Friday, December 31, 2010

2010: They Might Be (They Are) Giants!

Years in my head get iconic labels: 1963: JFK assassination. 1966: graduation. 1982: year my son was born, 1986, 1997: daughters’ births. 1989: Death of my father. 1995: wedding. 2005: Deaths of my friend Doug and my brother Richard. Births, deaths, marriages, job starts or terminations. 2008: Start of my successful business. Stuff like that. Milestones.

We all know the personal, note-to-self cerebral label 2010 gets:

My beloved (I've been a fan since New York) San Francisco Giants are World Series Champions. 2010? Oh yeah. Easy. That’s the Giants’ improbable World Series year. 2010? SF. 2010? Giants. 2010? Sweet. Baseball World Champions. 2010. Forever beautiful.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

laughorism dot com

Buy now!

(Bye now.)

Limited time only!

(Isn't all time limited?)

Buy now at Laughorism.com.

(Shameless self-promotion.)

resolutionaries

Are you a resolutionary?

(Got the neologism from the Washington Post.)

I tend not to be a resolutionary.

But we've gone over this.

Resolutely.

Happy Sixth Day of Christmas

It's true.

Start with December 25 as the FIRST day of Christmas, not the last day of Christmas.

Six more days of Christmas left!

here came the sun

today in syracuse here came the sun echoing george harrison's refrain reframing reality here in brighter hues and ambient awareness resolution of detail almost forgotten lifting one's spirit by not so subtle surprise because i for one truly cannot tell you the last day of such clarion sunshine was it november it makes a difference doesn't it it seems to prohibit uppercase letters if nothing else but all else is up up up and who knows how real so called seasonal effective disorder sad is but whoa seeing solarity seeing warmth incarnate feeling rays of our system of solar radiation is itself enough to break one into a good day sunshine even in syracuse so let the wintry wind up bird puff up and sing soprano or whatever key of glee

pen ultimate haiku 2010 redux

icicles melting

dripping sheer fragile peril

hurling no warning

pen ultimate haiku 2010

pen ultimate: get it?

versus penultimate?

here you go:

sun melting snowbanks

World Series victors: Giants!

memory freeze-framed

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Facebook Ex-Spouse Friending Dilemma (FESFD)

As anyone who uses (plays, performs, applies, traverses, browses, becomes addicted to) Facebook (also known as FB) knows, Facebook likes to play matchmaker. FB is fond of suggesting possible matches worthy of the august term Friend. I am using the initial cap F because we're not just talking friends, we're talking Friends, referring to the proper noun reserved for FB's own brand of kinship, closeness, or "I just accept Friend requests because I want to assemble a large stable of Friends to prove I'm both hip and popular."

Lately FB keeps suggesting I Friend (the English major in me wants to say befriend, or perhaps beFriend) my former spouse. After all, FB tells me, we have 26 Friends in common. (And 23 of those are our offspring! Those were busy years. HAHAHAHAHA!) I am not sure what to do. It does not keep me awake nights. But I'm just wondering. Plus, I wanted to blog about SOMETHING.

This Facebook Ex-Spouse Friending Dilemma (FESFD) poses some delicate challenges of protocol and etiquette, at least for some former spouses.

  • Who makes the first move? In other words, who does the Friend requesting?
  • Why?
  • Is it wise?
  • How do current spouses or partners feel about this?
  • How do offspring (more warmly known as children or kids) feel about this?
  • What if Former Spouse A (FSA) requests that Former Spouse B (FSB) be a Friend and the request gets ignored or is rejected?
  • And is such "ignoral" or "rejection" neither an ignoring nor a rejection, but merely an act of prudence?
  • Does aforesaid Friending invite FSA and FSB into realms of discourse and quotidian detail better left unshared?
  • Has someone already blogged about this? (Probably).
  • Is it important?
  • Or trivial?
  • Is Facebook important?
  • Or is Facebook trivial?
  • Or should the question be more Boolean?

Sunday, December 26, 2010

heh heh heh, Hef

I just read on the AP wire [there's an old-fashioned term] that Hugh Hefner, 84, is engaged to Crystal Harris, 23.

How sweet.

Must be lust at first sight.

Or love at first pre-nup.

Tut-tut.

Tit for tat.

And all that.

Many happy returns, or whatever is the right phrase for these two, um, lovebirds.

(Look at me, trying to be all clever and laughoristic -- without success. Sometimes you just have to let the news speak for itself.)

zombie haiku

One of my Christmas presents is the amusing collection Zombie Haiku, by Ryan Mecum.

Quite curiously, the About the Author note says, "Before the plague, he worked as a youth pastor at a Presbyterian church in Cincinnati, Ohio."

Good for him, to have a sense of humor; or a sense of horror.

And good for the Presbyterians to permit a sense of humor and horror.

One wonders: If Mr. Mecum were affiliated with Rome, would he be summarily summoned there, directly or indirectly?

luscious . . .

. . . le Carre

yes, John le Carre's latest is a gem, every syllable, every twist and turn, every reflection and refraction, every crackling bit of interrogatory dialogue.

I venture to say it is among his best, but make that pronouncement prematurely, only residing on page 116.

Buy it.

Our Kind of Traitor.

Tell us if you agree.

Or not.

positing possibility

Seven posts in one day invites a comment I shall not be so rude as to make, which if I were to articulate it, might be a bit of braggadocio (is that how you spell it?) echoing back to my youth, my so-called salad days, whose statements are prone to excess and pomp anyway -- and which assume a form of fiction in the latter years.

solo haiku

crunched-snow bootprints gray

broken palimpsest portraits

eaten by salt, steps

into the virtual void

I wonder how many posts it will take before I can conjure one legitimate comment from somewhere on the planet, in any language, and without explicit invitation begging for validation? If I were to let loose with a slew of naughty, raunchy words, dub them keywords, would the SEO gods and goddesses, the SEO daemons, vouchsafe to reward me with visitations from kindred spirits? And would such visitation(s) (the Visitation, one of the mysteries of the Rosary, a mystery that salutes hospitality, radical hospitality) be meaningful in any real way, or merely cyber-community masquerading as touching me/them/you in some undefined but visceral, vital way? Too many words, too many syllables. So, into the virtual void, I tap tap tap upon the ivory keys of an off-white keyboard, wondering again that if I typed a string of sex sex sex sex sex sex [that secular pseudo-sacrament that knows no bounds] ad infinitum ahem sex sex sex sex someone in the former Soviet Union or one of its satellites would sneak a peak here and either smirk or confess or more likely instantly skip off to somewhere more scintillating, at least more graphic, photos, images, flash, kazow, kapow, firework crackle of pleasure's boulevards. Wasn't Pinocchio exiled to Pleasure Island? How hellish Disney made it, a Puritan streak running from Nathaniel Hawthorne straight to Anaheim or Orlando, not in bloom or in bloom, take your pick. If I write enough words, enough topics -- say, from Moby-Dick to the San Francisco Giants, from Central Park to Kazakhstan, someone's bell is bound to chime, someone's solipsism is apt to be tickled, don't you think? Speaking of thinking (or thinking of speaking), neurologists inform us that thinking and feeling go hand in hand, they are indivisible, so take that [insert vocative comma here] Mr. Descartes. And therefore as St. Stephen's Day or Boxing Day draws to a close, at least in some time zones, cue up the old anthem of the son, the Saint Stephen ode that the Grateful Dead sang out, the hymn to the sun, as night falls in swirling wintry wolf-whistle wind in the northern climes.

144

This is post number 144 of the year.

Whew.

I've got something like 35 to go just to equal last year's volume.

But his quantity paramount?

listlessness of lists

You see lots of lists this time of year, making them year-end lists.

Usually tidy numbers: 10, 15, 20. Rarely 17 or 11 or 12.

You see them on websites, in newspapers, in magazines.

You don't see too many null lists, though.

Here's one:




Fill in the blanks.

Now, THAT'S existentialism!

resolute

In nearing that time of annual resolutions, I am resolute in abjuring absolute (and relative) declarations of reform, reformulation, redress, and reinvention. No to resolutions, though in this space I have toyed with such promises in mid-year posts. No to self-will crusading onward toward millennial perfection. No to riveting reimagined reincarnations of the subjunctive self. Yes to acceptance. Yes to yes.

Carry on, Jevons

"Carry on, Jevons" sounds like the beginning of a British comedy of manners. To the manor born (not "manner," as people erroneously write), that sort of bit. Square jaw. Clenched. Smoking jacket. Leather-bound volumes. A glass of sherry (but none for abstinent moi).

But Jevons here refers to the Jevons Paradox. As David Owen (if you like smart contrarians, always look for him in The New Yorker) put it in "The Efficiency Dilemma," in the December 20, 2010, issue of The New Yorker magazine:

In 1865, a twenty-nine-year-old Englishman named William Stanley Jevons published a book, “The Coal Question,” in which he argued that the bonanza couldn’t last. Britain’s affluence and global hegemony, he wrote, depended on its endowment of coal, which the country was rapidly depleting. He added that such an outcome could not be delayed through increased “economy” in the use of coal—what we refer to today as energy efficiency. He concluded, in italics, “It is wholly a confusion of ideas to suppose that the economical use of fuel is equivalent to a diminished consumption. The very contrary is the truth.

