Monday, December 26, 2016

N. C. Wyeth

Mistrust self-expression. Is simply possessing a self somehow particularly worthy of attention? That’s great for two year olds – it’s a phase we all go through. But Shakespeare wrote what he wrote to fill the stalls at the theater he co-owned. Bach banged out piece after perfect piece because it was his day job. John and Paul sat down to write hit songs, on purpose, to get the hell out of Liverpool. And Lennon’s stuff got flabby and eye-rollingly precious only after he’d made his pile and set out to create Art. I’m gaining new respect for avarice; it’s so uncluttered.

Monday, December 19, 2016

It’s a metaphor, people.

If you’ve ever listened to Woody Guthrie songs or looked at Dorothea Lange pictures, then you’ve heard about the Dust Bowl. What happened was, there was a period of unusually high rainfall over a great big area, and farmers moved in and plowed up the ground and planted wheat and cotton. Then the weather swung back to really dry and the wind came and literally blew those farms away. See, everybody had gotten so used to a mild and fertile climate that they thought of it as the norm. It wasn’t; they’d just been lucky for a generation or two.

Monday, December 12, 2016

This is sad news

Dave Barry said, "If someone is nice to you but rude to the waiter, they are not a nice person." The thing is, you should probably try to avoid being rude to anybody. Because if you think that being the low man gives you permission to be a jerk to somebody, then you’re turning your position into a strength, and so you’re punching down at somebody who can’t hit back without looking like a bully. Like when a four year old socks you in the crotch. It’s disappointing, but it turns out you have to treat everybody right, every day.

Monday, December 5, 2016

As in scope or copter

The word “kebab” comes from an Arabic root meaning to burn or roast. In Turkish, “shish” means skewer. Alrighty. But wait. In Turkey, in the mid-19th century, somebody started rotating a cone of meat on a vertical spit. “Doner kebab” means “turning roast” because the Turkish word for turning is “dönmek.” The Greeks liked this food, but they hated the Turks, so they substituted their own word for turning, “gyro.” Think I’m done? I’m not done. Turkish has another word for turning, “çevirme.” So in Arabic the same food is “shawarma.” And here’s my favorite: In Persian, it’s “kebab torki.”