04232014 Backwards Clocks

Backwards clocks are a reminder to stop assuming that there is a “normal” orientation for things. Even if there such a thing, it is a poor reason to insist on conformity. A huge dose of craziness is what makes life interesting.

You can order one through Amazon, among other places.

Please keep an eye on your friends or family if they are drinking while looking at these clocks. They’ve been known to cause brain freeze and bewilderment.

Spider Salad, The N.R.A., World Cup FIFA, Pinterest and the NFL on Thanksgiving

Spider Salad, The N.R.A., World Cup FIFA, Pinterest and the NFL on Thanksgiving

Warning: this post is just plain weird… I apologize for the weird title, but it will likely drive in random traffic. Anyone coming to this blog post by accident needs a good surprise. Sometimes I like to unwind by writing creatively and coming up with purportedly clever things to say and then randomly call people and whisper the pithy quotes to them. Or put them on the internet, where time and human dignity intertwine to create something both interesting and horrifying simultaneously.

My new book, “Spider Salad” will be published soon, possibly the first ever to be printed in invisible ink on pre-recycled paper. (Is that joke too layered?) A lot people don’t know that I make a living writing. A terrible living, perhaps, but one not aspiring to glamor or box seats at some ignominious sporting event. True, I punch a clock daily to buy my daily bread; believe me, the clock deserves a good punch or two on a routine basis – and I owe it no loyalty for having conspired to steal my creative life in lumps of 8 hours at a time, year after year.

If I were going to write a book, I mean. The Braille edition might come out first. The plan is to pull a prank on those needing it and use small, sharp tacks instead of exclamation marks. As they read, their fingers tracing the bumps and indentations, they will involuntarily provide the “!” when the sharp points hit them. This might cause a problem in libraries, as random shouts of exclamation are generally met with disfavor there.

“Spider Salad” has all the suspense and vague implications that a great book should possess, minus all the words, plot and nonsense to get in the way. It could be a cookbook, a societal diatribe or even a murder-mystery.

This title has something for everyone, unless you are a nihilist, in which case it literally has nothing that will interest you.

It could be a book about self-reflection. I could put a small mirror on page 98 so that it could literally be self-reflective.

I could glue 4 or 5 coins to the inside cover, so it could literally bring change to your life.

“Spider Salad: A Recipe for Disaster”  (A FEMA manual.)
“Spider Salad: Oops, Sorry I Shot You Twice” (An NRA pamphlet.)
“Spider Salad: Why Teaching Isn’t a Real Job” (A Workaholic’s Daily Motivational.)
“Spider Salad:  Why Do I Bother With Rhetorical Questions?” (A Debate Guide.)
“Ensalada de Araña:Y Tú No Me Compras?” (A Marketing Book for Hispanics.)

This book is going to have everything – except a plot, words, or content. (The Republicans among you are already familiar with this glaring lack of substance and content. If you are Republican, please mentally go back and insert the word “Democrat” in lieu of “Republican.” If that’s too many steps, you probably are either a sports fan or management of some sort. We know who you are – you lips are moving as your read this. If you are a Tea Partier, then you are still staring at the first few words of this post, wondering where all the pictures might be.)

09272014 ‘The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about”

‘The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about’

Where was this idea when I was writing the Miley Cyrus-inspired diatribe?

Imagine having enough “talking back” money or the ability to live life exactly according to your own standards – a life without ethical compromise or stupid adherence to the idea that selling one’s personality in exchange for cash is a great way for all of us to squander our lives. I’m going out on a clichéd limb here and speculating that much of our lives would look nothing like what they currently resemble if each of us had sufficient “talking back” money.
(“Talking back” money is an old idea that indicates that you have enough resources to do what you want, despite circumstances trying to align to force you to do what you don’t want to do – usually associated with employment.)
My point isn’t so much toward what type of work we are doing, as work tends to be the unifying factor in our lives, whether we like it or not. It is the attitude that all mature adults must adopt, the attitude that forces us to swallow our natural instinct to not waste our own lives doing meaningless, unethical, or simply stupidly repetitive activity. 
Imagine if we could be honest with all of our friends and loved ones. Not cruelly honest, but respectfully honest. What would your social life look like? Who would you choose to be around? How would you spend your allotted time in life?

