No Day Is A School Holiday

Because we all go to several schools.

We may pass our time in primary school and high school when we are young and hang out every week day for the weekend…thinking that we’ll be out of school on Saturday and Sunday. Wrong – we just go from one learning environment to another. If we are lucky we never see the seam between school learning and home learning.

Take an example. We learn how to do cooking in Home Economics in school. We practice it at home as soon as we can. We fail miserably, and then we fail partially, then occasionally, and then not at all. We’ve learned the theory and gained the knowledge – time to move on to the next failure.

Or a more academic subject: mathematics. We can struggle through geometry for years and then bring it home to our shed and then instinctively use it to find the centre of a piece of wood for the turning lathe. We can go blank in algebra and then all of a sudden find ourself using it to apportion paint to walls. Learn, do, no gap.

Even if there are no striking examples of learning on the holidays, we still discover how personal interactions do or don’t succeed. We travel and are gawping students wherever we go. We work at a vacation job that has more complexity than the moon launch.

Learning. In school, out of school, night and day. And none of us need be afraid of it at all.

 

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Up. On. Off. Coffee.

Did a talk yesterday to an audience in the old folk’s home. It was easier than I thought it was going to be because I’m also one of the old folks – and my audience was prepared to listen to me.

Public speaking is a lot of fun:

a. If you have something to say.

b. Someone will listen.

c. They serve coffee and cake afterwards.

You can make it work if you take the advice of the title. Get up, get on, then get off. If you are lucky you can also get away, though for some audiences I would advise a smoke screen and plenty of jinking.

I had a good introduction from someone who was a former patient and who still had enough teeth to talk with. I gave a 20-minute show covering two main ideas, and this was enough time to engage them with a question, satisfy them with an answer, and then shut up before they became restless. There were enough visual aids to engage their eyesight – without having to look at a charts or words on a screen. There were familiar things as well as new items.

And there was coffee and cake afterwards. You can dissolve a lot of impatience with morning coffee.

 

 

I’m Offended

I’m offended:

a. That you have posted a picture of the American president. It doesn’t matter whether you love him or hate him…it just gives me an opportunity to be offended, and I’m going to take it. Had you not posted one, I would be equally offended.

I’m a double-acting scream engine…

b. That you are a different race/religion/sex than I am. And that you know it. And are not apologetic for the fact. Not that I would be prepared to accept an apology from the likes of you…

c. Because of history. Not yours or mine, as such…just history. Oooh that history!

d. That you think I am a fool. And that being a fool is somehow wrong…or foolish. I have a constitutional right to be a fool and you are required to validate my folly. I’ll sue you if you don’t validate me. And then I’ll sue your lawyer – and mine for good measure.

e. Aww, C’mon. At least validate my parking ticket. I’ve been here for an hour.

f. That you do not respect the flag. Or the badge. Or the coupon, post-it note, or phone number that my uncle wrote down on the wall.

g. Continuously. 24 hours a day all through the year. It’s a calling and a profession and I am proud to be angry at you all the time. For God’s sake don’t do anything nice or I’ll look bad…

h. That you have taken offence…at anything. Least of all, at me. Leave that alone. That’s my schtick. Get your own. You’re culturally appropriating me with your eyes. My culture is up here…

i. Because of what you said. Even if you did not say it, I read it on a Facebook meme. You could have said it. Shame on you.

j. Because all my friends are offended and it would be offensive not to join with them.

k. By statues. I’ve already got rid of Robert E. Lee and Nathan Bedford Forrest and I’ve got my sights on the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens. Friedrich the Great in Potsdam and the Sphinx had better watch out, too.

l. Because there’s a lot of good free stuff you can get if you make enough of a fuss.

m. Because there’s a lot of bad stuff you can avoid being found responsible for if you make enough of a fuss.

Note: This column was not meant to cause offence. Or, for that matter, defence. Perhaps if you are offended and defensive right now you may be reading the wrong writer.

 

 

Morality Plays Upon The Phosphor Screen

The medieval morality play was a religious exhortation tricked up into a theatrical form. Most European nations did not have television in the 1200’s ( Though apparently it was invented by the Russians in 1068 according to the late Soviet regime…) and the peasants did not understand the words of the Latin Mass. So travelling shows and church festivals used plays to entertain and instruct.

The various kings, dukes, earls, barons, and sheriffs used the axe and the rope to instruct, as well. It was not until the late 1700’s that a French doctor was able to return the compliment with a mechanical device.

But we are straying from the topic; morality played out or taught on the computer screen. It’s not just done by means of Hollywood crime dramas – sometimes it is in simpler form. Sometimes all that is required is  a crusading cartoonist or someone who likes to put memes onto Facebook. I see both of these daily – and while they do not form or reform my mind, I can see that they might do so for others.

Take the case of ” Sinfest ” – a rather well-drawn daily strip by a chap in America that has been going for over a decade. It features very stylish art and some quite novel concepts of God, the devil, supernatural beings, Time, etc. It sounds moralistic, and it is moralistic, but the longevity of it shows that there is a market for its biased view of the world. If you are a bad person it castigates you and if you are good one it praises you…but the thought eventually must arise in the mind of the viewer that the artist is putting himself forward as  the sole judge of good and bad. If his pronouncements are a little puerile they are at least redeemed by the pretty drawings.

” Least I can Do ” is also successful and enjoyable…and equally as plonking in some cases, though there is a different form of puerility evident – the writer delights in shocking the viewer if he can. At least the artist is a brilliant illustrator. Still, when the tenor of the strip gets political and snarky with it…you wonder whether the fun is worth the scolding.

