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Archive for November, 2012

Sorry. I’m slammed with work right now. Hope to get back on Thursday.

 

Jason

Banana Grandma died last Thursday night. If you know why she has that moniker, then you have a very brief, but quite clear understanding of my family, our foibles, and the deep running offbeat, sometimes disturbing humor that is chemically bonded to our DNA. She is really the font of that humor, though most people wouldn’t know it. Most people would be surprised to discover that she was the most complicated person I knew.

Her last words were “I feel funny.” While I know that she meant something was physically wrong, that she was literally moments from sliding off her seat, slipping into the unknowable oblivion or grace of death, I take that phrase for its dual meaning. Perhaps in that moment of ultimate clarity she realized that she was our humor’s source, the comedic alpha to the now three living generations that she begat.

Because, I can tell you, most of the tears that we will shed for her will not be tears of sadness or loss, though of course there will be those. Most of our tears will be shed during the entertaining stories of her vibrant living, her stunning statements and proclamations, the retellings of her adventurous mishaps and eccentricities. They will be the tears that accompany joyful nostalgia.

My father suggested playing the Kenny Rogers’ song, “Ruby,” at the funeral. When I laughed, he asked why, noting it was her favorite song.

“I love it,” I said. “I love living in a family where we can seriously suggest a country song about a woman cheating on a disabled American veteran as a possible song for my grandmother’s funeral” And I meant it. Not many people would have understood it. Some may have even been offended. But grandmother would have laughed her flaming Irish ass off.

I then suggested, only half-jokingly, that the family leave the ceremony singing “So Long, Farewell” from the Sound of Music. Again, she would have loved it. Our family would have loved it. But that’s our strange, some might say disturbing sense of humor. And it comes straight from her.

So, if you think you knew her, you were possibly only half right, probably only a quarter right. She was one of the most complicated people I knew. And the funniest without knowing it.

So…

There’s a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall
And the bells in the steeple too
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird
Is popping out to say, “Cuckoo”
Regretfully they tell us but firmly they compel us
To say goodbye
To you

Periodically I post pieces written for SPT’s The Writers’ Room Series that ended up on the cutting room floor. They are pieces that I like, but, for sundry reasons, didn’t end up in the show for which they were written.

Famous Moments in Couples Counseling:
Biscuits and Gravy

BISCUITS (male) and GRAVY (female) are sitting in couple’s therapy. They both have Southern accents.

Therapist
Well, since this is our first meeting, why don’t you tell me a little about each other. Biscuits, why not tell me a little about Gravy.

Biscuit
Well, she’s a saucy little southern girl. A little spicy, warm, comforting. She’s my perfect compliment.

Gravy
Oh, stop it, Bis. You’re just flouering me up.

Biscuit
No, it’s true. I can’t imagine life without you.

Therapist
Gravy.

Gravy
Well, Bis is a little crusty, but once he opens up to you he’s warm and tender. A little flaky, but that’s what I love about him.

Biscuit.
Pshaw.

Therapist
Well, tell me why you’re here today.

They look at each other sheepishly.

Biscuit
Well…

Gravy
Well…

Biscuit
Well, we’ve been together a long time.

Gravy
A long time.

Biscuit
Centuries, actually.

Gravy
We came over from the old country together, you know.

Biscuit
And, while we love each other dearly…

Gravy
So dearly.

Biscuit
We…um…we’re looking to spice things up a bit.

Therapist
Okay.

Gravy
See, he always wants me on top.

Buscuit
She likes things a little…messier that I usually care for.

Gravy
I like it messy, sloppy.

Therapist
I get it. So what you’re looking for is what? A change in the bedroom, or a change of partners?

They look at each other sheepishly.

Together
Bedroom. Partners. Both.

Therapist
I see.

Gravy
Is that bad?

Therapist
Well, it takes a strong relationship to handle that kind of thing. Jealousy can creep in and become a strong and dangerous influence.

Gravy
We’ve talked that through and I think we’re pretty secure in our devotion to each other. We’re really just looking for… for…

Biscuit
Sex.

Therapist
Well, have you thought about possible part—

Gravy
Chuck Fried Steak. I’ve had my eye on him for a while. He’s strong, tough, grissled. I bet he likes it rough and messy.

Biscuit
Frieda Egg.

Gravy
Really? She’s so young.

Biscuit
And bacon.

Gravy
A threesome?

Biscuit
Go big or go home.

Therapist
Okay, then.

I have entered the Twitterverse.

I have eschewed it so far. It smacks of ego to me, and I try very hard to separate myself from that sort of thing.

Tangent! My wife has never smoked. Anything. She has dreams of smoking and has had those dreams for a long time. She knows that if she ever took a drag that she would be hooked.

That’s how I feel about ego-trips. I’m afraid that if I allowed myself to buy into hype and kudos that I would be one midnight bonfire dance away from Mr. Kurtz. So I’m pretty good at keeping things in check. My wife and kids help me with that too.

I do a couple of things pretty well, but it’s in an industry that openly promotes recognition. So, if people like you or what you do you hear about it, sometimes a lot. And I’ve seen people with both great and mediocre talent buy into that hype and appreciation. They end up being difficult to work with.

Anyway Twitter has always just seemed like another way to buy into your own hype. But then I started sending out query letters for my first novel. I began researching agents and general info about the industry. I learned about the author’s platform. Ahhhhh, the platform. Welcome to the digital age.

Apparently, there are those —some agents and industry others— that look for new authors with an already vibrant platform. This means that an author already has a digital presence. That means, web site, blog, Facebook page, and Twitter presence.

