Friday, March 30, 2007
“The natural flights of the human mind are not from pleasure to pleasure, but from hope to hope.”
The Travel Agent of the Human Mind has two package deals.
One, a Pleasure Cruise: all the amenities of home provided by a friendly staff, and, to minimize the risk of displeasure, no actual travel. Yes, it’s a domestic servant service, bringing luxury to your home. Known pleasures, all the time.
Two, the Hope Tour: all the excitement of foreign lands provided by a hostile staff, and, to minimize the risk of tedium, no permanent accommodations. Yes, it’s overseas deployment. Adventure every day, flirtation with death, but the possibility of saving others from themselves and you.
Guess which one is booked solid.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Today, I realized, marks an anniversary of sorts. So far, so good.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
LOVE not me for comely grace,
For my pleasing eye or face,
Nor for any outward part,
No, nor for a constant heart:
For these may fail or turn to ill,
So thou and I shall sever:
Keep, therefore, a true woman's eye,
And love me still but know not why—
So hast thou the same reason still
To doat upon me ever!
Finally. Yesterday Madge had a moment in which she wished she didn’t have a brother, that she was an only child, etc. On the way home from Coco’s school, he wanted to go by the Cat Clinic, where you can see the boarded animals in a window. He saw one and said, “Let’s buy that one. Baci needs a sister.”
I haven’t told Madge yet because she was pro-sibling again after school.
Monday, March 26, 2007
But Julie knows that it’s the other approach that’ll get my attention, as I care more about the novel than about the actors. And, because I do, they seem miscast, at least when measured against the Frank and April Wheeler of my mind.
The book is, well, not the most uplifting. I once made the “mistake” of suggesting it to a book club which I had recently joined, for the simple reason that it is a life-changing book. I neglected to mention that the change isn’t necessarily positive, at least not immediately. The immediate change is to make you cynical and morose at the same time.
Here’s the first sentence. “The final dying sounds of their dress rehearsal left the Laurel Players with nothing to do but stand there, silent and helpless, blinking out over the footlights of an empty auditorium.” In other words, if Shakespeare says all the world’s a stage, Yates says, “Yes. And we’re under-rehearsed amateurs without talent or audience.”
When Julie told me the news, I thought, “How on earth could Hollywood even try to make this into a movie?” But it turns out it’s a BBC production, so there’s hope.
SPOILER AND BAD PUN ALERT
Because Yates doesn’t go for a cliff-hanger ending, he goes for a coat-hanger ending.
(It also shows that he has some sort of working knowlege of agribusiness.)
While I was cleaning (a little, don't get too excited, Julie - I'll save the cat box for you), I ran across this. A few weeks ago some Picasso paintings went missing in Paris. I don't think this was among them, though.
Coco didn’t. In order to convince him, she said, “Coco, it’s from the same producers as ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’”
To which, of course, he said okay.
What the? A) Where does she get this, and B) What did he think she meant?
Maybe it merely shows that the marketing on packages is aimed at 4-yr-olds, but still.
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Of course, they have toy bins, in which you find dismantled discarded McDonald's Happy Meal gimcracks, among other things. Which is why we had this conversation:
Coco (holding thing up to eye): Daddy, what is this?
Me: It's half a binocular, which they're trying to sell you as a telescope.
Coco: Can I have it?
I think if the flea market were actually marketing fleas, that would be a step up.
And no, Julie, I didn't get it for him.
Friday, March 23, 2007
Okay, since I ran out of alphabet, here's a different approach.
My very first blog used Samuel Johnson's first essay, mostly because I figure he was essentially blogging twice a week back then, merely with different technology (and, of course, remuneration). Since he moralizes quite a bit in the essays, I thought I might use him as a starting block or stepping stone or some other metaphor for a mental crutch. Here goes:
No. 1 (Tuesday, 20 March 1750)
“… it is more pleasing to see smoke brightening into flame, than flame sinking into smoke.”
The Smoke and the Flame got stuck, stage right.
