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Saturday, October 15, 2022

OPEN THREAD 714

I walked Murray around nine this morning, when the weather indicated some clear before a period of moisture. There were some bits of junk mail here and there that had escaped from a recycling container. (I even know whose, thanks to addressed mail, but that's irrelevant.) After ignoring them for a minute, I picked them up and folded the small stack and jammed it in my back pocket to recycle at home. When I started practicing, I looked out and saw that the one house on the street that still had a piece of that stuff was ours. It was flapping quietly to draw attention to itself and, by association, to denigrate our choices of local politicians to have yard signs for. 

I ignored it for a minute. Two minutes. Then after some more minutes I went out and strided to it. Regarded it for a couple of seconds, taking in at a glance the quality of shower stalls being offered, then clapped it up and crumpled it and took it in, gaining exercise and a timely reminder that it was about time to do my teeth and stuff anyway, so there's that. And then I updated my blog, because why not? 

Attached is a photo proving that the color folded flyer page is no longer waving at passers-by. And here is an Open Thread, because we here at the New Pals Club Web-Log believe in letting our reader have their say, This is the first in a long tradition, so I gave it a great big number in the tradition of composer Karl Czerny, who wrote a lot of notes on pages but still inflated his apparent output with ever-larger Opus numbers, and why the heck not?

Proof! Select the window pane that does not contain an ad for new shower stalls. IT'S ALL OF THEM!

Anyway, here's your Open Thread. I hope this thing works. 

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Sunday, July 31, 2022

Just Blow a Raspberry

BEDAZZLED, the Faustian comedy feature by Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, delighted me instantly, though I soon started thinking that this part or that part was dated or awkward or embarrassing. Oddly, as time went by and I got older--two things that occurred simultaneously--the awkwardnesses seem to have hit closer to the mark than I knew, and the dated aspect becomes the perfection of a period piece. In short, the good bits keep getting better and the weak ones either do or become unimportant, and what's left is one of my generation's classics.

Dudley Moore, aka Stanley Moon, is a diner cook in love with the unattainable waitress Margaret Spencer (Eleanor Bron, who I remember best from HELP). Stanley is approached by George Spiggot (Peter Cook), who being Lucifer the Lord of the Underworld offers George seven wishes. Seven chances to win the amazing Margaret, and any one of them should do it, right? Stanley lets himself be convinced: his original sin. The movie shows us the relationship between these two men, with Margaret as a pawn We never see her internal world, and most of her time is spent in scenarios concocted by George in order to ruin Stanley's wishes, and her role is akin to that of another castaway playing a part in a dream sequence on Gilligan's Island. 

George also manages the seven deadly sins, each personified by an actor. Raquel Welch as Lust lights up the screen with a broad Southern accent. He also takes Stanley with him on some of his rounds, which consist of a series of petty annoyances against people (and perhaps animals), because it's his job, as he explains to Stanley at some length. God makes him do this, in a pretty direct way. It's not George's fault. Nothing ever is. (I knew a George.) 

A favorite scene of mine has the two men dressed in white and showing up at an elderly woman's house. George says that they're the Fruney Green Eyewash men, and if she has five bottles of Fruney Green Eyewash in her home, she will win a tidy little prize. Of course she doesn't, but George encourages her to nip to the chemist and bring them back, and he'll pretend they were there all along. After she goes off on her bike, George raids her fridge and eats her raspberries and cream. Stanley complains, but has some too. Anyway, George offers, it's all her fault because she wanted to lie about the eyewash. 

Speaking of raspberries, the deal is that Stanley can end any wish and go back to status quo by blowing a raspberry. George's preferred magic words are "Julie Andrews!" but he can substitute. The scenarios of Stanley's wishes, egged on by George's devilish suggestions, are the formal set pieces of the movie, and they get more and more exacting as Stanley endeavors each time to make THIS one George-proof. Witness ye now my favorite, a self-contained "Ready, Steady, Go!" parody on a show called "Going, Going, Gone!" Stanley has wished for fame, and he has wished to win the heart of the fair Margaret (I love the moment when she's watching Stanley on the stage and is suddenly transfixed by Stanley on the monitor.). 

So Stanley goes on, singing a song written by Dudley Moore, and everything goes according to plan for a while.


