Monthly Archives: October 2021

 

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

by J.D.H.

 

Thelma pushed her spectacles up the bridge of her nose and studied the contents of her medicine cabinet: Pravastatin … Lisinopril … Propanolol. In the background, outside of her tidy bathroom, she could hear Henry Popkins droning on and on. Now Henry was onto the nature of God and existence.

Geezus, the man was intolerable. His visits, frequent, were a trial to her. Thelma contemplated a translucent bottle of something called Verapamil, then slammed the cabinet door shut, unsatisfied. Henry’s voice boomed out from her kitchen.

“I ask you this, Thelma: Could it be that the Almighty created all — billions and trillions of birds, bees, people and animals — because He was bored?”

Thelma shuffled back into the kitchen and eyed Henry carefully. She would get no closer to him than an arm’s length; the man’s cologne was overbearing, but that was nothing compared to his halitosis. He needed a remedy for his bad breath, and if there was a spray or a pill for that problem, Thelma would find it.

 

**

 

“Think about it. Jus’ say you are God. If God was a woman,” Henry chuckled at his own joke.

“You are bored. It’s just you, and nothin’ else. So what do you do? You create things. But just a few things ain’t enough. You’re still bored. You need to create billions of things, so that there are billions of things havin’ thoughts, and it still ain’t enough. On account of those thoughts, none of ‘em, are new to you, ‘cuz you already thought of ‘em ‘cuz you are the Creator.”

Thelma sighed. She pulled a chair up to the kitchen table and eased into it. Her legs objected. Her legs objected to any change of position. To take her mind off her arthritis, she studied Henry’s hair. It oozed gel, it sparkled grease, and Thelma wondered if perhaps it was Henry’s hair gel that assaulted her nostrils, and not his cologne.

She did not want to look at Henry, and she did not want to smell him. And she sure as the dickens did not want to listen to him. Her cotton skirt had hiked up around her thighs, so Thelma contemplated her own varicose veins. And Henry droned on ….

 

**

 

“You take the Big Bang. We are told that the universe came about from mass no bigger than a pin’s head. But what do you suppose that mass was? Could that mass have been a thought — God’s thought? Is that all we are, Thelma, just a bunch of thoughts that God came up with because He was bored?” Henry felt triumphant. He waited for some sort of acknowledgment.

Thelma issued a grunt. “You shut up for 12 seconds and listen to me, Henry Popkins.” She leaned toward him, caught a whiff of his gel, and sat back again. “This talk of life being not real, you know who always says it?”

Henry was silent, so she continued. “I’ll tell you who says it — the idle. The dreamers like you. My daddy, your daddy, my mum and all them’s that works, them’s like the migrant field hands, they don’t cotton to this ‘God’s Dream’ talk because that’s a luxury of the idle.

“When the migrant comes in at night, and his hands are blistered and his back is broken, you think he’s a singin’ ‘Row, row, row your boat, life is but a dream’? Any who sweats for a livin’ knows he ain’t a part of nobody’s sweet dream. Not even the Almighty’s.”

Henry said, “Hmmmm.”

 

**

 

“Know what else is real, Henry Popkins?” Henry said nothing. “That life-killin’ breath of yours, that’s what’s real. And I know I ain’t a-dreamin’ when I am forced to sit here and inhale it.” She paused, and a sly smile crept across her face. “Boom-chucka, boom-chucka, boom-chucka-boom!”

Henry smiled back at her. Softly, he echoed, “Boom-chucka, boom-chucka, boom-chucka-boom.” It was a special thing of theirs.

 

**

 

Thelma studied Henry again. Something was moving in his hair. Wasn’t it? She leaned forward, squinting at him … sure enough, there just above his left ear, something small was moving sporadically, struggling in the hair goop. It was a fly, trying to work its way free. This had happened before, Henry’s hair so thick with goop, insects would check in and they wouldn’t check out. Row, row, row your boat.

Thelma frowned and got up from her chair. She peered out the small window above her kitchen sink and saw movement out in her beet field. The migrants.

 

**

 

When she was a girl, she and all her friends did what these migrants did today, marching up and down the rows, hoeing the beets. But she and the other kids were carefree and lazy, just killing time and earning soda money. The migrants were serious about their work, it was their little piece of the American Dream.

Thelma squinted out the window. One of the migrants, Jesus she thought it was, had an erection.

“Henry, come look at this here. Jesus got him a Johnny-on-a-Pole, I knows it.”

