Mad Hatters Lead Me to Dirty Martinis

Madness, The perfect excuse!

Imagine 18th Century England! The satirists and the colloquial conversationalists of the time were completely politically insensitive to the victims of a disease that affected an entire industry.

The ravages of madness, dementia in modern terms, were suffered by the inhalers of toxic mercury nitrate fumes after years of laboring for a living wage rendering the fur of small animals into felt for the production of hats.

Alice's Mad HatterWhat a mess it was! The symptoms of extreme irritability and more extreme shyness were mixed with paranoia, streams of convoluted ranting and wandering mental thought and severe tremors that could only rival the lifelong pursuit of too many perfect martinis.

These hat makers were known as Mad Hatters. Common to the industry of hat making in 18th Century England, they were so well known that Lewis Carroll wrote about them in a novel in 1865, a century after they became synonymous with their trade.

Is it any wonder that the participants of the chaotic delirium that became Alice’s Wonderland experience were a white rabbit and a mad hatter?

Excuses bring me to the inevitable conclusion that the perfect martini should not be a goal. I offer this recipe as an alternative to the usual: For the gin, I would prescribe 3 ounces of Bombay London Gin, original recipe dating back to 1761 London, England. I would add to it one tablespoon of your favorite dry vermouth and one tablespoon of olive juice with an olive. This “dirty” martini is, therefore, not perfect.

Cheers to my readers from my desk in Old Cape Cod.

Theodore Morrison Homa MD



I have not been motivated to blog for a while.Tonight I watched or attempted to watch the Oscar winning movie ARGO. I felt immediate revulsion for what passes as first class entertainment in the USA according to the Academy elite.

The opening premise in the movie is that the USA and England conspired to overthrow the legitimately elected government of Iran and installed the Shaw. As a result the American consulate was attacked, presumably due to our fault as a nation and the embassy staff were kidnapped.

The clear left wing slant of the movie’s opening lines should disqualify it as entertainment and worthy of an oscar. The brutal truth is that we did not deserve to have our embassy attacked and our diplomatic staff abducted by a bunch of radically extreme barbarians. International law respecting consulates and embassies should always be honored.

It took changing presidents from the left wing icon of Jimmy Carter to the responsible and courageous Ronald Reagan in order to end the crisis. Apparently Hollywood and their dysfunctional leftist friends are still not over it. I can only say that ARGO is a propaganda film and worthy of those who hold Marx and Stalin as heros.

Theodore Morrison Homa MD


The Quest for Perfection. The Bougainvillea Vine.

On a recent vacation in the Naples, Florida, region I found myself on a quest for the perfect Bougainvillea vine.

Bougainvillea in Naples, Florida

I found what I thought was the best. She was wild and grew in multiple directions, climbing and clinging to stone arches and red with the splendor of her flowers.

Bougainvillea Bougainvillea in Naples

Alas, on the road to this search I came upon many pretenders to the Oscar landscaping awards. The following are just a small collection of nature used as jewelry.


Landscaping, in most places, is designed to hide flaws or decorate beautiful structures. Typical to every region that I have explored are the somewhat predictable and sometimes not so predictable arrangements of what otherwise would be natural foliage.


From a man’s perspective: Like women, golf courses and automobiles, landscapes tend to be appealing and are attempts by the designer to be unique, charming and desirable. The eye of the beholder ultimately determines the nature of elusive perfection.

Nature in Naples Florida

Multiple specimens in Naples


Nature in Naples Florida

Bottle Brush Tree


Nature in Naples Florida

Flowering Hickory


Palm Trees

Royal Palm


Palm Tree in Naples

Palm Tree with a furry coat


Palm Tree in Naples

Beautiful Palm Tree




Everyone Should Have a Bob

The author and friend

Me and my friend Joel

Remarkable as it may seem, there are always new stories to tell about my old friends.

My wife, Mrs. Homa

My muse, my wife

For most of my married life my lovely muse has satisfied my every whim. She is a woman that has kept her vows. She is loyal and a great mother with a nesting instinct a lioness would envy. She single-handedly raised all my wonderful children and saw to it that I, forever busy, was an attentive father and gave to my children and family all that I could in spite of myriad numbers of people and professional responsibilities pulling me in the other direction. Never let it be said that I let it be unnoticed or unappreciated.

No matter how busy and distracted I have become, there is one basic truth: Behind every successful man there is a good woman. This is what I remember most when preparing for Valentine’s Day.

And when I try to show my appreciation – and believe me I do – I always seem to fall short. Thus is the saga of my entire love life. Jewelry, furs, events and vacations are mere trinkets compared to the one thing she wants most: my time. And if I were able to give more time with the way I can’t balance my own checkbook we would be in the proverbial poorhouse.

Bonita Springs, Florida

Our view from the pool in Bonita Springs, Florida

Last night we dined at Chops in Bonita Springs, Florida. We are staying in a luxury rental for the winter season, trying to avoid the frigid Chicago air. One of my seriously close friends retired down here during the last decade. Joel is an avid Cubs fan and art enthusiast. These contrasting passions have always kept him busy. Our favorite arguments have been over baseball. I am always challenging his expectations of “Wait till next year!” at the end of every baseball season. Spring training is just about to restart the never ending cycle.

