Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Back When I Toured Ireland

I rented an Audi diesel; they told me it was clean; but it was just a weasel, a sneaky smog machine. 

Monday, September 28, 2015

Odd Doings In Dusseldorf

From the annals of false convictions:

"A German woman who vanished 31 years ago and had been registered as dead after a man confessed to her murder, has been found alive and well and living in Düsseldorf."

I wonder how this "confession" occurred.
In retrospect it's clearly absurd.

The person who confessed, who is "known only as Gunther K," also confessed to another murder.

What? Known only as Gunther K? What kind of country convicts people of murder but doesn't release their names? Germany, I take it.

I'm hoping this other murder, of a 14 year old girl, actually involved finding a body.

Did this guy just like to confess?
You charge him, and he says "Yes!"?

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Dialogue Lost

Actors usually don't like it when audience members ask them how they memorized all those lines. But many do find it a difficult task, and they do sometimes lose their place on stage. The playwright can help by not giving one actor the same line twice, because that can miscue the other actor.

So, say there's a scene like this:

She: Come to the store with me.
He: I hate shopping.
She: But I want your advice about something. Something really important.
He: My advice is that you not take me.
She: Why won't you come?
He: I hate shopping.
She: I hate you.

The danger here is for She, who may reply "I hate you" after his first "I hate shopping".

In which case, the foreshadowing about "something really important" will be lost.

And the strength of her final line makes less sense if we don't know that he has refused to help her with something she feels is really important.

When actors get lost,
lines can get tossed,
unless the "oops"
creates a loop,
so instead of being deleted,
the lines end up repeated,
possibly ad infinitum,
be careful how you write 'em!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Expecting More Soon

Found a red leaf on the ground. I think October's sneaking around. 

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Catching the 6:45

Training to run, by running for the train, supplies great motivation, that's otherwise hard to maintain.

Brit Slang

Oddly enough, a "git"
Is person who's not "legit".

Monday, September 21, 2015

Exit Walker

Goodbye, Scott.
You were running, but now you're not.
Now you're just walking away,
Will you run another day?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Details to Come

It looks like my ten minute play, Kitties In Space, will be part of an upcoming festival. 

It's a comic tale of intelligent felines
Who fall afoul of enemy designs.

The Rainmaker

I've been looking online for a photo of the spectacular set of The Rainmaker, as put on currently at JPAC theatre in Cicero, IL. It's credited to Rick Arnold. Oddly enough, there don't seem to be any publicity photos online.

I particularly enjoyed Ann Marie White as Lizzie, the farm girl who has trouble attracting suitors because she speaks her mind too plainly.

You might have seen the old movie version, with Katherine Hepburn in the role of Lizzie, and Burt Lancaster in the role of Starbuck, the confidence-hustler.

He exudes confidence. She is languishing for the lack of it.

From a writer's perspective, the line I most admired in the play belonged to neither of the two lead characters

It belonged to her other beau,
who simply said "don't go."

Friday, September 18, 2015

Putting the Feet in Fetish

He sought a fragrant scent
but failed to obtain consent:

"Police say they've arrested a man days after a complaint that someone was spotted crawling under library tables and smelling a woman's feet at Florida International University."

He thought her toes were sweet,
but ended by tasting defeat.

Architects of I.T. Failure

An inspector general has compiled a report on what went wrong with the launch of HealthCare.Gov, the famous website that didn't work when it was supposed to. Megan McArdle reports:

"You can take this report as a searing indictment of the agency and its contracting personnel. I took something rather different away from reading it:

The architects of the law were incredibly naïve.
Federal contracting rules are crazy."

Her points about the contracting rules are well-taken, but they just point back to the "naive" issue. Everyone knows what federal contracting is like. You'd have to be "naive" to think that these rules wouldn't place your giant I.T. project at risk.

I keep putting "naive" in scare quotes, because I keep thinking it's not quite the right word. I don't think the people who designed this law were recent college grads. They weren't naive in that sense. They were learned men with advanced degrees, with more interest in social engineering than in software engineering.

Finally, I'd say they were the type
inclined to believe their own hype.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Iran-Contra Counterfactual

On Wednesday, the Wall St. Journal ran a review of a novel about Ronald Reagan, a work of historical fiction. The reviewer is at pains to say that the author may have fudged history a little, but that the fudging was done subtly. Then I came across this sentence:

"With the hope of freeing hostages, the administration was secretly selling arms to the Iranians while illegally diverting the proceeds to the Contras in Nicaragua."

What? The hostages were released on the day that Reagan was sworn into office. The Reagan administration's Iran-Contra scheme had nothing to do with trying to get hostages freed. They were free already!

I don't know whether this was the reviewer's fault, or the novelist's, but aren't there any editors at the Wall St. Journal anymore?

I know, I know,
it happened long ago,
shortly after my birth,
when dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Tick Tock

If you build a clock, 
and take it to school, 
to show off your best... 
prepare for a shock -
If your teacher's a fool, 
you'll be under arrest.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Backward Facing Yoga

At lunch, in the library, I was looking at a very interesting book, Selling Yoga: From Counterculture to Pop Culture, by Andrea Jain. Well, I thought it was very interesting, anyway, as a baby-boomer consumer of yoga.

The subtitle somewhat undersells the book's scope, since the book dives far deeper into yoga's history. I've looked a bit into the subject matter of this book, and I have to say that it strikes me that the author's account lines up very neatly with what I've found - and what I've found does not line up well with the popular understanding of contemporary yoga as something Indian monks have been doing for millennia, minus the rubberized mats.

The book itself is academic, in a sociology-of-religion sort of way. So you have to wade through the verbal padding and the show of value-neutrality which that entails. I mean, consider this sentence from the book's synopsis:

"Yoga brands destabilize the basic utility of yoga commodities and assign to them new meanings that represent the fulfillment of self-developmental needs often deemed sacred in contemporary consumer culture."

