Bienvenue, 2018!

        It seems appropriate, after more than a year’s hiatus, to begin again at the start of the year. I’ll say “Hello” to a new year “Good Friggin’ Riddance” to 2017, please let the door hit you on the ass on your way out! There’s no fancy Latin title to start this year – this time it’s French. Heh!

        “Why French?”, you may ask. Because I have also put South Carolina in my rear-view mirror and moved to Vermont! As such, I am currently hip-deep (not quite) in this year’s wintry high jinks. I haven’t seen this much snow since I was in Japan more than 35-years ago. It’s been good, though, and I have no complaints – much.


This is Mt Ascutney from my front yard

Ascutney Snow

Mt. Ascutney in the snow.

         I’ll get to the shortcomings and nonsense I see in the world eventually, it’s cathartic, you see, but for this installment of the Digression, I’ll touch on a few things here and there and, perhaps, address certain topics more completely at a later time. I suppose I’ll just lay into the belly of the beast and scatter the snowflakes of both left and right. Here it goes:


        After an election between two of the worst candidates imaginable, America elected a narcissistic idiot. All I can say is that we, both left and right, live in an age of government control; no, not the kind of government control you’re thinking about, but the kind of control that encourages people to think “we can elect any dumbass we want and it’ll be all right”. No matter how imbecilic Trump is or how flawed his policies are, someone in government will clean up his mess and kiss our boo-boos and make it all better. It just isn’t going to happen that way and you better get used to it. Actions have consequences and America fell for a snake oil salesman. Trump promised jobs he can’t get back. He’s promoted the worst people to his cabinet positions, likely by design. And he lies: about showing his tax returns (whether you think he should or not, he made that promise), about the shady characters in his staff, about voter fraud, about Obama’s citizenship, about state’s rights, and about the size of his inaugural crowd (as if that brag really meant anything at all); he lies about reality.

        I’m not going to pore over every stupid thing that Trump has said and done, but America, you elected this nincompoop, so you deserve the misery. You elected the supply-siders’ wet-dream candidate and every bad idea the Republican Party has ever had is now in danger of being passed because they have the numbers to ram it down everyone’s throat and a willing signatory in the White House. You’re not going to get jobs when there is no market (the only economic law that means anything is “supply-and-demand”) or when profits are at stake. You’re not going to get more affordable healthcare. You’re not going to be safer by building some ridiculous wall or treating immigration as would the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. There is a lot of frustration in America – and hate; Trump tapped into that and played his supporters like a fiddle. If you think there’s a Nero allusion there, it may be apt.

        Does anything about this strike anyone as strange that these guys, who are wealthy, who run multinational corporations whose concerns are only with the bottom line and their shareholders, who pay their executives obscene salaries, are saying that the tax system, under which they, themselves, became wealthy, is broken and needs to be fixed? I think “fixed” is the operative word here. Do statements like these that the Republicans continually trot out not smack of a con? I know you Trump supporters don’t like being called stupid but, as Bill Maher put so well, “you gotta meet me halfway and stop being so stupid.”

        The only silver lining I can see to this comes from Dave Chappelle’s latest Netflix special where he recounts the obscenity that was the Emmitt Till murder trial. Out of that injustice came civil rights legislation that was supported by people who demanded that this nation do better by all its citizens. Trump supporters probably think demanding this nation do better is exactly what they did, but they’d be wrong. What they did was give the affluent a tax break they don’t need or deserve, and this nation a leadership that does not respect science, facts, the Constitution, or the very electorate who voted for them. This nation has to do better than allow the self-interested greed of the wealthy and short-sightedness of those who oppose anything they deem smacks of liberalism or feminism to turn this country into just another failed empire that collapsed upon itself through its own inequity.


