Sunday, July 22, 2018

Baiting the editor










Dear Magazine Editor:



I understand that a mainstay of your business is the celebrity interview. And as much as I would like to publish with you my essays exploring the nature of my essays, I understand we would have to work up to that.

I am willing to come up through the ranks!

I am willing to interview all kinds of celebrities for you, so long as it is on Thursday early afternoons, and they're willing to come to my neighborhood.

But "Hey," You cry. "How do I know you can handle one of these tricky celebrity interviews?"

It's an excellent question, and, with your perspicacity, I can easily see how you got to be a Magazine Editor, which is probably not an easy job to pull down. I have this question for myself as well. 

The problem is that, what with the death of Prince, there are no celebrities for me to interview here. The closest thing I have to celebrities in my neighborhood are flowers. And so I have been practicing on flowers. 

I am getting very good at interviewing the flowers.

"What," You wonder. "Do the flowers have to say?"

Oh man, wouldn't you like to know!




I look forward to discussing this with you some more,

Yours truly,



Feldenstein Calypso







Saturday, July 21, 2018

Internet advice









As you know I post a new little essay here on this blog every single morning at 8:30 without fail. I have done so for over five years. This, this faultless consistency is the secret of building up my readership to an astonishing eleven readers, possibly even fourteen readers. I'm not sure exactly. I get confused with blog statistics once the numbers soar into the outlandish double digits. But prospective bloggers take note, whether you are tired, without hope, out of ideas, or sick as a dog, you've got to get out there day after day and

What's that?

There are no perspective bloggers here today?

You mean to tell me that out of as many as 14 readers (well, 12 if we don't count either myself or myself using a pseudonym) not a single one of them is a prospective blogger?

Well that's a relief. I am sick of all my good ideas being stolen.

I mean theoretically stolen. It hasn't happened yet, but it could happen any day now.

Which is why I keep all my good ideas to myself. And so does everyone else on the Internet.

I'd advise you to do the same.

Don't tell anyone I told you.








Friday, July 20, 2018

The Faith of Donald J. Trump, a book review







The Faith of Donald J. Trump, by David Brody and Scott Lamb.



You might think this is not a real book. But oh, it is a real book. It is at my library! It was written by David Brody and Scott Lamb, who, I understand, are real people. And it looks just like a real book. I have opened this book up and it is full of words. Words! And you can know it as a book from the fact of these words much like you can know a tuna fish sandwich is a tuna fish sandwich by opening it up and finding it full of tuna fish, hopefully mixed with a great deal of nice mayonnaise, and possibly with some chopped up celery and a slice of purple onion. Mmmm.

But I digress.

And you might think, "Fine, The Faith of Donald J. Trump is a real book, but it is a joke book."

I understand.

But listen to this: I read the introduction to this book by a man named Eric Metaxas and that is what he thought too! He thought maybe it was a joke book! Then, apparently, after that part was frankly confessed, he took his soul out into an alley and clubbed it to death, at which point he finished writing his forward because that is what you do for your friends and for your career, and who am I to argue against that?

Now before I begin my review proper of this book you are probably wondering if, on the face of it, making no judgments on the text, this is the most patently insane book my library has ever acquired for its collection.

Yes, actually. Yes it is.

But let us set all that aside and give this book its fair shot. Let us look at this book for what it is and judge it on its own merits.

I read as much of it as I could. I searched and searched for its merits. I kept an eye out for hilarious statements as well. Fourteen solid minutes of this! I am unstinting when it comes to research, and fair play.

So are you ready for my scathing petard hoisting? My ripostes and withering lampoonery?

Alas, I must let us all down. Because who am I to judge the faith of another? Who am I to judge the heart of Donald Trump, let alone that of David Brody and Scott Lamb?

I am just one person. Sometimes I think too many things. Sometimes my rage is suspicious, and closed, and too sure.

I take my pass.  I leave it to God...




...who has become too depressed to comment. 

Way too depressed.



























Thursday, July 19, 2018

Making sad songs better








I work with the public at a library. This often includes registering people for library cards which introduces me to various basic facts about them like their full name, address, and birth date. And I have learned that it is okay to comment on these things as long as it is not something these innocent people will have heard all too often in the past. So when Jeff Goldblum comes to the front desk, or Michael Caine, I scrupulously avoid any reference to their more famous counterparts, sure that they will have had more than enough of all that in their lifetimes.

