The enlightened cat-owner will decorate every room of his home in a manner that complements his cat’s color and body-type.
This blog turned two years old yesterday. No party, no cake, no balloon animals. I had in fact forgotten the event until WordPress sent me a cheery note of congratulations.
Once I was reminded, the milestone did make me think. I thought hard about this blog, enabling me to ignore several more pressing topics that would have required greater effort and focus. The automated reminders at WordPress saved me when I needed them, and I’d extend my thanks if they cared.
After two years this blog has published a couple of hundred posts, has collected a couple of hundred followers, and draws a modest readership on the days I post something. That generates a few comments and a few “likes.” All of which is fine.
However, my last post has led me to wonder whether perhaps I don’t understand my audience. I cross-posted that item to the Humor section of a public blog forum. I figured that my audience consists of people wanting to laugh. I was unprepared for the volume of hits on my post. It exceeded my normal volume by a factor of 50. It shocked me.
My post’s ratings on the forum were a bit more positive than negative, but one fact really astounded me. Out of the thousands of people who came to my blog from that forum, not one signed up to follow the blog. Maybe the post was poor, and I’m not denying that possibility. But maybe I’m kidding myself when I think the “Humor” folks are my audience.
I’ve decided to ask you, the people who spend time reading these posts, to please help me out here. I am in the most emphatic manner possible not asking for an ego boost. But I would appreciate suggestions and ideas about who my audience really should be and where I might go to find them. Who would like this stuff, and where are they?
Thanks to everyone who has read and supported this blog. I’ll try to remember the party next year. No clowns and balloon animals, though. Hookers and vodka—maybe.
Because I am the best husband in the world, I recorded a Disney film on our DVR and left it there for my wife to find when she went to watch “True Blood.” I admit it wasn’t a premeditated act, but that doesn’t invalidate my best-husband status.
You see, Friday night while my wife slept I sat on the couch watching 13 Assassins. I simultaneously scanned the guide for upcoming programs because I can’t just look at the TV like a regular person, and I noticed that the film Brave would be playing at 5:20 AM. I thought, What would the best husband in the world do? Within moments I’d scheduled the recording and returned to my festival of samurai disembowelings.
My wife giggled when she discovered the recording. Well, that’s probably a lie. I wasn’t there, and she hasn’t giggled more than a dozen times in recent memory. She’s just not a giggly girl. But she did express great happiness and appreciation for my husbandly prowess.
Then I mentioned to her the vicious, eye-gouging, internet-shredding riot that erupted when Disney made the movie’s protagonist, Merida, an “official” Disney princess. The character’s elevation to “official” status wasn’t controversial, but the makeover art Disney gave her caused heads to fly off. I won’t go into detail, other than to say they redrew the character to match the artistic style of the older official princesses, and at the same time they wiped out lots of her tomboy individuality. And they took about ten inches off her waist, I guess because an official princess can’t be proportioned like an official real person.
After an internet shelling that made the Battle of Verdun look like On Golden Pond, Disney relented and dropped the new art. I understand their need to make the art consistent, but I think some of the changes kind of sucked. Check them out for yourself:
I don’t want to get all spun up about the changes, but when I was looking for a makeover photo to show my wife I stumbled onto something else. I found a number of backlash comments slamming the movie, the heroine, director Brenda Chapman, and all the damned whiners who whined in their whining voices about the makeover. Here’s one example, with the commenting lady’s name omitted:
“Ms. Chapman could not finish this film herself. It was Disney who made it and it should be Disney that is championed. In the super hero line up of princesses- yes the wonderful heroines of films we love such as Snow White, Mulan, Belle etc. all had braver story lines than Merida who poisoned her mother and just felt kinda bad about it. The character was drawn in this clip art by a woman and Merida was drawn to match the world of the characters who were created as early as the 1930’s. To bring them all into the same world they needed to be drawn a bit differently than they appeared in the film. Perhaps Disney should remove Merida from the princess line up- just like they removed Brenda.”
