A fly. “A friggin fly!” Must’ve come in from the garage.
Where did I put that flyswatter? Kitchen. In the kitchen, idiot. “Ah. There it is.” Okay got the swatter. Bet the booger is gone now. That’s okay. Leaves me in peace.
I’m gonna get that sucker. Don’t see him.
Aha, there he is buzzing merrily, looking for a place to poop. “Geezowie. Summich is huge!” That a fly or a friggin bat?
Soon as he lands, he’s done!
“C’mon you summich, land!”
“Land, you filthy bastid!”
“No guts, eh?”
Sommich is driving me nuts!
Ah! Quiet. Well, back to work, until Super Fly makes up his mind. Or runs out of fuel. Maybe I’ll get this blog done. Get a cup of coffee first. Wonder if there’s any of that apple bread left?
Shoot. No apple bread. But hot coffee. “Now. Let’s get this post edited.”
Back! “Crap. Left the swatter in the kitchen.” Summich landed on the printer. Can I get the swatter and get back before he takes off? Don’t be stupid. Of course I can’t!
“Gone Eh? Wassamatter? Scairt?” Ah, well, the edit.
“Aha! Back on the printer. Imma get you, you big sucker!”
Summich has radar. Or sonar, or something.
On the desk. “Stay still big boy. Stay still. Nothing happening here.”
There! Got the bastid! “Aw geeze, broke the damned swatter!”
What! Another one?
Geeze! Lookit the size of this one! That a fly or bat? Coming right at me. Aiming for my forehead… “Ouch! What the?” What the?
Summich is wearing a crash helmet! That smarts!
No flyswatter. Newspaper. Yeah, that’ll do it. Wait. We don’t get a newspaper anymore. Okay. Magazine. Yeah. Roll it up. “Eh. Wait. I read this one? Oh yeah. ‘Economic downturn in Asia forebodes closer ties with China…’” Expendable. Roll it up good and tight. Good heft… On the bookcase.
Missed! “Land you filthy vermin!” I hear someone laugh?
I did, I heard someone… something laugh! The fly? “No!” On the window. Steady… Easy…
It did! The damned thing laughed! “Oh, you like the window, eh? You just stay right there.”
Crap! Broke the window! Where is he? I can hear him.
“Aha! in the foyer! Land you coward, land!” Oho! On the table. Wide open. Careful… Careful… The top is glass.
[FWOMP! Crash! Thud. Tinkle, tinkle, crunch!]
“Ouch.” Damn. That floor is hard. Think I messed-up my arm breaking my fall. “But I got you, you ugly devil!” Geeze, that’s gonna upset the Boss. She likes that table. Well, liked that table. “Yikes!” Yikes! That arm hurts!
Oh shit! Another one!“ Impossible.” Impossible! This one’s even bigger. Size of a Warthog!
Maybe the twelve gauge.3 Lemme see where is it? Upstairs closet or in the safe? Safe, I think. Yeah. Here we go. Heavy. Arm must be broken. Okay, I can do this with one arm.
Damned thing followed me. Or there’s two of them! I’m outnumbered! Shells. Need shells. Ah, in the safe. Evil things are breeding. Warthogs4 breed?
Where is the summich? Upstairs? Nope. Office? Nope. Foyer? Nope. Kitchen? Aha! On the microwave door. “Hold still you filthy monster! Hold still!”
[CRASH. TINKLE. ZZZT-ZZZT! MMMM-ZZZT! POP!]
Crap. “Oh shit!” This is gonna take some explaining. Never mind the insurance. Or the cops. The Boss is gonna have me committed. After she slices me Adam’s apple to sit-down5 with that famous scalding look.
1 Swearing the way it is done in real life, by real cowboys, sailors, and used-car salesmen. Not real life in that this is an accurate report of real events. Fiction, kiddies, fiction.
2 So’s you know: [this] is a sound, like from our antagonist. Foley stuff. This is our protagonist thinking. This: … is a pause in the action. Pretend this is a rough stageplay script, less stage direction.
3 If you feel it necessary I warn you this is a flight of fancy and not something even remotely advisable, you are a complete, blinking, idiot. A moron. “Blinking idiot” might just be your finest trait. Stop reading, find a nice soft place to lie down, and wait for mommy to come home. Mommy will find you something safe to do.
4 Warthog. Not the cuddly little creature from the swamps and mesquite snarls. The A10.
5 Adam’s apple to sit-down. Stem to stern. Top to bottom. Nadir to zenith. Or as daddy used to say, “armpit to a**hole.” Daddy wasn’t one to mince words. Whereas I, you notice, tend to be genteel.
