To the handful of people who will wander over here in the next few days to see what mischief and mayhem I am up to now, please let me extend a formal welcome to my blog and inform you of why it exists.
Its inception is part of a challenge that I have taken on in the last four months. Many of you know that since November 1, soon after I finished the 100 Happy Days challenge, I have been challenging myself every month to permanently “break up” with a bad habit–or at least to friend-zone it. So, in the last four months, I have given up these things: being a couch potato, consuming more than two drinks a week, buying bags at the grocery store, and eating more than one serving of processed sugar a day.
How successful have I been? Here’s the tale of the tape; judge for yourself. As for the first breakup (with inactivity), I now average about four workouts a week, and I have actually progressed from walking to jogging. On the second (alcohol), I struggled a bit during the holidays, but once January rolled around, it’s been much easier. The third (bags) has been a raring success– I have not bought a bag since the day after Christmas. The fourth, though, has been the hardest of all– I am still struggling to limit my sugar intake (not easy with all the Valentine’s treats floating around.) So, to make myself feel like less of a failure if I couldn’t get my act together with the candy, I adopted a second goal for this month: I would break up with not writing.
Hence, this blog. I figure that coughing up the princely sum of about five dollars a month will be the impetus to get me off my virtual duff and onto my virtual soapbox on a semi-regular basis (and make me feel a bit less guilty about the large bag of Rolos I have hoovered up in the last week or so). But also, the desire– or dare I say it, the need– to write more than school newsletters and fifth-grade report card comments has been gnawing at me for a long time. I don’t know how successful I will be, but I will endeavor to entertain, inform, and challenge you whenever you stop by.
Oh, and to answer the question in this entry’s title, “X-ing A Paragrab” is the name of an obscure and atypical Edgar Allan Poe short story. We tend to think of Poe as the Grand-Daddy of Goth, and he was–he was the father of the horror story and he also wrote several of the most famous tragic poems of all time. But Poe was also the progenitor of the detective story, an astute literary critic, an esteemed editor (when he wasn’t drunk, drugged or depressed) and…wait for it…at times, a humorist.
Yes, you read that right. Edgar Allan Poe was no Mark Twain, but he wrote a number of short stories that range in tone from ironic to almost laugh-out-loud funny; one of those is “X-ing.” It’s about a hapless editor named Touch-and-go Bullet-head who moves West to a town where a rival paper already exists. He sets himself up in business with his own publication, the Tea-Pot, and tries to drum up a rivalry with the established paper (whose offices are right across the street from his.) However, his overuse of a certain interjection in his first diatribe against his competitor (“Oh, yes!–Oh, we perceive! Oh, no doubt–the editor over the way is a genius…Oh, goodness, gracious! What is the world coming to?”) leads to a riposte that “..the fellow [Bullet-head] is all O!”
To retaliate, Bullet-head writes a response that uses the offending vowel in nearly every word, but when he turns it over to the printer (a twelve year old boy who is about four feet tall), it’s discovered that the Tea-Pot‘s entire supply of Os for its printing press has been hoisted by the rival paper. So, the lad used the “habitual” recourse of printers of the time–he substituted all the Os with Xs. Bullet-head’s rebuke becomes even more ridiculous than it originally was (“Sx hx, Jxhn! Hxw nxw? Txld you sx, you knxw…”) The town’s populace, convinced that the editorial contains some hidden satanic message, joins forces to run the editor out of town–only to find out that Bullet-head has already fled. As the citizens of the town later reflect on what caused this missive to see print, some say that the excess of XXX spirits the editor drank caused him to be X (cross) in the X-treme, prompting him to write the tribute to the Devil which led to his expulsion from the community.
OK, the humor is broad to say the least, but it is a rather charming little story and it shows a different side of Poe than the one most people are familiar with. So, how does that relate to this blog? Hopefully, I won’t make an ass out of myself in print like Touch-and-go Bullet-head did. I also strive for the goal in my writing that we (reader and writer) will consider things in new ways, thus loosening our grip on stereotypes and prejudices we hold dear. That, and being a member of Generation X, I am tickled that there is an X in the title of the story, and the ‘paragrab’ referred to can be seen as symbolic of this blog’s content.
OK, I’m probably over-analyzing (and wandering dangerously close to Bullet-headesque literary silliness) so I’ll stop here. Just let me reiterate: welcome and thanks for at least starting this ride with me.