Friday, July 31, 2015

Cats and dogs 2 for 1

In an almost unbelievable boon for you today I have two interconnected stories instead of one. Yes, you heard me correctly, that is two stories instead of one!

What's that you ask?

Are they any good?

Well, I tested the first story as an oral tradition story last night and, frankly, it tanked. But anything can happen in prose. Why, just look at it happening now!

The second story I thought of two minutes ago, but, right from the beginning, it seemed a tad slight to me. But please refer to my previous comment about how anything can happen in prose. Besides, my bread and butter here isn't my stories, it's my freewheeling introductory comments.

The first story is about perspectives and being so absorbed in my own that coming suddenly upon someone else's Rashomon-like, utterly different perspective, can be at once appalling, funny, and illuminating.

I was out walking, cutting through a sort of parking lot/alley, absorbed in my thoughts, when I looked up to see a woman and her dog coming the other way. The dog was not on a leash and was of a low, vicious, vacuum cleaner variety. It had a compact body of pure muscle and a giant, all jaw head that will clamp onto one's leg in a uni-directional manner, meaning it can bite down, but can't release and has to be surgically removed. The dog walker was, to me, desperately trying to get her dog on the leash before it attacked again, and I was steeling myself for a fight in which I pictured myself feverishly stomping the violent, possibly rabid animal on the head until the skull broke apart and the brains of the dog squished horrifically onto a blood soaked sidewalk.

As all this was going on I noticed someone to my right. A man was standing by a truck staring over at the killer dog with a look of besotted adoration. Nothing was easier to see in his face than a delighted exclamation of "PUPPY!".

In story two I am also walking through my neighborhood. Someone has lost some kind of black and white dog, and they're going nuts. There are signs everywhere. They tell you what to do and not do if you see the dog, where to go, and who to contact. Every time I see one of these signs, and there are dozens, I am mildly annoyed and just wish everyone would leave me alone without all their endless dog stuff. Keep your little slave animal to yourself if you have to have one so bad, and stop losing them!

Then, on a phone pole, I saw a cheap, poorly attached copy paper flapping in the breeze. "Lost Kitten" it read, and my heart cried out with love and concern.


Thursday, July 30, 2015

Prose: economy class

If one reads anything about improving one's writing one will quickly run into the fundamental tenant of good writing: economy of prose. Do not use more words than are absolutely necessary. Do not use a bigger word when a smaller one will do. Do not use extra words. Cut out everything that is superfluous and then do it again.

This is very good advice, and, like all writing advice, it never fails to irritate me.

I get a bit defensive.

I get a bit defensive because I like to say things like "I get a bit defensive" instead of "I get defensive". I get a tad, just, um, the tiniest smidgen defensive because I love words like "um". Although, come to think of it, what big time author would get all worked up about a tiny wee little word like "um"?

Most of them.

Fortunately I have a comeback. It's sort of my go-to comeback. It's very sophisticated. It goes like this:

They're all a bunch of hypocrites!

All the prose you will ever read is 99 percent superfluous ornamentation. There are a million ways to justify and defend every word every author writes, especially when it comes to nuance of feeling or to complexity of concept, but that's all just prevaricating. 

Almost nothing needs to be written. Nearly every essay, blog post, magazine article, and book you ever read could be done, in it's basics of its imparted information, in one hundredth the words. The 99 percent of the other words are just there like pickling juices. They are there to soak you in the relatively paltry amount of content. They are there to convince you that that little one percent was worth your time.

Or we can put it another way. The tiny bit of actual content that is there in writing, most of the time, is there just to let the writers, and the readers too, screw around.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


My library does not work on the buddy system, but I do.

Indeed, I run a very advanced and involved version of the buddy system. Besides my standard, over arching "buddy", who, for demonstration purposes, we will call "Dave", I have a vast series of auxiliary, specialized buddies. I have a kid lit buddy, a we secretly run the circ department buddy, a life's a joke buddy, a music buddy, a deep gossip of the library buddy, a librarian buddy, a life's a party buddy, a volunteer buddy, a library system buddy, and even a patron buddy.

It's a lot of buddies!