Many tales are told today to children in the manner of Aesop1, to impart morality, common sense, and understanding of the ways of the world. These tales fail their purpose. Miserably. They paint life innocuously. In colors not true to real life. Life has bumps and bruises. Nicks and scrapes. Life comes with portions of sorrow and tears every bit as often as with joy and laughter.
Sadly, over the years, most of the original stories have been modified to suit these modern ways of thinking, to not offend, to carefully instruct children in the most benign way. They lie to children. Adults happily allow, encourage this.
Again sadly, this is unfair to children.
Let us set this right.
The Lion and the Mouse
A hugely ferocious lion was walking his territory in the hills of Italy.2 You know, in late summer. Verdant spring and early summer vegetation had given way to somewhat dry and brittle plants. Thorns exposed themselves. Branches broke and fell with jagged edges to lay about underfoot like so much scratchy carpet.
Walking thus that day, the lion scuffed his foot through the underbrush. A sharp bit of branch wedged itself deeply into his paw.
The Lion was no sissy. This pain was nothing to him. He endured and went about his business.
But lo, after a while, the splinter became first an irritation, then became infected. The lion’s paw became swollen and painful. Quite painful. So painful, the lion could not travel.
The lion sat himself down, to wish his pain to go away.
Pain does not do that. Not for you. Not for me. Not for the lion. Lest you beat pain into submission, it will stay forever.
The lion with his painfully sore paw was unable to hunt. Unable to hunt, he missed his meals. The lion grew first hungry. Soon he began to lose weight and grow weak.
Along came a mouse. A tiny little creature not even as big as the lion’s paw. Hardly as big as the lion’s smallest paw pad.
Frightened, but emboldened because the lion did not immediately take notice of him, the mouse dared speak to the lion.
“What is the matter, Lion? Are you ill? “
“Why do you ask, Mouse?” grumbled Lion.
“You have not roared at me. You have not threatened me.”
“Mouse, my paw is dreadfully sore. I cannot walk on it. I cannot hunt. I am starving. I fear I should die soon!”
“Lion, I can bring you food!”
“You are but a mouse! What food can you manage?”
“Nuts. Beards of grain. Berries.”
“That is not lion food. Eating such, I would still starve, Mouse.”
“Then, it seems, Lion,” said Mouse, “you must heal your paw.”
“I cannot see to pull the twig from my paw. If I saw it, I could not grab it with my teeth. It is tiny and beyond my skills.”
“I can do this for you,” suggested Mouse. “Show me your wound.”
Lion rolled his paw over to show its soft pads with the fiery red swollen one prominent.
“It is dark here in the shade, Lion,” said Mouse. “Lift your paw high above the shadows so the sun will make it easier to see.”
“Augh! It is so high, Lion, I cannot see it now! What are we to do?”
“I do not know,” replied Lion.
“I know!” exclaimed Mouse. “Lift me with your other paw into the sun beside your wounded paw so I can see exactly what the problem is.”
Lion wrapped his unhurt paw around mouse, fully surrounding mouse’s little body with that paw until only Mouse’s head showed. Lion lifted Mouse up to closely examine the wounded paw.
“Oh! There! I see the thorn, Lion!” said Mouse. “I will have it out in but a moment!”
And Mouse did remove the splinter. “Why, Lion,” Mouse said, “you will be very much better soon and off hunting again. What do you make of this little mouse now, Sir?”
1 Okay, Aesop was Greek. Not so much a big deal. It’s all Mediterranean. Long ago, who was to quibble over a few miles and some ocean? Odd you should waffle over such an innocuous fact, while having no qualms about leading children to believe the world is an entirely benign place?
2 Do not take me to task for the inaccuracy of a lion in Italy. Speak directly with Aesop.
Molte storie vengono raccontate oggi ai bambini alla maniera di Esopo1, per impartire moralità, buon senso e comprensione delle vie del mondo. Questi racconti falliscono nel loro scopo. Miserabilmente. Dipingono la vita in modo innocuo. In colori non fedeli alla vita reale. La vita ha urti e contusioni. Tacche e graffi. La vita arriva con porzioni di dolore e lacrime tanto spesso quanto con gioia e risate.
Purtroppo, nel corso degli anni, la maggior parte delle storie originali sono state modificate per adattarsi a questi modi di pensare moderni, per non offendere, per istruire attentamente i bambini nel modo più benevolo. Mentono ai bambini. Gli adulti lo consentono felicemente, incoraggiatelo.
Ancora una volta, purtroppo, questo è ingiusto nei confronti dei bambini.
Mettiamo a posto.
