A CRASS PIECE OF SELF-PROMOTION

1) The Thief’s Mentality

The Thief’s Mentality is an comprehensive examination of those that believe everyone is a thief, a liar, and a cheater. It is a cynical view of humanity that could be ripped from the pages of their autobiography, and it forms the basis of their views of humanity. It also manages to drift over into their personal life, so I say be wary of those that have a propensity of leveling unfounded accusations, for in my experience they are more susceptible to that which they accuse.  

The woman who cheated on me more than any other was the person who accused me of cheating more often than any other did. Those who lied to me more than others were often the first to accuse me of being a liar. The man who accused me of stealing more often than most turned out to be the person who stole from me most often. These people know who they are, on a level they’ll never understand, and they know that we’re not much better than they are. Therefore, no matter what we do or say to them, they’re not buying it, because they think they know who we are, and this educated guess is based on who they are. It’s the thief’s mentality.

Those of us that have had some experience dealing with such people, often think that their methods win more than they lose, but anyone that has had long-term, intimate experience with someone with a thief’s mentality knows that sooner a later a truth ends up rearing its beautiful head, and it destroys them. 

2) He Used to Have a Mohawk

Conventional thinking suggests that grown men that decide to wear an unusual haircut should prepare themselves for unwelcome attention. Empathetic reasoning suggests that there’s nothing wrong with a person that decides to shave their head in such a manner, and it’s on the observer to accept a mohawk wearer for who he or she is as a person. The import of that latter provides a subtext that suggests that the observer might discover the limits of their preconceived notions, or conventional thoughts, of a person by finding out that a person with a thin strip on their head is actually a beautiful person. He Used to Have a Mohawk combines these modes of thought from the perspective of an individual that used to have a Mohawk.

3) That’s Me in the Corner

How many of us participate in participatory events, and how many of us sit on the sidelines, watching those that do? How many of us attempt to rewrite the tale of those events in such a manner as to redefine our actual involvement for listeners that were not there? I witnessed a young child attempt this crossover at his mother’s wedding. While watching the kid, I realized that in the first chapter of my life I did this so often that it characterized me in a manner that I now deeply regret. This led me to wonder about the fruits of active participation versus the role of observer.

4) A Simplicity Trapped in a Complex Mind

How does the average person deal with the mentally challenged? What if this person’s tale involves a descent from a plane higher than his audience could ever imagine to a level that is so inexplicably low that the average person cannot contain an uncomfortable giggle? How would the average man deal with that?

Everyone in The Family Liquor Store knew the story of a man of excessive talent that went crazy “Like That!” they would say with a snap of their fingers. The Family Liquor Store rested on the corners of despair and failure, and David Hauser was their effigy, but no one knew how a man could fall as far as he did. We did have an answer, and it made us all feel better about ourselves to know it.

5) You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Anymore!

The adult baby is a forty-something male that has evolved through conditioned responses. He has learned that life will proceed just fine without him, and this has trapped him in a phase of mental adolescence that he finds comfortable. Yet, he finds ways to define himself to the detriment of those in his immediate surroundings.

6) And Then There’s Todd

Confusing frustration was the result of my friendship with a man named Todd. As a person described as ‘not ugly’, I realized that if I was going to have any success with women, I would have to do so with my mind. A ‘not ugly’ person, I learned, is going to have to dazzle women with clever humor. Todd was a fellow member of this non-exclusive ‘not ugly’ club, yet the man was not clever. Todd had no discernible attributes, as far as I was concerned, yet his stature among the ladies was unquestionably better than mine was. What made his numerous exploits so frustrating and inexplicable was that Todd was an oaf. As a nineteen-year-old young man, Todd had yet to learn how to tie his own shoes, and he feared cotton balls, but he somehow managed to date the most beautiful women in the establishment we worked in together. What was his secret? I am sure Todd was as confounded as we all were.

7) When Geese Attack

What happens when geese attack? Those of us that have watched an episode of Shark Week –or one of the other, all too numerous home movie, reality-oriented clip shows that appear on just about every network now– have witnessed what happens when animals attack humans. Those of us that have watched enough of these videos know the formula. We know that the victims will discover that the one consistent truth about nature is that there are no consistent truths. There are methods to handling animals that those more accustomed to handling animals will relay to an audience to lessen the risk, but even the most experienced handler will state that there are no steadfast rules if a person hopes they can use rules to prevent a wild animal from ever attacking. Those of us that watch these videos often enough also know to expect the survivor state that they have no hard feelings for the beast that attacked them in the testimonials they offer at the conclusion of animal attack videos.

