03 October 2022

Expressions, Thoughts, Words, Humor A Delightful Mishmash

Tessa Thompson, because it's her birthday today

One day last week at around 4:30 someone said to me: “have a nice rest of the day.” It got me to wondering what is the cut off point? Certainly in the AM hours we would still encourage people to have a full on “nice day.” This should extend into the early afternoon. I’m guessing somewhere around 3:00 too much of the day is gone for having a nice day to have much meaning. But then when do we start with “have a nice evening?” Certainly by 5:00. I think there’s a small window for a “have a nice rest of the day.” Actually I could do without it entirely. It’s like saying, “well, you’ve pretty much shot most of the day, try to make something of the rest of it.”

One Sunday at around 5:00 my wife and I were checking out at a grocery store. The checker cheerily said, “have a nice weekend.” Uhh, excuse me, young lady, that ship has long since sailed. In fact wishing someone a nice weekend ends at dusk on Saturday by which time most of the weekend — certainly the best part of it — is over. 

I once got this: “have an awesome weekend.” Hold on there, son, that’s way too much pressure. I can handle “nice” or “good” but to pull off an “awesome” weekend is a difficult feat. You don’t just hand those out like candy. 

If calling various medical offices has taught me anything it’s that if I’m having a medical emergency I should hang up and dial 9-1-1. Every time I call a medical professional the voice mail greeting begins, “you have reached such-and-such office, if you’re having a medical emergency, hang up and dial nine-one-one.” Thanks, for the tip. I’ve gotten this message when calling cardiology offices, my GP, psychiatrists, dermatologists and podiatrists. 

No one ever shoves off anymore. You also rarely hear people say they’re going to “take off.” Saying “I’m going to split” has similarly fallen out of fashion.

Ever hear people say they’d like to be a fly on the wall for such-and-such conversation? Not me. Being a fly would suck for more reasons than I have the desire to enumerate.

Which is better to receive: high praise, plaudits, encomiums, hosannahs, acclimation, acclaim, hurrahs, commendations or kudos? All are nice but I think I prefer cash rewards.

It doesn’t seem as though Brits say cheerio much anymore. More’s the pity.

One expression I’m glad to see fading away is: “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” Which often came with the addendum, “and if you do, do it better.” Too vague. Please specify those things you “wouldn’t do.” Are we talking drugs, alcohol, sex, reckless physical endeavors? I'm  only left to wonder.

Speaking of vague: “have a good one!” A good what? Would it kill you to specify. One assumes you mean have a good day or weekend but it that’s the case why not say it?

I’m having surgery on Thursday to have a pacemaker shoved into my chest. Here’s something I’m expecting to be told by well-meaning people: “we’ll be thinking of you” or “you’ll be in our thoughts.” But what exactly you’ll be thinking and what thoughts you’ll have are left unsaid. Oh well, it’s the thought that counts. 

Have a good one, everybody!


26 September 2022

You've Got to Have Heart

It’s a cool Monday morning and I’m alive and healthy. True, I’m having a pacemaker shoved into my chest in ten days but it’s not because of any discomfort I’m experiencing. My heart rate is too slow and I have atrial fibrillation which means my heart often beats in flurries -- when it's not too slow. I notice it but it never prevents me from doing anything. Still if left untreated it can cause problems down the road and I do not want problems down the road or the street or avenue or boulevard or highway or esplanade or strada or lane or anything else. I’ll only miss two days of work and will have just the one night in hospital. There’ll be a couple of weeks before I can workout and for a week after the “procedure” I’ll be restricted to sponge baths. There’s also going to be a monitor by the side of my bed for the rest of my time on this planet but I don’t see that as in anyway inhibiting. I have a friend who has a pacemaker and he’s told me about the ins and outs though there aren’t many of either. I don’t have to change my diet or exercise more so it seems that life will return to normal — whatever the hell that is.

