I Reveal My Inmost Self …

I am traveling currently and lodging for a couple of nights at a hotel where I have stayed many times before. They usually have a decent breakfast buffet, and I was looking forward to the offerings this morning.

Alas, the regular fare was replaced by pre-packaged muffins, plastic-wrapped fruit, and packets of instant oatmeal. I had to wait in line to dispense myself a cup of coffee from an urn. All around were my co-lodgers, masked and ultra-cautious, their every motion slowed somehow by their facewear. I felt like I was attending a bandito convention. All I wanted was my morning jolt, and it seemed to take forever.

It occurred to me that the handle for the spigot of the coffee urn was getting touched over and over by unsanitized hands, which same hands would soon peel bananas, uncup muffins, remove masks, and stuff cakeholes. An exercise in hygienic futility. We sat down in turn, properly distanced at our tables in the dining area. Off came the masks, and with them whatever minuscule health benefit they could have conferred towards one another.

As I watched masks being peeled away and actual faces emerge, I could not help but remember this scene from a B-movie of my youth … Continue reading “I Reveal My Inmost Self …”

Imagine There’s No Wizard

A question has dominated my thought for a long while now. In this theatrical illusion that is the modern world, who is the Man Behind the Curtain?

Different sites denounce different bad guys. Illuminati. Freemasons. The old aristocratic bloodlines. Bankers. The Vatican. Jews. Or some other tribe of Super-Semites. Putin. Reptilians. Cultural Marxists … Alas, it is an embarrassment of riches.  It can’t be all these groups (real or imagined) working together.  Because the world doesn’t work like that: in human affairs, cooperation is a limited commodity with a short half-life.  Continue reading “Imagine There’s No Wizard”

iSpy?

This is neither theory nor opinion. I am merely recounting an experience for you to ponder.

I had a brief meeting the other day with an acquaintance who holds a fairly high position in local government. Our chat was mostly pleasantries, and so I did not broach the topic that was at the forefront of my mind from the moment I walked into his office: namely, the piece of electrical tape over his monitor’s camera lens.

I don’t know how I noticed it—it Continue reading “iSpy?”

“ … Into the Desert, Seeking Rest But Finding None …”

This story is not the usual POM fare. Where it properly belongs I could not say. If it is not your cup of tea, skip it. I have never told this tale to anyone except my wife. Believe it or don’t, that’s up to you. But every detail is true, down to the last.

Especially the last …

The year was 1994 or 1995.  I cannot say which for sure; maybe 1996, even.  The salient point is that it occurred back in the day when airlines gave big price breaks if you stayed over a Saturday night, so that it was often cheaper to pay for an extra couple days’ worth of hotels and meals than to fly home on the Friday evening of a business trip.  And for that reason my normally stingy company gave me some leisure time on the West coast, such as I could never have swung on my own budget.

Continue reading ““ … Into the Desert, Seeking Rest But Finding None …””

Snake-Oil Salesmen vs. Snake Oil-Salesmen, Part 1

The black-banded sea krait

Snake oil actually works.

Did you know that? I didn’t until recently. “Snake oil” has become a byword for useless and even harmful products that are marketed on the basis of false claims. When you call something “snake oil,” you’re saying it doesn’t live up to its hype.  There is a lot of snake oil in modern life: spiritual snake oil, political snake oil, organizational and corporate snake oil, even conspiracy theory snake oil.  Bullshit abounds under many brand names.

Except … actual snake oil, which really does work. Confused? Stay with me. Continue reading “Snake-Oil Salesmen vs. Snake Oil-Salesmen, Part 1”

Otohelminthiasis—Part 4: Coda … Enjoying Your Music Fast

My huckleberry friends

Play it again, Sam.  And again.  And again.  And again. 

Recently I had the chance to borrow a friend’s vacation home on an island. It was a great break, very refreshing … up until the drive home. It was a long one, most of a day. I left around 4 am and kept going until midnight.

I am not normally one to listen to music in the car, but around 6 pm I needed something upbeat just to ensure that drowsiness didn’t set it. The car I was using happened to have satellite radio, so I began to explore the range of channels. Most of them weren’t my cup of tea, but I did find a sequence of stations playing pop music by decade: ‘50s, ‘60s, ‘70s, ‘80s, ‘90s, and one called Pop2K for the years after that. The last four stations were the ones that I focused on, since I was listening to the radio still in those decades, and it was kind of fun to take a drive down Memory Lane.

I would switch from ‘70s to ‘80s to ‘90s to ‘00s music continually until I found an oldie that I enjoyed. Often there was nothing for several minutes that I recognized, so I sat and studied the differences between the decades—acoustic guitar gave way to electric guitar gave way to synthesizers, and then acoustic guitar came back around with the new millennium.

But something else struck my ear. Continue reading “Otohelminthiasis—Part 4: Coda … Enjoying Your Music Fast”

Otohelminthiasis—Part 3: Twitty Feed

Have you been taking your state-approved gullibility pills?  Let’s take a test to see how effective your dosage is …

The High Priest of Country Music

This was the sobriquet of a performer who had fifty-five #1 singles in his career, of whom Wikipedia says that he:

… was an American country music singer. He also had success in the rock and roll, rock, R&B, and pop genres. … Although never a member of the Grand Ole Opry, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.

You know who I mean.  Let’s bring him out now.  Ladies and gentleman, Mr. Harold Lloyd Jenkins! Continue reading “Otohelminthiasis—Part 3: Twitty Feed”

Otohelminthiasis—Part 2: Not Quite My Tempo …

Peter Schickele once quipped that the lute is a beautiful instrument, but that you won’t hear it if there is another instrument in the room—even if the other instrument isn’t actually being played! One seldom hears lute music on classical music programs, probably for this very reason: the delicate sound of the lute is simply not “good radio,” in the same way that a chess match would not be “good TV.”

Transmission

In his marvelous monograph, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television, Jerry Mander develops many fascinating points, one of which is: it is in the very nature of the medium to exclude certain kinds of experiences from public attention. Television takes a three-dimensional reality and flattens it into the two dimensions of a screen. Subtleties are easily lost. The senses of touch, smell, and taste are eliminated. Only that which is outsized and overly-dramatic makes for interesting programming: tight shots of faces, fast-paced action, conflict, and exaggerated sexuality. Events full of nuance that might be compelling when witnessed in person lose their luster when televised. A moonrise in the desert, a child and a dog napping together, the waves at the beach—there is no cable channel for these things, unless they were to get juiced up with a soundtrack or frequent jumps to new angles. TV is best for conveying scenes of strife and passionate sex, sports or violence. Continue reading “Otohelminthiasis—Part 2: Not Quite My Tempo …”

Otohelminthiasis—Introduction: That Damn’d Ole Opry

I’ve been MIA here at POM over the last couple of months due to an unusually heavy schedule of business travel.  A couple of Saturdays back, on the final day of my last trip, I woke up feeling great.  I had slept well (rare for me in a hotel), the constant rain of the previous few days had let up and the sky was bright blue.  Above all, once I completed my morning commitment, I would be on my way home.  I was walking on sunshine …

I ran down to the car to fetch my dress shoes.  It was a short walk from my room, down the elevator, through the lobby, and over to my car in the parking lot.  By the time I got to my car, I was in a blue funk.  “Dear Lord!” I thought, “What just happened?”

I paused for a moment to analyze this sudden emotional turn.  Soon enough I determined the reason: the clue was the echo in my mind’s ear of the song that has been playing in the lobby.  Continue reading “Otohelminthiasis—Introduction: That Damn’d Ole Opry”