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: doris day is alive :

She’s 92 and a neighbor of Clint Eastwood in Carmel Valley, California. She gave up acting, though, in 1968, so we aren’t reminded of her and tend to forget she exists. But good old Doris could be filming selfies and singing her heart out all day long for all we know.

Last fall, there was a rumor she’d been lured out of retirement by an offer to appear in Eastwood’s next movie. She’d seen the script and they were in negotiations, according to the article I read. So who knows? Maybe she’s set to stage a comeback.

The point is, she’s going about her business. And so am I. While a comeback isn’t imminent, it is certain. One day in the not too distant future, everything will be nailed down — the format, the domain, the direction — and I hope you’ll make a comeback of your own.

Until then, stay warm and thank you for your patience. Que sera sera and all that.

waiting room

copyright © 2016 publikworks

: now departing :

departing

In other words, adios.

Publikworks.wordpress.com is headed for that big blog in the sky. I apologize if this seems abrupt and out of the blue, but it’s for the best. I hate endings. Dragging them out only makes things harder and messier, so I’ll be quick and clean and unyielding.

First, I want to commend you for your extraordinary patience. You guys suffered through a ton of rambling, mediocre posts (368 altogether) with too few decent pieces (9, maybe 11) to make it a sensible use of your time. And you did it without complaint. What’s more astonishing is, you came back. Sometimes more than once. I can’t understand why, but I’m very grateful you did. You’re incredibly loyal friends and I’m going to be lost without you.

Last year, there were 847 million blogs clamoring for your attention, so it’s nothing short of a miracle you chose to visit publikworks. All credit and thanks due to WordPress. I wouldn’t have attempted blogging on my own; the Internet is an alien world I don’t have the smarts to venture into or navigate without lots of help. WordPress provided not only the tools, but also encouragement and support and a hand to hold. They’ve been my damn wings for 4+ years.

This whole blogging business began as a lark, you know, a goof. But then you all came along and, suddenly, there was a purpose to serve. I had honest-to-goodness readers to entertain, people looking for a laugh. In my hasty zeal to succeed, I got trapped in a style that’s grown stale and predictable.

kaboomHonestly? I’d rather be a flaming, in-your-face überflop any day  — a status I think I’ve achieved. Yay! By any measure, my little blog here is a big, fat failure, but I don’t for an instant regret having tried. This was a grand adventure, ladies and gentlemen, and a valuable learning experience. I’ll use the knowledge I gained in my next iteration, whatever the Hell that is.

But for now, my enthusiasm is at low ebb and I’m afraid it shows in the work. The writing isn’t sharp, topics are bland, and quality has slipped. That being the case, it’s time to put down the pencil. If not for my sake, for yours. Crappy work is demoralizing for everyone it touches.

The website, though, is going to stay put, at least until I decide my next steps. I’m not ready to be forgotten quite yet, so I’ll leave the joint intact. When I know what I’m doing — heh, like that’s gonna happen — I’ll send up a flare with full particulars. In case you’re interested.

Well, looks like we’ve reached our final destination. Please wait until we’ve come to a complete stop before exiting and thank you for flying publikworks. So long, boys and girls. Over and out.

exiting

pw_logo

: butting out :

eavesroppingDigital technology has wiped out traditional forms of communication and replaced them with fancy, new electronic devices. This isn’t sentiment talking or nostalgia, it’s harsh reality.

Take payphones, they’re history. Although you can, with persistence, still find a few relics languishing in weird, godforsaken places. Whether they work is another question. Cursive handwriting, that’s on the fast track to extinction. Ditto for the United States Postal Service. Morse code, cave painting, telegrams, long gone or en route. And it’s not over yet.

Eavesdropping is also falling by the wayside and that will be the biggest, most regrettable loss of all. It’s entertaining to overhear people talk, sort of like a radio show. We’d pretend not to listen in as we sat in silent judgment, feeling righteous and smug because, heh, we’re not as bad as those losers. Admit it, prying and snooping are guilty pleasures, second only to gossiping.

But listening in on actual conversations is next to impossible these days. No one chats anymore, we don’t even make eye contact. Why socialize when there’s a glowing screen on hand, a device we swipe and tap and are enthralled by?

