Kris an’ Murphy: Chern-onzo

*     *     *
He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man.
Samuel Johnson
*     *     *

“You know when you can’t hear your speakers, and you keep turning various volume controls up higher and higher in confusion, and then someone hits the mute button and there’s a deafening blast of sound? That’s basically what happened at Chernobyl.”

Kris:This is supposed to be funny?

Murphy: “You don’t care for the way Mr. Munroe is sticking it to you?”

Kris: “It’s one of the saddest strips I’ve ever read!

Murphy: “What’s sad about it? The wastage of the environment around the Chernobyl nuclear reactor? The appalling management bunglefest that created the accident? The senseless loss of human life that resulted? All of the above?”

Kris: “Worse! Far worse!!”

Murphy:What then?”

Kris: “Here. Let me put on my whiny student voice. ‘I don’t understand, Professor. Isn’t it your job to make this easy for me? Is any of what you said going to be on the test?'”

Murphy: “Oh. The arrogant, aggressive embrace of ignorance by our students. Not to mention the rest of our fellow citizens of the Untied States of America. I thought you were going to tell me something new.”

Kris: “Which I’m sick to death of enabling in the name of our university’s increasingly desperate attempts to keep students in classes and paying fees! Don’t these peeps have some responsibility for recognizing that we just might know what we’re talking about, and investing some minimal labor of their own to share in that knowledge? Not according to the Registrar’s accountants. Not according to the media’s accountants! Dammit, Murphy, if I didn’t have tenure, and I had to face what our junior colleagues are facing these days, I’d be downtown flipping burgers, grateful for the improvement in pay and working conditions! We’re only three weeks into the summer break, and already, two words sum up how I feel about the coming fall semester.”

Murphy: “Hm?”

Kris:Fear and loathing!”

Murphy: “We’re not in Vegas, y’know.”

Kris: “I know and don’t care! Gonzo guru Hunter Thompson applied that Fear and Loathing title to lots of places and things. If he’s still got ashes floating about, some of them are probably writing Fear and Loathing in Seattle Traffic right now!”

Murphy: “Ah yes. A nostalgic retrospective on a time when Seattle still had cars. And students.”

Kris: ” … whut?”

Murphy: “I’d be applying your angst to the oil tanker situation right now if I were you, rather than the student situation.”

Kris:Speaking of arrogant ignorance! What kind of a pass have we come to, that people will only talk to our President through intermediaries, and can talk seriously about US forces mounting false flag operations?”

Murphy: “You mean, like weapons of mass destruction? Or the Maddox? Or Poland?”

Kris:Dammit, Murphy, you’re scaring me!”

Murphy:Not before time!! If any of us had anything but ignorance in this dog-forsaken cesspit of a nation, the election of Donald Trump and his party of boot-lickers would never have been allowed to happen, and when it did happen, the country would have been brought to an economic standstill, by its citizenry with a vestige of a clue, until the atrocity was reversed. Exactly the opposite has happened. Just as it did in Germany after Hitler’s ascension to power, and with far less excuse: Germans were starving, we were just pissed off that we had a nigger President. It’s too late, we are all Nazis now, worshiping our Führer in the White House and the petty Führers at the heads of our corporations. How long will our MAGA last? … You’ve read Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, correct?”

Kris: “Of course.”

Murphy: “So you know why he opened the book with that quote from Samuel Johnson.”

Kris: “Yeah. The only way he could cope with what he saw as the failure of the 1960s counterculture movement was by getting blotto and staying that way.”

Murphy: “And, when you do that, you shake off all the burdens of socialization, the ‘pain of being a man’ in Johnson’s words. Manners are hard. Sobriety is hard. Humility is hard. Acquiring knowledge is hard, to say nothing of wisdom. So much easier to be an ignorant animal and ignore the herd. Or follow it. Until you run into a larger and stronger herd. But then, if that happens, you probably wind up being beyond all cares, so you still don’t have to do any of that hard stuff. A New York Times critic wrote that Thompson had a ‘notion that below the plastic American surface lurked something chaotic and violent’, and that his text and Ralph Steadman’s drawings ‘are the plastic torn away and the people seen as monsters.’ If that doesn’t describe Trump’s USA …”

Kris: “So what’s in that bottle?”

