Monday, August 31, 2015

Things That Make Linguists' Heads Explode

The venerable Oxford English Dictionary was recently updated, adding a list of new words that have gained usage traction since the last update. The new adds include:

Manspreading - ‘the practice whereby a man, especially one traveling on public transport, adopts a sitting position with his legs wide apart, in such a way as to encroach on an adjacent seat or seats.’

Cakeage - ‘a charge made by a restaurant for serving a cake that they have not supplied themselves.’ We had a major experience with this new word earlier this year, when the restaurant at which we had a small reception after the funeral of Agnes's father ordered three cakes for the guests, then charged us not for the cakes, but for each slice of each cake.

Rage-Quit - to ‘angrily abandon an activity or pursuit that has become frustrating, particularly a video game.’

Butt Dial - to call someone accidentally when sitting by compressing the buttons on a mobile phone carried in a rear pocket.

These new terms are all interesting and useful in context. There is one, however, that is just completely and utterly silly and - in my humble opinion - a ridiculous example of political correctness gone bizarrely wrong. I refer, of course, to the term Mx.

There was a time, not so long ago, when "MX" referred to a type of deadly intercontinental ballistic nuclear missile. Today, however, it is used as an utterly gender-neutral honorific before a person's name, replacing the "sexist" honorifics Mr, Miss, and Mrs, and replacing even Ms, which was itself supposed to be a neutral feminine honorific (there being no distinction between married and unmarried men with the use of Mr for both).

Mx??  Mx?? For pete's sake, how would you even pronounce it?

Now, don't get me wrong ... I have no problem with getting rid of things that might lead to discrimination. But I think we've gone off the linguistic deep end with this one.

This is an Mx ...

This is not ...

Any questions? If so, please call 1-800-GET LIFE.

Have a good day, regardless of your preferred method of gender identity.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Poetry Sunday

One of the reasons I love poetry is that poems offer such a range of feeling and imagery. Sometimes they bring a feeling of peace, sometimes of joy, and sometimes they just make you stop and think deeper thoughts than we might otherwise have. This short poem by Dan Albergotti uses some unsettling imagery to describe feelings of loss ...

by Dan Albergotti 

In the lake, the cottonmouth. In the sea, the shark.
In the soil, the growing seed. In the tree, the lark.
In the dark, the insects’ call. In the light, the trust.
In the child, the weight of years. In the steel, the rust.
In the dust, the memory. In the air, your soul.
In my head, the unsaid words. In the diamond, coal.
In the hole, your polished box. In the earth, the quake.
In my blood, your vessel ran. In these lines, its wake.

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, August 29, 2015

Cartoon Saturday

We've almost made it to the end of August ... sometimes I thought we'd never get here ...

In Virginia, a "disgruntled" former employee of a television station murdered two of his former co-workers - live, on the air - posted video of it to his social media accounts, then shot himself when police tried to arrest him*; in Austria, more than 70 refugees were found dead in an abandoned truck; The Air Force announced that a fire that resulted in more than $62 million in damage to a sophisticated reconnaissance aircraft was caused by ... a loose nut**; in Taiwan, a 12 year-old boy visiting a museum tripped and punched through a 17th-century painting valued at more than $1.5 million; and in Rome, a former high-ranking Vatican official accused of pedophilia and possession of child pornography has died, apparently from natural causes.

I don't know about you, but I really need the weekend ... and for now, the cartoons.

This week, the smoke of the terrible wildfires that have been scorching the western states inspired me to select "smoke signals" for our collection of theme cartoons ...

I guess it's as annoying as it is online ...

Sigh ... kids ...

Sexting with smoke signals ...

Hmmm ... how would you encrypt a smoke signal?

Smoke signals also work as social media ...

Back off, Kemo Sabe ...

Moving on to other topics, I loved this one ...

Very perceptive, that Mr Barnum ...

There are different kinds of quacks ...

I wonder when Faux News will make this change? ...

And that's it for this week's edition of Cartoon Saturday. It should be a nice day here in NoVa, if a bit warmer and more humid than the last few days, which were spectacular, weather-wise. Agnes will be coming back from Germany this coming week, and later this morning I'll be headed out with the local grandchildren to a dig/pick-it-yourself farm to stock up on apples, peaches, potatoes, and whatever else we can dig or pick. Should be fun. Hope your weekend is the same.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Poetry Sunday ... more thoughts then.


