"It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Bloviation)"

0tr1shc1n

“There is great embarrassment all around as everyone realizes that I am not the kind of speaker they were expecting, and this is not the kind of event they thought they were in for. Swiftly and quietly, everyone starts to leave.My humiliation at this misunderstanding is matched only by my relief.” From Imposter Syndrome by Tom Slee

We failed to be dynamic.

Last winter we were in a tryout for being the keynote harbingers of disruption at a five-day conference. We didn’t know it at the time. In fact we only found out what it was all about in an email that arrived several days later. This week the conference came and went. Mom noticed something go by on Twitter on the last day of the conference. She followed the link to the conference site, looked it over, and said, “Guess we never made the cut.”

Not that we were holding our breath. After all it was a strange little meeting. We had coffee with another couple who turned out to be the organizers who were nice enough people despite being terribly enthusiastic about every little thing. If memory serves (and if not I’m going with the odds) I showered and brushed my teeth prior to the meeting while Mom put on her best bidness suit. We spoke in measured tones, going with dry wit over jokiness. By the end we had circled around to make sure we’d hit our talking points by giving a brief summary.

When all was said and done there was no question that we are every bit as reliable and utilitarian as the rinse cycle. If you had been there you would most likely come away with the impression that we’re two middle age people with a nearly grown offspring, a house full of IKEA furniture, and a cat.

But dynamic?

Beyond our WOW!! factor going AWOL there is the small problem of not being able coming off like a pundit which brings us to Henry Farrell. A short time ago he wrote a rather long article entitled The Tech Intellectuals: The Good, Bad, and Ugly Among Our New Breed of Cyber-critics, and the Economic Imperatives That Drive Them which pretty much a primer on becoming the kind of dynamic, disruption-agent speaker conferences need.

He writes:

Technology intellectuals work in an attention economy. They succeed if they attract enough attention to themselves and their message that they can make a living from it. It’s not an easy thing to do: Most aspiring technology intellectuals fail, whether because of bad luck (academic research shows that the market for attention is highly chancy) or because the relevant audiences aren’t interested in hearing what they have to say. … To do well in this economy, you do not have to get tenure or become a contributing editor to The New Republic (although the latter probably doesn’t hurt). You just need, somehow, to get lots of people to pay attention to you. This attention can then be converted into more material currency. At the lower end, this will likely involve nothing more than invitations to interesting conferences and a little consulting money. In the middle reaches, people can get fellowships (often funded by technology companies), research funding, and book contracts. At the higher end, people can snag big book deals and extremely lucrative speaking engagements. These people can make a very good living from writing, public speaking, or some combination of the two. But most of these aspiring pundits are doing their best to scramble up the slope of the statistical distribution, jostling with one another as they fight to ascend, terrified they will slip and fall backwards into the abyss. The long tail is swarmed by multitudes, who have a tiny audience and still tinier chances of real financial reward.

Which is not to say I haven’t done some public speaking. I was on a couple of panels long, long ago. At the end of one the organizers came up and said, “You were right, you really didn’t have anything to say.”

Hey – they were warned.

The topics were usually so many non sequiturs and the audience is little more than a herd of stalking horses. (Never mind that the topics are always the same and the expectation is that you’ll use a TED talk like rhythm when you speak.) When contacted I was honest about not liking the topics. That was followed by not guaranting that I would stay on those topics, and was very clear that I might use a few bad wurdz just to see if the audience was awake. Before I was done I made it very clear that they would not be pleased with the result.

But did they listen?

Initially – no, but as Mom says they eventually quit phoning “In that totally passive-agressive Seattle way.”

I’d like to think it was something I said. Nevertheless we somehow we manage to cope which we attribute to our rich inner lives that are always filled with danger and romance.

YMMV.

"It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Bloviation)"

0tr1shc1n

“There is great embarrassment all around as everyone realizes that I am not the kind of speaker they were expecting, and this is not the kind of event they thought they were in for. Swiftly and quietly, everyone starts to leave.My humiliation at this misunderstanding is matched only by my relief.” From Imposter Syndrome by Tom Slee

We failed to be dynamic.

