My “What Can I Say?” Blog: 2012 in Review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 34,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

In Sickness and In Health


How do you get sick? Or, more specifically, how do you know the exact moment when IT has tapped you?

With me, the merest hint of a murky twilight flashes across my mind, and that’s when I know. It could be a sunny day, a rainy day, a nothing day, but when that mental twilight hits, I know I’ve been tapped.

I worked with some school children last week in a large, enclosed room for a couple of hours. Fourth graders are tricky– they’re so full of energy that a herd of them romping and chattering in a room might be easily taken as mass happiness, but I’d be willing that more than a few of them were experiencing a fever high. During the lesson, sporadic coughs and sneezes could be heard, followed by parents, students and Heritage people looking around surreptitiously: who was that?

I placed a handkerchief mentally over my mouth, and imagined Campho-Phenique spread over my nostrils. I told myself repeatedly: you never get sick. Sickness is an illusion. You are NOT going to get sick.

That was Friday.

By Saturday morning, I could sense that mental twilight approaching, but it was so far down the road that I thought I could stave it off. I felt fine; maybe it was just a warning of what COULD happen to someone so arrogant as me– someone who never gets sick.

By Saturday evening, twilight had descended. We were on our way home from a large party in Cocoa Beach and I was in the shotgun seat not only feeling its tapping on my shoulder, but feeling the clamp of its clenched wrist. I thought back to that merry Friday full of fourth graders, and I thought back to the party, where we hugged and laughed and talked loudly in one another’s faces as we ate things that we wouldn’t normally eat during the year: chocolate things encrusted with peanuts and goo, each one a meal in itself. Some people were very sweaty at that party; for once, I was rather cool and collected. I thought I’d be suave and enter with a red cotton sweater knotted jauntily across my shoulders (very Winter Park 1986) but that lasted about a minute. The sweater stayed draped over a chair back all evening, lonely.

By the time we got home, I knew that my bedroom companions that night were going to be Mr. Phlegm, Ms. Congestion and Chief Runny Nose. But I wasn’t sick.

Sunday I canceled everything, thinking I would lay in bed all day, supine, so as to allow my head to drain itself south. I read back issues of the New York Times Book Review, clipping articles about interesting books, and ate chicken noodle soup and swallowed Sudafed and DayQuil. I never get sick, but when I do I never experience a loss of energy; maybe I’m like those feverish fourth graders. I cleaned out old eMails, attended to eBay listings for work, and continued writing a history of Tildenville for a book. I drank plenty of fluids like orange juice and water, and sweated a lot– I think I probably drowned a lot of any other microbes that were trying to get in.

Monday I was still not sick– I never get sick– and so I plowed through more Book Reviews, slept a lot, and thought about getting up to put the living room together after we set up the tree early last week. But I didn’t.       I was energetic enough to get on Facebook and become annoyed– something that always raises my blood pressure– and so I went back to bed to read some more. You can really lose yourself in the Times book reviews; they are so erudite and intelligent, and not once did I come across the words “amazing” or “awesome.” Well, “amazing” once, but I think it was used ironically.

I’m a good patient when I’m not sick. I don’t demand anything, but I am brought cups of tea, and things as I ask for them: scissors; close-up reading glasses; orange juice; Kleenex; fresh socks; that book of Eastern European maps next to the Compton Atlas– no, not this one, the older one; the mail; those Christmas cards; my checkbook; my journal– please don’t look inside it; my inhaler.

And this morning I woke up about eight thirty feeling somewhat better– for someone who never gets sick, that is. Since I’d straightened the bedclothes the night before, they were still covering me neatly– I hadn’t spent the night tossing and sweating, which is always a good thing. My reviews were stacked neatly to my right on the bedside table, and I could hear Blueie cheeping happily across the house; sunlight peeked under the bedroom door. All was silent– I don’t sleep with my devices, naturally, and so I lay there under the neat covers and basked in the early morning silence. My mind, never at rest, switched into List Making mode and began lining up the things I wanted to do today. I still wasn’t going in to work, because I am always loath to infecting anyone, but there were the things I could continue to do at the iMac: the writing and the eBay.

And then the bedroom door opened, and a specter stood framed in the daylight: hunched, bedraggled, swathed in cotton flannel pajamas, it croaked at me: “I don’t feel good.”

Sheesh. Some people!

The Click of A Mouse, the Touch Of a Hand


The news coming from Connecticut yesterday really slammed into my forehead, much more so than the recent similar events.

I don’t claim to be a hundred percent aware of everything that goes on in this world, but I do pride myself on making an effort not to ignore the world around me. It’s important to be able to place Iraq on a map, or to know where Bhutan is, and to understand why the Indian-Pakistani border is unstable and volatile. Or why red states are red and why blue ones are blue– and, even though our national politics have been reduced to a map made of childish Colorforms, it’s essential to know why. And it’s important to know the name of the president of Italy.

The thing is, there aren’t enough people curious enough to even care about these things anymore. If you DO know where Bhutan is, you’re considered odd, boring, nerdy; and, all too often,  the person who doesn’t  know where Bhutan is lauds himself on his cool ignorance.

And not being aware of the people around you is based in the same sort of ignorance– with a price to pay.

We need to start turning toward one another and examining what makes us do the things we do. We have to stop the selfishness, the mindless consumerism and concentration on STUFF, and our addiction to following the lives of vapid, meaningless “celebrities.” We have to look UP from our electronic devices and pay attention. We have to take the buds out of our ears and LISTEN. The answers to our problems aren’t going to be found in pastel-colored memes, nor will they be helped by silly prayer chains that make us feel good for a minute– good and then forgetful.

The click of a mouse will never substitute for the touch of a hand.

We really, really have to enact change by really, really helping one another along. It’s time to stop the ignorance and the stupidity. Yes, I know there are many of us who do good, and really try– but, by far, there are not enough. We’re ignoring one another where it really matters, and we’re seeing the effects of that. 300 million people are in need a long-overdue sea change.

Our dangerous dependence on everything electronic has caused us to look away, because the answers aren’t going to be found in silica. What if somebody comes along one day and pulls the plug? Then what happens? (We saw a bit of the consequences during Sandy.)

Again: The click of a mouse will never substitute for the touch of a hand. We need to start reaching out.