Material. Timing. Delivery. And the beauty of random disregard.

Life is busy and such, mostly in ways good. But one must never disregard the wisdom of Miss Latella Rosannadana.

(Ed Note: Eagle-eyed reader Popopopopovich correctly points out that it was in fact Rosanna Rosanadanna who made famous the “It’s always something” catchphrase. The management apologizes for any inconvenience and begs forbearance of the litigious demons of the Gilda Radner Estate.1Worse than Disney, I hear. The Writer has been put on a strict diet of gruel made from the ground up bones of our recently departed fact-checker. We regret the error.)

It’s always something.

In the past two weeks…two biopsies to try and figure out why my aching Studebaker of a body continues to drop parts despite the mechanics’ best efforts. The first: mostly negative (yay!) but inconclusive as to another one of those melodramatic ‘C’ word diagnoses. Results of the latest test due Friday. I expect good news, as most of my symptoms have disappeared untreated. Go figger.2And I still cannot grip a guitar, and fk that shit, Rupert.

In the meantime, Awesome Daughter is expecting news about whether her first choice college welcomes her with open arms. Decision day is Friday. Well.

Yesterday, as she was asking for a favor, she demurred at pushing too hard, because (her words) “you’re dealing with that whole cancer thing.” I laughed so hard I thought I’d plotz. And of course, she won her request. Comedy is all about material, timing, and delivery. A-plus on all fronts.

This evening, we were all laughing about her remark.3Graveyard whistling and disregard for solemnity being big around these parts. Son declared her horrible. I declared him my favorite, as one is always well-advised to encourage sycophancy from the underlings.

Then it struck me: a thought experiment!4I’ve been reading the latest Daniel Dennett. My puzzlers are not nearly as profound, but I aver to the inspiration.

A family awaits two pieces of news of critical importance. Only one response can be positive. Do you, daughter, wish me to be cancer-free, or do you wish to be accepted to your dream school?

Zero hesitation from my (truly) loving and wonderful child:

College acceptance. Cancer is treatable.

A moment of WTF was that pause, and then we all fell down laughing.

Material was a tad off center, but the timing and delivery was pure Coltrane. Brava.

Also, too, in the realm of casual disregard….

The bloggy vineyard of i2b attracts a steady parade of eyeballs, but few of the humans bother to leave comments. This makes me very sad.5Try to hear that phrase in the icy teutonic accent of Heidi Klum dismissing a Project Runway contestant for bad taste.

So, dear reader, your random disregard leads me to bask in the warming glow of nothing but spambot generated comments intended to entice me to purchase sports jerseys, weight loss supplements, and penis enhancers.6Aside from the jerseys, none of that stuff is for real. Believe me. But I’ve come to love some of these simplistic machine friends, as their comments serve to encourage continued blogularity.7And to stimulate my tumescence for under the medically recommended four-hour maximum. To wit:

What i don’t understood is in reality how you are not actually a lot more neatly-appreciated than you may be right now. You are so intelligent. You know therefore significantly in terms of this subject, made me in my view consider it from a lot of various angles. Its like men and women are not fascinated except it is something to accomplish with Girl gaga! Your individual stuffs excellent. At all times care for it up!

Damn right, registered user Tanya3756dc from Uzbekistan. And thanks for the shout out.

There are two kinds of these auto-messages. One is dry, written in impeccably poor language, and offering nothing but commercial enticement. But such feeble witterings are not sufficient for my dear Tanya3765dc. These comments find art in the strangest places.

You know therefore significantly in terms of this subject, made me in my view consider it from a lot of various angles. Its like men and women are not fascinated except it is something to accomplish with Girl gaga!

A shrewd judge of literary merit is my Tanya3765. Indeed, does not Girl Gaga make the world go ’round? Mais bien sur!  Even Cole Porter knew that!

Your individual stuffs excellent. At all times care for it up!

You bet your sweet Uzbekian bippy, Tanya. My individual stuffs excellent, as legions far and wide will attest.

But more critically, my beloved Tanya3765, despite her automated disposition and limited linguistic facility, has arrived at the existential core of Immune to Boredom:

At all times care for it up.

Amen, Sister Tanya3765. Amen.

And one last thing….

I watched Casablanca for around the 75th time last night. I was really just going to watch for a minute, but one thing led to Sam and Ilsa and Les Marseilles and “Shocked, shocked I say!” and I was done for. And while I always choke up at the big moments and miss subtleties because goddammit the problems of two people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this world and we’ll always have Paris, and therefore I’m a helpless heap incapable of critical scrutiny…what I realized in watching this time was: there is not one wasted word, frame, musical note in this movie. Every cut, every aside, every casual glance at the side of the scene contributes to a deeper story.

Try to think of more than a few works of art that achieve this superb economy.

You think the great works of Dickens or Dostoyevsky or Tolstoy might not have benefited from a little judicious pruning? How about Lawrence of Arabia, or even Billy the Bard’s plays? Oh, how they do go on!

Even my favorite book of ever, the infinite Infinite Jest…even that epic could probably have lost a word or 5000 and suffered nothing from the loss.8Though I would not be the one to cut even a punctuation mark from that one.

I bring this point to bear for two reasons.

One, Casablanca may just be a perfect piece of art. Consider it. The story is timeless. The material is poetry. The delivery and timing, utterly majestic.

Two: however perfect the movie may be as an example of aesthetic precision and efficiency, this blog post stakes out the opposite pole as an exemplar of free-floating random and discursive disregard.

Mea culpa. This shit don’t write itself.

Here’s looking at you, kid.


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[…] Last week left us with a thought experiment, predicated on the proposition that, given two pieces of looming news, only one can possibly turn out well.1For me, that qualified as a burst of optimism. jQuery("#footnote_plugin_tooltip_1").tooltip({ tip: "#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_1", tipClass: "footnote_tooltip", effect: "fade", fadeOutSpeed: 100, predelay: 400, position: "top right", relative: true, offset: [10, 10] }); […]

David 02/11/2015
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Speaking of comic timing, O and I were eating dinner at a local b-b-que joint the other night when she said, “Dad, I wanna be on Family Feud.” Of course, I started doing a bad impression of Dickie Dawson, when O blurts out, “Name something that they pull of out of your body…and the survey says…


Nearly spewed my hush puppies!

Gary 02/10/2015
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A very cool read, but one nit … Wasn’t “It’s always something” in the domain of Rosanne Rosannadanna?

Karen 02/10/2015
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Miss the laughter of your family but smile just thinking about it! Such wit- you are a lucky man!

Deb 02/10/2015
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Love you, Rob. I’m not nearly as smart as you, which leaves me a bit intimidated about responding. But what the hell.
I think forget Dream School. As much as I love Anna, I suggest any and all school monies go toward a family trip to Italy.

Very good. I’m glad my jokes have improved. I will work on the material.

Tim 02/10/2015
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Care for it up, indeed!

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