Last winter we were in a tryout for being the keynote harbingers of disruption at a five-day conference. We didn’t know it at the time. In fact we only found out what it was all about in an email that arrived several days later. This week the conference came and went. Mom noticed something go by on Twitter on the last day of the conference. She followed the link to the conference site, looked it over, and said, “Guess we never made the cut.”

Not that we were holding our breath. After all it was a strange little meeting. We had coffee with another couple who turned out to be the organizers who were nice enough people despite being terribly enthusiastic about every little thing. If memory serves (and if not I’m going with the odds) I showered and brushed my teeth prior to the meeting while Mom put on her best bidness suit. We spoke in measured tones, going with dry wit over jokiness. By the end we had circled around to make sure we’d hit our talking points by giving a brief summary.

When all was said and done there was no question that we are every bit as reliable and utilitarian as the rinse cycle. If you had been there you would most likely come away with the impression that we’re two middle age people with a nearly grown offspring, a house full of IKEA furniture, and a cat.

But dynamic?

Beyond our WOW!! factor going AWOL there is the small problem of not being able coming off like a pundit which brings us to Henry Farrell. A short time ago he wrote a rather long article entitled The Tech Intellectuals: The Good, Bad, and Ugly Among Our New Breed of Cyber-critics, and the Economic Imperatives That Drive Them which pretty much a primer on becoming the kind of dynamic, disruption-agent speaker conferences need.

He writes:

Technology intellectuals work in an attention economy. They succeed if they attract enough attention to themselves and their message that they can make a living from it. It’s not an easy thing to do: Most aspiring technology intellectuals fail, whether because of bad luck (academic research shows that the market for attention is highly chancy) or because the relevant audiences aren’t interested in hearing what they have to say. … To do well in this economy, you do not have to get tenure or become a contributing editor to The New Republic (although the latter probably doesn’t hurt). You just need, somehow, to get lots of people to pay attention to you. This attention can then be converted into more material currency. At the lower end, this will likely involve nothing more than invitations to interesting conferences and a little consulting money. In the middle reaches, people can get fellowships (often funded by technology companies), research funding, and book contracts. At the higher end, people can snag big book deals and extremely lucrative speaking engagements. These people can make a very good living from writing, public speaking, or some combination of the two. But most of these aspiring pundits are doing their best to scramble up the slope of the statistical distribution, jostling with one another as they fight to ascend, terrified they will slip and fall backwards into the abyss. The long tail is swarmed by multitudes, who have a tiny audience and still tinier chances of real financial reward.

Which is not to say I haven’t done some public speaking. I was on a couple of panels long, long ago. At the end of one the organizers came up and said, “You were right, you really didn’t have anything to say.”

Hey – they were warned.

The topics were usually so many non sequiturs and the audience is little more than a herd of stalking horses. (Never mind that the topics are always the same and the expectation is that you’ll use a TED talk like rhythm when you speak.) When contacted I was honest about not liking the topics. That was followed by not guaranting that I would stay on those topics, and was very clear that I might use a few bad wurdz just to see if the audience was awake. Before I was done I made it very clear that they would not be pleased with the result.

But did they listen?

Initially – no, but as Mom says they eventually quit phoning “In that totally passive-agressive Seattle way.”

I’d like to think it was something I said. Nevertheless we somehow we manage to cope which we attribute to our rich inner lives that are always filled with danger and romance.

YMMV.

There but for the grace of God…

0ca1ts2

“It was Monday, March 9th in Los Angeles, the weather was cool. We were working the day watch out of burglary and auto theft. The boss is Captain Green.” – Joe Friday

“Never begin with the weather.” -Elmore Leonard

Somebody found half a cat.

The voice on the phone was calm and collected and the talking points were laid out cleanly – back half, Morris-the-cat colored, part of a red nylon collar was found nearby. The voice kept using the word “closure” as in, “If it were mine I’d want closure.” Eventually another voice came on the line and said, “If it were mine I’d want to know!” Then the two of them repeated themselves. It became countrapuntal, like something out of a performance piece or an old beatnik recitation.

