Thursday, August 31, 2006

Are clams really happy?



Inglorious friend! most confident I am
Thy life is one of very little ease;
Albeit men mock thee with their similes,
And prate of being "happy as a clam!"
What though thy shell protects thy fragile head
From the sharp bailiffs of the briny sea?
Thy valves are, sure, no safety-valves to thee,
While rakes are free to desecrate thy bed,
And bear thee off, - as foemen take their spoil,
Far from thy friends and family to roam;
Forced, like a Hessian, from thy native home,
To meet destruction in a foreign broil!
Though thou art tender, yet thy humble bard
Declares, O clam! thy case is shocking hard!
--John G Saxe, Sonnet to a Clam

I overheard someone use the expression, "happy as a clam" yesterday. My immediate response was how do we know clams are happy? And how happy can a mollusk be?

Apparently the full expression used to be "happy as a clam at high tide." And the clams are supposed to be happy because no one can dig them up at high tide, boil them alive and eat them. I guess that would make me relieved, but not necessarily happy. It would explain why we don't say "Happy as a lobster on a cruise."

And what about geoducks? They live to be about 150 years old. Are they happy? I don't think so. How could you be happy if you looked like a horse's private parts and sucked on plankton 24-7?

I really don't think mollusk's in general are a happy lot. So I think we need to rethink the whole "happy as a clam" reference. I don't think "happy as a pig in shit" makes a lot of sense either (though pigs do seem more jovial than geoducks). I'm not sure why campers are considered "happy" either. Crapping in the woods and sleeping on the ground never had me leaping for joy.

In New Zealand and Australia they apparently say, "Happy as Larry" as in "We would be as happy as Larry if it were not for the rats." Larry apparently was a undefeated Australian boxer. I'm not sure what the rats have to do with it.

Of course the Aussies also say stuff like "happy as a boxing kangaroo in fog time" and "happy as a sick eel on a sandspit." They apparently don't say stuff like, "happy as a shrimp on a barbie" (which conjures up all kinds of weird things if you think about it long enough).

So what can we really be happy as? Happy as a maggot on rotted veal? Happy as a cow at a vegetarian convention? Happy as a condemned man on an electric chair during a blackout? Happy as vampire at a blood bank? Happy as a mime in a hearing aid store? Happy as a mosquito at a nudist colony?

I don't know. I'm not happy with any of those expressions.

Sigh.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Open gates


"True artists and true physicists know that nonsense is only that which, viewed from our present point of view, is unintelligible. Non-sense is nonsense only when we have not yet found that point of view from which it makes sense."

Gary Zukav, The Dancing Wu Li Masters – An Overview of the New Physics

Looking at this photo, do you see a gate opening, or a gate closing? Go ahead, take your time. I'll wait.

Okay, what's your answer? Opening?

WRONG...

Closing?

WRONG. This isn't a value judgement test about "half full" or "half empty."

The gate is neither opening nor closing. It is sitting there, statically open. There is no motion. I know this for a fact. I took the photo. It was on the moors in Dartmoor in England. A little voice in my head kept saying, "Stay on the path." There was a full moon. A shot rang out. A woman screamed.

But I digress.

Faced with a multiple choice question with limited options, more often than not we feel obligated to choose one of the options presented. It rarely occurs to us that the answers presented to us aren't necessarily the right ones or the only ones. But as with most things in society, knowledge has become standardized.

The irony of standardized tests is that they can also be used to teach you to watch for trick questions. Teachers have been doing it for years to teach students many lessons...more often than not humiliation. Who hasn't been given that test that begins with "Read the entire test and instructions before beginning." You of course ignore it and frantically fill in all of the answers before you get to the last instruction which tells you not to fill in anything but your name and hand in the test.

I fell for that one once. But then I became paranoid and began overthinking every test. I became obsessed with proving my ability to think "outside the box" that I couldn't manage what was inside the box.

It is not just a matter of thinking "outside the box." It is more of a matter of simply thinking, period. Too often, we confuse brain dumps with creativity. Most real artists have studied composition, form, color and know the rules before they think of ways to break them. The same is true for other areas of knowledge. Even creativity requires some structure. It just may not be apparent.

This is how I explain my desk.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I, Lugubrious

"Lugubrious" is one of my favorite words. I even like its definition: Mournful, dismal, or gloomy, especially to an exaggerated or ludicrous degree. Unfortunately, it is not one of those words you hear spoken out loud very often:

"Hey Earl, that engine's soundin' kinda lugubrious today. Hadn't you better use a higher octane a' gas?"

