The Introducer

Thank you! Thank you very much. You're a great audience. First and foremost, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you for braving the weather and coming out tonight. As a small token of our appreciation, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to you at this time one of my favorite singers, and I hope one of yours, who has agreed to favor us with a song. And so, without further ado, let's put our hands together and give a warm welcome to someone who needs no introduction: [Fill in name here]!

The Politician

"Tell us, Senator—how will the service cuts you voted for affect the poor."

"I just want to say that this great nation was founded on the principles of freedom, democracy, and opportunity for all.  The right of everyone to the pursuit of happiness without interference from Big Government is undeniable to every citizen, whether rich or poor, whether young or old, regardless of race, creed, or color.  Our elected leaders are reaching out to the indigent, the neglected, and the down-trodden that are trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps, trying to make something of their lives and to stand tall and proud on their own two feet.  In this day and age there is an on-going need for each and every one of us to come together in the marketplace of ideas to find a way to a brighter future, ensuring every man, woman and child the right to freedom from fear and want, and a return to the traditional values of decency and fair play.  Yes, this is an era of tremendous hope, promise, and opportunity for our great nation, and I am proud to have been a part of it."

The Wine Critic

This wine is more elegant than powerful; it is symmetrical and harmonious. Multi-layers of earth and marjoram combine with a dash of pepper as an overture. Silky and well-paved tannins grip firmly with the acid. An undertone of cassis emerges to the front of the pallet. Mineral subtleties marry playfully and graciously with the thyme nuances.  The wine is a bit shy but finds some bass notes of oak.   Its finish has good length but is a bit one dimensional.  However, there is a lot of wisdom in this wine.

The Art Critic

This painting experiments with an interrogation of the intertextuality of color. Its rigorously geometric substrate contests with an exuberant chromic playfulness subtending an almost musical energy of chromatic abstraction. Objective correlatives are deconstructed through the interplay of form and content, line and fill, with a fluency reminiscent of the late, early Matisse.

The Stream-of-Consciousness Talker

Most of the time, the best way to get into Boston is by the Turnpike, unless it's morning rush-hour, in which case you probably want to go up to Route 2, which is really a prettier drive anyway and actually includes the Mohawk Trail at it's western end that links up with New York state, which is beautiful in it's own right, with the Adirondacks and lakes region and all, but it can get sticky in the winter with all the snow around the Great Lakes—especially Buffalo, which I'd guess must be the snow capital of the East, getting typically 120 inches in a "good" winter, although I've heard of greater records being set in Colorado, where my brother works at a ski resort and has seen as much as 200 inches! in one season, but he is probably going to quit next year because of the change in management—more hours with less pay and fewer staff that express appreciation for your work, like his old boss that actually took him out to dinner at a really fine restaurant at the close of the season to thank him for the way he showed responsibility and courtesy, although the food the restaurant served him wasn't really all that good, which people say is typical—the quality is inconsistent—and seems to be a trend in restaurants lately, where they get a good reputation and then rest on their laurels—cheapening the product and expecting to get the same thing for it, which is exactly what Nabisco did with its Honey Grahams, reducing the package from 16 ounces to 14.4 ounces but at the same time actually increasing the price from $2.37 to $2.84 a box! which is why I'm seriously considering boycotting the product, even though I've had graham crackers and milk for breakfast every morning for 43 years—a breakfast idea I got from my father—and it really isn't tasty useless it's Nabisco Honey Grahams, although I've recently started to try Nabisco Ritz Crackers in milk, which is more salty than sweet, but really not a bad compromise, although the Atkins diet would probably say that neither choice is very good for you, which I personally think is a lot of nonsense, especially because of what it's doing to the bread industry, which is how my sister makes her living, but she may have to go into a whole nother line now because of dwindling business, probably leaving the baking industry altogether (although it's her favorite activity) and go into something like a bed-and-breakfast, which we've tried ourselves and really enjoyed because it's almost like traveling except that you get to stay at home and meet people from all over the world—really interesting people from places like California, Germany, and the Philippines—and there's really no worry about being robbed or anything like that (which is the first thing friends asked about when we decided to do a bed and breakfast) because you end up feeling really close to your guests—hugging at the end of their stay and promising to visit them—although I wouldn't trust just everybody, like picking up strangers that are hitchhiking because of all the stories you hear about someone trying to be nice and then getting mugged or something, which seems to be getting worse nowadays with all the immigrants that can't speak English, or just barely, like the attendants at convenience stores and taxi cab drivers, who drive like maniacs, like the last time we were in New York City and had to get from Times Square to JFK...

