And Gutenberg Lived Here: Yo Ho Ho, Philosophers All

What is it about this weird weiry time

between the seasons of universal brotherly love-


maybe we can pay for your mother’s new canary cage

by not eating for a week-


calendarically speaking,

just after the shortest day of the year,

“when the deep purple falls over sleepy garden walls,”

that mystical time

when it is dark dark dark,

and everyone suddenly drinks too much,

or takes too many sun baths,

and reads the weather list each day to see when sunrise and sunset are,

(in the hopes that they are more than three minutes apart)

that makes everyone suddenly waft philosophical-

just what we need.

Or do you think a picture of a small round-headed boy,

and his beagle,

suddenly minus joe cool sunglasses,

but with a myriad of chirping friends

staring at a pitiful



two laughable strands of tinsel

drooping at half mast,

remains of a Christmas tree,

and sighing plaintively,

just before


on the horizon,

a pirate appears,

horned helmet over flaming red hair,

dragon ship in the distance,

grabs the pitiful tree,


throws it out a window,

Viking style,

just before

taking a bow for his theatricality,

then growling frighteningly,

before distributing a double armload of

“Swedish furniture house”


which are promptly leapt upon

by Joe Cool,

who is in the process of refurnishing his pad,

and his chirping friends,

who want a salt-water sauna

where they can eat their hemp and birdseed


personally hand-rolfed

breakfast mixed-grain muesli

(this is California, remember)

before getting on their 144 speed

super-light bike,

for a trip over the golden gate bridge-

in the dark…..




(And wet. This is the wet season in California-

wet meaning,

Noah would be jealous-

buy rubber boots

and three pairs of sneakers-

that should last about one day.

Oh, and if you hear a creaking sound,

your house is probably slowly sliding into the sea-

but, of course,

if you think that this kind of life,

described with meticulous exactness,

and great attention to absolute correctness,

not to mention full Technicolor,

is in any way normal…..



So where were we?

Ah yes….


Love of my life.

And the stupid people who won’t let him get on with the important stuff.

Even if they are ok most of the time.

Especially when they remember the dog food.

Rock on, good buddy.

And his view of the world.

Which is pretty profound, when you think of it.

Work a little, write a little,

observe people,

chat up the birds-


Then a little philosophy,

a few adventures in odd places and with unusual people

you didn’t really plan-

like who plans a French farmhouse in WWI already?

and then back home,

under enemy fire,

and barbed wire,

to a dog house that is obviously larger on the inside than on the outside.

And friends,

and music

and a few candles on,

even if the one I am looking at at the moment


a spastic clear-plastic Christmas tree

lighted from within,

that would probably rock,

and wiggle,

and play Grandma got run over by a reindeer

if I let it.

Which I won’t.

Because then I would have to laugh.

And this entire dramatic moment of dark dreary Hegelian Angst

I have created

would be for nought.

So where was that switch again?

copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Falalalala And All That Jazz

Every year I write a song for my choirs for Christmas.



joy of Christmas,

lights, gala, gold tinsel, wassail,


because of The Birth.

And the tone?

and this is a real joy for me-

experimental traditional.

Every year I try to push the envelope.

Do something new.

Learn something myself.

A couple of years ago, it was the scale song-

simple scale melody-

up, down, and across-

a sort of happy polka-ing through the halls

you hear in something like “We need a little Christmas.”

The words-

Merrily merrily merrily merrily, deck the halls and trim the tree,

merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, light the hearth and sing with glee,

for Christ the King is born today, angel choirs and shepherds say-

yes, I know.

Terribly creative,


And the choir wore white and gold,

not the usual black,

and I put my long hair up in braids,

Gretchen style-

and wound through with glitzy ribbons from our present exchange-

and we all had fun.

Except one of the bah humbugs at our family service,

who wanted a Hallmark Christmas,

like in the dark days after the war,

and insisted, along with the council,

on a black mark in my record if I ever do anything so tasteless again.


Right out of Dickens.

So this year,

being one of the toughest we have ever waded through in my family,

I decided to chuck the music stress for a couple of weeks,

and took off to sing in London-

home of  Christmas joy-

we had to explain to friends here in Gutenberg land as:

just like carnival, without all the drinking-


I said it, I mean it-

or do you know of another place on earth that sponsors a charity bike race,

where thousands of participants dress themselves in wrapping paper

and moose antlers,

and ride through the city chanting ho ho ho?

