Tuesday, July 12, 2011

"Eat Our Peas" [2]

"First they will sample you; 

    Then they will make a stew of your brain."  [1]


[1] Excerpt from "Escape" series radio adaptation of "The Fourth Man."  (John Russell short story; Radioplay by Irving Ravetch.)  Broadcast August 18, 1947 on the CBS Radio Network.

[2]  I like peas and always have. Canned peas as a child during the Eisenhower 1950s.  Fresh peas later.  I even like English "mushy peas." 

Good grief.  Is this what things have come to?  

And what's with the constantly shifting regional accents and usages and the odd intonations?  When, on occasion, I've found myself slipping into similar behaviors (usually during arguments and other stressful moments), my wife has suggested having me committed.  

Readers interested in history and rhetoric may enjoy this article concerning the 5th century BC Athenian statesman,Cleon (Κλέων).


  1. Hard to find much to agree with here today except for the sage words attributed to Mme. Cravan.

  2. There is nothing to "disagree" with here. The president's habit of speaking in various "funny voices" is peculiar. One is never sure which personage/identity will show up; when multiple entities do in the course of a single public appearance, it's disconcerting. As a regular consumer of entire press conference appearances in that temporal space they now call "real time", I believe my conclusion is scientific, verifiable, preserved on videotape and ready for the time capsule. But since consistency is said to be the hobgoblin of small minds (and perhaps it is), I should mention that I variously refer to myself as unemployed, underemployed, fully employed and retired, so maybe I speak in various "funny voices" also. I must say that I think the current debt ceiling discussions are appalling on many levels. Off to Maine next week to visit Jane and lodging w/o television, thank heavens. Isn't that Carole Bouquet clip great? Curtis

  3. Roddy -- are you saying that you don't like mushy peas? Curtis

  4. Touche: I agree with all three of your pea assessments. But my favorite way to eat them is, and always has been, raw.

    I bet your regional accents are entertaining as hell.

    Finally, while unlike you I root for him, I cannot watch an entire speech by our President. (I hear his sibilants as a whistle, a pet peeve of mine that made it impossible for me to watch the actor Robert Vaughn, too. For similar reasons I always turn the treble way down for music.) So for all I know Obama did parts of the press conference as a valley girl then switched to an Andy-of-Mayberry voice.

    Enjoy Maine.

    p.s. Last night I endured haughty incompetent service at the Soho Grand but enjoyed a good coctail called a . . . called a . . . . Well maybe I ordered a second and forgot the name.

    But it had some special brand of rye whiskey, fresh lime, mushed fresh blackberries, sugar, and a mint sprig. With ice in an old-fashioned glass. It got a lot better when I crushed the mint.

  5. Maybe they should call it simply "Sprig" or "Summer Sprig". Last night in West Chester, PA under a hot sky and stars, my brother-in-law made delightful mojitos and grilled swordfish. Unfortunately, I was in the process of succumbing to an illness that previously felled Caroline and I "flamed on" during dinner. I spent the evening and restless overnight suffering terrible coughing and hallucinations. Hence, I believe, my Julien Torma post this morning, which I think sort of made lemonade from lemons. I don't want to squabble but I don't understand the concept of rooting for a president. My view is that the president should be rooting for me, which is something I feel has been distinctly lacking in this ultra-partisan administration. I'm sorry he has not achieved better results and think this is unlikely to change. By the way, when I channel the voices of others, it is definitely the signal of a mild disorder. I'm working on it, however, and tell myself that it's a part of life's rich pageant that belongs in a warehouse on the other side of town. Off to bed to sweat and hallucinate some more. Can't wait to get to Maine and see Jane, who apparently is developing into a Dirty Harry-caliber markswoman. Unlike the current Secretary of the Treasury, I will not be deducting the cost of summer camp from my income taxes as a "dependent expense". I expect you made the same decision on this one as I did. Curtis

  6. Sounds ugly. Speaking of flaming on, did you here that Marvel just killed off Johnny Storm?

    I have been rooting for politicians too long to stop now, ever since JFK was handsomer than his primary opponent, a bald pudgy man named Hubert. Though no fan of Dubya, I frequently found myself hoping he would clobber it out of the park.

    At some point I must have given up hope the politicians were rooting for me, though I take your point it would be nicer and better if they did.

