Thursday, March 27, 2008

Greatest Invention Eh-verrrrrrrr

Greatest human invention? Hands down, the Metaphor. I used the tried and true relationship-is-like-a-roadtrip (tired and true?) metaphor today and had the wonderful post-metaphor moment when everyone says, "ahh, um-hmm, um-hmm", and you just know you broke through the fog and built a bridge. And look what I did just now! Even mixed metaphors are enjoyable! I love Metaphors (!):

"Hey man, look - I don't know jack about computers, so I don't understand what you're trying to lay on me about this server jazz. What? Oh, it's like central air, you say? It's like a water heater? Hey, wait, yeah that makes sense. I can dig that."

Who once said that we are metaphor machines? Whoever he/she was, find 'em and give 'em a drink on me. We are metaphor makers, we are the dreamers of dreams. Okay, I'm starting to ramble, but it breaks down like this: ideally, everyone should be able to talk to everyone. When language falters, it is image and imagination that carries on. We each have a rich storehouse of common imagery and the god-given gift of using it to make sideways leaps of logic and connection. We have the tools to break out of our own heads.

And I just think that's awesome.

But where did metaphors come from? What was the first metaphor used? It was probably about god. The oldest music, the oldest poetry, the oldest art really, is usually about god. Picture it: a farmer stands in his recently locust-blighted field surveying the damage and wondering about his place in the Universe. The village shaman ambles up, sensing that this is an important moment in his friend's spiritual development. "What is god, o wise one?" says the farmer. "Well," says the shaman, "god is like the rain..." and that simple farmer looks up at the sky and down at his fields and suddenly - click - he gets it.

Although, maybe that's where this whole god notion went off the rails. It wouldn't be the first time one of our great inventions proved to be one of our great failures. Because before god was a metaphor, god was a simile. Before "god is like the rain" came "god is the rain." In that "like" there is a loss, there is a distance. I like the notion that god Is, rather than god is only Like because we have no way of truly understanding god. The Great Unknowable is also the Truly Useless.

To be fair, as much as I may wax romantic about the simile god, it can be rather confusing. Metaphors can pile up and never collapse. God can be like a million things. How many things can god actually be. "You said god is the rain. Now you're saying god is the light. But god's also love. Dammit man, I'm a farmer, not a theologian! Tell me what god is so I can get back to growing your damn dinner!"

Ahh, metaphors. Metaphors are like that first moment you sink into a hot tub...

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Wherever He Laid His Sax Was His Home

I've got itunes on random again and my brain is spinning in a different direction with each tune. Right now, I'm listening to a killer version of "Song For My Father" by Sir Richard Groove Holmes and it is flooring me. Not just with its sly and subtle rhythmic play, but with memories of the Old Man. Pops, I miss you. You're on the other side of the world and far from home, but as always, you are never far from my thoughts.

You would appreciate this - the random spinner just spit out "Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere" by Slim Gaillard. It's making me think of Fred Sanford crooning, "If I didn't caaaaaaaare..." That always makes you laugh. You should channel some Fred Sanford tomorrow and scare the shit out of the Chadians. Shake your fist and shout, "Muhammad - ya big dummey! You gonna git five of these!"Why not? They already think you're crazy.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Post, Re-post, Contre-riposte

Edwin Markham sent me this via the cosmic wires after reading my last post:

"For all your days, be prepared
and face them all alike.
When you are the anvil, bear.
When you are the hammer - strike."

Thanks Eddie, I love that. Although I think The Stranger said it more concisely:

"Sometimes you eat the bar, and sometimes, well, he eats you."

Since this blog, like all blogs, will consist of 30 - 40% of bitching/moaning/wailing (hereafter known as the BMW Quotient), I think these lines will keep things in perspective. Many are the days I am the anvil. But I bet I am far more often the hammer and lack only the ability to see it.

Hammer strikes bear - checkmate!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Without Work There Is No Play

A study in balance, perhaps. A long day of work and worry, production snafus, undependable contractors, higher than normal rates of employee zombie-ism.


And then I come home and the cat says hello and my wife changes into her pj's and the neighbors bless us with their peace and quiet and finally I can take a deep breath and say,


Monday, March 17, 2008

A Block Past Normal

Now there's a phrase I haven't heard since I was knee high to a jitterbug. Normal. Which way to Normal? It's a shifty little burg right over the horizon. Hard to pin down, not on any maps recognized by the Army Core of Engineers. No. You might find Normal on a dusty parchment map penned centuries ago ("Here be monsters!"), but as soon as you can point to it and gleefully exclaim eureka, that map will crumble into your fingers and blow away with the four winds.

It doesn't have to be this way. Drunk driving. High protein diets. High fructose corn syrup in everything (why the hell is it in bread, for Muhammad's sake?) Bottled water. Prescription drug abuse. Juvenile diabetes. Cell phones.

