Friday, January 22, 2010

Contemplating Jazz....


Dr A has an exercise she puts her students through where she asks them to name as many living poets as they can.  You can imagine they have some difficulty with this -- you might too -- and they often neglect to name Dr A herself.  She takes this in good stride. 

Being a living poet is a lot like being a working actor.  Within your own scene, things are alive and everyone knows everyone else.  You find regular opportunities to practice your art in ways the rest of the world is not even aware of.  Unless they have friends who are living poets.

Live jazz at an Irish pub?  Absolutely.  And once a month, Beat Night.

At Portsmouth, NH's Press Room, musicians meet poets in an improvised celebration of words and music, where featured artists are booked months in advance and attended by a standing room only crowd awaiting their own moment during Open Mike.

Come, she said.  I am booking a room to stay the night.  And so I did, though I had very little expectation for this event.



4 poets and 7 musicians, beginning with Tim Mason, who entered the bar on the phone, to applause, and told his caller that he had to go on stage now. 

The poets spent a few seconds with the band leader to set a mood, identify a location, or a theme (desert storm...go.) Collaboration occurred before our very eyes, as the band leader listened to the poem, the band listened to him, and the poet listened to the band.

Little Bird... with your nose pressed against the pet shop window....

Portsmouth is to NH as Austin is to TX.  It may be that the more conservative the state, the more passionate its hippies.  I realize this was Beat poetry night, and it played that way, but the kings and queens of the room were true Boomers.  They sat up front, some with their youthful disciples, and hummed like another orchestra section when they heard what they liked.  A Theremin section, perhaps.  One sweet boy with Kerouac's dark eyes actually snapped his fingers in approval -- sincerely.

Drip.  Drip.  Drip.

I had a Cougar moment later with him, when he read his own work during Open Mike.  I don't remember what he said anymore. Momma had had a bottle of wine by then.  But I...liked it.

I sing the body electric...

Ok, Whitman was no Beat.  But only because he hadn't thought of it yet.  What that band could have done with Had I the Choice.  In fact, I challenge the group here and now to have a Whitman night, with band, and invite Open Mikers to draw a poem out of a bowl and read it cold.  I am full of ideas.  Someone else will have to make that happen.

Death...Rape...Lesbianism

Old Hollins joke -- how to get an A in Writing Seminar.  Cover the Big 3.  Really all you had to do to get an A in Writing Seminar was survive it.  I famously did not.  Best Hollins GDR reading moment - Baroness and I with church giggles during the closing line

And he put the cigarette out / in my palm

There were no giggles at the Press Room.  The featured poets were phenomenal and the band a constant surprise.  The Open Mikers were brave first-timers reading poems from notebooks and folded papers produced from pockets.  They gave the band a try and were applauded just for trying, and again when they had finished.

I have written 65 songs.  And they are all about Joe.

They say theatre does not exist because the world needs theatre, but because people need to make theatre.  This may not be true about poetry, but I think it is true about Beat Night.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

I do not make this up

One of the Readership comments often that he can not tell when I am just weaving a story and when things really happened.  This is my own fault.  I do embroider -- a recent email to the inner circle referred to Robots at the New Mill, when there are not really robots.  I believe that my embroidery is so spangly outrageous that it can not be real.  Only bedazzling.  For the record: unless it is filed under Fiction... I do not make it up. 

Embroider, disguise, omit.... yes.  The Mill -- not really a mill.    Dr. A -- really a Dr.  By his own admission, Bruce Wayne is not a super hero.  Just dreamy.  I am sorry if this makes it hard to follow.  My neighbors can help you with that.

Because this really happened.

I hesitate to write about the neighbors much -- thanks to the miracle of Facebook, and the Share This button at left, I can not longer tell who reads this material.  But then again, it did really happen.  Dog Walker, who lives in the Big Brother house, said this to me a few days ago:

He: [Housemate] told me what you did for work.  I thought you were some kind of FBI Agent.

"Some kind."  I'll tell you this: if I am going to be any kind of agent, it is Purdy.  In't it.

