Tag Archives: funny

Something to Ponder – 13

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Carrie Kingston of Port Angeles, Washington.

“Dear Banaba,” Carrie writes. “It seems like everything is a mess. Our leaders blatantly lie to us and nothing happens. Our corporations gouge us and nothing happens. Our environment is being destroyed around us and nothing happens. Everyone seems to hate everyone else and nothing happens. People are shooting each other and nothing happens. It’s a real mess! Will it ever get better?”

To my new friend Carrie, I ask, “Better than what?”

But of course, that is me making a small joke while I consider the many facets of your query.

There is some truth to my joke. To divine whether things are likely to get better, we have to have some level of understanding or agreement as to what “better” means. What is better for you may not be better for me or better for someone else and so on. In fact, it rarely is, and these fluid definitions may prove to be so disjointed that striving for each one’s “better” may just make things worse. At least over the short term.

So one, to be “better” we need a common and agreed upon standard of what better looks like and as such, it must be something we work toward collectively.

The next part of your question seems to deal with the consequences for those who appear to be doing the work of making things worse. Most of us are raised to believe in the concept of the right of common sense. This means that while people have the right to self-actualize, there are common rules and pathways that must be followed to achieve that actualization. And common sense dictates that if one was to circumvent those rules and pathways in an egregious manner, they will be corrected, reprimanded or in some other way, aptly punished.

As an example, if one desires money, the pathways and rules that guide that desire make it clear that in a civilized society one will work for the money they get or inherit it. To get it in any other way, like stealing it, breaks the code of conduct for our society and demands correction. If that correction or punishment is not realized, at least to our satisfaction, we who feel as if we live our lives within the set code of conduct basically feel like, as one of our friends said previously, “what the hell?” Why should we play by the rules when others don’t and get away with it?

So two, to be “better” we need to re-establish or re-enforce and agree to adhere to the basic code of conduct that guides our society.

Finally, the status of, or the quality of, our existence often hinges on the status of our mental state as we encounter the things the go awry in our day to day lives. The world is big and full of problems. Disease, pollution, corruption, hatred, mistrust, hunger, war and more are all the things that we must deal with and most of those run counter to our standard rules, pathways and general code of conduct. When we feel as though these things are allowed to continue or are being flamed by dissidents or made worse in general by people who don’t subscribe to the general code of conduct, we feel overwhelmed and despondent.

We cannot turn a blind eye to these problems by opting for an artificially sunny disposition, but we can be mindful and purposeful about how we manage our responses to the breaches of social conduct and the travesties we bare witness to.

So three, to be “better”, we must be able to have a mindset that is rationally optimistic and that guides us to seek solutions so that we are not actively part of the greater pool of problems.

Another question to consider, is are we actually in a worse situation today than we have ever been? In other words, are things really worse? Can they get better?

Historically, humankind has generated and endured travesty after travesty. Things that, to talk about them seem counter to the intent of all human existence and yet we repeat these atrocities over and over again as if the new reasons for doing them were better than the old reasons which, for their time made them unacceptable. Are our modern atrocities worse than our historical ones?

We also live in a world where we are constantly bombarded by messages which give us the latest facts as they happen. Where facts are not yet realized, speculation and hyperbole fill the gaps. This is because we demand access to information. We have become used to getting information as we want it. However, information is not generated as we want to consume it and we are apparently, not picky about the quality of the information as long as it keeps coming.

Again, applying some common sense to what we are hearing will help us maintain a better perspective, as will seeking all the facts on the issues that affect us most and, believe it or not, stepping away from the media entirely for a while.

Of course, these are simple thoughts that work to address what we see as a gigantic and unruly situation. Being human is difficult, but I often think we make it more difficult than it needs to be. The secret to our success, to making things better – is in no way a secret all. We know what to do. We probably also know how to do it. It seems more likely that we just don’t.

There are people out there who are trying and those are the stories we need to share.

Will things get better? Can things get better? Better than they have been? Can we be more than we are? Can we reach the aspirations of our potential?

That answer lies within us as individuals and as a collective species. I believe things can be better if we want them to be and are willing to do the work. We make it happen when we finally decide it needs to happen and I hope we do that before we can’t.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

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Dumb Stuff with Tommy McGee – 5

Dumb-Stuff

Hi. Welcome to Dumb Stuff.

I’m Tommy and this is what I think about stuff that’s mostly dumb.

Today…white people.

Dammit, white people, what is your problem?

Hold on. Maybe I jumped the gate there a bit. Let me back up a step.

I’m an American. I’m a white guy. This was not my choice of course. It was just the universal flow of things ordained by whatever cosmic dust gathered the moment I was conceived and born into this world…and here in America.

Despite the current state of things, I’m generally proud to be an American and whatever comes with that. I’m also good with being a white guy. What’s my option? I can’t change the facts of my existence, nor do I disavow what or who I am. I suppose, if I felt awful enough about it, I could move or I could go about appropriating someone else’s culture, but that seems like a lot of work considering I will always be found out to be a white American male. Anything else is just…phony.

Let me say too, that I feel I work hard, that I have my struggles and challenges the same as anyone else and that I am a good person at my core. It has never been a goal of mine to hold power over, or oppress another for any reason, personal gain or otherwise. I feel we are all just trying to get through it the best we can.

However, the recent flare-ups of truly awful behavior from people whom I’m categorized with, causes me great distress and great embarrassment, forcing me to ask what’s up with the white people.

You’re calling the police on others who are doing nothing wrong at all beyond being different than you. You’re calling people out or physically attacking them for expressing something related to their personal heritage or whatever because what…they stepped on your delicate sensibilities?

There are real crimes being committed in this country that require the focused efforts of dedicated police forces everywhere. A family having a cookout, a kid cutting grass, an elderly man taking a walk, a women wearing a t-shirt that shows the name of some other country on it and the like are not crimes. These aren’t even things that should draw your attention. If they are, you should take a moment to determine what sort of jacked-up thinking is going on in your head to make you so mad and irrational.

And…as if that weren’t enough when you aren’t calling the police, you’re attacking these people (verbally and otherwise) yourselves… in public… because I don’t even know why. Some sort of superiority complex? Some sort of inferiority complex? Plain old numb-butt ignorance?

This is just dumb. I thought we were all better than this.

Now, of course, this does not apply to all white people, so don’t lose focus and spin-off on that. But as you lump, so you will be lumped and there are enough white people doing enough dumb things to make us all look bad and that should be generating a sense of grave concern among us.

You see, what I have learned over the years, is that while I may not recognize it or feel as though I propagated it, or have in some way seen a direct profit from it, I am likely the beneficiary of what people call the “white privilege”. We all are.

Get clear on this. The notion of white privilege, or anything that serves to put one person or group over another, is not a good thing. It doesn’t make you superior to anything or anyone. And should you decide to act as though it means something, the only thing that “white privilege” has done is make you an asshole.

If you judge someone else to be so different from you that you are compelled to call the police, or try to impose your will on them, or are going out of your way to tell them, whom you don’t even know, that they are bad, or don’t belong, or are destroying the fiber of whatever and should go back to their own country and whatnot, you are not being a good person. And you pretty much miss the point of whatever they taught you in Kindergarten and the very essence of what America is supposed to be about…entirely. And you should shut up. Because your ignorance is showing. Hell, it’s not just showing. It has crawled into the tiny driver’s seat of your consciousness and has taken over to make you do stupid things.

It makes the rest of us feel like we have to apologize for a drunk uncle who shows up to a wedding with no pants on, who then tries to make out with the bride and finishes with a face plant into the cake…every day.

There is no good reason for this behavior. We are supposed to be an evolving species that strives to be better. You are not helping. And if you can’t help, seriously, at least try to do no harm. Try to use any privilege you may have, perceived or otherwise, to lift someone up, not tear them down. Think before your act. Take some deep breaths. Count to ten or one hundred and ten or whatever it takes for you to chill out a bit. Everyone has a camera these days. We know who you are. We see you and you reveal the truth of your ugly self to everyone. Is that what you want? I hope not.

We all come from somewhere. Remember that.

If you can’t, it’s just gonna more of the same old same old. More dumb stuff.

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Dumb Stuff” entries, search for Dumb Stuff at the top of the page.

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Something to Ponder – 12

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Milo Krench of Garden City, Kansas.

“Hey Banaba,” Milo writes. “I don’t get a strong Christian vibe from you, so let me ask you, what would Jesus do?”

To my new friend Milo, I say simply, “I am not sure so I will ask him the next time I see him.”

But of course, that is me making a small joke for you.

Milo, you present an interesting question that requires a bit of interpretation on my part to get to what I think you might be looking for…or not.

It is possible that by referencing a “Christian vibe” you are looking for me to make some sort of declarative statement regarding the level of my association with Christianity.

Should I make such a statement, it is reasonable for me to guess that based on how you process my statement, you may make a determination, for yourself, about the value of my response, or the worthiness of my counsel here, depending on how much our philosophical paths align.

Another possibility is that you assume I have no real link to Christianity, so I would not be able to aptly consider how your interpretation of Jesus may react in any one of a number of dicey scenarios.

I can tell you that my life path has taught me that there is little value in making assumptions about others based on what we see, what we think we see, and how we interpret what we see when stacked against our individual belief systems.

Humans seek out commonalities. It is a survival instinct. There is safety in numbers. We look for like-minded people to enhance our tribe so that, at the very least, our common belief systems bind us together and make us stronger than we might be on our own. We have very little patience for those who don’t believe as we do or act as we think they should, even to the point where we feel they don’t belong in our tribe – philosophically of course.

In our case, between you and I, I move forward thinking that your question was an honest attempt to generate an interesting dialogue and not so much a “gotcha” question that seeks to identify me or what I do with some sort of religious or non-religious label and then to exalt or disparage me accordingly.

So, what would Jesus do?

Truthfully, I do not believe it matters.

The question itself became popular in the 1990s and flourished through the use of W.W.J.D. bracelets and associated merchandise as a way to remind people to check their morality and walk in the path of Jesus who is often defined in religion as the son of a particular God.

It is a physical reminder for the people who embrace the mindset that they can be their better self when working through the challenges of their daily lives. To some it is inspiring, to others, it is a crutch.

