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Listen to Paul’s interview.

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players… One man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages. At first the infant, mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.  And then the whining school-boy… the lover,  sighing… a soldier, full of strange oaths… the justice, in fair round belly… The sixth age shifts into… the pantaloon, with spectacles on nose and pouch on side… Last scene of all, that ends this strange eventful history, is second childishness and mere oblivion: sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” 

— Shakespeare


Although I’m calling this website “a personal memoir in flux,” it is also my hope that the various sections will be of interest to people, whether they know me or not. “Out on a Lim” shares short observations on day-to-day life. “Limerances” chronicles longer remembrances of things past. “Limoscenes” presents descriptions of the plays I’ve written to date, with production photos. “Images in Limbo” shows pictures of the aging process, of me with family and friends. “Limpets” are the non-human dogs in my life, and “Limitations” are tributes to people who are no longer with us. So here I am, past imperfect, present progressive, future tense. Let me know what you think. — Paul

25 February 2010: Sarah Palin’s Curiosity Case

According to former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush in a recent interview with Newsmax, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin lacks “the depth of understanding of the complexity of life that we’re living in today.”  He also thinks that she has no political legs in 2012 because “public leaders need to have intellectual curiosity.”  I beg to differ with the thoughtful Bush on the latter point.  In my opinion, Sarah Palin is herself the biggest curiosity of all, intellectual or otherwise, that we’ve ever encountered in politics in this country.  As to whether or not she has legs, not being into dismemberment issues, I must admit I’m stumped.

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24 February 2010: “Makin’ Whoopee” with Bristol Palin

Not to be outdone by her erstwhile partner in sin, who has now been seen suavely clothed in TV talkshows and hirsutely unclothed in Playgirl magazine, Bristol Palin has agreed to appear as herself on the ABC Family drama series “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”  The 19-year-old daughter of Sarah Palin will be featured in an episode dealing with the consequences of condomless fornication and teen pregnancy.  Since Bristol did not get famously pregnant all by her lonesome self, inquiring minds want to know if we’ll get to see her “Makin’ Whoopee” with Levi Johnston.  To boost ratings, ABC Family should change the title of the show from “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” to “The Secretions of the American Teenager.”  Reality TV doesn’t get better than this.  It isn’t porno, it’s Sex Education.

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11 February 2010: Teabagging with a Gay Lord!

If Sarah Palin wants to enrich herself further after all the lucrative book tours and speaking engagements run out, she can always set up shop as a folksy fortune teller.  She doesn’t have to read the palms of her religious Republican followers, because she can just read her own.  Her slogan can be, “With Sister Sarah, every day is Palm Sunday.”   And for extra donations, she can also read the tea leaves of all the fervent and devout teabaggers.  I’m surprised she didn’t do this last week in Nashville, when she was the keynote speaker at the first National Tea Party Convention.  By the way, did anyone else but me notice that the convention was held at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel, and that all the TV cameras showed the speakers preaching behind a Gaylord podium?  Gay Lord?  Really?  Why weren’t all the people at the convention on their knees, worshipping their Gay Lord?

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16 January 2010: Beware of Professors!

Having spent nearly forty years of my life teaching in classrooms at the University of Kansas and elsewhere, it puzzles me that, on the one hand, Americans in general seem to believe in the virtues of a good education but, on the other hand, they ultimately also seem to distrust their teachers.

Barack Obama was a professor.  He taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School from 1992 to 2004.  He was depicted by the media as the epitome of “cool” and “hip” on the campaign trail, through the inauguration, and through his first 100 days in the White House. But then, inevitably, the tides turned.  Now the same pundits are saying that Obama is much “too cool” and “aloof.”  Why does he seize every opportunity to give us “teachable moments” as though we’re still in school?  He’s just “too professorial.”

Is there something really intrinsically wrong or untrustworthy about our teachers and professors?  If so, let’s stop sending our kids to school, stop taking out student loans to go to college, stop funding universities and all higher institutions of learning.  We don’t really need a president who is “too professorial” and makes us feel stupid.  What we really want is a folksy leader whom we can chew tobacco and go to church with, hunt abortionists and four-legged animals with, go bowling or balling with, have a beer with.

Now is the time for the Republican Party to inherit the “cool” factor.  They should get “with it” and start wooing all the women and other marginalized voters in this country by bringing back George W. Bush and Dick Cheney in drag.  If “ignorance is bliss,” then who better to lead us in 2012 than faux females like Sarah Palin and Liz Cheney?  Who wouldn’t want to have a drink with these two charming Airheads of State? Well, perhaps not a beer.  Maybe an aperitif, or is that too European, too socialist, too liberal, too elitist, too professorial? Well, then, maybe a Screwdriver.  At least the orange juice will provide some healthy Vitamin C while we’re getting screwed into alcoholic oblivion.

