Sunday, July 31, 2011

Elvis Presley -- The Crown Of Creation

From where I sit, all the key trajectories -- known and unknown, past and present -- point directly to Elvis Presley as the crown of creation.

Isn't that something? We've got the crown of creation narrowed down just like that. From here on out, except in us keeping Elvis' memory alive, it's all downhill. Mankind will struggle, global warming will eradicate the icebergs, robots will enslave us, winning lottery numbers will forever elude us, and finally the sun will become a red giant and wipe out everything we know. Our only hope today is Elvis, and, face it, eventually even that's not going to be enough.

But for our purposes, let's keep it on the bright side. The robots and the sun problems are still some years in the distant future. We have a full, bright future just out in front of us and for the foreseeable future, especially if we keep Elvis Presley at the center of it. I personally love Elvis -- this is true -- and what happiness I have, it's mostly Elvis.

We've already glimpsed the end of the world, above. But the world had a beginning as well. And that's where we'll start.

Formation of the Earth -- I've been seeing more and more TV shows that show the Earth being formed in a series of cataclysms lasting millions of years. Like a dust bunny, it started as one isolated piece of stone floating in space. Then thanks to gravity, many rocks came together. With gravity and heat, all of it fused together, then it was a seething, inhospitable ball of hell. The proto-moon slammed into it, then the forming moon and the forming Earth went into a tug of war/dance that helped us more than the moon. What was it all about? Whatever cosmic entity or intelligence there is at the heart of all things was preparing the way for Elvis.

Adam -- Adam came into existence. One day an unusually intelligent ape used blood and charred wood fragments to make paint, and started painting his hopes and dreams on the walls of his cave. (Train cars were not yet invented.) This mixture of thought and culture helped him bridge the gap between beast and man, and he called himself Adam. Adam's genius is not generally well-appreciated, but you try it: Go from the species you are to something a transcendental step up. It's tough to do. But he somehow knew, he glimpsed it from afar, the coming of his greatest son, Elvis, and that put a spring in his step. And one other thing, both Adam and Elvis are recognizable from their first names alone.

Buddha and Christ -- I'm lumping them together and letting them also represent other smart guys from the same general time frame, like Socrates and Plato. Buddha glimpsed that all of life was suffering, and ever would be until Elvis came. Jesus Christ took on Himself the sins of the world, freeing up man's path and clearing the way sufficiently for the coming of Elvis. The other smart guys also had their role in Elvis' arrival, Plato even glimpsing Elvis' fairly platonic relationship with Annette Day in "Double Trouble," thanks to her being an underage character most of the film.

Leonardo da Vinci -- I'm including Leonardo basically because any list of the world's great men is incomplete without him. His artwork of the naked man with the outstretched arms is the first full frontal nudity I ever saw, except for my baby brother, almost two years younger than me, having his diaper changed. Leonardo's connection with Elvis is unknown, except his notebooks have some obscure mentions, depending on how you read them, a letter on this page, a word on that page, of a "King" "of" "rocks" "and" "roll[ing wheel]."

Albert Einstein -- I have mixed feelings about Einstein. He's was a brainiac and is credited with being the Father of the Father of the Atomic Bomb, something like that. So he was very smart, but he also gets the blame, and rightly so, for a lot of destruction, and doubtless more to come. But to the extent that Einstein had anything to do with Elvis, he's OK in my book. It's interesting that he didn't die until April 1955, meaning he probably listened to and owned some of Elvis' Sun recordings. Anyone as smart as Einstein would have to see Elvis' genius.

Elvis Himself -- I was born about the time of Elvis' first recording, so what do you know about that? Then from an early age I had a deep appreciation of him, having his "Loving You" LP as my first record. Even as a five-year-old, I knew Elvis was the crown of creation. He had the greatest voice, the greatest musical instincts, and was drop-dead gorgeous. Put it all together, and with him being him, you've got something!

But think, if there wasn't a great element of destiny at work here, Elvis Presley might have remained a truck driver. We need truck drivers, of course, and I honor that. But this was Elvis, he needed to get out of that line of work and get on with his great destiny, which he did, much to my relief.

It sounds like everything is "happily ever after," but there were still flies in the ointment. For one example, we have mixed feelings about Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis' manager. In my opinion, he gets high marks for putting Elvis out there and keeping the demand high. But he gets low marks for keeping Elvis in the movies too long and not letting him record higher quality stuff in the '60s. Yes, I treasure my Elvis soundtracks, but they're clearly inferior to his '50s and first post-Army stuff or the later '60s American Recordings tracks. One last thing, to me he also took too big a cut of Elvis' money.

OK, Elvis Presley was the crown of creation. But what about his death and the years since? It's a drag that he died. And you may have noticed, everything has gone downhill since Elvis' death in 1977. The incidence of everything bad is up starkly since, drug use, teen pregnancy, suicide, bank frauds, political corruption, sports strikes, essay questions on college exams, internet spam, terrorism, inflation, and the price of stamps. The only reason we're not all dead and gone is the continued devotion of Elvis' fans for his music and memory. And thankfully the company controlling Elvis' output keeps reissuing everything; it's like every week we get another reissue of his top 10 hits.

Do you want to be happy? I believe you do. Listen to more Elvis music! I'm happy! Already today I've listened to "Big Boss Man," "Ask Me," "It Hurts Me," "Little Sister," and "Never Ending." Pretty cool, huh?

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Pink Professor -- The 14-Piece Pool Cue

I'm always interested in people getting along better and having good friendship. And my friend the Pink Professor also has that as one of his goals, which he's able to accomplish in his work at the Roadhog Roadhouse, a bikers bar and grill.

You might recall, sometime back my friend took on the Pink Professor role typical at bikers bars, though qualified men are still in high demand. What was different about him was how he just showed up one night and worked himself into the role, just by his good nature. He has the gifts it takes to soften the otherwise very rough and tough atmosphere of the place, and that's what they want.

The trust everyone has in him comes in very handy when there's some kind of eruption, when the more base, ruffian elements of their nature start creeping back in. At those times, there's no one who can moderate or referee like a Pink Professor figure. That's certainly the way it was at the Roadhouse when the guy with the 14-piece pool cue showed up...

Almost every man who plays pool there uses one of the house sticks. They're not looking for the added nuance or class of a custom stick. But there's a few who show up with a two-piece cue in a case, and they always think they're hot stuff. Just imagine what happens when a guy shows up with a 14-piecer!

Well, it happened. A guy, who we now know was named John, came in and started making a general nuisance of himself. He was screwing around with the bartender over how good the drinks were, snotting off to the waitresses about the promptness of their service, and even singing loudly along with the jukebox. But his worst offense came when he was challenged to a game by Dirk, then went out to his bike and brought in a case with 14 pieces of a cue stick in it.

Now, Dirk is a guy who needs everything predictable and normal or he more or less loses it. And get a few beers in him, he's liable to go ballistic. He was ticked off when John opened his case and started putting his cue together. It was going to take him forever. First, he seemed indecisive about which piece to start with, but after some deliberation decided to go with the tip end. Then he rethought it, that it'd be more natural to start with the heavy end, where you've got the heft well in hand.

He had the base piece, then got the next piece. He started screwing it in and it squeaked. So he unscrewed it and spat in the hole, then screwed it again. He looked satisfied and nodded at his own expertise on handling a decent stick. Dirk was standing there with the commoner's one-piece stick, feeling a little inferior. John took the third piece. The screw went in crooked, meaning he couldn't cinch it. He struggled to loosen it, then guided it carefully, a bead of sweat appearing on his brow. His hands also were perspiring, so he went to the bar and got a napkin. Then it was time for the fourth piece, the fifth, the sixth, and so forth. Each one presented its own challenge, but John knew just the remedy to finally solve each difficult problem.

Dirk was looking like he might crap his pants, he was that pissed. Halfway done, John paused, because when you get to the narrower pieces, they're more delicate. He wanted to check out each one before attempting to screw them together, so nothing would break. It was quite an operation, a couple requiring spit, then a safe cracker's touch. John was being very careful with the treads. He wanted them cinched in, but of course the instructions say not to over-tighten. He had a few more pieces to go, when Dirk threw up his hands in disgust and called the whole thing off. Both men were suddenly in each other's face and it was all they could do to pull them apart.

The next night, the whole story was told to the Pink Professor. Of course Dirk was there, but no one had any reason to expect John, a brand new guy, to show up again, when who walks in the door? The Pink Professor greeted him in a friendly way and offered to buy him a beer, before telling him he'd heard about the cue and would love to see it. John was taken aback with his friendliness, but naturally he'd love to show it off. From start to finish, the Pink Professor expressed appreciation for the intricate pool cue's pieces, its sheen, its workmanship, its expense, and even the solid construction of the plain black case.

