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Friday, April 29, 2011

April Means Never Having To Make A Cogent Point

April 29, 2011: I thought it would be chipper of me to wrap up April with one last Blah-ugh! entry. And while I could wait until tomorrow, I know many of you are chomping at the bit to learn the latest intellectual developments in the mind of the man New Yorker magazine once called "that guy who sends those trite queries."

Yes, in fact, many things are on my mind today, starting with the pork loin I'm burning atop my stove as we speak ... So hold on a minute ... (FYI, it's progressing nicely, thanks largely to the thick slabs of butter I have augmenting the process. For a time I always simmered my pork loins in chicken broth until they became pullable, {if you'll excuse the grotesque imagery}, but today I wanted something different, despite the fact that it's just going to end up shredded over nachos for the next four or five nights.)

I'd be remiss in my reportage if I failed to make fun of the new Prince, or King, or whatever he is. To be perfectly honest, I'm so regularly out of touch with the "news" -- and smarter because of it, mind you -- this whole royal wedding came upon me quite unexpectedly. I did, however, take the trouble to watch the key three minutes of video on the Internet (owing to my being cabley impotent, as you know), and while I couldn't understand the bride -- I'm not sure what her name is -- because she spoke so softly, I did get the chance to observe how unattractive the groom is. Let's be honest, were William -- and I'm pretty sure his name is William, or it might be Edward, but I think it's William -- were he just an ordinary mortal, he'd never have a chance with a woman of her pretty stature. (Although who knows what she looks like out of her clothes; there could be all sorts of nasty surprises going on.) I only hope -- again, as I don't follow the media, I don't know what's been reported -- that people have been sure to point out the imbalance in the union, owing to their respective looks. He actually looks like a young John Elway, and that's not a compliment. It's funny how unattractive pure WASP features become -- little circular mouths that never seem to close all the way, overweight faces and over-dimpled chins. Thank god he has that great British accent, otherwise all he'd have going for him is his money, fame and unlimited power.

Speaking of royal, I'm rereading "Casino Royale" for the sixth or seventh time. There's nothing like a Bond book for a welcome breath of mysogenistic (sp?) anti-Soviet spellbinding. This was the first book, as you know, I think 1951, and Ian Fleming is in top form, despite monotonously excessive over-description of Vesper's evening wear.

And speaking of evening wear, I'm distraught to find myself lying here in shorts at 6:30, because this means the hot weather has arrived. I hate hot weather, except sometimes, and even then I pretend I don't like it so people feel sorry for me.

One final thought: why do the pork loins always smell so awful after they're cooked (and before, too, but that's a question I can answer)?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Music & Me

April 18, 2011: Well, another week has gone by and I'm still not famous. Part of me wants to publicly blame you for this, and yet what good would that do, (so I'll just keep blaming you privately). I had to eat another agent rejection this morning -- a dirty little cad whose name I'll spare you, even though it's a silly name -- and now I'm bitter ... more bitter than usual, if you can imagine such a thing ...

But that's not why I logged you in today, or on. In fact, I had more blissful topics to explore, beginning with music. This weekend I was pleasantly reintroduced to an old personal "best of" CD compilation I'd made back yonder. I hadn't heard a lot of these exquisite songs in quite sometime, and I was wholly drawn in to each as they spun (with only a modicum of skipping) so blithely upon (or within) my auto's CD spinning machine. And as each song played, I decided it was absolutely the best song ever recorded, bar none, if I had to name one, and for those three minutes I probably would have bet my life (or certainly your life) on the possibility that said song was a bona fide miracle of creation (or evolution, depending on which side you're on).

For starters, if you don't know the Creedence Clearwater Revival song "Lodi," I feel sorry for you, because it's got to be the most heart-wrenching, pathos-drawing, and yet rhythmically intoxicating tune ever created. I remember my friend Kristine Newman once commenting, "It just says it all," and it does! Great kudos to my friend John Fogerty, who set a standard for music and plaid shirts.