I had a great Saturday watching the California Golden Bears defeat the University of Arizona, 49-31. What fun to cheer two seventy-plus-yard touchdown runs by Cal’s freshman sensation, Jaydn Ott. There were other offensive fireworks from the locals and key defensive stops to prompt fist-pumping, leaping, high fives and hugs. Nothing like a home team victory in a college football game. The high carries into the next day and indeed I'm feeling lingering effects of the jubilation as I write this.

Life is pretty good these days though I’d never know it on days when I’m struggling with depression, anxiety or both. The more I deal with these plagues the more unfair they seem. After all, I’m healthy (my somewhat dodgy heart notwithstanding) enjoying teaching, love writing am happily married and have film, books, sports, music to keep me entertained and stimulated.  Part of my problem is that I live with regrets. I made too many mistakes in the past to possibly recount even in a multi-volume autobiography. You’d think that at some point I’d realize that those mistakes can only be learned from, not changed, and it’s better to appreciate the many blessing I’ve had in life. You’d think. After all, despite all the missteps I have a great marriage, two wonderful and successful daughters and everything else that makes life grand -- aside from untold riches. Or even told riches.My brain could use a pacemaker, something that would straighten my thinking out when it goes dark and pointless and it meanders down dark, lonely roads to nowhere. That would be nice.

I turned the novel over to my editor/wife after working on it most days over the last twenty months. It’s weird not to be hanging out with the characters I’ve created. I know them so well and have great affection for them. I’m hopeful that this book will find a publisher and reach many, many readers. I’m convinced it’s entertaining, thought-provoking and an excellent chronicle of the Sixties. I'll keep my faithful readers (Gavin Huckleberry of Appleton Wisconsin) updated on its progress.

I’ve been looking over the first draft of a novel I was working on when I was inspired to write Untitled Sixties Novel. It’s very different and Im enjoying it, am impressed by it and proud of it. The trifecta! It may end up being novel number four. Fingers are crossed, but not for long as I need them for typing.

I realize that I’ve not written much on this here blog of late but….maybe that will change in the weeks to come. Not working on novel #3 and only pecking away at #4. Hang in with me dear reader -- you’ve got to have heart.

19 September 2022

More News and Notes From the Latest Streams of Unconsciousness Newsletter

Dua Lipa will perform at Streams in November

Premium members of Streams of Unconsciousness, receive a monthly newsletter. As a teaser, here's some experts from last month's missive. 

In a cost-cutting measure the Fall Jamboree and the Autumn Jubilee have been combined and re-branded as the October Bash. It will be held this year on October 15 at the Streams of Unconsciousness Fairgrounds. Admission is free for attendees between twelve and sixty-five years of age. Youth tickets are $35 and Seniors $40. See you there!

The gift shop is once again carrying the popular Streams of Unconsciousness doilies. Also now in stock are Streams fedoras and girdles. Hoodies will be two per cent off for the rest of the month!

Just a heads up, the Streams bake shop will be closed on Monday September 26 for yearly maintenance. Plan accordingly.

Tuesday bake sales have been moved to Thursday and will now be known as Thursday bake sales. Make a note. 

Our director of marketing, Percival Pinwheel is stepping down at the end of October to take a position with Al-Qaeda. Join us in wishing Percy the best!

More comings and goings: Hans Gertfröbe, that dashing young chap in the mailroom, has been re-assigned to our legal department where he’ll help deal with the many libel suits we face at Streams. Welcome Liza Clockenlocker our new community outreach coordinator. She’ll be taking over for Ned “Jonesy” Johnson who was recently fired for malfeasance. Also departing is Charlene Evergood who retires at the end of the month. We wish Charlene (aka Goody) and her husband Roscoe all the best as they live out their life-long dream of owing and operating a nicknack store in the Yukon wilderness. Also coming on board is our new quality assurance associate, Lance Boyle. Lance comes to us straight out of high school having recently graduated from Methadone High School in the Bronx. Go get ‘em, Lance! Lastly, long time receptionist Chita Istanbul is leaving us to take a position in the defense department with the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Streams is proud to announce it will be partnering with Industrial Workers of the World in promoting and fomenting labor unrest throughout the western world. The Streams/Wobblies partnership will focus on creating a worker’s paradise. Viva la Revolution!

