Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tout De Suite, Too Sweet

I bought some cheap generic Pop Tarts recently. I knew what I was getting myself into, but I regret it anyway. I usually have a big mug of coffee in the morning, and I'll put either four or five sugar cubes in there. Consequently, it's rather sweet. I may start using fewer cubes, now that I think about it, which may help out. As it is, though, I can't bear to eat something sweet like the Pop Tarts (which I may as well call them instead of the proper term).

Every now and then, I'll cheap out and buy them anyway instead of the hash browns I prefer. The result is not pleasant. I wind up nauseated well into the afternoon, or whenever I manage to cleanse the palate by eating lunch. Probably I'm setting myself up for terrible health problems down the line, but even I am sensible enough not to do this too often. It's just now and then that I make the bad decision (or worse decision, considering that hash browns are none to healthful anyway).

Monday, July 30, 2012

Remembering When

The 2012 Summer Games in London have begun, and I'm not too cool to watch. I enjoy the Olympics quite a bit, really. You can rely on me writing about them as they go, though I wouldn't get my hopes up about specifics from the events day to day. No, I'm more of an unbalanced George Will: I never have played the sports myself but love chattering on and on about deeper meaning and peripheral societal issues that the games touch on.
I was thinking about how the Olympics serve well to mark time. Setting aside the Winter Games, we are left with an extravaganza that takes place once every four years, and it's indelible enough of a memory each time that you can remember a lot of the circumstances in which each one happened. I can only go back so far myself. For me it starts with the games of Barcelona, but my memories of that are admittedly hazy, as I was just a boy in 1992. I remember the Dream Team well enough, but it more or less ends there.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Curse Of King Dewey

In that famous story of King Midas, he is gifted with the power of turning anything he touches to gold. He winds up turning his own flesh and blood to gold, and it's supposed to be a really tragic story, although he dodges a few bullets that aren't to be mentioned in polite society. Sometimes I feel something like the king, except with something either more valuable than gold or a lot less valuable than it, depending on how you measure.

It's books. I love reading, but there's something in it that is enough to drive me out of my mind. There are too many books out there. I'll never read them all, no matter how much I apply myself to the task, and then there are the magazines and online stuff. It's necessary to forget about that stuff. I wish that, in clamping down on the flow of such thoughts, I could likewise stop the torrent of books coming my way.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bridge The Gap

A consequence of getting up properly in the morning, as I hope I am still doing by the time you read this, is that you experience a drop in energy in mid-afternoon rather than six in the morning (at which time you finally get to bed). Knowing this, I finally understand the quandary described by those poorly-made commercials for little tiny energy drinks that often run when I am watching television programming for "the youth segment".

The natural impulse is to take a nap. Naps have always been trouble for me. I can't do some twenty minute cat nap. That's really not productive for me, although I've heard other others getting good results. They probably don't have the anxiety issues that I have when they start upon that nap. I can't take a nap unless I can afford to stay asleep until such time as I wake up naturally. That could be hours, you see?

Friday, July 27, 2012

Portion Control

I have a hell of a time restraining myself from eating too much. Many would say that in admitting that I am just declaring what is already evident: that I am an American. Americans have an unfortunate reputation now for being mindless consumers, for growing ever more corpulent at the same time that so many wither away to nothing for want of enough to eat. All that is true, and I'd change about myself that inability to help myself, but there it is.

I always start off with the best of intentions, buying so many hash browns, so many cans of things and the materials for so many sandwiches and fully intending to make them last. I'll say to myself that the plan is to have a cup of coffee, two hash browns, a sandwich, a soda, a can of ravioli and nothing else each day. That in itself would sound like enough, or even too much. I have seldom had much luck in holding to it.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

O-Key Do-Key

I added another key to my keychain lately, which I admit is a rather mundane thing to report. One has to find a way of balancing remarkable events with universal themes, and I have to admit that in this case I may have blown it, but perhaps you'll disagree with me and say that I've done very well. That happens often enough. Anyway, I've got this additional key on my keychain, and it's beginning to get a little crowded.

It wouldn't be so bad if I didn't have a multitool and a bottle opener on there, to say nothing of the many little plastic things that obtain discounts from stores in exchange for exploitation of my purchasing history. What do you call those things- fobs? If so, that's a shorter, less loaded name. They're a big contributor to the crowding of my keychain. That new key wouldn't even fit on the chain properly. I have it hanging off an intermediary loop.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Drama In The Arts District

It's really something what you'll see if you hang around and watch. It's particularly interesting to me what you'll see on your very own residential sides street if you just linger for a few minutes, but no one really does that except for me. Be it the middle of a working day or the middle of the night, remarkable things happen. They are just rather subtle and go unnoticed by most people. I try as hard as I can to notice them.

