Philosophy

Joy will rise

Joy will rise.

Trample on it, beat it down, it will live.

Joy is sunlight, it’s rain,

it’s life blazing up to the sky in vines and white flowers, it’s mud that shields the root, it’s wind breathing.

Do your worst—

joy will rise,

not to torment you, but because it must. It doesn’t know what else to do.

Birds open their throats and song pours out.

Joy will defy your gravity, always.

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Macaroni Pictures: When it’s not “good”, it’s just “good compared to your usual crap”. +PLUS+ #CocksNotGlocks shout-out!

Herewith my first stumbling attempt to use acrylic paint and canvas: My “painting” (I gagged a little bit when I said that) on the left, my photo on the right.

Oh, it is not.  Oh, stop it.   Really?  You think so?

I call this kind of work “macaroni pictures”. This subtle-as-an-alt-right-with-a-brick allusion is to the work that I produced, alongside my tiny, hapless colleagues, in kindergarten: bits of dried macaroni stuck haphazardly on construction paper.

This you would bring home to your mother.

“Oh my, would you look at that!” mine would exclaim, crushing out her Player’s A King Sized. Her compliments, with hindsight, were almost forensically non-committal, but always expressed with the forced gaiety and vocal extravagance of a coloratura soprano warming up for the sock-it-to-’em act one finale.

And she would give me a quick cigarette-breath kiss, with just enough enthusiasm to convince a needy six-year-old but not enough to cause me physical trauma through any swift, unintentional contact with her granite-solid hairdo, then stick the macaroni picture on the door of our avocado-green fridge.

My picture would quietly disappear a few days later, like the victim of a Stalinist purge, possibly incorporated into a plate of Kraft Dinner and hot dogs (and in my mother’s case, also possibly incorporating the construction paper); and my brief stab of sorrow at its passing was more than balanced by the flicker of relief that no macaroni picture existed as proof of my total inadequacy.

The whole episode, in fact, was a lesson in middle-class “whatever is unpleasant yet necessary shall be done but not discussed”, a fine-art version of eating the family pet.

“Macaroni picture” thus became my rubric for any creative attempt that falls laughably short in the objective scheme of things when measured against those with true talent (0 on a scale of 1 to 10, let’s say), yet still demands our unbridled enthusiasm towards the perpetrator because it’s “a good attempt FOR  A —

[six-year-old / mentally challenged co-worker/ recovering alcoholic / soon-to-be-ex partner]”

or whichever clingy, whiny bag of ballast you need to validate at that moment in order to ensure your and their mental well-being and make them shut the fuck up.

It’s the cultural relativist point of view. (I gagged a little bit when I said that.)

My friend is a talented artist and he explained that his first attempts were simply practising color gradations; he felt aiming for anything remotely ambitious would produce only inadequate (to his mind) and discouraging results.

But I’m made of stupider stuff. My existential position: “Take what you do well, throw it out, and try something you haven’t got a clue about.”

I’m not worried about my results being inadequate, because I’ve learned that the results are always inadequate. It’s the process that I’m looking for.

(I gagged a little … etc. etc.)

Actions can be macaroni pictures, too.  Some top-of-mind examples:

Hillary makes a macaroni picture every time she gets a weeny bit closer to telling the total, unvarnished truth.

Hillary Shillary, the gal we love to pillory! How does your garden grow?  That’s lovely!  On the fridge you go!

Trump makes macaroni towers, macaroni condos, macaroni kidney-shaped swimming pools, every time he flip flops and contradicts himself in such an endearingly imbecilic way that he seems almost Yuman.

By evening, though, he’s back on script and salivating like a pack of pit bulls at the thought of how much more Yuge he’ll get when he blows the planet to smithereens.

Donald!  Naughty billionaire!  Go to your Tower, and no Miss World contestant for you! {Question:  If Donald spends the night with a hooker, does that make her a “strumpet”?

You’re welcome!}

Your addicted buddy makes a macaroni picture every time she stands up at a 12-step revival meeting and proclaims, “I was NICE to someone today!!”

Well done, darling!

OK,  look. Can I tell you something?  Regular people do that all the time.  Like, it’s kind of the minimum expected norm,  ya know?

