Designated Hitter Hater

Flat out: I am a designated hitter (DH) hater. Since the professional baseball teams in the American League started using this concept many years ago, it hasn’t overjoyed me.

The idea is based on the “fact” that pitchers can’t hit and therefore shouldn’t have to hit. This year (2022) the National League has gone along with the DH idea. Now, a player can hit for the pitcher in both leagues and that alleviates the pitcher from having to pick up a bat. It also relieves the designated hitter from having to play the field.

First off, why can’t pitchers learn to hit? In games in high school and across the country at almost all levels some of the best hitters on a team are in fact the pitchers. One of the greatest pitchers of all time, Babe Ruth, was also the greatest hitter of all time. Sadly, they retired him from pitching so he could play the field and hit.

Fine, fine, maybe you buy into the idea of a pitcher not having to hit. I don’t like the idea, obviously, but I think I lost that argument long ago.

But I have another idea: Why do we need the DH at all? Okay, the pitchers don’t have to hit. Fine. But why do we have to throw in another player to hit instead? Don’t do that. We don’t need a designated hitter at all.

That’s great, right, no DH: “So let it be written, so let it be done.” (The 10 Commandments movie.) That’s right. Eliminate the DH and go to (here comes my really, really radical idea) an eight-player lineup. Why do we need nine players to hit when eight would probably make every team’s lineup a better one?

I would prefer to see Aaron Judge and Mike Trout and other high-powered hitters get an extra shot at bat with an eight-player lineup. “Eight hitters” is the best idea! Get rid of the DH. I think it would make the game much stronger too.

Most DHs are not assets to a team as are the other eight hitters. They are often older players playing out the string, or poor fielders who wouldn’t make the team if not for the DH, or you can add any other reason which you imagine.

Look, the teams would save money and the fans would get to see the better hitters.

Therefore, as a designated hitter hater, I call for the end of said DH and an inauguration of an eight-player line-up.

Baseball would be far better for doing this.

So I have written it and “so let it be done!”

Servant of the People: Funny and Foreboding

I am not sure why people are not raving about this half-hour sitcom from Ukraine, made just a few short years before Russia invaded. First, it is hilariously funny. Second, it is fiction that could not be truer. Third, it is a prescient tale of our times. It is funny, yes; true, yes; and absolutely foreboding, double yes.

My wife the Beautiful AP and I laugh uproariously at situations in the show and then our eyes widen, we look at each other and say, “This is amazing,” unable to find the words to express what we feel. We are watching history unfold before it actually unfolded.

Servant of the People is the story of a dedicated teacher—a smart, insightful, plain young divorcee—who lives with his parents, sister, and niece in a rundown apartment in Kiev (Kyiv). After a video of him ranting goes viral, he finds himself voted in as the President of his country.

He is elected overwhelming, at about 63 percent of the vote, to end corruption and to break the grip of Russian gangsters who control just about everyone powerful and everything worth controlling in Ukraine.

The writing is crisp; the situations are satiric, plausible, and disturbing. The characters at once outrageous and recognizable. They transcend the locale and could be Americans, Canadians, Europeans—folks from any of the democratic countries suffering from corruption’s byproduct: decay. The characters could be members of your family. They could be you.

The star of the show is Volodymyr Zelenskyy, that’s right, the current real-life President of the Ukraine. He stumbles into the presidency on the show, although in real life he actually ran for President in a party called Servant of the People! (Yes, named after his television show.)

In Zelenskyy’s political life, he championed the right of Russians to have their works published and performed in Ukraine. Sadly, and ironically, his works were often banned in both Russia and Ukraine!

He aspired to heal the rift between his and Putin’s territories and finally end the tension between Ukraine and Russia.

However, Vladimir Putin is determined to get rid of this annoying democratic president and his free state of Ukraine, conveniently situated on Russia’s border. He just had to wait for the Winter Olympics in China to be over.

It took Putin only a short inhale to invade Ukraine. He expects to exhale his victory.

Putin is referred to many times on the show. The Russians are portrayed as a menacing element, loyal to their power, pocketbooks, and motherland.

President Zelenskyy has a law degree, although his true loves were acting and comedy. Still, politics called him. Interestingly enough, he did better in the real election than he did on his show, garnering 73.23 percent of the Ukrainian vote.