        I am an unapologetic grammar nazi, as most of you who have dared traipse through my screeds can attest. It strikes me as astounding that people cannot grasp writing skills in a medium of communication that depends on clear, coherent, and readable thoughts and opinions. If anything, this state of laziness in writing has been so omnipresent in internet forums that it is being passed over, to the delight, I’m sure, of the “you know what I mean” crowd. Lazy is lazy and “you know what I mean” doesn’t change that one bit. “Comments aren’t a term paper,” you say? Maybe not, but if you think your opinion is correct, why not be just as correct with the way to communicate it? I’m not obliged to decipher your sloppiness and nothing you scrawl in a comment forum is going to be a revelation anyway. At the very least, make an attempt to want to not appear like you slept through school! If you can’t differentiate between you’re and your, or to, two, and two, or there and their, etc., I will skip over whatever you’ve written because I’m just not going to waste my time when you clearly didn’t give a shit. By the way, “etc” is the proper abbreviation – contrary to the way I’ve seen it written too many times – because it stands for “et cetera” not “ectcetera”! For those who don’t believe me, look it up in a dictionary (I’m certain that experience will be a new one for many of you!).

        But even more irritating is that the constant bombardment of buzzwords and stupid phrases through the media, social and otherwise, is affecting how people speak and write and how obvious it becomes that they aren’t even thinking about what they’re saying. Listen to any show on television with someone who’s trying to be up-beat or “positive” and you will invariably hear them use the word “super” as a hyperbolic modifier: “super-excited”, “super-trendy”, “super-jazzed” (I nearly threw up in my mouth with that last one), and on and on. Is it not enough to simply be “excited”? Why does it have to be SUPER-excited? Are the people in charge of these shows marketing to pre-adolescent girls who draw circles over their lower-case i’s instead of dots? Or maybe they think the collective intellect of the viewing audience is merely that of little girls? You can tell the people speaking haven’t put one second of thought into what flows out of their mouths; they have to maintain a “positive” image because so many of these shows or the topics they cover are just so much fluff. Thanks, 24-7 programming! I definitely have more gripes on this subject matter for future articles.


        This last part is about how the “troll mentality” that pervades every aspect of our lives now is ruining every aspect of our lives. The overarching lesson to be learned about the internet is that when people don’t want to admit they are mistaken, misinformed, or just backed the wrong side, in many instances, they will shut down any attempt to burst the little bubble in which their misconceptions live. I blame a lot of this on the “ratings and sensationalism is more important than truth” model, but a lot of it points back to simple laziness – again!

         If you’re locking into Fox News or MSNBC or NPR or Rush Limbaugh or Alex Jones and not seeking to find information elsewhere to figure out if these guys aren’t just feeding you a line of bullshit, then you shouldn’t be surprised when you get dismissed. Just because someone has a “source” doesn’t mean that source is credible. The old standard in the newspaper business was to have three sources for a story. In this day and age of instant gratification and “breaking news”, that’s a hard standard to meet, but damn it, that’s the standard that needs to be met! Everybody in media today is so concerned about being “first” that speed to print or upload is primary and mistakes will be fixed later. That’s a great recipe for getting a reputation for being sloppy with the facts. The adage “speed kills” applies to reporting just as well as it does with idiot drivers. You go too fast and all you’ll do is drive right into a wall or over a cliff. A slower, more deliberate pace allows time for consideration and avoiding mistakes. Cooling off before responding? Proofreading? A dictionary? “Hot takes” are usually worthless, chatty opinions that serve as nothing more than programming filler. Reduce your fat intake; start with the garbage you feed your brain.

And Finally:

        I realize a lot a what I scribble is ranting or complaining about something, but there are a lot of things in this world that are beautiful and worthwhile and I don’t want to see them go away. What I complain about largely are the things I see us doing to ourselves for no reason or selfish reasons. We have developed into a society that pays lip-service to a lot of ills and balks at the notion of getting our own hands dirty. Instead of the wrong-headed griping about Colin Kaepernick kneeling for the national anthem, we get off our asses and actually address the problem of the way police do their jobs (because stop-and-frisk is fine so long as it’s happening to someone else, right?). Instead of translating female “empowerment” into unrealistic action movies and TV shows (I’m looking at you, The 100), we acknowledge that there are places where we all are rightfully and sensibly equal and places where creating a false narrative to supplant reality is… chaos. Just because you want something a certain way doesn’t mean it can be – or should be –  that way! As Joe Rogan once said about female MMA fighters to a guest, “They’ll fuck you up!”, which is fine if you aren’t trained to fight. But you pit a female fighter against a male fighter and reality will prevail. So things go in all areas in life. Some people, undoubtably, will say I’m being negative, but I say, if you want to call reality “negative”, why do you want to go through life with your mind so screwed up? “No limits” is just marketing fodder for those folks who have to have a buzzword to get off their asses. I don’t respect that kind of mentality, I pity it.

