Monday, December 31, 2007

Hope for 2008


(No home computer for a while. PK Tech Guy's running diagnostics. [I thought I'd lost] Lots of pictures, data, music, addresses... But I may have a new anchor for the work skiff. )

Friday, December 28, 2007


In the stairwell that first day, the very first new friend my sister made was a cute little freshman in tan corduroy jeans with her dark hair pulled into two pigtails. She looked more like a high school freshman than a college student. She was tacking up fliers for some kind of
cause (might have been related to world hunger) on the bulletin boards in the stairwell.

She was pretty and outgoing and introduced herself to us at once, "Hi, I'm Bennie, Bennie Bhutto."

Everybody probably has a story about someone famous. I have a lot of stories, because when you travel, and work at many tasks, you collect stories like brambles on your socks. Some are small, insignificant, but every one of them carries a seed which speaks of something other than itself. "looseheadprop" from firedoglake has this post about just such a bramble.
The end of the year finds everyone playing the Janus, looking forward and backward. In a society that forgets the past immediately and can't imagine that there'll even be a future, I find this time (usually around my sister's birthday) a only truly spiritual time of year. If spirituality has something to do with reverence for something unseen but believed. The past is gone, but we see the results of its presence and the possibility of its effects on the future. If we care to look.
  • ALL of our teevee news is bad. Assuming that you're shallow and stupid (or trying to be shallow and stupid or are just weary of reality), teevee wants to help. I had a photo of the mangled half-blownup bodies around Bhutto's assassination scene and I was going to put word balloons having the victims saying "What about Mischa's DUI?" and "How high should zoo walls be to keep tigers in?" and "Is Obama Oprah's sexy coke-fiend?" and "Isn't Britney and Jamie's mom a good mom?" I figured I'd just describe my own momentary lack of taste.
  • Somebody creamed my mailbox over the holidays. Very likely a neighbor whose other hand was holding a gin-and-tonic, so I can only complain because of the inconvenience it caused my mail carrier. Of course, she usually has to drive to The Manor over the holiday season, what with the copious abundance of parcels and such.
  • Replacing aforementioned boîte aux lettres wouldn't have been as much a bother as it sounds (I always keep a spare in the rum cellar) if it weren't that the ground, slush, and old mailbox all fused together as one by the quickfreeze we had experienced. So, I awaited the advantageous Apponogansett thaw which was manifest come Christmas Adam. While I was preparing to make the necessary replacement, a neighbor in his new Chevroley Cardamon SUV ("Now with Solar Panels -- We're GREEN!") decided to swerve extra close in order to coat my trou with road salt, sand, and slush.
  • Looking back at '07, I remember being glad to find "SouthCoast Blogger," an online home manufactory operative or "domestic industrialist" or "Internet entrepreneur" (she makes e-mail-order children's fashions). On her blog, she shared some refreshingly honest views about local politics and topics. She was also nice enough to contact me and to remark, very pleasantly, about her business and the state of ... our state. Just as I was about to dedicate a big entry here to her swell takes on the SouthCoast, she disappeared.
  • At first, I attributed her non-blogging to a busy holiday gift season and wished her well by e-mail, jubilating what I assumed was overwhelming orders and success. I never heard anything back, and I have yet to see any new post over at SouthCoast Blogger.
    I realized that I had mentioned to her that I have no children. It would be a little ungenerous to attribute to her the assumption that I would never buy children's clothes (well, okay, I wouldn't) and thus wasn't worth wasting time over in a perspective customer kind of way, so I went right on assuming that real business had trumped online local gab.
  • On the other hand, I had also struck up a gauzy online acquaintance, via MySpace, with an actor who was endeavoring to direct. At the moment I commented -- positively -- on a particularly interesting use of raw footage, her account disappeared.
  • And I haven't heard anything from Large or katie in ages.
  • I've always been acutely aware of my audience: in writing, on stage, while broadcasting, and sometimes to my disadvantage. I've pulled a lot of punches and regretted some remarks. I'm no Doug Piranha ("He used... sarcasm. He knew all the tricks, dramatic irony, metaphor,bathos, puns, parody, litotes and... satire. He was vicious.") but when I share something online, I hope I'm clear enough to be understood, and am only offensive to the clearly-marked targets of my disdain.
  • So, let's look forward with hope now to the unknowable Maybe. I'm sorry for any misuse of this my online gift, and I'll endeavor to stay true to course.
  • There. Sticking with the nautical conceit of "Soles'n'Bowls," Regret leaves a hard crust on the deck in the head. It needs a little extra elbow grease with the pumice.
  • Before you realize it was never there, just a vague shadow cast by a leaking deck prism.

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Boxing Day

Just so everyone knows, I was brought up with a definition of Boxing Day that went something like, "That's the day when you box up all the stuff you got for Christmas."
I am required to neither lavish reward upon the servants around stately Goon Manor nor do we designate only one day out of the year for charitable giving. Further, if wassail you must, then do it without the damned bird on a stick. You know the wassail cabinet is always open.
I have always taken the day to my heart as a day to look back at the past few and quietly treasure those who gathered around the table yesterday while I toasted them and their mere (!) existence.
Members of my immediate family are tremendously devout traditionalists. I gave up an aspect of that after the close brush with seminarianism, but I'm sure I'm described by some as a bit old-school. What with the ties and caps with the bills in front. And the Thank You cards I do on this day. Every year.
At some point last century, my friend Woody the Shipwright's paramour, Sophronia, urged me to join her in studying semiotics. I am not one to avoid helping a beautiful heiress with her homework. And since I would be the only man in a room full of Brown University coeds who had to look at Umberto Eco for ninety minutes, I tagged along. They all loved The Name of the Rose (probably for the Connery/Slater) but I loved them, their access to pleasant scotches and holiday spots, and there you are.
A little piece of Eco's online Christmas discussion filled me with joy because he hit on G.K. Chesterton, Dan Brown, and James Joyce all at once. Which is the point.

I think I agree with Joyce's lapsed Catholic hero in A Portrait of the Artist
as a Young Man: "What kind of liberation would that be to forsake an absurdity
which is logical and coherent and to embrace one which is illogical
and incoherent?" The religious celebration of Christmas is at least a clear and
coherent absurdity. The commercial celebration is not even that.

