Monthly Archives: January 2010

‘Death, or Xanga?’ You have till sunrise tomorrow, convict.’

    Yes the failure of yesterday’s post to ascend to Top-Blog status, despite its
1) gratuitous ‘Xanga’ in the title,
2) copious mention of sex, and
3) thought-provoking theological speculation,
 has driven me back onto my home court. I shall have to subsist without the LOL’s of the unwashed another day. Oh well. To their credit, the death-row inmates working as interns at Xanga after having been offered a choice of hanging, firing squad, or twelve(12) months reading candidate posts probably groked that I was being primarily facetious. i.e. ‘not serious’.
Let’s call this one: ‘Too much wacky Wiki from Milwaukee?’.

Nowadays I usually line up a corporate sponser before I write a song. Sure I still have to invest some of my own money, but having a well-off patron sure makes things easier. The only downside is including an ad or at least a name-mention. Often I can get away with sticking it in the 2nd or third verse. (On ‘Blowing out my old flame’ I got the blurb taken care of already in the intro. Folks can fast-forward through it.)
  So Isra-gas® is footing the bill for my latest adventure, a tone-poem built on traditional classic Hindustani forms, with lyrics taken from the rough dialect of share-croppers from French Guiana. Trust me, it works. Anyone who worked as long as I have in the near-equatorial heat of that S.American enclave leaves forever, forever-changed by the power of the local hi-cal pidgin to describe the sights and smells, the ups and downs of life in the shadow of  red-hot peppers, rocket launches, penal colonies, and mosquitos. Hence:
TOMATO-PATOIS RAGAS©. Which I dedicate with due gratitude: “TO MA, TO PA, TO ISRA-GAS” already in the title. And yes, I cook exclusively with propane from the well-managed Israeli consortium. Wearing the complementry T-shirt most mornings. Never know when the sponsor will drop in for an omelet.

Question # 1 of 7: We keep our Xanga-names in Heaven?

    Ok, I’m not sure if this goes to The Xanga Team® or one of the millions of Christians who spend lots of time pining down details of that Final Travel Destination.
And I have to admit the query is not currently relevant;  I really have no stake in Heaven®, except as a powerful metaphor. Still, hypothetically, if I were to convert at this late stage, I’d feel like a fool buying into a package which didn’t include blogging, even with dial-up. And no, I’m not ready to change user-names, then have to tell all my subs: “Hey, it’s me!; used to be jsolberg, and I can see your house from here; lawnmower’s in the shop, huh?”. And then get them all to re-sub to /Died_4_Him_btw_he’s_gay.
     I promised 7 questions. Wish they weren’t mainly about sex, but hey, I’m just assuming the food will be delightful, (and such ample servings too…)  Ditto for the free lending library and the generous choice of vintage and/or cutting-edge aircraft to take up (down?) for a spin. Here’s what’s left, before I sign on the holy line:
2) I’m assuming there’ll be chicks/girls/women, whatever. Including those with whom I’ve had the honor of cavorting with here on Earth. Especially those. I mean, damn, I meant it when I told her Heaven must be missing an angel.’ and she said “yes, I said yes, as well you as any other, and let her hair down like the Catalonian girls do…” So Q#2= Chicks:y/n?

3) Pretty much a follow-up: I’ll have a body, right? I’m real flexible on that; it can be anywhere from 15 to 61, as far as I’m concerned. Haven’t noticed any down-hill issues as of today *crosses fingers*
4) And they’ll all tell  the Truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help them  God, over there in Building 99-B? Like “I did it cause I wanted to have your baby then move to Indiana, but then I remembered I was on the Pill after the third time.” Or even “I just wanted to get back at Bernie, you know, my bf from Swarthmore, but then I like decided, f*ck Bennie, whatevah..”
5) Back to the mundane, I’m assuming we don’t have to try to use Windows Vista™ up there? Isn’t that what Hell is for?
6) Oops, forgot one. What if, like, the girl gets pregnant, as usual, on our first romp in the ethereal hay-mow? Does the kid have to go down to Earth and suffer for years as an accountant or an art instructor at some second-rate community college before he OD’s and comes back up to share our nicely-accomodated flat with his/her real parents?
7) And finally, back to Xanga, of course. (Increases my chances of Eternal Life on the Front Page) I’m so like totally hoping there won’t be targeted ads on my Heavenly Private Page, even if I keep the cheap-skate free site option. I mean, “Jesus is the Way, click here and find out more”  is serious preaching to the choir, and “Ten tips to a flatter stomach”?  Hell, up here I can pick any body I damn well feel like, right? (See Q# 3). Not to mention “Meet your soul-mate: Anapurna, 21, Gujarat State, likes long walks on the beach.” Silly mortal, I’m busy taking yer Momma for long walks on the Timeless shore, interupted by hourly Kama Sutra lessons. ‘Hey Sri-Ana, here’s my Xanga address. Comment me, kewl? It’s http://www.xanga.com/jsolberg_in_heaven.’


No further questions…

A Tear in one eye, and Tear in the other…

Happened onto this delightful ditty last night, from the prophetic Swiss-American ex-pat Sivle Greblos (1847-1913), Taken from his odd “Je Accuse: Pardon my ESL French” 177 p. w/illus, Whine Press: Geneva 1907. Thought it would be fun to post it here. Still relevant after all these years.
To Mona Mellisa Lisa:

“Meet me at Noon in the Great Hall of Mirrors
We’ll sit and we’ll chat there, no gawkers or hearers
I look like that lady you all know by sight
But with a tear in my left eye, and a tear in my right.”

I can’t wait to meet you‘ I MSG-ed her back
Then I thought for a moment and opened my pack
Stocked Bandaids and tissues, oh, and custard eclairs
Yes, ready for anything, both tears and tears

I jumped in the car: Hmm, so dark in the trunk?
Got the brains of a door-knob, ‘least I look like a hunk
I went through two red-lights, ran over a skunk
who was fine, but he claimed I was driving while drunk

She was waiting as promised, though looking quite down
Her eyes modified by both forms of the noun
Yes, a tear in one eye and a tear in the other
Like a poor little girl who had just lost her mother

First tell me a story‘ she held out her hand
‘Well, “they’re made in a castle in a fantasy land;
Close your eyes, open wide, dear, I’ve got a suprise
An eclair, now it’s your turn; say, what’s with the eyes?”

Well, the sign at the zoo said “Do NOT feed the bear
But the beast looked so hungry, so I gave him a pear
Guess fur’s not the smartest of garments to wear
Tried to give him a kiss and he gave me this tear

Then a sound in my Honda, I fear it’s the gear
I hear it at thirty, the end may be near
Just replaced it last year; what a bite in the rear
It makes me feel small; I’m reduced to a tear
(later:)

My bandages run through the gamut of sizes
from tiny enough for a little girl’s eyes-es
to one made especially for the mouth of a bear
and another for all-purpose auto repair

By two we had everything under control
Save the sad English language, devised by a troll
A beer in a bier and a bear in the bare,
And a waif with a wafer and ‘a tear and a tear’


Wu: Oy, if that don’t choke ’em up, they got hearts of stone, Johnny
Me: We shall see…
Wu: …or they’re just plain anti-semites
Me: Bite your teeth, Wu. The day I need to pull that charge out of the bottom drawer I’ll just quit writing.
Wu: But how come you never be on the front page?
Me: Oh, there’s lots of non-sectarian reasons, guy. I mean, look at the Top 100 sometime: What ain’t farts is Walmarts, poorly-understood-body-parts, and “My Broken Xanga Heart”s
Wu: Damn, you even rhyme when you bitter, boy
Me: Bitter? You takin’ some medication you haven’t told us about? Nope, this post is for a very special anonymous someone. It’s all I can do as an on-line entity.
Wu: Like I said, ‘sweet’
Me: Yup, the Meaning of Life. By the way, if you didn’t exist, Wu, I’d have to invent you. ♥ 
    

God never intended us to play without notes, Johnny

   Last night I heard the Warsaw Concerto (link to Youtube ) on Israel’s Army Radio station. It’s been about 50 years since I heard it last. I was filled with mixed emotions. This was the first 33 1/3 record we owned, my Mom having bought the LP (and later regretted having done so)  for my 7th birthday.I played it on the antique RCA Victrola endlessly. Always while she was out in the barn milking cows, in order not to re-hash the following conversation:
*from the kitchen* “Ab in the right hand, three bars back”
“I know. I’m just little, Ma.”
“Why don’t you paractice your Etudes for thursday?”
“I hate etudes. They’re not about real people.”
“Poop on ‘real people.'”
{my translation-}
    Ok, she never came out with it, the real objections, but I knew her secret agenda:
1) This-here copying performances by ear is like, ‘cheating‘. Real musicians play from a written score. and furthermore:
2) Kids have no idea what these lofty romantic emotions in stuff like the Warsaw Concerto are about. Our people don’t mention them, if possible. Start expressing emotion and who knows what demons will come flying out of Pandora’s Box. You might turn out like Liberace! *spits*