“If it were mine, I’d want to know!”

“If it were mine I’d want closure.”

“If it were mine, I’d want to know!”

“If it were mine I’d want closure.”

After that went on for a couple of minutes it became obvious that the two of them needed some kind of closure as badly as the cat’s owner. After a few of these calls you pretty much know what to expect and when to expect it. You build up a body of knowledge of such things largely because you pick up the phone. There’s no shielding, no voice mail, no numbers press, you say, “Hello’ and the other party starts talking.

So I listen.

I used to listen and then apologize for things I didn’t do. The voice on the phone was hurt or outraged and had to let it out. When those calls come in now I just let people talk. I caught myself once and pulled up short of -almost- saying, “I’m sorry and it will never happen again.” Which isn’t something I can promise much less guarantee and it would only cause more hurt feelings in the long run and that would lead to phone calls and …

You can see where this is going.

All of which is my funny way of coming around to the topic of AOL’s content experiment and its recent round of mass layoffs. As downsizing goes it was a real neutron bomb.The infrastructure is still there, but all the people are gone and that lead to some heated discussion in the circles I travel in. Most of it centered around whether or not some of us not affiliated with the experiment should have been more hospitable to those who were. Some people have asked, “Do you empathize with these people?”

Well..

Given the high volume of people needing to talk to some one about whatever you have a tendency to glaze over large portions of it. When the questions finally hit closer to home you also become rather annoyed when the caller insists that you empathize with his or her side of things and not the opposition. Therefore I was more upset with the people who wanted an answer based solely on whether or not I was in agreement with their opinion of the experiment.

There were serious undertones of insecurity to be sensed in a few rounds of the discussion. But the people in the experiment made decisions during the lowest depth of the current recession. They went for a guaranteed paycheck over the uncertainty of starting your own business when their papers folded. Since 2009 they got pulled through the knothole more than once. We’ve been pulled a few ourselves, but they were very different knotholes. In the end we both look like wrecks.

At least we have that in common.

I really don’t have much to add to that.

Guess I’ll go sit by the phone.

Late to the Party

“With Facebook’s weakened stock price, I don’t think they would embark on some big multi-billion dollar acquisition spree. And even if they did, wouldn’t there be a bunch of new apps that would spring up in their place a year from now who would be declared “cool” by a bunch of teens and the press? Who among us last year was saying that WhatsApp, Pinterest and Snapchat were going to be pressuring Facebook for its cool factor? And it’s only been a year. What new companies are going to be threatening Facebook a year from now?” – Eric Jackson

0sm0k13

Very early in the week just past my original intent was to talk about how I put my FB page on hiatus for a few months. Until Wednesday or so I had amassed some articles and a rough theorem about the nature of social media. That changed when early on Wednesday morning a woman I see every so often said, “Hey there handsome!” while her gal pal shot me a wolf whistle. A few hours later it was suggested I rent an Iron Man costume to wear to a function later this summer, because as the woman running the meeting said, “You’d make it look manly!”

OK, that’s assuming you could let this thing out around the middle, but I’m still pretty sure that if that was possible I’d still look like a red and yellow pot belly stove.

But manly?

Even 30+ years ago no one used that word about me.

So what gives with all the attention?

It can’t be the Jovan Musk – I ran out of that while Carter was still president.

Invariably some one, usually male, asks, “Don’t they know you’re married?”

Yeah, all of ’em.

To recap – long ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, when I was still young I would go to parties and be mistaken for the furniture or a potted plant. Bars were no better as there was some unwritten rule that no one would speak to me unless it was related to their job. (That broke into two sections, “What are you having?” and “You done?” The word “another” was never spoken.) That changed when, also long ago, I met Mom (Above c. 1983-4) who on our second date said, “Take your clothes off. We’re getting in the shower. I got some soap that’s gonna go bad.” Immediately thereafter one thing lead to another and we bred successfully in captivity, which is Alaska Wolf Joe’s term for marriage. He also refers to the institution as a “hetero-normaitve legalism.”

