Old Geezers Out to Lunch

Old Geezers Out to Lunch
The Geezers Emeritus through history: The Mathematician™, Dr. Golf™, The Professor™, and Mercurious™

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

The Fetish of Freedom

Well, two posts ago, my friend Mercurious  has gone off on a self-described rant on the subject of U.S. –Syria relations—and for a change he makes total sense.  He also seems to have struck a nerve with the readership.  As a designated know-it-all (professor) I can’t resist my itchy fingers…I’ve got to try to work through something regarding our very problematic place in the geo-political world.  As an early commentator so appropriately asked: where do we go from here? 

Where indeed?  American foreign policy has a long history of getting itself into complicated situations that when analyzed later have beginnings that are difficult to understand and exits that are almost impossible to comprehend. The situation in Syria is only the most recent/current of these dilemmas.  If we “connect the dots” of post WWII foreign policy, is there anything we can see as an illuminating pattern?

If pressed about where to look for root problems with our view of the world and their influence on foreign policy decisions, I would offer two seemingly unrelated observations:

• We can be a wonderfully, maddeningly optimistic people;

• We have, over our time as a nation, fetishized freedom.

Clearly these take some explaining.  First things first.

Even people who roundly dislike the United States tend to be amazed , even awed by our general optimism that every problem can be solved and the energy that radiates from such a world-view.  If they are not awed, they are certainly impressed (either positively or negatively, but they are impressed nonetheless). It’s one of the fundamental keys to our greatness as a nation. 

So what’s the problem with optimism?  Optimism becomes a problem when the critical mass of citizens (and subsequently their elected leaders) become convinced that there must be a solution for every social, political, or military ill in the world and, hence, if we are to be a great nation (or if a person is to be looked at as a great leader) SOLUTIONS MUST BE FOUND. 
I sympathize with the disgust Mercurious feels when he observes the reprehensible conduct of Assad (who by most accounts is mild and reasonable in comparison with his father, who reigned over Syria for decades.)  He’s a terrible guy; so is the Taliban; so was Gadhafi; and yes, Saddam was an absolute horror; (for that matter “our man” Karzai is no stand-up man in Afghanistan.)   We’re doing not a lot about Assad; we did a little bit in Libya; we expended vast amounts of life and treasure in Iraq; ditto Afghanistan. 

The question to ask is: did our huge interventions result in appropriately greater social, political and personal progress than did our minimal interventions?  It simply doesn’t make sense to invest massive amounts of precious resources for little (or no?) net gain.  Yet we do it.   Time and time again.  We assume that if we invest the kind of resources overseas comparable to what we might invest domestically, that comparable progress will be made. 

 Why?  Because we are optimists.  I share the amazement that we went to Vietnam in the absence of precious natural resources (such as oil.)  Why did we then?  As another commentator observed, the “domino theory” was dubious.  Might many of the “best and brightest” who got us into that mess genuinely have thought that they could make things better?  It would be consistent with our Achilles heal: optimism.

And what was going to make things better in Vietnam?  Among other things, we were going to save them from their “oppressor”, Ho Chi Minh (who was a natural hero to many).  Why oppressive? He was a communist.  Why is communism so oppressive? It takes away freedom.

This takes us to our second point: if you look at both our domestic and our foreign policy, the abstract idea of “freedom” can be heard loudly and seen clearly.  It lies underneath our inability to understand how Vladimir Putin has been able to consolidate power. How can this happen, we ask?  He has taken away so much freedom from his citizens.  The answer—seen without looking through the strangely colored glasses of the cult of freedom—is obvious: Russians, as a group, value other things—particularly stability—more than freedom. 

The “Arab Spring” obtained such a lofty name because we assumed that the arrival of freedom for these previously dominated populations would bring a flowering of civic engagement, cooperative decision-making, and social well being.  We assumed that freedom would be the solution; we were optimistic.  We were wrong.  It appears that many in Egypt question whether the freedom implicit in democratic elections is worth the cost of theocratic oppression.  The army taking power does not confer freedom; it can confer stability and many, if not most, Egyptians seem to value stability.  We don’t seem to understand this, though.

