What I Want

You know screaming goats? I want one of those. I went on the Internet and apparently they aren’t any specific type of goat, just some goats do it, some don’t. I want one that does.

The fainting, or Myotonic goat, is a specific type of goat. They don’t really faint, though. Owing to a hereditary genetic disorder, when startled they stiffen up and fall over. They remain conscious, but it’s still pretty funny. I want one of those, too. I bet you can see where I’m going with this.

I want a screaming goat so when it screams, the fainting goat gets startled and ‘faints’.

I also want a helper monkey, mostly so it can skitter up on my shoulder while I’m watching my goats and hand feed me popcorn. I’m perfectly capable of feeding myself popcorn, I in no way need a monkey to do it for me, it’s just what I want. I want it’s hairy little unhygienic monkey hand to place popcorn in my open mouth while I watch my screaming goat scream and my fainting goat get startled and fall over.

And I want a Narwhal. I mean, I don’t want to have one, how could I? No one has a tank that big, it would be an engineering nightmare, ‘Star Trek IV: The Journey Home’ notwithstanding. I just want to be friends with one. Who wouldn’t? Narwhals are the shit. Unicorn of the sea, right? No way should they exist, but they do. I want a specific, individual Narwhal that sometimes I swim with and it knows me, it acknowledges me, it values our friendship. I’d walk down the street and people would say ‘There goes that dude that’s friends with a Narwhal.’

You know that expression, ‘What if monkeys flew out of my butt?’ I want that. Literally. I want the power to make monkeys fly out of my butt at will. I don’t want to walk around pantsless all the time, though, which is a problem, so I guess I also want special monkey permeable pants.

In that expression, are the monkeys supposed to be Wizard of Oz type flying moneys, or is the flying part just them being propelled out of one’s butt, and they just fly until, like, gravity inevitably takes over? The flying monkeys in the movie are pretty big, plus the wingspan, so I don’t think I want that kind of monkey. The Internet tells me that at just under 100 grams, the pygmy marmoset is the world’s smallest species of monkey, so I guess that’s the best kind of monkey for me. ‘The dude that’s friends with a Narwhal? He can make, like, a flock of pygmy marmosets fly right out of his monkey permeable pants. I shit you not.’

In Pulitzer and Nobel prize winning author Saul Bellow’s 1959 novel “Henderson the Rain King”, Eugene Henderson is plagued by an inner voice that cries out ‘I want, I want’. Henderson’s life is dominated by the need to placate this voice, to discover what it is he wants, what he’s missing. So I guess this ‘blog entry’ is my Homage to a great novel. No, wait, not an homage, what’s that thing where you take a famous theme as a starting point, and, like, riff on it? A fantasia? I don’t know. I’ve seen Fantasia and it doesn’t seem anything like that. We both know the only reason I brought up Saul Bellow was so you’d think I was smarter than I actually am and worry that this piece was beyond you instead of just stupid.

I mean, do I really want any of this stuff? Two goats, that’s a lot of responsibility, they need space, you have to feed them, neighbors call the cops when the screaming goat screams too often which is pretty much just once, and the cops are sick of coming to my house already. I need smaller, quieter goats. Pygmy goats are small-er, but not as small as pygmy marmosets. So I guess what I want is a genius genetic scientist to breed me up some screaming goats and fainting goats that weighed in at just under 100 grams. And the screaming goats would have these wee little helium voices that when they screamed and made the tiny fainting goats fall over would be hilarious. Between them and the Narwhal, I don’t think I’d even need the pygmy marmosets flying out of the butt my monkey permeable pants. I mean, I’d want to maintain the ability. I just don’t think I’d lean on it as heavily if I had goats the size of gerbils some of which did these tiny screams and some of which fainted. So if anyone reading this right now is a genius genetic scientist, if you’d whip me up some miniscule specialized goats, I’d be forever in your debt. Literally, because I imagine that kind of endeavor would require an amount of money I’m unlikely to see in my lifetime.

Unless this piece was published in ‘The New Yorker’, becoming the springboard to international fame, which is what I want. Not just published, celebrated. I want Eustace friggin’ Tilly to laugh so hard his monocle pops out. Eustace Tilley? Saul Bellow? Come on, you have to take me seriously at this point. I mean, names like that get dropped, if your reading this going ‘I just don’t find it funny’ you have to at least consider the possibility you’re wrong, right?

