Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Monday, June 28, 2010
Friday, June 25, 2010
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day: scuttlebutt
Meaning: rumor, gossip
Did you know?
Nowadays, office workers catch up on the latest scuttlebutt around the water cooler, and when they do, they are continuing a long-standing (although not necessarily honorable) tradition. That kind of gossip sharing probably also occurred on the sailing ships of yore. Back in the early 1800s, the cask containing a ship's daily supply of freshwater was called a "scuttlebutt"; that name was later applied to a drinking fountain on a ship or at a naval installation. By the early 20th century, the term for the water source was also applied to the gossip and rumors generated around it, and the latest chatter has been called "scuttlebutt" ever since.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Her New Boyfriend
Her new boyfriend is really her old boyfriend. It’s like she gave up looking. She said she bumped into him at that old dark pub in her neighborhood that used to be their neighborhood, and it just started again. Just like that. And it wasn’t even a sex-with-the-ex hook-up, or a too-lonely-to-sleep-alone night. They simply fell into step again. He turned up outside her tall glass office building the next day at 5, hands stuffed coyly into his jacket pockets. She let him kiss her cheek and walk her home. At her front door, propped open with her foot, she spoke into her handful of mail and keys, “I have spaghetti for dinner” as though telling these items a secret. “Good. I’ll get the wine.” He turned and walked east five paces to Eddie’s, where they used to go for beer or milk or lotto tickets.
Later in the week when she’d been invited to a friend’s art opening, she’d asked her friend on the phone if she could bring someone. The friend chimed “yes” hopefully, but that night her head tipped in confusion when she saw that the girl’s new boyfriend was really the girl’s old boyfriend. “Hey” she said to him. “Mike’s over there.” She ID’d her husband with her pointing pointer finger. She remembered the men had liked each other, would look less awkward as a pair pretending to study the pieces of art on the wall. The next day the girl’s artist friend spread the word about who she’d brought the night before and soon the talk among their friends of her new boyfriend dried up into “oh him” and “again, huh?” In a way, they’d given up too. It was easier for them in a way. Fewer questions to ask, no burden of introductions when they met a new single man she might like.
So, one night, at her place, her new boyfriend who is now recognized by all as her old boyfriend, finally decided to talk about it. This is what he said: “Funny, huh? How we just started…I don’t know….again?” His hands flew up and slapped his denimed thighs as pressed his lips together. He shifted on her lumpy sofa. The springs moaned; he cleared his throat. “Funny? How do you mean?” She kept her eyes trained on the TV, her hand one with the remote, her index finger flexed and pressed, flexed and pressed. The light flashing from the quickly changing channels broadcast different moods and reactions on her face, though it remained still: bewildered, amused, pensive. “We didn’t talk about getting back together, did we?” He touched her forearm and offered a small smile, like the tug of a shirt collar. “No. I don’t believe we did.” The girl stopped her channel up, channel down and finally her face turned into wonder, a curious, I-thought-I-had-more-dish-soap wonder. “Should we? Do you want to?" Now finally, she swiveled her head slowly to face him, her new boyfriend who was really her old boyfriend. Really wanting to know. “I don’t think so.” He gripped her hand, as if not to get lost in a rushing stream of other people, and didn’t meet her eyes.
Monday, June 21, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
There are many ways to tell a story. You can start with a long, winding, complicated yarn and reduce it to a snappy anecdote in the re-telling. Eliminate an explanation, combine two people (for instance the traffic cop and the security guard play one role). You can also go the other way which is, let’s face it, more fun. Embellish a nothing, non-story into a quirky tale that is so interesting, so funny, so improbable, you’ll have other people telling it to their friends.
Let’s say, for instance, you witness a minor auto accident in the parking lot of a strip mall. No injuries, very little property damage. So minor the parties almost decide to forget the whole thing, but exchange information anyway. What you have there is real snooze-fest, a big loser. Don’t tell that. It’s too dull and embarrassing for you that you even remembered it. But what if one of the drivers was Oscar winner Sofia Loren? And what if she got out of her Mercedes Coupe and one of her impressive bosoms came dangerously close to popping out of her lavender silk blouse? And don’t forget to describe her eyewear. I don’t even know if she still has that line of frames but you better believe she was wearing doozies that day: there were curly Qs and rhinestones on the earpieces, and the lenses were tinted and big as dessert plates.