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13 January 2010: How Dark Is Light?

In her autobiography Thursday’s Child, Eartha Kitt talks about growing up in the cotton plantations of South Carolina in the late 1920s and early 1930s, and how she was ostracized by blacks and whites alike because her lighter skin color made her neither black nor white.  So how did she go on to become a great celebrity not just in nightclubs and recording studios, but also in theatre, movies and television?  In 1950, Orson Welles called her “the most exciting woman in the world,” and cast her as Helen of Troy in his production of Dr. Faustus. 

Given the recent controversy over Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s remark about the game-changing likelihood of white Americans voting for a “light-skinned” African-American in the 2008 presidential election,  I’ve compiled a partial list of African-Americans in Hollywood movies.  I’m presenting them not chronologically but alphabetically, making it harder perhaps to see if in fact there is any kind of  pattern or commonality in the pigmentation of black screen faces through the decades.

Here are the black women whose images flickered in our minds—Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Diahann Carroll, Dorothy Dandridge, Ruby Dee, Whoopi Goldberg, Pam Grier, Lena Horne, Eartha Kitt, Queen Latifah, Butterfly McQueen, Mo’Nique, Juanita Moore, Beah Richards, Diana Ross, Anna Deavere Smith, Cicely Tyson, Ethel Waters, Vanessa Williams, Oprah Winfrey.

And the black men whose names on the marquee brought us into the movie houses—Harry Belafonte, Bill Cosby, Sammy Davis Jr., Laurence Fishburne, Jamie Foxx, Morgan Freeman, Cuba Gooding Jr., Louis Gossett Jr., Dick Gregory, James Earl Jones, Spike Lee, Eddie Murphy, Sydney Poitier, Chris Rock, Howard Rollins, Will Smith, Denzel Washington, Forest Whitaker, Paul Winfield. 

And then, of course, there’s Michael Jackson, in a sad class by himself, someone whose pigmentation changed with his every public appearance. 

Leaving Hollywood and the world of make-believe behind, how about the real world?  Do we have a different set of criteria for the pigmentation of blacks in sports, in academia, in politics?  As the nation gets ready to celebrate Martin Luther King Day next Monday, I find myself wondering—If MLK had been born decades later, with the same darker skin and the same oratorical skills, would we have elected him President of these United States?  And would all the “tea-baggers” and right-wing Republicans crucify the “dark-skinned” King even more than the way they’ve been crucifying the “light-skinned” Obama? 

Maybe Harry Reid was wrong.  Maybe we aren’t ready.  Maybe Hollywood needs to pave the way some more.  Maybe Quentin Tarantino needs to remake Gone with the Wind with Kanye West playing Rhett to Mo’Nique’s Scarlett and, maybe this time, quite frankly, my dear, we ought to give a damn.

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12 January 2010: Sarah Palin Vs. Ellen Degeneres

Today’s headlines reveal that Sarah Palin is joining Fox News as a regular commentator, and that Simon Cowell is leaving “American Idol” at the end of the season.  Now that Ellen Degeneres has replaced Paula Abdul on “Idol,” my guess is that Fox is grooming Moose Palin to join Buckaroo Degeneres on “Idol” after Cobra Cowell’s departure.  I’d love to see these two women lick each other in a catfight.  Wouldn’t that be a marriage made in heaven…or hell…or maybe California? 

And when she quits “Idol” halfway through her contract, Moose Palin will go for Rush Limbaugh’s job and run for President of the United States in 2012.  I think that’s what she really meant to tell Katie Couric in that infamous interview, that she can see Rush from her window in Alaska, and maybe her head up on Mount Rushmore as well.

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6 January 2010: The Gospel According to AVATAR

Where TITANIC (1997) showed us the great divide between social classes in allegedly egalitarian societies, with its “message” successfully embedded in a breathless love story between the haves and the have-nots, Canadian film-director James Cameron now picks up where Al Gore left off in AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH (2006).  Although Cameron’s AVATAR can be viewed and reviewed as a movie which bashes American-style capitalism and militarism, I personally see it as the first Green Movie for the Masses.  It’s too bad that AVATAR was not released last December, when the Copenhagen climate summit was in progress.  With Cameron’s permission, President Obama might have distributed DVD copies of the movie to the delegates, and the summit might have produced different results.  But, it’s not too late.  As is their wont, the Chinese will pirate and distribute illegal DVD copies of this movie to all of Asia, and maybe the yellow masses will be moved to do something about climate change where our world leaders have failed. Although the protagonists in AVATAR look blue, I cannot help but think that if you mix BLUE and YELLOW, you’ll get GREEN.  Thanks to THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO AVATAR, we are finally getting a true marriage between ART and PROPAGANDA.

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4 January 2010: Harder! Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!

At my age, encounters with frisky strangers occur rather rarely, so my New Year’s resolution is to fly as frequently as I can, in order to enjoy free full-body rubdowns and massages in the expert hands of airport security people. 