Henry did not stir, so Thelma shuffled back into the bathroom, humming as she went: “Row, row, row your boat, gently …

“Where now, woman?” Henry barked.

“You need things, Henry. Lots of things. Let me get one thing just for you. Jesus gave me somethin’ the other day, might cure your bad breath.”

“Bad breath, you say? Crud and nonsense. It’s all in your head, Thelma. Everything’s in your head!”

“Got something right here … hold on … from Jesus. All the way from South America.”

 

**

 

There was a knock on the door. Thelma sat in her rocker, half-asleep and half-contemplating the veins on her chubby thighs. Whoever was knocking was persistent. With a grunt and a sigh, the old woman rose and slowly made her way to the entry.

Jesus, clad in dirty khaki pants and a striped cotton shirt, removed his tattered hat as Thelma invited him inside.

“Miss Thelma, hello. Hello.”

Thelma glanced at the man. She didn’t need to examine him, his appearance never changed. She did notice that his erection was gone.

“I have more raw cassava for you.” He removed a plastic bag from his pocket and held it before her.

 

**

 

Thelma’s eyes brightened at the site of the bag. “Don’t say? Don’t mind if I take it off your hands.”

Jesus peered over the old woman’s shoulder at Henry, still seated at the table and apparently studying the contents of his plate. He hadn’t budged since Jesus entered the house.

She gestured to the kitchen table. “Last batch worked good. Come see!” She ambled over to the table and stood just behind Henry.

“Problem with old people, Jesus, yours truly included I suppose,” she chuckled, “is we get set in our ways. Comfortable. Too comfortable.

“Old Hank, for example. You can’t argue with the man. He doesn’t see reason; he only sees what he wants to see. So I’d argue and argue and get nowhere. It tires you, Jesus, it really does.”

 

**

 

Jesus made his way, tentatively, to the table. Henry, paralyzed and half-comatose from Thelma’s serving of the South American toxin, raw cassava, blinked once.

“Henry did not believe in pain, Jesus. Old Hank thought it was all in our head!” She chuckled. “So I had to learn him. Henry knows reality now, don’t you Henry?” She punched him, hard, in the smallish goiter that was forming on his neck. No reaction from Henry. Just a soft moan.

Thelma smiled down at Henry. “Row, row, row your boat, life is but a dream ….”

Henry’s lips parted. A tear trickled down his cheek. Two flies, trapped by the hair goop above his left ear, struggled in vain to escape their final resting place.

 

 

THE END

 

Click here for the index of short stories.

Click here to see all of the stories.

 

© 2010-2021 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

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Free Money

 

For Everyone! *

 

* (except you)

 

 

“Medicare Martha” (above) has some questions on her TV commercial:

 

“Where’s my additional benefits?”

“Where do I get these automatically?”

 

Martha, who we are told is already on Medicare, just found out that she might be eligible for more taxpayer money. But there’s a problem: Martha can’t be bothered to pick up the phone.

Selfless, kind-hearted Martha is such a wonderful spokesperson for older Americans, don’t you think?

Free money for Martha!

 

*

 

 

Biden must be trying to spark civil war while he is out of town, in Europe, with the news of this proposed reward for illegal immigration.

Or … is it possible this is fake news meant to distract us from the backlash against Biden’s vaccine mandates?

 

At any rate, free money for illegal immigrants!

 

**

 

 

I photo-searched A.O.C. and discovered there are lots of fake nudes of the congresswoman. However, there is a bright side for A.O.C.

Should she ever become embroiled in a sex scandal of any sort, and there are pictures, she can point to the ubiquitous fakes already out there, and plausibly deny everything.

 

 

Oddly, if you Google fellow squad member Ilhan Omar, you will find just one nude fake — but more fake nudes of A.O.C.

 

 

 

**

 

 

I don’t know which would be worse, having this sputtering, dissembling weasel on the Supreme Court, or as the attorney general.

 

**

 

As I watched newly bespectacled Bill Maher perform his monologue the other day, I had the nagging feeling that I’d seen it — or him — in some bygone era. Who was it I was reminded of? Hmmm ….

 

.                    

 

**

 

 

Last but not least …

 

 

Let’s Go Brandon!

 

© 2010-2021 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

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by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt

 

Here’s the thing about current-affairs books — they tend to have a short shelf life. What was eye-opening in 2018 can feel ho-hum today. If you happen to be a news junkie, like me, reading The Coddling of the American Mind in 2021 feels like revisiting old news, even though the book is just a few years old.

