by Macolm “Mal” Tambien-Gracias
Epigraph: “You have no idea how much it contributes to the general politeness and pleasantness of diplomacy when you have a little quiet armed force in the background.” --George Kennan
“A plan is what you have till you get punched in the face.” --New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, quoting Mike Tyson, philosopher
There’s an establishment near the new Costco: “Seoul BBQ & Sushi.” Good name for a law firm.
The new Costco is a little farther from Middletown than the Sam’s Club we frequent, but the Costco is bigger and fresher, so for now we’re switchers. Maybe the Sam’s Club will “up its game” to fight the new competition.
Correction: last issue’s extract from Colcannon’s Wake by Shamus Shoyce was from Chapter MIXLID, not Chapter MILDIX. The Colonel regrets the error; he is désolé (Fr., adj.: fishless, shoeless, or both).
How cheery the propane fire in the fireplace insert in the three-season room that one looks into when washing dishes by hand in our kitchen. Since Rani Jahlers keeps a few plants in that room during winter, we have a thermostat. When the room falls to 45 degrees Fahrenheit, the fire comes on, runs till the fans push enough hot air into the room to reach the required temp, and goes out. For some reason, I find it hilarious, the way babies like peek-a-boo.
"The West gave the East computers and plastic, and the East gave the West gunpowder and silk, but undergraduates have given us nothing." --Roy Marshrigger
The Superbowl seemed endless. For reasons I never bothered to learn, our neighborhood had a 20-minute power outage during the game. When the power came back, the game was still going on. At 9pm, we switched over to Downton Abbey, watched the hour-long episode, and went back to the game, still in progress. The commercials were disappointing, too. Baby-monkey-puppy? No more GMOs, please.
Maine is the only state whose name has one syllable and which borders just one other state (New Hampshire). Otherwise, Maine is surrounded by Canada and ocean.
A smartphone zombie is called a “smombie.” I didn’t make that up, but it's feeble enough to be one of mine.
Moïse Kapenda Tshombe (sometimes written Tshombé) (10 November 1919 – 29 June 1969) was a Congolese politician, in the country now known as the Democratic Republic of Congo. This is what he looked like at one time:
“The invention of the Buffalo chicken wing came about because of the delivery of some chicken wings instead of the backs and necks that were ordinarily used in making spaghetti sauce.” --Calvin Trillin in The New Yorker, 1980
The past tense of “chide” is “chid.” Or “chided.”
The novel Infinite Jest was published twenty years ago. Its author, David Foster Wallace, died by his own hand nine years ago, a victim of lifelong depression. Nobody today writes sentences like his. Two examples follow.
“The second shift’s 1600h siren down at Sunstrand Power & Light is creepily muffled by the no-sound of falling snow.”
“But he was a gifted burglar, when he burgled -- though the size of a young dinosaur, with a massive and almost perfectly square head he used to amuse his friends when drunk by letting them open and close elevator doors on.”
“Comedones” are the skin-coloured, small bumps (papules) frequently found on the forehead and chin of those with acne. A single lesion is a “comedo.” Open comedones are blackheads; black from surface pigment (melanin), not from dirt. Closed comedones are whiteheads; the follicle is completely blocked.
“Non-comedogenic,” seen on some makeup labels, refers to a product that doesn’t block the pores and so doesn’t risk the appearance of blackheads. Other works say that the more usual medical term these days is “comedone,” not "comedo," a fact the OED hasn’t yet got around to noticing.
You’d think that “non-comedonic” would be be better than “non-comedogenic,” but who knows? Maybe the word “comedonic” is needed elsewhere, to mean “funny, but sardonic.”
Do you really trust the translators of the 20th-century Chinese literature you read? Neither do I. If the translation is faulty or biased (remember: “all translation is vandalism”), you and I may not have a fully rounded view of Chinese literature of that period. So let's keep our voice down when the subject comes up at cocktail parties and quilting bees.
Have you a towering pile of books to read, and little progress to boast? Are you looking for books to skip entirely? Well, if you dislike eye-gouging, excessive violence, raunchy language, sexist attitudes, tasteless humor, adolescent clowning, general vulgarity, and characters named Weasel and Booger, skip Honky Tonk Samurai by Joe R. Lansdale. If not, not.
“Let’s kill the romantic view of the alcoholic writer. Let’s never pretend that the booze is any less a threat to the work than to the body. In particular, let’s knife the idea of the booze as muse. The booze has its own voice but it’s not the voice of the writer. Nor is the booze an enabling buffer that lets the sensitive writer work with otherwise too painful material. Maybe some great work was made possible by alcohol, but what made the work possible also damaged it. The booze always deeply compromises the occasionally glorious fruits of alcoholic composition. Let’s face it: alcoholism is not a portal to the world’s dark truths, but a deforming force and a protracted form of suicide.” --after Leslie Jamison
Zen P.S.: “When you reach the top, keep climbing.”
Mitch Hedberg P.S.: “I wanted to buy a candle holder, but the store didn’t have one. So I bought a cake.”
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