"Lugubrious" conjures up images of Pooh's sidekick Eeyore. "Lugubrious" conjures up Marvin, the depressed robot from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. And "lugubrious" conjures up a delicious sense of self-endulgence and self-pity (i.e. He languished in lugubrious silence, laying on the leather lounger and longing for less lethargic latitudes).

If "lugubrious" were a liquid, it would pour in slow, syrupy drops of congealed verbiage. It is not a word used by manic sportscasters as they hack random phrases off the haunch of the English language with cleaver-like dexterity: He cut through that line like a lugubrious pitbull on a three-wheeled skateboard. No, "lugubrious" is one of those words best served up like an expensive cut of beef...rarely.

Lugubrious, I salute you...but without lots of enthusiasm.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Inferno


"Hello"
"Hell's low and Heaven's high."
--The Snake Pit



Years ago, when I still had the energy to seek out potential stories to write about and try and sell freelance, I tagged along with a pyrotechnics team staging a fireworks show from a barge in the middle of Lake Washington to entertain people attending a Microsoft party. It may even have been at Bill Gates' house. I had my camera with me and put it on a tripod with an open exposure and captured the image above. I always thought it looked like a scene from hell.

This is not to say that I know what hell looks like (though I have been to Salt Lake City). I do find it ironic that hell is always associated with heat and flames. Personally, I would have chosen some place like Antartica as hell. Just talk to one of those poor penquin poppa's that have to sit on an egg for months in subzero temperatures. I'm sure they would opt for some fire and brimstone.

I suppose it will be a cold day in hell before the bible thumpers would accept an icy hell versus a hot one. But isn't it a bit ironic that cremation is an accepted form of releasing the spirit from the body in many cultures, including parts of our own? It makes more sense than burying them in the ground (closer to hell) and hoping they'll make it to heaven.

There is no question that I want to be cremated (after I die of course). Oh sure, I don't get the tombstone, but let's be practical here. Having a tombstone doesn't guarantee you will be remembered. Tombstones are about as effective as having your name in the phone book for being remembered.

I haven't decided where I want my ashes scattered, though. That could be problematic. I don't want them sitting on a shelf. I don't want them dumped in the ocean (I'm not much of a swimmer). Maybe I should request that they be used to make bricks or glass or something that can be placed as part of a building. That would be kind of cool. It would have to be some useful building, though and not something stupid like a Jack in the Box.

I hate their commercials, by the way.

Sorry...digression.

I wouldn't want to be part of a Walmart, either. Talk about going to hell. And I don't want to be part of a church. I'm not a hypocrite. Let's see...I've got it. I want to be cremated, have my ashes used to make a brick and be used to build a casino. Not in Las Vegas though. I want to be part of one these cool Pacific Northwest casinos. I want to be placed near the dollar slots. Not the nickels.

Consider this my living will. Because we all know where there is a will, there is a way.

I'd like that written on the brick.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Statue


I remember playing Statue Tag when I was a kid. Whoever was "it" turned there back to the other players and counted to ten while they approached from a few yards away. When "it" turned around everyone had to freeze like statues. This happened until someone eventually tagged the person who was "it" and everyone ran back to base. If "it" caught you, you had to be "it."

In retrospect, "it" was a stupid game.

I am an adult now and I did find a new way to play statue without dealing with any issues with pigeons. Plus I don't have to be a mime, either.


These photos were originally of statues I saw when I was in England about 15 years ago. A couple were taken at Salisbury Cathederal and the one above is from the British Museum Greek section.

In case you are curious, here is the chimera before I became one with it.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Mirror, mirror...reprised


It is funny how we perceive ourselves. Every time I see my reflection or photograph I am startled. It is not the person I feel like inside. Part of it is age. Part of it is self-image. And part of it is the way I am feeling at the time. But still, the face (and the body) doesn't match my thoughts.

These are not new thoughts. Back in October 2004 I posted Mirror, Mirror.... In it I wrote:
"...it reminds me of standing on tiptoe as a kid trying to see my reflection in the toaster that sat on the kitchen counter. And when I could finally catch a glimpse of my own reflection in the mirror, I always felt a bit shocked. Because the face in the toaster was never the face I saw inside. As a boy, inside I always pictured my mature face and wondered who this boy was.