But you tried, didn’t you?  So we’ll congratulate you and award you a great big “E” for extra macaroni, you narcissistic bag of skin-filled-with-shit !  But no sauce!

L O friggin’ L!!

Your millennial friend makes a great, big piece of foamcore covered with penne when he puts down his electronic device, sighs audibly, and painstakingly washes the dishes he left in the sink three months ago, taking all afternoon to finish, and pointedly leaving out the two forks and dinner plate that “he didn’t dirty in the first place.”

So you wait until he’s asleep, sneak into his room, put your hands around his throat, choke him to death, then stuff his lifeless body down the garbage chute.

Tolerance—’cause it feels so good when you stop.

~

 


And a shout-out to those feisty free-thinkers at the University of Texas at Austin,  

who with great wit and even bigger balls are throwing their defiant weight against the troglodyte forces of the NRA and their rabid gun-loving demographic, the “guns don’t kill, people do” brigade.

(scroll down to continue)…

» Cocks not Glocks (Campus Dildo Carry)

cocks-not-glocks

Guns, unbelievably, are now permitted on campus – but sex toys, it seems, are not.  It’s the old “make love, not war” thing, and it does my bleeding, socialist-libtard Canadian heart good to see these young ‘uns recreating the original » Summer of Love , but with better fashion and less armpit hair.

Their Facebook page makes interesting reading (the version of “interesting” that takes, say, “American Psycho” as a baseline calibration).  There you will discover such edifying responses as ONE LADY’S POST, WRITTEN WITH THE CAPS LOCK ON, consisting mainly of the words “CUNT” and “BITCH”; men calling the protesters “sluts”—have we covered all the bases around “modelling how to treat women with respect” and “grown-up discourse”?—and at least one dimwit expressing the opinion that the Virginia Tech massacre in April, 2007, occurred because the students weren’t armed.

Well, no.  The Virginia Tech massacre occurred because the perpetrator was.  Is this rocket science?

Obscenity:  I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it, and I see obscenity as the legal “right” to carry a concealed weapon on a university campus, an institution supposedly dedicated to higher learning, the wonder of discovery and the cross-pollination of minds, not to mention satanic promotion of the gay agenda and sponsorship of your son or daughter’s first, tentative forays into group sex while shit-faced drunk.   Expert tip:  Don’t forget the bottle of “g”!

If y’all want to learn more, follow the link above.  And be grateful that the currrent generation is smart, surprisingly light-hearted considering what we’ve burdened them with, and most importantly: willing and more than able to speak truth to power.

I have a dream, brothers and sisters.  And it looks a lot like Campus Dildo Carry.

The Chrysler Building, for the Second Time

brokencup_0005

A beautiful, perfect, plain and pure white cup…

When I first visited New York City, in 2012, I went by bus, and distinguished myself at the end of the 10-hour journey, as we prepared to plunge into the Lincoln Tunnel, by hyperventilating noisily on my first sight of the glittering Manhattan skyline.

This, I reminded myself, was what I had been waiting for all my life: my homecoming to the city that had never been my home, my “Midnight Cowboy” moment.  It was merely a passing inconvenience that, to any casual observer, I was apparently in the throes of a psychotic meltdown or expiring from anaphylactic shock.

Luckily I was in New York City, and no one paid me the least attention.

I stayed in a hotel on the Lower East Side, Chinatown to be precise – I had chosen only the price range on a website that for some peculiar reason made hotel choosing into a kind of location lottery – a hotel whose rundown façade filled me with alarm, yet which, once I’d settled in and gotten my New York legs on, turned out to be not only acceptable, but charming.

This alarm-to-charm switchover was a metaphor for the city itself, and an apt first lesson for a New York neophyte, namely:  That anywhere else, a scary, too-small, sub-standard living unit might be a slum, but in The Big Apple it was a find.

For the next five days I set about living the way I fancied a real New Yorker lived, under the bemused, expert guidance of my friend, John, and heartened by the Looney Tunes capering of his fox terrier, Flora.

I brazened through Manhattan as though it were my private estate; traveled to Brooklyn on the subway (a quick and merciless ad hoc training session, consisting of a demonstrated swipe and a raised eyebrow, both administered by a real New Yorker in under five seconds, took place at my first, unsuccessful, attempt to mate MTA card and turnstile); and  refused to be a tourist, to gawk at Times Square, slouch around in trainers, or purchase tickets to some Broadway show.

