30 December 2011

How to Regard the Various Figures Inhabiting Your Psyche

We don't offer a lot of advice around here, we believe you should be free to live the life of your own design as long as you shoulder the consequences.  Yet most humans, including those who read blogs, crave advice, and we are no different from the rest of us in this regard.  Let us then advise each other (we) about some common archetypes which dominate the human psyche, and see what happens (forthwith).

1) Monsters.  Monsters are no more real than other humans and should definitely not be regarded as such.  Monsters growl at you and occasionally slash but they know nothing of your inner torment, they are just in it for themselves and generally not worth the trouble they stir up.

2) Astronauts are guilty of much the same private failings of the rest of us, as a group, yet individually must be regarded as worthy of respect until proven other(than)wise.

3) The Father Figure is critical to the success and failure of most males and many women by the same token.  Pops does his best but he is no more human than you or I, and liable to the same peccadilloes as, say, Matt Dillon or Twiggy.

4) Elvis was really cool and got a ton of chicks, pretty much every one he snapped his fingers for.  What this has to do with you or me is far from clear, but Elvis was a bad mother.

5) Souffles are difficult for any rugged macho man to bake and failure to get one to rise should not be seen as a failure of one's personal manhood.  To dream constantly of a falling souffle is to foresee one's own (omn)i(m)potence.

6) Hemingway bent his elbow more than most, though how much of what he imbibed was creme de menthe is anyone's guess.  The salt tasted salty, in his mouth.

7) Jim Nabors sure sang a lovely tune in his day, he could croon with anyone like nobody's business, though he is better known for his portrayal of Gomer Pyle, who served his country admirably as a bungling marine, at a safe distance from the horrors of his era, as it seemed.

8) Dr. Freud sits behind you, watching you, nodding disinterestedly, saying as little as possible, judging you for the disgusting being that you are, he just wants you to admit more of it, whether it actually helps you or not is beside the point.

9) Anne of Green Gables should no longer even be in your psyche, but if she persists,consult four out of five dentists surveyed, they'll tell you what's next.

10) Tim Druthers.   Tim should be regarded with verveless aplomb.  Apple butter should be separated from the spatula by hand if necessary.

16 December 2011

Call for Papers: The Proverbial Conference

This/next year’s Demi-Annual Proverbial Conference and Metaphysical Hoedown is scheduled for some time in April of one of the coming years, at your local convention center.  Early bird registration is now open, get 'em while they’re hot.  There will be ample free parking.

As one of the leading experts in whatever it is you do, you are hereby invited to submit a paper, join one of the panel discussions, and/or serve on the refreshments committee. Abstracts should be submitted several months in advance, in triplicate, and please note that they should be as abstract as possible without wandering into the vague. 

The conference will consist of two main tracks.  One will be devoted to the business and practical applications of a new type of whipped marshmallow topping developed by my aunt. Suggestions for the other track are now being accepted, but it might have something to do with eggs.

Who should attend:  People who live in trees.  C-level execs and other know-it-alls from the whipped topping industry.  Voles.  People who live in glass houses.  Anyone feeling a bit peckish.  John Elway.  Brian P and his little buddy.  People who shoulda thrown stones.

In order to encourage collaborative comaraderie and the spirit of sharing community so that all attendees derive maximum benefit from the conference, we have booked two entire floors at a nearby Motel Forty-four Ninety-five and arranged for all the walls to be knocked out.  There will be no specific room assignments and beds will be available in 6-hour shifts.  This year we are encouraging all participants to bring their own toothbrush.

Closing the second night there will be a big musical performance, we hope to get Alice in Chains but we’ll see, if we can’t, my mother-in-law’s stepdaughter (I can’t call her my stepsister-in-law or my wife will kill me, she doesn’t see eye to eye with that bunch, but fortunately she won’t be at the conference) is pretty good on the piano.

The first six people in the door will get a free tote bag.

More in this space as The Conference takes shape.

02 December 2011

Fake Letters from Fake Readers to Fake Editor

All of these letters are real in some sense.  All were concocted by somebody, and that somebody is (at heart) a real person.  If by real we mean actual letters from actual viewers, human writing sincerely to communicate with fellow(s), not all would qualify.  To be perfectly bluntless, these are mostly made-up letters from nonexistent readers with fake names and moustaches and just hideously bad breath.  The responses however are real, as they are not made up by a fake person at all and therefore must, by definition, be considered real if only in the sense that they were really created and written in the name of a fictional character.  But may I just ask: from your point of view, what’s the damned difference?  I mean if you can read it then you can think it, and anything you can think on must be real.  Otherwise you’re crazy, I’m crazy, the whole internet is crazy!

Dear PBJ:
I found a shell that I want to use to make a beautiful necklace for that special someone (Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo), but there is a hermit crab living inside of it.  How do I get that little bugger out of there?
Anne, Brown Cables

Dear Anne:
According to the FBI field manual, useful in hostage situations or when someone is holed up inside and won’t come out like this, you should first surround the shell with a SWAT team of approximately 50 trained snipers.  You can then lob in tear gas, and following that send in the goons to remove the dazed crab.  But be careful: crabs pinch, and Mr. Romo is a notorious womanizer.  Good luck and let us know how it turns out.

Dear Mr. Rasmussen:
Your magazine has gone off the third rails again this time, or maybe I should say off the deep end of the pier.  All this stuff about shells and turtles, it’s like a beachfront publication.  I mean it’s an affront to the beachfront.  It’s an outright effrontery to the front of the beach!
Bucky Huffets, Lothario, Rhode Island

Dear Mr HuffyBuckets: Thank you for your feedback, it will be used to improve our product, which will no longer be available to you because you’re banned, now take one last long look around and get out.

Dear Tony:
So how do you pronounce your last name, is the accent on the first syllable or the second?
Leonard Thurston, Providence RI

Dear Leonard:
Thanks for the question.  In a neat phrase now the exclusive property of the McDonald’s corporation: I’m loving it.  In our family the preferred pronunciation was with the accent on the first.  But if people want to say it the other way we don’t get all high and mighty about it.

Dear Proverbial Bejesus lady:
You broke my brain.  Thanks a lot.
Dennis, Rhode Island

Dear Dennis:
No charge bro.  Just keep laying there and don’t try to breathe.  We’ll send a man around in the morning.

Dear Mr. Rasmussen (if that is your real sobriquet):
Am writing to express my belated thanks for you not keeping your threat to destroy every last existing copy of Citizen Kane, which is widely regarded as one of the pillars of modern cinema.  Kudos to you for your wonderful self-restraint.
Kevin Vertigo, Cinnabonymous, New Jersey

Dear Kev:
Thanks for noticing.  Decided to spare Kane and instead have destroyed all existing copies of the best surviving television sitcom of the 1960s.  So far, no one’s noticed.

Dear Tony:
I know I should pray to Jesus as he is the number one god around here.  But next week I will visit Okinawa and my friend told me they have different gods there.  Is Jesus the one true god of all the universe, including Japan?  Why does he always make it rain when I have to walk to the grocery store?  Why can’t he stop traffic jams, or have pizzas delivered instantly?
Prosser Malamute, West Texas, Idaho

Dear Prosser:
Jesus?  Don’t get me started.  My doctor ordered me to stop talking about religion in general and that guy in particular.  Look, you can believe whatever you want, worship any god you please in any spot on earth.  If your behavior disturbs the locals, you are doing great work.  If they tear you to pieces, bingo, you’re a martyr.  What do you care what other people think?  What are you, a leprechaun?

