Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Year in Review, Literarily

Well, here's the year in review. Literally.

Or should I say "literarily"? (Yes, I should.) Anyway, what I mean to say is, here's a list of my reading matter (i.e., books) for the year 2006. (Incidentally, do you say "two thousand six" or "twenty-oh-six"? I hear the former, though I wish the latter took hold. I heard "twenty-oh-six" on BBC World Service last night.) The Irish Independent (seen here being perused by an erudite if slightly effeminate-looking Laughorist en route from Malahide to Dublin, last October) doesn't count. Just books.

Do people read actual real books anymore? I fear not too many do. That does not make me better or worse. I'm a slow reader, one who savors a book. Yes, I read magazines and newspapers too -- hard copy -- but I am most faithful to books. I need to read a book before falling asleep (yes, even after THAT). I know, I'm so retro.

Here's my rather short list, unadorned with editorial comment.

1. On Beauty by Zadie Smith (novel)

2. The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster (novel)

3. Attention.Deficit.Disorder by Brad Listi (novel)

4. Blue Angel by Francine Prose (novel)

5. Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser (poetry; former U.S. Poet Laureate; I shook his hand)

6. McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy (travel; humor)

7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (novel)

8. Born to Be Mild by Dave Armitage (novel)

9. The Beast God Forgot to Invent by Jim Harrison (three novellas)

10. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (novel)

11. The Pornographer by John McGahern (novel)

12. Praying Like Jesus by James Mulholland (spiritual commentary)

13. A Year to Live by Stephen Levine (psychology/meditation)

14. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (novel) (about 40 pages and I'll be done; I promise, I'll finish by December 31 -- Deo volente).

(Addendum: OK. I did finish it, last night, on December 30. Can I start and finish something short in one day? Perhaps Steve Martin's The Pleasure of My Company?)

Name one of your books of 2006. Just one.

Please?

Thank you.

Happy and peaceful and healthy and blessed 2007. One day at a time.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

'Time' Is On My Side (Yours, Too!)

So. You've heard. Time Magazine has named me Person of the Year 2006. And you.

And also you.

And you. You too.

Yup, it celebrates the blogging community and the World Wide Web (some call it Web 2.0) and all its creative and collective and collaborative (and alliterative) and communal chaos and connectiveness.

Yay us. Yay me.

I admit to being conflicted over this. I carefully pored over Time's announcement and did not see one mention of The Laughorist. At all.

And, to be honest, the essay praising us did not mention you either.

Or you either.

No mention of The Wonderful World of Nothing Worthwhile, Meloncutter Musings, or These Are Me Thinks, or the Not-So News, or The Pole Affair, or To Love, Honor, and Dismay, or Odat's Mumblings, or The Bestest Blog, or Ron Bramlett, or I'm Sorry World, or Flip This Body , or Dafathsdays, or Sheila's Thoughts of the Day, or Natalie, or HeartsinSanFrancisco, or JR'sThumbprints -- all right already. You get the picture. (The Shangri-Las: "Yes, we see.")

Alas, no specific citation of A Chuisle Mo Chroi, or Eat Your Young, or Dating Profile of the Day, or LaughMoreLoveMoreFearNot, or Monicker either.

What about the reliably and humorously observant Mist1? Not a word.

O Time! O tempora, o mores!

Hey, this is getting to read like the Litany of Saints, Sinners, and Everything-in-Between. Does anyone know what a litany literally is anymore? asks the ex-seminarian.

But as I said from my very first post, this is all about solipsism, so how can I claim to be disappointed?

Carry on.

As you were.

Who will the Person of the Year be in 2007?

You? Or you? You? Me?

The Cornflake King? [welcome back, and say hello to Crunchy Durden!]

Just me, The Laughorist?

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Inquisition, or "We Need to Talk"

For several days now, the most frequently emailed article from The New York Times website has involved Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying. It's smart stuff. You know, things about children, sex, finances, work, chores. Exactly the kinds of topics many of us diligently avoided as we dashed toward Nuptial Nirvana.

One excellent fellow blogger, Dr. Andrew, devotes his whole blog more or less to such topics at To Love, Honor and Dismay.

As a veteran of more than one domestic war and occasional, almost-accidental tranquillity, The Laughorist hereby offers some important prenuptial or postnuptial questions of his own:


1. Do you snore?

2. Do you ever get the feeling you are a man trapped inside a woman's body, or vice versa, or some combination thereof?

3. Whom do you think of while we're having sex?

4. Do you leave the cap off the toothpaste? Why? (Or why not?)

5. Does it bother you if someone pees in the shower even if you will never find out, and is the asking of this question really going to scotch the whole thing?

6. Where were you on the night of January 28, 1993?

7. How many sporting events (or soap operas) will you watch weekly?

8. Who are your favorite authors? (A response such as "Well, I don't know; I don't read much" should set off gongs in your head.)

9. What would Kierkegaard say (WWKS)?

10. How do you spell o-r-g-a-s-m?

11. Does size matter to you?

12. Do you leave the toilet seat up or down, and why?

13. Do you wash your hands with soap after using the toilet? How many times?

14. What are you most afraid of (see question 11)?

15. Do you mind if I run a credit check and background check on you?

16. Do you hear voices? If so, what do they say about me?

17. Paper or plastic? Or neither?

18. What are your greatest shortcomings? What are mine, if any?

19. In your own words, what does it mean if somebody (in the words of the comedian Robert Klein) "dreams of a hot dog chasing a donut in the Lincoln Tunnel"?

20. Would you mind if I just have some time alone and think things over a little bit right now; I'm reconsidering a whole bunch of things in my life after all these questions, okay?

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Spinmeister, Well-Heel Thyself

Well, there's spindoctors and then there's spinmeisters. And the latter are very well heeled. As in platinum or gold. Turns out, there's this d.j. in New York City who caters to the posh uppercrust, at fund-raising galas and such, pinkies-out affaires, attended by those with interchangeable first, last, or middle names (you know, like Whitney Brewster Harrington, or vice or thrice versa, or Alexandra Bennington Vermont).

As noted in today's New York Times, one Tom Finn is said to command $5,000 to $12,000 per night to play tunes for the rich and famous and powerful (and mostly white and mostly uncoordinated).

He does about 70 nights a year, it says. (What's he do on his off days? Spin pizza dough down at the corner pizza shop?)

You do the math. A minimum of approximately 5,000 times 70. Dollars. Not pesos.

Oh, he used to be with singing group The Left Bank. Remember their song? "Walk Away Renee"? Shite, he almost had his band aptly named. Should've been The Right Bank.

Up to $12,000 a night.

Give him his due. He's not just spinning records or playing CDs. He creates a mood (a mood to help people reach into their alligator-skin wallets or their Coach purses).

The story noted that he's the man for fund-raising galas, such as for New York City Ballet or high-society shindigs.

So let me get this straight. My daughter, and legions of other ballet dancers, train daily, often through grueling injuries, and do the actual performing of the art, and they all probably are lucky to get paid $12,000 a night combined, in total, for all I know!

And my wife, who is a neonatal intensive care nurse, actually makes less than $1,000 a night, even on the night shift. Can you believe it?

What's your salary per night? Or day?

You're right.

Life ain't fair.

We all know that.

But maybe this is what our opponents and "enemies" mean when they refer to our having a morally bankrupt society.

A d.j. at a fund-raiser (maybe even a fund-raiser for the poor -- a word no one would dare use there) reeling it in.

Laughing all the way to the Left Bank, or any bank.

What would Jesus say? (or pay?)

What would Kierkegaard say?

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A CAPital OFFense

So I get this prescription, a steroid ointment. It comes in a tube. My toes were itching and burning like they were ablaze. Eczema. Fine. I open the box for the ointment and throw the directions out. I go to apply the cream and find that a metallic seal first has to be broken. (Warning to Freudian psychoanalysts: please refrain from the obvious. Much obliged.) I use a Q-tip to break the seal, apply the cream. Great.

Then I find that the cap does not stay on. It slides off. It is too loose. I consider going back to the pharmacist. (This was last Friday, a very cold but otherwise warm-hearted, pleasant afternoon, later followed by my Saint Nicholas gig.)

"Phil, I can't seem to get this cap to stay on," I would've said.

Or, "Karen, can you help me to screw [on this cap]?" I imagined flirting with his assistant.

But, no, I don't go back to the pharmacy. I figure I'll live with it. So the cap is loose. Let the feckin thing stay loose.

But I am too anal-retentive to let this go entirely. Or at all.

I bring this issue up casually with my housemate, my partner (OK! my spouse, if you prefer).

I tell her about it.

Before I even finish a sentence, she experiences gales of laughter, paroxysms of pleasure (humorous pleasure; you all have dirty minds).

To be fair to her -- and to me -- not malicious laughter. The kind that it is easy to go along with and perhaps even laugh along with.

She informs me. No. Wait. She doesn't inform me; she silently takes the fecking cap and takes it off and puts it on via the other end.

