Friday, October 07, 2005


Pop the top and rip the cord. This is going to require some abstract thought on your part, so if you’ve got access to mind-altering drugs, now would be a good time to take them.

Children are taught that we (the people) have 5 senses: sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing. But if you really think about it, there are far more than just 5 sensory interactions we use to negotiate our way through the world. Indeed, if you’re sitting down right now you’re taking advantage of a little something called gravity. That’s a sense you don’t fully appreciate until you try taking a leak on the space shuttle. (Please don't try to argue for the merits of a weightless golden shower)

And what about a sense of temperature? If you step outside in the middle of winter without a coat, you’ll freeze your ass off. Even if there’s no wind, rain, or snow – your body will sense the external temperature. Likewise, you don’t have to touch anything on an August afternoon to know it is hot outside – you have only to open your window.

Here’s another one. Suck down about three G&T’s in a half hour, then get up to use the bathroom. You’ll need to use both your hands as reference points or you’ll wipe out. That’s due to an impaired sense of balance. This sense becomes even more important when a uniformed officer asks you to take a walk on the shoulder of the road. But enough about my childhood.

Do you ever get hungry or thirsty? Those are also senses.

Have you ever missed someone so much it hurt? That’s a sense of loss. Loss sucks. Just ask the Green Bay Packers.

And when you laugh aloud at something I’ve written…well, we have a name for that one too – it’s called a sense of humor. Most people have one.

Sometimes we feel a heightened sense of awareness, a sense of obligation, or a sense that something is wrong. And when something is assumed to be understood by everyone, we call that “common sense,” even if common sense isn’t so common anymore. The point here is that there are far more than 5 senses. There are actually dozens of them, even if we only widely recognize and appreciate a few. Today I’d like to talk a little bit about one of them in particular.

Find a watch or a clock with a second hand (if you can!). When the second hand hits 12, close your eyes and, WITHOUT COUNTING, try to guess when one minute has passed. Most people are pretty good at this, guessing within 5 seconds on either side. This, as you might imagine, gets harder when you extend the length of time. Try to guess when 10 minutes have passed (if you don't go insane waiting, you’ll probably end up guessing early). Your ability to estimate the amount of time that has passed is a sense. It is the sense of time.

Some cultures in remote parts of the world don’t have the word “when” in their lexicon. To them, the development of a sense of time isn’t as critical to survival as it is in the “civilized” world, where our daily coming and goings are synchronized on a massive scale. In the States, it has often been noted that the pace of life is in different in different regions of the country. There’s the fast-paced east coast, the easy-going Midwest, and the lackadaisical west coast. This difference is also implied in the expression that there’s something very different about a “New York Minute” than a minute anywhere else. From all of this I think it is safe to say our sense of time is influenced in large part by the pace of the communities in which we live. That’s why some people from fast-paced environments have a hard time slowing down enough to relax on vacation. A new Yorker's heightened sensitivity to the passing of time can make a Honolulu minute seem like an hour. A very comfortable hour...but a LONG, SLOW one.

Personally, I feel like my days drag on slowly, while my weeks and months are flying by. Do you ever feel like your weeks and months are flying by? Do you ever look at the calendar and think, “Holy shit, it’s 2005??” Do you ever say, “Where has all the time gone?” This happens more and more the older I get. That’s because time speeds up as we age. When you are 6 years old, 6 months is 1/12th of your entire life, or roughly 5 minutes on a clock. When you are 15 years old, that same 6 months is 1/30th of your life, or roughly 2 minutes on a clock. And when you are 60 years old, 6 months is just 1/120th of your life, or roughly 30 seconds! Life speeds up: The difference in how 6 months feels to someone who is 6 versus someone who is 60 is the difference between 6 minutes and 30 seconds. Pretty big difference.

This is how my good friend Mary Jane described it to me one night. Feel free to take notes – there may be a quiz later.