There is good reason for the prominence of freedom in our national psyche: it is woven through so many of our foundational national myths that by now it is impossible for us not to consider it among the things that make us a great, distinctive nation.  But just as a person has to guard against the assumption that others are going to view the world the way we do, nations must guard against the assumption that others are going to value what we value with the same intensity. 

But we can and do fall prey to this way of thinking.  A small, subtle example of this can be seem with the issue of security cameras in a city I dearly love: London.  Many of us as freedom-loving Americans react with shock and disgust when presented with the statistics outlining just how many security cameras are at work in London.  “What about your freedom?” we ask Brits incredulously.  Amazing as it sounds, Londoners seem to prefer personal safety to our somewhat abstract notion of “freedom.”  How can you enjoy freedom if you are in fear of your life? 

Good question, unfortunately the fetish of freedom in America doesn’t seem to be hindered by such practical considerations. We’re more interested in the freedom as an abstraction.

The ultimate absurd devotion to the fetish of freedom in the abstract is seen in America’s devotion to what is normally called “second amendment rights.”  Sandy Hook with its bloody devastation made barely a dent in our national conversation regarding gun violence; the Maryland mall shooting over the weekend will be yesterday’s news by the end of the 48-hour news cycle.  We won’t be hearing about how gun violence infringes on our practical freedom to be safe for very long;  what we will be hearing is more and more of a seemingly endless flow of verbiage starting with the word “freedom” and ending with the words “second amendment.” 

There is large sub-component of our society that is seemingly more invested in an abstract notion of “freedom” (and unrestricted access to guns, which apparently serves as a symbol for this abstract freedom) than they are in the practical and real freedom of being safe from gun violence.  This abstract notion of “freedom” seems to be getting in the way of more rational approaches to a significant social and political problem.

So what is the bottom line? I’d love to see a political culture in which a bit of world-weary wisdom is viewed as a good quality for leadership—wisdom that regrettably accepts that, sometimes, there is just probably no good answer. And lacking good answers,  maybe we can put our can-do optimism on hold for a while and just wait.  I’d love to see an America that sees freedom as our incredible, distinctive luxury and legacy, but doesn’t offer it or force it on others as some social cure-all. 

This fetish for freedom may great for us, but we’re a very privileged nation.  We were founded by people who viewed religious liberty as something worth fighting (or at least travelling long distances) for.  For us it is quite prominent on our hierarchy of needs; but for others, economic opportunity, social stability or personal safety might be placed higher. When someone starts thinking so much about something that it consistently gets in the way of clear thinking and healthy decision- making, it can be regarded as a fetish (potentially, anyway).

Mercurious has made a fetish of Scarlett Johansson; America has made a fetish of freedom.   Freedom is great, but it won’t solve all problems—especially those problems for which there is no solution.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Inside the Geezer Studio, Part II, with a Special Guest Appearance

James Lipton:  "Good evening. I'm James Lipton, and this, once again, is Inside the Geezer Cave. Tonight, Part II of our four part series. "

(Audience applause, while Lipton nods and applies lip balm.)

Lipton: "In tonight’s episode, we turn our attention to the Geezer known as Dr. Golf, perhaps the least vocal of the Geezers in print, but arguably the most influential Geezer of all. Indeed, since the dawn of mankind, only a few human beings have been as important to the species as Dr. Golf, who by many people is mentioned in the same breath as Tadd Lincoln, Jesus Christ, and Pierre Curie.

Tonight, we’ll have to other Geezers—Mercurious and the Professor— explain the subtle magic of the inimitable Dr. Golf.

"Welcome, America, to Geezer World!

(Lipton shuffles note cards, drops one, but catches it before it hits the stage floor.)

Lipton: "Geezers, I, along with all of America, would like to know how you first met the Dr, Golf and what your first impressions were?"

Mercurious: "I met Golf in junior high—what's now called middle school. I honestly
As a youth, the -2 handicap Dr. Golf carried was less
impressive than you might at first think. 
don't remember first meeting, it's as though we were kind of always aware of one another. But I know there was a kinship, because Golf was the first to procure beer for us in 8th grade, and I think four of us got stinking drunk on a six-pack at his house during a sleepover."

