October 24, 2002

President George W. Bush reads.

I know, of course he does, but leave it to Lloyd Grove to draw our attention to the president’s latest accomplishment, getting all the way through, or at least I assume so, The Everlasting Stream: A True Story of Rabbits, Guns, Friends, and Family, by Walt Harrington.

President Bush was so impressed, Grove reports, that he sent Harrington a “handwritten letter on White House stationery,” eloquently singing the book’s praises.

The letter reads, in part: “Dear Walt, I just finished ‘The Everlasting Stream’ and I liked it a lot. The old boy can still write. You understand what it means to be a friend, an outdoorsman, a husband[,] and a dad. . . . I really enjoy my job. The only problem with this place is there aren’t enough rabbit hunters up here.”

What I would give to know what profound observation the ellipsis skims over.

I wonder if the president has to write a one-page book report for wife Laura Bush before moving on to his next selection.

October 18, 2002

A number of bloggers have published their own “100 Things About Me.” I’m not sure why I’m doing so, since I’m a very private person, but I don’t think I’m giving too much away here. However, if I change my mind, this list might suddenly disappear, and I reserve the right to take such action.

1. I have nine siblings.

2. I am number seven and I know that was your next question because it always is.

3. I own a bulldog named Mildred.

4. I used to own a bulldog named Mona.

5. I used to own a bulldog named Montgomery.

6. I don’t enjoy seeing movies at movie theaters.

7. I have seen one movie, in a theater, in the past three years.

8. I hate popcorn.

9. I can type faster than anyone I know.

10. I just had a milestone birthday.

11. I am not happy about having had this milestone birthday.

12. I once owned a black Jeep Wrangler, my first car.

13. I once owned a black Infiniti J30, my second car.

14. I no longer own a car.

15. I don’t miss owning a car.

16. I know my next car will be black.

17. I hate rain.

18. I hate driving in the rain, especially at night.

19. I can’t tolerate hot weather.

20. I used to spend nearly every summer weekend at the beach and on the beach.

21. I haven’t been in the sun in six years.

22. I have spent 17 years working in securities analysis and financial journalism.

23. I cannot manage my personal finances.

24. I believe credit-card interest should be deductible again.

25. I hate mushrooms.

26. I firmly believe corn is for cows and not humans.

27. I love steak tartar.

28. I love raw oysters.

29. I love caviar.

30. I love champagne.

31. I love paté de foie gras but I won’t eat it anymore because of the geese.

32. I am very argumentative.

33. I am very impatient.

34. I have no tolerance for spoiled rich kids.

35. I have even less tolerance for spoiled rich adults.

36. I rarely listen to music.

37. I enjoy going to the symphony.

38. I have mixed feelings about the Kimmel Center viz-à-viz the Academy of Music.

39. I have small hands.

40. I have thin lips.

41. I have a full head of hair.

42. I have not yet seen my first gray hair.

43. I have been mistaken for a movie star on at least five different occasions.

44. I keep my fingernails cut very short.

45. I can’t get any work done if my fingernails are not very short.

46. I was valedictorian of my high school class.

47. I hated graduate school.

48. I have moved 12 times since graduate school.

49. I hate moving.

50. I think New York isn’t what it used to be and not in a good way.

51. I have a hard time throwing away magazines.

52. I hate wall-to-wall carpeting.

53. I prefer gas stoves.

54. I rarely cook so it doesn’t really matter.

55. I only wear solids, no prints or stripes.

56. I only wear five different colors, that way everything matches.

57. I only own black shoes.

58. I don’t enjoy talking on the phone.

59. I once had 12 beautiful bonsai trees.

60. I now have 1 beautiful bonsai tree.

61. I kill plants -- and bonsai trees -- easily, but unintentionally.

62. I have known my best friend for 22 years.

63. I read a lot.

64. I can’t remember the last good work of fiction I read.

65. I have not been out of the country since I was 17.

66. I have been giving serious thought lately to moving to Europe.

67. I stay at jobs too long.

68. I have been told I am “the best boss ever.”

69. I am proud of what my past employees have accomplished.

70. I suspect my last boyfriend was my last boyfriend and that’s okay.

71. I don’t have “a type.”

72. I do not like to be fixed up.

73. I am painfully shy.

74. I cannot sign a check or a credit-card receipt if the cashier is watching.

75. I suspect cashiers often think I am engaging in forgery.

76. I find it difficult to meet new people.

77. I am living in a situation that calls upon me to meet new people.

78. I am very funny but few people know that.

79. I have battled depression with limited success for 25 years.

80. I believe social anxiety disorder is a real disease.

81. I believe psychotherapy is bogus.

82. I think Freud was a fraud.

83. I haven’t had a physical in 20 years.

84. I don’t trust doctors.

85. I sometimes wonder if I’m dying.

86. I have at least one filling in every single tooth in my head.

87. I no longer have my wisdom teeth.

88. I have had four root canals.

89. I have three crowns.

90. I wore a retainer for two years as an adult.

91. I think dentists like me.

92. I wonder if dentists think I’m an easy mark.

93. I have nice-looking teeth regardless.

94. I smoked heavily in college and during the first year of graduate school.

95. I quit because cigarettes were 80 cents a pack and I couldn’t afford it.

96. I used to ski fairly often but I don’t anymore.

97. I used to play tennis quite a bit but I don’t anymore.

98. I like to play blackjack a little too much.

99. I miss my grandparents and I wish I had known them better.

100. I wonder why they limit this exercise to 100 things.

October 14, 2002

Homeobox, the philosophical weblog that is the brainchild of Win Fitzpatrick, is always an enlightening read, even though the site hasn’t been updated in a month.

I say that even though I don’t always know what he’s talking about. Sometimes, though, he really nails it for me, as in this post, where he says he is “a reluctant dualist when it comes to phenomenal consciousness.”

Yeah. Yeah, that’s it. Me too! A reluctant dualist, but only when it comes to phenomenal consciousness. Otherwise, forget about it!

If the consciousness is non-phenomenal, then I’m a . . . I’m a . . . I’m an eager dualist. Or am I a reluctant singularist in that case? What’s a singularist? Is “singularist” a real word?

Oops! Gotta’ run. “Gilligan’s Island” is starting.


I wonder who came up with the phrase, “It’s a dog’s life,” and thought it aptly captured a miserable existence.

My dog roused herself out of bed at the leisurely hour of 3:30 P.M. today. And then she had the nerve to yawn and stretch for 15 minutes.

I wonder if she goes out with her friends after I go to sleep at night.

Let Sleeping Bulldogs Lie.

They Will Anyway.

October 12, 2002

Sour Bob of Sour Mash With a Twist writes:

“Things Bob Actually Does Know About Women, #6: You know that endless row of black shoes in her closet? They might all look the same to you, but actually, each pair is subtly different and serves a distinct purpose.”

He didn’t know this? Can’t tell them apart? Huh?

At the office one day several years ago I made the mistake of casually mentioning that I owned 17 different pairs of black shoes. My co-workers, about 80 percent of them men, looked at me with amazement. It’s a good thing I was the boss or I think I might have had the crap beaten out of me.

October 10, 2002

Man, I know I'm going to flamed for this one, but if you're tired of having to pretend you think the art work of other people's kids is adorable (I'm not that kind of person, of course), take a look at I'm Better Than Your Kids.

[Note: A slightly different version of this piece appeared earlier today at The Rittenhouse Review.]


Here’s another reason, as if one were needed, to love Philadelphia: Stu Bykofsky, a gossip columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, can unselfconsciously write -- and have published -- a sentence like this one:

“At the nuptials, South Philly sausage king Anothony L. Maglio whispered to Bobby Rydell, ‘I think you’re bad luck. Why doesn’t he get someone else?’” [Emphasis added.]

October 04, 2002

Vaara, world-renowned linguist, admitted ümlaut lover, and former author of the late, great weblog Silt, checks in with the Review today, providing a link to “Finnish Tongue Twisters,” a phrase I would have thought was redundant.

A personal favorite: “Kokko, kokoo koko kokko kokoon!” “Koko kokkoko?” “Koko kokko.” It means: “Kokko, gather up the whole Midsummer fire!” “The whole fire?” “The whole fire.” (Kokko is a person’s name. Midsummer is a holiday.)

And this: järjestelmällistämättömyydelläänsäkäänköhän (43 letters), which is said to be the longest word in the Finnish language, although epäjärjestelmällistyttämättömyydellänsäkään (also 43 letters), is reportedly cited by The Guinness Book of World Records, so I guess it’s some sort of linguistically psychotic tie.

And this: Saippuakippokukkakivikakkukoppikauppias, which must be the world’s longest single-word palindrome.

The home page of the site where these were found -- The First International Collection of Tongue Twisters -- also links to “Dutch Tongue Twisters,” another redundancy, I think, and to similar challenges in some 90 languages, including 18 different tongue twisters in Esperanto.

You know, you really can find anything on the web.

[Note: This article was published earlier today in a slightly different form at The Rittenhouse Review.]