– A Person Who Is Quite Unhappy About All This
I didn’t want to dismiss these objections just because they seemed kind of spiteful. Maybe this person has some real insight. So I considered her argument for a bit, which seemed to revolve around the story and the character being lousy compared to previous Disney films. Then I examined some of those classic films, extracting the plot and moral of the story for each, so I could compare them to Brave for myself.
The most beautiful girl in the kingdom runs away when the Wicked Queen tries to rub her out. The girl cooks and cleans for seven short guys until the Queen tries to kill her again. The short guys stick her comatose body inside a glass box and set it beside the road as if it were the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. She lays there until a handsome prince comes along and plants one on her, waking her up. They fall in love.
Moral: It pays to be beautiful, lucky, and handy in the kitchen.
A beautiful girl’s widowed father marries a vile harpy and her two ugly daughters, and then he dies. The harpy and her daughters treat his beautiful girl like ass-crust. Meanwhile, the king prepares a party to find his handsome son a wife, and he invites every girl in the kingdom. The bill for punch will be murder. Some handily dexterous mice sew the girl a pretty dress so she can go to the party, then her awful step-sisters destroy it, and then a fairy magically sends the girl to the party anyway, where the prince falls hard for her. After some magical mishaps, the prince tracks her down using her shoe. They fall in love.
Moral: It pays to be beautiful, nice to rodents, and have supernatural beings helping you.
A snubbed evil sorceress curses an infant princess to die when she first touches a spinning wheel. Rather than just destroying all the spinning wheels in the land, three good fairies change the curse so that the princess will just fall asleep upon spinning-wheel-contact. They take her to the forest, where she grows into a beautiful princess. She meets a handsome prince in the woods, and they fall in love. The evil sorceress brings the hammer down on her curse, knocking the princess into a coma. The prince then kills the evil sorceress and wakes the princess with a kiss. They continue to be in love.
Moral: Don’t piss off evil sorceresses. And of course it pays to be beautiful.
A willful princess so badly hates the idea of being married off against her wishes that she breaks the rules, defies her father, destroys property, and casts a spell on her mother, which turns the nagging woman into a bear. The princess realizes she screwed up and looks for a way to de-bear her mother, having some heartwarming moments with mom along the way. She at last finds a way to break the spell, contritely offers to marry whomever she’s told to marry, and risks her life to help her clan prevail in one of the giant killer bear attacks that had recently become so common. Everyone agrees that children don’t have to be paired up like show poodles, and the princess spends the afternoon riding horses with her mom.
Moral: You don’t deserve to be your own person if you only think about yourself.
After considering all of that, I’ll tell you right now which one of these girls I’d want to live happily ever after with. But what do I know? I’m just the best husband in the world.
Tired eyes? Looked at too many ugly things today? Listen to this post instead of reading it!
This morning I walked out of my bedroom and into a linguistic booby trap every bit as dodgy as pungi sticks smeared with excrement. My wife sprang the trap, which isn’t all that surprising. I don’t find many other people besides her outside my bedroom before breakfast.
My wife stood at the vanity, holding lipstick in her right hand and a plain red business card in her left. The card was blank except for a few words in her handwriting, which is as legible as hieroglyphics scratched out by a turkey smoking hashish. She waved the card and gave me a significant look before gazing back at the mirror. She said, “I wrote it down just in case you wanted to know about the other ones. There are two other ways to set it up, but I don’t know which one will make you happy.”
I wondered about her definitions of the words “it,” “one,” and “ways.” I went ahead and wondered about her definition of “happy” while I was at it. Since I didn’t have enough information to say something stupid, never mind something useful, I waited.
She went on, “I know we have some time, but my part is figured out, so you just need to decide on your part. We don’t have that much time, so I figured I’d better tell you about it now.”