Our November concert will be officially announced later this week but a little birdie tells us that scheduled performers will include Paul McCartney, Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Usher, Dua Lipa, Coldplay and Billie Ellish. Tickets will go on sale Friday and they’ll range from five to twenty-five dollars in the VIP section.

In sports: The Streams cricket team ended their season with a flourish and took second place in their league. Things are looking up for our sumo wrestlers who are currently undefeated heading into their big match with Apple. Let’s take a bite out of them, lads! Meanwhile our dog sled team is training for the coming campaign. Ask about season tickets!

Reminders: our competitive haiku team opens its 2022-23 schedule Saturday at the Streams Pavilion. Our opening tilt is nearly sold out, so act now! The day care center has been refurbished and earthquake proofed, also the sharp metal spikes have been removed from the play structures by popular request. Drop the kiddies off. Finally, the Rufus T. Firefly Streams Museum has opened  a new wing with dazzling and amazing exhibits to stimulate, excite and illuminate. Don’t miss it!

12 September 2022

My Wonderful Weekend, A Football Game Sandwiched In Between Four Films

L to R, Pangborn, Bracken and Demarest, Hail the Conquering Hero

My weekend was nice.

I watched Bullit (1968)Yates Friday afternoon, a film I first saw upon its initial release. I’ve never stopped loving it. My enjoyment of it comes despite the confusing — dare I say — plot. The script is a bit of a mess but director Peter Yates managed to rescue it. Supposedly an iffy script dooms a movie, but here is an exception to the rule. Of course the film would be nothing without Mr. Cool himself, Steve McQueen in the lead role. Bullit and The Great Escape (1963 J. Sturges were McQueen at his coolest. That the gorgeous Jaqueline Bisset played his love interest didn’t hurt either. McQueen is not only up against the mob (or the “organization” as everyone in the film calls it) but a crusading District Attorney (Robert Vaughn in his self-proclaimed best performance) who cares more about self-promotion than justice. The city of San Francisco is another main character and looks lovely throughout. It is highlighted in the film’s famous chase scene where, as those of us familiar with SF can vouch, a car turns down a street near the marina and suddenly is on the other side of town. Details are not what Bullit is all about. It is about maverick detective trying to do the right thing in the face of a criminal gang and slimy politician. That he goes about his business as such a cool guy enhances the fun immeasurably. The car chase scene is a masterclass in directing and editing. Two other chases -- on foot -- the latter at the movie's climax, are also noteworthy. 

Friday night I watched Preston Sturges’ Hail the Conquering Hero (1944) P. Sturges, the last of an incredible run of seven great pictures in five years that Sturges made from 1940-1944 (among them classics like Sullivan’s Travels (1941) and The Lady Eve (1941)). This is a film dominated by outstanding performances from supporting players, most were part of Struges’ “stock company” of regular bit players. The “star” of the film is Eddie Bracken, not exactly someone who shone in the firmament, but the shining is done here by lesser knowns particularly William Demarest and Franklin Pangborn who may have had more screen times and more lines in Hero than they did in any other picture. Harry Hayden as Doc Bissell, Jimmy Conlin as Judge Dennis and Raymond Wilburn as Mayor Noble also excel. It's especially nice to see Pangborn, who appeared in a plethora of great films in tiny roles, get some room to shine as the fussy befuddled and oh-so-well-intentioned Committee Chairman. Hail the Conquering Hero is a brilliant satire on the excesses of hero worship and its nefarious influence on the serious business of politics but is also a touching look at a community rallying together for decency and honesty. If Hero has a fault at all it could be that Bracken overplays his part at times (he was no Brando) but then his scenery chewing fits into the general zaniness that permeates the story. Like Bullit, I can’t wait to watch it again.

