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Sometimes I love getting my tightie-whities in a bunch over a relatively stupid or insignificant issue. Well I’ve got some bunching going on. I mean I’ve got a real briefs-as-thong kind of issue.

When typing on a computer—you only put one space after the end of a sentence. I will offset this to be clearer.

You ONLY put ONE space after a period, question mark, or exclamation point.

The crazy thing about this is that once vibrant and loving relationships between English teachers across the country have soured into acrimonious enmity and name-calming or silent-treatments. I love it.

Here is the deal.

If you are over 35 years old, you may —may— have learned to type on a typewriter. If you are between 14 and 35 you were probably taught to type by someone who learned to type on a typewriter. That means you were probably taught the two-space rule. Erroneously taught the two-space rule.

Now, there are some of you who may already be feeling that heat rising up your neck. The percolating rage slowly squeezing your throat. That righteous indignation firing the lobes of your ears to a fuchsial ire.

But, alas, in this case I am right. And, trust me, that is not always the case.

Look, I’m gonna pull out the proof for all-y’all.

From the Chicago Manual of Style Online:

“There is a traditional American practice, favored by some, of leaving two spaces after colons and periods. This practice is discouraged by the University of Chicago Press, especially for formally published works and the manuscripts from which they are published.”

And even clearer:

“[I]ntroducing two spaces after the period causes problems: (1) it is inefficient, requiring an extra keystroke for every sentence; (2) even if a program is set to automatically put an extra space after a period, such automation is never foolproof; (3) there is no proof that an extra space actually improves readability […]; (4) two spaces are harder to control for than one in electronic […]; and (5) two spaces can cause problems with line breaks in certain programs.”

And from the Modern Language Association (MLA) web site:

“Publications in the United States today usually have the same spacing after a punctuation mark as between words on the same line. Since word processors make available the same fonts used by typesetters for printed works, many writers, influenced by the look of typeset publications, now leave only one space after a concluding punctuation mark. In addition, most publishers’ guidelines for preparing electronic manuscripts ask authors to type only the spaces that are to appear in print.”

And just for shiggles, Grammar Girl:

“Although how many spaces you use is ultimately a style choice, using one space is by far the most widely accepted and logical style. The Chicago Manual of Style , the AP Stylebook , and the Modern Language Association all recommend using one space after a period at the end of a sentence.”

These are three organizations that deal with writing and, furthermore, writing about writing.

Now, for those of you still reading, I must say that the APA (American Psychological Association) has just changed to the following:

“The new edition of the Publication Manual recommends that authors include two spaces after each period in draft manuscripts. For many readers, especially those tasked with reading stacks of term papers or reviewing manuscripts submitted for publication, this new recommendation will help ease their reading by breaking up the text into manageable, more easily recognizable chunks.”

First of all, I call bullshit on an extra space “breaking up the text into manageable, more easily recognizable chunks.” My guess is that some traditional two-spacer has gotten control of the APA and is having their way with the organization. My second problem with following the APA on this one comes from an experience I had in grad school.

I was in a history class (which traditionally used APA style) doing a paper on the poetry of John Donne — I think I called it “God is Some Sexy Love,” or something like that— anyway, the APA didn’t have a rule for citing poetry. Let me write that again. The APA didn’t have a rule for citing poetry. My professor said, “Do it however you want then.” Seriously?

Okay, now, strangely enough, Grammar Girl really got to the crux of my issue:

“Furthermore, page designers have written in begging me to encourage people to use one space because if you send them a document with two spaces after the periods, they have to go in and take all the extra spaces out.”

I cannot tell you how many extra spaces I have removed from other people’s documents before printing or layout work. It has made me go momentarily blind.

So, I guess, as all things seem to go, it’s all about me. What a selfish bastard I am. All for the hate of two-space.

Yes, you’re correct. I am talking about my internet access.

I have been without home access to the internet since Friday night.

I know, I know. You probably read Monday’s blog posting. Uploaded from the theatre the night before, not from the comfort of my home.