Me: {petting one of the dogs} I don't do anything right now, but I'll start a new job next week.  {straightening for direct eye contact - dogs and dog walkers both hate this} You thought I was a spy?

He:  {nuthin}

Me:  be careful out there.  {exit}

He is home all day, walks dogs every 20 minutes all around the neighborhood.  But I'm the spy.
nyuh-huh.
Notice how I didn't say I wasn't.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Billie

Yesterday we talked about Stephanie's impressive movie mind and collection of Golden Hollywood titles.  I felt like Belle in the library (though I do own nearly all of the Jodie collection on VHS, Stephanie actually keeps her VCR in service, which enabled us to watch Billie.)

She's doing some sort of frug, I think, or the Charlie Brown dance.

You may be familiar with this film; I had never heard of it.  Let me make that clear;  I had never heard of it -- I, who hours before, had named Broadway Melody as an Oscar winner.  I, who had for days enjoyed a spontaneous game we had invented where one turned into Mrs Blandings without notice -- preferably when dealing with waitstaff  "I'd like the green lettuce, but not a regular 'leafy' green, more like a foam green.  Have the chef drive to the Safeway on West Market and take the Specials sign down from above the avacadoes.  It's a darker green than that."  I, who can invoke Patty Duke for an unlimited number of reference points (sudden clarity?  spell W-A-T-E-R!  Need to deny something?  Blame your identical cousin.  Defending your boys?  Quote Neely O'Hara, "Ted Casablanca is NOT a fag... and I'm the dame who can prove it."  Fed up with it all?  Throw the turkey into the alley.)

What were we talking about?
so Billie... never heard of it.  God bless our friends who will remedy these cultural flaws.

1965.
Patty (call me Anna) is about 19, playing 15, in a Lance Kerwin hairdo and capri pants.  She's a star athlete all right, but she's all girlShe'll sing about it.  Twice.
Jim Backus and Jane Greer are her parents (they're tearing her apaaaart!).  The rest of the cast - only Dick Sargeant, Ted Bessell, Richard Deacon, Billy DeWolfe, Charles Lane, and WAIT A MINUTE Donna McKechnie as the lead dancer (and asst choreographer).  

Billie is recruited by a forward thinking coach who just wants to win, but her dad is running for Mayor on an "old-fashioned values" platform.  That is not the film's central conflict.  Dad gives into that pretty easily after Billie explains that the pursuit of happiness is her constitutional right.  This seems to sway him, even though that is from the Declaration, not the Bill of Rights.  The central conflict is Billie's weak boyfriend, who is bugged by the way Billie helps the other guys work out by teaching them to hear a groovy 60s beat in their heads and run to that.  what a gas.

Amazon recommends that people often buy Billie with The Trouble with Angels."  I think that tells you everything you need to know.

YouTube has disabled the embedded link.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Oscar Season - better stretch out

It started as a chat about movies... and lists.   The next thing we knew, we had invented a game that had only 3 props: a World Almanac and 2 very frightening brains soaked in 100 years of movie facts. 

Stephanie asked if I could name all the Best Picture winners.  I said I probably could, but wouldn't be able to lay them out in order.  The 1930's might be a blur, but I would just keep saying It Happened One Night until I was right.  That's when she got the almanac.

It only went up to the mid 90s, and we were going to finish, but we started watching Billie instead (more about that tomorrow). 

The rules were fairly simple, and established without discussion.  We moved year by year.  Stephanie would provide certain clues (such as what other major awards it won, or if it won no other major awards).  She also had a loopy Will Shortz-style hint system that might go like this: "The star of this film was also in a film with another actor who was once married to this actor's wife."  I am making that one up, but if you can name the actors and the Oscar winning movie, that would be brilliant.

Sometimes, Stephanie would acknowledge "We have discussed this movie this weekend," because we had been together for days and had talked movies nearly non-stop.  Directors might be named.  But plenty of times, she declared she could not give certain information because it would give it away.  I admire that sort of integrity.

