I have a long history of being conflicted about Hollywood’s long history of using a Southern accent as shorthand for ‘stupid’.

The practice continued just this past week with a bouncy little video online entitled ‘This Song is Dedicated to the Last Undecided Voter’, modeled on the final 2020 Presidential ‘debate’.

You don’t have to watch the whole thing, as the titular last undecided voter appears about 25 seconds in, with requisite dimwitted drawl.

I myself spotted the liability of a Southern accent as early as high school and began then trying to at least tamp-down my own.  Half a century later, mission accomplished: I’m told that I have an ‘Atlanta accent’.  Not too hot, not too cold…

There are, mind you, beautiful natural Southern accents.  A boss of mine once, a gentleman (truly) from South Carolina, spoke in a sort of precise melody.  Not so much as a single sign of tinkering.

Unfortunately, the ‘other’ reputation of the Southern accent is kept alive by the likes of House of Representatives member from Georgia, Doug Collins.

If you followed the televised impeachment proceedings, you will recall Collins’ carnival barker/cattle auctioneer delivery, a perfectly realized redneck rat-a-tat-tat.

Some decades ago during four years sustained living outside the South, naïf-like I endeavored to be an ‘ambassador’ for ‘It’s not really like that’ in the South.  Shortly upon returning, I realized it was exactly ‘like that’.

Now, today, I realize the entire country is exactly ‘like that’.

Do NOT ask me to describe the terrain along the way through the rabbit hole that brought me to this online ‘review’ of Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye.

Also, please agree that naked cruelty could be the only reason you might suggest that the writing style herein is similar to my own.

Our house is situated on a maybe too public corner, with essentially a glorified courtyard in the front.  There is a point: what’s visible on the house is viewable from the sidewalk.

Our friend Pete L made a fairly extensive run of ‘non-traditional’ political yard signs.  For security, we flipped our copy, bending that poke-in-the-ground wire part into hooks, and suspended it on the street-facing trellis attached to the porch.

It would take a committed sign stealer to trespass to snatch it.

Our ‘traditional’ Biden/Harris sign is suspended similarly, but in a more-readily, yet still not-easily snatchable spot.  An attempt was made last evening, but craftily-fortified, the sign prevailed.

Our friend Roger B sent us this photo.  This sign would last about three minutes in our neighborhood.  Come to think of it, I might just go snatch it myself for a keepsake…

“To cross one’s fingers is a hand gesture commonly used to wish for luck. Occasionally it is interpreted as an attempt to implore God for protection. … The use of the gesture is often considered by children as an excuse for telling a white lie.  By extension, a similar belief is that crossing one’s fingers invalidates a promise being made.”

In the matter of POTUS’s health, fingers crossed!

I would appreciate your indulgence in considering this ‘prologue’ to be one of those ‘Your video will play after this ad’ flags.

Unfortunately, there is no ‘Skip ad’ button here.

That vast numbers of people will vote for Donald Trump this November brought me long ago to the realization that the human race is irredeemably flawed and we need that asteroid to go ahead and wipe us out.

On a personal level, we have two friends of decades duration whom we once effortlessly considered charming/bright/witty, who have been purged from our lives upon discovery of their Trump support.  Some would argue against such a course of action, but those advocates belong in a monastery.

Better off limiting relationships, so we never learn ‘the rest’…

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

An Ode to Small Talk

by James Parker — The Atlantic — October 2020

The correct answer to the question “How are you?” is Not too bad.

Why? Because it’s all-purpose. Whatever the circumstances, whatever the conditions, Not too bad will get you through. In good times it projects a decent pessimism, an Eeyore-ish reluctance to get carried away. On an average day it bespeaks a muddling-through modesty. And when things are rough, really rough, it becomes a heroic understatement. Best of all, with three equally stressed syllables, it gently forestalls further inquiry, because it is—basically—meaningless.

Small talk is rhetoric too. Americans in particular are small-talk artists. They have to be. This is a wild country. The most tenuous filaments of consensus and cooperation attach one person to the next. So the Have a nice days, the Hot enough for yous, the How ’bout those Metses—they serve a vital purpose. Without these emollient little going-nowhere phrases and the momentary social contract that they represent, the streets would be a free-for-all, a rodeo of disaster.