I am utterly surprised at how much it’s killing me. I’m driving out in my pajamas at 11:00 at night to my secret internet access points and sending/receiving email.

Then, in the morning, I’m packing my kid up and doing the same thing.

I feel like a junkie.

And the thing that’s really killing me about this is a two-prong bident of frustration poking in the ass of my self-esteem. 1) I am such a technidiot that I can’t fix it myself; 2) my wife, who can fix it, is at the end of the school year and simply doesn’t have the time to fix it yet (and she’s eight and one-half months pregnant) so I can’t whine to her about it.

Oh, and my freelance work is online and email based.

Oh, and the game that I am utterly addicted to needs internet access to run.

Oh, yeah, and the other game I got to soothe the lost access of the first more addictive one has run out of levels and is telling me I need to purchase it to move on.

And …

Give me a second, I’m sure it’s worse…

Nope, that might be it. But isn’t that enough?

Oh, yeah! I knew I’d think of another one. I’ve been waiting to get a rather important email with the scripted sketches I need to memorize for a show two weekends from now. How the hell am I supposed to obsessively check my email every twenty-three minutes if I’m having to toss my kid in the car, drive to my secret coffee house access point, and read my computer hunkered in my car with my sunglasses on while trying to fend off my kid from eating his twelfth pack of bagged applesauce because we’ve already spent nine hours in the car online today? Huh? Come on!

Okay. Now I have to pack up and go to the parking lot of a local grocery store with wi-fi access to upload this post. And it’s raining.

But I don’t have an addiction. I could quit any time I want to.

I might pick up a Ben&Jerrys while I’m there, too.

You must have come back (otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this), so thanks for understanding my need to take last week off.

Well, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe opened to a sold out house this weekend. That was pretty exciting. Things went pretty well, considering the huge amount of tech, the ridiculous number of mics and sound cues, thirteen dance numbers and thirty actors, 17 of whom are kids. Whew.

Usually I’m nervous on opening night. I’m up in the balcony pacing back and forth. But there was standing room only Friday night, so there was no way I could pace. I made it about ten minutes into the first act before I had to go into the lobby. I essentially missed the whole first act.

But I got myself back together for the second act. I was able to watch most of it without blacking out. The 500+ audience members seemed to like it, so it was all good.

I was, naturally, sick. A cold that I acquired early in the week dropped into my chest. It got so bad that on Saturday night, our second sold-out show, I gave my pep-talk to the cast and crew then went home. It was the first time — for any show that I have directed — that I did not stay to watch the whole show. Going home made me feel guilty. But laying in front of the TV in my all-flannels hugging a box of tissues and drinking hot tea made me feel a lot better.

Something else happened last week that really got me jazzed. I was offered a freelance writing gig for a local start-up company. I am pretty stoked about it because it affords me the chance to mix together several things I love, teaching, writing, and food. We had a second meeting on Thursday to go over some samples I created and sent them. I wasn’t really feeling that it was my best work, but they liked it. So  I signed some papers and talked some projects and left pretty happy.

I’m a little nervous about it now, because the guy I met with seemed pretty excited to get me some texts to review after he met with his CFO. I was pretty sure that he would get them to me Friday night so I could begin working on them during the weekend. But I have yet to receive them.

Over the last few months a couple of projects I’ve been pretty stoked about have fallen though, either due to timing issues or lack of interest on the other’s part. So, I’m hoping this one doesn’t mysteriously fall into that category.

The final good bit of new news involves my favorite summer activity: The Classics at Brucemore. For those of you who don’t know, the CaB is one of the first outdoor theatre events in Eastern Iowa. It’s been running now for sixteen(?) years…I think. You know how bad I am with time. I was lucky enough to get involved with it the second year of its existence.

It’s a once a year theatre experience that has a core company of actors who’ve now been working together for quite some time. I’ve directed the last couple of shows, but this year I finally get to play on stage again.

We’re doing The Tempest. What a beautiful show for our outdoor space.

I’m playing Sebastian, one of the heinous “brothers” that people this show. Come to think of it Leslie, the director, has now cast me as a murderer, a crazy Nazi, and now a totally amoral doof. Hmmm… And each role has been crazy-fun. I can’t wait.

