Ready, Willing, and Unable

Misanthropy is a wonderful thing.  When you stop caring about others, and by extension what they think about you, your morning routine steadily slims down to nothing.  I used to shave my face.  Now, I have a beard.  I used to comb my hair.  Now, I buzz it short.  I persist in bathing, but only because it dissuades the chiggers from taking up residence in the aforementioned facial mass. I am completely unable to fasten a necktie, and contrary to what I have been routinely told, this has yet to have any substantial negative impact on my life’s trajectory.  Then again, I majored in English, a field where the code of professional dress oscillates back and forth between this:

beat poet with beret

And this:

mcdonald's employee

(The moment of oscillation generally occurs upon realizing the beret isn’t edible.)

Be that as it may, all of the above I offer not to prove that I am lazy and/or unpleasant, which I undoubtedly am.  Rather, it is my feeble attempt to solicit pity on behalf of the individual who, in a staggering underestimation of my incompetence, invited me to stand up in his wedding – conditional on my willingness to wear a bowtie.

Or, as turned out to be the case, conditional on my ability to wear a bowtie.  Now, my neck is not abnormal in any way, shape, or form – it is soft, supple, and fits comfortably into the palms of most serial killers.  On its annual performance review, it receives generally high marks and consistently exceeds expectations in terms of keeping my head aloft.  My hands, however…  I swear to god, I do not know what is wrong with that department.  To date, they’ve proven to be useful for exactly two things – opening beer and inputting the thirty lives code for Contra.

the code

So when it came time to turn this:

untied bowtie

Into this:

bowtie tied

I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when I ended up with something closer to this:

The Mummy

So, it was time for plan B – swearing and alcohol.  Neither fundamentally altered the state of the bowtie, but I felt a lot !@#$in’ better.

Plan C then – YouTube.

The first video I encountered was titled, and I quote, “If you watch only one video on how to tie a bowtie, watch this one,” which I foolishly selected.  In truth, I wanted to watch zero videos on how to tie a bowtie but was propelled onward by some perverse combination of obligation and inebriation.  Suffice it to say, the video did not take because, at the three-minute mark, they had not made it around to even starting to tie the bowtie, and I had lost interest.

Lost interest, in this context, is code for “passed out.”

When I came to, wiped the drool off my keyboard, and remembered what the hell this mass of paisley was half-assedly wrapped around my neck, I realized it was time to get serious.  So, returning to YouTube, I pulled this bad boy up and resolved to watch it.

However, I quickly determined that ten solid minutes of video instruction from a gentleman with an English accent was above my pay grade, which, as we established earlier in this piece, is approximately minimum wage.  Two minutes in, and it rapidly became apparent I might die of old age before we concoct some form of knot, let alone anything that resembled a properly fastened tie.  That and I was bothered because the entirety of the video appeared to be of his neck.  After a couple minutes, one starts to wonder whether you are watching his Adam’s apple or if his Adam’s apple is watching you.  That and Rule 34 of the internet dictates neck fetishism is a thing, and somewhere there are websites featuring content we won’t speculate about linking back to this video.  Returning to the point, the only thing the video managed to prove was that this old guy who pointed a camera at his neck could tie a bowtie, whereas I – still – could not.

This pretty much takes us to plan D – text groom until he marvels at what a loser he asked to stand up in his wedding and delivers the bowtie pre-tied.

It wasn’t exactly a glorious victory for misanthropy.  Then again, they seldom are.

Popular Fallacies of 1924: Part One

Pulled from the musty archives of a library book sale, dusted off (slightly), and dragged into the light of day for the first time in nine decades, we present you with a selection of popular fallacies of 1924, as documented in Popular Fallacies Explained and Corrected, published in 1924 by A.S.E. Ackermann.

Popular fallacy number one: “That green wall-paper is the only kind that is likely to be dangerous on account of it possibly containing arsenic.”

Au contraire, “this is an absolute fallacy, for other coloured papers may contain arsenic.”

It ain't easy being green.

It ain’t easy being green.

Popular fallacy number two: “That cats suck the breath out of sleeping children.”

The author thankfully reassures us, “the formation of the cat’s mouth makes it impossible for it to interrupt respiration by the mouth and the nose of the child at the same time. Hence we see that while it is by no means desirable to let a cat sleep on top of a child, when this does occur it is not from any malice prepense on the part of puss.”

grumpy cat

Popular fallacy number three: “That glycerine is inflammable.”

