Monday, September 25, 2006

Wherein I Am Told "September 24th is NOT a Leap Day!"

Unavoidably, last Sunday was my birthday. I have long tried to convince people that due to certain inaccuracies in the Gregorian Calendar, September 24th is an invalid day, doesn't technically exist, and therefore, I never get any older.

Almost nobody buys this. One of the most constantly cited reasons is that if Pope Gregory designed it, then it must be right the way it is, due to Papal infallibility. I counter with the fact that I am not personally Catholic, so what difference does that make to me? Look, Ben (may I call you "Ben"? Because I'm going to, anyway, and it's either that or "Ratzo"), if you want to have a serious discussion about this, take the dress off, put on some jeans and, say, a turtleneck, and we can meet at Starbuck's and talk it over reasonably. I understand that there's a Starbuck's conveniently located inside the Sistine Chapel.

But, I digress, while also risking excommunication from a denomination that I don't belong to anyway.

I've gotten behind in filling my quota of entropic verbiage for a little while. An out-of-whack neck that's pinching some major nerves tends to distract a person from wanting to write anything except extremely vile, profane and dry-heaves-inducing raving and frothing at the mouth. Well, that's one of my favorite things to do when I'm feeling good, and I didn't want to fall short of the high standards for perversion and corrupting the youth of Athens that I usually set for myself.

The business with the neck is a prime example of my growing irritation with birthdays. I've been to three different doctors for this, and they're all excellent physicians (though their cribbage games need a lot of work): First, my family doctor, then a neurologist, and finally a neuropathologist. Tests & an MRI ensued. The good news: It's not a slipped, herniated or protruding disk. There isn't any bone touching bone. It should be able to be alleviated with physical therapy, and nobody will need to poke around inside my neck. I'm fine up until this point. Then they drop the bomb: "However, you are getting older, so the disks are thinning."

Those damnable, denial-proof words: "You are getting older...." They don't say that to people in their twenties and thirties. They say it to people who've medically jumped the shark; it means that it's all downhill from here. Many of you (wearing bifocals, to be able to read this) are fine with this, holding to the crazy notion that it's just life and perfectly natural.

What is wrong with you people?

It's not like I'm not fighting back. I watch what I eat (thanks mainly to my spouse); I'm as active as possible doing wench-tossing and other feats; I usually get enough sleep. My blood work looks great and my heart is in exceptionally good shape (take that, all you lard-sucking middle-aged couch potatoes). In other words, I take care of myself; but I don't take Geritol every morning because, dammit to hell, I AM NOT THAT OLD!! I ain't eligible for an AARP card, and I'm still plenty young enough to resent the fact that nobody offers special discounts for oppressed artists who are having a really hard time with their necks! Would it kill you guys to offer me some free free-range celery (lettuce is out for now, & NO spinach, thanks) at the organic food store once in a while? Come on, be a sport: Gimme some head for free.

Of celery, you perverts!

Though I wouldn't turn the offer down if it was Amy. Amy has got some "quality produce", I gotta tell ya! Anyone who can manage to look sexy in a beet juice-stained apron has got it going on.

This all reminds me of a scientific theory of mine which has never quite gotten the recognition it deserves:

The Eye Wit's Law of the Origin of Birthdays

Sex, obviously, is the most immediate explanation. I can't argue with that. However, in these times, what with in-vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood, and the sudden mutation of certain kinds of muskrats, it isn't always the case. I'm pointing that out before I even start to say that The Eye Wit's Law is based entirely on sex, as much sex as possible, and as thoroughly naughty sex as possible. I don't do Petri dishes, literally or figuratively. What brings this to my mind to finally publish in this extremely academically-credentialed blog is the fact that the "Big Birthday Bang Rush" in my family has hit its annual stride. There are more birthdays in my family during this time of year by far than any other. Now, why do you suppose that is? Anyone?
OK, OK, I'll lay it out for you: I am firmly convinced that at least 75% of all birthdays can be explained by a holiday. This is something that is greatly misunderstood; every bloody year, the newspaper publishes a picture of the first baby (pointless, really, they all rather look like Winston Churchill. Admit it, you know I'm right) born on Christmas, or the first of the New Year, dubbing them "Christmas babies" and "New Year babies", which is not accurate at all. They're not thinking. When a child is born, seemingly connected to a holiday, it isn't the holiday on which they were born that defines them; it's the holiday upon which they were conceived that determines what kind of "holiday baby" they are. That, put succinctly, is The Eye Wit's Law.

