Digressions of a Dilettante

Digressions of a Dilettante
Vignettes of Inanity by Bud Hearn

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Interval Between

It’s the week after Christmas, or ‘holiday’ if you’re part of the alchemist crowd that mixed Jesus with Visa and got Santa. Hopefully you dodged the dictates of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion that mandated all celebrations be generic. Whichever season it’s called, the last week in the year seems to be a peaceful one.

The frenzy is over. The family has vanished. The career for the perfect evergreen is over. It’s ready for the chipper, anxious for the recycled life ahead.

The fading tree lights reflect it all. Another Christmas, come and gone. Another year, over and done. You know what lies ahead. Still, you’re at peace. Which is what Christmas is about.

This ‘tween week might bring mild anxiety, since the tree has to be disposed of. It has to be done; you do it, affirm your action. But lingering in the back of your mind is the knowledge you’ll have to do it all again next year. The very thought of that could spoil your reverie if you let it. But for the moment, you’re at peace.

Myself? I zone out, forget negative thoughts. Instead, I focus on some books my children gave me. You can’t go wrong giving books for Christmas. Books, like socks, are utilitarian. Who could possibly live without ‘Spy Secrets That Can Save Your Life?’ I flip through it, imagining myself a CIA operative drinking martinis and saving the world from destruction. Who hasn’t fantasized such foolishness?

I read about the Escape and Evasion Gun Belt. It has everything from hat pins to a monkey fist key chain, household items to extricate you from dangerous situations and maim any malefactor. Oh, it also comes with a hand cuff key, handy if you’re detained by TSA goons because your eyeballs inadvertently match those of a bearded fellow in the next aisle who keeps winking at you. Everyone is suspect these days.

Another book, ‘100 Deadly Skills,’ describes techniques for eluding pursuers, evading capture and surviving dangerous situations. Notable are articles on how to make the NYT’s into a newspaper nail bat, plus how to convert an elbow into a deadly weapon. Every housewife needs to know this.

But like most gifts, the novelty soon wears off. On the coast the sun blazes. The thermometer registers 75 and I consider being re-baptized. No, not in the church font, but the ocean. I want to get a jump on the January 1st baptizers who wash off last night’s sins in the Atlantic. Dripping wet in 30 degree wind chill is as close to a cryogenic experience as I want to get.

So I take the plunge and emerge a new person, born again, with a resurgent spirit of enthusiasm that mingles with the multitude of chill bumps. Sufficient champagne will produce the same feeling I’m told.

Back in my chair I pass up reviewing the Christmas cards, everything from family biographies, pictures of people you don’t know and Hallmarks from CVS. Rather, I leaf through a poetry book by T. S. Eliot.

Maybe you don’t dig poetry. It’s a poor career choice anyway and can’t compete with Wall Street or welding scrap steel into yard art. Poets are mostly morose, unwashed people with bad hair, I think. But at least Eliot’s fresh breath went against convention.

Lines from ‘The Hollow Men’ are intriguing. He stretches to grasp the mystical interspace between dreams and reality, between now and later:

“Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow

Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow”

Strange lines, don’t you agree? But when read in the context of this waning week of the year, they seem to hold a message.

At midnight the year 2015 will end forever. In the interspace of a millisecond the old will pass, the new will begin. Everyone gets the chance for a second wind. Perhaps it’s in that very instant when the Shadow falls.

A line from one of Wendell Berry’s poems comes to mind:

I greet you at the beginning; for we are either beginning or we are dead.”

What will 2016 hold for us, for you, for me, for them? It’s a mystery. But to the poet in us all, life is a strange, mystical romance if only we’re willing to embrace it.

Happy New Year. Live big!

Bud Hearn
December 31, 2015

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Something’s Troubling Me

Ancient manuscripts offer good advice about not being anxious for tomorrow, but it’s hard to buy into that wisdom at Christmas. Just surviving the season is a challenge.


The pressure has been building slowly for weeks. It’s that omnipresent nagging feeling inside that something’s just not right. You know what I mean. It’s something you just can’t put your finger on, but you know it’s there. Like wondering if your Social Security number has been hacked and making the rounds in Russia.

Christmas for many, especially men, is like that. It’s traumatic. It’s when men encounter the most dreaded event in life…shopping. Anguish is everywhere. Where’s joy to the world, peace on earth? There’s wailing and gnashing of teeth as the deadline nears. It’s all caused by one universal, unanswered question: “Honey, what do you want for Christmas?”

Shopping is a ritual to endure, like presidential debates. We hear a lot of, “I don’t need anything, want even less.” Such answers are traps for the uninitiated. Postpone the inevitable if you dare, but you know that somehow, from somewhere other than Ace Hardware something expensive must appear under your Christmas tree. But what?

It started last week when I skipped church to buy a Christmas tree. I assumed the little drummer boy wouldn’t miss me and that the angelic host would give me a pass. But my conscience is troubled. Star-gazing wise men from the east who keep sheep are keeping score. Retribution is certain.

I plunge the tree in a bucket of water and wait patiently for an inspirational jump-start. A week goes by. The three kings of the orient fail to show. Fear of recompense for my church truancy builds. I’m troubled. Emerson advices, “Do the thing and you will have the power.” I rebuke procrastination. Instantly heaven and nature begin to sing.

Finally it’s up. “Best tree we ever had,” I say, hoping to set a positive tone. But under close scrutiny from more discerning eyes, it’s pointed out that it’s not a perfect tree. It’s crooked. Anxiety wells up, answers narrow down, while visions of sugarplums dance in my head.

We discuss the situation. Weigh our options. We feel sorry for the tree and keep it. It tends to set a standard for the quality of gifts to put beneath, something less like gold and more like frankincense and myrrh. No self-respecting diamond bracelet would coexist with last-minute sale items from CVS.

Last night the dog and I sat and gazed at the glimmering masterpiece. The tree’s illumination with LED lights evokes images of Miami Beach at night. It’s a yogic experience, one that gets you in touch with your inner feelings. And I need to have some revelation of what to buy my spouse.

I envy the dog. He’s not troubled. If he’s hungry, he eats. If he itches, he scratches. He hears, he barks. Nothing bothers him. He smells, he investigates. If he’s tired, he sleeps. He doesn’t plant, he doesn’t reap. He’s got it made. Dogs provide wonderful life lessons for the troubled at heart.

I talk to my dog. He sometimes listens. Tonight I ask him for gift suggestions for my wife. He looks up, twists his head a few times and rolls over. He’s not troubled. His eyes convey what his voice might say, “What, me worry?”

Maybe it’s the bright lights, but a swoon soon comes over me while heavenly harps of gold wish me a merry Christmas. An apparition seems to emanate from the tree itself. Its ghost-like spirit appears as a woman clothed in a glowing, translucent angelic robe.

In one hand she clutches what appears to be a stack of brochures. The writing is vague; my eyes strain to decipher the text. Slowly it materializes…Windstar Cruises, a Greek Isles Excursion. Instantly the specter vanishes, leaving me alone again with an idea and the sleeping dog.


In our culture we’re troubled by many things. Lessons from dogs and Christmas trees will often lighten the load. I immediately book the cruise. Angst vanishes.

Christmas is special. Heavenly hosts sing hallelujah and make life simple again. Imperfect trees notwithstanding, all we have to do is receive it. Falalalalalalalala

Bud Hearn
December 17, 2015

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Gizmo

Face it, there are times of mental overload, times when our powers of recollection are clogged up like traffic on Atlanta’s downtown connector. Names fail us. It’s time for the advent of The Gizmo.


Words keep multiplying. Have you noticed? At last count, the English language has 1,025,109.8 words. I think ‘gizmo’ is still the 8/10ths decimal one. But it’s tenacious.

Gizmo,’ the half-baked baby, hangs in there, even though it hasn’t fully matured into a whole word. It needs a big shove to get across the threshold from being a decimal to a whole number.

Maybe you’ve had one of those times recently. You’re at a party. You stand there with your spouse. Across the room a person you last saw in college approaches. You sense the tension building, the inevitable terror of knowing you will have to make an introduction. But you can’t recall his name.

The distance narrows, he comes closer, smiling like you are his best friend. Hell, you actually were. You’ve known him since high school. But what’s his name? You pretend not to see him. Futile. He’s getting closer now.

Age has altered him, you think. He looks old. His wrinkles have a pained look, suggesting they’re embarrassed to be living on his face. Your alphabet runs wild, cycling endlessly in your brain, unable to aggregate itself into a cohesive syllable. What’s his name?

You search for excuses. You stand there like a blithering idiot, stammering and stuttering some incoherent gibberish, buying time, hoping the answer will materialize. You run through the alphabet, Arnold, Bob, Charlie, David, down to Zero. Nothing. Memory mocks you.

Your spouse adds fuel to the flame, asking, “Who’s this?”

The only thing that comes out of your mouth is the ultimate fallback, “Oh, Mr. Whoziewhat?” You know already how it goes from there. You bolt for the roast beef buffet.

I know these things. Today I was that idiot.

I walk into my office bathroom, shut the door, flip on the light switch. Nothing. The horror of great darkness consumes the space.

Dark bathrooms are terrifying; things can go sideways on you if you’re not careful. It’s a place where even slight mistakes become catastrophic consequences. Light is essential. I grope for the door and escape.

I find ‘whatshisnoodle,’ my landlord, a jovial fellow as long as there are no problems. He smiles a lot when he receives the rent check. I tell him about the light bulb. He doesn’t smile. The conversation goes something like this:

Hey, I have a problem. Light in the bathroom is burned out.”

Have you considered other options?” He points to the grass outside. Did I mention he also lacks refinement? I ignore his crude gesture.

Listen, do you have one of those long, yellow poles, you know, the kind that can telescope out about ten feet, reach the ceiling? It has a long string hanging from a clear plastic cup on the end, you know, and you lick the cup and a light bulb will stick to it and you can twirl it and out pops the light bulb? Not sure what it’s called. I’m dull today.”

“You’re dull every day. What you’re referring to is called a ‘gizmo.’ Better be careful calling it a pole, you know, all those jokes about the Poles changing light bulbs. Not politically correct now. Just saying.”

A gizmo?” I ask. “Nonsense. Who made that up? It defines nothing.”

