Saturday, January 15, 2011

Drugs, John Wayne, & Jesus

The Duke of Stratosphere
I know everybody these days is aware of just how important their recommendations are.

That’s true, isn’t it? I mean, you are aware of the increased chances of your buying something that pops up on your recommendation list enough times, right?
And hell, even if you aren’t aware, the good people over at surely are. That’s what those lists are there for, in the end: They take all your buying habits, stir them around around in a special Amazonian electronic marketing engine in which they are studied by a barnful of hamsters and compared with the buying habits of millions of other customers, and Voila! Out pops a list of items that you’re probably going to want to buy. You just didn’t know you wanted to buy them.

This is sophisticated and heady, really cutting edge, 21st century stuff, and billions in sales dollars hang in the balance. And it is one of the reasons why this time of year sucks for me. I am left with the aftertaste of my Christmas gifts of a few weeks back. Sure, the Holiday Beast of Christmas Past has already done the worst of its damage. It’s done leveling Tokyo and it’s stomped out of town for another year.

But now’s the part of the show where my recommended items list starts looking a little hinky.

You know, like I bought a copy of the Transformers II DVD for my nephew, so now my recommended movies list starts showing every goddamned CGI Hollywood blockbuster that’s ever been made. It’s enough to drive a woman already on the cusp of insanity right on over the edge.

So I’m on last week, minding my own business, and sure enough, the rubble left behind by the Holiday Beast’s yearly rampage is sitting right there for all to see, bearing its fangs and laughing – laughing! – at me right to my face.

“Fuck!” I yell out in desperation (although in truth, that method of solving my problems rarely helps much).  “Drugs, John Wayne, and Jesus!”

And Dana, she doesn’t miss a beat. I haven’t even realized she’s upstairs, but she shouts, from out in the hall, Jeopardy-like, “Name three things you might find in the desert!”

Drugs. John Wayne. Jesus.

It hits me like a lightning bolt. Like the lasers that the Holiday Beast shoots out of its eyes in those old Japanese movies the kiddies love.

Drugs. John Wayne. Jesus.

The last three things that flash before the eyes of the fading American Empire before history closes the lid on its casket. It’s the perfect title of a book on modern culture: “Drugs, John Wayne, & Jesus: Front Row Seats for the Death of the American Dream.”

Hell, it’s the name of a blog that earns its blogger a book deal. Much better than fucking “Lesbians in My Soup.” What kind of bloody moron names their blog “Lesbians in My Soup”?

Well, as could probably have been predicted, this gruesome threesome of concepts soon occupies my every waking moment. I find myself drawing potential connecting tissue from A to B to C – drugs to John Wayne to Jesus – when I should be working, or eating, or watching the kids on the jungle gym.

Drugs, John Wayne, and Jesus. It’s the working title for an unfinished Alejandro Jodoworsky Acid Western from the late Sixties. Had it ever reached fruition, it would have ended up being titled, “The Last Temptation of Marion Morrison.” It would have climaxed with the eponymous character freeing himself from the bloated John Wayne carcass that he’d become, and then fighting it out mano a mano with his own acquired persona as a crowd of spectators  throws stones.

Scene from a lesser-known Jesus fable
Jesus Christ, why have I still not upped and moved on out to Hollywood to sell screenplays? There are literally dozens of low rent movie theaters that are going to run out of material for their midnight movies because of my failure to commit.

And where in the blazes is Elvis during all of this, anyway?

There’s a scene in the real Alejandro Jodoworsky film, The Holy Mountain, where the main character is cleansed of all the physical and spiritual toxins he’s been building up by living in society. The guru character presents him the resulting toxic residue as a chunk of fool’s gold.

Those most American of all modern American figures – John Wayne and Elvis Presley – could probably have both used a good cleansing of toxins late in the game. Swollen, glistening, engorged on pork, prescription pills, and cancer past the point of bursting … a little time out in the desert, tripping on peyote with Jesus would have done both of them a world of good.

When Jesus was out there in the desert, the devil took him to the top of a cliff and showed him all of the cities and treasures of the world. And the devil said, “All of this will be yours if only you follow me!”

Jesus said no. Elvis the King and John the Duke, though, well, we all know what they said.

They can’t be blamed, though: If Jesus were alive today, you just know he’d be 250 pounds with a terminal prescription pain pill habit. His phoned-in performance in The Gospel of Matthew IV in 3D would not have prevented it from opening at number one at the box office. Lukewarm reviews, but God knows the guy still has charisma.

Drugs, John Wayne, and Jesus.

Jesus Christ. John Wayne. Drugs. Three great tastes that go great together. It all makes such perfect sense now. How could it ever have been any other way?

I guess the takeaway from all of this is that we should have faith in our recommendations. Even right after the holidays. The recommendation engine is all-knowing, and only has our best interests in mind.

So sit back, relax, and consume. 

It’s what Jesus would do.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Discursives, 13/01/2011

Escalator FAIL
It occurs to me now that I definitely hold thin people to a higher standard than I hold fat people when it comes to… escalators.

Because when a fat person is ahead of me on an escalator and just stands there, refusing to budge and holding up the ascent of everyone else behind him, I just dismiss it as a side effect of his fatitude. “Oh, well. He’s enormous. He couldn’t possibly take a step UP!”