Imagine a hole in the ground – not a little chipmunk hole, but a hole the size of a Mini Cooper. Now imagine you’re out frolicking in a dewy meadow, naked of course, without a care in the world, when you blindly prance over this hole. Suddenly, and without warning, a girl named Gravity grabs you by the ankles and pulls you in. You can’t see Gravity, and you never spent a whole lot of time thinking about her, but she’s suddenly become the most powerful and frightening force you’ve ever encountered. That’s because you’re falling at her mercy – and fast!

In a panic, you take an inventory of your situation. This is definitely not an ordinary hole. It’s WIDE and DEEP – you can’t touch the sides and you can’t see the bottom. But like Alice down the rabbit hole, you’ve got the wherewithal to realize that you’re definitely falling. It’s more than little unsettling at first because, in your experience, falls from even modest heights do not end well. But it’s all out of your hands now – your fate rests precariously in the hands of Gravity.

Eventually you start to settle down – after it occurs to you that you’ve been falling for a while. Minutes perhaps. And where it had been dark, your eyes begin adjusting. After awhile you start to get used to the sensation of falling. When you get tired, you fall sleep. When you get hungry, you start reaching out and taking food out of the void. You see there are other people falling all around you, so you talk to them. It’s not easy at first, but you begin to form relationships with all of these falling people. Then you get bored and adventurous, exploring the limits of this mysterious hole. Life goes on.

You go on to live out your entire life falling in that hole. And the entire time, in the back of your head, there’s this nagging concern that at any moment you could hit rock bottom. You don’t know when because you can’t see the bottom, but you know there’s a bottom down there somewhere. Or at least that’s what you assume. You try not to dwell on it, focusing instead on your immediate surroundings. But sometimes you can’t help but wonder – just how deep is this hole and when am I going to hit bottom?

Of course, something like this could never happen in the real world. There are rules here. When gravity pulls, it means there’s a relatively close object of significant mass on the other end – like the planet Earth.

But imagine for a second that instead of gravity, time grabbed you by the ankles and gave you a tug. Perhaps you’ve never thought of time as a force before, but it’s a force all right. Think about it. Like gravity, time is pulling you deeper and deeper into the unknown. You are essentially plummeting into the future, out of control and unable to stop, your fate precariously in the hands of time. You don’t feel like you’re in a freefall, but that’s only because you’re used to it. You weren’t always used to it, though. There was a time when time was dead to you. A time when you yourself were barely alive…

The womb is essentially timeless. At birth, we are literally pushed into the great hole of time. At first there isn’t a whole lot to like about our new surroundings. They’re new and unfamiliar, so we cry a lot. But eventually we settle down. And where it had been dark, our eyes begin adjusting. After awhile we get used to the sensation of falling through time. When we get tired, we sleep. When we get hungry, we eat. We take notice of other people all around us and begin to form relationships with them. Some of us get bored and adventurous, exploring the limits of our world through recreation or pharmacy. Others obsess about the bottom. Like the example above, time is definitely not an ordinary hole. It’s wide and DEEP – we can’t touch the sides and we can’t see the bottom. But like Alice down the rabbit hole, we’ve been blessed and/or cursed with the wherewithal to realize that we’re definitely falling into it.

Stop and feel yourself falling forward in time. You can't stop. Every second you live passes by, never to be passed again. The sentence you just read is now forever a part of your unalterable past. You can't change it. Nor can you change the fact that you just read the word "word" - possibly twice. No, that's not deja vu. Are you staying with me here? If not, go back and start this paragraph over.

So we’re falling right now – you and me. Falling forward into a bottomless future. We don’t know what’s at the end, or when we will meet that end. But we do know that there is one. Or do we?

