From The Saltine Council of America

We ordinarily eschew commercial endorsements,
but this is a particularly worthwhile message for
your consideration.

This is Sad, Even for a Thursday

No bees were harmed in the making of this twaddle.

Scrubbing Pots

Don’t use use steel pads or abrasive cleaning agents on a Le Creuset, it damages the enamel. Baking soda and dish detergent can lift burnt residue with persistent hand scrubbing or aid of an electric toothbrush.

A Draw Up the Block From Bloomie’s

I went to “Sketch Night” at the Society of Illustrators on East 63rd tonight.

About 40 people sat around an improvised stage in the large dining hall and sketched a male and female model, both of whom had three costume changes apiece. The evening was dubbed “Vanity and Friends.”

One of the female’s gowns was a 60s haute couture volcanic bloom that made the bare- shouldered model appear to either be stuck mid-sacrifice or possibly emerging from it like porcelain lava. Another one had a prominent, predatory black zipper up the back and breast cups that looked like twirly crinoline puff pastries or possibly hydrangeas.

The guy reminded me of Charlie Manson on Prozac or a semi-feral French monk who’d got caught up in his auntie’s wardrobe chest, where auntie in his case was a retired groupie who followed Black Sabbath and Grand Funk Railroad.

They dressed extravagantly but only held the first hours’ poses for about five minutes apiece, enough time for me to adjust my glasses and find the pen I’d dropped under my chair.

Noticing the sketchers themselves stayed still a lot longer, I drew them first. Later on, the models’ poses lasted longer, so I made a few stabs.

What Happens When You Die?

Death is life without doubts. 
The worst has happened, what a huge relief.

Years of nagging doubt can wreck your looks, hence the oft-repeated phrase at funerals,“(S)he looks good.” My friend Ed was at the funeral of his uncle, whose remains had been returned north following his unexpected demise in Miami. Gazing into the coffin, his mom said, “He looks good.”

Ed reflected thoughtfully and replied, “Well, he should, ma— he just got back from Florida.” Ed’s mom thought that the immediate lift this gave her spirits should be shared with her grieving sister-in-law. Ed had his doubts. Ed in fact had grave doubts. But his stubborn mother crossed the parlor and Ed watched her convey the Florida angle to the widow. The result was bad, confirming Ed’s doubts.

Doubt is a nag. You want a life strategy that’s nag-free but not necessarily doubt-free. Doubt is important, it’s life-affirming. Doubt hedges against stupid. Doubt reads the label, vets strangers, checks the forecast and calculates the consequences. A decision without doubt is called impulse. Impulse is what you resort to when your starship has four flats. Doubt would’ve checked the air before departure.

Religion, not to be impolite, is a doubt strategy. Somebody’s letting you in on the secret to a doubt-free life. Lots of somebodies belong to this religion; its doubt strategies have all been thought through. The doubt-work’s been done for you. The worst that can happen— death— no longer holds you in fear. You want to share this wonderful doubt-free life. Eventually you come to learn that competing religions cast doubts on yours, so they need annihilating. Your capacity to doubt this logic has been removed, so it all makes sense.

Life with doubts is better than a doubtful death. Poltergeists (not a religion) have this problem. They’re nagged with doubts whether they’re dead or not. Poltergeists want it both ways, sort of like folks who voted for Ralph Nader or Ross Perot. The only guaranteed doubt remedy is death, so if you fervently and noisily insist you’re doubt-free, you may in fact already be dead and not know it.

Fragrance Industry Mind Control

Pheromones aren’t the final frontier, they’re the first one.
Engineer the smell and behavior bypasses the brain.
A lot of otherwise pretty smart folks are making bad choices.
This is happening, right under your nose.

Bird Story

When I was thirteen, I found a sparrow chick fallen from its nest.

The local vet said that if you feed him raw burger on a straw he’s got a 50/50 chance of survival. I kept him in a cigar box with rags and twigs and doted on him. He thrived. When he was old enough, I taught him to fly. I'll never forget how his hurt look changed to amazement when I dropped my perch finger for the umpteenth time and he suddenly realized what his wings were for. A week and many painful mirror collisions later, he was fully fledged, so I took him outside and set him free.

He flitted off, but not too far. Talked a blue streak from an overhead branch, circled and landed, circled and landed, telling me the whole time what a freakin miracle he was experiencing. Took him half an hour to finally fly away.

A month later a crowd was gathered at the community beach as I rowed up in my canoe. There in the middle of this amazed circle of folks was my guy, holding court. A tiny little overjoyed preacher, head cocked up, chirping a mile a minute as he hopped about, addressing each one of his gathered flock in turn. I made my little call from the back of the group and he immediately shot straight up, hovered until he spotted me, then lit onto my finger.

Course I was fit to bust, being Doctor Doolittle like that. He had so many tales to tell, so much excitement and wonder that he just gushed over with.

When I rowed home, he gingerly perched on the butt of my oar as it took lazy strokes through that firelit lake and he imparted a few last thoughts which he emphasized with little nods and tilts of his head. Finally, he made some artful loops above the boat, soaring in ever bigger and higher circles until he became part of the sunset.

