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Number of posts: 17
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By Richard Eisel:
I admit it: I’m a carpetbagger. For the unenlightened, according to Merriam-Webster, a carpetbagger is “a person from the northern United States who went to the South after the American Civil War seeking private gain under the reconstruction governments.” Colloquially, a carpetbagger is any Yankee who moves to the South…and stays.
As far as the former definition goes, I am indeed “a person from the northern United States who went to the South after the American Civil War.” It was after the Civil War…104 years after…
satire right out of history
Several of the founding fathers of the United States today expressed shock and disappointment with the federal government after they were transported from the past to Washington, DC through what scientists are calling an unprecedented “time warp.”
“Alack, this is not what we intended, not in the least,” said Thomas Jefferson, after he, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams visited Congress and the White House. “How in the name of the Almighty did all this transpire?” Washington asked.
get out of my yard
In a couple of years, if I’m lucky, I will disembark from the good ship I’m in my Fifties and book passage on the SS Lord, I Can’t Believe I’m in my Sixties. I try really, really hard not to be a “why, in my day” curmudgeon. For example, I’m OK with current popular music. I don’t actually listen to it, of course…everyone knows that the best popular music of all time is “classic rock” from the late 1960’s to the early 1980’s. But every generation has its own soundtrack, and every generation thinks its own music is the best. So more power to the current crop of pop artists, and to the whippersnappers who listen to them.
This spring, my wife and I recently spent a lovely weekend in Dahlonega, Georgia. For the uninformed, Dahlonega is a small town just over an hour north of Atlanta in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Dahlonega is best known for the gold rush that started there in 1828, when rich veins of the stuff were discovered in the area. It was the second significant gold find in the young United States, and within three years, Dahlonega’s population soared to some 10,000, almost all of whom were seeking their fortunes in the rocks and caves and streams of the region.
or driving me crazy
I live in Macon, Georgia, a small city (population: around 100,000, 99,957 of whom don’t know how to drive) some sixty miles from the traffic hell of Atlanta. Don’t get me wrong: I love Atlanta. It’s the home of the Braves (insert The Star-Spangled Banner pun here), the Falcons, the Varsity, the High Museum of Art, Coca-by-God-Cola, and many other wonderful things. Its traffic, however, I can live without.
Hello and welcome back, class. Alas, our two-and-a-half year sabbatical has concluded, and it’s once again time to consider matters grammatical. What happened 2 ½ years ago? Well, in October, 2011, I taught my first grammar lesson here in the pages of Like The Dew; the responses were numerous, and a couple were onerous. (I’ll give you “that” instead of “which,” but I maintain that my use of “presently” instead of “currently” is acceptable. So there.)
I hate Paula Deen. I despise her. I loathe her. My thesaurus runneth dry with enough verbs to describe my acrimony, antipathy, and animosity toward the woman. I have hated Paula Deen since long before her recent imbroglio. For almost five years, in fact.
My elder daughter will soon be wed. Yes, of course I’m a proud father, and yes, of course I’m happy for her, and yes, of course I’m pleased with the man who will be her husband, and yes, blah blah blah.
But in case Western society hasn’t caught on, we’re in the twenty-first century. The antiquated notion that the family of the bride has to pay for essentially EVERYTHING associated with the nuptials ought to be just that—antiquated. Yeah, yeah, the groom’s family is paying for the rehearsal dinner. Big whoop. Let’s compare lists, shall we?
Being an erudite, sophisticated reader of “Like the Dew,” you probably already know what a “koan” is. Just in case, though: from Zen Buddhism, a “koan” (pronounced KOE-uhn) is a problem or riddle that lends itself to no logical solution; a so-called “unanswerable question.” Its purpose, among others, is to ask the brain to abandon reason, forego logic, and focus on the spiritual, the eternal.
The most famous example of a koan, at least in western culture, is probably: “If a tree falls in the woods and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a sound?”
Darn You, Recession :-)
First, an apology: if you’re one who enjoys compiling and sending and/or reading, those annual “family newsletters” which often accompany Christmas cards, more power to you, and I’m sorry if you’re offended by what follows. I don’t compile, send, and only cynically and sarcastically, read them.