I was wondering what the pointy cone was for. Oh! To puncture the seal! And then to reverse the cap and place it on the screw portion, the threads. O Freudimus maximus!

I told her this was easy for her because she works in a hospital. She does this sort of thing every day.

Does anyone out there know what I am talking about? Am I a retro-pre-Luddite in a modern age? Am I alone in having the universe pass me by?

If you are all laughing at me, I hate you all.

I admit to being an intellectual snob.

I may have to drop the penultimate word from that previous sentence.

Screw it. Screw you all.

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Saint Ersatz

Unseemly (and unsightly, some would say) as it seems, Pawlie Kokonuts (a.k.a. The Laughorist) played the part of Saint Nicholas yesterday. (This is either a new low, or a new high, depending on one's honesty or perspective.) The appearance marked the Feast of Saint Nicholas, December 6, at a local church event.

It involved Yours Truly donning a long, white robelike article of clothing, cardboard bishop's miter, wooden staff, and red velvety cape that weighs about 127 pounds. I did not wear a beard (except for my real goatee, trimmed very tightly today incidentally) or in any way try to disguise my so-called normal visage and appearance. And no ho-ho-ho's.

If you children don't behave, I will either spank you, or show you pictures of this episode.

In all seriousness, I tried to -- in a quiet way -- make a sort-of anti-Santa Claus statement.

The youngsters gathered around in a circle before me, and I crouched down to chat with them. Here are some of the things I told them, or tried to convey (whether based on facts or legends, I didn't get into; it doesn't matter):

  • The real Saint Nicholas, from present-day southeastern Turkey but under control of Greece in the 4th century, loved the poor.
  • And he showed it. When his wealthy parents died, he gave his whole inheritance toward helping the poor and lonely and troubled and suffering.
  • The whole bit about putting little gifts in stockings or shoes was based on the legend of his anonymous gifts to poor girls.
  • He loved children.
  • He loved them whether they were naughty or nice. He loved them. Period.
I don't deny I am flawed and filled with many contradictions. (After all, last month I managed to read these two books, though not exactly simultaneously: The Pornographer, a novel by the late Irish author John McGahern, and Praying Like Jesus: The Lord's Prayer in a Culture of Prosperity by James Mulholland. The former was ultimately dismal and only occasionally erotic, sort of like the movie "Alfie"; the latter was a challenging indictment about the misuses of Christianity in the world's richest nation.)

My point is: somehow I juggle these disparate tangents of self, these self-delusions.

But yesterday's event, and my little research leading up to it, underscored how Western society, and most especially the United States, has perverted everything Saint Nicholas stood for. We call it Christmas and Santa Claus, but ain't it really Capitalism and $anta Claw$? (And I'm not naive: an immediate cessation of this nonsense would cause economic hardship to many; the tamped-down economic activity would shed thousands and thousands, if not millions, of real jobs.)

Well, it explains, just a little, why I'm such a holiday curmudgeon.

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

H a i k u

wind-swirled snow crystals
landing on naked branches
unvirginned hardscape



these gloved hands wonder
where August's sweat is hiding --
until they find skin



carnal petals sleep

the white dream of memory

pulsing but empty



a harbor of pearls
beckons the lunar nightscape
cumulus shrouded


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

In Flagrunte Delicto

Warning. Any time you see a heading in Latin, you know you are in for some high-brow, pinky-sticking-out-from-your fluted-glass snobbery.

As delicately described at Wikipedia:

In flagrante delicto or sometimes simply in flagrante (Latin: "while the crime is blazing") is a legal term used to indicate that a criminal has been caught in the act of committing an offense (compare corpus delicti). The colloquial "caught red-handed" or "caught in the act" are English equivalents.

The Latin term has come to be used far more often as a euphemism for a couple being caught in the act of sexual congress; in modern usage the intercourse need not be adulterous or illicit.


But wait. The astute reader will see that Senor Laforisto has cleverly changed the phrase to in flagrunte delicto.

Why is that?

A recent article in The New York Times noted that certain fitness clubs expel members for grunting in the gym. The particular case cited had to do with the forbidden grunting of a weightlifter.

Now, maybe I'm all wet on this, or barking up the wrong tree, but grunting at a health or fitness club (where you most assuredly will not find me) might be rude but not as rude, say, as grunting in church or temple or ashram or other place of worship. Or any number of other good-etiquette-demanding circumstances.

So let's talk about this, shall we?

Good to grunt: bathroom (especially if constipated), bedroom (alone or with another(s), but let's monitor the decibels if in an apartment complex, okay?), barn, amusement park ride, sports stadium, while walking the dog (in cane ambulato).

Bad to bark: bathroom (at work), hotel bedroom (oh, go ahead, I don't care), in work cubicle, on first date, on last date.

Your turn. Send those e-postcards right in, from all around the grunting globe!

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Monday, December 04, 2006

A Little Latino Beat

Perhaps you've heard the beat of these Latino hooves.

Here's "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," in Latin, in a version purported to be translated by a Harry C. Maynard. It all comes from a smart and terrific blog, apparently posted by a Laura Gibbs at Latin Christmas Carols.


Rudolphus, naso rubro,
naso nitidissimo,
si umquam eum spectes,
dicas eum fulgere.

Reliqui tum renones
deridebant ludentes,
semper vetabant eum
apud ludos ludere.

Deinde ante Natalem
Santa venit, et
"Tu, Rudolphe nitide,
traham meam duc nocte."

Dein, ut renones amant,
exclamantes hilare:
"Rudolphe, naso rubro,
in annalibus eris!"


Now get back to work!

Age quod agis.

("Do what you are doing.")

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

' This Little Light of Mine . . . '

The following are words I wrote -- and managed to deliver only partially last May -- in memory of my brother (technically, my half-brother, but nothing 'half' about him), Thomas Richard Hayes, who died on this day one year ago. The names won't matter to you; the emotions will. My apologies if this is an imposition. Thanks for listening, if you choose to read.

Requiescat in pace.

Anyone here who knew Richard, or Tom, even casually, knows that he is the one in the photograph with the easy smile, he is the one with the ready laugh, and he is the one with the gentle manner, the easy touch. That we know. And that we honor and celebrate today. Before going any further, thank you, Beverly and Laurie, for asking me to share these few words, however difficult it may be.

He was a good man: a steady worker, a devoted husband and father, a caring son, a faithful friend. But for me, most of all, he was my brother. And since he was so much older than me, I idolized him. When he left, around 1955, to go to the Air Force, we missed him then, as we do now. And so did a squirrel he had befriended, a squirrel he apparently had taken to feeding. These many years later, I can still see that squirrel scampering up to our second-floor apartment on Oak Street, scratching at the door, somewhat angry and confused, missing his treat, missing Richard, wondering, Where did he go?

He went to places like Bellevue, Illinois; Baudette, Minnesota; Madison, Wisconsin; Wyoming; and Japan. And he wrote handwritten letters to me, little treasures that came in special red, white, and blue airmail envelopes. Nothing more extraordinary than a retelling of his day, and asking about his little brother. One hot summer night, we heard a tap at the door at our home on Myano Lane. Richard was home! An unexpected leave. He had driven all day or all night, or both, to thrill us with a visit. Home--only to leave again, some 30 days later.

If I recall correctly, when I was in Fourth Grade, Richard was in Japan. Sapporo, I think. His being there inspired me to study all about that land and its people and its customs. I probably knew more about Mount Fuji than anyone else in class. Richard sent us chinaware from Japan (why do they call it china?), and a beautiful ornamental doll with jet-black hair held by a comb. The doll still stands in a glass case in Mom’s bedroom. And he sent Jack and me these real cool reversible jackets, silk on one side and velour on another; mine was decorated with a fierce-looking dragon. Very cool. Plus he gave me a little military reflector mirror for signaling to rescuers. I’m sure I annoyed everyone around with it. I treasured it.

Fast forward many, many years, and I was to learn that Richard’s greatest gift to me (and to so many of us) was yet to come. I am not a golfer. Richard was. One Monday afternoon, early last November, as his days were dwindling down like the crisp sparkling leaves falling from the trees up North, we spent, an hour or two at a driving range not far from his beloved Florida home. I believe it was Beverly’s or Laurie’s clubs I used, no less. The sun beat down on us. We both wore straw hats. He was too weak to play. He sat on a nearby bench and what did he do? He mentored me, encouraged me, nurtured me. Try this club, now this one. No, you did all right. That’s good. Your’re doing fine. No, that’s okay. That’s better. A little slower. There you go. Now try this. There you go.

And he took a few snapshots of that snapshot of our lives, and I of him, we with our straw hats, our shorts, our smiles. Our perfect moment in the sun. And so, in death as in life, there was Richard, Tom, as always, ever kind and gentle, patient and loving, easygoing and comfortable. Uncomplaining. Grateful. Our moment in the sun. Literally and truly, who could ask for anything more? Where could I buy such a precious gift? And so, like a young airman leaving in the middle of the night, I bade my brother goodbye in the early November morning, the following day. We knew it was goodbye for now, as he rested his head on the pillow covering his childhood prayer book, as I told him I loved him, and in my heart thanked him for this great lesson, this final gift. The gift was this: be not afraid, it’s okay, there you go. He taught us how to die with grace and serenity, just as he had lived. And for that we are all here to thank him today.

