I think I’ve mentioned the excellent interstate pastime of seeing the names of imaginary celebrities on exit signs, like silent film stars Victoria Luxora and Darien Whitewater. Now there’s Amherst Oberlin, “The Blacksmith Poet,” once much-anthologized but today nearly forgotten. In the little New England town where he lived and died, he was less known for his verse than for his bespoke orthopedic horseshoes.
Here’s the first stanza of his best known work, “To a Daffodil:”
O how shall I sing of the daffodil
That blooms in yonder yard?
Its petals pale, its leaves a-dew,
It makes my pecker hard.
Monday, August 7, 2017
This is not a news site, but sometimes a breaking story pushes our regularly scheduled blather to the back burner. This is one of those times, because of the big oil spill in Hong Kong. It’s a palm oil spill, from a ship collision off the coast of mainland China. A disgusting amount of this essential Oreos component has fouled ten busy beaches. Two thoughts. First, isn’t that, like, built-in suntan lotion? Secondly, I believe this is the first time this year I’ve seen the phrase “rancid smelling sticky white clumps” used to describe anything outside of the West Wing.
Monday, July 31, 2017
Elon Musk (whose name sounds like a truly wretched aftershave) says he has “verbal government approval” to build a superfast Hyperloop transportation system to whisk passengers between New York and Washington D.C. in less than 30 minutes. A Hyperloop is an underground tube within which passenger cabins are literally sucked from place to place. It’s reassuring news for all the folks who fear that aloof coastal elites are oblivious to the troubles of small-town America. If Mr. Musk (a forgotten Beatrix Potter character) can pull this off, the heartland will be flyover country no more. It will be tunnel-under country.
Monday, July 24, 2017
Doris Day got a special surprise this past April when on her 93rd birthday somebody dug up her birth certificate and told her it was her 95th. So she had to skip 94 entirely, which must have felt weird. If you have to skip a year in your life, probably 14 would be my first choice. I’m sure Ms. Day would not be offended if I mention that 95 is real old. Also very old: Olivia de Havilland, who is 101. And Issur Danielovitch (Kirk Douglas) is 100 years old. I assume that he no longer does his own stunts.
Monday, July 17, 2017
Wall Street is named after a long-gone wall. There’s a road called Watertown Plank Road, which started out as a plank road (well, duh) between Milwaukee and Watertown, Wisconsin. My buddy JP saw the old planks when they tore it up for resurfacing when he was a boy. Near to my house we have Lapalco Boulevard, which started out as the access road to the Louisiana Power and Light Company. I said all that to say this: Until I saw an exit sign on I-55, I had not known there was a place on the outskirts of Memphis called Whitehaven.
Monday, July 10, 2017
First this update. A global consortium of news organizations is meeting in Brussels to decide once and for all how they’re going to pronounce “Qatar.” Now, about hospitals. They like to build them with big windows looking out over some pleasant vista. For the lucky customer lying on the bed while enjoying a life-threatening ailment, this is sort of useless since what they’re looking at is ceiling tiles. The window is for visitors, to give them something to say. “They feeding you alright?” “Say, you got a great view from up here.” Anything’s better than “Jeez, are you gonna die?”
Monday, July 3, 2017
You know those machines where they put a silvery helmet on your head and another one on a chicken and ZAP your mind goes into the chicken while your body starts pecking around for grubs? I want one of those. I would hook it up to a long-distance phone line and use it to visit relatives in distant cities. Back at the house, I would simply spread newspaper on the floor and sprinkle a bunch of cracked corn everywhere. Sure, the family would have to get used to talking to a chicken. But it would save a lot of driving.