Friday, December 30, 2011

feel the love

Interesting article about Verizon with their $2 fee idea --
they "ran it by" consumers,
then had to
-- RUN...!

Customer comments:
"We at Verizon take great care to listen to our customers." Yeah, right. Feel the love....

What a bunch of greedy stupid idiots. And these people are running Veriozon?
With all the uemployed I would think it would be easy to find qualified replacements for these clowns.

Amazing how good things happen when the Disaster-in-Chief is busy golfing in Hawaii and the worthless Congress has disbanded to the boonies.

The real people spoke and won.

Now, let's speak again in November and throw all the do-nothing's out!!!

These big corporations (such telecom, airlines etc) need to be broken up so that consumers get a better deal.

Don't you remember that we did?
MA Bell spin- offs of all the Baby Bells?
Wall St. And big biz made billions and now, here we are again!

It is a whole new game with social media. Ten years ago Verizon would have slipped this junk fee in without much notice until it was too late. Times have changed. Good job activists!

I love it. I remember the "fee to pay fee" in other contexts but I cannot recall now what it was. It is abhorrent.

This is refreshing. Consumers can still effect change, and social media provides the weapon to do so.

[Comments from The Washington Post, Dec. 30, 2011]


Thursday, December 29, 2011

feet hit the ground

A 1942 film called Holiday Inn starred Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire.

The real Holiday Inn hotel chain was named after the movie title.
Irving Berlin wrote all of the songs for the film, including "White Christmas."

The movie has an atmosphere of determination, working hard cheerfully, accomplishing something, and a sly sort of black-and-white intimacy that makes the viewer identify with each of the characters -- all of them! -- not just one. It's as if you're right there, in the cozy, classically-textured living room at the inn.

Fred Astaire, dancing: the description I can come up with that does justice to his talent --

. [Hmm. I don't have enough skill to describe his talent.]
Here in the 21st Century we don't go looking for tap dancing on a regular basis, but a person watches Fred Astaire dance, it's like a "Come-to-Jesus" movement for Tap Dancing. (Why isn't everyone doing this?? -- ALL THE TIME - ?!!)

It is as if -- air and gravity and the every-day, work-a-day Rules of Existence don't apply to Fred Astaire -- he just skims, and flies, floats, spins, stomps, and then swirls with a shag-step that's so smooth it's almost invisible. It's like, "Wait-a-minute -- how'd he get over there?!"

And none of it is "special effects" or "blue screen" with a computer -- he did all the stuff, and the cameramen simply filmed him.

The Holiday Inn DVD contains extra things -- videos, histories, commentaries...there's film (from a different movie) of Fred Astaire and Bing Crosby performing together, singing and dancing: they both sing, and both dance, but the attitude, or received wisdom is that Fred is the better dancer, and Bing the stronger singer.

[Both:] In us you see a couple of song and dance men
[Bing:] I'm the song
[Fred:] I'm the dance
[Both:] For laughter, joy and happiness, we're advance men
[Bing:] With a song
[Fred:] And a dance

[Bing:] I sing for my supper
[Fred:] I dance for my lunch
[Bing:] I croon when the landlord comes around
[Both:] For miles around the women and children

{called out, Not sung} - pass! out! cold!

[Bing:] When my voice hits the air
[Fred:] And my feet hit the ground

[Bing:] Last night
[Fred:] Out in the moonlight
[Bing:] I came to serenade
[Fred:] A very pretty maid
[Bing:] I sang her to sleep with "Asleep in the Deep"

[Fred:] (That always makes them collapse!)

[Bing:] I saw her eyes close, then she started to doze
[Fred:] But she arose when I sounded taps
[Both:] Which goes to show what women will do when we're around
[Bing:] And my voice hits the air
[Fred:] And my feet hit the ground
In Holiday Inn, Crosby and Astaire play song-and-dance men working in New York. They have a problem of competing, in their social life, and "stealing girls" from each other. Their female dance partner in the act is Lila -- she's wearing Bing Crosby's ring but is about to run off with the Fred Astaire character.

Fred Astaire asks her, "What?! You didn't tell him yet?"
Lila: (deflated from not doing what she knows she has to do) -- "I couldn't. He gets a look."

"That isn't love. It's something to do with his -- liver...."

--------------------- When Bing Crosby starts falling in love with a new singing / dancing girl, Linda, he sings,

Sweetheart of mine, I've sent you a Valentine
Sweetheart of mine, it's more than a Valentine

Be careful, it's my heart
It's not my watch you're holding, it's my heart

It's not the note I sent you
That you quickly burned
It's not the book I lent you
That you never returned

Remember, it's my heart
The heart with which so willingly I part

It's yours to take, to keep or break
But please, before you start
Be careful, it's my heart

...Bing Crosby's brainstorm after he loses Lila in New York is that he's been wanting to leave the city and have a quieter, more relaxed life. So he buys a farm in Connecticut.