Dirk was listening in and muttering, still sore and nursing his wounds. The Pink Professor called him closer and sort of acted like he didn't know the game had never actually happened the night before. He started complimenting Dirk for being the first man in the place to take on a man with a stick like that. How brave Dirk was! What a nice man Dirk was for welcoming and taking a new man under his wing! Dirk has real class! If we only had more like Dirk, what a fantastic world this would be! The Pink Professor laid it on thick. In a few minutes, John and Dirk were arguing in a friendly way which one would buy a beer first for the other. They were fast buddies, with John letting Dirk take the case around and show everyone.

John also had a compliment for Dirk, confessing that he'd taken so long putting the cue together because he was a little worried that Dirk was a pool shark. He complimented Dirk's look of confidence. He confessed he could've had it together in less than five minutes, which he and Dirk now set about together to accomplish. Before long, Dirk was taking down the information on the stick, where to order them, their selling points, etc. The night went on like that, with a few friendly games. Neither man turned out to be a pool shark. Both of them had their technical failings, but everyone was generous, saying it was the beer's fault.

Friday, July 29, 2011

In Bed With The Princess And The Pea

I met an actual real life princess, and started thinking, Lucky me! This doesn't happen very often, for one thing, and the fact that she came on pretty strong was a real bonus.

We had a nice time out on the town, then when I went to drop her off, she asked me into the palace. Of course I was eager to see what might happen.

We had a drink or two, then it was time to get down to business. I was thinking she'd have one of those four poster beds with curtains all around. But instead, it was just a mattress in the middle of the room.

OK, let's get to it. We started a little bit of necking. She was doing some groping, and I in turn was also all hands. We were very soon getting into the prone position, when suddenly she had some apparently minor discomfort.

I asked what was wrong. She cussed a blue streak, with some complaint about there being a pea on the floor under the mattress. Oh, that's all? I thought, a little relieved because I was afraid she didn't like the sight of me in my birthday suit. It could stand some alterations.

I said I'd get it out, then we'd pick up where we left off. But she protested that that would be too much trouble. "There's another mattress in the closet," she said, which to me sounded tougher than just getting rid of the pea. But since I hardly ever get to first base with a princess, I wasn't going to argue.

We had two mattresses now and I got her comfortable again, I thought, and I was getting ready to make a serious move on her involving some above-the-waist fooling around. But she surprised me again with new complaints about the pea. She suggested another mattress, although I made a serious case for simply getting the pea out. But she wouldn't take no for an answer.

With three mattresses, I thought, she'd have to be comfortable enough. You could put a jackhammer under three mattresses and turn it on low and not feel it. But it was no good. I thought I could just go straight to the real goods, when she objected, saying she needed serious comfort measures, and she needed them now! "Yeah," I said, a little sarcastically, "I know the feeling, sheesh!"

We may as well skip ahead. It went on like that, the fourth, fifth, and sixth mattress. Then a few more, seven, eight, nine. An hour had passed and by now we had a grand total of 18 mattresses stacked up, which is a lot of heavy lifting for an old man who started the night in pretty good shape...

18 mattresses! That meant we had mattresses stacked nearly to the ceiling. We were up there with the chandelier practically in our face. I was exhausted, but finally my heavy breathing died down. Then she revealed herself to me and the heavy breathing returned. I looked down and it looked like it was going to be smooth sailing from here on out. It reminded me of driving down the street and seeing someone's garage left open. Very inviting.

I prepared myself for the greatest bliss, the sweet denouement to a wonderful night. But just before I was able to cross the threshold toward satisfaction, again she started in with the bitching about the pea. Somehow she felt the damned thing 18 stories up! This stinking pea was getting more action than me!

Since there wasn't room for any more mattresses, I had another idea, but it would take some doing. I kissed her forehead and moved her hand down and asked her to save my place. It would just be a matter of climbing down and getting rid of the pea once and for all...

I ran out to the garage and looked around, getting just the right equipment. Then back in and to the basement. I took the automatic pea finder and started touching the basement ceiling in various places. In a few minutes, I had it! The red light was blinking! Now it was just a matter of drilling up -- [drill noises here] -- and as the drill pushed up, I pulled it back and the pea fell harmlessly into my hot little hand. "Now I've got you, you little bastard!"

With the obstruction to our happiness completely removed, I headed back upstairs and made the difficult climb all the way back to the ceiling. And there she was, looking very comfortable. Her hand was still in place, which I lovingly removed and kissed. The princess was truly ready for me, snuggling against me, writhing, and reaching for me as I also sought out and discovered her love.

The tension of the evening had completely melted away, with another form of intensity taking its place, this intensity being of bliss. This was going to be one mind-blowing night, I was certain, with the princess fully yielded to me, and, it should go without saying, me fully yielded to her. We were both worked up, to the max!

The time had come. I was going to go for it. She was open to me, when without warning she suddenly went limp and showed a terrible grimace on her face. I felt my heart and the rest of me sink. What now? She was uncomfortable again, "That hole's letting in a draft."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sri Masturbananda -- The Wood Manhood Affair

The spiritual realm continues to reverberate with the news of Brother Unsettled's transformation into a dead tree and his sudden decay.

No one can quite believe it, except of course our all-wise master, Sri Masturbanda. He clearly saw Unsettled's karma and many struggles and had to know something like this would happen. There's no way I personally could've foreseen it, that's for sure, since I've never heard of such a thing before. So I'm thinking, Live and learn.

The problem was Unsettled's disturbing response to Masturbananda's teachings, leading to Master giving him the name Unsettled. Maybe at some level he didn't think himself worthy. I hope it's something like that. That would explain his austerities, and how he couldn't quite get into the work as it was taught.

As I've explained a time or two, Master's teachings are meant to lead us into the experience of oneness with the Cosmic Father and Mother. But since we're so ego-bound we have a hard time making the higher connection. For the most part, it's only in devoting ourselves to the practice of Masturbananda's teachings -- driving ourselves to climactic ecstasy -- that we generally have those highest glimpses of the Divine. Yes, it's seconds at a time, but how precious those are! (We understand there is a correlate experience for women, but precisely how it works remains a mystery.)

Whatever Unsettled's basic problem was, he couldn't quite accept and practice the devotions. He would sit morose and take in the teaching, but then when all were dismissed for personal practice, he'd be out walking by the river or in the forest. I was eating a Twinkie over by the fence one day, hoping the extra calories would give me that much more oomph where it counts, and saw him walking by all hangdog and occasionally slapping himself silly, unfortunately on the face.

Of course you'll remember I have a secondary expertise in group dynamics, so I was very aware of the tension between Masturbananda and Unsettled, more from the latter's side since Master has pretty much risen above the selfish will. Master is merciful, but there's an aspect of mercy that allows the errant one to go his way. I could see the various dynamics at play and it broke my heart. I came that close to sneaking into Unsettled's room and hanging some pinups on his wall. The very least I could do was keep an eye on him.

Unsettled was drifting away, and we were at our wit's end on what to do. But "Each man to his work" was what the other chelas (disciples) always said, so we would quickly retire to our quarters. Master would smile on our eagerness to get to the work, knowing our momentary fellowship with the Divine was at hand, and quite literally so.

But where was Brother Unsettled at these blessed times? Off in the forest. Now, what I'm going to say to you is shocking and utterly personal. I don't want any of this information getting to Unsettled's family. In keeping an eye on him, I trailed him a few times. Lest anyone think I was being unfaithful to the work, let me say I wasn't; I cut off the bottom of a pants pocket, so I was able to do two things at once.

What I saw on those occasions was something I never expected, not in a million incarnations. Brother Unsettled was abusing his manhood, but not in the prescribed manner. He was rubbing it against the chain link fence, splintery boards, and trees. He even stole a cheese grater from the ashram kitchen! Even from a distance I could see it was a gnarly mess. But there wasn't any blood, meaning this had been his habit for some time. It appeared to be toughened, scabbed or calloused over. A few glimpses of such a horrendous sight, and I'll admit it, I felt myself shrivel up to nothing. So that's what he was doing!

Friends, we're dealing with cosmic, spiritual, transcendental realities. And those in the know, know. I was startled to look across the way and see Sri Masturbananda also observing this terror. He intercepted me on the way back and told me it was too late for Unsettled. He was too far gone, and even then was being negatively transformed. Because of all the whacking against and rubbing against tree bark, day after day, he completely turned to wood, which of course is halfway to petrification, had he been able to take that next step.

