Friday, July 25, 2008

That's Not My Hat!

Sir, I must object. This hat you claim to be returning to me - it's not my hat!

First of all, my hat has no ornamentation of any kind. It's just an average trilby. It doesn't have flashing lights or whirling colors or beeping noises like this hat here. It has not electronical components nor does it run on solar power, as I am assuming this hat does, with those panels on the sides. It does not have a video screen on its elongated visor, as it has no elongated visor. This, sir, is not my hat.

Second of all, & I do not mean any disrespect when I point this out, but this really shouldn't be categorized as a hat. It's more helmet-like. Not many hats cover almost the entire head, & have a chin-strap beside. Nor do have as many accesories as this device you have hear. Nor are most hats made out of polymers - usually they're cloth, or cloth & plastic. What you have there, people call those helmets. Not hats.

Third of all, I described my hat & even included a photograph in the ad in which I mentioned I had lost my hat. This looks nothing like the photograph. Granted, the photograph was in black & white, on newsprint, but, even so, here - look! - this is the picture of the hat, that is the helmet-like headgear object you are attempting to return to me. Do you see, sir, as I hold them side-by-side, that they don't really look like one another? They are in fact very different - they have virtually no commonalities.

Fourth of all, I do appreciate that you apparently came all the way from the wilds of Bastrop to return this hat to me - although how it could have gotten there I don't know, as I lost it at a restaurant in Clarksville - I confess I don't know why you imagined there would be a reward for the return of a hat. I didn't say I would give a reward, & if I did, it wouldn't be ten thousand dollars. That's all seventeen kinds of ridiculous!

& finally, sir. In spite of all you've done, even if it was for material gain, it truly was a kind gesture to try to return a stranger's hat, & although I feel I've gone out of my way to avoid making you angry, it certainly was uncalled for for you to urinate on my lawn. On my lawn chairs. On my pet puppy Wiggles. On my pet rocks. You are a bounder sir! A bounder & a cad! Which are rare traits in a good (or shall I say mediocre) samaritan.

Ah! Now that that's taken care of, I must sit, daydream about my hat, & wait till tomorrow for this week's exciting Self Help Radio episode. I hope it'll be about hats!

Ah! It's about whales! What fun! Whales love hats!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Christian Bailed

Bad pun! Went to see "The Dark Knight" at the "IMax" so couldn't write in the "Blog."

Forgive me. There'll be more nonsense tomorrow. You have my pants on it. & what is a man without his pants?


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Whither Whales?

Yes, you don't have to ask, I've never seen a whale in real life. Maybe from an airplane - I have vague memories of seeing a school of whales in the Atlantic when I was a boy on my way to Germany the first time - who knows if that really happened - but I've never even been to Sea World or some other water park. Or have I?

There's a truism in the history of life on this planet that human beings, once they came around in sufficient numbers, killed off, over time, the largest mammals. There used to be mammoths & saber-toothed tigers, of course, but also giant sloths & horses & mice for all the hell I know. Once dinosaurs were abducted by the evil space felchers from the Andromeda galaxy, mammals were all like, "This is our world now. Talk to the paw." & they got as big as they could get. & from the looks of it (ie, the fossil record) they did it quickly.

But it took us humans nearly no time (geologically speaking) to dispatch them. The last great giant mammals left are elephants, rhinos, hippos, & of course the whales. (I don't count morbidly obese Americans.) & yeah, we're killing pretty much all those off. There's no reason to point blame: we're all involved. We're blubber fuckers & we know it.

The scariest thing I've heard is that, because of all the damn boats (tankers, liners, submarines, battleships, etc) we have in the water, it's too noisy for the whales to communicate over long distances any more. Apparently, before the advent of the steam engine, a whale could start a chat in the South Pacific that could be heard in the North Atlantic. & it didn't use up arbitrary "minutes." But that's all done.

I'm totally bumming myself out. But wait, there's more! Did you know there was "an enormous island of trash twice the size of Texas... floating in the Pacific Ocean somewhere between San Francisco & Hawaii" ? It's true!. I mean, really. What must the whales think of us? Besides being scared shitless, I mean?

