Lashing, howling, invert-your-brolly weather. En route to the office I had a few struts snap on my favorite umbrella, because it was my favorite umbrella. Then the wind switched sides, coming from the other direction, and I stood holding it like a shield against a volley of arrows. The rain came sideways and soaked my pants.

“It can stop now,” said the lady next to me. She was wearing a hoodie, or what would be a hoodie if she was 24 and it wasn’t plastic. So it was a hood. Her face was drenched and water was rolling dripping from her eyebrows.

“April showers,” I said, and almost hoped she replied “I’m sorry, I don’t believe we’ve met, and you are?” But she just smiled.

Most notable thing of the day, the rain. The most drama. I filed another piece and started work on the next. It is a five-piece week at work, and I’ve got to get to it now or tomorrow will be sad. Not that I’d miss the deadline; I never miss a deadline. It’s just the harried typing at the end to get it out the door I hate, because you say stupid things. Or brilliant things! And if it’s the latter you think “I should procrastinate more often.”

But you don’t want that rep. You want to be on time, lest you be judged. Oh, you say, I don’t judge people who are late. Hah! Of course you do. Unless they run into the room wearing surgical scrubs and say they were operating on a brain and they are also Buckaroo Bonzai, you judge.

The Crazy Uke’s wife used to explain their lateness to a gathering as a result of running on Ukrainian time. I’d never heard that before and never thought there was an inbuilt tardiness to Slavic cultures. Maybe everyone’s late except for uptight Nordic types who believe in the power of schedules to give the day framing and meaning.

This site discusses the cultural imperialism of punctuality:

On another slide, a character named Alejandro schedules a 9:00 a.m. meeting between two groups of foreign professors and students. The first group arrived fifteen minutes early, while the second arrived ten minutes late. According to the answers, it is wrong for Alejandro to “politely ask the second group to apologize,” or explain that “in our country, 9:00 a.m. means 9:00 a.m.”

Rather, the slide says that Alejandro should “recognize cultural differences that may impact the meeting and adjust accordingly,” and understand “that his cultural perspective regarding time is neither more nor less valid than any other.”

It’s a bit insulting, isn’t it? I wouldn’t ask the second group to apologize the first time, but I would say that Nine Means Nine for the next time. Unless of course you think they’re too stupid to understand what you mean.

We are sorry, but we, being members of a distinct culture separate from yours, do not understand what you are attempting to convey.

I’m saying that around here, a meeting scheduled for nine starts at nine.

So what?

So, we expect everyone to be here around nine.

But that is not our culture.

Excuse me?

We have a more fluid concept of time. To us, everything that will ever happen has already happened. We see it all from the perspective of an observer for whom every moment is a door, endlessly revolving around us; it is up to us to choose a door, or not.

So you’re saying your culture does not have concepts like punctuality?


Are you actually multi-legged aliens with thick cylindrical torsos who communicate by spitting coffee-rings on the glass?


No, you’re not. That was a movie. You’re two guys from the social media department and you’re late because you don’t want to be on time. From now on, nine means nine.

See, if you don’t have to be punctual, then what you do isn’t that important. It’s probably not even work. If a college can run with everyone conforming to their cultural understanding of time, then nothing done at that campus is necessary.

You could say the same thing about my job, my work, and you’d be right; nothing I do is necessary. Which is all the more reason to be prompt when required, because I’ve even less of an excuse for wandering in to a meeting late.

Anyway: I think it comes from having a Nordic Lutheran Great Plains upbringing. The more orderly you want the world to be, the more you value the things that frame up the day. The more rules you have for yourself, the more you’ll be on time. Then there’s the ability to put yourself in others’s shoes - if I am irritated when someone’s not on time, then they would be irritated if I wasn’t.

In college I always carried around things that would help me while away the time productively, because I was either on time and no one else was, or I was early, because I’d tried to be on time. What if I have to just sit there?
Doing nothing? Unconceivable. So the backpack had magazines, a novel, a journal, and later a Walkman. I’m surprised I didn’t have a deck of cards and one of those puzzles you moved around to make the numbers sequential.

What are those called? Let’s google sliding number puzzles . . . okay, it’s a Number Slide Puzzle. Those things irritated me as a kid. I could think a few moves ahead, but the minute you did anything it opened up new possibilities and problems. It felt like trying to take your underwear off while keeping your pants on, and doing it in a phone booth.

It's a page of people who do things and say things. This week we have a page of second-tier notables - by modern standards, I mean; they're not household names - from 1938.


The formatting of the column makes you think that's his name.

Sure, I belive that story. "It's the cheap, water-soluable dye that makes it taste so different!"


Whew: she made it out. You hate it when you see stories about people in the Doomed Places in 1938. She later moved to New Jersey and spent the rest ofher life there.

I love this: "Her sensational rise to fame and spectacular beauty and personality earned her the nickname 'The Moravian Thunderbolt'."

Lots of her work on YouTube, if you like. I'm not an opera lover, so I can't judge.

Oh I can, but I shouldn't.










Oh no, no, not another Western

Don’t worry. We’re not doing the whole thing. We’re in between the good ones, and we take a break with some examination of the tropes and cliches of the Western genre.

There's cliche #1. Here's the usual plot:


Oh no, no, not another Western

The quality of these things is always so horrid. When they shoot nighttime action, it’s really nighttime:


Who wants to watch that? No one. Yes, the aspect ratio is fubar'd, and will be for two weeks. Who cares.

Well, let's meet the stirred-up locals.

By Jiminy, this can’t go on! It’s making me badly act like somethin’ fierce!

Thank heavens for the Black Whip! So named because his whip isn’t white or pink like everyone else’s. Everyone asks “why doesn’t he tell us who he really is?” Because they’d probably snicker:

Doesn’t look very Zorroesque. That’s probably why he dies right away, shot in a gun battle.

Shortest serial ever, but the most honest.

Kidding. Someone has to step into the role, and to the complete and utter dismay of all the 11-year-old boys watching the serial, it’s . . .



It’s the original guy’s sister. And by the way: she’s never called Zorro. No one ever mentions the name. She’s always the Black Whip. But no one knows she’s a she.

This could be interesting. Too bad the print’s so lousy, and too bad it’s a Western. We always run through those just looking for cliffhangers. So what’s it going to be? Buckboard off the cliff? Barn on fire? Stagecoach blowing up? Stampede? Place your bets!



Don't you miss Dr. Satan? I do.

That'll do! See you around. New this week: the Art of Mr. French, Alka-Seltzer Genius.



blog comments powered by Disqus