An expert concurs with me.

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“Our ancestors could make two kinds of mistakes: (1) thinking there was a tiger in the bushes when there wasn’t one, and (2) thinking there was no tiger in the bushes when there actually was one. The cost of the first mistake was needless anxiety, while the cost of the second one was death. Consequently, we evolved to make the first mistake a thousand times to avoid making the second mistake even once.” – Dr. Rick Hanson, Hardwiring Happiness

“Adaptations are structures or behaviors that allow efficient use of the environment. So it’s not hard to assume that at least a few monkeys in the pack adapted to be on the lookout for jaguars. Some may even have become preoccupied with this responsibility. The packs of monkeys who had at least one member who adapted to become watchful and vigilant for jaguar attacks? Survived, and propagated. The packs of monkeys who did not adapt? Jaguar chow.” – Me, August 2013

I need a Junior Woodchuck Guide.


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Each month Donald Duck’s nephews, Huey, Dewey, and Louie, would find themselves in the middle of a full-tilt comic book adventure.

When things got completely hopeless, when the forces of chaos seemed sure to win, they always pulled off a miracle. Out of their knapsack came their infallible guide and problem-solver, The Junior Woodchuck Guide. It had an absolutely perfect, creative solution for every situation they stumbled into, no matter how obscure or difficult.

It was the complete guide to life.

Since then, I have passionately sought those rare volumes of chuckery that surface in the real world. – Nicholas Lore, author, The Pathfinder

Worst. Cookbook. Ever.

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Past masters: Kurt Vonnegut

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From the Letters Of Note blog:

“In October of 1973, Bruce Severy — a 26-year-old English teacher at Drake High School, North Dakota — decided to use Kurt Vonnegut’s novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, as a teaching aid in his classroom. The next month, on November 7th, the head of the school board, Charles McCarthy, demanded that all 32 copies be burned in the school’s furnace as a result of its ‘obscene language.’ Other books soon met with the same fate. On the 16th of November, Kurt Vonnegut sent McCarthy the following letter. He didn’t receive a reply.”

I was a senior in high school that fall. This was my age group Severy was trying to introduce to Vonnegut and Slaughterhouse-Five. One of those “it-can’t-happen-here” moments.

Past masters: Damon Runyon

One cold winter evening I am sitting in my easy chair reading a book, which is a very healthy pastime and a great character builder from all I hear. I wish to say I enjoy this book more than somewhat, as it is written by no one but a scribe known as Damon Runyon. At first Damon Runyon is known by all and everyone as a scribe in the newspaper dodge, and soon he begins to write stories about the guys and dolls such as are around and about Broadway.

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I am surprised no little that more citizens are not aware of the stories by the scribe Damon Runyon, as the guys and dolls such as are around and about Broadway are always of interest. A very popular television program in recent times tells the story of a family named Soprano, who reside in New Jersey and are known as coming guys in the waste management dodge. This is not a family which I will choose if I am doing the choosing, as I am a law-abiding citizen at all times, and am greatly opposed to citizens who violate the law. But before long it is clear that even citizens who violate the law have plenty of ticker and take care of their loved ones in their hearth and home in first-class style, at that.

And I wish to say that the guys and dolls in the stories by the scribe Damon Runyon also have plenty of ticker, and yet are ones of whom you would like to retain their friendship. You cannot help only to like these guys and dolls if you are an ordinary human being, such as has always liked hearing about such matters as influential citizens and wet merchandise.

Damon Runyon is such a scribe as can describe guys and dolls in ways you are not forgetting same. He writes as follows, and to wit:

“If I have all the tears that are shed on Broadway by guys in love, I will have enough salt water to start an opposition ocean to the Atlantic and Pacific, with enough left over to run the Great Salt Lake out of business. But I wish to say I never shed any of these tears personally, because I am never in love, and furthermore, barring a bad break, I never expect to be in love, for the way I look at it, love is strictly the old phedinkus.”

“I can see the old love light shining so brightly in their eyes that I get to thinking that maybe money does not mean so much alongside of love, at that, although personally, I will take a chance on the money.”

“When a guy is knocking around Broadway he is bound to accumulate dolls here and there, but most guys accumulate one at a time, and when this one runs out on him, as Broadway dolls will do, he accumulates another, and so on, and so on, until he is too old to care about such matters as dolls, which is when he is maybe a hundred and four years old, although I hear of several guys who beat even this record.”

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As should not be a surprise to anyone many motion pictures and plays are made from stories by the scribe Damon Runyon, including a well-known musical extravaganza known as “Guys And Dolls,” but I wish to say I do not care for any part of well-known musical extravaganzas, as I believe them to be the phonus bolonus. Although it is known far and wide that the motion picture of “Guys And Dolls” features a guy by the moniker of Brando, and another guy by the moniker of Sinatra, who are regarded as a couple of right gees at that.

So I suggest and recommend that you find and read the stories by the scribe Damon Runyon, as they are high-grade merchandise indeed, if you are such a citizen as will enjoy a good story. And I wish to say that if you do not enjoy them, then you must be such a citizen as will never enjoy much of anything in this world.

Kindle Touch 3G.

Christmas gift.


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That is all.