Mathematician: "I too met Golf in 7th grade. He was an inner city kid while Merc and I came from Sunnyside.  Indeed Golf’s grade school was next door to the high school.  He knew the ropes.  He even knew kids in the 8thgrade.  Impressive."

Lipton: "Was your friendship with the good Dr. instant, or did it evolve and ferment, like a good wine?"

Professor:  "I think I understand your colorfully metaphorical question…but they didn’t serve wine in Kindergarten."

Mercurious: "That's how long Golf and Professor have known one another—since kindergarten.  The oldest of the Geezer love affairs, to be sure. As for myself, it seemed that Golf always had the same kind of wicked sense of humor that resonated with me. After 40 some years, it's largely the same kind of friendship now as then."

Lipton: "What was Dr. Golf like growing up? Would we have recognized him?"

Professor: "It takes a special guy to be allowed to pitch in Little League without a father being the coach.  Golf qualifies on that.  It takes a special guy to get the ball across the plate at age ten…alas, no.

Mercurious:  "Picker, grinner, lover sinner. Joker, smoker, midnight toker.  Nope, that's pretty much it. The once and always gangster of love."

Mathematician: "First to procure beer.  First to master billiards. And of course, first to venture onto the fairways.  Golf was ever the Bon Vivant. But also gritty and street smart."

Lipton: "What is the thing you admire most about the Dr. Golf?"

Mercurious: "His sense of style. In clothes, food, entertainment. To a guy like me, who has no style whatsoever, Golf's style of living makes me quite envious. And he dances so well....as my wife constantly points out."

Mathematician: "Oh yeah.  Definitely the dancing.  He learned his moves watching Travolta in SNF and his Angel Flight pants seemed to shimmy even when he was standing still.  He tried to teach me the Hustle once, but alas, I had no rhythm at all."

Professor: "He is a guy with vision and the patience to allow the vision to happen...like Casey Stengel when he managed the Mets."

Lipton: "What do you most detest about him? "

Professor:  "There is no column on an excel spreadsheet for detestment—nor is there an appropriate numeric gauge/measure."

Mercurious: "Professor, you coward. Surely you can think of something, right after you look up the word detestment. Let's see, there's not a whole lot to dislike about good fellow Golf. Every so often, his fondness for traditional capitalism grates against my socialist leanings, but that's rare, and not very pronounced even then. And it's quite likely that my commie ways rub him the same way. "

Mathematician: " When he drives us in his Jaguar XJ to his private country club, I suppose it would be easy to move from jealousy to dislike.  But Golf is just so damn gregarious that jealousy evaporates pretty quickly. Although I do hate it when he uses mind control on the dice when we play Monopoly. That’s annoying.  Especially for someone like me who believe in statistics.  The laws of odds should apply to him too." 

Liption: "If Dr. Golf were a well-known artist, who would it be?"

Professor:  "Maybe the abstract painter Mark Rothko…no one knows exactly what he’s doing, but he seems to make good money at it."

Mathematician: "Definitely an artist at the center of the social scene.  Andy Warhol maybe."

Mercurious: "He strikes me a little like a Frank Lloyd Wright. He'd be a famous architect, I think. And a popular artist, making the social scene. No laboring in obscurity for Golf." 

Lipton: "What is the single thing you'd like to say to Dr. Golf that you've never uttered?" 

Professor:  "Match Point!"

Mercurious:  "Some day I'll burt out 'Lemme drive the Jag!"

A tale of two sets of wheels: Now....
Mathematician: "Do you think we should ask her to cover up?"

And then. 
Lipton: "If you were on a desert island, or incarcerated in the same cell with Dr. Golf, how long do you think it would take before genuine man-love became a reality?

Mathematician: "The night in the North Woods with the Cheez Whiz makes me doubtful anything meaningful could ever evolve."

Professor:“Genuine man-love”  would require genuine men."

