Dear Mole: A Shrug of the Shoulders


The image above is the famous scene from Dr. Strangelove wherein Slim Pickens gleefully rides an atomic bomb to his demise in his enthusiasm to complete an ill-advised nuclear strike against the Soviet Union.

To be honest, Mole, the Cold War was already well-in effect by the time I was born into this world, but the overblown celebrations at the demise of the USSR failed to contain an ounce of prognostication. For instance: where did a good chunk of the Soviet arsenal go? These weapons were not destroyed so much as clandestinely redistributed.

I don’t give a rat’s ass about Putin. This doesn’t mean my heart doesn’t break for the people of Ukraine, it simply means that for someone as sociopathic, narcissistic and militaristic as that little Keebler Elf, only the most extreme measures will have any potential effect. What might constitute such a measure?

Here’s a thought: Recently, Vlad the Insecure indicated his intention to attend this year’s G-20 summit. Biden, though I understand his outrage, on an international stage opined that Putin should NOT be allowed to attend. This summit does not occur in Russia or Belarus or any other potentially problematic nation. So, my question is why do world leaders insist on overcomplicating everything? The G20 should embrace him with open arms, on neutral territory and then, I don’t know — arrest him? Kill him? Seems to me like this would be a golden opportunity, but our hands, I’m afraid, are too tied by “international norms”. There’s no other answer. He has to be deposed or eliminated.

But I didn’t come here to discuss international politics. I am pinpointing Putin (or Trump, or Kim Jong On, or Bolsonaro, or Hitler, or Mussolini, or Mao, or even Caligula, for that matter) in the hopes that I can impress upon you how OUR fear of him is his strength and keeping us on our toes is his M.O. He has no human empathy. He is a sociopath, like all the others I just named. His allies across the globe are dwindling faster than my bank account. NOW is the time to grow a pair, international community of “peace loving nations” and stop being so frightened about potential responses. We either behave like civilized beings and come to each other’s aid in the interest of civilization and human decency, two things that are rapidly going out of style, or we brace ourselves for the horrors to come that are more unimaginable than anything you can envision.

But here’s the real question: is this all just naive idealism? Are we even the type of animal that is capable of such large-scale evolution and acceptance? I, for one, am completely convinced that we are not.

While this may sound hopelessly bleak to others, it is my biggest panacea. Drop your sense of importance: it is unreal. Accept yourself as a temporary spark of life that was lucky enough to experience the phenomenal world for as long as you were, and THEN, accept yourself as the temporary, mortal expression of an eternal larger consciousness of which you are part, but the “you” part of it will be gone — memories, loved ones and all — at the moment of your death, never to return.

You don’t want to live forever. Trust me. That would be the ultimate curse.

Know why everyone on earth is so obsessed with the fact that The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire smacked Chris Rock at the Oscars the other night? Because it’s tabloid, and frivolous, and ultimately meaningless. This is what matters to people, not their own mortality or quality life. (and CERTAINLY not social justice and equity and democracy).

We’ve been through this shit since the dawn of humanity. But now our weapons are far more destructive, apocalyptic even. THAT’s what ‘peace loving” Americans actually consider progress.

See ya’ in Hell,


Dear Mudge, Good News!

That was mean. I’m sorry.

There is no good news. It was total click-bait.

But, see how desperate eager we are to hear of some rosy communique. Some glowing event that’s not glowing from nuclear fallout. Some joyous happening that might lift our spirits, ease our constricted chests, remind us that our existence is not all dismal and disgusting. Something happy. We all crave the tiniest smidgen of glee so much that we cling to the nearest lamppost, its light golden in the fog.

“Good News,” he said. What wonders might now unfold? Wonders indeed. Just more bullshit, I’m afraid.

Epicurus would knit his brow and scold us for such a negative mindset. “Drink a beer, smoke a smoke, dance a dance and laugh a laugh while you still have breath.”

Seneca, oh Seneca, he would remind us that neither the highs nor the lows should we cling to. Keep an even keel, steady as she goes, yield, nay to the joys nor the misery.

But how long can we languish in such dejection? The “blues” seem not so much a melancholy tune that we bob our heads to, but a theme we now lift as our standard, its gloomy tail hanging listless in the sallow breeze. I wonder…

Would there be increased teenage suicide if children knew that the adults they trusted had absolutely no idea what they were doing?

“Mom, Dad, what were you thinking?”
“That’s the problem, honey, we weren’t.”
“Yeah, sweetums, we’re just as lost as you are.”

And then there’s Tsar Bomba, I mean Czar Putin. “What the hell, dude? Your 19th Century Imperialistic designs on the world are like so out of touch.” And we thought the Orange Dumbass was problematic…

Hoping you’re well and Jessie is well’er,

Here are some pretty flowers.

Dear Mole: Illogical Logic

Hello, Old Friend.

The mountain air is invigorating, the wildlife gives Jesse plenty of critters to chase, and I took my first trip to Burger Boy last week when my niece and her boyfriend came through town. A top notch burger, as expected, but the fries left something to be desired.

There was an episode of the original Star Trek series wherein Spock took charge as commanding officer after Kirk disappeared on some unknown planet inhabited by an aggressive and bloodthirsty man in a silly monster suit creature. As CO, it now falls upon Spock to decide which crew members to beam down to the planet in search of The Cap’n. Of course, he approaches the problem with what he deems to be “pure logic”, yet time and again, those unnamed crewmen lose their lives due to Spock’s inability to factor emotion into his decisions. You see, since the creature itself was potentially guided by emotion and his human shipmates unquestionably so, failure to factor in the possible emotion-driven reactions of all involved wound up killing quite a few very temporary Enterprise denizens whose names you won’t even find on IMDB.