Watching this wonderful show and seeing how it conjoins with what is currently happening in the real world of Ukraine puts the viewer in a time warp. The President of the show is the real President of Ukraine and the problems he faces on the show are the problems he now faces in reality—in a wartime reality, not a comic reality.

On the show Zelenskyy is portrayed as a short man, almost never taller than anyone else in a room or a meeting. He has to reason, cajole, or fight to get his points across. Everything is uphill. But his character never stops trying to do the right thing by his people.

At 5’7” Zelenskyy is a relatively short man. But on the world stage he is a giant.

Pundits compare him to Winston Churchill, the premier who helped save England during World War II. Indeed, could be the modern-day Churchill.

Putin’s height is estimated between 5’2” and 5’7” and he rankles when he is on stage with anyone taller. On the world stage, Putin is a puny man.

I don’t know if Ukraine can survive the brutal onslaught of Putin’s armed forces. One can hope.

Watch Servant of the People. It’s on Netflix.

Common Sense

There are many Internet writers constantly whining about the fact that Americans have no common sense.

The left wingers think the right wingers are idiots, totally lacking this important facet of intellectual life; while the right wingers are convinced that the left wingers have lost not only common sense but their full minds in the bargain. Yes, there are even people in the middle who think everyone has lost his or her common sense. In short, to them everyone is a moron.

But is this so? First a vivid example:

I saw Richard Dawkins, perhaps the world’s greatest evolutionary biologist and a fierce critic of religion and the belief in a god, being interviewed by a man of deep faith. The man asked the inevitable question that creationists will always ask evolutionists: “How can the human eye, which is an amazingly complex organ, have come about by random chance? Isn’t that impossible?”

Dawkins then gave the man a lesson on how the human eye came about through evolution, from sensing light and dark, to seeing shades of different types, all the way to the human eye. At the end of this, Dawkins then mentioned about a dozen or more animals that have different types of eyes that reflect some of the evolutionary points the human eye may have gone through at one time or another.

It was a brilliant lesson from the renowned Mr. Dawkins.

Dawkins then asked the man if this made sense to him. The man said that “yes, it did” but that he didn’t believe any of it because his judgment of truth is the holy word of God in the Bible.

In the Bible, God (meaning Yahweh, as opposed to say Zeus or Odin, etc.) created the world in six days. All the creatures were made as a “kind” and these “kinds” do not change. Yes, there are many different types of dogs but all dogs are of one kind. Man is obviously a “kind” and everything about man is the way it should be, including the eye. There is no such thing as evolution. The earth is only about 6,000 years old (give or take).

The Bible was everything. Nothing could shake this man’s belief in it, no matter what facts he was given. Dawkins just looked at the man and I am sure he wondered, “This guy has no common sense. What’s wrong with him?”

Now, the religious man probably thought the exact same thing. It was Dawkins who did not have the necessary common sense. How could Dawkins deny the eternal word of the Lord? Where was Dawkins’ brain?

If you are of the religious bent, you will agree with the man and disagree with Dawkins. If you are scientifically minded, then Dawkins is right.

Is the religious man so stupid that in other aspects of his thinking he also emits an intense odor of idiocy? Not necessarily so.

This man may be great in analyzing ideas for his business. He might be excellent in handling people and fixing things. He might have plenty of common sense in most other areas of his life. It’s just this Bible thing that would make the Dawkins of the world think the guy has a screw loose.

And Dawkins? Well, he probably has plenty of common sense except in areas of evolution on Earth. Therefore, he might not be the best choice for the Seventh Day Adventists’ “Man of the Year” award. After all, how could he not know that Saturday is the day God rested and not Sunday? Geesh! Some people have no common sense!

It is quite obvious that common sense exists here and there.

People might think Joey the Wrench is such an idiot that he probably doesn’t have any common sense at all. But the Wrench certainly knows motorcycles and how to fix them. He’s good with the ladies too – or maybe those ladies don’t themselves have common sense. Hmmm.

The bottom line? There is such a thing as common sense but no one has a true handle on it at all times. It’s here and there but it is not everywhere and none of us really thinks that it is. If we did, well, then we wouldn’t have any common sense, would we?

In conclusion, please use your common sense when discussing common sense.

I Have Been Censored!

I have been censored. Yes, I have. By myself. Self-censored.

