Friday, November 02, 2012

it's the high holidays; followers of this blog may recognize that once a year, early november, i pile on you with expositions of all the various holidays, hallowe'en, all saints' day, all souls' day, day of the dead, guy fawkes day, sadie hawkins day, election day, you name it, they're all thrown in there together. to me, the most glorious thing is the weather, which in illinois finally cooled off, got clearer, with a bit of wet thrown in after six months of dry. here it seems mixed, but the sky is blue, well it's always blue, and it's definitely a bit cooler with a sense of winter coming.

after hallowe'en which is pretty heavily overdone, costumes and pumpkins cleaned out of the stores by mid-september, people overdressed in ghoulish stuff, i can't say this is my favorite, because i'm not big on candy and i don't care for that way of exorcising one's fears. but saints' day and souls' day are different. largely ignored in this country, combined in others, day of the dead is actually souls' day, tonight, and this is the one where you really pray for the souls of the dead so that they might go where you want them to rather than the other direction. when the weather is clear and beautiful and i go out for a walk in this enormous park near us, with lots of wide grasses and a big honking full moon over everything, i'm thinking about some of these souls and how, in this holiday, we really admit that we don't have control, and don't know what's going to happen to all these people. that's what i like about it. it's not that i think my prayers are going to make any difference, it's more that i think it's about the only holiday given over to humility and not knowing...

they say that the day of the dead is a huge deal here because of the large mexican population and the festive way that it really reaches everyone; it's one way they can teach us about their culture, get kids involved, and everyone can participate and see the difference. i haven't availed myself of these cultural opportunities, but i did go for a walk; i have to take care of myself first. i also haven't played a whole lot of music, haven't seen the "depot" part of town, haven't got out to the country much. ah, but i've made some peace with the neighborhood, where i do a lot of biking and walking, and where i know the alleys and know some good places to duck out of the street if a boy wants to go pee. in the park, you have to watch out for sticky things that prong into your foot and also the fact that there's quite a bit of dog poop which one could actually step on, as i generally walk a couple of miles barefoot, but i take my chances and enjoy the fact that i actually see more stars than i used to see in my tiny town in illinois. i figure it's because the entire mississippi valley had a lot of cloud cover, but it was generally way up there, either that or it was that we lived so close to the center of town that the chicago-style streetlights just shut everything off. whatever it is, we're out on the plains now, the wind blows, the clear fresh air comes right down into the city where i need it.

got back on the web recently to check on things i should be keeping up better with. i noticed several things which are quite lively developments especially in fields i've been interested in for quite some time. one, there's a grammar revival in this country. it could be that the saturation with bad grammar has finally caused a backlash; the fact that facebook and twitter make misspellings and its/it's there/their so common, to the point of distraction for some people, and they're fighting back hard and making some noise, and it's a kind of grammar revival, culturally i mean. second, this one company, which i will misspell as grmrly, has done an incredible thing: it's tossed millions into advertising over the last couple of years, and it has captured, by its own estimate, three million customers. this is online writing software that will s supposedly help your writing; i think for native speakers at least, it's clearly of value. i'm not necessarily opposed to someone throwing millions at the grammar problem; i'm curious, of course, as to where they got their money, and what's in it for them; but, i also think they are in the right place at the right time, due to number one. and i think that eventually they'll get those millions back. now from my point of view what's important is not so much what you can pay for, but what the computer will do and does every day to every single user: the green lines, and red lines of word's grammar-check itself. but i've just begun to study that. and finally, third, is the texting revolution: the world is beginning to understand and deal with it, and realize that in many ways it can be another language, and that the world has changed for good, is not going back, and the cell-phone companies are sitting on a gold mine. not that i care about gold. it looks to me as if i'll die with enough, and that puts me in an unusual position, i can say what i want, and don't necessarily have to sell out to the highest bidder.

which is partly why i started writing, unexplainably, about this poor dude who stole 77 mil from his company the other day about six years ago, the case is still on my mind, that poor guy will end up in my novel, i swear.

but i can't go much farther without remembering an old colleague, a friend of mine, had her troubles for sure, but also had a lot of life in her, a love of teaching, a good spirit. wanted to come back to illinois but i was unable to help her get a job there; she died in minneapolis in the middle of october, unexpectedly, at the age of 43 i believe. rest in peace, veronica devine.


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