Now, as I age and look in the mirror, I still feel a bit shocked. Because now the face I see in the mirror is still not the face I see inside. Now as the lines on my face increase and my skin sags, I feel the younger face inside wondering who this stranger is staring back at me. "

I remember that time so vividly. It reminds me of all of the fantasy and science fiction plots where mirrors are just two-way windows (there's that word again) into other dimensions and maybe the face we are staring at isn't really ours. I'd actually be okay with that.

It's funny, you would think with all of the times that I've morphed my face onto other people and objects that I would be comfortable with the way it looks. And it dawns on me that perhaps this is why artists throughout time have painted self-portraits. Other than the obvious reason that you don't have to pay the model, it is a way to try and see yourself. And in seeing yourself, perhaps you can discover who you are.

The beauty of paint -- or in my case pixels -- is that if you don't like what you see, you can reshape who you are.

If it were only that simple.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Would someone open up a window


There is rarely a more over used cliche than "the eyes are the window to the soul." I'm willing to bet that every Creative Writing 101 student has slipped that little gem into some assignment along the way. And I'm also willing to bet that every time the instructor of the Creative Writing 101 class reads that classic phrase in a student's writing, their own windows to the soul are threatening to roll so far back into their head that a brain hemorrhage is a serious risk.

Besides, if the eyes are the windows to the soul, wouldn't being near or farsighted skew things. I started wearing glasses when I was 14. Did that mean my soul was myoptic? And wouldn't you think that my perspective on the world around me would have been significantly improved six years ago when I had Lasik surgery. I think not (though I can read the clock first thing in the morning without squinting...that is pretty cool).

To some animal species, eye contact is a sign of aggression and will trigger an attack by the dominant animal. Of course, "civilized" people try and convince you that it is a sign of confidence and trustworthiness to look someone in the eye. If you don't make eye contact with someone, they think you are lying. Conversely, women really get annoyed if men make eye contact, but not with their eyes.

All that being said, I really prefer to wear sunglasses. I like to think of them as the levelor blinds to the soul. I don't like people looking into my eyes. It breaks my concentration. I think better if I'm focused within, not on someone's eyes. It doesn't mean I'm lying. It means I'm thinking (or ignoring the person who is blathering on to me about nothing). Sunglasses make it easier to avoid eye contact and appear interested in a conversation.

Also, I don't like people staring at my soul. When I wear sunglasses, my soul can stare at them.

And make faces.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Boy Toy


Unless I happen to get offered a role in the next Star Wars sequel, it is highly unlikely I will ever have an action figure modeled after me. Ordinairy people do not have action figures. Oh sure, there is Ken. But Ken is not an action figure. Ken is a doll and Barbie's androgenous be-otch.

There is a lot of press about how Barbie represents this unrealistic image of a female ideal. She is tall, blonde and unproportionately busty. Regardless, she has been popular for years with young ladies (and a few young men). I don't know of any one who thinks of Ken as a role model, realistic or unrealistic. He is a wimp. I'm not even sure why Barbie hangs out with him.

I think it would be more realistic if they created a Ken doll that had a pot belly, double chin and farted when you pulled his finger. He would also be commitment phobic and ignore Barbie. You can bet Barbie would be all over him.

Then Ken would be an action figure.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Guruvy

"Jai Guru Deva Om"
--John Lennon, "Across the Universe"

I used to think John Lennon was singing, "High, Grooooovy Dayyyyy....old man" in the song Across the Universe. I can be forgiven for thinking this because Lennon was the same man who wrote "I am the walrus, goo goo ga' joob." Later I learned that John was actually singing, "Jai Guru Deva Om" which roughly translates "Victory to Guru Dev." And Guru Dev was Shankaracharya Swami Brahmananda Saraswati -the guru of Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who founded the Transcendental Meditation movement.

I suppose that doesn't mean much to most of you now, but back in the mid-70s you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting someone who was sitting in a corner meditating using their own private TM mantra (that you could only get by attending one of their high-priced seminars). One of my brothers was into TM. Now he listens to Rush Limbaugh, so I don't think it led to inner peace.

I was never into TM. I couldn't afford the mantra. Years later, I did take a course in a local experimental college in creative guided meditation. The instructor taught us how to journey into an inner happy place that we created and surround ourselves with healing light. I could never quite get the hang of it because I kept moving furniture around in my happy place trying to make it more comfortable. I do remember having to go down lots of worn marble stairs to get to it (which may explain my recent nightmares).