Here’s some dialogue out of a new Quentin Tarantino remake of an old Russ Meyer movie:   “Lower, please.  That’s it.  Don’t be shy, now.  Harder!  Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!  Oooops. Sorry about that.  You can keep the soiled underwear if you like.  Hey, what’s with the handcuffs?  I’m not into that kinky stuff!  No, please.  Not the baseball bat!  I’m a tight end, not a wide receiver!”

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The Beastly Beatitudes of the Chinese Zodiac

After over half a century of reading and collecting paper place mats from Chinese restaurants all over the world, I’ve decided to collate my collection and share the Wisdom of the East with anyone who believes that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by western horoscopes.

As you probably know, according to legend, the twelve animals in the Chinese Zodiac are listed in the order in which they arrived for an important meeting called by the Buddha (or maybe the Jade Emperor).  Unknown to the ox, the rat had jumped upon his back.  As the ox approached the destination, the easy rider jumped off his back, and this is why the rat is the first year of the animal cycle, the ox second, etc.

It might amuse you to know that, because of their birth years, Mozart and Shakespeare are rats, Richard Nixon and Barack Obama are oxen, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are rabbits, Michelle Obama and Sarah Palin are dragons, and Dick Cheney is a snake.

My mother tells me I was born on the day of a year when the “sympathetic” sheep was being ushered out by the “manipulative” monkey, that I am neither one nor the other but both, inheriting and exhibiting not just the best but also the worst characteristics of these two creatures.  My mother doesn’t like people to know it, but she’s a pig.  I console her by reminding her that Alfred Hitchcock is also a pig  She loves his movies—Psycho, The Woman Who Knew Too Much, and, of course, Dial M for Mother.

What about you?  If you have the stomach for it, you might want to check out your own beastly beatitudes below, courtesy of all the paper place mats from all the Chinese restaurants through the years which have contributed to my hardened arteries.

Rat:  1900, 1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008

Forthright, tenacious, systematic, meticulous, charismatic, sensitive, hardworking, industrious, charming, eloquent, sociable, artistic, shrewd.  Can be manipulative, vindictive, mendacious, venal, selfish, obstinate, critical, over-ambitious, ruthless, intolerant, scheming.

Famous Rats: Michelangelo Antonioni, James Baldwin, Charlotte Bronte, Truman Capote, Wilt Chamberlain, Prince Charles, Sasha Cohen, Eminem, Scarlett Johansson, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Plato, Robert Redford, William Shakespeare, Leo Tolstoy, George Washington.

Ox:  1901, 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009

Dependable, calm, methodical, born leader, patient, hardworking, ambitious, conventional, steady, modest, logical, resolute, tenacious.  Can be stubborn, narrow-minded, materialistic, rigid, demanding.

Famous Oxen: Pedro Almodovar, Johann Sebastian Bach, Napoleon Bonaparte, Charlie Chaplin, George Clooney, Marlene Dietrich, Walt Disney, Anton Dvorak, Jane Fonda, Clark Gable, George Frederic Handel, William Inge, Rachel Maddow, Yukio Mishima, Paul Newman, Richard Nixon, Barack Obama, Vincent Van Gogh.

Tiger:  1902, 1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010

Unpredictable, rebellious, colorful, powerful, passionate, daring, impulsive, vigorous, stimulating, sincere, affectionate, humanitarian, generous.  Can be restless, reckless, impatient, quick-tempered, obstinate, selfish, aggressive, unpredictable.

Famous Tigers: Emily Bronte, Fidel Castro, Sheryl Crow, Tom Cruise, Emily Dickinson, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lady Gage, Langston Hughes, Jay Leno, Jerry Lewis, Karl Marx, Marilyn Monroe, Marco Polo, Beatrix Potter, Queen Elizabeth II, Jean Seberg, Jon Stewart.

Rabbit:  1903, 1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011

Gracious, good friend, kind, sensitive, soft-spoken, amiable, elegant, reserved, cautious, artistic, thorough, tender, self-assured, astute, compassionate, flexible.  Can be moody, detached, superficial, self-indulgent, opportunistic, stubborn.

Famous Rabbits: David Beckham, Johnny Depp, Zac Efron, Albert Einstein, Eartha Kitt, Whitney Houston, Angelina Jolie, Rush Limbaugh, Arthur Miller, Brad Pitt, Frank Sinatra, Leon Trotky, Orson Welles, Tiger Woods.

Dragon:  1904, 1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012

Magnanimous, stately, vigorous, strong, self-assured, proud, noble, direct, dignified, zealous, eccentric, intellectual, fiery, passionate, decisive, pioneering, ambitious, artistic, generous, loyal.  Can be tactless, arrogant, imperious, tyrannical, demanding, intolerant, dogmatic, violent, impetuous, brash.