Said the Smoke, “No, no. After you. You are the one they want to see, all action, light, and heat.”
To which the Flame replied, “No, no. After you. They truly adore your mystery; the way you keep them guessing is more delightful than an actual fact.”
“Or a factual act.”
“You don’t think much, do you?”
“No, but I do much.”
“Nothing. Are you going on first or what?”
“Oh, I don’t know…”
Meanwhile, center stage, the Pile of Sticks was taking another bow in front of a slowly exiting audience.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
"You like WHAM?"
I have no idea how to take that question. Little does she know that I followed them around when they were still playing small clubs, before they got a big contract and "sold out."
(Also, what's a band like WHAM to kids born in the nineties?)
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I remember saying, "I'd like to be the next Ogden Nash, but the Saturday Evening Post isn't around any more."
I was trying to be cute along the lines of "..., but I never get any responses from The Saturday Evening Post or Colliers." But it was off the top of my head, and those lines tend to be incomplete.
Anyway, so you know it's not an idle threat, here's something I wrote a long time ago, prompted by a Nash anniversary piece by Roger Angell in the New Yorker.
“Readers […] - this one, at least – still instinctively look for the restorative Nashian couplet or clarifying stanza about today’s water-quaffers, navel-piercers, abs-flaunters, and cell-gabblers, not to mention the assertive S.U.V., the forty-room beach cottage, and ‘could care less.’” --Roger Angell, The New Yorker, Aug. 5, 2002.
The consumption of vast amounts of eau
Results in a release of the same, beleau.
Water’s crest in popularity arises, as I figure it,
From the newfound necessity to take breaks from work far more often than one did for a cigurit.
Water, Water Everywhere,
And Not a Bite to Eat
For your figure no matter will be quite as drastic
As drinking water endlessly from bottles made of clear and shapely iconoplastic.
But hydration has less impact on your general fitness
Than an unwanted side-effect to which I now bear witness:
Have no money left in their household coffers.
If you wonder why those carrying the plastic flasks are so lissome and lithe,
‘tis because they must fast assiduously to choke up the health-religious tithe.
In other words, once you’ve paid the siphoners and distillers and bottlers and transporters and marketers and sellers for the amounts of water that the Monsoon season of South-east Asia can hardly compete with,
There’s nothing left for you to eat with.
To the Abdominatrix
I don’t know what I ever did with
In the days
Before the bared mid-riff.
Son, you may have seen how female body parts that function digestively
Are of late exposed quite suggestively.
Teens today their mid-sections like to flaunt,
Testing categories famously postulated by Kant.
For they arrest a passing glance in a moment of embarrassing pausality
And temporarily wipe out any ab priori knowledge of space and time and causality.
As for fab posteriori knowledge,
For that you’d best wait until you’re old enough for college.
Daughter, why this metallic severance to our connection that was so quaintly umbilical?
It distorts the cute fleshy spiral that had grown faintly hilical.
Your navel that resembled the bread roll affectionately christened the “Kaiser”
Is now pierced by studs and bars that invoke the artillery shells of the invading forces of World War I which ought to have been behaving much naiser.
I’ve not forgot,
When you were a tot,
How my lips and a plosive fricative on the jiggly folds in your belly would boost your mood enormously and how your bubbly giggles made for a satisfying designator.
But wait. Come here. Maybe the metal adds buzz to your resonator.
Ears Everywhere, But Where Are Your Eyes?
O, Masters of cellular communications,
Why must you invade all of life’s quotidian situations?
At the grocery store, doing some shopping,
You grab someone else’s cart and fill it with sausage and bacon because your broker tells you that pork-belly futures are dropping.
At school, because your mother says that the nation’s transportation system is on the skids,
You pick up the wrong kids.
At a wedding ceremony,
The guests of the groom are unable to catch the bride’s name because they’re listening to the logistical details of your alimony.
You never ever cease to drone
In that annoying little phone.
And all the while your immediate surroundings bear the brunt of you
Because you don’t pay attention to what’s in front of you.