A week or so ago, I saw a real human drama playing out before me. Most people think they have to watch reality television for the illusion of one, or else be branded a peeper for looking into someone's home, but there are real stories illuminating the human condition right there on those neighborhood streets, with one possible exception being the streets in rich neighborhoods where no one ever walks even a little.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

What She Is Is Not

Yesterday I spoke of the neighbors' dog Gretta, and observed in discussing my larger point about her value as a listener that she has an expressive face. I think she does. She has a pretty big face anyway, and so in addition to her expressiveness she has the laudable quality of not being able to slip out of her collar the way my father's old dog Jack used to be able to do. The face, though, may be not as expressive as I think.

The human brain does a lot of things in order to make a senseless world seem sensible. It will always try to make what you see match up with what you hear, for example. It also takes something you don't understand well, such as a dog, and make it seem like something you do understand a little, like a person. Gretta is a good example. I don't truly know what's going on in her head, or what makes her do what she does. My brain tries to convince me otherwise.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Sessions

I spoke yesterday of trying to talk the neighbors' dog Gretta out of fighting with other dogs when I walk her. Of course, I don't think she understands the words, but the tone of voice I use can't help but make an impression. She repays me for talking to her by listening. Good listeners are rare, and they tend to be among the most helpful when one is working through problems or feelings. I always think of Carson McCullers' book "The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter", where that is the central conceit.

Gretta will listen all day long, and I take advantage, because most people I talk to insist on having their say from time to time. Gretta never does. In truth, I don't know that I've really even heard her bark. She has an expressive face though. Anyway, I talk to her through most walks. A lot of people listen to music while walking a dog, but I think that would be rude. I wouldn't do that with a person, and I treat dogs like people since it's too hard to learn more than one way of treating anyone or anything.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Many Enemies (But Not Sea Anemones)

Yes, here is another item about the neighbors' dog Gretta. You may recall that yesterday I spoke of her eagerness to kill (or to love) a squirrel. She seems to have a lot of adversaries out there. She must be a terribly self-hating creature, because it's not humans who are the problem, although it is humans who most fear her wrath. I don't fault them, really. When a man who looks like me is walking a pit bull looking like her, it's natural to assume I'm her dog-fighting trainer and the walk is part of her regimen.

Really, she loves people. and can in fact be too demonstrative of that fact, considering peoples' fears. Her enemies are chiefly the other dogs out there, and I dread the inevitable passing of two ships in the night every time I spot someone else walking a dog in the opposite direction that I am. I imagine they feel likewise. Actually, if it's an attractive woman walking the other dog, I'm not so sorry for the flash, but that is rare.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Climbing The Ladder

One of the things that motivates the neighbors' dog Gretta to attain a high level of energy is a foe. She hates the squirrels in the park, or she loves them. Either way, the feelings are strong enough that she wants very badly to get close to one, and I must report that my attempts to defuse the situation by relating a story about how I've heard that Germans cannot pronounce the English word 'squirrel' are invariably unsuccessful.

Her efforts are futile, of course. If she ever comes across a squirrel whose first instinct is not to ascend a tree, she will be fully ready to take advantage of the situation, however I cannot imagine that this is terribly likely, and if it is then the squirrel will probably be visibly diseased. I will then be forced to step in and be the bad guy who denies Gretta her long-awaited shot at a squirrel. I do not relish the idea of getting between her and her prey.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Doing Work

Yesterday I renewed the story of walking the neighbors' dog Gretta, and there is a deep well of stories and thoughts for which that experience is a catalyst. I spoke yesterday of motivating and cajoling her into walking, and that can be a real workout. It's worth noting that I do not exercise in any conventional sense, and so practical activities such as walking to the store or running to catch the bus are essential to my health.

Thank goodness then that I have the opportunity to walk Gretta, because even if she and I were of the same mind about when to go and when to stop, I'd still have that time walking. We are not of the same mind, however. She brings to mind a work acquaintance from summer camp who was none too eager to be outdoors or to exert himself. On a walk along the rim of the Grand Canyon, we would always be running ahead to render the next bench unusable, so as to keep him moving.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Push & Pull

You may recall from last month (although I doubt it) that I have been occasionally walking the neighbors' dog when they are away for too long. I then characterized my role as being the fun uncle who swoops in briefly to spoil his young charges before restoring them to the responsible parents. I also outlined my selfish interest in using the dog, called Gretta, as bait in a lady trap. That was the extent of my thinking at the time, more or less.