8) Don’t go Chasing Eel Testicles: A Brief, Select History of Sigmund Freud

The field of psychology was not Sigmund Freud’s first choice as a career choice. He chose to search for what, at the time, was considered the holy grail of scientific discovery the testicles of the eel. He failed to find what the premier scientists of his day could, and Don’t go Chasing Eel Testicles asks the question if that failure defined the rest of Freud’s career in a manner I’ve never heard historians ask before.

9) Charles Bukowski Hates Mickey Mouse

I remember what a shock it was to hear that the Sesame Street characters, Ernie and Bert, were gay. I remember thinking that the statement, whether true or not, was provocative, insurgent, and hilarious. I don’t remember the first person to say it, but I remember thinking that that person was on the cusp of something new, insidious, and transcendent. I remember thinking that this person was part of an insurgent generation that revolted against civil authority, through pop culture, in a manner that was not belligerent. I remember wanting to be at the forefront of that which didn’t just break down societal barriers, but left a wasteland in its wake. I remember being unconcerned with collateral damage. Children be damned, I thought. I wanted to be one of those that shook this whole two-liter bottle up, and I considered Ernie and Bert a good start. I remember wanting to convince the world, through repetition, that Mr. Snuffleupagus was stoned on the set of Sesame Street. I remember wanting to inform anyone that would listen that the Bradys were all stoned, gay, and involved in incest and anything else we might be able to come up with, to poke holes in the wholesomeness that led my fellow, broken home brethren to feel estranged. We were suffering on the other side of the tube, in our reality, and we found it disgusting that 60’s and 70’s TV should portray an idyllic image of a family that left the rest of feeling ostracized. I remember wanting to join these fights, until Hollywood vindicated us with a pot-smoking, lesbian enriched Brady Bunch movie that dealt with the realities we purported to be our existence.

10) Most People Don’t Give a Crap about You

I asked a professor of mine a detailed question regarding whether it was better to view humanity from an optimistic worldview or a cynical one. The professor told me that it didn’t matter how I viewed them, or if I was structurally prepared for their malfeasances, or deviance. He said that they don’t prepare for the manner in which we might view them, because they don’t notice us half as much as we think they do, because they don’t give a crap about us.

11) BusyBody Nation

It should have been an uneventful walk in the park on an otherwise uneventful Thursday, but a couple of begrudged busybodies interrupted my otherwise uneventful day. They could not permit my dog to chase a couple of ducks into the lake without making wild threats against me. I decided that the rest of us should push back against the tide of busybodies attempting to restore their definition of order by exposing them for who they really are.

12) The Balloonophilia Conflict

Make a general assessment about a noun (a person, place, or thing) in our culture today, and the assessor is bound to encounter a wonderful person defending that noun. The wonderful defense is that all such assessments are generalities. My counter to this ever-present defense is that all generalities are based on general rules, and while it is true that there are exceptions to general rules, the exceptions do not nullify the idea behind a general rule. If a speaker makes the claim that an individual engaged in freakish behavior 99.8% of the time is a freak, wonderful people will often focus on .2% anecdotal information regarding the fact that that freak is an exception to the general rule the speaker espouses.

“There are no absolute truths,” is a defense the wonderful employ.

“That’s a wonderful sentiment,” the speaker will reply, “but if it’s true 50.001% of the time, that’s good enough for me to accept it as general rule.”

13) Fear Bradycardia and the Normalcy Bias

There’s a reason that the “No Fear” ad campaign caught on as well as it did. We are empowered women and manly men that believe fear is a sign of weakness. We have precedent for every unexpected anomaly that might buckle our peers. The idea that fear is a warning message sent from the brain for self-protection is to be ignored and fought, because fear is fiction, and fear is propaganda to the well-traveled and experienced individuals that have lived in other locales far more tumultuous than the silly city you two now live in, and no silly weather anomaly can compare to what their cosmopolitan metropolis offered. This message is brought to you by those that had no fear, and it ended up resulting in their demise.

14) Conquering Fear: A Few Tips from Psychopaths

Is there anything we can learn from a psychopath? Is it possible to live a life without fear? How many times in our lives has fear altered our course? A psychopath might admit that living a life without fear has resulted in their incarceration, but when they look out at the rest of us, and how we’re unable to accomplish the simplest task without fear altering our plans, they think they have probably received an unhealthy dose of an otherwise good thing.

15) The Unfunny 

I’m not funny, and I’m not ugly. I was also not dating, and I knew plenty of not funny and not ugly fellas that were dating, and some of them, like Todd, managed to date some beautiful women. I was not happy. I decided to explore clever. Clever does not necessarily mean more intelligent, but it relies heavily on ingenuity and originality. Some might argue that those two words are synonyms, but I was an original personality that didn’t apply it well or often. “Oh, you’re original,” some of my closest friends have said in various ways over the years, “I’m not sure if that always works in your favor, but you are original.” The ingenuity occurred in the application process. I knew girls would not claw each other’s eyes out for clever, for that was an activity reserved for handsome, funny men, but years of experience with women whittled me out of that group. The question was how could I incorporate my unusual nature, that bordered on the obnoxious, with my irritating personality that some considered idiotic. I used the comedic stylings of Andy Kaufman as my template.

