31 October 2007

I know you are, but what am I?

Heather managed (while ostensibly writing her dog and her sister's dog) to completely capture David's and my own, shall we say, zeitgeist.

For the record (as they say on As It Happens), I'm Bo, he's Chuck.

Over in this corner we have Bo, a walrus with legs, a snuggler, a barker, an absentminded ding-dong. And over here is Chuck, a neurotic gazelle*, listens to music written by men who wear mascara, prefers that you wash your hands before touching him, reads Hemingway.

Mind you, that description could also apply to Ernie and Bert and if there was ever a famous relationship that looks like our relationship, it's Ernie and Bert.

(Sigh. I'm Ernie. Sigh. He's Bert. Jeepers.)

*It is possible that David won't be flattered by this comparison, so I guess I should mention that I am rather more like an attention-seeking beagle than David is like a neurotic gazelle.

The Hell of It

From The Phantom of the Paradise by Paul Williams. Not his usual, is it?

The Hell of It

Roll on thunder, shine on lightning
The days are long and the nights are frightenin'
Nothing matters anyway,
And that's the hell of it.

Winter comes and the winds blew colder
While some grew wiser, you just grew older
And you never listened anyway,
And that's the hell of it.

Good for nothing, bad in bed
Nobody likes you and you're better off dead
Goodbye, we've all come to say goodbye (goodbye)
Goodbye (goodbye)
Born defeated, died in vain
Super-destructive, you were hooked on pain
Though your music lingers on
All of us are glad you're gone

If I could live my life half as worthlessly as you
I'm convinced that I'd wind up burning too.

Love yourself as you loved no other
Be no man's fool and be no man's brother
We're all born to die alone, you know, that's the hell of it.

Life's a game where they're bound to beat you
And time's a trick it can turn to cheat you
And we only waste it anyway,
And that's the hell of it.

Good for nothing, bad in bed
Nobody liked you and you're better off dead
Goodbye, we've all come to say goodbye (goodbye)
Goodbye (goodbye)
Born defeated, died in vain
Super-destructive, you were hooked on pain
And though your music lingers on
All of us are glad you're gone

29 October 2007

The Plan

Read about it
Read about it
Read it in the books in the crannies
And the nooks there are books to read
Tears for Fears, Sowing the Seeds of Love

There is a stack of books on my bedside table (surprised? Didn't think so.) and as I don't have rehearsal or social plans for this evening I intend to make myself a dinner that has nothing to do with a drive-through and spend the evening drinking real tea, reading books, and watching stupid television. Sit-coms and books. Real books - not scripts. I think I'll lean in the direction of the frivolous books first.

Of course, last week was supposed to filled with dinner dates, two of which got rain checked.* But I'm long over due for some spend-an-evening-at-home-with-the-cat" time so no rescheduling for me.

* Oddly enough - or not so oddly, I guess it is the obvious witticism - both people phrased their re-schedule request the same way: "Can I get a raincheck? It is raining."

27 October 2007

Bouncing around my head

This thought has been on my mind a bit lately, though I know not why:

The world will go as it will, not as you or I would have it.

Marion Zimmer Bradley, Thendara House

26 October 2007

The Things That I Would Carry

I know that many of us have been following the San Diego wildfire story - either closely or casually. I heard on NPR this morning that KPBS, a San Diego public radio station, has created a Google Maps of the situation. More importantly, in the sidebar is more or less up-to-the-minute news about which shelters are open, which neighborhoods are now safe, and other useful infomation.

You can find it here.

I have spent random minutes in the last few days wondering what I would take with me if I had to bug out and considering what a sentimental pack rat I am, the list is pretty short:

Pekoe and his kit (food, bowls, litter);
My purse;
My passport;
As much cash as I could;
Kipling (my teddy bear because he is very reassuring and makes a great emergency pillow);
Clean underthings;
A book or two - probably Middlemarch because then I would forced to finish the darned thing (and besides, it's long) and something more fun than Middlemarch;
A small "collage" I put together of family pictures; and

That was all I could come up with and I could put all that in the car in twenty minutes or so. If I had to grab-and-go the list would be:

My purse;
My passport;
As much cash as I could; and

After Hurrican Katrina David and I worked out a very basic, "I guess we'd" script of what we'd do if required to leave in a hurry. Daddy always says that they'd like to see more of us, so I guess he'd be happy to know that his and Audrey's house is where these refugees would arrive. With cat.

