Monday, August 20, 2007

#584 Goodie Judgment

There’s an old saying that you can’t judge a book by its cover.
Yet most of us do.
And we do it everyday—unconsciously, pervasively, often with prejudice-before-thought.
We see a guy that’s dressed like a bum, we think bum. When a lady is dressed like a lady of the evening we assume she makes her living after dark.
Ethicists, moralists, and political correctivists bemoan this tendency, reminding us all that it’s the person not the packaging.
It seems they are wrong, and the lovely aphorism about book cover judging flies in the face of some basic human wiring. A fact that branding and marketing people know oh too well.
Scientists, those lovely people whose sole intent seems to be to rob life of some of its nicer mysteries, have recently demonstrated that children pick up packaging cues very early. And it not only influences their opinion, it influences a basic biological function—taste.
Children who were given healthy food rated its taste as being far better if it was wrapped in McDonald’s wrappers. That’s right, kids given milk and carrots responded to the taste better if the packaging told them they were Mc-milk and Mc-carrots.
And the reports were astonishingly high. In a study of 63 children, aged 3 to 5, tasting five pairs of identical foods and beverages, one in McDonald’s wrapping, one in unbranded packaging, 61 percent of the kids said they preferred the taste of the hypothetical McDonalds carrots.
Food and beverage marketing to children represents a 10 billion dollar industry in the US.
Apparently, it’s money well spent.
Some people conclude from this that if the fast food industry spent the same dollars to market healthful foods instead of high fat, calorie-dense food they might be able to improve kids’ nutrition instead of hurting it.
I doubt it. The studiers didn’t do one very important thing.
They didn’t compare carrots to french fries.
We may initially judge a book by its cover. We may even buy it. But that doesn’t mean we’ll get past the first chapter if it stinks.
Another basic truth: No one throws hamburgers at bad performers.
They throw vegetables.
America ya gotta love it

#583 Greasy Apple

When I was growing up it was different world. Safer in some ways—we seemed to have fewer sexual predators—but unsafer in others.
I used to work on the municipal pool crew. I was about eleven. We had to add alkali and chlorine to the pool. Not the pool’s pump system.
The actual pool.
We would take out a little sampler kit, add drops, and determine whether the ph was too acidic or basic. Then we would go get an old coffee can, fill it with either chlorine or alkali, and add it directly to the pool as we walked around its perimeter.
We would do it during operation hours too.
We’d just tell the little kids to swim back a ways.
It’s amazing how much the ph of a body of water can change based on how many bodies are in it. Of course, in those days the community pool was also pretty much the community bathtub.
In any event, when we added the chemicals, the stuff would splash back occasionally. I still have little white spots in my tan every summer where my skin was fried.
Back then, it was no problem having a job at the tender age of eleven as long as you observed the simple expedient of not getting paid. Cash that is.
We were allowed all the popsicles and candy we could eat. We kids thought we were in heaven. The pool manager, whose job we were doing, had slave labor eight hours a day for the price of a few Pushups and Frozen Snickers.
A different time.
It was a time when no one even questioned the inherently unsanitary aspects of, say, bobbing for apples.
And shampooing was more rare than bathing in the fifties. Greasy-headed kids were the norm.
Yet it somehow never occurred to us that plunging headfirst, and slavering and spitty mouth open, into a giant bucket to try to grab apples with our crusty teeth, might not be the best way to prevent the spread of childhood diseases.
I’m guessing if we’d called it “bobbing for head lice” the pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey with a rusty nail game would have had more takers.
America ya gotta love it

