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Lapse Dancer
Now why
did I
climb up
the stairs
and walk into this room?

Oh, right.
I came
to find...
a thing.
What thing?
Some thing
now lost.

So now
I walk
back down
to find
the thought.

It will
come to me
I know
if I only go
to where
I was
when I had it last.

Up and down
and up
and down.
How many times?
I can't remember.
Baseball vs. Soccer
It would no doubt be a useless exercise to try to compare baseball to soccer, so let’s get started.

Let me make clear from the beginning that I am a lifelong baseball fan. It is, after all, the Great American Pastime. That does not mean, however, that this piece will be a hatchet job on soccer. It is the national pastime of practically every other nation on earth, so it must be doing something right. No, it is my intention here to find a way, through comparing these two great sports, to find ways to improve on both.

Let’s start with the prohibition in soccer against using one’s hands or arms on the ball. We can all agree, I think, that this is a silly rule. We are a hands-centric species, so what sense does it make that we are not allowed to use them? Why eliminate such a potentially exciting dimension from the game? The sport is an English invention, so perhaps the answer lies there.

Baseball has a similar, though antithetical, problem. While there is nothing in the rules banning the use one’s feet to field and pass the ball, you almost never see a player do it. My guess is that the overwhelming power of tradition in baseball will not permit such a thing, nor will it allow the wearing of gloves on a player’s feet. And that is really a shame, because such practices would certainly liven up this slow-moving sport.

Which brings us to another parallel between baseball and soccer. To the uninitiated, they‘re both boring. There, I’ve said it, and it’s true. In one of them, they stand around all the time; in the other, they run around all the time. And that’s pretty much it. It’s a wonder anybody goes to the games. The problem, of course, is scoring — or the lack of it. Why can’t baseball and soccer be more like tennis, where a point is scored on every play?

Fortunately, the solution is right there in the game. All we have to do is make some small adjustments to the scoring system. For soccer, a goal could count, say, fifty. Steals of the ball would count one, and goals off headers would receive a five-point bonus. Hands-on-ball would be allowed, but if you’re still hung up on the hand thing, perhaps hand-related goals would count for less. The result would be a sport more like quidditch, and I guarantee that it would keep people on the edges of their seats!

For baseball, I’d make a run count for 25 points. Additionally, a walk would score one point, a single count two, a double four, a triple six, and a home run ten (over and above the 25 given for a run). Lastly, putouts made solely with the feet would add ten points to the defenders’ score. Fans wouldn’t be able to tear their eyes away from the field!

I think we’ve made some real progress here, but I don’t think we can end this discussion until we’ve addressed two unpleasant topics associated with these otherwise worthy games: beanballs and biting. As part of any national pastime, such behavior is unseemly and should not be tolerated. Mayhem and maiming, if we are to have them at all, belong in the lesser sports, like American football. To deter beanballing, I suggest that offenders be fined a finger. Similarly, biters would lose a tooth for each incident. Pinching and poking will be punished with a timeout and loss of dessert for a week.
Thumbs Up
Humans are a proud species. They like to think that their brains make them special — smarter, wiser, better than all the other animals. But what if porpoises are smarter?

I don’t know that for sure, but their brains are certainly of a comparable size, and by some measures they have a greater capacity for thought than we do. Indeed, they may be able to think (so it is thought) in ways we’ve never thought of. Which is pretty impressive until you realize that their earning capacity is no match for ours, and they don’t even have car elevators.

But let’s not be petty, especially since humans don’t need to be the brainiest to be the best. We have another attribute that puts us securely at number one. I am talking, of course, about the thumb.

And please, don’t try to tell me that we aren’t the only thumbed creatures. Those pathetic little thumb-ish digits on chimps and the other great apes do not qualify as true thumbs. Chimps may be smart (though compared to us, they’re pretty stupid, really — and a damn sight uglier), but they‘re not nearly as dextrous. It’s dexterity, you see, that has vaulted us into the top spot of the animal kingdom.