23 November 2011

My Cat (Whiskers of Satan II)

I suppose it's time I wrote a long post about my cat, most blogs seem to be about cats these days and I can't afford to miss another hot trend, as hot trends drive internet traffic and make bloggers rich, which is after all what blogs are for.  I don't know what kind of cat I would own if I had one but let's imagine it's a red tabby with fiery green eyes, whiskers of average length, a tail, and a purr like a '65 Mustang.  She likes to jump in my lap when I'm watching telly, she tolerates no barky barky from my rottweiler Tony, sends him away howling with a cuff on the schnozz any time he comes at her all frisky-like, she's around when I want her and disappears when I don't, a catch and release hunter who doesn't spray behind the sofa, in short, she's all that and a bag of cat litter (snap).

My cat is so funny the way she plays with things, like strings.  She can play with a string upwards of twenty minutes.  No I don't mean she plays the guitar, silly, or the bass fiddle for that matter, I mean she will chase around a piece of string until she catches it and winds herself in it and wrassles with it all crazy like.  When she figures out it's dead she walks away, but two seconds later you tug the string and she's forgotten, she's after that thing like it's a real live piece of string.

Make no mistake, having a cat is a big responsibility, financially and emotionally.  You have to find someone to look after it while you are watching TV.  Its food is super expensive, and you can't just feed it eggs or walnuts.  Taking it surfing is right out.  So what do you do all day with a cat?  It's difficult to predict.  But if you are there for your cat emotionally then it will be there for you when you need it most.  It's about the best investment you can make.*

Here's a long story about my cat that is so boring and pointless I wouldn't even tell it to my grandma if we were on a long car trip and had run out of things to talk about a hundred miles ago.  But in my view, that's what blogs are for.  So hold onto your britches and keep on reading, it is after all free, and you may derive a perverse pleasure from my personal inanity.  Go ahead and shit on me in the Comments section, if you're one of the haters.  I don't mind the humiliation if it will drive some traffic.  That is after all what blogs are for.  Anyway it was my birthday and I wanted to dress up my cat like the bride of Chucky so first I took her to the kitty parlor to get her hair frayed and her ears frazzled, and she did not like that one bit, she was hissing up a shitstorm and she slashed up the poor pedicurist (who had, foolishly perhaps, just sharpened her claws) something awful, that cost me half a small fortune in medical bills, but fine, it was worth it, we got the look we wanted.  So I get her home and all dolled up with the makeup and the fake stitching, she looks almost exactly like the real bride of Chucky and we head out to the party.  But what I had forgotten to account for – what?  Oh.  Well my producer is signaling that we're out of time for tonight, I'll have to pick up that story next week.

Good night and god bless cats, which are the most amazing animals, I mean sometimes I wonder what my cat is thinking, it seems so zen about most stuff and shows none of the neuroses of inbred poodles or the brooding mastodon, etc. etc.  [Fade as credits roll]

*Not intended or offered as actual investment advice, standard disclaimers may or may not apply, if you invest in a cat and lose your shirt don't come crying to blog, and so on and so forth.

14 November 2011

Reflective Post

In which we ponder the meaning of Narcissism, and go from there.

[Please imagine that we have inserted here a picture of sunlight gleaming off a maple leaf.]

This is a very special November for me, because I'm still alive and I have not died yet.  And so it's a very precious November for me and I'm trying to acknowledge that and celebrate it by cleaning the altar, hosing down the proverbial saddlebags and riding my Harley dangerously close to the nub of life's wild essence.

I used to spend as much time as possible mired in my typically ridiculous narcissism. Because that's really what it was all along, for me as it may be for many of you out there: at the bottom of the pond you’re staring into, if you could see past your reflection for a minute there Mr. Narcissus and look deeply in, to the bottom of the pool, (because despite your delusions of unfathomable depth, your personal pond is in reality roughly 3 feet deep), you'd see it sitting right there on the bottom, there's your narcissism, staring you right back in the face.  But you're just too shallow to see it.

Life is to be cherished, not a thing to be frittered away one afternoon at a time scanning the internet looking for something entertaining to post on your new tumblr.  Instant gratification is never instant.  There is always some time lapse between the desire and the gratification.  This time can be used to tidy up a bit, to pursue exciting career opportunities in the field of whale watching, and once a year to perform action x.  Think for a minute about the word lifetime, really break it down.  Life and time, the time of life, the time of your life, your life's time.  Now do the same thing with hubbub and lollipop.

The elimination of the ego is the key to all things, blog and otherwise.  It cannot be coincidence that there is no I in blog, just as there is one I but two yous in furniture, one pee (and 'I am pure') in a urine sample, no tea in a hamburger, no sea in Sargasso, no gee in willikers, and no L in Christmas; there is, however, a bee in your bonnet.  [Crowd erupts, bows for all as roses rain at feet.]  Thank you, thank you very much.  [Continues bowing as tomatoes follow, accepts most with grace and dignity, though one that fails to splat is hurled back.]  Thank you!  Thank you!  [Exits in defensive semicrouch, big smile, waving.]

18 October 2011

TV Wash

Everyone has a car.  Cars get dirty.  It takes a little time and effort to wash your car, and they have machines now that can do it quickly and at a reasonable cost.  So you see lots of car washes.

But surely there are more TVs than cars.  Most of them are filthy.  So how come you never see a TV Wash?

I know I know, people don’t want to bring it in.  You can drive your car to a car wash (or wear your clothes to the laundromat for that matter), but most televisions still lack basic mobility.  So we are going to have to go door to door and wash the TVs on site.

Well maybe for the first year or two.  Once people see just how fantastically clean we are making the TVs they will wise up, rise up, and get hooked on our service.

Our patented washing process thoroughly cleans, disinfects and sanitizes your television, inside and out, all in seven easy steps that take less than forty-five minutes.  First, intensive supraluminous de-ionization removes noxious ions that can damage circuits and ruin your eyes; then, desalination cleanses your set of the harmful salts and alkaloids that accumulate from the daily reality of reality television.  A toxic lather is then applied to kill bugs, germs, and quickly decompose nutmeat residues.  Two other secret steps (hint: rinse, repeat) get rid of that whole mess, then any nesting passerine birds are carefully removed and restored to their natural habitat where they go on to live long and fulfilling lives.  Finally, the TV is given the (proverbial) once over by our trained technicians working with a damp cloth of surpassing softness, and then delivered direct to your living room, clean and fresh and reinstalled and ready to transmit any kind of image you want to stare at.

And it will still function (more or less).  We guarantee it.

Picture our commercial: magnified close-ups of how disgustingly dirty your set becomes after only a few short weeks of use, the range of creatures dead and undead that dwell within, etc.  (Subtitle: Heat attracts moles and voles)

“Dude your TV is fucking disgusting.” 
“What?  I wipe the dust off the top of it every other week.” 
“That’s not enough.  It’s gross.  Get it cleaned – professionally.”
“No way, I’m not sending it out again, you know what happened last time.”
“No problem, they come to your house now.”

