Friday, April 30, 2004

The Table Dance, Plus Nazi

Around And Round The Table Around The Title
HTML code is always a weird business for me. There’s no such thing, usually, as “self-taught”, but I didn't know anyone who knew about web sites so I read the things I could find on the Internet and a couple of books from my local library and learned enough to create my Southern Exposure web site a few months ago. I turned with great relief to this blog, thinking how they do everything for you and I could just write, not plan and plot and write perplexing lines of code that were always biting me on the ass.

But you know what happens. You mess with it, just a little at a time. You get rid of that bizarre orange color behind the title. You steal a rat drawing and glue him on. You toodle and toddle, left and right, swing and sway. Then you figure out how to wrap a table around the blog title. Woo, that’s major, you think. But it’s got that weird gray-and-grayer border that you’d just love to change, but you can’t run across the right code. Somehow I’d gotten it switched from the default gray over in Southern Exposure, but I realized 2 or 3 weeks ago that I don’t know how it happened! It was a miracle! A few days ago, I ran across these commands that resolved that problem. At the beginning of the code that starts the table you talk this gibberish after the opening tag:

table bordercolorlight=”shade1” bordercolordark=”shade2”

and that’s it. Include any other code required at that point and finish the table line with a closing tag. Only put a real color name or color number in there, not shade1 or shade2!

I know that’s gobbledygook. But it’s simple compared to how slow it is to sit there and Test all the pairs of colors there are! You know, some don’t go together well. And the blogger preview, though it works well enough, Does Not work fast! So it took probably two hours just to change all the pairs of colors until I settled on those two border blues above. After all that work, back to the regular blues.

My word of advice to the rest of you? Don’t even put a table in! And if you do, don’t change the default border colors! And if you’re stupid, really stupid and stubborn, and decide to do it anyway… Well, okay, you might be smart and handle it quickly. I could help you with the code perhaps, but no one on Earth can help you find those two perfect colors. You just have to run the gamut. Or do I mean, the gauntlet? Both, apparently.

After all, if you were easy to please, gray-and-grayer would have suited you. Two or three weeks (plus two hours) ago.

Hermann Goering: "Why of course the people don't want war... It is the leaders...who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along...all you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."

Thursday, April 29, 2004

Birds, Gators, And Dirty Binoculars

My cousin J.W. and I went to the park the other day to gawk at birds and I used his extra binoculars. I was a little stunned to see how clear they were, though my cousin remarked that he couldn’t remember the last time he’d cleaned them. Uh…okay. I made a mental note.

Well, we saw some pretty good birds that afternoon for a couple of lazy guys not working very hard at it. Around the large pond there we saw a yellow-crowned night heron that was just dead gorgeous, a colorful mallard, some starlings with their bright yellow beaks, a noisy red-bellied woodpecker high in the trees, a pair of eastern bluebirds, of which the VERY BLUE male simply would not hold still for J.W.’s digital camera, which nearly gave my cousin a brain hemorrhage. We take our birding and other hobbies rather seriously, you see.

Oh, and an alligator—now, that’s NOT a bird name of any kind--sunning itself on a log, its mouth wide open, all the time we were there. I’m not sure if the mouth was open for ventilation or if it was waiting for Mr. Extra-stupid Dinner to just walk right in. I’m sure he knew why he was doing it and I left him to it. As far as I knew he never moved while we were there, but when my cousin put the photos on the computer screen at his house, I saw that Mr. Bigmouth had in fact closed it at some point. Hmm, glad he was so far away, because I apparently forgot to keep watching him! But, anyway, you can see the oddest things in a city park around here.

So, when I got home I cleaned the lenses on my binoculars. Lord, I could see again! My face turned red to realize that I had failed for so long to clean mine! My only excuse is that I used to clean them so often that I got tired that there never seemed to be any improvement. It didn’t seem very intelligent to just keep at it. I guess I even worried that it wasn’t good for the glass to be cleaned too often. I have the weirdest thoughts. But it’s not as if I get fingerprints or peanut butter smears on them--I’m very careful! It’s only the dirt film of the universe, the very air we breathe that gets on there, slowly but surely, speck by speck, day by day. So it turns out that I’ve now gone in the opposite direction and hardly ever remember to clean them. This also is Not Intelligent.

Okay, but this is a new day (all over again). From now on, I’m back to full Technicolor. No blur, no fog, no wondering why there’s an indistinct soap film over my eyes. Just red, white, and blue birds—clean, clear, true! Cue the music! Somebody pull out a flag and wave it for me, I’m busy cleaning my binoculars.

Come on, night herons, I’m ready for you this time! Prance on out here, shake a tail feather, do a little Sneaking-Up-On-Dinner dance! Gobble that crawfish, it’s all yours. Brother, no one else here is going to eat a live one! Blech! I’ll be watching, though, stalking you as cautiously as you stalk the tasty wigglies in the water...

I almost forgot to say that the woman I talked about at the Blindfold Blog said yesterday that today would indeed be her last entry in the blog.


It started a long time ago:
What went for me
Came down to this:

That all that moved
Moved well in time,
And if it moved was done in time.

“A champion of the words” is what they said.
“A man who moves and suffers
And lives and dies

Upon the point of words
As if they were a sword—
But what’s the point of that?”

Ronald C. Southern
Current draft: 02/27/03

Let’s not get too cocky, but it’s pretty much a fact, that sorry old Coming Attraction is coming Tomorrow… “The 17 Best-Known Root Causes of Bad Driving“

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.” -- Napoleon Bonaparte

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Guide Dog Training Makes A Good Blog

There is a terrifically interesting blog called Blindfold Blog that I discovered by accident. The Blogger Home Page was recommending it, but it’s an accident when I check those out, for they have recommended some things just too entirely respectable for me in the past. This blog is respectable, too, though that’s nothing against it.

The part of Blindfold Blog I’ve been reading is days #1-9 of the 10 blindfolded days that a trainer for guide dogs for the blind has to go through. This is a part of how they qualify as a dog trainer, blindfolded and being led by and living with a trained dog the whole time. It is more interesting than I would have thought. I haven’t read the part where the blogger started out writing 29 days before the blindfold part even started, though I intend to go back and read it. Tomorrow--no, today!--is day #10, the day she gets the use of her eyes back. Off with the blindfold!

I am curious about that, but even more so what will happen when she’s done her 10 days and whatever else it takes to be a graduated trainer. Will the blog continue? I hope so. If not, her blog was good while it lasted.

I recommend that you read some of it fast before it disappears if you like wonderful things from out of the blue. It’s another one of those sites without Comments or an email address, so we can’t tell her, “Good job, girl!” or “Attaboy!” or “Thank you, Masked Man!” I just hate that. But, sit happens. Something like that.

Sit, boy, sit! Good boy!

There, you see, I did it; my blog was short today and I didn’t say shit once.


There was a time in my life when everyone I knew probably needed to “straighten up and fly right”. Now it’s mostly come down to me. Maybe one other from the old group, that’s about it. But mostly me, I think, and I’m not planning any changes. This is not a brag, but a confession.


His kisses were sweet and full of love,
Hers were sweet with fire;
Between the two, I knew myself
In love with love and fire.

Current draft: 02/08/03

Let’s not get too cocky, but it’s pretty much a fact, that sorry old Coming Attraction is coming Tomorrow… “The 17 Best-Known Root Causes of Bad Driving“

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Every kiss is the conquest of a repulsion." -- Lawrence Durrell

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

The 17 Best-Known Root Causes of Bad Driving

Rough Language And Speed Bumps Ahead

Recently Sugarmama undertook the subject of bad or poor drivers in her reader-based drive to cover every subject under the sun, but I don’t think she was mean enough. No, she may be strong, she may be smart, she may be good-looking, but what’s needed for a topic like this is somebody who’s hateful as sin, mean as a snake, somebody who’s been mad longer than Sugarmama’s been alive, someone willing to say derogatory things about bad drivers’ mothers, fathers, and their antecedents in the non-human world. Someone not limited by a false sense of politeness. Someone gleefully unstable. In short, this topic needs a ratbastard like me.

The items below are numbered, but only for reference points in case some of you want to criticize. As it turned out, I was incompetent and failed to make this a list of distinctly different things. So let’s just say it’s a bunch of small essays on the general topic and that many of them wallow all over the place and hit some of the same points. The New York Times wouldn’t let me get away with this, but my publisher is rather more lax.