Mercurious: "I can't do any better than that quip—Professor, you're spot on today. For me, it would depend on if Golf's views on BDSM have changed. The early experiment wasn't very successful."

Lipton: "What is the thing you know about Dr. golf that he would most like you to keep secret?"

Mathematician: "That he stores too many bottles upright, risking the cork.  It happens when his collection outgrows his cellar."

Professor: "I know the number of miles he’s logged on his car— the TOP of his car."

Mercurious: "These days, he keeps his fondness for White Castle sliders a secret from his country club friends, I think. They imagine him to be a bastion of all-around good taste. Little do they know his capacity for slumming." 

Lipton: "It's well known that our subject is something of an expert on the finer consumables of life, to an extent that rivals the Mathematician. If Dr. Golf were a flavor of food or drink, what would he be?"

Professor:  "Rob Roy, of course…High quality Scotch with just a touch of something sweet and Mediterranean to keep it from becoming pretentious."

Mathematician: "Actually Professor, cocktails are not really emblematic of Golf.  He is more into the intensity of the straight up drink.  Previously Kettle One Vodka, then the Macallan 12 year, and now Casa Noble Anejo Tequila. Unadulterated good taste.  Just like Bond.  James Bond."

Mercurious: "You have to have some food with your drink. I see him as grilled lobster served with butter-sauteed mushrooms."

Lipton: "If Golf were an illness or disease, what would it be?"

Professor:  "Slightly elevated blood pressure: you should pay attention but not worry too much."

Mercurious: "What do they call that thing in the ED commercials, the four-hour erection thing.....?

Mathematician: "Pirapism?  Yeah probably that.  But not drug induced.  Natural.  Like that other emblematic super-spy hero of his, Rod Damone."

Lipton: "If Golf was a common weed, what kind of weed would he be?"

Professor: "Is hemp still a weed?"

Mathematician: "Yes hemp. But not a common variety.  Never common.  Maybe Candy Jack? Or Amnesia?"

Mercurious: "Bent grass. It migrated from golf courses and is taking over ordinary lawns."

Lipton: "If Golf were a bird, what would he be?"

Professor:  Oriole or Hummingbird—he’s been known to exist for months on just liquids.

Mercurious:  "Oh Professor, you're truly on today, but I must differ. I peg Golf as a tit-mouse for sure. 

Mathematician: " Wild Turkey. Not for the poorly done whiskey. But out of respect for Ben Franklin.  Golf likes to collect his portraits."

Lipton: "And If Dr. Golf were a soft drink, what would he be?" 

Professor:  "Dr. Pepper…you just can’t figure out exactly what’s in there."

Mercurious: "It's only semi-soft, but I'd say Long-Island Ice Tea." Or if the liquor ban is fully in effect, an Arnie Palmer.

Mathematician: "Golf’s outgrown both soft and semi-soft I think.  Soft drink for him is a Nuevo Beaujolais ."

Lipton: "What is Dr. Golf’s favorite curse word?"

Mathematician: "Goddamn JD!! Whatever that means."

Mercurious:  "It's usually just the f-bomb, sometimes drawn out with a heavy accent at the end of the word."

Professor:  “April 15th

Lipton: "Assuming there is a God, when meeting him at the pearly gates, what would God say to Dr. Golf as he arrives?

Professor: In a deep, well-modulated voice, the Maker would say, "Let me show you how to deal with that slice.”

Mercurious:  "He'd say, 'Golf, the free-market economy really doesn't work the way you think, as it depends on the virtue and honesty of men, which certainly cannot be assumed...."

Mathematician: "Hey Lipton, you smarmy little prick, are you kidding with that question? Pearly gates indeed."

Lipton: That's all for tonight's episode of Inside the Geezer's Studio. Any comments or questions from our studio audience?

Scarlett Johanson (from the first row): "Before you leave, James, I feel that I must add: From personal experience I can verify that Dr. Golf is twice the man that Mercurious is, thrice the man that the Mathematician is, and at least 10 times the man that the Professor is. Mind you, I'm speaking skill level, not measurables. That would be a different discussion altogether. 

