Thanks

 

The first business day after the old man’s death saw me spending a lot of time on the phone. I kind of hate talking on the phone to begin with, so to clear my head I took Roosevelt out for a walk.

While in the park he started furiously pawing at something in the grass. Upon continuing the walk he would not use his right forepaw; apparently he got stung by whatever he was after.

This naturally occurred at the aphelion of our walk, and I had to carry the damn dog home, where thence he vomited throughout the day. I found his timing poor.

A few nights later, standing in the kitchen, I had a terrible realization: not only would I have to cook my dinner, I would then have to eat what I cooked. So I called a local BBQ restaurant, placed an order, and set out along with Roosevelt.

Exiting with my meal, I saw him raptly sitting at attention, focused on a man eating at one of the outdoor tables. The man asked if he could share some of his brisket with my dog, adding that his late dog had liked it very much.

“Sure,” I said, but also warned that Rosie was a generally ungrateful SOB.

“Aren’t most of us?” the man replied. I thought this wasn’t bad at all for weeknight curbside philosophy.

Accordingly, I wish to record that I have received many kindnesses this summer, and I am indeed grateful. Thank you.

Well, that’s certainly enough of that. The lodestars of this blog are Irreverence & Irrelevance, and, Gentle Reader, we’ll be back to that in short order.

 

Gone till September

 

I see you cryin’ but, Gentle Reader, I can’t stay. I’m going to write some other stuff for a while.

In the meantime:

1) What has four letters and fills your mailbox? That’s right, m-a-i-l! Oh. You were thinking something else? In that case, William Schaff can fix that. I can’t tell you how reliably cheering it is to receive mail like this:

 

2) Put on your cleanest dirty shirt and check out Sunday Morning Sidewalk, hosted by the estimable flightjkt. If you ain’t listening, you better be in church.

 

3) You may be astonished to learn that I occasionally exercise. In fact, in April I ran – well, to be accurate, artlessly lumbered – the James Joyce Ramble, surely one of the loveliest road races out there.

I was distressed to get an email shortly thereafter from the founder, saying that the race is broke and its future in doubt.

We hope to be a part of this mortal coil on April 28, 2019 for Ramble year 36 and perhaps you can help us with that. If you think your company’s marketing VP, advertising executive or eccentric uncle who runs a hedge fund might entertain a conversation about being a Ramble partner, please have them or you call me. [jjramble at gmail dot com]

Obviously, if I had the means, I’d underwrite it personally, asking only that the name be changed to the Pete and James Joyce Ramble. But my readership undoubtably includes those of fabulous wealth. Do partner up, eh?

Happy summer, folks. -PBS

 

Stultiloquies

 

1. I Am (Not) the Cosmos

The United States basked in the glory of a total eclipse on Monday, as the moon’s shadow swept from the rocky beaches of Oregon to the marshes of South Carolina.

The New York Times, August 21, 2017

The eclipse occurred while Twins 1&2 were in my care. I’d considered taking them out to see it, but – for, you see, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail – had neglected to obtain the necessary equipment. (I did briefly think about just telling them not to look up at the sun, but even I could sense this was exceptional stupidity.)

At the last moment, though, I thought “Good heavens, Peter, you teach science, and this is a marvel you and your children should witness,” so I piled them in the car and drove to meet a colleague who’d kindly issued an invitation and had extra eyewear.

I’m real glad I don’t have to – at least in this lifetime – look Carl Sagan in the eye and explain this next bit, but, through a sequence of events, instead of the eclipse we three watched the The Nut Job 2: Nutty By Nature.

This was the ladies’ first visit to a cinema. Twin 2 was enchanted, and her joyful laughter cheered me muchly. I’m biased and all, but it’s worthy of the Voyager records (her laugh, not the movie).

 

2. I May Not Mean To, But I Do

A friend and I were discussing things that are broadly overrated. I nominated peanut butter, New Order, and social engagements that fall before cocktail hour.

This is a subject for another post – indeed, it shall consume an entire chapter of my manifesto – but you know what else is way overrated?

Communication.

 

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Looney Tunes

 

 

Imagine if you could write something beautiful, only to do so you had to make each A on the keyboard a B, and each B a C. Or rather, the A a Z, and the B an E.

Why not just… Well, you see my question.

I’ve been picking up the acoustic guitar again, and have been seriously disheartened by the number of songs I want to learn that have alternate tunings. Isn’t playing the damn thing difficult enough already? I mean, yeah: I’ll see you a Drop D if it gets me the Cinnamon Girl, but DADGAD? SHEESH.

 

Scandalous!

I bought Twin 1 a guitar at a yard sale for a couple of bucks. She was particularly enamored because it’s purple, her favorite color. (I know. I choose my battles.) She’d been making noise – while making noise – that it was missing some strings, so I took her to a local music shop to buy new ones.

