Tuesday, July 31, 2018


I recently posted something I wrote here about libraries onto a relevant page on the Internet. I thought it would perhaps be of interest there to some people, and perhaps it was. But after a few hours all I got from it directly was an angry comment inspired, apparently, by a joke in it about Forbes being an Alt-Right magazine that was taken with an all too deadpan literalness. In the brief attack that followed I was called an SJW.

For those of you not versed fully on Internet acronyms, SJW means Single Jewish Woman. While I must assert that I am Jewish, I am most delightedly not Single, and I am also not a Woman, though because of my high voice I am occasionally mistaken for one on the phone, mostly by old men and telemarketers.

What's that?

SJW doesn't stand for Single Jewish Woman? It stands for Social Justice Warrior?

Oh. Okay. I'll take your word for it. But you could see my mistake. A person inclined to use the derisive and sarcastic term SJW, is likely to feel pretty much the same about both Single Jewish Women and Social Justice Warriors; bizarrely hostile, uncomfortable, and all... shadowy.

But fine, Social Justice Warrior. I have now been called a Social Justice Warrior.

Well... that's nice. I don't understand. That seems like a good thing to be. I mean, I can try. I want justice for and in society. And I guess I can try to be a Warrior for good.

But it's supposed to be a hostile criticism.

How am I supposed to respond to such a thing?

Say you're walking down the street and a cat comes along and you bend down and skirtch it. Someone nearby sees this and says derisively, in a mean tone of voice "Well aren't you an FTA?"

"What's an FTA?" You ask.

"Friend To Animals." But they say it like it's bad. So you kind of want to say

"I am not a Friend To Animals!"

 Except you are actually quite friendly with animals and are pretty happy and proud to be so, so you don't say anything while this jerkface just walks away. And you're kind of worked up now but you have no idea what to do.

But then all of the sudden the adorable but now angry cat goes running at jerkface in a fury and attacks him! He just scratches the jerkface guy to hell.  I mean he savages him so bad that this guy just bleeds to death right there!

It's horrible!

And then the kitty comes over to you, purring and with bloodied whiskers glowing like jewels in the sun,  and you give him a nice long skirtch on his head. "What a good kitty." You say in a baby voice. "What a nice little Social Justice Warrior you are!"

And (almost) everyone lives happily ever after.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Sic semper tyrannis

Just when you think everything is okay at the library you work at, that is, that no one does much in the way of constructive labor, but we all somehow manage to get the job done anyway, something happens.

Something happened.

I was on the phones, which were occasionally ringing. But the other job on the phones is processing requests and there weren't any requests to process. When a bin of requested books fills up on the machine it gets pushed over to the phones. but no bins were filling up because the person on the machine wasn't doing their job. They were chatting with co-workers and working on some irrelevant tangential project of their own. Coincidentally then I was chatting with co-workers and working on some irrelevant tangential project of my own.

It is possible we were both bugging each other in our not working. But I had no tools to make the person on the machine work. Only the person on the machine had recourse to make me work. They could do this by the noble process of feeding our numerous delivery items onto the machine, especially things that were likely requested by library patrons, and soon they would have a full a bin of things to push over to me. If they really tried they could even bury me in multiple bins of stuff to process and I could do nothing about it but graciously accept it in good spirit. But they didn't do this. Instead they bizarrely broke the sacred, unwritten rules. They pushed over a barely half filled bin of requested books for me to process and then went back to not doing their job.

This was passive aggressive library speak for "fuck you".

Now I was only prevented from walking over to them and saying "fuck you to you too" by two devices:

1. I don't say "fuck you" to my co-workers. And

2. The person who did this was my manager.

So I did the only thing I could do in this sad and unjust situation. 

I wrote this.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Another adventure with Time Traveler Man

He fights for goodness and justice using his amazing ability to travel through time. He could just play the stock market and wallow in money but instead he is the virtuous superhero known throughout the land as:

Time Traveler Man!

When we last left Time Traveler Man he was dealing with the sticky problem of a wholly corrupt and entirely unstable President. A citizen was begging for help as the country slid into civil war and chaos...

"Time Traveler Man!"

"Yes, Citizen?"

"I know you said your time travel powers only allow you to travel a short distance in time and so you can't stop this President from being elected, but isn't there some scandal, or some short term way to bring him down?"

