Fifth Friday Footnotes, Follow-ups and Far-Flung Fripperies

Published Friday, May 30, 2008 in The Register-Guard.

• After suggesting that the county government begin building a 32-hour workforce, many people told me they’d gladly trade less pay for perpetual three-day weekends. I didn’t ask if any of them already work for the county.

• My mother never could get me to do my chores and I finally understand why. As a writer, I’m attracted to what’s not yet written and I avoid what’s rote.

• Whatever your opinion about its taste, can we agree that the banana is a work of merchandising genius? The brightly colored smile-skin is thick enough that the fruit doesn’t need washing, but thin enough that its color doubles as a shelf-life indicator. It’s shape is distinctive and it comes from the tree in a family pack. It’s easy and fun to open. Its unfurled casing doubles as a handle. Are we sure Steve Jobs didn’t design the banana?

• What are conservatives conserving? And why do progressives distrust progress?

• I describe myself as a tax-and-spend libertarian. I’d prefer a government well-funded to do not much.

• We’ll have a record number of visitors in town this summer, and they will marvel at our “quality of life.” It’s unquantifiable, but let’s try. I’ll start the list and you finish it. I love how everybody all the time will hold the door open for the person behind them entering the downtown post office.

• Is there anything more adorable than those half-size shopping carts at Market of Choice?

• Despite the high cost of living, it remains popular.

• I’m rethinking the whole brown rice thing. We’ve sworn off white rice, bleached flour, processed sugar. Even eggs seem “more natural” when they’re less white. Could it be the guilt pangs of self-indulgent Caucasians?

• Why do people say “after dark” when what they mean is “during dark”? If it’s after dark, that means it’s light again, right?

• Conventional wisdom is seldom both.

• Could somebody please tell me where I can return bottles and not be treated like a vagrant?

• I like our new talking crosswalks best when I’ve crossed and the voice is counting down the seconds left for a safe crossing. Just walking the streets in Eugene, you can feel like an astronaut, preparing for lift-off.

• Give me ambiguity or give me something else.

• Two weeks ago I waxed poetic (more wax than poetry) about how our community needs a “black box” flexible theatre space. Joseph Gilg responded with a tour of the construction surrounding the University of Oregon’s Robinson Theatre. Lo and behold, the Miller Theatre Complex, to be completed by the end of the year, does include a black box theatre — as yet unnamed. So if there’s a millionaire who loves experimental theatre reading this, an opportunity awaits.

• By the way, could we call a truce with copy editors and style manuals and agree that “theatre” be used for live dramatic acting and its facilities, and “theater” be used for movies, video rooms and all-purpose entertainment halls?

• Is there anything Americans won’t read, if it’s presented to them in a bulleted format?

• When shopping shampoos, I look for flat tops, able to stand on the shower shelf upside down. Nobody wants to start their day standing naked and shaking the last dollop of shampoo from a bottle.

• I see Reserved Parking all over town, but why is there no place for the cars of the outspoken? The meek shall inherit the earth, but so far all they get is guaranteed parking.

• My candidate for the Best Button in Eugene: the pedestrian walk button on 29th Avenue between Woodfield Station and Cascade Manor. Hit that button and the traffic lights instantly turn yellow, then red. A lazy anarchist could sit there in a lawn chair, hitting that button and stopping traffic all day long.

Sometimes a dead horse is just askin’ for it.


Don Kahle ( was a syndicated columnist for the Scripps Howard News Service until 1999. His popular “Quips, Queries and Querulous Quibbles” are revived here whenever a month includes a fifth Friday. He buys his bananas and flat-topped shampoo at Market of Choice, where he can hit his favorite button, push his favorite cart, and feel like an astronaut, all in one trip.