Monday, December 22, 2008

Don't Squawk for Me Argentina

More distressing news from the animal kingdom.

The Associated Press tells us today that:

“A Queens politician is drafting measures to protect Brooklyn's wild Quaker parrots, whose nests have caused power outages. Councilman Tony Avella wants to make it illegal to capture the parrots and wants the city to relocate their nests when necessary.

The green parrots also are known as monk parakeets. They're native to Argentina but have been in Brooklyn for about 30 years. Flocks of them have settled at Brooklyn College.

The utility Consolidated Edison says parrot nests built in electrical equipment have caused at least seven fires in Brooklyn.

. . . Animal lovers say the parrots are part of the neighborhood and bring life to the skies.”
Feral Argentine Quaker parrots cutting off the power and setting fires in Brooklyn. And they are defended by folks who insist that they “bring life to the skies”. Life to the skies and chaos to the streets of Brooklyn. What’s not to like!
So the Religious Society of Friends recruits volunteers from Argentina to liven the skies of Brooklyn. After three decades in the city, they start taking a torch to the place. Probably not the kind of “inner light” their original sponsors had in mind. Time to go meeting.

Relocate the nests? How does Somalia sound? Match them up with some of those Somali pirates that seem to be thumbing their noses at us all. The birds’ penchant for sabotage and arson will probably come in handy when the pillaging starts

Do you suppose they squawk with that annoying accent?

And while we’re talking about queens; hairdressers are vying for the chance to become the new first lady’s stylist. The One can’t leave the White House for a cut and blow, so somebody has to be summoned. It’s a gig worth fighting for. They are going at it “hammer and tong” – actually more like “gift basket and styling gel”. For all his talent, I am not sure that salon owner Barry Fletcher helped himself when he told AP. "This would pretty much validate all of my hard work and effort to get to a level where I could handle a powerful queen like the first lady." Watch out Barry.

Maybe we should send a few powerful queens to Brooklyn to dispatch with the parrots. It worked well in To Wong Foo. They’d almost certainly want to style their own hair thank you. And the First Lady can always call the people at Harpo.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Bad Luck in Lagos

Understated like a Fox.

Item: Police Raids Reveal Alleged Network of 'Baby Farms' -- Fox news.

Police raids have revealed an alleged network baby "farms" or "factories" in Nigeria, forcing a new look at the scope of human trafficking in the country.”

The doctor in charge, who is now on trial, reportedly lured teenagers with unwanted pregnancies by offering to help with abortion. . . [but] luck ran out for the gynecologist, said to be in his 50s, when a woman to whom he had sold a day-old infant was caught by Nigeria's Security and Civil Defence Service (NSCDS) while trying to smuggle the child to Lagos, the security agency said.
How upsetting for the good doctor. He probably failed to forward his chain letter to at least five people on his mailing list and that’s how it goes.

His crop comes in after all the careful luring and imprisoning – not easy business that. And then a clumsy customer undoes it all. Probably not clumsy, though. More likely stupid! Something tells me that what really killed the deal was the woman’s failure to bribe the security officer from NSCDS.

Once upon a time when you consulted on-line tech support, if you missed something thought to be obvious, they used to say RTFMS – for “read the fucking manual, stupid".

I think when you get a baby in the US they include instructions for the proper use and installation of infant car seats. Cause that’s what we do – drive babies around in cars.

From what I gather, what you do in Nigeria is get out with your valuables. I don’t read Yoruban but I’ll bet that in the small print of the transaction there were some pretty specific user instructions - “Transporting Your New Baby out of the Country". In her haste to get out she probably didn’t bother to read the manual.

I wonder what Fox would consider a “lucky” day for a Nigerian gynecologist.

Monday, November 24, 2008


More disturbing news from the Animal Kingdom.

TOFO, Mozambique, Aug. 3 (UPI) — A few enterprising Mozambicans say they might be able to turn their rabbit-sized, land-mine sniffing African rats into a tourist-attracting oddity.

The rat handlers let their rodents poke around at the end of thin leashes until they scratch at the ground. That’s the sign they’ve discovered an explosive device, The Georgia Straight reported in its travel section July 31.
I don’t know what disturbs me most about it all. Is this really the best that enterprising Mozambicans can do? Training rabbit-sized, mine-sniffing rats on leashes? Is this truly the dream of the Junior Achievers and 4H’ers of Twenty-First Century Africa?

