Saturday, January 20, 2018

In which I instruct Christian Bale on the romantic comedy









In an interview with the Guardian Newspaper the actor Christian Bale was asked if he has considered acting in a Romantic Comedy.


"Uh-oh." I thought.


Why did I think "Uh-oh"? 


It's hard to answer that.


Maybe because the romantic comedy is the bastard child of cinema. Something that can always be knocked to the ground and stepped on to make one's cinema bonafides eight inches taller.


"Wow, that escalated quickly." Someone says. I'm not sure who, and I hope they're not sticking up for the anti-romantic comedy bullies.


"Oh. No. I'm not!" They reply with alarm. "I'm just concerned at the vehemence in your analogy."


Yes, sure, it's just, well, let's take a look at what the acclaimed actor responded to the question:


Bale bats the question back with what sounds like a challenge. “Have you ever enjoyed a romantic comedy?” I pause and he presses the point. “Have you ever enjoyed a romantic comedy?”


Now at this point I know that I am happy with neither Christian Bale nor the interviewer. And I am so outraged I really should stop reading the interview. But then I remember; I'm on the Internet. If I'm not outraged on the Internet then I'm not doing it correctly. So I yell at the computer:


"MOONSTRUCK, SAY ANYTHING, NOTTING HILL, GROUNDHOG DAY, SOME LIKE IT HOT,  FRENCH KISS, IT HAPPENED ONE NIGHT, 13 GOING ON THIRTY, THE HOLIDAY, THE WEDDING SINGER, THE APARTMENT..."


Actually I go on yelling for quite awhile as there is no one to stop me, which says a lot about the Internet. But after yelling out the titles of 112 Romantic Comedy titles that I am particularly fond of, I stop and say to my screen and to the interviewer: "Don't say it." even though I know he will, only in part because he cannot hear me. 


The interview continues:




A few, I say, but my mind blanks.
“Can you name ’em?”
Er, When Harry Met Sally.

ARRRHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhghGGGGGGGGHHHHr!!!!!!!

There really is nothing wrong with When Harry Met Sally. It is almost surely in the top ten of Meg Ryan's Romantic Comedies, probably. I'd have to check. But it is the uninformed person's answer, the simple answer, the Romantic Comedy hater's answer.
Oh the hell with it, it's the wrong answer.

But not for Christian Bale. It naturally makes perfect sense to him. He says:

“That’s going back quite a ways, isn’t it? You’re hard pressed.” He shakes his head. “I was asked to do a romantic comedy recently and I thought they’d lost their minds. Cats have those insane half hours every evening. I think it must have been that for the production company. 

Now I am obliged to mention that I think Christian Bale is not a bad actor. The Big Short might be the best movie I've seen of the last several years. Unfortunately he has also been in one of the worst movies I've ever seen (I'm Not There), and probably the actual worse movie I've ever watched, the truly hideous Dark Knight Rises.
But everyone makes mistakes. And I also enjoyed Little Women, which he was in, a long time ago. Oh, and there's Howl's Moving Castle, which is almost halfway to being a Romantic Comedy. 
Anyway, I need to unpack his statement a bit. First, having to go back a ways for a good Romantic Comedy might have something to do with how hardly anyone is allowed to make them anymore, probably because no male stars will act in them. And two, maybe they asked you, Christian Bale, to do a Romantic Comedy because they thought you could act. Maybe they thought you might have range, diversity, wider interest. Maybe they thought you might like to not have to lose or gain 60 pounds for a role, or glower, kill, or sulk. Maybe they thought you might like to see just how charming you can be.

Which he might find is harder than he thought.




Friday, January 19, 2018

Phaidon Press








Dear Phaidon Press:




I know that in your manuscript submission "tips" you asked that we not contact you for an update on the status of our submission until you have had our submission for three months. But it has been 11 days now without hearing from you, and I am aging at a rate 14 times that of a normal human. The stress has caused my toenails to start coming loose. Despite your request I must beg of you; please give me a hint. Eleven times fourteen is easily three months if you'd briefly indulge me on this method of calculation. Just let me know a little of what you're thinking at this point and I'll go lay down for a bit. Thank you.