I confess I am like that squirrel long ago, scratching at the screen, angrily or sadly wondering where our Richard, our Tom, has gone to. Perhaps the answer is in the Gospel of John from this year’s Easter reading. Mary Magdalene is at the empty tomb. She, like us, is weeping. Twice, an unrecognized Jesus says to her, “Why are you weeping?” In her grief, she does not recognize him. Then he says her name. It clicks. She gets it. She recognizes him. “Teacher!” she exclaims. And, for me, the teacher who taught me how to whack golf balls on a Monday afternoon, he himself shone with the light of that same Teacher recognized near the empty tomb. And the lessons are the same:

“What falls away is always. And is near.”

“…we saw / The God within him light his face…”

and, finally:

“…redeemed from death, and grief, and pain, / I soon shall find my friend again / Within the arms of God.


Quotes:

John 20: 13-15
John 20: 17
Theodore Roethke, “The Waking”
Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “In Memoriam A.H.H.”
Charles Wesley, “If Death My Friend and Me Divide”

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Bye, Bye, Mr. Kierkegaard Pie

Today's Zen Calendar reads:

"I stick my fingers into existence -- it smells of nothing."
-- Soren Kierkegaard


"Oh, so the lack of fragrance is at the root of my existential malaise?!"
-- Pawlie Kokonuts

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Can't You Just Hear That Slice of Minx Pie?


Did you hear about this? Or taste it? Because of the neurological phenomenon of synesthesia (or synaesthesia), the sensory apparatus of some people is joined. Synaesthetes taste the sound of words. According to a study by Dr. Julia Simner and Jamie Ward published in the journal Nature, a person with synesthesia might hear the word castanets, and taste tuna. (Cast a net?) They might hear the word John and taste cornbread. They hear mince, and taste mincement. They hear minx, and they taste a [PARENTAL CONTROLS INVOKED]. (Wasn't this the rage with the French poets Rimbaud and Baudelaire?) For one person, road signs flood his mouth with the taste of flavors like pistachio and earwax.

I get that too. When I see an image of Dick Cheney, I get that earwax-navel lint thing in my mouth. Or worse. It's just offal.

When I hear the words saucy knickers, I am treated to the taste of creamy havarti with a tender undercurrent of salty anchovies and a slight suggestion of dill.

You get the picture. It's on the tip of my, um, tongue.

Artie tastes, Artie swallows, Artie chokes.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. (I just had to find a way to get in another photo from my available supply, this one from Kylemore Abbey, in the Connemara Mountains.)

Gulp.

Laugh. Or....

Else.


Find out more at Livescience

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Walking the Walk

Yesterday, the Day After Potentially Gluttonous Ruin -- Resisted, I was out of sorts. So, I took a walk. It wasn't like my more or less daily walking of the dog. Call it a Destination Walk. I walked downtown, from my home, about 2.5 miles.

Walking in this fashion is out of fashion in America. (I remember last month seeing people in Galway, Ireland, walking from downtown to the suburbs, young and old, walking.) People jog, they even walk vigorously, swinging their arms like militant evangelists of fitness. But we do not have too many walkable communities anymore. We are a nation of drivers.

It helped to clear my head.

You see things differently while walking. If you are fortunate, the city leaders will have provided sidewalks, good sidewalks for walking, as well as synchronized traffic- crossing signals. Yes, walking takes more time. Yes, you see things up close, like abandoned buildings from a long-lost industrial age, tossed food wrappers, old leaves. You encounter few, if any, other walking humans. You encounter cars, snarling by almost like caricatures in a cartoon. You smell their exhaust. I guess you become more fit and become smugly superior-minded in doing so, but not necessarily. (I hope I didn't and don't.)

I stopped briefly at an art gallery. Then I made it to Armory Square, a section of town popular as a night spot. Old buildings. Adaptive reuse. I read the paper at a popular Seattle-based coffee joint. Drank a Pelligrino mineral water. Didn't want coffee.

Walked back in the sunset.

I realized, quite literally, I could walk to my workplace during the week. It's a different direction, but I could do it. We used to walk to school. By ourselves.

My walking yesterday was the quintessential anti-mall statement on so-called Black Friday. My walk wasn't very black at all. It was washed in golden sunlight and chilly air. And I spent something like $2.75.

That's all.

A walk on the most unwalkable of American days -- except for those sauntering in sealed cathedrals of commerce.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

One Bugger, Well Done, With Wings

I haven't blobbed (I mean, blogged) in a while. It's thyme. I mean, time.

Would you like fries with that bugger? I mean burger.

And you say typos don't matter?

As a former copy editor, I say: They do!

A front-page article in yesterday's McPaper, a.k.a.
USA Today
, got me thinking. Evidently, a few typos here and there have wreaked havoc with a few laws. Such as inadvertently setting the wrong limits for drunken driving (such that every driver would be guilty). Or adding a grand total of 1.5 cents to a state treasury, um, instead of $8 million. All because of sloppy editing.

I did a little browsing and, courtesy of a Dr. Jo Koster of Winthrop University, I discovered these, edited to suit my fashion (c'mon, Dr. K, The Laughorist got you a little free publicity):

"To be or to be." Well, I knew Hamlet had some issues; maybe they were just trying to simplify his choices. According to Dr. Koster, six professional proofreaders failed to catch the mistake.

"This contract shall be effective as of the singing of this agreement."
---From a customer’s rental agreement; he was not a vocalist.

“He used his wench to pull his truck out of the ditch.”
---Feminists were undoubtedly outraged.

“I know judo, karate, jujitsu and other forms of marital arts.” (Dr. Andrew, can you weigh in on this?)
---Next time, try love, honor, and lack of dismay.

“Sign up now for our Beauty and Fitness Curse.”
--Open Education Exchange

Laurgh. Or. . .

Else.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Grave Matters

Sometimes an image gives me subject matter for blogging. In this case, it's a grave matter.



Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.
Horseman, pass by.
William Butler Yeats
(Drumcliffe Cemetery; County Sligo, Ireland)


I checked out a site called Brain Candy and of course Wikipedia and found out a few fascinating things.

An epitaph (ἐπιτάφιος literally: "on the gravestone" in ancient Greek) is text on a tombstone or plaque honoring the dead. Many epitaphs are aphorisms. (Yes, you can see it coming: laughorisms will be invited by dear readers.)

Here's my own select sampling of some notable epitaphs:

Hodie mihi, cras tibi
— Famous Latin epitaph: mine today, yours tomorrow

Non fui, fui, non sum, non curo
— Famous Latin epitaph: I was not, I was, I am not, I do not care

Don't Try
— Poet Charles Bukowski

Dorothy Parker suggested "Excuse My Dust," but they ended up putting that and more on her grave.

I hope for nothing. I fear nothing. I am free.(translated)
— Nikos Kazantzakis [in high school, one of my fave writers]

Dúirt mé leat go raibh mé breoite
— Spike Milligan, translation: "I told you I was ill"

3.14159265358979323846264338327950288...
— Ludolph van Ceulen, who computed π (pi) to 35 digits.

Finally I am becoming stupider no more
— Paul Erdos, Hungarian mathematician.

"That's All Folks!"
The Man of a Thousand Voices
Mel Blanc
(Hollywood Memorial Park; Hollywood, California)

She did it the hard way.
Bette Davis
(Forest Lawn; Hollywood Hills, California)

Called Back
Emily Dickinson
(West Cemetery; Amherst, Massachusetts)
{self written}

I had A Lover's Quarrel With The World
Robert Lee Frost
(Old Bennington Cemetery, Bennington, Vermont)

Even amidst fierce flames the golden lotus can be planted.
Sylvia Plath Hughes
(Heptonstall Churchyard;Heponstall; Yorkshire, United Kingdom)

VOCATUS ATQUE
NON VOCATUS
DEUS ADERIT
Carl Jung
(Flutern Cemetery; Fluntern (Zurich), Switzerland)
{Invoked or not invoked, the god is present.}

The Stone the Builders Rejected
Jack London
(Jack London State Historic Park; Glen Ellen, California)

Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime
Dean Martin
(Westwood Memorial Cemetery, Los Angeles, California)

Against you I will fling myself,
unvanquished and unyielding, O Death!
Virginia Woolf
(Monk's House, Rodmell, Sussex, England)

Here I Done Lay, Or Is That Lie?
George W. Bush

I Blew It.
Monica Lewinsky

I Did It.
O.J. Simpson

Okay. That's your cue.

Give us some epitaphs, preferably funny. Epitaphs for yourself or someone famous, as in the last three.

Laugh. Or...
Else.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Logorrheic Insecurity

In its just-released report about hunger in America, the U.S. Department of Agriculture didn't want to use the word


h u n g e r.