I admit I had no idea what churned underneath the passionate feelings dripping from every note. Hey I was eight. I’d seen cows die, that was about it for angst. Still, it wouldn’t hurt to practice, I told my infant self, to go through the motions until I  might, some day, if I ever got off the farm, understand what town people probably felt like in their bathrobes, smoking pipes and dancing to Maurice Chevrolet.™
So yeah, I got the message. Learned to play like a machine in public. A credit to my race. Still, she must have heard, over the mooings and the milk-machines’ steady glupping, the sounds of a kid getting closer every night to faux-heaven… and died a thousand deaths.
The Warsaw Concerto was commisioned for a 1941 movie, Dangerous Moonlight, I just learned. Our people didn’t go to movies; they were always screened by thoughtless Epicureans at exactly the hour when real kids needed to climb to the top of the silo and pitch-fork down another ton of silage.
I do prefer Tschaikovsky,  but I can still play this damned piece with my eyes closed 50 years later. Hard to keep ’em down on the farm after they’ve heard about the Continent.

Listening to the Lights go out

So this is how It Ends? Neither with a Whimper nor a Bang; rather with an aweful forgetting what either of them mean exactly. Or how they smell?

I stride confidently out to a car I believe to be mine. In the early morning darkness it’s the sole vehicle in my driveway but I relax only when I see the colour: banana yellow, just like when I parked it. Banging my head on the roof I slide into the seat. And panic when I discover that someone has stolen the steering wheel(!) Luckily there is one in front of the passenger seat. I grasp it, feeling the familiar touch of imitation naugahyde. A light goes on. I jump out, check whether anyone is looking and re-enter the car, this time on the driver’s side. Whew.
Fast Forward… or reverse, I forget.

    A pair of yellow-handled aviation snips lies on the floor at work. I know this beause I used them five minutes ago, but go figure where they could be? I search methodically, scanning every square centimeter of the floor seven times in vain. Frustrated, I devise a plan. Step one, they are yellow. Like my car. My eyes quickly spot them, or something yellow at least. I pick it up and feel the drywall mud-tray’s plastic structure. Nope, they cut, I tell myself pantomiming a squeezing action with my right hand. That was Step two. Jaws, yes, something with jaws. Hey, I do remember feeling something menacing like that on one of my sorties. Over there in the corner? Yes, I conclude after I get my hands on them. Cutters.Stretching out my measuring tape on a length of metal corner bead I search for the number 187. None of the digits look that familiar but wait, here’s a pair of yellow numbers, a ‘7’ and an ‘8’ for sure. Carefully I snip the tape itself in two(!) And at exactly the 178 mark… Go home.

    Driving home I come to a strange intersection. The old ‘I’ve never been here before in my life” feeling,  familiar from other junctions I’ve never seen in my life, yet I was rumoured to be on my way home. Where am I? Reading the signs, I mentally list the town names, none of them banging much of a bell. Suddenly ‘Qadima’ whimpers at me, the absurd lone lead-off ‘Q’ starved of a ‘U’ by the brain-dead local Philistines. Yup, smells like de-feat. I turn left and am home within two minutes.
   
Maybe?  But if not, why did my key fit in the lock? I open the refrigerator door. Empty as Geraldo’s Tomb. A light goes on. Yep. I’m home.


WU: Say it ain’t so, Johnny. You were my hero
Me: Hell, I was my own hero, a wunderkind in any field you could name.
WU: So what happened?
Me: IDK, Going blind isn’t what you think. You still see, ya just don’t grasp what yer lookin’ at. Then there’s the memory loss/ failure of auto-pilot to contend with.
WU: And all in zero-visibility and turbulence down to the surface.
Me: Yup. Sucks to get old. Still, when they drain the water out of the pond you see stuff you thought you’d never taste again.
WU: Like?
Me: Oh, like the smell of hay. Close your eyes and you’re ten years old ‘n out on the tractor .
WU: …Only you can’t find the steering wheel?
Me: Yeah, that part sucks

Product Review: M16 vs M31

    I was fine for the couple hours it took to master disassembly, cleaning, and re-assembly of the M-16
assault rifle. (Ignore the ‘assault’ for now.) A time-tested piece of earthly technology. Built to be broken into pieces in the field. Made to last until you no longer need it(?). Early bugs have been dealt with. I bid my son ‘be’hatz’le’khah’ (“success”) in another week of active duty, this time on our northern border with what’s left of Lebanon.  once the ‘Paris of the Middle East’.