Oh, one small other thing. In reading through your tips just now I realize I hadn't noticed that you said "Phaidon does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited submissions, or any materials included with a submission." Had I seen that I would not have included my lucky rock with my manuscript submission. It might be best if you just popped my lucky rock back to me where I can keep an eye on it. It would be devastating if anything happened to it.

I'm really looking forward to working with you though, and other than these two small points I think everything is going great between us!


With no small amount of regard,



F. Calypso
(Phaidon Press Author (prospective!))








Thursday, January 18, 2018

Library cart









Oh man, working a job in common with others can be a tough haul. I am part of an unwieldy mob of people who staff a large, near urban library (as you probably already know, but think of the one stray person on the Internet who has wandered newly upon this blog and, bewildered, simply needs... nope, they're gone. We lost 'em). Anyway, individual work is largely added up to make a whole. Like many jobs we here are like a team of oxen pulling a cart. Look at that team of oxen pulling that heavy cart on a rough road. You tell me who's doing the heavy pulling. You like that one who really looks like it's straining and giving its all? Or maybe you like that one with the glossy coat who seems to be staying cleanly in its reigns? Who knows? Speaking as an oxen the only guarantee I can offer is that you'll probably pick the wrong one. And that everyone has lots of opinions about everyone else. And that who's pulling a lot and who's hardly pulling at all can change on a dime! Actually that's a whole lot of guarantees here. But I have one more guarantee that's a bigger guarantee than all the rest:

Each of the oxen thinks they're doing a pretty damn good job. 

Yes, even those two wandering lost in a nearby field.




 

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

More disdain for the non readers among you








Dear Lapsed Subscriber:


Remember when you used to read clerkmanifesto? Each day, or maybe every few days, with them gathered in a little group, you would carefully work your way through one of my sweet and salty missives. Then, done, you would go on with your day, ever so slightly altered. Do you remember that?

"Hey," you reply. "But I'm right here, now, reading through your post as we speak."

Ah yes, I know. I see that. I was just writing to the lapsed subscribers.

"Well, if they're lapsed, how would they see what you have to say to them?"

Oh, I wasn't really hoping to reach them. I was just thinking I could make them look bad.

"I see now. But of course nothing could bring more shame onto them than they have already piled upon themselves!"

Thank you!


With no regards whatsoever (to the lapsed subscribers),


F. Calypso










Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Customer feedback








It is time for our annual customer feedback review. If you would be so kind as to fill out this year's Customer Feedback Survey Form we can immediately begin to make the changes to this blog that you have been longing for. Unless you think this blog is already perfect, in which case we won't have to do anything. Which would be nice, because we're really very, very tired.

So tired...

Deeply tired...

Anyway, please do fill out our form:


Clerkmanifesto Customer Feedback Survey, 2018



My number one concern with clerkmanifesto is

A. None. I think it's perfect! Or like, perfect 30 percent of the time.
B. I'm concerned with how tired you are.
C. Ho boy, concern. Plenty of concerns! Pull up a chair. But I mean it in a good way.
D. There must be some mistake. I'm supposed to be here doing the Taco Bell Customer Survey.
E. The narrow and highly particular range of options on your multiple choice surveys.


I read clerkmanifesto

A. Yes.
B. Er, will I still receive a coupon for one of Taco Bell's delicious chimichilangalaquas?
C. EVERY SINGLE FUCKING DAY!!!!!
D. Answer "C" is making me uncomfortable.
E. Sorry I'm late. Has the survey started yet?


My favorite part of clerkmanifesto is

A. When you pretend you're joking.
B. "Favorite" is a very strong word in this context.
C. Its profound obscurity.
D. Is this clerkmanifesto? It's kind of cute. Where are the pictures?
E. I'd really rather not be pinned down to a single letter choice answer. Oh, foiled again!