Part of my problem with trying to meditate is trying to clear my mind of thoughts. Years of conditioning has instilled in me that a blank mind means you are an idiot. So as I sit to meditate, I catch myself thinking about not thinking which is thinking. And just when I think I'm not thinking, a stray thought streaks through my brain shaking it's private parts at my attempts not to think.

The only way I've really found to clear my mind of thoughts is watch reality television, and preferably something from the FOX Network. Dog the Bounty Hunter works pretty well, but it leaves me with this nagging desire to grow a mullet, scream "Mahalo" and menace the neighbors with a Costco-sized can of pepper spray.

Oh well, as John Lennon said, nothing's going to change my world and everybody has something to hide except for me and my monkey.

Meditate on that one.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

No the now


You can say what you want about Mel Gibson the man and his momentary lack of judgement when he was pulled over for allegedly overindulging, but Mel Gibson the actor was pretty darned cool in Braveheart. I don't know what it was, but when I first saw that movie, I just wanted to put on a kilt, paint my face blue and go throw a sword at the English.

Fortunately I don't act on all of my impulses (unless I have allegedly overindulged...but just that once). The authorities aren't very forgiving when it comes to running around in a kilt with your face painted blue brandishing a sword and screaming, "Freedom!"

It's not that I'm even Scottish (though I'm sure my mutt blood contains some Scottish roots down there somewhere). It was just the whole fight for your honor against injustice thing that got to me. That and being able to strut around babbling in a Scottish accent and sounding cool even when you were just asking for directions.

American accents suck. We always sound like we are constipated (unless you stem from the deep south and then you just sound like you are constipated on qualudes). I remember walking on the streets of London years ago and having people stop me to ask directions. The minute I opened my mouth they'd look so crestfallen and say, "Oh, you're American" and walk off.

I played the pauper in a play version of the "Prince and the Pauper" when I was in sixth grade. I got the part because I did a pretty good British accent (for a 12-year old that is). "Tom Canty if it pluleez you sir." The student teacher, Sue Leigh I believe her name was, thought I was brilliant. The rest of the kids just used it as one more excuse to put me in a trash can at recess.

But I digress.

What we lack in our lives are the fictional values portrayed in Braveheart to fight for a cause that isn't sanctioned by a commercial that ends with a politician stating, "I approve of this message." We lack the opportunity to meet on a battlefield in a large pasture or park and whale the tar out of each other with pointed sticks, swords, knives and arrows. We also lack the opportunity to lift up our kilts and wag our private parts and behinds at our enemies in a derogatory manner. If only this was a custom that we could use in business meetings today:

Agenda:

Introductions: Wag private parts at our opponents (5 minutes)

Item one: Throw large broadsword into center of room (1 minute)

Item two: Shoot arrows at each other (5 minutes)

Item three: Charge each other with swords and sharp sticks.

Item four: Ride horses at the people on foot and slash them with swords and
sharp sticks.

Item five: Run away.

Conclusion: Questions and clean up dead bodies.

I can tell you I would look forward to business meetings alot more if this was the agenda.

Oh well, no the now.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Fear itself


Most kids growing up are taught that inside every bully is a coward. The irony is that in order to get them to leave you alone, you have to make them think you are scarier than they are. I was never very good at that (at least not until I discovered Photoshop).

It's funny, though, that to face our fears, we must sometimes be fearful instead of fearless.

I questioned once awhile back about what the boogie man was afraid of. Because if you were scarier than the boogie man, you really wouldn't have much else to be afraid of.

But we all have fears. We may be afraid of death. Or we may be afraid of life. The fears don't have to be rational things. They can be sparked by insecurities or dreams. I think the imaginary things are sometimes more frightening than the real things. You can at least see the real things coming.

I've watch alot of what are billed as "scary" movies in my life. They are usually more gross than frightening. I lean more towards "psychological" thrillers. The mind scares me more than the body...well some bodies anyway. I saw some pretty scary bodies at a Club Med on Martinique several years ago. The French are not necessarily a beautiful people.

But I digress.

Franklin Roosevelt (or his speechwriter) once said, "We have nothing to fear, but fear itself." But isn't that the point. Fear is an emotion, not a thing. And sometimes fear is what saves us. If you aren't afraid of the dark alleyway, you may wander down it oblivious to what is lurking there.

