Friday, March 31, 2006

Out Damned Spot

And no, this is not a real dry cleaner. I'm suprised there isn't one with this name. Or at least I'm suprised that I Googled it and couldn't find one. But there should be.

This is, of course, is another visual pun. To get it, you must have a rudimentary knowledge of the most common lines from Shakespeare's Macbeth.

I know it is wrong, but I often think in puns. Someone says something and my mind immediately starts racing to think of a pun for it. Or I think of a double entendre (which is just a puffed up way of describing something that has another meaning that is dirty [i.e. A woman walked into a bar and asked for a double entendre and the bartender gave it to her]). A double entendre is often based on innuendo (which is another puffed up way of implying something dirty without coming right out and saying it). The latter word skills are useful in the politically charged world in which we live and work.

I'm not sure why I think in puns, double entendres and innuendo. I have also been know to mess with people over literal interpretations of phrases that aren't intended to be taken literally. For example I remember being asked to pass the butter to my father as a child and chucking it across the table onto his plate. I only did that once. I also would torment him when he would ask me what was on the television and I would reply, "a lamp and lots of dust." I was an annoying child.

My fascination with word play very likely led to my desire to be a writer. In college, I was one heck of a headline writer for the school newspaper. For the uninitiated, headline writers are the punsters of the journalism world. I remember writing a headline for a review of the movie Cat People that read: CAT PEOPLE DESTINED FOR THE LITTER BOX. I thought that was hilarious at the time.

Unfortunately puns are considered the lowest form of humor. Thus my writing career has remained dramatically unstellar. But blogging has channelled my base punning skills in a new direction. With the new ability to merge words and images at the click of a mouse I have been able to add this new dimension to word play that annoys more than one sense at a time.

So I think a new word for visual puns should be created. Perhaps they should be called PUN-TOS or PUNTOGRAPHS. I could be the father of a whole new field called PUNTOGRAPHY. I could rule the known universe.

Nawwww....sounds like too much work.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Snake eyes

Snake eyes (slang) "Because this is the lowest possible roll, and will often be a loser in many dice games, the term has been employed in a more general usage as a reference to bad luck."
I'm not sure I really believe in good or bad luck. But I do believe in the routines or rituals of everyday life we create just on the off chance that luck exists. I admit it. I am a creature of habit and I get a little sideways when my routines are disrupted. Today is one of those days.

Every morning, Tess' alarm goes off at 5:40 a.m. She gets up and gets in the shower. At 5:50 a.m. I get up, turn on the television to listen to the news and stumble to the shower to change places with Tess. I shower while she gets ready for work. When I get out of the shower to get ready, she is heading downstairs to make coffee. It is our ritual.

For some reason this week, Tess has been edging her wake up time a few minutes later. Yesterday she was almost 10 minutes later than normal and everything in the routine was shifted. I felt out of sorts most of the day (which would explain the Melancholy Dane post).

So this morning I popped awake at 5:40 a.m. and went and showered first. Tess came stumbling in at 5;50 a.m. disoriented completely by the change in routine. We spent the entire morning tripping over each other, trying to get ready.

Everything began to ripple out from there. I drove to the train station in a daze and other people were in the spot where I wait for the train. The train even stopped slightly ahead of the spot it normally stops. Sitting on the train, I became even more aggitated when I saw people acting differently than they normally do. On an average day, I watch the same security guard walk through the train car at the same time and stop to open up the restroom door and check it for some reason (apparently train terrorists enter through the lavatory). Today a different security guard walked through at a different time and didn't check the restroom. I began twitching.

The entire commute was that way. The train slowed down at the wrong places, it made odd screeching sounds I'd never heard before and the scenery didn't seem right. Plus the sun is shining in Seattle. What is that all about?

I firmly believe that by showering before my wife this morning I created a tear in the time space continuum and have launched myself into a parallel, bizarro universe.

By now, you have probably begun to wonder if this boy is eating with only one chopstick (I made that one up myself...pretty neat, huh?). But I'm only trying to illustrate that it is our routines that ground us. Changing up things makes us perceive things differently and can be disorienting. I believe this is why sports figures often have rituals they follow religiously before and during every game (and I'm excluding steroids here).