My least favorite part of clerkmanifesto is

A.When the hilarity dies down and I am left sadly and wistfully looking at my computer wondering painfully what it's all about.
B. The free kittens. But not so much the crippled ones. I know that doesn't speak well of me but I must answer honestly.
C. When it awkwardly inserts mentions of its corporate sponsor Taco Bell.
D. When it starts going on about how great it is, even if it totally is great, maybe the most amazing thing ever written for the Internet, a work of towering genius and a shining light in a dark world. It is a masterpiece of beauty, vision, and wisdom, and a gift, truly a gift to humanity like no other. I am ever humbled and inspired by it.
E. Yeah. Same as "D" for me. Or maybe "A", although I thought about "B" too for awhile. What was "E" again?



In conclusion I just really want you to know that

A. A customer feedback survey that is functionally impossible to fill out or submit is hardly likely to be a great font of improvement for your little blog.
B. You are undercharging for clerkmanifesto the blog, but overcharging for your wonderful (but expensive) Clerkmanifesto Tea Cosy.
C. Answer "A" is not a nice person, in case you wondered.
D. Your failure to institute any of my suggestions from your last eleven customer feedback surveys only makes me more optimistic that this one is finally gonna be it!
E. All my favorite answers were "E" up until the last one when, oh, curses! Foiled again!












Monday, January 15, 2018

$25 Metropolitan Museum of Art








My dear Met President and CEO Daniel Weiss:



First of all, until all this controversy arose about the new entrance fee to The Met, I had no idea you weren't simply a President, but are also a CEO. Good for you. Nothing nowadays says "The screams of the little people won't distract me from doing the proper thing" like the title "CEO". You have surely shown your mettle in this regard already. I hope they give you a couple Rembrandts along with a noble title like that.

Since your announcement of the new entrance fee you have no doubt had to endure a good deal of complaining and criticism. Perhaps you are afraid this will be just one more letter berating you for your decision. Well, yes and no. I certainly am not mad at you for introducing a $25 entrance fee for the out-of-towners. This has been a long time coming in my opinion. No, rather my complaint, Sir, is that you have set this levy far too low. Can I just say here that your lovely museum has been too crowded with smelly poor people and foreigners for many years now. Their uneducated gawking at our finest works of art is distracting at best, unhygienic and wasteful at worst. I feel setting a much higher barrier than you have recently instituted would demand the kind of commitment and sacrifice from the masses suitable to your august institution. A far more demanding fee would surely weed out the all too many who don't really belong there and likely don't feel comfortable there anyway. 

But I am not the rabble to yammer at you to get my way. I have a proposal for you. I have means but no wish to see my name scrawled uncouthly upon your fountains and doorways. I prefer to build a more suitable world. And so I offer you a gift of two million dollars for every dollar you raise your entrance fee. Raise it to $30 and you will see a small but useful gift from me and a trifling improvement in your clientele. Raise it to $200 and you shall be a richly endowed paradise for art lovers of true refinement and taste. Let the filthy Museum of Modern Art charge mere pocket change for entrance, the Met deserves a serious crowd of refined people like yourself and I.

With deep regards from one CEO to another,



Yours,



F. Calypso
Founder and CEO of Clerkmanifesto









Sunday, January 14, 2018

Wayne Gretzky's quote










I saw a quote the other day by Wayne Gretzky:

You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.


I have two things to say about this quote:


1. Anyone so outlandishly talented at what they do as Wayne Gretzky is hardly helpful on this score. Yes, if you are Wayne Gretzky you do indeed miss 100% of the shots you don't take, and you make a notable number of the shots you do take. However if you are not Wayne Gretzky, yes, you still miss 100% of the shots you don't take, but, if you make few enough of the shots you do take everyone will stop passing to you. And they'll hate you. And your team will lose.

2. There is no way in the World that Wayne Gretzky is the originator of this quote. It was likely first said by an early bow and arrow hunter to a kid somewhere in Africa 65,000 years ago. Then it was said a million more times until it got officially ascribed to Wayne Gretzky, an enormously prolific goal scorer who, it turns out, also got a lot of assists.








