Once More with Feeling!

(Actually, that’s too much feeling.)

Penelope Scottenrot Terwilliger the third was having a grand old time at the grande dame’s ball. There were pickle skewers and rounded hamshanks, really all the most appetizing of hors d’oeuvres (yeah, I had to look it up, so that shit’s getting bolded and italicized!) and other snackables. Really, just the classiest. Everything was in gold, because gold’s the best color, really goes with everything. Penelope Scottenrot Terwilliger the third (PST3 for short) had nothing better to do, couldn’t imagine anything more enjoyable, honestly!, than doing the foxtrot and lazy zambeezi with, oh, let’s see, there was Jorge Jagabolt Smith and Uncifer Von Scooolp and “Jellaby” Marcos Contigue, to name a few. Was there a furniture factory somewhere that churned these fellas out like hotcakes on a treadmill griddle? Only difference was the color of rose their boutonnière happened to be. PST3 groaned inwardly (outwardly, a delightful burst of sunshine, always, and you’d better believe it MISTER!) as “Crumbcakes” Gorforzoola pressed his moist dance card into her (thankfully) gloved hand. “Once more around the mulberry bush,” she thought.

Still, it was less taxing than rappelling down the canebrake on some questionable climbing cord or dodging slumbering hippos in the mudflats. The life of a spy! One of these knuckleheads surely knew where the Excel file of questionable accounting practices was living, some thumb drive in the shape of a skateboard or 20-sided die, no doubt.

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There’s a Unicorn in the Breadbasket!

(And a Lion in the fruit bowl!)

Look, no one wanted the kind of dreadful occurrence or happenstance that went down last Thursday. Everyone was depending on someone else to rein in the madcap antics that went a little too mad. The consensus view was, I’ll flee in panic and YOU (someone other than me) deal with that THING (it was a little hazy, it being dusk) over there! There was a definite supermajority of folks who had decided that these kinds of perilous doings were not for them. Not even with a free stuffed tiger and/or coupons for a 64 oz. Slurpee. If we were ordering pizza, we’d all be going for pepperoni and olives, with no one even quibbling about not liking olives, that’s how unified people were on the terrifying blank that consumed at least 97% of our full attention (one or two of us did get distracted by something shiny, briefly, while running for their life). It was the kind of moment where, if this were a basketball game, we all tried getting the ball in the same basket, but only one ball could go through the basket at a time. Yeah, chokepoints were a real issue, let’s say, in the mad rush to, as one mind, flee to the so-to-speak “exit”. Ultimately, this was probably the deciding factor in 75% of us being consumed utterly in some mysterious and unverified (by government agents and news journalists) way. That’s the way the cookie crumbles, I guess, especially when you’re all trying to eat it at once.

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This or That

(But never those!)

There was a kind of hardscrabble unworthiness to the banker Reginald Kirk Plummings, a sort of wheezy cheerfulness that left others ruminating on mistakes and bad breakfasts. Yup, people often walked away thinking of eggs that were just a bit too runny, toast that arrived too late, soggy and limp. The butter never goes on as well and when the knife bursts through the bread, well, let’s not speak of it. “Reggie” to his “friends”, but never to his mum, who always called him Reginald Kirk or Reginald K. for short. You know, although it seemed like a good idea at the time, the mustache had been the wrong way to go, facial accoutrementwise. But, and this was mostly due to the way the human brain encourages one to keep digging in spite of the huge heap of nothing already found, R.K. went all in on the mustache, even curling up the ends (or trying to) with the very cheapest and oiliest of the hair goop. A Dapper Dan Man he wasn’t. Yes, Plummings had the misfortune of being the type of person, not hated exactly, but simply generally unwanted by those around him.

Oh, it wasn’t all bad. He did enjoy his evening sudoku and mug of mint tea (when he remembered to drink it and hadn’t left it, forgotten and cooling, on the kitchen countertop). His umbrella, he was quite fond of it. And nothing quite got his blood nearly going like watching the squirrels race by on the telephone wires outside his flat.

I wouldn’t say it was a good life or a bad life. It was a life. It might have been sad but for Reginald’s profound lack of self-awareness and one day a piano fell on him and he died.

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In All the Time

(No, the other one.)

Yesterday, there was all the time in the world. It was just puddling up in the backyard, on the front porch, in the rain gutter. Some people left it out by the curb in the hope that the garbagemen would come by and scoop it up with that week’s trash. Others just walked stiffly by, as though by not acknowledging it, somehow that extra time would just vanish away. One man slipped in some time and found himself, for what seemed to stretch out into a pinpoint of eternity, flying backward through the air. Although to call it flying is somewhat generous. He did hit the ground eventually and all his dozen eggs (after another seeming eternal moment) crunched all around. One girl and another girl and a boy (children like all the others) snuck out when their parents weren’t looking and had a timeball fight. The boy had a quite attractive mustache by the time the parents finally dragged them inside, for showers or baths most likely. Time doesn’t wash out very well from clothing, unfortunately. One block had an opportunist who tried to pack the time away in several of those cheap, white, styrofoam coolers. Many years later, long forgotten, he opened them up to find all that time had just seeped away. “Where has it all gone,” he cried.