It’s thanks to those smartphones that we’re restricted to only one side of the conversations going on around us. Unless the little chatterboxes put the call on speaker and, you know, that’s not out of the question. We’re in a frightening era of rampant TMI; personal intimacies are proudly presented in gory, graphic detail.

Clearly, people are having trouble interacting. There’s no witty repartee or snappy banter, no more quips or bon mots. Nuance and subtlety are undoubtedly outré.

Now, I like technology as much as the next person, but I enjoy a good chinwag, too. So, when I want sparkling conversation, I have to talk to myself. Not just muttering and dissociated ramblings, oh no. I must strike up lively, rollicking discussions and carry both sides of the conversation.

Except I pissed myself off and now I’m not speaking to me. Brings a whole new meaning to silent night. Ho, ho, oy.

rejection

copyright © 2015 publikworks

: on addiction :

ball and chainYou know what’s kept me away from drugs? Fear. I’m a chicken and a weakling. I’d be no match against the euphoria and bliss of narcotics. What I’d be is a freaking stoner, an instant junkie.

Alcohol wasn’t a threat since I don’t like the taste, except for vodka and tonics. They’re a perfect summer cocktail. Hot toddies with Jack Daniels are good, too, for a warm winter glow. They’re a bright spot in the season of frozen tundra.

Besides, when I drink I throw up. That’s off-putting, the vomiting. Hence drinking wasn’t a problem it barely qualified as enjoyable. I smoked a pack a day, though. It was comforting and I still miss it sometimes. Not physically, but mentally. Like all addictions it was a crutch — and a worry and a burden and expensive. Being dependent sucks.

But it happens before we know it. I get that. I understand the powerful, irresistible, dicey lure of addiction. What I don’t understand is relapse. Why would anyone do that to themselves? Return to helplessness. Seriously. Who embraces that gloveskind of imprisonment? Who goes back for a Round 2 against abject misery?

In case you’re wondering where this came from, I watched Pollock the other night, the movie with Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden. Pollock is Jackson Pollock, an American artist / painter who was a leading force behind the abstract expressionist movement and known for developing a unique style called drip painting. He was an alcoholic for much of his life, destructive and creative in equal measure. After two years of abstinence and sobriety, health and productivity, he returned to drinking and all its attendant chaos. Willfully and with full knowledge of the consequences.

The rest is utterly predictable and so tiresome it’s boring. The dude died at the age of 44. He was driving drunk and careened into a wooded area going 60 or 70 mph. He and a passenger were killed instantly. Another passenger, Pollock’s gold digger mistress, survived. The guy was a brilliant artist, but ended up a has-been cliché.

His paintings, however, are among the most highly prized artwork in the world. In 2006, one of his pieces — No. 5, 1948 — reportedly sold for $140 million (that’s $140,000,000.00) via private sale at Sotheby’s. Yet Pollock deliberately traded his glorious, unbridled talent for booze.

number 5

Maybe it’s not so baffling, maybe it’s just sad.

copyright © 2015 publikworks

: a books and pop culture xmas :

trouble_bartIf I got nothing else for Christmas, I’d be drunkenly, stoopidly happy. Throw in some heavy socks and over the moon I’d go. Anyway, these are the last of the holiday gift recommendations, it’s getting too close to be of much use by now. So this is it — unless I accidentally fall over something so astonishing and eye-poppingly original I’m forced to post it here on my little corner of the Internet.dunny_labbit_buddhaNow, about the books. Curiously, I’m not a fan of best sellers. I’m a devoted and unabashed follower of mid-list authors for some reason. And that’s what I’ve recommended here, with the notable exception of Jo Nesbo. He could be considered a best-selling author, I suppose, but he wasn’t always. So without further adieu …

books

The Unfortunates — Sophie McManus

A terrific first novel. Reviewers are, of course, making inevitable comparisons to Edith Wharton because this is a story of wealth and society and expectations. But it’s so much more and so much better. It’s a surprisingly funny and quietly moving look at the emotional unraveling of the Somners, an affluent, old money family. Turns out the well-heeled struggle with the same demons as the rest of us. Who knew?

