Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Doomsday Clock

About two years after President Obama was elected in 2008 he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize. History will judge how he lived up to that prize. In the fifth day of the Donald Trump presidency, the Doomsday clock was advanced 30 seconds to midnight. “Never before has the Bulletin [of Atomic Scientists] decided to advance the clock largely because of the statements of a single person,” they wrote. “When that person is the new president of the United States, his words matter.” History will also judge how he lives up to that. I fear he will. * * * * * * * * * The "How to Radicalize more Disaffected Muslims and Others" preliminary findings were leaked today to the Huffington Post. "For those Muslims already in the US, we will register them, spy on them, make them feel unwelcome. For foreign Muslins, we will single them out and deny them entry to the United States," a source said. "This should pretty much guarantee a whole new generation of people who are angry at the US. If we continue to bomb them, herd them into camps, deny fleeing civilians entry to our country, they, their children, and their children's children will hate us forever. The upside of all this is that we can then steal their oil, too." Well played, sir. * * * * * * * * * * * President Big Hair Small Hands today issued an Executive Order that supermarkets from this day forward would sell only American cheese as part of his America first campaign. "Swiss, Cheddar, Muenster -- you can kiss them goodbye," a spokesperson said. "And we will be reinstating G W Bush's Freedom Fries designation as well." * * * * * * * * The odds in Las Vegas, by the way, are 7 to 4 that Trump lasts less than an year in office. * * * * * * * * * Foreign translators are having difficulty translating Trump's statements. Said one, "Trump gives me outbreaks of sweat", his German translator says. "He is so contradictory that people think the translator talks rubbish." Said another: “It is evident that his limited vocabulary reflects a narrow thought....” * * * * * * * President Big Hair Small Hands said today that only 35 women showed up in Washington DC to protest over the weekend. Sad. * * * * * * * * * I really think young Barron Trump should be off limits for commentary though I can't help but think, given his surely bizarre, and probably dysfunctional family life and his narcissist father, that he's a prospect to be one of those kids who end up setting cats on fire. Pray for him that he is not destroyed. * * * * * * * * * * Mexico's President cancelled his scheduled meeting with Trump. Something to do with a wall, apparently.

Friday, January 20, 2017

It's a Gold-Plated Day for America!

It's a gold-plated day for America. We, as a nation, are replacing class with crass, measured with impulsive, thinking with reacting, kindness with mean-spirited, intellect with libido, confidence with arrogance, vision with petulance, wisdom with ignorance and bluster, grace with boorish, hope with fear, caution with recklessness, humility with vanity, science with ideology, and care for others and our planet with greed. * ** * * * ** * * * * * Donald Trump has the intellectual curiosity of a box of corn flakes. The man has the nuanced critical thinking ability a hammer and the moral compass of a grapefruit. The only other country celebrating the inauguration of Trump is Russia. In fact, given the scale of the protests here, Russia seems happier than the US. * * * * * * * * * * * I have this nagging feeling we are about to swear in a Russian agent. * * * * * * * * * ** Apparently, Trump wanted a parade of tanks and missile launchers at his inauguration. Be afraid. Be very afraid. * * * * * * * * The man who wondered why we can't use nuclear weapons now has the black box codes. Be afraid. Be very afraid. * * * * * * * * * Possibly the worst government in US history is taking shape.....Three headlines from last week: Tom Price Just Contradicted Trump Team’s Defense Of His Questionable Stock Trades. Trump’s Commerce Pick Fired Undocumented Household Worker Before Confirmation Hearing. Trump Budget Nominee Admits Skipping Taxes For Employee. * * * * * * * * * I would say Jesus help us, but there are no Hispanics in the cabinet.* * * * * * * * ** Rick Perry will be in charge of safeguarding our nuclear weapons. Be afraid. Be very afraid. * * * * * * * * * * In other news, I saw this headline the other day: "George H.W. Bush remains hospitalized." So my question is why would they hospitalize his remains? He's not dead yet. But seriously, get well soon, Mr. President. * * * * * * * * On a lighter note, I bet you didn't know this: the Wikipedia article for sentence spacing, that is one space or two spaces after a period, has 150 sources in its bibliography. It's actually an interesting read. The impact of technology on typology - moveable print, the typewriter, microsoft word - all played a role. And from what I can see, one space is preferred by most, including the Modern Language Association, but there are two space holdouts. I tell my students one space although my right thumb, often by instinct and years of typewriting, automatically hits the space bar twice, as it did in this note. I once wrote a blog about semi-colons and found that duel had been fought over the issue of a semi-colon v. a colon. Passions can run high among us punctuation police.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Metaphors - Spice for Wordmeat in the Face of Impending Doom

