Don’t blog a dead horse


Although I am fairly, or unfairly, new to the world of bloggery, I have already learned that people don’t want to read another post about how hard it is to blog. It’s a dead horse.



You know the kind of posts I mean. The ones that say, Look everybody, I blog. My pinky aches from hitting the delete key, and my head is killing me because last Thursday I had to think of something to write and didn’t. Also, I have to chew my food, with that whole up and down jaw thing. And don’t even get me started on the walking, with the feet, first the right, and then the left. Just the chewing and the walking is hard, but add the blogging, and people, you have no idea.



I am like that, only worse. My brain is completely empty. I just stepped out of my mind for a moment and when I came back, I discovered that someone had broken in and stolen everything, including all the fixtures.  Now I can’t access any water or use the toilet. You know how you hate it when everything in your life goes down the toilet; well, trust me, it’s even worse when it doesn’t.



So, yeah, everything is fine if your definition of “fine” means sitting on the couch, holding your knees, and rocking back and forth while humming the song “Mama from the Train (A Kiss, A Kiss).” The rocking motion (my mother called it “bonking”) helps dislodge any stray thoughts the thieves may have missed.



That song I’m humming was popular when I was a small child. Its most unforgettable line is “Throw Mama from the train a kiss, a kiss.” My mother, unaware of how the refrain would burrow into my brain, allowed me to listen to it on the radio. I have no doubt that its misplaced indirect object made me what I am today, a teacher of English language learners. Now I am doomed to spend most of the day hauling indirect objects from one end of a sentence to the next; rescuing modifiers that students leave dangling over verbal cliffs; and removing fragments of sentences, which explode on the pages of my students’ writing.



The singer who popularized “Mama from the Train” started life as a Fowler, a name closely associated with Henry and his famous A Dictionary of Modern English Usage. Then Miss Clara Ann Fowler changed her last name to Page, a word associated with blankness and a demand for words. Like me, the newly formed Page suffered from bouts of alliteration and chose Patti as her first name. Forever after, she was known as Patti Page, The Singing Rage.



Do you see the connections? In case you don’t, here they are. Long ago in land much like your own, only called Oklahoma, a woman forsook her tenuous link to modern English usage and declared herself a Page (the writer’s nemesis). The Singing Rage then crooned a tune that formed my destiny and left me wrapped in a blanket, rocking back and forth on the sofa, doing my best to escape the blank page on the computer and the dirty dishes in the kitchen sink.



So you see, my inability to post anything today makes perfect sense. Or maybe my inability to make sense is perfect today.




Photo: DN-0081968, Chicago Daily News negatives collection, Chicago History Museum.



31 thoughts on “Don’t blog a dead horse

  1. So now you’ve got me humming that song. First time I heard it I thought it was advocating matricide by forceful ejection. My mother pointed out the disordered objects (direct and indirect)–but maybe she was just trying to save herself. Very enjoyable post. Can’t say the same for now having that song in my head!!

    • Every once in a while, my brain puts on one of those songs from childhood like “Music! Music! Music!” and I listen to it for most of the day.

      The song is really a great way to illustrate to students where to place their objects. It could be the difference between life and death.

  2. I’ll admit, pagechallenged, that I was a little worried when more than a week went by without getting a good laugh from a read on your blog… But what you’ve published today will stay forever in my mind (or till I get Alzheimer’s). This is the first time, since I took up bloggery myself, that I enjoyed listening to someone spill some excuses about why s/he can’t write a post. Usually, I can’t stand those posts. But you’ve done it. You’ve make me a favorite on that subject. It’s like the first time I liked a version of ‘funny valentine’. A trail marker. I send you a tip of the hat, and more of my admiration.

  3. Not being familiar with the song, I was concerned about the end of your mother’s train ride, until you hauled that misplaced indirect object to its proper place. And I am sorry that when you returned from this good deed, the thieves had broken in, but as the place is empty, you could take this opportunity to redecorate. And now I must go to my blank page and stare at it until the paint jumps off my palette and decides where it should go on the paper.

  4. I know EXACTLY WHAT YOU MEAN. 🙂 I’m laughing though because here in the UK ‘bonking’ is a popular word (though has fallen out of favour in recent years, wonder why) to describe something far stickier and ruder than rocking!

    • Even here we have the other meaning for bonking. But that’s what my mother called it. We also used to wear “thongs” all summer, but now, of course, I cannot say that. Instead I must say “flip flops.”

  5. I’m not familiar with the song, though I used to listen to Ms. Page all the time as a child. But it’s actually quite amazing what a great post one can get out of nothing. Good job! 🙂

  6. Proving that in fact, I do have an incurable condition, I keep reading (and smiling). But flushing is something I’ve quite mastered when it comes to the whiners. Heartened, as ever, for your corroborating evidence of same. Dan

  7. Ha! I remember that song! And as a child all I heard was Throw Mama From the Train and blanked out the rest. Hmm.. Don’t remember when I realized there was more to the phrase. A chuckle every time I think about it. As always, great writing and really like that photo.

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