Looney Lunes #146 – Threefer

“Whattaya mean? We need to score more points than the points than the other guys?”

I worked for this company where the sales force showed for the semi-annual mandatory time waste of a meeting in a remote part of a southern state. After three days of product managers and marketing managers and ownership asking us what we thought about things that were foregone conclusions and pretending to listen to the couple of guys who loved the sound of their own voices, the last presentation was, you guessed it, nepotism in full bloom. Yes, the owner’s third wife’s son, fresh from a short career as a (young) lifelong mediocre student of tennis and a two week crash course in business management at a major college satellite in West Bajesus, Texas, parks his butt on the stool, center stage in the auditorium, his Retinol pink cheeks flushed with enthusiasm. And, to a room full of guys at the top end of the field in niche sales, he proceeds to read Vince Lombardi inspirational quotes from a coffee table book devoted to them. In honor of that moment and the playoff season in football, I offer these timeless and inspirational quotes.

“The Giants are going to have to outscore Miami if they want to win.”
sportscaster (between jobs) and current Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders Jon Gruden. A deep understanding of the game is a key component of coaching if you want your own coffee table book.

“They’ve won fifteen of their last eight games.”
sportscaster Chris Meyers on the Arizona Cardinals. (see Freebie below)

“The leadership definitely has to come from the leaders.”
sportscaster Emmett Smith (No wonder he’s in the NFL Hall of Fame, a successful entrepreneur and humanitarian. He knows who the boss is)

FREEBIE

“Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain’t come to play SCHOOL, classes are pointless.”
tweet sent by Ohio State backup quarterback Cardale Jones. Probably a broadcast communications major…

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Looney Lunes #145

North Carolina DUH Two-fer

ROOMS WITH BROKEN AIR CONDITIONERS ARE HOT

headline Burlington (North Carolina) Times News

“Men do tend to talk about things on a much higher level. Many of my male colleagues, when they go to the House floor, you know, they’ve got some pie chart or graph behind them and they’re talking about trillions of dollars and, you know, how the debt is awful and, you know, we all agree with that . . . We need our male colleagues to understand that if you can bring it down to a woman’s level and what everything that she is balancing in her life—that’s the way to go.”

Representative Renee Ellmers (R-North Carolina) 

Somebody had to vote for her, people. No wonder they had to legislate who could pee where.

THG3 – Ch18 – Black Lipstick Pt 1

The original outline intent was to have Deanna and Jackson teeter-totter over the course of Cambridge Year One. He bombed himself out on the front end and works his way back over the year. She hit the ground running, defiant and strong and slips downhill into catatonic after doing a year and a half of Cambridge in 11 months. This is where she starts to spiral with more than a few foreshadowing bits. And some character head time, something unusual for me.

Mid July 1979 / Cambridge UK

Deanna looked at her feet as they moved in slow motion across the mid-summer manicured lawn of whatever college they were crossing, sighed quietly. Summer? Ha. Sixty-three degrees, light drizzly rain half the time before the sun came out. Perfect football weather. Real football, not group kickball or the crazy rugby people her brother’s size who played empty lot, full contact football. Without pads. She could space this way, her mind elsewhere, through just about whatever anyone said, a talent she’d picked up young. She’d keep a small percentage of her ears open for trigger words. ‘Bomb’,‘fire’,‘duck’. Or for a certain pitch in her mom’s voice and a small buffer of whatever the last few words said to her that hadn’t been auto filtered and purged. Now it wasn’t the talk, really, it was the walk that killed her.

Jax used to point out in music, without going on forever beating it to death, the beautiful simplicity of a dead slow groove, and how it was a lot more difficult than it sounded. Whatever. Well, he was right about difficult, but he could eat it, and all the dead slow he could stand because this walk, like the months of ones that had preceded it, was on the other side of the universe from beautiful. Dead slow, and every so often painfully reverential when Alvy slowed even more, turned toward her to be sure she’d lapped up the last drop of his irrelevant insight Oreo built from cross-contaminated history, science, economics and culture. Like really, he couldn’t keep walking if his upper body was a few degrees off axis while he slogged through the most boring quagmire of historical minutiae, desperately trying to relate it to literature, and her?