A few weeks ago we nearly had "Bring Your Cat to Work Day" because the fire alarm went off in my building as I was getting dressed. I finished dressing, stuffed Peek into his cat carrier using my never-fail technique (available upon request), and headed out. I dithered around for a bit but as the fire department had arrived pretty darn fast, I was able to return Peek to the apartment rather than figure out what to do with him for a full day at my office which is not set up for him or his needs at all.

On that day it was Peek, purse, passport and go. I have a horrible time letting go of things but I do know that things can be replaced, (it helps to be able to prove one's identity, of course). One place where Mollie and I lived had a nasty flood (raw sewage) in the basement and I hated with a white hot passion going through the ruined things and that was only the things I kept in basement storage. It can be done, it just sucks enormously.

I have always travelled light and though I would miss every single thing that I own, if I were asked to evac, I would lock the door, hope for the best, and leave.

I just hope I never have to.

25 October 2007

Wouldn't It Be Pretty to Think So?

My Boss*: Are you okay?

Me: Sure. Why?**

My Boss: You're just being very quiet today.

Me: No, I'm fine. You're pretty focused on some important things today so I was trying not to be an annoying distraction.

My Boss: You could never be annoying.

He doesn't give me flowers on Adminstrative Professionals Day, but he does say things like that without being sarcastic.

*Winner, Best Boss Ever '05, '06, '07

**For some reason any time I am quiet, people always ask if I am alright. I don't think that my expression in repose is one of dispair, but perhaps yes.

Why is there no Hallmark card for this?

Today is the 592nd anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt. I know, I know, in 2015 there surely will be all kinds of hoop-la and bank holidays and fireworks and such and that I should just wait patiently.

And, appropriately enough, it rained heavily last night.

If you can read this, thank a longbowman.

23 October 2007

What to do, what to do

How do I fill the strangely empty evenings now that I don't have rehearsal until 10:30 (or, oy, later) in another state? (Or commonwealth. Maryland is a state. Virginia is a commonwealth, along with its fellow travellers Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky. Maryland is very aware that we have commonweals on two borders.*) Um. Where was I? Oh! Right! Right.

I have dinner dates! Let's review this week for instance:

Sunday - John & Eleanor
Monday - Tommy!
Tuesday - Mattie
Wednesday - Julie (unless we have to reschedule)
Thursday - Dave

Friday, of course, I'll be at the theater. Same for Saturday. And, uhm, Sunday. But next week is also looking pretty good for dining with pals, so if you want to get onto my calendar, drop me a note!

Long years ago the delightful and talented John** and I realized that our annual salaries were a mere $30 apart and we agreed that if he took me out for a $30 dinner, universal harmony would be restored. Every now and then we'd do another paystub comparison and for a while there if we were to bring things par, I'd have had to haven taken him to dinner in Tokyo, so I'd always shift our date into the future. Ditto when he would have had to have taken me to Prague. We (John, Stacey, plus or minus Sam and Garrett) have, of course, had many lovely dinners together since then, all of them worth far more to me than $30.

And I'll start auditioning again shortly, so I guess this is a limited time offer. Act now! Volunteers are standing by!

*Note to self - Try to be more emphatic about this. Possibly with underlining or boldfacing. Or capitaliziation.

**Who is, oddly enough, John's brother-in-law. They are both named John because I met them during the John Regime before the David Junta took over.

20 October 2007

My kind of compliment

Backstage last night Clayton looked at me and said that it was so weird, I look so beautiful backstage, but once I get on, I look so ....frumpy.

For those of you how have trouble putting the word "frumpy" in the compliment list, I was flattered because what he said meant two things:

1. He thinks I'm pretty;
2. He thinks I'm doing my job on stage. Alma is kind of frumpy.

19 October 2007

Not what was intended

In the show that I am opening tonight (see sidebar, come see show), my character, Alma, has an emotional response where she cries. Myself, I'm not really a crier. Okay, the end of West Side Story makes me cry (odd because the end of Romeo and Juliet doesn't), but, in general, when I am upset I don't necessarily cry. I was surprised when I cried at my sister's funeral.

I am, in fact, usually surprised with I cry.

I've gotten physically cold when upset: once during a very upsetting discussion with Steve I was shivering and my teeth were actually chattering. But I didn't cry. Not even later.

So in getting this show ready I've been trying to learn how to cry on cue*. And just as you can sort of convince yourself that you are in a better mood than you really are by acting happy, you can set up tears by doing the things that your body does when you naturally cry.

Unless you're me.

Crying has happened a couple of times in rehearsal and then I spend the rest of the evening surfing the prolactin and adrenocorticotropic hormone wave, which is its own experience.