#582 Grid-icebox

The point of some advertising eludes me.
I’m holding in my hand a magnet. It’s intended to be on my refrigerator. I, in fact, just took it off my refrigerator.
When I acquired it from the mail, I put it on my refrigerator unconsciously, because it was obviously a refrigerator magnet. A real estate agent, a real estate agent who I have never met, sent it to me.
Why did he send me a refrigerator magnet?
Did he want me to be stuck on him when I next had a real estate need?
Did he want me to think that, like a refrigerator, he was cool, and therefore I should use him to help me buy or sell my next home?
The magnet part of the magnet is his business card. As he is a real estate guy, it of course has a picture of his smiling visage. He represents a company that I have never used.
The bottom part of the stick-up is a Seahawks football schedule. It is the chief reason I stuck the dang thing to my refrigerator—until this morning, when I asked myself if I really cared what the Seahawk schedule was.
Not to cut the knees out from under my perceived masculinity or anything, but I don’t.
Seahawk schmeahawk.
So there you have it. I don’t know the guy, I’ve never used his company, and I’ve never purchased anything remotely football-esque that would predispose my name to being on such a mailing list.
So why would this guy go to the extraordinary expense of sending me this refrigo-knickknack? I mean, name recognition is an important thing, but I’m pretty sure I’m not going to make my next real estate decision because I have a refrigerator magnet with some stranger’s face on it.
Usually I reserve my valuable refrigerator door display space for family pictures.
Maybe that’s the point.
Maybe he thinks that by having his picture mixed in with all of mine I’ll think he’s one of the family.
And I’ll pick him to list my house because I subconsciously think I remember us all chillin’ together.
America ya gotta love it

#581 Green Twisted Skittle

Looks and expectations can be deceiving. It doesn’t take much to change something from the ordinary to the mundane.
See, I just did it. With one little word, I changed a phrase into something that caught your attention. Your brain said, wait a minute—mundane and ordinary are the same thing!?!
I was mentioning to some woman the other day that she was stunning. She thanked me graciously and I followed it up by saying she was the type that turned heads. She smiled.
On a roll, I said, “Yeah, I’m the type that turns heads too, except with me it’s all the way around and then there’s, like, green vomit and stuff.”
That’s when I lost her. Her smile wilted quicker than lettuce in hot bacon grease.
It’s the rock and roller in me that seems intent on driving off the edge of the social cliff.
I like to take a little packet of Skittles when I’m going to parties on the off chance they’ll have an open bowl of M&Ms. Then I mix in the Skittles, walk away and watch for the first person to screw up his lips in alarm after cramming a bunch in his mouth.
If you keep the proportion low, people never catch on. It’s like getting a bad peanut in a handful of party nuts. You know the ones. Kind of powdery, with a little over-toasted metallic-y taste.
You aren’t sure if you crunched into a dry-roasted beetle or not.
Speaking of nuts, rock and roll, and looks being deceiving, isn’t it odd that the two most wholesome pop icons of the 80s ended up having the strangest lifestyles—Michael Jackson and George Michael.
Must be that Michael thing.
And I’m not talking about orientation, I’m talking about location. Neverland and public restrooms are not what mommy was thinking when she embraced “Wham” and pointed the finger of fear at Dee Snider and “Twisted Sister.”
The meanest-looking hair band guys actually turned out to be relatively decent human beings.
Maybe being a pop star drives you crazy.
Maybe it takes that rock and roll “we’re not gonna take it” stuff to exorcise your demons.
It turned my head.
America ya gotta love it

#580 Gesturing Bottle

After yesterday’s essay about bottled water, I was awash in comments. The consensus seemed to be Tumwater filtered tap water was better anyhow, so why bother. And that it would be easier to drink tap water and donate the money directly to cancer research.
I am heartily in concurrence with the aforementioned approaches. However, they ignore the biggest and, I think, most persuasive reason why bottled water has achieved its ubiquity.
The fiddle factor.
Yes the fiddle factor, that strange proclivity of nervous-jervous human beings to need something to mess with—to gesture with, to dink with when conversation lags or they need to look busy doing something, to fiddle with.
Jerry Seinfield was the first to recognize the fiddle factor power of bottled water. He used it for “action.”
Action is what actor types use to create meaningful pauses, both dramatic and comedic.
Action can put quote marks around spoken words. Punctuate them with meaning. Contrast these too sentences: My girlfriend and I were enjoying porkchops the other day; to, my girlfriend and I were...”enjoying porkchops” the other day.
See how the pause in the second sentence amplifies an imaginary meaning of your own creation. That space allows the mind to roam and invest emotion in the circumstance at hand.
That’s why dramatists use it, and especially why comedians do. Seinfield knew that it could make his ordinary show about ordinary things extraordinary.
In the old days, action was achieved by the use of the cigarette. Blowing and puffing and lighting and flicking, each stylized motion punctuating the dialogue.
And that’s how we use bottled water in ordinary life in smoke-free America today. Pointing with it. Screwing and unscrewing the top. Whetting our whistle when we’re ready to whisper.
It’s not the water after all. It’s the bottle—and our need to have something to fiddle with when the conversational going gets tough. When it feels like you’re a helpless babe in the social woods.
Schmoozing is hard and dangerous work.
When you need comfort, there’s nothing in the world like having an adult—“baba.”
America ya gotta love it