The fact of the matter is, one cannot really know Jesus or what he would actually do in any situation.

One can know of him. One can study the materials that explore the man he was supposed to be as he existed in his time. One can know the dogma that surrounds the essence of his teachings. One can assume to know and one can believe to know, in earnest, but that is really just a manifestation of one’s individual belief systems, biases, and their understanding of that source material. A lot of interpretation, edits, rewrites, reductions and such fed the evolution and development of the materials we access for religious clarity and guidance. That does not mean the interpretations are wrong, but it is certainly a factor to consider in how the material is absorbed and each interpretation alters the story.

People tend to function in the day-to-day based on the whole of their experiences. Negative experiences shift them one way. Positive experiences shift them another. Some days are more difficult than others and if a simple prompt such as asking what would Jesus do helps them be more successful in their journey, I am all for it.

Still, it seems there are people who are more interested in the brand than the morality itself. Are you a Christian? What kind? What denomination? What branch? If you’re not a Christian, what are you? Do you know God? Do you walk in the path of God? Are you moral? Are you penitent? Do you care for yourself and your fellow-man? The questions are limitless. And we ask them to find out who we should associate with and who we should avoid. Who will nurture us? Who will tempt us or lead us astray? Who do we invite into our tribe and who do we repel?

This is not to offend, but the teachings of Jesus are just not that complex. Be good. Be kind. Don’t do bad things. If you do bad things, make amends, learn from your experiences and go on. Try to be a good person.

I wonder how it is that with centuries of such devotion, such energy, and such emotion behind us that we still have yet to master these very simple lessons. People who say they walk in the path of Jesus are often least representative of what he taught or the example others hold him up to be.

To answer your question Milo, I do not know what Jesus would do.

If I could guess, if he were to show up today, I imagine that he would be less than pleased by what he would find here. With all of our technological advancements, we seem to have evolved very little. I imagine he would spend less time in super churches and giant cathedrals talking to televangelist and more time in hospitals, homeless shelters, and recovery centers talking to the downtrodden. I imagine he would be less about theory and more about action. I suppose he would have much to say about people who speak in his name, but who don’t live by the same values they espouse to others.

I wonder if anyone would recognize him at all, or appreciate the work he may do and the way he may do it.

I imagine he would like to see fewer and fewer people waste the energy on what it is to be him, or like him so that they might focus their energy on finding a special goodness within themselves and allowing that to flourish.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

Copyright © 2018 – The JEFFWORKS

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Emory Crisp’s Tales From an Expanded Universe – 2

Emory-Crisp-Title

EC – Personal Log – 0120053118 – The Flaxtor Carrier Pigeons of Death – Part 2

For the record, some history.

Flaxtor was a nice quiet planet on the far edge of the Katakan Nebula. Even after hole-jumps started to boom, Flaxtor was not on the list of places to go. It was a simple, basic planet that filled a hole in space.

That is until Textr Crimm happened to make a jump into Simmaer, he says on purpose, but others say not so much. There he “discovered” a population of peaceful, trusting inhabitants who were also – a pushover. They were adept at making miniature electronics, mostly for the creation of music, art and furthering ideas through advanced artistic expression – almost like what they might call “high functioning hippies” on Earth back in the day.

Crimm also “discovered” the Flaxtorian invention we now call “Pops”,  a super-advanced nano-technology that induces mental euphoria with hallucinogenic properties that not only make the artificial seem more real than real, but it also taps into and feeds the pleasure centers of the brain heightening imagination for what is described simply as the highest of highs.

Crimm went to work exploiting his new finds immediately and in short order, Flaxtor devolved from a quiet oasis into one of the six most accessible, and officially Union ordained, public pleasure planets within several universes. Or, as one might better refer to as one of six supremely universal shit holes.

I’m not sure what it is about artificially altered mind-states, or the ability to induce artificially altered mind-states that makes people crazy. Maybe the question is its own answer. Either way, once somebody knows there is a new way to escape from what they carry around in their heads all day, they get hell-bent on trying it. Once they try it, most can’t forget it and have to get it again. Once there is a stable demand, there’s always someone like Crimm working to control the supply – or at least monetizing it. And as history shows, that generally leads to all kinds of unsavory behavior.

That brings me to the Shags. There wasn’t much of a law enforcement function on Flaxtor because, for the most part, it wasn’t needed. Flaxtorians lived in some near Utopian, peaceful mindset where everything was all good all of the time. Even now, the Shags aren’t really for the Flaxtorians as they are to better control the off-world elements. That’s where all the big trouble comes from.

And for beings that lived in harmony most of their lives, those drafted into the Shag corps seemed to take right to the military-grade training they got from humanity, and other more militant civilizations, making them a force to reckon with – at least when one was outnumbered.

As I struggled to get my eyes adjusted to the beaming light, without making any sudden moves, I counted five Shags total. Five was a lot. That was about four more than you’d see on a routine investigation of any kind and about five more than you’d see anywhere during sleep hours. Certainly, more than you’d see in a fairly non-descript alley where no crime was taking place. At least as far as I knew. So, what’s the give?

The incredible light, made brighter by the dimness of the alley came courtesy of cell drones. One of the Shags pulled radial blasters, one in each hand, and trained one on me and one on Strom. Two shags stepped into the light with the shade shields down on their helmets and grabbed Strom while two stepped out of the darkness behind me, seizing my arms and pushing us closer together.

Having a radial blaster pointed at you is deterrent enough to avoid any sort of resistance. Best case scenario, if and when it works like it’s supposed to, it stuns the assailant to the point of temporary paralysis. As you recover and the feeling moves back into your body, you get one hell of a headache as a reminder not get yourself into situations where you might get blasted again. That’s a fresh weapon mind you, straight out of the box.

Most of the time, however, someone gets to tinkering with them. Quite often the safety sticks on them so that’s the first thing to get hacked away. Then there’s the aiming beacon, the power regulation, blast recovery cycle time… the long and the short of it is you never really know what you’re gonna get when one of those things goes off. Depending on the settings, if those are still operational at all, and depending on who’s using it, at it’s worst, I’ve seen it basically gut a man in seconds from the inside out, leaving little more than a smoking husk to sweep up after the party’s over.

“YOU GIVE ANSWERS!” the voice repeated.

“Of course, of course,” Strom warbled. “We are more than happy to help!”

“STATE THE NATURE OF THIS BUSINESS!”

Now, I don’t know a whole lot about Flaxtorian anatomy, but I think Strom was sweating.
And my intent was straight enough, I’m just here to pick up the thing and tap out of here. But before I could open my mouth, Strom changed the whole dynamic.

“There is no business here, sirs,” forcing his mouth to smile as he spoke. “I came out for some air after a long day, and this man is passerby.”

“YOU HAD BUSINESS. STATE NATURE OF BUSINESS.”

“Business? There was no busi…,” Strom’s voice stopped quick as a muffled, scratchy recording of his own words filled the air.

“BE CAREFUL DIS, YES? HOT. HOT. HOT.”

Then it was official, small streams of sweat limped across Strom’s course features.

“Oh that,” he said in a more high-pitched warble. “That was nothing. Just me commenting to a passerby on how it is such a warm evening.”

“Look,” I said as plainly as possible. “Nobody did anything here. I’m just here to…”

“He was lost!” Strom blurted out. “I was gived him directions.”

“PROVIDED INFORMATION IS FALSIFIED.”

“No,” Strom said, “This is all the true. This man was lost, looking for his tap-out. I was gived him directions and he was on to go.”

“PROVIDED INFORMATION IS FALSIFIED. TAP IS CANCELLED. AWAIT TRANSPORT OT CENTRAL.”

My mind flew. Central?! We need to go to Central for this? I ran through all the things I could recall about this job from the moment Bodie Marcum contacted me at the start.

Blah, blah, blah, Flaxtor, blah, blah, blah, get turbo-drive, blah, blah, blah, in and out quick and easy, blah, blah, blah, fast money.

Nope. I wasn’t missing anything. Bodie’s not much of a talker, but he was always one to give me a head’s up if he thought things would go sideways on a job. There were no clues about Shags getting involved and certainly no information about ending up in Central. I’m a good boy. At least, I’ve been a good boy on this trip. Straight business.

Where Flaxtor was seen as a pleasure planet, Central, the primary criminal holding, and processing center was anything but. Outside of the Shags who did the footwork, the real peacekeeping effort was all outsourced to Cankton-Ho. This giant off-world conglomerate provided criminal handling and prison resources to multiple systems. They prided themselves on incredible success with rehabilitating the damaged members of many societies. That was the print anyhow. The fact is Central, formally known as the Cankton-Ho Criminal Restoration Corporation, was as reliable at prisoner reform as a hacked radial blaster. You knew what the intent was, but the end result was anybody’s guess. Many people who ended up in Central, even for small and seemingly trivial infractions, were often never heard from again.

I never signed up for a trip to Central and since I accomplished my objective and had the drive tucked neatly away in my pocket, it was clear to me that my business here was done. True, it sounded like the Shags had eliminated my current tap-out, but that was a temporary problem The bigger problem was staying upright, whole and free long enough to find a new tap-out and get the hell out of here.

The mention of Central caused Strom’s breathing to hitch and wherever the heart of that creature resided within that bulbous mass, I was certain it just hit-skipped up a few notches to where – for whatever reason – full panic was about to take over. The broad, artificial smile he worked so hard on faded to nothing as his eye grew wide. He started to shake.

“AAAAAAAYYYYYEEEEEEEEE!”

Damned if I ever heard such a thing in my whole life before or since, and I’ve heard and seen some shit, but the noise that tore out of Strom in that moment, that ear-piercing, head-splitting scream, threw us all out of whack.

Strom’s body pulsed and recoiled. His hands shot to his ears, and while I don’t think he had any intention of resisting or escape, an eye in the moment could see it as such and it did. The Shag with the blasters turned both on Strom and fired.

“AAAAAAAYYYYYEEEEEEEEE!”

