Burt Prelutsky / August 2, 2021

Put Down That Microwave and Step Back

Considering the tripe we’ve been hearing from General Mark Milley, would anyone doubt that his brains are being fried by a large made-in-China microwave?

We first heard about our diplomats in Havana being attacked with what were assumed to be microwaves. They began complaining about sleeplessness, severe headaches and disorientation. Although the U.S. State Department had their suspicions about the source of the attacks, all they could do was pull their people out of Cuba.

Since then, there have been reports that our ambassadors and members of their staff in other embassies around the world have suffered similar attacks.

What I want to know is why we never hear about Cuban, Russian and Chinese, diplomats complaining about migraines.

It’s the same thing with ransomware. Why is it we only hear about American companies having to pay extortion to have their computers unlocked?

God knows we have more than our share of hackers. Why aren’t we using them to screw with Russia’s oil pipelines, Iran’s nuclear centrifuges and China’s traffic lights and water supply?

Why is it that we are always the twerps handing over our lunch money to the world’s bullies?

And considering the tripe we’ve been hearing from General Mark Milley, would anyone doubt that his brains are being fried by a large made-in-China microwave?

Even though I spent about a dozen years reviewing movies, only recently did it occur to me that my reaction to a movie could depend more on my mood when I saw it than on the quality of the movie itself.

Why else would I have enjoyed “Rebel Without a Cause,” “Arthur” and “Diner” the first time I saw them, and then couldn’t even bear to sit through them a second time?

Frankly, I’m embarrassed that I initially enjoyed the performances of James Dean, Dudley Moore, Mickey Rourke and Kevin Bacon. And while I’d like to blame these lapses on my youth, I was in my 40s the first time I saw “Arthur” and “Diner.”

Stephen Hanover alerted me to the fact that after some parents in New Jersey discovered what their children were being taught on Zoom during the lockdown, they complained to the School Superintendent.

In response to their complaining they didn’t want Critical Race Theory shoved down their kids’ throats, the Superintendent sent out letters to every parent in the district demanding that they stop monitoring the classes.

I replied: “I can only hope that the parents began a recall campaign to get the schmuck removed. They say that light is the best disinfectant, but I’d argue that heat, properly applied, works even better.”

Speaking of education, Mendel Weiss sent me the following: “A child comes home from his first day of school. His mother asks, "Well, Bobby, what did you learn today?” The kid replies, “Not enough. They want me to come back tomorrow.”

Feeling as I did about school, that kid could have been me.

It’s Ralph Barnett’s opinion that “Starbucks coffee provides more energy for Americans than all the renewables combined.”

After I described my trials and tribulations during my week’s stay at Northridge Hospital, I heard from a former Director of Nurses whose advice to his underlings was “Make a decision, even if it’s wrong.”

Terrifying, if true. I let him know that I was grateful not to have wound up in his hospital. “What about the maxim that first, you do no harm? Or is that only supposed to apply to doctors? It seems to me that your advice should have been, if you don’t know the answer, Nurse, ask someone smarter than yourself.”

One of my animal-loving subscribers started out by letting me know how much she despised big game hunters and finished up with “They think it’s so macho to kill an animal for sport. To me, our service men and women are the true heroes.”

I agreed with the first part, not necessarily the second. “I have no use for those who think animal heads on their walls are proof of courage, when all they prove is that the most savage animal is man. Ernest Hemingway, who spent half his life trying to glorify the bloodthirsty activity, was a big blowhard who blew his brains out because he didn’t even have the courage to deal with his own sexual impotence.

"As for those in uniform, most are not heroes. Only a small percentage of them ever engage in battle. The only action the majority of them ever see takes place in off-base bars and brothels. Those clerk-typists, bean counters in charge of requisitions and military band members, are not heroes. Playing a tuba may involve heavy lifting, but it is hardly an act of heroism.”

Wesley Forgue wrote to say that Mayor Lori Lightfoot, who believes in defunding the cops except those assigned to protect her skinny ass, will be sending out social workers to deal with domestic violence calls. “I think it will last about a month,” he wrote, “until the first social worker is killed or, more likely, the social workers will take the pay but refuse to venture into South Chicago. The plan will have a grand sendoff, but quickly die a quiet death.”

Quiet or noisy, my guess is that it will end the first time some well-meaning bureaucrat tries to get between a black working girl and her pimp.

My favorite meme of the week was a two-panel item passed along by Bob Hunt. In the first, we see a typical humanities student named Myron. The caption reads: “Bachelor’s Degree in Philosophy. $100,000 student loan debt. Can’t find a philosophy job. Believes people without ‘education’ are stupid. In the second panel, we see Robert. The caption reads: "Four-year paid apprenticeship. No student loan debt. Earns $80,000 a year. Just got paid to disconnect Myron’s electricity.”

I recently had lunch with Jack and Linda Frank. They left California for Alabama about 11 years ago. They voiced no regrets. If anything, on their occasional return visits, they’ve noticed that the traffic just keeps getting worse. “Where,” he asked me, “are they all going at 2:00 in the afternoon?”

“Possibly out of state, if they’re wise,” I replied. “Years ago, when I first noticed that there was as much traffic leaving the Valley and going over the hill into the City as there was traffic headed in the opposite direction, I came up with one of my occasional brainstorms. My idea was for people to trade homes, so they’d live closer to their jobs. It would cut way down on commuter traffic.

"If they liked, they could even swap families and pets. The important thing is that I would be able to get where I’m going in half the time.”

Todd Dierdorff let me know that every odd number has an “e” in it.

I am secure enough to admit that just as I like Shakespeare’s quotations better than I like his plays, I enjoy Mark Twain’s wisecracks more than I do his books.

I particularly enjoyed “They spell it Vinci but pronounce it Vinchy; foreigners always spell better than they pronounce” and “Adam was but human, which explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake; he wanted it only because it was forbidden.”

Henry Wheeler Shaw, who went by the more bucolic name of Josh Billings, was another 19th century humorist who went in for dialects. He quite correctly noted that “The trouble with people is not that they don’t know, but that they know so much that ain’t so.”

You can email Burt directly at [email protected]

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