From Saturday's game photo by author
On Saturday I went to a college football game, watching my beloved Cal Bears take on the heavy underdogs from UNLV. The Bears stormed out to a 14-0 lead and it looked like we’d be able to enjoy a pleasant, relaxed afternoon of cheering our team as they scored an endless series of touchdowns. But that is not the way of Cal football. Our heroes only managed six more points the rest of the game and had to rely on late-game defensive heroics to win by the skins of their teeth, 20-14. The ending was thus exciting and we cheered mightily as the final gun sounded and the home team had prevailed. No matter the sloppiness of play nor the lowliness of our opposition, it was a win and as such should be savored. That we did. A compatriot and I led a chant, with another we linked arms to sing along as Hail to California was played and I skipped down the street in celebration with the marching band who were having the time of their lives. It was all great fun. At home I read an online recap of the game where comments were generally very negative, fulminating against the Bears for their poor play. The game was a travesty, disaster was surely to come, heads must roll, the sky was falling. I marveled at how seriously people take college football and their inability to enjoy a simple win. Most, I speculated, had not been at the game and thus missed the excitement coursing through the stands as the defense held and held again. And what if the Bears had lost? Surely these same folks claiming gloom and doom would be flying off tall buildings. And how must they react to other more important issues such climate change, war in Ukraine, floods in Pakistan, global pandemics and American democracy in peril? Anyway, I had a damn good time and make no apology for it. 

Saturday evening the missus and I watched The Secret of Roan Inish (1994) Sayles which I’d not seen in about twenty-five years. It had been a favorite of mine back then and I was curious to see how I’d view it over two decades later. I liked it. A lot. Quite simply it’s a lovely story of a ten-year-old girl sent to live with her grandparents on an Irish isle to get away from the big city after her mother’s death. There she is told magical tales about a baby brother living on the open sea in a large wooden cradle and seals that can transform into beautiful women called selkies. These fables come true before her eyes and the resulting story is as magical as its premise. After watching Inish you’ll want to visit the Emerald Isle, I know I do. 

Sunday afternoon I watched another film that I hadn’t seen in about twenty five years, Se7en (1995) Fincher. It’s a film most remembered for its shocking ending, once you’ve seen it that particular “thrill” is gone. David Fincher is an excellent director (Fight Club (1999) and Zodiac (2007) are masterpieces) and his attention to detail, lighting and ability to sustain tension are evident here. There’s not a yawn in the picture, even knowing how it’s going to end. Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman are solid co-stars and their relationship slips neither into the good buddy cops nor the opposites attract cliches. The plot sometimes strains credulity but not enough to totally distract us from a compelling story. In other words, it holds up.

My weekend held up rather nicely too. I also managed to squeeze in a workout, reading the Sunday New York Times, taking a big chunk off the latest novel I’m reading (Elizabeth Strout’s Oh William!) and kept up with household chores. Now it’s back to ye olde grind.

01 September 2022

My Day -- With a Special Emphasis on Turkeys and My Walk to Work

A turkey of the type that lives on our block

Some mornings there are turkeys. We have a family living in our neighborhood. They’re generally only out and about in the early morning or at dusk. Unlike some turkeys they are not aggressive, but neither are they particularly friendly. I don’t believe it’s in a turkey to be amiable to the approaches of humans. They clearly are aware of Thanksgiving -- their holocaust.

Two days ago there was one family member in front of our house when I went to get the morning paper. It made it’s way across the street and I noted that it left behind a feather. Turkey feathers are rather attractive. Turkeys themselves however are unsightly creatures. But put a puppy's head on them and you've got something.

Last night I walked to the front of the house. Staring at me through the window were two adult turkeys. Upon seeing me they departed the premises. 

In an hour I’ll walk to work. I tell everyone that one of the blessings of my job is that it is but a fifteen-minute walk from home. That’s a bald-faced lie. It’s eighteen minutes. (Please don’t tell.) Most days this summer the morning fog has been draped over the city. This is most pleasing because absent that fog I’ve got the damn sun blaring into my face. Even my sunglasses can’t fully protect me from its annoying rays. 