And this creates a new twist: my weirdo psycho-physical system seems to have realized that I'm trying to manipulate it for my own ends and is refusing to play along.

The last couple of rehearsals instead of having sad tears role down my cheeks (and sting the bejeebers out of me), I've had tearless sobs which are the lachrymal equivalent of the dry heaves. My director is fine with that because it is still an organic response although it plays merry hell with my pacing for the speech it underscores. And it feels freaky, like hiccups gone wrong.

So heaven only knows what's going to happen in each performance. Maybe tears, maybe dry sobs, maybe a perfect phlegmatic nothing.

Of course, for a couple of reasons, I'm so tired today that I could quite possibly just weep my way through the entire performance tonight. We must be careful what we wish for.

“I want to feel passion, I want to feel pain. I want to weep at the sound of your name. Come make me laugh, come make me cry... just make me feel alive.” Joey Lauren Adams

*"Crying on Cue" is also the nickname for the "Character and Emotion" class given at the Studio Theater. Maybe if I could afford the prices Studio charges I wouldn't be writing this post.

18 October 2007

I shall write to the Times!

The Derbyshire Times in this case, but it's nice to know that some of the things that Americans believe about the English actually happen. I can't help but picture "Theatregoer" writing this terse note from his club and dispatching by way of an impassive servant.

SIR — I refer to the review of Chesterfield Gilbert and Sullivan Society's production of Iolanthe (Derbyshire Times, October 4). I also attended the opening night and, in the main, would go along with most of the comments.

However, there seems to be one glaring omission, namely the part of Iolanthe played by Julie Currey.

I believe this was her first lead part which, in my opinion, she carried off superbly. No reference was made to this and I would think some encouragement and recognition would have been justified.



17 October 2007

And you read your Emily Dickinson

The moon is distant from the sea,
And yet with amber hands
She leads him, docile as a boy,
Along appointed sands.

He never misses a degree;
Obedient to her eye,
He comes just so far toward the town,
Just so far goes away.

Oh, Signor, thine the amber hand,
And mine the distant sea,-
Obedient to the least command
Thine eyes impose on me.

A little Wednesday present for David

As soon as I saw the "blog" of "unnecessary" quotation marks, I knew I had to post a link to it. David calls them "scare quotes" and, sure enough, some of these are pretty scary.

But that's not all! There is a sidebar with links to "Other Snarks"* which includes Grammar/Syntax Errors in which the author sometimes gets so worked up about his topic, that he makes grammatical and syntactical errors.

Now what would you pay?!**

*Must use many "scare quotes" in this post.

**Rats. Not as good at "scare quotes" as I would like to be. I just couldn't work in any more. Must try harder next time.

16 October 2007

Pretty Little Things

Again, I need a soundtrack option here* because I while I really like the lyrics to this Shriekback song, it's exponentially better when you can hear the skittery percussion and pizzacato strings (and is "pizzacato strings" a redundant phrase?) under the almost falsetto vocal. Perfect for a dark, windy night in October.

Pretty Little Things

How they glisten. How they shine. I wish that they were mine
Half-good but not evil - make me feel so very fine.
Oh my, my my... so pretty I could cry
When I saw them for the first time, I thought that I would die

So pretty so pretty those pretty little things
So pretty so pretty those pretty little things

I can't stand the temptation, wanna touch but I don't know
Shiny bright and squeaky clean - pretty little things I love them so
Pretty things are kind of wicked - make my sick heart feel so glad
I'm sure that nothing so pretty could be bad...

So pretty so pretty those pretty little things
So pretty so pretty those pretty little things
So pretty so pretty those pretty little things
So pretty so pretty those pretty little things

Complicated as a flower glamorous as anything
Dangerous and evanescent - yes oh yes those pretty things
Boiling up and bubbling over warm and soft and simmering
Make me holler and sing - pretty pretty little things

So pretty so pretty those pretty little things
So pretty so pretty those pretty little things

*I mean one where you can hear the music, not just where I cite it

15 October 2007

The Humanities Geek Test

Okay, I heisted this from The Archer Pelican and knew I had to post it when I read questions number 3 and 4. So we all know that my score is at least a 2.*

I also had to post it because my smart and beautiful niece is currently a student at Radford. One ignores these little cosmic things at one's peril.

