Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

Archive for October 2010

Kant Be Wrong

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I’m considering raising my children to be inconsiderate, slothful ingrates. It’ll be so much easier for them to encounter the same values outside home as inside, and not face the confusion of inconsistent social standards.

This would obviously require owning a TV with antenna or cable, because there’s only so much rudeness that one set of parents can muster at a time; we’d have to outsource to accomplish our goal more efficiently. Fortunately, the experts on the lowest common denominator over at HBO, Fox and their ilk are more than willing to fill my kids’ brains and hearts with all the moral swill they can absorb.

But since the two TV units in our possession lack a connection to anything other than a VCR (purchased in 1999, and it still works!) or DVD player, and the number of objectionable titles we own is pitiful, the only course of action consistent with the values we aim to instill would involve stealing video cassettes or DVDs, or possibly illegally tapping into a neighbor’s cable or satellite stream. Granted, we could go down the dubious avenue of burning someone else’s movies to disks, but there’s enough moral equivocation about that that the kids might not get the wrong idea.

Since we would also try to inculcate laziness as a value, expending too much effort in obtaining access to media trash is out of the question. Which leaves us to find other ways of saturating the little dears in perversion.

Fortunately, a casual stroll down the street provides a good measure of bad influence: the well-mannered gentleman who so generously left his dog’s output at the entrance to the property next door apparently made a return visit, considering the fresh evidence that lies just to the left of the vintage material; litter festoons the street and many of the adjacent alleys and public gardens; cigarette butts lie where pedestrians and drivers alike have flicked them; drivers galore ignore traffic signals and signs, not to mention basic safety and consideration; car horns, instead of functioning as warning devices for safety purposes, have become vehicles of expression for messages such as, “The light turned green 0.000003 seconds ago! Hurry up!” and, “I have a horn. It is loud. Hear me toot. My horn speaks more elokwently than I can.”

The availability and convenience of myriad negative influences just outside our door provides reassurance that if we do decide to take the plunge – preferably when some old lady is passing by underneath – we need not expend very much effort at all in the process. I’d say wish me luck, but offering encouragement is not a value I want to encourage.

Written by Thag

October 31, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Don’t Get Cute

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Being such an unbiased observer, I should face no difficulty in asserting that my children are the cutest. After consulting with such experts as all four of their grandparents, the results defy contradiction (actually, the grandparents tried to get all diplomatic and claim that they find all of their grandchildren the cutest, not just ours, but come on).

Since uploading photos is far too much work for a busy guy such as yours truly, some non-visual evidence may be necessary to convince the lot of you – some of you who probably have children of your own, and therefore suffer from severe prejudice that renders you unable to face the objective truth: with all due respect to your children, or grandchildren, or godchildren, or whichever yung’uns you once found most attractive, they must all cede the honors to Thag’s quartet of cuteness. To wit:

– Does your eighteen-month-old think that “Hello,” means “Look! I’m wearing someone else’s shoes on my hands!”?
– Does your three-year-old wait to run to the toilet until she gets acknowledgement of her “Peepee!” announcement?
– Does your six-year-old  insist on a special pair of underwear to wear with his pajamas? Every single night until they get grungy or urine-soaked, whichever comes first?
– Does your nine-year-old think that on the top bunk bed with the lights on is a proper context for dancing around with nothing on?
– Do you have six kinds of jelly donuts? (Oops. Dunno how that one got in there. But I do know it is hard to type with one hand concealing my moustache).

I realize you may have vignettes that you think compare to the above, but you must come to terms with fact: you have no idea what you’re talking about. If you answer with a cute turn of phrase, I will merely recall our toddler’s tendency to throw everything he can find either into the street or the kitchen garbage can, possibly including his sister’s new dress shoes, which we cannot find. This fate resembles what we strongly suspect became of a missing boot, as well, though that one probably disappeared at the hand of a previous toddler. That, in turn, joins a number of objects whose vanishing likely occurred when our oldest still wore the size 4 diapers. Not that we’re naming names.

In any case, the grandparents, whose authority on the matter we invoked earlier, know from cuteness: they have a total of twenty-two, not counting various grandnieces and nephews and more distant relations upon whom to base their comparisons, all of whom could content in the World Series of Cuteness, a concept that makes me retch with such violence as to stun the pigeons nesting on our roof. Or so I wish. What kind of abusive, short-sighted parent would subject a kid to that kind of shallowness? Don’t answer that question – we know exactly what kind: the kind who would fake their kid’s disappearance just to get media attention; the kind who would enroll little Ashley in a little kids’ beauty pageant; the kind who would name their kid Ashley in the first place; the kind who thinks that imbuing heir children with the notion that the superficial is paramount does no harm. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you a generation of warped, maladjusted creeps (aka every single ninth grade class for fifteen years running, according to teachers I had).

You might think the previous paragraph would dissuade me from pressing the claim. On the contrary; I think that once the world sees for itself that in fact my children can out-cute anyone’s, they will cease to pursue their futile pursuit of the limelight, and focus on more constructive endeavors, such as warming up the planet. Unless they’re Tea Party devotees, in which case they’ll focus on denying that they’re warming up the planet.

So you see, this is not only a campaign for the unvarnished truth, but a selfless mission to reeducate humanity. Now that I’ve convinced you, feel free to express your support through PayPal. That “Send Payment” button is so irresistibly cute, isn’t it?

Written by Thag

October 30, 2010 at 8:38 pm

Homework as an Alien Idea

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Our six-year-old had had enough. The intensity of his displeasure became more and more evident, until finally he burst into tears and yelled, “I wanna do my homework!”

Absent any other information, this declaration should prompt any or all of the following courses of action:

– Demand DNA testing to verify whether this child in fact carries my genes.
– Take child immediately to a mental health professional or medical expert.
– Explode in hopeless laughter at the irony.
– Take advantage of this suddenly diligent person in order to get other unpleasant tasks done, such as cleaning the kids’ bathroom.
– Call his teacher and interrogate her as to what the hell she did to transform this infuriatingly stubborn/delightful child into a devoted student.
– Alert the authorities and news media to the first indisputable evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Of course this episode in context only serves to underline the delightful/infuriating thing he’s got going. Mrs. Thag worked pretty hard to persuade the guy to do his homework, and he set about it. He got so caught up in it that when his brother blurted out the final answer, that threatened his sense of order. He thus objected with growing vehemence until everyone acknowledged the bitter injustice and finally calmed him down.

My wife and I did manage to suppress our laughter, with mixed success (he did not appreciate it, even after we explained to him the humor). But damn. Even accounting for the psychological factors that set him off, I would never say such a thing. In general, he needs to have things done in a specific way or order, and any change to that order meets resistance – passivity, shrugging, ignoring, hostility, anger, or whichever reaction the fates deem appropriate (read: most unmanageable) at that moment.

I do wish I could record it. Than play it back for him whenever he claims not to like homework. But that might teach the aliens to improve their cover, and how would we detect them?

