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.