Il Leone e il topo
Un leone estremamente feroce stava camminando nel suo territorio sulle colline d’Italia.2 Sapete, alla fine dell’estate. La rigogliosa vegetazione primaverile e di inizio estate aveva lasciato il posto a piante un po ‘secche e fragili. Le spine si sono scoperte. I rami si spezzarono e caddero con i bordi frastagliati per giacere sotto i piedi come tanti tappeti graffianti.
Camminando così quel giorno, il leone sfrega il piede nel sottobosco. Un pezzo di ramo affilato si incuneava profondamente nella sua piede.
Il leone non era una femminuccia. Questo dolore non era niente per lui. Ha resistito e si è preso cura dei suoi affari.
Ma ecco, dopo un po ‘la scheggia è diventata prima un’irritazione, poi si è infettata. La zampa del leone divenne gonfia e dolorante. Abbastanza doloroso. Così doloroso, il leone non poteva viaggiare.
Il leone si sedette, per augurare che il suo dolore se ne andasse.
Il dolore non lo fa. Non per te. Non per me. Non per il leone. Se non reprimi il dolore, rimarrà per sempre.
Il leone con la zampa dolorante non era in grado di cacciare. Incapace di cacciare, ha saltato i suoi pasti. Il leone divenne prima affamato. Presto iniziò a perdere peso e indebolirsi.
Poi è arrivato un topo. Una minuscola creatura nemmeno grande come la zampa del leone. Non è grande quanto la piede più piccola del leone.
Spaventato, ma incoraggiato perché il leone non se ne accorse immediatamente, il topo osò parlare al leone.
“Qual è il problema, Lion? Sei malato?”
“Perché me lo chiedi, Topo?” borbottò Leone.
“Non mi hai ruggito. Non mi hai minacciato.”
“Topo, la mia zampa è terribilmente dolorante. Non posso camminarci sopra. Non posso cacciare. Sto morendo di fame. Temo di dover morire presto!”
“Leone, posso portarti del cibo!”
“Sei solo un topo! Che cibo riesci a gestire?”
“Noccioline. Barbe di grano. Frutti di bosco.”
“Questo non è cibo per i leoni. Mangiando così, morirei ancora di fame, piccolo ratto.”
“Allora a quanto pare, Leone”, disse Topo, “devi curarti la zampa.”
“Non riesco a vedere come tirare il ramoscello dalla mia zampa. Se lo vedessi, non potrei afferrarlo con i denti. È minuscolo e al di là delle mie capacità.”
“Posso farlo per te”, ha suggerito Mouse. “Mostrami la tua ferita.”
Il leone girò la zampa per mostrare i suoi cuscinetti morbidi con quello gonfio rosso fuoco prominente.
“È buio qui all’ombra, Leone”, disse Topo. “Alza la zampa in alto sopra le ombre in modo che il sole renderà più facile vedere.”
Leone ha fatto.
“Augh! È così alto, Leone, non riesco a vederlo ora! Cosa dobbiamo fare?”
“Non lo so”, ha risposto Lion.
“Lo so!” esclamò Mouse. “Sollevami con l’altra zampa al sole accanto alla tua zampa ferita così posso vedere esattamente qual è il problema.”
Il leone avvolse la sua zampa illesa attorno al topo, circondando completamente il corpicino del topo con quella zampa finché non si mostrò solo la testa del topo. Lion sollevò Mouse per esaminare da vicino la zampa ferita.
“Oh! Là! Vedo la spina, Leone! ” disse Mouse. “Lo tirerò fuori tra un momento!”
E il topo ha rimosso la scheggia. “Adesso! Vedi, Leone,”disse Mouse,“starai molto meglio presto e tornerai a cacciare. Cosa ne pensate di questo topolino adesso, signore?”
1 D’accordo, Esopo era greco. Non è un grosso problema. È tutto mediterraneo. Molto tempo fa, chi doveva cavillare su poche miglia e un po ‘di oceano? Strano che tu debba fare le chiacchiere su un fatto così innocuo, pur non avendo scrupoli nel portare i bambini a credere che il mondo sia un posto del tutto benevolo?
2 Non sminuirmi per la precisione di un leone in Italia. Invece, dovresti parlare direttamente con Esopo.
And it’s not psychological – that deal where I assume the curmudgeon-stance while bellyaching about how manufacturers, purveyors of victuals especially, can leave components out of something and charge more for it. Decaf just doesn’t taste like, well, coffee. Tastes like medicine, unpleasant medicine. Full octane instant coffee is bad enough. Decaf is worse.
