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Five months into the COVID-19 epidemic, and other than a weekly errand or two to the supermarket to keep the larder stocked, my only outing these days continues to be my daily run/walk around the block.
Every day, often twice a day (three times a day is not unheard of), I run and/or walk through the neighborhood. I usually go at around 9:30 am, though sometimes I go at 6:45 am and other times at 8:30 pm because I like seeing the changes in the light from sunrise to mid-morning to sunset. When one is travelling the same route day after day one starts noticing and appreciating things like variations of light and color in the landscape.
And one starts noticing and having more of an appreciation of other things, too, such as the decorative flora that one's neighbors have so considerately planted in their yards for the visual enjoyment of the passers-by,
..and the equally enjoyable yard art.
I've especially become an afficionado of yard flamingos in all their variety and ubiquity.
And then there are the signs that have been popping up in yards in support of the Presidential candidates, one always inducing a flutter of optimism the other a shudder of gloom.
But lately there have been other kinds of signs appearing in the yards of my neighbors. One day I saw this one on a front lawn,
...then another day on another lawn this one appeared,
...then sometime later on yet a different lawn I noticed this one.
Day by day, yard by yard, I'm seeing these signs multiplying throughout my neighborhood.
And I wonder if my neighbors have any idea of how much, every time I pass by, their signs fill my heart with hope.
Things are seldom what they seem.
"Hail Mary" by Patti Liszkay
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...Continued from yesterday:
Years before Marcel Marceau achieved fame in the art of silence he was a member of the French Resistance during World War II who was fluent in French, German and English. After the Americans landed in France in 1944 he was recruited by the French army for his linguistic skills and assigned to the position of liaison officer with General George Patton's army.
If the Americans were impressed with the young French liaison officer's talent for languages, they also took note of his genius for acting, and after the liberation of Paris Marceau was asked to entertain the troops. He gave his first major pantomime performance in an army tent before an audience of 3,000 U.S. soldiers. And so Marcel Marceau, who would go on to become the world's most famous mime, was first discovered by the United States army .
As it turned out, there was someone else who was also discovered around that same time by the American Army.
After the war, among the Nazi war criminals being hunted by the French government was German SS officer Klaus Barbie, known as "The Butcher of Lyons" because of his cruel torture of Jewish adults and children and suspected members of the Resistance during the German occupation of France. (See previous post, "Silent Hero").
Klaus Barbie was directly responsible for the deaths of 14,000 people during World War II.
Barbie was found in 1947, not by the French, but by the American army. However rather than turn Klaus Barbie over to the French government, the U.S. Army Counterintelligence Corps decided to sign him on as an informer. Barbie was clandestinely put up in a hotel in Germany and paid $1700 a month by the American Government to help gather information on Communist activity in Europe. In 1947 $1700 a month was a small fortune.
In 1950, after the French learned that that The Butcher of Lyons was being protected and paid by the Americans in Germany, the U.S. intelligence services, likely out of embarrassment, arranged with the help of the Vatican for Klaus Barbie to flee to Bolivia. There he went on to live and prosper greatly for 33 years, living a country club existence, traveling freely and occasionally visiting the United States, and doing business with drug cartels, dealing in arms, and serving as a collaborator with Bolivian government paramilitaries on how to most effectively use torture.
For years France tried to extradite Klaus Barbie but the Bolivian government protected him, and it wasn't until 1983, by which time Barbie was well into old age, that he was returned to France to stand trial in Lyons for his crimes.
Barbie was finally sentenced in 1987 to life in prison and four years later he died of cancer at age 77 in prison in Lyons. Klaus Barbie never repented and until the day he died remained a proud Nazi and supporter of Adolph Hitler. “I am proud to have been a commanding officer of the best military outfit in the Third Reich," he said, "and if I had to be born a thousand times again, I would be a thousand times what I’ve been.”
As for Marcel Marceau, who spent his life bringing joy and laughter to adults and children around the world.
...he had this to say about the choices he'd made in his life:
"The people who came back from the [concentration] camps were never able to talk about it. My name is Mangel. I am Jewish. Perhaps that, unconsciously, contributed towards my choice of silence.
"Among those kids (who were killed by the Nazis) was maybe an Einstein, a Mozart, somebody who (would have) found a cancer drug. That is why we have a great responsibility. Let us love one another."
Forget your troubles, c'mon get reading.
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Everybody knows Marcel Marceau, the world's most famous mime.
Even those who might not know his name are familiar with the signature white face and graceful balletic moves of the silent actor who had a gift, as he described it, for creating objects where there were none, making the invisible visible.
But who knew that Marcel Marceau was a World War II hero who fought with the French resistance and saved hundreds of Jewish children from the Nazis?