"He's already bought the farm!" one of the characters explains. ...


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

avert; bewitch

Time to get accustomed to the idea (the reality) of 2012.
(I'm not even really used to it being the 2000s. Not necessarily on board with it. Feel like it should still be 19-something. ...)

Thinking about time, and coming across a reference to Proust, I remembered the title of his gigantic novel, "Remembrance of Things Past." Have not read it; always liked the title, somehow....

In his book, Jackie Under My Skin: Interpreting An Icon, author and Yale professor Wayne Koestenbaum wrote --
[excerpts]-----------Apparently Jackie was caught reading Proust at a campaign stop. In her last interview, she mentions Proust: "Proust? I'd read that long ago." In early coverage of Mrs. Kennedy, much was made of her recherché tastes in reading (everything from "Colette to Kerouac").
[from the first chapter]...I began to write about the allure of icon Jackie in May 1993, while the real Jacqueline Onassis was alive and well. I addressed my sentences toward her....But...Her cancer was announced; with sad suddenness, she died. I can't address Jacqueline Onassis anymore.

But icon Jackie remains, a baffling array of images still requiring interpretation --not because interpretation is a panacea for loss, but because Jackie darkly captivates, and captivation fumbles for a foothold in speech.

Dare I find words for why Jackie mesmerizes? Even while Jacqueline Onassis was alive, icon Jackie had a life of her own, obeying comic-book laws; we could no more explain the icon than we could avert war, bewitch our neighbors, or reverse time.
------------ [end excerpts] {copyright 1995. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. New York}

"Reverse time." Hmm.
Type in "time is" on Google and it offers us back --
time is on my side
time is running out
time is money
time is of the essence
time is an illusion

"avert war, bewitch our neighbors, or reverse time" --
man has a way with a phrase


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

(theory and practice...)

"In theory one is aware that the earth revolves, but in practice one does not perceive it, the ground upon which one treads seems not to move, and one can live undisturbed. So it is with Time in one's life."

-- Marcel Proust

You must remember this
A kiss is just a kiss...
a sigh is just a sigh.
The fundamental things apply --
As time goes by.

[music and words by Herman Hupfeld]
{in the movie Casablanca}


Monday, December 26, 2011

we shall not fail

4 June 1940
(a speech given by British Prime Minister Winston Churchill):

“I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected, and if the best arrangements are made, as they are being made, we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our Island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to outlive the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone.

At any rate, that is what we are going to try to do. That is the resolve of His Majesty’s Government-every man of them. That is the will of Parliament and the nation.

The British Empire and the French Republic, linked together in their cause and in their need, will defend to the death their native soil, aiding each other like good comrades to the utmost of their strength.

Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail.

We shall go on to the end, we shall fight in France,
we shall fight on the seas and oceans,

we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our Island, whatever the cost may be,

we shall fight on the beaches,
we shall fight on the landing grounds,
we shall fight in the fields and in the streets,
we shall fight in the hills;
we shall never surrender,

and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.”


Friday, December 23, 2011

"Mercy Mile"

Christmas things:

singing Christmas carols in a group ("gang colors": red and green!) and it being so cold, too cold, glad to finish and have "lunch" (which was their odd & funny term for "a snack") in the church

the liberation of momentary inspiration and Cash to support it -- of buying Christmas gifts for family & friends, at Copley Plaza shopp. area to take home from college at Christmas break

the "hmmm"-moment of realizing presents taking up room in suitcase which was sort of needed for clothes...

after opening presents indoors by Tree, going out to garage for one final, large gift: a Sled. (Mobility!) sort of...

Christmas dinner, people seated all around a table, the Food plentiful, varietal, and delicious, and atmosphere of cheer, and hope, and goodwill -- when you don't really need to tell people anything, and they have no surprises for you, you can just "be," and the air between everyone can billow with comfort and pleasantness

Church -- the same story each year, always good, good to be comforted by the Expected

the "Bewitched" Christmas episodes -- when Samantha takes Larry and Darrin's cranky client to the North Pole, on her broom, to meet Santa Claus -- (make a believer outta that greedy Madison Avenue yo-yo...)

the Peanuts Christmas special! -- Hark the herald angels sing, Glory to the newborn king! Peace on earth, & mercy mild -- God and sinners -- reconciled!...rock on...


Thursday, December 22, 2011

I WANT to pay taxes...

