The Jehova of the Ova

Jen is egg Yoda.

Call her Yolka. (Do you say “yolk,” with the L or “yoke,” without?)

She runs the diner on Huevoba.

She’s an 8th degree black belt in chewdo.

The breakfast Buddha.

The Jehova of the ova.

The french fried hakuna frittata.

And Maddy?

A scrambled eggs Jedi master, Maddy is.

She’s received the congressional medal of eggcellence.

Really, people, these chicks can cook some eggs, and I count myself, before I hatch, among the eggceptionally fortunATE (albu)men to roost among such protein prowess.

Even Kate, the crack-head Springer Spaniel, loves the eggs. However, Jen simply can’t handle the sound of the licking. (If Kate were a foley artist, her egg-plate-licking might be used for a carcass-sluruping octopus monster, or perhaps a National Geographic special on the movement of slugs on the ground with ultra-high-definition recording equipment. I’m sure you can come up with something grosser, or funnier. Take a listen.)

We talk about asiago (“Awe-zee-awe-goh” in Pittsburghese), lying about the Cheese-Its, and shame eating.

We stumble upon a profound insight: Just because your name is Gary Glitter doesn’t mean you’ll end up in jail for child porn. But there he sits, perhaps composing, “Rock and Roll, Part 3” while clinching his anal sphincter for dear life. Unrelated to Mr. Glitter and his horrendous behavior, we land on puberphonia. Odd, that.

But I digress.

And what did we drink? Two delicious brews. Like, exceptionally delicious, people. Get these. They’re fairly easily obtainable in Pennsylvania and New York. Voodoo Hoodoo and Southern Tier Crème Brule.

And the music you’ll be enjoying? “Egg Song” and “Egg Man.” They have parallel grammatical structures, but are otherwise unrelated in almost every way conceivable.

Have fun, we present to you, “The Jehova of the Ova.”

 

humpty
(You know nothing, egg man.)

I Commit To Always Drive Sober

My old mechanic has three daughters.

Had three daughters.

He now has two, because one of them, the six-year-old, was stripped from her Mother’s grasp by a young man driving under the influence.

On Facebook, one can trace the family’s joyful final hours…Mom and all three girls at a pajama party.  A collection of photos not unlike the dozens of similar digital uploads I’ve seen on friends’ pages.  Here’s a group of girls in full-on, hamming-for-the-camera, duck-face mode.  Here’s a photo of the jammies lined up on a couch in a room that’s become a makeshift campsite…sleeping bags, pillows, and blankets arranged just so.  Bowls of half-eaten popcorn in the gaps.  Here are the Moms smiling on a Saturday night, toasting whatever strikes their fancy, momentarily carefree and entirely unsuspecting, fully unaware that their worlds will soon change.  In an instant.  The subsequent posts come the next day, beginning at 4:51 p.m. with this: My beautiful baby, my heart, was killed last night by a drunk driver while we were leaving a pajama party and walking down the driveway to our car. Lord help me oh my god lord help me.  They continue with condolences, old photos, memories expressions of sadness, rage, confusion, any and all emotions conceivably related to such a tragedy.

My distance from this is uncomfortably close; detachment is impossible.  Because I knew them.  Because of social media.  Because I’m a husband, a son, a father, a human.  And…because I’ve driven my car under the influence in the past.  Sure, I’ve convinced myself, “I’m fine,” but what does “fine” mean when I’m behind the wheel of a nearly two-ton torpedo?  I’ve been a drunk driver…many more times than just once…and more recently than I’d care to admit.  (“Oh, but I’m just driving down the street.”)  Excuses.  Laziness. Irresponsibility.  People die.  A six-year-old, only two degrees of separation from me, was killed by a person who made a bad decision, not unlike the bad decisions that I’ve made.  Perhaps not unlike the bad decisions that you’ve made.  Did he set out to murder a child?  No.  Did he murder a child?  Yes.  Could that murder have been prevented?  Absolutely.  But not anymore.

Folks, take care of yourselves and each other.

Give your children and your families every ounce of love you have.

Make a commitment, out loud…in front of yourself, your partner, your family, your community, and your spiritual anchor…to never (again) drive under the influence.  Furthermore, commit to never drive while tired enough to nod off, and to never text while driving.

I will never again drive drunk.

I will never again drive tired.

I will never again text while actively driving.

Will you promise the same?

