Dear Clusterflock: What was the most comforting condolence sentence you ever heard?

Stolen from Metafilter. I don’t have a MeFi account, so I can’t even favorite things over there, much less comment. So I figured I’d re-pose the question here.

The MeFi thread is great, but bring tissues. I loved this one most:

My uncle, Albert Crary, was an extraordinary man. Not only was he an explorer and scientist of both poles (The Crary Mountains in Antarctica were named by him and the A.P. Crary Science and Engineering Center at McMurdo Station was named fo him) but he gathered stories like no one I’ve ever met. At his public memorial in Washington DC at, I believe, the Cosmos Club, speaker after speaker got up and told about his staunchness, his incredible endurance, but most importantly, they all told a funny story about him: The time he fell off the ice shelf and what he said to the preacher after his rescue when the preacher came looking for a good sermon. The time he went shopping for supplies in South America when they were running a geophysical line across a South American swamp. The time my father put my brother up to calling him and acting like a dumb reporter asking the stupidest questions imaginable about the ice island T3.

Months later, we had a private memorial in his hometown of Canton, New York. One-by-one his nieces, nephews, in-laws and friends got up and told more stories. To all of us he’d been the source of fun, support and laughter when we were growing up – he never let any of us take ourselves too seriously, but he was always there when anyone needed help. When my turn came, I got up, told my story and then said this:

Everyone deserves an Uncle Albert, we were just fortunate enough to have had one.
posted by BillW at 5:23 PM on March 30

(Via the wonderful Ed Yong.)

Internet hatred burns eternally

Clusterflock.com? More like Cluster-steal ideas from other blogs just because noboody reads them so it’s easy to get away with.com

What’s the word for when people steal ideas from other people and then fail to properly cite the person who had the original – and usually much funnier – idea in the first place? You know that thing that college kids are always being kicked out of school for?

Oh, that’s right. It’s murder. Clusterflock is guilty of murder.

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P.S.A.

While I’m logged in here, I’d like to blatantly promote a project I worked on recently that I think is cool:

Heroes Get Hired book cover

Heroes Get Hired by Michelle Tillis Lederman

It’s a job-interview guide for military veterans and their partners, and though I didn’t read every word while I was working on it (I designed and coded the e-books and designed and typeset the print edition (not the covers)), I got the impression that it’s practical and well thought-out.

And it’s free to download in lots of formats (there are versions with video and versions without), or to view on the Web. Free, FREE, FREE!

So if you are a veteran (thank you!), please have a look; if you know some, pass it along.

And if you see any typos or formatting errors, drop me a note. I can fix those!

(Rubber Chicken) (Hen) (Tote Bag) (Handbag) (Purse) (Pocketbook) (Henbag)

rubber chicken

I need this. For all of the times I say, “Where’s my rubber chicken?” My fashion prop of the year. Or the decade. Or the rest of my life.

Thanks to friend Jen.

Activity

It is 9.56 am and I have been awake for 56 minutes now. Willing participant in a life shift that has me seasonally working second-shift at the large gubment agency here in town. I won’t mention its name, but its initials are…wait, I won’t mention them either. Let’s just say I won’t be checking in on personal email or clusterflock from a computer on its premisis. I won’t be checking from my phone either since it gets NO SIGNAL inside the enormous campus. Let’s just say my opinion of it is so far so good.

Just wanted to say how good it is to see activity here. Sheila, MGS, Derek stalwarts all. Congrats Brandon! (You know the leg-bone or thigh-bone I carry in my bag for tornadoes and dreams of tornadoes.) Once I get really settled into my schedule, I hope to sit down and spend some time with y’all.

Carry on.

Faint Praise

Your hair is as healthy and shiny as any I’ve ever seen, although it’s true that scruffy, dull locks suit many people, too, and total baldness implies toughness or sophistication.
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Joseph Spence || “We Shall Be Happy”

Brian Beatty brought this to mind tonight, for which thank ‘im.

A friend of mine once envisioned a parched old leathery cartoon (animated) sea turtle hunkered over a guitar, singing and playing in the manner of Joseph Spence.

