Wednesday, December 28, 2011

snow white but is it really?

welcome, sister snow
welcome, brother crystalline
hello, fury wind
be here, December
swirl here, colorless dance

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

techless techNOcrat techie tetchy touchy

This quasi-Luddite, pro-tech, ante-vellum note of paradoxical interest comes from the San Francisco Chronicle's website, back on November 30, 2011:

Imagine your workplace without email. That fantasy (or nightmare) will soon be reality for thousands of people who work for information technology firm Atos.

The company, which has offices in the Houston area and in Norwalk, Conn., manages IT for the Olympics. Its clients include oil field services firms Schlumberger and Baker Hughes.

ABC news says Atos found that most email messages turn out to be a waste of time:

CEO Thierry Breton of the French information technology company said only 10 percent of the 200 messages employees receive per day are useful and 18 percent is spam. That’s why he hopes the company can eradicate internal emails in 18 months.

The rule would apply to 74,000 employees in 42 countries and will hit close to home for some Houstonians. In April, Atos unveiled plans to locate one of its U.S. headquarters in Sugar Land.

Breton, who served as French finance minister before heading up the IT company, told the Wall Street Journal he hasn’t sent a work email in the three years he’s led the firm; he expects employees to focus instead on communicating via instant message or through an internal social network akin to Facebook.

In a statement about the policy, Breton compared spam to smog:

“We are producing data on a massive scale that is fast polluting our working environments and also encroaching into our personal lives. At Atos we are taking action now to reverse this trend, just as organizations took measures to reduce environmental pollution after the industrial revolution.”




Thursday, December 22, 2011

winter solstice

now that that has passed we can say with confidence that summer is on the way not almost here no none of that but lightening the journey lighting the way leaving a crack tilting the door open and what is the origin of the word solstice anyway I'd venture a tipping toward or away from the sun sonny boy

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

just for the heck of it

click

right

here

it won't harm or hurt

or threaten

browse

and scroll
and click
here
all you want
stay if you like
or wander away
no stay
wait
laugh
or cry
or pause
here
or
here
even
here

20 verbs

run ruin absent end finish mend maul primp prime curl

wend zoom doom brush gargle climb swallow syncopate twirl coax

readers

I use to have them
blogreaders
in the days of ephemera
passing dew like
morning burnt off
the backyard
or in the evening moistening my soles

I used to have readers
here
and there

but that was in the days of
salad and conversation
flirtation and flotation
wording and warding
off and on
remember those ways?

another year

has passed
amassing volume and lightness
we call them birthdays
fair enough
or anniversaries thereof
one day at a
timeless march to the cemetery
inexorable
no no not depressing
inevitable for you
and me
and him
and her
and them
and us
pause

white

speaking of which
where is the snow
whose absence is present
white space
white noise
blank
faded grass
brought the mower to the basement
let it snow
let it snow
let us know
lettuce no

drawing nigh

the end of the year approaches
which means my list of Books Read
white and blue
coming soon to
a theater near you
coo-coo-ca-choo

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WTF

some stranger from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, or from Bratislava, Slovakia, is going to land here and say

W

T

F


exclamation points, many

eleven

This might be my eleventh post today.

Give or take.

Take or give.

What do I think this is, Twitter?

why 12 Steps?

I wonder
why 12 Steps
no, I don't refer to denial and all its discontents, its dis-
contents
I mean why 12? not 11? or 13? or 9?
Why any number in certain civilizations?
and all I can figure are
12 months
12 inches
12 apostles
any other 12s come to mind?

it's about time

some snow mixed with rain this evening
not surprising
with the J.M. W. Turner watercolor lake-effect clouds this afternoon

this very day

this very day
Kierkegaard used that phrase
six years ago he died
my brother, not Kierkegaard
St. Andrew's Day
patron saint of Scotland
Thomas Richard Hayes
half brother
but nothing half about it
I wasn't there that moment
but weeks before
his patient lessons of golf to me
a non-golfer
the Florida sun
the pillowed dark dawn farewell
we knew
we loved
today
this very day
celebrating branch
vein
leaf
cloud
sun
raindrop
pulse

more imagery

crank it up
turn turn turn
to everything there is a season
celebrate

what's in store?

have you checked out

laughorism.com

?

12 steps, pondered anew

This time con brio, with adjectives:

1. powerless

2. pliable

3. decisive

4. searching

5. voluble

6. imperfect

7. trying

8. mending

9. connected

10. daily

11. silent

12. awake

Tech firm bans email

Tech firm bans email

image redux

Franklin Square

image


not always words

insomnia collage

type click light dark traffic brain pulse caffeinated curled pillow walk-ing pinging pulse pulsing breathe breath breathy breather snore awoke awake wish snore more some more droopy eyelids wish list sheep fence count sound silence sleep dream

12 steps, plus or minus

12 Steps as one-word verbs

1. admit
2. believe
3. surrender
4. search
5. tell
6. prepare
7. ask
8. list
9. mend
10. readmit
11. pray
12. live

or your own version, below

parts of speech or silence +/-

verb article preposition meditation conjugation gerundive participle dangling infinitive adjective adverb pronoun subjunctive passive voice active white noise predicate possessive syntax diction imperative cognate serial comma conjunction semicolon full don't stop yet poetry concrete gerund tense mood pluperfect interjection exclamation synecdoche troche iambic couplet sonnet ellipsis apostrophe nominative nomenclature om omen amen

22 adjectives

burnt churlish girlish icky tacky tricky blocky manly poised taciturn ornate solemn liturgical quizzical scarlet alphabetical numerical qualitative dative cerulean

20 verbs

ace baste cast dash enervate face grouse hike ice jazz kill cull lull mull annul sulk poke puke razz zing

Friday, November 25, 2011

retail (h)arms race

where's it end? where's it begin? surely, next year (or maybe this year on Christmas Day) some retailer will try to get the jump on everyone else by opening, say, at 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving night. forget about black Friday; it'll start to be Black Thursday. shortly thereafter a retailer will jettison the whole pretense and take advantage of the whole pretext and stay open 24/7 on the holiday and every day any day. you watch.

occupy Sell Street.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

who's counting?

I am.

The trend is that I will have posted the least amount of times this annum, on a full year's basis, since the blog's inception in 2006.

You got a problem wit dat?

tie update

Have worn a tie, at least for some portion of the day, for 11 consecutive days.

Not sure what, if anything, to conclude.

It may make me more brazen, perhaps more chipper, or pretentious, or assured.

Perhaps.

all in a name

Jubilant Takingthanks Diurnal Feast

Joyous Gratitudinous Day

Pleasant Dankegiving Quotidian

Harpy Tanksgiving Dray

Hapless Thanksgoing Gray

Joyful Thanksgetting Daze

Happy Thanksgrieving Deign

Thanksgiven du Jour de Joy

Happy Thanksginning Day

Hoping Thanksgiving May

Grateful Day Happy

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

instant one-minute zen meditation quotation

"The moment one gives close attention to anything, even a blade of grass, it becomes a mysterious, indescribably magnificent world in itself." -- Henry Miller

Monday, November 14, 2011

torrents

When it was pouring so torrentially (forgive the redundancies), I had to stop and think: is it March? September? It's mid November. #globalwarming

Sunday, November 13, 2011

form and function

A couple years ago a friend wore a dress for thirty consecutive days, and blogged about it. Around that time, as an experiment in I-don't know-what, I wore a tie for thirty straight days. Or tried to. I think I succeeded. I might try it again. I enjoyed wearing a purple tie, by Pink, today. People have written books about lots of weird streaks: 30 successive days, or more, of going on a date, a year without sex, you name it.

Um, I'd rather you didn't.

"grounded" -- a none-act play

He said I was grounded.

Grounded?

Yeah.

What does that mean? If you're not actually a pilot, what's it mean?

I can't use my phone and stuff.

I've got three kids and I've never "grounded" any of them, even once.

I'm grounded.

But you've punished them.

Sure. Are you locked in your room?

Sort of.

Do you have a TV in there?

Yes. But I mostly listen to music.

For how long are you grounded?

Until he says I'm not.

Gee, even courts sentence you to a specific term. Can you go on Facebook?

