Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Out Of Context

I'd like it to be known I am now out of context. It's not like I had some and now have none left. I was not taken out of context, nor was I forced out. I am leaving context voluntarily.

Context is so limiting. It enslaves meanings to just one, when we all know there are many meanings one can apply when looking at a group of words. It's best to allow people to pick out a few words that suit their purpose. They're going to anyway.

I'm not talking about double entendres, where a line intentionally has two meanings, like "Kids make wonderful snacks," or "The man should get 5 years in the stolen guitar case." This is different.

People who live life out of context do so by:
1) not saying anything (knowing nods and one-eyebrow-raised expressions are permitted but major body language is discouraged)
2) being totally vacuous, noncommittal and unopinionated – or alternatively saying something off-topic like making a statement about grape-flavored lollypops in a discussion on nuclear power... or
3) whenever they have a complete, well-defined thought they jump right from it to a meaning that is not what they meant. For example, instead of saying "I thought the film was great if you don't mind a lack of acting talent, poor script, disjointed storyline and a plot interest reminiscent of a bad Harlequin Romance" they just say "I thought the film was great." It's sorta like cutting out the middle man and taking control of changing their own context before Quote Miners and Contextomers can get to it.

From now on please quote me in whatever context you like. Or, if you're stuck for one you can always use the old standby: Rand said, "No comment."

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Controlling Attitudes and Opinions

Well, well, well. The Christmas season is upon us. Black Friday is just past, with about 11,000 shoppers in lines wrapped around Macy's in New York City at midnight this year, beginning the buying frenzy. And the seasonal advertising has begun in earnest.

Everyone knows what advertising is. Heck, all you have to do it pick up a newspaper, or turn on your television and there it is – intrusive and irksome. But Professor Noam Chomsky, American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, logician, historian, political critic, and activist thinks advertising is actually a tool designed to keep us from thinking logically.

It seems that the good Professor proposes that the leaders of our capitalistic society, one based on the value of money over people, need to control people's attitudes and opinions to keep those who run things running things. What better way of doing so but to keep minds making decisions based on emotions and not logic? And since before the turn of the 20th century the advertising industry has been doing just that.

Evidently the business literature of the period talked about how it's necessary to focus people on the superficial things of life, like fashionable consumption. In theory, the free market system is supposed to be based on informed consumers making rational choices (just like democracy). But in reality commercial advertising is creating uninformed consumers who make irrational choices based purely on emotion. A few minutes watching television should convince anyone that the goal of most advertising is not to inform, it is to influence.

So, are we being controlled or is this just another conspiracy theory generated by arguably one of the most brilliant minds of our generation? Are we being influenced away from informed decision-making by catch phrases, cleverly executed advertising messaging invading our every waking moment and shaping our attitudes and opinions?

I'm not sure but I think the answer lies with the Slinky.

(For a transcript of a recent interview with Chomsky, which puts this - and more - in his own words, visit here.)

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Brain Needs Turning On

I wish I was one of those guys who could turn their brain on at will. Mine goes into sleep mode far too often these days.

Some people say keeping your brain turned on regularly is a very dangerous thing to do. Other people may notice and begin to expect it of you all the time. But I believe in the old adage "Abuse it or lose it." Wait, that's "Use it or lose it." (Freudian slip)

So I have to get my brain turned on soon. I know this because:
1) Neighborhood Watch has placed me on its "Zombie Watch List"
2) My GP tells me if I stay mellow for much longer I could permanently lose my ability to be persnickety
3) The Rip Van Winkle Society keeps calling asking me to be their new poster boy
4) There's a picture of me on milk cartons under the headline "Missing"
5) The power company shut off my electricity and I didn't notice for two weeks
6) The cat's taken up residence on my chest and I now have a permanent indentation
7) People talk about me like I'm not even in the room
8) I'm listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's largest paperweight
9) The International Garbageworkers Union has filed a grievance, suspicious I'm taking my trash to the dump myself
10) I know it's Wednesday but I'm just not quite sure what week (or year).

So I have to flip my switch. I think I'll need the heavy duty treatment: head banging music and strong coffee. Let's see if my coffeemaker is where I think I left it. And if I own milk that isn't so far past its best before date that it's a health hazard.

If you smell smoke I'm told that's normal.

I may need jumper cables so stay close to your phone.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Bones of Contention

(Not Recommended)
When someone says "I have a bone to pick with you," it usually means you'll probably end up explaining some aspect of yourself.

I don't mind that. Let them spurt it out, then either explain or tell them to go away. Done like dinner. Simple. Move on.

Having a bone of contention (14th C – from the image of two dogs fighting over the same bone), on the other hand, is much messier because it involves having to work out some issue with someone else. Which necessitates (shudder) human interaction. It sometimes takes years to work out. People get stinky and spend time proposing resolutions that they know the other party is not going to accept, because they know they both have diametrically opposing viewpoints. But everyone does it just to piss the other party off and by doing so it allows them to complain to their followers that they have solved the issue but the other party is not facing reality. Everything becomes more entangled. Unless, the two parties should cooperate. But that never happens. No points in being agreeable. Set up an official task force who proposes sending it to a special committee complete with break-away sessions. Surely, everyone agrees, a committee will hammer out a solution. Meetings and retreats are planned. People argue over the seating plan and dates. Rubber chicken or mystery meat? Fit a day of golf in. Plan revenge should things not go their way. Get deadlocked. Break off talks. Appeal to the press. Reschedule talks. Repeat. Issue becomes lost in committee.

