Dog Ear
Faceless Finale (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 20 April 2017 00:00

o really, what was being anti-social in regards to social media (as a Lent objective) like?

Freeing in some ways. Restrictive in others.

First off – I’m a writer. Technically I create my own social media. I maintain a set of blogs and create content for them. I post broadly about the craft of writing and specifically about the craft of reading (i.e. book reviews). So I do have my creative outlet there.

Without Facebook and an incessant need to click into it to see who liked me and who I needed to defend my views against (you trolls, you), my life certainly became more tranquil. Yes, I know that we only expect tranquility if you book a dream Caribbean vacation that involves a shared hammock, a tall drink, a wide sun hat (and presumably a staff of waiters/slaves to meet every need). But this freed up a lot of the noise one gets in Facebook. I didn’t have to judge people’s opinions or be outraged by crazy stunts. I didn’t need to reflect on wise sayings (usually with pictures of teepees or wolves silhouetted against the moon accompanying them). My life is my life again. My opinions are mine. And I could enjoy them without having to put them out on a stage most public for comment or rebuttal.

However, there were noteworthy things that I did wish to take for Facebook but couldn’t, not until Easter anyway. There was the fifty mile bike ride I did (a fun effort, my first effort at long-distance cycling). And then the Orlando-Daytona trip my brother and I rode. There was my friend’s birthday party, the bike I rented while there, and the wonderful trip along the D&L canal I took. And the pizza I spilled while enjoying my own tranquil moment. There was the completion of Timeless, and the season opener of Better Call Saul. There was even that wonderfully complex new episode of Rick and Morty. There is just a lot of stuff that happened and, frankly, my blog site is not popular enough to stand on its own – I need the link to Facebook to bring the traffic in. Recognizing this, it’s why I put the caveat in place that I could update on Facebook with direct links to my site, but not click around and not read postings. And it worked. But it’s easier to go into Facebook and post a quick account of something than it is to come up with a blog posting about it.

So there you have it. I learned both the power of Facebook and the danger. Now I’m checking only once a day (if that). I’m avoiding danger of juicing on it, of that Pavlovian response of click-click-click to take in every reposting and every share request. Overall, my life is much better now that I’ve got this limit in place (just as not drinking sodas (a goal of past Lent) has helped). I can’t recommend it enough.

So share this. You won’t believe what happened next.




Last Updated on Thursday, 20 April 2017 07:18
The perfect evening for reading (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 13 April 2017 00:00

was pleasantly weary and hungry following my 40 miles or so of riding the D&L canal on a rented bike in a recent visit to my buddy in Easton PA. I'd dropped the bike off, strolled home to the hotel, took a shower, took a nap, and now set out for dinner, We are Pirates, my current written companion, under my arm. With the Sunday evening slowly settling over this small Pennsylvanian town I found an outdoor cafe - crowded inside, which I couldn’t understand - the evening was so perfect. Settled down on the last outside table on the end, a nice private spot. Ordered a glass of wine from the waitress, to be followed by a 12" pizza (chicken and barbeque sauce). I'd ridden far. I could eat what I wanted. And I'd walked over. I could drink as much as I wanted. It would be perfect.

So I just enjoyed my wine as an occasional car probed by, looking for a parking spot. The story was rounding out, finishing up. I wasn't sure where it was going - I'll talk further about this in this week's review. But yeah, so the book was twisty, the wine interestingly tart, the weather perfect, my body tired, my belly yawning.

The waitress made an appearance, placing the pizza rack on the table, the historic message that your pizza is on final. Ordered another glass.

Of course, I really didn't think about the table set up. See, it was a metal mesh table. A umbrella went through the center and some clever dick in design had figured that would be a heck of a place for a condiments shelf. So there is this disk, bigger than a hub cap, positioned right at pizza-tray height.

I had another sip of wine, turned another page.

The pizza came out, all loaded with chicken chunks, all orange with sauce. And mine, all mine. Of course, it was a tight fit to get the tray in against the condiments rack - the waitress had to put it on the corner to my left, a bit of a reach, and slide it just right so it would fit. No matter. I took a piece from the tray. I took a bite. Mmmmm. Pizza. I was just lifting my glass to toast this perfect evening when something moved.

Slowly, like the Titanic going bow-first, I noticed that the table-edge leg of the tray was haphazardly placed. As I watched, it went over the edge. And my pizza, my glorious piping-hot pizza, as slowly as all disasters, tipped and went over the side. The tray bwanged on the pavement, the pizza spattered sauce and chicken all over the mesh seats and sidewalk.

Oh good God.

The table of yuppies a short distance off grew quiet as they observed my disaster.

So what to do?