That's not really a big deal to me. Neither is my phone or texting. Music is.

So, if they took your music away, they'd really get to you.

Oh yeah.

[holding palm out] How much is that worth to you?

I'm grounded.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Tower Scheiße

Saw Tower Heist. My first choice, J. Edgar, was sold out. Twice. That's encouraging, in its own way.

At least I expected Tower Heist to be funny.

It was not.

I liked Alan Alda as an affable, evil, charming swindler, a la Madoff.

The movie at times skated along a serious edge that touched on all the disparities of wealth the Occupy Wall Street folks are targeting. But it only skated along the edge of that and was afraid to confront the serious stuff. If it did do that, it might've been an interesting movie. And it still might've managed to be funny, just as The Sopranos managed to be at times. Ben Stiller could've pulled it off; Eddie Murphy, too. And Matthew Broderick. Tea Leoni also.

Too bad it wimped out into silliness.

tiny Destiny

The sneak peak of Destiny in Syracuse was a tiny glimpse of I'm-not-sure-what. With more than 800,000 square feet to fill, Pyramid has its hands full. Or empty. So far, the early returns are:

-- open spaces, lots

-- some pleasant textures of imitation, or real, pavers

-- inline kiosks

-- two stores in one, Lenox china / Hartmann luggage

-- lots of billboards of What Is To Come

-- some curvilinear frontage to the new store(s), which is more interesting than the prison-like blandness on the outside


My review: looks like Philadelphia airport at best. A mix of would-be highbrow and flea market.

What is so "green" about it?

We shall see.

Friday, November 11, 2011

eleven eleven eleven

We have survived the 11:11 a.m. and the 11:11 p.m. of 11/11/11, disappointing 11,1111 conspiracy theorists.

Hallmark Mystery Theater

I traversed the aisles looking for blank cards. Blankly, I searched the shelves for blank cards that are not really blank, but only blank on the inside. I search the blankety-blank Hallmark store for some hallmark of aesthetic. Were any cards devoid of false sentiment? Did any cards, blank or unblank, express reality, my reality? I was coming up blank. My pistol of desire was shooting blanks. Sympathy. Birthday. For her. For him. Anniversary. New Job. Death of pet. Encouragement. Retirement. Troubled Relationship. I was drawing a blank, with no pen in my hand. As I roamed the carpeted aisles, a man said to me, "Can I help you? Have you found everything?" I hesitated. I almost replied to those great one-liners, those generous prompts. He wore a cap, like a truck driver would. Sloppy jeans. A work t-shirt. (I could be making all this up; the memory is less sharp these days.) He looked my age. He looked like a shopper. Why was he blithely asking me this customer service query? "Where are the blank cards?" He answered confidently and quickly, "The next aisle over." Slim pickings. mostly dreadful. The outer faces. The inside blanks, though, were very similar, but surely not identical in shape, scale, symmetry, weight. I bought a blank card. Two identical fish silhouettes, in a pond, ripples outward. Asian, to me. Blank, inside. At the counter, when I paid for this Hallmark blank card, there he was. A customer, signing his credit card payment slip. Just like me. Pissed me off. And why?

Wednesday, November 02, 2011

what is that new-car smell?

is it from plastic? or from the paint still drying? maybe the new floor mats? the upholstery? why is the smell of a new car so appealing? where does the new-car smell migrate to after it's gone? can you pick it up on your clothing? do car makers know the secrets of the smell of newness? why doesn't a house have a new-house fragrance? or does it? and why did I switch from smell to fragrance to describe this phenomenon? for how many miles does the smell of a brand-new car retain its new-car smell or fragrance? when they came out with a spray to replicate the new-car smell, what did they put in it? do I really want to know? do car sales reps (for new cars, not pre-owned car, which used to be called used cars) wear cologne or perfume of new-car-ness? does the new-car fragrance excite buying pheromones? can churches, temples, mosques, or synagogues entice more believers, or would-be believers,to enter their portals by importing new-car fragrance within the house of worship? are my hyphens pedantic? is there such a thing as a new-marriage smell or fragrance? don't you like the smell of a new baby, especially its skin? do republicans and democrats and independents differ in smell? if the new-car smell were bottled, could it be exported? is the new-car smell different depending on what country the car was made in? does it bother you that car has been used up above even though you might be thinking of a truck or SUV or something in between? does the new-car smell excite you, even a little? does it summon deep childhood memories? or does it evoke deep sadness or resentment because your family was never able to afford a brand-new car with a new-car smell? why do we say "brand-new"? has this pelting of questions regarding the new-car smell or fragrance started to weary you? will you lament the absence of the new-car smell the way you lament a loss? what color would you use to describe that good ol' new-car smell? what sound is it?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Ad Newseam

"I read the news today, oh boy . . . "

I've been a news junkie ever since grade school, or grammar school, as we called it, loving what was then termed Current Events as my favorite subject. The afternoon Stamford Advocate would be delivered the same precise time every day, it seemed. 4:26. My father came home from the shop at precisely the same time every day, 4:14. My brother and I would listen for the soft thwinnnk of the Advocate being placed between the screen door and the front door of our apartment in the William C. Ward Homes. The Projects. Jack and I would race to the door, open it, and fight to surrender the paper to my father, to place it, as if it were an offering, on our dad's footstool. An unspoken protocol prohibited grabbing and reading the paper before Dad had had first dibs. Then Jack and I would wait like cats to pounce on the paper when Dad would casually finish each section and place it on the footstool. As much as I was a news junkie, let's be honest: Jack and I both were vying for the fiercely coveted second section: Sports.

I went on to work as a copy editor at a daily, from September 1976 to February or March 1979. Great atmosphere: surly, hard-boiled, intense, witty, competitive. Filled with characters. Smart folks. Hard-working. Competent. Whiskey bottles kept in drawers. The ring of Teletype machines. Headlines written by hand. Something strange on desks: VDTs, or video display terminals. We did not think of them as computers or PCs. I even obnoxiously smoked a cigar on the rim sometimes and for fun wore one of those vinyl newspaperman visors seen in movies.

News junkie.

Now, I wonder. News? Hard to take. I don't mean just the string of endless tragedies. That's always been part of the news game. No, I mean something like this: 1984. LIES ARE TRUTH. WAR IS PEACE. That sort of Orwellian nightmare. Maybe, in my mind it started with the Swift Boat campaign of 2004 [was it 2004] that discredited John Kerry's reputation as a hero through lies and distortion. Forget about whether you supported him or the Vietnam War. It was the fact that "the media," "the press," now saw fit to give lies the same footing as truth. Rumor got the same attention as news. We'd been Drudged. Tabloided. McPapered. Under some sort of perversion of the Fairness Doctrine, every crackpot theory got equal play with reason and sobriety. And it only got wackier. Want a war? Enter: the media passing along unsubstantiated hysteria perpetrated by the government about alleged "weapons of mass destruction" and "terrorism." The so-called august New York Times, a year later, 2004, apologized to its readers for abdicating its role of healthy skeptic. The tease was on A1. The rest of the story was buried on A17 or wherever. You can look it up. And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut [met him, with my son, Ethan; another story, another time] would put it. Vaccines. Creationism. Global warming. Birthers. Bailout. Stimulus. You name it. LIES ARE TRUTH. News? What's that? Whatever works to grab attention. This is not whining or whingeing that "my take," my perspective, is getting short shrift. No, it is lamenting that utter quackery and poppycock share the front pages with sober renderings and analyses of complex issues.

Hard to take.

It's enough to shut off the news, whether online or in print or on TV -- as I do when I'm at camp.

Ad newseam.

Of course, that raises the solipsistic question about care, concern, and commitment about the State of Affairs, as if "knowing the facts" itself is a power, is a tool of democracy. (It should be.) As if carrying the burden of knowledge was a redemptive gesture.

It should be.

Is it?

Is that day gone, as gone as the idyllic image of the 1950s described above?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Lyrical dissonance

You've heard of the term "cognitive dissonance," right? I guess it means something like "discomfort or tension caused by holding simultaneous conflicting views or ideas." Um, maybe like Bill Clinton having a Monica Lewinsky flashback while having dinner with Hillary. Another example of cognitive dissonance could be rich Republican members of Congress (are there poor members of Congress?) boo-hooing that they have to pay taxes -- any taxes, really -- while they suckle at the federal teat for their paycheck.

