pandora’s box

If I were ever to receive the ability to foretell the future, on the condition that each time I use it I shall lose an entire day of my life, I might just as well take advantage of  it. Of course considering how intense the consequences of my actions would be I should only be willing to employ it under absolutely the direst of all possible circumstances. Since no one can possibly foretell the day of his death anyway, I should take quite a casual attitude toward that provision of the deal. Exactly how could such a thing possibly be put into practice? It would be understandable if I could say with certitude that I’m going to die on some certain specific day. Then I could simply subtract a day from that and be ready for it.  Who could possibly be in charge of calculating such an obscure thing?  First and foremost I should have to predict the day of my death.  Would that be possible? If that’s not one of the things I could foresee then the rest is just irrelevant. Of course there’s also the question of the moral ramifications of such a thing.  Wouldn’t that be cheating? The future is hidden from mankind for a very good reason. Why should I try to tamper with it? All sorts of questions of the true nature of freedom would come into play. Unlike the liberal totalitarians I should very much let reality take its course. Every time someone opens Pandora’s box it leads to nothing but extremely big trouble with irrevocable consequences.


i’ll be johnny on paulie’s birthday

If I were ever able to be someone famous for a day, I should like to be Beatle John Lennon.   That’s assuming it would be permissible to be someone who’s now deceased.    Of course, I’ve always been quite insatiably and obsessively impressed with all the Beatles anyway so it’s somewhat difficult to narrow it down.john-lennon-self-portrait-443253  Since it’s all but a mere fantasy anyway-perhaps in Lennon’s case we could even refer to it as a Double Fantasy?-I should like to see what it was like to have been in his Cuban heels during the Beatle era.   That’s always been my favorite time.    As much as I’ve always enjoyed his solo years, including the recordings he made with Yoko Ono, the Plastic Ono Band and Elephant’s Memory, there’s something about Beatle John that absolutely can’t possibly be matched.   It’s kind of weird, though, because I’ve always so bitterly despised exactly all the very things with which the mighty Swain of Liverpool had always found so impressive.      All that left wing political ideological crap and Hare Krishna  simply isn’t for me of course.    I’m just guessing but there’s a pretty good chance that neither Cynthia nor Yoko is exactly my kind of woman either.   There have always been so many things about the Beatle-era Beatles, though, that have impressed me ever since as far back as I can remember.     I can only assume that it would be worth all the terribly nasty inconveniences to be able to follow it all from a specifically first-hand point of view for a day.   I’ve always been quite interested in all the other people, things and circumstances from that era too.   If, for a day, I could pass for the Walrus, I could have quite an inside scoop.    I could find out exactly how all those exceptionally interesting ideas entered into his head, and I could be steeped in all the things that were happening during the Viet Nam era.   I should really enjoy being able to count on seeing things from the point of view of Lennon’s imagination, intelligence, sense of humor and with.   Besides that, I’d get to spend so much time associating with the other Beatles, finding out exactly what they were like too.   It’s a good thing it would have to end very soon.    Things of that nature have a built-in tendency to lead to extremely big trouble if allowed to go on too long.