But the main buddy is the key thing. That's the person you, day to day, secretly count on.

When one works someplace a long time, as I have, one sees many people move on. Sometimes it feels like one sees everybody move on. One loses a lot of buddies. I have analogized this passing on of co-workers to deaths, to the little deaths of all those who leave. Not for them- they are seeing a different world open out before them- only for all of us who remain. And so it is. A work life is a long war. My library life is one, epic military campaign. It is a long march. There are endless hours of boredom, of duty, of fighting and customer service, of trudging along with one's comrades in arms. If one is lucky there is an occasional two-week leave in an exotic locale before it's back to the front lines, back to the barely sufficient grub, the meandering, chatty, and confessional talks in the foxholes, the long, restless wait with one's buddies in the trenches. Then the burst of fire, the brief flurry of explosions, and a potluck goodbye party in the break room. Someone that one likes very much has fallen in the field. Someone lies bleeding out in the smoking ruins and you can't get to them. They are gone, off to another job, or another city, or more school and some finer, more ambitious career. Gone.

No, the library I work at does not work on the buddy system. We are all just fodder here. Someone goes and a new person comes. That's how it goes. And a person can't make it here if they're going to get too sentimental. It won't do for a soldier, or a clerk, or a worker, or whatever, to attach too much meaning to all these work relationships.

But it's hard going without a few buddies to watch one's back and lighten the day. So I work on the buddy system. And though I am strong, and cold, and on the long campaign, I will confess that every lost buddy is a wound. Every lost buddy adds to my dozens of purple hearts, every lost buddy hurts. And when that main buddy goes it is worst of all. It's dark, and sad, and empty.

I don't say too much. I cry fake tears for real ones. It's very different for the one leaving. Their eyes are all forward, mine on another empty space. I wish them the best and tell them it's the right thing for them to do as long as it at least partly is. And it always is. And I spend my last working days with them like any other working days with them ever, like I have no idea what's coming.

And then, in a single, undetectable moment, they're gone forever.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Dewey decimal pi

Shelving up in non fiction today I found an abandoned book, American Drawings and Watercolors from the Wadsworth Atheneum. It's a nice, if perhaps slightly less than spectacular, collection of art. I really like Arthur G. Dove, but I don't get excited.

But they don't pay me the big bucks to look at the books. I'm here to shelve, at least for this hour. So I checked out the ol' Dewey Decimal number on American Drawings and Watercolors, and that's where this book really came into its own.

The Dewey Decimal number for American Drawings and Watercolors is

741.97307401463 A51

It is an awesome spectacle of a Dewey Decimal number! It is a giant among Dewey Decimal numbers!

One thing that particularly enchants me about this number is how, when I shelved it, there were no other books that went beyond 741.973. The eight further digits of 07401463 on the label of American Drawings and Watercolors are entirely for the peacock finery of the thing, the Dewey Decimal system flexing its muscles.

I showed the book to my co-worker who was shelving nearby and who fully appreciated its grandeur. Then I shelved the book. But I wrote down the whole giant Dewey number and have since commenced to memorize it.

Now I just wait. It may be for five years. It may be forever. But one day, if I am very lucky, a patron is going to come to me at the desk and ask "Do you have any books of collections of American drawings and watercolors?" 

"Yes we do." I will answer dryly. "They should be upstairs in the general area of 741.97307401463. Do you need me to write that down?"

Monday, July 27, 2015

Automatic dissent

As I peruse the Internet what seems, among my reactions, to beat out wonder and interest and covetousness and boredom and frustration and inertia and entertainment and, really, anything else, is outrage.

I am outraged!

I am often so outraged that I consider writing a comment. That's pretty outraged. Then I remember that writing a comment automatically engages one in a discussion with confusing people one doesn't like. Also it's a lot of work to leave a comment. So then I leave my computer and look at flowers and breathe until I am calm or until it is time to do some plumbing or cleaning or something. But if I had a form letter for outraged comment, I could just fill it in quick, post it up, and move on, which would be much quicker, and I wouldn't have to bother the flowers.

Where could I find a form of outraged comment to fill in?

I have no idea.