Not me until last Friday night when I watched on Amazon Prime the movie "Resistance,"
...which starred Jesse Eisenberg as the French Jewish butcher's son,
...who took on the mission of shepherding orphans whose parents had been murdered or taken away by the Nazi occupiers over the alps from France to Switzerland and safety.
As for the movie, critics generally panned it, not because it wasn't in and of itself a good movie, but because there was too much fictional drama dressing up the factual events.
Apparently the hairpin escapes and heart-thumping rescues in the movie were mostly made up,
(though one would think there must have been a considerable degree of danger in belonging to the Resistance in Nazi-occupied France and smuggling children over the Swiss border);
... and there was actually no romance between Marcel and a fellow French Resistance fighter (played by Clémence Poésy).
Marcel didn't have a teen-aged orphan side kick (Played by Bella Ramsey),
...and apparently his path never actually crossed that of Klaus Barbie (played to a terrifying tee by Matthias Schweighöfer ), the sadistic German Gestapo officer known as "The Butcher of Lyons."
But in spite of - or maybe because of - dramatic liberties taken, I thought "Resistance" was a terrific movie, engaging, exciting, heart-gripping. And in spite of the embellishments, it told a remarkable story of a remarkably good man - and a remarkably evil one.
Juxtaposed in the film with Marcel Marceau was Klaus Barbie,
...who took up residence with his lovely young wife and adorable baby daughter in a luxury hotel in Lyons, France, where he had a space converted into a sort of operating room where he personally tortured to death both adults and children.
The story of of Klaus Barbie's reign of terror in Lyons as told in the movie was accurate. The story of Marcel Marceau as a rescuer of children (in real life of men and women as well) was also true. What was not true in the movie was that the two carried out their missions of good and evil in the same locale.
"Resistance," however, took both their stories, Marcel Marceau's and Klaus Barbie's, and interwove them into an engaging and thought-provoking fable of good vs. evil and a film well worth watching.
In real life, as it turned out, the story took an incredible turn beyond what was told in the movie.
To be continued...
Forget your troubles, c'mon get reading!
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The United States Post Office was created by George Washington in 1792.
It's being destroyed by Donald Trump in 2020,
...in order to keep Americans from voting by mail in the midst of a raging epidemic.
The COVID-19 epidemic, which shows no signs of fading out any time soon, will keep many people from venturing to the polls to vote on election day. But Trump fears that if everyone can vote by mail then everyone will vote by mail, and they'll vote him out of office. He himself has said that if all voting in the United States was done by mail,
And so Trump's decimation of the United States Postal Service is his attempt at suppressing the American vote and throwing the election in his favor.
Bear in mind, COVID -19 epidemic aside, ever since Donald Trump came into power there has hung over the United States a concern for the possibility of an unfair 2020 Presidential election; of there being some degree of chaos whirling around the election process; of interference by foreign countries whose interests lie in having Trump re-elected; of Donald Trump or his allies causing national turmoil by disrupting, interfering with, or contesting the election results; of Trump refusing to leave the Oval Office if defeated. All of those outcomes seem well within the realm of possibility, even to those supporters of Donald Trump who would not object to any outcome that resulted in him being re-elected.
Which nonetheless begs the question: When, in the history of our democracy, have Americans ever had to worry that our Presidential election might be high jacked? When has there ever been such a degree of national anxiety over an election, not that one's candidate of choice might be defeated, but that the President of the United States is abusing the power of his office in an attempt to stay in power? And that he might succeed?
Which brings us back to voting by mail during the pandemic. Of course don't plan on voting in person on election day. It's too risky health-wise, not to mention that there may be a lack of able or willing poll workers on that day. But don't risk sending your ballot in the mail, either. Rather :
1. Go online - TODAY - and download and print off an absentee ballot request application for your state. (Unless you live in a state in which all citizens are automatically sent an absentee ballot, in which case, skip to #3).
2. Fill in the absentee ballot request application form - TODAY - and mail it to your county board of elections or county clerk or registrar. (Or follow the instructions per your state for returning the form to wherever it should be returned).
3. HERE'S THE IMPORTANT PART: After you've received your absentee ballot and filled it out, DO NOT mail it in; rather, TAKE IT IN PERSON TO YOUR COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS OR COUNTY CLERK OR REGISTRAR OR WHEREVER IT GOES AND DROP IT OFF IN PERSON BEFORE ELECTION DAY.
Look online to find out where the county board of elections or ballot drop-off location is in your county. Don't fret if there's only one ballot drop-off location in your county and it's an hour or two hours or three hours from your house. Don't fret if you have to travel all day to get there. Of course you won't have to travel all day to get there - probably - but even if you do it will be worth the effort - whatever effort it takes - to have your vote counted.
