Betty White

I had hoped to avoid spending the last day of the year in mourning, but the fates had other ideas.  Betty White passed away this morning, just a few weeks shy of her 100th birthday.  Everyone was pulling for her to make it, especially those of us of a certain age.  I was looking forward to celebrating her birthday with her.  Betty was our flagship of longevity.  She specialized in flipping the finger to mortality.

I first met Betty when I was 13 and she was 22 at a dance party for the Al Jarvis Make Believe Ballroom radio show.  She was vivacious, sexy, and funny.  Funny was always Betty’s hallmark—the irreverent quip, the fast one-liner, the bold joke in the face of pomposity.  You can read all about Betty elsewhere.  I can tell you this:  in a town and a business known for the terrible toll it takes on its workers, Betty was the gold standard of graceful survival.  

I’m writing through tears right now.  Safe journey, Betty.  There will be bawdy jokes in heaven tonight, and you will be their author.  Rest in peace.  May flights of angels sing you to your rest.


China & Me Coming Soon

My new book, China & Me: Wing Flapping, Feather Pulling, and Love on the Wing, will be on sale shortly after the first of the year.  The hard cover edition will be available for order on Amazon.  I’ll keep you posted on the exact date it’ll be getable.  

It is a story of my long and at times rambunctious relationship with China, my pet Moluccan Cockatoo.  I acquired China in 1980, a first anniversary gift from Thomas.  China is still with me today, um, as is Thomas, LOL.  By my calculations, China is most likely 50 years old, give or take.  This is not all that unusual for parrots.

This story is a look behind the curtain into my everyday life.  It’s often funny, but, like so many things in life, it has its moments of sadness.  Over the decades I’ve integrated a wild animal into a human household, played matchmaker to find him a mate, and cared for his offspring.  I’m blessed to have had China as companion, confessor, and straight man all these years; and he’s still with me today.  In his own way, he points the way to a simple truth.  As the late comedian, Brother Dave Gardner once said, “Happiness isn’t getting what you want.  It’s wanting what you get.”  I think China would agree with that.  I hope you’ll enjoy our story.


Christmas 2021

Christmas is a time for memories.  Rummage around in your own emotional ditty bag and you’ll find odds and ends of Christmases joyous and sad, sprinkled with the archival bellybutton lint of history—personal and otherwise.  Joan Didion said that we tell stories to ourselves in order to live.  True, I believe, but we also tell stories to ourselves because we can’t help it.  The human brain is a story telling machine.  The problem is, as the Dali Lama says, that we believe them.  There’s danger there—instead of seeing the world as it is, truly, we tell ourselves stories about what we think it is.  It would be useful at this time of year, when fellowship and goodwill are so often on our lips, to see clearly, to ignore the stories about who did what, and to gently smile in adversity’s face.   That, chillun, is the only way to survive.

I wish all of you—my friends on Facebook and Twitter, those of you who read my blog, those who watch my videos, and all my fans near and far—the merriest of Christmases.  May you have happiness, ease, and peace of mind.  May the sharks of misfortune swim far away from your boat, and may the great blue whales of good times, laughter, and love dive deep in the oceans of your hearts.  Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year. 


Stop Whining

Instead of whining about how they might lose the House and Senate in ’22, the Demos need to start selling everything that’s gone RIGHT since Biden took office. Vaccines, jobs, the economy, get it? When they say “inflation,” you say, when people have more money, they spend it. It’ll create some inflation that will eventually settle down. And remind everyone that the GOP has stood in the way of EVERY SINGLE GOOD THING. Instead of cringing, stand up and punch. And keep punching. We have a great record to sell.