Long years ago, when I was in college (at the Maryversity of Uniland), the Rice Purity Test was all the rage, and made even more popular by its emphasis on things done for/to/with members of the opposite sex. College students are basically lawyers at heart, so we all immediately glommed onto the idea that instead of promoting "purity," the test encouraged bi-curious experimentation. My D&D and Markland pals could be divvied up into a few groups:

1. Those who thought that any score above 50 was nothing all that remarkable;
2. Those who thought that any score below 80 was remarkable and vowed to keep theirs above that line;
3. Those who, upon taking the test the first time, devoted their off hours to lowering their scores;
4. Those who, upon learning the scores of some of our friends, vowed never to exchange any body fluid of any kind with them ever;
5. Those who thought the test was poorly constructed (see bi-curious leanings, supra)** and therefore disregarded the results;
6. Those who thought the test was puerile and disgarded it entirely.

Guess which one I was.

Oddly enough, I had dinner with a friend the other night where we discussed/fondly recalled our mispent college years which brought the RPT to mind. More synchronicity...

Maybe I'll print out the RPT before our next dinner so that we have some handy talking points. On the other hand, if I can convince him to put in a couple of hours discussing being and nothingness, I can improve my Humanities Geek Test score.

The difference between the RPT and the HGT is that for the Rice you start at 100 and subtract a point for every "yes." With the HGT, you start at 0 and add a point for every "yes." I would point out that #92 is not a yes/no question unless you chose to count French as a yes and American as a no. That's what I did.***

The Humanities Geek Test (by Laura Cubbison)

After T-bone posted the scientific nerd test, I started thinking about a test for eggheads (humanities geeks). Some of the questions on his test work for eggheads too, so I kept them in. I wrote most of the questions myself, and T-bone contributed a few more. Once I finished it, I figured up my score as 55.

I actually wrote this before the coffee house sketch on MST3K, but I did add two questions inspired by the sketch.



For each of the following questions which you answer 'yes,' add one point to your score. Your total at the end is your percentage of eggheadedness.

1)Have you ever gone to a coffee house?
2)Have you ever talked about being and nothingness?
3)Have you ever been to a Pinter play?
4)Do you know who Pinter is?
5)Have you ever done #2 continuously for more than four hours?
6)At a coffee house?
7)Do you wear glasses?
8)Are your glasses shaped like John Lennon's?
9)Is your vision worse than 20/40?
10)Worse than 20/80?
11)Are you legally blind?
12)Have you ever taught freshmen?
13)Have you ever answered a question in lecture after a moment of silence?
14)Have you ever corrected a professor?
15)Have you ever refused to answer a hypothetical question?
16)Have you ever had to sit in a circle in a classroom?
17)Do you save your lecture notes in file folders?
18)Do you never sell back your textbooks?
19)Do you own a black turtleneck shirt?
20)Have you ever used a microfilm reader?
21)Have you ever used a microfiche reader?
22)Have you ever used gopher to retrieve James Joyce's _Ulysses_ for a research
23)Is your weight less than your IQ?
24)Have you ever done #2 on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday of the same weekend?
25)Have you ever done #2 past 4 a.m.?
26)Have you ever done #2 with someone of the opposite sex?
27)Have you ever done #2 for money?
28)Do you have own a copy of Thomas Pynchon's _Gravity's Rainbow_?
29)Have you read _Gravity's Rainbow_?
30)Did you understand _Gravity's Rainbow_?
31)Without Cliff's Notes?
32)Do you have a copy of the Riverside Shakespeare?
33)Do you have straight hair of all one length?
34)Does it fall in your face?
35)Do you admit to being a white male oppressor?
36)Do you express your rage against white male oppressors?
37)Can you define deconstructionism?
38)Do you know the Allegory of the Cave?
39)Do you know the words that follow "To be or not to be"?
40)Do you have them on a t-shirt?
41)Have you ever quoted Nietzsche?
42)Do you know who wrote _Waiting for Godot_?
43)Have you seen _Waiting for Godot_ in the theater?
44)Do you own more than $500 in books?
45)More than $1000?
46)More than $2500?
47)Do you stack your books in the corner of the room?
48)Have you ever seen a Merchant/Ivory film?
49)After you read the book?
50)Did you cry?
51)Did you fail the math portion of the GRE?
52)Have you ever done homework on a Friday night?
53)Have you ever pulled an all-nighter?
54)Have you ever written a short story?
55)Have you ever written poetry?
56)Done #55 in the last three months?
57)Done #55 in the last three weeks?
58)Have you ever memorized a poem?
59)Are your pants rolled up because they're too long?
60)Do you wear sandals?
61)Have you read _The Canterbury Tales_?
62)In middle English?
63)Have you ever attended a Shakespeare in the Park production?
64)Have you ever seen a Shakespeare play in a theater?
65)Have you ever entered a writing contest?
66)Did you win?
67)Can you identify Jacques Derrida?
68)Have you ever read anything by Derrida?
69)By Michel Foucault?
70)Have you ever used a colon in the title of a research paper?
71)Have you ever applied literary criticism to a television show?
72)Have you ever used inter-library loan?
73)Have you ever had to justify your field of study to your parents?
74)Have you ever used the word "hermeneutics" in a conversation?
75)Do you view participation in extracurricular activities as a violation of
your non-conformity?
76)Do you dress exactly like your non-conformist friends?
77)Do you know more than 1 modern language?
78)More than 2?
79)Do you know an ancient language no longer spoken?
80)Have you ever made a literary joke?
81)Did no one get it?
82)Have you ever attended a conference?
83)Did you read a paper?
84)Did you attend all the presentations?
85)Did you ask a question?
86)Have you ever used the word "verisimilitude"?
87)Can you count in Roman numerals?
88)Have you ever had a book review published?
89)In a newspaper?
90)Have you ever MSTed a textbook?
91)Have you ever attended a RenFest?
92)Do you pronounce "Sorbonne" like an American or a Frenchman?
93)Have you ever bought bottled water?
94)Have you ever drunk Perrier?
95)Is Guinness Stout the only beer you drink?
96)Did you major in philosophy or literature?
97)Have you ever read Beowulf?
98)In Old English?
99) Have you ever bought Let's Go Europe?
100)Do you apologize for the existence of Western Civilization?