(See my previous post and its talk of the old political promise of "a chicken in every pot." Evidently, we haven't come that far after all.)

That made probably more news than the alleged declining numbers of those going (excuse my impertinence) hungry.

Changing the wording "is a huge disservice to the millions of Americans who struggle daily to feed themselves and their families," said the Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, an anti-hunger group.

"We should not hide the word hunger in our discussions of this problem, because we cannot hide the reality of hunger among our citizens," Beckmann said.

The report uses the terms "low food security" and "very low food security" to replace the old descriptions of "food insecurity without hunger" and "food insecurity with hunger."

Food insecurity. Just doesn't give the same picture as, um, hunger, does it?

Which gets The Laughorist wondering, if hunger = food insecurity, does:

-- horniness = sexual insecurity going haywire (SIGH)?

-- poverty = bereft revenues of kinetic economics (BROKE)?

-- ignorance = declining underachievement masking boredom (DUMB)?

Just wondering (part of my imagination insecurity).

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Hortatory Exploratory

News reports say John McCain, Rudolph Giuliani, and Tom Vilsack have formed so-called exploratory committees. Supposedly they are exploring a run for U.S. president, and these "exploratory committees" allow them to raise money or something. Legally, that is. What a sham. (And, then they want you to check off a box on your taxes to allocate more cash for such charades? Please.)

I am announcing the formation of an exploratory committee to explore the formation of an exploratory committee. Well, I'm just exploring the idea. (Salma Hayek is another concept I'd like to explore.)

In 1928 the Republican Party used the slogan "A chicken in every pot." (Ralph Keyes notes in The Quote Verifier that the slogan is often misattributed to Herbert Hoover; no such evidence has ever been found.)

I haven't come up with a slogan yet. I've got three or four I'm mulling over (but my focus groups haven't all sobered up yet, so we're not sure):

-- I Leap for Kierkegaard

-- My Cellphone Is a Vibrator

-- Be Nice, Or I Shalt Smite Thee

-- Laugh. Or. . . .Else.

Back to exploring. . . .

Monday, November 13, 2006

Fear and Losing

Long ago (at least in blog years, which means months or minutes ago) I declaimed on the temporary, ephemeral, and transitory nature of blogging. Like anything else.

Then, a few moments ago, I had a scare to underscore that fear.

The whole blasted blog was missing.

Internal Error 550. Sounds like a punk band. Or a security alert. Or spiritual malaise of the lowest order. Take your pick.

I had been told to back it all up on Word or something but didn't exactly know how. (Still don't.)

Joseph Heller began his book "Something Happened" with a line that went something like:

"I get the willies when I see closed doors."

Well, I get the willies when I see my blog missing, gone, kaput, ejected, white space, vanished.

I didn't know we had become so attached. I didn't know I was so poor at practicing detachment.

I'll sleep fitfully.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

PissCat Away, Thataway!


I was reading about the Rutgers Scarlet Knights football team and their Cinderella success this season.

Then I thought of one of our cats.

Why? You might ask? Because Rutgers is in Piscataway, New Jersey. And our cat, call him Pisserfella for now [he has been placed in the Feline Ejection Program], has this penchant for peeing secretly in little corners. Annoying. Very annoying. Pisses me off. He doesn't stop even if I swing him by the tail and toss him "thataway."

He's a friendly sort otherwise. Imagine saying that about a human.

"He's a friendly sort except every now and then he likes to take a secret little piss in the corner when no one is looking."

He's the one on the right. Of course.

Laugh. Or. . . .

Else.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

(No) Direction Home?



I'm glad so many U.S. voters saw this sign I brought back from Ireland (it was not easy getting it through Customs and TSA security; I told them it was First Amendment expression). When I got back, I had these signs erected in front of polling places around the country. You know, trying to make a point about the direction these folks had us headed in.

I think it really helped to get the message out there.

Let's hope "they" heed the warning ("they" being Democrats and Republicans alike, and that Independent in Vermont, too).

Laugh. Or. . . . .

Else.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Obitchuaries: Dissing The Dead


According to a front-page article in The New York Times of Sunday, November 5, 2006, online obituary sites are struggling with ugly postmortems. Rude, crude, lewd comments are finding their way into guestbooks at sites like Legacy.com, the most popular of the type.

People! People! A little modicum of civility, please. Didn't anyone ever hear of "Requiescat in pace," which is Latin for, "Dude, show some freakin' respect!"

Some examples:

Reading the obit, he sounds like he was a great father. His son Peter.

Peter, where did you go to school? If you're going to bitch, put a comma after the word "son."

Or:

I sincerely hope the Lord has more mercy on him than he had on me during my years reporting to him at the Welfare Department.

Get over it, will you?!

The article noted that the Web sites hire full-time screeners to weed out the ghoulish resentment-harborers. Another common one is sneakier:

"Most often it's cases of Sue posting that he was the love of my life and then we check and the wife's name is Mary."


Ouch.

The piece quotes someone named Kenneth Doka, a professor of gerontology. (Shouldn't we either be talking to Miss Manners or a therapist?) Doka notes that people who have "one-click immediacy" in a "culture of candor" are saying things they'd never say in a handwritten note or in a handwritten guestbook at a funeral home.

Really?

Look, folks, do the honorable thing. Hurl the brickbats at me now. Throw the pies in the face while you have the chance. Diss me now.

Before I pull a Virgina Woolf. . .

. . . Or a J. Alfred Prufrock, seen above, trousers rolled, debating whether to eat a peach, listening for those mermaids, baby, singing each to each.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Leave It or Take It

So we get back yesterday from the movies. . . .

("Flushed Away." From the Wallace & Gromit folks. Went with E., my 24-year-old son who has a bachelor's in animation arts, and A., my 9-year-old daughter. We all loved it. Witty and fun.)


. . . and after a futile attempt at a nap I notice my neighbor and his son (actually the landlord of the two closely adjoining houses) dumping leaves by the curb. . .

. . . lots of leaves. . . in front of our house. Not theirs.

The landlord's kid asked me whether the leaves go in the street or not. No, I said, scowling, on the edge of a shouting match.

This reminds me of JR's Thumbprints and his dilemma last summer with his neighbor's boat and boat trailer. (Jim, hope you're feeling bettter. Cystoscopies are not fun; I do know that first-hand -- or first-gland.)

I was pissed. But didn't have the energy for it.

Then B. came home. After all, it was her house before I knew her. Plus she's got the Irish temper. She let them know we would prefer that leaves cover the flower beds over the long, hard winter.

Some nerve. (Some lack of nerve, Pawlie -- maybe it was simple prudence. I like Prudence. She's cute. Reminds me: in my growing-up sort-of tough neighborhood one was either classified as a fighter or a lover. Gulp.)

I will say this, though. A couple years ago a huge icicle fell off our house, with a thundering sound, and part of it dented the siding on the same neighbor-landlord's house next to ours (ours, which is now daringly purple with green trim; take that!), and a chunk sailed through the window and blinds of his tenants next door. The perfect weapon, an icicle. Don't look at me; I didn't do it.

By way of closing and apropos of nothing, I was at the supermarket this evening and saw a sign advertising the sale of amarllyis bulbs. I happen to be either blessed or cursed with a steel-tight memory for certain minutiae. Such as a college English professor claiming that the dirtiest line in English literature is from "Lycidas" from John Milton:

"To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neaera's hair?"


Amaryllis and Neaera were conventional names for pretty nymphs, my Norton Antholgy tells me.

Hmmm. He takes that over Molly Bloom's soliloquy? Or Andrew Marvell or John Donne? Or Edmund Spenser? Or some of Shakespeare's lines in "Romeo & Juliet? What about P Diddy or Madonna or Prince? (Oh. Right. English literature.) D.H. Lawrence?

You people should be working, paying bills, or wonking (is there such a verb?).

Friday, November 03, 2006

Motion-Activated

So I'm in the men's room. . .

(Is it still called the loo? How did that term come about? Do they still say w.c. in the U.K.? Doesn't w.c. stand for water closet? Sounds quaint. In the U.S., we call them bathrooms, as a euphemism, but let me tell you, when the homeless guys are taking a bath, at the sink, at the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Manhattan, it ain't too quaint. But I digress. "Is it perfume from a dress that makes me so digress?" The answer is yes. But not any perfume found in a men's room, which is where I started this post. Oh. And in Ireland, they were called toilets. Straightforward.)


. . . and I have a need to dry my hands. . .

(I don't like those hair dryer moronic things on the wall, the ones that never work, and you just end up rubbing your hands on your pants, or under your arms, or elsewhere.)


. . .so the paper towel dispenser claims to operate in a manner that is declared MOTION-ACTIVATED. I wave at the machine like I'm waving goodbye to my youth. Or flirting with the security guard who is observing me on some camera. Or making some gay overture to some Republican ex-Congressman or outed right-wing religious zealot who is against gay marriage.

Hello? HERR MOTION-ACTIVATED DAEMON? !