We dedicate this piece to the unfunny that think they’re funny. We know comedy is relative, but we’ve always been able to make our brother and dad laugh, and we say odd things that our grandparents delight in. At some point, truly funny people learn to branch out beyond immediate familiarity to universal material. When we, the unfunny, stepped out into the world, we ran into a wall. No one knew what we’re talking about, and we wanted to be funny. People like funny. Everyone wants to know what a funny person is going to say next. They enjoy funny analysis of people, places and things. Some of us have never been able to locate this universal definition of familiarity, and some of us don’t care. We dedicate this piece to us.

16) Anti-Anti-Consumer Art

Walking through an art gallery, the ubiquity of the anti-consumer theme struck me. How can every piece that focuses on the same theme be considered bold, daring, and a tour-de-force? One would think that an aspiring young rebel would acknowledge this ubiquitous theme by sticking a middle finger up in the parody that the theme has become by producing an anti-anti-consumer theme. Doing so, however, might land the piece the artist works so hard in the dreaded land of pro-consumer and pro-corporate.

17) The Expectation of Purchasing Refined Tastes

A friend provided us an excellent restaurant recommendation. She became our go-to-gal, for restaurant recommendations. We developed a bond with her, and it went to her head. She went from a fellow foodie to a foodist. She began to regard those that didn’t put enough thought in their diet as inferior beings. She detailed for us her preferences and made two things quite clear. She put a lot of thought into it, perhaps too much, and that thought led to her to begin branding people. She branded people wearing inferior clothing, those than drank an inferior coffee bean, and those that didn’t know the difference. She knew that most people prefer McDonald’s coffee, but she found comfort in the idea that those people were probably Americans, and they were probably truckers from Iowa. She led me to wonder if her progression was natural, or something endemic in the human need to feel superior about something.

Why is a dining experience at a Thai restaurant superior to one at Chucky Cheese? This piece is not about the quality of food at either locale, it’s about the superiority one feels informing another that they ate exotic food at a particular locale. Why is a wine from an exotic, foreign country considered a superior drinking experience when compared to an evening spent drinking a supermarket wine? It’s an experience the informed consumer must have and, and, detail for their friends. Coffee is another experience that people must indulge in for all the fruits of life. As I detail in the piece, blind taste tests judge McDonald’s coffee to be on par with some of the finer coffees available to the public, but it has no value at the water cooler at work the next day, not when compared to the refined, exotic Kopi Luwak bean. Drink that, and more importantly pay the exorbitant price tag for a drink of that, and the crowd at the water cooler will be hanging on your every word. The key word of this piece, just to give a tease, is the word expectation.

18) Every Girl’s Crazy about a Faint Whiff of Urine

How much money, effort, and time do we spend to have others consider us attractive? How many deodorants, scented shampoos, perfumes, colognes, and body washes do we purchase to mask the natural scent of our body and smell attractive? There are five scent-masking agents listed here, and the reader could probably think up three or four that we missed. How many hours do we spend spraying, brushing, scrubbing, applying, lathering, and repeating if necessary? Recent surveys have reported that scent factors very low on our list of things we seek in a mate. So, why do we do it? Why do we spend do so much money and effort trying to give the illusion that we don’t smell?

19) Esoteric Man

It would’ve been difficult for me to evaluate an advertising executive that was trying to sell my wife on radio ad space, because he dressed like every guy I hated in high school. I knew I was being unfair, but “We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.” Certain aspects of the way things are, are complicated by the way things were in our lives, and we cannot escape that fact.

The guy’s checkered pants reminded me of one of my many arch rivals in high school. The checkers were multi-colored, of course, but some of those colors were pink, and my arch rivals wore pink. I hated this ad exec. I hated him in the same manner I hated my arch rivals. The ad exec wore sensible shoes, chic eyeglasses, and he wore his hair in a coif. He was also a people person that knew how to relate to the folks, and I hated him before he said twenty words.

20) I’m Disgusting, He’s Disgusting, She’s Disgusting, Wouldn’t You Like to Be Disgusting Too?