But if a thin person were to do the exact same thing, why, I would… I would…

Actually, I’d probably peer around him to check and make sure he wasn’t tremendously old, or disabled in some way.

*          *          *          *          *

It turns out that the Giffords shooter out in Arizona was simply a creepy, mentally unbalanced wacko, unaffiliated with any group or school of thought.

Of course, this can only mean that the next couple of weeks are going to be even more awkward than usual for all of us creepy, mentally unbalanced wackos. Lots of unnecessary calls in to the FBI by the neighbors and so forth…

Mug shot FAIL
Why, oh why couldn’t the shooter have been the world’s #1 fan of the Ramones or a goddamn MORMON or something? Those Muslims seem to really be falling down on the job this year.

Anything that would allow the rest of us to lay the blame on some identifiable group of people publicly would suffice.

Thanks a lot, Loughner! Now I’m going to have to constantly secure alibis for my whereabouts…

*          *          *          *          *

Can you see my heart bursting with pride as I type this?

All of us in the Anders household are especially proud right now. That’s because we have a new addition to our household: a female Oklahoma brown tarantula named Saint Athanasius.

Now, before you go feeling sorry for the tarantula, whining, “But Katy! She’ll never learn to respond to a name like ‘Athanasius’!” there are a couple things you probably ought to know.

First, best that all them scientist types can figure, tarantulas have no sense of hearing at all. As in, they have no organs with which to hear.

They can also only see what is less than half an inch in front of their eyes, can split wide open if they fall off a rock, and generally do not travel more than a couple feet from wherever they were born in their lifetime.

In fact, it’s safe to say that fundamentalist Christians really ought to latch on to tarantulas as the Achilles heel of the whole evolutionary “survival-of-the-fittest” theory.

I mean, is everything I learned from old monster movies wrong?
Tarantula FAIL

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Stumbling Towards Domestication

Somehow or other, I got myself invited to join Dana and the kids at her folks’ house in Oklahoma for the holidays.

Dana’d deep sixed me early in the fall, put me on ice over some ugly incident I can’t for the life of me remember anymore. But she thawed me out for Christmas, she dressed me in acceptable clothes, propped me up in the passenger seat and off we went to the land of Sooners.

Once there, I was actively encouraged to interact with the children, some of whom were very young and presumably breakable. I tried to go through the motions and wear an expression similar to what I’d seen other adults wear when confronted with tiny, underdeveloped humans.

“Awww, look at him… spitting up like that all over my sleeve… Adorable!”

I’m not sure it fooled anybody. The adults all looked skeptical the whole time – like they’d agreed to let the kids take turns riding a bear or something. That look that says they know you are not like them and they resent you for it.

Did they believe I could not see the looks they were giving each other? The looks that were like spelling out curse words in front a ten-year old who already knows how to spell?

Hasn’t anyone ever told these people not to whisper about the paranoid where they can hear it? It only gives substance to the delusions.

The weekend didn’t improve anyone’s opinion of me. “Aunt Katy didn’t have a mental breakdown on Christmas” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement. Beyond that, it blew several days that could have been spent reading and/or writing and/or working.

But it got me back into the house, so roll out the “Mission Accomplished” banner. It had been a couple months, and no good can come of me living by myself in the long run.

Plus, now I can check “do the happy family holiday thing” off my mental checklist of things to do before I die. Bad sweaters, bad eggnog, and bad hypocrisy: it was all there, as promised, and in spades.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Like a Refugee

I am a refugee from the political blogosphere. 

Here, take a whiff of my fingers. You can still smell it on me.

That’s how recent it’s been.

I find myself looking over my shoulder all of the time. In the grocery store. At the post office. Looking around to make sure they haven’t found me.

Refugees can get paranoid, you see.

With me, it’s all sort of touch and go. Even now. I take it day by day.

For five years, I was a ghost writer for several high-ish profile political blogger-commentators. If your daughter had a piano recital the same night you needed to write 100 column inches blaming George W. Bush for glitter glue, I was the one you called. If you were at a loss for how Obama’s stance on abortion could have caused that Icelandic volcano to erupt, then no worries, my friend: You just call Katy, wait a couple hours, and Whap! – a bitterly partisan blog you could slap your name on and hand over to any newspaper or web site in the world.

Guaranteed to turn readers’ faces red. To get blood pressure spiking. Tongues wagging. Et cetera, et cetera.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Them’s $4.95/mo. words!

And I spent much of my day exactly the same way I suppose most of you spent yours:

a) Combining random Greek prefixes and suffixes to come up with interesting words; and b) Googling the results to see who'd beaten me to said neologism.

(Incidentally, this is a great way of discovering death metal bands. Turns out they ALL come up with their band names this way. Who knew?)

Anyway - as probably could have been foreseen - I wound up Googling "cryptometer."

Which brought me THIS delightful entry at the Merriam-Webster site:


To reiterate: They know the definition, but it's one of the words for which they charge money. Why do I find that so delightful?

So now I'm trying to find OTHER words that the good folks at Merriam-Webster believe are worth $4.95 a month.

For the record, not random series of letters...
screeny 1

...and not other useless combinations of prefixes and suffixes...

They have chosen to hide the definition of a word that probably means "a means for measuring the hidden."

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, 2011...