Soul of the Internet at the Ramparts

The FCC’s going into last rounds of decisions about Open Internet and activists outside FCC headquarters are putting up a Jumbotron—here’s one submission for broadcast:

How To Be a Feminist

First, remove the notion “feminist” means weak or lesser. Women have survived every war, conflict and debacle men have concocted and were there to pick up the pieces.
Next, if you’re not a woman, conceive conception...wrap your head around having a human being exit your groin. Paradoxically, an analogy Bill Cosby came up with helps: take your lower lip and pull it over your head. Then consider that’s only the final phase of nine months acting like life is pretty normal despite daily changes to your body that that lunch table scene in the movie “Alien” only hints at. The “sensitive sex” has pain tolerances men get faint just guessing at.

To be a feminist, just understand why nobody ever says Father Nature. If not an outright oxymoron, it only conjures man-made chaos. Mother Nature’s chaos is so much less frequent; she is predominantly orderly, fecund and accommodating. But when she does get pissed off, there’s no refuge, no quarter. Men soil themselves and cry for their mommies.
Because of this extreme power imbalance men were deemed needful of more muscle mass. Sadly, without a feminist sense of proportion, it dominates their brain.

Pays to Remember the Little Things

Adweek says millennials want “authenticity” because they hate advertising. Sounds right. The list of people who like advertising is shorter than the one for people who want rectal cancer.

It’s too bad that 20-somethings never knew commercial-free anything. Because in a mythical past, movies were just movies, journalists did journalism, and politicians were corrupt in secret. These days the bribes aren’t just obvious, they’re mandatory. Everybody’s on the make, everything’s a transaction and authenticity is a renegade aberration of the rat race on steroids that Madonna set off with Material Girl. Oh yeah, it’s on her.

Coming from an age of illusionment I know what I’m talking about. Once, we were dedicated to preserving the illusion money didn’t rule everything. It actually made things sexier. Don’t think so? Picture something really sexy and then stick Donald Trump into it. Capisce?

So my heart goes out to an age of disillusionment and the generation doing their best to restore authenticity—or at least identify it. A note of caution: there’s always a beat ’em or join ’em moment along the way. Try not to screw it up.

100% Off the Newstand Price

When the profane holds court and the fashion is taunting contempt for dignity and tradition; even as patience, virtue and decency fade like scallop-edged Kodaks into a virtual wasteland of now, now, now, always three milliseconds to fast, hot and vulgar, things like this will pop up, challenging the order and meaning of things, disrupting for the sake of disruption and then passing like casual flatulence into the ancient bijou seat cushions of eternity.

The Path of Enlightenment

The road is long and fraught with struggle.
Persevere, persevere.

Sunday and Done Child

Good in every way earns the right kind of wrinkles.

Saturday’s Child

Works hard for a living.
Getting aphorism fatigue already.

60s Underground Cartoonist

Popped in out of nowhere, brought by some weed. Rambled on about “metacognition.” The years have been pretty good to him, except for the hair—his freak flag kinda flew. But he still had that fire in the belly, and by that I mean he probably hadn’t had a square meal in awhile.

I cooked up some fajitas and we traded tequila shots into the wee hours.

By way of thanks he left behind a ’toon; it’s anybody’s guess what he’s on about.

We’ve got to get back to the garden.

Weather Forecast PhD

What they’re piling Higher and Deeper ain’t snow.

From Beyond the Rim

It’s not enough the Chinese own all our debt—they want our Coach bags, too.

Raji’s Untimely Demise

He was not well loved, but was born of high caste and great affluence.

These were times when wealth occluded all other measures of men and while the kingdom suffered dire want, hunger and despair, the Raji laughed scornfully and declared that karma ordained it.

Upon the first birthday of his third decade, an elephant was given him as a gift which sat upon him and the people saw that it was good.

Fresh Outrage

President Obama loves terrorists since he didn’t go to France supporting Charlie Hebdo.

News that actually makes you stupider
This bulletin brought to you by the Fresh Outrage Xenophobe network, suspending their traditional hatred of the French because they hate Muslims more, but not as much as they hate their own President.

In the same news cycle, FOX manufactured the Fresh Outrage that Birmingham, England has been overrun by Muslims, based on an elderly pensioner’s sighting of a head scarf at the fish market.
 
FOX has a First Amendment right to out-compete worthy news by detonating a Fresh Outrage fantasy every few hours. Their inexhaustible supply of fictional conspiracies, comic comparatives and canards just shy of libelous make all the right heads explode without so much as a gram of C4. Their exertions are so creative they’re putting satirists out of business faster than jihadists.

As if you care instructions
During W’s administration, French satirists infiltrated the garment industry and gratuitously offered their view of Bush on knapsack care instructions. “Your president is an idiot” the tag said in French, after bleach and ironing warnings. Eventually, the one guy in America who spoke French and didn’t think it was hilarious complained, so they removed it; the company president offering not so much an apology as a shrug.

This gave Roger Ailes a brainstorm. Sure, it was true that the President was an idiot—and so was a vast swath of America who’d voted for him. There was obviously a huge, untapped market for retaliatory idiot advocate satire. FOX’s masterstroke was weaving it into the national fabric with a straight face.

“Realists of a Larger Reality”

At 86, sci-fi literary high priestess Ursula Le Guin speaks
her mind and crystallizes some New Year’s inspiration.

“We will need writers who can remember freedom.”