A Cat With a Donut Is Always an Appropriate Sentiment

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You say language and people think of words. But what you really mean is everything that language encompasses, including tone, gestures, facial expressions, implications. Look at that, we’ve said one word and we’re already miscommunicating.

We certainly rely heavily on non-textual cues to convey meaning. You could text me “My Grandma is making me dinner” and I would think nothing of it. But you stand in front of me with sweat beading on your forehead and terror in your eyes and say “My Grandma is making me dinner” and I’d be like “Dude, why didn’t you ever tell me your grandmother is a cannibal?”

We need specific words to convey specific ideas. But without the enforcement of non-verbal cues, communication breaks down. One guy says, “Hey, Bro, like your tie.” But his eyes say “Hey, Bro, like your tie, lets have sex in the copy room again.”

It’s the same with symbols. People use symbols all the time to convey meanings without the use of words. You see a white building with a cross on top, you think church. But you go in to offer your praises, maybe light a candle, gossip about your neighbors bad spray tan, and instead of finding a room filed with pews you find goats grazing over a carpet of indoor grass. Then a guy in a white tunic says to you “This is no church. In my country cross is symbol for goat farm. Is very unfortunate coincidence.” And that’s fair, because every culture is different. But, at least 99% of the time, building with cross means church, and no words are needed to express that.

Of course even those shades of gray aren’t always black and white. As we know this type of communication occurs, we frequently misinterpret would-be symbols all the time. I see a guy walking down the street in an expensive, three-piece and I think. “That guy makes a ton of money.” Where in reality he’s a hobo with a meth problem who steals people’s clothing while they’re getting CAT scans.

Frequently there are errors as well. In a world of emoticons, you may be trying to send a happy face to someone to convey, you know, happiness. But what happens when you press the wrong button and you send them an image of a cat eating a donut? What, exactly, does that convey? It may express happiness if, coincidentally, you had already been talking about how much you love cats and/or donuts. Other than that, you’ve most likely rendered the other party brain dead in an attempt to interpret what was really just folly.

The point is, communication relies on a conglomeration of words, expressions, tones, gestures, and symbols to convey meaning.  But, in the end, it’s likely no one will understand what you’re trying to say anyway.

Who Needs Kinky Sex?

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“I like it when she licks her lips, and her dress drops to the floor.”

“I like for him to throw me on the bed and ravish me.”

“I like rigging a rope to the ceiling fan, so I can strangle myself while my partner gets me from behind, dressed like Bozo the clown.”

Of course everyone has a different taste for what they like in the bedroom (or the bathroom), (or the office), (or atop the piano), but here’s the thing:  if you require clown asphyxiation to get you off, you might want to reassess what you do with the rest of your time, because I would guess that your life is lacking in stimulation.

According to a recent episode of Fox’s American Dad, everybody’s got “a kink.”  Of course the definition of what is and what is not kinky is going to vary from person to person.  In said episode, “kinks” ran the gamut from spanking to a strange inference involving an acrobatic midget and a flying weasel holding a rocket pop.

The inference is that everyone requires some kind of “kink” in order to make sex a gratifying experience.  But does anyone, at any point, start wondering whether we’re expecting too much from sex?  Yes, sex is naturally gratifying – it was made to be so on a biological level.  But if you need a horse, a pocket watch, and authentic chainmail from the crusades to get off – it’s no longer sex that is gratifying you.

Here are some things that those in the whips, chains, and inflatable-life-size-smurf community might want to consider.  One would be therapy – not because there is anything wrong with what you’re doing, but a better understanding about what drives it would be beneficial in general.  (Don’t take it personally – my first suggestion to everyone for everything is therapy.  Got a hangnail?  Try therapy.)

Second would be introspection on your job and hobbies.  Are you working to your potential?  Is it possible that the reason you seek out sexual partners who will flog you with geneoa salami while you hang from your home trapeze is actually because, well, proofreading phone books for a living is killing you inside and you should be teaching inner city kids earth sciences instead?  I mean, wind currents are fascinating.

Third I would wonder about your choice of sexual partner.  Have you ever experienced a sexual encounter with a partner who you have genuinely cared about?  Have you ever actually made love?  Instead of thinking about sex as a mode of biological gratification, have you ever conceived of it as a construct of emotional connection or expression?

How would sex change if we propogated it as personal gratification rather than physical gratification?  Then everybody’s got a kink would be transformed from “I like to be spanked and called dirty names” to “I like to be hugged and communicated with honestly.”

Does the Carpet Match the Drapes?

