Gimme Five: The Bumbastories May Magazine (Semi-Annual Edition)

The Bumbastories Semi-Annual May Magazine

Welcome to the merry month of May! Happy Spring! Yes, these are the happy months, the months of spring, the images-4months of growth, of blossoms, and new beginnings. Here in Los Angeles,we are finally reconciling ourselves to the fact that spring has arrived. We didn’t ever get a winter this year, that’s to say it never rained barely. So, I ask you, how can you have spring if you didn’t have winter yet? Huh? Nevertheless, time marches on whether we like it or not. …..And speaking of marches, why don’t you ever hear of someone calling their son or daughter March? How about February as a first name? It just doesn’t happen. With almost no exceptions (except for a woman I once went out with in Brooklyn whose name was October Moskowitz) the months we use for names, the ones we apparently like to hear – and it’s a girl thing – are….that’s right, the spring months: April, May and June. What lovely names they be! The three nymphs/graces spring come to mind. Ah, spring is in the air! (And don’t say, like Groucho Marx in Horsefeathers, “I wish you’d spring in the air and jump in the lake”)

May I say a few more words about the word may? May I?

Firstly, May-I is the name of a card game, a ten-card rummy game played with two decks of cards. My parents used to play May-I all the time with their good friends Irwin and Eva. They were always in the kitchen playing that game. Periodically someone would say “May I?”, as you needed to say May I? in order to pick a card. That’s why they call the game May-I! I learned to play May-I too, just by osmosis. I was a teen-ager by that time, so I guess I served some purpose after all during the teen years. Sometimes I would fill in for a hand or two. For some reason they just delighted in that game. However, the other card game, the real game, that we played in our house was cribbage – which my father had learned in the Navy. When it comes to card games, cribbage, in my humble opinion, is a peg or two above the others!

May I continue? May I? Because, if I recall correctly, “May I?” was a key phrase in the classic children’s game of “Red Light, Green Light”. I must confess that even as a kid I thought “Red Light Green Light” was a stupid game.

Now, the name May, a variation on Maria, is a very pretty one, and pops up like, well, May flowers wherever you look. There’s the great Mae West.images Hurray for Mae West, who said “Is that a pickle in yer pocket, or are yer glad ta see me?” And then there’s the writer and comedienne Elaine May, the psychologist Rollo May, and Cape May North Carolina. There’s May Britt, Mai Zetterling, Seven Days in May, and images-1Chuck Berry’s Maybelline. “Oh Maybelline, why can’t cha be true?” Not to mention, the may fly, mayhem, and the May Pole ceremonies (which I never understood, but mention just for good measure)

Then there’s the Pilgrims’ ship the Mayflower, Mayflower Day, and May 1, May Day, (Workers of the World Unite!). And then of course, there’s Willie Mays, the Say Hey Kid. images

There’s the five pointed star, the Pentagon, images-2gimme five, 5 card stud, images-1the circle of fifths in music, the fifth in the bottle, and Five Corners in the Bronx. And don’t forget, that Cinqo de Mayo is the fifth day of the fifth month, so, while we’re at it, let’s raise a glass to Cinqo de Mayo. 

May, being the fifth month leads us to another discussion of the number five. I’ve already talked about the number five a number of times. See the Numbers Game Category. Five is the most interesting and intriguing of the numbers – at least to me. Its symmetry is the most subtle. It is the framework, the nuts and bolts, of the DNA molecule. The five underlies the Golden Proportion, our sense of beauty. We can’t helimages-1p but like five-fold symmetry. It’s in our genes.

So here’s to the number 5! Hopefully (we have all of our five fingers crossed here at Bumbastories) Marina Kanavaki will design us some new 5-based designs for the month of May.

Musical interlude: A song that uses the word five: Five Hundred Miles to be exact. Maybank and Bumba finished a fifth of it (well, we sure were finished after that fifth) to get through this sappy, but popular folk classic. Sing along if you must.

Hey it’s May! Gimme Five!images


Rare Recording Unearthed

imagesIn its relentless search for a scoop, the Bumbastories investigative team has unearthed a rare 78 rpm recording of the House of the Rising Sun performed by Wild Willie, a piano player from Wisconsin. Experts believe the recording was made “sometime in the 20th century”. Interestingly, Willie plays House of the Rising Sun in major key – as does the great Doc Watson. The song is most often heard in minor key. The Bumbastories staff believes it’s a beautiful song either way

Note: for additional information on The House of the Rising Sun song, please see the House of the Rising Sun Compendium that’s located in the Original Music and Songs Category on your left if you’re in the northern hemisphere.