Today was worse because every couple of weeks he tried to get personal, or be personable, and he wasn’t much for either. Well no, really, nothing was worse than farm and economic growth output prior to 1700. Every time he said 1700 it made her think of the Morisé floor in Oilman’s Bank Tower, and home, and…Until he got to swine production and all the uses of pig parts and their economic impact and…Really? Who gave a flying fuck about livestock and farm employment 250 years ago? Did Dryden and Pope really care about pig parts? And who the hell was getting paid to teach and write that junk, much less read it for fun? No, she knew the answer to that one. It was the speed bump in front of her.

From an out of body upper floor window perspective she knew the two of them must appear proper, if opposite, Cambridge students. His pale lankiness, loose blonde curls that grew in a rolled-up cylinder the size of a toilet tissue tube around his head from eyebrows, bottom of his ears and across the top of his collar like a wheat stalk wreath that bounced with every step. His hands, too small for the rest of him, either escaping in animation or sucked into the white cuffs of the Oxford cloth shirt he wore every day under a sweater with the Selwyn crest. On top of gray or black slacks so tight the pockets pulled open exposing the whiteness inside. As opposed to her bulky layers on a thinner frame than she’d left home with, jeans, leg warmers and worn running shoes. Both walking so slowly they could be contemplatively discussing how ‘realism’ was too broad a term for over a century’s worth of literature. Didn’t she wish…

“They’re a wonderful band. Mates, y’know? I ran with them a bit in school. I fiddled the bass some as well. Don’t laugh.” Instead of the laugh he got no reaction, turned a little further and that brought him from dead slow to dead stop. She was miles away and attached to him only peripherally and stopped a fraction of an inch shy of running him down. “D’anna? Mates, the Quigleys? Bass?”

“Sorry, I…” Maybe he was a year older, but she already had an undergraduate degree that fucking Cambridge wouldn’t accept unless she jumped through hoops taking courses she’d already had and testing her way forward. He was boring as fuck and her name wasn’t Danna. These people could screw up pronouncing everything from taco to Mazda to vitamins. But he was also her lead Graduand study advisor for now, going on two lit class and culture combos and a friend of Merriam’s in chemistry that had shown up the second day after she landed to say “Cheers! Alvin Carrashon. Chemistry’s my game. History’s my passion.” Well, ‘Cheers! Alvin Carrashon’ had bribed or blackmailed and obviously kissed some serious ass to get the study mod’s job in almost every class she’d taken just to be around her. Obvious because he was no kind of scholar. But he knew the rules and the tests and the paperchase and played the game like a good gerbil hauling ass on a wheel going nowhere. Called the Dons and junior lecturers alike “professor” without coming across as too patronizing. Smarmy –

“D’anna?”

After she stopped walking by the lake with Jackson, which was what she’d been doing in her head, she dropped Alvin’s last spoken word on the turntable in her head. Base? Baseball? Not cricket?  He was really reaching for commonality today. “Which base?”

“Oh. Yes, of course. Excellent question. Electric, not upright.”

“I meant –”

“No, no, a legitimate question. Cleanliness in thought and word gets the point over.” He had turned enough to get thirty percent of dead slow back on track, stopped and tapped his head. “Investigate, extrapolate, postulate, articulate. The basics for strong communication and conversation.”

“I must have missed something…”

“Me. A bass player. Only a bit. It was a kick, thumpa thumpa thumpa, one note, one string stuff, but college came first at home, not some band of mechanic’s sons and an art major so I quit at 14, never learned it proper.” He smiled, it faded into somewhere lost dreams go. “Shame, that. I’ll never make a million quid here.”