* Guns don't kill people, people kill people. With guns.

** No, not Donald Trump or Rush Limbaugh.

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Left Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2015

How quickly time passes! It's time to name our

Left Cheek Ass Clown
August 2015

and the winner is ...

Potential GOP Presidential Candidate

Jeb Bush

During an election season it can be extraordinarily difficult to sort the wheat of supreme ass clownery from the chaff of ordinary political buffoonery. This time the choice was relatively straightforward as Mr Bush took careful aim at his foot and blasted away, taking the opportunity to antagonize not one, but two significant groups of potential supporters: Hispanics and Asians.

At a campaign event in McAllen, Texas this past Monday, Mr Bush was asked by reporters from both the English and Spanish-language press about his use of the term anchor babies* in a radio interview last week. In trying to “clarify” his use of the term and avoid antagonizing Hispanic voters (like, for example, his wife), he said,

"What I was talking about was the specific case of fraud being committed where there's organized efforts -- and frankly it's more related to Asian people -- coming into our country, and having children, in that organized effort, taking advantage of a noble concept, which is birthright citizenship.”

Mr Bush went on to add,

"I support the 14th amendment.”

He has evidently not paid attention to the common wisdom that when one is at the bottom of a hole, one should stop digging.

For his graceless attempt to reconcile shameless pandering to the GOP base with not antagonizing ethnic voters, Jeb Bush is named our Left Cheek Ass Clown for August, 2015.

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday … more thoughts then.


* For those of you outside the US and perhaps unfamiliar with the term, it refers to a child born within the United States to parents who are not legal residents of the country. Under the terms of Section 1 of the 14th Amendment to our Constitution, the child automatically has US citizenship by right of birth, allowing the parents to plead for citizenship on the basis of their child's status (an anchor, if you will, to keep them in the US). The term is generally considered derogatory, particularly by those who either abuse, or support the abuse of, the privilege of birthright citizenship.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

What's in a Name?

You may have seen this article on CNN yesterday: The Most Popular Baby Names Are ...

The Social Security Administration publishes an annual list of the most popular baby names because ... well ... why not? You can read the list for 2014 at their website here, and you can read my comments below.

First of all, I note with great satisfaction that William is the fifth place male name. I'm sure it would be higher on the list, but we Williams* are generous fellows, and don't like to show up everyone else.

The first-place male name is Noah ... a fine name which happens also to be the name of my youngest grandson.

On the female name side, the fifth-place name is Ava ... a beautiful name which is also the name of my youngest granddaughter. Emily, in seventh place, is the name of my beautiful little niece in Germany.

The CNN article also offers for comparison the most popular baby names in the United Kingdon, where Ava comes in at number six on the list for girls and William at number ten for boys. Noah, sadly, doesn't make the top ten in the UK, although Tyrion (from the popular character in the books and TV series "Game of Thrones") is said to be popular.

The names we give to our children are important, because they'll have to answer to them for a long time. I wrote a cautionary post on this topic back in 2013, which you can read here. To all my friends who are pregnant or may become pregnant in the future, think carefully about the name you choose ...

Have a good day. Come back tomorrow when we will announce the name of our Left Cheek Ass Clown of the Month ... whose name does not appear on either the US or UK top-ten list.

More thoughts then.


* Yes, my real name is William, but you can call me "your eminence." Or my other preferred title, about which you can read here. You can read about my search for a suitable coat of arms to go with the title here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Things We Expect, and the Things We Don't

An interesting thing happened to me the other day.

I had gone into a local book store to buy some books for my granddaughter*. After leaving the bookstore I ran a few more errands, and arrived home an hour or so later. On unpacking the bag from the bookstore, I discovered that the clerk had put into the bag not only my receipt, but also the charge slip I'd signed.

I had to go out again later for something else, so I drove back to the bookstore and went to customer service to give them the signed charge slip.

Well ...

They were shocked that I'd brought it back. The look on the clerk's face was one of amazement, as was that on the face of the manager who came out in response to her summons ... she fell all over herself thanking me for bringing it back. As I walked away, I could hear them still chattering and expressing surprise that I'd actually brought back the charge slip.

So, here's my question: when did we start being amazed by someone who tries to do the Right Thing? Have we become so used to poor, selfish behavior, with everyone looking out for Number One, that the Right Thing actually shocks us?

