Giving up on Dickens

My New Years Resolution to read a work of Dickens a month through 2009 has died.  It died a slow death and finally gave up the ghost on page 243 of Oliver Twist.  Oh, I’m sure it’s great an all, but the kid bugged me.  The people bugged me.  Silly Victorian elements bugged me.

I tried to salvage my resolution and switched to – WATCH a work of Dickens a month so I netflixed up Polanski’s recent Oliver Twist.  That died 27 minutes in when I couldn’t understand a thing that Ben Kingsley’s Fagin was saying.

So now I’ve switched over to reading the novels of Dashiell Hammett.  There’s only 5 novels.  I picked up a collection.  I’m into the Thin Man.  There’s only 82 years between the birth of Dickens and Hammet.  Almost 100 years between the two novels.  Not much more than between today and the appearance of the Thin Man.

From Oliver Twist to Nick and Nora.

This world spins faster than astronomers tell us.

How to Bug People

Nothing irritates and enrages people more than refusing to agree with them that the end of the world is at hand, that things are worse today than they’ve ever been, and the world is headin straight to hell.

Stay positive – realisitic – and you’ll be their enemy for life.

Looking into Space

I had a sick kid at home so to be nice I picked up her favorite comfort food – Chipotle Chicken Fajita Burrito, then stopped by the library to pick up a few books for her to read.

The library was being used for free tax prep for seniors.  A couple dozen sat around waiting their turn.  There was a look on there face that was a combination what-the-heck-happened-to-my-life mixed with the don’t-make-eye-contact-with-the-person-next-to-me gaze that’s usually reserved for the DMV, the dentist office, or porn theatres.

A heard a couple grumble about it taking too long.

But none of them was reading.  They were surrounded by books and their preferred mode was to not browse the stacks, but to sit and stare into space….listlessly.

I did take five minutes and watch them.  No.  I didn’t happen to catch them all at a bookless ebb.  They just sat there.

I’m counting that as reason #1,723,489 of what’s wrong with people.

Rejecting the Post-Modern

I’m rejecting the post-modern.  It dominates our culture, of course.  It has since I was born.

I’m tired of the ironic.

I’m tired of the nihilistic.

I want to laugh without scorn and giggle for glee’s sake solely.

I want to be happy in the face of life’s inherent sadness; not glum in the face of abject wealth.

The Frustrations of a Writer

A couple weeks ago, I got some good news.  A nifty literary publisher expressed some interest in a book proposal I sent them.  It’s a historical novel set in fin de siecle Kentucky.  Now, I’m excited again.  There’s not a lot of money in writing books – at least for the author – but there is a bit of prestige so that’s good.

Lacking anything to post today, I was going to just throw up the first chapter that got that publisher nibble (no contracts are signed yet).  However, just as I was about to do that I discovered that another group in print media seems to have “been inspired” by an idea I offered them.  Now they’re doing it without me.  So now I’m afraid someone will use that first chapter to steal that idea – I know, not likely, but I’m sensitive now.

Arghhh!

Sir and Ma’am

I swear.  That’s it.  I swear.  I’m not afraid of letting fly with a few obscenities.  But only around folks I need to ….motivate or an comfortable with.

I’m a word guy and I don’t see the need for ‘bad’ words or whatnot, but I do realize that they offend some people so I keep a lid on it.

However, I’ve noticed I can’t go anywhere it seems without hearing the dreaded f-word.  No problem for me, but for others there are.  The Wall Street Journal’s Daniel Henninger had a column a while back that I’m too lazy to look up and link to that questioned whether a society with our history that can’t confidently saw “Merry Christmas” deserves any prosperity.

I’m wondering in the same vein about a quality of a society where you hear f&$k more than Sir or Ma’am.  I never hear those words.

Ego Tax

One of the many irritations that I have in life is the state run lotteries.  Part of it is the lottery itself – it’s a regressive tax on poor people.  I’m no fan of the progressive income tax (the harder you work the more you get taxed), but a regressive tax is a sin.  I also hat the fact that state legistlatures say gambling is immoral – unless we do it.

There was also the fact that certain people in my life would begin too many sentences with “If I ever won the lottery…..”.  It was depressing that someone’s dreams were nullified unless chance happen to shine on them.

But that aside, the lottery is a tax on people who are bad at math.

But something new is bothering me.  A voluntary ego tax, i.e. personalized license plates.

Do you really need to express your individuality that badly?  It’s the equilvalent of waving your arms around screaming “Look at me.  Look at me.”  And you pay the government money for the right.

Your Cloud/My Silver Lining

I’m not a naturally positive person, so I take my upbeats where I can.

I live in a urbanish setting.  I work in a crowded suburban setting.  Sirens are part of my everyday sounds.  They don’t turn my head, but they do register and I think to myself, “No matter how bad this day is going, someone else is having a much worse day.”

That’s what sirens are to me: An affirmation that things ain’t as bad as they could be.

Bowling the Week Away

It was some Lebowskian nightmare:  I was holding a bowling ball looking down a long alley.  Instead of ten pins there were 50.  And instead of two rolls, I got 5 but after each roll, I grew more tired.  Then I awake.

It was Monday morning.  Dream as symbolism?  I’m not a believer, but the 5 rolls may have been the 5 days of the week.  The 50 pins?  My to-do list – and that was just the big ticket items.  And I am more tired.

But most of the pins got knocked down.  I’m paid on each one knocked down but I’ll have to pick up the spare this weekend – just a few pins were left up and they need knocked down before Monday comes and the frame is reset.