arteejee

A site of satirical musings, commentary and/or rhetorical criticism of the world at large.

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Location: Southeastern, Pennsylvania, United States

Sunday, June 18, 2017

A Dad Memory



I have been trolling the Facebook pages today, and many of those appearing in my sphere are posting memories of their fathers.  I should be one of them, but I am not tech savvy enough to post a photo of my dear departed Daddy.  Instead I will reminisce about one memory when he was being mean, or so I thought at the time.

This memory also ties in nicely with my thoughts on the passing of Adam West last weekend.  His death came as a bit of a shock even though he was well in his eighties age-wise.   It’s just that I saw him live for the first time last April at a Three Stooges Convention, and he seemed wonderfully healthy and spry for a man of his years.  West qualified as a guest since he was the leading man in the Stooges last feature film, The Outlaws is Coming.

During the question and answer period of his presentation, West recounted how he was on the set of the film when he learned that he had gotten the lead role in a new television series, Batman.  West explained that one of his costars, Moe Howard, warned him that such a role could typecast him.  Moe turned out to be correct in the long run, but West took on the role and achieved television immortality.

Batman premiered in early 1966 and I was hooked immediately along with millions of other American children.  His adventures became a part of my world: I lived for Batman and Robin two nights every week - remember that the hour long episodes were divided into two parts on successive nights which introduced me to the drama concept known as the cliff hanger - and The Three Stooges every afternoon.  I did not ask for much more than to watch these shows in peace.

One of West’s obituaries recounted his comments in an interview how he was eager to do the type of comedy which the role of Batman offered.  Comedy?  Batman a comedy?  This is sacrilegious!  Batman to me was always real life!  It was never a comedy in my mind, and every adult in my life obliged me with this fantasy.  Of course every adult in my life knew that I was too young to understand another concept of drama known as camp.

Anyway, this story started out being about Dad.  Somewhere around the fourth week of the first season my brother and I did something which he felt merited some sort of punishment.  I don’t recall what we did; we were after all always perfect angels!  The punishment Dad meted out was we could not watch Batman that week!

How cruel!  How unfair!  This was my favorite part of the week!  How could he do this to us?  

Nevertheless we were sent to bed early so that we could not be up for the 8:00P start time of the new episode with Mr. Freeze as the guest villain.  Dad made sure that we would not sneak out of bed:  he stayed in our room until he was sure we had fallen asleep.  I know this because I woke up, tried to get out of bed, and was forced back down when Dad saw me.

Drat!

It took a long while for me to forgive him for what I felt was an unjust punishment.  Over time I realized the lesson he was teaching me: I needed to prioritize my life so I could be a success in life.  In this case getting a good night’s sleep was more important than some television show.  There may have been other things he wanted me to learn from that experience, but that is the lesson which has remained with me.

The next week I got to watch my precious television show and continued to do so until the mean executives at ABC canceled the show two years later.   I enjoyed it throughout its initial run - comedy, camp or not.  Looking back from the perspective of a middle-aged male mind, I can see how silly it was.  After all, the plots and dramatic situations were grounded in a comic book fantasy world of super heroes and super villains.  It was a world we escaped to in a society filled with racial tensions and the surreal nightmare many young people faced in a far away and all too real land known as Vietnam.

So this weekend I will say Dad, I miss you.   Adam West, Rest in Peace.

(Thank you for reading.  “To the Bat Poles!!!!!”)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Crumbling Icon



Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial here in Montgomery County has gone to the jury.  The aging comedian was probably caught by surprise that this trial has come this far.   He probably believed that he had put the incident behind him since he and the victim had come to a monetary settlement years ago. 

Somehow the local district attorney decided that justice was not fully served and charged Cosby with a criminal complaint.  I thought that there might be a question of double jeopardy, but apparently that concept did not apply here.

So much for my limited knowledge of the law.

