wife’s shoulders. When his car approached on our mountainous highway, it always appeared as though no one was driving. Even with several cushions, he could barely see over the dashboard. He always drove a four by four and would drive up and down the valley to fulfill commitments with his church choir and visit old friends. A couple of years ago at age 92, he went to Trento to renew his driver’s license. Here in Italy, they are rigorous about renewing licenses for very old people. He passed the test perfectly but the examiner was determined to trip him up. She shouted at Marcello, “Mr. Bertagnolli, do you know where you live?”  Marcello turned red with anger and shouted back (expletives deleted), “Of course I know where the hell I live!” He then repeated his address several times to drive the point home.

Several years ago, Marcello’s wife literally died in his arms early one morning. He recounted the whole thing to me on several occasions. I’ve never seen a man in his nineties cry so genuinely. On May 6, Marcello’s long life came to an abrupt end with a heart attack at age 94.

Addio amico mio. Sicuramente, ci vediamo fra poco. Nel frattemp, ricordiamo sempre con amore.

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‘At’s ‘he ‘hing, Inin It?

America seems to have a love affair with Brits and Aussies. We demand that our commercials and newscasts are delivered by people who can not speak American English. We seem to think the archaic language of our distant cousins in the British Isles and their former penal colony is somehow cool.

Turn on your television (Telly) and you will hear our beautiful language butchered in every conceivable way in order to sell something. But, of course selling is the name of the game. ‘At’s ‘he ‘hing, inin It? There’s a bloke from down under pandering cleaning products with his Crocodile Dundee-like toothy grin. Lord, it really seems like there should be a billy bong in there somewhere from which springs a giant croc to swallow this bloke up. I mean this dude is really annoying!

But wait there’s more. Virtually every news channel has their own special little Brit, usually a multi-racial woman who blathers on in a distant dialect that is unintelligible to most Americans. I want the news, i.e. currents events, without a lesson in Anglo-Saxon. Please! If I hear aluminum pronounced that crazy way one more time, I swear I’m going to start screaming at my TV.

The Brits have even managed to screw up Hollywood. A few years ago, I took my wife to see a questionable remake of the Exodus story: Exodus: Gods and Kings. I was treated to hours of biblical people babbling British English. I did not know that Moses was from Liverpool and Ramses was from somewhere around the Midlands. Chiefly because of these sketchy accents, the movie bombed. Duh!

Now before someone in Britain starts calling me an old git, let me further explain. I have nothing personal against the British Isles or their lovely (loo-vly) people or that former penal colony. I would just humbly expect that my cinema and television content, including those pesky commercials, be delivered to me in my native parlance. I want to be entertained and informed not annoyed. I’m pretty sure those in Britain would prefer their media not be delivered with a French accent or am I wrong?

The fact that British English hasn’t really changed that much in 300 years or so aside, what’s with the absence of those Ts and Hs and substituting an R for an A at the end of words. I don’t bloody live in Americer – I live in America and I would prefer to hear American English.

My apologies in advance (I fear the swift Anglo-Saxon sword.):

To both the Brits and Aussies – I apologize for co-mingling your cultures. I realize you are not fond of each other and that all blokes are not the same.

Yes I know that many of our great actors on the stage and in movies were British. Blimey!

Yes, I know you think your pronunciation of aluminum is correct. Forgive me for not agreeing.

I know the Exodus movie’s bombing was not Britain’s fault; it was a bloody bad film.

I could apologize all night but well, ‘at’s ‘he ‘hing, inin It?

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The Return To Italy


We come and go between our residences in both North Carolina and the Italian Alps with great regularity. We have done so for years and have gotten used to the routine. With few exceptions, it’s not a terrible transition. So this year should not have been any different, right? Wrong!

Let’s start with the trip itself. We got up at 2:30 in the morning in order to shut down all of our services in North Carolina, lock-up and head to the airport with a neighbor who thankfully agreed to pick us up at 4:45 AM. (Bless you Don!) We got to the airport in twenty minutes and waited for our 6 AM flight to Atlanta. Things went smoothly and we were in Atlanta by 7 AM. Of course the trouble was that our flight to Munich, Germany did not depart until 5 PM. That’s ten hours in the Atlanta airport with little to do but exercise out thumbs.

We eagerly sought out the Sojourner’s Restaurant on the C Concourse to have breakfast. Sparing all of the details, let’s just say that it was the worst meal we have ever had anywhere on the face of the planet. The grease was thick, the service surly and the end result was extreme gastronomical problems for the next 20 hours.

