Thursday, September 24, 2009

Night at the Hostel

The room has 4 beds, is next to the hostel bar, has no window or means of ventilation, and last night, I shared it with a severely overweight Irishman. As I lay awake, staring at the horizontal support beams of the bed above me, I listened to this guy engage in a respiratory battle of epic proportions. His artillery blast snorts were punctuated by the ringing klaxon of his constant slamming into the steel bed supports in a futile effort for comfort. I, stripped down to my boxers out of necessity, cowered in fear, speechless and sweating, on my uncomfortable mattress, trying to fake myself into real sleep. The struggle lasted all night. No body emerged victorious.

Impressions and Observations

The following is an incomplete list of my first impressions of the English and other random travel sightings.

1. Americans hold their passports in their hands as they walk through the airport. Everybody else keeps it in the jacket or pocket and only breaks it out when necessary. Americans clutch that important document like an evangelist clutching the pocket-Bible. Maybe we wish to convey a sense of entitlement and a perceived necessity of recognition.

2. I feel like I am in a Guy Ritchie movie.

3. Everything, down to the BBQ sauce on the table of the cafe, is "By Appointment to Her Majesty the Queen." That's silly.

4. My first meal was two runny eggs, a long sausage, two flat and floppy slices of ham, buttered bread, and a half pound of baked beans. I wasn't expecting baked beans for breakfast, but I kind of liked it.

5. My tea came with milk already in it. I forgot where I was.

6. I think the waitress creamed when she saw the tip I left her. I forgot where I was.

7. English girls (and this is only my first impression) don't take care of their hair the way American girls do. It's just sort of there. I like nice hair.

8. The English seem spiteful in a number of interesting ways: driving on the left hand side (honestly, give it up), having the steering wheel on the right side, not using the euro, and having their own plugs which are different from the mainland.

To be continued.

That's Obtuse.

I hate reclining seats. The problem that I have is that it takes a real arrogance and selfishness to push that steel mentos button and then throw my weight into the backrest. What if the person behind me has their tray table in the upright and locked position and is leaning over at the exact moment that I decide to indulge in the comforts of modern aeronautical furnishings? God forbid they're changing a baby's diaper on their lap, or possibly loading an automatic shotgun. There are already too many accidental discharges, both baby and Benelli, in this world. Why take my chances?

My basic conundrum boils down to this: Check behind me by ducking my vulnerable and over sized head into the steel battering ram pushcart trafficked aisle, and timidly ask permission of the Australian guy behind me for something that is my FAA given right to enjoy, or, have the gall to hit into that recline and never look back-- literally.

Have I mentioned that this all needs to be accomplished within a moth sneeze of the seat belt light going off? Should I decide to recline, oh say, mid way through the flight, now I'm really pissing the people behind me off. By now, they've settled into a routine and made progress on their seat cushion butt divots. But here comes Capt. Comfortable, selfishly stampeding on their already subatomic leg room.

I'm an ass.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Robert McNamara- Secretary of Defense under Kennedy and, for a time, Johnson- is a man who I admire not for his Cold War era policy decisions, but for his profound intellect and insightful observations. I highly recommend that anybody interested in modern conflicts see the enlightening documentary about McNamara entitled The Fog of War.

One of McNamara's rules of war is to "empathize with your enemy". To prove his argument, McNamara puts forth two historical case studies: the Vietnam war and the Cuban Missile Crisis. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, McNamara posits that we (the US government) were able to successfully empathize with Khruschev and the Soviets. Khruschev knew that he had put everybody in a hell of a mess by deploying missiles in Cuba, but at the same time, if we were to deescalate the conflict, we had to give Khruschev an out so that he could politically save face. In other words, we had to put ourselves in Khruschev's shoes (all the more impressive, as we all know how abusive Khruschev can be to his footwear). By empathizing with Khruschev, we understood that in order to step back from the brink of nuclear war, we had to remain silent (and hold back from rolling our eyes) when Khruschev loudly proclaimed that he had single handedly saved Cuba from destruction at the hands of the US because he pulled the missiles out. Obviously, this is a gross distortion of fact, but hell, we didn't shoot each other. Everybody wins, sort of.