The 17 Best-Known Root Causes of Bad Driving

1. Bad Parents -- Some of their parents never told them the difference between right and wrong. It’s that simple.
2. Bad Daddies -- Even some of the fathers who did tell them the difference nonetheless drove this way themselves and thus negated all that good advice.
3. Bad Mommies -- Their mothers never insisted they quit driving badly. They never told their child not to show up for Christmas if they were going to keep driving like maniacs. They prided themselves on having raised a child who could tie its shoelaces and pretend to keep awake in church; that alone was considered a miracle. Driving habits were important. They just “love” their depraved offspring, no matter what, and never oppose their return to the road. Killing other people’s babies and children is no great matter.
4. Families In General -- Whole families need to be exterminated or sterilized. Clearly, large segments of the American population are either unwilling or unable to police their own behavior. Bad Drivers in these families simply got too much positive reinforcement in a negative situation. They behaved badly and were treated nicely. It’s hard to say if it’s the rich or the poor who are most at fault, or people from the North or the South. In Hell, where they will all eventually go, no one cares about that. The family unit has just plain failed, I say; there are no powerful Grandfathers and Grandmothers these days who’ll slap the crap out of you when your other near kin fails to do it.
5. Inadequate Police Authority -- Listen, we need bigger guns. Why wouldn’t it be all right to just shoot the worst of the bad drivers dead in their tracks? Just drag the dead body to the edge of a cliff and give it a kick down the hill. Being a cop would become a much more popular job. Bad driving would decrease due to the rumor of this alone. Cops wouldn’t really have to shoot more than five or six a week in any one city to get things in line.
6. A diseased concept of Freedom -- When they get behind the wheel, regular men and women continue to speak kindly and gesture in a friendly manner to their loved one in the passenger seat even while they’re not looking where they’re going and are turning into aggressive monsters toward every passing stranger. Upon hearing this description, they readily recognize The Other Guy, not themselves.
7. Clocks -- When Bad Drivers are late for the latest thing they’re late for, other drivers, even those who have elderly persons or infants in the car, are of no consequence whatsoever. “Run over them if necessary,” appears to be the golden rule.
8. Insurance Companies – It’s their fault because some people who pay enormous premiums have come to think that insurance will cover everything. Many drivers have evidently never seen maimed bodies except in Terminator movies and it isn’t anything real to them.
9. Immaturity -- Oh, these awful Boys at the wheel! The best of kind, gentle, educated, skillful Americans turn into flaming assholes behind the wheel. I said Boys, but I intend no sexual distinction. Offenders are male and female. They want what they want and they want it Now. They don’t care what happens. They won’t accept the argument that They could have a wreck. It is utterly impossible, according to them. I’d like to blame TV for this perception, but, as I understand it, bad driving preceded TV. Somebody was wrecking oxcarts long before we invented the rubber tire or combustion engine. Therefore we must conclude that the First Profession wasn’t The Prostitute at all, it was The Asshole.
10. Religion, or the lack thereof -- Apparently perfectly good Christians, as drivers, become as impatient and pushy and demented as anybody else does. If God-fearing pedestrians acted the way they do as drivers, they’d be elbowing your grandmother to the ground at the grocery store and kicking Grandpa’s cane out from under him at the curb so that they could jump out and cross at the intersection in front of him. The wouldn’t even say “Oops!” Yet the polite and respectful pedestrians you know ARE those predatory drivers who don’t seem to belong to the human race!
11. Bosses – Many won’t let parents leave early to pick up their kids or else they make the parents suffer for it. It’s not that these bosses are without sympathy because they don’t have children of their own. They just have children who don’t have a parent. The bosses have children, yes, but no sympathy, period.
12. Judges and drunk drivers -- I believe it has changed a good deal in the past 10 to 15 years, but it used to be that judges would give drunk drivers a pass or a slap on the wrist because the judges themselves were old-fashioned good-ole-boy drunks themselves and thought there was nothing wrong with drinking, at any time or in any way. Like the Masons, drinking was a Secret Society in which there was No Shame. Like slobs around the world, they identified with Everybody (even the criminals) who “just like a good drink”. I take it they ceased to identify with the drunk drivers AFTER they killed someone, but their unwillingness to shun them or control them before the event is testimony still, I think, to the laughability of the whole concept of civilized behavior. Judges ought to represent it, and not be good ole backslapping jowly hog-boys who start drinking alcohol just as early in the morning as the criminals. Their Mammas spoiled them as well, it seems. And now they’re goddamn judges!
13. Partially disabled drivers -- People with bad backs, stiff necks, recent injuries, and overall low agility. Many people are bad drivers through no particular ill intent, but simply through illness, age, and dysfunction. Whether aged or crippled or just a little stiff, some drivers get in their cars and pray they won’t be required by young aggressive maniacs to whip their heads around 180 degrees in each direction to check for danger or to thread a needle with their Mercury Sable. They are NOT agile enough to do so! Maybe they shouldn’t go out and drive in that shape, but the fact is that everyone in America has always done so and is going to continue to do so. It’s pointless to argue about it. Neither the best Christian or the worst driver in America is going to give up their driving privileges without being first wrestled to the ground and subdued. Certainly today’s bad drivers will continue to believe in their own God-given right to drive even when they’ve become the slowpokes that they currently despise.
14. The irrisistable sensation of speed – It just Feels So Good to speed! Today’s speeders will someday be slow old folks themselves praying to Jesus to let them keep their driver’s license and their freedom of movement. If they live. No one “grounds” himself when the time comes and in fact there is a long span of time where these imperfect specimens might “get by” just fine if only there weren’t so many impatient, murderous, rude, and thoughtless pushy bastards on the road with them. In America, there’s always a faster gun and there’s always a younger or more capable driver eager to force you off the road. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with them. My cousin J.W. would like to chase them down, wrestle them to the ground, and beat them until they cough up some pitiful explanation of or apology for their stupid behavior. But there’s just too many of them. And, of course, as you may be thinking, his demonstrative behavior at that point might be a little on the suspect side itself! But I understand his feelings thoroughly!
15. Lack of Defensive Driving – A primary cause of accidents. I’m always surprised that young people and other impatient drivers with quick reflexes are not more afraid of crowding the older or slower drivers. It never seems to occur to them that the ensuing danger of this fast driver-slow driver proximity is Very Great. It should serve as a big red WARNING SIGN for them to ease off. Even if the old folks are Completely In The Wrong, how right can young people make it by being so aggressive? Is the reasoning, “I’ll scare him half to death and that will not cause him to perform some frightened and aberrant action, it will only cause him to safely get out of my way?” Hey, fat chance! When somebody frightens me out there, I BACK OFF to about Tuesday and give them room to do a double back flip. I don’t ride their bumper with steam coming out of my ears while waiting for my break to surge ahad or for their brakes to unexpectedly slam on. You know what, agile driver, you aren’t really a professional racecar driver like you think; you’re just a snotty twit in a big hurry. Personally, I hope you die soon, trapped in a burning car. Something has damn well got to thin the herd. Soon.
16. The Mystique of Competition – I think this is the main thing, the factor involved in most of the other things already listed. For some reason in America, only the old, the infirm, and the way-too-cautious completely do NOT subscribe to it. It’s a notion that seizes us the instant we get in our cars. We suddenly believe that Life is a Competition, a matter of being first (no matter what the cost), of winning (even if there is no prize), of Killing the opponent if necessary, of excelling at something you can do while sitting down on your dead ass. Everyone can do THAT, so naturally everyone is attracted to it!
17. The Mystique of Competition, Part Two
· you must never Yield, you must never get out of anybody’s way, you must always be vigilant! You must Always ride the bumper of the car in front of you. Let them know that you are in a hurry and that you’re better than they are. Either they don’t work for a living at all or their job’s not as important as yours.
· If they don’t move over, Push them over! Dopey people and old people have no business being on the highway with sharpies like you, so never give an inch, take no prisoners!
· Overwrought mothers with a car full of kids and a birthday cake on the front seat are to be given No Quarter on the highways! See if you can make her jumpy! This is the way, get those sluts and mutts off of my road! If they can’t stand the heat, they should get out of the kitchen!
· We’re overpopulated, anyway, so just smash ‘em and bash ‘em! Kill ‘em! But, just remember, when you get out of your car, you’ll have to be mild-mannered Clark Kent again. Kiss your Mamma. Kiss your Sugarmama. Pat your kids on the head. Those are the rules.

I believe some of these bad drivers need to Play sports instead of just watching them on TV; maybe they’d get some of that aggression out of their system somewhere else. But I’m only an amateur psychologist, so what do I know? I know I’m liable to kill the next SOB who pulls any of this Bad Driver pushy stuff on me, I do know that!

Wait a minute, let me run that thought past my over-excited brain one more time… Think it over, now…


Lost in the loss
Or the thick of it,
My heart, like most,
Is sick of it.

Tossed by the rise
Or the sink of it,
Men’s hearts grow tired,
Not quick from it.

Current draft: 02/08/03

No more long articles for a while...we want short blogs, we want short blogs, we want short blogs! Well, you get the idea.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "All cynicism masks a failure to cope." -- John Fowles (The Magus)

Monday, April 26, 2004

Gmail And The Stupid Smart People

A Long-Winded Rant

The free Yahoo email I often use is itself annoying and sometimes slow moving, but it does do the necessary stuff and it isn’t plain text unless that’s what you want it to be.

Now here comes Google's new Gmail and it is just completely incomprehensible to me. They said it was a "test" version, but should have just called it a "make-do version that nobody but a computer nerd could like yet". The only advantage to being signed up now is just being signed up. And here I’d hurried along as if the world was full of people who wanted to be and they would’ve snapped up my cutesy email name before I could grab it! Oh, woe!

As if I wouldn’t be just as well amused to be dimgolly@ or googibble@ or fobweasel@ or kupoosh@ or shambuggle@ or nobtoodle@ or any number of things! Just so long as they don’t have ugly unimaginative numbers in it, I’m good to go.

But, meanwhile, I’ve rushed forward and I’m in it—I’m in the Gmail! But what’s this Google email for? I’m not saying that Gmail malfunctions, I don’t believe that it does. It just isn’t complete! If it is, they should say so clearly and cure me of my vast illusions!

If it would have started out a little more normal, if it had just SOME of the convenient and attractive features like Yahoo--it's main competitor, I presume, since they are both Free and both have advertising--it could clearly compete. On my machine, it's faster than Yahoo is as it changes from Inbox screen to Sent screen and so forth, but that's not enough. And surely nobody wants ONLY a big bucket of storage space. How much finger-licking chicken-fried space can I use, especially right at first? I already have access to an email system that’s plain vanilla and has more storage space than Yahoo and I don’t use it much because it’s disgustingly plain. “Plain” is not an attractive feature, all you Computer Creatures from the black lagoon!


