Location: Indianapolis, Indiana, United States

I'm just trying to develop an online body of work (even if the work is throwaway nonsense) to advance my writing career.

Friday, January 30, 2009

It Should Be Obvious

Many things seem obvious, but obviously they're not. This explains why some advertisements for birth control devices or erectile dysfunction drugs note in fine print that said product cannot protect users from HIV or other Sexually Transmitted Diseases. The very fact this disclaimer appears indicates somebody somewhere assumed Viagra could keep him from getting gonorrhea.

So perhaps it would benefit the general public to compile a list of ideas that ought to be obvious, but for some reason have not made the rounds of common knowledge quite as well as they should. Observe:

Toads cannot give people warts.
Warts can be caused by a variety of viral infections and are sometimes passed from human to human, but never, as far as anyone knows, from toad to human. Even the toad-licking craze that swept across North America in the mid-1990s did not lead to an increase in warts, though it did drive home a curious dichotomy about certain members of the general public: on one hand, dumb enough to believe toads can cause warts, but on the other, dumb enough to seek hallucinogenic pleasure by putting one's tongue on this same type of creature.

The world won't end because someone you don't like is President of the United States.
Four of the five most recent Presidents--Reagan, Clinton, Bush II, and Obama--have generated adulation from their supporters and intense and vitriolic criticism from their detractors, and yet the nation and the planet carry on. Richard Nixon couldn't wreck the country, nor could Jimmy Carter. Neither paranoid narcissism nor hemorrhaging incompetence nor faulty intelligence nor White House soft pornography nor any of the myriad petty rivalries and scandals have ever managed to rend us asunder. So easy, tigers.

The Blues Brothers did not record the original version of "Soul Man".
No, sir, Sam and Dave did it first. And Little Willie John's rendition of fever came out before Peggy Lee's, too. To be fair, Lee did a superb job with it, though Willie John's is even better. Incidentally, it is not entirely clear who composed "Fever", but it might well have been Otis Blackwell, the same songwriter who penned "All Shook Up", made famous by Elvis Presley.

The severity of brown recluse spider bites has been greatly exaggerated.
Brown recluse spiders reside mostly in the American South and Midwest and hardly exist on either coast, though they turn up occasionally. Some arachnologists estimate that up to 80% of reported brown recluse bites are actually caused by something else, a different spider, an insect, an allergic reaction or rash. The kind of sickening necrotic damage depicted in a variety of Internet hoaxes is extraordinarily rare. People need to grow up about spiders, period. Understand, if a large, hairy, eight-legged gem were found on this writer's hand as he typed up this post, he would be understandably shaken. Otherwise, spiders are completely unworthy of the hysteria they generate. Sort of like the Jonas Brothers.

Monday, January 19, 2009

More Days Off

Two friends and I had a discussion this week and ultimately arrived at the following possibly unanswerable question. If you were attending a party and the host said Oprah and Stedman were coming over, which is more likely?

A) Oprah Winfrey and Stedman whatever were actually coming to the party.

B) A different Oprah and Stedman were coming. Let's say Oprah Kubelsky and Stedman whomever.

Clearly, it's most likely that the party's host is simply a lying dirtbag, but leave that aside. Can the probabilities be determined?

A few years ago, I wrote a piece suggesting perhaps we ought to honor people like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King on the days they died rather than the days they were born. Obviously, the idea is a bit morbid, perhaps even a little tasteless, but part of the overall point was these men were killed primarily for the principles they espoused and they were good principles. That's something Americans ought not to forget. That writing advocated making holidays of April 4th and 14th to honor the aforementioned men, but an idea occurred to me today that would retain a national holiday for the third Monday in January.

Benjamin Franklin was born January 17, 1706. I can think of no American who does not already have a holiday more deserving of one. It's strange that as revered and admired as Franklin was and is, he is not individually commemorated at any particular time during the year. Admittedly, old Ben was a notorious skirtchaser, a rake, and by some accounts a lamentable father. But so what? Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and King all were flawed men. Flawed need not mean "less great." And though this point should be obvious, we would honor Mr. Franklin on his date of birth rather than his date of death because he did not perish violently as a result of a courageous and controversial stand he took, though he was indeed a courageous man who risked a great deal to help found the country.

Not everyone can have a holiday, even though there are considerably more than 365 citizens of any country who probably deserve one. And not everyone can agree on who has earned a holiday either. Sometimes it seems like if a vote on whom to award a holiday in this were ever taken, it would result in a 300 million way tie with each person supporting him or herself. If I ever got my own holiday, I wouldn't want it to fall on my birthday or the day I died, but on the first really pleasant Friday of each year. Now that's a holiday!

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

No Need to Miss Piggy

It's finally 2009 and there's no need to opine about football, politics, the economy, or Middle Eastern turmoil because every hack with a PC and a personal agenda is already doing that. Not that there's anything wrong with PCs or personal agendas, but sometimes the latter must be set aside so the world can attack a problem in a unified front.

And that problem is bacon. Grease-swimming pig nipples. They wrap bacon around fillet Mignon because a small, fat piece of steak just isn't enough and have the audacity to charge customers forty bucks even though few things come cheaper than dead cow and dead pig. They put bacon on any fast food sandwich that is allegedly spicy, though no direct connection exists between bacon and spiciness. Burger King has the Angry Whopper (angry because cows and pigs don't get along, maybe?), Dairy Queen has the Flamethrower Burger, Wendy's has the Spicy Baconator or something. Even Taco Bell has gotten in on the act with some sort of bacon cheese tortilla thingy. Clearly, the days of mistaking Taco Bell's food for actual Mexican cuisine have faded well into the past, but could they at least try? Nothing says Mexico like bacon, right?

This is not an attack on the existence of bacon, but on its overuse and overexposure. People have the right to eat all the bacon they want anytime they want, but the ubiquity of sowbelly really has crossed the boundaries of good--sorry--taste. Salads are sprinkled with bacon bits, baked potatoes become bacon potatoes, overpriced restaurants offer it, greasy spoon dives can't get enough of it.

If Jews and Muslims agree on nothing else, they at least share a religious aversion to the consumption of pork. Maybe they had the right idea, even if it isn't for the reasons the founders of these great faiths envisioned. God save us from bacon!