Editor: Lao Du, can’t you think of something positive.  Everything you say is characterized by rejection and opposition.  It wears a little thin, especially in Ping Pong Parkinson where you never hear a discouraging word.  Try to say at least one thing good that’s happened to you over the course of your life.

Lao Du:  Okay, sure, I can do that. In fact, I’ll give you two – two immense changes that have enhanced the lives of millions, maybe billions, of people.

Editor:  Please, do tell.

Lao Du: Shoelaces and hair combs.

Editor:  What?

Lao Du: They don’t break anymore.

Editor:  That’s it?  Those are man’s most valued advancements in the last 75 years?  What about science?  Computers, space exploration?

Lao Du:  Well, yeah, that, too. But you need a good comb up there in the space station, and when you go to your computer room, it’s best to have your shoes tied and not have to worry about the laces breaking, know what I mean?  Ya know, you should ask me where man has gone wrong.  Man does not always march forward, ya know.

Editor:   Okay, I’ll indulge you.  Let’s make this brief – I can’t take much more anyway.  So, where has man failed during the course of your lifetime?

Lao Du:  From third grade or before? That would be 1954.

Editor:  Yeah, yeah, third grade, from 1954.  Where has the human race, civilization, come up short or floundered?

Lao Du:  Hair tonic.

Editor:  Oh, please!  That’s flapdoodle.  More screwy hooey.

Lao Du:  No, really! There’s no Brylcreem or Vitalis anymore.  Not even Wildroot Cream Oil, Charlie!  How the hell are you supposed to slick back your hair these days.  I’m tellin’ ya, we might as well go back and live in caves.

Editor:  All right, that’s it.  I’ve had enough. I can’t take it. Just do what you want.  Go ahead, write one of your screeds. Gripes and grievances. Rant and rage.  Flapdoodle.  Screwy-hooey.  Go ahead, I don’t care anymore.  I quit.

Lao Du:  Thank you, and I hope you feel better.  Wash your hands, take a baby aspirin and call me in the morning.

Editor: C’mon!  We’re in the middle of a catastrophe.  Can’t you be directing your thoughts to social distancing and ‘flattening the curve’ instead of bellyaching?

LD:  Well, this is sort of psychological in that I give people hope that they can muster themselves to do things by first getting angry and expressing some discontent.   Besides, that we still can complain is a constitutional privilege. And besides that besides, my complaining is geared toward reform – toward improving the situation.  I’m really thirsting for righteousness here. Remember what the bible said: “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled” (Matthew 5:6).

Editor:  So you’re not just thirsty for righteousness, you’re also hungry for righteousness?

LD:  Look, I’m out for the disadvantaged, okay.  I’ve devoted myself to helping those unfortunate people who can’t handle a short serve.  I bring succor to those ill-fated, rule abiding regular players who are victimized by the satanic Long Pips.  I’ve tried to lead the ping pong masses toward a better and more evenhanded life.  I’ve known right along what my mission in life should be: establishing a homeland for sandpaper.

I’ve attempted to live an exemplary life – a life as righteous as Job.  Am I not a forgiving man?  Is it not I who says: Forgive those with Long Pips, for they know not what they do … sometimes.  And is it not I, displaying profound humility, who has sought forgiveness for some youthful over exuberance when I asserted that those who played with Long Pips were the Soldiers of Satan, that antispin was ungodly, and that speed glue was also the work of the Prince of Evil Spirits.

Ed:   What about when you advocated, not just excommunicating players with Long Pips, but burning them at the stake?

LD:  Yes, and stoning them biblical style, which they also deserved, but which I deeply regret having said in front of a microphone. I have atoned for all that.

Ed:  How have you atoned?

LD:   I said 10 Hail Marys and a few Our Fathers.  I have committed myself to good works.  To smoothing the world, with … Sandpaper – 220 grit so it doesn’t harm those expensive Xushaofa 3 star balls.

Editor:  If I had been the priest hearing your so-called ‘earnest’ confession, I would have declared you a righteous man, all right – self-righteous! Enough!  Don’t feed me any more humility or piety.  Just blather up while I get some valium. Go!


Western Connecticut, where I live,   is one of the most inhospitable places on earth.  Sometimes, during the night, temperatures can plummet to the low 50’s this time of the year.  The days aren’t much better – if you don’t roll down your windows, the temperature in your car can reach the high 60’s.  It’s not even unusual to have winds gust up to 15 or 20  miles per hour.  And the rainy season?  Foe-get it!  You can have fog and drizzle lasting more than a half hour, so that even the mailman gets to my mailbox more than 15 minutes late.  Hey, what’s this world coming to?  I’m tellin’ ya, it’s like living in the stone age.

There’s a whole lot of other stuff bugging me lately, and not just the amnestic Joysey drivers on the Merritt who never shut off their signaling lights.  Why, for example, do I have to wait on line at Trader Joe’s so long?  I mean they tell all the over the hill people (the dried up old prunes), to show up at 8 o’clock – a special hour set aside only for those who have dentures and bald heads (they got a guy checking; he’ll let you in if you have a  partial bridge or a clump of white hair), and then you end up waiting an eternity, at least 10, maybe even 12 minutes, just to buy some  baby arugula.  I mean show some respect for the senior citizens, for crying out loud.  Whadda we chopped liver?