Well, Mr. Linguist, that’s what everybody calls it. It’s more descriptive than a whatchamacallit.” Pandora’s Box of placeholder words opens. Out spills strange expressions that say everything and nothing, all at the same time.

Later I’m at Ace Hardware, looking for a particular type of screw. I describe it to the clerk: “Stainless steel, round on the end, screws into a tree to run a cable through to lower my bird feeder. I can see it in my mind but I can’t think of what it’s called.”

We don’t read minds here, sir. But the “doohickey” you describe is on Aisle 14. It’s called an eye bolt.” Ace clerks are helpful but condescending.


Memory lapse is a curse with no cure. We’re hung with it. These strange words we use are placeholders for forgotten somethings. Imagine the chaos without them.

You’ll soon be Christmas shopping. ‘Thingamajig’ will go a long way when you need it. Use it early and often.

Bud Hearn
December 4, 2015

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Where’s the Thanks in Thanksgiving?

“There’s nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labor...that it was from the hand of God.” Ecclesiastes 2:24

Thanksgiving…the very concept conjures up evocative nostalgia. A silent bell tolls in our hearts, reviving the pilgrim spirit inherited from the Plymouth Plantation. Tradition is dusted off, Norman Rockwell is resurrected and a 24-hour moratorium is placed on familial grievances.

The vast migration has begun. About 49 million Americans are making the pilgrimage ‘home’ to extended families. Roads and airports are clogged, folks in a hurry, tempers short, children exhausted, courtesies abandoned. Most will arrive in time, descending on the old home place and thinking of Thanksgiving dinner.

This year’s harvest is in. Most have no sweat equity in it. Toil? Really? It’s too easy to purchase the fruits of another’s labor. In fact, harvests of today bear little resemblance to harvests of a bygone era.

Few recall the days when mules were tractors, the days of smokehouse hams and sausages, syrup making, pumpkin gathering and sweet potato banks. Days of crisp air and frosty grass; days before irrigation, genetic seeds and labels that read, “Imported.”

Former harvests were unpredictable, subject to the vicissitudes of nature and insects, and thick with the sweat of hard labor. In those days serious supplications were made for Divine favor, unlike the easy platitudes now uttered.

The term ‘harvest’ has lost its strength. Our collective hands are soft, no blisters. Our fingers do the walking, our tongues do the talking. Cash is our reaping scythe.

At Plymouth Plantation, 1621, the harvest was hard-earned from the hard scrabble earth. The community pooled their resources and labor to eke out a survival. ‘Thanksgiving’ meant gratitude then. It was not a secular ‘Black Friday’ event like today’s pagan harvest festival. It was a genuine thanksgiving to the Creator for the land’s bounty. Can you imagine yourself there?

Indigenous natives arrived at the celebration with an abundance of turnips, corn and fish. By noon the village was assembled, thanks given to the Almighty for the bounty of another year, and the feast began. It lasted for days. Feasts are always more enjoyable with a crowd.

Today, we are largely indifferent to the idea of a communal Thanksgiving. Churches and charities do their best to feed the hungry, which does represent in a small way the essence of our collective spirit. We’re a nation of individuals, gathering with friends and family in smaller settings. We remain segregated from the egalitarian life of our communities. Consequently, we fail to reap their intrinsic strengths.

Notwithstanding, Thanksgiving remains a warm celebration of congeniality and reunion, and a time of remembrance. Yes, to remember the ‘old days,’ to say a silent prayer for the ‘empty chairs’ at our tables, and remember fondly those who have moved on and the new ones now in high chairs. We remember happy times; we laugh, and maybe even cry a little.

Thanksgivings would be incomplete without the often comedic dysfunctional aspects of family homecomings. After a few days of ‘catching up,’ and with everyone sick of turkey and dressing, and often each other, the party breaks up and the crowd heads home.

With packed cars, abundant hugs and turkey sandwiches to go, the weary pilgrims depart and join the returning throngs, cursing the traffic and vowing never to do it again…until next year, that is.

Now ‘next year’ has arrived, and the tradition of Thanksgiving is revived in our hearts. We’ll celebrate another harvest in this land of abundance, an incomprehensible gift of grace from the beneficent hand of God.

As we gather around our tables Thursday, let’s remember to thank the Source of all blessings. Remember to thank those in other lands who protect our liberties and for those who have given their last measure of devotion for our freedoms.

May your Thanksgiving harvest fill your cornucopia to overflowing with abundance.

Bud Hearn
November 24, 2015

Friday, November 13, 2015

Luck of the Draw

Friday, 13th. Playing cards is a game of luck. It’s easier to curse the draw than to play the hand that’s dealt.


First, let’s be clear on one thing…I’m no authority on games of chance. Not that I don’t believe playing cards is an entertaining pursuit for wiling away the time. But most of us are long past the days of strip poker where keeping score actually meant something.

Keeping score cuts both ways…good and bad. Scores are kept on everything, from cards to spousal compliance. My score has been written more than once on the house calendars. The last one read, “What was I thinking?” It was written next to a crude sketch of a skull and cross-bones.

My wife and friends are addicted to duplicate bridge. They get high for hours discussing conventions, bids, no-trumps and sartorial selections. Such arcana breed boredom. But to their credit, their discourses are decorous, unlike boastful golfers with beer breath.

Bridge players are like Bobby Fischer, the iconic genius chess player who liked to play a computer. He said he remembered every play he ever made, in every game he ever played. He often sat on park benches, talking to himself and drooling. He died at 64. Bridge players should take this to heart.

Ok, I hear the chorus tuning up, refuting the ‘waste-of-time’ refrain. It’s a cerebral game, they preach, brain food, fosters social relationships. Perhaps, but it hardly trumps watching presidential debates, which affords lunacy a public podium and affirms the Netflix drama, House of Cards.

I’m not qualified to argue with the bridge lobby. I’ve only tried the game once. The experience reminds me of that infamous day when I was three years old and stuck in the back seat of a car with my grandparents. I was forced to ‘hold it’ for four hours. For some things, once is enough.

There’s more to my aversion to cards. Frankly, luck seems too improbable to calculate with any degree of certainty. I never trusted it. It requires risk. I flunked statistical analysis in college. Playing poker all night with a bunch of fraternity-house drunks had no future. Sorority houses offered superior options with better odds.

Risk has its downside. An innate element of euphoria is attached to it, the seductive whisper of Satan, “I dare you!” Endorphins surge into the brain’s mental receptors and nothing’s off limits. Sorta like the paroxysm that adrenaline produces when getting caught with your pants down in the wrong place. Speaking vicariously, of course.

My first recollection of cards was Old Maid. A fun game, no score kept. The sole purpose for the hours spent at the kitchen table was to avoid being left holding the Old Maid. According to reality TV, it seems a lot of people played this game. Many got left ‘holding the bag,’ so to speak. Self-fulfilling prophesies are a highly probable algorithm.

I admit to having played Solitaire. I had my reasons. While assessing a rapidly declining cognitive state, I kept no score. I can truthfully say I never lost. But even if I had, private failure is preferable to public ridicule. I recommend it for those of low self-esteem. Cheap therapy.

Once I played ‘Liar’s Poker’ at Harrison’s, a pub on Peachtree Road. A horrid mistake. A $10 ante. The pot swelled. Dollars were shuffled. We would soon bet the serial numbers on the bill we’d been dealt. Winner takes all. Nobody leaves until the dealin’s done. But there was alcohol involved, which often sends things sideways.

Before the game begins I announce, “Now boys, one game for me. Wife says be home. OK?” They shrug in difference.

“Deal,” someone shouts. The bluffs begin. I get lucky, seize the loot and sprint to the parking lot, chased by nine drunken gamblers. Look, the risk of bodily harm is never worth a measly $100 pot.

Life deals its own cards. Some get aces, others get deuces. But we all have a choice in how we play the hand.

Kenny Rogers sums it up in song, “You got to know when to hold them, know when to fold them, know when to walk away, know when to run.”


Life is a gamble with incredible odds; if it were a bet, would we take it? But we had no choice. So, ante up, see another card. And I dare you to raise the bet.

Bud Hearn
November 13, 2015

Friday, November 6, 2015

Chew On This for a While

Over the lips, across the tongue, look out tummy, here it comes.”


Not much of a toast. Short, simple, sufficient. A little ditty my friend, Tom, recited on the cusp of swallowing something toxic, usually with the names of Jack, Jim or George. His excesses sent him away early.

Stomachs endure a harsh and servile environment. They’re slave to the whims of the eyes and vicissitudes of the mind, both savage and insatiable tyrants. Tom’s ditty was an early warning refrain.

Carnal lusts crave chocolate, all things fried and panaceas of 80 proof. A civil war rages inside the body. Destruction is its fate. What does it matter who wins the war, prime ribs or Jack, a superfluity of steroids or cirrhosis?

My mama knew these things. She wasn’t a philosopher, but she was one helluva good cook. She had respect for the belly. I trusted her explicitly until the day she tried to trick me into eating liver. It scared me for life. I suffered PTSD before it became popular.

Oh, it looked so tasty, so wholesome. Those smothered onions on top, a large dollop of ketchup on the side, mashed potatoes swimming in gravy, biscuits the size of baseballs, Kentucky pole beans and steaming hot apple cobbler. Never trust anything that seems so perfect!

There were clues that something was up as I walked home from school that day for lunch. Yeah, we could walk home for lunch in small towns. Plus, we went barefoot until the World Series ended and again after April 1st. Seems strange now, as quaint as yesteryear’s backyard clotheslines. Pity kids today without these perks. They’re emotionally damaged goods.

Anyway, about a block away a vile smell wafted onto the crisp October air, and not that of fried chicken. No! This stench singed magnolia leaves. Their scorched, shriveled torsos littered the sidewalks in a fetal, death-like repose.

So foul was the odor that birds flew wildly in a migratory frenzy, seeking refuge. Our house appeared to be on fire, so intense was the smoke from the kitchen window. I pinched my nose and opened the door.

Oh, son, I cooked you something special today,” mama said. Then I saw the source of this noxious pollution, a lifeless slab of black meat lying on the plate. Taste me, taste me, it taunted.

As you know, children are always starving. They’ll try eating anything once. My mother stood by the stove in her white apron, smiling as I took the first bite. I remember her words:
Son, always chew your food well, 32 times for each bite,” she said.

Young boys are like dogs in many respects. Once food’s in the mouth, there’s no turning back. The teeth get about two hits on it before it crosses the tongue and is long gone south.

Her smile soon turned to panic along with the hopeless grimace on my face. I chewed and chewed and chewed that wretched flesh. With each chew it got bigger and bigger and bigger. It wouldn’t go down. My mouth had become the host for an alien creature that used it to multiply its loathsome offspring.

My mouth bloated, my eyes bulged and my body swelled. I felt the end was near. The consequences of that meal live in infamy to this day. Even now, life is a struggle to survive the remembrance of this brutal abuse of my childhood innocence.

Since this episode, and until I left home, I avoided mama’s strange mystery meat. Not that I distrusted my sweet mother’s intents, but as it’s said, “Trust, but verify.” From that day on I relied on my dog, Whitey, to be the canary in the cave, as it were, to test mama’s mysterious victuals.

Whether this was an isolated case of unintentional poisoning or some out-of-body experience, I can’t say. I simply refer to it as ‘the day that the liver multiplied.’ Trust is hard to build, quick to evaporate, and almost impossible to renew.

A vile smoke reeks regularly from the Congressional kitchen. Their disguised promises smell like liver and are served up by toady bureaucratic parasites. The insidious cycle of toxic giveaways gets bigger and bigger and bigger.


The choice of swallowing these loathsome handouts is ours. Who will volunteer to be the canary? Now, chew on this allegory for a while and see if you can get it to go down.

Bud Hearn
November 6, 2015

Friday, October 30, 2015

Getting All Worked Up

Type A personalities abound. Hot blood roars through our veins like 100 octane coffee. We live like ADD addicts, hooked on anything we can get hot about. What’s life without getting all worked up about something?


I first heard the phrase, ‘getting all worked up,’ in high school when my daddy advised against ‘going too far’ with my first girlfriend. At a reunion twenty years later I discovered his wisdom. Others didn’t. It pays to listen to daddy.

Small towns of the South function on idiomatic parlance. Big words are wasted, and one is branded ‘uppity.’ The hearer stands there, blank face, eyes glazed over, comprehending nothing. Replies consist of the usual utterance of guttural gibberish as, “Uh huh, uh huh.” Uh huh has been replaced by the half-witted maxim of, ‘How ‘bout them Dawgs?’ which says everything and means nothing.

This summer on the Georgia coast we pretty much moped around in a stupor, cursing the dull, drab, clammy days that dripped with humidity. Such conditions are worse than a gulp of yesterday’s leftover Mello Yellow. The only winners were hairdressers. Humidity is the mortal enemy of women’s hair. Salon owners now drive Mercedes.

The sun finally came out. My wife got all worked up on where to put our ashes, saying something about burdening the children. She worried that the prime urn plots at Christ Cemetery were fast disappearing. We had to act. Her sensibilities got the best of her. She failed to grasp the fact that ashes of this earthly tabernacle have less sensory perception than the plastic flowers that adorn the future event.

Then Trump shows up. He slithers through crowds wearing diamond cuff links a little larger than baseballs. I imagine him as a washed-up WWF wrestler wearing a too-tight red Speedo under his Armani suit. Apparently that’s what makes his neck bulge and his voice squeak while spewing his fascism and body-slamming Doc Carson off the ropes. Entertaining, yes, but like football in June, it’s too early to get carried away.

Trump’s running for President, you know. In the GOP, everybody’s running for president. How can anybody get worked up with that crowd of yesterday’s stale lineup of lackluster losers? The last dud of this ilk that we elected was an empty peanut hull and, who, unlike the Clintons, left the White House ignominiously in poverty. We should add to the insanity by writing in ourselves on the ballot.

As for Presidents, I preferred Nixon, a man you could get worked up about. He was a dapper fellow who knew subtlety and carried a switchblade. He would have been a match for Vladimir, egotistically and stealthily.

Nixon knew when to keep his shirt on and stay off horses. Unfortunately, he couldn’t keep his mouth shut and loved to record the sound of his own voice. No one should get all worked up on their own voice or their bare chest. Pride goeth before the fall.

I liked Lyndon, too. There’s something rousing about ruthless men. Plus, he wasn’t afraid of taking his shirt off. I doubt the sight of his chest produced an erotic adventure for anyone, but it did reveal a history lesson. His surgeon carved it up to resemble the DMZ in Viet Nam. Some legacies are novel as well as memorable. Like Caligula.

Without politics, the only option left is to sit around and read insipid news about the slowing economy, Russian world domination, the Clinton’s cash and declining test scores. Don’t laugh. Test scores are serious business. This news is enough to send you to the edge of your chair awaiting rapture. The children may never leave home!

Now ‘rapture’ is definitely something to get all worked up about. Word is that the advent of the largest full moon in 32 years is sending ripples of impending rapture among the select Baptist chosen. But keep that secret…it might bid up the price of grave plots.

Lately the press reports that contrary to all logic, pork is really red meat, not white meat, and all processed meat is carcinogenic. So long salami. The Meat Institute is all worked up on rebuttal of this idiocy. Big Pharma is grinning. After all, cancer is big money.


As for me, I’m level-headed and not prone to protests. But my friends, eliminating bacon from the shelves is really something to get all worked up about. Are you with me?

Bud Hearn
October 30, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

The Infernal Boneyard

Today I woke up inside of a headache. A Randy Travis lament reverberated off the walls, “I’m digging up bones, I’m digging up bones, exhuming things that’s better left alone…” Yes, it’s October 15th, deadline for deadbeat late tax filers, of whom I am chief.

It happens every year. It’s caused by anal retentive accountants who are in complicity with the IRS. Everything must balance, everything must reconcile. It’s a sickness unto death. They’re obsessive tyrants. They inflict grueling punishment with each unclassified check written.

My 2014 checkbook resembles an Accounting 101 practice set, volumes of undocumented scribbling, indecipherable numbers, missing check stubs and misplaced bank statements. The entire enterprise that it represents seems to be sustained by nothing but the thin air of hope and improbable promises.

The inside of a headache is like an insane asylum…a solitary padded room, cold, no windows, no door, no mini-bar, a concrete floor, a bed bolted to the wall and no room service. The only perk is a uni-sex toilet with no lid. I have a standing reservation there, made by my accountant. This year I vow a short occupancy in that hell by promising to prepare taxes on time. What a joke!

Here’s what transpires in this dungeon due to that irresponsible promise:

Every October finds me in the numbers boneyard,
There with my accountant, working on taxes.
We dig into checkbooks, files, transactions,
Sorting out details of last year’s train wreck.

Forensic tools lie in disarray.
A computer, red-ink pens, calculator, legal pads and laptops.
The conference table resembles an Operating Room,
A surreal stage to anatomically restructure the fiscal year.

We labor in lockstep while the IRS bell tolls.
The method is always the same. She digs deep,
Exposes the financial bones of last year’s transactions,
Facts without flesh, cold, dead, without feeling, impossible to recall.

We slog through the checkbooks, try to sort it out.
It’s drudgery, slow, agonizing and torturous work.
Her patience is short. She shoves. I sulk.
My memory escapes like steam from Yellowstone.

This check, that check, for what? For how much?
Every check is a mystery, prompting an interrogation.
You forget to code, to label, to balance, she says.
Your brain is a sieve, I work for an idiot. I agree.

My mind moans, like digging in red clay, hard and painful,
Fleshing out the bones of last-year’s debacles.
We break, take a reprieve from house arrest,
Walk to Starbucks, dragging our balls and chains.

The clock is an enemy in relentless pursuit, the incessant tick, tick, tick.

We continue the reconciling, resurrecting the corporate corpse.
This deal, that deal, they intertwine, twisting, turning,
Winding down an endless and tortuous road.
My mind spins cartwheels trying to assemble details.

Hours pass. The floor is cluttered with files scattered in random disarray.
Ledgers, checks and pizza scraps litter the room.
The table is a tornado aftermath, a primordial chaos.
We curse it and each other, but keep digging.

She threatens to resign. I threaten to accept. No one leaves.
Then, a breakthrough…one gets done, then another, a third, one more to go.
We can see the light…, until
She discovers some checks are missing.

Where are they? We panic, pound on the padded walls.
At wit’s end we call the bank, they lament the computers are down.
We fabricate the numbers, apply the sleight of hand.
The clock, prods with its tick, tick, tick.

The headache room shrinks, its walls close in.
Our heads throb, endless numbers swirl, demanding closure.
Long-term confinement looms.
So little time, always no time, always no time.

We abandon all hope of early release,
Incarcerated with last year’s bones.
By luck the banker calls,
Reconciliation is achieved at last.


We break for beer, celebrate and come back for cleanup. I’d like to say we live happily ever after. But wait. She picks up a checkbook and notices missing checks for 2015. What’s this, she says?

I can see it coming. I sprint from the padded cell and yell, “Fresh graves for next year’s boneyard…it’s job security!” Her response echoes in my ears.

Bud Hearn
October 16, 2015

Friday, October 2, 2015

Sands of Time

Time is short. Opportunity is limited. Such is the wisdom of the hourglass.


An hourglass sits on the table next to my morning coffee. It has no real function except to jump-start my mental focus until the coffee takes hold of the morning. In a speechless way, it’s superior to listening to Trump spewing vitriolic voodoo on marginalized Americans.

Today I recall words from Macdonald Carey, “Like sands through the hourglass, so are the Days of our Life.” They’re the epilogue of the TV episodes, Days of our Lives, that ran from 1966 to 1994. Miraculously, there’s still sand left in its hourglass. If you remember it, then your hourglass is running low on sand, too.

My mother never missed an episode of this soap opera on her 12-inch black and white TV. She’d sit with her cup of coffee or tea and allow herself to be subsumed into the lives of the actors. If you lived in a small South Georgia nowhere town, you’d find your own escape hatch from the insipid boredom of the place. Soaps are better addictions than alcohol, except at night.

Someone gave me this useless device. I asked why. They said it provided a better meditative process than the yogic Oom’s. Plus, they said, it wouldn’t disturb the household while I sit on the floor in lotus position clothed in a white Indian loincloth, making a fool of myself.

