Insincerity

As I mentioned a few days ago, I’m on call for possible jury duty this week. And so far, that’s as far as it’s gone, which is nice. A little passive-aggressive, but it could be worse. 

jury201110251654I noticed on the jury summons that there’s a web site where you can check your status online, instead of calling and listening to the recording. It’s much quicker. Click the image to enlarge.

I’m beginning to suspect that their request for my services is less than sincere. So I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. Because, as you know, insincerity is the one thing that’ll get you in trouble with The Great Pumpkin, as explained in this video clip:

http://www.youtube.com/v/xiSIQzwIPzQ

But in that scene from It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, Linus says his pumpkin patch is the most sincere. “You can look all around and there’s not a sign of hypocrisy. Nothing but sincerity as far as the eye can see.”

Which begs the question, is hypocrisy the opposite of sincerity?  That didn’t ring right for me. I checked the thesaurus, and the antonyms of sincerity are dishonesty, insincerity, untrustworthiness.

But the antonyms of hypocrisy are forthrightness, honesty, righteousness, sincerity, truth. Viola!

I’m quite relieved. I can tell you – in all sincerity – that Peanuts was very important to me in childhood, and still is. Charlie Brown is something of an alter ego, so easily can I relate to his existential endeavors to persevere. And who doesn’t love Snoopy? So I’m glad to see this important social text vindicated.

… Yeah, I’m sincerely pulling your leg. Have a cartoon.

largeimage.6e4eedaa2560a79f252c1f9a8306dfe3

Maimings

I had my eyes examined today. They still work, though not quite as well as they once did. So it goes.

Afterwards, I looked at my eyes in the mirror. The pupils are huge, having been dilated for the exam. They look like the eyes of a cartoon character.

It reminded me of this line from a short story by Gilbert Sorrentino:

“The maimings of love are endlessly funny, as are the tiny figures of talking animals being blown to pieces in cartoons.”

This line, quoted from memory, first jumped out at me while reading for a college lit class. It obviously stuck. I think the story was called The Moon In Its Flight. Surreal, comic, and very fine writing. I’ll leave you to Google onward for yourself. But if you’re in a comic mood, here’s a little Tom & Jerry for you.

http://www.youtube.com/v/YXoU32y-fU0

Why I Hate My Brain

It did it again. About once a year, despite my warnings, my brain leaves the coffee pot in the dishwasher. I mean it tries to make a pot of coffee without the pot in place, which makes a big mess on the countertop that I have to clean up. My brain doesn’t even help. Well, it did it again this morning. It filled the reservoir and scrunched in a filter, scooped in some Folgers, and wandered off to check e-mail.

I suppose a case could be made that I had my head up my ass, would puts my poor half-century-old brain in a highly untenable position. I demur. My brain has a manifest problem with time and place. It’s always somewhere or somewhen else while I’m trying to deal with life’s simplest tasks. It’s rarely here and now.

I’ve done everything that should be expected of a guy, trying to get my brain to focus on the case. I’ve provided clocks and calendars and familiar environments like Home. I’ve furnished manuals like The Power Of Now and The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. All to no avail.

It does lots of similar things, all the time. For instance, last night it left a burner on the stove on low, so that when I went back for seconds my pea soup had the consistency of bathroom calk. And my brain stubbornly refuses to keep my iPod synced and charged, so I have to do it and it’s not my job.

I’m beginning to think that if my brain continues to refuse to play with the team – let alone think outside the box – I may have to let it go. I’ll have to say Brain, you’re fried. I mean fired. See? It’s not helping me even now. Focus, you distracted brick!

Yeah, I think I’m going to take a meeting with my Mind, to discuss a possible replacement. Preferably something that doesn’t run Windows or caffeine.

If It Was A Joke…

Y’all would’ve missed a chance to laugh.

It was right here, on this very page, free gratis and formatted in pristine Arial font. The single most mind-blowingly epic flash fiction piece to appear on this blog since Wild Radish was right here, and it seems to have been entirely overlooked.

It has alienation, estrangement and the abject stagnation of the human soul. It has lizards and weeds, bad coffee, an unnamed protagonist waiting in vain for rescue or redemption. There’s a named character who never even appears. I’m telling you people, it’s Waiting for Godot revisited for the single serving crowd. There’s lost love, existential pathos, and an unlocked but unapproachable garage, which may or may not be the portal to some life-rending metamorphosis.

It has the fall of night and the pall of midnight, hopeless except for the prospect of breakfast. So that finally after a wandering generation has forgotten him, we see that Kerouac was right about how evening comes

… just before the coming of complete night that blesses the earth, darkens all rivers, cups the peaks and folds the final shore in, and nobody, nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody else besides the forlorn rags of growing old.