Bumbastories Annual Mid-April Socio-Political Report

As Bernie Sanders continues to gain momentum – that’s momentum, not delegates – I looked back to find a Bumbastories’ Breaking News report of May 2015 where this proud magazine purportedly “scooped” the story of Bernie Sanders” public announcement that he was running for president. Interesting to see how far things have progressed. There was also a little political commentary inspired by Kurt Vonnegut, and also a Sports report about the Clippers in that magazine that still ring true. Hey, the NBA playoffs have started! Go Clippers!

What follows is a compost, er re-post



Bumbastories News Updates…… Sanders Announces!

Bernie Sanders, independent senator from the proud state of Vermont, a relentless progressive who seems to have some balls as well as brains, is going to seek the Democratic Party Nomination for the office of President of the United States. Bernie is running for president, taking on Hillary, who currently looks a bit shaky. Immediately we say that poor ol’ Bernie has no chance. Why?? Ross Perot was a viable third-party candidate and influenced the debate on the deficit. Jimmy Carter was not a household name at first. What if people (that’s us, campers) suddenly showed strong support for Bernie? What if progressive Democrats and other progressives, as well as people who simply seek a truthful representative, what if they made their presence felt?  What if they organized and supported Sen. Sanders if only to have a voice and to establish a counterweight to the present oligarchy? OK, that’s enough politics for a while. how about Up a Lazy River, played by Maybank and Bumba the other day?


**************************************** Worried: Watch Out: More Political Commentary Kurt Vonnegut, in his Preface to Breakfast of Champions offers a comical (dark, but comical), nutshell version of American history. He talks of the white pirate-marauders who got off their ships and subjugated the red people (the red people were defeated because they repeatedly underestimated the marauders’ capacity for cruelty). The white marauders then then brought over black people as slaves to work the fields for them. Kurt then goes on to analyze the absurdity of the national anthem. He concludes his summary of American history: “It was always about race”. Politics all comes down to economics, economics comes down to education and privilege, and it all comes back to race. The latest offenses in Baltimore join a long, long string of brutalities against Blacks. Perhaps video cameras will help. Transparency (or honesty as they used to call it) in government is always good, and it’s interesting to see who opposes disclosure of information. The fight for truth and justice goes on. Personally, we at Bumbastories are worried. We sung the Worried Man Blues yesterday. Click to hear.

Oh, it’s cryin’ time again, you’re gonna leave me, I can see that far away look in your eyes, I can tell by the way you hold me, darling, That it won’t be long before it’s cryin’ time, Now they say that absence Makes the heart grow fonder, And that tears are only rain to make love grow, Well my love for you could never grow no stronger, If I live to be a hundred years old, So, it’s cryin’ time again, you’re gonna leave me, I can see that far away look in your eyes, I can tell by the way you hold me, darling, That it won’t be long before it’s cryin’ time, Now you say that you’ve found someone you love better, That’s the way it’s happened every time before, And as sure as the sun comes up tomorrow, Cryin’ time will start when you walk out the door, Oh, it’s cryin’ time again, your gonna leave me, I can see that far away look in your eyes, I can tell by the way you hold me, darling, That it won’t be long before it’s cryin’ time. ************************************ Sports Update: OK, Clippers fans. It all comes down to one game tomorrow night at Staples Center. Game 7 against the reigning NBA champion San Antonio Spurs. All the games have been great. The playoffs (the first round) have been entertaining so far. And the Clippers-Spurs series has been the marque match-up, and the best one. Both teams are great. images-2 images images-1 As a Clippers fan for 25 years already, the taste success is sweet. Can the Clips move on to the next level? May the best team win. **********************************

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Shown on a recent visit to the Big Apple, Bumbas is a strict vegetarian who enjoys bananas and appreciates a quiet walk in the jungle. Bumba has written two literary novels and has recently completed two CD soundtrack albums to accompany them. Check it out at


  1. I’d like to vote for Bernie Sanders, Bumba. I’ve been following him off and on for some years. I think the rest of the world should have a say in who becomes US president, don’t you – since US policy affects so much of the world. So lets hear it for Bernie. Yay!