But then came the Allman Brothers' "Midnight Rider," which is beyond words. When the bridge (and bass) fall into that simple, almost two-note guitar solo, it's a heart-stopping moment for me -- rainy windshield on a Georgia highway, sucked along by that lordly voice of Gregg (or as his friends call him, Greg). And those harmonies ... Egad! as Matt would say (and he's from Georgia!).

And also from Georgia comes R.E.M., and while they have so many good songs (at least up until their drummer Bill Berry, with his enormous single eyebrow, left the band), "Sitting Still" just has to be (at least for me) the quintessential early '80s melancholy underground dance hall jangling Rickenbacker tune of it all. (On a personal note, I don't think Matt can understand this one, as he tried to run Bill Berry over with his car ... or maybe Berry tried to run him over; I always get confused about the story.)

You've heard me speak of Lulu's "Dreary Days & Nights," of course -- just breathtaking -- but a similar period piece (which I know Matt loves) is Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play." What an amazing arrangement, and scintillating use of effects ... It's really a song that takes creation to the next level. I love later Pink Floyd, of course, but this early piece has to be about their best to me.

And in that vain (or vein -- I'm not sure which), The Doors did something similar with several pieces, and one great (and lesser known) example is "Unhappy Girl" -- great lyrics (and I've never been an over-the-top Jim Morrisson fan, in part because I think most poetry is just silly), a fetching liquid tune, and again, special effects that just work brilliantly. Of course, there aren't many bad Doors songs.

Finally -- and believe me, I could go on and on ... I haven't even touched on the Beatles or Beach Boys, but each deserve their own entry at least -- but finally, what has to be (for me ... yes, remember this is all about ME!) the quintessential song of the 60s -- Jefferson Airplane's "D.C.B.A. - 25," which appears almost invisibily on the second side of the classic "Surrealistic Pillow" album. That song just sounds like Golden Gate Park on a late afternoon in summer -- a subtle echo, and heavy hit of sparkling noise. The Airplane was never a tight band, not a slick band, like the Beatles or Byrds, but a kind of sloppy dissonant chord. Yet Paul Kantner and company work wonders on this song, the throwaway title of which is merely the four chords they use, with the LSD joke tagged on. (God, listen to me making liner notes!) It also includes two of my favorite lines of any song -- "Too many days I've left unstoned" ... and perhaps my favorite, "I can but dance behind your smile." Wow! Now that's poetry!

Well, many more songs could I praise, but time is short and I have to get my pants on. Most importantly, it made me forget ... y'know ... and while I'll have to go back and reread this for typos, I'll look forward to getting out to my car again and escaping into auditory oblivion ...

Monday, April 11, 2011

Once Upon a Walk

April 11, 2011: Greetings! I'm glad you could join me again. I have so many things planned to share with you ... and yet I'll probably fail to get to most of them, so adjust your expectations accordingly.

To begin, I enjoyed a marvelous walk last afternoon -- and in fact covered 6.75 miles, which I hope impresses those of you who see me only as a brilliant intellect, and not the strapping physical specimen others of you know me to be. (You know who you are! Don't pretend!) The details I'll spare you, as they mostly involve trees and no one wants to hear about them unless they fall over. However, early on, I had an interesting (well, not really) experience at the bank machine that got me to thinking, as bank machine experiences are wont to do.

You see, as I set out from town, I needed to make a stop to deposit a check I was carrying for $4.96. (I get a lot of these little checks, actually, though most of them aren't for amounts even that large -- usually under a dollar. If you want to know the details, please write me and I'll tell you more, but I'd rather not have to right now, as I'm very busy.)

Anyway, as I walked up to the door, a guy came out and declared, "If you're gonna make a deposit, don't, 'cause it just ate my money." He was distraught, and briefly detailed that he'd just called his wife (although I'm still not clear why), and they were leaving on vacation to Florida in the morning and he'd needed to put the $600 in the account, but the machine (as machines will do, left to their own devices) had simply eaten the money and then denied any involvement, and he was bumming.