As Asteroid Donald Trump careens toward America, threatening to destroy all that is good and right in our country, I'm taking a break from my constant nagging sorrow and trepidation about the future, to talk about metaphor and simile. "Asteroid Donald Trump" is a metaphor. It will crash into our country destroying the lives of millions of Americans, polluting the air and water for decades, hastening the warming of the planet causing sea levels to rise and crops to fail, installing an authoritarian government of billionaires for billionaires. Okay, okay, that's the metaphor. Metaphor is a figure of speech which makes an implicit, implied or hidden comparison between two things that are unrelated but share some common characteristics. In other words, a resemblance of two contradictory or different objects is made based on a single or some common characteristics. A simile makes a comparison using the words like or as. So if I say Donald Trump is a lump of cow manure - that's a metaphor. If I say Donald Trump is like a lump of cow manure -- that's a simile. Or turd blossom which has more flowery aspects. Both make comparisons between Donald Trump and a lump of manure. * * * * * * * * * * * But enough about Trump.......there'll be plenty of time to revisit the asteroid metaphor and lump of manure metaphor in the weeks and months ahead, assuming, of course, that he doesn't quit or is convicted of the many crimes I'm fairly certain he has committed. So for now, let's focus on metaphor and simile. "Her eyes were deep green pools of mystery" is a metaphor for all that is hidden behind those eyes you love to gaze into that you can never fully see and that is only revealed carefully and gradually as trust develops between two lovers. On the other hand, Raymond Chandler wrote this in The Man Who Liked Dogs: "His smile was as stiff as a frozen fish." There's something about that smile - not sincere, not warm, not even human. * * * * * * * * * * * I recently tried to write bad metaphors and similes: metaphors are spice for word meat. You've got to admit that ranks right down there with the worst. Pun intended, btw. She had eyes like big round hub caps from an old Buick. Her lips were like pieces of cow liver stacked one on the other. Romance is like two magnets that can attract and repel depending upon which pole is which. Without you I am a dog barking in the back yard at the neighbor's cat. The sliver of the moon was like a sliver of a piece of moon shaped silver paper pasted upon the sky if the sky were something you could paste a moon shaped sliver of silver paper upon. The words flowed from my head like urine flows in the middle of the night from an old guy with prostate issues. Bad writing is like sweat drops on paper. Images swirled in left side of my head in the same way that water goes down a toilet when you flush it in the northern hemisphere -- clockwise. Bad metaphors are the irritating screech of chalk on a blackboard and then you have to get the chalk dust off your fingers. I think I have discovered that I am a pretty good bad writer and hope to work on that.......see my Ch. 1 thru Ch. 5 Has Anybody Seen My Picasso, in several earlier blogs. Here's the first paragraph of Ch. 1: "It was 10 am and I’d just gotten to my office. I was on the third floor of a five story. I walked up the stairs because the elevator still didn’t work even though the super had promised me he’d have it fixed by now. He’d promised me he’d have the cracked window pane in my office window fixed by now as well, but that was still cracked. The crack meandered across the lower left corner of the window like the drunk on the sidewalk below outside the bar with the red neon sign in the window that said “bar.” The crack had no real destination like many of those people I could see on the street below. I hadn’t really laid into the super because he rented me this dump cheap and I had been doing some private dick work for him in exchange for the last several months’ rent." The "crack meandered" is a metaphor and "like the drunk on the sidewalk below outside the bar with the red neon sign in the window that said 'bar'" is a simile. Later I wrote a character "wore lipstick like a Ritz cracker wears cheez whiz." I think that is pretty good bad writing. I was aiming for a blend of Dashiel Hammett and Bulwar Lytton. A friend of mine said is was like a combination of Joe Friday and Garrison Keillor. * * * * * * * * ** * Zane Grey used this wonderful description in riders of the Purple Sage: “The glorious sunlight filled the valley with purple fire. Before him, to left, to right, waving, rolling, sinking, rising, like low swells of a purple sea, stretched the sage.” Nebraska poet Ted Kooser said this of trees: "the trees like gnarled magicians/produce handkerchiefs/of leaves out of empty branches." Roy Batty, android nemisis of Bladerunner Harrison Ford, said this at the end of his four year life span atop the drizzled, bleak, Ray Bradbury Hotel, "All these moments are lost in time, like tears in the rain." Such wonderful metaphors and similes capturing scenery, and the magic of trees, and the transience of life. Robert Ludlum in one of his spy/action thrillers described a hilly, craggy landscape as "the fingerprints of God." Wow. Raymond Chandler wrote: "She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight" – Little Sister. A bit of a synaesthetic metaphor, mixing the senses, but nicely done. And lastly, my friend Greg Kosmicki wrote one of my favorites of all time: "After supper, washed the dishes/saw rain push down a leaf/here and there/ as if typing out a message. I'm sure it was./It's a language we can't live long enough to learn." from - "Message" in It's as Good Here as it Gets Anywhere. I hope that some of us live long enough and wisely enough to learn a word or two of that language.

