Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Litany of Proletarian Perfidy

Let's imagine, shall we, that a perfectly (no, imperfectly) loyal and devoted proletarian were to ponder the buffetings of quotidian winds on the Merciless Sea of Mercantilism. Said unspecified Interlocutor (for the sake of argument) might, just might, compose the following litany (to what deity? divining what divinations? auguring what Oughtness?):

From unanswered emails and unacknowledged voicemails sent from too far down the pecking order,

Spare us, Lord (or Chairman, Capitain, Commandat, etc.).

From gibes and taunts and prods and pokes (consonant with and in direct proportion to praise's icy absence),

Deliver us.

From keeping score and losing faith,

Save us.

From acting as if we care,

Lead us.

From daring to act "as if,"

Transport us.

From calculating "worth,"

Rescue us.

From walking out the feckin door only to smile and leave them wondering why,

Say amen!

(Who knows? It is vaguely possible the Intrelocutor will have a more rewarding day tomorrow. But one should not assume it.)

Sunday, November 25, 2007


I was privileged to attend a farewell celebration today for Father Joseph Bergin, a quick-to-smile neighbor who is retiring after 47 years as a priest. I can't claim to know him very well or for very long. I don't even belong to his parish, St. Mark the Evangelist, although the church is a mainstay of our neighborhood.

But I wanted to be there because, well, Father Joe is someone whose gentle kindness simply brims over. He is someone who makes you feel better just being around him; someone who remembers your name; someone who accepts you as you are. It's hard to articulate. Perhaps you are blessed to know someone like that. Perhaps you are such a person.

Originally from Ireland, he is an Episcopal priest whose travels have taken him to England, Ireland, Trinidad, Newfoundland, and Syracuse, New York. He is erudite but unassuming; witty but subtle; pious but not unctuous.

He spoke today of the God of surprises.

He related finding God in ways and places he had never expected to or wanted to, saying he has found the zigzag search rewarding. He even related a year of darkness and anger and loss of faith.

I wrote a haiku for him:

November snowmelt
sunlight shards cascading warmth
Love interwoven

Then, after a festive lunch tinged with sadness, I took my "evening" walk in the afternoon.

Lambent light.

Cloudless sky.

Pastel leaves. Skeleton branches.


Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Life, The Serial

On my misty, coolish dogwalk tonight, I noticed that the
graffito of LIFE with the "i" dotted with an "x," on a small electrical utility shed, was gone.

LIFE, vanished, without a trace.

As if LIFE were but a dream.

I miss LIFE.

Where'd it go, now that its resident surface is scrubbed clean, freshly painted, pristine?

Can LIFE even exist on such a pristine surface anyway?

LIFE, I was just getting to know you. I was on the cusp of what you wanted to tell me, who put you there, and why.

Now, it's like starting over.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lobal Warming

I was waiting for my gastronomic Santa Fe salad to be prepared (just for me, because they had run out) at the mall food court. As I was leaning back against the counter, surveying the grand expanse of
boulevardiers en shoppant, my meditation was interrupted by two young customers, ordering their own repasts.

One of these two females (discretion and the prevailing ethical winds prevent me from estimating the age range of said imaginary characters encountered by an imaginary pseudonymous blogger, but suffice it to say that Vladimir Nabokov was a novelist and lepidopterist, whose own imagination allowed the wings of his fantasies to brush against unconventional nets regarding these matters) suddenly turns to me, stares at me, sighs, and sweatily says, "I'm so hot!"

(Did I mention the ample display of human flesh, the twin peaks of June in the cold heart of November? Did I forget to sing the glories of Grand Tetons cleaving to ancient concupiscence?)

The mind is a funny thing. I'm reading a lot about neurons and dendrites and stuff in a book by author and fellow blogger Jonah Lehrer. The fascinating book is titled "Proust Was a Neuroscientist." Lehrer's book cites works like Oliver Sacks's "The Man Who Mistook His Wife For a Hat."

The mind, especially the erotically inclined comic mind or the comically inclined erotic mind, would have found it so easy to say, "Yes, you are" and politely smiled, if that is remotely possible.

In the space of milliseconds, nanoseconds, the mind races through the menu of myriad responses, verbal or otherwise, available to it. Alas, the dendritic firings/misfirings and molecular exchanges are set in genomic motion before my creation, ordered up in a gastronomic soup of RNA, DNA, and YIKES!

So often in my life the wrong words have slipped out even as the Strict Catholic Command Center shouted, "DON'T SAY IT DON'T SAY IT DON'T!"

With a straight line like hers, what wisecracker could resist saying, "Yes, you are"?

"Hot? Been to the gym?" I feebly mumbled.

I didn't quite get her reply. Seeing her chuckle, rather than watching her summon security, was relief enough.

Then her plastic didn't work.

I didn't even offer to buy dinner for her.

See? All that lobal warming stuff is just a myth.

Monday, November 19, 2007


Actually, I loathe it when debaters or essayists or
smart alecks prissily intone, "Well, according to the dictionary . . . " Or they say, "According to Webster's..."

Which feckin dictionary, mate? Which Webster's? (Did you know "Webster" and "Roget's" can be used by anyone? Hence, those 1,200-page Webster dictionaries on sale for $3.99.)

Dictionaries vary, often widely.

Anyway, I digress, even before I progress. My reentry today from my bed-ridden torpor was rocky and woozy. At times I figured: "Wow, I guess I really was sick and not just lounging around on Cayman Brac."

According to Merriam-Webster:


Main Entry:
15th century
1: a retaking possession; especially : entry by a lessor on leased premises on the tenant's failure to perform the conditions of the lease
2: a second or new entry
3: a playing card that will enable a player to regain the lead
4: the action of reentering the earth's atmosphere after travel in space

Notice, it ain't re-entry. Most stylebooks and dictionaries go for the compressed modern and minimalist no-frills, sans hyphen form.

In my postreentry (I'm just not into hy-phen-at-ing to-day, o-kay?) mode, I'll keep things brief by responding to those four diverse meanings (known to lexicographers as senses) listed by Mr. and Mrs. Nigel Graves Merriam-Webster III, Esq., above.

1. My retaking of my work demesne barely exorcised the demons or exercised the day's multiplicity of mandates (translation: it was unnerving just to catch up on e-mails and voice messages). Alas, I greeted Botanist Colleague and thanked her for her concerns and good wishes, bowing before her, and was pleased to get a call and some direct kudos for helping to secure a great article about the firm in Sunday's paper).

2. Yes, yes (yassssss, yassssss, for Kerouac fans) my entry was new, as if undertaken by a new person, some kind of airy and unbalanced alien creature unused to formulating footsteps on strange terrain.

3. That would be The Joker, Monsieur le Kokonuts, eh?

4. Man! The heat shield was wobbling today! Whew! Made it!

Before signing off, let me note:

a) While in bed the first 36 to 40 hours, I didn't stir. No reading. No TV. No nothing. Not even sex! Then, I started vegging out on some TV. The movie "Armageddon" was on TV Saturday night. I just could not bear that movie - not even the channel-surfing version. It is painfully bad. I did like the channel-surf-abbreviated version (CSAV) of "King Kong" (a misnomer: should have been called "Crashing Taxis") and a made-for-TV piece on the Kennedys' wives (schmaltz is part of the reentry process; plus, there's a connection: reentry + Kennedys + space race + reentry to the world; something like that).

b) I did walk the dog tonight. Briefly. I didn't even look for the LIFE graffito. Ooooops! Is that an omen? Or Zen detachment?

Nice seeing you all again.

Need more meds.

Or bed.

P.S. Someone queried me about a "driving the porcelain bus" reference, asking for clarification. I said, "Kneeling." That was, um, enough.

Friday, November 16, 2007


Since about 12:30 a.m. Friday, I have been bed-ridden, except for the times I was driving the ol' porcelain bus, on my knees.

Needless to say, didn't work today.

You all likely saw it coming, with the prequel of fatigue.

I called in this morning, and took care of a few matters. Maybe. I doubt if our office manager did what I asked.

And it ain't as if she offered, "Feel better."

Oh well. Today was payday, but I have direct deposit.

Which I had during my Porcelain Homage.

On the mend.

P.S. Didn't Kierkegaard write a book called Sickness Unto Death? I don't even have the energy to Google it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Ho Ho Brouhaha

Sydney's Santas have been warned against yelling out, "Ho ho ho ho!" Someone felt it might be considered offensive to women and it might scare children.

"Hahaha" was recommended as a substitute.


Maybe it depends on how you say it.

Hypothetically, it might just be offensive if Santa shouts out one declaration of "ho" followed by a pause and a leer at a woman or group of women. Maybe, just maybe they'd have a point, especially if Santa's famous red pants were hanging down to his knees and he were grabbing his crotch while saying it. Hypothetically, that is. Then again, in the case just described Santa might just be filming a music video. A video for what? (Parody titles escape me.)

What do I know? Not much.

What else is there to say?

Huh Huh Huh?

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

a life exposed

At one point this afternoon, I wanted to surrender to the seduction of sleep. And why not? Spaniards have their siestas (some even go home, put their pajamas on, and have at it -- napping, that is). And why not? Armada or not, the Spanish have been around a long time, longer than our society, and seem to do just fine.

I think I was experiencing an adrenaline letdown after all the excitement and energy of preparing for an interview Tuesday at City Hall involving our company and several others, an interview not deemed important enough for one Common Councilor to attend and not important enough for another Common Councilor who was on the selection committee to do more than come late and then leave after 10 minutes or so, which infuriated me, a corporate bystander at this interview but one who had spent the previous day and more in prepping the team collegially. Uncommon Councilors. Dreadful.

Tonight's walk had its own revelation: remember that piece of graffito with the word LIFE with the x over the i? At first glance, I thought someone had tried to paint over the word, a cover-up of animate form. But, no, just the opposite. It seems that LIFE has been scrubbed to the bone, down to the bare cinder blocks, forming a faux bas-relief.

Was someone trying to clean LIFE, only to find that the background got scrubbed but LIFE persisted?

Did howling rains cause some kind of rapid-fire weathering? (Doubt it.)

Or was it like that all along, but I didn't remember it that way?

In reading "Proust Was A Neuroscientist," I am finding reinforcement in my belief that memory is always unreliable, a faulty archive.

What will LIFE look like tomorrow?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Comma Again?

The following is a semi-demi-hemi-quasi-correction of the immediately preceding post.

(As you'll see, this is getting to be like a Del Shannon song, with a refrain of "comma, comma, comma, ki-yay-ay.")

On Sunday, I broke down and bought the Times (New York, not London). (No matter that the girl at the grocery store thought it was $4, and I felt compelled to convince her the price of the Times is half a sawbuck in locales beyond the NYC metro area. Call me a fool.)

Later, as I am perusing the NYT Book Review, I notice that its vaunted best seller (best stellar?) list lists the aforeposted Cosby/Poussaint book (under "how-to, advice, etc.," but not under "how to punctuate") as "Come On, People" with its proper commatization (the term, albeit indefensible, is mine).

Shivers go down my spine. (Or was it up my spine? Or along my cerebral cortex?)

To be truthful, I had based my whole earlier diatribe on: a) a coupon from Borders showing an image of the book and b) a press release from the publisher, which I linked. But I did not in fact ever have the book
physically in my hands to see, with my own non-doubting-Pawlie eyes, what was on the book. (Don't you just love when people say that? How else would the book be in my hands, metaphysically? Whom do you think I am, Plato? [Is that a vocative comma, or an appositive comma?])

This shivering doubt was accompanied by a similar eerie discovery: the Times has a full-page ad for a new translation of Tolstoy's
War and Peace. Again, in a picture of the book, in the ad, it says "tranlation." (Then it dawned on me with gonging clarity: this is what the estimable Murphy's Craw recently blogged about, with his ever-clever headline, which I missed the first time.)

So, tonight I went to Borders, found the book, and picked it up. Here's what I found:

-- The front cover (dust jacket, is that the term?) of the book says "Come On People" without the needed vocative comma.

-- The spine of the dust jacket does the same.

-- The copy on the dust jacket flap, however, refers to the book with the vocative comma. In fact, the copy ends with an exhortation: "Come on, people."

-- The physical book (as opposed to metaphysical) itself has no comma on the spine (if memory serves correctly; what, you think I'm feckin' crazy, standing there taking notes?)

-- Then, within the book, the title pages correctly say "Come On, People."

Do you think this makes me feel as if the error is somehow mitigated because it does not show up everywhere? Wrong. I'll tell you what: the writer/editor in me would rather see it wrong consistently, than inconsistently right. Especially in technical editing, you really want to be consistent in style and in the application of your own rules scheme.

Someone dropped the ball . . . egregiously.

The editor is at fault.

You just cannot let such sloppiness run amok. When you're that sloppy with something so important, who's to say you're not as sloppy, or sloppier, with everything else?

Who needs sloppy seconds, grammatically speaking?

Come on, people.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Comma Drama

Last night, around 10 p.m. a dozen or so young guys paraded out of the second-floor flat of Jesse, the fellow next door. I mean, they looked like a human centipede coming out of the porch. Or like the silk scarves that endlessly come out of a magician's sleeve. Whew!

As predicted by my wife, after their jaunt down the hill, presumably to Coleman's Authentic Irish Pub, the guys (and now a few gals) returned around 2 a.m. and made a ruckus.

Come on, people! We're trying to sleep here!

Speaking of which:

There's a new book out titled:

Come On People

subtitled: On the Path From Victims to Victors

By Bill Cosby and Alvin F. Poussaint, M.D.

Now, based on some of the estimable Mr. Cosby's recent comments and the subtitle, I can surmise that the book has a laudable premise and narrative exposition. Fine. No problem. Applause.

However, I have a quibble with the title.

It needs an important comma placed after the word "on."

Otherwise, without that vocative comma -- how shall I delicately express this? -- the title conjures up an indefensible and impolitic, if pornographic, imperative to broadcast one's seminal "concepts" in a democratic and egalitarian way. Gross!

And Mr. Cosby has a doctorate in education (but not grammar); his co-author is a medical doctor. Come on, guys!

You can rely on The Laughorist to staunchly defend us from solecisms of punctuation.

(And, yes, you can split an infinitive with impunity, as in the sentence above.)

Friday, November 09, 2007

Sound Bites

About 2.5 years ago (Jim The Engineer [JTE] would know how long ago it was; he was engineeringly keeping an Excel chart on it for a while), I phoned JTE on a Friday and said,

"Let's go to Pho Saigon for lunch today. You know, make it a regular thing, sit at the same table, like a couple old men in Miami."

We did. JTE even dubbed the event OML, for Old Man's Lunch.

Simon The Brit (STB) had introduced me to the place. I fell in love with L2, Lemongrass Chicken, so much so that as time went on owners Jackie and David knew my order. Knew all our orders automatically. It was a given. L2 for me, except for the rare aberration. Simon's regular was either #13 or #26, vegetarian noodle soup or an alternative.

Typically, JTE and Ethan My Son (EMS) would order by just saying, "I'll have Simon's." (I think the noodle soup was the default option; correct me if I'm wrong, JTE, STB, or EMS.)

For a year or more, Jim and I were mainstays. Others were added to the mix: Charlie The Engineer, Kellie LA, Jenny, JCG, and even Wifey, JoJo, and when conditions permitted BalletDaughter and Irishstep Daughter. Once, we must've had 13 or 14 people at a big oval table.

L2 for me, thank you.

Then we drifted off. Our office moved downtown. Plus Kevin, David's son, experienced a dreadful eye injury last winter while chipping at a huge icicle on the building.

Pho Saigon's hours became more irregular.

I became irregular (I'm trying more fiber. HAHAHAHAHAHAAHHA.)

Today I hankered and hungered for L2.

STB, JTE, and I convened at Pho. Closed.

We proceeded several block to another Vietnamese restaurant. Probably more people there for lunch than totaled in two years at Pho. But I like Pho's phood better; Simon likes this place better, the food that is.

Anyway, at lunch today it was a bit of a reunion: JTE, SBT, newly married EMS, and I.

The camaraderie was an oasis amidst a fuckedupfrenzied workday. For me at least. Or most.

In between sips of noodle soup, Jim, alias JTE, was relating a business narrative and said something like,

"I was not the decision maker, but influenced it."

"Put that on my tombstone," I said.

Laughter all around, with some chili sauce added.

I noted how my webstore had sold a few "I Leap for Kierkegaard" T-shirts these past few weeks, even one to someone in Australia.

JTE: "How many gross have you sold total?"

ME: "You kidding? I haven't sold a gross in two-plus years! I've never cleared a profit for one month!"

A gross? I mean, I'd love to make money while I sleep.

Who wouldn't?

Pass the chopsticks.

Thursday, November 08, 2007


Yesterday, a friend at lunch edited something I had just said (
"Don't edit speech," intoned Lou R., news editor, years back). Well, the friend at lunch didn't so much as edit my speech as critique it. He meant well, but it was slightly annoying.

But I couldn't disagree with his point: he caught me in a habit. I often qualify a statement of value and worth about myself, as if it needs explaining or footnoting or justification or mitigation. I had added a phrase such as "well, nobody's perfect," to a positive observation about myself. Harmless enough and truthful enough, but he was onto something. He was right. There was no need to show low self-esteem by adding a demurral, a disclaimer, a qualifier.

It's like when someone says to you, "That's a gorgeous dress" (ooooops! let's not CROSS into adDRESSING another topic here!), and you feel compelled to say, "I bought it on sale."

No. Just smile and say thanks.

That sort of thing.

Know what I mean?

I'm tired. It's time for bed.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Signs of the Night

Tonight's walk:

Last summer's swimming pool, alabaster, empty, silent, bathed in light. Not one echo of August's rowdy, tense crowd simmering in a cauldron of raw longing, restlessness, and a dash of suspicion. Black elongated crosses demarcate depths and diving areas at the far end. A black wrought-iron fence guards the perimeter of the pool. The empty pool strikes a monumental pose. It looks like some kind of shrine with its radiance and stillness. A shrine to what? Snowflakes aimlessly fly about in the brisk wind. What if the pool were a sacred shrine, a local Taj Mahal? What if someone proclaimed The Burnet Park Pool as a tourist venue, designed by, say, Frank Gehry or Frank Lloyd Wright? Just saying so, people would think about it differently. But I don't need such proclamations. It is luminous and miraculous, just as it is.

Walking back home, the "clean, well-lighted place" (Hemingway's phrase) behind me, I see graffiti on a small concrete-block building housing electrical equipment. (Ever since my trips to Berlin, Germany, I'm more open-minded about graffiti.) The tag is:


in urban blocky font, in black spray paint.

The "i" is not dotted.

Where the dot on the "i" would be, is a small x.

Which makes me wonder, yet again.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Vote for Me

Of course, the motto of the Solipsist Party is "It's ALL About Moi" (if you're going to be snooty, it never hurts to throw in le mot juste en francais).

I voted this evening. I did not vote for me, betraying the great solipsistic principles this land, and this weblog, was built on. (Should I have typed were? Perhaps. My grammar cortex lobe is resting.)

We have old-fashioned voting machines here with levers that click firmly in place. I like it that way. I hope we never switch to the newfangled devices.

The act of voting makes me feel proud to exercise the privilege, recognizing that many have died to safeguard this right.

Then again, I sometimes feel cheated. Sort of like buyer's remorse. These are the best choices available to us? One official I'm pleased to vote for ran unopposed, but he works harder than anyone, going door-to-door to meet his constituents. That's how I met him. And he's not like that only at election time.

Too often our system rewards the richest, the most connected, the most feckless, the most harmless, the most shallow. On the national level, that's true exponentially.

Wouldn't we feel better if candidates unabashedly embraced their solipsistic inner child? Wouldn't we feel relieved to hear a candidate get honest for once and say, "You know what, folks? I'm in this for the prestige, the ego flattery, the attention, and the connections this will get me. Vote for me."

Monday, November 05, 2007

A Sentence of Enlightenment

Walking the dog in the too-early night, not being accustomed to this artificial invitation to one hour less of evening light, I am buffeted by whirling winds while simultaneously amused by Maggie's chasing of a wind-driven leaf here and then there, as if it were an escaping prey, and then dazzled by the surprising array of whitish-yellow lights draping two maples at the crest of the hill in the park overlooking the city, awaiting the advent of a feast of light on the darkest night.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Oral Fixation

Oral fixation, it's not just what you think. Oh sure, my oral fixation is shamelessly succulent (well, given my strict Catholic upbringing, redact that to "shamefully") and mammary. Add to that addictiveness a new oral fixation, quite literally a fix-ation.

Let me explain.

The ear-nose-throat doctor-cum-dentist tells me it's TMJ that is at the root of my non-root-canal jaw pain. (You people need to get your minds out of the pig trough:
cum here is from Latin and means with. And it ain't pronounced like that word in skin mags. [The Merriam-Webster link has a pronunciation sound bite.] Besides, it's high-class porn we aim for here anyway.) More accurately, he noted that TMJ describes a muscle and bone structure, not a syndrome.

So, my oral fix-ation consists of a number of things:

1) putting ethyl chloride on the skin outside my jaw and near my ear and temple. That's kind of cool, literally. It creates a freezing. The cotton ball makes a crinkling sound. Do athletes and ballet dancers spray this directly on, say, a pulled hamstring? I imagine the danger is that in merely masking the symptoms you incur greater injury.

2) Megadoses of naproxen (Aleve), which I'm not fond of.

3) Which brings me tonight's topic: I'm supposed to do this jaw exercise:

-- Place tongue on roof of mouth.

-- Open to approximately half of normal opening; keep tongue in place. Open for 10 seconds; rest 15 seconds.

-- Repeat for 6 times, 3 times a day. After 2 days, increase to 12 times, 3 times a day. After 2 more days, increase to 18 times, 3 times a day. After 3 days, change your name to Pinocchio or any wooden marionette of your choosing. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!


Just picture it.

I look like one of those choirboys-cum-eunuchs on a Christmas card.

Or in a meeting at work, the person on the opposite side of the table will think I'm mocking every word. (Darn! Caught again!)

Someone on the bus (if I ever take it again) will think my mouth motions are an entreaty to meet them in a back alley at the next stop for some oral hijinks.

Oral fixation indeed.

Eighteen times three times a day?

Cum on!

Not on your maxillary-dental-labial life!