The intensity of the scream began anew as Strom’s body jerked in response to the blast. He was on fire. The two Shags holding him must have been newer for they forgot that much like electricity, the pulse of a radial blaster runs through whatever, or whomever the target is in contact with. They forgot to let go in time and in seconds, their screams joined him.

The Shag who fired quickly held the guns up before him as if what happened was so disconnected from what expected that he needed to see if the guns were in fact what he thought they were. In any other instance, the gaze would have been comical.

In the same instance, the tight grips on my arms loosened and the Shags holding me dropped my arms to shield their faces from the spectacle before them, even though they came in with face shields down.

Chance is a fickle mistress. For as ugly as things got as fast as we got there, I learned enough in my travels to know that when a chance comes along – you take it. I stood there watching, trying to process everything that was going on until that moment when a single word flashed across my mind.

Run!

turned *Editor’s note:
To read other fantastic tales, search for Emory Crisp at the top of the page.

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Dumb Stuff with Tommy McGee – 4

Dumb-Stuff

Hi. Welcome to Dumb Stuff.

I’m Tommy and this is what I think about stuff that’s mostly dumb.

Today…all the rage over comedy.

Go ahead. Pour yourself a fresh one, grab a bowl of pretzels and get settled in. This nut takes a hot minute to crack, but I’ll try to get at it as simply as possible.

Lately, there seems to a lot of uproar over the things we hear from comedians and their related comedy.

Over the course of human history, leagues of comedians have been labeled offensive. Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Sam Kinison, Sarah Silverman, Joan Rivers, Ricky Gervais and more have all been labeled offensive or worse at one time or another. As some would have you believe, they are dangerous to all that is good and holy in our delicate society. While that is some serious bullshit, the ultimate point is that offensive comedy is nothing new. Technically speaking, neither is our love/hate relationship with offensive material. While a lot of it seems like bravado, we seem very easy to offend. But, come on…really? I can think of about a hundred things that upset me way more than the comedy stylings of the offensive.

Now, I want to be extra careful about saying what is offensive, because ultimately, the definition of offensive is subjective.

I don’t know a good definition of comedy off the top of my head. I can’t tell you, from a textbook point of view, what the value of comedy is to our society, but I’m pretty sure we need it.

Comedy is a reflection of who we are in our moment in time, presented to us in often disruptive, outrageous, inflated and absurd ways. It needs to cut through our common sense defenses to get to our more primal selves in order to elicit a response. The desired primary response is laughter and levity. The secondary desired response is some level of awareness, a chance to reflect on who we are or what the message is and why certain things are funny to us.

While we may think the times we live in are the very darkest and most troubling, so did our fathers and our father’s fathers and so on. Everyone lives through the worst of times depending on how they see it. Through all that struggle, there is a human need and desire to laugh, if for no other reason than to forget for a moment about how freakin’ miserable things are and the need to just blow some steam.

As times change, our sensitivities change. What we laughed at years ago, may be unacceptable material today and that is OK. There is plenty out there to make fun of. It’s a live and learn thing. The challenge we face now is that virtually everyone in the world has access to everyone else in the world and we all have the ability to label something we experience as “offensive” – based on our own biases – and can propagate that belief, incite rage and all kinds of things – globally – in an instant.

So what’s offensive? I laugh at a lot of stuff because funny is funny and I’m not that easily offended by comedy because I believe I understand the intent.

My friend Jeggs says everything – e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g – is funny, all the time…until it isn’t. I think I understand that, but it’s probably more complex than I imagine.

What we sometimes get caught up on, is the difference between the comedic message and the messenger. That, and this herd-level, bandwagon mentality where we demand instant “justice” for things that upset us without really doing the work to define intent.

Like I said, comedy is supposed to make us see how ridiculous we can be. Our common understanding of how silly we are as a species is what makes comedy work. So the message of comedy – the content – is the social commentary, the mirror we hold before ourselves so that we may better understand our shortcomings and learn not to take ourselves so seriously as we try to work through them.

Comedians, and their associated vehicles, like TV sitcoms or a live performances, are the delivery systems for that social commentary.

Let me be clear that I’m not advocating or approving hateful, inflammatory material that has the intent of shredding the moral fiber of our existence, intentionally causing pain or intentionally causing damage. That is not comedy. And there are plenty of tone-deaf jokes which can be found offensive, or at the least insensitive, and miss the mark on delivery. But while the intent may be to shock, it is rarely to do harm. Comedians feed off laughter. There’s no value in your ire.

Like an actor, or a singer or whatever, there should be a clear delineation between what a person does as a person and what that person does in a profession. I mean, we don’t consider an actor to be a Nazi, or hold them accountable for Nazi beliefs or hate crimes, just because he is cast somewhere in the role of Hitler. It is a representation of information with the intent of getting some kind of awareness into the social consciousness.

We need that. We need different ways to learn about what we do as we trip through our daily lives. We need to know when we are doing something stupid, dangerous, insensitive and needs to be changed and we need to be able to celebrate when we discover we might be doing something right. That is the beauty of art in all its forms, whether it pokes at your delicate sensibilities or not.

Now, if that actor who played Hitler goes home after work and in his own time and space, and in the skin of being regular old John B. Actor, hits the couch to start spewing his personal beliefs which are racist, hateful, divisive, threatening, harmful and more on social media or wherever, there is a problem.

That person can’t hide under the loose protections that comes with being a social commentator because instead of making a point through content, it is a reflection of that being’s personal belief system which they need to be responsible for. They still have the right to say whatever stupid, vile garbage they want. That is the right we get for living here. But they can’t expect that others will not want to respond in some way or that there could not be repercussions, like being called out on it or being fired from the company or group that they may represent or be associated with.

It is definitely a very fine line and the shades of gray that shift between dark and light can turn on an instant depending on who seems to be defining what is offensive in that moment. Generally, if you give it a moment, it will change.

Correction is good. We make course corrections in our lives every day, probably subconsciously, to make sure we continue going in what we perceive to be the right direction. But waging an all out assault on the notion that making fun or providing social insights through comedy with a coating of laughter to soothe the delivery are dangerous waters to tread.

Ultimately, comedy is like music. Some of it is offensive. To you. Or me. I have my preferences and you have yours. Who is to say which is correct? If you don’t like it, turn it off. Don’t listen to it. But you can’t make that judgement for everyone. Nor should you.

These are delicate times for everybody. Personally, I want to laugh as much as possible because it gives me hope that we aren’t as far gone as I fear. The moment we start taking ourselves too seriously, we are truly doomed. I hope we figure that out.

Till then, it’s just gonna more of the same old, same old – more dumb stuff.

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Dumb Stuff” entries, search for Dumb Stuff at the top of the page.

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On any given day… 1

Any-given-day

“She could be a professional smiler, ” Barton thought. “If there was such a thing.”

He stood at his register mindlessly passing the goods from Mrs. Fromeyer’s cart, one at a time, across the scanner. He waved each item back and forth over the single, red-flashing laser eyeball of the machine that logged the purchases until it noted success with a short, innocuous beep.

April, who stood at lane number 7, just two registers away, did the same work, but with more…

Words flashed across his mind as he sought out just the right one. Style? Flair? Zest?

Panache.

Yes, panache was it to a T. It felt like an old word. Like something his grandmother might say, but it fit April and what she was doing in this moment perfectly. While he scanned by rote, April talked to people. She was genuine. She cared. She gave little tidbits of information about the products the people were buying and asked them about their day.

Even though she had a scrunchy at the ready on her wrist, she kept her hair down most of the time. It constantly fell across her face, which required that she constantly pull it back and tuck it behind her ear. An exercise in futility for the hair, but for him each pull back revealed that amazing smile. It hit him like a kid watching a magician pulling his cape back to reveal the end of an amazing illusion.

Barton looked around the store. Most people don’t smile. Mrs. Fromeyer wasn’t smiling. He wasn’t smiling. They were all capable of smiling, sure, but everyone seemed to dole them out as if they were a precious and limited resource best used exclusively for special occasions.

Not April though. If smiling was a precious and limited commodity that should be tightly managed, nobody told her. She had smiles for everyone. She had smiles for no one. She looked as though she could have been born with a smile on her face. She could have been the hardest birth known to humanity and Barton could only imagine the new infant April lying in a small hospital crib and struggling to “make it” – all while smiling.

It was a sweet smile, natural and full. It fit her face perfectly. It never faded. If it ever went away, and he was pressed to think of a time when that happened, you could rest assured that a new fresh smile was coming up to take its place any second.

When some people smile, it looks forced, fake, off-putting in some cases and foreign in others, as if gracing the face it sat on was a mistake. It’s not that these people are unhappy, but more that they are not properly gifted with adequate smile features.

April’s face was made for smiling. Whatever bone structure and musculature nature set up for her provided the optimum conditions for maximum smile efficiency. She had more than a mouth smile. Her whole head was symmetrical and balanced. The trigger of the smile caused her eyes to widen just so to add that extra gleam to them and a subtle, soft blush would grace her cheeks with just the right amount of color. It was art. She was smile incarnate.

He could imagine her face on magazines, billboards, giant animated screens and on TV, not hawking cars and overpriced, sludge-creating, high-speed juicing machines, no. That did not suit her. Instead, she would represent ideals, assurances and lofty aspirations, inspiring  those seeking help or who search for a pathway to a better existence to take those steps needed to be who they want to be in this life. Quit smoking. Read books. Meditate. Recycle. Save puppies. Feed the homeless. Use energy efficient LED light bulbs. Retire at Shady Oaks. Consider Tyler Funeral Home the best option for your loved ones as they head to the great unknown. And more.

He knew he was staring. He tried not to, but still he found himself looking without looking, gauging her movements to make sure that if she were to look up, he could effectively shift his gaze off to some other direction without getting caught with his eyes on her like some distant, creepy, stalker.

He was not proud, but it could not be helped. In his 19 and three-quarter years of life, he had never encountered such a force. It knocked him off balance. Yet, in 19 and three-quarters years of life, he still he knew well the notions of fate and impermanence. His best friend “for life” David Berkingham moved away that fateful day in June the year they both turned eight and look how that turned out. It was like David never existed. Nothing lasts forever. So if the universe saw fit to align his path with that of April Timmons and the smile that could generate universal peace and harmony, who was he to argue?

