Thursday, September 30, 2010

A tube of Brylcreem.

Communication is a tricky thing.  You always have to have a sender and a receiver and a message, but you also always have noise.  In communication terms noise is anything that messes with the whole thing so that the message received isn't exactly what the sender intended.  Sometimes, noise is as simple as pronunciation or hearing problems.

I remember being very little and asking my Papa what davelduia was.  Brylcreem had
a little davelduia.  It must be a very important ingredient, I thought.  What the jingle actually said was "Brylcreem, a little dab will do ya."

I also sang, "Bringing in the sheets, bringing in the sheets, we will come from Jersey bringing in the sheets."  At Christmas I sang, "Bells on cocktails ring." I had no idea what a bobtail was.

And come on, you know you sang with Jimmy, "Scuse me, while I kiss this guy."  Everyone sang along with "There's a bathroom on the right."  I really thought it was "You and me and Leslie."  I found out decades later that Leslie wasn't in the song.  It was "You and me endlessly." 
When my daughter was younger, she sang, "I can see clearly now, the pain is gone.  I can see all Popsicles in my way."  That's a nice image, isn't it?

And it's not just mortals who are affected by noise.  Eric Clapton named a song Badge because he misunderstood when George Harrison referred to the bridge. So this type of miscommunication is excusable.

I'm not so sure about the excusability of using nonwords.  Pacificly I'm referring to words like irregardless, eckcetera. In cases like that, the sender should be slapped upside the head. And that's all I have to say about that.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

My Jingle Has a First Name. . . .

I am not a marketing professional, but I've always been interested in the psychology behind advertising and marketing. Many bucks are spent on ads and there's a ton of research behind most of it, so one would assume that bad marketing wouldn't exist - at least not for long.  But some of the marketing that assaults me puzzles me greatly.

Why, for example would anyone assume that it would be a good thing for a cat not to  be able to find her litterbox.  I have had cats and generally speaking, it's very bad indeed if they pee on the floor. The goal of having a litterbox is the cat using it, which implies it has to be able to find it.

Speaking of cats, why would anyone want to associate them with a sandwich.  Why would a sandwich restaurant think tone-deaf cats singing non-rhyming songs about them would make me want to eat their sandwiches?  The first thing that goes through my mind is perhaps they make sandwiches out of cat meat.  Not a good thing

And is it just South Carolina or do other, possibly  more literate places have billboards stating, "U litter, U lazy."   Is Bubba more likely to keep his beer can in the truck after reading that?

I really like the commercial with the drop-dead gorgeous man riding the horse backward, but I can't tell you know what's advertised in that.  Perhaps I'm not the target audience, eh?

I had bad dreams for weeks about waking up next to some freak wearing a frozen king mask.  Not once did it make me want to go to Burger King.  It makes me afraid to go to Burger King. 

I don't want to drive the same car that gerbils drive.  I don't think cheaper is better when it comes to pizza, and I'm offended by skinny 20 year-olds advertising wrinkle cream.

However, I've known Empire Carpet's phone number (588-2300) for decades and I still know you meet the nicest people on a Honda bike (it's the world's greatest seller and I know you'll like. . . .)  My bologna still has a first name, Baby and if I eat too much of it I know enough to plop, plop, fizz, fizz. And maybe it's just because I'm a Pepper (wouldn't you like to be a Pepper,too?) but it seems to me we need jingles. I don't know about you, but give me a catchy tune  and I'm half way to the checkout.

My daughter and son-in-law are both in marketing, and I'm fixin' to give them a call (I understand they are part of the 99% of America covered by my cell company) and ask them what's up with this stuff. 


I sat on a swing, on a porch six feet from the drop of a mountain.  Across the valley, blue on blue on violet brush strokes faded into the end of the world.   A fat black and yellow spider kept me company.    Morning filled the valley with solid white. Squirrels jumped from branch to branch, acorns crackled down the limbs. Hawks circled up and up until even with binoculars they were tiny specks against the blue white sky, expert at endlessly riding invisible therms. Humming birds greedily fought each other for the sugar syrup in the feeder. A huge, coral-colored moon washed away all but the brightest stars and hushed my breath. Waves of crisp cold air brought up the volume of the mountain night symphony and I played my part.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Boob Tube

I just watched an episode of Andy Griffith that I hadn't seen before.  Aunt Bee was encouraged to run for city council against Howard Sprague.  Andy was backing Howard.  The two candidates had a debate and Howard smashed her.  Aunt Bee, realizing that things on the razor's edge of Mayberry politics wasn't quite the same as Garden Club, gracefully stepped down and endorsed the ever-so-qualified Howard.

