Friday, August 29, 2014

Yoda Explains How to Play Monopoly

A token each player must select, and on the Go Space, they must place it.  A Top Hat, a Race Car, a Battleship, or a Thimble a player can be.  Even a Cat a player can be.  A Flat-iron, a player may not be.  No more is the Flat-iron.  Miss it, do not.  Attachment leads to jealousy.  The shadow of greed, that is.

A Banker one player will be. Give  $1,500 to each player the banker will.  Collect $200 when you pass Go, you will.  If on an un-owned property a player lands, buy it, he may.  If on an owned property lands a player, rent the owner must demand, not collect rent he will if fails to do so he does.  (Jesus, hard it is, talking this way.)

If all properties of one color a player owns, houses he may build.  After a the fifth house, a hotel he may build.  Sucks this does for a player who not many properties has.  Especially if on Park Place and Boardwalk hotels there are.  Ha-ha, a loser you are.  Sometimes a relief it is the Dark Side of the Force to join and to jail to go, is it not?  At least rent in jail pay you do not.

When bankrupt a player goes, removed his piece is from the board.  A temper tantrum throw do not, but over it get.  Such a baby do not be. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Latest Developments re Chickens

I will admit to you that Nancy and I have had our problems with chickens.  All has not been smooth sailing on the chicken front.  We did have one pair of them for a long time, but recently, foxes - I presume - got our last two.  I will not even bother to calculate how many chickens have gone home to meet Jesus at Casa Martin.

Nancy was in Macon earlier this week, and got in touch with our chicken contact, who sold her three new ones, real beauties, who lay Grade-A large eggs.  Let it be said, that Nancy is fully one-hundred percent on-board with chicken ownership.  Apart from their tendency to poop on the patio deck - which problem has been fixed by installing a new chain-link fence - Nancy is devoted to the chickens, and is the first to say, the backyard isn't the same without them.

The question remains, how do we protect the birds.

I maintain that the fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our birds, but in ourselves.  The foxes know where the chickens are now, so we have to be extra careful; I have been too lax in opening up the coop before sunrise and leaving it open after sunset.  I am of the theory that if I am careful not to let them out before broad daylight, and make sure to secure them before sunset, they will be right as rain. 

Nancy, however, has another scheme.  Our chicken contact has his coop electrified - he himself has suffered massive depredations at the hands of dogs, or paws, as the case may be.  The thing operates on solar power and gives a little jolt to any fox unwise enough to stick his nose in.

Nancy sent me a picture of the set-up with her cellphone.

Dear lord, are we really contemplating doing this ourselves?

I will keep you posted.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Do I Need You to Draw You a Picture?

This is not really the image I wanted, but I couldn't find the Tony the Tiger
 I was looking for.  But if you look closely, you'll see the bottom part
of the Morton Salt Girl on the container, who is spilling salt in the rain
just like the big Morton Salt Girl.  Does she sense the irony?

So Nancy and I got a new fancy-shmancy refrigerator.  Like any fancy-shmancy refrigeator, this one has an ice-maker and water-dispenser built into the door.  This one, however, has an added feature.  When you get water, an LED screen shows a computer simulation of water sloshing back and forth and the helpful legend, "water."  It also tells you the precise number of ounces you've poured.  When you get ice, the LED shows a simulated cascade of crushed ice.  These images, by the way, are not wholly convincing, nor are they meant to be: they are clearly computer-generated animations.

Why did GE see fit to install this LED panel?  Do they believe the experience of getting water or ice is enhanced by a graphic visualization?  

Now, this is perfectly harmless, but it's very curious.  I tried to express what I felt this meant to my friend Molly Bassett, but couldn't articulate it at the time.  I think this ties in somehow with the little decals you see on the back of minivans and such, with each family member, down to the dog and cat, represented by a smiley-faced stick figure.  Leaving aside certain practical questions - for example, if the dog gets killed by a Buick, do you have to go out and scrape his decal from the windshield? - what is the source of delight some people take in these decals.  Because, let's admit it, there is something pleasing and amusing about them, even to someone like me who never intends to get one.

