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The Metaphor(s) I’m Not Ignoring

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Department Of It’s The Apocalypse…
And Here I Am, Still In My Yoga Pants

“…what does not kill me makes me stronger.”
(often paraphrased “That which does not kill me/us makes me/us stronger,” from Twilight of the Idols, by German philosopher and scholar Friedrich Nietzsche

While inspiring at first glance, that line always makes me think of…the alternatives. That which does not kill me may make me stronger, OR it may…

* suck all the energy out of my nostrils and leave my withered parsnip of a body slouched on the couch, good for nothing but cat hairball storage….

* ricochet off my lower jaw, leaving a nasty scar and ruining my burgeoning career as a WaterPik ® model while also taking out the totally innocent dude who had the misfortune of sitting  next to me on the light rail train…

* leave me with hemorrhoids and stretch marks and a petty yet profound, WTF?!?!? resentment of those who remember the excruciating pain of unmedicated childbirth as the happiest day of my life….

Not that any of the above are bad things.

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sloth

Also not a bad thing – cute animal pictures.

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Speaking Of What Does Or Doesn’t Kill You

Longtime friends and former neighbors, a Swedish-Canadian couple, temporarily relocated to Sweden last month. Over the years I have enjoyed getting their perspective on American culture and politics. In response to a recent lament from moiself re the current state of affairs, the female Swenadian had this to say:

We’re fine on this end of the ocean. Like everyone one at home we are sickened by Trump’s reign of terror so far….We’ve decided we need to have Trump-free conversation times so every dinner isn’t hijacked by the a******….

She encouraged me to hang in there by passing along this observation from the other Swenadian: He (Trump) is old, doesn’t eat healthy, and is always mad. Shouldn’t that add up to a heart attack?

Ah, sweet dreams are made of these…

…until I considered the fact that, in my experience, such people don’t have heart attacks, they cause them in others. They are carriers. Typhoid Mary, meet Cardiac Agent Orange.

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Department of Fuck, Yeah

For a moment I sez to moiself, can you believe it’s gotten to this – I’m hoping for a heart attack on someone? Considering the alternatives….

 

 

 

martha

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Ever since the Women’s March I keep having these epic/spectacle, Cecil B. DeMille cast of thousands/ dreams…and I am so dating myself by are using that reference. Perhaps it should read, George Lucas/CGI cast of green screen avatars….

Yet again, I digress. Y’all may get the point, anyway. In these dreams, I am living in a society attacked by outside forces which have mind-controlled many of the society’s citizens. There is a Resistance Movement, organized and guided by a young woman who looks like a cross between the lead actor in Rogue One  and the child actor who played Laura Ingalls in the TV series Little House on the Prairie…which may not bring to mind visions of smart/cutting/courageous leadership, but trust me, she’s effective.

Although I am an active participant in the dreams I am also vaguely aware that the scenarios are dreams, and keep trying to get myself out of them because, frankly, they are exhausting. I manage to wake myself up, get a drink of water, return to bed, go back to sleep…then, despite my best subconscious efforts, the pattern repeats.

After three nights of this I realized what my subconscious was/is telling me: I feel like we are in some kind of resistance, in our own country, against those who presume to lead us. Those who present us with frightening Orwellian concepts like alternative facts seem to be totally unaware that they are doing so, and likely have no firsthand knowledge of the concept Orwellian. They seem to be as culturally illiterate as they are morally bankrupt, even to the point that their leader, the Agent Orange/Predator-in-Chief essentially bragged about how he doesn’t read books.

Yet we marvel at Orwell’s prescience, as his Newspeak, Blackwhite, Doublespeak and other totalitarian obfuscation concepts have gone from to dystopian fantasy to Trumpian reality, in the form of what the CHOTUS [1] himself, his inner circle, and his supporters are saying, with jaw-droppingly straight faces.

Alternative facts.

 

 

grannyshock

I never thought I’d live to see the day when such cognitive buggery was flaunted!

 

 

 

The Rest of Us ®  can help out by refusing to use the far-right’s language of obfuscation. The Alt right movement sounds…relatively harmless, like a genre of rock music. [2]   Call those people and organizations what, upon examination of their beliefs and ideals, they actually are: social media savvy versions of the White Supremacist/NeoNazi/White Identity movements.

Facts do not have “alternatives.” Five is not an alternative answer to the question, What does 2+2 equal?  You may have your own feelings and opinions about what a fact means to you, but you can’t have your own facts. The alternative to a fact is, in fact, a falsehood…a fiction…a fabrication…an untruth – an ignorance at best, but most realistically and expediently as per the Trumpsters, a lie.

 

 

dumpsters

I wrote Trumpsters, not dumpsters.  On second thought….

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Department Of And Now For…(oh, you know)

different

 

 

Blast from the past: Fifty years ago, Bobbie Gentry’s haunting ballad, Ode to Billie Joe, became a national and international hit song. Fifty years later, the song’s lyrical linchpin is still one of the popular music’s best kept secrets, one that, IMHO, continues to best even the theories regarding who was the you in Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain.