CALL THE NUMBER ON YOUR SCREEN FOR A FREE CONSULTATION

Cut to: Testimonial.  “My television was riddled with vermin that gave me a bad disease twice until I got it cleaned by the professional TV washing service represented in this advertisement.”

“YOUR TV IS A STY!  CALL TODAY – NOT BY-AND-BY!”

08 October 2011

Animal Awards

The 4,273rd annual Animal Awards ceremonial festivity was held last night deep in the Inyo National Forest, and some of the results were quite surprising. 

Host “Brouhaha” (the former Pam Dawber) was on her game from the start, keeping the face past, pulling no punches in calling out certain members of the academy for their atavistic political views and disgusting table manners, yet managing to keep the mood light and avoid crossing the line that would have meant certain death, career or otherwise.

In the category of Best Elk, an elk from Idaho with an unpronounceable / untranscribable name took advantage of a vote split between the two favorites to capture the award, a huge boost to the career of this relative unknown in a year many considered particularly strong for the elk.

A Lifetime Achievement Award was given to the tufted titmouse, for its sustained contribution to the field of being a small bird flitting about.

For the fourth straight year, the award for Funniest Animal Home Video went to a human, the announcement sending the audience into a wild but by-now-all-too-familiar pandemonium.  Fortunately the winner was not in attendance, apparently aware of the fate of last year’s winner, who showed up to claim the prize only to be torn to pieces by the furious runners-up, video of which was entered in this year’s competition by some snarky aardvarks.

Animal Architect of the Year went to the Tree Pig, still the only species of pig to live year-round in trees, for its innovative use of materials and incorporation of Bauhaus elements into a rich tapestry celebrating 2500 years of tree pig architecture history.

And now, the award you’ve all been wailing for, the award for this year’s King of the Jungle Award.  And the nominees are:  the Gorilla, for his role as a giant ape who is practically human, stronger than anything in the jungle and preyed upon by none;  the Flesh-eating Fire Ant, relentless in its multitudes and able to spew fire from its thorax;  the Lion, a traditional favorite in this category yet a bit of an underdog this year due to the growing movement to disqualify it because, uh, lions don’t live in jungles;  the Reticulated Python, slowly, inexorably strangling any living thing it stumbles upon; and the African Forest Elephant, biggest guy there, yields to no living thing, etc.  Wow this is very exciting, a little nervous here, certainly don’t want to be set upon, mauled, or otherwise torn to pieces like, well like most of the other presenters here this evening …Ladies and gentlemen, the winner is: (o my god) the Reticulated Python!

24 September 2011

American People: We Will Sing for Our Supper

The American People announced yesterday that they were through trying to make something of themselves, that college was too hard and everyone knows you never use most of what you learn there and anyway who needs that crushing debt when all the jobs that haven’t already been shipped overseas were either not worth trying to get or would soon be outsourced to people willing to work for a third of what they would consider getting out of bed for, that they were through undertaking the years of study and countless hours of patient workmanship it takes to produce decent quality anything, they are not going to bother trying to make things any more seeing as how it can all be made more cheaply by drones or robots working at scale and besides, all opportunity for advance has long since been closed off by the encroaching arms of global trade and wage arbitrage.

Instead, they continued, from now on, we will sing for our supper.

All the folks who make all the useful stuff will earn wages and profits more than sufficient to support a vast industry of entertainers and jesters to add laughter and meaning to their lives.  And that’s where we come in.  We will produce epic films and groundbreaking television shows of every imaginable color and genre, arm and train squadrons of musicians, poets, and acrobats that will conquer the world and lay it waste with joy and tears.  We it shall be who will build the websites, compose the blogposts, edit the videos, design the theme parks and brain up the advertising campaigns until no matter what the physical circumstances of your life, you will feel you are living in the best of all possible worlds, the beautiful pinnacle of ten thousand years of human evolution.

The more you oppress us, the better our protest songs.  The farther our standard of living falls, the better the blues we sing.  Throw us a few cases of good wine and a decent casserole once in a while and you might get a Mad Men or a Mr. Show.  But keep feeding us fake-ass frankenfood and selling us mounds of cheaply manufactured crap, and it’s gonna be The View and Jersey Shore on a 24-hour loop for as far as the eye can see.

The American People then removed their hat, placed it on the ground at their feet as a receptacle for the donations of appreciative observers, and launched into a soft-shoe / ‘rappin Jack Kennedy’ routine in the hopes of earning enough for a decent macchiato to get them through the afternoon.

10 September 2011

Contemporary Fiction: Dreams of Ocean Fantasy, or Scuba Doobie Doo

As one of the last bastions of places to publish contemporary fiction of outlandish quality and unpredictable nature of some our most gifted young writers, we proudly present the following short story.  Penned by one of our old college chums, the self-styled “Artist Alternately Known as Quassam and Eeyore”, the text is presented exactly as it was written, with no guarantees as to its origins or accuracy.  Standard Disclaimers apply.

Dreams of Ocean Fantasy, or Scuba Doobie Doo

Ray Powell had bought himself a new book called "Alec's Big Book about the Ocean."  Ray had over eight or nine books to choose from at the mega-store, but he chose the ocean book because it had an enormous bottle of gin on the cover, and a bowl of nachos.  There was plenty of misinformation about the ocean inside, mainly in the form of quips from Alec Guinness that there used to be oceans on the moon (there is only mud and slush, in fact), and that the ocean is the largest thing on Earth (actually, the moon is bigger).  There were some guest pages by Steve McQueen, mainly concerned with lunar gravity and time travel.

Ray decided to take the book with him to the Raccoon Supermarket where he worked, so he wouldn't have to stop chewing on it.  His job was to paint the Raccoon Supermarket squirrel at various locations in the store to indicate the daily specials, and then paint over it when the specials became ordinary again.  Sometimes Ray would draw it gorged fat on the day's highest-priced fruits or meats, or stuffing its cheeks with newly expensive cheese, or holding its nose and shaking its head at the generic brands.  Other times it would just direct guests to the coin-operated shopping carts, or quietly order them to leave if they had no money.

Before he went to work, he had to check in with his boss and roommate, Tom Bentley.

"We don't have many good prices today, so I want the squirrel to prevent loitering, discourage shoplifting, and interrupt a mugging," Tom said.  "But have it wiping its ass with Scott paper towels."

"I'll see what I can do," said Ray.

"Here, I drew how it's supposed to be."  Tom handed him a piece of paper.  "You can choose one of these two expressions-I'll leave it up to you.  But don't use too much paint."

"Ok."

Ray went to the back aisle and did some thumbnail sketches of the various humid towelettes and damp-wipes to be featured in the mural, but he was more than a little bit distracted with the wonders of the ocean.  "The ocean has two moons of its own", he whispered, carefully tracing a plastic guide for one of the squirrel's expressions (platen #12: disdain/regret), as he propped open his new book.  "Each moon would weigh five times more on Earth than it weighs on the moon."  His brush jumped the form-cut stencil, and wandered free across the wall, gently flowing into winged techno-jellyfish and bursting lunar scallops, and the letters of the word "phobos," over and again.  "If a werewolf went to the moon, it would remain a wolf for eternity..."

