Monday, May 31, 2010

quiet memorial

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

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

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

Sunday, May 30, 2010

walky talky

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

[ ]

this is a silence between posts


The sermon was about space.

And silence.

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

The space between words or sounds, which call silence.

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

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

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

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


Sunday, May 23, 2010

church window haiku, outside Saint David's

flowering crabtree
rock on rock water trickles
still chipmunk listens

resigned to re-signation

"Welcome to Tipperary Hill."

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

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

You are welcome.

You're welcome.

Thank you.

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

Friday, May 14, 2010

Funny Googlenopes

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

Report from Week 865 of The Style Invitational

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

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

The winner of the Inker

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

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

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

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

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

None: The Less -- Honorable mentions

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

"Muhammad Halloween masks" (Kevin Dopart, Washington)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"Our priest is celibate" (Kevin Dopart)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"French spam recipes" (Craig Dykstra)

"beloved Redskins kicker" (Ward Kay, Vienna)

"tattoos your mom will love" (Judy Blanchard)

"Scranton getaway vacations" (Kevin Dopart)

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

"unwanted strip of bacon" (Russell Beland)

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

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

"Facebook: A better mousetrap" (Ben Aronin)

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

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

"The Amish Justin Timberlake" (Craig Dykstra)

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

Next week: Natalie Portmanteau, or Overlappellations

© 2010 The Washington Post Company

signage meditation

You see the gateway sign to Tipperary Hill, at the near crest of a hill in front of All Saints Elementary School and Saint John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church. The sign is a few yards in front of that Taras guy (whose last name escapes you and thank God his name is not in Cyrillic), the Ukrainian poet. Yes, Tipp Hill: not just for Irish-Americans. Ukrainian-Americans too. The letters forming "Welcome to Tipperary Hill" (were those the words?) are faded from the sign. In fact, only your memory or your expectations fill in the gestalt emptiness of the sign, which has only faded traces of letters. Fill in the blanks, the sign seems to command you. And is such a ghostly sign a challenge or statement or reflection or editorial? And what is the content of that less-than-minimalist message? If the medium is the message, what is the medium? What sign is this? You wonder: is it burnishing or memory or loss or faded glory or clean slate or buffing or distillation aiming toward perfect clarity? Fill in the blank becomes a blanket statement. Saying what? If signs are sacraments, or sacraments signs, what does this implore us to conclude regarding Tipperary Hill in Syracuse, New York, in May 2010?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

twenty syllables


Run that baby through your spellchecker!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Popi is an unheralded, or perhaps heralded (I like either word), movie.

Ever see it?

Alan Arkin. Rita Moreno.

Touching, funny, sentimental, gritty.

I don't know. I have not seen it in several years; maybe I'd find it dated now.

But I'm dated now too.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

soap dish

As you know, hotels give complimentary soaps. I have concluded that all hotels love to have British names with an aroma of Victorian poshness. Gilchrist & Soames is but one literal example I recently encountered. Surely, a made-up name, eh?

But, hey! What about some real-life names! Or at least ethnic-sounding names that are slightly more in tune with today's demographics:

Schwartz & Hurwitz!

Rodriquez & Espinoza!

Gagliardi & Dilorenzo!

Czerzxczinski & Kuciniwicz!

Ibrahim & Abdullah!

Don't anyone get all lathered up over this.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Everywhere Is Nowhere

Sitting at the cafe, he hears cool jazz. Or is it Muzak? Sitting at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers Cafe, he wonders, Am I at Lincoln Center? Berlin? San Francisco? DeWitt? London? Stamford? Then he wonders if he is in a Borders. No apostrophe. No geography. No locavore collocation. No placid placement, piecemeal or whole hog. No center of gravity, or gravitas. Periphery. "God is a circle whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere. " Attributed to Empedocles. Who is that? Who am I? Who is you? Says you. Everywhere is nowhere and nowhere is everywhere, he felt, he knew. But somewhere is definitely someplace. Some. Place.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

I said yes

. . . to education and community at a City Hall hearing tonight.

The vocabulary of "investment" and "opportunity" drowned out, by far, the drumbeat of me, me, me, lower my taxes, hear my anger, dissent, etc.

People were overwhelmingly positive and supportive of their community, with caveats for elected officials.

People -- perhaps 47 out of 50 -- said: raise taxes if you must, but do it to help kids and their education (and to maintain excellent fire and police services, too, as two representatives of those servant leaders robustly noted).

Syracusans said yes.

Syracuse said yes.

Did official Syracuse listen?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

alpha bravo tango website

Bravo to The Associated Press for now proclaiming "website" instead of "Web site" as its preferred style (note to pedants: this is about style, not grammar).

I have long argued this was inevitable.

Yes, there are, and will be, holdouts. Maybe forever. (Right now: The New Yorker, New York Times, and a plethora of others insist on "Web site.") (As you all know, I can be stubborn about such things. I did not become a Serial Comma Commando for nothing!)

I have pushed for this change with particular clients I have worked with (yes, yes, yes, of course you can end a sentence with a preposition! Or even a proposition!).

The organic and natural evolution in American English is for compound forms to go from two words to hyphenated forms to solid, one-word configurations.

Be organic linguistically! Go organic!

After all, we don't use "tele-phone" anymore. We don't write "tele-vision." At least I don't.

Back in my linguistics course in 1968-69, I learned that such linguistic contraction is a mark of a language's sophistication.


Just as Thoreau said.

Zen masters too.

By the way, my friend Mark Murphy alerted me to a fantastic resource if you are into this sort of esoteric stuff:

Awesome. I salute its creator and maintainer.

Monday, May 03, 2010

connect the verbal pointilist dots

Photos. You say you want images. It's a visual world, you declare. Graphics. Pix. Photos. Depictions. But images cannot capture it, this, that, the general and the specific, the particulars that add up; can't capture the tactile embrace or the fragrance; the sequence; can't delineate the processing poetically. We're talking about a Hallmark cliche of springtime with all of its dials turned to the right, with all of its digital reality off the map, into a new reality. Shores of redbud blossoms a breath-taking lavender but not lavender curled and cornered and drifted by breeze. Confetti of flowering crabapple petals, the leftovers of a drunken wedding, inebriated by perfect pitch, the exact moment a blossom has its moment in the sun or rain and showers, cascades to the ordinary sidewalk, the strewn road. Now, that's bloomsday allright!

Sunday, May 02, 2010

creativity. change. evolution

"When I draw and paint, the essential thing is not to know what I do, or else I cannot come to what I see."

-- Avigdor Arikha, 1929-2010

This is also true in writing.

And living, too.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

life, affirmed

A sentence (a life sentence, at that):

Fresh from a stay at the Williams Club, walking down West 31st Street, on the shaded side, they saw a hotel, the Herald Square Hotel, with the word "LIFE" not interrupted but decoratively carved into the concrete face of the building in three different places, as if warding off suicides or affirming an existential state or simply dancing the good ol' joie-de-vivre, and then, several floors higher than those facades of LIFE (and we know how much life can be a facade sometimes), surprise! look! the word LIFE spelled out again in sure declaration, triumph, or inspiration, take your pick.