Do You Feel Lucky?

(and feel free to comment! My older posts are certainly no less relevant to the burning concerns of the day.)

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

COME ON!! How Many Times Is New Order Going to Get Back Together?!!

Just one more, pleeeeeease?

Uninhibited and Then Some Pt.2

Of course, some of my best friends are positively slathered with tats and loaded with poked holes - and let me tell you, they just love it when I zing out a few of the below remarks! It drives them WILD. Sometimes they'll even drag me up in front of the whole crowd down at the bar, saying "come on, Joe! Do that tattoo speech one more time."

Uninhibited and Then Some

I don't knock anybody's tastes or fetishes. As far as I'm concerned, anything consensual is fine by whoever's doing it. But for me, the beauty that calls me in my mind, heart and soul, in my above and below, is the beauty of nature and not the beauty of artifice. Strapping up in corsets and belting ourselves in puritan mores is one kind of inhibition. Strapping up in leather getups with metal studs and tattoos is just another kind. Both seek to constrain nature's glory within a man-made frame. To me, the subjugation of nature - branding and marking the skin, metal posts, studs and chains - is just a form of inhibition. Of domestication. Take what's wild and break it, yoke it, brand it, tame it.

Me? I'm unpierced, un-inked, and unchained. I don't need to make my mark on what I already own, on what I already am. I am my mark - I cut my mark in the world using body and mind as blunt implement and sharp instrument. Tats and piercings are fine for others! If that's what appeals to you from an aesthetic standpoint - elements of design, elements of artistry, elements of adornment, cool to the cool to the cool for you and yours. I certainly have no problem with that, and I join you in admiring the artistry involved at high levels of execution. There's nothing wrong with one's body as one's canvas. I should know - mine is a masterpiece! Albeit, in a naturalist style.

But I have to admit, there's one point at which I have to draw the line: I have a hard time agreeing with anyone who considers tattoos and piercings rebellious. That's just plain silly. Tattoos and piercings are not certainly not rebellious (except, rebellious against your relatives, maybe! But that's not really all that grand a stance...). Now, that's no knock on the thing itself! The fact that it's not rebellious is no knock. But I don't care if you're starting from Amish - at some point, embracing the entrenched fashion trends of the dominant culture ceases to count as meaningful rebellion. That doesn't mean it isn't a perfectly legitimate choice from a style standpoint alone. Of course it is! Perfectly legitimate, perfectly accepted. Style yourself as you will be styled; be self-styled, as indeed should we all be.

Still, for me - a brand, a chain, a mark, a claim...the stuff can be cool and all, and no disputing! I'm just a little too uninhibited for all that, is all.

Reminiscences On My Irresponsible Youth #1: Good Boy!

One time, when I was living with a work supervisor, her two sisters, and her dog Max, I spent a lot of time working with Max while the others weren't around, training him to snatch towels off and run away with them.

The perfect crime! How could anybody get wise to that little man-dog conspiracy? Max was so dumb, and so poorly-behaved, so unobedient and uncoachable in general, that nobody would ever think he could be trained to do anything useful!

That dog! GOOD BOY, MAX!

OK. I lied about the towels. That dog really was totally untrainable for anything.

All he wanted to do was play tug of war with that towel, but he couldn't process the idea of going after a towel that was not actively being offered for a tug of war. An easy leap to make, one would think! But no. A towel being flapped at him from an extended arm was like dognip to Max, but one tightly-wrapped, wound snug and precarious around a freshly-toweled torso? That held about as much interest as a ball that had stopped bouncing from the throw.

That dog! You couldn't play fetch with him if you only had one tennis ball. You had to have two. The only way you were going to get the one in his mouth away from him was to throw him the other.

Good boy, Max.

That's a Bold Statement

You're the best thing in my life. And I'm not one of those losers who says that, and meanwhile the rest of their life is PATHETIC! So that you're all like "uh...thanks, I think?" Naw. The rest of my life rules.

And you're STILL the best thing in it!

Talkin' Sweet #2: Brief and Very Much Belated

Baby, every day you show the world what it's like to have you in it.


Awwwww, yeah. Got that right-side eyelid twitch going. That's rare as hell for me, so I always kind of enjoy it! Ride it out. Man, feel that thing go! It's motoring.

I think that means what, not enough sleep the night before? Not enough phospholipids in the ol' diet? Not enough electrolytes in the fluid intake?


An Ode On An Ode On A Grecian Urn

Beauty is Truth, Truth Breauty.

Quite. The Classical/Romantic conception of art's purpose! To embody truth, art must embody beauty. There's also a snarky implication here, that we consider to be true only that which find appealing - but leave that aside. In every age prior to the modern, the purpose of art was to embody beauty. To plumb its depths and articulate its forms, to investigate and to create and to embody Beauty. Not merely the pretty, but also truths terrible and beautiful to behold. To capture in paint or wood or stone, forms capable of reaching the beholder in a visceral way, awaken stirrings of admiration and longing and awe.

With the advent of Modernism, one might well say instead "Novelty is truth - and truth, novelty." Beauty is no longer a concern worthy of serious art. Any art which is to be considered serious (or even "good") must exhibit some novel advancement of art theory.

It's not enough to be good, or to produce beauty. In fact, it may count as a strike against you! At best, beauty is utterly beside the point. "Was it done well?" and "Is it worth doing?" are questions now utterly subsumed into the answer to the question: "Has it been done before?" To be well-regarded as an artist, the single most important thing is that your art must be peculiar.

Easily-Spooked Skeptics Would Be Well Advised to Skip This One

Sometimes I have frightening implications. Sometimes things happen, that I can't explain, that science doesn't even want to acknowledge.

I'll give you an example (I guess I'd better, after that build up). Sometimes in a dream, I will dream of a major world leader, and sometimes in the dream, the leader dies. And then when I wake up, by the time I wake up, that leader is already dead. Every single time it's happened, it's happened!

And the clincher is, sometimes these world leaders are people I don't even know that much about. That's what makes the dream itself - correct in every detail - so alarming (to others, maybe, not to me). It's true that usually the only relevant detail is that the person is dead, but I'd call that a pretty big detail - and bang, it's spot on! Every time. So far.

A good example is Charles de Gaulle. I knew very little about Charles de Gaulle, but I felt that he was probably around when Kennedy was around, and I figure Kennedy would still be alive if he hadn't been shot, so there was no reason for me to expect that Charles de Gaulle was dead. Until I dreamt it. As soon as I awoke, I ran to look it up, to find out. Nothing on google news, but sure enough, I soon confirmed that the worst was true: Charles de Gaulle, dead.

Are some of you a bit freaked out, a bit disturbed? I'm not.

I've been living with the paranormal so long that it looks ordinary to me.

When the Author of a Socratic Dialogue

When the author of a Socratic Dialogue suddenly finds himself bang up against the realization - and no avoiding it - that Socrates is actually wrong this time, that it is in fact Protagoras whose view holds the truer ground...what then?

He does what he must. He returns to the start. Begins scratching out names, switching them.

There Were Tears and Screaming, and a Secret, Shamed Relief

This is probably cynical to say, but I think a lot of fans were relieved to be able to stop holding their breath waiting for the next bad news.

I mean, I sure wasn't hoping for this, but I was sure sick of hearing the next bad news. It's like being repeatedly kicked in your childhood's phantom arm.

I'm not saying it's admirable.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Out-Of-Context-Comments-On-Other-People's-Sites #15: More on Art's Purpose

The purpose of contemporary art is to confound meaning, thus giving purpose to contemporary art criticism. Art that serves this purpose is recognized and rewarded; art that fails to serve is suppressed.

Any Dictionary Surfers Out There?

Any time I ever as a kid looked up a word in the dictionary, it always turned into another episode in this infinitely-regressive/recursive exercise in interlinked meaning that I'd somehow fallen into. I'd find the word I was looking up, and I'd read the definition of it, and then I'd say - well heck, then! If that's the definition of this word, what do they say that word means?

It wasn't so much not knowing, as wanting to hear it straight. A lot of times you look a word up, it's a little different from how you'd have thought - and that creates a curiosity about the big book's take on some of the other words. And every time, it would just keep going like a brand-new bad habit! Starting from one word and then re-routing my search for meaning through one of the words in its definition, and on and on from there until the urge spent itself, or took a wrong turn up a definitional dead end.

I think one point was to hit as many interrelated words as I could, so I could freeze in my mind the fine shades of meaning between them all while it was still all icy and precise. Fresh from the meaning freezer (definitions melt quickly at brain temperature)!

Another point was the simple amusement inherent in the notion that you could start from "anhydrous" and work your way, link by link, all the way over to "purposive." Just explore the weird places you can be taken on such crooked, ricochet tangents.

But I was also curious to see if I could find a loop where the dictionary goofed it - basically, to catch them defining two synonyms almost solely in terms of each other. Which wouldn't be too suave.

I don't think I ever caught the American Heritage at that, but I'm pretty sure I got Webster's good a couple times! Unfortunately I wasn't really keeping score.

A Good Time to Point This Out

Sorry about all the posts lately. I've got like, 350+ 'Drafts' saved, in varying states of completion, and I'm trying to go back and work up as many of those into finished states as I can. And that's on top of the crap that I'm coming up with right now! So I'm pushing some posts into the future with the 'Schedule' function, but ultimately that seems like just postponing the problem. Anyway, as a result, you end up with this accelerated deluge of randomness (as contrasted with my usual stately, measured deluge of randomness).

It's a problem, I realize. I assure you I don't expect anybody to keep up with it all, all this splurge of verbiage. By all means, browse and nibble discriminately, at only the tenderest and most appetizing shoots! Pass over the rest with a dignified sniff of your bunnylike nose.

I like to picture my readership as woodland creatures, for whom I provide from my abundant bounty.