That there are people known to the UPI as “rat handlers” piques the curiosity though. Are there rat groomers? Rat farmers? Maybe scientifically-formulated rat food in eight enticing flavors? Perhaps I underestimated the grandness of the entrepreneurial spirit here, but I can’t imagine that rat husbandry, supplies and accessories (exercise wheels? rhinestone leashes?) do much to sustain the nation’s economy

And the tourists! No more giant sea turtles? No white sand beaches? Have the safaris become tiresome? Is it no longer enough to take snapshots of the “colorful locals”, post them on your blog and then and show them off at the happy hour back at the Marriott? It strikes me as déclassé to travel halfway around the world to see a “tourist –attracting oddity” that is in fact just a bunch of rodents on ropes.

Of course they are cheaper than dogs and certainly require less security and general fussing and fawning over than royalty or even celebrities. So there is probably virtue in that. Although I just might travel halfway around the world to watch a tethered Paula Abdul and Matt Lauer tiptoe through a minefield.

Where are the PETA people on this anyway? Is a rodent really more expendable that a right whale? Or a princess?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Economic Recovery -- Plan C

I don’t usually send these e-mails, but this one is for real.
Please make a copy of this and send it to Every Nigerian on your mailing list. It is not a scam. I already checked it out on Snopes and Bill Gates has agreed to match every dollar raised.
Do not delete this.
Dear Nigerian Friends;
My name is Jaime of Newton, Massachusetts USA, I am the only surviving nephew of (Eng Mr. Anderson Nelson) from Boston who had appointment in New York as the chief managing director to American International Group under project/contract awarding sector
My uncle died in crash of sub-prime mortgage market while in flight from Hearings of Congress Subcommittee, of the US, Friday 14th November 2008. Before his death, we had a joint account deposit worth $33.5 million (us) dollars in our fixed deposit account.
I am old now and my doctor told me that I can not stay to live up three months ahead, and as executor I am denied access to all Proper Funds by trustee in bankruptcy. Therefore I need a God fearing person who will assure me that he/she will help me use this fund to help the Motherless baby homes, Orphanage and Charity organization, less privileged Propagating the word of God.

The total sum will be shared as follows: 60% for me to distribute as above through the offices of Mr. C. G. Withington, Esq. as agent, 30% for you and 10% will be set aside for expenses incurred during the business.

More details information with the text of application form will be forwarded to you to breakdown explaining comprehensively what require of you which will include good receiving account details where the money will be transferred.

You Should Contact Me Immediately As Soon As You Receive This Letter.

As soon as I receive your reply I shall give you the contact of the Bank. I want you to always pray for me because I don’t have more days to live.

Please reply urgently
Best regards

Yours in the lord

cc. B.Frank
B. O’Bama
O. Winfrey

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Day the Music Died?

My my . . . .
I certainly didn’t notice it.

And you could probably convince me that I am wrong. There used to be music in elevators and now there isn’t any. I know I’m right about the “once upon a time” part of that, but is all the elevator music really gone?

I ignored it, and held it up to ridicule and now they have done away with it. It seems little video screens now take the place of the Muzak -- filling us in on the vital news of the day.

That’s how I know: Scientists have discovered a tiny, blind ant whose species appears to “the sole surviving representative” of some of the first ants. Ever.

They (the scientists) reckon that they (the ants) evolved from wasp ancestors 120 million years ago.

The new ant (well, old ant actually), has been named Martialis heureka, or the ant from Mars. It is referred to by the National Academy of Sciences as a “cryptic predator from the soils of the Amazon rainforest”.
It is wise always to be mindful or at least aware of “cryptic predators”, blind or otherwise. I suppose that if our little Martian arthropod gropes its way out of the rainforest and ominously confronts me with a Greek epigram and a wry expression I should either dive for cover or expect to be eaten. But can’t I commute to my board meeting without a hint of this frightening prospect?

Enough information already. I want easy listening -- a pleasant ride to the 32nd floor with The Girl from Ipanema. Now that’s the way to travel.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Ah the sweet worries of the past!

Remember getting all worked up about putting lipstick on a pig?

Folks arguing in earnest about whether it’s an offense to the moose-shooting hockey mom to use a cliché after she laid claim to the word “lipstick”. Like it was Don Imus’s latest pronouncement on the Rutgers University women's basketball team. (Putting lipstick on a nappy-headed pig?)