Internet Comment Blank Form
(applicable to all Internet comments)
Outrage Version

I was completely 

___ Apalled
___ Enfuriated
___ Disgusted
___ Disappointed

by the above issue pertaining to

___ Income inequality.
___ Celebrities.
___ Politics.
___ The arts.
___ Race.

___ Cooking methods.
___ Library policy.
___ Global warming.
___ Religion.

It is time we stopped standing around like

___ Sheep
___ Chumps
___ Good little children
___ Zombies

while these

___ Powerful people
___ Librarians
___ Fat cats
___ So called baristas
___ Nazis. There, I said it, Nazis!
___ Arbiters of worthy culture

run roughshod over our best and most humane impulses. I, for one, plan to

___ Make my voice heard
___ Make them rue the day
___ Personally change my behavior
___ Pointlessly express my rage


___ Writing this comment in the comment section.
___ Contacting my Congressperson.
___ Never buying this product ever again unless it's on sale.
___ Irrationally threatening various random people.

I just hope

___ It's not too late.
___ Homeland Security is not monitoring my computer.
___ All one billion people on the Internet will agree with me exactly.
___ I still have a piece left of that really terrific sharp cheddar in the fridge.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Where this blog is found

I have been writing up a storm of blog posts. Not that you could tell. Out here on the stupid Internet (wow, did I just call it "stupid"? That must be some kind of typo!) the posts just come out in their stately one-a-day progression. But behind the scenes sometimes I'm all obsessed, composing feverishly in my head, and writing three or four involved essays everyday for days in a row. And then sometimes I'm like "Whoa, yeah, I guess I have a blog. I think. I'm not exactly sure. I wonder if I'm supposed to write something soon?" It all works out via something called "The law of averages" which is a math thing that no one actually understands.

The downside to the periods when I'm writing incessantly is that I am over exposed to the Internet (see, I didn't call the Internet stupid because that was just a typo before). When I have ten blog posts lined up for their scheduled release I poke at them, a lot. I fiddle. I edit. I edit back to the way it was. I work a bit on the eleventh piece. I fiddle some more. I read over. And in between each of these monumental creative acts I find I need to clear my brain just a little. I need to refresh and get some perspective. But not so much perspective as to cause me to leave my computer. I just need five or ten minutes perspective. So I poke around on the Internet for that time.

How much time does one need to be over exposed to the Internet?

I have been consistently clocking it in the 11 to 12 second range.

"Hey!" You cry. "I have been reading this post for more than 12 seconds. Will I get cancer?"

Don't worry, I have done some experiments on this and I have determined that because one can roam the Internet for a thousand years and never accidentally land at my blog, I am not actually on the Internet.

So you are safe.

But now that this is over it might be wise not to linger.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Blog sick leave form

I am not sick. I feel fine. But I have lately been putting together a series of easy to fill out form letters for various of my regular writing activities, like apologizing formally to co-workers, berating customer service departments, and writing blog posts. I thought it would be nice to have a form letter for my blog specifically for when I'm not feeling well. So today I have written just such a form letter for me to fill out when I am sick and in need of a quick, easy to write, blog post. I am sharing it with you now for free, because paying you to read it would be undignified and could get kind of expensive.

                                                   Too sick to blog form

Alas, but I am

___ Sick,
___ Injured,
___ Dealing with a family crisis,
___ Dead,


___ Fear not,
___ Despite things looking amazingly bleak,
___ With amazing personal heroism, 

I am still managing to eek out the daily blog post you so richly deserve. 

To be more specific about my current condition, I am

___ Probably not going to make it.
___ Miserable, but it will pass.
___ Totally faking it so I can stay home from work.

I guess what happened is

___ I should have known prawns don't come in a chartreuse color.
___ I am 107 years old for gods sake!
___ With care I can probably avoid drunk drivers, but no one on earth is safe from cell phone drivers!
___ Who am I again?

But don't worry, I should be back on my feet

___ In no time,
___ In two to four weeks according to my Doctor.
___ Eventually, theoretically.
___ Er, yes, I sure loved my feet while I had them. If I could say one thing to my readers out there, it's appreciate your feet while you have them.