So is fear really the bad thing or is it lack of fear. By fearing no evil are you embracing good, or becoming evil?

I scare myself sometimes.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Number 444


Technically, August 4, 2006 was my second blogiversary. This is my 444th blog post (not counting the Monkey Playing Cymbals collaborations, Ich Bin Gunter and Living the Life Quixotic).

Frankly, it feels like more than two years. It has been the best of times and the worst of times. But I think I have come to terms with this demon known as blogging. And maybe, just maybe, I can wave one of my two candles at those of you just starting out (as long as you are not one of those 1000 monkeys I've already dissed) and tell you to keep walking into the light. It's a long and winding road, but boy, you've got to carry that weight (that was for Beatle hater Kristy).

Not that I'm what I'd consider a successful blogger. But I am a blog survivor. And I'll probably hang in here until we move on to whatever writing fad takes blogging's place.

Anyway, I wanted to thank all of you who have commented over the past two years (especially Shandi and Lights who have been with me almost from the beginning). I don't want to forget Mickey, either. Or Cherish, Gina, JanePoe, Hayden, I Ride the Bus, Kristy and R. And last but not least those who came for awhile and left...like Zagu. I wish you all happiness and good fortune.

This blog's for you!

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Friday, August 11, 2006

Infinite Monkeys


The infinite monkey theorem states that a monkey randomly hitting keys on a keyboard for an infinite amount of time will, according to mathematics, type or create just about any text that has been or will be written. It is popular to assign the monkeys the entire works of Shakespeare (apparently the monkeys get a little pissy if you ask them to tap out the entire works of Stephen King).

But I digress.

It dawned on me today that blogging is nothing but the infinite monkey theorem being put into practice. There is an infinite number of you monkeys out there tapping away randomly at your keyboards in truly what seems to be an infinite number of blogs. And mathematics tells us that sooner or later one of you is going to type out something great. But the bitch is, that it is just dumb luck...er I mean the laws of probibility...that will create the work.

I find this discouraging. In the words of the Elephant Man, "I'm a man, not an animal." I'm just going to come out and lay it on the line: there are too many blogs. Just because you can type and have a computer, doesn't mean you are a writer. I own some pretty sharp knives, but I don't fancy myself a surgeon.

I have known I wanted to be a writer since I was a kid. I took writing classes in junior high and high school. I went to college to BE a writer. I have a JOURNALISM DEGREE. Technically, I am considered a PROFESSIONAL writer. I have spent hundreds of hours writing and getting rejected as PROFESSIONAL writers are supposed to. And then WHAM...the Internet and blogging pops up and all of you monkeys started typing.

If you think I am bitter, you are quite right. I'm here to say, enough is enough. Back away from your keyboards and stop dancing monkeys.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Out damned blot!



"I pointed out to you the stars (the moon) and all you saw was the tip of my finger."
--African proverb

Fortunately I have never had to take a Rorshach inkblot test. Who knows what the psych's would read into my responses. Personally, I think it is a pretty odd way to determine whether or not all of a person's dogs are barking or not. I don't know about you, but I can generally size up a person when I meet them and can tell you if they are a candidate for shock therapy without making them describe what they see in a blob of ink.

I wouldn't want to take an ink blot test for another reason. I'm one of those people that freaks if they take a test and don't get the right answer. I could see myself staring at one of the ink spots for hours, afraid to say what I think it is for fear I'd call it a bat when most people think it is a crow.

I think it is human nature, however, to look for hidden meaning in things. It is why people tend to miss the obvious. It is also why e-mail is fraught with misunderstanding. It is too easy to read things into it that weren't intended.

Besides, people are always seeing things that weren't intended when they look at photos or read stuff you've written. I was just watching a thing on television the other night about the official portrait of former President Bill Clinton. People were up in arms because Clinton wasn't wearing his wedding ring in the painting. What did it mean? Had he secretly divorced? Was he fooling around? Did Hilary leave him?

The artist confessed he just overlooked the ring when he was doing the portrait. Not everything has significance....

...except for those things that do.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I'm a Pepper!


I'm not certain where our muscial tastes come from. It's not just growing up with certain types of music that makes you like it. I grew up with the Beatles and the Stones. I like the Beatles, but I don't like the Stones (okay maybe a couple of their songs). I also grew up with disco. Enough said?