 
 

It's the ultimate (as Dudley could well deliver, and often did) in its field, and its field is NEEDINESS. You will never hear a needier pop song, more baldly delivered. Watch the choreography. Then note the exact opposite of all fo it in the follow-up, also by Dudley, delivered by the guy who just couldn't help being tall and handsome and cold.

(Incidentally, Bongwater covered "Bedazzled," the song, gender-flipped and hilariously camp. Recommended.)

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Tuesday, July 19, 2022

A Timely Tip

Playing piano at Minicon about 15 years ago. Photo by Tony von Krag.

When you're learning to play a piece--on the piano, in this case--it's helpful to learn the melody by humming or whistling or la-la-la-ing. This piece of advice from my father, a piano teacher, has turned out to be very useful recently. Makes me wish Dad had told me years earlier. Or at all.

As it happens, I got this pointer from my sister, to whom Dad told it decades ago. Dad tried twice to teach me and we apparently came up with a mutual unspoken deal where I'd struggle by myself for years and he'd occasionally offer me a suggestion that would usually prove useful, though not as useful as learning to finger, or acquiring basic harmony knowledge. After I finally started spending my own money for lessons, Mr. Diebel (I expect his proper title was Dr., but I never heard it used or requested) patiently addressed the worst of my deficiencies, ignoring my utter helplessness from his friendship with Dad. Dad once asked him what the main thing was he'd taught me, and Diebel answered by putting five fingers on his arm and saying "One, two, three, four, five." When I came to him, I acquired most notes by moving my hand. When we moved out of state a year or so later, I was about where a second or third-year student might be, provided nobody asked any theory questions, including "what key is this in?"

Fortune and decision brought me to theory. First, I noticed the existence of the Irish jam on Cathy's campus and started going. I tried playing my tiny backpack keyboard, but it was nigh inaudible in the room full of fiddlers and accordionists. I brought my accordion in (never learned the bass notes) and sight-read on that for a while before buying a five-octave keyboard with full-sized keys I could play. That led to a feeling of obligation toward those chord names over the tune sheets we used, and I started filling in, first with just the roots of the chords, then block chords, and finally comping. That's when a light bulb in my head said "You should take theory now, before you graduate." So I took four semesters off my art major and just took the sequence, not even for credit. I had some questions early on which my teacher answered by having me sit in on the aural training class concurrent with the theory cycle. 

I figured I knew enough theory from osmosis that I could start the class without a semester of "this is your finger and this is a note," and I was almost wrong but got through it with a simple trick I've mastered of clenching my entire head and keeping it that way until a problem seems to solve itself. The theory homework had the side effect of teaching me legible musical writing, which worked out because I also started writing some pieces of music in the same format we used in the jam. The class and sessions are the best musical education I've received, and I wish I'd done it decades earlier. 

I was talking to a couple of friends in the group (dang! I have friends here.) about playing outside the sessions to do other kinds of music. Suddenly, people started getting Covid and parts of society shut down, including all campus activities like ours (mostly peopled by non-college folks). My friend and I exchanged mp3s for a while, then started meeting under extremely careful conditions. After two years and change, we pick up new pieces pretty quickly (the tough ones take longer), often making our own non-virtuoso arrangements for the purpose. That's when Martha mentioned the bit about humming.

Who knows if I could have taken music theory earlier? I had one theoretical sort of class in Georgia but was trying to do math and computers and art. Would I have shrugged it off like my first (and second) lessons? Would Dad's pointer have taken root if he'd told it to me himself? Who sawed Courtney's boat? 

I'm taking away from this exactly what I'm getting: a tip that makes it even easier at a time when it's continually getting easier. With any luck, I'll get up to Michigan in the Fall and have a chance to show Dad how my playing is going, and mention that I'm using his tip. There's some baggage lying around that I don't feel like picking up. It'd just slow me down anyway, and nothing in it's of any real value. 

Left foot. Right foot. Am I there yet? 

Repeat.

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Friday, July 08, 2022

A Window In Time

For alt-text, see third note below. Picture might enlarge if you click on it. This is as big as I can get it before it takes over the page.
 

One day in 1969, I was taking photography as an 8th-grade elective for a semester. I had the use of Mom's Kodak Bantam, which used 828 film (eight exposures? EIGHT?). It occurred to me that I could take a picture of the view from our living room window and save it forever!