Dr. Golf: "Why, thanks Scarlett. You really didn't need to state the obvious, but it was so kind of you to do so."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Mercurial Rant

"Torture, you say?  I don' know nothin' 'bout no torture."
Disclaimer: this essay represents the hot-headed views of Mercurious alone, and should not be construed to speak for the other Geezers, who are reasonable men, each and every one.

I came of age in the Vietnam War era, so you'd expect me to have a bit of cynicism regarding the motivations of our government. I'm a slightly cynical guy by nature, and the late 60s would certainly help solidify that character trait for a young man. I remember having pretty bitter arguments with my dad, a navy veteran, on our foreign policy during that era, over whether our government was lying to us or not. In the end, though, Dad started wearing POW bracelets in honor of captured pilots who became political pawns.

But for all of that, as a young adult I maintained a firm belief that American stood for certain ideals—I believed that, despite the befuddlement of Johnson and the bat-shit paranoia of a guy like Nixon, America as whole genuinely stood for (and practiced) the defense of human rights and genuinely wanted to ensure that everybody around the world could pursue happiness. That cup of purple Kool-aid I had happily consumed. And frankly, my overall dovishness made plenty of room for wielding a big  military stick when you were coming to the rescue of somebody little being bullied. That, for me, was really the only reason to swing that stick.

The first gulf war, pursued by the first George Bush, was something of a shock to me, because here for the first time, our government openly ridiculed that human rights ideal espoused by Carter and others and said it openly: we're at war with Iraq because we have certain economic interests in the region—specifically the open trade of petroleum.  Perhaps I'd been naive up to that point, but it seemed me like something of a turning point at which America began to wean itself away from its principles. Or maybe just the point where it started to be honest with its reasons for wielding the stick.

Still, I expected better from our government, and there were enough times when the old ideals seemed to hold true. There were moments during the Carter, Reagan, and Clinton administrations where it seemed, indeed, that we had ideals and were champions of worldwide human rights—times when it seemed like we chose our foreign policy with human dignity, rather the economic or political benefit, as the prime motivation.

Bush II  was of course a plummet back to the Nixonian dark ages, a time when torture by water-boarding was a legitimate thing to discuss.  But then came the dawn of the Obama administration, for which I had high, high hopes indeed. Obama talked the talk like nobody since Clinton, and seemed almost as eloquent as Kennedy. He seemed to believe in the ideal, both domestically and in international foreign policy.

Fast forward 6 years. Obama is no Clinton. And one can only wonder how Obama would have handled the Cuban missile crisis.

Today's newspapers report that an archive of 55,000 photos emerging from the secret jails of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, documenting in horrifying color the physical torture leading to the death of 11,000 Syrian citizens. It is stuff that would have a perfect place in a special exhibit at a museum chronicling Nazi atrocities. Like the Nazis, the Syrian government was apparently obsessed with documenting their evil.

And yet the analysts are saying, horrifying though it all is, that this will have no impact at all on Obama's foreign policy regarding Syria, since he is now heavily invested politically in the current deal to get chemical weapons turned over and the civil war "ended." A negotiated ending, mind you, that will have Assad still in power, even while it will create talk about Nobel prizes.

What can you say about a liberal President who cannot see his way clear to forcefully and courageously, without fear of political consequences, oppose the continued reign of monster like Syrian president Assad, but instead bends to whatever seems most politically acceptable at the moment?

"Sleep pretty darling, do not cry....and I will sing a lullabyeeee" 
Now, I'm well aware that blind support of rebel factions seeking to overthrow a dictator is a tricky business, and that it often lead to even worse situations a few years later. It probably would not have been wise to airdrop thousands of stinger missiles into the hands of Syrian rebels. And our history of on-the-ground assistance hasn't been great in recent years. We frankly don't really have the stomach to get bloody anymore, even when the cause is just, as it is in this case. And when deposing a tyrant, there's the awkward reality of having to stick around and help the survivors put together something looking like a nation again. The "you broke it, you bought it"  rule of foreign policy.

