Monday, October 31, 2016

Leave me where I am, I'm only sleeping

This flaming orange narcissist sociopath may actually assume the highest office in the land. The Cleveland Indians are leading the World Series. And so I’m feeling a sense of unreality, like time and space themselves are coming unstrung. Last night I had this dream where I was walking on a bridge over a huge river. I was walking a dog that kept talking to me, giving me advice. I was carrying a duffle bag full of plumber’s tools, which I had just stolen. Of course, I was naked. And it all seemed normal compared to what I woke up to.

Monday, October 24, 2016

a man called Doc

So this guy Polonius gives with a famous list of wise hints for living and is rewarded by being stabbed through the arras, which sounds excruciating. Nelson Algren follows up with his own advice, which is funnier and probably more useful. I figure I must have picked up some wisdom by now, and I’m ready to pass it along. So. Um. Tin your leads. Try the sweet potato fries. Never go anywhere in shoes you can’t walk home in. That’s it, I guess. Okay then. Oh, this final score just in: the Monomaniacs have beaten the Minimalists, one to nothing.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Thomas Wolfe, actually.

I went to five different elementary schools. That was over 50 years ago. I visited them on the internet and it turns out four of them have been torn down. One site has new houses on it, one is a big empty lot, two have newer school buildings on them. But one of them is still there. Doan School was built in 1904 at 105th and Superior in my home town, Cleveland, Ohio. It was closed in 1980 and sat abandoned. But now it’s been repurposed into assisted living for seniors. How convenient. Who says you can’t go home again?

Monday, October 10, 2016

Lives of the Philosophers, Pt. 5

Roland Barthes had a seven-letter last name, but only the first four are pronounced. French has a lot of silent letters to make speaking harder. I suspect the French want you to 1) try to speak French and 2) do it badly so that they can correct you. Nobody likes being corrected, especially about the medium of expression rather than the idea being conveyed. So can’t we all just accept that “library” and “February” are spelled wrong? Anyway, Barthes’ three silent letters are a special mark of prestige and distinction for a respected thinker whose work I find absolutely opaque.

Monday, October 3, 2016

You can't put a value on literary excellence.

Suppose over a period of time you had written 49,999 words about such essential topics as outsized pencils and enormous watering cans. For free. You might wish you’d gotten maybe a dime a word. You could have bought an eight-year-old Camry or nearly seven thousand Little Debbie Nutty Bars. Or even a dollar a word – gosh, that’s a nice foreclosed ranch home in Blytheville, Arkansas. Long ago, a buck a word was premium pay for really popular writers, like Rudyard Kipling. He got a letter that enclosed a dollar and asked for a word in exchange. Kipling wrote back, “Thanks.”