    1. That’s true about the entire world being caught up in American politics. The way this run will play out will be interesting. On the other hand, I don’t see why the entire world needs to be subjected to watching the Republican candidates campaign! The media shows no mercy. Yay for Bernie!

  2. A great round-up collection Bumba and exciting times ahead. Imagine living so long and having to decide, in a new century, between a Bush and a Clinton . . . On another note I have to tell you how excited I was to be in Bakersfield a few months ago. Sadly it was not long enough but long enough to feel like a stranger in town!

  3. I am for Bernie. He is the one person in Congress who seems to have, as you say, brains and brass. Unfortunately, I don’t have much confidence in either for the voting public.

    Money, underlies all of our issues. And, when you have a SCOTUS that votes for a handful of billionaires to buy our elections, what hope do any of the remaining issues have?

    1. SCOTUS I had to look it up. Sounds like a medical illness. Well, it’s the Supreme Court. Yes, these days are not without their tragedies. Yes, the control by those people and entities with money is nearly total. But the power always resides with the people. And (as I say in my book The Phantom Speaks, and it has a cute illustration of a baseball player swinging a bat) “at least they can go down swinging”. Keep swinging.

  4. a progressive politician, I never thought I would see the day, that just leaves convincing the great unwashed to actually support change get get undisallusioned (it’s a word and i will make it’s new Wikipedia entry later I promise). Could such a thing be possible…

  5. I think Bernie Sanders is a breath of fresh air. Interestingly, his brother is running for Parliament in the current British election. If he doesn’t win (and he most likely won’t) I believe he is going to join Bernie’s campaign. Now I was a Hillary supporter in the past and I will support her again but Bernie sticking pins in her can only be a good thing… maybe it will be a Hillary and Bernie ticket! I’m good with that!

  6. Per RMW, I love Bernie but I think Hillary should choose Juan Castro as her running mate, as he ticks all the boxes (young, Latino, progressive, experienced Mayor, I think, from the Southwest to balance her locations, etc.). Just my two centavos.

  7. Already you’re picking a running mate! but for two centavos, it’s OK to speculate. The campaign trail is long, long. Did you see Mike Huckabee’s announcement? Hilarious, but a sad remender of what this campaign is going to look like. Bernie could be a breath of fresh air, or a tank of oxygen.

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The Guardian Angel

  • Mathew, guardian angel for Francisco Martinez, looked down from heaven as Francisco labored over the Friday Sudoko. Mathew was rooting for Francisco to succeed with his puzzle. Whenever Francisco didn’t match up all those numbers on the grid, he would become a bit grumpy and pessimistic – a definite damper in the day of a guardian angel. On the other hand, if Francisco won, Mathew could look forward to a fairly pleasant morning. Sometimes, after solving some puzzle or simply doing some simple household task, Francisco’s good cheer might last up to two hours, sometimes all morning! It was a 50-50 proposition for the guardian angel – whose daily spiritual gratifications, as you can see, on these guardian angel assignments tended toward the meager side.
  • Suddenly, Francisco flipped his mechanical pencil into the air.

“Son of a bitch,” he muttered.

 Francisco then sat pensive for a while.

Mathew peeked down to see that there were two sixes in the same column. So that was it! Francisco remained still for a long time. Who knew what he was thinking? Then Francisco found a sheet of paper and began to write. He wrote about forests he had seen: green forests so rich that the trees blocked out the sky. He recalled the walks he had taken up mountain slopes. The streams, the darkness of the shadow, the clarity and the pleasure of the air. What magnificent forests he had seen! Each different. Francisco was from the Bronx, but somehow – and very luckily for him – he had developed a love, almost a thirst for Nature’s beauty.

“Good,” thought Mathew. “Now maybe he’ll take us to the mountains again. We can both use a vacation.”



St. James Infirmary

Please see below today’s entry for the St. James Infirmary Compendium. Contributions to the Compendium are welcome via the comments. I already have several Compendiums in my WordPress library, the St. James Infirmary Compendium being one of them. If you check out the St. James Infirmary Compendium (which is a subheading under Original Music and Songs), you’ll see a virtual compendium of posts about said subject. That’s why I call it a Compendium. Still, the question remains: “Why do you have so many posts about the same thing?” Well, the thing is Maybank and Bumba like to do this song, and play it nearly every time they get together, and well……because it’s a great song, and ….then… well, when I have nothing else to post…. I put up St. James Infirmary……

By way of some thorough and intensive research (I looked at Wikipedia), I learned that the hospital called St. James Infirmary was in London, and not in New Orleans as I had mistakenly surmised. After all, don’t all those great American folksongs come fromNew Orleans? Apparently not. It turns out London isn’t chopped liver either. images-3In fact London can also lay claim to being the source of the word Asylum, which was an actual hospital or infirmary for the mentally ill and victims of paresis – and which became the generic term for all such lovely domiciles.

