Incredible Beauty of the Bicycle Card Aesthetic

I was never a great skill card player growing up. I was quite excellent at War, and at 52 Pick-Up, but other than that, my mastery in card games was more in my mind than in my hand. I never played a dime or a nickel flush where I won any type of pot, but I always enjoyed holding the actual playing cards. The designs were a fascination to my young mind, and today, when I happened upon the Bicycle cards website, I was taken back to a time when a deck of cards lasted for years of regular use around the kitchen table with nickel raises and dime bets; but these cards, these new Bicycle cards, had a right life of their own. The opaque card box was gone; replaced by a lovely translucent plastic that was more welcoming to both hand, and eye.

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Ghosts of The Haunted Mansion Teach Good Phone Manners

Text messaging has really gotten completely out of hand. It is now quite commonplace to see people reading and responding to text messages in the most unusual circumstances and unacceptable manners. Rather than taking the time to talk with the people with whom they actually are physically, they continue to stay glued to their phones. The worst example of this happened recently when my wife, baby, and I were visiting Disneyland.

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Graves for the Living; Lives for the Dead

Have you met a person who has given up on life and is just marking time until their death? They are joyless, without light and come across as bumps of flesh and bone.
I’m not talking about the sick or the elderly. I’m talking about the ordinary person who just walks through life with no hope except that it will all end soon.

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Believing in the Dead

Do you believe in the Dead? Or do you believe the Dead crumble into dust? I’m not talking about the Grateful Dead, I’m talking about what you are when you are no longer living. A deeply religious friend of mine believes there is a “thin veil” between the living and the Dead and you can communicate with those who have passed if you are sensitive enough and aware enough to either peer through the veil or strong enough to fold back a corner of the veil for a clear angle to touch.

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Ghosts of a Summer Evening

by Joseph Baldwin

He stepped out into the warm, caressing
night, and smiles, remembering music
and slim girls in bright flimsy dresses,
smiling, sweat gleaming on their foreheads.
And then came near fainting with dismay.
It was a judgment on his life,
he feared, that such a night, beloved
of his youth, should now distress him.

Warm, warm, they had been, eight hundred
miles away and fifty years
ago! And careless of all but love songs,
blooming youthful bodies, and hope.

Fans placed here and there gave breaths
of cooling; moments were enough,
then back to the giddy heat and swirl
of dance; linkings raised hopes higher.

Hopes of what? Life to be grasped.
Each other, grasped. Promises;
only implied, but promises,
for all of that; in touch, in glance.

Promises of bright futures;
financially bright, of course; but also
immediate promise given unspoken,
then taken back, as soon as given.

The embrace frankly sexual;
but, by tacit agreement, not that
at all, only social custom,
though shared sweat drenched clothes of each.

And weren’t mothers looking on,
while scantily-clothed daughters clung
to lanky swains, to see that all
was decent, stayed within control?

Years later, why dismay? Distress?
Ah, yes. The memory of shame,
at being an imposter there.
Imposter? Yes. But, in what sense?

Why, simply that all such affairs,
cotillions, balls, “formals,” where
the bright of eye and light of foot
displayed themselves (discreetly and

by custom, but nonetheless displayed
themselves as “eligible”) had ever
been a showing of wares. And also
that one knew it was understood

accepting such hospitality
and exchanging embraces in the formal
figures of the dance meant one
shared in this eligibility,

having “something to offer,” and wasn’t
poor then, nor poor in prospects. Ah, yes:
the cruelty of the social system,
offering such delights, but only

at a price! Better not
to have come at all, as if disguised
as one of them and able, like them,
to repay the piper for the tune.

Hence, the shameful distress. In spite
of knowledge that the sweating girls
of long ago in long bright dresses
were now grandmothers; that, or dead;

and that the dance, the glitter and romance,
was all a form of commerce; dismay
persisted. The shame of being poor,
of having been poor, lasts all one’s life.

Also, the shame of having been
a pretender lasts. But, O! the glowing
girls, the music, and the dance!
Enchantment, then its own excuse.