Ottoman wisdom

One time, I was talking to a neighbor about all types of people who steal from the till, whether they're poor or not (because humans are far from perfect). Then she told me that her father, who was Armenian and spoke Ottoman Turkish, shared this saying:

"The man who works with honey will sometimes lick his fingers."

True! That's a great one--effective imagery that sticks.


Luxury withdrawal

Jane Fonda mentioned an interesting phrase in her memoir (which I've thankfully finished): luxurium tremens. She said that James Taylor created it, meaning "the sudden loss of luxury." I suppose it's a spinoff of "delirium tremens" or DT's, which is what people experience after alcohol withdrawal.

Unfortunately, there's nothing about it online, so this will be the first instance of it. But that shouldn't be--if he indeed did invent that phrase, then it should be somewhere.

Well, I will never suffer from it because I don't live in even a sliver of the type of luxury that rich people such as Ted Turner have. But then again, compared to the typical poverty-striken third-world inhabitant, I *am* living in luxury.



My goal for this week was 40,000 words of the latest draft of a novel that may never see the light: I now have more than 42,000 words. So just a few thousand more, and I'll be at my original printing goal (to print out 45k instead of the 40k I settled on a couple days ago). I reached the goal yesterday, but I was too disappointed about a non-writing pursuit to blog. Today I have overcome the disappointment, but unfortunately didn't write anything.

But at least I have made a very important decision: Captain Sisko is my favorite Star Trek captain.

A lot of people like Captain Picard, but he's quite cold. Sure, he's in charge and is sophisticated, but I like Sisko's hands-on approach. He's more down-to-earth, but he also has the strength and savvy that is needed for successful diplomacy and leadership.

I wonder if there are other people who like him. As I'm not a Trekkie or Trekker or Star Trek freak (whatever they call those folks), I'll never find out. But at least I've been able to make that decision. Now I just have to get the rest of my life in order.


Almost there

Last year, before Nanowrimo, I wrote 40,000 words of a novel that's more mainstream than my previous [unpublished] one. Then I put it aside to write 50,000 words for Nanowrimo, and after that, I took a break from writing fiction because stuff was developing on the radio front.

Then I resumed the novel a few months ago, and decided to totally rewrite it. I would've finished the rewrite sooner, but my radio life was crazy, and then my friend John died. So I resumed writing this week, and I'm almost at the 40k mark again--just a couple of days away. And that's 40,000 words of fresh stuff--pure rewrite.

I want to wait until I get to 45,000 words to print out the draft, but I'm running out of steam. The problem is that the story is out, but I have to deal with the annoying details. I don't want to dig that deep--I just want to do general stuff and move on. But I can't. And the worst part of it is that there is no one in the biz who's expecting it--I'm just going to be one of those idiotic, naive hopefuls that's going to be sending out query letters. And I can't do that until I create a decent draft.

This is one of those times when I would email John and he would email back some interesting advice or tidbits from his own writing. But he's gone for good! I can't believe it!

So I'm bummed because of his absence from this world, having writer's block, and the fact that I'm not a published writer. I'm still a wannabe.


Chrenkoff published

I decided to check out Arthur Chrenkoff's blog, just in case he'd posted something (even though he had to give it up last year because of work), and he had an announcement about his upcoming novel!

A couple of years ago, he checked out the Metrofiction site, and asked me about it. Even though it's a Chicago-based group, I invited him to be an honorary guest because he was a huge blogger and seemed like a nice guy. Plus, he had some Chicago connections via his relatives, so I considered him an "honorary" Chicagoan, even though he's an Aussie.

I remember him "telling" me (via email) that he'd tried many times to get his novel published, but couldn't. Meanwhile, his blog was read by thousands of people every day. So at least he'd found an audience for his writing that way. He was really successful.

Meanwhile, he emailed me the first part of his novel, and it seemed interesting, but I had no power to help him except through the site. So I posted an excerpt, and let it sit there all this time.

And now he's getting it published! The same story I saw! He totally deserves it!


Essplain to the Mexican

I just saw something that is not available anywhere else: a show on CAN-TV (Chicago public access) called "Essplain to the Mexican."

Unfortunately, there's no information about it online, and I think this is the first mention of it anywhere. But what makes it so Chicago and American is the variety of people who called in and the content of the show, as well as the freedom to do it.