Here is how it all came about:

I was going to publish an article on my website—my first website article in months—titled “A Subtle Sense of Humor” about Derek Gilstrap who cuts farts in public on boardwalks, promenades, escalators, parks and shopping areas. He walks by a group of people and lets loose different varieties of amazing farts.

These are created by a handheld device; they do not actually come from Mr. Gilstrap’s nether regions. The people reacting to the farts do not know this. Some of them jump away; some run away; some just open their mouths in awe or disgust. I write as if this is delightful.

Now, in the article I carefully took apart his various gaseous shenanigans as if they are artfully done. But then something happened. In the videos, I saw too many young women dressed in (what I call) an inappropriate manner.

They are wearing “crack sweats.” You’ve heard of skin-tight jeans and such, correct? Well, these are beyond that. They go into any crack a woman has on her body, namely her buttocks and her front nether region.

I point this out in the article in a state of horror. I don’t explicitly say these young women could be my daughters but, damn it, they could be my daughters. I wonder what has happened to our society. How have we become so crass? So decadent?

Where are the women I was taught to appreciate—Ingrid Bergman in Casablanca; Donna Reed in It’s a Wonderful Life, Audrey Hepburn in My Fair Lady, my mother, and my Aunt Annie—the women I admire for their class and strength? (Okay, okay, they were beautiful too.)

Simultaneously, I was praising Gilstrap’s epic farting performances and telling the readers how great the farts are but I kept getting waylaid by those crack clothes.

Okay, what should a reader understand about what I was doing in the article? Right, right, this was a self-satire. I was actually making fun of myself for being as crass and decadent as the young ladies wearing the crack clothes.

My wife read the article and looked at me. She shook her head. “It’s a good article but not everyone will recognize the satire. People like me will be disappointed that you even watch fart videos and others will think you’re an old fart by judging how women dress. Either way, you’ll lose readers. So, be prudent.”

“But that’s not what I am actually writing,” I said.

“Some will get what you are trying to do. Most will not,” she said.

My wife, who is every bit as strong and classy as the women I have held up as strong and classy, is probably right. She is my editor and she is usually right.

Censorship is alive and well, but we’re calling it prudence here in the Scoblete household.

In conclusion, I have nothing else to write on this subject. I have censored myself.

Stop, please! Stop, Stop, Stop IT!

Oh, for heaven’s sake, the reason some people are not getting the Covid-19 vaccine has little to do with the right wing raging against an assault on their freedom of choice or the left wing’s fear that these shots will make their sainted little ones total idiots.  And it isn’t the effects of the Trump’s hordes refusing the vaccine either. Even Trump stuck his shoulder out and took one for the team, meaning the human race.

No, so-called vaccine hesitancy is because the television news shows have been endlessly showing people taking those shots in the arm. Viewers first get to see the syringe being loaded with vaccine and then the needle shoved into the poor victim’s arm. Brown people, black people, white people, albinos, young people, old people, nearly dead people; you name the group—and sooner or later one of them gets needled right there on national television. In fact, many get needled on every segment on every news show when the discussion is the vaccine.

Two nights ago, I saw a collage of four people get the jab simultaneously. The screen was divided into four boxes and in each was a poor schnook getting pincered. That threw me over the edge and almost had me throwing my large bowl of ice cream at the television.

Needle in arms; needle in arms, needle in arms. It is not an inspiring sight. It is a frightening sight and these segments are scaring people away from getting the shots. That’s the unvarnished truth.

Look, I believe in the vaccines. I always have my flu shot, each and every year. I’ve had my pneumonia vaccines, my shingles vaccine and my Covid-19 vaccines, including the booster. I have no idea how many vaccines I’ve actually experienced in my life. I am in favor of protecting myself against the horrors of disease. My children and grandchildren have been vaccinated against an amazing number of diseases. They have all turned out to be good people, smart people—not GPS-infused zombies.

I do not want to see any more people getting shots in their arms. Enough already! There are probably more people on television news shows getting vaccinated than in real life.

In my life I have only been afraid of three things: needles, nuclear war and nuns. You don’t get to see two of these three on television much. But those needles? Ugh!

So, news producers, you’re actually stopping people from getting in line to join the jabbed ones.

Stop these segments right now! Stop them, please, for heaven’s sake stop them for the good or the nation and the good of the world. If you are lacking news stories, perhaps throw in a segment or two about nuclear war…or nuns.

