A bad break through.

Posted May 31st, 2009
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I have been reading a lot of magazines from the late 1920’s and early thirties to get a kind of grasp of the differences and similarities socially between the last economic collapse and this one.  There are many of each. But here is one reason that, no matter how bad things may get, it can never be quite as bad this time as it was last time.lysol-douche At least for women.

Horrible marriage circa 1929.

Posted May 24th, 2009
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I have been reading a lot of womens magazines from the ’20s and ’30s. They are mainly filled with the most hilarious kind of grandiose over views of domestic life. Everything was happy and under control, or on its way to both. And then I came upon this one piece in an April 1929 edition of Womashape-shiftersn’s Home Companion entitled “I Married the Wrong Man” that kind of took my breath away , maybe because I wasn’t expecting such a  relentlessly grim treatment of  marital bliss in the midst of a magazine that mainly shows women throwing on “a smart little frock” and dashing off to the market to find something “splendidly nourishing” that will “please and satisfy the whole family.” Here is a bit of it:

“Since the first emotional excitement of marriage was over and the star dust had been washed from my eyes with secret tears there has never been a day when I have longed for my husband’s presence. Never an hour when my heart cried for him, never a moment, in fact, when had we been suddenly released from each other and he had been married to my next door neighbor I should ever have cared to say more than a casual “Good morning” to him across the intervening hedge.  How I hungered for caresses that were not revolting. How I sickened for the satisfying companionship of a true mate.The conflict between my emotions and my ideals were so terrific, my health began to suffer.There were times as we sat at meals or read beside the library table after the baby was in bed when it seemed incredible to me that any human being could be in the same room with me and remain unconscious of the violence of my emotions.”

Wow. Having your caresses characterized as “revolting” is a little bit harsh.  This was when the national divorce rate seems to have been floating around the 15% mark. She goes on.
“Time was when I imagined myself in a unique position. But my mature opinion is that there are countless men and women who are disguising almost unbearable unhappiness beneath smiles that would put many a professional actor to shame.”

The piece continues for another, oh, 5700 words during which I got the feeling that maybe during those sickened, seething mealtimes and those  library reading periods full of repressed violence, that revolting husband of her’s might just have had just a teensy inkling of the way she felt. (Also that she must have been getting paid by the word.) Small wonder that the article is written without a by-line.

And where is she going with all this? Well, she does have a revelation in the last two paragraphs. But she isn’t headed to a tropical wonderland of giddy rediscovered romance or personal empowerment like she would be if she had written about her miserable fraudulent marriage to a man who sickened her for the women of 2009 . Here is where she winds up:

“My head to be sure is bloody and unlike the noble poets bowed. But my soul, thank heaven, has been mine to do with as I chose. And my soul and I have had some rare experiences during these strenuous years of glorified make believe. For every heart ache we’ve endured, every tear we’ve shed, every renunciation and unfulfilment that has been our portion, we’ve demanded big dividends and got them”. And what are those dividends, you may wonder. ” In the deepest pocket of our consciousness we carry the concealed making of a few more bonfires:  a bran cookie or two, an assortment of baubles guaranteed to make us stop our crying and a frayed and faded sense of humor. We carry these precisely as Grandmother carried her peppermint lozenges. ”

That woman must have had a hell of a recipe for bran cookies. Too bad she didn’t include it. I’d also like to know where I can buy a couple of packs of those lozenges.

Recovering List Idiot

Posted May 22nd, 2009
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blackberriesI compulsively read all those articles that boast “Ten new foods that burn belly fat .” I guess lots of people do and that’s why they make up so many new lists every month. Sometimes I think  its the same  bunch who  fabricate the belly flab lists and the “101 new ways to turn him on” lists that sell Women’s magazines. (As if  the 101 ways offered in the last issue  was just skimming the surface. Because, as anyone with a good sex life will tell you,  you quickly run through hundreds and hundreds of new ways every time you make love. So there you are, one month later… hundreds of ways all used up, just hoping and praying that someone will suggest a few hundred more ways as quickly as possible.) I guess everyone, like me, thinks that the people who write these lists must have thought of at least one new way to turn him on or burn belly flab,  simply to justify the list’s (and their own) very existence. (And that it wont just be “take a hot bubble bath.” or “Do some extra sit ups.” again. )And we would all be wrong.

Though let’s be honest: the magazines that feature those lists might be the only ones surviving the publication holocaust . Sex and Belly Flab seem to be  two topics about which no one can never have enough information.And while we’re being honest, you’d think that I would be a fully recovered list survivor by now, eschewing all lists on these topics. We’d both  be wrong about that too.Which brings me to the bag of blackberries in the picture. The other night at the gym I was compelled to read a current “ten new foods that burn belly flab.” list that mainly distinguished itself by miraculously transforming a simple old timey flab inducing glass of wine or chocolate sundae in to an amazing fat burning engine by merely adding  a few  simple Latin terms for chemical compounds. It kind of reminded me of the time I took my nephews in to Carl’s Junior for a burger and, in an effort to buy myself the low-cal thing, I perused their salad bar where, among the small aluminum containers of lettuce, onions, tomatos and cucumbers, I spotted a dish of chocolate pudding. I thought “That is absolutely brilliant. The chef who was able to get chocoloate pudding reclassified as a salad ingredient ought to be nominated for a Nobel Prize.”