Now, I'm not trying to portray myself as a paragon of good behavior, but I do try to live the values of honesty and fair play that my parents taught us, and to pass them on to my children and grandchildren. It's not always easy, but if we don't do it ourselves, how can we expect good behavior of others ... especially our political class?

Have a good day. Do the right thing.

More thoughts tomorrow.


* The Day the Crayons Quit, The Day the Crayons Came Home, and The Book with No Pictures.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Random Observations

Courtesy of my old friend Ken, here are a few random ... if odd ... observations:

The location of your mailbox shows you how far away from your house you can be in a robe before you start looking like a mental patient.

My therapist says my narcissism causes me to misread social situations. I'm pretty sure she was hitting on me.

My 60 year kindergarten reunion is coming up soon; now I'm worried about the 210 pounds I've gained.

I'm getting really tired of always having to slowly raise my hand when someone says, "Who does something like that?”

I wonder what the job application is like at Hooters . . . do they just give you a bra and say, "Here, fill this out"?

The speed in which a woman says "Nothing" when asked "What's wrong?" is inversely proportional to the severity of the shit storm that's coming.

If I make you breakfast in bed, a simple "Thank you" is all I need. Enough already with the "How did you get in my house?" business.

On average, an American man will have sex two to three times a week, whereas a Japanese man will have sex only one or two times a year. This pisses me off. I had no idea I was Japanese.

I can't understand why women are okay with the fact that JC Penny has line of clothing for mature women called "Sag Harbor."

I think it's pretty cool how the Chinese made a language entirely out of tattoos.

When I die I want to be reincarnated as a spider, just so I can finally hear a women scream "Oh God, it's huge!"

As you can see, I have ... interesting ... friends. Thanks, Ken, for the observations. Do you have any others? Leave a comment.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


Monday, August 24, 2015

Medieval Chemistry

If you ever studied science in school, you were introduced to the famous and endlessly useful Periodic Table of the Elements, which arranges the known elements by their atomic numbers, and groups them according to their general properties. The first generally-accepted Periodic Table was developed by Russian scientist Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869, and the current version looks like this:

Now, while the Periodic Table has many uses for scientists, it also lends itself to modification for humorous purposes. For instance, back in August of 2008, I featured a version I'd found called "Dapperstache's Periodic Table of Awesoments," which you can revisit here, and Miss Cellania wrote an article for Mental Floss in 2013 that featured nine Periodic Table parodies, with links to many others.

But one of the best versions I've seen in a long time is this one, which popped up recently as a Facebook post from one of my friends - it's Ye Olde Periodic Table:

Yes, it was much easier to be a chemist back then, when there were only four elements to worry about, and no bothersome oversight by the jack-booted government thugsTM of the FDA and the EPA digging through all your test results and worrying about job-killingTM things like safety and the environment ...

Have a good day. It's element-ary, after all.

More thoughts tomorrow.


Sunday, August 23, 2015

Poetry Sunday

Yesterday was the anniversary of the birthday (in 1893) of American writer, poet, and critic Dorothy Parker, known for her razor-sharp wit and acid tongue. In a review of the novel Beauty and the Beast, by Kathleen Norris, she wrote, "I'm much better now, in fact, than I was when we started. I wish you could have heard that pretty crash Beauty and the Beast made when, with one sweeping, liquid gesture, I tossed it out of my twelfth-story window." It was also Ms Parker who was famous for such comments as "Brevity is the soul of lingerie," and for this excuse as to why she had not turned in an article on time - "Someone else was using the pencil." She also wrote a number of poems, among them this one that, I think, captures her personality perfectly:

Neither Bloody nor Bowed 
by Dorothy Parker 

They say of me, and so they should,
It's doubtful if I come to good.
I see acquaintances and friends
Accumulating dividends
And making enviable names
In science, art and parlor games.
But I, despite expert advice,
Keep doing things I think are nice,
And though to good I never come
Inseparable my nose and thumb.

I never knew Dorothy Parker, but I think I'd have liked her.

Have a good day, and enjoy the rest of your weekend. More thoughts tomorrow.


Saturday, August 22, 2015

Cartoon Saturday

There are five Saturdays in August this year. This is the fourth. And if you're like me, you need the cartoons ...