Written by Thag

October 29, 2010 at 11:27 am

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The City that Never Sleeps Despite Its Best Efforts

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If you’re ever sitting around waiting for the muse to strike (mine uses a fly swatter), all you need to do is sit by the front window of my house. You’ll overhear all the drama you want, and that doesn’t even include what happens with the neighbors.

Last night, for example, at about 1:30 in the morning, a police car loudspeaker informed all within earshot that a white Hyundai in front of number seven must be moved. I’m reasonably confident in our police force that the officer in question had not been roused from deep slumber in order to make this announcement, but surely he could not expect the vehicle’s owner to hear everything the first time around, considering the propensity people have – and I base this on three and a half decades of observing human behavior – to be fast asleep during the wee hours.

It appeared that one announcement sufficed, since we did not hear anything after that. But we do indeed have a Hyundai, which we tend to park in front of number seven, directly across the street (no parking on our side). So the details I managed to pick out of this explosion of words and sound (signifying nothing) certainly had me worried for the indeterminate fractions of a second before I processed the “white” and plate number that did not remotely resemble our own.

It also turns out that the number seven in question was the property right next door to the number seven in front of which we park our car. Not a 7A and 7B, but two discrete number sevens. If the Brainless One who tried to deliver our mail this summer had so much trouble with a straightforward twelve, I can’t imagine the trouble the two sevens gave him. Come to think of it, it’s likely he just delivered it all to the first one he saw, having been frightened off by the Beware of Dog sign that festoons the other. Of course they haven’t had a dog in at least six years, if ever. We certainly never saw one in all the time we’ve been here (almost six years, in case your cognitive skills resemble those of the Brainless One, which they might, considering your current choice of reading material). Then again, it’s also possible he thought Beware of Dog is actually the name of the family that inhabits the place, and they simply happened not to receive any mail at all the whole summer, even the electricity and water bills that everyone gets without exception.

But focusing all my energy on the months-old story of a hopeless nitwit cannot possibly be healthy. A good night’s sleep, on the other hand, has its benefits. So I’ve taken up this practice – and I highly recommend it to everyone who can manage it – of trying to sleep through the night. It took a couple of years to get the details of it down, but I can say that it’s been my default mode for a good thirty years now. But thanks to the driver of that white Hyundai, my health is in peril.

I think I know how he spent his summer.

 

Written by Thag

October 28, 2010 at 8:44 pm

Authoritarian

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All you first-time parents are just praying that some more experienced souls will swoop in and provide critical advice.

Like hell you are. We veteran parents know full well that unsolicited parenting advice, even from otherwise dear relatives, engenders a level of disgust usually reserved for oppressive dictators (unless you happen to be ultra-liberal, in which case the oppressive dictator is actually a noble warrior in the quest to free the developing world from the iron fist of American-Zionist-Capitalist-Globalist imperialism).

Nevertheless, at the risk of alienating people who wouldn’t read this anyway, I have compiled a list of children’s authors whose work comes highly recommended, along with a companion list of authors you would do well to avoid.

RECOMMENDED:                                               NOT RECOMMENDED:
Dr. Seuss                                                                Dr. Lecter
Helen Lester/Lynn Munsinger                     Hugh Hefner/Bob Guccione
Sandra Boynton                                                  Boy George
Mo Willems                                                           Mahmoud Ahmadinijad
Mercer Mayer                                                      Meyer Lansky
Maurice Sendak                                                  Philip Morris
Roald Dahl                                                            Leni Reifenstahl
Norton Juster                                                      Norman Bates
E. B. White                                                             D. H. Lawrence
Margaret Bloy Graham                                     Mike Tyson
A. A. Milne                                                            2 Live Crew
Shel Silverstein                                                    Gertrude Stein

I trust this list will hold you in good stea- hey, shouldn’t he be wearing a hat in this weather? He’ll catch cold! What kind of negligent parent are you?

Written by Thag

October 27, 2010 at 9:58 pm

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Allow Me to Make a Point (on My License)

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If a police officer pulls you over and approaches your vehicle, one of the worst things you can do is begin berating him in a most profane fashion.

Not that I have much experience in this department, mind you, since the only time I was ever pulled over was in the spring of 1999. Or possibly fall of 1998. Either way, it was quite some time ago. So you must take my advice with a grain or two of salt. Things might have changed in the intervening years; it’s possible police departments across the nation have reoriented themselves toward a more stoic model of law enforcement, actively encouraging their officers to welcome unprovoked, obscene epithets from suspects. It’s also possible gravity is an illusion, as well, and no one has told me.

In any case, I did not display the slightest bit of irreverence; in fact my show of contrition and ignorance somehow gave the state trooper the impression that I had borrowed the car from the mother of the youthful-looking front-seat passenger (my wife, who did not change her name when we married). I was far too ashamed to disabuse the trooper of this notion, which led him to let me of with what amounted to a fine and a warning for going 65 mph in a 45 mph zone.

It did not occur to me at the time, as you might imagine, to speed off as the cop walked over. That could not have ended well. Nor did I consider pretending I was armed and dangerous. These are not the kind of thrill I seek; stick me in front of a dangerously luscious chocolate fudge sundae instead.

But of course later, as I turned the events over and over in my head, I wondered what I could have done differently. Many thoughts came into my head, and I must admit none of them involved running the guy down as he approached on foot. Nor did I think I should have opened the conversation with questions about his mother’s fidelity to his father. I did consider whether it would have been wise to address the trooper in a foreign language, but I’m not so sure how that would turn out (in these parts, rumor has it that about twenty years ago, a foreign driver could dissuade a cop from giving him any trouble by opening the conversation with a cheerful, American accented, “I am a pencil!” in the local tongue; I dare you to try that in any country).

Of course the most reasonable position involves not speeding in the first place, but come on. What are all those numbers on the speedometer for? In the case of my four-cylinder minivan (you read that right), they’re clearly for decoration; the thing will start shaking, then stall, if the AC is on and I push it just above the highway speed limit. But if I ever get even stupider and drive a car that can go fast, remind me to practice my Klingon.

Written by Thag

October 27, 2010 at 3:59 pm

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Creed of the Toddler

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We’ve known each other for almost a year and a half now – my entire life. So I think it’s high time we straighten out some misconceptions you seem to have about the way the world works. Below you will find a delineation of my approach to life, and I hope you will adapt accordingly.

1. Adult crotches are for running into headfirst at maximum speed. My maximum speed might not be very high, but velocity is secondary in this case; the important thing is asserting my presence.

2. Hair, glasses, necklaces, earrings and noses constitute an invitation to grab and pull. Why would you allow me so close to them if you do not intend to bring them within my grasp?

3. My hands will roam where they damn well please while you are changing my diaper.

4. Just because you think a sharp knife is dangerous doesn’t mean I shall refrain from sucking on its blade.

5. Items on surfaces accessible by stepstool shall be summarily seized, given cursory examination and cast onto the floor. If they smash, they smash. Too bad about those two glasses, dude, but at least now we know your gravity still works.