After twiddling our thumbs for hour after hour with no hope of even a nap, we finally boarded the plane for Munich. The plane was half empty so we moved to the back to avoid a family with two babies. (I always have a great fear that some toddler will throw up on my laptop.)  I watched a not too memorable movie and settled down to a couple of glasses of wine to mask the taste of the rubber chicken dinner.

I finally went off to sleep only to be awakened by an unusual occurrence: An ice storm off the coast of Ireland at 30,000 feet. I did not indeed know that hail can strike a plane at that altitude. After listening to the engines surge for ten minutes or so and hearing the pelting come to a stop, I rolled over, sighed and nodded back off. A short time later I smelled food and was treated to a boxed breakfast of dubious content. Setting the rock hard mini bagel aside, I awaited eagerly our decent into Munich.

The plane landed a bit early at 8 AM and so I was sure the shuttle we booked would be there at 9:30 AM. They are supposed to be there at the Treffpunkt every three hours starting at 9:30. They never showed up, opting to come at 12:30 instead. That was another 4 1/2 hours of sitting on our butts and pleasantly yammering in German.

The bus finally showed up but the driver seemed disoriented. We made our way down the continent toward Bolzano, Italy. Four and half hours later the driver missed the exit for Klausen, sending the only passenger to exit there into a complete panic. This poor elderly soul had a speech impediment and I needed to translate her frustration to the driver. In the end, he decided to drop the rest of us off in Bolzano and then return to Klausen. Forty hours had passed so I reluctantly muttered, “Whatever!”

Our friend met us in Bolzano (Bless you Maurizio!) and finally we were home some 42 hours after getting up for the journey in the United States. This is normal fare for us so we didn’t bitch. Then the real fun began.

Item One: No hot water or heat. The whole damned Italian made system was off. Actually, we found that it had been sabotaged by a neighbor who hates Americans. (Who doesn’t?) We got that one fixed in short order but had to turn on the oven for heat. (Better that I had stuck my head in it.)

Item Two: We apparently brought a snow storm with us. The morning after our arrival, we were treated to a sloppy foot of fresh snow. I took the cue from my Italian neighbors and let God do his magic. In other words I sat on my butt with a grappa in hand and waited for the white stuff to melt away.

The next surprise was that the Italian postal service had decided in our absence to deliver mail only on alternate days. The whole country is bankrupt, so what did it matter.  Their avisio did not faze me; I have become almost immune to third world inconveniences. The fact that our trash was not picked-up as agreed was also not a surprise. I will leave it at the curb, Napoli style, until they fetch it eventually.

We then found that virtually everyone had changed their business hours during our absence. After we arrived at the recycle center to where we must drive at our own expense to mandatorily recycle virtually everything, we found that center too had changed its hours and was closed. No problem: Another expensive trip and a pair of rubber gloves solved that one.

The corker was our hasty trip to Trento to retrieve our re-issued green cards. By law they were supposed to be ready early last fall but we were told because of the influx of illegal immigrants, they would not be ready until January. We arrived at their office on April 16 only to be told they would not be ready for another two weeks. All of this for a couple that have been EU residents for over 16 years. Ridiculous is too kind a word. The Italians could not even build a toy Lincoln Log Cabin without a delay of a year. La vergogna!

The Italian holiday of April 25 (Liberation Day) came and passed without a single thank you as always. These folks obviously think they liberated themselves from the Nazis. (Yeah, right!)  Instead, virtually everyone here now wants to take a poke at us about Donald Trump. My response? Fan cuolo!

Three weeks in and we are still stumbling around between miscues of dentist appointments, frantic grocery shopping to avoid the intervalo, attending multiple funerals and trying to get a new hot water system. This is not a vacation folks! This is simply Reality 101 in Italy.

Hewwo There Wittle Fewwow!

One of the questions that constantly vexes me is, “Why does every small child in America talk like Elmer Fudd?” Have genetics gone wild? What happened?

As I child I was treated regularly to Elmer’s odd speech on television. However these were cartoons made to entertain children not serve as a how to for the English language. Where did we go wrong? From the past I can recall such phrases as:

“Be vewy vewy quiet, I’m hunting wabbits!, He-e-e-e-e!”
“Come over here you scwewy wabbit.”
“Why, you wascally wabbit!”
“West and wewaxation at wast!”

But these days, I hear the same thing in every corner of our society. At the market, the youngster pleads with his mother, “Oh pwease, oh pwease can I have the chocowate wabbit?” “I feel vewy wucky to have such a wikable mother.” What the hell? When did all of America start speaking like cartoon imbeciles? Do these poor creatures not learn the proper English language somewhere before they are adolescents?