And yet that’s a compliment to the authors. So much of what they describe in Coddling — concepts that seemed fresh in 2018 — is now omnipresent on media news outlets. That’s a testament to their powers of persuasion.

What Lukianoff and Haidt describe (in case you haven’t guessed from the title) is the concept of “safetyism” and its harmful effects on society in general, and schools in particular. Safetyism, they claim, is introduced by over-protective parents, continued by college administrators, and then spread throughout the greater society. Hence, the “snowflake.” Hence, social problems galore.

But you probably already knew that. You, like me, should have read this book in 2018.

 

© 2010-2021 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

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I’m thinking that Fauci would make a great Bond villain. In fact, he might turn out to be one of the greatest villains of the 21st century.

Put that on your magazine cover.

 

**

 

What happened on that New Mexico movie set was a tragedy, no question.

But it’s hard to summon much sympathy for Alec Baldwin, who seemed to take glee in condemning the cop in this fatal shooting:

 

 

**

 

 

I’m more of an “ass man” than a “tits man” (no offense, tits; I like you too), so I don’t have a problem with the new shorts that Hooters is trying to introduce for its female employees. I can understand, though, why some girls are against it. After all, it’s easier to accentuate your assets up top, what with push-up bras and whatever else they use, than it is to disguise a flabby ass.

But these TikTok girls who are making a fuss about the shorts are lying to us. They claim they don’t want to be exposed, down low, on the job, and they exhibit how awful that is by wearing the shorts and … exposing their down low to the world. Yeah, right.

But since the girls are hellbent on showing us how awful the shorts are, we feel obligated to help advance their cause:

 

.                         

 

.                                                   

 

 

 

**

 

 

This Biden-Beavis thing might be funny except for the fact that anything Biden-related is no longer funny. It’s nightmarish.

 

© 2010-2021 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

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The Trip

 

I’m not normally a fan of gross-out humor, which is too often witless and juvenile. And I’m not attracted to gore, which I find a bore. So why am I recommending Norway’s The Trip, which is loaded with gross-outs and gore? Because when done right it can be funny, and The Trip is a black comedy that made me LOL — an event so rare for me that when it does happen, I simply must praise the film.

Noomi Rapace and Aksel Hennie play a married couple who are ostensibly taking a relaxing holiday trip to their lakeside cabin. But peace and prosperity are not in their cards. The plot starts out like The War of the Roses, but then … shit happens. Literally. To say more would be a spoiler, so I’ll shut up now. Release: 2021 Grade: B+

 

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I just finished watching There’s Someone Inside Your House on Netflix. In some ways, the movie was comforting. It’s nice to know that 40 years after I was first exposed to this kind of junk, young people are still transfixed by slasher movies in which other young people get slashed.

On the other hand, watching the flick was dispiriting. Since the 1970s, movies like this nearly always featured nubile young starlets getting naked. This was done, presumably, to cater to the lust of males in the audience — not to mention the leering producers and crew on set.

No such luck in There’s Someone Inside Your House. The movie certainly has nubile young starlets, including final girl/star Sydney Park (pictured above). But no one shows skin. (As a consolation for horny males, Park does treat us to tits and ass in her Instagram posts. See below.)

 

 

But I miss the gratuitous skin in teen slasher flicks — or, for that matter, in sex comedies. Everyone involved back then seemed to understand that bare-naked actresses were not essential to the plot, but they got naked anyway. And if this was degrading to the actress, well, she wasn’t held at gunpoint. She got paid. Like starlet Karen Wood in this shamelessly gratuitous — some would say humiliating — scene from 1985’s Screwballs II (originally titled Loose Screws):

 

Karen Wood

 

“I’m ready for my closeup, Mr. DeMille.”

 

Not just bare-breasted, but groped as well.


In addition to the cluster of actors, there would also be an off-camera crew taking in the action.


 

The end of the gratuitous nude scene in mainstream movies — what caused this cultural calamity? Was it overzealous feminists? Harvey Weinstein? An Internet where the most disgusting and dehumanizing pornography is just one click away, and a cultural desire to compensate for that by sanitizing mainstream fare? All of the above?

Depending on how despondent we become thinking about the demise of the gratuitous nude scene, we might or might not make this an ongoing category at The Grouchy Editor. We have nostalgia for movies and starlets who knew that what they were doing was naughty — but did it anyway.

