Friday, August 24, 2012

Pepper Comes With Instructions

Pepper comes with instructions. And this is something we can be glad for. It saves us having to rely on endless past experience, which takes a lot of mental power to keep straight. It makes things a lot clearer and thereby much easier when dining, so we're no longer plagued by constant mistakes.

Even now I'm reviewing the instructions, because you never know, the next time I eat could be any minute. I've pretty much worked myself up to three basic meals a day, so the next one is probably sooner than you think. I get this kind of inner signal, a kind of gnawing, that tells me, in words to this effect, that I'm hungry. And when those times come, I don't want to be left high and dry without knowing what to do.

So, let's see: "Use to flavor meat, eggs, potatoes, or vegetables." That seems easy enough to grasp, especially if I read it a few times. Pepper has something to do with flavoring. Meat, eggs, potatoes, or vegetables. I wonder what that or is in there for. You see, right there I've been doing it wrong all these years, since, if memory serves, I believe I've been using it on meat, eggs, potatoes, and vegetables.

I'm hoping I don't make any other mistakes. Meat, eggs, potatoes, or vegetables. And I've glanced ahead and can see that salads and cottage cheese will also be mentioned. I wonder what macaroni and cheese is, because, honestly, I've been putting pepper on it for years. It's not exactly meat, of course. Or potatoes. It's pasta, right? Which I think they use eggs to make. And if cottage cheese takes pepper, probably regular old cheese could too. I'm good at loopholes...

Something to notice here, since we've already looked ahead at the salads and cottage cheese, is that it says to "Sprinkle on" those things. But for meat, eggs, potatoes, or vegetables, it only says to "Use." Now I'm at something of a loss. If sprinkling is the explicit instruction for salads and cottage cheese, and thereby presumably excluded for the other four foods, what's the best way to apply it? Dashing? Dumping? Shaking? I really don't know what to do with this. Because just saying "Use" is not entirely helpful.

Still, all in all, it's better to have the guidance they've given than to complain too vociferously for the things that are either left out or are ambiguous. And I shouldn't say too much, because maybe they have a fuller set of instructions on their website. I haven't looked yet, and I don't know if I will. I'm afraid I might find out I've been doing things seriously wrong all my life. And the way I am, along with my age, old habits are hard to break.

I will start with these instructions and see how it goes, proceeding as carefully as I can. Then when I'm sure I've gotten them down pat, completely mastered, maybe I'll venture to their website and see what else I might be able to add to my dining repertoire. I want to get it right.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

I'm A Gentleman And A Scholar

I was the recipient of a rather great honor the other day. In one of the picture-sharing social-media sites where I have an account, I complimented a guy for one of his pictures, and he messaged me back, "You, sir, are a gentleman and a scholar!" Read that again ... It's awesome!

Of course I was floored. I honestly never heard anything so nice, in addition to it being unexpected. I probably don't need to say it, since it's something you can obviously guess, but I've thought about his statement over and over ever since. Remember, this is a guy who's never actually met me in person, and somehow, some way, he was able to capture something of my essence and compliment me in such a great way.

Really, it affirms some of my own thoughts, even though, as they say, we're always our own worst critics. And it's true. I'm always getting on my own case about something. Maybe I left something undone, or I put off a needed task, or I let my usual perfectionism get in the way, blah blah blah. I'd love to be two separate people in those moments, at least split myself off temporarily, so I could kick my own ass. But then, whatever criticism I might offer myself, when it gets right down to it, I'm also an unabashed fan. I stand back and survey my accomplishments and think, "Good God, man, you've truly got it going on!"

But to have some other person like that, someone I complimented for a photo -- I think it was a colorful sunset, or maybe a rustic oak barrel snapped in black and white; it was something -- to just come right out and lump me together with two classes of extraordinary individuals, gentlemen and scholars, that's really quite an extraordinary honor.

Also, it actually came at a point in my life where I was feeling a little down. I have regrets about childhood. I was such a typical kid, playing outside, having a good time with friends, riding bikes, messing around at the creek, fishing, etc., that I didn't always have time for academics. Rather, I didn't take time. Looking back on it, I really wish I could've been a prodigy, like a kid they promote out of kindergarten straight to college. Brainy like that. That's a scholar!

