On Being This Age (53)

Between the piles and the cavities
I am fraying at the edges
In this, my fifty-third year

I’ve spent my ten thousand hours
Earning expertise
As an employee and as a reader
Subservient to the corporation
And to the word

Like a fractured hermit crab
Resting in the tide pool
I wait for the sea
To obliterate
Either these familiar surroundings or

Carry me beyond the reef
Into the trench
With its tapered sides
Littered with empty shells

Was any preparation
Ever possible
Or applicable
For such an eventuality?

Ask the crab with the cracked carapace
If mending him
Will ever fix anything

(2017)

Berkeley Breathed (YGtCTO #231)

Bloom County


Comic strip written and drawn by Berkeley Breathed

Berkeley Breathed

I had no idea how long it took to get to Rosebud. Re-reading Bloom County in sequence via the collected complete run, I kept waiting for that gorgeous creature to pop up in the meadow. At last, Rosebud has appeared after what has to be three years of periodic indulgence on my part.

At Ohio University (the one in Athens), we were spoiled to have a daily newspaper produced by exhausted journalism students. This kept us reasonably abreast of current events. More importantly, it included comics. Well, one or two. Bloom County was one and sometimes it was joined by the work of an enterprising student. This was apparently early in the run of Breathed’s creation, so I had never seen it before, despite pretty consistent attention to the funny papers.

Soon after arriving on campus, I moved into a large apartments and discovered the joy of thin walls and housemates with different circadian rhythms. At that time, practically nothing was open on Sunday mornings in town. A long walk took you to… nothing. The streets were not completely deserted. A few people stumbled in and out of the Big Boy restaurant, which was the only place open. Maybe Hardee’s was open, too, but I don’t think so. (Is it any wonder we all looked pasty?)

One of my housemates
magically appeared every Sunday with the large paper out of Columbus- I think it was the Dispatch. I later learned that a small bookstore down a side street opened early on Sundays in order to provide newspapers and sundries to college professors and their families.

Said housemate spread out on the floor in front of the sofa. I would eat breakfast at our table and watch him read. He began by separating out the bits that bore no interest for him. I grabbed them. But, he hoarded the comics, so I often had to wait until later in the day when he left in order to get a read.

But I’m not telling the whole story. He actually bought two different newspapers, as often as not, because he wanted to ensure that he had the proper allotment of comic strips. Some papers carried Bloom County and some carried… whatever the other one was that he wanted. I’m just glad that he got Bloom County because that wonderful daily college paper that I mentioned earlier- it only came out on weekdays.

A remarkably large number of people identify with comic strips. At work, on vacation, just bumping into people- they want to share a new favorite from Dilbert or Get Fuzzy or whatever. Often, they share different days from the same strip and I start thinking of them as the Dilbert guy or such. More weird is how that can become pejorative when the strip takes a turn toward controversy. Bloom County, much like Doonesbury, was already hip deep in controversy from the start. I like to think that works in my favor for anyone that thinks of me as that Bloom County fan.

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 69 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

Images may be subject to copyright.

Jules Verne (YGtCTO Words #77)

Master of the World


Book written by Jules Verne

Just beyond the self-checkout at our local supermarket, they have a bin of discount books. Most of the books are aimed at children. Thus, outrageous colors predominate. Also, many of the books have plastic gizmos attached which produce sounds and other endearments. By now, I barely spare the contained mass a glance.

I haven’t always been so immune. However, the bins have not always overflowed with such decadence. As a pre-adolescent, I frequented the neighborhood shops which included our share of markets and one department store. Their bin of books housed hundreds of bland paperback reprints of classic novels. The covers were pure white (except where stained) and bore one graphic that usually related to the contents. At least, I was soon sure that George Washington Carver never wore a lab coat because he was portrayed in his suit leaning over test tubes on the cover of his autobiography. In retrospect, I’m not sure he spent his time in a lab that looked more appropriate for teaching high school chemistry.

Either way, the discount classics soon accumulated on my bookshelf at home. I read the back cover synopsis on every single one of them and the interior of a select few. This was a time when the surest way to stop me from reading something was to encourage me to do so. I’m sure that was fun.

Jules Verne

Around the same time,
my older brothers moved out of the house, leaving me alone with my parents. These were the days that I had dreaded. I could only imagine what the lack of a buffer might create. My mind buckled under the weight of holding all the dinner table attention.

As it turned out, one brother had only moved to a nearby city for a few months and he occasionally visited. I took advantage of his appearances to sulk in my room. Like I said, I’m sure I was a treat.

On the plus side, my sulking was not too skilled. One time, I dragged a book off the nearby shelf, perched at a table in my room and read intently. As it turned out, Jules Verne grabbed my attention. I had no idea up until that moment that he had written sequels to his more famous books. I can understand why he did it now. Few characters are as cool as Captain Nemo.

So, my brother appeared in my room and kindly sat there waiting for me to acknowledge his presence. I broke down quickly enough. Then, he engaged me about the book. Much like the narrator of Master of the World, I had felt adrift since I was left alone with my parents. The way I remember it, something about that afternoon gave me a little more ballast. I didn’t stop being an adolescent treasure, but I started to understand that I wasn’t as alone as I thought.

What’s it all about?

You’ve Got to Check This Out is a blog series about music, words, and all sorts of artistic matters. It started with an explanation. 70 more to go.

New additions to You’ve Got to Check This Out release regularly. Also, free humor, short works, and poetry post irregularly. Receive notifications on Facebook by friending or following Craig.

Images may be subject to copyright.