Monday, February 25, 2013

Wishful Thinking

What do you want? Not “What do you want?” the rhetorical question that really means “Go away.”

I mean it. I want to know what you want in life.

What would make you happy? What would be the first thing you wish for?

Sigh. Fine. What would you wish for after you wished for more wishes, Smarty-pants?

Honestly. Try to have a serious conversation. Or try to have as serious a conversation as is reasonably possible when the subject is hopes, wishes and pipe dreams because we never want things we can get.

Cliché wishes include winning the lottery, stardom-level fame and sexual god(ess)hood.

Your personal chances of getting the first two probably level out at “not likely”. Out of respect, I won’t comment on the last.

See how I snuck respect in there? That’s writing, son. It’s called foreshadowing. Maybe you won’t ditch so many English classes next reincarnation.

Those were cliché wishes. Our real wishes are much more plebian. We want a little more money than we need. We want people to like us. And we want respect.

Oh yes you do. You want the respect of your boss, your mate and your peers. You want them to take you seriously, find you attractive and laugh at your jokes.

But wait, there’s more.

When you get a little older, you’ll have a whole new wish list. Respect is still on it, but it moves waaay down. You’re worried about your kids (if you have them, which I don’t) or your aging parents or your pets. Respect drops under all that, to somewhere below “Not waking up tired” and “Being fit without effort” and “Less tedium”.

That said, you don’t see me going to sleep an hour earlier or skipping the myriad small tasks that comprise a typical day, as much as I say I’d like to.

We want the consequences, but we’re still not willing to do what it takes to get them.

If wishes were fishes, we’d be eating then with our bagels for breakfast, packing wish-salad sandwiches for lunch and having wish-almondine for dinner.

And the fries wouldn’t be fattening.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Shall I Compare Thee To A Cup Of Pudding?

I hate poetry. I still compare a lot of stuff to sonnets, they’re just so damned useful. As a comparison, I mean.

Think about it. Sonnets have an uncompromising structure and are usually boring as shit. Nobody you’d want to have a drink with has even seen one in ages. They’re still synonymous with artistic skill, if not artistry. Or maybe it’s just a certain level of artistic elitism.

That’s what makes them so useful.

Take Puddinstrip for example. What? You don’t Puddin’? Shut up.

No, I mean it, shut this window and go over to youtube and type Puddinstrip. Then, when you’re done, follow Matt Oswalt on Twitter and come back and read the rest of this post. I’ll wait.

Okay, fine. Don’t do it. You’re only hurting yourself.

Puddinstrip is a semi-daily online video series. They’re short, often less than a minute, and as artistically constrained by their format as a sonnet is. Basically, Eddie Pepitone goes nuts in a break room while Matt Oswalt eats a pudding cup. Or pretends to. It could be more meta than I thought.

The humor is usually brutal, often repulsive and sometimes cruel. You know, all the stuff I dislike in my comedy. It also isn’t always funny. I don’t miss an episode.

The question is why.

For all his (presumably ersatz) brutality and misery, there is a gleefulness to Mr. Pepitone’s ranting. It’s all terrifically – and horrifically – absurd, juxtaposed with the banality of a generic office break room.

In a way, it’s like vomit. Visually beige with disgusting bits of color and flavor. It’s also like a sonnet.

See why sonnets are so useful? If I stopped at the vomit thing, you might not want to check it out. Or maybe you would. If you would, you’ll love Puddin’. Even if you’re grossed out, you should give it a shot.

Oh, and please try to sit through the ad. I’d like to see Mr. Oswalt get a check for more than 89 cents for all his hard work.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Pauling Calling?

Our Loud Neighbors have reached a new benchmark. They’ve rigged their phone so that now, at my desk with the window open, I can hear their caller i.d.


In case I didn’t mention it, of course they screen their calls.

About a minute ago, I swear I heard: “Call from Linus Pauling. Call from Linus Pauling. Call from Linus Pauling.”

At first I thought it was techno-garble. Why would a living iconic scientist and do-gooder be calling them, let alone a dead one?

Then I thought some more.

Upon consideration, I believe that Dr. Pauling has somehow managed to pierce the veil between the worlds just to contact the people next door.

They’re really unhealthy. They probably need vitamin C.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

After Ever After

There’s a reason why the story ends with “happily ever after.”

It has to.

After that, there’s nothing to say.

Trust me on this. I got to happily ever after a while ago. It’s a good place to be. I hope you get here. We’ll hang out.

I have no complaints, knock on wood.

But it leaves me with nothing much to talk about. Go ahead and make a smart-ass comment about this blog. It’s not dialogue. So there.

“I haven’t seen you in months!” she chirped at me today. “What’s been going on?”

I was stuck.

Oh, there have been a few scattered tribulations, a couple of worries here and there, nothing conducive to idle chit or idle chat.

Nobody warns you that contentment is a conversational wasteland, bereft of metaphoric tumbleweeds.

If I meet someone who looks like they might become a real friend, I end up giving them this link. That doesn’t happen often. (Hey, Ivan or Atticus or whatever I’m calling you this week, are you still here?)