But I digress. I came away from my list last night with the idea that I should try and eat more blackberries. I’ve read a few articles about berries in recent months that all claim assorted health benefits so yesterday when I was at the health food store I bought a bag of frozen blackberries.They were expensive but hey! I’m worth it! Then this morning I was reading the package and noticed that their big front-of-the-package claim boils down to ” “Diets containing foods like Cascadian Farm Blackberries that are low in saturated fats and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.” And I thought “So that’s the big calling card?  All they were able to claim on the package, next to the words Heart Healthy, was that the ingredients were low in saturated fat and cholesterol?  So is chewing gum. So are sugar cubes.  And tic tacs.And taco chips. And gummy bears.And composite board. And brake fluid.” It reminded me of an old Martin Mull parody about an exciting new cereal that “when you just add milk and fresh fruit has all the nutrition of milk and fresh fruit.” Or my favorite amazingly empty slogan, by Hostess: “Freshness never tasted so good.”

I really have to stop reading those lists.

God’s Smarter Brother

Posted May 16th, 2009
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I just got back from a vacation. I went with the man with whom I live and David Attenborough, who bobs around in my head all day and narrates anything that I encounter if it involves  natural beauty. If I were to invent a religion, I would center it around David Attenborough because he seems to be God’s smarter better intended brother. In his BBC documentaries he is everywhere and knows everything worth knowing. He is in the trees, under the seas, beneath the ice, and also somehow just in back of where millipedes or hedgehogs are mating. He is amazing. So I made a tribute. 

Because of David Attenborough, I shot this on a trail in Colorado. Caterpillar larvae were hatching. But I forgot to put my face in the shot. Damn.

What I did on my summer vacation.

Posted May 12th, 2009
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I just came back from a vacation. I don’t go on many vacations but damn, they are a good idea. I can see why they invented them. Here are six things from my vacation.beetle-space-museum




My biggest ‘thanks for nothing’ moments

Posted May 5th, 2009
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Well, I knew there would eventually be something I would like about aging . Swine flu is it. The LAST theoretical swine flu epidemic (at the cusp of the eighties) was my first official recorded WTF? moment. It was  when  I started keeping a list because after the panic over nothing much died down, along with the echoes of my resounding WTF?,  I began to wonder,” Does life not provide us with enough really scary stuff on a day to day basis that we need to do this for its entertainment value? Is it because we all watched too many horror movies when we were kids?”  I don’t really know. But I am referring now to the way that everyone embraces all these  WTF? moments like a hypochondriac reading through the Merck’s Manual, before there is any actual reason to take them on. After having lived through decades of BS at this point, I have come to the conclusion that the safest days of the year are the ones on which Nostradamus bestowed a prediction.

duct-tapeRemember orange alerts?  It wasn’t that long ago when we were all supposed to stock up on duct tape and sheet plastic. I remember thinking, even at the time, about how the duct tape manufacturers and distributors must have woken up to the most amazingly  bright “pinch-me-I’m-dreaming” kind of a morning . “Let’s quadruple production!” they must have all said, giddy with delight. How exciting to watch reams of duct tape flying off the shelves, only to watch the tape warehouse begin to overflow when, a month later, no one cared about duct tape any more.

There have been many many notable WTF? moments in my adult life: Sky Lab, The Comet Kahoutek, El Nino and La Nina,and SARS are just a few big obvious ones I remember  without having to work too hard. And by the way,  I am still waiting for someone to apologize to me for Y2K. After all the tension and hysteria that Y2K hysterics created ,(to the extent that I even bought some emergency supplies) where was the person who stepped forward afterward, when nothing at all happened, to say “Oops. I guess planes didn’t fall out of the sky and the electric grid didn’t shut down for a month. Sorry. My bad.”

And it is with this kind of stuff that the internet is definitely not our friend. Because as hard as the media hysterics beat the drum about Y2K, and the last swine flu, and Kahoutek, they didn’t come close to the sheer power of yelling fire in a crowded theatre that the internet can provide with even one single whisper. Not just headlines but google maps! Photos of empty airports! Photos of full airports!  Even while at the same time,on the same page, there were articles that mentioned that a regular flu season causes thousands of deaths. And that this flu doesnt seem to be any worse than the regular kind.

Forever chasing bottles.

Posted May 1st, 2009
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I made this little film  when I first learned how to edit. I still kind of like it. Especially the original sound track by Mr. Prieboy.  So put your hands together and welcome to our stage Puppyboy in “I’m Forever Chasing Bottles.”