The Slow (or No) Road to Fame

The All-Too-Easy Road to Mediocrity

The All-Too-Easy Road to Stultifying Mediocrity

My congratulations to Brian Gordon of FowlLanguageComics.Com for a very funny cartoon.

I have gotten thousands of Spam e-mails offering cheap (pseudo-)pharmaceutical products and Louis Vuitton and other fashion knockoffs. Interspersed among them were comments that my website needed improvement. I was supposed to have a lot more pictures and a lot fewer words. And I was supposed to load much faster on Safari—whatever that is—than I currently do. Also I get a lot of questions from people asking for help setting up their own websites. (Good luck, guys!)

This website as it is is a reflection of who and what I am, not an attempt to get thousands of “likes” and “favorites” from people who not only do not mean anything to me, and with whom I do not necessarily care to interact.

Let’s face it: I’m a dinosaur. I don’t watch television, follow sports teams, listen to pop music, or give a flying f*ck about celebrities. Life is so pitifully short that I do not care to waste any of it going into the clickbait business. I have seen great websites fall into the click trap. When I feel I don’t have anything else to say, you can bury me. Until then, I will follow my different drummer to wherever he leads me.

 

In the Rant Room

Ranting Is Almost Inherent in the Act of Blogging

Ranting Is Almost Inherent in the Act of Blogging

Although I didn’t know it at the time, “Rant Room” is an anagram for “Tarnmoor.” But then, so are “Man Rotor,” “Roman Rot,” “A Mr No Ort,” and “Rat Moron”; so perhaps it’s not worth reading too much into this. Looking back at some of my older postings, particularly during election years (of which this is one), I see that I have frequently indulged in knee-jerk reactions of outrage.

Outrage is so much a part of our national political scene. There is a whole spectrum of the media that feeds on outrage and slings it back magnified and undeodorized. One result is that millions of Americans have lost the ability to communicate with one another, except through the use of buzzwords and loaded talking points. Just look at this partial list of hot buttons (in no particular ordure) that have been used to poison the national debate:

Abortion. Benghazi. Socialism. Prayer. Voter ID. Unwed Mothers. Sharia. Bible. Gay Marriage. Rape. Makers. Takers. One Percent. Tea Party. Cliven Bundy. Racism. Climate Change. Evolution. Ownership. Fox News. Obama. Obamacare. Solar Power. Creationism. Nanny State. Guns. Marijuana. Welfare. Immigration. Terrorists. Hillary. Taxes. Death Panels. Fluoridation. LGBT. Sovereign Citizen.

This is a highly partial list, but it is enough to fuel years of debate and cripple the nation.

I may find myself writing about some of the above, but not, I hope, out of outrage. Please, Lord, let me shed light rather than darkness in the places where I walk.

 

Killing Batteries

Leif Pettersen

Leif Pettersen

There are some bloggers I have been following for several years. One of them is Leif Pettersen, whose Killing Batteries blog is the best blog I’ve read by a professional travel writer. He has written extensively for Lonely Planet (I believe his is their top writer on Romania and Moldova) as well as other places. According to his personal website:

Leif Pettersen is a freelance writer, humorist, world traveler, polyglot, “slightly caustic” blogger and wino from Minneapolis, Minn. He has traveled through 51 countries and lived in Spain, Romania and Italy.

Pettersen has been a juggler since he was 12 years old, loves chocolate, hates pickles, types with exactly four fingers, and can escape from a straitjacket. He has not vomited since 1993, making him a consummate travel journalist and excellent party guest.

Take a look at his travelogue and tell me if you know anyone who is as well traveled as he is.

As for his Killing Batteries blog site, it’s best to skip some of the “syndicated” material up top and look at the references under “All Time Popular Posts.” From these, you can find links to some of the postings that turned me into an avid follower of his work.

 

 

In Praise of Past Times

Roman Forum

Roman Forum

For several months now, I have been lifting quotes from a website called Laudator Temporis Acti, a blog site where I go to get inspired. And it never fails to do so. The Latin means, roughly, “One who praises past times.” About half of my long quotations are lifted bodily from the site, with the only acknowledgment being a tag at the end that reads laudator-temporis-acti.

