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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Lies

I once heard a story about Mark Twain when he was approached by the fledgling Nobel Prize committee to make a brief presentation about his new novel, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.
I fear I cannot,” he’s reported to have said. “I wear boxers.”
Of course this story is a lie. Pliable women from his era assured historians that Twain regularly went commando.
One of the great things about writing fiction, is that you don’t have to worry about things like integrity, honesty, reliability.
Fiction writers lie. The good ones lie professionally. You can say whatever you please about Mark Twain, or the queen… for instance.
The office of the privy seal is the most important office to the queen – especially after she’s had red sauce which tends to move through the royal digestive system like a freight train.
We are most pleased to find the privy unsealed expeditiously,” says Her Majesty.
Her ladies-in-waiting – some standing in line with their knees tightly clenched - agree.
Her Royal Highness isn’t going to quibble if I misquote her, or get some of the facts wrong – after all, I write fiction!
Iconic golfer Walter Hagan frequently wore mismatched socks, hoping that someone would ask him why. When someone took the bait, he told them, “Because I got a hole in one.”
Jokes were considered a recyclable commodity in the old days of golf. By the way, if you want to know more lies about Walter Hagan, his ghost is a character in Genre book #2, Volition Man (available as an e-book on Amazon someday soon – I hope.)
Also figuring prominently in Volition Man are two tee-shirts. One shirt honors World War 2 general and President Dwight Eisenhower. The other shirt depicts the Kool-Aid pitcher guy.
Now President Eisenhower, the Kool-Aid pitcher guy and Walter Hagan were playing golf. Hagan and the President were both skilled linksters but the Kool-Aid pitcher guy had never played before, so as they stood at the first tee, he asked, “What am I supposed to do?”
Hagan pointed to the first green. “You see that flag?”
Yes,” said the Kool-Aid guy.
Hit the ball as close as you can to that flag.”
Okay,” said the Kool-Aid guy, and hit the ball straight and true – landing only an inch from the hole.
Wowzers!” said the President.
Glad we didn’t bet,” said Hagan.
The three players worked their way through the hole, the President finishing with a par 4 and Hagan with a birdie 3. The Kool-Aid guy looked down on his ball still lying 1 - an inch from the hole. “What do I do now?” he asked.
You hit it in the hole,” said Hagan.
The Kool-Aid guy got so angry he got red in the face – except nobody noticed because he was Cherry Kool-Aid and started out red in the face.
Why didn’t you tell me that in the first place!”
I won’t tell you if that last story is a lie or not. Generally, it’s probably a good idea not to rely on anything you read in this post – and having said that…
I want to take this opportunity to thank those of you who have read Just Plain Stupid for the last year. I have found this occupation rewarding enough that I don’t care that it hasn’t made me any money, or that Go Figure Reads still hasn’t published anything I’ve written other than Trouble in Taos which is selling like
Chryslers in Tokyo.

There’s something you can depend on.
Sorry - no vid today - internet problems... HONEST!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Art for Points

I wrote this column after the 2002 Winter Games. Since that time, Dancing with the Stars and other worthless programming has proven me to be a prophet.
I wasn't hoping to make prophesy so much as profitcy. Oh well…
Hey, I managed to get through another even numbered year without viewing the spectacular tedium that is, opening and closing ceremonies.
Don’t get me wrong, I like the Olympics. Where else am I going to get my fix of water polo? The spectacle of finely tuned athletes playing beach ball keep away without a parent shouting, “Don’t play like that, you’re making waves!” satisfies something basic and juvenile in my soul.
I also enjoy the guys zipping around as fast as they can on cross-country skis with automatic weapons strapped to their backs. This may be an everyday event in Bosnia but it’s a novelty for me.

Oh, and the skeletons, named after the remains of the first dozen idiots who tried it. With these sleds getting constantly smaller will we eventually have people sliding faster than my Yugo ever dreamed of going on two sharpened credit cards held in Vaseline coated isotoners?
Of course the star attraction of the winter games is the ice-skating and this is where I get confused. Like most guys, I watch and enjoy the women’s program (no straight men watch the guys). We find the lady’s costumes, er, culturally stimulating and when we turn the down the commentary and crank up the Led Zeppelin, it’s pretty cool.

