Wednesday, January 29, 2014

A Valid Question

How will I choose...

What Are You Doing Here?


I said, what are you doing here?

I don't understand the question.

It's very simple.  I'm not sure I can make it simpler.  What.  Are.  You.  Doing.  Here.

Here?  Like, here on this blog?

Exactly.  What are you doing?





I'm... None of your beeswax, you disembodied voice.  I started a blog.  I write stuff.  I post it.  Then, a dozen people turn up to read it (maybe two dozen, on a really good day).  Anyway - it's mine.  And what I do here is my concern, not yours.

Okay, look.  Maybe we got off on the wrong foot...

Yeah, the wrong-- wait.  You have feet?

Don't change the subject!

What subject?  You just showed up and started picking at me about... I don't know what... my *intentions* with my blog?  Is that it?

That's it.  What do you think it is that you are actually doing here?

Ah - you're thrown off by all the hobo stuff.  No worries.  I've got a page that EXPLAINS THE HOBOES...

No.  We understand the hoboes.  John Hodgman.  Back stories for his list of hobo names.  We get it.  And no, we don't even care to ask whether you plan on doing all 700 of them.  Make 'em a separate blog.  Don't make 'em a separate blog.  Do 'em all.  Stop now.  We don't give a rat's red rump.  That's neither here nor there.

Okay - that's kind of a relief, because if I'm being honest, I really don't know where I'm going with the whole hobo thing.  But, if that's not it, then just what are you asking, you who seem to have become plural?

What are you doing here?  How hard is that?

It's harder than it sounds, if you're asking existential questions of a blog and/or its blogger...

You need a minute?  We're totally okay with you taking a minute...

2,640 minutes later...

Okay.  Done.  I don't need any more minutes.

You have an answer?


To "What are you doing here?"


Alright, then.  Let's hear it.

You aren't going to like it.

We never said there's a wrong answer, did we?  Come on - out with it.

Okay, but don't say I didn't warn you about how very much you should be prepared to not like it...

It's fine.  GO.

I don't know, and I don't care.



No, no.  It's cool.  You don't know what you're doing here, and you don't care.


You don't care what about what you're doing, or you don't care that you don't know?


We find you annoying.  Go back to your hoboes.  Wait - are you going to move the hoboes to their own blog, or what?  We noticed the new layout, here.  Kudos on your decision to stop making your readers' eyes bleed with that green-on-black text!

I find YOU annoying.  And I think that for now, the hoboes can stay here.  I may not know what I'm doing here, but I generally enjoy it, and the thought of doing whatever it is that I am doing on two separate blogs is just wholly unappealing.

Can we ask again in a month or two?

Oh, would you please?  That would be great.

An attempt at matching the not-the-same-old-writing-prompt from my buddies at STUDIO 30 PLUS with a not-the-same-old-post.  And yes, I really don't know what I'm doing, here (I might care a little bit, though).

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ten Things Without Which...

Hello, Reader(s)!

It's been a while since I did a real bloggy blog post, so tonight, good people, let's get bloggy.  If you know me, you know that I like to complain.  It's one of the things I do best.  I guess you could say I'm a natural.  But it's not ALL I do.  I don't want it to define me.  So here's a list, in no particular order, of


One:  Steve Martin.  Not so much Steve Martin the actor, although even in that regard, he's more skilled than you might think - despite the veritable plethora of sub-par roles he has played, over the years.  Not even so much Steve Martin the stand-up comedian.  Don't get me wrong - he was a genius on stage, and he revolutionized the business.  

When I say the world is a better place because of him, I'm talking first about the writer - a gifted, surprisingly-thoughtful voice who can turn comedy into tragedy and vice-versa.  Second, I speak of the person - at least what we in the public get to see of him.  He's generally the smartest person in any room, but will only admit it when it's funny to do so.  He's a study in restraint, and especially over the past couple of decades, his public persona reminds me of my father.  But above all else, he improves the planet with his banjo-playing.  He's self-taught, I believe, and masterful. 

Two:  Common Sense.  The fact that it is so breathtakingly close to extinction only serves to make it that much more precious and inspiring, when encountered.  

Three:  Animals - particularly wild ones - and the people who fight for them.  Pretty self-explanatory, that one.  Every time we allow another species to become relegated to a captive-only population - or to the history books - the planet becomes a little less good.  And yes, I know that some species, without any human impacts whatsoever, would still disappear on their own, but we've reached the point where that's well-nigh impossible.

Four:  Trains.  I like trains.  In most of the world, they are vitally important, but even in the U.S., they're pretty cool.  To look at a railroad track is to look at a continuum of the history of the industrial age.  Also, hoboes!

Five:  Intoxicants.  From alcohol to Xanax, and everything in-between, when used properly, intoxicants make the world a better place.  Hydrocodone, rum, beer, wine - all great tools, in the right hands.  Sexually-produced pheromones and endorphins - hell, don't forget runner's high!  Tell me the planet wouldn't suck without them.  Granted, we as a species are working overtime to prove that we're about as capable of responsibly handling these chemicals as we are our guns, money, and cars, but still.  Planet-enhancing stuff!