I hear the cranks out there: “It’s an acquired taste.” Reminding the taste for beer, Irish, Scotch, Bourbon, or a proper Martini is an acquired taste. Don’t know anyone who on first downing a slug of good Irish loved it.
Aficionados of these nectars manage to get over the initial turn-off. Maybe it’s the alcohol? Nah!
I get it with decaf coffee. Extra processing, I expect, to remove the caffeine.1 Still curious how reducing the sodium in a product equates to higher prices. Or eliminating sugar.
The reason I don’t like decaf coffee is because it simply tastes bad. Frankly, all instant coffee tastes bad.
Pop, years ago made “coffee” for visitors to his hacienda by boiling water, filling visitors’ cups, then passing around a spoon and the jar of instant. Always tasted bitter. Somehow off. Not right. Even loaded with sugar, milk, or artificial add-ins. We’ll exclude Bourbon, because even then, that wasn’t a morning ritual.
Pop’s visitors usually men, all of us off to some “man” thing, baling hay, hauling iron, pouring concrete – the likes of that. None of us ever complained, but in retrospect, that coffee was atrocious. We all loved it though. It was the company, the camaraderie. Think?
Lately, experiencing mild insomnia. Drink coffee until late in the afternoon. Cause? I dunno. Thought I’d give decaf a go. Tried regular brew decaf. Same disappointment. If I’m going to suffer, might as well go whole hog. So, I recently bought a jar of instant coffee. Decaf. Decaf instant coffee.
Which is stupid. I’ve done it before. Tasted crappy then. Still does.
Is there no end to my lunacy?
Coffee, real coffee and I have a life-long relationship. Mostly amicable. “Long,” if you’ve an idea how old I am2 is really long. Started as a mid-teen. Through the service, on long night shifts, put down many teletype-warm3 cups of “mud.” “Mud”? Yup. Some of it was Army-Navy-Air Force dining hall nasty.4
Same during my stint with law enforcement. Manage to snag a hot cup of coffee, just pop the lid and wait for it to be drinkable, you’d get a call to go somewhere in a hurry. No such thing as recap and save for “after.” Where you gonna keep it? How long would it be before “after”?
Suspect that history has as much to do with why I get by drinking coffee until late afternoon. Or does it? My nascent insomnia may be telegraphing me a wake-up call.
Hey, I think that’s some kind of pun.
1 First adding something – I have it on authority methylene chloride or ethyl acetate – to remove the caffeine. Boy, doesn’t that sound delicious and wholesome?
2 Go ahead amuse yourself, guess. In person, because I’m physically fit (save parts that don’t work really well anymore) and gosh awful handsome, folk generally miss my age short twenty years. Weren’t for the snow on the roof, I could go back to college. Oh, and I’m modest too. No end to my charm.
3 Teletype warm. Waiting in the comm center for a break to send some schmuck off across the flight line for coffee, luck would always have it, he’d return with the precious liquid just as the half-hourly flurry of messages arrived or an alert put us hard at it for two or three hours, no time to slurp coffee or even as nature has it, to get shed of the last cup or two we’d managed. Coffee cups went atop the teletype machines to wait. Teletypes generated a lot of heat, but teletype-warm means the coffee would be a lot warmer after consumption and processing, especially in winter. But we needed that coffee on dread shifts. Yeah, I’m a fan of iced coffee, but that’s entirely different and there’s a principle involved here.
4 With respect to service chow halls and messes, in the olden days, when servicemen were cooks for their branches of service, food there (aside from field rations) was marvelous. Especially Navy chow, but Air Force and Army grub was always good too. I don’t care what you’ve been led to believe. I traveled a fair bit, so I got to try them all. Enough so’s I can state we’re not talking about outliers here. Just as I was mustering-out, branches began to use civilian food services. Lost its mystique, and a good bit of its appeal. Honest. Coffee, when fresh, was good. Three hours after brewing – in remote and lonely outposts, having steeped a whole shift – it was gross; iodine I suspect tasted better. But we drank it. No Starbucks in many of those places.
“Um. Hard of hearing. Not wearing my hearing aids.”
“Oh. What you wanna know?”
“This fabric. One piece?”
“That’d be a ‘yes.’?”
Not poking fun. Well, unh, yes, I am. But if those of you out there who are hard of hearing like me can’t take a bit of good-natured ribbing, pack it in. Go stand in the corner. Best way to survive life is to learn to laugh at yourself with yourself. Mebbe invite someone along for the ride. Life is a Harley – room for two.
