Friday, December 21, 2012


One word--I have many more to follow on this topic, but for now, one word for Mr. LaPierre and his organization:
Your guns are my business now.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


OK, I'm calling dibs on this.  I'll share the profits with all concerned, don't worry.  I just thought it would be good finally to get this in writing, for patent purposes.  We (my product and jingle genius wife and myself) have already been beaten to the punch by such things as caffeinated beer and a pooper-scooper-on-a-stick, so I am determined that the collective effort of a group of us over lunch in the dining hall a couple decades back doesn't get ripped off by someone else.  So, those of you who participated in the development of this--and you know who you are--send me your current address and direct deposit information, 'cause pretty soon the Self-Help Goldmine CashMoney will start rolling in.

So, the idea is that personality inventories are problematic for many reasons, mainly stemming from the fact they attempt to categorize many different possible kinds of person using one method that might not suit each kind of person equally.  For instance, one problem is that people like me spend fifteen minutes thinking about each question, trying to figure out just what the question's intent is, whether the syntax adequately matches the intent, whether any of the possible answers accurately reflects how I really think, whether only one of the answers accurately reflects how I really think, etc.  I suppose that the inventory makers try to account for that special ability, but my point is that, for people like me, these inventories are daunting, time-consuming marathons. 

To combat this unwieldiness and also to solve another problem (the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is my template for this*, as it was for us back in the early '90s)--that is, the current inventories, made as they are by psychological professionals, have as their basis a body of specialized, you know, psychology, and psychology is a turn off for a lot of people.  People are suspicious of the terms and jargon.

Fear not!  Salvation is at hand!  Our test, details of which will be released soon, pending peer review, will be mercifully brief and entirely devoid of any professional psychological knowledge or practice.  It will be so simple that, as you might guess from the snippet I will provide below, you can even administer the test to someone without his knowing it--without, even, being in the same room.

The task is to decide, given the four pairs of, shall we call them something like, say...intuitively assigned inclinitory modes?  Yes, we shall--which one of each pair are you?  Here they are:

Happy / Sad
Smart / Dumb
Good / Evil
Lazy / Driven

See easy!  I bet you're already done.  Take that, Myers-Briggs!
I am pretty sure I'm a Sad Smart Good Lazy.
What are you?

*Full disclosure requires me to admit that I am inspired--if that is the right word--by this article in today's Washington Post.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Raul Ibanez

He's no Aaron Boone, that's sure.  I don't have anything particularly against him, but why isn't he still playing for Philly?
I mean really.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Paying and Non-Paying

Speaking of debts to society, I owe you all some sonnets, yes.  And you'll get them, soon.  I've been ill, and "busy." 
I hate to break silence with this particular thing, especially given my reluctance to turn this into a political poster pole...but it's like one of those unscratchable itches, or one of those laughs you try to keep in your puffed out cheeks until they hurt from stretching...
I wondered last week--when a certain candidate "speculated" (I love that word) on certain terrible events in Libya--how long it would be before his campaign appearances became just him, standing up there at podiums, making explosion sounds and using his hands to 'fly' around like jets.  A week?  I wondered.  Two?
I think that I am close to getting my answer.
Can we just vote now and get this over with?

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Sonnet in Honor of B.M., Who Must Be Watching, Too

Ok, I'm trying something different
Tonight, because it is the DNC
And the Orioles are now in first place (!)
On nights like this I miss your company

And cigarettes and flipping back and forth
'Tween CNN and Animal Planet
While eating Arby's 5 for 5 with beer
And coffee and a break for some Swinburne.

So tonight I have the radio on
Bee-ay-ell to hear the postgame report
Of the game, and C-SPAN on the 'net to
Hear my people talk some sense sore lacking.

I know that this one doesn't rhyme but still.
It's mainly that I'm jazzed--'sup with you, Bill?



Julian Castro

I am looking for that "like thumb" thing here, but...where is it?

Monday, September 03, 2012

Labor Day

There is a strain of scolding that looks down
On spending Labor Day drinking beer in
Cans on lawns at lakes and in parks in town
And for the local team--go Os!--cheering.