That's probably Mark standing on what they called "a treehouse," wood nailed up in squared-off shapes. There's Roxy, their pony, visible behind the doghouse of Lady, the least fortunate collie ever, trust me. There's the swingset and the full-size tree they put in there.

There's the back yard where the boys would drive the "old" pickup around and around when they were too young to go on the road.* There's acres of pasture** where cattle sometimes grazed, and I found one of our cats dead.

There's the first leg up the hill, and the notch where we'd first spy the glint of our yellow bus coming around the mountain. We knew exactly how much time we had to get to the end of our gravel driveway. There's Spring Canyon Dam. The Swimming Gorilla. Horsetooth Mountain.

Confession: I had to fix the negative, which was torn clear down into Horsetooth, and the image there now is something I did in Photoshop to make it less glaring.

And there's our huge sky, always a canvas for extravagant white clouds that passed from the west and north mostly. One day I realized why: No trees, huh. How about that.

Special bonus: the lighter rectangle floating behind Mark shows the reflection in the glass of the kitchen window on the east side of the house. Hello, little window!

So, darn. It really worked, and it still works. I wish to award myself a point. Where's the chalk?

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* Footnote: When I worked for RMFRES in 1980, I had occasion to visit the photo department at CO State U, and they had an aerial shot that must have been from right about 1969. You could clearly see the oval track in their back yard. rrr-RRRRR-rrrr!

** Feetnote: I referred to exactly this sort of terrain recently in a reminiscence of stepping out of a car in like 2004 onto ground like that and feeling like I was FINALLY HOME again, because the bottoms of my feet felt right at last.

 *** ALT TEXT for the photo! I can't find a way to do it here, but here's what I used for alt-text at Twitter, where most of this originally appeared earlier this morn... afternoon. 

"A black and white view looking west at the Front Range foothills of northern Colorado. In the near ground, scraggly trees, the neighbor's fence, a doghouse, a pony's back visible above the doghouse, a garage with a kid standing on a homemade construction of some sort at the south end. Acres and acres of mostly bare prairie with a long-unlived-in house visible just before the first hill. Spring Canyon Dam connects two hills, holding in Horsetooth Reservoir (named for the notch-shaped hill 3/4 of the way across the hilltops). Clothesline. Swingset."

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Monday, July 04, 2022

From The Record Canister

We used to have a canister which might have originally held potato chips, but which was about 8" across, making it suitable for a stack of 45s and kiddie 78s. At a point in my life at which I had less control, I turned left and they turned right, and I never saw or heard them again, but my mind's ear provides replays of them, nestled in with the ringing.

One of the more peculiar of these kiddie disks was on the flip side of "Tattle-Tale Duck" ("Tattle-tale, tattle-tale, quackity-quack! / He tattles in front and he wiggles in back! / So watch your step, / You're out of luck / If you get caught by the tattle-tale duck!"), with the mild title "Ducks On Parade." 

It doesn't seem to be online. I checked, but you check as well. Sometimes I miss things.

Unlike most of the songs I'd hear in this enigmatic stack of clues to the greater world (such things would come my way, and I'd puzzle over their meaning as I labored to get the words right) this one had no lyrics. It was a pure instrumental, and if I'm any judge, it was made up on the spot. The instrumentation eludes my mental track, but the underall obbligato was a rhythmic quacking sound. Not a real quack, but a quacking sound. Not to put too fine a point on it, it was obviously a toy duck of the sort Lucy Van Pelt might have pulled around in a desultory fashion in a 50s Peanuts strip. And I'm not sticking my neck out very far by boldly asserting that someone had a wheeled duck toy and put it on one of the turntables in the studio and held it while the table turned, producing a quasi-quack-quack track.

And heck, that's really the interesting bit, right there. The melody is a series of tentative beginnings of phrases.

Doo.
Dooby dooby doo.
Dooby dooby doo; dooby dooby doo; dooby dooby doo.

(repeat a note higher; keep fumfering with it, and eventually back out more or less the same way)

It didn't have to be long. A 5" 78 record isn't good for much more than a minute, if that. So I guess either someone was screwing around with the ducky and the producer said "Let's record it," or else they were sitting around desperate for one more side that day, and the guy at the turntable said "How about this?" and put the duck on, and then the piano guy made up this tune, and eleven minutes later, they'd recorded it and mastered it and gone out for drugs.