And, then, what with the forced isolation and confinement because of the virus thing, we’re relegated to watch moronic stuff like The Bachelor and The Real Housewives of New Joysey.  Even  Leave It to Beaver leaves me perplexed sometimes.  Ya wanna know why? I’ll tell ya.  It’s the shows they made at the end of the run when  The Beave was no longer a runt.   I mean they coulda cast him as the Incredible Hulk – he got BIG!   So, it was patently obvious – to me, at least – why they had to cancel Leave It to Beaver and shoulda done it a lot earlier. And now I’ve painstakingly done the research and I’ve come up with some authoritative information.  They cancelled  because Jerry Mathers, The Beave, needed time off to investigate why he wasn’t receiving his social security checks.  Also, he said he was missing too many prepaid meals at his residence, the Have A Good Rest Nursing Home.  C’mon! In that last year the program was broadcast, his voice had turned lower than Isaac Hayes’. That’s why they had to end it.  Christ, The Beave had a size 11 shoe and he was towering over his TV dad (Ward Cleaver).  Yeah, but the official line from the studio was that the cast wanted to move on with their careers?  Have you ever heard such crapola?  So, anyway, it really bothers me that they kept the show going when the Beave was probably getting a 10 percent senior citizen discount at Dairy Queen for looking like such an old fart … at  age 18.

Here’s another thing that really kills me.   Lassie!  When I was a kid in the third grade, my best friend told me that Lassie was a male and I couldn’t believe it.  I was so sure I was right about Lassie being of the female gender persuasion (a bitch, in doggie terms)  that I bet him my prized Stan ‘The Man’ Musial baseball card that it wasn’t true what they were saying –  that  the fearless and sweet Lassie  had  male genitalia.  Nah, she just couldn’t!  I figured they didn’t have the technology back then to obliterate a penis on the closeups.  But, ultimately the truth emerged proving, unfortunately, that I was wrong.   And now I’ll bet you that this erstwhile best friend of mine  who, mind you, I haven’t  seen in 65 years or more, is presently smiling, lying on a hammock on some private beach down in Boca Raton, having sold that baseball card of mine for a million bucks or more.

I’m telling you, when the facts about Lassie’s true sexual nature were revealed beyond doubt, my heart just about fell out of my chest.  How could MGM deceive all of us devoted little boys and girls like that!  Would be like saying that Davy Crockett was never at the Alamo.  Disgraceful!  They could have at least gotten a willing veterinarian to do a canine gender reassignment.  Then they at least could honestly have said that Lassie was a boy.  Alas, they chose to trick and deceive.  Say, now that I think about it, do you think it’s possible that Mr. Ed was really a boy horse?  They coulda changed the voice and all.  I’m just so glad I didn’t bet my friend about Him … I mean Her!

And here’s another thing that really gets my goat.  I can’t stand it when a movie does their filming indoors with those phony background scenes.  For example, I just saw Sergeant York with Gary Cooper.  They’ve got him sitting on a phony mountain doing his bible meditation thing with a phony sky and mountain range in the background.  I mean it’s so Warner Brother/Burbank stagey.  Disgusssssting!

     Same thing with Seven Brides for Seven Brothers – the barn raising scene – remember that one?  Even I can draw better clouds, trees and mountains for the  background than that.

And this other thing really kills me, too.  Why do the Germans speak English in Where Eagles Dare?  Why don’t they dare to speak their own frickin’ language.  And the small group of soldiers led by Elizabeth Taylor’s husband of 2 times (Richard Burton) – if he and the others were selected for their fluency in speakin’ the Deutch, than how come they and the Nazis are speakin’ duh Englisch?  Huh?

And those scenes where Bogie and Bergman, when they’re in a car in Paris in Casablanca –  the background movement is just too phony.  You know what I’m talking about.  He’s driving the car and the Eiffle Tower and the Arc de Triomphe are wizzing by in the rear window.  How phony can you get?    I just can’t take it.  I scream at the cheap bastards for ruining the film.  How can they do that to me?  To us, even?

And then I saw this cooking show with Jacques Pepin and this guy Ming.  I couldn’t believe what I saw.  This takes the cake.  I was watching because  I wanted to know how to make a crepe, really I did, but in the end I couldn’t watch it after seeing Ol’ Jacques going to his mouth more than Lew Burdette (a spitball pitcher for the Milwaukee Braves in the 50’s; he said he retired because the hitters were starting to hit the dry side of the ball). And  this Ming guy, I don’t know how he got his cooking dynasty, because he puts his spoon and forks in the food he’s cooking to taste it, and then he puts the same forks and spoons in it again to taste it again.  Hey, these two guys are the Typhoid Marys of public television.  They should be thrown into perpetual quarantine.  Disgusssting!!!!!   I just can’t take it anymore.

     Listen, I’m getting emails explaining how to organize my shelves and clean my drawers.  “16 quick Memorial Day Recipes.”  Do I really need 16? Huh?  Or, this: “Fifteen Patio Ideas That Will Have You Eating Al Fresco All Summer.”  Do I really need all 15?  Huh?  Is that what life’s about these days, Bunky?  Have we really shrunken that far, descended that low? Do they have to send me 7 Tips for Grilling on a Budget – I don’t need no tips, okay? Or, 6 Ways to Save when Money is Tight – I don’t need 6 ways.  One way – under my mattress – is enough, okay?   Do they have to send me emails explaining The Best Places to Order Meat Online?   How ‘bout no places, I don’t eat meat.  Or, this one: How To make An iPhone Recognize Your Face.   Are you sh-tin’ me?  And, 15 Recipes That Will Make you Rethink – what the hell does that even mean?  Or, 22 Ground Beef Casseroles the Whole Family Will Love.  They hate  all 22, every one of ’em, you  stupid shmuckerooos!

Look, I’m at my wit’s end.  They better open up the table tennis center prontito before I wear out my paddle.  I’ve been using it to sand down my picnic table, and now my sandpaper racket is worn down and it’s  more like a plywood racket, which I’m quite sure the magnanimous ITTF would not approve  for even recreational play.   Lao Du