Famous Dragons: Edward Albee, Susan B. Anthony, Joan of Arc, Orlando Bloom, Sigmund Freud, Graham Greene, Bruce Lee, John Lennon, Florence Nightingale, Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, Keanu Reeves, Ringo Starr, Mae West.

Snake:  1905, 1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013

Deep thinker, wise, mystic, graceful, soft-spoken, sensual, creative, prudent, shrewd, ambitious, elegant, cautious, responsible, calm, strong, constant, purposeful.  Can be loner, bad communicator, possessive, hedonistic, self-doubting, distrustful, mendacious, suffocating, cold.

Famous Snakes: Ann-Margret, Joan Baez, Dick Cheney, Bob Dylan, Greta Garbo, Audrey Hepburn, James Joyce, John F. Kennedy, Imelda Marcos, Pablo Picasso, Martha Stewart, Kanye West.

Horse:  1906, 1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002, 2014

Cheerful, popular, quick-witted, changeable, earthy, perceptive, talkative, agile (mentally and physically), magnetic, intelligent, astute, flexible, open-minded.  Can be fickle, arrogant, childish, anxious, rude, gullible, stubborn.

Famous Horses: Muhammad Ali, Ingmar Bergman, Jackie Chan, Davy Crockett, James Dean, Clint Eastwood, Ella Fitzgerald, Harrison Ford, Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson, Ashton Kutcher, Ang Lee, Silvana Mangano, Paul McCartney, Sandra Day O’Connor, Teddy Roosevelt, Sonia Sotomayor, Barbra Streisand, Mike Tyson, Luchino Visconti, Oprah Winfrey, Boris Yeltsin.

Sheep:  1907, 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003, 2015

Righteous, sincere, sympathetic, mild-mannered, shy, artistic, creative, gentle, compassionate, understanding, mothering, determined, peaceful, generous, seeks security.  Can be moody, indecisive, over-passive, worrier, pessimistic, over-sensitive, complainer, weak-willed.

Famous Sheep: Jane Austen, Catherine Deneuve, Anita Ekberg, Jamie Foxx, Mel Gibson, George Harrison, Mick Jagger, Franz Liszt, Michelangelo, Sam Shepard,  Mark Twain, Rudolph Valentino, Barbara Walters, Bruce Willis, Orville Wright.

Monkey:  1908, 1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004, 2016

Inventor, motivator, improviser, quick-witted, inquisitive, flexible, innovative, problem solver, self-assured, sociable, artistic, polite, dignified, competitive, objective, factual, intellectual.  Can be egotistical, vain, selfish, reckless, snobbish, deceptive, manipulative, cunning, jealous, suspicious.

Famous Monkeys: Julius Caesar, Daniel Craig, Bette Davis, Federico Fellini, Jake Gyllenhaal, Louis Malle, Eleanor Roosevelt, Diana Ross, Will Smith, Elizabeth Taylor, Harry S. Truman, Leonardo da Vinci, Alice Walker, Naomi Watts.

Rooster:  1909, 1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005, 2017

Acute, neat, meticulous, organized, self-assured, decisive, conservative, critical, perfectionist, alert, zealous, practical, scientific, responsible.  Can be over zealous and critical, puritanical, egotistical, abrasive, opinionated, given to empty bravado.

Famous Roosters: Catherine the Great, Amelia Earhart, Paris Hilton, Rudyard Kipling, Groucho Marx, Britney Spears, Peter Ustinov.

Dog:  1910, 1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006, 2018

Honest, intelligent, straightforward, loyal, sense of justice and fair play, attractive, amicable, unpretentious, sociable, open-minded, idealistic, moralistic, practical, affectionate, sensitive, easy going.  Can be cynical, lazy, cold, judgmental, pessimistic, worrier, stubborn, quarrelsome.

Famous Dogs: Brigitte Bardot, George W. Bush, Mariah Carey, Cher, Winston Churchill, Bill Clinton, Doris Day, Benjamin Franklin, Jean Genet, George Gershwin, Jane Goodall, Herbert Hoover, Michael Jackson, Akira Kurosawa, Sophia Loren, Madonna, Shirley McLaine, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Donald Trump.

Pig:  1911, 1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007, 2019

Honest, gallant, sturdy, sociable, peace-loving, patient, loyal, hard-working, trusting, sincere, calm, understanding, thoughtful, scrupulous, passionate, intelligent.  Can be naive, over-reliant, self-indulgent, gullible, fatalistic, materialistic.

Famous Pigs: Lucille Ball, Humphrey Bogart, Hillary Clinton, Alain Delon, Thomas Jefferson, Ernest Hemingway, Alfred Hitchcock, Mahalia Jackson, Elton John, David Letterman, David Mamet, Keith Olbermann, Elvis Presley, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tennessee Williams.

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