We didn't win in Vietnam, however, as we never empathized with the Vietnamese (North or South or whatever [distinctions between North, South, Communist, Viet Cong, etc. were very difficult to make and we, as a learned public, were and are too quick to start placing labels on the Vietnamese circa 1950s-70s. There was a lot of grey area, to say the least.]). We saw the Vietnam war as a war to halt the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia, and as a war to maintain the independence of the South from the the North. The Vietnamese didn't see it that way at all! To them, it was a civil war, and the US simply replaced the French as an imperialist power trying to impose itself on the Vietnamese. The two sides were looking at the conflict in completely different terms, and for that reason the US could never have won the war in Vietnam. McNamara paraphrases a VC commander who said that the North Vietnamese were willing to take as many causalities as necessary to fulfill their goal, and unless the US was willing to do the same, we could never have won that war.

With these lessons in mind, let's try to apply them to the war in Afghanistan. Let's ask, what are we fighting for? What are we trying to accomplish?
Answer: To destroy the Al Qaeda terrorist network by killing or capturing its members and leaders, and to also crush the Al Qaeda-allied Taliban movement which supplies and harbors Al Qaeda. A secondary goal, and a minor one as far as the US government is concerned (or at least that's how it is acting), is to rebuild the shattered Afghan nation and infrastructure and develop this narcostate into a functioning and self sustaining sort-of-democracy.

Now, let's try to empathize with Taliban and Al Qaeda, and the Afghan people. How do they see the conflict? Al Qaeda and the Taliban see us as an imperialist, pro-Israel, outsider who is trying to impose itself on the Middle East and destroy Islam. Destroying Islam is ridiculous and harmful propaganda that isn't even worth discussing as it is so preposterous and wrong. But the imperialist aggression argument has some merit. In Iraq, I agree! No good came from the Iraq war; it was an imperialist aggression. In Afghanistan, however, I disagree. We can accomplish real good there. And by kicking out the Taliban (knock on wood), we really can turn around a once-repressed nation.

What about Al Qaeda goals? I think it's safe to say that most of the goals of Al Qaeda are not feasible or productive to the US, including: destruction of the state of Israel and removal of all combat personal from Central Asia and the Middle East, and especially Saudi Arabia.

So, destruction of Israel? Insane. Not gonna happen. More critical policies towards Israel? Definitely possible (in my opinion, helpful) and in fact, things seem to be heading in that direction. Take Obama's criticism of settlement expansion in the West Bank (though, bark and bite are two very different things. Plus, I think every recent President has asked for a "moratorium" on settlement expansion, to no avail).

Removal of combat troops? That seems like not such a bad idea, as far as Saudi Arabia is concerned. Besides being one of the most repressive nations on Earth, it is also the most holy for Muslims. We probably shouldn't have troops there. Moving US combat troops elsewhere, say, Kuwait or... Iraq(?) seems like a better idea. Hmm. I'll think about that one. However, removing troops from Afghanistan or Iraq at this time is suicidal and counter-productive. Not gonna happen.

What about the Afghan people? How do we empathize with them? How do they see the conflict? I don't know the answers, but it's probably very complicated. Are we in Afghanistan for natural resources? Not really. So why are we there? Altruism? I'm not sure that anybody would believe that. So when we kill civilians (accidentally) in airstrikes, what are the surviving Afghans supposed to think? How do we want our presense to be felt? We're there to get Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Do the Afghans see a benefit from that? Are they safer? What do they want? How can we help them now that we are there?

These are the questions we should be asking-- not to policy analysts or diplomatic intellectuals-- but to the Afghan people.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Harpo and Chico

I giggled like a fourth grader watching this.