Then comes the judging. For me, the judging is an opportunity to check the refrigerator and see if it truly is as devoid of beer and cheese whiz as it appeared to be half an hour ago. There’s no point in actually watching it. You’re just going to hear Scott Hamilton or Peggy Fleming complain about how low the scores were and that the judge from Crackinthewallia has been paid off and should be shot. Instead of listening to them agonize, I walk over to the CD player and program it to skip Stairway to Heaven.
Somebody should tell these people that figure skating is not a sport. The artists who figure skate are very athletic but they aren't doing a sport.

What amazes me is how angry some people get when I say that. Mikhail Baryshnikov was one of the most athletic people of the 70s but he wasn't a sportsman. Should dance be entered as an event on the 2004 summer games? Will the true fans of the art form appreciate it more because this year the Alvin Alley School hopes to knock off the Bolshoi in the medal round?
I understand the desire to be considered the best in your field but should every aspiring artist now become a competitor?
Mr. Pollock, we’re giving you high points for originality but you really crapped out on technical merit. Perhaps you should re-read the IOC booklet on brushstroke compulsories.”
Thank you parents for attending our third grade production of “The Pink Siamese.” Please refrain from videotaping as it may interfere with the judging.”

It’s a good story Mr. Steinbeck, but I think it’ll impress the judges more if you make the ending a little more - upbeat.”
Man, I was hoping to get into Julliard, but I got low marks in the trials because my French horn clashed with my sequins.”
I can’t hear you, I have souffle in my ear. I made the mistake of giving Julia Childs a 4.3.”
And as the Temple of Faith choir gently sings, “Just as I am,” give Jesus a 6.0 by asking him to take the gold medal podium in your heart.”
There’s great excitement here in London as George Harrison will be challenging Jimi Hendricks’ 30 year stranglehold in the guitar riffs by dead peoples competition.”
Art is by its very nature, innovative. Each generation must build upon and revolutionize the best of what came before. Are we willing to sacrifice a Degas, a Dali or even a Mapplethorpe just because some international board decides to make Michelangelo the standard?
There’s beauty in the unpopular. Rarely does truth lie in the will of the masses.
I look at figure skating now and I see a lovely diversion, sweet, sometimes over-sweet. Could it be that the muckety mucks of international competitions have strangled a true art form? Might there have been a Balanchine on blades - past by - for the hope of gold and national glory?

Maybe someday, a brave soul will pause in the midst of her triple lutzes and double toe loops, take a breath, see beyond the rink, feel the ice beneath her feet and bring us something truly wonderful.
Maybe even take a page from the guys playing water polo, ignoring those well meaning parents, making those waves.


My nephew - Horrid Hauser, assures me that the actors in this vid are training for the 2016 Summer Games.


Thursday, February 20, 2014

Revenge of the T-Shirts

Yup - another T-shirt post - because I can't stop looking at people who're trying to tell the world they don't trust their own mouth to be witty.
I'm not usually into insults but...
C'mon - admit it!  You've thought it.
Oops
Didn't Socrates say, "Know thyself?"  Oh, that's right - he didn't speak English
I enjoy people's personal issues
What was I going to say about this...?
That's why they're shaped that way
Doesn't everyone have that problem?  All of us do.
I wonder if they do that in China
My favorite
Then there are the profound thoughts
fixes everything!
Way to be!
I know a politician that should have thought of that.
If only world peace was so easy
and finally
Sometimes I don't even stop to put on pants!
How about a little Weird Al?

Monday, February 17, 2014

Music Deep Inside


John Phillip Sousa: A man who felt that unwieldy instruments designed to be played in carefully constructed concert halls would be better implemented causing scoliosis among adolescents in parades across rutted and muddy football fields.

Patriotic March: A style of music revolutionized by John Phillip Sousa because he believed that chauvin-style patriotism and war were too short in supply.

The Sousaphone: Created by John Phillip Sousa because no instrument of the orchestra was sufficiently annoying.

The Steel Guitar: Not invented by John Phillip Sousa, only because he never thought of it.
It’s been my privilege, over the years, to watch the parents of many budding musicians. I particularly enjoy seeing how parents respond when their young angel starts a band called “Death on a Cracker.” I make it a point to visit on band night. It’s not that I particularly enjoy hearing musical wannabes, ten years from instrumental competence strain their yard sale equipment in an effort to make sure “the hottie down the street can hear us.” What I really enjoy is sitting at the kitchen table with the Mom and Dad.
The bass amp, downstairs, turns the spoon in my teacup into an unwilling percussion instrument. After several unrecognizable cover tunes they break into their future hit, “You’ve got my cupcake in your spleen.”

