[ Monday, October 27, 2003 ]

Until further notice...

I have decided to suspend publication of this blog as well as NOTHAM. I am fatigued lately and I need to concentrate on parts of life that actually produce positive or productive outcomes for me, not just senseless bickering and ill-will. Life is too short. Very short.

I also think blogs have a place, but not necessarily in my life. I write because, as Rilke says, I must. However, I don't need to "publish" -- if you can call blogging that.

Thanks to everyone who has read this nonsense. I hope some of you enjoyed it or learned something, or at least had a laugh. I'll still read some of the blogs as well as weighing in at the Masslive Weblog forum from time to time (lucky you.) But I'm not posting a notice about this suspension of my blogs there. No drama needed or wanted.

Otherwise I'll stick to more conventional forms of publishing, until such time I'm paid for doing otherwise.

In the end, ham sandwiches will out. They always do, in every genre.
Scatman [9:10 PM]

Word down

It's funny how words on a computer screen that are written conversationally (say, in an online forum) can take a completely different tone than the one in which they are written.

I ascribe this mostly to the reader/reactor.

I am foreverlastingly getting in hot H2O because people don't understand that: 1) I may be sarcastic at times, but I'm not mean; 2) I usually am trying to promote positive change when I criticize something (and I never engage in ad hominem attacks -- unless I'm attacked first); 3) I'm actually pretty friendly, if you know me or talk to me in person.

For the record: I am easily as guilty as anyone for overreacting to some posts. I admit to having thin skin on some subjects.

Recently a few folks in a forum (no need for names here) got into a tiff over a post, and of course I jumped in and of course my comments were met with defensiveness.

So my point is this: If you read something that you interpret as slagging you, maybe you might check with the person who wrote it before engaging them publicly online. (Unless you don't like the person and just relish a reason to go after them, that is. That's always good sport, and no, I'm not kidding about that.) This goes for everyone: I'm not singling anyone out here: We all (or almost all, the boring people and shiny happy people don't have these problems) do this once in a while. That's fine: Passion is a good thing. (I'm just not a Zen kinda guy. I tried that route earlier in my life...bor-ing.)

Just keep it in perspective (and hey, I'm talking to me here as much as anyone else!)
Scatman [3:52 PM]

[ Friday, October 24, 2003 ]

Word up

Over at the Masslive weblog forum, a word battle has broken out on several fronts. It was sparked by an observation that the term "Indian summer" is offensive, or politically incorrect...which led to a debate about whether PC is a pejorative and marginalizes people...which led to a debate about liberalism vs. progressivism vs. leftism etc.

So I decided to have some fun with it here (especially since Joe "Wonderstuff" M. of THIS IS REALLY HAPPENING thinks our thoughts are better placed in our blogs -- see the Weblog forum post # 292.)

Here are some solutions:

1) Instead of changing "Indian summer" to something non-threatening like "Second summer" as Henning suggested (nice idea but it won't work, and as I state below, I don't think Indian sumer is offensive) -- why not this: Use the same sounds but different words -- Indie on-Summer (meaning its independent of real summer but its still going on.) A stretch, but hey, I'm trying!

2) Marginalize. I always hated this word. It's like "empower" to me, Ugh.
A word I'd like to invent here, however, is "margarinalize." This word will mean being subjected to someone substituting a tastless imitation for the real thing. Like GW Bush for Al Gore. ("The American people were margarinalized when Bush took office after actually losing the election.")

3) Liberal: Despite the term being turned into a pejorative by talk radio and its minions, I still call myself one. I refuse to let the enemy define my terms or turf. But since many now shy away from the word, or use the word "progressive" (which can mean something different) how about something new: Maybe "Reasonables" or "Believables" or "Favorables"? My choice: "Loveables" cuz we liberals are so cuddly, ne c'est pas?

4) PC, etc. -- Since people now see PC (politically correct) as a pejorative, why not come up with a new category (but one that would have to would exclude the ill-considered PC ideas yet would steal the thunder from a right wing group's claim to moral superiority): I give you "MC," or "morally consistent."
No one should claim to be moral all the time; we try but fail. But by saying we are morally consistent, it just means we try to judge other equally and as we would judge ourselves (sound familiar?)

