Monday, August 30, 2010

Fiona

There's this Tropical-- and since it's not expected (at the moment) to achieve hurricane status, it affords me the opportunity to post this:
Not typical
and this:


and thisFashionable
(This presentation features pictures of Princess Fiona and Gabrielle Anwar.)

Two Events

One might expect me to display a cynical crinkly-mouthed reaction to two religious events that made the news this past weekend. Well: "No."
And "Yes."
Fall River Massachusetts -- the town where I achieved the bulk of my spiritual instruction -- hosts the Great Feast of the Holy Ghost each year at this time.
It is impossible to express the pride that the Portuguese and Portuguese-Americans and people of Portuguese ancestry exhibit in Fall River. Except in Newark and New Bedford, where they are less old school about it.
I remember "The Feast" from my childhood as an educational buffet. A kid could learn about the culture of an ethnic group that was foreign (since many generations, countries, nationalities lie between me and "The Old Country") yet comfortably familiar. Strictly speaking: the food was deliciously familiar but the clothes looked goofy and I only understood a few words, and I wasn't sure if I was supposed to say them out loud.
As a young person, The Feast gave me the opportunity to see my connection to one set of forbears who had this fascinating history and culture an ocean away. A weekend-long lesson about faith, famiy, and tradition. That's a powerful connector of people with each other, with their heritage, and with their community.
On the other hand, relegate to history's dustbin the confused teevee clown disgracing the memory of a leader who delivered -- without corporate sponsorship or monstrous side acts -- a great and challenging speech about America's real commitment to universal civil rights.And to those people who insist that their god has answers to political problems, economic issues, social concerns, and personal matters, I remind you of the First Amendment, and the words of one of its authors:

"Ecclesiastical establishments tend to great ignorance and corruption, all of which facilitate the execution of mischievous projects."


- James Madison, 1774

The Federalist had never been to The Feast.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Its name is "Earl"


Danielle...

.. is a hurricane again.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Danielle

...is a Tropical Storm again.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Danielle...

...is a hurricane. Just like I said.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Reporter malingers over library director quit reason

Back last century, when the public notices for jobs in the "classified" section of the local newspaper actually directed seekers to actual jobs, I answered one of those very advertisements. I'd answered a lot of them during my searches for some way to supplement the meager allowance grudgingly doled to me by my "36.5 hrs a wk" employer at the time. I helped myself to other income opportunities as well, including an even less attractive position as "copy editor" for a weekly rag.
For the thankfully brief period when I deigned to contribute to the final throes of their attempt at alternative press, I was required to -- without giving away ancient arcane print layout procedures -- count how many letters (and spaces) I could allot a story and devise a headline according to those specifications. I felt that it was my obligation to understand the gist of the story and craft a succinct and appealing come-on.
For instance: If I were given this particular story (from Curt Brown of the New Bedford Standard-Times)

DARTMOUTH — Four months into her tenure as library director, Jennifer Inglis has abruptly resigned, effective Aug. 27.
"I just have found something else closer to home," the 37-year-old librarian said Tuesday in an interview with The Standard-Times.
She declined to disclose her new position or explain her reasons for leaving the $70,000-a-year job as head of the Dartmouth libraries.
Her formal letter of resignation, which was accepted by the Board of Library Trustees at an emergency meeting late Tuesday afternoon, also didn't shed any light on her reasons for leaving.
The resignation letter, which was shown to The Standard-Times, only stated she was resigning and that she had accepted a position closer to home.

...I italicized what I felt was pertinent. I also would have also assigned the same headline -- without the "abrupt" part, which seems subjective -- that was in the paper:
Dartmouth library director abruptly resigns
Except for the fact that our author seems to be fixated on the former new library director not giving "a reason" for her resignation. He hammers away at this "reason for leaving" thing, never accepting Ms. Inglis' clearly stated reason for the breakup: Because she "found something closer to home."
Which he himself reveals in the secoind paragraph of the story.
Reporters -- and journalism professors -- will tell you "never to trust a fast answer." But really. How much "light" does one need to "shed" about a resignation without violating accepted tenets of professional courtesy?
It is a different world than it was twenty-five years ago when I could work at a "career job" and at any number of concurrent "bills jobs." The jobs aren't there now, and anyone who can find a better position -- closer to home, with better benefits, better pay -- has no obligation to be jealously loyal to one job, one employer, or even one career.
Or to explain "reasons for leaving" to one reporter. A reporter who, it might seem, is the only one in town who's even asking.If I stumbled and I busted my what-you-may-call-it, I could lie on your floor unnoticed 'til my body had turned to carrion. Any statement for the press?

