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A week ago at the office party I was seated next to The Boss-Woman. It is always a bit ticklish to interact with thems who pay your salary while you share with them a plate of hors d’oeuvres and drink cocktails.  She exclaimed for a long time she has been thinking of writing a blog. Instantly in my mind I held a five second-long ten minute process prior to letting out I write one.  This led to a process resulting in her asking me to send her the link to Spo-Reflections. I said I would. I haven’t done so. That was over a week ago; happily it seems to  have slipped her mind and hasn’t come up again.  It is not that I write anything scandalous or libelous [1] but our conversation reminded me blogging puts us on stage for everyone to see.  Happily The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections are quite draconian to what gets posted. After an entry is written each Board Member takes onto themselves the role of a certain person-type:

A Boss

   A patient (especially thems with borderline personality traits) 

          A  Someone

                An Attorney 

                     Brother #3 (Representative to the Spos)

                                Old Lurker [2]

If one of these five types gives a thumbs-down the entry is expunged or axed and consequently The Board etc. adjourns to got out and burn down some public building. Goodness knows how anything interesting gets by – let alone posted. [3]

These days humor (especially satire) is a hazardous endeavor what with everyone taking umbrage so readily. The other day in my medical conference a presenter told a warm-up joke about Trump which I thought could be interpreted either ‘pro’ or ‘con” Trump. One of the psychiatrists in the audience stood up to say political jokes are not appropriate in a medical conference and he (the speaker) will stop that (not ‘should’ stop but will stop).  I am rather surprised my attempts at wit here don’t elicit more hate mail and comments than they do.It makes me think perhaps I am ‘too safe” as it were. Perhaps in 2018 I should make the blog more bold and doggerel.

Then again The Boss-Woman may try to decide to find me after all just as I brave dropping my pants.  Oh the embarrassment. Perhaps I should post pet photos.  They always safe and bring in the readers.  Even the Fab Five would give thumbs up to that.

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[1] Much to the disappointment of several Spo-fans who want some filth.

[2] Bless him! He is my ‘consistency man”; he remembers all the blog’s details. He keeps me on my toes not to repeat or forget things. I sometimes fantasize sending a team of Old Lurker and Warrior Queen AM of Philadelphia into a Board Meeting . The latter haven’t  a prayer. 

[3] Thanks to their frequent hyggaes involving strong drink they often are asleep at the switch and let some things slip by. Later on, when sober, they realize the blunder and find it horrible. By then it is too late, especially if they see the entry was well-received. 

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I haven’t done a “Wicked Words” entry lately.  My time and libido (psychic energy) has been channeled into Duolingo for Spanish and German words rather.  A Spo-fan recently requested a fresh set of words. He needs some fancy words to use at the holiday parties as his party trick.

Here’s some lovelies:

Addle (v.) – make unable to think clearly; confuse.  I think there is an adjective of this: ‘addled’ as in my brains are addled.

Avolition  –  Having no desire to initiate something but when done you liked it.  This is different than depression; in depression one doesn’t like it even when when dragged to do it.

Brontide  – A sound like that of distant thunder.  Portends of doom or too many jalapeños perhaps.

Claufotis –  a fruit tart.  Thanks Paul B!

Concinnity – the skillful and harmonious arrangement of fitting together of the different parts of something.  I like it when a plan comes together.
Confreres – a fellow member of a something.  Example:  checking in to a resort in Palm Springs and mingling with your confreres at happy hour.

Farrago – a confused mixture.  Like the confreres at Inndulge at Palm Springs.

Grizzledemundy – a foolish sort who laughs at everything.  I meet a few these at Inndulge whenever I am there.  I suspect drugs.

Impecunious – having little or no money.   Can’t go to Palm Springs now.

Lynchnobite – someone who works at night and sleeps by day.

Skosh- a small amount of something.

Tetchy  – bad tempered and irritable

and to make a baker’s dozen:

Howff  – I am told it is an old word from Scotland that means a favorite place where you feel good,  such as your favorite pub.  Howffs should have lovely drinks and confreres and a few claufotis too.   In a howff everyone is well over four feet and none are too tetchy.