Thwarted in my desire to play the song "White Christmas" for some of my co-workers, I instead read about the song's author, Irving Berlin.

He was born in 1888 in Russia; his name originally was Israel Isidore Baline.

His family emigrated to New York City, leaving Russia because of the pogroms of czarist Russia -- (czar's guys would ride into the Jewish town and wreck & burn stuff.)

Irving Berlin grew up to write songs, including “There’s No Business like Show Business,” “God Bless America,” and many more as well as “White Christmas.”
The on-line encyclopedia (Wikipedia) says [quote]:

The 1942 film Holiday Inn introduced "White Christmas", one of the most recorded songs in history. First sung in the film by Bing Crosby, it sold over 30 million records and stayed #1 on the pop and R&B charts for 10 weeks. Crosby's single was the best-selling single in any music category for more than fifty years. Music critic Stephen Holden credits this partly to the fact that "the song also evokes a primal nostalgia — a pure longing for roots, home and childhood…."

Richard Corliss also notes that the song was even more significant having been released soon after America entered World War II: [it] "connected with... GIs in their first winter away from home. To them it voiced the ache of separation and the wistfulness they felt for the girl back home, for the innocence of youth...." Poet Carl Sandburg said, "Way down under this latest hit of his, Irving Berlin catches us where we love peace."

"White Christmas" won Berlin the Academy Award for Best Music in an Original Song, one of seven Oscar nominations he received during his career.

Berlin supported the presidential candidacy of General Dwight Eisenhower, and his song "I Like Ike" featured prominently in the Eisenhower campaign. ... According to his [Irving Berlin's] daughter, "He was consumed by patriotism." He often said, "I owe all my success to my adopted country" and once rejected his lawyers' advice to invest in tax shelters, insisting, "I want to pay taxes. I love this country."

According to Saul Bornstein, Berlin's publishing company manager, "It was a ritual for Berlin to write a complete song, words and music, every day."

Berlin has said that he "does not believe in inspiration," and feels that although he may be gifted in certain areas, his "most successful compositions were the "result of work." In an interview in 1916, when he was 28, he said:
I do most of my work under pressure. When I have a song to write I go home at night, and after dinner about 8 I begin to work. Sometimes I keep at it till 4 or 5 in the morning. I do most of my writing at night, and although I have lived in the same apartment four years there has never been a complaint from any of my neighbors.... Each day I would attend rehearsals and at night write another song and bring it down the next day.

Not always certain about his own writing abilities, he once asked a songwriter friend, Mr. Herbert, whether he should study composition. "You have a natural gift for words and music," Mr. Herbert told him. "Learning theory might help you a little, but it could cramp your style." Berlin took his advice.

------------------- [end quote]


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

no room at the inn

I pulled in to Nazareth

Was feeling 'bout half past dead.

Just need to find a place

Where I can lay my head

Mister, can you tell me where

A man might find a bed...

He just grinned & shook my hand

"No" was all he said ...

["The Weight"
The Band]


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

ghost of truth

Reviewing lyrics of The Band's song, "Ophelia," wondered --

"the ghost is clear"
That's not even an expression!
I don't know why I rely on these lyrics posted on official Lyrics sites on internet: feel that it should be like Encyclopedia, sort of a Received Wisdom, but now think maybe should just listen to songs myself & type what I hear. And what makes sense.

...because -- it's got to be "the coast is clear."

"The coast is clear."
"The coast is clear!"
OK, that's an expression.
But how could a "ghost" be clear?
And -- hello? What ghost??
There was no ghost...!
makes no sense

this is the paradox of the internet:
we can look up Everything on "It"
and we may get true information
and we may get wrong information,
or incomplete information.

It's like, if it was wrong all the time, that would be better because at least it would be consistent -- you could look up the information, & then simply realize that the opposite is true. But it's inconsistent, that's the problem.
One of the problems.

Is it making our very lives less stable, because truth itself is called into question? Or sometimes disregarded?


Monday, December 19, 2011

darken my door

Boards on the window
Mail by the door
Why would anybody leave so
quickly for?
Where have you gone?

The old neighborhood
just ain't the same
Nobody knows just what became
of Ophelia --
Tell me, what went wrong...

Was it somethin' that somebody said?
Honey you know we broke the rules...
Was somebody up against the law?
Honey, you know -- I'd die for you --

Ashes of laughter
The ghost is clear
Why do the best things always
Like Ophelia --
Please darken my door.

Was it somethin' that somebody said?
Honey, you know we broke the rules--
Was somebody up against the law?
Honey, you know, that I'd die for you...