Look, I want this thing. I want my book published. I want the next two published. I want people talking about the world I have created for them. I want publishers fighting to print my name on their covers —how’s that for ego? So I am going to do what I can.

So I set up my account, and guess what? “JasonAlberty” is taken. That’s right. My name is already taken. He’s my name doppelganger from Omaha. There is another Jason Alberty in Detroit, I think. Anyway, the Omaha Jason Alberty, a Facebook friend of mine, beat me to the Twitterverse. So I originally decided on “Galadahnian” because of my novel.

My wife suggested that I could have picked something harder to spell and a bit more difficult to understand. I told her “BootyHunk” was already taken —which, sadly, is not true, it’s available.

Nonetheless, I have changed my Twitter name to AlbertyBlahBlah. Hopefully that will make it easier for the three people who are interested in my daily blathering, including the very popular “3 year old acid trip” quotes.

Viva L’Ego!

Yup, you read the title of this post correctly. I just read in The Guardian online that the unfortunate next “new thing” is called, I shit you not, “body fragrancing functional candy.” It’s exactly what you fear it might be. And I have added links to prove it.

You can now eat candy that, through your very pores, excretes the smell of potpourri. Apparently discovered by the Japanese —who else— this candy uses the idea of geraniol, “a naturally occurring compound found in plants such as roses, lavender and vanilla.” It works like garlic, apparently. And asparagus. And most of us know how well asparagus works.

The Japanese created a chewing gum a couple of years ago called Otoko Kaoru, which means “man scent.” Unfortunately the man scent they chose was rose, and, for some reason, few men decided to use it and it folded.

Well, now it’s being sold in Europe and is poised to unleash itself on the American market as a product called Deo Perfume Candy. Deo. As in deodorant. And the packaging, if what they show on ConfectioneryNews.com is correct, makes it look like it should come flavored with vinegar and honey in an easy to use squirt bottle, if you know what I mean. Not the best packaging choice for me.

The best line on ConfectioneryNews.com is as follows:

… “a move to enable penetration into the market sooner.”

These dudes aren’t playing around.

And the effects are supposed to last for hours. And through multiple orifices.

Yes, we will all finally be able to say, “My shit don’t stink.”

I have been married twice. My first was to a high school sweetheart. She could have been a model. I could have been a troll. She loved me because I saved her from her family and I loved her because she saved me from myself.

The marriage was a done-deal, predestined, expected by everyone and everything. So we gave into the expectations of others. To the seeming weight of fate. It was serious business. But we never danced.

I mean we danced. We held each other standing up and swayed to music, but we never really danced. We couldn’t. We were too guarded against what we knew was the inevitable. We had steeled ourselves by keeping the dancer hidden in the dark, way in the back of the big empty room.We had saved each other, but we spent ourselves, broke each other open, then went our separate ways.

I wouldn’t change that history, but that history sits with me much like Byzantine history. Or the history of the Punic wars. Something far away over some misty-minded horizon that I just can’t quite see in full color.

But it led me here.

And now I dance. And I don’t mean standing up and swaying to the music dance. My wife and I don’t do much of that. We don’t need to. Because when we talk we dance. Sometimes it’s swing when we’re laughing. Sometimes we waltz, sitting on the sofa watching a movie holding hands. Sometimes when the tempers flare we’re a mosh pit of two flinging ourselves against each other recklessly, wildly. And, honestly, there’s a lot of chicken dance.

But the fact is that we dance, even when we’re sitting still reading the morning paper, because I’ve allowed her to see my monster in the back corner, and she has allowed me to see hers. We’ve shared our secrets, the important ones at least. And, for the first time really, it doesn’t matter to me what others think. I could have said that when I was younger, but you never really mean it. It’s more of a threat when you’re younger, a gauntlet.

She doesn’t mind that I walk from one end of the house to the other turning lights off stark naked, and I don’t mind her twenty year-old ratty Supergirl underwear. She takes my freak-outs in stride, and I nod knowingly at her rare and surprising bursts of cattitude. She allows me my football insanity even though it brings her home to a halt. And I don’t mind that she goes to see her parents every weekend she can, even though it means my home goes with her.

Maybe it’s age or wisdom or insanity. Or maybe it’s some bizarre chemical reaction between two people who’s universal dust parted eons ago and has spun through the vastness only to miraculously coalesce at the right time, in the right place to assemble again in the bodies of two people who happen to meet in some dimly lit hallway on the only inhabited planet “of a hum-drum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of the universe.” Could it be that cosmically romantic? Probably not. Luck, fate chemistry…it doesn’t matter. Because we dance.

 

Periodically I post pieces written for SPT’s The Writers’ Room Series that ended up on the cutting room floor. They are pieces that I like, but, for sundry reasons, didn’t end up in the show for which they were written.

There is No One

I’m a gardener. And that has taught me…there is no “one.” Nothing can survive on its own. That’s one of the reasons that so many people freaked out when the bees started disappearing. So much relied on that simple part of the ecosystem that losing it could be devastating.

So nothing is, as the poet John Donne wrote, an island entire of itself. Even us. We Americans like to believe in the infallible greatness of the individual. But even the hermit, as sealed off from society as he wants to be, relies on others. Even if it’s the axe he uses to chop down trees to make his hovel. Someone made that axe, probably several people. And he needs the plants to give him food. He even needs the insects to dispose of his waste.

So, if we ever feel like we are the only reason for our individual greatness, or —more like it these days— that we are alone in a sea of humanity, remember that each of us relies on the other bits of our world, and those bits rely on us.

So there it is. There is no “One”…unless that “One” is everything.