If you go off and google the strips and follow them for a while you’ll probably see what I mean. In a way, they are no worse than Lil’ Abner was when Al Capp decided to beat his political drum.

The Facebook meme is the one that has me reaching for the mouse most times. I do understand that people like to score points by appearing smart and trendy, but I would be more likely to award them this opinion if the things they had to say were from their own mind, instead of being a parrot squawk of someone else’s prepared smarminess. But that would expose them to criticism of themselves, rather than of the anonymous source… Now that we have 30-day ” rest ” periods for the worst offenders, I can read the social media with more pleasure.

 

A Note to Friends: We Are Enemies

If you have no friends – and unfortunately there are some people who don’t – you can still have enemies. They may take the place of friends and provide you with as much pleasure and reason for being as the happier relationships.

In some respects they are a cheaper option – you needn’t wine or dine them and no birthday or Christmas presents are needed. No petrol need be expended in visits, unless you elect to stalk them late at night. You’ll never be called to collect them from the city watch house.

On the other hand, you’ll need to spend more on tranquilizers, antidepressants, and laxatives to cope with a large circle of enemies. If you have really made some horrors you may have to add arms and lawyer’s fees to that as well.

The return they give in boosting the morale and venting off the rage that we all feel against existence may compensate you for this but some people feel they can get all the stimulation they need from electric sockets  and stepping on Lego blocks.

Those who do elect to have friends can make them, buy them, or inherit them. The initial cost may be higher in the case of commercial companions but there is an advantage in that they can be discarded without regret – the others always seem to stick on. Friends are also somewhat more expensive to maintain – food, drink, entertainment, creams, ointments, anti-fungal treatments…it all adds up. Plus those pesky birthday presents. It is sometimes all you can do to find a suitable item at the Goodwill and a trip to the municipal tip can take just ages.

Of course there are advantages – someone to tell your secrets to and from whom salable confidences can be extracted. Someone who will lend money and be too embarrassed to demand it back. Someone who owns a trailer and will shovel things into it.

Be careful not to mix friendship or enmity with blood relation – at least until the important wills are read. You can be stuck on the wrong side of a codicil with no way of reversing the situation – and no-one wants to end up being the relative-in-the-wrong.

Dance For Me, My Pretty…

If someone were to say the words ” Exotic Dancer ” to you, what would you think of?

Would you think of someone doing a dance that is well outside of your normal culture? Perhaps a Middle Eastern dancer in the Persian, Turkish, or Egyptian Styles? Perhaps a Bollywood dancer in a brilliant costume. Perhaps an African doing a tribal dance. Perhaps an Israeli whirling in a hora. A Hopi dancing to ensure a good corn harvest…

Or would you think of a stripper? Boom dooma doom dooma doom. Bah.

Some people say it is the dance that has become corrupted, but I think it is just the imprecision of the language. ” Exotic ” means ” foreign ” – but the strippers who dance in our local clubs are really mostly domestic. I grant that ” Normal Dancers ” winking on a neon sign over a sleazy nightclub would not quite have the same pull as ” Exotic Dancers ” but really, after the outer garments were shed, the end result would be pretty much the same. Whether they start out wearing tracky daks and woollen jumpers or small triangles of sequins is just a detail.

” Erotic Dancer ” might be a better choice, but from all reports, the dancers don’t feel all that hepped up on a cold night out on the runway. ” Erotic Customers ” might be more accurate, though again reports suggest that it would be better to substitute ” Erratic “…

I propose that we change all the advertising. Instead of ” Exotic Dancers ” or ” Erotic Dancers ” we headline the bill with ” Mystery Dancers “. No-one will know when they sit down at the ringside table whether they are going to get Gypsy Rose Lee in a bikini or Harvey Weinstein on a bender. The anticipation should be electric. And no-one would know what was going to happen till the first pasty landed in the audience.

 

I Plan To Protest Outside A Vegan Restaurant

Not that I have anything against eating vegetables – I like potatoes and green beans and corn on the cob. I even like okra in gumbo. But I’m curious to see if I can get a crowd of people worked up for no good reason. It’s not an election year so this is the next best choice.

The people who really do eat only vegetables are not the target – they’ll probably be inside lifting the lids on the pots and seeing what’s cooking. And the people who eat meat are also not the main issue – I do love a good elk roast or moose stew. The ones I want are the knee-jerk followers who can be hoodwinked into anything with the correct pitch.

Part of me wants to make it funny and complain about how rutabagas are sentient beings with feelings and aspirations and really should be eligible for Parliament. And part of me wants to think up a disasterous-sounding health scare that involves some obscure chemical that you find in the leaves of any normal plant. Either approach should work if enough emotion and sleazy reasoning is applied. I plan to use the word ” toxic ” a lot.

There’ll have to be banners, of course, and I need to sit and think of a simple slogan with a good rhythm that can be chanted by people in woolen beanies and parkas. The sound of the howl is actually quite important – too simple and the protestors lose interest and too complex and it gets confused with the counter-melody. And you have to avoid getting close to commercial jingles because a lot of the advertising agencies have real lawyers.

I am also going to have to be careful about the use of the term ” root vegetables “. These days you cannot skirt too close to the semantic edge for fear of a backlash. Likewise I am going to have to carefully remove any reference to food that has any sort of ethnic or sexual connection. Zucchinis and black eyed peas are on the banned list for different reasons. Even collard greens are under the protection of federal agencies.

Still, with careful preparation and some cash in the right pocket, I think I can get my 15 minutes of fame in front of the restaurant. Don’t want to take much longer as I get hungry out on the footpath and they do a rather nice cauliflower curry that goes quickly.