For a few months I hardly saw a soul for most of my walk. But now school is in session and there are packs of high school students everywhere as well as some walking alone. High school students can be anywhere from fourteen to eighteen. They come in all sizes, shapes and attire. Some are clearly rebelling against society (though they probably couldn’t articulate exactly why). Others are trying not to be noticed. Some are gregarious others painfully shy. Some appear studious, others are social butterflies, still others live in both worlds. High school students — like most of us — appear quite different at 8:20 AM than they will at noon or at 3:00 PM. The chatter is at normal tones and not terribly animated in the morning. Later in the day they’ll be boisterous, some feral. 

Most take little notice of me, some random all man. Occasionally one (invariably a female) will acknowledge me with a friendly smile. But adults are generally invisible to teenagers, excepting those they have to directly deal with like parents and teachers.

I also stroll past an elementary school. Wee ones are already being led around by adults while others are being dropped off by moms and dads.The little cherubs know too little of the world to be anything but eager and excited. A few of the younger ones show displeasure at their parents’ departure but quickly adjust. The parents seem impossibly young to me, after all many are around my daughters' ages.

By the time I get to the intersection of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way and Allston Way I am directly across the street from the high school. The intersection is chockablock with high schoolers. Cars are streaming down the street and traffic lights are defied at one’s own peril. 

Crossing the street I part company from my teenaged travel companions and cut through a small downtown park. It is a haven to the homeless, addicts, a few lost souls and skateboarders. There is a Veteran’s Memorial Building across the street which provides free meals, so many in the park are having their morning repast. (Interestingly, high school students take over the park during their lunch and the mendicants make way.)

Once out of the park — always leery of some loon with a knife mistaking me for their arch enemy — I have but a block before I reach school. There are two colleagues who have arrived before by a minute or two. We exchange morning pleasantries then I get my materials and set up camp in my classroom. 

Work days fly by. It’s like that when you enjoy your work and most especially when you teach but one class. In the middle of class there is a twenty-minute break. I have a snack and get some air. Often I chat with co-workers, particularly my boss who supports the same Premier League team as I do. 

My walk home is faster because it is on a downward slope. I’ve never timed it, but I believe it to be two minutes shorter than the morning stroll. 

The city is fully awake by this time. I encounter all manner of citizen including moms pushing strollers, truant high schoolers, gardeners, construction workers, people running errands and folks out for a stroll. 

Home again I am greeted by my wife. The rest of the day is ours. I variously write, read, watch a film, go for a walk or nap. The missus and I often have pleasant chats.

It’s a good life — turkeys or no.

29 August 2022

I Offer An Apology for Comments on this Blog Made Five Years Ago

At times in my life I’ve been obnoxious, insensitive, even cruel. I’ve hurt feelings, sometimes badly. I suppose I can take solace in the fact that I’ve never physically harmed anyone and am reasonably certain I’ve caused no one any long-term damage. But still…..

Demon rum has contributed to some of the vitriol I’ve spit out. But in the nearly thirty-five years since I got sober, there’s been plenty of bile that I’ve spewed on people.

Through all the introspection I’ve done, I’ve concluded that I’m not a bad person and have done far more good than bad. My children, my nieces and nephews and their children, my wife and cousins and my late aunts, uncles, parents and grandparents all have or do hold me in high regard. Of the middle school students I taught I’d estimate that ninety per cent have fond memories of me and indeed many were inspired by the force of my personality and teaching. As an ESL teacher I believe myself to be even more popular. Most colleagues have liked me and enjoyed working with me although a few were stung by the kind of nasty remark I’m prone to making. I’ve had many friends and acquaintances and with most I’ve always maintained good relationships but that there are glaring exceptions hurts me to no end.

All of this came to mind when I read a blog post I wrote five years ago. In it I mentioned a memorial service I’d recently attended. I took the time to mention that I saw an acquaintance, there, one I’d always been fond of, for the first time in ten years. He was quite rude to me for no good reason that I can imagine. But I used my blog post to eviscerate him — by name. It was totally unnecessary on my part. (I'll spare you what I wrote.)