I talk a really good game with the logical, Stoical nonsense, but like anyone and everyone who ever has paid lip-service to this dubious ideal, I’m full of shit. In fact, what is the common impetus for the intellectual “endeavors” of history’s Stoics, logicians, Zen masters, and stone-faced semi-statues? That’s right: an emotional distaste for uncomfortable emotions. By claiming that I don’t experience such emotions or even that they affect me to a lesser degree than they do most people, I am ironically admitting that at some point in the past, I found my own human emotions to be so intense, not to mention anathema to my implausible worldview, that they had to be eradicated (impossible). In this sense, all those years sitting on my ass in front of a shrine of pewter Buddha statues actually represented an emotional outburst, not a pragmatic training of my mind. What’s the difference between the calmness of the “enlightened” mind of the Dalai Lama, for instance, and the defeated stillness of Al Bundy? Very little. One of them actually believes he’s doing something important while the other believes quite the opposite, but the end result is more similar than any of us would like to admit.

On a completely different note, I got a remote job transcribing recorded interviews for insurance companies, which is the same exact occupation I held 30 years ago, but without the commute. And as you can imagine, it turns out that “wasting” a year and a half of my life composing the utterly ridiculous shit show that is Notes From The Avalon served as indispensable preparation for this particular occupation.

It’s also a Stoic’s dream job.

And now, for no logical reason whatsoever, here’s Kage and Jaybels utterly slaying the Beatles:



Dear Mudge, Extreme Stoic Expression?

How ya been, Mr. ‘Mudge?

How’s that mountain air, the wildlife and the local burgers treating you?

I’ll tell ya, it’s been a hella strange mix of spring into summer this year. Weeks of slogging through a dull, mundane existence, punctuated by bizarre spikes of unpleasantness. A crazy ice storm and loss of power and internet. My daughter rushed to the hospital for emergency appendectomy. The ever constant drone of Rust code in my mind and last weekend’s 115F degree heat. And of course there was the month after month of writer’s apathy and far too much television/youtube. Yes, I think one can definitely consume too much TV — life’s emotion and experiences fed vicariously through an aural/visual IV losing much of its punch and verve along the way.

And how can one forget the constant hum of covid news that appears to be finally dwindling. Being vaccinated certainly takes the pressure off keeping current on that front.

These days, I’m feeling around, like a mole probing for earthworms, wondering if I can write my way out of indifference. As I do, of course, I begin to ponder the philosophical aspects of the task. This latest is simple: can a Stoic, who prides himself on attenuating the highs and lows of existence, ever write passionately about anything?

If one never allows oneself to feel the ecstasy or the misery how can one possibly communicate such emotions through words? Can you write of pure joy without ever experiencing ecstatic bliss? Can you write of raging hatred if you’ve never let abhorrent loathing consume you? Even if only through imagination, could a Stoic ever allow himself to drift out of his narrow channel of calm acceptance?

Are the best writers always impassioned humans?

Stay cool my friend,


Dear Mole: Media Is Not In Our DNA

I officially “moved in” to my new place on March 28. At the time, I figured that at worst, I had about 3 days of being beholden to my antiquated DVD collection before the DirecTV installer showed up on the first of April.

He never showed up. As soon as the 9 to 5 window had expired, I called DirecTV and was informed that the driver “couldn’t find” my place but apparently hadn’t bothered to call me for directions. So I heard myself do something of which I didn’t think myself capable: I told them to go fuck themselves.

I spent the next 3 weeks essentially TV-free. Sure, once in a while I would throw on an episode of the Trailer Park Boys or Bob’s Burgers to watch while I ate dinner, but I was pretty much left to my own devices when it came to entertaining myself.

Last weekend, I picked up a Roku TV and now I have Hulu and Amazon Prime and all sorts of shit I never had before. Problem solved.

But was it really a problem that deserved a solution?

My point is that despite what I would have predicted, the psychological effect of a sudden pulling of the TV plug after years of constant consumption really wasn’t all that significant. My brain simply looked elsewhere for occupation. There’s plenty of wildlife up here, not to mention foliage the likes of which I’ve never seen before. Oh, and one hell of a great local cannabis dispensary within half a mile of my home.

We feel beholden to media consumption because we’re told that we are by the very media that we consume.

Old movies have something of the taste of the familiarity of an old friend. We know the dialogue inside and out and there’s no chance of being unpleasantly surprised by the outcome. But of course, old friends are better than old movies for the simple fact that they’re not static. Surprises are assured. And even when those surprises are unpleasant or contrary to the image of that friend we’d cultivated in our minds, they still contribute to the vitality of life while re-watching old films does quite the opposite. That’s not to say that I won’t re-watch my favorites many more times before I slip off this mortal coil — it’s just to say that when I’m engaged in such an activity, it has about the same effect on my life as a good nap.

But one good thing came of my 3 weeks of nothing but DVD fare on my TV: Letterkenny introduced me to yet another kick-ass band called The Tune-Yards. Check ’em out:

Oh yeah, if you haven’t yet watched The Goldbergs, do so immediately. Thanks, Hulu!