Friday, January 30, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • Why do news people think that it's okay to complain that newsmakers don't call them? If I hear or read the phrase "telephone calls haven't been returned" one more time...
  • First: don't write a story about someone's reaction to an event without first getting their reaction to the event. To do so is just dumb shoddy reporting. You can't blame them if you don't know their opinion. That isn't deflection. That's just stamping your lazy little feet.
  • Second: If a newsmaker doesn't contact you, there may be legitimate logistical complications. Like: they're busy giving interviews to other news outlets. The ones who aren't manned by talent-disenhanced narcissists.
  • Or they might question your credibility. This is the case with the radio station, since the midday host on the local wireless mentions it so many times, you would think that it's a station selling point. WSAR: (dundunDUN) THEY DON'T RETURN OUR CALLS!
  • This is the same guy, by the way, who, after reading the news for three hours during the morning show, starts his own talk show and then, when asked about a specific news issue by a caller, apologizes for not having read the news.
  • There's a surprisingly salient and informative discussion (in which I had been participating) at Lefty's A View From Battleship Cove. In all of the media in Fall River, I have never heard even a mention of the creative economy. So, here's a blogger doing the yeoman work that even the Chamber and various "economic" entities can't.
  • "Surprisingly" I say because for a town full of freakishly savvy self-styled and actual experts on politics and government, they rarely discuss creative industries without saying something about "The Ahts" and how "nobody makes money at them ahts..."
  • What fascinates me about the judicious and intelligent online conversation is that one can actually see lights turning on for some commenters. That is encouraging, given online comment sections' track records as bulwarks of one-line partisan insults and puerile personal attacks.
  • Even the anonymite who keeps insisting that someone is suggesting some kind of "an elitist artists colony" seemed to slow his cut-and-paste repetition of his baseless assumption after it had been satisfyingly addressed, corrected, and rejected several times.
  • I'm glad that I could take part in it. Take a look .
  • According to this article, donating a kidney is a great healthy alternative to not donating a kidney. Keep that in mind when I call because mine have finally gone out. Which is unlikely to happen anytime soon, according to recent estimates by my nephrological team.
  • A common lament about Fall River is the lack of entertaining outlets and the coincident lack of marketing. Tonight: Michelle Shocked at the Narrows Center for the Arts. That'll learn ya.
  • Other communities have more creative ideas about the creative economy, including -- within the broad heading -- real estate:

Monday, January 26, 2009

Dumb Dumb Dumb and Wrong

Herald News again:

Goodbye tourism! Hello, “the arts!” Right now, people looking to get city government’s attention find the nearest condemned building and say, “We want to turn this building into residences and studios for artists.” Saying “arts” to a city council is like saying “Corvette”to my high school girlfriend; you’re gonna get some attention. And, Lord knows, I love me some artists. Whenever Fall River has an art fair, I go and I buy my fiancee a piece of that “jewelry” that’s really just colored rocks strung on a length of silver wire. If it’s a short wire, it’s an earring. If it’s a long wire, it’s a necklace. Medium length wire? Bracelet. My liking for (or at least willingness to buy) “rocks on a wire” jewelry doesn’t mean that I think every vacant building should be filled with colorful, paisley-swathed craftpersons boring holes in rocks. No one knows why artists prefer living in rundown 100 year-old rockpiles in shaky neighborhoods, but apparently they do. I think it makes the artists feel edgy and street-wise. If that’s true, then why don’t artists just go live in the projects and get it over with?