For portending the future, the hourglass is inferior to tarot cards, horoscopes or even fortune cookies. I once cracked open a fortune cookie in the Grand China Wall restaurant after consuming General Tso’s chicken, a delicacy that swam in a toxic pond of MSG. Bad days need clear direction. The tiny fortune inside simply read, “See Rock City.” Direction can come serendipitously from strange sources.

Today, the hourglass seems like a bad omen. I sit and watch as sands of time slip silently into the bowels of the hourglass. The sand leaves no trail but slides seamlessly through the narrow neck, settling itself into nothingness. Like time itself, it leaves no trail in its passing.

Unlike Sullivan’s theorem, ‘form follows function,’ it’s hard to say just what function an hourglass performs. It’s useless as a sand clock, unless one subscribes to the notion that it’s one of Plato’s Perfect Patterns. Never heard of his postulation?

The peripatetic philosopher’s hypothesis suggests that in the heavenly spheres there’s a perfect pattern of all things, of which on earth everything’s an imperfect replica. It’s hard to get a grip on esoterica. Plato obviously never observed Ole Miss Cheerleaders, or he would have seen the flaws in his speculation. Perfection is clearly in the eye of the beholder.

There are some trivial uses of the hourglass. I once had a small but decorative one, a ten-minute timer. The glass was encased in brass. It substituted for a stopwatch for timing long-winded lawyers who charged by the word and boring preachers who tongue-lashed the faithful on the wages of sin.

Some say the hourglass is helpful for redeeming the time, an unproven and half-baked concept. Except in Mississippi, where the past is always present. Advise your redemption-adherent pals that Cryonics is still a work in progress. I doubt we’ll see Stalin or Mao rise from their glass encasement any time soon.

I feel some remorse for the hourglass. It’s become mostly irrelevant in this technological age. It’s still good for timing 3-minute eggs. It was formerly good for describing the bodily features of females. But alas, this use has run its course. American female figure shapes are now mostly described by fruit, particularly pears.

Perhaps the best use for the hourglass is in setting the mood for some figurative or poetic metaphor. Unfortunately, the only example that comes to mind is that time has run out in writing this moronic epistle.


In the cosmic scheme of things, Time, if it exists at all, is measured by eons and not by grains of sand. As for us, well, it’s still dust unto dust…and it’s always later than we think.

Bud Hearn
October 2, 2015

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

On the Habits of Men

It’s an idea whose time has come. But who has nerve to write it? Clearly, only someone with a reputation of questionable repute. Some men will sink low to rise high.


It begins as a tongue-in-cheek suggestion with my editor. Journalistic balance is paramount. I’m persuasive. Trump taught me. She puts both her job and the Friday fish-wrapper of a newspaper’s fortunes on the line and accepts this scalding topic. Here’s how it goes.

I pop the question. She laughs hysterically at such absurdity. I tell her it might be a career maker for her. She laughs even harder. She knows hacks when she hears ‘em.

Who could possibly be offended?” I ask.

She stops laughing. I seize the opportunity to slide in the obvious, “Certainly not women. They’ve endured men’s foul habits for ages.” Besides, men only read Sports Illustrated. Pictures suffice.

She asks about credible research material and copious annotations. I sidestep the questions. No writer reveals their sources. I want to tell her I studied the characteristics of mules for similarities, but she’s in no mood for levity, despite the significant parallels.

She pushes the issue. I demur. She’s relentless. I capitulate. “Friends in low places,” I tell her, “but I’m not naming names.” Autobiographical data needs disguising. She wants more information.

I need examples of this cockamamie thesis,” she murmurs. “In my experience men’s traits fit into four distinct categories: Ignorance, Stupidity, Annoying and Disgusting. Which category is your basis?” Her assessment is harsh, true as it may be.

I admit men do have certain idiosyncrasies when it comes to seeing. I tell her of the friend who never saw his birthday present, a grand piano, in his living room until his wife pointed it out. “Typical, but boring,” she says.

I dig deeper into the data bag, pull out the one where men are like little boys who often pout and attempt to justify their infantile actions. Her ears perk up. “Specifics,” she demands.

Simple. Men always have important meetings. Making up beds is not one.” She wants me to define ‘important.’ “Does coffee at Starbucks count?” She’s not amused.

Here’s a couple for you,” I say. What man doesn’t have the primal ‘fear of dishwasher-unloading’? Or, shading the truth of their whereabouts? Significant hyperbole hides in these rituals. “Go on, I’m listening,” she says with resignation.

I sling her a zinger about a fellow who has the bed-time habits of a barbarian. I hit a nerve. Cave men content sells magazines. “Explain,” she says.

I set the scene. “His wife’s asleep, right? He comes in, fluffs the feathers of three pillows and bounces onto the bed. The mattress becomes a catapult. His sleeping spouse is sent airborne.”

Finally she smiles. “I want to meet this savage,” she says. “Anything as stupid as this is a cover story. But I need more.”

Easy,” I say. “I’ll bet even your father never read an expiration date on foods, and ate Ben and Jerry’s out of the container. He probably even drank orange juice right from the bottle, correct?” I explain it’s a covert male nocturnal proclivity. I leave out the part where they never bother to wipe off the lid.

Gross,” she says, “a disgusting trait.”

“You want more?” I ask. “I’m just getting wound up.”

She pushes back in her chair. “OK, I’m intrigued, but what’s the article’s hidden theme?” I’m trapped. With editors, intuition is a finely-tuned instrument.

I come clean. “OK, it’s a ruse. The surreptitious issue is that women have concocted a vast, feminist conspiracy to discredit men. They’ve set us up to fail.”

Ludicrous,” she says.

They ask questions, like, do you like my new haircut? Or, do I look frumpy in this new dress? There are no right answers to these questions. Do you agree?”

No comment,” she says, grinning.

Otherwise, then what do you think about the article?” I ask.

She pauses. After a long moment of silence she resurrects an old Lincoln quote, “Your thesis is about as thin as the homeopathic soup that was made by boiling the shadow of a pigeon that had starved to death.”


Alas, gentlemen, it’s sad but true…women still rule in the affairs of men. The next Weakly Post will be about a subjugated man’s recipe for shadow-of-pigeon soup.

Bud Hearn
September 15, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Cheater's List

Ashley Madison. Just like a woman, can’t keep her secrets to herself. Divorce courts are jammed. Lawyers are getting rich. Jerry Springer is making a comeback. All my friends are running for cover.


You knew, right? Hackers exposed her ‘secure’ web site. Over 32 million ‘clients’ were disclosed in July. What were they doing there? Guess. Matchups for sex. Yes, these things still happen, grandma.

Hacking ‘secure’ data is commonplace. The IRS opened its doors to hell and data was extracted. Closer to home, former Governor Barnes and his cronies attacked Home Depot’s lapse with a class action lawsuit. Small potatoes, really. Who cares who bought some hoes or other gardening supplies?

But marriage these days? So many lonely, sordid souls seeking companionship and entertainment in someone else’s Garden of Eden.

Horrors, you say. This is the Bible Belt. We adhere to the 10 C’s, at least in public, even though the stone reminders no longer grace the court houses of the South. As you may remember, there were once 20 Commandments. Moses bargained God down to 10, but, alas, adultery is still in there.

Of course, preachers know this, which accounts for a large percentage of tithes, I’m told. The conscience is like the tell-tale heart…it needs to come clean early and often. Money is one means of absolution. Emasculation is another.

In the South we’re burdened by more than the weather. Licentiousness breeds like mosquitoes and fleas during Dog Days. Comfort is sought somewhere. South Georgians have always known that heavy breathing can be caused by more than humidity. And infidelity is just a wink and a nod away.

Like Home Depot, but in the common gutter vernacular, Ashley sells a lot of ‘hoes,’ so to speak. Which is why fear is gripping South Georgia. We’re a culture of gardeners, enjoying the cultivation of many and various varieties of cross-breeds. It’s a family tradition, as it were. Our gardens have been invaded.

Billboards are now springing up next to the dilapidated ones, ‘Who is John Galt.’ Ludowici, Georgia, was once the Georgia capital for nocturnal activities-for-fee business, better known as ‘The Best for Less.’ Former governor Maddox ended that. But now bill boards appear, ‘Honk if you know Ashley.’

Curiosity gets the better of us sometimes. I open the web site to see what the attraction is. Wow, what a menu it offers. I scroll down the offerings to get an overview of what millions found interesting.

The heading, ‘Spanking,’ intrigues me. What does it have to do with sexual exploits, I wonder? I remember being spanked as a child. I know how it felt. Believe me, erotica was not one of the by-products. I try to imagine just how something like this would work out in actual practice. I draw a blank.

Then there’s ‘Role Playing.’ Now, that’s a situation we all practice. But just how it adds to any erogenous playfulness escapes me. I picture myself wearing a Superman suit, cape and all, and bounding into some sleazy motel room. Hilarious laughter would be the consequence of that foreplay.

There’s the ‘Submissive Slave’ item to order. How would that work? Would chains be involved, whips, floggings? Who would find such carnal thrashing pleasant, much less amatory?

Then there’s the item on ‘Fetishes.’ Now I know all about fetishes. I have a manic obsession for them. For shirts, that is. I know the arousal one can get from buying a new Robert Graham, or a Bonobos. Nothing is steamier the first time they’re worn. Unfortunately, the lust soon fades into ho hum. Could this be what ‘Fetishes’ means?

I run on down the list: Sex Talk, Threesomes, Dominant Master, Bondage, Leather and others. Something for everybody. Clearly, there are sick minds out there in the internet world.


Down here on the coast we don’t need Ashley’s sleazy internet seductions with a Cheater’s List. We have our own.

Honeysuckle, swamp flowers, magnolia and the mystery smell of the marshes is aphrodisiac enough, soft and violate at the same time. Heavy breathing is everywhere.

Bud Hearn
September 10, 2015

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Dangerous Thoughts

Presidential politics…a blood sport, an evil trade, a strange, seedy world of misfits, blowhards and charlatans. A politician’s smile worms its way into your wallet.


All alone. White computer screen.
Noise outside. A door slams. Footsteps approach.
A knock at the door. It’s a Thought.
Harmless enough. Come in, I say. It does.

It has family, friends, clingers, handlers.
They pour in, take up residence.
Oops. ‘Politician,’ a pernicious thought.
Thoughts morph into words. Words become flesh.

