Archive for the ‘Stories’ Category

Meze: male friendship in fiction

April 25, 2022

It begins in medias res. I am listening to a high-hype tv ad for a movie whose title I didn’t catch:

This compelling story of male friendship will move you deeply!

Whoa, I think, this is my stuff, I’ve gotta make a note of that URL and search for a theatrical release poster or something else I can put in a posting.

Then I realize that this is a dream, and in dreamland there’s no way to save notes and images on your computer.

I’m only two hours into my sleep for the night, but the related idea of fiction about male friendship — I’ve posted quite a lot about male friendship in the movies and tv and, of course, real life — grips me, so I get up and go to my actual computer to see what’s out there. I check stuff out for maybe an hour, taking copious notes and saving some images, and then go back to bed; returning to sleep takes me no more than a minute, sometimes I’m back in ten seconds. (Yes, I realize that this ability is some kind of gift from nature, but I’ve had it, strikingly, since I was a teenager. Occasional moments of insomnia or disordered sleep are, for me, red flags signaling a serious problem.)

Very satisfying search; report below. But first, the prequel to that dream.


The grocery order

August 17, 2021

A report from my grandchild Opal a few weeks ago, about one of their adventures as a customer service employee at a Redwood City Safeway supermarket / grocery store. In this event, they observed as another employee coped with a male customer who had come with a small but somewhat eccentric shopping list from his wife (who he had on the phone) and needed help in finding the items. (I’m telling the story from memory and no doubt have gotten some of the details wrong, and have embroidered on some of the others; an experienced story-teller always reserves the right to improve on their tales.)

First, some soap. Bar soap. Lavender bar soap. Possibly it had to be some specific brand. I’ve picked a very earnest lavender bar soap to fill this slot.

Then, Vaseline. The original petroleum jelly — once from Chesebrough, now from Unilever, still available.

Then a third item I’ll put off. It’s the clincher.

As it turned out, the store had no lavender bar soap, though stores very close to it carried some. And then, somewhat surprisingly to me, they had no Vaseline either, though neighboring drugstores did. Well, for a Safeway it’s not very big, and it’s in a shopping center with lots of well-stocked specialty shops, so it’s inclined to focus on, you know, groceries. Anyway, she wanted all three together: the order was coherent, serving a single purpose, not a random assortment of household items the woman needed (cat fd, loaf pumpernickel, tampons, grn chartreuse — that sort of thing).

Stop for a moment to reflect: what might unite the lavender bar soap and the Vaseline? (My friend and helper Kim got it right off, called it out, even before I got to item #3.)


Sports commentary

December 20, 2018

Thanks to Facebook friends who provided a link to an xkcd cartoon from way back (5/27/11): #904 Sports:

The point is that sports color commenators treat essentially random day-to-day fluctuations as indicators of trends — because they have lots of time to fill and not a lot of substance to fill it with (play-by-play coverage is something else), and because like all of us they are narratophiles (lovers of story) and seek to find a coherent narrative in pretty much anything that happens. Meanwhile, color commentators can fall back on all that accumulated data, to wield fan statistics as another time-filler.


The stories of our lives

May 29, 2015

Yesterday’s Calvin and Hobbes:

From a 4/4/09 posting:

Human beings are story-tellers. As Erving Goffman once observed, we spend an enormous amount of time telling each other the stories of our lives. We use stories to make sense of things.

And we tell the stories of our own childhoods to our children and grandchildren, hoping to give them some sense of history and change, My daughter and I often do this with her daughter — who, unlike Calvin, seems to welcome the stories, even when she finds some of it incredible: did we really grow up in neighborhoods, and go to schools, that had essentially no racial or ethnic diversity? What, no Chinese or Indians, even? (In my case, no Jews, all the way through high school.)