I, myself, am an excellent example: My birthday is September 24; what day is precisely nine months previous to the date of my birth? Christmas Eve, that's what! Therefore, if you think logically, I'm the one who's a "Christmas baby". Naturally, babies can be somewhat early or late, so you have to allow a bit of leeway in looking at the calendar, but this theory is proven out with spectacular results whenever I present it in an intellectual gathering, such as a Wesson party.

Still, you can't accuse my family of not having the holiday spirit. Witness: My mother: August 27th. Obviously, a Thanksgiving baby. My father: June 16th. Could, in fact, be a Labor Day baby, since they actually observed it back in those days, and proving that perhaps my grandparents really did possess a sense of humor after all. Rosh Hashanah is around then, too; then again, nobody in my family is Jewish. My oldest sister: October 5th. New Year's baby. My older brother: November 11th. Valentine's Day, obviously. My next younger sister: February 27th. This puts her in the "Mother's Day baby" class, which by this time was rather redundant. The next sister: September 29th. Christmas, approximately. In her case, for reasons that I cannot explain, I think it's Boxing Day. The baby of the family: September 2nd. Another "Turkey Day" baby, and trust me, we've never let her forget it. That, and what we call "The Parkay Incident", but I swore that I'd never mention it again. My daughter would scream if I mentioned anything about her birthday; I can live with that, for it will give this post an air of mystery & suspense.

"Sure," you say, "that's just your sicko family." Don't be so certain! My spouse, for example, who is not related by blood (though she's spilled plenty of mine) was born on December 11th. Her first name fits well with the fact that she's a St. Patrick's Day baby. Actually, the name was incidental; it was the name of the victim in a murder mystery that her mother was reading at the time, and she just liked it. So, my spouse is named after a corpse. And if I make any additional comment to that statement, it's me that's going to be a corpse.

Proclaiming this theory also has one very consistent side effect: The discussion inevitably leads you, nearly forces you to imagine your parents having sex. This, most people find revolting and abhorrent (major exceptions: Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, and Boise, Idaho). Is a it sadistic thing to do from which I derive mischievous glee, and that makes you have nightmares?

You bet it is! Just consider it a birthday present.

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Monday, September 18, 2006

Writer's Blockade

Writer's Blockade: A refreshing fruit drink that writers drink when they're stuck.

There are two things wrong with that statement: One, it isn't in the least true. Two: Even were there such a thing, I'll bet that it wouldn't work.

Which is to lead into this:

No, I haven't finished the Eulogy for the America We Knew. Sorry....

One reason is that I have a problem with my neck, nerves are under pressure, and I'm bloody well uncomfortable. Amazingly, I avoided rancid profanity in that statement. I'm having a lot of trouble sleeping, and concentrating is a little tough. The doctor is calling tomorrow with the results of the MRI, and will undoubtedly tell me something I don't want to hear. Well, except for the part where, I do hope, I find out when this will be over.

The other thing is that where I originally felt that I knew where I was going and to what historical source I wanted to quote, now my mind seems to be considering a wider perspective. So, I'm also ruminating about whether what I'm trying to communicate about is only the America we knew at the dawn of September 12, 2001, or, does it involve talking about the meaning and message behind the "eulogies" for all of the "Americas we knew" that I remember from my lifetime? Very interesting and intriguing, at least to me. Then again, I can hardly be called impartial on that question.