* It is, in fact, a 44. Which I determined the easy way by setting up an Excel page with the questions and using 1 and 0 for my answers. One quick =sum later, I had my score. Sigh.

**Nowhere in the test does it mention using "supra" instead of "above" in casual writing. But that one's probably on the "Utter Preteniousness Test."

***David will probably disagree with me on what my answer to that one should be.

14 October 2007

Voice Twin

Because I'm actually home this evening, I've been putting around and watching The War. One of the interviewees is a lady from Mobile named Katharine Phillips. I noticed her particularly because they cut to her at one point when I wasn't looking at the screen and I only heard her voice. She sounds exactly the way I remember, Oleta, my father's mother sounding. None of the other Mobileans sound like my family particuarly, but this lady does.

I haven't heard my grandmother's voice in quite a few years, but listening to Ms. Phillips (well, Mrs. Singer, really) brings her right back.

A tiny little gift.

And, interestingly, I think she has a very small connection to my family. Her father was principle of Murphy High School, which I think is where Dad went.

12 October 2007

Where it comes from

I learned the last couplet from an essay that Jean Kerr wrote about teaching her children to like poetry, but here's the whole thing:

"Breathes there the man" - Sir Walter Scott from The Lay of the Last Minstrel

Breathes there the man with soul so dead
Who never to himself hath said,
This is my own, my native land!
Whose heart hath ne'er within him burned,
As home his footsteps he hath turned
From wandering on a foreign strand!
If such there breathe, go, mark him well;
For him no minstrel raptures swell;
High though his titles, proud his name,
Boundless his wealth as wish can claim
Despite those titles, power, and pelf,
The wretch, concentred all in self,
Living, shall forfeit fair renown,
And, doubly dying, shall go down
To the vile dust from whence he sprung,
Unwept, unhonored , and unsung.

As I like it

I was discussing As You Like It with a friend last night and mentioned that it's my favorite Shakespeare. I, then, in order to ensure that I sounded like a complete idiot*, mispronounced Jaques's name, misattibuted my favorite speech, and misquoted said speech. I am going to English Major Hell, I just know it.

But, just to brighten an otherwise lack-luster Friday, here is the speech. Please, please, let me type it correctly.

