Open Letter

Over the past year or so I’ve become increasingly concerned about some of you, O My Readers, most especially among the most ahem senior of you (chronologically speaking).

The fact is that we’re starting to drop like flies, and as much as I hate to admit it, just having someone disappear from one’s life is unsettling.  Here’s an example.

Bobby Kushner (Bob K) was an old Chicago buddy;  one of my earliest Readers, many was the time we shared war stories and opinions on guns, politics, life in Chicago and such.  We only ever met in person on three occasions, mind:  once over dinner at a lovely restaurant on Clark Street, once when he very graciously put me up overnight at his apartment in Lincoln Park, and once at a friend’s farm (belonging to Scott S, then and still a friend as well as a Longtime Reader).  On that last occasion, Bob brought a couple of very large duffel bags, both filled to the brim with old handguns — good grief, some models I’d never even heard of, let alone fired — along with a plentiful supply of ammo for each, and that entire day was spent shooting all of them.

Of course, we kept in touch over the following years, sporadically as so often happens, and then… silence.  Emails went into the pit, and I never heard from him again.  Bob was of advanced years and in poor health, but I only learned about that from his wife (confusingly, also Bobby — Roberta).  So when he went dark, I had to assume that he’d popped his clogs — he’d always responded promptly to my “LTNS” letters in the past.  Worse still, I didn’t know how to get in touch with his wife, so I never did find out.

So, to all my Old Fart Readers — and you know who you are — please drop me an email occasionally so I know how things are going.  It’s not an obligation, of course, but having lost Bobby so suddenly and unknowingly, I really don’t want to experience that again.  I do have a bond with you guys — sorry, but there it is — so please keep in touch now and again.

Busted !!!!!

From Alert Reader Ray G in Colorado:

Hi Kim,

I know you’re a grammar nazi. Don’t know if you want any feedback on your own English usage. But anyway, it’s “to wit”, not “to whit”. You can look it up…

To say that I was confounded by this gentle rebuke is to make an understatement on the scale of “Kelly Brook has decent boobs”…

…because Ray is absolutely right:  it is “to wit” and not “to whit”.  And I have no idea why I’ve been doing it wrong all these years.

So what to do?  Of course, I went back into my archives and corrected as many of those malfeasances as I could find (thank you, Winston Smith).  And here’s the reference to the above understatement:

You may consider that penance for my mea maxima culpa.

And by the way:  thank you, Ray — and anyone can correct me, at any time, if you think I’ve screwed up in similar fashion.

Well, That Wasn’t Any Fun

Last night I suddenly developed the most excruciating pain in my lower abdomen.  Came out of nowhere:  one minute I’m searching for pics of Carol Vorderman’s extensive superstructure, the next I’m doubled up on the couch and moaning like a Democrat forced to sing the National Anthem.

So did I go to the ER?  Silly rabbits, I’m a MAN — of course I didn’t wimp out and seek medical attention.

Now before anyone starts yelling at me — especially those Readers of the Female Persuasion — lemme ask y’all this:

What if it had just been gas, somehow bottled up and unable to be released?  You’d feel like a proper Charlie if the ER doc were to look at your CAT scan, shake his head sorrowfully and say, “Take two Gas-X and call me in the morning”, with the unspoken corollary:  “What a total pussy.”  That was not going to happen.  So I waited overnight.

However, by this morning the symptoms had not abated — got worse, actually —  so I girded up my loins and went off to the local Doc-In-The-Box to get a CAT scan.  But the nearest one had closed down for good.  So I went to another one close to the apartment, and they were open but — their CAT scan machine was broken.

By this time, the combination of frustration plus pain in my gut — I was driving bent over like a Florida geezer — made me say “Fukkit!” and so I ended up at GlobalMegaHealthCorp LLC, at the other end of Plano, FFS.  I went in promptly at 9.15am, was seen promptly at 11.15am, had the CAT scan promptly at 2.30pm, and was on my way to CVS promptly at 4.05pm.

Which is why I always try to go the the little ER clinics for visits of this nature:  in, scanned, diagnosed, prescribed and out in generally less than 90 minutes.  If they’re a little busy.

Anyway, I suppose you want to know why I’m still doubled over in pain, waiting for the Blessed Medications to kick in?

Diverticulitis (non-complicated), treated with Cipro and some other antibiotic.  According to Doc Russia (who diagnosed me correctly over the phone while I was waiting in the ER room), I should feel better by tomorrow.

Let’s hope.  In the meantime, I’m debating whether to pop a Tylenol-3 (the one with codeine) to help me get through the night.

Of course, I’m also counting my blessings.  This pain could have pointed to something really foul like a hiatal hernia, appendicitis (even though I’m too old for that shit) or the Evil Cousin of diverticulitis, a perforated bowel (which can seriously fuck up your weekend picnic plans).  Not to mention all the other shit down there that can creep up on Olde Pharttes and kill us like a smackeroo-blurdy.  That part of the body is like a WWII German minefield, with stuff just waiting to kill you.  But it wasn’t any of that.

Oh, and one small piece of other news:  my weight has gone down from 265 to 240, in just under two months.  My goal:  Army weight (205-210), or maybe even less if I can stick with it.  Here’s me, in approved SADF browns, circa 1977:

So there’s that, which is good.

The Kindle Affair – Update

In the end, I decided to forgo the stupid Kindle reader altogether and just download the Kindle app onto my laptop.

Which I did, and discovered that I have whole host of books still in my account (left over from my last foray into Kindleville, in the land of Amazonia).

Also, for those who are new to these pages or weren’t paying attention, may I humbly draw your attention to my previously-published works:

Vienna DaysFamily FortunesCreative LicensePrime TargetSigning New England

I am grinding my way ever so slowly through the sequel to Family Fortunes (which I may just creatively entitle “Family Fortunes Part II” because I can’t think of a decent riff on “Family _____”, mostly because the story takes place during the Boer War and WWI).

Also in the hopper is Skeleton Coast, a nearly-completed story of German South-West Africa in 1910, and Budapest Evenings, a story about a plot to assassinate the Emperor Franz Josef of Austria-Hungary in 1900.

Annoyingly, all my creativity in writing the above occurs in my pre-waking hours in the morning, but by the time I’ve woken up, showered, made coffee and read my email, most has tragically disappeared from my creaking brain, leaving only scattered remnants behind.

I shall persevere.  Try to contain your excitement.


The immortal line from the late and much-missed Dennis Farina comes to mind (speaking to some Brits when they throw some unintelligible wordslush at him):

“You guys invented the language;  why don’t you fucking speak it?”

Here’s the explanation of the accents behind the language, the accents ranked, and then an explanation of some of the slang.

In terms of difficulty, there are only three that I find absolutely incomprehensible (in order):  Glasgow, Geordie (Newcastle/Sunderland) and Liverpool.

For the record, when I’m in Britishland I tend to speak Public (a.k.a. private) School Pronunciation — after I’ve been there a while and lost my slightly-Americanized/Texas accent.

But I fail, and while I am well-spoken, my native Johannesburg wins by two lengths.