Our friends


His wife Sherry, always close to my lovely muse, has set a new standard worthy of all beloved women. Joel’s lifelong friend has become personal concierge to Joel and Sherry just out of the love and friendship that they have shared over a lifetime.

When we want to visit with Joel and Sherry it is Bob who accompanies them, makes the reservations, pays the bill and sees to the accounting thereafter. Bob comes to their house daily and, a devoted friend, shares their joy and their sorrow. He even walks the dog.



There is no way to put a price on this incredibly devoted friendship. It is just beyond reach of anything money can buy. If I could do anything more than I usually do for my beloved muse on the coming Valentine’s Day, I would wish she and I too had a friend like Bob.

One more wish for Valentine’s Day: Maybe, just perhaps, I know it’s a long shot… But could the Cubs win the World Series this year?


Looper, Sci-Fi and Eternity: A Previous Instance is Already Running

Looper: Need I say more? Dark? Yes. Depressing? Yes. Completely wrong? Probably!

It reminds me of a message I often get on my Dell PC: “A previous instance is already running.”


It’s not that I don’t love science-fiction. It’s not that I don’t have a passion for time travel. Actually, I do. I appreciate plausible themes and stories that don’t make me wince. The time-travel paradox is not solved by Looper. It is embraced.


Truly, if time travel is invented in 30 years, then it must follow the Gilmore rule. Essentially, that is the theory of The Time Synapse and Fixed Reality. There is no other acceptable way to do it. The disregard of this principle has perhaps been the world’s largest stumbling block preventing serious scientific enquiry into the development of legitimate time-travel devices. Forgive my hyperbole.

(I will go into evidence of other dimensions in later posts.)


Philosophically, when one considers the roots of human life, both in theological thought and belief systems, most humans come to similar conclusions. More likely than not, there is a Prime Mover or Creator. This belief comes with a set of rules that hold an individual accountable for their behavior during their lifetime. Most theological theories involve reward for goodness and some, consequence for evil. Most consider the Creator as a being or force that is outside of reality as we perceive it. As we know it, time is one specific measurement of that reality (or existence). Therefore, the Prime mover must by necessity exist in eternity and has no beginning or end.


If we are able to break out of time and travel through it, we would likely be required to enter the zone where eternity exists, to do so. I would postulate that if one does learn to travel through this zone, the travel must be linear from the perspective of the traveler. Thus, the traveler’s perceptions would be clear and his or her memories would be fixed. This would argue against circular travel where paradoxes could occur as suggested in Looper.


Think of time as a limit, like up or down. In our cosmos there is a set of rules that apply in layers to the concept of these simple limits. Yet when we explore ever larger systems or ever smaller particles we are astonished to learn there is yet another layer to explore. The serious scientist already understands that sometimes the rules, which seem so obvious in the beginning, are quite different when dissected out into understandable form.


One concept that we toss around freely, in thought and conversation, is the concept of eternity. Eternity has no beginning and no end. Simple enough? Not so fast.


We just got past the media craze about the end of the Mayan calendar and what that would mean. Would the world just end on a given date based on the cult of assumed wisdom of a race and culture of whom we have no firsthand knowledge? Some believed it. Most did not. It is harder to assume, for instance, that there is no end to the cosmos. If there was an end, what would follow? This question reveals our inability to come to grips with a cessation of all existence. Thus we have a natural affinity to accept eternity, at least in regard to endings.


What about beginnings? What was here or there before this reality was? Where did it come from? How can we explain it? The fact is we cannot explain it so we just assume one of two alternatives. The first that perhaps there was no beginning! The second is that there was a beginning. So what came before? In either case we are compelled to accept the concept of eternity.


In Looper, the concept is when time travel is invented 30 years into the future, it is immediately outlawed. The future shows an America in decline, run by criminals and police. The problem is that criminals that kill people can’t dispose of the bodies without risk of being caught. Big Brother must be watching closely! So the criminals have time travel because they are… Guess what: criminals! They use the time travel technology to dispose of their enemies by sending them back in time 30 years. When the victim arrives, they have agents waiting to execute them and dispose of their bodies. It is simple. No one can find the dead person in the future. No repercussions for the gangster.


The problem is that the agents who have been hired to execute and dispose of the remains of those sent from the future are somewhat of a risk to the criminals of the future when 30 years pass. The solution to this annoying problem is simply to send to the agent in the past the more mature copy of himself for execution and disposal. These agents are called “Loopers” and when they execute their future selves it is known as closing the “Loop.”


The hero of Looper, one of these agents, successfully creates a time-travel paradox. As a time travel, sci-fi and telekinesis movie,  I rate it a C+ for effort and tell you that without Bruce Willis it would be a complete bust.