Phebe, Act III, scene v**

Know'st thou the youth that spoke to me ere-while?
Think not I love him, though I ask for him;
'Tis but a peevish boy; yet he talks well;
But what care I for words? yet words do well
When he that speaks them pleases those that hear.
It is a pretty youth: not very pretty:
But, sure, he's proud, and yet his pride becomes him:
He'll make a proper man: the best thing in him
Is his complexion; and faster than his tongue
Did make offense his eye did heal it up.
He is not very tall; yet for his years he's tall:
His leg is but so so; and yet 'tis well.
There was a pretty redness in his lip,
A little riper and more lusty red
Than that mix'd in his cheek; 'twas just the difference
Betwixt the constant red and mingled damask.
There be some women, Silvius, had they mark'd him
In parcels as I did, would have gone near
To fall in love with him: but for my part,
I love him not nor hate him not; and yet
I have more cause to hate him than to love him:
For what had he to do to chide at me?
He said mine eyes were black and my hair black.
And, now I am remembere'd, scorn'd at me:
I marvel why I answer'd not again:
But that's all one; omittance is no quittance.
I'll write to him a very taunting letter,
And thou shalt bear it: wilt thou, Silvius?
I'll write it straight;
The matter's in my head and in my heart:
I will be bitter with him and passing short.
Go with me, Silvius.

*Rather than the partial idiot that I normally am when talking to him.

**Page 686 in The Big, Heavy Book of Shakespeare.

10 October 2007

Probably a symptom of an aneurysm or something

It hurts when I cry. A lot. My own tears appear to be an irritant in my eyes and sometimes over the past several months I have randomly had stinging, burning, tearing eyes and I have no clue why. And if, for some reason, I am actually crying,* then whatever is making me cry very soon takes a backseat to how much my eyes hurt. Which should make me cry more, but really doesn't. It just hurts like the bejeebers.

My very cute and charming eye doctor (sigh, sigh, all sigh) had suggested that it might be dry eyes and that I try artificial tears. I did. Wow, did that hurt.

So is it just me?

*Not that I cry very often, but you know.

Flying Time

"Are you a Yankee's fan?"
"No, Baltimore."
"Baltimore? Geez, that's like being hit in the head with a crowbar once a day."

Twelve Angry Men by Reginald Rose

09 October 2007


It's not often that one's lovely autumn weekend in Maine can be summed up with a postcard, but this one could.

(Gorgeous picture of trees in a hundred shades of red, yellow, orange, and green. Mainly red.)

It doesn't really look like this because it's been such a dry summer that everything is more or less going from green to brown but I couldn't find any with a picture of a bunch of geeky G&S fans indoors on a lovely day singing at each other.

Stored Value

NSTIW,* at a Starbucks on the Jersey turnpike. I was just about to hand over my $2.09 (Grande Awake tea - may I put the bag in myself, please? Thanks!) to the nice barista when the young gentleman behind me said, more frantically that would seem necessary under the circumstances, "I'd like to pay for her drink!" And as he looked more like Ralph Rakestraw or Florian than Dick Deadeye or Gama, it was charming, not unnerving.

But.....Okaaaaaaay. I mean, I'm cute and all, but I'd been traveling since morning and looked like it and I'm, um, a little older than this guy. And it's a Starbucks on the turnpike, not a hotel bar, so I'm pretty much gonna pay and leave. As a potential pick up it seemed somewhat...unlikely.

As it turned out he wanted to use his Starbucks stored value card to pay for my drink so that I could give him the $2.09 in cash and he would have enough money to get off of the damned turnpike. His rental car was the first one he had gotten in a while that had no E-Z Pass and he was a tiny bit short of the exit fare.

And he was friendly and charming and seemed perfectly happy to engage me in conversation while we prepped our beverages and he pocketed my former money. I think he chose me because I am universally regarded as approachable and because I bought something reasonably cheap with cash. I think the frantic part came from his sudden realization that I was going to pay in cash, so - ding! - he could possibly turn his stored money into, shall we say, a more liquid asset*** and thus avoid having to resort to being the cutest panhandler in New Jersey that day, and that once it hit Starbucks' till he have no shot at it.

But guess which Kingston Trio song has been stuck in my head ever since?

Well, let me tell you of the story of a man named Charley
on a tragic and fateful day.
He put ten cents in his pocket, kissed his wife and family,
went to ride on the M.T.A.

Well, did he ever return? No, he never returned and
his fate is still unknown.
He may ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston.
He's the man who never returned.

Charlie handed in his dime at the Kendall Square Station
and he changed for Jamaica Plain.
When he got there the conductor told him, "One more nickel."
Charlie couldn't get off of that train.

Now, all night long Charlie rides through the station,
crying, "What will become of me?!!
How can I afford to see my sister in Chelsea
or my cousin in Roxbury?"

Charlie's wife goes down to the Sculley Square Station
every day at quarter past two,
And through the open window she hands Charlie a crabcake
as the train comes rumblin' through.

Now, you citizens of Boston, don't you think it's a scandal
how the people have to pay and pay?
Fight the fare increase! Vote for George O'Brien!
Get poor Charlie off the M. T. A.