"What the hell is going on here?" squirted Tom, stumbling out of his office.  It was three o'clock and Ray had squandered his entire can of paint on a store-wide tableau of highly imaginative science-fiction crapola.

Ray struggled to explain what he had held in perfect clarity only minutes before. "The jumbo shrimp armada..." he stammered, "the great sea cucumber war of 3228... the large-mouth princess..."  He raced from freshly-painted aisle to aisle, bewildering the large crowd of penniless vagrants who had replaced the paying customers, long since directed to the competition by a distorted "photo-luminous" squirrel.

"Why don't you take some time off?" spouted Tom. "Just draw the squirrel drawing itself for a while."

Ray grabbed his book and went up to the top floor of the supermarket, where he could sit in the command booth and watch the 'code browns' scrub out his mural.  Some were using garden vegetables to soak up the toxic paint fumes, and some sprayed the walls with soft drinks to make them less sticky. Soon they had restored the sights, smells, and tactile stimuli of a normal city grocery, and the customers began to trickle back in.  Ray found a suitable corner downstairs and obediently drew a standard present-day land-based squirrel painting a juvenile caricature of itself, being electrocuted.

As the days progressed, Ray's obsession with the ocean became more pronounced.  He would cut out pictures of sea-martians and lunar manta-rays and attach them to his clothing, but his artistic expression remained circumscribed by the Raccoon Supermarket charter. Following Ray's disciplinary suspension, the logo squirrel was never explicitly augmented with submersible artillery or energy defenses, but there was a decidedly aqueous lean to his activities.  The squirrel had never been disposed to fishing before Ray acquired his new book -- it was more often engaged in consumption than production -- but now it seemed to while away the hours deep-water trolling from orbital missile platforms and anti-gravity sleds, and casting shark nets between the outer planets in the solar system.  Ray's supervisor was concerned of course, but he felt the cruelty of fishing would promote sales of machine-grown pork and barnyard slaughterhouse products.

There were several days when the nautical imagery became too distracting, however, and the walls had to be white-washed and flushed with debris.  The struggle between Ray and his supervisor took its toll on the peaceful squirrel as well, straining its credibility, and occasionally dragging it through a kind of symbolic brinkmanship where its every subtle gesture -- a raised eyebrow, an octopus head, or an extra-fluffy tail -- evoked some kind of sexual impropriety or cognitive lapse on the part of store management.  In weeks, Ray was out of a job.

But it didn't end there.  Having mastered the form of the Raccoon Supermarket squirrel, Ray could effortlessly inscribe it onto every sidewalk, dead bum, and piece of garbage in front of the store, where it coaxed once-faithful punters to load themselves into barges and plunder the mysteries of the deep, instead of purchasing high-margin fat-bars and party supplies.  Sometimes it appeared in local periodicals, adorned with lobsters, offering bribes and debts of favor to worthy seamen.

Tom was outraged.  He had known the squirrel since it was depicted wearing diapers, and couldn't suffer to see it employed as a lowly barge loader and shrimp pimp.  He summoned his most violent bag boys. "I want that squirrel back in the aisles by tomorrow," he burbled, "and I don't want to know how."

The bag boys labored all night, and the next day, Tom was greeted by the biggest Raccoon supermarket squirrel he had ever seen, sand-blasted onto the side of the city center cathedral, wielding a snorkel, a chainsaw, and a shotgun, and defiling every living creature in the sea.  "I hate the ocean," and "Shop at the Raccoon supermarket" were tattooed to various parts of its body. Its mouth was wrapped around a sixteen-gallon barrel of double-priced Twin Pines milk.

Tom resigned amid a massive environmental, graffiti, and price-gouging scandal.  His roommate and one-time employee, Ray, went on to paint the most profitable dewy-eyed whale-scapes in artistic history, based in part on his adventures with his friend and mentor Tom Bentley.  The two never stopped being the best of friends, and never faltered in their undying love for all aquatic life, and its watery mass-grave, the ocean.

The end.

10 August 2011

Research Department

The Research Department continues its efforts unabated, seeking to build an improved future with more storage space and better television. Most of the best ideas cannot be unveiled until full patent protection is obtained, but while you're waiting, check out this latest development in the area of vehicular safety. What we have here is a system that offers vehicle to pedestrian (V2P) communication as a means to prevent accidents and/or expedite funerals. For example, if a bus or other large vehicle is bearing down on a pedestrian, sensors immediately focus on the pedestrian’s eyes and, using sophisticated image processing algorithms, make a determination whether or not he/she sees the oncoming vehicle; if not, a warning signal is immediately sent out in the form of a text message to the pedestrian’s cell phone. Meanwhile, the truck’s horn is automatically honked and an electric shock administered to the driver. If the pedestrian fails to take evasive action, or to push star-2-7 before the vehicle plows into him/her, then the system automatically posts a status update on the pedestrian’s Faceplace wall to the effect that she just got run over, and then, based on GPS tracking software, indicates the appropriate hospital (or morgue) to visit and/or pick up the body. A customized condolence note is produced based on the msn chat content, the victim’s Facebase page will program the funeral music based on their faves, last words are automatically tweeted and friends can complete the entire grieving process in four or five clicks. Of course in most cases the system will render such unpleasantries unnecessary, but if, you know, god forbid, then, well, just think of the convenience!

25 July 2011

How to Cash in on the Monetization Craze

Everything that can be monetized, will be. What cannot be monetized shall be marginalized, downsized, ostracized, and ultimately excised. This has nothing to do with Adam Smith's The Wealth of Nations, but an awful lot of people seem to think everything does.

You've all heard the expression, Silence is Golden. Well we've been off the gold standard for quite some time now. Silence as we know it is set to become the next big thing. At first it will be the exclusive preserve of the wealthy elite but as prices drop and the technology matures many middle class Americans will have silence on tap in their homes and it may be provided for free in certain Buddhist monasteries and Starbucks coffee houses as a way to attract customers.

Air should be easily monetizable. Everyone needs it, there are clearly recognized differences in quality, people already pay for it in oxygen bars around the world, etc. Won't be long before Globochem patents new and improved oxygen, the old air is declared unsafe and the price fixing and price gouging becomes suffocating.

Spit must be worth something to somebody somewhere. 'That ain't worth spit' used to be a compliment, it meant, 'That is not worth as much as spit is', which was quite a lot in those days. These things move in cycles, and spit's time will come again.

Poop, of course, has already been monetized, they call it fertilizer and it sells like hotcakes. There is huge untapped monetization potential, however, in celebrity poop.

If you think walking down the street should be free then you are a commie socialist who doesn't understand the power of the free market. Walking down the street will cost more on nice days but, for the frugal and/or downtrodden, there will be steep discounts offered during earthquakes and thunderstorms.

Jogging will now cost you $2.75 per mile, biking $1.20 / mile, but horseback riding will remain free with the purchase of a medium soft drink.

The charge for tousling your son's hair will rise to $12,000; checks may be made payable to the Google corporation, newly registered owner of most of life's simple pleasures.

