A twofer

The Impatience

Ah, The Impatience: a big friggin’ force in the known universe. Best articulated with an Irish brogue. As in: The Troubles. Only, with The Impatience, the troubles really just land on the receivers.

You can see that it’s hard-wired into us by observing the ferocious impatience of an infant waiting to be fed or held or a small child who isn’t getting whatever they are wanting in any given moment.

Do you know any truly patient people? When someone fits that category we revere them as if they were a god. Or we secretly mock them for not having any moxie (I cleaned that up). Just take a drive in Manhattan and see what happens when a traffic light turns from red to green. God help the driver who hesitates before stepping on the gas. The outraged cacophony of horns blare immediately and insistently. How dare you (or you or you) make me wait…even a couple of seconds?

Sure, I have heard the tales of places where people set on their front porches watching the wheat grow and chawin’ tobacco. Perhaps that really exists…but I doubt it.


How come nobody knows what day it is anymore?

Because we are all living more in our and others’ heads and less out there in the world of sunrise and sunset. Day and night have less significance and we are losing the thread of our own organizational structures. Is this a bad thing or a good thing? Is it right or ratshit? (Gotta throw that in for the Bevy Smith and Fashion Queens fans).

Well, on a personal level it’s a bit comforting – as I careen sharply into what we graciously like to call alter-cockerhood – to have my forgetting become the new normal.

But there is a fading of what we used to consider our humanity – that interconnectedness that revealed itself in actual contact with the world around us: the earth and sky, the seasons, the days and nights. We knew we were part of the physical universe and that was our center and our identity.

Are we evolving? Is the change I’m talking about progressive? TWT (the would be time will tell for those who aren’t initial-mavens). Is there a gain that comes along with the loss?

There was a great old sci-fi movie, Tron, in which Jeff Bridges was a computer programmer transported inside a computer. Perhaps that was somewhat prophetic. We might lose our outside selves and settle deeper into our hive mind selves.

Is it regressive and old-farty of me to want to marshal resistance in the face of that possibility? To sound the alarm before it’s too late?

Coolie and me

He (that would be my partner in crime) said (as if it were an obvious truth), “Coolie is autobiographical.” Such a wrong interpretation. I might be autobiographical, but Coolie is authentic. That probably deserves some explanation. Okay, here goes…

Coolie’s story arises directly (as far as I can tell) from the source of all things – the cosmic mind. Not particularly my mind. I don’t ever decide what I’m going to write; it shows up, as if bestowed as a gift from an unseen source. I don’t amend or judge what is given. I just translate it onto the page.

I, on the other hand, am a contrivance, a quasi-intentional representation of who I think I should be. (Aren’t we all? Well, maybe you’re not.) I would love to say that I just “am” or (to put it more awkwardly) “be,” but that would be part of the same system of pretense.

If ever I have gotten to the core of self it was only to touch down and bounce away again like an encounter with a very hot potato.

Coolie is my evidence that being and nothingness are one. Not an original thought but an oddly comforting one. He’s the real deal; I’m the construct.


The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 62

It wasn’t Brownstein. No, that sweet girl would never be the source of something so corrupting. It was a guy that Coolie met at the gym. (Yes. It’s not what you would expect Coolie to be doing, but he does it for the towels. They’re so fresh!)

So, this guy says, Hey, Coolie, are you in the market?

You mean M’s Market? I go there.

Huh? I’m talking about the stock market.

Ohhh. I’ve heard of it.

You gotta be in the market if you wanna make real money. You do want money don’t you?

Well, sure. (Coolie wasn’t sure, but it seemed like this was the right answer.)

I know a guy who’ll fix you up.

Now Coolie was really confused. First of all there where too many “guy”s; how was he supposed to tell them apart? And second, he wasn’t sure what “fixed up” meant. Was he broken? Did it show? He wanted everything to just be cool (of course), so he said, “What the hey?” which the guy interpreted as acquiescence.

Next thing he knew, Coolie was on a conference call with the two guys. His brains felt googly and his voice was hardly available. They told him about a “stock that was gonna go through the roof” and that he should “keep it under his hat.” He surrendered – for the sake of The Coolness – to their ministrations. He gave one of the guys his savings account number (there had been a lot of sales at The Shop; TimeTravel Tea and tee shirts were quite lucrative).

Scroll the passage of time (pages turning on a calendar)…

Six months had passed with several more calls from the guys; several more withdrawals from Coolie’s bank account. And wouldn’t you know it, the stocks soared. Now, word had spread (as it is wont to do), that Coolstein had some kind of knack for playing the stock market. Wherever he went, people kept asking him for stock tips. He didn’t understand what they wanted from him, and in truth, he wasn’t keeping track of his “portfolio” (he wouldn’t have known that term). He let Brownstein field the queries as much as possible.