*Editor’s note:
To read other story entries, just search for On any given day at the top of the page.

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Dumb Stuff with Tommy McGee – 3

Dumb-Stuff

Hi. Welcome to Dumb Stuff.

I’m Tommy, and this is what I think about stuff that’s mostly dumb.

Today…political zealots.

Let’s get at it.

My friend Louis says there are basically two things that guide him along his path and they have never let him down. They are common sense and beer.

If something doesn’t make sense to him, he works on it until it does. If it’s something doesn’t make sense and it’s beyond his control, he finds the best way in his mind to cope with it. It’s sort of a zen-like “let it go” philosophy because basically, it doesn’t make sense to him to waste energy grinding on it, especially if he can’t do anything about it.

He sees common sense as anything that can be figured out in a hot minute and that under the same circumstances, and with the same set of considerations, anyone else (in their right mind, as he puts it) would come to the same logical conclusion.

If you take a bite off a slice of pizza that just came out of the oven you are bound to torch the roof of your mouth. Anyone knows that. It’s common sense. If you know that and you do it anyway, Louis would say you are probably not right in your mind, because again, it’s common sense.

What stumps Louis these days, and me, and several of the others I speak to or hear from regularly is what seems to be a large step away from common sense. It’s evident in a  lot of things but most clearly illustrated by the latest wave of political vitriol generated from hardcore, short-sighted, mean-spirited, uninformed, under-informed, pig-headed, irrational, party loyalists who spew venom and ignorance as if it were their right, ordained to do so by God.

Now, we crawled around on that for a bit, because we all believe people have the right, at least as outlined by the constitution, to speak their piece, no matter how ignorant others may deem them to be. Intelligence, perceived or otherwise, is apparently not a condition for gaining the right to speak freely.

However, Louis will tell you that an ignorant man’s desire to speak his truth is like having the desire to dress a rhino in a tuxedo. While you may have the right and the notion to do it, it makes no sense and no good comes from it – for him, for the tuxedo or for the rhino. Louis is a Class A bar stool philosopher for sure.

Of course, all this comes at the risk of judging others. Which we know we should try to avoid. Then again, somebody has to say something.

I don’t really care much about what people have to say. As crazy as it gets, most of the time if you let them say it, they get it out of their system and go away. I don’t have to agree with them and if they say things that are offensive to me or to my people, I have the choice to go away myself, or handle it in a way that diffuses my frustrations.

What I care about is when actions overpower conversations. My granddad will tell you that a bad conversation is better than no conversation at all, because at least you are talking. And if you’re talking, and listening, there is a pretty good chance that the conversation will turn into something positive. Eventually.

What we are seeing in our politics today is actions overpowering conversations. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of words being said, but few actual conversations are taking place. The intent of the words are less about achieving anything and more about spewing anger, ignorance, self-righteous ideology and negativity. That all spoils the ground for fertile conversation.

Everyone is dug in and polarized. These hard-charging nubs seem so embedded and invested in their political rhetoric, and I mean dug in deep, that the opportunity for consideration, cooperation and rational, productive discussion is being extinguished like a lit match trapped under an inverted bar glass.

There is a clear “us versus them” mentality coming from both sides. Louis calls them Demi-don’ts and Republi-can’ts because they each blame the other for all the bad going on, promise the stars and moon in the spirit of change and accomplish absolutely zero. It makes no sense and it’s just dumb.

I liken this widespread, communally ignorant behavior to that of the Zax in the story by Dr. Seuss. Look it up. Two creatures intent on going to their destinations and getting their way in doing it without giving a single thought about the other. They end up blocking each other’s path. They are stubborn, unwilling to learn or change or even make a small adjustment to their mindset or process because of the entitlement they feel to self-actualize. It’s just blind, dumb ignorance for the purpose of principle.

And this is where the problem is. We can’t seem to suss it out. Common sense dictates this is an unhealthy and ultimately, self-destructive behavior. It’s behavior we would admonish our children for and yet these folks see no problems with it, or are at the very least, aggressively comfortable with settling into their ignorance and sharing it broadly.

Common sense dictates that someone along the line is gonna have to blink. They will have to set pride aside and suggest there may be a better way to achieve resolution beyond demanding everything go a certain way – because that’s the way they want it –  and undermining everything that may crimp the pure crazy.

America was built on compromise and cooperation. There are good people here who work hard to get through the day to day they best they can and would rather not have to deal with the philosophical zealotry that ultimately makes their jobs harder and provides fewer rewards. It’s frustrating and it’s soul-crushing to know that there are people out there, people with power and influence that would rather serve an ideology than to put the energy into honestly working for the common good. If everyone could see that and maybe try blinking, just a little bit, and take a little step back toward common sense, we might be able to see the bigger picture and paint it properly.

Till then, it’s just gonna more of the same old same old. More dumb stuff.

*Editor’s note:
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Something to Ponder – 11

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Donnie Mershon of Beaufort, South Carolina.

“Dear Banaba,” Donnie writes. “I don’t think people like me. In fact, I think some people may hate me.”

To my new friend Donnie, I say simply, “After the overwhelming mountain of questions, I’m not sure I like you either!”

But that is me having a delicate joke at your expense. Apologies. Clearly, you asked no question at all, but I think I know what you may be looking for just the same.

Consider first that the human species is a complex and emotional animal. The simple determining factors of like and dislike are the root logic we use for virtually every decision we make.

Now consider that every person on the planet is wired with a unique mindset, a unique moral code, a unique capacity for understanding, learning, forgiveness, anger, mistrust and so on. And while clusters of us may have thoughts and feelings that are similar to other’s, what we bring to that commonality is less about how much we may be the same and more about what we need in our lives and what we are willing to do to get it so that we may better self-actualize. In other words, it is a reflection of how willing we are to reach out, tolerate, empathize, understand, forgive, give and more, according to what we need, to make our relationships work.

Clearly, not all of us are destined to get along, but not feeling liked, or feeling hated is a different dynamic than not getting along. Basically, humans have two emotional pathways that help guide our decisions and ultimately, our lives.

Our passive emotional pathway allows us to make effective like/dislike decisions with great efficiency and with little residual refection or consideration. Some refer to these as “no-brainers”. I dislike the cold, so I wear a coat. I like ice cream so I will eat it. I dislike dark alleyways because I feel they may be unsafe so I will avoid them. It is quite efficient until something disrupts our pathway and presents us with new factors to consider.

That is when our active emotional pathway kicks in. This allows us to further consider the circumstances we find ourselves in so that we might try and respond effectively, in our time and space at that moment, to resolve the conflict. It is an aggressive and reactive pathway which often creates new actions and counteractions that we must respond to that often fall well beyond the initial issue and often with assumed facts or notions of what we may believe to be true. I dislike the cold, so I wear a coat. But, my coat is not warm enough, so I need to buy a warmer coat. Even more so, I’m sick the cold and I should move to a warmer place. San Diego is warmer I bet. I should just move to San Diego. I’ll be happier there. And so on.

Despite our individuality and each person’s unique perspective. I like to think that we are all generally predisposed to liking something, in this case, people, over disliking it – or them. At a minimum, we should be able to ignore others without the least bit of disruption to our lives. We do this every day. If you do not know anyone in Billings, Montana, you are not likely to care much about them, even though they exist. I feel it is doubtful that you would hate them.

But, to not like, or to hate is an active, aggressive and emotional decision we make based on some level of bias that falls outside our level of tolerance or willingness to make the needed adjustments to turn the dislike into something more positive.

It takes energy, and there is a cost to our emotional currency to hate. And while it is frequently abused or at a minimum, misplaced, it is still a useful and sometimes necessary emotion because it defines for us the farthest boundary of our willingness to bend. I like ice cream, but I hate pistachio ice cream, therefore I will eat many, many ice cream flavors before I even consider eating pistachio.

Finally, know that hate comes with the weight of what it is. When someone hates, they carry the burden of that emotion with them. Even if they feel they deserve to hate. Perhaps they feel they have been wronged in some way or something dear has been taken from them. They feed it regularly. Small things can churn into rage which only serves to reinforce the hate. They cannot move beyond it, or resolve it so it festers as hate is prone to do.

So, what comes from this all analysis you ask? Well, people may dislike you. They may even hate you. It is also entirely possible that people don’t hate you but, they experience a level of frustration while interacting with you that they find upsetting enough for them to react the way they do to you, which you may define as hate. We are bad communicators to begin with. We are worse when feelings like hate are involved.

Your job is to understand what role you play in this particular circumstance. Ask the hard questions, but be willing to answer honestly. Are you kind? Are you rude? Are you understanding? Are you hateful yourself? Do you strive to hurt others? And so on.

Nobody is perfect. We all deserve the benefit of the doubt from others if we can honestly say that our general objective is to be the best people we can be. I’m certain the people whom you say may hate you, would want the same considerations should the tables be turned.

Lastly, you must understand that whatever hate another carries, even if directed at you, is not your responsibility to resolve. If you have taken responsibility for your own actions to the extent of your awareness, then you have done your part. The hate of another is something he or she will have to resolve on their own. It may be that they will find no way to resolve it besides extinguishing any association they have with you. That may not be ideal, but it may also be the reality. It is sad. You will likely wonder what you could have done that was so offensive to them that they chose to cut you away like that, but that is their choice. And if they hate you for no reason at all beyond the mere fact that you exist then they have many larger problems and you are better off for the distance.

Either way, in a way, such a choice is freeing in that it allows you to focus more on the things in your life that deserve your positive energy and proper attention. Should the day come that a resolution is possible, you must decide if you are open to re-establishing that relationship. If so, you must also be willing, and able, to set the past aside and move forward fresh and new.

By the way, I like you just fine.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
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Something to Ponder – 10

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Jacques Monphree of Ely, Minnesota.

“Dear Banaba,” Jacques writes. “Why is everyone always telling me how to live my life? Am I wrong just because I don’t do what they would do, when they would do it, or how they would do it?”

To my new friend Jacques, I say simply, “You figure it out!”

But of course, that is me making very light of your question, of which I mean no harm or disrespect.