I did, on the other hand, at 611 Broadway and purely by accident, find a branch of Crate and Barrel, where I bought two beautiful, perfect, plain and pure white cups and saucers from a deliciously snarky saleslady.

Everything about this saleslady was New York to me, from the nonchalant elegance of her outfit and the asymmetric perfection of her haircut, to her perfectly deployed daytime makeup and important yet self-deprecating jewellery;  when she greeted me with, “Can I help you?”, it was impossible to miss her silky undertone of Let me save you from yourself.

She had the air that working at Crate and Barrel was somewhat beneath her, but that just for my sake she would conquer her distaste and make a noticeable effort. I indicated the pure white cups and saucers I wanted, and to her credit, she whisked them off the display for wrapping as though no other selection would have pleased her quite as much. It was an admirable performance that somewhat mitigated my failure to have purchased tickets to anything at the Harold Clurman Theatre.

Everyone in New York, or so it seemed, dressed to impress;  walked, talked and ate to impress.  To step out of my alarming-then-charming hotel was to make an entrance, and god help you if you ended up on that stage in sweat pants and Crocs, with sticky palms and searching for your lines like an actors’ nightmare.  I soon understood that no effort I could yet make, no straining at fashion, or feigned worldliness or fast talking, would make the grade; I would never, not yet anyway, pass. The best I could hope for was not to be instantly labelled an out-of-towner.

For my first attempt, that would do.

Five days later, happier and wiser, I was no longer a New York virgin. My budget was blown; I’d seen the Monet waterlilies and Picasso’s “Le Desmoiselles d’Avignon”; I had shopped for food, been asked for directions, and made dinner for John; I’d been to Flatbush and, by the time I’d seen a guy jerking off at 23rd Street Station at four A.M., I felt reasonably confident that I’d covered all of the key New York experiences.  And I had acquired absolutely nothing that could be called a souvenir.

Nothing except those two beautiful, perfect, plain and pure white cups and saucers.

That evening I packed them with care for the bus ride home, taping the tissue paper in place and nestling them in the folds of a sweater so they wouldn’t be jostled. On the Megabus, all through the night, I checked on them hourly, as though I feared they might spontaneously crack and disintegrate as Egyptian relics are supposed to.  Sometime around Rochester I awoke with a start, believing that I’d only dreamed I’d packed them; that I’d actually abandoned them in the Chinatown hotel room.

~

Once installed in my Toronto apartment, my cups exerted a special power.  They created a morning ritual around themselves, made the mundane fact of caffeine addiction into a Zen ceremony. I loved the dark reflective pool of steaming coffee held in the thin circle of white porcelain, loved how the cup felt in my hand, how well balanced, how perfectly it met my lips.  I loved that we, the cups and saucers and I, had finally met, that we shared our secret of New York.

The cups and saucers began to relax, let their hair down, so to speak. The newness and optimism dissipated, and they became subtly but unmistakably aloof—

so that you felt they’d let you drink out of them, but would be hyper-vigilant for any rude noises you might make, and they’d watch to make sure you always used the saucer, so you shouldn’t dribble on your nice pants— klutz! –

– yet they were no less dear to me for all their little foibles.

~

I cherished those cups for the next four years; I guarded them like a father guards his nubile fifteen-year-old daughter. Not everyone got to drink out of those cups. Sometimes I would use one myself, but give my guest a two-dollar President’s Choice mug, just to make my position on their status clear, vis-à-vis my good dishes.

Sometime during the last reign of roommate terror, both the saucers got smashed in the Great Late Night Dishwashing Debacle, a tale too bloody to recount today. I must emphasize: Both saucers.

But I still had the cups.

Now it was like I’d bought my daughter a sports car and she was staying out late driving around with boys and getting home JUST in time so I couldn’t say anything about it.

Then one day — a day like any other day— I was in the kitchen and lo! the spirit of my mother shone round about me and I was sore afraid, and my arm made a great sweeping mother-movement and clattered through the stack of dishes like the rampaging hand of god and swept one of the cups off the draining board.

I actually cried out: “NOOOOOO!”  A great big werewolf howl.  As though howling could arrest the fall.  As though how I felt could change anything.