Speculation abounds, and we still don’t know what was the somethin’ the song’s narrator and Billie Joe McAllister threw off the Tallahatchie Bridge.  And that, along with the fact that OTBJ is one marvelous, Southern Gothic tragedy of a tale, is what makes OTBJ so compelling, even after all these years.

Bobbie, Carly – girlfriends, are you listening? Please, for the sake of those of us who appreciate the art of a finely drawn mystery: continue to be the class acts you have shown yourselves to be, and take your respective lyrical secrets to your respective graves.

 

otbj

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Department Of Once Again I Find Myself Yelling Into Thin Air

Make that thin, windy air, as was the case Wednesday morning when, out for my morning constitutional, I was listening to a Radiolab podcast.  As is often the cast with Radiolab episodes, there were several orbital tales which circled a central issue/event/story – in this case, how the people of Guadeloupe [3] held a special place in their hearts and minds for the Guadeloupe raccoon, largely because the destructive omnivores cute creatures were  thought to be a separate species distinctive to the region, and then how Guadeloupians reacted when taxonomic and genetic analysis done by scientists and natural history museums revealed the Guadeloupe raccoon to be a common raccoon native to North America.  [4]

The episode, titled Stranger In Paradise, was one I enjoyed on many levels, including the fact that it made me think of my daughter Belle, and her work with her school’s Slater Museum Of Natural History. What got me yelling to the podcast myself was when the episode’s host was discussing, with one of the scientists involved in the GR’s “de” classification, the ramifications of the scientific revelation. Most Guadeloupians were not at all happy to have an animal they’d elevated to an unofficial national symbol turn out to be an imposter (re its distinctiveness). The host asked the scientist whether or not it was a good thing for a biological truth to override or correct a cultural legend – essentially, whether or not the truth about GRs should matter:

“One of the deep questions to this story is…you came to a scientific truth, and the question becomes, should that scientific truth win the day?”

“Are you fucking kidding?!?!? I screamed to myself. Withhold facts (aka the truth, the most up-to-date evidence) from people because it might upset them?

 

 

 

 

I was momentarily furious with the host for even asking such a question, until I realized its inevitability. The Guadeloupe raccoon brouhaha: yet another for human cognitive biases, who knew?

We humans like our stories – particularly those which make us feel special. Our own species [5]  tends to criticize, discount and even ignore that which contradicts our beliefs, sometimes to the point of doing the intellectual equivalent of covering our ears with our hands and chanting Nyah Nyah Nyah blah blah I CAN’T HEAR YOU when confronted with new evidence.

Upset our alternative facts with your pesky reality and you’ll deal with the cultural consequences.

 

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Department Of
You Mean You’re The Lunatic Who’s Responsible For Destroying My Country Ship?!

 

Speaking of metaphors….

We need one or two (or a dozen or more) Republican and Democrat representatives with the cojones/ovaries to assume command from a lunatic. Right now, in our country, the in-over-his-head, thinks-he’s-Da-Boss-but-is-actually-the-delusional-maniac-who-will-lead-us-all-to-our-deaths, Commodore Decker is being played by….can you guess?

 

 

 

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May you be as taxonomically distinctive as your heart desires;
May you listen to your head when your heart desires stupid shit;
May our current political nightmare stop happening during the daytime;
…and may the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!

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[1] Cheetos Hitler of the United States, he who is not worthy of the POTUS acronym.

[2] Yeah, Emo music could sound a little too much like “Ricky Nelson doing the Sex Pistols,” but it’s not like it was a danger to society.

[3] A French region consisting of islands in the Lesser Antilles island chain of the Caribbean Sea.

[4] Thus, not only was the RG nothing special, it was likely an invasive species, posing a danger to the islands’ limited ecosystem.

[5] Arguably, the most invasive species on planet Terra.

The Power Within I’m Not Unleashing

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Remember the old station wagons, with the reverse rear seat?  Raise your hand if you were a way way back sitter.  Moiself, too.

Waywayback

The Way Way Back. You must see this film, although you may have to wait until it comes out on DVD.  The life of an independent film during the What’s Left For Bruce Willis To Blow Up?, Boom-Boom summer season blockbusters is a brief one.

The Way Way Back got me to thinking about another independent gem of a film, [1] 2006’s Little Miss Sunshine, which got me to re-watching LMS, which got me thinking about the pivotal scene in which Richard, who is trying to make it as a motivational speaker/life coach via his “Nine Steps to Success” program, confronts the agent who has been avoiding his phone calls, the aptly named Stan Grossman.

Richard:
You said it would sell…!

Stan:
That’s what I thought. At the Time.

Richard:
But it’s a great program! You said yourself!   I don’t understand…

Stan
It’s not the program, Richard, it’s you, okay?  No one’s heard of you.  Nobody cares.