I leave you with the philosophical message about eternity: Please ponder the inescapable premise that eternity exists as I have postulated. I hope in the near future to talk about probabilities related to the fact that we and the Cosmos are not accidental.


Theodore Morrison Homa MD


Memories of New Year’s in Vienna at the Strauss Concert

New Year’s in Vienna 1989-90


Verne challenged me preemptively on a hot, Indian summer afternoon while walking into the hospital: “You and Kathy should consider coming to the New Year’s Eve Concert in Vienna. It’s the most widely celebrated New Year event in the world!” He turned briskly in the opposite direction and strode down the hall while the words he spoke just hung there, like the singular sweet notes of the flute in the third movement of Mozart’s Serenade for the Winds.


When the echo stopped, the words floated in my mind. The romance and mystery of the City of Vienna on New Year’s Eve tugged at my emotions. I smiled in fantasy of what the trip to Vienna might hold for me and my lovely muse. Then with something new to look forward to in the night of winter, I went about my day enjoying instead of regretting the fleeting warmth of the fading year.


Home, as I poured a pair of dry Bombay Sapphire martinis over clear ice in crystal tumblers, I broke the news to my muse. She didn’t bat an eye as she scrutinized the perfection of the cocktail at her lips then nodded with approval at our New Year plans.


I couldn’t wait to tell Verne the next day so I phoned him and accepted his plan. Verne immediately took charge of the trip. From that moment he became Rieserfuher (Trip master in English) Kathy and I spent the rest of the evening discussing the impact on the budget and how we would accomplish Christmas activities and travel to Austria.


A month later and 40 degrees cooler Verne approached me with the news. He, through the most great effort, had obtained four tickets to the Vienna Symphony Hall for the Strauss Concert on December 31, 1989. Joy rekindled my fantasies of Viennese coffee shops and winter strolls on the Ringstrausser with my beloved and in the company of Verne and his wife who fortunately were fluent in German.


I came home that night and over another set of perfect martinis told my lovely muse the good news. “Of course the children are coming,” she announced expectantly. “Oh,” I said, “there are only four tickets.”


Negotiations began. I offered the trip to Vienna to include the children and sitters. She, no longer amused, insisted that they accompany us to not only the concert on New Year’s Eve but all activities including the opera tickets Verne suggested to the Volksopera, which required formal attire. My muse, losing her luster, also demanded attendance at the Cinderella Ball, usually held on Dec. 31st after the concert! Trying to keep the peace and the fantasy intact I agreed to discuss all of Kathy’s demands. I discussed them with Verne the following morning.


“No way!” he said. “Do you know how impossible it was to get four tickets. She is out of her mind.”


“Verne,” I said, “you just don’t know Kathy. This has to work, there is no other way.”


He nodded but looked doubtful. “I will make a call to a friend. He may be able to do the impossible!”


Thanks was my worried response as I turned and began my day.


Two weeks went by and there was no response from Verne.


Finally, with just days to go the answer came. We could have three more tickets. All it would cost was the face value of the tickets and a donation to the Gesellschaft der Music Freunde in Wien. (Society of Music Friends in Vienna). The cost to me was close to 4,000 dollars. Of course, my kids were worth that and so was my happiness.


We finalized our reservations, flying business class to Vienna, Austria for the New Year’s holiday. Kathy, I and our three children enjoyed the trip even from the moment we started packing everyone’s dress clothes and necessities. We had reservations in the Marriot hotel on the Ring Strasser and on arrival slept off our jet lag. We awakened to our Riserfuher’s telephone call insisting we chose a restaurant for dinner. We had considered everything but the culinary tastes of our picky second daughter and our son.


After contemplation we decided on a Austrian restaurant that served typical German/Austrian cuisine, which Kathy thought Priscilla and Teddy would eat. We sat at the table in the The White Chimney Sweep and ordered Weinerschnitzel for all.


Dec.31, 1989 was a day to remember. Rested from jet lag, we dressed in our finest and had Haute Cuisine in the Marriot Restaurant before departing for the concert. Last minute business included a side trip for me to the Gesellschaft der Music Freunde to meet the curator. I brought my check book. Verne, the ultimate Riserfurher at my side, introduced me to the elderly Austrian who held forth a binder with special content for my review and an envelope with the cherished three tickets. After a cordial introduction and the formal opening of a bottle of Champagne, I exchanged a hefty check for the tickets.


While sipping a glass of extraordinary bubbly, I was given for my scrutiny a hand written music sheet signed by and in the hand of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Never published, this was an unfinished piece written by the maestro just prior to his untimely death. I felt a chill of awe at the prospect of actually holding such a relic. Of course I feigned the ability to read and appreciate the score. Business accomplished we retreated back to the hotel, met with our respective families and began our assault on the Vienna Symphony Hall.


We entered the Vienna Symphony Hall and were stunned by the crimson and gold vision of heaven on Earth. Jeweled coffered ceilings and molding suited for the gods and royalty greeted us as we were escorted to our seats by formally-attired ushers. We sat apart due to the sequential acquisition of the treasured tickets, but within close eyesight of our children.


