Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Three Examples

Here are three entries about language use and abuse. I decided to put them into one post instead of three different ones because they were a little too short to stand by themselves.

Recently, I've been tempted to use the word proper like the English do -- as a synonym for correct or best, as in "The proper way to fix the motor is ..."

Americans, I find, use the word proper as a synonym for the way things should be done -- as a moral judgment. It's close to the use of the words appropriate and propriety. To me, they mean a coerced conformity done out of fear.

An abbrevation I'm sure you've seen on the internet is WTF -- short for what the fuck.

An eight-year-old girl thought it stood for why, that's funny. Her older brother told her that -- surely out of the goodness in his heart.

Somewhat related, I thought FTW always meant fuck the world. It turns out that it also means for the win.

As for using about or of in the following context, which is better?

Many people say, "I know about it." It's heard more often in everyday talk.

Some people write, "I know of it." It's more literary, but sounds pretentious if it's spoken.


The jackery and prudery of some people nowadays ... I find it appalling.

Here's an example. It ran in the Sept. 24, 2007 issue of Newsweek. It was in an article about Ken Burns' documentary The War:

Some (PBS) affiliates -- which didn't seem to mind the obscenely gruesome Holocaust pictures or the scene where a machine gun blows off a soldier's head -- had a problem with the four uses of cusswords, one of which is alluded to in the anagrammatic title of episode five, "FUBAR" ... Did you need further evidence that today's decadent home front can't see past the end of its own nose?

Harold In The Crevice

Harold looked out from the crevice and thought:

What I need to do is get out of this crevice -- no light, too damp, no room to move -- and get out into the world. But I gotta watch out for the sunlight. It might be too bright for my eyes. They might've become too adjusted to this dark.

He moved outward but suddenly stopped. The light was too bright.

He closed his eyes in a wincing expression, as if he had been hit.

Then he lowered his head and opened his eyes to let his sight adjust to the brightness.

He went from there.

And The Ants ... They Crawl ...

Most of you know my friend Frank, who often sends me correspondence of a somewhat off-beat nature -- and that's putting it mildly.

Frank has often been institutionalized, always with his knowledge and approval, so that he can't harm himself. When he feels better, he goes home.

While in a certain institution, he met a man named Anthony, who called himself Ant'ny, The Mad Ant-Man. Ant'ny also writes to get things off his mind, and wanted Frank to see this. Frank passed it on to me with Ant'ny's permission.

So here's is Ant'ny's first bit of correspondence to be posted here.

And the ants ... they crawl ... on my body ...

I feel them ... they hurt ... because they bite ... their stings ... I roll in pain ...

When will this end ... this new fresh hell ... this twenty-ton dump of just more bullshit ...

When will it be over and done with ... be final ... and then .. it'll be the end ...

Ah so ... ah so ... oh no .. oh no ... for me don't stay ... for me just go ...

But look ... but lo! ...

A boat's that ready ... get aboard it ... and forward ... go.

Still Life

A still life ... of two things ... that can still your life ...

Booze yourself to death ... alcoholic poisoning or cirrhosis ... that's long term ...

Or shoot yourself when you're sober ... that's short term ...

Or get drunk and shoot yourself ... that's also short term ...

James Agee

Here is a clip from the Jan. 9, 2006 issue of The New Yorker. It's about two fictional works by James Agee, better known from his film criticism and his book about Southern sharecroppers, Let Us Know Praise Famous Men.

I post it here because I found it an interesting interpretation of the works.

Again, I forgot to note the author of the article. I apologize for that.

In "The Morning Watch," an autobiographical novella of 1951, a 12-year-old boarding-school boy, asleep in the early morning of Good Friday, dreams that he is Jesus about to be betrayed by his disciples. He awakes, and hears not Peter and Judas but sleepy boys cursing all around him. He goes to chapel and there, on his knees, relieves the previous months of religious crisis, during which he tormented himself over masturbation, only to realized that, at that moment, his back and thighs hurting as he kneels, he is committing the sin of imitating the suffering of Jesus. He leaves chapel with his friends and, as they go skinny-dipping at dawn, steals a look at their genitals; then, at the side of the pond, he kills a snake that may be poisonous and feeds it to the school's hogs. The mood swings back and forth between guilty devotion to Jesus and excited apprehension of the physical world. As the school enters Easter weekend, and Chirst's resurrection approaches, the boy eases into his sexual future.