But I digress.

Now and then some one asks if these women are being either ironic or sarcastic. Having known them for a few years they seem incapable of either trait so there’s little choice but to attribute all of this to their respective hot flashes. Mom disagrees with this theory and says it’s because I still have all my hair. As she has said, “Bald guys are OK if you want to look at the back of their head see if you put your lipstick on sideways or if you have food on your teeth. After that it gets all like whatever…”

And who are we to argue with that?

Our Common Ancestor: Paddy O'Piltdown

0b1kr

When the radical priest come to get me released we was all on the cover of Newsweek. – Bertolt Brecht

When, in 1879, Pope Leo XIII published his encyclical letter Aeterni Patris on the restoration of true Christian philosophy, he did so because he realized that unless there rise up strong Catholic philosophers willing to take on the philosophical challenges put forth by modern philosophy, countless souls would be deceived by the menacing errors that had sprung up since the time of the late Renaissance and René Descartes, and which were still threatening—perhaps then more than ever before—to undermine the intellec­tual and spiritual truths known by reason and divine revelation. Pope Leo recognized that the evils afflicting and endangering society at his time were due to the “false conclusions con­cerning divine and human things, which originated in the schools of [false] philoso­phy” and which had already been “accepted by the common consent of the masses.”Thus, the Pope set out to restore true Christian philosophy in the world by calling for a revival in the philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), for the common temporal good and the salvation of souls. In keeping with this spirit, and “for the refutation of pre­vailing errors,”we shall devote this study to exploring the philosophical wisdom of St. Thomas Aquinas and his legacy, and to applying it to the fundamental error in modern philoso­phy that has come to be known as the “critical problem”: the question of whether there exists anything outside of the knowing subject and, if so, whether there can be true knowledge of these things. Essentially originating with René Descartes (1596-1650), this critical problem has become so influential that any epistemologist, Thomistic or not, writing in the post-Cartesian era is now expected to analyze it, to comment on it, and perhaps even to use it as the starting point of his epistemological investigation. – Mario Derksen

So I lived my life alone, without anyone that I could really talk to, until I had an accident with my plane in the Desert of Sahara, six years ago. Something was broken in my engine. And as I had with me neither a mechanic nor any passengers, I set myself to attempt the difficult repairs all alone. It was a question of life or death for me: I had scarcely enough drinking water to last a week.
The first night, then, I went to sleep on the sand, a thousand miles from any human habitation. I was more isolated than a shipwrecked sailor on a raft in the middle of the ocean. Thus you can imagine my amazement, at sunrise, when I was awakened by an odd little voice. It said:”If you please– draw me a sheep!” from The Little Prince

Some of you have come here expecting a lengthy and overly sarcastic takedown of Dubya’s water-color selfies.

This is not the case. Rather what follows is a lengthy Lenten explanation of my resume as The World’s Worst Catholic.

When I am asked what religion I belong to I smile and very calmly say, as Spinoza was a secular Jew, I am a secular Rosicrucian. The response is calculated to either strike fear or spread confusion among those who bonsai’d their weltanschauung starting with human taxonomies. It may not be entirely accurate because the Rosicrucians, or at least the one running the cash register at the gift shop at their world HQ, claim that they are not a religion, but merely an explanation of a greater reality. I didn’t really doubt the guy as I saw no need in lying to me since I was buying two coffee cups and leaving a $20 for the upkeep of their amazing rose garden. Discretion being the better part of valor, I didn’t run out this bon mot when I found one of the local parish priests taking hold of my hand so the gathered could begin their event with the Our Father.

That’s the Lord’s Prayer for you proddy dogs who just tuned in.

Mom wondered – how did he know?

It’s the first name. It’s always the first name that gives it away.

That aside – the incident got me to thinking about Catholicism as it happened the same day Ratzinger went off to retirement. Therefore what follows is my Lenten medication on why I am such a lousy Catholic.