So much out there you can’t change. Learn to get along with it, grow to embrace it, look forward to it – good, bad, cute, and ugly. Life is its own reward. Stop trying to make it difficult, you boob! Lighten up. Walk around brush fires and swollen creeks. Build a bridge or plow a firebreak where you can. If no one minds.
I mean it’s not like you walk with a limp, or are easily distracted by squirrels, or read “POTS for Pedestrians in Crosswalks!”
“Wouldn’t go that far.”
“Huh-yunh! Pretty soon tobacco be illegal, but Mary Jane won’t be.”
The AISE1 mid-point station suddenly wobbled erratically in black space. No other way to describe it. With no fixed point of reference, you simply assumed “wobble.” Savinsky, Gorwin, and I started our EVA to try to reach external power controls. Something was royally screwed. The station experienced power fluxes. That we knew. Those fluxes, we figured, frelled the nav system resulting in random and violent direction, attitude, and velocity changes. We couldn’t even disengage propulsion.2 An uncontrolled drift would have been better than riding an errant missile to no one knows where. It was a matter of find and fix or, well, use your imagination.
Exiting the station was easy enough. Getting to the power service unit was anything but. The exit hatch was opposite the power units – about one-hundred meters away from Savinsky and me. Still. The station, like some rodeo bull, seemed intent on tossing our butts into free space. There was not much to cling to. I’d grabbed a panel strap and nearly had my wrist broken by a sudden tremendous spin.
Already Savinsky and I’d watched our tethers snap like age-rotted rubber bands, left to dangle behind us like long spaghetti strands. We clung to anything grabbable as we made our way around the hull. Gorwin had his own problems. His tether was snarled around a solar panel arm. He was busy trying to untangle without sacrificing that last tiny bit of security.
The power surges and resulting erratic station attitude grew steadily worse. Shortly after we’d started EVA, we lost contact with Station Commander Djensen. Inside the station she probably wasn’t much better off than the three of us outside. With each radical change she likely felt like a marble in a tin can.
Savinsky and I helplessly watched Gorwin’s tether seductively wrap around his neck. The next violent station pitch tightened his tether, popping his head and headgear off like a champagne cork. So much for communicating with either Djensen or Gorwin.
Savinsky and I, space cowboys for real then, managed to make our way around the rodeo bull hull. We kept up constant conversation, more for courage and to get radio signals into deep space hoping a transport might hear and speed to our aid. Fat chance.
Reaching the power control cover panel, I discovered space-junk had smashed into the unit. After telling Savinsky, sill some thirty meters away and hidden by a solar panel bulge, I freed the cover, or what was left of it. With no shielding intact, what was inside resembled burnt toast. I lost my head. Absorbed in inspecting for hope of salvage, I let go of my handhold. As if it knew, the station unceremoniously spun and the solar panel bulge swatted me into space. I became the ultimate space traveler.
Now, I’ve no hope of getting back to the station. Not any thought either that would be a good idea, all things considered. I’ll keep chattering-away. You know, to keep up my courage and provide a radio wave beacon. I’ll stay with it until I lose power or, well, use your imagination.
1 AISE – Affiliated Interagency Space Exploits. There. Happy? Details, detail, details. This is fiction, kiddies. Duh!
Pull up a couch. When did you first suspect your shadow disliked you?
Late last night I argued with myself. That’s something of a hobby of mine. Jokes about “conversation with an intelligent soul” aside, it’s a productive diversion. Last night’s quandary? Would I enjoy a bit of insomnia or pass quickly into the arms of Morpheus?
That spirited debate was interrupted by thoughts of a creative format I used regularly in days past – working a site abandoned almost a year ago. Don’t know why it came up, it just did.1 I made mental note to delve into the concept later and went back to arguing. Gotta love a good argument.
Early this morning, the concept presented as something of a two-bird stone.
Now and again (oh brother!) we (fellow bloggers and I) brick wall. Hence “reposts.” Aside from cheating around the white-page (screen) syndrome, what struck me was the brevity of the form. Non-bloggers will assume the briefer, the easier. Not necessarily the case. Seldom, in fact, the case. Tight and accurate posts on the short side are every bit as difficult as long-winded drones. Perhaps more difficult. But that brevity is key motivation to stop staring and start writing.
Two birds? Yunh. Readers like “short.” I get it. Okay.
Since it strikes me as something worth revisiting you get to suffer. Here’s what I’m talking about –
Calipers, Blades, and Mallets
If your sorrow is heavy, ask for some help lifting.
Challenged to mind games, make sure you’re equipped.
You’ll have no friends if you can’t be one.
Pennyworth Philosopher or Nickle Philosophy
[‘Nickle Philosophy’ came to me as a “tag” yesterday. Same thing, really, but owing to inflation…]
It’s difficult to remain a gentleman when the lady can’t recognize that’s what you’re trying desperately to be.