        More than anything, as I traverse the melange of the superficial that is the internet, I will occasionally see the phrase, “get off my lawn” as a response to something that comes off as complaining about the younger generation. It seems to me that complaining about millennials is sport for all generations, not just the older folks. But, really, the “get off my lawn” response is just more trolling from people who either aren’t serious or don’t want their opinions challenged. Just because a person is old (or older) doesn’t mean they don’t have a good thought or opinion – so long as they can back it up! A lack of willingness to listen to an opposing view is what I’ve been talking about in this article. Don’t dismiss things out-of-hand unless you know the FACTS! Believing is not knowing. Faith is not knowing. Only seeking facts until other possibilities are eliminated is knowing. This is how logic works, how science works, and how our government should work. So what’s wrong with this picture?


Till We Meet Again

When I was younger, I called my mother “Momma”; I think all of us kids did at one time. 

Sandra Kay Tucker August 28, 1939 - October 26, 2016

Sandra Kay Tucker
August 28, 1939 – October 26, 2016

She was a compassionate person, a caring person, an encouraging person. As I grew up and explored my interests in writing and art and music, there wasn’t a story or poem she didn’t praise, a picture she didn’t appreciate, or a tune I played on my guitar that she didn’t enjoy – even if, in hindsight, it wasn’t that good.  She always had a good word for me.  She laughed at my jokes and told me how clever I was.  That doesn’t mean she was always pleased with my “cleverness”.

She helped make things possible and made tough choices for us, while, later, allowing me my own choices for she gave me the knowledge that my life’s choices were mine to make.  In contrast to that side of me that valued logic and seriousness, she was the part that said, “take a chance”.  She celebrated my successes and consoled me in my failures.  But in her eyes, there were no failures, my siblings and I were her children and she was proud of us all.  We are her legacy.

She was a dreamer, an indomitable spirit, a singer with a powerful voice, yet even among us children, we knew her in different ways, but that is how life works sometimes.  She had her own choices to make, as well.  To me, she was simply Momma, and without her guidance and understanding and patience…and love, I wouldn’t be who I am today.  She was what a mother should be and I could have asked for nothing more than the blessing she was.

A few days after I spoke these words – or a facsimile thereof – at her memorial, a poem came to me.  She was always fond of showing me the various shells she had collected when she went to the ocean.  I hope she would put this in her collection:


I found a shell today
as I walked the beach
by the sea.
It glittered in the sand
as if to be seen
and I thought of you.

It had whirling patterns
etched in translucent white.
And it seemed to fold
into itself somehow
and I thought of you.

And I held it to the sun
and looked at how it was made;
and it seemed a mystery to me
alone, where it was laid.

And the salty water splashed
over the beach
by the sea.
And the places I had walked
were washed away
And I thought of you.

©2016 James Montgomery

Vikings Fan Here… Yep, I’ve Seen It Before

I guess I have to write something about the Vikings after all that’s gone on this week.  Even before Teddy Bridgewater had his freak accident (what else do you call a non-contact dislocation of the knee and a completely torn ACL?), sports pundits were either complaining about Teddy’s arm-strength or saying he needed to step up to “take it to the next level”.  Those who use that mindless phrase need to be put in a pit with the others who say “giving 110%” and be set on fire.  Just ignorant, empty phraseology which belongs in my JockSpeak™ listing.  Let me say this about sports pundits and sports writers, in general: I respect Joe Posnanski because he writes well-researched and thoughtful

Yes, I have a Huddles Vikings doll…

Yes, I have a Huddles Vikings doll…

stories; the others are seldom worth the time to read and certainly no smarter than any meathead at your local sports bar.  In fact, your local meathead probably gets his defective sports thoughts from the national punditry or *gasp* ESPN.  I’m not even going to dissemble on the Twitter-rific train wreck that is