How about "harmonic dissonance" or "lyrical dissonance"? That's how I describe a melody at odds with its lyrics -- surprisingly so. My first embarrassing discovery of this occurred while driving around in my car chirpily listening to and singing along with "Maxwell's Silver Hammer," on Abbey Road, by The Beatles. It's very catchy. Whimsical. Almost nursery schoolish, in its sound and rhythm. My younger daughter, maybe 9 or 10 at the time, or even younger, was sitting in the back seat. She dutifully called my attention to the outright violence of the lyrics. I mean, really, at least three people are hammered to death in the song, but, heck, it sounds like a jingle for chewing gum! I had no explanation for her. I, a wordsmith, had never really paid it much mind. And she never lets me forget it.



There's a current hit, by Foster the People, that summons the same lyrical dissonance. "Pumped Up Kicks" is an exuberant, danceable song with lyrics about a six gun and trying to outrun bullets, and other terribly disturbing references. It is positively finger-snapping catchy.

I guess the moral -- if there is one -- is either "don't take things too seriously" or "take them more seriously" or both or neither.

I will admit it is hard for me to get sanctimonious, given my own lyrical dissonance history.

I'm sure you have your own examples. John Lennon's "Imagine" comes to mind. A haunting, gorgeous melody, but not everyone would be quick to accept its secular, casually atheistic, anti-nationalist message -- if they even hear it.

Speaking of imagining, what if "Yesterday" by The Beatles were a heavy metal anthem? Or a cha-cha or salsa?

This reminds me of a game my older brother and I used to play, back in The Sixties. We'd conjure up mismatches, stuff like Kate Smith doing "Purple Haze" or Perry Como doing "Satisfaction."

Get it?

Got others?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

then and now

we were made low
ashes in the mouth
dust to earth to dust to fire
finding brothers we didn't know we had
lost sisters paled by the empty noon

we were made low
and saw what was missing
the pain of a hollow
fullness seared
a rich vacancy

we were made low
for a moment
seized with common
pulse and possibility

we were
then
and
now?

Friday, September 09, 2011

reflextns on txtng2

It happens. After all, who wants to use more thumbstrokes? Who wants to slow down the effluvial ephemera of quotidian trivia? The "it" I refer to above -- an "it" typed without its antecedent -- is the shortening, the abbreviating, the consequent depunctuation of texting.

I do it.

I've done it.

Both with and without guilt.

I'll not do "it" when I want to be pedantic, when I want to prove a point to the recipient that I'm either not uneducated or that I was an English major or that I do not subscribe to the vulgar laziness of texting, the habits of stark simplicity.

But other times I do subscribe to minimalist fervor, an icon of the age.

And linguistically we know that language inexorably grows, organically, toward simplicity, as a sign of its sophistication!

So, when I text I sometimes will say to myself, hey, the question mark was obvious just by the phrasing, it couldn't be anything but a question. or I mutter to self that periods commas or semicolons are just getting in the way course they no wot i mean who needs caps either its all undrstd txtng is fun after all japanse grls hv wrttn txt novels etc no end pt

Texting.

Txtng

Just some thoughts.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Labor Day Eve


Fruit of their labors labors forgotten. Union wages waging peace and social justice. Private property demanding social obligation and more mores (either one syllable or two syllables). Rerum Novarum. Mater et Magistra. The eight-hour day. Paid vacations. Holidays. OSHA. Union strong. Fought and died for. Strike and struck. Robber barons. "No more taxes!" No more services. Social security. Social security. Laborite. Laborious. Laboring. Labor. Day. Labor Day. And labor night. Blood sweat and tears. And human dignity. And eternal thanks.

Monday, August 15, 2011

double-dare


The Laughorist, admittedly in not so laughable a mood, dares you to read this:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html

Come on.

Furthermore, I dare every Member of Congress to read this, and I challenge any zealot to refute its FACTS:

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-coddling-the-super-rich.html

Come on.

Refute this data, supplied by billionaire Warren Buffett.

I'm waiting.

Yes, stop coddling -- that's the right word, coddling -- the super-rich.

Monday, July 25, 2011

chicory correction

Correction.

It is chicory I see whose blue dazzles me.

Chicory, common by roadsides; uncommonly colorful; distinct.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

coneflowers

I've been seeing coneflowers and still love their distinct blue, which isn't really blue.

comments

I wonder if anyone will ever comment here again?

Sometimes I pine for the days when we had a regular vrew, a community, as it were.

It's my own solipsistic fault.

One needs to converse to cultivate conversation.

hum, baby

sometimes the hum of a fan on a summer night reminds me of a long plane flight, such as I've taken to or from Berlin

can't much sleep on planes or jets, either

once, coming back to the States, the movie was "Lost in Translation"

perfect for my semi-awake, jet-lagged haze

the arc of the air

thanks, arctic air

for ever so slightly squinting southerly

hinting at cooler climes

less sweltering soddenness

the promise of comity

sorely lacking in the mingy mien

of budget hawks

their hot talons

tearing at the populace

as the oligarchy caviar crowd

whine about why

not more for me

it's mine

mine mine

how taxing

and tiresome

the tip of the iceberg

the country club cabal

plots its permanence

art+poetry

participated in art + poetry workshop

now it is yesterday

young and old

in the city

urban and not

but more art than poetry

or is it merely redefining?

or am I too confining?

in a kindle age,

visuals rule

as a matter of fact

and fiction

am I merely ancient

anchoring the word?

or chained

to the sea's sybaritic syllables?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

cheeseburger cheeseburger cheeseburger

At Quaker State and Lube, QSL, I ordered a cheeseburger, hold the cheese. Otherwise, there was no way to get a plain ol' hamburger w/ lettuce, tomato, and mayo.

The cheeseburger sans cheese, a.k.a. hamburger arrived.

Atop the underside of the top (i.e., the puffy, rounded portion) of the roll sat the patty, the meat.

The bottom portion of the roll held some shreds of lettuce and a flimsy tomato.

This is increasingly typical, the new normal.

Upside-down burgers in an upside-down world. The burger should be on the bottom, the other stuff on top. Period, no questions asked.

Tully's does this, too, I believe.

Many places do it.

Why?

When did this silliness start?

Why?

Serves me right for failing to practice my more typical locavore principles.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

heated reflections

Mr. Lucas standing against the brick wall of their apartment, cigarette ash visible. Heat lightning. His talk of going fishing the next day. Dad fooling around with the antenna in the attic to improve TV reception, grumbling about "sun spots." Headlines of tanks rolling through Berlin as a wall is built. Tension as electric as the static from storms. Hitting 'em out. Shagging flies. Guzzling ice tea so cold it burns. A hot bath to feel the contrast. No shower head. Talcum powder. Nervous about September and school. Seal off rooms with fans on exhaust during the day, on intake at night. no such thing as AC. The drone of a ballgame. Haircuts cut so short. Delivering the Shopper. Asking the Italian lady for some water. Ice water. Take it in like a boy in the desert. The beach, Dad and Mom never once ever going into the Sound. Fear of atomic war. Rabbit ears. Potato salad. The little metal box for the milkman to place the bottles. Caddying. The straps digging in, the thirst. The spidered night flashes but no thunder.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

voice

I confess to a fear. I confess to the fear that I've lost my voice. Not the voice loss associated with laryngitis. Not that sort of -itis. I fear blogitis, the loss of my blogging voice. Having been Tweeting (or tweeting) away like a madman (MadMen? BTW, I await the return of that stellar AMC TV series), I wonder if I've gone to the word-well so often and so distinctly differently that I lost my Kokonuts voice, diminished my Laughorist persona, lessened my serial-comma loving stature, skewed my Kierkegaard-name-dropping identity. Of course, some would argue for marked boundaries of these voices, clear boundaries on the verges of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Blogger. Those "some" may be wise to counsel such; or not. Nevertheless, having glanced at the aforementioned words and having heard their cadence and rhythm and substance, or lack therof, I can rest restlessly assured that this voice is still full-throated. Warbling. Wandering.

Carry on.

As you were.