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, libraries and at bookstores.  

Pro-Choicers versus Anti-Vaxxers

The pro-choice movement made great headway in America ever since the 1960s. Their argument was simple: women said, “It is my body and I will do what I want with it. The government has nothing to say about it. If I want to get an abortion it is my choice.”

This argument held sway enough within our society that abortion became legal due to the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. The state should essentially stay out of a woman’s decisions about her own body and anything in it.

And now the anti-vaxxers are using the exact same argument against the government that is trying to impose on their bodies the need for a vaccination to limit and ultimately defeat the Covid-19 virus. They picture themselves as “freedom fighters” against the lethal power of said government. Some consider themselves the new American revolutionaries, just like our forebears from 1776.

Obviously, the government has interfered and usurped our bodies many times over the course of our history. It has drafted us to fight our wars, leading us to face the possibility of death on the battlefield. It has food inspections, traffic rules, vaccine requirements for kids to go to school; seat belt laws, gas laws, voting laws, drinking laws, various taxes and fees—the list can go on quite a bit.

We are free except when we aren’t. The government interferes with us except when it doesn’t.

Should the anti-vaxxers use the same tact as the pro-choice advocates? Is their case really the same? Or is it stronger?

Let’s take a quick look:

  • Anti-vaxxers can carry a deadly disease and infect many others, family members, strangers. If they are on a crowded train or a bus or at a party, no one there is actually safe from the virus the anti-vaxxer might carry.
  • The entire country, the entire world, can suffer horribly if they continue to cry for their freedom to be infected. Even the return of measles to our children can be laid at the feet of the anti-vaxxers.
  • Hospitals will continue to be overwhelmed by the anti-vaxxers taking up beds and ICUs. People with other medical conditions might not be serviced.
  • The woman who has an unwanted pregnancy is no risk to anyone. Yes, if you believe she is carrying a baby then you think she will be killing that baby but, on a train, or a bus or at a party, we are all safe from getting pregnant because she is pregnant.
  • Members of the woman’ family might be unhappy if they learn she is going for an abortion. There might be some family tension. That doesn’t have to do with anyone else.
  • The father of the fetus might be unhappy, if he is still around.
  • A pregnant woman can’t make a room or a country pregnant.

Okay, so who has the right to the “our bodies, ourselves” argument? Pro-choicers or anti-vaxxers? Which one should drop their argument and find another one to cry their cause?

And a Hummingbird Shall Lead Them

I just want to see one right now. I just want one; just one. I don’t want a hundred or fifty or even two. I just want to see one.

A Hummingbird. Just one. Please!

My wife, the Beautiful AP and I have never seen a Hummingbird, except in documentaries. In real life? None.

We know folks who love to go birding. They have seen many, many Hummingbirds. Some have called us to tell us where to go (right now!) and we’ll see the birds if we go, “Right now!” We hop in the car and head off, usually to Hempstead Lake State Park. There is an area where people see dozens and dozens of Hummingbirds.

We have not seen one. In all of our visits, we have not seen one.

“Maybe,” said the Beautiful AP, “We should set up our property so we attract them and create an ecosystem.”

“Huh?” I said.

“Let’s make our property welcoming to all the birds, animals and insects that belong on Long Island. You know all of our bushes, shrubs, trees and plants come from Asia.”

“We had a Japanese landscape architect,” I said. “In Japan we fell in love with the Japanese landscapes.”

“Yes, but now I think we should go natural to where we live. Hummingbirds will be attracted to some of what we grow.”

“Do you believe that?”

“Yes,” she said. “I’m actually embarrassed that I had made a video on native plant gardens for South Shore Audubon and have nothing native on our property.”

“So, right here on our property we’ll attract native stuff?”

“Not stuff. Native insects, bees and animals—and Hummingbirds.”

So we decided to make our property native or native-ish, as it is a three-year plan and there are some Asian trees and shrubs we’d like to keep.

First, we had a non-native tree removed. A friend had offered it to us years ago and we both felt we couldn’t say no. Now we know why he didn’t plant it on his property: it does absolutely nothing for pollinators, takes up valuable real estate, and is disgusting.

We also decided on a border of creeping red thyme, which isn’t exactly native, but functions as native. We knew that native gardeners put down cardboard to kill the grass and then drill holes in it to plant new plants. Why didn’t we do that? Instead, we just pulled up the grass. We blew that one!