So it goes with the news of the day. Just before Katrina, the eyes of the nation were on the Florida coast, where, believe it or not sharks were biting people! In fact I think that’s what really messed up Terry Schiavo. But my memory is not great.

Anyway, however you slice it, it’s going to take more than lipstick to pretty up the Wall Street bulls and bears alike.

Speaking of bears; despite all her vigilance, our alert northern governor didn’t see the great Russian beast pull this one off. It was right there in the Chess section of the paper of record: Alexandra Kosteniuk, a 23 year old Russian bikini model has become the World Women’s Chess champion.

A Russian bikini model! Chess champion of the world! The best ours can do is play lingerie football and whine about Darfur like they could find it on a map!

A short history lesson from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum:

On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union sent into orbit Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite in history. Then a month later, an even larger and heavier
satellite, Sputnik 2, carried the dog Laika into orbit.

Sputnik’s launch came as an unnerving surprise to the United States. The space age had dawned and America’s Cold War rival suddenly appeared technologically superior

So here’s to Alexandra – I fully expect her to defend her crown next time with a dog under her arm – and it won’t be a Chihuahua. Maybe they'll stuff Laika just to rub our noses in it. Or clone her.

I think my real problem is that I can only think of one reason to put lipstick on a pig and it scares me that our political leaders can speak so blithely about it. What’s next, fishnets and heels? At least Eliot Spitzer kept it within the species.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Long Time, No? Si.

I may need a better case for my scenario.

It still troubles me. Two thousand eight men pounding drums in perfect unison to start the Olympics. Perfect unison!  That's like 670 Blue Man Groups, with the lights and the pounding and the music and all.  Imagine what they could do with marshmallows.  Or Jello.

And all of them smilng the same smile.The announcer remarked that they were instructed to smile so as not to seem menacing.  Nice guess, Howard.  It only gave the whole spectacle a further frightening touch of the Samurai Stepford Wives.  And you gotta know that was no mistake.

Just ask the Ghostface Killah ---  Wu Tang Clan ain't nothing to fuck with.

So I should consider myself lucky. I suppose I can live with a worst case scenario.  But would you please call the desk and request a better venue?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

And Five, Six, Seven, Eight

What about reading and writing? Do they do that anymore?

It came in today’s e-mail:

Hi All,

I will be doing zumba at the scituate library saturday 9/13 at 3:30 for 45 mintues for family fun day. My others classes are as follows;

Sun 11am & Tues 6:30pm Bayshore Athletic club Braintree (subbing for 6 months)
Tues kids zumba 4pm my house
thursday adults USA fitness 10:30am
Friday ssymca 5pm for ages 7 and up

Join the fun people!

Putting aside Jodi’s distinctive formatting, grammar, spelling and capitalization, this troubles me greatly. Zumba? In the library? Zumba for kids? In her house? It just can’t be right.

Come to find out Zumba is some kind of exercise craze for bored people who lack the discipline to workout honestly, but clearly imagine they can dance. Instead of waiting for the next wedding reception to bust loose with the bump or an enthusiastic Electric Slide executed with military precision, they gather, apparently in public libraries, and huff and puff their way to their next sign from Billy Blank. All to a Brazilian rhythm

I thought it was only the Nigerians and the penis enlargement scams we had to look out for, but now Zumba. I am known as a generous person, so I understand the interest the Nigerians have shown. And no doubt an aggrieved girlfriend somewhere along the way thought it would be clever to even the score by telling lies about me. But why Zumba – why me? What have I done?

Maybe I’ll put a sign in my front yard – “Zumba lessons for kids – sign up today.” See how long before they come down and bust my ass.

Or tell me to take it over to the library where that stuff belongs.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Who Stinks?

"I rejoice that there are owls.”

I have a nose for this sort of thing

Unless I am mistaken, it was a Palawan Stink Badger. I sat behind one in home room in the seventh grade. Because our names were alphabetically proximate, we also ended up sharing a locker that year. So I was close enough to make a pretty good study of him.

A bit paler than most, but Palawan, I am sure. A vile mammal of the weasel family. Closer to a skunk than to the cute but ill-tempered little pests we commonly picture. All the ferocity of the American badger with the further attribute of highly potent anal gland secretions – which secretions are generously and very accurately dispensed, at even slight provocation, with often devastating effects.