Monday, August 16, 2010

Should be a National Holiday

The middle of August here on the SouthCoast.
In an odd economic irony, just after the Massachusetts Sales Tax-Free Weekend, the public school buses start rolling out to rehearse their routes. Are Back-To-School shoppers already looking for deals on Halloween treats, or are those signs some stab at retail humor? Impetuous Autumn attempts lame swipes at these dog days -- often for an hour at night, or on a dry afternoon -- but not much more than a stray red leaf or unexpected chill wind.
But the more pragmatic climate prevails. One can still expect hot and humid days, steamy nights and the threat of a storm -- either sudden and electric or something more smoldering, of more exotic disposition, and of unpredictable magnitude and effect.
Damn but if that doesn't sound like Julie Newmar.
Whose birthday, August 16, is reminder enough to cherish every warm and pleasant moment.

''I'm magnificent!''

I'm 5'11'' and I weigh 135 pounds, and...

''I look like a racehorse.''



(The presentation features photographs of Julie Newmar. Because it's her birthday.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Journal's Fifth Anniversary and (brief) Return of...

SOLES'N'BOWLS


  • I used to do this every Friday. No, not martial arts. Or even Soles'n'Bowls. Just share sometimes random observations that I had made over the preceding week that I didn't bother to further elucidate in the pages of this Journal.
  • That was when I was obsessively conscientious about providing content for Blogger™ to place between ads. Since I have no agreement with Blogger™ to do so, I'm free to not do so. And since The Impossible Journal has never in any way claimed to be a regular, professional, or journalistic outfit, just like the other 47,832,106 personal online journals, I make my own decisions about content.
  • At least I'm not a newsblog that must check with people before playing obvious whimsy.
  • According to my records -- and the "Previously" pin at the end of the port rail -- I've been at this for something like five years.
  • According to my own recollections however, sometime during the year 2004 I began this as a labored experiment in historical fiction. Members of the crew of the fictitious 18th Century Royal Navy vessel, H.M.S. Impossible wrote in their personal journals or letters home of the goings-on. Which mirror contemporary events.
  • Little of that original experiment is extant today. And a good thing too.
  • Where it lacked spontaneity, it relied on forced analogies and some squishy scholarship.
  • After deleting a crapload of pages -- something that I have recently chosen to never do again, for the sake of future generations -- H.M.S. Impossible returned as a series of bittersweet reminiscences about my time sailing and teaching on TallShips™, and one of those ships in particular although I should have given the others more page time.
  • That edition of H.M.S. Impossible was not like traditional wooden boat discussion boards or maritime bulletin boards or TallShip™ blogs. Those yachties and Patrick O'Brien fans don't appreciate the realities of power struggles with captains and boatswains on ships held together with duct tape because the lubbbers in charge had no idea how. And I wasn't enamored of those outlets and their relentlessly Pollyanna content about happy entitled rich kids in the Caribbean with their parents' money on 501(c)(3) schooners.
  • I admit that it's no great shakes visually, but with this unmoderated online journal format with no tremendously entitled or whitebread supervision, I could grouse almost daily about the horrid local radio stations. Oh, and I mused a lot about politics and teevee and waterfront festivals.
  • I grew tired of the boat mystique and on that day, I morphed the online presence into The Impossible Journal. And until Verizon™ and Google™ force me to pay for the privilege, I shall play incidental whimsy.
  • And pictures of girls on boats.
  • Is this Maureen O'Hara. Or Maureen O'Sullivan?
  • Before "thousands upon thousands" of you fill up the comments section below with congratulations -- or brutally deprecating recriminations -- on my Fifth or so anniversary, be aware that I have activated the First Amendment-fudging "Comment Moderation" feature. To demonstrate why I have done so, I have left the "Notes" section to last Thursday's entry intact (except for one later entry by Shamrock. It was welcome and charming, but I had closed the curtain and exited the theater).
  • And I've learned my lesson about not praising the success of something two days before it happens.
  • Thanks for all of your everything. Don't ever not.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

"Youth is wasted on the young" ...and Youth are inflicted on me.

