Monday, July 27, 2009


I remember the first time I learned that savvy businesses were using sexual imagry and allusion to subconsciously sell me products. Although I am sure the intention was for me to be incensed at this revelation, to a pubescent male the notion that retailers are creating and distributing sexually suggestive materials in order to entice purchase doesn't seem like a soulless manipulation of the unsophisticated masses by a callous institutionalized capitalism -- it seems like a charitable pursuit. Even if you don't buy anything, they keep showing you.

And now, a couple of decades later, it is somehow disconcerting that my customer relationships have progressed logically to the "next step" I once dreaded; I can no longer just get a juvenile thrill from my vendors, careless of their feelings. They send me catalogs when I haven't ordered from them in a while that actually say that they miss me. They give me ultimatums about taking me out of their mailing list (the commercial entity's version of deleting my number from their cell phone, I guess). They beg, they wheedle and cajole, and they offer to do those dirty things they used to when our relationship began, like free shipping and handling.

I even discovered that two of the catalogs I'd been with recently were subsidiaries of the same company; even their websites were identical, if you know what I mean. In my youth the prospect of two retailers at once (twins!) would have been exciting, but now all I could think about was that I would never be able to order from both of them for long without going bankrupt or crazy, but I didn't want to let one of them down gently and risk fucking things up with the other one. And you know they talk to each other all the time; they're related, and I didn't opt out initially.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

EXISTENTIAL ALLEGORY OF DOOM (deliberately bad writing, vol 1)

 He wanted to tell her to go to Hell, skipping Purgatory and Limbo in the fast lane to damnation like a drunken frat boy in a hurry to flunk out of his eighth sophomore semester; he wanted to make her pay life’s sad little fiddler with money from her own childhood piggy-bank, for the pathetic refrain that she had inspired in his bleak existence.
 But all he could do was stare at the lush mountainous terrain that rolled gently from the nape of her neck to the hem of her skirt, irrigated by streams of sweat like perfumed rivers.
 “Must you internalize everything, Max?” she sighed, sending his train of thoughts careening off of the tracks. “I thought you wanted to talk about Kevin…”
 “Kevin Kurtweiler Kinsley is a racist bastard,” Max spat. “That pointed-headed little bigot wouldn’t dare cross me.”
 Laura suckled at her cigarette holder with distracted infantilism. “Oh?” she quipped. “I thought you two had a history,” she cooed.
 She didn’t know the half of it…not the part, the division, or the moiety, he thought to himself; she was just stoking the fire, adding comment after comment to kindle him into exploding like year-old dynamite.
 “Come on, Max...admit it. It wasn’t the money, or the crass comments; you were jealous,” Laura giggled.
 “Hah!” Max Hahed; “Kevin tried to bring me to my knees for months, but I wouldn’t stand for it. The last time I saw him he was running out of the Blue Room over on Ash and Hunter, white as a sheet. What do I have to be green over?”
 And then it hit him like an allegorical frat-boy’s pre-owned Gremlin in the proverbial fast lane to metaphoric damnation: Laura…and Kevin…That was the second time she had two-timed him, and she did it with that double-crossing cross burner Kevin.
 “Don’t you get it, Max?” Laura asked softly. “I needed something real, not just an ephemeral connection to another cliché motivated by a mutual lack of multidimensional experience. That’s no way to raise a child,” she sobbed dramatically.
 “You’re not pregnant,” Max muttered perplexedly.
 “I mean my inner child, you idiot! My inner child has been suffering under the oppression of your godless and nihilistic model of the universe; you don’t believe in love, in nobility, or even the inherent dignity of mankind!” Laura cried.
 “You’re no saint, sister…”
 “Oh, Max,” she gasped. “Just because I don’t personally practice any number of empirically circumspect modes of emotional interaction doesn’t mean that I don’t accept them as being true.”
 Max frowned, his brow furrowing in the futility of the argument. He tried to tell himself that none of this was even real; nothing mattered, because nothing existed outside of the necessary delusions of the self that he created solely to represent amalgams of his own ever-shifting concepts of reality.
 But this phantasm of unobtainable and altogether too infuriating femininity, he had at some point decided to manufacture with perfect breasts and eyes like blue dinner plates, and he couldn’t ignore the sympathy and lust that her shuddering provoked.
 “Look, kid…it doesn’t have to be this way,” he admonished gently. “We can work things out; you’ll see, baby.”
 He cradled her against his chest, her isolationistically folded arms digging into his ribs like cruel little reminders of the discomfort created by attempting to identify with anything outside of one’s own existence.
 “Do you really think so, Max? Or is this just another of your carefully planned facades of human interaction designed to reinforce your self-identity as a sympathetic anti-hero?”
 Max smiled and shook his head. “It’s legit, kid; I know this will work.”
 “But how can you be so certain?” she asked, uncertain.
 “Because I’m not an existentialist; I’m a solipsist,” he admitted. “I didn’t know how to break this to you, but I guess now is as good a time as any.”
 “I don’t understand…if you don’t believe I exist, how can we be happy?” Laura asked quietly, beginning to sob again.
 “Oh, baby…you do exist. You exist because I exist, and all this time I felt myself falling in love with you I never thought it would work. You’re a figment of my imagination…I’m a Methodist; it’s complicated. But now I can accept that if you are an inseparable part of my own egocentric experience you no longer have the burden of developing your own independent emotional character,” Max explained.
 “But I’m the protagonist, Max!”
 “Nonsense. Why do you think my internal monologue is always illustrated instead of yours? This isn’t a literary convention; we’re the same person. Sometimes, I think from chapter to chapter the core concept of self has shifted back and forth…”
 “I knew it! That’s why Kevin has his own chapter!”
 “Exactly,” Max cried. “Omniscient multiple third-person perspectives can only occur if we accept that all entities are expressions of one individual ego.”
 Laura could feel the passion rekindle as he challenged her perception of reality and self; his manhood pulsed between them, and she felt herself flush with desire as she experienced his skin and her skin touch from both perspectives at once.
 “Make love to myself,” she breathed.
 “I’ll think about it,” Max acquiesced.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Regarding kt's, Kuchen, and Kannada

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad handed out 400kt of potatoes to rural Iran in a relatively transparent attempt to curry favor with the represented demographics. Supporter of his opponents, in protest of this, did not engage in any sort of flowery or overly sophisticated intellectual argument; they instead emblazoned signs and chanted fervently the simplest thing they could: "Death to potatoes". In much of the Western world, 'death to' whatever seems awfully serious - the sort of shit you say about something you positively hate, but in context it's usually synonymous with the much less threatening term 'down with'.

Sometimes things just get lost in translation, and sometimes the linguistic license we use facilitates that unintentionally; in German, for instance, you can write the sentence Der Mann isst den Kuchen, and that means "the man eats the cake". If you instead wrote Den Kuchen isst der Mann you will not have changed the essential meaning of the sentence even though the word order might, at a glance, suggest otherwise.

A co-worker of mine speaks the regional language of the Karnataka area of India, Kannada, which has an amazing number of possible phonemes and graphemes; basically, you can formulate almost any borrowed word from almost any language in Kannada, which immediately makes me wonder if it isn't easier to disambiguate an anthropophagic bundt or a pogrom of tubercide from superficially similar but far more benign constructs.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Bösendorfer Is The New Bupropion

If you know a damaged, depressed, artsy girl, whatever the fuck you do don't put her on antidepressants; give her a piano (lessons and talent are optional) and tell her to dress provocatively. It is presently and shall be for at least another few years a guarantee of a record contract.