Feb 192017

“There’s a guy named John Birch, like the tree, he says,” Gretchen told me early on Friday. “He’s asking for one of your free initial consultations – on the phone. He’s called twice this week already, trying to get an appointment earlier than the first week in March.” “John Birch, huh?” I responded. “Sounds like some Republican trying to use a clever alias.” “Alias?” Gretchen said, scrunching her nose up in a characteristic cute gesture emulating her reaction to barnyard ammonia fumes at the farm she grew up on in Pennsylvania Dutch country. “What’s clever about somebody calling themselves John Birch instead of their real name?” “I said he’s trying to be clever,” I pointed out, “not actually doing it. […]

Feb 012017

Tuesday evening, I was relaxing at home, alone with my cat Twinkle, reading Harpers, The Atlantic, Scientific American and The Economist when the phone rang. Caller ID showed that it was the cell number of my brother-in-law Hank, from whom, at that point, I had not heard anything in quite some time. Tom: Hank? Hank: Tom? Tom: Who else would it be? Where are you? Hank: In West Virginia. Tom: Right. Look, Hank, Obama’s not the president anymore. He’s gone. He’s history, okay? So why don’t you and Shannon quit preparing for Armageddon and come down from the hills? Because if Obama was the Antichrist, he sure did a rotten job, didn’t he? Rose misses you. Arthur misses Shannon. And […]

Jan 162017

I can’t discuss what Vernum and I worked on during his consultation Friday at 3:30, since he’s with the CIA and the subject matter was classified. On the other hand, after I completed my final appointment that evening, I headed down to the Willard Hotel, and there, in Round Robin Bar, I saw Vernum slouched, alone at a table, over what was apparently not his first cocktail of the afternoon. I sidled up and sat down next to him. Obviously, what we spoke about then could be publicly disclosed, whereas we said it all in public over drinks in a public house in a very public manner, and here am I therefore, posting it publicly on the Internet. “That’s a […]

Dec 262016

The rotating location for the Martini / Palikowski extended family Christmas dinner this year is the home of my brother Rob Roy, his wife Katje and son Jason in Falls Church, Virginia. When this is the case, technically speaking, Katje is responsible for preparation of the food. But as frequent readers of this Web log know, Katje is a militant vegan. Therefore, practically speaking, on years when she is in charge of Easter, Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner it has been customary for my sister Rose and her sister-in-law, Shannon, to bring the ingredients for, and subsequently cook, the traditional dishes at Katje’s house. Now, as regular readers of this Web log also know, it has been several years since Shannon […]

Dec 102016

As I write this, president-elect Trump has designated the CEO of a fast-food enterprise to be the Secretary of Labor, a doctor to head the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the CEO of Exxon-Mobil to become Secretary of State, the head of American professional wrestling as the chief of the Small Business Administration, a Hollywood producer as Secretary of the Treasury and a person who believes climate change is a Chinese hoax to lead the Environmental Protection Agency. He has announced that he will keep his job as the executive producer of the NBC television show “Celebrity Apprentice” while he serves as president of the United States. His tweets attacking a union leader have caused his followers to issue […]