I learned to like classical music listening to Bugs Bunny cartoons growing up. I picked up fondness for big band music and showtunes from my father. I learned about the Beatles from Ed Sullivan and was inspired to buy my first album (Revolver). I listened to pop music on a tiny battery powered transistor radio while growing up in Idaho. It really taught me to appreciate lots of different types of music (dependent upon the signal de jour).

I began playing soprano clairinet in grade school (my dad had played it briefly when he was young). By junior high I was playing contra alto and bass clairnets. Later I would play contrabass clairnet in the all-state band. But I also played guitar, bass guitar and even bass drum if required in the marching band.

Band further taught me to appreciate classical and more traditional forms of music (though in my senior year we built our football halftime show around Jesus Christ Superstar and Live and Let Die). The first rock concert I ever went to in Boise was Boz Scaggs. The second was Cheap Trick and Molly Hatchet. Later, when I moved to Seattle where big bands actually toured through, I saw Little River Band, Moody Blues, ZZ Top, the Prentenders, Doobie Brothers, Eric Clapton, Harry Chapin, Air Supply, Tori Amos, and (hate to admit it) Barry Manilow.

I know it is cliche, but I literally do like lots of different types of music. Most importantly, music should make me feel something. It doesn't have to be a major emotional epiphany (though Pink Floyd moves me every time). It can simply make my head twitch because I like the beat (this explains the Kid Rock, Eminem, and Rob Zombie in my collection). In the right mood, I'll even listen to Garth Brooks, Brooks and Dunn, Willie Nelson. And I do have most of Elvis' early music.
But if push comes to shove, I will always consider the Beatles the cornerstone of my musical roots (sorry Kristy). Because you always remember the first album you buy (I'm not sure what the iTunes generation is going to remember).

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Karma chimera


People sometimes confuse chimera with gargoyles. They aren't the same thing. Gargoyles are downspouts on medieval buildings disquised as grotesque creatures. The term gargoyle comes from the gargling sound water makes as it passes through a downspout. Chimera are just grotesque creatures adorning buildings. They are more decorative than functional.

It's a small distinction, but I think it is an important one. It can apply to people as well. Because in all things, there are those who do and those who sit around looking like they do. Some people are gargoyles and serve an important function in life. Others are chimera and are simply decorative. For example, Hillary Clinton could be categorized as a gargoyle and Paris Hilton as a chimera.

I am not implying that either Hillary or Paris are grotesque creatures in a literal sense. I am simply conveying things in the symbolic or metophoric fashion in which I tend to perceive the world. If I was more of an entrepenuer, I would probably write self-help books called, The Gargoyle Within or The Chimera Comlex! I would hold seminars and get big fat commissions for consultanting with famous people regarding their gargoylness or chimeraic qualities.

I'd like to think I'm a gargoyle and not just the boy toy, eye candy many of you have grown to know. After all, I spout things regularly via my blog and randomly in everyday life. And as with a real gargoyle, I can't really control what comes gurgling out of my mouth. It is extremely fortunate that I do not chew tobacco.

Oh I suppose it would be okay to be a chimera and sit around looking cool all the time without actually having to do anything. But I imagine even chimera have dreams. Maybe they even aspire to be gargoyles. And maybe gargoyles envy the chimera their freedom. It can't be easy coughing up water and sludge every time it rains.

It just goes to show you. The grass is always greener as long as you water it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Creating reality



"You can't always get what you want,
But you get what you need."
--Mick Jagger


The other day I was riding my exercise bike to nowhere watching a documentary narrated by William Shatner about how the original Star Trek inspired many modern day inventions we now take for granted. Everything from communicators, tricoders and personal computers impressed young and talented minds exposed to the 1960s vintage television program and inspired inventions that mimic the science fiction of the program.

Star Trek was complete fiction written by people who had no scientific background. Even the warp drives they created to explain intergalactic travel are now inspiring physicists to calculate ways that warp speed could break the limitations of the speed of light. It is easy to conclude that the writers of Star Trek wouldn't have been able to create such imaginative and inspiring ideas if they had been limited by the contraints of scientific knowledge at the time.

I believe we create our own realities. And I am not talking about wishing something was so and "poof" it is. I'm talking about forging where were are today based on each step we take throughout our lives. If you aren't real happy with where you are, you need look no further than all of the decisions you made throughout your life to get you there. And if you made it to where you are, you can make it to somewhere different.