I watched the show Seinfeld. I loved Seinfeld. I found the character’s peculiar demands for hygienic excellence hilarious, until I witnessed two grown men discuss their superiority on the matter and form a friendship on that basis. They both agreed that the common habits of their fellow man were gross, they both agreed that one particular person, that all three of us knew, was gross, and they agreed that our employer’s bathroom was an absolute cesspool of germs. I laughed in the middle of this discussion, in the same manner I laughed at the Seinfeld character’s obsessive quirks, but these two men weren’t laughing. They had smiles, but they were beaming smiles, the kind of smiles that one gives in recognition of finding a like-minded soul at long last.

21) Fear of a Beaver Perineal Gland

“Do you know what’s in that?” a friend of mine asked me, as I approached our table with a strawberry shake in hand.

Those of us that have heard this line, in reference to what we are about to consume, know where this conversation is headed. When we hear that our hygienic standards are subpar, that our homes are just teeming with pathogens and microbes, that the automobile we’ve chosen has some substandard emission that is harmful to the environment, we know that we can’t just run away. We put up with it, all of it, because the alternative means conceding to the idea that there’s too much knowledge out there.

22) Eat Your Meat! How Can You Show Appreciation for Life, If you Won’t Eat Your Meat?

Getting children to show appreciation for food is a time-honored concern that dates back to the cavemen. When the first children stated that they were sick of eating Mammoth, their mother probably felt compelled to remind her children of the sacrifice, and danger, their father faced to provide them with their meal of the day. Those days of acquiring food were much more perilous, and we can assume the kids knew that, but we can also assume that the kids still didn’t care. Later in the timeline, parents informed their children of the lack of preservation techniques available for their food, and how the children would have to eat up all their food, or it would go bad. Modern technology has provided safer and easier access to food, and it’s provided preservation techniques that have become so common, for so many generations of Americans, that even most parents have taken food for granted for the whole of their lives. We’ve never been hungry … not in the sense that others have known hunger.

23) Groundhogs, Led Zeppelin, and Our Existential Existence

We love to define ourselves through artistic venues. It’s who we are, and we believe that listing off our current preferences provide our audience a concise definition. Our tastes in all of the art forms define us, of course, but the appreciation of music appears to have a greater universal appeal than other art forms, and this provides us a more common denominator of what we are versus other fans of music. The question this idea spawns is do we control our characteristics, in this manner, if music is this great barometer? In high school, our favorite music artists changed by the day, dictated to us by the prevailing winds of “cool”. We might believe that at some point in our lives, we leave that mercurial teenage mindset behind us, as our high school years become smaller and smaller in our rear view mirror, but some social scholars have stated that we never leave high school.

24) Find Your Own Truth

“Find your own truth,” was the advice author Ray Bradbury provided an aspiring, young writer on a radio call-in show.

Most people loathe vague advice. We want answers, we want that perfect answer the helps us over the bridge, and a super-secret part of us wants those answers to be easy, but another part of us knows that a person gets what you pay for in that regard. When we listen to a radio show guesting a master craftsman, however, we want some nugget of information that will explain to us how that man happened to carve out a niche in the overpopulated world of his craft. We want tidbits, words of wisdom about design, and/or habits that we can imitate and emulate, until we reach a point where we don’t have to feel so alone in our structure. Vague advice, and vague platitudes, feels like a waste of our time. Especially when that advice comes so close to a personal core and stops.

25) The Best Piece of Advice I’ve Ever Heard

“You’ll figure it out,” Rodney Dangerfield informed a young, aspiring comedian that sought his counsel on how to succeed in their shared craft.

The first thought that comes to mind when one reads the Dangerfield quote, is that the respected comedian was being dismissive. We can guess that aspiring comedians have asked Rodney various forms of this question so many times that he’s grown tired of it. Thus, when this comedian approached Rodney, Rodney said whatever was necessary to have this comedian leave him alone. Either that, or Dangerfield found the answer to that question to be so loaded with variables, and so time-consuming, that he didn’t want to go down that road again with, yet, another aspiring comedian. Dangerfield might have even viewed the young comedian’s act, and decided that it was so bad that he didn’t know how to fix it.

26) Know Thyself

Philosophers, bothered by the pesky complaints of philosophy fans wanting them to be more direct in their philosophies, believed that the Ancient Greeks granted them a gift in the form of a maxim. Among the many things, the Ancient Greeks offered the world was a simple inscription found at the forecourt of the Ancient Greek’s Temple of Apollo at Delphi, and reported to the world by a writer named Pausanias.

It was what modern day philosophers might call the ancient philosophers’ “Holy Stuff!” moment, and what a previous generation would call a “Eureka!” moment, and to all philosophers since, the foundation for all philosophical thought. For modern readers, the discovery may appear vague, and it was, but it was vague in a comprehensive manner from which to build the science of philosophy. It was a discovery that provided the student of philosophy a Rosetta stone for the human mind and human involvement, and the Ancient Greeks achieved it with two simple words:

“Know Thyself.”            

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