I offered my sympathies and suggested it would all work out, as they'd have to see there was an unaccounted $600 in the coiffers the next morning (hopefully, unless the machine had somehow funneled it to the Contras or the Tea Party representatives or something). He was amenable to the thought, and almost good-humoredly declared it a mere annoyance after all. He somehow alluded to his wife again, which was starting to get on my nerves. Then, at the same time, interestingly, we both said that he should best simply "breathe" and it would all work out swimmingly.

The point of this whole story, which really unfolded after I walked away (certainly not willing to chance losing my $4.96 check) is one of Racial Awareness (or R.A., as I've coined it merely for the purposes of this entry, and will subsequently forget coining by the time I get to the next paragraph). Regular Blah-ugh! readers will recall several insightful essays I've shared involving how, despite my far-liberal social leanings, I sometimes can't help being the product of a race-conscious upbringing (or a race-conscious something. Maybe it wasn't my upbringing. Perhaps it was my downfalling. Who really knows?)

The point is, I began to speculate on whether his being black was going to impact his chances at getting his money back. (See, I hadn't mentioned that he was black. And how many of you Whiteys out there thoughtlessly drew a picture of a white man at the ATM, and were -- even for an instant -- surprised by this disappointed customer's blackness? ... Come now. Be honest. (You racist scum! You're even worse than I am!))

Yes, I was thinking his credibility could be called into serious jeopardy by the sight of his skintone at the ATM camera. ("Hmmm," I could hear the corporation heads concurring. "He could be a liar. He is, after all, pretty black.")

This, in turn, got me to wonder whether a white man was necessarily a better risk where such an event was concerned. Certainly not an Italian (like myself, and I'm not even one of your swarthier ones!), although the Irish may not fair any better, especially the ones with red hair ... It seems an Asian might be a good bet, as they're a notoriously hard-working and honest people (although they can be very loud when you're riding on the subway) ... Better still to be Jewish (also like myself), for they're just fat with money (although I'm one of the rare exceptions) and they're reputedly honest (although very loud, in many cases).

This led me to decide that it might be a good idea to start wearing a yarmulke every time I use the ATM, just in case the machine backfires. I can keep one in my car, and while they never seem to fit me right, I don't think the quality of those cameras is that fine.

It's wonderful the range of fulfillment one discovers on a typical late-afternoon walk!

NEXT WEEK: More sophistry and perhaps less punctuation.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

More About Eyebrows -- MY Eyebrows

April 6, 2011: If you're like me -- and let's hope, in the name of God, that you're not -- you're ridiculously consumed with your appearance. That's not to say you (or I) necessarily have a good appearance, but just that you're consumed with it.

I'm not sure from where it stems -- my mother, perhaps (whom I hold responsible for everything from my undying love of Glen Campbell, to my unnatural aversion toward women who knit) ... or maybe my father, (whose parental love often expresses itself through pedantic assessments of my hair, weight, and skin quality) ... or maybe it's just growing up in affluent Westport, Connecticut, with the beautiful people (or at least some of the beautiful people, because a lot of the residents here look like Lord of the Rings characters) ...

Whatever the reason, the fact is that I am, as a rule, quite concerned with my appearance. (And you well may ask, if I care so much about how I look, then why don't I bathe more often, or wash my socks? Well, that's none of your business, and if my wife put you up to asking that, I'm going to ask you right now to withdraw your membership at this site and go back to studying Internet pornography with your pants down.) And, see, now you made me lose my place ... AGAIN!

But, ah, yes, The Point: Simply, the reason I'm bringing this up is a new, growing concern I have about my eyebrows, which have drastically changed over the last few years. You see, once upon a time I prided these soft -- dare I say caterpillar-like -- eyebrows, solely composed of supple, down-like hairs, all flowing effortlessly across their assigned spots, like the swaying wheat stalks of a Kansas afternoon, set upon by the fragrant prairie winds of Willa Cather summer. (I mean, can you tell how much I liked these eyebrows?!) But over the past several years, much to my shock and dismay, I've watched those innocent childhood hairs shed away like the failing fibers on some hostile vagrant's decaying lapel. And, instead, over the past few months especially, I've seen a sinister new crop of these awful, harsh, thick, ugly, black hairs grow in threatening strides across my very forehead, like ... I don't know what! (And I'm a writer, so imagine how hard it is for me to duck out on a potential metaphor!)

