A bubo on the groin

All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

And so, Rubber Ducky, Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Penguin have recently been inducted into Monopoly’s family of tokens.

As luck would have it–and it often does–Harry, Janet and Becky decided to play Monopoly, and from this unlikely ménage à trois came this story, as rapidly as sputum is ejected from the back of an inflamed throat.

There were the usual pregame festivities, some of which involved a bowl of chip dip and a Victorian corset, but the place for such tittle-tattle is not in an article such as this (try subscribing to Netflix).

After the preliminaries, Janet hurriedly jumped on the chance to be Rubber Ducky (team Government); Harry greedily grabbed Tyrannosaurus Rex (The People), and Becky, a fiery redhead, who desperately wanted to be represented by an hourglass-shaped cerise blob of industrial plastic (she’s team History) had to settle for Penguin–and evidently there was no time to consider the allegorical ramifications afoot.

And, to make matters worse for the reader, Janet is a Democrat, Harry a Republican and Becky an independent. Now that your head is swirling (or feeling as though it has been suddenly pressed in a waffle iron), I endeavor to continue the story.

As with all board games, some board-side banter is inevitable. For example, Harry threw the dice with such vigor that the chaotic cubes ricocheted off the board, knocking over T-Rex in the process, one ending up secreted inside a Ming vase (which was on loan from a local museum–please don’t ask ) and the other in the unlaced corset. And as the search for the dice was underway, the conversation somehow drifted to the news and how the ideal newscaster ought to be a eunuch. But then Harry, soon cashing in on his string of casinos on Park Avenue, exclaimed, in a rather brusque tone, that mainstream news is fake. Strangely though, he believes his lies have the imprimatur of authenticity. Where I come from there’s another term for this assault on reason, but propaganda is such an ugly word.

Granted, some journalism misses the mark. More and more it’s news as told by the Radio City Rockettes or by some peeping Tom in a nice suit. But the choice is between propaganda and ineptitude. I know where I stand.

History suddenly piped up: “Hey, look at me. My truth, sandwiched between two slices of morocco leather, is sacrosanct.”

“Get down from your high horse, corn beef and rye” retorted Janet. “History is viciously penned by the victors. And, by the way, you owe me rent for one mole-infested hotel. Whine about it later, in chapter fifteen, if you still have an agent by then.” Becky ( she’s so sharp) bowed her head in mock-shame.

Between Government’s lies and History ‘s quavering truth, between Scylla and Charybdis, the People must decide. At this point Janet landed on the dreaded GO TO JAIL square. Then, drawing inspiration from Godfather III (available on Netflix), a swat team crashed through the ceiling, but that’s fake news, as this sort of thing only happens in the dodgy realm of fiction.

Janet, it needs be said, was an inveterate smoker and terrible at board games–and notably unlucky with IT: Some time ago the server in her basement contracted a pneumonia, coughed cacophonously, and died in agony shortly thereafter. And even though she’d been designated as banker for the game (must have occurred in the pregame shenanigans), her own wad of Monopoly money was in rapid retreat.

Now GO TO JAIL screamed for Harry, who felt sure he had rolled his last double. His face turned a pale shade of black: “This is such a pain in the aspic, a bubo on the groin.”

A five-alarm fire ended the game abruptly (errant matches and corsets do not make such good partners).

Will the Phoenix rise from the ashes?

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Why social media is like a bucket of vomit

You love your Triumph Spitfire. You love going down the freeway in top-down weather. You love the sound of the stinging breeze wrapping itself round your German Luftwaffe Helmet. Oh, the looks you get. They, courageous car buffs, stand in awe; then they forcibly wipe the mud from their shoes and their bandy legs, wishing now they had stood a little further back from that pretty café au lait puddle. Still a madman cutting athwart a thin sheet of muddy water is something to behold. You look back, feeling great. And aside from the motion sickness, you’re on top of the world.