They got your number
Scared and runnin'
But I'm still waitin' for the
second comin'
Of Ophelia

Come back home

["Ophelia," by Robbie Robertson. The Band.]


Friday, December 16, 2011

fresh as paint

When reading E.F. Benson's Lucia (and Miss Mapp) novels, sometimes you don't understand everything they're saying, partly because in England they say things differently than we do in America -- ("turn the subject" instead of "change the subject" and "coming round the corner" instead of "coming around the corner") -- & partly because they're written in the 1920s, and styles of expression in the language change & evolve over time.

Sometimes you read a paragraph and go, "That's so funny!" or "That's so true!" Other times you read a paragraph & think, "What?"
Sometimes it's like listening to music where you can't understand the lyrics. You can still like it, because of the rhythm, the beat, & the melody.

(I used to always think in "Edge of Seventeen" Stevie Nicks was singing, "Just like the one we love..." Come to find out, ("Behind the Music"...) she wasn't singing, "Just like the one we love," she was singing, "Just like the white-winged dove." whatever. ...)

Queen Lucia was published in 1920. It went out of print later. Then came back in the 70s. Nancy Mitford wrote a Foreword in 1971:

At long last, here she is again, the splendid creature, the great, the wonderful, Lucia. What rejoicing there will be among the Luciaphils! Those of us who lost her chronicles during the war and have never, by Clique, by barrow or by theft, been able to replace them, now find ourselves armed against misfortune once again; when life becomes too much for us we shall be able to take refuge in the giardino segretto. The publishers, in reprinting QUEEN LUCIA (and by degrees, the whole saga), have deserved well of all who like to laugh.

Lucia (Mrs. Emmeline Lucas) is a forceful lady who lives in the South of England in two small country towns -- that is, when we meet her first, in the late Twenties, she is the Queen of Riseholme, but half way through her story (which ends just before the war) she transfers, presumably so that her creator can pit her against the formidable Miss Mapp, to Tilling. Tilling, I believe, is Rye, where E.F. Benson himself lived in the house formerly occupied by Henry James; this is the very house which Lucia finally worms out of Miss Mapp.

Lucia's neighbours in both towns are almost all, like herself, middle-aged people of comfortable means. Their occupations are housekeeping, at which most of them are skilled (there is a good deal about food in the books, and lobster a la Riseholme plays an important part), gardening, golf, bridge and bickering. None of them could be described as estimable, and they are certainly not very interesting, yet they are fascinated by each other and we are fascinated by them. [Makes me think of "Friends"...]

All this fascination is generated by Lucia; it is what happens with regard to her that counts; she is the centre and the driving force of her little world. As she is a profoundly irritating person, bossy, horribly energetic and pushing, [Monica Geller!] the others groan beneath her yoke and occasionally try to shake it off: but in their heart of hearts they know that it is she who keeps them going and that life without her would be drab indeed.

The art of these books lies in their simplicity. The jokes seem quite obvious and are often repeated: we can never have enough of them. [Like in "All In The Family" no matter how many times Archie said, "Editt, you are a dingbat," or, to his son-in-law, "Get away from me Meathead!" it was funny every waited for it...] In Lucia in London, Daisy gets a ouija board and makes mystical contact with an Egyptian called Abfou. Now Abfou hardly ever says anything but "Lucia is a Snob," yet we hang on his lips and are thrilled every time Georgie says, "I am going to Daisy's, to weedj."

Georgie is the local bachelor who passes for Lucia's lover. Then there is the Italian with which Lucia and Georgie pepper their conversation: "Tacete un momento, Georgie. Le domestiche." It never, never palls. On at least two occasions an Italian turns up and then we learn that Lucia and Georgino mio don't really know the language at all; the second time is as funny as the first.

I must say I reopened these magic books after some thirty years with misgivings; I feared that they would have worn badly and seem dated. Not at all; they are as fresh as paint. The characters are real and therefore timeless; the surprising few differences between that pre-war world and its equivalent today only add to the interest. Money of course is one of them -- the characters speak of 2,000 pounds as we would of 20,000 pounds. At least two people have Rolls-Royces; everybody has domestiche. When listening-in begins, Lucia refuses to have a wireless until Olga, a prima donna whom she reveres, owns to having one and listens-in to Cortot on it.

None of them ever thinks of going abroad. When Lucia and Georgie want to get away from Riseholme for a little change they take houses at Tilling for the summer; that is what leads to them settling there.

But the chief difference is that, in Lucia words, "that horrid thing which Freud calls sex" is utterly ignored. No writer nowadays could allow Georgie to do his embroidery and dye his hair and wear his little cape and sit for hours chatting with Lucia or playing celestial Mozartino, without hinting at Boys in the background. Quaint Irene, in her fisherman's jersey and knickerbockers, would certainly share her house with another lesbian and this word would be used.