A lot more people suffer from anxiety these days than ever before in history. At least that's what all the pharmaceutical lobbies tell the folks in Washington. Anxiety is another sense. For many, it’s the sense that time is running out. The fear of an uncertain future. Many therapies teach that we should slow down, breathe, and take a look around us. We need to focus on the now instead of the then and the when – the unalterable yesterday and the unforeseeable tomorrow. It’s akin to telling someone with a fear of heights not to look down, because looking down doesn't change anything - it only creates more fear. The same is true of looking forward in time. If you’re afraid of something, dwelling on it won’t change it. It will only create more anxiety. It is better to focus on the things around you in this moment. These are the things you CAN change.

I find people are good for that. Being around people calms me because my attention is diverted from the future to the present. Drifting powerless in the abyss of time, I look at all of the people falling alongside of me. My friends, my family, my acquaintances – readers who think to e-mail me well wishes and provide fun links to pass along. We all share the bond of time. It’s good to see that I’m not alone out here. Falling forward faster and faster and faster. All the time wondering – just how deep is this hole and when am I going to hit bottom?

My overdeveloped sense of time tells me I have taken up too much of yours with this heady thought exercise, so I will conclude with a final note on something dear to me: beer.

Beer is a parachute. If you feel like you are falling through time too fast, simply slam back a few cold ones and everything will suddenly slow down. You’ll stop worrying about the bottom and start enjoying the company of the folks in freefall all around you. An open parachute mitigates the fear and anxiety. So the next time you’re feeling a little anxious, pop the top and pull the cord. Let beer be your parachute. Now - if you'll excuse me - the weekend has arrived and it's time for me to fly.

Wherever you go and whatever you do, have a good time all the time. And why not?


Fun by way of Arizona. Thanks Sheila!

Thursday, October 06, 2005


Funny how far a little spin can go. Have you ever seen a preview for a movie you THOUGHT was going to be a comedy, but turned out to be gut-wrenching romantic drivel? Or a movie you expected would be a moving historical epic, but turned out to be a plotless vehicle for gratuitous bloodshed? It happens all the time. It makes you wonder sometimes if the people who build these previews have even seen the fucking movie. In fact, next time you see a commercial for an upcoming movie, mute the sound and try to make sense of the clips without the aid of the voice over. They appear to have been randomly selected in many cases. As any good advertising writer knows, the words and the music make the spot work...

This is all just the set-up for a great link my buddy in Sea-Town sent me this afternoon.

Check out this trailer for a movie you may already be familiar with...

Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Don’t you hate it when your cell phone falls in the toilet? And then you’re stuck wondering, “Is it worth it?” Of course not, you think – that murky brown stew should NOT be breached by human flesh! But all of your numbers, messages, and contacts are in that damn phone. You panic imagining all of that water penetrating the circuitry of your favorite toy. To save or not to save – that is the question. You desperately look around the room to find something – anything – long and firm enough to fish out your social lifeline. Where’s the damn toilet brush? What happens if I flush first? It won’t go DOWN, will it? Tick tock tick tock tick tock. Finally, you get down on one knee, roll your sleeve up to your triceps and plunge your forearm into the filthy brew to extract the runaway electronic. As you free it quickly from a watery grave, your first instinct is to shake the mire from your dripping digits. But that would create even more of a mess. So you immediately hustle over to the sink and submerge your entire arm under a stream of scalding hot water. You can feel your skin burning, but you’re almost glad for it. Then you wonder how in the hell you’re going to clean your phone without getting it any wetter than it already is. There’s no WAY you’d even think about putting it to your face without decontaminating it somehow. Right? So you grab a clump of paper towels and wrap up the dirty device tightly, squeezing every drop of moisture off the metal. As you wipe it completely dry, it shines like polished steel. But you KNOW where it’s been – and that has you concerned. So you decide to give it the old “smell check,” slowly drawing it to your nose for a quick whiff. Sniff sniff. Nothing. Sniff sniff. Nothing again. Hmmmm. You look around to be sure no one is looking, then slip it back into your pants pocket and head out the door.

Twice in one week, you think. Not a good sign.