“Sorry, I still don’t –”

“The Quigleys. D’anna. I was their first bass player. They’re mates and they’re in town and I was wondering if you’d like to come out and…”

“Base, like in baseball, that’s what I was asking. First? Second? Third? Which one, you know? Because you aren’t going to any of them with me.” It went all echoey off down into a cave after that. There she was, watching Jax walk out the door, off to another gig she didn’t want to see, didn’t want to be the band guy’s girlfriend, didn’t want to be alone and get hit on in some bar, didn’t want to share him. “Theater” he’d say. But he had a smile that said he was in heaven. A smile she hadn’t gotten in a long time.

“I don’t like those ‘I know the band’ things, Alvy. They get…Uncomfortable. Loud. Drunk guys and…Unless I like them, the band I mean, and that’s rare. Or I get to dance, and I dance like a cheerleader. Or so I’ve been told,” harrumph built rapidly in her voice. “By a naked, stupid, wrapped in scarves dance major whore who knew my…And he said the same thing, only…” It was her turn to stop, collect. He continued a few steps, until he stopped talking about not knowing what she was talking about, American Baseball and bases and naked scarf whores, not understanding the cross talk from her at all, noticed her missing. He turned, found her holding her books across her chest.

“Who, or what, are Quigleys?”

“Post Punk. Or p’raps Industrial Punk.” He puckered, scratched the side of his head. “Is true Punk dead?”

She snorted a laugh at his earnestness. “I know some true punks who should be.”

“Oh. Yes. Well, we all know Wilcox and Herndon need to shut it, and their lack of respect in our groups is in their CV jackets. It won’t harm them down the line, but they’ll get caught up short next two terms and have to over produce or fall behind.”

“That’s not…” How could anyone so naïve be so arrogant? So assured of his own credibility? Staring at him she thought he was the stupidest, silliest, most posturing piece of vain, vapid guy she’d met since high school. Except maybe for some of Jax’s art school friends…Seriously? Over produce? Alvy had no idea. She’d over produced with Amanda Morisé on her ass telling her to mean it, Jackson with his conductor’s wand telling her to own it. Heard more from Alix and her French infused feminist and historical European literature insight than this shithead in front of her would ever know, then they shoved her into a room with Stacey and her deep rhetorical theory and BAM words. She wanted to tell him all that, peel the skin off his face with it. But not now…Where was her fire? She’d turned into another sleep deprived ass kisser like the waste of space wheel-bound gerbil in front of her, just to get the job done.

He started going on about modernist art and how he had no stomach for the Avant Garde and it was just as well since the punks sold out to a mainstream pigeonhole doing sneaker adverts on telly.

“Alvy, stop. Please. I don’t care. About the punk guard on TV or whatever. Just. Stop.”

From deep left field he blurted “But we do see a lot of each other.” It came out loaded with incredulity and minor hurt that took her a few seconds to process.

Too much’ was the wrong answer. “We do. But it’s not –”

“And we enjoy our talks on these walks.”

You enjoy talking after inviting yourself once and forgetting to ask me if I minded or for a topic I might give a damn about.’ “There are times, okay. Maybe. But really, I mean it, Alvy. Most of the time you can be a real –”

“Then come out,” a midway game barker, arms wide in full plead mode. “They’ll find me an awful dud, the same as you, if I show up alone. I was the one, back then, y’see. All the girls fancied a one note bass player.” He air played bass and gyrated his Goldilocks head in a good imitation of a thrasher. She had to put a hand over her mouth.

I heard it was guitar players with that finger thing. Was it your index finger? Middle finger?” She wiggled hers as fast as she could over an imaginary string at crotch level.

“Well, now that…Yes, it was. Middle, I –”

“Thought so. We’re supposed to believe that’s some indication of sexuality, get us all wound up. Can you believe that garbage? It’s ridiculous because we aren’t all thinking about that near as much as you wish we were. And I don’t ‘fancy’ any of them, really, bass or guitar or any sort of electrified phallus waving…The one I…He had to stand, or sit. And smile too much.”