The whales will be fine once we run out of oil & kill ourselves off. I just hope it happens to us before it happens to them.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Preface To Whales: 'Whale' As A Verb

We all know that "whaling" is the hunting of whales, much in the same way that monkeying around is the hunting of round monkeys. But why then does the verb "to whale" include this definition (from the Oxford English La-di-da):

1. trans. To beat, flog, thrash.

Examples:1801 G. HANGER Life II. 162 Whaleing a gentleman is but a vulgar revenge. 1884 ‘MARK TWAIN’ Huck. Finn iii, He used to always whale me when he was sober and could get his hands on me.

In recent times we seem to have added the preposition "on," I guess to clarify, especially when referring to heavy metal guitar solos - "he was really whaling on that guitar, dude!"

But where did that meaning come from? Were there perverted seamen (that sounds perverted!) who would thrash the whale once its giant carcass was pulled onto the ship? Were they whale-fuckers? Does blubber feel really good when... But I've gone too far again.

To return: I am not an etymologist (or even an epidemiologist) but I do enjoy trying to figure out where words come from. Some are easy, some are not. Says the OED:

Of obscure origin. Commonly regarded as a spelling of WALE v.1, but there are difficulties of form, chronology, and meaning. (I'll say!) Perhaps orig. = to thrash with a whalebone whip

Aha! The old "whalebone whip" gambit! That may have worked in Indiana Jones & The Belly Of The Whale (or it might have been Star Wars 2: Guts On Fire) but it won't work here! Whalebone whips my blowhole.

Unfortunately, there's nothing else I can find online (other than the obligatory "origin obscure") so I'll have to make something up. That's right. I'm allowed to do that. Because I have a blog. On the internet.

Here's my explanation:

Back in the day when sailors used to hit each other, & things, with great force, they needed a word for it. "Hit" was boring & "thrash" is what the captain & other officers did to them. They had yet to invent the word "thwack," & "strike" sounded too union-y. So one day, two sailors who shall remain immortally nameless were beating the crap out of each other - some might say "whaling" on each other - when a big whale, the biggest they'd ever seen, came out of the ocean & then went back in with a big ker-splat! of its tail on the water.

"Dude," said sailor one. "Did you see that whale whaling on the water with its tail?"

"Dude!" said sailor two, "you just invented a verb!"

Sailor one was all like, "I'm so Shakespeare," & sailor two started whaling on him.

They passed the word around to their rowdy crew, & soon it was commonplace among the sea dogs of the world. In time, as they came ashore, so did the lucky word. Not so lucky, though, for our inventive sailors, though. A few weeks later, when the captain found they had spotted a whale & not called out, they were hanged.

There! You have your etymology. Now go & spread it amongst the people of this world!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Watering One's Lawn - Source Of Hope Or Regret?

It's mid July so it's time once again to check on our Drought Monitor. Oh hooray! Austin is teetering between "Extreme Drought" & "Exceptional Drought" & I spent a couple of hours watering my poor dry lawn last night. What an asshole I am! Furthermore, what a bunch of assholes live in my neighborhood! Because everyone was watering their god damned lawns last night. Didn't they know we're experiencing an Extreme Drought?

There's a lot of staring at ground & sitting on porch when one's lawn is dying or dead. The history of our lawn is a sad one. When we bought the house three years ago, we had one more tree than we currently do. Not because we chopped one down, oh no no no. The tree died. It could have died of old age (can you imagine that trees dry of old age?) or we could have not watered it enough in the Quite Awful Drought of two years ago, but however it went, it did die. & the back yard its stump still resides in is pretty much dead too. So I watered. How could I know the Drought we're having is almost Exceptional?

Here's something you never hear from people living in apartments or with their parents or in places that have no lawns: "If we install a sprinkler system, it'll increase our property value." & what will our property be worth in a world with little or no water? People will be ripping our sprinkler system out to drink the drops in the rusty pipes. Then they're break into our house to drink the water in our toilets. Property value will be for shit.

Yeah, I think about this stuff. Mainly in the day or so after I successfully finish another Self Help Radio. Did you know that this blog relates somehow to a radio show? It does! & you can hear this last week's show - it was about taxis, & not about watering the lawn - over at the Self Help Radio web site. It's easy, it's fun, & it doesn't affect the Overachieving Drought either way. Well, maybe in some ways. Don't water the lawn while you listen to it!