Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

New Wednesday Quiz Series: New Scoring Rules

A correct answer must include:

1. QUOTE: The full actual quote, "in quotation marks" (a tenth of a point penalty for omitting the quotation marks!)
2. ATTRIBUTION: either the work from which the quote derives, OR, The character who speaks the quote. Either/or will do it. No extra credit for both, but I for one will be pleased.

You must include the whole amount of the quote that is being paraphrased in your answer. Completeness is all. A sentence or two too much? No problem. One word too little? Situation. If you left out part of the quote being paraphrased, it's not a correct answer.

  • 1 full point for the first correct answer. The first correct answer counts, even if the quotation marks are omitted! However the penalty will be levied.
  • Half a point (0.5) for all subsequent correct answers.
  • Zero points (0.0) for partially correct answers (answers that get the quote right but omit the work/character - or that name the right work/character, but omit the quote).

Question will be posted 9am each Wednesday.

Answers will not be posted before 5pm of the day in question.

All correct answers count until close of scoring. Scoring remains open until the first correct answer is posted. Translation: if it's past 5pm and I still haven't posted a correct answer, you can still score.

NO CREDIT FOR WRONG ANSWERS. One word wrong = "WRONG ANSWER." Punctuation I may be lenient on, depending how bad it is. However I expect you to get every damn word of the quote right, archaic or not - dead on. Misspellings are likely to be lethal.

The skill lies in spotting and recognizing the quote. Nobody expects you to have Shakespeare memorized verbatim. Don't disgorge some slap-dash approximation from memory! Double-check yourself against the actual quote, and include the actual quote.

The Qur'an: That Is Indeed Where The Apostrophe Goes

So I think a lot of the problems between Christianity and Islam are down to issues of translation. That's why I've begun working on a little project that will get everyone seeing eye-to-eye, no matter what kind of fundamentalist you are.

That's right!

Coming soon:

The Holy Qur'an: King James Edition

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Associate Editors of Merriam-Webster's "Ask the Editor" Segment: Hot or Not?

Kory Stamper, Associate Editor at Merriam-Webster talks about more than one octopus:

Kory's got a great smile and a real engaging way about her - especially the way she says "Hey! You're an ignorant slob!" She speaks clearly, and with well-chosen emphasis. Some might criticize her dye job or her makeup, but I say this fresh-faced laid-back approach suits her character to a "t!" It shows she's got the confidence to just be who she is, and you know what? No need for any of that spackled-on glitz: the camera loves her. Verdict: HOT.

Merriam-Webster Editor-at-Large Peter Sokolowski sheds light on how those classical roots crept in:

Peter gets into trouble from the start with this insistence on being "Editor-at-Large." What's that about? Sounds like overcompensating. He picks up points for his clean-cut unthreatening image, though - underlain by a certain smoldering intensity, suffused with a certain mystery barely hinted at in the phantom goatee that ghosts his nearly clean-shaven jaw. The expressive mobility of his features draws us into his enthusiasm for some pretty dry material. What do you know, Peter? You didn't have to try so hard after all! Verdict: HOT.

Emily Brewster, Associate Editor at Merriam-Webster, leaves me with less confusion and fewer questions on issues surrounding the usage of "fewer" and "less":

Emily could have been played by a young Lili Taylor or an actress of no less caliber, if her life story could be put to film. Drink in her quiet magnetism. She speaks with an authority no less forceful for its gentle touch. Her overall demeanor is serious, yet hear how her voice alternately softens with compassion and sparks with humor! You can just tell that she's a real hellcat in certain contexts. Well wait, shoot - good thing I looked it up! "Hellcat" doesn't mean at all what I thought it did. Anyway, point is: Verdict: HOT.

Dictionaries can sure come in handy. And when it comes to dictionaries, you better have some editors! It's good to know that one of our nation's top most prestigious reference book companies knows how to pick 'em.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Thought of the Day: Old

People say kids are the future, well bullshit. If you think about it, in the long run, the future is old people.

Have You Insulted Anyone's Intelligence Lately, By Trying To Help?

Plenty of people have told me things I already know, trying to help. Why would that offend me or anyone?

Sad. The world would be a far poorer place if we were all so concerned with the possibility of giving insult to fools, that we failed to share what wisdom we have with each other. Truth shared is no insult to the wise - or to those who wish to become wise. It is only insult to the person so smug and vain that your lack of knowledge about them offends them.

A person who needs to believe that everyone around them should automatically know the contents of their impressive mind, and never once deign to "insult their intelligence" by telling them something they know already...what the hell attitude is that? I think it must be a sign of egotism compounded by insecurity: All Must Recognize My Knowledge By Not Attempting To Give Me More Of It!

Don't feel bad, when you in all decency and humility attempt to offer help, and someone takes it as an insult. It ain't your fault. If you tighten up and fail to share what you know, purely out of the fear of ruffling the mental feathers of a few uppity peacocks - so many people who need what you have to offer would go without.

And if on the other hand, you are a person who takes offense over people's lack of knowledge of yourself - who are you? Who are you, that we should know as well as you what you do and do not know? What if God forbid, the day came when someone around you knew something you didn't know? Something you needed to know. Something they would gladly have told you on a moment's impulse! Except, you kill that impulse every day, by taking offense at what you consider to be an insult.

Where is the insult? If you know so much more than the rest of us, why not be secure in that? Have pity on your inferiors. Don't excoriate them for doing what the rest of we mortals do amongst ourselves.

We try to share what we know, and help each other.

Never stop doing that.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A More Spiritual Direction

I think I want to find a more spiritual direction for my life. I don't mean God! I've already got that whole aspect sewn up. Me and God are already like a big yin-yang, as far as that goes. In fact, that's part of the problem. God's a bit too concrete for me, to serve the purpose. Can the concrete be spiritual?

Right now, for my life, I feel the need for something a bit more elusive and mysterious. Something a little harder to lay hold of. Something that helps me grope my way through, as in a fog.

Drugs, maybe. Some sort of drugs.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Name That Tune #30!

"You and I are being carried along by chronology
moving, unable to find our way, held fast to each other
by noon and evening, by sleight of illumination
I have to hit the road
we shall rendezvous under aliases

you felt my cardiac muscle to an impressive depth
you saved me, now put me at liberty
don't look at me weep, just watch me leave
the most powerful emotions you'll ever feel
I am taking them with me

The aloneness will not continue
in our confidential state of being apart
you felt my cardiac muscle to an impressive depth
you saved me, now put me at liberty...

you and I are being carried along by chronology
moving, unable to find our way, held fast to each other
by noon and evening, by sleight of illumination
I have to hit the road
we shall rendezvous under aliases
If you hang on to me it will make me go "ouch"
have courage!

