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Credential-less myself, it does amaze me how many people with credentials I have collected on Domani Dave – retired MIT professors, for example, Canadian foreign service types, the odd psychiatrist (meaning, of course, ‘random’ as opposed to ‘strange’).

On the other hand, during a period of my years working at the university here, I would have the odd (in this case meaning ‘from time to time’ and a bit strange) lunch with a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and the conversation was never less than lively.

(Last nod to the ‘My degree is bigger than yours’ culture one has to endure in a university setting, I recall a cocktail party he and his wife hosted.  Populated primarily with university faculty, another guest asked me, ‘How do you know Bill and Mary?’  I’m certain that I was not feeling overly oppressed at that function when I heard in that query: ‘How do you know Bill and Mary?’)

Massachusetts born and a Yalie, Dr. M made the most remarkable comment during one of those lunches.  He said he found me to be ‘the least Southern Southerner’ he’d ever met.  This is of course absurd.  Most prominently, I am unmatched with the novella-length answer to most any question put to me.

Here at the Thanksgiving season, my mind has darted back to the larger family gatherings during my childhood, and what I had always thought to be the most Southern of expressions, ‘gracious plenty’.  My guess of regional claim is based, I’m sure, on pronunciation.  Run it in your head with a Southern accent.  Yes?

I Googled ‘gracious plenty’, and found it paired with ‘elegant sufficiency’:

“Gracious Plenty – If you’ve had enough to eat, you might say you’ve had gracious plenty. This expression goes back to the early 1800s, and serves the same purpose as saying you’re sufficiently suffonsified or you’ve had an elegant sufficiency.”

I heard ‘elegant sufficiency’ only once as a child at a dining table, minus the word ‘elegant’, uttered by my cousin Burt as a burlesque.  (‘More turkey?  No, I believe I’ve had a sufficiency.’)  But ‘a gracious plenty’?  If I heard it once, I heard it a million times.

I do hope you’ll have a gracious plenty on Thanksgiving Day.  I’ll even go so far as to hope you’re sufficiently suffonsified.

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Koan: a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment.  (Merriam-Webster)

The answer to the quintessential ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping’ is (allegedly) the sound of air passing over the hand as it strikes nothing.

I’m sorry, this answer does not strike me as ‘enlightened’.

My favorite Zen Koan is this one.

–      –      –      –      –      –

A duckling placed in a bottle has grown to full size with only its head sticking out through the neck of the bottle.

How can we free the duck without killing it or breaking the bottle?

[Answer]

There!  [punctuated with a sharp two-handed clap]

It’s out!

–      –      –      –      –      –

Kindly explain this answer to me.  I’m not in a great hurry, it can be something to ponder after Thanksgiving lunch before your nap.  However, if you cannot come up with an explanation, I will think very little of you.

I know that’s a bit harsh, but I have every confidence.

Today is Veterans Day here in ‘The States’, as we like to call the country when we’re feeling all jocular.  I myself have not been feeling the least ‘all jocular’ about les États-Unis during 2017, dating from November 8, 2016, but don’t get me started on that.  And do not get me started on Alabama.

What this year has been for me, Veterans Day-wise, is the fifty-year anniversary of surviving eight months of classes in the Air Force learning ‘Intercept Analysis’ before embarking to the Mediterranean in 1968 to eavesdrop on North Africa.

I’ve romanticized my four years in the military all out of proportion, but the unlikelihood of it still astounds me: I was a delicate flower at twenty in 1967.

As I am no longer twenty, I can verify that in spite of guarding against it, conversation among the elderly invariably drifts to infirmities.  While not suggesting that you the reader are elderly, I shall still be brief.  I have been dealing recently with a rendezvous with concrete.

I am in my tenth year of speed walking for thirty minutes every day.  Apparently nothing short of muscle memory saves me from the treacherous uneven sidewalk, but it was not always so.  Some time ago, I tripped and dove into the sidewalk landing on my shoulder; it must have been quite spectacular to witness from a distance.

