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From The Workshop.

From: SC/Kringle Enterprises (501(c)(3) Non-Profit)

To: All Household Members Ages 4-9

Item Request/Delivery Information Form SW-2017

Thank you for your participation in the annual operations of Kringle Enterprises. It’s your continued belief in the services we provide that make what we do possible.

We have tried to respond to numerous complaints that we send out this form earlier every year by finding a balance between seasonal events. We apologize if you feel you are receiving this is too soon.

The purpose of this form is to facilitate an accurate and equitable distribution of requested items. In order to provide you maximum satisfaction we request that you please fill out this form as accurately and thoroughly as possible. If additional space is needed you may use the back of the form. Once this form is completed please use the attached sheet to list your desired items. Additional sheets are available on request or may be printed from our website (under construction).

For reasons of efficiency any and all minor infractions committed during the standard grace period of January 1st-November 23rd have been waived. Please limit your responses to the appropriate time frame.

  1. During this period have you done any of the following:

(a) Shouted

(b) Cried

(c) Pouted

The reason we ask this question is to determine whose behavior has been inappropriate or not consistent with the standard guidelines set by the recognized guardians and whose behavior has been commendable.

In order to optimize our travel arrangements to your city, township, or geographic region this question is more important than any other. We ask that you answer this question as accurately as possible and will be performing secondary reviews to ensure that it is correct.

  1. Your residence is best described as:

(a) House

(b) Apartment

(c) Trailer

(d) Other (please specify)

If you answered (a) House please answer the following additional questions. If not you can skip to question #8

  1. Does your house have a fireplace?

(a) Yes

(b) No

If you answered (a) Yes please answer the following additional questions. If not you can skip to question #8

  1. The type of fireplace your home has is:

(a) Wood-burning

(b) Gas-powered

(c) Electric*

(d) Other (please specify)

*If your home has an electric fireplace without a chimney you can skip to question #8

  1. What are the exact dimensions of your home’s chimney? Please note that if any of the items you requested exceed the specified dimensions they may not be placed in the standard delivery area but may be left elsewhere in the residence or outside.

 

  1. Is your fireplace traditionally lit during the expected delivery period?

(a) Yes

(b) No

 

If you answered (a) Yes please answer the following additional question. If not you can skip to question #8

 

  1. What time in the evening is the fire usually extinguished? For reasons of efficiency and safety we ask that you answer this question as accurately as possible.

 

  1. During what times do you expect to be asleep? In order to avoid possible conflicts resulting from chance encounters we ask that you answer this question as accurately as possible. Contrary to some reports we do not keep records of when individual customers are active and when they are dormant.

 

  1. Have you or do you plan to leave out the following during the expected delivery period:

 

(a) A glass of milk, cookies, and carrots

(b) A beer, cookies, and carrots

(c) A snifter of brandy, a pastrami sandwich (rye bread only), and carrots

(d) All of the above*

*While we try to be as fair as possible the response (d) does increase the possibility that customers will receive most of all requested items.

The final question is purely optional and is only included for informational purposes.

  1. Has anyone personally told you there is not a Santa Claus? If yes this person would best be described as:

(a) Close to your age

(b) Older than you but not a teenager

(c) A teenager

(d) An adult

Please be aware that answering this question will in no way reflect upon you although the penalties for the responsible individual may be a lump of coal, limited driving privileges or difficulty obtaining a driver’s license, or a reduced credit score.

Thank you for assisting us in maximizing our customer experience by filling out this form. We request, as always, that your behavior remain consistent with the guidelines set forth by the appropriate guardians for goodness’ sake.

 

People In Your Neighborhood.

There was a jogger coming down the street and I was immediately faced with a dilemma. Should I wave or not? On the one hand I wanted to be friendly. On the other hand he seemed very focused and I could see he had earbuds in from the white cord hanging from his ears down the front of his red jacket, which told me he was probably wearing the standard Apple earbuds which kind of annoyed me slightly because it reminds me that I apparently have unusually shaped ears. I can’t run or even walk wearing Apple earbuds because they keep falling out, but that’s another story.

