Monday, December 21, 2009

snooow, sn-OOOOW, SNOW!

Growing up there were a few marketable skills passed along as part of the cultural package.

You learned how to pick lobster meat.

You learned how to mix a great Bloody Mary (1).

And you learned how to shovel.

"Shovel?" I hear you thinking. "How hard is it to shovel?"

If we're just talking the physical act of shoveling, not hard at all.

If, however, we're discussing the etiquette and art of shoveling...well that's another thing altogether.

First, if you are shoveling a pathway your finished path should be wider than the shovel itself. The one swipe and then you're done method...that was the kind of shoddy work that used to get us all sent back outside for another pass.

If your neighbor has shoveled first it's pretty much good manners to take the extra time to connect your shoveled piece of the sidewalk to their shoveled piece of the sidewalk. Leaving two or three feet undone because of some vague sense of property line is, well, kind of sad.

And, finally, if your neighbor has taken the time to shovel their car out and you just haven't had the chance it's fine to grab the empty space...as long as you shovel it forward. If your car is in a space that you haven't shoveled, clean another one out for the guy whose space you took. If everyone does it the street gets cleaned out and, saints be praised, parking for everyone.

He's not sure exactly why (2) but somewhere out there my dad is very, very proud.

1. Okay. Maybe that was just at my house.
2. As he is not one of my three readers... Oh! And one follower! I have a follower! Hi follower!!!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Tramp, tramp, tramp, tramp...

The Independent has joined the rush to the second decade of the 21st century (1) and published a list of heroes and villians...people who made their mark in the first 10 years of the noughts.

These are people we'll remember.

Maybe for being very, very good. Maybe for being very, very bad.

Among the motley crew is Belle de Jour, the call girl blogger who was later revealed to be a researcher.

Here's what they had to say:

"Unlike most self-obsessed bloggers, this 30-something 300£
-a-night hooker at least found something interesting to put on her site. Her anonymous musings became the most dreaded of things, a 'publishing sensation'; and then she outed herself as research scientist Dr. Brooke Magnanti. Now she's just another author with a book to plug."

What's interesting is that I didn't go to the site with the intention of reading this particular article but, instead, one about the declining sales of some bigger name authors whose books usually jump off the shelves.

In my head these two stories have become connected.

Books have joined movies in needing to be blockbusters. Unfortunately, unlike movies, publishers have all but abandoned the indies. A big name is better than a really heartfelt novel. A memoir penned in the general vicinity of a Hollywood star far more attractive than a well-crafted collection of short stories. A good story is only as good as its marketing buzz.

And all of this because, we are told, that's what people want to read...which is when we get into a chicken-egg swirl of asking if these books are what's published because it's what readers want or if this is what readers read because that's what's being published.


Just be sure to leave 300£ on the nightstand when you're done.

1. Did I say that right?

Christmas time is here...Happiness and cheer...

Turns out that all those weather forecasts were correct and we got a whole lot of snow dumped on us here in our nation's capital.

Big picture, it's fantastically beautiful and has really done a good deal to kick off the holidays. Not that I haven't known they were coming, but now it feels like Christmastime.

The other remarkable thing is that people around here really haven't started complaining about the snow.

This is very, very rare.

Usually, when a bare dusting makes its way through town, people start pining for the return of summer.

But now it seems that many of our neighbors are new to the idea of snow. They're a collection of Southern transplants who were genuinely excited to get out and watch our streets and sidewalks slowly disappear under a thick white blanket.

I love the snow. I've even made a practice of digging out the sidewalk for a good portion of our block...clearing out for a few houses in both directions.

What I will never get used to is how snow immobilizes the city. Sidewalks will be impassable on some blocks until the spring thaw. Subways and busses will take a while to get back on track which kind of has me dreading tomorrow morning's commute. Shoveled parking spaces are going to become the equivalent of wartime nylons.

But even with all that, there's no more denying it...Christmastime is here...happiness and cheer...fun for all...the children call...their favorite time of year.

Yeah. Pretty corny ending. I know.