I type. The words propagate wildly upon the blank computer screen. Their relatives begin to show up. Voices everywhere. Who’s saying what, to whom, about what? A merry-go-round of confusion.

Thoughts are dangerous. They dwell in dark canyons, dead-end alleys, in dungeons without windows, with door signs, ‘No Exit.’ Thoughts deceive.

The carnival of presidential candidates stake tents on the front lawn. They set up sound stages and side-show antics. The campaigns are beginning. The once-pristine landscape becomes a cheesy amusement park. Vendors of cheap elixirs, bit coins, lapel pins and lotto tickets, all promising free money, follow the court jesters.

A rock-star bus arrives. It’s gilded, shimmering in 24 karat, emblazoned with gigantic red ‘T’s.’ The door bursts open. A long red carpet rolls out. A man in Armani steps off wearing a red baseball cap. It reads, “The Anointed.”

He’s wrapped in a purple cape. It’s trimmed with diamonds. His coiffeur carries the cape’s train. An audible gasp emanates from the assembled crowd. A loudspeaker blasts, “Behold, your king, your king.” People bow.

He twirls an emerald-encrusted mahogany cane and gestures benevolently to the throng, flinging gold key chains to the hysterical crowd of voters.

From the shadows the Evangelical apparition emerges, shouting, “Blasphemy, blasphemy.” He’s subdued by goons in black suits and returned to Arkansas in a box.

Scattered throughout are scores of candidates with small tents, garish facades and smaller bankrolls. Combined, their poll ratings register the IQ of a tadpole.

The Low Country candidate gasps fumes of the past. He even looks guilty, like he just kicked his grandmother.

The IRS pariah? He has a long practice of doing the wrong thing and has the voice the size of a marble. He consoles the Wisconsin Wizard who has fallen flat like an old tire.

The Ohio wannabe? Ha. What good can possibly come from a state that boasts Harding and Grant? C’mon, folks.

Listen, the show’s getting good. Tickets are still cheap. Buy one, take the ride. It’s a guarantee of a front-row seat to view the decadent display of human degradation called a presidential campaign.

The Anointed King eyes the ‘man of low energy’ and, his counterpart, The Cuban. Misery loves company. His Elvis-like lips hurl angry expletives at them. He sneers his contempt for the dead air that surrounds them. They stand stunned, emasculated.

Look, fresh from the bayous. It’s Bobby, riding in on an elephant, tossing peanuts to the men in the rear who scoop up the mess. His bullhorn screams, ‘Katrina, Katrina,’ reminding the would-be Dynasty Maker of his brother’s torrid affair with the Cajun lady. Louisiana is famous for femme fatales.

New Jersey’s choice leans on a weak reed. The NJ Housewives have better odds. The Kentucky senator stands in the shadows with cheat sheets. He’s memorizing ideology which, according to most, is thinner than the gold on a Vegas weekend wedding ring. The Anointed ignores them.

The Anointed swaggers over to the two cowboys from Texas. They’re anxious to reconcile differences, talk deals. A pair of buzzards circles silently overhead. Such creatures can smell carrion before it even dies. The men irritate The Anointed slightly less than a gnat.

Whipped up by media hype, the crowd goes ballistic when The Anointed struts into the center ring of the circus. Joe B, the clown and equivocating contender, tongue-lashes the Socialist but suddenly discovers he has again impaled himself on his own tongue.

Quietly crawling up from the smoldering ruins of Secrets of State is the Queen of Duplicity, smug with hubris and a face as expressionless as dough. She’s dressed in a gold lame pants suit from Goodwill, looking tired and old and not much use to anybody.

The two square off. The Anointed snarls. The Queen smirks. Her fangs flash. The pair’s nouns and verbs explode with venom and rage, mano a mano combat.

Somehow my words stop flowing. The final details remain shrouded in mystery.


Thinking about politics is dangerous. So are predictions. Will it be a King, a Queen or a Doctor? You decide.

My opinion? Not enough buzzards to go around.

Bud Hearn
September 1, 2015

Friday, August 21, 2015

From Russia with Luck

The Russians have a proverb, “Na lovtsa I zver’ bezhit.” It translates, “Speak of the devil and he appears.”


Enroute to St. Petersburg last week, we detour through Estonia, a former Soviet republic. Evidence of that failed era remains visible. We arrange a tour, “Back to the USSR” to get a ‘feel’ what living under post-war Soviet control was like. Such adventures are often ill-advised.

We walk through the gray, early smog of a parking lot to the point of departure. Our guide stands there to greet us. Beside him is a left-over Soviet-era bus, the kind you see littered along the countryside in rural Georgia.

He stands there in a rigid formation and eyes our small group with cold eyes and a slight Elvis sneer. He wears a gray KGB uniform with a colonel’s insignia. The metals pinned to his jacket are tarnished. They appear to have been purchased form a yard sale in Alabama.

I am Colonel Boris,” he says. He is not a cheerful type. He means business. We don’t know what to expect.

Line up behind this white line,” he demands. We do, obediently. He looks at me. “You are a spy, no?”

“No,” I tell him. “I’m a capitalist pig," I say. He’s not amused. He spits.

Now, march around the bus three times, in formation, and get in.” We march. Nobody speaks.

The bus driver sits there mute, like a robot. We sit. Boris pulls out a used cardboard box, takes out a jar of pickles and a bottle of clear liquid. Vodka.

He pours stiff slugs of it into cheap plastic cups, passes them around. Steam rises from them, reminiscent of elixirs from fraternity parties of the past. “Bottoms up,” he shouts, and begins to sing something in Russian. We clap in unison.

He distributes pickles, smallish cucumbers that appear to have been cured in formaldehyde. “Russian snacks,” he says. “Drink, eat. Russian health food.” Immediately our day begins to look up.

The robot fires up the bus. It lurches forward about three feet, then chokes down. Colonel Boris grunts and say to three hefty men, “You, beefsteaks, out, push.” Nobody demurs. They get out and push. The engine catches fire, the tour begins.

We visit a closed Soviet prison. Its walls are dank with mildew; its windows appear as black, hollow eyes of skeletons that reveal the horror that must have occurred there. The devil still lives here along with the rusted hulks of machinery.

He says it was a transition impoundment, a temporary ‘evaluation’ facility to decide who lives and who goes to Siberia. We decline an inside visit after the warning. The bus moves on.

Throughout the city of Tallinn we see remnants of leftover obsolescence, buildings without maintenance for years, desperately in need of demolition. Detroit redux.

We pass green parks of people sunning, picnicking, perhaps escaping from some lingering fear of confinement. Apparently remembrances of Soviet eavesdropping are fresh in memory. We end at a closed Soviet meeting hall, now a historical monument filled with murals of Soviet propaganda.

Outside is a grown-over field of tall grasses. An unkempt cemetery of sorts. Littered throughout the tall grass are decapitated copper bodies. They lie oxidizing slowly in the chill Estonia air. Their heads are iconic replicas of Lenin, Marx and Stalin. They lay in strange juxtaposition to their former bodies. One is reminded of the tenuous nature of ideology.

The tour ends in the village market area, a bustling row of mainly flower shops. The ancient buildings in the town square appear unchanged for hundreds of years. They exude a quaint charm of a peaceful time.

Colonel Boris, we discover, is actually a comedian, an actor. He arranges these comedic tours as a reminder of what the old USSR was like, and what it may again become. As he said, they are now a NATO nation, but remind us that the acronym could translate, ‘No Action, Talk Only.’

Russia produces great musical composers. Much of their music is written in minor keys. I am told that while the big Russian sky is blue, there is always a cloud on the horizon. Their music conveys this.


If you plan to visit Russia, I have only one suggestion for you: Ne puha, ne pera…good luck.

Bud Hearn
August 21, 2015

Friday, August 7, 2015

Russia at First Glance

Revolutions explode overnight. Change crawls piecemeal. Russians seem to be breathing air of complacency.


One George Washington will buy 63 Russian rubles? What a deal. What better time to put a shoe on Russian soil.

We stowed aboard a cruise ship heading up the Baltic Sea, a floating city, having ignored the news that Putin and Clinton had reached agreement to control the world. Friends held a wake prior to our departure. They must have read the same news.

What little I knew about Russia could be summed up in one aphorism: "Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma." Churchill wrote those words. So I decided to peer into the enigma for a metaphor of the Russian Bear.

Enigmas are giant jigsaw puzzles. Hard to see the whole mosaic one piece at a time. Understanding them requires patience, the sport of truly chastened things.

Russians have painted a pretty face in St. Petersburg, our destination. But the post-Soviet era cannot be hidden. Sailing through the ship canal, the Neva River, one is reminded of rough dry docks of New Jersey or the industrial decay of Detroit. Glory is fickle. It comes, it goes. Here it has departed, leaving in its wake rusted-out steel hulks of yesterday's glory. Now a giant junk yard of detritus.

Russians are a paranoid people. To see the sites, we are shuttled off the ship, through Immigration populated by grim-faced agents. Smiles are not allowed. (The ship promises a free tour to anyone who could make them smile. It proved to be a safe bet.)

Once off, we're herded into a bus with a Russian tour guide who is obviously instructed to control our movement. We walk, as do other tours, in a tight mosh pit of people, following like first graders a sign on a stick with our tour number.

Russians control everything it seems. But one thing they can't control is the appearance of buildings along the way. Think Havana for a good comparison. Post USSR is everywhere, seen in the decay of buildings.

Cranes dot the skyline, giving the appearance of progress. In spite of their ubiquity, none seemed to be active. Lessons observed from North Korea.

Unlike the US, people walk. Teeming throngs are in constant movement late in the afternoon. I ask about these masses. "Going home from work" was the answer.

We roll through the countryside outside the city. New construction is everywhere, so is traffic. Some things never change...like America, cars dominate exurbs.

The palaces, gardens, parks and monuments are abundant. They speak of the extravagant Czarist history. But after a while, retention of sights and details are impossible. It all runs together. The mind, like a sponge, can absorb only so much. The enigma remains.

The closest I got after 3 days of putting pieces in the puzzle had to do with a scene from the balcony of my room. It seemed to offer a clue to the mystery.

Late in the afternoon a man dressed in black emerges from a derelict industrial building. He walks along the top of a steel bulkhead. He's in no hurry. He stops, looks at the water, slowly walks more.