So what was the problem? I guess the honest-to-God truth is I was very much a typical kid, with the average intelligence of a kid about my age. You could probably say I was even lagging behind where I should've been. In sixth grade I probably had the mentality of a fifth grader. Then in seventh, a sixth grader, etc. So about a year after graduation, I went, "Oh, that's what they meant in 12th grade." If I was a scholar, it was very much hidden, buried, a hidden potential.

As to being a gentleman, that was my upbringing. Saying goodbye to people when I left. Saying please and thank you when there was a pressing need, like when someone needed to get the hell out of my way and finally did. As I recall it, I always got high marks for being a gentlemanly boy, then teen, then young adult, then older adult, and now, as I am, standing at death's door. There's no reason to be a bad ass now!

OK, I thought you'd like to hear about the compliment I got. And if you have any other compliments for me -- like if you think I'm a third thing in addition to being a gentleman and a scholar, you can leave it in my comments. But what could it be? A gentleman, a scholar, a great blog writer, a friend to animals, a compassionate person to the down and out, a live wire, a coffee-lover, or all that and more!

SSuffering SSuccotash, It's SSibelius

Today I'm going to show you my cultural side, that I'm able to swing culturally with the best of them, critics, reviewers, various experts.

The subject today is music, and in particular, classical music, also known as the most mysterious form of music there is. The purveyors of classical music, except for Leonard Bernstein, and, as I've recently discovered, Sibelius, all lived hundreds of years ago. They died and that was it, the classicists were gone.

But somehow Sibelius made it to more recent times, having died when I was four years old.

I bring all this up because I have a CD by the composer called Sibelius. There seems to be some dispute -- I'm going to call it a good-natured debate, i.e., without rancor -- as to what his first name was, Jan, John, or Jean. It seems like a simple glance at his long-form birth certificate might clear it up, but that's a controversy for another day. We will simply state as a matter of fact that it likely starts with J.

I'm looking at my picture of J. Sibelius, and the first thing I notice is that he looks like Jackie Coogan, aka Uncle Fester, which might be why everyone liked him so much, assuming they did.

OK, the CD I've got is a symphony called No. 2, indicating to me that he probably also had at least one other symphony. That's two more than I've ever written, so I won't mock him  for it. No. 2 is called "Finlandia," so I'm guessing he was a big fan of Finland. To me, that's closer to the North Pole than I ever want to be. If he was from Finland, no doubt he wrote music by the light and warmth of a very large candle, although unless you have more than one wick it doesn't matter how big the candle is, you're going to get the same little flame. So much for candles.

My commentary on Sibelius is this, his name sounds like the name of a substitute teacher. "My name is Mr. Sibelius." "Good morning, Mr. Sibelius." Being a nice student, I probably would have offered to stay after class and clean the erasers for him.

Other things we could say about his name, it's kind of like the Sibyl, the fount of all knowledge in the ancient world. "O mighty Sibyl, should we attack the Huns, or just leave them alone?" Or how about this? The S sound -- Sibelius starting and ending with an S -- makes me think of lispers, with many sizzling sibilants spitting forth from his lips, "SSuffering ssuccotash, you sstudents sstay in your sseats!"

Then Mr. SSibelius passes out the ssyllabus and the ssemester is finally underway.

Update: The picture doesn't do Mr. SSibelius any favors, I know. But in high contrast black and white, everyone looks like crap.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Everyone's Comfortable With Themselves

There's something very interesting I've noticed. The old discomfort people used to have with themselves seems to be gone. It's obviously a new day for self-confidence and pride, which I think is a great thing.

We used to have this whole thing with magnifying our supposed imperfections, thinking we were ugly, etc., and we didn't have the same attitude prevalent today. I don't know why we did it. I guess it could've had something to do with our parents, always worrying themselves sick with how we looked. "You can't go out with your hair like that! Is that what you're going to wear?! I'd be ashamed to be seen with you!" So we'd carry that attitude with us, like a constant burden.

But now everything's a lot more swinging. Babies get their ears pierced, parents are proud of everything their offspring do, and style is really any old thing you can throw on. I love it, it's a new day! Our lives are on display! Everyone's happy!