Most of my scenes also happen to be with a great friend of mine who had assistant directed for me many times. But, oddly enough, we have never acted in a scene together. Again, I can’t wait.

Now the bugaboo of the week, other than my illness. Our modem went kaput. I’m trying feverishly to finish this posting at a coffee house, so I can get home and finish all the work I know my wife wanted me to do this weekend.

Both of us are online so much (most of my work is done online) that this is going to suck. But my wife usually has some wizardy hoo-doo with technology, so I’m afraid to go out and buy a new one in case she can get the old one working.

Okay, all caught up. Now to scoot back home and get my vacuuming on. That sucks too.

Sorry.

Okay, so morel hunting season is starting up, and, as I understand it, there are two camps:

Camp One is “Oh, my god, let’s get on our hiking boots, grab a big bag and go. I can’t wait!”

Camp Two is “What?”

I will take this moment to posit that there is a third camp, my camp: “I want to love the morel, but I just simply can’t put that thing in my mouth.”

I think that I can pinpoint my dislike — well, I can’t really call it that — let’s call it distrust — my distrust of morels.

It took me a long — a really long — time to get into fungi. I probably had my first fresh button mushroom in my early thirties. My knowledge of mushrooms was completely formed by cans and Chinese restaurants. Slimy, gray, pungent, slippery sticks of rubbery snot.

It probably didn’t help that I had to open those six-pound cans of mushrooms for my pizza job in college, the sickening smell, like food-borne formaldehyde, grabbing my forest of nose-hairs and ripping them violently up into my brain cavity. You might say that it left an impression.

My first memory of eating good mushrooms came from my wife, my then off-and-on-and-off-and-on-and-off-and-on girlfriend. She really only cooks about four things: fajitas, hard-boiled eggs, sautéed mushrooms, and … okay, maybe three.

Anyway, she was going through this mushroom phase and I was, quite frankly, a little appalled. But then I saw her cook them. Little white buttons sliced to about an eighth of an inch piled on the cutting board. Butter sizzling in the skillet. She dumped the buttons in the skillet, turned them a couple of times then coated them liberally with a mixed Cajun spice, and it was done. Simple.

You know how there are those people who believe that bacon makes everything better? Or, wait! I once had a friend who liked to say, “You can deep fry a turd and I’ll eat it.” I kind of feel that way about butter.

Butter got me over the hump. It was simple — three ingredients — and delicious. So that got me into the fungi.

I can’t remember when I started hearing about the whole morel thing. It’s like a weird food cult, you know. But I heard that a couple of our friends were avid morel hunters, so I mentioned it to them. They got all excited and turned suddenly evangelical about it. It was a little disconcerting.

They were heading out the next week and told me they would bring me back some good ones. I was pretty stoked about it.

What they brought me back was a Ziploc baggie of pale, slimy alien phalluses. There, I said it: Alien Phallus.

Now, as much as I like to think of myself as a “foodie” I am not a nose to tail guy. I once had beef heart at a restaurant well-known for its beef heart, surrounded by slavering beef heart lovers, and it was all I could do not to launch my half-digested beef heart onto the center of the table. I drank a lot of wine that dinner.

Anyway, what I am saying is that I am not the kind of guy who vacations to Bangkok for the tiger penis.

I couldn’t eat those morels. I could barely grab the bag they were holding out for me.

That was years ago. And I have recently been thinking that I might give it another go.

Then I was listening to my podcast of The Splendid Table. She was talking to this guy who was getting ready to go out morel hunting. They sounded like two basement-boys at a Comic-Con talking about the new Green Lantern movie.

Anyway, the guy said he liked to reconstitute his dried morels in milk. I nearly had to pull over. For some reason that just reached down my throat and pulled my stomach up to my larynx.

It might have put me off morels in perpetuity.

So, as one major project begins to wind down my mind has begun to wander to the next.