You'll let me know if you find it, won't you? I haven't heard it in over fifty years. I mean, outside of  my head. Also, if you happen upon it, I'd really like a copy (even just audio) of the ~1970 ad for Clearasil or Noxzema that has the obnoxious "I am an Acne Pimple!" song that haunts my inner ear, where it threatens to overturn my balance.
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Friday, June 17, 2022

Another Biggest Moment

 In one of the earliest seasons of the Simpsons, Lisa has a substitute teacher (voiced by Dustin Hoffman) who she falls in love with on every emotional and intellectual level she has. He's magic. He understands her, stimulates her, and deals patiently with her grade-school crush.

Like any sub, he can't stay around. Lisa's teacher gets over her illness and shows up in class. Lisa runs to find him, and they have a scene at the train station, where he sadly, patiently, explains that he is needed for the slowest kids, the troubled kids, the trouble kids. 

"But what about ME?" Lisa demands. Why is it always someone else's turn? When it is her turn? What will happen to her? The teacher gives her a note, and says that everything's going to be okay. Wait till the train goes, and read the note. And away he goes, smaller and smaller, out of sight, and before that happens, she has unfolded the paper and read the words:

"You are Lisa Simpson."

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Biggest Moment

There's an episode of the original Star Trek series, not a distinguished one, where Kirk has to escort a trophy wife for some political alliance, and she uses her alien wiles to force him to fall in love with her. As the show ends, McCoy and Spock are discussing the heartbroken captain. "I've sedated him," says Bones. "He's all right physically. If he could only just forget." Spock says nothing. The doc leaves, still muttering.

Spock watches Kirk for a few moments, his face impassive, reflecting nothing. Then he extends his right hand in a very Vulcan configuration, seeks a spot on his friend's temple, and intones the word:

"Forget."

The episode is more than fifty years old, and it still hits me behind the eyes.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

"B" Attitudes

To everything, there is a purpose, and a time for every season under Heaven. There is a time to put your right foot in, and a time to take your right foot out. A time to Kung Fu, and a time to Wang Chung. There is a time to hit the bus, Gus, and a time to never let you go.

There's a time to eat the plums, and there is a time to refrigerate plums together. There is a time to hold them, and there is a time to lay them upon the table. There's a time for getting what you want, and there is a time for getting what you need. There's a time to roll over and a time to wake up Maggie. There is a time for jazz hands, and there is a time for happy feet. There is a time for little green apples, and a time to shake the peach tree.

There is a time to like short shorts, and there is a time for tequila. There's a time for knowing what time it is, and a time not to really care. There's a time for getting to Phoenix, and there's a time for working on the line. There is a time for a ball and chain, and a time for a ring of fire. There's a time to ride, captain, ride, and there's a time to not rock the boat. There is a time for dancing in the moonlight, and a time for leaving the cake out in the rain.

There is time for the journey of a covered wagon, and there is time for a three-hour tour. A three-hour tour. There is time for a jump to the left, and there is time for a step to the right. There is time for me to cry at my party, and there is a time for Judy to cry. There is a time to tune in tomorrow, and a time to tune in next week. There's a time for placing things, and there is a place for timing them.

There is a time to talk to a horse, of course, and there is a time to sit on it. There is a time to buy a vowel, and there is a time to spin the wheel; a time to introduce yourself and a time to write your final answer in the form of a question. There is a time to watch your mail, and a time to look under your seat. There is a time to just do it, and there is a time to ask your doctor if it is right for you. There is a time to fuck around, and there is a time to find out. There is a time to save a stitch, and there is a time to spend nine. There's a bit of spinach between your teeth; there it goes.

There is a time and a place for everything, but there is no time for sergeants.

Saturday, April 30, 2022

Ellipses Are … Your Friend.

The humble ellipse has several purposes. It’s not just for avoiding punctuation any more! Though it still fills that need admirably. I picked up an issue of THE HIGHWAY EVANGELIST at a truck stop on I-80, many years back, and one feature that would have caused Mark Twain to prick up his ears was bad poetry of a pathetic nature. The alert reader has already tumbled to Twain’s fondness for mawkish funerary verse, and this was a near cousin to it.

The epic in question was arranged to look like verses. I don’t recall that it had much in the way of rhymes or meter. What stays in my mind was the choked sentence fragments, separated by roaming trios of periods. “She was…just a child…” Line after line of half-chewed partial sentences, disgorged randomly. I’ve seen other vox pop publications that seemed to accept whatever was sent in, provided it avoided bad language, and bad language wasn’t the only thing they avoided. Good language was pretty scarce, too.