Murphy:Everclear.”

Kris: “Speaking of blotto.”

Murphy: “You’ve got a better idea?”

Kris: “So pour already.”

Posted in Kris an' Murphy, politics, satire, We the People | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Amoeba’s Lorica: Advice for Graduates

“First of all, good folks – I was going to say ‘ladies and gentlemen’, but I fear that about half of you would reject assignment to either of these, and if I listed all the identities that would be needed to meet the case acceptably, my time would be up – let me say how remarkable, not to mention astonishing, I find it that Baits College has asked me, a microscopic protozoon, to address your 150th Commencement.

“Ever since receiving the invitation, Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba has wondered what words of counsel and good cheer the leaders of this College would wish me to offer. What words would induce you, the members of the Baits College Class of 2019, to make best use of the privileges and connections you brought to this campus, and the networks you built here in your parties and clubs – your classes, of course, being of no particular significance – so as to make your marks in, or on, the world, leading by example, encouraging the next generation to follow in your fee-paying footsteps, and thereby achieving that coveted acclaim, that highest level of alumni recognition: the Master Baitser. (An academic exercise if ever there was one.)

“Knowing, as they should if they have paid any attention whatsoever to the protozoon’s life and works, that Your Friendly Neighborhood Amoeba would offer no such words, no such exhortations.

“Who am I to do this? I look at you all from this podium, I see a sea of faces, I know by rote that faces are what I see. But your faces are faceless. I know none of you. I do not know your names, your journeys, your prejudices, your aspirations, your allergies. I do not know – I have no hope of knowing – what tale of mine would change the life of any one of you, or even deflect its course in any direction. And would that be in a good direction, or a bad?

“All I know is what I have seen and done, for good and ill – I, and those with whom I have shared fair chunks of my life, none of whom are seated in this sea of faceless faces. I can talk about some of that … but would that then be about you, or about me trying to convince myself, through you, that I really am as smart as I say I am? Whose party is this, anyway? I am not graduating today. You are!

“Hey. Maybe I can say something that will distract you, however momentarily, from those miserably uncomfortable chairs you’re sitting in. That would be about you. Maybe that’s how come we’ve got hundreds, nay thousands, of people every year trying to sound as smart as they say they are to graduating classes. And some of them say the dumbest things, trying to get you to forget that cramp in your butt! Even if they’re not in the White House or trying to get in there! (Do you vote for people who tell you what you need to know, even if it sounds ugly, and have the ability to do something about that? Or do you vote for people who tell you what you want to hear? Hmmmm?)

“Here’s one of those dumb things. Maybe you’ve heard it already, it’s been popular enough with commencement speakers and and self-help guru retail outlets lately. ‘SELF-DOUBT!‘, they scream. ‘Don’t let this happen to you! You will never succeed in business or life until you slay this beast!!!!’

“Go on, say it. ‘That’s not dumb, that’s ringing self-affirmation!’ Aye. I will overcome, and I will gladly pay the fees of any persons or groups, on top of the fees I am already paying to my dear alma mater, and will be for the next thirty years, who promise to help me realize this. It sounds good, it feels good. And it’s not new to this generation. Hell no. it’s a time-honored piece of advice.

“Straight out of the pages of Mein Kampf.

“Adolf Hitler had no self-doubt, and he and his were not about to let you, or anyone else, do any doubting for him. Or of him. And he achieved. Did he ever. Arbeit macht frei, oy.

“So you want to be known for the attempted massacre of an entire human race? (Um … there aren’t any representatives of North American First Peoples in this audience, are there?)

