Sunday, December 30, 2007

The Messiah

No, I'm not going all evangelical on you. And no grouching today.
What it is, my church has a Messiah Sing-Along every year, and lately I'm the coordinator (I fear I am eroding my grouchy image here).
About a hundred people come, from all over Western Mass. and parts of Vermont and Connecticut sometimes. It's been going on for 43 years, and no I haven't been doing it all this time (you hear, dogboy?).
We have four soloists, professionals who donate their time out of love for the music and joy in singing. There is a pick-up orchestra, whoever feels like showing up with an instrument. A lot of success for the orchestra is due to a great conductor, Greg Hayes, who brings in several professional or near professional musicians. It's one of the things that bring me real joy every year.
There I said it, I was happy.
Next post I'll go back to bitching.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Well, it's over.
The curmudgeon did spend some time on the streets of Northampton trying to glower and spread a little gloom to even out the cheer, but the spirit and the music were relentless and the curmudgeon retreated in defeat. Actually gave a quarter to a street musician.

Went to the mall, but didn't see anyone there smiling anyway, no work for me to do.

In reality, had a nice time with my family. Got a couple cute presents including a small Godzilla model
Image Hosted by

(my daughter visited Japan recently) and also this: Image Hosted by

which warmed my heart considerably.

I hope everyone had a merry day.

Sunday, December 16, 2007


Okay, it snowed. Second foot-deep snow in three days up here in the hills.
I'm not going to complain about the snow or winter. Yeah, it's a pain in the butt, dangerous, inconvenient, costly (oil at 3.19 a gallon?!), but also beautiful, fun to play in, and a change from the other seasons. Those of us easily bored like the change.

I figure if it really bugs someone, that person should hightail it out for warmer climes. Places with high humidity in the summer, lots of bugs, nasty snakes, kudzu growing in your underwear and alligators who view humans as steak tartare on the hoof.

I went to visit a girlfriend while she was staying at her mother's place in Florida, near the Gulf coast. It was a retiree community. There was a pond and the pond, my g-f said, had an alligator in it. I myself saw it's evil eyes just above the waterline as it waited for some hapless bird or fish to come by. The g-f said that when they got too big, the state came and took them out. All I could think of was that this community had people going around on walkers, and alligators can reach speeds of thirty miles an hour on foot. Every morning when I went out I expected to find a crushed walker and maybe a slipper laying on the road near the pond.

Nice place to visit. Live there? Uh uh. Assuming I ever get out of debt enough to retire, I'm heading even further south, the Caribbean would be nice. Or maybe one of those Greek islands on the Mediterranean, one of the ones where there aren't any cars and I can sit at an outdoor cafe sipping wine and flirting with the local widows. Or any other woman who comes by. I'm not biased. Except to those whose husbands own automatic weapons.

Anyway, I was talking about snow. Remember? Snow and cold and high winds. New Englanders take a perverse pride in this stuff. They like to brag about how they survived every winter. I notice tho, that a lot of them, when they reach retirement age, light out for those kudzu states. it's not the cold, it's the shoveling.

Up here in the bucolic hills of Western Massachusetts, there are, or have recently been (pause for respectful silence) a remarkably large number of pretty darn old farmers and other residents. They promote their way of life as enabling longevity, but I think it's just the weak ones died or headed out for California. Or kudzu country. There's a reason why the hills are sparsely populated.

I'm not feeling so well myself lately.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007


Heard on the radio some of the testimony of some weasely army general who is also an attorney (what a combination!) avoiding answering questions about whether or not waterboarding is torture. What a crock. The fact that no one in the administration will come out and say definitively "No it's not" is an indication that in their hearts they know it is. We've prosecuted both our own soldiers and Japanese soldiers, after WWII,
for using these techniques in the past.
Now all of a sudden it's a grey area. (and yes i spell grey the British way—the result of immersing myself in "The Complete Sherlock Holmes" as a youth)
It's such a grey area that the CIA destroys tapes showing our soldiers using the practice on prisoners, to protect the "interrogators." It's not torture, we think, but just in case, we'll cover these guys asses. A corollary benefit is that those guys won't have to tell who gave them the orders.
I guess we could call Torquemada an "interrogator." And those Roman soldiers who questioned Christ.

Oh, I know, it must've been those Blackwater guys.
Remember when our diplomats were protected by Marines instead of mercenaries? (I'm showing my age.) Seemed to be a lot less mass shootings back then.

Things are really getting bad when I start feeling nostalgic about the Cold War. I miss Nikita Khrushchev.

Talk about getting off topic.

It's bedtime.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Another day in Paradise

That's what they call Northampton and surrounding areas. It's a great place for Smith and Hampshire college graduates, anti-capitalist radicals, anti-war protesters, gays, lesbians, your bi's and transgenders, aging hippies and 60's burnouts (like me), and die-hard socialists.

If you're pierced and tattooed to the max, you will be comfortable here. High-school kids still color their hair and gel it into mohawks.

It's a nice place. I like it. When I'm feeling mellow I can go to town and marvel at the diversity. When I'm a grouch, which seems like most of the time lately, I can gripe about how stupid those kids with their arms tattooed to the shoulders look. Are any of them expecting to have a job anywhere but coffee houses and boutiques in their lives?

And what is it with this piercing business. I like pierced ears and a belly button ring is kind of sexy, but rings and pins in the nostrils? How do they stay in? Isn't there a snot buildup in there? Do you get a whistling sound when the pin or ring is removed? And why eyebrows? Why not pins and rings in your little finger? It would make as much sense. And be just as attractive and meaningful.

Certain pre-modern societies (I'm trying to be culturally sensitive here) used piercing as a rite of maturing, and it was done with the proper ceremony and under the guidance of a priest or shaman. Now people go into any tattoo parlor and get a pin stuck thru their tongue and feel like they've joined some kind of tribe. The tribe of the silly and misguided.

Of course a guy who had a pony tail, and wore bell-bottoms in his youth (the one thing i am embarrassed about) probably shouldn't complain. But when i was a hippie, there was a good chance you would get hassled by police (arrested, a little mild bludgeoning) or beat up by the local yahoos. There was an element of danger your pierced and tattooed barista or waiter doesn't have to face these days.

Yagh, it's getting late. Time for this grouch to get his beauty sleep.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I haven't started shopping yet, and don't know when I will. This whole present thing has me bummed out, not to mention the commercialism. Seems like some of the specialness of the season gets lost when the stores start it right after Halloween.

I keep threatening to move somewhere like Dubai, Indonesia, mainland China—anywhere they don't celebrate Christmas but I can still drink.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

First Post

Okay, my friend Mark got me to start a blog. Why anyone would be interested in my dyspeptic meanderings I don't know. But here it is. It is what it is. And isn't that a vacuous, uninformative, pretentious statement?
I use it all the time.
Just kidding.
Anyway, this is where i will complain, explain, and entertain (mostly myself) outrageous, provoking and sometimes obnoxious observations on what passes for culture and politics, and religion too, what the hey, in our contemporary society. I won't say modern. Modern was back in the sixties-seventies. What we have today is contemporary but retrograde, looking to the past for validation, the result of too many baby boomers still being babies (Move on people, nostalgia is mental masturbation—get over it.) Society a shadow of what it could be. We have the most advanced civilization in the history of the world and what have we wrought? CSI Miami? Smart (sic) Bombs, George W. Bush, the Big Mac? Walmart?
Does anyone else get depressed standing in the supermarket checkout line and seeing People Magazine? And Cosmopolitan with the latest "Seven things Guys want you to do in bed?"
No wonder Muslims think we are out of control and a pernicious effect on righteous society. Not that those who would stone women to death for adultery while letting the man off scot-free have the moral high ground. But there is no joy in realizing we are all in the same moral morass, albeit for different reasons.
I've bitched enough for tonight.
Any spelling errors are the fault of my proofreader. I don't make misteakes.