Unless it was, of course San Francisco,

where we bumped into a group of carolers at the airport

and rode the escalators for an hour, while waiting for a connection,

singing improvised Christmas carols.

(this was one very good bunch of singers-

although why I, as a dramatic mezzo,

got the top far too high and far too ornamented part is beyond me-)

So anyway,

back at the manger-

this was the Christmas of good friends and much joy,

which is what it actually should be about.

We visited a Christmas market with my Aussie girlfriend and her husband,

and I even ate my first burger in a REALLY long time,

in a fantastic burger place near the festival hall.

Then we tried out mince pies,

toffee in traditional form,

sticky, intense, wonderful,

tea in a crypt under St Martin in the Fields-

be still my heart,

went to see the English chamber choir sing,

got thoroughly whomped by wet fake snow,

had to dance with Prince Charming-

(why, if they put you in the house seats,

do the front house expect you, as a gesture of thanks-

yes, ok, they were very very good to us,and of course i am thankful,

and grateful,

but I’m just not a fan of close Sambas with a man in tights and feathers on his head

as the entire audience watches and roars-)

So anyway, this was my introduction to the veddy veddy traditional world of the Christmas


with audience participation-

“yes you will” from the villain

“No he won’t” from us in the audience.

Repeat till all the kids are screaming and so wound up feeding them ice cream seems like

taking your life in your hands.

Silly, but marvelous fun.

A place where 2-99 year olds turn into

well, about six year olds.

And this panto was particularly joyful,

since it was potted.

As in,

The six-

or twelve,

if you count Harry Potter,

and Scrooge

like I said-

crazy but fun-

traditional Christmas pantos

complete with naughty winks,

asides to the adults

men dressed as women,

young men dressed as silly looking young men,

and a Tinkerbell that did a strange boogaloo

that was somehow more Friday the thirteenth

than Peter Pan-


Wrong panto.

So there we were-

Seated in house seats,

meaning full participation expected,

singing the twelve days of Christmas,

for which none of us had a clue how many geese were dancing

and ladies were ringing gold things-

actually, the five gold rings are also birds-

a ring of pheasants,

but somehow it still always reminds me of Beyonce and putting a ring on it.

In a real real real Enlish panto,

with people pretending to upchuck over me,

and water coming down,

and a London fog from an out of control ice machine,

and me thinking it couldn’t get any better,

when they did a recap,

at the start of act two,

and recapping the action

using real caps.

ie good evening ladies and gentlemen-

full bow in strange goose hat,

the queen’s speech-

(I wonder how they got one of those strange saucepot things she wears,)

you get the picture.

And then….

wait for it,

yes you will, no you won’t yes you will,

they recapped the entire action in ten seconds.

And since I was there,

not here,

where I am now-


not there,

did I mention I did a lot of singing,

and Christmas conducting the last couple of weeks?

So now, back in Gutenberg Land,

filled with the remainders of Christmas good cheer,

also turkey, yams and Aunt Elizabeth’s divinity fudge-

my aunt Elizabeth,

the recipe for which supposedly goes back to the puritans,

and contained eel butter

before she took it out-

probably because she got tired of the family sending the box back to her-

often a year later-

so anyway,

in the spirit of too much of everything Christmassy,

but still no way of expressing all the things we are thankful for this year,

I wrote,

instead of the traditional Christmas song,

hey, I’m not wonder woman-

I’ll get it done between the years-

(Christmas here is until the sixth of January

So anyway,

what I wrote was:

a ten-second recap

of the Christmas story.

It goes like this:

God-gift-born-angels-mankind-wisemen-camels-too much divinity fudge-

copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Where Elves Fast And Reindeer Dance.

This is the time of year

when the carnival season-

the “fifth season” over here-

starting on the eleventh of November-

elf stands for egalite, liberte, and fraternite,



By church decree.

It’s the time when the nation mourns its war dead-

and then begins fasting.

The forty  days before Christmas.

A time of dark days,

and introspection,



too much American tv over here.