Unknown  Urs Truly is in the faraway kingdom of Las Vegas, attending a three-day long seminar, pow-wowing with his fellow wizards. The sponsors of the soiree are a group I am not usually one to attend. This conference has some minor differences to my usual one but overall it is the same set up and style.  The attendants are the same. Indeed- the types of birds who fly in for these shing-dings never seem to vary.

In every psychatric conference there are a groups of Asian women doctors. They travel in together; they are never alone. They are Indian, Phillipino, and Korean. Usually there are all three. They sit with each other and they never mingle.  They tend to talk in native tongues.  They also go through the lunch lines together and move too slow doing it.

Men in suits. These are  the presenters, the pharmaceutical representatives, or doctors over 60.  Psychiatrists over sixty years old still dress up to go to conferences. Indians doctor birds of the male type are always in suits, even at 6AM. Indian doctors dress as if they are going to an interview for some coveted position at Yale.

In contrast are the old hippies type of shrink birds. The males have their balding hairs back in ponytails or little buns and the females are in Birckenstocks with brightly coloured organic looking sun dresses.

There are a few youngsters (residents) but they are rare birds indeed. There are many theories why the young doctors don’t flock to seminars but the chief one is they find it silly to travel and sit in a lecture hall for days on end when you can get credit and information on-line.  How old-fashioned! How mono-tasking! How boring!

Lurkers.  There are always a few in the back who look like they might be patients who have crashed the party to hear about the topics.

I am sure Spo-fans want to know if there are any birdies light in the loafers.  I used to scan the audience playing the game we all know: “who’s gay/who’s not gay”.   Nowadays we have apps for that sort of thing. Yesterday while I should have been listing to the lecture I was texting “Profdad” on Scruff who was sitting (so he said) in the back row.  I asked to meet him at the coffee break – it’s always nice to know a queer colleague. He said sure and then he stood me up and I was ghosted.  I was highly annoyed but also comforted in the fact even psychiatrists are jerks on pick-up apps.

Spo-fans (the brazen ones) are asking about ‘The Blue Room”. Oh the embarrassment.  I wonder why on earth anybody would be interested reading about a room of rubbish but I don’t have any better idea at the moment so here it is.

Few homes in Phoenix have an upstairs and almost none have a basement. This makes it hard to store things Christmas decorations and precious heirlooms you keep out of guilt.  Most garages have room for two or three cars but drive by any open garage and you will see inside heaps of hoardings.  Our garage is no exception yet it is not capacious enough for storage.
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One of the rooms is called The Blue Room,  a precise if not too imaginable name for the walls are painted blue. It was originally Someone’s office. Over the years The Blue Room has slowly accumulated things I can’t get Someone to throw out. Earlier this year when we got the kingsize bed from The Lovely Neighbor Someone disassembled the old bed and put it all into the Blue Room. This is not the first time the Blue Room has accepted something because Someone is not willing to toss it or we never seem to get it hauled to the dump. By now The Blue Room resembles King Tut’s tomb but no prettier. Oh the pain. I keep the door closed as it is an eyesore as well as an embarrassment.

The Blue Room has drawn to it all the old books, which are piled up in corners and overflowing the closet shelves. As it is nearly impossible to enter the Blue Room (let alone find anything) I am tempted to buy another copy of a book than try to find the original.

Nagging Someone to call “We-haul-it-away” or somebody like them has been a feckless endeavor.  I’ve volunteered to haul away the books myself Grinch-like to the top of Mount Krumpet to dump-it but he wants to take inventory for a possible sale at a used book store. Ha. Fat chance of that. I’ve learned not to throw out his things even if they haven’t been used in ages. All I can do is nibble away at ‘my things’ and hope he follows by example.

I think I will have to do something drastic in the new year for I can’t stand the thought of another year of material atherosclerosis. Perhaps I can have it hauled way without his noticing anything. Maybe it’s finally time to fulfill my fantasy to set fire to a public building.  I may have myself a mammoth garage sale. The dog isn’t for sale but everything else is.

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Quick – does anyone in blog-land have an old  cassette player?