OK. And this might be a good time to point this out, if I haven't already. Due to my spectacular lack of focus, hardly any of my blog posts have any sort of 'timely' component to them. For the most part, a post from two years ago is every bit as relevant as a post today! In fact, that may be an overstatement!

So what I'm saying is, you can always catch up later. You're not missing anything urgent.

In fact, personally I don't even recommend reading the front page posts. Hit the 'Feeling Lucky' random button! Then when you find a good juicy one, surf from there by clicking that post's labels most sympathetic to your interests. That's where the good stuff lives.

And as you read, feel free to comment on any post no matter how old. And if you wish, as you comment you can unobtrusively mention, in an off-hand way, what sort of woodland creature you are.

That really helps.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thought of the Day, to be Repeated Over and Over Again

My mantra is,


You Know What I Want to Make And Sell? Freak-Flag Kits.

How often do you hear someone say something about raising one's freak flag and letting it fly? But how many people, even those inclined to raise their freak flag, actually have a freak flag? Here's where I'd step in.

You can't just go to the store and buy a pre-made flag and call it your freak flag. No matter how freaky that flag is! It's somebody else's freak flag that you bought into. Is that particularly freak? What's freak about it, really?

I mean, I guess you can just pick out and buy a freak flag if it's just sitting there, already perfectly capturing your own deepest freakness. But what are the chances? What are the chances? I ask you. And if that did happen - wouldn't that be a little too freaky?

But so anyway. People would come to me, and I'd give 'em a questionnaire that would lead me to a good understanding of what kind of flag stuff they'd like to have in their "freak flag kit." Some like stripes, some like crosses and stars, some like swirly "I got punched in a cartoon!" symbols, or skulls or a million other things. Anybody so creative and crafty that they could come up with all that stuff from scratch doesn't need my services! But for those who do, I'd take the questionnaire and think hard and freakily, and I'd put together and send them a full freak-flag kit. A kit to help them not only to get their freak on, but to help them get their freak on their flag.

Included would be a base flag in the shape and background color they chose, a wide band suitable for vertical or horizontal application in their backup color, and a good assortment of symbolic elements and heraldric elements (it's "heraldic" I know, but it really should be "heraldric") in complementary (or clashing, per preference!) colors, that they can put together into the final freaky layout that best bespeaks their own particular freak!

Then they can raise it high.

You Say That You Want Respect - Honey, For What?

Bon Scott was the man. Look at him here, he looks like Disco Garry Shandling and STILL he's cooler than a plastic chest of iced beverages! Even at the end, with purple credits crawling over his face.

Prophets Pitching God, to a Studio Executive

No, no no - I'm sorry guys, I'm just not seeing it. We need something bigger.

True Love v. Unconditional Love

True love means being willing to die for the other person.

True love means putting the other person's needs ahead of my own (if they do the same, it evens out, but true love doesn't require that).

These are not conditions. This is simply how true love makes me feel. Once again I am advocating for what love means. Others have their own ideas.

Unconditional love means you don't put conditions on the other person. Unconditional love does not mean a blanket refusal of all obligations upon one's self, as if saying "I ain't gotta do shit for you!" were some high statement of love's purpose.

True love does not mean unconditional love. True love doesn't even put that condition on. "You are not allowed to have conditions" is one hell of a condition. But the fact is, true love does have conditions. It must. There are ways a person can treat you and things they can do that must legitimately call into question whether you can be in a love relationship, with a person who does such things. This is not being unconditional, but it is being responsible.

True love does not mean "forever" (and for you "unconditional lovers" out there - that too would be one hell of a condition!). True love doesn't always last. Sometimes the way a person feels does change. Other times, the other person may not feel as the one person does.

This is why the single most important thing, for two people who want to be in love together, is to talk about it and agree on what the hell that's supposed to mean. Because if they haven't done that - they're not in love together. They've got two separate loves, and a series of fights where their loves don't overlap.

Kickass Screenplay Idea: Gotcher Nose

In the tradition of such horror classics as Jeepers Creepers and The Tooth Fairy, we know that even the most innocent childhood rituals can yield a bumper crop of scary horror!

So the deal is, there's this guy, right? Who later generations of horror fans will refer to affectionately as "Gotcher," and debate amongst themselves as to whether he could beat the Candyman - there will need to be to some distinctive visual look to him, I'm still workshopping that aspect and some of the other particulars. Perhaps a cardigan involved. But anyway, there's this guy - are you with me so far? - and he goes around, and he preys upon the unsuspecting by ripping off their noses and showing them to you! ("you" the victim, but also, "you" the audience - we are implicated in the act, by our voyeurism) in a grotesque burlesque of that trick your grandpa always used to pull.

Gotcher Nose. This Summer, Horror Has A Really Dumb Trick To Pull.

We can do better than that slogan. Like I said, workshopping the particulars.

Some Brief Remarks on Social/Sexual Mores with a Pseudo-Darwinian Gloss, Followed by Some Irresponsible Questions and Speculations

Sexual morality operates at a level that can legitimately be described as Darwinian. Societies that exist in environments where sexual promiscuity brings a high risk of debilitating disease evolve stronger social prohibitions against promiscuity. Societies that are more insulated from those risks develop a freer attitude about matters sexual.

Those social prohibitions are usually encoded within the local religion which, if it metastasizes, can carry those encoded puritanical mores to areas where their survival value may be more or less moot.

Of course, once the path of modern-world disease vectors crosses the path of a previously insulated society, that society can very quickly find that their relaxed sociosexual attitudes now present a survival hazard. History has witnessed many sad cases of an opportunistic epidemic decimating a hitherto carefree population whose sociological histories for various reasons never necessitated the creation of insulating layers of sexual prudery.

Speaking of AIDS, did they ever figure out where it came from? Last I checked in on the debate, the leading theories were that it either crossed into the human population when someone had sex with a monkey, or it was created in a USAMRIID lab for a splendid array of hypothetical nefarious purposes.

My guess is that the truth lies somewhere between the two.

The "Dang Disclaimer," AKA, "A Note on Content and Tone"

[ed.: The Damn Disclaimer was simply too long. Here's the long version: the long version]

"Autobiography may interest those with exciting lives, but it doesn't interest me."

- me

Here's the short version: this blog is writing practice. I try my best on each post. Each post is doing its own thing, there's no attempt to preserve a common viewpoint or consistent tone.

Every post should be viewed first and foremost as fiction. Some posts do reflect what I believe, some posts do contain the odd personal tidbit. But most posts don't. I'm not being coy, it's just that I'm not particularly interested in that aspect. I don't blog to reveal myself, I'm more or less a private person. I don't blog to get to know myself, I already know that. I blog as an outlet for ideas, an opportunity to write in unusual voices, and from odd points of view (including occasionally, my own).

I blog as a creative outlet. The goal of creation, of art, is not self-expression. The obligation of the artist is not to the self. It is first, to the individual work: to make it its best. Second, to one's own ability, one's own creative process: to explore, improve upon, and perfect it.

I blog the same way you might write a song, or a short story. You start with whatever kernel of inspiration, and then you take it whatever direction it needs to go, to best express whatever point the song or story seems to be trying to make.

Comments are welcome. If a given post raises questions, by all means ask! I am a private person, as I said, but I will never take offense at a respectful question as long as the asker doesn't take offense, should I respectfully decline to answer. I usually don't decline to answer, albeit I may not lay whole realms bare.

You are welcome!

Who Owns Which Words When?

I was reading a very good novel (Possession by A.S. Byatt) where the protagonists are chasing down all sorts of clues on the trail of a heretofore unguessed-at romantic relationship between a respected and influential victorian English poet and a reclusive and enigmatic poetess (both fictitious). At one point there were questions of ownership involving letters exchanged between the two - various scholars and collectors fighting over who had the right to take what and stick it where - and it was kind of cool how that whole aspect worked itself out, as the technicalities were unravelled. Something I'd never thought about closely before.

The author of a letter (and the author's estate) owns the copyright - no one else has the right to publish the contents of the letter. Obviously if the letter is ever published, at that point the clock starts ticking - I forget how many years after publication before it goes public domain. But the clock doesn't tick until the copyright owner allows it to be published.

The recipient of the letter (and the recipient's estate) owns the physical object, the letter itself. So if a group of letters are to be auctioned off as historically significant and valuable objects (which was one of the plots afoot in the book) then the recipient's estate has sole control to do so as they see fit - but anyone buying the letters buys only the physical artifact. Owning the physical manuscript confers no rights to publication.

The book's a great book, by the way - none of the above legal jumbo is what it's about, it was just something that came up in the course of it that I found instructive and kind of neat. And it made sense to me, which is rare.

A Weakness for Collaboration

I've been reading history, and pondering the cases of otherwise seemingly admirable persons, whether artists or other leading public figures, who have collaborated with regimes and movements that history has since judged abominable. And the stain of that clings to their lives and works.

And I have to be honest. I have to be frank with myself. I have noted within myself a certain moral weakness towards this sort of collaboration. When it comes right down to it, I know that I would collaborate with any regime - no matter how repugnant - that agrees to install me as their absolute and unquestioned tyrannical dictator.

But I'd trick 'em, you see. I'd be working from within, to subvert their repugnant cause. I'd work it in all subtle and stuff, between the lines of my screaming histrionics at the podium.

An Offseason Paean to Sunday

"What's My Sport?" you ask? Football. American-Style!

And not just to see in person; no - although nothing beats that! But we can't always make it out to fill the stands, and for the ordinary fan watching at home from the comfort of their proverbial own armchair, no major league professional sport is framed or paced better. Football seems almost to have been designed to be the ideal sport for your broadcast television enjoyment. The drama seethes and contracts. Efforts are made, thwarted, and after a pause to re-gather strength of scheme and sinew - redoubled! Mad scrambles of action alternate with tense moments of frantic planning and strategy, all punctuated by the simple snap of a ball. So much! Riding on a flick of the wrist that sets two whirling cataracts of thousands of panting pounds of man-flesh flailing against each other in an orgiastic ballet of brutally-poised, expertly-executed violence and athleticism!

