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Archive for February 1st, 2009

Humdrum Doldrums

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Maybe it just goes with my mood, but it’s incomprehensible to me how a sage of Safire‘s erudition can write an article with the word “plunge” featured in the title, lead off with a quote speaking of “doldrums” with the distinct implication of that being the destination of said plunge, then immediately hand out false praise of the observation being “rich in literary-linguistic associations.” Sorry, Bill, but that amalgam is about as improper as your stockbroker friend’s bonus pay or as poor as his clients’ 401(k) balances. Tell him to stick with picking stocks (yeah, right), not words.

The Doldrums are not the state one endures when suffering depression, clinical or economic or otherwise. Dolorous as The Doldrums can be, especially when one has a schedule to keep (such as a retirement date), they are nothing worse than the worst of being stuck at a standstill out in the middle of nowhere, far from port. With the Meltdown’s stormy headwinds still costing the U.S. alone some 30k-50k jobs each new day (no sir, sitting on one’s ass unemployed doesn’t mean you’ve stopped falling), we should be so lucky as to be in The Doldrums. At least then we could send out the rowboats to pull our sad ship to gentler winds, instead of having to bail bail bail bail bail our way praying the ship won’t sink all the way down to the ocean floor. When a victim has been pushed off the roof of the New York Stock Exchange and is midway plummeting to certain death in an encounter with the pavement below, we don’t say he’s in The Doldrums. (Or at least, we don’t praise the insight of anyone who does say so.)

In his glory days, Safire used to be unparalleled in bringing out the color in our language. Back then, his instinctive response would have been, “No, grasshopper, one is not in The Doldrums when one is still in freefall, sliding down the slippery slope, very much at the mercy of the hurricane force winds of greed and deceit.” Back then, if handed a poem titled “The Plunge” with “Doldrums” as one of the main rhyme scheme words, he wouldn’t have graded the exercise better than a C- without seeing the work reach for that pause, like a child’s swing at its dizziest reach, before things turn back the other direction. Back then, Safire would not have so easily been fooled by his stockbroker friend’s delusion that the seemingly endless pitch into darkness might somehow have constituted a bit of doldrumosity by virtue of losing his bearings enough to not realize we’re all still falling.

Like, at least reach past that feathery glancing tease that touched no further than the first two definitions given in your Oxford English Dictionary. Because that would have brought you to the third definition, which very much does characterize the state my own head has been in this past day –

An intellectually non-plussed condition.

And of course, “nonplussed” being –

Brought to a nonplus or standstill; at a nonplus; perplexed, embarrassed.

Which of course points us to “nonplus” –

A state in which no more can be said or done; inability to proceed in speech or action; a state of perplexity of puzzle.

Which quite accurately describes my own head since early afternoon yesterday, with the germ of a new poem sitting in there grinning back at me like a cheshire cat, but no winds from any muse inside the horizon from any direction.

But which comes nowhere remotely close to characterizing the economic shape we’re in. No, not even when we take congressional Republicans into account, notwithstanding their pitifully bailout-worthy level of perplexity and inability to act. Constipation or catatonic stares are not signs of being in The Doldrums. The Doldrums are when you have no wind to fill your sails, not when you’ve forgotten where you’re going or how to turn the ship around.

[Footnote: And it is the “Meltdown.” Just because the president who brought it to us can’t pronounce “nuclear accident” doesn’t mean we know what the downwind fallout is doing to us.]

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Written by macheide

1 February 2009 at 4:02 pm

Posted in macheide

Zen Tracks [33] Kingston Trio: Scotch and Soda

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Zen Vision MScotch and SodaKingston TrioBest of the Kingston Trio
[2:15] * * * *

About 10 years old when I first heard this beautifully lyrical folk tune and having no exposure to any popular music beyond the small collection of Kingston Trio vinyl allowed in our seclusive home, I’ve had this one going through my head off and on for 45 years now, so it’s got itself a solid track on my Zen Vision:M. Playing it again today on Bob Shane‘s 75th birthday.

Took the Internet to introduce me to the magic trick by the same name, although there’s no connection as far as I can hear. Still can’t say how my strict parents allowed me to go around chirping about scotch and dry martini and gin and feeling high and all, but this record never saw the same treatment that Baez got over We Shall Overcome.

All I need is one of your smiles, sunshine of your eyes
Oh me oh my do I feel higher than a kite can fly
Give me lovin’, baby I feel high.

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Written by macheide

1 February 2009 at 2:42 pm

Posted in vision:m