Folly of the Faithful Canine|
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in
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|Sunday, May 1st, 2016|
|I'm Not Saying Who Framed Him
In an alternate Hollywood, toons are alive,
Interacting with humans for work.
Two private detectives liked helping them out,
Till one died; now his bro’s a drunk jerk
Who gets desperate for money and snoops on the wife
Of a toon star who’s lately distracted.
The next morning, her lover apparent is dead.
Could the husband have overreacted?
That’s the common belief, but he swears it’s not so
And a toon never gets a fair trial.
The detective reluctantly takes up the case
And discovers ambitions quite vile....
|Sunday, April 24th, 2016|
|I Cannot Lie Either
For decades, maybe longer, in the music industry,
A body part has dominated creativity.
You think I mean the brain? Heck no; it’s something lower down.
Alas, I don’t know whether I should smile at this or frown.
This part becomes a subject known for pleasure and disgust—
In lyrics, more the former, and more often than the bust.
For reasons I can hardly guess, musicians dwell on size.
The bigger ones consistently are better in their eyes,
Despite what other media would sooner have you feel.
Don’t ask me to explain it, for to me it lacks appeal.
I wonder if the lyricists keep working while they’re sitting.
If so, their frequent focus on the derriere is fitting.
|Tuesday, April 19th, 2016|
|Book Review: The Mother Tongue: English and How It Got That Way
I had just vaguely heard of Bill Bryson, probably from seeing his name on my parents' bookshelves. It figures that they would recommend one of his most linguistic publications to me. They know me well.( Cut for lengthCollapse )
Now I've returned to a book I actually started before picking up The Mother Tongue
. It's Myst: The Book of Ti'ana
, which I rescued from a giveaway shelf. I don't expect much quality, given its basis on a computer game, but I got curious and wanted to vary my reading.
|Monday, April 18th, 2016|
|A Conversational Curmudgeon
Have you started a sentence with “Needless to say”?
It’s common but leaves me in utter dismay.
You’d save us all time if you skipped the whole thought,
Just letting us think for ourselves as we ought.
The worst part to me is that I have to tell
This advice, which I think should be needless as well.
|Sunday, April 10th, 2016|
|The Artist’s Self-Doubt
I write all these poems and draw my cartoons
And sometimes compose a few musical tunes.
It strikes me that while my creation is fun,
I’m a jack of all trades and a master of none.
Who else do I know who tries so many arts?
Could this be a sign I’ve been lacking in smarts?
Is specialization the way I should go?
I’m asking in earnest; I really don’t know.
|Monday, April 4th, 2016|
|Coming to Zootopia
A rabbit had wanted, from early in life,
To join the police in the city.
That kind of career never went to a critter
As small as she was. What a pity!
A neighborhood bully could beat her in fights
And told her she ought to stop trying,
And even her parents discouraged her dream
For fear that she’d soon end up dying.
In spite of these factors, when fifteen years passed,
She entered a cop training course.
At first she was bombing at all that she did.
What place could she have on the force?
But “Never give up” was the young rabbit’s creed.
She learned to become more resourceful.
By using her legs and her sensitive ears,
She’d take on some rivals more forceful.
The coach quit the trash talk in light of her marks.
Her dream job was finally won!
But dreams don’t survive in reality well;
Her struggle had only begun….
|Sunday, March 27th, 2016|
|An Eggregious Misconception
You’ve probably heard that chocolate milk
Must come from cows of the chocolate ilk.
If this is the truth, it follows, then,
That Easter eggs come from Easter hens,
With mates selected for colors bold.
They must be quite a sight to behold.
I hope that one year, I get my kicks
When some of the eggs hatch Easter chicks.
|Saturday, March 19th, 2016|
|Having Fun Yet?
“I’m going to the ATM,” I told my office mate.
Without a second’s pause, she said, “Have fun,” and I thought, “Wait.
An automatic teller isn’t made to bring us fun.
Just what does she imagine that I do when I’m at one?
Punch buttons willy-nilly while I giggle like a fool?”
I then recalled she had two kids in element’ry school.
She must have made that statement out of habit as a mother—
A new unthinking sentence I was happy to discover.
I later said, “I’m going to the dentist”; as you’ve guessed,
She said the phrase again, and man, that context was the best.
|Sunday, March 13th, 2016|
|My Saddest Day of 2014
Some years ago, while living in a house,
I noticed an abandoned newborn mouse.
He lay upon the sidewalk, very still.
I thought he was already dead until
I realized that he wasn’t rotten, bleeding,
Or luring any insects to a feeding,
Just tiny, pink, and hairless like a worm.
I tapped him with my shoe and saw him squirm.
His eyes still closed, he turned his head to me
And opened up his mouth, no teeth to see.
I pitied him but had a place to go.
I did come back within three hours or so.
Alas, he lay exactly where he had
Before, his movements slowed; he’d soon be dead.
It looked unlikely Mama would return.
She must have lost her life or her concern.
I weighed my options: If I took him home
And nursed him back to health, where would he roam?
I’m sure I lacked the nutrients to nourish
And needed lots of time to help him flourish.
