291. Work is the Thing

A couple of friends ( are they really?) have asked me how I can come up with so many different topics as I approach 300 posts .  Well, catching ideas and playing with them is something I enjoy doing. Others in the asylum like to pull the wings off of flies and train them to do circus tricks, but not I. I glue the cast off wings onto ants and liberate them from gravity’s curse. Random association is not difficult for me. It might be painful for those around me, but I rather enjoy the thin attachment between ideas that often results from freewheelin’ associative thinking like a Rorschach ink blot interpretation.

It’s a cow, right?No, it’s a young Bob Dylan hiding from attacking crows behind a fake beard and spectacular sunglasses. Hey, Bob. You are not fooling anyone, dude.

I think the same thing is at the heart of some humor, and, of course, the painful pun.  If you abandon worrying about what others think of  you, you are free to riff on. Sort of like dancing or singing without constraints. If you stay in your head over analyzing every step and syllable you put forth, you are fatally screwed, my friend. Letting go… can be tantamount to breaking on through to the other side, as Jim Morrison sang.  Elsa sang “Let it go” ad nauseam in the Frozen movie.. My youngest daughter has done some Elsa impersonations locally for little kids. It’s a hoot, but at the heart of it is a willingness to pretend on both sides. It’s a real buzz kill if you get the brat kid who yells, “Hey, you’re not Elsa!”

“Hey, kid. Everyone knows that, but we were all happily and harmlessly pretending she was Elsa, or maybe a close relative. Schmelsa from Bushwick.”

Literalist concrete thinkers are pretty boring folks, I think. They lack imagination. I suppose they make good farmers who spread manure methodically or cut corn religiously, but they are sadly lacking in the fun part of life. I’ve had a few run ins with manure spreaders in Franklin County, and I have to say it’s a good thing I don’t drive one. I’d be tempted to spray folks in open convertibles just for giggles. But a good farmer wouldn’t want to waste his precious manure on pranks when it could fertilize some soy beans up along the fence line. See, work’s the thing not foolishness.

In fact, I learned long ago that many farmers are taught a little song when they are in the cradle. It goes like this,

“We’ll have fun when the work is done, but the work is never done.

So put your back into it, son, cause we’ll have fun when the work is done,

And if that day never comes, don’t worry, we’ll have fun, son, if the work is ever done, now hurry

Oh, when we stand on that cemetery hill and our work is finally done

We’ll have fun, so much fun, watching that humorless sinking sun.”

It’s a real hit at birthday parties. It starches up the young’uns for a life of … starch… and concrete. And fence posts. Arthritis too.

So when young Billy is 12 and wants to play football or wrestle after school, Pa says, “Well, sure, son. You can do all that once the work is done.” But poor innocent Billy rediscovers that no matter how fast he works, the work is never done. The blisters on his hand heal over into callouses while his heart draws tight like old leather shoes on a miser’s feet.

In high school Billy has a car and a savings account at the Valley Bank because he has learned from Pa “Work’s the thing”. He doesn’t have time for silly sports or concerts, movies or dances. Heck, they don’t put money in your pocket. “Work’s the thing that sets you free.” He remembers reading this in History class somewhere. It don’t matter, really. S’pose it’s true, if you like book learnin’.

Something irritates him like poison ivy, though. ‘It’s those freeloading fun lovers. They don’t do a dang thing but laugh and carry on. Why, if they didn’t play all the time and worked some, I wouldn’t have to work so hard,’ he thinks. ‘Sure, those girls are mighty pretty, but Work IS THE THING!!! Girls like that just want your car and money. They know nothing about hard work.’

Billy graduates and works and works and works, setting his roots deep in the soil. So much so that he rarely leaves the county. And why would anyone need to leave this place? There is so much to do– plant, milk, trim, fence, milk, spread manure, milk, harvest, combine, complain about the weather. There is no end to it. But you know what?  We’re gonna have some fun when the work is done.

Caleb Johnson took a cruise after he sold his farm to his second son last year. His skin cancer just about got him licked though. Why would a body want to go to the Bahamas, anyway?  All they do is drink rum and dance. That ain’t work. No wonder they’re stuck in the poorhouse. Me? I’d like to go to China or North Korea. Them boys know how to work, so they do. Pa always said, before he lost his last marble, “Works the thing, Son. Never forget. You can have your fun when the work  is done.”