In the meantime, what a crime that Donald Trump is destroying the United States Postal Service and dragging our election to the level of a third-world dictatorship. But of course the good news is that We the People still have the power to save our postal service and our country - so long as we vote and do what we have to do to make sure our vote is counted.
"Hail Mary" by Patti Liszkay
"A hilarious, bizarre, sometimes ribald tale." -R. Bruce Logan, author of As The Lotus Blooms
"Liszkay continues to dazzle with fresh and funny characters from beginning to end." -Daniel B. Oliver, author of The Long Road
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Tell me, am I the only person who, up until three days ago, had no idea that they loved Kamala Harris?
Which isn't to say that I never loved Kamala. I actually did love her during the first Democratic debate back in June 2019 (See post form 6/28/2019, "The Air Is Hummin'").
I still remember the moment during that first debate when all the candidates started talking at once and she broke it up, putting up her hands and saying, "Hey, guys, you know what? America does not want to witness a food fight. They want to know how we're going to put food on their table." Touché, thought I, and at that moment I could absolutely see Kamala Harris as President. She had new ideas, she was energetic, passionate and exciting. She had sparkle.
But then, in truth, by the end of that first two-part debate I liked almost every one of the twenty candidates. Each of them brought new energy, excitement, passion and sparkle. At that time I could see any one of them as President,
...except for two of them: Marian Williamson whom I - along with most of the rest of the civilized world - thought was a bit, as the French would say, de trop;
...and Joe Biden, who I thought came across as a tad old and subdued.
Which only goes to show what I knew. Turned out that after three years under the chaotic, unpredictable, tilt-a-whirl Presidency of Donald Trump, new, exciting and sparkly wasn't what the majority of Americans were longing for.
And though Kamala Harris rocketed in the polls after that first debate, during which she'd gotten medieval on old Joe for racial policy sins from his past,
...over time and amidst the tremendous competition from the numerous other candidates her lead steadily fell, and by December she'd dropped out of the Presidential race. And Joe Biden, if short on the sparkle, continued on an upward path to his ascendancy as the Democratic Presidential Candidate.
And I, for one, forgot that I'd once loved Kamala Harris.
Of course Harris's name still appeared to be floating somewhere in the pool of potential candidates under consideration by Biden for his VP pick, but, one assumed, would hardly be under any serious consideration, not after the clocking she'd given him during the debate.
More interesting and discussion-worthy were the other women whose names we were hearing and wondering about: What about Staci Abrams? Val Demings? Elizabeth Warren? Gretchen Whitmer? Susan Rice? Karen Bass? Which one would be the best choice for Biden for a winning ticket? Which would be the best choice for President should it come to that?
(As for me, I was on Team Tammy Duckworth for a while).
Little did any of us know that while we all wondered, waited, opined and worried over who Joe Biden would chose for his running mate, behind closed doors it was Harris who was rising up, checked box by checked box, as the top choice for that position.
And yet when it was announced this past Tuesday that Kamala Harris would be Joe Biden's running mate the news was greeted by Biden's supporters with elation. It was as if the joining of two seemingly incompatible elements had produced some wonderful chemical reaction that fired us up and suddenly made it abundantly clear to us all that Harris was the best of all possible choices as the other half of a Biden ticket, the only choice all along.
And all of a sudden I love Kamala Harris, and Joe Biden for choosing her.
Spice up your reading.
It's been years, but once again, I find myself trying to solve the puzzle puzzle.
You know what I'm talking about, right? The dilemma of what to do with a jigsaw puzzle after you've finished putting it together.
Being myself a reformed jigsaw puzzle addict (see post from 2/7/2017, "Crocheting A Kitty Hat And A Tom Cat Hat"), the puzzle of what to do with a put-together puzzle used to be much more relevant for me back when I was puzzling and over-puzzling. (I haven't had a relapse since the time Tom and I were at the Columbus Art Museum and around the museum there were jigsaw puzzles of some of the paintings that patrons could stop and work on. See post from 2/22/2017: "The Big Four-Oh, Part 3: the Green Bean anniversary").
Anyway, years ago there used to be quite a lot of jigsaw puzzling going on at my house, thanks in no small part to myself. There was a large piece of cardboard perennially on our family room floor upon which the puzzles were constructed. It always seemed a shame, after all the work involved in the construction of a puzzle, especially a beautiful one, to quickly deconstruct it. I always puzzled over what next to do with the puzzle. Eventually I'd break the puzzle apart and put it back into its box, but what to do with it then? There's no fizz in reassembling a puzzle that one has previously assembled. On the other hand, it felt wasteful to throw out a perfectly good puzzle. And so the boxes of once-done puzzles sat on a shelf in the basement. For years.