Pictured above is Brother Unsettled's preserved wooden manhood, somewhat shrunken from its original size, being now about three inches. In this display, as an honor to his memory, we have surrounded it with other pieces of wood, commemorating his days alone in the forest.

The story obviously has a sad ending, but there is one bright spot. Found near Unsettled's broken wooden remains was a piece of wood that had apparently caught his eye, and very likely gave him what little pleasure in life he was able to enjoy. It is the hope of the brothers of the ashram that he experienced the Divine in whatever seconds of release he was able to experience with this yoni-shaped piece of wood.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Somnambulant Biker

While I was eating my way to heaven, at the same bar and grill, they had their massive phalanx of big screen TVs tuned precisely to the channel with the bike race.

I looked up several times, mostly to see if I was under close observation, but also to keep track of the race. The bicyclists were gathered in a tight pack, with pretty much all of them going the same direction.

If you're in a bicycle race, there's some dangers; you don't want to be involved in a massive pileup. But there was one guy, and he's the guy I really had my eye on, who fell asleep numerous times in the race. Which is understandable to me, because just watching the race was making me sleepy. Not that it wasn't exciting; it was, but that kind of intense action and the riders in such a tight pack drained me emotionally and physically.

This guy, who they were calling the Somnambulant Biker, shares that psychological/physiological response with me. Frankly, I don't think he has any business being a bike racer if he can't overcome it. I know I would make a terrible bike racer. If I were in the middle of the pack -- this is the root of it -- I'd be so focused on that fact alone that it'd be hard for me to keep going the same speed as everyone else. It'd be like hypnotism; I'd be getting sleepy, very sleepy, then-- there I'd go, veering off. That's exactly what this guy did. Spinning out of control, he wiped out several competitors and came to a rest in a pile of hay bales.

But that wasn't the end for him. They got him up -- his team -- thanks to some smelling salts and got him going. I could read their lips, "You need to wake up, keep your focus," maybe the worst thing they could've said. Because it's not the focus that's off. It'd be better for him to lose his focus and thereby avert the hypnotic trap.

The next psychological challenge for him appeared to be the sharp turns. I can see that. You're going straight, then you have a hairpin turn, it does things to your thinking. If only it'd been more gradual, it'd give him time to adjust to the difference. Our minds aren't made to accept drastic changes, as seen in the biological explanation "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" -- things are meant to be gradual. But instead of accepting limits, we think we can circumvent nature, so for that reason it's so much easier to wipe out on sharp turns after long straightaways. And sure enough, the Somnambulant Biker fell asleep, and wiped out several more competitors before again coming to a rest on several bales of hay.

I was thinking, This guy ought to be disqualified, but of course I understood what he was going through. I looked down at another load of writhing mashed potatoes and almost fell asleep myself. So I was sympathetic, rooting for him when his team gave him another few whiffs of smelling salts. Then once again he was on his way.

It went on like that several other times. He had wiped out most of the field but was still going.

Then they were on the last lap and everything was going OK. He had to have retained quite a bit of smelling salts residue in his nasal passages, surely he could make it to the end. And yet the thought processes at work, driving him to sleep, were too much.

They were on the very last straightaway, just him and the last three competitors still in it. And I guess he got to thinking, I just might win. You know how that goes? It's an overwhelming thing to think you might come in first, because you're also thinking of all that could go wrong: It could be this, or this, or this -- the possibilities are endless. You keep thinking, thinking, thinking, worrying, stewing, and it builds on itself, it's mounting up, it's so intense, crazy intense, so bad that even on a straightaway you're not safe.

Actually, a straightaway might be the worst place to be, because you're also thinking how clear your thoughts should be, so you're going nuts thinking something is truly wrong with you. Then the closer you get, the worse it is. And so it was for the Somnambulant Biker. He was so lost in thought as they came down the final stretch, he completely blanked out, went completely black, veering back and forth, and knocking out the competition, only coming to an abrupt stop when he flipped over and crashed just an inch over the finish line.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Shivering In The Shadows


One time recently when I went to a shadowy area, I saw men shivering in the shadows. They looked up, then looked down. But when I went back and started shivering myself, they really noticed me and sent me away, "You don't belong here." I felt like I was being chased out.

The shadowy area has men with their legs against the building. One leg at a time, but there was one young buck who tried to get two up at the same time.

I saw one guy sitting, both legs under him, and he sat there, a guy shivering. I was drawn to this last guy shivering. Mentally, I made a note of the fact that it wasn't that cold. He looked up at me. I saw he had half gloves on that were of the coarsest material and ratty.

I asked if he was happy and he didn't want to answer right away. Shivering and scoping me out, he rasped and coughed. It went like that a while, and I figured he resented me. I turned to go, when the coughing and shivering ceased. He nodded and said he was like everyone else, happy at times, unhappy at other times.

"That's the best answer," I said to his smile. Then I parodied a shivering man for a few seconds. He laughed and rasped, then I left. But he was probably shivering again before I got back to the full sunshine. I passed the leg guys on my way back.

All this last stuff happened before I felt I was being chased out.

At home, I sat on the north side of the garage in the shadows and shivered till the bugs got too bad. Then I went in.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Ate My Way To Heaven

Here's an odd one.

I went out to eat today, not thinking it'd be anything out of the ordinary. But as it turned out, it was one of the strangest and most satisfying experiences in my life. After it was over, they said I ate my way to heaven, and it looks like they were right!

I went in with sandwiches on my mind, but ended up eating nothing but mashed potatoes. Heaps and mounds of hot, writhing, mashed potatoes. I'm farsighted, so I had to take my glasses off to focus on the task at hand, thanks to the thrusting movements and the general excitement of the crowd urging me on.

First, let me say, I'm nothing special. There were others at the trough, so to speak. But for each guy, and a couple of lesbians, everything was fresh, meaning no seconds, sloppy or otherwise. I may as well say, I wouldn't want seconds no matter how nicely they were prepared.

Remember, this wasn't what I went in for. But it's amazing what can happen when you're not expecting it. Something had provoked these people. It might have been like one of those "The Boss is Out of Town" sales, where anything goes. Definitely, someone had an idea. I was guessing one of the waitresses got it started. I wasn't there at the time. But instead of everyone else ushering her to the back room to make herself decent, everything got out of hand, and before you knew it, it was crazy time for the whole crew. It explained some of the disgusted-looking people headed for their cars when I was trying to get it.

I barely got in when someone grabbed me and I found myself facing-- looking down at-- good God, heaps and mounds of hot writhing mashed potatoes, and some of the most compliant servers I'd ever seen. With some of the cutest smiles just a few feet up. There were no words exchanged; you wouldn't have been able to hear them anyway over the shouts of revelers. Of course there weren't any introductions, no "Mother, may I?" Just cooks endlessly spooning out more and more mashed potatoes, and those of us who were intimately involved in doing our level best to clean them up.

My face had to be a terrible mess. But there weren't any napkins, and the urgency of the moment probably would've kept me from bothering. My hands were already occupied anyway, since I figured if I had one base covered, I may as well go for the others, too. It's not that far to reach, which goes without saying. If it meant a little more excitement all around, I saw it as a benefit.

I don't know how much mashed potatoes I ate, but it had to be more than the government's daily recommended serving. After a while, though, I'd had enough, and there were others to be served.

At that point, I learned there must have been some planning for this event, like it was an exquisite event of performance art that I just happened to be there for. Because a guy came up and presented me with a cool T-shirt that said, "I Ate My Way To Heaven" with an advertisement for the place, a bar and grill.

Stepping Out Of Character

It said on the news this week that Stephen Colbert "stepped out of character" to record a PSA for "It Gets Better." I don't remember him stepping out of character before. The other day I was trying to remember what his character was before he took on his own show. I can't think of it.

Then just today I was watching a performance somewhere and suddenly, unexpectedly, the announcer said the guy was going to "step out of character" to explain certain things. So he went from interesting performance mode to boring explanation mode. I wish he would've stayed in character.

But I actually like the idea of everyone stepping out of character, if you can manage it. If you are a character. I can't think of a good reason to go through life with just one character. If you're really living, you're a swirl of characters anyway, like a color wheel on a Christmas tree. Put on your new character like a pair of pants, or, if it's not so voluntary for you, accept gladly whatever your twisted brain thrusts on you.

There's a guy walking around town who acts kind of crazy. He passed me on the sidewalk one day and he was ranting and raving about something, nearly oblivious to me passing although he did look at me. It'd be cool to see him step out of character and go into explanatory mode: "I frankly don't like ranting and raving that much. But somewhere along the line, I noticed the voices in my head needed to vent. It's has a downside, believe it or not, people tend to avoid me. Go figure." Then he goes back into character, frothing and casting himself into the fire.