There was never a more practical man than my Pa. Why he insisted that I bury him with the front loader to save on the funeral costs. So I did. He’s in that berm up behind the milking parlor now. I guess he’s having his fun now. Ma carried on something fierce at the services. I’m not sure if she missing Pa or the fun they never got to.

Anyway, I’m pretty set to follow Pa’s footsteps. It’s a free country but not a freeloading country. So turn off the music and get a job. Work is the Thing.

 

 

290. The Messiness of History

Image result for st patrick's cathedral ny picturesReligion      and     Politics need to be very far removed from each other.  We need both to balance each other, but that never seems to happen. When one gets the upper hand, look out people!  Bad juju follows every time. Even in little Dorothy’s world of Depression Era Kansas, there had to be violence and death to reset the scales of justice.

Here is the five second outline of religion.

Impotent and scared, self -centered humans needed an explanation for the forces of nature.

They created unseen gods to explain what couldn’t other wise be explained.

(Motley Crue, 1982)

Eventually a priest came forward to run the show at a price that escalated over time.

“Trust me, people, I got this. The answer to our problems are the people next door. Seize their land, grain, cattle and women.”

Image result for images of moses in the desert(Charlton Heston before he joined the NRA.)

At first it was really cool to have priests running the show. It was new and sexy and liberating to rampage with the moral upper hand.

A new coercive order came out of the earlier chaos.

But the priest’s family inherited the job’s benefits and a priestly aristocratic class developed.

The priests concocted really cool ceremonies and rituals with costumes and props that amazed and scared and entertained the common folk, the 99.9% who labored on behalf of the cool priesthood, their shrines and temples.

Image result for aztec ceremonial pictures'(Where the Wild things Are.)

The 99.9%, ironically, felt more secure while being controlled because they knew the gods were on their side. Yippee! Because the priests told them so and executed anyone who disagreed.

Unfortunately, being essentially selfish human beings, priests built up riches at the expense of the rest of their people by taxing them somehow or enslaving them. Nice work if you can get it.

However, by that time they had become the lawmakers for all because they stood between the gods and the rest of mankind. Whoopy ding ding. They called the shots  and reminded everyone that they called the shots.

(Hammurabi talks with a chumpy subject. “Get my dry cleaning.”)

The priests interpreted what the gods did or didn’t do in such a way that it kept the priests in power. “Oh that?  That’s a holy enigma chupa cabra enchilada.”

“Holy Moly! Posiedon is really ticked off! We need sacrifices right now… but not from my family. Slaughter a 99.9% er.”

They usually had to kill somebody for some orthodox reason, but really they were just keeping their own power.

Image result for aztec ceremonial pictures' (Aztec holy heart extrication. Hmmm, looks like a 40 regular.)

Pretty soon the priests needed body guards since violence became necessary with the control of others.

( Singh warrior with sword. A really big sword.)

 

Inevitably the whole thing collapsed because of drought or natural disaster or the invasion by another bunch of lunatics with a different cast of gods. Or even better, when one of the priests accused the others of lying to the 99.9%.

So a new god would be born from the disaster, who must be appeased by the next selfish group of priests who arose from the ashes like an old burnt chicken.

Repeat. “It’s all good. Trust me. I got this.”

Politics is very similar to religion.

Secular government, religion in a different uniform, comes in between the people and some material enemy.

Image result for george washington victory pictures(Washington crosses the Delaware before the Coast Guard issued him a citation for overcrowding and standing up in a moving non-motorized craft.)

At first the secular governors are good revolutionaries and well armed… and then they get greedy and better armed.

Secular government attaches to myths of strength and greatness of the subject people.

 (George Washington shirtless, godlike. Putinesque.)

Secular government develops symbols and raises an army to defend itself. Funny how only a few years ago it had to raise a rag tag army to fight the evil empire of tyranny and injustice which inevitably it has become.

Image result for u.s. revolutionary army pictures

Secular government develops a nifty tax code to pay their own salary.  The new priests tax the 99.9% sufficiently to finance the expansion of the new empire. It sounds different, but it’s not. Some unfortunate soul is gonna have his heart ripped out to preserve the state.