I dug mine out –  the old ‘boombox’ with the cassette tape door in front (CD player on top). Alas it is inutile. I rummaged through the junk drawer but no luck finding a Sony Walkman suitable for playing tapes.

Last year when I went home for Christmas I happened to come across Father’s cassette tapes collection. It contained dozens of tapes of Christmas tunes. For reasons never disclosed he started recording carols one Christmas morning in the late 70s. While we opened our prizes WJR or something played tasteful background Christmas music and Father got it all down on cassette. I don’t think he ever played them; he merely kept the ritual going until he ran out of room in the cassette container or when blank cassette tapes became no longer available. I ran my fingers over “XMAS MUSIC: 1978-1992” and wondered out loud what they sounded like. Before you could say ‘White elephant sale” Father insisted I bring them back with me to AZ. I did so and they have been sitting on my dresser ever since. I would be blithe to play them but I have no device to do so.  Oh the pain.

I have a vague memory the tunes are insipid “background” orchestra recordings of the ‘top ten’ types of carols – and they are the same ones year in and year out. Probably they are not very interesting or even well recorded. All the same, they are associated with family Christmases and I want to hear them.

Alas, alas, I foolishly put ‘A cassette player or something like it’ on my Christmas list. Now  I don’t dare go buy one lest I make my Secret Santa quite cross at my impudence. It’s a gamble:  if I don’t receive one then the time I want to play them will have gone past and I will have to wait another year to get back into the season.

There is a store in town I know that translates old VCR tapes and the like onto CDs or computer chips but this is quite expensive to do. I don’t think I want to shell out that much money for twenty years of the same recording of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing”.

I thought of giving everyone in my family a tape as a stocking stuffer. No one will be able play them and the niblings will be bewildered what the heck they are but I think my family will get the point.

I do hope to get that cassette player for I also have a box of ‘mix tapes’ (remember them?). Like looking at old photos from the 80s, I’m sure I would be cringe in embarrassment  (did I really listen to THAT?) but it sounds jolly good fun.

I want to thank Spo-fans for their lovely comments and offers in yesterday’s blog. Someone gets off work on Christmas about 5PM; we can open prizes and have a supper then. Next year we will probably go to MI to have a proper Spo-Christmas full up with snow and relations and talk talk talk.

Insanity

In response to yesterday’s post The Board of Directors Here at Spo-reflections announced they plan on dropping by on Christmas Day and have a cup of glogg. I may  bar the door on this one as the last time they dropped by for a drop they ransacked the house, carried off some of the better pieces of furniture, and drank all the cordials.  Slater-Wotan is a mean drunk too.

Insanity  Last night was Krampusnacht. Alas no demon showed up to carry me off. I was surprised and a bit disappointed. Could it be I was more virtuous this year than I imagine?  I looked this morning:  no congressmen or Alabama candidates went a-missing last night either. I suspect Mr. Krampus was asleep at the switch.

Someone reminded me this morning we go to Lost Vegas this weekend.* I have a conference to attend. I had forgotten about this. Post-shooting/Christmas season Lost Vegas sounds like the 7th level hell from Dante’s Inferno, but most of the time I will be sitting in a lecture hall. Someone can run around and see the sights and gamble etc.  Today he is investigating “Cirque” shows looking for one we haven’t seen yet. “Mysterious” (?) looks to have a lot of toothsome male acrobats; I vote for that one. After listening all day to lectures on depression and suicide I may need a bit of visual cheering up.

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The Boss-persons (the dears!) gave me a cash bonus at Christmas time. I always use this to buy a very good bottle of scotch. Normally I research this to the point of a precise purchase. This year I haven’t done so; I  just may wing it and go to Total Wine and see what’s on the shelf at eye level. Total Wine has lovely hirsute salesmen who are quite delighted to sell me the Scottish version of “Summer Rain”. At some preconscious level they pick up I am a sucker for ersatz whisky experts who look like lumberjacks.  Bless their hearts and no rubbish please.

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*My dictation device continually translates “Las Vegas” as “Lost Vegas”. I have given up trying to remedy the matter. I have grown to prefer “Lost” – it seems more apropos.