I mean, I don’t know what I want. I think that’s pretty clear, except it seems to mostly involve animals, something I don’t want to examine too closely. Why do I want anything? My life is good. I have a loving wife, two beautiful children, I work at a comic book shop. Seriously. Paradise, right? Yes, one or two of my regular customers might benefit from a regular and rigorous course of electro shock, but I’m surrounded by comic books! Come on! So what is this thing I lack, this emptiness, this hole that could, maybe, in some way be filled by hanging out with my Narwhal pal Dave (yes, Dave, shut up, it’s his name), being hand fed popcorn by a helper monkey while we are entertained by scientifically miniaturized goats, all the while knowing that should the need arise I can call on a certain unique ability which my pants have been specifically designed to handle. Would it be enough? Or would I be hiding a certain unanswerable wistfulness from Dave, who I am worried is maybe just a little bit done with me already?

Maybe wanting things without really knowing what you want is all that keeps us going, maybe it’s essential to the human condition, maybe questions like that aren’t enough to convince you my work is New Yorker worthy and I need to drop another name tout suite so you’ll worry that you don’t ‘get’ this as opposed to simply disliking it. Or maybe the French was enough to string you along for another paragraph, which is just about all I’ve got in me in any case.

Maybe it’s all about continuing to look for what you want. You know, the journey, not the destination, all that happy crappy. Or maybe it’s about learning to let go of wanting. It’s one of those two diametrically opposed things, which means you have a fifty-fifty chance, solid true/false quiz odds. Better than multiple choice, right? Statistically? That has to be satisfying.

Except what I think I really want? Is not to have to take the test. And that was one more paragraph than you signed on for. Damn.

Many Words for Snow

More than once over the past month, I have paused while shoveling to catch my breath and try by force of will to stave off the by now inevitable shoveling induced massive coronary event I’m overdue for to consider that old Franz Boaz old chestnut, ‘The Inuit have over fifty words for snow’.

There’s been a great deal of scholarly debate over the years regarding the veracity of this statement and many only slightly smaller debates over who the hell Franz Boaz was and who had to die so he could become king of statements about snow. Apparently he was some sort of very big deal Anthropologist and Linguist and my guess is he could afford to have someone do his shoveling for him. His name rang a dim, college related bell when I found it during a Google search for Eskimo snow words, but a lot of smartypants crap rings a dim college related bell for me, and when it does, I tend to salivate a little and use my hand held remote device to see if any shows I like have new episodes ‘on demand’.

Many scholars believe the Boaz statement to be ‘crap’, and that the Inuit language has at best five words for ‘snow’, roughly the same amount as English. ‘Hold on there, first argument’ the second argument responds, ‘that may or may not be so, but the fact is there are five Eskimo languages, and all of them are very different from our own in terms of tonality definition and lexenes’, two concepts I barely understand but found during the same Google search that yielded the name ‘Franz Boaz’.

Both arguments hold a certain degree of interest, by which I mean they are not interesting at all. More importantly, they both miss the point. It doesn’t matter exactly how many words the Inuit, or all the various Eskimo languages and dialects combined have for snow. The point is they have a bunch, because they see a lot of snow all the time so it holds cultural importance for them and they observe it keenly enough that a large vocabulary is required to adequately describe it. Even if the statement turns out to be technically false, the point is true. If that’s possible. I think it might be.

That being said, it occurred to me that residents of the Northeastern United States living through the record breaking winter of 2015 could learn a lot from our Eskimo cousins, who have basically lived through this winter pretty much every winter they’ve been alive and regard our whining with the sort of contempt usually reserved for people behind bullet proof glass panels during the Nuremberg trials. It was easy, standing there leaning on my shovel, sweating despite the sub zero wind chill and against all odds not dropping immediately dead the way any normal man who cannot do even five ‘lady’ push ups would after shoveling sixteen hours straight without even a pee break, to imagine you nodding your heads in agreement with the sentiment expressed at that beginning of the paragraph which I was imagining or perhaps hallucinating eventually writing. What was not easy to imagine was you looking up the damn Eskimo words on your own, so I’ve done it for you. You can thank me later by shoveling my driveway. I’m not sure there are exactly fifty words. I did not count and I’m not going to. You do it. Do something, for god’s sake.