When I read the offending words on Friday I was shocked by my cruelty I didn't remember writing it and wondered at the person who did (me). I immediately removed the offending passage in what I suppose is a case of better late than never. The idea that I’d written that sent me into a depression that I’m only now emerging from. 

My sincerest though terrible belated apologies to Darryl Brock for my vicious and uncalled for words. He's a fine man and an excellent author.

If he chanced upon my words I doubt that he’ll ever forgive me. If he does, he’s a better man than I am.

My apology is without equivocation or excuse. There have been reasons over the years for my acid tongue or pen. I suffer PTSD as an abuse survivor, I myself abused alcohol. I’m on the bi- polar spectrum. None of this excuses anything I’ve ever said or written. I own it all. 

I will continue to try to be better and endeavor to be more careful with my words. That’s all I can do.

25 August 2022

The Blogger Expounds on His Strange Love of Writing Tests

I like writing tests.

Does that make me weird? 

I’m sure that there are a lot of ways in which I’m weird, strange, different, unusual, atypical. Is taking joy in writing tests one of them?

Both in my former incarnation as a history teacher and now as an ESL instructor I find it challenging to write tests that are difficult but not impossibly so. It’s important that the tests correspond to the material covered and that through taking them students can discover not only how much they learned (or conversely failed to learn) but also that taking the test cements the knowledge they’ve but recently acquired. (I realize that the preceding sentence was overly long but I feel readers — both of us — can forebear it.)

I also flatter myself that my tests are “interesting.” They should not be entirely predictable. Certainly students should know what will be on the test but the wording of questions and prompts should be revelatory and help inspire revealing answers. “Discuss the causes of the Civil War” is a weak question. “Describe the main events leading to the Civil War being sure to highlight what you feel was the primary cause of the conflict.” That’s a bit wordy but a lot better than the first example. 

For an ESL vocabulary test the following is acceptable but uninspiring: “Use the word evolution in a sentence, be sure that your answer shows you know the meaning of the word.” Better would be something like: “What does it mean when something has evolved? Why is evolution an important process in life?”

Vague, general questions often inspire vague, general answers. Directed questions are more likely to elicit more thoughtful and and specific answers.

Of course a lot of tests primarily consist of multiple choice questions, especially grammar questions. Choosing the correct tense or the right preposition for a given sentence from choices a,b and c. Those are fun to write. I try to make my sentences interesting. “Yesterday Bob _____ at the store for ten minutes when Lisa arrived. a) have been b) had been c) had gone. That’s okay but if you’re teaching the past perfect you’ve probably got an intermediate level class so you can go with something more interesting. “We  ______ at the party for half an hour when Tom arrived and ruined the evening.” Same response but a more interesting sentence. Right?

Now another confession: in addition to taking joy out of constructing tests, I also like correcting them. This has not always been true. In my my public school teaching days I’d have classes of twenty to thirty and would thus have a rather sizable pile of tests to grade at the end of the day. That could get tedious. I was also constantly disappointed at how the same students earned D’s and F’s. It was a rare if happy occasion when a struggling student exceeded expectations on a test. Facing a huge pile of tests I’d sort them. The ones that — based on reputation and how much was written — looked like F tests were put in one stack. The ones that looked like As were in a second stack and the rest in a third. I’d then breeze through the likely F exams (hoping to be surprised) then I’d tackle the likely A exams (hoping not to be surprised). The third stack — usually the smallest — was next and was more of a slog. 

In ESL I’ve always had either one or two classes (in semi-retirement just the one) so never have more than thirty tests, these days as few as six. 

I always note which questions had the most wrong answers so that I can review those in detail with the whole class. That’s another good thing about tests. They not only measure the progress of individual students but on classes as a whole. 

It is important to note that tests can be a reflection on a teacher as well as students. If an individual fails a test that’s on the students, but if you’ve got a rash of Fs particularly from students who usually do well, than either you didn’t adequately prepare students or you made the test too difficult.

