Random melange of multi-themed, disconnected stuff


Instead of writing something organized and well-researched, I thought I’d plunge into the alluring gyre of thematic havoc, which is to say: this is a mixed bag.




One serious YOYO. (photo by Gabor Degre for BDN)


YOYOs and WITTs…

Since we’re at the end of a fractious and disturbing political campaign season, I was tempted at one point to write about conservatives and liberals as being reducible to YOYOs and WITTs (conservative YOYOs: “You’re On Your Own” vs. liberal WITTs: “We’re In This Together”) but felt that most of us already know about this fundamental philosophical divide, and it’s neither funny nor enlightening. But then I thought YOYO would be better as YOYOLT, which simply enough is “You’re On Your Own, Like Totally,” as if LePage were addressing tens of thousands of would-be Maine Medicaid recipients if only he weren’t the governor. But all this flapdoodle climaxes Tuesday night when some 55-60% of us may be hitting the bars to drown out the misery of another four years of bellowing, intractable YOYOLT bombast.


A haunted bathroom?

I was also tempted, because it’s Fright Week this week, to tell the story of something that happened in this house one night about two years ago that has no rational explanation, but beyond revealing that it had to do with a very ordinary and well-secured shower curtain rod performing aerial gymnastics in space overnight to appear in a physically impossible configuration the next morning, I can’t add anything that’s in my comfort zone as a writer who’d prefer not to be a central character in the story.

Can a house that just emerged from the earth two years ago be haunted? My mind’s open.


You may be funnier than you think


Yes, she’s very funny (one of my models. My photo)

Then I also thought about the theme of being able to laugh at oneself as just as life-enhancing as good nutrition and exercise. It’s also more valid than laughing at others, which (unless you’re Bob Marley) always feels wrong, if not unkind. A friend of ours, let’s call him Chipper, who has had some topsy-turviness in his life, was asked by another friend very good-naturedly, “Chipper? When are you going to make something of yourself?” After the briefest of pauses, Chipper replied, “I hope to become a complete failure.” He hasn’t yet succeeded at that, but there was plenty of laughter all around.

But I didn’t want to go too far with that theme because it might irritate those people who actually find it possible to take themselves seriously.


We have the power! Over advertsing rates!

Yesterday, my wife and I became a Nielsen family. The company used to be A.C. Nielsen, and is now Nielsen N.V., and either way they’re the people who want to know what you’re watching on TV so they can publish ratings information. They send you a preliminary mailing to see how interested you might be in keeping a viewing diary, plus two crisp $1 bills, then follow up with the diary itself, and two more crisp $1 bills. So my wife and I, $4 richer, are now part of some 4000 viewers nationwide determining the price advertisers will pay for 30 seconds of airtime.

The curious angle to all this is, my wife and I don’t watch TV. We don’t have cable. We don’t have rabbit ears. We watch movies from Netflix, and occasionally programs streamed via Apple TV, mostly from PBS. We told the Nielsen people this in our preliminary package, and they sent us a viewing dairy anyway. They don’t want to know about Netflix or programming via Apple TV, they want to know what we watch on normal, conventional cable TV, but since we don’t have cable, we don’t watch anything on TV.

I can’t figure it. The viewing diary is going to be crammed with words like nada, nil, zippo, bupkus, etc.


We could really use a scratch ticket for the next 200 miles.

Alabama has no state lottery. Alabama is really tough to drive through without a scratch ticket or two for diversion. Otherwise, it’s just, you know, Alabama. *Sigh*.


Serious appliance abuse…

We had some problems with our washing machine a few months ago and had Tom, the repairman, come pay us a visit. Tom wanted to know how much detergent we used in a typical load, and I told him, “about two tablespoons.” He then launched into the story of a customer he once had, a Chinese couple, whose machine had become utter wreckage. He told the story like this:

I saw a step stool sitting next to the machine and I asked the man what it was for. His English was pretty weak, so he partly had to act it out. He climbed up on the stool and said he would jam as many clothes as possible into the basket, then jump into the basket and jump up and down to pack them down, then add even more clothes and jump up and down and laugh while he did it, then add five full capfuls of detergent, and then one more “for the wife,” and start the machine. The basket was shot. The bearings were shot. The machine was a year old and was destroyed.

I’m not sure he could make that up, but maybe he did.


Random murmurs…

Every now and then I’ll take note of random comments spoken or heard in the kitchen – comments that are utterly meaningless without context. Some samples —

  • “The smaller ones are sometimes sweeter, dear.”
  • “It shouldn’t go in that way.”
  • “It might be tenderer sandblasted.”
  • “It doesn’t matter if you turn it twice.”
  • “Emeril, eat your heart out.”
  • “Does this count as a legume?”
  • “More stock.”


Thanks, all. There you have it.

Fingers crossed, Shenna! If not this time, don’t fade away…


Ned White

About Ned White

Ned White is a writer, novelist, crossword puzzle constructor, traveler through 49 states, and at times a danger in the kitchen. He lives with his wife in South Thomaston.