-G

Watchoo Talkin’ ’bout, Willis?!

I mishear lyrics just like all of you. Except, what I hear often doesn’t make a damn bit of sense. These things become hellish earworms and I walk around repeating them, both in my head and out loud, like an anxious child with an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Example 1: The song “Geronimo” by Sheppard. The chorus is like a communicable disease already, but my mind became convinced that the lyric was, “Hey, Palumbo,” not, “Say, Geronimo.”

Examples 2 & 3: The song “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars. Here’s the first lyric in question, “Too hot (hot damn).” Easy, right? Not for my fucked up frontal lobe. I get locked on this and hear an incessant loop of, “Too hot (two pants),” followed by some combination of police, frying pans, and ampersands.  Here’s the second comical lyric, (…which doesn’t make a lick of sense already…), “Smoother than a fresh dry skippy.” My version? “Colder than an cold, cold titty.” (Really people, I’m neither being purposefully odd nor am I attempting to get you to laugh by creating off the cuff. This is the shit that bangs around in my head…like for-fucking-ever.)

Today, Jen and I talk about all of that…mess…as well as what I call, “Captain Obvious lyrics.”  Then, we dive headfirst into the awful, cotton candy flavored pool of Kidz Bop. Do you know this? If you have children, you likely do. Do you like Kidzbop? If you do, stop reading this because you’re either a child with parents who don’t love you or you’re an adult with nefarious proclivities. Kidzbop. Yikes. There are now 30 of them. “What is it?” You ask. The producers take a handful of currently popular songs, rewrite them in an attempt to be Rated less-than-G, hire a decent karaoke cover-band and a bunch of super-earnest, too-excited, musically-inclined kids to play and sing them, and then aurally abuse anyone who can hear.  There are CD’s, digital downloads, videos, video games, clothing, a myriad of other merch, and world tours.  Really, it’s a thing.  A huge thing.

The Kidz Bop conversation leads us back to another similar endeavor from Maddy, circa Kindergarten. KidSongs Here’s an example of what we endured for many, many months…on repeat…right HERE. (Beware, you can’t unsee or unhear this. And yes, it is rated G, but it is neither safe for work nor your sanity.)

Fortunately, we have beer. Today, Jen has “Rampant” imperial IPA from New Belium. I have “Warlock” from Southern Tier, an imperial stout brewed with pumpkins. These are both amazing, and you should try them.

Also, you should try this podcast. Right now. We present to you, “Whatchoo Talkin’ ’bout, Willis?!”

(P.S.  You’ll notice occasional buzzy noises, similar to the noises used in Japanese horror flicks.  Kinda creepy.  Sorry about that, but we have the equipment we have.  For now.  You can make that change!  Do us a favor, huh, and use the amazon link in the upper right corner […yep, that’s it…] to shop.  Also, you can directly donate to us through Paypal.  Also to the right. […up a little…a little more…bam! That’s it…] We love yinz!)

Arnold as Mr. T(I pity the fool…who listens to Kidz Bop.)

(On the other hand…I love the sage who uses this amazon link!)

amazon_logo_RGB

What Do These Statistics Mean?!

I know just enough about technology to be skeptical of everything but not quite enough to actually transform that skepticism into confidence.  Here’s an example: interpreting the Driven to Drink site statistics.  I know that “unique visitors” matter more than anything.  That’s a key metric. (Although I do care if you, in particular, visit the site like a billion times…I also kind of don’t care, because the key is different, or unique, visitors.  And I don’t even know how to define “unique” from a technology standpoint.  What if you are batshit crazy stalker running around logging in to different computers to re-read whatever bullshit I’ve vomited onto the screen?).  Additionally, I know about “bounce rate.”  That is, how many of you end up in the site and remain…read, listen, bounce around; and how many of you (…well, not necessarily you, because if you’ve gotten here you’re actually reading…) just bounce on and off.  For this, my stats program tells me how long each visit lasts.  I automatically “throw out” the ones that are 0 – 30 seconds and also those at the 30 seconds – 2 minutes level.  I only count visits at the following levels: 2mn-5mn, 5mn-15mn, 15mn-30mn, 30mn-1hr, and 1hr+.  Obviously, I love seeing those final two categories bulk, because it means (…at least as far as I know…) those visits include lots of reading and likely listening to the podcasts.  But what the fuck do I know?! (Nothing?)  Right!