Raccoons and lemurs also have thumb-like appendages (though they are both considerably better-looking than chimps). And like chimps, they lack a truly opposable digit. That’s the key — a thumb that can work in concert with the fingers to hold and manipulate just about any tool that you (or even a porpoise) can imagine. We are in the driver’s seat on this planet because we are the only animal with the physical dexterity to make a driver’s seat.

(In passing, I should make clear that I think intelligence does play some part in all this. The Goliath Bird-Eating Tarantula, for instance, could be seen as a big, hairy, walking hand with eight fingers — all of which are fully opposable. Because they are such dirt-clod stupid creatures, however, all that dexterity is used on simple food acquisition. They do not, consequently, pose any threat to us as the monarchs of all living things. Plus, they’re even uglier than chimps.)

Simply put, then, we’re number one. There may be smarter animals, and there may be better-looking animals, but they all must take a back seat to the human being and his wondrous opposable thumb. The only hitch is that we are sometimes seen as, well, jerks. We are a proud species, as I have said, and sometimes that pride can come off as arrogance. I hope nothing I have said has contributed to that impression.

Just to be sure, let me apologize for any unkindness I may have shown here, particularly toward our friends the chimpanzees. They are more like us than any other animal, after all. The only differences are their brains (about the same as your typical low-grade idiot), their looks (could be worse, I suppose), and their ability (thumb or no thumb) to rip your face off when riled up.

So, no hard feelings, guys. I may have misjudged you. You’re not as dirt-clod stupid as you look. Are we good?
If you’re like me, you prefer to get your opinions on the important issues of the day from celebrities. I like to think, however, that I am pretty selective about which famous folk I look to for leadership.

If Daffy Duck were alive today, for instance, I would certainly be paying attention to his views on public policy. He is, after all, my favorite animated cartoon character of all time. At the very least, I’d follow him on Twitter and hang on his every raspberried lisp.

By contrast, I don’t think I’d give much weight to Woody Woodpecker’s tweets. I never liked his laugh, and that was pretty much the whole thing with him. Donald Duck had a funny voice, but Donald’s issues with anger are well documented, and I don’t want a political philosophy founded on rage.

Bugs Bunny, for all his savvy wackiness, is a little too ironic to be trusted as a source of political wisdom. Goofy, of course, is plenty sincere, but his level of sophistication would be more at home in the Tea Party… and I cannot go there. Nor is Foghorn Leghorn on my go-to list. His arrogant, blowhard style follows the traditional Republican model. He’s a rooster’s rooster, for sure — exactly the kind of bonehead who took us into Iraq.

Mickey Mouse seems to be a decent sort, but I’m not interested in hearing his take on income inequality. He (along with other nice-guy heroes like Rocky the Flying Squirrel, Mighty Mouse, and Crusader Rabbit) is simply too boring. I like to see some passion in my thought leaders. Plus, they’re all teetotalers. I can’t imagine having a beer with any of them.

None of the sprawling constellation of Hanna Barbera characters is my list, either. Not only are Yogi Bear, Huckleberry Hound, and their made-for-TV ilk too poorly animated to be taken seriously, they just aren’t funny. Worse yet, they lack the gravitas and capacity for self-reflection we’ve come to expect from good cartoons.

The Simpsons and Family Guy characters are certainly amusing, but they aren’t really cartoon characters at all. Instead, they are illustrations cast in human roles. Same with Popeye, Betty Boop, or Farmer Alfalfa; if I want insight from a human celebrity (and I don’t), I’d prefer to hear it from a living, three-dimensional version, thank you.

No, Daffy is my guy. A bit of a drama queen, but what do you expect from a Hollywood superstar? He’s got a cranky libertarian side, too, but I’m okay with that. Besides, you can’t deny the passion — even if it’s phony. And he’d be great to have a drink with. A drink or two, perhaps. Maybe go bar-hopping. Who knows? We might even go on a ten-day bender and wake up in the hold of Marvin the Martian’s spaceship bound for Planet X.

Come to think of it, I wouldn’t mind hearing Marvin’s position on alternative energy sources. He seems like a pretty sharp dude.
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Trump supporters are people who know what they believe.
~ JC, Bonny Doon