My experience with doctors is they have a fairly predictable character. They go around thinking all the time, "I'm a doctor," and that's a standard they have to live up to. That's one of the reasons you never see a doctor in public, because they're so image-conscious. The only time you see a doctor is in the little room. You step out of the little room and they're already gone, vanished. They're very rational and can't overcome it. But what if you had a doctor who had numerous characters to choose from? He has a dartboard with characters listed, throws a dart and that's what he becomes. Punk rocker, hillbilly, nerd, nitwit. How about average guy? "Hi, I'm an average person. I exist outside the office."

A teen girl could (and should) step out of character. This is someone who spends her day picking on the other girls, like one of the mean girls on Facebook who drives someone else to suicide. For her to step out of character is going to be hard, since there's zero self-reflection at work. So somehow she has to be magically zapped. Suddenly she's a nice girl, concerned with such weird concepts as honor and decency. "My explanation for my prior bad behavior is this, that it's somehow hormonally-driven. They say our maturity is two years ahead of boys, so I pity them."

Of course a boy can be a real bully, slugging other guys in the arm and making a nuisance of himself in other ways. He could step out of character and make his explanation of it. Then he submits himself to a kind mentor, learns a good trade like carpentry, and lives happily ever after. But most bullies are going to be better after they're 21 anyway, except for the ones who end up in prison. Where they also can learn carpentry.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Poop In The Sun

Warning: This post contains graphic language, the description of dog poop in the sun. If you find the subject of dog crap offensive, please spare yourselves and leave now. But if you stay, I think you will learn something, because this post will end with a moral.

As a pet owner, I am a very conscientious person. I take my dog Underbrush out several times a day, and when it comes to droppings, I always clean them up. You'll see me out there with one or two bags. In fact, I'm often even carrying bags around town just because I've forgotten to take them out of my pocket. But it doesn't matter, because they're always the clean ones.

But as conscientious as I am, once in a while she manages to go and I don't notice it. This always happens in my own yard, because if we were in someone else's yard, I would be watching her like a hawk. In our own yard, though, I might have glanced away, although it hardly ever happens. I'm actually proud of my vigilance, being one of the most vigilant people around.

Well, it just so happens that there were two such incidents in the last week or so. I've been out in the yard, taking her out later in the day, and then I've noticed a missed pile of crap. No matter, I just gang it up with whatever fresh she might be doing and it gets cleaned up.

Yesterday -- and you might remember there's a nationwide heatwave -- I took her out mid-morning and noticed some crap apparently from earlier in the day. (Other dogs can't get into this section of the yard.) It was still moderately fresh, indicating that it was from her prior visit to the yard a couple hours earlier.

Flies were buzzing around it and some had landed. There was a lot of activity. I was feeling a little queasy, so I just left it there, making a mental note not to step there. A few hours later, I went out again and it was dried up substantially -- dog poop, like the human body, being about 90% water. There were just a few flies left. (This must be an important source of water for flies, I don't know.) Then later yet, toward evening, after the sun had been bearing down on it all day, it was totally shrunken, dessicated, packed together, and black. It started out brownish and bigger. And now there weren't any flies.

It really made me think: 1) Why am I cleaning up poop when it's wet and sloppy, when I could let it set in the sun all day and clean it up when it's neutralized? It turns out poop has a half life of only a day! 2) If I were a scientist, I might wonder if it'd snap in half like chalk. Anyway, toward evening then, at that time, I scooped it into the bag and put it in the trash.

The moral of the story is this: Shit doesn't stand a chance in the sun. On these hot days, be careful, the sun can be very harmful.

Presto Contortionist!

In honor of the last Harry Potter movie, I've been working on my magic. A few months ago I bought a wand, which when I'm not using I keep in the garage so it won't accidentally go off.

I've been looking for the perfect magical phrase, something of my own, full of power. Today, after an especially powerful brain spasm, I blurted it out, "Presto Contortionist!"

The magic I'm associating with this phrase is what I'll call localized shapeshifting. Meaning, the entire shape won't shift but just parts. Like if I aimed it at your face, somehow your mouth might rotate and go from its normal position up one side of the face to the forehead and down the other side and home again. A lighter dose might make your nose move back and forth a few times.

Now that's contortionism! But I'm bothered by the idea that the mouth isn't just an isolated organ. It's attached to a tube that leads down the throat. How it's supposed to go up to the forehead without the tube behind the face getting tangled up in the nose apparatus or interfering with the eye channels, I don't know. It could be people will have to die before I perfect it, which is sad, but that's the price of progress. Something easier might be just making people's hair stand on end, then drop back. Or picking up a glass of water, making it hover over the head, then tipping it for a good soaking.

I was at DQ thinking of this, and letting a straw stand in for a wand. Of course I tried the moving of the mouth on a guy's head, someone across the room. "Presto Contortionist," I said softly. I got his mouth about two inches up, then figured I better quit. It was funny when he went to shovel in a spoonful of ice cream and hit his chin! Before he noticed what was wrong, I quickly moved it back.

I was imagining all kinds of wickedness I could do with this, like having people drool ice cream they just ate, making it come up again. Or something much more wicked (and violent), lifting someone up with the wand, opening the waste can lid, directing their head in, then moving the lid up and down, whack whack whack. That's mean, I know, and I would never do it, so that was just imaginary, unlike moving the guy's mouth, which really happened.

A great one for DQ that wouldn't be too violent but just mischievous would be to make the ice cream machine run about two seconds longer than it should, so you ended up with a large for the price of a medium. I know, technically that'd be stealing, but it'd create a lot of new jobs because they'd need to come up with magic-proof ice cream machines. Unfortunately, it'd also raise the price of ice cream.

I'll end with this, the combination of hypnotism and magic through your computer. Read this next sentence slooooowly: "You are transfixed by my words.... Relax, relax... Now let your entire face relax, let it go completely limp, let there be no resistance... PRESTO CONTORTIONIST! ..." Sorry about that, your nose just fell on the floor. Better get it before the dog does.

Spotify 1

I've had Spotify on my computer for the past few days, so I thought I'd write something about it, the good and the bad so far.

I got the Premium subscription because it says you get better quality audio and can take songs with you on an iPod or phone. I got a new iPod, had to upgrade because it wouldn't work on my 1st generation iPod Touch.

If you want to use an iPod, you have to abandon iTunes and let Spotify transfer your tracks. What I was hoping to do was put a bunch of my albums on this iPod along with tracks that I don't own from Spotify. And that works, you can do it, but at this point there's not a good way to organize your albums. They don't show up in alphabetical order by artist. Instead, they have to be part of playlists, even if you make a playlist with nothing but one album. Then the playlists don't alphabetize.

So instead of doing that, I decided just to abandon the putting on of my own albums in any systematic way. At most, I'll put an album or several depending on what I want to hear at the time. But my real intention is to continue to use my 1G iPod Touch for my own albums and the new iPod for downloaded Spotify tracks.

For downloading tracks, there's no problem with that, except you just have to have a playlist for everything to go to. Meaning what you're going to see in the end is just a hodgepodge of tracks. That's not really the way I'd like it to be, but it works OK. Other than that, what I'm doing is downloading playlists from ShareMyPlaylists and I'll listen to those and probably shuffle them. It's a hodgepodge, but you can discover a lot of stuff that way. And that's very nice.

Of course you can listen to anything they have on your computer easily, and that's a terrific thing. The songs usually take off really fast, but like any website once in a while there's a delay or pause in the middle of something. I have a line out from the headphone jack into my stereo, so the tracks sound very nice.

You can search around and find tracks you to listen to, and apparently there are millions of tracks, or you can get these playlists ready made and listen to them. And you can click on the album title and see the album in order and play it in order if you want. It's great.

I have a few gripes in addition to the organizational issues described above. I occasionally like oldies, but it seems like the oldies market has been overwhelmed by re-recordings by members of the original groups, and those are thick like weeds in Spotify's track list. Sometimes they're marked as such, sometimes not. It's like getting a 1000 bucks and having 700 of it be counterfeit. And there's tons of karaoke and tribute versions of things. Occasionally you might want a karaoke track, but why you would to listen to The Pop Heroes' version of "Fireflies (made famous by Owl City)" is anyone's guess. Or how about Studio 99 doing sound-alike versions of '70s songs? The phrase "vast wasteland" comes to mind!

But in amongst the bullshit is of course plenty of treasures. There's numerous omissions, but I'm astounded by the amount of great stuff there is that I already know about and great stuff yet to be discovered. It's a bargain!