A Moment of S̶i̶l̶e̶n̶c̶e̶ Life

A Moment of S̶i̶l̶e̶n̶c̶e̶  Life

Not to lessen anyone's efforts to honor or recognize someone who has fallen in service to other people...

But I have a more interesting take on a way to celebrate someone. Since life is about movement, voices and action, instead of a moment of silence, I propose that we start observing a Moment of Life, instead. We can stand up, applaud, roar with our voices, or take a minute to say something about the person that we like or identify with.

Let's fill the void emptied by someone who has left us - for one brief moment.

Christmas, Frankenstein, Springdale History and Dawn’s Birthday

Aeons ago in the 70s, me, my brother and cousin Jimmy wanted to see a movie on Xmas Eve. The “new” Springdale Malco Twin theater was opening that night. Since my cousin Jimmy almost always got his way, all it took to implant the certainty of it was for him to mention it to his mom – about 100 times in an hour. I’m fairly certain that my Aunt Ardith gladly drove us to the new theater to get rid of us for a couple of hours. She barely slowed down as she drove up to the new theater as she handed my cousin unlimited candy money and lit a new cigarette for herself.

It didn’t hurt that the theater was up the road from Jimmy’s house. In those days, 412 was a 2-lane highway 68 and Carley Road was barren of most development. It was “about 1/2 a cigarette of driving” away from Jimmy’s house. (Our mothers smoked like chimneys. Everything could be measured in “cigarette increments.”)

Of all possible movies, we decided to see “Young Frankenstein.” It wasn’t exactly the most yule-spirited of movies. There were very few people at the theater. I’m not sure that the theater had publicized the soft opening that much. Not even all the seats had been installed, supplies were stacked everywhere, and the place felt like it had been opened on a dare.Even eating the popcorn, as delicious as it was to us as young kids, reminded us of fresh plastic.

Despite there being few people at the theater, it turns out that my wife Dawn and her father were two of the other handful of people in the theater that night, probably wondering why three goofy young boys were in the theater with them causing a commotion. As for why a dad would think a young girl would be a great audience for Mel Brooks and Gene Wilder causing their mayhem? Who knows. Let’s face it, for rambunctious boys,  though, “Young Frankenstein” is definitely an excuse for a lot of exchanged whispers and laughs. Madeline Kahn and Gene Wilder exchanging hilariously and minimally-concealed risque references only fueled the muffled laughter.

Did I mention that Christmas Eve is Dawn’s birthday and that she was there in part to celebrate her birthday? It was one of those strange serendipitous convergences for Dawn and I to figure out that we were both in the same place at the same time when we were both considerably younger. (Everyone can easily imagine me being at “Young Frankenstein,” but almost no one could picture Dawn being there.)

Coincidences happen. It’s just refreshing to know that we share not only the opening of the Springdale Malco theater, but also this crazy movie on one of the most unlikely nights of the year. My wife doesn’t have any other birthday memories from that day, so it’s reassuring to think that we share such an outlandish memory in common on her birthday from so long ago.

I can’t think of “Young Frankenstein” without thinking of my cousin Jimmy or my wife, who had the misfortune of being saddled with a holiday birthday.

Update: Now that Gene Wilder has sauntered off, smiling like only he can, I’m glad that serendipity prevailed on that Xmas Eve decades ago.

 

Free Public Eduation For Everyone?

Free Public Education For Everyone?

I know I mention this idea frequently, or a version of it. But it’s an ongoing smack-my-forehead obvious thing to me. 

Financing one’s education is ridiculous in a county with so much wealth. We can and should revamp our entire system to encourage free access. Extraneous programs should be eliminated; private schools should be available to compete with subsidized education.