Ah, the “family newsletter:” that annual missive that describes (enhances? embellishes? whitewashes?) the goings-on of the clan during the past 12 months. Is there any more ludicrous collection of b.s. (other than that which fills The Congressional Record) to be found in print?
Recently, the good folks at Apple sent me a letter. It said that my six-year-old iPod nano had a “slight” chance of catching fire because of the installation of potentially bad batteries in certain models. While the possibility of hot pants was remote, they said, better safe than sorry: send us your old iPod (at our expense!), and we’ll send you a brand-new, (probably) non-flammable model.
Well, slap me silly and sign me up! A new, FREE iPod! Like a kid sending cereal box tops to Battle Creek, Michigan (in return for a DELUXE plastic Army man set and secret decoder ring), I shipped off my old gizmo, and anticipated with great salivation the arrival of a new one.
Rascal had trained me well. He used to love to fetch an old flip-flop. I’d stand at the top of the deck and toss it into the backyard, and he’d scurry down the stairs, snatch it into his mouth, and bound back up, ready to do it again. And again. And again. I truly believe that dog would’ve fetched that flip-flop until he exploded.
And it was only that old flip-flop that he’d go get. I tried tennis balls, Frisbees, you name it.
Today, class, we turn our attention to a number of popular words and phrases. Now, these aren’t just ANY words and phrases: no, they are words and phrases which drive me CRAZY because they are so often misused. So, please pay attention, because you’ll be tested on this material, and your grade will go into your (pause for gasp) PERMANENT RECORD.
“Y’all:” ah, the granddaddy of all Southernisms. Most of you in the class today know that “y’all” is a contraction of “you” and “all,” and thus is ALWAYS plural. But there may be some students who hail from parts North who think “y’all,” or its evil half-twin, “you all” (pause for shudder) is singular (pause for derisive laughter). I wish I could say that this lesson is “once and for all,” but …
As I write this, the Atlanta Braves have a record of 41 wins and 33 losses, a .554 winning percentage, which would have them in first place in any other National League division. But the Braves play in the Eastern Division, where also reside the dreaded Philadelphia Phillies. Once again, an aggressive, obnoxious group from the Nawth oppresses the gentlemanly, courteous fellows from the righteous South. Shall we rise again? As it ever was, we’ll see: the season is long, and you gotta play ‘em one at a time.
There are a lot of things I wish I had invented. Name the product, idea, or concept, and someone has already come up with it, much to my frustration. Heck, I’m smart. It’s just that I’m smart…a day late.
For instance, one area that bothers me because I wasn’t the first is that of terms of venery. Sometimes called “nouns of assembly” or “collective nouns,” they are the interesting, unique names for groups of animals: a herd of cows, a school of fish, a swarm of bees.
Thursday, February 7, 2002 started out as any other typical business day. It didn’t end as such.
Around 4:30, I answered my Macon, GA office phone with my usual friendly-yet-businesslike greeting: “Richard Eisel, may I help you?” Trust me when I tell you this: your bowels will turn to water when you get this response: “Yes, this is FBI Special Agent Coleton Steele, calling from Anchorage-frigging-Alaska.” (Parenthetical aside: he didn’t really say “frigging;” that was just my new, clever descriptor. Also, is Coleton Steele a cool name for an FBI agent, or what? His name wasn’t really Coleton Steele, but it was an impressive-federal-agent name. Maybe they’re all required to come up with names like that, when they join up. Same deal with porn stars, I’m guessing.)
Those who know me know that I’m always on the lookout for the new, the unusual, the different. Any chance to experience something I’ve not before, I’m there.
I’m as adventurous as a Galapagos tortoise, as courageous as Barney Fife without a bullet.
Still, when a friend recently invited me to participate in a Native American sweat lodge, I was intrigued—and, as it turns out, ignorant—enough to say yes.
I DID know that a Native American sweat lodge was a place where men—in Indian tradition, it was ALWAYS men; sorry, no girls allowed—gathered in a small hut, sat naked around a fire, and literally sweated so much that they created their own mud. They became, in other words, part of Mother Earth (which was part of the whole, larger point). Another purpose of “the sweat” was to purge the body of “evil spirits,” stress, toxins, and such, thus emerging from the lodge renewed, reborn.
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