Of course, ellipses are handy for sharpening up a quote to reduce meandering, improve focus, and change the meaning to something that will sell your movie or can of beans or whatever. Moreover, they will serve the same functions when you wish to represent the ideas and stands of someone who’s on the opposite political side from your own. Really skilled operators can even do it with audio or video of the opponent, particularly if luck is on their side and all that is required of them is to cut away the exculpatory parts of a phrase before and after the apparently incriminating nugget.

Then, there is the ironical use of the ellipse, which doesn’t even seem to be an ellipse at all when you look at it closely, which is why I refer to the formation instead as The Three Dots of Irony. Many a prose writer, unhappy that words on a page can’t convey the rise of the eyebrow, the hopeful smile, the whimsical shrug that says “I’m being humorous. Please laugh now!” The pronunciation of the Three Dots could, therefore, be similar to an actual laugh: Ha, ha, ha.

My experience goes back to the 70s, in print fandom, where jolly raconteurs, unhappy that their physical aspect was no longer part of their narrative, took to adding the three dots after remarks intended to convey humor in order to imbue it with irony and a hint of self-mockery. Often, they managed to convey also that despite his best efforts, the speaker was a windy bore who tended to finish each sentence or paragraph with an appeal to the listener to agree or affirm what has just been said.

The “Joke over; laugh now” purpose is supplemented nowadays with emoticons, bright little fuzzy dots of color which, in some media, contain a hovertext that might explain what word they’re standing in for. Many convey no information, but are overt requests for a particular reaction, most often laughter (but sometimes tears).

In the 70s social writers in apas and fanzines experimented with brief text cues whose usual purpose was to deflect an adverse reaction to some facially hostile sally or witticism, so that such things could be said with (hopefully) less consequence. S,AS stood for “Smiling, Always Smiling,” and meant something akin to “I was just riffing when I called you that awful thing, and I hope you won’t be so gauche as to insult me back!” NS,N was somewhat unusual in that it stood for “Not Smiling, Not,” and actually amounted to a writer confirming their being invested in what they’d written, rather than the expected nimble dance away from it.

Today’s writers have their preferred way of doing the same thing, with “/s,” representing the supposed closing of a mythical ‘sarcasm tag’ or ‘snark tag.’ By throwing in an actual label that disowns the words they just wrote, they have reached a new plateau in laughing at their own joke out of fear that their sarcasm is insufficient for a reader to detect without a helpful marker. The same people sometimes bemoan the lack of A sArCaSm FoNt (see what I did there?), because its nonexistence leaves them faced with the horror of having to either write sarcasm well enough that most people will get it (you won’t get everybody to see it, since RW cranks never tire of the delirious joy of pretending not to understand sarcasm when someone else uses it), or to not make the joke that was begging to be unleashed on a humor starved world just seconds ago.

So they’ll either make a quip that’s a standard thing someone on the Right might say, then punch it up with the SARC tag so we all know it’s funny, or they say something so vastly exaggerated (often well past humor) and then suddenly worry that they haven’t gone far enough, so they slap the tag on there to compel laughter.

Correct essay form is demanding that I end this article on an ellipsis… but nerts to that.

Tuesday, April 26, 2022

Their Dogs

The paranoid’s dog learns to utter a soft bark, almost a cough, to announce itself before entering a room.

A wolf put its nose under a human’s arm by the fire. The human’s arm went up in reflex, then down, where he was petting the wolf before he could stop himself. There were no words for how the wolf made him feel. Literally, there weren’t really words. The wolf’s mouth hung open an inch, and his tongue lolled, and the human knew what it meant, and he mimicked the open V made by the angle of the wolf’s head. Dogs taught humans to smile.

The ADHD fellow’s dog is the most patient beast. He hints to his human for many minutes before the human is ready to look up, though he will pet him the while. Then the human will know it’s time for the dog to go out, and he will turn back to what he’s doing as if he will quickly finish it, and will deal very shortly with a couple of things that have just come up. The dog will not actually start feeling hop until the human stands decisively, and then the dog must watch human put on outside garments and check for the proper equipment in pockets and have a drink of water. Then there’s something new on the screen. Then the human follows the leading dog out into the hall, stepping back to switch off the lights. The dog looks back frequently. There is a bathroom that the human often goes into for some period of time just before a walk. Sometimes the human spends time brushing teeth. Then the human remembers something else back in the room. Then the human puts on another garment. Then the human runs up and down the stairs again for whatever reason, and then the dog is almost ready to go out.