 The Nostalgic Complainer

The world is going to hell in a hand basket.  People nowadays are lazy, irresponsible, inconsiderate, and immoral. The marriage vow means nothing, and mothers don't stay at home where they belong to raise their children properly. Parents don't discipline their kids, so-called educators don't care, inept government officials get into office because nobody takes the responsibility to vote, exploitative megacorporations are just out for a profit, and wishy-washy churches accommodate anything. Why can't we have a world like when I was a kid, when people took pride in their work, kids showed respect for their elders, neighbors knew each other and kept the neighborhood safe, the dollar was sound and went a long way, and teachers and ministers taught you right from wrong?  The world is going to hell in a hand basket.

Dickensian Writing

An except from Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens:

"Sole master and proprietor of one of these effigies—of that which might be called, familiarly, the woodenest—of that which thrust itself out above the pavement, right leg foremost, with a suavity the least endurable, and had the shoe buckles and flapped waistcoat the least reconcileable to human reason, and bore at its right eye the most offensively disproportionate piece of machinery—sole master and proprietor of the midshipman, and proud of him too, an elderly gentleman in a Welsh wig had paid house-rent taxes, and dues, for more years than many a full-grown midshipman of flesh and blood has numbered in his life; and midshipmen who have attained a pretty green old age, have not been wanting in the English navy."

adj. written in an artificial or an excessively elaborate, wordy style


The lacings of our democracy are knotted and as we bend our nails picking at them, our favorite entertainment seems to be murder mysteries, true crime dramas or concussive sports. Baseball bows to football and comedies to homicidal procedurals. As localities meld into a technological alloy, we individualize ourselves with Tai Chi performed to Dixieland, or gym workouts preceded by Buddhist meditation. More perhaps than ever before, we fear we live on borrowed time. Not just environmentalists foreseeing an ecological collapse, but traditionalists of a dozen sorts who sense alarums of cultural disillusion, infrastructure decay and Ponzi-scheme financing.

Murder and its motives, whether revenge or greed, are so down to earth they seem refreshing to come home to, like a dog or cat you can actually fondle, not tweet or text. Schadenfreude is a condiment to many a couch potato’s evening pleasure — the righteous snoop. Oh, the body dumped in a swamp: who did this? Minimal gore or grief is depicted however, because, on screen or in print, this is a bedtime tale. The genre, so pronounced on the air waves now, has been ubiquitous since Edgar Allan Poe. Not just brawny brutes have liked unlawful killing, but schoolteachers, and other bookish folk with a pet beside their bed. You might think murder would be scary for somebody alone, but the formulas help. Nothing uncouth, no wailing or misery. Instead, crossword-like crime, with endearingly unlikely characters, amateurs outfoxing the stodgy dicks. Politesse cauterizes the pain.

Okay, hawk-eyed, yet why a century of best-selling assassin yarns? Is it our fear of death? I should confess that, as with whiskey, I’ve never been bit by the bug. Yet certainly when I’ve heard of murders afflicting a friend of a friend or my neighborhood, I want the details, if only for my own protection. Obviously murder in reality is not like these entertainments suggest, but why do we want to watch the sudden criminal death of other people? This addictive drip, drip, drip of evil?

But we love them. Red light districts, pro wrestling, cornering a market for a “killing,” or sport hunting; then gut the deer. Watch the fighter or a ballcarrier crumble, crumple, lie there. We don’t stick our thumb up or down for the gladiator to be spared or killed, but the mentality is the same.

I’ve crawled under machine gun fire, then bayoneted dummies in my Army training. That was for credentialed killing however, and ideal but we don’t just do it in the military: also on the couch. The TV delights in gunfights, sniper fire, carnage-strewn scenarios, until the long arm of the law snaps handcuffs on the miscreant.