I was permitted certain Yes/No questions ("In Color?"  "Musical?") to prune the options.    Once when she hinted that several actors from the film had been nominated, I asked  "Warner Bros?" and she said, "You can do it by studio?"  For a certain time period... yes, I can, especially Warners and MGM, so as an eliminator, it could help.  After that, she would sometimes feed me the studio.  That only works to about the mid-50s, then it starts to fall apart.

To keep this game from being charades (though a few times "1 word title" or "5 word title" came in handy,  in this case, Platoon and How Green Was my Valley) you have to know a lot of movies, and a lot about movies.  You have to know a lot of industry gossip.  And you have to know your Oscar ceremonies.  Then it is more like Taboo meets Celebrities.

Along the way, we would have to stop and discuss a specific winner once it was revealed; marvel at the revelations (Tony Richardson??!  really...); compare and contrast; eat more clementines.  It took us several hours.  The clues are the heart of the game; the answers are just the reward. We got into a rhythm that amazed even us.  When you are trying to reconnect a friendship after a 10 or 15 year separation, you don't need a lot of fancy props and evening shoes.  Just find the thing you love and celebrate it.

Next visit... we do actors and actresses.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Should I learn about pending legislation in an insurance ad?


Should you learn about it on a blog like this?  Good a place as any.

HR 1895 is also known as the STANDUP Act.  Our "Congreff" is fond of making acronyms out of their legislation.  Did you know that the PATRIOT Act actually stands for "Provide Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism"?  I have filed Support House Underwriting That Urges Protection.

STANDUP means "Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection."  The bill proposes graduated drivers licenses ("graduate" like the cylinder).  We were just speaking the other day about how well graduated drinking ages went over in their day.

It works like this:

  1. Learners at 16


  2. Licensed at 18


  3. Limited passengers until 21 (no more than 1 non-familial member)  The following constituents could not be reached for comment:

  • Teenage parents
  • Tank drivers

The goal of this act is to reduce accidents and fatalities caused by inexperienced drivers, and the info site lists other industrialized nations which delay licensing to 17 or 18.

Stats on teenage drivers and passengers are jarring, but may need sorting through.  For example, "...teenage drivers comprise slightly more than 1/3 of all fatalities in motor vehicle crashes in which they are involved..."  We have talked about 33% before.  A significant fraction when you are eating pizza, but not a majority.  This sentences also says that 2/3 of the teenage drivers who are involved in accidents live.

"...motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death of Americans between 15 and 20 years of age..."  40% says one source.  The next leading cause (age 15-19) is Homicide at only 13%.  So that's an attention getter.  You know what it is for younger teens (10-14)?  21%  Not clear who is driving there. Toddlers - 11%.  Now - motor vehicle deaths cause 41% of US deaths overall, but the rate does drop by half after age 20.  Snipeme.com cites over 700 service casualties in Iraq who were under 21 (cite's particular message is to lower the drinking age.)

So far 1895 has only been introduced to sub-committee, and has a long way to go (if you remember your song lyrics).  DrawingIn recommends this tracking site to stay up to date on this and other Bills that interest you. This is primarily a Democrats' Bill, with support from Republicans Gerlach and Castle (PA and DE).

To start your own teen shuttle, contact these people.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

I found a koala in my animal crackers

I bit its head off, of course, but not before thinking too much about animal crackers.


I have to thank The Food Librarian for asking the same question I did (and for taking the photo) -- there's a koala in the circus?  Wouldn't he sleep through the whole thing?

I bought a box of Barnum's for a recent plane ride.  It is not my usual plane snack, but I bore easily, they were a dollar, and I liked the idea of refusing the $6 almonds and popping open my little circus train in the middle seat of a full flight.  Perhaps I would even assemble the little boxcar.

And these are the things I needed to come home and find out, pretty much in the order they came to me:

Who assembles the shoestring in the top of the box?  And why?
Americans, by Gord.  I have to say I am surprised to know this.  The team in Fair Lawn are still assembling both cookies and box, though Fig Newtons have moved to Mexico.  "Fifteen thousand cartons and 300,000 crackers are produced in a single shift, using some thirty miles of string on the packages."  and "...the now-familiar box was designed for the Christmas season with the innovative idea of attaching a string to hang from the Christmas tree. " (collectibles.about.com)

When did they stop making the box a convertible toy?  I am not making that up, am I?
Wikipedia confirms that the wheels were perforated, so you could punch them out, string your cars together, and make a train. You cut the clowns out of the boxtop to pose around the ring.  I guess, in case you didn't have a Christmas tree.