But that’s the negative view. Some of my most radiant interactions with other human beings have been fleeting, glancing moments of small talk. It’s an extraordinary thing. A person stands before you, unknown, a complete stranger—and the merest everyday speech-morsel can tip you headfirst into the blazing void of his or her soul.

I was out walking the other day when a UPS truck rumbled massively to the curb in front of me. As the driver leaped from his cab to make a delivery, I heard music coming out of the truck’s speakers—a familiar, weightless strain of blues-rock noodle. There was a certain spacey twinkle in the upper registers, a certain flimsiness in the rhythm section … Yes. It had to be. The Grateful Dead, in one of their zillion live recordings. And I knew the song. It’s my favorite Dead song.

“ ‘China Cat Sunflower’?” I said to the UPS guy as he charged back to his truck. A huge grin: “You got it, babe!”

The exchange of energy, the perfect understanding, the freemasonry of Deadhead-ness that flashed instantaneously between us, and most of all the honorific babe—I was high as a kite for the next 10 minutes, projected skyward on a pure beam of small talk.

A boy appreciates a little validation now and then.

This Washington Post piece is the ‘long-form’ version of something I’ve observed before, that White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has all the shameless belligerence of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, but in a sort of showgirl/callgirl package, so why did it take so long for the Trump ‘administration’ to find her.

The crawling of my skin is seismic watching her perform her routine.

I’ve cobbled together a question I’d like someone (willing to part with his/her press pass) to ask her, to tax that subterfuge algorithm brain of hers.

‘Kayleigh, one of the Republican Party’s positions on this Corona/Covid-19 ‘thing’ is that the Medicare herd needed thinning anyway.  Does it frustrate the president that the Democrats can’t see the silver lining here?’

Why do I dream?  With unmatched sangfroid, she’d just… speak.

Not so long ago, weeks-wise, we went on a ramble to the midsection of the state, visiting a half-handful of communities specific to Stephen’s family.  The primary goal was to find a cemetery just outside the town of Gordon.

Though the topic of cemeteries has of late become ultra-grim (I had to finally put it to my brother that ‘disposition of the remains’ needed to be addressed), this excursion was for the pleasure of curiosity.

We did find our cemetery, demarcated fairly strictly: old and very old to the right of a small church, ‘recently’ departed on the left.  We were looking for and found the grave of Stephen’s Great-great-great Grandfather, Israel Fountain.  Lovely name.

Unbeknownst to us, a short distance to the left of the church, resting next to his mother, is none other than the infamous former Savannah resident Jim Williams, central in John Berendt’s ‘Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil’.

To me, cemeteries conjure up Act III of Thornton Wilder’s ‘Our Town’, where the souls sit in place and converse.  They seem to have access to their immediate vicinity only, so I’m guessing Jim Williams and Israel Fountain will never have the opportunity to gab.

One of the other nearby communities we visited on our jaunt through middle Georgia was Fort Valley, where my dearest friend Dee Matthews was born and grew up and is buried.  Nearby her grave, I found another, marker tipped over, which I righted after taking this picture.

I feature Mr. Muttart remarking, ‘What a nice gentleman!’

With one exception, magazine subscriptions have died off in our household.

While we have succumbed to ‘consuming’ other periodicals digitally, in the single case that simply will not do.  For one thing, the paper stock Metropolis is printed on is very supple, which makes leafing through it a pleasure.  And frankly, I think any little ‘fetish’ thought you may be ascribing is just beneath you…

Honestly?  The ‘ivory tower’ aspect of some of the content occasionally gives me the pip, but the design and layout are really impeccable.

Like a number of other magazines, a kind of after dinner mint appears on the very last page of each issue, in this case called ‘Noteworthy’.  The illustration caught my eye and the idea/info is interesting, yes?  Click to read.

As to the matter of ‘mate choice’ mentioned in this piece, my hubby’s ability to just snatch up a scrap of paper and sketch something fully realized was a ‘fitness indicator’ for me all those years ago.

Here is a note I copied before it left the house attached to cookies bound for a neighbor, and a quick doodle for something he was working on about ‘tooting your own horn’.  Click to enlarge.


Why am I telling you this?

I started blogging in 2009, but in October 2016, 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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