The sound of applause shook the auditorium as the Maestro Zubin Mehta led the Vienna Philharmonic orchestra to their seats. Then with a sharp signal from the Maestro silence reigned for just a moment before all the joy and brilliance of Strauss exploded from the orchestra. It was pure fun and holiday celebration reverberating from the walls and the ceiling. The perfect acoustics amplified the lightness and sparkle generated by the Maestro’s baton and the orchestra’s response.


The spectacular event lasted 72 minutes was laced with rich polkas and marches and included three big waltzes: Wiener Blut, Tales from the Vienna Woods and, of course, The Blue Danube. The finale included the entire audience participation and all stood and clapped to the riveting Radetzky March. Zubin Mehta and the orchestra took three curtain calls to the imploring applause of the attending crowd.


Exhilarated and exhausted by the dramatic exhibition we all stood and made our casual exit from the music hall. On the way out with dreams of resting in quiet peace and sipping a cordial, my muse, undaunted by the tide of emotional finality of the night, turned to Verne. She boldly declared, “Now let’s go to the Cinderella Ball!”


Never let it be said that without tickets or reservations my sweet muse would be denied her ambitions. Happy New Year to all.


Theodore Morrison Homa MD



Macy’s Christmas Memories Are Common. Not This One.

Macy’s in New York City, 1948 was not just another department store.


Grace Fetick Homa, Mom

Pop held me by the hand with a strong, demanding grip, as if he were afraid I would get lost in the crowd. Mom stood at the edge of the Santa display holding an infant and wearing a red cloth overcoat, lipstick and nails to match. And in her arms was a stranger nestled up to her chin.


He slept, this baby brother, unaware of Santa Claus on the throne just a few feet away. We moved again farther from mom. Pop tugged at my arm, and I marched with him in the line toward the Santa Claus. Blue flashbulbs exploded with light over and over again.


We moved closer until finally Santa beckoned. Pop released my hand and I, without much choice or chance of running, stepped up to the white-bearded, fat man and allowed him to plunk me onto his knee. More blue bulbs exploded with light as he asked me what I wanted for Christmas.


I paused too long, wasn’t prepared and then I saw the trains running around the Macy’s toy display and fearlessly pointed: “Yes, and Merrrrr—yyy Chrissss-massss to you!” – Santa’s own rehearsed remark as I slid off his knee and ran to my mom.


Two year’s later: Macy’s in New York City.


I was experienced and hardened now. Clearly ready for Santa. The line was longer. Pop was with me in line. Mom, too tired to hold Barry any more put him down. We moved closer, almost there, when mom screamed: “He’s lost; where did he go?” That was when the excitement began.


The crowd parted like the Red Sea at Moses’ command, as mom continued to bellow her remorseful tears at putting Barry down. Clerks ran helter-skelter with walkie-talkies at their lips and ears. The store manager in blue suit and red tie for the Christmas season took command of the search. Santa was summarily sent for a hot chocolate break. Kids everywhere moaned at the added burden of a longer wait to talk to the king of Christmas elves.


In the background, the Macy’s train set continued to run on conventional Lionel triple tracks into the Christmas Village built around it and in back of the entrance to Santa’s lair. The train would forever run on its relentless path of a miniature world. Around the last bend and then out of sight a puff of artificial smoke escaped its stack before disappearing into the window display.


Out on the sidewalk in sub-freezing weather crowds always gathered to watch the Macy’s Christmas window display. The train having run it’s course through to the window display would run several loops through the Christmas toys catching the hearts and fantasies of the youngsters brought there for this seasonal event. On this day in the background, policemen in vans and firemen rolled to sudden stops sirens blaring, barely noticed by the crowds as they rushed into assist in the search for the missing Barry.


Havoc run amok was the flavor of the Macy’s toy department as this 1950-style Amber Alert shook the crowds with concerned sobriety. The crowd was a hush as the search raged. Then, the Lionel train could be heard whistling in the distance as it was approaching the interior of the store. “Toooot-Toooot” as it approached, then silence and a crash.


Barry William Homa

The store engineer ran to the display to determine the cause of the fault. Curtains torn apart suddenly revealed a massive crowd at the window watching as Barry sat in the display enjoying the Toyland fantasy of Macy’s Christmas window.


Memories thanks to Grace Fetick Homa 1915-1998 RIP.

Barry William Homa 1948-1980 RIP.


Boxing through my Ages: Pop, the Navy and “Looking Sharp”

The Gillette Cavalcade of Sports started on prime time television, on Friday nights in 1949. Known to me as Friday night boxing, every Friday night Pop and I sat together in front of a black and white television and looked at boxing.


It was definitely not watching, watching is too passive a word for what was happening. We looked as if we were participating. We listened to the announcer Jimmy Powers, who was the familiar voice broadcasted on NBC fromMadisonSquareGarden. I remember his voice to this day; I don’t recall ever seeing his face. He described the fight and the punches to make it more real to the viewer.