Murray, why do you wrinkle your brow?

The homeless man’s dog is the luckiest of all dogs. Master is always present. Master spares no extent to make dog happy, though dog scarcely notices anything but Master. Rich dogs rightly envy them.

Purse dogs learn to get by on secondary affection, half-power pets and scritches while the mind is on another task, but still guaranteed by constant proximity.

"Ding ding--PSYCH!" --Pavlov, being a jerk.

Annie Warbucks’s Sandy might seem expensive to feed, but he’s worth his weight in human lives. He’ll probably scout out his own food while securing a supply for you as well. His power lies in his ability to walk a tightrope between being amazing (a dog who can fake snoring to fool a Nazi) and losing his canine identity as another hairy comedic second lead. As far as I know, Harold Gray only took us into Sandy’s thoughts one time, and then in a narratorial voice describing his thoughts without trying to mimic them. Considering how long Sandy trod the panels as a major player, this restraint is almost superhuman. In today’s strips, he’d have thought balloons, hobbies, and multiple internet accounts.

I will never forgive the creators of one of my favorite shows for their treatment of the protagonist’s dog.

After the last war, some former military androids got together and discussed whether they had a purpose, and they decided to use the tech available to them to build something of the wreckage of the world. As they sat on boxes in a ring, one of them felt a nose on its arm and looked down to see a military canoid looking up at it. He patted its cranial receptor to indicate acceptance and, to amplify the message, mirrored its expression.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Fox Walk

 

I just had a walk with Murray, as is customary for such a time of day.
He was asking for it. I prefer it to be my idea, but what the heck.
Out we went, after I looked at the temps and stuck my beak out the
front door to second-guess the weather people.
My face evaluation confirmed that it wasn’t cold,
but there was a moist coolness in the air that brought the feeling lower,
so I dressed for it and leashed the hound and opened the door.

He checked out the air himself, sizing up the day as he always does,
sniffing an extra second or two before heading into it. 
We launched ourselves straight forward this time, walking from porch 
to flagstones to grass, passing the tree swing, which I regarded with affection 
for a moment before we were passing over the patch of straw thoughtfully strewn 
a season ago by the men who had torn up the yard for pipe work and left it 
awaiting final repair, through which new grass stands straight to see over 
the scattered stems. Mark across the street says they’ll come around 
and make good on it, and he’s not worried. That’s a relief, as I often feel 
for Mark that he has to see my lawn while I get to see his.

Murray sniffed enthusiastically along a route I’d tried unsuccessfully to interest 
him in yesterday, a path where I’d looked up from the piano to see something 
larger than a cat which turned out to be a reddish fox, of healthy pelt and bushy tail, 
which departed the front of our yard, crossed the street, and vanished between 
Mark’s and Mike’s houses. He wanted to follow the trail right on past the yellow 
hydrant that stands between them, but I drew the line there, and we went on down the street. 

As always, he found reasons not to walk on the left. Had to sniff this, had to sniff that. 
We got down to the end of the block and wandered toward the beaten green 
that connects this subdivision with the Knickerbocker field and the path to 
the railroad trail that connects to everything else. 
As always, he sniffed a lot, sometimes on the ground, sometimes in the air 
while listening intently and looking off into the distance, muttering 
monosyllabic comments to himself under his breath from time to time. 
Another dog and human connected by a leash went by, and I had a short 
meteorological chat with the latter while Murray chose the moment 
to relieve himself (I am displeased that he so often picks yards where kids play. 
What’s with that?), so I didn’t get around to telling the neighbor about the fox 
that had been in my yard.

A minute later, Murray was looking intently between two of the houses at the end of the block, 
and I looked up just in time to see the fox unhurriedly traverse the last couple of yards 
and step behind the second house. I continued clutching the leash, a thing I often think 
I’m getting good at until the day Murray decides he needs to be a vector, 
and I’m an irrelevant constant to be disregarded. We hurried along the street now, 
both hoping to see Reynard again, but we didn’t. 