So I understand why we don't want to do any of those things. It's not easy, after all, it's hard; and as a nation we no longer like to do hard.

But if America's idea of negotiated peace,  it's version of foreign policy success,  is a Syria with Bashar al-Assad still in power....we should ask ourselves what is it, exactly, that we do stand for?

Damned if I know.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Inside the Geezer Studio , part 1

James Lipton:  "Good evening. I'm James Lipton, and this is Inside the Geezer Studio."

(Audience applause, while Lipton nods and smacks his lips with self satisfaction)

Lipton: "In the space of only a year now, Old Geezers Out to Lunch has entirely revolutionized the digital blog world. More than 2 billion people across the globe visit Geezers daily, hoping for new wisdom, and there is, literally, no city, town, village or hovel on earth where an on-line visitor does not log on at least once each minute. The American Medical Association has established a new category of addictive disease classification for on-line readers who are obsessed with Geezers, and Pew research organization now has a dedicated staff that does nothing but read Geezers for insight as to what is really true in the world.

"But just who are these mysterious Geezers, the middle aged fellows who have become the internet's—no, mankind's— most influential human beings? Who, indeed...

"Tonight, you will begin learning exactly that....in the words of those who know the Geezers best. This series will use a different interview technique, in which we'll speak not to the Geezer being examined, but the three other Geezers. We will, therefore, present you with a series of four programs, each one examining a single Geezer through the eyes of the other three.

"Welcome, America, to Geezer Reality!"

(Lipton shuffles note cards as audience applause and adulation fades.)

"We welcome to our stage tonight Mercurious, Dr. Golf, and the Professor. Tonight's subject, obviously, is that Geezer known as.....the Mathematician!"

Lipton: "Geezers, I, along with all of America, would like to know how you first met the Mathematician, and what your first impressions were?"
Um, no. That's not the Mathematician. 

Professor: "The Mathematician is quite a singer…he was the guy who LOOKED like he could hit a low D-flat….I was the guy who actually COULD hit a low D-flat."

Mercurious: "It was a little earlier for me, in fifth or sixth grade when I met Math, which would have made us 11 or 12 years old,  I guess. Math had transferred from another town to our class. He was a bit on the nerdy side, but his impressive intellect was evident even then."

Lipton: "Was your friendship—some might say bromance—instant, or did it evolve?"

Professor:  "'Evolving' isn’t precise enough as a term…he’s like the ocean: always changing and always the same…"
And no, that's not Math, either, although he did
look kind of smart in a similar way. 

Mercurious: "It took a little while to become fast friends back in elementary school, for we weren't used to having another challenging intellect in our midst. So there was a bit of envy at what was clearly a rival in the brain department. At our elementary school, he quickly became evident as one of the top two or three intellects. Though that's mostly a testament to how frickin' stupid our school was. "

Lipton: "What was the Mathematician like growing up?"

Mercurious: "Big, and brittle. It seemed like Math was breaking another bone—a finger, or wrist or collarbone—every other week on the playground."

Professor:   "Has he grown up?  When did that happen?"

Lipton: "What is the thing you admire most about the Mathematician?"

Mercurious: "Probably his culinary skill. That and his clear devotion to family and friends, which is notable and Herculean. Also, I admire his beard. He grew it first at age 7, and although it went fully white by age 10, it remains a model of dignified whisker display. "

Professor:  "Hey, I’m a theatre guy…anyone who can add two plus two (and come up with the correct answer, I might add) is impressive."

Lipton: "What do you most detest about him?"

Mercurious: "Good God, where do we start?"

Professor: "In the popular board game of Risk, which the Geezers play obsessively, the Mathematician has a fondness for the Southeastern strategy which—while being understandable, is irritating.  Detest might be too strong, though."

Lipton: "If the four of you were to be a rock band, who would it be?"

Mercurious: "Probably the Traveling Wilburys. Old coots with a fair amount of talent who get along pretty well and seem to have set ego aside. Except for the fact that we're all alive, and half of the Wilburys are dead."
If the Geezers were the Beatles....