The aloneness will not continue
in our confidential state of being apart
you felt my cardiac muscle to an impressive depth
you saved me, now put me at liberty...

We are a complimentary set: the little flying ember and the conflagration
trapped in infinite recapitulation
existence following identical existence indefinitely
gotta go before your heat sears me
I'm the one you don't know, who abandons you
yet ends up as your lover in a later existence

The aloneness will not continue
in our confidential state of being apart
you felt my cardiac muscle to an impressive depth
you saved me, now put me at liberty...

I will carry a wound of great worth, that only you have knowledge of..."

Monday, August 23, 2010

I Don't Want a Traditional Divorce.

I don't want a traditional divorce. That's just not how I've always envisioned it. I mean, the traditional rituals are great - I admire the certain beauty and formality of it all, and I think it's wonderful when other people go that route! If that's what best expresses the nature of their relationship, that's great.

Because that's what's really important: picking something that just feels right. It's incredibly important I think - it's not just an empty ceremony. It means something. And the manner in which we choose to proclaim to the world (and solemnize before those who are nearest and dearest to us) this incredibly big step we're taking, this permanent, life-altering change to the whole nature of our relationship - well, what could be more personal? And for me, I think there should be something personal in the way you ring that new phase in. There has to be!

Now, I don't have any particular set-in-stone idea of how it needs to happen. I just want it to be creative - so it follows that I'm open to being creative. Kicking some ideas around. Settling on something that you both can feel pretty psyched about! On such a big decision, two people need to follow their own hearts and work out the details between them. I just feel like it should be something fun, something maybe a little daring - reflecting the big leap that's about to be taken!

What I'd love to do - the thing that keeps coming back to mind as my favorite scenario - would be one of those hot air balloon situations. You both go up in a hot air balloon, with maybe just the officiant and a witness or two, and you seal the deal midair! AWESOME! Careful, though. Hopefully one of you doesn't fall out.

Quote of the Day: Bare Minimum Criteria

"Home is where nobody's trying to kill you."

Saturday, August 21, 2010

An Exploration of Jewishness in the Works of Neil Simon Pt.1: The Odd Couple

The weird thing is - Felix and Oscar, they're gentiles, aren't they?

I'm not talking about the actors who played them. I'm talking about the characters themselves! Oscar Madison. Felix Leiter. These seem like goy names.

I admit, I haven't seen much of the tv series - great theme, though! I've seen episodes and snippets, of course, but mostly too long ago to remember, when I was too young to pick up on any of the subtle implications. For the purpose of our examination here, I'm more referring to the original versions than the tv adaptation - to the movie, and to the play upon which it was originally based. These I believe present a truer picture of the original characters, and of what Neil Simon was trying to say with them, and through them.

And while I haven't seen the movie or the play itself, the sense I get is that these two, Felix and Oscar, are not Jewish men. Which raises a potentially troubling and confusing point, because Neil Simon is Jewish, right? I mean, I think he is! I'm like ninety percent sure. Neil Simon is very much noted and celebrated for his deft explorations of the issues surrounding one's Jewishness in our culture. The challenges involved, the compromises and accommodations. The triumphs. I'm pretty sure that's him! And if it is, and he's not Jewish - well that'd be some cheek!

Now I want to be clear, here. It's not that I'm saying he can't write a play about a couple of gentiles and do justice to it - clearly he did do it justice, it's a hailed masterpiece - but I had never thought of these two dudes specifically in terms of their Jewishness, and then suddenly I thought about it and I said "hey!" "I don't think they even are Jewish!" But then the added wrinkle - if they are Jewish, but it turns out that Neil Simon isn't - after all this time thinking about him in a very definite way as Jewish! Well, that just adds new layers of complexity to the issue.

Anyway, that covers a cursory outline of the major points to be explored. Let's make this a part 1, then we can pick up on and develop the points, touching on other implications as we go, in later posts.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Kickass Screenplay Idea #I've Completely Lost Count

So. Setup:

No wait.

Background: Benedict "Anthony" Costa. Powerful, lovable but utterly terrifying criminal mob boss, kind of on the old-fogey side, kind of old-fashioned, decides to dabble in the internet a bit for a little diversion and maybe to better understand this ever-changing world in which we're living, so as to better be able to conduct his business. Long-story-short, he gets "took" by one of these e-mail scammers! You know the ones, where you have been designated as the recipient of millions of dollars for some amazing reason, often involving 3rd-world royalty or military coups? He falls for it like a chump. A sucker.

Uncle Anthony is not someone used to being treated in such a fashion.

To put it mildly, let's assume he isn't interested in chalking this one up to experience.

Enter: Achille "Keely" Giuliano, the organization's absolute top grim humorless get-it-done-with-a-gun-or-otherwise goon, who is normally so untouchably competent as to be trusted beyond reproach, but who after a recent and uncharacteristic hilarious gaffe, suddenly finds himself with a lot on the line. He gets partnered for the assignment with Costa's nephew Gaetano "Fun Guy" Funicello, an idiot-savant cybergeek genius who only knows two things: inept partying in as stereotypically Italian-American a fashion as possible, and seducing code and network connections into doing things they'd never normally have done sober.

These two have been tasked with one tall order: tracking down, taking down, and taking vengeance upon every last little presumptuous bastard involved in whatever outfit perpetrated this insult upon Uncle Anthony. Uncle Anthony has their e-mail address right here. "That should be enough to go on. You find these people. You teach them respect. And you get from them the money they say I won. If they have it, then let the lesson be one they can live with. They can keep the registration fee I paid them, it was intended as a business investment."

There are a lot of other character bits and motivations involved, and plot complications galore. It turns into quite the international caper buddy flick! Basically one of those odd-couple-out-of-water fishing expeditions, with comedy, action, some clash-of-conflicting-criminal-ethoi-based comedy, some hard ways to go along the way and maybe some hard lessons to learn, with these two mismatched, mutually-antagonized protagonists clashing and pulling rank each in their own way, each on separate arcs of self-discovery in the crises that come crashing down around their respective and collective ears. Each, maybe, coming to learn a little bit about what's wrong with the way he's chosen to live his life...and maybe, about learning to know what's right.

What's it called? What's the name of this gem?

Oh, but that would be telling.