Some, if not most, economists and environmentalists assert that the Jevons Paradox has little effect in the modern world. But, as Owen notes, no one has ever really studied all the variables that go into a macro-study. And it would be impossible to calculate. Owen says the Jevons effect is essentially the history of civilization. It happens all the time, in many ways.

It's only common sense, isn't it? Cheap gas? Hummers galore. Expensive gas? Less driving, smaller cars.

Let's extend the Jevons principle into more metaphorical realms, if you will:

  • More talk equals less thought.
  • Less thought equals more talk.
  • More blogging equals less originality.
  • More sex equals less pleasure.
  • More channels adds up to less entertainment.
  • More money results in more poverty.
  • More faith means more science.
  • One leap of faith begets a dance of doubt.
  • Two Kierkegaards tie one Buster Posey.
  • Three pas de deux surprise a guillotine of guilt.
  • Seventy-seven haiku hijack a hiatus of hilarity.
It is possible these are skewed conclusions, not proportionally propositioned or logically legislated.

That's okay. It's my venue.

In veritas veritate.

Age quod agis.

Or something like that.

As you were, Jevons.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

when in doubt, commatate

When I've got nothing else to say, I can always fall back on my old standby, the serial comma.

Having recently been in Philadelphia, I saw this December 5, 2010, headline (actually, a subheading; maybe there's another term) on the front page of The Philadelphia Inquirer:

"A year after The Inquirer revealed the crisis in city courts, judges and the district attorney have brought about far-reaching reforms."

There's nothing wrong with that sentence, nothing at all. I'm serious. BUT. BUT the prevailing absence of the serial comma sets up the modern reader (you) to be confused. You are led to expect that the phrasing is part of this construction:

"...city courts, judges [typically omitted serial comma] and the district attorney..."

But it's not.

If the NORM was the serial comma, you would never be lulled into thinking that, because you would expect that such a construction would have to be like this:

"...city courts, judges, and the district attorney..."

But as you read that perfectly correct sentence at the top, you tend to pause and get confused ONLY because of the persistence of those who do NOT use the serial comma.

Confused?

I'll walk you through this "offline" in the comments box if need be.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

the courtesies of rudeness

I pick up a newspaper at CVS, the local Post-Standard, 75 cents. The checkout counter has two or three registers open; people queue up and go to the next available cashier. Or perhaps they form a separate line in back of each cashier. I am standing in the back of an imaginary line, trying to discern where and how to check out. A young lady, presumably a Syracuse University student, approaches from my left. She is carrying, oh, maybe some cough drops, bobby pins, hair clips, deodorant. I don't know. Two hands holding smallish items. She calmly and directly walks in front of me, cutting ahead of me in this imaginary line. (Some cultures, we know, do not even hold to any semblance of a line, imagined or otherwise.)

"Oh, are you in line?" she asked, and when I nodded or spoke in the affirmative she responded as if she already knew this, as if it were a given that, yes, I was in line, why else would I be standing there?

But -- and I cannot prove this -- I got the sense that she wanted me all along to say, "No, you go ahead; go on," waving her on ahead of me; giving her the entitlement she felt she deserved.

Sometimes I will do this. If I have several items in a store and someone has one item, I let them through. Wait. Wait. I'm the person with one item, the newspaper, here.

As I waited the few brief moments before being called on, my line-competitor seemed to reflexively dart ahead of me -- as if we had not had the briefest of conversations earlier -- and then halt, inviting me silently to let her proceed. Perhaps my perceptions are wrong, but I had the keen sense that she was determined to be ahead of me -- and not because she was in a hurry. Just because. Or this was a rich fantasy played out in my imagination; something to blog about.

I bought my newspaper and, when prompted by the cashier, I agreed to contribute a dollar to a charity. I don't deny I was making a "statement," telling the woman in the "line" in back of me to think wider and larger. Yeah. Right.

Afterward, I was reminded of a little tussle I experienced at an SU football game, when I myself darted out in front of a guy quickly coming down the stairs at intermission. We exchanged words. I was seen as the rude on. I guess I did mean to slow him down, the way you want to slow down those people on the plane or are crazy trying to get their luggage from the overhead bins, only to stand there, blocking the aisles. But maybe in that case I was the jerk.

Perception.

Reality.

And then there are those who in traffic, for example near toll booths, smile, push ahead, barge through, wave, smile, and thank you -- thank you! as if you are so privileged and pleased to be sanctioning their discourtesy, as if you had a choice. Some marketing of rudeness!

Thursday, December 02, 2010

filthy lucre

November cold rain and wintry wind. En route to the bank on Jefferson Street in downtown Syracuse (on the way to withdrawing some cash), I spy a twenty-dollar bill on the wet sidewalk and notice it is but one of several bills, maybe four or five, maybe more, presumably the same denomination. I bend to pick up the lucky find, not quite thinking how my conscience will dictate handling or disbursing or saving or reporting or possessing this trove of cash or cache, take your pick. But before I can formulate a plan or even a rationale, as I am bending down to reach for the folded treasure, a man (I assume it was a man, not a mouse or a rat) rapidly swoops down in front of me, swooshes down in an arc with his arm, sweeps up the bills, merrily declares glee in words I can't recall, but that might translate roughly as "whoa! look what I found get out of my way these are the streets har har har seeya," and dashes off in front of me and to the left, down an alley called Bank Alley (but more aptly appellated Dumpster Drive or Blank Alley or Detritus Circle). I am arrested. I stop short. It is a stop-action animation of urban legend proportions. I never see his face. But get this: he is wearing a luminescent yellow vest because he is one of several downtown workers employed either by the city or the downtown beautification committee tasked with picking up trash. Right before my fecking eyes his job description broadens to pick up not only trash but also items signified by a word beginning with C that rhymes with trash, as in filthy lucre. I am steamed, amazed, perplexed, nonplussed, and faintly amused. I got to the bank's ATM and withdraw cash, legit cash. I walk down Bank Alley. No sign of him. I circle back on Warren Street. I spy one of the city or committee (rhymes again) workers with neon-yellow vest. Is it he? Not sure. This guy looks like he needs the filthy lucre desperately. He moves more slowly. Or is it the perp moving more slowly, filled with money in his pocket and contentment and one-upmanship in his bosom? And the only thing jangling in my own chest are a jumble of unspoken questions, such as: whose money was it? do they miss it more than Swoopman and me? what would I have said to Swoopman anyway? and if I were to have pocketed the moulah,what would I do or say? report it? to whom? and why? split the cash with Swoopman? take it, smile, and forgo going to the ATM?

Thanks for something to write home about, Swoopman.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The Officious Offalness of the Office

Two out of two Pawlie Kokonuts daughters are fans of "The Office," the television series (the American version, not the British, original rendition).

While I will while away an idle moment or two watching "The Office," I cannot claim to be a fan (nor a public enemy). (Notice how the previous sentence used "while" as a conjunction and as a verb? Mrs. Rivers of Burdick Junior High School, in Stamford, Connecticut, in the early 1960s, would be delighted that I can make this parenthetical statement.) Why don't I delight in "The Office"? It's simple: it's too much like Real Life (no, not the Albert Brooks movie "Real Life").

Who cares to relive the petty crimes of the cubicle cosmos? The accumulated humiliations perpetrated by hubris-brimming "leaders" and unmanageable managers?

Not I.

I don't miss it.

It would be weird, wouldn't it, in an Andy Kaufman sort of way, to portray in my own office of entrepreneurial independence the twisted power plays and poses of office life, all played by The Laughorist?

Yeah, it would be.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Into the Bright Night, Loudly (part 5)



Before joining the throng streaming out of our well lighted place, I paused at the last "window." Ignoring the prod to move it, move along, I soaked it in: the revelry, the players' jubilation, the crowd, the stadium, lights, the cheers, the emerald grass -- almost looking dew-laden. I paused. This is It. This is why you came, let it be "felt along the blood," to use Wordsworth's phrase. Felt forever, and now: the aftermath of a victorious Game 1 of the 2010 World Series.

Our little underground community continued to exalt but was being dispersed into a diaspora of evangelical true believers.

How to describe the exiting crowd? Raucous, rowdy, manic -- to be sure. But not mean-spirited, not yet. Simply riding a wave of tidal emotions. I made my way past the Juan Marichal statue and then headed toward the Willie Mays statue, icons of history, markers of long-suffering awaiting redemption. Two policemen were standing nearby, watching the crowd, not far from a tented stand where Fox broadcasters were. I blurted out to one officer about how far I had traveled, etc. When you are happy, you just want to tell someone, anyone, everyone. The policeman I was talking to got a nudge from a fellow officer and they had to tend to a commotion. Drunken young lady on the violent side. But no arrests. I apologized to the officer for interrupting his duties, but he was cool.

Then when I get to the Mays statue I see a bunch of activity, some buzzing and yelling. A clutch of young men has climbed and swarmed onto the statue, for some reason chanting "Fuck that shit!" The hostile sound of that remark puzzled me. Was it a rebuke to those who predicted the Giants would fail? A harsh jab at the national media? At the Texas Rangers? I mostly wrote it off to some sort of vulgar hip-hop anthem unknown to me. Next, one of the youths managed to climb atop Willie's shoulders, standing perilously above the cadre of celebrants, if we can still use that word. (I called Craig excitedly on his cell to give a firsthand report on how crazy things were.) Part of me wrote this off to pure excitement; the other part of me characterized it as pure disrespect. But it was "monumental" in the way that fallen statues of toppled dictators make for lasting images; fortunately, this did not end that monumental way.