Another thing that might explain the lack of discomfort is all the cameras we're toting around. Digital cameras. We see people taking pictures of everything, whereas we didn't do that 40 years ago. You had a roll of 24 pictures and it cost money to get them developed. But with digital, it's all free, so everyone's walking around town taking pictures of themselves with the camera extended arm's length. "There's a cool expression! Look how I can cross my eyes! I'm cool!" It's great! You're more proud of yourself when you're clicking pictures.

I have to confess, I still carry over some of the old discomfort myself. I say, I'm too bald, too fat (although my doctor says I'm by no means obese), my teeth suck, there's nose hair where there used to be none, etc. It's hard to get with it, with the new way of doing things, but I'm really trying. I look and see guys who look far worse than me, only they don't know it. And I think, I should act like that, then think like that, and without comparing myself to those who look worse, be simply proud of myself.

People today, I honestly think, have got it going on! And I'm getting into the flow of things. I may be an old man, but I'm trying to be the best old man, even a folklore-looking codger, let's say, that young hipsters might like to have their picture taken with. I'm flashing gang signs that I just made up. I'm with the best people on earth, the average guy and gal on the street! Take off your suit jacket and break dance on the street. Spin on your jacket, it's just cloth! True!

So I'm out there ... and more. And what do I see? People who are psychically healthy, very healthy. They're proud of their tattoos, their bra straps, their headbands, shirt tails, and underwear. They're flashing cool hand signs everywhere, one finger, two finger with a gap, five fingers straight up, the A-OK sign, etc. They're proud if they're bald, furry, wearing black, wearing white, in make-up, without make-up, if they're Plain Jane or Jane Mansfield, Bubba or Burt Reynolds, whatever may be may be, world without end, Amen.

I was out today, sitting in a restaurant, and saw some of the greatest cleavage of my life. This was breakfast. I drooled egg yolk on my shirt, which I'm proud of. It's like a shirt tattoo. Lastly, my complexion -- like I said, I'm old, but once in a while I still, even I, get a pimple. Who cares? It's not like anyone cares anymore.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Oldest Powder In The World

I hate brick roads. Just hate them. In fact, you remember all those letters to the editor in the newspaper from the guy who hates brick roads? That's me! So there you have it... I have a track record on the subject... I have credibility.

Why, one might ask oneself, would they ever have made brick roads in the first place? I'm thinking maybe back then they didn't have cement. A guy would need to find out when they first started mixing cement to know for sure. Or it could have been that they had cement but it wasn't very good. A brick, on the other hand, can be tempered and hardened, whereas poor cement will instantly go to chaff.

If that's really the reason, then I guess I'll have to accept it as a pretty good reason. You can't be driving six white horses, as they did back then, down a poor cement road and have them sink to the top of their fetlocks in chaff. But that's been a long time ago, and I know cement's come a long way. I used to have an uncle who poured cement and he often spoke highly of the stuff.

OK, cement's come a long way, we all agree. And yet still we suffer old brick roads from the 19th century. It's a disgrace! Because bricks go haywire. They're small individuals that can go cockeyed any minute. The ground sinks somewhere and they're raised up on edge like icebergs. Which can take out a ship, as we all know!

One of the reasons we still have brick roads, like it or not, has to do with people's sense of nostalgia. Since bricks have been around for a hundred years, Oh good God, we can't get rid of them now! Which doesn't make a bit of sense, because if they're bad, they're bad. And they're not going to get better, only worse. Then when they get worse, we can't get rid of them then, because by now they've been around a hundred and twenty five years. And on and on. They're always going to get worse, and they're always going to get older.

Eventually then -- and the ancient Egyptians knew something about this when they made the pyramids -- they'll be so old, they'll crumble away to powder. But because the powder is so old, and we're so nostalgic, we certainly can't get rid of it. So we eventually end up with the oldest powder roads in the world!

Maybe it'd be good for the bricks to go totally to powder. Because then we could mix it up with new cement, add water, and have the old road incorporated with the new. And everybody would be happy. Whether that happens in my lifetime, though, I'll just have to wait and see. But if I die first, someone else will have to check for me.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Our Policy On Napkins

Before I get to it, the hilarious blog post you came here for, "Our Policy on Napkins," entirely written by me, I want to take a personal moment to address the latest Fareed Zakaria controversy. Actually, the first Fareed Zakaria controversy I know of.

