SAYONARA 2016 – SALUT 2017



Photo by Maiko Yamada at DMM Planets Light Art, Odaiba, Tokyo – Aug 2016





151228-kyoto-ninnaji-065-monsterBy Dane Degenhardt

Long, long ago, in old Britain,
the Celtic people celebrated New Years Day
on what is now November 1,
so their New Year’s Eve was October 31.

In those days,
evil spirits and powerful monsters
lived just below the island’s crusty surface.

These horrible creatures from hell
rose up out of the ground
on the night of every full moon.

They would pull their slimy bodies
up through the many caves
that were found around the country.

These creatures took many different forms,
each horrendous and horrifying
in its very own way.

Some were vampire bats
that let out bloody screeches
as they flew in the dark night air.

Some were huge, hairy tarantula spiders
that would creep silently
across the cold, damp ground.

Some were fiendish zombies –
decaying bodies of long lost souls–
that crawled out of their graves
to find and steal a human spirit

Still others were ghastly ghosts –
gaseous visions of bodyless souls
who would hunt the living for their bodies.

At the start of each year,
these grotesque inhabitants of hell
had only enough power
to climb to the earth’s surface,
but no power to do any harm.

Even the weakest young boy
could easily push them away
with a casual thrust of his small arm.

But, with the coming of each full moon,
the army of underground mutants
gained more, and more strength.

By the time of the last full moon of the year,
on the very night of New Years Eve,
Satan’s hordes of murderous soldiers
were as strong as they would ever be.

The poor, helpless people of Britain
were in the greatest danger.

The now strong spirits of the dead
were desperate to catch a living soul
before their power was again exhausted
with the coming of the New Year.

To save themselves from a horrible death,
the Brits built huge bonfires in every village.

To hide themselves from the evil ones,
they dressed in odd costumes
and hid their faces in hideous masks.

Throughout this night of terror,
the people danced, sang,
and screamed with fear
until the New Years sun was near.


Dylan’s artistic worth has not always been so highly evaluated.


Some people today still agree with Vonnegut
and many were surprised when Dylan
was chosen to get the Nobel Prize for Literature.

I guess the Nobel people decided that
Dylan’s works meet the basic criteria for great art.

UNIVERSAL — appeal to most everyone
PERSONAL — speak to each one directly
ETERNAL — timeless
INFLUENTIAL — impact other artists.

They may be right. As for me,
Dylan’s droning voice always stood between me
and any merits I might have found in his songs.

But this is the first time the award has gone to a lyricist
and I think that’s a good thing because
I believe song lyrics are the poetry of our time.

RIG: Definition & Etymology

This election campaign has been a real boost to my junior high school English classes.  It has provided a continuous stream of colorful vocabulary that the kids can really relate to.

Our next word study will focus on rigged, followed up with bad hombre, criminal, fraud, horrified, liar, nasty woman, prosecuted, puppet, suspense and unpatriotic.

rig: (transitive verb and noun)

The original meaning is to rig a ship or other object by applying the things you need in order to use it.

The more common meaning today is to cheat in an election or other competition by manipulating or arranging things so that one party is guaranteed to win.

Etymology:  The verb rig came into the English language from Swedish or Danish in the late 15th century as a nautical term meaning to fit the sails on a ship.


Looking at the beautiful symmetric lines created by the graceful rigging of masts, ropes and sails, it’s easy to see why people started using the same term to describe the first oil rigs that were erected on land and later at sea.


In the 19th century the noun rig was used to describe the reins and other devices required to rig up a horse and carriage rig.

james_pollard_-_the_london-faringdon_coach_passing_buckland_house_berkshire_-_google_art_projectThis naturally led to the modern use for a large truck and trailer rig.


In the 18th century rig was used to describe a swindle or cheating scheme, probably because of the complicated tricks the hustler would use to rig or trap his victims.


What was good enough for the con artist seemed good enough for the politicians in 1938 when journalists first used rig to mean tamper with election results. And now, in 2016, the Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump, even before the election, is undermining the American democratic process by declaring the election is seriously rigged by his opponent, the media and all the various parties who are ganging up to deny him his rightful win.

Great! Now I’ve got another word for the kids’ vocabulary list – PARANOIA!