But underneath all that, I thought it was quite lively. I didn't read it all the way through, but the book does touch on some of the juicy recent yoga scandals, where old gurus had "transgressive" sex with young devotees.

The big takeaway, I would say, which I have seen elsewhere, but which is much neglected, is that 20th/21st century yoga, as a system of physical exercise, is not some old set of Indian customs. Rather, it developed at the turn of the prior century as an Indian response to the European "physical culture" movement (meaning: the beginning of today's continuing exercise craze). There are things called "yoga" that are old, but they were not this modern system of stretchy poses.

If a guru felt at home
in the halls of Ancient Rome,
would he practice Hatha Yoga
while attired in a toga?

Studying to be Sturdy

'Obama on liberal college students who want to be "coddled": "That’s not the way we learn"'

Prez says: no need to swaddle or coddle at college,
where you're supposed to be exposed to knowledge.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Varieties of Assistance

Sarah Hoyt writes:

"There is no way for assisted suicide laws NOT to be abused, particularly when they intersect with a state health system."

I suppose everything gets "abused" after a while.

And people have been making murders look like suicides since forever.

One feared abuse here, I take it, is that the state will begin to encourage suicide in an inappropriate way, something like that young woman who just got charged with involuntary manslaughter for giving her boyfriend this sort of counsel:

'"You can't think about it. You just have to do it. You said you were gonna do it. Like I don't get why you aren't," Michelle Carter allegedly wrote to Conrad Roy III the day he parked his truck outside a Fairhaven Kmart and killed himself through carbon monoxide poisoning.'

He is described in the article as having a history of depression, and of having made a prior suicide attempt.

He doesn't seem to have had any terminal condition
diagnosed by a physician.

It sounds like she charged down the slippery slope
of crushing a person's last hope.


By the way, to be fair, the girl was not some consistent ghoul who constantly worked on him to just do it. She had advised him to seek help previously. The boy seems to have been playing pity party a lot. You can see where she would get sick of it. Maybe she thought she was using reverse psychology on him!

Maybe her lawyer could give the "reverse psychology" thing a try,
and say she never wanted him to die,
but thought he had whined enough,
and was just trying to call his bluff.

Saturday, September 12, 2015


There's nothing worse than people telling me to have a nice day.
I'll have the kind I want to have, in shades of dreary gray!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Guest Limerick

My father's friend, long years ago, sent him this:

A crazy Greek monk from Corfu
Writes limericks that end in line two. 

My father replied:

With lines three,  four, and five
Sung in Eskimo jive
By an addled Aleut from Attu. 

Wednesday, September 09, 2015


I misinterpreted this headline:

"Survivor rips Huckabee, clerk for using 'Eye of the Tiger'"

I wondered, survivor of what? A tiger attack?

But of course Survivor is the name of the band that had a huge hit with the song!

There are few survivors of tiger attacks.  
To tigers we look a lot like snacks!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Poetry and Pen Names

Ann Althouse blogs about a case where a white male poet adopted a Chinese-sounding name in order to get published. And it worked, even though he got caught. He made it into a book called Best American Poetry 2015!

The editor wrote:

"If I'd pulled the poem then I would have been denying that I was consciously and deliberately seeking to address past racial, cultural, social, and aesthetic injustices in the poetry world...."

I think the anthology may need a longer title.

Instead of just calling it "Best"
let's try "Injustice Redressed".

Friday, September 04, 2015

Heaping Scorn on the Heretic

Is it really important to drag this Kentucky clerk through the mud? Apparently it is. She must be shamed.

It's one thing to toss her in the clink for contempt of court. But shaming her for being married 4 times is something else.

Some deep insecurity is at work.

Much ugliness springs
from fear that has wings.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Property Tax Speed Bump

Not good news, but I've been expecting it - Chicago property taxes are probably going to shoot up.

'While opinions vary on the precise impact the proposed $450 million to $550 million tax hike will have on housing markets in the city and suburbs, most experts expect homeowners to grumble, then stomach the increase.'

Well, of course not everyone's going to move out. The problem, as usual, is what happens on the margin. You get less development here, and so on. A point which the story finally gets around to in the last paragraph:

'It might make a difference on the margins, to people already considering moving out of Chicago, or on the fence about moving in, Hewings said. "But for the vast majority of people, it's going to be an irritation," he said. "I really don't think it's going to have a dramatic impact."'

I'd like the city to thrive and endure.
I hope he's right, but I'm far from sure.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Europe Awash

They wanted us out of the Middle East
But no one thought it through.
Now they're flooded with refugees.
Whatever will they do?

I'm not saying it's an insoluble problem. But with the state of the European economies, it's going to be chaotic, for a while, trying to absorb all these poor people.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

FringeNYC 2015 Collection - Early Bird Discount

The collection isn't even published yet, and already they're discounting it.

A collection of excellent new scripts from the 19th annual New York International Fringe Festival. BUY ALL 23 PLAYS (REG. PRICE: $28.38) FOR $12.50 »

It's not exactly a book, because it's not on paper. It's a form of digital publishing, sort of iTunes for plays, is the concept. Anyway, my play is among the 23 selected, out of 184 or so plays in the festival, so I'm honored and happy.

The real target of the operation is people who might want to put on plays. People around the country are putting on plays all the time. With luck I'll get some of them putting on O'Brien & O'Brian. It's easy enough to put on. Just one set. No complicated lighting or sound effects. Contemporary clothes and furniture.

I think most people, even people who like to read novels and short stories, don't really like to read plays. But theater people do. The trick to it is imagining the thing being acted.

But perhaps that's an acquired ability,
involving some odd imaginative agility.