Happy End of Christmas Season. See you next year.

Go do something good.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Window Installer Offers His Own Exegesis of
the Controversy Over The Huckabee
"Christmas Cross" Ad

"Obviously, it's a set piece meant to represent a window. Like a stage set. It's obviously not custom-made wood. The "glass"? Plastic sheeting. And what's up with outside, the two green lights and the one red one? That's one intersection I wouldn't want to navigate. But really, what's the controversy here? Whether it's a classic four-over-four double hung or, as I believe, a six-panel casement window, like a bay, because it isn't just single-grilled. As the camera pans left, another vertical muntin is clearly visible through the branches of the Christmas tree over the candidate's right shoulder. There is really no indication that it's double-hung. "Yeah, I would say it's a bay. A bay. But with short dimension."

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Kirsty MacColl

(October 10, 1959 - December 18, 2000)

Monday, December 17, 2007

An OnLine Journal Wishes Happy Tenth Anniversary to "Blogs"

According to the BBC, today marks the tenth anniversary of the first time that the term "blog" was used to describe the act of logging web activity.
H.M.S. Impossible is an online "journal left open on the galley table, addended as I try to navigate life on The Beach. Feel free to jot your comments in the margins." I said journal.
On many Fridays, I share musings with accompanying links, so that might be a logging of web sites, or a "blog." I call that feature "Soles'n'Bowls" after what a supercilious drill sargeanty ex-Coastie used to call cleaning the heads on a square-rigger I sailed. Not a pretty job, cleaning up after a bunch of Beachdwellers with their noses in Patrick O'Brien books and their asses in pirate costumes. No wonder he was supercilious.
I recently committed a MySpace page and found that a social-networking site is no place for the weak-hearted, but it certainly can be a comfortable home for the weak-minded.
Playing team hockey when you're six is easy. You get dropped off, you suit up, you play, you go eat pizza or ice cream. Everybody gets along, even if you fight, and your parents are part of it. If you're pretty good at skating backward and getting a puck into a net, then you're doing the job and that's fun and Chuck E. Cheese.
See? Simple.
So, what the hell's wrong with MySpace? All these ha'penny narcissists and their goofball "name your five favorite booger flavors" memes and let's all not spell correctly EVAH? Is that what we're celebrating today, on the Anniversary of The Blog? (As if we needed another holiday this month...)
Are we celebrating that we've changed the incidental intimacy and connectivity of friendship to a simple "approval" or "denial" of a clickable "Friend Request"? That you can name all of your favorite bands, movies, songs, books, authors, colors, people, clothes, actors, cars, words, kinds of hair, lips, noses, and smells (with PICTURES!!! and SOUND!!!1!) but you don't have to give your name? Have we so institutionalized mendacity that we aren't bothered when somebody has their PR firm taking care of blogging their innermost thoughts? And you can end every "blog" with "nif u don't like it, you can BOUNCE cuz i no care" ?
A pal held a pool party a while back in order to beam proudly about his beautiful new home, and some old friends who have moved away -- far away -- were in attendance. It was a great time with the usual Summer delicacies and grilling and kids splashing and satellite music and bragging about plans for the backyard pond and gardens.
My Beloved enjoys stopping by H.M.S. Impossible and expects others to do so as well. I gave up on that delusion long ago. She asked a certain pal (let's call the pal "Wyoming Gal") if she ever stopped by. In. Whatever.
Wyoming Gal sort of stammered and said, "Well, I did, but, you know, that it's ..."
Our host then spoke up: "Yeah, it's ..."
A few other partygoers also admitted the website was "..." to them as well.
"I mean, it's not '...,' per se," continued Wyoming Gal. "But I just found that it's ..."
Of course, in conversation, the ellipsis usually accompanies a shrug or a blink or a furtive glance toward the cooler. But I know what they're saying. They're right. This particular on-line journal is "..."
To that crowd, "..." means "a wordy, self-involved waste of time." They're still my friends.
Happy Anniversary!
Or Hpy !Oth Bthdy LOL

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

GIANT Tuki, still a cat, says thanks to FireDogLake

Eliza Dushku. Have Faith in a Union. Or something.(photo from LAist)

Oh ow

There are two very basic tenets to SouthCoast voting:

  1. Be fair, and
  2. Be fair to incumbents.

SouthCoast voters are thrilled to maintain a nebulous quality of fairness. If the legislature is full of those Tax'n'Spend Liberals (who are their own party, although it's pronounced Democrat), then you can be sure that the next Governor will be a hard line budget-slashing Republican. (Except if there's a hard line budget-balancing Democrat running who seems capable of getting a train down here. Then, you just point at the "'tard Speaker," hold your nose and vote for the black guy.) Also, make sure to vote for people with Portuguese surnames, because the Portuguese never have a chance around here. It's all fair, and you can go about continuing to drive your local educational system back to hickory sticks and handheld slates with chalk slivers for the cipherin'.

As demonstrated in recent election campaigns, SouthCoast voters are told that voters desire change, and should make sure that the people who are currently in power enact that change. Just the way they always have. SouthCoast voters are generally elderly supporters of the same names that have been on the ballot for forty years. Change must be slow, so we know what we're getting into. And you like that boy who gives the ride to the polls. Even though you live upstairs from the polling place.

Back when I had to give a crap about Fall River (because it was my job and I took my jobs seriously then), a colleague who was as challenged by thought and language as Leo Pelletier told me that Leo was elected by people who were dumber than Leo. 91,000 people county-wide when he ran for (and lost) Sheriff in '04. Dumber Than Leo. Great name for a band.

I don't often give any credence to funny-paper comics like Howie Carr. His "Boston-is-1930's-Chicago-see-yeah" shtick is tiring and just plain wrong. (Oh, and The Sopranos isn't real, and nobody really cares where Whitey Bulger is. Give it up.) He was barely entertaining during the commute I had to take from Burlington MA to Tiverton RI back when talk radio wasn't foul and I took marketing/writing jobs that were meaningless but paid well. I can't imagine what it's like now. (Radio, not inconsequential employment.)