Here is the problem. I have been so blindly immersed in my present project that every other project has all but disappeared from my radar. Or, perhaps a better analogy: while my present project has been fixed with the goods from the front of the refrigerator, the others, pushed to unreachable back corners, have grown green fur and suppurated through neglect. So much so that it’s difficult to see their original forms.

Suffice to say, when I finally sat back and looked to the next project — assured of a momentary respite — I actually had a bit of a panic attack. There is simply too much I want to do and too little time. Or, to be honest, too little energy to do it in my desired time frame.

I am finding my focus wandering much more of late. Instead of my thirty-minute lunch television, I find myself having ingested a full hour or hour-and-a-half of relatively mindless, though enjoyable, cable pap.

I’m tired. It’s that simple.

And while I would love to be a buck-up-and-do-it drill sergeant type guy, I’m not. So the sweet water of focus and drive come from a very, very deep well with a small bucket and a long rope.

Waah waah waah.

So, I guess I’m going to have to fall back to the one gimmick that pulls me through, if forced, during these dry and self-loathing times: schedules.

I hate them: schedules.

There is a smack of creative stunting to them for me. Stunting as in impeding creativity, not stunting as in jumping a clown car over a flaming short bus.

So as this King reclines dying, sated and fulfilled though he is, I must look to the heir apparent. Or at least schedule his impending coronation.

I love cooking shows. I may have discussed this before, so sorry … but …

Especially the competition shows. It’s like watching instant creativity. I’m suffused with wonder and respect for the chef and, I must admit, envy.

I had, at one time thought about becoming a chef.

One of my clearest memories is of a dinner I made for my family. I was in high school. Maybe sophomore year. My mother had these great Time-Life recipes of the world books. I pulled out the French one, Provence, I think. The whole dinner was from that book. And the thing I remember most was the cream of carrot soup. That dish, perhaps that dish alone, fired my desire to cook.

My first couple of years of college I worked for the college’s pizza delivery company, Wild Pizza. I love it … after my first nearly ruinous night. I was asked to make the dough — I think it was for the next day, but I can’t quite remember. Anyway I misread the yeast. I converted tablespoons to cups. Yeah, bad, and even worse, stupid — stoooooopid.

I loved Wild Pizza. We would put anything on our pizzas. The O’Malley, although new to me was an old pizza for Boston: Just crack a couple of eggs on top. It could be a sausage O’Malley or a pep O’Malley or even an Hawaiian O’Malley. But we had stoned and drunk frat boys calling in for Lucky Charms pizza or pastrami pizza. We worked out of the food service hall, so if we had it we put it on. I even have a vague memory of making a pizza pizza, where we took a frozen pizza, chopped it up and put it as toppings on a fresh pizza.

Then at the U of Iowa I worked at the State Room, our fine dining restaurant. I worked for a crazy Frenchman named Andre. I started at Salads, did desserts, and ended up on Grill. This experience kind of took the food wind out of my chef sails. It wasn’t the hours, which were horrible, especially for a college student. It wasn’t the heat, though it only took leaning once against the tile wall by the grill to learn not to do it again. It was the insanity.

Andre was insane. The megalomaniacal Greek sous chef was insane, mean, and had a zip code-ego. The staff was filled with kooky, pot-smoking, gad-about nymphomaniacs. Don’t get me wrong, that last part was fun, but really, really, really, tiring. And they would screw each other (metaphorically) to make themselves look better, paid better, and get more time off.

It was the politics of insanity in a relatively irrelevant world. I don’t do that well.

So when I see people who work in that insanity (because I know that insanity is prevalent in restaurants) able to rise above the petty groo-groo whackum, and clear their minds enough to create tasty food on the fly, they get my instant artistic respect.

I feel like I get a little  creative boost from their creativity. And that kind of art, edible or not, feeds my soul.

I love names. Nothing makes me giggle uncontrollably like a good name. And by good I mean unusual or, even better, totally inappropriate. Chihuahuas named Mongo and Bruiser. Newfoundlands named Pixie. Poodles named Spike. And that’s just the dog world.