Still a delicate flower, I suffer from what I call ‘The Princess and the Pea Disorder’ (or ‘PPD’), characterized by feeling that if one thing is going wrong in your life, the whole thing sucks.  I’ve saved you from my bad vibe by recently abstaining from very much writing here on ‘The Dave’ (as we like to call the blog when we’re feeling all jocular).

I wrote a piece years ago about my daily walk, when I was still writing about more than just how long Stephen and I have been a couple.  If I can scare it up, I think I’ll republish it.  It was a crowd-pleaser, and one of the few posts I wrote straight through and hit the ‘Publish’ button without torturing it.

By the way, the title to the present post is a little misleading.

For the past number of Halloween seasons, I’ve proclaimed the posting of this photograph to be its last, but you know I can’t be trusted, so here it is again.

This jack o’lantern had reached its true potential macabre-wise when I set out to take the picture, as it had started to rot and collapse.  With lots of overhanging limbs and leaves where the pumpkin was situated, that tiny shaft of light coming in the top opening and illuminating that one discrete ‘tooth’ was pure serendipity.  That’s photography for you.  [click to enlarge]

Here are two other previously posted pictures for your Halloween pleasure.

The first, merely sinister.  The second, unrelentingly, devouringly terrifying.

Not that long ago, one of the local micro-rags (not the main newspaper) invited me — based on my [expired] reputation as a movie buff — to write reviews.  I did decline without hesitation, knowing that whereas I do have a thing or two to say about movies, my depth and breadth beyond technique is shallow and narrow.

Stephen and I watched ‘Never Let Me Go’ the other evening.  For essentially a non-reader, I had read three of Kazuo Ishiguro’s novels, including this one, and decided the movie managed as matter of factly as possible a pretty hard-sell dystopia.  This was my second viewing; I’m crazy about Carey Mulligan.

We also watched ‘A Ghost Story’ recently.  I suppose when you use the word ‘peculiar’ rather than ‘unconventional’, there is a drift to the negative, so I’ll just say ‘A Ghost Story’ is somewhere in-between.

Starring Rooney Mara and nominally Casey Affleck, it provides an oasis of a movie where the camera is almost exclusively locked down with action confined within the frame.  Also provided: very long takes, which in this case work well, with the exception of a marathon one involving a pie; desperation sets in for it to end.

I say ‘nominally’ starring Casey Affleck, because after his character’s demise early on, he sports the getup shown in the poster below (except for one shot) for the remainder of the running time of the picture.  Though the classic sheet with two holes seems like a really goofy idea, turns out the gamble is very, very effective.

The apparition haunts his house through a number of residents after Rooney Mara has left, never speaking throughout his haunting but for one scene where he sees in the window of the next house over an identical sheet with two holes.  With subtitles rather than sound, their brief exchange ends with:

‘I’m waiting for someone.’

‘Who?’

‘I can’t remember.’

Sounds funny here, actually quite heartbreaking.

I pity the poor fool, so to speak, who sees the poster and expects a thrillfest.  One review I read calls the movie ‘a meditation’, and it does take some dedication to watch.

Do I recommend it for your October viewing?  That’s a very good question.

I sent the email message below to two friends this morning, and got back one reply: ‘An astonishing, even if microscopic, find … would make a dandy tattoo’.

Curiously enough, I have been mulling over a post on tattoos for a long while.  Warning: I will not be kind to them.  Having found the apparently perfect (!) candidate will not change my mind.  Keep watching the skies.

.      .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .

‘This notebook emerged from somewhere the other day, I asked Stephen about it, and he said I’d thrown it out a long time ago and he’d retrieved it.  Always a dangerous action for a mate, IMO.  Turns out it was for History 112 at UGA, Spring Quarter 1971, which I guess was my first quarter back in school after the Air Force.  In the process of revisiting my stellarly pathetic note taking style prior to re-throwing it out, I found this microscopic drawing in the margin of a page.  WTF…’

[Images clickable]

Today is our Anniversary, two years of legal wedded bliss.