The viewers learned that it's good to recognize the strengths of ourselves and others.  We also learned that silly old aunts shouldn't run for office and should stay in the kitchen where they belong.  I'm not really hot on that last moral. 

But at least there was a moral.

I also saw a piece of an episode of . . . I have gratefully forgotten the name of it.  It went something like this:

Young, buxom blonde woman whose neckline met the hem of her shorts:  "Why do you have to be such a dick?"

Young, handsome man: "I'm not being a dick."

Blonde: "Yes you are!" (sob, sob, stamp out of room)

Blonde: "And then he was like, 'I'm not a dick,' and I was like, 'yes, you are.' " (sob, sob) "Why does he have to be such a diiiiick?" (whine, whine)

Young, black-haired woman with bare legs to her chin: "Ohhhhhh," (pouty mouth) "So what are you going to dooooo?

Blonde:  "I'm like, I don't knowwwww."

Black -haired: "I know, right?"

Without taking into account inflation, I think it cost 14 times as much to produce that episode of Andy Griffith than it did to produce the latter.  Andy and Aunt Bee's characters actually acted.  There were costumes and scenes and characters. There was a script, for crying in a bucket.

Who gets the job of deciding what gets on TV?  I think I want that job.  Are we really that hard up for talent and creativity that stuff like that looks good?  Bring back Alfred Hitchcock, the Twilight Zone and the Smothers Brothers.  Bring on more channels like History and Nat Geo.   And news?  Give me a break!  Where are the Cronkites and Brinkleys that reported news instead of trying to entertain with competetive hysterics?

I'm not being a silly old person.  I'm like, being a silly person in her prime with 100 channels and nothing to watch.  (whines and stamps out of blog)

Friday, September 17, 2010

It's time to play "Write a story in 55 words".   When you do, be sure to let the G-Man know.

You don’t scare me.
I have been there.
I have done that.
And I have perfected the whole damn thing.
I know the secret handshakes.
I know how the game is played.
You will underestimate me with great remorse on your part
And lovely pleasure on mine.
Go ahead,
Think of me as old, Shugga.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What to do with the leftovers

This is an email I just sent to my fam and closest friends. I encourage you all to consider doing this.


I have handy little cards that I'll send some of you to keep in your wallets or desks or. . . underwear if you'd like. Anyway, I've willed my body (only after my death, you understand, until then I plan to use it myself) to Science Care. They can be reached at 800 417 3747 or if any of you is interested in doing the same. At the event of my death, whoever is around should call them and they'll come and get the body. It will be used for grafts, tissue, education and/or research. If you want to see my body, I recommend you do it while I'm alive. The bits and pieces won't be returned to you and I can't think why you'd want them anyway.

I just wanted to tell you now, while I'm very much alive, just so you won't be surprised, will know my wishes, will know what to do, and hopefully will be somewhat relieved because.. . well, that's one less thing, eh?

I also fully intend to have my funeral while I'm still around to enjoy you all walking past me talking about how good I look and bringing me flowers. But there's lots time for that.


Read Whine

I just whine sometimes, don't I?  And I'm not unhappy.  I'm very happy.  I choose to be happy.  Don't go thinking that happy people don't whine.  I think it's imperative to whine once in a while if one is going to be happy.

I think it's just important to think through to whom we whine.  I have a set of whine recipients and I am indeed a blessed person. 

I have a co-worker to whom I am allowed to whine free of charge at any time of day.  I'm fairly sure I'd be gone without her.  I whine to her about work-related things.  Unfortunately, we are often interrupted by work. 

A friend who has been the best since age 3 is about 700 miles away, but the internet and telephone being what they are, she remains a great therapist.  I can whine to her about anything.  Things that she doesn't understand are not off limits.  That's important for a lifelong friend therapist.  She'll also tell me - ever so lovingly - if I'm off base.  Of course, that hardly ever happens.

