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."