There are no children in the books -- "Children are so sticky," says Georgie, "specially after tea." After the death of Mr. Lucas both Georgie and Lucia are afraid that the other may wish for marriage; the idea gives them both the creeps. However, the years go by and they realize that nothing is farther from the inclination of either than any form of dalliance. Marriage is obviously the thing; Georgie remembers that he is a man and proposes it.

I was a fellow guest, at Highcliffe, with Mr. E.F. Benson soon after Lucia had become Mayor of Tilling. We talked of her for hours and he said, "What must she do now?" Alas, he died in the first year of the war; can we doubt that if he had lived Lucia would have become a General?
-----------------------[end Foreword]
Queen Lucia, by E.F. Benson. Copyright (the novel), 1920 by George H. Doran Company. Copyright (the Foreword), 1971 by Nancy Mitford.



Thursday, December 15, 2011

spy unseen

Yesterday the New York Times ran an article about Facebook and how so many people are on it now, it's like those who are not "on it" are sort of like a -- minority.

Different points of view were commented in: riotously funny;
there are people who spend a LOT of time on Facebook and LOVE it and are REALLY REALLY into it.

And there are people who use it, and enjoy it, but don't spend that much time -- it's a smaller part of their lives.

And there are people who -- have a -- (what do you call it? a -- space??) on Facebook, but they're not into it, they're somewhat critical of the type of information that gets put up there by people, and they sometimes think about closing their account.

And there are the people in the minority: they "don't have" and are "not on" Facebook.

It's like this whole -- spectrum. Or -- no, continuum. I don't know.

One guy said he was closing his Facebook account; he'd determined it was a waste of time, and he listed the things he intended to do with the Time he saved by not being on Facebook: read; work out; create art; spend time with the cat.
: )
I was utterly charmed by that. Some guy in upstate New York.
"Spend time with the cat."

I had been thinking about three great English novelists anyway, whose work has some similarities: you could almost group them together, maybe --
Jane Austen
Helen Fielding
E.F. Benson.

They write -- funny novels. (Or should say -- wrote -- two of them, dead.)

Put that thought together with the Facebook -- I don't know -- celebration / debate / heated argument...
and began imagining the characters in these authors' novels & whether (and to what extent) each would use Facebook.

Jane Austen's stories are written, early 1800s, and E.F. Benson's "Lucia" novels came out between the two world wars, so of course no Facebook existed in the "real" world of these fiction worlds. But even Helen Fielding's famous Bridget Jones character didn't have Facebook, it's so New; Bridget Jones seems so Modern, yet technology moves so fast, it makes even a character who burst on the scene in the late 90s seem like she exists in a "past" world...

Now, Bridget Jones would use Facebook; her (wonderful) boyfriend Mark Darcy would not be on Facebook. Her friends Jude and Shazzer would be on Facebook, and so would their gay friend Tom. Bridget Jones's mother ("Mum") would so totally be so all over Facebook she would actually use it too much, create too many accounts, meet and "friend" too many people, and cause too much commotion & eventually the Facebook corporation would ask Mrs. Jones to please close her account and go away. (LOL!) P.S., Bridget's dad would be relieved.

Jane Austen's Emma would be on Facebook, but would use it sparingly. She would consider it a little bit beneath her, & would say to herself that she would not allow time spent on the social network to at all interfere with her piano practicing and reading of good literature. Mr. Knightley would have no use for Facebook. Mrs. Weston would be on Facebook to keep up with her sister in London, and with Emma. Mr. Woodhouse would be utterly disapproving of the whole concept of the internet, forget Facebook. He would have concerns and fears that people might become too mesmerized staring at their computer screens. (And, quaint as his worrying always is, he would not be entirely wrong in his conjectures.)

Miss Austen's "Elizabeth Bennet" in Pride And Prejudice would not disapprove of Facebook, & would consider opening an account, but would not have got around to it yet. Mr. Darcy most emphatically would not be on Facebook. Elizabeth Bennet's father would think Facebook was all right, but would not participate. Mrs. Bennet would be on it.

E.F. Benson's "Lucia" would resist the idea of Facebook, and would worry about whether members of her social circle were on it. Once she knew that some of them were on Facebook, she would want to look and see what they put up there, but she would not want anyone to know that she looked. Miss Mapp would search all over Facebook looking to see what the other people in the town put up there, and looking for something about anyone that she can interpet as bad. Georgie Pillson would be on Facebook, happily and humbly "friending" people.