Nobody has yet explained why this turd continues to hold on to his moronic Larry the Cable Guy shtick -- even now that we've all decided that America is no longer a country that defines itself by belching the alphabet and saying nu-kyu-ler.
I am embarrassed when members of the media don't know things. Even more embarrassed when they swagger insolently about not knowing things. I'm not a member of the media anymore. (I have an online journal, which -- in some cases -- gives me the right to not use facts. But I do, usually, except when I go off and start talking about my life as a circus performer. And that's only because I didn't really and don't know all the names of the things. You know. The firey-twirly things. You know... no, not batons...)
I know, however, when I'm beat. I can't come up with any knee-slappers like offhandedly querying "why don’t artists just go live in the projects and get it over with?"
You see, the artists that I know live in pretty nice apartments, condos, some on million-dollar estates, and make no pretense of edginess, because that doesn't go over well at the Club. Nor does it go over well in the teachers' lounge, or the lumber yard, or the boardroom. They are taxpayers and mothers and fathers and boardmembers and whatever a lint-covered pen-pusher cannot ever aspire to or care to know about, due to its disordered personality.
Q. What is the worst possible kind of writer? A. The INCURIOUS kind.
It would never occur to him, bloated on his easy Monday column "gonner mek funna dem artsy-fartsies" reverie, to see the actual artists in his community. The executive director, the copywriter, the graphic designer, the cartoonist, the jewelry fabricator, the sound engineer, the architect, the guy down the hall writing the screenplay, the photographer, the actress ...
I always feel a discomposure whenever I hear someone deprecate artists.
Reminds me of high school when kids were afraid that the tough guys will call them a fag if they say anything about Drama Club. I'm sure Dion enjoyed his ration of swirlies.
Maybe that's the problem with the creative industries, They can't thrive where people act like that. There. Richard Florida wrote a hundred and forty-three books about it. I used a paragraph.
Marc Monroe Dion has insulted my friends. Friends who are seriously wealthier and smarter and contribute more to society than he'll ever be. Friends who have my enduring love and respect. (I save my readers by not ruining my entire journal entry with his inerudite ramblings, so you can read the rest here, although I don't know why anyone would.) Creative industries do not need to be lampooned in a newspaper column, just because the author is afraid of or unaware of the impact that creative industries have on communities. For communities.
I had to laugh that the second comment on the unwashed typer part mentions the Bounty. Sorry that The Foundation couldn't save you, "trenchmouth," from your life of impecuniousity. You were standing by with your arms crossed while the other unmovables sank the ship. (Which is doing very well now, out of the clutches of Fall River's cronyism and incompetence. Goes to England, even.)
It is exaltingly liberating to shout from the rooftop about one's devastating puerility, innit, Monsieur Dion? "Rocks on wire,""art fair,""paisley-swathed craftpersons." But you do no one any good. You destroy without thought. And you're not even any good at it. So the next time you want to berate and belittle the arts, Mister Shit-kickerHat, just remember that writing is:
One of those Arts.
Y'all.
Though one would never expect you to imagine that.

Secrets of The Internet Revealed...

...on a fortune cookie!Because THAT'll come in handy.No, not that side...SometimesH.M.S. Impossible: Solving mysteries and addressing those who insist that bloggers must adhere to arcane imaginary rules of journalism. Validating the meaningless lives of those unbalanceds who frequent newspaper online forums and comments sections.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Robert Burns, also 250

B-B-B-B-Burns! "Dare to be honest and fear no labor."
or, more commonly:
Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
Sae the Lord be thankit

Friday, January 23, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • Jeff and Benares and Tom Thumb and Brown Bird at "Calico, 173 Union Street, right in between The GreenBean and Salon Lola!" That's their press. I wouldn't know. It looks like a very nice hipster doll clothing store to me. But: music.
  • I think I get it now. The reason the local newspaper is so full of mistakes and the radio station is unlistenable is corollary to the old Muslim artist story. He would put into each extraordinarily intricate geometric design one very very subtle flaw. "Because," he would explain, "only Allah is perfect." Thus, the local media are being respectful of God's perfection.
  • Or, maybe it's the control thing. Since these weak pretenders to media professionalism feel powerless and controlled by their lack of resources and talent, they have to exercise their power over something by installing their own blemish into their reportage of that reality. It's a kind of vandalism; like a tag that claims something as one's own, like rubbing turds on it. You see this sort of thing in bad grammar and mispronunciations and the spelling on teh Internetz.
  • Either way, it's sort of pathetic.
  • Speaking of pathetic, some guy claims that there is history apparently buried under the geological formations under Fall River in a piece he did for about the Fall River History Club, a new organization that promises to have "no organization" (gotta love that honesty) and doesn't have an insipid and contrived acronym. Unless you pronounce FRHC as "frick." As in "fricking."
  • Perhaps "Save Our History" (SOH) sounded too much like "So?"
  • Which is, unfortunately, the response most people give to most mentions of history.
  • Plus: "bailiwick." O RLY?

  • I was, however, looking at history, how the Obama campaign developed, and I remember this:
  • And yes, History has gifted me plenty, and I appreciate it all more than you'll ever know.
  • Wooden boats. Remember?
  • John Cleese is still working with his daughter Camilla on the stage musical version of A Fish Called Wanda.

  • And: One more time...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pride in which we can believe...

