Viva Escritora

Reporting from the bleacher seats …

tl;dr!? This is a post about timed hand-washing to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday,’ Colin Kaepernick took a knee to the current national anthem which Whitney Houston performed at the start of a football game, and the trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd started and is televised.

We consider “how many times can the national anthem be sung whilst kneeling for 9 minutes and 29 seconds?”

Let’s go!


2020 Time Change

In 2020 time took a viral turn. We crossed events and commitments off our calendars like the time-management gurus we are not. Ann, my friend, tells me every day is Blursday now and it is! Daffodils were coming up when COVID lockdown started, daffodils are coming up now. A trip around the sun. Happy Birthday COVID!

2021 Spring photo of daffodils. Possible gratuitous use of photo.

To prevent the spread of COVID, we were told to wash our hands with soap and water to the tune of ‘Happy Birthday.’ It takes about 20 seconds. And so every Blursday, multiple times, anytime we need to wash our hands and sometimes we don’t need to wash our hands but we do it anyway, we lather up and hum ‘Happy Birthday.’ We could be 3000+ years old by now, but I digress.

We sing to keep track of time.

Colin Kaepernick takes a knee

In 2016, in protest of police brutality, Colin Kaepernick lost his job because he knelt during the US national anthem played at the start of NFL football games.

Colin Kaepernick took a knee to protest the same kind of police brutality that took the life of George Floyd under the knee of police officer Derek Chauvin.

And given the symmetry – two knees – one in protest of, and one in the exercise of police brutality – well, we wonder how long does it take to sing the national anthem? How long does all this kneeling take?

Which brings us to .  .  .

Whitney Houston at Super Bowl XXV

Oh, bless me! In 1991, thirty years ago, Whitney Houston set a high bar, skipped over it, and then threw it away in her performance of the national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” to kick off Super Bowl XXV. For me, her performance was the ultimate delivery of a nearly unsingable song. Watch it here:

And XXX or 30 years ago, Colin Kaepernick was only three years old, but the national anthem remains. Start-to-finish, “oh say can you see – to – the home of the brave,” Whitney Houston used two minutes, 15 seconds.

Law & Order: Taking a Knee IRL

The TV series Law & Order is a fiction. “In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate yet equally important groups: The police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. These are their stories.” Said every narrator ever at the start of the 456 episodes that have aired since September 13, 1990. Approximately 456 crimes discovered, investigated, tried, and brought to life on our TVs in a one-hour episode. Sans commercials, 40-48 minutes of action.

But real life takes so much longer.

On Blursday, March 29, 2021, the trial of Derek Chauvin for the very public execution of George Floyd began. And Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill is allowing it to be televised. And we are riveted. Unedited real life takes so much longer than a commercial-filled hour. As the prosecutors build the case against Derek Chauvin, this is an incomplete, compelling, and in no particular order list of witnesses to a murder:

  • Donald Williams, body-builder and martial arts enthusiast identified the “blood hold” Derek Chauvin used. He called ‘911’. He called the police on the police.
  • Christopher Martin, the Cup Foods clerk accepted the counterfeit $20 bill but believed Floyd did not know the bill was fake.
  • Courtney Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend testified to years of fighting an addiction to opioid pain killers.
  • Charles McMillian, a 61-year-old passerby pulled over and stopped his car to bear witness and encouraged Floyd to cooperate with the police. And he reported that he spoke to Chauvin five days before: ‘At the end of the day you go home to your family safe and the next person they go home to their family safe.
  • Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arrandondo fired Derek Chauvin May 26, 2020, the day after Chauvin murdered Mr. Floyd. On the witness stand: “Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that [Chauvin’s knee] should have stopped.”
  • Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist, identified George Floyd’s last breath. (Trigger Warning: Graphic video of expert counting out George Floyd’s last breaths.) During his testimony, he held us captive with a masterclass in the working of the lungs, the esophagus, the larnyx, and the weighty physics of a knee on a neck.
  • Darnella Frazier, a Cup Foods patron who videoed Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

This brings us back to our point. Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck for four complete cycles of Whitney Houston’s national anthem with time leftover for a COVID hand-washing ‘Happy Birthday.’