Basically, any time you so much as bat a proverbial eyelash you will be billed according to the amount of pleasure you experience. Prices for looking out the window will be fixed according to the scope of the panorama and the je ne sais quoi of the mise en scene. Staring into space will become prohibitively costly for the broad masses but will for that very reason be adopted as an ostentatious display of wealth among the glitterati.

The rights to do what you have to-date been doing free of charge have long since been patented and, once the proper legal framework is in place, enforcement will be both universal and punitive. There's no use doing a lot of hollering about it. You have too much to lose by not complying with every new order we send down the pipe. You're busy enough. Who's got time to complain, it never does any good. You've been meaning to cut back anyway.

You can opt out of any of the above services at any time by pressing star seven five on your touchtone phone and then sealing yourself up with a caulking gun.

30 June 2011

Sorry for the Lack of Posts Lately Guys (Redux)

I for one happen to love all them blogs that (for all in tents, and porpoises) are devoid of interesting let alone original content if not entirely dormant, save for a quarterly post apologizing for the infrequency of the idiotic posts. In a stirring tribute to the memory of keeping alive this sacred tradition, here's the Second Annual Apology for Not Posting More.

Sorry for the lack of posts lately guys! I've been so busy it is hard to fathom. On my way from Chicago to Abu Dhabi later this week, I was commissioned by some rich oil dudes to carve Bruce Springsteen's visage into some cliffs. It's a challenging project but I am excited for the opportunity. They're even putting me up in a hotel room for free and you should see it, it's completely furnished, I mean it's got a bed and everything.

Right now at this moment I'm flying a Cargoliner full of kelp samples from Sandusky to The Hague, the autopilot is on and seems to have things under control so let's see if I can't collect my thoughts and throw something together here before it's too late.

Mainly I've just been unimaginatively busy, my camera broke, the chickens got out again, I've been working two jobs and putting the finishing touches on my thesis, I have six kids four of whom've been sick all over everywhere, plus it's the busy season for the vole migration and I need to lay in enough to make it through the winter harvest, I've got a crink in my neck and my eyes are watering over more than usual, heck I could go on and on and on and on and on with the excuses but you don't care and neither do I, believe you me, so let's just get on with the new post for the love of the sake of peter h christ the third.

Last week it was elves again, elves this and elves that, frankly I'm a little sick of the whole business but if that's what it takes to operate a used furniture warehouse in this tough economic climate, then I am all for higher taxes for the rich if it will help fund a society-wide initiative to get rid of these infernal elves once and for all.

Oh and I've been depressed ever since my relationship ended and trees went on strike, I still can't believe that something I knew and trusted for so many years could turn around and do me like that. I thought blogging about it might help but now I'm convinced it won't. How could it?

Here's a thought: since oil takes so long to form from fossilized life forms, we had better get started yesterday burying as much organic matter as we can muster and as deeply as possible. Maybe we can deposit it in already emptied wells so that when it turns to oil the extraction equipment will be right there on site and ready to go. We cannot afford any more environmental catastrophes, that is fo shizzle.

Oh shit I kinda gotta go. Sorry the post is not longer but I'm pretty busy right now, we're plummeting into the sea and it looks like this may be the end for me as well as everyone on board, so in case some of them don't have access to blogging software and/or the inclination to update their blogs as we rapidly approach certain death, on their behalves I'd just like to take a few minutes here to elaborate on some thoughts that came to me after a lunch I had with my aunt the other day in Kiev -- oh christ I really should go here. I promise to post another update soon if I survive, if not then RIP to me and my blog, that's it, lights out.


The first annual apology for not posting more can be found
here.





24 June 2011

Legalize It

The time has come to legalize it.

No more fuzzy hand-wringing over the presumed tragic side effects.

Legalize it now.

The evils of prohibition far outweigh the evils of rampant abuse, even if such rampant abuse occasionally results in the destruction of families or hampers the spread of The Founder’s Message.

The tax revenue generated would be more than sufficient to cover the costs of cleaning up the inevitable messes (or, in the parlance of our times, negative externalities).

Other things are already legal which are far more harmful (e.g., frozen cheese, furniture polish, computer software, dentistry).

People have a god-given right to it, they are going to find some way to get it anyway, so why drive the whole thing underground?

Anything done in the privacy of one’s own boudoir that doesn’t wake the neighbors or cause long-term environmental damage should be legal.

Throwing these people into the penal system for their odd predilections is ruining too many young lives, and for what?

All of which is to say: Let it be resolved, that if two consenting adult humans want to double-team a panda, and the panda seems to be having a reasonably good time, why should that be against the law?

The answer, clearly, is that it should not. Be illegal, that is.

Legalize it. Now.

11 June 2011

About Blog

Many have inquired as to the precise nature of blog. Blog is difficult of description, and will resist arrest by running up a tree if you let it. Blog may perhaps best be described in terms of what it is and what it (most definitely) is not.

Things Blog Is.
Silly. Silliness is next to Godliness, and since God don't exist, Silly is all we've got. In most if not all cases, things make no sense. So why should blog?
Mine. It's not yours or anybody else's. Cogito ergo (and in) sum, (therefore) (I think) (I am) blog's blogger, the blogowner slash blogmaster, blogger of blog if you will.
Expensive. Astronomically so. The infrastructure and piping for blog cost over $3000 a minute to maintain, not to mention back office overhead and meeting donuts. Please Give Generously.
Good for the environment. Blog leaves a pleasing aftertaste and emits a subtle but unmistakable odor that eighty-four percent of the focus group rates favorably, every time.
A spy novel. See if you can follow the twists and turns in blog's rollicking plot, and solve the mystery before Inspector Snodgrass gets to the bottom of things.
Four boulders improbably stacked in an alpine meadow, the first call of the jackdaw at daybreak, the sound of cheese whizzing past your ear, a big mac with some fresh watercress thrown on there and just a squeeze of lemon.
Meant to be read aloud to your friends and enemies, to be shared during fireside conversations or discussed in passing with strangers on the subway, to be whispered into a loved one's ear preawakening. Though it is possible to enjoy blog without doing any of these things, it does mean you're not doing it right.
Comprehensive. All is contained in blog.

There are many other things which blog is, but these will suffice for now.

Blog Is Not
Furnace. Blog is not a furnace and burns neither diesel fuel nor titanium dioxide. Do not attempt to heat your home or office using blog .
Yours. It's not yours, it's mine. Now give it back.
Investment Advice. Blog is not a deeply insightful look at financial markets (such as they are). Just remember that you can never go wrong by investing in yourself.
FBI Field Manual. Blog will not help you deal with a hostage incident or teach you how to extract information from a terrorist in the super-exciting ticking-time-bomb scenario.
The skin on your true love's inner thigh. Please do not apply oil to, or lovingly stroke, blog.
Journal. The reader does not learn anything specific or of consequence about blogger or acquaintances of blogger from consuming blog.

There are many other things which blog is not, but these will do for now.

27 May 2011

Added Value

Saw dead frog crushed on sidewalk on way to work, took photos of it every morning for about three weeks. Ended up with a series of photos, from fresh crushed to completely disappeared, reflecting the endless cycle of change, of life, death, and decomposition leading to our ultimate nonexistence.

What I could not photograph was that frog's soul. Where is that frog's soul?