Your question is asked easily enough, but the answer can be very complex. I’m going to guess first that your saying “everyone” is an exaggeration. Of course, not everyone would be telling you how to live. You don’t know everyone and most everyone could probably care less about how you live as long as you are not hurting yourself or others…or annoying them…at a minimum.

From there I can guess that the people who feel more free about commenting on the path of your existence are those whom you have a fairly common association with, primarily friends and family and perhaps to a lesser extent, friends of friends, as they say on the Internet.

With the commentators identified, we can begin to explore the motivations behind why they do what they do. I imagine there are about three overall personalities that motivate another to make a conscious decision to address the state of your existence. There are likely others, I’m sure, but we can probably roll most things up into these three.

  1. As Teacher
    As a person travels along their path, they build a collection of life experiences which can ultimately lead to a place of wisdom, knowledge and enlightenment…if they do it right. Many of us seek out these people out to try and reap the benefit of their experiences so that our own path becomes easier. They are perceived as having wisdom and are usually open to sharing. However, the good teacher is not going to tell you what you should do or how you are doing things wrong.Because they are aware that life experience and knowledge is unique to the individual and the life they lead, the good teacher provides you with the knowledge and guidance you need to learn your life lessons for yourself, as they apply to your own existence, or you would learn nothing. It would be silly for them to tell you what they did in their lives with the belief that such information will resolve issues for you.
  2. As Protector
    An extension of one who acts like a teacher is one who plays the role of protector. These people may also be reacting to your situation based on the biases and understanding of their own life experience, though less to the point of having you learn and more to the point of directly pointing out the pitfalls they experienced – or are aware of – so that you might avoid them.Because they care for you, or believe they care for you, they are willing to share with you the cautions you should heed to live a safe, healthy and productive life. Yes, some of these are obvious. If the weather is treacherous and it is clear that you should wear the right clothes outside and you must travel with extra caution, you can expect a reminder from a protector who feels they have your best interests at heart.
  3. As Meddler
    The act of being a teacher or protector in someone else’s life is a lofty and positive thing. It can create a sense of pride and accomplishment to know one can help another and generally, you want those people in your life.However, despite best intentions, some people lack the necessary qualities to fill the shoes of the more lofty roles and instead, play the part of the meddler. They will say their intent is to teach or protect, and they may often believe that to be fact. But, the way they comment, the things they say and how they say them reflect a different reality. There is a universal theory that people of today seem to have forgotten and that is, some things are better left unsaid. The meddler says them anyway. The meddler response is less about you or helping you and more about the motivations of the meddler him or herself. It could be that your actions upset them, or the things you do and say are dramatically disconnected from what they feel to be correct and true. They could try to understand, but instead, they are compelled to comment to bring things back into alignment for them.

Remember though, traits are traits, not people. You may find a good teacher or a solid protector in your life just as easily as you could find someone who is all teacher, protector and meddler wrapped in one.

When the people in our lives feel compelled to comment on what we do, we hope that they would do so from a place of understanding, empathy, grace, discretion and support. We hope that they might ask questions about what we are doing and how we are feeling over making a quick emotional, judgement about what they see and boldly preparing a response to initiate action. To nurture rather than needle. To respond in such a way is endlessly shortsighted, counterproductive and prone to creating valleys over building bridges.

And when you receive this “help”, how you respond, if you respond, should be just as conscious a decision. When someone reaches out to you for whatever reason, you can react quickly and emotionally based on what you see and feel in the moment, you could easily toss it aside, or you could consider the spirit in which you believe the help was delivered.

If you are an adult, you are in charge of your own world. Many people will have comments about the things you do, but comments are not directives or laws, they are merely something to consider. Once considered, you make your choices and boldly step forward knowing that for you, in your pool of circumstances, you are doing the right things and living the life you want to live. If you feel bad about that, then you are worrying less about what’s right for you and more about how those who comment will further react to your decisions.

The long and the short of that is, it is none of their business.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

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Emory Crisp’s Tales From an Expanded Universe

Emory-Crisp-Title

EC – Personal Log – 0120053118 – The Flaxtor Carrier Pigeons of Death – Part 1

Medi-tech once again performed a miracle of modern science by getting my thumb back where it belongs with one hundred percent of the nerves connected, restoring full feeling and range of motion.

Good thing too. I’ve had a lot of good times with this thumb and I’d hate for that to end just because I didn’t pull it back fast enough in the clutch. And, being the fourth time I’ve nearly lost that thumb…completely, it’s fair to believe that it might reject me strictly on the basis of neglect. Nobody wants their thumb turning on them. I don’t.

And as I sit here, pumping my reborn digit up and down like I’m cracking the detonator of an X-13 Plastisplode Peacekeeper, I have nobody to thank for the return of my thumb – and the Nexit Commodore turbo-drive I was sent to retrieve – than Turp, supreme Flaxtor Carrier Death Pigeon.

Breaking it down, calling this creature a pigeon is just wrong. It’s an obvious joke of whoever had the job to name things that we humans started to encounter once hole-jumping became a thing. A standard CDP looked more like a large bat with leathery skin, stubby, metallic looking feathers, and near reptilian facial features instead of your standard issue pigeon beak…or bat face. They’re substantially larger than even the largest pigeon could dream of being and they are fast, tactical fliers, nimble and agile, with the ability to get in and out of the tightest of places with ease and turn on a dime with great finesse.

The carrier part was spot on. Their large feet and strong talons, combined with a healthy extended, wingspan made them perfect for carrying notes and small packages over long distances. The spooky part is that these things have the ability to absorb suggestion and process information in a way that allows them to understand what you want them to do quickly and where you want them to take something all while figuring the fastest possible route. They say it’s part chemical reaction, part telepathy and brain synapses something or other. Who knows? All I know is that they can cut through the mental clutter to get directly to the bit, the thing you want them to know, and make that bit their mission.

The death part is right too. Despite their mostly calm demeanor and being bred to serve, this is not a “pigeon” you want to piss off. Aside from the talons, which are formidable weapons in and of themselves, the CDP also has lengthy retractable fangs that carry a lethal venom, at least lethal to humans. Whether they bite you or spit on you, if you come into contact with that venom…you’re done, good night.

On paper, my assignment was supposed to be a standard, by the book pick-up and delivery. After the incident on Bahtch, which I maintain was a total misunderstanding, my income stream hacked to odd jobs and hole-jumps too menial, or unsavory, for others to do. Hm…technically, I was reduced to being little more than a CDP myself really…you know, except for the wings and the venom spitting fangs and…

But I digress. The job was a simple hole-jump to Neb 15 with a tap-in spot set in the heart of the Vax complex which was nestled serenely in the third quadrant of Simmaer, Flaxtor’s biggest city. There, I would meet up with Strom Gorman, “purveyor of fine goods”, as he put it, pick up the disc, head to the tap-out and hole-jump home.

Easy, right? Should have been, but somewhere along the line, the whole plan went scrap.

Getting in was rage – smooth and easy. The tap-in was pretty close to where it was supposed to be, about 100 feet away from Strom’s place. Which was lucky. Lately, a string of miscalculations from the senders put the taps off by miles. In one case, hundreds of miles; just another thing eroding the once fevered interest in jumping.

As I  got my bearings and headed down the street, Strom stepped out of the door of his storefront. He was a large, beast of a Flaxtorian male, but with many years behind him. He walked forward slowly while dramatically arching his back as if it were stiff. He breathed in a full helping of the cool night air, holding it for a moment before letting it escape with a loud sigh as if the day had certainly taken a toll. For someone who acted like he was looking for nothing, the awfulness of it all made it obvious he was looking out for someone…me.

“Strom,” I said, raising my hand up to identify who was calling out. Dumb move now that I think of how barren the street was at the moment. Who else would be yelling at him at this point?

“Mr. Crisp?” The sound sort of warbled from him as he spoke. The Flaxtorians found English a bit more challenging than some of the other languages they encountered in this sector, but it was clear enough for me. I got it.

“E.C., please.” I stepped up to him and suppressed the reflex to shake hands. His race found it to be a disgusting ritual. “I guess you have something for me?”

“Right to the businesses,” he warbled. “I like that.”

Strom looked both ways up and down the street with a serious and stern expression before reaching into the pocket of his robe-like coat.

“Here,” he said pulling his chunky, three-fingered hand out and palming the small silver data bank. “Be careful dis, yes? Hot. Hot. Hot.”

He laughed a little, as far as I could tell, then he shoved the disk hard into my front coat pocket. Funny that they don’t shake hands, but they seem to have few qualms with aggressively violating one’s personal space.

“Wha…,?” I said. “Oh yeah. Right. Hot.” He patted my pocket down for safety. “Hot data. I get it.”

He gave me what I think was a wink, but it was so slow, it looked like he might be starting to nod off. I guess Strom liked the sense of drama that came with delivering a data disk to little more than a courrier on a dark street…at night, artificial as it may be.

“OK,” I said, rocking back on my heals a bit while trying to avoid any longer a good-bye than what already transpired. “Gotta jump.”

I took a few short steps back, giving a small, polite wave and a nod Strom, you know, as people do, then turned and walked with more intent back to the tap-out.

It was about step number three when the section of street we were on lit up like daylight forgot something. My eyes clenched as I recoiled and turned as if slapped on the back by an invisible hand.

“NO MOVES!”

A voice rang out from, well, from everywhere.

“NO MOVES!”

The voice boomed and warbled.

“NO MOVES! YOUR TAP TERMINATES! YOU GIVE ANSWERS!”

There it was. The blinding light and the booming voice. Whether it’s Brooklyn direct or a Flaxtorian warble, the unmistakable tone proved the authorities had arrived. Still squinting too hard too see, I slowly raised my hands in surrender. It was the Shags – the Flaxtorian police.

*Editor’s note:
To read other fantastic tales, search for Emory Crisp at the top of the page.

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Something to Ponder – 9

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Rex Carson of Brattleboro, Vermont.

“Dear Banaba,” Rex writes. “Why aren’t people more charitable?”

To my new friend Rex, I ask, “Rex, what do you need now?”