Anywho…my percentage of unique visitors had been increasing steadily for about 8 months, and then in the past two months that began declining.  Imagine a flattened out bell curve, or find a picture of Mount Kilimanjaro.  Like this:

elephants-three-ti_1563952c

(By the way, elephants are awesome.)

Additionally, my bounce rate, which are those “throw away” visits between 0 seconds and 2 minutes, has been consistently about 85%

And then, just two days ago, I noted 505 unique visitors.  And yesterday? 1, 095.  Yikes!  It looks like today is on track to hit somewhere between those two numbers.  And furthermore, when I look at the bounce rate, things have changed dramatically.  Those “throw away” visits are currently at 65%.  And if I look at the two top categories, encompassing 30 minutes to 1 hour+, it’s 25%.  Not only has my fast-bounce rate never been so low, neither has my “linger rate,” as I call it, been so damn high.

When I first saw this, I did a little internal jig.  Shillelaghs and fiddles and shit.  But then my brain straight-up pimp-slapped itself immediately.  “Calm the fuck down here, Early McJumpinthegun.  Not only don’t you know what all of this means now, you had no idea what any of it meant ever.”  And really, the less optimistic and more self-depreciating bully in my brain is right.  He doesn’t have to be such a shithead, I agree.  But he’s right.  It’s like I have Simon Cowell in my neurology…and as much as we love to hate that man for being douchey about everything, it’s important to listen to his message because he knows what he’s saying.

So I’ll float this out into the digital atmosphere and ask you.  What the fuck does this all mean?  Really, do you know?

Ultimately, if I’m purporting to self-publish this quite public memoir and have humorous, drunken, sometimes informative, deep, nostalgic, and entertaining conversations with my wife at which all of you can laugh; and if I truly find fun, fulfillment, and seemingly infinite insight through these endeavors…then what I should do is just stop looking at the damn stats.

But…that’s be a lie.  Because I do care.  I do want a larger audience.  And I wouldn’t mind eventually collecting some monetary acknowledgement of the value in this endeavor.  So then, I ask again…how the frig do I interpret these statistics?!  What is aberration, and what is trend?  What is false, and what is true?  Are one of you fucking with me?!  Ralph Wiggum?  (Who the hell are you?!)

If you have an insight, experience, or even an opinion rooted in nothing more than a blustery sense of confidence…I, for one, would like to read/hear it.  So c’mon folks, help a brother out!

-G

YAY-STATISTICS-04

All Alone In My Head

All alone in my head.

It’s an amazingly precarious place.

Neither Alfred Hitchcock nor Rod Serling could generate the tension, Eli Roth nor Takashi Miike the horror, Peter Jackson nor Stephen Spielberg the fantasy, Vince Gilligan nor Stanley Kubrick the anxiety, Marc Maron nor Louie C.K. the self-loathing, that my brain can generate…wreaking havoc on my emotions, cognition, body, and health.

All alone in my head.

It’s a precariously amazing place.

There in the several pounds of carbon-based, watery electro-chemical complexity exists the only place through which I have access to the Truth that I constantly pursue.  I’ve sought and cultivated the mindfulness, meditation and dispassion necessary to open those doors to reality, and fortunately I’ve been given enough ability, experience, and companionship along the way to not only have access but, every now and again, glimpse insights that I believe are Truth.  And yet like ghosts, or a thick morning fog just before sunrise, that which seemed so immediately tangible vanishes and, given our senses tendency toward the here and now, is quickly forgotten.

All alone in my head.

Is the most important place in the universe.  And yet, without human interaction, dialogue, relationship, interconnectivity…means absolutely nothing.  Or worse, becomes the nightmare-scape described above…that amazingly precarious place.  While Truth can only be approached and ultimately understood through quiet, focused reflection and meditation…there is absolutely no way to arrive there without people.

Any insight I receive, and then communicate to you, is exactly that…received.  While I try to move about with an open, mindful demeanor, and while I both seek and request such insights…ultimately they are all provided through experiences and interactions.  With people.

It is another of life’s yin and yang that communicates, I think, reality.  Alone…and together…and alone.  Both absolutely necessary and interdependent.

Just yesterday, I saw an old friend, Michael.  He asked me, “How are you?”  He asked me, “How is Jen?”

He seemed open to a full response, and I am always open to providing such output.