*Oh, come now, you don't really need me to tell you that NSTIW stands for "No shit, there I was" do you? And, shirley**, you remember that NSTWW would be the plural.

**Oh, for pity's sake. Yes, I know that it's spelled "surely," but as everything is going to think that dumb joke, I might as well just spell that way. See? This is why my stories seem so long. Because you people keep interrupting me.

***Liquid asset. Get it? Liquid asset! I crack me up, I swear.

07 October 2007


My friend Barry has co-edited a book of "bite-sized essays on language and languages" called The Five-Minute Linguist. (And, yea, it is alway and everywhere a good and joyful thing to have a friend represented on Amazon.com.)

I saw Barry this weekend in Maine and he presented me (via Bob) with my own copy of The Five-Minute Linguist with the following inscription:

For Leta -

Always the most voluble player


6 October 2007

04 October 2007

The Pirate Gloria

I know, I know, Pirates are just robbers, rapists, and murders. With boats. I get it. And even though I don't find the Mafia at all entertaining, I still kinda like pirates. Heck, as a G&S geek, I'm required to like Pirates. And to celebrate Talk Like a Pirate Day.

And, lo and behold, what should turn up on Savoynet the other day but a link to The Pirate Gloria (thank you, Ian!) The entire thing is great fun to read but I've included just two portions below, the Nicene Creed and the Lord's Prayer. Conveniently the line that I have modified for my own use has been left unchanged, so I can still use it.

The next time that TLPD falls on a Sunday will be in 2010, so I have about two years to convince Janice (our minister) that we should use the The Pirate Gloria (including music by Sullivan!) at the 10:30 service.

The Nicene Creed

We believe in one God, the Almighty Admiral,
Maker o’ heaven and ‘arth,
and o’ all things natural and ghostly.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
T’only Son o’ God, says I, eternally begotten ‘o the Admiral,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, nar made, ‘o one Bein’wi’ the Father.
Through him all things t’were made.
Far us and far arr salvation
he opened the hatch o’ heav’n
and dropped into the hold:
by the pow’r ‘o the Holy Ghost
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made a swabbie.
Fer arr sake he was keel-hauled by that the scurvy dog,
Pontius Pilate;
and was sent t’ Davy Jones’ locker.
On the third day he came back in accardance with the book;
he ascended into heaven
and be seated at the right hand ‘o the Admiral.
He will come again in glory t’judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will ha’e no end.
Avast then!
We believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord, the giver ‘oife,
who proceeds from the Admiral and the Cap’n.
With them two, he be worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one dunkin’ far the forgiveness ‘o sins.
We look far the resurrection ‘o the dead,
and the life o’ the world t’come.
So says one, so says us all. Aye aye.

The Lord’s Prayer

As arr Cap’n, Jesus Christ has taught us, we now be prayin’,

Arr Father in heaven, hallow’d be yar Name, yar kingdom come,
yar will be done, on arth as in heaven. Give us today arr daily
ration. Fergive us arr sins as we fergive those scurvy dogs who
sneak up behind us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver
us from evil. Far thine be the kingdom, and the pow’r and the
glory, farever and ever. Aye, aye.

03 October 2007

The Eternal Typewriter

We have an old IBM Correcting Selectric II here in the office and I would fling my body in front it to save it were anyone to try to remove it. Selectrics don't have the groovy bells and whistles that, say, iPhones do, but you can open a Selectric up and make a few changes and it will still work. In fact, you can back over it with your car and it will still work. Largely, because it's heavier and more solid than any car I ever drove, possibly excepting the '68 Cougar I had in college. But the Selectric probably gets better gas mileage and won't rust out the way the Cougar did.

I was planning on writing a little love note/blog post to this Selectric today anyway because, well...because I love it, that's all. But things were brought to a head when one of our newer accountants, after being informed that handwriting envelopes containing large checks was not the done thing, asked me how one would "put a typed address on an envelope." And he wasn't kidding.

He had never used an actual typewriter in his life. Not before today anyway. I taught him how. Oh dear.

I learned on my Mom's old Royal manual and I earned some pocket money typing her papers when she was taking some classes when I was a teenager.* In high school, I took typing on a Selectric. And thus a life-long love affair was born.

The Selectric (jeepers, I wish these posts came with a soundtrack because this is just crying out for something by Paul Williams to underscore it) is easy to use and even though it is - literally - older than most of our new accountants (sigh) it still works beautifully. And it sounds like a typewriter. Remember how phones used to sound like phones and now they all sound sort of like the situation normal indicators on life support equipment? Well, newer typewriters don't really sound like typewriters. They just don't.

