Cloaking Device

Harry P. can go ahead and be jelly, ‘cuz I’m the hip-hoppin’est invisible G in the hizzy.

I really have no idea how kids talk anymore…

Posted in Vlog | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mr. Nibbles Died Without a Name

A young rabbit in my backyard  from a couple of generations ago.

A young rabbit in my backyard from a couple of generations ago.

As happens sometimes, I sat down at my desk this morning and couldn’t come up with anything to write about. I skimmed my reserve list of ideas, then skimmed it again. I considered just diving in, but that never seems to work out for me. I turned to current events, hoping that I could insert a new opinion of the happenings in our world. I thought about Ferguson then of ISIS and the recent bombings in Syria. But I didn’t think I could bring any fresh perspective at the moment.

I decided to clear my mind by mowing the lawn (and also because it had to be done). I changed out of my clothes into my lawn-cutting rags. I went downstairs and outside. I opened the shed and pulled a trash bin out back. I carefully moved the propane tank (as to not disturb the spiders living on the handle) and pulled out the lawnmower. I began to cut the grass.

About two minutes into the task I stopped and stared: Along the path I was just about to cut through next was a little rabbit, on its side and clearly dead.

Rabbits have a certain position they obtain when they die—like how spiders roll over on their backs and curl their legs up. Rabbits, however, always look as if they’d just laid down and died asleep, legs out. Unfortunately, they also often die with their eyes open, suggesting something less peaceful than dying in their sleep.

I cut the engine of the lawnmower and walked over to the little guy. Definitely dead. I wasn’t sure for how long because I didn’t want to touch him—not because I was afraid of disease, but because I was afraid of that stiff, yet soft feeling that would run through the nerves of my fingers and up into my brain, stained there forever.

I also couldn’t figure out how it died. There was no blood or sign of struggle. It’s still possible that it was a neighborhood cat. Or perhaps it died from exposure to the cold night. I even rolled over the possibility that my dad (from whom I inherited my love for rabbits) had found it elsewhere in the yard and had set it beside the shed to bury later.

After a minute of watching the rabbit—the neighbor’s dogs barking at me all the while—I went into the garage and retrieved a shovel. And for the next few minutes, I dug a hole in the ground for him.

The worst part about it all, I realized immediately, was that the rabbit died right next to where two of our family pets were buried. There was our dog Max and, beside him, my pet rabbit Clover. Not two feet from where Max was, this little rabbit—probably only a teenager in rabbit years—had died. And now I had to start digging a grave in the semi-hard earth, hoping I didn’t accidentally chop into poor Max.

Luckily I didn’t, and I managed to get the rabbit into the hole and covered again.

As I scraped the last of the dirt over the rather shoddy grave, a thought came to my mind: It seemed wrong, somehow, that this poor creature be buried next to two beloved pets and not have a name himself. So I named him Mr. Nibbles*. The name was completely spontaneous, but seemed to fit the lives of the rabbits that live in our backyard (and, well, rabbits everywhere).

I paused for a second, then went back to mowing.

As I continued on, I began to feel a little bit bad for not saying something over the grave. I’m not a religious person, so there are no prayers I could give; and it’s not like I knew Nibbles personally—I couldn’t reminisce with a quirky anecdote about his favorite time of day to eat grass.

See, I don’t really do death well. It’s not that I get too emotional over any dead thing—in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I shut down, emotionally. I treat it as if it was nothing. Not just animals, either—humans too. Humans that I knew.

It’s not healthy, I know, but it’s just how I function. Sometimes I wish I could be that blubbering mess at funerals who others pat on the back and mutter, “It’s okay.” Sometimes I wish I could express myself that freely.

Instead, I can’t even muster up a single tear for a teenaged rabbit, dead from unknown causes. I’m still sentimental—I can still feel that it’s a shame for the poor guy to be buried without a name—but I can’t ever seem to drag my feelings to the surface.

Hundreds of miles away, people are still mourning the deaths of people wrongly murdered. Mothers will live with the idea that they will have no remains of their sons to bury from the rubble of a drone strike. Women will make excuses for the men that smash their faces in. Mentally disturbed individuals with load guns one bullet at a time with far more thought than they’ll give the bodies that will become the home of those bullets. Beatings will occur today. Torture will exist. Heads will turn away from violence all over the world.

But right here at home, some kid will feel bad for not stopping to say a few words for a rabbit called Nibbles who died without a name.

Footnotes:
*Actually, just Nibbles, but somehow all my names for animals end up with a prefix—Mr., Mrs., Dr., Professor, etc.
Posted in Flash Nonfiction | Tagged , , , , , , | 28 Comments

Conspiracy Talk: The Flat Earth Society

Yeah, five minutes of me rambling on about my love of the Flat Earth Society. Originally it was something like twenty minutes, so I had to cut it down–but trust me when I say there is so much more ridiculousness that goes along with this group of people. So CHECK. THEM. Out. I don’t know why I went with caps there.