“Precisely! The lad in your dresser frame. Merri’s said he’s one, a musician of a sort as that’s all you’ll say, and you miss him, and that’s why –”

“What I miss about him isn’t shitty cover bands or screaming punk pub bands or his stupid piano hands tickling my ivory body. Well, okay…But no. What I miss is where the hell is he and, and what did I do that he had to, to, and…What I hate about all of that nonsense is how I, we, are supposed to fall in love with them, musicians I mean, and all they do is have fun and call it work and then just, just disappear like I don’t matter at all and –”

You don’t matter?”

“Literal, Alvy.” But she was shaking. “Look. Bar bands suck. Even when they don’t.”

“The Quigs’re all original.”

“Really, Alvy? I mean that’s worse. Unless they have a record or –”

“They do. An EP. One of the short ones?”

“I’ll bet that’s a relief.” Does no one with a penis listen?

“Then you’ll come out, won’t you? I can make it up to you. Monday and Wednesday nights off next week? I’ll give you my topics for moderation notes. You can read them or ignore them. I know you find me less than enlightening in your arena at times.”

Always…’ But…Two nights off that maybe could be bumped? “What did you say?”

“About modernism? Post Punk, by definition –”

“Right. But wrong. The other part. Four nights off, and we’ll forgo these post class walkie-talkies for two weeks. So I can get on down the road with the Italian poets without sludging your pig parts out of my brain before I can start.”

“A fortnight so…On down the road…Poets? Pig parts? I…”

“On down the road. Something the frame on the dresser used to say all the time. Deal?”

“But…”

“You won’t really be an awful dud, any more than you already are.” Oooops. “Do I need to cut some holes in a sweatshirt or something? I haven’t had time to shave in weeks. If it’s hot in the wherever it is, I’d love that. And I could go sleeveless. Not braless, I hate that. I’d almost kill someone to be really warm. Like hot, sweaty warm.”

“No, I…” He’d never considered there to be anything under her layers but more of her porcelain complexion laid over a perfectly defined, if somewhat thin, textbook female anatomy, certainly not hair and sweat. “Uh…” With his index fingers he drew circles around his eyes in pantomime.

“Eye…shadow? Eye…line – Racoon Eyes! Okay, and?”

“Black lipstick?”

Looney Lunes #144

VILLAGE PEOPLE UPSET
AT YMCA PLANS

headline Central Somerset Gazette (UK)

What was the problem? Going Coed? Allowing non-Christian heathens access? Threatening to leave the EU? Interrupting non-stop Cumberbatch streaming in the lobby? Firing the riding chaps only barista? I mean it must have been something major because these guys are the poster boys for diversity and can’t we all just get along.

Looney Lunes #143

Ain’t No Baby Ruth, Geniuses

HEALTH OFFICIALS: POOLS, DIARRHEA NOT GOOD MIX

Headline, Omaha (Nebraska) World Herald

I want to say “Well no shit duh…” but I won’t. I managed (was) the concession stand at a City Park run public olympic size pool complete with lo-hi dive one summer. Find me a better gig for a 19 year old male.

Trivia – Nebraska has the longest, straightest main street in the world. Sort of the way your intestine feels after a colonoscopy prep.

Looney Lunes #142

First, find a bunch of storks…

“What is needed to make more babies in Portugal?”
-President of Portugal Anibal Antonio Cavaco Silva

Well, not having to come up with four names would be another good place to start. And then there’s the birds and bees stuff if the storks are a fail.

This guy was elected, by the way.

Random NVDT – Writerly Concerns #14

Art or Wallpaper

I am a fan of Noir. I do not consider myself any sort of expert. I like Pulp and Hard Boiled and Soft Boiled and Neo 20th Century Realism. Simple stories, human failings, all the Seven Deadlies and Femme Fatales. As you can tell by the gratuitous cheesecake I think the latter is probably the lifelong addiction. One only needs to be young and see Rita Hayworth and Glenn Ford set the screen on fire, or Lizabeth Scott and the rest of the blonde bombshells go coy and bat their eyelashes or the wide eyed innocent yet sultry Loretta Young brunettes…I digress.

