Category Archives: Thoughts at Large

Thoughts @ Large: 46

• Why are short forks called salad forks?  Why are salad forks shorter than other forks?  Are lightweight forks somehow appropriate for lightweight food?  Why would one need a fork that is shorter than regular forks?  The better to jab thin people with?

• One full slot in every American’s silverware drawer is wastefully devoted to salad forks.  This takes up precious space that could otherwise be used for chopsticks, poultry lacers, rubber pot-scrapers and rectal thermometers.

• You know, I was just thinking the other day.

• I may turn out to be a very bad grandfather.  I can’t seem to watch children at play without imagining all the ways they could hurt themselves, which naturally makes me want to constrain their play.  Good thing I was not my own grandfather — otherwise I would not have gained such an appreciation for dangerous things.

• Perhaps I should take heart that, on Antiques Roadshow 3000, my works of art will be best-known for having been made during the Trump Dynasty.

• Every sound-effects team in Hollywood should be fired.  One film after another persists in accompanying all blows with thundering deep bass tones and all fast-moving objects with cavernous whooshes.  Such sonic clichés should be banned, never rewarded.

• One of my favorite expressions is, “Excuse my French.”  (It so often needs excusing.)

• I am really getting tired of getting directed to some Pinterest site whenever I click a link.  I will never sign up for Pinterest, never, ever.  If the internet is so smart, they would have figured this out by now and they would stop sending me to Pinterest.  Goober Pyle and me, we’re just going to sit here and play checkers in the repair shop until the internet fixes this.

• I call them thunderstorms but many others refer to them as electrical storms.  I would be interested to know whether there is a cultural or geographic locus for the designation electrical storm.  There’s something about that name that pays tribute to the primitive forces of nature.  The more documentary thunderstorm falls short on that count.

• I am not a fascinating person.  As evidence of this, my conversations with others always  seem to last much longer when I engage them in discussion about themselves.

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•  Most would agree that the beauty of a butterfly’s wings more than compensates for the defoliation caused by its offspring.  Donald Trump would have us think this works in the opposite direction as well — that having beautiful offspring somehow makes up for his own destructive behavior.

•  The spring flowerlets of scotch broom smell wonderful — our bumblebees love them.  The branches laden with their tiny cup-like flowers fall gracefully over our boulder wall.  And like most things special, their display lasts only a week or two.  Then, poof.  And our fickle bumblebees fly off to the next enticing fragrance.

•  I would like to see just one New York/Hollywood/Nashville female celebrity show up at an awards show or other similar gala wearing a burka.  What famous American woman would dare make such a bold non-fashion statement?

•  Not that I think burkas are a feminist statement — just the opposite.  But neither is designer celebrity-wear a feminist statement, but a beauty-entitled one.

•  Why does a Brandy Alexander taste delicious but the very thought of a Wine Alexander turn the stomach?   After all, brandy is simply distilled wine, right?  (For the uninitiated, the Brandy Alexander recipe calls for 1 oz brandy, 1 oz cream, and 1 oz crème de cacao.)  The thought of blending wine, cream and crème de cacao is, or should be, unthinkable.

•  There is an alternate universe in which hundreds of people see me as highly creative and faithfully read my blog — and even read it a second time to make sure they get all the little juicy bits I include.  And then there is the universe everyone but me seems to live in.

•  I never guessed I would be looking up the difference between axioms, postulates and  theorems at age 64 years, 54 days.  I figured I left all that behind me on my last day of high-school geometry.  But one’s interests evolve over time.  Who knows, one day I may finally open my set of pastels and produce something that my children will argue over:  “Dad’s pastel belongs in your house.”  “No, it really belongs in yours.”

•  And I never thought, at age 21 years, 43 days, that I would one day be poring over papers about dark matter and dark energy, which together make up far more of our universe than the ordinary atoms that comprise you and me and the computer display that connects us, as well as the planet we live on, the sun we orbit and the stars we gaze upon.  Fifty years after I was born, astronomers and physicists discovered that the stuff we can touch and see and breathe — so-called baryonic matter — represents less than one-twentieth of the total energy of our universe.  I find this tiny ratio humbling.