--------------[excerpt, Miss Mapp]: Miss Elizabeth Mapp might have been forty, and she had taken advantage of this opportunity by being just a year or two older. Her face was of high vivid color and corrugated by chronic rage and curiosity; but these vivifying emotions had preserved to her an astonishing activity of mind and body....Anger and the gravest suspicions about everybody had kept her young and on the boil.

She sat, on this hot July morning, like a large bird of prey at the very convenient window of her garden room....This garden room, solid and spacious, was built at right angles to the front of her house, and looked straight down the very interesting street which debouched at its lower end into the High Street of Tilling....from a side window of the garden room...she could sit quite close to that, for it was screened by the large-leaved branches of a fig tree and she could spy unseen.

...There was little that concerned the social movements of Tilling that could not be proved, or at least reasonably conjectured, from Miss Mapp's eyrie. Just below her house on the left stood Major Flint's residence, of Georgian red brick like her own, and opposite was that of Captain Puffin. They were both bachelors, though Major Flint was generally supposed to have been the hero of some amazingly amorous adventures in early life, and always turned the subject with great abruptness when anything connected with duelling was mentioned....

...And only last week, being plucked from slumber by some unaccountable indigestion (for which she blamed a small green apple), she had seen at no less than twelve thirty in the morning the lights in Captain Puffin's sitting room still shining through the blind. This had excited her so much that at risk of toppling into the street, she had craned her neck from her window, and observed a similar illumination at the house of Major Flint. They were not together then, for in that case any prudent householder (and God knew that they both of them scraped and saved enough, or, if He didn't know, Miss Mapp did) would have quenched his own lights, if he were talking to his friend in his friend's house.

The next night, the pangs of indigestion having completely vanished, she set her alarm clock at the same timeless hour, and had observed exactly the same phenomenon. Such late hours, of course, amply accounted for these late breakfasts; but why, so Miss Mapp pithily asked herself, why these late hours?

...Miss Mapp had a mind that was incapable of believing the improbable....

[end Excerpt]
{Miss Mapp, by E.F. Benson, Copyright
1922. George H. Doran Company.}


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

dulled, pummeled, and badgered -- oh my

A guy named Carne Ross wrote in the Huffington Post the following:

----------------------- [quote from article] -- [The last line is the most important]: The political methods of the 20th century are, it appears, less and less effective for the world of the 21st.

The nature of globalization is without precedent: accelerating interconnectedness, with billions of people interacting constantly in a massive, dynamic, and barely comprehensible process.

Yet the assumption persists that the political processes and institutions designed in the 20th century, or earlier, remain appropriate and effective in this profoundly different state of affairs. In fact it appears that the ability of national governments and international authorities to manage the severe problems arising from this new dispensation are declining, despite their claims to the contrary.

...Effects in the real world should be the test...
Experts say that the internationally-agreed Basel III rules to reduce risky banking practice are insufficient, and they are already being watered down by banks’ lobbying. …

At home, democracy has been subverted. Corporations donate copiously to both parties to insure their influence. Politicians initiate legislation in order to extract rents from big business. Private prison owners lobby for longer sentences. There are now lobbying organizations representing the interests of lobbyists.

There is a more pernicious consequence of the repetitive but tenuous claims to effectiveness made by the practitioners of conventional politics and government: everyone else is dulled into stupefied inaction. If “the authorities” claim to be on top of these problems, what does it matter what we do? …
We have been pummeled into a kind of dazed apathy, endlessly badgered by politicians that they can fix it, when in fact we are the most potent agents of change.----------------------- [end excerpt, Huffington Post, Dec. 12, 2011]

And -- the last line is the most important.

He followed that up with an article telling the reader how he can be a "potent agent of change" -- a list of nine or ten things, and Voting was not even in the list.

There goes my whole world view...
(More music -- fudge -- eeehhgh...)


Monday, December 12, 2011

if you try sometimes

You can't always get what you want

You can't always get what you want

You can't always get what you want

But if you try sometimes well -
you just might find ...

You get what you need
Oh -- yeah...

Mick! Keith! What do those lyrics mean? I'm going to have to take them to mean --
that since cannot find anything under 700 !(*%^#^#@! dollars to
-- even Manual Typewriters -- anything that's gonna work is 700$$ & less expensive ones aren't real --

I'm gonna take the "you can't always get what you want" lyrics to mean:
I have to keep writing, pen and paper longhand, and
FORGET about ever having anything at home to type stuff and print it out on.
I am so tired.

