Category Archives: Whimsical

Wistful List

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Listen, I don’t know why they call them ‘flights’ of stairs because I sure as heck am not doing any flying as I go up.

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If I had to describe that guy’s face in 4 words, it would be, “It’s a publicity stunt.”

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From the book of quotes, “Said No One Ever…”

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Instead of a driving test, I wish we could make everyone write an essay, using complete sentences and basic logic, about any topic of their choosing.

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Honestly, I think kids are more afraid of being sent to Mathghanistan.

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Even more important than ‘Dry Counties,’ Arkansas definitely needs some ‘Silent Counties,’ too.

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The problem with “Shark Tank” and things like it is the presumption that prevailing wisdom has much to do with future trends. Most shocking innovations came from the ether, usually at the expense of the inventor’s sanity or financial safety. It’s why I don’t listen too much to the white-haired folk as they predict what’s to come. The truly inspirational will arise from the minds of the young people, the ones so often mocked for their alleged lack of ingenuity. Throughout history, most of the triumphant discoveries have been made by those without lengthy credentials, as their predecessors scoff and hover over their shoulders.

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It’s amazing how a day can go from “incredible” to “Jason Rapert” in the blink of an eye.

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For the discerning country boy, the one who needs a quality imaging device for his workstation…

Introducing, the Lynyrd Scannyr.

Soon to be featured on “Amazon’s Most Amazing Products,” assuming you’re done groaning by then.

(Aside from my awesome invention, above, a fact that is 100% true: one of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s original names was “The 1%,” a name which would be the curse of death for any group attempting popularity with its target audience today.)

 

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“The shadow knows…”

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“For 8 years a black man endured scrutiny without scandal. Now it’s time for an orange one to tweet himself into retirement.” -x

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“The failure of exhorting people to do good is that almost no one recognizes fully their own capacity to do harm.” – X

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I heard Tom Cotton got to write a Foreword for Jane Chancy’s new book, “The Easy Path To Living Compassion.” It seemed like a great idea until I read what he wrote for the author: “Your problems aren’t real.” I give him points for clarity, at least.

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I don’t have the original version of this story. I once told it as part of a class and I half-expected tomatoes to pummel me. Luckily for me, no one knew for certain what “pummel” meant anymore. (Or carry whole tomatoes with them, either.)

As with the TV show “Fargo,” this story is true, with the names of the guilty changed. Let this story serve as a warning to those who feel like they should do exactly as they are told and to those in charge who limit critical thinking in service to fearful obedience.

A middle-aged man fell to his death from the 5th floor suite at a local tourist hotel. Whether he had been thrown in a fit of passionate rage or had jumped due to a lack of clean towels in his room was yet to be determined. Gravity wasn’t to blame, which meant that most likely a person was.

Captain Morelli got the supervisory call, as he was assigned the next reported death. He was known as a spit-and-polish stickler for detail, demanding that not only should every “t” be crossed, but that it be done left-to-right every time. He had been known to pull his revolver even while swearing an oath, just to be sure that everyone knew they were dealing with a serious officer.

As soon as Captain Morelli arrived on scene, he demanded that Officer Thomas and Officer Smith, the 2 patrol policemen who had answered the 911 call and arrived first, figure out exactly how the deceased fell into that position.

Just as Morelli began to shout additional directions, there was another reported death, so he had to leave the officers to do their work until the rest of the forensic team followed up.

“Figure out exactly how he fell like that!” Morelli shouted to the two cowering officers before he departed the scene, pointing in the direction of the now-outlined body on the pavement.

About 20 minutes later, Captain Morelli’s walkie-talkie began crackling: “Sir, you need to get back here to the falling death scene.”

“What now?” Morelli cursed as he jumped into his car to drive back to the hotel.

Just as he pulled up, he could see what the problem was. Officers Thomas and Smith were swinging the victim’s body back and forth up on the 5th floor. Before he had time to scream “STOP!” the officers had hurled the body across the low railing and onto the parking lot several stories below, missing the original body outline by several feet.

“What the F are you two idiots doing!” Captain Morelli screamed upward, startling the two officers who were watching the body plummet from the upper balcony.

Scared, yet knowing Morelli was going to demand answers, Officer Smith leaned over and hollered, “We couldn’t get the body to fall into position the first 3 times we did it.”