But then the proverbial merry-go-round sputters and stops. Your coveted sports car, in truth a sardine can with wheels and a nice paint job, breaks down. Then you learn the ugly truth. The only parts available for the car are stored in a locker somewhere in Asia minor, in the bowels of a godforsaken train station, and the only way to access the stash of now obsolete auto parts is to participate in a religious ceremony involving a small herd of yaks and bitcoin.

All this to say that there are some good things about owing a Spitfire and some not so good. It’s like that with social media too: some good, some bad.

Twitter, for instance, should be for journalists only. What’s the point of laypeople trumpeting (should this now be capitalized?) the first thing that pops into their swollen heads. And so, with the character limitation imposed by Twitter you get–well, you get concise garbage (or pick your own oxy, moron). Tweeting is to blurt out something you’ll regret later. Don’t do it. Attempting to raise the bar, Roseanne did it. Now she’s selling pencils.

There’s another problem with social media. Lone voices get drowned out. There’s bullying; you’ve seen it. Group think shows up to the party, wearing a flashy suit, and so we are left with one opinion, one revolution (now choose a color). Foot-soldier, like me, like some of you, get drowned out. Probably a good thing.

Nevertheless, the game is stacked against you–face it, you’re going to hear disproportionally from celebs. If celebrity X gets several million views for some vapid offering and lone-she-wolf gets single digit views (and the one from her mother hardly counts), is it reasonable to conclude that the celebrity’s contribution is a million times more thoughtful? Could be. If not, there’s room for improvement with this whole social media experiment. Sadly, the bullhorn of celebrity is loudest heard in a celebrity culture.

We seem to have the need to hand the podium to golf pros, to those famous at being famous, to porn stars known for hornswoggling real estate moguls, and don’t seem to notice that we get vomitus in return.

I hear the gentleman from the third row saying it’s sour grapes. The Kardashians are gifted at using social media and need props for that. Okay, I stand rebuked, though their good fortune at having such talents is indubitably my loss.

And here we have a couple sitting at the dinner table. There’s Frank, a vintner, fat-witted, occasionally violent, and then there’s Lucida, as readable as a good font. Cutting to the chase: Frank and Lucida had the common sense to instigate what they called the dinner rule: no mobile devices at the dinner table and no more takeout from Game King–there’s a fetid odor to llama meat that just doesn’t seem to want to let go.

Consequently, they dine in complete silence. And as soon as they leave the table, clean the dishes, wipe the counters, scrape spaghetti from the walls, they go off in separate directions. Only then, when no longer in each other’s company, do they rediscover the lost art of conversation, and text each other frantically till midnight: so long as they do not see each other, and so long as they can communicate electronically, all is well. Then, buoyed by hours of texting, they facebook (is this a verb yet?). Yikes, 143 likes. Goodnight all.

And there’s the typical comment section on UTube:

Your a retard. Eat my vomit. And if you have a moment, go f*ck yourself.

What’s happened to civility, to grammar, to the letter u?

Some are concerned about time management. If you’d spent all your waking hours on that Clementi piano sonata instead of on social media, you’d soon be performing at Carnegie Hall.

We have been entertained (by design) into a coma, and meanwhile we lose track of true friendship, fall into the hands of charlatans, stumble into the wading pool of disinformation, and mayhaps fatally slide into the penumbra of totalitarianism–all without notice or care.

A few weeks ago, I leaned that the developers of Facebook were B.F. Skinner fans and that their chef-d’oeuvre (evil mousetrap) was built upon variable schedules of reinforcement, which result in behavior resistant to extinction. All this to say that posting and waiting for ‘likes’ is addictive (that is, highly resistant to extinction).

When a rat (Burrhus Frederic loved rats) hits a lever and is only rewarded occasionally by a delicious pellet (delicious for rodents), said rat will compulsively keep hitting the lever. Most rats, being unlettered, haven’t heard of slot machines, but you have–you’ve seen the overturned pupils of a gambler stuffing coins into the maw of a heartless box. But, funny thing, when a rat has had too many food pellets, it vomits.

Fiction explained

Fiction explained. Pilot episode.

SS_4https://vimeo.com/230967579

The 5 sure-fire ways to tell if you’re an introvert

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5  ways to tell if you’re an introvert

1) Everyone loves pineapple. If you have a slice or two, you’re an introvert. If you eat the whole honking thing, you’re an extrovert.

2) Do you keep putting gas in the car, but always seem to be on empty–unless you are driving alone? Then you’re an introvert.

3) What if you are at a party and some goon with a bad hair transplant asks you for a cigarette. Trick question: introverts don’t go to parties.

4) Have you ever been to a fried chicken establishment, ordered a bucket of electrocuted bird parts dipped in spices ( stuff swept off the floor), and eaten alone? If so, you are an introvert.

5) Are your thoughts more important to you than your prescriptions? Then you are an introvert.

 

Disclaimer: I am not a psychologist, though I study human nature form time to time, especially when waiting for paint to dry or for intelligence to dominate the internet.

 

Bonus material
Charles Darwin interviews Prospero

Darwin: So you’re not a psychologist.
Prospero: [Silence] Sorry, I was miles away.
Darwin: You’re not a psychologist, then.
Prospero: No more than you are a scientist.
Darwin: But I am a scientist.
Prospero: I thought you were a reality television personality.
Darwin: That too. But I’m primarily a scientist. Do you want to see my test tubes?

Sun, greenish sprigs, a puppy

Meanwhile, Ariel ponders the universe.

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My Bonnie lies over the ocean

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My Bonnie

 

Sappho

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Since Ariel is the closest thing I have in my photo library to a penguin (if you read the article you’ll know what I’m talking about), she will do nicely.

Complaints may be directed to the Internet Watchdog Foundation, a cyber-etiquette organization whose primary purpose is to protect the public from gratuitous colors and improperly-sized fonts. Ask for Raoul, stationed in Manila. Though he may not be sympathetic to your cause, he’s always willing to show someone a good time. 

 

The secret to becoming a bestselling author is to find the right niche. Luckily, I will be helping you with this simple though tiresome task.

You should know, however, that talent is almost always overrated and, in the case of niche hunting, completely unnecessary–if not downright harmful. Broadly speaking, if one were to consider vocations other than writing, such as playing the rosewood fife or wrestling naked with white tigers, one might acknowledge the need certain brave individuals might have to be endowed with a modicum of talent. Even an execrable instrument such as the lyre requires a willing and able and modestly talented conduit. The jaw harp, or Jew’s harp as it is sometimes called, may be cited as an exception, as it requires neither skill nor great dexterity for a walking zombie to wheedle a sound from its ill-construed frame, and the random sounds it emits could easily have been produced by an unconscious, syphilitic drunkard lying supine on the beer-splattered floor of some funky tavern.

After having excited your attention,  I shall return to the subject in hand. In order to become an obnoxiously rich author, you must choose a category which has little or no competition. This way it will be easier to get top ranking in that niche.

This is a top-down process. First choose the broadest category first and then keep refining it. Stop if your hair loss exceeds 150 strands per day.

This is an example of the selection process for the novel I’m writing:

Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Mystery > LGBT > Pelagic Birds  > Penguins > Macaroni Penguins

The child category is “Macaroni Penguin” because no sub-categories exist beyond that point.  This is called a flightless point in the industry.

With this ironclad strategy, my book, “Who’s Killing the Penguins of Lesbos,” the nail-biting story of  Sappho– an amateur detective and unapologetic flame-crested penguin who, while vacationing on a sun-flecked Greek isle, discovers herself and, alas, a homicidal maniac in a hockey mask slaughtering penguins–will have a decent chance of being # 1.

 

Please support my work by selling all your worldly goods and making a meaningful investment in the arts.

See you at the top of the charts,

Prospero