Someone in a Facebook comment said it was the same as Napster 2005, which is far from the truth. I had Napster back then, and in 2006, and Spotify is far better. I don't know what Napster is like now, but back then you sometimes had to sit and wait forever for a song to start, and downloading was a trickier business. The tracks didn't work on iPods but on such garbage players as the Gigabeat. I had a Gigabeat, a piece of (unsupported) Toshiba shit if ever there was one! It would randomly wipe out its entire memory.

And I always thought Napster's interface sucked too. It was extremely clunky, like if you were looking through the new albums and you were way down the page. When you clicked an album and then went back, you were back at the top. There were plenty of other objectionable things about Napster at the time that I've now forgotten, maybe not least of all, their abysmal customer support. I can't be sure, but there's probably people from 2006 still trying to get through to cancel, since you had to phone in to a number that may have been unmanned 23 hours a day. (I exaggerate, but not by much.;) )

In short, there's no comparison between Spotify and Napster 2005-2006. You certainly couldn't wirelessly download thousands of tracks from playlists people made! We are worlds away from what we had back then!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Deadpan Look

We used to get a lot of laughs out of the comic strip "B.C." and another that the same artist/writer, Johnny Hart, did with someone else, "The Wizard of Id."

It was the "Wizard" comic that had an especially funny character, a big nosed guy, I'm looking at Google images, it must have been Spook; it's been 40 years or more since we did all the laughing about it. Researching this topic right now, I see Johnny Hart died in 2007, and apparently the strips are still around. I basically quit reading the comics page, which, looking back on it, was about the time my Morose Period began.

But before that, way back when, B.C. was pretty funny, even though, if memory serves, there were some pretty lame themes, such as the guy looking up a definition in a book, or a couple of people insulting each other then walking over the hill together. I believe the definition theme ties in with what I'm talking about today, the deadpan look. The guy looked up a funny definition, then looked at the reader.

The panel above has the deadpan expression I'm talking about. The first panel has him saying some common sense thing anyone could understand, but the person he's talking to has a twisted understanding, leading to a deadpan expression directed at the reader. That concludes the strip.

This is interesting to me, with the bond that exists between the character and the audience. We together -- he and us -- know what he meant, but the dumb person didn't understand, meaning we are amused/bemused or exasperated together. That person is dumb! I'll be more cautious of them next time! It takes all kinds!

I was out for breakfast with the Pink Professor today, and I made a pun about something, and he did the deadpan expression off to the left, like he was facing an audience. Maybe it's called "deadpan" because you literally pan over and have a dead (still) look. There's no rolling of the eyes, no hand to the forehead, no diddling of the lips and blubbering. As far as looks go, you have passed away, your exasperation is humorously and unmistakably conveyed.

Oliver Hardy did a deadpan expression frequently, looking directly at the camera to bond with the viewer over some stupid thing Stan Laurel said or did. This is not to be confused with the slow burn, where he had a greater reaction, only delayed. The deadpan expression was pretty funny when Ollie did it.

We're very engaged these days, though, so when the Pink Professor does a deadpan look, I call him on it, "Deadpan!" Meaning, of course, we get less deadpan expressions these days because everyone's an analytical cultural sociologist. Still, it's a natural theatrical thing, guaranteeing laughs.

But in the "B.C." comic strip, I looked at the deadpan expression ending as very overworked, even lazy. After a while, I didn't like to see it anymore. And the same goes, even more so, for the insult exchange and the two characters walking over the hill. That one sort of turned my stomach after a while. Still, if you're a cartoonist churning out a strip everyday, you have to come up with themes like that that are easy, I guess. It's understandable.

Closing this post, I'm giving you a deadpan look. Because someone somewhere just said something dumb, and I can't entirely believe it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

On Trial In The Shower

There's lots of activity in the shower, and not just the usual stuff of scrubbing here, scrubbing there, soaping down my recent bug bites, washing my pits and bits, shampooing, etc.

Most of the activity involves the outside world impinging on my privacy, because to a certain extent I can still hear what's going on out there. Like if a big truck rumbles by the house and shakes something, or hits a pothole and goes airborne, with the cargo shifting to the point that the guy might lose control and go in the ditch.

I'm showering and trying to gauge all these noises for their distance and what else might be happening. When you're in the shower you're very vulnerable. It might have been someone knocking at the door, and hearing nothing, assuming you're not home, and if they happen to be a burglar, they could be breaking in, not to be discovered till I get out of the shower, at which time I would be in big trouble.

It's all running through my mind, I can barely enjoy the shower. If he gets spooked, I might get shot. Or, more positively, he might run and dive through a window; that's happened to me before. I'm thinking of the trial. Obviously I didn't do anything wrong ... or did I? I could've taken my shower earlier, before anyone got up, and thereby prevented the burglary. Maybe the judge will think I'm in on it, conveniently taking a shower when I did, implying I had my stuff stolen so I could collect on the insurance. It's been in enough movies, it's a believable scenario. And while, just between you and me, I wouldn't do that -- it's tough to imagine myself doing such a thing -- the fact that I'm thinking of it in the shower means I might look very guilty if called to testify.

Guilt and a guilty look are funny things. If you're really taken by surprise with something, it's not hard to look innocent. But if you think too much, you might really look guilty because you've imagined that very thing. And you know the number one suspect is always the guy right there close to the scene, you.

It get complicated further because burglars also know that, and he might show up pretrial to blackmail me with something, meaning either to get me in trouble with him or for me to drop the charges. But how could I do that? It would mean I'd be lying, like if I had to say he was an old family friend, and it would be clear I was lying before when I said I had no idea who he was, which was the truth. So I'd be in a ton of trouble, thanks to nothing else than being the guy's victim in the first place, and thanks to thinking too much about it, and thanks to being in the shower when he came.

Still, burglars hardly ever show up. I can't even see why anyone would be a burglar these days, thanks to all the video cameras, DNA, satellites, and the whole bit. They're able to keep track of us pretty well if push comes to shove. They might not check all the information at their disposal for a low-level burglary -- they didn't check it at all when I got a dent in my car at Walmart -- but they could if they wanted, like when someone's kidnapped. Then they check the video camera at every motel, gas station, bank, school, and parking ramp till they've got the guy nailed. They could do that with burglaries, too. So why would anyone be a burglar? Because he could still get away with it, as described above.

Or, you could be a burglar and be very baldfaced about it, to the point of not running, not diving through the window, instead just sitting calmly on the couch and saying, "We can do this the hard way or ... the easy way." In the negotiations, he spells it out that you have no recourse but to shake his hand and bless him as he leaves. Why should you be dragged into an insurance fraud case? Just dry yourself off and be more careful next time.

Now, let's say I did go ahead with the case. I'm in court and the judge might ask, "When did the accused show up?" I take it that he's accusing me of letting him in. How am I supposed to know when he showed up? And I'd have to say I didn't have any answer because I was in the shower. Then I remember, there was a truck that hit a pothole and sounded like it was about to go in the ditch. That was about five minutes after I got in the shower, and since I started worrying so much about burglars, I got out about five minutes after that and there he was

The judge sees I'm struggling and points out the truck incident is immaterial to the case, and accuses me of using a smokescreen to hide my own guilt. "Ten years in prison!" Forever! Where the showers are right out in the open, 14 on one wall and 14 on the other side, surrounded by burglars and other victims, going at it, their showers.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tough Love To The Rescue

We need to know how to handle people. If they're always throwing tantrums to get their way, that's no good. The best response is tough love.

Well-paid psychologists tell us that if we give in too much, we're just setting ourselves up for a sad life of more of the same. Common sense suggests this is true.

I heard of a case where the husband and wife each enjoyed bacon pretty much equally, with the husband enjoying it just a little more, certainly more than he should, as it turned out. They would eat at about the same pace, but he just a little faster, enough so that he'd be done with his bacon first.

After a while, he started looking at her remaining bacon, which soon became such an appraising stare that it was clear he had more on his mind than her pleasure alone. The fact of the matter is, he wanted his wife's bacon and wasn't ashamed to say so. She innocently gave in only once, then on other days he threw one tantrum after another to get his way.

Finally, the wife had enough, and having heard of tough love, she put her foot down. "No! It's my bacon and you're not getting any more!" Tough love! See how it works?

The same thing goes for children. If they always get their way, pretty soon there is no other way. They've got to have what they want when they want it, be it some particular food, toy, or, in these modern times, a phone, a video game, or pet. It's hard to say no to the little leeches, and that's what you think of them, because they're insatiable, at your throat for more, more, more! You just have to put an end to it: Tough love to the rescue! That's how it works. Let 'em suffer!