1. There’s no larger font. There’s just the small default. I want something LEGIBLE, people! Using View-Text Size-Large on the Internet menu bar above only produces chaotic lines of text, which is readable, but hard to read. I can be as lazy as Gmail’s beta designers any day, you know! I’m not going to hustle to translate their bug-headed eccentricities into a visible font! That was their job.
2. There are no different fonts.
3. There’s no colors for fonts.
4. There is no Bold,
5. no Italic,
6. no underline.
7. There’s no way of adding an automatic Signature.
8. Gmail doesn’t know what a link is so far. It doesn’t attempt to do anything with them. So I guess it isn’t a link!
9. Gmail mentions, but does not yet seem to support attachments. I can’t tell what’s happening with attachments.
10. Does not indicate the file size of message.
11. If you can block any addresses, I failed to find out how.
12. Gmail does all it can to DISCOURAGE you from deleting an email! Why?

They think because they have provided so much storage space for you, you'll never need to delete anything. I did eventually see the obtuse and obstructive manner in which they bury the explanation that it IS possible to Delete a message. This sort of thing is another reason why these computer geniuses are patent Stupid Smart People. Evidently they've never gotten mad at a friend, a lover, or a business and wanted to utterly delete them from the face of the earth, and this includes from your computer. These guys must be genuine nerds, people without lives, personalities, quarrels, resentments, or desires. That’s all I can figure. They’re stick figure stereotypes from a teenage ha-ha movie. Deleting emails is one of the small perverse Negative Pleasures in life, dammit! What business do they have to dissuade me from it?

As for Gmail’s wanting to get our feedback, I see little real evidence of that. Hey, if you want feedback, you don’t make it difficult for the dumb public, boy geniuses! The Help Files are there and you CAN find the well hidden “contact us” if you pursue it through a labyrinth. You’ll find a place eventually where you slog (no, not blog) laboriously through a process that emails your question to some Unknown Location! Rest assured, you never see the email address!

What is it with these chickenshit Email Companies that they don’t want you to know their email addresses or their street addresses? Yahoo does the same thing, and is quite proud of it. Why don’t they give us the addresss, THEN screw us over and fail to answer us? What they’ve got is a form of torture where they keep us thinking it’s Possible to get an answer, whereas it is NOT possible. Are they all commies that they would be so wary and secretive toward their own customers. Or—is it possible?—could they just be—I hesitate to speak it—some of that small elite, the Stupid Smart People?

Anyway, when you send your question, it takes a day or two to get an answer from a machine that answers nothing, that just claims it’s sterile fingers have now passed the question on to somebody (might be human, might not, they don’t say, they don’t HAVE to say) and then crows about how polite they think they’ve been about it all. They sent no such message to reassure me about my second complaint and inquiry, but why not? Maybe because “beta” is brain-damaged? Blithering commie idiots! Stupid Smart People!

Perhaps as Saltydog said a day or two ago when he welcomed the arrival of Gmail, this is a “beta” version and it'll all be improved later. He’s very relaxed and likes Gmail already because he uses that kind of default font, anyway, he said. He likes it plain, I guess. But as a regular Joe who's just a practiced user of email systems—I like to use those bells and whistles, the colors and fonts and so forth when they’re present. I have no comprehension of why anybody with all the money and energy and intelligence of Google would offer this bare bones version and claim it’s an email system that’s GOING to be good, that’s GOING to be revolutionary. Oh, ANYTHING might be marvelous later, Captain Kangaroo, but at present it’s a windup toy. It’s a storage box.

I always thought a beta version was a program that was fully developed, but not fully tested. I never thought it’d be a program with some of the major useful features intentionally left out! Three cheers for the Stupid Smart People!

They could offer me 10 trillion gigabytes, but if the system is this incomplete, how long am I going to suck it up and suffer Gmail's inadequacy? Not long. I won't delete Gmail; I’m not that stupid. I just won't use it. I may use it as a storage bin, of course. But IT’S NOT WORTH ANYTHING AS AN ACTIVE EMAIL unless you just want plain vanilla. I don’t want plain. I certainly don’t want small print! I'd thought they'd do much better, even for starters. I thought Google was much smarter than this. But I guess I never considered this “beta” nonsense. I guess I really didn’t know they still did it that way. Google just didn’t warn me off enough, I guess. They never meant to appeal to people like me. I’m just a Rube, that’s clear. Not an aficionado of the computer world, not a hep cat of any kind. Excuse me all to hell for breathing up the air that a lame pig could have used!

You know, I can’t think of any other industry that huffs itself up so proudly and crows, “Here’s the crappy version first, see how you like it!”

As of Sunday night late, it’s been some hours since Gmail could be used at all. You can open it and look at the Inbox, that’s all. Now, THAT must be the Beta at work! Maybe THIS is the answer to my complaints and questions! Either it’s crashed or it’s dead—I wonder which?

Oh, and by the way, someday this blog is going to be really well written, entertaining, and beautiful and we’ll give away free beer and prizes, possibly silver and gold. I think you should just hang on by your teeth until it gets there. Keep reading and don’t complain. No, I don’t know WHEN it’ll get better, just do as I tell you! Trust Me. You have been hypnotized, and I am now one of the Stupid Smart People. I know what’s good for you. You are feeling drowsy…


His heart upon a platter,
He served it trim and neat.
In truth his heart was failing,
His heart’s hope frail and weak.

“You are so young,” one stranger asked,
“How can this possibly be?”
Another laughed and pointed
And asked him where it hurt.

In thunderstorms he snarled and fleetly rose
Above these questions of the flesh,
But in his dreams fat angels cried,
“The meat’s not fresh or sweet…”

By what excuse he came here
Those strangers might have asked,
But no one spoke or stirred again,
No one ever asked.

Current draft: 02/23/03

Let’s not get too cocky, but it’s pretty much a fact, that sorry old Coming Attraction is coming Tomorrow… “The 17 Best-Known Root Causes of Bad Driving“



For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone. -- W.H. Auden

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Go Away And Play

No blog today. I am working on the infamous, ever-late, long-awaited piece of crap essay that has something or other to do with Bad Drivers. Whether this means it'll be ready for Monday is anybody's guess. This is the weekend, what are you doing here now anyway? Go home! Go play! Go jump in a lake! There's no listing all the ways that people get their kicks, just go there and leave me alone!

I'm, uh, umm, what'd'you call it--thinking!

Friday, April 23, 2004

Who’s Consuming What & What’s Consuming Whom

When I was a kid, there were Blue Laws in my state. You couldn’t buy a broom, a pot, all sorts of things on a Sunday. The religionists had firm control and most stores couldn’t be open on Sunday. Retailers were bottom dog back then, though it’s hard to even imagine these days. It didn’t matter how badly you might need some practical item—it was not going to be generally available. I always thought that cleanliness was next to Godliness, but it wasn’t an arguable thing, they still wouldn’t let me buy that broom! I remember exactly how that grocery store aisle looked that day, even 30 years later. All the forbidden items had been gathered together and roped off with some sign taped on the rope that explained about the Blue Law. These items were unavailable until Monday.

Somewhere I suppose that church ladies and dried up preachers were glad every Sunday about this, that it was going to force you to be closer to God because you couldn’t have the fun of sweeping your floor on a Sunday afternoon. Oh, and if I recall right, you couldn’t buy ashtrays. You could still smoke, but you couldn’t buy a new ashtray. Maybe it wasn’t cleanliness that was next to Godliness, but Tobacco. They’ve always been a more powerful lobby than most anybody else in everybody’s legislature. The guys who made and sold brooms were evidently not big contributors to Texas politicians. (Things like that have often been produced by the capable handicapped or by prisoners in Texas, both groups under the firm control of state agencies, anyway.)

Eventually, I guess, the Malls caught on and there was an end to the Blue Laws. I don’t recall which came first, the chicken or the egg, but we all know what it’s like now. The Malls are king. You can buy anything any time. I tried Googling the Texas Blue Laws, but found very little about it on the Internet compared to most topics. I did find the following:

“Blue laws prohibited selling house wares such as pots, pans, and washing machines on Sunday until 1985, however Texas car dealerships continue to operate under blue law prohibitions. Many southern states still prohibit selling alcohol on Sunday. Many unusual features of American culture--such as the fact that one can buy groceries, office supplies, and house wares from a drug store--are the result of blue laws, as drug stores were allowed to remain open on Sunday to accommodate emergency medical needs.”

That date 1985 seems too recent to me as the date when the end of this nonsense took place. I would have thought that the change took place a decade earlier. Whatever the date, though, it seems exceedingly strange these days that anybody in America wasn’t 500% (like the football players say, as if there was such a thing) in favor of capitalism, of keeping the stores open. At one time, the Blue Laws must have had a lot of mighty Baptist muscle behind it, but it’s all over now. It’s like hearing about the days of Temperance, a purely historical thing, something ancient. Nowadays Texans just go awn and drank, Sunday or not, while our wives run down to the Mall.

(Joan of Arc Dreams Of Being Home Again)

Out on the way to Mayfair
We girls were weak but dared,
Deep in the mud of homestead
Soaked with the blood of lambs.

All on the way to waning,
We were wan and worn,
Soft and tired and tiring,
And too easily torn—
Yet from the haystacks the boys and I were born.

The way the wound was opened,
It gave me every clue,
It taught and preached and reasoned,
And made false dreams come true.
God reach for me and hold me from Despair.

Let all my armies mourn this circling,
Let all gone deep inside,
Let all rest late this morning,
And let regret subside—
God means that I will win, then die.