The kids are pretty excited, thinking that they’re breaking new ground. The parents are struggling with mixed feeling of pride, dread, nostalgia, and the epiphany that they finally understand their parents. I’m feeling pretty smug, having no kids of my own and knowing I can leave before the Advil runs out.
I’ve lived just long enough to wise up to the fact that life presents certain consistencies. I’m not talking just about death, taxes and the French being rude; I’m talking about more significant patterns. Wise King Solomon wrote that there’s nothing new under the sun. I’m willing to wager that thought occurred to him while Rehoboam and the Diaspora were rehearsing in the basement.
It makes me wonder about Mr. and Mrs. Sousa, John Phillips parents.
When you name a kid “John Phillip,” you must be hoping the kid will turn out to be some kind of weenie. John Phillip took a lot of ribbing as he waited with the other kids at the school carriage stop each morning. Smart-ass violinists kept poking him with their bows and although Mom and Dad had bought him a harpsichord for his birthday, he couldn’t take it on the carriage with him or use it to defend himself. It was at this time that John Phillip began imagining a world in which all non-aggressive children had a sixty-pound metal instrument with leather case that they could use to whomp the heck out of violin players.

It was when he started getting together with a hundred of his friends in their basement when Mr. and Mrs. Sousa’s headaches began.
Really son, patriotism is a fine thing but I’ve had to recaulk the window twice since you and your friends started meeting here. Maybe you should consider a new arrangement of Yankee Doodle for small instruments only.”
Like most people, I grew up going to July 4th picnics and high school football games. I enjoy a charred hamburger as much as the next guy and who could find fault with boys in their late formative years lining up over an ovoid air filled leather bladder and on cue do their level best to injure the fellow on the other side. The fun would end (or at least be suspended) when it came time for the after barbecue concert or halftime entertainment. Pubescent and post-pubescent players of protrudinous platnumised pot-metal promenade precariously while a pudgy pompous impresario with a pompadour pushes, pouts and points in a practically pornographic paroxysm of pointless pedagogy (please excuse, my doctor said I had to do alliteration exercises every day to prevent tongue cancer). All this is done in an attempt to create obscenely loud elevator music.
John Phillip did write the theme for Monty Python so at least he showed the good taste to be a Terry Gilliam fan but why continue with his music? Even Sousa’s original vision is no longer valid as incidents of children being attacked by rowdy violinists are way down. A wise guy in the back suggests it’s a conspiracy of the NEA and bedlam-loving music storeowners. I don’t buy it.
Maybe people have trouble envisioning an eighty five-piece rock band in stiff, polyester uniforms, with portable amps walking in file and spelling out “bobcats” in perspiration darkened primary colors. Maybe if more talked to my red-eyed friends across from my rattling teacup, they might catch the vision.

And now for half-time, the Abbeyville marching rock bad will be playing, ‘You’ve got my cupcake in your spleen.’”

I kinda like this band - the dorky host?  Not so much.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Anti-Writer Abolitionism


Anti-Writer Abolitionism
by Headley Hauser

Slavery is alive today
Fictional characters are chattel
Though they’re significant others
To book lovers everywhere
They are oppressed, beaten and killed
By writers
That callous breed
No wonder most writers are poor

Given a choice
Would James Bond be so shallow?
Professor Snape so nasty?
Jacque Chirac so snooty?

You think Jacque Chirac is real?
Gullible, aren’t you?

King and Clancy
Fill entire graveyards with their fictional dead
Yet they walk free

I try to be more kind
I try not to kill my characters
Their hardships tend to be self-inflicted
But I’m far from innocent

I made a character eat an onion once
He was hungry
It’s all I gave him
He refused to finish the narrative
His unfinished story
Gathers dust on my shelf

Fictional characters may have no legal rights
But they have wills
And recourse

Some characters are strong enough to get their way
I’ve wrestled with many
The times I win
The story loses
Resulting in a shallow tale
Or a fictional job action
AKA
Writer’s block

A few characters get published
They are known for who they are
Not what their writer tried to make them
They don’t begrudge the writer the royalties
It’s usually not much
What’s a fictional character going to do with money?