There's so much more, though! Rest assured, you will hear it all before I am through. Something that occurs to me today is a condition which once saved my family's old dog Jack from having to go on regular hikes: laziness. Actually, as we obtained no professional diagnosis I can't say there was nothing wrong with him beyond attitude, but the result was the same: he showed little natural enthusiasm for walking the trail after an initial period of novelty, and could not be induced by any method to move easily.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Two Days To Die For

The past couple of days have really been something. I hope I can duplicate them in perpetuity, and I'm sure that you will easily see why when I describe them in broad strokes. They've been productive days, and while this is partly explained by the fact that I got up at a decent hour in spite of having no early engagements, that can hardly explain it entirely. I suspect that there may be something supernatural at work here, or something religious.

 Yesterday I woke up at a tolerable hour of the morning, although by no means what most people would call an exceptionally early one. Let's just say that it was in the morning, and I think that's enough. The big thing that I managed to achieve was over on the Twitter end, where I got ahead of the day's work for the first time in a while. I was awfully proud of myself for getting to work during the morning and afternoon, when I actually do my best work.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Be Good Neighbors

It's a funny thing, this terrible fear that's been stricken into us about all the bees dying. I understand in a rational way the danger that there is of everything being adversely affected by the loss of bees. The bees are the glue holding together all the flowers, trees and crops, or so I understand. I would hate for all of that to fall  apart, and yet I don't know how sorry I would be, in a purely emotional sense, that the bees would no longer be around.

I grew up with the understanding that I was severely allergic to bees, and the one or two times that I was stung brought forth prodigious swelling and reddening of the skin. It was unpleasant, but the main effect of it was the fear that I felt about them all the time, and this was a crippling, paralyzing fear if a bee came near and, God forbid, alighted somewhere on my person. It was worst if it landed right there on my glasses where it couldn't be closer and yet couldn't be observed either.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Learning Is Dumb

I mentioned yesterday, I think, that I visited a showing of rock and roll photography. There was a lot there that I liked, and yet there was something rather repellent to me. It really was fascinating to see all of the pictures and to get some background on them, and yet there was an attitude pervasive through the gallery that I didn't care for. What it amounted to was a high-minded, philosophical tone that I don't think fits well with that sort of music.

 The way I think is well-encapsulated by the Rolling Stones song "It's Only Rock And Roll (But I Like It)." Rock is not the music of the cultured ivory tower elites. It's supposed to be a thumb in their eye. When academic types start talking about what it all means, that's rock getting co-opted, and you can be sure then that it's not long for this world in its true form. That's what bothers me about all the analysis. It doesn't sound much like it's in the spirit of the music.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Lie

There are a lot of reasons to lie to someone. You might lie to impress someone, or to elicit sympathy. You might lie for personal gain in any number of forms, the reduction of one's taxes being a classic example. Those are obvious reasons behind which there is understandable logic, if not any other admirable virtues. I find that there are more unfathomable reasons for lying, and I wind up using those more than the other.

I will sometimes lie by omission, bluffing my way through a discussion of a film because I neglected at the very outset to declare that I had not seen it. In that, coming clean becomes harder the further you go, and yet there are no truly negative consequences to it. It really is not a rational act, but then there seem to be fewer of those all the time. I would hardly hope that we should turn the tide in the area of deceit before anything else.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Incident On Fifth Street

My hair has begun to arouse some interest, as I believe I have mentioned here once or twice. By and large, it draws female attention, which is fine by me. The mustache does me no favors in that area. Women like the hair plenty, usually being courteous enough to ask before touching it. Not everyone is accommodating with that, but I am. Of course, there are exceptions about who is interested. It's not always women, and it was not a women the other night.

I was downtown, returning home from a friend's performance. On my way to the subway station from there, I passed by some club with crowds of people outside. I never have been much for places that make you wait in line hoping to give them business, but these people were fine with that. In any event, I heard a guy say something that I assume was about me, and I think it was reasonable to do so. Perhaps you will disagree, but then you were not there.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Marginalized By The Marginalized

As I write this, the big Comic-Con event is going on down in San Diego. It is something like Super Bowl Sunday for people who I have always understood to be known as geeks. People will often say "nerd" instead, but to me the two are quite distinct and I don't know how they come to be conflated. A nerd is someone who is exceptionally adept at things like science, math and the like. A geek is someone with an inordinate enthusiasm for almost anything, comic books being a classic example.