The US stock market plunged by a dramatic 531points yesterday, marking its biggest loss of the year and its worst week since 2011, and other major indexes around the world also fell for the week and most are negative for the month; three Americans on a French train, including two Service members, attacked and subdued a man armed with an AK-47 and hundreds of rounds of ammunition, probably averting a massacre; every year since 1963, the Japanese government has presented each citizens turning 100 a commemorative silver cup worth about $65, but with 29,357 persons turning 100 in 2014 alone, Japan can no longer afford the estimated 260 million yen ($2.1 million) cost, and is considering less expensive options; a rally in Mobile, Alabama, attracted 30,000 supporters of Donald Trump's presidential campaign ... in other news, roving packs of zombies in search of brains went elsewhere; and tensions in Korea continued, with North Korea continuing its bombastic barrage of threats even as representatives of the North and South met to try to defuse the escalating situation.

In honor of the miserable state of the stock market, today's collection of theme cartoons deals with that mainstay of middle-class economics: loans ...

You have to know what the terms mean before you fill out that loan application ...

Here's another example ...

This is probably how the question really ought to be phrased ...

This one reminds me of the old joke about the loan officer being a person who is happy to lend you his umbrella, but wants it back as soon as it starts raining ...

Most of mine were like this ...

Applying for a loan really is a pretty straightforward and simple process ...

But enough about loan misery ... let's move on to some other topics. I thought this was a great historical look at the traditional vacation picture ...

If you're on Facebook like I am, you get used to the sorts of things your friends post ... especially the fitness nuts who have to let you know how far they ran, how may Buicks they bench-pressed, how many laps they swam, or ...

We finish up with two cartoons taking different looks at the common shepherd. There's nothing like a little high-tech to make things easy ...

I wonder if he really needed the financial advisor ...

And that's it for the fourth Cartoon Saturday in August. I hope you enjoyed my attempt to help you survive another week of bad news, political buffoonery, and overall chaos. Yesterday was a glorious day here in NoVa, weather-wise, and today looks to offer more of the same, but with a bit more humidity. It looks like a great day for a nice long walk ... I think I'll see if Clara is available for a date, since Agnes will be in Germany for another week and a half.

Have a good day and a great weekend, and come back tomorrow for Poetry Sunday. More thoughts then. 


Friday, August 21, 2015

Great Moments in Editing

Yes, Dear Readers, it's that time again ... time to get in touch with your inner editor and enjoy a new collection of Great Moments in Editing*!

Well, that's one way to earn extra credit ...

I guess it depends on who's wearing it ...

And this is surprising how ... ?

I'll pass, thank you ...

I'd worry if it leaked when it didn't rain ...

So I've heard ...

You have to wonder who's in charge of counting up the end-of-day receipts ...

I wonder if she found one yet ...

Well, it would be, wouldn't it? ...

It's nice they let Ben and Alex play with the big boys ...

Doing my part for keeping editors and proofreaders fully employed ... it's the least I can do.

Have a good day. See you tomorrow for Cartoon Saturday - more thoughts then.


* Okay, they aren't all true editorial errors, but somebody let them get into print, right?

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Dental Economics, or the Tooth, the Whole Tooth, and Nothing but the Tooth

Let's talk about the economics of teeth, shall we?

There were two things that led me to ... uh ... sink my teeth into this topic. The first was a letter from my dental insurance company, proudly announcing that I can get dependable and affordable dental coverage* when I retire (I have dental insurance through my employer now). This is one of the many things I have to worry about as I approach the age of full geezerhood, along with finding affordable medical care, affordable food, affordable housing, and pants that belt up under my armpits. I'm just glad to know that my elected reprehensives of both parties are working hard on the issue: the GOP is working hard to maximize profits and minimize costs for the insurance companies and the medical care industry, while the Democrats are working hard to provide Real People with the best possible care without regard for how it gets paid for. Good luck with all that.

The other thing that got me to thinking about teeth was this article: Tooth Fairy Tightens Purse Strings, Pays Less Per Tooth.

It seems that the Tooth Fairy**, that cheap bastard, is cutting back on payments to children for their lost teeth. According to the article:

"After hitting a high of $3.70 per tooth in 2013, [the Tooth Fairy's] average payout dropped to $3.43 in 2014 and is down yet again to $3.19 this year, according to a new survey by Visa. And she clearly favors the rich. Kids in families who make less than $75,000 a year are getting just $3.07 per tooth, while kids in families who earn more are averaging $3.46, reports UPI. She also has a thing for the Northeast, where kids enjoy the highest average return of $3.56 per tooth; kids suffer the most in the South, where a tooth goes for just $3.07."