Why do we bite the heads off aninmal crackers?  spite.

Why do we call them crackers?  Might come from the Christmas association (Christmas crackers) but they were not served in a Cracker.  Might be the Shirley Temple song, but no one would put Barnum's in a soup.

Why Barnum?  A sucker might be born every minute, but I find no evidence that Barnum or Ringling get any cash from Nabisco, which has used the name since 1902.

Why haven't they tried to overwhelm us with chocolate, graham, pretzel, cheddar jack ranch flavors (I am talking to you, Cheez-It).
Nabisco is not Keebler.  Their idea of exotic is Chick in a Biskit, Double-Stuff, Virginia Slims

What is that flavor?  It's lemon.  A very quiet lemon.

Are they any good for you?  They won't hurt.

Why does US Air think it can charge $3 for Lays potato chips?
Because we still believe it is low-class to take food on a plane.

Where are the discontinued animals?  Who did koala bump?
Collectibles says that the dog and the jaguar have been retired.  Koala entered in 2002.  Cobra was rejected. (make your own here)  There is a marine collection (seahorses, whales, etc -- not a Marine collection)

Why did it take Betty so long to be a vitamin?
She was a Christian Scientist.  Stay on topic.

 bonus website I found while writing this

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Let's talk about things we know nothing about

.... or maybe you do.  In which case, get in here.  I have become mired in the legal question of whether the NFL is (1) or (greater than 1) business entity.  As a logic puzzle/legal argument, that is.  I don't really have any skin in that game (hawnk hawnk). 

As a baseball fan, of course, I am familiar with the issue:  if an "industry" is defined by a closed alliance of limited "companies," and those companies meet to set the rules, is that industry acting under a conspiracy?

Let's Play.... follow that chain!
Contestants will identify where I know nothing about law, capitalism, football, or blogging, and attack my arguments.  I will have moved onto something else by then, so enjoy yourselves.

 Question #1:  What is "trust" and...so what?
All the better to confuse 6th grade Civics Students - "sanctions" can be good or bad... and so can "trust."    Title 15 U.S.C (The Sherman Act)
"Every contract, combination in the form of trust or otherwise, or conspiracy, in restraint of trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, is declared to be illegal."
"Every person who shall monopolize, or attempt to monopolize, or combine or conspire with any other person or persons, to monopolize any part of the trade or commerce among the several States, or with foreign nations, shall be deemed guilty of a felony [. . . ]"
 
We don't like monopolies - unless they belong to the phone company, cable, gas stations across the street from each other, Kablooms that muscle out local florists, PeeWee football, the public schools, computer operating systems, or NASA.  For example.
 
Question #2:  What's an example of anti-trust?
In 1894 the American Railway Union struck against the Pullman Palace Car company over reduced wages and carried out their strike by refusing to service trains with Pullman's cars.  Think of mechanics refusing to service Escorts because they (mechanics) are in a beef with the Ford company.  Pullman reacted by hitching his cars to the US Mail train, which slowed them down and made this, literally, a federal case.
 
Question #3: I can't tell who violated the Sherman Act in this scenario
Tricky, ain't it?  The court said the railway workers did -- for restraining trade -- not the Pullman company for monopolyzing the mail trains.
In 1981, the Air Traffic controllers' union staged a strike for better pay and working conditions.  The President fired them for life -- for interfering with interstate trade. 
 
Question #4: What about Microsoft?
Everyone's just afraid of them.  So U.S. settled.

Question #5: I thought we were going to talk about sports.
 let's recap:
it is OK to... standardize bidding, charge the same price (gas stations), control federal commerce
not OK -- bid rigging, price fixing (breakfast cereal), challenge the people who control federal commerce
You know who was against the Sherman Act?  Allan Greenspan.  well of course he was.