A woman, who is half Mexican and half Guatemalan, sat in a chair and threw out questions about random things, asking the television audience to "essplain" to her what they mean and why the exist. So she asked about such things as water polo and polo, seltzer water and soda water, and other stuff. Then she waited for people to call in to "essplain" them to her.

The callers were typical of Chicago: white, black, ghetto, educated, gay, straight, single, married, and other urban variations. In between calls, she talked to her sister on her cell phone and read text messages. It was like a video blog--that's the best way to describe it.

I wouldn't be surprised if she gets more viewers. It's just so odd, it's fascinating, and something that we can't see elsewhere. Even in the 'burbs.


Word hawk

When I was looking up the word faux hawk, I came across Word Spy, a site that's "devoted to lexpionage, the sleuthing of new words and phrases. These aren't 'stunt words' or 'sniglets,' but new terms that have appeared multiple times in newspapers, magazines, books, Web sites, and other recorded sources."

If you're into the provenance of words, it's a good site that's easy to read and understand (ie, not full of linguistic-speak packaged in a complex writing style).


Food deserts

There's an article in the paper about health problems in poor neighborhoods, and they used a phrase that I would've come up with if I had the energy, brain cells, and time to observe such details: "food deserts," which are "areas with scant grocery stores and many fast-food restaurants."

They even have a map (scroll down) of those types of neighborhoods in Chicago, which are predominantly in the western and southern parts of the city.



A while ago, when I was doing research about Incas to write something for a textbook, I decided to look at a 1969 Compton's Encyclopedia I have. Of course, I had to use newer sources to do the project, but I was curious to find out what they said about Incas more than 30 years ago to see how they described history back then. I read some good information, and then came upon this:

By the time the Spaniards arrived, however, the empire had been weakened by civil war. Its fall to Pizarro and his handful of men is one of the tragedies of history.

"How awful," I thought, so I read on:

After a few disastrous rebellions, the spirit of the people was broken, and they declined into the submissive apathy which marks the Peruvian Indians of today.

I re-read it to make sure that it really said that: "declined into the submissive apathy which marks the Peruvian Indians of today." Yes, it said it. And that's just one example of how political correctness was absent from encyclopedias back then. I can only imagine how many people would be absolutely livid to read that today. There's other stuff I've found in those old encyclopedias which I'd like to post here sometime as well.

Unfortunately, I can't provide a link to that Inca text, but I swear it's really in there. If you have one of those old Compton's, see for yourself.


Girl Friday

I've been working crazy hours, but I don't have a regular schedule. One week might look quiet empty, but then, at the last minute, I'll be given a lot of hours in the radio world or translating projects from elsewhere. When I was talking to a friend about my radio situation, he said it sounds like I'm a "Girl Friday" because they give me a bunch of diverse tasks.

Being the nerd I am, I looked the term up, and saw it means:

"An efficient and devoted aide or employee; a right-hand man." Friday is a character in the novel Robinson Crusoe. The protagonist Robinson Crusoe rescues a young native man, and calles him 'man Friday' because he met him on a Friday. 'Girl Friday' is a term, now frowned upon, for a resourceful female assistant, made popular by the classic 1940 comedy adaptation of 'The Front Page' (His Girl Friday) starring Rosalind Russell as an ace reporter and Cary Grant as her cynical editor and ex-husband.

Robinson Crusoe? I had no idea (obviously--otherwise I wouldn't have looked it up). Here's the excerpt that includes the Friday name:

...after this, made all the Signs to me of Subjection, Servitude, and Submission imaginable, to let me know, how he would serve me as long as he liv’d; I understood him in many Things, and let him know, I was very well pleas’d with him; in a little Time I began to speak to him, and teach him to speak to me; and first, I made him know his Name should be Friday, which was the Day I sav’d his Life...

If anyone wrote like that today, they would be so rejected, so fast, and if somehow it made it to print, it would bomb big-time. Just look at this "exciting" description below the title, which was in the first edition of the book, on the first page:

THE| LIFE| AND| STRANGE SURPRIZING| ADVENTURES| OF| ROBINSON CRUSOE,| Of YORK, MARINER:| Who lived Eight and Twenty Years,| all alone in an un-inhabited Island on the| Coast of AMERICA, near the Mouth of| the Great River of OROONOQUE;| Having been cast on Shore by Shipwreck, where-|in all the Men perished but himself.| WITH| An Account how he was at last as strangely deli-|ver’d by PYRATES.|

The suspense is killing me! It sounds like a scientific journal. Is anyone awake at this point?


