When I read a crossword clue that said “Napa excursion” for eight letters, I immediately thought “parts run.” The correct answer was “wine tour.” I should have known; this was in the New York Times, which is not generally considered the news source of record for America’s grease monkeys and shade-tree mechanics, especially since the demise of the Saab, which company I believe made it a policy to exclusively employ philosophy PhDs or published poets in their service departments. Plus, their three-cylinder engine would actually run backwards if you hooked up the wires wrong. And adjusting the valves was challenging.
Monday, May 9, 2022
Here’s a science headline I just read: “Prehistoric people created art by firelight, new research reveals.” On reflection (teehee) I do not find this particularly illuminating (harhar). Our prehistoric Paleolithic ancestors created their cave art in caves, places which are notoriously dark. And although your average Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon had a lot of the same stuff as us (opposable thumbs, big brain case), they didn’t have light bulbs. In fact, when people needed light, something (wood, tallow, oil, paraffin, gas) had to be on fire right up until around the time my great-grandparents were born. (Unless they used their cellphones.)
Monday, May 2, 2022
You know how sometimes you and some running buddies would get into maybe a little too much Everclear and non-prescription pharmaceuticals and get it into your heads that it would be a lot of fun to go joy riding in a vehicle that didn’t belong to you? And if you were ever young you’ll recall the exhilaration of evading the pursuing law enforcement officers before bailing out and heading home to sleep it off. It doesn’t always work out that way. Sometimes, the authorities seem to anticipate your every move, always one step ahead. It’s hard to steal a streetcar.
Monday, April 25, 2022
Does everything have to be about something? Can’t a work of art stand as a thing unto itself, without reference to any external touchpoint? Shouldn’t it be possible to create a brave new oeuvre of pure prose, unsullied by topic or intention, free from the limitations imposed by any perceived imperative to communicate an idea or transmit information? Must all human endeavor be shoehorned into the narrow confines of pure utilitarian functionality like a great big monkey foot jammed into a narrow and inflexible cordovan wingtip? I hope not. Because I’ve not got the vaguest idea what to write today.
Monday, April 18, 2022
I found out on NPR, which has never lied to me, that the common word beginning with “G” that we have customarily used when referring to Romani people is a hurtful racial slur. Bad news for Django Reinhardt emulators the world over who may need to change the name of an entire musical sub-genre. Ditto for a cool Curtis Mayfield song and a certain industrial vacuum cleaner. And possibly my opera “Meredith, or How The Elephant Lost Her Stripes” will, on the basis of a single scene, be subject to widespread protests and calls for its withdrawal. Assuming anyone notices.
Monday, April 11, 2022
Okay. Bear with me. Ithaca, New York, is named after the Greek island where Odysseus, alongside his son Telemachus, killed a whole houseful of suitors who were sniffing around his wife Penelope while he was away. Ithaca, New York, is not home to the world’s largest watering can. That’s in Utica. Ithaca, Michigan, is named after Ithaca, New York, and it’s where you’ll find Pencil Craft LLC, providers of high-quality giant pencils. Pencil Craft owner Vic Flegel offers several sizes, all of them featuring real wood, real graphite, real pink rubber erasers, and genuine copper ferrules. They are surprisingly affordable.
Monday, April 4, 2022
It turns out that you contain more than 50 glands. And some of them have extremely funny names. Like Meibomian gland, Ebner's glands, and the unforgettable Glands of Zeis. Research has revealed that each gland produces its own specialized goop that does something vitally important, at least for the tissues and organs in its immediate vicinity. As an example, if you didn’t have saliva glands you’d have nothing to spit. As it is, they are so active that the average human swallows between 1 and 1.5 liters of saliva every day. Fortunately, not all at once, from a big mug.