There are quite a few people I’ve met in my neighborhood on my afternoon walks home from the bus. On those rare occasions when I’ve walked to the bus in the mornings I don’t meet that many, usually because it’s still dark out when I leave the house, although I can tell from the flickering lights in the houses that people are up and already have their televisions on even if they’re not out. And it seems like I pass more people out walking in the spring and fall, when the weather’s nice, than I do in the middle of either summer or winter. There’s the couple I always see out walking their Greyhounds, and there’s the woman I met because I stopped one day to talk to her dogs, and I’ve gotten to know one of my next door neighbors because she’s usually out walking her Schnauzer, and inexplicably I’ve always resisted the temptation to say, “Schnauzer? I hardly knew her!” And I just realized that I know the dogs in my neighborhood better than I know most of the people. I’ve also gotten to know my other next door neighbor quite well because one day I noticed him wearing a Doctor Who t-shirt and I commented on it and an hour and a half later my wife came looking for me. And there was also the young woman I got to know who lived a couple of blocks over and I got to know her because we rode the same bus and walked the same route part of the way home, and it turned out we worked for the same university, although she worked in bimolecular research and would occasionally wear t-shirts to work like this one:

Source: Snorg Tees

Which is absolutely fantastic and I thought if I worked in research I’d probably wear cool t-shirts too, and maybe I should anyway just because they’re apparently good conversation starters.

Anyway I wasn’t sure whether I should wave to the jogger and potentially break his concentration or just go on, but then, when he was about a hundred feet away, still too far for any kind of acknowledgment, he turned down a side street and I felt incredibly relieved.

It’s Only Natural.

There’s a curious contradiction in the classical ideal of art. On the one hand classical artists sought to celebrate the eternal, the unchanging. Their aim was to create works that would live forever. They made sculptures of gods and goddesses and ideal heroes because these individuals were immortal. On the other hand these same artists copied from nature, and nature is always changing. There is nothing fixed or immortal in nature. That’s why you may have heard the joke, “If you don’t like the weather, stick around. It’ll change.” That’s a joke people make in [fill in literally anywhere in the universe except southern California].

Of course the idea may have been to improve on nature, to capture a moment and prevent it from changing, to freeze it, since absolute zero is the one state in which nothing changes.

The desire to copy nature is why Plato, in The Republic, argued that artists have no place in a perfect society, that they are in fact dangerous. Because artists copy nature, he argued, and because the nature they see is merely a shadow of the true nature, they move us farther away from the ideal.

Anyway watching the changing weather got me thinking about that and how much I hated Plato’s view of artists when I first read it when I was young. And now that I’m older, more mature, now that I’ve read more and thought more and have more experience of the world, well, I can honestly say I hate his view of artists even more.

 

Hoofing It.

I used to walk a lot on my way to catch the bus. Since I never knew when the bus was coming I’d walk along the route–sometimes toward home, but most of the time toward downtown. I figured it was getting me closer to the oncoming bus, although there were days I’d walk more than a mile and a half and still end up waiting for the bus. Now that I think about it a mile and a half doesn’t sound like that much. I’ve hiked many miles through the woods, although usually not in search of a bus. Somehow, though, a city mile seems so much longer than a mile in the woods, especially when cars are rushing by. Somehow other people moving at such high speeds really puts things in perspective.

When other people are waiting at the bus stop it also makes me wonder what they think of me just passing by, and sometimes I want to stop and explain that it’s nothing to do with them; it’s just that rather than sit silently with them at a bus stop I’d rather continue walking silently down the street, and hopefully there’ll still be a seat for them when they get on the bus.

Lately though I’ve managed to time my arrival at the bus stop so that I spend only a few minutes waiting. This is mainly thanks to the MTA app. I’ve sung its praises before but it’s kind of a mixed blessing, especially now that the weather is getting cooler. All that walking was good exercise and on cold days it helped warm me up.  And then the other day, after waiting an unusually long time, I checked it.

Since there were no alerts I had no idea why the bus was running almost half an hour late, but the one thing I did know was that it was time to start walking.

Forgive Them Their Trespasses.

Source: Google Maps

“Or does it explode?”