Well, hell! ... I remember Little Bilbo and his siblings back in the 50's getting a dime for a regular tooth and a quarter for a molar. Times change, don't they?

And - believe it or not - there is also a "Tooth Fairy Calculator App" available at the iTunes app store to help you calculate the proper payout for a particular tooth, based on gender, education, state, age, family size, marital status and household income.

And finally, there's the GOP tooth fairy ...

But that's enough biting sarcasm for now.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* Luckily, eye care is presently covered under my medical insurance (also provided through my employer), which will help me read the fine print in the offer from the dental insurance company.

** Not to be confused with the somewhat more sinister "Tooth Fairy" in the Thomas Harris thriller Red Dragon.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

A Rant About Elevators and Rents

I haven't had a good rant lately, and I think I'm about due. Bear with me on this one for a while, because it's going to take a while ...

First off, there was an article a while back in the Washington Post about a DC hardware store, a longtime neighborhood landmark, that is closing after 35 years in business because of skyrocketing rent for the store space. The owner noted that his rent has nearly doubled in the last three years, and said that "When the rent is so high, it becomes very hard to make money."

Well, not for everybody. It seems to me that the person who owns the store space is making lots of money. He just makes it by soaking the hell out of his renters, who have to pass the costs on down to their customers who - being at the bottom of the economic food chain - have to eat it because they can't pass their increased living expenses on to anyone else.

Which leads us to my rant about rents and the failures of those who charge them ...

I rent a 10-by-10 foot, non-climate controlled storage space in a local self-storage facility that's part of a nationwide chain. I've been renting this space for a very long time, and one of the most reliable facts of life is that every July, the rent I pay for that space goes up. Last year it went up by $19 per month. This year it went up by $16 per month. Per month, that may not seem so bad, but it works out to a lot of money over the course of a year*.

Now, back in January, 2014, I was taking all of our Christmas decorations back to the storage unit to put away until the following season. I was riding up in the wheezing, creaking freight elevator and happened to notice that the elevator inspection certificate would expire at the end of that month.

I didn't think about that for a while, but when I needed to get some things out of the storage unit a few months later, I noticed that the elevator inspection certificate was still the one that expired the previous January. On the way out, I mentioned it to the on-site manager, who faithfully assured me that the elevator was safe and they were working the issue.

My rent having just gone up, I was a little upset that they couldn't handle something so ordinary (and legally required, per county ordinance) as an elevator inspection, and so I made it a point to check that certificate each month when I went in to pay the rent. Each month, I got the same response - a variation on "don't worry, it's safe, we're working on it."

I was pretty well fed up by the time January 31st of 2015 rolled around, the inspection certificate had been expired for a full year, and I was tired of getting stonewalled by the on-site manager. In March, I sent an e-mail to the company's district manager, asking when the elevator would be inspected and certified safe ... and I enclosed a picture I'd taken of the expired certificate.

I received no response to the e-mail. I told the on-site manager that if I received another rent increase notice and the elevator hadn't been inspected, I'd report the whole thing to the Better Business Bureau (BBB). She made all the right noises and assured me (as she had each month up to that point) that she was keeping the district manager informed, but nothing happened.

Sure enough, at the end of May came the post card from the company, announcing the usual rent increase, effective July 1st. I duly submitted a complaint to the Better Business Bureau, including a copy of my unanswered e-mail to the district manager and a copy of the photo of the expired inspection certificate ... now nearly a year and a half out of date.

The BBB promptly acknowledged receipt of my complaint, and then things went dark for about another two weeks ... at which time I got another e-mail from the BBB, telling me they had referred my complaint to one of their offices in California! I called the local point of contact at the BBB to ask why my local problem was not being handled locally, and he told me that their procedure was to refer all such issues to the BBB office located nearest the home office of the company concerned, which in this case was in Glendale, California.

The issue sat there for another week, at which time the California BBB office sent me an e-mail to tell me they'd assigned a case number, and referred me to their website where I could track the resolution of the issue. Two weeks later, the website announced that the case had been closed ... with no further explanation or information. And, needless to say, no contact from the storage company.

I managed to find a phone number for the local district manager of the storage company, and called him directly. There was, of course, no answer, and so I left a detailed message on the answering machine, giving a brief history of the complaint and noting that he had never responded to my earlier e-mail request for information.