Speaking of pets, it even carries over to animals. They're like the husband in the story, their big thing is always food. I've had this problem with my dog Underbrush. I've been merciful and kind, giving her some little scrap, then she comes to expect it, to the point that she's sitting on the floor by my chair looking up. Then she's got her paws on the chair. Then she's managed to work a bib around her neck. At last, she's growling and baring her fangs, as if to say, "I'll take the whole plate and you take the scrap!" So much for mercy and kindness! I finally had to put an end to it, and with firmness. "No! You're not getting any more! That's it!" Tough love to the rescue! (Of course I don't go ballistic on the dog, this is just overstated to make my point; I still give her little scraps, thanks to those longing eyes.)

Then we have relations in the community. It might be your minister, a bartender, or a waitress you tip. If you're not doing exactly what you did before, or more, it makes them crazy. It's even true with your doctor. Maybe you're old and maybe he's a Medicare cheat. He comes to depend on all the extra x-rays and shots. That's how he's able to restore yet another collectable car. You go along with it for a long time because you don't want to make your doctor mad. (They're only half as bad as mechanics.) You don't know what he might do to you.

But if you want any peace whatsoever, after a while you need to cut him off. With tough love. "I recommend these ten x-rays, these five surgeries, and another twelve shots." By now, you've had enough. "No! No more x-rays, no more surgeries, and no more shots! That's it!" Tough love to the rescue! Of course you die next week, but you made your point.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

The Will To Live

I'm a qualifier. I qualify virtually everything, see? For me there are no absolutes, or very few. I seldom make absolute statements except ones that are the same old toss-off lines that nearly everyone makes, like, "That was the worst meal I ever had," or some such drastic judgment like that.

But I'm going out on a limb here, having given the matter thought for about five minutes, to say that everything we do manifests the will to live. Let's get suicide out of the way at the top. Does suicide show the will to live? Yes, but it shows a drastic unhappiness with the way life is going at this time. Escape seems better, with the will to live (a happier life) behind it.

Knowing I have the will to live in everything really helps me, because I never have to consider giving up. It's what I'm saying now, at least, but I believe I'll keep right on saying it. For my purposes, in certain circumstances giving up on "heroic measures" isn't really giving up, but is the will to live a quality life, so that you can have an awareness of death's approach. You're going to be dead a long time, you may as well be there when it happens!

Going down the road, I see the will to live all the time. The traffic gets thicker and tighter, my palms are sweaty on the steering wheel, but the mental computer is keeping track of all the lanes, the relative speeds and reliability of the drivers nearby, etc. If you could bring all your natural skills with angles and the movements of all the coordinates around you to math class, practically all of us would be geniuses. Except in actual math classes they're not teaching the will to live, they're teaching formulas without any stated purpose; they should be teaching the will to live.

Let's think of something from the movies we've all seen, guys in rockets or spaceships. They're ramping up to the moment of ignition, they're going through the final checklists, the soundtrack is building in intensity, then the camera lingers on the intensity of the guy's face. It makes you proud to be a human being, proud, in fact, because you're imagining yourself in his seat. Then there's a tougher situation in space. The soundtrack has a kind of whine to it, telling us that all systems are working in the most concentrated harmony, it's overpowering, and we see his face again, and we know, that's the center. If you overdubbed a shout of "THE WILL TO LIVE" over the whine, you wouldn't be too far off. He can handle the challenge or die trying.

Now let's think of one of those intense scenes, like where the G forces are working on him. He's strapped in and his face is jiggling back and forth like crazy. He's Crazy Guggenheim when he's not singing. He's thinking two things, "I hope my face doesn't freeze like this" and "The will to live." Even if the machine is too damned big, or too uncontrollable, he's going to do everything in his power for that will to prevail. "Main thrusters off," "Cool your jets," "Roger, Houston," they're saying everything but "The will to live," but it's there.

Whatever it is, school, sports, sex, you've got the will to live at the center of it. It drives us relentlessly. It gives significance to our actions. Sex is one of the weirdest drives we have -- you may be firing blanks, or falling way short of the mark because you're the only one there. No matter, the drive is squarely rooted in the will to live, even when it doesn't make the least bit of difference. It's hard to keep your eyes off the relevant parts of other people's bodies because the will is always there. You can't tell yourself "I'm a brick" and just be attracted to bricks, because you always know better.

With school, it seems to me if everyone was completely on top of this truth -- the will to live -- there'd be no end to our excellence. And sports as well, even though it shows up more often there because it's more intense than school as school is presently done. Kids are yawning when they go through the door. If their little faces were jiggling like in the spaceship, something concentrated like that, there'd be no stopping them.

I can imagine myself being invited to a big convention center, to the central banquet of the event, to give the keynote address on "The Will to Live." Of course by then I would have thought of the subject more than five minutes. I would have brought in some killer illustrations, some good icebreaker lines, the works. But still, sitting there waiting to be introduced, I wouldn't be wolfing down my food, because I'd be a little bit queasy, hoping I was going to get it right. I'm always that way, because that's the will to live ... always there.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Calling Attention To Yourself

This is just my opinion, but I think it's the way to live: I think it's good to call attention to yourself. And I also think you want to, but maybe you don't realize the rest of us want that for you, too!

Believe it or not, you don't have to jump up and shout to call attention to yourself. It can be done many different ways. You can sit quietly in the corner, absorbed in your own thoughts, and eventually someone will wonder about the quiet person in the corner. He's a man of mystery, how intriguing, or she's a femme fatale, a French phrase that's intriguing all by itself. Or you can jump and shout, or just short of that, be an engaging and obviously dynamic person, and you'll receive attention.

You can just use what Mother Nature gave you, your smile. The way you brush your hair. A walk of confidence. Boldness. Joie de vivre! How is it all the French I know are the intriguing bits?

I know there's lots of people out and about, on the street, who are trying their best to call attention to themselves, all the while appearing to be self-absorbed and cagey. And I'm willing to give it to them, watching them for a good long while, sometimes till they're out of sight, or even tipping down my glasses if they're too close.

Since they want attention, why not give it to them? If someone then looks at me, like, "What are you staring at, four eyes?" I have pull off some little line from the top of my head and say it with insouciance, like, "I love your look." Or I might just give a quick two thumbs up and go back to my reading. If you're in a situation like that, maybe giving more attention than might be socially acceptable, just go back to your reading and keep a knowing grin on your face, glancing up once in a while as if to say, "You still here?"

Do you need to be on top of fashion to legitimately call attention to yourself? No. I can't imagine saying yes to that, of course, because what is fashion? Someone else's idea of what's hot. What's hot is who you are. The other stuff just accentuates it, and it does not -- I repeat, it does not have to be quote-unquote fashionable. Any old garbage can be very sweet. I saw a guy downtown just today, true story, who had a raggedy shirt with a big tear on the back, a gaping hole, but with the way he was going across the street, the confidence he had, and the full Vigor Vivus of life, I fanned myself all the way home, "Tres chic!"

When it comes to fashion, or not fashion, since I don't really know what fashion even is, I love a disparate look, a little of this, a little of that, where it looks like it came out of five different drawers. Anything with boots is hot, but I'm leaving cowboy boots out of that, because they always draw the feet in for too much of an instep and tend to push the hips out so there's a bowlegged look even if you've never ridden a horse. Multiple colors is nice, striped socks, a lot of black, some coloring in the hair is sweet and a guaranteed attention-getter, comme il faut. Or go the opposite way, something that is so simple, like it came from just one drawer, a darling little chemise, is fantastic! Je t'aime! Je t'aime!

Then there's attention-getting that has nothing to do with clothes. Such as striving in every way to get people to notice you because you're great, or you're a genius, or for some other positive inner reason you have. This is where friends come in very handy. Because it's obviously a lot easier to do the things that call attention to yourself if you have a group around. Let's say you have a boisterous, charming laugh. If you're just boisterously laughing to yourself all by yourself, that's not usually a good look. That would be negative attention. But if the group is in motion, en rapport, and there's a harmoniousness all around that is pleasant to see, and you're standing out, your boisterous, charming laugh coming up over the obviously well-engaged group, that knocks me out. And it knocks out everyone else, too. Just be aware, this is a tough thing to fake; it's got to be real.

I go around town and I see a lot of folks with sorrowful countenances. I think the problem is, we all want attention, but we're not all good at getting it. Be encouraged, the rest of us are dying to give it to you, you just need to be bold and put yourself forward. You're a lot cooler than you think, mon petit chéri ou ma petite chérie!

Friday, July 15, 2011

The Sliver Of Glass

This happened some time back. One day I was scraping the bottom of the barrel when -- OUCH! DAMN! -- I had a sliver of glass in my finger. It must have been one really sharp and jagged bit of glass, too, because it went in slicker than snot and was very hard to get out.