But even a blind squirrel can unearth a cliché to munch once in a while, so Howie takes a moment to look down upon the SouthCoast and, erm, look down upon the SouthCoast. If your browser doesn't support douchebag, here's the upshot:

Fall River is stupid, because I'm smarter than Leo Pelletier.

Leo Pelletier, longtime knuckledragging City Councillor, is often called "hard-working." Because he finds manners and the English language hard to work. Leo is the Perfect Storm of of Fall River mores, intellect, and politics. Fall River voters don't like suits and ties, because you can't trust them. Leo is sweaty, unkempt, and "drunk uncle" charming. Fall River voters do not value education. "Street smarts" are more important than "book smarts" and felons who "pay their debt to society" are supposed to get right back into their municipal jobs because everyone deserves a second chance. And a third. And an eighth. Because it's only fair.

And Leo wants to take over the position vacated by Queen-elect Bob I'mayorbecausemynamerhymeswithmayor. State Rep. Which is the magical Fawrivah Fairy-tale next step to "Mayor of Fall River." You can't just go from City Councillor to Mayor. Unless you Ascend by Accident, like Dan Bogan or Bill Whitty. And then you can get to wave your Formerhood around to get a good seat at Magoni's or the Venus. Which aren't even in Fall River.

Because the people who are politicians in SouthCoast are born to the job and must always have it, because The Benevolent Elders of Southcoast won't remove them. It wouldn't be fair. And the same names come back again and again, even though they're only required to act as though they're doing something. "Look busy" is the only instruction in SouthCoast politics. And that's why SouthCoast politics is a constant embarrassment, why educated young people do not take part in politics. Because it's a game for the entrenched, the archaic, and the sincerely delusional.

And as a spectator sport, it's just plain boring.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christie Hennessy

Condolences to his family, friends, and fans. After watching the above interview, you'll miss him too. Even if you've never heard of him.

RedGrape Records is donating all proceeds from his latest single A Price For Love to Children in Crossfire. Because that's what he wanted to do.

Learn about the charity Children in Crossfire. Remember the music.

Monday, December 10, 2007

On Dec. 10, 1948, the U.N. General Assembly: Universal Declaration on Human Rights

Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,
Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.
Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.
Article 3.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 4.
No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Article 5.
No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 6.
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.
Article 7.
All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 8.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.
Article 9.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Article 10.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
Article 11.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.
Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Article 13.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Article 14.
(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Article 15.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.
Article 16.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Article 17.
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Article 18.
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.
Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.
Article 20.
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
Article 21.
(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Article 22.
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
Article 23.
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.
Article 24.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
Article 25.
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.
Article 26.
(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.
Article 27.
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.
Article 28.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
Article 29.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Article 30.
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein

Friday, December 7, 2007


  • I was just telling Mitt Romney that freedom of religion also means freedom FROM religion. People just don't listen anymore.
  • The BIG! SCREAMING!! TEASY!!! HEADLINE!1!! read: Presidential Hopefuls Hate Veggies? Last I looked, Dennis Kucinich is a "Presidential Hopeful." And a vegan. (Oh, and Comcast: It's "bon apetit" not "bon apetite." I mean, as a wacky headline goes...)
  • I am so looking forward to the January 7 Coronation of Dumpy Kakistocrat for Life Robert MayorbecauseIthinkmynamerhymeswithmayor. It's back to the good old days for the Elders of SouthCoast, with a big (cassette tape-recorded) trumpety fanfare and lighting cigars with burning phony tens and jokes about how much the Irish are drinking and a "backroom" where "deals" are misinterpreted (and then forgotten) in a Licor Beirão haze and don't listen to the wives and NO GAY WAITERS.
  • And can somebody tell me what the hell "a black tie-style [sic] ball" is. Don't these jackhole rubes have any clue AT ALL?
  • Although it is offensive ("sin of pride" or "church/state thing") that his Coronation includes an Inaugural Mass at a big Portuguese Catholic Church, Bob need not worry. All he has to do is visit Lourdes within a year, and Pope Benny will grant an indulgence to shave off that purgatory time.
  • So say you're a certain creepy American no-brow who thinks all Scottish people look like this: from artie.comand you want to do something "original," so you decide to build a golf course in Scotland. I wish MacTavish there had Trump's head on his tee. (thanks to for the proud kilt-wearing linksman)
  • Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia, says that teachers who don't allow the use of Wikipedia are "bad educators." (Of course, Captain Wallbank has never made such a claim.) Now, if we can keep Wales from his continuous ridiculous assertions: that Wikipedia is the "Information Red Cross" and wants "to do good." If I want peer-driven history, I'll go to mySpace. At least there they don't pretend to be authorities.
  • They pretend to be "authori-tah." Which u had bettah respk, dawg.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Another Holiday Gift from the NY Public Library

Art News Blog shares the story of another misunderstood exhibit proving once again that some people need to "dude, chill."

An exhibition of contemporary art prints at the New York Public Library has created a mild stir. The NY Times has reported that a number of library patrons have protested because of a series of 8 digital prints in the "Multiple Interpretations" exhibition called "Line Up." The Line Up series by Nora Ligorano and Marshall Reese depicts people from the Bush administration in fake mugshots.

I'll share the author's following insight: Most political art has a very short shelf life, just like the politicians they depict. The best way to make political art live a little longer is to hire a
bunch of protestors to march at the exhibition or to have the
artist put in prison

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Congregation Beth Ishmael wishes you

Yes, those are TEMPLE toggle irons Happy Hanukkah
It might also be a good time to visit Rabbis For Human Rights:
Stop Jerusalem home demolitions

$anta Comes Early to Downtown NB

... and look what we got!
We're calling this one AhabIt's a SOLAR TRASH COMPACTOR! Right in front of NBAM! And there's FIFTY more!

The Big Belly compactors have a built-in solar panel that powers the internal compactor, which crushes trash at the point of disposal. The solar powered trash compactors are so efficient they will eliminate four out of every five collection trips city crews make to empty a regular trash barrel, allowing personnel to attend to other priorities. In addition, the compactors are designed to discourage illegal dumping and pilfering, and to deter animals from getting into the trash as well.