Now a mini-forest is growing in that dirt and our thyme ground cover is struggling to keep up. The grass had probably acted as a carpet and kept the rest of nature down. Now nature is sprouting like crazy and we’re weeding like crazy.

Where the non-pretty tree was, the Beautiful AP has planted two crops, spinach and soy beans. They are growing really well (by our standards).

I planted native seeds all over the property that would attract all the Long Island fauna. So far not a one—not a stinking one—has grown. They’re doing well in our container gardens, but around the property? Nil!

We have planted some native shrubs, bushes and trees and named each one after a dearly departed relative. All but one is doing well; Aunt Annie might not make it.

We have joined Rewild Long Island and touch base with Long Island Native Plant Gardening Group on Facebook where we and other rookies making rookie mistakes can get advice. We are learning every single day—usually about “stuff” we screwed up.

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscobelete.com. His books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, libraries and at bookstores.

Those Who Can, Do; Those Who Can’t, Teach

Nope.

First, many of those who can do also can teach. Take a look at the greatest scientists over the past centuries; they did and they taught. Same is true of writers, artists, along with men and women in other areas of expertise.

Now, yes, there are plenty of teachers whose greatness lies in their ability to teach. Most English teachers are not going to become published or famous writers. Most history teachers will probably not be Doris Kearns Goodwin or Will Durant. So what? If these teachers can get across ideas and teach needed skills, they are doing a great service for society.

We are the first (or one of the first) societies that has tried to teach everyone. That is some goal and, sadly, I do not think we will ever really reach it—at least in my lifetime. Still, good intentions count.

I do enjoy the non-teachers who fancy themselves successful in this or that field leaping on the bandwagon that subscribes to the title to this article. Some of these folks shout it out at the top of their lungs.

Here is a fact: It is a bitch to be a teacher. In my limited experience of 33 years in one district, about 25 percent of the teachers were extraordinary; maybe 50 percent were good or competent and another 25 percent should have been marched out in the dead of night, never to return.

For most teachers, kids—even the smart ones—are tough to handle. They are, to put it simply, sharks. Sharks swimming in circles waiting for the teacher’s blood. If the teacher drips even a little of the red stuff, the feeding frenzy begins.

Teachers in the bottom 25 percent send an amazingly high number of disciplinary referrals to the principal or dean of students. Trying to get the higher-ups to pull your bloody body out of the water after a kid-attack is way too little, way too late. The great teachers send few (or no) referrals because they can handle the sharks on their own.

I remember one teacher who sent so many referrals that the dean had two piles; one pile for every teacher in the school and one just for this lady. Her pile was more than the combined number for all other teachers put together.

She was a nice lady in the teachers’ lounge, maybe in her mid-50s, although she had a wandering eye that made it difficult to figure out where she was looking.

The kids hated her and she hated them right back. The bad kids hated her. The good kids hated her. She taught business and typing. Her classes had few kids, maybe 10 to 15 students at the time when the average class size was 25 to 30.

The kids lined up to get out of her classes and the parents with the most clout were able to twist the arms of the administrators to free their children from the iron grip of the Cyclops, as the kids called her.

Here is my personal story with her.

It was June, the last week of school, and in New York State students had to take the Regents exams in all the main subjects. These were statewide exams that, if passed, meant you received a Regents diploma. That was a big deal.

My 11th grade classes had to take the exam. Two of these classes were my honors Classics classes as well. These were nice kids; smart kids; well-behaved kids.

I went up to the room on the third floor to say hello and take attendance. There was the Cyclops sitting at the desk, her eyes looking wherever the hell they were looking.

Not a single kid was in the room!

“Where are the students? Did the room change?” I asked.

“They were disobedient and had to be sent to the Dean’s Office to be punished,” she said.

Oh, crap! An entire honors class? During a Regents exam?!

“Ah,” I said. “Ah” is my go-to expression when I have no idea what the hell I should say.

I left the room and zipped down to the Dean’s Office. There they were, 25 honors students sitting in the three different offices. Some of them looked worried that they might miss their Regents English exam.

I told the Dean, “You know who sent all of them down here? I’ll take them.”

“Could you take her too?” he asked.

I led the kids back upstairs but first I told them to apologize to the Cyclops, but I used her formal name. “We need her to let up.” The kids apologized as they entered the room.