I didn’t even try to understand that. I just catalogued words so that when any one pronoun got defined then the whole message would crystallize like a catalyst creating a snowflake. I nodded a little and waited for the narrative to continue.
My wife looked at the card and said, “It really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, especially the one I picked. You may decide you want more, but I don’t think we’ll need it since there’s probably a bar on every street corner.”
I narrowed my eyes at my wife, the woman who turns the consistency of motor oil when she drinks one fuzzy navel. I decided that I might have to ask what the heck she was talking about, but then she saved me by laying the business card on the vanity red-side down. The card’s other side read “Verizon,” our cell phone provider.
That semantic payload illuminated her entire message:
I smiled at my wife, as proud of my comprehension as any well-trained labradoodle. She did not say, “Good boy,” or anything that sounded like that. She gazed down from the innate moral high ground possessed by those who have jobs and said, “They have to send me a phone so it had better be done today, but I’m leaving in a few minutes and don’t know if I’ll be late, so you’ll take care of it, won’t you?” Of course I said okay.
I planned to execute my cell phone task with the brutal precision of Sherman marching through Georgia. Yet the next 90 minutes of my life resembled a fourth-grade kickball game rather than a precise military campaign that would leave the South psychically scarred for 150 years.
The people I spoke to at Verizon were friendly, knowledgeable, cooperative, and yearning to help me to the extent that my own lack of preparedness allowed. Which was almost not at all. Juanita told me everything I needed to know, including that I wasn’t an authorized user on our account. (My wife went with Verizon first and then sucked me in.)
Since I was logged in to our account right there on the dang website, Juanita asked if I knew our special, secret billing code, which would let her make me an authorized user. I had no idea. She encouraged me to give it a go and said she had confidence that I could guess it if I tried hard. I tried hard and failed every time.
I couldn’t call my wife. She’s a court reporter and can’t just take calls. “Just hold that thought, Your Honor, my husband is calling to tell me what a dope he is.” I sent her a text and an email pleading for help, but she didn’t respond. She was clearly busy documenting how some lawyer was calling another lawyer an asshole. At that point Juanita could do nothing else for me, and she tried to cheer me up as we ended the call.
I scrutinized the website for non-obvious avenues that Verizon may have left available for loyal but simple-minded customers. There were none. I went to the “Make Your Foolish Husband An Authorized User” screen, and I spent 30 minutes trying to crack it using guile, guesswork, and rage.
I really, really didn’t want my wife to come home and find that I’d failed to get this done. I might as well be sitting up in bed eating bon-bons when she arrived.
At last, some shadowed recess of my subconscious vomited forth the secret password. I was in! I set myself up as an Authorized User, and Verizon sent me a text with a new password. I logged on, and the website presented me with an enormous page of empty boxes I was required to fill. It included picking another new password, a security question, a personal security phrase, and a security image from a gallery of several hundred lovely photos. I am not kidding. Despite the time it took to fill all this out, I felt a bit giddy from all the security goodness that we were setting up around my account.
Then I clicked submit, after which the site asked me to log on. And it rejected me for a bad password. I tried again. No luck. And again, only to fail. The site locked me out. That’s when I got really mad.
After requesting a new password, I went through the whole process again, filling in all the required boxes and the fortress of security questions. It rejected me again.
Like a fool I went through the whole thing one more time. Yet more rejection. It felt like high school.
Then I realized that although the website hated me, Juanita had been nice to me. And now I had our special, secret billing password. I called Verizon, forgot my wife’s login password (necessary now for some reason), and stalled the whole process when I transposed digits in her social security number. Patricia pitied me and let me try again as if she were running some remedial spelling bee.
At last I had provided all the required passwords, codes, identifications, and challenges. If we’d been on video chat I’m sure there would have been hand signals. Patricia took care of everything I needed in a happy, efficient way. We declared victory and told each other how great we were.
Ten minutes later my wife texted me our special, secret billing password, which of course she’d told me about weeks before. I was able to reply, “No problem! It’s all done now!”