In Agee's autobiographical novel "A Death in the Family," which he was working on when he died and which was published in 1957, he goes back further into his youth, to when he was six, in Knoxville (Tennessee -- my note), and his young father was killed in a freak automobile accident. The tense alternation of reverence and self-assertion. is similar to the rhythm of "The Morning Watch." The family, which has heard the news of the death, gathers and talks into the night with the strange exhilaration and that accompanies catastrophe. A debate forms between the religious, who see the death as having a mysterious purpose that God will not divulge, and the skeptics, who think that it happened by chance and is without meaning. The boy, Rufus (Agee's childhood name), is finally told of the accident, and, to our surprise, feels very little except for a sense of his own importance.; "My daddy got killed," he tells strangers and schoolmates on the street. Later, shown the corpse in a funeral parlor, he "looked toward his father's face and, seeing the blue-dented chin thrust upward, and the way the flesh was sunken behind the bones of the jaw, first recognized in its specific weight the word, dead." For long stretches, as Agee evokes first the comforts of childhood and then its loneliness and bewilderment, the novels reaches a pitch of tenderness that comes within hailing distance of what Joyce achieved in the early pages of "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."

The Dark Seas Of Indiana

--I have sailed the dark seas of Indiana.
--But Indiana has no seas.
--That's what you think.
Loads of conversations? Why not say conversating?
The Love Army's Battle Orders:
Present cocks!
Forward ... fuck!
He's so claustrophobic and homophobic that his worst nightmare is being in the closet with Elton John, with no key available.
Open mouth.
Insert foot.
Then shoot foot.
A double fuck-up.
Is it Canadian teens smoke the most pot or most Canadian teens smoke pot?
Never enough arms
To hold you
To hold all the people I love
To do all the work that must be done
To do all the work you could get done during the next three days
Is he an alien from another planet ... or a mutant from the sewers of Earth?
Or a mutant alien from the sewers of another planet?
After the rooftop has fallen
And the walls have collapsed to the ground,
The ruins -- the wood, the stones, the metal bits --
Are they weighed by the ounce or the pound?
A big -- no, huge --
steaming loaf of
freshly cooked
ground beef,
with strips of cheese
and bacon atop
and onion bits in it --
hot, tasty and ready to eat.
All of us come from some place. But some of us come from west of someplace, out there, beyond the notice and attention of most people. Out there where the buses don't run.

Harold came from a place like that.
all about
gettin' paid
gettin' laid --
gettin' made
in the sun
or the shade --
not to fade
not to trade
not to be slayed
by some mook
with a blade.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What Other People Said

This post is the first of possibly many to come in a new category which I've labeled What Other People Said.

It's a lot like the Jottings label I have for some of my posts. For What Other People Said, I'll quote other people. In Jottings, many of the entries came from my mind.
The old Sports Illustrated used to be literature. Now, it's a marketing tool.
--Norman Chad, syndicated sportswriter, written in December 1994.
This would be a better world for the children if the parents would eat the spinach.
--Groucho Marx, in the movie Animal Crackers, during a parody of the Eugene O'Neill play Strange Interlude.
Those hip musicians with their complicated shoes.
--George Costanza (played by Jason Alexander) in "The Burning," episode 16, season 9 of Seinfeld.
A real estate novelist ...
--From the song Piano Man by Billy Joel -- and I've always wondered what the hell a real estate novelist is, anyway.
It's not a great party unless some one dies or some one conceives.
--Overheard in an Indianapolis bookstore on April 16, 1994
Remember: Not all wedding rings are symbols of bondage. Sometimes they're symbols of trust.
Every book's title is Lost Illusions.
--Both from the book Points for a Compass Rose, by Evan Connell.
Kid With
A Gun?
Call 911
--Unknown headline writer in the Oct. 27, 1993 edition of The Indianapolis News.
I wept because I have lost my pain and I am not yet accustomed to its absence.
--Anais Nin.
I don't get my opium from religion. I get it, like the rest of the world, from Afghanistan.
--Seen somewhere on the Internet.
It appears that our (U.S.) society is sex crazed and optimistic, yet consumed by deep regret.
--Chuck Klosterman, page 96 of the November 2007 issue of Esquire magazine.

In Passing ...

I wanted to note this earlier, but couldn't because my computer was on the fritz. So I'll do it now.

Dennis Hopper died May 29 in Venice, California, of prostate cancer.

Among the films for which he is noted is Easy Rider, in which he acted and also directed. The profits it made caused Hollywood to seek out the youth market -- often to ridiculous heights.

He also was known for acting in two movies that came out in the middle 1980s. The one best remembered around central Indiana was Hoosiers, where he was Shooter, the assistant coach of the Hickory High School basketball team that won the state title.

The other movie was Blue Velvet, where he played offbeat and perverted Frank Booth. He got an Oscar nomination as best supporting actor for that movie.

Besides his acting and directing, he was known for his art collection and his photography.