From Randy Rainbow’s parody of the first debate we had “braggadocious” and a whole string of related boastful banter like;  adolescent, arrogant, big-headed, boastful, brag, braggart, calculated, careless, callous, chauvinistic, corrupt, cruel, disgusting, egocentric, fabricating, fragile, gross, hyperbole, insensitive, nauseous, obnoxious, sexist, show-off, sleazy, superficial, swagger, self-centered, selfish, supercilious, thoughtless, under leverage, vain, vane, vanity and vulgar.



Other soundbites gave us such fascinating terms as; abuse, allegations, birther, candidate, deplorable, crooked, huge, enormous, nominees, patriotic, racist, tremendous, Tic Tacs, undocumented, Islamophobe and xenophobe.

When this farce of a presidential race is over, I am going to have to look for a new source of teaching material.  Maybe the upcoming TRUMP MEDIA EMPIRE can help.


nwuwmzqwyzuymcmvelg5oez4dtvwt1bjtej3yi1gekh6qvjmu2hzps80nhg1otoymjeyedexmdcvmti4mhg2mjavzmlsdgvyczpxdwfsaxr5kdc1ks9odhrwczovl3mzlmftyxpvbmf3cy5jb20vcg9sawn5bwljlwltywdlcy9lcmo2m2gyndiwzwvoddfmejlyywuyOn Columbus Day it has become popular to diss the Great Navigator and his Spanish cohorts for bringing their worst — rapists, murderers — as they invaded the hemisphere.  It would actually be more accurate to bequeath the title of General of Genocide  to Captain John Smith and subsequent English invaders.  While the Spanish certainly began their stay in the new land raping and plundering the indigenous populations, they went on to build their colonies through a system of miscegenation that left large mestizo populations in most former Spanish colonies.  The English were not so magnanimous.

507d1f06064c531305f1be7df44500c7The good English protestants shunned the idea of intermarriage, preferring to bring their own women with them to settle the lands they ‘claimed’. These most righteous Brits not only disdained the native population as marriage partners, they even found them lacking as slaves and therefore felt compelled to import Africans to pick their cotton and tobacco. Thus, the entire English venture in the New Land was based on a broad policy of genocide and slavery. Not news of course, just customarily ignored facts.


Captain John Smith fighting with Opechancanough, chief of the Pamunkey tribe. [I found a very limited choice of images depicting the English killing Amerindians.  No surprise here.]

It still amazed me how effectively the English were able to perpetuate the myth they invented, attributing their own genocidal policies to the more humane Spanish invaders while presenting domestic images of English settlers living in good Christian harmony with their redskin neighbors (the Thanksgiving myth especially).

The impact of the two opposing colonial polices became clear to me during the 2006 FIFA World Cup.  While looking at the different teams from nations of the western hemisphere, I noticed an obvious disparity in racial makeup. Some teams were predominately White (the U.S.A. and Canada), some largely Black (Brazil and the Caribbean island states) and others mostly Mestizo (Peru, Ecudor, etc.). After a simple Google search for demographic data, I made up a spreadsheet listing the various racial categories reported by each state.  Interestingly, the U.S.A. is the only nation that has no category for a Euro-Indigenous mix like Mestizo or Métis. I then realized that such people probably fall under the Hispanic category.  Very telling date, that!  That would indicate that the Hispanics, including Trump’s hordes of illegals, are in fact the main remnants of the original population.



I know demographic data is never precise, but it does present a relative picture of comparative populations.  Here are the numbers (rounded off) from data recorded mostly in Wikipedia. It shows the percent of the population that is FULL OR MIXED AMERINDIAN. All the nations except those listed in bold print are former Spanish colonies.



USA 1.6

So, while Columbus opened the door for the European invasion — and raised a little hell at first — we have to admit that the near annihilation of the indigenous population was a largely Anglo-American enterprise.custers-last-stand-h

BRAGGADOCIOUS!: Randy Rainbow Moderates Debate #1


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I had lots of fun dictating this brilliant work of political satire by Randy Rainbow.
I’ve been using it all week as a vocabulary study for my ESL and HS students.
When they hear it for the first time, they think could never understand it, much less be able to repeat it, but after some surprisingly effortless work, most are able to repeat several parts. They especially love the line,
“Ahm.. Are you really gonna vote for this guy?”

And welcome back to the first presidential debate.
Mr. Trump, let’s get back to what you were saying
about Secretary Clinton’s makeup.
You mentioned she’s been a little heavy on the eyeliner, lately.