Mismatched Fingers of Color and Delight

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People are craving the weird and eccentric, even when they may not even know it. Sure, we like pants whose legs are both the same length and houses painted more or less one color – and even food that bears some resemblance to its assigned name. As for me, I’d prefer to live in a world of spilled paint, one adorned with mismatched clothing and polychromatic houses spelling doom for a bored eye. It would be a carpenter’s dream to build in such a world. (But a carpet installer’s nightmare.)

Being around people, though, demonstrates that their eyes are drawn to those things less expected and strange. They may behave differently about it if they feel they are being observed, but the fascination with the novel is undeniable. Given a way to stop and look at something, they usually will, provided life gives them a moment to do so. Too much of our daily life is devoted to cursory swipe-left or swipe-right stimulus, rapid judgments without careful insight. It’s true that we tend to enjoy the feeling or familiarity. I’m not arguing specifically against that tendency, but instead am pointing out that if given a chance, people will frequently step off the known path for a weird stroll. The more they choose to do so, the less appeal the black and white world holds for them.

This week, I had the opportunity to watch and listen to a multitude of voices. When given the chance, I would sit and draw strange things. Some years, I’ve done 20+ feet of artwork along the paper-laden tables in the common areas where people congregate. All of the writing and drawing occurs where people constantly pass by, most taking at least a stolen look at whatever I’m doing. Some projects go quickly, whereas others take hours.

People stop and comment, most of them engaging with humor and relatively striking admissions about art, their lives, or how they wish they were more creative or able to do whimsical things. This week, several asked me if I were an art teacher, a writer, or something impossible to guess; I take these wrong guesses as high praise. We all need a plumber when the tides rise, so to speak, but it is the unseen and shared je ne sais quoi underlying our motivations that truly make the extra step worthwhile.

The passersby perhaps think they are observing me; however, I’m certain I’m getting more from the interaction than they are. The “What in the heck….?” type of reaction never fails to amuse me. I suppose that some expect me to be engrossed in drawing something pragmatic, such as a large intestine with vascular indicators – or a boat sailing along a riverbank filled with somersaulting otters.

One of the teachers who expressed interest in what I was doing asked me, “How do you get the detail so exact?” Her question puzzled me, so I asked in return, “Why do you think I had a vision in mind? Life doesn’t work that way – and even when it does, everything changes once we’re halfway through.” She laughed, “It seems like you were just waiting for me to ask something like that.”

Several people shared their stories with me, while others told me about things which sprang to their minds when watching me draw. All of them had something interesting to say, something which was already perched inside of them, waiting to stretch out into the world.

For those trying to make sense of what I was drawing, I would offer a spontaneous interpretation for each, with my goal being to devise a new explanation for each person asking.

The scale of the picture is much larger than you would imagine: the paper stretched across a full-size cafeteria table. I couldn’t take a picture of it unless I had dangled by a harness from the ceiling. Given that I’m three times the girth of Tom Cruise, I opted to avoid buying the school a new ceiling. This time, instead of leaving all of my work for the puzzled maintenance staff, I cut one piece of it off and brought it home. One person insisted on writing a compliment to the artist, so I brought that, too.

Most years, I leave the tables intact, with whatever I’ve created upon them. No matter how diligently you work, even on a whim, you simply are going to get up from the table one day, without even a glance behind you, and leave this world. Some of us will lament, “Not enough time!” while others will just shrug their shoulders and admit, “I didn’t make enough time.”

I’m hoping that you have color-stained fingers and a mind stuffed to the rafters with strange ideas when it’s your turn to go. You have permission to lead a normal, unflinching life, but it’s possible to lead a normal life and still have your hair full of crazy straws and pockets filled with half-scribbled notes to yourself.

I learned a lot this week, as I always do. I met new friends and shared outrageous jokes. However life is measured, my mind grew a bit, which is more than many days offer.

 

 

Ponder That Day

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Each of you should imagine stepping back in time tonight, no matter how long the leap you contemplate. Before you pause to consider the illogical impossibility of such an act, I’d ask you to struggle to remember a long forgotten voice, a familiar dish being prepared in the kitchen, just as you can almost hear the impatient clang of pans in difficult to reach cabinets or the rough embrace of someone who rarely hugged without the accompaniment of a joyous incantation of your own name from their lips. It could be the sound of an old 45 record as the needle drops unceremoniously and as the music eerily resonates over magnetic speakers, the image of a stretched green or yellow phone cord coming from the dining room – or it could be the hot feel of the seat of an old car as you jumped inside on a summer day, the idea of a seat belt a laughable imposition. All that seemed to matter was the eternal question of “What next?”
 