3rd draft: 01/04/04

Feebly Coming, Crawling Along, that sorry old Attraction (moving slower and sloower all the time!): oh, hell let’s just put the BAD DRIVING blog on Hold for now! Some day my prince will come…

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Whatever you are, be a good one.” -- Abraham Lincoln

Thursday, April 22, 2004

The Cave and the Maze

This is a small thing, and not something others haven’t thought of, I suppose. Still, I often wonder about who is Out There on your end. I wonder sometimes about who’s In Here on this end, for that matter.

I’ve spent a lifetime not knowing myself and seeing others not know me even more. Of others, I have always been perplexed as to what they were really thinking when they spoke or acted. I’ve wondered if they even know.

Now, added to this is this blog-world and email cyberspace version of Plato’s allegory of the cave. In that, prisoners are restrained so that they can only see the shadows of things that are behind them cast on the wall in front of them and they thus end up mistaking that Appearance of things for reality. The shadows are what’s real. People I talk to on the Internet are like that, as I am to them. One finds the things in common—if that’s not an illusion itself—and bases a sort of a relationship, kinship, or appreciation on that. Sometimes we become someone’s biggest fan in a safe sort of way.

We may be completely mistaken about someone on the Web or only partly. We are each constructing an image of one another from pieces of the puzzle. Of course, what we all would like would be to get a peek at the photo on top of the puzzle box.

I wonder if Plato’s imaginary prisoners would have made quick work of their “reality” dilemma if they hadn’t been chained and could have just used a small mirror for a minute to look behind them. Might that have made everything clear? Or would they have thought the mirror was like a window of some sort, showing a “vision” coming to them from out there in the void? Would it have come too late? Would it have looked to them like the mirrored image was the illusion, not the shadows?

Added to my stingy little Intelligent Links list today is another Window, one chosen as usual by my own purely egocentric criteria. In science labs, they may judge rats intelligent based on which ones have excelled at running the maze quickly. I judge them intelligent when they are able to escape the maze. Natalie has shown no rat-like behavior yet, but I see constant signs of her energetic and cheerful struggles to escape some of the mazes and caves. I brush aside for the moment the fact that she’s a she and pronounce her: One of the Good Guys.

My egotism knows no bounds, I know, making such pronouncements. I think I’m smart because I figured out the Cave thing early in life, but I’m still stuck in the maze and ought not to be so arrogant. I’m not, really; I just look, sound, and act arrogant! It’s a neat trick, but I don’t recommend that anyone try it.


After the heartbreak

Years went by,

I could not find my love

But watched instead

The hollow sham and promenade

Lead on, lead on…


Current draft: 02/08/03


I> Feebly Coming, Crawling Along, that sorry old Attraction (moving slower and sloower all the time!): oh, hell let’s just put the BAD DRIVING blog on Hold for now! Some day my prince will come…

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Lovers can find nothing to say to each other that has not been said and unsaid a thousand times over. Kisses were invented to translate such nothings into wounds." -- Lawrence Durrell, in his book, Mountolive

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Remote Control Freak

I'd seen an RCA remote control a while back that was more palm-sized than I'd seen before. In particular it was smaller than the last one of that brand I'd bought and I thought about it a day or so and then went back for it. I was primed for it by then.

I didn't get it, though, because I'd been mistaken about the price. The Dollar General Store had it priced as high as anybody else in town had theirs. Getting irritated, even if only at myself, I didn't buy it. Instead I went down the road and bought one of the usual RCA remotes at Wal-Mart. Now this one was exactly the same as the one I bought not too long ago for another TV in the house. It was bound to be good, I thought.

As it turned out, it wouldn't program the code number for this Signature brand (Ward's) TV. I read the instructions repeatedly, tried all the options. Direct entry, manual entry, automatic entry (where you sit there like a robot and press the button 200 times and hope to see a certain pattern of blink-blink-blank-blink. None of this idiocy worked. I tried the old universal remote on the TV that I needed to control, but it wouldn't work, either. At the same time, the new remote WOULD operate the other TV's in the house!

I had to think about this. So the new one wasn't "broken", but also was of no damn use to me. One and one and one is... I just gave up on it and took it back to Wal-Mart for a refund. I told them what it was not doing, though I left out the confusing part about how it was working on Any Other TV than the one I'd bought it for. I didn't think they needed to know that and I certainly don't need an extra remote control that doesn't do any controlling. Now I have an old RCA remote that still operates it, but is utterly unreliable. It figures.

You know, I just Hate shopping. I'm sorry, I do. I'd rather be shot than have to accompany any serious shopper to the Mall. As for my own purchases, I am ususally rocket-boosted. I don't know if there are men who are good at shopping or who like it, but I'm certainly not one of them. If I can make up my mind at all--I frequently can't and thus leave with nothing--it turns out like this. A disaster. And even a bigger waste of time than it was a disaster.

How the women in my family can enjoy shopping at all, much less So Much, I cannot fathom. If everyone was like me, the entire American economy would crash to the ground. The capitalist system would fail. Well, it had to end sometime.


Washed out, washed down, torn yet
By the smile and the frown,

Let go, let be, let
Be sail-in-the-attic
And formless-on-either-side,

Try Give, try Take,
Try time-by-the-tide

Let Hope be the style
With none-that-matter-yet,

And cry, cry out, cry hard
For all the times-we-tried.


Current draft: 04/20/04

Feebly Coming, Crawling Along, that sorry old Attraction (moving slower and sloower all the time!): oh, hell let's just put the BAD DRIVING blog on Hold for now! Some day my prince will come…
THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "I often quote myself, it adds spice to my conversation." -- George Bernard Shaw

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Actually I'd Like To Shove An Actually Up Their Nose

Any time you hear someone using the word “actually” more than once, watch out. Listen carefully. Now there are some people who are simply bad speakers, non-professionals who don’t realize they’re repeating the word every 4 or 5 words and are therefore, at the least, very nerve-wracking to listen to. Aside from these people, though, I’ve decided that in Public Life, it’s a word whose misuse has a slightly different cast than, say, the word “just”, which also get a good deal of overuse. If you’ll pay attention, you’ll see that the professionals think that “actually” Means Something. Something magical.

The word “actually” is only a strong indicator of laziness on the part of amateurs, but it is a barometer of prejudice and prevarication on the part of professionals. The TV news commentator or reporter who announces in a story about the President that He is “actually going to speak to us a little later today” draws my attention. The “actually” adds nothing to the content of the sentence--the facts have already been conveyed. Neither does it “actually” add anything to the content of the sentence. (I’m getting dizzy now.)

A word like that, I conclude, is Actually somewhat worshipful, steeped in the notion that the President isn’t just an important mortal, but that he is so far above us that it may actually be as if someone were mounting the Mount again to speak down to us sinners. If they say "actually", it's an unquestionably more magical thing.

I believe I could listen to the President—any President—speak to us this afternoon. If he’s going to “actually” speak to us, though, I feel like I should go out to the garage and get my knees pads out for some serious worship, not to mention my canister-style respirator and an umbrella in case the BS hits the fan or gets way too thick. I mean, Actually, folks--that’s how I feel.

When politicians or other know-nothings in public life use and overuse the word, I’m always suspicious. Why are they so unduly emphasizing that something “actually” happened or is about to happen? Isn’t it enough that things happen, whether ordinary or extraordinary? Do they have to “actually” happen in order to be real? Can’t they just happen and be real? Is everything Hyper? These days we are in a world of various “Ultimate Sports” and ultimate everything else, but I wish they’d just DO those ultimate things, fall off the log, crush their skulls, kill themselves. Whatever. That’s called “thinning the herd”. Improving the species. Especially if they’d take one politician with them under one arm and one television reporter with them under the other. They don’t have to hang around and Ultimatize the language until the language is as indeterminate as their brains, just a muddled puddle of Actually’s melting together in a big pot of Hyper-gunk.

Sometimes on TV you’ll hear a talking head or politician say “actually” 7 or 8 times in a single sound bite, and you know how short those things are these days. I can’t believe that people who pretty much talk for a living don’t listen any more closely to how they speak. You and I might get nervous on TV and begin to gibber, but that's why They get the big money! I just wish some of them could restrain themselves. All I ask, is that if they have to say “actually”, they should say it ONCE and be done with it. It is no longer a word that means very much, anyway. It’s like saying, “umm” all the time. In fact, they should stick with “umm” if they don’t know what the hell they’re trying to say or if they need to pause, pause, pause. They’d make themselves a lot clearer. I don’t want to know Everything they have to Say; I only want to know the everything they have to Tell, and that doesn’t take as long as how long they can talk!

Friend Nobius is right; I watch way too much television. But I'm a news junkie and the TV was made to create and feed junkies of all kinds. I won't worry about the other kind just now; I'm way too tired. Swatting at flies with a baseball bat is exhausting work.

©2004 Ronald C. Southern

I woke up this morning
And looked in the pit—
It was a viper pit
And what looked back was me,
My face reflected in a dirty puddle.
This was just before the viper struck at me
from the right side and I died.

Then I woke again in a sweat and wondered
If I’d have to dream that dream again and again…


Feebly Coming, Crawling Along, that sorry old Attraction (moving slower and sloower all the time!): oh, hell let’s just put the BAD DRIVING blog on Hold for now! Some day my prince will come…

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.” -- George Bernard Shaw (1856 - 1950)

Monday, April 19, 2004

It's Not Easy Being Paranoid

A few weeks ago I laughingly admitted I’d been worrying myself about the advertisements up above, how they were obviously spying on me because they were advertising things related to the topics of my blogs. An analytical computer of some kind was at work, I determined, and probably was not related in any manner to the CIA or PTA. Nonetheless all this sort of experience gets into your system and fouls up your reasoning. If a pin drops when you don’t expect it, you jerk your head around and give the world an evil look.