#579 Great Water

So I’m drinking a bottle of water the other day.
Actually, I was drinking from a bottle of water. If I were drinking the bottle, the plastic would constipate me for a week.
I’m totally conflicted when it comes to small bottles of water. They are infinitely better than small bottles of Coke for my personal health, but my mouth goes all dry with dread when I contemplate the environmental damage of gajillions of plastic bottles littering the earth.
The label on the water says Athena. And that they donate all the profits from the water to breast cancer research. A good thing, must be a lot of profit in water, so a lot of money must be going to research.
The bottle in my hand is 16.9 fluid ounces. It sells for about a buck. My latest water bill just came in and I paid 11 bucks for 400 cubic feet of water.
I went to Google, typed in “conversion tool” and up came a handy converter. I typed in 400 cubic feet, converted it to ounces and the result was roughly 383,003. Divide that by 16.9 and I could fill up 22,663 bottles from my home for 11 bucks.
Put another way, each bottle contains a nickel’s worth of water.
Profits are looking good.
But I looked at the label closer. This is no ordinary tap water. It contains minerals. Although the nutrition panel disclaims that the water is not a significant source of these minerals, it does have potassium bicarbonate, sodium bicarbonate, magnesium chloride and calcium chloride. Translation: salt and alka seltzer.
But not significantly.
The nutrition label also goes on to list that the water has no—excuse me—0%, calories, fat, sodium, total carbs, and protein.
I’m so comforted. Water has no fat or protein.
And bonus, in addition to having no fat, it’s also not a “significant” source of trans fat. Go figure.
Nutrition labels are another scourge on the environment. Why waste all that ink and paper itemizing nothing?
In any event. If I buy water, I’ll probably buy this one. If they really are donating all their profits, you don’t have to spring full grown from the head of Zeus to realize they’ll have lot to give.
America ya gotta love it

Friday, August 10, 2007

#578 Positive Feelings

Turns out you were right.
Or maybe your gut was.
Recently, when they asked a top government official why he thought terrorism was getting worse, he said it was his gut feeling.
Humorists had a field day, proposing a new terror alert system that, instead of the now too familiar red, yellow, and magenta, would include such designations as gassy, bloated and, possibly, bilious.
It is unfortunate that the terms for emotional certainty must always have something to do with internal organs and glands. Having a gut feeling and feeling something in your heart remove some of the matter of fact objectivity you expect from something arrived at by rational processes in the brain.
Somehow, certainty arrived at by lower organs and appendages never can match that whole snooty-tooty brain deal.
But hey. Emotions come from the brain too.
And in some instances they are actually faster. Faster because it’s important to your survival whether or not you recognize and react to danger. Knowing the difference between a giant spider and a wad of tape is important.
Even if you haven’t quite consciously decided which it is before you jump out of the way.
Garden hoses and garter snakes may be equally innocuous. But snake recognition bypasses rational processes and causes me to leap and a scream like a little girl because, you know, possible poisonous fangs and stuff.
And recently tests have proven that one of those things we call intuition is actually recognition. So high-speed it seems like Matrix-type slow-mo recognition.
For years, people have had “feelings” about other people that they couldn’t quite place. But they would react to those feelings anyhow—not trust someone or be overly cautious. It was chalked up to intuition.
But science has proven it’s ultra-rapid expression recognition. Largely unconscious mental machinery in action. Tests show brain areas involved in emotion will respond to angry faces that are briefly presented then rapidly masked, even when subjects are unaware of having seen the angry face.
That recognition causes a little squirt of your stress glands and an involuntary contraction of your digestive tract. Guess what? Your brain triggers a gut feeling.
So that guy you thought was a jerk? You were right.
America ya gotta love it