1. The Irish Thing or Why There are No Hiberian Cartesians

One reason I do not embrace that side of my heritage is that long, long ago I came to see the Irish as high-functioning schizophrenics. Roll that up with the damned literal mindedness (which I was spared) and you have people like Pat Buchanan and Bill Donohue running at the mouth like crazy street people. Second only to that is the thought that if you go back far enough everyone can find a common ancestor and I’m not of a mind to stick up for either Cousin Pat or Cousin Bill.

No one gets to be a Catholic without having a good Catholic mother. I had one of those along with a very rigid live-in Irish Catholic grandmother. Beyond the rudimentary tenets of faith I learned that the central core of their epistemology clearly stated that no one, but no one was capable of original thought if you disagreed with them. Any statement that was in opposition to whatever they said was immediately greeted with, “WHO TOLD YOU THAT?!? WHERE DID YOU GET THAT?!?! WHO HAVE YOU BEEN TALKING TO?!?!?!?

Therefore only Descartes could have written all that stuff about phantasms because he was French. If he was Irish his mother would still be reaming his ass about that one.

2. The Teaching of St. Werner Erhard or Our Lady of the Janov Scream

About 15 or so years ago I bought a reference book some Jesuits put together about what constitutes the teachings of the Church. Between figuring out if my non-Catholic father wanted a funeral (he didn’t) and wondering about sending a kid to Catholic school as the public options at the time sucked, I realized people were going to ask me to cover material I had not covered since the fourth grade.

The fourth grade (1966-67) was the watershed year.

In the fourth grade two things happened – I got confirmed and the nuns started leaving in droves. The nun stampede lead to our Catholic school being closed a couple of years later. In their void the lay people and the groovy priests tried to step up and hurry along our religious education. Instead of learning beatitudes, mysteries, or the sacraments we started to journal. Journaling was essential as each lay person who taught us how to journal always mentioned how journaling got him or her through the divorce. After journaling we were busted up into groups and handed a single 3×5 card. On the card was a single word, usually something like love or peace. We would discuss it as a group and summarize our thoughts in a sentence. We would then be given a stack of old magazines and newspapers with the instuctions that we were to cut out single letters from the printed materials, use them to spell out the sentence, and paste them on a burlap banner. The best of these cosmological ransom notes would be displayed on the altar.

This always made me wonder how the little old folks coming to the 7am Sunday Mass reacted. Did they look up and think, “Call the police! Somebody’s kidnapped Monsignor O’Malley!”

Where were we?

Oh yeah, and we always had to look for the deeper meaning in things. Religion class in my last year of Catholic school revolved around reading and re-reading The Little Prince until every nuance was found. The only respite from this came near the holiday breaks, we’d be allowed to brings in 45’s one the sole condition we looked for the deeper meaning in the lyrics. After that the school closed and we met in people homes where instead of reading aloud from Matthew or Luke we would get the ex-Mrs. Thompson reading aloud from her journal about that skirt chasing bastard. That pooped out after a few years and my sole scrape with Catholic education prior to leaving for college came when one of the groovy priest stopped by the high school to talk about a program that would help all of us get off drugs.

Not that most of us knew we were doing any.

But it’s the thought that counts.

3. The Social Contract of the Faithful

My grandmother managed to outlive just about all of her friends and the faith she understood. When she went the young priests couldn’t be bothered to visit either shut-ins or the sick. That fell to Sister Rose, who was a senior even she was my band teacher. Between Sister Rose and the Catholic funeral home in my hometown we were finally able to find a priest who would wear black and give my grandmother a send off that did not include lay people puttin’ a whuppin’ on their guitars while belting out The 59th Street Bridge Song.

Catholicism, as my mother explained, was as series of simple acts. Chief among these were visit the sick and bury the dead. But by the mid-1970s that sort of thing was tough to find. Therefore the social contract of the faithful was not enforced when it came to my grandmother’s turn to be on the receiving end.

That aside –

With all due respect to the unborn and the dying one thing the Church has to think about is its place in the World. The NY Times had an interesting piece a few days ago about the Church being the only functioning organization in Nigeria. Around the world the single biggest hindrance to human life is the lack of infrastructure. If that can be provided at least in some small way then the next pope needs to revisit the idea of the social contract the people have with the Church.