And it never gets paper jams, unlike a certain copier I could mention here.

It just types. First time, every time. The ball doesn't jam up the way the keys did on the Royal, and the end of line indicator is a cheery bell sound.

And it corrects. Easily. Sure, changing the correction ribbon is something that only the high priestesses of the Selectric (such as, ahem, mine own self) can accomplish but changing the regular ribbon doesn't get toner all over your hands, like with a certain copier that I have been given permission to destroy with the fire ax once it's lease is up.

And...and....and it's a nice color. Well, not bad color. A perfectly reasonable color, unlike that other electric typewriter in the office which is some kind of depressing county office worker teal. The Selectric is a nice, dark beige.

Oh, my but I'm old. Hey! You kids out there! Get off my lawn!

*I typed them pretty poorly because I was too impatient to wait the eons that it took Mom's old McDonald-milkshake-thick White Out to dry, among other things.

01 October 2007

I would have chosen a different verb

AOL has a story today from the New York Times about airline safety with the very unfortunate link name of Airline crash numbers plunge sharply. I mean, what kind of sickos are they over at AOL?

The official headline, by the way, was "Air fatalities drop sharply over decade*" which is still not what I have would have chosen (Hey! AOL! How about "Airline safety up since 1996"? Or "Air fatalities decreased over decade"? You know, something less...evocative? We, the nervous fliers of America, never, ever want to see words like "plunge" or "drop sharply" in an article about anything to do with planes.

And I'll bet that had any nervous fliers known that the article would contain this cheery little phrasing, "Barring a crash before midnight Sunday, the drop in the accident rate is about 65 percent, to one fatal accident in about 4.5 million departures, from one in nearly 2 million in 1997" they would have immediately rescheduled any plans they had to fly on Sunday because that just sounds like a dare. Sort of tugging on Fate's sleeve. Never draw the attention of the travel gods to thine own puny self.

On the plus side, it really is very good news.

*The headline on the NYT website, by the way, is "Fatal Airplane Crashes Drop 65%"


Some folks from the office and I went out for Happy Hour on Thursday. I ordered a Scotch and Soda which, when it arrived turned out to be lightly colored soda water. Disappointing as a drink, of course, but seeing as I was going to rehearsal after Happy Hour, probably just as well. (In fact, it was weak enough that I could have another. And so I did.)

Nonetheless, I still described to the people sitting near me as "practicing Safe Scotch."

Much more complex than the one for Dorothy Sayers

David found this handy chart via Boing Boing and I'll tell ya, I've been looking for something just like this for a while now.

Terry Pratchett fans tend to be a proselytizing lot but every time one of them would recommend his books, I, who like to read books in order,* would ask which one should I start with? Same answer every time: "Oh, it doesn't matter, just pick one up. You can start anywhere." Except that, I can't. Not with books described as comprising a
series. Series to me means beginning, middle, and end. So I regarded the answer as non-responsive and didn't read them.

Finally Debbie, who was more dedicated to the Church of Pratchett than some others, told me that if I read them in order of publication, I could watch Pratchett grow as an author. Okay, fine, works for me. So she fed them to me a few at a time and I read them "in order," which makes me happy. And I grew to love them, especially as Pratchett shifted from a Neil Simon-like set up, set up,
punchline to storytelling. Very funny, engrossing storytelling.

And so to celebrate this handy new chart, here are a few of my favorite Pratchett quotes:

“It wasn’t that he was unhelpful, but he had the kind of vague, cheerful helpfulness that serious men soon learn to dread.” Mort

“Actors had a habit of filling all the space around them.” Wyrd Sisters

“Magrat plunged on with the brave desperation of someone dancing in the light of their burning bridges.” Witches Abroad

“She felt that the name and the face had established themselves so deeply in her mind now that the rest of her thoughts were forced to orbit them.” Soul Music

"Ankh-Morpork's underworld, which was so big that the overworld floated around on top of it like a very small hen trying to mother a nest of ostrich chicks, already had Big Dave, Fat Dave, Mad Dave, Wee Davey, and Lanky Dai. Everyone had to find their niche." Hogfather

A catastrophe curve, is what opera runs along. Opera happens because a large number of things amazingly fail to go wrong.” Maskerade

*Using like to indicate the same level of interest and commitment as in the sentence "I like to breathe." Or "I like to have a nice, hot cup of tea." Just a bit of OCD there, I agree.