#577 Party on Finland

You think you have it bad.
You could be living in Finland. Sometimes I think it might be cool to live in Midnight Sun-land grazing with the reindeer.
But not often.
Recently I read how Finland was the top nation in the world for cellphone ownership. Which I guess makes sense for a country whose main manufacturing claim to fame is Nokia.
As has been proven in underdeveloped third world countries, cellphone towers are a lot cheaper to build than infinite miles of phone cables. Permafrost is a real bear for laying cable. No wonder the wireless revolution found Finland at its heart.
Still, as they say, you can take a boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.
Or as we say around here: You can’t take the Okey out of Hoquiam.
A sure way to tell about a place is the types of celebrations and festivals their people have. We have Lakefair. Although many see it as the annual gene pool stirring for our outlying communities of Bucoda, Oakville and Pe Ell, it’s still ours and we love it.
Finland has the annual Mobile Phone Throwing Contest. Mobile indeed. Points are given for aesthetics and choreography. Apparently, frustration over missed calls and dropouts is universal. And it’s natural to stylize those things that aggravate us the most.
Witness the human body’s response to disco music.
But Finland ain’t all that modern. It’s also the proud retro-chauvinistic host of the Wife-Carrying World Championships. Forty men race through 250 meters of obstacles, including a pool, each carrying his wife. The winner gets her weight in beer. More people would enter, but one of the obstacles is carrying the wife’s shopping bags in Finland’s only mall.
Perhaps that explains the many Finlanders who choose to take part in Pamplona’s annual running of the bulls instead.
Speaking of which, maybe it’s a northern climate thing. Because in Montana, on August 1 through 7, they have the Annual Testicle Festival, where 15,000 cowboys go n--, um, crazy, and consume 2.5 tons of former bulls’ prairie oysters.
I guess, in perspective, Finland ain’t that bad.
America ya gotta love it

#576 Powdered Nose

The trick to being a humorist is to be an idiot.
The other day I went into this store called the Blind Depot. Inside there was just a bunch of canes and dog harnesses and stuff.
Just kidding. There were window treatments.
But still. I’m thinking there has to be a better name.
All my life certain things have ended up being funny because my observations were first twisted—on the way in. My perception skills are somehow fundamentally flawed.
There was this sign at a tire dealer and it said Gas Shocks. My first thought was. Yeah, especially in mixed company. I got out my camera and filmed it and a TV show that ran 13 years was born.
I’m not sure when my dysfunction started but it was probably when I was a kid. I took things too literally.
I remember my Grandmother excusing herself from the table at a restaurant and muttering quietly that she had to go powder her nose. When she returned I shouted out like all five year olds: “Grandma, your nose still looks shiny. Where’s the powder?”
My grandmother was mortified. My parents laughed until they cried and the whole thing had me mystified. Then I got in trouble because no one would tell me what was funny and I kept yammering on and on about it.
I had a similar problem when at a later restaurant excursion my dad said he had to go talk to a man about a racehorse.
You can imagine my little kid disappointment when he returned to the table empty-handed. I put my foot in it again and asked loudly whether the man was going to sell us a racehorse.
It got another big laugh—this time from the table next to ours.
My dad just shrugged his shoulders good-naturedly.
On a roll, I then pointed out that his barn door was open.
At that point, equestrian topics were suddenly dropped.
My mom shushed me, my dad turned red and I was left to apply my tender young brain to the contemplation of the ups and downs of comedy.
Even today, I can’t see a racehorse with a powdered nose without laughing out loud.
America ya gotta love it

