January 31, 2021

The Radical Search for the Gooey Center, or Honey, I Shrank the Badger, or Billy Pilgrim's Progress

Nostalgia isn't what it used to be.  We yearn for a time that is past and gone. Perhaps, it never was.  If you are confused now, just wait.  We ask that you keep up, and just get with the program. As a teacher once scolded me and some friends who were trying to change the course of simulated history, "don't ruin it for all the other kids." 

Which brings us to the heart of the matter-dislocation, dislocation, dislocation. Dislocation occurs when a bone slips out of a joint. That is a physical definition.  But what of the mental dislocation when time itself is out of joint?   

As a young man, I was consumed with Philip K. Dick and his worlds of shifting realities.  Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean someone isn't out to get you.  

But paranoias were simpler then.  The paranoia virus had not yet mutated, into our "modern" variants and conspiracy theories, and alternate realities.   Dick's writing, fueled on amphetamines and poverty, presented a world of nebbish characters, who would slowly find out that the world they thought they knew, was not in fact the real world at all.  Little by little, the world would start to degrade, the ground would begin to melt, and chaos, as funny as he depicted it, would begin to swallow these characters whole.  While his characters were not consciously unreliable narrators,  they began to doubt the reality of their own experiences.  They began to lose trust in their cognitive ability to discern what was real and what was not. 

"Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing."  Shakespeare

Or in the words of David Bowie, "Where the fuck did  Monday go?"  

As we enter year two of the pandemic Covideodrome 19, remember the dangers of early adopting technology.  Witness James Woods in the Cronenberg movie Videodrome.  

Now that's got to hurt.  

Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time.  We are told that becoming unstuck is analogous to living from moment to moment.  Only the moments are not chronological.  Logic is thrown out the window with the baby and the bathwater.  To the man on the street who looks up, and says in disgust, "More babies, more bathwater."   

Come on, a nice hot bath will sort you out.  Except after a year of soaking, your skin is so porous, you can barely keep your soft gooey center  from filling the tub.

Next week, we get Groundhog Day.   Will Punxsutawney Phil, the world's oldest rodent,  see his shadow, and there will be seven more years of pandemic?   Are there more Punx named Phil than there were Lassies?  The Old Farmer's Almanac instructs us in how the groundhog fit into this ancient festival.  Historically, a groundhog wasn’t the animal of choice: a bear brought the forecast to the people of France and England, while those in Germany looked to a badger for a sign.  Perhaps a honey badger would be a better mascot for 2021. 

Speaking of honey badger, doesn't that sound like a comfort food of the week?   An unfortunate side effect of all this staying inside is Instagram food photography.

Too many food selfies that look like someone got sick, and now it's boiling.  

HONEY BADGER (Wuhan Style)  (recipe not available at this time)

Please note: Badger is not easy to find at your local supermarket.  There are butchers who specialize in game.  And finding a badger, and covering them in honey is a game not to be taken lightly.   Personal Protective Equipment is necessary.  I dare say, you may want to vaccinate before even attempting it.  

January 3, 2021


As a child, one of my greatest fears was quicksand.  Because there were so many opportunities to drown in quicksand where I lived.  You could literally not walk to school without falling into a giant pit of quicksand. And if that wasn't bad enough, you almost always were tripping on the heads or hands of beautiful young, scantily clad persons of the feminine persuasion.  

In television and movies, quicksand was everywhere.  It was a common danger in those days, what I call my Wonder Bread years, between 5 and 15.  We knew nothing about cholesterol, or alcohol, or almost anything at all.   But we knew the perils of quicksand.  

There was a strange show called The Wild, Wild West with patriot Robert Conrad.  It was all about his wild adventures in ...you guessed it...the Wild Wild West.  To make matters worse, his name was West.  Jim West.  I don't remember Jim West drinking any damn martinis, like a suave Englishman of similar bent.  He was quite the macho dandy, with guns that slid out his sleeve.  I actually don't remember too much about the show, except it was a weird mashup of a Western, Fantasy and Science Fiction, perhaps a precursor to Westworld.  

There were about 100 or more episodes, and it ran from  1965-1969 before falling victim to the efforts by Network TV to reduce violence on television.  Considering that every night, we were watching burning children and other atrocities live from Vietnam, assassinations of President Kennedy, his assassin Lee Harvey Oswald,  Martin Luther King and the President's brother, reducing violence was somewhat ironic.


I am not even sure there was an episode with quicksand on The Wild, Wild West, but it would have fit right in.   My mother told me once of a time, when as a teenager,  she and her friends were caught out on the mudflats near Crescent Beach, and narrowly avoided the fate of quicksand.   
True story.   That she told me a story, that part was true for sure.  The other part about the quicksand, I'm not so sure.

