Bill's Blither

Location: Cheshire, Connecticut, United States

devilishly handsome, screamingly funny, overly modest

Thursday, March 20, 2008

  1. St. Paddy's at the Wood 'n Tap

One of the great things about being a protective paternal figure is that I am sought out for advice, comfort, guidance, friendship, or all of the above by the occasional sweet young thing. This usually leads to a long acquaintanceship and, once in a blue moon, a sexual connection. Even without the latter, these experiences are ego-satisfying on many levels to me and helpful, I hope, to the young lady involved. Monday night was a good example of how this type of relationship is supposed to work.

We arranged to meet at the Wood 'n Tap in Southington for dinner. I arrived early and chatted at the bar with a fortyish couple who were sharing an appetizer and a lot of beer. I regaled them (people say I'm a great regaler) with an account of my family excursion the previous weekend to "Magic Wings" (this is for some other post). The only reason I mention this here is that the conversation turned to my description of a young couple that I had seen there in which the female half (dressed in tight jeans) resembled a walking stick. Why modern young women feel that this look is attractive is beyond me, and this opinion was shared by the couple that I was talking with ( that woman was what we used to call "pleasingly plump", which I found pleasantly distracting). Her companion looked at least equally pleased, so I left them to their evenings dalliance.

At that point my dinner partner arrived; mid-twenties, tallish, very attractive, and definitely not a stick figure. She is one of those women who for some inexplicable reason is totally unconscious of both her own attractiveness and her effect on the opposite sex. This leads to a lack of sexual self-confidence (or maybe shyness) that obviate some possibilities that might be available were she to project a more aggressively confident manner. We had a discussion of this latent attribute over a drink.

We then, over dinner, went on to review her recent life decisions and her happiness with those results, and her unhappiness with her unsettled future. I gave her the advice that any person would from my prospective: (1) untangle yourself from your family, (2) figure out what you really want to do, and (3) do it. It is amazing how clear to me solutions to other people's problems are, especially those of beautiful young women. You might even say I've made it my chosen specialized field. This specialty includes gazing across the table into limpid eyes (didn't I tell you she had them?), which is a condition that I find moves the conversation right along. Results of the dinner appeared to be mutually satisfying.

The interesting thing about this whole shtick is that actual sex between us is not, and probably never will be, a part of our friendship. (I should be shot for saying that, as it goes against my philosophic bent). Although this SYT is a huge turn-on for me (and the world), I left the dinner perfectly content with the way things were, with no Machiavelian manoeuverings dancing in my brain. I credit this to the young lady herself, perhaps I've underestimated her sociosexual abilities. Wouldn't be the first time.


Friday, March 07, 2008


This week in my Western Cinema course we are studying Japanese "Westerns" (Directed by Kurasawa), which are actually Samurai movies which were later reinterpreted as Westerns. One of these is Yojimbo, later redone by Sergio Leone as one of his "spaghetti westerns". I originally saw Yojimbo over three decades ago, and the following is why it made an indelible impression.

In those days I was working my tail off as a young stockbroker in New Haven. For 3 or 4 nights a week I stayed at the office and made "cold calls" to attract clients (you could do that then because the public was actually being called by professionals rather than being bombarded by minimum-wage flunkies with no knowledge about the subject of their call, so a lot of people actually enjoyed being called). I quickly discovered however that dinner hour was a bad time to call, so that meant that on several week days I had to kill the hours from 5-7 PM. Since drinking was not an option (I had to stay somewhat sober to make calls), there was very little else to do at that hour in New Haven except go to the movies. The only theater open in the late afternoon was a little art theater which presented for my enjoyment risque European films and samples of a burgeoning art form...pornography (still relatively new to middle-class consumption).

I therefore became expert in several fascinating new (to me) sexual gymnastics and grew conversant with the new genre. I saw such classics as "Behind the Green Door" (Marilyn Chambers, the Ivory Soap girl, was magnificent) and the infamous "Deep Throat"(I've never seen so many men wearing raincoats, and in their laps yet). Then I saw an announcement that the following week the theater was playing "Yojimbo"

I assumed of course that this was some Japanese form of soft porn, complete with Geisha girls sinuously removing their obis. So in the theater I settled back in a semi-tumescent state, anticipating the imparting of fresh edification from my newly discovered movie genre.