Fareed Zakaria has confessed to plagiarism and so has been suspended from CNN and Time magazine. Yes, a brainiac like him! It's hard to believe. I used to watch his show on Sunday -- I probably saw three episodes total -- and was vastly impressed by his apparent intellect. He has a foreign look and sound that makes him sound much more knowledgeable than the average American. By that, I mean, we associate actual news and in depth commentary with foreigners, since Americans, with our shallow outlook, are so easily distracted by celebrity gossip and anything to do with blondes and boobs.

Now I find out -- quite to my shock -- that Fareed Zakaria hasn't had an original thought or word in his life. I don't know if he's gone this far in his confession, but I suspect he's plagiarized everything he's ever written, and hence has no independent intellect of his own. How, though, he was able to do that, to discern the good stuff and plagiarize it and somehow avoid the bad without any independent intellect is a mystery perhaps best left for another day.

I remember we used to plagiarize stuff all the time, more or less, as kids, copying out of the encyclopedia. Because we didn't know anything. Seriously, I was much dumber back then than now. Now I'm very scrupulous, like on this post on "Napkins," to only use my own imagination and experience. I can truly say I'm not copying it from anyone. Sometimes I use graphics to illustrate my posts that I get from various sources, but I'm not claiming to be an artist, just an independent genius when it comes to words, words, and nothing but words. (In this case, though, with Fareed Zakaria in mind, I took the extra time to take my own picture of napkins, seen above.)

So, that's it, my thoughts on Fareed Zakaria. I'm sure he can get back in everyone's good graces. He can find someone to write him a real good killer apology, and then he'll be back to normal. OK ... on to the festivities at hand, "Our Policy on Napkins."


When I go to a restaurant, I can barely enjoy myself. I'm sitting there worrying about whether the owner and staff and waitresses are making enough money to make it pay. Because I do not want to be interrupted in the middle of a meal with them telling me the place is closing. That'd be terrible. Guys carrying away the tables, taking pictures off the walls, dumping the mints and toothpicks in a box, etc.

Since I'm so worried about it, I try not to take things I haven't explicitly paid for. Like toothpicks. I restrict myself to one, or two at the most. The mints is another actual example. I take one and that's it. I don't want anything free. And I'm also thinking that this is what they're thinking too. We need to keep an eye on this guy, so he doesn't rob us blind. Which I would never do!

In my opinion it might be more helpful for them to just come right out and say it. Although it looks funny to have signs around warning you, "In order to keep our prices low, we must insist that there be no sharing from the buffet." Chinese restaurants are big on this: "Absolutely no carryout box on the buffet, our prices to keep low." The average person might be stunned. You mean I can't load up?

I'm phrasing the policy on napkins just as an example of how it would go. Yes, based on warnings I've seen in the past (cf. Fareed Zakaria):
In order to keep our prices low, we ask that patrons please restrict themselves to one napkin each.
This might be trouble at some restaurants. Like the ones with sloppy hot chicken wings, where you need a roll of paper towels just to keep your face barely clean. But the price of napkins, however low it is, adds up if you multiply it times millions of patrons. So here's a more lenient policy:
If you need a napkin, please help yourself. Take all you need, but please wipe yourself with all you take.
Saying "Help yourself" sounds dangerous, and yet they're usually pretty trusting when it comes to napkins. The only place I've really seen anyone abuse the trust is McDonald's, where the poor basically stock up on napkins for toilet paper at home. Which is why the price of Big Macs keeps going up, to subsidize the poor so they can wipe and have good hygiene.
Our napkins are for our guests' immediate cleansing process in regards to the meals they've purchased on this visit, and are not to be used for wiping places not used in the actual eating process. We recognize that digestion is ultimately part of the eating process, but because there's no immediacy to it in regards to your present visit to our facility, we must ask you to refrain from stocking up on our free napkins for your bathroom at home. That is entirely inappropriate, and disgusting to visualize. Even though everyone does it.

Monday, August 6, 2012

The National Loners With Guns Registry

I've been trying to think of some way to stop all the senseless gun violence we've been suffering, without infringing on anyone's rights. I have to agree with our most rabid gun proponents -- Second Amendment enthusiasts -- that, yes, obviously this is what the Founding Fathers had in mind, every crazy person being able to stockpile his own arsenal with no restrictions whatsoever. When they wrote about "a well regulated militia," what they clearly meant was, "Every man for himself with nothing to do with militias or well-regulations."