She huffed a bit but she didn’t throw herself in front of the door to prevent them from coming in.

“You can take a break,” I said. “I’ll administer the exam.” Some cheers went up from the students. I gave them “the look” and the cheers stopped. She huffed and left the room.

“She’s nuts!” said some of them.

“How can they let her teach?” said others.

“Okay, sit down. She’s been teaching a long time,” I said. “We should have some respect for the service she’s put in over the decades.” I looked at them. They looked at me.

“She should be shot,” said one of them.

“You know,” I said. “We aren’t allowed to bring guns to the school.”

That was that.

She didn’t come back the next year. The school district paid her $55,000 to retire, a princely sum in the mid-1970s for the queen of mean. In short, they paid her off to get rid of her. A good teacher never gets paid off. You retire and get your retirement, but you don’t get a bonus for being good.

I found some ridiculous aspects to my teaching career. If there were students that a teacher couldn’t control, the knee-jerk administrative reaction was, “Put him (or her) in Scobe’s class.” I’d have 30-35 kids in my non-Regents classes while other English teachers would have 15 to 20. I didn’t get paid any more money.

And hallway monitoring. The men were expected to break up the fights but we didn’t get paid any more money. Only a couple of the women teachers would actually get their hands dirty trying to stop two enraged students from pummeling each other to death. One teacher, a classy woman, would always say she didn’t want to jump in because she didn’t want her high heels to get dirty or break.

But, back to the topic: Are people who think that teaching is for those who “can’t do” actually able to teach? Let’s see.

He was a marine; a big guy, who wanted to teach English after his service to his country in Vietnam. He was hired as a replacement for a pregnant teacher. He was given average classes and one non-Regents class.

One month after he started, he came over to me. “Scobe,” he said. “I can’t do it. I am always losing my temper. At first that scared them; now they hoot and holler at me. I can’t scare them anymore. I’m miserable.”

He quit the next week.

Another was a businessman who had retired to a life of luxury. He thought teaching would be a “breeze.” His children had gone to our schools and he was very critical about most of our teachers.

He made a pronouncement that he would become a teacher and show the rest of us how easy it was. He bragged to the students about how much money he had. They were not impressed; many came from wealthy families. The ones who didn’t come from wealthy families disliked him for his superiority.

Within a week the man was torn to shreds. He was constantly writing disciplinary referrals. It looked as if he was going to give the Cyclops a run for her money.

He loudly claimed in the teachers’ lounge that the principal had given him the toughest kids because of his former criticism of our school district. Not so. He just had regular kids, none with serious problems. He just couldn’t handle them.

Some teachers can control their classes. How they do so is probably a mystery. We had several excellent women teachers who were under five-feet tall. One was an extremely skinny older woman with the most irritating, whiney voice on earth. The kids sat at attention in her class. She rarely needed to send a referral.

We had excellent teachers who were fat, some who were giants, some who were just plain-looking men and women—and they could teach up a storm.

We had excellent teachers who were funny and the kids loved them. We had excellent teachers who were the exact opposite. Nasty bastards—some of whom I couldn’t stand—all of whom could teach and their students learned.

There is no common denominator to explain all their successes.

Yes, there are those who can do. And there are those who can do and teach. And there are those who can simply teach. Teaching is more than enough.

Then there are the ones who spout a disdainful cliché about doing vs. teaching, the ones who would be chopped up in front of a classroom.

Frank Scoblete’s books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books, libraries and at bookstores.

My Rejected Screenplay

I sent in a pitch of my new screenplay in 2018. I had one almost accepted by DreamWorks when that company first opened in the 1990s. I’ve written about that particular ordeal in one of my books.

The new one was going to be a big, whopping, costing countless millions that would attract a gigantic audience. I thought it would be a better seller than Jaws or Star Wars or Titanic.

I was meeting with two top executives, Paul J. and James C.

James started the meeting off. “Good afternoon Frank. What have you got for us?”

Frank: “It’s a big one. A grand one with so many elements in it that will attract people to watching it.”

Paul: “Shoot!”

Frank: “It’s about a pandemic that circles the globe killing about 10 million people, about a million in America. The thought is that the virus, called Viral-18, came from a Chinese laboratory and was accidentally release—or even released on purpose—into China and then was picked up and traveled the world on airplanes and boats, especially cruise ships.”