6. We both know I can’t speak yet, beyond such useless exclamations as “hello” and “cat”. What you don’t seem to realize is that I purposely whine and cry to make you agonize over what’s wrong. You should see yourself go crazy trying to figure out what to do about my mood.

7. No, I do not yet possess the coordination to get the spoon or fork into my mouth on my own without losing its contents somewhere along the way, and yes, I insist on doing it myself.

8. I am fully aware that I am the cutest damn thing ever to crawl the Earth, and I press that advantage. Pamper me, peon.

9. It’s only you so-called grown-ups who reserve toilet paper for wiping tushies. In reality, TP is for unrolling, if possible down the steps.

10. Why don’t you big people ever play peekaboo with each other? It’s an absolute riot.

11. Since I don’t know how to sit still for very long, let alone read, books serve the same function as any other blunt object: whacking my sleeping older sister.

12. I cry when you pick me up from daycare because I’m trying to make up for all the crying you didn’t hear me doing while we were apart. I was having a great time; I just know you need your daily dose.

That will be all for now. It’s time for you to drop everything else and walk around holding me in an excruciatingly uncomfortable (for you) position until I fall asleep, and then hold that position for a further ten minutes before I will allow myself to be put down, if at all.

Written by Thag

October 26, 2010 at 10:00 pm

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Do I Really Have to Explain This?

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Let’s get this straight: I am NOT Hannah Montana.

I am not Betty Friedan. I am not Gloria Steinem. I am not the late George Steinbrenner. Nor, God help us, am I Geraldo Rivera. Is that clear?

I do apologize for the abruptness of the above, but you people really must have way too much spare time if you spend it ineptly trying to figure out the identity of a blogger whose obscurity makes the Wilkes-Barre Red Barons look positively world-renown. But for the sake of everyone’s sanity, let us establish the following points, easily proved from the context of the other one hundred sixteen posts:

1. I am male, age thirty-five. The prose, the persona, the mode of expression and myriad other pieces of evidence demonstrate that I am male. So all those imbeciles thinking I am really Michelle Obama pretending to be some guy halfway across the world can go jump in Lake Michigan.

2. I write with some frequency about my family and neighbors, all people bearing not the slightest resemblance to Chuck Norris.

3. People have in fact told me that I look like Pierce Brosnan, Bob Saget, Stephen Colbert and the late Tyrone Power, but I am none of those, especially not the last. Really, now: would Tyrone Power be blogging from the afterlife about the trivialities of life on the Mediterranean basin in the early twenty-first century? If you answered yes, stop reading right now and go soak your head in brine.

4. Although I do like baseball, my involvement with the professional level of the sport has consisted of buying oodles of baseball cards back in 1986. No, I am not Don Mattingly or Tony Gwynn. I did briefly consider being Stan Musial, but his family would have none of it.

5. I would never, ever voluntarily snack on radishes.

6. No one has ever threatened me with a four-foot zucchini. Sorry, you’ve got the wrong guy.

7. I have published an article or two in my life, but not a book contending that Franklin Delano Roosevelt was actually a squid.

8. The acting in Knight Rider was atrocious. Not that this has anything to do with misperceptions about me; I just wanted to make sure we all knew it.

9. There is no number nine.

I hope that clears everything up. Now if you’ll excuse me, I must return the call of my mother, George Soros.

Written by Thag

October 25, 2010 at 9:18 pm

The Fandom Menace

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Fans of small-market baseball teams have an advantage over the rest of humanity: they save countless valuable hours by not having to agonize over how far their team will advance in the postseason.

Philadelphia and Yankees fans, understandably frustrated with their teams’ high-priced talent coming to League Championship Series naught in six games, must now cope with a fall season bereft of local baseball hype. By contrast, Kansas City, Pittsburgh and Milwaukee seldom confront such a challenge (we shall omit, at least for the moment, the challenges they face in fine ethnic dining, not to mention a shortage of Elvis impersonators).

The New York generation that came of age in the nineties differs markedly from the one that preceded it (mine, in case you were keeping track), and I don’t mean even crappier taste in music (as if that were even possible after the seventies and eighties). No, the sole bright spot in New York baseball between 1979 and 1996 was the 1986 Mets. Oh sure, the Yankees made things exciting for a couple of years after Bucky Dent and Reggie Jackson and Thurmon Munson worked their October magic, but the decline was swift and bitter. Those 1986 Amazin’s constituted the only hope in a massive baseball championship drought that lasted, according to diehard fans, approximately three centuries. We feel for you, Cubs and Indians fans. Just not when our teams play against yours.

It must be even more difficult for fans of the Twins, whose small-market status means their streak of postseason appearances grows ever more precarious as their homegrown stars near free agency. All eight of Tampa Bay’s fans (it turns out one guy was mistakenly counted twice) have been shaking their heads for a couple of weeks now, wondering how long Carl Crawford will stick around before the Mets, Yankees or other moneyed franchise snatches him away.

Some measure of comfort exists in the Schadenfreude of the ousted Goliaths, of course, not to mention the tragically, comically inept bumblings of the Mets, on and off the field. And those plucky Giants and Rangers, who will play to a massive World Series audience of at least seventy-five people outside Texas and northern California.

So I’m undecided, all things being equal, whether I’d choose to become a fan of a small-market team. I might eventually reach a decision, though. Just wait till next year.

Written by Thag

October 24, 2010 at 9:59 pm

First We’ll Work on Mannered; Mild Comes Later

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The superhero inside me, just waiting to burst forth, received a dose of encouragement this morning when a friend commented that I looked like I had a secret superhero identity. This is not completely unexpected, since as kids, both my brothers’ looks prompted comparisons to Superman (I, on the other hand, had to settle for, “You look like that guy whose brothers look like Superman.”).

Since I’ve yet to decide, at age thirty-five, what I want to be when I grow up, superhero remains a possibility. Not a comic book superhero, mind you; those make for high drama, low-cut blouses and dubious moral rectitude. I prefer a more down-to-earth, practical type of vigilante, one that I think you will agree is sorely needed.

For example, last Saturday night, as Mrs. Thag and I were trying to unload the kids and belongings from the car, we saw and heard a neighbor confront a dog walker who let his pooch poop in the lot in front of their house (next to ours) and began walking away as if nothing were wrong. Though I didn’t catch the offender’s exact words, this woman felt sufficiently miffed at his response that, at a loss over how to handle such flagrant disregard, she called over her husband. At this point the jerk began leading his animal away, with the deposit still lying there. As he passed me, I remarked how considerate it was of him to leave his mess for others to clean up. “I’ll make messes wherever I want,” he barked as he continued, and followed with a threat of violence if I persisted.

Well, what’s a wiseacre to do but persist? “You’re so manly! Everyone can see how manly you are! We’re all so impressed!” He probably didn’t hear everything I directed his way as he went around the corner, but I felt I had done enough, under the circumstances, to defend the honor of the wronged.