So when I registered a ten year old by the name of Jude, I knew not to start singing. Or to talk about sad songs. I didn't show him how to use our clickable sharpies to sign his library card ("You click here to let it out and let it in"). When I asked him for a 4-digit pin number and he struggled with it I didn't say encouragingly "It's just you, Jude, you'll do."

I only did one tiny thing. Every time I had to ask him for information I used his name, and I always said "Hey" to gently get his attention.

"Hey, Jude, what's your middle initial?"

"Hey, Jude, what year were you born?"

"Hey Jude, I need a four digit number you'll remember for a pin."

I don't think he noticed.

Well, maybe?

Nah.

Nah.

Nah nah nah nah nah, nah nah nah nah.









Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Talks to the animals







Today I communicated with the power of my mind, although conceivably it could have been through the power of a turkey's mind. I remain uncertain as to the power of either of them.

I was biking along the river when I witnessed a large turkey of my acquaintance amble out onto the river road by the University. I hoped the car bearing down on him would see him in time and stop. The car did, with no injury to anyone, and the turkey was completely nonplussed by the whole thing. He never altered his sauntering journey, and the car waited patiently.

I met the turkey's eye. "Why did the turkey cross the road?" I thought, unbidden, searching for a joke.

The turkey met my eye. "Seriously?" He thought. "Seriously?"










Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Death of a library angel










A librarian was printing out a list of rental dvds that needed to be weeded. The printer is back by our phones area and when she came over to pick up her list she cried out. 

Well, she exclaimed, sort of.

Or maybe she said "Huh."

There was an angel on her printout!

She showed it to us, me and another of my co-workers. There was a strange, large piece of inked fuzz, plastered into the paper and almost three dimensionally vivid. It looked exactly, clearly, unmistakably like a gauzy, beautiful, winged angel, albeit one without a head.

We gasped.

"If you took a picture and posted it on Reddit or catholics.com it could go viral!" I exclaimed.

The librarian laughed and wiped the angel away with a damp towel.








Monday, July 16, 2018

The 5 rules I learned watching the world cup









And so after over a month of total dedication here are:




The Five Rules I Learned Watching the World Cup





1. The South American Rule


The road to the finals involves driving over Argentina at some point.

"What was that?" Asks Croatia and France, feeling an alarming thumpity thump under the wheels.

"Argentina."

"Oh." Looking back. "Messy."





2. The Beauty is Transitory the Results are Forever Rule


Don't foul, simulate, rely on luck, dive, or kill the clock, unless, of course, you like winning.





3. The Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain Rule


Once we hit the knockout stages it would take at the most two or three insignificant adjustments of fate to flip any result.





4. The Rule of Rarity


The World Cup is not at the level of Spanish Club Soccer, but it's less lonely to follow and more dramatic to watch.





5. The Stars Are in the Sky for a Reason Rule


Even though football is a team game, you merely need six world class superstars to win a World Cup.


















Sunday, July 15, 2018

The secrets of our collection











A fantastically wealthy man is showing off his gorgeous book collection to a young reporter who is dutifully taking notes. He pulls a weighty and ancient tome almost casually off of one of his towering shelves.

"This little bit of Shakespeare," He drawls "I bought at auction thirty years ago. My first big purchase. Worth quite a fortune now."

"What's this?" The reporter asks, picking up an old letter displayed casually.

The collector chuckles. "Ah, just an old letter from Dickens. Quite amusing really, once you work through his handwriting. There's a bit of a story about how I got it at the most unlikely of estate sales. You see, I was thumbing through some Star Wars Mem..."

But the reporter had drifted away and was poking about looking for more treasures. "Whoa!" He cried out suddenly, full of excitement "I've never even seen one of these before! This must be worth millions! Where on earth did you get this?"

The collector ambles over with a self-satisfied air, and looks down at the book the reporter is raving about. "Ah, that" He says sadly, "I checked that one out from the library last week."












Saturday, July 14, 2018

The evolution of my maturity











Yesterday, what with the recent passing of the notable event of my 2,000th blog post, I listed all the things I do to celebrate anniversaries and milestones on this blog. But, ha ha, my list included only one item: 

1. Talking about myself.



I was just joking.

On the square.