I think this starts in childhood (the rituals, not steroids). Tess is a grade school teacher and trust me, she is a firm believer in structure. Nothing causes chaos in a classroom like a change in routine. And I can remember having lots of little routines as a child that I was convinced made good or bad things happen (like stepping on cracks or not walking on your shadow).

But I'm also convinced that sometimes you have to break out of that rut (which is why I showered first this morning but probably won't ever again). I think the different perceptions you get by mixing things up a bit is also what stimulates creative thinking.

Which leads me to a minor digression:

I read a comment the other day someone had written on another blog in reference to my entries about Thornewood Castle. They declared they had been there and never seen a ghost. They followed that with a statement that essentially said, "There are some pretty scary blogs out there." SCARY? Me? Scary, as in 'he should work for the post office' scary?

Now personally, I find blogs with cute little Hallmark quotes and photos of kittens (not attacking things) as scary. So this could be the gist of the problem. At least I'm publishing original material and not just publishing crap somebody sent me in an e-mail or a diary documenting the challenges of learning how to play the banjo.

So cut me some slack. SCARY? Okay, maybe a little, but in a cute, offbeat kind of way, don't you think? End of digression. That's just been bugging me.

Bottomline is, I think it is okay to wander off the path now and then, but after stumbling through the bushes, it is always comfortable to find a paved road again.

It's just a thought. A scary one to some, but just a thought, nevertheless.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Melancholy Dane


Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio: a fellow
of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy: he hath
borne me on his back a thousand times; and now, how
abhorred in my imagination it is! my gorge rims at
it. Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know
not how oft. Where be your gibes now? your
gambols? your songs? your flashes of merriment,
that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one
now, to mock your own grinning? quite chap-fallen?
Now get you to my lady's chamber, and tell her, let
her paint an inch thick, to this favour she must
come; make her laugh at that.
--William Shakespeare

I had to memorize this soliloquy from Hamlet when I was in high school. It was an Advanced Humanities class and we were studying the play. And for some reason the teacher had us pick sections and commit them to memory, punctuation and all. To this day I can still remember standing in front of the class and reciting, "Alas (comma) poor Yorick (exclaimation mark) I knew him (comma) Horatio (colon).

There are lots of interesting things about this soliloquy besides the punctuation. For one, most people misquote it as, "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him well." More importantly, it is a reflection on death.

Hamlet is mucking about in his family cemetary while some grave diggers accidently dig up the bones of Yorick, the court jester, while they are digging another grave. Hamlet picks up the skull and begins meditating on the fate of all of us. If you are familiar with Hamlet, he spends most of the play agonizing about one thing or the other and can't make a decision for the life of him. Eventually he ends up getting everybody in the played killed, including himself. So the play is kind of a downer from that standpoint.

And my point? The older I get, the more I think about death. And I'm not talking in a morbid kind of way. I'm talking in a matter of fact, we are all going to eventually die kind of way. Oddly enough, thinking about it that way gives me comfort. For me, it helps me live. It's an absolute, so why should I waste energy standing on a rock shouting about the unfairness of it all.

I'm pretty much convinced that the only reason organized religion exists is to try and hedge on the inevitability of death. Religion is that safety net that you hope will help you bounce back after you die and land in a better place. Obviously I don't buy the heaven-hell scenario. I've been a bureaucrat too long to believe that anyone, even a god, could keep track of the paperwork that would determine who goes where after we die.

I do believe something lives on after we die. I think the psychologists call it the collective conscious or unconscious. Basically we are born with certain knowledge that is shared by all. Logic just dictates that humans would never have evolved if each person starts from scratch when they are born and none of their knowledge or experience lives on after they die.

In a sense, blogging seems to be an organized way to tap into and put things back into the collective conscious. This would explain why millions of people seem to arrive at the same topics to blog on, including, I'm sure, this one.

Anyway, this all started because I thought it would be funny to put a Great Dane's head on Hamlet. After all, it is the Year of the Dog and Hamlet was known as the Melancholy Dane. That makes this a visual pun for those of you keeping track of such things. Plus it is unofficially animal week at Dizgraceland.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I don't think I'd like to be a penguin

I like penguins. So don't flame me because I say I don't want to be one. It's just that I saw the film, March of the Penguins and frankly, their lives sort of suck.