My first wife was a cat lover. I was allergic and didn’t really care about the feline petanalia, but she loved them, so we got one — a beautiful black cat with a pleasant personality. And by that I mean she didn’t leave the room when I came in. We named her Sam.

After about a year, we got another cat. This one was more like a dog and I really liked it. But the naming of this cat was perhaps one of the first cracks in our domestic blissdom. I was really pushing for Ella. I mean I loved the idea. And she did, too. Until I spilled the beans on the reason. Sam and Ella. Sam an’ Ella. Say it out loud and think of chicken.

We ended up naming her Lucy. She wasn’t a Lucy. If anything she was a Mongo, but alas. In the divorce my ex got that cats and I got her ABBA CDs, so …

When I worked for dad in high school —

TANGENT: If you have never worked for your parent as a high schooler, I can’t really consider you an adult. It’s like Israeli compensatory military service, or Mwiri scarification, or Kuria circumcision, or whatever in god’s name the poor kids of the Baruya tribe from Papua, New Guinea have to do. Don’t look that one up. I’m telling you, there is not enough mind-bleach in the world to undo that knowledge.

My dad’s rite of passage was making out with his cousin, Lulah, behind Phillips derrick #428. But that’s what all the boys did. It was kind of like working for a parent. At least it involved some form of nepotism.

— when I worked for dad in high school, I began collecting names. He worked for a humongous insurance middle-man, and it was my job to open the envelopes, sort the incoming insurance applications into their respective companies, and alphabetize each pile.

It was a treasure trove. A veritable Xanadu of monikerial bliss.

Unfortunately, my notebook of that time was lost in a flurry of post-adolescent anti-nostalgic cleansing, but I do remember some of the good ones.

There was an old guy, maybe 80, who was applying for insurance (I remember thinking that was funny and “ironic” thirty years ago — now it’s just become … well…), anyway his name was Flenoil Lane. Crazy. I’ve loved that name for years.

When we got the GE account, I remember thinking we would get a lot of hoity-toity Eastern rich names, like Bowden Rutgers-Brown III, or something. But the one, or two, that I remember from that spate was a set of twins: Avalanche and Spring Summers. I mean, seriously?

But the best name of my youth actually came from a friend of mine (and I know you are reading this). He lived across from a man named Gaylord Seaman. Gold, I tell you. GOLD.

Wow. If you follow this blog, you may have noticed that the end of last week was bereft of my writing. Not because of any apathy, as some of you who know me might assume. No, no, dear reader. I was pummeled by my own silly scheduling and my son’s sleeplessness.

My boy had two terrible nights where he was up between 1 and 5:30 or so. Thus my wife and I had two terrible nights. On Thursday night he and I had a car ride starting at 3am and ending a little after 4:30. I am not kidding. I did three circuits through my city. Usually about 15 minutes is all he can take until he is gone gone gone. But he was up and talkative the entire ride. I finally just gave up.

When we got home we snuggled for another hour talking about how everyone else he knew in the world was sleeping. How sleeping made the day better because you can play more and laugh more. I pleaded a little. He finally went down. And, thank god, my wife called in a sub so we could tag team during the day, because I was fried and had a rehearsal schedule to finish and a show to perform that night. It was an awful ending to an already stressful week.

On the positive end, my new cast for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is killer. I’ve got about 17 actors under seventeen years old. The rest is a mix of old hands and novice board-walkers, so it is what a community theatre experience should be. That makes me feel pretty good.

On the down side, so many people auditioned (240ish) that several good actors and many, many, good kids were cut. That hurt to do. But this city is so strangely filled with talent that it’s hard get everyone in a show.

This weekend was not the energizing respite that I was hoping for. Still working the music for the show. Still working the ridiculous rehearsal schedule. And — joy of joys! — we meet with our accountant for our taxes Monday afternoon. So all those receipts that I put off entering needed entering.

Oh, well. I have a good feeling about this week.

Wednesday I will finish my post about the kids’ audition. That was something!

Pathetic admission: I love the idea of Atlantis. The lost city, not the resort, although I wouldn’t eschew an all-expense-paid week-long vacation there.