That girl was a whiz at all things; how to pick stocks seemed fairly simple to her. So, she dispensed her great wisdom – always in Coolie’s name.

And so it came to pass that Coolie Coolstein was the Barron’s cover boy for three weeks running in December.

The attention which that drew made a trip to a galaxy far, far away mandatory. Mothership was ready and the gang headed toward a small resort planet in the Black Eye Galaxy.



Sunday at the London Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. Very serene, very highbrow. You think? Here’s what occupied my attention: Chair dancing, thrown stuffed animals, kids taking off each other’s shoes. Parents! Not present.

One row back of us was a line of four under-eight-year-olds who were sitting directly behind my party of four. Since I was to the right of center stage, I had to look to my left, with my peripheral vision bringing the incessantly dancing little folks into my line of sight. Why do people bring these small beasts to a high concept cultural event? Yes, I know, to give them an early appreciation. But what about me, I whine. What about my appreciation? They are mighty spoilers. Sucking up the energy when I want to focus on the timpanist or the soaring clarinet-player or the world renowned pianist. However bad it was for me, it was worse for the person on my left. Her little monster kicked the back of her chair continually.

Then, at intermission, the invisible parent was seen and heard saying to her brood: “Well, YOU have to decide if you want to stay.”

No. Can’t WE decide? Put it to a vote? Please.

They stayed. One in my party had a nicer-than-it-would-have-been-if-I-had-done-it talk with the kicker. That stopped. But, then, there was the  denouement. At the end we all stood and applauded; we were rewarded with an encore. Oh, have I mentioned we were in the fifth row? So, as the leader drew back the bow on his violin, two other random children, who were in the front row, jumped up with fairly large stuffed animals in their hands and rushed the stage. They placed their stuffies on the edge of the stage (I guess so they could have a clear view of the instruments) and then began to dance. How wonderful. There was much consternation in our part of the audience. People’s heads were swiveling, trying to get the attention of the mother of these two. To no avail.

It is one of the things which I find appalling in this world: The access that urchins – who are as yet unhousebroken – have to magnificent cultural experiences that can be ruined by their noise and behavior. The insult is on so many levels…It’s financial for sure, and it’s unfair. I’ve invested time and have a legitimate expectation of  being transported to a higher plane – not pulled down into the raucous playground. I’m thinking a law is in order here, or at least the possibility of a citizen’s arrest. And, may I say, let’s revisit the notion of corporal punishment. I wouldn’t mind administering a sharp whomp on the noggin.

When I was a child there was a children’s section in the movies. Let’s bring back that concept. Put all the as-yet-uncivilized ones in their own pen, screen it in with something high, dense and soundproofed, and let them carry on.


The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 61

It’s a little know fact, but back in the day the two reporters who broke the Watergate story were not Woodward and Bernstein. They were Bob Woodward and (wait for it) Brownstein. During those dark days of Nixon’s demise, dirt was much cleaner than it is now. Now, we eat dirt for breakfast (I think it’s on the MacDonald’s all day big breffis menu) and don’t think twice, except to ask for extra ketchup.

The duo, who were misnamed and misidentified as an act of canine-ist bias, had the inside track on rooting out the truth (as we know it), mostly because Brownstein TTR was able to get her mitts (not to be confused with Mitt Romney) on some of the interstellar golden boughs of honesty and revelation. They are appended to several small red planets circling triple suns throughout the universe. With a golden bough in each paw, Deep Throat was conjured. He (Mark Felt) had no choice but to spill.

Nixon (who was one of DaddythebigDaddywhoseyourDaddy ‘s offspring by another mother – something Mothership will NEVER let him forget) was supposed to be a transformational agent. That was what Daddy intended, but his mother (Tricky Chicky) had other ideas. Always bet on the mother.

Although it is true that only Nixon could go to China, his darker nature was ascendant.

In order to find a way out of the far greater mess that was coming (don’t ask), Daddy had to promise Mothership the moon and the stars of at least 7,400,652 solar systems. And he had to beg. She then deigned to assign Brownstein to the reportage, and the rest is history. Or is it?

Why am I telling you this? Because DaddythebigDaddywhoseyourDaddy made a second mistake. (At what point does something stop being a “mistake” and become a trend? I’ll let you decide.) And his name is Donald. Yep. And now you know.


There was a very smart girl. Named Becky. But she was also quite a dreamer. When she wasn’t getting straight A’s in school, she was immersed in the land of “could-be.” She believed in all manner of wonderful things: elves and fairies, the Easter Bunny; but most of all she believed in The Great Pumpkin.