Secular government’s primary job is to make it absolutely necessary that everyone submit to secular government, i.e., maintain its preeminence in perpetuity.

(A retired secretary of state looks at his legacy sinking.)

Secular government does not like or allow competition as it develops an aristocratic ruling class that mutates into lobbyists, which are congressmen without constraints.

(Napoleon stuffing money in his jacket.)

Secular government will eventually butt heads with religion, trying to suck out the vital marrow of religious truths and values while breaking the bones of any real religious power that might challenge the secular center’s grip on temporal power.

Secular government eventually overrules all competition until the government becomes bloated and unsustainable, and yet demands to be worshiped and respected.

Secular government eventually collapses under its own weight… a fatted pig that cannot walk, and so dies from morbid obesity a few feet away from the public tax trough.

Image result for extremely fat pig pictures (A former congressman turned lobbyist in Arlington, Va.)

Mixing religion with politics is toxic and brings out the worst in both. When the religious right got in bed with right leaning politicians, things got very hostile and stupid. Somehow God was sort of on the ballot. I’m sure there is a matching leftist rendezvous somewhere also, where secular leftists plot the neutering of religious institutions, opening a perfect secular world for loony leftists. I suppose the secular media and progressive politicians go to the same parties in Washington and make fun of religious folks, who are at barbeques with preachers and politicians doing the same thing only using different buzz words. That’s an opposite and equal mistake. Again, we need both but not together and not with one subordinate to the other. There needs to be a strong tension between religious folks and secular government, power balancing power, with guaranteed destruction of civilization hanging in the balance.

 Oh, my. Lions and tigers and bears are everywhere on the Road to OZ, which never did exist. But it’s good to know in our binary world that God is on our side and, therefore, not on anyone else’s.

 

 

 

 

 

289. Something/ Nothing?

                               

I liked Todd Rundgren’s music in the 1970’s. His double album Something/Anything (1972) was pleasant enough as I recall. Not groundbreaking or toothchipping… just enough of something salty and sweet together, like tortilla chips and chewy caramels for my ears to chomp.  He played all the instruments and sang all the tracks, which is pretty impressive, I think. I recall a review in the Washington Post that called him the clown prince of rock n roll. I guess that was accurate. He made some money along the way and did a good bit of successful producing. So I suppose he knew a thing or two. I mention him as a surveyor’s reference point in time and culture that I am racing away from.

I saw him at the Kennedy Center in 1973, I think, with his Nirvana band. (No, not that Nirvana band! Duh!! They were still in elementary school then.) I wore gold glitter across my metrosexual collarbone and sprinkled more on the tops of my literally blue suede Converse sneakers. And, yes, filthy ones, I wore other clothes. [Strike that last image from the record, your Honor.] It was a fashion statement I will never need to restate, unless it would get me out of prison early. Get this: during the show some joint burning pothead (not the Burrito Manchild ) was being escorted from his seat by security when Rundgren stopped the show and told the wannabe cops to leave the guy alone. Strangely enough, they complied. Who knew that celebrities on stage commanded civic authority? Keep in mind that Richard Nixon was in the White House, and at the Opera House next to our auditorium, Washington’s finest sashayed in the great hall under JFK’s bronze bust while the other glitterati pranced about during a shared intermission. Someone should have lost his scheduling job for that faux pas. When hauled before the review board the next day, in response to the question, “What were you smoking?”, Ted the scheduling director pleaded simply, “something, anything”. “Shoot him!”

Bust of JFK in the lobby of the Kennedy Center

Fasten your seat belts as I whip the narrative violently away from this scene. The other day I believe a musical person by profession at my Sunday School table told her husband that he should never agree with me or say “Right” if I just said “Right” or “Never” if I just said “Never”.  Okay, hurt me. I believe it was a case of Something/Nothing. Robert was confused.

“Can I say ‘Right’ when you say ‘Right’, Dear?”

“Yes, but not when he says it. Okay?”

“Okay.”

I whispered, “Right on, Robert. Right now. You’re righteous. Right?”

He looked at me like I had an ice cream cone on a hot summer day… and he didn’t. “Oh no you don’t, Buddy. Not a single lick.”