Not to be that crusty guy who shakes his hickory cane at the skateboarding youth, but, man, they don't do it like this anymore.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Pawn

I was cleaning out my old room at my parents' house recently (that has been co-opted by my 8 month old nephew's furniture) and found a short story I wrote in 10th grade. It's probably the first thing that I was proud of, as far as writing is concerned, and I remember my teacher read it out loud to the class without telling me first. She just started reading it-- and I was thrilled. Her margin comment reads, "Save this story! Show it to your children some day. You should be very proud of it. There is so much understanding in it and such memorable, vivid description-- and it moved me to tears." So, for your reading pleasure, here it is, unedited, without my usual parenthetical asides or interruptions.

The Pawn

I wish I was back in Jersey. I miss the smell of it. Some might find that hard to believe, but I sincerely do. I miss my crusty old baseball mitt with all the stitchings coming undone. I miss the pleasant smell of freshly cut grass, and the silence of picking weeds in the vegetable garden. I miss the sight of my lovely mother bending over the hot stove at dinner time, tasting her spaghetti sauce and then adding a pinch of oregano to the mix. Why am I here then? What have I done wrong?

The damn stick is stuck again, and the engine keeps on sputtering like an old woman. Damn French, you can never trust em. They couldn't build an airplane if their life depended on it... and it does. And so I'm here. Why am I out here? For them? For democracy? Fight your own goddamn war! That's what I say! Why should I have to travel a thousand miles for these ungrateful, unsympathetic bastards. I don't want to get killed a thousand miles from home defending somebody else's country, lousy bastards.

And that noise! I just wish that Palmer would die already. It seems like a pretty awful thing to say, but he's been gurgling back there ever since we got there. Every time he manages to hack out a nasty cough, a hundred little droplets of blood splash on the back of my neck. The sad thing is, is that they are warm. So warm it sends a shiver down my spine every time he does it. I can feel the sensation run down my back, like a little spider running towards the bottom of my spine. I keep straining my neck, just to try and get a look at him, see how he's doing, but he's just out of sight. I can only see his hands. His hands are grasped to the sides of the cockpit, holding on for life. He looks like he is bracing himself for a shock that will never come. Yet, I dare not speak to him. I could never. Then I will know that he truly is dying. A way of cheating myself, I guess. And that sound! He sounds like he is gurgling mouthwash- ha- mouthwash. Wouldn't we be so lucky?

Cocking my head to the side, I can see that the nimble biplane is passing over the front now. Boy, it looks like Hell erupted from the depths of the Earth, with fire and brimstone, and settled right here. The front is an ugly brown snake, weaving its staggered path past the horizon in both directions. I have to keep myself from turning away in disgust. What I am witnessing I dare not wish upon Satan himself, for this must be his doing. The smell of ash and death fills the open air, making me want to clog my nostrils, even at eight thousand feet. Craters, corpses, barbed wire, more corpses, more barbed wire. The sun is glistening off the wire like raindrops at dawn. If only it were that. The corpses are scattered throughout the front, but mainly in the belly of the snake. No Man's Land. Simply a graveyard of thousands of men. Most of the corpses are not intact. Heads, legs, torsos, lying around, without a body in sight. There are scattered puddles which were at one time some woman's son, some daughter's father. Looking down, there are no Germans, no French, nor any English, just death. It looks like a giant children's game from above. People run, people run back, some fall (they are out), some make it back. They sit and rest, and then do it all again. No real purpose, no real progress. The game of war.

I can breathe a sigh of comfort, not of relief, as I cross over the front now. The terror is over for now. I turn my head to check on Palmer. His hands are no longer there. I hang my head for a moment, and say a small prayer. I'm not a religious man, but it seemed like the right thing to do.