I think that maybe parents are at fault for encouraging life-long speech impediments by turning their urchins out to pasture on the questionable sustenance of internet and television cartoons. Are all of our children simply waffable wittle wascals who can’t wead, wite or wisten! It looks to me like the education system, both at home and in schools, is a widdle wusty!

The next time you encounter one of America’s little dummies, you may want to say, “Hewwo there wittle fewwow. How’s Elmer and all those waffable wunatics on telewision. Are you getting any smarter or are you just waughing out woud?

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Return Of The Tinker

tin·ker (tiNGkər)
noun (especially in former times) a person who travels from place to place mending metal utensils as a way of making a living. The word comes from the 13th century as ‘tyckner’ or ‘tinkler’ a term used in medieval Scotland and England for a metal worker.

The bad news: They’ve been gone for some time. The good news: They’re coming back!

For years now, Americans have been throwing away household items that didn’t work anymore. From knives that need sharpening to metal tools to toys to lawnmowers, etc. America has simply grown weary (and lazy) of fixing things. It is often much cheaper to buy a new one that to fix the old one. However, times are changing.

The tinker was a fixture in America from the start but especially well-loved from the depression years until after World War II. People didn’t have the money to buy a new one so they fixed their belongings, often with the help of a travelling tinker. He’s the guy who fixed your child’s broken wagon, fixed a broken hand mower (Yes, millennials, we used to push a mechanical mower.), put pots back together and even sharpened kitchen knives. He was sort of a jack of all trades when it came to metal objects.

Just recently it has been stated that tinkers are making their way back into the American scene. Why? One possible explanation is that the American public is starting to turn away from cheap, ill-made Chinese household objects in favor of more expensive American goods. If you’re going to pay more, it might be cheaper to maintain your investment rather than chucking it into the garbage can. Another explanation could be that there just isn’t anyone out there who can currently fix things. If you need a carpenter, plumber or electrician, chances are that you’ll wind up with a guy my age at your door. Generation X and their spawn do not aspire to these trades, preferring to all be hedge fund managers. If they can’t be hedge fund managers, they often choose none of the above as an occupation.

Whatever the reason, it’s good to see the return of the tinker. They have been out of circulation long enough and America needs them to fix our stuff. Welcome back!

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The Return Of The Munk

Several months ago, I wrote a piece about my nemesis the Chipmunk. (See

There I was in my serene bliss, thinking back upon the days when Mr. Chipmunk was torturing me with his crafty acts of thievery. I sighed a bit to think he had gone to the great grain silo in the sky after being gathered up in the jaws of our neighbor’s dog. Cruel fate but what did it matter? The little son of a bitch was gone! Or so I thought.

The warm afternoon enveloped me as I sat with my gin and tonic in hand, gazing into my green backyard. At first I thought I saw a bird out of the corner of my eye. It was just a little movement in the grass but it looked loathsomely familiar. I strained my eyes for a closer look. Good God, it was him! And then I thought I saw three tiny jumping bumps behind him. Lord, he was back and this time he brought the whole family!

I stumbled up and out of my chair to break the news to my wife in the kitchen. “The little bastard’s back and now there are three more of them!” I blurted. “Three of what?” was the response. We both went back onto the deck and watched as three (or was it four) chipmunks romped back and forth through our yard. It was like the movie Groundhog Day but with a smaller cast. I jumped full on into my yard as if to protect my fiefdom from these varmints. They immediately scattered and I was left with the same question as months earlier: What to do?

In the First Battle of The Munk, we decided against the plank. It seemed too cruel to lure an animal with food to a drowning in a bucket. Besides, I’m not much for dispatching animals of any kind, even those who cause me grief. But as the chipmunk continued to wreak his havoc in my yard in his second annual assault, I remembered Walmart has a nice Daisy pellet rife with a scope. Hmm.

We thought about what to do for a week or so. The rifle was purchased. I reluctantly took a couple of shots with that pellet rifle but I only managed to break the bird feeder that my nemesis sat upon. Finally, I just let it go. In a world that is full of nuclear threats from third world midgets and crazy people shooting each other down for naught, it seemed as though a my battle with the chipmunk paled in importance. Yes, it is still frustrating to be constantly outwitted by a rodent and yes I would rather he find someone else to haunt. But I’m sure he or one of his spawn will be back every spring just to let me know who’s really the boss. I am destined to forever hear that now familiar faint murmur from my back yard: Veni, Vidi, et torquentur.

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