We’ve all faced this dilemma: what on earth are you going to do when the devil himself can’t choose and runs away from both the lesser and greater of two evils?
Say! Hey! Interested to know if these abbreviated forms tickle your fancy. Yunh, that’s a self-serving poke to get you to comment. See if your keyboard works.
Oh. As soon as the pillow got comfortable with my head last night, I was gone. Out like a light. Insomnia got even in a small way, setting off some goofy internal alarm an hour and a half before normal reveille.
1 Figured it out. Yesterday’s post was a flashback. A brief little romp. Got me to thinking what might remain in “The Archives” to repost.
[Slap worn out today, so I’ll cheat with one from the archives…]
Given a choice between – take:
Laughter and crying – Laughter. It takes less energy to go from laughing to crying than it does to go from crying to laughing. If you have to transition, you sure don’t want to wear yourself out. Besides, you might learn to like laughing. A lot of folks do.
Anger and disappointment – Disappointment. Anger will make you physically ill. Disappointment will automagically have you trying to figure out how to forgive circumstances, your transgressor, or yourself and you’ll start feeling better faster.
Chocolate and vanilla ice cream – Chocolate. No-brainer, though, if you have good chocolate syrup. Or butterscotch or caramel. Syrups, and fruit preserves go better with vanilla. Unless it’s Shuffmeister’s Chocolate which is hands-down the best mix of nasty chemicals and artificial ingredients in the world – none better – in which case you can forgo the syrups and just pig-city Shuffmeister Chocolate.
Ford or Chevy – Whatever Uncle Bob drove. Remember he bought his car new in 1965. Never put a dime into it. Drove it for thirty years covering his territory for Acme-Apex depilatory devices until the wheels fell off right in front of Sparky’s junkyard. Speaks to the reliability of the badge.
Giving-up and pressing-on – Press on. Any sissy can give up. It takes real crust to give it another go. Besides, it might jerk someone’s chain to see that you’re still at it. You’ll show them. By gum!
Pizza with or without pineapple – ‘With’ all the way. You won’t have to worry about sharing with many folks. Toss on some anchovy and you might have the whole thing to yourself. Breakfast tomorrow morning, then, is leftover pizza – your leftover anchovy/pineapple pizza.
Love and hate – love. Sure, love seems to break easily. If you keep practicing, though, sooner or later you’ll hit the right giver-receiver combination and it becomes fairly-well a perpetual motion machine. Hate, on the other hand requires constant work to maintain; you keep forgetting why you hate and have to start all over again, every time.
[Originally posted to Prose July 15, 2020. Edited here.]
XBR1 LA 8,(COMP1) LA 7,(COMP2) LMJ 11,FORT1 SSC 3 JNC RET5 LR 14,ADDR TNE 14,2 JPE RECOMP AA 14,2 J $+2 RET5 SR 15,CALC7
[Cue ominous organ, stalling on final chord…]
When we last left Chaz and Larry…
“So, I said to him, Sid, I said, you can’t do that.”
“What’d he say?”
“Larry, he says to me, he says, why not, and I told him accounta she’ll slap you stupid, man!”
“What’d he do then?”
“Durned fool went and done it!”
“Did. Walked right up to her and says it all cool-like.”
“Get out! What’d she do?”
“Why, she slapped him stupid.”
[Surprised organ chords… and fade…]
Same time, next week, listeners. Meanwhile, stop into Merv’s Real Estate and Bait and Tackle to pick up a bottle of ZipFast.
And if your ride is a mite cranky, pull into Leonetti’s Autoworks Quik-Serve Lane on Division Street. Let Leonetti’s master mechanics do your worrying. They’re open Monday through Friday eight AM to six PM and Saturdays eight AM until the first pitch of the Sewakee Sonics ballgame. Remember, “Leonetti won’t steer you wrong!”
[Cue auto engine revving and speeding away. Fade to audio of bat sharply striking a baseball and a crowd roar…]
This morning I started-off on a bit of a tongue-in-cheek blast at avant guarde “writers” styling themselves after TS Eliot and ee cummings.1 That parody was in the manner of those considering themselves new masters of this style. You know, completely lacking punctuation, no fixed or rudely discernable form, and loose, incomprehensible text. The kind of stuff that immediately puts you to thinking of a Maynard G. Krebs-type, but one stoned out of his skull with no likelihood of successfully regaining sanity.2 Cue Cannabis haze, erratic bongo drums, “coffee,” and incoherent babble from the stage.