Okay, I know that coming from a cynic, this seems a bit naive and simplistic. Shit happens. But I do believe that when it does, the choices we make determine whether we wallow in it or climb out and take a shower.

But enough of the optimistic philosophical concept of creating our own reality. I really started out wanting to talk about literally creating your own reality. I am of course talking about my new religion of manipulating digital photographs. There is something really freeing for me to be able to have an idea, open up a digital image software program of my choice and create my own reality. With digital software, I can be anyone or thing I want. I can create a scene the way I imagine it as opposed to the way it was or I can merely improve the view of an almost ideal scene.

Is there not something godlike in being able to do this? And before you run in horror waiting for lightening to strike me, I am not suggesting that I am God. I am merely metaphorically suggesting there is something godlike in creating your own digital reality. I'm sure artists with a little bit of talent for drawing or painting have felt this power for centuries. Digital software just puts the power in the hands of the more artistically challenged amongst us.

Now the beauty of this all is that once you create the image of the reality you want, it is one step closer to being the reality that is. Just look at Star Trek?

Pretty cool, huh?

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Relativity


E=MC2
-Albert Einstein

Run-D.M.C, Run!
-Tim Id

Einstein's Theory of Relativity has nothing to do with how or why people are related to you. It has something to do with energy, mass and the speed of light in a vacuum. So it's not the kind of relativity I'm talking about here. But this post is not about relatives, either. This post is about my own theory of relativity.

Okay, my theory is that you are only as obnoxious as people perceive you in relation to how obnoxious you perceive other people or O=O2xOCUOP. It's kind of a Karma thing.

Case and point, we were at a barbecue yesterday. It was primarily younger co-workers and some of the barbecue host's neighbors. On an obnoxious scale of 1 to 10, 1 being catotonic and 10 being a major asshole, I was probably a 5 or 6. I was more or less just being a relatively controlled version of myself -- witty with a dash or two of jerk (there is a fine line between the two).

I will be the first person to admit that I am pretty hypercritical when it comes to judging human behavior in social situations. I react negatively to loud, inane chatter, mindless small talk or idle gossip (unless it is juicy). I react positively to witty banter, stimulating discussions and good natured teasing. But at times it is difficult to be totally objective about what should require a positive or negative reaction. Because it is all relative.

Okay, here is where my theory gets complicated. I'll be chatting away at a party, feeling good, slipping in a few sharp barbs here and there, but in a pleasantly obtuse way. And then I experience an out of body experience and temporarily begin seeing myself the way others see me or the way I would see me if I was observing me. Then it is like my obnoxious meter goes off the scale and I think everyone in the room is whispering about this horse's ass who just zapped his wife with the battery powered mosquito zapper wand (it was an accident) and I know beyond a doubt that I am the horse's ass.

I know it just sounds like guilt induced paranoia inspired by my own inability to keep my mouth shut, but I honestly feel as though I am being pretty darned entertaining until this feeling comes over me. And then I am mortified that I am being perceived the way I perceived middle aged guys at parties when I was younger and that Karma is now screaming, "Nyuk, nyuk, nyuk" and poking me in the eye in front of all of these people.

For the record, I have never worn a lamp shade on my head, started a conga line or suggested everyone shotgun their beers. I have suggested that I feel like changing into my Speedo and black socks and go wading in the kiddie pool at 11 p.m. This has nothing to do with alcohol consumption. The stuff just comes out of my mouth sometimes before it registers with me whether I would consider that an obnoxious thing coming out of someone else's mouth.

I suppose the solution is to simply not accept invitations to parties. I'm never overly comfortable at them anyway. Perhaps this is why I say stupid things. Or maybe it is just something that happens to you when you hit middle age. Maybe things will be better when I'm simply old aged. Then people will just think I'm senile.

It's all just my theory anyway.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Divine Comedy



When I had journeyed half of our life's way,
I found myself within a shadowed forest,
for I had lost the path that does not stray.
--Dante, The Comedy


I've read Dante. He wasn't very funny. But he wrote in Italian so something may have been lost in translation. Translations are like that. Idioms for example, fall very flat in some languages.

Oh, I know that Dante's Divine Comedy wasn't supposed to be funny. It was called a comedy because, at the time, that referred to literature written about common subjects in the venacular as opposed to more serious subjects (tragedies) written in Latin.

Not that most of you care. But you would if you picked up a copy of the Divine Comedy and expected Dave Barry. Most of it is just allegorical poetry about heaven, purgatory and HELL written in three sections that are each 33 cantos long. Dante liked the number 3. His HELL had 9 circles (3 x 3=9).