He used to steal aftershave and cologne from the local drugstore – no doubt when he purchased his cigarettes. And so his shelf was conscientiously stocked with Lucky Strikes (concealed in the way only a seventh-grader can believe will avoid detection) Jade East, English Leather and, for a while, Hai Karate. An obese, chain-smoking pre-teen with a sailor’s supply of cheap perfume.

Dear old Mr. Kent would wonder aloud “What is D— doing with all that aftershave in his locker?” I am sure he suspected my locker-mate of distributing the stuff, but I learned that year that an ordinary man’s dealer’s supply can be a desperate man’s personal stash. Especially when you are talking about scents with enough potency to match the output of those anal glands under even the greatest duress.

Owls – yes please. But I do not rejoice that there are Palawan stink badgers.

"Such, such were the joys . . ."

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Pause To Consider- Further Matters of Imminent Concern

Time to grow up and post an honest blog. Now that we've Toasted for a couple of months it is time to get down to truly blogworthy matters. How about a series of excruciatingly long, pointless accounts of the truly mundane. Maybe an annotated photo journal of my "staycation". I could start with something folsky like:

With the price of gasoline going through the roof, the wife and I decided this would be a good year to spend our two weeks right here in Newton. As Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz said, "There's no place like home." And boy, she was right! So far everything we ever wanted is here right in our own back yard.
Oh yes, that's the idea. Put staycation in quotes so people will "get it"- not a va -cation, a stay-cation. It's one of those neologisms like a sale-a-bration or veepstakes or something.

And gas prices? It doesn't get any more topical that that here in the 'blogosphere" (more on that later.)

"The wife" - Christ, not even "the little lady"- just some definite object who embraced the non-vacation vacation; maybe even comanded it. At once disowned and derogated. Not a person, an office.  Horace Rumpole's She Who Must Be Obeyed.

While I'm at it, how about I insult you by explaining which Dorothy? Like it's an an obscure literary reference. Obscure. Like Moby Dick, or Superman. Read on and I'll continue to beat the tacky reference to death with talk of Toto, ruby slippers and the Wicked Witch.

No, we will have none of that here. There are important matters that remain to be considered. How about:

  • derring-do
  • akimbo
  • The New Yankee Workshop
  • poker on the sports page

Yes, that will do nicely.

Meanwhile, would you like to see a picture of my firends Bob and Margaret at our "Fourth of July Fun-in-theSun Extravaganza"? He was my room mate in college and she used to work with Bob Costas. . . .

Friday, August 8, 2008

If That Don't Beat All. I Never Saw Such A Dog.

Burn Sanderson [to Travis]: You can't hardly tell at first, not till they get to the point of slobbering and staggering around. When you see a critter in that fix, you know for sure. But you want to watch for others that ain't that far along. Now, you take a bobcat or a fox. You know they'll run if you give 'em the chance. But when one don't run, or maybe makes fight at you, why, you shoot him and shoot him quick. After he's bitten you, it's too late.

Here is what you need to know.

First, I enlarged all the font sizes on my Windows desktop. Leaning toward the screen to read the icon labels and stuff was causing me neck pain. And I don’t need reading glasses dammit!

Second, I am convinced that the three frogs that have been living in our pool know me by sight. My wife thinks it’s only one frog, but I think the three of them are just taking turns in the pool, whereas before they were all frolicking all at the same time. At my age I can certainly tell one frog from another. Not only that, but now that I have installed a safety ladder so they can escape the skimmer basket without my help, why the hell would they leave? Can you tell me that? No, I bet you can’t.

Finally, I agreed to attend a birthday party for a cat. There are extenuating circumstances having to do with the actual date of the cat’s birth and some other things that are none of your business. And the cat in question, sadly, is no longer with us, so technically it is moot. But it was to have been a birthday party and it was planned for a cat. And I agreed to attend. (Further disclosure: I had not purchased, but had not honestly ruled out purchasing a gift for dear Bandit.)

I have fully expressed my wishes in certain circumstances, (My Medical Proxy). I don’t think I am there yet. But I am concerned. If I start to slobber and stagger, well. You know what to do.

After I've bitten you it will be too late.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Wilbur, Get My Agent on The Line, Pronto!

And when they came for the pandas, there was no one left to speak out.

You go to bed one night as a charismatic megafauna – the picture of the freedom, the majesty of the great western plains. The wild horses! The stuff of legends and little girls’ dreams. The “go-to” extra when Detroit reaches out for new car ads. Wild horses! Rolling Stones hits and god knows how many faux-western “saloons” salute you and it’s all good baby. It’s phat!