For a while recently, there were no ads in my blog at all and I began to wonder about that. But of course the big empty frame was still up there, reminding me that this wasn’t a normal thing. I didn’t know whether to be glad or to worry. It wasn’t really Gone. I’m the sort who worries that things are probably Wrong if they begin to stray very far from the norm. I don’t like the norm to change unless I’ve been notified. I guess that constitutes being a control freak.

I don’t like to have ads, of course, yet I had begun to expect them to be there. When they disappear, I can’t just assume that it’s a software failure out there in Blogspot Cyberspace. It’s in my nature to wonder if something’s going on. Is there some conscious entity out there working against me? There might be a plan afoot to Bump Me Off! Off of Blogger, I mean. It’s no problem for me to start thinking, Yeah, first they turn off my ads, then when I’m not looking, Pow! they delete my blog. Mpfft, mpfft! I’ve been silenced! It’s a conspiracy!

But, then, nothing else ever happened. After a while, the ads reappeared. I guess they’re up there now. If they aren’t, I hope I’ve learned not to panic (too much). After a while, I noticed that this sometimes happens to other blogs that I read. It’s weird, but it’s something Normal, this Abnormality.

So it appears now. But if I see just one more quirk or deviation, I’ll be right back to Paranoia. I’ll be anxiously wondering, not if Big Brother is going to take my T-Bird away and send me to Sing Sing prison, but if Blogger is going to rescind my publishing rights and stifle me! I don’t want to be cut off from my affectionate fans (all 6 or 7 of them). I’d probably never manage to round them up again.

I don’t know about you, but I find that it takes real talent, dedication, and staying power to stay this paranoid. Not everyone appreciates this fact. Sometimes, I’m not sure if I do, either.


Assailed by east, assailed by west,
the world can be no better than it can.
Take what is worst, take what is best,
the heart that seeks the flame is seared by fire.

Dear Susannah, early on your wake and
dread the image glass gives back -
but that is nothing, nothing; we all are
more than image, we are what gives back.

Sad Susannah, why do you frown? Always there
is more than what you know. You look and
see your hips grown much too round; I look
and see you standing there; just you, no more.

Moving south or moving north, this
world can be no better than it can.
Turned around or back again, man
lives in Christ as Christ in man.

Turn to take the wound or turn and try to mend,
what heaven sends against us leaves nothing to defend.
Take what is worst, take what is best,
the heart that quells the flame is saved by fire.

Christ in ashes, Christ in fall - you are still
standing, dear, though pressed against the wall.
Christ in flashes, Christ in man,
the world we bear in pain can be no better than it can.


4th draft: 04/18/04

Feebly, Feebly, still Coming Attraction (slower and sloower all the time!): WHY IT’S OKAY FOR BAD DRIVERS TO KILL US ALL

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Men are wise in proportion, not to their experience, but to their capacity for experience.” -- James Boswell (Life of Samuel Johnson, 1791)

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Gone Fishing

How do you like my table for the blog title? I try not to go decoration-crazy, but it’s hard to stop tweaking and adjusting. One should try not to get too grandiose, but one is seldom a good judge of oneself.

I’m taking the day off. On vacation. Pretending it’s Sunday. (Oh, it is?) Cloud-gazing. Daydreaming. Woolgathering. Squashing a few of the remaining caterpillars. They are mostly gone now, but not quite.

The sneaky baby cardinals in the front yard flew off before I ever got to see them very well. I had no idea they had developed enough to fly away, but they were squashed down in the nest like a mushy little carpet of feathers all the times that I caught a glimpse of them, so I can claim to be no judge. I HOPE they flew away; otherwise, the four of them made a tasty morsel for some predator. But I would have liked to see them try their wings.

Maybe that’s what I’ll do; I’ll go outside and see if I can spot some cardinals who look like they’re new to the business of being cardinals.

Saturday, April 17, 2004


In A Minute You Can Read The Poem

My talky blogs and diatribes can be too long, I realize that. It’s clear that a poem can be too long, just ask anyone. Soon to follow here is one of my poems that’s too long! So you’ve had your fair warning. Go around the block and smoke a few cigarettes—okay, a Pack of cigarettes. In fact, there’s probably no point in you coming back until this time tomorrow.

I used to smoke three packs a day and I’m not dead. Still, I don’t think one has anything to do with the other. My state of health was TERRIBLE then, but I don’t mind that I don’t feel sick from it now. I certainly wouldn’t want to brag about my bad habits or having apparently escaped my just deserts. Things may yet develop. And there were other reasons to quit. I was stubborn for a long while, but things change. I mean, when the whole world decides that blue is poison, you eventually stop wearing blue even if it’s not killing you yet. In my case in this changing world, my smoking didn’t make me very popular toward the end. I got to where I had no place to go. My friends would try to make allowances for me, but I smoked TOO MUCH. You couldn’t just let me smoke one in a side room or out on the porch and then go on with life as you knew it in your house. I already needed another one! IF I had felt good, I would have still felt bad about it. I was a pariah, a bane on their existence, a likeable but unwelcome stinkpot.

But this is a terrible topic to drift onto. Those who have never smoked are unlikely to know just how much they’re asking of smokers. Those who’ve smoked for a long time and haven’t stopped yet can’t even imagine what a total relief it is not to be burdened with the compulsion, the harm, and the ostracism any more. Nobody’s life or habits will be changed by reading this, I’m sure, so why bother to try and trap a few souls into reading it?

How the hell did I get off on this topic? Perhaps because a beautiful and intelligent woman I met on the Web told me that she still smokes, and I thought that was so peculiar. I tend to think of smokers as being my age and older, stubborn old farts. Her smoking can’t hurt me, one would assume. She’s full of life, though, and not as old as I am, and I hope she keeps it that way. Full of life, I mean, not the “as old as I am” part. She might get as old as I am or she might not. I’m not preaching at her, I’ve already done that, I gave her my 5 minute spiel. I knew she knew it all. All that, I mean.

So I’m just talking out loud here and thinking how I never would listen to anyone, not at all, not for years, not until I coughed and hacked and felt incredibly bad morning after morning. How stupid we intelligent people are. It’s an evil that was handed down by many generations and many countries and it’s weird to think how many of them were so wrong about its pleasures and its good uses. Hell, many if not most societies, including the religious and moral elements, were just as addle-pated and committed and wrong about Slavery. As a species, we embrace stupid things with all our heart! Well, I’ve delayed it as long as I could; here comes the Long poem now! 3, 2, 1…


In time where dreams are spun,
In space where life is hung,
In good or bad taste,
All by salty tears are stung.

I plead the cause of no one,
Stained or pained or stunned,
But place the case before you like a brief
Or like dried leaves laid up in lavender and grief.

Touch me where I live, you see,
I will pin you to the wall.
I tried to touch you in my dark revolving dreams last night,
But your dream image shrieked and could not sleep.

In darkness where our bodies dared
I found a place to hide
And when you woke and found me there,
I attempted to confide

That I had come there
Like a child,
Someone too far from love
To say how many times he'd had to cry...

I was beating at your door last night like a
Man whose nightmares had driven him too far,
Storming your defenses like some despair-impaired old
Paladin whose weary soul long past had lost the war.

Where dark and darker dreams preside I heard
The stirrings of your golden gown against your flesh
And sensed your scent and breathed your breath
As you tried to turn the vicious volume down.

Your long blonde hair shone brightly
As I bent to kiss your face,
But the darkness bred in me took my sight away—
You were gone again without a trace!

When I thought I had seen the victims of the vision,
Clearly and with such precise survey,
I filled in the prescriptions
And put our names to all the forms.

Now I give myself
The status of a legal clerk
And then proceed to process everything
As if it were a thing to eat.

Your papers are in order
And so I give you leave to stay.
Attend now, pray, to what
I swear at you is true:

Although the documents which I possess
Are random proofs of how I wish the world to be—
Mere clues or dregs, rat’s droppings, iridescent traces—
Some part of me keeps insisting it knows the truth of everything.

So much it seems a point of view
Reflects the things we dream.
It seems so clear the life of everyone
Is flowing in a stream.

Yet I obsess how hard it is
To touch the truth or trust the sense of anything
And can't suppress surprise how life exchanges roles
With phantoms, ghosts, and lies.

I play the game like anyone, perhaps just not as well.
I go and seek and hide,
Linked by traces, visions, scents, and stains
To all those stinging tears of pride.


3rd draft: 04/13/04

Coming Attraction (Oh, lord why did I ever mention this and promise I’d finish it?!): GOOD REASONS FOR BAD DRIVERS

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "An event is such a little piece of time-and-space you can mail it through the slotted eye of a cat." -- Diane Ackerman, From "Mystic Communion of Clocks"

Friday, April 16, 2004


I’ve had some nice fat careful entries the past couple of days, so I wouldn’t feel guilty if I coasted a little today. This one may be a little sloppy, not rewritten as much. Maybe not even spell-checked to the Nth degree.

Besides, I perpetually wonder if I know what I’m doing. Though there are many kinds of bloggers, I always seem to fail to fit any of the general categories that I recognize. I mean, I might be doing this daily, yet it’s not exactly a journal of anything I do EACH day and not often a record of anything I’ve done THIS day. I have at least not yet tried to write a literary blog or a political blog. From the latter I am dissuaded because of the number of them I’ve seen. They are legion. There are all kinds, and some of them are good. There is no gap that I want to fill; I don’t feel like my political thoughts are not being expressed. The fact that I don’t recommend any of the political blogs doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t, if push came to shove, but politics is already about push and shove enough without me adding to it.

I think it’s a great shame and misery that the country is split so nearly down the middle, as much so now as when the previous presidential election was held. Some deny that Bush ought to even BE president and have heaps of explanation, some of it good, some of it hateful, to justify their view. But I think, without trying to be very political just now, it’s just that we’re split too much down the middle. Why it’s split, I don’t think I have any clue. I think we may need a better solution to it than the two-party system, though.