But as a superhero, I could go the extra mile and mete out actual justice: my super speed and vision would track this scumbag home, where I would deposit his lost object, with interest, on his bed and/or dining room table.

Others who would feel the long, uh, arm of retribution: those who board the subway and stop in the doorway despite the space available further inside the car (they would find themselves removed to the very rear of the crowd); litterbugs (see above regarding the dog poop), with special treatment meted out to smokers who dispose of their butts in places other than ash trays (they will awake in the middle of the night to find those butts in their nostrils); drivers who neglect to make sure the intersection is clear before entering it, thus generating gridlock (car removed to somewhere inaccessible), as well as the drivers further back honking at those in the front to proceed into a not-yet-clear intersection (they will find their horns automatically administer an electric shock); parents who do not buckle their small children into car seats (videos and reports submitted to child welfare authorities); and drivers who exercise their right to freedom of expression by blasting “music” from their car stereos at a volume of eleven (strapped to a chair and forced to listen to Barry Manilow at half speed for eighteen hours at a time)(that may be a bit harsh, but not very).

Such a superhero would find his time constrained, considering the number of offenders whose violations of simple courtesy, not to mention safety, require this special kind of therapy. So I shall have to allocate specific hours during which to fight the rising tide of inhumanity. Morning and evening rush hours obviously top the list in terms of urgency, but a few late nights ought to take care of the other creeps.

That would leave me time to blog, as well. It’s a win-win situation. Unless you happen to be one of my readers.

Written by Thag

October 24, 2010 at 6:14 pm

What Ever Happened to Hans and Franz?

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Manly men do not cry. At least not when they’re sober. But of course manly men are by nature immune to alcohol, making sobriety irrelevant.

Manly men must shave at least twice a day to keep their facial hair from overpowering neighboring towns. And of course they use straight razors. And have no need for those effeminate lotions to treat sensitive or irritated skin.

Manly men grill. There might appear on the grill some vegetable matter, but only as a token display of aesthetics, or perhaps to impart some flavor to the meat.

Manly men have abundant chest hair. In some cases it may burst forth beyond an open collar, but manly men also know when to keep the external thoracic cilia concealed, lest it frighten women or children.

Manly men prefer to do things the physically difficult, but more direct, way. This somehow expresses a simplicity of spirit that they believe women will find appealing. Thus manly men will not ask for directions, especially in the presence of a woman. Manly men know; they have no need to ask.

Manly men minimize words. Manifest physical presence and an unmistakable air of dominance render verbal communication unnecessary.

Manly men bear pain in silence; acknowledging pain means conferring upon it existence, and manly men do not have time to feel pain.

Manly men drive only vehicles that suit their manliness. The type of vehicle may vary according to context: in the West, a pickup truck or stallion; on the west coast, a sleek, powerful sports car; in the Pacific Northwest, a Hummer; almost anywhere, a Harley-Davidson. Extra manliness might even involve a fighter jet or attack helicopter. Monster trucks appear manly, but in fact only weenies like monster trucks.

Once upon a time, only astronauts were manly men, but as early as 1986 even female schoolteachers could be killed in space shuttle disasters. Manly men clucked their disappointment at letting such a vulnerable half of the population get in harm’s way.

Manly men seek to protect women, even though the women concerned may not admit to needing or desiring that protection. Manly men know better than these women, and continue to protect them despite protest.

Manly men know how to use all sorts of power tools, weapons, explosive devices and complex machinery without reading a manual or receiving instruction.

Manly men engage in carpentry, construction, electrical work, law enforcement or professional sports.

Manly men do not so much display their rippling muscles as acknowledge that any attempt to conceal them would fail.

Manly men limit their expressions of affection for other males to high-fives, handshakes and butt-slaps following impressive athletic displays.

Manly men have bass or baritone voices, which they do not need to raise in order to be heard.

Manly men do not blog.

Written by Thag

October 23, 2010 at 9:08 pm

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With Friends Like These

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I apologize to my regular readership of about four humans and seventeen bots, who have probably come to expect at least some arrogance and cynicism in every post, for the forthcoming departure from the norm.

We just got back from one of the simplest celebrations we have ever attended – essentially a birthday party, but in fact a case study in the values that produce redemptive experiences.

I grew up in a highly stratified educational environment: each grade level at school kept to their own; it was vanishingly rare to fraternize with anyone older or younger, at least during school hours. Friendships therefore did not blossom between people of different ages, even if the older one deigned to acknowledge the younger’s presence.

This paradigm held true for most of my youth, though slightly less intensely during high school. Acquaintance was perfectly normal, but the actual cultivation of friendship with someone not in the same grade simply did not happen; it constituted such an anathema to the castes of the system that no one even dreamed of behaving otherwise. The wall of age played almost as important a role in defining the social environment as the economic litmus test: if you could afford the designer apparel of the moment, you were in, with dispensations for those with limited financial clout but abundant athletic ability.

Needless to say, I fit neither of those criteria (still don’t), and thus found my social circle limited not only to my grade level, but to my fellow outcasts within the grade level who made noises about not really caring what the popular kids were up to.

Fast forward to this evening. The close friends of the celebrant spanned an age range unheard of in the circles of friends I grew up knowing. The hugs, the kisses, the boundless, transparent joy demonstrated once and for all that not only is it possible to raise children without such social limitations; it borders on negligence not to actively foster such relationships.

It also helps that the community has the counterintuitive great fortune of limited economic means. The families invest not in portfolios, but in relationships, in people, in values. Lacking the latest gadgets and toys, three friends used their imaginations to create worlds of their own and grow bonds of friendship that have withstood intercontinental separation. The catering – all by friends and family – did not have to be fancy to suit the occasion. And the token elements of formality – dressier clothes; tablecloths; an actual schedule for the event – had presence just enough to lend a festive, significant aura to the occasion but no more, allowing the people, the emotions and the milestones to shine.

I remarked to my wife that I had never before seen a group of preteen and teenage girls with such blessed disregard for their chronological differences. Then, on the way home, a friend made the same observation – a friend who came of age in a vastly different place and time, Hungary of the 1950’s and 60’s, yet had the identical experience. Her remarks drove home (sorry) the special nature of the people involved.

Color me fortunate. And impressed. And quite happy to be here.

Written by Thag

October 21, 2010 at 10:59 pm

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Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer’s Eve?

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My dearest love,

You know I would never leave you. Nor would I introduce a letter to you with that idea, thereby calling to mind the dreaded possibility of our relationship’s end. Far be it from me to frighten you so. I so adore you, the very idea of somehow diminishing or ceasing that adoration is something I could only mention if it were possible for me to consider, and you can see how that remains inconceivable.