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Lots of women dye their hair.  Sometimes it’s a bleach blonde, sometimes a wild, electric pink.  None is so enthralling as the firey red, or the alluring deep, deep burgundy.  And we see these women, their long, stunning locks falling about their soft skin, and we wonder, “Does the carpet match the drapes?”

My first question is this – why do we have an idiom just about pubic hair?  Because we all know what that means:  does the color of the hair on your head match the color of the hair on your groin?  Is there anywhere else, any other culture on the planet, who invented an entire turn of phrase just to subtly ask a person, “Hey – what color are your pubes?”

Okay, so, let’s say that’s okay.  I will just I accept the premise that we can all just go around asking each other about the follicles surrounding our genitals.  I get it:  curtains hang on walls like your hair around your face, and the hair atop your pelvic region sits like a shag rug.

But, really, what you are trying to unveil by asking “Does the carpet match the drapes?” is whether your hair, which is visible, matches the clandestine fleece of your nether regions, which are hidden.  Neither drapes nor carpets fit the bill there.

What you should be asking is something more like, “Do the forks match the fine china?”  Like your hair, the forks you use on a daily basis.  And, like your pubic hair, the fine china only comes out for loved ones on Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Whether you want to know or whether you don’t want to know, there are always ways to find out.  Subtle ways, less offensive ways.  But if there is one thing about our quaint little pube-based idiom that is for sure, it is this:

Worst.  Pick-up line.  Ever.

Defacing Mona Lisa

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In a school, the students were given paper copies of the Mona Lisa, and were then apparently told to spruce up her face with cutouts from magazines. Upon passing these projects hanging in the hall, I was privy to this exchange:

Elementary/Primary School Teacher 1:  “I can’t believe they’re defacing the Mona Lisa like that.”

Elementary/Primary School Teacher 2:  “I know. It’s a disgrace.”

Elementary/Primary School Teacher 3:  “It’s a complete disgrace.”

All right, first we will enjoy a hearty chortle, and then we will get down to business…

My first reaction is to offer any one of these teachers a dollar if they can tell me who painted the Mona Lisa, what year, or where it currently resides.  One dollar, no smart phones.

My next impulse is to find the art room and tell the art teacher.  Perhaps start a district-wide campaign for intelligence via the arts – educating the educators, as it were.  But that’s silly.  I don’t even go to this school.

I was finally struck by the root of the problem.  What those teachers thought they were doing was expressing an opinion respectful of history and society, but what they were really doing was making an expression of ignorance.

First of all, if we’re going to have a problem with this project, shouldn’t we have a greater problem with the fact that we’re Xeroxing historical art, rather than pasting a clipping of Bill Clinton’s nose cut from an old Newsweek Magazine onto it?  It’s a classic dichotomy between making fine art accessible and cheapening it with mass production of duplicates.  Let’s have that conversation.

Additionally, “defacing” art to make art is, within itself, a form of art.  I have two words for you, Elementary/Primary School Teachers 1-3:  Marcel. Duchamp.  Dude took a postcard version of Mona Lisa and drew a moustache and beard on her.  Now it’s famous, international, historical art. Boom.

Lastly, and certainly most importantly, let’s talk about what these kids are learning, simply by pasting Rambo’s headband across the dainty forehead of a da Vinci.  Here is the Mona Lisa – a form.  A construct.  A paradigm of society.  And now cut random shit from a magazine and paste it on her face.

Maybe it seems like a simple project, but what it’s really doing is forcing the students to break down ideas they may have about social construct and how it’s supposed to work.  Today they’re pasting Snooki’s obnoxious cleavage on La Gioconda, tomorrow they’re reconstructing congress in such a way as to serve their people in a more utopian way.  Because you never know what an open mind might lead to.

Or maybe when they go to sleep tonight they will dream about a highly-cleaved Mona Lisa shooting up the school with her John Rambo machine gun and wake up tired in the morning.  It could really go either way.

Ebenezer Screwed

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In Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, a scruffy miser named Ebenezer Scrooge is visited by three Christmas ghosts who show him the high cost he pays among his fellow man for leading such a cruel and parsimonious life.

(At least that is the meaning  gleaned from the movies.  Trying to read the book is an exercise in futility.  Dickens wrote it in 1843, in dialectal nineteenth century slang.  That would be like, a hundred years from now, someone picking up The Life and Times of Chris Rock and trying to understand a word of it.  He will be reading his holo-book thinking, “what is a black-ass ho?” the same way I open up Dickens and go “what the hell is a bootjack?”)

In the end, Scrooge learns his lesson.  He gives Bob Cratchit a raise.  And he becomes “a second father” to Tiny Tim (who incidentally does not die), and “as good a friend, as good a master and as good a man as the good old city ever knew.”

