The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." "...it is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Golf: Game of the Plutocracy or Sign of the Apocalypse? We report, you decide



I do not play golf. I also do not play pinochle, but that is neither here nor there. Many people do not play pinochle and no one thinks any the less of them or that they are racists because they do not. I have heard that playing canasta is a good sign of latent homophobia, but I have never seen any credible evidence of this and so the next time you hear this, you may want to ask the person making this statement where they got their information.  Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, as the late Carl Sagan used to say, and linking canasta playing and homophobia strikes me as a very extraordinary claim indeed.  In any case, I still do not play golf.

I bring the subject up because here in our happy little burg signs are going up everywhere that the fire department will have its annual charity gold tournament at the end of the month and they are charging golfers $125 to participate. The signs do not indicate if this fee includes lunch and a free beer, although it should, as this seems like an awful lot of money to ask for the privilege of tapping a small ball into a small cup.  Now, I understand that there are people who enjoy this sort of thing—I have two brothers who follow golf religiously, for example—but I should point out that golf is a Scottish invention, like the steam engine and the telephone, and nothing good can come from a people who think haggis is an actual foodstuff or that bagpipes are, in some vague way, a musical instrument (they aren’t, not really, and neither is the pot of boiling water you drop your cat into to get rid of its fleas, which is the bagpipes’ closest sonic equivalent.)

Of course, for the privilege of playing this odd game—an activity played largely by men who appear to be bulking up for a sumo competition hardly qualifies as a sport—the true addict will shell out truly ridiculous sums of money and gets very little in return for that money. Given that I do not play golf, a fact I mentioned earlier, I believe, I would ordinarily not care one way or the other about how much otherwise normal human beings will pay to knock a small ball into a small cup after hours of wandering around a faux Scottish bucolic setting. It is, however, in the nature of obsessives to want to spread their obsession to the non-obsessed and this, as it always does, becomes a matter of some contention between them and the people that they are annoying the hell out of (yes, I ended a sentence with a preposition. Go stuff it.)

All of which complaining leads me to this conclusion: if you, the you in this case being my golf mad brothers and their equally golf mad friends, want me to take an interest in your little ball fetish then certain changes must take place, changes that are not in any way negotiable. First, we stop playing this idiotic game on golf courses and start playing it in war zones. The never terribly interesting question of whether or not a player will make par or a birdie or an eagle or whatever the hell it is they do out there with their little balls and cups will be much more interesting if everyone involved has to pass through a minefield and/or a barrage of incoming artillery fire in order to get to the ball. Another possibility is that we replace the sand traps and the water obstacles with striking Teamsters. Players who drive their balls into the Teamsters’ picket lines will have to devise new strategies to get the ball into the cup while at the same time keeping the Teamsters from a.] beating the ever living crap out of them for crossing a picket line, you dirty little scab, or 2.] beating the ever living crap out of them for hitting one of the union brothers on the head with your ball, you stupid jerk. I think that would be much more interesting to everyone involved than the game everyone plays today. I think I’d even pay $125 to see, and maybe try my hand at the game a little, provided, of course, that the lunch and the beer were free. Hey, if I’m going to take a chance with an artillery barrage then the least the sponsors can do is pay for lunch and beer. It’s only fair, you know.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

I hate America and other adventures in the rag trade



I know that Ariana Grande's declaration that she hates America should offend me greatly, but since I'd never heard of her before she said that she hated America I would say that she has accomplished the purpose of her saying she hated America in the first place: I have now heard of her. I still have no idea what she does, but then I don’t get out much. I gather that she is some kind of entertainer, which actually covers a lot of ground—entertainers these days run the gamut from opera singers to baseball players to presidential candidates to porn stars, that she is fairly young, and that I am probably not her target demographic. She may even, for all I know, stand nude on her head atop the Army—Navy recruiting station in Times Square and spit nickels at the gawking crowds of tourists in the street below. Nickel spitting was very big in the 1920’s, but fashions come and go, and so nickel spitting went the way of Prohibition, the Charleston, and the bee’s knees.  This is unfortunate, I think; when I was a boy, you could still see nickel spitters from the Twenties plying their art at street fairs and carnivals, but they had no followers, no novices eager to learn the arcane intricacies of the art, and so nickel spitting had died out by the end of the first Bush presidency. I wish it hadn’t; nickel spitting was fun to watch. There are few arts that provide as much artistic fulfillment to the artist and financial rewards to the audience as nickel spitting does. But I digress.

