A man said to the universe:
"Sir I exist!"
"However," replied the universe,
"The fact has not created in me
A sense of obligation."

Stephen Crane

Friday, June 11, 2010

Let a smile be your umbrella . . .

Somewhere around fifteen years ago, maybe a bit longer, I was in a meeting with some Apple Computer representatives, and one of them pointed out that in email, still at the time a fairly new form of communication, the reader didn't have facial expression and tone of voice to cue him or her. This meant that something written in jest could be misunderstood, and cause the reader to take offense. Since then I have heard and read the same thing over and over and over. Be careful! No one can tell if you're joking!

As a result of this writing paranoia two equally obnoxious phenomena have developed.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

A polka dot shirt, and man, oh man . . .

This happened a little over thirty years ago. It was the early mid-Seventies, when disco was not yet a joke, or at least not an over-whelmingly embarrassing one.  The Seventies, as a decade, have so much to answer for—from elephant bell-bottoms, to afros on Midwestern farm kids of obviously Germanic ancestry, to lime green leisure suits—that disco sometimes seems to be the least of its sins. At any rate, I was working at the time as an optician, and managed an optical shop in the largest mall in the area. I think the mall has fallen on some hard times recently, but at that time it was the place to shop for three or four counties.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sweet land of . . .

My friends have always run the full length of the cultural/political spectrum. I have known, and liked, conservative Mormons, gay Jews for Christ, Republicans and Democrats of every gradation, middle of the road Independents, born again Christians, Islamic fundamentalists, card carrying Socialists, left-wing Buddhists, right-wing Buddhists, even further right-wing atheists and everything else in between except, perhaps, an asexual, cross-dressing nihilist. The only really non-negotiable requirements I have had have been honesty and tolerance. As long as a person was truthful about their beliefs and willing to at least try to understand that my beliefs were just as honestly held as theirs, we could be friends.

Then there are the Libertarians.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Memories, pressed between the pages of my mind . . .

It was, I believe, in sixth grade that the class took a daylong trip to the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village. This was the biggest field trip we had ever taken and it required signed permission slips and packed lunches. It was also, if memory serves, the first time I ever actually rode a school bus. I was a town kid, and had always walked to school or had been driven by Mom in our third-hand Plymouth the half mile or so when something was bleeding.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

No colors anymore . . .

What does practically every rock 'n roll performer; whiny, little emo-brat; anime otaku; younger comedian; self-declared "sexy" woman; "dangerous" (again, a self-declared state) cowboy; neo-Nazi; acutely sensitive poet; "serious" writer, businessperson, baby-sitter, etc, etc have in common?

They all think wearing black makes a statement other than, "I'm boring."

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Fight on fiercely, Harvard, fight, fight, fight . . .

At the top of the stairs going down to the Athletic Field on the nights we had a home game, one of the local farmers would sell cartons of freshly pressed apple cider. Rumor had it that occasionally some of the cartons would be left-overs from the last home game, and had turned hard in the interim. That none of the cider ever was hard did nothing to diminish the feeling that perhaps this carton was the one. Hard or not, the taste of fresh apple cider on a crisp autumn evening was unforgettable.

At that time football was, for me, a few classmates in uniforms and helmets throwing themselves against other uniforms and helmets under some garish lights on an Friday evening. More important to me was the taste of that cider, the warmth of my band uniform, and the way my date's hand felt in a wool mitten. Otherwise it was just a game whose objective made very little sense to me. I had spent a lot of time in hospitals, and purposefully doing things that could very easily put you, or the other guy, in the hospital was, in my opinion, not the hallmarks of a reasonable, or even fun, sport.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

It's a thousand pages give or take a few . . . 11番

One of the more popular plot lines in science fiction involves the hero going back in time, and preventing something from happening so that in the future they came from some, even more terrible, thing will not happen. For some reason, probably one best explored while watching the currents created by the ice melting in a glass of scotch, the even more terrible thing very often is the birth of some individual. The argument goes something like this: the world, as we know it, is crap. The reason it is crap can be traced directly back to this exact person. Therefore, if that exact person is never born then, ipso facto, the world will not be crap.