Now, we will skip over the part where it’s 1843 and no matter how rich and generous Ebenezer Scrooge may be, they are still about a hundred and fifty years away from the modern medicine that can make a lick of difference to Tiny Tim’s long-term health.  No amount of extra heat or better nutrition is going to save the kid who needs titanium prosthetics and a kidney transplant.  Can you buy Tiny Tim a time-travelling phone booth, Mr. Scrooge?  No?  Then you are useless.

Instead of Tiny Tim, let’s focus on the real plot hole in this classic tale.  Ebenezer Scrooge is a rich man, with a large surplus of financial means.  He’s loaded.  I mean, this man has gold coins pouring out of his eyeballs.  How did he become rich?  According to Dickens, he gained his capital by being a “shrewd moneylender.”

But the Christmas ghosts demand that Scrooge learn to be kind and charitable toward his fellow man.  Ebenezer reacts to this lesson by waking up Christmas morning and going out into the streets of London giving his mattress funds to anyone who’ll take them.  He’s rich – so he should spend that money as charity for others.

Eventually, that pile of money is going to run out.  To give more charity he’s going to have to make more money.  And to make more money, he’s going to have to be that “shrewd moneylender” everyone hates so much.

The reality about the finance business is that, in order to be a successful financier, Ebenezer has to be a villain.  Because when a borrower comes to Scrooge’s office asking to skate on his mortgage payment, it is literally impossible for Scrooge to let this guy go without losing money.

To be kind, as the Christmas ghosts require, would be to let the guy go in his time of hardship.  But keep letting guys like this skate by and not only is Scrooge going to be out serious funds himself, but how is he going to be able to pay kindly Bob Cratchit?  What will happen to Tiny Tim then?

Scrooge has been put into an impossible position.  If he doesn’t become a man of kindness and charity, he will spend eternity dragging unbearably heavy chains he forged in life.  But he can’t be charitable without continuing to make a living…which he does by relentlessly taking other people’s money.

Of course, that is just a guess, because I don’t know what the hell “the blithest in his ears,” “a dig in the waistcoat” or “another coal-scuttle” means.

Passive Retribution

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I got cut off today.  You probably got cut off today too.  Or maybe someone took the last bag of Doritoes just as you were reaching for them in the grocery store.  Or possibly some jerk bumped into you on the street, knocking your iced caramel macchiato all over the sidewalk  without even turning around, let alone saying “sorry,” or even “excuse me.”

The point is, people are jerks, and we encounter negative experiences with them every day.

What can you do about it?  What can you do when you are in line at the Dairy Queen and some cretin at the back of the line shouts “Hurry up!” when all you are doing is taking an extra fifteen, maybe twenty seconds to decide between an M&M or a Peanut Butter Cup Blizzard?

There are a multitude of options.  You could take the man’s advice and hurry up, making a hasty decision on the M&M’s.  But all that will do is add an extra level of disappointment to your ice cream while you’re spooning it into your mouth, the whole time wishing you’d gone with the Peanut Butter Cups.

You could play the passive aggressive card.  Instead of taking thirty seconds to formulate your small, albeit personally significant order, you stretch it out over two, maybe even three whole minutes.  You start considering every menu item aloud, even those you don’t like, just to let that jerk-off at the back of the line know that you are at the front; you have control of the counter, and as such you have control over his and everyone else’s time.

The only problem with this scenario is that it also pisses off the ice cream jockey who is going to be mixing your Blizzard.  No amount of comeuppance toward Mr. Hurry-It-Up back there is worth getting your soft-serve spit in.

You could always punch the guy in the face.  Tried and true conflict resolution, right?  And it feels good to boot.  But what a deluge of problems that would incur.  First and foremost, to punch someone you first have to approach him, ipso-facto, losing your place in line.  Unlike Señor Move-Your-Ass, you waited patiently for your turn. Then, even if you do get back in line and do get to order your snazzy mug of chocolate ice cream swirled with Peanut Butter Cups (yes, definitely Peanut Butter Cups), there is no way you will have time to eat it before the cops show up, because wankers like this guy don’t fight back, they press charges.

At the end of the day, after considering all your options, it really seems like the only thing to do is just ignore the guy.  Some people call it taking the higher road, but what it really feels like it taking it up the wazoo.  You can tell yourself all you want that you are being the bigger person, but it really just feels like being pushed around.

Why is it that you – you who are a kind, sincere, and generous person who always strives to do the right thing in every situation – you make all the right choices, and what you get in the end is to be treated like half-petrified doggie doo-doo by self-involved jerkwads who wouldn’t know a kind act if it bit them in their  pompous hind ends?  What kind of reward system is that?