This is what I remember: I worked at it from down below, trying to push it up and out. Then I was trying to edge it out, pressing gently from the sides. After a while I was rocking it back and forth like a car stuck in the snow. Then I had my finger in my mouth for a minute to get rid of the germs. Somehow then, after messing with it several other ways, all the time with it hurting like a bastard, finally, without any little broken off pieces remaining below the surface, I got it out.

Up to that time, on my honor, I was quite ignorant of that little sliver of glass. But it turned out it had quite a back story, which I may write about someday as a prequel to this post, and it had a story going forward. But since it would be impossible for me personally to watch over and record its movements going forth, I have had to seek and receive access to the akashic records, where such things are forever recorded. Maybe there's very little detail, but of course the barest facts are better than nothing.

You might think it seems odd, with all the secrets and mysteries out there -- the deep things of life and existence, godliness and the spiritual world -- why I would pay such close attention to one sliver of glass.  But it's true, every word. I have one very important reason, I don't want to get the damned thing in my finger again...

The records mention me in its stream, the one detail I personally experienced, that I got it out of my finger and flicked it into the garbage. But it turns out that wasn't the end of the story. The next day the trash guy picked up the bag in the yard, bumped it against his leg, and immediately was impaled on the same sliver!

From there, he put it back in a box headed to the recycling center, where an employee got it stuck in her finger. She got it out fairly easily, then flicked it away into the dirt, when it got stuck in a dog's paw, the dog just happening by. The family took the dog to the vet to have it removed, then as the vet was holding it the dog jumped up and it fell somewhere in the dog's fur. The family traveled far, to a beach, where a kid there petted the dog and got it in his hand. This kid's mom picked it out of his hand, then it fell in the sand.

Now here's an interesting detail I wouldn't expect: A sea turtle, just hatched out, got it stuck in its foot but still made it to the water. The little turtle swam toward China, where it was caught by fishermen. One fisherman, separating the turtle from a tangle in the net, got the sliver in his hand. He was down below in the ship, picking it out, when it fell into some cleaned turtle meat. Next, it ended up in a can of food that made its way to a grocery store.

A guy in Hong Kong ate the canned turtle and pretty soon noticed a fierce pain in his small intestine. A doctor removed his small intestine and the sliver, unnoticed, fell on a table being wheeled out. An associate of the doctor was heading for America for a conference. She set her leather purse down to say goodbye when it got hooked to the bottom of it. Later in America, she set her purse on the head table of the conference banquet.

She introduced the keynote speaker, slated to give an important talk on "The Latest Breakthroughs in First Aid." He put his hand on the table when getting up and the sliver was immediately embedded in him. He tried to give his speech, but the pain became so intense that a medic had to come out and work on him. As it came out, the sliver fell into some wet towels ----

The records break off there. The obvious conclusion is that it's still out there ... somewhere. It might be a thousand miles away or it might be right underfoot. The fact that you are reading this could be significant, because there could be a natural synchronicity at work, meaning you could be the next one to be injured. If that happens, please let me know, I'm curious. And it'll save me time having to look it up in the records.

Please have a very safe day.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Late To The Party

I'm forever late to the party. Consider these sad occasions:

BIRTHDAY PARTY AS A KID -- I'm thinking of a birthday party I went to as a kid. It was out in the country, and it just so happened I was late. They were already whooping it up and no one could be inconvenienced to search the house for one more party favor. Some of the other kids wanted to get on with it, so I felt shunned. I left the house crying, went out to the pigpen and started poking at the pigs with a stick, then I started walking home. I just saw the kid in June whose birthday it was back then and he said his biggest memory of me was poking pigs with sticks. I said my biggest memory of him was how he put the names of various fruits as the capitals of states on a 5th grade test, Apples being the capital of California. He said he didn't remember that, and I said I didn't remember the pigs.

MAKE-OUT PARTY AS TEEN -- There were some kids getting together, also out in the country, as it turned out. I had some trouble getting my ride out there because Dad worked late. I was a little embarrassed to go anyway because my clothes were always hand-me-downs and I was the oldest kid. Meaning these were from my uncle one generation back. I looked pathetic in bib overalls. By the time I got there they had the candles going and everyone was paired off, kissing and feeling each other up on the couches. One guy came out and rubbed it in, "There's a knothole on the tree outside." I thought, "What's he think I am, a woodpecker?" Coincidental with this, I never married.

POLITICAL PARTY AS YOUNG ADULT -- They lowered the voting age to 18, but I was still looking for a girl as good as that tree, so I didn't get politically involved right away. Once I did, the other young adults my age had already been voting for four years. Making them experienced in the ways of government. Still, I wanted to fit in, so I started espousing a socialist agenda, which turned out to be passe by then. "We're not 18 anymore! The proletariat can kiss our ass!" one young Republican said. I looked out the window and saw some angry young men walking en masse down the street. I went out and joined the environmental movement, becoming a tree-hugger.

COCKTAIL PARTY AS OLDER ADULT -- I was working at a crummy job. I know, a job is a job, but that doesn't mean the other older adults respect you. A lot of the guys in my town were industrial magnates, with wives with gowns cut low like Jayne Mansfield. They had long cigarette holders and seldom smiled, a totally dismissive look. So I didn't get into the whole cocktail party scene early on. It pays to be early, to set the standard. If you're late, you have to measure up. A guy I knew in high school, who later became my boss, and since he always punched my arm in high school he was still a mean SOB, insisted I come with him to the cocktail party. "You can scrub these toilets later!" So we went, him and his empty cocktail glass, me and my brush and bucket.

NURSING HOME HALLOWEEN PARTY -- One great thing about being in a nursing home is they don't expect much out of you. If you reach up and knock over a pitcher of orange juice, they don't scold you. You just sit in your chair and stare and it's all the same to them. Another great thing is they have party after party, for every holiday. They decorate the bulletin board with holiday art so you're always well-oriented as to what time of the year it is. It turned out this one time it was fall. They came in with a big sheet and told me we were going to the Halloween party. They obviously wanted me to be a ghost. The problem was, all the other old folks were residents before me, so my room was at the very end of the hall, meaning I was the last one wheeled into the party. A couple guys looked at me, then slumped their heads. It didn't even register that I was late.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

My Game Toe

I was out last night enjoying a couple drinks with the Pink Professor, who had one of his professor friends with him. We had a great time, like you always do when there's someone new along. Because every old threadbare thing about your life is suddenly brand new, new to him. Meaning, I don't run out of things to say. For at least an hour, I'm totally on.

I asked him about himself, learning all kinds of things that to him are probably old hat, where he's from, his age, his mother's name, what he likes to read, what his thesis was about, etc. I learned this style of questioning from C-SPAN. I asked if he always wanted to be a professor, since I'm a little bit jealous. It's a job I think would be cool to have, although when I was thinking of it today, I was thinking that every two-bit crappy college in the world has professors, who probably aren't that excited about it.

Anyway, it came up, as I feared it would, what I do for a living. I started clearing my throat, the Pink Professor quickly raised his hand to order more drinks, trying to give me cover. I held up my hand, motioning for water, because I was choking. After it was all over, I was beet red, a glass of water had tipped over and was dripping everywhere, and we had two fresh beers even though the others weren't yet touched.

He'd hit a nerve, obviously. I've said it a few times on the blog that I'm on full disability because of a game toe, but this was a real life visit, with someone right there, and, frankly, I wasn't limping when we all went in. Because, if the truth be known, the toe does have a problem, but normally I've got it popped in its socket and it's fine. I'll admit it, I'm a little leery when people start poking their nose in my business, what I do for a living and all that, because there are extenuating circumstances. I'm a little reluctant even to discuss it here, but I've been told that government workers aren't allowed to read blogs, so it's probably OK.

It's true, I am on full disability and I do pretty well. But there's a special classification the government has for guys like me, whose disability is obvious but yet somewhat suspicious. Only suspicious because it's such a small part of the body, a banged up big toe. Assuming it actually hurt, and it's only mildly uncomfortable, especially when I think about it, as I seldom do, there wouldn't really be anything to stop me from having a normal sit-down job, if the government really pressed it. I mean, I'm sitting anyway, I may as well be working...

The thing is, when the original agent came around, it had to look like I was about to die. Every little thing appeared to send waves of piercing pain through my leg and up my spine. Before he got there, I had arranged a couple of smoke pellets in the ear, which go off if you strain really hard. It had to look terrible. That, and I had a charm offensive going, asking about the agent's family, hopes and dreams growing up, and his mother's name, which coincidentally turned out to be the same as my dear mom's. At least that's the impression he took away.

He signed the papers, and you know how disability works, after a couple years the checks started coming in. But it turned out there was this damned proviso, that they needed to come around and check on my condition annually, yes, the dreaded annual review.

It just so happened that the annual review is always the first part of July, so I've just now got it over with again. I made the footprints above to illustrate the nature of the injury. My foot everyday looks like anyone else's, only with the low-level discomfort I mentioned above. But it's real easy to pop it out of place, and that's the other print. It looks like the rest of my foot told the big toe to "Go west!" Or something out of a continental drift article. It's not a foot, it's a Swiss army knife!

A different guy came for the review this year, whose mother also shares the same name with mine, I was thrashing about, clawing the walls, and by the time he left, the curtains looked like cats had been climbing them. Even though cats don't foam at the mouth. It's a good thing I passed the review, so I can buy new ones, and get the carpet cleaned.

Don't worry about me, OK? I'm sitting here, comfortable now. As long as I just relax, and occasionally limp, I'll be just fine.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Death Is Always The Answer

I know it sounds terrible to say it, but my answer to most fictional dilemmas is death.

I need to qualify this statement in a couple ways. One, to emphasize fictional. My answer to most non-fictional dilemmas is not death, but working through things in a reasonable way. Two, I'm specifically dealing with fictional dilemmas that are already touching on a theme of deadly force, such as a shoot-out or a mortal threat to the good guy.

In real life, death is a nasty business, thinking of murder in particular, or even killing in self defense, although this is obviously more justifiable. If you've done wrong, you've got an army of investigators who are likely to catch you. Then you end up in prison for four consecutive life sentences, and that's surely never easy to deal with. Plus, there was probably an alternative way to deal with your problems, such as putting distance between yourself and the enemy of the moment. You might report them or get a restraining order, or move away. Every little thing doesn't demand death.

But in movies or TV shows and books, I really can't think of a tidier way of getting things squared away. Good versus evil, good kills evil.

This conviction came to me years ago when Batman was on TV. You might remember, they had two episodes every week. The first night, Batman was always in mortal danger in a cliffhanger. The next night, he escaped through some tricky maneuvers, usually involving something he had packed in his utility belt. When the villains had him tied up, or dangling over boiling poison, whatever it was, they invariably left the scene, assuming Batman would be killed. I was saying then, and I'll say it now, if you want to kill Batman, you need to stay and make sure you do.

Then, reversing the roles, with Batman capturing the bad guys, I always said the same thing. If the Joker tried to kill you, you kill him. Meaning he doesn't come back three weeks from now, because he is absolutely and completely, certifiably and reliably, dead. The Penguin ... if I'm Batman, Penguin gets one crack at it, then he's offed. Not a warning, not winged, but completely snuffed out. We'd spend the entire second episode toying with him, maybe, and he'd be thinking Batman is going to leave so he can escape, but it just wouldn't happen. Penguin would literally die.

There's a problem I've seen in some movies, even if no titles come to me now, where the bad guy is shot. But the shooter leaves the scene and the enemy eventually wakes up and is able to crawl away. No, no, no. You empty the clip, you run to Walmart and buy more ammo if you need it, and you finish him off. It might not make for a very suspenseful movie, but that's not my problem. Evil must die!

How about this scene that we've seen repeated a million times? You're the good guy, and you've got your gun on the bad guy, and the bad guy's talking, getting near you, then knocks the gun out of your hand? That should never happen. If you're the good guy and you've got the bad guy where you want him, bang bang bang bang, he's dead. No farting around about it. I roll my eyes when I see one of these situations, thinking, How dumb can you be? Just kill the guy!

I just watched a movie starring Edward G. Robinson, "The Woman in the Window." I'm going to leave out the ending because it kind of negates what came before. But let's take everything that came before as absolute fact. In self defense, he kills the guy who comes barging in the door attacking him. Then he goes to call the police, but thinks better of it. He's in another woman's apartment, his wife is out of town, etc., so it could be embarrassing. I would've never done that. Once I've killed the guy in self defense, we immediately call the police and deal with the wife as well as I can.

It goes on from there. He's disposed of the body and thinks no one else knows. But there is a blackmailer who has it all figured out. Edward G. Robinson says there's three ways to deal with the blackmailer: 1) Pay him and know he'll always be back. 2) Report the whole thing to the police, negating the guy. Or, 3) Kill him. In the movie you think, he's already in serious trouble, down for one apparent murder, he may as well kill him. And it almost happens, with meds mixed in a drink, a good plan if the guy had been thirsty. Otherwise, the first guy died easily enough with a few scissors stabs, and you've still got the scissors... I personally would've gone for No. 2, confessing the whole thing (but that's what I would've done originally.)

Just killing to be killing is of course nothing I like in movies. People who do that I call the bad guy. I'm always for the good guy, or the lesser of two evils. I like to see good prevail. I like that in real life, too. The answer in real life is to work through your problems. Killing someone is usually going to make your life worse. For that and other reasons, I say, Don't do it! Death is not always the answer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Super Pig


Super Pig is now one of the forgotten superheroes of the 1950s. There for a while, thanks to the Foxbilt Feeds company, we were expecting pigs to take over the world, or, in keeping with another '50s theme, to save us from ourselves. But the fact is, it never really happened.

I'm thinking that it was with bitter disappointment that the Foxbilt company finally gave up the dream when their assets were absorbed by other feed companies who didn't share the same lofty goals. By now, of course, the whole thing seems so far off, almost like it never happened. But for those of us who remember, and those of us who still have a bag or two of Foxbilt "Super Pig" Starter in the barn, the dream is still alive.

If you've forgotten how it went, let's relive the glorious promises Foxbilt put out there for us of an actual Super Pig flying through the sky and fighting crime.
You can wean 40-50 lb. pigs by feeding Foxbilt "Super Pig" Starter from farrowing to weaning. Nothing else is needed except plenty of fresh water.

Actual farm tests have shown these heavy weaning weights under a number of different management practices. The secret is in the bag of "Super Pig" Starter ... the pig-making nutrients are all included in the exact proportion your pigs need.

Get your Foxbilt "Super Pig" Starter from us today.
Hmm, that doesn't seem to hold out the promise of actual Super Pigs the way I thought I remembered. They'll just end up at 40-50 pounds "from farrowing to weaning", which, of course gets us into the whole issue of when the pig is weaned. These days, weaning might be done in 20 days or less and so you're going to end up with pigs a lot smaller. But in the '50s, if memory serves, and I can remember a lot of lively discussions at our place on the practices of livestock maintenance at the time, they weren't weaned until 50-55 days. I'm just doing some mental calculations, fairly arcane stuff to the layman, and it's my conclusion that Foxbilt was promising approximately 5-6 more pounds.

Be that as it may, the text of the ad, reading it at this present remove, was not promising a super hero called Super Pig. And I had a whole back story in mind for him, nothing overly creative, but still... My thought was, Super Pig was a favored pet pig of little Kal-el (Superman) on the planet Krypton, the runt of the litter. (Before Krypton's destruction, Jor-el planned to test his model rockets with pigs instead of people.) At the last possible second, sentimental Lara, Superman's mother, put it in the rocket with Kal-el. When the rocket landed on earth, the Kents found the baby and his pig, and raised them as their own. Every time they went to butcher the pig, of course its being invulnerable there was no way to do it. Later, Superman ventured out to fight crime, often aided by Super Pig...

I want to check the text of another Foxbilt ad. There has to be something more to it.
Packed with
Foxbilt "SUPER PIG" Starter has plenty of taste appeal to get baby pigs started on their first solid food. "SUPER PIG" Starter is heavily fortified with antibiotics to get pigs off to a quick start. It has plenty of rolled oats to keep them coming back for more. High quality proteins like unextracted liver meal, blood meal, etc., give "SUPER PIG" stepped up pig power.

Your pay-off will be big, husky, thrifty pigs that tip the scales at up to 50 and even 60 pounds at weaning time (8 weeks). And it usually takes only one 50-lb. bag of "SUPER PIG" to get each pig up to about 50 lbs. That's economy!
I'm still not seeing what I thought I remembered as the promise of an actual Super Pig. But this one's a little more hopeful, since they can get up to 60 pounds. And we see that it's heavily fortified with enough things that could yield superpowers if, say, the pig's metabolism happened to be a little funky. Unextracted liver meal, blood meal, and the unspecified "etc," that frankly could be anything, pitbull brains, the spleen of Bigfoot, eye of newt, kryptonite, etc. It's conceivable that given enough unspecified ingredients we could actually have a Super Pig...

The dream isn't dead!

The illustration and quoted text are from Foxbilt Feeds ads from 1955.