Et tu, Mother?
It's bad enough I have to deal with all the New Age garbage on television and in the movies and in the papers and in commercials starring Miss Cleo (no, wait, that's Tarot, which is old age, as in French parlor card game that went terribly awry). I had company for dinner tonight, and while I was cooking, Mom saw my dreamcatcher and asked what it was. I told her, explained the concept, and said that I bought it because I think it's pretty, not because I think it's going to trap all of my bad dreams so I only have good ones. Besides, it's hanging in the living room, not my bedroom, so even if it did work (which it doesn't), it can't.
Well. This opened the floodgates. "Did I ever give you a crystal?" she
She dropped the subject. I forgot to tell her I don't even have an east-facing window in the apartment. Somehow, I'm guessing that really wouldn't have mattered.
I put the Chinese Money God up eight days ago. Hm. Let's see what good fortune has hit me since then. Ah. There were my two freebies--the free corn on the cob from the garden store and the free tire plug from my mechanics. I collected some money owed me earlier this week. I picked up an exercise machine from the owner of my hair salon last week for a free try-out to see if I like it enough to buy it. If I do buy it, that should save me about $150 or so over the price of a new version of the machine. Oh, and tonight, Mom paid for the DVD rentals and a few things to go with dinner. And I'll be receiving my income tax so-called rebate (don't get me started on that) this Saturday. Wow. All these things have happened to me since I hung the Chinese Money God last week!
Of course, the woman at the garden store wants me to come back and buy her "farm-fresh" vegetables. The tire plug would have cost about $2, and I've been going to those mechanics for over ten years. I've spent many hundreds of dollars there, and they've given me free tire fixes before. The collection of the money owed had its beginnings over three months ago. I'd been trying to connect with the hair salon owner for more than three weeks before finally getting the exercise machine. Mom always pays for everything when we do anything together. And the income tax rebates (so-called) were coming anyway, it's just coincidence that I have a low-ending SSN.
One of these days I'm going to have to dig up my copy of Huck Finn so I can quote Mark Twain's wonderfully sarcastic take on causality. It's far more amusing than anything I can come up with.--MAY
Honesty is my policy
The blogs are piling up. I've written more than 70 to date. I was looking over my weblog directory, and I got to thinking. Why am I doing what I'm doing? I covered that with the introductory blog, but as I said then, things evolve. I change, sometimes very rapidly. I think I've changed a great deal even since the end of April.
So, as I was thinking about the whys and wherefores, I realized the main reason I'm writing these blogs is because they are really good practice. Harlan Ellison, who is the greatest writer and the greatest storyteller I know, not to mention one of the best writers ever, has said that above all, a writer must be honest. All great writers say the same. If you can't be honest, don't bother writing. Writing what you know is also a part of that.
These blogs then, are about honesty. If I can't be an honest writer, I can't be a good writer. If I can't believe in what I'm writing, I may as well not be writing.
I once wrote a story about a father and his son who had been estranged for some reason, and I turned it into a happily-ever-after story where they made up, son realized Dad was making sacrifices for him, and they were best pals forever after.
I never showed it to anyone. Even as I wrote it, I knew it was dishonest. I wanted to change the thrust of the story, make the son confront the father, have the father unrepentant and unchanged, just as my father was unrepentant and unchanged almost to the end of his life. I forced myself to write a lie because I wanted to write a happy story for a change. It was a challenge--why was everything I wrote so depressing? someone asked me. I didn't know. I tried to write something cheerful. So I wound up with a trite piece of shit that nobody ever saw, and probably nobody ever will.
This is my website. These are my weblogs. I write what I feel. My audience is tiny, and mostly anonymous. It's not like I'm a Yahoo pick of the week, nor am I aiming for that. I'm just doing what comes naturally, to me. I'm trying to be an honest writer.
And I must say, I like what I'm doing here. I'm very proud of it. I'll be doing this for quite some time yet. And if that means I write things that people think are depressing, or that they don't like, well then.--MAY
This and that
Okay. We have no theme today. We just have random topics and questions. I thought maybe my old buddies at Lucent could use a few giggles. Lord knows they haven't got much to laugh about over there.
Howcome I can run a mile and my calves don't hurt the next day, but I do the "Gazelle" glide, which is a sort of cross-country skiing motion, and my calves are trying to secede from my legs the next day?
If a person fell in the woods, and there was nobody there to hear, did s/he really fall?
I know what a disgruntled employee is. What's a gruntled employee?
Why is it every time I see a sign regarding trucks that includes the letters "GVW" I think it means "Greenwich Vehicle Weight"?
I think male pattern baldness is women's ultimate revenge on men. It's passed down through the mother's genes.
It is a complete myth that killing a praying mantis carries a penalty of a $50 fine.
It is also a myth that Walt Disney's body was cryogenically frozen and can be found in a secret room in Sleeping Beauty's castle. (He was cremated.)
At the annual World Science Fiction Convention, the daily newsletter urges conventioneers to remember to bathe daily. (I swear it's true! And not all of them take the advice, either.)
I don't think that a woodchuck can really chuck wood. Sticks, maybe. Definitely not wood.
Maine coon cats do not reach a maximum weight of 40 lbs. Raccoons, however, can and do.
Don't you wish that the good guys really did wear white, and the bad guys really did wear black? Then, at least, we'd always know where we stood with people we didn't know. Of course, this would completely devastate the New York publishing world, many of whom would have to stop wearing black. I think if you tried to force a member of the New York publishing world to wear something other than black, she'd suddenly develop the urge to go to Times Square and get tickets to "Cats," and settle for "The Lion King" when told that "Cats" had (mercifully) closed. (Ooh, that felt good. Haven't gotten in a Lloyd-Webber bash in weeks!)
Now that I'm thinking of it, why didn't Andrew Lloyd-Webber make a musical out of "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock"? It's by far the better poem. I stole the "Dare I eat a peach?" line for a story I wrote ages ago. I'm betting that I wasn't the only young writer to do so.
And the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo. Wow. I'm going to have to dig out my old textbooks and reread Eliot. Literature rules, man!--MAY
Tig Mighty Sparrow Hunter--Ugh!
The above politically incorrect title is the phrase that developed many years ago, when, after a weekend of partying at other people's places, I discovered that somehow, a sparrow had gotten into my apartment, and even more amazingly, my cat had killed it.
I made the discovery sometime after dark on Sunday night. Rachel had spent the weekend at my apartment, so we had the sofabed out in the living room most of the weekend, not bothering to close it until Sunday morning because all we were doing was sleeping at my place and then heading out for the festivities. I don't recall what they were, but I do recall they involved Jaynice and probably her cousin Julie, who was in town that weekend.
Anyway, it's about 8 or 9 p.m., I'm home, kicking up my feet and catching up on my soap opera tape. Tig--the first Tig, not the current one--was playing with something under the TV stand. I thought it was a dust bunny. I decided it could wait to be cleaned up until the next day. But then I noticed that if it was a dust bunny, it should have been flying around under the TV stand while Tig batted it with his paw. This one moved almost imperceptibly each time Tig swatted it. Intrigued, I got up for a closer look, and discovered a dead sparrow underneath my television stand. Revolted, I immediately got on the phone to Jaynice, and when the person on the other end said hello, I told her, "There's a dead sparrow underneath my television set!" There was a pause while Julie tried to figure out who was calling her, and why they were telling her about dead sparrows. "Meryl?" "There's a dead sparrow underneath my television set!" "Hold on a minute." She hands the phone to Jaynice. "Hello?" "There's a dead sparrow underneath my television set!"
At this point, they had figured out that there was a dead sparrow underneath my television set.
It's one of Jaynice's favorite stories to tell. Well. I have one to add.
This morning, my current Tig asked to go out during breakfast. I let him and Gracie out and left the front door open. Gracie is too timid to go far, but Tig has been feeling his oats, and disappeared sometime after I sat down to eat. I checked on them, didn't see him, looked for him, and decided he'd come back later. So I finished my breakfast and went out to look for him. I called him, and he was coming right to the door as I spoke. So I look down, and he has a live sparrow in his mouth, is looking extraordinarily pleased with himself, and heading straight for the open front door. Which I closed in his face. "You are not bringing that inside," I told him. He ignored me and began clawing at the door, trying to open it. "Drop it," I said, which had no effect whatsoever. Finally, I grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, which got him to open his mouth. The bird flew out, he leaped, missed, feathers flew everywhere, the bird landed on the grass next to the porch, I captured Tig and brought him inside, and told him what a good boy he was and that I had no intention of eating sparrow for breakfast. Or lunch, dinner, or snacks for that matter.
I felt terribly guilty about the sparrow, although I am not the one who caught it, and I did not request that Tig catch me a sparrow today, or ever. And I'm sad to report that it died, which I knew was going to happen when I saw the angle of its neck after it landed, poor thing. And I don't think the fact that the British imported the sparrow here and it's not a native bird, as my brother pointed out, is a valid excuse. Nonetheless, I have a new Tig who has proven his skill at hunting.
Tig Mighty Sparrow Hunter. Ugh.--MAY
Riding topless through the night
So Saturday was a gorgeous day outside, and it seemed like there'd be no rain in sight, so I took the top off the Jeep and called my brother and headed out west to their backyard swimming pool. I hadn't taken the top off since I got back from Richmond, and the weather was just too good to be trapped inside at all.
It was fun. I've got to admire the folks who designed the Jeep stereo system. You can hear it without any trouble at all even while doing 65 with all the windows open and no top. 'Course, I might have annoyed some of the people in the cars at all the traffic lights between my apartment and the highway, but what the hell--for all I know, they're the ones who've annoyed me in the past. I simply have to make that Tool tape, though. There are just not enough good rock stations left in this area. Richmond has some phenomenal new rock stations. The only good stations left in this country are all in the mid-size and below markets. They don't have to work so hard to get the Arbitron ratings. (You see what happens when you work on Billboard magazine long enough?)
So Saturday, after the swimming and the dinner out and the movie (Jurassic Park III, okay, but no great shakes), I forgot to ask Dave for a sweatshirt and I had forgotten my long-sleeved overshirt, so the first few minutes of the drive home were less than comfortable. The heat fixed things, then getting out of the second-highest elevation in the state made things much better. But it was really neat being able to see the stars above me on the ride home. It makes driving seem more of an immediate thing. You don't realize how enclosed you are in a car until you drive one that doesn't have a roof.
I am so glad I got this Jeep. I have never had more fun with a car that I've owned. I may never drive anything else for the rest of my life.
It's a bitch, but somebody's got to do it. You might want to check out my links page every few weeks. I update it whenever I find something new that I like and think is a neat place to visit. My latest find is Spinsanity, a site that asks for civility from our current crop of rhetoric-slingers. It's a grand ideal, but I won't hold my breath waiting for it to happen.--MAY
Stupid, stupid, stupid
Sometimes, things happen that make me think that the true Thoreau quote should have been "the mass of men live lives of quiet AND noisy stupidity."
I went on a book run today, determined to fill up the holes in my Vonnegut collection that my hubris put there. So I took a trip to the nearest Barnes and Noble and did some wandering. Among my wandering I came across--for sale--a "personality test" that you could actually take yourself! It was on a table near, for some reason, the science fiction section. "I tried to take a personality test once," I told the young man also looking at them, "but I didn't have one." It took him a moment, then he laughed. Well, at least he laughed. I wasn't interested enough in the test to determine why the publisher thought people would want to buy one.
In a quandary
Another book that caught my attention was in the "bargain" area, which are generally remaindered books (70% off! $5.98!), which are hardcover books that become obsolete because the paperback is now available, and books that nobody ever really wanted in the first place. One such "bargain" book caught my eye: "The 10,000 Most Common Misspelled Words".
Okay. Let's start at point one: If I remember correctly--and I'll have to check this out later--the average American vocabulary IS 10,000 words. Actually, I think the average American vocabulary is probably really only about 1,000 words, and the other 9,000 are repeats like "dude", "awesome", and "yo". But that aside, don't you think that in order to use the word "common" in the title, the word list should be no more than, oh, 100?
But setting that, too, aside, let's pretend that 10,000 words are commonly misspelled. What, you might be wondering, are some examples of these common misspellings?
It's on the dust jacket. The dust jacket, in all seriousness, proclaims that people now have a book that can tell them whether or not there's an "e" in "quandary". Funny, I thought that was what a dictionary was for.
Evidently this author is pretending that the average person is in a quandary worrying about how quandary is spelled. Five bucks says 7 out of 10 people don't know what quandary means. Ten bucks says 10 out of 10 of them haven't used the word in the past year.
Shame on that author, and on that publisher.
The last nail in the coffin of American stupidity came, of course, on television. While channel-surfing tonight, I came across a man lying in a glass tank filled with worms. Ripley's Believe it or Not? I wondered. Nope. Fear Factor. The stunt went like this: You had to reach your hand into a jar of these worms, pull out a piece of paper that said you either had to eat the worms or lie in the tank. The young man lying in the tank had worms stuck to him--all over--when he got out. The host took great glee in pointing out that the reason they're still stuck on him is because they are actually biting into him. A young woman contestant declined to continue after she pulled a piece of paper that said she had to eat one. The act of reaching into the jar of worms reduced her to tears even before she got the paper. As she tearfully announced she was quitting rather than eat a worm (rather sensibly, if you ask me) the camera stayed on her long and tight so you could see a close-up of her pain.
Yup. Reality television shows. They're so much fun for all involved, aren't they?
It was at that point I turned off the one-eyed monster and found peace and sensibility with Vonnegut's Bluebeard.--MAY