Fiction Friday Update: Ripoff Alert

Ok, this week's installment of Fiction Friday is in the form of a kickass screenplay idea. That counts as fiction, dammit!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Carried Away By Metaphors, Much

So upon glancing through the day's sent e-mails I see where I've recommended we fill an open position with someone who can slam-dunk a bull. Take a bull, by the horns, and slam-dunk it.

Well hell, then. I hope they take me literally! We could use somebody like that around here.

One-Half of the Exchange



"Dang. Well, I thought it was funny!"


"No, it's totally cool if you're freaked out. I don't judge. People have different senses of humor, that's what I say. It's just like any other sense! Some people are blind, or deaf - you don't judge a person based on that."


"Oh yeah, no problem! Thanks. I try to be!"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Women's Suffrage. Important? Yes. Unimportant? No.

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment securing once and for all the right of a woman to vote. So far, anyhow! And I'm happy to report, I don't see a credible threat to it. It looks pretty secure. I think this is one victory we can all feel pretty sure of, permanence-wise.

It's kind of nice to have a few achievements we can afford to feel a little complacent about!

This important anniversary was noted on Google's main page - not with the full "Google Doodle" logo treatment, but rather by a notation underneath the logo and search bar. It was an understated footnote, next to a checkbox, with a pink checkmark emblazoned in the checkbox. As if to say: "See how pretty my vote is!"

Look, I'm not one of those feminists who likes to point out imagined slights in every little thing hither and yon. I just report the facts.

Suffrage itself is troublesome, to some. Even in this day and age. Some find the very word to be a little unpleasant. Some would say it sounds like a cross between "suffering" and "roughage" - possibly good for you, but can't we find a better way to get the beneficial effect, without all the suffering? This concern is arguably a real one.

Others may point out that it just sounds stupid, or that the song "Suffragette City" by David Bowie paints a confusing and inaccurate picture of the struggle. I myself prefer to hum the Battle Hymn of the Republic while gazing, misty-eyed (but clear-eyed), at a future bright and bristling with female voters! I think that's the real story, here - and one we'd all do well to remember has a happy ending. For once! Does everything political have to be some soul-crushing endless wrangle? Is it a betrayal of the cause to admit that sometimes, a given fight can be won? I think we all need to maybe drop some of these distracting side questions, and focus on the real gains made. To that end, I wrote a poem dedicated to the events commemorated in today's anniversay notation on Google, and I posted that poem right in my own poetry blog. I reproduce that poem here, for you, in its entirety:


Today the woman's right to vote
was ratified,
some years ago
and on this anniversary: I say
to Susie B.

Now, some may take issue with the reference to Susan B. Anthony, on the grounds that it marginalizes the important contributions made by others. But I say: every movement needs its heroes. I say Susan B. Anthony is rightly lionized for her leadership and tireless efforts! If we can't look to her for inspiration and with gratitude for her life's labor paving the way for a victory she herself would not live to see - well, I call that pretty poor.

In terms of American icons, Susan B. Anthony looms as large as Lady Liberty herself! A symbol can be important, even if it isn't a direct representation of those whose lives and whose cause it stands for. Why, Lady Liberty is a far cry from resembling the huddled masses on whose behalf she stands sentinel, some of whom may have been a little green coming off the boat I am sure, but none of whom can have been remotely as colossal. That's what an icon is for: to inspire us to some ideal, some ideal that maybe we ourselves may fall short of - but yet we can look up! We can see an example, and we can be inspired to throw what weight we have behind it! Such heroes and symbols should inspire us in the contributions we make, no one should feel belittled by the shining lanterns that light our way.

Speaking of green and colossal, I've often thought it would be cool if the Jolly Green Giant and Lady Liberty could be introduced! I bet they'd hit it off. Wouldn't that be great? I'm not saying she needs a man or anything, but she's seemed so stoic and lonely, at times, down all these years. She's so dignified, noble and serious! And he's such a jolly guy. Ho, ho, ho. I bet they'd complement each other's strengths.

Admittedly, Jolly Green's a damn handsome fellow, and might be able to do a bit better, in the looks dep't. Libby's a bit on the butch side. Did you ever get a good look at her jaw? But after all, it's what she stands for that makes her so beautiful, in our eyes. If J.G. can't see that, then screw him. He needs to eat more carrots.

It all goes to underscore just how complex the issues are surrounding Women's Suffrage. But the main point is: Women's Suffrage. It's a done deal. DEAL WITH IT. That's the main point, if we want to be underscoring things. 'Cause folks, if you ain't heard, let me tell you the score: Women's Suffrage: 1, Opposition: 0.

Game Over.

All you misogynists out there can suck it!

I Need To Switch To A Different Internet Browser

Every time I go to click, "Quit Safari," I feel like such a failure. For a flash of a moment I'm standing there in the veldt, pith helmet in hand, sweating in my jodhpurs, and I'm looking around at the rest of the group and I can just see the same condemnation and letdown in all of their eyes. "Jonsen flinched. He lost his nerve. Several of us might be dead or dying by now, if Krenshaw hadn't downed that charging rhino with one heroic last-second shot!"

And I know they're right. I haven't got it in me. I'm no mighty hunter. I look up with one last hope, not daring to hope - at Mary.

She's staring right at me. She holds my gaze for one crumbling second, before she turns her head aside, looks down and away. Ashamed.

And I quit safari.

Name That Tune #29!

"A parking lot was placed on a parcel of ground,
on the spot where previously, a market, and before that,
a center for ball-rolling, and prior to that a ballroom,
had stood. Large ensembles provided the music there.
On the Sabbath, my female sibling went there.

'I invite you to dance,' said each of her gentleman callers
No reason not to dance. It is to be expected.

Same Sabbath, different date
Despite her readiness, she would keep him in suspense
outside, picturing it like a ketchup bottle
Unaware he wasn't getting any.
At the end of the night, after blowing all his spending loot on this dame
he'll get naught but a chaste embrace for his troubles

'I invite you to dance,' that was their mode during my childhood
And each invitation was accepted by my female sibling.

She would come in after curfew
The female parental unit was in attendance upon her arrival
The result was a big fight
over my female sibling's tardiness

I spied on them, outside, by the light of the moon
A dark outline and a farewell by the door in the fence by the growing zone.