“Ri…. ri…ri…”

“Robert!”

Crackamundo, he heeled.

I get a good bit of this reaction from others. I must provoke a certain socially acceptable disdain in folks who feel familiar and comfortable enough to mildly insult me. They tell me I bring it on myself and I can’t disagree. I think it is a pheromone that I emit.

The other night after our ballroom dance class a bunch of us went to a local restaurant and had a drink and an appetizer. I sat across from my lovely bride who sat next to Don the dancing dentist. Within a short period of time Don felt familiar and comfortable enough to drill and fill me. He asked my wife where our daughter got her musical ability. My wife said something like ‘Well, I took piano and guitar lessons, but my husband did not. His family didn’t do much with him.’ To which Don replied something like ‘So you contributed something and your husband contributed nothing’ or something like that.  To which I complained, “Don, don’t you even use novacaine before you stick a knife in a man’s gums?”

We chuckled nervously. I wanted him to think that I am a dangerous ex-con with a hair trigger temper and pistol under the tabletop. At least I wanted to think that he thinks I’m  more dangerous than an ex-hairdresser with a sparky blow dryer in hand. I am no marshmallow, Dude! The bullseye on my back is an unfortunate birthmark not an invitation. But alas! It’s a target for the disenfranchised to franchise like a McDonald’s. (If  you have any ideas what that last sentence means, would you please personal message me? I’d really like to know.)

So, the theme, the overarching theme that I must support with related drivel… hmmm. I seem to have lost it along the way. This is of no concern to me since I don’t usually follow the rules of proper writing. I just accelerate to maintain control. I first over heard this statement in a small English pub outside of Bury St. Edmunds, East Anglia in 1973 or so. Some American military guys were talking quite loudly as they sucked down pints of ale. One guy was reviewing driving training he’d received State side. He was yakking about driving through a culvert when he blurted, “I accelerated to maintain control”, as if that were the punch line to an extended joke. I was seventeen and alone. I wound up chatting with one of the military dudes. He was righteous and much smarter than I was. He told me of the vast peacekeeping mission of the military, how they were agents of peace. I did not believe him, still don’t. However, I had a copy of a science fiction book that a former classmate claimed to have written. Wilbur even autographed it for my girlfriend’s gift.  This military guy clarified that the Great and Powerful Wilbur was lying, which was true, of course, but it wasn’t nearly as cool a story as having gone to school with a famous science fiction author. Just another something/anything that turned into nothing. Why do folks insist on the truth when a faint gauzy blur will do just as well? We know Bigfoot doesn’t exist, but why crush us?

“Hello, it’s me
I’ve thought about us for a long, long time
Maybe I think too much but something’s wrong
There’s something here that doesn’t last too long
Maybe I shouldn’t think of you as mine”
Something cannot come from nothing. Right?
“I’ll have an Anything with a twist of lime.”
Oh where is Todd Rundgren when you need him?

288. Conspiracy Theories

 

CONSPIRACY noun (pl) -cies

1. a secret plan or agreement to carry out an illegal or harmful act, esp with political motivation; plot
2. the act of making such plans in secret
3. piracy, especially with cons in front of it.
 
