Eighteen years and eight months into this soapbox/rhetorical exercise/technical training ground, and there isn't much left unsaid except, of course, for the fact, that there's plenty left unsaid, what with occasional outcroppings of reticence, even modesty, interrupting the flow of Warts And All. If I've done this correctly, the reader will never know the difference: the difference between 1996 and today is several million words, and one does not write several million words without developing something that might be recognizable as style.
Maybe. There are more instances than I can count of early pieces here that showed some promise, but perhaps didn't deliver the level of delight I might have hoped for. Vent #129, from this week in 1998, is configured as a letter to Bill Clinton, and it contains this semi-nifty paragraph:
Now, I'm no expert on "sordid", but yes, it was an affair, Bill. You had it bad for that girl; from the moment she flashed you a hint of thong, you wanted her, uh, debriefed. I've been a guy almost as long as you have, so I know what it's like. I'm willing to entertain the possibility of kismet, though it's a slender thread: the man who doesn't inhale, at last finding the woman who doesn't swallow. Did she have feelings for you? Maybe. At her age (or ours, really), nothing makes a whole lot of sense.
(For those keeping score, Bill Clinton is about seven years older than I am.)
And at least that piece ends on a sort-of-upbeat note:
Meanwhile, you're going to be on trial. And if you want to avoid that particular spectacle, it appears you have exactly one option. If it makes you feel better, let's call it, er, "retirement". Pack up your troubles in your old kit bag, drop off the humidor in the Dumpster, and let Big Dull Al take care of the last couple of years. There are golf balls to hit and babes to pursue, and by the time the history books have any meaningful perspective, you'll be off to a far, far better world. Really, Bill, I hate to say "I told you so," but, in point of fact, I told you so. Here's hoping I don't have to tell you again.
Nowhere in that 558-word admonishment is any reference to Mrs Clinton, who I imagined at the time was signed up for an extended stay at Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind: lip service would be paid, because that's what you do with irrestistible forces and/or immovable objects, especially if either is in a position to act upon your person, but I suspected that Bill, compartmentalized as he is, managed to retain his focus on retaining his position.
Meanwhile, a week later, Vent #130 delivered little or no delight of any description: it could be summed up as "This is where I stand, compared to the name-brand Web scribes," and since I had no standing to speak of in those days, it was decidedly short on meaning. (There was, however, a reference to the Drudge Retort, a leftish alternative to Matt Drudge, edited by Rogers Cadenhead, whom I knew from the much-missed Suck.com under the name "CGI Joe." (How much missed? I put out twenty bucks for a hard-cover edition of several Suck pieces, and yes, the links worked, kinda sorta.) There was nothing here, however, that would advance the state of the art, or that made me look like less of a hack.
There's nothing special about these two items: they simply illustrate the fact that I have my ups and downs, and that I find this vacillation maddening. A really good scribe, I believe, would have lots more ups than downs, and I've never believed that I was all that good. And spending 639 words on this illustration probably supports that disbelief: how come I can't spin out spiffy phrases all the time? Or even half the time?
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