Through the process of communicating to this friend, no longer all alone in my head (…as I have been for many weeks now, not having the opportunity, willingness, or ability to engage in meaningful communication with people…), I uttered neither a rehearsed nor reflexive response, but rather I communicated honestly, fully, and unexpectedly.  It was stream of consciousness, improvisation…it was that which had been trapped, rattling around in my head.

And I learned… that Jen and I are happy and healthy, that we have exceptional friends and family (including each other), that we are karmically stable, that we have entered the territory of crisis, and that our crises (…both individually and as a family…) includes important elements of danger and opportunity.  This friend and I engaged in dialogue for some time, and as we communicated…confidence, calm, concession (…to the universe and our journeys…), and love washed over me.  Together with Michael.

And now…

All alone in my head.

Right here.  Right now.  I know we are well.  You and I.  For the world is perfectly what the world is, and we are all perfectly what we are.  There is no other here and now than this.

Though…without you, there is no me…and all alone in my head is no place to be.

Thank you.

-G

4849_karma
(Karma, by Rik Oostenbroek)

Animal Psychic Friends

Today, Chuck Shepherd’s “News of the Weird” gave us perhaps the greatest podcasting gift we’ve yet to receive, Karen Anderson. Ms. Anderson is an animal communicator and psychic who reportedly spoke with the recently deceased Cecil the Lion. Ms. Anderson’s endeavors have caused us to seriously reconsider the first purchase we’ll make with donations and amazon funds. For the low, low price of $75 for a 15 minute session, you can connect with up to two pets…either living or deceased. (That’s $300/hour, for those who don’t feel like doing the math but whose jaws dropped there.) Or, better yet, Jen can find out precisely what’s going on in Kate’s brain. Jen can also find out, perhaps, what was going through Kaylin, the Husky’s brain, on the fateful day when she attacked me back in the early 80’s and “went to live on a farm.”

“But,” you might ask, “what about you, Greg? Are you going to be there?”

I don’t think I could do this with a straight face. Also, a little piece of me, the piece that visited a psychic many, many years ago and had a too-accurate experience, fears what Kate might have to say. It might go like this: “These assholes wonder why I’m so freaking energetic, but they never take me on walks. Lazy asses just sit around and drink, knit, and watch Game of Thrones. The douchebag who’s not here now used to run me ragged; until my shoulder gave out…then he just stopped doing anything. Oh, and they make fun of my breath all the time, yet is anyone brushing my teeth or giving me those delicious green things? No. You know what else, Karen. They got me totally hooked on laser lights, and then they just took them away. Cold turkey! What assholes, right? And these two cats. Christ. One of them is a straight up bitch. No, wrong word. That’s what I am. You know what she is? Emmy. That’s her name. She’s a selfish, ungrateful, floppy-stomached prig. And the fuzzy black one? Yikes. That one’s a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Karen, can you also tell them that my ass juice is an expression of deep devotion? Thanks. Oh, and rabbit shit really does taste like heaven. And the tomato incident. Not my fault.” Maybe she’s like a canine stand-up comic.

Anyway, people…let’s make this happen! With your donations (…the link is just over there to the right…), or even with your extravagant shopping through our amazon link (…also to the right, just above the “Driven to Donate” button…), we can hear from Kate. And from Kaylin.

So…beer.

New Belgium has finally come to Western PA. Today we had Pumpkick, which is, at it’s foundation, a fairly traditional and delicious pumpkin ale. However, the brewers incorporate cranberry juice and lemongrass to take it from kin to kick! It’s absolutely delicious, and you should try it.

Also…important lessons.

Beyond our introduction to Karen Anderson, we accumulated valuable information from the News of the Weird:

1. Don’t try to buy drugs from your drug dealer with cops swarming.
2. If you run out of ammo during your military exercises,
just point and yell, “Bang Bang!”
3. Don’t play Russian roulette. Like ever.
4. God can’t grant you safety while you handle a rattlesnake.
(Or, as we just learned, a six-shooter with one bullet in the chamber.)
5. Don’t fuck bushes…someone has a smartphone.
(But also, just don’t do that. That’s nasty, baby!)
6. Masturbating during thunderstorms makes one feel like Thor.
(Get your timing right, know’msay’n?)
7. It is truly amazing what you can fit up your ass. (Google search it)

And what, friends, can you take from this podcast? Joy. Laughter. Perhaps a reminder that life is ultimately quite short and well worth living to the fullest.

Enjoy.

We bring you, “Animal Psychic Friends.”

