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Wow. They say there’s nothing that corrupts like power. How true! And nothing that makes you feel that you have power like having comments on one of your deathless posts. Well, to be accurate that should be comment (singular). So… I wrote my last incredibly witty and wise and (fill in with the appropriate laudatory adjective of your choice) post and–gasp!–somebody read it and commented!!! Now I feel I can move mountains, or at least the molehills from which they are made. Dang! The comments are there–FOR MY APPROVAL!! Or NOT!! I get to decide whose words are worthy of being preserved on this, my blog. With a keystroke I can welcome the commentator or banish him or her to outer cyberspace. Hah!

And so I am flexing my digit, preparing to make that decision–accept or reject? Off with his head or jam tomorrow? To the Gulag or the banquet table? Am I drunk or stoned? Neither. Just been smelling paint fumes all day.

OK, Paul. I have approved your comment. As they say in Yorkshire, Tha is most welcome here. And it’s wonderful to hear from you after such a long time and great to know you’re writing! And to anyone else reading this, Paul Strain is one of the smartest people I know! (And he has the excellent good taste to like my blog.)

Ah, the paint fumes are starting to leave my head. Too bad. Now I’m starting to feel normal again. Flowers no longer grow in the pavement. Oh, by the way–it was latex paint and I’m allergic to latex in any form, in case you were wondering.

So I guess I wasn’t really corrupted by the power of being read and contacted by a reader after all. Just latexed.

Thought for the day: Pity the woman who confused her birth control pills with her tranquilizer. She now has twelve children but she doesn’t care.

Have a great weekend!

 

This is about a special birthday gift I received last week. And it’s also about a book, and a poet, and a humorous reaction to bad criticism.

My son gave me a gift he has been trying to locate for many years. He’d about given up on ever finding one, when he found it online. It was like the commercial–Very old book: $**.**; pleasure given to the recipient: Priceless.

The autographed and inscribed little book, published in Iowa, is:

Echoes From the Woods:
Memories of Early Life in the Backwoods of Ohio
A Poem Memorial
Vol. 1-4
by Albert Clymer
(c)1889

Albert Clymer was my Great-Grandfather. (My grandmother and my mother also liked to write. Is it a genetic affliction?)Aside from a slight yellowing of the pages it’s in almost perfect condition. (Incidentally, my Great-Grandfather was also an inventor and held a patent for a saw-buck.)

Anyway, the critic for the Cedar Rapids Gazette, wrote, “this volume of poems would have been better without its poetry.  The author has mistaken rhyme for poetry…” and went on to quote one stanza, removing three of its seven lines to show how it could be improved.

Now, I would have been ready either to cry, murder the critic, or write a scathing response. My Great-Grandfather was made of better stuff, and he must’ve had a great sense of humor. He responded:

Alas! our critic is so short of breath,
Seven rhyming lines quite worry him to death,
Three verses he lops off we see;
Then gasps, “this stanza is not poetry.”
To write a rhyme was our intent–
The poetry’s an incident.

I resolve that in the future I will keep my Great-Grandfather’s humorous attitude toward critics of my writing. So far I’ve not had many, but that could change any day!

 

Well, as long as no one’s reading my blog anyway I’m going to rant. If anyone read it they’d be sure to get offended.

I find it fascinating and repelling that more and more Americans (and, for all I know, Brits and Aussies, Germans and Russians are the same) are so important to the continued turning of the earth that they can’t do anything without a cell phone glued to their faces or being plugged into one of those ear thingies that make them look like Uhura on the original Star Trek. They can’t walk down the street, in the mall, sit through a movie or a school program, drive a car, eat, or anything else without the ubiquitous things. I wonder how many have sex and talk on the cell phone at the same time.

Good grief. Is there honestly anything that important, except maybe giving instructions to a hysterical husband who’s stuck in traffic and has to perform a Cesarean delivery on his wife, using only a plastic McDonald’s knife? OK, I grant you there are real emergencies and for these cell phones are a blessing and a life saver. But come on–! How often is that actually the case?

During WWII, my mother told me, they had a slogan “Is this trip necessary?” because of gas rationing. I wish people would think, “Is this call necessary?” when they’re driving (ESPECIALLY when they’re driving). A cell-phone-using driver forced me out of my lane of traffic today, sent me fishtailing into the turning lane to avoid hitting her. For a split second I lost control and narrowly missed hitting an oncoming car head-on. I wonder how important her call really was.

Last week a woman seated in a restaurant about two feet from me felt compelled to call someone and relate every detail of the bloody diarrhea she’d had that morning. Now, I’m not heartless. I’m sorry she had been sick. Truly. But I was sick too by the time her conversation was over. Of course when she finally hung up my appetite was gone but she tucked into a perfectly enormous lunch of what looked like barbecued ribs.

What is this overwhelming need to carry on loud “private” conversations–or what should be private conversations—in public?

American society is getting crasser and more vulgar by the day, and my personal opinion is that a large part of the reason is that there are no standards of privacy or “suitability” anymore. It’s an old saying, but still a good one: there’s a time and a place for everything. I don’t want to know about your bloody diarrhea when I’m eating and I don’t want to hear you cuss at someone over the phone (or in person, for that matter) when I’m shopping for vegetables. I don’t want to be privy to your telephone fights with your significant other because, like Rhett Butler, frankly my dear I don’t give a damn. Let’s bring back some class. Let’s lower the voices. Let’s bring back the notion of keeping private stuff private.

I apologize to anyone who really is so important to the functioning of the world that he or she can’t unplug themselves in public. No offense intended. As for everybody else–get a life!

Now, with my luck, people will actually read my blog and get annoyed. On the other hand, if they’re reading it, maybe they’re not talking on their cells phones.