Laugh. Or...

Else.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Oxford Comma Scare

Phew.

There were some alarums [olde spelling] that the Oxford University Press was axing the Oxford comma.

Not so, apparently, as noted in this excellent piece in the Los Angeles Times, which also discusses the Shatner comma, comically.

No serial comma killing this time, though all offices of said staid educational institution should be consistent on such matters.

Serial Comma Commandos of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your [something something; failed to make Marxist pun here].

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

This Really Happened

Today, while walking within the urban confines of the city of Syracuse:

  • I was startled by a jackrabbit right in front of me near the Franklin Square P.O.
  • then another one by Onondaga Creek
  • stood on a bridge over the creek, a bridge not trespassed by 90% of said city's residents
  • while walking, picked up litter: Newport 100s box [they are ubiquitous], a meant-to-be funny, naughty greeting card, a pizza box
  • was rewarded warmly by 8th graders exuberantly "graduating" from a city school
  • saw a three-legged dog and was spared heartbreak after listening to the owner tell the dog's story
  • saw my cat almost kill a sparrow
  • I rescued the sparrow
  • but the cat had the final say
  • ultimately
  • what -- save sparrows and kill ants?
  • I would've shot the woodchuck digging up the backyard but have no weapon
  • would I have?
  • saw a man with red glasses; he said he has many others, many other colors

Friday, June 17, 2011

antie-septic

Weird, isn't it, how -- now that I'm not as avidly hunting them -- I hardly ever see ants on the counter or cabinets. Is it me? Or is it Memorants?

Adios, Bloomsday

Ave atque, farewell goodbye, draw to a cathedral close, this halcyon Joycean protean day nominated in the wordwomb of Bloom, passing by his Ulysses-sired sirens, bleating sheepishly.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Harpyhappy bloomin' Bloomsday!

Harvests of harpy happy blooms of bloomer bombast as we walk the Dublin streets with Leopold Bloom again in our mind in our eyes in our words, avoiding stumbling on the curb the cobblestone of too many consonants, mate.

Today appropriately enough is also the anniversary of the start of this august (no, it's June) and sometimes jejune blog.

Happy 5th Blogger Anniversary to The Laughorist and my nom de web, Pawlie Kokonuts.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

out on bail

Were you stopped in your tracks by my last post, titled "arrested"?

Alas, no criminality is implied, inferred, intuited, imagined, initiated, conjured, conjectured, or ANTicipated.

I am out on bail, id est, carried free, unburdened, bucketed, transported away from the heart-stopping goldfinch vision of reality to the quotidian tasks of "this very day," a phrase of Soren Kierkegaard.

Monday, June 13, 2011

arrested

a flicker

a flash

blurred

goldfinch

stopped my breath

forced me to stare

a shining living bauble

of yellow

delight

more saffron than

sunflower

than lemon

pulsing

radiance

caught

Friday, June 10, 2011

Antagonist Update

Did not see or maim or kill any ants today, although reports indicate other family members cannot make such innocuous statements.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Antie Maim

I did not knowingly or deliberately kill or maim any ants today, to the best of my antcollection, I mean, recollection.

I saw one or two ants on the cabinets in my background or peripheral vision today and chose to ignore them. So then, the Battle of Antitthem was put on hold.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

lobster? or crab?

"I should been a pair of ragged claws / Scuttling across the floors of silent seas." -- T.S. Eliot in "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"

And would such scuttling claws pinch their pincers to pick up any scurrying underwater ants?

(Just aiming for the high-brow, even if it's a stretch scientifically.)

antics, again

Getting either more spiritual or lazier (not necessarily opposites, right?): killed only two ants today.

But I think I only saw two ants. And how many did the ant traps silently and slowly execute?

Maybe, just maybe, the next ant I see, I'll say, "Hi, as you were, keep walking; plenty of room here on the planet for both of us. Leave our cereal alone, though."

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

ants in my pants -- not yet

This morning my daughter goes to eat her Honey Bunches of Oats breakfast cereal and decides to throw out the whole package, upon finding bunches of ants, honey, in the cereal. Cereal killer, those ants. Or us. I thought it was an extreme, um, antic, to discard the whole contents ["contants"??], but, hey, the dog had just thrown up on the kitchen floor. We were under *ant*icipatory duress; she had a bus to catch.

Maybe we should surrender in the sense of simply regarding the ants as food, sans chocolate.

Or live in "peaceable kingdom" harmony with the ants. Let it / them be.

It is futile to crush the happenstance ant crawling into or out of the cabinet and to fight off the low hum of guilt as I rub my fingers together to expunge the dusty insect remains. As with most wars, strategies need to be reconsidered.

Are the ant traps working but more slowly than anticipated?

What about the Ortho Home Defense Indoor Insect Killer ("use with confidence around food, children & pets")? ("Made with pure orange peel extract.") Is the "confidence" noted on the label for the welfare of the food, children, and pets? Or confidence in the death of the ants? I sprayed some on paper towels and rubbed the walls and cabinet doors and edges. Hey, maybe it chased the ants into the cereal boxes and other boxes! By the way, the plastic container with tight lid? -- the one I told spouse and daughter to buy to protect against ants? -- it sits in the cabinet. Empty. Bare. Naked. No cereal or anything else in it.

Stay tuned to see if this blog is crawling with more antie-bellum words next time.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

antsy

Why do they so annoy me?

Will they swarm my bread?

What are their numbers?

I've killed perhaps 28 ants today, or maybe 17. I think two have gotten away. "Gotten away" means gleefully slipped into the cabinet, running under and around glasses, cups, mugs. Smirking?

How have I allowed this to become a real-life video game?

What is the source of my murderous pleasure as I squash them, rubbing the dust of the ants off on my clothes? (Awkward question; lots of prepositions.)

The ant traps are so much less direct, so much more passive. They require a certain degree of patience -- and faith that they will work.

They are ants.

They say I am human.

Can I write this off as some macabre and quotidian fiction?

May I?

Who would expose my lies?

Monday, May 23, 2011

financial fragility

According to research cited in a WSJ blog, nearly half of us (Americans) are "financially fragile." Curious that eggheads have to undertake a study to verify this. The respondents were asked if they'd have trouble ponying up $2,000 in 30 days -- the amount representing a major car repair, such as transmission replacement, or some other unforeseen emergency: medical, legal, home repair, or addiction. (OK, so I threw in the last one; it's not crazily unrealistic, though, is it?)

A few qualifiers:

-- 2009 data were used
-- US respondents were not nearly as financially fragile as those in other countries

The results certainly don't shock me. While I have only consulted the article, and not the study itself, I'd have to muse:

-- Can I borrow to come up with the $2,000?
-- Can I tap into 401k or other money set aside for retirement?
-- Must I resort to legal means?
-- Does reckless gambling count as an option?
-- 30 days? ARE YOU KIDDING? Like the transmission guy or the dentist or the lawyer or the mortgage company is going to just spot you 30 days, just like that? HAHAHAHAHAHAHA. (I'm making sure I can come up with $60 cold cash for lawnmower repair tomorrow.)

Folks, it's 2011. Let's hope the "financial fragility" ratios have improved, rapturously.

Talk about AlbatrossDreams.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

wordstream rapture

Dear Blog,
I have betrayed you, been an infidel, been unfaithful to your ephemeral flutterings by being faithful to ever-briefer postings, in the Twitterverse (@kocakwords). What a cad I've been to abandon you, this playground of expansive observations and gymnasium of gerundives, this venue of verbs and pabulum, words and wisdom wattage -- just for 140 characters on Twitter! How cruel of me, to leave your for nearly a month, my longest absence, just for a stream of pithy one-liners or vacuous throwaways. But such is our age. Less is more. Or less is less. It doesn't matter, as long as it's less and quicker. And more and Tweetier.

Anyway? How have you been? I see you, the blogosphere, that is, are still here, shrugging of the microblogiverse, not at all averse to aver that lots of words have their place in the universe. Their place is here, home to more-than-140-character discursive ramblings and rumblings, meanderings and wanderings, pings and pongs, throngs of thoughts, tallied in tons of typing and tappings.