El Tololoche de Juan García

On my final whirlwind sweep through the house in southern Illinois, the house I finally sold, I succeeded in retrieving this ex-voto/retablo.

Here is what is happening in the picture:

In the San Pedro train station, some thieves stole Juan García’s luggage while he was helping a lady with a child disembark. By the grace of the Blessed Virgin of San Juan, the thieves dropped Sr. García’s tololoche (a kind of stand-up bass) and he was able to retrieve it. It is his means of livelihood. He is a professional musician.

Greetings from Rockton

c’flock in the foreground, disney in the mid-ground, qwirkle in the farground.

Dear Clusterflock,

I’m still thankful for all you guys.

Last night I dreamed

Kansas City. Or more rightly Leawood, Kansas. 119th St. A street fair of sorts. Jazz and barbecue. White tents. A billion people swarmed it seemed. Overwhelming. Overwhelmed. I was in the deepest basement of a store storing display props. A mannequin on a stand. A woman horizontal. Shaped like a dolphin. The leg came off. I had to wrestle to carry it with the rest. Awkward, wobbley, moving through dim-lit aisles. Found a good spot, threw the extension cord over. The added weight started it leaning forward. It wasn’t going to stand. Fukkit I thought. Picked up my phone. Went upstairs. Outside. Street was crazy. Growing bright. Noisy in the dusk. My phone rang. It wasn’t my ring. It wasn’t my phone. Had a coiled expansion cord with three loose wires. I tried to call its number to find the owner, realized I had the owner’s phone. I think I remembered where I left my phone. It was on a shelf in the society department of the store where I worked. I went into a store-front. There were refreshments. Gordon Lish followed me in. White hair wisping like his white hair does. I said Gordon! What are you doing here? Getting my boat fixed was his reply. He head-gestured toward the drive out front where sat a long, long cigarette boat. Black. Shiny. I said what’s that on the back? Jet engine he said. He was gone. Sheila walked up wearing layers of clothes. She said the outer layer was her on-the-lam-bswool vest. She asked if I wanted to go out for a smoke. I said oh, hon, I stopped smoking….Back in March she finished. I nodded. She looked disappointed. I said you want to sit a minute? We sat. I couldn’t stay seated. I needed my phone. I said you want to walk with me? She nodded. We started up the street.

An elimae appreciation

Wigleaf editor Scott Garson posted a Facebook appreciation of elimae.

Some of you have heard that the current issue of elimae is the final one. I feel like we should be making more of this! elimae was a pioneer web journal — started up by Deron Bauman way back in ’96 (when most people still didn’t have email accounts, when you had to wait long seconds for each web page to load). Under Bauman and subsequent editors (and super-fine writers) Cooper Renner, Kim Chinquee, and Brandon Hobson, elimae specialized in a kind of fiction that was more or less disappearing in New York. Gordon Lish’s final year at Knopf was ’95, and New York was starting to narrow down to the two types of literary fiction it could hope to do profitably: moral entertainment and authorial spectacle. elimae did neither. Under Renner’s stewardship, the journal solidified its reputation for a distinctive sort of fiction — tight, minimal, sentence-aware, often very short (under three hundred words). As a reader, I didn’t always love everything I found in elimae, but I was always excited to read through the monthly issues. I always felt like an elimae story might find a way into me, changing my brain or the way I saw fiction or life on earth.

Things Behind the Sun

He began singing “Thoughts of Mary Jane,” and you could hear the sound of the buttons on his jacket hitting the guitar, the sound of the chair creaking, and midway through, just as it seemed like he was getting warmed up and settling into the performance, he changed directions, changed songs. No one could tell if he’d forgotten the chords or lost the words or simply grown bored and decided to move on. He settled into a rolling guitar figure, beautiful and stuttered and strangely uplifting, and he began singing the opening lines to a new song, new to me at least:

Do you curse where you come from?
Do you swear in the night?