In any case, the fact that Ariana Grande hates America is, for me, one of life's great irrelevancies, right up there with knowing that aglets are those plastic tips at the end of your shoelaces. The word may or may not have something to do with Texas A&M and that university’s football team, the Aggies, but probably does not; cowboy boots do not have shoelaces so the connection to Texas seems tenuous at best, and it does not seem likely that the university would name a girl’s team the Aglets. That sort of name smacks of sexism and there is nothing that a modern American university wants to avoid more than anything else nowadays than someone accusing it of an –ism.  –Isms are very bad, you see, and lead to upset stomachs and probably gas as well and therefore best avoided in the first place, if at all possible.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Blast from the past



So there I was, sitting on my fat patoot and not really working while I thought about how hard it is to write satire anymore, what with the times getting too weird for any one person to keep up with, when I heard Rick Springfield singing Jesse’s Girl on a kid’s radio or phone or whatever it is kids use to listen to music these days. The song first came out, if I remember this correctly, when Ronald Reagan was getting out of the hospital after the assassination attempt back in 1981 and I am pretty sure that I haven’t heard it since then. Listening to it now, however, gave me the same sense of profound creepiness that hearing it in 1981 did. It didn’t occur to me in 1981 that there was such a musical genre as stalker rock—I was much younger then, of course, and so I didn’t know any better—and in those halcyon days we all knew less about the strange drives that motivated Australian obsessives to lust for the girl friends of their best buddies, even with the best efforts of Phil Donahue to keep us all up to date with the latest fashions in neuroticism. But stalker rock it is, along with that song about Jenny and her phone number and an entry from the 1960’s, the Vogues’ Turn around, look at me, and it does make me wonder if any of these guys ever got over getting not dumped by their not girl friends. I never heard any of these songs without wanting to slap these guys and say, snap out of it, as Cher so correctly advised in Moonstruck. I mean, really, guy, Jesse’s girl is probably a grandmother by now; get over it.

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

The newest excuse for not writing is...

I went on vacation. Really. The first real vacation I've had since 2001. I had a nice time and now I am back to the grind of finding excuses for not writing. Nice to be home.
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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

More excuses, except without the nice picture of Emily.



Okay, so here’s the thing: I do have some stuff to post, but the pieces (there are two of them, you know, but they are not about the same thing, which makes them fraternal twins, I suppose) are not ready for prime time. In short, I have not finished either one of them and I have used a great deal of psychic energy these past few weeks justifying to myself why I have not finished them.  I could blame George W. Bush, but I started both of these pieces several years after Bush left the Presidency, although, if the newspapers are anything to go by, incumbency is not a requirement for things to be George W. Bush’s fault. But I can’t, not really, a result, I think, of long years of Roman Catholic teaching. The well-developed Catholic conscience understands that blaming others for one’s own faults is the oldest sin in the Book, other than eating the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and that Adam's excuse that she made me, and Eve's excuse that the serpent made her, does not excuse either one of them at all. So it is not George W. Bush’s fault that I have not been posting as much as I should, much as I would like to say otherwise.

My desultory posting is also not the fault of my brother and his potato salad, even if I am certain beyond a reasonable doubt that he gave me that potato salad in order to poison me.  In the cold salad realm, I have always been partial to macaroni salad, especially my mother’s macaroni salad. Unlike so many people, including my brother, my mother does not annoy the palate with a multitude of flavors. There’s vinegar and mayonnaise, some tomatoes and celery, which I pick out of the salad and throw to the nearest cat, and macaroni. Simple, basic, filling, all the things I want in a cold salad. My brother, on the other hand, is a pupil of the more is better culinary school, and in his potato salad there are potatoes that you cannot taste and every manner of spice that you can, sort of, when those spices are not fighting for space and attention on your taste buds.  In short, I hate my brother’s potato salad and I would not eat the ghastly stuff at all except that my mother values family peace over almost everything else, especially at family get-togethers, and so in the interest of peace and brotherhood and good will I ate my brother’s potato salad and quickly came down with a nasty case of food poisoning.  As you might imagine, my brother did not like my accusing him of attempted murder nor did he appreciate my calling his potato salad loathsome noisome swill. All right, I didn’t use those words exactly, but I am sure you get the point. My brother certainly did and he certainly didn’t like it. Some people get very defensive about their potato salad and my brother is one of those people. In his defense, however, I should point out that my refusal to buckle down and start writing pre-dated his attempted fratricide for quite a while, and so, in the interests of truth and fair play and all sorts of other virtues Americans hold sacred, I cannot blame him for my unswerving loyalty to procrastination as a virtue.  I still hate his potato salad, though.