Yours,
The Laughorist

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

apocalyptic torrents

rain with pea-sized hail with nearly horizontal wind with virtually no visibility with flooding with sheets of driving rain with rain upon rain upon rain upon rain did I say rain? raining down upon us in downtown Syracuse eddying whirlpools of urban riverine flow lacustrine lustre water you know watery wending of drops upon buckets of rain

Monday, April 25, 2011

hanging by a thread



Last evening, as I sat at my desk, not eating any curds or whey, I spied a spider easing itself down on its string of tensile strength, before my very eyes, shocking and, well, scaring me -- big baby.

I was dazzled and amused. And threatened. Or perceived myself as threatened.

I waited until the spider landed on my desk and then smushed it, with the bottom of a box of tissues.

There have been times I've carried a spider outdoors, rescuing it from my primal fears, my unfounded savageness.

Not this time.

And I don't have a good explanation.

So, forgive me, Universe.

Forgive me, Spiderdom.

Have mercy on me and my foolish fears, O Threadbare Web of Existence.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Confessions of a Twitterati

I admit it.

I've been Tweeting.

It's pretty addictive, or can be.

But I've managed to control it.

Right.

@kocakwords

Seeya.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

tiething

About a year ago, I wore ties on consecutive days.

I almost started another streak today.

But I wore no tie.

Can't say why.

Too springlike?

An iota of rebellion simmering in the blood?

No reason?

One love.

Will using the title "tiething" for today's post bring flocks of evangelists proposing that you tithe?

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

going postal-less

The sign at the Carousel Center post office glass door says [figuratively speaking, because a sign can't talk]:

THE POST OFFICE
IS PERMANENTALY CLOSED.

Maybe email did 'em in.

Or spellchecking.

You didn't even warn us.

I'll miss you, and the convenience [another word that spellcheckers love] you gave me, and the occasional blogger fodder [remember the Aussie who put me down royally? What did she call me, "ya mongrel"?].

Why close that branch, with its weekend and evening and holiday hours and social intercourse?

At the nearby Division Street branch I later heard talk of high rents and mandated repairs.

Close THE POST OFFICE entirely everywhere everyday. After all, it's the federal government. Give the tea partiers a run for their money-less. No taxes! No services! Anarchy! Solipsism!


Monday, March 28, 2011

laughorisms

My brand is slipping, which is not the same as my slip is showing, or maybe my ahem! is hawing -- or thrice versa. For someone asserting identity as The Laughorist, I've been remiss (missing and then missing again, Miss) in supplying and crafting laughorisms, i.e., humorous aphorisms. (Well, that is slightly unfair to myself, because faithful visitors here know I'm tirelessly quipping and whipping up whirls of words in witty ways.)

To wit, here is my take today at some laughorisms.

  • Happy Meals are all alike; every Unhappy Meal is unhappy in its own "Have It Your Way."
  • In the long run, we are all stockings.
  • It was the breast of times; it was the wurst of times.
  • Not every good screed goes unpublished.
  • Life is short, Monopoly long.
  • The mass of men leave lines of quiet perspiration.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

drip drop

where did that pendulous drop of moisture go, the one blogged about yesterday?

fear the beard?

Is there a difference between growing a beard and simply not shaving?

A look in the mirror presents the unkempt appearance of an unshaven social misfit, though that sounds unduly harsh. (Can you be harsh, but not unduly harsh?)

Unkempt. The second syllable sounds so German, and it is by way of Old English, we are told by etymologists (not entomologists; stop bugging me!).

Uncombed.

Can you comb a beard, when you come right down to it?

So, you can be kept kempt, Kokonuts.

Carry on.

Laugh, or else.

Monday, March 21, 2011

focus

It has been said the whole universe is found in a drop of water.

I saw it today.

Extending my arm out the car window to send out some cards (hand-written communication? how quaint!), under the lower-right lip of the mailbox's mouth, one plump drop of rain held itself suspended (or was held suspended), waiting, frozen but melted, pausing, seemingly still.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

unlocking the doors

After I parked at the Wegmans [yeah, I miss that apostrophe too], I decided not to press the lock activator on the key fob for the 2006 Honda Civic. Why lock it? It is an insidious habit. What is there to take? Why is it so important? What is so scary in suburban DeWitt, aside from its suburbanness? My act of civic bravery, or common sense, was not based on the fact that it is not my car (my wife's). It was a statement, a statement not clearly articulated. What was in there, besides some CDs? (Oh, what about that nifty portable battery charger? Hunh? Hunh?) Sure, "they" could steal maps and insurance cards. Good luck with that. We never seem to have the right maps, so welcome to 'em. Who are "they" anyway? And why would "they" single out this car? Are they on a crime spree? Were they waiting just for me? How many of them are "they"? What are their eating and sleeping habits?

I looked at the headlines of The Post-Standard and The New York Times. Too ominous. I decided not to buy a Sunday paper, though I was grateful that my browsing informed me of an interfaith event tomorrow at the Zen Center for the people in Japan. I'd like to go. Will "they" be there?

I bought five-seed four-grain bread, or is it four-seed five-grain, sliced. I used self service. I inserted a five-dollar bill and got seventy-five cents of change. The prompts on the computer screen assume plastic or something else. I used neither paper nor plastic. I decided not to wear the sunglasses I had worn over my regular glasses on the way in. Way too dorky.

Miraculously, I found the car fairly easily and was pleased to find the door unlocked. Still. Thinking this might be worth a blog post, I had written "unlocked" on the church bulletin shortly after exiting the unlocked car. You can move this paragraph closer to the top if you prefer. I had thought "unlocked" might be a nice metaphorical theme to follow, to muse about. Now I'm either not so sure or too lazy or both.

Maybe it's just the rusty taste of fraudulence in my mouth, maybe that's what's putting me off from pondering on and on, like they sing in The Journey song. Fraudulence about what? C'mon. Locking your car door in DeWitt, New York? Give me a break. Puhleez. What's the big deal?

Ever hear this one: fear knocked on the door, faith answered. Do I have that right? Maybe it's fear locked the door. I opened it. Faith was there. No. I'm not sure it is either one. On Cayman Brac most, maybe nearly everyone, keeps the doors unlocked: house, car, truck. Doors unlocked. The Doors were a good band, but they were more unhinged than unlocked.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

arrested

My eye caught this billboard ad:

Caption:

"We know where you're coming from."

Profile of a person, with a shadow of a soldier in the background.

Arresting and provocative.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Kokonuts vs. Kokonuts

I have just read about Daniel Bejar and Daniel Bejar in The New Yorker. One is a musician, another an artist. The artist has made himself look like the musician and as an "art" project in real time in real life is playing on the same-name identity. His project is called Googleganger, with those two dots over the a.

All of which got me thinking.

Who, after all, is Pawlie Kokonuts?

And if I used my real name, would it really be me?

Who is me?

This is what employers and education officials don't seem to get. They warn people to be careful about their online identity and online representations, but who is who? And what is what? What is real? Why can't anything online be considered the mere fictional fabrications of a virtual persona?

This is nothing new in literature, going back to Truman Capote's non-fiction novel "In Cold Blood," and the same with many works by Norman Mailer. Frederick Exley wrote "fictional memoirs," featuring a character named Frederick Exley. But he wasn't Frederick Exley the author, was he?

So, who is who? And what's what?

Deep questions.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Less Than An Hour


More than the blink of an eye but less than an hour. The bagel with cinnamon and raisin. $1, for one day old, toasted. Two pats of Land O' Lakes butter. I can't open the packet of butter. A half-inch or so square, the kind of butter a diner or coffee shop gives you, the kind often, but not always, sitting in a container with some ice. I cannot finesse my fingertips to bend the corner of the square to roll back the foil covering. Is it age? Is this a sign of a budding neurological impairment that is simmering within me? Is it butter-packet-opening faulty design? I try using my teeth. I want to rip, smash, destroy the butter package, a la Tony Soprano, because of the horror of those earlier questions. It opens. Magic. The bagel has cooled to the point of losing that magic moment; the butter sits there, unmelted. I refuse to open the second package of butter. Calories? Revenge? I force-spread the butter onto two sides of the bagel. I Skype with my brother for more than 19 minutes. I eat the bagel, now cold, crunchy, a day old, with ice tea.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

staggering

According to Reuters,

"Analysts believe the powerful earthquake moved Japan's main island eight feet, shifted the Earth on its axis four inches and unleashed a devastating tsunami."

