Tag Archives: humor

A Week Away


We were away from the homestead for a few days on a much-needed vacation. Missed a metaphor Monday and a couple of other posts I might have made in the meantime. So instead of a deep-dive on a topic, here’s a rapid-fire scatter-shot swipe at a few things I think I’m thinking about the week.

The Orange One continues to have his own personal version of the Midas Touch, which is the same as the fabled king who turned everything he touched into gold, except in the case of the DT, he turns everything he touches to poop. This week he’s poopifying the NFL, getting his poopy little fingers into all its nooks and crannies and ensuring that we can’t even watch a brainless game for a few hours on Sunday without having conversation hijacked and steered into the mountainside that is the poop-in-chief. I’ll leave it to you to figure out that while DT claims he’s having a hissy fit about the flag and by extension the military, it’s interesting that he’s doing so by disparaging a league wherein something like 3/4 of the players are black. Let’s not forget that the taking-a-knee thing started out because of race issues and had to do with visibility, not the flag or the military. You might argue that the national anthem isn’t the place for such protests, and maybe it isn’t, but the point of protest isn’t to make things as comfortable and unobtrusive for bystanders as possible, now, is it? Oh, there was also that kerfuffle with the Golden State Warriors and Steph Curry. (Also mostly black.)

Whatever, the Daily Show and Samantha Bee and other venues have handled this better than I can; if you haven’t watched their clips, you should.

And while I’m on the subject of the DT (sorry, it’s been a while and he’s on a roll — a sharknado-rolls-downhill kind of roll), he’s intimating that our aid efforts to Puerto Rico are in some way concerned with the island’s debt. Never mind that Puerto Ricans are citizens, so it’s kind of like a few major cities are crippled, starving, and barely in communication. They’re people. And he’s worried about their debt in the same breath as talking about their literal survival. If you’re not enraged, you’re not paying attention.

In other eff-you-I’ve-got-mine news, I was sitting beachside with my kids, watching them do their best sandpiper imitations — chasing the waves and foam around, cackling and basically being adorable — and a pair of old ladies comes strolling up the beach. One of them slows down as she nears us. This isn’t totally unusual — grandparents tend to love watching little kids play, and as far as little kids go, mine are particularly adorable — but I glance at her and notice not the usual smile of watching the younger generation at play, but the sneer of the put-upon. Turns out, we were right in her walk path, which I guess I should have known, given that there was only an entire beach around us in literally half of all the available directions. She huffs a little and detours around us as closely as possible, even going so far as to step on my little finger as she resumes her path.

I feel like this may have been her little way of making the beaches great again, but I can’t be totally sure of her political leanings after such a tiny interaction.

While walking to a restaurant to pick up dinner one night, I saw a group of kids (and man, that sentiment crossing my fingers onto the page made me take a good, hard look at myself, because they were certainly college-aged) sitting at a sidewalk table in front of an ice cream shop. Six or seven of them, clearly all there together. In total silence. Not a word being said. Their attention, instead, entirely engrossed in their cell phones. I stopped. I stared. They didn’t notice me. (I’d have taken a picture, but I left my phone charging in the hotel room — it was dead from playing video games while my kids splashed in the pool all afternoon.) I continued to stare, and they continued not to notice, until a full thirty seconds had passed and I became uncomfortable.

youths

I know, I know. It’s nothing new, these youths and their cell phones. But it shook me. I mean, Panama City Beach (aka the Redneck Riviera) is a haven for college kids having a good time, and here they sat, passively shoveling ice cream into their beaks, staring blankly at their little hypno-boxes. Creepy.

Vacation is great, but it’s terrible for eating. I figure my diet was roughly 60% grease-based, 35% straight-up fried, and maybe 5% green — and that green was only in the form of guacamole smeared on something else deep-fried. I don’t know that I’ve ever been happier to see my own kitchen and my cast-iron murder skillet (come on, that thing is a home-defense system as much as it’s a dream for searing a steak).

And on the six-hour drive back from the beach, I was amused to be barraged with example after example that my theory about the rampant-yet-undiagnosed road disorder, PBV syndrome, is a real thing. Give me a minivan doing 75, and I’ll show you a beat-up old chevy that was doing 65 a minute ago now driving 80. Maybe I’ll mock-up a pamphlet and plant a few of them in doctors’ offices around town.

That feels like a heck of a lot of negativity. Here to right that ship is the sunset from our last night. I’m pretty sure there are at least a hundred shades of crimson in the sky, and I’m almost certain that the blue of the ocean here is described as “cobalt conundrum.”20170927_193132

 

 

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Make Sure You’re Wearing Clean Underwear Today in case of Apocalypse


Did you know that the world is ending today?