Voices. Snippets of conversation. An old guy, in his eighties, trudging happily forward with the aid of a walker, accompanied by younger men, some of whom are ostensibly sons. "Oklahoma City," I hear. I counter with Syracuse. Did I hear Vancouver, or imagine it? And is this the type of conversation that is exchanged en route to or from Mecca?

I walked closer to the Fox outdoor broadcast tent, swarmed by chanting fans. One placard said something like: "Shut the Buck up," referring to the Fox master of monotone, Joe Buck. When I got bumped hard and realized it was some drunk falling into me, I knew it was time to go. Who knew how wild this would get? upon departing the premises, I was pleased to see that the Mays statue was no longer crawling with revellers and was not toppled.

I went to the AT&T Park windows that sell Muni tickets. $2. "Excuse me, I need to get to Van Ness. Out near the marina." "Take any one of these trains and get off at the fourth stop." I got conflicting guidance on the street, from cops and local citizens and whoever. "Walk a few blocks to Market." "Take the train." "Take the bus." I was tired, having been standing, I now realized, for who knows, seven hours? Worn out. Upon walking to the train platform, I saw a guy with a "Say Hey" jersey and we chatted. He seemed much more bothered about the statue takeover. I told him about recent books I'd read: "Willie's Boys" and "Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend" by James S. Hirsch.

The train was packed but orderly. I found a much-appreciated seat after one or two stops; talked with a woman who was a partial season ticket holder. Then she got off. When I got to my stop, I was terribly disheartened to find myself by the Walgreen's or whatever it was on Market near Van Ness, the very spot I had walked to on Tuesday after arriving from the airport on the BART. Very disappointing to a tired oldish man. I really thought, naively I guess, that I'd be near Van Ness by my hotel, near the marina. But I was still very much downtown. And it was quiet. A few people waiting for the bus, the same bus I took on Tuesday during rush hour. And quietness in a city is not as welcoming as lots of people, at least for me.

The bus was to arrive in 10 to 12 minutes. I took up conversation with a sane and sober young lady who had watched the proceedings at a party near the ballpark. Works for Salesforce, a marketing diagnostics firm I had had some small interaction with a few years ago. She spoke of hundreds, if not thousands, of employees at the company party. I was so tired. After she indicated she was headed to near my hotel, I suggested we share a cab, if we could. I held my hand out and after not too long, just before the approaching bus arrived, we had a taxi stop for us. Marnie and I shared the cab, I gave her $5, said goodbye, and walked into my spartan hotel room, aching to remove my shoes and lie down. The loud hum of silence.

I "wound down" by savoring Internet accounts of Game 1, trying to fall asleep in advance of a 6:45 a.m. trip to the airport the following morning (which would be the morning of Game 2).

Pleasant dreams indeed.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Through a Fence, Brightly (part 4)





Comparing our earthly existence to the next life, my namesake Saint Paul famously wrote, at least according to the King James Version, "For now we see through a glass, darkly." Well, the so-called Knothole enabled me and the other chosen few there to see through a fence brightly: the celestial dazzle of Game 1 of the 2010 World Series. The Knothole is simply a free viewing area behind right field of AT&T Park in San Francisco. Even the name evokes sentimental, Norman Rockwell-ish scenes of kids peering through a hole in a wooden fence to catch a free glimpse of baseball.

The Giants, at least theoretically, let in 100 to 125 people who stay for three innings and get shuffled out. So as I waited in line, I became part of a small community; you get to know a few folks. Some stayed; some bailed. Before the game, we saw the antics on McCovey Cove and then got soundly jolted by the roar of jets zooming by closely overhead as a part of a pregame display. Someone tossed a football from the Cove to us -- great arm, "sign 'em up for the Niners!" -- and and it
went back and forth, with dramatically good tosses, until it landed a second time in one of the upper pews of the festive baseball cathedral, and remained there. We heard bits and pieces of John Legend singing the National Anthem. In the early innings, I heard Tony Bennett -- really? in person? yes! -- singing "I Left My Heart in San Francisco," a song that left me quietly sobbing with joy last year after our first game at AT&T. I was on the verge this time, but held it off. In the line, I met Dennis and Linda from Modesto in back of me, and we learned about some similarities in career paths and our shared Giants passion. (They later skipped off to near the Willie McCovey statue, but it was a treat to get a call from them when we Won It All.) Others, who were nameless, shared reports from transistor radios, supplementing the information we gleaned from crowd silence or roars. It was like the 1950s with radios sneaked into school, hidden in desks. A gray-haired guy perhaps a few years younger than myself reported on the Giants falling behind in the early going, 2-0; scared looks crossed our faces.

The line shuffled along, very slowly, almost imperceptibly at times, or not at all. I left the line briefly at one point -- my place held for me by my new friends-- to walk toward the front just to see if anyone was selling tickets. Nope. I traded calls and texts not only back East but with San Francisco-area contacts and friends. Others in the line scouted ahead more toward the center field section, along our waterfront promenade, only to report ominously that people were being allowed in to the Knothole from that end. Confusing. Chaotic. A bit dispiriting, which is why some bailed. Such as the stolid guy in front of me, such as Dennis and Linda, and the relative of the fellow directly in back of me (they got separated, one without a phone).

Our hope perked up when the Giants tied it at 2, and soon we had moved up close enough to catch action on TVs we could watch through windows that appeared to be in luxury boxes within the stadium. But as we moved toward the middle innings, there we were still in line, not really knowing for sure if we would ever get a free glimp
se, feeling too much like herded livestock -- but eager and relatively happy livestock. I read later in USA Today that the Giants gave out wristbands for those awaiting free viewing. No such thing for Game 1. And as Freddy Sanchez, Aubrey Huff, and Cody Ross propelled us into a solid lead, exuberance rebounded. If the scheme of Knothole viewing were to hold true for us, we would view in the under-the-stands cubbyhole for the last three innings. But it really began to look iffy. I figured: hang in here; stay with it. And when Uribe's ball sailed out of our view, accompanied by raucous cheers and water cannon, we knew he'd hit a homer and we high-fived anyone we could reach, maybe twice.

Then we found ourselves in a railed in area, within a gated barricade. Good sign. Maybe there is some order to this. Then the guards were checking bags and seemingly ousting some people. One guy who was clearly on the promenade (but not in line) was now in the Knothole! Hunh? It appeared that he had cut in. So, our mini-community was encouraged when they started shuffling out the previous Knothole gang of 100 or 125. I confess I got a little nervous. I walked up to the security gatekeeper who was trying to keep order. "Hey, look, I came here all the way from Syracuse, New York, and..." "Don't worry; y'all will get in. Stop pushing, people. Hey!" It was a little frantic, not riotous but tense. But by the top of the 8th inning (alas, we did not even get in by the "allotted" 7th inning), our batch was filing in. "Hey, let those kids in first. Syracuse! Hey, you, Syracuse, come here." In. I texted my daughter. "In the Knothole."

I'd have to say the wait was worth it. You're in a cavern looking through a chain-link fence, so you're drenched in game light. As far as I can tell, you are at playing-field level. Exactly. You cannot say that about the most expensive seat in the house. You are directly in back of the right fielder and gain an unparalleled glimpse of the spatial challenges any outfielder must face. You get a tremendous sense of that difficulty. Nevertheless, as rough as it was, I had to laugh when someone in our group yelled to Vladimir Guerrero, "You'll always be a Montreal Expo!" Ouch. And he proceeded to make two errors. Vlad looked tired and beat. The Rangers looked tired and beat. But although we rejoiced in some more scoring we also withstood some customary "Torture" in the 9th, as the Giants' season has been termed.

And when victory was finally, inexplicably, and outrageously ours, our little family down there hugged and fist-bumped and high-fived (more than once, thanks) and howled and screamed and cried gloriously: the kid formerly on his father's shoulders right at the fence (from Reno?) (watched by a "stranger"); the Asian woman my age; the mother and daughter (or were they friends?) who teared up when the heard my little story; the young lady who is an architect, originally from Canada, I recall, who fed me game updates from her ear buds, thank you; the graying guy my age with the baseball cap; the young Latinos and Latinas; the young and old; the men and women and boys and girls; the single and married; the black and white; the Orange and Black.

And me.

We won Game 1! We beat Cliff Lee! We can win the World Series.




Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Returned My Heart (and Soul) to San Francisco, part 3







So I had agreed to meet Craig (Big Flavor, Magnus Flavorus), progenitor of the Giants-proud and smart oneflapdown77.com blog, at MoMo's around 2:30 or 3. At around 1 p.m. or so, yes, the atmosphere was galvanic, but it was still manageable. (The sequence may be off on some of this, but who will sue me?) I called my brother in Boston, a baseball fan, and told him of my media mugging and hogging camera time and tried to convey the scene. "Stay out of harm's way," he said. Harm? In paradise?

