Sunday, September 30, 2012


Deed restricted. No entry. No outlet. Cul de sac. Dead end. Subdivision. Gated community.

This is the vocabulary of dystopia.

This is the geography of nowhereland.

This is the landscape of Disurbia.

This is the land called "[fill in the blankness]."

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Thank you for sharing...

A review of BASEBALL'S STARRY NIGHT -- and a good one at that, from an international entity, no less, The Guardian.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bravo, Braves Beneficence

So, Denis With One N and I head to the Arizona Diamondbacks at Atlanta Braves game. In advance of this, I have sent handwritten notes to all the official Braves broadcasters (to my knowledge) telling them I'd be at the game and asking if I could give them an autographed copy of Baseball's Starry Night and maybe even chat about the book on the air, with the full and sympathetic understanding that the book recalls a painful night for Braves fans. Tuesday morning I had received a Twitter DM from radio guy Kevin McAlpin (who had not received a note, unfortunately), but we never did end up meeting. Denis With One N and I conferred with Ticketmasterman Big Mike, holding court like a regal Buddha outside the Ted, but even Big Mike said check the box office if you insist on being out of the (for me, dreaded) sun. After buying three $40 seats (for Denis and his brother Jimmy and me), section 204L, behind the plate, third-base-ish, under the overhang out of the sun, I saw a guy with a Giants hat and -- bingo! -- animated conversation...with Tike and Dawn and Patrick, season ticket holders at AT&T, I believe, attending their 35th and 32 and 31st ballparks, something like that. Giants fans! Giants fans in Atlanta on baseball pilgrimage! I look for The Faithful all over, especially at ballparks, and it is always cool to chat it up with them. (This is ballpark number 20 for me, best I can tell.) Incidentally, the ticket window gal saw my Giants shirt and said she saw someone with a Giants hat, but I think it was someone different.

The game was a fairly sloppy and dull affair, starting off with Hudson v. Hudson, Daniel and Tim, that is, and ending with D.H. leaving early (turns out we learn today he tore an elbow ligament) and ending with a T.H. and Braves' win, 8-1. Chipper Jones three hits! Homer for Michael Bourn (and Jason Kubel. Mini fireworks, from the Gas South sign in right, for a Braves pitcher's strikeout; bigger fireworks, coming from the Coke bottle on the Skydeck in left, for a Braves HR. No such theatrics from the visitors' feats. During Bourn's homer, I was buying 10 bucks worth of 50-50 charity tix from a cute Braves volunteer or worker.

The high points were meeting and chatting with Craig P. and his son Sam, star players from Baseball's Starry Night. Craig asked me to autograph a book for Katiebravesfan, also in my book, which I did, and also, a book for Sam, which I did. It was just a very endearing moment, and they later joined us in our seats. In fact, warm moment is an understatement. It left me with the heartfelt conviction that it was totally right to drive from Syracuse to Cooperstown to Charlotte to Atlanta for this very moment, meeting these lovely people, these ardent Braves fans, this father-son duo of love (for each other and the game).

(Small World Department: Jim R. knew of Craig's wife and others in their mutual recent or current positions in the world of commerce.)

Denis With One N and I also toured the clean and friendly confines of Turner Field, getting views from left field, by the Coke bottle and the giant red Adirondack chairs, and walking all the over to the opposite side, by the right-field foul pole.

A splendid time was had by all, to paraphrase the Beatles in Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. 

Southern-ish Man

So, what was Sunday in the South? On the hot and hazy and lazy side. A trip to the Charlotte (North Carolina) Knights' ballpark (in South Carolina), in an attempt to give or leave a signed copy of Baseball's Starry Night to one of the heroes of that night, Dan Johnson, now with the Knights, who were out of town, or en route, to Rochester, of all places, back in my neck of the northern climes. The place was empty and silent. Denis and I tried a few door. One marked exit door was surprisingly open. We took a glance at the blanket of grass and the clay diamond before us. The field, which appeared to be sunken below the stands, gave the stadium a more alluring appearance than the concrete and boxy outer edifice promised. I decided to give Denis the book, in an envelope, charging him with the task of presenting the book to Mr. Johnson at some later date, or perhaps when he trekked to South Carolina one day for cheaper gas. He said he was willing to do that. Plus, he might be able to meet Dan Johnson, and honestly declare, "My friend wrote this book, and we are both in it."

The Giants lost the third game of the weekend series with Oakland, on a player's first homer, a walkoff. Ugh.

On Monday, we drove from Charlotte to Atlanta in Denis's Ford Fusion. Gas was as low as $2.86 a gallon in South Carolina. I don't think we've seen that price in Syracuse since Clinton was president, yes, the same Bill Clinton who gave us budget surpluses. Driving from Spartanburg to Greenville to near Anderson on 85 south one sees signs advertising food or gas on elevated poles that reach, what?, 100?, 300? feet. They are unseemly. What is the limit? 1,257 feet? In Atlanta, Denis and I went to the Starbucks in Buckhead, on Peachtree (that Peachtree). It was hot. Of course. We met Denis's brother Jimmy for dinner at the Grand China restaurant. The Giants won 8-0.

On Tuesday, I went to the Cathedral of Saint Philip (one L, like one N for Denis) and enjoyed its bookstore, its people at the store, and an oasis of silence in the stained-glass church, and then enjoyed Henri's Bakery's sandwich and coffee and chips and dessert for lunch, after a walk in the neighborhood, including a sop at Walgreen's for postcards, toothpaste, and other stuff.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Running on Empty-ish

On Friday, I headed east on the New York State Thruway [with its faux, new-age spelling] to Cooperstown to meet Lenny Fraraccio, known in the persona of Gio, the Tampa Bay Rays fan featured in my Baseball's Starry Night chronicle of last year's Game 162s. Gio and his kids and a friend have been making the summer rounds of Major League Baseball games in D.C., Boston, Philadelphia, and God knows where else. This was my inaugural trip driving my 2007 VW Rabbit, purchased last Monday. I have been carless since November 2009, sharing my wife's vehicle as needed.

Even though it was a Friday, approaching lunchtime, Cooperstown's sidewalks and streets were buzzing with tourists, young and old, mostly white. I sought to get my book place in some stories. Not easy. No dice. But I did leave little promotional cards in the Cooperstown Diner and in a bakery featuring canolis, macaroons, and other homemade goodies (upon leaving Cooperstown I bought very good coffee there and two macaroon cookies -- not macarons, which are hip and trendy now).

Gio was as I'd pictured him: energetic, head shaved, stocky, grayish goatee. It was a pleasure to meet his kids, Nic and Isabella, and Gio's friend Almy. All were sporting Rays gear; Almy had a Nats cap with a big W. Nic kept sweetly thanking me for including him in my book. At a pizza joint [thanks for lunch, Gio] Izzy showed us her glove with autographs by maybe one or two dozen players -- and Joe Maddon.

No Giants hats spotted, so no stories along that line. I was wearing a very handsome Game 162 t-shirt featuring an image of Evan Longoria rounding the bases after his second homer. It had been a Rays giveaway and Gio sent me a copy. In fact, Gio gave me a second Game 162 shirt in Cooperstown [thanks].

Before leaving town, I stopped at the Cooperstown, New York, post office to mail a copy of Baseball's Starry Night to former Red Sox pitcher Bill Lee. I had called him the night before and asked him if he'd like a copy. Sure. He gave me his address. No street needed. Just his name and the town and state. He said everyone knows everyone in his little town and the gene pool is about the size of a thimble. I inscribed to book, thanking Bill Lee for helping me with conversation, ideas, and encouragement, adding that the Hall of Fame, across the street, should have a special wing for The Spaceman.

As I headed on Route 28 south, the brownish wooden fence -- the kind you see on horse farms -- to my left, for maybe a mile, bordering cornfields and other green expanses made me smile. This will be a lovely journey. Not finding much to listen to on the radio, I listened to the hum of the motor and the car's AC and the thwack of the tires for long stretches. In Milford, maybe it was New Milford, NY, one home featured a Confederate flag side by side with an American flag on the porch. I kept driving south, picking up 88 to Binghamton, then south on 81 down through Scranton, Wilkes-Barre,  and Harrisburg. By evening, around 8, the rolling hills and farms south of Harrisburg were Midwesternish, with tractor dealers and auctions and barns and miles of infinite shades of green -- Midwesternish but likely hillier and with more contours. My Jackson Browne CD made for a perfect sound track, even if I had enough gas in the car to keep matters safely distinct from "Running on Empty." Cranking up the music real loud kept me awake and animated and satisfied. Staying on 81, I briefly rolled through Maryland and then into ravine-filled and lush West Virginia, soon riddled with Wal-Marts and strip malls on the sides of 81, giving an almost claustrophobic feel, sliding into Virginia, picking up the Nats at Orioles game on a Nats station (Jason Hammel would go on to win, 2-1), with the announcers describing a steady rain and distant lightning. Not for me, though.

After 470 miles or so and darkness and having eaten only a slice of sausage pizza and a bag of chips, I figured it was time to search for a room. I tried to grind on to Strasburg, just for the name, but, no, was getting tired. My first try, in Winchester, Virginia, was futile. Sold out. Get back on 81 south. I found a room at a Courtyard by Marriott, in what I thought was Romney, Virginia. I did not especially want to be staying in a place called Romney, but the given address was Winchester, Virginia, in the Shenandoah area. Check scores. Tim Lincecum has one bad inning. Giants losing 3-1. Sleep.

Saturday I woke up to the delightful news that the San Francisco Giants had rallied for four runs in the ninth inning to overcome the Oakland A's, barely, after giving up a homer in the bottom half, to protect Lincecum from a loss. He has not won since April. Sweet!

At breakfast, off the hotel lobby, I knew I was in the South and that I was a Northerner. Can't explain why or how. Perhaps the volume or the camaraderie of conversation, the bonhomie, the discussions of golf. Maybe just my paranoia.

Back on the road. Down 81 south through Virginia, along the Shenandoah Mountains, down through Roanoke, Blacksburg, lunch in Christiansburg at a very pleasant coffee shop, down through route 77 south, which featured the best vistas: breathtaking panorama of the Blue Ridge Mountains for who knows 100 miles and emergency turnoff for trucks that lose their brakes and gas at $2.99 a gallon and into North Carolina and into Charlotte and after going on the Inner Outer Inner fecking Outer Inner Inner Outer Outer Inner Infinite 485 Loop and not finding my friend Denis's [one N, Irish spelling] house I told him to come and find me at the Food Lion in Huntersville, North Carolina, or I was going to die of insanity.

And then before retiring on a Saturday night in Charlotte, I discover my beloved Giants pull out another Sweet Torture win, reminding me of sweet 2010 and the Year of the World Series.

Sweet. Like southern iced tea.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lit 101 Redux

Yesterday's random litter pickup while walking in the blazing 95-degree Syracuse heat:

Newport cigarette boxes (two or three), Burger King bag, Whopper cardboard box, Seneca cigs box, wadded-up paper, coffee cup, Goya pineapple juice can,  something-something, and some more something-something else.

Did I like dirtying my hands to do this? No.

Why did I do it?

Did you see me doing this?

When you were panhandling over near the Dinosaur Barbecue, did you know I almost walked over and told you to abandon your statuesque, catatonic beggar's stance and pitch in in my cleanup?

Would this have resulted in violence against my person?

What does all this litter add up to?


Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Bloomsday, post-bloom blossoming

I neglected to note June 16; shame on me for two reasons. It's the blogaversary of this space, begun in 2006, and also, quite aptly, the anniversary of Leopold Bloom's fictional wanderings around Dublin, in the early 1900s.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Girls in Their Summer Whatchamacallits

"The Girls in Their Summer Dresses" is a lovely title, and a lovely sight in real life, is it not? (Or, are they not?) It's a bittersweet (as I recall) short story by Irwin Shaw. Here's a link to it, the accuracy of which I can't vouch for. It is also a song by Airborne Toxic Event (never heard of them until about 4 minutes ago) and by Glenn Yarbrough as well (baby, the rain must fall.)

But to talk about "the girls in their summer dresses" is an anachronism -- on many counts. "Girls," as Shaw used the word, comes from the MadMen era, when the word referred to grown women, or at least those becoming grown up. It was the era of, "Have my girl call your girl," which the white-shirted exec (male) would declare.

It's also an anachronism, more or less, but not entirely, with respect to "dresses," correct? Today, Shaw would have had to have written "tank tops" or "shorts" or "tee shirts" or "capris" or "you're going out in public in that?!" or . . . something. I'm not sure of all this; my sartorial acumen is limited. My realm of interest is words and wordplay and musings thereof.

[Dear Reader: I'm done with this topic. Thought I had something worthy of a post, some semantic murmurings, some verbal ponderings.

Now I'm not so sure.

Where was I going with this?

And where would you meander to, syntactically and semantically?


Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Running of the Bulls

Park on Hiawatha Boulevard, outside the stadium. Save the three bucks or whatever it is now. Moody sky, as in steel-wool and grouchy and changeable. Walk the length of the nearly-empty parking lot. The stadium lights ablaze. The boyhood thrill of the miracle of baseball in the quickening darkness. Big lights big baseball. Seek to buy one ticket at the one ticket window open, giving off a reverential residential light. "We're not selling anymore tickets. Just go right in." "Really?" "Yeah, go ahead." Waltz right through the open main gate, avoiding the turnstile and the turnstile-keepers, who ignore me. Or were they absent? Climb the stairs. The lambent landscape of Martian green with a backdrop of brighter-than-ambient-evening techno-brand-new scoreboard luminescence. Buy coffee. $2. "Need a stirrer?" "Pardon me?" "A stirrer?" "Sure." "Room for cream?" "No." Ask for creamers. Pour in the contents of one. Spy Tex. He is huddled. Hood up. For the first time, I pity him. Does he know he is at a ballgame? Looks terribly lost. And mournful. The 11,000+ seats are blue and visible because they are empty and wet from two days of rain. Maybe 200 or fewer here. Count them, if you want to take the team. Listen to the players. "Three! Three!" an outfielder yells to one of his outfield compadres, telling him to throw to third. Two players from the visiting Durham Bulls get ejected as balls and strikes are argued with the home-plate ump. In the bizarre silence you can hear them argue. "What? Yes, you what?" Sarcastic barbs traded. We the audience hear it as rude eavesdroppers. Similarly, the thin crowd amplifies the shouts of any lone complainer in the crowd, though crowd is not the word. The silly taunts to the HP ump sound all the more juvenile and shrill as the get put on center stage. The whole show has an eerie voyeuristic ambiance. "How many chicken tenders for $7.50?" "Four." "Too many." "How about the fried dough? I'll take that for $3.50." After 5 to 7 minutes, I get four cinnamon- and sugar-coated sticks of fried dough. Best bargain in the house, at least by sheer volume. So far I've spent $5.50 total to get there, park, get in. Foul ball hit to right-field over where the Bulls' bullpen sits, on the field. The foul bounces into the stands. A kid runs toward it. "That's my ball." Not that I care. I'd even give it away. It's just an attempt to be less invisible. As I walk to the five or six guys in the pen, "You know about my book on Game 162?" holding a card of it in my hand. Ignored. Ignored as if there is a Plexiglas wall. Not even a turn or shrug. Nevertheless, I sit right next to them. "Were you up in September?" "No, but he was," a stocky fellow says with a Latino accent but perfect English, nodding to the pitcher to his left, who ignores me. "The Rays will be in the Series," I venture. Ignored. Now I'm angry at them and at me. I'm not a gambler or hustler. Just say you don't want to talk to me. I continue to sit there, the lone human in right field's seats. I'm beginning to hope I'm irritating the bullpen. Then I start to enjoy the amateur-essness and doltishness of the jocks. As if scripted in a bad movie parody, my semi-friendly burly guy says "home run, home run" to any of his batters. It is so silly as to be comical. I walk away because RaysFanGio calls me in answer to my lament describing all this. He tells me the anatomical act he requests of Major League players when they are rude and arrogant to him like that. I wander around the empty, echoing stadium, settling behind the plate talking with two brothers, one a local funeral director who buried Bob Shawkey in Syracuse at the age of 90 in 1980. Shawkey pitched the first game for the Yankees in Yankee Stadium in 1923. Years later when Sehl Burns did go to the Stadium for the first time, he had box seats in left field. Left field? he inquired of the Yankees brass. When he told them he buried Shawkey he was transferred to a seat behind home plate and was treated like a sultan in the house built, as they say, by the Sultan of Swat. After the 2-1 win by the Bulls in Game 2 to gain a split of the double-header (seven innings per game), I see a guy wearing a Tampa Bay Rays hat. "Your team?" He says, "Yes." I tell him I love Joe Maddon and the Rays will be in the Series. And then I hand him and his friend cards telling them about "Baseball's Starry Night." "Oh, I saw that in the paper. That's you?" I walk out the empty parking lot. The CRV is still there on the pavement near Hiawatha Boulevard. The cars that were near it are gone, but the car is there. The stadium lights still glow in back of me.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012


is it me
or the ether
is it me
or the either
or the either/or
seems to be we as animals can almost smell each other as humans and sometimes not find ourselves wagging our tails in eager friendliness
I am not sure what made me think of this
maybe the look I received from a total stranger boring and drilling into me
or is it just my perception
well of course it's my perception
but how accurate is it
are you annoyed by my lack of question marks
so these people exhibited what appeared underscore bold consternation toward me
but how many times a day do I send out the same vibe to others
albeit unknowingly and perhaps unintentionally

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Where Have I Been?

I've been signing copies of BASEBALL'S STARRY NIGHT.

I've been Tweeting about BASEBALL'S STARRY NIGHT, even went back on Facebook to promote BASEBALL'S STARRY NIGHT.

Do you see a trend here?

Funny, since I've been gone Blogger has assumed a new look. Strange. Everything looks just like Who is copying whom, hunh?

Carry on.

As you were.

Friday, March 09, 2012

Book 'em

I now know the feeling of someone who has written a book, even if some would assert that 47,000+ words is not quite a book. Trust me, it is indeed. My book, Baseball's Starry Night, relives four Wild Card games of September 28, 2011. It involves the end point of collapses for the Boston Red Sox and Atlanta Braves and an evening-rising-star finish from the St. Louis Cardinals and a meteoric climax from the Tampa Bay Rays. I concentrate on the fans' experience and perspectives, which I am hoping is unusual and appealing. Folks who have read portions of Baseball's Starry Night love it.

The first sentence above says "feeling" but it is more than one feeling. I feel relieved, proud, tired, excited, anxious, evangelistic, pleased. Some of those adjectives aren't feelings, are they? That's all right.

People often talk of "writer's block." I found the writing was the most rewarding; the research, coordination, fact-checking, organizing were harder.

Stay tuned to find out more.

Baseball's Starry Night should be out in a matter of days, as an e-book and print-on-demand paperback. I just noticed that one of the Blogger-created tabs at the top of the screen is titled "monetize." I'll take that. Sure.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

alienation of affection

It's a rather poetic term, isn't it?

Alienation of affection?

Did you know it dates to at least the 1800s and is a legal term associated with tort cases involving adultery?

I didn't know that, did you?

Who is doing the alienating?

Who the affecting?

Who is alienated from whom?

From whose affection?

What would "alienation of affectation" mean?

Does alienation of affection therefore result in bonding of disaffection?

Who doesn't feel alienated from affection now and then?

Know what I mean?

How would one insource such outsourcing of affection?

Do you think this is all just fun and games, merely wordplay?

How do you measure alienation?

How do you assess affection?

When do you know you've reached the state of "alienation of affection"?

What's the cure for alienation of affection?

What is this, twenty questions or something?

Are we done here?

Monday, February 06, 2012

It Is written, Or Is It?

Two weeks ago last Saturday -- oh, who cares when it was. Does it matter? So, I'm standing by the doorway inside Chipotle (which nearly everyone pronounces as if it were spelled Chipoltee), on Marshall Street, in Syracuse. I'm observing people accessible and visible on the sidewalk, easily seen through the big plate-glass window comprising the store's facade as they busily stream by. I see this bearded fellow walk by, wearing a Boston Red Sox wool cap. Wait. We both catch each other's eye. Wait. Hold it there a sec. There's that expression "double take." Or, as puts it:

"a delayed reaction to a surprising or significant situation after an initial failure to notice anything unusual"

Merriam-Webster says the first known use in English was in 1930.

In 2012, we both did a double take. Just like on TV or in the movies.

Stopped in our pedestrian, quotidian tracks.

We each did a take, then stopped, then did another take, maybe even a third and a fourth take.

Then I opened the door and advanced outside.





We laughed. But, knowing Dan, he was not totally surprised. Knowing me, I was not totally surprised. Yes, we were in Syracuse, but Dan lives in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. We see each other maybe once a year, maybe once every few years. We've gone stretches of hardly having any contact for -- what? -- a decade? So, the coolest thing is we were surprised but not surprised. Dan, knowing me, and vice versa, admits of such providential possibilities. And vice versa. (There's an expression: vice versa. Why isn't there an expression "virtue versa"?)

In the movie "Lawrence of Arabia," if I recall correctly, Lawrence says to one of the Arab tribal leaders: "It is written." Wait. Wouldn't it make more sense if someone said it to T.E. Lawrence? "It is written." By whom? And is it? If I remember the movie correctly, Lawrence ends up thinking nothing is written.

For reasons I find hard to explain, the phrase "it is written" resonates with me more readily than "it is God's will" or "God has a plan for us" or "God has a plan for me." And yet. Why? One sounds more mystical? Or mysterious? Or more respectful of free will? Can't explain that.

And yet.

So, was this written? Or pure coincidence?

And does it matter?


Or why not?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

killing me unsoftly

This is not an insensitive rant. It offers no disrespect to victims of violence. It's a semantic commentary, a diatribe on diction. A reflection on language. In the last few days on TV or radio news reports I've been hearing the phrases "brutally murdered" or "brutally beaten." Really? Would it be "kindly murdered"? Or "gently beaten"? I don't think so. I don't think the phrase "killing with kindness" is meant to summon those meanings. And I don't think those who utter such phrases do so with Shakespearean irony, as when Hamlet has some wordplay over the murder of his father (if I recall rightly): "a little more than kin, and less than kind."

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

risk-free questions! now! join the millions who...

"Try Smarmy absolutely risk-free."

"And now FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY you too can try Smarmy at no risk."

  1. Risk, to whom? You? Or me?
  2. What kind of risk? Medical? Financial? Moral?
  3. What is "risk"?
  4. Why should I believe your "risk-free" claim?
  5. Doesn't everything have some risk potential, including reading THIS?
  6. Isn't all time "limited"?
  7. What is the limit of your time?
  8. What is the limit of your space?
  9. Is poetry risk-free?
  10. Would you mind if I dehyphenate risk free?
  11. If you concede risk is not "absolutely free," then what is its cost?
  12. What is the best currency to use when paying for the cost of risk?
  13. Do you get irritated and sore with me when I drivel on like this?
  14. Do my interrogatives put you at the risk of losing your composure?
  15. Are you one of the millions, or one of the few, the proud?
  16. Am I the only one whose ears prick upward, like a dog's, at the sound of "risk-free"?
  17. Are any of our politicians risk-free?
  18. Is that what got us into this pickle, expecting our so-called leaders to guide through so-called risk-free times?
  19. Who is doing the calling when something is "so-called"?
  20. Who is doing the answering to these twenty questions?


You are hearing it here first: "insourcing" will be the word of the year for 2012. If that prediction turns out to be correct, the dotted red line I am seeing under the word insourcing as I compose this blog post, indicating a strange word or a misspelling, will disappear into the cyber-ether because the word will have entered the realm of Common Parlance. I'm hearing insourcing a lot. (For me, "a lot" totals one or two times, on an NPR report.) (Notice, my self-appointed style guide calls for initial quotes, and then no more quotes after the word's first instance. Also note that I've zoomed through the lexicographical journey of two words to hyphen to one word solid.) Insourcing sounds suspiciously like one of those words used by corporate managers or HR people to assuage their guilt for sending American jobs to India, Bhutan, or Burkina Faso. Insourcing says, "Out with outsourcing and in with insourcing, comrades! You have nothing to lose but your prefix! [Or your prix fixe!]) Insourcing is the bright and shiny bauble intimating the bubbling and simmering of a new economic stew, that will come to a tasty and nutritious boil just before Election Day, sending Barack Obama to a second term and totally grouchifying wealthy, white-shirt, starched Republicans, who have always wanted Obama's doom more than America's boom. Doesn't insourcing sound vaguely derived from the porn industry? "Hey, Mason, let's shoot that scene over! We need way more insourcing, babe!" barks the morose director, somewhere near LA, wearing shades and baring a hairy chest adorned with tacky bling. Insourcing is your brand-new resourcing for 2012. Welcome to the year of insourcing. Insourcing for one and all. Insourcing for you and me and the commonwealth. (Incidentally, "commonwealth" is a great word. But so 1780s. It won't even be in the top ten of the #word_ of_the_year list for 2012. Pity.)

Monday, January 09, 2012

downtown vibe


not just a container

but an atmosphere





at Jefferson & Salina Streets



may it flourish






bought a recipe magazine

then purchased the required ingredients

"special section! 30 entrees in 30 minutes or less" did it for me.

would be 2nd straight day of actually cooking

this could end up being revolutionary

but let's not get carried away


Sunday, January 08, 2012

Barnes & Ignoble

At store #2908 I approach the customer service kiosk seeking what its name promises. The person manning the booth -- hold it -- the woman womanning it looks me in the eye and greets me with stone-cold silence. I wait for the customary customer service query "May I help you?" Zilch. I grant that this is subjective, but I interpret this as aloof aggression, as condescension, as gameswomanship. Her look says, "Well?" But I silently insist that the protocol calls for her to speak first. I consider silently walking away. Minutes after the event, at this moment I am distrusting my own memory. Who spoke first? Did I break the perceived iciness by saying, "Are you going to ask to help me?" Or did she relent and ask me something -- anything? I wish I could remember more clearly this "event" at Barnes & Ignoble.

"I was wondering what happened to a book I ordered."

"What's your phone number?"

I gave her my phone number.

"Your cell?"

"That's it."

"We don't have anything."

Long pause as she pretends to be an airline ticket representative and looks at a computer screen. The computer screen can veil all problems and save her.

"When I ordered, they asked for my email. I can give you that."

Which is what I do.

To continue, and underscore her aggression, she repeats "M-A-C" as if instead I might have said M-A-C-K. This gives her a chance to appear efficient and official and smart. On top of things.


"I see it might have expired on December 28."

"Expired? I ordered it just before Christmas. Why would it expire?"

"It was returned to the publisher or did not arrive here or it might mean it was put on the shelf."

"Why wouldn't you -- I mean Barnes & Noble -- have called me? Excuse me -- why wouldn't someone have emailed me?"

"That's why we ask for your phone number, as a backup."

"I was asked for my email, and that's what I gave."

I resist saying more, lots more. I am silent. But not stoic. I follow her as she walks to a shelf in the Religion section.

She finds a single copy of "Holy Holidays" by Greg Tobin. "My" copy.

I am determined not to buy it from this store at this time. (I already have a copy anyway, from -- wait for it -- Amazon.)

I take the single copy of "my" book and put it prominently in a display area, promoting it, hoping a stranger buys it.

A stranger not in need of a holiday from the balmy warmth of customer service.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

wastewater, or wastetime, or wastespace

I worked many years in the environmental field.

I still do some consulting work via @kocakwords in that area.


If we have wastewater, can we also have wastetime? May we? Where does time go when it is wasted? Or is it metaphysically and physically impossible to waste time? Are their emissions related to wastetime? Are they harmful or beneficial? How are they measured? Do we even want to measure them?

What about space? If there is wastewater, is there wastespace? Is that what people mean when they angrily assert, "You're fired! You're just wasting space around here!"

Or is it, again, impossible to "waste space"? And if you can waste space, what are the impacts? Can they be mitigated? May they?

Just wondering.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

my eagerly awaited annual list of books read

Books I Read in 2011 *

  1. The Convict and Other Stories by James Lee Burke
  2. The Turnaround by George Pelecanos
  3. The Interrogative Mood by Padgett Powell
  4. The Anthologist by Nicholson Baker
  5. Spring's Third Day by Laura Gross
  6. Both Ways Is the Only Way I Want It by Maile Meloy
  7. Grendel by John Gardner
  8. Jesus Freak: feeding/healing/raising the dead by Sara Miles
  9. Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum
  10. House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
  11. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman
  12. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
  13. A Band of Misfits: tales of the 2010 San Francisco Giants by Andrew Baggarly
  14. Music Through the Floor: stories by Eric Puchner

* give or take some hours to allow for Mayan-Gregorian-Julian-Hallmark calendar adjustments