When they demolished the ballroom,
My female sibling bawled
and that phase of my young life expired

Currently, I'm an adult musician
There's a parking lot where the ballroom used to be
My female sibling is a wife on a well-off homestead
Her female offspring are the ones who stay out late
She is aware that they escape unscathed for things that would have been looked at more seriously in her day
What I wonder is, if I invited her, would she accept

an invitation to dance. My female sibling, I urge you to party
You should not fear the dance. It is only to be expected.

'I invite you to dance,' as if it were the ballroom on the Sabbath
and as if your old cronies will all show up, dancing where those large ensembles
were accustomed to provide the music."

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Another Sweet Website Idea I Just Had.

So this would basically be like a forum, right? An internet forum. A web forum, only it would be staffed up with clever experts. Or maybe not "staffed up," more, "membered up" - we're looking at the business model where a ton of people volunteer their tireless efforts on an unpaid basis, just to make a great idea work. That's the new web paradigm! And this site would soon establish its reputation as a place where people can come in off the internet to google things. Or rather, wait - not to Google them. Google them is the wrong term. They would come to the site to find stuff out. Instead of Google-ing for answers, they would come to this forum. And all of the people there, the experts there would answer their questions and queries with lies.

It would just be kind of the whole goal of the site to give the looker-upper just the most utterly outlandish yet convincing lies.

But that would be the whole point of the site, though! So, most people would kind of know what they were getting, going in. It wouldn't really be a case of deception, or of people being fooled "per se," because they'd know going in. But how it would work is, maybe, they'd come in anyway. Because their lives would be so empty that maybe they'd rather hear a convincing lie than to deal with the truth.

I've heard that sometimes happens.

Anyway, that's another idea I just had. Holy cow, when am I going to start taking action on some of these!

Monday, August 16, 2010

A Penny For Your Two Cents

The saying "to put one's two cents in" dates from olden times, when a penny was a slightly more considerable amount of money. Still not a major sum, of course! But enough to consider. In those days, there was a custom whereby one might literally offer a penny, to hear someone else's thoughts on a matter. So that was when you wanted to hear somebody else's thoughts. That's where the saying "a penny for your thoughts" came from.

But folk then were much more reticent than we are now, to offer their opinion without being asked. It was considered forward to do so - especially if the person wanting to volunteer their opinion wasn't particularly an elder or leader in the community. So if you wanted to chime in/butt in/voice your unsolicited opinion, the custom was flipped: you'd offer to pay a "toll" as it were. To speak your say. Rather than receive a penny for an asked opinion, you would offer to pay two pennies for the privilege of delivering your unasked one. Your "two cents."

Of course it's likely that the custom was never that strictly observed - it was more a matter of etiquette and formality; besides which it's all a complete fabrication that I just made up off the top of my head as I was typing it out.

That's my "two cents."

"Mos Eisley spaceport..."

Thought of the day: and again

Sometimes I think I do nothing but repeat myself - endless gropings towards the same set of mysteries I can never quite grasp.

My Advice To Anyone Even Thinking About Commenting On This Post

Do what you need to do. Say what you have to say - get it out of your system. But don't come to ME complaining if the government decides to send aliens after you!

I mean, you wouldn't do that anyway. You wouldn't come complaining to me about that, that would be a totally unreasonable response to the situation. Even assuming you were able to at that point. I'm just saying: don't.

Also, I'm not saying that's going to happen. I mean, come on. The chances are small, small, small.

But it's still good advice anyway.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Gym Class Memoirs

One time I caught a ball. I was so proud! It was coming right at me. I stuck my hand up over my head - *WAP!* bare-handed! Right in the palm. A left-handed catch, as I recall. I couldn't really use the other hand, because it had this big thing on it.

I was pretty much a natural.

It hurt a little! That ball had come in hard and fast. I looked at it for a second, then I held it up as high as I could! "Hey, everybody!"

"Throw to second base!"


"Throw to second base, moron!"

"I caught it!"

They didn't seem to be getting the point of what had happened. Plus, how the hell am I supposed to throw a ball with that big thing on my hand?

I ran it in.

Breakfast Records

You know what? I'm not that impressed by the "world's biggest omelette." In fact, it doesn't impress me at all. It really doesn't. You know what I'd like to see? The "world's biggest eggs-over-easy."

Now that might impress me.

Friday, August 13, 2010

My Dream Car: Stolen

So I was just thinking about this.

Next car I get, I hope somebody steals it.

And then I get it back, and justice is all done, and stuff - but then for the rest of my life (or rather hopefully, for the rest of my car's life), I can legitimately say I drive a stolen car.

Doodeloo #62

I do tricks

Fiction Friday: Adventures of Beepo, the Goodness Sprite

Beepo was made out of goodness. Only purely good things! Things like ice cream sprinkles, cake frosting flowers, and altruism. Beepo was a Goodness Sprite!

Beepo pretty much hated everyone and everything around him. Beepo lived in the World Where It's All Pretty Evil And Bad. That's a parallel world, similar to ours in the sense that they have a sky and clouds and ground, and stuff. But very different in the sense that everyone who lived there and the things that were there were pretty much all evil and bad. Also different in terms of the general sociopolitical picture, but not so different as you might expect.

Anyhow one day Beepo was talking to his friend Kark. "I hate you, Kark." said Beepo. "Why do you have to be so evil?"

"I hate you too, Beepo!" Kark replied. "But I don't get this hangup of yours. What's the big deal? Everybody's evil."

"I'm not evil," Beepo said.

"Good for you!" Kark replied, a bit too chirpily for Beepo's tastes.

"Yeah." Said Beepo. "But what good is it really?"

"I don't know, man. That's your thing." Kark seemed satisfied with that.

"Yeah, I guess you're right." Beepo had to think about this some more. Pretty much for the rest of his life, in fact.

But then suddenly something else happened! Some development, that would come to turn to whole premise on its ear! To be continued in Pt. 2.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Thought of the Day: Pyschological

I don't believe in the purely psychological.

The Own Worst Critic #6: More Weaknesses in the Ol' Prose Style

It's like you've made it a goal to be embarrassingly hyperarticulate. I suppose you flatter yourself that others are not capable of writing like you; my question to you is: why do you write this way? The effort involved, just to get through one of your sentences, sometimes...! It can't be any easier to write than it is to read.

Some of your writing, the first time through, a sentence is simply impenetrable. Yet on the second read, one will be positively struck by how intricately a phrase had been turned on the lathe and machined into place. Is this good prose or bad? Such occasionally brilliant turns of phrase, so thoroughly wasted, obscured and buried. I can't think what you must be trying to accomplish by writing this way.