-G

springer
(I see dead pumpkins)

Bicycle

The date: July 19th, 2015.

The time: Right around Noon.

The setting: Edisto Island, SC.

The thermometer read 93, but the heat index had things feeling just above 100.

My first ever South Atlantic coast vacation. We’d just spent approximately 24 hours in a car across two days to arrive precisely where we needed to be. (See Paradise Found for tales of that trafficlusterfuckadelic.)

As my family and friends rode bikes from the rental shop to the property, I drove my bike back in the car. The fucking car.

But, I’d never learned to ride a bike. I’d never traveled from point A to point B on two wheels. I’d once, as an adult, found several yards of balance on a bike, but quickly abandoned the endeavor as frustrating and ultimately not worth the time and energy.

So there I was. In the car. With a bike. My bike. That I couldn’t ride. Fuck.

I wasn’t afraid…as I had been when I initially attempted to ride at an age when most children learn. Perhaps it was Kindergarten or first grade. Training wheels off…and I was reportedly a basket case. I wasn’t angry…which formed a nasty negative-feedback loop with the above-mentioned fear throughout my early childhood. And I wasn’t ashamed or embarrassed…which were the pervasive and counterproductive emotions that eventually usurped the fear/rage cycle and stayed with me well into my 30’s.

That’s one meta-layered and massively fucked up yin and yang…feaRage and ashamassment.

But that was me. For a long, long time.

In that car, on July 19th, on Edisto Island…my tribe receding in the rear view mirror, determination took over. I simply made a decision…and I spoke it out loud.

“I’m gonna ride that fucking bike.”

For too many years I’d heard the phrase, “It’s like riding a bike,” and smiled outwardly as the not-quite-buried yin and yang of dysfunction creaked back to life in my emotional cortex. Fear feeding anger masking embarrassment revealing shame.

“Not today. Today, I’m gonna ride that fucking bike.”

And I did.

I parked the car with Zen flow and focus. The world seemed to be moving in slow-motion around me. I had made a decision, and debilitating emotions had no place in my consciousness.

I casually removed the bike.

I adjusted the seat. (Having participated in many spin classes, I knew what to do.)

And I kicked off.

I made the hundred-or-so yard straight ride through the lot on my first attempt. (I realize the world doesn’t generally work this way…but on this day my karma ran over my dogma and left me with nothing but cycle enlightenment.) And with that success, I continued.

By the time the crew arrived, I was turning and handling slight grades, potholes and changes in terrain (e.g. grass to tarmac to crushed pebbles to shallow sand), and the attenuating panic that set in when a car entered or exited the lot.

Everyone cheered me. Apparently nobody who wasn’t my wife or step-daughter believed that I’d never ridden before.

Over the following 5 days, I rode solo, I completed a 6 mile round trip to town to fill my backpack with groceries, I took the path which hemmed me in between a lake and a road, I kicked up my speed both uphill and downhill, I coasted, I got a nasty splinter trying to stop myself on an old one lane bridge, and I took several layers of skin off of my left big toe riding like a dumbass in flip flops. I felt like I crammed years of experience and exposure into that short week. I did it all on a shitty one-speed rental with coaster brakes that really didn’t fit me. But motherfucker, I had a beverage holder front and center…and I used it.

What’s the point here?

I’m not looking for additional congratulations or attention beyond this: it is never too late to do shit you want to do. Furthermore: You never know when the urge will hit you. And finally: You never know when your ability to overcome fear, rage, shame, embarrassment, or whatever is holding you back, with steely determination will emerge.

It’s never too late.

You never know.

Try.

-G

peewee2
(I want to ride my bicycle. BICYCLE!!)

A Reflection On Service and Sacrifice

Though I was never called, cajoled, or otherwise compelled to military service, there is a strong familial precedence for such a choice. The U.S.M.C. runs in both my paternal and maternal bloodlines. My journey was entirely linear and involved school straight through to the age of 24 followed by what should have been a steady gig at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. However, after my clinical fellowship year, a requirement for board certified speech/language pathologists, I felt emotionally deflated, professionally dissatisfied, purposeless and lost. What. The. Fuck?! (Indeed.)

