Tuesday, September 01, 2015

pebble in the shoe

I put on my socks, yellowish, thin, summery. Then, I covered my left foot by slipping on a shoe, a handsome brown dress shoe, from Famous Footwear. I put on my right shoe. (Truthfully, this sequence may be imposed after the fact. I cannot recall for sure.) Then I felt a pebble in my left shoe. It was an annoyance. It was less than a pebble; call it a pebblette. I removed the shoe and shook it. Nothing seemed to fall out. And I couldn't feel anything with my naked hand as it surveyed the shoe for the culprit. I put the left shoe back on. I walked on it. Pebble (or pebblette) still in the shoe. Problem still afoot, though invisible and not tactile. It has been said such a petty bother can unsettle a person, that it can drive someone (even an abstinent person) to drink. I held that notion in my head to nudge me toward some calmness as expletives prepared to explode into the room peopled only by the author of this blog post. I recalled the broken shoelace and its aftermath chronicled in The Mezzanine by Nicholson Baker. I removed the offending scruple, "again," this time with more comfortable results (as evidenced by a test-walk). 

The metaphorical applications of this vignette await your parsing.

This, from the Online Etymology Dictionary, may help you in your reflections:
scruple (n.) Look up scruple at Dictionary.com
"moral misgiving, pang of conscience," late 14c., from Old French scrupule (14c.), from Latin scrupulus "uneasiness, anxiety, pricking of conscience," literally "small sharp stone," diminutive of scrupus "sharp stone or pebble," used figuratively by Cicero for a cause of uneasiness or anxiety, probably from the notion of having a pebble in one's shoe. The word in the more literal Latin sense of "small unit of weight or measurement" is attested in English from late 14c.

Monday, August 24, 2015

sunset boulevard

As he drove on Onondaga Lake Parkway, seeing memorial crosses to his right, before the 10'9" warning signs for the rail overpass, where a Megabus crashed and four died several years ago, he saw what people term a picture-perfect sunset to his left, which would have to be west, would it not, because, after all, the sun sets in that direction, we are told. And, what, he wondered, is so great about this sunset? If he were forced to decide, he would report a litany of visual components (no aural elements came to mind, despite that "music of the spheres" stuff), including, but not limited to (as attorneys and regulators and bureaucrats like to say): backlit cumulus clouds, silhouetted rays of golden sunlight, lambent light off the lake, contrasting blue sky in the dusk, seagulls, rippling waves, willow branches swaying in the breeze. Not that a sunset shrouded in brooding purple storm clouds or pale wintry slate would be any less picturesque, nor would the sunset itself care one way or the other, he wondered parenthetically.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

curvilinear urban legend beauty

You venture out to retrieve the black plastic empty trash can and the blue bin for recyclables, peering at your car and, as you typically do, surveying for slashed tires or a window broken and beaded from last night's anonymous mayhem. On the road surface (a road paved merely months ago), you spy an imprint of white paint that nearly outlines your car, a 2007 VW Rabbit, 111,000 miles, the way the police delineate chalk lines where a dead body formerly sprawled, in its last restless resting place. You look left and see where the paint seemingly originated, several houses south, on Avery Avenue, where a resident likely deposited it, improperly, in last night's trash. This "waste management" accident paints a brushstroke of curvilinear whimsy and beauty. (Curvilinear strikes this observer as an especially feminine word, owing to female curvature merged with sweeping linearity as opposed to male angularity and polarity.) The alabaster alphabet consisting of one long L with hints of an S at the end is punctuated with accidental or purposeful blockprints from someone's steps, or else owing to the fruits of a performance or avant-garde visual artist who has staged this elaborate design, which trails off into the intersection with Chemung Street, toward the final feet of the old West End of Syracuse. And later in the day, and in the remains of subsequent days, you see vestiges of more curvilinearity: the palimpsest of the dawn street sweepers, meandering against curbs and around parked cars, reciting a visual poetry of fading hieroglyphics.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

a secular prayer

Have we lost a sense of commonweal? The common well-being, the body politic. A shared welfare (another word whose shades of meaning are often shrouded).

Commonweal.

