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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Weighting for De-Grow

January 23, 2013:  Never one to fixate on weight, except in other people, I suddenly find myself struggling with this ungainly—if you’ll forgive the rather clever pun—subject. I’m reminded because it’s all I can do at this moment to not wrap my hotdogs in several buns each, all in order to satisfy the hunger that envelopes me and, simultaneously, attempts to assuage—if you’ll forgive the rather clever pun—my gaping god hole (as Wendy Mole so eloquently references it in the novel “Space Case”) …

I’m frightened to report that I’m at an all-time high with regard to my ever-increasing fatness. This is funny, because I’ve actually never looked better, at least that’s what many people keep telling me lately, although most of them are people I’ve never met before. But I know this has to do with my ongoing spiritual development, which seems to be proportionately linked to how much I’m eating. I think this is why Buddha was so fat, and Jesus, after he went out on his own, was known to just gorge himself on chickpeas and halvah. So, really, if I can let go of the societal-imposed ideals and negative messages, I’m really in a very centered place, although it’s a fat place, centered in whipped cream and doughnuts. The problem is understanding—or misunderstanding; I don’t really care which—that it’s not so much a gluttonous pursuit of sensual satisfaction that drives me, but a spiritual quest for more peace and more potatoes.

Somehow toward this subject—though I won’t be entirely sure how until I’m finished with this sentence—a friend of mine who’s apparently decaying rapidly has come to recognize that her failing eyesight, as she plummets into the unforgiving abyss of aging, is proving to be a remarkable gift. She sees—if you’ll forgive the rather clever pun—that all these awful examples of her imminent decay are meaningless and unimportant because her eyes are worse and she can’t see them as well—the decays I mean, not her eyes. This is brilliant, of course, and I identified with my own experience and discoveries. In fact, there’s a good chance I discovered it first, but she just hounded in for the credit, which is very like her. But no matter, for the soft-focus on my vision keeps me from bothering to claim victories, or even see what’s really going on—both here and abroad. And so the very physical maladies that approach me turn out to be a lovely means for physical denial. God knows I’ve lived in emotional and mental denial for so many years, isn’t it about time to have some physical denial as well? This is the same soft vision that enables me to overlook the rampant growth of hairs in my ears, mainly because I can’t see them. Of course if my vision were better, I might stand to notice them, but then if my vision were better, I wouldn’t be sprouting so many hairs in the first place.

This is sound circular thinking, of course, and explains—dare I even say justifies—the reasoning behind my new weight gain, (if you could even call it that; some would say I look great and the addition of a few fatty pounds is just my body’s way of making more room for the bountiful spiritual growth I’m enjoying) …

And now I don’t remember where I started. Let’s just say, I’d like to lose a few pounds, but I simply too good a person to do it.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

It's Not Easy Being Jew ... & Harry Potter

January 12, 2013:  You’d think it would be easier. After all, we control the media. Wouldn’t that get us something? But no, it continues to be a hapless uphill battle to work our way into the mainstream of Christian living.

I was reminded of this, once again, watching Harry Potter movies, which I love. Those kids really know how to stick it to the Dark Lord, who, despite not having a nose, manages to wield a sizable pointy hat full of self-esteem. Daniel Radcliffe proved to be a terrific actor in my book, but deserved the part simply based on his accent, and especially how he says the word “Brilliant!” On repeated viewing, the movies have only gotten better. I’ve even come to like the twins, who were to me one of the scarier elements originally, and that creepy Emma Thompson character, who looks too much like the crazy bus driver in the third movie to make me comfortable. Of course, I don’t think I’ll ever completely accept the annoying Moaning Myrtle, or Headless Nick for that matter; it did the series well to vacuum the ghosts out of Hogwarts in the later movies and replace them with furniture. But on top of everything, just to hear Alan Rickman deliver one line as Professor Snape would make a whole three-hour viewing worth the time.

Some of you may not be following any of this, but let that be a Dark Mark on you and not me, because I’ve been trying to convince many of you for years to see the stupid things, but you can’t let go of your softcore pornography and your so-called “family time.” Let this be a lesson …

But, of course, once again, in viewing the first movie—“Harry Potter and Something-or-Other”—I was struck and disturbed by J.K. Rowling’s mean portrayal of the Goblin bankers at the wizard bank “Gringot’s” as long-nosed, money-grubbing trolls, with names like “Goldstein” and “Silverbaum.” (Actually, I don’t remember their names, but it’s pretty clear that’s what Rowling was thinking.) The little mealy, toad-like bankers are clearly anti-Semitic stereotypes. My god, the woman fell just short of Charles Dickens’ descriptions of Fagan in the book “Oliver Twist,” where he interchangeably referred to him as “the Jew.”

