Out of My Mind

by Jon Pine

Welcome to a new DM Refugees feature, Out of My Mind. Sometimes ideas for this blog jump into my head, but on closer inspection they don’t quite warrant a full-on column. So I thought I’d start regurgitating them here, if for no other reason than to silence the voices in my head and finally get some friggin’ peace already!

October 27, 2009

Playing matchmaker

Didya ever look through the want ads and see two ads that sorta cancel each other out? Like “Wanted: Used rider lawnmower, good condition” and “For Sale: Lawnmower, rider, used, good condition”? Makes you just want to hook the two people up, right?


Jon Pine

Well, I got that same feeling skimming my local newspaper this morning over breakfast. Page A-10 has a story about the ongoing debate in Florida’s Legislature over whether or not to allow oil drilling within 10 miles of our pristine Gulf Coast beaches. The “pro” side of the argument claims that 20,000 new jobs would be created. The “con” side says the amount of oil produced would do nothing to influence crude oil prices, which are set by international supply and demand. Oh, and there’s that little matter of gobs and gobs of tar washing ashore – definitely something we won’t want to feature in our tourism brochures.

Then, on the front page of Section B is a story about an 800-acre cattle ranch in Okeechobee that installed 84 solar panels on a shed roof, which generate enough electricity to power the entire ranch operation, with enough juice left over that they can sell it back to the local utility company. The $110,000 conversion project, after state and federal incentives and rebates, cost just $13,000 out of pocket.

Legislators should take a field trip to the cattle ranch. Instead of “Drill, baby, drill!” maybe they’d come away shouting “Solar, baby, solar!” How many jobs, do you suppose, would be created by a massive push toward clean manufacturing of solar panels? I mean, for pete’s sake, we’re called “The Sunshine State!” This same Legislature officially adopted that nickname in 1970.

(Side note for my Florida readers: A public forum on Gulf Coast oil exploration will take place Wednesday night from 7-9 p.m. It will be carried live online at FloridaToday.com)

International Day of Silly Walks

Today, John Cleese, one-sixth of the eponymous Monty Python comedy troupe, turns 70. This year also marks Monty Python’s 40th anniversary.

Will you join me in naming this date “International Day of Silly Walks,” in honor of Cleese, and of this Python sketch that without a doubt makes me laugh the loudest and longest.

And as a bonus, check out this other bit that makes me laugh almost as loud and long.

Also, Python fans, if you missed “Monty Python: Almost the Truth (The Lawyers’ Cut),” the six-part IFC documentary, there’s good news! You can rent it from NetFlix or purchase it at Amazon Video on Demand.

Poetry found in the unlikeliest of places

Back in my journalism days, occasionally I would have to fill in on the “death and destruction” beat, which basically meant listening to the police scanner and chasing after fires, accidents and other emergencies. It also meant making the rounds of the police and sheriff’s departments to get a run-down of their police blotter activity. Not my favorite beat, but some reporters just loved it.

One writer who may love it just a little too much is Kevin L. Hoover of the cool little California weekly called The Arcata Eye. (Thanks to my friend, Donna, also an ex-journalist, for reconnecting me recently with the online version.) Rivaling the best Beat generation poets, Hoover takes a simple B&E (breaking and entering), D&D (drunk and disorderly) or street scuffle and brings out its deeper meaning, underlying humor, and yes, even a strange sort of beauty. A sample entry:

Friday, September 4

9:23 p.m. An Eighth Street restaurant was blessed with every business’s dream – a hostile, gibbering nincompoop positioned for maximum customer contact right outside the front door. This particularly spouty specimen’s aggro-mojo was sufficiently piquant to cause employees to lock themselves inside the restaurant until police arrived. When they did, he went to jail on a public drunkenness charge.

And a few hours later, an actual rhyming limerick:

1:23 a.m. 
Things were not going so well

For a guest at a Plaza hotel

As bar closure loomed

The sidewalks went boom

With drums from insomniac hell

Some of Hoover’s best entries have been bound in two books, available for sale elsewhere on the site. Brew up some herbal tea, light up a clove cigarette and enjoy!

Troublesome phrases

Ever the editor, I sometimes wish I could climb into Doc Brown’s DeLorean and go back in time to correct some awkward words and phrases that have somehow made it into our permanent lexicon.  To wit:

“It’s the same difference…” Huh? Isn’t that contradictory? Either it’s the same or it’s different. Make up your mind!

“I could care less…” Same problem. Shouldn’t it be “I couldn’t care less”? If you could care less, it means you probably care too much.

“It’s the exception that proves the rule…” Noooo… If it’s an exception, it disproves the rule.

“You can’t have your cake and eat it, too…” This one has always bugged me. Shouldn’t it be the other way around, “You can’t eat your cake and have it, too”? Because if you have your cake, you can eventually eat it. But once you’ve eaten it, you don’t have it anymore, right?

“Everyday” versus “Every day.” If, for example, the two-for-$2 greasy cheeseburger special is available each and every day, then it’s two words, not one. It’s an everyday mistake that I see in advertising and on signs and billboards everywhere. (Or is that every where?)

© 2009 Jon Pine


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Filed under Humor, Journalism, Politics, Posts by Jon Pine

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