Added to this is the new Hatefulness, as much too popular among leaders as vulgarity and uncouthness has become among all those states of celebrityhood—you know, Hollywood and Follywood and Golly-willy-wood-you-lookit-that! Talk radio is Squawk Radio, whether it’s from the left or the right. The TV talk shows were invented to entertain and sell soap, though I find that they put sheep to sleep. I’ve been alive too long to be suckered by all the straw men these nitwits (from the Extreme left, right, and Shangri-La) keep setting up so that they can knock them down. Afterwards, they preen and expect to be accounted political geniuses, each with the same exact number of commercials and the same exact sponsors per show.

I’m pretty much a big fat liberal, but it’s not the republicans or the conservatives that I hate so much as that there just isn’t enough difference between them and the democrats.

The republicans talk loudly and aggressively, but they never actually save the republic. They just try to improve the environment for business. And the democrats, not even that Prince Charming and darling of the blithe, Bill Clinton, managed to pass any legislation to bring universal health insurance or daycare to all the children. They all blame one another for their failures. I blame them both. No, I’m not Joan of Arc, but I blame them both. And when God blames them both, he is no doubt including me in the nest of thieves and bozos.

Many schools are falling apart, built by contractors and executives who cut costs with substandard materials and who dodged bullets and eluded honest paperwork and ultimately got away with it because neither republicans nor democrats wanted to be too “tough on business”. I don’t even have any children and yet I perceive an enormous flaw. Don’t listen to what anyone Says, just watch what they Do, and we’ll see that this is a country that loves its full pockets and its fat bellies, its big gulping servings of French fries and its priced-like-gold stupid Starbuck coffees far more than it does its children. A society that doesn’t care for its children doesn’t care for anything.

I don’t think I care any more what anybody says about anything, all of them are lying, wheedling, making excuses, and getting just as goddamn pig-rich as they can while the getting is good. Children are subjected to the same cost/benefit analysis in corporation and government offices that any other product or service goes through. Men in charge don’t believe for a minute that children are invaluable. Nothing is worth more than gold. A patriarch is a terrible creature who is only looking at the statistics and not the real damages, not the people. Politicians are patriarchs who only deal with their own children and who otherwise just do favors for road and building contractors, for construction and building supply companies, and for every shiftless skunk who ever skimmed a little off the budget for a school building or public museum or post office building. Dope dealers get the headlines in this country as evildoers, but they’re only a small percentage of the rich people in America who steal from children’s milk funds and children’s college funds and who grinningly evade supporting the infrastructure.

Okay, so I’m raving. I wonder if this is proof that the two-party system just can’t work any more? If so, we the people are not accepting that fact yet. The leaders of both parties are so greedy and so self-absorbed that they’ll fight in tandem ANYBODY who might hint at a third party candidate.

Third party guys, why, they’re spoilers! They ain’t dang Americans. They’ll ruin things.

Well, they might ruin your party, it’s true, Mr. Hogs at the public trough. I don’t think I care if that clever old irritant Ralph Nader ruins the fun of such pigs or influences the vote Either Way. That’s what he’s supposed to do. That’s how democracy is supposed to work. If Bush gets elected again, so what? Half the country already doesn’t accept it that he’s legitimate now. All he can do is Ruin The Country, and that’s been done a number of times before. Ask either party. What I want, dammit, is for republicans and democrats alike to stop unduly protecting rich corporations and to stop being opposed to Democracy. That’s what I want, and that makes me as big a fool as there is.

(Damn, I’ve done a political blog. I swore I wouldn’t do it, I promised I wouldn’t do it, I was sure I wouldn’t do it... Damn, grum, grumble, grumby, greeby, HELL! Now I’ve probably made somebody mad. Oh, gosh. But then again, the churl was probably already mad and crazy both if he or she’s that interested in politics!)

©2003 Ronald C. Southern

I feel a little Death now and then,
Though there may be other names for it.
I feel it passing by
Or settling slowly in--

Like crowds of softish insects blackish green and thin
That burrow beneath the skin
Or a mass of curling corrugated grubs so swollen they'll soon be
Ripped by sharp-beaked birds from these encrusted roots…


Coming Attraction (Some Day My Prince Will Come): GOOD REASONS FOR BAD DRIVERS

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Pain passes, but beauty remains." -- Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Semi-paralyzed by arthritis, he continued painting until his death at 78.

Thursday, April 15, 2004


[Beware of more foul language than usual.]

Yahoo has not screwed up anymore lately, has not put any good email in the Bulk folder for bad email, but it pretty much has me psychologically screwed up having to actually read each email subject line. I HATE that! Just looking at the subject lines reminds me of how deceptive, underhanded, and dishonest so many people in the commercial world are. No matter what they're selling, porn or insurance or cheap pharmaceuticals, web people are the worst kind of carnival barkers and chickenshit evil nitwits. It’s no surprise that they sell harmful goods to underage kids. At the least, the cyber-police should be given authority to gun them down immediately upon conviction. Not the kids, stupid.

I DON’T understand why Spam is a problem at all because I’m in favor of shooting them down NOW without the trial. Like in the old west, you just Shoot a Snake—you don’t tell him to have his lawyer call your lawyer!

Besides, who are these people? I know who the Spammers are, they’re the people who are always on the edges of society, predatory creatures, pariahs, crooks with bad skin eruptions, maybe even low-level mafia guys. But who are the damn ADVERTISERS? Name brand companies can’t afford to use Spam on us, can they? Surely we’d remember forever if Kodak or Ford or Kenmore or Duncan Donuts were to continuously crawl up and crap in our laps like that. I may not be their biggest customer, but surely none of them wants to guarantee No Further Sales Through All Eternity, do they?

What is the argument when you’re caught with your product ads inside a million Spam emails? Do you claim they hijacked your info, that Spammers spent their own money to purvey your particular line of fake pure virgin snow?

“Uh, those damn Spammers was trying to get me in trouble!” you whine.

“Okay,” says Law Enforcement. They believe every word you say. You have an honest face.

Do you sniff money changing hands? Can you say: Moral Corruption? Sure, you can.

Well, I’m not going to open even a single Spam email to find out who they are. I would just assume that anybody peddling their crap through Spam are indeed purveyors of crap, so why buy it at any price?

Snake Oil salesmen and hucksters have been selling poison for medicine and shit for peanut butter, not to mention dangerous or inoperable children’s toys, for a very long time now, and those guilty boys are not really hard to recognize. They just take Time away from our lives in having to deal with them. If there weren’t so many sleepy-headed Joes in the world who open that stuff in fits of idiocy, Spam would cease almost overnight. Probably, so would a good deal of email viruses. But, we can’t just go out and kill all the stupid people. Some of them are related to me. (No, I don’t mean cousin J.W.—he’s the smart one, I can talk about him out loud.)

I've about decided that ALL pushy young capitalists resemble pop-up crazy pornographers or snake oil salesmen at one level or another. None of them have much sense of decency, or sense of restraint, or any inclination to be fair. Ah, they talk mushy in church on Sunday, but they’re Selling 5 or 6 days a week. All they want is to be allowed to drive a Humvee through your front door and beat you with a baseball bat until you’re senseless enough to buy what they sell. That's all, it's little to ask, they feel. They just want to retire to their ten million dollar combination chicken farm and horse ranch before they turn 35 and get that money into offshore accounts before the Attorney General in your state can catch up with them. Now, what could possibly be wrong with that? Excuse me, but whether these thieves are the old rich, the nouveau riche, or the stinking rich, I hope they all die with their genitals in the jaws of a wolverine. Is that too much to ask?

Say Amen, Brother!

©2003 Ronald C. Southern

Nothing is
Going or coming
Very well
But I remember
Days gone by

And send
My love,
What little I gather,
All I can gather,
Not much, I know,

Just thoughts of days gone by
And not much more,
Just everything gone to hell
And not much more…
But there it is.


Coming Attraction, Sooner Or Damn Later: GOOD REASONS FOR BAD DRIVERS

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Pain passes, but beauty remains." -- Pierre Auguste Renoir (1841-1919) Semi-paralyzed by arthritis, he continued painting until his death at 78.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

California Dreaming

And Why I've Never Been Back

Years ago I hitchhiked to California from Austin and stayed with friends of friends along the way. In San Francisco, I stayed with a group of people, only one of whom I’d met before. Once I got there in the midst of Raoul’s hippie family, I realized our acquaintance had been very brief before that and I felt that he and his friends were a little more odd, a little more Out There, than I considered myself to be. I became somewhat uncomfortable staying with them. Raoul had a girlfriend who was very airy-fairy and full of new religion and she had taken up painting out of the blue, without any art schooling or experience. Because she was Born Again, she painted nothing but religious subjects. In any case, my karma, whether bad or just doing poorly, caught up with me while I was there with these born-again sweeties. That is to say, I fell off a borrowed bicycle going downhill while headed for Golden Gate Park not too far away. I never got there, then or later.

OOF! When I lifted my head from the concrete curb I’d just struck with it (after I hit it first with the bicycle tire), I had the presence of mind to feel a little guilty about bending up the bicycle. Then the blood began to drip down my forehead and I had a little more presence of mind; I stripped off my corduroy jacket before I ruined it. But that was about it for my clear thinking. How I managed to retain the jacket after that, I must owe to other parties. I remember a ride on the most uncomfortable and ill-conceived emergency vehicle I’ve ever heard of. It was from some medical clinic, clearly, but whether city-sponsored or a Free Clinic, I couldn’t tell you. I suspect the latter. What it most reminded me of was a large bread truck, though it had two hard straight narrow wooden benches that ran the length of the vehicle.

