June 21, 2009


I woke up this morning not thinking about blues songs that begin "I woke up this morning," but rather about interstices, which are yet another unacknowledged casualty of the so-called digital age.

Cast in cement or etched in stone on a building where I work is the maxim "Wisdom is the fruit of reflection," and that might be the wisest, truest thing I've heard there (though it was probably merely an attempt, in a pre-digital age, to console students and faculty making the long trudge from one end of campus to the other ... of course now, instead of reflection in service to wisdom, we have cell phone conversations: "Where are you?" "I'm walking on the sidewalk." "Where are you?") You're not going to get wiser with ear "buds" in your ears, or talking on a cell phone. Wisdom is not the fruit of banality.

So whence wisdom? Beats me. Maybe people used be wiser because they'd use the time their bodies were busy and their minds weren't to think rather than to be entertained, to be amused to death.

All I know is, I sat down just now to talk about certain interstices, certain special moments of silence: between "Heartbreaker" and "Living Loving Maid." Between "Waitin' for the Bus" and "Jesus Just Left Chicago." Between "We Will Rock You" and "We Are the Champions." Hell, even between "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" and "City of the Angels." Maybe that's where we can find a few seconds of enlightment: between the tigers and the butter. Think about it.

You're never going to attain enlightenment with your Ipod on shuffle, people.

June 16, 2009

Happy Bloomsday!

And for those of you who've never found time to read the greatest novel ever, this. Listen live starting at 7.

June 10, 2009

Cat People, Dog People

I've always considered myself to be a cat person, probably because I've always had cats. I like cats and I have trouble understanding why some people don't. Cats crack me up. They are graceful but unwilling to act within the bounds of grace. And if you have a pack of cats, you have a whole that adds up--in ways that can actually be kind of creepy--to something more than the sum of its parts. It can be ominous, if cats can be ominous.

Some people, apparently, hate cats. I don't get that. I love cats.

And yet, as it turns out, I'm also a dog person. I had a friend in graduate school--and so did many of you--who claimed, credibly, to prefer dogs to people, and who claimed, not so credibly, that if she had to choose between running over a dog or running over a person, she'd probably hit the person. This was all the more perplexing to me because her dog was the one dog I've ever met that didn't like me.

But, you'll say, that dog didn't like anybody. That's not the point. Animals love me, dammit. Did you ever see a statue of St. Francis with his hands outstretched and birds flying around him? Well, I can assure you that birds are more likely to crap on the statue of St. Francis than they are to crap on me. So there.

I resisted letting my family get a dog, because I knew from experience that dogs are a lot of trouble. They have to be outside a lot, and their interactions with strangers can be problematic (as I experienced as a youth when my dog Max, a rescued doberman, had an altercation first with a horse, and then with the angry Amishman whose buggy the horse was pulling). Funny looking back on it, and a little funny even at the time ...

Everybody in the family insisted that the dog would be no trouble to me ... they'd walk it, they'd feed it, they'd clean up after it, etc. Suuure. But I knew that I'd be hearing that "my dad wouldn't let us have a dog" line for the next 50 years, so I relented.

Well, Annie (how did we end up naming our dog after the one dog I've ever met who didn't like me?) sure was a cute puppy, and I held the family to their promise. And of course fell in love with the dog. A year or so later, the family took a vote and said that the dog was too much trouble, that I had been right, that they wouldn't mind giving her away. My response was this: "If we start getting rid of things that are too much trouble in this house, we're NOT starting with the dog." I glared significantly and waggled my significant, even Dickensian eyebrows (ah, the joys of ageing), and everyone got the point. The dog stayed, and so did they ... so far.

And so, seven or so years later, I'm an animal person, not a cat person. The dog is sweet-natured and not overly brave, so I'm all the more impressed when she responds assertively to perceived threats (a noise on the porch that isn't somebody ringing the doorbell, for instance ... or the wheelbarrow in the yard, which she apparently thinks is a very slow-moving three-legged bear). She maintains order amongst the cats by breaking up their wrestling matches and naps. She recognizes about five words, and if you say one of them, you can watch her slowly checking down through her short list of concepts to see which one might be relevant: Out? Treat? Snack? Cookie? Toy?

So while I guess I continue to value human life over animal life in general, I do find myself prefering the company of animals. They might be sneaky, but they're honestly and frankly sneaky. They don't lie, and they don't want more than they need. And they're not big complainers.

Hooray for animals!

Birds, though ... I'm not big on birds.

June 05, 2009

Never too busy to rock

Well, it's been a busy time out here in the Wordshed ... I've been working the Richard III and MacBeth angles in the workplace to some positive effect. Add to that the impending graduation of the elder child, including a weeklong visit from biodad et al., and a visit from MY folks with all of the frantic housecleaning that entails ... and it's been exciting.

Not, however, as exciting as hooking up with fellow WSRD fans on Facebook. If you grew up in or around Youngstown, you might remember how cool that station was. I can honestly say that it made me what I am today, for better or worse.

It's nice remembering the lost classics. If you're from Cleveland, Youngstown, or (dare I say it) Western PA and of a certain age, you may remember these guys.