After work we relax in bed with a murder story on screen or in a book, taboos violated for our delectation. Women flaunting their curvatures is a no-no not just in the Muslim world but to churchmen here as well, which makes revealing costumes all the more titillating. But it’s no conundrum why sex excites us; the perpetuation of the species depends upon it. Massacre, on the other hand, kills people, cuts the population and terrifies the innocent. Does the rebel, the malcontent in us rejoice? Whack ‘em, snuff ‘em, one less person around and the perpetrator in shackles.

Schadenfreude, indeed.

GROWING REGRET By Daniel Hinkley 

As I have this year regretfully and unilaterally invaded my fifth decade of living, I have noticed here and there the abrupt appearance of bodily bulges. Upon inspection, I find these to be pocketfuls of gathered regrets, those disappointing things accumulated over the years rooted in some deed done or left undone, at last manifesting in my ripening age. My life thus far, not remorsefully in the least, has been fed and nurtured by a garden in one form or another. And though I too have sizeable swellings of social and personal shoulda couldas, the bulk of these regrets have been gleaned from the dirt or the garden above. 

I possess a voluminous regret for believing in color. Young gardeners are impressionable and pure and believe that one must be faithful to the cause and bow to the prophets, who subscribe to color, to rise respectfully within this craft of gardening. Once elevated, they too can cattily criticize the colors in other gardens, most of which are young. It was a waste of my time. Color­ist gardens for the sake of effect without good horticulture, as many are, are simple and shallow. It is using pigment rather than plants, adjective rather than noun, forcing drama rather than creating dialogue between plant and space. 

I once considered combining a living animal with a plant in my garden. It was an epiphany. Our sweet fat cat had beautiful black hair with a marbling of taw­ny brown throughout her coat. She looked simply swell when resting amongst our patch of black lily turf in our back yard, the ebony colored foliage of this plant resounding as a superb background to felinaceous fur. The manure mulch was reflected handsomely in her coat's interlacings of chocolate. I deliberated ways to keep this sweet animal in exactly that place during social events. I am sorry for the thoughts, thoughts that are mixed with the awareness that I really never was very talented in my attempts to create a colorist garden and the re­grets of my inability to concede this shortcoming with grace. 

I regret that I did not learn the contentment of making other gardeners feel bad about themselves earlier in my career. Through this, one becomes a better gardener and, thusly, a better person. For instance, Meconopsis, the Blue Himalayan Poppy, the holy grail. Gardeners in the Pacific Northwest are amongst the chosen few in North America that can bring these jealously blue poppies to fruition in our gardens. That fact alone is a prompt to plant more than we ever should. 

I have many horticulturally induced friends from the deep South and Southeast and Southwest who cannot possibly grow Meconopsis. When they visit us in early summer, just when the flocks of Meconopsis are at their finest, I wait until the western light has winged below the limbs of Douglas Firs in our woodland. Then, with glasses of wine in hand—a reasonable and fruity Chablis.

I suggest a saunter through the garden, with the endpoint, known only to me, being my motherlode of blue envy. In this form of botanical S&Meconopsis, it is important that you personally do not notice your cerulean drifts before your, ahh, participants. When they do at last, you must then stoop down and extract a handful of Meconopsis seedlings from the bed, discard them on the path and step on them, while declaring in as serious a tone as you can muster, "These Meconopsis are SO weedy." It makes you feel warm inside. 

We all want something thriving in our gardens that should not be there. While indeed it is a boring thing to choose too conservatively the palette of plants you wish to cultivate, and push the envelope in regard to diversity, it is quite easy to be tempted to choose plants well outside of zonal realities. There are certain plants that simply do not like the perpetual coolness of our climate. They are the plants that march in place while all others sally forth. They diminish in size while others inflate. They are at first ugly and then they die. I wish I might have become more sensitive to the plight of these plants so abused in my garden, but it probably would not have made much difference. One benign winter and you watch adventurous spirits sprout like cress. Two consecutive mild winters, new chapters of the Hardy Citrus Society begin to appear in the Greater Puget Sound; after the third, just prior to a full-boar Arctic outbreak, our landscapes have morphed into a Bacardi Dark ad. I have been sorrowfully and repeatedly sucked into the zonal bending vortex of our mostly mild-mannered but regu­larly bitchy climate. After the freeze thaws, the garden melts and I feel a rather large lump forming directly behind my wallet. 

