By Anasazi Beanburger, Slender “Slim” Pickens, Carlos “Kinko” Balboa, Ford Prefect, Ford Focus, Ford Ham, Ford Lincoln, Ford Orr, Ford E. Loofahpate, Ford A. Stream, “Fieldy” Byrne, Penny Pincher, and Penny Cutter
Epigraph: “April is the cruelest month because the earth would rather stay dead and dreamless than be dragged back to giddy life by sun and spring rain.” --Roy Marshrigger
A friendly critic counsels against too many quotations. Ever eager to please, we’ll postpone them till farther down this path. We’re using the royal “we” this issue.
How about a quiz: See the picture below? Which eye is natural, and which a marvel of the glazier’s art?
No, this is not Caitlin Jenner.
We don’t like the new symbol arrangement on Connecticut registration plates. Ones like MT 8121 were fine. Then came ones like 419 PLR -- nice, balanced, practical. The alphabet is base 26 while the 0-9 system is only base 10 -- fewer permutations.
That’s where things should have stayed. After all, 10 x 10 x 10 x 26 x 26 x 26 = 17,576,000. Halve that total because reasons and you still have 8 million possible plates. Why isn’t that enough?
And if Connecticut ever used up 8 million numbers, the DMV could reverse the sequence and start fresh: PLR 419. Another 8 million. Don’t fix it if it ain’t broke.
But no, as John Belushi used to say before he joined the choir invisible. They started in with plates like 1AMVD8 -- numeral, four letters, numeral. Yuk. Then somebody thought to put a dot in the middle: 1AM-VD8. One hair less yucky.
At any distance that looked like a weird vanity plate: I AM VOB. From Planet Vega, perhaps? But the style at least had symmetry: #LL-LL#.
Just when one was reconciling oneself -- whoops, we’re “weeing” ourselves this issue -- just when we were reconciling ourselves to the newest scheme, they changed it again: VQ 21435. Five digits in a row! Did you ever see anything so New York in your life?
This scheme could be slightly improved by spacing it like old-fashioned telephone numbers: DE6-5627, but they’ve broken our will to clean up after them. It’s like cleaning up after Donald Trump or a circus elephant: by the time you’re done, there’s another mess. Eventually you just get tired, like Paul Manafort, and start mailing it in. This is why we can’t have nice things in Connecticut. Government hands off our license plates!
Here’s an idea: after November, or after he's fired, whichever comes first, hire Paul Manafort to fix the public image of the Department of Motor Vehicles. (I’d call it the Department of Making Victims but that would be a cheap shot. Also not very funny.)
The quickest way to make the DMV’s approval ratings soar would be for it to do its job with the unobtrusive efficiency of the waiters at the old Honiss Oyster House in Hartford. Sorry for the crazy talk.
Maybe a realistic plan would be to turn the operations of the department over to the L.L. Bean telephone support operation in Freeport, Maine. Maybe then you could not only renew your registration by phone 24/7/365 (366 in leap years), but also get a free 3-inch fish-gutting knife in the mail for your trouble.
We could keep the commissioner, but reduce his or her duties to appearing on television every night to run a lottery disposing of one of the plate numbers between 1 and 9,999. Presently those numbers go to people who knew Governor Trumbull.
Now can we do quotations? No? Not yet?
Okay, up at Real Art Ways in Hartford, they have an exhibit of quilts, each illustrating a cliche or hackneyed word or phrase: Wage Slave; Power Play; Bottom Feeder; Loser; No Future; Game Changer; and our favorite: Will Work For Art.
Speaking of art, when you translate Japanese haiku into English, they don’t keep the original syllabic structure except sometimes by accident. All translation is vandalism.
Sometimes you feel like a nut; sometimes you don’t. Either way, you are.
|“If you’re going to keep staring at me, we may as well know each other’s names. I’m Hillary Rodham.”|
That was a picture caption, but also a quotation, so the dam has broken.
“[I]t’s possible to find people morally reprehensible even if their views happen to intersect with yours on various issues. It is possible to sporadically agree with someone and also believe that this person undermines your cause in the long run.” --Some Bernie or Cruz supporter
Back to African proverbs that drive us crazy: ““Let the heart be overflowing but let the mouth be restrained.” What does that mean? Don’t express your deepest emotions? Speak not in anger? Least said, soonest mended? Speak truth to power and you’ll regret it?
“Do not scratch scabies when they do not itch.” Why not? Because it will make them itch? Never trouble trouble till trouble troubles you? Let sleeping dogs lie?
“A fool is a wise person’s ladder.” Never give a sucker an even break? A wise person learns from a fool’s folly and thereby avoids committing her own?
“The one who spends a night with chickens will cackle in the morning.” You are molded by those with whom you associate? Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas? The best way to learn a language is to mingle with native speakers? One night with chickens will unhinge you? (Aren’t chickens quiet at night?)
An old man’s soliloquy from “Einstein and the Polar Bear,” a 1982 play by Tom Griffin:
I met Einstein once. It was years ago. I was in Watch Hill, Rhode Island. A younger man. It was in a little green coffee shop. Green with big windows in the front. And newspaper racks out under the awning. And postcards on the counter. He wasn't very tall. His clothes were thick and dark. He wore a cap. Like a fisherman. Everybody called the man behind the counter Tiny. But he weighed almost four hundred pounds. I sipped at my coffee. I was wearing my nice blue suit. I'd been to see a man. Einstein walked in. He sat down two stools away. To my right. We were the only customers. Then, he spoke. He asked me, "Could you pass me a napkin, please?" "Sure," I said. There was a napkin container, one of those silvery things, right in front of me. I slid it over to him. Just slid it on the counter. It was the greatest day of my life.
Black Matter Lives! Invisible Black Matter, abbreviated IBM, is pronounced in Japanese as “Inbijiburu Burakku Matã.” International Business Machines Corporation would sue for trade name infringement, but Inbijiburu Burakku Matã has no known assets and makes up 96% of all the matter in the universe, so service of process might be hard, and finding impartial jurors.
Not all dementia is from Alzheimer’s Disease. Much more treatable conditions can cause dementia, like Lyme Disease. Ask Kris Kristofferson. The lesson: don’t assume it's Alzheimer’s -- test for Lyme Disease and the other possibly treatable causes.
Karen Swartz should re-publish her lemonade recipe about now. She has been neglecting her Eye following.
Flashback: Lily Tomlin as Ernestine, a telephone operator, dunning Gore Vidal and suggesting that if he doesn’t pay his phone bill, she’ll release recordings of some of his calls with young men: “Oh, Mr. Viddle, ‘blackmail’ is such an ugly word. Let’s just call it a vicious threat.”
How sad that the ancient definition of justice, “to each his own” -- meaning roughly “let each person get what’s coming to him” -- morphed into “each to his own,” meaning roughly “whatever floats your boat.”
Beach reading caution: The poetry of demons will corrupt your soul and sear your eyes and ears in the process, and your lips if you lip-read. So be careful what you develop a taste for.
From time to time
The clouds give rest
To the moon-beholders.
-- Matsuo Bashō
Blowing from the west
Fallen leaves gather
In the east.
-- Yosa Buson
Over the wintry forest,
winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.
-- Natsume Soseki
Don’t worry, spiders,
I keep house
The phrase “cellar door” is thought one of the most euphonious in English. The British pronounce it like the Spanish “celador,” which means “watchman.”
"Down by the old maelstrom/ There'll be a storm before the calm." --Tom Lehrer, We'll All Go Together When We Go
Shantih. Shantih. Shantih. That’s all for now.