Friday, April 7, 2017

On Meatballs and "Stuf" (sic)

When we were kids - and by we I mean me and maybe two others - I listened to a lot of comedy records.  Weirdly, nearly everyone I knew had them, Carlin and Cosby, Bob Newhart and Red Skelton, Cheech and, of course, Chong, even an off-color black comedian or two like Redd Foxx.  There was a societal homogeneity to life when I was a kid, I mean we all knew them, these funny guys - and they were all guys.  Our parents listened to them late nights as the party was winding down and us kids, well, we listened to them when our parents were not around.

I'm glad I did, listen to them, that is.  I was thinking this morning about how to proceed and for some reason those old albums came to mind, and I got to thinking about comedy writing - something I think is about as hard as writing gets - and then just writing in general.  Comedians tend to structure their acts one of two ways.  Some tell a series of jokes, one leading to another, often in staccato rhythm, you know, the classic "and speaking of shoestrings..." approach.  The others tell longer stories, the jokes and bits woven into the fabric of a larger story.  I always preferred the later, Cosby's "Noah" bit comes to mind.

When I write, I prefer to languish, even wallow some might say, in longer stories, but, lately I've been struggling with that.  I could tell you that it's because I don't have the time I need.  You know, kids and life and the fast pace and unslowing rhythm of this hyper-modernity we all must suffer,  but that's just glorifying busy and I hate that.  I could also reason that the time to reward ratio is way off-balance, but that would be self-indulgent and more than a little sad. I could say that often these stories get away from me and spin to places I don't want you to know are in me, but, I covered that in my last post... bother.

I did short silly pieces when I first started around here, my blog was formatted not unlike those old joke-tellers, and I wonder if maybe that wasn't a better way to go, you know, "one and done," that sort of thinking.  It sure seems easier, perhaps even more engaging for you, but I have trouble doing that anymore.

"What's this got to do with meatballs?" you might be asking yourself, I know I am.

Here goes...

I made meatballs the other day.  I make them from scratch grinding the beef chuck and pork country ribs in my trusty Oster.  It's sort a pain in the ass but I grind five or six pounds and make a lot of meatballs, they freeze well.  Nick came in and was helping me make the balls.  There wasn't much teaching or even conversation, I'd already covered that a long time ago with Playdo.  We stood, watching the birds and the wind out the tired kitchen window, and, well...

That's it.  Here's the recipe:

There could be a lot to tell you about this recipe, like my inability to remember measurement abbreviations or why it says mysteriously "325g" there at the bottom.  Or that I use flatleaf Italian parsley and not the curly kind and put in more garlic than this recipe calls for.  I can only hope that in any number of years I'll remember that this stained and annotated piece of paper and ink holds a story, a pretty long story.

But today, all I want to remember is the watching Nick's hands shape meatballs as the porch chimes sounded and the wind blew brown oak leaves across the greening yard.

Here's a collage of things I found in pockets, which is quickly replacing "take-home folders" as my go to source for strange things around here:

"... but wait, there's more."  That's what I always say, isn't it?

Who did which?  What's the shark thing about?  Who forgets the second "f" in stuff?  Who's "Little Owlly" and is that his dog?  Is that an oboe fingering?

Truth is, I'm not really sure.  Like I said, I just pulled them out of the pockets of jeans before I washed them.  Could I make things up, conject, even fictionalize?  Sure, and that'd be fun.  In fact I had long stories about all of those little pieces of paper fomenting in my little mind, but, for some reason, I don't think I'll do that today.

Sometimes the story might be in not telling the story, hell, I don't know.  Maybe the story's not ready.  Or, and I think this is closest to the truth, maybe the story is just short, and concise and, well, just simple and I have trouble accepting that.  For now.

Perhaps that's what those old vaudevillians knew, sometimes a gag is just a gag.  Sometimes a joke is easy and plain.  There's plenty of time for long stories, but sometimes, the story is done with us before we are done with it.

I've been in a writing slump lately, "writer's block" they call it.  I don't really believe there is such a thing.  I don't like the connotation it has.  I may not be writing so much, but, I'm not in a creative void.  I've been looking at other things, listening to music, viewing documentaries, singing new songs, reading non-fiction and children's lit, watching baseball.

It seems like there was one more little thing I wanted to tell you...

Oh, yeah.

These dudes turned twelve this week.

I guess that's the story I've been trying to tell around here...

Peace and thanks for stopping by.


  1. Happy belated birthday to your boys!!

  2. Happy birthday to your boys!
    That dog drawing is adorable! I can only draw raccoons. That's as far as my artistic skills go.