    Speaking of Geithner, until recently he and I paid real estate taxes to the same account. The (modest) house he used to inhabit before moving to Washington was a few blocks from mine in Larchmont. One would see him on the street, looking intense but ordinary.

  7. John Gotti lived in a modest house also. (Cough, cough.) People's expressions convey very little, I think. As Jackie Gleason, in the role of Ralph Kramden, put it so well, "You see Boris Karloff dancing on the Red Skelton show and he looks like a really nice guy. But Frankenstein -- that's the real Karloff." There's a quote generally attributed to JFK, which I've never been able to source, that says, "everyone wants their child to grow up to be president, but no one wants their child to grow up to be a politician." President Obama's extravagant and definitive 2006 statement to the effect that raising the debt ceiling reflects an abject failure in leadership is to be noted and remembered. He later disavowed this position, saying he was simply casting a "political" vote then. But words matter, especially when they're so focused and specific, and obviously in some contexts they can be used to impeach the speaker. As John Lennon said, "all I want is the truth; just give me some truth." I highly recommend reading Reckless Endangerment by Gretchen Morgenson. Villains of all stripes (none of whom ever were made to wear prisoner stripes) are on parade there. Curtis

  8. One final thing. If you ever have an opportunity to listen to The Fourth Man on Escape, you should. It's really good. Curtis

  9. I will stick my neck out and concede that words matter.

    But an inconsistent statement made five years ago, before he was president, does not make the President or his Treasury secretary a monster (Karloff) or a murderer (Gotti), intemperate comparisons.

    I have lived under Reagan, Nixon, both Bushes, so I appreciate how tempting hyperbole can become when frustrated by long terms under leaders one finds unsatisfactory. And I am no more immune than you to the peculiar pain and pleasure of discovering inconsistent statements.

    But as lawyers we know that inconsistent statements are relevant not dispositive. If extending the debt ceiling is the right thing to do, Obama's previous statement does not make it wrong. It does not even make him dishonest. The inconsistent statements of a sitting president prove about as much about him as shooting fish in a barrel proves about fish. (Lincoln, for one, an easy target.)

  10. Back in Tuxedo and feeling horrible. The Gotti and Karloff comparisons were made for entertainment purposes and not to be taken literally as in the sense that I was suggesting that Sec'y Geithner was the equivalent of John Gotti or President Obama a Frankenstein monster. (As for the former, however, do read Reckless Endangerment with Woody Guthrie's Pretty Boy Floyd playing in the background; as for the latter, it's a great Ralph Kramden moment and a useful, amusing observation. Also, the Frankenstein monster is a fictional character, Boris Karloff is showbiz royalty and these guys aren't fit to ask him for his autograph.) I read Obama's "inconsistent" March 2006 statement a couple of days ago. Inconsistent is an inadequate description; it's 180 degrees opposed to his current position and was delivered in a strident, insulting manner. Obviously, it makes him dishonest; however, it doesn't make him unique in his line of work. People who try to excuse their their bad actions by saying "it's just politics" are the same as those who justify dishonest and destructive acts in commerce by saying "it's just business." I'm sorry to sound so strident myself, but this is one of the things I dislike most. It's immoral and a picture window to the soul. I will concede that in the president's case, it's a fairly "vanilla" example of this -- much gentler and more suitable for mixed company than his "limp dead body" remarks in the Illinois State Senate late-term abortion debate, which still take my breath away. Who thinks like that? And why on earth would you ever say it? Curtis

  11. I take your point about Gotti and Karloff. My sense of humor was down that day, for reasons having nothing to do with you. In retrospect, I suppose your citation of Ralph Kramden ought to have been a clue you were kidding, among several others I overlooked.

    I don't accept your point about looking into Obama's soul. Trust me, you can't. And I dearly hope there is no picture window into mine.

    Whatever his prior statements, or even deeply held convictions, about the debt ceiling, I hope any President gives them a hard critical look the day he is told Moody's is about to downgrade the country's debt rating. And that is only one among numberless imminent catastrophes. No one else bears their responsibility quite the way the President will. He, not a senator or congressman, will choose among which obligations of the republic are dishonored next month.

    Surely it is with respect to the things we dislike most that we are most at risk of stridency.

