Friday, July 27, 2007

Uno, Dos, Tres...

As a mature, semi-productive, nearly-non-starstruck (I'm so over that) adult, I tend (by necessity) to live in the here and now. However, on occasion I allow myself the luxury of fantasizing about 'what could have been' and bemoaning my parents' lack of foresight in their failure to expose me in greater depth to my God-given musical abilities, specifically the guitar. Not to toot my own horn, but I am a legendary air-guitar player... I never miss a lick, no matter what the song being played might be.

Now, before you stick up your nose and say, 'Yea, right...', let me explain. The guitar is really only an organized set of finite combinations of sounds (crudely regarded as 'notes') capable of producing a near-infinite set of definable harmonic frequencies (technically referred to as 'chords' or 'riffs'). Are you smelling the coffee, yet?

Further, since I possess the ability to mentally reproduce the most intricate of 'licks' as played by inferior players such as Clapton, Hendrix, Vaughn and Allman, there can be little question that I would have been superior to them in my performance of my art. Then, I, too, would command the respect and adulation of the adoring masses (not to mention being filthy rich), and by now I would have my own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame outside Grauman's Chinese Theatre.

Oh, to be a fly on the wall (it's a cliche, I admit... get over it) when my fans kneel before my handprint and place their own hand inside. I yearn to see the expression on their faces when they realize that they have no answer for the sixth and seventh fingers...

but, hey, that's just me.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Doubts Uncommon

You don’t come around much anymore,
and I wonder, sometimes, what I did.
Once we shared it all,
then—suddenly—quiet white lilies filled your space,
leaving me to wonder.

Oh, I’m not the standard by which others are judged,
nor can I righteously judge yours.
Yet I suffer from your silent scorn,
unaware of my sins
and ignorant of my shortcomings.

Maybe my offenses are so basic
that, like the slow learner in second grade,
I am the only one incapable of acknowledgment,
the only one who can’t see the elephant in the room—
perhaps I lack your vision.

So here I sit and here I’ll stay,
shooting my blasts of powdered insufficiency
unto an unsuspecting audience,
hoping someday you’ll return.
But still, I’ll wonder.

Thursday, July 19, 2007


Miércoles Thanatopsis Kornblatt sat pensively on the riverbank, contemplating both future and past as he watched the occasional eddy swirl in the mocha before him. Not yet having reached his twentieth anniversary of existence on the planet, the youth could claim neither the sophistication of adulthood nor the innocence of childhood, but his experience brought him realization enough to know that he did not like his name.

Early on, given the constant derision and insufferable teasing heaped upon him from his first days in school, he’d sought a nickname capable of ushering him expediently through the minefields and carrying him safely into adulthood. It was bad enough that the kids looked at him funny and snickered as he walked past, pausing to whisper to friends before the giggling commenced, but when teachers and other adults paused before trying to pronounce his name as though they suddenly must master a foreign language before proceeding, the world closed in upon him and forced him to deal with a lingering sense of anger and disillusionment. Over the course of his grammar school years, many sobriquets were tested, each failing dismally. Somehow, no one could develop a moniker from his given name. ‘Miér’ didn’t work, ‘Than’ lacked the ability to persist, and he was unwilling to consider ‘Korn’. Similarly, he learned to attach an uncommon disdain for nicknames such as ‘Bubba’, ‘Stinky’ or ‘Butch’, narrowing the possibilities for acceptance even more. Naturally, his intense, white-hot rays of embarrassment and displeasure radiated into society as a whole, his parents becoming the focal point that would magnify them and provide the intensity necessary to burn anyone who spoke to him. The words of Johnny Cash swirled before him as powerfully as the water he now stared into, “Life is tough for a boy named Sue”.

What were they thinking about? How could his parents have done this to him? Miércoles Thanatopsis Kornblatt, for Christ’s sake? Yes, mother tagged herself a born-again hippie and dad laid claim to a posture that labeled him a self-loathing Jew, but neither embodied the depth of belief in either culture to establish themselves to the world; Mom ran a flower shop and Dad masqueraded as a mid-level pencil pusher for a second-rate book publisher—while their son developed no identity whatsoever past that of an inveterate loser devoid of social skills.

Long ago he’d briefly researched the origins of both names before inquiring of his mother as to her motivations for giving him his name. Miércoles means ‘Wednesday’ in Spanish, he found out, and while the name sounded exotic, it carried less-than-scintillating gusto. Thanatopsis, with all its multi-syllabic involvement, presented more possibilities. Coined by a Nineteenth-century American writer, William Cullen Bryant, it was spawned from the Greek thanatos ("death") and suffix ‘-opsis’ (literally, "sight"); and is translated to mean ‘meditation upon death’.