Langston Hughes, Harlem

There’s a stretch of Nashville’s Charlotte Avenue, near Richland Park, that’s undergone tremendous transformation in the past few years. It’s gone from empty buildings and slightly seedy businesses to more upscale restaurants and apartments. Fortunately some of the older and friendly places—like Bobby’s Dairy Dip and Headquarters Coffee Shop—have stayed around, for now at least, but that’s another story.

At the center of it, though, is the old Madison Mill industrial complex. Officially vacant since 2015 I think it was stripped bare more than a decade ago. Plans to turn it into apartments and businesses have been made then scrapped, and it’s been popular with graffiti artists. I’ve collected quite a bit there, and I wish I’d collected more.

All the graffiti, at least what’s visible from the street, and probably all that’s inside too, has been painted over. The windows have been taken out and in the last week there have been signs of activity. Madison Mill, it seems, is about to be demolished.

The graffiti that was there is gone, but what will happen to the artists that used it? Often when I look at graffiti I imagine the person who created it. I imagine someone so desperate to express something they were willing to take the risk of being arrested, or worse. For some art is a hobby. For some it’s a compulsion.

What happens to them when they have no place to go?

Before it explodes here’s some of the graffiti I collected at the Madison Mill. Some of it shows real skill.

 

 

Alternative Thanksgiving.

It has been celebrated as a federal holiday every year since 1863, when, during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed a national day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens,” to be celebrated on the last Thursday in November.

Wikipedia

November 25th, 1864

It was even worse than last year. I know every time my family gets together we fall into certain patterns, but that never makes it easier. This time it was even worse because just getting to my parents’ house was such a pain. I thought I’d carriagepool with my younger brother and his wife, but they went up early so that fell through. Then I thought I’d beat the traffic by setting out at dawn, which was such a great idea everybody else in Richmond had it at the same time and the horses were nose to tail, stop and trot, for miles. Finally I got there a little after ten in the morning and my older sister came out already holding a glass of blackberry wine and when she hugged me I could tell it wasn’t her first one. She asked me how things were going and then didn’t wait for an answer and ran back into the house to tell everyone I was there.

I should have known I’d be walking into an argument in the foyer, the way my family is. It’s just what it was about that threw me. My kid brother had this crazy idea for a new way to cook a turkey, leaving the feathers still on and roasting it in the coals of a fire. Well, it sounded pretty stupid to me, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that the neighbors tried the same thing last year and burned down their stable. But I didn’t want to side with my father either. So I said it had been a long trip and I needed to visit the outhouse and slipped out. Well, there was a line at the outhouse: two of my nieces, three cousins, all four of my brothers, and my sister was already in there getting rid of some of that blackberry wine. So I went back inside to see what was going on.

In the parlor my mother was putting together some kind of monstrosity with dead leaves and dried berries that she said she was going to put in the middle of the table.

“Where’s the food going to go?” I asked.

“Well, we’ll move it before we eat.”

I was going to ask why she’d bother to put it in the middle of the table if she was just going to move it again but decided against having that discussion, so instead I sat down and leafed through a broadsheet that was handy.

“The other men are organizing a game,” she said. “It’s some new sport called foot-ball. You should go and join them.”

Well, she knows I’ve never been athletic, but when I protested she got put out with me and said, “It’s your Uncle Wilkes’s idea. You know you’ve always been his favorite. You really should go and do it just to please him.”

FINE.

Well, when I came back in my sister just cackled and toasted me with another glass of blackberry wine. All my mother could say was “Don’t get any blood on the carpet,” and my older brother kept telling me to stop being a sissy and just put some salve on it. Then Aunt Gerda said pinch the back of my neck and tilt my head forward and Uncle Wilkes said no, put pressure between the eyes and lean back, and then my cousins got into it so there had to be a family brawl about that. A day later and I’m still bleeding. So much for the salve.

Then I tried to head off another argument about who’d have to chaperone the kids’ table by volunteering, but my father cut that off.

“No, no, I want John seated here on my left. After I sent him to that fancy and very expensive school so he could waste his time studying the dramatic arts and oratory he should be well-equipped to deliver the traditional Booth family prayer of thanks.”

Traditional since last year, he means. Then my kid brother kicked me in the shins which I know was his way of saying “Don’t start anything”. I kicked him twice as hard in the shins which was my way of saying, “I wasn’t going to,” and then kicked him again to say, “Hurts, don’t it?”

