Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A Moron in a Hurry

Over the years, the American humorist Dave Barry has amused himself and me with a list of words and phrases that he proposes would serve well as names for rock bands. Names such as Bones of Contention, the Phlegmtones, or Thrusting Balloon Puppies prove to me once again that you can take the boy out of the eighth grade, but you never quite take the eighth grade out of the man, not completely anyway.

NPR reports today on the World Intellectual Property Organization's decision in a complaint by Glenn Beck over a domain name. The wit of the WIPO decision easily pays for the minute spent reading the report. A moron in a hurry, indeed.

Thus are blogs titled and born. I'm not sure what I'll do with the blog, but the name seems perfect for the odds and ends that I've been linking here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

A Boy and a Book



This is my youngest on a hot August afternoon in 2000, taking a break from the heat to course through the fourth Harry Potter. He is me, only finer.

Today he moves into a dormitory at the University of Kansas to begin his freshman year of college.

So fast! Too soon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Life West of Philadelphia


You know you're in podunk when the opening of a new supermarket brings out cheerleaders and the pep band from the local Big 12 university.
This sight on my morning ride brought back a memory from childhood in Hicksville, New York, sometime in the early 1950's. I don't remember how old I was--single digits seems likely. My father swept me up one day after lunch (after supper?), loaded me into the gray '49 Plymouth, and drove to the opening of a new supermarket, an A&P, I think. This isn't your normal activity with a child, is it. I mean, what little kid cares about a grocery store, unless there's a real chance that Dad will buy you that new box of cereal containing a plastic submarine that--with the addition of a little baking soda--will sail the bathtub ocean blue under its own flatulent power. The attraction this night was a little different: the celebrity opening this new market was none other than that intrepid space traveler (and TV pioneer), Captain Video, Captain Kirk's predecessor and probably the first television actor that I was familiar with aside from Buffalo Bob and Howdy Doody.
I am going to change directions here slightly to go on to make the point that podunk also existed on Long Island--a pep band here, a minor celebrity there; however, this is also a memory of over fifty years ago, and Hicksville was a commuter podunk at the time, connected in my mind to New York City only by the Long Island Railroad.
I wanted to wrap that last thought quickly and loosely because in the meantime, I've seen a movie that I want to say a few words about--and just a few. (Pretty sneaky way to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition, no?)
Besides, in future, I should probably be reminded to avoid what shall hereinafter be known as a pointless OFA, old fart anecdote. I'll post warnings if I sense I might be headed toward one.
*****
My schedule lately has been very open, and I have spent my free time wallowing in cinema. Here's the list since the last bloggish update:
"August Evening" (very engaging)
"BenX" (difficult and worth every second)
"Syriana" (a repeat for me, ever susceptible as I am to a conspiracy plotline)
"Mickey Blue Eyes" (short meh)
"Friday Night Lights" (a repeat for me and a favorite)
"Forty Shades of Blue" (drawn out meh with shrug)
"Choking Man" (well done)
"Slumdog Millionaire" (wow!)
"Music Within" (I'd like to like it, but in a week I won't remember it.)
And finally, this evening at the public library there was a showing of "Food, Inc." sponsored by a local organization comprised of people with high-minded principles, advanced degrees, and Birkenstocks with socks--my pipples. If the books "Fast Food Nation" or "The Omnivore's Dilemma" caught your attention, you might enjoy this. I thought it was very well done--deserving, perhaps, of some fact checking, but when the folks in the corporate headquarters of various multinationals all decline opportunities to be interviewed, refuse to represent their positions outside a courtroom, well...
There is a companion book to "Food, Inc.", and I'm going to add that to my someday-maybe reading list.
So here we started the day with a supermarket opening and ended the day wary of our food supply. Meh.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quick Ramble

In the past few weeks--since I've found myself interested again in blogs and blogging--I've spent many hours surfing blogs, and I've found myself drawn most to three sorts of blogs: blogs that address political issues or events with a liberal sensibility sympathetic to my own and that do so without stridency or rancor (although not without a necessary dash of irony); blogs by North American ex-pats in Europe (though whether this shall persist I do not know: two writers I've followed for a few weeks are now returning or will soon return to the U.S. or Canada); and finally, blogs by bicyclists of several sorts--folks involved in advocacy, bike culture, classic bikes, and touring, but not necessarily racing.
And after the torturous puncutation in that first rambling sentence, I think I've said all I will about those subjects in this short entry while I recover from punctuation fatigue.
The mean streets of Manhattan, Kansas, become exceptionally treacherous at this time of year, as peasants--who recently wielded pitchforks and hoes--fill unprotected vehicles with bushels of surplus zucchini, so lock your car. Constant vigilance is the price of freedom from zucchini. Shown below is my morning harvest, sans zucchini.
The morning harvest

*****
Reading: Catching up on back issues of the New Yorker. I know it's impossible, but a boy can dream. And I'm still reading the Cathcart memoir.