No matter how things are for me I'll be hanging in as best I can with the blog, though you may find the posts for the next little while to be

___ Quite short.
___ Eerily similar to this post.
___ A tad weepy.

I want to thank everyone for their 

___ Kind thoughts.
___ Frightening casseroles.
___ Weird pharmaceuticals. 

I am eagerly looking forward to putting this difficult time behind me and getting back to

___ Regular life.
___ My vengeful schemes.
___ Wacky library blogging.
___ Who am I again?

Friday, July 24, 2015

My superhero origin story

I am not certain how it happened, but I am reasonably sure that it started with a particularly potent spray of tiger lily flowers. Perhaps these flowers had been hit by strange lightning, or were planted over a bit of radioactive waste. Maybe they were just tiger lilies that were unusually good at being tiger lilies. Whatever it was, I was enamored of these tiger lilies, all copious bloom, the color of the pale flesh of cantaloupes. Perhaps I stared into their wonders for too long. They started to glow. I could see into their glow.

First my eyes changed. Then the change spread through me. I was still myself, but I was also something more. I was still me, but I was also


Yes, by staring too long at a pale orange tiger lily I had miraculously obtained a very small selection of the powers of a bee! I am Beeman.

No, I don't have a costume, though I'm thinking about it.

I don't have any stripes that I can see.

I tried and do seem able to collect small amounts of pollen, in a limited way, but I don't seem able to do anything in particular with it.

I can't fly, which would have been the pick of the lot, but it was a freak accident, not a smorgasbord.

I can't sting anyone with my butt, which is just as well.

I don't buzz and am no more inclined to busy-ness than I was before.

I am sadly unable to make my own honey, but do seem slightly more fond of it and so just bought two quarts.

So you are probably wondering right about now what bee-like thing I actually can do. What happened that makes me Beeman?

First, let me say, it's better than it sounds.

I can see into the ultra violet spectrum with my naked eyes.

"How," You wonder "Does this allow you to fight crime?"

I don't understand. Why would I fight crime? 

What seeing into the UV spectrum allows me to do is enjoy flowers more than I ever thought was possible. They all glow and radiate with an inner luminosity.

Fight crime? Who would want to fight crime when you can enjoy flowers?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

No secret to me

Each individual piece of art that has ever been made is uninteresting to most people.

It's a strange way to look at it, but accurate. I can easily wander around my workplace and find people who couldn't care less about Bob Dylan. Indeed, it's just a handful who do care. Van Gogh? Mary Oliver? Caravaggio? Ursula K. LeGuin? Drawing from a pool of 40 or so culturally involved library workers I can rest assured that we would get nowhere near a majority interest in any of those lions, and would do no better with anyone else. And no doubt the fractional percentages of interest we do get in, say, F. Scott Fitzgerald, would drop significantly in the backroom of a library in Indonesia.

Nothing made by the hand of man has been loved by most people. When it feels like everyone around you is fervently talking about Downton Abbey or Game of Thrones or Gone Girl, take a breath. Look around. It's just four excited people, loud in the way of people in a group, feeling the numbers on their side. Twenty people scattered around those four have busied themselves, trying to make a little space to breathe. They don't care. They love something else.

There is always something else.

This morning I woke up with a line from a song in my head. It's one of my favorite songs ever. Getting up has been so hard for me lately. Something about this song today helped me get up, this line:

Just don't make me go through this again.

And then as my eyes clear the song comes to me:

But oh, it's one more tune,
I can't figure out.
Just don't make me go through this again.

And I can wake up.

Who knows this song? It is not famous. My friend Grape wrote it.

I love it like I love Nowhere Man or Karma Police or River. It is not due to my personal relationship, to my great affection for the artist, though I have those. I just love it. We are free to pretend that that is a normal thing, because it is. Grape wrote a masterpiece. Masterpieces are not so rare, but that doesn't make them any less wonderful. The famous ones are the tip of an iceberg. Almost no one will ever see most of the ones that have been made, the thrown away manuscripts, burnt paintings, songs that were never recorded, books that couldn't sell their paltry 1000 print run and faded away, scribbled poems, transcendent home movies. There are millions and millions of them. They may or may not find more than a single person to love them, but the beauty and wonder and feeling they evoke in a single person cannot be diminished.

