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Jack is a graduate of Rutgers University where he majored in history. His career in the life and health insurance industry involved medical risk selection and brokerage management. Retired in Florida for over two decades after many years in NJ and NY, he occasionally writes, paints, plays poker, participates in play readings and is catching up on Shakespeare, Melville and Joyce, etc.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The President's Word Games, the Writers' Group Resurrected and Down with "Foodies"

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Word Games


President Obama sometimes plays games with the English language.  Lately, the Administration has been facing the problems created by Russia’s aggressive support of rebels in the eastern part of the Ukraine.  While the French and the Germans have been working with the Ukrainian government to try to come up with some sort of diplomatic approach to use in talking to Vladimir Putin, the United States is wondering whether it should supply arms to the Ukrainians.  Rather than referring to such arms as “weapons,” the President has consistently been using the phrase, “lethal weapons.”  This leads me to wonder if President Obama knows of a category of weaponry in our arsenals which is not “lethal.” (If we do, why are we spending money on them?) Do we have a store of water pistols, which the President wants to make clear would not be sent to the Ukraine because they aren’t “lethal.”  Or is he just using “lethal” as a word to frighten the Russians. 

Another usage which piques my curiosity is our government’s consistently referring to the Islamic State as ISIL.  Everybody else calls them ISIS, the “Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.”  ISIL, on the other hand translates as the “Islamic State in the Levant.” 

The Levant is an old term used to describe the area north of the Arabian Peninsula, south of Turkey, west of Iran and stretching to the Mediterranean Sea.  Using it enables the President to refer to the Islamic State without getting into the political mish-mash which Syria and Iraq present, and short-changing other Middle East nations, such as Jordan, and of course the Kurds in northern Iraq, also threatened by the Islamic State by leaving them out.  Certainly, the Islamic State’s stated goals extend beyond Iraq and Syria, so it probably is a more accurate term.  Nevertheless, nobody other than Barack Obama, John Kerry and their spokespersons use it.
Jack Lippman 

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 Writers' Group Resurrected
Some of the short stories appearing on the blog written by myself, and in the past by the late Sid Bolotin, came from the old Writers' Group at Cascade Lakes in Boynton Beach, Florida.   Well, the group has been resurrected, and is producing stories  once again.  Some of them, by myself as well as by others, will be appearing on this blog. Here is one of them.

A Bowler’s Story

Jack Lippman

2014 was a remarkable year for Ted.  It saw him bowl a “300” game and it also witnessed the dissolution of his marriage.  But let’s start at the beginning with what happened that memorable April evening at Sunset Lanes.

Ted and his three teammates on the Formidable Foursome were the worst team in the Thursday Night Men’s league, languishing in last place.  On a good night, and there weren’t too many of them, Ted and his buddies struggled to maintain their averages which ranged from 140 to 160.  But that evening, something miraculous happened.  Mort bowled a 640 three-game series, Joe bowled a 650 series, Lou bowled a 660 series and Ted bowled an unbelievable 790 series, highlighted by a brilliant 300 game, consisting of a dozen solid strikes in a row!  Actually, every single one of the games the four teammates bowled that evening was over 200!  It was quite a night, and their opponents, the first place Grizzlies, while no match for Ted’s team that night, bowled their usual high scores too.  It was the rare frame that evening that didn’t produce a strike for any of the bowlers on either team. 


As a result of this, the competition between the Formidable Foursome and the Grizzlies was wrapped up by nine o’clock, at least an hour and a half earlier than the usual time Ted and his teammates usually finished their bowling.  A game consisting of a lot of frames where two balls are thrown takes quite a bit longer than a game where most of the time all ten pins go down on the first ball thrown as was the case that evening.

After a quick celebratory beer, all four men piled into Lou’s car, whose turn it was to drive that week.  Ten minutes later, Ted was home, and skipping the elevator, he joyfully ran up the stairs to his second floor condo.

“Fran, Fran,” he called out.  “Guess what? I bowled a 300 game tonight!”

Her shrill voice responded sharply from the bedroom, “What are you doing home so early, Ted?  You usually get in about ten-thirty on bowling nights.  Why so early?   Give me a minute while I put on a robe.  I was sound asleep when you came in.”

