Saturday, October 31, 2015

Mixed Messages

I am a consumer of bumper stickers. The vox populi fascinates me. (The all-weather, car wash safe, guaranteed not to fade edition, anyway.)

If there is an upside to being in a traffic jam, it's the opportunity to read dozens, if not hundreds of them. Of course, if your zip code skews more to Bentleys than ten-year-old Subarus, this might not be the case.

They can be poignant: Practice Random Acts of Kindness. And Senseless Acts of Beauty.

And they can be funny: Watch Out for the Idiot Behind Me. My Karma Ran Over Your Dogma.

So little is mirthful about the act of driving that I cherish any and all opportunities for behind the wheel belly laughs.

Of course, in twenty-first century America, not all is gaiety and light. Bumper stickers often take a darker and far-uglier turn than the examples cited above.

The prize for general, one-size-fits-all hostility probably goes to the pick-up truck with Fuck You Dickhead plastered in its rear window.

On multi-stickered vehicles, there is usually a line of continuity indicating interests, opinions and so on. Sports team affiliations, bands, politics and social causes are some of the most popular.

Then there are the mixed messages.

Like the late-model Nissan Sentra I sat behind at a traffic signal. On the driver's side was a bumper sticker which read Gas Grass or Ass Nobody Rides for Free. On the passenger side sat one informing me in bright pink letters there was a Baby on Board.

I pondered the disparity.

Was this parent really picking up hitch-hikers and demanding herbal intoxicants and physical intimacies from them? Did one sticker represent a husband/boyfriend and the other a wife/girlfriend? And were they still a couple?

As I continued to try and reconcile the adhesive anomaly in front of me, I wondered whether taking gas money from a stranger in the presence of an infant really represented sound parenting.

Then revelation struck.This was a work in progress! 

The bumper stickers had captured this driver in mid-transition, in between the feckless, cocksure arrogance of youth and the onset of caring, nurturing parenthood.

Yeah, that was it. 

The light turned green and I continued on my way. As did the Nissan Sentra. 

I hoped I had it right.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

The Inevitable Post

Included in a flier I received earlier this week was an electric wine chiller, able to cool a bottle of wine to an ideal fifty-five degrees in just minutes. A remarkable—if not particularly versatile—device.

I checked its dimensions, and was disappointed to discover that it was not much larger than a standard wine bottle.

Disappointed because I thought that perhaps one of the area's professional baseball teams had fallen into, or become otherwise enmeshed in such a device, such was the rapidity and thoroughness of their cooling-off.

Sadly, this was not the case.

My hometown heroes did it all by themselves, as they have so many, many times before. 

While this team was often described as being youthfully ignorant of their employer's grim post-season history, the series against the New York Mets represented a compact, thirty-six inning history lesson.

The look on Kyle Schwarber's face after a botched fly ball in the seventh inning of game three indicated instant enlightenment.

But they are young, these Cubs, and have the balance of their professional lives ahead of them. Yet the annals of professional sports are full of careers that encountered such success early on, never to be repeated.

Existence is ephemeral. You never know when you've done something for the last time. 

When possible, win now.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Pathos on Ice

I am trying to measure pathos. The pathos involved in the president of a very large and very powerful nation hosting a birthday party slash hockey game with former NHL all-stars. One concocted to feature the five-foot-seven, sixty-three year-old birthday boy presumably fighting his way through more-talented (and much-younger) opposition to *cough* score seven goals. 

All on national TV, of course.

It's tough. I mean, do rulers come in extra large?

If Vladimir Putin riding a stallion shirtless through the Russian countryside wasn't sad enough, attempting to hoodwink us into believing he's a geriatric Wayne Gretzky is beyond the pale. I think we can all agree Putin is no Gretzky. 

Never mind Fabio.

What's next for Russia's most-famous case of small man syndrome? A figure-skating routine at the 2018 winter Olympics in Pyeongchang? A leading role in an upcoming Bolshoi production of Swan Lake?

If the Los Angeles Lakers haven't turned things around by then, could Putin take a turn at point guard next year? Would Jerry Jones step aside and allow Putin to be Dallas Cowboy GM for a day? Is center-fielder for the Yankees too far-fetched?

Using the late, great George Plimpton as a template, why doesn't one of Hollywood's production studios create a reality TV show based on the exploits of the ubiquitous Vladimir? Call it Vladimir Putin: Extreme Temp. Or Vladimir Putin Eats Your Job.

And if that's a hit, how about a movie based on Forrest Gump which inserts Putin into important events throughout time? We can watch Putin re-write history as he “inVlades” (copyright pending) nations the world over and bombs, bombs, bombs.

Anyone hear a hit single there? A profitable ring tone?

However fetching President Putin might look in a leotard and ballet flats, what I find truly fascinating is his bottomless need for adoration. 

What happens when he can't get enough?

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Sky Jewelry

So there you are. It's Saturday morning, and after unconsciously setting up a pot of coffee you stumble into the garage and hit the wall-mounted button for the garage door opener.

The noisy clatter of the door, the harsh light of the naked bulb and the unseemly clutter do not prepare you for what awaits as you step outside to fetch the paper from the driveway.

There, against a sky suitable for a Maxfield Parrish print, hangs a crescent moon, Venus and Mars, arrayed like an astral earring

The contrast to the mindless mundanity of your morning routine could not be more pronounced. The colors, the simplicity and the resonant, silent beauty of it all renders you mute.

You stare.

Paper in hand, you reflect on nature's repeated ability to inspire and surprise you. To fill you with a very rare commodity called wonder.

Then you recall Pope Francis' half-heard cry to protect this jewel called Earth, and the willful, short-sighted greed and selfishness which will destroy it.

You close the door behind you. But only literally.