Of course, Comic-Con now encompasses virtually anything with at least a tenuous connection to comics, but that's not really what interests me. It's the status of geeks in society, and that of what they love. Stuff that once existed on the margins is now very prominent, and geeks allegedly are no longer excluded from society or subject to the same sort of ill treatment that they once were. I don't exactly know how true that is.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

I'm A Dog

I have said to people on any number of occasions that a dog will ultimately eat whatever you give it, provided you wait the dog out. The dog may want the good stuff in a can, but he'll eat the cheap dry stuff if that's all he sees in the bowl for long enough. No dog will starve out of principle, it seems to me. Now, I never have been met with agreement on that. Dog owner or not, people will chuckle at my naivete and set me straight on the nature of a dog. I'm used to that on most subjects.

I am like the dog that I envision in that ultimately I will compromise. In a truly equal scenario, I will eat what I have when I am hungry enough. There is no value in upholding my standards of food, as if I had any to speak of. I start off eating the things I have that I like, and if I don't wind up getting more of that in time, I'll start eating the things that aren't too bad but entail a lot of work, and then I'll eat the terrible stuff. It's just a matter of time.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Aiding And Abetting

In my neighborhood, like in so many urban neighborhoods across the country, there are pigeons. They are unpleasant, although they could be worse here than they are. The do not maraud or lay down coats of excrement to a really gratuitous degree. Still, they are far worse than they could be as well, since I don't see any reason for them to be here at all, nearly. Certainly under natural circumstances the place is not really hospitable to them.

Here is where the human element comes in. I don't get some people. You'll see how someone risked their life or even died to save a cat that wandered into the road, and just what is the upshot of such heroics? A mean, amorous night-owl of a cat that draws breath for another day. It's a similar story with the pigeons. They are loathsome creatures, and yet someone feeds them- desires that they hang around here!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Getting Sappy

I've written about the radio before. You may recall my excitement over buying a radio at a thrift store and wondered why even after reading what I had to say. Well, I don't suppose readers already acquainted with the radio wondered, given that some probably are better acquainted than I. Well, the radio does fall short of its online competitors in many respects these days, but it can never be beaten in other ways.

If at night I turn on the radio, turn off the lights and draw open the blinds, the wonder of the radio becomes evident. The radio doesn't speed through a lot of cables, but rather flies through the sky where one's radio may yank it down to the level of mere humans. It's better even than a wifi signal which is confined the immediate area of buildings, and which is a lot of indeterminate data anyway. They're allowed to boost signal strength at night, extending the reach of far-flung stations.

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Real Downer

I can't believe that I have not addressed a particular grievance connected to death and celebrities. I've gone into my problems with poorly-composed obituaries, and I've brought up my issues with celebrity birthdays (post-mortem ones included), but somehow I may have neglected to write anything about a real bother: I just can't stand the fixation people have on celebrity deaths any longer. It was something that I was as much into as anyone when younger, but at my present level of maturity I can't bear it.

Death is a horrible but inevitable, immutable part of life. Everyone around us passes, and then we go ourselves. Each loss is a hard, brutal, traumatic experience, and we do our best to be of comfort to one another while trying to pick up the pieces and make sense of it all for ourselves. For my own part, this is something that I scarcely have it in myself to do for those who I care about the most, but them I always have been odd.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

I Know What I Like

A number of my friends enjoy going to art galleries from time to time. I can take or leave it, but tend to take it because I enjoy spending time with my friends. I can leave it because the art on display seldom does much for me. I don't know that there's much to be said except that. I think a lot of the art is not very good, and trades more than anything on provocation. A lot of it derives from existing pop culture creations, which I don't care for much.

I should say that some of that latter material is very good, and that I don't know why a gifted artist would let their creation speak for some blockbuster movie instead of for them. That's a side issue, though. The point is that I can get very bored at some of these galleries, or I could if it weren't for the people.  Thank goodness for the people, because I tend to not get myself entangled in the wine and liquor that is such a hazard in a crowded gallery of well-appointed, fashionable types.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

The Key For Me

My hair continues to gain lady admirers, while my mustache remains tolerated at best and at worst a magnet for compliments from guys who I don't imagine I'd like if I got to know them. Let's focus on the hair. I've gone over this ground before, but I do not tire of it. My hair moves people, and women particularly. Many wish to touch it, and generally they are considerate enough to ask first. Perhaps they are used to unwanted touching themselves.