…which got me to thinking about the strange phenomenon that is the circular, bastard stepchild of a pyramid-scheming-evangelical-preacher-snake-oil-huckster, Motivation/Success Seminar empire, of which infomercial giant Tony Robbins is the (self-crowned) king.

TR and his imitators are hawking nothing new – it’s all a repackaging and spinning of the positive-thinking, How To Win Friends and Influence People shtick.  There are and always have been legions of people who will listen to anyone with charismatic oratory skills who dresses and sounds and looks “successful” and talks about how successful he is and how he is therefore The One who can help you obtain the magic success formula (paging PT Barnum, please pick up your residuals check in the lobby).

I can’t help but wonder.  What with the “millions” of people attending TR’s Unleash the Power Within  seminars and rallies and Master University sessions and studying The Ultimate Edge tapes (described on his website as “The World’s #1 Personal Achievement System)”  [2]  – including, as per TR’s unsubstantiated mouth fart claim, “leaders around the world” – why isn’t the world a different, more successful place?

Golly gee, if TR’s [3] ultimate edge formula was even marginally effective I’d expect to be ultimately edged out on a simple trip to the grocery store, what with all those power unleashers and fire walkers (after their second and third-degree burns were treated) successfully congregating in the produce aisle.  They’d be everywhere, right?

Other than convincing less successful and/or minimally edged people to give him lots of $$, making him wealthy and adding to his I know the secret to wealth credentials (in the minds of the kind of people who consider purchasing lottery tickets to be a reasonable financial investment strategy), what has TR actually accomplished?  I mean, other than surviving the first and only Clydesdale-to-human head transplant:

TonyRobbins

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Consumer Alert
The consequences of online shopping:

After ordering a festive housewarming gift for a friend, you may receive the following email from the seller’s customer service department:

Are you satisfied with Hawaiian Aloha Hula Girl Yellow Skirt Desk Home Office Computer Duster?  Dear Robyn Parnell, we want to ensure you’re satisfied with Hawaiian Hawaii Aloha Hula Girl Yellow Skirt Desk Home Office Computer Duster! If you’re dissatisfied in any way, give us a chance to make things right….    

That’s thoughtful, but, totally unnecessary.  How could I – how could anyone – be dissatisfied in any way with a Hawaiian Hawaii Aloha Hula Girl Yellow Skirt Desk Home Office Computer Duster?

HULAGIRL

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“Why is it that when people die, we make such an effort to turn them into saints?
Especially when the entire reason we loved them so much in the first place is because they weren’t.”

That is just one of many passages I highlighted from a book in which I least expected to find highlight-worthy passages.  (It’s okay; read that sentence several times, sober or otherwise, and it’ll eventually make sense).

The book is by actor and standup comedian Alison Arngrim, best known for playing the love-to-hate-her character Nellie Oleson in TV’s long-running Little House on the Prairie. While looking for a picture to accompany a posting on The Mighty Quinn Facebook page (topic: memorable book villains and/or bullies), I came the name of the memoir Arngrim penned.  Who am I to resist a title like, “Confessions of a Prairie Bitch: How I Survived Nellie Oleson and Learned to Love Being Hated

NELLIE

I was initially surprised at my enjoyment of both the book and the author’s style, until I considered her years on the stand-up circuit, where she had time to develop her “voice.” Arngrim’s conversational, droll ironic narrative deftly serves her recounting life with her unconventional parents [4] and then was like an anvil to my head when she matter-of-factly recounts her years of physical and sexual abuse by her older brother.

I love this passage, from a chapter wherein she describes her friendship and early encounters with the man who would become her husband.  No wonder she married him.

I called his home number one day and got his answering machine. I was greeted with a terrible, high-pitched grinding sound, a screaming roar from the pit of hell. I later asked him what on earth it was.

“Oh, that’s my guitar solo,” he replied.

“A guitar solo?” I asked incredulously. I didn’t even know he played guitar.

“Yes. It’s from a song I’ve been working on. It’s called ‘Gozdilla Christmas.'”

Godzilla

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As part of our CSA membership we are required to help with the harvest at least twice during the farm’s  29-week growing season.  Son K and I did a harvest help shift on Wednesday, picking herbs, 3 varieties of green beans, and finally tomatoes.  While gathering bushels of the latter crop, I came upon a special specimen. “This one is mine,” I gloated, for obvious reasons.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

May all your produce be as photogenic, and let the hijinks ensue.

Thanks for stopping by.  Au Vendredi!


[1] With an incestuous relationship to TWWB, as per shared cast members, studio and production staff.

[2] The #2 “personal achievement system” is some kind of battery operated marital aid.  Or so I’m told.

[3] Or Jim Rohn or Jack Canfield and his “Chicken Soup” or any of the stars on the Self Motivation tour.

[4] Her father was a closeted (if only is his mind; it was obvious to every around him) gay who was Liberace’s personal manager and her stardom-seeking mother provided the voices of, among many cartoon favorites,   Gumby and Casper the friendly Ghost.