Now, the easy way out would be to sneak in and delete the original post & subsequent reference. Nah, that would be chicken; also, I'm interested to see what I do when I say that I'm going to write something about a matter of significance before I finish doing so. That means that I'm pretty much implying that it's going to be good stuff, and worth waiting for.

Oh, what's the worst that could happen? I could fall flat on my face and fail utterly.

I'm game!

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Thursday, September 14, 2006

Intermission, with Digression in C Minor Flat

I am definitely going to finish the previous post, but I'm having a difficult week and haven't felt well enough to concentrate to write it as well and with as much clarity as it should be.

Well, the words & concepts are on deck in my head, and I know where I'm going with it. However (whine), I have a serious problem with my neck, am waiting on test results, and am generally having a bad, painful time. (End of whine. It's safe to read again).

So, since I'm in "Short Attention Span Theatre" territory, why not have a round of

Nagging Imponderable Questions in Life

These are the questions that creep into your head randomly, and against your will. They always seem to be in response to things that, really, don't merit a lot of thinking time, but the questions keep coming back nonetheless. Why is that? I believe that the reason is this: These questions are usually about why something is so stupid?? The brain, in many peoples cases (but not nearly enough), would like there to be less stupidity in the world. To have just a little bit more peace of mind and tranquilty without having to send off to Canada for drugs, because the drug companies have a license to gouge in the U.S. Since the stupid things just keep on happening, the questions aren't going to go away by themselves.

-Why is it that in most car commercials, they show off the vehicle by having it driven in ways that you should never drive? Yeah, yeah, they have that tiny disclaimer about the professional driver and the closed course; so what?

-On the same subject, have you ever noticed that in most car commericals, they've sprayed water on the road? What the hell is that for? Other than wasting water with which certain friends of mine could water their cash crop? (Cannabis sativa)

-AND, why do people buy into the idiotic notion that your car is an extension of your personality? That you HAVE to spend however many dollars it takes to "make your statement"?? It's transportation, it's a tool, dammit! Do you really need to have the seats upholstered with the skins of young, virgin kangaroo rats? The kangaroo rats sure as hell don't think so.

-Whitney Houston married Bobby Brown in 1992. In case you hadn't noticed, it's 2006. It took her fourteen years to figure out that he's a dangerous and abusive person?? Congrats on filing for divorce, Whit.... I hope you're not being too impulsive.

-Think about it: E-mail spam only seems to keep increasing. But- They wouldn't keep doing it, it would make no business sense to pay for it, if there weren't people actually buying the crap and generating profits? WHO ARE THESE PEOPLE??

-Why is there an expiration date on bottled water?

-Is it just me, or doesn't the multi-million dollar award given to the woman who put a cup of hot coffee that she ordered through the drive-in in her crotch still bother you? She put a stinking cup of hot liquid next to her genitals, drove off, and it spilled and scalded her. McDonald's was negligent and at fault because "nobody told me that hot coffee was hot"?? I want to meet these jurors who concluded that hot coffee should be crotch-friendly. I also want to know why there isn't a "Stupid Bitch" clause in liablity cases?

-Shouldn't we have all the scientists who are working in advanced computing to develop artificial intelligence go and try to do something about the White House first?

-Why is it called "dusting the furniture" when the object of the task is to remove dust?

-Could someone explain to me why it's imperative to outlaw gay marriages in the name of "Saving and Protecting the Sanctity of the Institution of Marriage" when the heterosexuals have a 50% divorce rate? Shouldn't somebody be looking into that?

-Why is the arcane tradition, when a man proposes marriage to a woman, that he do so on one knee? Shouldn't he be standing, so he can run like hell if necessary?

-Why do politicians typically put out a press release saying that they're going to announce their candidacy & intent to run for an office some time "in the next week"? Seems to me that the press release just did announce the candidacy, or am I just crazy?

-How can the words "flammable" and "inflammable" mean the same bloody thing?

-Most of all, why am I writing this silliness when it's 2:10 a.m.?