OK that's enough brilliance today. Have a good weekend.
Scatman [3:23 PM]

[ Thursday, October 23, 2003 ]

My interest in other word origins has been piqued this week, ever since I’ve been taking batting practice on some etymological softballs over in the MASSLIVE weblogs forum (about the origins and potential offensiveness of the term “Indian summer” –- for the record, I think it’s not offensive. Most early sources say it came from the fact that Native Americans hunted late into the fall, or later than colonials expected, anyway.)
One word that jumped out at me this week, in more than one way, is mortgage. This is partly because Dr. J (my wife Jeanne) and I are jumping into the great battle for a home in Northampton. Hey, prices are up, properties are scarce, what perfect timing!
What got my attention – and I never thought about it before – was the word’s root, mort. Anyone with a passing interest in Romance languages knows this means “death.” The -gage suffix, however, comes from Germanic roots, meaning “pledge.”

So basically a mortgage is a “death pledge.”
How nice.
Hmmm, based on that, maybe we should have made an offer on the house that sits in the middle of a cemetery. You think I kid? Look here. (Check the background closely. Also check out the price. That must be some one bedroom in there!)
At least the neighbors would be quiet. But as Dr. J said, we couldn’t have a dog: he’d always be digging up bones.

Scatman [4:54 PM]

[ Tuesday, October 21, 2003 ]

Shave with the grain; write against it

I just bought me one of those Gillette Mach III razors (technically I bought the Mach III Turbo -- with aloe strips for extra lubrication) yesterday after hearing several recommendations from reliable sources over the past few months. Scott says he has yet to cut himself since making the Mach-over move, and Neil at the Iron Horse (who shaves his head, as do I) swears by it. Neil's pate always looks sleek, and he's a pretty fashionable guy overall.

My first shave with it this morning went extremely well: No nicks, cuts or razor burn. This is a rare event for me because I have that wonderful combination of sensitive skin and an extremely tough beard. Without going into horrific details, suffice it to say my shaving encounters have at times resembled botched suicide attempts or pagan blood sacrifices.
I'm not sure the Mach III gets as close a shave as I would like, but it wasn't bad. We'll see. But so far, it's the best razor I've ever used.

Now, some of you may be saying: "Gee, I thought this guy hated 'Had a Ham Sandwich' (HAHS)-type blog entries, and this certainly seems like one to me. Shaving? I'd rather read about eating a sandwich."

Ah, but the above story was just an opening gambit to today's topic: This supposed "metrosexual" trend.

Now I'm not the best-groomed guy on the planet, and I'm not about to spend $75 on a pedicure, but I do try to make an effort. The Fab Five from "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" wouldn't have much fun with me, because I would only need a few rough edges taken off, and the whole premise of that show is watching them try to shape an unkempt troglodyte into a dandified fop.

But a few weeks ago, the New York Times ran an article about "metrosexuals." The term means, loosely, straight guys who may seem gay, due to their supposedly "unmanly" attention to grooming, fashion, skin care, etc. (i.e. based on a ridiculous set of stereotypes.)

Excuse me, but hasn't GQ has been around for quite a while preaching this gospel of grooming to both straights and gays alike? All of a sudden, however, this way of living has a trendy name and everyone is talking about it. (This even occurs on Soundboard, which is supposed to be a music forum. People wonder why I don't visit there anymore. A place for everything and everything in its place, I say.)

The trouble with a trend like this is that no one can agree on how to define it (see Soundboard post # 3824 and beyond for a silly and useless debate on this, by the way.)
There is at least one quiz from ESPN that is supposed to help you determine your "metrosexuality" but it's obviously just a joke.
So for those of you concerned with such things, I decided that I'd offer my own barometer for your use in determining whether you are "metro" or "retro" or "Jethro" (as in Bodine, on the "Beverly Hillbillies.")

Take it at your own risk, but be honest!

1) Skin care products: Give yourself one point for each you own (ones that are really your wife's or girlfriend's that you use do NOT count.) Do not include hair care products or shaving cream in this question.

2) Give yourself two points for owning any of the following: electric nasal groomer; electric flosser, cuticle stick; at least two emery boards for nail care; teeth whitening products.

3) Give yourself a point for each of these: Shave cream that comes in a tube not an aerosol can; hair gel that costs more than $10. Fragrance that costs more than $40 per ounce.

4) One point for: tweezing eyebrows regularly; shopping for clothes at least once a month; owning more than five pairs of shoes (athletic shoes don't count.)

5) Three points if you've ever been hit on by a gay guy who mistook you as gay yourself, or for going out dancing at gay-friendly club.