Fortunately, over the course of human history a system of checks and balances have been invented to soothe our souls in situations such as these.  If you are a follower of most any major religion, you have the ability to pacify your indignities with the convenience of having the almighty “right” on your side; as such, rewards are inherent, regardless of what happens on this day at the Dairy Queen.

Let’s say you are a subscriber to the most popular major Western religion, Christianity.  Christianity has incorporated into it the concept of Hell – a place where sinners go when they die as punishment for their sins on earth.  If you are a good guy, you follow the rules, you do what you’re supposed to – if you are kind and wait in line like a good little boy or girl – upon death you get to go to heaven and enjoy all the most wonderful comfort an eternal afterlife can afford.

If you shout impatiently at said kindhearted people, you spend eternity burning in hellfire. This idea makes it a lot easier to eat crow in the face of these self-involved weasels.

It transforms the “ignore him” option from one that generates feelings of oppression and defeat to an affirmation of one’s own sense of righteousness.  Instead of a churning resentment growing in the pit of your stomach as you refrain from responding to the audacious watch-tapping from the back of the line, you can spread a smug smile across your face.  Cause you know what?  That guy is going to hell.

At best he is coveting his neighbor’s goods (for example, your place in line).  At worst the he’s in such a rush cause he’s got three bodies in his trunk and time is of the essence; the ice cream isn’t even for him, it’s for Dom, the guys who’s overseeing the whole operation and likes to end all his criminal activities with a medium chocolate/vanilla swirl.

It’s not just Christians who get to enjoy this freedom from the everyday subjugation of being a kind person.  Islam shares a similar version of hell as Christians, only less permanent.  (At least as I understand it.  It’s been a while since I’ve translated a Qur’an.)

Judaism?  They don’t believe in a hell, really, but that doesn’t mean there is no hope.  According to the Jews, when the world ends, as every major Western religion agrees will happen at some point, the good souls get to enjoy the freedom of a heavenly-type afterlife while the reprobates just stay dead.  That’s right Hooper Humperdink – you can’t come to the party.

Of course Eastern religions play the game a little differently.  Largely these religions are nontheistic; there is no God to make the Final Judgment, and to cast down the wicked and smite all those who would dare to take that last bag of Doritoes.  They have no God, but they do have something possibly even better:  they have Karma. According to the laws of Karma, much like what you learned in seventh grade science class, for every action there is an equal reaction.  For every bit of good you do, and equal bit of good will be done unto you.  For every bit of bad, an equal bit of bad is returned.

What does that mean for you, you who is standing back at the Dairy Queen, choosing between ignoring Colonel Pushy Pants and giving him a good old whack in the schnoze?  Double prizes.  Not only can you ease the sense of tyranny you feel at the hands of this man by reminding yourself “He’s gonna get his!  That’s Karma!” but you also reap the benefits of generating your own good karma for choosing to not hit pop him one in the face when you could.

And what is great about Karma is that it doesn’t discriminate by size.  Unlike hell, which is only prescribed for the bigger and more deplorable sins, it doesn’t matter how big or small the karma-generating act is – it will come back to you, good or bad.

So the next time you feel the injustice of the world churning up your insides when the fine print of your coupon excludes the items you need, or your boss writes you up for that eleven minute break you took when you were only afforded ten, or someone pulls into that prime parking spot even though your turn signal was clearly on, don’t fret.  You can ease your mind your heart and your soul by knowing that, no matter which philosophy you subscribe to and no matter which way the universe is actually fabricated, at the end of things, they will get theirs.

No Rest for the Wicked

The idiom says that there’s no rest for the wicked. I hope that implies, therefore, that there is no rest for those who fight the wicked. Because what kind of asshole superhero are you if you let the bad guys get a jump on you?

“He-Man! I just heard Skeletor surmising an evil plan!”

“Fuck that shit. I’m taking a nap.”

Of course the original phrase is biblical in origin, where in the book of Isaiah God says three different times that there is no peace for the wicked. Or some people say. The original thing was in Hebrew, written by ancient scholars, who I am assuming majored in God-to-Hebrew translations.

Either way, it’s a catchy phrase. Clever people use it all the time for fun, artistic, borderline-satanic things. It brought us Ozzy Osbourne’s fifth studio album, which had Miracle Man and Crazy Babies on it. Awesome and awesome.

It’s also a song by Godsmack (which is ironic) and Cage the Elephant, which was catchy. I mean, they’re no Godsmack, but, you know – credit where credit is due.

And of course a whole slew of things that I’m failing to mention, because there are just too many of them. Or I don’t know about them. Or I forgot.