But there are really quite a few things I do and have done to celebrate major blog events here, and with this recent 2,000th blog post I would like to choose from one of them now to commemorate this event. I will try to choose the best one, and I hope you will join me in celebrating.

And so here, from my researches, are the things I have done to celebrate on clerkmanifesto in the past:


1. Complain bitterly about the Internet.

2. Complain bitterly about the 80's meme: "If you build it they will come".

3. Complain bitterly about all the blogging advice I have ever read.

4. Complain bitterly about how things "go viral".

5. Complain bitterly about everyone in the world who doesn't read this blog.

6. Complain about social media.

7. Give out kittens.





You will love him. Please be home between ten and twelve tomorrow morning for delivery. You can name him whatever you want. 
















Friday, July 13, 2018

Number 2002










No, we're not going to start simply numbering our posts. Yes, I have written 2,001 titles previous to this one (you know, for 2,001 essays), but I can still come up with more titles. There's a specific reason for the numbering of today's missive, my 2,002nd. It is not the start of a trend.

Yesterday, in the wake of my 2000th blog post, we were discussing how we celebrate blog milestones around here. I promised to go back into the now voluminous history of clerkmanifesto to check. You promised to wait here. Er, well, I promised on your behalf. Or maybe nobody promised, but then nobody raced to the comments section to cry out:

"NO! Stop. I can't just sit here waiting for dozens of hours! I have to feed my cat at six o'clock!"

Anyway, whatever you ultimately decided to do, I went back into the archives to catalog how I marked significant milestones in this blog's history. I looked at anniversaries (like the 3rd, 4th, and 5th anniversaries), notable post numbers (100, 500, 1,000, that sort of thing), and remarkable achievements (like my, um, tenth subscriber, or my Nobel Prize for Literature (oh how quickly everyone forgets!)).

It turns out that historically I have responded to these occasions in the following ways:


1. Talking about myself.

2.



Oh, okay. I guess that about wraps it up!


Well done! Happy 2,000th post to you. Thanks for reading them all!















Thursday, July 12, 2018

2001 a blog odyssey










I missed it. I wrote my 2,000th blog post yesterday and forgot to mark it in the traditional manner.

"What is the traditional manner?" You ask.

Oh.

Good question. Let me check my 2,000 extant posted essays. This will just take a few dozen hours.

Wait here.










Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Demographics for fun








Up and down the streets and river and creek of my neighborhood, driving the breadth of the Twin Cities in all the wild and mundane pursuits of 27 years of my adulthood, and relentlessly out with the teeming public at the front desk of my large, public library where I work for a living, I feel I have come to know my city with some level of detailed knowledge. So when I am hiking along the Mississippi River in South Minneapolis, in front of the river road houses there all costing between 800,000 and 1.5 million dollars, and I see a lawn sign that says:

I love my Muslim neighbors

while I am right in recognizing the impulse towards decency driving the planting of said sign, I am also quite correct in thinking:

You don't have any Muslim neighbors.







Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Dark humor








I usually corner the market on dark humor at my workplace. But today I was wildly outdone by a longtime co-worker who, while not above an occasional light joke, is hardly the person you would pick for the part.

It was shockingly dark.

You might want to brace yourself.

It started with me working up a little comic idea, probably with the idea of testing it around to a few of my co-workers, and then putting it up here for you to read.

The idea was a bit of a take off on some kid's book series we have. One in particular is The Bailey School Kids wherein each book involves a possible but maybe not mythological figure involved in an everyday adult endeavor. Books like Vampires Don't Wear Polka Dots, or Santa Claus Doesn't Mop Floors. This gave me an idea for a contemporary series of my own.

Increasingly today's children have to deal with adults who have horrifying political beliefs. They may be their family's friendly mechanic, or perhaps their Doctor who now, it currently turns out, irrationally hates foreigners, black people, women, and or homosexuals. Or maybe they have a soft spot for the Klan, or Fascism. Or if they're Republican, probably some lighthearted version of all of the above.