The day was coming. All the other kids talked about how much candy they would get trick or treating. Becky didn’t give a fig about candy. She was waiting, as she had every year that she could remember, to see The Great Pumpkin. So far, she had fallen asleep on All Hallows Eve at some late hour: 12 or 2 or so, and when she awoke the next morning, she knew at once that she had missed him. The evidence was clear: small shavings of pumpkin stalk on her windowsill. Her mother said it was dust. Becky knew better.

This would be the year. It had to be. She was ten now, double-digits, and she could stay awake all night. She went to bed but immediately sat up and watched the pumpkin-shaped clock on her wall. The hands were witches fingers. 10, 11, 12. Her eyes fluttered, but no – she was determined. 1, 2, 3. Now her spirits sank. Where was he? Could she have been so wrong?

4, 4:30. At 4:45 Becky heard something. She lay very still. The wind blew through the open window but she heard another noise. It was a low cackle, a moist clicking – hard to describe but she was fully awake now.

Somehow, through the small opening, the most immense pumpkin rolled through. He had piercing, staring black eyes and a snaggletoothed grin that covered half of his pumpkin face. He was terrifying but Becky was brave.

“Are you The Great Pumpkin?” she said, keeping most of the quaver out of her voice.

He squinted, then glared at her. “WHO DARES TO ASK?”

“I dare,” said Becky. Her knees were knocking under the covers, but she spoke clearly.

“EH? YOU?” The Great Pumpkin looked so menacing but then, with his spindly arms, he lifted up his stem and reached inside. He put two heaping handfuls (and those hands were bony and gnarled) of the most beautifully gilt-wrapped candy anyone had ever seen – on her bed.

He then rolled back up to the window, turned and said, “Happy Halloween, Becky.” His grin was all that remained, hovering over her until she fell asleep.


Have I gotten your attention? Well, I have a question which arises from an upset.

The sources of my upset are women in non-sex-oriented roles – like news commentators, corporate officers or politicians – who dress to reveal and highlight their cleavage.

This is just wrong.

You (if you’re titillated by this “style” of dress, or if you are one of the cleavage-displayers) might say, What’s your problem, Karen? It’s natural; it’s even beautiful.

No. I beg to differ. What might be natural and beautiful in many circumstances – a Saturday night date, for example – is provocative and kind of denigrating to the supposed seriousness of the person.

Women have fought for equal rights, equal pay and to be treated as consequential people. How can anything that is designed to flaunt sexuality fail to undo those efforts?

I can’t quite understand what the thinking is…is it a compulsion to display (like a peacock? or an unconscious statement of low self-esteem i.e. if I don’t draw attention by means of my sexuality, no one will be interested in me; my value to others is limited to my physical attractiveness.) Whatever the motivation, the effect is like a neon sign saying: HEY EVERYONE, LOOK HERE!

I find myself yelling at the television (I know, that sounds a little too crazy old womanish): What’s the matter with you? Why do you dress like that? Cover them up!

I would welcome some countervailing insight; Is there something I’m missing?

How do you know when you’re old?

 (This will, I suspect, be an ongoing theme. Here’s the first installment…)

  1. When the obvious isn’t so obvious anymore.
  2. When you have to stop and think, “which is the right button to push on the remote control?”
  3. By the time you get to number three, you’ve forgotten what it is.
  4. When you wait to cross the obstacle course of strollers and shopping carts until the bus is stopped. I used to blithely skip through them while the bus was in motion.
  5. When it makes you happy when others can’t remember proper nouns or what they ate for dinner last night


The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 60

Digression over…Cool and his gang were just finishing up their fortune cookies and the magical mystery pooch was having a telepathic meeting with Mothership. Coolie was listening in. Mother, with a little slight of interstellar hand, had sent her guidance in fortune form.

Brownstein, you special girl, ask everyone to read their fortunes out loud. I’ve incorporated your plan (and it is a good one.) Coolie, my favorite son, your sweet mindlessness is just what is needed to combat the madness of those five wacko-steins. I think you’re good to go. But, I’m here if you need me.

Brownstein and Coolie exchanged The Look. (It’s the one that said: ain’t she grand?)

Shtewie read first: “To best the worst, time-travel-tea is essential.” He grinned his oceanic grin and looked to his left. Or his right. He was, as always, disoriented.

Harris Tweed, in drag as Beyoncé, flipped his hair and did a few dance moves, then read: “Keep asking ‘Why?’ Ultimately, there’s no answer.”

Aha,” he said mellifluously, “the therapeutic maneuver…we likey.”

Oracle Roberts (who, as you may remember, is really Shtew in another guise, but was in split-mode today…so he could actually be present alongside his alter ego) read: “Fight fire with fire; fight crazy with crazy; fight eggplants with eggplants.”