I guess it might have been a “paddy wagon” in some former California incarnation. I don’t suppose anybody worries about the comfort of prostitutes, drunks, gamblers, and such. It was hard for me to see where it had ever been designed or the least bit altered to transport injured persons. I had a bandage to hold against my head to stop the bleeding and I was beginning to become horribly aware of pulled muscles, aches I’d never imagined, all across my shoulders and down my back. I never knew I had those places in my back, much less known them to hurt so. I tried to find a comfortable position, but there was none. You couldn’t sit on the benches or recline on them. You couldn’t stand up. I tried the floorboard, but that was no better—it was only closer to the bumps that were not being mitigated much by worn-out springs and shock absorbers.

The van went Way Up and Way Down and took more right and left turns than I could imagine existed in the whole city, and I swayed and almost fell over at every one of them. Remember Robert Mitchum and Marilyn Monroe struggling not to be pitched off the raft in “The River of No Return”? They had done a better job than I did! Finally, we got to the clinic. I vaguely remember being helped out of the van and feeling as if I was being rescued from Hell. I was back on Earth again. Someone at the clinic sewed my head up. I can’t say I felt better, but it was the end of the bleeding. They gave me some instructions about getting the stitches taken out again later and booted me out the door. Meanwhile Raoul had somehow caught up with me and was there to guide me down the street to his car and drive me back. I was suddenly very fond of him, for I didn’t know where in San Francisco I was and my head wasn’t very clear.

I laid down that night to what I thought would be a glorious relief of mindless unconsciousness, but that’s when I found out just which injury was worst. My head was nothing. Nothing. My pulled muscles were everything. Everything agonizing and destructive of comfort. I was lucky to get 3 or 4 hours of sleep a night from then on for about 6 or 8 weeks. Gradually, I could recline a little longer before discomfort forced me upright. But those first weeks were incredible; what can a person even DO when you’re awake most of the day and you’re crippled up too? I could move, I could go, I could stand and sit up straight. But I couldn’t lie down for very long and I could NEVER get comfortable. My dream of California was turning into a nightmare; in fact, it was turning into crap.

Not many days passed before I realized that my money was dwindling. These were kind people I was with, but they were the wrong ones to be with in the state I was in. I needed to be among people I knew much better and in a town where I knew the ins and outs. I was going to have to go back home to Austin and I was going to have to hitchhike. I started out with Rick, a new friend I’d stayed with in Berkeley and we just didn’t have much luck or get very far. We split up after being stuck in Blythe, California for about half a day in the burning sun. As far as I could tell, it was just a dot on the map with a Denny’s restaurant and a bunch of gas stations. Maybe it’s different now. Cars passed through. No one stayed except to refuel or eat. No one was very blithe about anything. We split up and he got a ride right away. I was glad for him, but felt very lonesome out there. I caught a ride with a big rig after that and he drove me into a world of trouble and aggravation. But I’ll skip past that.

By the time I caught up with Rick in Austin, he’d been there a day and a half already. He’d gotten the good rides, and I’d obviously gotten the others. (I’ll tell you about the bad ones some day when there’s more time.) I didn’t particularly mind dragging in late; I was still in a sort of daze and thought anything less than being hurled against a concrete curb was a lesser evil and not of much consequence. My friends were glad to see me. My former roommates invited me back in. Life was good, as much as it could be. I walked the streets of a town where I wasn’t lost, where I wasn’t a stranger, and I breathed more easily, despite being stiff as a board and poor as a church mouse.

All these years later, I have two souvenirs of that stay in San Francisco. One is the scar on my head—it disappeared for years under my thick head of hair, but a receding hairline has begun bringing it back to me. Hello, scar… The other is the poem below, written about Raoul's born-again girlfriend who thought she could paint. I have revised it over the years. I’ve never considered it one of my best poems, but I’ve always considered it interesting. Every time I find it again, I still like it.


I watched a crazy Christian once
(a hippie girl in Haight)
complete a small oil painting
of her savior, Jesus Christ—

the kind of picture modern poets loathe,
filled with overt symbols,
all halo and bleeding heart!
Her art was primitive, her skill was small,

but I watched her build her picture,
layer on layer, stroke by patient stroke;
I saw how when she reached the point
where she could or should have stopped,

she kept right on amending,
adding careful strokes,
till the image she'd concocted
was thicker than opium smoke.

There'd been a stage—quite early—
when the painting looked just fine;
a sweet impressionistic
of her savior, Jesus Christ.

But now her Christ looked foolish,
labored, dull, cartoonish.
His eyes that once held light
were heavy now and dark.


4th version: 01/23/03

Coming Attraction, Sooner Or Later: WHY BAD DRIVERS ACT THAT WAY

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "The only thing to do with good advice is to pass it on. It is never of any use to oneself." -- Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, April 13, 2004


I had the bad sense to ask my erudite cousin who lives in the boondocks what he thought of my recent blog entries that consist of just a short poem. J.W. answered in terms so complimentary to my regular blogs that I won’t quote them here, for they would make my ears burn and my ego swell like a toad and make you suspect that I’ve made this cousin up out of whole cloth. My cousin was kind about the poems, too, but insisted that he thought my readers were being given short shrift when I didn’t have a diatribe or discourse of some kind as well. His guess was that “my public” (all 8 or 9 of them?) were by now addicted to my crazy prose, if anything. But, in short, his answer was that he wants both the prose and the poetry. Well, he always was a greedy eater when we were kids—he just took a few decades longer to get fat than I did.

I appreciate J.W.’s interest, of course, and I can eat as hearty off a compliment and as long as any other greedy fool on the planet, but I don’t think he gets the point. The poems are not meant as pearls before swine or as an extra joy to you lovers of prose out there. The poems are performing the undignified task of Filling Space! On the days when I cannot think straight or on the days when I just Can’t Finish the next blog entry yet (like today), I have little choice—it’s either nothing or that poem. Nature abhors a vacuum, and I hate any blank computer screen that could be filled with my gibberish if only I weren’t so lazy.

Those of you who’ve read this far and who ever feel energetic enough to email or send comments to me, do so now. Tell me if the poems stink or at least if you want them to continue. Tell me if you want one or the other or both. Tell me if you’d like to kiss me sweetly in a dark alley and if you’re even moderately cute we’ll make some kind of arrangements. I’ll wear a paper bag, if need be.

Wait, I’m getting off the point—just tell me what you think about the short poems and if you think I should include horoscopes and crossword puzzles.

“We pander to please,” that’s the new motto around here.

Other mottos:

“We grind up cousins and anybody else in our path as fodder for the Blog.”

“The Blog must go on.”

Upcoming Feature (tomorrow, the next day, whenever): BAD DRIVERS


Oh love,
Thwarted love,
Will he never cease to cry,
Or will the pulse that drives him drive him mad?
Will what draws and beckons bring him down?

Oh let the heart not waver,
But plunge him in complete—
Full-force, full-felt, replete—
Ignore the voice of reason and every strand of doubt,
Let not the flame burn out!


Current draft: 02/08/03

"Tell me, tell me, tell me the answer,
You may be a lover, but you ain’t no Dancer… The Beatles

Monday, April 12, 2004

Short Poem's Delight


When you look through the eyes of love,
Your head will follow heart,
Your heart will be your head.

When you look through the eyes of love,
Your love is all you’ll see;
Your heart will be all heart
And your head screwed on quite wrong.


THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "When two people are under the influence of the most violent, most insane, most delusive, and most transient of passions, they are required to swear that they will remain in that excited, abnormal, and exhausting condition continuously until death do them part." -- George Bernard Shaw

Sunday, April 11, 2004

Forest Tent Caterpillars Invade The South

Just in passing, let me mention that the goddamn annual forest tent caterpillar invasion has taken place. They are at large in my neighborhood NOW. They chew and nibble, but largely don’t destroy that much. The problem is, there’s millions of them and they fall out of the trees onto your shoulders, your hat, your hair, the back of your neck, down your shirt—it’s a complete horror. Unless you want to be hosed off before going in the house, you’ll find a few on you even hours later when you’ve forgotten all about them. They won’t hurt you whatsoever, but it’s creepy to have them turn up on you long after you’d ceased to think about them. They’re about as attractive as they’re going to get, too, for though they have a couple of nice rows of blue spots along their sides and a row of whitish footprint shapes on their backs that give them some semblance of beauty, they grow into fairly ordinary plain brown moths.

I’m not going to spray them, though I know a good deal about pesticides. There were years that I did spray them, but it only made a marginal difference. And, since eventually their season will pass, I don’t like the idea of My birds eating those poisoned worms. The birds make no impact that I can see on the large population, but I do sometimes see them eat the dreadful little wigglies. I wish I could think that the birds appreciate my concern for them, but they don’t appreciate or think about anything; that’s why we call stupid people bird-brained. Even when I was a kid, I knew how to insult my older sister—I called her birdbrain!

I know it could all be worse; they could bore into my $4 hats and eat them. They could enter my ear canal to slitherize and smatterize my brain. Instead they just fall like rain drops all day and make gooey spots on the sidewalks and patio where humans cannot help but tread on them. It would be too much work to walk around them even if I wanted to, and I’ve lost that sense of kindness. Every year before these guys, I’m always thinking that the powdery pine tree pollen that coats all the cars with yellow is something awful, but then the yellow lessens and we get this. Life is put into perspective. Yellow is Mellow, I’m thinking now--bring it back! Bug splatter and creepy crawlies in my beard and on my eyeglasses, that’s what’s the matter now!