#575 Pro-Dirt

So I was reading this article about the health benefits of dirt. There’s a pretty big body of science now that supports the notion that the reason we have so many allergies and asthma and stuff is because our immune system hyper-reacts to nothing.
Modern people are too hygienic.
In the old days, kids were exposed to more dirt and filth and their young immune systems had something to fight. Not big somethings—little innocuous bugs they could handle.
Like a lioness bringing a half-killed hyena pup to her cubs, dirty young people’s immune systems had something to cut their teeth on. Without it, the immune system goes wild and overreacts to things like pollen and dust mites and peanuts.
One of the half-killed hyenas is a bacterium called mycobacterium vaccae.
It’s in dirt.
When I was a young lad, we lived on a piece of land that had a lot of dirt. And we built mud forts and elaborate dirt battlefields for our little plastic army men. It was one of the happiest times in my life.
Now I know why.
Turns out myco vaccae also causes an effect not unlike Prozac. It starts an immune reaction that releases cytokines in your blood, which can in turn trigger serotonin-producing receptors in your brain.
You get high on dirt.
These bacteria are everywhere in the wild. And you can get a fix by taking a walk in the forest or digging around in your flower beds or even eating lettuce or carrots yanked from the garden. (Store produce may have pesticides that kill the bacteria and eventually you.)
Naturally, medical science and drug companies are hard at work producing an unnatural pill form of these bacteria. I wouldn’t be surprised if prescription dirt was right around the corner.
“You can feel like you’re in heaven when you’re really down to earth. New from Glaxo-Smith-Kline—Dirt-zac.”
“Seeing the light can feel so good. Pfizer, your one source for Well-hole-Butrin.”
“Your mood won’t be murky with Soil-a-triptyline by Merck.”
It’s a dirty crying shame, but it’ll happen, because most Americans would rather not soil their French manicures in the real stuff.
Dirt-pills are coming. You heard it here first.
America ya gotta love it

#574 Possession

Some times life isn’t fair.
Lindsay Lohan was found intoxicated again.
This after a magazine article quoted Lohan as saying that she would volunteer to wear an alcohol detection bracelet in case there was any question when she went out dancing. Authorities applauded her candor, her forthrightness and, as it turned out, her chutzpah.
Days later, she was back in the slammer.
Perhaps this is some sort of rivalry she has going between her and the hotel brat—who can do the most time for the same crime. Because all of this occurred only two weeks after Lohan was released from a Malibu rehab center.
So does she get her money back on this rehab thing? ‘Cause it seems like these Malibu rehab centers never quite stick.
If I was offering a service that consistently failed, I think people might stop using me. Imagine a gas station attendant that repeatedly failed to put the nozzle in the right place. Or a pizza joint that never delivered your pie.
I think I’ll make “Malibu Rehab” a code word for failure.
“What’s that clunky noise?” Didn’t your car just get fixed?
“Yeah, I know, looks like I took it in for Malibu Rehab.”
“Your computer crashed again? I thought you had it worked on.”
“Me too. Guess it was just a Malibu Rehab.”
The sad thing is, when Lindsay was arrested, she was also found to have a white substance on her that tested positive for opiates.
So listen to what she was charged with when they booked her at the police station: 2 counts of driving under the influence, possession of a controlled substance, driving with a suspended license, and bringing a controlled substance into a police facility.
That really seems unfair. It’s not like she voluntarily walked into the jail with cocaine. She, and the drugs, were brought there against her will.
Lindsay Lohan has a serious problem. I hope she gets some real help.
It always hurts to see fabulously rich people tarnishing the American Dream. How are the rest of us going to believe money buys happiness?
If that belief shatters, our economy will fail quicker than a Malibu Rehab.
America ya gotta love it