“That makes sense,” he said somewhat haughtily, knowing that he was, in every way, a conduit for deeper meaning.

Mickey stepped on OR’s lines a bit, but he got a pass – due to his recently acquired but flickering brilliance. “Save the cheerleader, save the world. Kill the pig! … Spill his blood!”

He was grinning and his eyes were circling each other in their sockets, so the effect was quite alarming. “I got a twofer,” he exclaimed joyously.

Blue had partially eaten her fortune, but was able to extrapolate from the few words left: “Coolie is the Son and he can bless the water.”

“Ooh,” she squealed prettily, picking a small bit of paper from between her teeth. “What will you do with the water, Coolie Coolstein?” She was feeling a bit formal.

Coolie rose, looking both godlike and like Everyman  (as Mother had intended). “We’ll Wicked Witch them.”

The plan was set; Brownstein did a recap. “Drink the tea; berate them with the endless why? Send in the crazy (that would be you, Mick); embody a blend of the viciousness of Lord of the Flies with the heroic schmaltz of Heroes; then Coolie will bless the water with which we will deluge them. And voilà! They will melt away.”

Coolie paid the bill, leaving the obligatory 20% despite the likelihood that the waiter had spit in the soup. Back to The Building, and far outside time as we know it (the tea worked so well), the plan was executed.

Crapstein melted first – to a spontaneous round of applause from everyone except OR, who just didn’t do that. Ratstein was next, followed by Nutstein, Dripstein, and – ultimately – Yukstein.

“Ding dong the witch is dead,” sang Blue, off-key but with great heart.

Dead? Not likely. You can’t really kill evil, you can just send it back to Texas. That would hold’em for a while.

Coolie knew he could safely revive Sylvie and Morris but opted not to. Not just yet.


From baseball to the infinite

The Adventures of Coolie Coolstein: Episode 59

There I was, watching the game, and the thought that filled my mind was: Tomorrow is a Coolstein day. It was the call across the non-linear and non-reality (as we know it) event horizon. Coolie’s calling. He does need me after all – to tell his story. And so I shall.

Does Coolie play baseball? No. But you-know-who does, indeed. Brownstein is the lickety-splittest shortstop and pitcher and home run king. Whew, that pooch is everything (to me).

But first, let’s talk about the twirling of towels or pennants or – what are they actually? – that has become de rigueur for fans at a ballgame. I think it’s stupid. It’s one of those ‘we’re little monkeys’ things that humans do (and more often when sports are involved). Remember the wave? Remember “no batter, no batter!” What about going bare-chested and painted? And streaking. Ah, yes. Mindless monkeys.

And, now, a bit of nostalgia…Growing up in Brooklyn as a Yankee fan put me at odds with – well, just about everyone. But, in truth, I was attracted to the winning. Always have been. Not so politically correct, I know. One is supposed to root for the underdog. But, why? I say. What about the overdog?

And that brings us back to Brownstein, an overdog if ever there was one. “Can do” learned how to do from that puppyluka.

It’s the bottom of the ninth, no – not in last night’s game – the ninth dimension of The Greater Reality, the series that DaddythebigDaddywhoseyourDaddy created and produces out in a galaxy far, far away. Coolie was just whooshed there (that is, in fact, the technical term – if you don’t believe me, ask Daddy). He was cold and hot at the same time. Something most of us would hate, but his innate coolness provided an inner moderation of the extremes.

“I’m good. And, anyway, what the hey?” he said, when Brownstein checked in on his state of being.

He was, for now, (and – as we know – there really is nothing else but now) cast as a player in the series. His character’s name was “Coolie,” which made it easier for all concerned. In this “play” (wink, wink), he is now confronted by two awful but strangely attractive entities: a blue, semi-humanoid, but decidedly female being, with three over-sized teal eyes in a semi-circle at the top of her “face” (an octagonal that sat, sans neck, directly on a long slender torso). She had no nose or eyebrows or any other feature, but she had the warmest smile which went from ear to ear (they were Spockish), and revealed just a little of her double rows of tiny pointed teeth. I know. She doesn’t sound that attractive, but she was like a magnet for the Cool One.

The other “person” of interest was a low-slung, eight-legged guy whose body was translucent (just like a jelly-fish. Yes. You know who.) Clearly a guy, by the stubble on one “face” of his cube-like head. He looked stunned; four big brown lashless eyes, opened very wide.

This episode of TGR takes Cool, and his new/old gang, to an earthlike world where they get to discover an exotic locale called the upa wesite. Very scary but interesting inhabitants and not bad food.

As usual, TBC. And oh yes, there is a thread hanging. Let it hang…for now.