Staggering beyond imagination.

Lord, have mercy on Japan, all its people, and all their loved ones around the world.

Humbling, to say the least.

Monday, March 07, 2011

snowMarch

blindwhite particulate crystalline settling aftermath do the numbers
paths buried cars hidden ground missing depth guessing wonders
chunk block rock tock tick smack snow snew sown strown
alabaster albino vanilla creamy lumen beachtide flake wake

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

My Winter Vacation

jet engines tropical breezes cirrus clouds Cayman Brac jerk chicken Stella Maris curly-tailed lizards lapping waves engines of the sea kingfish cumulus emerald turquoise snorkeling sea eggs fine sand starlit Milky Way Cayman Brac sandals Pollard Bay caymanite ironshore booby babies rolling Caribbean Sea purposeless glad sea Sister Islands blue tang irrational fear floating brain coral conch Mexican Train toast tea Cross Road United Baptist soldiers hermit crabs almond trees coconuts Caymanian Compass Peter's Cave Skull Cave Spot Bay Stake Bay West End Spotland Plantation Tibbetts destroyer wreck coral reef Brac Reef bluff road Christopher Columbus Park seamen's shrine Cat Head Bay blow holes aloe groves loaves of fish what a dish Buccaneer's Inn reef cove thatch palms hammocks sway the Bight the light Temple Beth Shalom Bamboo Bay Cotton Tree Bay what the hay Cayman Brac coral reef dildo cactus dung lighthouse dap me up give me dap jerk chicken mockingbird Cayman Brac parrot tambourine prayers hymns One Love flat sea conch shells algae Grand Cayman SPF30 football soccer cricket Gaelic bluff balmy breeze almond trees gruntfish synagogue surprise Miami mon one love Cuban Coral Isle projects Philadelphia Cayman Brac rhymes with back not with Bach one love where the pix why not this words instead

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

blahgging

Surely "blahgging" was coined before now, minted on some blase [append accent aigu over the "e"] blog or some creative commons.

No matter.

Speaking of "no matter," what would THAT be like?

Chime in.

With strings, attached.

String theory.

String quartets for existentialists and believers alike.

You're right. I'm blahgging.

Ain't got much to say today.

But hooray for baseball Spring Training!

Monday, February 14, 2011

what is a blog?

Blog. What is a blog? Yes, it is a blend of the words web and log. For a coined term of relatively youthful status, it seems venerable, as if it has been around more than its dozen-plus years.

People blog, but who admits to keeping a journal? Or a diary? As for the word's sound, its onomatopoeia, it sounds so blah. Ergo, blahgging is what I do on an off day.

Web, with its notion of weaving, reminding me of one of the world's best book titles, Caught in the Web of Words, a biography of the Oxford English Dictionary and its makers. Interwoven connections, in digital thoughts as well as the surprise of you who came here, now reading this or hearing it, if you use such software.

Log, with its notion of solidity, woodenness; the concept of a ship's log book; logs because, we are told, wooden floats measured the ship's speed. Log: grounded, rooted in the earth. Fecund and possibly crawling with worms or moss or overshadowed by saplings, metaphorical and otherwise.

So, to blend these disparate visions (and not end up too cross-eyed or star-crossed):

Words and images and musings wandering or dancing or strolling along the spidered reality of incarnate bits and bytes, testing the pliancy or durability of imagination; both partitioning and elongating threads of meaning or nonsense; registered and recorded and cast into a faux eternity made up of seemingly infinite particles of ephemera, yearning for venerable SEO ranking, for immediate, pop-up Googled status: the canonization of the quotidian.

Blog, blogged, blogging. To blog. Cf. loc. cit. Ibid. Op. cit. Ad infinitum. Into aeternitas.

Age quod agis.

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

February

now that we've flipped over January only to see the page of February we can declare that spring is creeping in despite wintry mixes and ice and icicles and snow and slush and snowmelt and winter x games and slalom and wind chill and blustery et alia despite all that pitchers and catchers report in 12 days like 12 steps to recovery and even embedded in the corner of the February page is March ready to march or creep into our personal time zones so do not despair spring is almost around the corner February may prove to be brutal and frigid but can we demand of it that it is the last full and entire month of weatherly winter because in March surely there will be some respite from all those despites.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

corporate email censorship, reconsidered

We know corporations spy on their employees, explicitly or implicitly. It's legit; it's legal. Employers can censor emails and block websites from being visited, etc. Yes, they can.

Companies use software programs that filter out naughty and obscene words. At least I think that's how they do it. I don't think it's Louie and Edith in a back room sifting through everyone's emails. But who knows?

I suggest the attempts at this censorship are misguided. By that I mean the attempts are typically skewed toward George Carlin's Seven Dirty Words [he lost the case, which went to the Supreme Court in 1978; I was working at a newspaper; I recall the Boston Globe printed the words; most papers did not, though the words are in the court documents; British papers freely use such words, more accurately, they use any words they choose to, pretty much, and are not so keen to censor, and I don't just mean tabloids] or variants of words like that. Such corporate censorship has a narrow scope, does it not?

But imagine the censors, or the software they use, expunging these obscenities:

poverty, starvation, hatred, bullying, war, mutilation, rape, bombing, torture, neglect, intimidation, and synonyms too horrible to conjure and many I've missed and others too unspeakable.




20 words, a winter collage

icicle jail bars

dripping ever so steadily

slowly

awaiting the too-often predicted snowmagedden

that stalls westward

calm before

what?

Friday, January 28, 2011

image-ination







I'm usually all words. So why not an image or two or more?

bananas and so much more



Tropical Race Four is the name of the fungus threatening the world's supply of bananas. I just read about it in The New Yorker.

Tropical Race Four.

Good name for a band.

Or a horse.

Banana is such a deliciously reduplicative word. Should I say that again?

Around here bananas are typically around 47 cents a pound. I / we take that for granted. What if bananas were $4.47 per pound? Or $47.47 per pound?

Would we eat them at those higher prices? I love bananas. I am sorry, bananas, if I've taken you for granted.

I have heard stories that foreign visitors walk into Wegmans and burst into tears, overcome by abundance. Bananas. And more!

Cavendish is the typical kind we eat. Used to be Gros Michel, I'm told (by The New Yorker).

I like them almost green. Almost.

A strong memory of my youth is my mother rapidly, very rapidly, slicing pieces of banana with the lip of a spoon, pieces falling onto cereal.

Oh, and I almost forgot: for a snack, we would often have bananas and cream (sometimes milk) in a bowl with lots of sugar.

Yummy.

Some bananas, The New Yorker article taught me, taste like strawberries.

I'm intrigued by this question: when was that aha! moment when humans, or one single human, discovered that you don't eat the skin but inside is the delicious fruit of the banana? Or did they just watch some monkeys?

But whom did the monkeys watch?

Speaking of zen koans, is there a better zen riddle than "yes, we have no bananas"?

Tropical Race Four.

One of Dante's circles of Hell?

A political strategy?

A code name for war games?

An espionage message?

And of course Woody Allen's "Bananas" was funny, at least back in those days.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

nonversation

Good word. Especially as a riposte.

Nonversation.

"Mr. Boehner, your attempts at leadership so far are a nonversation, a nonstarter, a nominal nod to nihilism."

Thanks to Merriam-Webster for links like this demonstrating the dynamic and organic growth of English.

20 adverbs

A literary friend and colleague tells me her three-year-old granddaughter is lovingly, lately, [serial comma obeyed] and lushly taken with adverbs. She loves starting sentences with adverbs. In a nod and salute to her, here is a twenty-fold parade of adverbs:

1. laconically
2. Catonically
3. pianissimo
4. apodictically
5. voluptuously
6. asymptotically
7. munificently
8. coterminously
9. late
10.seriatim
11.sotto voce
12.eschatologically
13.latently
14.preternaturally
15.fast
16.upstairs
17.yesterday
18.neverthless
19.always
20.very

interrogastory

Speaking of "interrogastories," does my neologism interrogastory vaguely define a question asked while eating something delicious?