It looks like I am more or less on my own this Christmas season. Someone is up to his oxters with ushering “The Nightcracker”; he also works Christmas day poor fellow. He is tired; when he isn’t working he sleeps.  We may not have time to put up a decorations or a tree. If there is going to be any sort of hohohoing this month or on Christmas Day I need to start thinking what to do about it.

One solution is to just cancel the whole thing. I’ve had only one ‘canceled Christmas’ in my life. It was in my internship and I had to work. It was my first time away from home; I felt miserable. 25 years later I think I can do #2 better. So what to do with myself?   I am considering a “A Christmas Carol” marathon with all the available versions.  While Scrooge is being continually reformed I can do some baking.  I can make Christmas cookies of the ‘new and adventuresome’ type rather than the usuals which are associated with family and company.  Since there were be nobody around and nowhere to go, perhaps I can get out all the bourbons and a taste testing until I am satiated or passed out hohoho.

Cookies and booze may be apropos for the day but neither are salubrious to health.  I won’t be making a Christmas pudding anymore. it was a lot of work and in the end Someone only took a ‘no thank you’ helping and most of it went into the rubbish what a waste. Perhaps I will skip the ersatz food and good cheer to read and sew. When was the last time I did that sort of thing? They are hardly holiday happenings but they sound OK.

As I write this out the notion of Home Alone Christmas doesn’t sound so bad after all. I look forward to the “Scrooge” movies and making cookies.  I might also make some imperial tid-bits and have a very good snort to boot.  Harper and I will have a long walk and see the lights.  Sounds groovy.

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Across from my office desk over the chairs in which the the patients sit hangs a print of Benjamin West’s painting “The death of General Wolfe”. The poor fellow is in the perpetual state of dying while thems around him are forever lugubrious at his passing. It’s a very quiet scene despite the background suggesting  a photo taken during the (very) active Battle of Montreal.  I was told by Larry Muffin (who knows these things) the fellows on his right are a symbolic set of mourners consisting of a Canadian, a Yankee, and a Native American all in lamentation of Wolfe’s passing.  The Native American is obvious; the American is identified by his fancy leggings and green coat – apparently the height of fashion for Yankees at the time.

It’s a lovely painting but it’s all rubbish. This painting was commissioned long after W’s demise; goodness knows how it really happened.  To top it off , I’m told several of the people in the painting weren’t even at The battle of Montreal. They wanted ‘in’, sort of like early photo app editing.  Talk about your fake news!  I suppose I should have smelled a rat early on in art history class when I first learned of it, given the Native American fellow there, looking quite out of place in a battle.  I wonder if there were any Indians at The Battle of Montreal anyway?

While I feel hoodwinked to realize what I thought was ‘fact’ is nothing but a fake, the painting remains a favorite. It brings up the ongoing notion of art and truth, what is subjective vs. objective truth. People know – and like –  Richard III as portrayed by Shakespeare and not how he was in real life. * What little I know of Mr. Wolfe reveals he wasn’t that nice or that great, but he was in the right place at the right time. Getting shot may have been the best thing for him and his reputation.

Oh, well. As the Pope once said: “I may not know much about art, but I know what I like”.

 

*In life he was probably quite nasty but not THAT bad.

 

 

gobooksAs it is again the season for giving and receiving Christmas prizes, my mind turns to books.  Books have always been at the top of my wish list; they never fall from fashion. The email I just sent out to my family (with my secret santa) has several titles from which to choose.

I recently heard a podcast interviewer who likes to ask his guests “What books do you like to give as gifts?”.   This is subtle; this is good.  Asking people ‘what is your favorite book” makes people a bit uncomfortable as it is often hard to pinpoint down a favorite. It is sort of like asking ‘What is your favorite food?”  Well, most people have no one favorite and it often depends on the mood.  Most people don’t want to be pigeon-holed going on record as it were into ‘one book’ .  Bibilophiles all know the disappointment of giving someone their ‘favorite read’ only to hear the recipient didn’t find it interesting. It is easy to take it as a personal rejection.