To paraphrase Ratso Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman [whom some strangers have said I resemble] in "Midnight Cowboy":

"I'm wavin' heah!"

I kept waving. I thought of trying some Latin, maybe Age quod agis since it looked as if I was performing some kind of benediction (or as Michelle of Michelle's Spell would add, malediction).

I switched from a testosterone-driven frantic waving to a more gentle, almost regal, wave. Then I remembered where I was. A Men's Room.

And the paper towel appeared. (Not enough of it.) I rubbed my hands.

And walked out.

Into the mall, aswarm in nubile bodies. Meaning lots of hot young chicks.

Friday night. Pheromones in the air. MOTION-ACTIVATED indeed!

(Look, just as the Republicans are trying to shore up their base [I hope they fail], I'm lamely trying to win back my male readers. But they probably weren't my base to begin with.)

Carry on.

As you were.

Laugh. Or....

Else.


P.S. I think I am up for Recent Commenter Lee's 50-word-story challenge. Let me sleep on it. But I warn you. I'm told I snore.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

So Singularly Solipsistic

Solipsism.

My favorite word. Issued almost as a warning in the banner of this place where you are reading. The subject of my very first entry in the realms of weblogging.

Why my favorite word? Its sibilant sound, its meaning.

From the Latin solus + ipse. Alone + self. The idea (the philosophy!) that only the self exists (or can be proved to exist).

I was delighted to see the word show up in an October 16, 2006 (the day my lovely and endearing mother turned 90 years old, God bless her) profile on Christopher Hitchens in The New Yorker.

Hitchens is quoted as saying, "They want me to immolate myself, and I sincerely believe that for some of them, when they see bad news from Iraq, the reaction is simply 'This will make Hitchens look bad!' I've been trying to avoid solipsism, but I've come to believe there are such people."

At first, solipsism shines like a luminous icon of our age. The Age of Self.

But then, I figure, not so fast.

Memory and perception are acutely subjective, are they not? Maybe there's something to it.

I also like the word because it goes so far beyond "selfish" or "self-centered" or "narcissistic." Plus it sounds so silky smooth.

Smooth. I admit to a fetish for silky smoothness dating back to my earliest memories.


Lying in bed, playing with the silk of the blanket, caressing the unseen ridges in the dark, the tiny protuberances of the stitching along the edge, the verge, rubbing with thumb and forefinger the minuscule slopes of supple effluvium, floating down into the edge of sleep, and drifting into the years-later trance from the self-same fabric now worn on breathing female form and flesh and person.


Such is the act of writing.

I start with solipsism and end up in the sheets.

(So singularly unsurprising, some would say.)

An invitation: share your favorite word. Or delicious memory.

Or your silence.

My metaphysical Web site counter will count the spoken as well as the unspoken.

Thanks for visiting. "This very day," to use a phrase from Soren Kierkegaard.

(Incidentally, "I Leap for Kierkegaard" products in The Laughorist Store are by far the best sellers. Why is that?)

Monday, October 30, 2006

Quotomorphia, The Sequel

Several posts ago, before my Gaelic pilgrimage, I created and declared full ownership of Quotomorphia, a game, or bit of wordplay, consisting of altering or tweaking a well-known, or even not-so-well-known, quotation. The Laughorist received a smattering of witticisms in response. And then this delightful deluge.

Brilliant.

They're from the multitalented Glamourpuss. And you people had her typecast and stereotyped as a mere terpsichorean tease. Seamus on you (or her, if he's her type).

She was a bit shy (it's that U.K. thang) about posting them (though one might surmise she's not entirely shy of post-like objets d'art). So I took the liberty. Always taking liberties. (I love Liberty of London ties.)

Enjoy.

Thatcher: 'If you want something said, ask a man. If you want
something done, ask a woman.'
Puss: 'If you want something said, ask a woman. If you want
something done, ask a woman.'

Chanel: 'Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman,
there is no dress.'
Puss: 'Look for the woman in the dress. If there is no woman, there
is a man with gender issues.'

Chanel: 'Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes
the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you
deserve.'
Puss: 'Nature gives you the face you have at twenty. Life shapes
the face you have at thirty. But at fifty you get the face you can
afford.'

Goethe: 'Anecdotes and maxim are rich treasures to the man of the
world, for he knows how to introduce the former at fit place in
conversation.'
Puss: 'Anecdotes and maxims are rich treasures to the man of the
world, for he knows how to blog the former at fit place to raise
his stats.'

Shakespeare: 'Brevity is the soul of wit.'
Puss: '...'

Shakespeare: 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds / Admit
impediments: love is not love / Which alters when it alteration
finds.'
Puss: 'Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit pre-nups:
love is not love which alters when it assets finds.'

Donne: 'Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for
thee.'
Puss: 'Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; remember you
changed your ringtone and answer your mobile.'

Wilde: 'One should always be a little improbable.'
Puss: 'One should always be: a little improbable?'

Laugh. Or ....

Else.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Pawlie Purloins Post's 'Punkin'd'

I've got a bit of cold, which gives me an excuse to be lazy, indulge myself, and, well, plagiarize (with due credit and attribution, which presumably lowers the number of years in Purgatory, at best; but I've probably just added on years with the sin of presumption).

This bit of illustrative amusement is from today's Washington Post. Its weekly humor (or humour) column, The Style Invitational, asked readers to submit for Week 682 amusing or clever renderings of fun with pumpkins and other vegetables (and the occasional fruit).

No, not that kind of fun.

So, if I did this right, here you go, Punkin'd, from The Style Invitational. (I've had real problems doing this; first it took the flash file but prevented me from publishing my blog. So, just scroll down to View Gallery. Sorry I'm such a komputer klutz.)

Donations of chicken soup will be acccepted, along with proper bed tucking-in from anyone (well, preferably female) dressed in one of those Victorian French maid costumes. After all, it's almost Halloween.

Laugh. Or....
Else.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Idle Hands Make Devils Pay

Headline, The New York Times, October 25, 2006:

Idle Contractors Add Millions to Iraq Rebuilding

According to the U.S. government's own inspectors, millions of dollars are being spent on [pause, inhale] nothing [exhale very slowly]. Oh how surprising. Another shocker: the biggest culprit is KBR Inc. formerly known as Kellogg Brown & Root. The Halliburton subsidiary. That's Halliburton, spelled C-H-E-N-E-Y.

I guess that's what the Republicans mean by family values. Some family of values.

This all comes to us from a report by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, or SIGIR. Here's a link with a .pdf of the report, which contains this juicy officialese euphemism: "periods of limited direct project activity" = goofing off while cashing checks. By now, you can probably Google it and read it all. (Of course, Rush Limbaugh can always say the government auditors were faking it all as a result of their fake Parkinson's.)

It's a pretty cool deal if you can swing it: sign a contract, have a tall cool drink, smoke a cigarette, cash check, go to sleep, wake up, repeat the same, cash check. Apparently, these "mobilization" delays have lasted up to nine months. And the contractors get paid during those nine months. For doing nothing. Nine months. Some baby.

Auditors chalked up the delays not to security, oh no. Nope. They blamed mundane stuff like "poorly written contracts, ineffective or nonexistent oversight, needless project delays and egregiously poor construction practices."

Inspired by these core values, I'm thinking of embarking on the following campaign -- and fully expect to be paid or compensated otherwise in the interim (I used the word "compensated" to broaden the scope):

-- Start my work week on Thursday afternoon and finish by lunch on Friday (my detractors would say, what's the difference?)

-- Pay my taxes nine months late -- and charge the government for interest (note to IRS friends: this purports to be a humor column; humour in some parts of the planet)

-- Commence doing the dishes, laundry, trash removal, et al. 75% later than usual (yes, Dr. Andrew, arguably 75% of nothing is meaningless; Dr. Andrew; I am calmly awaiting your pie plate tossed at my face)

-- Reach the apex of sexual crescendo 75% later than usual -- and still expect the same payback (that's all in code, The Kokonuts Code, a soon-to-be-bestseller; even I don't know what it means; my fingers just typed it)

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Digital Divorce

News item: (and would it matter if I were making it up? THEY are!)

According to Reuters, a Viennese fellow waltzed up to his ex-wife and presented his, um, ex-finger to his ex-wife. Yup. He cut off his finger, with his wedding ring attached to it, and presented it to his former Strauss, I mean, spouse.

This was after what was termed an "acrimonious divorce." Really?

Sheeeeeeesh! It's a good thing Lorena Bobbitt (remember that case, she was attached or married to John Wayne Bobbitt, who eventually got his dinky reattached?) wasn't his defense lawyer. Or maybe she was.

The victim, or the perpetrator (it's soooo confusing), was charged with dangerous harassment and assault for the act.

At a hearing (he did keep his ear, unlike Van Gogh), he said he didn't regret doing it and choosing not to have the member reattached. Then he spontaneously broke into that country song "She Gave Him the Ring, and He Gave Her the Finger."

According to today's New York Times, he said, "It was an act of breaking free." Well, maybe they were actually quoting the finger. Who knows.

