Monday, November 26, 2007

Retroactively Asserting Your Senility

Risk of sedan falling over airplane tail onto grimace?


Ever notice the growth industry in Abraham Lincoln Revisionism? You can even invest pre-tax dollars through TIAA-CREF's Honest Abe Debenture. If you'd speculated last year on Honest Abe's sexuality, co-morbid disorders, and favorite plywood techniques, you'd be "swimming in the calories," so to speak. There is talk that Lincoln carried a rare genetic disorder that he was dying from -- John Wilkes Booth or not. Go figure. Every president, I'd imagine, has had his Booth, even as some Booths were not successful. Kennedy, of course, succumbed to his assassin's bullet, whereas President Reagan survived an attempt on his life, as did Jimmy Carter, who was attacked by a fierce rabbit, whilst fishing. He should've known better, as Minutemen of Plains, Ga., lit two lamps, to signify a fierce rabbit attack by sea. The rabbit was nevertheless repelled by frantic paddling (of the water) -- and, thinking it appropriate for politics, Carter tried to defeat Reagan in the same way, with an oar. "There you go again," replied a sad Reagan, in their televised debate, referring to the oar-wielding Carter. The rest is American political history.

Perhaps there should be a sign at the edge of Carter's lake that features a fierce rabbit. Perhaps one such sign should be featured at the Democratic National Committee Headquarters, with a caption underneath that reads: Lepus Maximus. Night of the Lepus, for those of you who don't keep up with the classics, was a feature film that starred nuclear-age rabbits. Also starred DeForrest Kelly (Bones on Star Trek) and Janet Leigh (the screamer of Psycho fame). She screamed, too, in Night of the Lepus, as many Lepusses overran a to-scale model town. Among other things, those Lepusses had Demographics, such as Pelts, Gnashers, Crank Calls, Doctrine, and Alimony Payments. It's not every rabbit that has Demographics. Some maintain LTGs -- Long Term Grudges. Still others suffer from multiculturalism -- that is, a history of many throat inspections. Wise rabbits will tell you that you cannot assert yourselves in the same ways, these days, anymore. Used to be you could throw a rock at the train, or vote your subconscience, or retroactively assert your senility. Not anymore. Not with all that litigation looming.

Ever notice how Third Parties tend to finish Third? How your windows don't quite tell the truth? How steeples stop at arbitrary junctures? How ivy and mania rarely enter the same sentence but do, once in a while, appear about five or six words apart? How you can list your close friends on one or two hands but need all kinds of hands -- those of manikins, surgical gloves, mittens, etc. -- to count the canines you've loved over the years? How it's silly to think of a union between a rat and an avocado, but if there were such a union, the resulting legume / mammal would be called a Ravocado? How proponents of one religion question the ghost stories of another religion but otherwise treat as fact the ghost stories of their own faith? How worms come out of the earth during a rainstorm? Why is that -- flooding? Pride? Chased by a Ravocado? You can predict a gait but can you predict a kick? Can you predict -- virtually everything -- about Kentucky? How many clocks need you consult before you declare the entourage, if not the candidate him / herself out of touch? Hindering? Destructive? A goner?

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Holiday Beverage (Old-School)

We ain't talkin' cereal.


"The Apple Jack" was a jump blues recorded by bandleader Joe Morris, featuring Johnny Griffin on tenor saxophone, in 1948. There are but a few lyrics at the very beginning: "Apple jack / apple jack / Let's go / AAAAAAHHH!" before the horns start bouncing. It's a fairly electric moment. In a perfect world, there would be apple jack, the drink, and apple jack, the song, simultaneously, and regularly. Applejacks, plural, are kiddie fare, of course, whereas jacks are a toy, apples are a fruit, Jacks are many men named John or Jake or Jacob and jacks are phone outlets, among many other jacks, apples, applejacks and apple-jack. May your holidays have at least an apple, if not some apple-jack. Happy Thanksgiving to One and All.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Firewater & Sanity Clause

Look twice.


Whatever happened to the Second World? You had a world with some repression, sure, some violin solos, some bread lines, some love secrets, and then, Poof: Folks had to choose between the First and Third Worlds, and now there's not even a Third World, really. Thanks to English lit professors. You've got your First World and your power plant. You've got your First World and your pomegranate grove. You've got your First World and your crispy underpants. Personally speaking, my First World was the Cuyahoga River, (a fire), which really was my Second World. Or my Third. Ah, it gets confusing, I admit. The bottom line: Someone, in, like, 1969 called 9-1-1 to report a burning river.