I strolled out to McCovey Cove, out on the other side, out by the statue. I felt bad I had not paid homage to it and to Stretch last year. Willie McCovey is kind of in exile out there; last year, I thought it unfair, a slight to position the statue out there. Not sure now. I like the view. Took some shots, had someone take a picture of me, saw a nice little kids' ballfield nearby. Does anyone use it? A Mercury News vendor had Fear the Beard placards. Beat the Rangers. Four for a dollar. I grabbed one for my younger daughter. Gave the guy a buck. It was a feeding frenzy, like sharks. Wild. You'd think they were gold nuggets. Then I went to the Dugout Store, having promised my wife and daughter some swag. It was already filled with excited customers, lines snaking confusedly throughout the store. I easily dropped over $100, plastic: three shirts, program/scorecard, and a lanyard with a plastic pouch for a World Series ticket I didn't have and knew I wouldn't and didn't care all that much. I might've been in the store close to an hour. And that was being fortunate enough to get into one of the shorter lines. Great chat with a few very smart fans, partial? full? season ticket holders who were bowled over hearing about my pilgrimage. "Had to do it. Wouldn't you?"

By the time I exited the store, maybe 1:45, nearly 2, the whole nature of things had changed. Guards were letting people in and out, lines were formed outside. It was crazy. I figured I'd better get over to MoMo's because I was getting hungry and I knew it was going to get crazier and I was thinking maybe Craig was already there. MoMo's was a mob. Bouncers. Party. Loud. Patio packed. Craig had said, "I'm 6 feet 6," and we both had seen photos of each other. In one email he said, "I'll have a Giants hat," and I was naive enough to take the bait, briefly. "You and 300,000 others." I got into MoMo's, which itself was not easy, with hurly-burly lines and bustling and hustling. I scoured the bar and the dining room. No Magnus. Every other guy looked 6 feet 6, with a Giants hat. So I thought maybe he had made reservations, and inquired at the front desk. "We don't have anything for that name." (His real name.) I stood outside on the steps. Overcast sky. Rowdy crowd. I don't drink and don't like bars and I almost just bolted. (One interesting side note: I think one of the bouncers almost mistakenly turned away the owner's trophy wife. Almost. Funny.) I decided to go inside and try to eat. After all, every place was going to be crowded. Ordered a burger and fries, soda. Two young ladies with Giants jackets who were sitting at the bar helped me to get the bartender's attention. They came from L.A.! Love the Giants and are huge Lakers fans! Strange. One of them let me take her seat while she roamed around and went to the bathroom. Perfect. A sitdown meal. Then I got a text, or was it a call? or both? from Craig. He was nearby. 2:30 or so? I walked across the street and stood by the Orlando Cepeda statue and we exchanged texts, and as I was calling him, there he was. Tall. Probably even 6'6''. He bestowed a necklace of black beads on me like a Hawaiian potentate conferring honors on a visiting diplomat from Iceland, or Syracuse. We must've walked around the whole stadium. Once. Twice? It was an instant connection, and we both marveled at what was taking place before our eyes. And we were part of it. No mistaking that. Things were getting even more amped up now. The Cove had literally dozens of kayaks and boats; it featured one boat with young curvaceous dancers gyrating against and around a mast quite, um, professionally to the beat of music.

Craig: "So you're just going to stay out here?" "Yeah." "That's great." He had a free ticket through the generosity of a boyhood friend (in fact, it was possible some other Flappers were going to meet us; didn't happen; logistics. And I had made tentative and potential plans to meet my friend Peter, a local guy, but that didn't happen either, though Peter and I spent valuable and valued time together Tuesday evening, including dinner at Bund Shanghai in Chinatown; Mongolian lamb. And did I forget to tell you that Nancy Pelosi and crew walked right by me just after I arrived at SFO on Tuesday? No, I hadn't told you; she was on her cell; I was on mine, talking to Denis in 'Cuse. But I parenthetically digress). Craig had to arrange to meet his friend inside the cathedral, the inner sanctum, but figured he'd get to see me again. "I think I'll just stay out here by the Cove and get in this line over here. This looks like the line for the Knothole; it looks as if this is the line." "Really?" "Pretty sure; if not I can just hang out here or even see through those archway openings a bit. Yeah. Enjoy the game." "All right, man." Before that, he got someone in the line to snap some pix. It was pretty funny. The dude was all fussy and bothered and put out and Craig gave it right back to him. "It's just a picture. I don't want to tire you out or anything." The guy just didn't get it. And we departed.

And thus began my standing in line for, what, three or four hours. Awaiting the pure voyeuristic delights of the Knothole. Maybe.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

I Returned My Heart (and Soul) to San Francisco, part 2

From my late-morning perch at Piazza Pellegrini, I proceeded to the iconic TransAmerica Building just because, and just because I had a client to meet with nearby. (Or what I thought was nearby.) (Hit the parallel bar thingy on your screen signifying "pause" for a sec. "Client"? Yes, ever since my visit in the summer of 2009 I had reached out and nurtured a possible relationship with a firm -- a relationship that finally bore some fruit several weeks before. Hence the legit use of "client.") (Hit the right-arrow symbol for "resume play.") Some high school kids dressed in Giants garb were sporting around the gardens at the base of the building, taking photos of each other, jubilant. ("Sporting"? My English lit prof in college declared this line by John Milton, in "Lycidas," the dirtiest line in the English language: "to sport with Amaryllis in the shade..." Really? OK. To each his own.) But you have to realize this: living in Syracuse, a black and orange SF hat is a treat, a conversation starter. "You going to the game?" I asked. "No; we're just taking pictures for a class." Fair enough. So, I walked down Montgomery, asked a stranger where Sansome was, hailed a cab, and instantly hopped into one. (I was so tired, I didn't even want to walk the five or ten blocks I need to travel. I didn't know that I had overshot my destination. Energy had to be saved for -- pause reverently this time -- the World effing Series!) I did indeed meet with some folks at the firm and even received a call there from another office, to confer on our project! Yikes! What a day already. (All the while, this little boy inside my chest is screaming, "Daddy, Daddy, take me to the game" even though game time was nearly five hours away.) I asked the receptionist for help in taking the bus to the ballpark -- not just any ballpark but AT&T Park. I walked to Broadway. Guy sitting on a metal bench. I sat on an adjoining metal bench. I asked a cop, "Is this the way to catch a bus to the game?" No need, of course, to explain which game. (Memory is faulty: was the policeman on a motorcycle?) At first, the cop did his best imitation of a New York City cop (insouciant dismissiveness), but as a bus approached (help me out, gang, the number 12?) he said, "Take that bus" and get off at so and so. Since it was not quite noon, the bus was mostly empty, a sprinkling of Giants fans. I immediately struck up a conversation with a lady bedecked with all things Giants, around my age, sitting near the back of the bus. "I guess I know where you're going." "I work there," she replied. Kalane told me she supervises the club level. Ushers. Keeps things organized. Cool. We traded stories about the season and her job, etc. She's a retired principal. Loves the Giants. "Say, if someone's brother's sister's cousin is having a baby and can't use their ticket, here's my card. Please call me." "Well, you never know," she said. "When my brother visited from Pittsburgh..." And, of course, I told her about my trip to Pittsburgh this summer, baseball road trip with two guys. She told me where we should depart the bus, and we did.

The street was electric. Already. Hawkers, gawkers, stalkers, talkers, walkers. You could just feel the radioactive currents in the air. ("Bye, Kalane. Call me, if you hear anything about tickets, okay? Great to meet you. And good luck to our Giants! You never know!") Yelling, hollering, buying, selling, partying, buzzing. And I was still a block or two from the park! And there it was! Better yet, there I was. Home. Three thousand miles from home, but home sweet tears-inducing home.

Movement everywhere. I soak in things I missed last year. Wall of fame placards, inscriptions on the Cepeda and Mays statues. For the heck of it, I inquire about tickets at one of the windows. I'm directed to other windows, which have a sign describing the inevitable SOLD OUT. I read quotes (not all the quotes; some dumbasses stubbornly sat at the base of the statue as if they were beggars) on the pedestal of the Willie Mays statue. I put my face in front of cameras. "Interview me!" "Why are you here, sir, and where are you from?" And I actually started -- almost -- choking up, telling about my Syracuse trip that stretched back to 1955 in Stamford, Connecticut. "Who are you?" I asked. "The Wall Street Journal online." "Good newspaper, but a bit too right-wing for me, but a good paper. I used to work at a paper; we loved your heds." She, the reporter, said, "Well, it's San Francisco. Thanks! Enjoy the game." She was visibly moved by my story. Or so I fantasized. Then, I put my mug in front of another camera. Publicity hog. Manic me. This time: NBC. The camera guy was from SU. I repeated my saga. (Wish I had given an explicit shoutout to The Flap; to this day, don't know if any of this aired anywhere.) Would I have enough energy for the game itself, now some four hours or more away? Oh yeah!

[more to come, including Kokonuts meets Big Flavor, a.k.a. Magnus]

Monday, November 15, 2010

I Returned My Heart (and Soul) to San Francisco, part 1


Encouraged heartily by my wife ("Go; you may never get the chance again; you've got to go out there"), I grabbed a cheap flight ($388) to San Francisco, from Priceline, from Rochester, staying in Henrietta, NY, the night before the early Tuesday morning flight. This flight was 56 years in the planning.