Spppooorrtts....pleeeeze
Ugh.  Who started this
In 1922 the US Supreme Court determined that "baseball," (which was not then known as Major League Baseball) was not subject to the Sherman Act because it did not qualify as "interstate commerce." 
In 1953, the Supreme Court further said that the Sherman act did not apply to baseball, because it just simply didn't. 
ESPN can break this down better from here.

(Dissenting view, Justice Burton, "In the light of organized baseball's well-known and widely distributed capital investments used in conducting competitions between teams constantly traveling between states, its receipts and expenditures of large sums transmitted between states, its numerous purchases of materials in interstate commerce, the attendance at its local exhibitions of large audiences often traveling across state lines, its radio and television activities which expand its audiences beyond state lines, its sponsorship of interstate advertising, and its highly organized "farm system" of minor league baseball clubs, coupled with restrictive contracts and understandings between individuals and among clubs or leagues playing for profit throughout the United States, and even in Canada, Mexico and Cuba, it is a contradiction in terms to say that the defendants in the cases before us are not now engaged in interstate trade or commerce as those terms are used in the Constitution of the United States and in the Sherman Act."   good point, that.)


Question Bazillion: So what's the football issue, then?
In 1957, on the heels of patting baseball's cute little behind, the Supreme Court ruled that the NFL did not enjoy the same exemptions as baseball because --- wait for this.  it's a good one -- they are different sports.





"Federal Baseball held the business of baseball outside the scope of the Act. No other business claiming the coverage of those cases has such an adjudication. "

Now, in 2009, the American Needle Company claims that the NFL blocked fair competition by giving Reebok an exclusive contract on team caps for all NFL teams.  NFL teams don't wear caps, you say?  No, fans do.  The fact that they are baseball caps is not a factor in the case, but it does make you miss George Carlin.

What is a factor in the case is whether "the NFL" is an entity or a collection of 32 teams.  Sports Illustrated calls this "the most important case in sports history," and I may have to spend some time coming up with that list before I can agree.  Columnist Michael McCann writes, "Whichever path the Supreme Court chooses, it would likely impact other leagues, including the NBA and NHL, both of which have filed amicus briefs in support of the NFL's position." 

Presuming that the current court carefully words their ruling to refer to the definition of "entity," and not "football," "baseball," or "cap," ... this very well could be true.



Monday, January 11, 2010

Funny what you miss


I heard my suits whimpering the other night.  It's my own fault; I sleep with the closet doors open.  I think you can imagine why

They are lonesome.  And as of this month, products of "an earlier decade."  But they don't get to go out anymore.  Since joining the Unemployed in October, my wardrobe is made of 2 pairs of jeans, 2 fleeces, and 1 of 2 pair of wool socks.  Sometimes I put pajamas on at the end of the day.  Sometimes.... meh.

Of the things I miss about working life, I miss my clothes the most.  I feel like Wonder Woman in a business suit -- well, to be precise, I feel like Diana Prince, because I would not feel powerful in Wonder Woman's business wear.

Imagine how awesome I'll feel when my clothes actually fit, which they never do.  Experts agree that one's clothes should be tailored to them, and there is a new seamstress in town who may be able to take on this project with me.  We are working slowly, because besides living on severance, I am also losing weight and redistributing shape.  So one project at a time.

I gave her a 3-piece that has never fit (oh, because I bought it one Black Friday in a wrong size because it was 2-for-1.  I bought 2.  blink...blink) to see how she did, and she did not disappoint.  Tomorrow perhaps I'll take the other, then we can start to work the pants.


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Happy Anniversary, you real life freakshow...


Much is made on this website about the gritty edge of a 70s upbringing -- informed, in many ways, by the children's fare of earlier generations which was mixed in.  Helmets may be required for our children to watch most Disney films.  DrawingIn presents the Pinnochio Anniversary edition.  Cry before you buy...

Talking puppets?  Who's responsible for THAT?
A political satirist who took the name "Carlo Collodi," in 1880 to publish his whimsical tales of an impish marionette who lived a Pilgrim's Progress kind of life stumbling into situations for which he was ill-prepared.  Being wooden, and all...

I can find only 1 film version prior to Disney's, which was a 1911 live-action film from Italy.  I will not use this space reviewing the many interpretations of the Wooden Boy over time, because it would require me to watch them, and I have to consider my well-being.  Let's concentrate on the 1940 version, which is memorable enough.



Disney's vision

That's the original trailer from 1940 -- a little slow, a little quiet.  Cute big-eyed characters like creatures off a cereal box.  A hint of scary, but nothing like the rape of Poland, so enjoy this little cartoon with the kids.

Jiminy Crickett is not new, just a little more likable than the original.  Pedantic Talking Cricket spouted things like "Trouble awaits boys who rebel against their parents and capriciously abandon their paternal home! They will never experience goodness in this world, and sooner or later, they will have to pay for it sourly."  Maybe it's the translation.  But I might have thrown a mallet at him myself.

Blue Fairy cribs heavily from Glenda the Good, but she too is an original Collodi character.  She's kind of an emotional blackmailer, but she does grant him his boyhood in the end, after chapters of  "Lies, my boy, are easily recognised because there are two kinds: There are lies with short legs and lies with long noses: Yours, to the point, are the kind with the long nose." Chapter XVII


Monstro the whale is new, and adds some third act action where the original story is more of an anti-climax.

What they said in 1940...
That it was better than Snow White.  And you, know, it is.  We fell hard for that theme song, but ooops... a war came along, and Pinocchio went into the red for years when overseas business was lost.  In spite of low box office, though, Pinocchio scored at the Oscars, and has held up over time.  Box Office figures estimate it at over $80M to date.

The Pinocchio you remember

Poor Gepetto, single and childless, makes himself a puppet to substitute for a son.  Chorine Fairy brings it to life and they send it into the world because all boys should go to school.  Singing and dancing ensues.  Honest John and Gideon illustrate why you shouldn't let children walk to school alone and Pinocchio is on the tour circuit.  At Pleasure Island, he succumbs to every vice and turns into a jackass.  (Incidentally, beer and cigars are still available on P.I.)

Pinocchio gets back home, finds Gepetto has gone looking for him.  He's actually been swallowed by a whale, which Pinocchio is as well and they smoke their way out by way of a Monstro sneeze.  Pinocchio drowns in the escape (don't quibble) but Blue Fairy answers Gepetto's prayer to save him and he revives as the real life (and somehow creepier looking) boy he always wanted to be.



70th anniversary additions and subtractions
Ok - here's what you want to know, if you are in fact still reading.  Should you buy another version of 1940's Pinocchio if you already have one?  I'll say that if you only have the VHS and want to own, go ahead.  If you want the features the 70th Platinum version includes, you may prefer to rent.  The film itself is unaltered, except (according to IMDB) for the ommision of a Jiminy Cricket line, which may be an error in transfer.  All the terror, debauchery, and creepiness you enjoy from the original is intact.

Current reviews
Of Commonsensemedia.com reviewers ...
100% of parents say there's too much drinking, drugs, or smoking
67% of parents say it's too violent
67% of parents say it has language their kids can't use
33% of parents don't feel there are good role models
33% of parents say they notice product placement
  (it's for a tavern called Red Lobster.  They are either kidding or confused).

Saturday, January 9, 2010

It's all pigs on sticks down at the dump

There was a line to get into the town dump this morning, in a harmonic convergence* of factors that culminated in the complete shutting of 2 boxcar bins.  And though I left shortly afterward, I will embellish the story by saying that there was a bonfire, a human sacrifice, and the founding of Rosieland.



* I have decided to stop saying "perfect storm" and return to the more new-agey "harmonic convergence."

Exhibit A: the dump is open 5 hours a week.  One day, one opportunity.  Miss it at your own peril.

Exhibit B:  It's the haaawlidays which means
B1 - lots of trash
B2 - lots of weekends out of town

Exhibit C: It has snowed.  What this has to do with the convergence is that the entry way is not so very plowed, and there are additional people trying to get to the town sand pile, parked in front of said sand pile, stuck in said sandpile...

Exhibit D:  The man who works the dump broke his hip
He is the official dump worker.  There is another man there who I think is unofficial.  He fishes for deposit bottles in the glass bin with a sophisticated pole system, but most people just separate their deposits into a separate bag and hand them over.  The official man was recently voted a raise at Town Mee'in after it was revealed he worked for minimum wage and the town collectively gasped.

Other townsmen were there trying to keep order, but it was not clear whether they were elected, appointed, or just noble.  One said, "Do you suppose *** is turning over in his bed," (at the chaotic scene), and another replied, "I don't think he CAN."  Much tsking and shaking of heads.


The newspaper bin had already been closed and locked when I arrived.  These bins are indeed boxcar sized dumpsters, whose contents must be kept neatly stacked and baled in order to fit the town's refuse.  Clearly this had gone wrong.  Without constant maintenance, the newspaper pile becomes an avalanche.


The cardboard bin was bursting, and each citizen was trying to wedge their collapsed cereal boxes into whatever slot they could find, when we usually courteously collect them into another cardboard box.  It's like serving the ice cream in an edible bowl.  Within minutes, this too had closed.

The magazine bin began to accept newspaper (that is, there was nothing to stop it) and now magazines and newspaper were living together in sin, and the recycling company would probably reject the entire box.  There were no books in sight, but this was not a day to hunt so close to unrestrained newspaper.

Cars were lined up on both sides of the transfer lane, preventing the tight turnaround one usually does, so now we are backing up in a sort of reverse paraell parking over sand and snow and a thousand water bottle caps.

I have tried to make this sound exciting, because honestly that is all we've got going on here.  I even forgot to go to the gym today.  maybe tomorrow.  speaking of chaos.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Loft Turtles


There was a radio story about a particular athlete, or entertainer, or member of Parliament -- I wasn't listening very closely -- who had an opportunity but decided to pass it by.  "The timing wasn't right," said the reporter, "and he had loft turtles..."  He said this in the kind of dismissive "what ya gonna do" tone that tells you this is a common occurrence, and apparently a common phrase any listener to NPR or the BBC should be familiar with. I took it to be a kind of "butterflies in the stomach," a "bats in the belfrey" -- phrases we know and don't use in normal conversation.
Of course it wasn't what he said.  He said "loftier goals."  The subject of his piece had let an ordinary opportunity go by because he had loftier goals.

In spite of what this blog may lead you to believe, I am not losing my hearing.  I am over-analyzing.  It got me to thinking what a Loft Turtle might be, and how I could use it correctly.  Turtles, of course, do not live in lofts.  They live as close to the ground as they can get, under it, or in the water.  The last thing a turtle would want to do is fall, especially from something lofty. 

Yertle was a lofty turtle: "This throne that I sit on is too, too low down..." and he goes through several pages of tetrameter to get loftier.  Interestingly, though, Yertle was not the type of turtle I pictured when working out my metaphor.  One isn't being a Loft Turtle - one has or gets Loft Turtles -- and I think they are more timid creatures than Yertle.  They are even more timid than Mack, the underrated hero of that story who shrugs, Atlas-style, and brings the whole thing down.  If Mack had Loft Turtles, he might not have attempted it.

Loft Turtles are timid because they know they are out of their element.  They have landed somewhere they don't belong, and even though they might live a long happy life in a very large loft with a bed of hay, giant spider webs, and a leaky roof that puddles nicely in a depression in the wood, and from 6-9am the sun is perfect for sunning on a rusted bucket, Loft Turtle will stay tucked in his shell and just die there, longing to get back to where he belongs.

These are the Loft Turtles we have, and that is how they get us.  We pass up the opportunities to eat spiders and sun on a bucket because it seems against our nature, even though it is exactly what we are driven to do in any other place and time.

It is easy to mix up your Loft Turtles with your Loftier Goals.  Try to convince them they are not going to fall, and see if you can coax them out of their shells.