But wait, here in this dark Western-style street was a dog trotting toward me with something in his mouth. Then, instead of being some sexual device of pleasurable enigmatic purpose, the object that the canine was carrying was.....a severed human hand. Now, the viewing of any severed body part is a shock to the system, but when one is expecting something prurient, it is downright mind-shattering.

After that experience, it took me several days before I could even think about sex. Trying to explain why to my wife was just too embarrassing. Now I can understand why women fake headaches. Of course whenever I see Yojimbo, all this comes back to me. Maybe the professor will let us see "Green Door" instead. (Marilyn really should have gotten an Oscar nomination. Hollywood politics, you know).


Tuesday, March 04, 2008


As I advance deeper into this veil of tears, I realize that the memories that I possess will die when I exit. This could be tragic. On the other hand, many of the things that happened to me (or that I caused to happen) deserve to disappear permanently from this earth when I do.

One example of this is my music. I love to sing and play the piano. I even used to get paid for doing it because I'm a ham, love an audience, and can "sell" a song. My appeal, however, is definitely not to afficionados. My fingering is atrocious and I'm faking it most of the time. People like to listen for reasons which are unfathomable to me. My songwriting is the same, formulaic, banal, but somehow it catches the ear. It needs to be purged, and fortuately will be when I'm gone.

Another thing that will go is the memory of my treatment of women in my early years. The things I did and said for the sheer purpose of maneuvering a female into bed, the lies I told, the manipulations I pulled, all the ploys used by a predatory male. The tragedy is that the more vulnerable a woman was the more likely I was to succeed. Worse yet, I became so adept at leaving relationships that the "victims" actually felt good about the whole thing. I wasn't even honest enough to let them hate me as they should. All this will pass when I do, leaving only a fond memory, if anything at all.

It's strange that the human mind remembers vividly the mistakes and gaffes that we make and that no amount of effort will erase them. The compulsion to go back decades and try to fix the hurtful things we've done is overwhelming, but of course impossible. The good news is that as I move along in years I seem to be getting better at not repeating them. Women (of all ages, apparently) are still drawn to me without all the effort I used to put into it. I don't think that I'm really getting nicer, I've just got a better memory.


Sunday, February 17, 2008

Academic Evangelism

When I was a child I was raised in two small towns, one in southern Illinois and one in northwestern Connecticut. In both cases there were fewer than 5 Jewish families, so I was subjected to the hegemony of the overwhelming Christian majority. Most of this was an unconscious process, the singing of Christmas carols in school (Christ wasn't MY Lord, in song or out) and the chanting of the Lord's Prayer before class every day. This erosive process did little damage to my self-esteem, as I considered then, and still do, that blind faith and rote learning are marks of intellectual weakness, although I couldn't have expressed that thought in elementary school.

This feeling was re-inforced watching my grandfather argue with the evangelistic Fundamentalists at the Elk's Club in Illinois. He was an intellectual well-versed in biblical study of both testaments, having been a Rabbi in Russia and being schooled in classical Greek, Latin, Aramaic, and of course English and Hebrew. Watching him destroy Fundamental arguments with multiple literal interpretations of the supposed Word of God (which Word in which language?) taught me a prime lesson; intelligence trumps faith in trying to understand the unknown, and the organized religions of the world are a very weak link in that process, with agendas of coercion and power outstripping pursuit of knowledge.

The problem is that dogmatic coercion extends not only to religious areas but also to academia. I've observed in my graduate studies in creative writing that the poorer teaching involves sets of "rules" that stifle creative thought. When judgment of excellence is based on conventional form rather than insightful thought, learning and creative ingenuity are both stifled in the same manner as theological theory is quashed by rigid Fundamentalism.

A good example of this is my class on "Slave Writing", which should have been a perfect fit for an old civil rights activist like me. The content of the course was fascinating, but the professor's application of her version of academic writing left me feeling stifled and inept. She insisted in examining a minute detail of weekly reading and applying restrictive methodology to the writing.
When I wrote my (of course brilliant) interpretations I was told I was being too broad, B minus. Aside from the fact that no other graduate professor gave alphabetical grades and that in none of my other classes had I received other than a Distinguished(A+) or a High Pass (B+ to A-), my conclusion was that the problem was the professors lack of perception, not my own. I felt that I had learned little in the class other than my reading. A sampling of my graduate school classmates revealed that they shared a similar low opinion of her methods.