Game 1 of the 2010 World Series, the Fall Classic, was on Wednesday, October 27. I slept until 9 or so at the Heritage Marina Hotel on Van Ness ($69 a night) and strolled out to a crisp and bright day, turned right onto Filbert Street and started walking up the steep hill. I paused and looked left, looking downhill and seeing the Golden Gate Bridge in the morning sun. As I climbed, crossing Polk, Larkin, and Hyde in succession, I took photos and called friends back East. My voice was breathy from walking and sheer excitement, pun intended. At one of the crests (you think you’re at The Crest, and you go higher!), I was able to look in one direction and see the Golden Gate area and in the opposite direction see Coit Tower, Telegraph Hill. Having walked Filbert down to North Beach on the night before, I crossed to the left side of the street. Why? I recalled walking in a Japanese tea garden this past summer, back in the Syracuse area. The woman who owned the garden and the tea house admonished the visitors: “You cannot take the same path out once you’ve been in the tea house. You’ve already been that way. You must take a different way. You cannot go back.” A good lesson on this day, a good omen. So I walked down the sharp hill, on the left for most of the way, as opposed to walking downhill on the right side of the street the night before, seeing a co-op laundry and many Chinese people coming out of a former grammar school, now some sort of community college campus. I thought to myself, isn’t this supposed to be an Italian area? We’re not in Chinatown yet. So be it. I proceeded to Washington Square, turning right on Columbus Avenue. Piazza Pellegrini restaurant faced the park and Sts. Peter and Paul Church. I asked the fellow in a little caboose-type structure if I could have breakfast outside. Sure. I needed a newspaper. I walked in to the restaurant proper, where workers were getting ready for lunch. It was now 10:30 a.m. or so. “Do you know where I can get a newspaper?” “Yeah, there’s boxes right up the block.” “Thanks.” And I told him of my mission, why I was in San Francisco at that moment. The 2010 World Series. Without tickets, thank you. “We’re going to win,” he said. “All right!” And we talked about the Giants and the Long Wait and how we deserved it and it was our year and, yes, Tony Bennett, pictured on the wall, comes there, he’s a friend. Perfect. So I sat outside, robust coffee, croissant, and the Sporting Green. I fielded a call from my wife, trying to relate the scene before me. This delicious and anticipatory interlude, before the game, in front of Columbus Avenue, al fresco, was a highlight of my trip. Reading how Cliff Lee, the Rangers’ starting pitcher, when asked about our hitters, talked instead about our pitchers (as if the hitters did not exist!). Enjoying a late breakfast; soaking everything in. It was one of the moments in life when you know you will remember it as perfectly as it is, without idealizing or embellishing it. The Moment. I was tired from long travel and walking the day and night before, and this was a perfect haven before the gorgeous storm of emotion awaiting me at Game 1.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What I Got (And Didn't Get) From Church

We were late, after the Nicene Creed. But we were just as welcome whether we professed a set of any beliefs or not. Who is "we"? My daughter, 13; her friend, 14; and I, 61. Why were we late? (What is this, the Inquisition? The Inquisition is a favorite topic of anti-religionists, and rightly so. Of course, the anonymous touch of hospice caregivers, whether atheists or believers; the drunkards' welcome; the Samaritans' feeding of the hungry: these headline-hidden, quotidian acts are beyond inquisition and definition and category, but they are perhaps not as galvanizing for debate.) We were late owing to fatigue or lack of longing or just-plain habit or genetic determination. Go figure.

I wondered: Why here? Why now?

We had missed the Gospel. We did not hear the clarion call of good news, but our ears may have been too sleep-sodden to be roused. We heard no sermon. No one preached at us or to us. And I felt that as an absence, a missing out on erudition and insight.

As my mind wandered, looking out the window opening to the garden holding ashes of the dead and gone, the flowering crab apple, the trickling water, the redbud, in autumnal array -- a place where I will "rest"? -- I seized on the collective nature of the Eucharistic enterprise, the union of encomium. Where else do I (or anyone) do anything as a community? A sporting event, a lecture, a rally, a speech. Eating at the mall food court does not measure up to that, not quite. So, yes, we were there as a body, albeit with wandering minds and beliefs and disbeliefs and varying degrees of discrete charm of the bourgeoisie. The same can be said of lemmings, you say? I'd have to research that. And can you tell me whether lemmings are "happy"?

The Eucharist itself was a salty bread, not the papery wafer of my youth, when it would stick to the roof of my mouth as stubbornly as papal bulls cling to dogma and doctrine. A shared and silent meal. A respite among the hungry, the tired, the poor in spirit, though not poor in pocket. I sat in the pew after chewing and digesting this. And I tried to think of what? Nothing. No thing. Just tried to be grateful, in obedience to Eucharist's etymology, if nothing else.

And while we stood for the final hymn, I was suddenly nudged, elbowed by my daughter.

Look, and you shall see!

To the left, the shock of the new, or at least the unexpected: at first I figured it for a calico cat soft-pawing among the dead, among the quick, among the leaves of those left. But no! A red fox! Vulpes vulpes. And then just as quickly gone. An apparition? A natural nativity of nowness? A benediction of mirabile visu?

Amen to this sacrament of the ordinary, this all-too-predictable surprise brought to us by St. Charles Darwin & Company Ltd.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

social dyslexia and the 'alphabet of grace'

Yesterday, I heard a friend use the term "social dyslexia." Finally, a phrase to capture (alas, excuse!) the long litany of my faux pas (is that the correct plural?). Yes, I've lived a life (so far) of transposed social letters, reversed meanings, unread or misread context clues, misspelled (and mis-spilled) emotions, (parenthetical posturing), and improper "subject-verb agreement" in the grammar of social mores and conventional appetites. My social dyslexia has plagued by relationships at home and work and play, a "boobonic" dis-ease cured only by time and repentance and, eventually, insouciant acceptance. If my social dyslexia has lowered my comprehension scores in the reading of life's chronicles, I've surrendered to it, serenely succumbing to the alphabet of grace (to borrow a grand phrase from Frederick Buechner), no matter the sequence of those belles lettres.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

seven words

Elegant simplicity:



"Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."


That is the essence of Michael Pollan's eater's manifesto. Aside from the cogency of its message, you sure can't miss its clarity and single- mindedness. Seven words. Simple.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

10 quotes on verbs, and other syntactical structures

  1. Pork is not a verb. -- Bart Simpson
  2. Life is a verb. -- Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  3. Theater is a verb before it is a noun, an act before it is a place. -- Martha Graham
  4. Love is a verb. -- Clare Boothe Luce
  5. Every sentence he manages to utter scatters its component parts like pond water from a verb chasing its own tail. -- Clive James
  6. God, to me, it seems, is a verb, not a noun, proper or improper. -- R. Buckminster Fuller
  7. The whole of nature, as has been said, is a conjugation of the verb to eat, in the active and passive. -- W.R. Inge
  8. If there were a verb meaning 'to believe falsely,' it would not have any significant first person, present indicative. -- Ludwig Wittgenstein
  9. Write with nouns and verbs, not with adjectives and adverbs. The adjective hasn't been built that can pull a weak or inaccurate noun out of a tight place. -- William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
  10. I've always loved the flirtatious tango of consonants and vowels, the sturdy dependability of nouns and capricious whimsy of verbs, the strutting pageantry of the adjective and the flitting evanescence of the adverb, all kept safe and orderly by those reliable little policemen, punctuation marks. -- Dennis Miller

20 answers

"The answer is in the question." -- Zen Saying.

Zen Calendar notation for September 28, 2010.

  1. green
  2. red
  3. sometimes
  4. half of infinity
  5. the other half of infinity
  6. sententiousness
  7. serial comma
  8. tabloid
  9. aural
  10. Kazakhs cordially courting Cossacks
  11. perch
  12. el Greco
  13. Picasso but not Kierkegaard
  14. Dali
  15. a grid of intersecting boulevards masquerading as haiku prayer wheels
  16. pious pies of colorful pi
  17. patrician accents with square jaws on Sutton Place, Manhattan
  18. soberiquets
  19. anonononymity
  20. silencio

Friday, September 24, 2010

lobal warming

not much firing in the cerebral spheres

cool to the touch

of words

lapses in the synapses

hungering for syllables

warming up

for all that jazz

annoying me at Freedom

honey locusts swaying

not too much

on my pate

Sunday, September 19, 2010

orchard

to walk amid the aisles
cathedral crispness
a ladder
branches with baubles
red and reddening
green and yellowing
beckoning bites
to reach up Edenward
Macouns Cortlands
Honey Crisps Macintoshes
Galas of Galas
sampling the goods
bursting with appleness
stepping amid rot
mushy decadence
ripe for the picking
how can this be
reach even
overreach
arch
blessed fruit
of the womb of this golden Saturday
the miracle of the moment
now is the time
see
grab
bite
taste
chew
swallow
smile
sigh
amid the boughs

Friday, September 10, 2010

LL SAINTS

Sign on Tipp Hill:

LL SAINTS

on the building of All Saints School.

Which prompts these musings and queries:

Is the missing A scarlet?

Is [nothing] sacred?

