Saturday, September 16, 2006

My Middle Name is "Discount"

Well, as usual, I’m way behind. I well understand why most blogs don’t last more than two weeks. The first time you blog.. “WOW!! I DID it… I’m on the INTERNET”. The second entry is a little less invigorating, and the third downright rationally calm. By the second week, a case of severe procrastination sets in (“ I’ll do it after dinner”, “It can wait till I finish watching HOUSE”, or “Jeez it’s late and I should write, but I have that early call tomorrow morning”) and thus, by week three, its simply a modestly reverberating glow, a pulse that Almost feels good; until you look on your Site, see how paltry your contributions have been, and realize that prime-time tv, a good novel, or even Sudoku might be for You, but that a Blog just requires too much energy. I know that most newspeople who write blogs are, at the very least, used to writing on a regular basis: even TV reporters write down what they say ahead of time (you thought it was the 24 year old techie in the control room, the one with the four different pizza stains on his t- shirt, who wrote that stuff?) so , newsies are, generally speaking, a good breed to blog. Some even have Blobbing skills for it (you know, make stuff up, never check sources, unleash on anyone you want because, hey, it’s the Internet) which make the work go quickly.

But for the rest of us, those who aspire to annoy people with our thoughts and perceptions, still have to just sit down at the keys, and start plunking. My original idea for a Burnett Blob (which isn’t to say OUR originally Joint idea.. that’s another story) was inspired by the prescient and observant Briton who chronicled life in the US for the last half of the last century probably as well as anyone did: Alistar Cooke. We gave them Murrow before and during the war, and they reciprocated with Cooke in 1946. Whether or not it was the final vestige of Lend-Lease, I don’t know. But surely no country ever received a better gift than the man who wrote and broadcast “Letter from America” every Wednesday for nearly 60 years. Each week he would ponder what had gone on in politics, culture, and that weird thing we called the American Way of Life, and put together some of the most wonderful audio poems that any listener ever had the joy to hear. It wasn’t your usual “I’m here, I’m Live, I’m clueless” broadcast: he would typically start with something that might of happened that week, and over the course of 15 minutes, hopscotch to 3 or 4 other events, tying them in so brilliantly, so smartly, that in the end, you just expected it to all make sense. He was a gift, and one to be studied – and happily is found on the BBC site in their online archives ( He certainly inspired me to always think not only of the obvious, but those things just below the surface which shed more light on the subject than all of the up-front, can’t wait to tell ya, pieces which pass for news today.

So, with that in mind, I hope Alistair, if he’s reading the blob, will forgive my errant behaviour in the last couple of weeks. I never find the excuse “I’m so busy” to be a valid one, so I won’t even TRY that one. I’ll just try “writer’s cramp” and see if that works. It’s not that I didn’t have an eventful week; indeed, many things cool happened this week. Not the least of which was my exercising of one of the new rituals of our generation. Last week, as careful readers will recall, I achieved my 60th birthday. A number which takes some getting used to, when you are the one getting used to it. Because I am planning to meet Iris next week in Paris, and then head south to Bordeaux, I needed to buy train tickets. Bobbsie, our Bordeaux resident (and Emersonian – Iris’ class) has already told us where to buy the best sandwiches at the Gare Montparnasse before taking the TGV south. But I did want those tickets. It’s doubly annoying when traveling abroad to NOT get your tickets when you need them, so I carefully booked ahead on the SNCF website, thankful for the little icons which occasionally filled in bits of information which I couldn’t understand from text alone. When it came time to pay it asked which class of ticket (well, why not First? For a change). Then whether or not there were any Special fares applicable. And that was The Moment. Student fares, “Normal Fares” and… Seniors. In France, at least on the railroads, once you pass 59, you are in Special Fare Hog Heaven (or Prix Exceptionelle de Cochons en Ciel). Together the two tickets in 1st class were about what a normal ticket would be in 2eme. But it made me realize that now I must practice that annoying habit that all AARP active members so take to heart. Playing on their age as an advantage in life. Hey, maybe I can move to the front of an Oval Office Pool for a pic of the President and the visiting Premier. Or, at the ice Rink, when I go for pickup hockey, demand that little twirp to check his Senior Pickup Hockey Rate Card for a special deal. Who knows where it could lead? An entire new chapter of things to do. For years I ordered of the right side of the menu, usually, I’ll admit, near the top half. Now I have a million other things to factor into my daily adventures, knowing that lurking just below the surface are 10% off deals, all you can eat if you CAN eat Senior Specials, and, no doubt, special rates on the vibrating beds in small motels in Missouri. Like our late & wonderful dog Earnest, who looked at leashed walks as opportunities to meet and be petted by some of the millions of people he hadn’t met yet, I now look forward to a reinvigorated assault on the discounts of the world, knowing that they are rightfully mine. Thanks Alistair. We’re just sayin’ David

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