It should never be necessary to re-read a sentence for comprehension. For pleasure, yes! But however entrancingly you may wish to weave its branches into patterns and designs, your prose must be clear. Good prose is not a topiary maze, with meaning in the middle, a reward for those with the patience and determination to fight through. No, good prose is a fruitful orchard from whose clean limbs meaning falls easily - as if unbidden, a ripe plum plumb in the hand of your reader!

Please work on transparency, or failing that, at least translucency. Failing that, could you at least shoot for lucid? Work on getting meaning to shine out. Stop burying it under clever verbiage, making us sweat and dig for it, hoping for us to maybe belatedly ooh and ah when we finally find some.

The Own Worst Critic #1: Weaknesses Observed In The Ol' Prose Style

You have a certain weakness for the "clincher" standalone single-sentence final paragraph. I've noticed that.

That's it, really.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Time Travel: A Danger To Us All? Possibly.

Please don't worry about potential abuses of time travel. When a physicist says a thing is "possible," you may need to take that with an infinite grain of salt. A physicist will smile and tell you (and so will I) that a thing is "possible" - even if it is impossible to put into practice without requiring:
A) novel and exotic kinds of matter that do not as far as we know exist, that are not even theoretically predicted to exist

B) amounts of energy exceeding the total amount of energy in the universe

C) unknown effects capable of spontaneously collapsing or nullifying the various forces of attraction/repulsion that create matter's solidity (it isn't the miniscule particles that make matter solid, after all - it's the powerful forces that those particles anchor)
Physicists are always happy to admit a thing is possible, as long as you don't mind giving them givens that do not exist, and in all probability, never will exist. There are many things that may under certain "given conditions" be not impossible, that will nevertheless not at any point become possible.

Not to be a downer. The practical limits the possible; that's just reality for you. Reality isn't something to feel glum about. We should all be joyous, filled with boundless optimism, anticipation and curiosity by the wonders of the universe as it actually surrounds us! It's pretty dang cosmic enough, to hang an infinity of an infinity of dreams upon, dreams that can even come true.

And it's true we can't rule most things out. So? There will be many surprises in store for us! But we do not need to play make-believe about everything that may somehow nigh-impossibly come to be, in order for the whole dang ball of masses, forces and energy to be big fat stinking amazing. Because it is. It already is.

Given only what is. Given only what we already have, given only what's established, given only the givens we have "in hand" so to speak! It already is amazing.

Almost limitlessly so.

Name That Tune #28!

"Ascending. Returned to the urban road
Dues paid, risks taken
Crossed the finish line - I am currently bipedal
Simply a male homo sapiens, together with my desire to remain breathing
It repeatedly occurs more rapidly than would be desired
The deal you made: your fervor in exchange for acclaim
Keep your fingers tight, around those phantasms from before
Combat is the way to preserve them!

The orb of a bengal, that's what it is
Excitement in the midst of combat,
Ascending to accept the proffered test of your adversary!
The only one yet living - that we know of, anyway -
is on a nocturnal hunt
and he's got us under surveillance
using that bengal orb of his."

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Doodeloo #61 (plus unsolicited commentary)


I have a t-shirt #4

I have a t-shirt that says


It totally throws people off when I wear that. Everybody thinks it's supposed to be some funny joke, but later it turns out the joke's on the other foot!



Triceratops thinks he's so bad ass. ANKLYOSAUR WOULD CLOBBER HIM! T-Rex? Please. T-Rex doesn't want to mess with that. T-Rex is moving on to an easier meal, like Triceratops - with those tempting, smooth, inviting flanks. Or even Stegosaurus, who can be ambushed from the side and overborne in one charging crash of a clash! Once you've got him on his side, belly ripped open - that's a nice, easy dinner. Just eat from the headward-side first, T-Rex! Work your way back tailwards once that thagomizer of his stops twitching.

Well that might work on Steggie! But care to try that weak biz with Anklyosaur? No, I didn't think so. Move along, T-Rex. I thought I saw a Diplodocus down by the marsh. Have a bite of some of that nice, long unprotected neck why don't you. Because that colossal head of yours makes too big and tempting a target for a burly, bludgeoning TAIL-CLUB!

DO NOT risk it. That's my advice.

Aw man. It's spelled "Ankylosaur." Not "Anklyosaur!" All these years...! That's just embarrassing. My favorite dinosaur!

I just made myself the prize chump of the internet.

Monday, August 09, 2010

Thought of the Day: Stat

Statistics have shown that statistics can be manipulated.

Crowded House, July 23rd 2010, Wellmont Theater, Montclair NJ #2

I Might Be Kind Of A Racist!

I think I might be a racist. I mean, it seems I am. It seems I might be! I never thought about myself like that, but check the evidence:

Any time I get a comment submitted, and the comment is not written using the characters of the English alphabet, I reject that comment. Out-of-hand! Without even checking to see if I can figure out what it means. True, the few times I have tried to translate such comments, the results have never been far from this example here:

spam comment translated from Chinese:
The adult entire bare
hits the artillery to fire
a pistol hits the airplane

great breast great milk
female superior
big milk sexual
intercourse sexual
affection lascivious
obscene desire promiscuous

immoral woman

obscene younger sister
to call obscene Shui Yin
the female passion sentiment
color to make love obscenely

the limiting stage wave tyrant
fellatio 18 to endure
pastes the chart portrait video
help to hand over
the dew point to explode
the young tide to blow naked
That's kind of poetic, is it not? And that same set of characters, translated from the Japanese and the Korean respectively, yields similar yet interestingly different results:

same spam comment translated from Japanese
same spam comment translated from Korean

But poetic or not, a comment like this left on a post about Godzilla vs. Hurricane Katrina or some equally inapplicable topic, and containing links and links to really suspect, dubious sites - well, that's spam. I call it spam. And for the sake of convenience, I've come to assume any such cryptic, inscrutable submissions are pretty much going to be spam.

But is that fair? Is it fair to tar all of my potential readers from other tongues and alphabets with the same spammy brush? Maybe that's kind of racist on my part.

Oh, I have my justifications. Such as, heck, if these people can't read English then they're not my readers, right? I don't owe them jack in that case! Or, if they can read English, they can clearly see that English is my preferred mode. Yet they choose to submit their comments in a form incomprehensible to me! That's kind of jerky and perverse. That's discourteous at best.