I have a therapist therapist who points out to me in a less gentle, though not harsh way when I'm whining over the whine limit.  He encourages me to woman up and do something more productive than whining.  This is important to have but not always immediately available.

Then I have Blanche.  She will happily listen to me whine for hours on end.  She never gets bored, tells me that I'm feeling sorry for myself or has to go do something more important.  When I come home from work she's waiting for me, eager to hear me whine about my day, the news, the weather,  my joints. . . .whatever I decide is whine worthy. She gardens with me, in case I think of something to whine about in the garden. 

I find that with Blanche I don't censor myself.  She isn't afraid of strong emotions (as long as they aren't accompanied by the vicious vacuum cleaner.)  She has a way of making me feel important.  She loves me as only a rescued dog can do. 

Blanche, this blog is dedicated to you and the late Gus Campbell, our canine great nephew and cousin.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Client Suicide

Sunday 160

She said emotional, as if the word tasted bad. I am emotional. He had tied a garbage bag around his head because he wanted so much not to live. I am emotional.

The Sunday 160 Challenge uses only 160 characters including spaces. Keep on schedule, post only on Sunday and let Monkey Man know via a post to his site. Visit at least one other Sunday 160.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

OD on the Best Medicine

There's nothing better than a good right-from-the-toes laugh.  I've heard it referred to as internal jogging and I'm sure it's one of the greatest blessings in the Universe.

Sometimes something happens that's 80% serious, 18% neutral and 2% funny.  97% of the times that happens to me, I get stuck on the 2% funny.  I just can't help it.  Usually, it's a good thing I think.  It's just healthier to laugh than it is to cry. Usually.

There are situations - funerals come to mind - during which it's frowned upon to find and focus on the funny bits.  And the really outrageous thing  about laughing during times like that is that realizing it while I'm doing it is inescapably hilarious. 

I'll share an example.  A couple of days ago I burned my wrist during an ironing accident.  Let this be a lesson, boys and girls, be well-insured before attempting laundry.  Anyway, since I'm very light skinned, looking at me wrong causes scarring. This unfortunate ironing burn will definitely scar.  So today at work I was washing my hands when it occurred to me that it's going to look exactly like a suicide attempt scar and I immediately pictured myself saying to an as yet unknown client,
"You call that a cut?  This is a cut!" 

Of course I would never say that to a client.  Well, not unless it was my unplanned last day of work.  But you see, now that demon seed is planted and writing about it here is probably fertilizing the damned thing. So the next time I check someones wrists for cutting scars you know I'm going to have to fight the urge to laugh.  It will have nothing to do with the client, but there would be absoflippinlutely no way to convince anyone of that.  By the time I explained the whole thing, the 50 minutes would be up and. . . well, it just wouldn't be a good idea.

To make matters even worse, as I was walking out of the ladies room, laughing out loud over the mental picture of me clobbering someones ailing self image while simultaneously ending my career, I ran smack into the executive director of the clinic.  I said, "No, really, I'm OK."  Duh.

Of course there are those poor souls who focus on the 18% neutral in nearly every situation.  The clinical term for those peeps is boring.  I work with one of those.  That guy goes through the halls - and evidently through life - with absolutely no expression.  And he's not one of those funny, funny folk (often Brits) who see humor in most things and make you laugh and always do it with a totally straight face.  No, the guy I work with is humorless.  Passionless.  If he were a color he'd be landlord beige.  If he were a flavor he'd be water.  Not refreshingly cool or tea-brewing hot or bracingly cold or carbonated.  He'd be room temperature tap water.  Probably full of unseen toxins.

Then there are those people who tend to focus on the serious bits of life.  Some go beyond that and focus on the terrifying.  Those people are often called great artists.  They tend to exhaust me, but I think if I had to choose between being bored to death or being terrified to death I'd choose the latter.  Of course, I'd probably find something sidesplitting about dying.

So I reckon the best I can do is perfect my laughter covering techniques.  There's the -cover-your-face-and-pretend-you're-grieving technique, which is useful at funerals or when your adolescent son is being questioned by police about some absolutely gorgeous painting on the side of a building.