All Gutenberger kids under the age of fifteen

know Santa Claus-

here the Christ Child delivers the presents,

but they want some of that ho ho ho-

like last Sunday, when my husband and I,

out for a quick cup of coffee before going to work on a project,

ended up as the unofficial grand marshalls,

along with two other cars,

of the Coke truck Santa and his team of cheerleaders’ parade-

Hey, the police were in front of us-

a VERY large truck with Santa reading a newspaper next to a blazing fire was behind us-

what can you do-

No, no ghostbusters here-

we drove slowly and waved to everyone-

i swear this is true-

and wondered if we would get big headlines-

mysterious  lady in white car new spirit of Christmas?

we didn’t get  nary a mention.

Or a coke either, for that matter.

Good thing the reindeer were plastic-

Which brings me to one of the nicer things about this season-

except for Christmas carols in church, of course,

and the fact that the trees here are always decked with real beeswax candles,

that smell wonderful,

and small stars, made of super-thin long wood shavings.

And in a traditional church,

which doesn’t heat,

and the people have to wear coats,

and sit close for warmth…

No, what I truly love about this season,

are the legends.

Like why the elves fast every year at this time,

and the reindeer dance.

It goes like this.

Reindeer are vegetarians.

They eat wonderful things like lichen,

and berries,

and carrots,

and cookies,


in this area,

their all-time favorite food,

only for the day they make the big sleigh ride

and package drop-


a kind of fermented bakers’ cheese-

ie that stuff you normally use to make cheese cake.

And when you ferment it,

and serve it marinated in oil,

and vinegar,

and strong raw onions,

you get a reindeer team with enough backwind

to fly three times around the pole.

Before flying all over the world to deliver the packages

to all the good little boys and girls.

And the elves,

who have to stay in the workshop,

in case Santa forgot anything,

and work side by side,

in close quarters,

make sure they don’t go near the rocket fuel-



And since the only other food is cookies,

and Mrs Claus has packed most of them,

and is far too busy to make more,

on this very special night,

the elves simply fast.

And then go off the next morning to the Lodge Hall

Of the mystic Order of Santas Elves-

Lodge nr 1244,


where they drown all their woes,

and spend their Christmas bonuses,

on elvetritschewasser-

a particular hard schnaps with small gold flecks,

that can only be gotten from a small fountain,

the elvetritschebrunnen,

where the elvetritsche,

a mythical creature that only comes out on Christmas eve

and leaves his well just long enough for the Elvish lodge bartenders

to gather a small amount.

Just enough to make the elves cheerful enough to dance.

And then they dance home,

and wish Merry Christmas to Santa,

and Mrs Claus,

and all of the stinking reindeer,

and since they are so happy they don’t even notice

that Rudolf has a red nose,

everyone gets along for once,

and exchanges packages,

and is happy and joyful,

and then Santa tells the Christmas story.

And the elves give him a small cup from the elvetritsche fountain,

so he will give them a couple of days off.

And it is this wonderful,


happy event,

of everyone telling the story of the birth of the Christ Child,

and singing,

and dancing,

and getting along,

that is the basis for the fact that the school children here in Gutenberg land,,

when they can’t remember their complicated lines

in the Christmas pageant,

simply throw their hands in the air,

and make the sign of the reindeer antlers,

and then they bring their arm up to their mouths,

and blow against it,

to make the sound of the reindeer,

and everyone laughs,

and then they have cookies,

and chldren’s punch,

with high-octane for the parents,

in honor of the elves,

and thinks that it is truly a good thing,

that once a year,

everyone can finally manage to get along.

The End


Ps This blog was fueled by lactose free chocolate cappuccino.

Copyright 2016


And Gutenberg Lived Here: “Miss”ing

I’m going to go outside of the holiday season just for a moment

Back to ho ho ho tomorrow, I promise,

but the prompt of the day,

according to Rubie’s Corner,

interested me

for the following reason:

most people don’t know about the importance of the word “miss”

in the German language.

Until 1977, Fräulein (Miss)  simply meant unmarried woman.

You had no choice-

legally married,  Frau (Mrs.)



What is the interesting part,

to me, at least,

is what went with the concept of Miss:



in Germany,

married women,

until 1977,

needed the written permission of their husbands to work.

And he could cancel her work contract,

without her permission,

any time her work as “helpmeet of the man”,

the legal concept here at that time,

didn’t meet hubby’s expectations.

Or those of the monster-in-law.

