Wednesday, May 01, 2013


Here's just what you need to make your day a joy: a collection of odds and ends I feel a need to get out of my mind and into yours. You're welcome.

Item 1

My good friend, Chris, of Splits 'n Giggles, is running in the Orange County Marathon on May 5th. It will be his first marathon, ever. He has done amazing things with his body over the past year or so, dropping something like 100 pounds and otherwise making me feel like a lazy slug for losing two pounds in preparation for running out of breath on my first trip around the bases in my Sunday softball league.

In honor of the victims of the Boston Marathon bombings, Chris will be wearing a Boston Red Sox cap. The initials of the four people killed in connection with that hideousness were written onto the hat by Chris. This is no small thing for him. Chris is a lifelong proud New York Yankees fan. It truly is special for him to wear a Sox cap during his run and I thank him for the gesture. He has graciously offered to send the cap to me following his run. I'll do a follow-up when I receive it.

Item 2

A few of you were kind enough to read through a long screed of mine some ten days ago. In it, I expressed a number of self doubts, made some scattershot comments concerning reasons to hate humanity, and otherwise opened up a vein to bleed all over this page. I had published it here, but pulled it down immediately when the Boston Globe asked to buy a piece of mine which was included as part of that screed. Everyone who read it and had something to say was wonderfully kind. Thank you for that.

One thing I meant to include in the screed, but didn't - since it was a screed written under some mental duress, I hadn't written an outline and forgot until it was too late - was a quote from Robert Paul Smith. Some of you may have no idea who Robert Paul Smith was. If so, go to the link. Or you can just go to the next paragraph here because I'm going to tell you a little about him.


Robert Paul Smith was a writer. Robert Paul Smith was a tremendous writer. As a matter of fact, I think Robert Paul Smith is my favorite writer of all time, aside from Mark Twain, and it's a damn shame he isn't more remembered.

(I'd like to give credit to the person who turned me on to Robert Paul Smith approximately two years ago, but I'm ashamed to say I'm not entirely sure who did me that favor. I think it was either Cricket or Craig. They're both prime candidates since they're well-read and eclectic, have both stopped blogging, and both have names beginning with C, which may not mean much to you but to me it represents a good reason for my confusing them. In any case, and whoever it was, I owe you one. A big one.)

If Robert Paul Smith had died before I was born, I might now be a believer in reincarnation. I might seriously have considered the possibility that I had been him in a past life. His style and choice of subject matter are about as close to my own as any writer I've yet encountered. As such, I find him irresistibly charming. And, since you seem to have an unnatural fondness for my scribblings, I have to assume you'd like him, too.

Anyway, here's the quote, and the reason I wanted to include it in my screed is because I find it particularly prescient concerning our current state of affairs:

We seem to be having a contest now that I never anticipated - a convulsive effort to make ourselves so loathsome that when we slip the trigger and exterminate ourselves we will have been morally right to do so.

That comes from a work entitled Crank. I have to believe the subtitle will send you on a dead sprint to your local library in search of it. Here it is: A Book of Lamentations, Exhortations, Mixed Memories and Desires, All Hard or Chewy Centers, No Creams. If you can't find it at the library, I'd suggest picking up a used copy somewhere. From my investigations (granted, none too exhaustive) it is apparently out of print. That fact alone tells me all I need to know about the sad state of the world. Then again, if my estimation is correct and I really do write like he did, then the gap left by his being gone leaves more room for me to be published, so there's that.

Item 3

A couple of weeks ago, I asked you to name some comedy teams you enjoyed. I told you that I would say a few syllables (utter a few adjectives) concerning each. I've decided not to follow through on my promise (which is par for this course, but still no excuse for disappointing the 2 or 3 of you who, for reasons known only to yourself, expected better of me.)

I'll give you the bottom line. I like comedy teams. All of them. Any people who try to bring a few more laughs into the world are OK by me. I could have given you some specifics, i.e., the next time you watch Laurel & Hardy, pay attention to Oliver Hardy's hands. They are quite possibly the most graceful and balletic hands in the history of motion pictures, and probably the only hands that, by themselves and with no words or facial mannerisms, have ever reduced me to helpless gales of guffaws, so I guess that would have been worthwhile to say - and so I just did - but, at present, I don't feel like writing a few thousands words about most of the teams you mentioned. Sorry! Maybe later.