Though I consider our couple-hood to date from April 1, 1977, Stephen argues that it would be one day in September of that year, when we moved in together.  April first was our first official date, so what if I am being a little premature.

I’ve confessed that over forty years I’ve had a number of brief episodes of ‘What am I doing with this person?’.  Stephen says he’s had not a single one.  All this proves is that I have no problem with living with a big fat liar.

I think I’ve not been able to depart his company (yet…) because he smells so good; apparently there is some basis in scientific fact for this notion.

Here we are when we were still young and beautiful.  As I said the first time I posted one of these photos, we remain leagues away from hideous.

You are all perfect dearies for allowing me to crow about our longevity.  Again.


Apparently incapable of corralling his lust, Stephen found this video today.

The ‘person of interest’ is on the left, for those who might need direction…

There was a post a long time ago, now gone from my blog post-pruning, about my history with Edward Gorey.  I was introduced to Edward Gorey in 1963 and collected him for years, then stopped.  And blah, blah, blah.

The subject of his The Gashlycrumb Tinies, or After the Outing came up briefly last week in Savannah, and when I got home that set me to thumbing through several of his little books, including that one.

Everybody loves Neville, myself included, but Prue may be my favorite.

There’s something wrong about saying that, isn’t there.

First things first, putting last post’s subject to bed, so to speak.

(It was about the eclipse.  Oh, go ahead and read it…)

For our experiencing The Eclipse, instead of that stern looking pier we scoped-out three weeks ago now, we opted for a very pleasant lakeside public park in the same vicinity, which we had also previously scoped.

Stephen had the very sweet notion that everyone on the East Coast was as eager to see a total eclipse as he, and those people would be flocking to South Carolina for the sight.

Having arrived at our park early to avoid his envisioned but not materializing one bit traffic gridlock, we decided to travel fifteen miles further into the ‘perfect viewing zone’ to Abbeville SC just for a look.

Abbeville (established in 1764) has the distinction of bookending the existence of the Confederate States of America, as it is the location of both the launch of South Carolina’s secession from the Union, and Confederacy President Jefferson Davis’ official dissolution of the Confederacy at it’s last official cabinet meeting there.  Hefty credentials, no?

An eclipse-viewing festival was in fact forming-up there, but we decided to return to our park, which collected only a mere four other couples as the eclipse drew near.

SO, the eclipse.

Voluminous clouds which forebodingly formed prior the eclipse getting underway had parted with the exception, during the very final stages, of one discreet puff which blocked the sun.  Like the cheapest little tease, it lingered there until just before the eclipse popped.

‘Popped’?  Because the approach to totality is so protracted, one finally assumes ever so briefly ‘Is that all there is?’ the instant before the black disk of the photographs you see materializes within the space of about a second.

I gasped.  Audibly.  Worth every bit of our effort to witness it.

Now, on to another event which, let’s face it, was probably less likely to have happened than witnessing a total solar eclipse in my lifetime.  Day before yesterday, I drove to Savannah GA to meet the elusive Harper’s Other Dad, and the illustrious Ur-Spo, with whom I’ve been blog pals for eight years.

I must tell you that in spite of having seen both move and speak online, in the flesh, in the crisp light of day, they were very briefly kind of holographic.

I did not gasp, but perhaps sensing my dumbfoundment(!), we hied ourselves to lunch just down the street, during which I tried (unsuccessfully) to behave myself: I am in point of fact incapable of answering a question without a story.

THE loveliest gentlemen, I departed their company four hours later.  At risk of sounding this way or that, I confess that I was more than a bit ‘postpartum’ yesterday.

Life is very screwy.

Here we are, all sqwoze into a selfie.  [Clickable]

Why am I telling you this?

I started blogging in 2009, but September 2015, I ditched the previous posts in a fit of cyber housecleaning. Some of it was really nice writing, but alas as my old friend Susan once said, 'Compulsion is a cruel master'.

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