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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A Eulogy for the America We Knew

I do not want to write about 9/11 at all. I remember it too well, as nearly every American does. So, why add my voice to so many others? What is it that I'm being compelled to put into words, and why can I not not think about it?

In my bio, I have an axiom: "You must always tell the truth of it." That includes the responsibility to speak when it's important. The path of the Bard in ancient times (which I aspire to) sometimes requires you to collect the thoughts and feelings of the rest of the clan or tribe, and speak them in such a way that that group energy & feeling is brought together. That brings the people themselves together, and is one of the crucial elements of community. I've done this before; at a number of memorial services that I've attended, they invite people attending to come up and say something about the departed. Many have something that they'd like to express, but most people don't like speaking in front of a group at any time, let alone at that time. So, usually, nobody will get up and actually do it.

But I will. Not because I think I'm a gift to the world's ear and want the attention for myself. That would be crude, crass and without respect. I do it because I can feel the energy around me, coming from the other people, and words shape in my mind around them. It's very hard to explain. But, once that's given to me, I'm not allowed to hold onto it; the feelings are theirs, and I have to give them back. At those times, my complete lack of fear of being in front of a group of people is put to use for more than the reach for Truth in art. It's an honor and a privilege to be in the service of Truth, and it's the same to be allowed to attempt to bring that energy together into something that lets people breathe out and say "Yes, that's it. I wanted to say something, but I didn't have the words."

It's also an opportunity, at a time when emotions are highly charged (on whatever the occasion) to tap into them and use them to foster community. "Community" in all the definitions of that word at once. Today, it was that which coalesced in my mind. Therefore, this is not an essay eulogizing the America we knew at the dawn of September 11, 2001.

It's to eulogize the America we knew at the dawn of September 12, 2001. It, too, is gone.

I will take the unusual step (for me) of posting this before it's finished. At the moment, I'm still reaching for those words, trying to find the core of it, and to only use as many words as are needed. As an Irish-American, I'm not, by nature, always so concerned with economy of words (evidence abounds). However, this being an "official speech", the rules are different. For now, I can tell you that there are more questions than answers, and I cannot lie and claim that there are definite answers, answers with which we can try to smooth over and hide our responsibility to ask questions.

That's right, the responsibility to ask questions, and where there are no good answers, to be a part of creating them.

The question that I will leave with you for now to ponder is:

What IS the United States of America?

Consider this as well: Everyone knows "we're at war"; but what is it, who is it that we're at war with? It shouldn't be with ourselves, with one another, fellow Americans; when Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, the words with which he closed, I am sure, he fervently hoped that no one would ever be called on to say in the country's future:

"That the government of the People, by the People, and for the People, shall not perish from this Earth."

Therefore, it's time to sound a clarion call. Before we go so far that we'll not be able to hear it over the sound of waging war, and HATE, against each other and even more of the rest of the world.

If the sound of those words disturbs you, good; that means that I am reaching towards the gathering of what's unspoken among us, and needs to be said.

I shall continue as soon as the words are right.

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Sunday, September 03, 2006

Time to Put Up the Labor Day Tree!

Scoff if you want to; holidays have become so ill-defined, it's like they were all put into a blender set on puree, rendering a repugnant muck.

I call this color "blar". This is a term that was invented in my childhood, when, in spite of maternal commandments, we mixed all the Play-Doh colors together. What color is that? Well, I have now removed that question that's been nagging you in the back of your mind for decades. Your appreciation for this is best expressed by cash. Thank you in advance. Also, to add in a courteous reminder, I still have the negatives.

But, I digress. Already.

Here we are in the middle of Labor Day Weekend. This generates a lot of excitement and causes deep personal reflections, especially to children. "Where," they cry plaintively, "did the summer go? We just got out of school!" I, having grown a tad older and gotten much wiser, have no more answer for them than I did when I was their age demanding an answer to the same question, only in less polite terms. Back in the old stomping grounds in Middletown, Rhode Island, they still start school when you're supposed to: after Labor Day. In those days, that seemed to be the only thing that Labor Day was good for: it was the "two minute warning" to let you know that the game was just about up. Here, in the perverse and unnatural locale where I am in exile, they started nearly a month ago. My spouse, a teacher, had to go in for her first day on August 1st. The Theory when they started backing up the starting date (and ending earlier at the close of school) was that it would be better if the "Holiday Break" (not being allowed, of course, to call it "Christmas Break" even though it still is) marked the end of the first semester or the second quarter or the 50% mark, whichever math irritates you more. Probably the percentage; is it not a common sight in a restaurant to see a patron weeping at the effort to compute a damn 15% tip?

More digression. Right.

Anyway, Labor Day seems just about pointless and blar these days. Labor unions have lost a lot of their influence, and nearly everybody seems to be working. Those toiling in retail are working even harder, because of the "Labor Day Sales Events". I have no idea what the big draws are for such sales (other than to see this year's Christmas decorations and sales in the stores. This is getting ridiculous. More blar), since I avoid going anywhere on this weekend if I can help it. The streets, stores and beaches are crammed with people. In some, sane places such as Rhode Island, it's the last "back-to-school" shopping push. Here, the reasons seem to be different. First off, there's all the usual "work commute" vehicles on the road, because "Labor Day" or not, they have to work. The shoppers are out in force buying whatever it is that's the bait. This is made even worse at places like the mall parking lot, where you can waste a lot of time and $3-a-gallon gas waiting to get a parking place. Why? Because there are a lot of people going needlessly around and around.... "I'm not taking a parking place more than three in from the end!" TRY WALKING, YOU IDIOTS! IT WON'T KILL YOU!! Still, there is one more cardinal reason why people have left the house, and one that I can understand. To get away from the TV. Why?

Honestly, I just can't deal with watching the Jerry Lewis Telethon any more, not for years. No, I'm not saying nor implying in the least that there's anything wrong with it, and certainly the cause is worthy. I've watched it before (pieces, at least), donated, and even volunteered to answer phones at the local cutaway location. After this many years, it's stale to me; same old same old. Jerry, getting progressively more irrational from the lack of sleep; Ed McMahon, who used to be funny. Used to. Celebrities, many of whom are performing part of their community service sentences. A whole lot of BS about something really exciting "coming up soon!" "Soon" being telethonese for "five hours from now". Too little time given to the kids, and what the new research is really doing (well, in my opinion).

Jerry, your telethon needs a makeover. As much as I hate to even think of something that would cause some moronic producer to use it as yet another reality show, you need a different tack, some new draws, and the unpredictability that makes people curious. They keep watching that way. Do NOT ask anyone at PBS. I needn't explain why.

Look, bringing in younger, more pelvic acts isn't going to cut it. Sure, I laugh riotously when some poseur is caught lip-synching for the 40th time, but other shows already do that. No, I think you need to speak to the core of what reliably draws audiences, year after year: Sex, violence, and pointlessly intrusive special effects. And start numbering the telethons as if they're sequels to the first one. For the life of me, I can't understand it, but for some reason, people will go to see a sequel of something that had no merit in the first place. Like the Dukes of Hazzard II:Boss Hogg's 'Rhoids. People must not be paying much attention; maybe they assume that because it's a sequel, that the first one must have been good, otherwise they wouldn't risk the money for a sequel. Suckers.

What does sex have to do with finding a cure for Muscular Dystrophy? Not a damn thing, but it works on nearly anything, doesn't it? Hell, they're using sex and entendre to sell things like Depends and Chia pets. Yes, yes, it would be reprehensible, but you ARE trying to raise money.

What's the point of all this aimless rambling? I don't know; it's the middle of the Labor Day weekend and I have some spare time. Because, unlike most of the unfortunate people out there, I'm actually not working during the Labor Day weekend. I never could fall in step with the majority....
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