And we wonder, how many “Star-Spangled Banners” is it acceptable to hum while kneeling on a neck? One? Two? Surely not four.

Happy Birthday. We wait for justice.

Tl;dr?! In praise of long-form time-consuming activities whate’er that activity is. Perhaps today it is reading the rest of this here whole post with it’s promise of rambling on and and on and oh, it does. Maybe it is taking a long walk. Maybe it is reading a book. Maybe it is cleaning out the hall closet for the first time in five years … er … never mind. Let’s not go there. You do you.

Let’s go!

Or not.

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Written in the time BC. Before COVID-19.

~~~~~~~~

I write to know what I think. Sometimes this takes a long time.

The main character, Captain, in News of the World by Paulette Jiles travels from town to town in post-Civil War Texas. He reads to a paying audiences. It is a story about audiences entertained by newspaper stories from all over the world in the time before radio, television, internet were invented. Before fifty states, before interstate highways, before airplanes and airlines, before, before, before. News read like a bedtime story to a paying audience. How wonderful is that!?

Aside: Do not read news before bedtime now.

Continue reading

tl;dr!? Too long; didn’t read? My final 2020 sundry assortment in which I present the thoughts that are barely legible from our scribble notebook since December 1, 2020.


Until January 20, 2021, we are on pins and needles. This is a final nod to 2020 as tomorrow it will be in our rear-view mirror and although the idiom is that hindsight is 20/20, we believe given the filter of memory and remove from events, hindsight looks more like swishy broad-swaths of paint like Monet on water lilies and the prickly details that seemed oh so salient and painful at the time fade away like threadbare jeans washed one time too many and oh we do go on.

Sitting down to tease out a final post on 2020, here we go!

Chadwick Boseman (November 29, 1976 – August 28, 2020)

Dec. 17, 2020 – “Ma Rainey’s Big Black Bottom” shows up on the Netflix recommends and, Chadwick Boseman. He died in August and it feels like forever ago and we are in awe that he inhabited a role completely while fighting for his life off-screen.

On September 5, Saturday Night Live repeated the episode with Mr. Boseman which included him as T’Challa in this Black Jeopardy sketch which leads to …

Alex Trebek (July 22, 1940 – November 8, 2020)

December 17, 2020 – Alex Trebek died in November. It hits us today too while contemplating Chadwick Boseman. Mr. Trebek’s final new taped episodes of Jeopardy! air January 5 – January 8, 2021.

Only on Jeopardy. It can be annoying to always follow a statement with a question, but Alex insisted on it and for that alone, he will be missed. “Alex, how do you pronounce genre?”

Or who could forget Turd Ferguson’s love ballad?

And the first two episodes of Jeopardy ever with Mr. Trebek are a time-machine treat. The first episode predates the rule that contestants could not ring in until after the clue was read in its entirety. The second episode demonstrates that the contestants would bet the house to metaphorically try to outrun the bear when they only needed to bet enough to outrun their competition. (You’ll need to find your own viewing platform. I have no links.)

Giannis Antetokounmpo inks a deal!

December 15, 2020 – Bucks players reportedly handed Giannis Antetokounmpo pens as encouragement to sign, and there were light rumors that he wouldn’t and let’s face it, he could sign a check and play somewhere else, but he didn’t.

Giannis Antetokounmpo remains a Milwaukee Buck! Fear the deer.

And the opportunity he brings to the Milwaukee area by remaining is greater than the FauxCon deal. (For more, read The Recombobulation Area: Milwaukee’s Monumental Moment: Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Decision to Stay Brings Fresh Hope to the Brew City by Dan Shafer.)

Mackenzie Scott

Formerly known as Mackenzie Bezos, Mackenzie Scott is divorced free and clear of Jeff Bezos and is backing off the pier at wealth’s end using philanthropy! For which we cheer. And we look forward to her perhaps flying off to do some angel investing.  Or watering some small businesses that actually pay employees a living wage.

We are looking forward to Mackenzie Scott getting big things done and making a big whale of a splash because she CAN!