Don't mistake me, baseball can be quite thrilling and poetic! But it can be kind of boring, also. As can poetry, if we're being honest.

Soccer is fun to see live, but not suited for prime time coverage - too much field to fit onscreen, and you're always missing most of what's going on. And the pacing - a problem it shares with such sports as basketball and hockey - the pace is a problem, from a dramatic standpoint. There's always something going on, but generally, it's nothing important.

In basketball, almost all of the scoring feels unimportant. It's just a constant back and forth of nearly-meaningless points accumulating in tiny increments. It isn't until the final two minutes or so that any of the points really seems to mean anything, and then only if the game has stayed close.

In hockey and soccer, there is a similar pacing problem, but it stems from almost the opposite cause: instead of too much scoring - a constant back and forth of meaningless teensy little points accumulating - there is too little: a constant back and forth of near-scores and attempts to score. There is a certain amount of suspense, in that at any moment something could happen! Suspense, but little drama. Because you can't get past the creeping realization that really, at any given moment, very little *is* happening. Very little ever does happen, and then when something finally does, you're expected to go balls nuts screaming crazy out of sheer gratitude that something finally happened! I expect sometimes people do that by mistake, and then realize mid-jubilation-freakout, shit - that was the other team.

In football, you still have the tease of suspense that at any moment a huge play could break out of nowhere and take it all the way to the end zone - for either team! But underlying that is a real dramatic build. A touchdown drive has to be assembled, play by play, the yards carved out a chunk at a time by flawless execution in the face of stiff resistance, with luck breaking unpredictably either way on any play. I concede that there's a real learning curve - if you don't know what's happening, it's not going to make sense, and for football the fundamentals can seem needlessly complex to the uninitiated. But as complex as it seems when you come to it cold, it really doesn't take long to get the hang of it. Two consecutive Sundays on the couch next to me will have you at speed. And the investment is more than worth it! It's just the perfect spectator sport for lovers of drama, rising action, the purity of the moment, the beauty of a crystalline strategy perfectly executed in defiance of the other team's well-drawn opposing plan. It's a beautiful game.

That said, and all invidious comparisons aside, I love all of the other sports too! I've seen some thrilling hockey and basketball games live! I've had some white-knuckle moments at amateur soccer matches. There's a lot in all these sports to love, and probably much of what I dig in each comes across differently to fans of different temperaments. But for me personally, on the whole, I think football is just the sport of our age. I'm talking right down to the mechanics of the game itself.

One thing I don't understand is why people pay attention to the celebrity aspect of any of these sports. Seriously: who cares?

Thought of the Day: On Stickers

If you had a sticker with a picture of doo doo on it it would be a FECAL DECAL.

Word Is Born.

They always tell me the bible is the Word, and Jesus is the Word Made Flesh. I don't know why that just makes sense to me. Rationally I can take a step back and ask "but what does that mean?" But I never really do, because it feels right! The bible is the same Word spoken through eternity, the same Word incarnated as our savior. And so reading the bible sometimes, I feel like I am sitting on Jesus's lap, and he is telling me stories! And there's more in there than just stories: wise sayings, poetry, jokes, tales of tragedy and battle and triumph and sacrifice. Yes, some rules and road-maps in there, too. Much of it told in parable, as we know is the Word's wont, as demonstrated so amply from when he was down here walking around, messing with the Pharisee's minds (he still does that! Today the Pharisee's call themselves 'biblical literalists' and are essentially the same group that kept missing the point back then). I love to sit and read, and take it all in - parables, prayers, songs, symbols, histories, heroes, and a moral or two too, one assumes. Much of it, steeped in mystery. But the whole thing told with love for me, and with trust in me that I'll trust in him to guide my understanding of it.

Man, that is a good book!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Random Potshots At Postmodernism

Postmodernism is kidding itself. Postmodernism did not succeed Modernism. It offered no meaningful break from Modernism. On the contrary, Postmodernism was the full and mature flowering of the Modernist trend. Its final logical step. Its reductio ad absurdum, if you will. Modernism begat the ascendancy of Art Criticism and Art Theory over Art (or was begotten by it). Postmodernism unfolded the final stage of this transformation: Criticism supersedes Art. Art is Criticism. For Postmodernism, the purpose of Art is to take Art apart, to comment on it, to reframe its assumptions and question its values. Surgeon, dissect thyself.

Of course, Postmodernism has gone far beyond Art now - metastasizing into any number of academic fields, most notably linguistics.

Linguistics doesn't get a capital "L" in my book. Not unless it starts the sentence.

Office Supply Requisition

I want a stamp with a big red question mark on it.

Nothing else. No words or letters. Just a big red question mark - very large, like maybe 250 pt font size. And if something crossed my desk that deserved an enigmatic sort of "what the hell do you call this?" rejection - I'd pull out the stamp, ink it up good, *WHAP!*


This Just Brings It All Back to Me, the Immediacy

Friday, June 26, 2009

Hey There, Good Timers! Friday Night Here It Comes! Pt.2: the denouement

Well it went great actually! It was a going-away thing, good turnout, the dearly departing had a blast as far as I can tell (far as I can tell, she's still having a blast, I pumpkin'd because I've got to get in sharp and early tomorrow - Inventory weekend for our fiscal close), I had a good time.

You know what? I'm good in social situations. People like me, in those situations. It's probably hard for those of you to believe, those of you who might have a hard time believing that, it might be hard to believe. But I am really very good in those situations. People like the me who I am able to be.

I had a really good time at the one place, and at the place we ended up after that place closed I had a great time - even on the walk between the two I was having a good time. I wasn't 'switched-on' or anything. I was just kind of - laid back. Enjoying the moment, saying good bye, celebrating the good of the past within the bonds of the present. On balance, I was having a good time. I don't know why I bugged out early. It was just, the night ended on kind of a depressing note for me. I met this girl called Anna, and...we really hit it off! But I can tell it's not going to work out.

So I had to end it.

Hey There, Good Timers! Friday Night Here It Comes!

I'm headin' out to-nite! Going out, Friday night, going out to a nice place, going to dress nice, gonna look good. I'm going to have a good time, maybe a few drinks - can't rule that out, a few drinks. I've been known to imbibe the company of others with a drinks chaser, from time to time! So yeah, I know most of you probably don't know me in a physical location, where-I-live sort of way, but just in case, it might be a good idea, a good time to come by rob the house.

I'm just putting that out there. It's a courtesy really. I'm not offering, or authorizing it in any way! I absolutely would not be happy to have that happen, in fact I'd be very upset. I'd feel terrible, and probably cry - it would ruin my night for sure. But I feel I have to at least be up front about it, about me going out tonight, as part of the shared-trust exercise that blogging seems to have evolved into, for me at least. I see a lot of other people blogging, they often make note of it: "hey! I'm going out tonight!" It's true they don't literally go on to say, might be a good idea to come by and rob the place, but that is sort of implied is it not? Just by definition, really. How can that not be implied? If you're looking for a good time, to come by rob the place, it doesn't get much better than when the person's not there.

Or it could be a trap. There's that to consider as well. A lot of these online types can't be trusted in the slightest.

A Good Example of How I Operate

I walked into the executive offices at noon today and noticed I'd left my coffee cup - my big black and silver thermos cup - sitting on the reception desk when I stopped in this morning. Whoa - good thing I noticed that, I thought. I'd hate to lose that cup! I grabbed it, tasted the coffee - ugh, cold. Dumped out the coffee, rinsed out the cup.

Then as I was walking back up the street to my building I realized, hey, this cup is a little too nondescript. If I'm going to be leaving it lying around, I better mark it in some identifying way. I stopped walking, pulled out my keychain knife and carved a big bold graphic signifier - my stylized logo monogram! - right into the matte black rubberplastic of the bottom half of the cup. Perfect! And it looks great, too. Everyone will know it's mine, or if they don't, and I catch them with my cup, I can easily prove them in the wrong.

Then I walked the rest of the way back to my building, returned to my office, and set it down on my desk right next to my big black and silver thermos cup.

So Many People Have It So Much Worse Than Me

I'm not gloating.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The World Curved Wrong

the sun set down
on a world curved wrong
the horizon buckled back
for one good look
at the colors and light
that faded from our faces
as a darkness rose up
from between blades of grass
the shadows climbed our legs
and reached from low to higher
places. But before the end, I guess
we had one hell
of a time in heaven
and that was the last
that there was.

no further lessons to learn

but one

How many true loves have you had?

How many true loves have you had? Before you answer, try to decide first what (by your belief) "true love" means. Hold your answer out of your mind until you can settle on a definition. If you don't believe there is such a thing as true love, then "Zero" is your answer.

Now I say to go by your own belief and definition of true love, but I'll also say this: if you're going to try to count people you can't even remember, most people would say you're full of shit on that one. Now I'm not saying their skepticism should overrule where you choose to set the bar, but for me personally I have to lay it on the line: if I can't remember her name or what she looked like, then it wasn't true love.

You don't forget a thing like that.

The Worst Damage That Can Be Done to the Mind and Life of a Child

The worst damage that can be done to the mind of a child is to convince that child that they are not the one responsible for their life. If you can trick a child in this manner, you will cripple everything within them that they could have used to overcome adversity, find perspective within tragedy, and cope with the general injustice of life.

A human being who realizes the plain truth - that they are the one responsible for their own life - can be incredibly resilient. Acceptance of this truth is the greatest lesson you can teach a child or anyone else. No gift or blessing can compare to this one simple, clear-eyed realization: your life is yours.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Swell Colors

swell colors

Too Bright. I Remember It Brighter


Profanity's on the way out, people.