Now, being a self-hating Jew myself, I can sympathize with Rowling’s animosity. Obviously she carries bad associations around in her little experience. Perhaps her first husband, whose dumping of her is now legend, was in fact a member of our Hebraic race. Perhaps she felt contempt toward a Jewish banker, who took part in prompting her now-legendary alleged homelessness, leaving her and her daughter to fend for themselves with naught but their unbeatable spirit and a $1,200 Apple laptop computer with which she frequented local cafes concocting the spirited best-seller that brought her back from the pits of obscurity into the legions of the damned.

But what’s more surprising is that the likes of Hollywood—which we also control—would let the gross nose portrayal of the goblins go unchecked in that first lovely movie … perhaps the second and fifth too. Who can remember? They all meld together after a while into a soft blue light fanfare of glowing wands, Latin-sounding curses and exclamations of “Brilliant!”

But beyond all of that, what’s really, really, really interesting—sad, disappointing but true—is how few people would even notice this flagrant example of Jew-hating. I was chatting about it with a Potter fan just this week, and he actually expressed surprise, despite having seen the movie more times than me. “Yeah, but there’s one with a little nose,” he defended. A token Goyim Goblin—or “Goyblin,” as they’re probably known in some as-yet undiscovered Potter manuscript. Rubbish, I said, and shame on him for not recognizing this terrible anti-Semitic depiction of my people (meaning the Jews, not the Goblins).

All told, it’s an enlightening series for so many reasons. The books are okay, I guess. I read a few. I tend to have pretty high expectations for literature, as you might imagine. The movies are light-years better, except the books—afterward—serve as a kind of director’s cut for the movies, if you already have those characters firmly in mind … at least in my mind …

But what do I know. We Jews are only concerned with our Gringot’s!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Yes, We Need a Little Naked, Right This Very Minute

January 7, 2013:  Monday morning, and the remaining bounty of Christmas decorations demonstrates the continuing—dare I say growing—need for spiritual fulfillment in America (or at least my little corner of it). Yes, it turns out I’m not alone in the satisfaction I garner by way of the holiday season, and despite my heathen leanings, there are few joys in my world like the magic I project upon December.

No, I’m not alone, except I suspect many people don’t acknowledge their hunger. In fact, we as a nation—a world, perhaps, but I wouldn’t know—are starved for spiritual connections and fulfillment. But we’re too embarrassed to know what to do. Yes, I said embarrassed, because in my definitions of spirituality, it’s our own cloying discomfort with ourselves—everything from our outside appearance to the personal stench of our inner assholes—that keeps us from letting our guard down enough to allow spiritual satisfactions in.

Why so serious indeed? Simple. It’s just fear—fear of … well, everything! Fear originally cultivated in our respective demented families of origin, but blindly perpetuated by a demented society, drives us, controls us, and—to this point—prevents us from allowing ourselves to experience the pleasure of a free spirit.

You must understand—in fact, I insist, if you’re going to read my Blah-ugh!—you understand that spirituality is not synonymous with religion or religious practices—though these can offer a means to the valuable end—but more importantly describes—identifies, in fact—who we really, authentically are, despite what our thinking muscle keeps insisting. If you’re able to set your thoughts aside for a moment—a delightfully simple yet simultaneously hard motion—and allow yourself to fully wake up into the moment of this very moment—you may just understand in that instant that all that you are right now—that whole awareness and consciousness—is everything about spirit, and that spiritual relates to all those things that aren’t centered with your physical body or your calculating mind.

That said, getting in touch with your authentic self thus demands—at some point—that you honor that self by letting it be itself. (My god, even the grammar checker on this stupid computer couldn’t digest the heady tone of that line!) The problem is that, so often … too often … we’re constantly bombarded with societal messages that prevent us from risking being ourselves, mainly because we live in fear of what other people may think, or that exposure of being ourselves will somehow prevent us from getting something we think we need.