This is a classic case of what we in the industry call added value. From a dead frog, I have created a work of art potentially worth tens of hundreds of thousands, and I have created these dollars without taking from or injuring anyone. Admittedly I owe a debt to the family of the deceased frog, and I have in that event set up a trust in their name with the First Union Bank of the Pacific, located in the Marianas Trench behind the five and dime. Even should the trust remain unclaimed, I will rest a little easier knowing I have given meaning to and immortalized the existence of their relative, that this noble amphibian did not die in vain, that it was not for nothing pancaked.

But the reader is sure to ask, where does this value that I claim to have created actually reside? While no doubt one may spend many delightful hours thoughtfully dissecting the wide-ranging philosophical implications of the whole mess, speculating as to the meaning of existence (why oh why did that frog have to die? why was it ever born?) and the role of fate (why was it hopping by at precisely that instant?), the nature of art (what kind of moron takes photos of dead frogs?), and so forth, it must be admitted that in a pinch this epic photo series (which at this point, having been conceived but not actually executed, remains in point of fact a mere theoretical construct) --

The Plain People of Piscataway, New Jersey: Theoretical construct? Pipe down, we're watching the game here.
Myself: I do beg your forbearance. I avoid the big words in conversation but occasionally the pen does get carried away.
The Plain People of Piscataway, New Jersey: Sure whatever, just put a cork in it until halftime there, squirrel-boy.

-- would not be worth the proverbial paper it was printed on. Nonetheless, it may be safely ventured that, at auction, during good times, the photo series is apt to fetch significantly more than the crushed dead frog carcass. Ipso facto, added value.

But is art to be valued merely for the price it can fetch? Have not many of our finest artists been spurned in their lifetimes, barely scraping by while producing masterpieces now taught in the schools?

These and related questions will be explored exhaustively, during halftime. (Go Coogs!)

06 May 2011

Spray-on Foam Ham

Cooking Show, Episode 7: Spray-on Foam Ham with verdigris-encrusted baby shallots in a plutonium gravy, oh and country vegetables infused with slimy vermicelli on a bed of sopped oats. And ... action!

Greetings fellow frying-panomaniacs, get down your crockpots and wax those spatulas, today we're gonna do another spray-on foam ham, for those of you who bunked it up last week we'll give you another go at it, and let's dive right in. Everything's already chopped and ready over here so let's take a look at our ingredients:

  • 1 pound of mustard-based andalusian sausage marmalade (if you can't find marmalade pomenade will do, so long as it's mustard-based)
  • 1 medium onion, chopped in the Finnish style and then meticulously reassembled with modeling glue, lightly toasted on one side and run through a food processor, pureed and whipped into a petulant frenzy
  • 1 crumpled up paper bag, brushed lightly with olive oil and left on the back porch for 2 days
  • 6 large butter beans, peeled and halved
  • Several heaping handfuls of finest quality saffron (for garnish)
  • 1/4 cup essence of oregano (must be pure essence, i.e. contain 0% physical oregano)
  • Foam ham (2 pounds per person, sprayable)
  • Pinch of salt
First let's butter up a greased baking dish, set it firmly on top of the crumpled up paper bag and coat with bread crumbs, then set that aside to cool, preferably somewhere well-ventilated and unfamiliar to cockroaches.

Now in your main pot toss half of your butter beans together with the essence of oregano, just a smidgin of the whale blubber, dip it in your gutbucket like that, and as that's sizzling away add your onion and the andalusian marmalade, being careful not to firmly press your hand palm-down onto the frying pan surface. Rinse carefully and pat dry.

Using your modern stove, heat the pureed ham with 1/2 cup of bubble bath and simmer for 20 minutes a side, until it's nice and foamy in the middle and just ever so slightly chartreuse on both ends. Fold the ends over, add your bay leaf, and stir clockwise with the left hand for five minutes and then counterclockwise with the right for another five (don't ask, it's part of your training). You should now have a nice mess of smooth, richly balanced foam ham.

Next we apply the foam ham generously to our bone base. Go ahead and spray it on liberally, it should be light and foamy and clinging to the bone, there we go, just like that, mmm and that's gonna be absolutely delicious, nothing like fresh-sprayed-on foam ham right off the bone.

All right, let's have a look at our side dish over here, this is our clammy endives in a pinkish aubergine sauce, and that looks just absolutely ... well words fail me, let's just plate that, sprig of mayo and a big smile, pretend it doesn't smell like the inside of a rotting sea beast.

While your guests are enjoying all that delicious foam ham let's get to work on dessert. We've got some Ben and Jerry's over here, this is Bleu Cheese Olive Explosion, and we're gonna add just a splash of this ridiculously hard to find liqueur and some of this chocolate roumalade I spent two days making, a little bit of fresh mint right from Madonna's garden, and what could be better?

Now it's time to do the dishes so I wanna show you a little trick here that anyone can do. First put a little dishwashing soap in one of your pans and add some hot water, let that soak for a bit, then apply your sponge or scrubbing brush to remove the gunk, rinse it off and set it in the dishrack to dry, then do the same thing for the nine hundred other bowls and utensils we've soiled here today.

OK that's all the time we have for this week, hope you haven't bunked it up again but if you did, best give up, it's not good for you to come within three feet of a foam ham more than once a year. Next week I'll be making my famous ultra-mini-tacos, they're super tiny, soooo cute, and we've got special equipment on loan from a semiconductor foundry so we can put a nice little nano-dollop of sour cream next to every one.

Good night, happy pigging out, and don't forget to hug your oven for me.

02 May 2011

The Story So Far

When Austerity Measures were implemented, and when the Massive Layoff Stimulus Package was passed, we were among the only reliable news sources covering these important social developments.

Months before DADT was finally repealed, we were the first to reveal the policy that replaced it: Hush, Don't Speak.

When a Bananarama Mishap nearly wiped out humanity we broke that story, which passed largely unnoticed by the docile, corporate-controlled mainstream media.

Political chicanery and age-old internecine conflicts (whatever that means) bubbled to the surface and left a sticky residue that scuppered the hopes for unificationalism in The Europe.

Global warming continued to accelerate well into the Fall, when it seems to have died down for another year, at least in the northern hemisphere. This was among the only blogs covering the Shave the Earth Bald plan, and also offered some handy hints how individuals on all sides of the debate can take immediate action to prevent global climate change warming (or not).

We skewered the spambots (someone had to!) in The Spam Review.

Day Savings Time has proven a huge success and has improved the quality of life for millions of lazy slobs across this great nation of yours, mine, and ours.

Okay, enough. The Proverbial Bejesus remains dedicated to providing news and commentary free to the public in the coming set of months. But if I'm not making six figures off this by the end of next summer then to hell with it, why bother right, I can always go back to stuffing cannolis or canaries or whatever.

09 April 2011

Me for Dictator

Okay then, if we didn't know it by now this latest business just confirms it, our government is completely dysfunctional and we are coming to a crisis to which the only solution will be the institution of a dictatorship with all power concentrated in one office, one person. I would like to present myself as a candidate for head autocrat, by introducing a few of the steps I will take within my first 45 days of assuming office (weather permitting).