(don't worry - it happens to me, too)


Did you ever get a zit that wanted to set up permanent residence on your face? I’ve got one right now and I’m having a heck of a time getting rid of the fucker.

It pitched a tent and set up camp some time late last week. I noticed it at first as a small red inflammation on my right cheek, about an inch below my eye. At first I ignored it and figured it would move away. Most of them do when they realize the property value sucks and the taxes are too high. But this one was determined. It started to become more red and swollen, and hurt to touch – so I gave it a good squeeze. But my squeeze was premature, it turns out, because, as Geri informed me, you’re supposed to wait until there is a whitehead before ejecting the contents of a zit. Who knew there were rules? My squeezing it had not produced anything other than increased swelling.

What had started a minor blemish soon became a major life impediment. I went to a wedding Saturday and had to explain why I brought two dates: Geri and the massive red growth that was clinging to my cheek like a newborn shrew suckling its mother. Can you believe it actually had the nerve to ask for a second helping of saurkraut? I think there were more photos taken of my skin visitor than the bride and groom.

For the next couple days I followed the advice of armchair dermatologists everywhere by leaving it the hell alone. Except for when I put a little medicinal acid on it to burn it off. Yeah - desperate times call for desperate measures. Geri handed me a little green cosmetic remedy that she said would dry it out in no time. I dabbed a little on and felt it tingle and burn, so I knew it was working. The next morning I woke up to the sound of my zit building an addition onto the side of his house. It was bigger and redder than ever.

But I refused to touch it, going all day Sunday ignoring it – denying it the attention it so desperately wanted. Finally, on Monday morning I broke down. Scratching the surface a bit, I was able to peel away a thin scabby later of skin that had formed over it. In some way I felt this was progress, only to discover that underneath that layer the zit had been digging the foundation for a swimming pool. This was war!

Last night Geri suggested I get it looked at, as she thought it may have become a boil. I didn’t like the sound of that at all – especially since I had no idea what a boil is. Is it a mega-zit? Is it cancerous? Will I need surgery? Does a boil have anything to do with a clam bake?

This morning I woke up hopeful. I avoided mirrors as long as I could, imagining that by doing so it would get bored with me and vanish out of neglect.

When I finally broke down to dab a little gel in my hair, I saw it was still there. A little pinker, and a little less swollen – but glassy now, and without a center. I’m beginning to fear this bad boy has decided to put down roots. So now I’m off to the drug store to buy something Geri called “zit cream.” I’ve never really had problems with zits before, so this will be a new experience for me. I really hope it ends well because it’s impossible talking to people with a zit this size demanding so much attention. It’s like he’s standing there on my face with a bullhorn shouting at people:

“Don’t listen to this asshole – look at me instead! I’m shiny and red, just like a Christmas Ornament! Aren’t I disgusting?”

I have only just begun to fight!


Here’s something that pisses me off – meat bigotry. You know what I’m talking about. It’s the idea that some animals are okay to eat while others are not, and it’s become an increasingly popular trend in this country over the last couple of decades.

The best example of this is probably the national clamor for “Dolphin Safe” tuna. Twenty years ago nobody knew that 0.000004% of their canned tuna was dolphin meat and, what’s more, nobody gave a flying fish. Thanks to an epidemic of “heightened awareness” to recent studies suggesting a rudimentary intellect in the animals, dolphins missed the list of approved sources for your daily-recommended allowance of protein. Not only that, but the enlightened folks who champion this cause portray even the accidental ingestion of a few dolphins (an unintended byproduct of catching tuna fish) as tantamount to cannibalism. Personally, I don’t care if the things can do advanced calculus and speak the Queen’s English – if they taste good with a lemon hollandaise, put ‘em on the damn plate.

And the poor tuna! Why isn’t anyone trying to save the tuna?