I’ve decided I’m not going outside anymore, not even for the mail, not until this invasion is over. If the phone doesn’t fail me, I’ll order $5 pizzas and drink lots of water till the world is changed for the better. Call me when it’s over, I’ve got plenty of duct tape and I’m sealing the doors.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "The best way to know life is to love many things." -- Vincent Van Gogh

Saturday, April 10, 2004

Another Short Poem Tipples and Topples


If you don't keep a tight-enough sphincter,
You might get it in the end
Or your teeth might fall out or your tool collapse
Or your testicles go up inside of you and refuse to come out
Or everything you think and everything you are
Might daily be published in a brainless Blog with your name attached
Or nude photos of you be televised prime-time to everyone you hate.


Current draft: 04/08/04

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "I saw that pain itself was the only food of memory, for pleasure ends in itself." -- Lawrence Durrell (Justine)

Friday, April 09, 2004

My Favorite Monster, Shauna

My sister’s granddaughter, Shauna, is seven this year and in the first grade. She’s the only child on my side of the family at present and she’s about as spoiled as adults can make any child and not be Rotten. She is a little too obsessed with toys and thinks everything she sees is hers or ought to be, but she’s still pretty pleasant to play with when she doesn’t just tell you, “Leave me alone, I’m busy!” Okay. Well, maybe my family doesn’t really know what the words mean, “spoiled rotten”! Still, sometimes she insists that I get out the big cardboard box that I cut doors and windows in a couple of years ago so that she can play in the “cardboard house”. It always astonishes me that the kid with all the million-dollar toys can still have fun in a large beat-up shipping carton.

Shauna came along with me to the library the other day and for once I was thinking how glad I was that our local library is rather lax about letting kids (and adults, too!) make noise. Our library doesn’t like to be the cop. Admittedly, I find the adult noise worse because kids have many good excuses, such as that their brains are not fully developed yet. The adults will never get any better, I don’t imagine, unless someone was to SLAP the crap out of them and tell them to quit it! I can pretty much assure you that that event will NOT transpire at my civilized library.

As we got to the library parking lot, Shauna was in the back seat talking to two of her stuffed dogs that she’d brought with her. I’ve seen her bring along a suitcase with 12 puppies in it just for an afternoon’s visit at my house, so I felt lucky that we only had to keep track of two. She was busy telling the puppies that we were going into the library now and they’d have to be quiet.

“No barking,” she told them. “And no whining!”

Well, they didn’t make any noise and she didn’t either. She talked so quietly that I almost wished she would speak up. I know she’s been to the library with other members of my family, but I hadn’t been aware she was so well trained about it! At every turn she made sure I knew which kid’s corner she was going to be playing in and what the plan was. When I told her I was going into a small room “over there” where the music CD’s were kept, she came with me and made sure she knew where the room was. Then she went back to her play area. She was so good and so cautious that I felt guilty about having deserted her and hurriedly made my two jazz CD choices and went back to the middle part of the library where I could more nearly keep watch over her. When another little girl her age wanted to show her the small kitchen area (a thing that seemed to delight them both, though I didn’t know why), she made sure I knew where she was going before she went.

It was very strange. At home I’m used to her running out of sight without a word or a wave and having to chase thereafter. If the two little girls whose grandparents live next door are visiting, the only reason that the three of them don’t disappear into thin air is that they are making too much noise and can be tracked by their sound alone. Fun at that age is Loud.

But, anyway, we had a good time at the library, and she decided at the last minute that I should check out a videotape for her about wildlife puppy dogs (wolves, coyotes, etc.). She explained at length to the librarian that her card was at her house and she’d have brought it with her if she’d known we were coming to the library. Later in the house (my house, not her house where the famous library card was located), after being such a well-behaved child at the library, she pretty much got back to normal. She watched that tape—at least, sat in its presence--while opening four or 5 new toys and playing with nearly all of them at the same time and she got a little crazy. Revved up. I got tired just watching her do what she was doing, jumping from one to the other and back again. When her parents came to get her, I was a little glad for them to get her and there was enough of her “stuff” to have filled a wheelbarrow and it all had to be carried to their car. Then there remained just enough stuff on the floors to fill HALF a wheelbarrow and it had to be picked up before the floor could be safely navigated by anyone over 12.

I can’t help but think about this--that Shauna will soon have a little brother to help her strew the mess, and then how safe will it be for us clumsy adults to navigate the floors?

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: “Never have children, only grandchildren.” -- Gore Vidal

Thursday, April 08, 2004


In 1966 Kay Sweetly shyly unbuttoned her blouse. Her dark pageboy hair hung down with a slight tilt toward me. Her very pale breasts jiggled slightly, and had my full attention. The teenage girl was very cute like that—a train passing by two inches away couldn’t have broken the concentration of the young man I was then or of this old one trying to recall it now. I sat on the edge of the bed and lay on my side, one elbow on the bed, and vigorously stroked my exposed member—well, exposed under the sheet, I mean, but the action was quite apparent to her.

I looked at her and sighed and thought how beautiful she was, an angel with a clean white bandage on her side from her recent operation. She’d explained that to me, but it’d gone over my head, or through one ear and out the other. Oh, hell, I probably knew exactly what it was then, but now I’m lucky to even remember her name. The only thing worse than being that stupid Young man is being this stupid Old one, you know. But, anyway, that charming high school girl was so deliciously young—though old enough, since I was young! She was just pristine, as beautiful as a painting. Not a beauty contest winner—but someone real, who seemed uncannily rendered, as if she was a painting by some great Master whose name I could not recall.

How could she look so good? Oh, well. The term Attraction had a lot to do with it, I’m sure. I was under the influence of pheromones and passion. She was not my girlfriend, just a happy happenstance, a one-day happening—she happened to be there for me, I mean, and she happened to be lovely. I could hardly stand it, but I had to. I had ached for her, and here she was. We weren’t doing much, but it was way more than nothing.

“Are you really going to come?” she asked me in a whisper, patting me on the leg. In general, no one but my steady girlfriend had ever spoken that candidly to me. This was a girl and she was friendly, and she was a breath of fresh air, but…

I nodded and grunted in a friendly but distracted way, then drew this dark-haired gypsy to me for a very prolonged kiss. I thought that would distract her—I didn’t really want her to just watch. As soon as I’d finished, she covered herself up and so did I. Her beautiful self, my wretched self. She kissed me all over—my face and neck, I mean—then asked me very sweetly to take her home. She was such a nice friendly girl, but she didn’t act like she wanted to do it again. She was rather whimsical about it all, I’d guess you’d say. (In 1966, there weren’t many whimsical young women.) And I had a very nice girlfriend from whom I was estranged only long enough that couple of weeks to have these delicious kisses I’m telling you about and that vivifying erection you may wish I hadn’t mentioned. I never really saw Kay again, except at a distance, of course, in or around the school. But I always liked her and always regretted not knowing her better.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: "Truly there was no blame here; the real culprit was my love which had invented an image on which to feed." -- Lawrence Durrell (The Alexandria Quartet)

Wednesday, April 07, 2004



I was always crazy, I guess,
And haven't changed a bit
Except to get worse,
Like some angry skunk-in-the-dumpster scent
That won't go away or change,
And never had what I deserved
Except when I had you…


2nd draft: 11/23/03
©2003 Ronald C. Southern

In Desperate Need Of Blog Subjects For Tomorrow And Tomorrow And Tomorrow

I go along and things are fine, more or less. Maybe I’m just a thoughtless slug, but that’s okay. Things are fine, I say. Then, with some trepidation, I put my photo on my blog. Maybe people need every sense of connection they can get, I’m thinking. Nothing bad happens. Nobody makes fun. (Well, they could!) I’m safe.

Then my oldest and dearest friend in the world writes and advises me that the photo is beautiful, but that I should get new glasses, that I’m going to scare somebody in these old ones!


Now listen, I simply cannot tell you what respect and love I have for this middle-aged woman that I’ve known for more than 35 years. There may be better people in the world, but I don’t know them. She’s smart and she’s sweet and she’s a hard worker and she’s got a Ph. D. and she played good chess back when I played well enough to Know when someone played well. I’m certain, too, that there’s nobody more trustworthy. I’d tell her my secrets if I could find a good one. I’d let her hold my money for me, if I had any. If she had the last remaining photo of me with that overly affectionate goat, I believe that she could keep it private until I could get there and burn it and eat the ashes.

So how does it happen that this pearl of a friend jumps up and tells me that my big glasses are going to make me scare little children in the street?! Great Scott, doesn’t she think I have Real Things to worry about? Besides, this is a woman so thrifty about such things herself that she buys her reading glasses off the rack at the local grocery or drug store. Surely, she doesn’t imagine that I’d be unthrifty enough to get new glasses before their time?

I guess I might as well laugh. Otherwise, I’d try to make sense of it and that would keep me up all night. It’s hard on my eyes these days if I stay up late and I don’t want to make a bad thing worse. The sooner my eyes worsen, the sooner I’ll have to buy new glasses, and then I’ll have to deal with looking like a scary bear if I choose the wrong glasses.

You know, the funny part is that I was never too conscious of having my glasses on in that photo. I am, now, of course. Friends--what would we do without them to poke us, insult us, and tell us to sit up straight? I always thought that’s what we had mothers for. So, okay, I still love my friend, don’t worry, I think she’s a peach, the nicest girl on the block when she isn’t giving me a crack on the head. She even gave me this blog topic for today, just when I was running low on ideas. So remember, everyone, if you want to assault or insult or just drub your oldest friends a little, go ahead. They may be in desperate need of blog subjects, too.

THOUGHT FOR THE DAY: Writers should be read, but neither seen nor heard. -- Daphne du Maurier