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Sunday, November 20, 2016

The Bitch From Borlänge – Chapter 8

The Bitch From Borlänge

By Ellie of Cameron & Smoothy


Chapter 8


Where was I? On the sidewalk in Rosengaard with Willie The Rat. We’d just found a copy of Aftonbladet and he read a semi accurate piece about my sardine caper, before eating the rest of the paper.

“I can’t believe you did that,” I hissed. “I wanted to look for something about the kat show. We have no idea where the damn thing is.”

“My bad,” he said. “Swedish papers are some of the best tasting news. Der Spiegel is to die for, but hard to find copies.”

“So what do we do now?”

“We’ll go and ask The Hound,” he said.

“The Hound?”

“Hound of the Basketballs,” he tells me. “Used to be a player before he got into the beer habit. He knows everything that’s going on in Malmö. I know where he lives.”

*           *          *

We found him at a cheap saloon, the Dog Tired, on the wrong side of the street. He was hanging out a sidewalk window with what appeared to be a serious hangover.


“Hey basketballs!” I called. That seemed to wake him up.

“Huh? What?” he snuffed.

“We’ve got a couple questions you might know the answer to,” I told him. “Where’s the FIFI cat show held in Malmö, also when does it begin?”

“Questions are free. Answers cost bones.” He was looking straight at me—the deep pocket. Rats don’t carry paper money. Some say they eat coins.

I tossed him a crumbled twenty kroner note.

“Umm. Let me think.” He passed the twenty to a poodle who was tending bar. After a pregnant paws he said, “It’s at the Malmö Konsthall. It starts tomorrow . . . runs all weekend.”

“What’s the address?” Willie asked him.

“It’s on Johannesgatan. Not too far from Pildammsparken. Going to take the rat with you?” He asked. “Good luck with that.” The poodle brought a bowl of beer and he buried his nose in it.

“Catch your act later,” Willie told him as we left.

“We'd better go there now,” I said. “We need to find a good way in—and out.”

“It isn’t far, Smooth—fifteen or twenty minute walk from here.” We could get something to eat on the way. You called him Basketballs? He might have taken that the wrong way.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Bitch From Borlänge – An Apology

The Bitch From Borlänge – An Apology

Postcard from Ellie:

I’m so sorry there has been a pause in our story. We’ve had our first snow here in Sweden and I’ve been busy tracking the wild moose and also mountain climbing. We plan to get back to the story soon, but there is so much going on and now Christmas is coming. Ak!

Postcard From Smoothy:


Well, it’s true we have been busy, but snow is really not my thing — tends to be wet and cold. Fortunately the servants have built a glassed in gym for me on the back deck and I have been working out on the katapulter even though I don’t need to worry about keeping in shape. I think it’s my turn to write a chapter and I will get to it soon.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Talking During the Commercials – by Hal Sirowitz


Taken From Writer’s Almanac

Talking During the Commercials
by Hal Sirowitz

It seems like the commercials are getting longer,
Father said, & the shows are getting shorter.
This is the fourth one in a row. Don’t they
realize there’s a limit to our patience, & we’re
ready to pull the plug on the TV if they continue
to take advantage of us? I’d pull it out now
if you weren’t watching it. The only reason
I’m watching it is so we can talk. The TV
gives us an excuse to be together. Otherwise,
we a be in separate rooms. I’m sorry for
attacking the very commercials that enable
us to talk, but there’s nothing else to talk about.

“Talking During the Commercials” by Hal Sirowitz from Father Said. © Soft Skull, Press, 2004. Reprinted with permission.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Things You Can’t depend On

Good as Gold

I’ve been watching gold . . . for the last 30 years—longer than that. My first awareness of gold was in a silversmithing class I took in college. Students could by precious metals. Gold was thirty two bucks an ounce. I was working with silver which sold for much less than that, four dollars an once, or less. I wanted some gold, just to have it, but the cost seemed too extravagant. I graduated and never thought about gold for a long time.

When I was in my late 40’s I had a decent job working as a contract electrical designer (Contract means no benefits, no health care, no sick days. A soon as the job is finished one is out the door—but the pay is very good. It’s a little like prostitution.) I decided I should have a pound of gold as a back up, my own golden parachute—one I could hold in my hand, just in case.

I bought my first ounce, a South African Krugerand, for six hundred dollars—mid seventies I think, and continued buying one or two coins a year. But no more Krugerands. They were politically incorrect. I felt guilty about it and now my coins were Mapleleafs, Canadian. The price kept going up. I paid over eight hundred each for the next coins, more than that a year or so later. I got up to eight ounces in 2008 and found suddenly found myself out of work—now in my middle fifties. I was unemployed for three years, worked a few backbreaking temp jobs, to keep from going nuts. Six bucks an hour they paid. The coins got cashed in, one by one. The price was dropping. I got 350 bucks for the last one.

*       *       *

But I never gave up. I started again in 2006, with the same goal. I had a straight job by this time. A high school teacher with a retirement and health plan, but still wanting that pound of metal. I started slowly buying coins again, at almost the same price as before, around $600. And the price went up again as I bought one or two a year. As a years passed the price went nuts. I bought the last coin for $1,800, then I retired and moved to Sweden where I watched the gold price drop like a dead monkey. Seems like it got down to around $900. But I’ve still got ‘em this time. Eight of them, eight ounces. Never made it to the pound, but now the price is going up—and down, but mostly up. $1,250 today I think. It’s been a fun thing to watch. Security is an illusion.


I think about people like myself, and people far less fortunate than myself. People just trying to get along, who keep losing in some mysterious way. Trying to save a little something. The banks used to pay interest for holding our money. Now they charge us to keep it. When I was teaching we were giving to opportunity to switch our retirement money into a stock market plan. I didn’t go for it, but some of my best friends did, and lost more than half of what they had accrued in decades of hard work. These are people who played a straight game—worked twenty years or more. Good, honest lives, and then the hammer fell. These are some of the people who are very pissed. Angry enough to play the wild card, and without a hell of a lot to lose. These are not all the ignorant crazy people we see so much of on TV. I doubt it does much good to paint them as such. It’s sure as hell not going to make them see our point of view.

So what have they given us?  A sideways look at the man: Trump has put on a hell of a show. He had to. Who would have paid attention to him if he’d played it straight? In learned debates with Hillary, the immaculate insider? She who knows the ropes—a politician all her life. She lived in the Whitehouse. He got attention by acting nuts, and maybe he is. We will see. It will be interesting to watch this guy. He isn’t stupid by a long shot, and he’s tough, he loves a fight. Let’s put him in the ring, see what he does before going though a lot of ‘pay back’, marches, lawsuits, and demeanings. Let’s get on with it. See what the politically incorrect bastard does. I think the mask is coming off. Let’s see what we’ve got.
Our One Eyed Jacks
We’re going to see the other side of his face.