All this might have been a little more bearable if my sister had let me have some of the blackberry wine.

I swear I’m going to get that Lincoln for making us do this.

Barking Up The Wrong Phone.

The other day when I came home my dogs were barking, but taking my shoes off would have to wait because our real dogs were barking and needed to go out. They usually bark when I come home; I like to think this is because they’re excited and happy I’m home. Several years ago my wife and I went to see a stage production of 101 Dalmatians that featured some real Dalmatians, and also some actors in Dalmatian costumes. Instead of barking the actors would yell “HEY! HEY! HEY!” and this is what I often think our dogs are saying when they’re barking, although they’re also quite capable of intelligent conversation, but that’s another story.

Anyway I had a dog on a leash in one hand and my phone in the other and decided to send my wife a text to let her know I was home safe and sound. And because I’m a little goofy, especially after a day at work, I asked my phone to send her the message, “I’m home with the barking bow wows.” And this is the preview message that popped up:

Obviously this was my fault. I’ve given my phone a British accent and occasionally this causes some confusion. For instance when I’m dictating a message I can’t end a sentence with “period” or it will spell out the word “period”. I have to say “full stop”. So I tried again.

Again, obviously my fault. I think I stumbled as I was talking. Third time’s a charm.

Powerhouse was a short-lived television show produced by PBS in 1982 about a plucky little community center and the diverse young people who frequent it. It also ran on Nickelodeon back in the network’s early days, and the cast included a very young pre-SNL Ana Gasteyer. ” I was not yet ready to give up.

No clue where this came from, although “Powerhouse” is also the name of an instrumental composition used in many Warner Brothers cartoons. None of this has anything to do with the message I was trying to send, but, hey, that was a nice little diversion. I was determined, though, that persistence would pay off.

It would have to do.

Riding The Route: #3.

As part of my plan to ride every Nashville MTA route I recently hopped on the #3 bus, which is easy because it passes near my office. The #3 bus goes down West End, one of the city’s major thoroughfares, and it shares most of the route with the #5 bus, so you’d think buses are frequent. And you’d be absolutely wrong. My dentist’s office is also near West End and there have been several times that I’ve set out for an appointment thinking I’ll catch the bus and ride the dozen or so blocks and arrive early, only to end up walking the whole distance without ever seeing a single bus and also five minutes late.

West End passes by Centennial Park, home of the Parthenon and lots of events. It was where the summer Australia Festival used to happen before its organizers moved away. A few blocks and across the bridge over I-440 is Elmington Park where the summer Australia Festival used to happen before it moved to Centennial Park. Elmington Park was described by the Nashville Scene as “basically a huge field that dips into a ditch, with good parking”, but it’s a nice, big, open space that’s popular with food trucks.

Farther down, past where West End turns into Harding Pike, because sprawl has welded several of Nashville’s streets together without changing their names, the #3 takes a sharp right turn onto White Bridge Road, and that’s where it diverges from the #5. Back when I first started riding the buses regularly, before they got fancy digital displays, this was a source of confusion even among drivers. Once I got on a bus on West End, asked the driver if he was going down White Bridge Road, he said yes, then, three blocks later–I’m not kidding–stopped the bus and said, “Oh, wait, I’m not.” Fortunately I was still able to get out and catch the right bus.

And that got me thinking on this trip. Because West End is one of the main thoroughfares there’s a lot of stuff. You can stop almost anywhere and there are restaurants, hotels, parks. And that’s true of White Bridge Road too. Well, there aren’t any parks along there, or hotels, but there are plenty of restaurants, businesses, and homes and apartments. There are the adjacent campuses of Nashville State Community College and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology and Nashville Technical School. There’s a funky little place that was an aquarium and fish store for several years, then a porn shop, and now it’s a psychic. The route ends near Fat Mo’s Burgers.

There’s been a lot of debate and discussion about how to improve Nashville’s public transportation and how to encourage more people to use it. Here’s an idea: add a few more buses on the #3 route to speed up service. There’s a lot of stuff along the route, so make it easier for people to get there. And make sure the drivers know where they’re going.

 

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