Madness Part 1
Sometimes we must have little bouts of madness; much like young people in the midst of developing bad hearts have lil' heart attacks which seem like mere bursts of intestinal gas, but really are harbingers of badness (heart disease is a young person's disease, after all). Take me, for one, I know that there are small, infinitesimal moments in my life when I don't feel quite rational. For instance, the other day, and it was a fine day, I overheard some people sitting behind me at the Rog-Ells Strip Mall food court talking about a relationship that neither were involved in. Like it was their business! Nonetheless, they droned on and on about how man X is just not worthy of woman X's affections and since she's been courting him her dressing habits have declined, and of course he's too old. Blah blah blah blah… By all means, it did not stop there, oh no, they were tireless jabbers. She apparently had already had an abortion while cheating on Mr. X with Mr. Y, but Mr. X still doesn't know, though it was five years ago and Mr. X and this Wonder Woman had been dating for six. To top it all off, Mr. Y is apparently the pinnacle of sensuality, for at the mention of his name, the conversation took on a more savory and creamy texture. Mr. Y, mmmm! How his hair falls from his forehead! Mr. Y! Hmmmm! How one can imagine the six-pack beneath his shirt! Mr. Y! Ooooohhh! Those temples!! Ohh! Mr. Y! Those dimples!! Yyyesss! It was all very tiresome, and I felt for poor Mr. Y, being verbally fondled about cheaply like that. But sympathy has fences, and I found the circumference of mine abruptly shorten when I heard the conversation turn: How could Wonder Woman be seeing Mr. X when Mr. Y was waiting in heart-bursting agony for her tender kisses!?!? Those pectorals! Those hunky glutes! All hers! But she chose that prosaic, mashed potato-filled garbage bag of a man. The laws of beauty and true love are ripped asunder. Life surely has no meaning. Such were the conclusions the duo came to. As for wonder woman, they continued, she must have huge problems. She's always weeping, always verbally vomiting her problems into other people's conversations, always turning the conversation to herself. Apparently, someone once mentioned thermodynamics in a conversation, and she went off about how her large breasts help conduct heat in winter, and that's why flat-chested women are always cold, even to the touch. This Wonder woman was starting to bother me as well, and I almost turned around to join the gossip mongers in their shearing of this pathetic human. Try as I might, I could not imagine what she looked like, this apparent tramp of humanity who continually cheats on her loved ones. Not to mention the poor sap Mr. X, who apparently needs monstrously thick infared glasses or some kind of bat sonar to find his way through the dark closets of his relationship. Mr. Y sounds like he's probably the best off of the triad, being so allegedly delicious to behold he'll probably never be without a mate. Time was draining from the day, and I had sucked up the last of my root beer float and cheese fries. Brenda would be waiting for me, but my ample buttocks would just not move from the uncomfortable mall slab seat I sat on. In the booth behind me the continuing adventures of Wonder Woman enthralled me almost to petrifaction.
Great Moments in Rural Art
Ed Womack Says:
My friend's son was banned and exiled by the girls in his junior high, and science is to blame. Now he sits at home nights a social leper feeling like a pile of abated asbestoes. Cell phone silent and impotent at his side, he refuses to wash his hands and burns hours staring goat-like at scantily-clad anime girls or slashing up terrorists in the latest ultraviolent video game. "I know we shouldn't let him play that," his father, my friend, told me, "but he's been so depressed lately."
Apparently a clever biology teacher thought he'd conduct an experiment and inject some humor into the experience. He must have thought that learning should be fun like television or tongue piercing. "Class, I'm going to choose two people and wipe thier palms with these cotton swabs." He chose my friend's son, known for his long mangy hair that pours over his face like fresh magma, his habit of wearing the same pitch black clothes repeatedly, and his nearly constant vacuous "I'm not here" gaze. The teacher swabbed his palm and then transferred the cotton wad, teeming with suburban Goth hormonal microorganisms, into a petri dish.
"Now I need another volunteer. Someone very different," the teacher barked (I've met this teacher, and he's a barker). He chose the most petite, clean cut, Sandra-Dee-esque Pollyanna he could find; the girl all the boys want to date but nonetheless fear more than a squadron of fire ants; the girl that all the other girls look up to as an archetype of beauty, devilish innocence, style, and huzzah. In essense, the Queen Cheese, the most popular girl in this or any other possible class. After the teacher swabbed her hand he placed the swab, now a holy relic, into a second petri dish.