Digital Divorcerer said since he's not a proctologist or urologist he could work very well without the finger. And he didn't plan on getting married again anyway, the article concluded.

So I guess one would have to logically conclude that a man at least does not need a finger, or at least a ring finger with a wedding band on it, to be married.

How's that saying go about spiting your nose to save your face? Whatever. I always confuse the saying. Maybe Herr Disfingerlosenziegonekaput was confused too.

I guess I'll think twice now before ordering the Wiener schnitzel (loosely translates as Viennese chop), especially to go, or as take-away, to use the Euro term.

Laugh. Or . . .

Else.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Feline Fecundity (The Pussy Horror Show)

The local newspaper, on the front page (isn't there a war going on? aren't there issues more pressing than pussycats and their proclivity to procreate?), says two cats and their surviving offspring end up producing, drum roll, or synthesizer-simulated sound of trumpets, like before the Kentucky Derby:

80,399,780 cats.

As in c-a-t-s. As in not-the-Broadway musical of the same name.

This figure is supplied by the American Humane Association (I've always found that ironic, the word "humane" in reference to animals; what word do we use in reference to being compassionate toward humans?), on the assumption of breeding for 10 years, two litters per year, and 2.8 surviving kittens per year (to get the 2.8, they lop off some fur, or whiskers, or part of a paw or tail). (Oh stop. They're words. Theoretical assumptions. No one is torturing your little kitties. Okay? Just stop.)

I've seen these sorts of calculations before. You have too. Especially as an inducement to get your cat spayed or netured or whatever the going euphemism is.

Maybe it's because Statistics 101 was the only course I ever failed, back in 1869 or so, but I just can't get my arms around this calculation.

I got to thinking, in a laughoristic sort of way. Not in a Soren Kierkegaard sort of way (just wanted to get that in there, to make me appear smart).

If just 10% of the American population, now given as 300,000,000 (people, however loosely and broadly you want to define that term, given the sad examples JR of JR's Thumbprints blog witnesses Monday through Friday) and rising, owned cats, that would end up. Oh feck. Who cares about the feckin number! (I get something like 2.4 billion, conservatively, give or take a few.) Just picture it. We'd be aswarm in cats, cats up to our necks. Our noses. Our eyes. Our ears. We'd have to wade through a sea of cats just to get to the car.

It'd be the Pussy Horror Show!

And all those guys who never thought they had enough, um, "cat" encounters, would be singing a different tune, mate.

Plus my allergies would really kick in.

It could be worse.

We used to have the cutest little Russian dwarf hampsters. Now those critters know something about reproduction. Oh yeah, baby. ("Repro Man," starring Ivan Screwin, The Russian Dwarf.) They had litters every 19 days or so; seven, eight, or more tiny creatures (and if Momma thought a youngster was a bit of a runt, she would sometimes -- how can one put this delicately -- digest it; nature is not kind).

Imagine Russian dwarf hamsters in every nook and cranny.

It'd give a whole new meaning to that old film "The Russians Are Coming! The Russians Are Coming!"

Back to the feline fantasy: 2.4 billion cats would make for some sicko-strange Off-Broadway musical (way-way-off-Broadway, thank you).

(Yes, our cats are neutered, if you must know.)

Laugh. Or . . .

Else.


p.s. I was going to blog about mobile phones and lower sperm counts, but without even checking I'll bet that is THE topique du jour. And if you're counting, this is the 69th post posted by the Laughorist.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cupidity Engineering

Saturday's New York Times had an article about the threshold of $40 for entrees being crossed at upscale restaurants, soon to filter down to lowly folks like you and me. The piece referred to an intriguing concept: "menu engineering." This engineering, or psychological manipulation, if you will, is based on several premises (sometimes false premises) of consumers, such as:

-- If you pay a ton for something, it must be great.

-- If you put something over $40 on the menu, the restaurant makes more money even if no one buys that item. Many, if not most, will buy the next-most-expensive item.

-- There's a trickle-down effect. If the hotsy-totsy restaurants can get away with this (excuse me: "increase their revenue streams..."), then the rest of the pack will follow suit.

As usual, The Laughorist ponders other applications of this reasoning.

As the newlywed recently mentioned in JR's Thumbprints's blog can attest, lap dancers (and similar professionals) have likely been aware of this technique for ages. Let us not disparage them, though.

Isn't every ad we see or hear a bit of cupidity engineering? The engineering of desire?

Isn't this done all the time? I mean, isn't the whole basis of capitalism more or less the engineering of cupidity?

Cupidity. I like that word. Cupidity doesn't need much engineering, though. Management, yes, but engineering?

(And what does Kierkegaard say about all this?)

Carry on.

As you were.

Give me some other examples, eh?

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

All Along The Watchtower

I like to watch. (Just ask Glamourpuss.) Remember that great line of Chance Gardener in the great movie "Being There"?

I like to watch people, processes, popular pulses, and a couple other alliterative "P" parallels (just ask Glamourpuss).

Of course, writing is watching, too. E.M. Forster said (my phrasing may be slightly off), "I write to discover what I want to say." But so much of writing is seeing; more accurately observing (smell, too, as any Proust fan would attest).

I like to watch sports, too.

Or used to.

I'm back in the U.S.A. now, and it seems I've lost some appetite for watching. Sports, that is.

I mean, last Saturday we were in Cosy Joe's pub in Westport, County Galway, and saw the much talked about Chelsea versus Reading football (soccer) match with the now-infamous injury to Chelsea goalkeeper Cech. (Seems like a long time ago.)
And that's exactly my point.

Back in the U.S.A. I am a hopeless and helpless fan of the San Francisco Giants, a baseball team in the States, with millionaire players and lots of fans. Nationwide. What does it matter?

Being in Europe put it all in perspective for me. The sports pages there (as well as sports viewing) are big on football, as well as rugby, right now.

But in scouring the sports pages of the Irish Independent or Irish Times, I found it impossible, or nearly impossible, to find even one sentence, even in the summaries in 4-point type, about baseball in the U.S. This while the big postseason frenzy was going on.

There were stories, or tiny summaries, on soccer, golf, GAA, rugby, racing (horse and greyhound), gaelic games, coursing (whatever that is), athletics (ditto), squash, cricket, tennis, equestrian, and hurling (not as we mean it here, after too much ingestion of alcoholic beverages).

No baseball.

So, everyone's up in arms over there about Chelsea or Reading or Wolverhampton or Barcelona or Manchester United.

Means very little in the U.S.

Conversely, over there they know squat about Endy Chavez's catch (I only heard about it) and Carlos Beltran's called third strike to end the season of the New York Mets (New York, as in New York City -- heard of it????).

So, I like to watch. But not sure which, um, sports anymore. Or if it matters very much at all.

Laugh. Or....
Else.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Strolling Salvifically

Informal, anecdotal research indicates that the mothers of Ireland are strolling to heaven. Literally. In a quaint throwback to the 1950s, Ireland's mums are seen strolling the walkways, sidewalks, or even treacherous byways with a kid in a stroller, one in the belly, and two or three by their side. Oddly, the fathers of Ireland have yet to be seen performing this herculean, or is it venusian, feat, (or feet, is it?), worthy of being feted.

Seems like the "barefoot and pregnant" road to salvation of the no-contraceptive, certifiably Catholic 1950s remains firmly paved.

My point (forgive me -- my blogging English is a bit rusty; all the signs in Ireland are in both English and Irish Gaelic, so I'm a bit off, more than usual):

Never once do I recall seeing a father pushing a stroller, even with one tyke. Or walking along with their children. The closest I saw was two parents together letting their red-haired kid roam about The Left Bank Restaurant in Sligo, where oddly the phone booth outside our B&B was blown up, presumably by firecrackers, the night we were there.

Now, I'm not the perfect father but I always enjoyed interacting with my children (still do), and stroling with them or pushing them in a stroller was a happy part of that. Still is.

The booming economy of Ireland is called the Celtic Tiger.

Make that Celtic Tigress, no?

Fathers of Ireland, are you at work? Why have I not seen you strolling with ye offspring by ye Irish springs?

Maybe I've got it all wrong.

Maybe before I leave to return to the States on Thursday I'll see legions of lads pushing prams, surrounded on each arm by the future of their land.

Or else legions of fellows watching football in a pub.

Or strolling with mobile phones in their ear, sans kids.

News flash: Pope Benedict XVI has just granted sainthood to the Mothers of Ireland. En masse. Just like that, after reading an advance copy of this blog.

It's stunning, the power I perpetrate through this vain venue.

Laugh. Or...
Else.

My Hide in Malahide

Nearing the end of the journey, near Dublin. The rain pours outside the window of a cybercafe outside a beach outside the usual place and time. A hunger for home. Cold comforts. Or warm. The famine for the familiar. Daughter from Berlin flies here tomorrow. We headed this way just to spend even less than 24 hours with her.

Ours was not a typical tourists' travel.

Fine.

In fine.

Fine.

The rain.

The clock for the cafe fees tick on.