I'm telling you, profanity is on the way out. By late 2012 at best, people are going to be saying any kind of what you'd call bad words without batting an eye. People will be like, "what is the big deal? It's just a bunch of syllables." By 2017, the word "motherfucker" is going to be used without batting an eye in television advertisements. It'll be as prevalent and accepted and expected as the word "eXtreme!!" was in the early-to-early-mid 1990s. There will be established brands landing on the bandwagon trying to update their slogan. There will be impassioned testimonials with the word tossed in just to add a little faded, belated, by-then-cliched zing. You'll see spots like:
Sad-looking man: "When the doctor told me I had diabetes, it hit me like a motherfucker. But then he told me something else, something with a little hope in it: now there's Zorpoflorvophlanzintüzex."
Narrator (over slow-motion product shots): "Rich milk chocolate...soft nougat. Gooey caramel. Packed with peanuts, Snickers is a motherfucker."

Deep voiceover, with text onscreen: "SNICKERS. It's A Motherfucker."

Everyone is going to be like, who cares? Bad words - what! Huh? Special powerful words, you cast curses at people with? Is this Harry Potter or something? Bad words, come on. What happens when you say them, demons? Seizures? Bad breath?

Just you watch and wait. I'm telling you now. People won't even know what you're talking about, "bad words."

Home, Sweet

I wonder does Obama get to use that "Honey, I'm home!" line? On the one hand, how sweet to be able to pull that walking into the White House! On the other, that's also where he works (the original home office!), plus it's the sort of thing where when you walk in with a half-dozen beefy guys packing guns, the effect is rather less domestic than otherwise.

But I hope he still gets to do that, sometimes.

God Gets Me

God appreciates my sense of humor.

I hate to pull rank, but there it is. For your face.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Top H Things To Say When Someone States The Obvious

H. "You know, not a lot of people would think to point that out."
G. "Is that what they're teaching in schools these days?"
F. "You have such a refreshing way of saying it, it made us forget we all knew that already."
E. "You, sir, are a master of the obvious." (for use on males only. There is, alas, no good feminine equivalent)
E.2. Although what the heck - "You, ma'am, are a mistress of the obvious." - has a certain freshness to it! Something about that "ma'am." Tart and sassy!
D. (after a thoughtful pause) "That's a truism." (if you think there's a risk of them taking that as agreement, or as a compliment, go with "That's circular logic" instead)
C. "Can you elucidate your thought process for us? How did you arrive at that conclusion?"
B. "I wasn't aware of that. When I was born, I wasn't aware of that."
A. "Prove it."

Things That Are Just Stupid To Get All Worked Up About

Sometimes people say stuff that's just stupid, like about naked baby pictures of you, and being embarrassed by them. What's the big deal? Look! I don't care how many naked baby pictures of me there are out there (there aren't any, my parents had pretty much lost interest in the documentary approach by the time I came along) - why would I be embarrassed by those being shown or displayed? I'd be tickled pink! I'd be all like - LOOK at how ADORABLE I was!!! Look at those CHUBBY CHEEKS! Look how curly my hair was then! Ooooo the dimples! Oh my goodness what a...

Whoa. Look at the SIZE of my thing-thing. Wow! That's pretty disproportionate, for such a little baby, and then to see THAT big ol' thing!

Luckily as the rest of my body grew, it pretty much stayed the same size, so eventually a proper sense of scale was restored. Otherwise: problem.

God Will Judge Each Of Us In Our Own Turn

Ooo! Ooo!

Can I go first?

Got an Empire to Run?

Here's a tip: a nude emperor is a damn sight better than an empty suit of robes.

Monday, June 22, 2009

I Love Macy's!

Whenever I go to Macy's there's always clothes that I want to wear, or in my size. It sucks because I can't afford that! I'm saving up for stuff! So I make fun of shit instead:
There should be a motorcycle gang called The Paisley Skulls. There really should. Based out of San Fran. And then if there were, they could shop at Macy's. And be entitled to a discount for this, or any similar items.

I almost got this, because I love all things to do with the Netherlands, especially tigers.

I didn't end up getting either of these. But I did get a nice yogurt colored button-down short-sleeve, two Peanuts t-shirts that were too cute to be adorable, a decent pair of black shorts for me going back East (I need to pick up more shorts, but wasn't much available in my size), and the coup-of-grace, the item I need least and am happiest with - a dark (as dark as navy can be without being black) knee-length blazer that makes me feel like Neil Tenant in the "West End Girls" video. It's just SO RIGHT in so many ways. The lining on this thing is a revelation. And the price was a steal!

At the rate at which I'm not doing laundry, I'm going to have a lot of nice clothes in a couple of weeks.

Mixology and the Science of Doneness

I always love those pool joints that post up a sign of "House Rules" that are really just the normal rules but it's posted up handy to point a dummy to it.

I think a big ol Ye-Ol'-Style brass placard of some kind, behind the bar, would be incredibly useful. NEAT = right out of the bottle, room-temp. UP = Chilled and served in a cocktail glass. STRAIGHT UP = vague term. Usually means “neat”, but check first. TWIST IS A PEEL NOT A WEDGE!

Such a sign would aid patron and barkeep alike. If the patron disagrees with the "house rules" (really, quite definitive) definitions, having them posted right their would aid the patron in clarifying what it is they want. As long as the sign looks suitably ancient and classy, no one would take it as an insult to their intelligence. Except, of course, a moron. But you know what? It isn't fair to the rest of us to take into account what morons consider an insult.

Yes, I carry with me at all dinnertimes a laminated placard showing a photo of a steak cooked to each of the 7 degree of order (including raw and burnt). I have hundreds of those placards. I got a volume discount, and if the waitress wants to keep it or bring it back to amuse the chef, I give her one to keep as long as she assures me that no one will spit in my baked potato on account of me trying to be helpful.

You'd be surprised how suave I pull it off. One time the chef came right out to say hi, and asked me what my source was for those placards!

I was happy to refer him.

Brand Loyalty Betrayed: Breyers Ice Cream

In response to your questions regarding the use of tara gum in its ice cream, Breyers is proud of its all-natural heritage. It’s a position we take very seriously and one we work hard to maintain. We value the confidence our customers have in our products and go to great lengths to ensure exceptional quality and great taste.

So when consumers expressed concern over the texture of our products, we responded. By adding a natural gum to Breyers All Natural Vanilla ice cream, we’ve helped to protect the product’s texture while staying true to our all-natural commitment. We use tara gum from natural plant sources to help Breyers ice cream stay creamier and more enjoyable for longer periods of time.

Because ice cream is temperature-sensitive, this addition has further allowed us to ensure the ice cream’s quality throughout it distribution. As you can imagine, ice cream’s taste and texture can be unfavorably affected if exposed to temperature fluctuations during shipping or storage. Our customers describe the problem as ice cream with a “gritty” or “grainy” texture. In fact, growing distribution and increased handling of our ice cream in the marketplace has indeed resulted in greater chances for temperature abuse and heightened potential for texture problems.

"...consumers expressed concern over the texture...!" - this product was PERFECT FOR 30+ YEARS, by my personal experience!

SHAME ON YOU, UNILEVER. If you're going to buy a brand, you've some obligation to protect its legacy and support the reasons your loyal customers have been buying it for generations!

Can I ask, has food shipping and handling technology gotten WORSE? Has our refrigeration and transportation infrastructure actually deteriorated over time, to the point where you could have a pure product made from only frozen milk, cream, sugar and strawberries for DECADES and it can be a top brand - inspire a lifetime's loyalty and be just a little bowlful of joy, a beautiful and perfect product in every way! But somehow now it has become necessary to add GUNK to it? And then tell me it's by popular demand. "Oh, we had many requests for the gunk. People today want gunk in there, and we responded."

Unconscionable! A top-quality product needs to be treated right at every point in the supply chain! It needs to be protected to ensure its excellence. Your job as a responsible corporation is to make sure that happens - not to adulterate it, to make it more forgiving of mistreatment, so you can handle it any old way you like!

This is worse than when Wrigley's laced their classic Wrigley's Spearmint with acesulfame of potassium. I can't even chew that stuff anymore. It's got a weird, sharp taste to it that it didn't used to have.

It wouldn't be so bad if your gunked-up ice cream tasted okay. It doesn't. I was eating some Breyers Strawberry, and I was just involuntarily scowling. "What did they do to this?" Involuntary scowling is not the reaction I want my ice cream to elicit! And then I read the ingredients: things in there that shouldn't be. And then I checked the side of the box: is the Pledge of Purity still on there? It IS!

FOR SHAME. REMOVE IT. THIS PRODUCT NO LONGER DESERVES TO BE SO EMBLAZONED. And don't give me "tara gum is natural" - who cares! "Pure" doesn't have a thing to do "natural" vs. "unnatural." Ice cream adulterated with "natural" gum gunk to make it cheaper for you to store, ship and handle is not "pure." Pure has to do with what is essential. With what this product has always been: the core pure sweet and simple ingredients, embodying the philosophy that made Breyer's our favorite ice cream growing up.

Gone now.

Either take off the Pledge of Purity, or take out what doesn't belong. Gum gunk has no business being in there. Gunk does not belong - call it "natural gunk" all you want, natural is not the problem. GUNK IS THE PROBLEM.

What should be in there? You know what should be in there. We all know. We remember the ads, okay? We remember what the legacy was. Milk. Cream. Sugar. Strawberries. That's right, Johnny. That's purity. And now Haagen-Duhs is coming out with some "5 Ingredient" line like that's some big thing! Like Breyers didn't already have them beat to that punch, for purity! But, sadly, Breyers doesn't anymore. I used to be able to recommend Breyers proudly to one and all. "Nothing in there that you wouldn't put in yourself, if you were making your own ice cream!" Well, scratch that.