05052014 Aliens !

Playing the game of “what if” for a moment. What is one of my most-anticipated things to see happen outside of my personal life?

Aliens. Seriously. Not the redneck anal-probe-in-the-deep-woods aliens, but bona fide aliens.

Whether through undeniable communications or appearance, I would love to live long enough to to know that alien life capable of communication exists. I don’t have to see them, just evidence of their existence, communications, etc.

Not just because every aspect of our society would be called into question, not to add novelty to our lives, not to render pointless much of politics, economy, education or beliefs…

But to know that we have been living in a fishbowl of isolation, letting our narrow, horrible ideas slowly poison us. Knowing that we aren’t alone, even if we are still unable to directly communicate, will transform everything about our culture and planet. It’s time for something to shake us out of our isolationist stupidity.

I think confirmation of alien life would be the single best thing to happen to humanity since… humanity. Our illusions of self-importance would vanish. Maybe it would cause a ripple of destructive effects here. Maybe not.

Originally, I had included Fermi, Sagan and other people’s views and arguments in this blog post. I edited all that content out as it detracts from the optimism.

I’m fairly certain that we will soon have alien contact. It is going to be interesting, watching the unexpected consequences ripple across our world’s cultures, economies, and religions.

P.S. I’m not referring to the kind of aliens portrayed on the “History Channel” or late-night sci-fi television.  

01012012 One Less Gift – a Xmas Alternative!

I ran across this again recently while catching up on missminimalist.com.
Missminimalist Post

Everything about it is awesome.

It speaks to the heart of what makes the holiday season so difficult for many people.

Can we keep it simple? Can it really be about the spirit and not the stuff? Probably not, but it is a noble inspiration and reminder.

For people who know me well, my minimalist side should be self-evident. To be contradictory, I love wrapping presents creatively. I don’t like the obligatory nature of gift exchanges, though. I’m not free to be weird and make it spontaneous and off-the-cuff.

And I enjoy the clutter aspect of it even less. I don’t need anything to remind me that you like or love me. Surprise me during the year or do something unexpected.  Get me a book that you know will tickle my fancy.  I have more or less everything I need.

But for many people, we need a way to let people know that we don’t expect or even want more stuff. It should be okay to be honest with people without your honest desire being turned into a character flaw, or worse- an accusation.

Who wouldn’t prefer time over trinkets? Shared laughter over obligation? I know that I am simplifying the issue too much so you over there with the scowl on your face can forget about pointing that out to me.
Maybe you could meet someone you cherish and go buy a gift together for someone who needs a gift or someone who needs a visit, a surprise or a word of encouragement? Wouldn’t this be a great memory to share with your friends and loved ones?
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I’m still not expressing well enough that it isn’t the idea of gifts that I’m not too fond of – what fool doesn’t like gifts? I dislike the reciprocity and etiquette of it all. It fatigues me.
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(Note: seeing someone truly in need, lonely and without one bit of anything to call his own or anyone to love him back in this life, this post almost equates to a stupid waste of time.)

“Be known what you are for, not what you are against.”


“Be known what you are for, not what you are against.”

Reading the title of this post, I’d like to go on record as saying that this makes sense to me. It doesn’t make me happy, however, as I’m failing at meeting the goal it states.
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I’m quick to point out that most of my environment is equally guilty of not meeting it, either. That probably doesn’t mitigate my guilt, though, does it?
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There’s one person in my life in particular who is almost consumed by his insistence of categorizing the world in 2 columns: For / Against. I laugh when I hear him talk, sometimes. He would be furious at me if he knew that I was privately not only noting this tendency but laughing about it. He probably doesn’t realize that he does this so pervasively. I’m sure, too, that he doesn’t see that people often delegate him to the “crackpot” status due to the vehemence of his opinion.
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Having said that, I wonder how often I’m guilty of the same and don’t notice that people are placing me in the same “negative” group?  Hmmm… (But blogging or anything worthwhile is almost impossible to do well without sounding like you oppose everything.)