My little brother joined us when he was old enough and became a fan too!


My pop who loved boxing

Pop fostered my love of boxing.

Each of us was a fan. Pop was a super fan. He set the pace. He was extremely fanatical about boxing . He was also our hero.


The show lasted until June of 1960, and I think I spent every Friday night looking at the fights with pop, with the exception of girls who occasionally interfered with my devotion to boxing and Pop. After all I was 15 years old in 1960.


The Jingle was “To look sharp use Gillette blue blades.” We looked at some of the greats. On September 23, 1952 we “looked” while Rocky Marciano knocked out Jersey Joe Walcott with ”the greatest punch in boxing history.” There were numerous matches by history’s great pugilists Archie Moore, Rocky Graciano and Willie Pep.


Floyd Patterson “looked sharp” when he won the World Heavyweight championship as the youngest boxer to ever do it until 1986.


We “looked “ in awe as Jake Lamatta Knocked out Jose Basera in 48 seconds of the first round, a record that would last 37 years.


In 1950, Ezzard Charles halted the great Joe Lewis’s attempt at a comeback. Joe Louis had lost his “edge.” The same year Jake Lamatta, loosing by all three judges in the 15th round on points, knocked out his opponent Laurent Dauthiulle in the last round. He had not quite lost his “edge!”


We all “looked” in amazement when Sugar Ray Robinson knocked out Jake Lamatta in round 13 to win the Middle weight Championship of the world. Boxing history refers to that event as the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.”


“Looking  sharp” again Sugar Ray Robinson  knocked out  Rocky Graciano,  a former world champ,  in the 3 rd round. Rocky Graciano had lost his “edge”


Floyd Patterson was beaten and lost the Heavyweight Championship to Ingamar Johansen. Floyd Patterson sharpened his “edge” and became the first man in history to regain the Heavyweight Championship of the World. Pop and I and my brother watched that event. Patterson “looked sharp” and we “felt sharp” as the jingle goes.


The Sport of Boxing changed; it was more universal. Matches were booked for the television audience fromLas Vegas,Chicago,Los AngelesandPhiladelphia. Cassius Clay stopped Archie More inLos Angelesin 1962. We watched Sony Liston knockout Floyd Patterson in 2 minutes 6 seconds of round one of the World Heavyweight Championship in 1962. A repeat battle had the same result in 1963.


By now there were girls in my life and boxing became secondary. Pop continued to watch regularly. I did on occasion. How could I not watch Cassius Clay shock the world by stopping Sony Liston in 7 rounds? Shortly after, due politics and race, Cassius Clay became Cassius X briefly and then Mohammed Ali. To most Americans he was not “looking sharp.”


Along came a lawyer turned sports announcer. Howard Cosell, considered the Bella Lugosi of sports casting, singled out Mohammed Ali and made him acceptable again. Cosell once said that sports is the toy department of human life. He did a lot for Ali and took some risks, but Ali became one of the most revered boxers of all time. The jingle continued “To look sharp use Gillette blue blades.”


On a more personal note it seems Pop’s enthusiasm for boxing started in College at theUniversityofCincinnati. He wanted to “look sharp” and joined the boxing team for fitness and workouts. After a while the coach came to him and told him he was scheduled for a match. Pop said no. He never intended to box competitively and that was that.


Pop was a handsome man he always wanted to “look sharp.” The chance of a scar on his face or a cauliflower ear shook him to the core. The coach gave an ultimatum: “If you workout with the team you will box with the team.”


Pop was aggressive and always expected to win. He avoided fraternity life on campus because he would not submit to the humiliation of initiation rituals. He was in such high demand that the fraternity he joined agreed to allow him to bypass the initiation process.


Pop agreed with coach and began his boxing career. He took it very seriously. He won 20 fights including his last bout on points with his toughest contender. He was awarded the Golden Gloves Championship.


The opponent from the final match approached him later. He asked, “Did you not feel the punches I was hitting you with? I can’t believe you won and I lost. The harder I hit you the more you smiled. It was demoralizing and I stopped trying.”


Pop’s response “ If  I did not smile you would know that you were hurting me.”
The quickest cleanest shave of all!


Before we were old enough to shave, my brother and I got pairs of red boxing gloves for Christmas. Velcro not yet invented. They had to be tied around the wrist, which meant we had to be supervised when we used them. Pop was our instructor. We learned to punch the heavy bag and the light bag. Pop tried to teach me to jump rope, but I never mastered it.


Finally the day came when we thought we were good enough to box with one another. I can tell you I did not like it; neither did my brother. I didn’t feel sharp at all. That was the end of it for us! We went back to being fans of television boxing. I think we disappointed Pop, but he just smiled.


I looked ahead. I wanted to “be sharp.” I set my goals on medical school. I got my M.D. in 1971. After internship, it being the Vietnam Era, I went on active duty in the U.S. Navy. I met Benn in the brief medical officer training school that we attended inSan Diego. We were not much alike, but we had in common the fact that we were going to the same base inIwakuni,Japanto be with the Marines. Our relationship started there and we became best friends to this day. In Iwakuni we did the very thing we were advised never to do. We volunteered. It was a simple mission. We became boxing team doctors.  We had a common love and respect for the sport.


