One Hundred Monkeys in Texas

September 12, 2008

Calling Charlotte A. Cavatica

Filed under: Law — alancochrum @ 11:49 am
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I had to report for jury duty this morning — something that I have somehow never been called for in three decades of adulthood. (And to answer the unasked question: Yes, I have driven and voted during that entire time.) While the bailiff was discussing our civic duty, I was amused to notice a figurine sitting on her desk: a swine with wings.

I’m sure that bailiffs hear every farfetched excuse in the world from various John/Jane Q. Citizens about why they need to be excused from jury duty. And I daresay that the figurine’s owner occasionally would like to reply: “After that story, we’ll let you off when pigs …”

Well, you know the rest.

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A Flannery blouse for the spouse

Filed under: Books,Creativity,Writing — alancochrum @ 11:35 am
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“Writers write!” my wife reminds me occasionally. This is probably wise of her, considering that in some ways I am particularly susceptible to Sloth among the Seven Deadlies. (Not that this is the only one that I’m susceptible to, but that’s a discussion for another day. Maybe. When I get that “round tuit” that everyone talks about.)

She probably would agree with this thought from Flannery O’Connor:

“I’m a full-time believer in writing habits, pedestrian as it all may sound. You may be able to do without them if you have genius but most of us only have talent and this is simply something that has to be assisted all the time by physical and mental habits or it dries up and blows away. … I write only about two hours every day because that’s all the energy I have [because of ill health], but I don’t let anything interfere with those two hours, at the same time and the same place. … Sometimes I work for months and have to throw everything away, but I don’t think any of that was time wasted. Something goes on that makes it easier when it does come well. And the fact is if you don’t sit there every day, the day it would come well, you won’t be sitting there.”

— Letter of Sept. 22, 1957, The Habit of Being

September 10, 2008

Irony on Line 1, sir

Filed under: Business,Work — alancochrum @ 11:10 am
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I am reading one of those automated job-board e-mails, which notifies me that there is a career fair today at the local convention center a few miles away.

I have never been to a career fair before, nor (I suspect) is mine the sort of career that such fairs normally cater to. However: You Never Can Tell. So I make copies of my resume, pull on a tie and jacket and drive over.

And what company should be one of the main sponsors of this soiree but … yes, you guessed it: the one from which I was laid off, which only this month has been in a buyout drive. Another major sponsor: my old employer’s principal regional competitor, which has been working on a buyout drive of its own. Which, if you need a little help connecting the dots, means that neither is looking very hard for skill sets like mine at the moment.

Well, if nothing else, I got a little mental chuckle out of the morning trip.

September 9, 2008

The play’s the thing

Filed under: Books,Writing — alancochrum @ 7:30 am
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Literary passage for the day:

“Sunday nights I sit outside on the pavement under Mrs. Purcell’s window listening to plays on the BBC and Radio Eireann, the Irish station. You can hear plays by O’Casey, Shaw, Ibsen and Shakespeare himself, the best of all, even if he is English. Shakespeare is like mashed potatoes, you can never get enough of him. …

“And Mrs. Purcell says, Do you know what, Frankie?

“What, Mrs. Purcell?

“That Shakespeare is that good he must have been an Irishman.”

Angela’s Ashes, Frank McCourt

(an interesting memoir, albeit one with a high Salty Language Index and occasionally Major TMI)

September 8, 2008

That whirring sound

Filed under: Business,Journalism,Newspapers,Texas — alancochrum @ 9:03 am
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When I was on the editorial board of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, every now and then a reader who was unhappy about some aspect of the paper’s performance would remark that Amon Carter must be rolling over in his grave.

Amon G. Carter Sr. was the North Texas businessman/publisher who put together the newspaper about a century ago. He was also a notorious community booster, and the story goes that when events required him to go to Dallas, he would take a sack lunch so as to avoid purchasing anything in Big D. Given that he has been dead for more than five decades, I found it rather amusing that letter-writers would still invoke him as the guiding spirit of the paper.

 (The curious can read about Carter in Amon, a 1978 book by longtime Star-Telegram scribe Jerry Flemmons.)

However, I am fairly certain that I recently heard the old boy doing a few rpm’s in his final resting place, given that (insert pregnant pause here) the Star-Telegram and The Dallas Morning News have agreed to a joint distribution agreement in parts of their circulation areas.

Given the economic crunch in the industry — the cumulative total in recent years of employee buyouts and layoffs at the two papers is in the multiple hundreds — the venture does make a certain amount of economic sense. But if the soil over a certain Cowtown publisher’s casket looks unusually disturbed, you now know the reason.

September 4, 2008

Not-so-glorious summer

Filed under: Texas,Weather — alancochrum @ 3:50 pm
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The thermometer in my vehicle must be broken.

I looked at it this morning when I took one of my sons to school, and it said “68.” Something must be reversing the readout. I mean, this is September in Texas, so obviously the thermometer is supposed to read “86.”

Aaaahhhh. Coolness. I’d almost forgotten what it’s like.

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