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

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Hand Jive

According to wire service reports, a doctor pleaded not guilty to stealing a hand [full stop, as the Brits say]. From a medical school cadaver. In, where else, New Jersey.

He allegedly stole the hand to give to an, um, exotic dancer in, where else, L.A. They say she kept the hand in a jar of formaldehyde in her, um, bedroom. They say she called the thing "Freddy." (Why not "Cold Hand Luke?")

One wonders if she used (or planned on using) the left hand (it so happens I'm left-handed, as well as alive, so I can assure you it was not my hand. Like, I wish!) on the job, so to speak, or at home, in her bedroom. (For at least once in my life, I will resist temptation, in this case the temptation to use an obviously vulgar term that describes a certain digitally manipulated sexual act. There. I've resisted. Technically, at least.)

Maybe it was to be a prop for her cover of "I Wanna Hold Your Hand."

Or perhaps classical music grabbed her interest more (e.g., Handel).

Or it was just a ghoulish fashion accessory; it made her handsome.

I know, you were worried I was getting lax on the humor side.

Maybe I'm a bit rusty. But you can handle it.

"Only the hand that erases can write the true thing,"

Meister Eckhart

(Meister Eckhart is a favorite of mine, plus that's one of my favorite quotations, stylistically and spiritually; I know, I've got some nerve bringing "spiritual" into the discussion.)

Laugh. Or....

Else.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Seven Simple Words

"They are us, and we are them."

I found these these seven words of one syllable each in The New York Times of Saturday, September 16, 2006. They are from a quotation cited in Seth Mydans's heart-rending yet compassionate profile under the headline "Survivor Gently Adds Voices to Cambodia's Dark Tale."

The speaker, a victim of the brutalities of Cambodia's Khmer Rouge in the 1970's, was referring to a present-day encounter with a former Khmer Rouge cadre. "They are the evil side of us. Crimes are committed by human beings, by people just like me," he added.

This obviously difficult but conciliatory understanding seems to have provided a measure of liberation for Youk Chhang, the victim.

I cannot claim to have the capacity voiced by Mr. Youk Chhang. (I can pray for it.) Clearly, he comes by his views by a long and wretched path:

"With financing mostly from the United States government and from Sweden, he and a staff that has now grown to 50 people have mapped about 20,000 mass grave sites, 189 prisons and 80 memorials, and have transcribed 4,000 interviews with former members of the Khmer Rouge," according to the Times.

Let it be noted that Mr. Youk Chhang has compiled hundreds of thousands of documents to be handed over to prosecutors in a United Nations-financed trial. Fewer than a dozen are expected to actually face trial.

I have read similar stories of striking reconciliation in South Africa, after apartheid.

Seven simple words.

Without them, where am I? Who am I?

Without them, where are we? Who are we?

And with those seven simple words, what do we become?


"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together."

I Am the Walrus
(Lennon-McCartney)

Coo-coo. Ca-choo.

Achoo!

Friday, September 15, 2006

Coloring (or Parking) Within the Lines

News Item, The New York Times, September 12, 2006: Regarding Pope Benedict's visit to his hometown in Germany:

"Hans Peter Kammerer, a Bavarian police spokesman, said that at least 70,000 people attended the [Pope's] Mass. He said that 20,000 people drove there in private cars, following special parking rules and thus revealing more than a little of the nation's character....

'The rules we gave were followed so precisely that we had to tow only two cars - and those were because they weren't between the lines,' he said."

Gulp.

They weren't between the lines? Just two?

Granted, the Times rather reveled in a stereotype of a Germanic predeliction toward order and neatness ("...the [German] nation's character..." was the way reporter Ian Fisher delicately phrased it), but one could rationally argue that a certain general truth is being exhibited, correct? (You can just hear those eggshells cracking and splattering, the ones I am walking on, spilling out their albino albumen and all their gooey, mucous promise of fertility. [Hey, let me get a little Joycean on you in advance of our imminent trip to Ireland.] Speaking of breaking eggshells by trampling sensibilities, the Pontiff himself is apparently in need of some cracked-eggshell mending as a result of some Other Religion Observations he made on the same trip. I will leave that one for other emphemerists to comment on.)

Okay, fellow bloggers, writers, pundits, and members of The International Order of Underappreciated Ephemerists (IOUE), have at it:

Give The Laughorist some other examples, albeit stereotypical:

Americans: Not only don't park between the lines but have fierce arguments about whether to park to the LEFT of the lines or the RIGHT of the lines and debate what this means for the history of civilization.

Canadians: Set up goal posts between the lines to get in some street hockey, eh?

British: Sorry, I suppose you wouldn't mind if I park here now, would you? Sorry.

Italians: Fongul. I'll park where I want. Forget the lines.

Your turn.

Send 'em in.

Just for fun.

Laugh. Or....
Else.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

We the People, We the Ephemerists

Is there anything more literally ephemeral than blogging? My Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the one that came with a magnifying glass, because the Compact Edition "micrographically" squeezes so much into two volumes, illuminates this ephemeral business.

