In the “Umm…all right” Category

I was on the train the other day sitting down in front of a man.

Obviously homeless. Obviously crazy. This man spoke out loud.

He spoke to an invisible person in the seat right next to him.

I noticed something quite odd about the rhythm of his speech pattern.

He spoke in short, choppy sentences, with word choices out of the norm.

There was quite a long pause between each line. He’d speak briefly, then silence.

Each spoken line seemed odd. Why that choice of words? Finally, I got it.

Each line said had exactly seventeen syllables. Yes, I counted.

I listened to him the whole train ride, and counted each line one by one.

Seventeen syllables. Pause. Pause. Then seventeen syllables. Pause. Pause.

I don’t know if it was purposeful, but for half an hour it went on.

This man spoke in haiku to an invisible friend. I was enthralled.

I share ’cause it seemed the kind of thing you guys would appreciate.

So fascinated was I that I decided to challenge myself.

Could I write this post exactly seventeen syllables at a time?

I don’t know if that man was conscious of his efforts or just crazy.

It doesn’t matter. Perhaps it was just one of those times to live art.

L.12.1: Funt’s Rules Revisited

All in all, I feel my rules are pretty much the same, and actually, I think that I am following these rules more now than I was when I wrote them. But for the sake of the assignment I will expand and reflect on each.

1) It’s okay not to finish something. Process is more important than product. If you’ve learned all and stretched yourself as much as you can, finishing for finishing sake is not necessary.

I still live by this one, and I think that this one makes me more Lichtenbergian than anything. While I do believe that process is more important than product, this can often get me into the trap of never finishing things. I LIKE writing this screenplay. I LIKE making this animated short. If it’s ever finished, then I won’t get to work on it anymore. Futzing with it forever is a much more inviting idea. “Ah,” I tell myself, “But when this thing is done, I get to start work on a new thing, and have fun working on that.” Reasonable, but then from another part of my brain, “Yes, but you KNOW working on this is fun. What if working on the next thing isn’t.? Or the next thing? What if I never work on anything that is as fun as working on this thing?” And so it goes.

2) Have something to write/draw with or on with you at all times.

Yes. I do this. I have a very specific breed of notebook that I like having with me in particular. I like them so much, in fact that I have bought out Target’s entire supply three times, so I have a stockpile of them in my closet just in case Target decides not to carry them anymore.

3) Let everything inspire you.

With the aid of hindsight, I find that I am really good at copping out on Lichtenbergian questions sometimes. Of course on this one. I suppose a better way of saying this one would be: Look for inspiration outside of your tried and true sources, and don’t have hard and fast rules about how something is inspiring to you. I have tried to make from an interesting magazine article I read one time, a screenplay, a short story, and an animated short. Now it is the inspiration for a one-man show, which is the perfect way to tell this story. You’re idea for a graphic novel might make a better short film. Or your poem might make a better song. Who knows.

4) It’s never either as good as you think it will be or as bad as you think it’s turned out.

Okay. Except when it is.

5) Have fun.

I hate how simple this one is, but it’s true. the idea of the tortured artist is preposterous to me. If it isn’t fun to work on or be a part of, don’t fucking do it.

That wasn’t too painful. But I agree that a series of rules for kickstarting might be in order.

A Lichtenbergian Charitable Contribution

Tonight as I walked home from Grinchmas it was nice and chilly, I was listening to Christmas music on my iPod, and I was just generally feeling in the holiday spirit. As I walked I lamented that with Grinchmas, I didn’t have time to do something charitable this year for the holidays. Something where I could donate my time, like a soup kitchen or giving out presents to sick kids. Things I have done in the past, but not for a while. I really wished that I could do something like that because this year, more than I have in a long time, I feel very fortunate, and I wanted to give back.

As I neared CVS, where I was headed, an older black homeless guy came up to me and asked if I could spare any change on Christmas. I stopped in my tracks. I said, “Listen, man, I’m going in here to CVS. You come in here with me, and I’ll get you whatever you want.” He looked at me askance, as I am sure he doesn’t get this kind of offer often. I said, “I’m serious. Come on in with me.”

Let me stop you right here just to let you know that this homeless man does not turn out to be Jesus at the end of this story.

We went in and he went over to the little prepared foods section and grabbed a sandwich, then a bag of chips. Then he went up to the candy counter and grabbed a candy bar. Almost like a little kid he came up to me and said, “Can I get this too?” I said, “Get whatever you want, dude.” He grabbed two candy bars. Then he went to the liquor section–yes, in California there is a liquor section in CVS. He grabbed a small bottle of cheapo vodka, looked at me sheepishly and asked, “Can I get this too?” I said, “If you want it, get it.” Then I pointed to another bottle that was a little more expensive, but not much, and asked, “You want one of these?” He said, “No, I like this kind.”

I got my things and went up to the counter. He looked ready to run at any second, as if I had planned to lure him to the counter and then say, “I don’t know what this man is talking about. I’m not purchasing this stuff!” I bought the things and ended up spending a little over sixteen bucks on the guy.

We got outside, and he held his bag. He looked at me with tears in his eyes, and said, “That’s one of the nicest things anybody every did for me.”

I said, “Nah, Merry Christmas, man.”

“Merry Christmas, my brother,” he said. “Hey what’s you’re name?”

I said, “George Lichtenberg.”

He said, “Merry Christmas, George,” and handed me one of the candy bars.

I cras melior est-ed on my giving this year, but better late than never.