You could be forgiven for having missed this news, though depending on what circles you travel in, there’s been no avoiding it. Biblical prophecy foretells it, don’tcha know.

What’s that? Biblical prophecy has also foretold the end of the world several times in the last decade?

Well, they were wrong before. This one’s for real. This one’s backed up by science. Planet X. You know? NASA recently discovered a new planet waaaaaay out past Pluto, didn’t they? Yeah, that thing. That’s Planet X. Gonna destroy the world. How? Well… Probably it’s gonna smack into Earth. Yep. Gonna knock us off our orbit and into the sun like the eight-ball, corner pocket. Or maybe it’s gonna fly by and zap us all with interplanetary radiation, you know, turn us into a bunch of crispy human-shaped hot pockets. Or maybe the planet is just loaded down with lizardmen bearing superior technology who will descend upon the Earth and enslave us all. Force us to make them chef salads at every meal of the day and watch nothing but reruns of The Bachelor until our brains turn to mush. (Joke’s on them; my brain has already been mush-ified by two months of teaching after a summer without rest.)

Or maybe not, you know? Maybe Planet X is just an omen and not the cause of our eternal demise. Prophecy is funny that way. Like, it might seem to say that the weather is gonna be 74 degrees and partly cloudy, and in actuality it’s four below and hailing frozen frogs, and you’re all upset at first because you wore shorts that day, but then you go back and re-read the prophecy and then, somehow, it all makes sense. And no, I know what you’re thinking. That’s not post hoc justification. We just didn’t read the prophecies right to begin with. We make the mistakes, not the bible, after all.

So maybe Planet X only tells us the apocalypse is here, and the apocalypse is actually going to come in the form of nuclear war brought on by the two mad boy-kings of the world, or a superbug unleashed on the population when a sheep farmer in New Zealand gets a little too familiar with his livestock, or a global flood or something. What’s that? Well, sure, the flood happened once before, but it worked then, didn’t it? Why fix what ain’t broken?

You say there’s not actually evidence for the global flood? That flood myths are an inevitable byproduct of cultures that spring up around rivers, as nearly all cultures did originally?

Well, that’s just, like, your opinion, man.

thats-like-your-opinion-man-gif-8

You believe what you want. But the rest of us? Us, over here, with the doomsday bunkers and the year’s supply of food-paste and toilet water?

We know what’s really coming.

And even if it doesn’t come?

We’ll know when the next thing is coming, too, before it happens.

Because if the world doesn’t end pretty soon, we’re all going to look really silly for believing in all these prophecies. Currently, doomsday prophecies are something like 0 to 72,000 against reality. We might have to start questioning our holy books and the people who interpret them for us.

Then again, all it takes is one.

So, brb going to read Revelations again and search for tenuous metaphors suggesting the present day. And I’m going to put on my tuxedo t-shirt in case the rapture does come. You know, so that when I meet Jesus, he’ll see that I wanted to dress it up for him, but keep it casual at the same time.

tuxedojesus

Stone-cold classy.

This post is part of Stream-of-Consciousness Saturday.


How *you* doing?


Me? Over here?

Oh, you know, just having one of those weeks where it feels like every single thing I write or do or even think seems to me like a sentient pile of bear poop that is, itself, shaped like a bear. A bear with sharpened poop claws and poop fangs just waiting to slice into me for the crime of bringing its poopy mass into existence.

You know, a week where anything I create just gloms together into a seething, roiling mass of crapness. So much crap that it begins to collapse under its own weight, swirling and coalescing into a crappy black hole in my backyard; a black hole into which I might gladly toss my laptop, my current project, my other previous projects, and any and all potential future projects I might have thought about conceiving of. An entire alternate universe of projects that never had a chance of existing; those can go, too. Reality and possibility themselves bend around the gravity of my ineptitude.

Drive it all into the ocean and drown the world in the tsunami.

Douse it with gasoline and outshine the sun with the fireball.

Bury it underground and dwarf Everest with the displaced earth.

Ahem.

How am I doing?

Fine. Everything is fine.

How about you?


Metaphor Monday – PBV Syndrome


Since buying our van a few years ago, and having now driven it all over, I’ve noticed a phenomenon. It’s not tied to me, as far as I can discern — rather it’s a phenomenon that occurs in other drivers that seems to happen when I’m around.

I call it PBV (Passed-By-Van) Syndrome.

The phenomenon is this:

We’re driving in the van, and we approach and slowly overtake another vehicle. Before we can fully pass said vehicle, it begins to speed up, matching our pace and disallowing our passage. It continues to match our speed — oftentimes in great excess of its original speed — sometimes for miles. This continues until the driver decides that they really don’t want to be going quite so fast and they fall off. Occasionally, though, the opposite will happen: the other driver will speed up even more to pass us again, gaining a little buffer of roadway in front of us before it returns to its former speed and the process begins again.