Then I heard about puzzle glue, an adhesive that one spreads over the puzzle that causes the pieces to stick together. I saw this as a satisfying solution to the puzzle puzzle: the beautiful puzzles could now be preserved as a permanent picture.
But then, instead of boxes of used puzzles, I now had a stack of puzzle pictures. I tried framing and hanging a few, but how many puzzles does one need hanging on one's walls? Besides, the puzzles never really fit the standard sizes of poster frames.
I eventually swore off jigsaw puzzles and threw out all the old boxes of puzzles and the puzzle pictures, except for this one which my daughter did that still hangs in the basement:
And then the COVID-19 epidemic hit and here we go again.
So tell me, friends, all of you who've turned to jigsaw puzzles while sheltering place: What do you do with the puzzles after you've put them together? How do you solve the puzzle puzzle?
You can't read one without the other.
Yesterday we celebrated my daughter Theresa's birthday.
We kept the guest list small and the attire was face mask, social distancing required.
We wanted to eat out in the backyard, but as the weather was damp and overcast we were forced inside. The menu was my version of bibibop-buffet,
...each tribe taking turns at the food stations,
...and sitting on opposite sides of the dining room table and making the effort not to breath on each other.
When it was time for dessert we brought out the cakes. (We'd decided to make this a go-big-or-go-home event and so I bought two Costco cakes,
...the kind with the mousse filling, one vanilla and one chocolate).
Of course blowing out candles on a cake was out of the question; eating something upon which someone had sprayed droplets, aerosol, and, who knows, maybe even some escaped slobber, is totally unthinkable these days.
Which, when you think about it, begs the question: Why, even before COVID, did such an unsanitary, unsavory custom ever take hold in the first place?
This was a question we all found ourselves pondering at last night's birthday party, and our eyes were suddenly opened to the fact that something that the human race has been doing since time immemorial, something not even the most fastidious among us ever gave a thought to is actually...disgusting. Seriously, even when COVID is as forgotten as the Spanish Flu was up until a few months ago, can you see yourself ever again eating cake that someone has - ugh - blown on?
Anyway, that matter having been settled - that blowing out candles on a cake actually is now, has always been, and will always be gross - we then wondered, what about singing "Happy Birthday?" After all, we've been warned that singing is among the most effective ways of propelling those potentially dangerous aerosol droplets through the air.
We discussed the matter, and decided that rather than forgoing "Happy Birthday" altogether, we would sing very, very softly in our masks. Which we did.
Then Theresa took a candle into the kitchen and made her wish responsibly.
Read 'em and laugh.
The day before yesterday Donald Trump said the words - or rather, tweeted the words - that were - or should've been - the stuff nightmares for every American:
And whether the thought of Donald Trump pulling off a dictator-style cancellation of our country's presidential election fills you with terror or glee, isn't it a thought that has crossed everyone's mind a time or two or three? With Donald Trump in power, hasn't that very scenario seemed absolutely within the realm of possibility all along?
Never mind that the heretofore unthinkable act of an American President calling off an election so that he can hold on to power is illegal and unconstitutional; since when has illegal or unconstitutional behavior mattered for Donald Trump? During his presidency he's gotten away with hiding his financial assets, making money from business dealings with foreign entities, obstructing justice, attempted extortion of a foreign leader, and calling on foreign governments for help in defeating a political opponent, to name a few. He's gotten away with flagrant disregard for the laws of our country and the laws of human decency every day that he's held the office of President of the United States.
But the only reason Donald Trump gets away with breaking the law and violating the United States Constitution is because the people whose duty it is to uphold our laws and protect our Constitution, that is, the members of Congress,
...allow him to.
And so, though Donald Trump really has no power to do anything by himself, if the members of Congress who've been enabling him and empowering him opted not to stop him from cancelling the election, then what would stop him from cancelling the election?
For me and, I'm sure, for millions of other Americans, it was a frightening moment when Donald Trump verbalized - twitterized - the idea of delaying our Presidential election under the guise of promoting election security. Because words are the first step to making a thing happen, and Trump had now said the words.
Thank God members of Congress, even Trump's strongest allies there, immediately rose up as one to declare that under no circumstances would the 2020 American Presidential election be postponed to any other date than November 3, the Tuesday after the first Monday in November, in accordance with the law of our country. The Trump tweet that so much as hinted at the idea of tampering with our election was a tweet too far and this time not even his most sycophantic defenders would defend him.
by Patti Liszkay
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by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
"Equal And Opposite Reactions"
by Patti Liszkay
Buy it on Amazon:
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of German Village,
Or check it out at the Columbus Metropolitan Library
I am a traveler just visiting this planet and reporting various and sundry observations,
hopefully of interest to my fellow travelers.