I mean, what do you have to look forward to if you are an Emperor Penguin? You spend the first few months of your life with your father sitting on top of you. You eat regurgitated fish several times a day. As you soon as you are old enough to waddle, you take a forced hike to the ocean in subzero weather. You basically are on your own swimming and fishing for a couple of years and boom, you trudge 100 miles through the snow back to the barren tundra where you were born.

When you get there, you take part in a penguin version of speed dating with a thousand other penguins who look exactly like you. You mate, the female lays an egg, shoves it at you and then she runs off to a Penguin Club Med while you freeze your tail off sitting there on the ice waiting for the thing to hatch. When the egg hatches you then have to regurgitate what's left in your belly into the baby's mouth until the female returns. If you are lucky enough not to die in the process, you get to turn around and do it all over again in a few months.

So I repeat, I really don't think I'd like to be a penguin, especially a male penguin.

But they are kind of cute.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Ode to a Leaf Blower that Sucks

MY driveway is covered with seed pods and muck,
My senses, are bound in a mindless funk,
Good thing I have a leaf blower that will suck,
And an extra long extension cord or I'd be sunk:

’Tis all because of my neighbor's tree,
And it's constant dropping of this organic mess,—
That thou, light-winged leaf blower will suck right up,
In some mad and endless cleaning spree
Of sucking and raking, such mindlessness,
And with all of the noise, my neighbors will wonder whazzup.

O, with suction great you sweep the ground,
A flurry of seed pods fly in with some dirt,
All the while making a terrible sound,
Filling the bag, so I must be alert!
O if that tree next door would stop dumping this crap,
I would love to cut it down with a saw or an axe,
Then I'd be inside relaxing not out in the yard,
Sucking up seed pods like some big, dumb sap;
Whoops I sucked up a rock, I shouldn't be so lax,
Oh well, at least it's some exercise, I could get rid of some lard:

Ah, the seed pods are gone, I can stop pitching a fit,
For I have what men with simple leaf blowers never have known,
A leaf blower that sucks really helps quite a bit,
And all I have to do is empty a bag with a groan;
But the wind keeps blowing, so who really cares,
And the seed pods will keep coming until that tree finally dies;
Although I am done for now, I'm still full of sorrow
It's an endless task that feeds my despairs,
When I look here in the morning, I won't believe my eyes,
Because I know the damned seed pods will all be back to-morrow.

Want to see something really scary?

Did you ever have a frightening dream that was so elaborate, bizarre and scripted tighter than a Hollywood horror flick and then wake up and ask yourself, "Where the hell did that come from?"
Obviously, I have. And I will be the first one to admit that I watch too much television and Netflicks. But it is not like my dreams seem to incorporate any of the fiction I watch on television (though I did have one particularly bizarre dream about Dog the Bounty Hunter that I don't want to talk about).

I have never really been frightened of traditional, Hollywood monsters. I respect Boris Karloff and Bela Lagose (Frankenstein's monster and Dracula) but I have seen scarier people on the bus on a daily basis.

What really frightens me are the things you can't see. The creatures in the dark that jump out at you. It was those things in a dark closet or under the bed that terrified me the most as a kid. So to me, the most frightening dreams I have are of hiding, knowing something is looking for me and I never know when it is going to jump out at me.

So where does this fear come from? Now I went through enough therapy to know that the Freudians amongst us would claim there is very likely something in my subconscious that is the real boogeyman waiting to jump out and yell, "Boo." And I've watched enough of Penn and Teller's Bullshit (their program name, not my opinion of them) to acknowledge that it could just be a chemical reaction in my brain to the Brussel sprouts I had for dinner.

If the truth were told, I'm more apt to believe that my nightmares come not from being frightened by a stuffed bunny as a child or from undigested vegetables. And I don't think they are spawned by the late night creature feature either. I think the real culpret is....

....the evening news.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A few cards shy of a full deck...

There is an art to insulting stupid people. You can't just can't just say to them, "Hey, you're stupid." That's about as original as those roadside diners that use catchy slogans like, "FOOD AND GAS AHEAD."