Clearly I'm writing in English. If the submitter can supposedly read what I've written, and if the comment is supposedly for me, then it's bare minimum common courtesy for them to use the alphabet I've already shown is the one I use. How can that comment be for me, if it's being deliberately put into a symbols and glyphs alien to mine own? That comment isn't for me. It's for somebody else. Well, too bad - it doesn't belong here, then.

Now, maybe their goal is that they'd like to encourage me to branch out a bit, learn some other languages. But come on. That's a rude way to go about it. Submit that comment in English, and maybe say at the end "hey, ever consider learning to read Chinese?" Don't hit me with the hard sell.

Perhaps there's a cultural difference, here. One that I'm missing out on. I'm willing to believe that maybe there is.

But anyway, until I hear what it is, I'm just going to have to keep rejecting these! Just so everyone knows.

I don't mean to be racist. It's not intended as racist.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Crowded House, July 23rd 2010, Wellmont Theater, Montclair NJ

if there is hell on earth
there must be heaven, too
both in one place
and not a second to lose

And this heaven that I'm making,
can't come quickly enough.

But What Is God Like? What Is God Really Like?

I guess if I was forced to describe God, I'd say I go in for pretty much the traditional descriptions: God is FURIOUS. God has glaring red eyes that burn and smoke and spark like furnaces! God's eager, greedy talons clutch and unclutch - God can't wait to reach out and transfix us with those talons, and gather us into God's slavering maw!! - lined with an infinite number of atom-sharp FANGS!! And then CHEW. CHEW FOR ETERNITY, and gnash and clash those infinite teeth, work those omnipotent jaws and keep chewing and chewing and NEVER SWALLOW! God is waiting for us to die, so as to fall into those hideous CLUTCHES. God is waiting.

God waits.

God waits to gather us IN.


BRING it, God! I ain't scared of all that noise!!!!!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Friday, August 06, 2010

Fiction Friday: Delvers

I'm going to need to load in the rest of the new software. I've been delaying and delaying, too long. They say it's my call, but I don't feel like it is.

When I was first brought here, they loaded me into this ridiculous creepy thing growing inside one of the locals like a parasite. We were wholly responsible for our own self-programming back then. Me and the other delvers.

I was loaded in, right at that little squeak/explosion moment, when the tiny thing bubbled out from pleospace. It lasts only a moment! Then the bubble shrinks back, and it's as if there's nothing there. It's a ridiculously tiny window - these bubbles were the only reason we even noticed anything going on down in here, to study.

I was one of the later injections from the first wave. By my turn, we'd pretty much taken it from science to art, already. Now it seems the new wavers are swinging the pendulum hard, all the way back. After all the art I've put into this thing, art is out: science is in. And possibly, I'm out? Or, what the locals might call "me" - the "me" as the locals see it. If so, it's probably a good thing. It can't be good, the degree to which I've become attached to what the locals call a "personality." What a silly word!

I do love words, though. I hope that doesn't change, after. Will I still love all these strange things? I can't imagine you'd think it from where you are - loving words, for instance. It must seem like such a convoluted way to go about saying anything! But when you're lowered down into a self, this isolation chamber - words are your only way over those walls, and I know, it should be nothing but frustration! I know it should be. I can't explain it, but you would be amazed. There is frustration, terrible frustration. But there is such a beauty in it as well. Especially when you do connect. Connecting a mind together again, across selves, with words - success feels like winning, sailing to victory.

The locals have also exploited the barriers matter creates between them to devise many other odd, elaborate and sometimes idiotic bridges, that serve a similar function to words. I can't describe how sublime their matter-works and stage displays can be to experience, as seen from inside one of these things. Of course, the rational part of my mind realizes that part of it is due to diminished capacity to perceive. But for some of these breathtaking effects...give me diminished capacity!

Anyway, once I was in the thing, I waited and acclimated to the structure of the thing. Very strange, they make almost exclusive use of matter in pleospace - they use it for almost everything. Their whole structure of being is built on the range of incredibly large differences in matter interaction that are wrought by the tiniest changes in particle configurations. It's quite exquisitely complicated to view from the outside, but as you move in and fully settle into it - so simple! Second nature, aha haha.

As I'm sure you've no doubt heard some of us delvers remark, in many ways the technology involved in the locals' systematization of matter - or I shouldn't say, "technology," it is all done automatically for these beings, by chain reaction! But in any case, it is very much more advanced than anything we have in terms of matter-work. We are learning a great deal, albeit - as expected, these discoveries are not likely to have much practical application. Fascinating, but pretty much academic. I suppose if we must have science, then let it be pure science!

So: the software. Yes, we have come a long way fast, in our understanding of the locals and their systems. It's no longer necessary for a delver to self-program and acclimate by stimulus gathering alone, using only the input from the delver's thing and its native sensory organs, after it is expelled from the host local. I wouldn't trade that slow, cumulative acclimation experience for anything, myself! It was an incredible journey. But thanks in part to my efforts, the data I and others have sent up, a delver can now be loaded in complete with all the programming needed to seamlessly assimilate, right from the moment of expulsion. No more embarrassing faux pas from maladroit operators, no more locals becoming unduly suspicious of a delver who just can't quite make the adjustments needed to "fit in."

Let's be honest, I've enjoyed not quite fitting in. I love the uncertainty, and I thrive on it. Even if half the time I don't have half an idea what I'm supposed to be doing, I seem to have developed a knack for getting locals to enjoy my choices of action. I'm cognizant of being looked at a bit askance, at times, but there is considerable variation even within the locals themselves. Most of the time I seem to fit well within the grin-and-shake-head range of "not right," and keep well clear of the "detain and question" end of the spectrum. To be honest, I'm proud of the work I've done, and more than honored that they've given me a choice in the matter on the new programming.

At this point, I have to say the work is more important. If I will be able to do more work and better work after the change, then that is my choice. It's no good being so infatuated with overly precious aspects of this thing I've been inside, for...egads! Too long, really - but it goes so fast in here! So: change tonight. Reconfig coma should go about 4 hours. Up and at it again bright and early in the morning!

I wonder if the locals will notice the difference?

I wonder if I will still love these strange, beautiful things?



We here at Consider Your Ass Kicked! have to explain a few things to you people about how writing fiction is done around here. I recognize I've fallen down on the job these past few Fiction Fridays. I'm not going to list the mitigating circumstances, I'm just going to point out a few things and then I am going to give you the good news that TODAY, by hock or by crock, you WILL get a Fiction Friday installment.

But first: a word. A word on my methods.