Just asking. Don't tell.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

honesty, examined

"I have tried to keep diaries before, but they didn't work out because of the necessity to be honest." -- John Steinbeck

Mr. Grapes of Wrath, what words would you wrought re blogging?

twenty interrogastories

  1. How would you like to die?
  2. What is it like to be alive?
  3. Where would you want to sing?
  4. Why do you want to know?
  5. Whom will you embrace as the sky is rent?
  6. Has the burnt sienna cooled yet?
  7. Do the words echo in your veins?
  8. Have you questioned having?
  9. Am I blue (a muted cobalt just south of Antwerp)?
  10. Would you if you could without getting caught or punished?
  11. With whom will you dive, sail, skim, [note serial comma] or float?
  12. Against what odds or flesh will you melt?
  13. Who remembers that nameless electric thrill?
  14. If not here and now, where and when?
  15. Should there be a law, any law?
  16. That being said, what is silence?
  17. Could the waves just stop?
  18. Which inaugural color will you wear, and what language will ban it?
  19. Is keeping score against the rules?
  20. In the end, can you call it a day or something else, i.e., some unit of time or space or imagination or pendulum-swinging suggestion or somnambulism?

Sunday, January 23, 2011

the Big Hurt

Jack LaLanne, fitness guru, has died at 96.

He was in before fitness was in. I remember him pumping iron when I was a kid, back in the late Fifties or early Sixties.

He reportedly said, "The only way you can hurt the body is not use it."

I, um, will [seemingly] resist the temptation to make metaphorical extensions regarding using or not using body parts, brainpower, soul power, et cetera.

So there. Resisted. Barely. Sort of.

Thanks, Jack LaLanne, for making exercise fun before it was hip.

Nowhereland, just north of Somewhere


Steps in Syracuse snowswept

Say it slower now

(Why the freezing weeping?)

Twin tracks tundra

Bridged rusted aborted

West Fayette Street spanned spun spawned

To what end

Nowhere

Somewhere

Over there by Fowler

No trains a-comin'

No whistle blowin'

In the wind or sun or rain

Unless you listen

Have you seen it lived it

Off the map off the grid

Derailed

Friday, January 21, 2011

enough to make you cry

Willie Mays. He played stickball with neighborhood kids.

No wonder he was my childhood hero.

Who shaped, opened, widened my views on race.

And why I stayed with the Giants even when they moved from New York to San Francisco.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

well regarded walking

Walked today from Tipp Hill to Carousel.

And back.

The angry cars snowbanks slush melted snow sidewalkless paths.

Footprints of the poor and young and old (me).

Not so much the human stain as cats and their piss making a mess of the once-pristine.

The army of cars zooms at you, if you're on the left, facing your threats head-on.

Drivers driven and grim. Some even seem to angle toward you, just for spite.

I got a loud "FUCK YOU!" angrily hurled at me from an open car window on Hiawatha Boulevard.

Now why is that?

What did I do?

"I'm walkin' heah" as Ratso Rizzo put it.

I concluded it's all perspective such as when you're in a car you come upon the pedestrian so fast then gone bang bang no time for reflection while the walker sees it in slow motion as it were.

Still.

A matter of regard, regard as in the French version or the America too, meaning:

LOOK.

So a walker is literally disregarded.

Not seen.

You are pretty much invisible.

And there's no time anyway.

Auto-mobile-ly speaking.

"He didn't notice that the lights had changed"

To sunset step by step regarding self

And Syracuse.

(I even played Sisyphus scurrying up an incline near Lord & Taylor like the claws of a scraggling crab.)

Saturday, January 15, 2011

naturally wondering


Wendy's is introducing "natural-cut fries with sea salt." That's from the package of a small order of fries, bought today, I am at liberty to say, in Liberty, New York, not far from Route 17.

NATURAL-CUT
FRIES
WITH SEA SALT

the package reads, also saying, "We slice up only whole Russet potatoes and leave the skin on to bring out their natural flavor." Also: "The result? Fries that are crispy, delicious, and totally irresistible." Hey! Maybe the serial comma is making a natural comeback! Love that serial comma after "delicious." Naturally. And meaningfully.

But here's the thing that has persnickety Pawlie scratching his grammarian's head: "natural-cut." It's that hyphenated adjectival construction that has me wondering.

  • In nature, do Russet potatoes, or any potatoes, undergo cutting?
  • How does natural cutting take place?
  • Who does it? The Grim Reaper?
  • What does it mean to be "naturally cut"?
  • Does it hurt?
  • Is it emo, even if naturally so?
  • What is the opposite of "natural-cut fries"? "Artificial-cut fries"?
  • How does one cut artificially? Through verbal ripostes?
Yass, yass, yass, as Jack Kerouac's Dean Moriarty would say, I think I know what Wendy's intends: natural taste, not processed, not doctored, not ruined by too much freezing, refreezing, microwaving, etc. Something like that. I get it. (Perhaps the copywriter could've called them "Natural, Cut Fries," but -- still -- what are "unnatural" fries? Picky. Picky. Picky. How about "Natural, Hand-Cut Fries"? Fine, but likely not literally true. Just thinking out loud, digitally, here.)

They're pretty good, the natural-cut fries from Wendy's. But I like Burger King's fries better; must be the peanut-oil taste. Arby's curly fries I like, too.

But hats off to Wendy's on its Apple Pecan Chicken Salad. Pretty good; reminds me of a Panera Bread salad.

Naturally.

And don't forget: the San Francisco Giants are still World Champs.

Still basking.

Friday, January 14, 2011

and when the cheering stopped

I watched President Barack Obama's eulogy for the victims, survivors, and heroes of the Tucson tragedy.

President Obama was passionate, moving, respectful, somber, eloquent, elegiac, fatherly, priestly, rhetorical, and transcendent. His words were a healing and a balm. His words were pastoral, in the sense of being like a pastor, or a shepherd.

I thank him.

I didn't quite get the crowd. I was shocked at the cheers. It sounded like a pep rally. Very odd, and disturbing, to me. Off-kilter, misplaced.

But Mr. Obama rose above all that and sternly but poetically exhorted us to be led by our better angels. He invoked scripture and patriotism to summon our better selves.

May it be so.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

moment of silence

On Monday, President Obama called for a moment of silence at 11 a.m. EST for the victims of the Tucson shooting rampage.

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, observed this moment of silence.

(How long does a moment last, by the way?)

I almost forgot to observe it. I saw that my laptop clock announced "11:02," and then sat quietly in my office chair, eyes closed, silent, for about three minutes.

I got to thinking: why not have a moment of silence every day?

Really, why not? Are we honestly too busy?

Could we not spare even one minute?

This practice is neither secular nor sacred (take your pick), neither atheist nor religious (who cares). Or all of those. Or none.

Why could we not pause, collectively, even if just for one minute, at 11 a.m EST every day?

I am totally convinced it would bear fruit; that it would be a step toward peace.

Why not?

How could it hurt?

(Yeah, yeah, there are legit exceptions: air traffic controllers, long-winded professors and politicians, emergency responders, panhandlers, doctors, radio blowhards, nurses, casino employees [ahem], and curmudgeons at coffee shops.)

But why not try it?

Give me 10 good reasons.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

gray matters

Gray matters, meaning all is not black and white, is it? Gray matters, as in all that stuff we associate with the brain and cognition (though neurologists tell us thinking and feeling really need each other and are not substantively different in a physiological terms). Gray matters, meaning the healthy person accepts, even embraces, doubt and ambiguity -- something that "originalists" and text-driven fundamentalists, literalists, have a hard time grasping.

So at lunch today my friend / mentor / brother /father /coach person handed me a small, well designed book, A Heart Full of Peace, by Joseph Goldstein, for Christmas 2010, with these words on page 91:

Love your crooked neighbor
with all your crooked heart.
-- W.H. Auden

Words that speak wisdom in today's climate of coarse discourse.

Poetry matters.

Gray.

Grey, too.

And black on white.

inaugural 2011 haiku


last October's leaves


alabaster chilled veneer

lazy flurries fall

gunsights? or surveyor symbols?

You decide [click].

Or ask Pinocchio.