Everyone forgets what the bone of contention was in the first place.

Call in Bob for a song. Everybody likes Bob. Bob we can agree upon.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

10 Things About Being A Superhero

There aren't enough superheroes in the world. If you're thinking about becoming one: good for you. It's not easy being a champion of truth and justice. You have to go around picking up litter, being nice to babies and cleaning up other people's messes all the time, often with no thanks. Time off is unheard of and you don't get overtime. In fact, it doesn't pay at all. It gets more difficult as time goes on to tell the bad guys from the good and sometimes you'll wonder why you keep saving the world.

And when you get older you'll notice certain things:
1) The spandex doesn't fit quite like it once did
2) Kids have better technology than what's in your secret headquarters
3) Taking the elevator makes more sense than jumping from tall buildings
4) Post nasal drip is no fun when you're wearing a mask
5) The whole secret identity thing gets mistaken for duo personality disorder too often
6) Chicks snicker when they check out your butt
7) Your utility belt keeps sticking in your back whenever you sit down
8) The damned cape keeps getting stuck in doors
9) You get real tired hearing people tell you Halloween is over, and
10) Your arch enemies include old ladies with 9 items in an 8 item express checkout lane.

You can tell I shoot from the hip. I figure, forewarned is forearmed. Good luck out there. If you need a logo let me know.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


"Like almost everyone who uses e-mail, I receive a ton of spam every day. Much of it offers to help me get out of debt or get rich quick. It would be funny if it weren't so exciting." ~ Bill Gates

I live for spam. Not the meat kind, the communication kind. The kind that reminds me of what happens when my bladder is full and I hear a tap running full blast. It motivates me.

Before we had the invention of the internet, prior to email, television and telemarketers, in advance of radio and even before we had newspapers; what did we do? We had people standing on the street corners yelling or peddlers going door-to-door.

These days the conquering forces of capitalism insert themselves into your life freely and unbidden. It keeps life active, interesting and yes, a bit magical. Somewhere the great art director in the sky is pointing at a few boring seconds in your life and saying "We need to put some action in there. Let's try to sell them forklifts and cremation services and send them messages from Olga wondering why you haven't answered her love. Let's offer them the contents of a bank account in Nigeria."

We have always had people interrupting the normal course of our conversations, our peaceful walks, our dinners and our sex lives with sales pitches, pleas and offers. It makes us all feel needed. Part of this wonderful world of marketing and unabashed mass media self-entitlement.

Makes me warm and tingly all over just thinking about it. Let's all sing Hallelujah!

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The "How To" Expert In Me

The "How to" movement has invaded social media with gusto. Don't you just love all the people that are so concerned about our well being that they are willing to share advice on how to make our lives better? It warms the cockles of my heart. How to make more money, how to maximize our social media experience or how to be a better person... the list of ways to improve ourselves seems endless.

All these words of wisdom, of course, come from very important people called experts. They have to be experts because the success of these messages is based on a thing called credibility. Credibility translates into believability and therefore readership buy in.

So I thought, gee, I'm a caring person. And I'm good at stuff. I should be an expert at something and help others too. I put my thinking cap on. (Remember those? They're invisible and are tied under your chin with an invisible string.) What can I give to the world that will better the lives of people just like you?

After thinking long and hard "wacky" won. I can see those of you out there who know me nodding your heads in unison. I define "wackiness" as the art of being intelligently stupid. It is harmless behavior intended to enliven spirits and elevate the moods of others out of humdrum. Throughout my considerable length of time on earth finding new wacky things (as opposed to old wacko things) to do spontaneously has gotten me through some tough times and made good times more memorable. I continue to keep a shelf full of wackiness stockpiled. And I believe that if I keep it up the rest of my life will be tolerable. So there. My bit for the good of humankind. Feel free to share.

(Insert whoopee cushion noise here.)

Saturday, November 3, 2012

No Whine Before Its Time

“It takes a genius to whine appealingly.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

Some say whines should be gulped (cretins all) and some say sipped. But a very few recognize they should be rolled around on the tongue and savored. For most, whining is a Friday night on the town with the girls, a pastime or a hobby, but to a select few of proper breeding – a passion. And to true connoisseurs there is nothing more aggravating in this world than finding a fantastic, extraordinary whine with no appropriate time or place to enjoy it.

Introducing a service that guarantees that the whines you love are sent not to undeserving ears but saved for the most distinctive of palates.

Is your boss making you work overtime? Are your whites not white? Are your Vanilla Sugar Cookie scented Air Wicks just not satisfying? Are the edges on your new PowerBook too sharp? Is your Tumblr account down and you have nothing at all to do? Are you bored with your life and have no one to whine with because you're afraid of being labelled a whine-o-holic by those who are not properly educated? Don't waste them. Save them as whines of distinction. We here at MacIvor Of Purgatory will bottle your best gripes with care and discerning taste.  

Yes, you can keep a full cellar of the best and proudly display it for selected dignitaries to drool over.

Because, as we all know, the best place for fine whines... is in a bottle... with the cork firmly set in place.