Hark, Now. Wassup?
I think Shakespeare would condone
The use of a cellular phone.
For a vanquished king could easily receive a page
And be informed of all the juicy deaths that have just occurred off-stage.
The Plight of Gaia Iulia Soccermom
Another hedgerow’s bent, and who’s the perpetrator?
Oh gosh, that was me, in my V8 Overcompensator.
It Takes a Villa
For friends and guests, my wife presumes,
Our beach cottage has forty rooms.
They all fit; that’s the pity.
I think I’ll just stay in the city.
Oh, Could You?
Could care less.
“Could care less” might want to sting, but makes a mess.
The effort to express disdain
Through lack of n’t gets said in vain.
The speaker tries to sound above-it-all and haughty
But gets dragged down by of the omission of a little-bitty nottie.
For caring only cuts the auditor wide
When coulding is denied.
Could care less.
“Could care less” denudes its sense and needs redress.
To remain aloof, care less you couldn’t.
There, now, ain’t that understoodn’t?
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
We had his four years or fifty-thousand miles checkup and oil change today, and the jury is still out as to which part he detested more, the measuring and probing or the shots (three of them).
Judging by the drama, it was the measurements that got him. We wound up showing up an hour before the actual appointment because I couldn’t take his anticipatory dread anymore. Once he realized he wasn’t going to school he started freaking out. He had been told about the visit, but conveniently forgot about it (“At last – memory yields”).
Madge, by the way, was insistent that we tell him about the shots. She has a need to know, at all times, about everything. Mystery and surprise are her primal foes. She can ruin many a movie with this need. But she can also wind up her little brother by telling him things he doesn’t want to hear. And, when he ignores her, she makes sure he doesn’t. Somehow, though, we managed to make her keep quiet about the shots. Good thing, too, I think.
It’s really odd, how he dislikes getting undressed in order to be measured. In his four years I think his blood pressure has only been accurately taken once, his height maybe three times, his weight, never.
Oh, well. He got his shots and a toy and the pleasure or Madge’s company because she only had a half-day today.
Which, I guess, means that I have double-overtime.
I smell a raise.
Monday, March 19, 2007
The coverage of the bland fare was good, of course, but...
This week, though, MAN!
Amy Winehouse, go check her out. http://www.amywinehouse.co.uk/
It's like the Shirelles, but with an alcohol problem.
["Rehab" and "You Know I'm No Good" are my favorites so far, but "Tears Dry On Their Own" (a translation of sorts of "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" - listen to it and you'll tell right away) is "fun," too.]
It used to be that I wouldn't introduce Julie to people I knew. And she invariably got insulted and we had to (a) work things out, (b) process emotions and evaluate the relationship, (c) feel guilty for a while and use our verbal skills to get into some good graces again. (Take your pick.)
Every single time, however, the case was this: I didn't think the other people were worthy of meeting Julie. Julie was none of their business. And, the sooner I got away from these people, the better.
But Julie, then as now, was/is way more social than I and felt somehow slighted.
She was nice enough to say that she may have just forgotten about the article, but, really, I'm not as happy with it as I wished I were, based on the actual phone conversation with Ms. Yost. But, oh well. I hear there is no such thing as bad publicity. Let's leave it at that.
Saturday, March 17, 2007
I thought I sounded smart, suave, and witty during the interview, judging by Ms. Yost's reactions on the other end. Now I'm not so sure.
The result is a brief contribution to an article in the Arizona Republic. (For the record, it's not "my favorite limerick" it's "my favorite limerick to tell other people when they ask me for a sample." There's a difference.)
Friday, March 16, 2007
But, as you may have noticed, I ran out of alphabet.
So here’s one more alphabet-related one. Next week I’ll be thinking of new ways to cook them up. (Who knows, I might actually start with the moral, as Lessing suggests.)
The author and the alphabet
Offstage, beyond the blank paper, the alphabet said, “Do you even know what you’re doing?”