The excuse-me-I-have-to-pee/make an emergency phone call/heard myself being paged can work if you practice it enough and are in a situation where you have some flexibility.  For situations in which removing yourself is very difficult, you really should become proficient at the tried and true cough/sneeze/choke technique. Save the feigned seizure for a dire emergency. It probably won't work more than one time, so don't waste it.

Probably the best thing to do is share the belly shake.  If you're lucky enough to be blessed with a naturally funny laugh, you're 90% there.  I have am fortunate to be a snorter.  I know others who have the little scream laugh, which is also very contagious.  Personally, I enjoy a good wheeze laugher, too.  I always think, "Well, he's either dying or found something really, really funny."  I'm often concerned that I will laugh along with someone for a good couple of minutes then figure out I need to start CPR.  Funny, eh?

Monday, September 6, 2010

A Bottle of Time, Please

You'd think it would be enough!

I just figured out what's wrong with life.  Well, my life that is.  I've no idea what's wrong with your life.  Could be a number of things.  You should find a therapist, or a minister or a teacher or something. . . oh, wait.  I'm those things.  But I still don't know what's wrong with your life.  Probably nothing much.  Anyway, this is about ME.

Now where was I?

Oh, yeah, what's wrong with my life.  Not enough hours.  That's it.  If I just had more hours I could do all the things I want to do AND all the things I'm supposed to do. 

I'm not sure how many more hours it would take to satisfy me.  More than I have, that's for ding dang sure.  I just had a three day weekend and what do I have to show for it?  Oh, sure I made some pickles, cooked some meals, did grocery shopping, laundry, made some shampoo and fabric softener, did some gardening, did a little writing, made some chicken stock, did some ironing, took some pictures and explored my neighborhood.  But I didn't clean my gutters, wash windows, write the Great American Novel, shape my eyebrows, or install a pond in my back yard. 

And when I get back to work tomorrow, I'll probably see a bunch of clients, but I won't get those monthly report thingies all done, cure schizophrenia or make my supervisor happy.  I'll probably power walk for 30 minutes, but I won't lose 35 pounds. I'll do some resistance exercises, but I won't achieve sculpted biceps.

After my day job I'll teach a class.  I'll go over new material and review for a test we'll have next week, but not every student will get an A. I still won't figure out how to use all the university websites without anxiety and frustration.

I have so many projects in various stages of perfection, but none of them are quite there yet.   If I had more hours, I'm sure they'd all be perfect and I could start new projects.  I could even relax. 

As it is with only 24 hours in a day, I'm going to have to live to be somewhere around 212 years old before I'm going to get to relax and enjoy perfection. I need to squeeze eight hours out of each 24 to sleep, or I'll just stumble around bumping into walls, which is neither something I want or am supposed to do.  And I'm far too busy to waste hours being tired or depressed or be . . . stumbly.

OK, I've figured out the problem.  I think it's only fair that some of you should come up with the solution.  Perhaps you have some extra hours you could send me.

Love poem, take two

I started this for microfiction friday and it was harsh.  Not exactly right.  This is closer.
(I'm either a) quite brave, 2) quite silly, c) sleep deprived - AGAIN)

I'll tell you that I'll never change
You'll promise me you will
But who knows what the moons will bring
What hides beyond the hills?

Everything in life must change
And all remains the same
And trying to avoid that truth
Can only lead to pain

This moment now is all we have
So love me now and here
Fierce and strong and gentle
Til there's nothing left to fear.

And maybe you'll convince me
(Though impossible to do)
That I am worth the loving
And then I can love you, too.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Write a story in 140 characters and then let Susan (  know you came to play.

The water volume is OK and I love the spontaneity, but the curl is lacking that certain je ne sais quoi. Overall I’d give this wave a five.

Sunday 160

"Yes, it's a little gun," she spoke far too calmly. "And  you know all about little guns don't you?"  His smile slid off his face as her aim slid down his body. Sunday 160 Challenge uses only 160 characters including spaces.  Keep on schedule, post only on Sunday and let Monkey Man know via a post to his site. Visit at least one other Sunday 160.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Seeing Things For the First Time Again (One Moment)

The following is a re-run of a post from a year or so ago.  Professor B. Worm's blog on one life changing moment encouraged me to post it. 