The downside to all of this moral posturing, of course, is that the rest of us who have better things to do than invent causes to support have to pay more for our Chicken of the Sea now that all tuna must be dolphin-friendly. I say let the market decide instead of a handful of well-connected egomaniacs who’ve decided their morally-imposed dietary restrictions should apply to everyone. I bet if they started putting cans of “Dolphin Enriched” tuna on the shelves for a buck less, they’d move faster than Charlie Sheen at an all-you-can-eat hooker buffet.

An interesting side note here is that a number of recent studies place the lowly pig on at least equal intellectual footing with our beloved dolphins, yet you’ll find few demonstrations in front of the local Jimmy Dean factory. Perhaps it’s because pigs just aren’t as cute as dolphins, or because Arnold wasn't as charismatic as Flipper.

This little piggy went to market. This little piggy took a swim. This little piggy looked good on toast with lettuce and tomato.

News flash – humans are carnivores. Those sharp canine teeth aren’t for grinding down tree bark, they’re for tearing flesh. It has been widely acknowledged that the evolution of the human brain can be traced to the introduction of a nutrient-rich, meat diet. We are who we are today because we started eating other animals. And what became of our leaf-eating relatives? They’re still living in trees...and they're endangered.

Let’s not forget the cultural culinary discrimination that abounds in our little global melting pot, either. We vilify the Koreans because they enjoy a good canine filet every now and again. Why? Because WE don’t eat them? Cows are sacred in India, but beef is what’s for dinner over here. To be fair to our friends in South Korea, a recent study estimated that only 10% of South Koreans actually eat dog. I found this news splashed on an animal rights website as if to suggest canine consumption is on the decline over there. But 10% of a population of 48 million is still 4.8 million happy dog eaters. I say Chow down, so to speak.

Tuna steak or Labrador filet? Take a bite - you'll like it!

How many of us have even tasted Dachshund? Americans automatically discount dogs as a culinary option based solely on some societally-ingrained moral imperative. The Humane Society is always bitching about the number of unwanted animals they are forced to euthanize. Here’s an idea. If they tweaked their advertising a bit and targeted the right ethnic communities just before Memorial Day weekend, they’d probably move a lot more mutts. And if you think that’s disgusting, here’s another great idea – Jack Link Terrier! (Note: if the JL Co. actually decides to introduce this in their Far East market, I expect to be paid. You are all my witnesses.)

The problem has gone beyond being merely a cultural bias, however. It’s a sort of national arrogance that seems to stem from having so much of whatever we want for so long. It’s almost like we feel we have to come up with fashionable reasons to deny ourselves certain things while in some parts of the world fishermen will suck the brine off a Goodyear if that’s all they caught that day. Maybe this country needs a good famine to remind us of all the things around us that are edible.

Personally, I follow one simple rule: If an animal is not human, it is okay to eat. Hell, when I found out that the Basques of Spain have some weird extra chromosome, they immediately went on the menu.

The bottom line is that we should be thankful that we, as Americans, generally have plenty of food to go around…and we probably ought to stop judging others for what they do or do not eat. If you want to eat dog, go right ahead. All I ask is that you don’t eat MY dog. One final thing thing to keep in mind is that a majority of the world’s citizens, ie. Muslims, believe that WE’RE all going to Hell for sprinkling bacon bits on our side salads. Chew on that thought for a second.

(Of course we all know THEY’RE the crazy ones – bacon is some damn good shit, y’all)

Monday, October 03, 2005


According to Tucker Carlson, host of MSNBC's "The Situation," the two primary exports of Denmark are furniture and child pornography. Thanks, Tucker. Let me add that to my little book of lesser known facts about Northern Europe.

I'm pretty sure he was kidding when he made the remark during a heated debate with a guest last week - but I wonder how the folks in Denmark would feel about such a statement uttered before millions of Americans on a prime time news program. What possesses someone to make such a comment? Unless, perhaps, those are the only two exports of Denmark Tucker is personally familiar with.