Friday, January 06, 2017

Fourteen Days

NASA reports Asteroid Trump will impact directly upon North America on Jan. 20, 2017. "This asteroid is approaching fast and will be a life-ending event for many. Advise staying indoors, in a basement if you can. Prayer is recommended. This could be a bad one folks. We're talking extinction of the dinosaurs serious. You can expect widespread devastation, especially in heavily populated areas," a NASA spokesperson said.

Sunday, January 01, 2017


Fake News Alert – The following is half truthy and half wit, as am I. It may or may not be mildly amusing. ........Donald Trump pummeled his Mar-a-Lago caddie with a hybrid fairway metal after the caddie, Jose Fuentes, gave him an incorrect yardage yesterday on Hole 12 at Trump's Florida golf resort Saturday. The caddie, 43, and the father of five, is in critical condition at a local hospital with a skull fracture and severe lacerations about the head. Kellyanne Conway, Trump's spokesperson and trusted advisor said, "Donald is a passionate man, and after he ejected a critical biographer of Trump who was in a foursome with one of the Koch brothers from the course, he was having a terrific round until the mistaken yardage was given," Conway said. "I mean, who wouldn't be angry?" she said. The Koch brother, a member of Trump's country club, and his guest were escorted from the course by Trump's private security force and were seen driving away with the rest of that group's foursome, including the writer of the critical biography. "He's a lousy golfer, anyway," Trump was heard to say about the biographer. "Can't write either." Trump was also heard to say, "You're fired," to Mr. Fuentes as he beat him about the head. "I'd have hit my hybrid 7 metal if you'd given me the right yardage. And you can forget about that green card." Trump was later seen with boxing promoter Don King, who stepped in as Trump's caddie, holding a Russian flag stick for Trump on the 17th green as Donald lined up a putt. "It's like Mr. Trump said about the UN the other day," Conway concluded. "Things will be different starting Jan. 20. And by the way, in regard to Mr. Fuentes, it's not a crime if the President does it." * * * * * * * * * * * I spent New Year's Eve with a nasty cold, tissue stuffed up both nostrils, watching "12 Monkeys," a favorite Bruce Willis movie of mine. I'm hoping 2017 improves. * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Noting that Australia celebrated the New Year before America did, Donald Trump has vowed to move the international dateline and make America first in 2018. "It'll be tremendous," he said. "And why does China get its own new year? America should be first because we are great again." * * * * * * * * *I think there's a 50% chance Trump will get us into a war accidentally --- and a 50% chance he will get us into a war on purpose. * * * * * * * * On another subject, I saw a fb post that said the etymology of the word "dog" was uncertain, and lo and behold, I checked the Oxford English Dictionary and several words for animals ending in the voiced velar plosive "g" have uncertain etymologies: dog, stag, frog, pig. Who knew? * * * * * * * * * * * And seriously, to all who lost loved ones in 2016, my condolences. To all who found a loved one or ones in 2016, congratulations! Personally, I am hoping for fewer of the former and one or more of the latter in 2017. Happy New Year.