My sister had to hold me, I didn't have glasses yet.
One of my earliest memories is Papa carrying me from the car to the house the day I got my first pair of glasses. He set me down inside the front door and I just stood there looking around, soaking it in. My mother says I couldn't possibly remember it because I was only two years old, but I don't think you forget the first time you see things as they really are.

The brown floors were individual pieces of wood with lighter and darker grains. The pink blobs on the wall of the bathroom were flamingos standing on only one of their spindley legs. Trees had leaves - individual leaves. There were just so many more little things making up larger things.

People would ask my parents how they got me to leave the glasses on, after all I was just a toddler. But I was a toddler who could finally see. And vision is a great motivator. I wish I would have saved every pair of glasses I've ever had. It would be fun to see how lenses and fashions changed. I'm sure if I tried on my first glasses now, I wouldn't be able to see at all, even though they clarified things so well 53 years ago.

We all look through lenses all the time. We look through the lens of our culture, our upbringing, our beliefs. And we change. The lens that made things clear in our childhood may really muddle reality now. And that's ok. We outgrow our beliefs the way I outgrew my glasses.

We never get to the point in life that we no longer need to check our prescriptions. Usually vision changes so insiduously that we don't realize we aren't seeing clearly until we get new lenses. Then it's just amazing.
Seeing things as they really are is an experience we never outgrow.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Graduating from Fifth Grade

Fifth Grade Fay
There are lots of scary things in this world. But nothing Stephen King can come up with can match a fifth grade girl.

Not my daughter, you understand. My daughter was the exception that makes the rule. That goes without saying. But there was a little Satanette in her class who made my angel's life miserable for no good reason. The Evil One demanded that my angel give her a hamster for her birthday. . . . or else.

The or else turned out to be turning Satanette wannabes against my angel. They made fun of her perfectly darling yellow polka dot outfit and her huge black hair bow and her precious bottle bottom eyeglasses. They were only jealous, of course, but it's hard to believe that when you're surrounded by the pure evil that is fifth grade.

A horrible herd of eleven year olds from hell can ignore you until icicles hang from your ears or they can burn you up with flaming words. They can twist and crunch and down right make up things about you and before you can say cheerleading tryouts you'll start believing there is something fundamentally wrong with you.

Luckily for the perpetuation of humankind, fifth grade doesn't go on for ever. Well, not for most of us anyway. And we grow out of wanting to ruin the lives of people whose mother's won't allow them to buy us hamsters. We move on.
We become much more sophisticated, more grown up. Which is to say we don't need to bully or gang up on people any more. Unfortunately, it seems that many people don't need to do it any less, either. I think a little bit of fifth grade girl remains in everyone. Some people retain an extra portion, it seems, even when they become adult professionals.

Now I've never been one to advocate growing up all that much. I don't see much future in it. But I think getting rid of the fifth grade evil in ourselves is a worthy goal.

It's time to play "Write a story in 55 words". When you do, be sure to let the G-Man know  (

(Hey, does poetry count?)

I said, "I’ll tell you that I’ll never change,

And you'll promise me you will."

But who knew what the moons would bring,

What lay beyond the hills?

My Love, everything in life will change

And all remains the same

We do well to remember

It’s always just a game.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Don't It Always Seem To Go. . .

You don't know what you got till it's gone.

Gazillions of people just go along breathing and drinking and sleeping and pooping as if there is never going to be an end to them, as if it's no big deal. And then one day, poof!  You can't sleep or there's some little problem like a flood and your community doesn't have clean water. Or your bowels just go on strike. Or, like my friend, you can't breathe without help.  Then it becomes a very big deal. The biggest deal.

There are people all around sleeping and getting clean water from a tap.  People who don't even slow down for a sale on Colon Blow and who breathe without thinking a thing about it. Ungrateful fools!

If you had at least 7 hours of sleep last night, 8 glasses of clean water, a good poop and can fill your lungs with air, you should get on your knees (if they still bend) and thank the Universe. 
Eat your spinach, my friends, because there are children in China without food. And that's all I have to say about that.