Sunday, September 29, 2019

Facts matter, even in, shocker, nonfiction

This is why I write fiction. It's like a jazz jam session. Just write and ramble and tell a story and let it rock n roll. Nobody comes back and says: "Bags Morton didn't really get his ear shot off in a McDonald's drive-thru!"

Yes, he did. In my (does best SpongeBob impersonation) imagggginaaaaation.

An example of nonfiction "truth":
In his new book, “Talking to Strangers,” Malcolm Gladwell writes that poets have “far and away the highest suicide rates,” as much as five times the rate for the general population. The statistic struck Andrew Ferguson, a writer for The Atlantic, as odd, so he tracked down its source: a paper that cited a 1993 book by Kay Redfield Jamison, a psychologist who based the finding on suicides among 36 “major British and Irish poets born between 1705 and 1805.” Somehow, a narrow analysis of a few dozen 18th- and 19th-century poets was mistakenly applied to all poets, then amplified in a best-selling book.

Saturday, September 28, 2019

What stage of inebriation are you tonight?

So I was reading this article about the death of Alexander the Great and got a chuckle out of this:

The Macedonians and their monarchs had a proud tradition of heavy alcohol consumption. It was not at all uncommon for a session to end with drinkers passing out. In a play performed in Athens earlier in the 4th century, Dionysus, the god of wine, sets out the stages of inebriation:
For sensible men I prepare only three craters: one for health (which they drink first), the second for love and pleasure, and the third for sleep. After the third mixing bowl is drained, sensible men go home. The fourth crater is nothing to do with me—it belongs to bad behavior; the fifth is for shouting; the sixth is for rudeness and insults; the seventh is for fights; the eighth is for breaking the furniture; the ninth is for depression; the tenth is for madness and unconsciousness.

Friday, September 27, 2019

Georgia on my mind

I recently made my first visit to Savannah, GA, and was awfully impressed. I'd definitely go back and bring the wife next time.

I was there for a long weekend withmy son who is working for a few months a couple hours away. We were going to meet in Atlanta but he said airline tickets were cheaper to Savannah and he knew I wanted to visit there. Besides, it's only 30 minutes to the ocean.

The main reason it was on my bucket list was because Midnight in the Garden of Good Evil is one of my all-time favorite books. Considering it spent four years on the NY Times best-seller list, I"m probably not the only who thinks so.

So we did the St. Bonaventure Cemetery thing (read the book) on a foggy, rainy morning, which was cool. Of course the big attraction in Savannah, as far as the book is concerned, is the Bird Girl statue. There's a picture of it on the cover of the book. It was in the cemetery, but it attracted so many visitors that they moved it to a museum. It's also a good way to monetize it. That, in fact, is why I ended up not seeing it.

For starters, I'm not a big museum guy. Paintings, yes. Artifacts, maps, old tools, clay pots, fossils, whatever, not so much. So as we approached the museum, I had it in my head that if it wasn't free I'd spend five bucks to see the statue. The optimist in me hoped it might be one of those voluntary-donation places. But, alas, twas not. It was 20 bucks a head. And I had my kid's head with me. All I really wanted was a picture next to the statue. While I'm no cheap-skate, 40 bucks seemed a bit much so we turned around and checked out the Rembrandt and Michelangelo statues outside the museum for free.

They also have these park-like town squares all over (22 of them). Really nice sculptures and fountains with huge trees and lots of flowers. Every couple blocks there's one. In between are shops and restaurants and bars.

They also have those along the river walk, a cobble-stoned historic area I'm guessing 10-12 blocks long. It's along the Savannah River, a big shipping lane to the Atlantic. There are street performers, bands, and I even rode a mechanical bull. Fun area. Lots of tourists.

One thing I noticed and pointed out to Junior was: "Either they have a lot of pretty women in Savannah or a lot of pretty women visit Savannah."

A while later after noticing a man walking a Mastiff dog, another a Great Dane, and a couple other giant bulldogs outside a shop, he laughed when I said: "Either they have a lot of big dogs in Savannah or a lot of big dogs visit Savannah." He's an easy audience.

I was really impressed with the food options. Every place we ate at there seemed to be another five dishes I wanted to try.

The people were great. There's history everywhere (even though that's not so much my thang).

Most people I visited with didn't know where South Dakota was. When I told them I lived twenty miles from Mount Rushmore, they seemed to get it more. One guy even asked me if there was anything to see out here besides Mount Rushmore. I told him some stuff and he made notes and is coming next summer. Another asked if we had any wildlife. I said, just my wife.

All in all, Junior and I had a great time. One of the favorite places I've visited. (And I'm having trouble downloading the photos off my phone, so you're just going to have to go see the place in person. Trust me.)

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Why Baseball Still Matters: My September 11 Story (not mine, his)

Here's an excerpt from a column written by a guy known as "Baseball Crank" after the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center. His office was there. I'm doing a terrible job of paraphrasing it, so just read the danged thing.

It starts with: "On Tuesday they tried to kill me"

Then he reflects on the importance of the cops and firemen and seeming pettiness of things like baseball in comparison:

There's a scene that comes to mind, and I'm placing it in the Lord of the Rings because that's where I remember it, but feel free to let me know if I've mangled it or made it up. Frodo the hobbit has lived all his life in the Shire, where the world of hobbits (short, human-like creatures) revolves around hospitality and particular etiquette and family snobbery and all the silliest little things, silly at least in comparison to the great and dangerous adventure he finds himself embarked on. Aragorn, one of the Men, has been patrolling the area around the Shire for years, warding off invading creatures of all varieties of evil. Frodo asks Aragorn, eventually, whether he isn't frustrated with and contemptuous of hobbits and the small, simple concerns that dominate their existence, when such dangers are all at hand. Aragorn responds that, to the contrary, it is the simpleness and even the pettiness of the hobbits that makes the task worthwhile, because it's proof that he has done his job - kept them so safe and insulated from the horrors all around them that they see no irony, no embarrassment in concerning themselves with such trivial things in such a hazardous world. It has often struck me that you could ask no better description of the role of law enforcement and the military, keeping us so safe that we may while our days on the ups and downs of made-up games.