austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

So when you're going down the cellar, walk upon your toes

It's difficult for most people to exaggerate how important choosing which ghost they want haunting their home is. The average person needs four days of warm-up stretching and another two to cool down and even then is likely to sprain their anterior simile or get a distended zeugma. If you want to attempt it, hire a professional day poet, or perhaps use a commercial-grade hyperbolizer, preferably with a self-starting association-freeing attachment. Rent, don't buy; get the insurance. You don't know the troubles an uninsured poet will get into.

These days there's not much chance of getting any of those respectable old ghosts who brought such an air of class and vaguely defined duels from centuries gone by and left in the bottom of the sock drawer. And think how bad the ghosts feel to learn that centuries later even they don't understand what they were fighting about. It makes it seem so much bother over nothing they might as well have stayed alive, except think what they'd have had to pay for new belts over all that time.

Now we hope for is ghosts who are willing to be moderately quirky on cue and genially mischievous around Halloween and during conversations about your ghost, and otherwise unobtrusive. Think of them as ectoplasmic coffin tables. You don't want ones that show irritating tendencies to be imaginative on their own schedule, or suddenly breaking out in fits of haiku pedantry or fiddling with all the remotes so nothing works anymore. You can guess which ones really cost and which ones only pretend to cost anything.

The first real ghost shortage was produced shortly after the Second World War, in the United States, when the mass-production of houses in Levittown and similar developments like Levitttown, Levitton, Leviittown, and Levittowne built so many houses on Long Island they had to start kidnapping people from Connecticut to fill them. And even then there were too many houses, not enough folks to haunt them.

The problem seemed insoluble until 1952, when it was solved, and isn't that always the way? But come the new year developers at the upscale housing complex Le Vittowne realized instead of bringing in full-fledged ghosts, they could use partially fledged ghosts or even just very dull people. The dull people were probably delighted to finally provide a role in the modern economy other than obstruction.

Nevertheless they kept on building houses, eventually forcing Long Island to expand to its current dimensions, reaching to fourteen miles off Portugal, leaving us ghost-short. These days most haunting is part-time work. This is often done by people who are trapped in irritating meetings which they have to attend for reasons they've never gotten articulated, accomplishing only that several loud people demonstrate their faith that they should repeat the few and basic things they wanted unaware everyone conceded their points long before the meeting was imagined.

Even right now you might actually be haunting a house while you think you're attending a meeting with select representatives of people from the Merrimack County, New Hampshire, Tax Board, and you're probably better off concentrating on the haunting. The last time you tried haunting while distracted all you did was set the VCR which hasn't been used for any videotape-related activities in seven years to four hours, 35 minutes ahead of the correct time, accomplishing nothing but leaving the owners the lingering suspicion their VCR is attempting to reach the Newfoundland time zone. A proper ghost should inspire deeper feelings than vague connection to the Maritime Provinces. It's even less effective if the house was in Newfoundland.

But there's nothing for clearing out a tight labor market quite like automation, and since 2002 house-flavored manufacturing distributor companies have gotten really into including basic auto-haunting services. After all, it isn't hard to convince a VCR's clock to go to a peculiar yet persistently wrong time. There is still the sense of losing something in this process, though, even if it does allow for more user-customizable ghost options. Worse, think what happens if they can start automating hyperbole: what would we do with the excess ghost poets?

Trivia: On 12 June 1933 at 1:30 pm National Air Transport NC13308, under Captain Warren Williams, left Newark Municipal Airport on the first transcontinental commercial flight. The cost was $160 one-way or $260 round-trip, and the 247 reached San Francisco in 21 hours (returning in 19 hours 45 minutes). Source: The Boeing 247: The First Modern Airliner, F Robert van der Linden.

Currently Reading: In The Wake Of The Plague: The Black Death And The World It Made, Norman F Cantor.

More car-shopping news: I'm feeling more warm about the Scion. I did try out various Fords today, and found a one-year-old certified-pre-owned Focus that was pretty affordable, but didn't have a moon roof, which I would like in a new car. And another Toyota dealer had the Scion tC Limited Edition thing from last year, unsold, for which they're knocking off a thousand dollars from the price, a difference that doesn't seem like a whole lot. This comes in grey rather than black.


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