STUCK FOR AN ANALOGY WHEN your well-intendeds provoke a horrible mess that you should have known better than to bother with? Then “Don’t Poke The Squid.”
Squid are lovely, largely inoffensive creatures who flash and lurk throughout the ocean’s vasty deep. They have eight tentacles and two arms; all appendages have suckers, some jaggedly toothed. They flail something awful when disturbed, and can entwine sperm whales and dance them to death. What chance has an unwary swimmer? Thus, for your own safety and health, “Don’t Poke The Squid.”
(Usage of this metaphor is subject to payment via pizza or Paypal. Thankee sirormadam, and g’blessye.)
DO YOU PRACTICE AN ART form, or a life form?
ONCE YOU REALIZE THAT YOU’RE not (insert your favorite author here), you can begin to make your own good things.
PAY ATTENTION, CLASS: TODAY WE learn from David Feldman, American, how to correctly structure a portable visual joke (in this case, a bumpersticker) for maximum satiric and comic effect.
First point: Understand the medium. The human eye travels a line of text, or what the brain immediately assesses as same, from left to right.
Second point: Camouflage. On a black background, the eye first registers a patriotic symbol — an American flag overlaying a proud bald eagle’s profile — followed by a line of white text.
Third point: Reinforcement. A sturdy sans-serif, all caps: “MY COUNTRY RIGHT OR … ”
Fourth point: Misdirection. The brain, conditioned by years of living within the Lower North American political ecosystem, anticipates a conditioned jingoism.
Fifth point: Gotcha. The text finishes: ” … RONG.” The brain is wrenched from its self-woven cocoon by the unexpected monosyllabic truncation, and explodes into laughter. Its owner reaches for a handkerchief or small towel.
REMEMBER THE MONOSYLLABIC TRUNCATION. THERE WILL BE A TEST.
IF THERE IS ANYTHING SCARIER than writer’s block, I hope I never discover it.
For me, writer’s block is more than just an inability to string together something pretty or useful. It’s like losing half or more of my personality.
Everyone sees the world differently; writers even more so. There’s a sort of constant subconscious framing of experience that we all do just to survive with some sense of perspective. To a writer, that perspective is a little closer to the surface, a touch more accessible, like a good friend who’s constantly mumbling beauty under his breath. When that friend goes away, nothing seems fun anymore. It’s worse than a bad breakup, because at least you can serenade your ex, at least until the cops show up. But the writer’s friend has no spatial location, nothing to grab onto or plead with. It must, like the court order, be merely endured.
See? If I didn’t have writer’s block, that would have been funny.
But eventually the clouds lift, or you plod through them with a shovel, mixing metaphors to beat the band until something just clicks
and the world suddenly makes sense again.
For a while.
“FUN’S FUN, GENERAL. BUT THIS …”
LIKE MANY LATE 20th/EARLY 21st CENTURY Westerners, I have seen a lot of music in my day. This makes me prone to “ohrwurms,” as the the Germans call them — “earworms” — those annoying songs in your head that JUST WON’T STOP excuse me.
A new weapon has been unveiled in the fight against unwanted brain abrasion. Simply point your browser to http://unhearit.com/ for Unhearit.com: Get That Damn Song Out Of Your Head. They’ll instantly give you a catchy tune that’ll knock the one in your head right into next week. (This week, of course, you’ll be hearing the one you clicked on, unless it sets up one of those standing waves where you contemplate Tolstoy’s white horse for twenty minutes before going about your business. Me, I’m going to put on a little Schumann.)
IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE Renaissance Pleasure Faire and a guy named Greg Pursley, who hired me to help him sell fencing lessons in Elizabethan garb and accent. The Cardiff Rose was no mere concession but a virtual privateer, with each crewmember having a complete character history as an aid to improvisational acting. (Fun? “Those who know, grin.”) In the interests of all-in-one-eggbasketry writingwise, I’m including here my own, or rather that of “Will Thrustwell,” purple prose and all, just as written in 198…8? 9? It’s necessarily in-jokey for a tight circle of friends (and includes the origin of “Trolle Sweate,” a particularly potent potable with which “Thrustwell” is synonymous). Some of whom may get a bit of a nostalgic hoot hereout, others may simply enjoy. I know I did. (Even the “heaving, tortured bosom.”)
UPDATE: I just Googled “Will Thrustwell” on a whim. All I can say is, “If it’s not a pirate, it’s not me.”
Thrustwell’s Tale, or Beware the Bottle
(Being the Somewhat Revised, yet Mercifully Succinct, History
Senior Pilot of the
Set down by his good friend Peter Boggs, Special Correspondent to the London Illustrated News
Read more »
A GOOD DAY IS ONE in which the artist heaves a stone and the ripples wash up smiles and murmurs.
(Or, put another way, “Blessed be the One who makes the makers.” I don’t know that one needs to “believe” in a “Creator” (or even a “creator”) for that metaphor to work. I hope not. A friend who’s a nurse speaks of the contention-avoiding “Design Group,” which both sounds cool and works well whether you take literally “impersonal forces,” Genesis 1:26 or anything in between. It’s a fine sport to find the universal metaphor embodying the idea of First Cause-ness outside of a specific agency, or even necessity. The Talmud attributes the creation of miracles to the evening of the last day of Creation itself — miracles as nothing more than well-timed and -intended natural occurrences — to which someone added “Including (blacksmith) tongs, which were made with tongs.” When I speak of First Causenesslessness, or even God, it is to just this sort of chicken-or-egg, we’re-all-here-now paradoxical origin as shrouded in mystery as the moment the first fish slithered ashore into the evolutionary chain. Somewhere or somewhen is a moment past which everything was different: the tongs were used, the chicken hatched, the amphibian evolved. It really doesn’t matter what we call it. What matters is that creating puts your hands on the moment of creation (or, if you like, the Moment of Creation). It brings something into the world that wasn’t there before — among other things, beauty, solidified intent, and self-evidence of simple existence.)
(None of which, unfortunately, fits on a bumpersticker. Ah, conciseness! thou’rt a fickle mistress.)
MY CREATIVE WIFE, ANN, HAS created something potentially important at http://sacredwilderness.net/2010/12/laughing-out-loud/ for those who wear their pride on sleeve, chest or coffeecup.
Mesmerizing, isn’t it? Act now and put this design on a T-shirt, tote bag or refrigerator magnet at http://www.cafepress.com/inyourhand. If applicable, Live The Acronym! and if commitedly applicable, let Sonoma Valley make your destination wedding dreams come true.)