"I wish there was, Citizen." Replied Time Travel Man sadly. "Many scandals that you know of have been things I've exposed. The embarrassing Press Conference in Russia was through my careful arrangements. Scandals with payments to Playmates and Porn Stars. Overt lies emphatically exposed. But none of them has budged the Republican support for him."

"Darn!" Cried the citizen. "What would it take? Maybe if he started a nuclear war?"

"He did."

"He did?"

"117 times now."

"Wow." Responded the citizen quietly. "You've been busy."

"I've been busy."

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Enobling library work

Just this once, in one of these library stories, let's start with the punchline:

"I don't know how anything gets done around here!"

Now that that's taken care of we can get down to our real message.

I was shelving in Non Fiction, which on the hour was supposed to switch to me shelving in Fiction. But I'd been reading and writing in the stacks so much that it was 20 after the hour by the time I had an empty cart to bring down for a new Fiction one. In the pre elevator room one of my colleagues was standing with a full cart of books, talking on their cell phone, having a particularly intense discussion with one of their children. I dashed into the elevator and pressed the down button several hundred times until the door finally closed.

Downstairs the automated check in machine was entirely abandoned. I suspected what this meant and confirmed it with our posted schedule; one of my managers was assigned to the machine. Only the managers would treat that responsibility so cavalierly and leave so much work for the people to come. This manager was off in their office while the machine either idled or cranked off towards some disaster. I went around straightening bins with the real motive of causing them to fill up so that the machine display would light up with lots of alarming red boxes.

The person on phones was doing nothing and staring vacantly into space in a vaguely alarming way, but, hey, I've been there. Another co-worker, I'm not sure where she was assigned, probably Non Fiction, was watching some inscrutable, corporate looking video with sound so low I doubt she could properly hear.

One other person was also shelving in Fiction with me, meaning I'd want to try to carefully choose a cart that kept us from shelving in the same place. But since I'd seen on the schedule who that person was I knew there was no way in hell he was upstairs shelving. He was either smoking in the parking lot or off on some secret mission of his own, and I could take whatever cart I wanted.

Upstairs in the elevator anteroom my co-worker was still there on the phone, just wrapping up the discussion. I rolled my cart out into the public area, behind where two librarians were aimlessly surfing the Internet, looking very bored, and I wheeled into the quiet respite of Fiction. I shelved for about ten minutes and then wrote most of this.

Maybe I really belong here after all.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Library pyromaniac

 A man came to me at the front desk of the library.

"I just thought you should know," He began. "Someone lit a fire in the Men's Room."

"Really." I said.

"It's out now," He assured me, "But there are scorch marks on the wall, some burnt stuff on the floor, and," He added significantly, "It smells terrible in there!"

"Thank you. I'll check it out."

It wasn't long before I had the chance to inspect our fire damage. He was right. There was a clump of what looked like burned through paper by the urinals, and there were some minor scorch marks down at the base of the wall.

But he was completely wrong about the last thing. I have had cause to venture into that bathroom many times over the years, though almost never to actually go to the bathroom in it. And I can say its smell has ranged from barely tolerable to horrifying. Now it smelled great. It smelled fantastic. It smelled like a campfire in the woods.

As the supply person for my library I buy deodorizing gels or sprays for our two poorly ventilated staff bathrooms. I have never been satisfied with any of them. But now I am thinking, what if I forget all the weird products alleging to smell of lavender and kiwis? What if I save the library a little money?

Why don't I just pop into those bathrooms every morning and simply start a small fire?

You might wonder: what if it sets off the smoke detector?


"Pay no attention to the smoke detectors everyone. I'm just deodorizing the bathrooms. 

Who wants a marshmallow?"

Thursday, July 26, 2018

More adventures with: Time Traveler Man!

Welcome to yet another thrilling adventure of:

Time Traveler Man!

He's the superhero who can travel through up to 24 hours of time in any direction! And while gambling and speculation could make him the richest man in the world, he instead uses his powers to vanquish evil and uphold goodness, justice, and rightness.

As we join our hero today he is walking the streets of the great metropolis, looking for wrongs to right!

At that moment a citizen races up to Time Traveler Man. An emergency is clearly afoot. "Time Traveler Man, thank God I've found you!"

"Take a deep breath and tell me what I can do for you citizen." Time Traveler Man said calmly.