Blog readers (and blog writers) (are both blog readers and blog writers called bloggers?) typically fixate on the latest, the most recent, post. More or less. How often does anyone stretch back into the archives to explore a particular blogger's oeuvre? Relatively rare, right? I mean, like who has the time (assuming one is gainfully employed and performing one's prescribed duties; why do I suddenly sound so feckin snotty and uppercrust British? Is it the dust from the OED?)?

According to the OED, an ephemeris is (or was), among other things:

a daily diary

a table showing the predicted position of a heavenly body for every day (I'm picturing a Salma Hayek Kama Sutra Educational Desk Calendar with 365 exquisite photos)

any almanac or calendar (if you insist, yes, it could be a swimsuit calendar, cheescake or beefcake genre, to be fair and balanced)

the appointed daily order of religious services (well, no surprise here; like Leonard Cohen, I can see how sex and religion easily get intertwined, like bodies on a hot night, or like clouds of incense rising to the heavens)

So, of course, an ephemerist is one who makes use of an ephemeris (as in blogging).

And ephemera literally refers to "lasting for a day," originally describing a fever or a type of insect.

We got the fever.

We are the ephemeral, the diurnal insects of cyberworld, liable to be squashed any nanosecond by a server meltdown or cybercollapse.

We bloggers are truly The Ephemerists.

Here today. Gone tomorrow. (Unless you're into archives.)

Laugh. Or....
Else.

Pooof!

P.S. Speaking of diurnal, in browsing through my OED I discovered that a diurnalist is another word for a journalist. Makes sense. Carry on. As you were. See you tomorrow. Or another day. Cheerio.

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Laughorism vs. Laughorasm

I really don't have anything to say (isn't that the point of this self-induced belly-button playing?), so let's see where this goes.

"I learn by going where I have to go."

-- Theodore Roethke, in "The Waking," one of my favorite poems

Of course, I promote laughorisms: laugh + aphorism. Without going dictionary on you, let's say I'm aiming for pithy statements that bring a laugh.

If I elicit more than a laugh, or a laugh as good as an orgasm, does one then experience a laughorasm? Can a laugh be as good as an orgasm?

Some have compared sneezing to the Big O. Not me. I mean, I sneeze with great gusto, but sneezing seems, well, different somehow than reaching sexual climax. That's just me, okay? Plus, sneezes are so public. Mine are. Not my orgasms. (Well, they obviously are public for some. Depends if the walls are thin. Plus, porn stars are pretty public about theirs.)

I may've made people chuckle or smile or maybe even laugh by a laughorism, aphorism, or witty post or comment, but I doubt anyone has ever reached the point of laughorasm. And, of course, I would never admit it if I ever unintentionally made someone laugh while trying to make them, say, aroused.

(Come to think of it, that is the tragicomic story of The Early Years.)

If a woman, or a man, pinches her, or his, nose daintily to suppress any sound of sneezing, is that an indicator of matters farther south, down in the nether world of the Erogenous Zone (more frequently for me, the Erroneous Zone)?

I can just hear the office gossip on that one.

"Man, did you hear that? I would've never guessed it! Always so shy and quiet, too."

I told you I didn't know where I was going with this. I warned you.

Laugh. Or....
Else.

Gesundheit!

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Fears and Loathings

"My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music."
-- Vladimir Nabokov


Here's five of each.

Fears

1. Losing it.

2. Being lost.

3. Losing them.

4. Finding nothing.

5. Finding nothing and calling it everything.

(5a. Emitting in a crowded elevator what I thought would be an SBDF [silent but deadly fart] but which tragically turns out to be a VLBDF [very loud but deadly fart].)


Loathings

1. Mainstreaming of the word "pimp" (despite a dumb advertisement that shows up on this site).

2. The concept of so-called multitasking. (See The Laughorist's June 22 post on "Age Quod Agis" = "Do what you are doing.")

3. Weed-whacking devices and leaf blowers -- and the horrid sounds they make.

4. Not replying (to "thank you," or to something one said in the cubicle although the cubicle neighbor expects a ready reply to every comment he or she makes, or to emails, because you need not deign to reply to factotums, or not replying to whatever ad nauseam. Not replying. It bothers me. I see the therapist tomorrow, okay?).

5. Pushing forward in line ("queue" is the word in the British Commonwealth, is it not, ol' chap?) while saying, "Excuse me" or "pardon" (or, don't you invoke "sorry" in the U.K. in such instances?).

5a. Littering. It strikes me as a solipsistic blow to civilization. I suppose the concept of "littering" can apply to verbal littering (but how can you pick up and properly dispose of words once they are said? And is blogging a form of verbal littering?) and to the proliferation of consumerist crap (CC). One of these days you are likely to read of my demise because I had the audacity to challenge a litterer directly.