To which the author replied, “No, not really. I just go at it and see what happens. Luckily I have you to guide me.”
“What do you mean?”
“There are numberless books that simply use you as an organizing principle. Sure, they’re a little weak on the Qs, the Xs, and the Zs, but for some reason the idea doesn’t go away.”
“And you want to do the same?”
“Sure, if you don’t mind.”
“What if I do mind?”
“Then I’ll apologize and do it anyway.”
A mom: Good morning!
Madge: Who is SHE?
Yikes. I swear, Madge heard the exclamation points. Any wonder I occasionally feel smothered?
Me: A mom who picks up at the same door I do. Her kid is in the same grade as you, just in a different class.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
Not bad, as far as zingers go.
On the other hand, she didn't see the humor in my telling her to go to bed early and not read or watch Star Trek with us or pick up the cat or use the camera or...
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Basically, it means having your cake and eating it, too.
When I was in high school, writing English essays, I used an underhanded version of this rhetorical device. I had two ways of correcting words (because of the mandate to use ink, we couldn't erase). The first was to completely obliterate the incorrect term. The second was to merely draw a line through it, so that my teacher's mind (Hi, Ms. H-, Ms. R- !) would be tainted by what I was trying to improve upon, therefore finding a happy medium on her own and, of course, giving me the benefit of the doubt.
(Lately, I've seen this technique on blogs and don't feel nearly as inventive as I did back then.)
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
“I’m not your cuddle-bunny anymore.”
“That’s a dummy idea.”
“You’re making me crazy.”
“That’s not a deal.”
Yesterday, though, he went past cute and into devious. He didn’t want to go to school (he’s still a little under the weather, but no fever, so off he goes – no pampering from me, thank you very much, although I did get him a toy afterwards, but, psssst, don’t tell Julie). Here’s how he built up his case (disclaimer: each of his statements below is a patent lie):
Coco: I can’t go to school.
Grand Inquisitor: Why not?
C: R-- [his wonderful teacher] says I can’t come.
GI: Why not?
C: She says I was bad.
C: I hit someone.
C: Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, … A--.
GI: You’re saying R— won’t let you come back to school because you hit A--?
C: Uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, … yes.
He’s so advanced for his age.
Monday, March 12, 2007
I just downloaded some Billy Joe Shaver (the guy who wrote "The devil made me do it the first time/The second time I done it on my own"). The song is "Slim Chance and the Can't Hardly Playboys"
That title on its own is worth a MacArthur genius grant, I think.
Apparently, they're on Polish ("PAW-lish") Records, and are going to have a Polish hit real soon. [zing!]
Another line: "Out where the cars are up on blocks and the houses are on wheels"
Ya gotta love it.
On April 1, I saw her with a new haircut and some makeup (which she usually didn’t wear). So I said, “Hey, Holly, nice haircut.” And she responded, “I’m not Holly. I’m her twin sister.”
It being April Fool’s, I laughed and said, “Okay, and what’s your name?”
“Funny,” I said and walked off.
Later I ran into Holly, with more hair and less makeup.
In other words, I’m a little gun shy around twins now.
Yesterday, in one of my classes, I had two kids with the same last name, same projected graduation date, and very similar looks (once you got past the gender difference). I said, “You guys must be twins.”
To which one of them (the older, darn that birth-order thing) said, “No. We’re not. We’re triplets.”
And, indeed, there was a third in a different class.
I just can’t win.
And so she has. Using the booklet and the CDs from the library, she’s accumulated a working knowledge of all the lyrics – though she complains that she can’t sing both lines of a duet (when the singers have differing words).
I guess we need to start a Madge-Mis fund now.
The problem is, if she does get to go, how do we keep her from singing along?
And, as always happens when I get away from the kids after they've been suffocating, I feel I have a lot to get off my chest.
Also, as often happens when they're home and not doing much more than watching movies and drifting in and out of sleep, I read a bunch.
