Ring the Dingy

When my cousin Christopher was 6, he and his family were traveling on a bus in some metropolitan area, Chicago, I think it was. Christopher, in his childlike persistence and enthusiasm for pushing buttons and making noise and such, was insistent that he should get to “ring the dingy.”

“I get to ring the dingy, right?” he asked my Uncle Jim.
“Yes, Christopher, you can ring the dingy,” Jim would reply. Then, of course, after a few moments…”But Jim, I get to ring the dingy, right?”

The time drew near for Christopher and fam to exit the bus, and, as the story goes, Uncle Jim got a little excited.

“Come on Christopher! Ring the dingy! Ring the dingy!”

It’s an odd little etiquette we have on buses, isn’t it? I watched this morning as a young woman sitting in the front seat of my bus rang the dingy, though she could have just as easily leaned over and said, excuse me, ma’am, but I will need to get off at this stop. I thought of this odd transport of communication, that instead of going from person to person, this idea is transferred via telegraph regardless of one’s situation on the bus. I mean, immediately afterward, the woman said “thank you and have a nice day” to our driver, it wasn’t as if direct communication between these two human beings was irreperably impaired by some universal happenstace.

We are a society that is used to prosthetic media. We have telephones and Internet and television and yes, we have the dingy. Social circumstance and national mindset mean that, given a choice between interacting directly or poking someone with a stick, well, we’ll pick up the stick every time. That’s just the way it’s done, I guess. When you’re on the bus, you ring the dingy.

I Hope That Guy Gets a Raise

I was in Safeway today, the one in Arlington across the street from the new Harris Teeter that will put it out of business in 4.5 months (trust me), and this guy came over the loudspeaker and said: “Will the owner of the Toyota please move it? Put it in a PARKING SPACE WHERE IT BELONGS!”


Show me the way to the next sushi bar. Oh, don’t ask why. Oh, don’t ask why.

I tried sushimi while in Vegas. I didn’t order it directly, I tried somebody else’s. Not to be unsophisticated or anything, but blech!

I also tried sake. Also, blech.

I’m home now, and ever so happy to be here. I got in at 1:30 a.m. Stayed up ’til like 3. Woke up and had breakfast with Uncle Johnny. Glad to be home. I missed the feta cheese and spinach and tomato omlette at Metro 29. I missed Alice the Cat (I’ve renamed her “Alice.” Don’t ask.) I missed having my own computer. I missed not having to wear a tie every day.

Now that I’m home, I can start telling everyone to read Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men. Every American should read this fabulous book. Yes, that means you.

And now, to go recover from Vegas.

Fried Goat Cheese and #24

Friends, you haven’t lived until you’ve had the opportunity to eat something called “fried goat cheese cakes.”

This is, I think, perhaps, the world’s most perfect food. After all, it has goat cheese, and it’s fried.

Other unsolicited opinions from Gomorrah West:

The world needs more men like James Carville, Tom Tomorrow, and, most of all, Bill Bradley.

I know, I know. The man has a turkey neck and two first names. I saw him speak this morning, however, and I’m telling you, he is one of the clearest thinkers this nation has to offer today. His prescription for America: “…a pluralistic democracy and a growing economy that takes more and more people to higher ground.”

I told him so, too, as I got my picture snapped with him after his speech. “I think we need you in 2004, Mr. Bradley,” said I.

The giant man standing next to me didn’t respond. I think he had jetlag, and my bet is that the little blue dot from the flash was still hovering for him.

Elevator Musik

The Bellagio has perfected elevator muzik.

When you step onto the elevator, there is no music playing. Then, once the elevator car begins its descent, music starts to play. It is always a different genre; sometimes it plays show tunes, sometime Sinatra, sometimes Baroque. It’s little details like this that makes a week’s stay at this place interesting and pleasant.

From my room, I can see the fountain waters dance. The water streams, I’ve heard, are directed by little explosions at the pool bottom. You can turn on the television in your room to a particular channel and listen to music the water dance is coordinated to. I actually stood at my window a few nights ago and watched the waters dance to Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On.”

And it was actually pretty cool.

Our convention has been successful. My program with the author G.D. Gearino went over very well. I’m going to write Dan a big thank you note when I get home. “Dear Dan,” it will read, “thank you for making me look good.”

I’m ready to go home now. Unfortunately, the convention schedule disagrees with me. I have one more day.


I’m going to write a book for children about how to behave in airports. Here is a brief excerpt:

“See the pretty dog. See the pretty dog sniffing the suitcases. Pet the pretty doggie. Good doggie.”


For the record, I made it to Vegas. No terrorist attacks, no major shakedowns by overzealous security staff…I suffered nothing but boredom and fidgeting on a 5-hour (BEVERAGE ONLY) flight. The time difference is difficult to account for right now. I have already tried to attend a staff meeting two hours early.

Off to pack.

Today, I’m packing. Well, that’s the plan. I’m getting somewhat psyched about convention. It’s going to be different from previous years because I’ll be wearing a lot of hats. I’ll be busy, you bet.

It will be strange not traveling under a full moon. When I was traveling more frequently, I could always seem to count on a full moon to watch over me. I’ve seen her full and strong over the Alamo and in the middle of Vegas. I’ll miss her, though I don’t know if I’ll have much time to notice her.

I’m nervous about the trip. Nervous I won’t be able to drag my ass out of bed on time, nervous about flying, nervous about the whole security rigamarole, nervous about convention. I’m psyched, though. Looking forward to it.

Well. Thats unfortunate.

In today’s Washington Post, there is a story about one of the officers involved in the attack on Hatian immigrant Abner Louima being released on $1 million bond. Louima, you’ll remember, was treated by New York’s finest to an asstickle with a broom handle.

This is an actual paragraph from this story. I am not making this up.

“Louima eventually received an $8.75 million settlement from the city of New York and the police union, and moved last year to the Miami area with his wife and three children—in part, he said, to try to put his painful past behind him.”