Saturday, January 13, 2018

Great quotes continued







Today in Great Quotes Continued we present Tolstoy's famous opening from Anna Karenina, with the crucial new added bit at the end:



Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way. But many families just mildly suck in an vaguely familiar way.






Thanks for coming. We'll see you next week on...


 Great Quotes Continued



Friday, January 12, 2018

Reconsideration









Dear Publisher:


Regretfully I must withdraw my manuscript from your consideration.

Two days ago I submitted Clerkmanifesto: The River Notes to you in hopes that you would publish it. Then I sat down and waited for your response. Unfortunately I soon found I couldn't take it. The suspense was killing me.

Killing me.

Also I realized that while I thought I was psychologically equipped to handle another rejection, I'm really not. My submission was clearly an act of emotional hubris vastly beyond my current level of human development.

Please return my materials at your earliest convenience. I apologize for any bother I have caused your esteemed publishing house and hope perhaps we can work together some time in the very distant future.



Yours,



Feldenstein Calypso








Thursday, January 11, 2018

The bell








I'm afraid I can be rather critical of my managers here in this space. I'll admit none of it is helped much by my issues with authority. I have issues with authority. Also I feel power is corrupting, even in trifling amounts. And it causes instantaneous power specific brain damage. And did I mention my authority issues?

Well I can mention them twice because I'M IN CHARGE HERE!

The truth is though that both of my managers, as much as they can sometimes upset me, are basically nice people. And I really do think with one, simple, quite small correction I could have a vastly easier time with them.

All I ask is that at all times they wear a little bell around their necks, a nice, distinguished, noisy little bell.

















Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Performance review









 
Annual Performance Review



Department: Library

Position: Library Clerk III

Years of Service: 24



This employee's performance has been stellar, and he is a wonderful asset to our library.

He is punctual, well-groomed, and conscientious. He performs his duties efficiently and positively and is always willing to step up when things get hectic around here, as they so often do. He is knowledgeable about library policy and yet creatively and effectively solves problems that fall outside the purview of our policy. He is attentive to our patrons and works well with his co-workers. He is a hard worker with excellent attention to detail. He is an employee here who I can fully count on to get the job done. I have nothing but positive things to say about this dedicated library employee.

However I do have one small request I would like to make of him in this space. When signing the condolence and farewell cards left in the employee break room, I would like him to please stop using the phrase "Good riddance to bad rubbish".

That said we look forward to another year with this fine library employee!






Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Working like athletes







I'm a clerk, a library clerk, and mostly I quite like the work, especially those parts that involve customer service, but I do wish my job were more like being a professional soccer player.

I wish that I had only one or two really important sessions of work per week. They would be an intense hour and a half session, with a 15 to 20 minute break in the middle. I would have to focus and concentrate intensely during this time. Every interaction would be considered crucial. It might be televised. I might get subbed out if I'm clerking badly, or on the other hand I might get subbed out if I'm clerking well but am exhausted from a huge amount of patron interaction.

But this wouldn't mean I would only be working one to three hours a week. There would be all the preparing for those sessions of work. There would be coming in to practice for them a couple of days every week, maybe doing some casual shelving sprints, reading, or low key front desk assistance. There would be the hanging out before and after, talking about work and work situations with my co-workers and manager, building camaraderie and game plans.

If this soccer approach were true, then the sprawling, unfocused, nearly meaningless workload of my job wouldn't be the measure of me, rather I would be defined by these highly scrutinized intense passages of perfected library work, by my mastery. Preparation would show on my ultimate performance, and so would the depth of my knowledge, my concentration and my focus. If I performed badly I might not get starting time on the front desk, but if I perform well other libraries might try to buy me at a huge bonus. It would always be clear who is good at the job and just how good they are, sometimes painfully clear.

Of course my job is not like this. But I like to pretend it is sometimes, just to myself, to keep going.