But again, that is me being playful. As I see it, the more serious response to the question has three parts. People may be seen as being less than charitable because:

  1. Charity is inconvenient
  2. Charity requires that we give something of ourselves
  3. We have a tendency to judge one’s need to see if they are worthy of our effort

Many people are charitable at heart, but people are busy, and even with the best of intentions, moving the notion of being charitable into action takes purposeful intent. Charitable groups or people in need of charity can be quite good about asking for help and letting you know that they exist as an entity, and the need for your help is real, but if you are not in the place, either in your mind or in your personal situation, where it is easy to give – also called a “no brainer” – one is not likely to do so.

Also, most people believe they work hard to support the lives they have. If they are inspired to help others, they do so because they can, and they want to feel good about themselves for doing it. So, while the act of charity helps those in need, it also gives those who help an emotional boost. People need something in return for their work, even if it is just a good feeling, otherwise they would not do it.

There are many forms of charity, financial, physical, emotional and no matter the form, the act of charity requires a willingness and a capability on the part of the giver to provide support to others. Only the giver can define those thresholds. They will give what is comfortable for them.

It is easy to donate clothes that you do not wear, tools that you do not use, or similar items because you are already detached from them and the cost to you is low.

The donation of time in the service of others is more difficult because we are already time strapped. How much time can one spare? Is it enough time to do any good? Will it end up being more time than we expected to the point where it infringes on other things? Plus, the donation of time means a more integrated involvement, personally and emotionally, with the issue you are working on or the affected people, animals or whatever. So, time is a more personal investment.

Then there is money. Sometimes it is easiest to give money because the ultimate cost to you is lower than other options. You can give without being directly involved. You are not really connected to the issue beyond your financial support. You won’t get your hands dirty because your donation combined with others allows other people to do the work. On the other hand, money may be very difficult for you to give because of your personal situation even though sometimes money is what is needed most.

Since the act of charity is seen as a basic human trait, it is very difficult when people with a charitable heart cannot give, cannot do for the people and groups they wish to help. It is a struggle. It can also be disheartening when we give and believe that we are doing good, only to find we have been duped and our time, energy and resources have gone to places less worthy than our intentions. It happens often enough and on a grand enough scale that some will take great caution before considering charity.

Because we have been burned, or we know someone who has been burned in the past, we like to make sure that if we go out of our way to be charitable, the efforts are earned and deserved.

We all tend to compare others to ourselves especially when it comes to charity. We are human. We judge. We shouldn’t and I believe we often try not to, but it is a hard-wired into our brains and difficult to escape. Does that person really need that money? If I’m working, why aren’t they working? I will give only so much because they should be able to do the rest on their own. They are being lazy. They already have help from other people, how much more do they need? And on and on and on.

The problem with being so judgmental is that it can skew one’s perspective. While I encourage care and consideration, I caution against becoming so critical that it paralyzes one’s sense of humanity to the point where cynicism trumps charity, or at least the honest consideration of charity. We should be better than that. Sometimes, we are not.

There is no shortage of charitable requests that come our way. They come in our mail, they come to us electronically in email and chats and notes, we are approached as we come and go from our local Super Marts, or on street corners. Whether from strangers or from friends and family, it seems someone always wants or needs something. It can be exhausting.

When the planets align and we have determined that the time for giving is now, that we have the resources to spare and that our resources will go where needed to serve the intended purpose, we are more likely to be charitable.

So when Rex asks, why aren’t people more charitable, one might say that if we take all things into consideration, people are as charitable as we allow them to be.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

Copyright © 2018 – The JEFFWORKS

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Dumb Stuff with Tommy McGee – 2

Hi. Welcome to Dumb Stuff.

I’m Tommy and this is what I think about stuff that’s mostly dumb.

Today…the Biden/Trump fight.

As you probably heard, both Donald Trump and Joe Biden have taken turns telling the press that, at some point or other – based on whatever the other has done – that each is confident he could and would give the other a solid beat down in a physical fight – to teach him a lesson.

Did you get all that?

Let’s face it, the whole kerfuffle is dumb! They can talk like that because they each wallow in the safety of being out of range of each other. Just like you putting stuff on the social media about folks you don’t like. You probably wouldn’t say it face to face, because if you did, someone might slap the shit out of your head.

These two nubs are never gonna fight. This nonsense is just taking up space that could be better used for the bigger stuff we should be talking about. I mean, it’s more embarrassing than amusing. It’s stupid.

However, I would be lying to you if, when I first heard this bubble up, that there wasn’t a small part of me that would actually like to see these two suit up and crawl into a ring somewhere. I mean, I’m not condoning any violence here (not that they could muster up enough energy to produce even minimal levels of violence) and I don’t believe there is any element of sport involved, but, if anything, the notion is so bizarre that for a moment, I thought, “Yeah, we should have them do that.”

I mean, it keeps coming up and they won’t let it die. Apparently, they are just not capable of moving on to the point that “threats” have been made or “gauntlets” have been thrown down. It’s like when you bump into that drunk guy in a bar – absolute mistake – totally innocent – could happen to anybody – but you caused a little bit of his drink to spill and instead of his hearing you say your very polite, “Gee, man I’m sorry,” (which is what I said, Louis) he hears you say, “Watchitdick!” and now wants to kick your ass.

It must have something to do with their perception of manhood, or manliness, or virility, or reliving some golden moment of their youth when maybe they could deliver a punch or two -or something other like that – that pushes them into this ego-driven, moronic, blind rage…or in this case, ego-driven, moronic, blind bravado. I wonder if they actually hear the words that dribble out of their mouths.

Look, not to take anything away from them, but these are not young men. They are older men who, instead of embracing the dignity and wisdom of their elder years, are acting like tired children who played outside too long on a hot summer day, but who are still so jacked up from all the Kool-Aid®, they can’t think straight. Maybe they need a nap.

These are supposed to be our esteemed leaders. The ones who we task with setting a vision for the country and leading us into a better future. Instead, they are embarrassing themselves and proving to be an embarrassment to all of us, partly because they are actually saying these stupid things out loud and partly, and probably more importantly, because I think we can all picture how it would go in our heads. The vision is…disturbing.

My mind instantly conjures two, slow, sweaty, puffy (one puffier than the other for sure), winded, crepy, veiny, elderly men standing opposite of each other with boxing gloves on bigger than their heads. They wear giant pairs of shiny boxing shorts that start at their armpits and end at about mid-calf. They glare at each other with angry eyes that make statements and professions that their bodies are just no longer capable of delivering on. And should they start an actual bout, all you would hear is these wheezing gasps for breath in between the soft pat, pat, pat of feeble punches. I’m pretty certain they could each muster up the intent to do the other one harm, but the delivery system just doesn’t exist.

When my Uncle Larry got old to the point where he started talking crazy, saying stuff like he wanted to punch the paperboy to teach him a lesson for always tossing his paper into the hydrangeas or his wanting shoot the squirrels in his backyard because they ate too much of his birdseed, we took his car keys away and made sure he had more company to keep an eye on him. Is anyone keeping an eye on these guys?

Like I said, a lot of this is bravado. Bluster and noise wrapped in the notion of teaching someone else a lesson on how to behave (note the irony). And despite the intentions, these are actually prominent displays of old-school, bull-headed mindsets of men who appear to be incapable of taking a more enlightened approach to resolving even the smallest of issues. If you want to teach someone a lesson, I think leading by a better example or setting a higher standard is the way to go. The knock your block off stuff is counterproductive and like I said…just dumb.

Thanks for listening, – Tommy

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Dumb Stuff” entries, search for Dumb Stuff at the top of the page.

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Something to Ponder – 8

banaba 1a

Sage advice from an elderly gentleman perched atop a lonely mountain.

Hello friends! Today our question comes from Zach Rumsten of Arcata, California.

“Dear Banaba,” Zach writes, “Can’t we all just get along?”

To my new friend Zach, I say simply, “No.”

But of course, that is me kidding with you. If I’m being totally honest, the best answer I can give is a solid maybe.

You see, we have always had the skills and abilities to get along, and by we, I’m going to guess that Zach means all of us on this planet. But, despite our infinite skills and abilities, it seems we cannot all just get along. To take it one step further, it seems we are not all that interested in making it happen. So, it is not that we can’t. It is more likely that we don’t or won’t.

While that sounds bad, understand that the situation is not entirely hopeless, but our history shows there is little motivation within the human species to work for and achieve global harmony, so until the proper motivation comes, we sit in this tenuous middle ground.

Humans are animals. Despite the work we have done over the span of our evolution to grow beyond our base programing, what is in us exists and continues to prove difficult to overcome with any real permanence or global vision.

Humans have ongoing and eternal base needs like satisfying hunger and thirst, the need for shelter, the need for a sense of safety, the need for companionship, family, community, accomplishment, self-expression and so on.

On the plus side, humans generally have within them the ability to display compassion, understanding, fortitude, love, empathy, charity, a willingness to learn and grow, imagination, creativity, endurance and so on.

However, in direct conflict with those traits, we are also wired for greed and envy, pettiness, ignorance, ego, bigotry, fear, selfishness, laziness, a hunger for power or dominance, ruthlessness, revenge, hatred and so on.

The reason we cannot all get along is that we cannot reconcile, or adequately balance our positive traits with our negative traits while in the pursuit of satisfying our base needs.

It has been proven over and over that the world we live on, despite the lack of care we show for it, has the resources to adequately provide for the needs of its people, but the use, control and distribution of those resources is based on economy, not charity. So, while we could live in a world where everyone has what they need, instead, we live in a world where there is great disparity between us. You can get what you need, if you have the money or other resources to do so. If you do not have the resources…sad for you, your struggles will be great.

In this case, size and situation matters little. You can see that there are people in the world who have sought power and dominance over others by any means possible for selfish returns. And while those examples very clearly illustrate the negatives of the human animal, those same shortcomings are easily found throughout the chain of human existence from governments, to corporations, to smaller businesses and organizations, to towns and villages, to churches, to neighborhoods, to families, to individuals.

We serve ourselves first. We help others if we can, as we can, if we remember, as long as it does not diminish our position in anyway or is in anyway inconvenient. We adhere to our biases, we contort our religious doctrines to suit our purposes, we forget to forgive and forget. We fail to recognize that we often do ourselves what we curse others for. We ridicule what we don’t understand and we bully those who seem less than we are and so many things.