A person can write out their book in long-hand and send it to an agent, but -- by today's standards, they're not going to look at it, everybody expects everyone to be able to afford a computer in every room. They aren't going to accept the fact that a lot of people can't afford a computer --or even a typewriter -- & don't have a way to get their story typed. They're never going to understand that or give a rat's ass & will never read what I send them.

(Of course they don't look at the typed ones either, so --.)

You can only get published if your work is shown to the publisher by an agent and you can only ever get an agent if you're already published, prosperous, and famous, one of those doomed, round-in-a-circle, chicken-egg Things.

I wish I had never seen the free computer, it only made me realize how hopeless my goals are.

On bright side -- some guys I work with got the free computer -- (they don't need to print!), they are happy, and -- I made fudge.


Thursday, December 8, 2011

"extreme" typing

(oh my goodness)
Did not realize how very much I
Manual Typewriter
until discovered how incredibly difficult / impossible / Aaaauuugggghhhh!
it is to match a printer to what Computerhumans call

"an outdated operating system."
(Yuh--from last spring...(!!!) sorry for doing such a Silly Thing as trying to get printer for computer from -- like -- last weekend...[!]
ok it's older than that but come on...!!!!)

Local store person assures me I can get an XP tower and a printer that will "communicate with" it for a amount which is -- more money than the whole shebang costs at Walmart --
the precise amount of money which is Too Much...erk, mmrrmphgughqx @#%%#@!

may go another route: I learned to type -- (touch system, no looking at keys) ON a "Manual Typewriter" so long ago freaking Nixon was president (wage and price controls) --
did it then, can do it now dammit
-- and they (the manual typewriters) are -- floating out there -- on the internet ocean -- in space -- near the Sea of Tranquility --
at prices from $10 to $650.

($25 - $85)...
we are

Am tired of all this -- everything's-outdated-so-fast-to-keep-you-buying new
and thus-churning-money-through-economy-which-benefits-someone-somewhere-but-not-me-far-as-I-can-tell:

By going with a Manual Typewriter,
(I'm guessing)
helping the Environment, in some way -- would like to believe. ...Hmmm...

The Smith Corona Classic 12!
The Vintage Royal Aristocrat...
The Smith Corona Sterling...!
The Smith Corona Super Sterling...

Do not possess internet at home.
Wish to do "production typing."
Think circumstances have led (or pushed?) me to correct decision...
OMG, am psyched.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011


"May the authorities grow like onions with their heads in the ground!" is an off-the-cuff curse tossed out by an Anatevka villager in Fiddler On The Roof.

The men stand in a group, around a wagon, talking. The news-bringing guy comes over with a long sheet -- "In a village called [something-or-other] all the Jews were forced to leave."

They stand in intimidated stressful awe.
"For what reason?"
"Doesn't say. Maybe the tsar wanted the land. Maybe a plague."

"May the tsar have his own personal plague!" one cries.
All together: "Amen!" And they all turn away and spit.

More discussion.
News guy: "I don't know any more than that. An edict from the authorities."

"May the authorities grow like onions, with their heads in the ground!"


takes place during the last gasp of tsarist Russia right before the communist revolution (1917...?)...
talk about out of frying pan & into fire...
Tsarist Russia was a lousy place to live for many of the people -- that's why they got the energy for a revolution -- then the communists were just as bad or worse...
when I was in elementary school my piano teacher told me that Russian music is often in a minor key because "the people over there haven't had very much to be happy about."

I was thinking about the scene with these grown-up, hard-working, devoutly religious villagers -- cursing the "authorities" - ! (I was taught, "The policeman is your friend.") ...but in a society, and system, where the actual authorities misbehave and persecute, and it's the authorities you have to be afraid of more than actual criminals -- that's a whole dysfunctional & corrupt system.

Traditionally we think we're safe from that type of scenario in America, because we live in a democracy and the authorities are the "good guys."


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

facets of publicity

One evening a few weeks ago I discovered -- stumbled upon, completely by accident -- an article in a trade journal about the company where I work.

("This article stars us! Wow, Yay!")

Not like being in The New York Times or national magazine or something, but it's still -- An Article About Us!

So I was showing the article to people who work here -- one man sat down and read the entire article carefully. When he finished he said, with skeptical smile and some gentle doubt in his voice, "Well -- they make it all -- sound -- very -- Good..."

Another man, as I held out the magazine open to the article-about-us page, glanced at the full-page photo of a corporate executive & walked away: "rh-rh-rhrhrhnahru-read-about-him...he doesn't even know who-I-am...!"

A third worker responded to that, later, with a judiciously enunciated, thoughtfully spoken sentence: "I've always found, that if the -- top guy -- doesn't know you, ... that's a good thing."