Monday, January 8, 2018

I hate billionaires








Yesterday I made the mildly complicated joke that the amount paid for a single soccer player in Europe was outrageous because the same amount of money could have been used to buy a Rothko painting. But today they are installing an art exhibit of work by students at my library. These are by first graders up through high school students and look to be mostly drawings in colored pencil. It's a nice show. What they've done is taken drawings by the little kids and had the teens do their own more sophisticated version of that same drawing. Then the two are hung next to each other.



They haven't quite finished putting everything up but it looks to be maybe a hundred pieces of art. And of course that's the real travesty of paying a hundred and eighty million dollars for a soccer player or a single piece of art: With that much money we could afford to buy the ten best of these drawings. I think the artists would have a hard time refusing our offer when we're talking 18 million dollars a shot. Of course, then we'd have to figure out how to afford framing them. That's gonna be extra.

I know the real thing with money like this, spent with such seeming frivolity, is that we could feed the hungry with it.

I suggest nice french cheeses.

Someone gave me a book he wrote the other day. In the introduction he was giving a rundown of all the crazy ideological elements in some great political battle, finishing with "the left-wing "I hate billionaires" wackos". I read this description and turned to him and said "Hey, that's me! I'm a left-wing "I hate billionaires" wacko!"

I have since donated the book to our friends of the library bookstore, where you can purchase it for a dollar.

And so that is the ultimate theme of these two blog posts about buying a soccer player for 180 million dollars: go ahead and buy stuff, even if it's ridiculously expensive, even if it's a soccer player or a Rothko. The real economic problem in the world now are people who have too much money to buy anything else, what with there being nothing left they could remotely want, and so they just sit there on their pile of riches, snarling, and trying at any cost to figure out ways to get more.










Sunday, January 7, 2018

The price of money










As you know I try desperately to not talk about my favorite soccer team, Barcelona FC, here in this space. The tiny number of readers who share my fervent soccer interest already more or less know what I have to say, and the rest of you are not interested. However, I hope you can tolerate a bit of news when it's particularly big and has moral, state of the world implications.

It will not remotely be news to any soccer fans here, but it will be out of the blue for pretty much anyone else: Barcelona FC just bought a player from the Liverpool team for the second highest amount of money for a soccer transfer ever! We paid roughly 140 plus million euros for Philippe Coutinho.

Philippe Coutinho is a very good soccer player. Is he the best soccer player there is? No, that player, Messi, already plays on Barcelona. So is Coutinho the second best soccer player in the world? Oh, no, no. Let's say he's about the 25th best soccer player in the world, which is very, very good.

So let's take a real look at this: Someone paid something like 180 million dollars just for the 25th best soccer player in the world to come play for their team instead of another team. Is that kind of sick?

Well, while I am truly delighted to have this young Brazilian man come play for my team, yes, I have to admit, 180 million dollars just for this is a little sick when you look at the state of the world and people and the ugliness and all those things. It is a bewildering amount of money, and difficult to grasp, so I went and looked at just what a person can get with 180 million dollars. And what I found out put this soccer sale into a horrifying perspective.

Do you know what you can get for 180 million dollars?



No. 6 (Violet, Green, and Red) by Mark Rothko.








Saturday, January 6, 2018

Plantir









Hey, lookit, you're on the Internet. 

Cool.

What's it like out on the Internet today?

Yes, yes, you can see everything in the whole world simply by looking into the Internet. But only if you have the strength of mind to turn the Internet to your will. Most of us here are just hobbits.

I myself look and can usually only see burning hands.







Friday, January 5, 2018

Sometimes the jokes just tell themselves







The librarian who makes all our daily passes that allow non card holders to get onto the Internet came to the front desk tonight. She was fiddling with our Internet passes and apparently taking away a small stack of our unused ones. This was no problem for me since we had plenty, but perhaps because I was right there watching she felt she should explain why she was appropriating from our stack.

So she said "They're a little short in the kids' room."

I merely needed to agree.