my obsession

For as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been compulsively articulate.   As a kid in Queens and Suffolk County I was inevitably the undisputed spelling champion of both counties.    My parents were both from northeastern Pennsylvania, and I was raised in New York, having lived here since I was around three and a half years old, so my very earliest memories are of their having been such a drastic distinction between the two accents, and of all the colloquial words and phrases that distinguish them from each other.   Things weren’t so defiantly obvious in Lindenhurst but all throughout the time I lived in Jackson  Heights I was overwhelmed by accents from Brooklyn, the Bronx and other parts of New York City.   Besides that, a third of the people in my neighborhood were Italians who only spoke Italian, and Hispanics who only spoke Spanish.   Having always been inordinately smitten with all the distinctive twists and turns that exist in language anyway, somewhere over the course of my very young days I embarked on what would become a lifelong determination to be exceptionally articulate.    I’ve always been the Felix Unger of the spoken and written word, what many would refer to as a grammar Nazi.    In the eleventh grade at St. John the Baptist Diocesan High School in West Islip, I did an oral report   about the Beatles one day in my English class.   My teacher, Sister  Mary Hostetter, O.P., reminded me of my mistakenly having said that something happened between, instead of among, the four of them.    To this very day I still cringe when I think of it.    I’ve always been quite a compulsive bookworm too so that helps me keep up my familiarity with language, and it also helps drastically to improve my vocabulary.    By now everyone knows quite well that nothing nauseates my like liberalism.   One of the many reasons for my contempt of the entire concept is the fact that its proponents presume to take for granted some supposed right to take charge of how our language is to be spoken.    Language is supposed only to be used as a vehicle for the transmission of the truth and not as a means of manipulating people’s perception of things and ideas.    Supplanting nouns with adjectives  (as in “male” and “female” instead of “man” and “woman”), and replacing certain words with others that are entirely irrelevant to them ( rejecting “problems”, “handicaps” and “arguments” in favor of “issues” and “challenges”) only serves to distort people’s perception of things.    They claim that groups such as blacks, Hispanics and Indians supposedly have a right to be referred to as African, Latin and Native Americans, although no such right can possibly exist.   A right, by definition, is something that is unavoidably necessary for the sake of survival either as an individual or a member of a group.    timthumb    Language, in its legitimate form, has all kinds of exceptionally interesting properties.    Imagery and influence can come from anywhere including the mechanical world, the sciences, religion and politics.     People’s names can even become words.   Examples of these range from Spoonerism to Machiavellian.    Pop cultural references also find their way into people’s speech patterns.  The first appearance of the word “Nerd” was in Dr. Seuss’
“If I Ran the Zoo”, as the name of a character in 1950.   It was then brought back into prominence by the television show, “Happy Days”, in the 1970’s, as a synonym for “square”.  Over the course of the past several years it has gotten a lot of mileage as someone who is exceptionally good at math and the hard sciences.    Language is an exceptionally important and interesting concept and it’s unavoidably necessary to apply conscientiously all the rules that are required to speak and to write it well.   Similarly to music or any other field of endeavor,  there must be a legitimate balance between creativity and strict discipline.     For me it’s always been so exceptionally enjoyable and interesting, as well as quite a major priority.    I realize that it’s also yet another  part of my life in which I tend to qualify as quite the neurotic but that’s not necessarily such a bad thing.    It keeps me from becoming stale and ordinary.

you wanna save humanity but it’s people that you just can’t stand

I realize that I tend to grate on people’s nerves with perhaps entirely too much complaining about liberalism but I honestly think it’s the source of all of mankind’s troubles precisely because its roots are all inlucy-blockhead phony pride.    I once knew a monsignor, in the Scranton Diocese, who frequently said that after his having been to several meetings for people who were afflicted with compulsions or addictions, he could never help noticing that everyone looked down his nose at other people for their problems.   The alcoholics bragged that at least they weren’t on drugs, the violent people expected to be congratulated because they weren’t compulsive shoppers.     Each of us has an innate tendency to assume that someone else’s vices are worse than his.    At his very worst, when phony pride is really out of control,  each of us tends to fancy himself as  a toppler of the supposed high and mighty.   Exactly when was the last time anyone managed to get through an entire day without an entirely bottomless pit of references to someone’s supposed hypocrisy.    Proponents of leftist ideology always claim to be supposedly trying to make the world a better place.    One thing I’ve noticed about anyone who claims to be acting in everyone’s supposed best interest, whether he strives for the perfect family, workplace or any other aberration of the common good, is that someone like that always ends up objectifying specific individuals, and treating each person as if he’s nothing more than a mere means to a desired ultimate end.   It’s like when Father Zosima, in Dostoyevsky’s  “The Brothers Karamazov”, admitted that the more dearly he loved mankind in general, the more disgusted he was at his neighbor’s each and every flaw.    Anytime someone claims to be striving for some supposed Great Society, instead of trying to be a better individual, he always does it by way of deciding upon how much others must change.   Besides that, he invariably considers himself about the rules and immune to all negative criticism.    That’s why I don’t like to get entirely too enthused about a collective identity.    If someone wants to be good to his family, people at work, or any other group, that’s entirely commendable.    Western culture has always placed a great emphasis on the common good.   The problem, though, is that so many of us, under those circumstances, tend to strive for the greatest good for the greatest number of people, and for a reputation for being good, rather than the reality of goodness.     It’s precisely that mentality that leads to an enjoyment of someone else’s being exposed as a hypocrite.   Scandal always comes from phony pride.    Since the third chapter of the book of Genesis, each of us has always been forced to fight a never ending battle against the need to expose the real and imagined flaws of others while simultaneously demanding the right to a good reputation.   Each of us should wise up and try to change himself instead of pretending to make the world a better place.