At some point, I guess that I lost my fear of quicksand.  Don't misunderstand me,  I'm still terrified of drowning in quicksand. But even though I live in the Tea Swamp, it is the houses that are sinking, not any young scantily clad vixens.  

While it is a known fact that quicksand loves vixens, like dogs love kleenex, I also don't run into many vixens these days.  But that doesn't mean they don't exist.   Somewhere, vixens are still being lured into quicksand, while my dreams are more like how "they" are turning hotels into apartments, or how I forgot my pants on the way to work.   


January 2, 2021

Craps on a global stage: Lists, Numbers, Stats, Slights, Slots. 2020, a year in review

Welcome to 2021. A brand new year.   Let us summarize the previous year, what we have accomplished, and hopefully where  we go from here.

In 2020, I wrote 19 posts.  

The most read was The Stages of Pandemic Grief.  We can see that the numbers have fallen off in the last two months; our team of analysts have yet to discover the reasons for this.  I once remarked that shit happens - for a reason.  My wife corrected me.  Shit happens, she said, and then we search for reasons.  Sometimes there is no reason, sometimes the answer is that there is no answer.  Choices are only chance, luck, fate, a lottery ticket forgotten in the jacket you are buried in.  

One thing for certain,  we are stuck on shuffle, the random elements are ruling the roost. Someone left a cake out in the rain.  We don't think that we can take it, but we find out that indeed we can take it. We have no choice but to take it and pretend we like it.  

Men don't need reasons to make lists up.  It is programmed in the suicidal genes, the X chromosome. When I was a young boy, I made up all kinds of lists.  I made up lists of all the countries in the world.  I wrote these down on graph paper, the forerunner of the spreadsheet.  

I wrote the names of all the capitals, and then all the leaders from A-Z.  Then I would stage wars with these countries, rolling a pair of dice to determine the fate of  Trinidad or French Congo.   Perhaps these dice games were not so far off from the way the real leaders played out their games of chance.

I progressed from graph paper to Strat-O-Matic Baseball. Every team, every player, and every season new cards arrived.  Nerds like me would replay entire seasons, compiling our own stats in the Strat -O-Matic world.   

My favourite team was the San Francisco Giants, with Willie Mays, Bobby Bonds ( father of disputed Home Run King*- Barry Bonds), Juan Marichal, Willie McCovey, Chris Speier, Tito Fuentes and so many more.  Even the lousy players had their own cards.  

Kansas City Royals had a guy named Freddie Patek.  Now all you Royals fans, don't assume I am calling Freddie a lousy player.  Nothing can be further from the truth. The numbers don't lie.



























I have no idea why my brain dredged old Freddie up.  Perhaps nostalgia for guys named Freddie.  My dad was named Freddie.  I had a teen friend named Fred, who moved away to Louisiana.  In those days, when friends moved away, you wrote them letters.  Now I don't even remember his last name, and yet I remember Freddie Patek.

Fun fact for nerds: the singular form of dice is die.   The word die comes from Old French ; from Latin datum "something which is given or played". In English, the most common way to make nouns plural is to add an S. If die followed that rule, its plural form would be dies."

So it may not be that great a leap to think that life and death could be determined by the roll of the dice. 

Games involving dice are mentioned in the ancient books. There are several biblical references to "casting lots" , as in Psalm 22, indicating that dicing (or a related activity) was commonplace. 

I digress here, but what was the psalm with the casting couches?  

Dice are very popular, and men, being creatures of  habit, are drawn to games of chance.  As sex can be the greatest game of chance, Sex dice is actually a thing.  This dice game is intended to heighten the sexual atmosphere and promote foreplay. Instead of numbers, each face on the dice contains the name of a body part; the body part that faces up when the die is rolled must then be given sexual attention.
The Daily Princetonian suggests rolling sex dice to "break the ice and extend [one's] foreplay." The University Daily Kansan advises a roll of the sex dice for those who are not particularly limber (and therefore cannot try "new and inventive position[s]") as a means to "bring variety to [one's] bedroom romps."

Dorothy, even Kansas isn't Kansas anymore.   What is this strange world we have landed in?  Why are the men so short, and the monkeys so winged?  Freddie Patek played shortstop for Kansas.

And bedroom romps.  Was there much romping going on in 2020? Is anyone still romping?  God bless you if you are. Romping is to play or frolic in a lively or boisterous manner, while a romp goes back to the game theory and notes a definitive win.  2020 had few romps, as most everyone was obsessed with numbers, counting of numbers, recounts of numbers, fake numbers, real numbers, so many fucking numbers.  So much lucky, as I like to say.   
Ready for a new roll? 
Another game, shall we? 

What'll it be? 
Snake eyes?