The teacher then labeled both both petri dishes with the names of their respective donors, and placed them in a cabinet. "We're just gonna let those swabs sit there for a few weeks, and we're gonna find out what happens, okay?" In a few weeks the teacher suddenly announced, "Ok! Let's look at those swabs, remember?" He removed them, read the labels, and did a double take. The petri dish from the hand of my friend's son had almost nothing in it. You could perform surgery on it with no risk of infection. But the petri dish with the swab from the prom queen's hand looked like a vacant lot. Stalks of incomprehensible organisms pushed against the top and sides of the plastic, begging to get out and conquer more territory; Pinkish goo dribbled from the lid. The teacher was afriad to open it, fearing an epidemic. Unfortunately, the entire class had already seen the results.
"But... but," the teacher stammered, "that's not possible." He glared at my friend's son, "Did you wash your hands that day?" "I never wash my hands," he squeaked in reply. The teacher looked over sympathetically at the prom Queen, who had covered her gasping mouth after witnessing the frightening biological activity that sprung from her pampered and manicured hand. His joke disgracefully ruined, the teacher again glared at my friend's son, pointed at the pristine petri dish, and barked, "Then you must've changed the labels! There's no way your hands are this clean!" The class also glared at the now terrified boy. "No! Why would I do that?" he squealed with puberty soaked words.
That was enough for the class. Vicious rumors spread around the school that my friend's son had tried to humiliate Mrs. Popular herself, and the girls, reanacting the Lysistrata, boycotted anyone who dared talk to the evil petri dish changer. This social kiss of death smeared over his entire social life. "I don't think he'll ever wash his hands again," my friend told me, laughing. "Can't say I would either in his shoes, poor guy." Then he smiled and passed me a cookie.
Great Moments in Rural Art
Ed Womack Says:
A friend of mine thought he had come up with a brilliant new automated way to create an original writing style. When I visited him the other day, he spoke at length about the frustrations of his new short story, tentatively titled "Whazz All the Fuss?" In it, a character named Silvio gets arrested as a terrorist for saying "I got the bomb" when, in reality, he was planning a fraternity party and merely told a friend "I got the bong." But, thinking that terrorist charges present less of an obstacle than drug charges, he decides to let the misunderstanding stand. My friend thinks that this plot may inspire reflection about "our current situation." I had no comment.
While talking about possible endings, he suddenly fell silent and furrowed his brow. Since he's given to spells like this, I sat patiently until the moment passed. In a shot his finger flew in the air. "I have it!" he blurted. "This was sitting in front of my face for so long, I don't believe it!" I sat back in the chair as he related his thoughts. "You know those online translators? You know, you can put in text and translate it instantly into about twenty languages. Wow, I can't believe it, I really can't, " he rambled. "This is brilliant. I can put my words into a translator, translate it to another language, and then translate it back. It will alter my style in ways I couldn't imagine! I have to try it. It could save time and point a way to automation of a unique style. Not to mention the gimmick factor!" He started laughing, grabbed his notebook, and switched on a laptop. Once booted, he immediately opened up an online translator, and typed in the following words:
Then he chose German, pressed "Translate," and the following appeared:
"Brilliant!" he cried. "And now for the final touch!" He copied the German text back into the translator, selected English, and once again pressed "Translate." Out came the following:
At this, my friend sat back in his chair and stared hard at the screen. A few moments passed and he finally said, "I'm defintely on to something here, but it needs some work. Do you mind? Sorry. I'm kind of having a creative rush." I left and recalled the countless other times my friend kicked me out due to "creative rushes." A strange plan of vengeance crept through my mind. I should make a delictable dinner, invite my friend over, delay the dinner until I knew he was ravenous, and, just prior to serving, have a "creative rush" and ask him to leave. This thought gave me a pleasant feeling. I enjoyed the drive home.
Great Moments in Rural Art
Letters to Ed
I received the following e-mail the other day, and I thought it worth sharing:
To this I congenially replied:
Keep those letters coming!