I realize that the last two popes had more than a little trouble with the idea of Liberation Theology, but at the heart of all that is the idea that the Church can bring people together to determine community. OK so the Marxist aspects don’t have to be hauled out, but it’s time to get beyond an organization run by rigid, yet thorough theologians, and understand that there is a democratic message at the heart of the New Testament that can be shared with the fastest growing portion of the faithful.

But enough of all that, unless you want to read the Marxist take on the Benny’s resignation. Otherwise for fun you can look for the deeper meaning in the lyrics from popular songs of the day.

"Hey Sugar, wanna see where the AARP card bit me?"

“Where there is power, there is resistance.” ― Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality 1: An Introduction

The arrival of profession soccer in Seattle came with an unintended fashion consequence. Potty middle-aged men found themselves no longer confined to hula shirts in the warmer months. Almost overnight they began covering their prodigious guts with Seattle Sounder FC jersey replicas.. While it’s not exactly a color that I find all that intriguing you can see its advantages. The green suggests the onset of spring as it flows out of the massive expanse of Budweiser Past and then rises up dramatically over the symmetry of the perky upturned moob. The overall effect can be quite restful on the eyes of at least the wearer if not his spouse as well. Please make no mistake, I watch more than my fair share of televised soccer, but I still like to cover my corpulent torso in the summer months with a shirt over-stamped with nothing but palm fronds and bamboo highball glasses which suggest nothing less than the pagan nights of Marlon Brando’s pantsless Tahitian period.

Having said that –

The transition from “Does this make me look fat?” to “How does this make my fat look?” comes with a certain set of assumptions. The first of which usually suggests that a man has successfully mated in captivity and has the mortgage and offspring to prove it. God knows that’s where I find myself these days which is why it was such a surprise when Mom started getting Facebook notes from some woman, roughly our age, who met me briefly in passing a few weeks ago and now describes me simply as “HAWWTT!!” (sic) Per Mom – subsequent notes waiver between calling me a “fox” and a “stone fox.”

Obviously the hot flashes make me look good.

Who knew?

Mom says this is not the first woman who started pubescence with Bobby Sherman who now finds herself in the throes of menopause thinking that I am, as the kids say, all that. In turn that means I must be on guard lest some silver haired woman in a velour jogging suit pinches my butt while I innocently inspect the baked goods at Safeway. For all I know “Let me show you a picture of my grandkids!” might well be the new “I think you have something in your eye!”

Frankly, all of this is patently unfair to Mom. Granted, women need to work through their feelings so that they can better verbalize their thoughts, but Mom should not be penalized because she worked through the process so fast that she began our early dates with the simple phrase, “Close the door and let’s get those pants off!”

Are these women completely devoid of all respect for the years the two of us have put into our synchronized-snoring routine?

And what about Mary Pat O’Malley who spent a large portion of our undergrad years inspecting my back molars for cavities using nothing but her tongue? Are these Facebook notes the thanks you show for some one who was always ready to engage such a selfless act?

I think not.

Oddly, Mom thinks there might be money in this. She says we could come up with a fashion shoot for a calendar. Under the hot lights I could stand in front of a large fan which would blow around what’s left of my hair and make the bags under my eyes flap provocatively while some guy named Klaus bobs and weaves around me with his Hasselblad.

In a word – no.

These women have had a clean shot at me since the night Nixon froze both wages and prices.

If they were waiting for the love handles to arrive to get a better grip on things then they’re just too damn late.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’d like to be alone with my reflux.

"Hey Sugar, wanna see where the AARP card bit me?"

“Where there is power, there is resistance.” ― Michel Foucault, The History of Sexuality 1: An Introduction

The arrival of profession soccer in Seattle came with an unintended fashion consequence. Potty middle-aged men found themselves no longer confined to hula shirts in the warmer months. Almost overnight they began covering their prodigious guts with Seattle Sounder FC jersey replicas.. While it’s not exactly a color that I find all that intriguing you can see its advantages. The green suggests the onset of spring as it flows out of the massive expanse of Budweiser Past and then rises up dramatically over the symmetry of the perky upturned moob. The overall effect can be quite restful on the eyes of at least the wearer if not his spouse as well. Please make no mistake, I watch more than my fair share of televised soccer, but I still like to cover my corpulent torso in the summer months with a shirt over-stamped with nothing but palm fronds and bamboo highball glasses which suggest nothing less than the pagan nights of Marlon Brando’s pantsless Tahitian period.