Today, there doesn’t seem to be any time at all.

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Jelly Babies, Maaan. Jelly Babies.

(We’re not talking jello now, people.)

You’d think there was, like, this religious decree or something, given all the places the jam’s showing up. This is no APPLE jam, now. That’s never not apple sauce. We’re talking strawberry rhubarb; some kinda weird peach/orange marmalade hybrid (still we’re counting it); lemon and blueberry; spicy habañero + some other fruit, I can’t tell, too hot; lemon marmalade, too, but limes are right out for some reason, no one wants green jam, I guess; and finally just some straight-up strawberry, boring as sin, but always tasty somehow, both with chunks-so-you-know-it’s-real and chunks-without-so-you-knows-it’s-not.

There’s a depth of feeling, a passion, a real love of jam that kinda permeates the place. But permeates, that’s just really not a strong enough word, you know, for what we’ve got going on here. Smeared maybe. Or shoved. Splattered, even, sometimes signifies given the kind of, whaddayacallem, morse code or braille scattered about underfoot some days. That would be some trick, I’m thinking, if you could pick up some kinda coded messages (or flavor) from tromping on the sticky floor. It almost might be kinda worth it… Nah.

Let’s get real here. Jam’s not for eating in this place. OK, let’s say you’re an ant: THEN it’s true. Jam is, in this place here, more like an observation, a libation, like those old dead Romans used to do, just spilling some of that old wine on the dusty floor to get some gods’ heads to turn away. (Never toward, man, that’s NEVER good.) There are times when I’m standing barefoot–or even worse, socks–on the sticky floor, not really thinking, more like just trying to drink a cup of coffee and not think, when it seems like toast is not so much a thing you eat as a staging ground for jam.

Let’s just say, I’m glad they’re not drinking coffee yet.

 

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Maze of the Blue Medusa

THE MAZE OF THE BLUE MEDUSA by Zak Sabbath and Patrick Stuart is an amazing piece of art. It’s one of the most beautiful books I’ve ever seen. Which is why I bought it.

Then I read it. It’s simply one of the most amazing and creative things I read in 2016 and maybe ever. It’s filled with maps and charts and strange creatures. The first time I read it, I stayed up way too late a couple of nights in a row reading it. It’s mesmerizing and a bit like being handed a key to a magical world. It reads the way my dreams tend to go, peering into a strange and distant land.

Not only that, but it’s a game as well. It can be played with D&D or pretty much any roleplaying game, I imagine, with a little tweaking. It’s a book that screams, “Here are hundreds of amazing ideas! I dare you not to use them!”

I’ve since used this book to play three games with three different sets of friends. It was simply hours of fun and every time it spun out in a slightly different way.

People who write and publish books as beautiful and imaginative as this one should be rewarded for their effort. Go buy a copy. If the hardcover price seems steep, you can always buy the PDF to preview it. I expect you’ll end up buying the book once you do.

 

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Intending to Jump

Once there was a frog who sat on a log. It was a brown log. The frog liked to call it his b-log or “blog”. The heron who smoked a pipe nearby thought that was a little too on the nose and decided to call the whole thing off.

Moral: Sometimes you gotta get out while the getting is good. Or even mediocre. Or, let’s not kid ourselves, when it’s pretty terrible. Really, isn’t that just the thing? How easy it is to just dump something online, no matter how good or bad it is. The internet, basically weaponized Tourette’s. Which, ok, it’s funny for a little while, but eventually it does get a little old…

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Al Giordano is Pretty Great

I wanted to write a little something about U.S. politics. I want to write something positive, because there’s a lot of negativity floating around these days. First, I’m going to provide some context. Second, I’m going to write about this guy Al Giordano (who I think is pretty great). Third, I’m going to try to tie it all together.

I’ve always been a fan of U.S. history. I think that we can learn a lot, not only about this country, but about human beings generally, from studying this 200+ experiment that we are fortunate enough to live in and be a part of. In spite of that, I wasn’t really that interested in politics. In 2000, I was firmly in the “they’re all a bunch of crooks” camp. Yeah, I was a (pretty disinterested) Nader voter in Oregon. I wasn’t sweating it though, because I was also pretty sure Gore was going to win. On election night in November 2000, I was sicker than I’ve ever been with a really high fever. I went to bed thinking the election would be over by morning. What a surprise to wake up and feel like I was still in some kind of fever dream. It didn’t take me too long to realize that I’d been pretty wrong thinking that it didn’t matter who won the presidency.

So, by 2004, I was starting to pay a little more attention to politics, specifically the Democratic primary. Then this guy, Howard Dean, came on the scene. I had never heard of him, but he was saying all the right things, as far as I was concerned, about political/corporate corruption (a la Enron) and the folly of the Iraq war. He was the first politician I ever gave money to and I started reading all I could about him. He had innovative technology, he had motivated supporters, he was raising a ton of money from small donors, and he seemed like a reasonable, thoughtful, decent guy. I was sure he was going to win the Democratic primary. But then he lost big. I was completely baffled. I realized I didn’t know that much about the Democratic primary process, but just kind of dropped it at that point. I listened to Barack Obama’s speech at the Democratic Convention that year and thought, this guy’s speaking my language! Still, I was pretty convinced that Kerry was going to beat the obviously–to me–crooked Bush administration.

