Could they have been columns?
July 30, 2006
On any given day, I’m looking for column ideas. When I have one, I write it down in my little notebook. Then, later, I look back at it and wonder what the hell I was thinking. Then, even later, I add about 690 extra words to this idea, e-mail it to the paper, and it gets printed. Pretty good gig, really.But all of my ideas don’t make it to that stage. Some of them just get transcribed to my computer, to the folder called “Stuff To Finish Writing TODAY,” where they lounge around for a few years, enjoying the company of other so-called “ideas.”Occasionally, I like to gather up all these aborted columns together into a “Columns I’ll Never Write” column. Today is such a day. Let the party begin …1. Columns I’ll Never Write: Yes, I have a half-finished column called “Columns I’ll Never Write,” containing ideas that didn’t even make it into my “never write” series. Among these bad, bad ideas: “Anarcolepsy (n) The freedom to take a nap when and wherever I want.”2. Tourist Snapshots: Here’s all I wrote on this one, back in April of 2002: “Once you can take silly tourist snapshots, you have arrived.” Huh? Arrived where? At an actual destination, or some esoteric “arrival”? And isn’t “silly tourist snapshot” redundant? This is one of those moments when I obviously chose to ignore my self-imposed rule – “Get high, or write, but don’t do both.”3. Anagrammed Signs: I have an anagram program on my computer, so I can take normal words and have the program rearrange the letters until they are hilarious. I thought I’d do this with different street signs. So, “Stop” becomes “Pots.” “Men Working” becomes “I Know Germ.” “Yield” becomes “Lye Id.” “Fines Doubled For Speeding” becomes “Bedridden Spooling Effuse,” or “Bleedings Poisoned Duffer,” or “Roped Diffusing Nosebleed” or even better, “Indispose Offender Bulged.” Ha! Now that I think about it, I’m not sure why I decided to not write this one.4. Way Too Late Gift Guide: This seemed REALLY clever on Dec. 30, 2001, when I first wrote it down. It was meant to be a gift guide for NEXT Christmas. Get it? Shopping 12 months in advance, taking advantage of the after-Christmas specials for next year, saving money on that person you don’t really want to spend any money on to begin with. The plan, as I recall, was to research a lot of things you can buy online, and run the column in, say, early August, because then I could comment on how goofy and surreal it is to watch the Christmas edition of your favorite sitcom being rerun in the dead of summer. But several Augusts – this one, for example – have come and gone since then and, well … I got nothing. Still, Merry Christmas.5. Went There Just To Write: Legend has it that in 1955 Johnny Cash tells Carl Perkins that he should write a song based on something Johnny overheard while in the Army: “Don’t step on my blue suede shoes.” A few nights later Perkins sees a couple dancing, and the guy is purposely maneuvering to keep his date from stepping on, you guessed it, his blue suede shoes. That night Perkins awakes with the song in his head. He runs downstairs and writes out the lyrics, in pencil, on an empty potato sack. And apparently he spells “suede” like this: “swaed.”Obviously Mr. Perkins did OK with that song. I got it in my head that he did so because it was written on a potato sack. I decided that I’d gather up a collection of offbeat writing surfaces and carry them to peculiar locations for the express purpose of writing something on them. For example, I’d go into a public restroom and write on an air sickness bag, or I’d scratch some words into the back of a priceless family heirloom while stowing away on a tug boat. AND – get this – I’d write about where I was and what I was writing on! Brilliant!This idea hit a few snags early on, though. Namely, I never got stuff to write on, never went anywhere, and, over the years I’ve become so spell check-dependant that Mr. Perkins would destroy me in a spelling bee. A few paragraphs ago I spelled the word “maneuvering” like this: “manuevoring.”So, back to the little notebook.Barry Smith’s column runs in The Aspen Times on Mondays. His e-mail address is barry@Irrelativity.com, and his very own Web page is at http://www.Irrelativity.com
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