I should note, too, that neither I nor my wife drive at particularly excessive speeds. At most we go maybe 5-10 miles over the posted limit, which by Atlanta standards means we might as well be standing still, given that speed limits in Atlanta are more often taken as baseline minimums to be left behind at the earliest opportunity than as legal maximums. Yet still we pass people, and still they try not to let us pass.

I have yet to conduct double-blind studies, but the most frequent afflicted seem to be trucks and SUVs. However, any driver of any sort of vehicle seems to be susceptible to PBV — I’ve seen it in fancy sports cars (why are they driving slowly enough to get passed by my hulking van?), ridiculous little Smart cars (if the purpose is good mileage, why are you trying to “beat” me anywhere?), and even other minivans (what happens if two drivers afflicted with PBV find themselves passing each other? Does spacetime disintegrate and collapse on itself?).

The phenomenon isn’t limited to my van, either — before we upsized, we had a tiny, sporty little Toyota Yaris, and we’d get the odd pacer there as well. Nothing like what we get with the van, but significant enough to notice.

Motivating factors are difficult to fully determine, but the assumption is pretty simple: some people just don’t like getting passed by a pansy vehicle like my minivan. Because we still live in a society where, somehow, your status on the road and in your vehicle is inextricably fused to your notion of self.

In other words, if you’re getting passed, it’s because the other guy has a bigger, uh, engine than you.

WHICH CANNOT BE ALLOWED TO STAND.

Treatment: well, none, really. Perhaps a bit of introspection. A little consideration of why your foot tends toward the gas when you see a minivan creeping up from behind. Do you really, suddenly and for no discernible reason, just feel like getting more quickly to wherever you were headed? If so, why weren’t you driving faster in the first place? Did my van somehow make you realize you were running late?

If it’s about “beating” the van somewhere, that’s foolish — we almost certainly aren’t going to the same place. And even if we were, the difference in travel time from me going a few miles per hour faster will make a difference in arrival time measured in seconds, not minutes. Ridiculous!

If it’s about a van going faster, then why get uptight about a van over any other sort of vehicle? Again I fall back on the perception thing. Vans aren’t “manly” (but what is “manly” anyway, when it comes to cars? Truck and sports car commercials would have you believe it’s about horsepower and maneuverability, towing capacity and “sleek lines” whatever that means, but again I say: if you are drawing more than a modicum of your personal identity from the vehicle you drive, you are probably a bit of a jerk), therefore getting passed by one makes one ultra-unmanly. Of course, that assessment comes up short, too, because I’ve seen a fair share of women afflicted with PBV.

So.

It’s Metaphor Monday and all, and that means I’ve got to tie this weird phenomenon to writing, and to life in general.

But it’s not that hard to see, is it?

You’re driving on the highway. You see this dinky little minivan creeping up on you, about to pass you, and something in your lizard brain says “DON’T LET IT HAPPEN.” You’re paying attention to what the other guy is doing instead of focusing on the road in front of you, which is all that should really matter anyway. You’re comparing yourself to somebody else when no comparison even makes sense. You don’t know where I’m going. You don’t know if there’s an urgency for me that doesn’t exist for you, or vice versa. You don’t know if I’m late to a meeting for backyard lawn darts enthusiasts. (My new backyard would be so choice for lawn darts.) You just want to beat me there.

And what’s the internet, but a big ol’ information highway, with writers to the left and the right? Internet’s lousy with writers. Some of them driving souped-up muscle cars and churning out thousands of words per day. Some of them puttering on mopeds, coughing up maybe a thousand per week. And you look at somebody’s website — let’s call it, I dunno, a minivan of a website — where she talks about having a full-time job, two kids, a spouse, all those things that you have. And he further claims to be getting two thousand words a day.

You just got passed by a minivan. What are you gonna do about that?

You’re gonna stomp the gas, is what — after all, they have nothing going on that you don’t have, and they are getting it done. You deserve everything they have coming. And you need it now!

Except, as my dad used to tell me (or maybe it was merely a construct of my dad as I tell myself I remember him — you can never tell), it ain’t always that simple. Sure, the stuff you can see is comparable, but you don’t know what’s going on in their life, what’s kicking around between their ears. In short — you don’t know why their minivan is going faster than you. It just is.

As long as you’re writing, you’re making forward progress. You spend the unmitigated bulk of that time slaving away in silence and solitude anyway — what kind of good does it do to compare your slaving to somebody else’s? It’s a good way to burn out. Get frustrated. Get disillusioned.