Whatever the outcome, I hope everyone is satisfied with the jury’s final verdict this time.  I also hope that even if Cosby’s personal reputation is tarnished, that the good parts of his legacy will endure.  Yes, the messenger turned out to be a serial sexual predator, but the messages he conveyed over the years about getting an education should be salvageable. 
 
Here is where commentators will insert the “heroes with feet of clay” cliché. Cosby enjoyed a squeaky clean image through the years.  Now we find—and here’s another cliché—that this image was too good to be true.  We shouldn’t have been surprised by any the allegations lodged against Cosby in the last few years.

First, let me say this: I don’t want to believe that Bill Cosby is a rapist.   I can believe it because I know the darkest ideas and thoughts of any other man, but I don’t want to believe it.  There is a difference.

Second, I should reveal that I am familiar with all the emotions associated with sexual assault.  The first woman I ever dated had been raped mere weeks before we met.  I witnessed the hurt and anger she suffered in the aftermath of the attack.  I can empathize with Cosby’s accusers, many of whom came forward years after the incidents and years after criminal prosecution was possible and/or allowed.

Many people are questioning why his accusers came forward 40 and 50 years after the fact.  The reasons could be varied and complicated.   Many may have felt that their stories would not have been believed.  After all, Bill Cosby was allowing America to forget their problems for awhile as he recounted his stories of growing up in North Philadelphia.   And when he wasn’t doing that he was teaching young people how to read (PBS' The Electric Company) and moral values on the weekends (Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids).

Who would believe their stories?  Ironically, they are probably now experiencing the same result anyway.   Who can believe them about events that happened decades ago?  The greatest counter argument to this is the consistency among all of the women’s accounts.

In Cosby’s case, we should recall that before he created Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids, he had the image of a playboy. Yes, a playboy with a wife and family at home.  A successful comedian sporting a bushy mustache and smoking cigars, who guest hosted an innovative talk show in the late 60s called Playboy After Dark.   He shared hosting duties with Hugh Hefner (the show was set in Hef’s penthouse pad) more times than any other guest in the history of the show. 
 
A typical episode would feature interviews with celebrities of the day, music provided by the likes of Anthony Newley and Sammy Davis Jr. to the Ike Turner Revue (complete with Tina and the Ikettes) and Iron Butterfly.  And oh yes, of course, they were beautiful women everywhere.

The Playboy bunnies did not add much to the intellectual side of the proceedings.  They were hired to look sexy, laugh at guest’s jokes, or (in the case of guest Louis Nye), drape themselves casually over his shoulder.   If you’re reading this and smiling, then obviously you remember Nye’s nebbish persona.  Let’s put it this way: one could never imagine a beautiful woman anywhere near Louis Nye given the character he played wherever he appeared.

Don’t believe me?  Look up the episodes on YouTube and prepare to be enlightened or shocked.

But this was the acceptable form of humor back in those days:  the opposite sex portrayed as not totally a person, but an object.  We can now put a name on this era:  the Mad Man period of the 20th century.  It was an amalgamation, or perhaps more of a mash up, colliding the traditional values of men and women in society against the rise of feminism.  Couple this with Cosby suddenly thrust into the limelight of Hollywood with its infamous casting couch culture, and perhaps we can see how a man with otherwise honorable values could throw caution (and everything else for that matter) to the wind.

Of course we could probably include a possible narcissistic personality disorder in Cosby’s case.  Or could it be simply arrogance which would make him believe that he could get away with these attacks?  Regardless of his possession of personal psychoses, there can be no denial that the entertainment industry fed him the notion that he could no wrong.

And we, his fans in turn, fed the industry that fed the upright moral man who we now learn caved into mankind’s darkest and cruelest tendencies.

So why should we be so shocked at the stories?  Why should we feel disappointment at whatever the jury decides?  We should have seen this downfall coming, but we did not, or chose not to see it.

Whatever, a larger point today* is this: many of us are still refusing to see all too obvious flaws in our national leadership.  Many of us are setting ourselves up again for a major disappointment.

