The Fierce Urgency of ‘No’

This first appeared in June. Its inspirer re-appeared today, which inspired the title.

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Although I have been told that I have “loud” facial expressions, my pleading eyebrows were easy to ignore this morning. I guess my eyebrows were not loud enough.

My eyebrows were requesting conversational assistance … no, they were pleading for a rescue, stet.

One of the great parts of a life in recovery is the fact that I have a network of people with whom I can share some of my day-to-day difficulties. My friends in recovery remind me that there is really only one thing I need to understand: I am my only problem in my life. Anything that I feel is a problem is almost one hundred percent of the time a repercussion from me reacting to a person or situation as if it was the problem. My reaction is the problem, not the person or situation.
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Today in History: August 31

Judge Richard Owen found that George Harrison had subconsciously plagiarized the song “He’s So Fine” in composing his own hit song, “My Sweet Lord,” on this date 40 years ago.

Judge Owen, who was himself a composer and musician, wrote a decision full of empathy for the composer’s plight:
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Ad Vice

Lies, damn lies, and ad sales: If one fact yields 20 facts and you know them all, you are just plain full of smart.
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Our newspaper’s weekly circulation was a closely guarded exaggeration. The circulation manager knew the number, the editorial department knew it, and the advertising manager knew it. The newspaper’s circulation was about 2000 copies per week. And now you know it, too.

The pliability of the words “circulation,” “copies,” “newspaper,” and “week” was tested with each and every ad sales phone call. This is because if we told an advertiser the (correct) 2000-per-week number, that advertiser might have asked us to pay them for the honor of placing their ads in our publication; thus, our ad sales manager gave them a number ten times larger. More often than not, they were told that over 20,000 pairs of eyes “saw” any given issue of the newspaper. Actually, in a laudable effort at a specificity that would grant our numbers a sheen of legitimacy, they were given a figure of “21,000 readers.”
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Today in History: August 30

Say ‘canal’ and there’s that final vowel
Towing silence with it, slowing time
To a walking pace, a path, a whitewashed gleam
Of dwellings at the skyline. World stands still.
The stunted concrete mocks the classical.
Water says, ‘My place here is in dream,
In quiet good standing. Like a sleeping stream,
Come rain or sullen shine I’m peaceable.’
Stretched to the horizon, placid ploughland,
The sky not truly bright or overcast:
I know that clay, the damp and dirt of it,
The coolth along the bank, the grassy zest
Of verges, the path not narrow but still straight
Where soul could mind itself or stray beyond.
—Seamus Heaney, “Banks of a Canal”

Seamus Heaney died on this date in 2013. Ten days before his death, he submitted the above poem, “Banks of a Canal” to the National Gallery of Ireland for inclusion in an anthology, Lines of Vision: Irish Writers on Art.

Each writer selected a work from the National Gallery and wrote a piece; Heaney chose Banks of a Canal near Naples (circa 1872) by the French artist Gustave Caillebotte, which is the painting at the top. Heaney was 74 at his death; his poetry retained its music and power: “the grassy zest / Of verges, the path not narrow but still straight / Where soul could mind itself or stray beyond.”
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I’m No Expert

Do you have a star or an asteroid named for you? Me neither. Nor have I discovered anything new on this planet of ours or in this universe or even so much as published a book that is “soon to be a major” anything.

Thinking on this sometimes leaves me feeling a little empty inside, so thanks for depressing me today, me.

There are many ways of achieving the immortality, or really, a slightly more famous mortality, that I desire. One of them, a Twitter bot named VanityScience, made its debut in 2014 and is still going.
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Today in History: The Beatles Say Goodbye

There was a big talk at Candlestick Park that this had got to end. At that San Francisco gig it seemed that this could possibly be the last time, but I never felt 100% certain till we got back to London. John wanted to give up more than the others. He said that he’d had enough—Ringo Starr, Anthology

After a couple hundred live shows over five years—lunchtime shows at The Cavern Club in Liverpool, long nights in Hamburg’s red light district, world tours, three annual tours of America—The Beatles took the stage at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park on this date 50 years ago. It was the nineteenth and last show of their latest American tour, and the four men on stage and a few others knew one other thing about it: it was going to be their final live performance as the Beatles.
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No Cheating

I wanted the ultimate magic kit when I was a kid, but as with so many things in life, disappointment lay in the fact that the magic kits grew more complex, more “magical,” only with higher prices.

Each of them included a “magic wand,” which was just a wooden dowel painted black, or, in the more expensive kits, painted black with a white tip, because a white tip equals classy. The photo of the kid on the magic box with the white tipped wand often showed the kid in tails and with a top hat. (I am sure that because of kids like me, or because of just me, the toy companies needed to add the disclaimer, “Hat and tails not in package.”)
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Today in History: August 28

The two men, both of them adults, wanted the boy dead. They wanted him dead. The boy was 14 years old and a visitor from out of town, a city kid from Chicago.

On a visit to see family in the country, in Money, Mississippi, the boy from Chicago went to the local grocery store one day. He bought bubblegum.

He spoke to the woman behind the counter, who was not a lot older than he was, 21. Perhaps he thanked her, perhaps he said something else. Either way, she did not like the contact. She was white and the boy was black.

Her husband later said that the boy had “whistled” at his wife, so he and his half-brother wanted the boy dead. At 2:30 in the morning, with the young woman alongside to identify the boy, they went to the boy’s uncle’s home and found the boy.

What followed was not a lecture from two men to a boy about how a young man should speak with a woman. No. On this date in 1955, Roy Bryant and J. W. Milam took Emmett Till with them and the boy never returned. Days later, when the body was found in the Tallahatchie River, it was identifiable only by a ring the boy usually wore. The body was identifiable as human only in the minimal sense after what they had done before throwing Emmett Till in the water. They wanted him dead, you see.
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