  12. Possibly. (That's in response to your last point.) Actually, I think the president's behavior with respect to the debt ceiling negotiation has been reckless. Republicans originally framed the thing simply and, I think, practically: we'll agree to raise the debt ceiling in return for actual dollar-for-dollar cuts. Then we can move on to the other "third-rail" issues that shouldn't be addressed with a gun to anyone's head. That got transformed into the poorly-named "grand bargain" garbage that's flailing before us now. And in that context it's become entirely clear that the president has no desire or intention to make any meaningful cuts in anything (including executive branch prerogatives) ever. As far as picture window on soul issues, the fact that the NY Times revealed yesterday that the president repeatedly and falsely claimed that his mother was denied health insurance coverage because of a pre-existing condition and continued to fight with her health insurer until her untimely death is both utterly shocking and reveals a very bad character. (His mother was denied disability insurance coverage for living expenses on these grounds, something distinct and different, involving different carriers. Obama represented his mother as a lawyer in this matter, so he cannot claim ignorance, and the
    White House has demurred on this point.) To turn the circumstances of your mother's passing into a political prop is rank and, one might think, unthinkable. Curtis

  13. He represented his mother so he cannot claim ignorance? That is your evidence of knowing falsehood and "very bad character"? How in focus are your memories of details of cases you handled 15 years ago? And don't say "Well it was his mother." It's exactly in such circumstances memory fails.

    Politicians rightly seize on things that affect them personally.

    In short, I see no reason to think the misrepresentaion was knowing. Then again, I am inclined to cut the man the same slack I would cut anyone, including a president of the opposite party.

    Comon, my statement that you cannot see into his soul desrves at lease a "Possibly."

  14. As Peter Bull says so memorably in Dr. Strangelove when citing US military build-up plans to President Merkin Muffley in Dr. Strangelove (who denies them): "My source was the New York Times." No, on this one it seems pretty clear that this was a misrepresentation, not a memory failure. I assume the man employs fact checkers as well as opposition researchers. My memory is not perfect on everything, but it's pretty good on this sort of thing and when I feel that it's very important to be accurate, I try to do the necessary research to make sure that I am. I would think this would rise to that level of importance. As for "seeing into someone's soul", that sort of remark is always hyperbole. One could and should simply refer to good character and bad character; acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. You shouldn't get so exercised about this. I'm entitled to my point of view, which I base on accumulated experience of the man in action (which in his case includes a whole lot of talking). When I worked at Deluxe, I spent quite a long time semi-enjoying early, solitary breakfasts at the Mundelein, IL Crowne Plaza hotel reading the Chicago and suburban newspapers. I began experiencing and learning about the man then and, for me, it's all been downhill since then. Ultimately, I originally registered as a Democrat in PA so that I could vote against him in the presidential primary there by voting for Mrs. Clinton, which I wasn't crazy about, but thought preferable. (I've since changed my party registration.) You shouldn't get so upset about this. I promise not to bring up Rev. Wright and all that. Curtis

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  17. Hi. I apologize for accidentally removing your comment. Blogger has changed various functions and in my fatigue (we're just back from an exhausting drive from Maine), I hit a button by mistake. I remember (for it was memorable) the "hypocrite bloggeur" comment and am unsure of its significance, but given my extreme sleepiness, it may hit my "perchance to dream" slumbers tonight. For what it's worth, I try never to be a hypocrite, but I suppose it's a possibility always considering "la conditione humaine" ( or something like that. Drove through the state of CT today from NE to SW and thought of you. It's the biggest state in my Union. Curtis

  18. Does that mean you lost my recipe for blueberry margueritas?

    Only meant hypocrisy in the Baudelarian sense. As in: Exercised? Upset? Moi?

    Speaking of hypocrisy: When one televangelist was caught with his pants down (I think the gay meth user, whose name I forget), some Episcopal bishop (another name down the drain, assuming it ever made it into the sink of my brain to begin with) was invited to trash him for his sins. She demurred. Pressed to at least condemn his hypocrisy, given his "pro-family" positions, she responded, "We are all hypocrites."

    A rare moment of civility in our public discourse.

  19. Yes I lost it. Please re-send. I just came back from Pete's Produce in Westtown with some great blueberries. Last week's Maine blueberries were wonderful. Curtis