Blood Salt Water — Denise Mina

You cannot do better than Denise Mina. Her books are brilliant and absorbing; the characters are complicated, flesh and blood creations. This series takes place in Glasgow and the main character, Alex Morrow, is a detective who’s the mother of twins. If you like mysteries and drama, you will love this writer. And each one of her books — except, maybe, Deception. That one came up a little short.

GBH — Ted Lewis

This book has been around for decades, a grim, dark tale of 1970s underworld London. It’s a mix of the pornography business, gangsters and mayhem (the GBH stands for grievous bodily harm — I think). The author, a hard-drinking type, died at the age of 42 in 1982 and had previously worked as an animation specialist on Yellow Submarine. It took a mind like that to  create this compulsive and disturbing novel.

Girl Waits with Gun — Amy Stewart

She’s taller than most men and not interested in marrying any of them. She isn’t prone to domesticity, either. She and her 2 sisters have a family secret and they’re in hiding as a result, until the sheriff asks for her help. The novel is based on a true story that took place in 1914 in New York and New Jersey and it’s a riot to read.

Headhunters — Jo Nesbo

I rarely do one of these book review things without including a Jo Nesbo novel. The Headhunters is, maybe, my favorite; it’s a standalone and not part of the Harry Hole series. It’s too freaking good. An art thief whose day job involves finding and placing high level executives in powerful, big name companies. The plot is smart and surprising and very entertaining.

Happy and merry, everyone.xmas tree

copyright © 2015 publikworks

: the expiration :

noiseAt 3:51 this morning my upstairs neighbor began stirring. No, not stirring, crashing. No, not crashing, either; setting off a loud, discordant, unrelieved cacophony.

You see, noise pollution is her vocation. She has a fervent, God-given talent, this woman does, for straining furniture and floor joists and rebar to the thunderous brink of implosion. Only airport runways operate at similar decibels.

It seems I’ve spent a lifetime trapped beneath a hat with earflaps, one cinched tight over ears already crammed with cotton and buried under folded socks. But no more. I have, at long last, found a way to defend myself: Aerosmith. Steven Tyler drives her right omusic_cyberscootyut of her over-stressed chair and down the stairs to lé boyfriend’s apartment. She specifically dislikes Living on the Edge, but anything Aerosmith does the trick.

Oh, how I love the sound of those gigantic, angry feet stomping their way out the door. It lifts my heart like nothing else.

The only snag is, Aerosmith gets me amped. And 4:00 in the morning is too early to be amped. 4:00 in the morning is too early to be anything but asleep. What can you do at that time of day? The world is closed. So I did the only thing I could think of: I made coffee. Bleary-eyed and a little jangled, I scooped and measured and waited, drumming my fingers beside the mug.

By the third cup I noticed an inappropriate aroma; it was rank and a little putrid. My nose wrinkled in distaste. I picked up the milk carton and clapped eyes on the expiration date: 11-24-2015. Ten long days ago. No, I know, it won’t kill me. Just make me so violently sick I’ll wish it would

milkI hate karma.

copyright © 2015 publikworks

: pinch me :

looneys

Look what I found. Who ever dreamed this would happen? The whole damn collection of Looney Tunes characters — Marvin the Martian, Daffy, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, the whole gang. On a keychain or as a mini figure. These guys will be released next week, in plenty of time for Christmas.

And Tweety. Oh my stars, look at Tweety Bird. In three vivid, eye-popping colors. These are already available at $75 apiece and they’re worth it. One day, and probably soon, they’ll be worth a fortune. Tweety and his kind are limited editions.

the tweetys

So add them to your list for Santa. Threaten him if you have to or bribe him or lie about your behavior, whatever it takes. He doesn’t like it when we do, but he responds nonetheless. I know, I’ve pulled a few strings in my time, cut a few corners.

Well, gotta run. Maybe I’ll find Dr. Seuss characters next. I want a Sneetch.

copyright © 2015 publikworks

: an xmas gift guide :

the kids’ edition

‘Tis that time of year, boys and girls, gift-giving time. And I wanted to give you an early peek, since this is Cyber Monday. So I scouted around and look what I’ve found for kids. Or, sure, grown-ups — except for the onesie. You’d have to be a tragically short adult to fit into that, although I wouldn’t blame you for trying. I’m partial to the hat myself and since I have a pinhead I might have a shot at it fitting. $134 seems pricey for a hat, though. Oh, it’s Christmas, I’ll get two.

icicolor

Well, this is a start, anyway. Now I’m off to see what else I can discover. If I’m not back in a few days, call the police. Or the poor house.