Jump the broom

A guy asked a friend if she'd "jumped the broom" yet, and she asked me if I knew what that phrase meant. I'd never heard of it before, and neither had she. I found out it:

...originates in the West African country of Ghana...Brooms were waved over the heads of marrying couples to ward off spirits. The couple would jump over the broom at the end of the ceremony...[and it] symbolized two things. The first was the wife's commitment or willingness to clean the courtyard of the new home she had joined. Furthermore, it expressed her overall commitment to the house. The second thing was the determination of who ran the household. Whoever jumped highest over the broom was the decision maker of the household (usually the man).

And then:

During slavery, slaves were often not allowed to marry, and so an alternative ceremony for marking a couple's commitment was adopted. Most historians and curators of African-American cultural collections agree that the tradition--at least as practiced by African-Americans--originated in the southern U.S. However, that is not entirely accepted; there is still speculation about possible African ceremonial origins, one of which was for a bride to sweep the home of her mother-in-law on her wedding day.


Good joke

Whenever I see the typical Chicago scene on the street, where five over-fed guys who are working for the city are standing around, while the sixth guy is pushing around dirt or putting a rope on a nail or using a jackhammer, I think about this joke:

"How many Teamsters does it take to change a lightbulb?"

"Five--you got a problem with that?"

Tonight I walked past four guys standing around, looking down a hole in the street, blocking traffic. One guy made a joke about being part of Local Whatever, and another guy took offense. They then had to come to an agreement that it was just a joke, and even though one of them was from Indiana, he should still be able to take it, blah blah blah. And I wondered who was doing the work--were they waiting for the fifth guy to finish hanging a thread on a piece of cement, or were they trying to figure out which Local was responsible for putting the cover back over the hole?

The thing is, it's common in Chicago for outdoor city jobs, such as construction or the Department of Streets and Sanitation, to be staffed by several people who are not allowed (or willing) to multi-task: one guy drives the truck to the site, another unloads the pipes or whatever, another sets up the barriers, another unlocks the door, another puts his finger in the air to see which way the wind is blowing, etc. They're just not in the same lane as the rest of us: while a lot of jobs require you to be able to juggle different responsibilities, these guys (and some gals) take care of nothing more than their narrow tasks, collect the cushy paychecks that we furnish them through our inflated taxes, and continue to talk about who would be most offended by a joke while they stand around waiting for the day to end.

When it's daylight and I have a camera with me, I'll take a picture and post it here. It's a lot easier than trying to explain. And it's not like I won't have plenty of opportunities to get that perfect shot.


John Deaver

From the Chicago Tribune:

John W. Deaver
1953 - 2006

In free time, attorney was a novelist, actor, musician

By Joan Giangrasse Kates
Special to the Tribune
Published July 6, 2006

After being diagnosed with cancer last month, attorney John W. Deaver sent an e-mail thanking co-workers for their support and expressing the optimism and confidence they'd come to expect of him over the last two years.

"He told them that God willing, he'd be back in the office soon, and that never in his wildest dreams did he ever think he'd have such a wonderful job or that he'd find so much happiness in life," recalled his wife of three years, Barbara. "He'd just found out he had cancer, and yet he still felt so fortunate."

For nearly two years, Mr. Deaver also was an active member of the Steel Beam Theater in St. Charles, where he had played bit parts in its past four productions.

"John was one of the kindest, gentlest people I've ever known," said Donna Steele, the artistic director of the Steel Beam Theater. "He was intelligent and creative. He was also an endearing character, the type of person you rarely meet in life but are certain you'll never forget."

Mr. Deaver, 53, of West Chicago, a litigation attorney for CNA Insurance in Chicago, died Monday, July 3, in his home following a recent surgery.

Born in Wilmington, Del., Mr. Deaver grew up in St. Louis, where he received both a bachelor and law degree from Washington University. He also took graduate courses at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Oxford University in England.

