Burt Prelutsky / July 24, 2021

Spelling Isn’t Everything

I spotted a poster of Fidel Castro’s favorite henchman Che Guevara on Zaila Avant-garde’s wall.

I wasn’t all that impressed that the first black person had won the Scripps National Spelling Bee. What had knocked me for a loop was the video of 14-year-old Zaila Avant-garde dribbling multiple basketballs and juggling an assortment of different-size balls while perched on a couple of basketballs and even while riding a unicycle.

What soured me on her was that, for some reason, after she had been eliminated from an earlier bee for misspelling “vagaries,” her father changed her last name from Heard to Avant-garde, apparently as an odd homage to jazz great John Coltrane. I assume she went along with it, but I can’t be certain.

However, while watching a video of her basketball prowess shot in her bedroom, I spotted a poster of Fidel Castro’s favorite henchman Che Guevara on her wall.

And while I suspect that her father had a lot to do with convincing her that a blood-thirsty Communist was a folk hero, I suspect that if she had objected, he would have allowed her to pin up a photo of Mr. Coltrane, Miles Davis or Louie Armstrong.

With her particular skill sets, I’m not sure what the teenager aspires to become. Perhaps she could be the one Harlem Globetrotter who can spell “Globetrotter.”

In case you’re wondering, the word Ms. Avant-garde spelled to garner the trophy and $50,000 prize money was “murraya,” which is a genus of certain tropical Asiatic and Australian trees.


Because Joe Biden was still in office on July 20th, I won my seventh and last bet stemming from the 2020 presidential election.

To be fair, I did try to talk the guy out of making the bet. But he was one of many who subscribed to the belief that Biden was just a stalking horse whose purpose was to win the election and then, soon after, resign, perhaps for health reasons, leaving Kamala Harris to serve out his term.

As conspiracy theories went, I thought this was a doozy. Who were all these power brokers who were supposed to be crazy about the Cackler? Nobody can stand her. Biden, who’s the closest thing to a weathervane that you’ll find in politics, always knows which way the wind is blowing. If the party has veered so far to the left that even Bill Clinton wouldn’t recognize it, that’s okay with Biden. After all, he had been a middle-of-the-roader for 40 years, but he had no problem accommodating himself to being Barack Obama’s number one kiss-ass.

Besides, Joe Biden had been trying to become president since 1988. Why on earth would he give it up after finally achieving his dream? Also, as president, he is in the best possible position to short circuit any attempts to investigate and indict his son, his brother or himself, for a bevy of financial crimes.

And, finally, there’s Mrs. Biden, Dr Jill to you. Anybody who thinks she will give up being the First Lady without a fight has badly misjudged her. Furthermore, the notion that she would merely stand by and let Joe hand over the reins to Kamala is ludicrous. Joe Biden might be able to brush off the fact that the Vice-President called him a racist and a rapist. After all, that’s just politics. But I’m certain that Mrs. Biden thinks about it every time she’s within 100 yards of the cackle.

If Joe Biden passed away in his sleep, I have no doubt that Dr. Jill would have him stuffed and then prop him up as the need arose. Nobody, I suspect, would ever notice.


In the latest embarrassing example of political correctness run amok, it has been decided that gypsy moths will be undergoing a name change so as not to insult Gypsies.

Where will the madness end? Will fried potatoes no longer be identified with the French because they’re fattening? Will measles no longer be identified with the Germans because nobody wants to be identified with a dread disease? Will tsunamis go back to being called tidal waves because everyone associates tsunamis with the Japanese?

I haven’t heard what the moths will be renamed. I’d suggest we call them kamalas just because.


My favorite meme of the week was a traffic sign that read: “Speed Limit 35 Unless, of course, Mr. Important is running late.”


When I strongly suggested that Donald Trump stop whining about being cheated out of his victory in 2020, I fully expected to be taken to task by those who think that the ex-President can do no wrong. Imagine my surprise when only four people responded, and they all agreed with me. I realize that a lot of you might have disagreed but simply didn’t feel like writing.

But I’d like to think that you are all smart enough to realize that in order to win in 2024, Trump is going to have to reach out to those voters who don’t show up for his rallies and applaud his every remark.


Xavier Becerra, Biden’s ill-equipped Secretary of Health and Human Services, is in favor of forcing everyone to get vaccinated. His argument is apparently based on the fact that the government has spent so much money dealing with the virus that we’d be ingrates if we didn’t show our appreciation by getting vaccinated.

Once you get over the shock that a Washington bureaucrat is worried about wasting our money, the fact remains that it is nobody’s business if I or anyone else elects not be to shot full of stuff that even the FDA hasn’t gotten around to approving.

After all, those who have been vaccinated apparently have nothing more to worry about. I can’t see that it’s any of their beeswax if the rest of us choose to take our chances.


The January 6th brouhaha was, as the Democrats insist, an assault on our democracy. Just not in the way they mean. The event itself was much ado about nothing, aside from the cold-blooded murder of Ashli Babbitt, which the Democrats have done their best to sweep under the carpet because it was a black cop who shot the unarmed white woman.

The real assault on our democracy is still taking place. I refer to the non-violent protesters who are being held in violation of the Constitution, uncharged, in solitary confinement in a Washington, D.C., jail.

It seems that Russia, China and Iran, aren’t the only countries with political prisoners.


It occurred to me that the one trick that everyone can perform in the dark is finding a chair with his toes.


When it comes to objective tests, American students trail even those in Estonia. They even trail those in Canada, if you can believe it, in reading, writing and math.

However, as is usually the case, our students lead all others when it comes to self-esteem. Their motto is apparently: “We’re really dumb, but we feel pretty darn good about it.”


You can email Burt directly at [email protected]

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