July 18th, 2014 by Toby T
I was pondering this week that the slang terms “frou frou,” “hoity toity,” and “chi chi,” all pretty much mean the same thing, all follow a consistent pattern, while all not quite being words. They have a certain onomatopoeic feel to them, but they’re not actually onomatopoeia.
I tried to get some insight from God on the subject, but he just said that following the minutiae of the evolution of English slang was just too too much to expect of him.
July 11th, 2014 by Toby T
I don’t know if you’ve noticed but for a few months now a sort of corporate street fight has been going on between Hachette Publishing and Amazon. I’m not going to actually take sides here, though I’m definitely on one side over the other, based on the publicly available information. God pretty much refuses to discuss the situation at all, let alone take a side.
What I do want to talk about though is the further devolution of the language that I’m seeing in this fight. Time and time again, I’m seeing articles that talk about Amazon’s contribution to the publishing ecosystem citing how valuable it was that they invented the Kindle.
And that’s what angers me. I hold inventing things in very high regard. Inventors, to my thinking, are probably the pinnacle of the human species.
The Kindle was not “invented.”
To invent something there has to be a spark. There has to be inspiration and a new way of seeing things or of doing things; there has to be uncharted territory, a path that isn’t visible. What was unclear with the Kindle was whether or not there was money to be made. It was unclear if the product could succeed. But it was never unclear if it could be made.
And don’t think I’m trying to put down the engineers that created the Kindle, engineering is noble and important, but creation, well creation is a pretty god-like ability. So full props to the engineers who created the Kindle, but my hat’s off to the inventors out there. May they never rest, never settle, and always love what they’re doing.
June 27th, 2014 by Toby T
This week I’ve been attending Frameline, San Francisco’s LGBTQ film festival. Not surprisingly there’s been a number of coming of age stories. After one of these God leaned over to me and asked if I knew the first sign of someone becoming an adult. I asked if it had anything to do with facial hair and she chuckled a little. But then she got serious and told me it usually was when a teenager started talking about not being ready to be an adult. Especially after years of telling their parents that they were old enough to be treated like one.
It’s amazing what happens in people’s minds when fantasy starts having to confront the real world.
June 20th, 2014 by Toby T
One by one the things that have always set me apart from “normal” people are becoming either things that people don’t care about or things that they view in a positive light.
I was a geek growing up. I read Science Fiction and Fantasy from the time I could read. When I was in what was then called Junior High and is now called Middle School, I read books on computers and microprocessors; and this at a time when there wasn’t yet a pocket calculator, let alone a home computer. I was also gay, but I’ve been, I suppose, lucky enough that I’ve always “passed” for straight, so I didn’t get called faggot more than any other random outcast of my age, though I didn’t know it at the time. I felt that difference, though, even if I didn’t show it. At first I just noticed that I didn’t have the attraction to girls that I was supposed to and then later, a fair amount later actually, I realized what that meant and then spent years slowly coming to terms with it.
But now, geek is the new black; it’s cool, at least if you’re successful at it. Science Fiction and Fantasy have won at the movies, at least when it comes to box office gross if not always when it comes to critical acclaim. And being gay, while not exactly being celebrated is at least becoming not only accepted but well, not championed, but defended, defended by those whose only skin in the game is having a friend or a relative or, increasingly, by those who are just being decent human beings.
I asked God if I was maybe just born a little too soon. She said that it isn’t always pleasant being on the front of the spear, but that it can make the victories seem a little more sweet. And she asked me if I’d really rather have missed it, missed the interesting times, missed the setbacks and advances, missed the transitions and transformations? I didn’t have to think about it for long. I wouldn’t be me if I hadn’t been born just exactly when I was, and I like who I am. So, yeah, I was born just exactly when I should have been. I hope you were too.
June 13th, 2014 by Toby T
God was with me today when I went driving past a vineyard, so I asked him, if grape juice spoils and becomes wine, and wine spoils and becomes vinegar, when vinegar spoils, what does it become? He threatened to send me to bed without supper, but the trick was on him, because I’d already eaten.
June 6th, 2014 by Toby T
I was complaining to God today about a type of person that I seem to find myself behind more and more often of late. This would be a person that makes sure they’re at the front of the pack when we’re queueing up but then when the pack is released, instead of rushing forward with the urgency their position implies they sort of saunter forward, ambling along without a care.
For example, my station is approaching when I’m riding the train on my way home from work, I move into the area near the door but the train isn’t too crowded so I leave plenty of space between me and the other riders. Another rider comes up and threads his or her way through the crowd to get right up to the door. The train stops, the door opens, everyone behind this person surges forward anxious to get where they’re going, but the person in front steps cautiously forward, mind you at an angle so that even though the doorway is two people wide, still no one can slip past them. Then they proceed hesitantly forward, always looking like they’re about to move both to the right and the left. If you find it hard to imagine how someone can look like they’re about to go two directions at once, just picture someone looking interestedly to one side while slowly drifting to the other, and then suddenly drifting back in the direction they are looking just as you move to go around them, anticipating how far you need move to clear them by analyzing the speed of their drift, but being drawn up short when the drift changes.
If I seem like I’ve given this too much thought, well, there’s plenty of time to think when you’re stuck behind someone moving at a turtle’s pace. And speaking of turtles, that’s what God brought up in answer to my complaint. She told me that these are people that embraced the story of The Tortoise and the Hare, but who took the wrong lesson from it. instead of learning that the hare threw away his chance to win by his cockiness and that the tortoise won by staying on task, they took to heart the notion that the tortoise won not despite being slow but because of it.
May 30th, 2014 by Toby T
I stayed in a hotel last week where the soap was “sugared citrus.” I’ve got a bar of “chocolate” soap with cocoa nibs at home that was given to me at a baby shower. My shampoos have had fruit in them for years and other household cleaners have been boasting about the “power” of lemons for as long as I can remember.
God is trying to convince me, even as I type this, that cleaning products aren’t behind the epidemic of obesity in America, but I’m not buying it. Now where can I find some reduced calorie facial scrub?