Like a good myth, a conspiracy theory can’t be proven or disproven. It just has to be tolerated until it loses steam. The Kennedy assassination; the ‘Paul is dead’ myth; the Jade Helm theory; ten Jubilees; Elvis is alive in a Walmart in Arkansas; etc. etc. etc. There appears to be no end to End Times Doomsday prophecies to scare the kids with.  Some folks just seem to relish saying, “We’re all gonna DIE!!!” While it’s true that we all die, it doesn’t have to be news delivered like an ‘I told you so’. Death is a fact not a news headline.
 =========================================================
…and now it’s the Channel 9 In Touch Report with Jim:
“I was so shocked that my 96 year old neighbor died in his sleep of natural causes.”
Reporter Jim, “Why is that, Mrs. Underthinker?”
“It just seems so unfair. That sort of thing doesn’t happen in this neighborhood. I don’t know what to tell the kids now.”
Reporter Jim, “Uh, okay. Back to you in the studio, Shelly. I’m Jim McIntyre reporting from the intersection of Ignorance and Bliss in Naïve County.”
Shelly, “Jim, what can you tell us about the recent Elvis sightings at the Walmart?”
Reporter Jim: ” Oh, Growaset, Shelly!!”
 =========================================================
Not just stupid folks believe this crap. Lazy thinkers or non-thinkers buy it by the metric ton also. For one reason or another the believers need the easy lie when the truth is hard and complicated. Here are two math problems. Which would you rather attack?
or this one  2 + 2 = ? (Hint:  it’s an even whole number bigger than three but smaller than five.)
Sure, why get a headache when someone else can find and pre-chew your facts for you like a mother robin? And then every night at 6 p.m. you can open your hungry mouth and your favorite newscaster can spit out the day’s catch into your gullet as a worm-flavored smoothie. Simple. Let’s not talk about proof or truth; the key question is this: is the smoothie palatable or does it need more honey?
Every year or two features an end of the world story. Let’s see, the Mayan calendar ended in 2012, therefore, (as if what follows is inescapably logical) the world must end in accordance with the Mayan calendar. [If they were so smart, why are they extinct?] How about the other incomplete calendars that have been discovered over the millennia?  For instance, the Falkland Islands repeating calendar that goes on as far as the number pi?  Or the Easter Island calendar of a race of super people who were raptured by space aliens around 1,000 A.D.? So, you never heard of these, did you?  Why? Because I just made them up. It’s easy to do and hard to disprove.  The Easter Island calendar, by the way,was carved on the back of one of those giant human figures and then pushed over to hide it for a thousand years. “Smiling Sammy”, as the English explorer Captain Cook later called the 18 ton male human figure, remained face up as if worshiping the sun when he was actually protecting the eternal calendar code on his back. How about that?
In a real Hollywood movie that never made it to the theatres or even to Blue Ray release, Nicholas Cage’s character, G. Oliver South, finds Smilin’ Sammy and brings him to his original erect state with the help of a Grove crane and a secret herbal recipe. Meanwhile, both KGB and CIA and INTERPOL and MOSSAD agents (which adds up to more than both) comb the island searching for Nick/G. Ollie South, because each of them has one fifth of the code needed to decode the calendar chiseled into Sammy’s backside and thus control the world as we know it (in movie trailer gravelo voce). As luck and bad script writing would have it, Nick/G. Ollie South, a mere archeologist from Kansas, finds and kills all these better trained agents of evil and destruction with a can opener; unites the five fragments, and re-energizes Smilin’ Sammy, who then break dances on the beach of Easter Island, turning the Pacific into a frothy flood of tidal beer waves that threaten humanity. Nick runs into the suds and exclaims, “Tastes like Heineken.”
 Image result for nicolas cage drinking a beer picture
As he walks out of the foam capped beer waves in what’s left of his archeological shorts, Nick/ Professor South wears a quizzical expression on his unshaven face, and then screws his eyebrows and nose into a question mark. The fate of the world depends on him solving this suddenly sudsy mystery.  The audience senses time racing by since there are only about twenty minutes left on the running time, according to the Chinese DVD knockoff label. Nick sucks up some more beer spray urgently. He slaps his corkscrewed face into flaccidity. “Think, thank, thunk. I can’t get drunk” he recites to no one there, not even a chair.  Inspiration and courage show up simultaneously like twin sparrow hawks.

With the five part calendar code in one hand he climbs up Smilin’ Sammy’s left leg. He shimmies past the stone man’s absent arms and arrives at the pumicey neck. Uttering an ancient Micronesian curse, he puts Sammy into a professional wrestler sleeper hold, dropping Sammy onto his back, face up again, resting in the same original culvert of cupidity. A new smile on his volcanic rock face. Unexpectedly the ocean returns to its salty state.
Image result for Easter island statues
This conspiracy theory thing is not hard to do if you are practiced at the art of deception, or see Mick Jagger at the reception, a glass of wine in his hand. Standing in line with Mr. Jimmy, man did he look pretty ill.  Whoops. I was plagiarizing in a most vulgar manner there.  So, who was behind all this monolithic intrigue and manipulation? A secret international consortium of mega-breweries that run the U.N. and the Arab League and NATO. Nick has to find a way off the island so he can expose their skullduggery, but just as the University of Kansas helicopter starts to land, a poison dart hits Nick in his naked neck, killing him before he falls perfectly parallel to Smilin’ Sammy, the code buried beneath him. Silenced by a terminal sleeper hold.
 I get it now:  conspiracy theories are fun.