There once was a product that had absolutely nothing wrong with it. There are very, very few products about which you could say that. Breyers strawberry ice cream was a perfect product. So was Breyers vanilla. So was Breyers butter pecan. So was Breyers peach. So was Breyers mint chocolate chip. So was Breyers cherry vanilla. Perfect products. Delicious. Pure. Nothing in them you wouldn't put in yourself, if you were making ice cream. Not once in my history of consuming Breyers ice cream was there any "concern with texture."

Now what do I do? I've got to buy an ice cream maker, I guess. I've got to make my own ice cream. What a pain in the ass this is. Milk. Cream. Sugar. Strawberries. All that effort, and it's not even going to be any better than Breyers used to be.

Probably not as hard to make as the chewing gum, though.

Thought of the Day: ...Wait For It

I really wish the tip of my tongue and the back of my mind were as accessible as the top of my head.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Is It Just Me?

I'm only insulting myself when I say this, I know, but to me those last two posts were boring as FUCK.

Hm. That doesn't really work in that context. Boring as balls, perhaps?

Those last two posts were boring as balls.

Try a Random Post, instead. Under the Feeling Lucky sidebar. I tried it, got this!


Then I tried it again and got this. Bogus.

I Like Cold Beverages!

I'm such a procrastinator with shopping. It got so there were literally no beverages in the fridge (except beer). I was getting real sick of beer, which sucks for me because I love beer! But I'm more of a deeply savor and appreciate it type. I don't like to pound beer after beer just for beverage purposes. And I do like to pound beverage after beverage, just for hydration purposes! I'm a fiend when it comes to adequate hydration. As I say all the time: "adequate hydration is the key to unlocking your body's full metabolic potential." It would not be an exaggeration to say my favorite beverage is pure clear cold water - but not by water alone is a man's thirst quenched.

Anyway, I finally went to the store to get beverages and that ended up being about ALL I got. I got Martinelli's Apple Cider, I got a limeade from some brand I've not tried, we'll see how that is. Got a big ol' V8 (low-salt - the regular stuff is way too salty for me! Who likes SALTY BEVERAGES??), and I got an Odwalla Carrot juice. Oh, and some beer.

But I just had a nice big pint of iced carrot juice and boy, it put me in mind of a Scwewy Wabbit. Have any of you had a Scwewy Wabbit? It's a screwdriver, only made with carrot juice instead of orange juice. I invented it in like 1996, but aside from a few devotees, it never really caught on.

It's a shame, it's a very refreshing cocktail. The carrot juice should be very cold when the chilled vodka goes in.

Hard To Argue

"Aw, I don't even know what to do with life anymore."

The guy next to me said this. I was sitting at the bar. I want to make it clear, I'm not the kind of person to go sit at bars, drinking, as if the fact there's people around after the same purpose makes it any more sociable than just sitting at home drinking. Because it doesn't. At least, the way I do it.

But this particular bar is at a brew-pub, where I've gone many times after a strong hike up in Big Basin, to dig into their big Lomond Burger which has gorgonzola and caramelized onions to it. And it's so good. I used to come in here after every Big Basin hike with my girlfriend, and then since we broke up I haven't been hiking, really, but I came here a few times with my substitute girlfriend and she agreed it was an awesome burger, even though she wasn't interested in hiking. And then after that didn't work out, there was just no reason to make the drive. And I was missing the place (they brew their own TOP CLASS beers) and, yeah, I guess I can admit it, I was missing that burger. So I made up an excuse, and I drove all the way up there and I stopped in to have one. And I sat at the bar, because I don't like to use up a deuce-top in a busy place. And I got my burger.

The meat is so good, and the bun is so good, and the buttery onions and soft gorgonzola just melt into both. No ketchup on this one - save it for the fries. And may I say, the insides of these perfectly crisped big fat steak fries were so creamy with potato-y goodness that the only similar food effect that could come to mind as I bit in to a ketchup-topped fat steak-cut french fry was: this is like a perfect creamy new york cheesecake with cherry topping, except it's ketchup and fries.

So good. And I'm enjoying a pint of their Bonny Doon Amber as I chaw heartily on my Lomond burg, and this guy next to me says to the space directly in front of him, which doesn't have anyone in it:

"Awwww, I don't even know what to do with life anymore."

And I pause mid-about-to-take-a-bite, and I turn and look at him, and he turns and looks at me, and for a second I am fully prepared to nod, but before I can, he continues:

"It's a multi-variable situation."

Which, that caught me aback. I couldn't even nod, then. I was like, you got that shit right.

But I didn't say it though. That's just what I was like.

Warning: Irk Me, and I Will Compare You to Hitler

Oh yeah? Well okay, then:

You remind me of Hitler in several ways.

Not least the cut of your jib! For which I CARE NOT ONE JOT!!

Wait. Hold on. My apologies. Upon reflection I must admit, there is really very little correlation between the cuts of the respective jibs involved in my comparison. And therefore, my comparison can hardly be called an apt one.

However, certain gross vulgarities of your chromosome count continue to strike me as strikingly reminiscent of Hitler. Or "Hitlerniscent", if you will.

Once Again, My Sunday Theology Post

I don't care what you've gone through in this life, if after the ELEVEN BILLIONTH YEAR of sitting up in heaven, living high on the hog in serene and perfect bliss and healed of all hurts mental emotional and physical, you haven't maybe finally started to let go the grudge you've got against God for having created you into a mortal world where people have free will - well at that point, you're a way bigger prick than you currently accuse God of being. Sorry.

And don't give me that "But not everybody gets to heaven" crap, either. Do you know? Are you the decider? Has God whispered all the judgments in your ear? Can we assume that God hasn't? Not to you!

And not to anyone else, either. Care to dispute it?

Shall we take a wild stab, and say that maybe the fever-pitch sin-obsessed judgmental theomaniacs who try to rule the world by aggressively projecting their own sick, twisted consciences onto others might not have the best grasp of Christ's message?

I think that's a safe call. I think we can say that with confidence. Shit: Kurt Vonnegut could see that. And more atheist than that dude, they do not come.

I'm not saying everybody gets to heaven. That's not my call, either. But I am saying I know whose call it isn't, and I trust whose call it is. And I am saying anybody on earth who claims they can speak for God in judgment of even one single human soul - that dude's talking out of his ass.

Another sweet Sunday theology post, from your friendly neighborhood theist.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

My Chief Reasons for Doing So

Listen up. I already posted this video once. Nobody commented. If anybody had listened, I'm confident somebody would have commented. If only to say: "thanks."

I'm posting it again:

The band is Chief. These guys are currently unsigned. Have a listen. Love that slow, steady, mean, hard-harmony sound. Love it.

I am not saying "I love it." I am telling you to love it.

"All the nice people know they are. Why would I listen to you?"

And the video is damn great. A low-key seethe of a nihilist caper flick.

Summertime! And the livin's easy...

Well as I post this, it's already Summer on the East coast and as far West as Chicago, with Colorado soon to follow and then me.

So welcome, welcome to that ficklest and most frolicsome of seasons: Summer! Or as the French call it, "ete", with little vowel-hats and accents involved.

What sorts of Summer plans do people have cooking? I know that towards the waning days, I will be headed down to Sequoia National Park...again...for another in an ongoing series of death-hikes. You never know you're really living 'til your hanging off the top of a rather stubby mountain in the Southern Sierras 11,000 up from where you started (oh be fair, the trail head is probably at least 7,000 feet up already - so 4,000 up from where you actually started) and you're sure you've run out of water.

That was fun though!

Anyway, getting back to that other sentence, I know that I've got that in August, but the rest of the Summer stretches before me like an open book...a trashy novel of some kind...waiting to be devoured carelessly while basking under a blinding sun! And sipping extraordinary lagers with tiny paper umbrellas getting in the way of my eager lips.

What's everybody else doing? Anything? Or nothing...? (better still!)

On-Time Concert Reviews #4: Vetiver at the Attic

July 8, 2007 - The Attic, Santa Cruz

I just saw Vetiver. They left me feeling very kindly disposed toward them as human beings. However, they also very nearly put me the fuck to sleep.

I can't describe the type of music they're playing very well. It's like music that The Band might have played - that style. Or maybe, it's like music that The Opening Band for The Band might have played, because they didn't sound like The Band. But they were in that sort of musical tradition. Kind of rootsy?

S_____ said she they reminded her of the Dead, but no way! Not at all. Firstly, they didn't sound anyway near that bad. Secondly, they kept their songs pretty concise, pretty focused - no sprawling jammy wankfests gumming up your earspace!

But the songs - or at least, 90% of them - they were so damn MELLOW. It was too much for me! I'm too old for that, I need songs that ROCK.

There was one song that rocked. It was the bluesy one that S_____ played for me on her iPod when I asked "hey, could I at least hear something from this band we're seeing on Sunday?" And she played this one song, and it was good. And then they played it, and it was GREAT! It was called "You May Be Blue." It had this awesomely descending minor pentatonic chime of a guitar figure, with a thomping, snarly bass and drum track that just hits you and keeps right on driving. Nice. InTENSE.

The thing is though, with that song - they hit it so hard live that I had to hear the iPod version again on the way home. And bummer! The studio track is way more laid back.

But it's still good. If they could ditch the hippy acoustic crap and fill up a couple albums with more of the fuzzy snarl that they packed into that track live, I'd even buy every album on from them from there!

But what the heck. That may not be on their list of priorities. They need to follow their own dreams and muses. Not mine.

The detached critic in me must admit they executed a decent show. It's not their fault they're up there all Darjeeling, and I'm sitting in the crowed arms folded: "EARL GREY."

I've Got a Teaching Disability

I just had an epiphany the other day at work. Somebody said "you know Joe, sometimes when someone asks you a simple question, when you answer you sound like you're trying to explain it to an idiot." And I said, "That's because I'm trying to explain it to myself as I go."

And I just kind of sat there, thinking wow. That's so true about me. But everybody else thought it was a joke!

It only happens in certain circumstances. When someone asks a question where I can see the question, and I can understand why it's a question, usually I can answer off the top of my head with a pat answer that springs forth with confidence in what I already know and the conclusions I've drawn.