Getting back to the Vikings, I go back to the Purple People Eater days and remember those years between Joe Kapp and the return of Fran Tarkenton.  In 1970, the Vikings went 12-2, just as they did in the Super Bowl IV season, the year before, and they went 11-3 the year after, in 1971.  Their quarterback? the committee of none other than the inimitable Gary Cuozzo and Bob Lee, with Norm Snead jumping in later.  They made the playoffs both years and ran into some bad luck against the Cowboys and 49ers, respectively.  The point is this: neither Vikings team had what anyone would call a bonafide starting quarterback and they certainly did not have a dominant running game in an age where run-first was de rigueur for the NFL – especially at the Met.  What the Vikings had was a dominant defense (just like now) and a great coach in the person of Bud Grant (now they have Mike Zimmer).  The Vikings are going to be just fine with Shaun Hill.  He is a competent quarterback who can run the offense – with Adrian Peterson! – and make smart decisions.  Bridgewater is the future of the franchise, Hill is the quarterback for times such as these.  The entire Vikings team has to win, not just the quarterback, and I hope they do, just to shut up some of these idiot pundits.

*Of course, the Vikings do it to me again and, while I’m writing, they go out and deal for Sam Bradford.  It’s not a bad trade, but for a first round, in 2017, and fourth round, in 2018, with the potential to move up, I would have liked to have seen a player who is significantly better than Hill.  Yet, this still doesn’t change my feelings on the potential for the Vikings this year; you still have to play the games!

It Rained in South Carolina

For those of you who might give a crap – and I know most of you don’t, it rained here today.  Now most of you conscious folk who happen to live in the area will know that.  So why am I wasting your time with this?  Well, I’ll tell you.

You see, I checked the weather on the internet this morning, not two hours before it rained, and you want to know what the chance of rain was?  You want to know?


The chance of me running out to my truck and getting soaked from the monsoon-like torrent that was coming down on top of my head was ZERO!  The chance of me having to roll that truck’s window up to keep the rain from soaking the driver’s seat was ZERO!


That’s what the weather service provided me.  That was the information that they bestowed upon my naïve trusting ass because they are the weather guys.  They know what they’re talking about, right?  It’s science, right?  And I’m all about giving people the benefit of the doubt except this isn’t the first time they’ve done this.  I guess it’s just not an exact science.  I mean what exactly are they doing that they can go from zero percent chance of rain to the sky opening up and drenching me?

And I checked the radar!  Nothing!  There wasn’t a cloud in the sky according to them.  I played it back to put that weather-in-motion thing that everybody has now and NOTHING!  It’s like nothing ever happened.  There was no rain, no clouds, NOTHING!  I guess all that getting wet while running around in the rain business was just my imagination, huh?  And I guarantee there was some ditz chirping about the great hot day on the Grand Strand while I’m taking a bath with my clothes on!  Do we really need the weather people telling us what’s going on with their green screen and their Doppler radar and stupid hand gestures and walking back and forth across the tv screen.  You can’t have a tornado everyday!

So how did they come up with this train wreck of a forecast?  I think they’re just making it up, playing Wheel of Fortune on this big wheel they’ve got in their secret weather bunker except instead of dollars, they’ve got weather forecasts, you know, temperatures and chances of something happening.  And then they give the big wheel a spin!  Hey, it’s going to be 99° and NO CHANCE OF RAIN!  And if they screw it up, they give you some kind of B.S. about “accuracy in our weather forecasts is important to us because it’s important to you.”  You know, no apology for ruining your upholstery or your new hairdo, just a bunch of B.S.  And we take it!

I mean, what if every job gave you the kind of leeway the weather people get?  I mean what if the garbage man didn’t pick up your garbage but he’ll “get it next time”?  Or if NASA loses a manned space flight: “I guess Mars wasn’t where we thought it would be – sorry!”  Or how about some nuclear missile technician?  “Geez, I was just turning this key and the thing went off like a rocket!  Did I just start World War III?”  Yes! Yes, you did!

I mean, yeah, everybody makes mistakes or has a bad day, but geez, these weather people have screwing up down to a fine art.  You just imagine, if a casino owner ran his casino the way these weather people forecast the weather, you’d have Donald Trump…

Her-r-r-r-e’s Negan!

Ann Ghoulter - Super-Sized

No, this is not Negan!