I refuse to rush a few of the ongoing stories I'm pulling along at their own pace, or close enough to it. I was just saying the other day, you can't just push through to the end, on a story. If you do, you'll never see how it really ends! The end that would have come. You'll just blaze over what really happened in that little world you created, you will lose the true story by superimposing your own forced, crafted ending and I'm telling you, it is going to feel fake. Maybe only just a little fake! But it's going to ring just that slight bit off.

See, I believe this is why God doesn't write our stories for us, despite what some pussies believe on that score. No offense to the theologians out there!

I'm pretty serious about my fiction, as you can see by the terms and comparisons I use. Actually I should note: I have no problem with your fiction. However you want to do it. If how I do is not how you do, that's cool by me. Mine is not a judgmental stance! Nothing could be more personal, more individualized, than the ins and outs of anybody's creative process. So if you write your stories differently - as far as I'm concerned, it's fine with me however you write yours! If you like to just force on through, pushing right past significant obstacles and indicators to some fake ending and say, "yeah, that's good enough for me," well, who am I to criticize you?

Hi. My name's Joe. Pleased to meet you.

But the point is. Just speaking for me, myself - as a personal choice and a personal standard - I can't settle for that kind of a trash, garbage work style. I write the story and I am just as interested in how it turns out as anybody. Maybe I can see certain future events looming, sticking out of the mist, but it's not because I dropped a plot mountain down in my path in advance. It's because a mountain is a damn large object. Most times, big enough to see well in advance of when you get to it, and so you kind of know some of the general shape of the events you're walking towards. But when the path just ends...ends in midair, the mist clears and all there appears to be is a chasm...

Well, sorry. I'm not going to force a path through that rings false. I will lower myself down humbly and sit, buddha-fashion, before the chasm. Humbly, says I! With humility! I will contemplate the path that must be, until the way opens to me. I will not put fingers to lips in a shrill whistle, summoning up a busy brigade of my imagination's Army Corps of Engineers to jimmy-jack some contrived, ugly-ass bridge over that chasm for me. No! I want to wait for a way to appear that feels true. That feels natural and believable and inevitable. That feels real. And if I sit patiently, waiting, open to the true, real, naturalistic resolution or continuation of that story's path, then eventually my patience will be rewarded and suddenly in one moment, the mist will clear and there it will be: I will raise my eyes up see it, riding down the wind with mane streaming, swooping in gloriously on iridescent dove's wings, unicorn horn shining like mother-of-pearl, landing in front of me with a clack and a clatter of gleaming golden hooves and tossing its proud head as its dark, beguiling tourmaline eyes beckon me to leap to my feet with a shout and jump on bareback, for a thrilling ride to the other side of that chasm.

But see, you have to wait. You have to have patience. Because if you just force that continuation, what you end up with is not going to be realistic!

So there's that. What I'm saying here is, while I can't just cobble up another chapter for you of Some say a stranger..., or Poor Bee Stories, or any of my other ongoing sagas, what I can do is monkey up some damn half-assed brand-new thing for you from scratch, for today's edition of Fiction Friday, and that's exactly what I'm going to do. A little later on.

Beginnings are always easier.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

You Don't Know Who You're Messing With! Pt.2

Hi my name's Joe!

You Don't Know Who You're Messing With!

You don't know who you're messing with, pal. Or if you do, you better think again, because: wrong! I am way more problem than even a fool like you would have had the bad sense to bargain for!

My hands are like fists!

My feet are like kicks!

My head is like butts!

No wait.

So How Do I Reconcile My Feminism With My Debilitating Porn Habit...?

Actually, I try to keep those two separate. Neither one really enhances the other. It's kind of a butter and wine situation. Or hot lava and acorns. They just don't go together, really. Like books and rain.

But I tell you! I have seen a little of this so-called "feminist porn," and let me tell you: well, I guess some of that stuff's okay. Kind of. But it also seems to me to be subverting the purpose, a little. Not even defeating it! Just subverting it. And if we're honest, only a little.

Let the two stand apart, that's what I say. Each on its own merits. What the hell.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Too Emotional? Not Emotional Enough? Pt.2: "Sea-Change"

For the benefit of the erudite, I do want to point out that I do get the reference. The reference is insufficient. The term "sea-change" works fine in its original context. But at some point, you can't just pull out any random two-word combo Shakespeare strung together one time, and try to knight it into proverb status. To do that, it's as if you say that any random utterance and scribbling of Shakespeare's is pretty much about as good as another.

Shakespeare minted many, many coinages of true sterling. Turns of phrase, spectacularly apt terms and neologisms that hit with immediate impact, that are sound and strong enough to carry a full freight of meaning. Phrases that enrich the language. Not by some hinting association, not by playing some winking game, nodding at a given play or a poem! They enrich the language by being forceful, meaningful, useful phrases. So many Shakespearisms have become almost indispensable - it is nigh-impossible to convey the meaning they convey without them.

The phrase "sea-change" is not one of these. Removed from its original context, "sea-change" is pretty much functionally meaningless. It doesn't add a damn bit of value to the language. The only meaning that can be drawn from its use is "Hey, look at me, making a pointless and self-congratulatory allusion to Shakespeare with some random phrase!" To seize on some random single-use tidbit he pulled out of his ass and parrot it about as if it actually meant something cheapens and diminishes the true and evident contributions that the guy actually did make. I mean, if Shakespeare had written a throwaway line somewhere, "Step off, lest I must needs work a fist-change upon your face!" - people today would be dropping that "fist-change" around all smug, like it adds something to the conversation.

Please, people. Please. It is possible to know Shakespeare and to love Shakespeare, without being a tool.

"Sea-change." Good lord and butter.

Too Emotional? Not Emotional Enough?

Am I like, a cauldron of naked, seething, roiling emotion on here at all times, or what? Is that how I come across, and not even realize it? Other times I feel like I come off like a real cold fish.

Not that the two are mutually exclusive! It's true a fish is a cold-blooded creature. But that fact of the fish's metabolism doesn't mean the fish itself has no feelings! Cold it may be, but beneath its scaly and inscrutable exterior, who can say this so-called "cold fish" is not seething with fishy emotions of its own? As it swims through its sea of chilling currents and a shifting glimmer of bubbles, ever on edge, alert for the shadow of a sudden predator, watchful against the reversals of some unexpected "sea change"? Fish lives are fraught with drama, man. Perhaps the reserve that we interpret as a "cold fish" is in fact a stoic resolve, cultivated in response to the harsh environment of the briny depths!