Friday, August 03, 2007

#573 Privacy Chipped Away

Not long ago I did an article in which I jokingly mentioned chipping seniors.
May I say first that the shortened word “chipping” for the implantation of microchips into living beings sounds unfortunately like we intend to make them into beauty bark?
I’m wishing language had evolved differently.
Be that as it may, chipping the elderly seemed like a funny but actually practical idea. We chip dumb animals, why not animals who have forgotten how to speak?
Well yesterday, there was this huge four-page article on AP about a company who had done just that. Micro-chipped people. But the people it had micro-chipped were employees who were the only ones they wanted to have access to a particular vault.
Privacy rights organizations were outraged.
The company defended itself, saying the chipped employees were volunteers and no privacy rights were violated.
How many times have you been asked to “volunteer” for something in a corporate environment where the implication was very clear that if you didn’t volunteer for it you would be volunteering to stand in the unemployment line?
Excuse me, volunteer to facilitate the next workforce restructuring by initiating a personal exit strategy.
Microchips only have a discrete code number on them. They are not yet sophisticated enough to include GPS or other locaters.
But the number is enough. Readers posted on the street could see you walking by. Sophisticated computer software could process your movements.
The funny thing is, years ago I figured it would be bar codes. We’d all get a barcode tattooed to our forehead and use it for everything from debit transactions to discounts on merchandise. I said the barcode would be the Biblical Revelation mark of the beast.
Religious groups today are saying the same thing about the microchip.
It is a permanent mark.
Because once you get chipped, it’s really hard to get unchipped. The tiny glass cylinder works its way into your muscles and tissue and gets progressively more difficult to remove. A painful operation is required.
Like having a glass splinter taken out.
When I was a kid, they did that. It hurt. I needed someone to hold my hand¾so I asked my big brother.
America ya gotta love it

#572 Polaroid

Some things don’t fit. Sometimes it’s just because they don’t fit anymore.
The other day I was telling someone about a joke. At the end, the guy didn’t get it. So I called it a Polaroid joke because it was one of those that takes a while to develop. All us comics on the circuit used to call them that 20 years ago.
The young person I was telling it to looked even more blank.
At first I thought it was because it was a Polaroid joke that it was a Polaroid joke. Then I realized it was because he totally missed the cultural reference.
I was the idiot.
Why would a young person know about Polaroid cameras here in the digital revolution? With snapshot cellphones and megapixel cameras you can download and print on your computer, who the heck needs a Polarioid?
These days Polaroid cameras are about as incongruous as typewriter correcto-ribbon.
If anything, Polaroid sounds like some new sub-zero removal technique for hemorrhoids.
Or possibly frozen steroid supplements.
Or that swollen hole in the ozone layer in Antarctica.
I wished I had a Polaroid the other day though. This business I know is installing a security system. Cameras and all that. I thought it was a good idea.
Till I saw the van the security company had parked outside and two of the security installer people with wire snippers and wires and stuff in their hands.
The disconcerting thing was, one of the security people had on a bright orange t-shirt. Prison orange I think you call it.
And the T-shirt had these words on it: Psych Ward.
With numbers underneath it that proclaimed inmate status therein.
Sometimes I think companies ought to have a dress code. That’s what putting personnel in uniforms is all about. Instill a sense of confidence in your clients by looking neat and professional.
And, not incidentally, heading off inappropriate fashion choices that show that sometimes, some people, for some reason, just don’t have clue.
Let’s see, I work for a “security” company. I think I’ll wear my psych ward T-shirt today.
Crazy, dude.
America ya gotta love it

#571 Party-pooper

At some point I guess I crossed over that threshold of age into what I always abhorred in my parents.
I became a party-pooper, a fuddy-duddy. Perhaps it happened when I had a kid of my own. All those romping and crazy good times of my youth evaporated into the phrase, “lucky I survived.”
I once emceed an event and really connected with the youth involved because I tried to get the crowd to go wild. At another event a couple of nights later, I tried to get the crowd to simmer down. A youth called out that I sucked.
From hero to goat.
The difference was, in the event that I sucked, I had to exercise some authority lest the invulnerable youth involved got hurt.
The fact that they didn’t care whether they got hurt was beside the point.
I cared because I foresaw that their parents—should serious injury actually occur—would jump in with a team of lawyers and put my organization through a legal moshpit. One that would leave us smarting in areas where the sun may not but colonoscopies normally do shine.
And the funny thing was, the actions I was preventing—slam dancing, stage diving and crowd surfing—were actually actions I wouldn’t mind doing.
I remember a game we played in college called “dinosaur,” which was a definite precursor of slam dancing¾a big, mass, semi-violent banging together of bodies that was painful but oddly satisfying.
Not satisfying in the way you’re thinking, but satisfying in a sense of connectedness. Of being part of something larger than myself.
A feeling that alienated, angst-ridden youth rarely enjoy.
Sure, stage diving is dangerous. But so are Mount Everest climbing and bungee jumping. Why should one be more socially acceptable than another?
And I suppose the answer is that the spontaneity of stage diving renders it liable to litigation. No forms are signed. No releases of liability.
And that, in a nutshell, is the adult world. Planning for failure. Looking for disaster. What the youth condemn as our “negativity.”
Maturity is, in a word, seeing it before you step in it.
Welcome to the slow-walking land of the fuddy-duddy.
America ya gotta love it