First, we're running out of oil, which could leave us completely [deleted], so the whole thing of flying all over the place all the time and then back across the country the next day is just too crazy, we'll be dialing that way back, right away. The number of flights from all airports will be reduced by a quarter in each of the next three years, and then capped at 25% of current levels for the next five years or so, then we'll take another look. Now I don't want to stop everyone from visiting their granny once in a while, but from now on one long distance flight a year is going to have to be enough. Each citizen will receive one personal exemption allowing for a limited number of flight miles per annum. To fly more than the allotment one may either purchase the allowance of a fellow citizen or pay a crazy tax, both of which will serve to enrich (if not enoble) the common man. Similarly, driving: limits are necessary but for the time being you will still be allowed to purchase gasoline in reasonable quantities once per month; using anything beyond your quota will mean paying others who are willing to make do with less for the privilege of consuming our last dwindling supplies of fossil fuels.

We are going to have to get used to not using gasoline for transport any more, this is going to hurt quite a bit but as your dictator it will be my responsibility to ensure the smoothest possible transition for the greatest number of the most deserving among you. Starting now and for the next several years, all engines smaller than a certain size shall be forbidden from running on gasoline. Leaf blowers, lawn mowers, chain saws, mopeds, golf carts, remote control rocket ships and so forth shall be required to run on batteries charged from renewable energy sources. If you wanna run wild on a snowmobile or ATV, first you're gonna have to charge that sucker up from sustainably harvested wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, etc. This will accelerate the learning curve and through simple scale-up of the best solutions to larger engines we will move completely off gasoline powered transport in the next 15 to 20 years. I have taken the liberty of drawing up more ambitious plans for large-scale sustainable transportation infrastructure with convenient service and great food, but let's leave that for another day.

And the bank thing, I mean come on, under my authority all the big banks will be quickly broken up into smaller community banks, credit unions, and drive thru soda fountains offering limited banking services and root beer floats. Reserve requirements shall be raised, bonuses curtailed (and in some cases taxed retroactively at 145%), perverse incentives eliminated, and predatory lenders thrown to the (loan)sharks.

Frivolous lawsuits will come before me and the panel and if judged overly or too frivolous, the bringer of the suit may be publicly flogged and then repeatedly thrown in the ocean, head first. If it happens a second time, death will come swiftly and without mercy. Frivolous lawsuits shall include attempts to get rich without work, to extract compensation from blameless others for one's own personal failings or plain bad luck, to bully a settlement from those too poor or otherwise unable to defend themselves, and so on. I'll know it when I see it, and I'll put a stop to it, I promise you that.

Speaking of deserving, a lot of people deserve better, while others have way more than they deserve. This hardly seems fair, and therefore shall not stand. I think we'll do some sort of assessment examining 'how you got your wealth', and if it doesn't sit right with me and the panel, some citizens may face a customized personalized tax plan (if not outright confiscation). Don't worry now, I'm only talking about the fabulously wealthy; if you've been working hard and saving your pennies, investing wisely and giving charitably, I promise you this, I will not raise your taxes and I will lower them where I can. But woe unto thee, denuder of hillsides and seller of the earth's bounty, bundler of incomprehensible securities and amasser of riches off the suffering of others: I may leave you a trailer home and a monthly allowance, but most of that mammon is going back to the people, in the form of better schools, parks, and public transportation.

It is important to me that all my people be happy, but unfortunately I will not have enough time to spend with each of you individually. Therefore you will hang my portrait in your entrance hall and bow down before my benevolent gaze twice daily, muttering the following benediction (but don't you dare look up and meet my eyes as you say it):
The leader is acting in my best interest and I thank him with all my heart, I am blessed to be a servant of the leader and his awesome policy prescriptions, and I pledge to devote my full energies to assuring their implementation, and as time allows, to baking cookies for the leader.
There will be suffering, but in many ways it will be a happier time. Please vote for me to be your absolute monarch. I will never betray your trust, and I won't try and leave the job for my kid, honest. Thank you.

04 April 2011

Number Verbed in Word String

Rambling Subtitle With Extraneous Verbiage too Lon

Oh and Cancer Cured

Some number of objects were subjected to some unspecified action of vaguely silly import. Um, in Khartoum last night. Fisticuffs on the scene were reprimanded, with key government witnesses wrapped up in cellophane and no contact with the doctors as of press time. Unsaid action is not expected to continue as sexy dolphins eat gruel, verbalizing the Marauders and calling it off ketchup until the final fricassee.

Oh yeah and in an unrelated development, cancer was cured yesterday as scientists working at the National Science Institute of Sciences discovered something that only kills the cancer and doesn't affect anything else, works instantly for everybody and no harmful side effects. So this is like a wonderful thing, another big check off the ol' to-do list for humanity, no more of this cancer crap, you just pop this little pill -- they're calling it 'Cancer-Be-Gone' -- and boom! Yer cured!

This is Derrick the Space Puppet, with the final fake news story, in Queensbridge.

18 March 2011

The Hyperlocalization of News


Given the following:

All humans are enmeshed in social networks. For evidence of this see the popularity of recent films about social networks.

Networks = Television. (Television networks.)

All people are insatiably hungry for news about their friends and enemies.

TV news and other so-called old media have crews of experienced reporters and news producers whose careers have been destroyed by the internet, just looking for something to do.

Increasingly ubiquitous internet (the so-called mobile web) on continuously better, faster, and cheaper devices, with a comprehensive cloud-based service platform allowing news to be produced and consumed 24/7/365.

It can easily be foreseen that:

The news audience will be carved into smaller and smaller niches until eventually there will be a 24 hour news channel devoted specifically to each and every existing social network.

Rather than ask your friends what they are doing, or taking the time to post and review those troublesome 'status updates', you will simply tune in to your local news network to get (in video, podcast, or interactive raspberry form/flavor) a neverending stream of professionally produced news reports about the people you care about most. At the same time, as you check in on your friends, several cameras are trained on you and you are being interviewed for an in-depth feature that will air live, and then be repeated on a continuous loop for the rest of eternity, with updates every twenty minutes on the half-hour.

At first it will mainly be news, but soon enough a class of pundits will arise, offering weekly half-hour roundtables with commentary and analysis thoughtfully dissecting the slightest minutiae of you and everyone you know (with, however, a somewhat light touch). Afterschool specials will recount touching moments that will teach life lessons about everyone to everyone else, non stop. Expect crews of reporters following your every move, impromptu press conferences after every fruit salad or bowel movement, and so forth.

For the Brad Pitts and Mortimer Stokeses of this world the change may be small and perhaps even imperceptible. But for you and I and those of our ilkness, there will be an adjustment period. We may need to hire a media coach, and perhaps a personal bubble-wrapper, as we learn to negotiate the tricky contingencies of modern celebrity.

It's a good thing we have all these handy devices to connect seamlessly to the ubiquitous internetwork, because we are all going to be a lot busier in the future, and the future is getting closer and closer with each passing day. Man it never stops, and neither must we.

03 March 2011

Time Stops Again

Time itself, that cheap inviting bastard who flies when you'd have him crawl, and crawls when you wish he'd fly (e.g. when you're crawling with flies), stopped again on Thursday at 10:24 a.m., as the Central Clock went kerflooey and the fabric of the universe was once more torn asunder, whatever on earth that means. None reported hurt and no injured, Kent, no one seems to really know what happened, or if anything at all happened, and frankly some are starting to once again ponder the age-old questions, the nature of the cosmos, its source and its ultimate destiny, and the meaning of the fact that no good answer exists to the question of the meaning of existence.