287. Accolades from Coffee Nation, inquire within

Provisional Coffee Nation marketing quotes…

The Nation: making useless men uselesser since 2009.

The Summit: Where small men talk big and loud in order to compensate for their inadequacies.

The Supreme Bean Nation: Why settle for efficiency when you can upgrade to deficiency?

Coffee Nation: Where a disturbed nerd can be… well, a disturbed nerd.

Work is the curse; we are the cure– Coffee Nation.

Productivity– it’s not for everyone. Join the Nation.

When jobs are outlawed, only outlaws will have jobs. Why wait? Join the Nation of the Bean.

Our purpose is purposelessness. CSN.

Bold like the beans we roast. CSN.

W-O-R-K, the original four letter word. CSN.

================================================

These slogans are intentionally mediocre since we only have room for six guys at the Summit table, the rectangular Round Table of Perfidy. However, since Gene was kidnapped by his prospective bride in January and is presumably being held in suspended animation until the nuptials are benubious, and because Pastor Kyle is moving to Detroit (Detroit!!), there are two semi-permanent seats open at the coveted coffee table of peerlessness. Should you pass the stringent interview process, here is what to expect.

Growaset! this was Steve’s word for the day. He likes to throw his chest out and seek pain like a peacock in mating season. If you shy away from being tazed or hit by lightning (two lifelong desires of his that could also end his life), Steve barks, “Oh Growaset!” No one takes him all that seriously despite his position of sergeant at arms, legs  and elbows of the Nation table.

“Do you need a pair?”

“A pair of Percoset?”

“Isn’t that a grass fertilizer? Controls crabgrass I think.”

“Grabass? Who said that? Don’t touch me.”

“Stop! In the name of Love, before I break a fart.”

“Doug, this is a No Hand Dancing Zone. Stop it now.”

“Rob, what’s new with you?”

“I started riding my bike.”

“The unicycle, tricycle, your Big Wheel…”

“Uh, bicycle, please. Trying to get into shape. You know bikini season is coming up.”

“Please, the image of you in a bikini on a ten speed is truly disturbing. My gag reflex is going off. Ahhgggh ahhhgggh.”

“Medic! Medic. I need a tankini and a martini at table one. Stat!”

“No, you need a mental image eraser like Men in Black, the thingy jigger mind cleaner.”

“Oh yeah. Without it I would have  to gouge out my eyes.”

“Both of them?”

“Yeah, Rob. You can’t unsee that pale white bikini flasher biker dude skin.”

“Switch. Oh, look who’s here.”

“Well, DJ himself. Farfugnoodle to you.”

“Farfugnoodle to you too.” Handshakes all around except for the Supreme Imam who insists on hand sanitizer.

“So how many Republican candidates does it take to change a light bulb?”

“Apparently a dozen. One to hold the bulb and eleven to kill each other off in the primaries. Did you see Carly Fiorina jumped in?”

“Well H. my P!”

“No abbreviations are permitted at the Summit Nation, thou perfidious knight.”

“How about Trump? Did he toss his toupee into the ring yet?”

“Only to say he’s going to interview vice presidential candidates on the Apprentice, Wednesday nights at 8 eastern.”

“Oh my gosh, what about the other fight. Mayweather and Paquiao?”

“I heard it was a sleeper. Glad I didn’t spend $100 to watch it.”

“Scamacious if you ask me.”

“And deflategate may cost Brady a game suspension. Maybe the Steelers will win that opening day game.”

“Isn’t that ironic, the first game for Brady after the Super Bowl and he’s suspended? Talk about integrity.”

“Yeah, next time he should snort coke and leave the footballs alone. Protect the integrity of the game.”

“He needs to grow a set!”

“Steve, enough.”

“Sir Lancelate has been recognized at the rectangular round table.”

“Yes, thank you. As you already know, I am a template of fine haberdashery and…”

“Shut up and get to your point!”