You look at your friendly neighborhood grocer and think "No, that can't be. She's so friendly and warmhearted" And I, ever the optimist, am inclined to agree with you, but the current numbers tell a different story. They say there is a 42 percent chance we are wrong

And so my new book series addresses this confusing evil in our midst with titles like:

Janitor Taysit is a racist

or

Auntie Jen White is an Anti-Semite

or 

Mr. Plozzi is a Nazi


Well, I'm still working on it. But I shared my idea with my co-worker who, quite familiar with Children's Lit, both understood and liked my idea. I presented my book title: Auntie Jen White is an Anti-Semite (it only works if you say it the right way), and, as she warmed to it she came up with this astonishing tagline:

She's not just baking cookies in her ovens!


Wow!

It was funny, but I also enjoyed recognizing the look on her face, not least because I've had it on my own face so many times in the past. 

It was something like "I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to say things like that. I hope it was funny enough to be worth it."


I can never tell.







Monday, July 9, 2018

The World Cup of fouls








"Hey" You wonder, "What happened? Everyday with the essays about The World Cup, whether we wanted it or not, and then, bam, somewhere in the middle of the round of 16 it all just...

Stopped."

Not that you're complaining.

Well, I'll tell you what happened.

I got too bitter to talk about it anymore.

Not too bitter to watch the games anymore, not that bitter. But too mad to form words.

Too mad for words!!!!

Do you know what the biggest story from this World Cup has been? Do you know what the English Papers write scathingly about, what the Soccer Reddits obsess over, and what all the crappy Fox commentators natter on about?

Simulation.

The great crime of this World Cup is, apparently, obviously, hilariously, awfully, players pretending to be injured (or more injured than they are) in order to get the referee to notice, say, that they fell down, or that someone stepped on them, or someone sneakily elbowed them in the ribs.

It turns out that this simulation stuff is, like, practically cheating.

And unmanly. And bad for the game.

Take your lumps!

Besides, it doesn't work. These World Cup referees just tell you to get up anyway.

Apparently these simulators should all be fined, or banned, or red carded, or mocked, or all of the above.

Oh the simulation! The weak-kneed, crybaby, and ridiculous simulation! If only it weren't for the simulation!



Meanwhile, over here I seem to be watching an entirely different World Cup than the whole of The Internet, the Commentators, and all the press.

Here's what I see:

If someone dribbles cleverly around you? Foul them.

If someone catches a beautiful through pass? Foul them.

If someone does something tricky and entertaining, and there's no advantage to fouling them? Foul them anyway, for showing off, and just because.

If someone's better than you? If someone's quicker than you? If someone's faster than you. If someone's more clever than you? Oh foul them. Foul them, foul them, foul them, foul them!

Now, if you foul in the box, that's bad. It's 50-50 that it'll actually be called a foul because, even with VAR (video review) those calls are often liners, and can go either way, and if it's called it's almost like giving up a free goal. So don't let it get to the box.

And if you foul too obviously, the opposing player well past you, or maybe you kick in with no chance at the ball, that's bad too. You could get a yellow card. You could miss a game for yellows, or even get thrown out (well, probably not that).

But there is a very simple and safe way to avoid these two small problems:

Foul them. Foul them before they ever get to the box. Foul them before they're away from you. Foul them while you can. Foul them, foul them, foul them.


Here is what can happen if you foul them, the consequences, if you will:


1. You sort of hit the ball vaguely and there's no foul and everyone talks about your great tackle.

2. The best and most agile players, playing most honestly, will miraculously evade your foul, but lose an essential half stride, slowing them enough, or even losing their balance (causing them to fall, with you exonerated, and everyone crying out that there should be a penalty for simulation).

3. It's just a "for fun" foul off the ball and so the referee doesn't notice or care.

4. It's a foul and the referee sees it, but what's the difference anyway and he's sick of calling fouls by now when they barely matter anyway.

5. Advantage is played, but you have slowed down play enough that it leads to nothing.

6. Advantage is played, but one of their players is writing on the pitch in agony and so their attack is one short and leads to nothing except for the commentators opining about how dreadful and shameful it is to see a grown man writhing about on the pitch.

7. And, of course, most of all: A free kick wherein you now get to artfully arrange your whole defense behind the ball in an unbreakable construction. Granted you don't want to foul too close to the box as a freakishly good kick, bad goalie, or random header may go in, but these can and do all happen pretty much anytime in this World Cup regardless of free kicks.


And so in conclusion?

Foul them.