Here's my friend Wystan Hugh Auden again (I wonder what his friends called him - I'll look it up, maybe):
...[I]n our culture, we have all accepted the notion that the right to know is absolute and unlimited. [...] We are quite prepared to admit that, while food and sex are good in themselves, an uncontrolled pursuit of either is not, but it is difficult for us to believe that intellectual curiosity is a desire like any other, and to realize that correct* knowledge and truth are not identical. To apply a categorical imperative to knowing, so that, instead of asking, "What can I know?" we ask, "What, at this moment, am I meant to know?" -- to entertain the possibility that the only knowledge which can be true for us is the knowledge we can live up to -- that seems to all of us crazy and almost immoral.
*It makes more sense to me if the word were "complete" - editorial error? Or just me? In other words, I have the feeling he originally wrote "complete knowledge and correct knowledge are not identical" and in the rewrites got things jumbled so he ends up contrasting correct knowledge with truth.
Either way. What a thinker (and feeler). Some day I ought to read his poetry.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
"Oh, you're the mom," is a comment she frequently gets to hear - and, obviously dislikes.
Today I finally came up with a fairly good response, I think.
"You didn't think, after hearing all I had to say about her, that a woman this perfect could really exist, did you."
Friday, March 09, 2007
There are plenty of stories circulating about the dollar coins that were minted without the catchy "In God We Trust." For example this one http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/nationworld/2003605634_webdollar07.html. It appears the one-dollar coins are selling for around $50.
Now, I'm not trying to make any kind of agnostic claims about the worth of the slogan, but it appears to me that we might be sitting on a solution to the defecit. All we need is a good eraser.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Next week we get so sign up Coco for pre-K. Sounds easy. But of course they want documentation. The first is funny to me, an "unpaid utility bill." All I need now is a note from the school to the electric company as to why I'm delinquent.
The other is an immunization record, which shouldn't be funny but has become ironic (though not funny to me) because Coco is home with a fever, which means I can't go to his doctor as I wanted to pick up his immunization record, because he'd think we're going on his account and, really, he's not that sick (and as we all know, he's tired of doctors).
In short, in case you missed it:
Gotta go to Coco's doctor.
Can't, though, because Coco's sick.
Okay, now I can laugh about it, too.
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Because of my first name, Horse-lover in Greek, I've always had an odd relationship with Peter Shaffer's (yes, same guy who wrote the entertaining yet historically misleading "Amadeus") play, "Equus."
Now Harry Potter, sorry, Daniel Radcliffe is starring in it and a bunch of teenage girls are encountering some disturbing sights.
Hopefully not all of their inquisitive attention will be directed towards equipment that he did or did not acquire at Ollivander's.
I'm sure the girls in this picture were all desperately thinking, "Accio!"
Thinking she was being funny, of course.
And my first thought was, “Well, duh, otherwise I would never have had kids.”
Meaning, “If I didn’t think things could change for the better, … And why, pray tell, do you even bother sending your children to school?”
But I kept my mouth shut. Experience has taught me that, with people such as her, I usually have to explain my quips, by which time they lose whatever sting they may have had.
For Cheney, Political Toll May Follow Libby Verdict
Makers of Sodas Try a New Pitch: They’re Healthy
And, at heart, they’re right, if your choice is drinking nothing or drinking soda.
For Cheney, Political Toll May Follow Libby Verdict
Cheney tries a new pitch: We're honest.
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
I had an insight which Julie isn’t going to like, but here it is: The musical must have been written with Meat Loaf in mind for the role of Jean Valjean (or Javert). The songs seem tailored to be outtakes of “Bat Out Of Hell.”
But this is Coco Tuesday, so here goes. The other day when Madge was singing along with her favorite number (other than “Castle On a Cloud”), “Who Am I?” She gets to the part where she sings, “I’m Jean Valjean” and Coco bursts in, “No. I’m Sha Fa-Sha.”
And a fight ensued.
Me? I’m Eponine (even though Madge keeps calling me Javert).