But let’s shift back to more Blah-ugh!-related inquiries and ideals, and so move the question of What of the Jews? While the Clausians continue an impotent attempt to prolong vague spiritual stirrings through light bulbs, the Hanukkoids are hunkered down in customary defense, waiting for the next uprising. Some smart Jews—like myself—make a big show of endorsing Christmas in order to thwart suspicion and keep the Nazis off the trail. It’s pretty sneaky, I know, but what do you expect from a Jew? The sneakiness is in our blood. (Boy, this computer doesn’t like anything I’m doing today!)

But all kidding aside—and I want the B’Nai Briss to know I’m kidding—we’re never going to come close to achieving that much-desired spiritual fulfillment as a society until we lighten up and start running around naked, even in the cold weather. The upside of tragic events like Newtown is that they provide people an excuse to fall apart. That’s why so many people tend to wallow in these kinds of events, if you will, because it affords an opportunity to be naked without fear of reprisal, because for that window everybody’s naked and they won’t be singled out. People hate to be singled out, even me; it’s just that some of us, through necessity, grow used to it.

I propose that starting this year people begin an informal competition of displaying the most outrageous lawn decorations they can imagine—no holds barred. I think this will be a good spiritual practice for a culture desperate to have the stick yanked out of its ass, but too self-conscious to even acknowledge that it’s there.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Tong Etiquette and Ass Bacteria

January 5, 2013:  Huzzah, huzzah! Yes, I'm fooling all of you by posting another post, right here at the Blah-ugh! ... And I'm doing so because it's important, you see, for despite the good turns America is taking in this millenium, it's certainly not practical for me to be sitting on my laurels -- or anyone else's -- at this point.

For starters, I know people were wondering how my stew turned out, and I can assure you that it was palatable, if not necessarily tasty. Today I tried another attempt in the guise of chicken, and I was very pleased with the result, though it gave me hives.

Actually, I wanted to post a post because of two food-related discoveries I made today, and this chicken was one of them. You see I realized that the secret to preparing chicken -- which I’ve always abhorred and suffered by – is to be really, really hungry when you’re cutting it up. You see, it’s so incredibly disgusting and gives me formidable heebeejeebies (and I’m sure I’m not spelling that right) that I’ve largely kept it off my menu entirely, except for the chicken that comes breaded and frozen and merely requires heating. Anyway, I found myself just throwing chicken caution to the wind today – leaving a remarkable variety of entrails and veiny things intact, and just throwing it all in the pan for consumption, because I was so bloody hungry that I had no compunction about eating any of it. (And let me tell you, over 150 Blah-ugh! entries and all this time I’ve been dying to use the word “compunction” in a post!)

The other food-related item is one I’ve had on my mind for a very long time, but never remember to get down – namely the issue of tong etiquette. It’s a ridiculous and remarkable phenomenon how people use their grubby hands on tongs and then lay them atop food. Have you watched salad bar behavior with the kind of hyper-vigilant fear that’s so much a part of my pathology? If you have, then you must have noticed how people somehow find it okay to lay the tongs directly atop the food. It’s so strange that no one things twice about it, and stranger still that people then pick up the tongs and serve themselves after the bacteria-infested paw prints of some knucklehead have been unsoundly transferred into the group food plate.

I spent some time observing it today at a social event. For a while I’d been eyeing a succulent cheese ball resting innocently in the middle of a large platter of handsome cold cuts. I was close to going over and showing it who was boss when, as if on movie cue, a fat woman came forward, grabbed the tongs and helped herself to a generous serving of salami and stuff, then thoughtlessly, unconsciously, laid the big black plastic tongs right there on top of everything, like it was custom … And it is, sad to say! … Then the next man did the exact same thing. And for one hopeful moment he couldn’t balance the tongs on the pile, but then he solved the little problem by just throwing them right on the middle of the plate, where they touched everything.

Like me, you’re probably thinking there’s a good chance either one of these people may have their hands up their asses, or perhaps somewhere worse, and now we were all going to share in their experience, though obviously without some of the same joys. Not me. This was one of those times when my acute paranoia and hyper-vigilant fear paid off … No ass salami for me!