The good news is that it’s not much of a problem. I live in Superficial City. Here in L.A. people say “How are you?” as an obligatory preamble to their own stuff.

So when she chirped at me today, I replied, “Not much, how are things with you?”

It worked fine. We talked for over an hour.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

A Glancing Blow

Once upon a time when Auntie was much younger and still gave a shit, I was making my way into a male-dominated circle.

Yet another male-dominated circle if you want to be accurate and picayune, but there I was. Me and a handful of male aspirants, all of us hanging out with deliberate nonchalance, trying to be accepted. You know the drill.

That’s when a local bigwig went out of his way to humiliate me in front of a group of about fifty people.

(Yet another… oh never mind. It happens to men breaking into a closed group too. I wear a bra, so the hazing lasted longer. This particular instance was worse than what the guy-newbies got, though.)

I took it with as much dignity as I could at the time.

Years passed. I rose in status. I also dropped about 20 pounds. The bigwig came back and saw me with mutual friends. He approached, leering. I saw him before he got close to us. I remembered the unnecessary humiliation and how much I disliked him.

My contempt was visible. He took one look at my face and backed away. I mean that literally. He took two or three steps backward before he turned and left the room.

Phew, I thought, and forgot all about it. End of story.

… or not.

More years passed. I left the group, but kept a few genuine friends, like the guy who’d been standing next to me when the bigwig backed off. My friend still remembers the evening, more clearly than I do. I know because he brought it up. He chortled with absolute glee when he described the hypothetical effect my expression had on the bigwig’s testicles -- and my friend is not a chortler.

Why bring this up now?

Hm. Why indeed?

I could say that Auntie wanted to explain and illustrate yet again the power of contempt, or the importance of not insulting people because you never, ever know what the future will hold. Auntie could say all that. The precepts are true.

But really, I brought it up because I want you to know that doing the right thing really does pay off. Take the high road. You might find yourself in a position of power later on.

Believe me, if that happens, it’s worth the wait.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Substitution, More Collusion

I just checked the metrics on this blog. Guess what! The food posts are my most popular by a huge margin. People have been going through the archives all the way back to 2008.

I wonder why.

Then again, I also wonder if anyone’s noticed something. We haven’t been back to Las Vegas for a while. We will go back eventually. You can read about it when it happens.

In the meantime, I/we have been substituting experiences. Not food, the whole point to overeating on vacation is that you don’t do it at home. I mean the rest of it.

The sense of having a destination and reaching it matters, not how far away it is.

This morning we managed that level of satisfaction within 20 minutes of home, with enough time left over for me to take Melva to get her eyes checked this afternoon.

What’s important is leaving your rut. The companionability of shared experience and observation is different when you’re out among strangers.

When two people are alone together at home, they become de facto adversaries. It’s inevitable. They’re facing off conversationally as well as literally. That’s not a bad thing. There would be no narrative without conflict, and constant agreement is boring.

But put those same two people together in public, and they’re automatically a team.

The bond of just being together is more significant. It’s about structure. That’s why dating works. It’s why people make friends with the person on the next barstool. For some reason that doesn’t work in a gym, but we’ll ignore examples which don’t advance Auntie’s point.

Caring about things makes them important. Do you want sanctuary away from your tedium and your stress? Take it where you can get it, not where you think it ought to be.

Do you want something new? Maybe you want exhilaration or inspiration. Maybe you just need distraction. Well, DIY. Things are always better when you make them yourself from scratch anyhow.

Basically, it turns out that all that stuff about being happy where you are is true, only being happy at home isn't always as easy as being happy in a three-star restaurant with a constant flow of beautiful (and comped) gourmet treats.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Hag. Phooey, Young

Watch yourself. Auntie is on the warpath. Someone just called me “young lady”.


Please pay attention this time. I repeat:

“Young” is NOT a compliment!

You can’t really tell from the pic, but my hair is more gray than not. If I wanted to be young, or even to be seen as young, I would dye it. If I thought younger is better, then a little Botox would smooth my 51 ½ year old brow.

Hell, if I wanted you to think I’m young, I wouldn’t tell you how old I am.

“Young lady” is condescending and patronizing as well as annoying and wrong. It’s usually spoken with a disingenuous fake smile by people who are less than half my age.

They think they’re flattering me. They’re not.

They wouldn’t call one of their contemporaries young, there’d be no point. Therefore, their point in calling me young is that I’m old. I already know that, thanks.

Younger isn’t better, it’s just younger.

Sure, younger is prettier and more idealistic. But if you’re so zealous, and you care so damn much about everything, then why do I get more done in a day than you do? Hm?

Ok, so I’m kind of stuck coming up with more examples of the benefits of age.

My checkbook balances better than yours, but you probably do everything online and don’t even use a checkbook. I have an excellent plumber, and the oil in my car is changed every three months or 3,000 miles. Yippee.

Sometimes they give me a discount at the movies even though I’m 8 ½ years shy. I’ve never asked for a senior ticket. Gray hair = $1.50. Woohoo.

I’ll grant you, young has fewer aches and gripes. No, I take that back.

Young has gripes. Young is whiny.

Old isn’t whiny. Old is grumpy. I prefer grumpy. Now get off of my lawn.