DJT (Say Digit) Smooths on Emollient Clause

Being acrimonious about acronyms is a worthy goal. Presidents used to be known by abbreviations. Now there are calls for the new president’s term to be abbreviated by impeachment or the 25th Amendment. My suggestion as a longtime editor would be shorten by language.

Now having worked a year in academia, acronyms surround me. That I expected. What’s been surprising is the shock of campus veterans that their abbreviations are not always understood, even at times within the same classroom building. So I find ways to compel the spelling out of these confusing shortcuts. But like cliches, acronyms have their place

One nostalgic spot where initials were great was in headlines about political leaders — FDR, HST, JFK, LBJ. They’re also smooth to say out loud, which is a key to my editing style. Eisenhower had the easy-to-speak “Ike” so never did we read DDE. In Arkansas, WR was the way the copy desk wrote single-column-wide headlines for Gov. Winthrop Rockefeller in the late 1960s. Nixon fit in narrow columns, the “i” being one of the “l-i-f-t” half-count letters. RMN did not glide on the tongue, and Nixon was only a 5-count, Ford 4 1/2.

I guess the style fell out of favor in the Jimmy Carter years, no JEC.

Last year saw the potential for the return of a need for an leader name abbreviation. Hillary Rodham Clinton would’ve been perfect for headlines in any media as HRC to distinguish instantly from the previous President Clinton. HRC fell, though. The Republican nominee won. Yet I cannot and have not said or written Donald J. Trump in the same sentence after the.

I won’t say the proper noun in the same sentence after the word “president.”

DJT though I’ve used. Don’t need “president,” the letter trio signifies the executive position. Besides, djt is best pronounced as “digit” as in finger. As in, “Did you see what DJT (say Digit) tweeted overnight?”

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Created Bill in ’88, Met Him in ’99

Here’s a funny thing about these B.Y.O.E. events, that is, Bring Your Own Eulogy: So much of the time those anecdotes are maybe a bit more about the speakers than the, er, guest of honor. If you’re in a down mood today — and a memorial generally is NOT a happy hour — you could say that once again here’s another example of the me-me-me 21st century. Yet, how can you tell stories about another person without you as the narrator, you as the re-actor or even you as the “inciting incident”?

Perhaps more than other people, one part of William Mayes Flanagan‘s artistry is how he brought out the life spirit in others. This Happy Hour has begun.

In 1988 I created Bill Flanagan. In 1999 I met Bill.

In 1988 I was in Little Rock, responsible for national and international news at the Arkansas Democrat. On the side, I began a humor column. It was published in a weekly mailed edition of the newspaper. Being a student of the genre, my humor pieces went all over the map — essay, satire and narrative. The last really is a form of “flash fiction,” as in ultra-short made-up stories.

Illustration by Vic Harville of "End Time Finally Comes for Mister Hapgood," a Mirthology column by Ben Pollock, published Sept. 21, 1988, in Mid Week Magazine, a publication of the Arkansas Democrat.
Illustration by Vic Harville of “End Time Finally Comes for Mister Hapgood,” a Mirthology column by Ben Pollock, published Sept. 21, 1988, in Mid Week Magazine, a publication of the Arkansas Democrat.

That fall 29 years ago I introduced a character who was middle-aged; opinionated; encouraging and happy; a groundskeeper and a watercolor painter. Indeed!

Now, a few weeks ago, days after Bill passed, I ran into Emily Kaitz in the parking lot of Ozark Natural Foods. I told her this anecdote, that it was not authentically, obviously about our friend Bill Flanagan. Also, this has a clairvoyant, ESP quality to it, and we’re rationalists. But Emily disagreed. She advised that this is the story I need to tell. Because she feels it. She can empathize with the deja-vu-ness of it. Continue reading

‘Winks at Gun Ban Security Plan

Sign reading r'Asadink Tiddlywinks Stadium - Home of University Tabletop Sports

2/2*: Security Plan for r’Asadink Tiddlywinks Team — Report for the Arkansas State Police

*Conclusion. Here’s Part 1

DATELINE MIRTHOLOGY — Arkansas Act 859 of 2017 became law this week, partially disarming Act 562 of 2017 from earlier in the session.

I have my official gun ban request just about ready. Firearms never have had a place at tiddlywinks games, and they still won’t.

Open season throughout colleges — by holders of concealed weapons permits who also have had up to eight hours of active shooter training — has been curtailed with 859 so guns are not allowed in qualifying athletic facilities.

Not so fast, SEC teams. Signs proclaiming “Reynolds Razorback Stadium” or “Bud Walton Arena” are insufficient. Football’s and basketball’s showrunners have to prove they are sporting events to the Arkansas State Police once a year.

As do all the other structures where sports are played. Including Suite 248, otherwise known as r’Asadink Stadium, Home of Arkansas Table Sports.

Legislators listed what should be detailed in the gun ban request to the state police in Section 9. In preparing the list for r’Asadink, I as coach and caretaker found the process to be a squop, known outside tiddlywinks as a slam-dunk.