"It's the President!" Cried the citizen, still a little breathlessly. "A terrible, terrible man is the President and it's tearing the country apart. You've got to go back in time and stop it from happening!"

Time Traveler Man looked sadly at the citizen. "I'm sorry citizen, my powers are not unlimited. I can only travel back in time up to 24 hours. There is no way for me to go back in time nearly far enough to stop this particular disaster."

"But you were our last hope!" And as despair sometimes drives men to anger, so it was with this citizen. "What good are your powers if you can't fix this? You are no superhero sir, you are a gimmick, a pointless, useless..."

"Excuse me, citizen," Time Traveler Man quietly interrupted. "I do want to hear what you have to say here, but if you could just step over to the left, out of the way of the foot traffic."

Taken aback the citizen stepped aside with The Time Traveler Man. A bare moment after he did so a large and ugly plop of bird excrement fell from the sky right where he had been standing. The citizen looked at the grotesque greenish plop of poo on the ground precisely where he had been, then he looked questioningly at Time Traveler Man. 

Time Traveler Man nodded in acknowledgement.

"I withdraw all my criticisms and objections." Said the citizen humbly. "Keep up the good work, and, thank you Time Traveler Man."

"I do what I can." Replied Time Traveler Man. "Fight the good fight. And a C-note on Lamont's Swifty to Show in the third race at Saratoga would not go amiss." He winked, and then Time Traveler Man turned away.

The good deeds never end! Join us you never know when for more exciting adventures with... Time Traveler Man!

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

First shot fired in war on libraries

Because the public library is a beloved government institution, socialist, egalitarian, intellectual, democratic, and beautiful, I have long expected the Right to eventually come after it. I have worked in a public library for nearly a quarter of a century and the only great surprise of those years has been how long it took for them to fire their first shot.

But this week that first shot finally came. The alt-right magazine called Forbes (sorry, I meant to say "The mainstream magazine called Forbes"- such an easy mistake to make!) dug themselves up an obscure economics professor, in a graveyard, under a full moon, at midnight, handed him a crappy old gun they used to shoot at nuns in the eighties in Central America, and sent him off to fire the first salvo.

"Amazon should replace local libraries." He wrote, and, well, that about covered it, except maybe with the idea that Starbucks, with all their handy chairs and tables, would help too. Oh, there was a scattering of wildly unresearched paragraphs from the author, who was apparently completely unacquainted with modern libraries, but they were all as logically absurd as the premise. But none of that was the point. Coherent argument was not the point of this article. The statements were not supportable, it was not reasoned, nor was it even particularly intelligible. It wasn't even trying to convince anyone. This was merely a disposable lunatic sent to fire above a crowd to see what happened.

What happened was librarians were up in arms. They were outraged. They both passionately and calmly argued. They raged and refuted the absurd points of the article. The news story, such as it was, was more about the riled librarians' response than it was about the insignificant mosquito of an article.

But that, that response of the librarians, really was the point of the article. The conscious and unconscious strategy behind it was to rile, to encourage a mob to shout it down. It was an argument made to be irresistibly easy to refute. The point was to announce the argument in a way that produced as much noise as possible and then quietly back away. I'm pretty sure I read this morning that Forbes disappeared the article from its site.

And if it worked the way it's supposed to work it planted a little seed. Whereas before there was no question about the inevitability of the public library, no discussion about whether it should exist or not, now maybe there can be an argument. There can be sides. And perhaps most importantly of all there can be a middle ground. Donald Trump himself started as an absurd joke of a candidate that no meaningful Republican would take seriously. You might know how that alt-right triumph played out. The power is never in the arguments, it's in the attention.

Whether this absurd little article worked or not in the long run remains to be seen. But its first step was successful. Traditionally the next step will be a slightly more reasoned argument, one that runs along the lines of: "Hey, that article was off the mark, and I'm not out on that lunatic fringe, but maybe it has some points. Maybe there are businesses that provide some of what the libraries provide. Maybe we still need libraries, but not as much." This might get soundly argued down too. But that won't be the point either. The point will be merely to get the arguments out there. And when the next economic crisis happens, and local economies are stretched to the breaking point, politicians and their supporters will look to the libraries with a new eye. There will be arguments available then along a spectrum, however weak they are, that they can use to erode their libraries, save money, and, if necessary, close them down.