21-25 points: You are an uber-metro.
16-20 points: Not perfect, but you don't need to worry about the Fab Five visiting you.
11-15 points: No one is going to mistake you for Calvin Kelin, but you seem to care.
6-10 points: This score range makes me wonder which items got you the points, and which ones you missed on. But you're an average guy when it comes to this stuff, probably
0-5 points: Doesn't matter: no one who scores this low would even bother with this test.

Note: I don't think scoring low is bad, as I don't think being metrosexual is necessarily a "good" or "bad" thing. It's simply a choice, like whether to eat sushi or whether you sunbathe to get a tan or not. But mostly I find the whole concept silly. (And yes, I do moisturize.)

And it's certainly not anywhere nearly as important as, say, ettiquette is

Scatman [4:57 PM]

[ Saturday, October 18, 2003 ]

Concluding Unscientific Postscript

"The realm of faith is thus not a class for numskulls in the sphere of the intellectual, or an asylum for the feeble-minded." -- Soren Kierkegaard.

You pretend it doesnt matter because in the end it doesn’t.
What matters is your health, your freedom, your friends and family, the safety of your children, and your job. And hope, faith and love, of course. If love is the greatest of these, then hope is the least.

No, baseball doesn’t really matter, and neither do the Red Sox.
But on a cold October morning, as the sun’s morning-orange hue creeps over the horizon, I still awoke with a hope hangover: After all, hope is just another type of “spirit” and too much of it can be as intoxicating as any whiskey.

But remember: Hope is not faith, and never should the two be confused.

I watched the game with my Mudpony bandmates. After poor Tim Wakefield’s Boone-doggle in the ninth, Scott went directly into denial, issuing statements such as “Well, it was a great series,” (to which I replied: “Shut up.”) and later, on the ride home, “I don’t feel that bad about it.” I was incredulous at his remarks, to the point of being silent, which if you know me, is a rare thing (just ask my wife.)

In Scott’s blog on Friday, however, we found out the truth. He wrote:

“As Aaron Boone's home run sailed into the night, I told myself this loss wouldn't be that bad. I would quickly move on to other things. I wouldn't let it bother me. Yet last night, I kept rolling over, replaying pitch after pitch of the Red Sox fourth inning and the Yankees eighth inning. Why do baseball postseasons always have to be painful?”

For my part, I vowed (a vow I kept, by the way) not to read any postmortems about the game (except accidentally, from what are usually non-sports-centered sources -- like on Scott’s blog, which I read daily.) I didn’t need to read some hack scribe’s scribblings about The Curse, Pedro, Roger, or Bucky Dent-Aaron Boone comparisons (I assume someone made one) -- or Cubs-Red Sox choke comparisons (I’m sure someone made one, even though I read no sports pages Friday.)

I just didn’t want to read that crap. (I also didn’t want to write it: Readers will note that I didn’t even write this until early Saturday. I just needed space.)
We in the media love a good story. But sometimes we love it the way I love pizza: we don’t know when to stop. There was drama, but the drama was mostly this: Grady Little, the Sox manager, made a tactical mistake or three concerning his pitching staff. The Yankees took advantage of those mistakes. This is how games, fights, battles and wars are won and lost.
But these other story lines (The Curse, etc.) are nonsense.

There is no curse. There is no Yankee mystique. There are coincidences and patterns and serendipitous occurences.

But although I was stunned by the game and incredulous at Scott’s initial denial, I only felt bad for about 12 hours after the loss. I think that’s a sufficient grieving period for a bunch of millionaires’ ineptitude that doesn’t really affect anything more than a fil character dying affects anything. Baseball is entertainment, make-believe. There is no (or at least there shouldn’t be) any actual loss when a team loses. Life has plenty of real pain already. If you don’t know that yet, you’ll find out soon enough.
And 12 hours is about the same recovery period as a hangover.

Friday wasn’t a day of mourning. It was a day of recovery...and rediscovery of my non-Red Sox fan self.
So now onto more important things: my new marriage, my work, my music, my friends and my eternal quest for truth, faith and meaning.
Oh yeah, and I almost forgot:
Go Giants!

Scatman [7:42 AM]

[ Wednesday, October 15, 2003 ]

Serendipity-dos (and don'ts)

I once came up with a theory (that others have come up with in various forms as well) that stated "The amount of coffee you drink influences who becomes the next president."

While that is a ridiculous statement, what I meant was something that could be translated, loosely, as "Everything can affect everything else."
(Note: It doesn't say "does" affect, but "can" affect. That's why my theory using the coffee/president metaphor actually fails. But hey, I was a kid then, so I had to state things in the most in-your-face manner...Oh wait, I still do that!)