Joe Manchin

Joe Manchin gave us one last head fake, lied through his teeth to the president, and whined a “NO” on Fox.  Ain’t that a bitch?  In this morning’s whimpering interview, Manchin repeated that, gee, he just couldn’t go home and explain if he voted for the Build Back Better legislation.  Yeah, it must be hard to explain to the citizens of one of the most impoverished states in the country why child care assistance, safer highways and bridges, creation of good-paying jobs, expanded broadband coverage, and relief from artificially high drug prices is actually good for them.  Joe Manchin is for all time, one of the top 3 lyingest motherfuckers in the Senate.  (Plug in your favorites for the top two, but my vote for the leader board goes to Lindsay Graham and Moscow Mitch McConnell.)  History’s judgement certainly will be that at the moment when Americans needed compassionate and essential legislation, Joe Manchin broke ranks with his party, went back on his word to President Biden, and stood in the way of making West Virginian’s lives better.


Big Day Tomorrow

I’m so excited tonight! Tomorrow I’m recording two songs for Thomas Lauderdale & Pink Martini for the band’s new album. One song is partly in German, the other is from the 40s. The recording studio is just down the street–the venerable Lyon Studio–and it’s my favorite. Pictures and video tomorrow. Off to an early bedtime. Nighty-night. mvd

Pearl Harbor Day 2021

This is a day to honor the men and women who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor.  I have difficulty holding back my tears.  I was 10 years-old on December 7, 1941, living in Sioux City, Iowa.  I had the chickenpox, and I was listening to Elmer’s Tune on my new victrola, an early Christmas gift because I was sick.  When the news of the attack on Pearl Harbor came over the radio, it felt like time stopped.  My life as I knew it was reset to zero.  

My father immediately tried to enlist in the Army, but was a year too old to fight.  The country was gearing up for the war effort, and jobs were rumored to be opening up around the country.  Everyone said stay away from the west coast, because the Japanese might attack there next.  But my mother loved the idea of Hollywood, so we set our sights on California.  My dad and four friends crowded into his green ’39 Ford and drove non-stop to San Diego to find work in defense plants.  

My mother and I stayed behind in Sioux Falls with no money to pay the rent on our small flat.  We moved to a rooming house—one cramped room across the street from a roller rink—and lived from hand to mouth.  The roller rink sign flashed in the window all night. 

Dad didn’t like San Diego, and when jobs didn’t materialize, he left his friends and drove to L.A.  At last he found a job in L.A., and after six agonizing months, sent for us.  Our train was continually sidetracked by troop trains, and took five days to reach Los Angeles’ Union Station.  It was warm, there were palm trees, and everyone seemed to be wearing sunglasses.  Despite the hardship and terror of the war, it looked like heaven.  I took to L.A. like a fish to water.  For me, like so many, WW II was a defining moment in life and history. 

Ironically, today President Biden confronted Vladimir Putin of Russia over the threat of Russia’s imminent invasion of Ukraine.  On the anniversary of the last world war, it feels like we’re on the doorstep of another.  Biden has taken a hard line, as he should.  Now Putin needs to decide if he feels really lucky.  I don’t think it’s a good idea to play brinksmanship with Joe Biden.  

There has been scant mention of Pearl Harbor on tv today, and that is sad.  We might learn something about the future, if we only would pay attention to the past.  RIP brave souls entombed in Pearl Harbor’s warm waters.  Your sacrifice was not in vain.

Hon. Col. Mamie Van Doren

Bob Dole RIP

Senator Bob Dole, the last Republican with a sense of duty and honor for his country and the offices he held, died today.  I had the pleasure of meeting Bob and Elizabeth Dole at the White House in the 1970s.  Both were gracious and friendly.  I have many, many problems with the GOP—their racism, their new authoritarianism, and their lack of compassion—but Bob Dole was not a part of that new wave of dishonor.  Dole was a patriot who suffered grave wounds in WWII, yet went on to serve his country for decades in the House and Senate.  He served with dignity and grace in politics—a calling not known for those qualities—an old timey politician who took his job seriously by working across the aisle to get America’s business done.  He will be sorely missed by his family and friends and the constituents whom he served with distinction.  RIP Senator Dole.  May flights of angels sing you to your rest.

—Hon. Col. Mamie Van Doren