The St. James Infirmary is a “wonderfully sad” song. And, as I say, we love to play it. Hence the Compendium.

For the Artist, Merle Haggard

The human compulsion to write, the urge to express onesself, is rooted in two urges that are present in everyone to varying degrees: 1) The child’s urge to seek approval, to be heard: “Hey, listen to me!” “Watch this, Ma!”, or “Let me sing you a song”.

Then there’s 2): the grown person’s desire to unite with the One, the spiritual quest. In creating art, one can feel a bit of the divine. It draws you on.

For most writers and beginners (that should take in most of us) the childish urges dominate. We like to hear ourselves talk. Full spiritual peace and connection is rare. And it seems that most of our creative juices are poured into talking, chatting, gossiping, texting, and whatever else people do pecking at their phones, not to mention good old-fashioned worrying. Nevertheless and all the same, the spiritual end of things keeps calling. It’s one of the better games in town. So go for it. Keep on playin’ that Country Music.

Himages-5ere’s to Merle Haggard, may he rest in peace.

Bumbastories Semi-Annual April Edition

images-4Welcome to the month of April. And as they used to say in merry England back in the 14th century……

When that Aprille with his shoures soote

The droghe of March hath perced to the roote,

And bathed every veyne in swich liccur

Of which vertu has engendered is the flour…….

Welcome to April. The month of showers and sweet promises in merry England, of annual reawakening and renewal of spirit all over the world. Ah, April with its showers sweet. Still, on the other hand, the 20th century sensibilities of T.S. Eliot tell us that April is the cruelest month in all the great Wasteland. Yikes! Are we to believe our poets? Of course not! They’re only poets, not meteorologists. And the meteorologists aren’t batting 1,000 either.IMG_0216

Notwithstanding the snide comments of Mr. Eliot, the month of April conjures in most of us idyllic images of the “so-called” April showers – and, personally, I see showers as a positive thing. That’s why I always try to take at least one shower in April (I do confess to being somewhat lax about my personal hygiene during the rest of the year). Never mind. Happy April! April is the fourth month, so before going any further, and with no further foreplay, let me be forthwith and link to my previous four posts about the four. And don’t ask “What for?” Really there are four! For what? Four posts about the four. I’m hoping we’ll be fortunate and Marina Kanavaki posts a number on the number four for us readers.

I know that April is here because March Madness is over. And, praise the Lord, the baseball season started yesterday. The U.S. taxman has his birthday in April. In May, actually Seven Days in May, the taxman spends April in Paris. April is also a popular woman’s name, a youthful, sexy kind of name. Certainly April has cheerful connotations in Western culture.

In southern California we still haven’t begun spring. And that’s because we still haven’t had a winter yet! Out here in LA we don’t have the same sort of four-seasons-in-a-year cycle enjoyed in the temperate zones. Ours is a more Mediterranean climate. Anywaze and nonetheless, there’s a time of year we call spring in Los Angeles – and spring usually rolls around some time in April – after the winter rains have ceased. This year, though, as I say, we’ve yet to see any serious winter rains. The expected El Niño storms have passed further north. It’s been summer weather most of the “winter”. So, we poor Angelinos are still just waiting. Waiting for some sort of rainfall.

To return to something of good cheer, let me throw in Maybank and Bumba’s last week recording of Del Shannon’s Runaway, a classic, nay iconic, rockn’roller from back in the early 60’s. It’s a happy song with a famed “happy organ”, which in Bumba’s (our) case is a happy harmonica, but with which you can sing along in any case.


On the political front, Bernie Sanders is definitely making a respectable run for the Presidency, which may actually be within his (or Hillary’s) reach given the impending break-up/break-down/brake before you hit the wall of the Republican Party, the GOP. Good riddance to bad rubbish. They deserve Trump. But what did we do to deserve Ted Cruz? Yikes! and Yikes again!


What? Me worry?
What? Me worry?


Don’t worry.