I see this theory playing out all the time, and it's fun to note how true it is. One prime example (and don't worry sports-haters, this isn't going to turn totally into a sports-centered blog entry) was the fan interfering with Cubs' outfielder Moises Alou catching a ball last night, which led to the Marlins getting an "extra" out in the inning, which led to a batter being walked, then an error and ultimately a huge inning which cost the Cubs the game.
One gut reaction decision by a fan in one brief moment altered the mood of big city.

A few moments ago, a colleague asked me "Is it raining in New York?" He was hoping today's Red Sox-Yankees game could be postponed so the Sox could bring back a better pitcher than today's starter. Again, it rained Biblically earlier today. If it could have held off until this afternoon, the whole series might be changed.

How many times have you been distracted while driving, only to look up, just in time, at the last second, and save yourself from some accident/traffic violation/animal killing? One more second and it would have been different.

I read a story somewhere, or saw it on TV (or maybe someone told me this) where some guy had something happen on 9-11-2001 that kept him from going to work (or at least getting to work on time) at the World Trade Center. I believe in a loosely organized universe. I believe in a God, (although to ask me about this is to invite not only trouble but a lot of florid philosophical flapdoodle that most would find annoying.) But mostly I believe in serendipity (and maybe synchronicity, Sting notwithstanding.)

It's one big dance. Step lively but carefully; there are lot of feet and feces out there.

So my points are:

1) You just never know how a split second decision or small shift will snowball into something you would never imagine. So don't think even your most quotidian actions won't have a large effect somewhere.

2) Pay attention. Sometimes the universe (and I don't mean to sound all New Agey here) gives you hints of what (and what not) to do. It's a huge, sprawling, interconnected world out there and if you think you're some sort of island, well, you'll probably end up being one, but it will like the Bikini Atoll in 1954.

If you don't get that reference, look it up, because I'm off to have some more coffee, in the hope it can affect who the next president is.
Scatman [7:00 PM]

[ Wednesday, October 08, 2003 ]

Sox and the City

OK, I've pretty much avoided blogging about the Red Sox (except a few criticisms of Grady Little last week.)

But since it seems like it's now the only way to get Scott to link me I'll have to scrawl a few thoughts:

1) I've been a fan since 1966. So most of the rest of you can piss off with all the newbie suffering. I got scars, people... scars I tell you!! Never mind Bill Buckner or Bucky Dent...try Julian Javier!!! (Real fans will get that.)

2) I can't get all "I've got to see every pitch" like some folks. The old ticker can't take that level of involvement anymore.

3) That said, I am superstitious. If the Red Sox do well in a given inning, I will barely move. Jeanne came out during the last inning Monday and something bad happened for the Sox (I think it was one of Williamson's walks.) I almost dispatched her back to the bedroom. But then I remembered this was Scott Williamson after all...which lkeads us to:

4) Will Grady Little PLEASE leave Mike Timlin in to close for once?!?!?! He's their best bet for closing now. He's been lights out in the playoffs. He's been a closer before and looks like a closer. (Sorry, but I have a thing for the cold-eyed, shaved-head fireballing type.)

5) We'll know by the third inning if the Sox have a chance. if they get down by more than 4; if Wakefield stinks up the joint in the first few innings, I'm switching over to "The Desilu Story" on Bravo.

5) Go...Sox.... no strength...must watch..ughhhhh..
Scatman [8:09 PM]

The Squirminator

As much as Arnold's election in the altered state of California makes me squirm squeamishly, I can't agree with TheLife, who calls his election, the "most ridiculous thing I have ever seen." and adds: "The baseline of what idiocy I thought Americans were capable of just dropped below sea level."

I'm sorry, but the elections of Ronald Reagan (some people are just too young to remember how shockingly bad that was) and Jesse Ventura (I'll take an actor over a wrestler nine times out of 10) were far worse. Arnold seems somewhat sane and in touch and not a time bomb waiting to go off. And Maria may help keep him in line. As Republicans go, the guy is pretty moderate.

None of which is to say I supported him. Not at all. I just think there needs to be some perpective

More reasonable, but still nervous is comedian extraordinaire Jennifer Myszkowski who also nearly busts a mante while venomously addressing the people of the Golden State in her blog.

Look, We have Mitt Romney for governor. Is he really any better?

People in glass houses and all. Just some perspective.

Scatman [7:28 PM]