Having said that –

The transition from “Does this make me look fat?” to “How does this make my fat look?” comes with a certain set of assumptions. The first of which usually suggests that a man has successfully mated in captivity and has the mortgage and offspring to prove it. God knows that’s where I find myself these days which is why it was such a surprise when Mom started getting Facebook notes from some woman, roughly our age, who met me briefly in passing a few weeks ago and now describes me simply as “HAWWTT!!” (sic) Per Mom – subsequent notes waiver between calling me a “fox” and a “stone fox.”

Obviously the hot flashes make me look good.

Who knew?

Mom says this is not the first woman who started pubescence with Bobby Sherman who now finds herself in the throes of menopause thinking that I am, as the kids say, all that. In turn that means I must be on guard lest some silver haired woman in a velour jogging suit pinches my butt while I innocently inspect the baked goods at Safeway. For all I know “Let me show you a picture of my grandkids!” might well be the new “I think you have something in your eye!”

Frankly, all of this is patently unfair to Mom. Granted, women need to work through their feelings so that they can better verbalize their thoughts, but Mom should not be penalized because she worked through the process so fast that she began our early dates with the simple phrase, “Close the door and let’s get those pants off!”

Are these women completely devoid of all respect for the years the two of us have put into our synchronized-snoring routine?

And what about Mary Pat O’Malley who spent a large portion of our undergrad years inspecting my back molars for cavities using nothing but her tongue? Are these Facebook notes the thanks you show for some one who was always ready to engage such a selfless act?

I think not.

Oddly, Mom thinks there might be money in this. She says we could come up with a fashion shoot for a calendar. Under the hot lights I could stand in front of a large fan which would blow around what’s left of my hair and make the bags under my eyes flap provocatively while some guy named Klaus bobs and weaves around me with his Hasselblad.

In a word – no.

These women have had a clean shot at me since the night Nixon froze both wages and prices.

If they were waiting for the love handles to arrive to get a better grip on things then they’re just too damn late.

Now if you’ll excuse me I’d like to be alone with my reflux.

Mr. Hertz, Mr. Dick Hertz

“I am serious… and don’t call me Shirley.” Dr. Rumak

“A clown will not bite me and throw me in the basement.” Dr. Otto von Scretchandsniff

After an endless parade of make-up days due to last winter’s storms, school finally ended. While picking Alaska Wolf Joe up on the last day it was hard hot to notice some kid running around the plaza, waving a golf club, and trying to get everyone to sing the fight song.

The following conversation ensued:

ME: Who’s the kid painted blue?
AWJ: One of the very manic student government people, he’s supposed to be the Braveheart movie guy. He said he’s keeping school spirit alive.
ME: What’s that he’s wearing?
AWJ: He says it’s a kilt. Somebody asked him if his sister had to go to Holy Names in her underpants.
ME: Somebody?
AWJ: Somebody.
ME: Anybody I’d know?
AWJ: Maybe.

Well then!

This isn’t so much a post as a punch list of things to do and/or write about this week as I feel multiple posts coming on. Prior to coming all over clammy with the thought of multiple posts, I had intended this post to be an expansion on a snarky tweet I sent out about some signs on the office door of a guy who is an expert on Kant. But in thinking it through it became obvious that the sum total of that idea was easily contained within the 140 character limit. Briefly I flirted with talking about finally getting around to finishing last summer’s reading, but that would have cause you to ask, “It’s a skinny little book! You’re not finished with it?”

He’s French and that makes it harder than it looks.

In fact, he’s so French that he has trouble working and playing well with others.