“Is that okay? Good. (Sniff)
I want you to be very happy. (Sniff)
It’s very important to me. (Sniff)
But in all fairness to Secretary Clinton; (Sniff)
She’s been doing this for 30 years..” (Sniff)

Do you need a tissue?

“What’s happened to our jobs and our country and our (Sniff) economy generally..
It’s, look, we are (Blow) 20 trillion dollars! (Sniff)We cannot do it any longer.”
“I am very under leverage, I have a great company, I have a tremendous income,
And the reason I say that is not in a braggadocious way, it’s…because…”

Braggadocious? Is that even a word?

“I don’t know. Maybe. Who knows.”

Super callous, fragile, egocentric, braggadocious
Likes to throw big words around and hopes that we all notice.
If he keeps repeating them they might just make him POTUS.
Super careless, fragile ego, extra braggadocious

Ahm.. Are you really gonna vote for this guy?
Oom..Are you really gonna vote for this guy?
Ahm..Are you really gonna vote for this guy?
Uh… Are you really gonna vote for this guy?

He says that he’s the man and thinks he’s got the Midas touch
But does he have a plan to fix the country?

“Not so much.”

And if you’re not convinced by all the hyperbole,
he says shut up! Just buy a stupid hat and vote for me!

He’s super careless, fragile; that’s why Hillary relaxes
This time Bill Clinton might as well sit back and play the saxes.
His wife erased her emails and now Trump wants total access.
Then once hell has frozen over, he’ll release his taxes!

Ahm..Are you really gonna vote for this guy?
Oom..Are you really gonna vote for this guy?
Ahm..Are you really gonna vote for this guy?
Uh..Are you really gonna vote for this guy?

He found a word that sounded smart and used it all day long.
But even Webster’s dictionary said he got it wrong.

So if you’re undecided or you hate the other sex,
Remember in November how he likes to sign his checks..
It’s super sleazy, fabricating, sexist & obnoxious
Even just the thought of voting for him makes me nauseous
If you like America, you’ll keep him out of office.

Superficial, chauvinistic, arrogant & thoughtless

Ahm..Are you really gonna vote for this guy?
Who the hell’s gonna vote for this guy?

Of course you can say it backwards,
Which is…docious braggas centric ego fragi callo stupid.

“Did you ask me a question?”

No. I didn’t say anything.

So, when his words escape him and he hasn’t got a prayer,
He’s feeling kind of dizzy ‘cause he sucks up all that air,


He’d better keep his guard up, because she might take a swing

“And you know what else I prepared for? I prepared to be president.
And I think that’s a good thing.”

Wait a minute!
Did you just hand him his ass and quote Martha Stewart?
Yas bitch… Excuse me. I mean, Secretary Bitch.

Super calculated, adolescent, braggadocious

If you hate both nomineesremember he’s the grossest
Meanwhile, look at Jill and Garysipping on Mimosas.

Super callous, fragile, egocentric, braggadocious

“I think I did a good job. (Sniff)”

Super callous, fragile, egocentric, braggadocious


You need to stop that.

Here’s the vocab study worksheet for the Braggadocious class:braggadocious


taxi-driverRobert De Niro pulls no punches as he verbally beats down Mister Braggadocious.

It’s goldmine of disparagement, a manual for ridicule.
As a liberal and a teacher, I feel I have a duty to dictate every slanderous word.
I do it for today’s American voter,
and I do it for my ESL students who may someday meet up with a real jerk.

“I mean he’s so blatantly stupid.
He’s a punk.
He’s a dog.
He’s a pig.
He’s a con,
a bullshit artist,
a mutt who doesn’t know what he’s talking about,
doesn’t do his homework,
doesn’t care…

Thinks he’s gaming society.
Doesn’t pay his taxes.
He’s an idiot.
Colin Powell said it best,
“He’s a national disaster.
He’s an embarrassment to this country.”

It makes me so angry that this country has gotten to this point,
that this fool, this bozo, has wound up where he has.

He talks how he’d like to punch people in the face.

Well, I’d like to punch him in the face.

This is somebody that we want for president?
I don’t think so.

What I care about is the direction of this country.
And what I’m very, very worried about is that it might go in the wrong direction with someone like Donald Trump.

If you care about your future, vote for it.”

Robert De Niro opining on the man the Republican party has chosen as its 2016 nominee for president of the United States.