And the next day ka-pow! That star on the dressing room door now says "feral equid". The Times is telling the Sunday brunch crowd on the Vineyard that you are a feral equid. A pest. You and your kind are just so many giant pigeons shitting on the great statue that is the American wilderness. We can’t feed you we can’t corral you; we can’t even afford to kill you. Feral equid.

Killer bees? Who cares – they died with that Belushi guy didn’t they? And what about those Northern snakehead fish that were attacking Maryland? Voracious, air-breathing, land-crawling predators that are ugly! I mean 1950s sci-fi “nuclear test gone bad” mutant ugly. Nobody paying them much mind.

Even the damn sharks have a fan club. Try to haul a few of them out of the water and win a prize in Nantucket and they’ll treat you like you took a nine iron to a fairway goose cause you choked on your backswing.

Maybe if you learn to swim under water you can hide out among the manatees until this all blows over.

I’d call Mr. Ed. He’s gotta know somebody. Or Ellen Degeneris.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Oh, What a Tangled Road We Surf.

When I was a pup they had this thing called the Internet. Al Gore came up with the idea before the planet got a fever. The information superhighway they used to call it.

The buzz was thick with metaphor. It was pretty easy to grasp at first. The metaphor that is. Enthusiasts (I am told that geek is a hurtful word) told of travelling at the speed of the information superhighway, or moving in the fast lane on the information superhighway or, (terror) breaking down on or being left behind by the side of the information superhighway.

In fact, it was damn-near getting out of hand with everything from rest stops to express lanes to road kill.

We got it. Internet=highway=fast=good. It appealed to the minds that grew up on jet-age technology, new and improved anything and E-Z steps to every measure of success, from financial security to converting the basement into a playroom. There was a comfortable logic that eventually took us from jet-age to space age. Space-age! Now that has got to be good.
Mind you, back in the day, we actually needed proof that Brand X couldn’t compare. But once we saw it, we got it and we believed it and our belief in it was enduring and unshakable.

So, why suddenly were we back on a highway? In fact, why were we suddenly surfing? On a superhighway?

I have never surfed, but I can’t imagine it’s a very smart way to get anywhere –not anywhere in particular anyway. Throw a web and a net into the metaphor and I’d say you got a toxic mix – a technically difficult, aquatic, recreational ride through a complexly woven trap capable of snaring flies, fish or fowl. All on a dry, mostly level paved surface teeming with tractor-trailers going 80 miles an hour?

I say, get me out! No wonder the damn superhighway is so littered with fast-food joints, souvenir stands and titty-bars.
I have got to bury this Andy Rooney attitude. Has anybody heard from Xuxa lately?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

You Can Help or You Can Just Look Away

I need Sally Struthers’ phone number.

Providence guided me to the e-mail from Abidjan as I reviewed the spam file. I do so once a week for any sign of a reply from that doctor who promised me a full refund for the enhancement products. I am quite comfortable with what I have and, well that’s why it’s just called enhancement after all. I just don’t like being left hanging like this. But that’s another story.

Her plea was simple and touching:

Hello Dear,

My name is Stella Sigcau, the elder daughter of Mr.Zac Sigcau of Zimbabwe.

I got your esteem contact and particulars out of desperate search for a business minded personality in your country, who will honestly assist my younger brother and I to realize our inherited funds into his/her account and as well as invest it into a lucrative business.

Well without recounting the whole of her dire story, I will tell you that it seems this Robert Mugabe has killed the elder Sigcau and seized his farm. Now that they only run the cryptic crossword puzzles every other week in the Nation, I have been reading about this Mugabe from time to time and I can tell you it is not good! He hangs more than chads – you can bet your lunch money on that.

Thoughtfully, and fearing the worst, Mr. Zac managed to place $14 million in a safe account. Having fled to Cote d’Ivoire, Stella and her brother only need my help to access their rightful inheritance. I am to send them my direct phone and fax numbers and await further communication from their Counselor-at-Law – a Mr. Nesbitt. Apparently Nesbitt acts on their behalf because as asylum seekers in Ghana, they cannot transact any business in their homeland.

I will not lie to you; the 30 percent that will be mine is a powerful incentive – it will surely permit me to finally settle that ugly matter with the Girl Scouts and will probably leave me living pretty high off the hog for many years to come. But of course the real satisfaction will come from helping this desperate young lady (she calls me “Dear” though we have never even met!) and her brother through this most trying time.