I went inside and explained what happened. No problem (the waitress said with irritation), they'd make another. Then I came out, tossed every piece of pizza (yes, the seven I hadn't gotten to) onto the recovered tray. The chairs I tapped out on gutter-side, to get the goo off. I tried to get back to my book but it was covered with saucy cheese. My hands were sticky. And the waitress, that sweet, piqued thing, didn't come out to check. No napkins. No quick sweep up. She didn't even come to take the tray of pizza-wreckage away.

So I sat there, sipping wine. Passersby would glance at the orange scatter-shot pavement, the mound of pizza-flops on the plate, and arch an eyebrow. The yuppies buzzed like crickets in the field, having something new to talk about.

I sipped my wine.

Eventually my new pizza came, the waitress removing the tray support but leaving the plate of massacred pizza behind. I really wished she hadn't done that - it seemed like petty vengeance for a mistake that she, in some minor way, had a hand in.

I ate my pizza carefully, sipping wine.

The book was quite good.


p.s. Yes, I tipped her for the trouble. $40 for a $28 bill.

Last Updated on Thursday, 13 April 2017 05:46
Imagry (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Wednesday, 05 April 2017 22:18

'll admit that it was an odd place to have this conversation, but that's part of the story so I'll include it.

My co-rider and I were buzzing along the lip of an asphalt road, cars clipping by dangerously close, the rain hissing down. I was getting it from both sides - my tire was spraying grit up my butt, and the co-rider's bike (in lead slot) was rooster-tailing water into my face. So I was already pretty speckled.

The conversation, shouted over the passing cars and the patter of rain on helmets, was about anime.

Japanese animation.

I watch a lot of it. My co-rider can't stand it.

I was going on and on (while keeping an eye to see just where traffic had gotten to) about some of the amazing stories I've seen on anime.Tales of down-on-their-luck bounty hunters in space. Tales of a demon who gives a vain high school student a means to secretly kill. A posturing scientist actually discoveres a time machine. A young kid joins a high-school bicycle club and struggles to find his place in the world.

He was hung up (he told me over his wet shoulder) with the blue hair and crazy round eyes.

I was hooked (as I gingerly coaxed a left across a slick intersection) on the unconventional stories paced in a way new to me.

Nobody sold anyone on their position. Eventually we were running in some tight spots and had to lay off the gab. But still, my point stands - I don't care about the appearance or the "believability of image". To me, the story is all. The animation is merely the prop.

But to him, the image was everything. Unless it looked real, totally real, he could not sink into the story. Black and white, subtitled, animated - if it didn't look real, he didn't get the story at all.

Of course, I mentioned (in one stretch after we ran a red and bought a breather from the pursuing car-pack) that most things I saw on today's movies, most CGI, it's overdone to the point of being cartoonish. Flyboys. 300. Pearl Harbor. All of these were awful. If you knew anything about the subject, they was laughably idiotic. But from his point of view, as long as it was seamless, no strings or brush-strokes, no words on the bottom, nothing to detract, then cars that exploded and machine guns that never ran out of ammo, sure, it was realistic (and, hence, worth watching).

But to me, the story is all. Which is why I poised this interesting question against the background of conflict, man against traffic, the eternal struggle.

It's for the reader to decide who is right.

Hint. Me.


Last Updated on Wednesday, 05 April 2017 22:41
Dangerous (DOG EAR) PDF Print E-mail
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Thursday, 30 March 2017 00:00

ell, crap. Now what.

You might have noticed if you came in the front way that my website has earned a little crossed-padlock symbol in front of the name. If you try to log in (well, to comment) you get a warning that bridge out, no trespassing, and there be dragons.

I've gone through a lot to keep this website up. I pay bucks to keep host and domain together. When I got hacked a few years back I paid a guy on eLance (no longer in service) to restore it (as well as to create a backup method). I spend a lot of time writing all the articles and reviews - every time I think of something about books, stories, media, whatever, I create content. Currently there are hundreds of reviews, blog entries, even train hobby notices. I've spent hours blogging and generally enjoy it.

So the deal with the WWW location is that it has been deemed unsafe because passwords could be intercepted. What does that mean to me? Not much. Currently I'm looking into what it would take to move to the approved https format. But if I get hacked, so be it. As a reader, you have no risk. Even if you log in and someone steals your password, so what? It's not like that gains any more access than any unregistered users provide. And I'm always reviewing comments so if someone does post as you and it seems misleading or offensive, I'll keep the comment offline and contact you.

It's really no big deal (now that I've had a chance to consider it). So, the site might be destroyed. Maybe I'll move it to https or maybe not - I've got a pretty old version of Joomla running here and can't upgrade. But yes, it's just one more thing to be frustrated about.

The new media. Piffle.


Last Updated on Sunday, 26 March 2017 13:47

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