Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Zen Stories

Zen Again

Inspiring stories (very short ones) of "humor, insight, wisdom or compassion": Zen Moments. Click the Random Moment button to bring up another one. Read them, then close your eyes. Think small.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Word of the Day: cynosure

cynosure (n)

A center of attention; an attraction magnet.

"Ransom could see that, according to a phrase which came back to him just then, oddly, out of some novel or poem he had read of old, she was the cynosure of every eye."
--Henry James, The Bostonians

My favorite Henry James work is The Turn of the Screw, one of the few ghost stories that is truly scary and disturbing -- mostly because it's impossible to know exactly what is going on in the story. Ambiguity can be more frightening than any monster.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

"Nobody likes me because..."

According to Google

Nobody likes me because...

"people think I'm a geek."
"i am fat"
"I'm smart"
"i wouldn't let him brush his teeth"
"I am strange and dirty"
"I'm boring and don't say much and still dress like I'm ten"
"I'm a Bitch!"
"i'm a loser"
"I have no interests in anything"
"I'm not Pro-Bama or Pro Obama. It's all good, tho. I aint pro McCain either."
"i smell and i am brown and look like a doody"
"I'm a dummy?"
"I type more than I talk."
"I'm unlikable! I have no friends because I'm unfriendly! I hate everybody! Poor Me! Boo hoo!"
"my face is hideous. I must sit here in my catacombs, playing this stupid organ, because I have no friends."
"I'm different. They say I'm weird and they're just mean."
"I'm a big fat weirdo and so I have to make up my own friends so I won't feel so you know all by myself."
"of my sick and twisted mind."
"I have all these worries, and they're written on every line in my face."
"they are ignorant times a million, and obviously don't know what a debate is."
"they don't want to hear what I have to say."
"how can you like a bungler, a being who subjects the whole house to her moods..."
"A.) I'm progressive and they're philistines B.) I'm seeking new truths and everybody else wallows in self-deception..."

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sunday, November 09, 2008


Whatever Happened to Aaron?

Ivan had been thinking a lot about Aaron Leggatt lately. He hadn't seen or heard from Aaron in over a decade, and he wasn't sure why he was thinking about him now -- except that he'd been thinking of himself as even more of a misfit than usual lately.

He'd known Aaron only slightly in college; they were both philosophy majors and had taken several classes together. Ivan had always thought they had much in common -- both rather standoffish, and they even looked a bit alike, with dark hair and glasses -- but they had never become more than acquaintances, despite some overtures on Ivan's part. Still, Ivan felt an affinity for him. He was one those mirror people, an altar ego.

What had happened to Aaron? They had seemed to be on parallel tracks in college. Was Aaron successful today? Married? Happy? Everything that Ivan wasn't, at the moment?

One Saturday afternoon, with nothing better to do, Ivan decided to Google him. It was fortunate the Aaron had a fairly unusual name. Not many Web pages came up. Those that did were obscure: a membership listing for a bicycle club in Sephora, Illinois; a geneaology page about someone with the same name who lived in the 19th century; and several pages in a foreign language Ivan couldn't identify. There was also a page for a bookstore in Sephora, Illinois, owned by someone named…Aaron Leggatt.

It seemed to be an odd bookstore -- one that specialized in "hard to find, out-of-print science fiction," according to the page, which consisted of a single paragraph and a picture of a dusty, rundown storefront. There was an e-mail address and a phone number at the top of the page.

So.... Aaron had moved to Illinois, over a thousand miles away. He'd gone into business for himself -- not a prosperous business, by the look of it, but it was more than Ivan had been able to accomplish. He wondered if Aaron would remember him. He wondered if it might still be possible to connect with him, maybe start an e-mail correspondence with someone he thought of as a double, a doppelganger.

Feeling mischievous, he dialed the number, thinking he would probably hang up if Aaron answered. But instead there was a recorded female voice: "Leggatt Bookshop is closed until further notice, due to the death of Mr. Leggatt. Thank you for your patronage."

Dead. The mirror shattered.

Ivan sighed. Later that evening, he joined an Internet chat room devoted to out-of-print science-fiction books. He had to choose user ID for himself, and after several seconds of indecision, he decided on one: Aaron L.

Word of the Day: roun

roun (n or v)

A whisper, or to whisper.

"Another rouned to his fellow low."

An obsolete word, replaced by "whisper." Why do words fall out of favor? In this case, maybe because "whisper," with its S sound, actually sounds more like a whisper.

I remember a game we used to play as kids: tell a friend you have a secret and then just make a pssst pssst sound in his or her ear, making the friend giggle and driving the other kids crazy. ("What is it? What is it?")

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Quote of the Day: dreams of childhood

"What is the matter with a Fairy-tale world where everything had harmony? Nothing, but it has rarely been achieved in the history of mankind. So the next time a cow jumps over the moon or your dessert spoon runs away with the dish, leaving your ice-cream in a sticky puddle on your table, laugh and remember the hopes, great feelings, sincerity and uninhibited attention to your dreams of childhood. And try to carry it with [you]."

This quotation, intended as filler type, comes from a prop newspaper clipping in the film Fire Walk With Me. It was never intended to be read by the film's viewers (it has nothing to do with the movie's plot), but it is legible in freeze frames. I think it deserves an audience. You can see the original here:

A Closer Look