(Aside: philanthropist sounded like a great occupation until I found out how much money requires and I couldn’t even afford a new red car.)

An impeached but not removed POTUS.

December 18, 2019 – The Teflon CheetoTM was impeached but not removed.

The acceleration of his destruction through 2020 caught wind and leaves us breathless with the havoc. Hurricane Teflon CheetoTM sits in the calm of the eye of his own storm and golfs. This metaphor gives us hope in that the hurricane hit land in November and continues to lose momentum.

That’s the hope anyway.

The angst: Donald Trump Has Turned America Into a Failed State, by Jessica Wildfire, Apeiron.

Rock in a House. Photoshopped graffiti. The sentiment is all my own.

Free & Fair Elections

December 30, 2020 – It occurs to me while typing “free & fair elections” that we’ve misunderstood the whole “fair” part of election security. It is not about “fair” defined as “marked by impartiality and honesty: free from self-interest, prejudice, or favoritism.”

No. We have seen voter suppression. In Wisconsin, we have been subject to a post-election Supreme Court lawsuit in which a judge flat out told a Trump lawyer that the suit “smacks of racism.”

No. The definition of “fair” seems to be 4: not dark.

RIP GOP. I understand Stacey Abrams is coming for you January 5, 2021.

Confessions of a Bookseller, page 94.

Since gifted with this book by my FAL, I have started taking a different view of independent and used bookstore commerce and have adjusted my behavior somewhat. Running a bookstore is a difficult business.

  • Customers want to browse books in brick and mortar shops and then find a better deal on Amazon.
  • Customers want to trouble you for a top-shelf book so they can see how much the copy they own is worth.
  • Customers want to haggle when there is only a waifer-thin profit at stake.

See what I did there? Waif. Waifer. Wafer. Wafer-thin. I digress.

But! the owner of this bookstore, Shaun Bythell, is within shouting distance in Wigtown which is 42.4 miles or 68.2361856 km give or take of Trump Turnberry Estates. On page 94 he makes this delightful yet troubling observation:

… She’s going to Turnberry to apply for a receptionist’s job. Despite his best efforts, most of the people of south-west Scotland refuse to refer to the hotel and golf course as the egomaniacally renamed ‘Trump Turnberry.’ I suspect his proposed refit of the hotel will turn the place into a monument to diabolical taste. My old housemate Martin and I used to exchange Christmas presents when he lived here. On year — by total chance — we both gave one another a copy of a book by Peter York called Dictators’ Homes. I have no doubt that Donald Trump uses it for designing interiors like normal people would use Terence Conran’s House Book.

Shaun Bythell, Confessions of a Bookseller, page 94.

Confessions is organized by daily journal entries. If you are interested and can’t procure a copy through either your local library or independent bookseller, check out Thriftbooks.com as an alternative to Amazon.

Mr. Bythell echoes what we already knew about Trump.

He wants to be a dictator.

Wisconsin Supreme Court

Monday, December 14, 2020 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court is made up of six (6) female justices and one (1) male justice. Isn’t that a thing? Wow.

In today’s decision, WI Supreme Court Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote the opinion cosigned by Ann Walsh Bradley, Rebecca Dallet, and Jill J. Karofsky. “Judicial acquiescence to such entreaties built on so flimsy a foundation would do indelible damage to every future election. Once the door is opened to judicial invalidation of presidential election results, it will be awfully hard to close that door again. This is a dangerous path we are being asked to tread.”

The entreaty of the lawsuit? Disenfranchise every Wisconsin voter.

And the Teflon CheetoTM was not happy.

Dec. 20, 2020Justice Hagedorn did an interview with the New York Times. He has been threatened. But he stands beside his ruling: “And I said I was going to be a textualist and an originalist” and “To me there was a pretty clear application of well-settled law and that’s how I moved forward in deciding those issues.

Of note, Justice Hagedorn voted absentee.

Johnson & Johnson