There are no apples in Dante's hell. In fact, the Bible doesn't really call out the apple as the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The apple was a symbol of desire in Greek mythology. So the serpent didn't tempt Eve with an apple. It's all BS!

Now that is comedy!

Friday, August 04, 2006

Walk this way



Walk this way.
--Igor, Young Frankenstein

walk this way, talk this way
walk this way, walk this way
walk this way, walk this way
walk this way, talk this way
just gimme a kiss
like this!
--Aerosmith
Igor's line, "Walk this way" from the Mel Brook's movie, Young Frankenstein was the inspiration for Aerosmith's 1975 hit Walk This Way. The song was rerecorded in 1986 by Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C. and appeared on their album Raising Hell. And hell seems to be my unintentional theme this week (because everyone knows that the road to hell is paved with good intentions).

This all pretty much fits in my theory that everything is connected in some way to something else. It's kind of like that stupid Kevin Bacon game that was popular a few years back where you tried to name a person or movie and somehow tie it in to Kevin Bacon. I think the game was more popular than Kevin Bacon ever was.

Incidently, the lyrics to Aerosmith's Walk This Way are pretty darned dirty. But you can't really tell that by listening to the song because the words are unintelligible until Steven Tyler screams, "Walk this Way." But trust me it is a nasty song.

But I digress.

I thought about Walk this Way when I was thinking about the stairs in my dream that Mickey claims lead to hell. But I was thinking about Igor saying, "Walk this way," and walking away oddly with Dr. Frankenstein imitating him. It is an ancient joke. Anyway, I was thinking about the stairs because once again Mickey has suggested that I am stuck at the top of the stairs and should proceed. I think when Mickey is not being JC he could also be slithering around trying to get people to eat apples.

It has been one hell of a week and I for one am glad it is almost over.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Strange Stairs


Mickey suggested my dream of walking down an ancient, worn staircase the other night was a descent into hell. Since on occasion, Mickey is JC Superstar and goes walkabout with dingos and such, I take his dream interpretation pretty seriously.

This is not to say that I want to take Mickey's advice and go to hell. As Sartre said, I think Hell is really other people. I also think Hell is a relative term, so I suppose if I followed the stairway in my dream I'd probably end up at a family reunion.

Fortunately the stairs haven't reappeared in my dreams. And if they do, I am pretty sure that, although they may lead to the underworld, they were modelled after some of the scary basement stairs I've seen in my life and stored in my middle aged brain (starting with the scary ass stairs in my grandmother's house that led to her scary ass basement).

But thinking about a Stairway to Hell instead of a Stairway to Heaven raises a few questions: if Hell is underground, shouldn't it be cold and Heaven hot since hot air rises? And isn't it easier to walk downstairs than upstairs?

Perhaps this is why I have nightmares.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Nightmares


I tell you I can have some freaky ass dreams at times. It's as if Stephen King is tapping out one of his nastier plot lines in my head. I mean, we are talking endless streams of zombies and killer gargoyles that I am dowsing with gasoline from a flying boat. And amidst all of this, I am trying to find my cat.

Maybe it is because Tess is taking one of our cats to the vet today to get her teeth cleaned. It freaks me out because they have to put cats out to clean their teeth. Not that I blame them. Since cats have anger issues at the difficulty in communicating with people, they tend to act out.

But still, my dreams were pretty wild. I wish I could write them down, but they are in such great detail that it is hard to capture them all. Besides I am kept pretty much occupied killing the undead to stop and take notes.

Though I did have this great imagery of walking down this ancient stairway. I remember thinking how symbolic it was that I was walking on the sides of the steps because they were less worn than the center of the steps. Even in my dreams I was travelling the path less traveled.

I really am not trying to read anything into my nightmares. I am too old to believe in anything but self-fulfilling prophecies, especially when it comes to dreams. Though the zombies I am fighting in my sleep could be some projects I have at work that never seem to die.

And Tess has e-mailed me that Bailey, our cat, has recovered from her teeth cleaning and is waking up as I write. They didn't have to pull any of her teeth (which is a relief to both Bailey and I). Barring any complications, she should be home tonight and, although I may still be attempting to kill zombies in my sleep, I hopefully won't have to worry about my cat at the same time.

So maybe I will have time to jot down some notes during my dreams tonight.