The sun plays with him. He follows his shadow for a while. He turns around, walks back. His shadow follows. Suddenly a small black dog appears from nowhere. It sees the man, runs. The man watches with disinterest.

The man walks on. He passes what appears to be a silver pipe. Smoke pours from it. He stops, looks at it, continues. He seems to have no purpose. He stops again, has a smoke, then moves on.
He walks over to a concrete wall, stands there with his back to it. Life is passing him by without incident. He flips his cigarette into the canal, watches it wash away. Then strolls back past the smoking pipe. He looks at it, pauses, then disappears around the corner of a metal building.

Who is this man, I wonder? A guard, a laborer? What is his purpose? What is he thinking? Each answer another piece of the puzzle.

But the constantly smoking pipe, what metaphoric cornerstone does it occupy in the riddle? It reminds one of the words of Emile Zola, “When truth is buried underground, it grows and builds up so much force that the day it explodes it blasts everything with it.”


We left St. Petersburg as Churchill described it, the enigmatic mystery unresolved. But every culture may be defined thusly, though others may be less opaque.

As I look over the over-fed lunch crowd on the ship, what metaphor would one of another culture use to unravel the American character?

The pipe smokes for all of us.

Bud Hearn
From Russia with Luck
August 7, 2015

Friday, July 31, 2015

A Mockingbird Morning

“Life is like licking honey from a thorn.” Anonymous

Ah, those summer mornings when the dew has left its last traces of essence on the lilies and the bumble bees begin their pollinating deliveries. It’s such a morning when shards of August sunlight are cast streaming through the oaks lighting up the garden’s spectacle of colors.

You have coffee sitting in the shade of the pool arbor. You admire your garden. The fresh ambience of the day sets a swoon over the landscape. In your mind a vision appears. Over there, in the far corner of the garden, you see him, the gardener. He sits in the shadows of an imaginary tool shed.

He wipes periodically the perspiration on his face with a red bandana. His white shirt is soaked with sweat. His movements are measured in slow motion. He appears to be unconcerned, resting in an obvious peace of mind. He sips iced tea from a moisture-beaded glass like your grandmother used. His legs are crossed.

His implements hang orderly on the weathered wooden wall, like workers relieved from their recent toil. Their handles are worn and slick, the shears sharp and shiny. A shovel lies prostrate in a red wheelbarrow. His gloves lay on the bench beside him. A thin coating of dust covers his boots.

A cool breeze stirs the wind chimes hanging above the open door of the shed. The tin roof occasionally buckles with a popping sound in the day’s beginning heat. Overhead a fly buzzes. The gardener is motionless. He rests from his morning labors.

Gardens are solitary and proprietary creations. They yield clues to a gardener’s visions. They’re as much an art as a science. New gardens, like children, appear wild and sparse, haphazard, without symmetry. Like fine art, the masterpiece is seen only in the eyes of the gardener. But beginnings are never endings.

Time is a gardener’s friend. Nature counts time in seconds, not years. It’s one breath at a time. Anxiety is an unwelcomed guest in gardens. Labor is daily, nothing hurried, nothing rushed. Gentle snips with the pruning clipper treat the boxwoods tenderly. Progress is slow and imperceptible.

Gardens are the provenance of creatures, small and large. Deer nibble the roses, moles make subterranean trails. All have roles. Yonder gardener has shifted slightly on his bench. He seems to be watching the Whirling Butterfly plant, the guara.

Looking closely, you see a bee hanging from the tiny flower on the end of the guara’s long stalk. It rides the flower as in a rodeo while the wind twists and turns the tendril. It yields a Zen-like quality. The gardener seems untroubled with the concept. Perhaps he knows there’s a better way than Zen to achieve permanent nirvana.

A lone Monarch butterfly floats between the yellow lantana and the lavender garlic plants, indecisive with the abundance of choices. A tiny green lizard scurries up the stalk of the Jerusalem thorn tree, oblivious to the prickly thorns.

You notice how neatly you pruned the wisteria and trumpet vines yesterday. You consider asking the gardener his opinion on vines, whether they are evolutionary curses of nature or providentially designed for some greater purpose that escapes logic. But the fragrance of the jasmine overwhelms your senses and logic seems misplaced in your botanical wonderland.

There is a bias in nature to the wild side, not the cultivated gardens. Weeds are a fact of life. They produce miniature gardens of many-colored flowers. Few notice them. Yet in microcosm, their flowers have transcendent beauty unmatched in urbane environments. They grow anywhere and require no effort to nurture. You even contemplate being a weed.

Your coffee cup is now empty. The sun is hot. Your morning meditation is over. You glance one last time toward the tool shed. The gardener has turned into a misty chimera, a ghost-like apparition that seems to be vanishing into thin air.

On the rail fence post sits a mockingbird. It practices a repertoire of mimics. Suddenly it’s startled, as though a strange breeze passed by. It ruffles its feathers and flies away.

You are once again alone in your garden. Through the magnolia trees you see a shadow. It resembles a cherub and moves slowly out of sight.

Life could be an invisible gardener who shows up unexpectedly to check on how we’re doing. He may show up today. Will the gardener smile at our creation and see that it is good? He loves gardens.

Bud Hearn
July 31, 2015

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Lies We Tell

In every walk of life each man puts on a personality and outward appearance so as to look what he wants to be thought. In fact, you might say that society is entirely made up of assumed personalities.” La Rochefoucauld


Who can deny the fact our lives are layered with a pack of lies? We were born into the proclivity as the sparks fly upward. Lies fuel the fires of hell. The tongue lights the match.

Ok, so maybe this is a little dramatic, but you already know what happens when we tell a lie. Like a thief, we have to keep watching our backs. Our conscience stalks us relentlessly. Truth is a persistent pursuer.

Not all consciences are sensitive. This is especially true of the “For the People” TV lawyers. Politicians and televangelists tie for second place. Golfers are subtle. They fib on scores. It pays to have small handicaps posted on the wall of the men’s locker room. Egos need enhancement.

My mama used to say, “If you can believe it, then it’s true.” I think she was trying to convince herself that her son was not born brain dead.

According to American Indian folklore, the conscience is like an internal revolving stone triangle. It has sharp edges. Each untruth grinds it until the sharp edges no longer cut to the quick. Such is the conscience of a sociopath.

They’re everywhere. The latest study by the Women for Parity Coalition concludes all men are sociopaths. Few, if any, have the mental capacity for remorse. No sense of guilt. I relate. I am a man.

My first recollection of telling a lie was when I was caught with ten rolls of Tums bulging from the pocket of my shorts. I was about five or six. Having consumed maybe three or four complete rolls, a white, chalky residue clung to my lips like I’d eaten a bowl of kaolin.

Son, what’s that white crud all over your face?” my father asked, and not too kindly.

Out of the mouth of babes come stupid, kneejerk answers.

Candy?” It was a question used to deflect guilt. It failed. A sharp knife sliced my heart.

Clearly, cognitive function is logic-deficit at my age. Not only was a theft involved, but a significant cover-up to boot. Watergate stripped Nixon naked.

Truth will always out sooner or later. All of a sudden the stolen contraband turned to acid in my stomach. What if it had been rat poison? Horrors.

Where did you get that stuff, boy?” my father demanded. He was a man with sharp tongue and decisive action. He should have been a Guantanamo interrogator.

The answer was so quick you’d have thought I’d been programmed before birth. “Grandma gave it to me.” Did I just say that?

But the lie was exhilarating, I recall. A big-boy lie, at that. I felt affirmed. Some things one never forgets. Like the first dark-night experience in the back seat of a car at the drive-in. Remember? It happened just at the very moment when Bogart blurts out, “Here’s looking at you, kid.” Words have double meanings, you know.

Like after eating too many sardines, my stomach began to churn. A big grin stretched over my father’s face as he un-cinched his leather belt. What came next was no surprise. I’d been there before.

Tums still turns my stomach. Some lessons have lasting results. There’s a certain proverb that reads something like this: “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of iron will drive it far from him.” Belts do the job just as well.

Lying tends to run in family genes. My father was a fisherman. He was a master inventor of fiction. Creative lying has been elevated by fishermen from a science to an art form.

There are degrees of lies. Most of us are masters of the midgets, those little white ones that grease the wheels of social graces. I have a good friend. He talks a lot. Lurking somewhere in each sentence is a word of truth. Embellishment and hyperbole disguise it. Fabrication is a creative act. Trump University teaches it.


One day we’ll lie in state. The ruse will be over then. Public viewing eliminates a world of ‘assumed personalities.’ Repent now.

And if you ever say to me, “Hello, Mr. Wonderful,” I won’t hold it against you.

Bud Hearn
July 24, 2015

Friday, July 17, 2015

Dog Days in Dixie

Georgia is about to endure the insufferable assault of Dog Days, when movement becomes molasses and naps trump golf. The sleepy hound crawls from its hibernation in the heavens, shakes off the cosmic dust of its lethargy and announces its scorching presence.

Sirius, the Dog Star, gets an early start, rising before dawn. It follows the sun in its circuit and inflicts heat for six weeks on the prisoners of the earth. That’s us.

Never encountered Dog Days? For clarity, Google ‘heat wave.’ It’s when the sun pours out its searing bowl of wrath upon the earth. It torches every living creature. People pray and pledge their first born for reprieve. Relief comes only with a huge ransom.

Executives of Georgia’s utility monopoly luxuriate in air-conditioned comfort in Atlanta high rise offices. They lunch scrumptiously from revenue generated by massive utility bills, watching their customers wander about in hypnotic stupors.

The heat bakes Georgia’s red clay into bricks. Corn stalks wither. They bow in silent submission to the onslaught. Asphalt roads melt into hot tar. Tempers flare faster than July 4th fireworks.

Frequently the Okefenokee Swamp erupts in flames by spontaneous combustion. Huge plumes of smoke deposit ash trails reminiscent of Sodom’s demise. Mobile homes melt in the heat’s relentless march to the sea. Nothing is spared.

People in the piney woods pack their pickups. They flee the fiery path in a wild chaotic exit. The horror resembles a scene out of General Sherman’s playbook.

Even the brown gnats evacuate, seeking refuge on the Georgia coast. Nature delights in unannounced plagues during Dog Days.