Well, season 6 of The Walking Dead played last night and things went about as I expected. That’s right, I said things went about as I expected as far as the cliffhanger goes – and the infantile bitching that went on afterwards on the internet. I read the comic, so I’ve known for a long time what happens and who dies, not that it will play out the same way on the TV show. But, because I feel like it needs to be said, GLENN dies in the comic!! Negan takes Lucille and gives ol’ Glenn the Irreversible fire extinguisher treatment. (Watch the movie if you don’t know what I mean. There are scenes in it that will burn in your memory). There! Deal with it!

And because I think the whiners need some conspiracy theory about who dies in the TV version, how about Norman Reedus, since he’s getting his own Guy Fieri-type show a la Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives that will involve motorcycle culture. Could that be a bone AMC threw at him for killing him off? Before any noses get out of joint over this, no, I don’t believe that either, nor do I care about anything to do with people who ride Harleys and wish they were Sam Elliot. “The Dude abides.”

But, seriously, I have never seen such a bunch of whiny, self-entitled, bitches as I saw last night complaining about how Robert Kirkman and Scott Gimple ended the season. If you think The Walking Dead is boring, you either have never read the comic and don’t understand the pacing of the story, will accept nothing less than instant gratification (fuck storytelling!), or have ADHD. Whatever the case, you need to watch something else and STFU.

And for those who think a cliffhanger ending was some kind of “gimmick”, oh, so sorry you weren’t good enough or brave enough or ambitious enough to get your own spot at the writer’s table. Whining is so much easier, right? And it takes much less talent (practically non-existent!). There is no way the fanboys were going to be pleased, no matter how the season ended: it was either end the show as it was last night and listen to the bitching or show who got killed and listen to the bitching. So what did Kirkman and Gimple do? Whatever they wanted to move the story along as they saw fit. After all, Robert Kirkman CREATED the comic, so he’s entitled to do that.

A word of advice to those who still need the diaper change: it’s a good show – one of the best shows on television right now – and the comic leads where the show goes. Enjoy it and be grateful that you have it.

A Novus Incipit Annus

Unlike those who refuse to hold the Bush Administration accountable for their many sins and transgressions, I recognize that nothing exists in a bubble; every circumstance we deal with today was affected by previous events in some way.  For whatever failings Obama may possess, he hardly came into his presidency with a clean slate – no one ever does.  A new year does not eliminate the previous year, there is only the changing of numbers.  There are celebrations of hope for the new year and my hope is that we finally get serious about what we, as a nation, are doing.

I had the mixed pleasure of travelling back to my home of origin and spending a few days with my father and stepmother during Christmas vacation.  My father was a biology professor, long retired now, and the opportunities to see him in relatively good health are naturally coming to a close.  We invariably talk politics, he an old George Wallace-democrat, now Republican; I, a left-leaning don’t-bullshit-me anti-Republican.  Our conversations are ofttimes civil, but they can get heated.  What I didn’t expect, on this Christmas holiday, was to be yelling at my father because of obvious Republican chicanery.  Our topic was one I covered over three years ago.  Here’s how it went down:

My father, stepmother, and I were discussing varying aspects of Washington politics and I tried to not let some of the ignorance light a fuse in me because I understand from where that ignorance comes.  My father was born in Mississippi in 1927.  He is Old South.  He thinks derogatory jokes about black people are funny – because they are derogatory, not because they are funny.  My father is rarely funny.  For all his education, my father is a bigot and it serves no purpose to deny  that.  That’s not to say he is a sheet-wearing, cross-burning yahoo, but the racism is there.  He recognizes achievement and little else.  He is not against people of lower economic situations getting opportunities, but he is against affirmative action.  His answer to reconcile this would likely be “work harder”.  Sometimes that works, sometimes not.  I believe the reason for affirmative action to exist at all is that too often working “harder” was not working.  Perhaps you have a clearer picture of him now.

After I had explained my position on the uselessness of term limits in a party-politics system and that the reason the presidential term is limited is because of FDR’s ability to appoint eight of the nine Supreme Court justices before his death, my stepmother went off to do something else.  My father now had his opportunity to set me straight about Obama.  I don’t know why he has an affinity to world almanacs, but he dug one up and turned to the entry for Obama.  He sat on a footrest in front of me and showed me the book and I saw that many things had been underlined.  I heard the quick intake of air and the stern timbre in my father’s voice as he muttered in low tones, “First, he was not born in this country…”

“What!?” I cried.  I was incredulous.  The fuse was lit, but I tried to delay the detonation by calmly replying, “The State of Hawaii would disagree with you.”  I smirked and turned my attention back to the almanac.

My father was halted and sputtered, “He hasn’t proven he was born there.”

“You’re welcome to your opinion, but the State of Hawaii would disagree with you.”

“Well, then, they’re liars!”  This was usual for him when arguing from weakness or simply to hear the sound of his own voice.  But my fuse was short and detonation was imminent. I had had enough of this crap.

“Well, you just go ahead and toss out the facts you don’t like and make up your own and you can live in that little reality – but that’s insane!”  He fell to an uncertain silence, perhaps shocked that I may have been accusing him of being insane.

I stood up.  “I didn’t vote for Obama and don’t particularly like what he’s done, but I’m tired of this nonsense.  Is this about that PDF file of his certificate that people were saying was faked?”  I looked down on him with a nasty jut in my jaw.  “Because if it is, that is BULLSHIT!”

My father’s expression was blank and the fire he had been summoning in his rant was extinguished in meekness.  “I don’t know.”  Not exactly the answer I was expecting.

I began pacing and my father returned to his seat across the room.  “I am tired of reading about this and watching people on television prattle on about this because what they are saying is BULLSHIT!  Is this about that Orly Taitz garbage?”

“I don’t know know who that is.”

“She’s one of ‘em.  Fox News will trot these people out all day long and they are liars and they have agendas!”  Fox News, surprise!, is watched with interest in that household because, as my stepmother says, “They respect the troops.”  Of course they do.

“Who signed his birth certificate?” My father continued.

“I don’t know,” I groaned, “I don’t have the thing with me.”

“I haven’t seen it.”  This may have been my father’s way of trying to turn the conversation back to a “conversation”, but the topic was too far gone and way too stupid by now.

“Well, I have a copy of it and I know more about how that file works than any of those clowns!  And Donald Trump said he had guys over there and he was going to show evidence.  Well, he never did!  You know, why?  Because it was bullshit!  There was nothing to show!”

I couldn’t let it go without one more point to make:  “These are the same people who accuse Obama of being a Muslim without acknowledging that a Muslim can be president.”

“I know they can be,” was his subdued reply.

My father really had little else to say for the rest of the night.  Whatever other tripe had been force-fed into his brain by the Fox propaganda machine would be internalized until it was safe to spew again, out of my presence.  I am under no illusions that I can change his mind, but he raised us to educate ourselves about things and that is what bothers me the most about this conversation.  My father is a man of science, an educator and PHd, and he allows his own bigotry to take for truth the lies that are part of the Obama smear campaign.  He demanded no proof, no evidence, and didn’t even think to research the topic for himself to be better informed.  I am seriously disappointed in him.  Above all, I trusted he valued knowledge over all else.  He failed that trust on a Christmas holiday.

Accepting the System

I’ve played plenty of online games (as have most people who have computers).  I find it strange that we play games that offer different levels of “difficulty” and we don’t think twice about it.  Solitaire is the game that got me thinking about this.  Solitaire is Solitaire – 52 cards, win by stacking in numerical order by suit, everybody knows the game.  So how, exactly, does a computer game add difficulty levels to such a simple game?  Whether you play with a 3-card draw or a one-card draw, it’s 52 cards.  The answer is that the computer program alters the probability numbers – in other words, the games are rigged – and we seem just fine with that.  There is no such thing as a more difficult game of Solitaire than another without an overt change in the rules.  But that’s not what’s happening here; this is a deliberate alteration to make a game unfair and call that “difficult”.

This is what we’ve come to accept in today’s world as the norm.  How many of us actually understand what goes on in the computer world where we can say that our online transactions are safe?  More and more, we put our financial lives and our personal privacy at stake through online activity and we trust nameless and faceless entities to protect us, never knowing that they may be the first link in a long line of betrayal – and we wouldn’t know the difference.   It’s not so unlike the games: we don’t know what we don’t know and we don’t seem to want to be bothered with demanding better.  Have we become so collectively incurious that positing the questions concerning corruption or legal parlor tricks is asking more of ourselves than will ever happen?  After Assange and Snowden how do we know that anything has really changed… because somebody said it did?

How many other systems do we take for granted and just accept?  How many are rigged against us?  Is it too late to fix it?