There are exceptions of course, and that is where hope lies. There are people who wish to, and work to, serve the greater good and put the needs of others before themselves, but there are not enough. And the ones we have cannot do all that needs to be done on their own. They need help.

It starts with simple questions like Zach’s. Can’t we all just get along? Perhaps. Maybe.

When you get to the point where you are ready to ask the question, you should also be at the point where you decide how you can answer the question in your own world. How do you live? What do you do to bring hope and harmony to your existence? What are you willing to change? Are you able to grow beyond who you think you are today?

Not easy questions and not the only questions, but if you have opened yourself up to a broader vision of a greater world, asking the questions is not enough.

Peace to you  – Banaba

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Something to Ponder” entries, search for Banaba at the top of the page.

Copyright © 2018 – The JEFFWORKS

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Bon Mots and Sprinkles

Bonmots Sprinkles

Able was sad to rebuff the minotaur who came to his door trying to sell a box of safety flares, but he learned that while the creature’s features were strong, harsh and disturbing, he had surprisingly minty fresh breath.

I just realized that it’s the first day of summer and also the longest day of the year. Now I’m trying to purge the image from my mind of a giant, full-body, communal, sunscreen dip vat. Shivers

I never considered the potential legal ramifications of having popular, ironic and funny t-shirt designs and slogans done in braille.

Hey chicken lovers, heed this warning! Without explicit permission,  the “finger licking good” thing at KFC is restricted to your own chicken and your own fingers… exclusively. They mean it.

I had this really great idea while giving blood the other day, but then it vanished.
I was totally convinced that it drained out of me at some point during the donation and that it might be swimming around in the blood bag. Despite my pleading with them, the people at the blood bank wouldn’t let him have it back – even for a second – so that i might get the idea – or at least a glimmer of the idea – back by holding the bag up to against my head. or something They just offered me an extra cookie and asked me to leave.

Jax climbed the mountain seeking wisdom from the man at the top. Sadly, it was the wrong mountain. The man at the top was not wise, but a “wise-ass” who berated him with witty, stinging commentary and smart remarks until Jax left.

Tilken opened the note from his hamster. It read, “Dear Tilken – or Master – whatever you prefer, Please remove the wheel from my space. This morning I realized that no matter how hard I work, how hard I try or the strength of my convictions, I will never get anywhere on it. Now, it just reminds me of all the things I’ll never be and it makes me feel inadequate. Please replace said icon of doom with a tiny futon, some high-speed, wireless Internet and a bit more alfalfa. I love that stuff. Thanks – Yours in a cage, Mott”

Tommy tried mowing the lawn in the middle of the night – blindfolded – just because he could, but n the morning, he found that most of his neighbors were very upset with the noise and the random spots in the grass that he missed appeared to spell out something obscene.

I was walking along yesterday, minding my own business when I happen to stumble across  an ounce of prevention. Which made me wonder…id this eve legal? How much trouble could I get in if someone fInd out about it? And as I rolled it around in my hand for a moment I thought, is this really worth a whole pound of cure?

I’m a bit depressed over the notion that the year is speeding along and I have crossed so few items off my personal “to do” lis for the year. I mean, I’m thrilled with the progress I made on New Year’s resolution 57 – get rid of that truck load of iguana pelts – but the rest of it has been a real struggle.

Denton worked hard to write his own words as a means to inspire others without having to rely on apt quotes from those more recognized than he (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Today he writes: “If wine be food for the soul and the burden I carry is wine, let me drink to unburden my cart and my soul, may it gift me the courage to vanquish my foes and summon words to convince this kind Officer Bentley to loosen these handcuffs that I might find my clothes.”

I was invited to take an adventure tour this summer to obscure, yet exotic fishing locales around the globe in search of the rare Marubian Platter Trout. But it looks like there might be some good TV on this summer and anyone who knows me knows I don’t eat from the water.

Dan spent the better part of his life searching for the keys to the mystical crystal palace, but after finding them recently, he cast them back out in to the world, for he realized that he would be now surrounded by nosy neighbors and crystal, being what it is, would force him to spend a fortune on drapes – for he is modest. Thus he asks that you choose your quests wisely and be careful what you wish for.

I never really expected such a backlash. I mean, I never imagined such an impassioned response. The comments clearly unearthed, and eventually laid bare, the emotional and philosophical divisions that lie between us as we, on the surface, politely tap out our glib impressions of a daily life that never really matches our deeper thoughts, hopes and dreams. All I said was that I liked the rain…and I don’t mind the word “moist”.

When you have so much pudding that you spend time trying to come up with “alternative uses” and then you glance over at the tub…stop. You have too much pudding.

Dotson fell, then got up, then fell again, and got up, then fell, before deciding to stay down for a moment or two to contemplate what it might be like to be a doormat. The ripples and grooves in the ceiling above him revealed the likeness of the French researcher François Poulletier de la Salle and he smiled.

Burke saw a sizable rabbit wearing a Panama hat waiting for a bus in the pouring rain. On the lapel of his jacket was a button that read ‘Free Mandela’ and he was jangling the loose change in his pocket over and over again. Rude.

I’m starting to wonder if trying to collect hail in a paper cup is worth all the pain and aggravation.

Dan noticed a bug with his voice recognition software. Now the computer only responds if he uses a Scottish and accent and calls it “Baby.”

Janks retold that story about how we all burst through the door of that small camper with Old Bill screaming, “What in the fuzzy nubbins are you doing to that cat!” Our eyes grew like saucers, it was tense and everything was pretty sticky, but eventually cooler heads prevailed and now we laugh about it. Most of us laugh about it. Not the cat.

Cory finally ended his long-standing feud with the Druids of Persipia. He will grant them safe passage through the Valley of Dread and they will return the carrots… all of them. Who knew it would take so long for such a simple resolution?

Diesel held his breath for a really long time. Eventually he began to see beautiful colors, and tall, nearly translucent, ethereal beings who stood before him in timeless, pinstriped suits. They told him all the bad things that could happen if Bailey Tinn were to become president – in iambic pentameter –  they then handed him a sizable, chocolate eclair. When he woke up it – was Thursday.

I just created an app that turns any cell phone into an awesome paperweight.

Bernard decided that every time the government shuts down, he’s shutting down. Just like them, he will sit with his arms crossed and pout and maybe hold his breath some until he gets his way because that’s what his elected officials have taught him. He may then go kick in an anthill, for his elected officials also taught him that their will is law and masses are pawns at their mercy. That is the game. So who cares what they have to deal with?

Jenk learned that squeezing a tomato can help you determine freshness, but that squeezing them too hard just destroys them…and that squeezing a dozen or so too hard will get you an invite to leave the store immediately – generally followed by a security guard.

After a few tests, Carl found that you actually catch more flies with a dead squirrel than honey.

Know that the second you say, “I don’t want to be that person, but…” – you are that person.

I sent my DNA sample to one of those places that trace your ancestry and was a bit disappointed. All this time I thought I was hardcore Scottish. Come to find, I’m just from New Jersey.

I got a new medic-alert bracelet and wore it on a trampoline. I’ve fallen. I’m back up. I’ve fallen. I’m back up. I’ve fallen. I’m back up. It was fun, but I felt a little bad for the guys from the squad who walked up my driveway, then back to the truck, then up my driveway, then back to the truck.

The Great Bandini had to disband his troupe of amazing dancing monkeys. And while he’s sad to see them go, he takes comfort in knowing Mr. Bangles and Coco will have a safe new life at the Erie County Aquarium and Taco Bar and he knows the fabulous Miss Effy Proust will see great success in her new one monkey stage show in Vegas. And the rest? Well, he knows they will land on their feet…or their hands…depending on how they jump.

Jack is celebrating the one day anniversary of yesterday. He’s so grateful for all the magic and wonder the day held, he’s sending out a special thanks to everyone who helped make it great – the mailman for leaving no bills, Creepy Tommy on the corner of 5th Street and Purchase for not spitting on him, to Burger Tzar for the free pickles and for the Lenny the Mime for pretending to pull a live chicken out his ass…the extended version. He holds such fond memories of the day and was sad to see it go.

I found an old can of whoop-ass in the basement. I’m afraid to keep it because its way past its “best by” date and you just can’t have a random old can of whoop-ass exploding in your living room. I mean, think of the mess. On the other hand, I’m afraid to get rid of it, because you never know when you might need a can of whoop-ass.

Cal was sad that his idea to cut a hole in the debt ceiling to install a debt skylight didn’t get broader consideration from Congress. It provided the stability of a firm structure with the flexibility of breaching the limit as needed. His other ideas that Congress rejected included the debt refinished basement, the debt lawn sprinkler and the debt margarita cabana station with an express mini taco bar.

Tan is working on a book of inspirational sayings and motivational thoughts to help people maneuver the murky waters of this modern day life. Chapter 83 begins with, “Embrace the things you can’t change. Hold them close…tight…really tight…until they stop kicking. Then, bury them in a neighbor’s yard or under some loose tar in the parking lot of an abandoned factory. Then…finally, you can renew your focus on the things you can change.”

Sure, having three bird feeders is excessive, but it makes it so much easier to shoot the birds.

Jerry danced the fandango in a mid-sized tub of tapioca pudding, but it didn’t go well. The pudding was not at the optimum temperature for dancing in.

Today’s post is brought to you by the letters F and U.

Teddy learned the hard way that it’s inappropriate to put on a big smile and do “jazz hands” after giving someone really bad news.

It’s always best to check the status of the roll of paper before committing to the deed.

Nobody cares if the thing stuck in your teeth looks like Marylin Monroe. Just get it out of there.

You know you’re in trouble when your credit card bill comes delivered with a giant bouquet of flowers and a handwritten Thank You note.

There’s no point in having a staring contest with a dog, nobody wins and it just annoys the dog.

Despite his joy over the effectiveness of his time machine, Dil still had to figure out why his pants disintegrated on every trip. lt was getting harder and harder to explain.

For lack of something better to do, Jax finally cracked open the keg of the thick, snot-like artificial drool left to him by his Uncle Bob and found it was great for grossing out kids at the mall and for winning bar bets.