With the notable exception of a few very rare and brilliant children (that would be the talented offspring of friends), I don't have any strong desire to have children around me.
This, I am told, is a tremendous flaw in my character, especially given my age. Many men my age are on their second or third set of progeny or whatever they call it. Litters?
Few people avoid the obligation of children anymore, or the personal, property, and psychic damage that the little rascals impose. Gone are the days of the sullen disappointed pair dismayed at their couplings' failure to bear fruit. Now, that very couple can rent children and throw extravagant massively resource-squandering Transformers-themed birthday parties. With real Transformers! Celebrities -- intellectually and emotionally barely mere children themselves -- continually adopt little bundles of joyful magazine cover real estate. Seriously, what good is a $1500 status symbol baby stroller without some brats to toss in it?
Everyone is familiar with the old saw about babies: "They're sticky and they smell bad." This condition only worsens as they mature. Without proper attention, by the time they reach 20 or so, they really are hygienic menaces. I don't even know how Lady Gaga puts up with them.
Children are allowed every occasion to run around willy-nilly in restaurants, irritating patrons, screaming all manner of things and throwing tableware. I understand that some of them are called "waiters."
When I was a child, I was considerably younger and dumber than I am now, thus satisfying two requirements of Childhood. (The third has something to do with height.) I worked for a locally well-known businessman. He was well-known ("Fall River Famous") due to his money and his profitable political connections. As well as for his storied willingness to help children.
He provided his used automobile tires to local families so that they could fashion swings and playground toys. That's what he said as he dropped off tires in poor neighborhoods. He then sold the manufactured tire swings and playthings in suburban subdivisions as "genuine American crafts," and it is rumored that he gave some of the profit back to poor families through a government program that he briefly joined called "taxes." He often donated his outmoded business equipment and office supplies to local grade schools. Some of those mimeograph machines and novelty pens are still in use to this very day. He had his name embroidered on every little league baseball uniform. His own name.
He did these things -- good things -- for the children.
As is usually the case around here with well-heeled successes, many people disliked him. They had their "reasons," but those are allegations still to be proven in court. When these envious curs made their opinions known, someone nearby would quickly respond:

"He does such good for the children!"
As a young person, I felt that I was surely blessed to have the good fortune to work for him. Although, after a while, I felt that my efforts deserved some remuneration. I had worked for him for free, after all, for a few months.
Well, that's not entirely true. He had explained to me -- that first day as I crawled out of the burlap sack and loosened the blindfold -- that he was "dead set against" that "minimum wage" because it wasn't fair to workers like me who had to pay him $6.25 an hour until they finished their internship. Or indenture. He used both words interchangeably. When I said that I felt it would be more fair if he were to pay me for work that I did, he calmly explained to me that feelings had nothing to do with business and that I should just get back down into the pit and keep scraping.
His advice shaped my own business acumen, and I'll never forget him for that. Child labor law violations aside, it was obvious that he was a successful businessman who did a lot for children.
I am glad that he took me under his wing (or whatever that appendage was) and to this day, I stand beside the people who defend him as they compulsively intone that knee-jerk "for the kids" platitude. I stand beside them, but don't actually join in saying anything because I try not to breathe too much around those particular people.
Their kids are usually better conversationalists anyway.

Monday, August 9, 2010

"We don't watch the television machine, Mr. Petrie."

And glad of it.
This video was shot by one of the people who affixed a long banner which called out into the bay near Homer Alaska "WORST GOVERNOR EVER" during the filming of "Sarah Palin's Alaska," a Discovery Channel thing starring that woman.
Since it's not misspelled, and the lettering appears to be fairly even, I assumed that the sign was not that of a Tea Party patriot. One can never be sure, in these days of rabid distaste for government. I am also cynical enough to believe that this could easily have been what we used to call "a publicity stunt," now referred to as "indeterminate crossbranding" or "transmedia storyboarded eventing" -- a set-up for the YouTubers who would no doubt turn it into the most viral thing since that cat one and everyone will tune in to the actual show to see how it's handled. I'm sure the professionals' cameras were civilly inactive while "the talent" addressed her fans' concerns.I tried cable teevee long before that woman. It was community cable, but I needed to rebuild my CV after a rotten breakup with a dream job, so...
I was required, in some instances, to expound on camera for a minute or two in what were called "flying stand-ups" by the Community College Adult Ed video class dropout who fancied himself "producer." (I fancied myself "talent" so you see how teevee is a snakepit of rank self-delusion.) Evenings and weekends, I was working in dinner theater for actual money, so I brought my theater background to the set, hit my marks, remembered all of the words, delivered them competently. I cannot now remember a single thing that I once said.
When I could keep myself from making snide comments under my breath just off-mike, I got pretty good at ad-libbing these things, "flying" as I often did in those days, "by the seat of my pants."
Once, I was enlisted to "interview" a politician. By "interview," I mean "nod and smile -- or nod and frown when appropriate -- while the guy did his yakkety-yak." I knew the guy, and fed him the proper cues and he hit his mark, remembered his words, delivered them competently. I was impressed that we both seemed to be proficient improv artists.
A few days later, I saw the pol on a real teevee station, saying precisely the same thing that he had said to me: same inflections, same expressive eye motions, same practiced gestures.
To this day, I recognize the expression of those who prepare themselves for performance and I wait for my friends who are actors or politicians to "drop character" before proceeding in honest conversation, which they do. Because they are nice people.
I left broadcasting when my career path took another tack. But I mention all of this reminiscence because I feel a kinship with people who have lived and studied and trained and worked to become actors, newsers, talkers.
I feel sorry for them, as they eke out their livings working two or three jobs to make the rent while spectacularly stupid and unprepared morons take the stage, defacing the entertainment industry with their utter connivance or -- more accurately -- publicly subsidized guesswork at what is or isn't entertaining.
I wonder if "reality teevee stars" have to join the Screen Actors' Guild or the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists?
Is Discovery a union shop?