Miss was an honorable title,

meaning “I’m independent, no man tells me what to do.”

Just before her death, at 91,

an aunty of my husband’s,

who had worked as a lace and underwear maker for the Bavarian princesses,

nanny in a very very noble house,

with day uniform and evening uniform with lace forehead band,

the companion and nanny for a professor’s wife and children

on the Garda Lake in Italy in the fifties,

(she actually learned to drive a car from the chauffeur,

and did occasional  little spins through the town wearing the chauffeur’s cap)

before setting up a small beverage sales store

from the front room of her home,

told me how absolutely outraged she was,

that the officials in their town,

who should have known better,

had sent Aunty a letter

addressed to MRS!

(the mrs  (Frau)  for all women has become automatic here.

to avoid the societal stigma of “old maid”-

pushed through by those  women who  felt that the power of women is in manipulating


by using their children and homemaker entity as a weapon)

She was so outraged, I had to promise to go to the town hall,

letter from her in hand,

to straighten it out.

They looked at me like I was crazy,

agreed to change the header in all letters,

and then added,

“at least this generation is dying out.”

I sincerely hope not.

The world needs more Miss Seatons,

and Miss Marples,

and all the other dotty brilliant feisty  old ladies

with their heavy shoes,

and strong umbrellas,

and attitude of always swimming upstream.

For it was Aunty Emma, who,

when the others in the family tried to force me to wear my wedding ring

on my right hand, not left,

told me

“you’re an American. You wear it any way you want dear. They’ll get used to it.”

Being different

and free,

and doing your own thing,

as well as you can in the situation,

leads to tolerance toward others.

And, in my opinion, the world needs more tolerant excentrics.

So here’s to the “misses” of this world.

And all the Mrs who are great mothers,

and great household managers,

and don’t have to attack other women

to feel safe.

Oh, and of course,

to the misters,

and masters,

(officially up till about age 15-

which I find very ironic)

who love the misses.

And Mrs-es


of course, also,

the MIZ-es.

And as for the dementors:

expecto matronem.

(never underestimate the power of a quahog)

copyright 2016

I Think That I Shall Never See, A Poem Task Well-Writ By Me

I just got told it’s poem day,

and time to put the tome away,

the serious words of Gunga Din,

the  sparks of Shelly, and Franklin’s Ben,

they want our words upon the web,

In Tanka Form and jib jab jeb,

with pictures we must deck the rhyme,

and think but forward in half-time.

A science poem, eloquentry,

with nuts and bolt for geeky gentry,

A pentatonic full of spices

for cooking fans and fans of mices,

you know, that airy mess of chocolate,

you serve when guests are prone to talk a lot

about  the meat you nuke not fry to

squander time in writing haiku.

Mugwump jingles, element’ry

Always sell to parliament’ry,

Brexit, exit, Frexit, coup,

bipity bapity bopity boo.

Cuius Regio, he shall rule-

who poemizes -makes math cool.

Periodic tables can be sung,

if kept in G and  rhymed, by gum.

Need a meme for shopping time,

think absurd, and rhyme rhyme rhyme.

And feminists, both men and women,

like the verb form rhyme rhyome, rhymmen.

But should words fail- and you ad lib it-

the rhyme you must not ere inhibit,

just grab a pen and ink and nib it,

the rhyme for kids is rhyme, rhome, ribbit.

copyright 2016

And Gutenberg Lived Here: Moguntia U And The Viral Philo-Door


over a quick Greek dinner after a VERY long day at the U,

the discussion turned to,

as it often does when foreign guests are on board,

Moguntia U versus the rest of the world.

Main topic last night:


Also called branding.

As in:

Our president,

a very nice man who has apparently seen 2001 A Space Odyssey too many times,

recently put up huge obelisks  of black marble  with red letters,

and published,

in a series of memos,

that we are no longer the five hundred plus years old



for Johannes Gutenberg University,

name in user, and eco-friendly red and white

with a picture of a bearded Jogi

(Johannes-Gaensfleisch, called Gutenberg)

(no one really knows what he looks like)

and the giant red wagon wheel

that symbolizes Ra,

called Mogu,

by the local celtic settlers-

today moguntia, the sun-god.

from which we get Mainz

aka sun city.

(It’s quite nice here actually-

only about three snow days per year.)