What I do blame for all the delay is my recent commitment to lemur ranching for fun and profit.  Ranching on a spread filled with ring-tailed lemurs is something that can drive a grown man to Despair, which, people tell me, is a pretty upscale new French bar and grill here in our happy little burg.  I didn’t know that the French had bars and grills; none of those bistros you see in the travel brochures ever look like what I’d consider to be a bar and grill, but then I don’t get out much. The food is very nice though, if you like overly intellectualized hamburger. Contrary to what you might have heard, the cow involved is not having an existential crisis as a response to its search for meaning in a meaningless world; the cow has passed from being to nothingness by becoming hamburger. Ergo, the cow has solved its existential crisis by finding the meaning denied to so many human beings. For the cow, the purpose of existence is simple: it is dinner.  That the cow is no longer in a position to grasp this elegant solution to its existential problem simply demonstrates the inadequacy of any overarching philosophical system when that system confronts reality. And steak tastes good.

I don’t know what the lemurs taste like and I don’t intend to find out. I’m not raising them for food, at least not for people, and I don’t think the furry little bastards have enough meat on them to interest the pet food manufacturers.  So why bother with lemurs?  Lemur oil will cure a boatload of skin ailments, yes it will, everything from eczema to seborrhea and psoriasis, so step right up and put in your order for your own 12 oz. bottle of Dr. Green’s Old Fashioned Green Lemur Miracle Oil and if you order within the next ten minutes I will be happy to send you another bottle absolutely free; just pay shipping and handling. And then I sit and watch the money roll in, or I would, if only get the ornery little beasts to stay still for long enough to press some oil out of them.  Lemurs object to pressing, for reasons I am not sure I fathom—a consequence of poor parenting and equally poor socialization in the public schools seems a reasonable hypothesis—and while I am not pressing them the lemurs insist on three meals a day and a roof over their heads, which makes them seem less an investment than members of my family.  In addition to this, I have the Department of Agriculture inspectors going over every inch of my operation and the Humane Society and every other animal rights group in the country camped out in my front yard demonstrating against my pressing the lemurs at all. The lemurs don’t like the animal rights people very much; one of those PETA people broke into the lemurs’ compound two weeks ago to “liberate” them and the lemurs bit him on his ass for his troubles. Serves him right, too; I hope the bastard gets rabies.

So as you can see, as a small aspiring entrepreneur in the age of the Illinois Incitatus I am up to my backside in money problems and government red tape and high-minded idiots who don’t know the first thing about lemurs or business trying to tell me how to run my business. I simply do not have the time to whip up these little funny bits regularly. I have things to do, important things, like trying to figure out where the damn lemurs are hiding my pencils. Damn, I hate when they do that; it’s more annoying than you can imagine.

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Friday, May 15, 2015

The usual mealy mouthed excuses



The thing of it is this: I could put the usual reasons why I have been too lazy to write something for the blog or you can look at the following while I think of something. Your choice. I do have something on the griddle, but it’s fighting me. I’ll bring it in sooner or later, but there’s no telling when that will be. In the meantime, there’s this:


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Monday, April 27, 2015

A Great Experience, or travelling the root canal for fun and profit



Yesterday I had a great experience: a youngster approached me, while I was eating. I was eating a roast beef on a hard roll, with salt and pepper and some mayonnaise. Actually, there was too much mayonnaise, now that I think of it. They always do this at the deli; they slather the mayo on like Van Gogh slathering paint on a canvas, and it always causes a problem because the mayo winds up in my mustache and I have to spend the rest of the day cleaning all that gook out of it.  I don’t think Van Gogh ever had to clean the paint out of his mustache. There may have been some on the ear he cut off, but I wouldn’t want to speculate on this without investigating the matter further. However, this may be why there are no delicatessens in Van Gogh’s work. Lots of bars and brothels, of course, unless I’m confusing Van Gogh’s work with Toulouse-Lautrec’s; I know there are lots of brothels in Toulouse-Lautrec, but again, as with Van Gogh and Mozart, there are no delicatessens where you can buy a roast beef sandwich that won’t spew mayonnaise all over your face like a culinary Vesuvius. As for the youngster who approached me, a school bus hit him as he crossed the street, killing him instantly. After the students got off the bus and stripped the mangled corpse of his clothing and cell phones, the unfortunate wretch got up and called the police a name they didn't like, and so the police came quickly and arrested the youngster for indecent exposure, interfering with the free flow of traffic, and littering.  The district attorney's office may press further charges as the need arises, according to an official spokesperson.





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