(I suppose there are one or two comedy teams I'm not particularly enamored of. Nixon & Agnew come to mind. Their plumbers sketch was far too derivative of Bagel Street for my taste. I do have to say, however, that few could top them for patter. Nattering Nabobs of Negativism was a classic.)

[Dick and Spiro after accepting the award for Best Spoken Word Recording at the 1975 Grammy Awards]
Item 4

There is no Item 4. It is the Sanity Clause.

And with that, I bid you fondue.

Soon, with moe better stuff.


Tabor said...

He's baaack, and in unusually good form! Glad to know that my intermittent dose of reality is still going strong. Good dog!

Along These Lines ... said...

Speaking of comedy teams, two of my favorites were British: The Two Ronnies, and Morecambe and Wise. Gotta love The Fork Handles! (on youtube)

CiCi said...

Two days ago I returned from a two week road trip through Iowa. We saw some people around a TV one evening and asked what was going on and when they told us about the bombing in Boston I thought of you and your wife and hoped you were ok. I read your article this morning. Sheesh. My friend and I were having a wonderful vacation while all this was happening.

Daryl said...

welcome back .. dont ever doubt ... ever xo

Jackie said...

Good luck to Chris as he runs the Orange County Marathon. Wonderful friend he is to send you the cap. When I read it earlier in his comments, my heart was touched.
Screed on, my friend. You have more than the right... You know that I care.
I am going to watch Oliver Hardy's hands now, for sure. Never noticed, but I will.
Fondue to you, Jim.

Maggie May said...

The sad state of the world? Yes...... but we mustn't forget the good going on along side it.
We need to laugh and keep our sense of humour....... otherwise we'd all go mad!
Maggie x

Nuts in May

Karen said...

Now that's a friend... wearing a Red Sox cap ... and then sending it to you. Love.

Chris said...

Thanks for the mention, Jim. When I first thought of wearing a Sox hat in tribute, I knew I'd want to have it end up in a proper place (and really, it's not like I'M ever gonna wear the thing again). Having chatted back and forth with you for years now, it was obvious to me that I needed to include you in this event. From what I'm hearing. lots of runners in the OC Marathon are planning to pay tribute to Boston in one way or another. I myself was thinking about running the race while carrying Big Baby Davis on my back, but I think he's been traded. Just as well, it would've just been another fine mess I'd gotten myself into.

Chris said...

Thanks, Jackie. I've also added "Sweet Caroline" and "More Than a Feeling" to my marathon iPod playlist.

Michelle H. said...

That was definitely "odd" for your oddment. :-) Good luck to Chris! I hope the TV cameras zoom in on him wearing the cap.

Buck said...

Anyway, here's the quote, and the reason I wanted to include it in my screed is because I find it particularly prescient concerning our current state of affairs:

I find that quote particularly troubling. Then again, I DO believe you've gone on the record as not owning a gun, so there's that. Still: troubling.

Suldog said...

Here are the Boston-based tunes that would give you an adrenaline boost if needed:

Whammer Jammer - J. Geils Band

I Ain't Particular - Duke & The Drivers

Smokin' - Boston

Toys In The Attic - Aerosmith

I Don't Wanna Grow Up - The Fools

I'm Shipping Up To Boston - Dropkick Murphys

Put on any two of these back-to-back and you're looking at a five-minute mile.

Suldog said...

I have no plans to shoot myself, if that's what you're worried about. Mr. Smith was talking about the deplorable state of society in general combined with the then (1961) possibility of one country or another wiping humanity from the face of the earth. Unfortunately, it applies even more so now.

messymimi said...

Suldog, i enjoy your writing so much, i'm pulling for you to become world famous.

Hilary said...

How cool that your friend Chris is running with a Sox hat.. and that it will belong to you afterward. A lovely gesture from start to finish. Best of luck, Chris!

lime said...

best wishes to chris, that is so excellent of him in so many ways!

robert paul smith...hhmm...may need to check him out.

nixon and agnew were a comedy team? gee, i thought it was more like tragedy or horror.

Barbara Shallue said...

How awesome that Chris will run with that Sox hat. I'm so impressed by anyone who runs a marathon, but doubly impressed by his weight loss. Also, I'm wondering if there is some kind of reincarnation thing going on...

Shammickite said...

I'm back on the blogging scene after a few weeks of abject idleness. Hooray!
Comedy teams? I loved Morecambe and Wise. Never heard of them? that's coz they are English.... both gone to the comedy club in the sky now, but they were really funny!

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...