In my raincoat pocket are swelling the apologies for believing that I might have gracefully pruned my exquisite specimen of Japanese Maple, coaxing forth its superb, inherent silhouette, all while listening to the Mariners play at Yankee Stadium on my headset. 

"Here we go! Ichiro on third, Boonie on second, top of the ninth, nobody out, and here comes Edgar!" 

I lift my pruning saw in a Zen-like trance. I am surgeon. I am artist. I am Ichiro. 

"My Oh My, this is a whole new ball game, and maybe a whole new series!"

I stretch my saw straight out to the tree while adjusting the sleeve of my raincoat at the right shoulder.

"Here comes the first pitch from Rivera and Edgar belts it hard up the middle." 

I begin sawing really fast, lost in the zone. 

"Jeter leaps high to his left and makes an UNBELIEVABLE catch, he fires the ball toward Posada at home, he's GOT Ichiro, Boonie towards third, Posada struggles to stand and fires to Aaron Boone, Boonie dives in head first. He got him, he got him, Boonie's out by Aaron Boone. Holy Cow. UNBELIEVABLE THE MARINERS HAVE BEEN TRIPLED OUT. THE GAME IS OVER!" , 

My Mariners. My tree. My oh my. 

I believe in getting even. And more so, my regrets for not doing so more often is found stashed in innumerable pockets. My gardening friends in Vermont for example,. insisted that I take a division of Mentha buddleifolium 'Variegatum' when I visited them three years ago. "It is very good value," I was told in a pretentious and potty voice. It was also a very generous division, a transaction that should have been flagged as suspicious from the start. It grew well in my garden the first year. The second, we clocked it weaving the border; at 5 miles/hour. Over the course of a month, as I meticulously chivvied and unearthed each warp and woof of root, I mentally wrote the note attending the care package I would send my friends. "Dear Boys," I would ultimately write, "we have come to simply adore the frilly texture and undaunted courage of the plant I am sending along. It is of particularly good caliber." Lamentably, I derive exceptional pleasure in picturing their garden awash in the filigreed emerald green of horsetail. 

I am remorseful that for as many years as I have been making gardens I remain incapable of spacing my prepubescent plants in the garden with their ultimate size at maturity in mind. These are big regrets and add many notches to the belt. It is not as if I don't participate in a conversation with myself as I am placing the pots before digging the holes. We generally have a pretty good row with one another. I lose. Four-inch pots of infantile perennials or shrubs look unconditionally ludicrous spaced six feet apart. Impatience and the desire to possess a prideful thing after a week's work prevails. In late April, a warm rain soaks the ground and within minutes plants swell faster than a dieter being let off the Atkins bus in front of a Cinnabun Factory Outlet. The borders are annexed by steroidal specimens assuming the graces of a 1960s East German Olympic woman's track team. It is an opprobrious action fundamental to the most shameful of my regrets; impatience. 

I have never raised children other than several endearing dogs whom, in my mind, resemble tolerably well-behaved children with cold noses. I could not imagine wishing away the puppy-ness of my dogs, so I can only assume that most parents feel quite the same about their brood except perhaps during their second year. So why is that we wish away the youngness of our gardens? In a wink, the seedlings we coddle are already trees and the small divisions of perennials fill the void and puerile vines mature and secure the arbor. There is no revisiting the childlike garden short of moving and starting it once again, itself unthinkable as we too are no longer youthful but bloated with years and many regrets. 

Yet it is exactly this that I will do, once again, as I strive to make another gar­den and make it the most beautiful garden in the world. I will again scribble my passion upon a canvas of open ground, and stand with a presidentially dazed expression on my face, a gallon pot under my arm, revolving like the human lighthouse, looking for the very best place to tuck it in the ground. As I do, I will reflect on those nascent days of my first garden and the bosom of guilt that would blossom in me for having done just that, retreating indoors at dark, mentally exhausted and feeling as if I had accomplished nothing at all. In retrospect, those were my most productive moments. My garden was in fact planted through the moments that I had believed to have been lost. 

So I will not regret these moments again ever, as I attempt, in my mind, to psychically create the most precise of color combinations, with plants too tender, too aggressive, planted too close together from friends too generous while listening to the Mariners play on my headset. And with each pot that I place in the earth, I will extract a few regrets from my pockets stuffed here and there.