Run by a scholar in Conyers, Georgia, by the name of Michael Gilleland, the website pays homage to the thinking of times past, from ancient Greece and Rome through the nineteenth century. Each quotation is well documented. When translation is necessary, an honest attempt is made to get to the gist accurately and, sometimes, elegantly.

Some people—my own brother included—think that I live in the past. If that were so, why would I be blogging here? Why would I own a cellphone? Why would I drive to work in an automobile? No, I like to investigate the past because nothing serves to help me understand the present than to see what is both constant and meritorious in the human condition. That’s why I am concurrently reading Marcus Tullius Cicero and William H. Prescott (History of the Conquest of Peru). Oh, I could be reading something contemporary about philosophy, but I probably wouldn’t understand it as easily as I could understand the Roman. And I can (and will) be reading contemporary books about Peru, but it was Prescott who originally got the ball rolling. Everything since published about the Inca owes a debt to the Harvard-educated historian of the 1800s. And no one has written on the subject more eloquently.

I don’t frequently recommend websites, and none do I recommend so whole-heartedly as Laudator Temporis Acti. I visit it several times a week and urge you to do so as well. Among other things, you will discover what William Faulkner did, that “the past is never dead. It’s not even past” (from his Requiem for a Nun).

A Writer of Feuilletons and Causeries

Apparently, Writer’s Block Is Not Much of a Problem for Me

Apparently, Writer’s Block Is Not Much of a Problem for Me

When I was in high school, I thought I’d like to write the Great American Novel. I made several attempts at telling stories, but I found I just didn’t have the knack of inventing a character other than myself. In fact, I thought later of writing a series of short stories using a private investigator named Emeric Toth, patterned after me, of course; but the stories just did not take wing.

I have come to realize that I am what the French would call a writer of feuilletons, or to be even more exact, causeries. According to Wikipedia, the latter term refers to a piece that is:

generally short, light and humorous and is often published as a newspaper column (although it is not defined by its format). Often the causerie is a current-opinion piece, but it contains more verbal acrobatics and humor than a regular opinion or column. In English, causerie is commonly known as “personal story”, “funny story” or “column” instead.

The term feuilleton refers to a kind of op-ed newspaper piece, but can mean a whole lot of other things besides, such as (in today’s France) a soap opera.

Essentially, I write short essays on a multiplicity of topics that run the gamut from politics (though not so much any more, since politics in America got so dirty), religion, literature, film, travel, meditations, humor, science and the Internet, weekend excursions, to you name it. I’ll take on virtually any subject, though I am averse to Internet flame wars and quickly dump water on their beginnings. While I like to say what I feel, I am averse to back-and-forth debates. This is not so much because of any uncertainty in my convictions as an unwillingness to participate in the Grand Ego Theatre of the Internet.

As a literary medium, feuilletons and causeries are definitely writing in a minor key. My words will never be carved into stone or memorized by legions of school children. They are not detailed enough to change anyone’s mind about anything. They serve to entertain and inform, and perhaps point the way to other sources that do a better job in that area.

A few days ago, I re-read Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens. I could have chosen instead to re-read one of the Bard’s better-known works, but I have a certain affection for his minor plays. Maybe that’s why I write the way I do.

 

Giving the Mafia Free Access to Your Credit

Don’t Gamble With Your Credit!

Don’t Gamble With Your Credit!

Since I have begun this blog on WordPress, I have picked up some 1,100 Spam comments. At first, they were mostly from Lista de Email or Lista de Emails from Brazil. Now an altogether more unruly crowd has moved in: “Free” Casinos.

These are mostly people who want to have free access to your credit cards and transfer your credit to their own offshore bank accounts. That’s why I check several times a day for Spam and assiduously delete it permanently, less you think I am in cahoots with these goniffs, which I am not.

I do not accept a comment unless it:

  • Responds in some way to the web posting to which it is attached (generic praise just doesn’t cut it) and
  • It does not have a number of links sending you all over the Internet.

So if someone finds a way of escaping my vigilance, know that I do not endorse any commenter’s website unless it pertains to the discussion in my blog postings.