Operator: Hello, what is your emergency?
Citizen: Uh, yeah, I'd like to report a burning river.
Operator: Excuse me?
Citizen: The river; is on fire.
Operator: Is this Dennis Kucinich again?
Citizen: They're throwing water on it, but that ain't doing much.
Operator: Sir?
Citizen: Uh huh?
Operator: Be thankful that the Lake is not ablaze.
Citizen: Yes ma'am.

I am glad that my President defended the skies of Alabama from those famous Vietcong raids on Phenix City (spelling correct) and Mobile and the Co'cola Diner & Mullet Toss Pavilion, and I'm glad that his sidekick, whom I shall term Vice President Deferrals, is so familiar with the nuances of avoidance. They made for a powerful and convincing presence, at various lecterns, on Veteran's Day. Convincing of what, I have no idea. And in saying so, I don't mean to give the impression that the opposition fares much better, in my estimation: Bad Votes, Calculated Rhetoric, "Wimpy Cats." Evidence that there is, in fact, No World. And that the Lake is ablaze. And the water ain't doing much. Sometimes I think we need a Sanity Day, instead, or a Sanity Week, or a Sanity Clause, but the Marx Brothers, for example, knew there ain't no such thing as a Sanity Clause. Here's to Survival, then, and Urgency.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Chop Suey, Part 2

Enter the Dragon.


Some of you may know Chop Suey, Part 1: A reluctant woman, a couple months ago, is arguing with some guy outside an embassy a few blocks from my apartment building. He is sort of tugging on her arm and she is resisting, and while she knows this dude is a tool, she also knows that, in all likelihood, she'll probably go with him anyway. But the situation is not an assault or anything like that. Nevertheless, a middle-aged man with a conservative haircut jumps -- literally -- out of nowhere, out of two big white doors, onto the sidewalk, into a martial arts fighting stance (see Bruce Lee, above), with a grimace on his face, and yells, in my opinion, "Chop Suey." I mean, did he say "Chop Suey?" That's what I heard: "Chop Suey." Which brings us to this past weekend. Another man and woman are standing -- not necessarily arguing -- but not at ease, either -- outside the same embassy, when here comes our champion, once again, through the white double doors. No, he did not leap, he did not make a martial arts fighting stance, but he was not at ease, either. He looked like this: "Don't push me, or you'll get the Chop Suey. You don't want the Chop Suey." He paced around with a mean face (apparently his embassy's liaison for domestic disputes) until the second couple, as did the first, dissipated. In particular, the guys, in both cases, relented. Clearly they did not want the Chop Suey.

My karate instructor, Neil, apparently met Bruce Lee, who came to the University of Maryland a few decades ago, to give a demonstration. My instructor was called upon to assist. He was not my instructor then. Just Neil. Bruce Lee told him to stand a few feet away, and put a quarter in Neil's open palm. "When you see my hand move," said Bruce Lee, "close your palm." Several dozen people looked on, a balmy day, on the University of Maryland Quad, while my instructor stood there, facing Bruce Lee. Well, Bruce Lee's hand moved and my instructor closed his own hand into a fist, and, well, he still felt the cold metal of a coin in his palm. He opened his fist and what did he see? Not the quarter, but a nickel, there, where the quarter had been. No Way. Bruce Lee had thrown a nickel into my instructor's palm and taken the quarter. Was he that fast? Yes. He was so fast that, a week later, after the demonstration was over and Bruce Lee had gone home, my instructor, Neil, heard Bruce Lee say "Br├Ątwurst" -- his hands quicker than the speed of sound, by a week. "Mit sauerkraut und potato." Bruce Lee, apparently, had some German ancestry.

Enter the Dragon is arguably the best martial arts movie ever made. When Bruce Lee kills the dude who'd, essentially, killed his (fictional) sister, midway through, in part with that brutal sidekick -- oh, man, that is The Bomb. I know it was acting but that sidekick had to hurt in real life. Neil made us try all kinds of things in our karate studio. We had to extinguish candles with the speed of our fists and chase flies around and step on each other's stomachs and break boards in the middle of the air and learn to exhale and attend Christmas parties. The studio ended up across the street from The California Bar -- which was not in California but Laurel, Md. The drunks would stagger across the street and say "hi-YAH" and chop the air, laughing so hard they fell over, some clipping sideview mirrors on parked cars, on their ways down. It wouldn't hurt them, the fall, until the next day, or the next week, clearly their mouths quicker than their bodies. Were he still alive, we could use a little more Bruce Lee in the world, the way I see it: Moving quickly can make you a quarter for every nickel, at the very least. Eh?