Some of the people we work with speak only a small amount of English -- when I showed the magazine article to people, those who had the least understanding of what it was, seemed to be the most impressed ...

Standing in my office with my "find" -- the exciting, interesting, surprising magazine article, I had not predicted any of those reactions. ...


Monday, December 5, 2011

...when unchecked

"Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."
-- WINSTON CHURCHILL, speech, Nov. 11, 1947

"The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment."

"Democracy is when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers."

"Democracy is a charming form of government, full of variety and disorder, and dispensing a sort of equality to equals and unequal alike."


God's hand, like a sign-board, is pointing toward democracy, and saying to the nations of the earth, "This is the way: walk ye in it."
-- HENRY WARD BEECHER, Proverbs from Plymouth Pulpit

"Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"

"Although our interests as citizens vary, each one is an artery to the heart that pumps life through the body politic, and each is important to the health of democracy."
-- BILL MOYERS, The Nation, Jan. 22, 2007

"The sides are being divided now. It’s very obvious. So if you’re on the other side of the fence, you’re suddenly anti-American. Its breeding fear of being on the wrong side. Democracy’s a very fragile thing. You have to take care of democracy. As soon as you stop being responsible to it and allow it to turn into scare tactics, it’s no longer democracy, is it? It’s something else. It may be an inch away from totalitarianism."
-- SAM SHEPARD, The Village Voice, Nov. 12, 2004

"There can be no daily democracy without daily citizenship."

"The ballot is stronger than the bullet."

-- ABRAHAM LINCOLN, speech, May 19, 1856

"The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter."


"Democracy becomes a government of bullies tempered by editors."


"Remember, democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet that did not commit suicide. It is in vain to say that democracy is less vain, less proud, less selfish, less ambitious, or less avaricious than aristocracy or monarchy. It is not true, in fact, and nowhere appears in history. Those passions are the same in all men, under all forms of simple government, and when unchecked, produce the same effects of fraud, violence, and cruelty."

-- JOHN ADAMS, letter to John Taylor, 1814


Friday, December 2, 2011

a proper blessing

Rabbi, may I ask you a question?

Certainly, Leibesh.

Is there a proper blessing...for the Tzar?

A blessing for the Tzar?
Of course.
May God bless and keep the Tzar --
far -- away - from us!

[Fiddler On The Roof]


Thursday, December 1, 2011

work to live, or live to work?

[excerpt, Rybczynski]---------------------
What is the meaning of the weekday-weekend cycle? Is it yet another symptom of the standardization and bureaucratization of everyday life that social critics such as Lewis Mumford or Jacques Ellul have warned about? Is the weekend merely the cunning marketing ploy of a materialist culture, a device to increase consumption? Is it a deceptive placebo to counteract the boredom and meaninglessness of the workplace?

Or is this the heralded Leisure Society? If so, it is hardly what was anticipated. The decades leading up to the 1930s saw a continuing reduction in the number of hours in the workweek -- from sixty to fifty to thirty-five. There was every reason to think that this trend would continue and workdays would grow shorter and shorter. This, and massive automation, would lead to what was then starting to be referred to as "universal leisure."

Not everyone agreed that this would be a good thing; there was much speculation about what people would do with their new-found freedom, and some psychologists worried that universal leisure would really mean universal boredom. Hardly, argued the optimists; it would provide opportunities for self-improvement, adult education, and a blossoming of the creative arts. Others were less sanguine about the prospects for creative ease in a society that had effectively glorified labor, and argued that Americans lacked the sophistication and inner resources to deal with a life without work.

All this has called into question the traditional relationship between leisure and work, a relationship about which our culture has always been ambivalent. ...The Aristotelian view that the goal of life is happiness, and that leisure, as distinguished from amusement and recreation, is the state necessary for its achievement.

"It is commonly believed that happiness depends on leisure," Aristotle wrote in his Ethics, "because we occupy ourselves so that we may have leisure, just as we make war in order that we may live at peace." ...

Opposed to this is the more modern (so-called Protestant) work ethic that values labor for its own sake, and sees its reduction -- or, worse, its elimination -- as an unthinkable degradation of human life.

"There is no substitute for work except other serious work," wrote Lewis Mumford, who considered that meaningful work was the highest form of human activity and who once went so far as to liken the abolition of work to a malignant Final Solution.

According to this view, work should be its own reward, whether it is factory work, housework, or a workout. Leisure, equated with idleness, is suspect; leisure without toil, or disconnected from it, is altogether sinister. The weekend is not free time but break time -- an intermission.
------------------- [end excerpt]

{Waiting for the Weekend, by Witold Rybczynski.
Copyright 1991. Penguin Books, New York.}