Ode to Foie Gras.



I haven’t lost the tastes that I grew up with as a child;

Sweet and salty, buttered, and then always very mild.

My mother thought of blandness as a useful spice, you see;

It was basic to her way of life, and all her cookery.


So when I’m faced with foie gras, and all other haute cuisine,

My platter very likely I will not wholly lick clean.

Goose liver isn’t something that I think of as a food –

It’s more of an enigma over which a man may brood.


Why should the Gallic goose be stuffed with corn just so gourmets

Can stuff themselves with foie gras until their eyes begin to glaze?

I’d rather have a Slim Jim with a can of Mountain Dew;

Such grease and carbonation are my steady pot-au-feu.



Eulogy to Spock

Leonard Nimoy. R.I.P.
Leonard Nimoy. R.I.P.

(from the New York Times obituary)

I never liked him much because his logic was intense.

For boys who play with spaceships, it did not make any sense.

Cold reason isn’t something that a boy appreciates;

Such acumen is foreign and it soon evaporates.


No, if you zoom through outer space you meet such wonders there

That there is no time for calculations or despair.

Just thrills and cool technology; green monsters and death rays –

These are what made boyhood such extraordinary days.


But Spock was like a parent, scolding crewmen to behave.

He was an algorithm that could walk and talk and shave.

I wouldn’t call him flawed, and yet I wouldn’t call him right.

His logic could not save him from the grave’s eternal night.


Jihadi John


(Inspired by an article by Steven Erlanger)

My mother read to me from Lewis Carrol’s lovely book

The story of a queen who would behead you, like a crook.

That story gave me strength to act, upon which I have drawn

When I moved to Syria – to be Jihadi John.


My face wrapped in a blackened shawl, my snickersnee quite sharp;

I help the infidels into the world of cloud and harp.

The media have speculated why I’m such a brute;

The truth is I am drawn to it by hope of blood and loot.


Religion plays but little part in all my gory deeds.

I just like cutting people down as if they were rank weeds.

Darth Vader is my role model, and Genghis Khan my star;

Before I slice your ears off I will play on my guitar.


Anecdotes from the Life of Groucho Marx.


Julius Henry Marx, aka ‘Groucho’ Marx, was born October 2, 1890, in New York City, New York.  He and his brothers Adolf (Harpo) and Leonard (Chico) made up one of the zaniest comedy groups in American history – The Marx Brothers.  On stage and in the movies, they kept audiences in an uproar with their outrageous puns, satires, musical donnybrooks, and all-around bad-boy behavior with those who were obviously their betters.  Groucho was the nominal leader of this band of merry Andrews, and as such usually had the best lines in their plays and movies.  He was also a noted raconteur in his private life, using his irrepressible wit to skewer stuffed shirts and deflate the pompous vaporing of so-called experts in any and every field.  Here are five gems on finances that came from him, and that we can all learn from:

  • “A hospital bed is a parked taxi with the meter running.’

Groucho was one of the first Hollywood stars to insist on using a stand-in for any stunts he considered to be even slightly dangerous.  He advised his children to work at boring jobs rather than risky ones; the money’s the same, he insisted, and you don’t have to spend time and money taking care of injuries.

  • “The only primrose path I know of is Wall Street!”

Groucho learned his lesson after the 1929 Wall Street Crash.  He invested in a wide variety of financial instruments, from real estate to bonds to precious metals, and was able to help his other brothers when their incomes dwindled at the end of their film career because they had insisted on investing in nothing but stocks.

  • “Alimony is like buying hay for a dead horse.”

Well, okay, this is more bitter hindsight than sound financial advice, since Groucho had 3 wives during his lifetime.  But he managed to stay friends with all three of his ex-wives and they eventually agreed to drop their alimony demands on him – thus proving once again that you can catch more flies with honey than vinegar!

  • “I find television very educational.  Every time someone turns on a set I go into another room and read a book.”

Groucho was an avid reader and book collector.  Towards the end of his life he estimated he had spent a total of four-hundred dollars on television sets, which were now worth nothing, and had spent well over twenty-thousand dollars on books, which were now worth nearly a million dollars.  He obviously knew the wisdom of spending money on things that not only give pleasure, but increase in value.

  • “The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing.  If you can fake those you’ve got it made.”

Groucho’s friends knew him to be a hard bargainer, but an honest one.  When he made a deal, he stuck by it no matter what.  This came in handy in the mid 1930’s, when the Marx Brothers’ movie career was considered to be over.  The team was let go by Paramount Studios and Groucho decided to take them into radio for a trial run.  When MGM Studios requested them for a movie, Groucho told them that they had already signed a contract for radio and would not back out of it.  Louis B. Mayer, the head of MGM, was so impressed with Groucho’s honesty and integrity that he personally bought out the team’s contract with the radio network, and the team began work on what many consider to be one of the greatest movie comedies every made, “A Night at the Opera”.

The Pay Day Loan.


I wonder if young Shakespeare ever took a payday loan

When he wrote of Shylock, that usurer well-known.