No, when you encounter a stupid person you have to look them in the eye, shake your head and say in a slow and deliberate voice some choice description about how stupid they are such as, "Boy. You are a few clowns short of a circus, aren't you?" Then you turn and walk away while they try and figure out what you just said.

There is just something pleasantly pleasing about a well-crafted idiom about an idiot. Food comparisons work well:
That boy is a few fries short of a Happy Meal.
Sir, you are a few noodles shy of having chow mein.
I'd say you were a few peas short of a casserole.
I'm sorry, but you are a few beers short of a six-pack.
Son, you are all foam and no beer.
He is a few croutons short of a chef's salad.
Hey, I think your cheese has slid off the cracker.
You don't seem to have all of your corn flakes in the box.
And related to eating we have:
I'm afraid you are about one plate short of a tea set.
That idjit doesn't have all the chairs at the table, if you know what I mean.

Structural analogies work well, too:
I would say he has a leak in the skylight.
I can see that there's a light on but I don't think anyone's home.
That boy's driveway doesn't quite reach the road.
I'd say there is a vacancy sign on his penthouse.
I think his chimney is clogged.
And transportation themes:
I don't think you would know if you were on foot or horseback.
You sir are not pulling a full wagon.
I can see that the gates are down and the lights are flashing, but there is no train coming.
Boy, your boat is floating, but someone stole your sails.
Let's not forget animals:
Son, I can see that the wheel is spinning but I believe your hamster is dead.
You are a few sheep short of a flock.
That boy doesn't have all of his dogs on one leash.
He is a few feathers short of a whole duck.

Technology and science lends itself well to putting down twits as well:
I don't think your satellite dish is picking up all the channels.
Son, I believe you are missing a few buttons on your remote control.
You are as useless as a Windows OS on a Mac.
Boy I think somebody slipped some metal in your microwave.
Hey, you should have held off donating your brain to science until you were done with it.
I think someone forgot to pay your brain bill.
His cell phone is a few bars short of a clear signal.
It baffles me that you beat 100,000 other sperm to the egg.
You may not be the brightest bulb on the tree, but you do blink once in awhile.
As does sports:
I think there is too much yardage between that boy's goal posts.
Son, you are playing soccer without a ball.
He is a few shots over par.
Boy, you are surfing in Nebraska.
In the pinball game of life, your flippers are a little farther apart than most.
That kid was left in the Tilt-a-Whirl too long.
He hasn't seen the ball since kickoff.
Sometimes it is just fun to point out lack of intellectual ability:
If I had to give you a penny for your thoughts, I'd get change.
Boy, you couldn't pour water out of a boot with instructions on the heel.
When your I.Q. hits 50, sell.
I'd say you don't know whether to scratch your watch or wind your butt.
He couldn't hit the floor if he fell on it.
Son, if your I.Q. was any lower we'd have to water you.
If you had another brain, it would be lonely.
Well, I can see that some village is mourning the loss of its idiot.
And finally, just basic comparisons to everyday things:
That boy's a few threads short of a sweater.
I think he is knitting with only one needle.
He's a few colors short of a rainbow.
His belt doesn't go through all of the loops.
Son, you are a few bristles short of a broom...

...and you are as sharp as a river rock.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Reinventing Tim

"I'm tired of being Elvis Presley."
--Elvis Presley

"I'm tired of being Tim-Elvis."
We are who we think we are. That was the premise of an article I was reading about memory the other day on Psychology Today's Web site. In it, the author suggested that our conscious and subconscious minds reinvent our past and in the process, our futures. It's a memory thing. We sometimes remember things the way we want to. That in turn reshapes who we are or want to be.

I don't think it is a bad thing. It helps us rewrite that screenplay of our lives in hopes we'll have a happy ending.

I think the Web is the ultimate illustration of how easy it is to reinvent ourselves, at least in the virtual world. I read all the time about people in chat rooms and on dating sites presenting themselves as completely different people (including fake photos). Of course, this is not really the type of reinventing one's self I had in mind. That is just lying. If you really are trying to connect with someone, presenting yourself as single, HWP and well adjusted when you are married, obese and majorly messed up, is basically just wrong. But it happens all the time.