What makes art a viable commodity anyway? If two percent of an audience loves it we can make it business, but if only half a percent loves it we can never send it around. That's just money talking. That's just the disease of culture, the weakness even in the heart of democracy.

Here is your Internet. Here is your Publishing industry. Here is your library. Dig deeper, but you cannot get there. Much is buried. Most is lost. Have friends. Listen carefully. See the graffiti under the bridge. Hear the song in the cafe. It's all around you. 

It's no secret to me,
That what I'm missing,
Is the very thing I wanted out of life.

It's all around you. And all the wonder and heart, it's all yours alone.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Form blog post

As you know, I am a new advocate of the virtues of the form letter. Any time there is something I find myself writing a lot, like letters to friends, angry missives to corporations, or notes of apology, I try to create a form letter to facilitate the process for myself. This morning it suddenly occurred to me that the things I write more than anything else are blog posts. I write blog posts, on average, exactly once every single day. Surely I should have a form letter for blog posts!

Now I'm not saying I want to use my blog post form letter very often. I like writing blog posts, and I like doing it the old fashioned way, fully bespoke. I have a lot to write about and am eager to do it, but that clock is always ticking for a person who writes a blog post every day. Sometimes a deadline is uncomfortably close and having a unique, but easy to fill in form for a blog post could be wonderfully helpful to me.

So I've created this blog post form letter. This one is just a blank. I'm pretty sure that when I use it in the future, when it's all filled in, you won't even be able to tell that it wasn't just a regular, longhand written blog post, one maybe not among my very best, but certainly plenty good enough for the Internet.

Here then is my new blog post form letter:


___ On my walk
___ At work at the library
___ While on the run from zombies

I was

___ Musing on the state of the world,
___ Avoiding work,
___ Feeling pretty mad,

when, to my complete surprise, I had and epiphany. It suddenly occurred to me that

___ God is
___ Library patrons are
___ I am

exactly like 

___ A fountain
___ Bob Dylan
___ Time itself

"How so?" You ask. Well, I think both of them are


Which naturally brings me to my point. Which I would tell you if someone weren't

___ Trying to eat me
___ Needing me to register them for a library card
___ Singing what could, theoretically, be Blowing in the Wind, but it's impossible to tell
___ Visiting Divine Retribution upon me

So instead I will leave you with this thought:


I'm pretty sure that is the most important thing anyone has ever said to you, but I suspect you will find it to be

___ Merely amusing.
___ About par for the course around here.
___ Strangely incomplete.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

For my future readers

Every day it looks more likely that my work will not become canon. My blog will not be swept up into notoriety, or acclaim, or written into to annals of human experience. I won't get rich, or lionized, or passionately discussed. Millions will not flock to my blog like monarchs to milkweed.

I can live with that if I have to.

But while there stands one tiny chance, one lottery sliver of possibility, I don't want to pass up the opportunity to mark this time of my anonymity, to speak amongst the small number of my readers, and to excoriate with full prejudice and disdain, the seven billion people who are not reading my blog right now.

If, as is so likely, my blog falls off the face of the earth the second I stop writing it, if in 20 months or 20 years it is unfindable, unread, and forgotten, so be it. These words will be like a seed that never grew, a bright flower that did not bloom in its radiant designs of vindictive revenge. There will be no revenge and no cause for it to have ever been.

But if by some monumental freak, through what could only be a kind of astonishing miracle, I am launched to fame and glory, then my wrath here will grow wild and cover the land. A black mark will be emblazoned on the failing souls of every able person on this planet, circa 2015, every person other than those patiently reading this now, here in the years of its obscurity.

If in 2015 you are, or were, 16 or younger, you are safely exempted. Likewise if you are old and of a last guard unacquainted with computers, or you are too poor or illiterate or non English speaking to encounter me in my present time, you too are fully exempted.

But everyone else...

Here, let me put it to a kind of personal example. As it is unlikely to match your exact situation you will have to write yourself in. Let that be a part of your penance.

