Saturday, July 31, 2010

A Bookmarker

This post is intended to keep my blog from being archived or deactivated. Don’t be alarmed. I am on the verge of writing fresh material. Of course, I’ve been on the verge for the past twelve months.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Throw the Dog a Bone

I just watched a JC Penny Fathers Day commercial. The suggested motive for buying Dad a gift was to “Show that Daddy matters.” Now imagine that it had said, “Show Daddy that he matters.” See the difference? Showing that “Daddy matters” appears to be directed to some audience other than Daddy. Yeah, the old guy’s usually around here, but it’s Mom that does the heavy lifting. Let’s put a picture of him on the refrigerator along with one of his old TV Guides; give him some good press. Maybe it will amp up his image. It’s just so…well, patronizing.

Thursday, February 26, 2009


I love RSS feeds. They save me frequent, fruitless trips to websites in search of the latest information, news and views. Instead, like room service, these things are delivered to me when ready. There are a few exceptions: I recently discovered that one site feeds me four or five-day old bread, while paying subscribers get theirs fresh-from-the-oven. The downside for the well-heeled—Get it? Like the heels on a loaf of bread? Never mind.—is that they must to go to kitchen and fetch it from the oven themselves.

When a feed item comes to me, I must decide whether to read it or pass it by. Frequently, an item’s title (like the one above) reveals very little about its content. As a remedy, host-sites offers content providers and bloggers like me these alternatives: 1) Send the entire text of the item and, sometimes, its images too; 2) Include the opening—a sentence or as much as a couple of paragraphs—as a teaser; or, 3) Create a more revealing subtitle. I use option 1, the full text approach. Option 2 works well only when a juicy topic sentence appears early on. That clearly wouldn’t work for me. Hell, we’re already two paragraphs into this post and I haven’t told you what it’s about.

I subscribe to the New York Times Op-Ed feed, which includes items from “The Opinionator.” Several times a day, this blog introduces a hot issue or news item, quotes relevant, often antithetical sources of expert or popular opinion, then solicits readers’ reactions. Using option 3, they use a single-sentence subtitle to add focus to an occasionally vague main title.

[Thus endeth the reading of the back-story.]

Three days ago I received a feed item with this title and subtitle:

The Opinionator: Pot to Be Legal in 2022?
The percentage of Americans in favor of legalizing marijuana is getting higher.

I’m just wondering if the subtitle should have read:

The percentage of Americans in favor of legalizing marijuana are getting higher.

But, you can’t have a subtitle without s-u-b-t-l-e.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Literary Notes, Condensed

“Cervantes saved precious little from his failed first draft, an attempt to pen for children a tale of the improbable barnyard adventures of his title character, Donkey Hotey.” — T. Dale Gibbs

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

I Must Be Living Right

What a great feeling: I added a popular movie, newly released on DVD, to my Netflix queue, discovered that it was marked “Very Long Wait,” moved it to the top position anyway, then received it in the mail the very next day. Easily pleased by small favors: That’s me.

Note: This blog was once suspended by Blogger for several days while they assured themselves that this is not a spam blog. My post, “Feel the Freedom,” which lavishly praised a TV ad for Subaru, aroused suspicion. To avoid a recurrence, let me affirm:

The present post should not be construed as an endorsement of, nor a solicitation on behalf of Netflix or its affiliates. The present post documents a chain of events that occurred one time only. It is not intended to diminish other disappointments suffered at the hands of Netflix. To the contrary, it is the rarity of the cited “series of fortunate events” that, to my mind, made it post-worthy. I further assert that I am not being remunerated by Netflix or its affiliates with cash, goods, or services…yet.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Child of Necessity

For too long I have held onto an idea that would relieve the unnecessary pain and suffering of millions of Americans. I have come to realize that I personally lack the resources and time to develop, manufacture, and pitch this inspired product to those who so desperately need it. If it were possible for me to receive a sizable tax deduction for the charitable gift of this concept to a people in need, that would be good. As this is not the case, I have decided simply to surrender my intellectual property rights to this original idea. In this spirit of generosity, I am setting my personal dream free and am donating it…to the highest bidder.

I am now speaking directly at you consumers who own cats. I sympathize with the hurt you get when sweet little Tabby needs to be trotted off to see the vet. I feel your pain when, with great difficulty, you force your treasured feline into her wire mesh carrier. For this emotional experience, with its desperate struggle, uncounted injuries, and incessant yowling, I give you: The Cat Funnel.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

What’s the Score?

I don’t want to become a style-and-grammar cop, exposing the media’s gaffs and misdemeanors. For one thing, I’m only a hobbyist without credentials. For another, you could find some giggle-worthy goofs in my own posts with very little effort. However, a case could be made that we bloggers are ex officio members of “The Media.” Aren’t we obliged to police our own?

Hence this: During the halftime of this afternoon’s Villanova v. Syracuse basketball game, the CBS Sports team discussed the prospects of teams close to assuring themselves a berth in the approaching NCAA tournament. A sportscaster identified several such teams. Much, he said, hangs on their performance during the remaining regular-season games and regional championships that follow. He added:

“Will they lose some games? Sure…but to teams capable of beating them.”


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Off Script

Look, this is Vermont. Where else would the local six o’clock news include a report on wood stoves. I don’t know whether the reporter or the copy writer deserves credit, but that live report included this bucolic gem:

“Last summer they weren’t selling hardly any.”

This is Vermont.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Truth in Advertising

So, last May on a prematurely-summery day, I’m at the McDonald’s drive-up. From their “Dollar Menu” I order two double-cheeseburgers , two apple pies (two for $1), and their recently-introduced, large sweet tea. It’s funny how reduced pricing can alter your perception of how much and what kind of food is good for you. But this is not about that.

I had recently seen an ad featuring the sweet tea. The unctuous voice—behind an image of crystalline ice swimming in the sweet, golden nectar—assured me that, unlike other places, McDonald’s tea is brewed fresh daily.

After paying my $4 plus tax at the “first window,” I drove ahead to await my order. It was delayed because the girl at that window was blocked by two guys hoisting and emptying the contents of a ten-gallon paint drum—I swear, that’s what it looked like—into a beverage cooler/dispenser. You know what’s coming, don’t you; once they moved aside, I saw that it was the sweet tea.

Later, after medicating my illusions with a dose of high-calorie, high-fat, low-cost food, I decided that the tea was actually pretty good, despite being shipped and handled like industrial solvent. Seduced by a TV commercial: I must have fallen asleep, remote in hand, drool on chin, and dreamt of a grand-motherly woman preparing fresh tea, then letting it steep under a charming tea cozy, also made by her own hands. Brewed fresh daily, indeed! Yeah, they mix up a batch each and every day at the factory.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Whose Image?

What if God did not make us in his image after all. What if we are forming ourselves in the image of a god we only imagine. Discuss.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009


There is a new television remote just for men. If the channel isn’t changed within two minutes, it calls 9-1-1 for medical assistance.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


“The only time the warning lights or gate at a railroad crossing can fail is when a train is coming” – Gibbso Marx*


NOTE: You are free to quote this, but only out of context.
*The illegitimate grand-nephew of Groucho Marx, twice removed.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Inanity and Realia Return

I'm back. I've been well — thanks for asking. I've restored most of my previous posts which I had deleted in a fit of pique. Thankfully, there are couple of sites whose business it is to temporarily archive abstracts of weblog posts. I'm especially grateful to and Technorati from which, together with my own backups, I was able to partially reassemble Tom's Compost.

I have some recent events and pent-up issues that will be shared soon. But fear not, the usual blend of News, Views, Pics, Poetry, Music, Fiction, and Inspiration will be as it once was: food for the mind, a banquet to the senses, and nourishment for the soul. (I must be hungry — those are all dietary metaphors.) Okay, maybe that's unabashed hyperbole. But here, before you read it on the walls of some public restroom, is the unvarnished truth: For a good time, click

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Moving On: A Graduation Poem


Pause a moment from your travels,
Savor what your steps have won;
A milestone marks the journey,
Then commencement — Moving On.

[I wrote this poem in the 70's to honor my brother-in-law Mike Allen for having earned the Doctor of Education degree from the University of Maine, Orono.]