Now, Gentle Reader, before we continue, you must know the abiding passion of my life: it is to have others perform tasks for me. And granted, there’s a lot of competition for your indignance these days, but surely this store’s stringing fee will purchase some of it:

 

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Signal Values

Every once in a while you see a sign that takes you quite aback.

Maybe that last one on the list wouldn’t sound so ominous if it weren’t in a building that looks like this:

I was going to write something smart-alecky about how I hoped the Commission could see its way to concluding that women are citizens too, but after looking it up I hereby endorse it: http://www.mass.gov/women/

Note: This ghastly building is into the bargain called the Government Service Center, a name whose tripartite blandness worryingly recalls Idi Amin’s State Research Bureau.

 

***

The above sign made me think of one of the more disturbing signs I’ve ever seen. I saw it seven summers ago driving from Seattle to Boston. These were the happy days before a smartphone established permanent residency in my pocket, so it’s recorded in my notebook:

 

Continue reading “Signal Values”

Postscript

In my walks, every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that way I learn from him.

Image result for ralph waldo emerson

 

If Ralph “Where’s” Waldo Emerson walks past my inbox, he’ll quickly learn my superiority: I receive letters from William Schaff.

 

 

Check out his site, which has many, many such masterpieces.

(Personally, I find very remarkable the steady contribution of photos from those who’ve had his art tattooed.)

If your postal life is a foolish consistency of bills and cable offers, transcend with William Schaff’s mail art. And if you’re near San Jose, know the way to his show, which closes Saturday.

 

 

Marchpane

March is the month God created to show people who don’t drink what a hangover is like.

– Garrison Keillor

 

Image result for john bonham

This long March was composed by John Philip Sousa for the ball-peen hammer and performed by John Bonham.

Ooh, my head.

 

Hell’s Bells

 

1. Apart From That, Mrs. Lincoln

Years ago there was a missile test the Pentagon touted met 16 of 17 objectives. The one it missed was the target.

The ballot I filled out in last week’s election met with similar success.

For whatever reason the one I missed keeps bugging me.

 

Image result for statue of liberty
2. La Liberté éclairant le monde

The students I teach this year are immigrants. Wednesday morning I told them they are always welcome in my classroom, and always welcome in our school.

As for beyond, well, I don’t like to make promises I can’t keep.

You’d think with that big green statue out front this wouldn’t be an issue.

 

Image result for autumn sky

3. The Fall

Gentle Reader, you come here not only for wisdom and guidance, but also moral elevation. So, uh, here goes:

  • We are not (yet, anyway) so benighted that we are without autumn. And man alive, the way the light’s hitting the leaves this week…
  • My buddy Owen became a father!
  • One of my students was wearing an AC/DC t-shirt, so we had a lovely conversation that consisted – given his English and my Spanish – of almost entirely song titles and grins of approving delight. The subject then switched to Guns N’ Roses, and I was even able to use my illusion to conceal that anything not on Appetite for Destruction is a considerable step down.

Gentle Reader, I leave you with the uplifting words of W. Axl Rose:

Nothing lasts forever, and we both know hearts can change.

Rent Jar

 

Last week, due to a poorly constructed funnel, I produced a minor avalanche of peppercorns.

Such events are so routine in La Comédie Pete I wouldn’t normally record this, except that, hours later, I was surprised to read the following non-restrictive clause in the obituary of the UK’s richest landowner:

Its long-term lessees later included the Connaught Hotel and the American Embassy, which paid a peppercorn annually.

Personally, I could have done with a bit of explanation. I guess the Gray Lady agrees with General Yeager.

(Pssst, crib off this.)

Unhappy Birthday

[October 2018 update: it’s back! https://ageofuncertainty.blogspot.com/]

 

One of them was a quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. The other was the singer for R.E.M.

What do they have in common?

Who knows. Bipedalism and probably lots of other stuff. And this too: I am occasionally asked whether I’m related to either.

I am related to both Brian Sipe and Michael Stipe, as far as I know, only by the brotherhood of man.

But something else connects them, at least in my mind: boredom.

Granted, I’m not much of a sports fan, but I regard football as one of the more tedious phenomena to which one may bear witness. And I’ve never forgiven R.E.M. – once my favorite band – for managing to bore me as much as football does.*

Albert_Guillaume_15_minutes_d'entr'acte

 

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New York City Cops

800px-NYPD_Police_Academy

 

I lived in New York City for six years, three of them in Manhattan, not too far from the Police Academy. You’d see cadets wait at nearby intersections for the walk signal. Apparently they have to do that. I remember thinking if anything in that town could be considered authentically bizarre behavior, it’d be waiting dutifully to cross the street.

 

Don't_jay_walk_1937

I also remember, with great fondness, 3X80 and 3X81. These were the medallion numbers* of the two undercover taxis often parked outside the academy. Every time I’d see a taxi – which, in Manhattan, is like saying every time I’d see a hat – I’d look to see if it was either of them. But it never was.

Until the very night before I moved out!

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