On the avenue...Fifth Avenue...
Posted Last Week
Like the song says, 'The photographers will snap us, and you'll find that you're in the rotogravure...'
Well, hardly. But our tiny metropolis has a Fifth Avenue. It's a winding two-lane that goes up hill and down dale, from the river up past the courthouse and Main Street, back down past the Dollar Store, winds through the old neighbourhoods, past Aldi's and a garage or two, a wave at Walmart and over the interstate...at this point, it's reverted to its 'real' name, which is a two-digit state number...you get the idea.
The thing is, Fifth Avenue is one of the main drags around here, and it's becoming congested.
No, the population has not grown (beyond a paltry number of adorable babies born in the last few weeks). It's that bugbear, construction.
When you reduce the main drag to one lane, and leave one bored young woman in an orange vest to regulate the flow with a sign that says 'Stop' on one side and 'Slow' on the other, there is no such thing as life in the fast lane in our borough.
Today, Elektra and I were driving home shortly after what should have been the 'lunch rush', and had to wait a bit for the sign to be turned around. This is hardly a big deal to us - we've lived in Athens and Philadelphia, after all, so we think a rural traffic jam is funny - but it causes all the country folk to grumble and talk about how 'the Lord is teaching us patience'.
This has been going on ever since it stopped snowing (in mid-May), and the minor construction shows no signs of abating. Officious hard-hatted folk with backhoes and other oddly-named pieces of heavy equipment abound. It's a two-year-old boy's dream landscape.
'I don't think they're going to finish putting those gas pipes across the road until first frost,' was my comment.
'Why should they?' said Elektra. 'It's a good job. And it's practically in the middle of town.'
'Yeah,' I mused. 'Centrally located - you don't have far to come to work, you're close to all the stores and restaurants, plenty of eateries to choose from on your lunch break... why should they give this up?'
By the time we made it to Main Street, we were laughing so hard I almost missed my turn.
Shakespeare and Google Translate
Posted 3 Weeks Ago
Do you play that Google Translate game? (Back in the old days, we used Babelfish.) You translate a text - often song lyrics - from English into two or three other languages, then back into English, and bask in the gloriously nutty results.
Instant Vogon poetry.
A creative woman has done this with a famous Shakespeare speech. She also performed it on the stage of the Folger Shakespeare Library. Here's the result:
If you want to know more about the Folger and what it does, here's their website:
Want to play the Google Translate game with your favourite text? Here's the page:
Ages ago, I was teaching translation to a class of young adults in Germany. On April Fools' Day, I gave them a page of 'The Hitchhiker's Guide' to translate into German for a 'pop quiz'...it was the part about Dr Dan Streetmentioner's Time Traveller's Handbook of 1001 Tense Formations...
Posted 4 Weeks Ago
I made the mistake of leaving the bathroom door open while I took a shower. (It's hot and humid.) This leads to territorial battles between factions who lay claim to this room in the house, and the person who happens to be in it. (Soaking wet and helpless.)
Snarl. Bark. Growl. Yowl. Hiss. (And that was just Elektra. )
Later, I hear this monologue:
'Lola, why are you fighting with Buzzardina? She's not the one who steals your food. That's Clancy. This feud must stop!
'Now, you just sit up on this bed until you figure out what you did wrong.'
(Doglet is tiny, and finds the bed a challenge. But self-reflection is not in her nature.)
'Being a terrier is no excuse for this kind of behaviour. Now, don't suck up. You know what you did.'
Elektra announced, 'Lola is getting a Time Out.'
A Political History Quiz Question (Not Icy's, Again)
Posted 5 Weeks Ago
Here's a political history quiz for you:
What election was this?
The most controversial candidate made negative statements about women and minorities.
The same candidate advocated extreme measures to remove minorities from the country and limit citizenship for 'undesirable foreigners'.
This candidates' supporters engaged in violent confrontations with opponents' supporters at rallies and campaign functions.
While some media outlets labeled the candidate a clown, and made fun of him, others admired his forthrightness and predicted that he would 'shake things up'.
Unemployment was high that year, and national production was down. People were unhappy about the economic situation.
The candidate appealed to popular values shared by voters, such as patriotism and a sense of victimization.
The candidate was definitely NOT 'politically correct'. He insulted just about everybody.
The candidate was mocked by the elite for being vulgar, tasteless, and uneducated, but some of them secretly thought he might be a useful tool for controlling the masses.
All right, what year was this? And what country?
And what happened next?
Genderbending and politics
Posted May 7, 2016
I do NOT mean to open up a discussion of the political chaos in my country. I mean it, I will ignore comments relating to who's running, who's winning, why, or the insanity involved. Historical comparisons are also odious, and cannot be made without skirting far too closely to Godwin's Law for comfort. (You may quote Bertolt Brecht if you like.)
But I cannot forebear from sharing this piece of work from 'The Nation' with you. It's by a writer named Rebecca Solnit. I know nothing about her beyond what's on the page, and I don't even usually read this journal. But the essay was so good as a *piece of fiction* that I felt like passing it on. It's called 'If Donald Trump Were a Woman and If Hillary Clinton Were a Man.'
The background to the tale: a short time ago, Mr Trump made baffling statements in public to the effect that Ms Clinton was only playing the 'woman card' (whatever that was supposed to be) and that, if she were a man, she wouldn't get 5% of the vote. His somewhat incoherent comments apparently inspired this clever piece of writing:
I laughed myself silly. Think about it: it's practically a flash-fiction alternate history tale. Like all good alternate history, it makes us thoughtful.
Oh, how I hope it makes somebody thoughtful...
Remember: I will not reply to a discussion of the election, only your comments about this essay and what it says about gender and politics. (Or the usual instant topic drift, just add water.)
And quotes from Bertolt Brecht, such as:
'Wäre es da nicht doch einfacher, die Regierung löste das Volk auf und wählte ein anderes?' (Wouldn't it be simpler for the government to dissolve the people and elect a new one?)