As a token of my undying affection for you, I have enclosed a handful of dried grass: just as the grass will remain in its undisturbed state, so too will my love for you obtain until our last physical vestiges are turned to compost by the soil’s bacteria. You will also find in this carefully wrapped parcel of my love two further tokens of my devotion: a painstakingly preserved specimen of camel excrement from the sands of sun-baked Arabia and the plaster cast of a Tibetan monk’s amputated left leg. The camel dung expresses as nothing else can the hope I have for the growth we can foster in this relationship; the cast, the distance I am willing to journey to be by your side even if you should ever become mute, lame and alien.

Be not perturbed, my angel, by rumors of dalliances or liaisons in my past or present; they are but distractions in this cesspool of powerful passion, and as false or irrelevant as a slug crawling through a rotting llama carcass, which slugs do not do. I would do so for you, however. In fact, darling, I did so not minutes ago as I prepared to write this letter, just knowing what such a display of dedication to you it constitutes. I shudder with excitement from your reaction to the thought that I wallowed in that muck immediately proximate to the loving caresses I gave this paper before sending it your way.

So be strong, love, and write back if possible. I shall rush to be by your sanitarium bedside as soon as circumstances permit.

All my love,

Thag

Written by Thag

October 21, 2010 at 2:02 pm

Thank you. I Feel So Much More Well Equipped Now.

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Things I have learned recently:

1. If you feel a sneeze coming, do not start brushing your teeth.

2. Stating instructions to a child under the age of ten any fewer than four times will not result in the instructions’ fulfillment.

3. A child’s sudden poop sometimes needs more than mere gravity to get down the bathtub drain.

4. Unless someone actually calls the proper people promptly, a dead cat will lie around for days at a time, stinking up the neighborhood in the record heat.

5. Occasional visitors will leave a note in the windshield asking the parking inspector for some consideration while they pay a bereavement visit, but will not grant similar consideration to the people who actually live on this street and need a place to park.

6. Nothing says, “I am getting old” like being unable to bend down comfortably.

7. It is ridiculously difficult to buy a gift for a tween girl.

8. It is impossible to focus on composing a blog post when one’s child is playing recorder, and every single note is slightly flat. Mozart would commit suicide, come back to life and kill himself again.

9. No ethnicity has a monopoly on people who board a subway car and immediately take up position in the doorway, thus constricting the flow of passengers in and out, but a certain gender does. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out that I mean males.

10. Guys think that if someone happened to see them pick their nose, that person will forget about it immediately.

11. No child under the age of six will accept the smaller piece, even if that child stands no chance of eating the whole thing.

12. The appeal of ketchup can only be explained through mystical means.

13. When preparing ice coffee, do not confuse the salt and sugar canisters.

Feel free to add lessons of your own. I have a mess to clean in the bathroom.

Written by Thag

October 20, 2010 at 9:16 pm

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I Am Driven to Comment

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Just like 100% of all other drivers, I consider myself a better than average driver: assertive only when absolutely necessary of course, cautious the vast majority of the time (as opposed to all those other idiots who somehow bribed or stumbled their way to a license), mindful of other drivers’ needs and good at anticipating others’ moves. Unlike the numskulls behind, in front and on either side of me.

Assertive when necessary: such as when it’s really trafficky and the extra four feet can make the difference between making it through the intersection one traffic signal cycle earlier, thereby gaining a full three minutes in my quest to reach the next traffic signal. But I do not enter an intersection unless it’s clear, even though my fair metropolis does not feature Manhattan’s famous “Do Not Block the Box” on penalty of fines and points. This generates many a car horn blaring to my rear (we shall refrain from noting explicitly which half of the species, without exception, favors me with the solo horn passage).

Cautious the vast majority of the time: that is, if you exclude the turn I have to make out of my street. I live on a one-way street off a major artery, and only a right turn is permitted onto that artery – a left turn requires crossing two lanes of right-bound traffic, then crossing a solid line, which any fool can tell you is a no-no. Well, no-no or not, if the best route to my destination lies to the left and the road is clear, I ain’t traveling the half-mile up the road, past two traffic lights in the wrong direction to the only place I can reverse course, a T-intersection with no traffic signal, just to travel back down the same road. If I have no choice, such as when traffic is heavy, I try to get into the left lane and make a K-turn somewhere along the way. Across the same solid line, of course. Hey, there are places on the other side where the sidewalk is clearly tapered for cars – that must be what they’re for.

Mindful of other drivers’ needs: no tongue-in-cheek comments here, actually. I don’t like speeding, so I tend to stay in the right lane on major roads, allowing countless befuddled others to pass. If I encounter someone ever more cautious (read: dodderingly slow), I have no choice but to pass, often shooting an icy look at the snail to my right in the process. I drive a four-cylinder minivan, so I have justification for not pushing it to hard. The sedan in front of me moving barely faster than a lame hippo? Take a bus, dude.

Good at anticipating others’ moves: such as whether the guy in front of me will try to make it through the yellow, so that I might also give it a go. You know, such as this past Friday when I thought he would and didn’t, and barely managed to brake hard and swerve into the fortunately empty adjacent lane. The kids thought it was so cool.

As a pedestrian, my considerations differ markedly. Whereas while driving in the left lane I know better than to infuriate the guy behind me by adhering to the posted speed limit – tempting as I find it, paternalistic nitwit that I am – I have few compunctions about stepping in front of a moving car, provided that car is not moving particularly fast. This happens with some frequency at the intersection up at the main artery: the more visible of the two traffic lights lies some distance past the pedestrian crosswalk, leading inattentive drivers to assume they may continue a bit farther on red (it doesn’t help that the first of the two signals, even with the crosswalk, has become somewhat obscured by a tree). The sense of triumph in causing a driver to stop suddenly and simultaneously flashing him or her a look of bewildered indignation, never gets old. And if I keep at it, I won’t, either.

Written by Thag

October 18, 2010 at 8:21 pm

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Preoccupied Territories

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This blog has been officially equated with Israeli settlements.

Unnamed parties have determined that Mightier Than the Pen is “not constructive.” In diplomatic parlance, that term has been employed to denote, “We really, really, don’t approve of your policy, but for the sake of continuing relations we shall refrain from terms that express active hostility to it.”

Does this mean that the United States Department of State will now engage in shuttle diplomacy to mediate between us? That would be cool. Do I get to choose which figure has to do all the running around? Can I get John Boehner, just so I can mispronounce his name in the most obviously offensive way? Does it matter that the State Department is part of the executive branch and Boehner is a member of Congress, so the former has no authority over the latter? Are more than two people still reading beyond this point?

The other party’s official negotiating position is that I should be doing things that do not involve merely sitting in front of a computer, typing drivel so nonsensical a drunken camel could do it better with half the effort. I beg to differ, naturally, as camels have not been shown to be compatible with the WordPress platform. Yaks, perhaps, but that’s not the claim. And we all know about that monkey-Shakespeare experiment. What a disaster (in case you were wondering, that’s how we ended up with all those other WordPress blogs).