The year is 2035. My Nobel Prize is in my hand. My blog posts have been translated into hundreds of languages. This very post here is frequently assigned reading in 11th Grade classes (don't forget to ask your teacher where they were in 2015 kids). I am frequently quoted. My blog collections are readily available in volumes covered with fawning quotes by the most revered people on the planet.

I find the whole thing surprisingly disturbing, but that's not the point here.

You are a huge fan. You've read all eleven volumes. You can freely recite me, and often do. You even stick up for my more uneven later works. You are the same age in that future that I am right now, 50. You absolutely love clerkmanifesto. It is the most important work of art you encountered in your whole life.

Thank you so much. I am touched. I treasure you, my dear future reader.

But right now, in 2015, you are tooling about on the Internet. You are checking Facebook, looking at cats, Reddit, Boing Boing, reading wherever things lead you on the Internet, like falling down a hill forever. If one of my posts came before your eyes you wouldn't even recognize it for anything. It would pass through you like air. Above all, you are not here.

So I just want to say to you now this one small thing, for all time, and with all due affection, presence, wisdom and regard: 

Fuck you.

Monday, July 20, 2015


I worry. My mind endlessly prepares for the future. I anticipate. I play scenarios out in my head. I imagine what might happen. I fret. I run over things in my mind. What might happen? I don't know, but I try to get familiar with it ahead of time. I lay awake at dawn just picturing. I try to cover it all.

And yet, every single thing that ever happens to me, good or evil, happy or sad, tiny or monumental, comes as a complete and utter surprise to me. I see a mushroom on my morning walk and it is a moment of shocking wonder. My 900th blog post did not go viral overnight and I am stupefied by it. I put a cherry in my mouth and bite down. It is the dream of a cherry. It tastes wonderful, exactly like a cherry. Who could imagine something like that? My back hurts, I get a step raise at work, the check in machine breaks, a small bee flies among the clover at my feet, I sneeze, a gust of wind comes, someone says hi to me, surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise, surprise. There is nothing at all that happens that does not surprise me.

Naturally you might be wondering why go to all the trouble to picture and anticipate and fret about and run over what might happen in the future when every time anything happens I am completely surprised by it.

Ah, well, imagine just how surprised I'd be if I didn't anticipate.

Sunday, July 19, 2015


Because my blog is mysteriously unpopular, I can generally decide whether any particular post I write is popular or not. This is because the variations in reaction, from one post to the next, tend to be indistinguishable. And so then I can luxuriously decide that my post yesterday, in which a woman searching for guidebooks on Hawaii asked me "Where is Hawaii?" and I answered "In the Pacific", was incredibly popular. I can assume it was so popular that it is being passed along in thousands of anecdotes all across the libraries of the English speaking world.

And when something is that popular, it's time for a sequel!

This evening at the library a man came to me at the front desk at the library and asked "Where can I find change?" That's really how he asked it. Usually people just ask if I can make change for them, but he said "Where can I find change?"

But the three beats that were there where I could make a joke of it came as I was stumbling for a line I couldn't find. I didn't try to force it. I let it pass. "I can get change for you." I said.

I went to the cash register and got four quarters for his dollar. Sometimes one gets the perfect line and there's nothing one can do. I handed him the four quarters, looked him warmly in the eye and said "Here is your change, but real change comes from your heart."

He laughed.

I would like to fix him up with that Hawaii lady. 

Saturday, July 18, 2015

The extra services I provide

This is how I do my job. I am upstairs in the non fiction section, shelving through the travel section. I am at Canada. A patron approaches me. "Are you shelving?" She asks.

"Yes." I reply.

"Where is Hawaii?" She inquires.

Using elaborate demonstrative hand gestures I say "Hawaii is a group of islands located in the Pacific Ocean."

I know, but don't worry. I showed her where all our many Hawaii travel guidebooks were grouped together. Plus she can now skip the little geographic part at the start of those books.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Letter of apology

As some of my friends will know, I am a very busy person these days and have found the form letter to be an efficient means of communication. There's nothing like settling down to write a long personal letter and needing merely to check a few boxes and fill in a few short blank spaces to be on my way to the post office. So now, whenever I find myself engaged in other bulk writing activities, like sending fan mail, posting angry comments on the Internet, or demanding justice from companies I have transacted business with, I think, hey, couldn't I have a form letter for this?