*Most of this entry was written in February of 2016.  I never got around to posting it until today.

(Thank you for reading. Prepare to be…let down!)

Tuesday, June 06, 2017

Health Update #3 – After the Cath



So much is happening this week and so much to write about.  The mainstream media is now throwing all political caution to the wind and pronouncing POTUS “mad” and “crazy’  for his insensitive tweets regarding the latest terrorist attack in London.   No note of condolence or encouragement, just an ill-timed statement that politicized the tragedy and pissed off the mayor of London and the British PM.

WTF?

Have no fear, fellow liberals!  Fired FBI director James Comey is scheduled to testify in Congress in a few days.  Many are expecting that he will hammer in the first nails in the coffin of the Herr Orange presidency.  And it will be televised like the Watergate hearings 44 years ago.  Gather your loved ones and cook the popcorn for must-see TV history in the making!   If I wasn’t recovering from cardiac surgery I would surely include nasty chips and dip, but sigh…

Also, Bill Cosby’s trial for sexual assault is happening in a court room three miles from my house!  There have been some comparisons made between Cosby’s case and the O.J. Simpson trial in the 90s, but hopefully the Cosby trial won’t deteriorate into a circus. 

Unfortunately all this will be put on the back burner for now, as I have a tale to finish.

We last left the Gunthers (Warrior Queen et moi) discussing my case with a cardiologist at the hospital when the physician explained that my problem was electrical in nature.  I knew where he was going with this and so I was not surprised when he uttered the word pacemaker shortly after.  He went on to explain more details while I thought about the last few months and all the episodes of light-headedness and being out of breath.  I concluded that I have had enough of all that and let’s get this over with once and for all.  The implant procedure for the pacemaker was quickly scheduled for the next day.

In the meantime, the hospital dietary department moved me to a heart healthy menu.  Now I needed to mind my carbs more than my sodium intake.  A dietician had come to visit me earlier in the week about watching sodium in the future; now Warrior Queen was present when another dietician came to my room with a lecture about counting carbs to curb my borderline diabetic condition.  We got some very helpful suggestions which could ultimately also help both of us lose weight.

At least one suggestion will need to be modified with (pun intended) a grain of salt.  The dietician suggested that such food like pizza be reserved for special occasions.

Pizza?  Special occasions?  WTF?

Truthfully, we are both enthusiastic about losing weight, but we will need to use up the nasty stuff already in our pantry first before we plunge ahead into our new diets.  There is also a conflict between having fresh fruits to avoid carbs, yet not eat fresh fruits because the sugar in the fruit is bad for diabetic condition.

WTF dieticians?  Why don’t you two take your discussion out to the parking lot while we discuss our options here in my room?  Let us know what you decide.  In any event, it may boil down to compromise between the two extremes. We will have to modify these suggestions to get the best effect of both worlds.

The implant on Thursday, June 1, went off without any complications.   I remember receiving more sedation then I had for the cath procedure and a number of blue tarps being placed over my head and face.  I don’t think I was totally out during the implantation, but I remember more about the uncomfortable hours after the procedure.   

I was given a diuretic to assist me void my bladder of excess fluid.  It was uncomfortable because I could not move out of bed for several hours and thus facilitate my urination.  Finally the time passed, I stood up and - without getting too technical or graphic - I felt much relief.  

Warrior Queen worked another half day on Friday when everyone expected that I should be released.  This was another round of “Hurry Up and Wait for the Cardiologist or Somebody like Him”.  In the meantime, there was a parade of aides to take my vitals, nurses to administer my daily meds and another shot of diuretic, a visit from a medical equipment rep to review with me all I needed to know to start the communicator device I would use with my pacemaker, and someone from housekeeping to mop up the floor. 

The cardiologist finally appeared late in the afternoon and Warrior Queen was able to take me home where our cats sniffed me only to walk away like I had never been away at all.   Thanks girls, for putting everything in perspective.