I'm not sure where this will end, but I'm very disturbed to see how these new hairs have started turning up a bit at the end, too, giving me a sort of leprechaun appearance, like Samuel Beckett or that horrendous clown in that old French movie. Needless to say, I've plucked several, despite the excruciating pain (and my philosophical disapproval, as you regular Blah-ugh! readers know, of anyone altering their eyebrows through butchery or chicanery). A few others I've even had to trim, and that was no small task, given I had to use a toenail clipper to do it.

I'm not sure where I was going with this, but I think it's important we all understand that looks are everything (as my mother often emphasized), and if you're like me, and have gotten by -- to this high station in life -- by your remarkable looks alone, it's only imaginable to see what a disillusioning disappointment it can be to suddenly find your fine features, face and finery put into such precarious jeopardy through the insidious vine-like growth of some very unstable eyebrow hairs ...

And I never thought it could happen to me ... And it did! Be warned!!

Friday, April 1, 2011

Seasons of Der Alchemist

April 1, 2011: Guten tag! Vie geht es einen? ... No. No, there's nothing wrong with your computer. I'm merely welcoming you to my ephemeral (meaning Cybernetting) Blah-ugh! world in my native German (or Deutsch, as it was once known, until someone finally realized how close that was to the word "douche").

It's been a challenging day for me -- and yet isn't it always, with my myriad responsibilities, the absence of any real respect or authentic admiration, and this terrible itch I have on the bottom of my foot. (I think it means that guests are coming, but I'll still refuse to put my shoes on!)

Inspired by the cool, rainy weather, I've taken the liberty of constructing a fire (and my family was pleased to see that I did it in the fireplace this time). Fire is a fascinating thing -- much more vibrant than water, and not as showy or consumed with itself. (Water just thinks it's such a much!) I like fires in the winter, and even though it's spring, the fireplace doesn't know that, and so continues to burn without argument.

You might be interested to hear about a recent discovery of mine, which I guess is alchemy related (although it might merely be based on foolishness, which is a more modern version of alchemy, if you think about it). As I'm so enamored with fires, I came to the conclusion that they must be serving some kind of psychic purpose for me, and that spending time in front of the fire in winter months soothes my soul and heals my heart, (as well as drying out my skin).

This, in turn, led me to connect the importance of spending time in the water during summer months for quite the same reasons. Nothing centers my twisted soul in late July like a late afternoon dip in greenish-brown Long Island Sound, and while I still find it hard to actually swim more than 20 feet without taking on water, I can manage to at least paddle frantically in place for extended periods, and this basically gets the job done.

In my disturbingly inquisitive way, I then speculated on what alchemistic element the autumn demanded, and of course I now understand it's earth. Fall is the time when all good men (and even the ornery ones) must find a suitable solace in the tree-laden sanctuaries most replete with sour, smelly soil. The autumn is the time of earth, and I'm not just saying that so I can sound like Pocahontas.

And spring, it turns out, is when a young man's fancy must be put on hold in order for that individual to seek open vistas of big sky. Spring is a time of spiritual expansion -- (Oh brother, now I sound like a line from the junk mail catalogue that Whole Foods keeps sending us!) -- a time when we best find the great teachings of the sky, and learn those sky lessons, and all the sky facts, and study the sky syllabus (or the syllabi ... or the skylabi ... Can you tell how tired I am?!)

Anyway, a better understanding of basic seasonal alchemy, I feel, will help even the stupidest man (and sexiest woman) experience the joys and subtle intricacies of life in these gas-bag times in which we live. And if it doesn't do that, one can at least get in some swimming ... or have fire now and again.

That reminds me -- it's time to poke it!