A copy of the following will be forwarded to the ASP when they’re ready to take applications. My rationale is found at Part 1 of this series “Play Games at Work So No Guns.”

Early in a recent tiddlywinks game between the U of A and Deep State at r'Asadink Stadium. Score is 0-0.
Early in a recent tiddlywinks game between the U of A and Deep State at r’Asadink Stadium. Score is 0-0.

(A) Total projected attendance — Capacity is limited only by how many people can crowd around the 48×24-inch felt mat, allowing room for the players of course.

(B) Number of entrances and exits — 1 of each, in college-level math it’s 1 plus 1 equals 1.

(C) Number of on-site private security personnel — Brought by the visiting team.

(D) Number of on-site law enforcement officers — Another new state law — curtailing the transparency ensured by the FOIA — keeps me from divulging details on campus police. Also, this Act 859 states, “A security plan submitted under this section is exempt from public disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act of 1967.” Am I breaking the new law by sharing my security plan? Uh-oh.

(E) Number of on-site first responders — Red Cross CPR card holders get in free.

(F) Location of parking areas and number of motor vehicles projected to use the parking areas — Fans convey themselves along halls, stairs and elevator. Just like the entire university community, how they get here is their problem.

(G) Routes for emergency vehicles — Squad cars and paddy wagons need parking stickers.

(H) Locations of all restrooms, stairs, and elevators — Down the hall. Down the other hall.  Continue reading

Play Games at Work So No Guns

Early in a recent tiddlywinks game between the U of A and Deep State at r'Asadink Stadium. Score is 0-0.

1/2*: reDeclaration of Athletic Facility

*Here’s Part 2

DATELINE MIRTHOLOGY — My workplace is eligible. Now that people with concealed weapon permits soon will be welcome to roam armed throughout campus, barred only at qualifying athletic events, it’s time to out my office.

Entrance to 248, the athletics facility for the university's tiddlywinks team.
Entrance to Suite 248, the athletics facility for the university’s SEC championship tiddlywinks team.

Suite 248 also houses the little known but very real r’Asadink Stadium, for tiddlywinks and other tabletop sports.

Unlike football’s Reynolds Razorback Stadium, which is unlocked only some six days a year, r’Asadink is multipurpose, an old experiment of the Department of Athletics where every other facility tends toward single use. (Even track-and-field are over a mile apart, between Tyson Track Center and McDonnell Field.)

It’s not only for games. The tiddlywinks and table croquet crews also practice on the 2×3-foot green felt mat in 248.

The 248 test was abandoned but not forgotten, least of all by me, still on the Razorback (or was it RazorTemp?) payroll as r’Asadink table sports coach and caretaker. It’s moonlighting, outside of my full-time Web job.

Yet we must take weapons seriously with Arkansas Act 562. While apparently there’s a winning argument that guns wielded by slightly trained amateurs protect democracy except at fields of play, guns never have been welcome at my arena and they never will be. Continue reading

The Hoofers’ Guide to Passion, Ambition, Success and Love

Poster of La La Land movie
Click poster for studio’s page on movie

It wasn’t work-of-genius good. In fact La La Land shouldn’t be rated on a four-star system because three and a half stars is ambiguous, but the movie was definitely four stars out of five ****o.

Other write-ups say, often flatteringly, that the stars’ dancing was good, very good even, but not great. That’s the wrong angle. Leads Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone would have given any level of slick grace if that’s what they were supposed to do. But they weren’t. Even if dancing’s not their first performance skill.

The choreography likely was deliberate, maybe the dancing was designed to not be too memorable. However, I recall the dance scenes clearly, expect that the plan was they were a few steps beyond what you or I could handle, not the spectacle of the mid-20th-century hoofers.

The movie’s opening dance number, which includes but does not feature the two leads, was clever but frankly nothing compared to the opening of the movie adaptation of Hair — longish at 5:43 as it starts seconds before the music and a long moment before the dance.

That’s pretty much the same problem with La La Land’s music. The melodic “City of Stars” theme is memorable and hardy enough to do the work the plot requires of it. But otherwise, we get just pleasant tunes and pleasant wordcraft.

Also, the Gosling character is a 2016-ish jazz musician, a classicist meaning perhaps anything but now (before the ’80s?). The score generally is musical theater style with jazz-swing influence. Continue reading

Canopy Cassoulet

Logo of Canopy Northwest Arkansas, a refugee resettlement serviceAs a volunteer with the refugee resettlement group Canopy Northwest Arkansas, I made a family’s first meal in their new home.

The mom and dad, ages 30 and 28, have been living in camps since fleeing Democratic Republic of  Congo in 2003. Their son just turned 6. Who knows what they’ve been eating all this time. A recipe, a north African-style tajine stew that my wife and I enjoyed a couple of times in recent months, made the most sense.

Did they like it? The adults were nearly beyond exhaustion, and there was a language barrier. They ate silently but heartily. The volunteers who brought them to the apartment from the airport wanted the recipe, it smelled and looked so good.

The boy? For a long time, his folks couldn’t tear him away from the toy trucks the group had waiting for him. Continue reading