It’s easy to see, in retrospect, that the trail was fresher today. 
Lots fresher, with a working fox on the other end of it. 
Of course I didn't get any photos, but I can at least offer a legit pic of a similar animal 
(though sadly mangy) seen and snapped in this very back yard. 
 
A red fox that found my yard worthy of being in, 2012.

 

I saw this one a few times about ten years ago. Relation, perhaps.

ABOUT THE PARAGRAPHING: 

Blogger has made some change that resulted in my pasted-in text 

having no right-hand margin, so I had to throw in line returns 

in hopes it would work on other screens. Sorry, it's all their fault, not mine.

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Sunday, April 10, 2022

By the Numbers

One is the loneliest number. 

Two is how many can live as cheaply as one.

Three is how many are a crowd.

Four is the start of the Gettysburg Address, in scores.

Five is how many senses, when I was a kid.

Six is the rule that there is no Rule Six.

Seven is the listmaker’s number. Seven of this, seven of that.

Eight is “enough.”

Nine is the number of stitches saved by the one in time.

Ten is any one?


Nineteen’s what Boomers start checks* with. (*what?)

Twenty-three is the point at which you skidoo.

Twenty-six red cards in a deck.

Twenty-nine miles to Santa Catalina.

Thirty pieces of silver.

Thirty-one flavors of ice cream.

Thirty-three is the speed of an LP.

Thirty-six is a good first and third measurement, gals.

Thirty-nine was Jack Benny’s age. Well!

Forty-two is the answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Forty-three is the wrong answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Forty-five is a calibre, a malt liquor, a rock single.

Forty-nine! Forty-niners! We’re gonna be rich!

Fifty’s half of fifty-fifty. Presumed average.


Fifty-four is, along with forty, fighting words.

Fifty-seven varieties.

Sixty-four is now nostalgia for Sir Paul.

Sixty-six is now a nostalgic route for that California trip.

Sixty-seven was that Expo in Canada.

Sixty-nine was that smutty number, nudge nudge.

Seventy-six was the spirit of a nation, in trombones.

Seventy-eight was the music of our ancestors.

Eighty-four was the dystopia we feared then failed to notice.

Eighty-six was banned from itself.

Eighty-eight keys on a Steinway grand.

Ninety-seven’s the unlucky engine that fateful night.

Ninety-eight? That’s normal. (WEAKLING!)

Ninety-nine bottles of beer on the wall.

 

One hundred is what you want to keep it to.

One oh one was a silly millimeter longer.

One oh nine was JFK's PT.

One eleven is Cosmic Time in Digital.

One seventeen was always the answer page in Children's Digest.

One twenty was the speed of my most used 35mm film.

One forty-four is, to be blunt about it, gross.

 

Two hundred motels, per Frank Zappa.

Two twelve is where water boils in Fahrenheit.

Two twenty-one with a B... calling on Mister Holmes. 

Two two two: the solution to a sinister clue from the Riddler, Robin!

Two-three-two, an RS connector that used to matter a lot.

Two fifty-three, the highway number of a local street. Only time I'll do that.

Two fifty-six, one of the multiples of two that one sees out in the wild.

Two seventy-six, the "that's us" part of our old rural route address.

 

Three hundred issues, the goal of Cerebus creator Dave Sim.

Three oh three, the first area code I ever learned.

Three sixteen, the chapter and verse (in John) that Bible lovers can recall.

Three fifty-seven: Magnum, another iconic high-calibre size.

Three sixty, a panoramic view or one complete revolution. 

Three sixty-five, the days of a year. We won't discuss freak years here.

Three sixty-six, and it's leapt out of my control.

Three ninety-seven: down this week only from three ninety-nine.

 

Four Hundred, an elite caste of capitalized capitalists.

Four oh four, not found.

Four oh nine, the fungal formula for getting things clean and funny smelling.

Four eleven, the number that tells you all the other numbers.

Four fifteen: Income Tax Day. Treasure chest becomes a brass check. Ho ho.

Four twenty: As we get too old to laugh at sixty-nine, we will always have four twenty, man.

Four thirty-five cycles per second is a favored pitch for supposed baroque concert A.

Four forty is today's concert A, and we have electronic machines to enforce it.

Four forty two Glenwood Avenue is a girl group song I was just listening to.

Four fifty is as hot as you can make a book without it going Full Bradbury.

