Different Slants

Seeing the World from a New Angle

My War with the Squirrel Gang Continues..by Robert M. Katzman

So in my ongoing War with the Squirrels up here in the hinterland, or North Woods–or, oh…I don’t know where the hell I am anymore–I decided to take decisive action against the birdseed stealing bastards with grey furry tails.  Problem is, they’re organized.

They have this practiced pose where they sit on their haunches and hold their little grasping clawed paws together, so people will assume they’re eating something they’ve stolen. But really, they have advanced communicative implants in their paws so all squirrels know where either food or danger is at all times. The Twitchy Nose Mafia, everywhere and hidden at the same time.

This is hard for a bird-lover (without a shotgun) to overcome. I know, we have bigger brains, but no claws so we can’t scramble up trees after them, and no wings so we can swoop down on ’em, and so on. But…

(Read on …)

A “Chocolate Phosphate”, or what my Mother told me in the Fifties…by Robert M. Katzman

When I was very young on the South Side of Chicago, my Mother, a daughter of immigrants from the Jewish Pale area of Eastern Europe where Jews were forced to live by the Czar, was addicted to this drink called a “chocolate phosphate”.

She ordered this delicacy in Jewish restaurants which was essentially ice cubes, chocolate syrup and carbonated seltzer water. The basic point, she explained to me, was to make her “greptz” or belch after a heavy meal.

Decades later when I began going to New York City in 1980 for book conventions, I naturally assumed this common Chicago beverage would be available anywhere in a city with the largest Jewish population in America. But no one heard of it, didn’t know what I was asking for and quickly conveyed the impatience and rudeness that NYC was also famous for.  (Read on …)

America, Please, Don’t Do This!…by Robert M. Katzman

America, Please, Don’t Do this!

By Robert M. Katzman © July I, 2018 (Canada Day)

Eyes flicker open in the darkness. I hear the battery wall clock ticking, so I must still be living. Pale morning light is peeking past the loose drawn shades covering some of this small house’s dozen large windows. If this were a fort, no way to defend it. But on a sunny morning, cool wind outside, shades up and windows open a bit on four sides, I don’t need electricity to clear the stale air or illuminate my house.

Wearing my usual long black T-shirt with the screaming American Eagle on it, the one that stops near my knees so I always appear modestly dressed to a morning visitor, expected or not, except for the fact that its only about five ounces of opaque cotton, I decide to do my morning routine, parts of which I’m recording here for future anthropologists. Present day people may be less entranced.
(Read on …)

Wildflower Diary-2..by Robert M. Katzman

Wildflower Diary (2)

by Robert M. Katzman © June 23, 2018

 Short essays, reflections & captured moments about prairies, plants, food and people worth writing about, at various times:

 July 30, 2017

My original essay, posted separately:

Wildflower Diary: Caring For Joy’s Garden”

https://www.differentslants.com/?p=3550

 March 6, 2018

 Ok, this is my grandfather, South Side Jacob the Carpenter’s quick recipe for tiny seasoned red potatoes with cheddar cheese. He was from Byelorussia, born in 1882, so ya gotta take that into consideration. He used unusual tools to achieve his aims.

Here it is:
So, you roast the red potatoes on a metal tray for about 4 minutes in an oven, broiling them at 450. Then take them out, go look in your closet for a steel hammer with good balance to it. Wash off the serious part of the hammer, then beat the hell out of them little potatoes (with the skin still on) until they are totally defeated. Kinda like what happened at the 1968 Democratic Convention. But, I digress.

(Read on …)

Vicki, the Tattooed Armenian Motorcycle Chick…Needs a Break…by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © June 3, 2018

Recently, a year after my wife died, I decided to get “back on the horse,” a mysterious phrase some older people say and see if I could find a new relationship online. Like I had a clue what I was doing. But after a few weeks of zero responses, late one night I got this letter from Vicky with a picture of petite her astride a very large motorcycle, saying she’d like to meet me, and against all the rules I read online that are supposed to protect women from dangerous men, she included her phone number. I waited until morning and decided to call her.

We talked for a while and it was clear very quickly from her story that while we weren’t a good match in many ways beside the motorcycle. Vicki’s life was in shambles and I got this idea that perhaps I could possibly help her by writing about her life. I’ve been so absorbed by my own loneliness and misery that it never occurred to me that I might be helpful to another person worse off than I am. In Jewish culture, this is called a “mitzvah” or a good deed. It is up to each person to decide whether to choose to help, or not. I decided to call and meet with her and see what Vicki thought about this idea, if she was comfortable meeting with me.

(Read on …)

Marooned in Illinois with 400 Copies of My New Book “A Savage Heart” by Robert M. Katzman

by Robert M. Katzman © April 9, 2018

I first posted this beginning part on Facebook on April 3, 2018. But what I wished and hoped for isn’t what happened. Read the older part first and my story will begin after that:

Ok, this is a little eerie. Well, everything I write about probably seems a little eerie. A little over a year ago, I bought a 1993 suburban car/van because it was big enough to carry my wife’s wheelchair, walker and other things she needed to go visit our children and our friends.

What once was a casual get-up-and-go on impulse to do something, morphed into a production of trying to get her out of the house, down the three steps and then into the van by putting a step down for her to use to move up. This woman was a gymnast at Thornton High School in 1967.

Whenever I became exasperated by having so much to do, I imagined what an insult this progressive decline of her body had become to her, and I kept quiet. We were in the last act of a tragedy, and we both knew it.

(Read on …)

Next Page »