A Secular Prayer

Would that we could summon, or have someone, or something, summon unto us, for our own behalf, the solidarity of community, not riven by solipsism or divided by dissonance. Would that we could respect and honor our very own commonweal, even if by not trashing the land we traverse, or by unlittering the litter strewn before our averted or blinded eyes. Amen.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

desire, thy name is . . .

Sprout Pharmaceuticals got FDA approval for its libido-boosting pill for women, called Addyi. As with many pharmaceuticals, it is controversial, in this case exposing two opposing lines of thought about the need for the drug and questions about its safety and efficacy. I'll dodge that debate. I'm not qualified to engage in it, for a multitude of reasons.

But I am qualified to engage in verbal foreplay. Or is it syllabic role-play? Anyway, is it vaguely possibly that the pharma pholks considered, and rejected, any of these names for their new product?

Attagirl

Attaboy

Loveya

Likeya

Friendme

Pantpurrgo

Screamy

Warmup

Myagra

Empowerglo

You can see why these were not selected. Suppy your own in the comments, if you dare.

(Incidentally, what do you think of Sprout Pharmaceuticals? What other industries is Sprout in? Seeds? hedge funds? fertility clinics? turf? irrigation? fertilizer? vitamins?)

p.s. The generic name is flibanserin. Play with that one, too, wordsmitherers.


Monday, August 17, 2015

reverse mortgages -- and more!

I saw a sign today that said REVERSE MORTGAGES. I barely know what that means; maybe the bank pays you. Probably not. I guess it has to do with borrowing against your equity. Of course, it got me to musing on the semantic possibilities. How about these?

REVERSE MARRIAGE -- separation or divorce.

REVERSE CONFESSION -- the priest tells you his sins.

REVERSE HIRING -- firing.

REVERSE WINNING -- losing.

REVERSE VIRGINITY -- [it doesn't work that way]

REVERSE SAVINGS -- spending.

REVERSE HOMER -- strikeout.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

West of East and Vice Versa

As you drive into West Leyden, you see the Milk Plant Tavern on your right, its outer walls suitably and milk-cannily decorated on a white background. (Love that name.) No, I did not go in. Then you cross a bridge with a sign telling you it's the East Branch of the Mohawk River. Leaving West Leyden, you soon find yourself in West Turin, whereupon a great blue heron almost swoops onto the road in front of you, NYS Route 26, causing you to slow down, as the pterodactyllic creature lands in a field, though you'd think a swamp or lake was its true home. Who knew.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

too true, too often

Provocateur / activist / friend Dan Valenti has video-chronicled pandemic neglect in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. He strolls through urban scenes of weeds, litter, abandonment, indifference, foolhardiness, ignorance, indignity, and self-defeat. It all adds up to neglect that reflects a lack of care, class, or hope.

Sad.

Sadder yet is the inescapable conclusion that the locale could have been any of — what? — 137 cities in America.

I don't have a simple answer (or even a complicated answer) except to lament bygone days of community, commonweal, pride, and humanity. How does one teach or inspire those attributes? Can leaders instill those civic virtues? Can these positive energies and exertions swell upward, churning a rising tide? Or are we condemned to cumulative attrition, an oxymoron of loss and despair?



Thursday, August 06, 2015

'bingo as usual'

The sign at the VFW post on Charles Avenue in Solvay, NY declares: "Bingo as usual." Nothing controversial about that. But it got me thinking. If there's bingo as usual, what would be bingo not as usual? How about:

  • Naked bingo
  • Bingo in Sanskrit
  • Braille bingo
  • Uncover the card
  • Hula bingo
  • Clairvoyant silent bingo
  • Bingo spelled b-b-b-i-n-g-o for stutterers
  • Minimalist bngo
  • Pantomime bingo
  • Nuclear bingo
  • Underwater bingo

Monday, July 27, 2015

the sparrow-cicada skirmish

Parking lot of a Target store. A commotion on the pavement to the left and in front of my car. It's a sparrow tormenting and darting toward, attacking, a cicada, or whatever it was making that buzzing summer sound. The insect trying to excape, the sparrow vigorously making a point. "Leave me alone," if nothing else. A brief bit of drama. Not exactly Henry David Thoreau witnessing a war of ants, but the sparrow-cicada skirmish just the same.