Is it symbolic of the imperfection in ALL of us, including saints?

Is it a backward, wry comment on corporate influences, just shy of being an LLC?

Does it refer to the Little League?

Or a new hip-hop group, with LL standing as a shortened form of L'il, itself an abbreviation of "little"?

Or is the blank space before "LL" a meditation on emptiness and spiritual surrender?

beyond

the bedroom wall [Beyond the Bedroom Wall, by Larry Woiwode; great title; great book]

the pale

hunger

tired

the beyond

the blue horizon

the grave

words

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

where have I been?

Where have I been, in thought, word, or deed?

I've been to:
  • Brantingham, New York
  • Lowville, New York
  • Ava
  • ignoring Facebook
  • viewing Giants games
  • commenting at the Giants blog (OneFlapDown77)
  • visiting Len Assante at the Delavan Center
  • watching artists' paint dry on the rail overpass on West Fayette Street, Syracuse, New York
  • admiring Brantley Carroll's powerful photos of African-American fathers and sons
  • drinking coffee at Freedom of Espresso, at Franklin Square
  • finishing Martin Amis
  • loving poetry by Bob Hicok
  • Skyping with my brother Jack
  • Skyping with Warren
  • moving Evelyn to Philadelphia
  • moving around the streets of Philly with Yann and Evelyn
  • making vegetable soup with Beth
  • sleeping
  • waking
  • walking
  • writing gerunds
  • not attending the Glenn Beck rally (no brownshirts available in the closet from the 1930s)
  • editing a doctoral dissertation on the history of the Cayman Islands
  • revising webpages for an international environmental and infrastructure firm
  • watching webpage get little red dots under it alleging a misspelling
  • getting ripped off at Santillo's at the Great New York State Fair when I could've ad Gianelli's sausage
  • picking up Adri after she sprained her ankle
  • going to the Blarney Stone with her at a fund raiser for coach Lutwin's kid and hs wife whose home burned on Tipperary Hill
  • lost in space
  • sweating
  • cutting hedges
  • mowing the knee-high lawn, which sounds vaguely Chinese
  • asked Ethan about his birthday
  • taking Beth to the ER, which they cal the ED, after she got conked on the head with a soccer ball; she's okay
  • seeing Jenny, down in the Crouse basement
  • cooling off
  • Eucharist at an Episcopal Church
  • haiku syncopations
  • lurid dreams
  • delighting in the miracle of the late-growing sunflowers of surprise, the God of Surprises
  • in the dream of the night's rain, the rhythm of raindrops

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Monday, August 23, 2010

Adirondack haiku

stately pines drying

needles carpet chipmunk paths

diving loon absent

Sunday, August 22, 2010

to touch rice

In the centuries-old tradition of sushi apprenticeship, years must pass before you can "touch rice."

Those wishing to learn to master sushi must spend years watching and observing; in the meantime, they wash dishes and mop floors.

Times are changing, and some sushi academies are letting students "touch rice the first day."

I submit that the ancient traditions are likely to fade, losing out to the immediacy of the modern age -- the tyranny of instant success.

Patience is a casualty of the age of immediacy. Patience, from the Latin word meaning to bear, to suffer.

We can't bear to wait, to suffer; we're insufferably impatient. (Or maybe it's just me.)

Take it a poetic, metaphorical step further, this delay, this deferral before one can touch rice.

(Reminds me of how decades ago the Boston Celtics routinely made rookies sit on the bench for a while -- the whole first year? -- before they could actually play in a game. Maybe that is still true to a degree, but I doubt it.)

So, tradition says the sushi maker waits years before being allowed to touch rice. By metaphor and analogy, can we say that these delays are long gone, too?

-- To touch the baseball

-- To hold the pen

-- To tap the keys

-- To fire the gun

-- To start the engine

-- To tell the student

-- To hold the chalk

-- To diagram the sentence

-- To touch the heart

-- To say the prayer

-- To take the step

-- To hold the brush

-- To click the mouse

-- To hear the confession

-- To roast the coffee

-- To make the tea

-- To wear the ring

-- To announce the score

-- To state the opinion

-- To drive the train

-- To touch metal

-- Smell honey

-- Eat locusts

-- Hold breath

-- Exhale

Friday, August 20, 2010

Teapot Dome Mystery, Revisited.



And now the teapot is just as mysteriously gone.

Vanished.

Not a trace.

But the coffeepot is there.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Teapot Dome Mystery




Picture this.

An abandoned house.

Out of nowhere a teapot and a coffeepot appear on the front steps.

Handsome.

From where?

By whom?

Why?

Tell me.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

think feel see

"The wise reject what they think, not what they see."
-- Huang-Po

But who said I am wise or aspire to be or that I think or even see? I get it, what you are saying, H-P. Or at least I think I have the willingness to be willing to get what you're saying, or said, or wrote in masterful brushstrokes of calligraphy, maybe hundreds of years ago. (Who are you, H-P?)

Thinking? What is it? In Descartes' Error, neuroscientist Antonio Damasio makes the case that neurologically speaking thinking is not divorced from thinking; we can't think without the feeling supplied in all those neurons that make up the central nervous system; the popularly believed thinking vs. feeling dichotomy does not exist in anatomy, in our biology.

But I get, or seek to get, what you're getting at, H-P.

See things for what they are feel the world for what it tastes touch the tongue of reality's open secrets lick the corners of the cosmos on the blade of grass smell the earwax of my dumb questions.

It has been said, "you need a meeting." A meeting of mind and matter, not mind over matter; a marriage of true minds and emotions, not divorced or legally separated from out there or in here, from the business of is-ness.

Something like that, but not quite, H-P. Calling H-P.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

They Are Watching You Watching This

"We never don't know anything about someone."

-- John Nardone, chief executive of [x+1]

de-anonymization

Have you been de-anonymized? You probably have been de-anonymized, a victim of de-anonymization. I too have probably been de-anonymized. No, this has nothing to do with having one's anonymity broken in Alcoholics Anonymous or another 12 Step anonymity program. As reported this past week in The Wall Street Journal, this is about what They know about us. We learn that only 33 "bits" of information are needed to identify someone. stuff like ZIP codes, gender, birthdates, income. The WSJ article tells us how a data-mining company called [x+1] in a fifth of second, one click, tells Capital One a whole bunch of information from your computer so that Capital One offers you a credit card tailored to that data.

So, if [x+1] does this we can only imagine what Blogger, Yahoo, Google, the Department of Homeland Security, Tiffany & Co., ESPN, HSBC, ABC, MSN, Apple, USPS, Facebook, et alia can discern, ascertain, intuit, estimate, suggest, guess, or retain.

Identity theft?

How about the theft of anonymity, the loss of the loss of identity? How about the loss of the illusion of privacy?

Surprised, anyone?

Dear Anyone,

We know who you are.

p.s. "De-anonymization" is one of those nouninization words that tend to annoy me; one of those words carrying a freight-train's worth of syllables, Germanic-like, trudging along and running over a bunch of crisp and simple verbs.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

contractions

Someone we know is about to have a baby; the term of pregnancy is nearing completion. She had been having contractions, and now through the wonders of modern science her contractions have, well, contracted. Her contract with nature, though, reads, somewhere in the fine print, that Nature will have the last say about her baby's first say, and when it will be. Contractions. I was thinking: Why call them contractions? Pregnancy is all about expansion, ain't it? Just look at the impending mama, the pregnant, the full, the expanded version of womanhood. Why not call contractions "expansions"? Of course, being a male, I was reminded that contractions are called contractions because the uterus is contracting. Well, okay. If you say so. But those contractions still complete the whole expansion regime, don't they? Grammatically, contractions are another matter altogether, being the combining of two words and then using an apostrophe to stand in for missing letters. so, even grammatically contractions contract, but do they really? It's more like they are a shortcut to expansion. (Don't can't won't hasn't didn't aren't isn't hadn't and so on; find me some that are not so negative.) So there we are again: contractions masquerading again as expansions. More or less. Depending. On a letter here or there. Or one's viewpoint. So, here's to

c o n t r a c t i o n s

contrarily speaking.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

haiku triptych

trembling cornflower
July's Saturday breeze blows
murmuring waterfall

bellowing bullfrog
water skimmers step-dancing
pond ripples echo

black wings on water
meandering reflection
I look up -- empty!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Monday, July 12, 2010

nocturnal chronognosia

I wake up nightly to perform human-wastewater-relief duties (HWRD). (With that acronym, you can tell I do a lot of technical editing in the environmental field.) Typically two to three times per night. Could be more, could be less. Rare not to obey nature's mandates at least once nightly. But here's the strange thing. I walk into the bathroom with a guess in my head as to what time it is. Then I look up at the clock. (If I am extremely tired or have retired very late, I just don't look at the clock. It would freak me out too much to see how little I have slept.) Get this: invariably my guess of the time is accurate to within a few minutes! Oh, sometimes I'm off, maybe even by as much as an hour, but that's rare.

I have termed this phenomenon nocturnal chronognosia.

(Do I have the same uncanny ability during the day? Do I have diurnal chronognosia? I'd have to forgo the wearing or consulting of wristwatches, etc. to find out. Somehow diurnal chronognosia just does not seem as interesting.)