And then I made a mistake. Read a dozen or so web pages on the ‘assault’ part of the rifle. Maximization of tissue damage‘, bullet yaw as a function of rifling spin, one-hand operation when your other arm has been shot off. Ugh, but did I really think the thing was developed in order to explore the cosmos? To save the whales?
There is another no-less-spectacular candidate in the ‘M’ series: M-31. ‘M’ for the Messier’, ’31’ for the Andromeda Galaxy. So far we can only gaze at it through telescopes. Driving there at 60 mph would take about
250 trillion years, assuming I-999 being open to vehicular traffic someday. Plenty of time to clean your weapon. Still, the money humans have stupidly wasted killing each other since the dawn of civilization brings me to tears. We could have at least been strolling about on Mars in its spiffy new 21% oxygen atmosphere by now, not to mention Uranus. There are currently more galaxies than M-16s (16 million)  in the observable Universe. Sure, we will always need ‘stopping power’ for the brain-dead tru-believers who pollute our Garden of Eden. But somehow I have the feeling that M-31’s conscious life-forms are watching us and sighing in sadness. Humans! Happiness is a warm gun? Cosmic cockroaches we turned out to be.

Schroedinger’s Cattle get me every time!

     All I wanted was a nice peaceable kingdom  hanging behind the sofa. I was a bit uncertain about the precise visible-light frequencies I wanted to have dominate the spectral chart, but, as usual in Art, I thought I knew what I liked. ‘Cows eating Grass’ sounded as good as any other on the Bohr School of Art®’s web-site so I clicked it, add-to-cart-ed, and waited. Nice to know I was supporting hungry Danish artists. That thrill started to unravel after the third week, but just in time for a small party I received the package, carefully wrapped. I opened it up to find this:

Ok, I’m half blind but still, where are even 1/2 the cows? Or half the grass? I e-mailed the organization that evening:
Director of sales, Bohr School of Art, Copenhagen, Dennmarck:
I must bring to your attention that the copy of Item # 301, “Cows Eating Grass” which I just received is lacking either of the above-mentioned salient features. You maybe have a Theory why this could be?. Jsolberg
Well at least they answered:
Dear Sir: What you describe is possible, in theory at least. . Our students are very skilled at representing nature, and there is a small but non-zero probability that the cows ate the grass at some point during transit. I can assert that everything was intact at the T=0 of shipping. Our condolences. Wolfgang

Not one to just accept being schtupped by senseless fate, I immediately sent off this response:
My Dear Wolfie: Um.. and the cows? There were cows, right?/ JS
My adversary didn’t seem to grasp the gravity:
Dear JS: Yes of course, but it’s quite likely they ‘left the building’ after the grass was all gone. Makes sense, no?/ Wolf
Didn’t like the tone of that, so I took of one of the kid gloves:

Dear Wolfgang: I hope I shall not need to point out that I in good faith purchased a work of art represented as portraying cattle grazing. How do you think I feel with a barren field on my wall? Inspired? And as to the “comforting sounds of cattle lowing, mooing, whatever, um.. nada. Zip. Deathly quiet, and I listen for it every night./JS
 
Well, that got him mooing/moving:
Dear sir: I believe the descriptive copy read  ‘Enjoy the soothing murmur of contented animals when you least expect it.’  There’s your key. Try not to be overly demanding of their performance, and it will happen. Now as to the emptiness, we are generously enclosing small copy-and-paste images of grass and cows. Feel free to use as many as needed, and fill in the canvas to your desire. One more point, have you checked the reverse side of the picture? Once in a blue moon a cow will ‘tunnel’ through to the other side. All the best,
Wolfgang
Ok, that kinda ended the correspondence. A letter arrived six days later. The cows they sent looked
uncomfortable, as if they knew they were replacements. They stand crookedly, glaring at each other and at the
obviously photo-shopped disastro-turf, appearing poised to escape as soon as I turn off the lights. “Posture in a pasture is a feature for a herd with a future,” I heard them moo bitterly one night, when I least expected it, “and we haven’t any.” Well finally, Action at least. I’ll take it off the refund I’m suing for.


Wu: I’ll give it 1 1/2 hands clapping.
Me: You don’t get it?
Wu: Nope. How can it be like that?
Me: Don’t ask ‘how it can be like that.’ No one knows. It just is. A guy down the road from me got one where
the grass ate the cows.. and half of the frame before he burned the thing.(!)
Wu: So quantum art?
Me: Yup. I mean, ‘probably.