After all those weeks and months, after four years of caring for and protecting and chaperoning that cup, it was, in the end, me that broke it. Little old careless mother- distracted me.Chrysler-Building2

This is the way the world ends. Love, life, your white cups, your nice pants. Your marriage, your job, your great-aunts and your grandsons.  All the things you care for.

Everything:  All the people you mistrusted! All your wariness and boundaries and push-backs! And then it’s you that messes up!  You!

I actually contemplated smashing the other cup deliberately, right then, just to get it over with.   You know what I’m saying?

You only ever see the Chrysler Building once for the first time.

~

— {For John H. and Flora. Bisous. ♥}

♥♥♥♥ Qu♥tes t♥, like? Live by?!! L♥L!! ♥♥♥♥

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“Radioactivity!” – Egyptian child-goddess Po Ra. (This is your eagerly-anticipated Bonus Quote.  Since you asked.)

Just wanted you to be totally aware that I wasted some of my immeasurably valuable time in my Canadian Tire hip waders, sloshing through the digital swamp that is the “Innernet”, and why?

Why, the better to direct, albeit remotely, every tedious, one-more-Percocet-to-oblivion waking moment of your sorry life, that’s why.

OK?  You getting this down and suitably grateful?  Or at least pretending?

Armed with these cultured pearls of Woolworth-level wisdom – today’s fob-off for inspiration – your goal of achieving POTUS will seem, well,  just that few pathetic millimetres closer. If you were to stick your face right up to it.  Your goal, I mean.

Authentication and fact-checking:  You may be wondering.  These qu♥tes have been rigorously checked against my own entries on Wikipedia, “The encyclopedia you write yourself!”™ , and have received my approval.

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥
Qu♥tes t♥, like? Live by?!! L♥L!!

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

“You see this triangular-shaped mark on my right cheek?  You might think that was from Annie Sullivan.  But you wanna know the truth?  I answered the iron!  Yes, seriously!  Talk about your wa-WAAAA moment, eh?!

— Helen Keller

“Pierre – !  Where the ‘ell did I put ze radium ?   Zut alors !!”

— Marie Curie

“Sure, I changed, like, mankind’s understanding of space and time.  But I’d give it all up to have, you know.  Normal hair.  Seriously.  Let’s make absolutely sure we’re on the same page here:  I’m talking jet-black, straight, lanky, Japanese-style hair that looks like I stayed up all night ironing it.”

— Albert Einstein

“Wait a minute! Clamato juice … add vodka to clamato juice!  Whatever that is!  Seriously! And garnish it with – a stalk of celery!  They’ll love it in Des Moines!  Dude, are you getting this down?”

Julius Caesar

(Disambiguation: NOT Caesar Salad, who succeeded him).

“Hey, what did the Queen Mother give Fergie for her birthday?  A  trip to Paris, dinner at the Ritz, and a chauffeur-driven limousine!  I know.  I don’t get it either.  Anyway. What do you think with the blouse – scarf or tiara?” 

— Diana, Princess ♥f Wales

 Ask not what your country can do for you – just ask Marilyn to turn up around 7:20 at the Pentagon and proceed to the men’s washroom.  I’ll be in stall three.

— J♥hn Fitzgerald Kennedy

The only rule is don’t be bring and dress cute wherever you go. Life is too shrt to blend in. <giggle>

 Nels♥n Mandela

There is no such thing as society: there are individual men and women.

In my case, individual men and women with their noses falling off in big, leprous chunks. Seriously, EWWWWW!

—M♥ther Teresa

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.

— Arthur Sch♥penhauer

Mediocrity hits the broad side of a barn while driving a stretch Hummer filled
with overweight bridesmaids.  Sexting.

 Als♥ Sprach David R♥ddis

~

Penitence and Pie: Director’s Cut

DSCI0013.JPGIt’s one A.M., I’ve got a bad case of the screaming whats-its, and I’m baking a rhubarb galette.

You may be wondering.

A galette, my fine feathered friends, is in essence a pie (or “pah” if you’re from South Carolina), but not fancy-pants pie.  It’s pie for those of us who can just about shmoosh together whole-wheat flour, butter and water, but who balk at double crusts, crimped edges, cutting decorative steam holes and creating William Morris-like garlands from the scraps.

Nor, come to think of it, will our select group of balkers and nay-sayers ever tackle that absolutely splendid glaze that Nigella makes from artisanal quince jelly, or cut paper-thin, perfectly identical apple slices with a mandoline prior to arranging them in a Fibonacci sequence that could conceivably be used to illustrate an advanced physics lecture at MIT.

Au contraire, our crudely pulled together, unbaked single crust for a galette just lies there, flat and undemanding as a two-dollar floozy (which, if last Saturday’s little escapade is anything to go by, will tell you most of what you need to know); its rough, ragged edges all akimbo, ready to contain its rude and rustic filling with nary a complaint.

And now, since you asked:

A personal history of rhubarb ~

  •  We grew rhubarb in our garden when I was little. They were great big thick green stems with some bits of pinkish red. My mother would stew it with water and not enough sugar until it was a roiling green-red mass with a slippery, disturbing mouth-feel of pulp. We would eat it, mouths puckering from the astringency, as a bedtime snack.
  • for some reason, I suffered from insomnia as a child.

Fun facts about rhubarb; and why vegans look stressed, despite the generally-held belief that they are working toward the peaceful co-existence of all species ~

  • Rhubarb is technically a vegetable, though it’s used for pie filling. In fact, my mother called it “pie plant”. It is old-fashioned; it’s farmhouse cooking.
  • My mother made the pastry for dessert pies, such as rhubarb pie, with LARD.
  • DID YOU KNOW?:   The ingestion of a single, oxalic-acid-laced rhubarb leaf can kill a medium-sized companion animal of average-to-low intelligence,  a.k.a. “Fluffy”.
fibonacci

“Technical Drawing for Conceptual Flying Apple Tart” (torta di mele volante)”, c. 1485.  attr. ?Leonardo.

Rhubarb and religion:  In which the eating of rhubarb is examined as an expression of the Protestant sect.

Rhubarb grows in northern climates, where we are grateful for summer, but for the rest of the year we ENDURE.  This northern quality means that rhubarb pie is, essentially, a Protestant dessert.

Whereas Catholics and other southern idolators mark the end of a meal with dramatic frothy treats like zabaglione or decadent gelato, Protestants have, over the centuries, devised penitential desserts that cast a delectable pall of suffering over the final course.

This gives Protestant desserts, in themselves character tests, an almost Inquisitional function, and leaves every devout Methodist, Presbyterian, United Church-goer or Mennonite secure in the knowledge that, whatever they may choose to feel guilty about today, it need not be – in fact, cannot be – rhubarb pie.

Rhubarb pie is the window that is not stained glass; it is the wine that is actually grape juice, it is the church social which is not a dance.  Rhubarb pie tempts you with its lascivious pie-ty, just as the Deceiver tempts you with hard liquor, loose women, gambling and pride, all of which appear gloriously desirable, deserved even.

But one mouthful of rhubarb-based Protestant dessert will wipe the devil from your thoughts and the twinkle from your eyes. The roof of your mouth will crinkle, your lips will pucker (but not from desire).  Ashes, ashes, I say unto thee!  Lord, if it be thy will, take this pie from me!  All is ashes!

Silence falls over the table as the family eats their slices of rhubarb pie and contemplates the wages of sin.  No sound but Sunday-best forks on fine Spode china, “Dimity Rose” is the pattern.

Then Father speaks:

“Mother, I believe I’ll have another slice of your rhubarb pie,” he says.

And you’d better believe it:  that’s true love.

Concluding remarks:
Rhubarb purity:  The strawberry schism

penitential pie

” … as we forgive those who strawberry-rhubarb against us …”

Some well-meaning but misguided individuals have had the temerity to mention “strawberry-hyphen-rhubarb”. They say this to me hopefully, as though I’ve forgotten the key ingredient of rhubarb pie. But oh, my fur and whiskers, make no mistake: Rhubarb pie DOES NOT, and never did, contain strawberries, and those unfortunates do not mention this, at least to me, a second time.

Strawberries?  FEH.  Strawberries have no place in a Protestant dessert, and if you think they do, Virginia, you are, as they say¹, an abomination unto the Lord.

~


¹ “As they say”: Except for Anglicans, who would never mention “the Lord” or “God”, considering this to be in poor taste.