My position, on the other hand, is hunched over before my keyboard. I do some posturing occasionally, but it’s bad for my back. Fortunately, this blog has never been accused of arson aimed at mosques in neighboring blogs, nor of uprooting, cutting down or poisoning olive trees belonging to the blog next door. You might surmise, as my accusers do, that it’s only a matter of time before this non-constructive use of time gives way to the next level of objectionability, “obstacle to peace.” You are entitled to that opinion, naturally, just as you are entitled to root for the Boston Red Sox; just because you have a wrongheaded opinion does not mean you may impose that opinion on others.

But let us for a moment imagine the way this blog would appear if in fact it did constitute an obstacle to peace.

I can’t, actually. Since my readership hovers around the four mark, with occasional spikes up to the twenties when the spam comment and referral bots get aroused (you’re welcome for planting that image in your head), this oeuvre exerts negligible impact on political affairs. Even if I engaged in wanton inflammatory rhetoric, such as asserting that American economic aid to the Palestinian Authority is tantamount to supporting 9/11 terrorists – thus betraying a level of ignorance so profound as to stun inanimate objects – no one would bat an eye.

So let me be “not constructive.” It keeps me off the streets. Lord knows the streets are better off that way.

Written by Thag

October 14, 2010 at 3:00 pm

None of Your Business

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There comes a time, my friends, when mere disregard for customer satisfaction is simply not enough. That time is now.

The challenge facing us has grown beyond basic alienation; the task at hand has become maltreatment so thorough as to take our potential customers to the very edge of bloodshed, and perhaps across it. Despite our valiant efforts over the last few months, people continue to visit this establishment, intending to purchase some of our wares and services – wares, I need not remind you, that we worked very hard to arrange on the shelves in as unattractive and inconvenient a manner as possible. Shelby and DuPont deserve special recognition for the creative use of obscene insults on the signs that people expect to use as guides to the contents of each aisle.

But we must do more, and I know we are capable of more – more sneering at people wasting our valuable time; more hiding inventory from its seekers; more feigned distraction and incompetence at the checkout counter; more spills and messes in front of the shelves.

So although we have made great strides in customer dissatisfaction, the time has come to get specific, to quantify our goals. So I present to you some hard numbers. Over the last few weeks we have kept track of a number of dissatisfaction metrics, with an eye toward just this sort of project. We now have the diagnostic tools to determine where our abusive practices are flourishing, and where they can stand some improvement.

I shall provide an example of each: We pride ourselves on the outdated posters in the window announcing special deals from the manufacturers – these posters sit exposed to the sun so long that they fade, and passersby must squint from up close to make out the contents. That level of accomplishment needs no explanation. We can do better, however: misspell words, leave out crucial price information, and gratuitously spill all manner of mysterious but disgusting substances on the paper.

So on to the numbers. I have divided our goals into three categories: overt maltreatment, strategic/tactical physical repulsion, and general inducement to vomit. Employees will receive a considerable bonus if they can accumulate more than ten instances per week, on average, of individual acts that fall into at least two of those categories. To illustrate, just yesterday I arrived to find a small crowd of people gathered outside the entrance after we opened. I loudly questioned their intelligence, parentage, fashion sense and dietary habits, all within less than a minute, and they departed, to a man. One even slipped in a grease puddle I had placed there before leaving the day before. This kind of initiative is exactly what I want each and every one of you to show.

We want to achieve at least four cases per day of customers storming out in a huff; fifteen people despairing of receiving service and just departing, with special emphasis on this event at the checkout counter; three messes or spills that end up on customer clothing; five requests to turn down the music – and thank you, by the way, to Ivanov, for putting together a repetitive DVD collection of Barry Manilow, AC/DC, John Cage and random selections from the very worst of Indonesian gamelan; and instigating at least two brawls between customers.

With your skilled help, my friends, we can do it. And we can do it with flair. To conclude, I wish to direct your attention to the sidewalk. Please, instead of applauding our achievements, let us build on them immediately. On the count of three, please rush outside and turn the fire hose on the people trying to comprehend the posters. One, two…

Written by Thag

October 13, 2010 at 3:41 pm

Guess Who Just Earned Some Enmity?

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Resolved: business establishments X and Y are worthless scum.

WHEREAS this past Friday, October 8, we did attempt to take several decorative items to be framed at business establishment X, and;

WHEREAS we arrived at the store approximately 9:25 a.m., and;

WHEREAS the hours posted on the door of the store indicated that the store was to open at 9:30 a.m., and;

WHEREAS we did wait the requisite five minutes, but no sign of the proprietor appeared, and;

WHEREAS we further waited another half hour before despairing of gaining access to business establishment X’s services that day, and;

WHEREAS we journeyed on foot for approximately ten minutes toward business establishment Y, thinking that perhaps the latter would in fact be open for business, and;

WHEREAS business establishment Y did in fact have posted hours for that day beginning 10:00 a.m., and;

WHEREAS we did arrive at business establishment Y at approximately 10:10 a.m., and;

WHEREAS we found business establishment Y still closed, and;

WHEREAS we waited another twenty minutes, to no avail, and;

WHEREAS we had with us a restless toddler the entire time;

THEREFORE we do hereby establish that the proprietors of business establishments X and Y have forfeited their right to be considered decent human beings, and henceforth shall be known as scum-of-the-earth lazy bastard retard worthless pig sloth moron jerk douchebag &$@!&*%$%@$ers.

SIGNED on this 11th day of October, 2010

Thag

Written by Thag

October 11, 2010 at 11:09 pm

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The Eleventh Commandment: Don’t Get Caught

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It’s too late at night to be posting, but since my wife is also awake I feel less guilty about staying up even later to post some nonsense. Because it’s only irresponsible if someone else says it is.

Take junk food. Take all the junk food you want, in fact; it’s only wrong if your mother or wife or boss or nutritionist or doctor or clergyman catches you at it (OK, maybe clergyman isn’t the best example, unless you happen to belong to the Our Lady of Emaciation Order of the Famished). Since no one’s looking, I promise, you can safely partake without guilt. Guilt, after all, only functions when someone else is affected. Your indulgence affects no one. As a matter of fact, your life insurance policy means that even if it does adversely affect someone close to you because if you ate yourself to death, they’ll still benefit! Unless the insurance company got smart and specifically included a clause indemnifying them in case of binge-related asphyxiation or somesuch. It would be just like those actuaries to think of that, wouldn’t it? That’s why I don’t bother with life insurance. If my survivors are going to suffer because I’ve died, let them really suffer! I want failure to be abject failure. The mediocrity in failure has got to stop.

Or take smoking. Take smoking somewhere else. You don’t see a peeing section in the municipal pool, do you? (props to the late George Carlin). Not that it would matter; the little piddlers don’t give a rat’s butt whether or not peeing is allowed. Nor do their parents, who pose the real problem. My recommendation: follow the guilty parties home and pee in their food. Let me know how that works out for you. But of course, with smoking, it’s a bit too easy to get caught: the stinky breath; the smoke-saturated furniture, rugs and clothes; the cigarette butts lying around like spent bullet casings, only more unpleasant to put in your mouth; the twice-a-year respiratory infections; the emphysema; the heart disease; the leprosy. What, you didn’t know smoking causes leprosy? It also causes impotence, AIDS, retroactive abortion and demonic possession. Or maybe it’s antismoking fanaticism that causes demonic possession. Or maybe vice versa. I need to ask my clergyman.