This story is what Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf could have been, if only that shrewish Martha had had the decency to decamp with her pity party and leave that poor bastard George in solitude and in peace.

We might all end up wearing those forlorn rags by the end of my tale, but for that breakfast teetering on the very cusp of oblivion. And some tiny mustard seed of faith that – as Cormac McCarthy wrote – the right and God-made sun might rise for all and without distinction.

And finally – O wonders! – the whole misbegotten story of bleak humanity on the edge of a lake framed like a great lidless eye, will if printed out in a standard font fit on but the two sides of a single sheet of cheapass paper. I’m sayin’ it’s short.

Anyway, I don’t know what brought you here, or what you might be looking for, but here it is:

Waiting For Earl, by J. Kyle Kimberlin

The story of two men withdrawn to contemplation on the shore of a nameless, remote and treeless lake in California’s high desert. The fun starts when one of the hermits fails to show up for the story at all. 

Excerpts:

The sky is beautiful and clear. From the Santa Lucias to Tehachapi, it stands disaffected, unashamed, unchallenged by impertinent clouds. How can a man look on all that sky and not feel drawn to self examination, called to make accounting of himself? Our man is thinking about his shoes. …

No man passes through this world and leaves the fabric of existence just the same. There is a ripple or a wave; for better or not, things can never be the same. And he does worry about that, about how he might accidentally cause damage. He has seen the chaos that a careless word can bring, and the churning of the wind in just the smallest dose of hate. …

Now he’s not so sure that time exists at all, except when he’s waiting – like tonight – or seeing how the lines around his eyes are getting deep. Reminds him not so much of crows as of a confluence of rivers.

Yeah, OK, I’m kidding around. But it would be cool if some people would read it and let me know what they think.

Thou hast nor youth nor age

I’ll explain why this video is abjectly relevant to my life … in a couple of days, after I take a nap.

Thou hast nor youth nor age,
    But, as it were, an after-dinner’s sleep,
    Dreaming on both; for all thy blessed youth
    Becomes as aged, and doth beg the alms
    Of palsied eld; and when thou art old and rich,
    Thou hast neither heat, affection, limb, nor beauty,
    To make thy riches pleasant. What’s yet in this
    That bears the name of life? Yet in this life
    Lie hid moe thousand deaths: yet death we fear,
    That makes these odds all even.

I Wish This Commercial Would Vanish

You’ve seen this commercial for Nationwide Insurance, right?

I can’t be the only one who thinks it’s generally asinine, but let me explain why.

Their deal is if you’re a good driver, your deductible goes away, over time. Which only matters if you have a wreck; if you crash, there’s no deductible to meet on your collision coverage.

You’re still paying the same premium, and the only way to take advantage of this cool feature of your policy is to crash, wipe out.

Let’s say you had a $500 deductible. If they lowered your premium $100 a year, in 5 years you’d save enough to vanish your deductible all by yourself.

It’s a stupid sales pitch.

Thanks for letting me share that.

Distractions

I know I’ve been remiss about posting. Ten days since I offered up anything at all. I have no excuse, except that I’ve been distracted. Life can be that way, if you don’t keep the hours tamed with a whip and a chair.

I think sometimes we need to play, and that’s one of the things that’s been claiming my attention. We’ve had a little visitor come for a couple of weeks, to remind us how to play. Here’s a video.

If I have any readers left, God bless. Here’s a vignette – a very short piece of fictional prose – as a token of my appreciation.

http://kylekimberlin.com/story/shining_leaves.pdf

Maybe tomorrow, we can discuss it.

Time in a Blender

Remember the Bass-o-Matic, Dan Aykroyd on SSN?

Bass-O-Matic76

Sometimes it sure seems like the days are being gobbled up, just that way. You drop one in the top about 7:30am, press Medium, and … there’s a horrible noise. Bones and scales. Nobody should have to watch this going on. And the result, when the late shows come on, isn’t nearly as nutritious as we’d like to pretend.

But I’ve over-blended the analogy, as usual.

I’m way behind on my blog reading. I’m behind on my blog writing. But while I’m waiting for consciousness to grind down to a nice, slow stir, here’s a little something to whet your appetite:

Finding your voice in your audience

I listened to an interview recently of the writer Elizabeth Gilbert, who wrote Eat, Pray, Love. She was asked about the genesis of voice and said that it’s important to think about the person you’re writing to – ideally, an individual. She pointed to examples in her own work, and to whom each piece was addressed.

“A consciousness of who you’re speaking to and why is crucial. … Storytelling without an idea of who you’re telling your story to is a voice echoing in an empty room.”