Perhaps I’d simply move him to the grass
So that the sidewalk wouldn’t be a mess.
But in the end, I walked back home and got
A cloth and litter scooper. It was not
Too hard to put the baby in a bag,
Which seemed to make him comfy as it sagged.
I sealed it with a trace amount of air,
Then put it in a can and left him there.
I told my landlords so as not to freak
Them out if they should chance to take a peek
While taking out the garbage: He had been
Discovered well outside the house, not in.
I sighed and felt that no one could dispute
I’d never killed an animal so cute.
|Wednesday, March 9th, 2016|
|Book Review: The Man Who Spoke Snakish
Andrus Kivirähk's 2007 novel became quite a hit in his native Estonia, even inspiring a board game (tho I can hardly imagine how that works). After word of mouth generated international interest, it finally got an English translation out last year. I wanted it as soon as I saw the cover in the bookstore, for reasons my friends and family can guess/
.( Cut for lengthCollapse )
I haven't decided what to read next. I had set aside William Gibson's Mona Lisa Overdrive
, which I got free from a workplace shelf purge; but it may be a bad idea to chase a tragedy with punk, and I haven't read the middle volume of the series. Maybe I'll pick something that promises to be lighter.
|Sunday, March 6th, 2016|
|Two Wheels, Too Many, Too Few
I mentioned before why I don’t own a car;
It’s hardly the only way one can go far.
Perhaps you thought, “How about riding a bike?
It still gives you exercise, just as you like.
It doesn’t cost much as a basic machine.
It doesn’t use gas, and it’s very much green.”
For sure, I’ve considered the prospect for me,
But I can come up with a problem or three.
For starters, I gave up on bikes in first grade,
With training wheels on (I was just that afraid).
At this point, I don’t fear the pain from a fall
But can’t say I won’t feel embarrassed at all.
I’ve also discovered that people resent
The bicyclists riding upon the cement,
Yet those in the streets face a worse disrespect.
The way people drive, it’s not hard to get wrecked.
And finally, once you come down from your wheels,
You ought to take caution so nobody steals,
But nothing you do guarantees that a thief
Or a vandal won’t leave you sans ride and in grief.
It’s possible none of these faults is too bad
To sample advantages yet to be had,
But knowing myself, I don’t have enough trust:
A bike in my hands wouldn’t take long to rust.
|Wednesday, February 24th, 2016|
|Book Review: That Hideous Strength
Why did I wait almost five years
to continue the Space Trilogy? Maybe the second volume felt like too good a stopping point, leaving little more to my literary appetite. Maybe the last title turned me off. At any rate, I probably should have read this sooner.
...Because if you don't remember the previous villains' names, you may get almost halfway thru the book before seeing any connections at all to the previous volumes. I was prepared to accuse C.S. Lewis, of all authors, of lying to his readership: This couldn't be a sequel! Even when the connections did become clear, there was no space travel depicted and only a slight discussion thereof. After I finished, I skimmed the first half for a new perspective.( PlotCollapse )( EvaluationCollapse )
This is the first Lewis book that I consider at least as much miss as hit. I hope I haven't read all his adult works that I'd like.
My next read was published much more recently and translated from Estonian to English only last year: The Man Who Spoke Snakish
by Andrus Kivirähk. It's long but going fast.
|Sunday, February 21st, 2016|
Does this post seem somewhat late,
Consid’ring my vacation dates?
There’s more at work than mere jet lag
Or waiting for a missing bag,
Arriving at my first hotel,
I soon found out not all was well:
My lanyard pouch was left ajar,
My passport lost! I’d traveled far.
It must have fallen on the ground.
I checked the airport lost-and-found,
To no avail. At least I’d brought
My visa letter; I would not
Be turned away but spend the night
At that hotel, tho all affright.
To make things worse, it’s hard to get
Good service in the week of Tet
In Vietnam: The embassy
And consulate were closed to me.
My tour involved domestic flights,
But once I took the bus all night.
Mercifully, some kindly sort
Did submit my pass-a-port.
The bad news: I was in Hanoi;
It had to ship from Saigon. Oy!
I’d have to spend another day
Or two before I flew away,
And when I did, the different route
Was many hours longer. Shoot!
I paid a lot for one mistake.
The thought can cause my head to shake.
Some ten if-onlys fill my head
Whenever I reflect. That said,
I try to see the brighter side.
For instance, what a nice bus ride.
It made a conversation piece
With others on the tour at least.
I also got to visit two
More countries’ airports; that was new.
The trip had felt a little brief;
A longer stay meant some relief.
Despite the waits, I felt less bored.
The prices, I could still afford.
A different airline would provide
More shows and movies on my ride.
In short, I’d say I’m almost glad
I made an error just so bad.
|Saturday, January 30th, 2016|
|Building Good Lives
There’s a place I used to visit with my sister every week.
It was always fun, but now when I describe it, you may freak.
The people there were all the same in height and girth and weight.
There seemed to be no kids apart from us (it wasn’t late).
A lot of folks were mean; it’s just as well they had no youths.
Quite few of them had houses, and the houses had no roofs.