Qanik snow falling

Aputi snow on the ground

Pukak crystalline snow on the ground

Aniu snow used to make water

Siku icy snow in general

Siku-tik snow so icy it’s pretty much just ice

Nilak freshwater icy snow, for drinking, but melt it first or you’ll choke, ha-ha, 
 EJK (Eskimo just kidding)

Qinu slushy ice by the sea, don’t drink it, it’s sandy and salty, try the nilak, it’s
way better

Kaneq a lot of snow

Kaneq-uk a whole lot of snow

Kaneq-mek so much damn snow it makes Kaneq-uk look like Qanik

Kaneq-il a butt load of snow

Kanevlukk it stopped snow- no wait it’s snowing again

Kanensir that kind of snow where you think it stopped snowing but really you just passed out for a moment or maybe had a little stroke.

Muranuaq the snow that makes you wish you had a time machine so you could go back to last winter and slap the bejesus right out of out of the younger you right after he said ‘I am totally buying a
snow blower before next winter’

Qetrar punk ass tiny bullets of snow that sting the crap out of your face every time
the wind picks up like a friggin’ sand blaster made of ice.

nutaryuk wet, heavy snow that makes you have a heart attack when you shovel it.

Nutvaq light fluffy snow that weighs almost nothing, but so much of it you have a heart attack shoveling it anyway

Nevluk snow the exact whiteness of death, a welcome state known for it’s general lack of shoveling

Q’nyq snow that uses the letter ‘q’ twice but has no ‘u’ in it at all.

Qengaruk God damn snow

Apshupteq F-ing snow

Puqtanukeq Snow that makes you cry and cry and cry while your bastard neighbor runs his monster, industrial snowblower and pretends he can’t hear you and then he has a heart attack and you feel better for a moment until you realize that while you were hunkered down weeping the snow melted right through your jeans and now the place where you remember your ass was is just an ill defined numb area that is nonetheless entirely comprised of hellishly stinging ice bees.

A’qaniak Not so much snow as tiny crystalline heart attacks falling out of the sky by the uncountable bazillions

Muqtekniyak Snowflakes that you know damn well are exactly the same as billions of other snow flakes no
matter what ivory tower eggheads with their armies of shovel-slave grad students tell you.

Fektekmekek Snow that makes you want to pound every a-hole who ever said anything about global warming

Fiktikmikik Snow that makes you want to pound every a-hole who doesn’t understand that ‘global’ warming is ‘global’, not just wherever the hell you live, and so liable to make for
all sorts of changes in local weather including ALL THIS FUCKING SNOW!

Fuktukmukuk Snow that makes you want to pound any old a-hole within pounding distance of your pounder.

Qiq Snow that turns into ‘ice dams’, something you never heard of before this winter and have no idea what to do about beyond vague ‘tips’ you get on the internet, all of which assume you are
eighteen feet tall or able to fly so you can get near enough to theses ‘ice dams’ to do anything more effective than stand in your driveway looking at them through your tears.

Muk Snow of a quality so cutting, hilarious and insightful that you can end a list with it brilliantly enough to distract people from your ‘lazy man’s list based comedy’.

A Brief History of Valentine’s Day

Valentines Day is tomorrow and it’s going to go badly for you. Sorry to be such a ‘downer’, but I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, am I? Significant research I pretend to have read reveals that Valentines Day ends up being a pleasant experience for about Three out of every One Thousand people, and seriously, are you that lucky?

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This lovely Valentine is not for you

Valentine’s day will only go well for a few small, select groups of people. Every couple where each partner loves the other exactly equally and both are perfectly equal in ability to select pleasing gifts and cards and have perfect knowledge of their partners feeling about surprises as opposed to what they have previously led you to believe were their feelings about surprise will have a nice holiday. Add to that one half of all the people who will end up getting pity sex from a unexpected source, and keep in mind that their happiness is only going to last between five and ten minutes. Everyone else will run the gamut from slightly uneasy to suicide.

That’s being said, lets take a quick look at the history of this happy, happy day.

Valentine’s Day contains vestiges of traditions both Christian and Roman, from whom they stole many of their best ideas like Aqueducts, rigid hierarchy and nifty ways to persecute people with different belief systems.

Legend has it the historical Saint Valentine was a Christian Priest living in Third century Rome. The Emperor at that time, Claudius II, had commissioned a military study and after pretending to read it came to the conclusion that single men made much better soldiers than married men in that there wives weren’t all the time reminding them not to die. In what is now sited by many as the birth of modern political science, Claudius II, whose critic accused him of being ‘soft’ on ‘Visigoths’, outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine defied the Emperor’s decree and continued to marry young lovers in secret, until he was advised that as a Priest he was not allowed to marry at all, no matter how secretly. He then began marrying young couples he was not a member of, until he recalled Christ’s dictum: “Not so much with the polygamy” at which point he hit upon the idea of marrying two young people to each other, neither one of them being him. Claudius found out and was so displeased he had Valentine imprisoned, stoned to death, and then on February 14’Th, 207 AD., beheaded. This may be why so many of us feel like ripping our heads off every Valentines Day, but sadly, there’s more to the story.