Written by Thag

October 8, 2010 at 12:21 am

Ad Absurdum

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My scientist wife brought to my attention the advertising campaign for a product said to combat aging: a topical cream that “rejuvenates the mitochondria.”

I have many, many mitochondria, as I’m sure you do; it’s been quite the trend among the cool living creatures for a billion years or so. The purveyors of this product would have us believe that as we get old, we lose vigor because, well, our mitochondria slow down. They would further have us attribute the sagging and wrinkling of skin to this supposed phenomenon. They would then have us believe that the product they sell can somehow stop or reverse this unproven phenomenon. Then they would have us believe that the mere topical application of whatever magical active ingredient it contains suffices to deliver said ingredient to all the mitochondria that are just limping along inside us after all these decades.

I am not a biologist, but I do possess a BS detector. You know how metal detectors trigger a beeping sound? My BS detector triggers a laughing sound. The more BS, the more laughter (reading coverage of major political party positions on all sorts of issues can get loud)(also, it’s a good thing I have the sound off on the detector when I blog). This one had the detector going nuts for several minutes. You know those patently contrived “before” and “after” pictures the various dietary, exercise and what-have-you shysters paste on their ads? This one featured a contrast between Droopy Faced Person and her evil nemesis, Wide-Eyed-Smile Freak. Amazingly, the contracted facial muscles of the latter caused the skin to become taut! How’d they do that? Must have been photoshopped!

My wife asked me how many less believable assertions I have ever encountered. A few seconds of thought produced the answer: quite a few. Among them:

– “Read my lips: no new taxes.”
– “My good friends, this is the second time in our history that there has come back from Germany to Downing Street peace with honor. I believe it is peace in our time.”
– “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Ms. Lewinsky.”
– “There are no homosexuals in Iran.”
– “I am not a crook.”
– “Do you…take this woman…in sickness and in health, etc. etc. till death do you part?” “I do.”

I am sure you could contribute many more examples; I certainly won’t stop you. In fact my starved ego gets much-needed validation with every non-spam comment (and I’m starting to crave the spam, too. I exist! Look, the spam comments prove it!).

Now if you’ll excuse me, I feel a cold coming on. I have to go take some zinc lozenges.

Written by Thag

October 6, 2010 at 1:18 pm

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Adding Injury to Idiocy

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This post will take a lot longer than usual to type, so please read slowly.

It hurts to type: I burned my thumb on the frying pan while making French toast, so my left hand has been more or less occupied with an ice pack for the last four or five hours. I have no idea how many words per minute I typically type, but I certainly can’t attain that pace with only one hand, especially when that hand is also charged with scratching itches, opening snacks and fishing phone, keys, pen and memory stick out of my pocket. My left pocket, of course. My right pocket holds my wallet, which carries nothing of value anyway. It just balances out the weight of my trousers so they don’t droop too much on the left, much in the way the airlines have to distribute the really fat people throughout the aircraft, thereby also achieving maximum annoyance of other passengers per square foot of cabin.

But just because I’m typing slowly doesn’t mean I’m not exerting myself. There’s a mosquito in here, so each time I catch a glimpse of it my right hand stops typing to reach for the swatter. The paranoid, frantic side-to-side head-turning I perform in a vain search for the elusive jerk not only entertains whoever happens to be looking in the window (probably just cats at the moment, and they’re used to chasing air molecules, so the movement should look familiar to them), but also burns crucial extra fractions of a calorie that can now be safely replenished with chocolate.

The good news for my finger is that the interval between ice removal and searing pain has grown from nanoseconds to up to half a minute, which allowed me to use the turn signal more or less normally on my way to and from meeting the boys’ teachers this evening; all I had to do was put my hand back on the ice pack in my lap. Attending the meeting with a wet lap was not the original plan, mind you, but I had already established myself as a freak when I introduced myself as my son’s mother (the other parents were kind enough to point out my mistake. What would we do without such helpful people?).

I also want to be helpful, so I’ll furnish this advice: If the bottle of oil happens to spill while you’re frying, and you must grab it to keep more oil from pouring out, do your best to make sure you grasp only the plastic bottle and not the unspeakably hot steel skillet edge.

Written by Thag

October 5, 2010 at 11:04 pm

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If I Had an Editor Like Him…

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Gabriel, Gabriel. We’ve been through this so many times already. Why do I have to keep explaining it?

I know you’re the one I sent to gather the information on My people, but please, hear me out just one more time, and I’m sure you’ll understand why My version of the commandments is more appropriate than yours. Let’s take them one by one.

1. “I am Theo, your God, who brought you out of Egypt, from Madame Chrissy’s House of Bondage.” I must say, while I like the way you think, and I fully appreciate the need to lower Myself and make Myself accessible to a people steeped in suffering and iniquity for generations, this is hardly the tone to strike right at the outset. Remember, this event we’ve got planned is supposed to blow the Israelites away with its awe-inspiring power and everlasting impact. It’s got to stay with them, really impress them. It certainly shouldn’t distract them from the main point. Now, I have been known to get distracted Myself from time to time, and amuse Myself with meteor impacts every few hundred million years, but really; that’s not what they’re here for. Unless they piss Me off again. Is that clear?

2. “I AM the boss of you, and the only one – don’t go pimping yourself out to other gods: no sculptures, idols, images – graven or otherwise – galactic whatchamacallits, subterranean doohickeys, or submarine-subterranean thingies; no bowing, serving or otherwise worshiping them, for I have jealousy issues, and I might take it out on you and your family – whereas I show mighty favoritism to My biggest fans.” Please, Gabriel, not every utterance has to carry some reference to sex; Freud won’t be around for a long time yet, and he’ll be mostly wrong anyway. And those Christians I told you about, down the line? They’ll do a fine job making sex appear both evil and all-pervasive without your help. Of course it’s all-pervasive; that’s the whole “Be fruitful and multiply” thing I said no less than three times in Genesis alone. Don’t get me started here, Gabriel. Just tone down the innuendo. And make things a bit more formal, not to mention precise with the language. I realize I made the thesaurus extinct after the last meteor impact, but use your vocabulary. Use effective words.

3. “Do not misuse My handle, yo, or I will get all crazy-like on your ass.” Please stop focusing so much on the vernacular. This encounter is about striving for improvement, for elevation. Asses are about the farthest thing from elevation, even once this Chosen People deal is completed. If you really want opportunities to use the word “ass,” remind me in about thirty-nine years to tell you the one about Balaam.

