Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Year in Review, Literarily

Well, here's the year in review. Literally.

Or should I say "literarily"? (Yes, I should.) Anyway, what I mean to say is, here's a list of my reading matter (i.e., books) for the year 2006. (Incidentally, do you say "two thousand six" or "twenty-oh-six"? I hear the former, though I wish the latter took hold. I heard "twenty-oh-six" on BBC World Service last night.) The Irish Independent (seen here being perused by an erudite if slightly effeminate-looking Laughorist en route from Malahide to Dublin, last October) doesn't count. Just books.

Do people read actual real books anymore? I fear not too many do. That does not make me better or worse. I'm a slow reader, one who savors a book. Yes, I read magazines and newspapers too -- hard copy -- but I am most faithful to books. I need to read a book before falling asleep (yes, even after THAT). I know, I'm so retro.

Here's my rather short list, unadorned with editorial comment.

1. On Beauty by Zadie Smith (novel)

2. The Brooklyn Follies by Paul Auster (novel)

3. Attention.Deficit.Disorder by Brad Listi (novel)

4. Blue Angel by Francine Prose (novel)

5. Delights & Shadows by Ted Kooser (poetry; former U.S. Poet Laureate; I shook his hand)

6. McCarthy's Bar by Pete McCarthy (travel; humor)

7. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (novel)

8. Born to Be Mild by Dave Armitage (novel)

9. The Beast God Forgot to Invent by Jim Harrison (three novellas)

10. To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (novel)

11. The Pornographer by John McGahern (novel)

12. Praying Like Jesus by James Mulholland (spiritual commentary)

13. A Year to Live by Stephen Levine (psychology/meditation)

14. The Wind-up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (novel) (about 40 pages and I'll be done; I promise, I'll finish by December 31 -- Deo volente).

(Addendum: OK. I did finish it, last night, on December 30. Can I start and finish something short in one day? Perhaps Steve Martin's The Pleasure of My Company?)

Name one of your books of 2006. Just one.


Thank you.

Happy and peaceful and healthy and blessed 2007. One day at a time.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

'Time' Is On My Side (Yours, Too!)

So. You've heard. Time Magazine has named me Person of the Year 2006. And you.

And also you.

And you. You too.

Yup, it celebrates the blogging community and the World Wide Web (some call it Web 2.0) and all its creative and collective and collaborative (and alliterative) and communal chaos and connectiveness.

Yay us. Yay me.

I admit to being conflicted over this. I carefully pored over Time's announcement and did not see one mention of The Laughorist. At all.

And, to be honest, the essay praising us did not mention you either.

Or you either.

No mention of The Wonderful World of Nothing Worthwhile, Meloncutter Musings, or These Are Me Thinks, or the Not-So News, or The Pole Affair, or To Love, Honor, and Dismay, or Odat's Mumblings, or The Bestest Blog, or Ron Bramlett, or I'm Sorry World, or Flip This Body , or Dafathsdays, or Sheila's Thoughts of the Day, or Natalie, or HeartsinSanFrancisco, or JR'sThumbprints -- all right already. You get the picture. (The Shangri-Las: "Yes, we see.")

Alas, no specific citation of A Chuisle Mo Chroi, or Eat Your Young, or Dating Profile of the Day, or LaughMoreLoveMoreFearNot, or Monicker either.

What about the reliably and humorously observant Mist1? Not a word.

O Time! O tempora, o mores!

Hey, this is getting to read like the Litany of Saints, Sinners, and Everything-in-Between. Does anyone know what a litany literally is anymore? asks the ex-seminarian.

But as I said from my very first post, this is all about solipsism, so how can I claim to be disappointed?

Carry on.

As you were.

Who will the Person of the Year be in 2007?

You? Or you? You? Me?

The Cornflake King? [welcome back, and say hello to Crunchy Durden!]

Just me, The Laughorist?

Laugh. Or....


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Inquisition, or "We Need to Talk"

For several days now, the most frequently emailed article from The New York Times website has involved Questions Couples Should Ask (Or Wish They Had) Before Marrying. It's smart stuff. You know, things about children, sex, finances, work, chores. Exactly the kinds of topics many of us diligently avoided as we dashed toward Nuptial Nirvana.

One excellent fellow blogger, Dr. Andrew, devotes his whole blog more or less to such topics at To Love, Honor and Dismay.

As a veteran of more than one domestic war and occasional, almost-accidental tranquillity, The Laughorist hereby offers some important prenuptial or postnuptial questions of his own:

1. Do you snore?

2. Do you ever get the feeling you are a man trapped inside a woman's body, or vice versa, or some combination thereof?

3. Whom do you think of while we're having sex?

4. Do you leave the cap off the toothpaste? Why? (Or why not?)

5. Does it bother you if someone pees in the shower even if you will never find out, and is the asking of this question really going to scotch the whole thing?

6. Where were you on the night of January 28, 1993?

7. How many sporting events (or soap operas) will you watch weekly?

8. Who are your favorite authors? (A response such as "Well, I don't know; I don't read much" should set off gongs in your head.)

9. What would Kierkegaard say (WWKS)?

10. How do you spell o-r-g-a-s-m?

11. Does size matter to you?

12. Do you leave the toilet seat up or down, and why?

13. Do you wash your hands with soap after using the toilet? How many times?

14. What are you most afraid of (see question 11)?

15. Do you mind if I run a credit check and background check on you?

16. Do you hear voices? If so, what do they say about me?

17. Paper or plastic? Or neither?

18. What are your greatest shortcomings? What are mine, if any?

19. In your own words, what does it mean if somebody (in the words of the comedian Robert Klein) "dreams of a hot dog chasing a donut in the Lincoln Tunnel"?

20. Would you mind if I just have some time alone and think things over a little bit right now; I'm reconsidering a whole bunch of things in my life after all these questions, okay?

Laugh. Or....


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Spinmeister, Well-Heel Thyself

Well, there's spindoctors and then there's spinmeisters. And the latter are very well heeled. As in platinum or gold. Turns out, there's this d.j. in New York City who caters to the posh uppercrust, at fund-raising galas and such, pinkies-out affaires, attended by those with interchangeable first, last, or middle names (you know, like Whitney Brewster Harrington, or vice or thrice versa, or Alexandra Bennington Vermont).

As noted in today's New York Times, one Tom Finn is said to command $5,000 to $12,000 per night to play tunes for the rich and famous and powerful (and mostly white and mostly uncoordinated).

He does about 70 nights a year, it says. (What's he do on his off days? Spin pizza dough down at the corner pizza shop?)

You do the math. A minimum of approximately 5,000 times 70. Dollars. Not pesos.

Oh, he used to be with singing group The Left Bank. Remember their song? "Walk Away Renee"? Shite, he almost had his band aptly named. Should've been The Right Bank.

Up to $12,000 a night.

Give him his due. He's not just spinning records or playing CDs. He creates a mood (a mood to help people reach into their alligator-skin wallets or their Coach purses).

The story noted that he's the man for fund-raising galas, such as for New York City Ballet or high-society shindigs.

So let me get this straight. My daughter, and legions of other ballet dancers, train daily, often through grueling injuries, and do the actual performing of the art, and they all probably are lucky to get paid $12,000 a night combined, in total, for all I know!

And my wife, who is a neonatal intensive care nurse, actually makes less than $1,000 a night, even on the night shift. Can you believe it?

What's your salary per night? Or day?

You're right.

Life ain't fair.

We all know that.

But maybe this is what our opponents and "enemies" mean when they refer to our having a morally bankrupt society.

A d.j. at a fund-raiser (maybe even a fund-raiser for the poor -- a word no one would dare use there) reeling it in.

Laughing all the way to the Left Bank, or any bank.

What would Jesus say? (or pay?)

What would Kierkegaard say?

Laugh. Or....


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

A CAPital OFFense

So I get this prescription, a steroid ointment. It comes in a tube. My toes were itching and burning like they were ablaze. Eczema. Fine. I open the box for the ointment and throw the directions out. I go to apply the cream and find that a metallic seal first has to be broken. (Warning to Freudian psychoanalysts: please refrain from the obvious. Much obliged.) I use a Q-tip to break the seal, apply the cream. Great.

Then I find that the cap does not stay on. It slides off. It is too loose. I consider going back to the pharmacist. (This was last Friday, a very cold but otherwise warm-hearted, pleasant afternoon, later followed by my Saint Nicholas gig.)

"Phil, I can't seem to get this cap to stay on," I would've said.

Or, "Karen, can you help me to screw [on this cap]?" I imagined flirting with his assistant.

But, no, I don't go back to the pharmacy. I figure I'll live with it. So the cap is loose. Let the feckin thing stay loose.

But I am too anal-retentive to let this go entirely. Or at all.

I bring this issue up casually with my housemate, my partner (OK! my spouse, if you prefer).

I tell her about it.

Before I even finish a sentence, she experiences gales of laughter, paroxysms of pleasure (humorous pleasure; you all have dirty minds).

To be fair to her -- and to me -- not malicious laughter. The kind that it is easy to go along with and perhaps even laugh along with.

She informs me. No. Wait. She doesn't inform me; she silently takes the fecking cap and takes it off and puts it on via the other end.

I was wondering what the pointy cone was for. Oh! To puncture the seal! And then to reverse the cap and place it on the screw portion, the threads. O Freudimus maximus!

I told her this was easy for her because she works in a hospital. She does this sort of thing every day.

Does anyone out there know what I am talking about? Am I a retro-pre-Luddite in a modern age? Am I alone in having the universe pass me by?

If you are all laughing at me, I hate you all.

I admit to being an intellectual snob.

I may have to drop the penultimate word from that previous sentence.

Screw it. Screw you all.

Laugh. Or....


Saturday, December 09, 2006

Saint Ersatz

Unseemly (and unsightly, some would say) as it seems, Pawlie Kokonuts (a.k.a. The Laughorist) played the part of Saint Nicholas yesterday. (This is either a new low, or a new high, depending on one's honesty or perspective.) The appearance marked the Feast of Saint Nicholas, December 6, at a local church event.

It involved Yours Truly donning a long, white robelike article of clothing, cardboard bishop's miter, wooden staff, and red velvety cape that weighs about 127 pounds. I did not wear a beard (except for my real goatee, trimmed very tightly today incidentally) or in any way try to disguise my so-called normal visage and appearance. And no ho-ho-ho's.

If you children don't behave, I will either spank you, or show you pictures of this episode.

In all seriousness, I tried to -- in a quiet way -- make a sort-of anti-Santa Claus statement.

The youngsters gathered around in a circle before me, and I crouched down to chat with them. Here are some of the things I told them, or tried to convey (whether based on facts or legends, I didn't get into; it doesn't matter):

  • The real Saint Nicholas, from present-day southeastern Turkey but under control of Greece in the 4th century, loved the poor.
  • And he showed it. When his wealthy parents died, he gave his whole inheritance toward helping the poor and lonely and troubled and suffering.
  • The whole bit about putting little gifts in stockings or shoes was based on the legend of his anonymous gifts to poor girls.
  • He loved children.
  • He loved them whether they were naughty or nice. He loved them. Period.
I don't deny I am flawed and filled with many contradictions. (After all, last month I managed to read these two books, though not exactly simultaneously: The Pornographer, a novel by the late Irish author John McGahern, and Praying Like Jesus: The Lord's Prayer in a Culture of Prosperity by James Mulholland. The former was ultimately dismal and only occasionally erotic, sort of like the movie "Alfie"; the latter was a challenging indictment about the misuses of Christianity in the world's richest nation.)

My point is: somehow I juggle these disparate tangents of self, these self-delusions.

But yesterday's event, and my little research leading up to it, underscored how Western society, and most especially the United States, has perverted everything Saint Nicholas stood for. We call it Christmas and Santa Claus, but ain't it really Capitalism and $anta Claw$? (And I'm not naive: an immediate cessation of this nonsense would cause economic hardship to many; the tamped-down economic activity would shed thousands and thousands, if not millions, of real jobs.)

Well, it explains, just a little, why I'm such a holiday curmudgeon.

Laugh. Or....


Thursday, December 07, 2006

H a i k u

wind-swirled snow crystals
landing on naked branches
unvirginned hardscape

these gloved hands wonder
where August's sweat is hiding --
until they find skin

carnal petals sleep

the white dream of memory

pulsing but empty

a harbor of pearls
beckons the lunar nightscape
cumulus shrouded

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

In Flagrunte Delicto

Warning. Any time you see a heading in Latin, you know you are in for some high-brow, pinky-sticking-out-from-your fluted-glass snobbery.

As delicately described at Wikipedia:

In flagrante delicto or sometimes simply in flagrante (Latin: "while the crime is blazing") is a legal term used to indicate that a criminal has been caught in the act of committing an offense (compare corpus delicti). The colloquial "caught red-handed" or "caught in the act" are English equivalents.

The Latin term has come to be used far more often as a euphemism for a couple being caught in the act of sexual congress; in modern usage the intercourse need not be adulterous or illicit.

But wait. The astute reader will see that Senor Laforisto has cleverly changed the phrase to in flagrunte delicto.

Why is that?

A recent article in The New York Times noted that certain fitness clubs expel members for grunting in the gym. The particular case cited had to do with the forbidden grunting of a weightlifter.

Now, maybe I'm all wet on this, or barking up the wrong tree, but grunting at a health or fitness club (where you most assuredly will not find me) might be rude but not as rude, say, as grunting in church or temple or ashram or other place of worship. Or any number of other good-etiquette-demanding circumstances.

So let's talk about this, shall we?

Good to grunt: bathroom (especially if constipated), bedroom (alone or with another(s), but let's monitor the decibels if in an apartment complex, okay?), barn, amusement park ride, sports stadium, while walking the dog (in cane ambulato).

Bad to bark: bathroom (at work), hotel bedroom (oh, go ahead, I don't care), in work cubicle, on first date, on last date.

Your turn. Send those e-postcards right in, from all around the grunting globe!

Laugh. Or....


Monday, December 04, 2006

A Little Latino Beat

Perhaps you've heard the beat of these Latino hooves.

Here's "Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer," in Latin, in a version purported to be translated by a Harry C. Maynard. It all comes from a smart and terrific blog, apparently posted by a Laura Gibbs at Latin Christmas Carols.

Rudolphus, naso rubro,
naso nitidissimo,
si umquam eum spectes,
dicas eum fulgere.

Reliqui tum renones
deridebant ludentes,
semper vetabant eum
apud ludos ludere.

Deinde ante Natalem
Santa venit, et
"Tu, Rudolphe nitide,
traham meam duc nocte."

Dein, ut renones amant,
exclamantes hilare:
"Rudolphe, naso rubro,
in annalibus eris!"

Now get back to work!

Age quod agis.

("Do what you are doing.")

Laugh. Or....