Thursday, January 4, 2018

An open letter to dogs







Dear Dogs,


First of all, dogs, let me just say thank you for reading this. I know this won't be the easiest thing for you to hear, and it's not easy for me to say it, but I want you to know I come in hopes of friendship and say all of this only with the sincere ambition of being constructive, as much for your benefit as my own. I deeply respect your willingness to read it.

I think there are some things you should know about yourself, some unpleasant things.

Maybe it is just a matter of no one having told you. Or maybe you have been confused by all the people petting you and giving you food. It is possible you are insulated by people fussing over, adoring, walking, and indulging you. This may have caused you to lose all perspective.

But I am going to give you the benefit of the doubt. I am going to assume that you simply did not know. I can see how easily that is possible. And though you may find some of the things I'm about to tell you here to be uncomfortable, I believe that you can take this knowledge and become better from it. I believe that the truth can set you free and let you take your place in friendship with all the peoples of the world, not just with the small group that likes to own you.

And that maybe is the first hard truth: You are owned. I know that might be uncomfortable, but it is best to start from a place of real honesty. You are owned. They may like or love you, but they own you. They may indulge your ignorance from the idea of protecting you, and they might do it to protect themselves, but there is a lot they don't tell you. And those of us around you at a remove are the ones who really suffer for it.

This is because your behavior is frequently rude and offensive.

Again, I don't think you know you're doing it, or know what it means necessarily, but the thing is that you are often discourteous, uncivil, violent, and invasive. You yell at everything. You invade personal space. You physically attack people or suggest you might, with trifling, almost non existent provocation. You go to the bathroom offensively in plain sight of everyone, and then you just leave it there! You lick yourself gratuitously in public.

It is not good.

However, if we can amend these grave faults, which, fortunately, come in a short list, we can lay clear your many other sterling qualities in a way that everyone will be able to see and appreciate. I know that you can be friendly, warm-hearted, faithful, amusing, peaceful, and congenial. But these things are, for many of us, hidden behind your flaws. And so I have laid out a short list of rules for you. Follow these few rules carefully and the pain of who you have just discovered you are will soon be a mere anecdote of your wayward youth.

1. Always use your inside voice. You should be quietly saying "Woof", never yelling "Woof!". If people are often saying to you "What was that?", then you are on the right track. You and I both know you speak best with your eyes and tail anyway and have always had least to say with your voice.

2. Don't let anyone see you go to the bathroom. If you simply cannot master a toilet (and I see the structural difficulties), find a deep, hidden place, perhaps in thick bushes, for all your needs. Make sure no one is nearby when you go.

3. Approach everyone at a sedate walk. Stop at five to ten feet distance to see if the party you are approaching is interested in contact. They will usually be moving towards you as well, with hands out and a friendly countenance. Only then should you continue for a nearer approach. If these welcoming signs are not forthcoming keep a quiet and respectful distance.

4. Yes, I know it's important to you, so you can smell and lick the people you come in contact within the template of rule three. However, try if you can to be less obvious about it. A few light, ambient sniffs can do you just as well sticking your whole face in, and likely will reveal far more.

5. No biting, unless they bite first. Likewise with the snarling.


And that's it.

While it may not be easy going at first, with these mere five rules you, I assure you, will be reformed! Good luck.

I look forward to a long and fruitful friendship with you and yours. Welcome to the community of civil beings.


Your friend,


F. Calypso










Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Trusting in god







When I go on my long morning walk to work I like to be alone. I like the space around me and a quiet lack of distraction so that I can gently commune with nature. When I left this morning I felt pretty sure I would have this world mostly to myself. The paths of my neighborhood and along the river are rarely full of people, especially in the late morning weekdays, but add to that zero degree temperatures, crunching ice underfoot, and a biting wind and one can fairly expect to see almost no one on a four mile walk.

And so it was. I saw a couple dog walkers, cowering in their parkas while I was still in my neighborhood, but along the river there was nobody for miles. I sank deep in my thoughts and observations. I, alone in every direction, turned onto a river bridge only to suddenly find one person, probably the only other person outside in the whole state of Minnesota, five feet in front of me, walking in my direction, at my same pace.