That's right I said cell phones!

Sunday, March 16, 2008


In order to jumpstart this blog, I posted a bunch of my entries from the previous incarnation of the Alcelogue. Normally I wouldn't dump so much on you at once, but time is always against us and I'm feeling impatient. One should really unfold oneself slowly, a day at a time, in this most hyper of hypertext marked-up languages.

One should also avoid the impersonal, but what is one to do? I said good-day, sir!

The Greatest Living Writer

No, not me. But thank you so much! I was actually referring to an article I read today about Philip Roth. I haven't read enough Roth to decide whether he is the greatest living writer, but imagine what it must be like to read that phrase in a sentence about yourself. How frightening. It sounds ominous to me. 'He's the greatest living writer I know. Therefore, we must find him and execute him immediately. I'm sorry, but for the good of his reputation, he must join the great static ranks of the dead wordsmiths who have come before him.'

Why must the living contend with the dead? Then again, why must the dead contend with the living? It's hardly a fair fight and quite frankly, it's undignified.

Besides, I think we all can agree that the greatest writer living or dead is L. Ron Hubbard. (Thought I was going to say Shakespeare, didn't you?) Okay, he wasn't the best on plot, dialogue, or even sentence structure, but Hubbard transcended the whole idea of authorship. He wrote himself into the stories and merged with his books in a way Hunter Thompson and Charlie Kaufman could never dream of even in their wildest flights of neuroses. He didn't turn himself into a character in one of his science fiction stories - he turned his whole life into a science fiction story and then the story came alive and consumed other people, whole buildings, even an entire industry. What other writers can say they so completely erased the borders between fantasy and reality?

Okay, sure, those people who wrote the Bible and the Koran. Credit where credit is due.

Valdosta Terminal

Beleaguered, betrayed, I creep through Valdosta.
Thoroughly unhinged, I sweep through Valdosta.

I'm on my own and my life is sky blue.
Passageways out are cheap through Valdosta.

There's no where to go, the station's still closed.
I'll open my eyes as I leap through Valdosta.

Your heart was born pumping, your brain was alive.
The history of madness runs deep through Valdosta.

The heat and the sun are the stillness of time.
With a soul full of lava, I seep through Valdosta.

I can't but accept these feelings as mine.
Like a broken down robot, I beep through Valdosta.

The laughter in sadness: the joke's still on me.
Spitting up tears, I weep through Valdosta.

Don't ever tell me that love will stand still.
My promise to god I'll keep through Valdosta.

Whoever said that stillness is real?
The fruits of my sins I'll reap through Valdosta.

While the fate of the world is still up to you,
the hill to forgiveness is steep through Valdosta.


Inside the system there is a room,
inside the room there is a computer,
inside the computer there is a typewriter,
inside the typewriter there is a man,
inside the man there is a woman,
inside the woman there is a teardrop,
inside the teardrop there is a hundred thousand years.

Let's Take A Moment to Love

I read this recently:

"Right now you believe that your worth depends on your behavior. Metaphorically, you see yourself as an empty vessel that must be filled, drop by drop, with your achievements. The truth is that your value is your consciousness, your ability to perceive and experience. The value of a human life is that it exists."

Now isn't that beautiful?

On The Subject Of Poetry

I have been researching the life of John "the Craze" Masefield and have discovered that in addition to being a sailor, writer, and poet laureate, he was also a devoted bodyboarder. In fact the original version of his most famous poem, "Sea-Fever", was actually entitled "Sponger-Fever". As you will see in the opening stanza of the first draft, Masefield knew all too well the joy and longing which haunts the blood of many a wave-rider:

I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a good board and a wave to ride her by,
And the fin's kick and the wind's song and the inner rail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and double overheads breaking.

Then as now, bodyboarding was derided as the lesser of wave sports, having taken a back seat to surfing ever since Rudyard Kipling penned his immortal "The Longboarder's Burden". Masefield caved in under pressure from his editors and retooled the poem as a sailor's song, thereby securing his immortal fame and burying his secret heart.

The Road To The New World

I saw Buddha in the road today, but I just didn't have the heart to kill him. He'll be back tomorrow I'm sure. I'll run him down then. Laughing all the way-ha ha ha. Isn't Buddhism a ballsy religion? No Muslim worth his kufi would ever say "If you meet Mohammed in the road, kill him." A lot of Muslims probably want to say it, but they're too aftraid of getting hacked to pieces by some asshole in a big beard. (I once had a dream where the Saudi religious police were all exiled Santa Clauses) But I think Mohammed himself would appreciate the sentiment. He didn't want to be worshipped any more than Buddha. Though I think Buddha was more deserving of misplaced worship. To quote Taqwacore: "I'm so Muslim, fuck Islam!"

Ohmigod! Oh fuck! Someone just shot me in the back!