Hmmmmmmmmmmm.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Friday, July 02, 2010

detour de la tour

To the left off West Fayette Street, just past Hank's auto repair, is a pathway through the railroad right of way, a clearing in the brushy overgrowth. I took it. Mid-day. Bright. A track of rusted rail, not rolled on in a long time. To the left a portion of track stopped by chain-link fence. Ain't no train comin' down that track. At the end of the line, a trompe l'oeil, a trick of the eye, the green domes of Saint John's Ukrainian Catholic Church, like some iconic Oz endpoint, omega. Then the back walls of an old warehouse or factory festooned with a feast of colorful and raging and jubilant graffiti. A flatbed railcar, still, sitting in the sidetrack, literally sidetracked. How does one lose track of such a huge piece of metal, now museumed? Then unrusted and silvery tracks. Cross them. No rumbles. Strange sight lines of the city of Syracuse to the right and the neighborhood of Tipperary Hill to the left. A quiet air of menace and danger and serenity and secrecy. I head left, toward Erie Boulevard West, above and coming toward South Geddes. The sounds of traffic. The pathway from West Fayette and Geddes blocked by concrete boulders the authorities have placed to stop folks like me and the kids going to and from Fowler. A black squirrel, or is it a rat, can rats be black?, possibly pauses briefly to scout me and then languidly scurries over the barricade (if scurrying can be slowed to a languid pace). A small clearing to the left, toward civilization, toward the Hess station and Arby's and the intersection repeatedly overrun by those who ignore the red. The electric shock of seeing a fellow, possibly Latino, teens? twenties?, sitting near the rail, crouched, smoking a cigarette or a joint, like a Thirties hobo, looking sad or contemplative or merely safe, secure in a refuge above the fray.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

plywood

Joseph Heller started his novel "Something Happened" with as memorable an opening line as you're going to find:

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

Well, I get the willies when I see plywood.

Especially plywood replacing windows.

You don't want to see plywood in your neighborhood unless it is part and parcel of a healthy renovation or construction project.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

new year's resolutions

I typically do not make any new year's resolutions. Why would I? At least not out loud or written. So, how y'all doing with yours now that the year is just about half over? Hey, you can throw in the towel on the 2010 resolutions, if you like, and begin drafting the 2011 resolutions, ok?

Fine by me.

the affective effect of affectation

In the Tuesday, June 22, 2010, print edition of The New York Times, the newspaper announced that Arthur S. Brisbane had been named the paper's next public editor, or ombudsman, for a three-year term.

Bravo, Mr. Brisbane.

The article in The New York Times said:

"Mr. Brisbane, who is the grandson of the legendary Hearst editor Arthur Brisbane, said he expected to tackle a wide variety of subjects during his three-year term, including the affect on The Times's journalistic standards of publishing articles for the Web on tight deadlines." [emphasis impertinently added]

Mr. Brisbane may want to begin by tackling the person who ran off with The Times's style manual, or at least the page that covers affect versus effect.

[Note: Well, maybe Mr. Brisbane did tackle the appropriate editor. Somebody did. Immediately after I posted this, I checked the Permalink, as The Times calls it, to the original story. Someone had corrected the word, to good effect, at least for the permanent online version. Fair is fair. Bravo to The Times for making things right. I might have looked like a persnickety fool who was wrong if I did not check that Permalink. This is restorative. It is refreshing to learn that someone saw this and fixed it. It affects me positively, but it certainly does not impact me! Insert emoticon of your choice.]

Thursday, June 24, 2010

walkin' in the rain

The song was hot. The Shangri-Las who sang it were too (too hot). Walkin' in the rain. Lo, these many years I thought the sound of rain on a car roof or any tin roof was among the most evocative and lovely on the planet. Numero uno. Then, on Tuesday, I took an umbrella from the porch, was it blue and white or pink and white, slightly in need of repair with ribs unattached to fabric, and walked down Whittier in a torrent, a bit torrent of raindrops pelting the umbrella, with this laptop safely tucked in my backpack on my back. The exquisite pounding of the summer shower on the canopy of safety over my head. The delicious rain we are divorced from in our cars, SUVs, trucks, buses, trains, planes, apartments, homes, schools, universities, factories, country clubs, office buildings, coffee shops, garages, grocery stores, megamalls, and convenience stores open 24/7. This rain on the umbrella. My very own rain. My personal sound machine. A memory flash from the 1980s, when I worked in NYC: I was walking to work, at Random House, and a car drove by and inundated a young lady, probably also on her way to work. A taxi just launched a wave right over this woman. Kapow! Was she pissed and enraged? No, she laughed! She looked delighted. I remember that, I don't think I'm conjuring it up from nothing and nowhere, and even right then I got it. She got It. It with a cap T, oh did she get It and thank you. And as my friend Dr. Shiva said later Tuesday, "And why not? God who gives us the sunshine also gives us the rain. They are both from God." Rain, another good song.

Monday, June 21, 2010

as if, or not

I'm scratching my head over the term "anosognosia," not as if I could pronounce it.

But, yes, denial or unawareness of a disability.

Or denial or unawareness of problems, or tragedy.

Yes, I can see where it's pandemic.

This from the Times:

ERROL MORRIS: Yes. Maybe it’s an effective strategy for dealing with life. Not dealing with it.

David Dunning, in his book “Self-Insight,” calls the Dunning-Kruger Effect “the anosognosia of everyday life.”[10] When I first heard the word “anosognosia,” I had to look it up. Here’s one definition:

Anosognosia is a condition in which a person who suffers from a disability seems unaware of or denies the existence of his or her disability. [11]

Dunning‘s juxtaposition of anosognosia with everyday life is a surprising and suggestive turn of phrase. After all, anosognosia comes originally from the world of neurology and is the name of a specific neurological disorder.

When people use the phrase, "it's a disease of denial," I think: doesn't everyone do that with every disease, and with death, to some extent?

Just thought I'd share this.

Cheers.


Saturday, June 19, 2010

water(brain)washed

I went to a high school graduation today. At Bishop Ludden Junior-Senior High School. Naively, very naively, I was surprised, though shouldn't have been, to see vending machines near the entrance, in the hall. For beverages. No, no, not beer. Nothing like that. Juices and stuff. And water! Bottled water. Commercially bottled water. Can you tell me why? Nearby, in the hallways, were several water fountains. In fact, the gym was hot so I made use of those water fountains two or three times during the ceremony. The water was fine. Perfect.

I noticed how people were happy to shell out money to get bottled water from the machines. That's how brainwashed we've become. The water I drank from the clean water fountains was likely cleaner than the bottled water. Most people do not realize, or accept, that municipal water standards are typically stricter than the standards for bottled water. The water from the fountains was pure and clean and cold and tasty. And free. (Not counting taxes or fees, but I don't live in that town; maybe my county taxes figured into the equation.) We'll say virtually free. The point is, municipal water is way cheaper than commercially bottled water.

Of course, people who felt that they'd be repeatedly thirsty could've brought a container (as can school kids, presumably). Or we can -- get this -- walk (!) to a water fountain.

Syracuse-area water is among the best. Why does anyone have to buy water bottled by Pepsi or Coca-Cola?

Why?

Marketing, brainwashing.

Now, kids at Bishop Ludden, those of you who have not yet graduated, here's an Earth Day project for next year: unplug and empty those vending machines. Demonstrate. Boycott. Stop using bottled water.

Stroll to the water fountain.

Now that's environmental radicalism.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Bloomsday blogaversary sentence

Pawlie, on the fourth anniversary of his blogging inauguration, took a night stroll without the dog, this time, and under starless, clouded cover, taking slow steps with squeaky shoes, soaking in the aftermath (the natural algorithm of I'll Go Rhythm) of this morning's curtain of delicious downpour, wondering where to find welcome in these freight-train-echoing hills and behind these doors, mourning losses unnamed and unspoken, and interrupted by the stray grammar of fireflies.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Bloomsday warmup sentence

Turtle-head popping out of his (hers, really) auto-mobile, Pawlie sniffed honey locust blossoms impersonating fecund cat piss unperfuming the Plum Street corner of Franklin Square, the smearedsmudged petals slipperating the sidewalk, cat pee it stung like, but no felines incite, only the humankind (and not so kind claws bared) just past noon, no priestly bellsballs clanging.

Monday, June 14, 2010

the unflagging flagness of flag day

Flag Day. June 14. As a schoolkid, flags galore, a parade around the school. Then, in the Sixties, the flag was appropriated by the "America, love it or leave it" crowd, meaning the crowd that brooked no dissent, that wanted blind allegiance during an unpopular war, the crowd that seemed to say, "The flag means this and only this or else you are un-American and disloyal" and cue the music and the bromides and the jingoism. There were backlashes to all that, ranging from flag burning (which I opposed and still oppose and don't get, but still believe in freedom of speech even if I radically disagree with such speech or expressions of speech) to clothing of flag designs, on undies or kerchiefs or dresses or ties. One person's honoring the flag was seen as blasphemous by another, and vice versa. Then right after 9/11, we put a flag up on our house. Proudly, defiantly, gladly, collectively, sadly, yes, patriotically. Our hillside street on Tipperary Hill, in Syracuse, looked picture perfect with flags rippling at dawn or dusk. But should we have castigated a neighbor if they chose not to fly a flag? No, and we did not. But I myself felt it really was a time, like my childhood, when the flag was a true unifier, when it represented a huddling of a family under a protective shelter, a collective cloak of armor and quiet pride. That's just me. For some, it was a rallying symbol of jingoistic and simplistic revenge, or would-be revenge. I guess. I can't read minds. Today? I don't know. I think the right still likes to appropriate the flag for exclusionary and militant purposes. When I saw American flags waving in Berlin while Obama spoke or in Chicago when he won, I thought that maybe we were over with parochial possession of the flag's meaning. Don't get me wrong: it would be no counter-victory for broad-minded patriotism if the left seized the flag for its own agenda to the exclusion of others (not sure, really, how that would work). The flag is broad, its stripes sweep outward. Its stars are in a wide firmament, its colors are of multiple hues. May it stand for the values no one owns alone but that everyone embraces in a civil and free society (don't forget the civil in civilization).