(Thank you for reading.  “And that is how we came to fly to America...”

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Health Update #2, or As Janey Would Say, “The Saga Continues”



“And a new adventure begins,” were my exact words to Warrior Queen as our car turned out of our driveway and she drove me to the nearest emergency room.  This occurred at 1:15 AM on Tuesday, May 30.  Yes, you read that time correctly, AM.  Warrior Queen was not amused to be awoken at this time of day, but after I told her I was startled out of a sound sleep with chest pains at 1:00 (AM again) she was game for the drive to the hospital.

I should digress at this point to warn the young ones reading this not to make a habit of waking up your Warrior Queen in the middle of the night if it is not an emergency.  I think this scenario is covered in the Warrior Queen Care and Maintenance, But Not-By-Any-Means an Owner’s Manual in the section entitled “DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME.”  You could cause permanent damage to yourself or your WQ, not to mention damage inflicted on yourself by a grumpy/groggy/grouchy WQ.

We now digress back to the saga in progress.

Once in the emergency room I uttered the magic words, “Chest pain”, and I was wheel-chaired back to an emergency room pod/stall within seconds.  Over the next few hours various tests and the obligatory chest x-ray were performed.  Somewhere along the way I was hooked up to a cardiac monitor, which I wore for the remainder of my stay. The hospital staff was alerted to the fact of my pending catherization within a few days and there was something said about the procedure may have to be moved up. 

This was the news I was hoping to hear.  In recent months my light-headed episodes and shortness of breath issues had gone on too long, and I wanted something/anything done to alleviate my condition as soon as possible. By 4:30AM I was in my own room at Einstein East Norriton, where patients do not share a room with other patients.

Over the course of the morning several nurses would come in to check my vitals, and a few doctors would come in to offer their thoughts on my situation. One announced that my catherization would now happen sometime that very afternoon and I, therefore, would not be allowed any further nourishment or liquid until the procedure was completed.  At this point Warrior Queen returned home to feed our cats, shower, and go to work.

Alas, the rest of the world had to go on without my meager contribution that day.

The catherization was originally scheduled for June 8, then June 1, but finally happened on May 30 with the intention of diagnosing a possible artery or stent blockage.  No blockages were found, but the surgeon seemed concerned that there may be a blockage with my aortic valve.  An echo cardiogram was scheduled for the next day to confirm this.  I was sent back to my room where I amused myself watching television, channeling back and forth between Turner Classic Movies and MSNBC where the implosion of our current regime was being analyzed in micro-detail.

All the while the cardiac monitor (remember the cardiac monitor?) was transmitting data to another location inside the hospital.

While engaging in the game of “Hurry Up and Wait for a Visit from a Physician” I napped, watched television, and ordered my meals from the hospital room service.  My first breakfast from the Low Sodium diet menu was an omelet with fried potatoes, toast, but no cereal as the egg, potato and toast put me over my sodium limit.   The omelet was good, but how come everyone has forgotten the skill of frying potatoes until they are soft and brown, i.e. thoroughly cooked for digestion.   I made a mental note to avoid the potatoes in the future.  

The echo cardiogram was done in my room late in the morning on Wednesday.  I have had this procedure before and I do not look forward to them.  I don’t mind the coldness of the gel, but the hard press of the device against my chest and abdomen gets annoying after 15-20 minutes.  Warrior Queen worked a half day and was there by 1:30PM.  Now we both played the “Hurry Up and Wait” game for the cardiologist to come and tell us what would happen next.

The cardiologist finally appeared about 3:30PM and offered a detailed explanation of my procedures so far.  He reviewed the results of the catherization with us, explained that the echo cardiogram ruled out a blockage of the aortic valve (yay!), and then went on to explain that my problem was more “electrical” than with the “plumbing” or valves and arteries.

Huh-oh.

To be continued….

(Thank you for reading this far.)