Up bubbles a short story. Perhaps at some later time. Definitely not Claxbury Corners.
But the parody? Nah. Well, it was good. Thirty percent of readers would see where I’m coming from and agree. These stodgy old coots do exist. Call them traditionalists or English teachers. Forty-five percent would be offended and disagree, not all of whom would be artists hawking this particular style. Twenty-two percent would have no clue what I was attempting, considering me insane3 or myself on hallucinogens. Ten percent wouldn’t get past the first two lines and would have to be grouped with the remaining undecided six percent.4
Abandoning the effort, it occurred to me I do that often for some misplaced altruism. Something of a shame. Determining the unfinished fluff fiction lying about was not ready for posting, I considered several other easily rant-able subjects that frequently present themselves. Following the gloomy rains of the last two days, this morning’s wonderful sunshine and the mood it engenders won’t support a good rant today.
But I did pause to consider the pet peeves at the root of these subjects. What follows is not a rant. It’s a list, not an explanation, not justification or condemnation. It’s an inventory. I may, the next grey, rainy day revisit one of them.
Folks who don’t5 punctuate, follow no real form in their writing – that’d be as good a place as any to start. Let me toss about words such as precocious, pompous, pretentious, illiterate, lazy, and egocentric. Now, having already used the words, I’ll not be tempted to deploy them explaining items in the following list. Which, big surprise, is not an all-inclusive list.
Poets and such
These folk, I want desperately to believe, are sane, reasonably intelligent people. Their emulation of the masters’ style – sans-grammar, punctuation, identifiable form, and coherence, is in most cases shabby. I’d suggest they invest some time and write something readable and meaningful.
Reading a hoity-toity food mag rag. Some good recipes and nifty ideas. Despite the fact the rag subtly tells me purple people are no longer acceptable members of society, I still read it. Read it until my paid subscription runs out. Won’t renew. Because the rag suffers from multiple maladies. Okay, it does things as so many other rags do that I just can’t tolerate.
Has a ton of adverts for highbrow dog and cat food, sanitary napkins, heartworm meds, psoriasis, schizophrenia, ADHD, and ED medications, and declarations of social causes I should embrace.
It’s a frikkien good mag!
Used to be anyway.
For cripes’ sake. Gimme ads for food, food additives, (reasonably priced) kitchen tools and appliances and décor. Let Vet Science and Legal Herbiculture suggest what overpriced dog and cat foods are in vogue, and what states most closely embrace my opinions on herbal supplement availability.
But don’t hire some “influencer” to push over-the-top appliances, décor, and responsibly sourced (and outrageously priced) ingredients, or lead me to believe I’m slicing carrots improperly unless I have a piece of $750 Czechoslovakian cutlery and a non-GMO bamboo cutting board.
Oh. The prescription medication ad picture of a recovered dictophobe, the xanotauropine that made his recovery possible and three full pages of disclaimers, warnings, and precautions. Suggesting in the end, as I suffer from dictophobia, I should ask my doctor about xanotauropine. No thanks, if my doctor has to be clued-in as to what is good for my recovery, I need a new doctor and my head further examined by a reputable shrink.
Mag ads, Part II. Had a scheme worked-out to determine the percentage of magazine devoted to unadulterated advertisements. Revenue generators for the publisher. Something of a trick as many of their style-advice, cooking-rage, cosmetic tools and chemicals, and sports equipment presentations use a two-page spread to list the latest “must-haves” including where to buy or order on-line and approximate gouge range. Called it the (SW)AI – (Proprietary) Advertisement Index. Disheartening and short of exposing myself to suit by publishing, pointless. But the results are interesting – briefly…
Advertising runs normally 30% of content. Trendier rags running nearly 60% revenue-generating ad space. Cheeky? These rags have the temerity to charge upwards of $6.95 an issue to read their ads? Rather like buying a $12.95 t-shirt emblazoned with the logo and slogan of a beer, wine, cola, or tenny-runner company.
Read an editorial in one of the fluff mags lying around Chez SPWilcen. Dewd suggested what used to be called bloggers have been renamed “stylemakers” or “influencers.” Um, really? Sorry Jack, most of these “influencers” are unoriginal twits with as much right to be telling me what diet I should be on and what color my workshop walls should be painted as I do prescribing meds.
The recipe mavens? Oh shit. That ain’t new. That’s the same pasta sauce recipe my grandmother used every second Wednesday. Will admit though if I buy the saucepan you endorse, it might taste a little different.
New names for old concepts, abbreviations, acronyms, and other aberrations
Acronyms abound. I get it. I believe in them. I use them. Seems though, we, some of us, go out of our way to be cute, clever, crafty, or whatever by making new ones.