“Being transparent and viscid it looks much like ‘refined liquid paraffin,’ the popular laxative, which is slightly inflammable, but glycerine is certainly not inflammable.”

Not a laxative. Not a fire-putter-outter.

Not a laxative. Not a fire-putter-outter.

Popular fallacy number four: “That only evil smelling odours are dangerous.”

“Chloroform has a pleasant smell, and a nice taste, but of course produces fatal results if too much is taken and the same remarks apply to sulphuric ether.”

The effects of liquid chloroform on Sir J. Y. Simpson and his friends.  ca. 1840 Chloroform: Not for candle parties anymore.

The effects of liquid chloroform on Sir J. Y. Simpson and his friends. ca. 1840
Chloroform: Not for candle parties anymore.

Popular fallacy number five: “That tobacco is a good thing with which to stop bleeding.”

On the contrary, Dr. Peter Shepherd (circa 1924) assures us, “The plan of trying to stop bleeding with tobacco must never be used, as there is great danger of the patient becoming poisoned.”

tobacco band aid

Popular fallacy number six: “That porpoise boots and shoes are made of material obtained from porpoises.”

Of course, we know this cannot be true since “porpoises have no skin, that is hide, the blubber or coating of lard which encases them being covered by a black substance, as thin as tissue paper.  The porpoise hide of the boot maker is really leather made from the skin of the Beluga, or ‘White Whale,’ which is found only in the far north.”

porpoise boots

Sparrow Spelunker

To: PBS Kids

From: Rampage Productions

Subject: Sparrow Spelunker

Let’s not beat around the bush.

You have a thing for avians.

big bird

I have one lodged in the exhaust pipe of my furnace.

house sparrow

You could do with some fresh IP.

IP intellectual property

I need $100 to extract the fresh IP from the exhaust pipe of my furnace.

100 dollar bill

You seek to excite and education your young audience.

the more you know star

I suspect the three or four nanoseconds of life that sparrow had when it encountered the exhaust blower, which to him must have seemed like a ten thousand RPM birdie buzzsaw, were both exciting and educational.

furnace blower

So without further ado, I give you your children’s television flagship property: Sparrow Spelunker.

Sparrow Spelunker

Sparrow Spelunker

It’s a show as unafraid as its protagonist(s) to grapple with the tough issues.  Issues like:

  • Why you really shouldn’t go in there

  • What will happen to you if you go in there

  • How much it will cost some innocent homeowner to scrape you out again after you do go in there

This said, I admit the title of the series is somewhat misleading in using the singular form of sparrow – it will probably require a new protagonist pretty much every episode.  While this might seem like a lot of work from a characterization standpoint, I feel the script leaves both adequate room for characterization as well as presents the opportunity to vary the racial, familial, and political history of the sparrow for a true multicultural experience.  In fact, based on the flying communist who entered my furnace in an ill-fated attempt to seize the means of heat production, I’ve put together a script outline for your consideration.

  1. Opening theme

  2. Recap of previous week

    1. “O’ Righ’ – On last week’s episode o’ Sparrow Spelunker, ol’ SS explored the exhaust on a 100,000 BTU Luxair.  Didn’t end so well for him, poor chap.  But that was then, so hang onto yer hats, kiddies, ’cause this week we’re going in the intake o’ that same 100,000 BTU Luxaire!”

  3. Spelunking

  4. Audience of British-sounding-children, in Spongebob Squarepants fashion, shouts the show’s catchphase: “Oh no, Sparrow Spelunker!  You mustn’t spelunk in there!”

  5. Furnace fires up

  6. Closing theme

I also have drafts for other possible episodes of Sparrow Spelunker.  These include such exotic, spelunk-worthy locations as a wood chipper, a fractionating tower, a muscle car air intake, and – my personal favorite – the depths of some pachyderm’s wazoo.  The last, of course, is where I sincerely wish the sparrow that inspired all of this would have flown.  You know, instead of my furnace exhaust pipe.  I could have done without meeting the furnace repair guy, who in his defense was a very nice man and more than willing to convert a bird oubliette back into an exhaust pipe in return for a picture of Benjamin Franklin.

This, of course, is where you come in, PBS.  Just send that check to Rampage Productions.

And maybe a Sparrow Spelunker t-shirt.