“Mark Twain once imagined what it would be like to eliminate his self-doubt – what he called his conscience, one of those obsolete relics of paternalism that you might have had to write a report on during your time at Baits. The title he gave to this imagining? The Facts Concerning the Recent Carnival of Crime in Connecticut.

“‘Slay the beast of self-doubt?’ Here I stand to tell you, even though I know nothing about you, nothing about your habits or motivations, that you murder this animal at your peril and the peril of those around you. For without it, what’s going to tell your ‘sacred I’ that it’s going off the rails and over the cliff? Facebook?!?

“Your task, I argue, is not to kill the creature but to tame it, and by taming it transforming it from your stumbling block to your best and most loyal, if perhaps not your most comfortable, friend.

“‘I can’t do this.’ The untamed beast says this, and you crawl under a rock. Until some Führer comes along and tells you to follow instead, off the rails and over the cliff. To the tamed beast, you say ‘Why not?’

“‘I’m scared’, it replies. ‘Of what?’, you ask.

“Perhaps it says, ‘Because the job involves testing the effectiveness of antibiotics, and I’m allergic to penicillin.’ OK, good answer, let’s not go here, yeah?

“Or perhaps it says, ‘I don’t know, I just am.’ Hm, that’s vague, new stuff can be scary, I get it, but we could be missing an opportunity here, can we get some more specifics please?

“Or perhaps it says, ‘Because I’m oppressed by boogeybooger over there.’ Right. The world is full – conveniently full – of buggers to blame. Is this one standing over you with a rifle? Or holding a mirror in front of your face?

“Some of you here today will be headed into your next phase with Greek letters attached to your names and credentials, tokens of your suitability for membership in clubs that will likely prove more important to your future than your degree. Alas that you probably know no more about Greek and Greece than those letters. For the ancient Greeks knew all about this self-doubt stuff. And they had a word that they used to describe those who cast off all self-doubt. Hubris. The ones who were the proud possessors of hubris usually prospered for awhile, Adolf. And then, they didn’t.

Hubris asks, ‘Am I being served?’, and grants permission to ensure that you do your utmost to get served. Your new BFF, self-doubt, asks instead, ‘Am I serving others – and not just using ‘service’ as an excuse for not doing my all?’ So you can achieve your personal goals and still have folk to celebrate them with you – instead of folk that are watching for you to stumble so they can pounce on you, cut you to ribbons, and walk off with the stuff you worked for.

“OK, I’m done. You can get out of those miserable chairs now. Live long – long enough to pay off your student loans, if you can. And prosper. Despite those loan payments. Somehow.”

Posted in Amoeba's Lorica, education, satire, We the People | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

He and She: Bedtime Buggy

He: “Good night, love.”

She: “I don’t [ptui!] think so!”

He: “What’s the matter? Not sleepy?”

She: “No! Because you haven’t saved me yet! You’re supposed to be my rescuer!

He: “And what am I supposed to be rescuing you from?

She: “The bugs!

He: “The bugs is bugging you?”

She: “Right. Here’s what’s up doc, you looney tune. The bugs are bugging me!”

He:What bugs?”

She: “The little ones that keep [ptui! ptui!] flying into my mouth!”

He: “Oh. You mean the gnats.”

She:Yes!!

He: “Sorry, not my department. You need the right hero for this job.”

She: “And just who would that be?”

He: “Who else? Gnatty Bumppo!”

She: “Are you trying to be the last of the Mohicans or something? What about those bugs on the ceiling? What if they start flying into my mouth??”

He: “Don’t think so. Not that kind of bug. Especially if you keep staring at them and worrying about them.”

She: “Well, what kind of bug are they?”

He: “Crick beetles.”

She: “[…] As in ‘crick of the neck?'”

He: “Yeah …”

She: “Have I told you lately that you’re too much work? Good night!”

He: “Hey. Isn’t that what I said way up at the top of the page?

Posted in Hawai'i, He and She, humor | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment