Monday, January 21, 2019

Don't get all pithy

What makes most famous quotes memorable is judicious editing. Like when Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living,” what most people don’t know is that Plato piped up right away with, “Dude, you got that half right.” Or when MacArthur left Corregidor what he actually said was, “I shall return… when it’s safe.” Finally, it has often been reported that Charlie Chaplin once said, “All I need to make a comedy is a park, a policeman, and a pretty girl.” Most sources leave out the next part, where he said, “And a camera. Somebody should bring a camera.”

Monday, January 14, 2019

Mussel up. Clam down.

Life can be worrisome but I hate to think of you sitting there fretting. Try to relax; I’ll talk you down. Here are some things that might or might not happen that would not require you to feel the vaguest inkling of concern or even interest:  To reinvigorate the downtown business district, they could hold a bus-stop sign redesign competition. IHOP could introduce a new syrup. Lapels could get wide again. They might have a library fine amnesty. Or that one guitar player from Rush might announce that he’s starting a new band with those three other guys from Aerosmith.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Hereby resolved

I’m thinking of words that lack opposites. Like reckless, for example. Turns out the word reck comes from the same root as reckon, so reckless means without consideration, without thinking. Feckless? Feck is short for effect, so fecklessness achieves nothing. Feck is also a second word that is spelled and pronounced exactly the same, defeating the whole purpose of language. It’s a minced oath along with dang, heck, shoot, and corksoaker, a bottling worker responsible for the thorough wetting of stoppers. Anyway, this year I intend to be more reckful, feckful, sheveled, and gruntled. And especially gormful. Always extra gormful.

Monday, December 31, 2018

Prophet motive

Several of us were talking, trying to imagine what might await humanity in years to come. Many of my peers were envisioning a bleak future. Wishing to introduce a note of optimism, I said, “I can foresee a time when we need no longer carry a compass, sextant and chronometer. Instead, a single tiny apparatus will replace these cumbersome implements. Who knows? It may also provide the benefits of a pocket abacus as well as the ability to transmit and receive messages without repairing to the Western Union office.” There followed a profound silence. I could tell they were impressed.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Hinky Dinky Parlay Voo

I’m sure some of the French showing up at our borders are very fine people but I am becoming alarmed about the bad elements coming over here to foment unrest and chaos. I’d been aware of the disruptive “yellow vest” demonstrations in and around Paris, but that’s a long way away and I was shocked when a truckload of these protesters showed up in my neighborhood and began literally to tear up the street. I rushed out onto my porch. “Hé toi,” I shouted, “Allez-vous en!”  They just looked at me all snooty. I’ll have to work on my accent.

Monday, December 17, 2018

One upside: Very few lions.

It’s a bit of a blow to the ego to learn that humans make up only about 0.01 percent of the planet’s biomass by dry weight. Compared to other mammals, we totally score though. We’re more than a third of total mammal mass while all wild mammals together are about four percent. The rest, about 60 percent, is mostly our cows and pigs. Remember, this is mass, not a headcount, and cows are big and squirrels are small. But still. There’s barely enough giraffes left to populate Dubuque, Iowa, which is a pleasant thought although the ceilings are pretty low.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Not dead. Just tardy.

When you’re restricted by a sacred code of personal honor to 100 words you want to be extra careful about which ones you use. Here’s a for-instance: Sometimes the words yet and still mean the same thing. Like, “He remains there yet.”  “He remains there still.”  Then, they can kind of be opposites. “Is he here yet?” means he has not arrived. “Is he here still?” means he has not departed. Furthermore, “He is sitting still” can mean he remains as yet or that he is motionless. I ponder these imponderables. So, sometimes the late Dave Maleckar misses a rant.