Friday, August 22, 2008

Understanding Homer

Are you mad! You did what!? You willingly put that...that THING... into your mouth and swallowed! What are you? Some kind of self-destructive, sicko-pervert, twisted, glazed, custard-filled, fried fruit fritter freak? Step away from the bar. That's right, the maple bar.

Let's step back...oops, pardon me, Officer, sir...and take a closer look at the crime scene. A glass case, covered with fingerprints. A box that dispenses wax paper squares. A smiling counter clerk with one hand on a yet to be unfolded box and the other hand on a yet to be unfolded white paper bag. So what's it gonna be? One or two (or three) in a pristine white bag? Or a dozen...make that a baker's the box. If you buy the bag, you are admitting your guilt when you walk out the door. "Yeah, I bought three but I ate one before I got back to the car, so technically I ate two. And no one saw me, so one."

If you buy the box...sure it's a better deal, do the math...but the value is in the volume. They are not for you, they're for the gals in the office, the work crew, your kids, their teachers...the Others. And here's the beauty part, the box only holds twelve, so that baker's so called dozenth donut, went into an innocent, little white bag. You can eat it before you get back to the car and if no one saw you, who's to call it a crime? Back at the office of course, you can come clean. That is to say, you can wipe the sugar off your chin, and grab "just one".

But wait! What kind of pig eats an entire donut? No one, except that pale, skinny guy in the "I [lightning bolt] Jolt" T-shirt. He eats two, in four bites, and doesn't bother to wipe the sugar off his chin because he's saving that for his lunch. So you cut them into halves or maybe even quarters. And you put a little stack of crispy white napkins next to the box. Sure, they're little now, but if you unfold them, and stack two together, they're the Chinet of stealth snackers world over. Your grandma could fit a whole basket of dinner rolls into a paper napkin strategically folded, and still have room for the foil wrapped butter pats.

Where you put the box requires some strategic planning. Should you put it in the break room, on your desk, under your desk? Heavens (and by that we mean Hell) no. You walk around the office offering them to people. Starting, of course, with the thin ones, the vegans, the gays. They won't take even so much as a quarter. They just ate...a hyoooge Breakfast Salad, consisting of a tablespoon of plain acidophilus yogurt, an organic peach slice, 5 wild Maine blueberries, and nine flaxseed and wheat germ granola buds. "If I ate that I think I'd have to hurl"...which is sad, because it is also true. (Do they really think we don't know?)

So you move on to the next tier: Guys who work out and single women. He's crunching the numbers, "How many crunches would I have to do to work off two quarters of the plain cake?" She's trying to remember the last time she had sex, and thinking, "Oh no! I can't even remember the last time I had sex! What if the last time I had sex was the last time I will EVER have sex, and I missed it! I'll just take a little piece of each."

The last group, which includes you, has no qualms about eating deep-fried white flour and sugar-coated heart attack bombs. These seasoned donut-eaters know to layer three napkins, and they take two more for their face and hands, because through experience they have learned how to use coffee to make moistened towelettes. They are silently annoyed that you cut them up, but they know why you did. Still, they take advantage of the system and take one quarter of each kind, knowing full well that by 4 o'clock the remaining stray rejects will become victims of drive-by chocolate coconut poppers, so dried out that no one will even bother to use the cut side to gather up the loose droppings of sugar, frosting and sprinkles littering the bottom of the box.

It's a sad end to a glorious journey from vat of boiling oil to permanent exile in the lily white ass of a post-menopausal, divorcee with no recollection of having had sex...ever. The good news is, while there are still donuts in the world, who's complaining? Not me, Officer.

On the other hand, if you're young, lean, single, fit and healthy, go to "Heaven"! Kidding. Just say NO. It's white flour, mixed with white sugar, and fried in hot fat. How much more evidence do you need to convict this brutal criminal element waddling free in our society. Did it occur to you that cops hang out in donut shops because donuts are a crime in progress? Yeah, I thought as much. And if you remain unconvinced, and still want to eat one harmless little donut, try this mental aversion technique: Imagine whirring the donut in a blender, and drinking it. Yes, you may go and hurl now.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Freedom AND Information: How Much is TOO Much?

The Freedom of Information Act. It's what makes America great. ONE of the things, anyway. The underpinnings of it are that We, The People like to have facts that help us choose. Our right to choose is as dear to us as the right to know. The Constitution grants us neither. Ah, but the Internet, grants us BOTH!

In the loosie-goosie sense of the word, not the legal-eagle sense, we have the "right" to send information to the internet for all the world to read. And we also have the right to choose what to read, and perhaps more important what NOT to read.

Here's where you separate the muck from the duck. There is so much...make that soooooo much much much...out there to read, or not read, that we have been forced to apply filters to our lives to shield us from an informational tsunami. And the filters aren't working.

The filters, like the filters on a swimming pool, can only remove the innocent little leaves and papery petals that are sucked into that little trap door on the side of the pool. The wasps and yellow jackets, and those tiny black "dirty bastard bitey bugs" as my friends and I have dubbed them, land in the water, right next to us--and they'll have hours of opportunity to sting us-- or bite us, which is it-- before they meet their eventual fate. And so it is with the wordy bastard bitey bugs that land next to us as we float idly along in front of our televisions and computers. We have the technology to filter the flotsam from the jetsam, but we can't seem to keep out the stuff that truly bugs us. In case you were wondering, flotsam is stuff floating in the water, jetsam is stuff someone threw overboard. Wonder no more.

Television commercials are jetsam, like colorful beach balls and inflatable pool toys thrown from a party boat--crazy good fun, sometimes not a good fit for you, but a great fit for someone else. They pop easily, but they were cheap in the first place. Sometimes the jetsam is from a corporate yacht--expensive, custom tailored life jackets offering security and long wear. But here's the thing with commercials: the boat owner is paying for your entertainment. Without commercials, there would be no boat, no toys, nothing.

Computer "commercials" are another kind of jetsam entirely. For one, spam-gangers don't need to provide the boat, the toys, the entertainment or the life preservers. They just toss a big ol' nasty mess overboard guessing someone is bound to mistake the net for a rope. And it must be working, because they keep throwing crud over the side. And someone keeps grabbing the rope.

What should we do? As much as we might like to stay ashore and not get our feet wet, we cannot. The sea level is rising, and soon there will be no shore. In preparation for this eventuality, how about learning to swim through the innocent little leaves in the great unfiltered sea of information? Then, how about finding a way to scoop out the dirty bastard bitey bugs before they can sting us. And finally, how's about learning to discern the difference between a net and a rope. Because sometimes the thing thrown off the boat actually IS a life saver, and if you don't grab on to it, you surely will sink.

If you're 80 years or older--and in hospice--you can stay ashore. If you're reading this, grab your scuba gear. Next stop Waterworld.