What purpose does this serve though? Is God testing my courage? My strength? My sanity? My one partner in this hell has a bullet lodged in his neck and is now gone. Now don't get me wrong, I am a man, yet, at that moment, I began to cry. I was not hysterical like a little girl who lost her puppy, but the kind of crying that makes other people want to come over and ask what's wrong. But that didn't happen. And I wept. I thought about how when he was first hit how he screeched like a dog whose paw got stepped on. He called to his mother, asking her to come get him. He called to God, asking Him to forgive his sins. And I wept. He called to me. While holding his hand upon his blood soaked neck, he told me to tell his mom that he died gloriously in battle. Tell her about how we shot down seven Jerries, and killed ten on the ground, before he was killed-- shot through the back of the head. Tell her how we were getting a medal for our bravery, and how the squadrons across the front were holding memorials for him. But no. Mrs. Palmer's son did not get a medal. He did not get a ceremony. He did not die valiantly. He died while scouting a farm house. He was killed by a hidden machine gun nest-- the one he was looking for. He never killed a German. He never fired his weapon. He never made it back. He was just another casualty. And I wept.

I can see our aerodrome from here. But luck is not on my side. The aerodrome is gone. The airfield is a crater. The hanger is rubble. The hospital is in ruins. I am alone here, without a gunner, with a swarm of Jerries heading right for me. I wish I was back in Jersey.

Friday, September 11, 2009

55th and 6th

The food is never really that great- but I expect that. Every carb-heavy dish served to every hunched over patron is monochrome brown, as are the mountains of plastic wrapped pastries that only appear appetizing. Orange juice provides the single fleck of merciful color. The silverware is identical too-- everywhere. My teaspoon is stamped "9 Winco 18/0 Stainless". I've actually never seen that before. It's usually just a pressed "Stainless Steel". Weird. (A little research reveals that Winco is a supermarket similar to Walmart. Curiously, they only have locations on the west coast and a few Rocky Mountain states. How did their silverware end up in Manhattan? I guess it doesn't matter much.)

Heavy white ceramic mugs make a dull thud every time they are replaced on the fake marble counter top. The sound is unmistakable and comforting. It is a part of American culture. (The equivalent French sound is much higher pitched: an espresso cup clinking into its recessed crater-home on the saucer.) Plus, the unlimited coffee is nice. I haven't seen that idea anywhere outside of the United States. I think it's a sign of American kindness. I can't partake in the ritual though, because after one cup I get the jitters and have to switch to decaf (which might as well not be coffee). Even then, I will feel a slight uneasiness and constant fluttering in my chest for the next few hours. But I expect that.

The businessman sitting next to me uses every condiment available on his Western omelet (no cheese) and home fries, side of sausage. He haphazardly puts a heart attack inducing amount of salt over his entire dish, taking little care or pride in where the grains fall. He seems content enough to just go through the salting motion. A pinch of pepper from an ash filled shaker on the omelet, a plop of ketchup on the home fries, and a dash of Tabasco sauce over the whole mess. Milk from a carton (not the little prepackaged striated white plastic thimble-cups with peel back lid) and sugar in his coffee. He's either a control freak or severely indecisive-- I'll go with the former. When leaving, he's impatient to pay his bill and repeatedly calls the server over and waves his money rudely in the air, even though the kind server is clearly taking another customer's order.
Yeah, control freak.

Jose, the charming veteran waiter who bears an uncanny resemblance to ex-Pakistani president/dictator Pervez Musharraf, is aging a bit. His sideburns are white now and his glasses thick. He's a charmer. He comes over to me, leans on the counter top, looks me in the eye, and says, "You asked for grits but I gave you po-tay-toes" (he enunciates each syllable of "potatoes"). He is right, and he smiles. "These things happen," I say as I shrug my shoulders in willing surrender. It is all right.

I sit for a few more minutes, read a few more pages of my paperback, and get up to leave- but pause to get Jose's attention to thank him.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

The Kid Is Not My Son

I am sitting at my neighborhood cafe, sitting across from a boy of about 7 years. His brother sits next to him, playing with some random toy (it's a hippie kind of cafe). Much to my enjoyment, "Billie Jean" comes on the radio. And, to my complete surprise, the boy starts singing (in key) the introduction:

who- Whoo. WHO whoooo.