Or here's another example, although admittedly rarer, probably because you can't just buy these in a store.  Sometimes you will see a mailbox which is a tiny replica of the house in front of which it sits.  A little voodoo mailbox, if you will, that the postman opens each day to put in bills and postcards.

I don't know if other nationalities besides Americans do this sort of thing, but I suspect they don't.  It would seem we like to have not only the thing itself, but an image of the thing.  We pour ourselves a glass of water, and enjoy the watching the sloshing - clearly simulated - of water on an LED screen.  We drive up to our nice house, and enjoy pulling mail from the doll-sized model, as if our mail lived in a house just like ours!  We load our charming family into our minivan - our daughter has a soccer game - and are pleased at the cartoon representation of ourselves on the back window, right down to our daughter's soccer uniform.

Is it that reality is insufficient for us and has to be supplemented somehow?  Or is it that reality is so rich that we celebrate it by representing it in these little totems?  Or is it something else?

The first commercial image that really gripped me was Tony the Tiger on the box of Frosted Flakes.  When I was a kid, Tony was pouring a bowlful from a box, on which Tony was pouring a bowlful, on which Tony was pouring a bowlful... and so on, if not ad infinitum, at least ad the-artist-got-sick-of-it.  (I have scoured the internet but can't find an image of that box anywhere.  Do I remember it correctly?  Did I really see it at all?)  That box fascinated me, and I would ponder that endless regression of Tonys.  It reminded of an experience standing between two mirrors, so that each mirror reflected not only me, but the reflection of me in the opposite mirror, and the reflection of the other mirror's reflection, and so on, this time ad infinitum indeed, for unlike a corporate cartoonist, light never loses its patience with endless duplication.

I think the LED panel, and the family decals, and the little voodoo-house mailbox are somehow traceable to that same phenomenon: the joy we have in our own reflection - I am pouring water, and the refrigerator mimics it.  The ultimate expression of this is to stand between two mirrors and look at our reflection looking at our reflection looking at our reflection in an infinite space.

Me, me, me, me, me, me, me, me.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Shouldn't this... this?

...and shouldn't this... this?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Cicadas in Heat

"You have very sensual mouth-parts."
Late August, and the cicadas are in full swing.  In the late afternoon and early evening you can hear them way in the tops of the trees settling up their rattling roar like Evinrude motors.  Some people think the sound of cicadas is charming - it is not.  Crickets are charming, warblers and mockingbirds are charming.  Cicadas are just an out-and-out hullabaloo.  What a ruckus!  Still, I love it.  It is a joyous sound.

Nancy used to travel to Greenwood, Florida to run a training program, and the night bugs there were even louder.  It was a roar.  Harmless, but loud as hell.  Yankees, wide-eyed with apprehension, would come up to Nancy pleadingly and say, "Can't someone make them stop?"

If you've ever seen a cicada up close, they are somewhat alarming-looking bugs.  A big one is as long as your thumb and about twice as thick.  According to Wikipedia, they have prominent but not overlarge eyes.  This is the sort of clarity only Wikipedia can provide: never has it been so clear to me the distinction between prominent and overlarge.  The cicadas around here have bottle-green abdomens, with heavily-veined wings, and the requisite six legs sprouting from the thorax.

Growing up, we called them locusts, but they are not locusts.  As a kid, I would hunt for their empty husks on pine trees in late May or so.  The cicada larva would crawl out of the ground and emerge from its shell, which it would leave behind on a tree trunk.  A perfect little cicada, only hollow.  It wasn't until later in the summer they'd begin their roaring.

The reason they roar, of course, is because summer is ending, and they need to mate in the next month if they're going to mate at all.

You'd roar, too.

The cicadas do not roar for us; they roar for one another.  "I love your prominent but not overlarge eyes," says the sweet-talking cicada, or "You have very sensual mouth-parts," or, if they're especially daring, "Oh, larva!" (Cicadas say, "Oh, larva!" the way humans say, "Oh, baby!")  "Oh, larva!  Those legs go all the way up to the thorax!"

The song you hear is the song of cicadas making sweet, sweet bug love, and it is the reason we will get to hear the same song next year.