Closely akin is declaring something that’s been around so long the dust it has collected has its own dust is a startling new discovery or concoction. Okay. I’ll allow it. Like to see credit given to the old item along with the revelation that simply, the old was left-hand threaded while the new is right-hand threaded. And don’t stoop to besmirch the old’s reputation or utility. Aside from genders beyond three, nothing new under the sun, Bubba.
I suppose this includes emojis, emoticons, and the like. I mean, if you can’t say, “I love you,” or “That made me laugh so hard I damned near wet myself,” do you really mean what the emoticon purports to represent? We’re that lazy? This of course, IMHO. 😊
Closely a**ociated is the new political correctness. D*** and Jane might today be more redaction than redundant – “Look, D***, Look! Respectfully see Jane.”
Clothes and “style”
Some of today’s fashions are beyond ugly. A valued WP correspondent recently suggested women’s fashions are designed by men who hate women. Won’t go that far myself, but it appears all the good fashion has already been exploited so fashion houses have resorted to ugly as the new beautiful.
Oh. A little skin is okay. But come on! Singers, actors, and athletes might consider developing real talent instead of going for shock value. Athletes, if you’re pro, you don’t need shock value – cover up your ass and score a nifty goal, take your team to the championship. We know you got ass; we don’t need to see it.
And the models? What we’re encouraged to believe are the “beautiful” people? Two extremes. The emaciated waif and the plus-size, beyond Rubenesque femme. My mistake. Three extremes. Men dressed with the foremost consideration is that they appear to be bums.
Real people, Plain Janes and Normal Normans would work hawking Spandeeze.
Ripped jeans are high fashion? Used to suggest hard work. I don’t understand.
Men are apparently not without a few style conscious bleeps. Showing me the hottest nattily unshaven (read: unkempt and slovenly) male personality and describing to me his $650 shirt, $250 belt, $1600 trousers, and $4750 sports jacket (I guess, that’s what it is) leaves me cold. But, I reckon, a few thou to the plus side.
What is it that has brought us to suffer these lunacies? What or who is to blame?
We put up with this crap.6
We believe we need to see what’s hot according to Hollywood and stadium personalities. We salivate over and covet these absurd fashions, lifestyles, and opinions.
We think we need a $13,000.00 side-by-side refrigerator and a one-hundred twenty bottle wine-keeper.
We aspire to look like the Kurmaddigians. To dress like Hollywood red carpet dingii.7
Full stop. Who is right? What is sane? Um, ah, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m the one out of step.
Once again, I’m left with the feeling that I’ve stayed too long at the dance. Where’s the damned car? All I see is this pumpkin.
0 Can’t believe I feel this necessary: I am not a medical professional, close as I come to that is that I need professional medical or psychiatric help. These are opinions. Mine. I am not a registered dietician, certified sports trainer, professional dog-walker, or Democrat. Got it?
1 I have genuine respect for both. Ground-breaking (as far as I know) and almost understandable. Unfortunately, those trying to emulate these writers are so far off-base they are but swollen prostate piss streams posing as the ocean east of the Cape of Good Hope.
2 Maynard was clueless in many respects but a genuine and admirable chap.
3 Not without merit.
4 New math. Credible statistics. Biden math.
5 Don’t. Or won’t. Or can’t.
6 Might go out on a limb and suggest we crave this perversion. Please note, I do not subscribe to most mags lying about Casa SPWilcen. A survey site I once enjoyed stopped delivering legitimate point-awards, instead offering only seven-month subs to magazines no one in their right mind wants. Eskimo Cookery, Diuretic Weekly, Absurd but Darling Fashion Monthly, Protester Today, Garage and Outhouse, and Lifestyles of the Rich and Raunchy. Be almost a guarantee if the prima donna home and garden maven prison escapee’s mag had zero subscribers, her branded paint, dinnerware, furniture, and toilet paper stopped being marketable, that would be one less magazine, and one less “influencer.” A notable exception to the mag-snag is Popular Storm Drain Design. Hadda have that one. Maybe Quantum Physics Quarterly. One or two others, but these two are particularly good reads which I happily pay for. Admittedly, I don’t actually read QPQ, but the pictures are amazing, the centerfold nearly QP porn. PSDD advertises only tools and heavy equipment with an occasional half-page PSA for Smokey The’s admonitions. QPQ advertises INFN, CERN, and Helmholtz meeting dates and in an admittedly crass bit of commercialism, places one can make reservations for lodging.
7 Dingii. Plural of dingus. Dingus: a useless appendage.