Those familiar with the SouthCoast -- or much of New England, for that matter, as well as parts of the South -- will know this part of the world as the bastion of a collective psyche that is either crippled by or instructed by a Calvinist-Puritan-Catholic complex that sees Pride as a Sin. One of the Seven Deadlies.
So, you can understand that it is counterintuitive for me to say, "I am proud."
Remember at the beginning of the campaign when the now-defunct and irrelevant right-wing oldfart pacifier media completely mistook our new First Lady's quote about finally being proud of America? I understood what she meant, because I understand the nature of Pride as very personal and very valuable. While some denied her meaning and motivation, I knew exactly what Michelle Obama was saying.
Because that particular Pride is a special one; it is a Pride that doesn't just look admiringly at its own image in mirrors. It is not the Pride that won't listen to those of different beliefs or creeds or colors or needs. It is not the Pride that makes others small.
I attended the brunch sponsored by The Peoples Office to Elect Barack Obama and held at New Bedford's Wamsutta Club. I know the history of the "Warmsuppa" -- an institution that had only opened its membership to minorities forty years ago and to women thirty years ago -- and I looked around at my brunch companions, there together to share history. Although we were not on The Mall in D.C., each one of us was beaming with Pride.
There were mothers who were proud to have been able to bring their children.
There were children who were glad to have brought their parents.
There were people who had marched with King or worked for Kennedy.
There were people who sighed and sniffed and smiled at the elegant speech eloquently delivered.
I was especially aware of the Pride in the campaign workers. They are my friends, and I am Proud of them, their courage, their determination, and their success.
Yes. I said that I am PROUD.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Inaugural Wordle


Inauguration Day


Repeat as necessary

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Thanks, Dad

Here's Marc Monroe Dion, the worst "writer" in America, bumbling through a cliché-ridden minefield[sic] of grammatical embarrassments, "writing" about the most important family in Fall River: MINE. (Your mileage may vary. Of course.) Remember, the quote below is Dion's "work" which can be found among other similarly awful examples at the Herald News, which I link here.


In an old cemetery, just off Brightman Street, Civil War veteran Cornelius McAvinue sleeps, with wife Susan, under a grave stone that notes his service. It was not always so or, actually, it was, but McAvinue’s original stone was worn away by wind and weather in the decades after his death in 1885, so it was hard to tell where he slept his long sleep.“It was very weathered,” says McAvinue’s great-great grandson Jim Carroll. “If you were very patient, you could make it out.“It all started with me doing a little genealogy on my family,” Carroll said.
Carroll hit a “brick wall” when he got to Cornelius, but got lucky in finding the grave of Susan McAvinue, wife of Cornelius who, as fate and custom would have it, was buried in St. John’s Cemetery next to the sought-for Cornelius, under the weathered, nearly illegible stone.“The girls at St. Patrick’s Cemetery were very helpful and very patient,” Carroll said, describing the search for Cornelius and the part played in it by those who keep the diocesan cemetery records.photo by Jack Foley. Not THAT Jack Foley.
Here then, is the life of Cornelius McAvinue, Irishman, American, sailor, Civil War veteran. Born around 1812 Ballyconnell, County Cavan, Ireland, there is no exact record of his birth.“According to family legend, the church was burned by agents of the queen,” Carroll said of Cornelius’ baptismal records.
What is known is Cornelius married Susan in Ireland and then fled the country, as did so many others. They wound up in Liverpool, where Cornelius became a sailor aboard the Collins Line.Three children later, they came to America via New York, and by April of 1863, the family was in Fall River. The Civil War was raging.“He was 51,” Carroll said of Cornelius. “He told the Navy he was 41 when he enlisted.”After training in Boston, Cornelius was assigned to the U.S.S. Iron Age, which he helped to blow up when it ran aground off North Carolina. Two of Cornelius’ sons also joined.Cornelius returned to Fall River, and Susan.“He was a watchman in some of the mills,” Carroll noted.When he died, Cornelius’ obituary said that he was “very good friends with Patrick Murphy, a local saloon keeper.” The two men had served in the Navy together.Carroll’s search for Cornelius McAvinue took him to Ireland, where he spent some time with 80 year-old Paddy McAdam, a distant relative.“It was 172 years since the families had last met,” Carroll said.Jim Carroll belongs to the American Legion. One day, reading an American Legion publication, he became aware of a Veterans Administration program.“It’s a program to replace broken, weathered or stolen gravestones of veterans,” Carroll called and the stone arrived in a couple of weeks.The stone reads, “McAvinne,” the name under which Cornelius McAvinue served.“We’ve found 21 ways to spell the name,” Carroll said.There was a bagpiper and a ceremony when the new stone went up, back in October and there was a corned beef and cabbage dinner st McGovern’s Restaurant. The Carrolls visit the grave often.“After all these years of no one paying attention to him, it’s seems like the least we can do,” said Jim Carroll.