A series of serendipitous conversations with seemingly random people led me to AmeriCorps service. I disconnected from my profession and the hospital bureaucracy. I needed to figure shit out. I wanted to serve my local community. To the chagrin of my family (…with the notable exception of my Mom and Step-Father, both of whom have supported me regardless of my tendency to shift gears in search of meaning throughout my entire life…), I quit my job, moved home, put my student loan debt on hold (…though not the interest, never the interest…), and made next to nothing to serve in a variety of capacities at a community human services organization. After-school and vocational programming for impoverished families, homeless outreach, mental health support, etc.

At the end of that year, I felt, at the very least, that I had given more than I had consumed. I knew that service mattered more, for me, than anything. Also, I felt that I wasn’t quite done yet. I had three options:

1. Re-apply for AmeriCorps for a second year
2. Re-enter the world of speech/language pathology
3. Apply for PhD programs

On a whim, and quite unbeknownst to anyone, I added:

4. Apply for Peace Corps service

As my final months of AmeriCorps service wound down, I explored all options and dismissed both another year in AmeriCorps and also resuming my profession as I’d experienced it just a year previously. I completed several applications for reputable PhD programs, and I completed my Peace Corps application. I made a deal in my head, whoever called first would be my choice. If no one called, I’d find a different AmeriCorps experience…perhaps in another city.
Peace Corps called within a week. It was Winter, 1999.

In late September, 2000, I arrived in Nairobi, Kenya to begin 26 months of service as a Deaf education volunteer. I took the responsibility seriously. I endeavored to honor the service of my biological Father, my Uncles, and Grandfathers. I committed myself to represent the United States as a de facto ambassador. Look, folks…I’m not trying to gain your accolades or applause. Neither am I making my path equivalent to the sacrifices of the men and women who have served and are serving in a military capacity. However, it’s important to me to communicate that I took oaths, committed time, and served my communities, my country, my planet, and humanity through endeavors that compelled me. I was called. The choices were mine, but not entirely.

And so it was, on September 11th, 2001, that I found myself on a lush, verdant mountain in the Kenyan highlands. In Murang’a, which is near enough to Kirinyaga, otherwise known as Mt. Kenya, that I could often see the peak of that majestic rock from my vantage at the Murang’a School for the Deaf. I believe I was doing laundry. By hand. Listening to one of the several pop stations out of Nairobi. As fate would have it, I had not tuned to the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC) or the Voice of America (VoA) that morning. A Peace Corps vehicle drove onto campus and a somber Kenyan driver exited the vehicle. “Bwana Gregory.” “Karibu sana,” I volleyed. “Have you heard?” I had not. And I learned of the tragedy.

Vehicles had gone out across the country, and each volunteer was told to stay put. On top of a mountain in a rural Kenyan village, I was among the safest United States citizens on the planet. I stayed put. For the subsequent weeks until I was able to travel to Nairobi, I remained with the BBC and the VOA. I avoided television, unable and unwilling to watch and to process the event through the soundbites and opinions of a media already well on its way toward caring more about the economics of sensationalism and fear than the professional duty of journalism and news. Instead of processing from the inside like most…perhaps all of you, I collected diverse information from the outside. I watched everything unfold from afar, from “the world stage.” My emotional connection with the events of 9/11 are different than yours. But then again, each of us has a unique experience. Each of us processed that day from our own perspective. And each of us remembers, honors, grieves, processes, and arrives at this very point, 9/11/15, in our own manner.

Today I’ll take moments to reflect, to meditate, and send loving, healing prayers out to you and to all who remember…or who choose to forget, all who died…and those who still live in that unbearable shadow, and all who have love…or hate in their hearts. Because it matters. Still.

Be well.

-G

you-must-be-the-change-you-wish-to-see-in-the-world-1024x576

The Lost Boy

Today you will hear crickets.

No, really. You will hear…crickets.

It’s actually quite relaxing to hear them in the background, not distractingly loud but still an ever present reminder of the world around us. It’s nice.

You know what else is nice? Flying Dog “The Fear” Imperial Pumpkin Ale. And at 9% abv, it’s really nice! Greg formulated a new drink from a dwindling bar. You know what they say, when you have Cynar (…pronounced “Chee-nar”…) make Cynar-ade. And that’s precisely what happened. The drink…is “Cynar the Barbarian.” The recipe…is quite simple, though the ingredients are not commonplace. If you have them, or if you have access to them, you should really give this a shot. Start with a tall glass (…pint glass, highball glass, medium-sized mason jar, whatevs…) and fill it with ice. Then, build this: 1.25 ounces Cynar (…the large side of a traditional jigger, or a full shot plus a tiny pourover…), 1.25 ounces port wine (…doesn’t need to be expensive, just port…), 1.25 ounces lapsang souchang sweet tea (…or you can make a cup of whatever tea you like. Make it strong and super saturate it with sugar to make an almost syrupy sweet tea. Squeezing in a quarter to a half lemon won’t hurt either…), then fill the glass with sparkling mineral water (i.e. Perrier) or club soda. Stir, and enjoy. It’s kind of bitter, kind of sweet, kind of smoky, and very complex.