ah shaddap you face

If there’s one thing I absolutely can’t stand, and quite bitterly resent, it’s any unwelcome unnecessary noise.   I can’t stand any kind of noise in general anyway but at least I’ve been able to resign myself to the kind that’s unavoidably necessary by definition.    It wouldn’t be realistic for someone to hang around an airport or construction site and to cuss people out for being too loud.    Over the course of my lifetime I’ve always had quite a razor’s edge relationship with sound.   This is also true in my dealings with language, the written and spoken word.    Nothing impresses me anywhere near as much as well written and well performed music, or when someone writes or speaks articulately.   When,however, I have to be subjected to something that’s poorly written or spoken, played or  sung, it gets me crazy.  kramd

For as long as I can remember I’ve always been compulsively articulate and very conservative.   Whenever I either hear, or read, something that’s either inarticulate or of a left wing ideological slant it makes me cringe.   Language should be used solely as a vehicle for the conveyance of the truth and not as a means of promulgating an ideological agenda.   Besides that I’ve always been quite prone toward getting all my tenses, cases and other linguistic proprieties entirely in order.   Everyone knows about my notoriously hypersensitive nerves.   For approximately the past two decades we’ve been bombarded with cell phones.   Ever since I was a kid I’ve never been able to stand the telephone anyway.  I not only don’t like the sound of its ring, or having to talk on it.   I can’t even stand to be in the company of someone who’s talking on the phone.    Now that each and every single one of us has a phone in his possession at all times it’s quite a major chore for me to attempt to accept it.   I’ve never been able to understand why cell phones are considered acceptable in churches and libraries.   In the old days, churches and libraries were considered places where peace and quiet was mandatory.   Now phones are allowed.   A couple of months ago, Mary Anne, Steve and I went to see “Madama Butterfly” at Lincoln Center.   I couldn’t help noticing that when the people who are in charge there say cell phones aren’t allowed they really mean it, and patrons respect that fact.   In churches and libraries, though, the people in charge claim that cell phones aren’t allowed but they don’t bother to enforce it and everyone leaves his phone on, thereby subjecting the rest of us to endless unwelcome noise.     Throughout my life I’ve always been subjected to people with very loud voices, as well as bad music and flagrant misuse of language.  I can still remember, from when I worked at Citicorp Retail Services in the late 1980’s and 1990’s, a representative example of the unbearable impact that noise can have on me.   When I was working in the Sales Processing department with Sal, Carole and Yolanda, Miz Kitti, Doreen and Kimbley, there was a department within earshot of ours where the employees were unbearably loud and unruly.   They literally yelled, and even laughed hysterically for no reason, all day long.   It was quite an unbearably torturous experience for me.    Unfortunately it turned me into a nasty, anti social little creep.    I got very bitterly angry and resentful.     There appears to be something about unwelcome noise, and a poor command of language, which I truly find entirely unbearable.  I’ve always really liked to consider myself quite good natured, a jolly good fellow.   When I have to deal with noise, or with someone who’s inarticulate, though, I truly am subjected to quite a torture treatment.    My ability to accept it and to maintain my cheerful side takes quite a beating.   I’ve tried all sorts of ways to maintain my cool but it’s quite a frustrating  problem.    By now I’ve gotten to the point where I’ve learned to accept the simple facts that it’s a loud inarticulate world, and that all I can do is to try, as politely and as firmly as possible, to convince people to be a lot more respectful of others, both by being a lot quieter and by speaking and writing a lot more articulately.