That established, agreeing to the obvious sense of their phrasing, society (individuals who don't feel like dying today) has discerned some desire to keep crazy assholes from going off full-cocked, ballistic and dangerous. When a person goes nuts with guns -- whether it's an arsenal of just one gun or a million -- the results can be unpleasant, in fact deadly. But what can we do about it? That's the question. We can't restrict guns in any way, of course. But we can do everything short of that, in the spirit of "An ounce of prevention..."

Let's look at what we have so far, as in time we have looked out over the bleak landscape of apocalyptic America. The people committing the worst violence have been loners. Loners. They're alone, sometimes they're OK, but the rest of the time they're seething about one thing or another. OK, with that we've been able to piece together the first scraps of a pattern, which I believe is full of important insights. We've concluded that since the perpetrators are troubled loners with guns, these are the ones that need to be watched.

Of course we ideally have to start with the loners before they become troubled. If we get a preliminary census of loners that will be an important first step in monitoring them and whether they're troubled. Every 10 years, five years after the general census, we have the loner census. We do it the same way they do the other census. We go door to door and find out how many loners live there? If they say more than one, we figure they're lying and just put one.

Then we discover if they have guns. And we make a registry of them and their arsenals. Then we check on them periodically to make sure they're not troubled. If they are troubled, we check up on them more frequently. If we find they've been buying ammunition, or they're doing drills and maneuvers in their backyard, we check up on them even more. If we see them in weird face paint, hair oddly colored, a dazed look in their eyes, in full combat gear, and with their arsenal in their cars, we put some kind of robotic device on their motor that will automatically drive them off a cliff. Good riddance. Then we cross them off the registry, making room for others.

It all starts with the registry. Because if we don't know who they are and what they're up to early enough to prevent the next massacre, by the time they go berserk and kill half the town, it's virtually too late.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Pit Version Of Everything Else

I'm bustin', I have to get it out of my system. I'm putting out another virulent, heartfelt condemnation of pit bulls everywhere. When God created the pit bull, let's face it, He was in a bad mood. He threw the damned thing out there and said, "Yes, it sucks, but I bet you can't make one better." To which we said, "True, but if you think this is good, you're insane!"

I wrote about pit bulls earlier, getting me an insane amount of publicity from pit bull lovers. Yes, there's such a thing! Just like there's lovers of women sitting on men's faces and lovers of snuff films. There's lovers of every crazy ass thing, including pit bulls.

Anyway, what has got me in this freaky snit about pit bulls all of a sudden? I'd let the fervor die down for quite a while. Well, it seems, I had a terrible experience with a pit bull downtown just today. We were walking up the sidewalk and a couple was walking three dogs, none of them a pit bull. Just then, here comes another couple the other way, with a pit bull. The pit bull took one look at the three dogs and went ballistic, struggling to get to them, making all kinds of fearsome noises, tugging with all its might, etc. And I'm right there! This berserk dog might've gotten me as collateral damage. The owner cussed a bit about it and kept going. The stinking dog was tugging hard, like a marlin on a rod and reel!

We got where we were going, a restaurant, where I was finally able to catch my breath. Naturally, that was the topic of conversation, how anyone could take one of these vicious monsters out in public, especially when we all know people bring their normal dogs downtown all the time. What? Are they willing to let their dog maul other dogs, just for the excitement of it? There's also little kids. Who knows how long it'd take to maul them if it took a mind to? Five seconds?

After a while, having survived, and having not lost my appetite to the sight of three dogs being eaten on the sidewalk, we started laughing about it. That's a great way to deal with trauma: Horray, we survived! But of course the dog is out there somewhere ... so maybe we won't be so lucky next time.

Our conversation veered off to a discussion of, What if everything else had a "pit bull" version, a "pit version"? Like cats. I guess the pit version of the cat has to be the lion or tiger. So cats are covered. But how about birds? There aren't that many vicious, berserk birds. They're extinct if they ever existed. You see a bird and it can't wait to get away from you. They're basically not attacking each other either. The ones at my bird feeder definitely coexist. I was thinking maybe an owl would be a good pit version, since they always seem like they're waiting, waiting, waiting, sitting and waiting. They could swoop in and go nuts.