“Never mind that, Frannie.  We’re gonna celebrate!  Stay just the way you are in bed!  I’m really on a high tonight, and I have no intention of letting it deflate!”  And with that, Ted pushed open the door to the bedroom, and saw his naked wife standing in front of an open window holding up a bed sheet in front of her and trying to block his view of the window. “What the fuck is going on?” Ted screamed.

Shoving his wife out of the way, all Ted was able to see were two legs culminating in two bare feet gingerly exiting the window in an effort to reach the pavement below as quickly as possible.

Falling from the second story window, Ted’s oldest friend, Bill, with whom both he and Fran had maintained a friendship since high school days, valiantly tried to twist and spin so that he might land on his feet, or even on his butt.  Unfortunately, he wasn’t successful and landed head first, splitting his skull wide open on the concrete.  When the EMTs arrived at the hospital with him, he was already dead.

Ted wouldn’t forgive Fran for cheating on him, moved out, saw a lawyer and is waiting for the courts to finalize the divorce.  Although not a religious person, he occasionally wonders if the unbelievable performance of the Formidable Foursome that evening might not have been some sort of act of God intended to get him home in time to uncover his wife’s infidelity.  And as for their new-found bowling prowess, the team remains in last place in the league and Ted hasn’t bowled better than 175 since his 300 game. He probably never will.

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Foodies Versus Good Health
Wikepedia tells us that a foodie is a gourmet, or a person who has an ardent or refined interest in food and alcoholic beverages. A foodie seeks new food experiences as a hobby rather than simply eating out of convenience or hunger. 

We live in a society which seems to cater to foodies.  Take a look at the articles in local newspapers and national magazines devoted to the latest creations of famous (and less renowned) chefs as well as recipes for preparation of adventuresome foods and desserts at home. Publications have food editors and food critics who fill the sections devoted to food and drink with their opinions, and usually, mouth-watering color pictures.   Watch all of this on TV as well, where there is a 24/7 channel devoted to food and nothing else.  Paula Deen has a magazine, writes articles and is on TV touting delicious fat-filled fried food that will put you in the grave earlier than you normally would be getting there.

Is all of this healthy?   Shouldn’t the emphasis be on providing all of the necessary foods we need each day within a reasonable amount of calorie intake.  Sweet things taste wonderful, but do we really need them in the quantities they are available?  Look at the increased appearance of adult onset diabetes.  Neither is health enhanced by the increased use of preservatives added to make food last longer and biological agents used in food manufacturing, agriculture and animal feed.  

Fried foods, food with high fat content, foods containing a lot of salt all combine to do no good for the cardiovascular system.  But they do make food, particularly in restaurants, taste wonderful.  A few years back, the late Robert Cummings, actor and advocate of healthy eating, suggested that we’d be better off not eating anything that was “white.”  While this is extreme, it is a good idea to watch your intake of bleached flour and things made from it, like white bread and cake, as well as salt, sugar and eggs. 

Take a look at the snack aisle in your local supermarket.   Bag after bag of chips and pretzels, in an almost infinite series of incarnations line the aisle.  Most of it is heavily salted and high in fat content.  Tremendous amounts of this junk are consumed in front of the nation’s TV sets, washed down with sugar-laden soda (and diet drinks are little better) each day.  We are committing suicide in that snack aisle.

I saw an article in the food section of the paper recently about a bar that was featuring a martini garnished with … bacon!  I’m sure a lot of “foodies” have tried it.

There is plenty of information out there on how to eat properly.  You can start out on the internet by finding out how many calories a day you should consume. You can do this by clicking on  http://www.calorieking.com/interactive-tools/how-many-calories-should-you-eat/?ref=nav  If it doesn't work for you, just copy and paste the link on your browser line.  (Nowadays, most foods have labels with calorie and ingredient information to help you do this.)  

America’s health depends on our giving eating properly a higher priority than the “foodies’ and fast food dispensers who dominate our culture have assigned it.   Once you start down this path, it is just a matter of maintaining the discipline needed to eat properly.
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Jack Lippman 

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