Monday, March 05, 2007
Oil Innovations Pump New Life Into Old Wells
A Record of Failure at Center for Sex Offenders
A Record of Failure at Center for Sex Offenders
Corralled together, they merely offend each other, sexually.
Oil Innovations Pump New Life Into Old Wells
No offense, but I think it depends on your point of view.
I love that smart kid of mine. Sometimes I’m not sure if what she says is on purpose or not, but still.
On Friday, her school had “Parents as Learning Partners.” Parents are invited to come and work with their children. We were done with our project and went to the next task, which was to read. The book we picked up was “Leo the Late Bloomer,” in which Leo (oddly enough a tiger, not a lion, poor mixed-up creature) doesn’t speak or read or write or draw or eat neatly at the same level as his friends. His mother isn’t concerned, but his father is. On the front matter of the classroom’s copy are several post-its with a heart penciled on them and various messages. “Everybody blooms.” “We all learn to do things.” (All by boys, incidentally. I wonder if the teacher was purposely assigning the reading on purpose to academically frustrated males.)
I asked Madge what these notes were and she said, “Oh, that’s the heart of the story.”
So I asked Madge her take on the heart of the story, in her words.
She said, “You just need to be patient.”
Without irony. Without a glint in her eye.
I don’t mean to be paranoid, but look back at the father’s role in the story. Then note who she said this to.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
U.S. Predicting Steady Increase for Emissions
Warm Winters Upset Rhythms of Maple Sugar
How the winters got warmer, nobody knows.
U.S. Predicting Steady Increase for Emissions
Except, of course, maple sugar emissions.
Friday, March 02, 2007
Widespread Storms Cause Deaths in 3 States
Greenspan Is Still Able to Move Markets
If Greenspan can’t come to the markets, the markets must come to Greenspan.*
Widespread Storms Cause Deaths in 3 States
It’s about time Greenspan had a talk with the weather.
*At about $150,000 a pop, it seems.
Yesterday I had my first subbing gig in a local high school.
Too many images and thoughts accumulated in this novel situation to properly relate in this short time, but here's something that happened.
Girleequa: How old are you?
Me: Let's just say I'm in my thirties.
G: You look as old as my sister.
G: My sister's thirty-six.
M: Yeah, that's about your sister's age.
Femaleeshia: Oooh. He's slick. You bein' slick, ain't you? He think he slick.
They're really not dumb. At all. But for some reason the period between the two World Wars isn't what they want to be studying at this hormone-filled stage of their lives.
If you're still interested, read on.
The very next chapter in "The Dyer's Hand" deals with his guilty (pun intended) pleasure of reading murder mysteries.
Of the Human Mileu of these mysteries, he writes (italics are mine, he can't have them),
It must appear to be an innocent society in a state of grace, i.e., a society where there is no need of the law, no contradiction between the aesthetic individual and
the ethical universal, and where muder, therefore, is the unheard-of act which precipitates a crisis (for it reveals that some memeber has fallen and is no longer in a state of grace). The law becomes a reality and for a time all must live in its shadow, till the fallen one is identified. With his arrest, innocence is restored, and the law retires forever.
Make of it what you will. I love this kind of stuff.
I subscribe to one of those “A Word a Day” deals that show up in my inbox every day. I know this comes as a surprise to you, but try to contain yourselves (why I presume I have more than one reader, I don’t know).
Today’s word was “paraph.” (Incidentally, I just noticed that it’s a word which MSWord doesn’t recognize. Maybe the folks as MS ought to subscribe to the service as well.)
A paraph is the swirly flourish attached to a signature, intended to foil forgers.
The odd thing, though, is that this superficial flourish is the easiest bit of the signature to imitate. The way the name is shaped, the essence of the signature, however, is more difficult to get right. (I speak from the experience of copying my dad’s signature, which includes a paraph in the initial “G,” after seeing that Alain Delon Movie – the original, pre-Damon, Ripley – in which he uses a projector to magnify the signature in order to get the flow right.)
It’s weird how we think superficial flourishes delineate our inimitability.