Over the years I’ve adopted some intelligent practices when it comes to getting a share of group food. I’d share them with you, but in all likelihood it would somehow impede my progress were we to end up at a social event together. Suffice it to say, I’m not falling for any of this …

So that was my day, at least in part. I’m still wondering if and when I’ll ever find time to finish the myriad projects I’m involved in, or when I’ll at least have the nerve to start giving them less psychic energy … Most importantly, at this rate there’s a good chance that I’ll complete 150 new Blah-ugh! entries by the end of the year … But don’t count on it!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Wind in the Willows Revisited and Other Stories

January 3, 2013:  If you knew how often I thought about doing Blah-ugh! entries, you'd be surprised ... Or not. Perhaps nothing phases you. Perhaps you've been so hardened by uncivilized society and fast food and grocery checkout clerks who talk to one another in abrasive voices while they're doing your checkout, that you can't even find a ray of hope in this Blah-ugh!?

Well, if that's the case, I sincerely hope the lessons of Toad will lift your spirits, for he is in reality an honorable creature. If you haven't read the book, you have no business wasting your time here with this silliness. Grab a copy -- preferably the one with the magnificent illustrations by Ernest Shepard (of Winnie-the-Pooh fame) and see what truly excellent literature looks like.

Now one of the great marks of perfect literature--and you know, with no hyperbole, I honestly feel this book is the closest thing I've encountered near perfect writing. No fooling! ... It's musical writing, which is what I strive to accomplish, with my fiction in particular. It's intelligent, layered, and beautiful just to read, regardless of where it's going. In other words, each line or phrase is pleasant enough on its own. I don't even have to be dragged along an adventure or a plot. I'm content to sit in the sunshine of the words and relish the warm twinkling ray of light massaging my brain through my eyelids ... Imagine a novel you can read in a random order ... What a thought ... But I digress ...

What I meant to say was that one of the marks of great writing is references to food and loving descriptions of meals, and I so enjoy those in this book -- in particular I'm enamored with the gipsy's stew -- ("It was, indeed, the most beautiful stew in the world, being made of partridges, and pheasants, and chickens, and hares, and rabbits, and peahens, guinea-fowls, and one or two other things ...") And the reason I'm even mentioning any of this is because I'm making stew right now, as we speak, or as I write. Yes, I know it's hard to believe, but it's true ... Stew! And while I didn't include rabbits or partridges -- and really don't have any inkling to -- the beef is doing nicely ... or so I hope! (It's got a funny smell, but what doesn't these days.)

You see, I couldn't find the right non-alcoholic cooking wine to whet my fancy -- I couldn't find any, actually, though I only looked in one store -- and so I'm attempting one of my misguided improvisations ... No, not the kind I do at parties, but a culinary improv, wherein I'm combining grape juice and balsamic vinegar. You see, I reason that wine is halfway between the two, so added in the right proportion, it should, in all likelihood, work out. I've had noteworthy success with red grape juice in spaghettie sauces, actually, but this business of stew may be quite another story ... Time will tell. I'll add the potatoes around midnight and go from there ...

So that's where things stand, except I set out to talk about Toad's behavior in detail, but now I've completely lost interest and energy. Instead, I'm looking forward to completing this interminable Blah(-ugh!) and lying back on the couch to allow myself some much-deserved peace time working on a Cross Sum puzzle.

Have I mentioned how much I like Cross Sum puzzles? It's not the kind of thing you like to get around, but it's true I tellya -- true, true! And the beautiful ice cold weather of good winter days really moves me to work on them in earnest, though I have other responsibilities, like learning to juggle and eating this handsome box of fudge my daughter got me for holiday. (It's actually Ralphie from "A Christmas Story" fudge, and on the cover of the box he's saying in a word bubble, "Ohh .... FFFFFudge!!" ... Very clever!)

And that's why I'm convinced the Chinese are taking over the world ... Did I explain that properly? I'm not sure, and I try not to reread this stuff. It just upsets my stomach and makes me wonder what I did with my thirties ...

Finally, please forgive my failure to achieve a record number of Blah-ugh! entries in the previous year. I came close and certainly meant to, but I know you wouldn't have wanted me to just write to write and fill space, like I appear to be doing now. It just wouldn't be right. I mean, look! ...

Finally, I'm almost through with another novel book, which I'll be putting up online in the next few days. It's quite a different book for me -- something in the horror region -- but I'm very happy with it, but you probably won't like it, so don't waste your 99 cents. I'm hoping this one will be better proofread, but there's no telling what I'll do or not do, depending on my mood and how my stew turns out ...

Finally, I wish you and me both -- and especially me -- a joy-filled, peaceful, conscious, and lucrative 2013 ... I really sense it's going to be a good year, and I look forward to being a part of it ... preferably in the evening hours, when I'm better rested ...