If one were to have begun reading these pages recently, he or she could be forgiven for imagining I while away the hours pondering the motivations of monsters, ghosts, and a little Boston terrier named Goblin Foo. And then there are the fictions, frequently cited, of studying for some impossible board exam, building my acupuncture practice, and so forth. All of this is hogwash except for the part about Goblin Foo, who continues to advance her claim that she is the Maharincess of Franistan. I also read a book about a boy during the Revolutionary War who was convinced he was some sort of prince and that his poop needed to be weighed and studied on a daily basis, and that sounds like it’s right up GFU’s alley, as well. In any case, I’m afraid my actual actions have been labeled Top Secret by the Franistan Ministry For Security And The Advancement Of Feeding Boston Terriers Chicken From Your Own Dinner Plate, so you will just have to speculate, but you will probably be wrong.
My monster carols were such a big hit that I have considered branching out into other monster-oriented ditties. Monster country-and-western songs might be a good place to start, because “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Chupacabras” has been going through my head, although I have already written and performed a song about chupacabras. I think the wolf man is next. Also, a friend and I have created a character called GUN WOLF, which is a gun that turns into a werewolf during the full moon. As you might imagine, he has a complicated origin story.
When I was a little kid, the little girl who lived around the corner and I used to do this thing called “Sing and Swing.” Given who we are talking about, moi, it probably seems equally improbable that “Sing and Swing” would be either dirty or innocent. As it happens, it was the latter, and Deena and I spent many jovial afternoons on the swing set in my back yard, singing the songs we learned in school and the Elvis songs she was obsessed with. The higher we swung, the louder we sung, and I imagine our high-pitched croons rattling the windows of the surrounding houses. Besides the two regular swings, the swing set also featured a sort of swaying gondola for toddlers, which we appropriated for use as Glinda’s Magic Bubble when we played “Wizard of Oz.” We also played “What We Usually Play,” which was an interactive jumble of imaginary characters from all of the TV shows and movies we had seen, including “The Lone Ranger,” which we watched religiously every afternoon in syndication. I don’t know how old we were; pretty young, although we had no supervision and could wander the neighborhood at will as long as we were home for dinner. This leniency did not include going into each other’s houses, which required special permission since our mothers were sworn enemies, so we watched “The Lone Ranger” separately and rendezvoused later to compare notes. Often, in the midst of “What We Usually Play,” the Lone Ranger and Tonto would get confused and end up on hovering in Glinda’s Magic Bubble, singing the soulful tunes of Elvis Presley. The Lone Ranger was inconsolable when Elvis died. I remember her sending a kiss in every direction of the compass, as well as up to heaven and (just in case) down to hell, just to be sure it would reach him wherever he ended up; she made me shake hands in all of those directions along with her. In my mind, this somehow made sense, and I imagined that musical ghost collecting air kisses and air handshakes from mourners the world over.
I remember when I was a little kid and cordless phones were suddenly a thing. Communicating without wires was magic. I had a Dukes of Hazzard walkie-talkie, which could sometimes be relied upon to transmit static from the back yard to the front, but cordless telephones were a whole nother ball of wax. My mother bought one for my grandparents, a hunk of heavy plastic with an antenna that must have extended three feet. We tested it out before we mailed it to them in Florida, and I felt like Buck Rogers talking to the moon. Much later, when I was in high school and cordless phones had metamorphosed into fussy devices with built-in answering machines, I worked at the electronics counter of a department store. I sold those and cassette Walkmans and electric typewriters with built-in correction tape. I sold a satellite phone that was the size of two bricks taped together and cost over a thousand dollars.
Now, I am old, and I jab people with needles for a living. And I have an iPhone. The end.
I just watched a ping pong ball penetrate a ping pong paddle. You can witness this phenomenon, too, in the video above, although I warn you that this unnatural act occurs only after several minutes of scientific jibber jabber.
Unnatural, yes. Verily, ping pong balls are not supposed to penetrate ping pong paddles! A reading from The Laws of Table Tennis:
Chapter 2, Verse 3:
2.3.1 The ball shall be spherical, with a diameter of 40mm.
2.3.2 The ball shall weigh 2.7g.
2.3.3 The ball shall be made of celluloid or similar plastics material and shall be white or orange, and matte.
Chapter 2, Verse 4:
2.4.2 At least 85% of the blade by thickness shall be of natural wood; an adhesive layer within the blade may be reinforced with fibrous material such as carbon fibre, glass fibre or compressed paper, but shall not be thicker than 7.5% of the total thickness or 0.35mm, whichever is the smaller.
2.4.3 A side of the blade used for striking the ball shall be covered with either ordinary pimpled rubber, with pimples outwards having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 2.0mm, or sandwich rubber, with pimples inwards or outwards, having a total thickness including adhesive of not more than 4.0mm.
18.104.22.168 Ordinary pimpled rubber is a single layer of non-cellular rubber, natural or synthetic, with pimples evenly distributed over its surface at a density of not less than 10 per cm² and not more than 30 per cm².
