Thursday, May 24, 2012

And you thought the golden arches were big

On my way to work this morning, I had just made it through the tangle where Metcalf and I-435 intersect, when my eye was drawn to a towering, red-headed figure off to my left. It was an inflatable Ronald McDonald, rising up from the roof of a newly constructed McDonald's. Oh good, I thought, this will provide a nice distraction for the commuters exiting off I-435 and attempting to merge into traffic.

If this Ronald were concerned that his startling presence might cause accidents, he didn't show it. He smiled guilelessly out at the passing cars, exhibiting not a flicker of doubt that this was his rightful place on the American landscape. It was easy to imagine that he might consider himself belonging in the same club as benevolent national monuments like the Statue of Liberty, beckoning the tired, the hungry, from their teeming shores to his McDonaldland.

As I crawled down Metcalf, the huddled masses crawling alongside me, I found myself thinking that if only the inflatable factory had molded his arms into an outstretched position, his palms upraised, motorists could fancy him a stand-in for the super-sized Jesus that overlooks Rio De Janeiro. But as it was, his right arm had been bent to make it appear he was waving. It was just as well. He's too puffy, too yellow to be a source of inspiration. Too pleased with himself. His lack of self-consciousness by the roadway is galling, but I suppose it's the mark of a great huckster.

The clown thing has worked out well for McDonald's, but if they're going to do roof-top advertising, I think they need a new tack. If causing driving distractions isn't a concern, why not go for something really eye-catching?

Personally, when it comes to inflatables, I think nothing beats a gorilla.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Have Skirt, Will Travel (Eventually)

I swear I feel like Mrs. Wiggins today from the Carol Burnett Show.

I'm wearing this skirt which narrows down at the bottom which makes it impossible to walk fast. "Here let me get that for you," I tell a library patron. As they stand and wait at the service desk, I head off for the shelves, slowly inching my way across the room, forced to take baby steps, the hem of my skirt hugging me around the knees.

I get my arms into the act, trying to propel myself forward, but the skirt holds me back. I wonder whether jumping would be faster. But I would have to jump with both legs together, and would resemble a disabled kid in a sack race at the school picnic, afflicted with middle-aged hips and varicosed veins, and chocolate drool on her chin.

Well, this is a library, after all, not the Quickie Hut, and we've never promised to be fast. I really don't think it should bother anyone if I take a little longer with my coming and going today. What's weighing on my mind is the end of the day, and trying to get out of here and get home. It's a long, long, walk out to the parking lot.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


For most people the month of May brings to mind may baskets and flowers, Mother's Day...things we think of as sweet and wholesome. But I think about maypoles, the ancient customs that once surrounded them, and the big party we could all be enjoying, if we put aside our modern sensibilities for just one month, and embraced the Maypole. After all, May used to be a time of debauchery. Even Julie Andrews sang about the "Lusty month of May" in the Broadway production of Camelot.

According to Wikipedia, cranky Protestants in the 16th century frowned on maypoles and maypole doins', and cracked down on the revelers. Even here in the New World, maypole enthusiasts met with persecution.

Records show that in 1628, William Bradford, governor of New Plymouth, wrote of an incident where indentured servants fled their servitude and formed their own colony. They erected a maypole in the center of their settlement, and engaged in shameful maypole activities, much to the scorn and disapproval of the nearby colonies.

In Bradford's words:

"They also set up a May-pole, drinking and dancing about it many days togaether, inviting the Indean women, for their consorts, dancing and frisking togither, (like so many fairies, or furies rather,) and worse practises. As if they had anew revived & celebrated the feasts of ye Roman Goddes Flora, or ye beasly practieses of ye madd Bacchinalians. Morton likwise (to shew his poetrie) composed sundry rimes & verses, some tending to lasciviousnes, and others to ye detraction & scandall of some persons, which he affixed to this idle or idoll May-polle. They chainged allso the name of their place, and in stead of calling it Mounte Wollaston, they call it Merie-mounte, as if this joylity would have lasted ever. But this continued not long, for after Morton was sent for England, shortly after came over that worthy gentleman, Mr. John Indecott, who brought a patent under ye broad seall, for ye governmente of ye Massachusets, who visiting those parts caused ye May-polle to be cutt downe, and rebuked them for their profannes, and admonished them to looke ther should be better walking; so they now, or others, changed ye name of their place againe, and called it Mounte-Dagon."[20]