And when your brain gets disillusioned or frustrated or burnt out, well, your whole vehicle breaks down, dunnit? And when your whole vehicle breaks down? Everybody passes you. Even that grandma scooting around on her moped.

The point? Don’t give in to PBV syndrome.

Stay in your lane. Eyes on your own road.

Let the minivans pass.


Sparks! (and spiders)


Yesterday I wrote about the occluded flow of viable ideas making it from my brain to the blank page. Here’s why I think my particular eclipse might be waning:

In the past twenty-four hours I’ve had a couple of ideas penetrate the mental fog, strike me as amusing, and stick around for more than a few moments (of late, the ideas strike and then vanish again into the ether like Batman knocking out a criminal and disappearing into the night). Both spurred by simple real-life situations that could easily have been left alone and forgotten about!

Situation 1:

I’m at work. I get no cell service in my building. So if I receive a text, it doesn’t usually land until I’m in the parking lot, leaving school. As it turns out, I receive a text from my father as I’m pulling away from the building. It’s time-stamped around 2:00: “What is happening?”

I reply “not much” and don’t think of it again until the following morning. A response never comes. Now, it must be asked: who sends a text to ask “what is happening” without that being pretense for actually asking something more significant, a la “let’s get together for dinner” or “are you going to be available on Saturday” or “do you still have the shovel and duct tape and garbage bags and lye that we used for that one thing that one time, I kinda need them right this minute”? Nobody, that’s who. You ask somebody “what’s happening” so that you can talk to them about something else and you don’t know how to begin the conversation without a banality. And, by the way, you say “what’s happening” like a human, not the more formal “what is happening” like a robot.

But there it is. Just that question — “what is happening?” — and nothing to follow.

Right around the time of the eclipse.

Then, in my head, the scenario plays out: the eclipse has come, the sky is dark, and my father rushes out into the yard, beseeching the heavens (and then also texting me, because of course he would do this): “WHAT IS HAPPENING?”

Read with the proper inflection and emotion, this makes perfect sense. All it needs is a second question mark to fit perfectly — ooh, or perhaps the saucy interrobang. The world needs more interrobangs. Doesn’t it?!

Ahem.

And why no response? Well, that’s easy. He was taken by the lizard men, obviously, and spirited away to their space station on the far side of the moon.

This is much more palatable than the probable actual truth, which is that he just sort of wanted to check in with me.

Right. Situation 2:

I was out for a run this morning. Gorgeous one, actually. Starry sky in full glory, perhaps trying to make up for being overshadowed (haw) by the eclipse yesterday. I’m plodding on, eyes skyward, when I tear through this massive spider web.

And I do mean, massive. The web happened to be strung across the gap between a football fence and the bleachers behind it: a four-foot gap, and right at head-and-chest height. I’ve got strands in my mouth, on both shoulders, even trailing the tops of my knees. I’m pulling webby gunk out of my eyebrows, off the back of my hands. The dog is freaking out because I’m stumbling all over the place like a drunk trying to pick a fight with a bar stool.

While we’re on the subject, have you ever run into a spider web while bald? I can’t say I recommend it.

Of course, I don’t stop running while I’m trying to de-web myself (NEVER STOP RUNNING, the demons will catch you). So about fifty yards later, when I’ve collected my thoughts a little bit, the real horror strikes. What’s unpleasant about spider webs is not the webs themselves, but the spiders they conceal. And now I have to contend with the possibility that a spider is on me right now. Worse than that, massive, human-sized spider webs are not woven by tiny house spiders. This web was a doozy, which means the responsible spider is a doozy by proxy and I know spiders don’t always just sit in the middle of their webs but SOMETIMES THEY DO OH MY GOD HELP.

But I can’t feel the spider, despite lots of swiping at my face and neck and back and various other parts.

And I figure that means I’m okay.

Unless the spider is one of those weird anomalies of nature like that parasite that takes over an ant’s brain and drives it onto the top of tall grass at nightfall to be devoured by a cow. If it were, couldn’t it conceivably have wiped out the past twenty seconds of my memory, when it crawled up through my nose and buried itself in my brain, and only made me think that I hadn’t found the spider?

Couldn’t it, then, be driving me around like a meat puppet right now?

Could I really be the spider right now? Thinking spidery thoughts that just happen to be the thoughts that spiders would think if they found themselves embedded in human husks?

We can’t be sure that I’m not.

So I’ve spent the past several hours wandering in and out of a dreamland in which my father was abducted by eclipse-riding lizardmen and I was being piloted by a mind-controlling spider. Which is a weird headspace, but not a narratively unfertile one.

Still, it’s got my brain percolating, so that’s good. Even if a spider is to blame.

(Spiders are usually to blame.)


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