Don’t get me wrong; they often had construction going on,
But any day, an edifice might suddenly be gone.
There was neither much for plant life nor for paving of a street.
It was even hard to find a place with anything to eat.
But those facts rarely bothered us, because our time was grand
In the itty-bitty little place we knew as Legoland.(ADDENDUM: If the ending confuses you, understand that I'm not talking about the theme park, which didn't exist in my childhood. Ads at that time used the term "Legoland" to refer to pretty much any large personal collection of LEGO blocks, so my sister and I co-opted it as the name of a township of sorts.)
|Saturday, January 23rd, 2016|
|That Snow Fun
When I was but a babe in arms, I had no love for snow,
That cold stuff falling from the sky; I’m sure it scared me so.
Within my early childhood, my feelings turned around:
I felt more joy the deeper it became upon the ground.
In later years, I didn’t go for sleds or snowball fights,
But thicker snow at least meant peace and cleanly pretty sights.
Adulthood came, and then I reached my disenchanted age,
When snow would chiefly mean I had a shovel to engage.
My office doesn’t cancel work; it’s not like missing school.
I might just work from home until the power’s out (not cool).
But if the words of other folk are any indication,
The day may come when I return to snowfall admiration.
|Friday, January 22nd, 2016|
|Book Review: Good Omens
Had it really been more than two years since my last reading of Terry Pratchett
? And more than half a year since my first full Neil Gaiman novel
? Well, the time was ripe to continue my exposure, and I'm happy to say that this early collaboration of theirs (neither especially famous yet) shows signs of both their styles and strengths. They actually couldn't agree later who wrote what -- and suspect that the project developed a mind of its own.
Published in 1990, it seems to have a millenarian implication, albeit with tongue firmly in cheek. The forces of both heaven and hell are preparing for an 11-year-old Antichrist to launch a war between them. One catch: The Omen
-like hospital switcheroo got more complicated than the Satanists had planned, and only near Apocalypse time does the truth come out that they've focused on the wrong kid. Mind you, even without the intended upbringing, the Antichrist (Adam Young) can exercise extreme powers, so nobody's writing off an imminent Apocalypse yet.( Cut for lengthCollapse )
For the sake of a semi-rebuttal, I've started reading That Hideous Strength
by C.S. Lewis.
|Sunday, January 10th, 2016|
|Book Review: Silver Screen Fiend
Yes, I'd said I was reading Good Omens
and thus led you to expect that I would review it next. Alas, I injudiciously took it to a movie theater on Christmas and left it behind. You can't really go back and check there yourself. I left information at the lost-and-found, but to no avail. I settled for ordering a copy at the library. Fortunately, I had received the gift of this new book -- Patton Oswalt's memoir from last year -- to tide me over, somewhat appropriately.
I couldn't have told you from memory that Oswalt voiced Remy in Ratatouille
, let alone anything else he'd done. Now I'll remember, even if the book focuses primarily on his life in the second half of the '90s.( Cut for lengthCollapse )
I can't say I found it hilarious like the excerpted reviewers did, just fitfully funny. It is somewhat interesting to peer into the mind of a struggling entertainer and addict -- when he's not struggling to make the reader understand. But if I want an irreverent sense of humor, recondite references, and a strange method of organization, I'll keep reading Good Omens
. Which I will.
|Saturday, January 9th, 2016|
|Those Metal Monsters
When I think of what frightened me most as a kid,
I first think of things that make noise,
Like thunder and vacuums, but also I feared
Some things represented in toys,
Specifically heavy construction equipment
(I wasn't like most other boys).
I knew on some level they're neither alive
Nor robots with minds of their own,
But they hardly resemble what parents would drive
And they look fit to pulverize bone.
The bulldozers, steam shovels, forklifts and cranes—
I wouldn't go near them alone.
It sure didn't help that they "grumble" along,
And most of them come rather big.
I called them all monsters despite what they do:
Just move heavy objects and dig.
Yet these were the years when I totally dug
Learning dinosaur info; go fig.
|Friday, January 1st, 2016|
It's been a while since I last entered a contest in the Style Invitational of The Washington Post
, but Mom recently pointed me to one asking for songs rewritten with lyrics to or about cats. Unlike most of these contests, this one does not discourage collaboration. Entries aren't due until the 4th, so I thought I'd show you all my work in progress and allow you to offer suggestions for improvement.A man comes home from work;
He says, "Cat, you’re so soft on the outside.
I’m glad you’re soft on the outside;
The rest of my life is so hard.
I need a photo of you with me.
I want a shot at YouTube fame.
I want a vid to go viral,
One in which my cat’s starred.
Dogs out the window,
Far away from the pet door.
Mr. Lowbelly, Lowbelly,
Get your claws away from me!
I know you don’t find lasers amusing anymore.
"Since you’ve been my buddy, cat,
I will feed you dinner now.
I can call you Kitty,
And Kitty, when you call me,
You can call, 'Meow!'"
I realize that the original lyrics don't do much with rhyme or rhythm, but it was the first tune to spring to mind, thanks to my mishearing at an early age.