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: buried in the fine print* :

nerd glassesLike most everyone on the planet, I rarely read the fine print. Also like everyone on the planet, I know I should. But, egads, it’s so little and there’s so much of it, plus it’s dry and formal and dull. My eyes roll back in my head at the thought.

In typography, small text is sometimes called mice type. Isn’t that adorable, reminds me of a bug’s ear. It sounds cute and twee, but mice type is as dangerous and foreboding as a dark alley. You’ve no idea what’s hiding in there and really don’t want to fineye chartd out.

Puny type is in disclaimers, too — those are the annotations at the bottom of a page prefaced by an asterisk. You won’t find good news in disclaimers or in the fine print. Ever. It’s where they hide the gotchas. Information they fear will dissuade us from buying or committing. We know this, yet we ignore the small stuff, the details. We are not a smart bunch.

Although accidents do happen. Being new to Verizon, I found myself stumbling around their website looking for bill payment options. And voilá, I came across this little nugget — in teeny, tiny type, made teenier and tinier by my smartphone screen: ‘To avoid late fees pay your bill 3 days before the due date.’

Uh, what?

Seems outlandish. A due date is a due date, unless the rules have changed. As far as I know, though, if we pay in full on the due date we aren’t late. And no late fees should incur. If Verizon, or any creditor, can’t post payments in a timely fashion, tough noogies. We aren’t obligated to pay for their inefficiency, right? Apparently, they believe we are.

Which makes it official: the world is going to Hell in a hand basket.

flower basket* Congratulations, you’re a wise and careful reader. Or bored to tears.

Copyright © 2015 Publikworks

: a thanksgiving what if :

cornucopiaI was stopped behind an ancient red truck with rust holes so spacious I could’ve stuck my head through them. Stickers and decals abounded, loudly proclaiming the joys and manliness of bow hunting. My first thought was: Ted Nugent’s in town? My second thought: ew.

Then an interesting notion sprang to mind: what if we weren’t armed to the teeth and at the top of the food chain? What if we were the easy pickings? You know, that might not be such a bad thing. The human race could use a dose of humility. We need to lose the swagger and gain a much needed sense of proportion and respect. Life, and the planet, would be very different if humans weren’t in charge of things.

fish_bw

Look what we’ve done to the place. Look what we do to each other. We’re out of control. This isn’t survival of the fittest, it’s arrogance and greed and it’s ruthlessly self-absorbed. We’re all guilty to some extent. If we aren’t actively wreaking havoc, we’re aiding and abetting. We, you and I, are accomplices. Why haven’t we risen up in outrage?

Mankind needs be reined in. We’ve allowed our baser instincts to run rampant and, in the process, made a mess of staggering, whopping proportions. It wouldn’t hurt us to be taken down a peg or ten. There’s a bigger picture to consider, after all, consequences and impacts have to be provided for. Long views given preference over the short-term.

Then the light turned green, which I saw as encouraging. Have a safe, peaceful holiday everyone. And, please, no arguing at the table.

punch

copyright © 2015 publikworks

: the new look has arrived :

forklift

Tada, welcome to the unveiling; the new theme is here. Clean, simple, and — so far — low maintenance. There’s still work to be done, of course, but this is the basic framework. So take a look around and see what you think. I’m not at all sure myself, to be honest. I like the stark simplicity, the clean, focused look.

And the black and white pallet gives it a classic, retro feel, in my mind, anyway. There are few distractions, nothing to draw your eye away from the content, but I miss the pages and widgets a little bit. They’re still here, just hidden behind the subtle icon up in the header.

Well, let me know what you think. And remember, this design isn’t set in stone, so be honest. I’ll change it in a flash if I have to, but I’m hoping this is a promising start, a good direction, and will lead to something long-term. Like for damn ever.

Changing themes is stressful. I’d really like to stop now, but the question is: should we? Is this one the answer? You tell me. I’m too nervous and, yep, a little queasy.

thumbs

copyright © 2015 publikworks

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