Monday, January 10, 2011

a picture is worth


a thousand words, as the saying goes.

So, I realize I've been light on images and heavy on words.

I'll image-ine things up a bit.

(Any guesses as to what this is? Or where?)

everybody's special

Quote from The New York Times of January 6, 2011:

" 'The dirty little secret is that the largest special interests are us -- the vast majority of U.S. taxpayers,' the report said. 'Virtually all of us benefit from certain exclusions from income, deductions from income or tax credits.' " [I wonder if the actual report had the serial comma before "or tax credits." You can check here if you have the time. Not surprisingly, it is not a concise report.]

The report referred to above is from the National Tax Advocate's office. Nina E. Olson is the I.R.S.'s national taxpayer advocate.

I did not even know Nina was our I.R.S. ombudsman, or ombudswoman. Did you?

Hi, Nina.

You saying we're all special?

Awww.

Your point is well taken, Ms. Olson. I've said it before: everyone is all for reform until it affects him or her personally; then it is somebody else's problem, somebody else's profligate ways.

Friday, January 07, 2011

txtng txtng123

OMG LOL CU L8TR!

I have an ambivalent history and relationship with texting. First the brief history:

  • Until recently, our plan was such that each text was charged, something like thirty-five cents. This was because of the need to text primarily to Europe.
  • With so-called unlimited texting now as part of our plan (of course, texting is paid for, but in lump sum), I more readily send and receive texts.
  • I say "more readily," but I am not an agile texter, don't care to be, and my nearly obsolete phone does not facilitate rapid texting.
  • I accept and enjoy the simplicity of texting when I want a very brief exchange -- the same way that a screened message on an old-fashioned answering machine can be both convenient and diplomatic. And it saves time.
  • I recognize that texting is lousy at conveying tone.
  • Texting can also be a total waste of time.
  • K?
Now let's talk briefly about the diction and language of texting:
  • I am neither a scold nor one who is afraid of changes in the language. Language has always been dynamic, including its spelling conventions. English is enriched by slang and other revitalizing influences.
  • I have read that Japanese young women have written best-selling novels as texts.
  • WOW!
  • I have heard that text diction is becoming acceptable in student essays. My view? Not so good. Wrong context. There's a time to wear fancy clothes and a time for grunge. Same with language.
  • As a poet, I like the forced minimalism of texting. You are really driven to cut to the chase, to be telegraphically stark -- not just with wording but also with punctuation. In that sense, it can make you a better self-editor: "I did not need that many words. I certainly did not need such a highfalutin word."
  • But, alas, let us not forgot that just as simpler-than-Hemingway texting has its place so does serpentine and garrulous prose, with qualifiers and asides -- like this! -- as practiced by Proust, Joyce, [note serial comma] Kierkegaard or Faulkner, and that such florid and meandering prose -- which would be hard on one's thumbs -- paints more than thumbnail sketches: more like an intricate pointilism or a broad canvas of curvilinear strokes, dialogue, [note serial comma again] and nuanced depiction, fiction or not.
SUMTHNG 4 SOME1 TO THNK ABT

p.s. Although texting while driving will make you or others a post-factum postscript, many people persist in doing it, thinking, "I CN HNDLE IT."

Thursday, January 06, 2011

epigoni: word of the day

I choose "epigoni" as today's word. How? I randomly browsed through a recently given copy of The Lexicon by Wm. F. Buckley, Jr.

The word reminds me of Republicans reciting select portions (no unpleasant reminders of slavery, please) of the U.S. Constitution on the House floor today, an exercise in textual fundamentalism, puritan rigor, and showy self-righteousness.

So, why "epigoni," which means disciples, or in Buckley's phrasing: "Close followers, given to imitating, or being bound by, the star they become the creatures of"?

I see these aforementioned crusading moralists as the epigoni of the so-called Tea Party movement, or perhaps would-be epigoni of the Tea Party -- until such stance is not politically beneficial or not sufficiently subservient to the high priests of conservative orthodoxy.

The irony (fully intended) is that Buckley's example in his book lampoons the left, of course.

The singular of the word is epigonus.

According to Merriam-Webster, the pronunciation of both epigoni and epigonus puts the stress on "pig." (No comment.)

The trusty Online Etymology Dictionary sheds more light:

epigon, “undistinguished scions of mighty ancestors,” (sometimes in Latin plural form epigoni), from Gk. epigonoi, in classical use with reference to the sons of the Seven who warred against Thebes; plural of epigonos “born afterward” from epi (see epi-) + -gonos, from root of “to be born” related to gignesthaigenos "race, birth, descent"

Back to our regularly unscheduled blather.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

thinking and doing

Zen calendar quote today: "We never do anything well till we cease to think about the manner of doing it." I disagree. I get the Zen point, but in practical terms, isn't it precisely the opposite? I understand getting lost in the full reality of something. Well, I don't "understand" that, but I admit the validity of the viewpoint, the total immersion of lived experience. And yet, think of ballet classes, batting coaches, pitching coaches, mechanics, tutors, writing teachers, et cetera ad infinitum. speaking of Latin, here's where "age quod agis" comes into play: "do what you are doing."

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas...

I blogged.

Happy 12th day of Christmas, 2010.

And tonight is Twelfth Night, of Shakespearean renown.

Enjoy.

The snow is back in Syracuse.

Which almost sounds something like 'The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain."

Incidentally, our deposed and de-ornamentalized Christmas reclines snow-adorned near the curb.

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

swatch

I enjoy -- yes, enjoy -- the word "swatch." I like its sound and meaning.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary:

swatch
1510s, "the countercheck of a tally" (Northumberland dialect), later "a tally attached to cloth sent to be dyed" (1610s, in Yorkshire), of unknown origin. Meaning "a sample piece of cloth" is from 1640s.

As James Joyce or Edmund Lear might say:

"You better swatch out; you better not spout..."

Instead of Marketingspeak saying, "Our suite of services includes..." or "Our portfolio consists of Ex Why and Zee," I'm all for swapping out tired old "suite" and portly and lazy "portfolio" with "swatch." I hereby declare 2011 as The Year of Swatch! In fact, let's make it the year of swagger and swatch!

"Click on the tab to experience a swatch of our products."

"Swatch here to feel the texture of our designs." [Why not morph "swatch" into a verb?]

"Swatch me with your proposal by COB."

"We'll be sending you a swatch of our candidate's qualifications."

"Obama offered a swatch of this year's agenda."

Swatch.

It all started here.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happy Ninth Day of Christmas

Back to work tomorrow.

Monday.

First of the new year.

Quotidian quandaries.

Laundry.

Dishes. And dishing.

Up and at 'em.

The month of two-faced Janus.

Sleeves rolled up.

Even though it is not yet Epiphany, we have broken tradition and tossed our tree out unceremoniously to the curb. It was always a bit too lopsided and crooked, even for our lopsided and crooked tastes.

Happy Ninth Day of Christmas, worldwide readers.

My Annual Book List

According to his Confessions, which I confess I really have not read, Saint Augustine was converted upon hearing these words chanted: "Tolle lege," or "Take up and read." Of course, the book he picked up and read was the Bible (he randomly read a passage in Romans).

Not so dramatically, in an annual tradition, here are the books I read for 2010:

  1. The Geography of Bliss, by Eric Weiner
  2. The Humbling, by Philip Roth
  3. Scroogenomics, by Joel Waldfogel
  4. Halloween Through Twenty Centuries, by Ralph and Adelin Linton
  5. The Vanished Hands, by Robert Wilson
  6. The Body Artist, by Don DeLillo
  7. The Farmer's Daughter, by Jim Harrison
  8. Point Omega, by Don DeLillo
  9. Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend, by James S. Hirsch
  10. Bone Fire, by Mark Spragg
  11. The Pregnant Widow, by Martin Amis
  12. Homer & Langley, by E.L. Doctorow
  13. The Unnamed, by Joshua Ferris
  14. Words for Empty and Words for Full, by Bob Hicok
  15. Fame, by Daniel Kehlmann
  16. Letting Go of the Words: writing web content that works, by Janice (Ginny) Redish
  17. Ralph McGill: Reporter, by Harold H. Martin
  18. Our Kind of Traitor, by John le Carre