Living on St. Simon’s Island, GA, we’re luckier than most in Georgia. The beach offers a temporary retreat from the stifling air, assuming one’s fortunate enough to find a parking place. Towel and chair spots disappear fast.

Before dawn ambitious teens stake out claims on the prime viewing locations. They barter with the late arrivals for these spots for cash or contraband in the form of cold-can elixirs. Capitalism is not an expletive to these entrepreneurs.

Come August the Chattahoochee River trickles and the ocean bubbles like a hot caldron of boiled peanuts. Sun worshipers will writhe in agony as their bare feet bake on the hot rocks and flaming beach sands. Their winter-white skin will sizzle, blackened by an unrelenting sun and fried crispy like Waffle House hash browns.

Tommy, the island’s local druggist, has again cornered the sun screen market. He purchased entire stocks from the local pharmacies. He rations his stash, selling one at a time. Prices escalate by the minute. Rumor has it that his profits from last year’s Dog Days financed a vacation home in Highlands.

Watermelons are in short supply everywhere. Last year a local farmer’s market sold all but one. It was posted on e-Bay and drew a huge bidding crowd. Some said a condo speculator from Macon paid $2,000 for it. Before leaving the parking lot, he doubled his money by flipping it to a fellow from Michigan. Which might explain the state’s tolerance toward Yankees.

This year I fell for the slick J Crew newspaper inserts touting linen shirts. “Stay cool, wear linen,” they read. So I buy five. Only to find out they soak up humidity like a sponge and look like they’re trying to crawl off my back.

Only kudzu, the Southern Cannibal, survives Dog Days unscathed. The insidious vine is Georgia’s solution to obliterating unsightly billboards along I-75. It can grow 18 inches in an instant.

Our neighbor in Atlanta preferred red clay for a yard. Even rocks wouldn’t occupy it. But kudzu thrived. It crept into our yard. In three days it consumed a lawn mower and threatened the mail man.

One night I wrestled the beast and succeeded in staking out a return path towards its origination. In two days the pernicious vine had devoured the neighbor’s Nissan.

Anything’s possible during Dog Days in Dixie. Whatever experiences you endure or enjoy, remember this: You only live once. Buy the ticket, take the ride.

Bud Hearn
July 17, 2015

Friday, July 10, 2015

Get It in Writing

Don’t come around tonight, it’s bound to take your life. There’s a bad moon on the rise.”
Creedence Clearwater Revival


A bad moon is rising over the American landscape. Government is demanding proof of ‘affirmative consent’ for consensual sex. Winks and nods no longer suffice. Men are being led away in chains and incarcerated.

It’s a disturbing portent. Government sleuths peek through the key holes of bedrooms, peer into back seats of cars and monitor movies for malefactors. The doctrine of ‘affirmative consent’ - the “yes means yes” rule - is strictly applied.

Positive consent is required for legal sex. The law is silent on what constitutes sufficient proof of consent. But like most statutes, agreements in writing can cover the backside of your naked exposure.

The ‘affirmative consent’ dragnet casts a wide arc. Imagine this scenario: A man and a woman share a bottle of pinot at a small table in the plaza of an outdoor restaurant. A violin plays. The rising yellow moon sets the tone. Romance hangs heavy in the summer air. Their conversation goes something like this:

“The moon is exquisite,” he says.

Yes, lovely,” she replies.

Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” he asks. His grin sends its message.

Uh, I forgot to take the trash out,” she says. “What are you thinking?”

“Guess,” he says, and softly touches her hand. Nothing more.

Her hand’s cold, passive and non-responsive. Yes? No? He’s confused.

They stroll home, say goodnight. No hug. No kiss. The end. But wait, not quite.

Six months later he’s arrested on a criminal complaint under Section 213.6 (3) (a), “Criminal Sexual Contact.” She alleges rape. Farfetched? Hardly. He failed to get ‘affirmative consent’ for his actions.

Silence no longer means “Yes.” A noose hides in the context of the word, “Guess.” It is a presumption of sexual intent. What? Yes, government now defines ‘intent’ since Justice Roberts opined such in the recent Obamacare re-write.

The poor chump not only pays for the wine, now he’s paying for the crime. He fails to get unequivocal consent. With one simple touch of the hand he’s guilty of rape. He’s now the newest member of the sex-offender registry. Like leprosy, he’s forced to live in isolation and wear GPS monitoring devices for the remainder of his life. Fondling fingers is risky foreplay.

Say it’s not so, man. Who concocted this cockamamie claptrap? None other but the legal think tank of the Amalgamated Law Institute, a co-ed fraternity of frustrated lawyers and judges. Sex is in the crosshairs.

But wait, for everything bad that’s done to us, something good is done for us. You ask, what possible good can come from such fetid compost as this preposterous law? Take a guess. Robots, that’s what. The age of Isaac Asimov has arrived.

The internet miracle has made virtual physical contact available. Pygmalion déjà vu. Pyg sculpts a seductively irresistible woman out of ivory. He kisses her lips. They’re warm. Hot with passion, he kisses them again. She becomes alive. On-line voyeurs can now do likewise.

It’s easy. With the so-called Kissinger system, stick an app on your Smartphone. Kiss the screen, and the movement of the lips is mirrored in another machine. The kiss will be given to whoever has their mouth against a corresponding machine. Instant gratification. No consent. No rape.

Even more bizarre is the elastomer silicone-material dream doll. It’s produced by Doll Dream Company. It’s highly useful for criminal avoidance and private manipulations. Available on-line at a cost of about $6,000, it comes complete with makeup kits and removable components of indecorous descriptions. They’re portable, passive and compliant. Advance written consent is not required. Imagine the possibilities!

Not interested? Then have your lawyer draft up an ‘affirmative consent’ document with multiple boxes to check, ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ Things like, “May I look at you?” and, “Can you read my mind?” “Does it matter what I’m thinking?” The box of, “OK if I touch you?” should include, “Anywhere?” Get the idea? Be creative, entertain the jury.

Always attach copies of a passport, driver’s license, immunization history and proof of citizenship. Have it witnessed, notarized and recorded for extra credit. Don’t leave home without one.


So much for another government entrapment scheme. Heed the sage advice: Agree with thine adversary quickly…and get it in writing. Be safe, not sorry.

Then let the wine, the music and the moon work their magic. That’s what they’re for.

Bud Hearn
July 10, 2015

Friday, July 3, 2015

Birth of a Republic…a Remembrance

Nations, like individuals, have birthdays. July 4, 1776 is the date on the birth certificate of America. Thomas Jefferson wrote and signed it.


Revolutions change landscapes. They are not won by ideology but by blood. Without the shedding of blood there is no birth. So it was with the birth of America. The bloody war with England culminated in the advent of a Child of Liberty.

Lincoln harked back to the tenets of this nation’s birth when he wrote the Gettysburg Address. Excerpts follow:

“Four score and seven years ago our Fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

It continues: “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.”

His rhetoric stirred the soul of this new nation, even as it stirs our collective soul today. National and world conflicts continue. Blood of our patriots continues to run red on our soil and on foreign shores. The price of Liberty is eternal vigilance. It comes at a terrible cost.

The concept of liberty pulsates in the hearts and minds of all people. These ideals of a personal liberty were eloquently penned in the birth certificate. It remains America’s most cherished symbol of liberty.

Forgive a crude analogy, but it could be inferred that America was immaculately conceived by the ethereal Concept of Liberty as its Father, and England as its Mother. Like children, maturity comes in ways both similar and different than their parents.

However, there remains always an atavistic and familial resemblance to both parents. This child, America, embodies similitudes of both ‘father’ and ‘mother’ in its struggle to mature. As we wonder what our own children’s legacy will be, so do we collectively wonder the same of our Republic.

There’s a story about Alexander Graham Bell. He and a friend observed a hot air balloon breaking the gravitational pull of the earth in France. It rose slowly, attained a significant height and drifted over a tree hedge. It plunged in a field where peasants worked. In panic they attacked the balloon with pitch forks. Change often evokes such responses.

The friend asked, “Now, what good was this experiment? It ended in failure.”

Dr. Bell replied, “What good is any newborn baby?” So it is with America. It continues to mature.

J. G. Magee, an American aviator and poet, wrote these stirring words:

“I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, and danced with the sky on laughter and silver wings.…”

America, The Child of Liberty, has transcended Magee’s inspiring words. It is now soaring into full maturity.

How can we define our Republic today? Descriptions differ. Some depict it as a nation of junkies, drunk on oil from frozen tundra of North Dakota to the vines of Sodom in the fields of Gomorrah. Others claim its culture is one of excessive commercialism, the aphrodisiac of entitlement.

Some suggest the pervading pursuit of wealth turns us into herds of demon-possessed swine, rushing headlong en masse over the abyss of debt. Others lament the loss of jobs, trade treaties, and the hangover hegemony of Colonialism inherited from our ‘mother’s’ side of the family. No one fails to mention the insidious cycle of poverty and a perpetual welfare underclass. Oh, so many voices.

Others remind us of the technological genius that has broken down the walls of status quo and created new systems of scientific and economic paradigms. Still others see America exporting ideals of freedom to enslaved peoples of this world. America is constantly birthing yet more Children of Liberty.

Lincoln at Gettysburg looked beyond the carnage of a bloody Civil War and envisioned the future of America in a larger context. With words he sought to galvanize our disparate liberties into a more cohesive and nationalized whole. He wrote:

“…(T)hat this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” Can any words inspire more than these?

Of a truth, no nation on this earth has successfully existed into perpetuity. Perhaps it’s just a dream. But, dear Children of Freedom, living “under God” is a legacy of freedom to future generations. It is a dream worth dreaming.


Tennyson wrote these words in his poem, In Memoriam:

“…(T)hat men may rise on stepping stones of their dead selves to higher things.”

Are there more profound words than these to remind us of our glorious heritage?

Happy Birthday, America.

Bud Hearn
July 3, 2015

Friday, June 26, 2015


Botanical gurus think oranges are the fruit that fall from the Tree of Life. There may be credence to this thought. But often they come with too many strings attached.


This morning I’m having an orange for breakfast to test the merit of this fact. It takes an eternity to pull its strings off. Everything comes with strings attached.

Age teaches that the Tree of Life produces its own share of strings. Its garden is a phantom of mythic proportions. It grows tares along with wheat. Like the proverbial box of chocolates, one knows only when they take a bite.