At some point in reading this you may have thought: but don’t text books come with ready-made tests? In fact, aren’t there tests online and in books that you can just photocopy? The answer is: yes. A teacher can conceivably go through an entire career without ever writing a test and I’m sure many do. If I ever used a generic test it was back in my early days as a teacher and I have no specific memory of having done so. Some ready-made tests are fine. But far, far better to tailor your tests to a particular class (or group of classes) after all a good teacher occasionally (more than just occasionally is preferable) deviates from the prescribed material and curriculum. Plus using generic tests deprives you of the fun of writing your own. A teacher is simply not as invested in test she or she didn’t create. Make it your own. Make it fun. 

So that’s a lot more than I ever expected to write about tests and at that I could say a lot more and maybe I will in future. But first this:

In this blog post the author a) wrote of his love of writing tests b) discussed the migratory patterns of Canadien Geese c) extolled certain herbal teas.

If a class performs poorly on a test it could be a reflection on a) the weather b) the price of oil c) the teacher’s failure to prepare the class or having made the test too difficult.

What did the author say about using generic tests? a) it’s for the birds b) it’s okay but better to create one’s own c) it’s a leading cause of divorce.

I’ll have your tests back for you tomorrow. No homework tonight. Have a great rest of the day everybody!

15 August 2022

The Author Gives Advice Because it's High Time

My kind of rabbit

It’s high time I again dispensed with advice. 

Hold on a second, what exactly does “high time” mean? I hear it all the time but don’t know how it’s any different than “low time” or “medium height” time. 

(The author now departs to seek answers, he'll return shortly, I'm sure.)

Here’s what I found out by using a computer function called “google.” 

“High time” derives from the allusion to the warmest time of day - when the sun is highest in the sky. High noon is another way of saying it. Shakespeare used it in his Comedy of Errors, 1590:

There's none but witches do inhabit here;
And therefore 'tis high time that I were hence.

After more searching I discovered that Willie Shakes (as the great bard was called by his friends) did not coin the term which dates back as far as 13th century.

Now then… where was I?

Oh yes, advice.

1) When ruminating over your shortcomings, failures, missed opportunities, foibles and wrong roads taken, also be sure to take a second to celebrate your successes, your health, family, friends, accomplishments and all the possibilities that lay ahead. You’ll find a lot to be grateful for. Hard as it can be at times, being a glass half full person is far preferable to a glass half empty one. Also remember that bunny rabbits are cute although I don’t personally fancy the ones are all white and have red beady eyes. Give me a gray or brown one with big ears and some personality.

2) Don’t spend too much time on the internet, particularly social media. It’s easy to get sucked into twitter and instagram and all that other nonsense and indeed I spend some time there myself. But moderation in all things. Don’t sacrifice time that you could be interacting with a live human being for scrolling through your twitter feed. Don’t gape endlessly at Tik Tok when there are books and poems to be read. Take a walk and bury your phone in a pocket. Go to the park, a concert, a lecture, a poetry reading, a piano recital, a ball game, a museum, a hike, a bike ride, a dance, a friends’s house. Host a barbecue, arrange a picnic, write an email to a friend, mediate, do yoga, exercise, clean the house, make love. Let your brain absorb more than 140 characters at a time. Live.

3) Cut down on the complaining. It’s too easy and too easy to get sucked into. Work environments are breeding grounds for complainers. I’ve wasted far too much of my time griping, grumbling, criticizing, bellyaching, lamenting, moaning, whining, bemoaning, bewailing, carping and deprecating. This is something that, again, is fine in moderation. But my god, so much of it is repetitious and unproductive. Is there something to be done about the complaint? Can you take action? If so, do it. If not, let it go. Get it off your chest and move on. Also, try not to abet others who are in a complaining cycling. Hear them out once then disengage from further bitching sessions, maybe suggest that they do likewise. If someone is a chronic complainer (and lord knows there are plenty of those about) steer clear of them, especially when they get wound up.

Now a few quickies:

4) Don’t engage in protected internet arguments with people you don’t know, especially if they are obviously intractable. And for God’s sakes don’t get yourself into a lather because there’s some moron who stubbornly insists that two and two is three. They’re not worth your energy.