Now, the "Oh, you're THAT Carroll" will commence.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • In the interest of full "moral clarity," -- a term which The Leaver seemed to have said last night with no clear intention of irony -- I may not have been the biggest fan of the man-caught-in-a-video-game movie Tron. In fact, I can't recall ever having sat through it in the theater, even though I was going to movies as a regular thing when it was first released.
  • No wait. I was going to foreign movies sponsored by the college film club because that's where the attractive upperclasswomen went to smoke. The works of Akira Kurosawa and Luis Buñuel I shall forever associate with the smell of Merit Ultra-Lights and L'Air du Temps perfume. And the odd clove cigarette from the really interesting dance major. (Did we have dance as a major? No matter, she was still really interesting, no matter the reason why she was always wearing legwarmers.)
  • I mean, I know that I remember some sequences from Tron which would not have been featured in clips shows or film retrospectives, because they were tedious. But I wasn't a huge Jeff Bridges fan yet, which is kind of essential in a movie where he's the only one who seems human. As much as I love Babylon5's CaptainCommanderPresidentWhatever Sheridan, Boxleitner never hits the right notes for me.
  • Plus, he's married to Melissa Gilbert. (camera 2, get a shot of me shaking my fist at the lighting grid and yelling to the sky: "BoxLEITner-rr-r!")
  • So, that's why I was surprised to learn that Jeff Bridges is in the new decades-later sequel, TR2N. It just keeps going around, don't it?
  • Tomorrow is the 250th anniversary of the birth of Paul Cuffe(e). I wish that everyone would learn more about Captain Cuffee, and this article by Jack Spillane is as good a place as any to start. Besides Jack's preternaturally obsessive need to wonder at the vagaries of the subject's name, his insistence upon the wrong dates (Cuffe's birthday is, according to other sources, January 17) and his discomfort at not being able to squeeze in a reference to Hillary Clinton, he thoroughly eulogizes the man that the New Bedford Whaling Museum's website calmly claims, "... built small boats, made short whaling cruises, and studied navigation and seamanship, working up to successively larger vessels and longer voyages -- until he emerged as an important whaling captain, merchant, and shipowner at Westport, Massachusetts."
  • While I was "working" at the Whaling Museum, I encountered Cuffee's story through a series of happy accidents (I had to research my miscast portrayal of a Wampanoag whaling captain in something) and reams of musty old and odd papers. Here's one. I still cannot understand why this guy's story isn't widely-known, since he was responsible for a letter to the Massachusetts legislature in 1780 that led the way for the 1783 abolition of slavery in the Commonwealth, and granting the vote to all free men. (All right, he did little for women's suffrage at the time, but he was building a whaling empire and trying to move everybody back to Sierra Leone.)
  • Since I've turned, well, let's just say I'm still in the mid forties, I am now the proud owner of a Large™Lanyard or fancy knot study guide. You see, The Sailsmaker is no mere idler; he puts his hands, some paracord, and galley table (apparently) to good use and fashions lanyards, among other useful things. A Large Lanyard I'll let him walk you through the rest of this:
    Starting at the top loop 3 strand braid (1), to a 6 strand Matthew Walker knot(2) then a 6 strand French Sinnet and another MW knot split to 3 strand braid to hold a STAR Knot (3, inset), another MW Knot, then a six strand half round sinnet(4), finish at the snap with a variation of wall and crown knots.(5) The loop and star knot form a detachable eye to go round your belt (upper left inset)
  • That sure would've come in handy at the Whaling Museum. I had like a million keys. But now, my keys are happier.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

#3 Bids "Fare Well" to Number Six


Fair Winds, Patrick McGoohan
"Be seeing you"