Boxing, football and soccer were the competitive sports Marines played. There were frequent tournaments between different bases. A special rivalry between the first Marine Air Wing and the third Marine Air Wing existed.


One day the commanding officer of the base called us into his office. We presumed we were in trouble. He stood up. We saluted. He walked around us and closed the office door himself.


He said: “Secrets, gentlemen, are  of various types. Some are classified and some are not.”


“Yes, sir,” we said in unison.


“This secret you will treat as classified!”


“Yes Sir?”


He told us that the third Marine Air Wing was coming to our base for a boxing tournament. He looked at us for a long time and said, ”You know what you have to do.”


The meeting was over. We saluted and left the office.


Benn and I had ethics. We were not about to call fights early just to win, even we had the authority to do so!


In the interests of preventive medicine we set up a medical station on the tarmac, and M.P.s and Corpsmen routed all of our guests thru the station to make sure their shot cards were up to date. After review of the shot cards the Corpsmen had to vaccinate 90% of our guests with Cholera vaccine, just a shot in the arm that aches for three days.


The next evening the boxing tournament started. Our air wing won most of the bouts on points. Benn and I would never let a fight go to a knockout. The bar was low for a TKO in a mismatch.


During the boxing matches I admired the black and white, form-fitting shirt that displayed the referees muscles. I told Benn, “I would like one of those shirts.”


Benn’s response: “You can’t wear that. Neither you nor I could fill out the shirt like the referee. Stop and think of how it would look.”


We laughed about it for an hour. The next morning we started training for the Marine Corps physical fitness test.


“To look sharp use Gillette blue blades”.


Boxing remained a steady interest in my life. One of the bitterest moments in my life was the last time I saw Pop alive! He was in the hospital weak and fluid overloaded. I told him, “When you get out of here you need to exercise more.”


He put up his dukes and threw two slow punches at the air and said, “You mean like this.”


For the quickest, closest shave of all.



Flush a Friend or Forgive: A commode story

The Bruno Caper

The boss’s name suited him: Don .He was a middle-aged man with auburn hair, cut closely and always groomed to perfection. His uniform, a navy blue Armani suit and a yellow power tie, had the typical successful look of the early 80’s.


When at work his serious aspects and gregarious nature complimented one another. He greeted clients fully suited and escorted them personally to the black leather guest chairs with brass studs accenting the armrests in typical expensive club fashion. The natural smile never left his face as he removed his suit coat and paused to hang it neatly on a rack, apparently designed to match his desk. He turned to his clients to be sure they were comfortable, inquiring about the need for fresh coffee or water and sat easily at the helm of his massive desk. The top of the desk was brilliantly shined and only a fresh folder, with the new client’s name typed neatly across the tab, prevented the impression that the desk top was a mirror made of Brazilian cherry and not the center of negotiations for a new construction project.


Don took off his gold nugget cufflinks, placed them in his shirt pocket and extracted a fountain pen with the ease of an accomplished magician. Before speaking he rolled up his sleeves exposing muscular arms that reminded the client he did not always do the heavy lifting from behind a desk. He spoke softly setting his clients at ease and spoke of the early days when he turned a two flat into an expansive construction empire one building at a time. He would proudly announce his skills as a plumber were the tools that lent him the introduction to the tradesman upon whose labor he shrewdly built his empire.


Don began the discussion: “Don’t let the 18 percent interest rate frighten you.”


He explained he had specialists in financing and that the project would be finished sooner because few companies could stand the weight of Jimmy Carter’s stagflation due to lack of work. He had resources that would outlast this and any other foul financial climate.


“For 10 percent down I will start construction without worrying about financing!”


He reminded his clients of his personal faith in Jesus and that his business grew exponentially as long as he tithed. He would not only build it quickly, but on budget and in five months from shovel in the ground till the paint dried on the walls. That would be ample time to find an acceptable mortgage for one quarter of a million dollars and the financial climate to change.


“I will personally change the standard warranty to three full years from closing instead of the usual one year.”


Unable to resist the power of the boss’s ability to close a deal and anxious to build there new home, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas signed the contract and a check that day for $25,000.00.


Don then introduced Jim, the job foreman who appeared neatly dressed in jeans and an open sport coat covering a plaid shirt. It was clear there was a dress code in the boss’s office but Jim only donned the jacket to meet the new clients. He would be seen many more times in his jeans and plaid shirt while the house was built and the crew needed supervision.


Jim always took his muddy boots off before getting into the impeccably clean cab of a company truck. When he showed up to report to the boss his wing tips were shined to military perfection. Jim, a wise and skilled foreman, understood his job, which included handling the everyday details of the dirty part of the construction project and running interference for the boss who had long ago earned his role as CEO of the company.


