Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: A Courtesy Flush for George

I do not normally editorialize here because it is not an editorial page. However recent events have moved me to speak on the death of George Carlin. I let time pass, respecting the man’s decision. Now, a month removed, I am still overcome by the magnitude of what may be the worst move of his career.

For one, his death exposed flaws in Mr. Carlin’s morality. In one track of his “Back in Town” CD, Mr. Carlin mocked the deaths of Benito Mussolini, John F. Kennedy, and the comedy duo of Abbott and Costello – men of his own trade. In other performances Mr. Carlin mocked death in general, including death by strangulation, gunfire, plane crash, terrorism and war. Dying himself shows Mr. Carlin to be a huge hypocrite.

Mr. Carlin was not afraid of risky career moves. He gambled with his safety in breaking public decency laws in favor of free speech and cuss words. His bold use of caustic language and bawdy character was highly original to audiences that hadn’t seen Lenny Bruce, and made him a star.

In one particular bit, “Seven Words You Can’t Say on Television,” Mr. Carlin recited and examined the seven major bad words. He was arrested. A year later, he was famous. That bit even caused this writer to re-examine why words like “fuck,” which is the beginning of life, should be used to hurt others. So one can appreciate why he might think seemingly insane career moves would be beneficial.

One risky move came late. Originally Mr. Carlin found funny things about unacceptable language, and wove unacceptable language around funny things. This inspired thousands of young stand-up comedians who thought swearing itself was funny and so went on to just say a lot of offensive shit. In the later stages of his career Mr. Carlin saw his relevance waning in comparison to these idiots he'd helped create. Not content merely to inspire, Mr. Carlin became one of them. He was a man of the people.

Being a comedy legend only to have Dane Cook outsell every album you’ve ever pressed would force a lot of people to do drastic things. But is dying worth it? It got him onto CNN and made him the talk of NPR, but in a few years when he doesn’t have any new books or CD’s coming out, what will Mr. Carlin do then? Decompose? That is undignified even for a grown man who once got an entire theatre to attempt armpit farts.

Please, Mr. Carlin: rethink your juvenile decision. We’ll work something out.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: At Least the Road out of Hell is Paved

Ezekial cackled and ruffled his visitor’s hair, “Those doors are always open! It wouldn’t be Hell if you couldn’t see the way out.”

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Bitch, Please

Our language has sexual conjugations. “He” and “she.” “His” and “hers.” “Asshole” and “bitch.” Many people don’t understand the latter, but “bitch” absolutely is the feminine of “asshole.” In any case of bitchyness you can exchange a man for the woman and swap out the feminine derogative with its masculine and find it works perfectly. Observe:

“Barb is being a total bitch today.”


“Bob is being a total asshole today.”

It’s seamless.

Such a conjugation, a veritable conjugal visit of nouns, should help take the stigma off of “bitch.” The vast majority of speakers mean no particular epithet against her gender – indeed, they haven’t even put that much thought into it. It is merely a general negative, tailored specifically to demean you, not based on what lies between your legs, but based on your actions and your character. Bitch is the “brava” to asshole’s “bravo.”

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Every Passing Generation

"The world is all sluts and science today. In a century we'll all use cloning, and those who want to give birth will do so in painless, antiseptic processes, following artificial insemination. Sex itself will be purely recreational, if it isn't already. It strikes me that the surprising thing about the next virgin birth will be that there was still a virgin around. "

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Admissions About Literature

-The first time I read Richard Matheson’s “Duel” was on a train. A third of the way through the story, I looked behind me to see if a truck was following.
-I cried reading the ending of Lord of the Rings… for the sixth time. I was fine the first five times.
-The first and only time I’ve read John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath from end to end wasn’t actually reading at all, but listening to it on audio cassettes while playing WWF: No Mercy on the Nintendo 64, day after day during a Spring break in high school. That’d teach my A.P. English teacher to assign a giant tome over vacation.
-Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass was the first book I recognized as too deep and required putting off until I was older (until then I only ran into books that were full of crap).
-Erma Bombeck’s humorous column about handling a prosthetic breast was my introduction to cancer.
-I spent my entire first read through J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye wishing it would go faster so I could start Thomas Harris’s Hannibal Lecter series. My next homework assignment featured a droll Holden Caulfield strolling through various scenes of Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs, too passive, cynical and full of himself to be interested or afraid. My teacher did not give me credit for the assignment. This began my three-year struggle with the definition of “parody.”
-I thought Terry Pratchett was a girl and J.K. Rowling was a guy.
-I read Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret (okay, again listened to the audiobook) several times during my adolescence and pubescence. I understood it less as I got older.
-Dean Koontz’s Fear Nothing is the only book I’ve thrown across the room three times. It holds first place for fiction throwing, but second place for all books, behind the nine times I’ve thrown one particular book of Sudoku across the room.
-I still mix up whether Ethan Frome or Edith Wharton was the author.
-I took Dante’s Inferno out into the middle of a windy field as a thunderstorm was setting in and tried reading some of the descriptions of torments, to see how it would feel. It was really damned cool.
-I don’t remember the title of the first book I finished and immediately went back to the first page to re-read, but it was about dinosaurs.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Pit Stop at La Guardia Airport, OR, No Foot-binding Jokes Allowed

Did you see that blonde Asian girl back there? Her walk worries me. She’s wearing heels far too high for her body. Sure her legs look great, but they also look ready to snap off at any moment. From her amiable expression, I doubt she realizes we can see her garters with every step. And her steps – it looks like she’s hiking through brittle snow. How she stumbles.… Her foot doesn’t rest when it touches the ground, but shifts or makes a small stumble. An inelegant microstumble. It forces her to lurch, her feet looking for proper purchase. When she stops her toes push together, forming a right angle with her feet. She keeps shifting, but doesn’t so much as frown. Can she enjoy this?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Behold, the King of Kings

He is The God of Gods, a being so awesome you even have to capitalize the ‘T’ in “The.” If the gods don’t properly worship the God of Gods, they can expect their followers to be obliterated by meteors, raped by the Huns, or raped by meteors. The God of Gods thinks meteor-rape is very funny. He delights in making up utterly impossible things that the regular gods will spend all eternity trying to pass off as plausible to the mortals.

And yes, while the ‘g’ in “gods” is normally lower case, you have to make it uppercase for Him, too. The ‘o’ in “of” is only lowercase to keep deities on their toes.

What’s that you say? Of course there’s a God of Gods. There’s a god of war and a goddess of love. Somewhere there’s a god of swimwear and sports equipment (we hear Apollo is vying for the position). Gods have subjects, but the gods themselves are subjects – and He is the subject matter. The God of Gods is the big kahuna. The entity That doesn’t have to do anything It doesn’t want to. He doesn’t have to trouble with war, love or swimwear – He troubles with the gods, which He finds very funny.

The God of Gods is not as popular as you might think. Gods, of course, exist on faith. They sup on belief. So you’d think His omnipotent fellows would worship their Patron, but they don’t. Some are even so full of themselves that they call Him an allegory, and they’re only nice about Him when they think He’s in earshot. You’d think a bunch of nigh-omniscient entities would realize an omnipresent transcendent entity is always within earshot, but being a god makes your sense of reverence rusty. Perhaps they’ll get it eventually, at which point He’ll finally stop that entropy thing He’s been doing since someone first had the temerity of asking for a light when He was napping.
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