Past masters: “Uncle Shelby’s A B Z Book” by Shel Silverstein

I no longer can start my day without the transcendent, exquisite blog authored by Girl On The Contrary (or GOTC, as we fawning fanboys know her). If this were a just world she and I would sit together at the table each morning and she would read it to me over a breakfast of Grand Marnier French toast, Scottish smoked salmon, figs and cream with hazelnut syrup, freshly pressed Kopi Luwak coffee… and a bowl of Cap’n Crunch. Part of this complete breakfast. I’d smile beatifically at her and chuckle ardently over the parts I’d hear above the Crunch of the Cap’n. Such would be my devotion. But this isn’t a just world. Yet.

I digress. (Keep off digress! Goldang kids…)

What solidified my dedication to the contrary girl was a recent post wherein she revealed her love for the works of the estimable Shel Silverstein. She reviewed “Every Thing On It,” a just-published collection of not-yet-released poems and drawings.

Instantly I was catapulted back to grade 10, where my friend Randy Mikkelsen (read his blog, folks, it’s awesome) introduced me to Shel. Well, not literally (neither the catapulting nor the introduction).  He lent me his copy of “Uncle Shelby’s A B Z Book,” Shel’s first original collection from back in 1961. I was amazed. This was a subversive work. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that it helped shape my early moral judgments.

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I hadn’t even heard Shel’s name before that introduction. I had heard “The Unicorn” and “A Boy Named Sue” on the radio, “Boa Constrictor” sung in the schoolyard, and “Cover Of The Rolling Stone” hadn’t yet been recorded, and even so I hadn’t a clue that he had anything to do with any of them.

Wikipedia has this to say:

First published in 1961, it is sometimes described as “subversive.” The cover on some editions of the book read “A primer for adults only” while other editions read “A primer for tender young minds” instead. Much of the humor derives from a cynical drive to give the reader misleading, harmful advice.

Subversive indeed, in an empowering way for adolescents figuring out that what they were told as kids was not necessarily reliable. Examples tell the story better than I can.

“W” is for wish. Do you want to get your wish?

When your tooth falls out, put it under your pillow and make a wish. In the morning the tooth will be gone and there will be a shiny new dime under the pillow.

OK, now you have 10¢. How can you get $3.20?

– – –

“R” is for red. The fire is red. The fire engine is red. The fireman’s hat is red.

Does the fireman in the red hat come to your house in his red fire engine? No?

Too bad the fireman only goes to places where there is a fire.

– – –

“H” is for hole. See the hole. The hole is deep. You can bury things in the hole.

See the toaster. You can bury the toaster in the hole.

See the car keys. You can bury the car keys in the hole.

See Grandma’s teeth. See Daddy’s shoe. See Mommy’s diamond ring.

Oh-oh – – – little sister* sees you burying things in the hole. Maybe she will snitch on you and you will get a licking.

What else can you bury in the hole…..?*

– – –

“K” is for kidnapper. See the nice kidnapper. The kidnapper has a lollipop.

The kidnapper has a keen car. The car can go fast.

Tell the nice kidnapper that your daddy has lots of money. Then maybe he will let you ride in his car.

Subsequently I shared it with my best friend John, and he shared it with other friends, and so on and so on. Soon we all would recite long passages of it to one another, like secret passwords in the Underground Resistance. In much later life I have bestowed it as gifts to many, many new parents, more than I can count.

Later in life I enjoyed Shel’s more conventional works such as “Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back,” and “The Giving Tree,” and “The Missing Piece,” and “A Light In The Attic,” and “Where The Sidewalk Ends,” and many many more. But my introduction to Shel remains my favorite of his many creative works.

So again I must thank that lovely contrarian for allowing me this trip in the Way-Back Machine. I hope to return the favor some day.

Past masters: Max Shulman and “The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis”

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There are several books that I revisit and re-read from time to time, to get something new out of them. “Catch-22”, “One Hundred Years Of Solitude”, “Cat’s Cradle”, “Cannery Row”, “The Innocents Abroad”, the “Sandman” series are all on the list. But there’s one I discovered in junior high that shaped my early moral values and still makes me laugh like a fiend some 40 years later. “The Many Loves Of Dobie Gillis,” by Minnesota’s one and only Max Shulman. Click here for more.

Past masters: Douglas Adams

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“Sifting Through The Embers.” This story, the final chapter in Adams’ book “Last Chance To See,” has been on my mind lately. Read, discuss. Find it at the fine blog Cori’s Critter Chronicles.


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Past masters: John Steinbeck, “Cannery Row” (1945)

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“The boys stood in the kitchen and gathered quick impressions. It was obvious that (the Captain’s) wife was away – – the opened cans, the frying pan with lace from fried eggs still sticking to it, the crumbs on the kitchen table, the open box of shotgun shells on the breadbox all shrieked of the lack of a woman, while the white curtains and the papers on the dish shelves and the too small towels on the rack told them a woman had been there. And they were unconsciously glad she wasn’t there. The kind of women who put papers on shelves and had little towels like that instinctively distrusted and disliked Mack and the boys. Such women knew that they were the worst threats to a home, for they offered ease and thought and companionship as opposed to neatness, order, and properness. They were very glad she was away.”