Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hurrah! Dickenbock Electronics!

Yes, hooray! The first Saturday episode of Dickenbock Electronics went off without any complaints by the Robot Board Of Trustees. I don't trust those trustees. They're untrustworthy.

It's available where it ought to be at You can listen to it at your leisure. Or actively, if your circuits require it. Guaranteed to increase your personal processing speed by 0.007%!

Next week will be the premiere of my jazz show. Which is currently untitled. Do you want to name it? You can if you want. Just send me an email. Otherwise I'll be forced to come up with a name myself. Eep.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dream-Ending Dreams

I just woke up from a nap, & what woke me up was what I call a "dream-ending dream." These dreams are both impossibly familiar, & at the same time so completely absurd, that it shocks your system into consciousness just to assess their near-comic outrageousness.

There's nothing more boring than listening to someone tell you his or her dream (unless it's someone who think they can "interpret" a dream) (or than watching someone tell someone else their dream & having it interpreted) so I won't bore you with details except that this dream seemed to be about a "tradition," which is to say, something I did every year or so (which I never have) & which also referenced past examples of the tradition. The dream, therefore, either referred back to other dreams I've had (which seems terribly unlikely, with this fading memory of mine), or it created those memories & made them feel like memories in the dream.

The latter is more probable, & that's why dreams are so awesome. Still, if, when you dream, you retain a modicum of your own sense of self - like, for example, you're scared of heights, & in a dream you're going to bungee jump or parachute - then the dream of something so unlike you - or so unlikely that you would ever do such a thing - so disturbs your sense of self that it becomes a "dream-ending dream." It wakes you up to take stock of your sense of self, &, in the midst of the dream's artificial familiarity & its haphazardly concocted reminiscences, you have to return to consciousness just to make sure it wasn't real.

I don't think most of these "dream-ending dreams" are scary to the point of nightmare, but some of them have been a little on the exciting side - involving chases or other dramatic movie-style sequences - again, referencing something that probably couldn't or wouldn't ever happen to me.

I do wonder if they're the body's way of waking one up when one needs to wake up from, say, an overlong afternoon nap. I know a dude who naps thirty minutes each day in the afternoon. Thirty minutes! It usually takes that long for me to get to sleep!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hey Choosers!

See, I know you're not beggars. Since beggars can't be choosers. Ergo, through the transitive property of fol de rol, with only a slight detour through the axioms of gibberish & nonsense, Q.E.D. ipso facto, you must be the choosers who cannot be beggars. I defy you to find the logic in my reasoning!

Since you are choosers & since you do in fact have a choice, & since I'm usually the last choice in pretty much anything, I might as well make sure you know you have a choice in radio shows if/when you should want to listen to them. (You can choose not to, I know.) That choice which you can be chosen last if you so choose is Self Help Radio, & this week's episode, which is about beggars (not choosers), is now available at

Is the show a choice blend of great musics? I wouldn't choose that language. But I think I chose well, among all the songs available about begging.

Please enjoy.

Monday, June 21, 2010


Three more things to say about begging:

1) I have a story about something sort of like begging I did when I was in middle school, but it is really quite embarrassing - one of those things you either have to go all the way with or else risk it being uncovered by an unscrupulous biographer. Not that I'll ever have anyone write a biography about me. But if I did. I'd prefer not to tell.

2) One thing I'm not ashamed of, though it irritates some people I know, is that I generally give change to people who ask me for it on the street. In Austin, walking down Guadalupe in the afternoon, I'd empty my pockets for the bums & street kids who were there. When I was a smoker, I'd also give away cigarettes. It seemed the least I could do. So far I've only been hit up by folks outside a Chinese restaurant here in Huntington, & I've given them change, too. Although the two or three people who've asked me for money have been specific & have wanted at least a dollar. Which suggests to me that, even if there isn't much competition, there are fewer people around here willing to part with their coinage, so your average West Virginian beggar needs to aim higher.

3) But I don't give money to people begging at intersections or near highway off-ramps. I don't know why that bugs me so much. Maybe because I am forced to look at them - which is what they want - & feel a little guilty. I think also that I sometimes worry if I give them money, I'll hold up traffic. Anyway, they don't seem to do that in West Virginia, either. But in Austin, there was usually someone at major roads & off-ramps. At one intersection near where I lived in Austin, there'd be bums begging at almost every corner. You couldn't avoid them.

Remember, there's an entire Self Help Radio show about begging coming tomorrow! It's true! I'll let you know when it happens!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Whither Begging?

Oh, you know, there's a wikipedia article about begging, which contains the hilarious line: "Beggars rarely recorded their techniques, & often used to disguise their own communication." It's sometimes pretty hard to read their signs, it's true. & I guess they would get lost down the ages.

There's also a helpful list of notable beggars. (I checked, I wasn't there.)

The word seems to have an interesting & disputed past. Here's what it says at this online encyclopedia:

Beggar, one who begs, particularly one who gains his [or her] living by asking the charitable contributions of others . The word, with the verbal forrn " to beg," in Middle English beggen, is of obscure history . The words appear first in English in the 13th century, & were early connected with "bag," with reference to the receptacle for alms carried by the beggars . The most probable derivation of the word, & that now generally accepted, is that it is a corruption of the name of the lay communities known as Beguines & Beghards, which, shortly after their establishment, followed the friars in the practice of mendicancy.

It goes on to mention - then discount - another origin, which the Wiktionary definition thinks is probable: "Probably from Old English bedecian." What does bedecian mean? According to the above encyclopedia, bedecian is "a rare Old English word... which is apparently connected with the Gothic bidjan... but between the occurrence of bedecian at the end of the 9th century & the appearance of 'beggar' & 'beg' in the 13th, there is a blank, & no explanation can be given of the great change in form."

Take that!

The Free Dictionary takes a different view. It says the word beggar is from "Middle English, from Old French begart, ultimately from Middle Dutch beggaert, one who rattles off prayers." Since I know that holy folks from England to Delhi have been beggars & lived in poverty for centuries, I kinda dig this origin.

But I am not an etymologist, so I can only look at what everyone is saying, & pretend I have earned an opinion in the matter.

Also, mendicancy? Let's bring that word back into wider usage, shall we?