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Monday, July 18, 2011

Who's Running The Store?!

July 18, 2011: I should be working, but I'm thinking of you instead ... Well, some of you. The rest of you I'm trying to block out, like the heat, which is turning my little attic roost into a steambath. And if that's not enough, there's a whopping thunderstorm sounding down upon my roof like god playing really loud records, and it's making me sure that the next lightning bolt could permanently fuse my fragile fingers to this god-awful keyboard for good ...

Something I've been meaning to mention for a long time -- and I don't think I've mentioned it, but who knows, because I don't have the stomach to go back and read these ridiculous entries -- involves organic food. It just occurred to me, (that is, about 10 months ago), that I have no way of knowing whether or not food is organic. Has that ever occurred to you, you who perhaps even care? And if so, why didn't YOU write about it instead of making ME do it?! (I'm talking to you, Liz!)

(For you regular Blah-ugh! readers -- meaning the five of you -- does this sound familiar? I hope I'm not regurgitating a past entry, because we both know I'm better than that. At the same time, don't all artists basically remake the same story or song or painting over and over again? You see my point, right? And if you don't, don't worry, because I'll just be regurgitating it soon enough anyway ...)

But my point (meaning my OTHER point) is that I (meaning ME) don't know what the hell is going on on any organic farm in Tallahassee or noble Northwest corridor (or anywhere, for that matter). Just because Stop & Shop or Trader Joe's puts some stupid label on it that says it's organic (or anything else -- not made on peanut-fueled equipment, or whatever), how the hell do I ever really know it's true?!

Of course, we all like to think that there are government agencies overseeing this sort of thing, and consumer-advocate groups, etc. Unfortunately, I've reached that cold age where I have absolutely no faith in any of this, and so I've started wondering just what we're faced with here (and not just in our apples -- I'm talking about broccoli, pears -- everything). I mean, let's be honest, do any of us really have the time to do anything but watch television in our spare hours, let alone monitor the organic standards of apple companies in Mexico, or the graft passing between wheat executives in Kearney, Nebraska, or whether or not some corn picker in Duluth is rubbing each ear on his private parts before shipping it south?

And why should I trust Trader Joe's, of all things? They just discontinued my precious rice noodles without giving me any notice, and I have a sneaking suspicion that I won't be able to find my microwavable mashed potatoes in the freezer section anymore, following my securing of the last bag this evening. (O, what a morbid post-apocalyptic short story that could make -- "The Last Mashed Potato Bag" ...)

And Stop & Shop I certainly don't trust, nor any of their "Nature's Promise" labels. And I don't trust our government, even starting locally. And I'm pretty disappointed in my police department as well these days, not to mention some of the weirdos at the dump. Hell, I'm not even sure which neighbors I can count on not to leave their dog excrement in my yard. My god, is there no going back to safer, more trustworthy times?!

Well, in the end we're so breathtakingly powerless that all we can do is eat the f***ing apples and hope we don't come down with anything that can't be cured without good insurance. I'm sure you all agree that this is a wonderful time we live in, with all its communication advances and flavors of herbal tea and different kinds of White-Out.

I'm just not sure, then, why everyone's so depressed and allergic and autistic and cancer-prone and ADHD and taking so many supplements but still on the verge of gluten death ...

Someone should write about this stuff and tell the people. Me, I'm getting back to my last-night John Carpenter DVD fest ...

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Name Game

July 12, 2011: I see now that my heartfelt Blah-ugh! entries don't generate half the interest that my scathing rants do, so I'll revert (or evolve, depending on your point of view) back to addressing only those issues and topics that I feel can generate the most angst and venom, or humor -- whichever comes first ...

That said, I've pretty thoroughly criticized everyone based on looks, their ethnicity, their stupid religions, and even the way they walk (I'm talking to you, you duck walkers!), but I don't think I've ever taken the time to really gnaw on the silliness of people's names.

Names are interesting and intriguing, and can even tell a lot about an individual based on their epistomology (I think that's the word, or it might be "wordography," but I think you get my meaning.) Everyone knows MY name translates to "one with mighty spear," which of course says all that needs to be said about me. But what about the rest of you?

I turned to my daughter's name book to explore a few definitions, consider a few inconsistencies, and generally squeeze for material with which to make fun of others, which is, after all, at the heart of what I do.

Before I go any farther, can you believe that this version (called "100,000+ Baby Names") actually condones the name "Anfernee," calling it a version of Anthony. I've long known this was a name only an illiterate could generate, and despite the popularity of its' sole recipient (of basketball fame, of course), it's always been a weird reminder to me of how an eternally guilt-festered society will let some people get away with anything. That said, WHY NOT Anfernee, for where do new names come from anyway, if not illiterates? (Who the hell thought to turn "Ann" into "Anne" after all?) Why not Infernee? or Assfurry? It's a debate I want no part of, but I just want you to consider all the facts before you jump to conclusions ... E.J.!

Thumbing through this thorough volume, I'm delighted and repelled by the quaint variety and dashingly stupid selection. "Curipan" is a Mapuche name for a boy, meaning "stinging nettle." Now who the hell would name their child Curipan, or even Pan for that matter. (Ironically, Pan doesn't even show up in this book -- probably the only name in the known universe that doesn't, because they have "Panini," believe it or not, which doesn't actually mean "sandwich"!) Further, what or where is Mapuche, and should we recognize anything that comes out of what must certainly be a devilishly weird region, and probably a dangerous one!? ...