But when somebody comes out with a question whose nature is such that I can't understand how it could be a question, well that tosses any possible pat answer out the window. It's like hitting the 'reset' button on my mind. It clears out my fundamental assumptions on the topic and brings me back to square 1, or as I prefer to call it, circle A. I scrap my former conclusions. I return to my foundational premises, and build the validity of the proposition back up from scratch, making sure as I go that it is indeed sound. Basically, I am explaining - not to the questioner, but to myself - why it is that way.

That's the only way I know how to do it! Once someone gives me to know that something I had considered well-concluded is actually open to question, how else to answer that? But I can complete the process pretty quick and easy, it's a snap to do - it's just that a side effect of listening to the process is that it sounds like me explaining something to an idiot.

Well, "oh well." My way of answering may not be conducive to anyone else's feeling of how they like their answers, but I have no sympathy for that - I'm not explaining it for their benefit. I'm the one stuck dealing with my mind.

My mind likes things explained very simply. And THEN - once it's got the foundation locked back in - then it goes spinning wheeling kaleidoscopic skyscraper towers of intricate indestructible colored glass, to pierce clouds and send rays of interrogatives to the waiting stars.

Why Is YOUR HIGH SCHOOL in Wikipedia?

Go check! Is your High School in wikipedia? WHY is your high school in wikipedia?

Mine is. Therefore I assume everyone's is. And I assure you, my high school, love it though I do, is non-notable.

Isn't there supposed to be some "notability" requirement? Don't people with really marginal bands constantly bitch about their wikipedia article being deleted for their band being insufficiently "notable"? Aren't these people pathetic? But more to the point, aren't there roughly five high schools in every county? Are high schools not therefore, roughly as notable as KFC franchises?

I don't know, wikipedia. You tell me.

Thought of the Day: Flattery and What It Will Get You

We flatter ourselves that the people who share our tastes are intelligent.

Morbidity v. Vanity

Do the really high-end morticians also do liposuction?

And what do you call that, "cosmetic autopsy"?

Alcohol PSA

We all have to take the occasional headache, for the sake of being an ebullient contributor to the convivial atmosphere! Whenever we gather 'round a table with those we'd rather not, and the awkwardness of words yields to the awkwardness of pointed looks and finally to the awkwardness of averting one's eyes entirely, only one thing can come pouring into the cracks between us and fill them up to the tippling top! Only one soothing elixir serves as the fixative that sticks us each to each other as we douse the fuse of that ticking bomb of unpleasantness, put a balm on that sore topic and get everyone's minds on something else for God's sake. Something fucking pleasant for once! That one and only thing, the savior of many an evening, OUR FRIEND ALCOHOL. The Convivializer™!
Testimonial Girl #1: "When my friends and I had alcohol, that one guy that Charise always brings stopped being such a dick all the time and he was actually pretty funny! We had sex."

Testimonial Girl #2: "That was the best time we ever had at Choozy's! The band was awesome, and I can't believe Dani and Ash left together, she hates him!"

Testimonial Guy #1: "Alcohol made the difference for my evening out. I think I'm in love! I need to drink more often. It helps me let down my inhibitions, my standards and my friends!"
That's about all you and I need to hear, gentlemen and friends, ladies and lovers! Alcohol! It makes every night out seem better!

Friday, June 19, 2009

The High Cost of What Some of Us Might Not Be Willing to Consider

I guess I don't really think about life in terms of what it might cost me. Perhaps even...the ultimate price.

The final price.

Am I willing to pay that?

I don't know. But if it does come to that, I'm definitely getting a receipt.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thought of the Day: Under Rare Conditions

It is sometimes possible to succeed in spite of good advice.

The New IHOP Is Now Officially Open!

That's the International House Of Pancakes, for those of you not hip to the foreign cuisine.

Here's another tip for you: bring your own syrup. They have six different flavors of syrup, and none of them is maple.

I bring my own. I bring it in what they call a hip flask. A BIG ONE. Because I like a lot of Pure Maple Syrup. Do you have any idea how hard a hip flask is to clean out, once you fill it up with pure maple syrup?

Here's another tip for you: the only thing that'll work? Pure Whisky.

I heavily recommend the technique.

I Am A Restroom-Stall Toe-Tapper

I am and have for a long time now been a restroom-stall toe-tapper. There's precious little of my time when I can't find an unoccupied corner of my mind to devote to music composition, to songwriting, to kicking around rhythms, melodic bits, harmonic shifts and lyrical slips. Especially when one is deeply engaged on the commode, what else is there to do but let the mind wander and the creativity loose?

Yeah. I write songs on the crapper. If a good bit sticks to the inside of my skull, after the flush and long enough for me to soap up and wash hands, towel-try and walk back (whistling and skipping) to my hard-core workstation - and boy, I assure you, I become grimmer with every step! My face sets with work-hardened determination!, but I will take a second aside as I slide into my power chair, to jot down or record whatever snippet proved worthy to stick. And then it's back to work!

So yes, when I'm sitting there on the shitter, mind running permutations on musical formulae, you damn better bet I get my toe tapping to the tune only I can hear, as it tumbles itself into a more fully-cohered composition!

Now imagine my surprise at this next part. And to some of you, who haven't heard about this, I apologize for the indelicacy of what I'm about to reveal to you. But it's something I need to tell you, because frankly, it's kind of rude. Kind of presumptuous.

Apparently, toe-tapping, when seated in a restroom stall, is considered to be "code move," to signal others as to your willingness to participate in an oral sex act. Yes. It's true. It's been agreed, without my knowledge! Nobody cleared this by me! It was all worked out behind my back, but supposedly the fact of me innocently, joyously tapping my toes now means that I sign on for this. Giving or getting, I don't know. I'm guessing giving, because otherwise you pretty much wouldn't need an arranged signal would you? Whose toe wouldn't be tapping! Willing recipients are always going to outnumber willing donors.

But that's still bullshit, because what a dumb signal! NO SALE! I'm sure I can't be the only person who has music in his mind and soul, tappin' the toe a bit as I do what I came there for. And now I'm second-guessing all those moments of friendly decency, people you bump into on the way out. "Hey. How you doing?" "HEY, man! I'm doing great! Thanks for asking!" - vwoop out the door! And I'd be walking away all happy, "wow, that total stranger sure seemed friendly! Hope for the world yet!"

I feel horrible about the whole thing. I must have been getting a whole lot of hopes up, over the years! And then - DASH.

Well unfortunately, that's too bad. I won't stop tapping. I got the music in me.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

the rowers home

the rowers home are bound; they row
with purpose
each as sure as each

united in direction and belief
that home
is within reach

each rower solitary, each alone,
they pull
as one

their boats are scattered evenly, and all
towards the sun

each rower, facing backwards
the wake, behind

the sea is fine like isinglass,
and endless to the eye and mind

the long haul calls not urgency
but confidence, and constant nerve

bending backs, with even pulls
steady toil, strength conserved

pull onward, towards a destination
none can see and none have known

a sea of scattered boats, a sea
of lookers back

and rowers home

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lately I've Been Fascinated by the Pulp Heroes of Yore

Mostly Doc Savage and the Shadow.

I don't know hardly a damn thing about these guys, but I've become obliquely fascinated by them anyhow. I know the Shadow can cloud men's minds, so that he cannot be seen. Also, that he knows what evil, lurks in the hearts of men!!! HAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

But shit, everybody knows that.

Anyhow, I have no idea what the deal is with Doc Savage. Man of Bronze, I believe.

It's all kind of...fascinating.

Quote of the Day

"For well you know that of this life
There comes but lewd and bitter strife
And death of men, and great travail."
- Guinevere to Lancelot, at the last

Props Where Props Are Due

This is a great video. I'm not the first person to go all Dinosaur Jr. on the damn bandwagon and all but, this shit's winning me over on warmth and humor points:

Not a bad song, either! The more I get into Neil Young, the more I like me some Dinosaur Jr.

Man, I Wasn't In A Wine Mood...

...but after drinking all this WINE I sure am!


I had a friend, she and I dran k wine.

Drinking wine my myself, it's like you forget the bottle. Next it;s y- it's liker you'rer pretendinbg to tpye all drun and stuff

Another Poet Dies Plying His Trade, Heroically

I deal in delightful abstractions. I
make rowboats out of windsaws
and then set them tumbling, to the
boisterous delight of the children,
whom I also proceed to set tumbling.

I paint elephants out of glass and stars,
I wind strings around the wind and
kick my heels to a beat that is neither
sound nor rhythm, but perhaps snow.

I let the rain rain down on its own. I
neither approve of it nor aid it in
any way. I rebuke the moon, for its
importunity. It retires each night, abashed.
Then some nights it won't show its face
at all, but it always comes back.

I break the week in seven places, and
observe my little rituals which mean
so much to no one: cup here, saucer
and give me a kiss! I pour cream from
a little pitcher and the steam rises sweet
to someone's lips.

I walk downtown and observe the sky,
it falls softly between buildings and
so do I

I get back up from where my shoe was untied
and I set myself up, just in time to
catch a sigh from a passing lady, painted
like a very understated clown - you
could hear her sighing a mile away,
and you'd wonder what got her down

but don't ask - I did, that was my mistake
and as her eyes began to flash I knew
I should have couched my meaning in
a metaphor
or two

Is It OK to Rob a Bank?

I mean, is that one of those things these days where people are like "it's no big deal?"

I keep losing sight of where the line in the shifting sands is drawn, in today's anything-goes, no independent moral standards world.

I'm pretty sure it's OK. Almost every time in a movie, the bank robbers are the good guys, right?

That's got to be some sort of leading indicator.

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Better

It's better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all.

It's better to have loved and lost, than to have misjudged the turn on the Coast Highway and gone careening through the guardrail and over a cliff.