Stunning Goose Portraits
Ed Womack Says:
Recently, a friend of mine was driving home from work when he met the commuter's ultimate nightmare: a line of traffic clogged far into the horizon. He also saw, about one hundred yards ahead, that the very infrequently used railroad gates were in fact lowered. "None shall pass", they barked defiantly. Cars were lined up on both sides of these prohibitory gates like caged animals. This had never happened before. In fact, he had never, in his fifteen years of living in this particular city and driving this particular route home, seen a train anywhere near these tracks. After waiting in sardine like traffic for over five minutes he noticed the suspicious absence of an important item. Namely, a train. The tracks just lay there bare. People in the cars around him were rubbing their temples, shaking their fists, and leaning into their windshields scolding the air. What else could they do? To make matters worse, each side of the track was obscured by hedges and trees, so no one could really see whether or not a train actually occupied the tracks. So they waited. After a child in the car beind my friend started braying "move!" out the window, the nose of an engine peeked out from behind the left hedge. It crawled into view at a hypnotic pace. A few hundred eyes simultaneously glazed over. Then, right in the middle of the crossing, the thing stopped dead. Now the cars around my friend emitted screams of agony and endless obscenities reminiscent of an Orwellian Two Minutes Hate.
About a quarter hour total had passed, and the crowd of homesick commuters began to grow increasingly restless. The train suddenly spewed two thin lines of smoke from its top and then, astonishingly, lurched backwards. Unfortunately, it only rolled backwards about five feet and again lumbered to a halt. Someone close to the tracks rolled their window down and shook their fists at the narcoleptic giant. Then, almost out of pity for this passionate display, the train eked up speed and finally moved forward. Filthy and graffiti ridden boxcars brought relief to the trapped and angry mob of motorists. It was unattractive, but at least it was moving. And soon this wretched metal serpent would vanish forever behind the hedge. Oh Sweet Freedom! But before anone could finish their sighs of relief, the train again rumbled to a stop. Elaborate spray painted shapes spelled out "Rutabaga Zen" from a dilapadated rusty boxcar. Someone opened their SUV door and dangled a leg out, apparently ready to storm the train, but the beast once again heaved itself backwards. At this point the whole episode seemed like a cruel joke to the helpless drivers. Incredulity hung in the air as the same familiar engine once again sputtered into view. Of course it stopped cold.
My friend then noticed a truck towards the front of the line pulling out into the adjacent lane and speeding off angrily in the opposite direction. When it was out of sight, the train slowly worked its way back behind the left hedge. However, the gates remained closed. Everyone found themselves right back where they had started more than a half an hour ago.
Now other ravenous drivers followed the truck's example and began fleeing the ridiculous scene. After ten or fifteen vehicles succeeded in turning completely around, the gates magically opened. My friend swears that he heard a collective gasp from the dense line of cars. The faces in the cars that had turned around were beyond belief. "Right out of a horror movie", my friend said. Had they waited just one more minute, a mere sixty seconds, they would have frolicked in the promised land on the other side of the tracks. Instead they faced a circutious alternate route. My friend bragged that he was amongst the patient and reached home before his dogs peed on the couch. He theorized that had he in fact impulsively turned and fled this would not have been so.
I think there's a lesson in this for all of us, and it is this: perhaps a single minute stands between us and urine soaked furniture. So just hang on, already.
Great Moments in Rural Art
Ed Womack Says:
The other night a friend and I were watching an egret pluck fish from the pond behind his condo. The bird swooped down, struggled a bit, and came up with a mammoth fish that gleamed bright red. Almost immediately a burly man appeared from a patio door on the first floor, pointed at the bird, looked at us, and said "That's a good fish! Look at the color! He can't take that!" Then he ran toward the egret, which by now was frozen with terror or confusion. He started clapping his hands and yelling "Hey! Put it back! Come on! Back! Back!" The fish had since gone limp in its beak. As he approached the bird, my friend said "Whoa! Look! He's getting close! Wow! Look at that!" As the clapping and the inexorable march continued, the egret finally gave the man a look, cocked its legs, and took off into the sky with the fish. The man looked up, waved his fist, and started yelling what sounded like Italian obscenities. After a few moments he returned to his condo in defeat.
My friend says that the egret returns every day.
I think there's a lesson in this for all of us, and it is this: egrets just don't listen.
Great Moments in Rural Art