While cleaning up, Chester decided that looking for truffles is not as easy as he imagined and he now has a new found level of respect for the pig.

Hal discovered the hard way that it’s wrong to be a volunteer fireman if all you want to do is wear the hat and ride in the truck…even if you make a good siren noise with your mouth.

Mert thought he wrote the next greatest protest song until the letter came from the record company that said a) the unethical treatment of unicorns is not enraging people these days as much as he imagined b) Finlandia is not so much a place as it is a vodka c) BP is not likely drilling for oil in Finlandia – see “b” d) We can’t prove Sarah Palin was an alien space baby despite what he claimed to be “documentation” e) black holes were not created by the government f) it’s 38 minutes long.

Billy pulled the bag from the freezer. As he looked down, his brow furrowed.
“What the hell,” he muttered to himself while inspecting the bag further. He yelled out, “Jason?”
“What?” Jason bumbled down the stairs to the kitchen where Billy stood with a puzzled look plastered on his face and a bag of frozen hot dogs in his hands. “Those are mine.”
“Yeah,” I gathered Billy said. “Am I seeing these right? Do they all say, ‘Exclusive Property of Jason Schwartzman’ on them?”
“Oh, yeah.”
“Each one individually?”
“Yeah.”
“Why?” Billy asked.
“They’re mine.”
“I get that. It’s clearly indicated on each and every hot dog that they’re yours. How did you do that?”
“With a Sharpie®. I started with a plain one, but then I switched to the fine point. That made it much easier?”
“Why?”
“Duh, the fine point is not as thick, so the letters look better.”
“Why did you use a Sharpie® at all?”
“Well, I figured they would work best, they‘re permanent and non-toxic.”
“No. Why did you feel the need to write on the hot dogs at all?”
“They’re mine.”
“Right, fine. They’re yours. I’ll get to that in a second, but wouldn’t it have been easier just to write on the bag?”
“Well…I didn’t want you to get confused.”
“What, in case some hot dogs I might have somewhere infiltrates your bag somehow and we can’t tell them apart?”
“You don’t eat hot dogs.”
“Which makes this even more bizarre.”
“But yet, here you are in the kitchen hold my bag of hot dogs.”
“Do you really think I wanted to eat your hot dogs? I was looking for something else. I saw these and I clearly remember thinking, ‘What the hell?’”
“I don’t see how it’s so bizarre. You write your name on stuff so I don’t get confused. You have a carton of eggs in there you marked as yours.”
“Right, but you have your eggs and I didn’t go through and mark each one the “Exclusive Property of William Jennings Cooper.’”
“Of course, not.”
“You see my point then?”
“Yeah, you prefer ‘Billy.’”

I’m probably not being followed. That’s paranoid. But it seems like there is a guy with a schedule very similar to mine, who goes the places I go, but is always just a little bit behind me.

Nate is working hard to clean up chunks of the Earth after reading this story about some jerkweed who killed all the Truffula Trees to make something or other. Killing all the trees rippled out to the Bar-ba-Loots and the Swomee Swans and it was just a mess. He also found that while Bar-ba-Loots are terrible house guests, they make great drinking buddies.

Corbin found that beer goes down a lot easier with a beer chaser followed by vodka, then scotch, then beer.

Alex tried hard to get in touch with his feminine side, but when he did, he found she was a big girl with giant hands who was very rough…and a little mean.

Hank really thought the multi-barreled hot dog cannon would generate greater interest. After all, it can shoot piping hot, hot dogs at a rate of 124 wieners per minute – up to 300 feet away. He’s perplexed. Was it because it doesn’t shoot buns too or was it the unfortunate moment when Rodney took one to the eye? Look, he said it wasn’t even his favorite eye.

Gil found out during trick or treating last night that kids are not the least bit interested in bobbing for hot dogs.

Bren spent the evening calibrating his blender to international industry standards so that he might both create smoother pureed beets and a better margarita. Then he thought…what about a beet margarita?

Bill spends a lot of his extra time perfecting his recipe for turning sugared cereals into beer. Imagine for a moment, Froot Loops Lager, Apple Jacks Pale Ale, or Quisp….beer. Anyhow, He plans to promote it as the getup and go morning beverage of choice for movers and shakers.

Dex learned the hard way that it’s inappropriate to put on a big smile and do “jazz hands” while stuttering through “Th – th – th- that’s all folks!” like Porky Pig after hearing the news that someone died.

Tad experimented with the various fountain soda and Slurpee options at the local gas mart to the point where he created an icy cold beverage that tasted just like a roasted turkey sandwich.

*Editor’s note:
To read the latest entries, search for Bon Mots and Sprinkles at the top of the page.
Copyright © 2018 – The JEFFWORKS
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Dumb Stuff with Tommy McGee – 1

Dumb-Stuff

Hi. Welcome to Dumb Stuff.

I’m Tommy and this is what I think about stuff that’s mostly dumb.

Today…the gun thing.

And before you get your shorts in a knot, it ain’t the current attention over guns that’s dumb. That’s important. The dumb stuff has everything to do with people and their current “response” to the gun thing…of course.

There’s a lot of money,  paranoia, misunderstanding, a whole lot of misinformation, a lot of rage and a bunch of other stuff that continues to take this issue way off the tracks.

Thing is, I don’t think we’ve seen all the dumb stuff related to this come to surface yet. There’s more to come for sure. But it don’t take a genius to know we’re doing it wrong.

Here’s the bit. We got a problem with guns here. You can say we don’t, but that would be blind ignorance talking. But instead of looking at it directly and naming it what it is, people are calling it a lot of other things like it’s bad immigrants or crazy people, not enough God, political philosophy, or drugs, or the decay of our collective moral fiber and all kinds of things. But when you boil it right down to the bones, it’s guns. Technically, it’s guns mixed with a double scoop of stupid…and bullets.

I grew up around guns. Not military grade weapons and the like, but still…guns.

I had some pretty shitty days growing up.

Still, I can’t recall one time when I ever thought of fixing my shitty day by running home and grabbing me up some guns…and bullets.

Why? Lots of reasons. Maybe, after a moment to consider my situation, my shitty day may not have been as shitty as I imagined. Maybe I’m not that kind of crazy. Perhaps it’s my practical understanding that shooting people is bad and that prison sucks pretty bad and it is not the place where I want to end up spending my time. As far as guns go, once you shoot them, you gotta clean them, so maybe I’m just lazy. I generally don’t carry around that kind of hate for people, despite how awful and dumb they can be and despite how much they might piss me off. Not on my worst day. But, that’s just me.

So, why do other people do it?

Well, we still need to think on that one. Super bad days? Mother issues? Father issues? Bullying? Feeling of power? Lack of belonging? Futile outlook? Some sort of supremacist, anti-establishment bull shit? Tiny genitalia? God told them to do it? Satan told them to do it? To be determined.

The dumbest thing of all is that we can’t get to the bit and fix the problem.

The gun people say there ain’t enough guns. They say everyone has a God-given right to have all the weapons they want and that the world’ll have to pry those weapons from their cold dead hands to get them. That seems to cover everything from a tiny pop gun to an all-out urban assault vehicle…and beyond.

The anti-gun people say the only way to solve the problem is to flat out get rid of all the guns. The end.

There’s a group that says if you take away all the guns, the people intent on doing others harm will just weaponize something else – like their cars or something. Then they ask, “What are you gonna do then? Outlaw cars? What then?”

Some nub in Kansas named Tyler Tannahill, is giving away the same type of assault rifle used on those kids in Florida as part of his Senate campaign. He says it’s OK though because he planned on giving that gun away before the shooting took place and he sees no reason to change the plan. Good call Tyler. You’re gonna fit right in. It comes off a bit tine deaf to the situation though.

No longer relevant Washington nub, Newt Gingrich wants to give guns to teachers. Apparently, that nub Trump thinks that’s a good idea too. Bite into that one and taste it for a minute. They say it would come in handy if another shooting occurs. You know, it’s just for self-defense and protection of others. Like that could never go wrong. First, neither of them had Mr. Terriman for eighth-grade English. That dude was itching to bring a little old West justice to the classroom…ass. Plus, solving the gun problem with more guns just doesn’t seem to make good sense on any level. Has anyone suggested the answer to the opioid problem is giving people more drugs? No? Of course not, because people understand that’s a dumb ass idea,

The nubs in the Florida legislature voted down having a conversation to consider an assault weapons ban. In the same afternoon, they declared pornography a public health risk. You read that correct. Whatever you happen to think about pornography and what it does to folks, I have yet to hear of how it was used to extinguish the lives of innocent people. Did you ever hear of a  porn massacre? Of course not. It’s more like an individual sport. Dumb.

Finally, after a whole bunch of useless posturing and bluster comes the great debate – which is a dumb thing – because there ain’t a real debate, just a bunch of noise and finger pointing with pointed fingers that look like guns.

A real heart to heart needs to take place between folks who can step away from the pandering,  look at the issue clean and who can generate some kinda solid, workable solution.

We’re not gonna get that.

We’re gonna get four giant truckloads of stupid from every political blowhole that cares less about the issue and more about how they look on TV and what their polling numbers say. We’re gonna get rants from our goofy friends on the fringe who have no idea what they’re talking about but parrot rage just the same about losing their second amendment rights. They don’t really know what that means of course. Before now, they thought the right to bear arms meant they could cut the sleeves off all their t-shirts without government interference.

It’s a sad state when the bulk of us, the ones who are just trying to get through the day to day the best way we know how without losing what we have worked hard for, to sit in the middle of this tempest of stupid and know that whatever happens – we’ll have to pay for it. We got kids acting like adults and adults acting like children and common sense is getting lost in the noise.

I figure this could probably be worked out over a couple of beers, a bowl of pretzels and a couple shots of “let’s get some stuff done” – if you turn the TV and the Internet off while the talk goes on, but that would be giving people a whole lot of credit.

Till then, it’s just gonna more of the same old same old. More dumb stuff.

Thanks for listening. – Tommy

*Editor’s note:
To read other “Dumb Stuff” entries, search for Dumb Stuff at the top of the page.