Is there any greater pleasure than settling down with a good book and a nice hot cup of coffee? Well, of course there is, we're not fools here. There's your bucatini all'amatriciana, The Daily Show, a check for $780 in the mail, a good dump, a Swedish dollhouse (for some folks), a new set of blackout curtains, café au lait at the Croissant d'Or, an illustrated version of Genesis by R. Crumb, slipping on the ice and thinking you're going to smack the back of your head for sure but you catch yourself just in time, finding a twenty in your jacket that you didn't know you had, getting bought a free martini even if it isn't Boodles, looking in the mirror and seeing that your hair doesn't look like an over-the-hill celebrity's mug shot, finding some Reddi-Wip in the fridge that you didn't know you had, discovering that the H1N1 shot didn't hurt at all, not having a boss, mashing that flea in your ear with a Q-tip, finding out that $5 bottle of wine isn't half bad, being introduced to Steve Buscemi by your Brooklyn friends because they know how much you would like to meet Steve Buscemi and being good friends that's what they would do (that one's still on my to-do list), finding a giant diamond on the sidewalk, sharing morning breath with someone, having your family doctor tell you that he can't explain it but the tests show that you're immortal, having a drawing turn out good, having someone tell you your drawing turned out good even when you know it didn't, scratching that scratch, waking up to find that you have super powers, waking up to find that nobody left a severed horse's head in your bed, having bad weather cancel a local appearance by Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck, not having watched Lost, listening to Johnny Dowd sing A Picture From Life's Other Side. And I haven't even touched upon the whole panoply of sexual activities. So I guess you see my point. You can just come down off your high horse, Mr. Good-Book Reader.


Was it any surprise to hear that the idiot who shouted "You lie!" at the President is from South Carolina? South Carolina, home of Strom Thurmond, Bob Jones University, and any number of loudmouthed halfwits. A friend of mine, on hearing of Joe Wilson's origin, reminded me that South Carolina was the first to attempt to secede from the Union. We should change our minds and take them up on the offer. "Bye now, Gamecocks! See ya! Best of luck! Try not to let Virginia hit you on the way out!"



The "Girls on Laptops" pile. This is back to Old Pen. Carrying a bottle of India ink on location seems a bit risky. Reminds me, back in 4th grade, when kids had to use fountain pens, I was sucking on mine (one of those Scriptos with transparent barrel) and suddenly my mouth filled with ink. Being at that age where just about everything mortified me, I sat silently through history class with a mouth full of ink and spit it out in the nearest water fountain afterwards. Needless to say, my lips and teeth were stained indigo blue, and I looked like a child zombie the rest of the day. Except instead of a pale face, mine was crimson. Kind of like a sad Joker. I'm still trailing that particular cloud of glory.



Logic would tell you that coffee shops would be crammed with hyped-up stammering fidgeting buzz-headed nerve-shot caffeine junkies. How many times have I told you, when it come to human beans logic is worthless. Your eyes would tell you that you've stumbled into a Xanax shop or a narcolepsy treatment center waiting room. It's like drinking coffee in the library, only without so many homeless people and librarians with glasses on chains and their hair in tight buns that when they get home they loosen up and practice pole-dancing. At least that's what I'm told.



So I hear that some of the people at FairGrounds know me as "Small Coffee". As nicknames go, it's no T-Bone or Mickey Bats, but Small Coffee seems to fit me on so many levels. Now if I were still patronizing Starbucks, I guess I'd be known as Tall Coffee, which commands a certain amount of respect, but as such would be entirely misleading, and could lead to an undermining of the whole nickname tradition. So I'll make do with Small Coffee.



A vanishing breed. Shills for the Brave New World claim that people are doing their reading on the internet now, but the numbers show that even those who are, are reading less. And if you ever tried reading a book on a computer monitor, you know why. When we stop reading, we put our brains in the hands of those who spew content onto our TV and computer screens. Even if we disagree with these jerks, we're letting them set the agenda. Who's going to be left to say that maybe Angie's pregnancy isn't quite as important as the decimation of marine life in the Gulf of Mexico? Well. maybe it was always this way. Maybe it's nothing more than that I'm entering the grumpy old man phase of my life. There's something to look forward to.



Nothing wrong with pensive people. Pensive is good. Reminds me, I've had a few conversations with a friend lately about the saying that the examined life is not worth living. Like all truisms, it's both true and false. There's no question that George W could benefit from a more examined life--in fact, we would all benefit from that. But too many of us, me for example, examine our lives to death without actually doing anything. And I've known many people who think that examining your life is a laughably useless activity: some of them are louts, and some are among the finest people I've ever met. Why aren't there ever any easy answers?



I was in Starbucks yesterday being mildly annoyed at someone putting a small coffee--excuse me, tall coffee--on a credit card, thereby bringing the line to a halt, and I realized how much more annoyed I am at that TV campaign for Visa which shows some retail business or other running like clockwork and being brought to a halt by someone using cash instead of a Visa card. What bullshit! It's an insidious way to get us all to accept that true is false and false is true. It's hard enough to know what truth is under ideal conditions, without advertisers and PR people and politicians trying to convince us that the truth is not true. Actually, the really treacherous effect this is all having is nurturing the notion that nothing anybody says is true, that we're all spinning things to our own advantage, to the point where, say, evolution and intelligent design are merely opposing opinions. Or, like, when the overwhelming majority of scientists say global warming is a reality, they're portrayed as manipulating facts in support of some hidden agenda (meaning -- shudder -- liberalism, world government, esperanto, the whole house of cards). Now there's a variant of the new field of "word of mouth" advertising where you're paid to talk up a product among your friends. If that doesn't disturb you, then it's too late for you--you've already become one of the pod people.