Posted in Vlog | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s an Ads World We Live In

I found your template, crappy ad-filled websites.

I found your template, crappy ad-filled websites.

Occasionally I get suckered into hitting a clickbait article link. It’s okay, I can admit it and therefore can start the healing process. But I must admit that my thirst to know “10 Secrets You Never Knew About ‘90’s Cartoons” can be easily squashed by a site with too many ads.

A certain understanding should come into play in this new world of information technology: Ads are money. We buy things, we go places—sure—but we will never escape ads.

They’re on our phones and our computers and tablets; they’re on buses and on giant signs in the sky; television now as a 3-to-1 ratio of programming-to-commercials; respectable newspapers allow ads masked as news articles to be printed in their publications; we sit through commercials when we go to the theater! When I bring my Kindle Fire up from sleep mode, the first thing I see is an ad. Even as I sit here typing this up on my Microsoft Word Starter, there is a tiny, changing ad in the bottom right-hand corner of the window.

Ads are so prominent in our society that it’s not unheard of to see people with tattoos of product logos. Tattoos of product logos. Your love for dodge trucks must run really deep if you allow yourself to be permanently branded with their ram’s head icon.

We live in a time in which one click can be equal to one quarter. In which more money goes into marketing a product than developing the product itself. In which one good viral campaign can make you a millionaire.

On some levels I find this all amazing. How did we get here? How does a country that once prided itself on manufacturing worry more with the right font or background music?

But on other levels, I find it highly disturbing. Not because marketing money is a sort of invisible transaction, but because it’s so overwhelming. It makes me wonder if I have any personal taste that’s completely mine. Do I truly love the products I love? Or do they just have a great marketing team? Are the services I subscribe to worth my dime? Or am I just in it because they made me think I need it?

A few weeks ago I made up the picture at the top of this entry mocking certain websites. And while my friends on Facebook found it funny, it wasn’t really meant as a joke. I designed it after finding that I couldn’t swim through the ads of a particular page. That “template” is actually pretty accurate to said site.

I think people who make money from ads are impressive. It’s a feat that I can marvel at. However, I keep finding it difficult to try and sidestep into the industry. I have two sites—this blog and its associated vlog, neither of which I’ve monetized yet. You’ll occasionally find ads on both sites, but they aren’t from me (WordPress shows ads unless you pay them not to, and when you use certain copyrighted songs on YouTube they place ads on that video to compensate), but every time I say to myself, “Maybe now is the right time to do it,” I just can’t seem to.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m not a marketing guy. Sometimes I think that because of this, I’ll never make money in this ad-driven world. Instead, I prefer people to feel like they’re getting something for their money* (or clicks, as it were).

For the online artist, ads are a huge help, though. I know that a lot of my favorite people are forced to put them up on their sites. Which is a shame, since nothing looks better than a clean, ad-free page.

One day I might have the fan base so that monetizing would be well worth it. But until that day, I’ll keep my sites as ad-free as possible. I’ll never say that I’ll never have them, though, because in a world where avoiding seeing ads is damn near impossible, making money without them is even less likely.

Footnotes:
*Which is why I put up my Etsy shop again! CLICK HERE TO SEE IT ALL CAPS!
Posted in Essays | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Sexiest Facial Hair

After much discussion with some friends, we decided that the creepiest facial hair is NOT the pencil-line chin strap; the creepiest facial hair is NOT the pencil-thin mustache just above the lips; the creepiest facial hair is NOT the flesh-colored, non-ironic Fu Manchu. No, the creepiest facial hair would be one in which you outlined where your natural facial would normally be…with facial hair.

But then I trimmed myself up and, damn, what a sexy beast, guys! Everyone should start doing this because the ladies love it. During the twenty minutes I had this facial hair, I had to lock myself up in my house to keep the women off me.

Pretending is fun…

Posted in Vlog | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Door-to-Door Jesus Salesmen

It never quite surprises me when I answer the door to find a couple of folks in their Sunday Best, clutching pamphlets and sporting painful-looking smiles. I live in a place where it’s fairly common. Two to three times a year I’ll get someone on the front stoop looking to enlighten me on the subject of insert-religion-here. Even more common are the street sellers; those that go up and down busy streets looking to talk to those of us jaunting down the sidewalks.

I always try to be as polite as I can. After all, this is a task that they feel—for one reason or another—that they have to do. They’re just doing their job for the church. I listen to their opening speech, searching for a way to slip into the conversation—not because I want to get rid of them right away, but because I feel bad they’re wasting their time on me. I always smile back and talk in a reasonable voice. And before they leave I offer them a bottle of water.