I've found traces of this syndrome in other courses. Even excellent professors fall into the habit of relying on elitist and non-creative academic methodologies. A dogma developed by a few educators, whose agenda seems to consist mostly of techniques for exclusion of creative thinking, has a large dominion over the academic world, and in many cases has become the standard. Arise and be heard, you free thinkers. Break the binds of academic stultification.

Somehow that trumpet call doesn't match up with "We Shall Overcome".


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Winter Semester

As you may have deduced by now, I love women. I am very appreciative of the fact that they come in all sorts of shapes, ages, and personalities. It's like Forest Gump's box of chocolates, you never know what you're going to get. The fact that I am old as Methuselah only broadens my range of appreciation: 50s look as good to me as 20s, 180s as good as 110s, uppity as good as yuppity. This brings me to my new box of Whitman's Samplers, my graduate class in Western Cinema.

It is unfortunate that we are merged with a course-related group of undergraduates. You have to throw the 18-21 year olds back in the water. Like baby trout, they don't have the capacity to defend themselves against mature anglers. They have wonderful instincts and look delicious, but they don't make much of a meal until they add enough life experience to their native brain power to be mentally, sexually, and socially companionable.

Fortunately, our class has such an outstanding array of pulchritude that it will keep me blissfully content through Spring. One sweet young thing, a twenty-something of breath-taking beauty, has twice rescued me from techno-disaster. Trying to learn the newly computerized library system, I fell hopelessly behind the instructor because I couldn't manipulate the rollers they provide on a lap-top (to substitute for a mouse). Reading my SOS body language, this angel-of-the-classroom reached over with swan-like grace and, with two flashing strokes of her delicate fingers brought me and my laptop right up to speed. I should have swept her away to Camelot immediately, but just in time I remembered that her boyfriend is a rather large fellow who works in law enforcement, so I kept my peace.

Not to be discouraged, however, I found more appropriate objects for my weekly fantasy. One woman, whom I would judge to be (but never mention) in her mid-40s, sat next to me while watching a required film in the library. By the end of the first scene I had mentally projected us to the local drive-in in the back seat of my GTO. I was just rounding third base when I remembered that drive-ins were obsolete and that, anyway, her spouse (or mine) would in all likelihood object to the procedings.

I fall in love about twice a week. This usually occurs when I become aware of a woman's high intelligence or exceptional talent. The current object of my pseudo-romantic fixation is aroud 50 years old and has almost as many neuroses as I do, but she would fit well into the afore-mentioned GTO (which I sold, unfortunately, in 1967).

I enjoy being Walter Mitty, regally scanning my class for objects of fascination. So many dreams, so little time. Beats the h-ll out of reality, though. When I convert some of this stuff to real life, you can't imagine the trouble I get into.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Sunday Brunch in New Haven

You'll find that this post is significantly different from my somewhat leering portrait of lunch at Giovanni's. This is because (1) my wife was there, (2) my wife's friends were there, and (3) in case you didn't get it the first time, my wife was there. My wife has an aversion to my acting like an adolescent, which is unfortunate in view of the fact that this is my usual behavior. For instance, when I throw popcorn in a movie I get a minorly violent slap on the back of my head. If at a party I inadvertantly brush my hand against a convenient luscious derriere (and leave it there for five or six minutes) I get the same sort of overreaction. The back of my head has a hollow spot from this mistreatment. So, as you can see, it behooves me to take some precautions in my wife's presence.

Meanwhile, back to the narrative. My wife had read a good review of a restaurant in New Haven, the Bella Rosa on Whalley Ave., which advertized a Sunday brunch. We gathered up our usual bruncheon companions, Peter and Nancy, and (me driving) headed to the Elm City (you"d think they'd rename the dam--d place after the elm bilght but no...). The drive was uneventful except for the following remarks from She Who Must Be Obeyed: (1) "Bill, try to drive on OUR side of the road", (2) "Bill, you didn't have room to pass that guy", and (3) "Bill, do you really think 75 is a safe speed?". With such pleasantries wafting to my ears the 30 minute drive only took 5 hours in Bill years.