5b. Politicians who cannot say these three words: "I was wrong," and by extension a climate that ruins a politician who utters those words, and by further extension a society that does not allow itself to admit the wrongness of any of its actions on any level (also known as imperial arrogance), and while we're at it, the hollowness of politicians of all stripes -- a hollowness that prevents them from exhibiting one honest thought, one original idea, or one authentic emotion.

Now give me five. (More or less).

Of yours.

Laugh. Or....
Else.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Mowing The Last Lawn

[written in 2004, I think . . . maybe longer ago than that]


After this time maybe I’ll put the mower in the basement
this hand-operated machine which I chose not for any benevolent reason
the previous one always stalled and sputtered the hell with it
for it to sit down there all winter
among dried ordure and braided grass
catshit and hairballs, a dead toilet
goggle-eyed toys and aquariums and art project monsters
and a living washing machine and dryer.
This Saturday it is almost too hot, me with my panama hat.
I’m not doing this with the anger I see and hear and smell on most Saturdays
the suburban armies of the noon fighting off their decay
with a vengeance.
I leave a clovery patch in the corner by the graveyard of drooped sunflowers
spent and seeded and looking pretty sad about it
just to leave something undone.
I like the sound of the cuttings their spin
the weavery of it.
The back of the lot hardly has grass at all dead leaves and twigs.
I yell over to Joe working on his porch
how I’m sick and tired of stepping in dog shit for the fourth time
well you do have a dog he says.
And I don’t know if he is scolding me or being neighborly.
The vines on the back rusted fence are the color of orange skins left in an oven.
I don’t want to know the names of all the leaves
just the secret fire that erupted from the green veins.
My own fire never was too secret was it
they saw it a mile away.
Look at those drunken hedges raucous since I cut them in
what June when I cut the cord once again and tried to see if I could
snip the chain-link fence.
I’ll let the hedges stay unruly till the spring
(like the hair my father railed against and took as a personal insult
did it matter at all, now, Dad)
if I make it that far.
Those wasp nests I sprayed and swatted and crushed back in May
was that the way to go?
I wonder where they’re hiding now
what hidden fire to keep them through a long Syracuse winter
and if they are taunting me.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Washing The Soap

Maybe I should take some kind of waterproof notebook and pen into the shower. My imagination seems to percolate like soap suds washing down the unclogged drain, if you can mix metaphors, or more accurately similes, like that.

What if (purely hypothetical now) one were (again, note the subjunctive mode, which is dying in the English language) to drop the bar of soap IMMEDIATELY after the aforeposted peeing? Well, you'd have to clean that soap, wouldn't you? (Again, asking just hypothetically, because this is all purely conjectural.) If you're asking me, yeah, clean off the soap, wash it, purify it, however redundant or tautological that action may seem.

Following up on my last post, which caused so many of you to splash in with yourinary comments, I have a few more confessions to make (BTW, the other day The New York Times had a feature on confessional sites, including one from an evangelical church in Denver, plus perhaps even one with cyber-absolution; ironic, ain't it? I spent languorous Saturday afternoons of my youth sitting in a pew with friends, gossipping and flirting and sweating, and then confessing our sins and emerging feeling crystal clean and bright after the penance was performed after the "Ego te absolvo..." of the priest -- one of whom used to actually nod off! hey, did I not "sin boldly" enough -- to borrow Martin Luther's phrase)...where was I, oh, the confessions:

1. As one who is not inclined to sweating and one who does not perform sweat-inducing labor as a job, I simply do not take a shower every single day (unless it's hot -- OH FECKIT! I do not have to defend this). Americans will be aghast at this. The rest of the world will shrug. A couple of years ago, one of my brothers howled in derisive laughter when I casually alluded to this practice in what was a friendly chat until then. I think since he is so well off now he remembers our rather poor upbringing, with its Saturday night baths, with shame. I do not.

2. I rarely use a washcloth. (I can see a new online informal poll here.) (This may explain my intimate textural connection with the soap. There's no good segue to this, but I wash dishes with the aid of detergent and sponge, but it is the hands that can feel if the object is clean or not. Other Americans, especially Republicans in the suburbs and exurbs, will be aghast that we have no electronic dishwasher.)

3. I recently bought a bar of soap at Crabtree & Evelyn for seven bucks plus tax. Soap for men with an uppercase M, okay Mr. Tough Guy? (Really, it was because my son's fiancee works there, I wanted to drop in and say hi, she wasn't there, I couldn't say, no, blah blah blah. I partially lie. I like it. It gives me a chick-magnet-inducing pheromone.)

The Laughorist, being a former seminarian, will end on a preachy note inspired by Azgoddess's I'm Sorry World blog and some of her blogging friends (Morning Martini and the Lehigh Valley Rambler):

Speaking of metaphors, aren't we in need of cleansing the alleged cleaners? Isn't it time to dethrone our self-righteously pure Talibanic ayatollahs? Isn't it time we jump in the shower and awake from our collective sleepwalk?

Laugh. Or....
Else.