Professor: "Well, there’s only one real contender when you talk about 4-person rock bands.  The mathematician has the soul of a bass player, but he is cute neither while shaking his head back and forth (ala McCartney) or standing still (which he does well when inspired."

Lipton: "What is the single thing you'd like to say to the Mathematician that you've never uttered?"

Professor: “I'd point out that he's not the only one who can do calculations…I know darned well that 2 plus two equals five…it’s just not that hard to do that kind of thing."

Mercurious: "I'd confess that long, long ago, I once dreamed about having hot monkey sex with one of his sisters. And it's not the one most people would expect."

Lipton: "If you were on a desert island, or incarcerated in the same cell with the Mathematician, how long do you think it would take before genuine man-love became a reality?"
No problem. Dr. Golf always had the
hots for Mrs. Howell, anyway. 

Professor: "On a desert island there would be Mary Anne, so he wouldn’t have a chance…Being a pal (I emphasize PAL!) I’d let him approach Ginger and see how she would respond.  Hard to say with prison, but he looks terrible in orange, and horizontal stripes don’t help either.

Mercurious: "Professor, are you seriously pretending to have forgotten? That question has already been answered for all of us. Back in 1976."

Lipton: "What is the thing you know about the Mathematician that he would most like you to keep secret?"

Mercurious: "Sorry, Lipton, but not even I will stoop that low. The Mathematician knows what it is, though, and how much he needs to pay me for continued silence."

Professor: "I’m thinking about that secret right now, and it’s a doozey, that’s for sure.

Lipton: "If the Mathematician were a flavor of food or drink, what would he be?"

Mercurious: "Mushrooms stuffed with some kind of delicious shrimp."

Professor:  "A Smith and Kerns cocktail: sweetness of crème de cacao, the slight density and smoothness of cream, and the liveliness of sparkling water."

Lipton: "If the Mathematician were a psychiatric diagnosis, what would it be?"

Mercurious: "That's easy: OCD. With a side order of gender confusion, because of growing up with all that estrogen floating around his house. "

Professor: "As I like to say about my dear spouse: “They talk about passive-aggressive, she’s aggressive-aggressive.  The mathematician isn’t any kind of aggressive at all. 

Lipton: "If the Mathematician were a tree, what kind of tree would he be?"

Mercurious: "A big Christmas tree completely laden with lots of family-related ornaments."

Professor: "Maple tree…you’re tempted to think he can be sappy at times, but at the end of the day, he’s just plain sweet."

Lipton: "If the Mathematician were a wild creature, what would he be?"

Professor:  "IF he were a wild creature? IF??"

Mercurious: "He's a shelled creature from the Galapagos islands. Wise, impervious to pain and insults, and oh, so methodical."

Lipton: "If the Mathematician were a liquor, what would he be?"

Mercurious: "He'd like me to say Stagg bourbon or something lofty like that. But I say Creme de Menthe."

Professor: "Have to give him his preference of Bourbon…He used to be corny, but time has mellowed him into a real treat." 

Lipton: "What is the Mathematician's favorite curse word?"

Professor: "As followers of the site might guess: “Religion.”

Mercurious: "He was the first I heard coin this, and I'm sure he'd not like to admit it:  "Jesus, F-#$$@#  Christ."
"Well, Mathematician, you DO have
some 'splainin' to do, my man!"

Lipton: "Assuming there is a God, when meeting him at the pearly gates, what would God say to the Mathematician as he arrives?"

Professor: "'I’ve been looking forward to meeting you a lot more than you’ve been looking forward to meeting me.'"

Mercurious:  "No, I think it will be the Old Testament guy who greets Math. 'Begone, infidel!'"

Lipton: "Dr. Golf, your silence is both intriguing and annoying, I must say, though your facial expressions indicate plenty of inner commentary occurring while the Professor and Mercurious participated so fully. Anything you'd like to add, though, at the conclusion?"

Dr. Golf:  "_______ "

Lipton: "All right then, perhaps at the next installment of Inside the Geezer Studio, we'll examine you through the eyes of your fellow Geezers. Until then....

"This has been Inside the Geezer Studio, with me, James Lipton."