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

from the "When I was a Kid..." files

It's not as though snow has never happened in New England.
I know people who have never been north of Georgia who believe that New England is a year-round Currier & Ives print of families skating to Sunday meeting and dogs chasing quaint sledges along snowbanks filled with evergreen boughs that sing Christmas carols and sprout wooden-handle 25-sleighbell sets, which every young person with the inclination knows how to play for the Boston Pops directed by Arthur Fiedler.
Once the psilocybin wears off, most co-minglers begin to understand that even when I wax nostalgic about playing pickup games of hockey on nearby frozen marshes, that particular exercise took more preparation than just lacing up the skates. In fact, after sweeping off a few inches of powder and scraping away the inevitable stubble of marsh grasses, and fashioning two separate goals out of driftwood, cardboard boxes, and expendable clothing, the game lasted somewhere between eight and eleven minutes before someone's mother started rattling the dinner gong or someone else decided that the ice was too thin.

Much like modern teevee hawkee games, except some former True Original Sixer isn't saying, "Igh-sticking happen when de guy take de stick, you know, and he go like dat. You don'do dat, never never, you stoopid you do dat. Now 'ere's a commercial for Tim 'Orton, is doughnuts an coffee..."
Bastardized reminiscences of hockey movies and Bruins games on TV38 aside, Winters in New England are this:
The Puritan origins of dismal, humorless, doleful, afflictive oppression; the eloquence Sarah Vowell came this close to intimating in Wordy Shipmates This is my backyard and driveway. All Summer long, you'll hear me gushing effusively about the verdant and burgeoning vines of Gewürtztraminer and riesling. "Come respire of the verdure and indulge in a porringer of Kentucky sippin' honey, won't you?" I'll provoke, after a day of tacking and heeling on the improbably suitable Buzzards Bay, waving a well-muscled but slightly grimy forelimb in the general direction of the estate's rolling fields of superlative vintages and their warm healthy glow of eventual intemperance.
But as one can plainly see, such is not the case during the dark months of Winter, when cheery pop records like Closer by Joy Division can only bring a little smile. Don't get me wrong, the sun can shine just as brightly on the hawks, osprey, deer, and turkeys, but when the temperature drops below 4° and the wind blows across those empty rows of naked vines in gusts upward of 20 or 30 knots, you find joy in very small amounts of green: Not so mighty a stem now, but it's been cold. Yes, somewhere in this .jpg of roots, leaf, bark, and charcoal, one can make out (around three o'clock) a spike, that someday will sport big puce phal blooms. For a plant found two years ago in the dark end of the "next-stop-dumpster" hallway, it's not disappointing as a Winter bloomer. We'll see how Winter blooms this year.
In the meanwhile, thanks to Steve, here's Japan's ethnopop sensation Shang Shang Typhoon with (what will ultimately be) a familiar tune:
Thanks, Steve.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Friday, January 9, 2009

Soles'n'Bowls

  • While I have you here at the capstan, I thought I'd share some boatbuilding and boat rehab news. Our old pal Ernestina is... Look, here's Executive Director Brawley, with a press release/update:
    Happy New Year! The capital repairs continue to make steady progress at the Boothbay Harbor Shipyard in Maine. A winter cover was erected over the forward
    half of the ship providing protection to the carpenters and the area being worked on. At this point, the masts and standing rigging have been slushed; damaged deadeyes are being replaced; final installation of futtocks and stanchions is underway; deck beams and foremast partners are also being installed, and planking the hull continues. The project is on budget and the ship is due to return home no later than May 9.
  • If you want to help: Make your tax-deductible contribution to the Schooner Ernestina Commission Trust and mail it to Box 2010, New Bedford, MA 02741-2010. Or, at least check out http://www.sailernestina.org/ or http://ernestina.org/news/.
  • On the other hand, some projects never should receive funding at all. Bono and The Edge, for instance, have a new project that will probably end their careers once and for all. They're working with Julie Taymor on the rock'n'roll musical "SpiderMan."
  • In better news, there's a better-than-the-jukebox musical turning some heads in Leicester Square. It's Hit Me! The Life and Rhymes of Ian Dury, playing untill Valentine's Day, even though opening night was cancelled due to a power outage. The chappy still can't get a break.
  • Back last Fall, I saw a little article in some paper about some well-intentioned maritime-history folk who are hoping to bring TallShip™ sail training back to the nearby waters of Narragansett Bay, which has sorely lacked such an influence for quite a while. I promised myself that I would look into it further, so before I started procrastinating, I squeezed the link to their (at the time, very undeveloped) website in The Gam, and then forgot all about it.
  • The site is much prettier now, but with less information, so here's what I know: The plan is to complete the Oliver Hazard Perry, which, according to the promising site, will be "Rhode Island's own sail training Tall Ship, providing our state with a showcase 207-foot long, three-masted sailing vessel to join the select fleet of Class-A size Tall Ships hosted by the maritime nations of the world."
  • And this I do not doubt, because I recently got a very urgent e-mail from a familiar captainy pal (who identified himself as "Captain Blood," but we know that Bailey is the old man on OHP) who invited me to Bowen's Wharf, Newport, to check out the hull. The hull that, with 5 million or so more recession-era dollars from those of us who don't believe in recession (we're known as "depressives" in economic humor circles), will be the Oliver Hazard Perry.
  • Of course, I have to check with my admiralty law guy first, but it seems that my bank (BankNewport, of course) has already slid them $25K.
  • But remember: the Oliver Hazard Perry will provide employment to local shipbuilders to deck and rig it. Tall Ships Rhode Island will single-handedly save the marine industry economy in Rhode Island!
  • In the meantime, they suggest, according to some memo or other, that "To learn more about making a tax-deductible contribution, contact Perry Lewis at TSRI, tsri07(AT)verizon.net, 401-841-0080, or David Guertin at Vantage in Philanthropy, david(AT)Vantageinphilanthropy.com, 401-619-3990."
  • One ship that definitely won't be making the Waterfront Festival Circuit is H.M.S. Beagle, and not because its famous passenger, Charles Darwin, isn't popular with the creationist crowds that show up for those things. It's because the hull is probably under a few metres of mud in Essex. The BBC explains.
  • And of course, there's this:

Monday, January 5, 2009

Blogging: Is it, as Sir Toby asks,"a world to hide virtues in?"

I was young once.
I can remember getting a new HotWheels™ and running it around and around, up walls in the garden, down into the plant beds, through the muddy fields, and back and forth across the asphalt of the driveway until the wheels were worn down and the little plastic windows were scratched or shattered and if there were articulated doors, well, they were no longer that articulate.
And that was the first afternoon.
Apparently, somebody in the SouthCoast has a new toy that they just can't seem to put down. Everybody's talking about it: newspapers, radio stations, everybody!
It's the Internet.
More specifically: BLOGS!!!1!
If I look around -- oh, let's say over there on the right, The Gam -- I see Aces Full of Links, Al Gore, Armagideon Time, C-SPAN, Cerebus the Aardvark, and Constitution (the document). "Aces" and "AT" are (in one case "practically" and in the other, "maddeningly") daily, intelligent, edifying, and entertaining presentations about topics which interest the authors. As you might surmise, their comments sections are chock-a-block full of brilliant observations and helpful discussions on a wide variety of fascinating topics. I read them and I have -- self-consciously and awkwardly -- joined the conversations. The Al Gore site is, like the Cerebus one, a site about a popular character; C-SPAN is television that doesn't require a subscription to Seventeen magazine; and, the Constititution is there because it just fucking should be.
I visit a lot of different sites because I am incapable of focusing my distractable and extendable mind on one particular vile task for too long. Thus, if I'm painting trim or writing about Eighteenth Century theater, I will also need to divert myself and look at A View From Battleship Cove, briefly wonder WHY in the name of all that is brine shrimp does shamrock identify me as a "Fall River link" on Fall River-tastic, and then I stop by my Facebook page (Not MySpace, however, where the kids called me "old." They call me old on Facebook too, but at least they're pleasant and offer me Werther's butterscotch toffees). And then, back to plowing. Or harbor furls. Whatever it is that I actually do.
You're familiar with my disdain for comments on newspaper forums. It's not the anonymity that bothers me, because every comment has a fingerprint and often Anonymous is merely a name that people use that isn't their real one. Sometimes anonyms are names that actually make the commenter instantly recognizable. They take on characters that are no longer anonymitic; they're actual names, like "Mister Pibb" or "Zaphod Beeblebrox." In many other ways, these "secret sharers" are made recognizable by distinguishing unorthodox spellings, CAPITALIZATION, and identifiable grammatical earmarks. But I don't see any problem with anonymite commentors because anonymity shows humility, modesty, and reserve -- qualities that are lacking in most political and social discussion forums, like the windbaggery of talk radio.
I like the new "All Anonymic" blogs that are coming out of Fall River. And from out of Fall River but about Fall River (which is, apparently, a bad thing). I especially enjoy the play at RadioFree, but I had to mitigate my own participation because I am only a vain wanderer on those boards and far from my comfort zone among those outstanding Anonymi (I made posts as "Thirdmate" -- with the above picture and everything -- and then as "PJ" and then, yes, after one final "stop dissing Keri, it's her blog" post, I finally caught on to the "everybody just be Anonymous to piss off Bob Correia and save Spartacus" scheme, and I ended my commenting pastime. Plus I don't dig the "Anonymous 3:15 is wrong to denounce Anonymous 2:48 for agreeing with Anonymous 2:15..." jazz).