5) If you’re in emotional pain, get help. Most folks don’t hesitate to see a doctor if they’ve got a physical ailment, but are reluctant to seek help when the problem is something like depression or anxiety. Many people self-medicate — with booze or drugs — others grit their teeth and bear their pain in silence. Don’t. There’s zero shame in getting help and you’ve everything to gain — such as happiness.

6) Don’t be late and don’t bore people. My two greatest fears in terms of human interaction are that I’ll be late or I’ll bore someone — or some people — while talking. This is particularly important in my role as a teacher. Making people wait is rude. Don’t do it. Boring people is tougher to avoid. What is fascinating to you may be of little interest to someone else. Know your audience, look for signs the other person is not interest, such as if they fall fast asleep while you’re describing a painful bunion you just had removed. 

I hope that helps. Thanks for reading this far. You’ve been great.

11 August 2022

The Blogger Returns After a Nearly Two-Week Absence -- No Excuses Offered -- Various Topics Explored

Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn of Better Call Saul

The tenth of the month and still no blog posts. Okay, well, there's this one which raises the total to (gets out calculator) ONE. I’ve had a lot to say. No, maybe not, maybe I haven’t had much to say at all. I can’t tell which. Maybe a little bit to say. Maybe an average amount to say. In any case all my writing time has been focused on the novel which — as they say — is coming along. I suppose I’ve mentioned before about how much I enjoy the process. Yeah, I have. I  love living in the world I’ve created. I’m spending a lot of time with characters of my own creation. I know these people like they were old friends, which in a sense they are. In writing a novel it's paramount that the readers feel as though they know the characters as well. So they have to be “well-drawn.” I’m working on it.

Hey, did you know I’m getting a pacemaker? Yup. Within the next couple of months I go under the knife, so to speak. I’m fine about the whole thing. Anytime you have a “surgical procedure” there are risks but one feels more confident when the “procedure” doesn’t even require you to spend the night in the hospital and you can go running around again in a couple of days.

I have atrial fibrillation which means that the ole ticker has occasional flurries of beating too rapidly with occasional short pauses when it rests. It hasn’t kept me from doing anything, in fact I’ve been working out as usual. But it can get worse and that’s trouble.

Anyone else watching and enjoy Better Call Saul? One of the great TV shows of all time is ending next Monday. I’m on pins and needles (very uncomfortable). I’d write more about the show but it would mostly be a series of adjectives in the nature of “outstanding” “great” “amazing” “compelling” “fascinating.” Maybe — as I did with Breaking Bad — I can give a more nuanced assessment at a later date. It'll be hard to know where to start with a veritable universe like BCS's. So much credit (perhaps the lion's share) has to go to creator and show runner, Vince Gilligan. But the actors....Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn are (glowing adjective) but then so is the whole cast. 

Recently watched Licorice Pizza (2021) Anderson again. It was number two on my top ten lists of films for 2021. Drive My Car (2021) Hamaguchi was numero uno — when it became available on DVD I immediately pre-ordered a copy which arrived a few weeks ago. Re-watching these films affirmed to me that they worthy of the top two spots. I’ll not say more about either now as again I’d be rattling off a string of adjectives. One thing I took note of with Licorice Pizza is the obvious joy that director Paul Thomas Anderson took in creating the picture. His ebullience came through, making it a damn fun movie to watch. Drive My Car is a masterpiece. It's just under three hours long yet flies by.

Elsewhere in my life... I still have to endure the pain of depression. It’s a bastard. Everything in your world can be jake but that melancholia wraps its tentacles around you just the same. Then everything you’ve done, are doing or are going to do seems meaningless and stupid. The most pleasant of memories is shrouded in blackness and the good feelings that should imbue your spirit are blown into the ether. What a terrible affliction. Anyway, it’s not currently here so best to put it out of my mind.

Ending on a more pleasant note: puppies, ducks, kittens, moose, cool breezes, hot tea, hugs, kisses, fist bumps, breakfast, lunch, dinner, Better Call Saul, Only Murders in the Building, The Beatles, your favorite team winning.