The Cutesy Menu


McDonald's Cutesy Cup

Burger King's Response:

D'Angelo's reponse:


Academic Obfuscation
(The academic imperative to describe something without using examples.)

An anacoluthon [from the Greek, anakolouthon, from an-: 'not' + akolouthos: 'following'.] is a rhetorical device that can be loosely defined as a change of syntax within a sentence. More specifically, anacoluthons (or "anacolutha") are created when a sentence abruptly changes from one structure to another. Grammatically, anacoluthon is an error; however, in rhetoric it is a figure that shows excitement, confusion, or laziness. In poetics it is sometimes used in dramatic monologues and in verse drama. In prose, anacoluthon is often used in stream of consciousness writing, such as that of James Joyce, because it is characteristic of informal human thought.
    In its most restrictive meaning, anacoluthon requires that the introductory elements of a sentence lack a proper object or complement. For example, if the beginning of a sentence sets up a subject and verb, but then the sentence changes its structure so that no direct object is given, the result is anacoluthon. Essentially, it requires a change of subject or verb from the stated to an implied term. The sentence must be "without completion" (literally what "anacoluthon" means). A sentence that lacks a head, that supplies instead the complement or object without subject, is anapodoton.
    As a figure, anacoluthon directs a reader's attention, especially in poetry, to the syntax itself and highlights the mechanics of the meaning rather than the object of the meaning. It can, therefore, be a distancing technique in some poetry.

A couple anacoluthon examples make all the difference:

"I will have such revenges on you both,
That all the world shall—I will do such things,
What they are, yet I know not."

                 (William Shakespeare, King Lear)

"It makes me want to—I don't want to see you again."


Side Effects of Chantix
(actual —I didn't make these up)

    Some people have had changes in behavior, hostility, agitation, depressed mood, suicidal thoughts or actions while using CHANTIX to help them quit smoking. If you, your family, or caregiver notice agitation, hostility, depression, or changes in behavior, thinking, or mood that are not typical for you, or you develop suicidal thoughts or actions, anxiety, panic, aggression, anger, mania, abnormal sensations, hallucinations, paranoia, or confusion, stop taking CHANTIX and call your doctor right away. Also tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems before taking CHANTIX, as these symptoms may worsen while taking CHANTIX.
    Some people can have serious skin reactions while taking CHANTIX, some of which can become life-threatening. These can include rash, swelling, redness, and peeling of the skin. Some people can have allergic reactions to CHANTIX, some of which can be life-threatening and include: swelling of the face, mouth, and throat that can cause trouble breathing. If you have these symptoms or have a rash with peeling skin or blisters in your mouth, stop taking CHANTIX and get medical attention right away.
    The most common side effects include nausea (30%), sleep problems, constipation, gas, and/or vomiting. If you have side effects that bother you or don’t go away, tell your doctor.
    You may have trouble sleeping, vivid, unusual, or strange dreams while taking CHANTIX. Use caution driving or operating machinery until you know how CHANTIX may affect you.

Side Effects of Abilify

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome when using Abilify Discmelt Orally Disintegrating Tablets:

Abnormal dreams; blurred vision; constipation; dizziness; drowsiness; headache; increased appetite (in children); increased saliva production; lightheadedness; nausea; sore throat (in children); stomach upset; tiredness; trouble sleeping; vomiting; weight gain.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur when using Abilify Discmelt Orally Disintegrating Tablets:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); abnormal thinking; chest pain; confusion; fainting; fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat; fever, chills, or sore throat; increased sweating; involuntary movements of the tongue, face, mouth, jaw, arms, legs, or back (eg, chewing movements, puckering of mouth, puffing of cheeks); loss of control over urination; loss of coordination; muscle tremor, jerking, or stiffness; new or worsening mental or mood problems (eg, anxiety, depression, agitation, panic attacks, aggressiveness, impulsiveness, irritability, hostility, exaggerated feeling of well-being, inability to sit still); one-sided weakness; seizures; severe or persistent restlessness; shortness of breath; suicidal thoughts or attempts; swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet; symptoms of high blood sugar (eg, increased thirst, urination, or appetite; unusual weakness); trouble swallowing; trouble walking; unusual bruising; unusual tiredness or weakness; vision or speech changes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

Listen to Steve Martin's "Side Effects" parody.