Today, Greg drags Jen into the office to take a look at an old Hollywood friend (…at least for those of us in our late 30’s to mid 40’s who grew up with The Goonies, The Lost Boys, Stand By Me, Gremlins, or The ‘burbs, among others…), Corey Feldman. Greg felt that the Feldman presentation would be hilarious and amusing, but it turns out that Corey’s journey from child superstar to grown-ass man is quite predictable and sad…and while this podcast isn’t a bummer, it’s certainly not a laugh riot.

Greg moves through his agenda, which includes:

> Corey Haim is dead
> Corey Feldman’s “company”, Corey’s Angels*
> Corey Feldman’s “music,” Remember 222 & Assention Millennium.
> Corey’s apparent Michael Jackson infatuation.
> Corey Feldman’s performance at a minor league baseball game      and his subsequent loss of a Special Olympics gig.
> Vice.com’s reports from Feldman’s birthday parties,
     in 2013 & 2014.
> Celebrity wife swap with Feldman and Tommy Davidson.
     Yikes, double yikes, and triple yikes.

*Since recording this podcast, just last week, Corey has apparently pulled the plug on everything related to Corey’s Angels. Quadruple yikes. Here is his endorsed fluff piece.

Jen claims, quite accurately, to Greg, “You want me to do things in your head but I’m a person.” This is where Corey Feldman is doing things right, as his Maingel (“main angel”) states, “I’m a fruitarian, which means I only eat fruit.” Though, not really, because she later writes a message for the camera which states, quite emphatically, “Help me!!” There is no joke in her facial expression. The lesson here? It’s better to have a real relationship with an honest, caring, and independent human being rather than a cultish fetish with women desperate to become models, or actresses, or Maingels.

So really, it became quite difficult to laugh at Corey

But the drinks were outstanding, even if the music wasn’t. (Though we do close strong with, “Cry Little Sister,” by G Tom Mac. Remember that? Click here. How about now?)

We present to you, “The Lost Boy.”

corey's angels
(Corey’s Angels logo. Like for real. This is the logo.)

Total Perspective Vortex

As a young children on camping trips, we’d sing a marvelously challenging tongue-twister of a tune titled, “There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.” It began, “There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea. There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea. There’s a hole. There’s a hole. There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea.” And in that hole we’d place smaller and smaller objects until someone tripped-up on the lyrics. I remember once arriving at something like, “There’s a fleck on the speck on the vein on the gnat on the wing on the flea on the wart on the frog on the branch on the log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.” It could’ve gone on forever really…as long as one could think of something smaller than the previous thing and then hold it together through the verse.

As a child, this kind of thing was wonderfully fun.

As a truth-seeking adult, often too much in my own head (like right now), facing fairly frequent existential crises (like yesterday), there is a disconcerting, sometimes terrifying depth to the construct on which this song is founded.

It is a construct of universal scale, either inconceivably massive or imperceptibly miniscule, as processed in one fragile, just-complex-enough-to-know-what-it-can’t-know-yet-simple-enough-to-keep-trying human brain.

I was an undergraduate at the University of Pittsburgh when I emotionally collided with this construct for the first time. The course was Anatomy and Physiology of Speech. The topic was neurology. I’d never taken a deep, meta-cognitive contemplation about my brain…not until this class and the texts, readings, and discussions therein. Chris Moore was the professor, and I admired him. He was obviously smart, but he also was loose, witty, warm, and approachable. He seemed to really care about his professional endeavors, the subject matter, and his responsibilities as a teacher/mentor to aspiring professionals. Aspiring adults. He thought bigger than the topic, than the field…and his energy increased when any of us thought bigger than the specific information in front of our eyes. When we weren’t obsessed with, “Is that gonna be on the test?”