The company ran effectively as if it were a military unit. It seemed that everyone knew their role and responsibility and the chain of command.


The house was constructed on top of a hill. The foundation was poured and the muddy road to the house had deep ruts from the retreat of the heavy machinery as they retreated from the site after completing their mission in a rain storm.


The first inspection by the Thomas’s was the next day. They splashed through the mud hitting every rut in their Cadillac Deville as they drove up to the house. There was a wooden plank from the mud to the front of the foundation. They both got out of the Cadillac from the passenger side and carefully walked up the ramp.


A minute passed in the warming sun when they both got the same impression. The foundation was too small for the grand house they had imagined. They left in a hurry and once home to the phone to call Don the boss.


“It is too small,” Mr. Thomas cried at the receiver.


The boss paused for a moment, presumably to think about a response.


“Too small compared to what? The sky?”


Enough said, he was right as always, and he seemed to have everything under complete control.


The construction was completed ahead of time even though Mrs. Thomas added another $100,000 worth of upgrades on the kitchen and family room alone.


The completed house stood on the hill with an inviting charm. Don had worked his perfectionist magic. The upgraded kitchen became a masterpiece of integration of custom cabinetry and paneled walls all done in pure designer white and accented by coral-colored porcelain floors, tiles laid in diamond geometry. The counter tops were dark green granite. The adjacent family room and laundry/mud room were done to perfection in the same style. The bathroom off of the mud room had the same white paneling to a chair rail and above it tinted glass mirror to the nine foot ceiling. The accessories in the bathroom included even a shower stall to wash the dogs. The back door had a small porch raised three steps from the path that cut across the crown of the hill to the driveway.


The unseen but intricate hub of plumbing designed by Don exited the house through the foundation and under the driveway to a lift station, which then allowed the waste water and sewage to flow into a septic field on the other side of the hill. This was an engineering marvel to Mr. Thomas but escaped notice from his wife whose main interest was the interior design.


Months passed without a complaint. Mrs. Thomas hired an army of maids to keep the dwelling showroom new in appearance. Not a thing was out of place nor would that be tolerated.


The day came when the first signs of trouble appeared with a sluggish toilet off the mud room. It took several flushes to realize that nothing was flowing out through the drain. Plungers were purchased at Ace hardware and given to the maid. No success resulted in their use.


It was Time to call Don. After the usual secretarial facilitation Don was on the phone. Mrs. Thomas explained the situation to him in fluid detail. Don was the knight in shinning armor coming to the rescue with a simple command: “Be calm. I will take care of everything right away.”


In the next moment he advised Mrs. Thomas that he would ask Jim, the foreman and fellow church member, to dispatch a plumber who would follow instructions to the letter. This will all be taken care of and over within the hour! Jim received instructions from the boss and contacted an employee named Bruno, giving Bruno no authority to act on his own but to report each detail of what he found to him.


Bruno knocked on the back door within the hour reporting to Mrs. Thomas for duty.


If Don was the most meticulous man Mrs. Thomas had ever seen, Bruno was the exact opposite! He was tall. He had a huge muscular frame. His hair flew about as he moved his head. Long and disheveled it stuck out in three places from lack of management or cowlicks or both. His brown, unkempt locks had no sheen, appeared dusty and he generally seemed to have forgotten to go to the barber for months. His big round eyes encased in a large round face lacked the ability to focus in any one direction for more than a moment. Hair also grew from his ears and nose with abandon like a garden left to grow weeds. His smile was not menacing but clownish. He had protruding lips that did not seem to cover his semi-toothless mouth.


He carried a plumber’s wrench over his shoulder like a soldier coming home from a lost battle. He was dressed in dirty grey overalls that were covered in brown stains. If the plumbers wrench had not been angled across his shoulder one would have perceived these stains as just mud. Knowing his occupation raised some speculation about the origin of the stains. His boots were just as offensive as his overalls and seemed to leave a trail behind him of brown footprints.


He spoke broken English in an eastern European accent. “Hello, Mrs. I am BRRUUNO,” in a throaty voice. “Jeeem sent me!” It took several repeats of the name Jeeem to realize he was talking about Jim the foreman. Without waiting for an invitation, Bruno pushed himself through the back door almost falling over the threshold.


“EES this that blocked commode?” he inquired trying now to give an air of professionalism. Again without invitation he marched into the bathroom off the back of the mudroom. In an instant he left half a dozen smudgy handprints on the tinted mirrored walls while peering into the toilet at the unflushable contents.


He moaned aloud “I SEEE DE problem Mrs. EEEZY to fix. YoUUU got a plunger?” She handed him the tool the maids failed to find effective.


Immediately he started to pump the plunger in fast rapid rhythmic movements like a lumberjack sawing a log by hand. Water colored brown splashed everywhere, even as high as the mirrored walls above the wainscoting. When he was done he looked at the bowl with great satisfaction and sighed.


“That should fix it Mrs.” He stated with authority and simultaneously flushed the toilet. His toothless grin turned to a frown as water poured over the top of the bowl onto the floor. Since the floor was already wet and dirty he did not seem affected, but Mrs. Thomas shuttered with silent rage.