4. “That Sabbath thang. Keep it, cuz it be important to God. He worked hard. You work hard too, so you get to rest.” Speaking of thirty-nine, have I got some surprises waiting, but that’ll have to wait a few dozen generations – you ought to see what the Rabbis of the Talmud have in store. But that’s more or less my point – we’re not dealing with intellectual lightweights here, Gabriel. Give it to ’em straight, with all the necessary data: I created the world, you must emulate me by ceasing your creative activity on the seventh day, make sure your servants rest, blah blah; you know the details. Rewrite.

5. “Let Daddy watch the game in peace.” You’ve gotten ahead of yourself, Gabriel. Spectator sports are still crude at this stage in history, and you can forget about television for at least three thousand years – no, not even in the celestial lounge, Gabriel; it’s just a waste. Really, Gabriel, this envy you have of the later human generations is quite unbecoming – must I apply the tenth utterance to you, as well? Have I made Myself clear? Please stress the principle of honoring one’s parents, not a specific application of it for which you and your buddies have an affinity. Yes, I’ve seen you in the break room, playing foosball. I must admit your idea to use the Greek and Hindu gods as the pole-mounted figures was quite creative. But beside the point.

6. “Do not murder unless:
– some guy cut you off in traffic;
– someone looked at ‘your’ girl;
– someone dissed you in some way, however imagined;
– your will has been thwarted and someone‘s gonna pay.”

Gabriel, while you certainly have a grasp of what drives people to kill, what we’re aiming for here is not so much to give in to  base human drives as to channel them into constructive divine avenues. Murder is just out, period. Which doesn’t mean no one is allowed to feel like murdering. Which brings us to:

7. “Keep your cotton-pickin’ hands off someone else’s ho.” Not just “hos” Gabriel: all sexual immorality. Not sex itself, mind you – see above, number two – because people can accomplish great things through sex, and I don’t mean make people such as Larry Flynt very, very rich. No, you non-corporeal angels can’t really fathom that drive, can you? It takes a human. Or an omniscient, omnisensitive Being. Boy, We have it tough. In any case, keep it brief and all-encompassing. Too much detail leaves too much looking for loopholes, and if ever there was an area of My law in which people will want to find loopholes, you can bet your angelic, uh, ears that this is it.

8. “Keep your cotton-pickin’ hands off someone else’s property.” You’ve hit pretty close to the mark on this one, but it has to be tightened up. You might also want to work in the contextual denotation of kidnapping here. Trust Me.

9. “No person shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, yada yada yada.” You got lazy toward the end here, Gabriel; shame on you. I’ll grant that the US constitution owes a thing or two to this oeuvre we’re putting together, but this particular bit of jurisprudence is not what I hand in mind here. No perjury. Hope that’s not too  difficult for you.

10. “Do not covet anyone’s servants, women, stereo system, wheels, digs, machines, social position, baseball cards, comic books, DVD collection, musical instruments, access to information, hair, teeth, taste in clothes, ability to talk to the opposite sex, charisma, athleticism, salary, footwear, cellular phone plan, health coverage, retirement fund, landscaping, education or anything else not specifically excluded under the provisions of this agreement.” Good Me, Gabriel. You certainly tried to be thorough, I can see that. Just cut it down and remember we’re talking to Bronze Age desert nomads here.

That should do it for today, Gabriel. Have the new draft on My desk tomorrow, and we’ll try to finalize it in the next few days. Now if you’ll excuse Me, the Israelites are getting thirsty and restless, and the Amalekites are gnashing their teeth. This ought to be interesting.

Written by Thag

October 3, 2010 at 8:17 pm

Who Needs All Seven Deadly Sins?

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My wife and I had a discussion today about the seven deadly sins, and of which ones we could claim true ownership. Problem was, we couldn’t think of them all. We didn’t really care, which made us wonder whether Apathy was in the group, but not for very long.

Having no internet access at the time, and unsure of the exact source, we did the next best thing: ask someone. So I went and asked a friend (we still have some of those; when will they learn?), who rattled them off. Turns out we’d forgotten Envy and Wrath (so how come HE gets to remember all of them, and we can’t? That just makes me LIVID).

With this gap in our knowledge closed, we engaged anew in the discussion this evening. My wife feels certain she has mastered Gluttony and Sloth, and I know better than to argue with her. We agreed that while I can polish off a good meal or two with the best of them, she insisted that Gluttony remains her province, though she did allow me to share Sloth with her. I can also lay claim to Pride, Lust and Wrath, though not usually at once.

In fact, as the discussion bore out, our relationship seems to revolve mostly around Gluttony, even though, as stipulated, I must relinquish any title to it in her favor. For example, our dinner this evening consisted of a portion of what we call PMS pie: Oreo cookie crust; homemade Ben & Jerry’s chocolate peanut butter Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream as filling; hot fudge frozen over the top (we tell the kids that PMS stands for Pheed Me Some). To call this pie Heaven is to insult it. Yet I could not get through even a third of it (in my appetite’s defense, I am a good bit into a hefty head cold).

Such brain food features prominently in many of our tête-à-têtes, and many of the memorable moments in our relationship involve very good food (typical exchange: “What do you want for dinner?” “Steak.” “Me, too. But what can we afford to have for dinner?” “I dunno. Eggs?”). The first time I met her family, it resulted in my insinuating myself – unintentionally, I swear – into a family get-together at a grill restaurant. Several weeks after we started dating, she told me that her brothers, sisters-in-law and parents would be attending a book fair near me in Manhattan, followed by dinner at said grill, where Ms. Gluttony would join them. Not having met them, but dimly recalling from a photo what one brother looked like and how many children he had (two, very cute), I positioned myself where I had a good view of all people entering the facility. It didn’t take long, perhaps twenty minutes, before I spotted my quarry: a guy in a cowboy hat, with two adorable little children looking very much like the ones in the photo. I tailed them for a while, just to make sure, and got confirmation when the cowboy hat man left his offspring in the care of his mother: the spit and image of my sweetheart (mark the time and date: this has been the first, and likely the last, time that I ever refer to my wife using that term. My attitude toward pet names could not be clearer). I approached and admired the baby (he’s now nearly fifteen; just wow), then introduced myself. My interlocutor was not in the least surprised by my presence; I could see immediately where her daughter picked up that trait. So we made small talk, and the rest of the crew eventually gathered. Further introductions followed, and then her other brother – whom she likes to describe as the protective one, the one who, upon learning of my existence, I am told, railed against the little he knew about me – invited me to join them at the restaurant. She wasn’t in the least bit surprised to see me there upon her arrival.

We have plenty of other wonderful moments involving Sloth (as well as a fantasy or two – my parents have offered to take the kids for a night so the two of us can get away. It hasn’t been practical yet, but I think we’ll just spend the whole time sleeping), not to mention Pride (many of our conversations end by concluding that People Are Morons). Though you’d never have guessed that I have Pride from reading this blog, not at all. Now if you’ll excuse me, you little people, I must go finish some pie.

Written by Thag

October 2, 2010 at 9:56 pm