Then I got all freaked out when somebody ratted another commenter -- not me -- for being a "Randy[sic] pirate" on Facebook. Hey, I thought, I'm on Facebook. Some people think I'm "piratey." I'm vain enough to accept the epithet "Randy[sic]." But, since it's hard to get Facebook info without being on Facebook, and you actually have to be a "friend" to get access to an account to find out how "Randy[sic]" or "piratey" someone is, I wonder who they were really talking to. About.
One way that people stay connected to each other through the haze of anonymazement is by knowing each other's IP address. Depending on what website tracking counter service you were fooled into allowing to latch onto your site, you can find out a blog visitor's location, operating system, and what brought that visitor there -- like did she type "pope fish Friday inca mummy Hannigan" into Google.
Of course, my IP address tells people that I'm in Malden. I must be very anonymous, since Comcast doesn't even know where I am. And I even send them a bunch of money occasionally.
But I hear that important local radio personalities know who I am because of my "override code" or some very top secret superparanoia delusional stuff like that. That's a part of the professional wrestling "us -vs- them" simplicity that they need in order to stumble from the car to the mic every day. But I get a kick out of the mistaken identity/confusion/Shakespearean battle of wit and wills.
Plus: Everybody knows that I'm really in Illyria for Twelfth Night. Think what you will, but at least I know who Viola is.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

"Unlettered Ishmael" Numbered At Last

You know, when I feel that the quality of local radio has sunk to abysmal depths, I turn to the trustworthy local print media.
Doubtless, you all have heard about the Thirteenth Annual Moby-Dick Marathon at the New Bedford Whaling Museum, held over this past weekend. You haven't? Well, click this link to peruse the title that'll surely win the Pulitzer, "A novel idea."
After thirteen years, international recognition, renown and countless imitators all over the place, it's hard to claim that the Moby-Dick Marathon ("Twenty-Five Hours of Dick," to friends) is "novel." But, there you go. You see, Moby-Dick is a book -- a "novel," get it, so the marathon reading of it is "a novel idea."
It's a knee-slap-- I say AH SAY IT'S A KNEE-SLAPPER, BWAH!
Now, I know enough about print media to know that reporters don't write the headlines. That's done by the copy editor or sometimes by the layout editor. But in these times of cutbacks in publishing, I really have no idea. So I can't "blame" anyone for the feeble-minded pun and run.
I need, however, to mention a little problem with counting.
I know Ray Veary. We've worked together in theater. I had the pleasure of performing one of his thoughtful and funny pieces, a wordy duet about whether a bridge is open or closed when allowing boat traffic to pass.
Really, it's a laugh spectacle. I'm not kidding.
Ray is a precise wordsmith, and so was Herman Melville. Anyone who writes something like four billion pages about the whale fishery's most obsessive rogue amputee chasing an albino marine mammal has a special relationship with words.
I have been reading Moby-Dick for years, beginning with the year that everyone told me that nobody ever read it -- Seventh Grade. Oh, I skipped a few pages here and there that time around, but I really was ensnared by its rhythm and timing, its sly wit and smart comedy, its simple plot, simplistic philosophy, and its impossibly convoluted morality.
When I got back on land last century, the Moby-Dick Marathon came about, I volunteered to read. I ended up sputtering a few paragraphs of some double-digit chapter at three in the morning (I remember six bells were struck) when I was told -- quite unceremoniously -- that someone else had specifically requested that very chapter. I was put on the stand-by list and never got to read that year.
After two or three years of various successes with pages here and there, and since I worked there and was known (to my co-workers, at least) as a local stage phenom, I was dragooned into directing the "stageplay" chapter, Chapter 40: "Midnight, Forecastle," where these brave stalwarts enacted the whole damned thing on the New Bedford Whaling Museum's foc's'le replica that Leon built. Now there are seven men pictured above. The shorter one on the barrel I cast as Pip, and the distinguished one on the left read the stage directions and incidental business. That left us five guys to play the fifty-nine characters who speak in the scene, depicting Melville's "typical multi-ethnic" whaler crew, including Icelandic sailors, Azoreans, Hawaiians, Serbo-Croatians, Aleuts, Dutch, Mongols, those landlocked Swiss sailors, and two or three guys from Nantucket. (And I'm sure Melville was biting his tongue when excogitating their lines: "I am a man from Nantucket, and..." You get the idea.)
So, you can see how numbers can get a little, um, thrown around.
Now, the first few words of any ponderous tome might seem daunting at first. And the actual quantity of those words might be a subject for literary conjecture, certainly, since almost every other aspect of the book has been debated and dissected for the century and a half since the book first made it to the shelves of all those people who have never read it.
But that still doesn't explain this:

Wait for it... Did you catch that? Here's another look:
Three! NO, FIVE! Inflation hits the first sentence of Moby-Dick. "Call me Ishmael. NOW FOUR WORDS!"
Ray is an assistant District Attorney. I'd send a note on office stationery.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

A Brunch in the Eye

And one for Mr. Blandings..

New Year's Day Brunch at stately Goon Manor is a perfect opportunity to look both backward and forward, and remember that we wouldn't be here if it weren't for having been, at one time or another, there.
So, as I looked forward to newly-discovered information revealing the historical past, and backward to the regrets that I refused to ponder last night -- so as to not ruin the celebratory mayhem of New Bedford's CityCelebrates! -- I enjoyed a sumptuous buffet afforded by my Beloved and the company of associates: my shipwright pal Woody and his indecently-beautied girlfriend Sophronia, neighbors Bink and Craisdara, and their brood.
Bink sallied forth. "I'm thinking it might be time to break open the bubbly and get some mimosa going. How 'bout it, old man?"
I agreed that it was time to unfurl the Salon de Mesnil '95 and newly-squeezed, freshly-chilled oranges, strained of every bit of solid. I did not agree, however, about the "old man."
Desiring a more lively discussion than offered, the unflaggingly comely Sophronia opined: "The media around these hereabouts is obviously wading in the shallow muddy end of the gene pool."
"No kidding," Bink flustered. "I was listening to that Fall River station because I thought I'd do some imaging for one of the local offices..."
"Oh, grand. Here he goes..." warned his wife.We interrupt this programme to annoy you and make things generally irritating...
"So I was listening. Can somebody tell me what a Wachusett Mow-itt is? I thought that cut-rate snow park was called 'Wachusett Mountain.'"
"Maybe the ski place has new ownership with a kind of dyslexia," suggested Woody, to cold stares from Sophronia. "Although that station did have a guy who said 'mink whales.' "
"And the other day," said Bink. "the news guy was talking about the Ponzi scheme like it rhymed with banzai: Pon-ZYE. I couldn't stop laughing. How can a region that produced Emeril Lagasse and Jerry Remy have such lousy radio?"
Bink's boy Berm spoke up: "How can you fossils listen to that static? Dude, you own an iPhone."
"Berm, don't depreciate our host's self-esteem," Craisdara modulated. "What's in this chafing dish? Oh! Kaya toast! Berm, Brig, Sonnet, and Cashew: try some."
"Berm is right, though. We do get everything online," Woody admitted.
"And then they make fun of bloggers," startled Sophronia. "A guy sits in a room, endlessly regurgitating nonsense he can't even substantiate, and then he makes fun of somebody who ... uh ... well, of..."
"Say," Woody spoke up. "Don't you have a blog?"
My Beloved answered sharply: "He calls it 'an online journal.' And nobody reads it since he stopped making fun of the politicians he used to see get loaded. Plus, he has this silly Carey Mulligan thing ..."
"I moved that. But it's still not a blog. Try the jalapeño-cornbread muffins."
"Blahblah blah. Ever hear of Twitter? You geezers are all so chatty."
"Cashew! What did I tell your brother about demeaning our host?"
"Dude. He doesn't even have Wii."

All right.
In actuality, it was a much more pleasant time than that. Because those few lines above were the only ones devoted to those topics. The rest of the day: Hopes for a great 2009.
You can imagine what those hopes are, and I hope that you achieve all of your own. Try to do some good.
Remain Unafraid.