Maybe here is what we learned and can learn from this episode:

Librarians can get loud. That's good. But maybe don't waste it on defending our libraries from cranks. How about a little offense. How about:

Libraries are the last bulwark of Democracy! They need more money, more staff, more facilities and longer hours! Double all their budgets now if you want America as you know it to survive. This is not a partisan issue. It is Conservative and Liberal. It is Revolutionary and Regressive. Libraries are good for people who love America. If you love America you will support libraries.

We need more libraries, bigger libraries, and richer libraries, all night libraries, libraries on every block, fancy, marble, 200 story tall libraries with free lunches, quality leather furniture, vast millions of volumes, and Dale Chihuly Chandeliers. 

Or our enemies will win.

Now there, there's an argument I'm interested in.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Adventures of Time Traveler Man!

Welcome to another thrilling adventure of:

Time Traveler Man!

He's the superhero who can travel through up to 24 hours of time in any direction! And while gambling and speculation could make him the richest man in the world, he instead uses his powers to vanquish evil and uphold goodness, justice, and rightness.

As we join our hero today he is pointing a gun at the head of a vile and dangerous murderer, who, it so happens, hasn't murdered anyone yet.

"I'm innocent!" Cried John Lake. "You've got to believe me. I've never murdered anyone in my life!"

"I can't deny that," replied Time Traveler Man calmly, only slightly relaxing his carefully aimed gun. "But in about seven hours you will heinously stab poor Lou Watson to death. I'm here to make sure that doesn't happen."

"You can't kill me for something I haven't yet done! I swear to you, let me go and I won't go anywhere near Lou Watson ever again!"

"Ah, alas." Said Time Traveler Man sadly, leveling his pistol into a position of more immediate and deadly aim. "You've said that to me before."

"Wait!" Yelled John Lake. "I was a fool that time. You've got to give me one more chance. You've got to believe me! On my life I promise you this time I won't harm a hair on Lou's head."

"That, I am afraid, is word for word what you said to me the last time we met."

This fact staggered and disappointed John Lake. 

"Shoot" He uttered.

This has been another thrilling episode of Time Traveler Man. Tune in again sometime. You never know when because he's... Time Traveler Man, and who knows when he might appear.

Monday, July 23, 2018

The wisdom of Cynthia Rylant

It's a sleepy afternoon here in Minneapolis. The windows are all open and sometimes a Summer breeze reaches through and makes everything... perfect. I am sitting on a couch with my wife feeling happy. And I am thinking about ambition, and I am thinking about how I try, every day, when I write my blog post. And I am thinking about how I always somehow succeed and fail at the same time.

Before I started to write this I had a corn tortilla quesadilla: two corn tortillas with Cedar Grove Extra Sharp Cheddar in between, sauteed in olive oil, salt, and lime juice. Before that I read an old kids' book by Cynthia Rylant, who is a very popular writer around my house these days. The book was a Cobble Street Cousins book called Some Good News.

In the Cobble Street Cousins books three nine year old cousins, Tess, Lily, and Rosie are happily living with their young Aunt while their parents are touring with the ballet for a year.

A lot of books I read have evisceration, or ancient curses and prophecies, or saving the world- definitely lots of saving the world. This book is sort of opposite to all that. Nothing much happens in this book. The Cobble Street Cousins, who get along quite well, decide to make a newspaper. They do. They print 25 copies and hand them out. It's charming and it all goes nicely.

That's about it.

Mostly I am telling you all this so you will have a kind of context for the following passage that takes place during an amiable get together at the end of the book.

"Michael is studying to be a botanist," Lily told Mr. Harrison.

"How nice," said the elderly man. "What a wonderful way to spend one's life, studying plants."

Michael smiled.

He liked Mr. Harrison already.

"I want to spend my life singing," said Tess.

"I want to spend mine writing," said Lily.

Everyone looked at Rosie.

"I want cats," said Rosie.

They all laughed.

Why am I telling you this?

I want cats.

How about this:

I would like to have less ambition and more fun.

Am I having fun now? You ask.

Yeah, sure, when the breeze comes in.

And that time I said I want cats.

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.

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.


"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.


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.


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


Auntie Jen White is an Anti-Semite


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!


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...


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?


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.


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...