I was not happy. I held my hands out and gesticulated wildly to god. And just as I was about to cry out "Why God why?!" a thought came to me.

What if I tried trusting in the wisdom of God? What if I tried understanding that small trials were messages from God to me to give me wisdom and direction? What if for instance God was suggesting that I needed to be a bit more vigorous in my walking, perhaps for my health, or even just because God knew I was running late?

I decided to walk faster. I passed my fellow walker. My fellow walker seemed to speed up, but, undaunted, I too went faster, speed walking to try and get more space between me and the only other person outside in Minnesota.

"Thank you God." I silently murmured to the heavens as I walked as fast as I could. "You asshole."

"What was that?" God asked.

"I was just thanking you." I said.

"Yes, after that. I thought I heard something."

"I don't think so." I said. "I was probably just breathing really hard. Maybe I grunted."

"Hmm. Okay." God said. "Because I see everything. I hear everything."

"And I appreciate it." I said. "Thank you for watching over me and giveneth of me your wisdom."

"Givineth?"

"You know what I mean."

"I do indeed." God said pompously.

"Wait, what was that?" God inquired, even though he knew all.

"Nothing." I said.

"You're frankly incorrigible." God said. "But, fine." He added. And then he sent me an eagle to look at, which I did, admiringly, while walking as fast as I could.










Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Authority figure









My issues with authority are well documented here. Whether it be with my managers at work, the people who run our country, or even god itself, I have few kind words to express about those in charge. I have plenty of other words to express and on any given day you may find me expressing them here. These are some very pointed words. And the reason you may find me expressing them here is because every morning, without fail, for almost 5 years now, there has been, in this very space, a short essay, diatribe, shaggy dog story, digression, memoir, sly or ridiculous joke, satirical mocking, or bit of wisdom carefully hidden into a small puzzle so that it won't hurt me while I'm handling it. And so writing every single day, it's bound to come up.

Who makes me do this?

Sure, most of the time I quite enjoy doing it merely for itself. Sometimes I really can't help myself doing it. Often enough I just do it because it's what I am now. But when I am sick, or going off on vacation for a couple weeks, or crabby, or would rather play a video game, or could be upstairs drinking some nice wine with my wife on New Year's Day, but instead go down into my freezing basement for an hour because it is required, it strikes me that I might like to know who is this tyrant who compels me to still come up with my daily epistle?

This remorseless editor, this figure that demands without surcease, this bossman pounding his fist into his hand, this parent, priest, lord, and Captain. Who is it that demands I write here everyday? I need to know who this relentless Authority is that rules over me like a God!




It's me.



Although I like to think I'm just being pleasantly firm.


















Monday, January 1, 2018

Success last year and in the New Year to come!










Oh, right, it's New Year's Day. I believe traditionally that is a time for resolutions. But what good is a resolution without consequence, without history? It will hardly do to hopefully resolve on some personal improvement every year and have it be the same thing needed every time because no improvement is ever made. That is why I think I am going to have to start this year's resolution with a bracing confrontation with reality. Before we set our mighty goals for the year to come I am going to first dare to look at what we proposed here a year ago today as our ambitions for the New Year.

Are you with me? Are you ready to let the chips fall where they may? Okay then, I will be back in a moment with our New Year's Resolution, published right here, a year ago today, so that we can see if we achieved our goals and so save ourselves, hopefully, from a cycle of endless striving and forgetting.

Last year:



------------------------------------------------------------


Your New Year's Resolution

Sunday, January 1, 2017


I don't think random markers in time are good places to make decisions for change. One shouldn't resolve to improve based on a traditional time to do so. I know you come here each year for guidance in your New Year's Resolutions, but being hungover is not a place from which to seek improvement. We are too vulnerable. And as for me, the power of the written word is already so heady. I preach enough as it is.

So if I must guide you, let it be just this: 

You are better than you think. Take this year off.



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Oh my god! I totally did that! You did it too? Success! We are the champions!



But we should do it one more time, in this coming year, just to make sure.