Sally would be proud of me. I just know it.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

My Medical Proxy

Instructions to my loved ones:

Was it Old Yeller where they had to shoot the dog because he was acting tetched and foaming at the mouth? Even though it was the good old dog and they loved him very much, they realized that he was miserable and doomed and needed them to do what must be done?

Anyway, I may have left you instructions about the fanny pack (or belly-band, depending on its orientation). It may be fine for other people or for specific purposes, but if you see me wearing one, aim and fire. I am not a photographer or an avid hiker, so I have no honest business wearing one. Think of them the way you would think of those miner's headlamps. If I look like I am spelunking or working under the kitchen sink (the suburbanite's equivalent) hold your fire and look for signs of a climbing harness, ropes or a plumber's wrench. In their absence; proceed.

So it is for fanny packs.

Well same goes for jargon. I have been looking at job descriptions for PR positions and whoever writes them should be ashamed. After an hour or so, the devil in me spoke up and said:

"Seeking a position where my demonstrated capabilities at utilizing state-of-the art communications technologies and strong interpersonal and writing skills to strategically dialogue with key influencers on time-sensitive mission-critical challenges in a highly-competitive environment enable me to efficiently and effectively produce profitable outcomes across departments that are consistent with the company brand and its mission and that promote/reinforce its active involvement as a good corporate citizen.”

That is hydrophobia. Do not hesitate: Do what must be done. Just as exposure to underground bats can occasion the infection of the careful spelunker, so, even casual contact with the language of recruitment can doom the careful job-seeker.

As Old Yeller might have said, Just shoot me.

I will know that you love me.

Now with Intel Centrino Duo Mobile Technology.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Too Soon To Festoon.

Pass me the remote

Um, you know.

My friend Peter, right? He's like in Washington or someplace like practically next to it or something?

And like he and Ricky are like wicked into gardens and landscaping and all that? And like they even do it for real. You know? Like people pay them and stuff? Well not all year but when it’s the right season I think. But it’s like all they do? I mean Peter and Ricky, not the people who pay them They are like rich or something. Ambassadors and stuff I think. And divorce lawyers.

But when it’s not gardening season, they like take time off? Cause I mean that’s really like what they do.

Anyways. Peter is like. . .

One of the leaders of the landscape architects, historians and preservation advocates who believed that construction of the Dumbarton Oaks Library would imperil the North Vista garden. He organized the local opposition to the siting of the library back in 1999 and was successful in having the plan changed. I think there was an issue as well with an underground parking garage. We spoke to him often during the heat of the battle. Boy those landscape historians can be an ornery bunch.

Like I am totally serious! GTG POS

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Additional Discussions Around the Topic

A prelude to thinking in terms. (var. "surrounding the topic", "in the area of")

Linda Richman had it right. “I’m a little verklempt … talk amongst yourselves…I will give you a topic…the Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman nor an empire. Discuss.”

What courage! “Rhode Island …it’s neither a road nor an island. Discuss.” One word – discuss. Go for it, dammit! DISCUSS! Don’t futz around. Raise your voice, move your hands. Interrupt one another!

Sadly, we seem no longer to have the verve of Linda Richman. We are wimps. We don’t discuss.

We hold discussions around the topic of something.

"After Frank’s PowerPoint on the first quarter financials, we’’ll break for lunch. When we come back, from 1:30 to 3:00 we will hold discussions around the topic of setting a clear agenda."

Will we commit to an agenda? No. To setting an agenda? No. To the topic of setting an agenda? Also, no. Forget about any actual discussion of the topic either – discussion around the topic is what we’ll look forward to over tuna salad, Diet Coke and chips. And even that we will hold, not have.

So we dine in rapt anticipation of a fourth or fifth derivative of an actual bureaucratic event. Pity the corporate chef who has to compete with that. As for poor Frank and his Q-1 financials, well he may as well be teaching the last period sixth grade geography class before Christmas vacation. (Do they still have geography class? I am pretty sure they don’t have Christmas vacation. Exactly how old am I?)

Where does all this leave us? Well it only gets worse. Even if we roll back in from lunch and begin the process of opening a dialog about some issues affecting the potential setting of agendas, whether clear or otherwise, I have a sawbuck that says you’re going to find we’re still only thinking in terms of agendas.

