Observations on This and That
by Martin Green
Believe it or not I
had just about finished typing my January 2016 Observations on my
computer when it suddenly disappeared and I couldnt retrieve
it. I have no doubt it was a brilliant
piece. Id started it, following up on the
December LLAs and TGHs Observations, by noting the
LLAs Beverly and I encountered on the cruise we took last
November. As I recall,first and foremost was the
behavior of the ships elevators. Elevators on shore
seem to behave okay but on sea they become, like coat hangers,
antagonistic. If you want to go up, as to the buffet, all of
the elevators are going down. If you want to go down, as to
the Promenade deck, theyre all be going up. This leads
to desperate passengers getting into any elevator that comes, elevators crowded
with people going both up and down and confusion on all
sides. There were some other cruise annoyances but I
wont try to recall them now and I have to say that cruising, despite its
LLAs, is still good and at the very least gets you away from all of those
ordinary LLAs of your land life.
Looking back at last
years Observations, old age and its trials and consolations
(if any) were a recurring theme. I recently came across an
essay entitled This Old Man by noted New Yorker writer Roger
Angell, written last year when he was 93, and its highly recommended; you
can Google it. Here are some excerpts.
Im 93 and Im feeling great. Well, pretty
great ,unless Ive forgotten to take a couple of Tylenols in the last four
or five hours. We can all relate to
loss. Here, in my tenth decade, I can testify that the
downside of great age is the room it provides for rotten
news. He then goes on to enumerate the friends,
relatives and, not least, Harry, the fox terrier, hed
lost. When Harry died, he writes, Carol and
I couldnt stop weeping. Readers may recall that
Beverly and I lost our two cats last year. We can certainly
relate to that.
He then quotes Casey
Stengal as saying: Most of the people my age is
dead. You could look it up. Stengal
was only 75 when he said this and today 85 might be more
appropriate. Angell writes: The dead have
departed but gestures and glances and tones of voice of theirs
unexpectedly, along with accompanying touches of sweetness or
irritation. He goes on to cite studies showing that a
majority of oldsters are surprisingly happy. He
writes: Our children are adults now and mostly gone off, and
lets hope full of their own lives. Weve outgrown
We sense a trickle of contentment from the reliable
springs of routine
I think this is in general
true. One more quote: Ive endured a few knocks
but missed worse. I know how lucky I am, and secretly tap
wood, greet the day, and grab a sneaky pleasure from my survival at long
On this somewhat optimistic
note lets leave the subject of old age and, as this is the start of a new
year, look back at the old one and ahead at this one and see how things
appear. I can sum this up in one sentence: 2015 was
pretty bad and 2016 might be worse. Instead of going into
specifics (readers can supply their own) Id like to refer to a short
story I wrote a number of years called The Earth
Debate. It starts: In a distant galaxy on a
planet named Spielberg, whose civilization was so far advanced we cant
even imagine it (for example, they had no television) the Council on Earth
Studies convened its annual meeting. The Council
Chairman asks: So whats new and the Council Secretary
answers: Same old thing. Wars, famines, hurricanes,
earthquakes, reality TV, Donald Trump. (Yes, even way
back then I must have had a premonition).
There is a brief debate and
the consensus is that Earth is so far gone its time to take it over
(regime change) or perhaps wipe it out altogether. Then one
Council member says: The earthlings have a time they call the holidays,
Christmas and then New Years. Its traditional at
Christmas to wish for peace on earth and good will toward men and on New
Years to forget past errors and move ahead with hope for the
future. Maybe theres a chance, however slight, of a
change for the better.
The Council Chairman
considers and says: Okay. Well give them that
chance. The Council will meet again next
year. Were adjourned. Coffee and
refreshments will be served in the next room.
So, like the Council Chairman, Ill give us
another chance and hope that, against all odds, therell be a change for
the better. And thats the message for the new
year. Now I have to hope that this piece doesnt also
Attention, readers. In case you missed it in the last
issue, my latest book of short stories, Collected Stories, Vol. IV,
is available as an e-book on Amazon.com and other sites, only
The Last Earth Debate
by Martin Green
It was the end of
earth year 2015. In a distant galaxy on the planet Spielberg
whose civilization was so far more advanced than ours that we cant
imagine it (theyd banned reality TV) the Council on Earth Matters was
having its annual meeting. During the past few years the
Council had come close to deciding that, considering the sad state the Earth
was in, it was time to put an end to it. The majority pointed
to wars, famines, hurricanes, earthquakes, terrorism, corruption, pollution,
politicians, television, cell phones, texting, rap music and the
Kardashians. The minority argued that, despite all this,
there was some intelligence left and pointed to Einstein, Ghandi, Beethoven and
Shakespeare. Like the American Congress, no consensus could
Well, here we
are again, said the Council Chairman. Whats
The Council Secretary
read from his staffs report. The signs are not
encouraging. Terrorism is spreading. Russia
is expanding its power. So is China. North
Korea is parading its nuclear arsenal. The Mideast is of
course is in its usual chaotic state. Iran will soon be a
nuclear power. Its rivals will undoubtedly also try get
nukes. Europe is being overrun by refugees.
Greece is broke.
But what about
the United States? Isnt it still the most powerful
States has decided not to use its power; instead its leading from
behind. What does that mean?
clear. To continue, the United States is dominated by
extremists on both sides. Civility is gone.
The police are demoralized. Politicians routinely lie, that
is, more blatantly than before, but nobody seems to care.
doesnt sound good.
put the earthlings out of their misery, said the Council member leading
the majority whod always thought the Earth was beyond saving.
minute, interjected the Council member who led the
opposition. Let me remind you that this is the time of
Christmas and New Years on earth, a time when there is peace and good
will toward men and a time of new resolutions.
You make that
argument every year and every year things get worse.
one more thing, said the Council Secretary. The
United States is having an election next year. One of the
candidates is Donald Trump.
Yes, and the
other candidate is Hillary Clinton.
said the Council President, I think that decides it. I
have to admit Ill miss our yearly meetings.
The vote was a
formality and it was unanimous with one Council member abstaining.
thats done, said the President. Turning to the
Secretary, he said, Youll convey our decision to the Fleet
should be no problem, half a dozen of our mega-ships at most.
Good. Lets be merciful and do it before the next
presidential debate. The Council is adjourned. As
usual, therell be coffee and refreshments in the adjoining
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