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Bloomsday

Bloomsday's a-coming, and it's the anniversary of this blog, fittingly fit and fiddle faddle filial familially.

presolstice haiku

rolling emerald

sonorous robin's lament

dusky cumulus

Thursday, June 03, 2010

vacuum

My biological purgatorium event went fine, thanks.

You might infer, from the paucity, nay, the nullity, of comments to my posts that no one reads this, that these postings reside in a solipsistic vacuum, as it were.

You might think that, but, nay, it is not quite so.

I have data showing that people from all around the world visit this blog.

They may be mum, but, um, they're my mums.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

purgatorium

I purged my office of months, if not years, but not decades, of stuff: bills, notes, memos, receipts, solicitations, ads, magazines, articles, cards, minutiae, flotsam, jetsam, effluvia, and other papers. "Purged" is only partially accurate: many items were tossed into a paper bag that will go to the curb for recycling (and then where?); other items went into folders -- folders marked with a handwritten identifier, folders I'll probably never consult. So, why not toss the stuff?

This document purging was preparation for some tidy projects coming up; call it a rolling up of the sleeves, figuratively speaking, to mix metaphors.

The paper winnowing curiously coincides with a procedure tomorrow that requires a winnowing of the human plumbing system. Yay. It's not too bad, not as invasively cathartic as the procedural prep years ago.

Purgatory. That was a tough concept as a kid. "Let me get this straight. It's like hell but not quite forever. Do they tell you it's only for a couple trillion years?" And you wonder why I became an Episcopalian?

Stras Wars

I'm ready for Stras Wars!

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

fecund storm

We are adrift in seeds. Seeddrift. (No, this is not a digression degenerating pornward. Pornward, now there's a new word. Or maybe not.) You see the breeze blowing puffy white fertility carriers, with pockets of accumulation in corners or dusting the tops of unmown grass. Cottonwoods? Tulip trees? Dandelions? Swirls and surficial saturation of potential fertilization, risk-averse, harbingers. Bingers (as in binge-ers) of fecund possibility, riding the crest of natural market conditions.

Monday, May 31, 2010

quiet memorial

As you enter Burnet Park via Burnet Park Drive, just off Coleridge Avenue (so many authors celebrated on Tipperary Hill's street names! Coleridge, Tennyson, Whittier, Tompkins, Lowell, Emerson, Bryant), you see a stone slab, maybe six feet high, dedicated to those servicemen who died in World War II. It is a simple and quiet memorial. It has the words "hallow" or "hallowed" on it. It has the word "neighbors" on it.

And each year for Memorial Day, someone, quietly and dutifully and anonymously, makes sure that there is a flag in each flowerpot on either side of the monument, and red and white nasturtiums in the flowerpots, and red begonias in the flowerbed in front of the marker with two or three dozen names of the fallen.

I may be wrong as to what kinds of flowers those are, but I am not mistaken regarding the devotion of this person or these persons.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

walky talky

and if there is a silence presumably it must have its opposite so here is a walky talky outburst of today's footsteps and missteps from the sand at Verona Beach (were as many as two gentlemen from Verona? spying bikini-clad beachgoers?) to the shores of Oneida Lake, from the windswept groves of Sunday, to the not-yet memories of Monday memorialized et cetera et cetera blah blah either or this or that before or after age quod agis

[ ]

this is a silence between posts

silence

The sermon was about space.

And silence.

Space on walls in a gallery, allowing room for the paintings to live and breathe, as it were, or as it is.

The space between words or sounds, which call silence.

Oddly, he spoke of John's Gospel and the Word. And the Silence eternal before the Word. Then, curiously, the eucharistic prayer said something like, "Your Word has never been silent."

My lawyerly mind (I'm not a lawyer, though) said to myself, which is it?

Why can't my zen mind say: why does it have to be either/or (the title of a Kierkegaard work)? Why can't it be both?

(Grammar purists might tell you that the slash, or virgule, is used improperly above.)

Silence.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

church window haiku, outside Saint David's


flowering crabtree
rock on rock water trickles
still chipmunk listens

resigned to re-signation

"Welcome to Tipperary Hill."

It is clarion clear now, yellow letters on a green background, a tocsin call to cordiality, a welcome, a radical hospitality.

The welcome sign of Tipperary Hill has been spruced up, freshened.

You are welcome.

You're welcome.

Thank you.

Thanks. And when you think of it, there is nothing more gratifying than acceptance, nothing more welcoming than your being greeted and warmly regarded just as you are.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Funny Googlenopes

Herewith, with full credit and attribution to The Washington Post, are some very amusing Googlenopes:

Report from Week 865 of The Style Invitational

in which we sought yet more Googlenopes -- phrases that still yielded that "no results found" icon when you offer them to the Universe's Biggest Search Engine. Once again, some of the thousands of 'Nopes submitted were just convenient misspellings of names. For all the results below -- which were still unique at press time -- the phrases were entered within quotation marks. Capitalization didn't matter in the searches.

Several entrants noted to the Empress that they were more amazed by the phrases that did produce a few hits, such as "National Beet Day" (discovered by Tom Kreitzberg) or "the wisdom of Tom Cruise" (noted by Russell Beland). These have been called Googleyups, and yes, we'll have to get to them. (We have already done Googlewhacks, in which there is exactly one hit.)

The winner of the Inker

Both "Nobody understands me like my husband" and "Nobody understands me like my wife" (Mark Richardson, Washington)

2. the winner of the nine-inch-long black gummi rat:

"I was persuaded by the picket sign" (Dan Steinberg, Silver Spring)

3. "President Obama wigs" (Mike Turniansky, Pikesville, Md.)

4. "I lost lots of weight by eating better and exercising" (Sheri Tardio, Prince Frederick)

None: The Less -- Honorable mentions

"Lady Gaga wore a modest" . . . (Jeff Contompasis, Ashburn)

"Muhammad Halloween masks" (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

"I always lift the toilet seat for my husband" (David Thorne, Washington, a First Offender)

"Now I understand all of 'Lost' " (Craig Dykstra, Centreville)

"He's so spacey his brain farts cause global warming" (Roy Ashley, Washington)

"We've decided to name our baby Eyjafjallajökull" (Dan Gordon, Arlington)

"The Vatican reversed its policy on" . . . (Dan Ramish, Washington)

"How to style your hair like Rod Blagojevich" (Steve Offutt, Arlington)

"Hiking the Appalachian Trail with your wife" (Steve Offutt)

"Find me an Amway dealer" (Russell Beland, Fairfax)

"The GOP leadership sought a compromise" (Anne Paris, Arlington)

"The Yiddish word for 'splurge' " (Rick Haynes, Potomac)

"I wish Bush were still in the White House" (Dan Ramish)

"They filled the pothole right away" (Ben Aronin, Arlington)

"Our priest is celibate" (Kevin Dopart)

"My ex-husband is an angel" (Kathy Bacskay, Lorton, a First Offender)

"Brief remarks by the House speaker" (Jeff Contompasis)

"I was outraged by that 'Family Circus' cartoon" (Julie Thomas and Will Cramer, Herndon)

"If wishes were horses, birthday parties would reek." (Rachel A. Bernhardt, Silver Spring)

"employed in Novi, Mich." (Judy Blanchard, Novi, Mich.)

"Kitty Kelley's balanced portrayal of" . . . (Drew Bennett, West Plains, Mo.)

"The Manischewitz's refined bouquet" (Mike Gips, Bethesda)

"French spam recipes" (Craig Dykstra)

"beloved Redskins kicker" (Ward Kay, Vienna)

"tattoos your mom will love" (Judy Blanchard)

"Scranton getaway vacations" (Kevin Dopart)

"I don't know, so I'll say nothing." (Tom Kreitzberg, Silver Spring)

"unwanted strip of bacon" (Russell Beland)

"My cat really cares about me" (Dan Klein, McLean)

"the world's second-largest microbrewery" (Russell Beland)

"Facebook: A better mousetrap" (Ben Aronin)

"the best of the feel-good Russian novels" (Michael Woods, Arlington)

"Three animals were harmed in the making of this movie" (Russell Beland)

"The Amish Justin Timberlake" (Craig Dykstra)

"I laughed at The Style Invitational" (Kevin Dopart)

Next week: Natalie Portmanteau, or Overlappellations

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