It's better to have loved and lost, than to have been framed for rape and lynched to death on the courthouse steps.

It's better to have loved and lost, than to have awoken into a nightmarish reality where all that we see and know is in actuality nothing but incredibly realistic CGI.

It's better to have loved and lost, than to have a government sniper centering his crosshairs right over your noggin in his telescopic sight.

It's better to have loved and lost, than to have to be put in one of those moral test "no win" situations where somebody's going to die regardless, and you have to choose who (and choosing yourself like the big hero you are is disallowed).

It's better to have loved and lost, than to find out you have an incurable disease.

It sucks to have loved and lost, though. I would say if it's a choice between having loved and lost, and getting a sharp poke in the eye with a stick - as long as you don't lose the eye, I'd take the stick.

And actually...on the one ahead of that?

It kind of depends on the disease.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

It's Cry Time!

I always hate when somebody says words to the effect of "it's okay to cry" or "don't be afraid to cry" or "it takes a real man to cry." What am I: a puss? I cry all the time! It ain't no thing to me, to cry! Like something like that could intimidate a dude like this.

I cry my ass off at the drop of the hat. It's not your show tears either - though I can do those too! I could have been an actor! Or more realistically, an actress, since in this sexist paradigm-touting movie industry in which we live today, that's not what you hire actors for. But no, these tears I cry are not for show, they're seated in the deep and wrenching emotions that I can summon forth at will. I'm like a world-class athlete with my emotions, it's like I'm in training - when I cry, it's like I'm doing reps. I get an endorphin rush. My emotions are so ripped I can go on a grueling marathon crying jag without breaking a sweat, which is good because that moisture is needed elsewhere. Sometimes I can cry for days and after that I'm still crying. I drink a special gatorade-like concoction of my own devising to replace the water and pound the electrolytes. No one can cry like me. I am in peak emotional condition.

Well, that's not entirely true. I'm in great emotional condition. Peak, for me, was back in '96. One time I walked into a Virgin Megastore, slapped on the headphones, and started crying to an Elton John tune. That's discipline. That's will.

It was "The One" - a good tune! Doesn't get a lot of play these days.

You In Britain Call Them 'Tins'

Whereas we here in America call them, 'cans.' Which makes a bit more sense to me, since while they are in fact cans, they are not in fact made out of tin. Historically, maybe so! But history is a whore, with her eyes turned always sideways, slantwise back towards the past! Which neatly discredits that argument.

But anyway, back to these tins. I had a question to ask, and maybe some of you can back me up on this. You'll note that these days almost all of them come with the easy-pop tab top. All you have to do is manipulate the tab into a good "pull!" position, give it a good pull, and SHTLORPT! the entire contents come sliding right out onto the kitchen counter! Arguably, that's not the fault of the design - you weren't supposed to be holding it upside down.

Look, that's not what I want to get into, here. Nor the devastating effect of this innovation on the innocent tin-opener manufacturing industry - I imagine some modern Dickens even now slaving away at his magnum opus wherein some oddly-named tot finds himself in dire straits because pappy lost his job at the tin-opener factory. And he's in a real bind too, 'cause he can't play an instrument, but then Mark Knopfler takes pity and teaches him a few beautiful blues moves on that sweet Strat of his. Soon his burgeoning fame and fortune have saved the day financially, but is our young hero happy now? No, what I wanted to talk about is this: the lid of the tin comes right off. One good yank! Are we to believe that this doesn't call the integrity of the seal into question? Will we still be able to rely on tinned goods as the shelf-stable shelter staple of our science-fiction post-apocalyptic potboilers set far into the future?

Another troubling question: the expiration on the bottom of this thing reads Jan 2011. Are we really expected to believe that this whole involved post-society society, with its elaborate tattered fashions and dread mythic rituals built up around worshipping that fake-looking rat (who turned out to be a computer!) - all of that evolved over something like 20-30 months? Come on! And I don't care if it is the apocalypse - who puts a computer in a rat?

Even given it is the apocalypse, I'm sure you have more pressing needs for your expertise and resources than to put a computer into a rat.

Our Bed

I always think of this as "our bed" - even though you've never been in it. Even though you've never even seen it. It's still ours. Our bed: that's what I call it, so to me, that's what it is. I call it ours, because I stole the money from you to buy it. That makes it part yours, part mine. Some might argue more yours than mine, since all the money to buy it came from you. But that's a jaundiced view, and one that ignores all the work I put into getting this bed: going to stores. Looking at various beds, picking out the nicest one. Delivery arrangements. And of course, stealing the money from you in the first place. You didn't make it particularly easy.

You never knew I was stealing money from you, I know. It wasn't in retaliation, a one shot thing late in the game on the way out the door because I knew no other way to hit out at you. No, it was more just something I did, built up after long habit. I've always stolen from the ones I've loved. Not items and such, I'm not a kleptomaniac! Just money.

I save it up, mostly. I don't have a drug habit or a fashion habit or anything like that to support. I don't really spend enough to justify stealing money. So I save it.

I don't know why I'm telling you this except, I feel like after everything that happened...I don't want you to blame yourself more than you should. I feel like you blame yourself. I want you to know that you're not the bad one. Or at least, not the only one.

It's not just the stealing. I've also been known to lie. From time to time, like to make someone feel better?

But they're not often very convincing lies.

An Inventory of Wishes

Just wishing you a beautiful day, or as seems more likely where you are, a beautiful night! But carry the wish over to a beautiful morning, and then the day that follows, beautiful as well.

Wishes are fragile things, yet somewhat elastic.

Think back now over the wishes you have made in your life. How many came true when you weren't looking? How many refused to, no matter that you never stopped trying. How many were made desperately, devoutly in one moment, and then - miracle- fulfilled! Within so short a space that they seemed foreordained and perhaps, credit given to fate that really should have gone to the wish.

And then look out and think of every walking, working, wondering body, surrounding the space around you, each moving in separate trajectory, each a repository of wishes - not like yours, though?

Who can say?

All we get to see is what came true.

My wish for you: that there is beauty for you to see, in everything you ever or never wished for, and in all that came true.

I Love This Song!

But I was confused at the time, I thought Groovejet was the name of the act, and the song was "If This Ain't Love." Apparently the name of the act is Spiller, "Groovejet" is the name of the song and "(If This Ain't Love)" is merely the subtitle.

A pity on one hand, because Groovejet would have been an awesome name for a band that could reliably sound like that. But Spiller is good too, referring to Cristiano Spiller, reputedly the world's tallest Italian DJ at the time (that's him in the video).

I Can't Put My Guitar Away

I can't put my guitar away. I can't. It has no case. I bought it specifically for that purpose. To not be able to be put away. To have its slender neck accessible to caress with an immediate grab, throw the strap over my shoulder and GO AT IT!

I bought it specifically for that purpose. In the store they were like, "do you want a case for that?" and I said no, that's OK, I already have two.

And the guitars inside them are inaccessible.

It's that extra step. I don't know what it is with me, but flipping the clasps open on my class-A dreadnought hardshell to lift the bulletproof lid and retrieve my precious and beautiful sleek, mirror-black Fender Acoustic (thank you again, Christine, really, without you what would I be? think about it before you answer) from within the plush, sable-carpeted depths of its dark, cool interior; or even just grabbing the soft black nylon of my gig bag and unzipping its stiffened length to pull forth my gleaming amber Gibson SG (oh okay, Epiphone SG. It's Gibson-compatible)...I don't know what it is about me. I can't do it!

No, not true. I can, I could, I don't. For some reason that intermediate step puts me off. I hate to get my guitar from the case and start to play with it - but once its in my hands, strings and fingers make a perfect fit, and I don't understand how I could ever put it down! And it's so easy, that I don't care how it sounds.

Well I hate to have to do something, but oh I love to get it done. And once I'm "in the moment," I don't want the next to ever come. I don't know the reason, I'm not lazy I don't think? See I've got staggering ambition, I've just had too much to drink of that sweet, sweet procrastination.

Sleep, Delicious Sleep!

So nice to sleep in on the weekends. I just awoke at 10:39! How lovely. I can't recall a single dream I might have dreamt, they've all drawn their dream-tendrils in and slithered glitteringly back to the steam and misty terrains of Unconscia.

Sometimes if you grab a tendril and hold it fast, right when you wake, you can retain your memory of the dream. And if you anchor yourself in wakeaday-land and pull hard on that tendril, sometimes you can pull the whole dream back out again and examine it. Write it down.

They kind of hate that though. They like to slide off your memory like chloroform oil, disappear back into the rich loam of your brain's subconscious, to reemerge perhaps in altered or true form on some unsuspecting night. Dream memory revels in its slipperiness. It doesn't like to be dragged into the light of waking examination and waking memory, where it can be retained. Interpreted.

Thinking about fixing some breakfast.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Here's a Tip for All You Grilled-Cheese Sandwich Fans!

Are you like me? Do you love yourself a cheese-grilled sandwich? (and hey, anybody else see Affliction?) Well if you do or you don't, here's a little trick I learned about. A sweet tip for you!

A lot of the time, these days they put a little square of paper between the cheese slices, in the package. Now I'm not saying that you're an idiot or anything, or that you don't know that - I'm not saying I'm an idiot, I'm not saying I don't know that. Nobody's saying anybody's an idiot, here, with the possible exception that there might be an idiot or two at the cheese factory. When I was a kid we just peeled each slice off careful, and any parts that tore off and stuck to the slice were bonus bits! But anyhow, that's the little trick I learned about, that little trick they do for you. A little slip of paper in there. Not behind every slice, I don't think! But between most of them. It certainly is an interesting trick! And here's me sharing it with you, just a tip, a tip for you from me. Take it for whatever it's worth.

Mmmmm, I do love me a cheese-grilled sandwich.

"It's called a grilled cheese sandwich you dumb -"


Fatalists and Optimists Unite

I think I can probably squeeze another two years out of my ex-girlfriend. But after that, we're probably doomed to get back together.