No, we are no longer moguntia,

we are now,

and supposedly forever more,

at least until the next m.d.,

or chemist,

or other scientist

with no sense of history…

hey, our philosophy department is built according to the building plans

of a medieval cloister-

decides to give us back jogi,

and not


known locally as:

uh, jogi.

So anyway,

here in Jg/u,

one of the doors to the



philosophy building,

the one built to house the library of Alexandria-

in replica, of course,

the wisdom of the ages,

and the pennants of the yearly english department vs scientists soccer game,

where we whup their pants off,

is a huge medieval door-

so heavy that it,

the only entrance,

in true medieval style,

to the building,

and thus,

also the only entrance for the disabled,

has a huge electric door opener.


in true medieval style,

doesn’t work-

how can it,

it being medieval.

And since there is no money for a member of the technical crew,

the salaries being low,

but not medieval,

and no recruited watchmen on the tower to run down and open the door,

I assume by turning wheels, pulleys, and cranks,

the door remains blocked-

and has for quite a while,

with strong students carrying disabled colleagues through the windows, etc.


a couple of months ago,

the irritated students made a few calls,


a technician came, right?

Well, part right.


a technician came to put up a sandwich board,

with the sign

“the technician is informed”

Which I am sure he is,

and I am sure the president of the university meant it when he told the local version

of the national enquirer,

the technician is indeed informed.

a part has to be ordered.

Now, nearly two years later,

the door is famous.

So famous it has its own Facebook page-

die virale philo-tür,

dedicated to all of the now famous back talk to the famous technician

who is informed, but has still never fixed anything-

things like:

pictures of the technicians with comments like-

you don’t actually think we will fix anything after they do this, do you,


a picture of the baddie from Austin Powers

with the words: you say the “technician” is informed…

the count is now rising,

the door is plastered with continuously more

and funnier



as I mentioned before,

the door now has its own Facebook page,

a whole slew of tv interview and docu stories,

and is now the subject of a course in investigative journalism.

Hey, fine with me…

some of the pages are pretty funny.

And it definitely is getting little Mogu U-

about 35,000 students,

on the map.

But like I always say:

No one here in Gutenberg Land

may know what Gutenberg looks like

(his supposed statue sits on the 50th degree of latitude)

but we all do definitely know what the viral door to the philosophy building looks like.


copyright 2016

And Miss Phryne Fisher Lived Here: Nuts, Bolts, Sex, And Moolah

Sorry, but I just couldn’t pass this one up:

apparently, Melbourne,

that’s in Australian,

is right in the middle of their yearly so-called sex-po,

a trade fair for the erotic trades,

this year featuring:

get ready,

this is really good-

ta da-

pole-dancing robots.

yes, you heard me right-

pole dancing robots.

And the gigabit question in the article was:

where do you put the  money-

come on, guys.

Everyone knows robots dream of electric sheep,


only take plastic money-

swiped fast across their small tv screen abdomen,

especially with regard to the new plastic five-pound note,

now coming,

all shiny and new

and plastic,

off the….


But maybe not.

For it seems that:

the new plastic money apparently

contains a small amount of animal fat-

that white disgusting stuff normally used to make

non-vegetarian lardy cakes,

and mincemeat pies

for Christmas.

Or white pudding-

oats, fat, and pepper, in an intestine,

for breakfast.

Which, I assume won’t be served

at the sex-po in Melbourne,

because the vegetarians won’t allow it,

and because,

I assume,

the robot strippers on the pole,

would slide off,

if their palms



were greased with non-vegetarian five-pound notes,



the pole dancers,


with only minor modification,

can man the desk of major hotels,

serve cocktails,

mind children

while pole dancing?-

only run on platinum,


and high-grade diesel oil,

and could be seriously damaged

by the cruder stuff

of their trade.

Like fat English five-pound bills

being swiped across them,

or hands greasy from eating mince pies

and white pudding.

So my question, then,

of course,

being a red-blooded human type curious writer,


why do wives get smeared with grease

by amorous hubbies

eating white sausage,

hot dogs,

you get the picture,


why do wives

never see enough of the plastic money

to get smeared with the grease?

This is blatantly unfair.

And de-humanizing.

I mean, really,

what does a wife have to do to get a little respect?

Not to mention plastic money?

Put on a Borg suit

and pole dance?

copyright 2016