Just as soon as I found that I was pulled further away by that little ditty that goes, “Yesterday upon the stair: I met a byliner who wasn’t there”

I asked Timpone about Ryan Smith. “Wasn’t fired,” he writes in an email. “If he resigned he hasn’t told us yet.”

“He was never on staff. Was a freelancer who worked on BlockShopper mostly. The systems he showed Sarah are Blockshopper ones.”

Know what?

I know some one in management in that company.

Wanna know something else?

He thinks I’m a clown.

Yeah, well if he were here right now I’d tell him, look pal at least I ain’t afraid of using my real…

… oh … wait …

Truth be told?

I’m not half the clown he thinks I am.

Revisionist-ish History: I did not think the girl could be so cruel

“The appearance in nineteenth-century psychiatry, jurisprudence, and literature of a whole series of discourses on the species and subspecies of homosexuality, inversion, pederasty, and ‘psychic hermaphroditism’ made possible a strong advance of social controls into this area of ‘perversity’; but it also made possible the formation of a “reverse” discourse: homosexuality began to speak in its own behalf, to demand that its legitimacy or ‘naturality’ be acknowledged, often in the same vocabulary, using the same categories by which it was medically disqualified.” Michel Foucault

Earlier in the week the intent was to follow through on a list of why people hate rock critics. The post was to center on the one list item which said that despite what rock critics say no big haired rock star ever took up feminist studies, got a head full of Foucault, dressed up in Spandex, and went on to sing Cherry Pie. (SLYT) But in really looking at the statement it was easy to see that it is a self-contained thought and writing about it would be little more than belaboring the point. Which worked out as another note came home from school.

Early in the week it seems Alaska Wolf Joe’s history teacher asked if anyone could quote some one famous from the period they were studying. AWJ raised his hand and said, “Never start a land war in Asia and never bet against a Sicilian when death is on the line.” He attributed Bismarck and he would have gotten away with it too if it hadn’t been for some meddling kid from the student council. The teacher was ready to buy AWJ’s version of reality until the stoolie junior solon set the teacher wise.

KIDS! I swear.

If I’ve told him once I’ve told him a thousand times – if you’re gonna bullshit the teachers alway use Ford Maddox Ford as attribution because nobody and I mean NOBODY knows who Ford Maddox Ford is. Hell, Ford Maddox Ford went to his grave not knowing who he was.

After it was all over AWJ asked me why the goody twoshoes had to act like that and – as we’ve all learned from years of watching sitcoms – that was my cue to step up and teach a valuable life lesson in 30 minutes or less. So I told him straight up – the student council kids are genetically predisposed to be wet blankets. They think they have to go around modeling behavior but never once does it occur to them that the behavior they’re modeling is that of a model prisoner. AWJ nodded and said, “Yeah, their crusade against grinding isn’t working and they’re mad.”

For those of you just tuning in – grinding is where today’s teens simulate the sex act on the dance floor. For the sake of comparison – if the tango was a carefully prepared dinner in a romantic candle-lit Tuscany bistro then grinding is the dumpster behind The Olive Garden. Compounding matters are the schools’ nonstop written and spoken warnings about the act of grinding that do little more than fixate the average teen’s mind on nothing else.

How to cure grinding?

First, you have the guy who runs the vocational program, Danny (Honeywell, Carrier, and General Electric CERTS Dallas-Fort Worth HVAC-TECH ’78) lead the thrice divorced art teacher, (rumored to bare her midriff and sport yoga pants at the faculty offsites) Edna (MFA Oberlin ’82) onto the dance floor where to the lilting strains of Carl Douglas’s immortal Kung Fu Fighting they show the kids how it’s done.

This is a flawed approach as it requires high school teachers with a sense of humor.

Not that high school leaves anyone with much of a sense of humor. AWJ responded to the teacher’s note with, “I HATE THESE PEOPLE! THEY’RE ALL STUPID! WHEN THIS IS DONE I AM GOING TO MOVE SO FAR AWAY THAT PEOPLE’S HEADS WILL EXPLODE WHEN THEY FIND OUT WHERE I AM!!!”

Must be something he got from his mother’s side of the family.