Tuesday, December 22, 2015



This all happened yesterday, in four different stores . . .

I was just leaving Cosco, walking slowly toward the backed-up line that exits the store. Suddenly someone came up from behind and slammed full speed into my cart. Without slowing down, the man veered off to one side. A quick glimpse . . . he was short and ugly.   

Dumbfounded, I suddenly found my voice. “What the hell are you doing?”

Without turning around, he shouted back, “You were going so slow!”

“You have no business smashing into other people’s carts!”

“You were nothing but a plug!”  

I stared after him as he disappeared deeper into the store. First time in years I’ve wanted to punch someone in the nose. 

The lady in front of me turned around, made a face, and sympathetically shook her head.  Like me, I suppose, she wondered at his sudden, unexpected display of violence.  It took awhile for the shock to wear off.   

My next stop was Bed, Bath, and Beyond.  As I stood at the counter to pay for three items, the sales lady asked if I had any 20% coupons.  “Oh darn,” I said, “they’re in the car. Maybe I should go get them.  Will one coupon do it?”

“No,” she said.  “One for each item.”  

Almost as if she were with me, the lady behind me spoke up. “How many coupons do you need?” 

I turned around, amazed.  It was a Steve Hartman moment; another beautiful person.

“How many do you need?” she asked again.

Feeling greedy I said, “Well . . .  actually, three.” 

“Here,” she said.  “Take these.” 

Once again I was staring, dumbfounded. “How nice,” I said. “How kind. Thank you.”   As she handed over the coupons, I said, “You won’t believe what happened at the last store.” While I finished paying, I told her the story.  “All this bad and good in one day.” 

She smiled.  “Then just remember the good.” 

Oh, I’d remember all right.

My next encounter was the check-out line at Trader Joe’s. Having just gathered my bagged-up groceries, I turned to go. Which was when the woman next in line said, “Here.  You forgot your purse.” 

“Oh . . . thanks.”  I wouldn’t have gotten far, but I appreciated her looking out for me.

At still a fourth place, Boston Market, where I tried to leave with both hands full, a man deliberately paused to hold open the door. As I always do, I gave him a genuine thanks.   

The tally was easy. One bastard. Three decent people—one of them exceptional. For me, that pretty much summed up the world . . . the good guys easily outnumbered the rotten apples three to one. And maybe even by a larger margin. Which I might have noted, except by then I had run out of stores.   



Sunday, December 6, 2015



It happened in the Oregon campus shooting. Two nearby spectators were armed. They knew full well what was going on. But they chose not to become part of the scene. “If we’d gone in and started shooting,” one of them said, “the police might have shot us.”

Think of it—during a mass shooting, every person using a gun becomes a target.

For starters, the real killers get the jump on everyone. Always.  If, as happens too often, the murderer comes in with an AK47, he has long seconds to spray the room before anyone else can respond. Unless people in the audience also have AK47s, or they’re sitting around with loaded guns on the table, they and their guns are useless. 

Additionally, by the time the cops get there, the “good guys with guns” can look exactly like the “bad guys with guns.”  How are police to know the difference?

Just ask your local policeman how well an armed populace works. Most will quickly respond, if asked, that more guns in more hands simply causes more problems.

This kind of multi-armed scenario didn’t work particularly well in the Wild West. It certainly won’t work in normal society. Yet sadly, our own decent citizens are becoming “radicalized.”  They think they can “fight back” if every one of them owns a weapon. They think a “gun free” area is an invitation to mayhem.

Well, remember the military psychiatrist on an army base who killed fifteen of his fellow soldiers? Tell us—was that a “gun free” zone?

Most of us are horrified at having no good answers for mass shootings.  Yet believe it or not, there IS an answer.  Multi-shot, repeater weapons in the hands of civilians should be outlawed, made illegal.  If you don’t believe this, tell us what they’re good for—what possible benefit they’ve ever provided . . . besides killing lots of people in just a few seconds.   

So it’s everyone’s choice: Any one of us can now choose to be the gun-ready mother in Target—the one whose three-year-old rummaged in her purse, found her loaded gun, and accidentally shot her.    

Or we can be one of the enraged male drivers on the freeway—the two who pulled off in a gas station to wreak their vengeance, and who managed, somehow, to kill each other.

One last thought: for every person who defends himself with a gun, statistics say that hundreds of others are killed with privately-own guns—accidentally or on purpose. 


My latest book: “Revenge of the Jilted Draperies:  and other sweet-and-sour stories” now available through Amazon—or autographed, through me: maralys@cox.net.
A ten-dollar gift for Christmas.

Friday, December 4, 2015



If you doubt this could be true, ask Donald Trump.

Or better yet, read Thursday’s op-ed in the Los Angeles Times: Trump's royal inheritance.  Michael D’Antonio has interviewed The Donald at great length—for hours, in preparation for a book—and it seems this one presidential candidate does see himself as king.

As I wrote in my prior blog, FUNNY STUFF YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED,  it seems clear that Trump revels in running for president, that he adores his freedom to say whatever he damn pleases.  (However--except for Air Force One--he won’t love the job.)  

But honestly, I never thought he saw himself as king.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015



When TV offers the mug shot of a cop on trial for murder, how come the guy often looks like a murderer—not a respectable policeman.  How did he look before the fatal shot? 

People still live and walk around in Beijing--in smog so thick they can rake it off the sidewalk. Why is anyone still there? 


Behind Donald Trump’s scowls you get the impression he’s in his glory, having the best time of his life.

Think of it--even more than serial killers, his name is known by everyone who can read.

Every word he says gets printed in newspapers. Every crazy thought that comes to him in the shower reaches millions of people within days. And the nuttier his ideas, the quicker we’ll hear them. If he happens to imagine that 81% of white murders are committed by blacks, he can go ahead and say it on—where else, Fox News? 

Even his jokey hair has stopped being a joke – those forward-leaning feathers  desperately trying to cover a bald landscape are now blessed landmarks.

Most important, think of his power . . . how his peculiar, unexpected renown is suddenly terrifying a lot of Very Important People . . . how some are afraid to speak up, lest the cobra turn on them, spitting out words that inflict a fatal wound. With such words, in fact, The Donald has nearly KO’d several presidential candidates.

Some of us wonder if the man even cares whether he becomes president. That would be work. In the meantime, he’s having a blast without all the bother of actually doing anything. When he looks back from the next decade, he’ll know that for a year or more, he was one of the best-recognized, most powerful guys on the planet. Even mystical. 

What more can he ask from life than that? 

My latest book: “Revenge of the Jilted Draperies:  and other sweet-and-sour stories” now available through Amazon—or autographed, through me: maralys@cox.net.
A ten-dollar gift for Christmas.