Now, imagine a woman who recently completed twenty-four hours of labor pains and pushed out a healthy baby boy. In the presence of doctors, nurses and, of course, her husband, holds him for the first time and while smiling through her sweat and tears, proclaims “Welcome to the world, ‘Think about it, you’re going to die on Wednesday’ Kornblatt”.

Twenty years, in the fullness of time, represents less than a pinpoint on a chart, but to Miércoles Thanatopsis Kornblatt it seemed sufficient duration to realize the folly and futility of a world dedicated to madness. Resolutely, he stood and tossed a pebble into the river before again scaling its bank. Today, February 14, 2007, the world would celebrate St. Valentine’s Day. After crossing the bridge, he would zip up his parka to protect him against the chill and walk approximately one mile into the downtown venue of the Remington Arms Company. The elevator would expedite him to the basement office of Incoming Freight, where he’d hand a note and the package to the clerk and step back one pace. Then, a wry closed-mouth smile still parked precariously upon his lips, he’d reach into his coat and touch a button igniting the twelve pounds of plastic explosives. The note contained the words “Today is Wednesday…call me Cullen”

Monday, July 16, 2007

"Yes, Dear, I'll be right there..."

I’m not a trained sociologist nor have I ever played one on TV, however, my experiences as a married man probably should be published because of their intrinsic value to roughly half of the world’s population. For example, I’ve observed that the average American man, over a period of roughly the last thirty years, has had increasing trouble relating to his wife, given her insistence upon garbage being stacked neatly in the garage, reliance upon her yoga instructor’s help during times of marital stress, and reluctance in accepting my semi-weekly requests for sex.

Spouses repeated verbal requests (also known as ‘nagging’) for some frivolous action by the husband, especially during the fourth quarter of a Broncos game or the last fifteen minutes of John in Cincinnati can aggravate husbands to the point where they retreat to the basement or garage or office for three or four hours of silence, ultimately causing him to mutter unkind insults under his breath such as ‘castrating hag’ and ‘ball-buster crone’, all the while hoping that the heating duct doesn’t transmit sound efficiently. It does.

At some point, her laugh can begin to annoy, especially if she’s talking on the phone to her sister. After many years, a husband’s patience (though severely tested) morphs into an acceptance of sorts, though the conscious act of overlooking it can lead to the extra glass of scotch after dinner accompanied by several hours spent in the Barcalounger®, resulting in yet more lack of acceptance/understanding by a marital partner.

While I’m on the subject, her insistence that a husband get dressed before walking to the curb for the morning paper (as if the neighbors really give a damn at 7 a.m.) or the occasional piss over the railing of the back deck only serves to widen the rift in communications, resulting in delayed or non-expressed intimacy, reduction in the ‘cuddle factor’ and cognitive dissonance in the American male.

I’ve also learned that the ‘duct tape cure’ doesn’t work, long-term. Most spouses, once the tape is ripped off, tend to misunderstand the husband’s attempts at corrective action and respond with a concerted vehemence unparalleled in personal marital experience.
On second thought, I now doubt the need for publication. Anyone who could benefit from it is probably too far gone to help. Well, gotta go… time for my morning dose of Seconal.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

...pants on fire

For reasons that, in all likelihood, are painfully obvious to anyone who has read more than one or two of my pieces, I don’t write many tributes. Chalk it up to my curmudgeonly persona if you will, or attribute it to any one of a number of character faults that I openly admit, the most obvious being pride, avarice and gluttony, but the list is certainly not limited to the aforementioned. Be that as it may, the subject of tributes resides somewhere deep within my cranial structure, and unless prodded by some unintentional source, might never exist at all within my conscious intellectual processes.

However, just such a prod recently found its way between the more prominent synapses such as sexual thoughts, desire for alcohol and/or debauchery, need to know that the Yankees lost and the more or less constant pangs of hunger, to my secret cache of admiration for characters unlauded by society’s majority— liars.

Yes, that’s right, you heard me correctly… liars. After all, liars’ proliferation dominates all sectors of society, yet their near-overwhelming need for secrecy prevents them from receiving their highly deserved adulation from those of us inclined to do so. Moreover, even if they are identified and praised, they’d likely deny it, choosing instead to berate their identifier in a voice that would leave no doubt as to their displeasure. Biting the hand that feeds them is the stock-in-trade of prevaricators near and far, but the quality and skill of their craft allows them the comfort of acceptance as they weave their way through the very fabric of society unrecognized. Stealth becomes the liars’ cloak of invincibility, and in the case of politicians, it is supplied by the stature of office. For an elected official, simply stating the lie, in most cases, will achieve the acceptance of at least 51% of the masses, and when enough tall tales are amassed, this becomes known as party platform, a veritable coups.

