Did he really say that?

The kind of humor I like is the thing that makes me laugh for five seconds and think for ten minutes = GEORGE CARLIN...Stained glass, engraved glass, frosted glass–give me plain glass = JOHN FOWLES...Music is the mathematics of the gods = PYTHAGORAS...Nothing is more fluid than language = R.L.SWIHART

Sunday, April 29, 2012

A World With One Law

With numerous Jefferson colleagues, Social Studies teacher Matt Maddox openly shared the Civil Rights Heroes essay written by Nikki Hill
But I was an audience of one when he recited–from memory–another "essay" written by Ms. Hill. Explaining the circumstances behind its creation took almost as long as the recital: "Social Studies involves societies and no society can exist without laws. I happened to be listening to John Lennon's IMAGINE when I came up with the idea of having my students create their own society based on one–and only one–law. Half of the kids, being from South Central, wrote about no drugs, no guns, or no alcohol. The other half of the kids wrote variations on the theme of loving your neighbor. All of that was very predictable stuff and pretty goddam tedious to grade but then along came Nikki:
Loneliness is a crime and all first-time offenders will be jailed. They would range in age from five to ten. Instead of being put behind bars, they would climb on them; play on jungle gyms and with video games. They would learn good manners and how to have safe fun. Then they would dance the Bugaloo with silly Barney. At the end of their dance, they would bow to their elders. Re-entering the real world after such "imprison-ment," these criminals would never grow up to feel a need to be wanted by a post office wall because they would be wanted by each other.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cuckoo is Okay

In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.

Orson Welles, as the mysterious Harry Lime in The Third Man, spoke those words. Uncredited as scriptwriter, Orson supposedly improvised the quote.

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Wedge Woman

The Wedge Woman on the wall
Is at least four storeys tall.
From the first storey
Down below
She was someone
I had to know.
One flight up
Was storey two.
She was looking
Kind of blue.
In the third storey
Her chest did heave
But it was time to leave.
In storeys one through three
We said “Goodbye” to Gallery Z.
On the fourth storey
And above
Wedge Woman will fade with the sun.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Mommy, Mommy! (Five Years Later)

Last month, a man was arrested for jay-walking.
Today, he was sentenced to twenty-nine years in jail.

Mother was indignant and paralyzed by paranoia. All she could think was: "This is a ‘Police State’ and the law is in dirty blue hands." But in her hands, there was incomplete information.

The jay-walker was stopped by the police because he was Wanted by the FBI for having robbed three banks in Wisconsin. Why bother with all the facts when it is so much faster to pass judgment?

There is a greater danger in having partial information than having no information at all.

Context is everything.

.................MOMMY, MOMMY................

The teacher said  6+3=7
and then he wrote it on the board.

Mother was shocked and reported the teacher to the Principal. The teacher was called into the Principal’s office to be given a lecture on the dangers of disseminating disinformation to impressionable young minds. The principal threatened disciplinary action against the teacher who admitted to having spoken and written the exact statement he was accused of. The teacher enjoyed the lecture. Upon its completion, he apologized.
"Sir, I am most sorry for a glaring omission. The complete text of what I said to the class–and what I wrote on the board–was 6+3=7+2 demonstrating that different numbers can add up to the same thing. Then a student said ‘That’s fine. Both pairs add up to nine!’ And the pleasure was mine.”

I Think Not!

No sweat. No stain.
No pain. No gain.
No effort. No fatigue.
Do six No’s equal one Yes?
I think not.
Pardon my syllabic tricks
Nut nobody needs

Monday, April 9, 2012

The Original Scam

Fresh out of the womb, human needs are basic and universal: warm milk, clean linen, and a comforting shoulder. The supply should be plentiful.
There are no requisition forms for the newborn child to complete but the formula for satisfying these needs is easy to follow. One obnoxious cry should be sufficient to have the milk delivered. Add some poop to the Pampers and clean underwear is on the way. Yawn in Mother’s face and a soft shoulder beckons. This is the family way.
But not all newborns get clean linen. The comforting shoulder may feel like a rock and the Pampers might only be changed every fifth poop. The helpless infant records all these slights on an invisible deposit slip at the memory bank. The loud obnoxious cry is never completely silenced. It just reverses direction and bellows across that internal landscape known as the soul. Neglect breeds substitution.
There is no 800-number for a Family Replacement Bureau but the streets are willing and eager to provide a mock family. Basic human needs denied in their infancy morph into still-born emotions which can be cradled by streetlight. Upon reaching an alleged state of maturity, a child will find no shortage of illicit and illegal pleasures available to fill the emotional gap. Real scams are sure to follow.
To scam is to manipulate others for one’s personal benefits and we need “personal benefits” from Day One of our lives but start out with absolutely no control over their access other than that loud original scam.
No word in the English language has more synonyms than Help! But the crazy thing is most of those synonyms are not even words and the neglected infant learns them all.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


If an award were given for Most Boring Vacation Photos, I have two potential winners.

Exhibit #1
This door with the Rene Magritte title (Not An Exit) was photographed while vacationing in Oregon.

Exhibit #2
I climbed five flights of stairs to photograph this shelf of books.
It was in a room with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves containing nothing but bound volumes of math journals.
I removed the tenth volume from the left (Spring, 1996) and the resulting photograph was pure ego gratification.

For the first time in my life, I was physically on the campus of the University of Oregon but my words–and numbers–preceeded me there by sixteen years.