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Saint Valentine masked chronic social anxiety disorder by hiding in urinals

During Valentine’s imprisonment, he was visited by the jailer’s daughter, and the two fell in love. The story goes he signed his letters to her, “… Your Valentine”, but it’s far more likely his letters were mostly signed “Please try really hard to talk your father out of cutting my head off.” Try putting that on a card sometime and you’ll see why greeting card companies went with the whole ‘your Valentine’ thing.

On an interesting side note, in 1835 the remains of Saint Valentine were given to an Irish Priest named Father John Spratt by Pope Gregory the XVI after Spratt impressed the Pope with his impassioned preaching, or perhaps because who really wants that kind of stuff lying around anyway? The gift, in a black and gold casket, can be viewed every Valentine’s day at the Whitefriar street church in Dublin, unless they were kidding about that. Note to intrepid tourists, the receptacle next to the saints’ remains is a ‘Font’ and not a ‘conveniently placed bucket for those who find ancient mortal remains nauseating’.

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Pope Gregory XVI’s dour countenance hid the delight he took in gifting visiting pilgrims with desiccated human body parts

Should you find exchanging love tokens on the anniversary of a beheading less than pleasant, there’s always the possibility that it’s just a coincidence. The Catholic church may have chosen mid February for the saint’s day to co-opt the already existing Roman festival of Lupercalia, the festival of wolves doing something it’s best not to interrupt.

Lupercalia, which began February fifteenth, was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture and doin’ it, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus (after whom Rome is named) and Remus (allegedly a polite request on the part of the peasants, but it would probably have happened anyway.)

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This classic Roman Bronze depicts something you should totally not let babies do

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, (literally ‘wolf voyeurs’) an order of Roman priests, would gather at the sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would then sacrifice a goat, for fertility, a dog, for purification, and a vagrant, for fun. Young boys then sliced the goat’s hide into strips, dipped them in the sacrificial blood and took to the streets, gently slapping both women and fields of crops with the goathide strips, mostly because you can’t make this shit up. Roman women of the day welcomed being touched by the bloody hides, as it was believed they conveyed fertility, and also because all the bread they ate was contaminated with ergot fungus which makes you just about as crazy as an outhouse weasel and likely to do any old thing.

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The festival of Lupercalia. Gooooood times.

Later in the day, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would then each choose a name out of the urn and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. This often led to marriage, but more often to scabies, chiggers and ‘accidental’ death.

During the middle ages it was commonly believed that February 14 was the beginning of bird’s mating season and everybody knows the only thing more romantic than watching birds copulate is being lovingly stroked with a bloody goat carcass.

The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt. It closed with the immortal lines
‘PS. Please, please try really hard to get the king to not cut off my head’

Valentines day began to be popularly celebrated (i.e. no bloody goat carcasses involved) in Great Britain in the late 17’Th century. By the middle of the Eighteenth century, it had become common for friends and lovers to exchange tokens of affection and hand written notes often pleading for pity sex. Soon, rapidly developing printing technology made mass-produced greetings available and affordable, though if you disliked Barbie, Disney Princesses, Spiderman, Batman or Star Wars you were what the Elizabethans called “Phucked”.

Cupid, the child like winged deity often associated with modern Valentine’s Day celebrations, is the son of Venus, Roman Goddess of love. In Greek Mythology, Cupid is known as Eros, child of Aphrodite. Why present day lovers associate a fat, naked, flying baby with romance is anybodies guess, although a quick Google search for any word at all with the ‘safe search’ feature off lets us know people are willing to sexualize pretty much anything.

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Seriously, this is what lights your candle? Where are you from, Tennessee?

Today’s Valentine’s celebration is mostly about making school children give cards to everyone in their class, as if this will somehow keep the children everyone hates from knowing everyone hates them. Valentine’s day can also be employed effectively as a bribe, threat or both. In the USA, 17 Gabajazillion Valentines cards are sold every year by front companies for the military industrial complex, who use all of the proceeds to research death rays, freeze rays, shrink rays, and other rays too nasty to mention, so go ahead, try to be romantic. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.