So, the next time you listen to a candidate speak, be kind in your assessment of him or her, regardless of your opinion of his/her ideas… remember that the ability to tell the same lie over and over, never once letting the truth slip in, requires a superior memory and a prodigious set of cajones.

Bless all the liars, for without them our recorded assessment of events might reveal scenarios much less palatable. Never forget that history is written by the victors and generally amounts to a compendium of lies agreed upon.

Bob Church© 7/14/07

Monday, July 09, 2007

The Law According to Mrs. Withers

Dear Station Manager,

I’ve just about had it with your local weather coverage. I turn on the Channel 46 News at 5, and for the first 17 minutes (including commercials) I get wonderful, beaming smiles and perfect hairdos on news anchors who banter back and forth amidst features that stress the hominess of our CBS affiliate… some nights I'm so touched by the ‘Our Kids Care’ feature that I break down and cry in my TV dinner. I just can't get enough of those anchors!

But then, when it's time for the weather with Channel 46 meteorologist Stormy Darke, it's a one-way ticket to Slug City. It's all weather, weather, weather and zero personality. Most African-American men that get on TV have wonderful smiles, but not Stormy.

Everyone else besides Stormy gets along like one big happy family. But that weatherman sticks out like a third boob! Teri in the local news chair always asks Dan, her co-anchor, about his new daughter, Megan. Actually, it's a shame they don't have more time in their busy lives to catch up on each other's personal lives while off-camera, but I know how busy they are. (Teri is a caring mother of two, dealing with the issues of a working single mother who also enjoys the outdoors and community choral concerts mixed in with an active social life.) Rod Single (I suspect that’s a stage name, but I guess that’s to be expected), the sports anchor, also seems very concerned with his fellow newscasters, and often teases Dan—good-naturedly, of course—when Dan's favorite teams lose, which is 87.55% of the time over the last 8 years.

But when Rod is through with sports, and he turns to Stormy Darke, Channel 46 meteorologist, with a chipper, "Did ya get some sun today, you’re looking a little burnt?" Stormy never even answers him. He just launches into his weather forecast, and I don’t think it has anything to do with the fact that he’s an African-American man. We never find out what Stormy does with his day! He rarely even comments to Rod about the sports events he just announced, and he speaks with that creepy voice that doesn't sharply rise and fall or pause dramatically. It sounds just like you or me talking, and you know, Stormy’s smile just doesn't seem as wide or as bright as the others. He really should try a whitening toothpaste and just a dab of Vaseline on the front teeth… they could be so pretty, being as large as they are.

I called the Channel 46 "We Care Line" (46-WE-CARE) to give some feedback on the weather portion of the show, such as my recommendations about the toothpaste and some bright geometric patterned ties like the other anchors wear, but no one ever called me back. If they truly cared what I think, like the ad for the "We Care Line" says they all do, they would have called.

Even the Channel 46 song says how much my CBS affiliate cares about me: "Channel 46 is there for you, Channel 46 cares—the news is you!" It's very reassuring to know that my news station isn't some faceless company that's just after advertising dollars. Channel 46 really cares about the community! You can tell by watching Thursday's “Special Neighbors” features.

While everyone else at Channel 46 is working hard saving animals from the pound and lauding elderly rubber band collectors and videotaping retarded people playing softball, Stormy is just talking about rising barometers and high-level clouds. Where's the human kindness in that? Where are the viewer snapshots of county fair animal husbandry projects and zucchini-growing contests? I don’t want to think it’s just because he’s an African-American man.

That weatherman makes me downright nervous. All the other news segment displays have cursive lettering in calming pastel colors, but the weather has harsh, plain typeset. Network weathermen like Al Roker and Willard Scott always wish people a happy birthday, but do you think Stormy Darke would ever do the same for me? Fat chance!

I hope I don’t have to do it, I really don't want to, but if things don’t change pretty damn quickly, I may switch over to Channel 67's weather report. Clarence Spinks may not have the latest Accu-Weather Doppler radar technology at his fingertips like Stormy does, but at least he knows what a smile is!

And before you go thinking it’s just because he’s an African-American man, that has nothing whatsoever to do with it, even if he doesn’t care to make the most of his physical attributes. I have almost as many African-American friends as I have Caucasian friends, it’s just that most of them don’t spend much time at local Republican caucuses, where I spend most of my time. Go Elephants! (That’s a little joke. I’d actually vote for an African-American Republican, just so long as he didn’t have an arab name like Barack Obama—but he’d have to take a little better care of his teeth.)

Respectfully (and having nothing to do with the fact that he's African-American),

Clara Withers

Monday, July 02, 2007

It's very simple, really

I've come to understand that as a man, I'm capable of only two emotions, horny and hungry. So, if you see me without an erection, please be so kind as to fix me a sandwich.