by H. W. Moss
There are approximately 175 files on my computer in which an idea for an essay resides, but was not developed further.
Many of these files contain nothing more than one line, the idea itself, which was never expanded. There are plenty that are longer than that and many contain varying degrees of investigation. A few are actually near completion which would be approximately 700 to 1000 words, an optimum length, containing a more thorough and nuanced inquiry.
This essay is a collection of those which otherwise would likely never see light of day.
“Thank you for videotaping ‘Dharma & Greg’ and freeze-framing on my vanity card.”
This appeared at the end of a television sitcom somewhere after the credits. I did not watch the sit-com, which was not “Dharma & Greg,” because I cannot stand television sit-coms, the subject of another essay perhaps. But I did freeze-frame this because I passed over similar numbered cards numerous times and finally stopped to examine.
This “thank you” is the first line of more than 500 statements attributed to Chuck Lorre Productions which appears to serve no purpose other than to benefit Lorre himself. Wiki says Chuck Lorre is an American television writer, director, producer, composer, and production manager. Among his shows are “Two and a Half Men,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “Grace Under Fire” and “D & G.” He has a book titled “What Doesn’t Kill Us Makes Us Bitter.”
Burning Mountain in Australia is a coal fire that has been ongoing for 2,000 years, according to Harper’s (Feb. 2004), probably as a result of spontaneous combustion.
A coal fire in Centralia, PA, has been burning since 1960. It was started by humans.
Under the title “Declensions,” I laid out these two solipsistic observations:
I am firm, you are obstinate, he is a pig-headed fool.
I am frugal, you are a cheapskate, he is a tight-fisted ass.
Ben Jonson, a contemporary of Shakespeare, wrote “The Devil Is an Ass,” a Jacobean comedy first performed in 1616 and first published in 1631.
Bertrand Russell supposedly lost some of his strict discipline during his college years. When asked why, he replied: “Fucking. I discovered fucking.”
The Birdman of Alcatraz, portrayed in the 1962 film by Burt Lancaster, humbly asked the warden for nothing more than bird seed. No one remembers that in those days bird seed had among its other ingredients hemp seeds which Birdman sold to the other inmates.
In an unfinished essay called “Heavyweight Book Titles,” I got as far as “One Incredible High After Another” which is either a documentary film about Alpine hiking or a book about the psychedelic experience.
I did write two more titles: “The Enema” or perhaps “The Enema Within.” Neither makes me want to read more about them. “My Colostomy Bag” does not sound particularly warm and cuddly reading either.
I learned that everyone named Brian has a problem with other people who misspell it as Brain. I asked my cousin-in-law, “Hey, do you ever make a mistake and write your name Brain?”
He replied: “I never write ‘Brain.’ I frequently type ‘Brina,’ but always correct it. I do receive much paper mail with the name ‘Brain Kowalski.’”
Then there’s my friend Brian Boyd who said the anagram he made from his name is Brain Body.
I look at religion like this: Everyone should be allowed to have a cell phone, but I don’t want one. Everyone should be allowed to have their religion, but I don’t want one. And of Rap and Religion, so long as I don’t have to listen to either, I’m good.
My Illinois cousin is third generation Irish and married a girl from Honshu, Japan. They came to visit and I offered to drive them around San Francisco. That was fine, but Miyuki wanted me to help find one thing: crab butter.
“All Japanese people know crab butter is free in San Francisco,” she said.
Crab butter? I had never heard any part of a crab called that. I imagined a creamy mixture of butter and crab meat. Or, perhaps, it was the melted garlic butter you dipped pieces of crab into.
Nope. It’s the innards which are not, as a rule, eaten in this country. That’s why they are free at Fisherman’s Wharf where, after the boil, crabs are eviscerated and only the fleshy parts consumed.
While self-exiled in Mexico as one of the blacklisted Hollywood Ten, Dalton Trumbo sent his son an essay in praise of priapism.
On the telephone my friend Joe often imitates or pretends to be someone else. He got me a couple times. I started an essay called “Emmett Squeals” and it goes like this:
Decades after they were rowdy 20-year-olds doing everything the phrase “sex and drugs and rock ‘n’ roll” implies, Joe decided to call his old buddy, Emmett Ballard, who grew up to become an attorney.
“Mister Ballard. This is Detective Dillon with the FBI and I would like to ask about your prior association with one Joseph Desmond.”
Emmett sitting in his office, hands behind his head talking into a speaker phone: “Y’know, I was sure you guys would catch up with him eventually. I’m surprised it took you this long. What’d he do now, gun running? I mean, that guy was a drug dealer for a while, worked in his sister’s bordello no less and used to dine and dash at Enrico’s on Broadway. It’s amazing you didn’t call me years ago. What do you want to know?”
“Emmett, this is Joe.”