For many years, Mr. Deaver was a freelance legal auditor in St. Louis before joining the legal staff at the downtown headquarters of CNA Insurance in Chicago about two years ago.

"John was the antithesis of many attorneys," said colleague David Dong, the director of legal services at CNA. "He had not a jaded bone in his body and never came to work for the almighty dollar. He'd get frustrated and angered by any injustice he saw in the legal system."

At the Steel Beam Theater, Mr. Deaver performed in productions of "Amadeus," "Christmas Story," "Jekyll & Hyde" and "Our Town."

"He had really grown as an actor over the past several months," said Steele. "No matter how challenging the role, he was always willing to jump in with both feet."

In recent years, Mr. Deaver had written many short stories and a suspense novel. He had also taught himself how to play everything from Beethoven and Bach to Pink Floyd on guitar.

"He was always busy burning the candle at both ends, but he loved every minute," said his wife.

Other survivors include his mother, Irene; a sister, Janet Smith; two stepsons, Ervin Gockley and Will Gockley; two stepdaughters, Marianne Bellot and Malinda Gockley; and seven stepgrandchildren.


Female comebacks

Somebody sent me the following:

Man: Haven't I seen you someplace before?
Woman: Yes, that's why I don't go there anymore.

Man: Is this seat empty?
Woman: Yes, and this one will be if you sit down.

Man: Your place or mine?
Woman: Both. You go to yours, and I'll go to mine.

Man: So, what do you do for a living?
Woman: I'm a female impersonator.

Man: Hey baby, what's your sign?
Woman: Do not enter.

Man: Your body is like a temple.
Woman: Sorry, there are no services today.

Man: I would go to the end of the world for you.
Woman: But would you stay there?


Farming data

I think what's frustrating about modern jobs, at least in a technologically-advanced society, is the amount of data that has to be organized (and analyzed, if you're lucky). So the result is an entire day spent in front of a computer in a cubicle in a climate-controlled environment with windows that can never open (if you're lucky enough to be near a window).

I'm not in that situation, but I have been, and when I was looking for non-teaching jobs, it seemed that a lot of them were like that. Just look at the job descriptions in the classifieds, and you'll see a lot of organizing of data. Boring. Which is why a lot of people go online to get away from the monotony.

I call it "farming data". Of course, there is farming data out there, but that refers to data about agriculture. My term "farming data" makes the "farming" a verb instead of a noun.

Think about it: if you're working in a cubicle or alone at a desk, aren't you given tasks that require you to farm data? It's inescapable today.


PC madness?

Brainy Mad Minerva sent me an article about Spanish groups saying

...that definitions relating to them in the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy are outdated and demeaning. Their complaints have created a heated dispute with the compilers of the latest version of the Diccionario de la Real Academia EspaƱola — equivalent to the Oxford English Dictionary — who have dismissed the concerns as political correctness gone mad.

Is that true? Here's what offends them:

Sinagoga (synagogue) A meeting for illicit ends

Gitano (Gypsy) One who practices deceit or who tricks

Marica (ladybird or slang for gay man) Effeminate, weak man

Ajamonarse (to become like a ham) Used to describe how pregnant women increase in size

Gallego (Galician) Dumb, stupid or deaf, in Costa Rica and El Salvador



Well, less than three weeks after being diagnosed with cancer, John Deaver passed away last night. Someone told me that he had been feeling ill since the beginning of this year, but didn't go to the doctor until last month. So who knows what would have happened if he went to the doctor earlier.

The past couple of years, he really blossomed as he was involved in various activities and had a great job, so he lived life to the fullest. A lot of people will miss him.



I said before that I was reading Jane Fonda's memoir. The first part, which was about her early life, was interesting but screwed up. I kept an open mind when I got to her political section because she seemed reflective about her early life and the mistakes she made. So I assumed she would be similar as she talked about her trip to North Vietnam. Through her description of her trip there, I saw that she was totally used. After all, she was a rich American celebrity who was telling the US military via the radio to not fight, and she only visited the Soviet-backed north. They must have been salivating at all the media opportunities they'd have with her to help them spread their message. And she fell for it, and she still does! She even said that the POW's she met with were healthy and were really speaking from their hearts when they were talking against their own country.

There's so much more I read that pissed me off, that I can't write about it without losing my cool. So all I'll say is: what an idiot!