We arrived at the restaurant and waited on the sidewalk for 15 minutes for a table (there were no reservations of course). The meal was, surprisingly, well worth the wait. The menu was varied and imaginative, the service excellent, and the ambience relaxed. The waitress was attentive without hovering and the maitress d' was smiley and helpfully efficient. The food was delicious, although the portions were so enormous that the % of obesity in the U.S. probably rose 5% by the end of the meal. When I mentioned this to the waitress she suggested that I could take some home, but what fun is that. When I looked down again I noticed that all my food must have evaporated or something. They didn't offer refills on entrees.

Peter and Nancy talked about their upcoming trip to South Africa, Kenya, Botswanna, at al. I was picturing a letter from Peter saying, "All's well. Nancy gored by a white rhino but it's fine. He had a short horn". I'm not sure where these bizaare thoughts come from, everyone knows white rhinos have long horns.

Anyway, I have to close now with the Super Bowl upcoming. Fortunately, I don't have to drive.


Monday, January 28, 2008

How Could We Have Been So Stupid?

I've just watched George Bush's State of the Union speech, and stared in amazement as he spun one politicalized lie after another while the Republican side roared approval of one failed policy after another while the Democrats looked on in stone-faced silence. Justifying the extension of a deadly and doomed war, cynically buying votes with a "stimulus" package which will stimulate nothing, re-introducing a "trickle-down" tax break for the very wealthy who will never spend their unearned good fortune, and crushing the privacy rights of citizens and aliens alike with heavy-booted government wire-taps. All this while we, the public, watch in silence.

I thought back to my first experience in politics, helping Jack Kennedy get elected. I, and all my college friends, had a clear, pure view of the absolute rightness of a man championing civil rights, national unity, and the value of intelligence in politics. Surrounding himself with educated thinkers instead of polical hacks, he created a government that resurrected a belief in American politics, leading us to the confidence that all obstacles could be overcome. Not by war but with a Peace Corps. Not with disrespect and cynicism, but with the firm extension of civil rights and unabating respect for personal liberties.

Then, disaster. Kennedy is assassinated. Martin Luther King is assassinated. Malcolm X is assassinated. Bobby Kennedy is assassinated. Watts burns. Johnson embroils us in an unneeded, endless war through lies and exaggerations (sound familiar?). Nixon continues the jingoistic hostilities demanding an impossible total victory before he brings the troops home (sound even more familiar?). Nixon tries to steal an election illegally (sound even more familiar? But unlike Bush, he didn't get away with it). Nixon resigns. Agnew resigns. The public ceases to expect honesty in politics. Carter proves gutless and ineffectual at both war and finance. Reagan leads us into a major economic disaster by tax-benefitting the rich (and those who think they're rich), then is transformed into some sort of saint after his death. Clinton runs the country splendidly and then can't keep his zipper shut. The religious Right continues to try to rearrange the constitution so that they can bully the rest of us out of our rights while pursuing an ideological agenda. Evangelism can't be the basis of the Constitution for gosh sakes, the darn thing was written mostly by Jefferson, a Deist who had not a syntilla of belief in Christianity.

Which brings us to the cynicism (and abject stupidity) of George Bush, the leader of our country. We allowed him to take office on a clearly flawed election swung by a state controlled by his BROTHER. (Jeb couldn't step aside while a thorough investigation was made on this crucial issue?). This is a man who despite a Yale degree can't pronounce the word "nuclear". He picks as vice-president a hatchet-man with riveted ties (financial and personal) to the defense industry, then we're somehow surprised that this VP collaberates in a scheme to start a war. He appoints an Attorney General who runs rough-shod over his obligation for fairness in judicial appointments. He keeps up the pretence of searching for nuclear weapons, a job that has as much chance of success as OJ finding the "real" killer. And we elected (sort of) this idiot TWICE. I guess we deserve what we got.

I was going to revert to my usual tools, irony, satire and humor, for this post, but that speech really ticked me off (could you tell?). Does he really expect Americans to continue to buy this hogwash? Are we that stupid? Apparently.