Gilbert explained that this is true because we are different in the way we speak and act, depending on the company we’re in. And I think that’s true. I know it is. I can be very different with different people, if for no other reason than that each relationship imposes a disparate dynamic.

William Stafford said it all best, in his poem A Ritual To Read To Each Other.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider–
lest the parade of our mutual life get lost in the dark.

Yes, yes. But doesn’t this contradict what we’ve so often and emphatically been told by the teachers of creative writing, that we shouldn’t consider the audience at all? Don’t even imagine that there might one day be an audience, they say. Write for yourself. Because worrying about critical reception, misunderstanding, hurt feelings, etc., will kill all hope of creating art.

Well, then, so be it. So it goes. Let it be.
Doo bee doo bee doo.
And in case you’re wondering, it’s true.
I’m writing it all to you.

Excuse me?

Does everybody know what a capcha is? It’s one of those things you run into online pretty often these days, usually when you’re trying to register for a site or post a comment on a blog, in which you must correctly retype a random and strangely displayed word or two. It’s to prove you’re a human being and not a “robot,” a computer designed to zip around the Web in search of places to infect with spam.

Well today I got an email from a wildlife group, asking me to sign a petition to save wolves. I like wolves. Bears and buffalo and all types of wildlife really. I just can’t fathom that after 400 years, give or take, of manifest destiny on this continent, the occupying European settlers can’t stop obsessively savaging the animals. I swear it’s like some bloodthirsty communal OCD, manifesting in asshats who have no other way to justify their employment at our expense. But I digress.

I tried to register to sign this petition, which was a lot like trying to hack into the mainframe that houses the CIA’s cafeteria cookbook, and I encountered a capcha. Without further ado, behold:

auger asseat2

Can you believe it? You might as well, because I’m not making it up. It said auger asseat.

What language is that? I suspect it’s Middle School Study Hall. … Wow. … Is it me, or is that really sick?

How I Double-Wasted A Couple of Hours

Here’s the premise: we all know what it means to waste time. But if you’re doing 2 things at once, both of which are pretty useless, that’s double-wasting time, right?

I think I mentioned that I’ve been having PC troubles. My beautiful desktop machine started crashing – blue screen of death crashing, which is serious – about 8 days ago. Before that, its video functions had been funky. Once the crashing started and I’d ruled out things like virus, bad memory, dust in the tower, and registry fubar, I discovered that the graphics card was overheating. It was twice as hot as it was supposed to be (approx 215 F), but the fans are running.

I’ve been advised to replace the graphics card. I’m working on that. The PC is on injured reserve and I’m using my trusty but temperamental laptop. The desktop still works just fine, with a little fan blowing cold air into the case. But that’s like driving a car around with a bad water pump, and the back seat full of water jugs. Better to let it mostly rest until new parts are obtained and installed, than to be constantly worried and watching the gauges.  

In the mean time, of course everything is backed up as much as possible. All of my writing is saved onto a second PC, CDs, flash drives, and up yonder in The Cloud. But I said to myself, “Hey self, wouldn’t it be cool to have all those poems in one file, which could be updated at will, and saved easily to Dropbox for backup?”

So, since there’s just no arguing with myself when I get a brilliant idea like that, off I went through the short prime time hours of last night, building a Word file of poems by me in alphabetical order. And properly formatted for efficient mapping and retrieval, of course. And while doing that, I was – here’s the double-wasting part – watching TV.

Not writing or reading or winding the clocks or pondering the luminosity of the Waxing Gibbous moon. Shuffling stuff I’ve already written, and glowering at the tube.

Oh dear. But I learned that I have almost 140 completed poems, now all nice and neat. And there’s another folder of unfinished ones; drafts, loose pieces, false starts and insensate stuff. Probably many more in there. But I’ve come to my senses, for now. I’m not diving into that. Instead, I’m writing this. 

By the way, the last post, Cheesy Blogging, really was allowed to ferment for over 24 hours in my vat of drafts before posting. I’m not sure it it improved the flavor. Maybe it just made the stuff a little stale.

Speaking of which, for being such a good reader and sticking with me, here’s a treat for you. From deep in the crusty casks of the Unfinished Poems folder, a poem. It’s from way back in February of 1999.

 

OPEN WATER

I can see nothing.
I look out into limitless dark
that hours ago was the sea
and into which now
everything — boats, birds,
men and islands and all
the world I
knew in daylight —
has disappeared.

I wish I was home
in my old chair, but we
had our final good-byes to make.
I wish I was anywhere candles
burn with happiness
but the ocean called me out tonight.
Up and down on worrisome swells,
then the morning tide wakes and turns
and carries this wreckage
in first light for open water.

 

 

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Open Water by Kyle Kimberlin is licensed under a
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