Fiscal Cliffhanger


Meaning:  A story or situation in which the main consideration is one of suspense.

perilspaulineOrigin:   Cliffhanger entered the language as a description of the various short melodramatic serial films which Hollywood produced from 1914 onward. The films in the series didn’t run as one long sequence but each had an independent storyline, which usually began with the heroine being found in a situation apparently facing certain death, only to escape and thwart the bad guys by the end. “The Perils of Pauline” is the name now best-remembered. 1

New term: Fiscal Cliffhanger – machinations of our Republican Representatives.  The Perils of Pauline had 20 episodes.  I hope that Grover Norquist’s minions who pledged no-new-taxes get voted out of office well before we get to twenty episodes!


Los Angeles officials declared victory this week, after their gun buyback program managed to pull in 2,037 guns, including 75 assault weapons and two anti-tank rocket launchers, the LA Times reports. Yes, you read that correctly. Residents turned in the weapons for grocery store gift cards, no questions asked. 2

Get real.  Who but a nut-case really needs an assault weapon (or an anti-tank rocket launcher)?  No, banning semi-automatics  would not prevent murder by gun, but instead of 26 mowed down at Sandy Hook Elementary School, maybe “only” two adults would have been killed before the intruder was tackled.  However, that massacre is just the latest.  There were seven mass shootings in the US in 2012, with 151 victims3!  (Tucson’s violence came a year earlier.)  We should follow Australia:

From 1984 to 1996, Australia had over a dozen mass murders by firearms, largely copycat killings prompted by media coverage in the U.S. and in Australia. Unstable people do insane things. After one lone nut gunman killed 35 and wounded 21 people in 1996, the Port Arthur Massacre, Prime Minister John Howard banned all semi-automatic rifles and pump-action shotguns because of the outrage felt by Australian citizens. He introduced highly restrictive gun licensing laws. Hundreds of thousands of guns were purchased from Australian citizens and destroyed.

Do you know how many mass shootings we have had since then? Not one. In addition, firearm homicides have dropped 59% with no corresponding increase in non-firearm murders.

People kill people, not guns? Rubbish. Guns give the mentally ill ruthlessly efficient killing power, and escalate domestic violence from assault to homicide. The U.S. needs to act now, and the gun lobby needs to wake up to its culpability.4

Gangnam for Freedom

beanYou may only know of the Bombay-born, contemporary sculptor Anish Kapoor by his obsession with stainless steel surfaces which distort the surroundings, as seen his “Bean” in Chicago’s Millennium Park.  But he has put together a take-off on Gangnam Style5:

…the brilliance of the song [Gangnam Style] lies in its wider adaptability. Ai Wei Wei6, the dissident Chinese artist, released a video showing him dancing to a parody of the song, with handcuffs dangling from his crossed wrists, an allusion to his arrest by the Chinese authorities in 2011; he’s still under house arrest. Soon after, the artist Anish Kapoor released “Gangnam for Freedom”, a video featuring high-profile British artists as well as activists from Amnesty International and Index on Censorship. The silly horsey dance had suddenly become a serious rallying-cry.

You can watch Ai Wei Wei’s version (with the handcuffs, and which China promptly banned)7 and/or Anish Kapoor’s (nicely choreographed, and which attacks censorship worldwide)8.


I just finished reading The Time Keeper, a short novel by Mitch Albom, widely known for Tuesdays with Morrie (which my mother enjoyed reading the week before she died).  You can devour it in a day.  Mostly about a teenager who wants to end time and an old guy who wants to prolong it.  My favorite paragraph is in the middle of the book,

“You marked the minutes,” the old man said.  “But did you use them wisely?  To be still?  To cherish?  To be grateful?  To lift and be lifted?”

christSegue into Christmas and its feeding frenzy of consumerism.  (Check out this poster.9)

As social critic and artist Andy Warhol wryly observed, “Shopping is more American than thinking.”

Are all of your childhood photos of happy children?  (A way to remember only the good times.)  I am so sick of that song, It’s the hap-happiest season of all…  But I remember, from my childhood, a few presents and we children grateful for what we got.  (My memory no doubt helped by those happy photographs!)  A crèche under the Christmas tree, and going to church to sing carols.  Christmas dinner at my aunt’s, five families with a dozen cousins and my grandparents, glad to be with each other, not things.  A quiet happiness, not a pile of plastic manufactured in Asia.

Did my granddaughter, already with a surfeit of five Barbie dolls, really need three more and a Pepto Bismol pink car for them?  (Yes, Barbies are manufactured in Asia, specifically in Indonesia and China, no doubt in sweat shops like Foxconn’s.)  But I have many other reasons (besides those feet on tiptoes that can only wear high heels) for hating those mindless bimbos.  This from Wikipedia:

At 5’9″ tall and weighing 110 lbs (at 1/6 scale), Barbie  fit the weight criteria for anorexia  [and] she would lack the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate.

Teen Talk Barbie… spoke a number of phrases including “Will we ever have enough clothes?”, “I love shopping!”, and “Math class is tough!”

‘Nuff said.


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3 Responses to “Fiscal Cliffhanger”

  1. Price K Says:


    I will have some pithy comments for you soon

    Missed seeing you at Thanksgiving this year.

    my best


  2. Hal Says:

    I love your posts. Keep up the good work. –Hal

  3. Stella Miles Says:

    Loved the quote from “The Time Keeper”


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