I really got into the brain (…and boy was it messy [bah-dum-dum-PSHT!]…). In class one day I looked down at my hand, paused, and then I lifted my index finger nearly imperceptibly. And…BAM! I was overcome with something that now reminds me of a passage from Douglas Adams’, “The Restaurant at the End of the Universe.” Here I’ll quote the text, and the introduction of the Total Perspective Vortex:

“The Total Perspective Vortex derives its picture of the whole Universe on the principle of extrapolated matter analyses. To explain — since every piece of matter in the Universe is in some way affected by every other piece of matter in the Universe, it is in theory possible to extrapolate the whole of creation — every sun, every planet, their orbits, their composition and their economic and social history from, say, one small piece of fairy cake.

The man who invented the Total Perspective Vortex did so basically in order to annoy his wife.
Trin Tragula — for that was his name — was a dreamer, a thinker, a speculative philosopher or, as his wife would have it, an idiot.

And she would nag him incessantly about the utterly inordinate amount of time he spent staring out into space, or mulling over the mechanics of safety pins, or doing spectrographic analyses of pieces of fairy cake.

“Have some sense of proportion!” she would say, sometimes as often as thirty-eight times in a single day.

And so he built the Total Perspective Vortex — just to show her.

And into one end he plugged the whole of reality as extrapolated from a piece of fairy cake, and into the other end he plugged his wife: so that when he turned it on she saw in one instant the whole infinity of creation and herself in relation to it.

To Trin Tragula’s horror, the shock completely annihilated her brain; but to his satisfaction he realized that he had proved conclusively that if life is going to exist in a Universe of this size, then the one thing it cannot afford to have is a sense of proportion.”

I was hit, in that moment, having simply (yet…not simply) moved my finger, with a realization that I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. And thank goodness, because perhaps the shock of such a thing would have annihilated MY brain.

I raised my hand.

“Greg?”

Now, what followed out of my mouth likely had NOTHING to do with what Dr. Moore was explaining. Also, considering that I was among tens of other undergrads, entirely disinterested in what was about to come out of my head, I should have shut my trap, made a note, and caught Moore after class. That’s not what I did.

“Greg?! Do you have a question.”

“I do. So, if I move my finger, we can trace that physical movement backwards. Right?”

“Yes…?”

“We could trace it back through the peripheral nervous system and the central nervous system. We could theoretically trace it back to the very first neuro-electro-chemical change.”

“…Sure.”

“So…what makes THAT change happen?”

(Silence.)

Moore has a smirk on his face. Most everyone else is either rolling their eyes or opening them from the light nap they’d been taken. Silence will always wake you from such in-class eye-resting endeavors.

“Well…we could talk about this over coffee later.”

(A smattering of hearty laughter…from those who were attending.)

I smiled, tucked my emotional tail between my legs, and shut my fucking mouth. This is not a question a scientist can answer…not with any confidence.

You see, we can talk about smaller and smaller things on smaller and smaller things. To a point. And then it all disperses in theoretical context-dependent particle/wave/energy (non)things. And we can contemplate larger and more plentiful things until infinity. At which point we enter the territory of malaria dreams. (Not fun.)

What is the smallest knowable thing made of?

What begets that first neuro-electro-chemical change that precipitates in a finger twitch? Or the formulation of the theory of relativity?

How many universes are there, and when, if at all, did they wink into existence?

Total perspective vortex.

I would like to think that I, like Zaphod Beeblebrux, could not only survive the experience but revel in it. Have my fairy cake and eat it too. (You might be thinking that I’ve consumed mass quantities of cannabis-laden fairy cake to have arrived at this point. You’d be wrong…on this occasion.)

But I don’t know.

There’s a persistent grain of doubt on anything in that hole in the bottom of my consciousness.
So somehow, inexplicably, perhaps inevitably…faith is all I have on which to hang my hat.

Faith.

A blind leap into that vast, cavernous hole in my consciousness, with a certainty that I will land safely somewhere closer to Truth.

Oh, to have the pure, unfettered, still-developing, open-to-anything, baggage-free brain of little Gregory. That husky, chubby-cheeked, knock-kneed little shit who had the world, and likely a couple of Pop Tarts, at his fingertips. The world where there could be God and gods, and nothing. Myths and magic, and discovery. Mystery and superstition, and revelation. And a vein on a wing on a gnat on a fly on a wart on a frog on a bump on a log in the hole in the bottom of the sea.

-G

Mostly Harmless