See you all more in these spaces soon.

Thanks for stopping by.

Laugh. Or...
Else.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sliding By Sligo

Checking in from Yeats country. Some of the sites literally take one's (mine, of course) breath away here in Ireland. Been to Cliffs of Moher, Galway, Clifden, Croagh Patrick, and Westport before this. A secluded secret spot in Clifden the highlight so far.

I'm in a cybercafe populated by kids playing video games in little cubicles.

Not a place I want to stay in.

So, I'm exiting.

Carry on.

As you were.

To Yeats's grave later.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

The Quotomorphia Game

Inspired by the Oxford English Dictionary and The Quote Verifier (well, maybe not "inspired"; they're nearby and handy), here's what could become a new 'Net Game, yielding a net gain of nonsense, naughtiness, and -- who knows -- nausea.

I've dubbed the game Quotomorphia and hereby declare myself the sole and proprietary inventor and owner of this term, as well as its copyright holder, to wit, ipso facto, habeas corpus, colloquial colitis, et saecula saeculorum. Amen.

It goes like this:

Take an original quote, or as best one can discern it to be original (as Ralph Keyes can attest, that can be a scholarly challenge; so, let's just have fun, shall we, kids?), state it, and then twist the original quote into a new quote. Most people will probably use the hundreds of quotation websites out there. Preferably the new quote is witty or offers a new, telling commentary all its own.

Here are my first feeble forays into the fray:


"What else than a natural and mighty palimpsest is the human brain?" -- Thomas De Quincey

"What else than a natural and mighty pimp is the male genitalia?" -- The Laughorist

"Nowadays people know the price of everything and the value of nothing." -- Oscar Wilde

"Nowadays people know the price of gas but not the cost of war." -- Pawlie Kokonuts

"Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity." -- Horace Mann

"Be ashamed to die until you have appeared on the cover of People." -- The Laughorist

"Mission accomplished." -- George W. Bush

"Mission: accomplices." -- Pawlie Kokonuts

"I laughed all the way to the bank." -- Liberace

"I laughed all the way to the poorhouse." -- The Laughorist

I'll be on my peregrination [see previous post] to the Emerald Isle, so my online presence will likely be felt only by my absence.

Feel free to browse through my arch and ornery (and sometimes funny) archives. If I can log on from Ireland -- and feel so disposed to do so -- I'll check in.

Otherwise, pray I don't get blown off the Cliffs of Moher.

Come to think of it . . .

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

For Whom the Blog Tags

For feck's sake, I don't even know if I'm supposed to do this here or over at Meloncutter's Musings' blog, but here goes -- the results of my tagination.

Five Songs for My Funeral

Let me digress before I begin (you're surprised?). This is a semiserious list. It is however something I've pondered. Recently. As noted in previous blogs, I've been reading off and on for much of the past year a book called A Year to Live by Stephen Levine, a Buddhist, a poet, a teacher; he makes much of this -- finding your song. My church even has a provision for this, for incorporating into one's will (haven't made a will yet; should). It's not crazy. But nobody said it was.

1. The Water Is Wide -- A venerable English-Irish ballad. First heard it by The Seekers, a group from Australia in the '60s...who sound painfully tame and bland now. It's a song I've song as a lullabye to my youngest for many years, and still do. With made-up lyrics.

2. Send in the Clowns -- A Judy Collins favorite; though Cleo Laine turns it into something more haunting.

3. The Strife Is O'er -- An Easter hymn.

4. Hello, Goodbye -- The Beatles. Why not?

5. Jokerman -- Bob Dylan. Sort of fits The Laughorist scheme.

I'm tagging these:

Instigator
Army
Ron Bramlett
Glamourpuss
The Cornflake King

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Palimpsest of My Peregrinations

I discovered the word "palimpsest" while reading Thomas De Quincey, whom I must have revered as the original Timothy "Turn On, Tune In, Drop Out" Leary. I gauzily recall writing a term paper about (and mind-alteringly-inspired by) the author of "Confessions of an English Opium Eater." The De Quincey-inspired additives made for a slow-motion ambient hum that night long ago, but a more difficult writing journey. With respect to the submitted term paper, you likely could've echoed Truman Capote's famous critique of Jack Kerouac (incidentally verified in Ralph Keyes's The Quote Verifier) that it:


"isn't writing at all -- it's typing"


...a rough criticism which I formerly would have been quick to apply to this phenomenon called blogging, but you brilliant folks out there have proved otherwise, demonstrating daily your huge talents as members of the Royal Society of Aeolistic Ephemerists.

Where was I? Where are any of us?

That's the point of this post: the palimpsest of my peregrinations.

I think of a palimpsest as of one of those plastic slates we had as kids, the ones you write on with a tiny wooden stylus, the words fading almost immediately, then gone with a lift of the plastic sheet, ready for another round of text, or scribbling.

De Quincey (in his Suspiria de Profundis of 1845) observed:

"What else than a natural and mighty palimpsest is the human brain?"

My peregrinations: my wanderings abroad, with or without grins. (Will I meet a humorous priest from rural France by the name of Pere Grination?)

It seems our foreign policy (palatine palaver), if not our history, is written on a palimpsest. Don't we ever learn? Maybe every nation's history is so written. And every person's history, too, to a degree, eh? (I see that "scraped" and "rubbed again" are among the Greek origins of the word palimpsest. Will it all ever be rubbed smooth again? Will there be a new cable TV show titled "Palimpsest My Car"?)

What will I find in my impending journey? What druidic-celtic-christian spell will enchant me, from the verdant or barren terrain of Ireland or its people?

These words of T.S. Eliot, from "Little Gidding" (1942), are quoted so often they may strike you as a cliche, but obviously none of us is beyond a little obviousness:

"We shall not cease from exploration

And the end of all our exploring

Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time."



(I know, I know, if I were a true and accomplished blogger I'd enhance this with links and images galore. Images Galore? Must be the sister of James Bond's ol' flame, Pussy Galore.)

Monday, October 02, 2006

Hotel Decibelimaxima, or Slouching Toward Bedlam

Scene: A well-appointed, new hotel in the New York City metro area. Marble floors in the lobby. Dark hardwoods. Valet parking.

Dramatis Personae: Pawlie Kokonuts, his wife, young daughter, tired after a drive of 4 or 5 hours and a long but enjoyable evening out. Also, the Karate Kreeps (approximately 5 or 6, but maybe 89, young boys occupying at least two rooms across from us and next door to us, said boys unsupervised in any manner by alleged adults; all apparently here for some karate chop fest, or maybe it was Anarchy Camp, or Solipsistic Seminars 101, or How to Become a CEO). Also, the hot-looking front-desk chicks. And the nine-foot-tall security guard.

A Pastiche of Dialogue (and Monologue), both Spoken and Unspoken:

Hello? Front Desk? Yes. This is Room 603. I don't suppose it's unreasonable to hope that at 12:30 a.m. the folks across the hall may not have the need to be slamming doors, with kids screaming and banging on walls? I mean, what is the normal door-slamming per-minute rate at this hour? 17? 97? Eh?

I'm sorry, sir. We'll send security up there again.

Thank you.


Security arrives (for the second or third time).

It gets worse. Even after I pay a personal courtesy call to the front desk, in my jammies. (Why not confront the culprits, you ask. I know my propensity toward verba or other violence when wretchedly exhausted. Leave it at that.)

I crank up the AC fan in the well-appointed hotel room, which does work somewhat (my wife and daughter get to sleep a rough sleep, a sleep that slouches towards Bedlam [that's a bit of a literary pun: you see, "...slouches towards Bethlehem" is the line in the William Butler Yeats {whose grave in Sligo we intend to visit next week, really} poem, and my knowledge of etymology tells me that "bedlam" is a shortened form of "St. Mary of Bethlehem," a former insane asylum in SE London], somewhat because there are icicles now on my eyelids and goatee, and I myself can't sleep because my teeth are chattering and the Karate Klutz Klan is still marauding their mayhem in the halls anyway. And it is now 1:30 a.m. Is it just me? (Excuse me if I am missing a closed parens, bracket, or thing that looks like a parens.)

I consider calling the police.

I look through the viewport and see two large males enter the room across the hall. Doors close 769 more times to round up the urchins. Sound of mothers laughing. Kids screaming. Huge icicles now dropping from our drapes. Undercurrent of seismic rumbles from sound of boys hurling each other gleefully onto the wall. Our wall.

The whole scene from Dante's Fifth Circle made me rethink all my supposed liberal viewpoints, what with these long-locked, cherubic-faced, chaogenous clones of the savage tribes depicted in William Golding's Lord of the Flies left to run amok anarchically by solipsistic, bratty, up-scale so-called parents.

Of course, in a scene I couldn't write, the next morning (with the karate kids rudely Genghis-Khaning their way through the breakfast buffet area with a confident air of Entitlement [yes, the hotel said, Sorry, breakfast is free for your family, Mr. Laughorist, and we'll give you a free New York Times, too]), we witnessed Mrs. Loud condescendingly berating the help, trying to cheat the hotel of breakfast charges, grabbing the bill and belligerently barking to the soft-eyed Latina waitress as if to say You People Should Go Back South of the Border, We're From New Jersey and We Want You to Know, or Think, We Are Important Lawyers, but Cheap. And Loud.