•  You, whether you are one of faith or no faith at all, will no doubt one day find yourself standing in a church pew during a service — probably a memorial service — whose tenets you do not follow.  Inevitably, while you are standing in that pew to pay your respects, the communion tray gets passed to you, and you have to decide whether to participate or just smile and pass it to the next person in the pew.  Either choice feels wrong, ethically or socially.  If only that damn tray had not been handed to me!  Why was I forced to choose?

And so go many of the so-called choices we face, in church or out.

•  Just as elevators in many hotels travel directly from the 12th to the 14th floor without pausing at the 13th, the sequence of U.S. Presidents is apparently skipping from the 44th to the 46th.  Thoughts at Large will respect this numbering.  The last edition was No. 44 and the next edition will be No. 46 — but the one you are now reading will forever reside on the 13th floor.

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•  It says something about our culture, how so many films involve a mild-mannered person who gets entangled with a insidious manipulator — initially taken in by him but ultimately ridding herself of him, usually by uncharacteristically violent means through which the victim taps into a heretofore hidden dimension of herself.  Or maybe it says something about film clichés.

•  You’ve been there.  You are with a friend or two, engaged in over-coffee conversation or dinner banter, during which one of them launches into the story about their healthy habits and how they make such a difference — and of course you don’t do any of these things.  Things like making sure you eat dinner before six-o-clock so you have time to walk off the calories before bedtime, or not drinking on weekdays, or only eating meat twice a month, or wearing a fitness watch to make sure you take 15,000 steps a day.  How is one supposed to respond to a friend’s heartfelt but unshared health dogma?  “I plan to die young” is one possibility but the response I really like is my sister-in-law’s saying: “That ship has sailed.”

•  Often in the 1960s, the playground battles among you and your mates were not fought on the ballfield but in your respective mouths.  Who could avoid cracking a molar on a jawbreaker?  How long could one tolerate the intensely tart Regal Crown Sour Cherry before the roof of your mouth started to peel?  Who had the ten cents to buy a pack of Topps bubble-gum baseball cards, and who had to settle for Bazooka Joe for a penny?  Finally, who would dare endure the mockery of one’s playground friends for buying and eating those tiny licorice pellets known as Sen Sen?

•  The last thing one wants to see is the last thing one might ever see.


•  You know that Jesus is looking out for you when the milk in your fridge still smells good five days after the expiration date.  Or your favorite team wins the championship game.  Nothing vindicates religion more than getting the earthly outcomes you hope for.

•  Returning to film clichés, what about the cold, unresponsive bureaucrats trying to screw an ordinary guy who has does something good but outside the norm — which means that he now has to vindicate himself, and to do so, he calls in a favor from a troubled friend on the inside that he knows from way back.  And just when you think the guy’s case is lost, a stray piece of evidence shows up, which the troubled friend uncovers while being engaged in debauchery.  The friend straightens himself out in time to present reliable testimony on behalf of the wrongly-accused.  The bureaucrats lose, the nice guy gets on with his life, and the friend is lucky enough to meet a nice woman to keep him on the straight-and-narrow.

•  Advertising on Facebook is one thing, but this is getting out of hand.  The other day when I signed on, I was confronted with the bizarre ads you see in the screenshot at right.  I can’t imagine what I would have said on Facebook that caused it to show me such ads.  Trump is a dick?  (Never said that, at least not there.) And just today, another Facebook ad suggested that Regis Philbin died.  What did I ever say about Regis?

•  Abe Lincoln, Mark Twain, Albert Einstein and Christopher Hitchens walked into a bar — I was already there.  We had a lively conversation.  Galileo was sitting at a table in the corner, and we would have asked him to join us, but he spoke Italian and none of us spoke anything but English.  (Einstein refused to speak German after World War II.)   I asked the bartender to send a glass of grappa over to Galileo, which he seemed to appreciate, tilting his glass toward me and then gesturing that he might drop it, as if from the Tower of Pisa.  But he held onto it and promptly downed it.  Hitchens and Twain laughed, and so did I.

•  At the end of the night, Abe got a little annoyed with me.  He thought I should tip the bartender a penny, and he did not understand how anyone could consider this an insult.

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