I nod along until they’re done and ask me something like, “Doesn’t that sound nice?” or “We just wanted to know what you think about that?” First of all; no, you don’t want to know what I think about that. Which is why I give my kindest smile and reply to them, “I’m not in the market for a new religion.”

This is a slight that usually goes unnoticed. I’m really comparing them to the door-to-door salesmen of old.

Believe it or not, I’m old enough to remember door-to-door salesmen. I’m not talking lawn-care guys, either. I’m talking about legit, products-under-arms, fantastic-speech-from-memory, door-to-door salesmen.

When I was a kid a guy came to our door selling vacuum cleaners. At the time I could care less—I was watching cartoons as the man showed my mother how well his product worked. He probably stayed only for a few minutes (enough time to show the “dirt” from our carpet, which I now realize was a marketing scam) but it felt like he’d been there forever, interrupting my TV time. Later in life I would marvel at the idea that an honest-to-god vacuum salesman had been in our house. That’s something you only see in TV shows from the 1950’s.

But those street stomping marketers died out a long time ago as things like internet shopping and the everything stores came into power. And with the exception of the aforementioned lawn-care guys who are ready to point at the single brown spot on your grass with raised eyebrows, door-to-door sales is an absurd thought anymore.

Except when it comes to religion.

We find it completely non-shocking to find Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses at our door, wide-eyed yet ready for rejection.

My biggest curiosity at this is actually regarding the number of converts they get through this tactic. Does this sort of thing work? Especially in a town as religiously stubborn as ours? Where the Catholics are Catholic and the Protestants are Protestant and the Jews are Jewish and the Atheists are Atheist. I don’t know a single person who has said to me, “Y’know, I’ve been looking for a new religion. I wonder which one is the best…”

Frankly, when it comes down to it, I think it’s all about remaining in existence. It’s a way of letting people know they’re still there. Or, rather, they’re still here. I’d completely forget that every religion that’s not those of my family and friends are present in my city if it weren’t for these guys.

It’s like when you see religious protesters holding signs that say marriage equality is a sin or abortion is murder. They’re not converting anyone to their line of thinking—only reminding others that their line of thinking still exists. The opposite of the “silent majority”; the loud minority.

What’s great about door-to-door religion salesmen, however, is their calm demeanor and willingness to have a conversation. It’s hard to get a Mormon mad! There’s a reason for that, of course—they’re so confident in their beliefs that getting angry at people for not believing those things is ridiculous. One would have to have confidence in their beliefs in order to go from house-to-house talking about them.

They’re also completely willing to answer your questions—even if you’re only asking them out of sarcasm or to prove a point. If you ever want to get into a genuine conversation—not argument or debate, but conversation—on religion, there’s no better person to talk to than those religion peddlers.

The other nice thing about those laden with this task is their willingness to just leave. Usually after my “Not in the market for a new religion” remark they thank me for my time and go on. Try getting out of religion talk with your family on Thanksgiving. It’s not easy.

There are a couple of female Mormons that frequent one of my favorite streets. If male Mormons are polite, female Mormons are downright kind. Whenever they stop me (they never seem to remember that we’ve talked before) I’ll chat them up about this or that. Just before leaving they offer to pray for something on my behalf—not a “Let us bow our heads” type of prayer, but a “Hey, I’ll be praying later, want me to toss something in there for ya?” type of prayer. I usually say no thanks, noting that, “I have a sister who does that for me.”

Occasionally I’ll try flirting with them just to see the response I get. You know what response I get? The nicest laughs and the smoothest shutdown I’ve ever gotten from any woman I’ve ever flirted with. They even reject you kindly!

At worst, these people are mild annoyances: I have to get up to answer the door; they stopped me on my way to pick up food. Which is why I also don’t understand why people get so angry at door-to-door Jesus salesmen. Is it some threat to their own religion? Does it bring up some self-doubt in them? All you have to do is say, “No, thanks. Would you like a bottle of water for the road?” and they’re on their way in no time.

And, hey, at least we don’t have to deal with vacuum salesmen trying to trick you into thinking your house is dirtier than it really is, anymore. Just religion salesmen trying to make you think your soul is dirtier than it really is.

Posted in Flash Nonfiction | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Product Placement

 

I hired myself to do a video with a product placement in it, but as per usual, I fucked it up. Oh well.

But you can visit my Etsy shop here! That’s what I was trying to plug, but…y’know…I can’t do anything right. EXCEPT THE THINGS ON MY ETSY SHOP!

Hey! I also added a new page to my site where you can preview and find direct links to my Etsy, which now has products up. View the page by clicking the button above, or by lazily clicking this link here.

Posted in Vlog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment