Friday, April 30, 2010

Quips and Quotations

I loathe the expression "What makes him tick." It is the American mind, looking for simple and singular solution, that uses the foolish expression. A person not only ticks, he also chimes and strikes the hour, falls and breaks and has to be put together again, and sometimes stops like an electric clock in a thunderstorm.

--James Thurber

Monday, April 26, 2010

Archival Revival: Shadow of a Redoubt

(This post originally appeared on 9/9/09--KJ)

This blog has been pretty political of late. The past two weeks, anyway. For about a month and a half prior to that, however, it was pretty apolitical. Oh, I had a few "Recommended Reading" links to political web sites, but mostly it was dirty jokes, rock and roll, coincidences, and the voices you hear waiting for the light to turn green. Go back farther than that, though, and things start getting political all over again. You may be wondering if I plan it that way. Nope. This blog is whatever's on my mind at any given time. Sometimes I'm musing about kings, other times, cabbages.

It might be better if this blog was apolitical all of the time. Why alienate half the potential audience? I'm sorry but I just can't do it. What you're reading is my take on the human condition, and I can't ignore the presidents, chancellors, prime ministers, premiers, monarchs, potentates, dictators, mullahs, and county sheriffs that preside over said condition. It would be like writing about Las Vegas without the gambling, Cleveland without the ethnic groups, Jerusalem without the religions, Rome without the naked statues, Brooklyn without the "dese" and "dose", California without the wildfires, and Indochina without the Nike factories.

So I'm writing about politics. But what's my ultimate goal? To change hearts and minds? That's what people assume you're trying to do when you get political. Really, when you give any kind of an opinion, no matter how innocuous. Tell somebody that you think Mary Ann was hotter than Ginger, a "fact" that can't be proven one way or the other, and you're nevertheless likely to face resistance. "Mary Ann?! If she's so hot how come she's not the movie star?! Answer me that, huh? Huh?!" (Ah, but she once was. Ever see the one where the coconut falls on Mary Ann's head and she thinks she's Ginger? Sex-x-xy!)

I'll admit it would be nice to change somebody's mind. If by reading one of my posts Sarah Palin could be transformed into a moose-petting, Mother Jones-reading, public option supporting, hippie chick progressive, I might consider even moving to Wasilla. But I really don't think my powers of persuasion are all that powerful.

It's not that I think minds and hearts can never be changed. If you have some sort of multi-billion dollar media blitz, either like that which led to the war in Iraq, or which convinced millions of Americans to watch the season premier of Jon and Kate plus 8 , when just a week earlier they hadn't even heard of Jon or Kate or the 8, then, yeah, people can be swayed. I just don't think I can sway those people. At least not completely. Best I can hope for is to plant a doubt in their minds. A shadow of a doubt.

OK, so if I'm not going to change any body's mind, what other possible reason do I have to give my two cents? Easy. To keep my own mind from being changed.

This blog is where I resist the multi-billion dollar media blitz, the trillion dollar PR push, the quadrillion dollar ad campaign (unless they want to use the AdSense box to the left, in which case I get a cut.)

This blog is my chance to show my resolve, to speak my mind, to be true to myself, and to be firm in my beliefs.

It's also where I can be stubborn, unyielding, obstinate, hardheaded, bullheaded, pigheaded, and just plain mulish. What's that you say? Those are negative personality traits? Why, of course they are! That's why I don't want anybody else with those same traits telling me what to think!

This blog is where I stand up to the status quo, the party line, the conventional wisdom, the received wisdom, the accepted wisdom, the societal norm, the social strictures, the cultural mores, and the p's and q's (which I don't mind at all.) On this blog I refuse to toe any line except the one I myself draw in the sand.

This blog is my outpost, my stronghold, my fortress.

I just hope it's not my Alamo.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Following Update

I'd like to welcome Numinosity, whose blog can be found to the left. My late mother, who loved scouring flea markets, antique shops, and the like, would have envied Numinosity's collection of artifacts. Check it out, folks.

I'd also like to thank LimesNow. In the past few months, I've picked up five followers through her blog. She's beaten Erin O'Brien's record.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Quips and Quotations

"You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion. ... The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that -- well, lucky you. "

— Philip Roth American Pastoral

Blog Vérité: Letting Go

Many, many years ago, when I was young and foolish, I bought this one girl a drink. What's so foolish about buying a girl a drink, you may ask? Ordinarily, nothing. Except this particular girl worked at the establishment that sold the drink, and I think part of her job description was getting guys to--

I want a more romantic beginning. Let me start over.

She was a vision of loveliness as she danced across the room...

Um, she actually danced across a stage. That was the other part of her job description.

Anyway, once she was done dancing, this very attractive girl walked over to my table, smiled, and said,

"Hi, can I join you?"

"Uh, yeah, sure," I replied.

She sat down, and asked, in the sweetest possible way,

"What's your name?"

"Kirk!" spewed forth from my larynx, which I let hang in the air for a second, until it bounced off the table and hit the floor with a thud. I then asked,

"What's your name?"

"Didn't you hear the DJ? He announced it when I went up."

"Oh, well, I--"

Taking no offense, she smiled and said, "My name is ______."

Like I said, this was many, many years ago. I've tried hard to remember her name, narrowing it down to Destiny, Candy, Angel, Raven, Roxy, Porsche, Lexxxie, Nikki, Asia, or, possibly, Bambi.

"It's nice to meet you, ______. You did a really nice job up there."

"Really, Kirk? Oh, God, that makes me feel good!"

It made me feel good that it made her feel good. I was about to tell her that, when, suddenly--

"Sir, would you care to buy the lady a drink?"

I turned. Standing over us was another of the establishment's employees, this one a little more fully clothed. A waitress, she had earlier got me my beer.

"Get me the usual," said ______.

The waitress examined my beer bottle.

"Looks like it's almost empty."

"I'll have another." I said.

As the waitress left to get the drinks, ______ smiled--maybe she had never stopped--and said, "Oh, Kirk, I'm so happy you're buying me a drink. I really need a drink."


For the first time that night, a frown appeared on her face.

"Really, Kirk. I really need that drink."

The waitress returned with my beer and the "usual", some red-colored drink. It could have passed for Kool-aid.

Her expression now grave, ______ held up her glass, and proclaimed,

"I am drowning my sorrows!"

She was hardly the first person ever to use "drowning" and "sorrows" in the same sentence, but coming from her Maybelline-lined lips, it sounded wholly original. And, man, did she gulp down that drink, before I even had a chance to say anything. When I finally did have the chance, I asked, "What did you order, anyway?"

"Kirk, don't you want to know why I'm drowning my sorrows?"

Since that was my second question anyway, I said, "Sure."

"Ten years ago today, I lost my baby boy!"

"Oh, my God!"

She cradled her face in her hands.

"Sir, would you care to buy the lady another drink?" It was the waitress again.

"Yeah, sure, whatever." I needed to hear this.

My vision of loveliness--I don't suppose I'm the first person to use "vision" and "loveliness" in the same sentence--looked miserable. She was staring at the table and shaking her head. Delicately, I said,

"So, you lost your baby?"

"Wrenched from my arms, Kirk!"

The other waitress returned with the drink, which ______ promptly gulped down. Though she didn't seem particularly drunk, that red liquid wasn't improving her mood any. She again looked down at the table and shook her head.

"It's all my mother's fault, Kirk!"

"That you lost your baby?"

"Oh, Kirk..."

"How could that be?"

"I was 15 years old when my boy was born, and she made me give him up for adoption."

"And that's how you lost your baby?"

"Wrenched from my arms!"

Relieved, I said, "I feel better."

"Kirk, she took my baby away!"

"No, no, that's not why. I misunderstood. I thought your baby died."

"I died, Kirk! I died inside! I died a thousand times! I've been dead ever since! I lost my baby, Kirk, and I died! I died, I died, I died!"

She may have died, but it made for a lively conversation.

"Sir, would you care to buy the lady another drink?"

And an expensive one.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Quips and Quotations

LAURA: Little articles of it [glass], they're ornaments mostly! Most of them are little animals made out of glass, the tiniest little animals in the world. Mother calls them a glass menagerie! Here's an example of one, if you'd like to see it! . . . Oh, be careful — if you breathe, it breaks! . . . Hold him over the light, he loves the light! You see how the light shines through him?
JIM: It sure does shine!
LAURA: I shouldn't be partial, but he is my favorite one.
JIM: What kind of a thing is this one supposed to be?
LAURA: Haven't you noticed the single horn on his forehead?
JIM: A unicorn, huh? — aren't they extinct in the modern world?
LAURA: I know!
JIM: Poor little fellow, he must feel sort of lonesome.

JIM: Aw, aw, aw. Is it broken?
LAURA: Now it is just like all the other horses.
JIM: It's lost its —
LAURA: Horn! It doesn't matter. . . . [smiling] I'll just imagine he had an operation. The horn was removed to make him feel less—freakish!

--Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

Thursday, April 15, 2010


A couple weeks back I watched The Ten Commandments for the millionth, billionth, trillionth, gazillionth time.

A brief synopsis.

Yul Brynner loves Anne Baxter who loves Charlton Heston who loves Yvonne De Carlo.

Meanwhile, Edward G. Robinson loves Debra Paget who loves John Derek.

No wonder it's a film about faith.

Monday, April 12, 2010

He Split His Time and What Else?

Today I'd like to discuss Henry L. Stimson.

Henry L. Stimson was born in 1867, and was 33 when the 19th century ended. Stimson was about 9 when Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, and about 12 when Thomas Edison invented the electric light. Neither invention became commonplace until the 20th century. The horse was the primary mode of transportation during Stimson's first three decades, though trains were often used for long distances.

Henry L. Stimson died in 1950. By that time, telephones and electric lights were common place. As well as automobiles, motion pictures, radios, and airplanes. Television was just beginning to catch on.

That's all you need to know about Henry L. Stimson.

Oh, wait. There's a couple more things.

Henry L. Stimson served as Secretary of War between 1940 and 1945. In that capacity he was a leading proponent of the development of the atomic bomb.

Just think, a man who spent his first three decades in the horse-and-buggy era helped bring about the nuclear age.

What the hell did he think an A-bomb was anyway, a giant cannonball?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Following Update

I'd like to welcome Gabriela Abalo, whose blog is called Embracing Who We Are .

Gabriela, I hope you'll embrace, or at least not be too repulsed by, my unique blend of Political Commentary, Social Criticism, Cultural Observations, Heartfelt Advice, Flights of Fancy, Emotional Catharsis, Comic Art (someday maybe; the library computer I use doesn't have a scanner), Dumb Jokes, Tortured Syntax, and a Lot of Bitching About Things I Have Absolutely No Control Over.

Meanwhile, I direct anyone reading this to the lower left-hand corner. You'll notice it says I have 13 followers. Look at those followers carefully.

Blogger is owned by Google. Don't any of those MIT graduates who work in Silicon Valley know how to count?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Quips and Quotations.

I am thankful for laughter, except when milk comes out of my nose.

--Woody Allen

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

What Do You Mean It's Completely Different?

One of the mainstays of the comment section, LimesNow, had a surprise visitor to her blog today. Here's how it came about. A couple of days ago she had done a post on the late soul great Sam Cooke. Today she decided to do a sequel of sorts about another great, Otis Redding. Either this post or the earlier post attracted the attention of none other than Sam Cooke's nephew, who left a comment. You can read what he said over at Lime's place.

LimesNow is understandably thrilled that someone related to Sam Cooke contacted her blog. Fine, Limes, be thrilled. I'm happy for you. I really am.

But I warn you, Limes, don't let it go to your head. You're not the only one capable of harnessing the power of the Internet. Some of my online musings have created such a tidal wave of interest that you and your visitor are mere drops of morning dew by comparison.

For instance, I once mentioned Monty Python on this blog.

And ended up with a lot of spam.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Following Update

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this blogger from welcoming El Postino on his swift completion of his appointed rounds.