“You ever notice how a lot of inventions are the result of warfare? Airplanes, canned food, radar, nuclear power. Leonardo Da Vinci had these elaborate drawings of submarines and flying machines.”

“Yeah. Did you know that the Leaning Tower of Pisa was originally a cannon barrel?”

“No way!”

“Oh yeah, only the turret had not been invented yet so it could only shell the same neighborhood in Lombardy.”

“That’s ridiculous blasphemy and very funny.” (Kyle)

“I know. Only later was it opened for tourists after a spiral staircase was inserted. You should think about that in Detroit, Kyle. You know, tow an old barge onto your church grounds and charge admission to the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. It’s a sure money maker.”

“That’s a bit tawdry.”

“Oh, now you’re gonna have standards.”

“Okay, change of topic– child actor burnouts for 50, Alex.”

“Macauley Culkin. Hall of Fame. Definitely.”

“The Olsen twins.”

“Doogie Howser.”

“That’s not his real name. It’s Neil Patrick Harris.”

Image result for doogie howser pictures

“He seems to have turned out well. He’s selling Heineken and not riding his ten speed in a Speedo.”

“Unfair!! That category was explored and discarded, Alex. Unless it’s the Daily Double we’re going to have to move on.”

“Good bye Jodi Foster, Opey, Leonardo De Caprio.”

“They aren’t burnouts.”

“Picky, picky.”

“Growaset!!”

“Steve, three Growasets and you are out, okay? It’s a rule on Jeopardy.”

“What are you gonna do if I say it again? Taze me?”

“No, you’d like that. I’ll call Alexandra Steele and tell her you are married.”

“You wouldn’t!!!”

Lance, “Gentlemen, please. A bit of poetry to soothe your torrid bestial minds.

O CAPTAIN! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.”

All, “Well done. Do you do funerals and grocery store openings?”

Steve, “I have one…

Death be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,
For, those, whom thou think’st, thou dost overthrow,
Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleepe, which but thy pictures bee,
Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee doe goe,
Rest of their bones, and soules deliverie.
Thou art slave to Fate, Chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poyson, warre, and sicknesse dwell,
And poppie, or charmes can make us sleepe as well,
And better then thy stroake; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleepe past, wee wake eternally,
And death shall be no more; death, thou shalt die.”

“That was just thoooper with all the thee’s and thou’s.  Thoooper.”

Rob?  “Okay, Roses are red,
Violets are blue.
I’m a schizophrenic,
And so am I.”

“Nice modern twist to that, Rob. Super.”

Doug?

“Ahem, One fine day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight,
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other,

One was blind and the other couldn’t, see
So they chose a dummy for a referee.
A blind man went to see fair play,
A dumb man went to shout “hooray!”

A paralysed donkey passing by,
Kicked the blind man in the eye,
Knocked him through a nine inch wall,
Into a dry ditch and drowned them all,

A deaf policeman heard the noise,
And came to arrest the two dead boys,
If you don’t believe this story’s true,
Ask the blind man he saw it too! Amen.”

“And you, Coffee Sultan. Have you a rhyme for us?”

“Certainly:  Here’s to you and here’s to me.

May we never disagree

If we do,

Here’s to me.”

“Lovely, lovely. We will serve no yogurt before it’s time.”

“Culture… my people, culture.”

“That’s bacteria, man.”

Image result for bacteria pictures No, that’s coffee nation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

286. It all began innocently enough…

How many times have you heard a tale of woe and misery begin with an introduction like that? “It seemed like a good idea at the time…. and then everyone died.” In earlier posts I detailed many impulsive adolescent excursions– climbing on the roof of a furniture store to watch the x rated drive-in movie next door; the mid- night ride of Raul Severe; the mid-night ride to Ocean City; the mid-night ride to pitch a tent in the dark and wake up foodless and foolish; the mid-night ride to hit a deer on the Dulles Access Road. (Note the “mid-night ride” theme being developed here.) Yes, all these adventures and many more began innocently enough. Many times after partying late into the night with friends at my apartment in Richmond, Virginia I got the brilliant mid-night idea to hitchhike to Williamsburg and visit my friends Mark, Bob, Gerard, and Dan and their friends, uninvited and totally unexpected. Hey, no one had a personal phone back then. Sure, it’s all fun and games until someone lost an eye or their lease or their relationship with a neighbor. But it was always fun rolling down the 60 miles of Route 60 that separated our worlds.

