Lumps in farina — often hidden so that you had no chance to brace yourself — were a scourge in childhood. Scary and creepy… When your tongue senses the advent of one of these you feel something is terribly wrong. It’s not just disgusting, you’re way beyond that: something has gone wrong on a universal level. A gear has broken, the toilet is flowing backward, you can’t get air into your lungs any more. Perhaps this is how it feels an instant before true death. “I’m dying, Archibald,” you might say as the absolutely shocking certainty of the thing mounts. [more…]
Tirades, also known as Polemics, Diatribes, Rants, or in this case E-Rants.
The Original “Ancient” Tirades
These include two as old as the 1970s, originally appearing in my longest-ever novel “Get Even with the Man,” set in San Francisco, Baltimore and Mexico City.
A portion of my readers — of which I could myself be part — have found these fundamentally unintelligible. Logically, that is. Rhetorically and emotionally I believe they work. You judge. [more…]
(and Machismo’s Dirty Little Secret)
Don’t you feel it’s a kind of weakness when the car behind you is tailgating — when you feel like they’re somehow “pushing” you to go faster on this scenic road through the pine woods — and instead of ignoring them, instead of enjoying the beauty and the air, you find yourself speeding up as though to accommodate them! You imagine you’re lessening the focus on your slowness, you imagine your surge in velocity makes them less unhappy with you…
How annoying. I’m ashamed but sometimes I find myself doing something very like this. On other days, to reduce the pressure, I make a point of repeatedly using hard-to-find turnouts or pulling onto the shoulder when it exists, to let a bunch of cars pass so that I can continue on my way peacefully enjoying where I am until the next line of cars creeps up.
Most of us have had the sad experience of dealing with someone who has no interest in replacing the cap that the rest of us believe belongs screwed back on the toothpaste. These individuals regard our concern as fastidious and evidence, more than likely, of Obsessive-Compulsive behavior (a so-called “disorder” — “OCD”), or worse. Our mental health, they imagine, varies inversely with the firmness with which we screw this cap back on. They are proud of how they’ve helped some like us and remain on the lookout for those who use pliers (Pliers-Using Nuts, “PUNs”— sent to therapy) or a wrench (“WUs” — admitted to psych ward).
They themselves? “Laid back.” “Easy going.” For sure.
The offending party may be one we are living with, traveling with or just dating. It can also be a friend or out-of-town guest we are accommodating at our own homes.
Puzzlingly, researchers found only a 10% positive correlation between Toothpaste Top-Squeezers (“TTS”) and cap-offers (“COs”). Psychologists speculated that COs had Other Issues (“OI”).
Correlation with how these people hug you. Unsurprisingly, it was reported that male TTS-types have a 33% inclination to squeeze women around the shoulders rather than around the back, waist or lower whereas the male control group reported only a 21% inclination and the mixed control group, as expected, only 13%. Well, that should clear things up… Ass Grabbers of all persuasions were excluded in the interests of better hygiene.
© Jerry Kurtz 2014
There were rare occasions when I took a trip and did not bring my good binoculars. Reliably there would be paragliders coming off a distant mountain or a colorful bird in the field across the way; something of interest whose details I couldn’t, with the naked eye, make out.
But whenever I brought them — which was virtually all the time, out of fear I’d miss them if I didn’t — reliably, I never needed them.
On our very last international trip we returned to Italy, where — two years earlier — we had arranged to spend a year. After my wife Grace’s devastating metastasis, that year was reduced to a mere 2 weeks. But now we were back in our town in the Cilento, in Campania, 2 hours southeast of Naples, and then later in the village in Umbria where we’d stayed 9 years earlier. And finally, on our last two nights, with Grace struggling but then feeling well enough to take the bus from Maestre on the mainland, we reached Venice, which had been so beautiful in the past. [more…]
Okay, you’ve had a hot date with a sexy — what we used to call ‘together’ — woman, you think this has possibilities. You meet a week later — more of the same. And tonight you’ve got a third meeting set up, you figure this is fish-or-cut-bait time. But now a problem.
“What shirt did I wear?” If I wear that black already-outdated corduroy thing again, will she think I’ve got only two shirts? Or was it the dinner with that other woman where I wore it? Damn, I need a clothes database!
Tirade Against Sightseeing (Oh Come On Jerry!); or At Least Juliet’s Balcony
On the whole I’d say I’m still “battling.” So that means I haven’t given up, I haven’t been “defeated.” I’m in there fighting. The battle sways back and forth; it’s hard but sometimes it feels like I’m “winning” (and sometimes the other way). Once in a while I feel “above the battle,” I see it in perspective. As though the battle is only one battle going on in a far corner of the world, there are many battles throughout the universe, but they are all subsumed in what I can very dimly perceive as a kind of overarching ‘peace.’
So what’s all that got to do with “Sightseeing” or even “Juliet’s Balcony”? We [your audience, remember us?] already guessed which Juliet this is but where’s the rub?
Okay, okay people, keep your goddamn shirt on. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Yes I know, clichés won’t save me either but I’ve got to calm you down if you’re going to be receptive to anything I say, right? Doesn’t matter if you agree or not, I know that that is true. No, I’m not going to start on another one of my “Truth” rants. Easy does it…
Sorry if my previous Tirade Against Sightseeing didn’t satisfy you. Don’t worry, no more about Juliet’s breast or balcony or Verona. This time we’ll make it a story, true of course. And to be on the safe side we’ll set it in Indonesia. In Sulawesi, that crazy shaped island, a few decades back called “Celebes,” and known for Celebes coffee. But that was then. (Peet’s still sells “Sulawesi-Kalosi” coffee, which in fact is my favorite blend.)
My late wife Grace and I have arrived from Jakarta at Makassar, a city which in that period was known as Ujung Pandang, and knocked around a few days. This is on the west coast of the southwest corner of the island, and not to be confused with the Bugis-dominated area (with their famous huge cargo-heavy sailboats plying the region) on the east coast of this southwest arm.
Tirade Against Front-Enders Including Certain Friends of Mine
To see the background for this third tirade, go to “About Tirades.”
What you Front-Enders are missing: the last 4 minutes of Barry White’s “Your Sweetness Is My Weakness.” (Are you a Front-Ender? — someone that listens to 25 seconds of a song before skipping to the next? — or even 10 seconds? If so, this diatribe is directed at you.)
Yes, sometimes the Front-End is building a foundation for what can happen if you — yes, you out there, the listener — are willing to open yourself. Open to a transforming experience. A transforming experience that you Front-Enders miss out on. Sad?
Okay, take Buena Vista Social Club’s “Pueblo Nuevo” — you miss out on the overwhelming charms that can blow you away with their beauty, its climbing trumpet crescendo at 4 or 5 minutes in.
Everything that happens is a coincidence and all the purveyors of cause and logical sequence are illusion-mongers. The event is primary; the sooner we get hold of this wisdom the richer will be the succession of instants that makes up our lives.
Nothing that happens is probable. Say that analysis shows you have 1 chance of running into your mother downtown and 999 chances of running into “nobody.” Yet each of those 999 chances is distinct. In one case my (your) attention is caught by an Indian craft shop, which I enter, seeing a boy in a purple suit smoking a cigar. In another I get mental pictures of going swimming last year in North Carolina. The point is, meeting my mother downtown is — objectively — no more startling than meeting no one I know and thinking about swimming in North Carolina; they are equally improbable. Yet it is only in the mother-meeting — no more special than the others, no less unspecial — that our minds go to town and start to question the supposed plodding dullness of everyday life.