When she recovered from her near mammary spill, she muttered Madonna when she saw the crumpled rear fender of her pretty blue German car. (No, she was not calling on the cultural icon Madonna, but expressing frustration in her native Italian. In America, we just say “Aw, shit.”)
Now you’ve gotta think. Be creative. Who hits her? Another movie star? A sports figure? Politician? No, no, and no. You’re gonna want to go for a comedic figure. Make it a frightened little old man who barely speaks English, who’s driving a delivery van of some kind. Come on, how funny are delivery vans, just in general? They’re stupid, right? Those weird doors that slide open that they almost never close, the driver’s uniform sleeves and collar flapping in the breeze as the van take corners at speeds well above the posted limit.
Anyway, back to the story. OK, now, work in some dialog. Ms. Loren has just taken the Lord’s mother’s name in vain. (Is that a sin? I don’t know.) The little man runs over to the car, his palms up defensively waving as if to ward off punches or thrown objects.
“What happened? Car good?” He smiles and lowers his arms, clasping his left wrist with his right hand.
“Sir, you dented my Mercedes. Do you or does your employer (insert pause as she reads) eh, Alfredo’s Linen Service, have insurance?”
Sofia produces her pocket book – I mean, if anyone still carries one of those it’d be her, right? – and removes a tiny gold pen. She frowns into her pocketbook: nothing to write on. Here’s where you join the story. “Allow me.” You say as you extract a small notepad from your inside jacket pocket, without looking. You know that move.
Sofia’s eyes widen with delight behind her sexy frames and accepts it without a word. You wince and suck air through your teeth as you notice printed on the cover of the pad are the words “Reno’s Silver Legacy: Have a ball!” Fortunately, she doesn’t seem to notice. The poor little delivery van driver has returned to this van to root through the various cubbies and stash holes for an insurance card or a convincing document of some kind. He returns, empty-handed, his hair sprung up from his head in coal-colored tufts.
“No, Miss. No nothing.” He offers his empty hands as proof and looks down, ashamed.
Now you’ve created enough interest in your characters and each one elicits sympathy. Your listeners will want to know more. Go for it. Give them the end. Go for a big finish!
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
Monday, June 14, 2010
Sunday, June 13, 2010
Friday, June 11, 2010
I thought of this story as I walked to carpool this morning, and wondered what might be buried hundreds of feet underground, in my neighborhood: an hunter-gatherer teen wearing baggy mastodon-skin trousers, or a prehistoric woman with a stone-age baby jogger? Naw, there's probably just mud.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Pictured here is The Moocher, at nap time. He's John's workmate and Chief of Entertainment at his job site.
Speaking of dogs, I saw quite a few last evening around the lake on my jog. (That's right, I said jog. No one could describe what I was doing as a run.) I saw two wiener dogs, a chihuahua, who was barking savagely at a passing bull dog, and a lovely King Charles Spaniel, flowing auburn locks bouncing on her ears. Other wildlife included: three gangly goslings, a smelly homeless guy, and two people banging on stand-up drums (with minimal skill).
All in all, a worthwhile outing.
Monday, June 7, 2010
Hey, it wasn't me! I was at home, minding my own business.
Saturday, June 5, 2010
Friday, June 4, 2010
Wednesday, June 2, 2010
...that the world has gone cuckoo bananas: George Bush has a Facebook page.
Speaking of FB, if you're not careful, you can get an inferiority complex. Write on your wall all you want, but when no one comments or "likes" it, you start feeling like a schmuck. What am I, chopped liver? I make a little joke, post a funny puppy video, and nothing! (These last two lines are much funnier if you imagine them in an old Jewish man's voice. Trust me.)
Tuesday, June 1, 2010
The past few entries have not been camera phone photos. (Email not working on my cell phone -- thanks AT&T!) Flickr has a cool interface with blogger so I'm making use of a few vacation photos.
Believe it or not, this statue is named simply "Bob" and was a statue outside a school that was rescued and is now housed in St. Ann's Cathedral in Cork City.