Usually I can!

Naturally you are eager to see one of these useful form letters. Maybe you can even use it for yourself. I am happy to oblige.

But first a little background.

Overworked, desperately in need of vacation, angry at the summer heat, at management and at major system breakdowns at my workplace, I have been frightfully snappish to my co-workers. I have had to repeatedly apologize for my churlish behavior. Naturally all these apologies are tiresome and just make me more irritable, creating a vicious circle.

Then I remembered the great virtues of form letters. After dashing out the following "Apology at Work" letter, my problems at work, while not solved, are at least more manageable.

Dear ___________________;

You are one of my

___ Favorite
___ Most Solid
___ Most Ancient
___ (Blank)

co-workers, and I bitterly regret that I

___ Yelled at
___ Spoke harshly to
___ Mocked
___ Broke down weeping in front of

you. I'm afraid that

___ Stresses at work
___ Stresses at home
___ You

have pushed me over the edge. But that is no reason for me not remaining

___ Professional.
___ Civil.
___ Begrudgingly tolerant.
___ Properly disinterested in everything around me.

My disagreeable behavior was

___ Not your fault.
___ Other peoples' fault, and they are really the ones who should be apologizing.
___ Your fault, but I'm apologizing due to legal requirements.

I assure you my conduct will be

___ Better
___ Sneakier
___ The same because I have this handy apology form letter

in the future, and I deeply regret any

___ Sadness
___ Harm
___ Feelings of righteousness

I have caused you.

I apologize.


___ Co-worker,
___ Friend,
___ Nominal superior by virtue of seniority,

F. Calypso

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ring ring









Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Son of the sun

As I sit here sweltering in the thick heat of the heart of summer, I wait patiently for golf ball sized hail and maybe a tornado to come sweeping through. That will be something. Maybe it will cool the night off into the eighties. Maybe it will clear the air enough for the dew point to drop from "insufferably swampy" to "merely unpleasantly moist". A boy can dream.

It is a repeated surprise to me how tolerant I can be of February around here. The filthy ice, the stinging bitterness of the air, the endless layering of clothes, the darkness. But the root of my tolerance lies here, in mid July. Anything that is not the heat of July carries that glorious accolade of not July. Cold is just cold, bundle up, but I cannot escape the invading heat of July. 

I don't like it. 

It is not good for my health.

Why is it not good for my health?

I will tell you.

It is not so much the weird bleeding skin rashes it induces in me, or the fungal infections. It is not the way it stops me sleeping or makes me nauseous and dizzy half the time. Nor is it in the mysterious coughs that seize me late at night as I struggle to breathe. And it is not, as one might suspect, in the terrible back and neck injuries I incur by sleeping tensed up under blowing fans.

No, it is because it makes me hate the sun.

It is no good hating the sun. It is a dangerous thing to curse the sun. 

The innocent and life giving sun does not deserve it. But I cannot stop. The sun flings my consciousness wheeling angrily through the cosmos, sweating and muttering until there is an absolute darkness and the end of all time, or until of fall, whichever comes first.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Time stop passing

Lately all things seem to make me want time to pass. I hate the swampy heat of summer and pine for September. I have two weeks of vacation coming, but so importantly they are not yet here. I'm not sure if I've ever needed a vacation so bad. Work is in a tiresome phase with broken machines and hard work and bad news. A dense forest of green, forming tomatoes in my garden taunts me with the promise of a thriving flood of ripe fruit that remains tauntingly out of reach. Writing, I confess, is a sometimes struggle that, given time, will surely work itself out. Fruit fly invasions, mosquito season, play out their short, endless cycles. And all the house renovations that have claimed my wife and I are so nearly done, but so not done, and are most unbearable of all, I think, when they are in their last dregs.

Everything in me seems to cry out in a little agony; let time pass. Let just a little time pass.

But the tiger lilies are blooming.  

Right exactly now the tiger lilies are blooming.