We just looked up from our free breakfast. And said to the waitress, "That's exactly why we're eating for free."

Yes, of course we gave a tip.

Oh, I forgot a few other tidbits.

I was alone in the elevator, going down to the lobby (not the time in the middle of the night before with my pajamas on but the next morning, fully clothed) with one of the Boyz, about 4 or 5 (would you let your kid roam around like that?), and of course I was tempted to kick him surreptitiously, W.C. Fields-style, but of course I did not. But the following litle tete-a-tete ensued:

"So, you can go anywhere you want in the hotel?"

A cherubic nod of Entitlement.

"You get to do anything you want at any time anywhere, right?"

Another nod.

"Your parents let you do anything you want, yeah?" I said with mock kindness and sarcasm dripping off me like so much syrup cascading off the french toast downstairs.

"Yes. They let me. I can go anywhere."

"There's no such thing as any rules, are there?"

Mercifully, the mahogany doors swung open.

The now-standard dollop of words from The Endangered English Dictionary by David Grambs:

agrypnotic -- something to prevent sleep

diurnation -- sleeping during the day

hypnagogic -- causing sleep

sleepwalker -- hypnobate, as in "We are a nation of hypnobates."

Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Fabled Affair

George Royal saw himself as a steadfast, faithful, and loyal husband. But in the private recesses of his fantasies, he planned an affair. A lurid affair. The Affair. He did not see The Affair as an act of infidelity, or as a betrayal to those whom he professed to love. It was all a matter of honor. He imagined that his family had been slighted. He had to defend their honor, whether they had been slighted by the other family or not.

As with all deceits, Royal plotted the rubrics, the lubricious machinations, the secrets of The Affair long before it took shape. But he knew the object of his lust long before he sought to capture her heart and mind. Or at least her land and riches. He even gave the object of his fantasy righteous and idealistic names, and clothed her in swirling flags of beauty.

Tragically, The Affair turned out to be more sordid than Royal had fantasized. It got messy. Affairs often do. And yet, the messier The Affair got the more Royal defended his entering the realms of his soon-tired and frightened tired lover. Royal enlisted legions of sycophants to defend his military march to those realms, and they repeated his pavid patter in the public square.

Before long, those in the public square and beyond developed severe earaches from the bellicose bellowings put out by Royal's minions. Many could no longer distinguish one sound from the other. It was difficult to discern a church bell from a cowbell. Moreover, one could no longer tell whether Royal's unctuous urgings were amorous acts toward his beloved or toward the object of his fantasy.

Scribes now debate and dissect The Affair -- its origins, its history, its success, its failure, its future. Alas, The Affair sadly lingers on, a venture whose currency is costly but painfully incalculable.

Many in the land wonder (including some who formerly only whispered about The Affair): will The Affair ever end? And how?

Until then, the sounds in the public square are mournful, when not drowned out by the blare of strident discourse or by the sound of the high priests and priestesses chanting:

Miserere nobis, Domine.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Helter Smelter, or My Life As A Dog

I just took an evening stroll with our trusty Golden Retriever, nine or ten years old (human),and I got to thinking as I observed her curiosities and excitations.

I recalled a hilarious cartoon in The New Yorker not too long ago, I believe by Alex Gregory. It showed two dogs checking each other out by smelling each other's private parts simultaneously. The caption went something like (but funnier than), "We've got to find another way to introduce ourselves."

Maybe not.

They say the sense of smell of dogs is something like 100 times that of our sense of smell.

What if we were to reacquire that same olfactory perceptiveness that we used to have, way back when, even before MTV and rotary phones? The ramifications are endless. It might even lead to greater understanding, and world peace. If only. (Well, not that dogs never fight.)

Imagine if that sense of smell could be articulated (because, after all, our sense of smell affects us every day in ways we do not even know). I can just imagine some bits of daily conversation, or interior monologue, whether at home, at work, or on the international stage:

I smell fear on you; that's why I'm going to take advantage of you.

Well, we all know why he (or she) is so chirpy today! Got lucky. Twice.

I know you're lying. I can smell it.

We know they will attack. You can smell that rage a mile away.

They're bluffing. It's obvious with those olfactory signals.

Well, this is their territory. They've marked it out. And there's more of them than us.

You say you hate me but everything else about you says the opposite.

We're going to win.

We're going to lose.

No one will beat this hand. Just smell what they've got!

I think we can work things out; we're even.

She's not worth it.

He's not worth it.

I like.

I don't.

Yummy.

Yucky.


Laugh. Or....

Else.


Special bonus from The Laughorist:

Words related to smell, from David Grambs's The Endangered English Dictionary:

nasute -- having a good sense of smell

hyperosmic -- having a keen sense of smell

osphretic -- smellable

maleolent, olid -- smelling bad

olent -- smelling fragrant

caprylic -- smelling like an animal

oikiomiasmata -- smells that are noxious from household conditions

and

noctuolucent -- smelling strongest at night


G'night all!

The Affair (A Fable)

George Royal saw himself as a steadfast, faithful, and loyal husband. But in the private recesses of his fantasies, he planned an affair. A lurid affair. The Affair. He did not see The Affair as an act of infidelity, or as a betrayal to those whom he professed to love. It was all a matter of honor. He imagined that his family had been slighted. He had to defend their honor, whether they had been slighted by the other family or not.

As with all deceits, Royal plotted the rubrics, the lubricious machinations, the secrets of The Affair long before it took shape. But he knew the object of his lust long before he sought to capture her heart and mind. Or at least her land and riches. He even gave the object of his fantasy righteous and idealistic names, and clothed her in swirling flags of beauty.

Tragically, The Affair turned out to be more sordid than Royal had fantasized. It got messy. Affairs often do. And yet, the messier The Affair got the more Royal defended his entering the realms of his soon-tired and frightened tired lover. Royal enlisted legions of sycophants to defend his military march to those realms, and they repeated his pavid patter in the public square.

Before long, those in the public square and beyond developed severe earaches from the bellicose bellowings put out by Royal's minions. Many could no longer distinguish one sound from the other. It was difficult to discern a church bell from a cowbell. Moreover, one could no longer tell whether Royal's unctuous urgings were amorous acts toward his beloved or toward the object of his fantasy.

Scribes now debate and dissect The Affair -- its origins, its history, its success, its failure, its future. Alas, The Affair sadly lingers on, a venture whose currency is costly but painfully incalculable.

Many in the land wonder (including some who formerly only whispered about The Affair): will The Affair ever end? And how?

Until then, the sounds in the public square are mournful, when not drowned out by the blare of strident discourse or by the sound of the high priests and priestesses chanting:

Miserere nobis, Domine.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Banausic Baragouin

Not being especially original or innovative, I borrow. Don't we all? We see or hear an offbeat news story, and it becomes fodder for blogging. No harm in that. So, not being particularly inventive tonight, I turn to the work of a friend, David Grambs. I met Dave on the sixteenth floor of 201 East 50th Street, Manhattan, in the late 1980's. He's a lexicographer, and he was working for Random House, on one of their dictionaries. I was working in the School Division -- get this -- marketing filmstrips (!) as well as read-alongs and some then-new products called videos. Sounds like the 1880's now.

David Grambs has a wonderful book called The Endangered English Dictionary, subtitled Bodacious Words Your Dictionary Forgot. Published by W.W. Norton in paperback in 1997, it is truly fun to read (at a party, a long trip, or in the bathroom, if you really must know). Words were often culled from the aforeblogged OED as well as from other sources. Of course, this entertaining volume is available through Amazon.com, Alibris, and others. (Disclaimer: He did not put me up to this; doesn't even know I am doing this; we haven't even chatted in several years).

Here's a random sampling from The Endangered English Dictionary (the former English teacher in me says, "Allrighty, Blogosphere populace: Use all of these words now in one paragraph"; the entrepreneur in me says, "Do that and win a prize from The Laughorist Store"; but the Friday-night-tired-guy-in-me says, "Naw!"):

paulopast -- just completed or finished

footle -- to talk or behave foolishly

frigorific -- cooling

mollescent -- becoming soft

cohonestation -- honoring another with one's company

collop -- a small piece or slice

pilpulistic -- hairsplitting

suaviation -- kissing

jobation -- tedious criticism or scolding

erethism -- morbid overactivity [note to self: good topic for later blogging)

balneal -- pertaining to warm baths

aeolistic -- long-winded (of course,from Aeolus, the god of the winds) (parenthetically a good place to stop) (hey, we bloggers are surely not only Ephemerists, but some of us are The Aeolistic Ephemerists; who knew?)

Laugh. Or....
Else.

Oh. Sure. I wouldn't leave you hanging like that:

banausic -- practical, functional, or utilitarian

baragouin -- gibberish