And what the heck is a "sea change" anyway? I tell you, Shakespeare came up with some real dogs, in with the gold-plated eternal slammers. Sayings-wise.

Name That Tune #27!

"The simpler thing is to not be smart
and use your mind to determine what lengths
I descended with you into paradise
into an empty house of God, from time to time

I'll say the words from the page, to spare you your sight
which you will have to have, as you steer your ship
it's adrift, you are lost on the tide
all your foremost mentors did not think twice
they abandoned you alone
to your destiny, shackled

There is only one who adores you: Me!
There is only one who makes your mouth water: Me!
There is only one who adores you: Me!
Scarediness is not tantamount to finality."

The Perils of Self-Diagnosis

The perils of self-diagnosis are nothing compared with the perils of self-anesthesia or self-chemotherapy, for instance. That's true.

But still, do yourself a favor. Get a second opinion.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Thought of the Day: Only One Is Quite Enough, Though, Really

There's something about the word "feminine" that makes me think of nine women.

Has Music Been "Played Out"?

I say that a piece of music "in and of itself" has no intrinisic value, that a song cannot be "good" in and of itself - since we know that once a song is overplayed it becomes banal, hackneyed...basically, no longer any good. Therefore, it can't have been truly any good in the first place. It never had any actual positive quality, besides novelty. It had no intrinsic artistic worth of its own. Our jaded ears were merely fooled by its newness, fooled temporarily into thinking it was art of quality. But in actual fact, we always find out that it wasn't. This is true of all art, really - but especially true of music.

The only (or chief) virtue of music is in its freshness, its newness, its trendiness - but only just before the trend catches on! Its worth consists in whether you are among the first people to become "hip" to it. If you were, then you can ride that satisfaction for some time, milk it for the benefit and edification of each successive wave of devotees. But only for so long as the music remains terra cognoscenti - cherished by an effete elite of select initiates, and mostly unknown to the great unwashed. For once the general public has caught on, the music is no longer good. It's "played out." That's what I say.

No wait!

I say the opposite of that! Holy cow, what am I saying. People with that attitude are dipheads! Shallow, shriveled souls with no taste at all, except a sweet tooth for the unfamiliar - with no feel at all for how art turns fleeting truths and beauties eternal. Music for such individuals is not a keen lance with which to pierce the self, transfixing one's soul with the universal, uniting us each in shared rapture, shared pain, shared recognition. No, these philistine neophiliacs, these would-be connaisseurs of the unknown use music as a dull shield of self-congratulatory separation, with which to wall others off. They are deaf to music, blind to art, dumb in general. I can't believe I slipped up and presented that sad view as my own! I don't say that! I say that art can never be played out! I pity the fools whose ears and eyes can tire of beauty and truth!

Sorry about the little mix-up, there.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Thoughtless And Inappropriate Rejoinder To A Compassionate Remark From A Friend of the day

Friend (gently, with concern): "Don't push yourself too hard."

Me (tone as indicated): "Yeah, don't pull yourself too hard!"

I Nearly Fucking Fell. Again.

And let me tell you, I for one am getting pretty sick of this!

But I'm having a hell of a hard time identifying who the real person to blame is. An issue like this can be a bit on the tricky side.

Don't even try to tell me it's me. I'm not clumsy in the slightest. It's the dark, and these inconveniently-placed boxes. Don't try to tell me the dark is my responsibility!

Albeit, if someone were to retort: "How many excuses does it take to screw in a light bulb?" I'd have to admit they might have a point.

Depending on how sweet they can pull off the punchline.

Your Bath-Tub Has TOILET WATER In It!

Don't believe me? Think I'm lying? Oh, yeah...? Nobody calls ME a liar!

Not where science is concerned.

So, seeing as you're so sure, maybe you wouldn't object to putting it to the test? WELL? If you're so sure!! Why not? If you think you can be so damn complacent about it!

Go ahead! Why don't we make it interesting, how about a little wager on the outcome, hey? How about one hundred dollars?

Ah, not so cocky now are you! Oh - but you are?

Well then.

Let's go. BRING IT. Come on! Go right ahead, let's settle the matter. Conclusively and scientifically.

Take a sample.

Send it in to my lab.


Results in 4-6 days. That's an incredibly fast turnaround, for the kind of service we provide.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

My God Is An Awesome God

It was like M. Night Shyamalan's Signs. I don't mean to spoil the movie for you if you haven't seen it, but that's what it was like. I was standing there having a series of vivid flashbacks and suddenly everything made sense. Fell into place. It was God's plan, that's all.

Let me set the scene. First, I had just parked my car in the airport long-term. Like I do. And I circled around the back to get my check bag out of the back of the car. But the back's locked, of course. So's the front - I'd shut the door, soundly. My car key was inside.

See, I don't bring my big ring of home-keys on trips; I had only my car key with me and I was planning to secrete it within the car for my return. I wouldn't need it on the trip. To get back into the car I had my spare car key in my wallet, as I always do - in case of accidental lock-outs. My wallet was in my check bag.

When flying I check my wallet. It's a new wallet, and I like it a lot. It has a metal bottle opener built right into it, and I don't trust security not to say it's a weapon, so I check it. I transfer my cards, ID and cash to my ratty old previous wallet for the flight, but the spare key stays in my nice wallet with everything else. Such as my AAA card. All snug in my nice wallet, packed in my check bag. Locked in the back of the car.

I tried the passenger door. Locked, of course. I knew it was.

So I don't tend to go in for miracles a lot, though I do pray quite a bit. Still, this was a bind. I was wondering whether I ought to pray for a miracle. When suddenly it happened!

I could practically hear the mounting, frenetic trills of the score. I was suddenly flashing back to 48 hours prior, standing in the Big K looking for a new gym bag to use as a carry-on. One of them was the right shape and size, but bright blue and gold - it would suit if I were a Spartans cheerleader. A dark blue one looked right but the bottom was too rigid. A collapsible shell is key! Otherwise, they will try to tell you it doesn't fit in the frame box they keep by the gate. In the end, no bag was suitable. I decided to try a different store later, and that if worst came to worst my current carry-on with the tear in the top flap would work.

A separate series of coincidences kept me from hitting another store before the trip, so I was stuck with the old bag for this trip. And then as I flashed back to the present, standing behind my locked car - the image formed in my mind of a spare key I'd seen rattling around the bottom of my carry-on, a few trips back.

Was it still there?

I threw the bag down on the asphalt and dug through the contents like a maniac.

The key was there. It was there all along!

Swing away.