And it's obvious we have the pit version of human beings. They're the disgusting creatures who show up and shoot 70 people in a theater or temple or military base or political gathering. I saw an article about the guy who shot Gabby Giffords, just a picture of him, and I forgot what tragedy he was part of. Then I was reminded, "Oh yeah, that guy." He looks something like a pit bull. And the suspect in the theater shooting, shave his head and he'd resemble a pretty good pit version of a human being.

How frightening, these pit specimens! Fortunately, we still love dogs, not lumping them together with their weird pit relation. Not too many intrinsically pit versions in other species. Snakes. I don't care for snakes at all, but some are worse than others. Elephants. Once in a while one goes rogue. Etc., etc., etc.

But for all that, the pit bull stands alone. As much as pit bull owners want us to think they're loveable and great, the evidence is as close as the sidewalk today ... what a crap dog.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tribute To The Oversexed

I keep my eyes open. I see what's going on. I may be old and over the hill in some respects, but that doesn't mean I'm blind and without the ability to put two and two together.

In all my seeing -- I see so much! -- I notice a lot of situations that could lead to hanky panky. Extreme hanky panky of the worst sort: Him and her, him and him, her and her, him and them, them and them, and so forth. It's wild what goes on.

Over the last few weeks I've been compiling a list. I've been quietly keeping it, some of it from observation, some of it just out of my head, of the oversexed and what they are up to, of course on the sly.

I'm putting it out as a kind of tribute. For the reason that, how they do it, how they're able to put up with the terrible strain it must make on their psyches and libidos, it's beyond me. I'd personally rather sit in a monastery, alone, solitary, and apart from society, with blinders on just for added safety, than to see so much sex on a daily basis.

Who, then, are these recipients of my tribute?

--Masseuses and masseurs. These are the ones who can't help thinking of sex, as they knead the tired muscles of the exposed bodies of their clientele. And if it's not their desire to think of it, they have to know what their clientele are thinking of, meaning they have to think of it too. What can we say of masseuses and masseurs? Don't go into that business if you plan to retire without an STD.

--Pool attendants and lifeguards. Good grief, the bikinis, and tight little swimsuits. You may as well just emblazon it on your forehead, "I'm a pervert!" There's no other reason anyone would ever be a lifeguard. Because let's face it, we're not expecting people to drown. And rescuing them is very nasty. So it has to be the bikinis and skimpy outfits that draw them, then keep their minds permanently occupied.

--Nurses and doctors. They're in those little rooms with their patients. There's an obvious power differential, leading them to indulge. It's a shameful business, the racket of medicine. They know they've got you trapped and they're going to have their way with you. They even pack their own lube.

--Counselors of the troubled.
We've all heard of transference, the phenomenon of counselees developing a thing for counselors. Leading to dangerous situations where counselors can take advantage of them. I personally am a troubled individual, and could obviously use counseling, but this is why I don't go. I'm too aware of what they have on their mind. They're never going to be able to say they nailed me.

--Grocery store managers. I've been to the grocery store a million times. And I never saw one single grocery store manager in all that time who looked like he had anything on his mind but groceries and the business of the store. From this I have to conclude, who is more devious than a grocery store manager? They've got all that young flesh standing around, stocking shelves, checking groceries, flirting with the customers. You can't tell me the manager hasn't got his own "express lane," if you know what I mean. It explains why there's always so few checkers -- 10 cash registers and no one but a little old lady on duty. They're all in the back buckin' for a promotion.

--Birthday party clowns. My opinion is you'd have to be a fool to hire a birthday party clown. If it's not well known that birthday party clowns are among the sickest, most oversexed human beings in the world, then mountains also aren't high or valleys low. Turn a blind eye to them at your own risk! Their nasty business is able to flourish because, quite frankly, people are fools. And they're taking advantage of the situation, right down to all the bouncing on the lap they love so much.

--Parking lot attendants. There's a reason why the parking lot attendant sits way above you, looking down. It has to do with cleavage. Either wear a turtleneck or park on the street. Drive these perverts out of business.