James: “That’s not much of a death toll.”

Frank: “Ah, but there is more. Whole countries close down because there is no real way to fight the disease.”

Paul: “Doesn’t sound like much.”

Frank: “But doctors recommend wearing masks and then society splits in two on the subject. In America and in Europe. Fights actually start in stores and on the street over whether to wear masks or not. The people who refuse to wear masks think wearing a mask is destroying their freedom.

“People are laid off work. The housing market skyrockets as city people start buying suburban and rural houses. The suburbanites aren’t happy to have these people.

“The President of the United States is a guy who used to do a reality show on television. He refuses to read and is involved in shady dealings. He has an orange face too. And strange hair.”

Paul: “Like John Boehner?”

Frank: “Even more. He won’t wear a mask and his followers do what he does. Many evangelical Christians think this guy was sent from God to destroy the evils of the government. Right wing movements are growing in European countries too. Including Germany.”

James: “So far it is ridiculous.”

Frank: “There is a lot more here. Militias start forming and they join each other all over the country. They talk to each other over social media sites and stockpile weapons. At a certain point these people attack Congress and try to kill the Vice President who is himself an evangelical, who won’t be with a woman in a restaurant unless his wife is with him.”

James: “This isn’t going to be some study of sick men, is it?”

Frank: “No, no, they are just the decorations on the tree of the story.”

Paul: “Continue.”

Frank: “As this is happening cities come under fire from the left-wing. Radicals wearing Guy Fawkes masks. Cops are targeted and there is also a big black/white confrontation about racism and the left hates the police and the right loves them except something goes screwy with them when they attack Congress.”

James: “Where’s the sex? We don’t want G or PG.”

Frank: “Plenty of sex. Not all normal either. The President has had many affairs and he has to buy all the women off. The news media plays this up too. He even says he grabs women by their private parts. We can show this too if we go R rated.

“Also, an idea is that whites are inherently racist. This takes place all over the country. Some cities have nightly riots! Stores are looted and burned. This group is often referred to as the ‘Awakes.’ They destroy statues of people they hate like Lincoln.

Paul: “Who the hell could hate Lincoln?”

Frank: “So, you have a new civil war becoming possible.”

James: “I don’t know. Sounds derivative. But weird sex is a good element. Does he have a wife?”

Frank: “A beauty with a great accent. She was a model, even did nudes before she married the President.

“There’s more. While all this is going on, the country and the world is faced with a UFO problem. The government now admits, even a former President admits, that UFOs are real and do things none of our aircraft can do. There are all sorts of tapes from the military showing these craft making our planes look silly. Are we being invaded from space? The world hangs in the balance.

Paul: “I don’t know, The UFOs are kind of old. There have been a lot of movies about UFOs.”

Frank: “Oh, I forgot, Asians are being attacked all over the country because people blame them for the Viral-18 virus. Other minorities are attacking Asians but only one channel shows this.”

James: “But Crazy Rich Asians is making a bundle.”

Frank: “Yeah, but now here is another one to add. The President of the United States runs for reelection and loses the popular vote and the electoral college to some old guy who keeps falling as he walks up the stairs to his plane. This old guy is accused of being a pawn of the Chinese. The ousted President, who is supported by the Russians, claims that the election was rigged. His followers start going berserk. That’s when they try to take over Congress too and even beat up and kill police. They even have a sign saying they are going to kill the Vice President.

“The states certify that the President lost. Scores of cases are brought to the courts and the President is defeated in all of them. Doesn’t matter, a religion has now grown up around this guy. It is called ‘U’ and the President is now looked upon as almost a god that the Christian God has groomed perfectly and, here is really the weird stuff, the opposition party is now believed to be controlled by Satanists who have sex with children and drink their blood. ‘U’ claims that all over the world these Satanists are destroying children and countries and fixing elections.”

James: “Do you really think movie audiences could believe all this?”

Frank: “There is one fake ballot found during the election. One man murdered his wife and then sent in her mail-in vote and the vote was for the President!

“All of this going on with UFOs and the pandemic and an upcoming civil war between the left and the right. People are refusing to be vaccinated too with a new vaccine that was quickly created. They are leaving themselves open to this world-wide disease and some of them are causing trouble on airplanes. They’ll wear seat belts but they won’t wear masks.”