It is the month of June and regardless of your road to adulthood, most of us shared moments forged in detachment from the pressures of an adult world. If we were lucky, we piled into cars with our own families; if we were not, we joyfully did so with surrogates who gladly served in their absence.
 
Who among us would not leap without question if only to test our memories against those recollected moments? Anyone who would not deserves our envy because their life now exceeds the promise of a remembered life.
 
The advantage of age is that we seem to realize that we will never pause with enough force to appreciate the burn of a summer car seat or to impatiently wait for the break of a new day the next morning when sleep seemed to be an admission of loss.

 

A Fine Morning

 

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The birds floated above me, even as the rain came and went, in five-second bursts, as if controlled by some intermittent unseen switch. It’s easy to imagine that the world is permanently comatose on such mornings. The cool air and light breeze make walking around almost divine, especially given that no day of work lay ahead of me on this day.

It stormed here last night. The winds on the east side of my neighborhood somehow were more atrocious than elsewhere; as I walked in the sparse light, I could see that one neighbor’s air conditioning unit was titled sideways, partially off its pad. Slats of someone’s forgotten IKEA-knockoff were scattered in the road as if tossed there by some angry Christmas-morning father.

There exists no scene more urban than dozens of scattered and windblown trash and recycle bins tossed around randomly. As people sleepily look outside, they are going to mildly curse and weigh the benefits of leaving them scattered or pick them up later, when their enthusiasm for the day might have brightened. Most will choose coffee and procrastination, the stuff by which American dreams are powered. Those lucky or unlucky enough to have teenagers in the house will vainly attempt to shout them into going outside and picking them up at some point in the morning.

 

PS: It was difficult for me to avoid adding a Godzilla or two to this picture.

A Mixed Bag of Thoughts

“You have a way with words, and I’m surprised words haven’t pressed charges.” – X

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A reminder that we don’t share the same outlook on time or of ‘priority,’ a modern word distorted to fool us into thinking whatever we are doing is necessary.

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Recently, I wrote the following on another friend’s social media. A big argument had developed, as it always seems to, about privilege. I wrote it almost involuntarily and although it’s imperfect, it caused the imagined reaction.

“Too much protesting these days,” the man said, wiping his already reddened neck, heated by the overhead sun. Behind him, I could see his immense house shimmering, his two vehicles sitting in the driveway.

“If you ask me, these colored folks need to learn their place. All this protesting is just going to make it worse for them. Can’t they see that? Why can’t they just appreciate how good they have it?” The man paused for a second, thinking. “We gave them their freedom and they just can’t see the forest for the trees.”

“This ain’t no better than them out in the streets protesting the Vietnam thing. The president wouldn’t send our boys there unless there was a good reason. Communism is the devil! We shouldn’t be letting folks disrespect our boys over there fighting.”

And so it goes, privilege blinded by its own image.
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“One of life’s greatest pleasures is to be patient enough to feel like you’ve been underestimated.”

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I watched a movie based on the Nat Turner rebellion recently; it’s a tough choice when you want the underdog to win, especially when the necks of your own ancestors would have been affected.

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As another round of young people embark on their nascent voyage into the ‘real world,’ I would like to first remind them there is no universal reality, at least not that we can commonly agree upon. You should always listen to anyone giving advice, but always bear reluctance toward those who command you to ‘be realistic.’ Even if they mean well, it is their reality, warts and beautiful moments alike, which guides them. There is no one-size-fits-all solution for this vast world.

The wondrous things in life might often require years of preparation, yet remind yourself that the things you will regard as miraculous and those people who radiate the essence of what we admire – each of them frequently laughs in the face of expectation. It is damned near impossible to joyously walk through life unless you are confident about stepping off the path when you need to. If you trip and fall and then pretend it was your intention to stumble, to begin with, change course – for so much of our lives is adapting ourselves to the lives we discover ourselves to be in.

The membrane which separates the years of your life is a thick, impenetrable entity unto itself.

You won’t truly know how colorful youth was until you’ve lived these thousands of days, put on trial by both trivial and tragedy.