Six:  White Noise.  For those who can't do the intoxicants, or for the times when the intoxicants just aren't a viable option, white noise can be almost as good.  It's like a sonic coffee filter; on one side - gunk, and on the other, heaven/magic/nirvana.  I know some people can't stand white noise, so for them, number six is Silence.  Ahhh....

Seven:  [Maris].  She had to be on this list.  A planet without [Maris]?  Yeah - I would loathe that place, for it would be beyond shitty.  'Nuff said.

Eight:  Sarcasm.  (see number seven)

Nine:  Justin Timberlake.  I don't want to hear it.  Number nine is Justin Timberlake.  Deal with it.  Okay, then - Jennifer Lawrence.  Young, funny, smart, gifted people who manage to at least come off as relatively genuine.  Come on - what's not to like?

Ten:  People Who Are Nicer Than They Ought To Be.  You know the ones.  They comfort others when their own loved ones die.  They smile through the broken teeth of poverty.  They suffer mind-boggling injury, injustice, heartbreak, and just plain bad luck, and still forgive and help and encourage others.  I had Nelson Mandela in mind when I started this one, because he forgave a world of stuff I could never have forgiven - we all know the story.  But I kind of think that people that great aren't the ones I'm talking about, here.  

Oh super - now I can't think of any.  Well, hopefully the point is made.  There are people - lots of them - whose circumstances would turn most of us into bitter husks, but who somehow continue to be forces for good in the world.  The absence of those individuals would ruin this planet, and make me loathe it.

This list is far from complete.  There are whole bunches of things about which I cannot complain.  I figure, if I need to be reminded of that fact, maybe someone out there reading this might, too.  If not, that's cool.  (see number eight)

This here post was prompted by my friends at Studio Thirty Plus, whose prompts for this week are "LOATHE" and/or "PLANET."


Friday, January 17, 2014

Foreign Tomas, the Strangetalker Said...

[The following was translated and assembled from hieroglyphic scribble found along the Pennsylvania, New York Central, and Western Maryland railroads in 1942 - by rail and hobo historian Tommy Dummychuck (later "All-But-Dissertation Tommy Dummychuck").  Enjoy.]

"I haven't the time to waste on the pursuits of the common hobo, nor have I the slightest inclination to find it.  I should sooner die of starvation, my body digesting itself out of sheer mechanical desperation, than eat a bean of any hue other than green.  I find thievery and beggars' banquets equally abhorrant, and I pity the grown man who barters with lint and bits of burlap.  What, you may ask, does strike my fancy?  Solitary, somnolent circumambulation of the earth strikes my fancy.  And pies.  I so adore pies."

"It would behoove you to stand clear of that switch, lest you find yourself here and there, a victim of the Midnight Special, so named because of the unique quiet it maintains as it descends into Altoona from on high like a ghost train.  They say it hisses down the tracks, hovering in fact just above the steel.  They also say-- well now, where did he go?"

"My parents were removed from my life by force when I was but small boy, and it is my profoundest duty to honor their memory with every waking breath I draw until the day I am called Home by my Maker.  My father worked on the Johnstown Inclined Plane Railway - built by his own father, among others - but that dangerous occupation was not the cause of his demise.  My mother was the only female fireman on the floor at the steel mill, and although it was dirty and dangerous work, it did not kill her.  No, the two of them were accidentally shot dead while walking me to church on the third day of doe season.  The single shot that did them in had been fired from at least a half-mile away, and the shooter was never found.  I've been asked just how it is that my miserable vagabond life in any way honors their memory, and to anyone with the gall to loft such a query in my direction, I say only this - how dare you?"

"In the air between your words, I taste your hate, and to me it smacks of spun sugar at the fun fair - blue, I think."

"On a clear night, when all the stars in the heavens gleam and glimmer freely, the enormity of the time between here and there weighs on me as would a boot on a cricket, pressing me into oblivion until even Betty Boop makes sense."

"The Charleston is insipid."

"I have known love that would make you foul your trousers, speak in tongues, and vote for Alf Landon.  Her name was... um... Well, what's in a name, anyway?  She was most comely."

"Do not trifle with the crows when the frost lingers beyond sunrise, for they will be cross, and hungry."

"I eat time and convert it into this squiggly line I call life.  It is the blessing and the curse.  Seconds become inklings.  Minutes beget thoughts.  Hours are the ample bosom of ideas.  From days, we become.  A week is a book - a month, a library.  Years become tears and joys and everything in between.  I am never filled.  The capacity for turning time into being is as limitless as the sky.  I do not know why I am here, but I step ever closer to that understanding with every instant of time I consume."

"So long..."

 The preceding drivel is mostly harmless, and was prompted by a STUDIO 30 PLUS writing prompt, TIME.