The click-bait headlines of late, do not disambiguate Johnsons. It used to be confusion about which Sanders we might be talking about. We needed specifics. Sarah Huckabee? Or Bernie? Now I need to click into which ‘Johnson’ a headline refers. I need clarity BEFORE.

Are we talking about Boris? BoJo? Prime Minister of Britain and rutabaga bulb head?

Or Ron? RoJo? Wisconsin Senator, Trump defender, and potato head?

Crazy.

Today it is reported that BoJo’s father is applying for French citzenship.

Meanwhile RoJo has thrown all in on the Trump Regime wild claims, visited Russia on the 4th of July and why? and he is up for reelection in 2022.

We are all in for his Democratic replacement.

2020. In close.

And by close, we mean 6′.

Remembering those we lost this year to a nasty virus.

Wear a mask.

Be patient. Be kind.

Happy New Year!

Health care is self-care.

Don’t neglect to take care of yourself.

The Open Enrollment period for 2021 health insurance through the Affordable Care Act ends December 15, 2020. Sign up if you need coverage!

Sign up at HealthCare.gov


Observation: The appearance of the HealthCare.gov website is the bleakest I have ever seen. If I recall correctly, in past years there were photographs of actual people, like healthy happy people who might enroll or be enrolled in a healthcare insurance program through the ACA.

The 2021 enrollment screen is the ‘Hello World‘ of website design and that world is hello to a dystopian pandemic hell scape.

Which, well, here we are.

A Brief Viva History of Healthcare PSA

With the anticipated retirement of the Trump Regime to the history books in January 2021, this is the last I will publish a reminder for the open enrollment period of the ACA.

Or not.

Looking through the previous 3 years, in August of 2017 I noted that the Trump administration cut the advertising budget for outreach to those eligible for an Affordable Care Act health plan. That year I estimated the previous 2016 election cost per voter was $18.69. By comparison, the advertising for outreach to those using the ACA for 2018 was $0.90 per enrollee.

The amount of money spent to engage a voter was ~20X that spent to engage someone enrolled in healthcare insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

Priorities.

Gratuitous photo of a matcha latte flower in the before COVID times. Matcha latte is healthy.

Electioneering

Unrelated to healthcare and health insurance, we were never given an ‘off’ for the continual churn of the election cycle through the Trump Administration into Regime1 years. He started his 2020 presidential reelection campaign the week he was inaugurated. Always on the make and take, it never was about running the country.

I contend the Teflon Cheeto built his cult by never separating the two. I saw him deliver speeches denigrating the Democrats on the regular. He was not my President. He regularly told me he was not my President.

He opened up a second income stream the week of the inauguration. In addition to a cleaner swamp with the Biden/Harris Administration, I look forward to the end of this master class in grift.

And maybe a good night’s sleep.

Observe 6′ physical distance.

Wear a mask.

Be kind.


1Administration into Regime years and this is Viva arbitrary:

  • Trump Administration (February 9, 2017 – November 7, 2018): Although plenty of horribles happened during the time Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III was Attorney General, I hold that it was a Trump wink at an “Administration.”
  • Trump Regime (February 14, 2019 – ) Attorney General William Barr. The Teflon Cheeto uses the Attorney General for his own interests. On our clock.

Health care is self-care.

Don’t neglect to take care of yourself.

With all our attention turned toward the General Election results from Tuesday, November 3, here is my annual Public Service Announcement that the Open Enrollment period for 2021 health insurance is on right now!

November 1, 2020 — December 15, 2020

Sign up at HealthCare.gov.


Addendum: Although the Supreme Court is set to hear arguments challenging the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare next week, a decision is not expected until mid-2021. Even with the threat of removal, there are many months between now and June 2021 and there is COVID.

Be kind.

Wear a mask.

In health, carry on!

The dregs of a fancy matcha latte and its rings. Gratuitous photo included for blog post visual interest.
Matcha latte was a mental health break in pre-COVID times.