Thursday, October 28, 2010

Three-dot style

I didn't realize that my cousin Helen reads this blog, until she chided me (with good reason) for not posting enough. I hope this item will address this fault of mine, at least briefly.

When I lived in the Bay Area I enjoyed reading Herb Caen's column in the San Francisco Chronicle. Much of his content was what he called “three-dot journalism”, short items separated by ellipses.

So here are some random short items gleaned from one of the series of 3x5 cards I carry in my Nerd Pack at all times: the Misc series.

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One of the place names on the Alamo Navajo Reservation near Magdalena, NM: One-armed Man Who Walked Off Cliff.

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Neologism file: Monitor lizards—people who spend all their time on the computer. (Nan Silvernail)

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“It's like applesauce that knows somebody.” (Marcia B. on the apple compote at Standard Diner in ABQ.)

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“Cotton balls garnished with angel farts.” (ibid, on haute cuisine)

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Socorro, NM, was established in 1626, torched in 1680, and resettled around 1815.

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There are two stories of how the Llano Estacado, the great Staked Plains of Eastern NM of my youth in Hobbs, were named. One theory is that the early explorers used tall stakes pounded into the ground to navigate—heaven knows there are few landmarks there, or any terrain relief. The other theory is that the edge, the Caprock, looks somewhat like palisades of stakes from a distance.

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“A lifetime of temporary relief.” (a chronic pain sufferer on her life)

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Natillas is a favorite local dessert from our Hispanic heritage here in the Rio Grande Valley. It is a custard with some vanilla wafers in it. The winner of the local reader's poll for this was Teofilo's in Los Lunas, right across from the Luna Mansion, which was recently bought by the people who own Teofilo's. Shipman's summary: Yum.

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Speaking of local culture, mañana does not mean tomorrow. It means, not today.

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“Cubist seeks square hole.” (Nan)

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In Jack Williamson's autobiography, he tells the story of how he and Fredrik Pohl investigated the site of the famous Socorro Saucer Incident. They found two anomalous things about the scene. There were four depressions in the sand claimed to be the footprints of the saucer; they were laid out in a perfect square, except that one footprint that would have been positioned on a large rock was off to the side. Wouldn't a landing strut sit on top of the rock, or at least leave scrape marks on the rock? Also, the scorched bushes were scorched from the bottom up; one would expect bushes scorched by flame from above would be scorched from the top down.

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“Politics is the art of getting votes from the poor and money from the rich while convincing each group that you are protecting them from the other.” (anonymous British labor official)

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“Self-loathing government dependents.” (Pat Buckley on Teabaggers who are on Medicare and Social Security)

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“Software as a disservice.” (Me, on SAS, Software As a Service; I also view The Cloud with some great suspicion.)

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“A gift of fertilizer!” (Me, examining a guano strike on my car. So if you hear me say this, it's a more polite way of saying “bullshit.”)

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“Sometimes being an adult means not telling Mom.” (Nan)

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“Is that flounder or flow under?” (Overheard at an Albuquerque restaurant.)

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“We've got to find out where this chocolate is leaking from.” (Overheard at the Village Inn, ABQ)

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A man asked his wife, “I've never understood that is meant by this phrase ‘Mixed emotions.’ Can you give me an example?”

His wife replied, “Here's one: You have the longest one of all your friends.”

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“This restaurant is a free circus. All you have to do is pay attention.” (Sign on a refrigerator at the Manzanares Coffeehouse, Socorro, NM.)

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Neologism file: apostatheosis—the ultimate in apostasy. (Jim Campbell)

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Neologism file: conslutant [sic]—one who gives advice for extremely low prices.

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Random neuron firing: I finally remembered the name of the legendary high-volume fish restaurant on the Berkeley waterfront: Spenger's. Ate there somewhere around 1980. Great food, huge selection, and massive crowds at all hours.

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“In order to understand recursion, first you must understand recursion.” (Anon.)

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“Vertil concoupe”; this is how a member of my family, probably my sister Sally, mangled “convertible coupe” at a tender age.

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I missed the New Mexico State Fair this year, so I failed to try Deep Fried Butter, but Zombie Doughnuts in Albuquerque has a maple bacon espresso doughnut that is also pretty impressive on the junk-food scale.

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Me: Good bye, cruller world.
Nan: I'm going to a buttermilk place. (2010-08-23)

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“We ran out of green chile so we had to come home.” (Pat Buckley on his return from to Socorro from a vacation in Wyoming)

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“If the unexamined life is not worth living, the over-examined life must be well worth living.” (Miriam Nadel)

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Verdolagas is the local Spanish name for common purslane, which is one of the evil weeds banned by city ordinance here in Socorro. According to my informant, it is a delicious stir-fried vegetable, eaten commonly here in Hispanic households, and a good vehicle for red chile.

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The Animas River runs through northern New Mexico near Farmington. I heard that the full name is Rio de las Animas Perdidas, the river of lost souls, because in flood it has killed many in the past.

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Neologism file: Decolletage—avoiding Colette. (Me)

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Kid: What are all those books that look alike over there?
Parent: That's the Encyclopedia Britannica.
Kid: Whoa, somebody printed the whole thing out?

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“Rougher than a stucco waterslide.” (Justin McKee, color commentator for the Pro Bull Riding Tour)

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In the Hobbs (NM) Varsity Band, one of our signature pieces was a bombastic little march entitled “Grandioso.” Only recently did I realize it was ripped bodily out of Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody. I'm so ignorant about classical music. On several occasions, the only way I've found out about a great classical piece was to perform it with the NM Symphony Chorus.

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Neologism file: not-o-pilot—when you're not paying proper attention. (Me, 2010-09-20)

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“It's a control freak thing. I won't LET you understand.” (Bumper sticker)

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I don't mind straight people so long as they act gay in public. (Bumper sticker)

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“Nature abhors self-esteem.” (Me, 2010-09-30)

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At one point in my secondary school years, Dr. Pepper introduced a soft drink called Pommac. It was sort of the Edsel of soft drinks: introduced with a big splash, a commercial disaster. I used to drink this stuff. Pale pink, carbonated, not entirely unlike champagne.

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Random neuron firing: I finally remembered the names of our family friends in Inverness, FL, around 1955: the Roscoes. Our family lived in this soggy pesthole for a few months between Dad's jobs because Dad's parents had retired there. The Roscoes were local real estate brokers who found us a small farm to live on. There were two horses on the property. Like so many young girls, my sister loved horses; as I recall, she actually rode the filly, Rowdy, at least once. The other horse was a big stodgy plow horse named Bob. I had no idea what he was good for, but I was only five then. I recall the electric fence in particular. I found out the hard way, of course.

3 comments:

slymongoose said...

Yay! These are lots of fun and I'm in them! :D

Smooge said...

Ah man.. now you used them all up. It will be years before I see another post.

Hope you are well, and thankyou for the Unix course back in the day. I use it everyday.

Bill Weiss said...

Fredrik Pohl, as in the sci-fi writer?
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I think I'll share the "Software as a disservice" bit with some of my coworkers when we're being sarcastic about our product.
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The Wikipedia page on Common Purslane makes it sound like a wonder-veggie. I don't think I've ever had it. Now I'll be trying to find a place to buy it :)
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Pommac sounds kind of tasty. Think there's anywhere in the US to get it?