Bruno said, “Don’t worry Mrs., I call Jeeem”


The conversation overheard was cause for concern! “Jeeem the toilet don’t flush!” said Bruno. A pause followed by “SSSSSSSSSS, Jeeem, you want me to do what? Ok I tell Mrs.”


Bruno turned and advised Mrs. Thomas that Jim wanted him to use a snake to clear the pipes. He trudged out to his van to retrieve the plumber’s snake and trudged back into the house, the snake unfolding and dancing in his arms like an oversized and worn out slinky toy. As he wrestled with the device the ends of it scratched grooves into the paneled white walls. He seized control of it and began with the same vigor he used with the plunger to feed it into the pipes until all that was left was a short piece in his wet dirty hand. Having exhausted the entire length of the snake he wiped it out of the pipe while turning it in large circles leaving noticeable scratches on the porcelain bowl. He got to the end and dropped the snake onto the floor where it unwound and he flushed again. Again the same result as dirty water poured over the top of the toilet onto the now unrecognizable coral tile floor.


“SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS” announced Bruno, “I call Jeeem again!”


Apparently Jim was on the phone again while Bruno brought him up to date on the

lack of improvement in the flushing situation. “Yes Jeeem, I do that”


Bruno turned to Mrs. Thomas: “Mrs., Jeeem say to take off toilet and look in pipe,” snorted Bruno. She nodded tenuously in the affirmative. Bruno promptly unfastened the two anchor bolts holding the toilet to the floor and pried loose the seal. More dirty water, the last of it spilled onto the floor as Bruno hoisted the commode and carried it like a baby in both arms out the back door. He set it gently on the concrete landing a little too close to the edge. As he turned to come back in it toppled down three steps and began to accelerate as in rolled down the small hill into a decorative boulder and broke into multiple pieces. Bruno seeing what happened stated emphatically, “SSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS.”


It was a sound that he used to show surprise at an unfortunate outcome by drawing his breath inward through the gapes in his teeth. He turned in a flash and without explanation peered and then reached into the drain pipe now exposed on the floor. Another brief “SSSSSSSSSS” and he said, “Mrs., I call Jeeem.”


Once back on the telephone speaking to Jim he made several more SSSSS sounds while shaking his head no.


Bruno still shaking his head no turned to Mrs. Thomas and said, “SSSSSSSSSS, theees is bad, Jeeem says I got to break da wall.” She winced! Bruno, reassuring her, said “Doonworry” in a softer voice, “I will hose down the mess and clean up when I ‘m done.”


Mrs. Thomas started to sob. Tears rolled down her face and the phone rang! Bruno answered it. “Jeeem? No Boss!” he paused. “Ok boss I check thee reset button in the lift station now” He turned and ran out the door to the septic tank, lifted the concrete disc and looked in. He ran back in the house grabbed the phone and said, “That’s eet Boss you solved it. Mrs. will be so happy.”


The next morning Mr. and Mrs. Thomas were having takeout coffee and muffins for breakfast while waiting for Don’s crew to come and clean up the mess that had contaminated their home. It was 7 a.m. on Saturday morning. The doorbell rang for the back door. Standing there was not Bruno, not Jim, but Don the boss himself. Don was wearing overalls that were clean but unpressed. His clean white tee shirt had the name of his construction company across the chest. His boots were well worn but clean. The Thomas’s surprise was clear as they both said in unison, “Don, why are you here?”


Don replied: “I know Bruno failed you. I know Jim failed you. They have both failed me. They are both good men. They are both members of my church. I know their character. I ask your forgiveness. I have forgiven them.”


He paused to reflect. “After all, if I did not come today to clean up their mess myself, I would not know how much forgiveness they need.”


Talking Book Genres and Publicity with Red

Red was cooling the last of the jars of raspberry jam when she heard Claret ask Bruno to start a pot of Evangeline. She knew the English muffin would be the next item across the screen, so jar in hand she headed out to see what Dr. Theodore Homa had in hand.

M3: I am sure there will be quite a few ready to snap up a sequel to Archimedes’ Claw. This book is not in the same genre. Was it difficult to jump genre?

TH: Skipping from genre to genre is difficult only if you are unfamiliar with the genre in which you are writing. For me to write a western, for example, would require more than imagination. Readers like to be entertained. If what they are reading is not at all plausible it becomes boring.

M3: Memoirs tend to fall together a bit more easily. Certainly, mine did even with the research involved. With the proliferation of faith-based memoirs, what makes yours stand out from the crowd?

Find out how different Standing at the Gates of Heaven and the Precipice of Hell-A Doctor’s Experience with the After Life is  from others in the genre and pick up some marketing tips for subsequent books, press releases and social media with a guest appearance of Leigha Landry, Dr. Homa’s publicist.

Visit The M3 Blog for something yummy from the M3 Coffee Shoppe and the latest from Dr. Homa.