I also thought he could've played William F. Buckley in the movie Hollywood never made about Ronald Reagan.

i, i, i ...

This week, Apple admitted that there had been a data breech in some of its iPads. Because of it, hackers could've gotten information for about 114,000 people who owned one.

When I heard about the breech, this line of thought came to mind:




I shot the sheriff, but I did not shoot no deputy

I love a parade




I did it all for love

I did it all for you, baby

I spy with my bloodshot eye a drunken sailor passing by

I is the first letter of it, is and if -- also of irony and ivory

I shot an arrow into the air.
It fell to earth --
no, not there --
It went into the heart of my mortal enemy.

Proud Parents

Mr. and Mrs. Philosophicus, please tell us about your rock.

Well, it's more like a stone.

And it's more like a child to us than a pet. We adopted him when he was just a pebble -- no bigger than a pea.

His name, by the way, is Rocky.
We know it's not that original, but when he gets older, he can pick a new one if he wants.

Literary Connections

Recently, I read this quote, which is the opening sentence from the novel Neuromancer, by William Gibson:

The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.

Immediately, I was reminded of the opening lines of poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot:

Let us go then, you and I
When the evening is spread against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table.

And in some parallels, Neuromancer was one of the first and among the most influential cyberpunk novels. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock was one of the first and among the most influential modernist poems.

Get The Definitions Right!

This post is for my fellow males -- especially the foolish or stupid ones, who usually are willfully so, and often are belligerent too.

They call any effeminate man a faggot.

There's a difference.

If an effeminate man is gay, he's a faggot.

If an effeminate man is straight, he's a sissy.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Freaking Fuck Show

I've written before about the word fuck and its use, especially as a profanity.

As I was going through some old magazines, I saw this recommendation about it as a profanity. It was in the May 2009 issue of Esquire:

In too many cases, it's just a signifier of unhappiness -- "fucking pain in the ass," "fucking bullshit," "Al fucking Gore" -- with no potency. For optimal impact, use fuck sparingly and with unusual imagery ("Did he just finger-fuck me?") or reverse the conventional forms ("What a freaking fuck show"); alternatively, multiply it ("fucking four-eyed fuck.")

(Emphasis mine.)

About Growing Up

Once again, my friend -- and by now, possibly yours -- Frank has sent us a note.

This time, it's short:

i live in the clouds ... a world of fantasy ... people say i should come down ... that the clouds are not a place for grown-ups to be ... i smile at them ... maybe one day, i tell them, maybe one day i will come down ... but i never will ... reality ... hell, no ... it's not for me ... keep your sad, bad truths away from me ... i will stay up here ...
i see what I want ... i want what I see ... and that is ... you know it ... okay by me ... and the view is very beautiful and breathtaking ... i bet it's not as dull as the view where you are ...

oh yes ... i saw this on the net, so it's not an original thought from me ... but it put into words what i've thought and felt for a long time ... so i sent it on to you ...

Buying The Farm

A man who's been killed has bought the farm.
The man who kills him helps with the down payment.

The sexual tension between them was so thin that you could cut it with a butterfly wing.
You could say a lot of things about me, but not if you're mute.
You could hear a lot of things about me, but not if you're deaf.
You could see a lot of things about me, but not if you're blind.
Not the ghost of the recent past, but the ghost of ... oh, say ... five years ago? Or maybe earlier than that.
He wasn't burned by the fire, but the smell that came from him was definitely of its smoke.
"The plains of Kansas? Hell, when I drove through it, it was all one big plain."
It was as worthless to me as shoes to a mermaid.
The woman was a two-buck whore, and all I had was a dollar ninety-five.
If you can't be
With the one you hate,
Hate the one you're with.
Go to
And get with
Your outside woman
For some good time
Good old
Outdoor lovin'.
It isn't the B team. It's more like the Z-minus team.
If it's Mojo Mother, is it Bojo Brother or Brojo Brother?
"My ex-boyfriend? He's my ox-boyfriend."
"Why do you call him that?"
"Because he's as dumb as one."


Posting had been limited for the past two weeks because my computer had some problems. Several bugs had infected it; Unfortunately, they came right after each other. So I had to keep taking it back for maintenance.

Now that the problems have been solved, I'll be posting more often.

And so ... onward.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

D-Day Plus 66 Years

I posted this picture to mark the 66th anniversary of D-Day, when the Allies landed on the beaches of Normandy and opened the second front in the European Theater of the Second World War.

Eleven months later, the Germans surrendered.

It was a huge military operation. Nuclear weapons and spy satellites make sure that something that big will never happen again.

The picture shows troops of Company E, 15th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division -- aka The Big Red One -- hitting Omaha Beach.