Thinking in terms. Another gruesome turn, but don’t get me started! I am telling you, do not go there! Am I right people?

Almost time for some festooning. God, I love festooning.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Back to the Point?

Now that last post took us afield.

I was going to say far afield, but that is tired. Alliterative, surely, but tired. Must we all go pretty far afield, or somewhat far afield, whenever we venture? No day trips? Nothing like a quick spin?

I was not raised on a farm, so my sense is limited. But for most purposes isn't being afield, pretty much all you gotta be? I suppose you can be more (hence farther) afield at some times than at others, in fact, logically you’d have to be. But I think we overstate just how far we wander and how far we have to wander for it to make much of a difference.

Which brings me to still another annoying distraction. Does one go farther or further afield? Farther in the actual field, but further in the metaphor? And if so, when do we abandon the one and embrace the other?

I imagine that if you wander too far afield you end up out on a wide range. I also imagine that there really are wide ranges. I think I have flown over them. But I just don't think they are all so damn wide - nor should they be. If the range, unenhanced, is so wide that the deer and the antelope lay there, then it's plenty wide for me. Throw in the near absence of discouraging words and the perpetually blue skies, and I'd say Don't you widen it a god-damned inch!

I know that folks from the Rite Aid, that offers a "wide range of beauty products" and every consultant who offers "a wide range of communications strategies" will be disappointed (not sorely, just -- well you are getting the point here) but let's just hold off for now.

We will wander afield but keep to the regular range for now. And don't disturb the deer or the antelope.

Be back soon.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Will Work for Food

Or maybe just for the chance to grow as a person.

I am seeking a position where my demonstrated capabilities at utilizing state-of-the art communications technologies to effectively dialogue with key influencers on time-sensitive mission-critical challenges in a highly-competitive environment enable me to produce profitable outcomes that are consistent with the company mission, promote its brand and reinforce its commitment to diversity and involvement as a good corporate citizen. As a "people person" I am confident that I can liaison with all critical audiences, efficiently delegate responsibility and track progress across functions and disciplines throughout the enterprise.

And world peace.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

You Can't Be Twenty

No dear brethren, you can't be twenty on Sugar Mountain.

Ask my good friend Neil, here. Despite what has been said, he does not look like my burnout uncle who always used to offer to take the children fishing, "just like your grampa use to take me and your dad, back when your dad had a pair - course that was before he married your mom!" (Why you need "a pair" to go fishing we could never figure out. And we were too scared to ask him. The one time we asked him about his chest hair, he ended up starting a small fire in the dining room showing us a trick he learned back in the day.)

But the point is, Iam sure there are reasons aplenty to be wary of anybody addressing his brethren. Collegues, I can handle. Even fellows. I am pretty sure that my friend Neil says folks, and that's OK with me too. He's green and Canadian and likes dogs and sings about old men and pretty girls and dead junkies and stuff, so he's cool. But who exactly thinks they have brethren? Children, maybe, but brethren?

Not me, buddy!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I've Been Mulling Aplenty

Now there's one for you: aplenty.

Watch out for the person who uses the word aplenty. He is trying to be cute -- too cute if you ask me. A round, bald-headed man with a gray beard, a loose-fitting blouse and cheeks that are too-healty-pink, speading his arms in a jovial, ceremonial gesture while he leads you to his dinner table as if he were welcoming you to a damn Rennaissance Fayre. Arching his back and casting his eyes intently toward the ceiling. "I bid you welcome to our feast. We have meat and bread and wine aplenty! Pray, sit with us and partake."

He is quick to ask that you not feed his Shi-tzu from the table, despite the begging; lamb is not good for her. The music from Masterpiece Theatre, the only vaguely ceremonial-sounding track he owns, is playing too loudly. There are no forks on the table. "Are not your hands clean enough?"

No, ixnay aplenty.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Five Matters of Imminent Concern

First things first. Let's clear the air. Get a few things straight. Set the ground rules. Define our terms. Outline the paramenters of our focus. Get this started on the right foot. Kick this off right. Clarify some of our expections. Set some clear priorites. Pause to consider.

That's it! Let us pause to consider.

There are matters of imminent concern that should give us all pause to consider. Here are five of them:

  • Aplenty
  • Bretheren
  • Beg the question
  • Discusion revolving around
  • Festoon

Just mull that all over for now. Later we will consider other paws.