It takes on the same aura of Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, said to be located in the vicinity of Tallahassee, FL. Having grown up nearby, I can assure you that Tallahassee is noted for producing short-lived, pontificating politicians who do Botox and who occasionally run for President.

The Tree of Life is dangerous. In fact, most trees are dangerous. Some have found themselves hanging by the neck from one. Quick adjudication avoids stringing justice along. Of course, these unfortunates would have observed it from a safe but ethereal distance. Be careful what you eat from this tree.

Based on the consequences of its fruit, one might suspect the gardener had ulterior motives in planting it in the center of the orchard. I’ll bet it was of the genus of Kardashian, a seductive Venus robed in leaf’s clothing that sheds regularly.

It probably produced beautiful but provocative blossoms in the spring, like the cherry trees in Washington. Beauty often disguises the dangers inherent in the allure of perfume and glamour, not to mention the perilous but captivating political prigs who wear baggy pant suits.

There’s a perpetuating myth about the first person who set foot in this particular garden. Rumor has it that a female was the culprit who ill-advisably set into motion this current world’s mess. Just rumor. Had there been emails in this era, she would probably have kept hers on a secret server. Red lipstick and illicit cash keep a lot of strings hidden.

Poetic license can expose a lot of strings. But like the string of consequences from most lusty appetites, there’s always a willing co-conspirator. In balancing the debacle and casting blame equitably, remember that the dumb farmer gobbled up his share of the enchanting orange, strings and all.

‘Dumb farmer’ is a condescending term. It’s best applied in rare instances where innuendos suggest culpability. There’re many kinds of farmers. Fish farmers, worm farmers, peanut farmers and Colorado seed farmers. A few farmers even sow words. The ‘word farmers’ are not agronomists of this genre. Colorado crops notwithstanding, they know that speaking fees produce lucrative cash crops with less work than anything else.

All oranges, of course, are covered with a thick, but pliable skin. Ostensibly this is for protection from enemy. Everything has enemies. Just today, for example, the paper carrier entered this category. Not only is the news in the shrubs again, but it was bathed by an irrigation sprinkler. This should be the fate of most news these days.

Some orange skins are relatively easy to peel. Such is the thick-skinned but malleable Mandarin orange I’m currently enjoying. Unlike its cousins, the thin-skinned navels, the Mandarin sheds its clothing almost as fast as a nudist peels off for the pool.

The thin-skinned variety reminds me of certain people---usually small and full of seeds. Not all seeds are bad. The medicinal Colorado seeds, for example. Like pharmaceuticals, they come with long strings attached.

But orange seeds, well, they’re only good for one thing—spitting. Like melons, eating these oranges requires a lot of it. Young boys love to spit. Girls have not perfected the technique. It’s a necessary male rite of passage from puberty.

As boys age they ape adult men and tote pocket knives. Carving a hole in an orange allows one to suck out the juice. It’s the shortcut to avoid the seeds inside. Reminds one of the great sucking sounds of government entitlement programs. The public treasury is good compost. Just saying.

It’s tempting to peel away the layers of things and expose the strings attached. Money, prestige, power, beauty, lust…but why? Knowing too much is often a curse.


Strings are attached to everything. We have no choice in the matter. Life comes packaged this way.

And come to think about it, so does Love. For better or worse, take it or leave it.

Bud Hearn
June 26, 2015

Friday, June 19, 2015

Cutting Corners

When does it begin, this business of cutting corners? My first recollection was in 4th grade. I had scribbled the math answers in the textbook before the oral exam. Things got ugly afterwards. So much for shortcuts.


Along the way, cutting corners becomes habitual. It has a way of searing the conscience, which finally capitulates and rolls over like a dying roach.

The habit is harmless enough in youth. Shortcut paths across a neighbor’s grass are fine, kept at that. But open windows invite youthful curiosity. Voyeurism is a light sleeper. Some learning curves mature best over time.

There’s a bias in human nature that wants to round the corners of life. It lends credence that the earth is round, not square, though possibly triangular. This epiphany dawned on me several years ago while strolling across the commons of an Ivy League campus.

This august university is the progenitor of Progressivism, a mosh pit of Socialist thought. The place literally reeks of money. It boasts the largest number of billionaires in this country. The annual endowment of $36 billion rivals the speaking fees of the Clinton machine. It gives new meaning to their motto, Veritas. Sorry, got off track.

College Commons are typically square plots of grass. They’re designed for a nature experience, but mostly used for smoking and hooking up. What’s peculiar is that they are crisscrossed with triangles. One can only surmise that this particular institution wished to eliminate foot traffic from cutting corners and rutting the greenery. Enough rutting goes on there as it is.

Cutting corners is a sign of something—lazy comes to mind. Sometimes it’s expedient, like poking a thumb-in-the-eye of protocol. Taking shortcuts is not a bad thing necessarily, like slipping out the side door after church to avoid shaking the preacher’s germ-ridden hand.

Politicians, like most lawyers, have perfected the proliferation of shortcuts. No ink on paper avoids jail time and forestalls years of future litigation. Simple pointing, winks and nods are a superior form of writing between the lines. Legal legerdemain, so to speak.

But watch yourself when taking shortcuts with your government. It has sharp elbows and is a vicious machine with a long memory. It consists of tiny square boxes, each with a number and one for everybody. Its intent is to cram us in ours, tighten the screws and watch us squirm.

Its arcane statues are whips. They lash us. Its laws are nooses. They constrain our creative passions. Culture is its diversion, its circus clown. Its dance, its incessant drip, drip, drip of secular values, hypnotizes us. Our very souls swoon, mesmerized by its music of more money.

Conventionality is a death trap, disguised as a king in royal apparel. It’s the don’t-step-out-of-line cultural rebuke to iconoclasts who relish ripping the robes and revealing the Emperor’s nakedness. Individuality threatens vested interests.

Entrenched ideas and bureaucracy are enemies of shortcuts. Grid off the world into harsh corners…but the human spirit will continue to take the hypotenuse route of triangles. Try as any may, the human spirit cannot be defeated. It ever seeks the better way. Cutting corners finds them.

A couple of years ago, at age 72, I decided to take up the violin. My instructions to the teacher were, “Show me the fundamentals. I’ll take it from there.” Rebellious natures die hard.

To her credit, she’s a disciple of ‘the right way’—structured note-reading music. Her method didn’t suit me. Too much effort, not enough time. So I take the shortcut, using my ear for musical creativity. It seems to have worked, although it forever tortures Beethoven’s masterpiece, Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.

Last Sunday the New York Times printed excerpts from a few college commencement speakers. To a person their message to graduates warned against becoming stereotypical, and to follow their innate passions. Maybe there’s hope yet for more triangles.


In the end, we each decide which corners to cut, which shortcuts to take, which rounding of the square that suits us.

But no matter how you slice the pie, it’s always a Triangle. Live dangerously, cut corners. But remember, in spite of all our efforts, a shortcut way to heaven has yet to be found. Stay with ‘the right Way.’

Bud Hearn
June 19, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

Something from Nothing

“….the earth was without form, and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”
Genesis 1:2

Some days are like being inside a cloud of thick fog—all white nothingness. Attempts to mentally find anything of substance are impossible.

It must have been on one of those days the poet wrote, “(V)ague and nebulous is the beginning of all things, but not its end.” Or something similar. Poets play with vague concepts. Yet, in that white chaos, it’s helpful to realize that haze is full of promise, just waiting to be discovered.

Deadlines for writers hover like death. They sit looking at an empty computer screen or a blank sheet of paper, searching for something to write. In those days ideas are harder to find than hen’s teeth.

For about nine years my Thursdays have begun by staring at an empty sheet of paper, or a set of white computer pixels that make the screen appear blank. This is the genesis of this Absurdity.

Empty is always the beginning. There’s just something about a blank slate that craves input. It calls, “Put something on me ~ words, numbers, drawings ~ or fold me into the shape of an airplane and sail me. Do something with me, now!”

Imagine being a blank sheet of paper. How would it feel if your life went unused, just wadded up and pitched at trash cans? Or run through a shredder to make parade confetti or other such ephemera posing as momentous events. Please! A blank sheet has infinite possibilities.

Everything starts out blank. We did, too ~ some may still be! So did this planet. Think of the untold number of possibilities that existed at the Big Bang of Creation. Imagine what could come from a totally blank universe page. Now look at it. Think of each person’s beginning as a blank sheet of paper. Impossible to comprehend with a finite mind.

All pages begin equal, but some more equal than others. Some become important, like The Bible, The Constitution, or The Gettysburg Address. Some amount to absolutely nothing. Some would be downright frightening ~ like fodder crammed into The New York Times.

I prefer blank computer screens. It eliminates the eraser and wipes the slate clean with no consequence. And ink on paper is better than pencil lead. Imagine a fancy invitation scribbled in pencil. Pencils, like flip phones, are relics of another era. Its devolution is rendered thusly: “Let’s pencil in the appointment instead of ‘ink it in.’”

Blank pages have other possibilities. Suppose someone has trashed you with some malicious gossip ~ why, you can write you several scathing replies, take out your anger and frustrations on paper and then trash them in the nearest shredder. There, don’t you feel better?

Blank bank deposit tickets provide wonderful possibilities. Sometimes when I’m bored I take a blank one and write insanely huge amounts on it. Pretending to be wealthy is better than caffeine. I envision myself presenting it to a bank teller, especially one showing a deposit of $10 billion dollars to my account. Imagine their shock. Sadly, this dream has yet to materialize.

That brings up another subject. Bank accounts. They can begin small with very little written on the deposit ticket, like $10.00. Yet, a bank account has the capacity to enlarge itself to infinity. It can’t be filled to capacity.

All of which may lead one to the ultimate use of paper ~ to print cash currency. This paper is highly decorative and has the effect of creating more emotional fervor than all the paper in the world. Yet, the irony is that while it starts out as a blank page, its value is based on nothing but a fiat faith ~ a huge blank page.

Many of us may be writing more checks than deposit tickets these days. But may I suggest a superior endeavor? Grab your blank page of faith and write something on it. Perhaps it is nothing more than a short note to a friend, a card to a child or a check to a charity. Your words will make your paper very happy, as well as the recipient.

A blank sheet of paper is a terrible thing to waste.

Bud Hearn
June 12, 2015