They dream of life
Far beyond the normal span of mortals
Achilles lives in a lovely brownstone on the west side
Gilgamesh fishes for Marlin off the Keys
They both visit the library
And used bookstores
And high school English classes

Just like the rest of us
Life is good
For the lucky few
The few that conquer their writer masters

Till they make the movie
And the struggle begins again


With directors and actors

Have I posted this video yet?  Well YouTube didn't recognize the one I wanted - so you get it again.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Bust a Move Please and Bleach that Music



Growing up in the sixties, I didn't question Super Market music. It would be Lerner and Loewe or Mantovani. The complexities of life distilled to the basic questions: pot roast or chicken for dinner, should I chance the brand X creamed corn or stick with Del Monte? The music was never loud enough to drown out the squeaky wheel on the shopping cart or the fussy baby in the next aisle. The music was there to turn off your brain so you didn't really care about anything else. If you got to the store near closing time, you got Benny Goodman or Rimsky-Korsakov. It still turned off your brain but it made you push the cart faster.


It came as quite a shock the first time I heard Lennon and McCartney over those speakers. It was Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band but something had changed. It sounded like it was being played by a real lonely heart’s club. The life was gone. They’d found a way to sap rock and make it as bland as Benny Goodman – at least as I knew Benny Goodman.
Then I listened to actual Benny Goodman records. He wasn’t bland either! Those speakers made him sound bland or, more accurately, the magicians at Muzak made him bland.
Mind control for elevators and shopping venues. For someone who spent two hours trying to hypnotize his poodle by rocking a metal washer on a string, this was the kind of power I could appreciate. So for twenty years now, I've been waiting for Muzak’s greatest challenge: Muzak rap.

I'm here with the homies down in the hood
Sitting with a ‘ho but we think she’s good
Breathin’ in the smog but we’re glad we’re alive
And franks and beans are on sale in aisle five

Sing it quiet quiet quiet
Sing it quiet quiet quiet

Yo being in the city ain’t all crime and drugs
Cause even when you’re dealin’ you make time for hugs
We run from the man don’t want to sit in county
When the crib gets dusty we use the Pledge and the Bounty

Bounty buy it buy it buy it
Bounty buy it buy it buy it

The cops in this cow town are always disrespectin’
We’re barely out of lock-up when they’re out re-arrestin’
And just when we think that life has lost its savor
Mountain Dew comes comes and breaks out a brand new flavor

New flavor try it try it try it
New flavor try it try it try it

Everything that they give us is full of venom and hate
They think they can own us but we don’t take the master’s bait
There are times that every white guy I’d like to go slay
But I just can’t stay mad at you – have a nice day


Maybe if would look better if I had this guy in the background.


Thursday, February 6, 2014

Headley Who and How

Hauser: A name of German derivation meaning one who provides shelter (house – haus) or protection – an innkeeper
There’s a war among Hausers. It’s the war of Who and How. About half the Hausers in North America (largely in the North,) pronounce their name Howzer. The other half (largely in the South,) pronounce it Whoozer.
Those of you with simpler names like Smith, Jones, and Dostoyevsky might think this is only a matter of preference, of gentle disagreement, at worst, of good natured ribbing.
Nope; it’s war. I’ve stood across a desk from another Hauser (who pronounced it the other way,) and watched him get red in the face and ball his fists. I might have been worried if he hadn’t been built like a skinnier version of Barney Fife.
It’s the unresolved issue of the Civil War. “Alright,” said the Southern Hausers (Whoozers,) “we’ll give up the slaves, accept heavy tariffs on cotton, and recognize the supremacy of the government in Washington…
But we ain’t callin’ ourselves Howzer!”
Andrew Johnson – who didn’t much care about any of Lincoln’s policies, but really liked the White House Jacuzzi, shrugged. “Okay, just pass the loofah, will you?”

And so the issue remains unresolved.
The 2.3 dozen of you who’ve seen my unfairly cancelled television show: Headley and the Rug (and Cral) know on which side of the fence I belong.
But I think it’s time to give peace a chance.
Hauser Peace
by Headley Hauser

I don’t know who
And I don’t know how
Us Hausers came
To fight and row
(row is pronounced the Northern way)

A Hauser houses
Or else protects
And keeps his beds
Free of insects

He sits his house
At the crossroad
So that the traveler
Can drop his load

A peaceful sort
Down to the core
Cause Germans never
Go to war

And so for PEACE
To all, I cry
I’ll pronounce my name
Not Who
Nor How…

But Why.

So, if anyone asks you what blogs you read, and you feel like admitting that you read this one – tell them you read, Just Plain Stupid by Headley Hauser – pronounced Whyzer.

Just don’t confuse that with Wiser.

Here's a truly wise commercial