People are kind of falling into two camps on this one, with one camp insisting that time actually stopped this morning, and for several days, though no on can really say how long it lasted, while the other side, in fact the vast majority of the citizenry, seems not to have noticed and continued about their business more or less as usual. There were scattered reports of a palpable weirdness, a definite oozy thickness to the atmosphere, and many if not most of the basic rules of the physical universe seem to have been suspended (one example being the law of conservation of energy, which states that great players save a little something for crunch time). Still, most assumed it was some combination of lack of sleep, gastrointestinal distress, or overindulgence in spirituous liquors, and bravely pushed on with their day.

Authorities are calling all this talk of time stopping "a lot of dangerous nonsense," fearing that any anomalies in the flow of time could cause jitters among already-nervous investors and send them fleeing for the exits in a panic that could scupper the prospects for a robust period of growth for the markets, i.e. more free money for everyone involved. Allegations in the blogosphere that the time stoppage was engineered by Goldmen Sax so that their trading algorithms could rake in another zillion remain unsubstantiated, which is not to say disconfirmed, so you just go right ahead and believe what you want to believe, apocalypse be damned.

Many who claim to have experienced the stoppage were people who were meditating, as well as some (although interestingly not all) of those who were playing music at the time. One dude speculated that what happened was that they were so in the moment that when the moment stopped, they were still able to move and flow freely, inside of it. Asked to describe the sensation, the consensus is that it was pretty, you know, like, "heavy."

And then, whether or not it actually and in fact did happen, it was over. Snap! Just like that.

Physicists at the Institute for the Study of Time said they didn't notice anything, they were 'on break' at 'the time.' Then they started parroting my questions back at me but with extensive, inappropriate uses of air quotes, all while giggling uncontrollably; after twenty minutes I got tired of waiting for them to stop and I left. I don't know what they're smoking, chewing, snorting or shooting over at the Institute these days but I'd like to boil it, distill it and slip a little into my coffee one of these Sunday mornings.

Central Timekeeping was flummoxed, no one from the department could give a good account of what happened. Conflicting stories about the readings on their instruments at the critical moments in question were leaked to the media, and all we could get was an assurance that they would look into the matter thoroughly in due course. In other words, don't hold your breath.

Questions regarding this alleged event or non-event are many and perhaps, in the end, unanswerable.

If it did happen, how could it be verified? Does time stop all the time and we just have no way of knowing? Is this why people spend so much for a Rolex?

Is it even possible for time to stop? To speed up, slow down, or flow in other directions? And not just theoretically, but for humans to actually experience the fluctuations and live to describe them in comprehensible terms?

If a glass were falling, and time really did stop, does the glass just hang there in the air?

If time stops, how do you measure how long it stopped for?

What is time?

[Pauses, looks uncomfortably at shoes.]

We'll be right back.

15 February 2011

Video Games are Here to Stay

My fellow citizens. On venturing out into the real world (yes, the other day) I observed first-hand a number of the king's subjects investing significant time and resources in, and reaping many hours of enjoyment from, video games.

For those unfamiliar with the phenomenon, a "video game" is a simulacrum of a scenario where you play a game inside your television. It is all done using sophisticated mini-supercomputers that get in there behind the screen and change the TV's function from broadcast to simulation. For example, you may act as a tank commander charged with rescuing a prince or princess from the jaws of an angry minotaur, or an athlete joining one of your favorite sport teams to engage in ball or puck play. Normally how it works is that you identify with and control the action of a particular character or colored shape; some games let you control up to several colored shapes at once or in a sort of series as one either completes its mission or is destroyed and is then succeeded by the next. Play continues until you have had too much fun and simply cannot stand to have any more.

The following two statements are undeniably true:

1) Video games are a pleasant and often wonderful diversion from everyday reality.
2) Video games are a complete waste of time and should be immediately outlawed.

So how does the wise man reconcile this apparent conflict?

At the last board meeting we agreed that video games cause no harm in and of themselves, but do result in what Wittgenstein called a 'lost opportunity' cost (citation needed). That is, they eat tremendous blocks of time but leave the participant no better off, unimproved along any dimension except the ability to play the game and often in a dazed, exhausted yet vaguely agitated state.

Nonetheless, video games shall not be banned in the realm for the time being, and the previous edict to the effect that any time a video game console is seen it shall be struck with a sledgehammer, and anyone caught playing the game sentenced to six months of hard labor, is hereby rescinded. Instead, new law: any time spent playing video games shall be offset by time spent reading, at a ratio of 1:4; that is, four hours shall be spent reading for every one hour of video game play. And we're talking books here, Facespace doesn't count, internet reading can count for up to 25%, we understand there are lots of good sources and blogs on here but part of the point is to get people unplugged; comics max 30%, as long as at least two distinct genres of comic book are consumed.

If this law is enacted and ruthlessly enforced, future generations will thank us. Let us put our heads, hands, and hearts together to prove that our kingdom can once again lead the world in both reading comprehension and Dungeon of Leprechauns IV.

Good night, god bless, and may god bless this great nation of ours, and video games.

10 February 2011

Wisdom Sciopolis

Since the first Wisdom Sciopolis portal building was established in the time of the Quakers, those not privy to the secret workings of this advanced society have speculated, like, What's going on in there?Wisdom Sciopolis is hosted by The Proverbial Bejesus. Whatever that means.

Wisdom Sciopolis is the modern realization of Plato's kingdom of philosophers. The portal buildings are just that, sophisticated gateways to a highly advanced subterranean society. It is not known how many wise and enlightened beings reside in what is reputedly quite a nice setup they have down there, deep in the middle of the Earth, harnessing free unlimited power from its timeless geologic processes, making as much gold as they require using the ancient arts of metallurgy, alchemy, necromancy, all that song and dance, then coming to the surface to sell same and enjoy the ocean beaches and mountain lakes, and of course all the excellent shopping and fine dining that the surface of the Earth has to offer.

Wisdom Sciopolis is a utopia, at least in the sense that there are no unreasonable laws, no unpredictable violence and none of the offensive disgusting behavior that is the hallmark of modern surface man.

In Wisdom Sciopolis, everything works as it should:
  • The trains always run on time; there are no planes or automobiles.
  • Up is whichever way you happen to be pointing at the time.
  • Outsized steaks are rarely consumed and never, ever, frozen.
  • Everyone works together for the good of the community, no one's slacking off but if you're feeling a bit under the weather you can stay home today, that's cool.
  • The shopping is not that great, but the consuming is out of this world.
  • No one is too rich or poor to buy a neighbor dinner, but no one is hungry enough to eat anyway, even though the food is awesome and there's always leftovers, they can never finish it all, here take a plate back up for your lunch tomorrow.
  • Doing what needs to be done comes first, but plenty of time is left over for music, philosophy, and spontaneous gaiety. Every third Saturday is homemade caramel day.
Applications to enter Wisdom Sciopolis may be submitted on Wednesdays between 12:00 and 2:00 p.m., and are processed on a revolving, "First enlightened, first served" basis.