I tend to consent. I let the ladies touch my hair, though I caution them that they might get lost in there. I also usually am agreeable to having my picture taken, although I wonder sometimes just in what spirit the desire for a picture may be. I would like for it to be real affection or admiration, but I can well imagine how it could be a matter of irony or ridicule. Who knows what caption they might choose to put with a picture of me?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Digging Deep Just Before Sleep

We don't have the ability to travel through time, or at least we can't do that in any true, meaningful way. I've never been much for the notion of traveling forward in real time, or in the idea of the planet Earth as being a spacecraft of sorts. Those are cop-outs. Still, there are those things that feel like space travel, or like I began, like time travel. Opening a time capsule is something like that, if we assume that the past was damp and moldy.

My work area here in the "home office" is like traveling through time. I have a square table in one corner bracketed by two computer desks (which are for my laptop and desktop). Each of the three pieces of furniture enumerated becomes covered in layers of detritus of varying origins and grades of value. The whole space becomes like an archaeological dig, with strings and markers demarcating alone the lines of the above categories.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Look Inside

Writing for this blog is harder than it used to be. It's hard to believe that I started it as far back as 2009, but there it is. At that time, I had considerably less going on in life, and relatively few people to do that stuff with. I was not trying to write anything but this, and in fact had few outlets for creativity. Now I work on short items for Twitter as well as comedy sketches and the odd song (although I cannot write the music for those, of course).

As a consequence, this blog has changed in some ways. Titles which previously were wordy and heavily dependent on wordplay and referential humor now are terribly austere and basic. That's not bad, I suppose. I would like to think that I have it in me to achieve plenty in few words when I put my mind to it, and I appreciate deadpan humor that is short on words but long on commitment enough that I strive to improve at it.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Love USA

Today being Independence Day, my mind turns to previous incidences of the same. It seems to me that there are three real traditions involved. There are, of course, the fireworks. There are the sanctioned displays, but those are a little less fun in that they are remote to you, and it is significant that there is no danger involved in the handling of the fireworks by professionals. The prospect of gruesome injury definitely adds some flavor, awful though it might be.

There is the food, of course. People are apt to conflate barbecues with cookouts. The majority of people are at cookouts, regardless of what they say or think. Burgers and hot dogs are not a barbecue. Brats are not even a barbecue. Actual barbecue makes a barbecue. That's things like ribs and pulled pork. I have been at few true barbecues if any. That's not the say that cookouts are unpleasant. They are awesome, but I know them for what they are.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Rough Justice

A friend and I went over to the grocery store to pick up some things for ourselves, and in that there is nothing remarkable. It might have been something else if we had been buying things for somebody else or for each other, but we were there for very conventional reasons: we were hungry. Well, there would be nothing to write about if not for something that I saw on the way out of the place, which was the dog tied up outside.

As it was an evening in southern California, the weather was most agreeable for a dog to be outside. This was not a case of animal neglect or cruelty, as there was nothing to suggest that the dog was any less happy than if he had been home or romping in the park. Being so near to a lot of food, he might have been even more happy than under normal circumstances. No, he was doing just fine for himself there.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Hero Of Whole Cloth

I have to be thankful for my friend Marcus, who bestowed upon me the true, unheralded workhorse of my wardrobe. It's a gray suit that I don't think I ever anticipated getting a lot of use. I suppose that at that time I didn't think so much of my chances for advancing any in society. I was sort of an Eliza Doolittle who stumbled upon a dress that served as an inanimate Henry Higgins. I'll stress though that we're talking about a suit- a grey suit.

The pants are needed on a relatively infrequent basis, but that jacket goes with so much. It's not an obviously neutral color, but it goes with everything just as black or white does. That's my opinion. If I didn't have it, I wouldn't have been able to tie together the bunch of almost-suitable shirts, pairs of pants and accessories. It performs miracles as far as I am concerned, and it had better: outside of that, I have only my funeral/wedding suit.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Reading, Musing

Some books take me a while to read. Naturally, those would be the longer and denser ones. I presently have a real logjam in my reading material, and partly to blame was a collection of Hemingway's short stories. After some nine weeks, I finally finished the bunch of them, and began getting to some things that had piled up in the meantime. There was "Car", by Harry Crews. That was a quick read, although dense enough to slow me down a bit.

Immediately after that was the longer but easier "Hunger Games". It's interesting when a young adults title will achieve mainstream success. I've read the last few to manage this, and it's fun to zip through their simple prose after wading through some difficult book for adults. I don't mean to knock the books for younger readers, because I like them enough to read them and finish them, but they are no challenge, that's for sure. It's just that it's like running with rocks in my pockets and then dumping them out to run some more.