Now you may not know that folks truly do lose eyes, especially unsupervised boys. It’s not just a line that your parents yelled at you, “You’re gonna put an eye out!!”  No, in an exhaustive 4 minute search of four internet sites on ocular trauma I found no supporting evidence for my following assertion– Boys are eleven times more likely to damage an eye than are girls of the same age. I refer instead to my own anecdotal records to support my assertion. In my neighborhood two boys lost one eye each due to play activities.  Unbelievably, they lived nearly across the street from each other on The Parkway, a nice name for a through street in a cookie cutter housing tract built in the 1950’s and ’60’s outside of Alexandria, Virginia. Virginia Hills was the name for the cookie dough housing development pressed there by a disembodied Divine thumb. The sameness of the sameness was both comforting and numbing, depending on your level of consciousness or coma. I’ll always recall sticking my thumb up at the foot of The Parkway in 1978 to begin my journey to Los Angeles. The Divine thumb was upon me then. But back to the boys.

First there was Lee. He and a bunch of us were playing with toy cap guns and sticks and plastic weapons. It would have been in the mid 1960’s. We were shooting at one another across the Scholls’ half completed rec room. Then Barry brought a real bow and arrow to the plastic gun fight. Incredibly he launched one steel tipped arrow over the crest of the roof just as Lee looked up. The cold steel Arrow met and destroyed the warm soft Eye.  Lee was lucky to live. Somewhere in my memory I see his dad carrying a limp Lee up the street like Atticus Finch carried Jem in To Kill a Mockingbird. (Which is a confabulation because it was Boo Radley who carried Jem home.)  That one unretrievable moment defined Lee and Barry forever. It was truly tragic.

Like cancer and sex, drug use and domestic violence, pedophilia and adultery, this story took on taboo qualities. Everyone knew the story and the fall out that followed, but no one ever talked about it, as I  recall. Barry lived in the shadows, though, like Boo, unable to unshoot the arrow or turn back time.

Years later the other Eye boy Steve was riding around in a Jeep with his buddies. They were old enough to drive that summer. The good idea at the time was to throw cherry bomb explosives out of the Jeep’s back window where Steve was riding. Problem was that he threw one which bounced off the car door frame and it then exploded right in front of his face, burning his soft warm unprotected eye to a fried egg state. In one stupid second Steve’s life changed forever. His promising baseball career ended that day as his nascent anxiety grew tenfold. I can only imagine what that sort of self inflicted disability does to one’s self esteem.

In both cases you just shake your head and ask “WHY?” Maybe mumble something about “such a waste!” Yet, 40 and 50 years later there is some evidence that these guys persevered and made good lives with only one good eye. I suspect they grew cautious over time and a bit more prudent about their health and their kids’  health. Still not something talked about… “Hey, how’s the EYE?” And why should it define someone’s life. Do you ask your neighbor, “How’s the DUI?”  “Oh, good, good. How’s that assault charge comin’ along, Bob?” There is the old saying that goes, “In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king.” Not that Lee and Steve became kings, but maybe royals. Both graduated college.

Grieving your own mortality at a young age is not entirely a bad thing. I’d bet that neither of these one-eyed royals had a mid life crisis because they had dealt with death and disintegration as kids. Heck, Lee was a very good baseball player despite the missing eye. Think about that for a while, blogtators. It’s hard enough to track a curveball coming at your face with binocular vision. Now cover one eye and try to hit it or avoid it. Pretty amazing if you ask me. More amazing was that Lee had a sneaky good pick off move to first base, faking a look with his left eye and peeking over his right shoulder with his good eye. See, the kids on the other team didn’t know his left eye was glass.

So tragedy depends on when you look at something, I suppose. St. Paul said it this way,

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.  And now stays faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (1 Corinthians 13: 12-13)

When all the kids are called home to heaven by their heavenly Father, I hope we will see clearly and purely. Perhaps what was begun as a good  idea will eventually end innocently enough.