Turning to the girls, there are a wide variety of "Sha" names, which are all American in origin, if you can believe such a thing. "Shalisa" is (and I quote) "a combination of the prefix Sha + Lisa," while "Shalita" is "a combination of the prefix Sha + Lita. If we're going to use prefixes, perhaps we can get more creative -- or more traditional. Why not use "Pre" as a prefix, for, say, "Prelisa" ... or "Prementrual." Could we not call a girl "Antibellum" or Antilita," meaning someone who is against being Lita ... or Lacklita ... or Lackluster ... (Did I mention MY name means "one with an enormous and dangerously sharp spear"?)

Other names bring strange meanings directly to life, like "Brieanne" (sorry Brianne & Brianna!) which literally combines "a type of cheese" with "gracious," or to simplify it -- "gracious cheese!" "Ottah" means "thin baby," while "Oya" means "speaking of the jacksnipe," (and we all know how often we speak of jacksnipes, especially in the privacy of our homes).

Some names make perfect sense. For instance "Akbar" means "great," and we all know what a great comic Akbar & Jeff is. "Alacrino" means "alive & outgoing," and who's ever been to a party where the center of life didn't flow from all the Alacrinos there ...

And did I mention MY name, which means "ye with enormous and crafty spear"? ...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Real Boys of Summer

July 2, 2011: I've got some pretty good Blah-ugh! ideas bouncing around my brain right now, but they've all been summarily trumped by my Beach Boys. I'm sitting here listening to their quintessential "Best of" LP -- "Endless Summer" -- and I'm more flabbergasted than ever by their genius ... Brian Wilson's genius ... (and the others, who lent their parts, as well) ... Wow!

I pity the fool who off-handedly dismisses them as churlish "surf" music. (Jimi Hendrix embarrassed himself on several occasions by doing so, including his sophomoric statement on stage at Monterey Pop.) The quality of so many of their songs, even the early ones, is really kind of startling. And if you understand anything about music, about arrangements, harmonies and such, you really come away slightly agog at what young Wilson -- deaf in one ear and self-taught on piano with no musical training -- accomplished in only the first few years of his twenties. (He not only arranged all the music and produced the albums, but he wrote almost everything and would, literally, sing or play each other Beach Boy their vocal part.)

But what makes music good? (Well, MY opinion, for one thing!) But it's also about the spirit that inhabits -- literally -- the creation, like with any piece of artwork. When the spirit is there -- when it's authentically embedded during the process of creation, and especially when it's done with a pure heart and soul -- it permeates that work and gives it (sometimes, in the best cases) immeasurable depth. And as our consciousness shifts, the work reveals hidden depths and layers. As we grow, so too will brilliant artwork taking on new meaning and magic.

How often have I outgrown one work of creation or another? (I mean, I like M.C. Hammer's "Can't Touch This," but is it art?!) But you don't outgrow the Beatles, or a brilliant movie like "It's a Wonderful Life," or an outstanding novel like "The Great Gatsby." The Beach Boys' music -- certainly a great deal of it -- is like that.

Where do I begin? You can hardly put the magic of music into words. For me the magic goes deep. In fact, from around age nine, I wanted few things as badly as to move to California and become a surfer. One of my great regrets was that I wasn't named Carl, or Troy, and that I couldn't live the life created for me in all those magical songs of summer. (For instance, why couldn't I have a school to be true to, instead of one I merely tolerated? When would I be able to shut someone down in a drag race, or have fun, fun, fun with the girl of my choice?)

Through some of those songs I formed my ideals of love, friendship, passion and more. Some of those ballads are forever twisted ivy around my heart's growing pains, accentuated by Brian's other-worldly soprano, and those mesmerizing harmonies ... and such thoughts shared -- "In My Room" ... "Don't Worry Baby" ... "The Warmth of the Sun" ... "Girl Don't Tell Me" ... "Let Him Run Wild" ...

Then one day, years later, after I'd outgrown them, I somehow stumbled on the song "Heroes & Villains," and was completely blown away -- for the first conscious time -- by what these people had accomplished musically. A close look at "Pet Sounds" eventually followed -- the historic LP on which the Beatles modeled so many ideas for "Sgt. Pepper." Hell, on the strength of "God Only Knows" alone, we could devote an entire series of Blah-ugh! episodes. Carl Wilson's lead vocal (as in "Good Vibrations") is just stupendous. And how do we ever survive the grinding, tweaking, lovely gut-wrenching pain of the round at the end, featuring the french horn ...

By the way, a reminder to anyone who might be there, I want "I Just Wasn't Made for These Times" played at my funeral, (which I hope is particularly elaborate, well-attended and gets some significant press, after all my trouble).

So, if you haven't taken the time, I insist that you get yourself a Beach Boys album or two (although the catalogue starts to thin out after the Smile era, and is sketchy for the first couple of albums) and open yourself up to a whole world of brilliant art. (I'm talking to you, E.J.! Put down that avocado and get cracking! And the rest of you, whose lovely FB comments I'm always too lazy to respond to!)

You shan't regret it!