Saturday, April 28, 2007

Dog owners 'fleeced' in poodle scam

You can't make this stuff up

Dog owners 'fleeced' in poodle scam

"Thousands of people have been 'fleeced' into buying neatly coiffured lambs they thought were poodles...."

(via Yet Another Damn Blog)

This is my second post this month that has something to do with sheep. What is going on?

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Way I Feel

Attended an art opening last night. Saw sculptures made of twisted, rusted metal and broken and cracked glass, and paintings incorporating little bits of detritus collected on a beach in Hawaii. One man's trash is another man's--never mind. It was pretty impressive, if not "pretty".... My son had a few of his friends over last night. Though beds and couches were available, they slept on chairs and the floor, after staying up till the wee hours. This is called fun.... I learned a new word yesterday: mockolate. That's fake chocolate containing trans fats. Yuck. Perhaps the existence of such a thing says something about the times we are living in.... Why don't I.... invent something to keep my transit cards in? They get wrinkled in my pocket. It's too much trouble to pull them out of my wallet, especially when seconds count at the turnstile. I need something smaller and thinner than a wallet that I can keep in my front pants pocket. Something like a credit card holder, I guess, if such a thing exists. Hmm.... Turnstiles are also called "baffle gates," I read somewhere. That might be a good name for this blog....

Monday, April 23, 2007

famous last words

Famous Last Words

"I am about to -- or I am going to -- die: either expression is correct."
--Dominique Bouhours, French grammarian, d. 1702

Here is a collection of death-bed statements by famous people from history. Some of them are quite amusing.

Not so amusing is this collection of suicide notes from such notables as Kurt Cobain and Virginia Woolf. People who choose to die seem to take life much more seriously.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Quote of the Day: "There is no rationale...

Quote of the Day

"There is no rationale, and there is no explanation - at least no explanation and no rationale people can, or will, accept as valid, for this type of tragedy, yet the media says they are grasping for exactly that in their 24/7 discussion of what happened, why it happened, and what should have been done, or done differently. Make no mistake, media careers are being made and ripped to shreds as a result of this shooting, and that, and that alone, is the 'why' of the searching and the questioning."

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Word of the Day: petrichor

Word of the Day

petrichor (n)

The pleasant smell of rain on dry ground; the yellow organic oil that yields this scent

"It poured for an hour. And it was cool and breezy and I maximised my utility of the situation by accompanying the petrichor with a special strong steaming cup of coffee and a Jayaram comedy on TV."
--Girl With Big Eyes (

Now if only I knew what a "Jayaram comedy" was.... Not much petrichor around here lately, since there's not any dry ground. Instead, there's more of a wet pavement smell. Rain, rain, go away.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Random Acts of Poetry

Random Acts of Poetry


There is no place for draining.
A solid sky, water licking

dark under sidewalks,
translucent silks of rain,

like sheer drapes convulsing,
but every window shut.

The distant smokestacks
dissolve like an ancestor's

faded reminiscence. Shapes
drift away, vacating dreams.

But from the stony bottom
a face rises, a garnish of seaweed

like a headdress,
more slime from the sluice gate.

What's that the rain hisses?
Ssssh. Slippery season.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

So it goes

So it goes

"Who is more to be pitied, a writer bound and gagged by policemen or one living in perfect freedom who has nothing more to say?"


"It is a very mixed blessing to be brought back from the dead."


"Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why."

--Kurt Vonnegut

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

April: Cruel Month

Cruel Month

What is it about April, the month poet T.S. Eliot famously described as the "cruelest"? Schizophrenic weather and tax day might have something to do with it, but April is also prime time for some of the most angst-provoking national commemorations and "holidays."

April is, for example, National Anxiety Month, according to an outfit called the National Anxiety Center, which gives out something called the Chicken Little Award. The Center seems far more concerned with supposedly over-hyped "liberal" issues like global warming than with the health consequences of frayed nerves -- which means it is itself a cause for anxiety, if you ask me.

More salubrious, perhaps, is the designation of April as Stress Awareness Month, sponsored by the Health Resource Network. This is described as a "national, cooperative effort to inform people about the dangers of stress, successful coping strategies, and harmful misconceptions about stress that are prevalent in our society." That's nice, but I think people are already pretty aware of their stress as they struggle with all those tax forms -- when they're not trying to decide how to dress for freezing rain. August might be a better time to bring up stress awareness. Can't relax, even while you're sunning yourself on the beach? There's a reason....

This is also Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month. A good cause, to be sure, but why April? Maybe it has something to do with all those baby chicks and rabbits that are sold around Eastertime and presumably die shortly thereafter -- something to ponder while you're biting the ears off your chocolate bunny.

April has certainly lived up to its cruel reputation when you consider the number of disastrous events that have occurred in this month. The Columbine massacre, the Oklahoma City bombing and the 1992 Los Angeles riots all took place in April, as did Lincoln's assassination, the San Francisco earthquake, and the sinking of the Titanic.

April 15th is -- no, not just IRS appreciation day -- Rubber Eraser Day. The origins of this day are lost in the mists of time, but the reason for it is clear enough. If you can fill out your tax return in pen, without first doing a draft in pencil, you're living a simple life indeed. (I suppose it is actually April 17th this year, since the 15th falls on a weekend and the Feds therefore gave us two days' grace.)

April is National Poetry Month, which seems to make Eliot's remark ironic. Or does it? I suppose it depends on your opinion of the state of modern poetry.

I could go on. April 6th is Sorry Charlie Day, dedicated to "those who have been rejected and lived through it." April 11th is Eight-Track Tape Day. April 17th is National Cheeseball day. April 26th is Richter Scale Day. And April 1st, of course, is a day dedicated to making a fool out of you.

Maybe the best thing about April is that it will soon be over.

(This essay appears in the latest issue of The Hudson Current.)

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

What I'm Reading

What I'm "Reading"

The Color of a Dog Running Away, by Richard Gwyn

Cryptic invitations, bizarre events, cults, the ordinary and the surreal... I don't know why this sort of thing appeals to me. Actually, I do know why. Long story.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Word of the Day

Word of the Day

minatory (adj)

Menacing or threatening

"He was often observed peeping through the bars of a gate and making minatory gestures with his small forefinger while he scolded the sheep with an inarticulate burr, intended to strike terror into their astonished minds."
--George Eliot, The Mill on the Floss

I observed a sheep being sheered once, at a state fair. The animal was scared and made a weird, keening sound that was undoubtedly the sheep equivalent of a scream. Those huge, noisy electric clippers were minatory, to the sheep -- something I occasionally think about when I wear wool.