I watched The Stranger a few nights ago. Edward G.Robinson, Loretta Young, Orson Welles. Hard to beat the cast. Directed by Welles. Unlike his other looming epics, this was a straight up nut case, sweaty faced maybe over acted bad guy and the guy after him flick. With Welles shot calling. With caveats. He had to come in on schedule and on budget (he hadn’t had a directorial gig for 4 years) or risk he and wife Rita Hayworth’s income potential going forward ending up in the producer’s pocket until it was even. A guy named Nims was assigned the editing tasks and he whacked 32 pages of script before they even got started. Sixteen pages from the front end, setting the stage.

“He was the great supercutter,” Welles said, “who believed that nothing should be in a movie that did not advance the story. And since most of the good stuff in my movies doesn’t advance the story at all, you can imagine what a nemesis he was to me.”

Therein lies the creative vs. the commercial, the artist vs. the editor, style and substance vs. shelf space. Let’s be honest. Most people with a grasp of the language who want to write could crank out serial romance, commercial YA, Kiddie books. An English degree might help, a good eye for what sells and how to plug yourself into that. Cloning is a cinch. From the Hardy Boys to I’m not really Robert Parker, give me a salary, a style sheet, an antagonist/protagonist scenario and a computer. You want what? When? Thank you. But…

A good deal of what Welles wanted, although he retained a lot of control for what made it, got cut. On the cutting room floor or never shot at all. He wanted to dial it up into nightmare, the money guys wanted a movie, not a statement. Noir film critic and historian Bret Wood wrote –

“Character development suffers from the loss of these scenes.

What? Show me the “editor” or “content consultant” today who would say that.

Scenes that set up a more intense tone of suspense. Nope. The Bishop’s Wife as thriller. Box office. Good guys, bad guys, formula. Top notch formula. One could put it in the pop literary category with Elmore Leonard. Sweaty, swift, BAM, done. Well executed, suited for screenplay, good guys and bad guys and some tension.

What about the emotions left floating in the air in Faulkner, the things Steinbeck and Twain drop on us we never even see that most editors today would say we didn’t need? Particularly things hinted at and left unsaid that drive the story deeper, make readers participate? Reading what could have been in The Stranger and what was left out and considering the subject matter (Nazi war criminal), I can understand how it pales to what might have been. Still, it fares much better than the hint of Gothic and similar nutcase of 1950’s The Second Woman, which looks like it came in on time and under budget as a derivative NorCal Rebecca.

Welles pulled it off. One day early and under budget. I figure being married to Rita Hayworth and her ass being on the line with his might have been motivational. But considering other projects he did that pissed the money people off, that he did his way, are now considered high film genre art and classics, there’s a nasty undercurrent standard at work in this film. And the The Stranger, although excellent for what it is, failed to make the Welles art lexicon. It did well at the box office. But…

Steinbeck called it Hooptedoodle. Did he write some? Yes, he did. By current standards Faulkner’s intro to The Great Gatsby seems almost endless, but it sets the tone. It could be stark and short and bip bop or we could have been dropped right in it, but then the pictures wouldn’t come off the page like peeling Andrew Wyeth watercolors on a hot, breezeless summer day. The pace, and the “excess” that paints the picture, sets the scene and the tone are vital. Unless there’s a deadline and a budget and an editorial mandate. This by page 6, this by page 10, where’s the sex and the motivation by twenty or you’re out, show don’t tell unless it’s critical to character development and tone then- why are we seeing this?

I was prompted to write this after a trip to the local Half Price Books. Where all the buyouts from publishers and Amazon and the Barnes and Noble across the street sit on shelves in shiny similarity. The same covers, the same fonts. Pick your genre, shelves of sameness. And then there’s the well worn, well loved classics and obscure gems commanding higher prices, getting all the traffic. If it looks like it’s been read, maybe more than once, it’s a treasure. If it’s another MacComber or Rowling clone…

Once again, if you missed it – “And since most of the good stuff in my movies doesn’t advance the story at all,”

We can all tell a story, but the good stuff?

Art or Wallpaper.

What do you want to write?