Hey, Fanboys

'Let's beat the 351 gibberish comments that you left the last time.'It's Gillian Anderson's birthday. I'm celebrating today by not being quite as smart as the character that I played in the Nineties.

(This presentation includes one photograph of Gillian Anderson.)

Thursday, August 5, 2010

It's Summerfest again! Oh, wait...

Among the conscientious in the event promotion world -- there are a few -- some common sense tenets are etched pretty clearly. One is: "Don't name your event what a neighboring community names theirs."
New Bedford's Summerfest has been entertaining the masses since 1854 or something, when what we now call "folk music" was known as "new wave." But The SouthCoast is an area well-known for its lazy careless determined nature. Crippled by symptoms like short term memory loss, unrelentingly plodding reinvention is what passes for innovation. (cue Chamber of Horrors theme) The Fall River Spirit -- with a totally straight face -- notes that Fall River's

Summerfest was conceived after the Fall River Area Chamber of Commerce in late May canceled FRCA 2010, citing in a statement "challenging" economic conditions such as fewer corporate sponsorships and volunteers and a "substantial" increase in costs The popular event had drawn thousands of people to the city's waterfront every summer for 25 years.
The "FRCA 2010" mentioned actually fell apart under its own staggeringly ungainly self-importance, volunteers finally sussing out three days without pay is indenture, and the public balking at paying for something that they felt "was always supposed to be free." And that explains why Fall River's waterfront festival should have the same name as New Bedford's. Blame the Chamber.HULK SMASH COPYWRITER!This weekend's Summerfest event (the one in Fall River; there are 9,402,871 others, btw) appears to feature something called Kid's World Festival (which breaks the "no punctuation in the title" rule, in this case making it appear to be ONE particular kid's world, sharply diminishing attendance.)
The SouthCoast has always eschewed respected precedent. Consider the moral, legal, and ethical challenges presented on a daily basis in local government; business owners' reliance on outmoded or delusional paradigms; the deep rejection of the terms "industry standards" and "quality requirement." Also, there's a widely pervasive "my kid can do that" mindset.
Which is why watching SouthCoast amateurs try to concoct marketing projects that should be left to actual professionals is so rewardingly hilarious. Of particular note is the use of "new" media by "old" media and how they'll describe "recordings" as "podcasts" or "commenting anonymously at the end of a news article" as "blogging."
There is, however, no website for Heritage State Park's Summerfest. And I'm not sure who the audience for the Kids World Festival website is. And its creators certainly had no idea either. Most special event websites are sharp and active with welcoming animated graphics and quick incidental blurbs of enticing adspeak briefly identifying attractions.
The Kids World Festival's (apparently unedited and mostly unreadable) site seems cobbled together from press releases and distracted musings aimed at adults but illustrated for children. Children who would no doubt find its banal clip art and 1980s fonts insulting. 750 words is a nice grant proposal but not an inducement to a fun-filled family weekend.
Oh, and is this a "501c-3" or "501(c)(3)"?
Are you sure?
I know that a new non has to go through backbreaking paperwork, pay exorbitant fees, and complete that rabies control quarantine program. Most organizations have to wait a couple of years before they even show up on common lists of charitable foundations. But since an important local media operative is in charge at Kids World (and we all know how the media is so exhaustively well-versed in non-profits), I could not be dissuaded from checking on the outfit's self-definition. The I.R.S. is, understandably, succinct:''Never heard of 'em.''I'm sure, however, that we're soon to see official evidence of the indomitable self-confidence of those brave community-minded SouthCoasters who have started this endeavor in the worst economy in Massachusetts since 1621 and among the least philanthropic sourpuss bastards in the world.
Good luck with that.
And have fun this weekend!