He turns to his brother, "do you know who's singing?" "What?" "Do you know who's singing? It's Michael Jackson. That's Michael Jackson. I want to be him so bad for Halloween."

A young boy wants to pretend to be Michael Jackson. Define irony.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Moroccan Memories Revisited

Sitting on the F train last night, without conscious outside stimulus, I suddenly remembered a funny little episode that happened while I was in Morocco. Let's kick it:

I had befriended a young guy in Fez named Tarik. The story of how I met him is a long one that maybe I'll write another time (I walked up to a group of young men sitting around in a dark alley with a vaulted ceiling and started talking to them-- there). Tarik took me to his "uncle"'s carpet shop. No, this isn't the opening to the next Hostle movie (nor the first "Matty Does Morocco").

Tarik and his uncle brought me into this private back room to show me their wares. The room was a giant cube with a concrete floor, high ceilings, and wall to wall shelves stuffed to capacity with carpets of every color shape and style. I was brought over to a simple cloth couch, made to sit, and Uncle then came out with a pot of mint tea for all of us. I have to be honest and relate that I was in a high state of alert, as there is not a small chance that this could be a setup and I am about to be blindfolded, beaten, stripped, and shipped to a Tunisian prison. To combat this, I spent my entire visit kind of on edge, ready to lash out with a well placed jab to the throat at a moment's notice, a la Jason Bourne. But I hid this pretty well, I must say.

So there I sat, drinking sweet mint tea, while Tarik and Uncle brought out dozens and dozens of carpets for me to judge. And I was to judge-- but I had to do it in Arabic, which I found curious. It went like this: Tarik would show me a carpet, give a little explanation about its significance and why it was so friggin' expensive, and I was to respond "la" ("no") if I didn't like it, or "wa'ha" ("yes") if I liked it. For some reason, Tarik sort of whispered those instructions to me in an aside when the Uncle was in the other room (good carpet, bad cop?). I guess Uncle is a stickler for tradition.

I distinctly remember lounging on the couch with regal posture, drinking my tea, and given the circumstances and my somewhat eccentric imagination and penchant for the theatrical-- I assumed a dictatorial sultanic air. When I saw carpets I didn't like or that offended my refined sense of style that I had honed over the past 10 minutes, I would frown an abhorrent frown, crinkle my face with a pained expression, dismissively wave my manicured hand, and, with an air of disgust mixed with a dash of Victorian insult, I would steadfastly declare "La... la" while shaking my head in completely appalled disapproval. Tarik and Uncle would respond enthusiastically and, like a pair of Jawas, repeat my admonition to themselves ("Oh-- la, la") and hurriedly fold up the scorned drapery.

After I settled on a pair of exquisite carpets, the bargaining began. It took about 20 minutes. Back and forth, offer and counter-offer, interspersed with moments of silence to drink our tea and re-assess our strategy. Finally, I made an offer for both carpets that was acceptable to Tarik. Now, remember, it was Uncle's carpet shop, so Tarik had to convince him that my offer was satisfactory. Uncle came in from the other room (I don't know why he left in the first place). He whispered my offer to Uncle in Arabic, made a few empathetic gestures, and exchanged a couple of glances with me, as if to say, "I don't know if he'll take it. You might have to raise your offer." This could have all been simple pagentry, but it made for a good show. Dramatically, Tarik backed away and Uncle approached me. He stared at me for a few moments in silence, sizing me up, and then, with a smile, extended his hand. We shook hands, exchanged currency, and just when I thought I could walk away, I learned that I had to tip the guy who wrapped up the carpets in brown paper. We all gotta make a buck.

Walking outside, Tarik, being a hospitable host, brought me out to eat at a local food stall. And the best way to describe this place was as a "stall". This place was the size of a handicapped toilet, and run by a pudgy Moroccan with a viciously lazy left eye. Undeterred by the minuscule size nor the drifting eyes, Tarik and I squeezed into the stall and found two stools to sit on. And bunched in there, shoulder to shoulder with strangers (well, I guess the entire country was filled with strangers to me), the proprietor put a bowl of soup and a hunk of doughy bread in front of me. It was a well-spiced white bean soup in a thick, oily red stew. My lower duodenum let out a preemptive moan. And just when I prostrated myself in humble supplication to the gods of Inevitable Diarrhea, I realized I didn't have a spoon. Odd. Tarik informed me that they don't use spoons-- they rip off the bread and use it to scoop up the soup to their mouth, sort of in the Ethiopian "pinch with bread and eat" manner. I try. I fail. Tarik laughs and asks the proprietor for a spoon.

My ears perked up-- as did the hair on my neck.


One of the most repeated mantras in the Moroccan guide books is to never use silverware at food stalls. Cleanliness and sanitation are not exactly Moroccan buzzwords.

The stall worker searches for a spoon, succeeds, and gives it a rinse in tap water.

Fucking great. Not only is this spoon dirty-- he just washed it in tap water. Bowel wrenching, gut twisting, stomach turning, intestinal curdling, tap water. Then he hands it to me. I take the spoon, hold it at arms length, staring at it like it was a salamander that I don't want to touch. I dip the spoon in the soup, fish out a couple of white beans, and, like I was sipping hemlock from a chalice, take a deep breath and raise the liquid to my lips.

I'm already up Shit's creek, so why not go for a swim?

I eat all the soup, all the bread (in the vain hope that the bread will absorb some of the intestinal detritus) and sit back, ready for my bowels to explode at a moment's notice. Tarik seems pleased. Stall worker seems pleased-- but I'm not sure if he was looking at me. I let out a pathetic "Lamakla baneena!" ("The food is delicious!"). Lazy Eye gives me a puzzled stare. I, in desperation, repeat my butchered Arabic "lamakla baneena!". LE sort of smiles, probably not understanding a single word I just said. Breaking the tension, Tarik puts a glass in front of me. It contains a purple liquid and judging by the viscosity and little bubbles of agitation around the perimeter of the glass, it is probably a juice of some sort. Tarik doesn't know what it is either. He just tells me "it is good".

And it was.

And I never had an ounce of diarrhea. A not-so-small victory.

Monday, September 7, 2009

America Always Wins!

Global recession?

Bull shit.

Despite the collapse of the financial markets, American arms sales increased this past year to 38 billion dollars. Not only do we spread freedom, but we also spread the freedom to kill your neighbor.

Andrew Undershaft is smiling.

And take a look at who our best customers are:
United Arab Emirates
Saudi Arabia
South Korea

With the exception of Morocco and Brazil, we're talking about some of the hottest hot spots of international conflict.

Talk about shooting yourself in the foot.

Dream Job

If I don't become a history professor, or a foreign policy analyst, or an actor, or a bum, I think my dream job would be "biological bad ass," and by that I mean a discoverer of new species. Check out this article:

How cool is that! There is still stuff out there that nobody has ever seen. My god, if I could travel the world, ducking into dank dark caves, cataloguing inconceivable crevices, and discovering creatures never before discovered-- I'd probably be a huge hit with the ladies.

Sexy Momma: "Oh hi, this is my boyfriend Tom. He's works in public relations for a magazine. Isn't that interesting?"
Enter Matthew R. Reed, sporting sun baked skin, a rumpled khaki safari shirt and olive trousers with worn knees. He removes his tarnished fedora with his right hand and calmly wipes perspiration from his brow with his forearm.
Matt: "Public relations? That is very interesting. I discover shit."
Sexy Momma: "You haven't explored every crevice."

That would be my go-to pickup line.

But in reality, I don't think I have the chops for the job. I mean, imagine shuffling through some mosquito infested bog, picking leeches off your inner thigh, only to have that huge fucking rat run across your feet. Oh lord, I would scream bloody murder and probably let out a little fart (I was excited, sue me), and most likely kill the creature by mistake. That wouldn't go over so well with the boss.
"Well, Reed over here finally saw this rodent we've been tracking for six months, but when it ran through his legs he got scared and beat the crap out of it with a shovel."

A boy can dream.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A Manly Soap

I like soap. Not the fancy Williams Sonoma stuff. Just soap. The simpler, the better. Give me a white bar of Ivory without moisturizers, and I am all giggles and wiggles.

One of my dreams is to grab an obscenely large knife and cut a swath out of an Irish Spring bar, like the guy used to do on the commercial.

I would smell that cross-section with all the nasal power I could muster. Divine.

It's Not an Alligator!

I think I am going to make a habit of recording dreams that I remember in this blog. Here is mine from last night. All interpretations and mockeries are welcome.

I can't remember too many of the details, except that the focus of the dream was my pet. My pet was that animal that looks like an alligator, but it's not. It's smaller and has a more rounded snout, and I distinctly remembering that in my dream, I made the distinction quite clearly and was frustrated when people called it an alligator (I'm even a pompous prick in my dreams).

Anyway, this animal who's scientific name I forget lived in a fish tank in the living room. It was the old living room in my parents' house on Long Island, before it was renovated. There was never fish tank in that room, to my knowledge. So, this animal lives in a giant fish tank. Got the mental image? It's sort of yellowish with smooth skin, and at this point about a foot long. The pet; not the fish tank. However, one day, some person (I don't remember who) pissed the animal off (I remember that they were standing on it. Yep, they were knee deep in a fish tank, standing atop the evolutionary cousin of the Nile crocodile. Not exactly a Jack Hannah of All Trades) and it kept escaping from its fish tank. Dammit. Now there's a giant alligator-relative on the loose in my parents' living room. Thanks, person I don't remember. Mom's gonna be thrilled.

Now, having patiently and studiously observed the late Steve Irwin in action, I knew that if I could get on the alligator-evolutionary-cousin's back and wrap my hands around its snout, it would be incapable of claiming my forearm as its own. (Animal Fact: It can clamp its jaws with force, but has minimal strength in opening its jaws. In my dream, I remembered this fact, apparently.)

I accomplish this feat with surprising dexterity and subdue the marauding beast. Suddenly, as if on cue, a gaggle of well endowed hot chicks in microscopic bikinis pop out from behind the ottoman and we all impulsively start grinding to a thumping Latin beat, rubbing hormone soaked bodies in slow motion with disco lights flashing a staccato rhythm, allowing, through the darkness, only the briefest exchanges of seductive glances.

Actually, no. Not at all. Sorry. Not even my dreams are that creative. Apparently I much prefer to dream of domesticating biologically diverse fauna rather than cavorting with sexy ladies in skimpy clothes. No further comment.

At this point there's a gap of remembrance. I don't quite know why, but eventually the faux-alligator gets to be about six feet long-- and we become the best of friends. I specifically remember a sense of camaraderie emerging between us. No- I don't start grinding with the reptile while listening to Tito Puente. That's just uncivilized. Suffice to say, at its present size, the beast no longer fit in the fish tank. However, in a phantasmagorical Deus Ex Machina, somebody suggests sending it off to Connecticut. Why send my gator pal to CT? You got me. It's a friggin dream. And that's where the dream ended.

Have a field day with that one.

Who Is Reading This Blog?

I'm not about to toot my own horn, but check out this NY Times article that ran today:

And I call your attention to the crux of the argument:
"Under the strategy described by General McChrystal and other commanders in recent weeks, the overriding goal of American and NATO forces would not be so much to kill Taliban insurgents as to make ordinary Afghans feel secure, and thus isolate the insurgents. That means using force less and focusing on economic development and good governance. "


Yeah. I just parroted four years of real experts' advice to the White House. But it still feels good.
Humbly prostrated,