A little self-respect is nice. Besides, it’s not as if I’m just sitting around the house doing nothing. If I hurry I can scoop the cat litter before she gets home.
Photo by Ahgee via Wikimedia Commons
This is an experiment, hopefully not the kind that ends with a hole eaten in the table or someone turned into a bug-human hybrid.
Last week I found myself reading one of these posts aloud to a person. It might have been in a therapist’s office, or in a job interview, or at the cleaners. They run together sometimes. The person listening to me said, “Hey, you should try reading some of that stuff out loud and putting that on your website.” This evening I waited a bit too long for dinner and tanked my blood sugar, annihilating my resistance to that suggestion.
Below I present one audio track containing the post “Why Your Cat Hates You.” Posting such a thing may be a wonderful idea, or it may be lunacy. I get credit for wonderful ideas. Lunacy gets blamed on my therapist/hiring manager/dry cleaner. Either way, I appreciate any comments about whether this sort of thing should happen again.
Quick, count the number of computing devices within six feet of you right now. For me, that number is four. It would be five if I counted the laser printer, which does contain more computing power than Apollo 11. But there’s really only one criterion when determining whether a device deserves to be called a computer–can you play Solitaire on it?
Here’s a peek at my office:
How did it come to this? I remember the day I got a pager. It seemed like science fiction, just one step away from having a Star Trek communicator three inches above my left nipple. I thought, “No matter where I go, now they can always reach me. My life won’t be worth living.”
My life was still worth living, at least most of the time, but I had no more excuses for not coming when my bosses called me. I was like a circus tiger perpetually crouched on a pedestal. I couldn’t rest because the jump-through-a-flaming-hoop command might come at any moment. It’s an imperfect analogy, since I was unable to leap onto the VP of Marketing and bite his face off, although if I’d been able I feel certain I’d have done it.
Cell phones made this worse. Suddenly I couldn’t dawdle before I answered a page, pretending I was at the movies or in church. When the phone rang someone was right there on the other end demanding that I talk to them immediately no matter what I was doing. I could have let it go to voice mail, but nothing curdles my happy face like sitting on an un-checked voice mail that I suspect won’t be much fun to listen to. Might as well answer the damned call and get the misery out of the way.
I perform at a themed festival set about 500 years before cell phones were invented. It seems like half our paying customers are on their phones at any particular moment. I have to treat those phones as something other than cell phones. So, I tell people they have enormous, hideous leeches pressed to the side of their head, sucking out their brains. No one’s ever been offended. Almost everyone has laughed. Lots of people have voiced their sincere agreement with my premise.
Cell phones are wonderful devices that we cherish, and upgrade, and trick out with Lady Gaga ring tones, but on some level we despise them. They chain us to those who would steal the minutes of our irreplaceable lives.
I love computers though. I remember the day I bought my first computer, and I remember the day I first built a computer. I remember the day I swore I’d never build another computer because a Japanese assembly line could build them cheaper than I could buy the parts. There’s nothing bad about computers. Except that they enable our own poor judgement to steal the minutes of our irreplaceable lives. I go on the internet to look for shoes, and five hours later I’m staring at animated, dancing muskrats in fishnet stockings singing “The Boys Are Back In Town.” I don’t remember how I got there. If I did, I might not be able to stand the shame.
Now all the devices have been combined. Every cell phone has Solitaire. You can make phone calls from your computer. Each device links you to people and information all over the world. Each device enables you and every person in the world to waste your time like your life was just an all-you-can-eat buffet with endless shrimp fried rice.
If all this new-fangled modern computing is like Star Trek come to life, I’d like to report that it has great promise but is somewhat flawed. I’d expect better from an advanced, utopian society that seems to have no problem with inter-species sex. Maybe we should have started with different technologies, like those steaks that pop out of the walls.
Photo by Josh Semans.