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Where I’m Calling From

Here for a long weekend. Celebration of Life for a friend’s mom who passed a few weeks ago. Tonight an early celebration of same friend’s 50th birthday coming in a week or so. We’re north. Some ten to fifteen degrees cooler than at home. ‘Course, when it hits 90 degrees, does it really matter? We’re staying in the pyramid-topped skyscraper just right of center, dwarfed by the buildings around it. Once the tallest building in the midwest. Now the W hotel.

April Holy Foolish Palm Sunday Interview with Patti Smith

An hour-long interview with Patti Smith, endearing and, dare I say, inspirational.

I liked her music less and less after the first brilliant album; that much said, I worshipped her when I was in my early twenties and went to see her perform every chance I had. She was brilliant live. (And I have one of her guitar picks from the Radio Ethiopia tour.)

At bottom I have always admired her terrifically. She is tremendously endearing in this interview — both genuinely, unaffectedly girlish at 65 and mature and wise.

Watch or listen to this interview even if you do so in bits and pieces or while tending to other things.

It’s the little things

This made my day.

Update: kottke.org is back!

Final Post

Site Politics. It’s odd to think of how close a group of people can become by way of a site–when so many kinds of distance offer cover, or a new path. One thing that struck home to me this year is the fact that among a small group of friends, several can have the worst year of their lives all at the same time. A person may think he or she is the only one around having it so bad, and then find that others are hurting as well. For me, the telling thing is: what does this knowledge that a friend is suffering do to one who is also suffering? In some, the thought that rises is–nobody could have it as bad as I do, and I don’t have time to take care of anybody but me.

One of the many things that makes Cindy the most remarkable person I have ever known is this: even if she is near death (no hyperbole here; last year brought serious illness and crushing psychological strain), even when she must struggle to meet each new day, she will go to a person in need and do her best to bring comfort and help. What I can’t abide when this happens is the injustice of her being thanked profusely–and then being cast aside, reviled suddenly without explanation. It’s as if such a friend, knowing Cindy’s own pain, knowing of her own fragile grip on life, were to say–I’m hurt, so you can go die now.

Please indulge my relentless aphorizing one last time: Blame is a room that only gets smaller, and the only way out is a desire to treat others well.

I have been so lucky to meet many lovely, bright, and loving people among all of you flockers. I won’t forget the faces that all seem so near me now. And I wish you all good things.

R.I.P. Don Cornelius (1936-2012)

Don Cornelius checked himself out, it would appear.

See him here — doin’ it to death — with Mary Wilson in the Soul Train line dance.

Repost of a Post Past

Going down the rabbit-hole of Cece’s post. Great rememberies here, following “flockers.”

Carole Corlew.

The Mother Courage of Rock

She was skinny, quick-witted, disarmingly unprofessional, alternating between stand-up patter, bardic intonations, and the hypnotic emotional sway of a chanteuse, and she was sexy in an androgynous way I hadn’t encountered before. The elements cohered convincingly; she seemed both entirely new and somehow long-anticipated. For me at nineteen, the show was an epiphany.

Luc Sante on Patti Smith.

Springtime 1976, I was living in the cinderblock building on the glorified median strip there where they split Highway 13, and one day I went over to this one girl’s apartment, she lived right by the guy who dealt me speed, and she said, “Hey, you know who you remind me of? You remind me of Patti Smith!”

Gave her a possum grin I’m still grinning.

Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

Related to stuff we’re talking about.

headline of the day, II

Bill Gates Has Given Away $28 Billion Since 2007, Saving 6 Million Lives

Fairies of Christmas Passed…Deconstructed

The Blue Fairies laid on the table from the tree en masse. These were created by a former greensman employee three or four years ago. I remember, as he made them, into a box-top in the backroom of the greensman offices, I entered the room he was working in. He said, as he shook the boxtop, “Look, they live! ” He giggled and grinned a grin somewhere between the grinch and the baby jesus. That vision will forever live in my heart.

The weekend

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Dear Santa


Thank you for the sweet hot air balloon ornament. Colors are perfect! And for the Chicago Christkindlmarket drinking boot, I’ll try it out a little later. This was the best Christmas ever!

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