old man look at me now

 I’m fifty four years old.   The older I get the more I’m required to associate with very old people.   When I was still actively involved with Our Lady of Perpetual Help’s Knights of Columbus council 794, in Lindenhurst, I was constantly surrounded by a significant number of couples who were well into their seventies and eighties.    My oldest living relative, Uncle Frankie, will be ninety years old in August.   He was married to my mother’s older sister, Aunt Mary Theresa.    My parents both died last autumn when they were eighty.       I’ve learned from having to associate with them all that old age brings with it a combination of extreme good and extreme bad.     Old people can be quite a source of story telling, humor, wit and insight into bygone eras.   Because of  all the physical, financial, emotional and other problems that come with the passage of time, though, they can also be very hard to handle.   Their habits, because of the passage of time, are so irrevocably entrenched into their lives that they can’t get rid of them.     I’ve never liked the Willard Scott mentality, that refers to the very old as a hundred (or whatever) years young, as if to refer to someone as old is somehow an insult.   This does a major disservice to both the young and the old as it renders the concepts meaningless.    Language must never be exploited as an ideological tool.   It must be used only at the service of the truth.    To the degree that a culture has been infected by liberalism it inevitably respects neither the old nor the very young, the ill nor the handicapped.    I agree with what I recently read in Communio, the International Catholic Review,  that the left’s ideas, influenced by John Locke, want a world populated only by young, healthy, autonomous, self-sufficient adults.    They want a world where the only people who really count are the kind who are the equivalent of Adam before Eve showed up.   In order to be worthwhile, each individual must be entirely self-sufficient.     Our culture now puts children into school as soon as possible in order that the state can have as early and as thorough a control over them as possible.    Hillary Rodham Clinton’s claim that “It takes a village to raise a child”  is lethal to healthy family life.   The old and otherwise incapacitated, thanks to the mentality espoused in Obamacare, are subjected to treatment based on what’s cost-effective rather than on the absolute  dignity that inheres in each specific individual simply because he’s a human being.   We  desperately need more people like the little sisters of the poor, at Queen of Peace Residence in Queens Village, New York, and  the Carmelite Sisters for the Aged and Infirm, at the Little Flower Manor in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania.   I’ve never liked the idea of being young at heart, as young as you feel or any other such cliche’.     That type of language reinforces the ideas, espoused by the left, that only the young are worthwhile.   I like the idea that each age range has a share of beauty, truth and goodness that are intrinsically proper to it.    I can also understand, though, that it seems so odd, and gets odder with passing time, that I’m as old as I am now.  Whenever I see my sixteen year old niece, a high school junior , or my two nephews in their twenties, I have all sorts of flashbacks to when I was that young.    It seems as if it were only yesterday.   Minutes go by too slowly and decades go by too fast.    I should really like to think that by the time I am old enough to qualify as undeniably old I shall have more of the quick-witted story-telling throwback in me than the self-pitying creep who lets his aches, pains and regrets mess up what’s left of his life.   Maybe I shall be like Arte Johnson’s Tyrone F. Horneigh character from “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-in”, who’d always hit so hysterically on Ruth Buzzi’s Gladys Ormphby.     I’ve always been quite a walking anachronism anyway.   By now I know quite well that hep Larry always seems to have ideas that are much better than what real Larry puts into practice though.   I should imagine that people will find me quite seriously ornery and cantankerous.     They will be expected to put up with even more references to how my current surroundings stack up against Jackson Heights and Lindenhurst, and what the current administration is like  compared to those of Gerald R. Ford and Jimmy Carter.    Pain and death are as scary for me as for anyone.   Eventually I shall have to succumb to them.     That will be the hardest thing for me.

my name is larry      My full name is Lawrence.    I was named after my mother’s father, who died a few weeks before I was born.   Most people have always called me Larry, with the exception of several teachers of mine and a few other authority figures and people whom I’ve been expected to deal with under exceptionally significant official  circumstances, who call me Lawrence.    My last name is a fairly large Italian name and everyone always has such a hard time when he tries to learn how to pronounce it or to spell it.    Although I don’t have a middle name my confirmation name is Joseph.    Over the course of my lifetime I’ve been known by several nicknames.    Because I grew up having to associate with an Uncle Larry Senior and  a cousin Larry Junior, both older than I, we had always been big Larry, little Larry and Baby Larry.   After a while I got sick and tired of being known by such a childish name.    When I was a kid, my Uncle Frankie had often called me Sam Spade, after Humphrey Bogart’s character in “The Maltese Falcon”.    When we bowled together with the Knights of Columbus, my cousins got into the habit of calling me B.L.T. and it’s stuck with me ever since then.   I first met Kitti when we were working together at Citicorp Retail Services.   Very soon after we first met she started calling me Larrabee, after Robert Karvelas’ character on the 1960′ television show “Get Smart”, so I started calling her Miz Kitti, after Amanda Blake’s character on the 1950’s and 1960’s show  “Gunsmoke”.    We still call each other those names on e mail messages.   Unfortunately I haven’t been active in my current Knights of Columbus council, Assumpta 3987, in Luzerne, Pennsylvania, but when I was really active in my first council, O.L.P.H. 794, in Lindenhurst, New York, there were very many people there who could never remember my name.   I ended up getting into the habit of answering to Joe, Tom, Frank, Bobby and several others over the course of the time I was there.    Although they have a humorous colorful side names can be very important too since they deal with ontological concerns and give people a kind and degree of power over others.   Because I’ve always been involved with the culture war, as a staunch conservative, I’ve always been determined to point out to people how dangerous it is to get into the habit of letting liberals determine for us how we must refer to people, things, and circumstances in general.   Names must never be used, from an ideological point of view, as a means of control.    He who controls someone’s identity controls his life.