A pound of flesh is just about what you must sure forgo

If you deal with leeches at the local Check-N-Go.

You sign away your livelihood, your auto, and mink stole.

The Devil’s terms are easier; he only wants your soul!

Or you could always rob a bank, because first-time offenders

Are locked away with bed and board, and do not deal with lenders.

Check City battens on the poor and gullible amigo

Who doesn’t realize the rules are worse than in Stratego.

One minute late, one penny short, and suddenly they find

They are in an iron-clad and suffocating bind.

There is no Good Samaritan to help them find relief;

Only legislators who do not give a fig leaf.

Shout this from the mountaintops, but only if you dare

Face the Lender’s Lobby, who have a million bucks to spare.

How to Care for Your Knife.


In times of emergency it is a good thing to have a good knife with you. Hikingware.com offers a full line of knives for any emergency, both indoor and outdoor. But what good is the most expensive knife going to be if you neglect it and allow it to get rusty?  Here are some suggestions to keep your knife ready for action at a moment’s notice:

  1. Do not store knives in their sheaths. The leather collects moisture and creates pits on the blade.
  2. Check the locking notch of lockbacks regularly to ensure that it will work properly. Keep all sand and grit out of the knife. Keep the mechanisms clean. Remember to never rely on a folding knife to be permanently locked in position.
  3. Do not use the cutting blade as a can opener, chisel, pry bar, screwdriver or for any heavy work for which your knife was not designed. Also, don’t use the back of your knife as a hammer. It may break the springs, handles or pin.
  4. Handles made of wood can be occasionally rubbed with furniture polish or oil. Brass can be polished with household brass polish.
  5. Modern knife steel is very high quality material, but all metal will corrode through time. Occasionally oil the joints and springs of a pocket knife with a drop or two of oil. This will assure easier opening and closing and will prevent rust and lessen wear. Wipe the blades now and then with an oil-moistened cloth to prevent rust- especially if you live in a damp climate or close to the ocean. If your blade should get wet, dry it thoroughly. If your knife comes into contact with salt water or any substance you are not certain about, you should rinse it immediately with tap water, dry it and apply a light coat of oil.
  6. Do not attempt self-repair. This may void the warranty and can create an unsafe operating conditions.
  7. Discoloration of metal: Discolored metal has a blue/grey/black color, is a sign of oxidation, and precedes rust. Don’t let it happen to your knife; have a can of 3-in-1 Oil handy at all times.
  8. Rust has a reddish-brown color. Rust will eat pits into your blade and contaminate what you cut. Light rust can be cleaned with oil. Heavier rust needs to be cleaned with more abrasive action, such as cleaner, polish, or plastic cleaning pad.
  9. As an alternative, chemical solvents such as Acetone, nail polish remover, MEK, alcohol or paint thinner may be used to clean your blade. Use care with these solvents, as some, such as acetone, nail polish remover, white gas, or brake fluid may damage some knife handles. Avoid harsh detergents that contain Chlorine (mostly powders, including some for washing dishes and clothes), which can accelerate corrosion of the blade steel.

A well-kept knife will last a lifetime, and beyond. Aside from its intrinsic value as a survival tool, a good knife can be a family heirloom, passed down from one generation to the next. Many men cherish a knife they have gotten from their father, who in turn got it from his father. Take care of your knife, and it will take care of you!

Garann Means


(Inspired by an article by Tracey Lien)

I studied math in college for a tech career, and won

A programming position that was challenging and fun.

Initially the guys and I worked as a seamless team;

And I was living ev’ry woman’s Cinderella dream.


But then I noticed little things, that, taken as a whole,

Made me think the guys were not too happy with my role.

Passed over for promotion and a break room refugee,

There didn’t seem to be a welcome mat put out for me.


I stuck it out for thirteen years, then quit and went to Rome

Where I am writing novels and drink grappa while at home.

Ms. Dorothy Park got it right, as far as I can tell,

When she said “Revenge is best when you are living well.”



The Saga of Rolly, the Rolltop Desk.


(Inspired by an article by James Barron)


Rolly was a rolltop desk, the finest desk you ever saw.

Mahogany with copper knobs; more splendid than a Persian shah.

Made by artisans when men worked with their hands and hearts and pride,

Rolly went from factory to an office tall and wide.


The head of clerks took care of him, polishing his deep rich tan;

And filled him full of documents (and stamps from letters from Bhutan).

When at last the clerk retired, Rolly had no place to go.

Offices were getting smaller; no longer was he status quo.


In the basement they did put him, next to dust pans and the mop.

The janitor ate lunch upon him, spilling cheap red soda pop.

Now the spiders lace his fretwork with their ghostly webs so fine,

And he’s cracked and rusted open, covered in white dust like brine.


You and I are just like Rolly, if we grow too fat and wide;

Offices will never hold us – they will make us work outside.

Office space is so restricted, desks are smaller than tea tray;

Midgets are the only ones who work in offices today.