James: “Frank, listen. A worldwide disease, people refusing to be vaccinated against it, a wacky orange President, religious fanatics who think this guy is a god, UFOs, Satanists, pedophiles, a rebellion on the left and the right, a right-wing attempt to take over Congress and a new President who trips up the stairs? Who could believe all of this going on at the same time? Nobody.”

Paul: “I have to agree with James. Nobody would believe this. The story is completely nutty. It’s all over the place. There is no way all this could be happening.”

Frank: “Oh, oh, and hackers are hacking into our oil lines and meat-packing plants. America is in a cyber war too. How’s that?”

Paul: Adding more isn’t helping. The answer is no.

They were right, I guess. These things were just too much for a movie. No one would believe it.

Female Crapshooters

In post war America in the 1950s, men were the crapshooters. You rarely saw a woman at a craps table – at least one who was not accompanied by a man; probably she was not his wife or his beloved girlfriend.

The same was true right up until the 1980s. Women just didn’t take to craps. They dominated the slot machine world. Indeed, their husbands and boyfriends would usher them off to the land of bells and whistles so that the men could play the man’s game.

Most men learned to play craps in the military. It was a city game but the country boys took to it with delight. With the soaring attendance in Las Vegas, craps became the number one game until the mid-1960s when blackjack jumped ahead of it.

It is now 2021. Has anything changed?

Kind of; sort of; well, maybe; somewhat.

Check out the craps tables in the casinos across the country and you can still see clearly that the game is heavily dominated by men; most of whom have never spent time in a war. Their game was probably learned inside the casinos’ walls.

Yet, you will on occasion see females playing the game. They are the trailblazers.

In the 1980s I wrote an article where I described how the men, mostly World War II and the Korean War vets, looked upon the precious few women who dared to come to the world of men.

But in those days, the way some of these men talked was frowned upon by some of the newspapers and magazines to which I sent this article. Long story short; my article was rejected by all of them.

I am now resurrecting some of the men’s “insights” so we can see how these fellas actually felt about women who dared stand at the tables with them. The reading public has become far more mature than it was so very long ago.

Joey D. from Brooklyn [WWII army vet]: “I do not want a woman at the tables with me. I won’t allow my wife to come near the craps tables. Craps is meant for men. It requires knowledge of the bets and how they are paid off. I think it is too complicated by the woman sex. Your head has to be into the game. I don’t think their heads are capable of understanding the game.

“They belong at the slot machines. That is their place when they are in the casino. Craps ain’t for them.”

Paulie M. from New Jersey [Korean War vet]: “I am not a man who hates women. I have three daughters and a beautiful wife. But I have told all of them that when they are in the casino to not play craps. Craps players look at the game as their domain – meaning a man’s domain. It is men only!

“Do you see women at the craps tables? No, you don’t. They know they don’t belong there and we men know they don’t belong there. That’s the way it is and that is the way it will always be. Some things change in this world and some things don’t. Craps will stay the same at least for my lifetime. I am sure of that.”

David P. from Long Island, New York [WWII vet]: “I like a good cigar. When there are only men at the table, I can take out my stogie and light up. Remember when stogies were bad cigars? Yeah. Well, not anymore.

“I have never had a man tell me to put out my cigar. Never. But twice I had ladies at the table with me and the nerve of them! They told me to put out the cigar. I gave them a look that said, ‘Go jump in the ocean.’ And then they told the box man who told me we couldn’t smoke cigars at the table. You have to be kidding me?

“Craps is a man’s game and we men, most of us, like to smoke. Ladies, go away. You only cause problems at the game. You are slow to take the dice. You do the little girl routine so we feel sorry for you. All of this is a royal waste of everyone’s time.

“Learn your lesson. Okay? Craps belongs to men.”

Marty V. from Pennsylvania [Korean War vet]: “I played in the streets as a kid and I played in the army. I love the game. I’d bank the game in the army and that made me some cash. The casino game is fun too.

“I go to Vegas three times a year and all I want to do is play the game I love. Women at the tables? Nah, you don’t see many of them. Maybe here and there and they don’t stay long. Craps is the only game in the casino that is all men all the time.

“And that’s the way it should be.”

There you have it. Voices from another generation.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete’s web site is www.frankscoblete.com. His books are available at Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, Kindle, e-books and at bookstores and libraries.