A few days later, the district manager called me back. Here's what he said:

1. He'd only been in the job for a few months, so he couldn't tell me why things were the way they were and he wasn't to blame. He was working with a company to fix the elevator so it would pass the inspection, but the paperwork on display would probably continue to be out of date because the inspectors had to do that part, and he couldn't control how they did their jobs.

2. He had no control over the rent I was charged, which was set at the national level and depended on a lot of factors like the zip code, the space size, proximity of the space to the elevator, the phase of the moon, the latitude and longitude of the Playboy Mansion, and the value in Greek drachmas of five square yards of linoleum**.

3. He told me that although he didn't have the authority to reduce the rent I was being charged, I could pay less if I cancelled the contract for the space I have now, rented a different space of the same size in the same facility for the new renter's introductory price, and moved all my stuff.

I told him that was stupid. His response was the equivalent of a take-it-or-leave-it shrug.

And today - August 19th, 2015 - the elevator inspection certificate has been expired for more than a year and a half, in which time my rent has been raised twice and I've been casually farted off by both the storage company and the Better Business Bureau ... which is supposed to be looking out for my interests, ha, ha.

But that's life in a capitalist system. If the GOP should win the next election and keep kissing the backsides of big business interests, there'll be no point in complaining about rising prices, lousy customer service, or jobs shipped overseas, because when the ruling party worships at the festooned altar of the Holy Church of the Mystical Job Creator***, Joe Consumer is completely unimportant and beneath notice.

Unless, of course, he's late with his rent ... in which case he gets plenty of notice.

And my rent will continue to go up every July, whether or not that elevator is ever repaired and inspected.

End of rant. I'll let you know if the elevator is ever fixed.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* The obvious solution, of course, is to get rid of most of the stuff that's stored there. Unfortunately, for a lot of reasons that's not an option.

** He really didn't put it that way, but his explanations made about as much sense.

*** Let me hear you say, "Hallelujah!" ... then look around for all those jobs they're supposed to have created.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Favorite Movie Scenes

There's an Internet meme that pops up from time to time asking one to name one's favorite movie scenes. I don't usually like to do memes (because they end up getting you tagged for millions of other memes, most of which are stupid or uninteresting), but I rather liked this one because I love movies. In this regard, I'm right up there with one of my favorite singing groups, the Statler Brothers ...

And so I'll share with you, Dear Readers, some of my favorite movie scenes (and I apologize in advance for some of the ads that come up before the clip starts ... they're a pain, but they're the price of YouTube) ...

From "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King": in the face of overwhelming odds, King Theoden* rallies his troops at the siege of Gondor:

The first 20 minutes of "Saving Private Ryan":

The battle between the Enterprise and the Reliant in "Start Trek: The Wrath of Khan"**:

Taylor finds the wreckage of the Statue of Liberty on the beach in "Planet of the Apes":

Although it's no longer politically correct nowadays to honor or show any sympathy for those who fought for the Confederacy, this scene of Pickett's Charge from the movie "Gettysburg" has to call forth respect for the courage of those who charged at the Union line:

And finally, from the same film but from the other side's perspective, the 20th Maine on Little Round Top, outnumbered and out of ammunition, routs the Confederate attack with a bayonet charge led by ... of all people ... General Joshua Chamberlain, an English professor from Bowdoin College:

I have a lot of other "favorite" scenes ... what are some of yours? Leave a comment.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.


* I love the acting by Bernard Hill ... the way his expression starts with one of desperation and horror, then sets into one of, "screw you, orcs, we're coming for your heads!"

** The starships are much better actors than William Shatner.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Guest Post

Hi, folks! It's me again, Clara, Bilbo and Agnes's granddog.

I haven't had a chance to post for a while*, because I've been in the doghouse (literally) after eating the living room couch at home. There's no Internet connection in my doghouse out in the yard, so I had to wait until I had a chance to visit Bilbo and Agnes again. They're still asleep, so I have a chance to give you another dog's-eye view of things.

First of all, if you have a dog or a child of your own, I hope you're paying attention to the heat this summer and not leaving him (or her) in the car unattended. We can suffer and die very quickly in a hot car, so please be sure you know what you're doing. We dogs will happily give our lives to protect you and your children ... we don't expect you to do the same, but we do expect you to take care of us!

I had a great time this past weekend when we celebrated the birthday of Leya, Bilbo's granddaughter and one of the children I watch over. It was a pool party on a hot day, and they let me go in the pool and have snacks and everything. I'm a pit bull, and we're not usually water dogs, but a hot day brings out my inner Retriever. It was especially fun when the kids would throw things into the pool and let me dive in after them. Is this a great dive or what?