This, as we have seen, has led to two things in this Cup:

1. There are close to no goals whatsoever from build up play, that is from interconnected passes and dribbling and brilliant control and superiority on the ball leading to open space and open goals. I assume, without actually recalling, that there might be a scant few of these goals around, but I only sort of remember one; a few deft swift and clever passes and then right into the goal. I also remember this goal being met with the commentators' mild contempt for the ball merely being passed into the net. This instead of the far more common and revered World Cup Goals of:

a. Off some random guy's face, shoulder, or leg, and accidentally into the net.

b. Because of some goalie's astonishingly horrible error.

c. From a penalty in the box that is called sometimes and isn't called sometimes, but was called this time and was from a play that otherwise never would have led to a goal.

And of course there is the second consequence of this extremely foul friendly style of play:

2. The horrible, random spectacle of grown men writhing on the ground, faking injury!

No, wait, that's not it.

It's:

2. Random victories, penalty shoot outs, games decided by own goals, lots and lots and lots of headers, and every team made equal, so long as the lesser team can remain cynical enough.

All that simulation?

Think of it as just the pain that this is so...












Sunday, July 8, 2018

After four trips to Rome








Because the theology and philosophy of Christianity seems reasonably intelligible and straightforward I'm aware that many Christians are just sort of fake Christians. But few of them are so virulently so and audaciously so as right wing Christians, as Republican Christians. I am just sensible enough not to try to reason these people out of their dark cult, but as yet I am not quite wise and resolute enough to not be drawn into imaginary arguments with these people.

At some point in the imagined arguments my opponent will invariably challenge me. "But have you even read The New Testament?"

To which I always reply "No. But I've seen the paintings."





Saturday, July 7, 2018

Dead







There was a waived library fine listed on a waive sheet we use at the front desk. The amount listed as being waived was modestly large for us, $65 or so. Next to the amount, in parenthesis, was written the word "Deceased".

I recognized the handwriting of the person who waived this fine and went back to talk to them. "I see you waived $65 for a person who died." I said.

"Yes." They replied with a hint of trepidation.

"How do we know they didn't just die to get out of paying their library fine?"




Friday, July 6, 2018

The automation services paradox







Here at my library we have an Automation Services Department. They are responsible for all our computers and our computer based and automated systems, like our big Automated Check In Machine. Unfortunately this department takes an unreasonably long time to fix anything, but they emphatically don't want us to fix anything ourselves even if sometimes we're pretty good at that.

This has created The Automation Services Paradox, which goes like this:


Rule 1: All computer and automation failures must be brought to the attention of the Automation Services staff, and all repairs must be effected by Automation Services staff.

Rule 2: The Automation Services Department is overtaxed. Please do not contact Automation Services staff with non emergencies.






Thursday, July 5, 2018

Rules








A little kid came running through the library laughing and then suddenly went splat.

He looked a little stunned, but as you know I've been watching a lot of soccer and have become accustomed to watching people crash to the ground with no long term negative effects.

"You okay?" I asked.

The little guy nodded bravely and limped away. His older brother said "That's why you're not allowed to run in the library."




You're allowed to run in the library all right. 


You just can't fall.












Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Everything is personal









I was working on the Automated Check In Machine at my library when two of the bins on the machine filled up at once. I cried out in anger. I took it personally.

There is an all too famous and brilliant bit in The Godfather where Michael says "It's not personal, Sonny. It's strictly business."

Of course it's a brilliant bit of cinema because it's a lie.

Everything is personal.

Everything that touches you, everything you see, everything that ever happens to you your whole life through, it's all personal.

It's just not all against you.





Tuesday, July 3, 2018

One goal for everyone!







And so on a Sunday in the middle of The World Cup we celebrated One Goal For Everyone Day.

It's not my favorite holiday, but it is very egalitarian. It's nice for everyone to get a goal right away. I'm pretty sure they were all handed out in the first few minutes so no one had to worry. Plus they were free. No one had to do anything clever for them, which is no good if you don't have any really good players on your team. No, these goals were all just sort of... handed out. Then everyone could sit back for the next two hours, enjoy the game, and think about how fun the penalty kick shoot out was going to be.

There was one point where Croatia thought they saw one unclaimed free goal right at the end and ran as fast as they could towards it, but it was a tactical error. You weren't allowed free goals on merit, so a Danish man was sent to remove the Croatian man's ankles. All in the spirit of fair play and fun.

It wasn't my favorite World Cup day, but at least it was a holiday.