... said the city in this Press Release.
Oddly enough, there are actually two other trash receptacles (the regular kind, designed for animals, illegal dumping, and pilfering) within seven feet of this new one. But the feeling is that once they see the job this Big Belly Boy does, they'll find some other corner to inhabit, lamenting their chosen anti-triturating lifestyles.
Former Ant-Man Scott Lang, Stark International electronics genius and now mayor of New Bedford, came up with the Pym-inspired trash-shrinkers while working for the Fantastic Four, where he really didn't have much to do.
(ImpossibleFact: The receptacles were originally designed to feature an Incredible Hulk image which growled, "HULK SMASH!" when trash was deposited. Because certain DownTown New Bedford historical and preservation groups voiced unease, the Hulk theme was eliminated. But they kept the green.)

Monday, December 3, 2007

Around New York City Around The Holidays

The local University allows one of its more enterprising operatives the opportunity to stuff a bunch of D-UMass pantloads into a bus and carom down I-95 to allow them some holiday shopping time. That's right, I recently enjoyed a cheap fare to The Big Apple. Unfortunately, that meant sharing accomodations with the art teachers who must have paid the special toll to earn the right to holler all the way, bragging loudly about their travels on the University's dime. And how they never get credit for having invented cubism, cleverness, and papier-mâché. And how amusing young noobs are. I don't mind braggarts. Hell, I am one. But LOUD I have no patience for. I just kept thinking, "Twenty-five bucks. There and back." An amiable old guy driving. In the back of the bus, who cared if the guys sitting behind me could name every body who had ever driven the Millennium Falcon? Loudly.
Before the cosmic shift: Every week (for a brief period), I drove into Manhattan to sell a certain "exotic" plant which at the time apparently "could not be cultivated in the city." Because we horticulturalismo types had fooled regular plant lovers into believing that orchids were "exotic" and couldn't ever be grown in anything other than the rarefied environment only we could furnish. And certainly not in Manhattan. They didn't know about the people in Manhattan who owned capybaras, but that's fauna, and I was a flora guy. I have a few of those "exotics" just over by the to-be-recycled stack of newspapers, winter bloomers sending out spikes despite my efforts. (They're bloody indestructible. I knew I would rue the day when I saved them from the 0% humidity of that NBAM. Now I'm stuck with these purple striated butterfly blooms. I just know that when I'm gone, some awful purple burst of "beauty" will distract the geese flying by the decaying wreckage of my manse during what somebody used to call January. If Alan Weissman is anyone to be believed.)
I used to sell those damned things out of a huge white unmarked van registered to a man with a foreign name. Which did not make things easier when I pulled up to the World Trade Center to offload during the Greater New York Orchid Society event. Not long after the 1993 bombing. Luckily, my big ol' Smilin' Irish-American USofA driver's license got me some pretty good location in the underground parking lot that's no longer there since now the whole place is a ... *sniff*
Of course, the best view of Manhattan is from the helm of a ship. It's on the chart. Near the mouth of Henry Hudson's "River of Mountains." Where that Minuit guy dropped an anker and hailed New Amsterdam. Now, there's that instantly-recognizable skyline, that big bridge to Brooklyn to starboard, that tall and torchy woman to port. And South Street Seaport. They have boats.
Beats coming in through the Bronx.
As we did. Lumbering down Fifth, where you can smell the dirty water dogs from the Sabrett's carts along that park there, we ever-so-briefly got to see the big tree at 30 Rock. Closest we got that day to Christmastime In The City besides hearing it played 4,293 times on the Muzak. We were there to meet friends, eat lunch, and accidentally see the On The Road scroll that Kerouac typed. It's at the Public Library.
Longtime habitués of this journal will remember our good friend David. Folks who remember he has the cancer will be happy to hear that I had to sprint to keep up with him all afternoon. We visited with a VERY FAMOUS PHOTOGRAPHER, a gracious host, showing his NEW PHOTOGRAPHY in the best-lit room in the brownstone: the laundry. (I thought he had offered us the opportunity to do a load, he's that gracious.)
Since we get back on the bus there, a brief stop at The Met, a bite at the cafeteria, and back to wait for the bus. Where the ninnies were cold and cranky.
We spent eight hours that day on that bus. When I drove to NYC in the old days, I had whittled down the travel time from SouthCoast to MidTown to about three hours. Of course, I left here at 4 in the morning. Alone. If I wanted to hear anybody talk about nothing as if I weren't there, I could listen to talk radio.
And I could shut that off.

Friday, November 30, 2007


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Season's Eatings (yeah, I know, but it's the Food Network™ I'm writing about...)

Now that Thanksgivening is just a stale turkey sandwich away from refluxive memory, and the wild capitalist Carnival of Objective Self-Indulgence known as ¢hri$nukkanzaa looms large upon the anticipated online billing screen, I turn to the people with whom I most like to share the holidays: The contracted wisks and egos who smile back at me from The Food Network.

Separated At BirthThe Once and Future Bumble: Mario Batali

The first time I saw Mario Batali, I thought he was a guy I had gone to school with. Really, my sophomore year, the guy across the hall was this nine foot-tall, 300lb+, blonde Italian guy from Mankato MN somebody had named Windigo, but I thought he looked more like the Bumble from Rudolph and that moniker stuck. You know: "Bumbles bounce..." Marco (really, that was his name) turned out to be a great friend, if only for his choice of beverages and smokes. Yes, that hearty Border Waters Bluegrass.
M. Batali, on the other hand, has left The Food Network. Sort of. In fact, he left about 2 months ago when they tossed his Italocentric Molto Mario and Ciao America shows, both of which featured Big Red calmly serving up carefully-prepared and correctly-pronounced culinary dish. It was rumored that they'd tossed him from Iron Chef America, too. He still appears in promos, so he can't be that no-longer-Iron. And over the last week, they were running him getting pawed at by Rachael Ray on the two year-old special "Cranberry Challenge" episode of ICA. Is it really back to the wife's Michigan dairy farm for you, Mario? Do not pass 'Go," do not step on Emeril -- who's been smarting from the recent boot too. You read right: Fall River's favorite son, Emeril Lagasse has uttered his last BAM! Now that FN is the new MTV, you can't have Andy Griffith and Danny Thomas taking up the time we need for Who Wants To Eat The Survivor 3.

I'm Getting Cleavage for ¢hri$nukkanzaa

It's difficult to imagine FN without Giada and the girls. Yummy disaster-movie heiressI mean, the other girls on the rest of The Food Network. You know, Rachael and Ingrid and Nigella and Sandra the ChefILFs. (Well, not so much Rachael, since she's built like the guy who ran into me at third base during the softball playoffs senior year.) But as we consider the fascinating immigration stories of someone named Hoffman and the reason why a woman of Giada's wealth can't find a shirt that doesn't show 60% of her chest, How's your linguini?we find there are a few requisites to being a ChefILF on FN:
  1. Make sure there's something you can't pronounce and be certain to use it in everything you cook. (Ingrid called Simply Delicioso. Yeah, I was just thinking that."Worcestershire sauce," so maybe you can have "mascarpone.")
  2. When you use something that you can pronounce, give it a cute abridgement or abbreviation. (But remember: you will be fined and possibly fired if you say "E.V.O.O." Little §%&#! is rolling that big a set.) I'm evil. My collander is evil. Stop looking at the evil!
  3. But don't abbreviate the thing you can't pronounce. That defeats the purpose.
  4. Make sure you get at least one shot at an exotic overnight food travel show. There must be a shot of you to use in random promos that shows you in a loose man's shirt, tight halter or sporty lingerie while sucking something out of a shell or large botanically-improbable straw.
  5. Sponsored by Glaxo-SmithKline
  6. If they don't give you the travel show, just pour some booze into something unlikely like cilantro/vegetable stock or thinly-sliced pancetta and call it a "chat-starter" or "whistle-wettener" or "panty-dropper." Go ahead. We're heading that way anyhow.

Monday, November 26, 2007

(More or less) Living History

Those familiar with the deck and its fittings here on the journal will recognize my intermittent need to bitch about living historical interponstration events and facilities. Because you recognize that as a part of me. A casual fly-by (one who Googles™ "Syrlebtamia," say) need only espy the young bloke wearing the lieutenant outfit in the "About Me" station to know that the author has, at one time or another, had to wear silly clothes and say things nobody really wants to hear about. Yes, I worked in documentary films and AM radio, but I'm talking about living history museums.
Yesterday, I put away my former professional integrity and spent the day in Historic Plymouth. Or Plimoth Plantation. Which is what it's known by in all the paperwork.
Yes, my Beloved and I waited until the last possible moment to visit the same damned dusty village to which we had been dragged when we were way too young to appreciate any of it, except to walk away with a sense that strange foreigners had come to America a very long time ago and died off because they got thrown out of everywhere else and were the most miserable bastards on earth. Even before the rest of Massachusetts got that way.
At least, that's how the poor employees at the plantation appeared. I know. Last day of the season. Days after BIG holiday. Probably had to work Thanksgiving for the idiots kindly patrons who answer every begging letter and figure Thanksgiving at Plymouth with reinterponstrators in stinky wool is worth pulling out the platinum.
My experience in historical interponstration is varied enough to make me feel uncomfortable whenever I drive near a Ren Faire or the Civ War encampment. I was asked to emcee a gypsy dance show at one, and because I love the woman who asked me and because, well, belly dancers, I almost booked the gig. And then I thought: "Ren Faire."
I do not begrudge anyone's choice of work or recreation. It's just that I've, well, done it. I know what it's like to have some kid keep hitting you with a belaying pin or ask you why the sheep don't drink all the cow's milk. I've been "directed" by habitually-angry little women and perpetually chirpy little men who insist that the lady of the house wants her servants to sing until guests show up and pay to be "escorted" around the manse. I also understand that breaking open the lady's liquor cabinet and taking turns secreting behind the smokehouse is routinely advisable.
In small, I understand that the last day you're open can sometimes lead one to play fast and loose. Saying things like, "And this is where the captain hides his stash." Or pretending to be asleep as visitors step into your cozy fire pit. Leading a team of horses up and down the thoroughfare during a climactic moment in some twerp's narrative. Forgetting character, losing accents, dropping lines, striking tourons, encouraging tips. "No, just right here, in my ditty bag. Thank ye."
Later, in the real world (where my work costume was hi-tops, a work belt, painter's pants, and a pack of American Spirits), I worked for a homebuilder who had, back in his pre-wed days, worked at "Plimoth" demonstrating Seventeenth Century building techniques. I found this out one day as we were assembling a horrific Tudorbethan monstrosity with phony half-timber and stucco accents and useless jetties. He was waxing nostalgic about thatching roofs. I joked that, since it was the Seventies, he longed for the days of looking down from the thatch at women's blouses. You weren't there. (I just wanted to type "waxing nostalgic about thatching.") There. I'm done.
And yes, I was sure I saw some of his work yesterday, as I marveled at his precise dovetail mortice-and-tennon work and the other elements the current interponstrators shrugged off as some jerk trying to get them to say something obscure. I mean, I can understand growing tired of the adopted Welsh-Dutch dialect, especially when everybody else sound Irish-German or Glasgow-Swedish or like Baldrick from Blackadder. And the gal next door sounds like Fall River. Fair enough. Hide all you want. The livestock is entertaining. But you could've concealed the bottled water. I'm sure that at some other -- less exhausted -- time, you described it as Myles Standish's "bottawawa." You know, about which schoolchildren hear so much.
Look, I would've been so booted if my station ever had an AquaFina bottle visible. Mostly because my boss was running the CocaCola boycott.

(The author of this journal has worked -- costumed and not -- in house and farm museums and on historical sailing vessels. He doesn't call himself 'The Valet,' or 'van Bibber,' or 'Guy in Barn.' He's the Third Mate. Just so you know where his heart is.)

Friday, November 23, 2007


I give you ... aftermath:

Thursday, November 22, 2007

from Wallbank's Almanack of Holidays: "Thanksgivening"

'As a Fall festival, the history of Thanksgivening is ancient. Almost as old as Fall. Even before Fall was known as "Autumn." Try it in a Manhattan.Or "Fiona."
'The first recorded celebration of this festive time was found in a bundle of beads wrapped in a sheep's bladder and used as a rattle by a dancer during the Greretan festival of Ptomain. The beads described a party at King Gus of Syrlebtamia's Summer palace, which looked down upon the stadium where popular games were played. Gus' sons, Princes Ryan and Logan, had taken a long chillax weekend towards the end of the month of Games, before the Summer palace was closed up and all the booze and linens removed. Spectators who were not lucky enough to attend the Palace's game-watching event parked in the stadium lot and ate layered fowl and fruit sandwiches off the backs of their chariots. With a heady ale. (Since they ate behind their mounts, the slang term "tail-eating" was established. Tail-ating. Tail-gating. You know.) Their food festival became the basis for what moderns know as a first step toward the beginning of a Thanksgivening-like ur-Thanksgivening. Or that might be something else.
'As has often been the case with holidays (what with the "holi-" part and all), Those Darn Popes™ got involved with the surprise addition of the "Thanks" aspect of the program by Pope Adrian VI in 1523.Pope Adrian, monk In an effort to obscure the corruption endemic to the papacy at the time, Adrian, a former monk, insisted that, during his tenure, no one shake his hands, one should use only one kind of holy water, and one should constantly say "Thank You." (Adrian's successor, Pope Leland, abrogated the order by creating a single-day "thanking period.")
'As the New World opened up to settlers, sof-serve ice cream and mini-golf, a group of emmigrants in search of another group to denigrate due to religious differences was given a "Yeah Right, You Just Do That" order by King James of England. Schoolchildren know the story of the First Thanksgiving, so this chronicleer will not recount those lies here. (Of course we all tingle with delight at the vision of happy unexpected immigrants sharing the largess of friendly natives. As long as the immigrants have buckles on their hats.) It is now well-known that the holiday we call Thanksgivening didn't really catch on until the pilgrim colonists left Plymouth and traveled to the mouth of the Hudson River, which is where they were supposed to go in the first place.
'The pilgrims prepared to pillage the native settlement they found on the island (Manhattan, at that time known as "Mahna-Mahna-Hattan") just as they had that first time when they landed at Provincetown (which one of them kept calling "Providence" until she was given a map, a quahog, and a coffee milk.)
'Once upon the island at the mouth of the Hudson, William Macy and the rest of the crew paraded their intentions up and down the broad way that was the only street open at the time (because of the strike). Macy's descendants saw to it that Thanksgivening eventually was named "Macy's Day" and the traditional parade goes on. A huge effigy used by the settlers trying to scare the original MahnaMahnaHattanites

Captain Wallbank’s Almanack is not intended to be used as reference material for school projects, masters theses, magazine and newspaper articles, partisan hack radio talk shows, commencement addresses, congressional testimonies, valedictory speeches, catechism classes, or, especially, as an authorized authority for bets involving someone buying someone a drink.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

If you see Björk today...

... try not to mention the swan outfit. We all did things in our youth.

Wish her a "HEC of a Happy"™. (She's 42. I have no idea how young Björk is in the clip. Or what she's saying. Happy Birthday, Ms. Gudmonsdottir.)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Free Rice

Here's a fun game: You click here. That link will send you to

You can click here as well

And you play a little word game. They'll explain it to you. It might make you smarter, but I'm sure it'll make people less hungry. Which might make them smarter and then we won't have to get cosmetics companies to help send them rice. The "rice" is distributed by the United Nations World Food Programme.

Thousands of people gone because of Cyclone Sidr, thousands more homeless. 80% of the Mexican state of Tabasco has been flooded for the past month. "Might be a good time to see if you can do anything for the Red Cross.

While you're enjoying Thanksgiving Week, which apparently means you're not doing anything better with your time, see how you can help the Dennis Kucinich campaign for Strength Through Peace.

I'll be gone til next time. I'm still mourning the Martini Glass. Talk among yourselves.

Monday, November 19, 2007

A Gam: The News is Good

... Cannabis may halt breast cancer. This is just good news for so many reasons. On so many levels. ... Mahmoud Ahmadinejad called the dollar a worthless piece of paper. He must be pricing a condo in Downtown New Bedford. ... More good news from the WGA action: The sequel/prequels to DaVinci Code and Borat may not be made. Now, if the writers can stay on the picket line until all possible Tom Hanks movies are shelved, I'd say labor has won once again for the common man. ... I've been reading Beowulf since I was a little kid. It's a cool story about monsters and dragons and bravery and naked chicks. Wait, was that in the Seamus Heaney version? Or John Gardner? ...
You've probably noticed the "widget" entitled "Recently Played" over there. That's a big fat compromise. I don't have the patience (or, let's face it, the talent) that others have (*coff*coff*bitterandrew) for "the music blog," and the "random iPod list" wasn't getting any action, so I decided to just go with this thing so folk can see the supposed contents of my "playlist." That my "radio station" can play Warren Zevon into Sun Ra into The Donnas into The Selecter not only gives you an idea of what records I own, but also provides me with more ammunition to bolster my argument that I should never again work in radio.
The moniker "GIANT Tuki" came to me in a flash when I saw the image she presented. It was only later that I realized I had recycled "Giant Dawn" from the Buffy Season 8 comic book (which is currently very entertaining. Particularly trying to figure out why everyone is suddenly a giggly sixteen again. Faith was never that "young." But still, you can't beat a good girl bath for exposition and character dev.) Giant Dawn really should stay giant. Only don't have anyone mention it. She's just the regular little sister, but she stays giant. I don't want her to become magical or anything. I don't want want to know what a "thricewise" is. And I don't want any drama with Find-a-Cure Willow or Shrink-A-Dawn Willow. ... announced its new e-book reader called "Kindle." Named that to put aback the people who call regular books "kindling." ... Celebrate, appropriately, the 187th Anniversary of the sinking of the whaler Essex by a whale. Wonder if the Japanese will.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving recess. Try not to make any appointments while I'm away.

And then there's this, which isn't particularly good, but at least we can stop counting down to the moment when it'll happen. Farewell, old aid to navigation.

Friday, November 16, 2007


  • Ani DiFranco and Howard Zinn both like Dennis Kucinich. Now don't start with me on the "he's not electable so just hold your nose and back someone who is." The key to taking someone seriously in this point of an election is to get ideas on the table. Or the tube.
  • And I don't mean the UFO nonsense.
  • If we ever allow Puerto Rican statehood, let's not let them represent the rest of us in the pet care business.
  • If Blackwater Worldwide knew what was good for them, they'd put veterinarians on the payroll and get a gubmint contract to take care of that.
  • As much as I love the new "Progress in the Name of The Ahts 2.0" stance that's feeding the rhetoric in the Falling River City, I always worry when the same people who have failed at defining a creative economy for twenty years mention "stipulations that the property be used for cultural purposes or private development." In a city where "private development" is the only culture, that's pretty disingenuous.
  • And honestly, if there's anyone out there who's from a small city with no arts community and a strong history of being unfriendly to education, literacy, and the arts: Did you have to pass by-laws or create "overlay districts" to get the arts into town? How's that working out for you?
  • Y'see, it works this way, like in New Bedford. Have a history of art appreciation and historical interest, some shops and museums, say. Have a school (like the Swain School or D-UMass) that teaches and employs artists. Have schools and museums and businesses foster good publicity for the city.
  • Anne Brengle, the much-beloved Executive Director President of the New Bedford Whaling Museum is leaving. Same Anne who said, "Nothing is impossible. I invite you to visit a museum and walk through its galleries where you will be able to see and learn so many things. You never know; it could change the course of your life, too." I was lucky to work with her during the much-ballyhooed expansion of the museum. Fair winds.
  • UPDATE: Ms. Brengle's going to the Coast Guard Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity that, according to itself, "distributes funding among all nine Coast Guard districts, overseas units and the Academy." They're based in Stonington CT, and are most famous for golf tournaments and dinners. No really. I imagine events will be a bit more diverse soon. She'll be helping to supplement funding the most important branch of the service, and continue the CG's commitment to excellence. in education quality of life. Go Coasties!
  • The commander of U.S.S. Constitution was in Fall River, sharing his aunt's enthusiasm for reading with the kids. (His aunt, by the way, is a swell sailor.) Well, his boat was in New Bedford. Is too! There's Fairhaven, see? Photo from ODHS. Thanks Anne.
    What? Oh, that's right. It's not The Past where you are.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

We Are Left To Remember Its Branches

What she saw"The two of us looked out at the blue sky, the bare chestnut tree glistening with dew, the seagulls and other birds glinting with silver as they swooped through the air, and we were so moved and entranced that we couldn’t speak. Nearly every morning I go to the attic to blow the stuffy air out of my lungs, from my favorite spot on the floor I look up at the blue sky and the bare chestnut tree, on whose branches little raindrops shine, appearing like silver, and at the seagulls and other birds as they glide on the wind. As long as this exists, I thought, and I may live to see it, this sunshine, the cloudless skies, while this lasts I cannot be unhappy."

-Anne Frank, in her Diary

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

S-T:"Dartmouth couple trades house for boat to do good around the world"

Standard-Times correspondent
November 13, 2007 6:00 AM
DARTMOUTH — Tom and Harriet Linskey aren't the type to sit back and bemoan the state of the world from a comfortable suburban perch.
Instead, they will quite literally set sail on a humanitarian venture.
The Dartmouth couple has sold their house and invested the proceeds in the construction of a 46-foot catamaran, which they will sail around the world in search of villages where they can lend a hand.
The Linskeys are giving up their life on land in favor of their nonprofit organization called Hands Across the Sea. Sailing on their boat of the same name, Mr. and Mrs. Linskey plan to take supplies and transport health care and environmental volunteers to remote communities where their services are needed.
The couple's journey will begin in Brazil, where this month they are to pick up their custom-built Dolphin 460 and head for Trinidad, an 1,800-mile voyage they expect to last 10 days.
Mr. and Mrs. Linskey have spent recent months networking with local aid groups and other cruising sailors throughout the Caribbean, as well as a number of companies in the United States that are interested in making a contribution.(read the full article here.)

NOW I REALLY feel like a jerk. (At least I have Hands Across The Sea linked in the Gam)

An explanation. Or several.

While my Beloved has been away, I'm learning more about HTML so that I'm not completely at the mercy of the two or three little icons above me here on the "Compose" page that allow me to change fontsize or show a picture. Everybody knows how to embed images. I'm playing catch-up here since I only learned Pascal before I was swept back into the Eighteenth Century. By the time I got back on The Beach, all the kids were img src and href and tagging and coding and I had enough trouble just trying to get enough space on the free webpage I got from The Deathstar to put a caption on a picture. And finding info on Usenet was hard even if you knew where to look. I could've taken a programming class, but I don't roll like that. So, ever the autodidact, I learn for myself by myself, pick up hints here and there, trial and error. And it appears that HTML is just one vile task after another.
I thought it would be a fun experiment to make a "Support The WGA" picture and put it in a visible place to show my support for the strikers. As if I hadn't done that already with my constant pro-Labor sentiments anyway. I just want to help, as I usually do. I know, it's a gift. And a curse. So I found a picture of our cat Tuki Flicka. She's not sick. (It's not lupus. It's never lupus.) She's a pygmy monkey cat, a relative of the flying corduroy lemur. She had stuck her face into my phone, and besides looking much larger than she actually is (three pounds), she had an urgency about her that, I felt, says a lot about labor relations.
If you click the pic, you'll go to United Hollywood, a site that has daily information updates about the writers' action. They're also in the Gam. You've probably been annoyed throughout this piece by flashing names. Beeping and blinking and flashing. If you "hover" your cursor over certain phrases -- the ones that look forced and out of place -- you'll learn some names of people whose work you might just recently have thought to think about. (No, I didn't use the "overline" tag. Where's the sport in that?)
Hey, look! It's TV's Frank!