The Pullman Strike, the Mingo Wars, they cite
Labor fights a century old or more.
To begrudge a man his brew on a bright
Late summer Monday seems a little poor.

Thing is, it's true, that what they did to earn
A decent wage and not get ground away
Built society--balance.  Don't let's burn
It up for small theories that all's OK.

Metaphorical Pinkertons: new, bold.
Your beer, not history, that should be cold.



Sunday, September 02, 2012

Duckpin Bowling Birthday

These kids are wild! The cupcakes really shot
Them to the moon. The old attendant grunts
Because he's spoken to us twice to not
Let them throw four balls down-lane all at once.

We grownups stand, arms folded, at the back
Beside each other; look ahead into
The cloud of young--like wasps--such sweet attack
Upon the lanes, the floor, the chairs, and through

The spaces of machinery of fun.
We brought them here, and watch them speed around
In sugar-driven brownian motion.
Each turn they feel some power to astound

Our laughs and scolds. They are spinning wholly.
The spheres roll, roll, toward the pins so slowly.



Et in Arcadia Ego

My six year-old teaches me many things.  His lesson today is that, if there be some frightening thing, some unfathomable and terrifying mystery of life that overwhelms me with a sense of loneliness or futility or fear, just put a sock monkey hat on it. 
Pain goes away!

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Sonnet for D.J.

You came into my class the second day
Of school. We cut short Charlotte's Web and turned
And stared.  You handed me the hall pass, gray,
But I looked in your eyes and froze, they burned.

I keep my arms inside my shirt because
I'm cold.  My eyes don't mean nothing so don't
Look.  Yeah, I flunked fourth grade last year, because
My teacher hated me.  Don't say you won't.

You sat outside our circle cross legged.
You listened, feigning boredom, figety.
Wilbur got loose--your eyes then!--when you said,
"I think that in his pen he felt more free."

What does it mean to have a broken heart?
Aren't they all?  How do you tell them apart?



Friday, August 31, 2012

Self-thrown gauntlet

I have in mind a challenge to my wit:
To write each day a sonnet for to share.
My horse is shy, yet champing at the bit,
And feels a wish to canter in the air.

My metaphors are fond of running loose,
And though the fields are weeds I'll let them run
Into each other publicly to bruise
And wallow, dusty, earthy, for some fun.

Though precious be the form and meter, see
The trot and bolt of this my chosen mode,
And though no Spenser, Will, or Francis be
I, e'en lame horses sometimes can't be whoa-ed.

About all this I am quite serious.
I start now, with intention, furious.


Thursday, August 30, 2012

Live Blogging Mitt Romney's Speech--WRAP UP

Looking at the maps in The Guns of August, tracing with my index finger von Kluck's sweep through Belgium and then down to Compiegne...that great gray slug smearing itself over depressing.  Why did I choose to read that on vacation, in sunny California, in August? 
Of course WWI was not a surprise to anyone.  Of course it was going to happen.  General staffs from Moscow to Berlin to Paris to London had planned for it for at least fifteen years.  That's what general staffs are for.
We all know the future.  It is, after all, right in front of us. 
Was it a good speech?  My mind was wandering.  I'll try to focus next time.


Live Blogging Mitt Romney's Speech--UPDATE

It's a tiresome truth that The Sun Also Rises is about WWI.  Every person in the book is wounded, of course, and of course the central wound is impotence.  I know that Hemingway has the rep of going way overboard on the macho crap, and that impotence is not the correct word, strictly speaking, to describe Jake Barnes's condition.  But at this distance from the war, I think we can take interpretive license to move our pawn one space forward to occupy the impotence square.


Live Blogging Mitt Romney's Speech--CONTINUED

Beth thinks I am silly for thinking this, but beer really does taste better from a glass than from a bottle or a can.  I used to refuse, at restaurants, the offered glass.  Now I take it, and use it. 
It is almost eerily quiet in Baltimore tonight.