Her loss.

AC/DC...They're Not Superstitious

Pulled Out Another Awesome Save!

Man, last night I was all ready to write up a post to the effect of, "I just wrote a song that's LAME. And it's depressing, 'cause I haven't done that in a while. And it often is a sign of a whole patch of lame songs to come. And what a bummer."

No, I'm serious. I was going to do it. But it was a little too fresh a disappointment, I couldn't ratchet up the motivation to cop to it just then.

So today in the cold light of morning, I awoke, and I reassessed its defects.

1. A bit too similar to the previous song I completed straight through from scratch ("Figured Out All"), in certain respects and effects.
2. Good verse lyrics, clever and tart - but not a good match to the concept, the pain, the world the refrain is living in.
3. Great refrain!

Technically, #3 is not a defect, but also technically, it is. Because if a great refrain doesn't fit, it's not helping! Even though the refrain came first. It still has to fit.

So this morning (cold light, as I said) I played it through a few times. Hey! Not bad. A good, bouncy groove, and melodically pretty sweet. Some very good lyrical turns. I was happy playing it, even though it was no great shakes and I swore there was more potential there that was being stunted. But it was not a bad song. Good enough? A keeper? Filler? Should I settle for that? And if not - what to do? Re-write ALL the verse lyrics to the same melody? Re-do the verse melody/chords, to avoid that twinge of similarity (which is ridiculous, because really they're nothing alike structurally, they just have a similar jaunty effect)?

Or Plan B: jettison the verse entirely. Write a new verse with chords in a different direction, and lyrics that speak right straight to the point of what I guess in retrospect I must have been trying to duck the night before, with clever wordplay.

Plan B rules. I love this song! It was previously called "That's Not All," but now it is called: "The Rest..."

The old verses can always hang around the depot on the lookout for a refrain that better suits 'em. I still like them a lot. And honestly, the similarity issue isn't even there without the refrain. It's hard to explain, an odd effect. The verses of song A and song B, compared to each other verse to verse, not particularly similar. The refrains, again, not all that similar (they both put a stress on the word "all," but so what? So does "You Shook Me All Night Long" - and a million other great songs that are hardly knockoffs of each other). But there was something strange about the way the verse and the refrain of each song fit together, that created an illusion of similarity. The bopping along verse and soar/chime chorus effect - too close, even though the bops were different paths and the soars different trajectories.

And now? Problem 100% solved! This new song is so much better than the old version (last night = "old" apparently)! And I'll be honestly, while all that nutsy-bolt stuff is important, I don't think all this song mechanics crap is the real factor. The biggest difference is the words. I forget how effective it can be to have words that hit what you're talking about dead-on. I love a good oblique lyric as much as the next guy, I love some impressionistic or abstract imagery, but sometimes you need to cut the crap.

Or anyway, I do.

"Boo yah" - in my FACE, song!

Friday, June 12, 2009

It's too bad about Joan.


Further Listening: Jarvis Cocker's "Further Complications"

Brace yourselves lads and lasses, Jarv's spanking new platter is even more of a corker (and more in need of a spanking!) than his previous disc. And that's saying something. In fact, I'll come right out and put into words what it's saying: "Men, Women and Infants recoil in awe at the all-conquering, transcendently abominable spectacle that this man's shadow throws across the cosmos. Jarvis Cocker, you are some kind of unspeakable rock star."

That's what it's saying verbatim.

With his brand-new beard and a more sedate blazer this time out of the box, this emaciated twerp comes across like some weedy pimp of academia - the tenured professor of ROCKING YOUR UNDERGRATUATE FACE OFF. Tenured professor? Hell, he's the department chair. And he kicks himself right out from under you at unpredictably opportune moments - just when you think you might be getting to know him. He comes whispering loud and lovingly in your ear, wielding his soft and insinuating yet burly baritone, splitting hearts like logs as he stocks up against the coming winter's chill. This guy's not safe for any of us.

You know, I don't think there is a worse album review on the planet than what I've got working so far right now. And I'm not even a Pulp fan! I think I'll come back and try again later when I'm feeling less diametrically biased.

Ah, but what am I going to say? This album is top notch. I've heard it a good ten times through already, but the overkill wasn't necessary*. It grabbed me from the first. It's interesting because I'm not sure Further Complications has the emotional sweep and peak of the one or two best numbers from Jarvis - but I'm not even sure I can say that. It may just be a different palette of emotions going on. Some emotionally bleaker tones overall, perhaps - but also piquant and dripping with unexpected juices!

"Further Complications" kicks the album off right with a thumping, choogling snarl. It impressed me as setting a great tone right off, but as I grooved my way giddily into it, the back of my mind assumed that it would be followed by a stately parade of downtempo numbers (such as characterized the previous album). Far from it. In fact, by the end of the album the title track felt like maybe the least impressive song on there. And I reiterate: it was impressive. A "thumping, choogling snarl"! But instead of the expected fluke, it proved a true tone-setter; this album had some serious rocks to get off. "Angela" is a smutty little number - or is it some kind of rude lament? Comes on like a sassy classic rock n' roll ode to carnality whose time had come and gone, and is now telling its tale with a tragic hint and a leering lilt of innocence. How good is Jarvis at exactly this?

I am so glad this album rocks. There are some strong ballad-type numbers - songs like "Leftovers" and "Hold Still" hold down Ft. Gorgeous in proud, sad, conflictedly-uplifting fashion. "Leftovers" is a slinky and heartbreaking delight, a seduction predicated on accentuating the negative ("I Never Said I Was Deep" takes a similar tack a bit too far, but by then it's too late to mind). But a handful of standout ballads aside, the large majority of the numbers stomp and romp like an R&B army on the march. I laughed all the way through "Homewrecker!" - not because it is bad, but because it is just so "BAAAAAD" - bad bad Leroy Brown bad, so bad it's SUPABAD bad. It's those horns. "Fuckingsong" is potentially the ultimate paean to romantic disconnect - to how much you want to give the person you'll never get - but with the hilarious touch of acknowledging that well, you sort of both know you're really better off! A knowing serenade, that knows consummation is devoutly NOT to be wished. Funny and crazy-seeming (because who ever acknowledges such a thing?), but ultimately far saner than the million and one run of the mill worlds-apart, overcome-everything, "you and me against all odds will unite and wage great love" songs. Jarvis puts all his all into his swing to sell this one, saying essentially: take me as a song (I'm better that way).

I don't know any songwriter like this guy. His humor is always there, scathing himself not least of all (Jarvis is never more vicious than when he's kidding himself), but not even the most ridiculous premise or aside can undermine the song's success (witness "Caucasian Blues"). It's never a joke - even if it's a wonderful joke. On some level, the song remains somehow - often, desperately - serious. He (I mean in his capacity as "the guy in the song") is extremely funny, but also often sad, wrenchingly pathetic, and the songs can't come across as "funny songs." What they are is wonderful. He is a great songwriter.

As I've observed before, I'm not always sure what he means, but he means it so hard that it hardly matters.

Is the Queen reading? Knight this guy already.

Doodeloo #21: When the mouse laughs at the cat there is a hole nearby.

(Nigerian proverb)

Epic Danger Is More Than My Forte: It's My Métier

Suddenly a crack shattered the valley, a razor-straight split that shot from peak to peak of the ranges east and west of Cardinal River. It came with a deafening clap, and a flash of light like lightning - and in fact, in the aftermath of the terrific force released by the splitting of five miles of bedrock from ridge to valley floor to mountain peak, as Cardinal River halved itself into twin waterfalls pouring over the cliffs of the newborn chasm, stiff fingers of brittle lightning uncurled and groped out at the suddenly smoky air. Spot fires could be seen, flickering here and there in the dry forest.

But within minutes, all such sights were rendered vividly trivial by what came next. Boiling and pouring up out of the crack itself was a horror never before witnessed: hordes and rivers of beings which, while roughly man-sized, were of no shape familiar to the surface of this planet. Later observations would describe them: skin of fleshy pinkish color with a sickening grey sheen; trilaterally symmetrical; three muscular arms ringing a central bulbous head teeming with long, weaving, whisker-like filaments the color of exposed veins, but with no other visible sensory organs; three slender legs radiating out from the bottom of the creatures' trunks, with underneath and between them a hideous pink-red tail - if it was a tail - like a thick, pulsating worm.

But all such observation came later. In the horror of their coming, it was impossible to take them in as individual specimens. Not in those first moments, as eyes and minds rebelled at the spectacle of their sheer teeming numbers, as a bee-swarm noise of clicking and gibbering molested the senses of the poor, peaceful citizens of that bucolic valley; as tumbling masses of bilious invaders came roiling forward and outward, overwhelming sanity and opposition with the casual ease of a tsunami breakfasting on a shantytown. Their bodies and especially their arms had a horrific physical strength - the stubby, writhing, dry fingers of their brute hands could tear flesh. They moved faster than the mind could accept.

In the end, it was me who killed them. I killed them all. With my bare hands, and despite all their high-tech weaponry. Which was not evident at first, by the way. The weaponry. It turns out they were carrying various devices in their black and purple tri-fanny packs. But even outnumbered as I no doubt was, and even with all those sonic spritzers and weird-ray emitters, all their advantages availed them naught. It was me who saved the day, in that dire hour for humanity. With my bare hands - and a little help from my wilderness friends!

I don't mind the effort and the sacrifice. Or the thankless task. The heroism I am occasionally called upon to perform is a small price to pay, for the sweet and peaceful gift of the everyday, that unspools between cataclysms.

Ahhh. Life: sweet as hell, and well worth fighting for.

After I finished mopping up the surface contingent, I walked straight over to the crack, peered thoughtfully into its abyssal depths, took a big ol' step over the edge, and dropped right in. I'll let you know how that worked out for them, later on.

You can just about guess, I bet!