Roar while you can, cicadas.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Lucid Dreams

A lucid dream, in case you don't know, is a dream when you know you're dreaming.  I have maybe four lucid dreams a year - at least dreams that I remember the next morning.  If you've never had a lucid dream, you might think it's way cool, and it kind of sort of is, but mostly it's either frustrating or disappointing.

Last night for example, I dreamt I was hanging out with some chickens, and suddenly I realized I was dreaming.  "Say, I'm in a dream," I told myself, "what will I do?  I know, I'll fly!"  (Every time I'm in a lucid dream I decide to fly.  I really need to think of something more interesting.)  So anyway, bammo, I think, I'll fly, and the next thing you know, there I am flying.

It's not as cool as it sounds.

Basically I just floated into the air and looked down on the chickens.  The chickens, by the way, were completely unimpressed even though I was flying way better than any chicken could, and I wasn't even flapping my arms.

This is the whole flaw with lucid dreams - at least in my experience: you can do anything you want, but you can't make anyone or anything else cooperate with you.  

Another lucid dream I decided I'd fly around the city at night like Superman fighting crime and stuff.  Only once I got up in the air, I couldn't see anything.  I was flying around in the dark.  I mean, I was perfectly safe, it was only a dream, but I couldn't see a thing.  I guess I could've given myself super-x-ray-vision, but then I'd have had to imagine flying, having super-x-ray-vision, seeing into buildings and junk, and someone committing a crime.  It was all just too much work.  When I sleep, I want to relax.

Sometimes lucid dreams aren't just a let-down but actively 

One time I was aware I had to get up extra-early to get to an appointment out of town somewhere.  So I get out of bed in the morning and I'm getting dressed, when all of a sudden, I realize I'm dreaming.  I'm not getting up and getting dressed because I'm dreaming about getting up and getting dressed.  Then I open my eyes, and I'm lying in bed.  And I get out and start to get dressed.  But then I realize, I'm still dreaming.  By this time, I'm in a tizzy; I can't get out of this dream-loop, and I'm scared I'm going to oversleep for real and miss my appointment.  So I begin shouting to myself, "Wake up!  Wake up!" only you know how it is in a dream, I wasn't really making any noise.  It was like shouting into a paper cup or being underwater.  The real-life me was just lying in bed making a soft nasal honk like an anesthetized seal.  I did finally get up and keep my appointment, but the dream had left me rattled.

"If I had a lucid dream," you're thinking, "I know what I'd dream about!  Rrrow!"  Well, I tried that, too, and it doesn't work.  I can conjure up some vague fantasy woman - a little like Dolly Parton, only made of vinyl, and come to think of it, I'm not sure Dolly Parton isn't made of vinyl at that.  But then we just sort of stand there looking at each other, waiting for something to happen.  And the fantasy-vinyl-Dolly-Parton figure is like, "Well, make me do something.  This is your dream."  It's like she's perfectly cooperative but at the same time sort of uncooperative.  Like not just her skin, but her personality was made of vinyl.  It's hard to explain, but in the meantime it's a tremendous amount of performance anxiety, because I'm not just responsible for my performance, but hers.  And the possibility of a menage a trois is just too terrible to contemplate.

The bottom line is, lucid dreams aren't all they're cracked up to be because in a dream, it's so hard to make things happen.  Whether it's getting to an appointment, fighting crime, or just enjoying some physical affection, the place to make things happen is in your waking life.  In your dreams, you're better off just lying back and letting things happen to you.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Why Won't Kim Kardashian Leave Me Alone

The time has come, and the time is now.  Kim Kardashian, will you please just leave me alone.
Every morning, when I log in, there's another picture of you.  Sometimes the commentary is "Bold fashion statement," sometimes, "Fashion blunder," but the one unchanging aspect is you.

Clearly you have developed an unhealthy fixation on me.

And it's got to stop.

Face it, Kim, I'm no good for you.  I would only bring you trouble.  You need to forget about me and move on.  Find someone your own age who shares your interests.  I don't even know what your interests are, that's how little your interests interest me.  Am I getting though to you, Kim?

Maybe you should seek counseling.

Believe me, plenty of other women have gotten over me.  Most in fact, never got on me in the first place.
Move on, Kim, move on.

Don't make me get a restraining order.