Clobbered by Courtesy

You can learn a lot by taking the bus around Belgrade.

The first thing I learned was how much I missed having a car. Once I got over that (about 7 minutes ago, approximately), I began to realize how much taking the bus is like following Rod Steiger through the doors of imagination into the Twilight Zone. The surreal is real on the bus. And it all happens in real time. Continue reading

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About Face!

As it seems there is no other way to say it, I shall flatly say it: it’s all over.

After 15 years (marked on the twentieth day of November, two thousand seventeen: save the date) of inhabiting the White City on the Danube, I look back at my many grumblings and rumblings and I see, on the whole, that I have not been nearly Grumpy enough to justify my own moniker.

I have had flashes of outrage, passing wry smiles, inward chuckles, and laugh-out-loud moments of disbelieving hilarity occasioned by the often surreal experience of living in Belgrade, but I have utterly failed to become the grumpy curmudgeon railing against the machine, victimized by circumstance, and put upon by society. This malcontent, in fact, has been my arch foe. He points a finger and frowns. He cannot see the irony. And NOTHING is funny in all this…

Therefore, the moment has come – long overdue according to some – to perform an about face. The time of Grumpy is passing into history and the age of Delight is upon us. All hail! Continue reading

Information is Power, Right?

Imagine yourself in a café.

You look around a little sheepishly, but you do not see the bathrooms. Finally, off in a corner you see a little gold plaque on a door. That must be it. You proceed apace in that direction. When all of a sudden you are embroiled in an ontological debate:

“That’s the women’s bathroom,” calls the voice of the waitress. Continue reading

Just the Trumphacts, Ma’am

Just the trumphacts, Ma’am

Just the trumphacts, Ma’am

Time to get with the program already.

Facts and science have no more place in our lives since “the people” cast their votes and democracy and moral integrity got trumped, and I think it is high time that we embraced the world of ‘trumphacts’ [n. plur.,ˈtrʌmp-fækts’].

Continue reading

For Alec Baldwin and the Rest of Us

snl15n-4-webDear Alec,

Although we admire your efforts, the sad truth is that we have reached the end of satire.

It is a prerequisite of satire to be more outrageous than the subject. Our new Monomaniac-in-Chief, however, cannot be outflanked. As insane as your Trump monologues sound, the real Trump (if one may assert such a thing) is more likely to hire you as a speechwriter than be given pause to reflect.

It is the end of an era for all of us. We have had a long run of presidents who were perfect subjects of satire – Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, “W” – who never let us down or left us wanting new material. We had a crook, a bumbler, a peanut farmer, an actor, and… well…“W” as perfect fodder and foils for our wit and parry. Continue reading

The End is Near

Our Livestock

Our Livestock

This is the thing I say every year.

As the calendar year winds down to a final push, in which we must all run out to find NEXT YEAR’S calendar, we stop to take stock of our lives.

Our livestock. Continue reading

The Grumpiest Time of the Year

walkingEverything I say offends someone.

As an equal-opportunity curmudgeon, I feel no sense of shame in my grumpy mutterings because, in the course of a year, each reader will find him- or herself singled out and injuriously slandered by my offhanded remarks. It is the nature of the beast.

And you’re welcome. Continue reading

So Long and Thanks for All the Selfies!

freedom_from_want_selfie2THANKSGIVING DAY, November 24, 2016 – As Americans gather around the Thanksgiving tables this afternoon to make the traditional Thanksgiving duck lips and peace signs in front of our cameras, I think we should take time out to have a look at what we should be thankful for this year.

Especially from an Instagram point of view.

The Thanksgiving selfie (what I am hoping that we will begin to call the “turkie”) shows us how much we have progressed since 1653. We have much about which to be proud and thankful.

Today we take our selfies seriously. Making sure that the Thanksgiving meal is in the background, maybe part of granny’s nose and a couple of cousins (and their smartphones too), we digitize and share a wealth of photos of ourselves. The original Plymouth pilgrims could only dream of such bounty. Continue reading

The Sum of All Fears

trump-failure-with-election-tiabbi-4b9fcfbc-6925-494e-9b61-349700949784Fear. Hatred. Xenophobia. Paranoia. Jingoism. Isolation. Zealotry. Bellicism. Ethnocentricity. And bigotry.

Good morning, America.

I woke up this morning not to any kind of “New America” but to an America that has finally allowed its baser instincts to chew through the leash on which they have been held for many years and take charge.

Continue reading

This is Serbia!

star-trek_spock_bridge-viewerWhile my memory is not the sharpest or the best in the world, I think I can manage to remember where I am. Most of the time anyway.

Still, it never ceases to amaze me at how many times, in the course of a normal month, week, day, and (on bad days) hour, people will invoke this sentence as a definitive argument and statement of fact. People will constantly tell me THIS IS SERBIA when I wonder why I cannot figure out the city bus schedule. Why does every official act require a mile-high stack of signed and stamped papers? THIS IS SERBIA! Where is the waiter with my change? THIS IS SERBIA! Why do we repair all the roads at once when the traffic is highest? THIS IS SERBIA!

Ah! Then that’s ok. Continue reading