 

Karen makes a dash for the exit.

 

Sydney shows us the back door.

 

© 2010-2021 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

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I have mixed feelings about the resurrection of Cops (the TV show — although Officer Friendly rising from the dead might be kind of interesting). On the one hand, I’m not a fan of cancel culture, so when a small group of angry radicals on Twitter does not get its way, for once, that’s welcome news. However … I never cared much for Cops because it exploits poor people at the worst moments of their lives. All in the name of entertainment.

What’s that, you say? The downtrodden deplorables can always refuse to be on the show by declining to sign a release? Technically true, or so I’ve read.

But if you’ve ever been snared by the criminal justice system, you know there’s enormous pressure to please the cop/judge/parole officer, or whoever controls your fate. If you sense that they want you to be on the show (because they will also get to be on TV), you’ll probably sign the damn release. Anything to make your life a bit easier.

Finally, I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that most of the working-class subjects of Cops do not have high-priced lawyers or media consultants to advise them on the long-term consequences of their appearance on the show. At least on Jerry Springer, the guests know what they’re in for.

 

**

 

Sorry, but I have little interest in Adele or her new album. As a non-fan who does not follow her travails in the entertainment media, Adele strikes me as the British version of Taylor Swift — a singer who whines a lot.

 

**

 

 

Survivor, like its CBS cousin Big Brother, has gone all “woke.” This is bad news for CBS cameramen and horny males in the audience, because hot chicks and gratuitous T&A shots are rapidly becoming no-nos. But we dirty old men still get a few breadcrumbs, such as these shots of 20-year-old Liana Wallace’s booty:

 

 

**

 

From the “Department of Stories We Don’t Worry Enough About”

 

 

© 2010-2021 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

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Vaccine Hysteria

 

I wonder if the people who are demanding that everyone get the virus vaccine recognize themselves in Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Just like the vaccine-demanders in 2021, the pod people in Snatchers are encouraged to snitch on holdouts, shame them in public, and not rest until everyone conforms to what their leaders demand.

The original Snatchers is generally interpreted as a critique of the 1950s red scare.

Today the bad guys are neighbors who rat you out or sit silent while the state attempts to force everyone to bend to its will.

 

 

**

 

I keep reading that the best way to undo the damage done by progressives during the Biden regime is to vote the bastards out of office in next year’s election.

Problem is, the fruit loops in charge have done so much harm, so fast, that I’m not sure we can wait that long. Voting them out of office will be too little, too late.

Exhibit A: illegal immigration. The only way to “undo” the harm done by opening the floodgates to hundreds of thousands — millions, if you count the illegals already here — of newcomers draining the system is massive deportations.

But how would you like to be the president in charge of that, accused by leftist media of “tearing families apart”? I can see the headlines now, comparing that unlucky president to Hitler rounding up the Jews in Nazi Germany.

 

**

 

 

Yeah, I can relate to poor Webber.

I haven’t attended that many plays during my days here on Earth, but I’ve only walked out of one. Back in the early 1990s, a touring production of Webber’s Cats came to Dallas. I could not make it through the first act. My then-wife and I made a dash for the exit.

I did not, however, buy a therapy dog.

 

**

 

I finished Denmark’s The Killing, and the show mostly lives up to its positive hype. There are twenty (long) episodes, but nearly all of them are absorbing and certainly “binge worthy.”

The one thing I preferred about the American remake was the ending, in which we finally found out Who Done It. The Danish finale was a bit anti-climactic; not so with AMC’s version.

 

**

 

My Twitter suspension is over. Not at all sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

 

© 2010-2021 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

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Rip’s Lament

 

“Suspended from Twitter. Again. At this point, I pretty much consider it a badge of honor.

“My sin? A certain politician was quoted as saying things could only ‘go back to normal’ if 98 percent of the population got vaccinated. I simply voiced my opinion that things would only ‘go back to normal’ if something, uh, rather unfortunate happens to that politician.”

 

**

 

 

Yeah … I guess so.

Problem is, the depiction of rich American capitalists as foul-mouthed, lecherous, sociopathic sadists is so broad and hyperbolic that it’s almost comical. That broadside at “capitalism,” featured in the closing episodes, is one of the show’s few weak points.

 

**

 

Biden and his “advisors” are criminals who are destroying the country. That’s all you need to know.

 

© 2010-2021 grouchyeditor.com (text only)

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