So then four more years of the Bush presidency happened. It was a real drag to live through, but it didn’t affect me a whole lot, because I’m a white dude. When Barack Obama announced he was running for president, I was thrilled. I thought, this guy’s doing the Howard Dean thing. He might have a shot! He was the underdog and I don’t think, early on, anyone really thought he had much of a shot. At some point, I ran across this guy named Al Giordano who took the time to write in great detail about how the Democratic primary process worked, explaining each state primary or caucus as it came along. It was really eye-opening. Turns out, it doesn’t matter if you raise a lot of money or draw big crowds to hear you speak, if you don’t get the votes. Also, in the party primaries, the only thing that matters is delegates. I learned a lot from reading his patient explanations. I’m pretty sure I discovered Nate Silver through Al, too.

That’s why, when Obama lost the California primary, I wasn’t sweating it. I knew that Obama had already won the whole thing, in spite of all the screaming and the noise from all sides.

It’s been amazing to watch the Democratic primary in 2016, because it seems like a complete replay of 2008, an amazing piece of historical reflection.

Check out this oldest article from Giordano I could find: No More Drama

Only, instead of Obama putting together a multi-racial coalition to defeat Clinton and then McCain, Clinton has put together a multi-racial coalition to defeat Sanders and then (I hope) Trump.

So who is this guy, Al Giordano, and why am I writing about him? Back in August I started paying attention to all the political rumblings, Republican and Democratic, and I rediscovered Al via his Twitter account: https://twitter.com/AlGiordano

I thought Sanders was kind of neat. I was pretty skeptical of Clinton. I had no idea who O’Malley was. I assumed Al would be pretty down on Clinton again and pretty pro-Sanders. Imagine my surprise.

Turns out, Al and Bernie go way back. Al was a community organizer in the NE and organized to stop nuclear plants from being built, among other things. Al supported Bernie in run for mayor of Burlington and then again in his first run for the House. But he’s not supporting him any longer. Why?

Bernie Sanders is actively attacking the multi-racial coalition that put Barack Obama in the White House.

Ultimately, it matters who supports a presidential candidate. Me, I’m going to side with the people who elected Obama the first and second time.

So now, Al Giordano has stated that unless Sanders reins in his attacks on this coalition, he’s going to run for Sanders’ Senate seat in 2018. I believe he can do it, too.

Here’s the thing: I feel like Al would be the kind of Senator and politician that Sanders’ supporters imagine him to be.

Don’t be surprised when this guy named Al you’ve never heard of swoops into Vermont and becomes the next junior Senator in 2018.

He’s worth keeping an eye on: https://twitter.com/AlGiordano

 

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The General of Ice Cream

The General of Ice Cream had a dilemma. Too many people loved eating ice cream!

“Good god, man!” the general exclaimed. “Ice cream is a finite resource and every day we’re eating it faster!”

“So what?” the people all said. “What do you know? You’re just a general!”

“Fair enough,” the general said, “My years of logistical management in service of optimizing my people killing more people (over ice cream, always over ice cream, that damnably sweet stuff) don’t really qualify me to have educated opinions on much of anything except, well, exactly that.”

“Don’t worry about it!” said all of the actors. “That’s never stopped us before! Having an opinion (or acting like you have one) is fun!”

“Thanks, actors! I owe you one,” the general said.

“Don’t mention it,” said the actors, as they only pretended to eat the ice cream. “It’s hard to say your lines with a mouthful of ice cream,” they whispered. “If you watch us closely, you’ll see that we eat really oddly in movies and television.”

The general tried to get other people to listen to him. Everyone pretended like what he had to say was Really Quite Important, but eventually the general realized it was only an act.

“Oh what’s the use,” the general said, and ate some ice cream–one scoop rocky road, one scoop strawberry.

“Delicious!” the general said.

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Incurious George

(Why was he incurious?)

I’ll tell you why. Because.

You might think, because of his name, that Incurious George is a monkey. Nope.

Oh boy. Here he comes. Incurious George. Not getting up to any hijinks at all. Not needing to be rescued by anyone in particular, but specifically not some guy in a hat.

Incuriosity: not a word. You’ll be surprised to know. Especially because it is.

Incurious George was incurious about so many things: noodles, 17th century Turkish literature, why the bus is running late, that girl at the end of the bar, sassafrass, the reason why the joke is funny, metaphysical nonsense, artificial intelligence, the bones of the foot, why the sky is blue, what the king god is thinking up there on the moon, video games, what’s for breakfast, the benefits of clean living, sartorial inaccuracies in BBC period dramas, the difference between bourbon and whiskey, why it’s sometimes spelled whisky, grunge, different types of metal (geologic), different types of metal (musical), what’s going on with that Baader-Meinhof thing where once you learn a new word you start seeing it everywhere, juice.

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