Watching: "Priceless" ("Hors de Prix") and "The Reader"

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

About Me

In the beginning, before there were web logs or weblogs or blogs, there were online journals, and mine was one of them. Most of those journals--many of which still exist--included an early entry that provided some information about the writer of the journal, an "about me" page. Looking back on my last such page, I am startled to see that I wrote it more than ten years ago.

The "about me" page still seems as good a way as any other that I can think of to start this adventure, so here goes--a few things about me.

I live in Manhattan, Kansas.

I am the cute one in the black-and-white photo on this page.

I am not entirely comfortable about growing old. If you squint--and if you are very kind--I can pass for 49-1/2, but I will never be 60 again, and my paternal grandfather now haunts the mirror I shave in.

I take some pride in the fact that I was on the planet at the same time that Gandhi and Einstein were alive. I am not above claiming to have met them.

I am not sure about god, but for a time, I was sure about Satan. She has good legs and a bad attitude, and she lives in a little white house that I spent a good part of my adult life paying for.

Since May 2005, I have been divorced. This has been a good thing for me, and probably for her as well. I joke frequently about the ex-wife, but I left my anger behind long ago and am happier now than I have been in many years.

I have three sons, Joshua, Owen, and Taylor. On May 17, 2009, each of them graduated from something. Joshua finished an M.A. in journalism at the University of Kansas, Owen finished a B.S. at the same university, and Taylor graduated from Manhattan High School.

Joshua, my oldest son, writes and rides. Armed with a new graduate degree in journalism, he's hunting for professional work. For recreation, his idea of a good time is to ride 100 to 200 miles on a single-speed mountain bike over bad roads in a single day. On a very different note, to say that my relationship with my oldest son is difficult would be kind. He is his mother's son in so many ways, but the troubles between us pre-date the divorce.

Owen is my second son. Owen has never met a stranger. He loves Lawrence, where he and his hair have blossomed at the University of Kansas. He has graduated and is taking a year off before graduate school to work and to consider how he will save the world.

Taylor, my youngest, graduated from the local high school and will join his brothers in Lawrence at the University of Kansas in the fall. Currently he resides in Manhattan with his mother, but we visit freely and frequently.

All of my sons can do a forward one-and-a-half from either the high or low boards, so my job as a father is almost done.

By day and sometimes night I teach a variety of English classes, an intro to philosophy class (only the English major bullshit talent qualifies me for this), and occasionally some developmental classes at a community college in Kansas. I love my job. Most of the time.

My favorite food is fried chicken eaten cold over the kitchen sink with nobody watching. If some part of that remark is unclear to you, then perhaps you've never enjoyed fried chicken wildly.

In the summer of 2005, I biked across Kansas with about eight hundred other idiots. I thoroughly enjoyed this event, and I will do it again as soon as feeling returns to my butt.

Bicycling is one of my favorite pastimes. I enjoy taking off on a 40-60 mile day trip around the area on a sunny weekend.

Both of my parents are still living. Mom is 82 and Dad is 87, and they still live in their own home in Houston. I credit the success of their marriage to the fact that Dad has gone deaf in his later years.

I was born in Pennsylvania, attended elementary school in New York on Long Island, and secondary school in Houston, Texas, at Bellaire High. I've lived in Kansas since 1979, longer than I've lived anywhere else.

If you've read this far, thanks.

I have attended Tulane University in New Orleans, the University of Texas at Austin, and Kansas State University in Manhattan. When I was a freshman at Tulane, Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the house, was in graduate school there, and our paths crossed frequently. I seldom mention that because the nicest thing I can think to say about him is that he's a Republican.

I do, however, frequently mention that I knew Brent Spiner in high school. If you don't recognize the name, I'll remind you that he played Data in "Star Trek". Brent and I were in the same advanced drama class, but he is a bit further along in his acting career than I am.

I believe that corn is the only necessary vegetable and that onions, chives, shallots, and garlic go further in proving that there might be a god than any theologian ever did. This statement should not lead a reader to believe I am atheist. I'm more complicated than that, but to keep this area simple, I'll say that I don't believe any religion adequately or accurately describes god--nor will they ever. And I believe god is okay with that.

Others have told me my face is unexpressive. When they tell me this, what is there to do but look at them impassively and shrug.

My youngest son is one of the nicest humans I've ever known. I'm sure he was switched at birth.

I miss the naps that I took with my middle son when he was a toddler, but now that he's a six-footer, well...

My oldest son has taught me that no matter how much a parent might love a child, when that child is ready to leave home, the parent is usually ready to see the door hit that kid’s rear end.

That's enough for now, isn't it? I'll feel free to amend this as my boldness increases and as life experience suggests I should.