There is a funny story about Errol Flynn.  Hemingway was showing his film "The Spanish Earth" to raise money for the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.  Flynn showed up, not knowing apparently, anything about Hemingway or about Hemingway's politics or feelings about the Spanish Civil War.  The way I heard the story, Flynn--no dummy, if a Fascist--figured out pretty quick what was up, and climbed out a window to escape.
I don't think that this happened in Carmel.  I think it happened in Hollywood.


Live Blogging Mitt Romney's Speech--CONTINUED

Barbara Tuchman does not hide at all her bemused but serious frustration with Germans.  At least with the Germans who ran things in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.  She relates stories of this or that German loudly proclaiming the superority of German culture, loudly insisting that Germany have dominion over all of Europe to rid it of trash and weakness, etc...and then this or that German being surprised, and finding it incomprehensible, when his interlocutor expresses, shall we say, another point of view.
And another thing: can a person be considered an interlocutor when he is being shouted at?


I often think things like this:  I wonder how many people have, while vacationing in Carmel-by-the-Sea, read Barbara Tuchman's Guns of August?  I then play a little parlour game with myself, estmating as closely as I can how many people have ever done that.  Sometimes I come across a convergence of activity, place, and person (usually me, of course) that leaves me with the inescapable conclusion that I must be the first and only person ever to have done this thing in that place.  I can't think of one of those right now, but this is probably going to be a long speech, and the subject is bound to come up again.


Has Facebook killed off blogging as a medium of communication?  Do people still blog?  Do people still read blogs?  Do the kids even know what the word "blog" means and refers to?
I know that this space has (like how I elided into the non-personal there, providing some emotional cushion for myself?) never had more than a handfull of readers.  So what.  But it feels different, now, than when I left off posting things here in '08.  It feels, empty.
I suppose that Mitt Romney would have something to say about that, but that's not what I am talking about. 


Live Blogging Mitt Romney's Speech--CONTINUED

Usually the police helicopter visits us at night.  Foxtrot, I think it's called.  So far, the skies are quiet.
Earlier, this afternoon, I saw what really looked like an old B-25 Mitchell flying over my house.  Had an old, loud sound.  Two engines, but big ones.  Flying west.
Now it's quiet, though.  I bet everyone's inside, watching the game.


It is very quiet tonight in Baltimore.  In this part of Baltimore, anyway--now that the huge garbage truck has moved on to some other place.
I think that there is a Ravens game tonight.  Beth said something about that earlier.  Football!  In August!  I remember watching the opening ceremonies of the Olympics (which was in July, mind you), not paying a whole lot of attention and then all of a sudden there's Peyton Manning on the screen.  I almost spit my beer.  The papers hadn't even started printing the wild card standings for baseball yet and here we are already talking about football.


I wonder if Hemingway ever went to Carmel.  Or did he pick that town, and Provincetown, Massachussetts--without ever having been in either place--as stereotypical of a certain kind of pretentious place?
I'll ask Mike Huckabee next time I see him.


Some guys are driving back and forth down my street in an enormous garbage truck.  I think they are lost.
It's really an enormous garbage truck--one of those that are so big their rear ends are curved outward, and with those big swinging claw-arm things to lift big restaurant-size trash cans up and over to dump the trash into the top of the truck.
Its roof is crashing through my maple tree every time they pass.  Three times now.  I would go out and help them, ask them if they are lost, where are they going, how to get there, etc...but I'm stuck here, live blogging Mr. Romney's speech.  I wonder what he'll say!


I suspect that Clint Eastwood is not speaking in Tampa anymore.  I don't think he is the mayor of Carmel anymore, either.  He has probably never edited a literary magazine.  I bet he's boxed, though.  Not at Princeton.  Does anyone know where he went to college?
I bet Marco Rubio edits a literary magazine. 


When we were in Carmel, I was reading Barbara Tuchman's Guns of August.  An excellent book.  Since we have returned home I finished that book and moved on to The Sun Also Rises.  It's funny--Hemingway, on almost the first page, makes fun of Carmel.  I think that we are supposed, if we are sympatico (yes, I know) with Jake Barnes, to think that Carmel is, well, a wealthy place where people go to exercise pretensions of an artistic nature.


We did see some sea lions.  Not in Carmel, but at Point Lobos--which is a beautiful, severe place.