My love for Atlantis is rooted in the same source as my love for tombstones and theatre. It’s the impermanence that intrigues me. It reminds me that I am here now, but tomorrow could be freely unencumbered with all things me.

I have had a fascination with tombstones for a long time. I was on a photo jag for a while, even. I love the futile sense of permanence that they afford the dying and the grieving. Their immediate monument to our existence recedes certainly by the second generation after our passing. I would hasten to say that few of us could pinpoint our great-grandparents’ cemeteries, must less their gravemarkers.

As it is with Atlantis. It was really only originally mentioned in one text: Plato’s dialogues of Timaeus and Critias. Most people think it’s only a myth. But that’s what people thought about Ilium, otherwise known as Troy. Very few archeologists believed that Troy existed. Even after Schliemann discovered it, people fought the very idea of its existence. But it does exist.

I want someone to find Atlantis. And I want the Atlantis they find to be mythos made real: The greatest town of its time, the most advanced civilization (some even say it they understood electricity as we do). And then it’s just gone. Crazy.

That is really the thing that makes me know I’m alive. Impermanence. Here today…but tomorrow?

Live today, man. Good little plan.

I want to create and own a restaurant.

How insane is that?

I’ll tell you how insane. I don’t have any culinary training. I don’t have any money. I live in a city that is notorious for it’s eschewing of gastronomic creativity.

But hey, I love food. So I’ve got that going for me.

I have wanted to own a restaurant for ages. I remember in middle school we had a unit in some class where we created a business. Maybe it was high school — I can’t remember that detail. But I created a restaurant. Andrew’s I called it. I had a menu — I think my dad still has it in a file (I’m 42 years old). I even had a floor plan on graph paper. That was just the first restaurant I dreamed up.

Later in high school — I can’t remember if it was for a business class, maybe Econ — I created F. Scott’s. This was my favorite. I had just come off reading The Great Gatsby, which I hated. But I loved the setting.

F. Scott’s was, I admit, a probable money-pit. It was a Roaring Twenties theme, complete with band, singer, roving photographer, and (then) cigarette girl. Steak tartare, foie gras torchon, filet mignon, rack of lamb, stuff like that. I’m sure the overhead would have been a killer.

There was a great restaurant here in town called blend. It was so good, so creative. A couple of venture capitalists, a culinary teacher from our local culinary school, and a couple of young turk chefs. I heard they’d get together, watch Monday Night Football, drink some beer, and make up their menus.

They changed their menu each month or so, which I think is brilliant. And it was wildly creative. They also had an option for a tasting menu of their most popular items. It was so good.

But we had that unbelievable flood, and they were flooded out. Then our city government couldn’t’ pull their heads out of their asses and our downtown still hasn’t recovered. But blend was one of the first places to reopen, really trying to get downtown going again. And that was their downfall. People just weren’t willing to head back down yet. It was the best restaurant in town, and I if I had the money I would have invested in it to try and keep it going.

So here is my new food-kink: a healthy fast food joint. My new eating style is really making eating on the fly impossible. McD’s, BK, Hardee’s, Taco Bell: even their “healthy options” aren’t that healthy.

It can’t be that hard to design an incredibly tasty menu of healthy wraps and sides. How about a tofu chimichurri wrap with a side of roasted sweet potato spears? Or a veggie garlic aioli wrap with a side of raw carrot batonnets? Or a balsamic chicken roasted-veggie wrap with a side of fried carrot chips? Or pear, banana, Nutella, cinnamon, and ricotta wrapped in a cocoa tortilla?

If I were running errands and got caught short on lunch, I would go out of my way to drive-thru at this place rather than tuck into a Hardee’s Six Dollar Burger — which I not only love, but have actually dreamt about. Sad, but true.

But alas, I live in a meat-and-fried-potatoes city (if not state). I would give the establishment about six months. But with the right location, I bet it would be sizzling.

Oh, there are more restaurants I want to open. With the funds and gumption I could probably become a serial restauranteur.

Just another form of gluttony I guess.