Of course, it's not easy doing all that swimming and playing and protecting the children and policing up all the food that happens to fall to the ground ... even a dedicated and hard-working dog like me needs a rest once in a while!

Well, I guess that's it for now. I know that this is what you humans call an "election season," and that means that a lot of people do a lot of talking without having much worthwhile to say. We dogs aren't like that. When we bark, it's because we have something important to say. It might be something as simple as "there's a dog on guard here, so stay out" or as important as "the children are in danger!", but we don't bark just for the sake of barking, like that stupid Trump guy.

As Bilbo would say, have a good day. He'll be back tomorrow.

Until then, arf!


* You can read my last post here, in case you missed it.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Poetry Sunday

Sometimes, amid the hectic pace of modern life and the demands of work, family, and political chicanery, it's good to just chill and think about the simple things, as Henry David Thoreau would encourage you to do ...

by Henry David Thoreau 

Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity! I say, let your affairs be as
two or three, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail …
I find it wholesome to be alone the greater part of the time.
To be in company, even with the best, is soon wearisome
and dissipating. I love to be alone. I never found the
companion that was so companionable as solitude …
If one advances confidently in the direction of his
dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has
imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in
common hour …

A single gentle rain makes the grass many shades greener.
So our prospects brighten on the influx of better thoughts.
We should be blessed if we lived in the present always, and
took advantage of every accident that befell us. Sometimes, in
a summer morning, having taken my accustomed bath, I sat in my
sunny doorway from sunrise till noon, rapt in a revery, amidst the
pines and hickories and sumachs, in undisturbed solitude and
stillness, while the birds sing around or flitted noiseless through
the house, until by the sun falling in at my west window, or the
noise of some traveller’s wagon on the distant highway, I was
reminded of the lapse of time.

The line in this poem that speaks of "a single gentle rain (that) makes the grass many shades greener" reminds me of one of my most vivid memories: we were all very young, it had been raining, and we were piled into the car to go with my father to visit one of his friends who had been making a very specialized prop he needed for an advertising picture*. This fellow lived in the Oakland section of Pittsburgh, and as we turned down his street, lined with trees and hedges and flowers, I was amazed at the tremendously vivid, sharp colors of everything in the damp left by the morning rain. I can still see that picture today, many years later.

Have a good day, and enjoy what remains of your weekend. Simply.

More thoughts tomorrow.


*An interesting story in itself.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Cartoon Saturday

We're 50% of the way through August ...

A White House staffer was arrested this week after firing shots at her boyfriend, a police officer - with his own gun - in a fit of rage after accusing him of infidelity; an enormous explosion devastated large areas of the Chinese city of Tianjin, killing more than 60 people, injuring another 700 or more, and leaving an estimated 6,000 homeless; in Paraguay, an 11-year-old girl has given birth to a healthy baby girl after she was denied an abortion after allegedly being raped by her stepfather; political gadfly and long-shot presidential wannabe Donald Trump received a summons to report for jury duty ... but having ignored five other summons over the last nine years, there's no telling if he'll deign to appear; and because we don't have enough current political sex scandals, a DNA test has reportedly proven that Warren Harding, who was president from 1921 until his death in 1923, had an affair and fathered a "love child" with a woman 31 years younger than he (although the affair took place before he was elected president).

Warren Harding? Seriously? I need some good cartoons.

This week, for no reason other than it seemed like a good idea at the time, our theme cartoons feature chickens ... not just any chickens, but free-range chickens ...

Even a chicken needs to make good campaign speeches ...

Or have a swinging relationship ...

Well yes, that would be a good indication ...

But the ball and chain is so old-fashioned ...

Of course, I suppose it's possible to be too free-range ...

Or maybe not ...

Moving on to other topics, I thought this was a great comic commentary on "reality" TV ...

So, sir, what was your first clue? ...

One can be a bit too good of a listener ...

Finally, this would be my favorite part of New York, too ...

And there you have it ... our third Cartoon Saturday for the month of August. It looks going to be a nice weekend here in NoVa, with beautiful weather both days and a visit to Washington's Mandarin Oriental Hotel for a formal High Tea on Sunday afternoon for granddaughter Leya's eighth birthday. It was her idea.

Have a good day and a great weekend. Come back tomorrow for Poetry Sunday.

More thoughts then.