#570 Popping Noises

Sometimes I feel out of touch. A natural condition of age—you’re not quite sure about the younger species.
It’s a truism that the duty of every generation is to be as inexplicable as possible to the one immediately preceding it. But I thought as I got older I’d come around again.
Maybe if I was lucky, remember my own hormone-infused and confused years and be more sympathetic to the self-centeredness of youth. Revel in my space.
Sometimes kids are full of themselves. Like the news of this teenager in Germany.
Apparently he was in the intensive care ward and the incessant beeping of the life support machinery of the patient in the next cubicle was too loud and annoying.
So he unplugged it.
Fortunately, a nurse caught the situation before the guy died. The teenager had rolled over and gone back to sleep.
His space was quiet.
But I felt really old when I was emceeing a talent competition recently, and this teenager came up and said he was going to beatbox.
I thought he meant some sort of martial art thing. Some dancing to tae bo like in that Train song about dropping in on Jupiter.
But no.
It was spitting into a microphone.
I feel so out of touch. Spitting into a microphone is a talent?
And it is. This kid was awesome. He had the crowd mesmerized as he went through a variety of vocal contortions that made the place fill with pops and clicks and trills and percussive licks that totally belied the fact it was just a kid and a microphone.
He could have been a dolphin.
So I’m thinking maybe I should go to one of those somebody spaces everybody is talking about so I could get hep to that jive, man.
I don’t have a space of my own. The whole notion of myspace seems a little self-indulgent to guy who grew up in a small house with 3 siblings.
Can I just go to the web and vicariously live on someone else’s space? Or find a site with a gang of people and maybe lose myself in the crowd on theirspace?
That would be keen.
America ya gotta love it

#569 Peristalsis

Eating and drinking have spawned a lot of mystifying words over the centuries. Did you know the scientific word for swallowing is peristalsis?
How about the word chugalug? You’ve heard it. I’ve heard it.
It’s defined in the Merriam Webster online dictionary as “to drink a container without stopping—to guzzle.”
To guzzle.
I love it when they define one semi-nonsense word with another one. Pardon me, old chap, would you like to stroll down to the pub and chugalug… or guzzle some liquid refreshment?
I’m still a little unsure as to its origins. Couldn’t find it in the online etymological dictionary. I think I get chug. It kind of sounds like drinking, especially the repeated swallowing noises one makes while drinking a container-load of something.
I’m chugging a beer sounds manly and muscular, in a throat muscle sort of way.
But lug? A lug of beer? When we were growing up, we sold apricots and grapes in wooden slat containers we called lugs. They were a little porous for beer.
Otherwise, lug means to pull or carry. He was lugging a heavy weight. So chugging a carry doesn’t make sense. But again, chugging can mean the sound a train makes when it’s struggling up a hill, and it may be struggling because it’s lugging a heavy load.
And, you know, drinking an entire pitcher of beer in one pull is a lot like that macho trainload pulling-up thing.
Train. Chugging up. Up chugging. Hmm...
Then there’s the word “mouthwatering.” I use it. Everyone uses it. And we use it to describe food that’s really tantalizing and delicious.
But really, what are we saying here? To say something is mouthwatering is to say it produces spit.
Yep, spit. Sputum. Spew.
My, that food is good. It made me produce a mouthful of sputum.
Thank you, ma’am, for a wonderful meal. You can tell the reverend his wife makes food that really makes me want to spit.
You haven’t lived till you’ve had McDonald’s spit-producing quarter-pounder.
That beer looks like it tastes so good, before I can drink it I’ll have to chugalug a mouthful of spit.
America ya gotta love it