Monday, November 12, 2007

She'll be right back...

You always hope you can get a lot of work done while she's away.
Are you ever going to take up that damned rug and put that hardwood floor in? How about the missing shingles by that window? Why not finish those damned storm windows and put them up? Because you know that she worries about you balancing on the ladder over the holly bush under the dining room window. Worries.
I mean, she knows the stories. You've shown her the pictures of you -- at least you think you remember showing them to her -- You climbing 115 feet up the main to untangle the jam in the flag halyard in the truk. That shakily crude video of you walking out (not crawling, but walking atop the yard this time) to the yardarm. Of course the part they didn't catch was you deftly dismounting onto the horse to talk that silly ninny out of her fear. And down from the rig.
Hard honesty is rarely welcome to the tightly-closed eyes of the terrified twenty or so feet up in the rig, so you come up with a babbling slogan:
"Remain Unafraid." (Get it? You never were afraid, so you can't not be not afraid, so you just don't let that in, get it? I know, but at least you're giggling. Now, just stop digging your fingernails into my arm...)
The ninny gets to the top and down through the lubbers' hole down just fine.
Of course, you end up having to put a nice harbor furl into the starboard side of the main alone as the rain starts to fly directly into your eyes and everything -- yard, sail, gaskets, footropes, ratlines, all the hardware, all cold and wet and slippery and you laugh that at least you're not putting storm windows on some 150 year-old farmhouse on The Beach. Because once Hatteras is far behind and Savannah and Saint Augustine starboard, whether you're en route to Bermuda or Key West, you're warm and missed. Pretty much.
In BlogWorld, spending more than a paragraph on a former job brands one as a pathetic sulky nostalgiac malingering in self-indulgence. But she knows that you just haven't published yet. She never feared life aboard. She listens to your stories because she knows about life off The Beach. (Even the Captain-Admiralty Lawyer guy, only talks about Buffy with you.) Old and spliced y'are now. And there's no batch of landsmen to haul the weather sails up as you place the final secures in the rigging. (Anyway, the songs aren't salty or work-inspiring. Jangly guitars and clever but morose lyrics. Not that forebitters are meant to be anything but distractions. Like everything else comes over the damned call box.)
Because there is no rigging, just a 160 year-old farmhouse you share with her.
You think of the sisters, but mostly of the one you drove to the airport. You love the other sister, of course, and her berth in San Francisco, too. You would have loved to hop on the aircraft, gone with your greatest travel companion to the Other Coast and watch the sea from the other side of that big beautiful bridge to Sausalito. But you know the mess made when the Cape Mohican hit the other bridge. Because you were here in Buzzards Bay for that spill a couple years ago. There aren't enough booms or mats or skimmers to contain your disappointment that a bow watch or a helm ended up pouring 58,000 gallons on all those crabs, herring, and those birds, some of which are just plain magnificent. Disappointment in our society's ongoing destructive addiction to that stuff. Disappointment that we refuse to safely transport the black gold we love so much. Disappointment in a fellow cargo sailor, now that ain't right.
But enough distraction. Back to work.
She'll be back Wednesday, anyway.

Veteran's Day

It was reported that he claimed never to have lost a night’s sleep after the mission, and some saw this as a show of indifference. It was the opposite. He slept well, he told me, because “we stopped the killing.” He was at peace, he said, because “I know how many people got to live full lives because of what we did.”
-Life After Wartime Bob Greene, NYTimes,
of Paul Tibbetts, pilot of Enola Gay

Today we commemorate the individuals who "made the world safe for democracy." Or "fought over there so we didn't have to fight over here." Or given "the ultimate" or "the most" or, realistically, "their lives."
Is it too much to say that we as a nation -- or at least its leaders -- have asked our military to do what we as a nation (or as a leader) cannot? Or will not? Is one day in November enough to truly thank a man or woman for learning how to kill? And then dying?
The "contractors" who work in Iraq for "security firms" like Blackwater will not be commemorated, because they are mercenaries, taking their pieces of silver and hiding behind a corporate logo.
But our soldiers get whatever lowest-bid body armor we send them. We "support" them by putting crappy little magnetic ribbons on our SUVs. We can't even keep their hospitals clean or their health care efficient or competently-managed.
But we give them a Monday holiday in November.
A three-day weekend.
For what we ask of them.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Friday, November 9, 2007


  • Congratulations and good luck to my noisy neighbors, the Dartmouth High School Marching Band, who won the New England Scholastic Band Association Championship. Next stop, tomorrow at Giants Stadium.
  • Sometime "in the next two weeks," Col. Green's Martini Glass is coming down forever. I was going to relate some philosophizing about how we've lost our sense of history and respect for heritage, but then I just got tired.
  • What'd I tell you about the "Time For A Change" gang in the SouthCoast? Incumbents are always assured safety! Although "Time For A Change" was the most used phrase in political advertising this season, it really holds no influence. The constant drone of it on talk radio and newspapers has effectively declawed it. Either that or the media is just a few loudmouths who really don't matter at the polls. "Time For A New Catchphrase."
  • It's a disturbing trend in political cynicism: A politician asserts that everything is great except for one thing, which the politician is working on so don't talk about it or you're just negative and obstructionist. Hop on board the Happy Bus. If you mention or dwell on any flaw, get ready to be patronized, ignored or ridiculed. It's the way The W is about Iraq, and new May-Ah Cor-Ay-Ah is about FawRivah.
  • Can't be helping Ben Bernanke any.
  • One thing I'll always approach with realistic caution and positive encouragement is the New Bedford Short Plays Marathon, which challenges authors, audience and actors alike with 20 homegrown dramatic pieces presented over the afternoon and night.
  • The local economy (New Bedford anyway) is doing magically well. At the new "merlot" martini bar last night, the group of well-heeled artists were discussing how the "developers" around here are actually just contractors. Actual developers develop, not just build. In which case, the New Bedford artists are the developers of a sustainable arts (creative) economy. Funny, innit?
  • As of 7:42 Wednesday night, the flood of visitors looking for "Persia" has ended. And nobody left a note explaining why they were here. I feel so cheap.
  • What's that I hear?