What one gives to others as gifts gets one thinking about ‘why’ they give out certain books.  These may not be so much ‘thumping good reads’ but books to instruct and amaze as well as entertain.  So, I thought I would try this myself.  Spo-fans are encouraged to leave in the comments books they like to give to others. If you wish please tell me your favorite book.

Note – as I wrote this I realized I was writing down works of fiction.  I think I will divide this into two parts; the non-fiction gift books I will do another time. 

What I give out to introduce someone to a ‘new’ author:

“The Inn at the edge of the world’ – Alice Thomas Ellis.

I often give out this book to thems longing for a ‘thumping good read’. She is one of my favorite authors. She has an exquisite style that combines pithy dysfunctional people with the uncanny or mystical.  This book is a good introduction to a wider audience and it is a jolly good fun  – a ‘thumping good read’ indeed.

What I give out to someone interested in short stories:

“Dubliners” – James Joyce.

I can not think of a better collection.  “The Dead” remains one of the best short stories ever written (do not dare to question this).

What I give out to someone interested in scary stuff: 

“Roald Dahl’s book of ghost stories” is the best collection I know. For thems who prefer novels,  “The Haunting of Hill House” by Shirley Jackson still gives me the creeps even after multiple reads.

What I give out when someone wants to revisit their youth:

“The Phantom Tollbooth” – Norton Juster.

This is a children’s book. However, like most good books for children, it can be read at different times of life and one never stops finding new things and meaning in it.  I sometimes include “The Phantom Tollbooth” with “The Never-ending Story” by Michael Ende as a boxed set for they have similar qualities: engaging children in reading while nourishing the desire to read.

What I give out when someone needs a laugh:

“A confederacy of dunces” – John K. Toole.

It has never failed to make people laugh and lift their spirits. It is full of awful, awful people doing awful, awful things yet it all comes off as hilarious.

What I give out when someone insists I tell them my favorite book:

“Creation” – Gore Vidal

Oh face it, I give this one out as I love it so. An elderly man dictates his memoirs to his great-nephew during the time of Pericles in ancient Athens.  Cyrus has traveled the world; he has met the Buddha and Confucius.  I explain it has wit, history, religion/philosophy, and pithy comments about Western civilization (Athens as Washington DC)  This book has it all.

The Board of Directors Here at Spo-Reflections is pleased as punch from the ‘success’ of the last entry. What they count as ‘a success’ is the many comments generated by enthusiastic Spo-fans.  One of the Board members went so far as to suggest I turn Spo-Reflections into a ‘food blog’, but the others voted her down. [1]  They got into a stentorian fracas loud enough I could hear it over the cellphone, so I hung up.

I’ve been thinking a lot about sound lately, examining it like food viz. how much and what type I want or should have in my life.  The cheesy boisterous Christmas tunes continue to blast away in the office hall. The point (I am told) is to cover up the silence lest people hear what’s going on in the rooms. Fair enough, but no one seems to consider what sort of sound might be useful to ‘set the scene’ or even provide medicinal value.[2]

It seems I am surrounded by sound, most of it I don’t want, but there is a lot I can control. I tend to have ‘something on’ almost continually,  either podcasts, lectures, or background music. The other night while walking the dog I couldn’t get my cellphone to generate a tune, so we walked in the silence  – what a serene and peaceful walk that was!  It is no surprise to me one of the denominations for Hell is “The kingdom of noise”.

One of my favorite short stories [3] ends  something along the line of:

“But Mary had more to say, much more. She waved back at Louise, and turned off her hearing aid so she wouldn’t be bothered again”.

I think in 2018 I am going to have less noise and more silence.  The latter used to be ubiquitous. Now it is as rare as a starlit night.  Yes, this sounds good – pun intended. More silence and less Itunes in the new year.

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[1] TBDHSR are picky eaters; they despise fruits and vegetables and they shudder at the notion of protein drinks. I doubt they have ever eaten pasta.

[2] Usually the offices doors are open. This promotes passing-by hellos and colleague drop-ins to chat or consult on cases. With the Christmas crap going everyone has their door shut to keep out the racket; we are all in our isolate cells until 12/26.

[3] “In the garden of the north American martyrs”  by  Tobias Wolff.

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