Four fifty one! You fool! Didn't I just warn you?

 

 

Saturday, April 02, 2022

THE GREAT AMERICAN SPORT

 

PRIVILEGEBALL:

A competitive game for two teams.


Each team to be composed of a dozen players of any ethnicity.
The team will eventually end up consisting almost entirely of minority members.


In addition, each team has a Star Captain, who must be a white male of means,
accustomed to giving orders. .


The object of the game is for the Star Captain of a team to put a medicine ball in a receptacle
that’s about seven feet from the ground, not very different from a basketball court setup.


The Star Captain is to be seated in a chair of specified construction (comfortable) at all times. 

 

The SC is to be carried in the chair at all times. His feet are not to touch the floor of the court. 

 

The chair’s feet are not to touch the floor of the court. 

 

The height of the receptacle is awkwardly high so that the team will need to raise him enough
to place the ball inside without taking his bottom off the chair.


Conventions of the game:


The SC is, of course, the only player on a team who can score, and by design should be
the only player who is credited with achieving success. 

 

To help in this aim, the team members are differentiated as little as possible, 

and their names are not shown prominently on their drab uniforms. 

 

Bless their hearts, they wouldn’t know what to do with it if we gave it to them.


The team ends up consisting mostly of ethnic minorities after a while, as individuals who are 

used to enjoying privilege off the field tend to resent losing them in the game. 

 

They also get sore about the pay, despite the strict injunction against discussing it.


The team often ends up practicing without the SC, as the glamorous life of an important player 
sometimes requires these sacrifices in order to carry out the vital social responsibilities 
of a leading athlete. 

 

At these times, the team uses a weighted mannequin that flops about 
realistically to stand in for the SC. They usually get more done at these practices anyway,
for some reason.


Benefits of the game:


The fact that SC is the only one who can score proves just how valuable SC types 

are in society. It’s a metaphor.

 



Thursday, March 03, 2022

Sleeping Beauty

 There's a particular Fractured Fairy Tale I am inordinately fond of. It's a bit of a departure, and you'll soon see why.

The beginning simply recounts that she went to sleep and all that. The cartoon picks up right away when they introduce the Prince.

He talks like Phil Silvers, but this (card-carrying!) prince looks like the King of Cartoons himself. And don't just take my word for it, but witness his actions.

He starts toward kissing her, then realizes: "I could be throwing away a GOLD MINE! Awake, she's just another princess, but asleep..."

 
Visions of Sleeping Beauty wigs, Sleeping Beauty dolls, Sleeping Beauty BUBBLE GUM!
 

So, just like that, SLEEPING BEAUTYLAND is born, and cars full of people throng the gates.

"MOATLAND! Have your X coupons ready, please!"

"Welcome to ENTRY HALL LAND! Y coupons, please!"

STAIR LAND is, unsurprisingly, a Z coupon attraction.


We don't find out what kind of coupon you have to have to see Sleeping Beauty Herself.

"DOZE DOLL DUZ WIZ BIZ" --Variety "One million one... one million two..." --Prince Walt

We meet Yolanda, the evil fairy who made all this possible, and she wants half the operation.

"Well, let's have a look at OUR operation, PARTNER!!"

"This is DUNGEONLAND! Enjoy your stay!"

"Two million and..." "I'm BACK! They don't make 'em like they used to!"

"The SUBMARINE RIDE! Excuse the cement! It's a SAFETY precaution! The city MAKES us do it!"

"Three million and one, three..." "HELLOO!"

Souvenir shop! "That's $1.69 for the Sleeping Beauty Lasso! And you qualify for a special prize!"

"...A FREE moon rocket! Bon Voyage!"

Then--tragedy! The crowds dwindle. 

Prince Walt, despondent, tells her the ride is over, and she can have the whole thing. 

"Let's wake 'er up!" suggests never-say-die Yolanda. "Only I can't do it 'cause I'm not a fairy. Just evil!"

"I can't do it! I'm not really a prince--I couldn't afford the union card! ... I'm a HOG FLOGGER!"

Just then Sleeping Beauty sits up and opens her eyes. "I wasn't really asleep."
"Then why did you act like you were for twenty years??"

"I JUST WANTED TO SEE IF I COULD MAKE IT IN SHOW BUSINESS!"

There is no moral. The blackness of life closes in around you. We do not escape, ever.

 (Rim shot!)


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