These are by far the best flowers in our light starved yard. They grow on mad stalks with 20 heavy blooms that overwhelm their modest plants. Some topple over under the weight of humidity and all their massive flowers. Yesterday I cut one of these glorious, mythological creatures and put it in a glass on our small dining table. It slowly showers petals from its nine giant flowers. They are the color of the fruit of pale cantaloupes, but that won't describe it. Perhaps you have heard that bees can see into the ultra violet spectrum where humans cannot see? These flowers, these giant, pale cantaloupe flowers, with stamens fat full of vermilion pollen you can paint a house with, these flowers open the doors of our eyes and let us glimpse, nakedly, into the ultra violet spectrum that only bees can see. 

In simple daylight, if you'll just look for it, these flowers glow.

So to hell with time passing. I won't have it. Please let the lilies last a little longer. Turn up the heat and make it more humid. Leave me to work every hour and lock the doors. Postpone vacation and turn my writing sour. Cover me with bug bites, I can itch some more, and add a dozen chores to my groaning list. I need no sleep or tomatoes or an end to anything. 

Just give me another day of the lilies.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Psychologically speaking

Yesterday, just after finishing writing "Seven pithy criticisms of God", one of the toes on my left foot really started to hurt. This could have been divine retribution, or it could have been ascribable to aging, the problematic evolutionary design of feet, or simple bad luck. All of these explanations would richly support my arguments (such as they were) in yesterday's post, briefly, that God could stand to be considerably more friendly and open handed and nicer. The pain in my toe could also be a metaphor for me kicking my foot against the stone wall of the world. That the world is a stone wall would support my contentions about God as well, I suppose, but I'm pretty sure that ultimately, what this last one is truly all about, is me.

And so it is when one tries to talk about God. No matter how good someone is at it, Chuang Tzu, or Jesus, Nietzsche or Leila Ahmed, no matter how professorial, priestly, historical, funny, objective, wise, spiritual, detached, or scholarly, the thing you really end up talking about, deep down in the truth of the thing, is yourself. Your culture, your politics, your parents, 


Sunday, July 12, 2015

Seven quotes against God

As the only blogger, indeed as the only writer, and furthermore as the only theologian currently working in protest against god I cannot help my growing sense that I am in at the ground floor. As catastrophic climate change reaps death through the world and resurgent religious fundamentalism plays out its bloody hand I think the idea that this is all sort of god's fault is going to catch on big time. But so far it's just me. I have a monopoly on nothing. But what a good time to get in cheap! Buy low and sell high they say. So I thought I'd better start making my mark on all this valueless real estate so that eventually, when everyone wants a piece of it, they'll find my initials are all over it already.

In that spirit I am going to set down some precepts here in clerkmanifesto. I am thus serving notice of ownership on the following concepts and quips:

1. It's not blasphemy if it's accurate.

2. What is commonly understood as taking God's name in vain is mere redundancy.

3. "Free Will" is a theological concept meaning "Whoops!".

4. There is a god, but no devil, the position already being taken.

5. God is a democracy with only one candidate and no option to abstain.

6. God has a wise, secret plan, but forgot it.

7. We all work for God, but no one is paid.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Sad news

I received some sad news today. Sad for me.  It was delivered to me on the basis of strict confidentiality. I probably shouldn't even be saying this much.

No, this isn't satire.

No, this isn't really about me, nor do you need to worry for me or for anyone I know.

No, this isn't really appropriate material for a blog post. I am restricted from telling you anything and it would be wrong to even give you a hint.

In fact, to even discuss this entirely true issue any further it would be better if I started being misleading. It would be better at this point if I threw you off the track. I don't want anyone guessing something close to the truth.

I can keep a secret.

Yes, it has to do with my library's experimental biocard skin grafts.

Yes, it has to do with the new "roaming cat" rules in my Minneapolis Neighborhood.

Yes, it has to do with a continuation of anti raw cheese laws announced by U.S. Customs.

No, it doesn't. Not really. I cannot lie to you, but in a couple of months I can tell you the truth and you can say "Oh. Is that supposed to mean something to me?"

I cannot answer that question at this time.