22.214.171.124 Sandwich rubber is a single layer of cellular rubber covered with a single outer layer of ordinary pimpled rubber, the thickness of the pimpled rubber not being more than 2.0mm.
I say unto thee, brothers and sisters, a 40mm 2.7g spherical object cannot pass through a blade of a minimum 85% natural wood, possibly reinforced by carbon fiber, and covered by ordinary pimpled rubber!
Can I get a hallelujah for Ordinary Pimpled Rubber?
The very idea is an offense to all that is good and decent in this world. Science has given us this abomination, my people. Science and homosexuals! Working in tandem, these sinful bedfellows have brought forth an unholy and unnatural act of penetration. Witness ye the blizzard called Nemo, wrought as revenge from an angry Nature and set against the most wicked land of the Atlantic Northeast, where science flourishes and homosexuals engage in anti-ping-pongical acts of matrimony!
Ahem. Pardon me, I seem to have gotten carried away.
What you see here is a baby chupacabra. He is, um, sleeping. A sleeping baby chupacabra. It is no wonder that the chupacabra is an endangered species because people are picking sleeping baby chupacabras out of their nests and handling them. You should know that if you touch a baby chupacabra, its mother will stop loving it. Then you will have to raise it yourself. Several times a day, you will have to cut open a goat’s neck and hand the baby chupacabra a straw. This will make you unpopular in the goat community, but I don’t make the rules. Maybe you will find a nice, understanding goat, I don’t know. You could barter. It’s possible.
This particular baby chupacabra turned out not to be very active, so the goat got off easy.
In other news, as I was trying to sleep last night, I kept thinking of my friend, the Starship Enterprise. I kept picturing him with a damaged hull, and honestly, when has he NOT had a damaged hull? That thing has been blown up more times than good heavens I can’t think of a comparison on the spur of the moment but something good, and it looks like that is his fate again in the upcoming movie with the hotter Captain Kirk. Blowing up the Enterprise is a multimillion-dollar enterprise.
I’ll bet you weren’t expecting to see me here, but TA DA! After my Superb Owl win, I should be in Disney World. Come to think of it, I really should be in Disney World. I had a trip booked for this very week, but I sold it on sleazy eBay, criminal lair of the nickel-and-dimers. Now some family from Minnesota or Missouri or one of those middle-American M states is stinking up the room I picked out. Michigan? I have no idea.
In other news, everything continues apace. I am starting to practice acupuncture in a third location next week. Book-writing, check. Studying, check. Cafe, check. Blogging, check. Sort-of check. I missed a couple of days, yes. Get over it. Bad back, check. Maybe calling it bad is setting up an unnecessary opposition. Good-back-doing-bad-things, check. Meditation, no. I have missed a few days of that, too. I think I am not necessarily the meditating sort. But maybe I should redefine myself as the meditating sort so I will do it. I am the meditating sort who is not meditating. Check.
Also, I put some little Vine videos on Twitter @UDHippo. I will see if I can put one here.
I am lying on a heating pad under a pile of blankets, textbooks stacked around me, a cup of tea at hand, as snow drifts by the darkening window. It is a cozy winter’s afternoon. I am supposed to be studying, but I thought I’d talk to you for a bit instead. Hello.
I have been thinking a lot about life lately—my life in particular, but I suppose they do all tend to connect. There is something floating just beyond my awareness, like the snow outside the window, invisible now that I’ve turned on a lamp. It is something important. I have probably said that a lot here over the years; I have always looked for meaning beyond what I know or for ways to be peaceful with where I am. And I have always thought those quests opposite ends of the same continuum, like yin and yang, combining to make a meaningful life. Indeed, at Ye Olde Acupuncture School, we were taught something similar, that life is perfect as it is, and it can always be otherwise if we choose.
There must be some sort of disturbance in the Force, as I don’t know where I am on that continuum right now, or where I should be. Perhaps the disturbance itself is the perfection, that discomfortable, unknowing place on the creative cycle that we must inhabit before we can burst forth. Maybe this is what the plants feel like as they start sensing the longer days, the sap vibrating uneasily in their cold roots, knowing that a bloom awaits them.
But a plant knows in its bones what shape its flowers will take, and it knows that its place is where it has been growing. On this cozy winter’s afternoon, I don’t know those things for myself. And in this moment, I will take a breath, savor the heating pad, and not think about the invisible snow.
Today would have been Sherman Hemsley’s seventy-fifth birthday, if he were alive. I suppose it is whether he is alive or not, but he isn’t. Isabel Sanford, whose birthday is in August, will be ninety-six this year. She died in July 2004, and Sherman Hemsley died in July 2012. July, you are a cruel mistress.
Speaking of cruel, here is a chupacabra with a tribal tattoo, steampunk goggles, and a man purse. I cannot help but wonder what he has in his man purse. A straw? Additional accessories? I like his tattoo, but I don’t feel like this chupacabra and I would be friends. His look may seem effortless, but in a way, he is Trying Too Hard.