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Fart Synchronicity

 

I’m about to give you a glimpse into the inner sanctum of my life. It will irrevocably change the way you look at me, perhaps with more or perhaps less admiration. If you are allergic to humor or gastrointestinal references, you should go back to watching the news, where the worst you will see might be a recap of the horrors of the day. Please stop reading now. Continuing to read is a legal agreement that you, like me, have absolutely no taste whatsoever.

Dawn was at one of the computers, watching SNL skits from last night’s episode. I was sitting at my desk behind her, busily making snarky notes for my mammoth list of nonsense.

After a few minutes, Dawn started watching the RKO movie set sketch with The Rock and Vanessa Bayer. I swiveled around in my office chair to see what mayhem was about to ensue. (PS – the sketch with Rock visiting the doctor for a prescription was the funniest, in my opinion.)

Without warning, I felt a rumble in my stomach and passed gas – and not the light gentlemanly type typical of what you’d expect from such a lightweight such as me, either. No, this was a reminder that I should stop eating pizza, horseradish sauce and lemon pepper, especially at the same time – and that I should seek immediate relief from a qualified medical professional.

Coincidentally, the exact moment my colon exhaled, Vanessa Bayer’s character also passed a loud blast of gas in the sketch. I didn’t hear it, though, given the volume of my own contribution. Dawn turned to look at me, bemused and aghast. My contribution had kept her from hearing what had happened, too.

Dawn backed up the video to re-watch the portion I interrupted.

We both shared a great laugh, as the odds of my flatulence coinciding perfectly with that of the character on the sketch had to be at least a million to one.

(In fact, the premise of the entire SNL skit was one of Bayer’s character being flatulent in creative ways as The Rock struggled not to laugh.)

As Shakespeare once quipped, “Each of us, even reluctantly, must play our own f̶a̶r̶t̶ part in this tragic comedy of life.”

Peace to each of you still reading this, my friends. May your days be filled with spring breezes of the kind we all look forward to.

Why Not?

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Two bits of news:
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1) Everyone should watch “The Handmaid’s Tale.” It started filming before the presidential election – and the author wrote the book decades ago, using Reagan and many of the undercurrents of theocratic authoritarianism as the basis for a dystopian future. (Which are once again washing over us like a case of gastric flatulence.)
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2) I am hoping to be in Season 2. Here’s how I would look in the garb of the handmaidens. I think my acting range is expressed artfully in this picture, don’t you?

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I ate too much raw data last night.

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These dual-message pictures are fun. I made a slew of them for “The Handmaid’s Tale” and thought they’d be interesting for other topics, too.

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They told me I had to practice writing more formally. Here I am, in my formal end-of-the-world garb and yet my writing hasn’t improved. PS: Wouldn’t it be awesome if Springdale graduates had to wear this to graduate?

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Another doublethought picture, below…

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Beware the smell of TicTacs, the harbinger of doom.

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Say what now?

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Rock ‘N Tom 2020.  Why not?

(For anyone not in the know, it’s a reference to The Rock jokingly announce his candidacy for president.)

A Totally Untrue But Probable Story

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A quick creative home and garden story to brighten your day…

Last week, my friend Marilyn drove all the way from Oregon to Springdale, Arkansas to attend a h̶o̶t̶b̶e̶d̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶c̶r̶a̶z̶i̶n̶e̶s̶s̶ work reunion for Springdale Hospital. (Oregon is allegedly a ‘state’ of the United States, although this information cannot be confirmed.)

Also, if it is so great there I can’t imagine why she’d leave, even for a vacation. 🙂

On the way back, a snowstorm stopped her cold in Wyoming. Marilyn became so enamored of the frigid temperatures and snow that she’s decided she doesn’t need a house or living room any longer – she’s going to take the idea of an outdoor space to a new level. Naysayers will warn that it’s dangerous to live outdoors or that it’s even more unsafe to reside in an ice-covered intersection. Marilyn didn’t get to her age without considerable risk to life and limb, which explains how she survived working with the crazy folks from the Springdale Hospital.

According to sources, it is possible that she will literally be stuck in Wyoming until August 2017. If you have dinner reservations with her, you should either cancel them or take a snowmobile to meet her there.

As you can see by the signs to both her left and right in this picture, her new space is conveniently located near parking lots, which will satisfy the exacting vehicular requirements of her husband, Larry.

Please wish her well in her new living space.