It's the blog world that really allows us to reinvent ourselves. I get a kick out of the names people pick for their blogger identies. Some use nicknames. Some pick names that represent a fantasy. And some just use their own names or hyphenated versions thereof. Because in the blog world, the user name becomes who we are.

Which brings me to Tim-Elvis. It started as a joke more than 10 years ago. It was the mask I put on when I ventured out onto the Information Highway and stuck out my thumb. And it was fun being Tim-Elvis. But I am kind of tired of being Tim-Elvis. So I've dug out my tools and have begun to tinker with reinventing myself as myself (or myselves).

This is not to say that I will now only refer to myself as Sir Tim Edwin the Fair and Flatulent (which is catchy, but kind of a mouthful). I'm just going to start embracing my inner multiple personalities and break away from Tim-Elvis as my sole Web personna. Because being Tim-Elvis is very limited. For that reason you will very likely see my blogger profile shift randomly according to my varied whims. What won't change is the name of my blog. Dizgraceland will always be my home.

Now this is also not to say I'm changing the types of things I post on my blog (including Photoshop enhanced images which I create because I like to). And this is not a whiny gimmick to try and get more Web traffic or solicit more comments. I, Tim, just feel like I need to let go of Tim-Elvis (odd as that sounds). I'm not even sure why I feel compelled to explain something as ridiculous at this other than the fact that not everyone accepts even the slightest change in our sometimes dysfunctional little virtual community.

So ladies and gentlemen, Tim-Elvis has left the Blog and the King is more or less dead.

And long live Tim Edwin (at least for now).

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

The Thornewood Fairies Project: Earth Angel


8:09 a.m.

Thank god it's morning. I was awake all night listening to running water coming from somewhere outside and I had this tremendous urge to get up and go. But there was no way I was going to get up in this haunted castle and relieve myself in the dark with some ghost watching.

That sound…I must go to bathroom.

8:10 a.m.
Wow, ...that's weird, I don't remember this urinal being here, whatever...Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….(sound of water)

8:11 a.m.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh….(sound of water)

8:12 a.m.
That's better...whoops...hey, wait a minute. This isn't a urinal. It's a sink. Oh well. A drain is a drain.

8:17 a.m.
While Tess is still sleeping. I'm going to go out and check out the garden. I’m heading down the hallway now.

8:18 a.m.
Oh god, another orb and some stupid arrows pointing at them. How yesterday…yawn.

8:19 a.m.
Okay, I'm opening the door and going outside. Cool, I love these big knockers.

8:20 a.m.

Damned fountain. Now I have to go to the bathroom again. one is around. A fountain is essentially an outdoor urinal isn't it? What the heck... Ahhhhhhhhh......

8:21 a.m.
Whoops, the lions are watching. Hey, lion, hey...don't cause an upROAR…you look stoned, anyway! Ha, ha, ha…

8:22 a.m.
I’m approaching the secret garden now. The legend tells us that this garden was built on the site of an ancient fairy mound. Fairy mounds are places where fairies live. Considering the satin pillows we found stacked on the love seat in our room last night, I think a few of the fairies live in the house, too…I crack me up.

8:23 a.m.
Oh my god…what is that? Is it a fairy?’s just a statue. I believe it is a statue of a fairy archer, though. I’ll take a picture of it. Hey dude, you look stoned, too! Smile so I can take your picture! Ha, ha, ha, ha....

8:25 a.m.

Hey, check out the chick standing in the cement pond. She’s holding a Grecian urn. Hey momma, whazzzup? What’s a Grecian Urn around here? Minimum Wage? Ha, ha, ha, …somebody stop me.

8:27 a.m.

Gross, that cherub is picking his nose. Hey dude…what are you doing? Digging for clams? What’s with the plastic owl strapped to you? Ahh, you don’t give a hoot, do you? Ha, ha, ha, ha….

8:29 a.m.

Whoa…check out the angel. Hey, Sweet Thang, it must have hurt…you know when you fell to earth from heaven.

8:30 a.m.

Hey, don't turn your back on me, baby. I'm winging it here, but you must be an angel. And is it hot out here or is it just you?

8:32 a.m.

Wait a minute…what gives? Are those fairy lights?

8:33 a.m.

Holy mother of god, what is happening here…

8:34 a.m.

Help……what are you doing…no, no...argghhh....