Archive for January, 2019

Authors’ Eye/Insights

Thursday, January 31st, 2019 | Permalink

My recent and ongoing confrontation with post-op cataract surgery complications documented on Facebook prompted my seeking inspiration from other, more eminent authors facing similar (or worse) problems. Though I’m not in their class as a writer (not yet, anyway), we share the frustration and dread for the future as far as our writing is concerned.

Reading through the thumbnail histories of these writers, what stands out is the gamut of reactions each of them have or had to encroaching blindness. As proudly individualistic as their writings, their reactions to blindness range from despair to grudging acceptance to triumphant surmounting their afflictions.

John J. Ross in his essay on medical issues suffered by four British authors cites the example of James Joyce who experienced near-blindness in the painful aftermath of his treatment for gonorrhea. Primitive early 20th century medical techniques cured the disease but he developed terrible attacks of eye pain and arthritis in the process. Despite his twelve eye surgeries and a host of other ailments, he devoted the last two decades of his life creating the paean to language that is Finnegan’s Wake.

Matt Reimann examines some classic and modern writers’ experiences with blindness. Along with Joyce already mentioned above, Homer, John Milton, and Jorge Luis Borges are prime examples of writers overcoming and becoming inspired by their affliction. For Milton blindness was “a divine benefit” which turned “his insight inward” while Borges used it as a secular motivation to become a lecturer and teacher. One of his proudest moments, he claimed, was becoming director of the National Library of Argentina when he could no longer write.

The reasons for these writers and artists’ sight impairments may not have been the most noble or sympathetic, but their responses to the affliction are similar: they found a way to use poor eyesight as motivation to continue on, whether through divine inspiration, humanitarian concern, or dogged determination. That’s a lesson from which all of us have benefited.

 

2018 Darwin Award Winners

Saturday, January 12th, 2019 | Permalink

First, a note of explanation. The Darwin Awards are a tongue-in-cheek honor, originating in 1985 which recognize individuals who have supposedly contributed to human evolution by selecting themselves out of the gene pool via death or sterilization by their own actions.

According to Wendy Northcutt, who helped formalize their creation, the annual award commemorates individuals who, in the spirit of natural selection, a term coined by the naturalist, Charles Darwin, “protect our gene pool by making the ultimate sacrifice of their own lives. Darwin Award winners eliminate themselves in an extraordinarily idiotic manner, thereby improving our species’ chances of long-term survival.”

Let’s start with the honorable mentions: 

–The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat 
cutting machine and after a little shopping around, submitted a 
claim to his insurance company. The company expecting negligence 
sent out one of its men to have a look for himself. He tried the 
machine and he also lost a finger.. The chef’s claim was 
approved. 

–A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his 
car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to 
find a woman had taken the space. Understandably, he shot her. 

–An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from 
serious head wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked 
how he received the injuries, the lad told police that he was 
simply trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving 
train before he was hit. 

–A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the 
counter, and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash 
drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the 
register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the 
cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the 
counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer… $15. 
(If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, is a crime 
committed?) 

–Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He 
decided that he’d just throw a cinder block through a liquor 
store window, grab some booze, and run. So, he lifted the cinder 
block and heaved it over his head at the window The cinder block 
bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him 
unconscious. The liquor store window was made of Plexiglas. The 
whole event was caught on videotape. 

–As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a 
man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, 
and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the 
snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. 
They put him in the car and drove back to the store. The thief 
was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a 
positive ID. To which he replied, “Yes, officer, that’s her 
That’s the lady I stole the purse from.” 

–The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked 
into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 5 A.M., flashed a 
gun, and demanded cash.  The clerk turned him down because he 
said he couldn’t open the cash register without a food order. 
When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren’t 
available for breakfast… The frustrated gunman walked away. (*A 
5-STAR STUPIDITY AWARD WINNER) 

–When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home 
parked on a Seattle street by sucking on a hose, he got much more 
than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very 
sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A 
police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal 
gasoline, but he plugged his siphon hose into the motor home’s 
sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to 
press charges saying that it was the best laugh he’d ever had and 
the perp had been punished enough! 

And the winner:

When his .38 caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended 
victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber 
James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He 
peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it 
worked. 

Thanks go out to Bernard Karon for passing along this much-deserved recognition.