Voiceovers In My Head: Totally Normal, Right?

Scene 1 from the Mary Tyler Moore Show 1977You know those TV journalists on 60 Minutes and the evening news who do exposés on sweatshops and conduct interviews with people who have their faces blurred out?  I have one of them in my head.  She likes to turn everything in my life into a hard-hitting news story and do dramatic voiceovers at inconvenient moments (of course, for me, everyone’s faces are already blurred out, which saves some work).  It can get a little silly at times.  For example:

In line at the convenience store:

Cashier:  I’m sorry, we’re all out of Milk Duds.

Imaginary Voiceover:  And that’s when the Little Blind Girl knew that something was very wrong in Candyland.

At the mall:

Sales Associate:  Would you like to try a free sample?

Imaginary Voiceover:  But as the Little Blind Girl was about to learn the hard way:  nothing in life is ever truly free.

Getting ready for a date:

Friend:  Try the blue skirt.  So where are you going?

Little Blind Girl:  He wants to surprise me.  I just hope he doesn’t end up taking me to the Taxidermy Circus, like the last guy did.

Imaginary Voiceover:  A “good date”:  does it really exist, or is it just a story we tell to make ourselves shave?  The answer may surprise you!

Writing a blog:

Little Blind Girl:  Crap.  Where’d all my ideas go?

Imaginary Voiceover:  It’s 9:00.  Do you know where your ideas are?

Now you know:  this is why I sometimes laugh at what appears to be nothing.  Well, this, and the way I like to replace random bits of movie dialogue with the word “pie” in my head (Darth Vader:  Your lack of pie disturbs me).  And sometimes it’s because I just got a joke I heard two days ago.  So until we meet again, gentle readers, may the pie be with you.  Don’t worry; you’ll get it in a couple of days.

 

[Image By CBS Television (Public domain), via Wikimedia Commons]

Famous Paintings Discuss Current Events: Apple vs. FBI

don__t_panic__iphone_style_3__by_viriiguy

Don’t Panic, iPhone style 3 by ViriiGuy on deviantart.com

I think this blog is past due for another installment of Famous Paintings Discussing Current Events.  As regular readers of this blog can attest, well-known portraits will occasionally drop by and express their views on trending news items.  Really, in times like these, what we need is the wisdom and insight that only peerless works of fine art can provide.  No, Donald Trump’s hair does not count, though it is certainly a masterpiece (master piece?).  I checked in with some of the leading paintings and found that what was foremost on their minds was the battle between Apple and the FBI.

What battle, you ask?  For those of you who have had absolutely no access to any kind of media for the past several months, a) how are you reading this blog? and b) here is the background on this issue  (if you know the background, feel free to skip down to where the famous paintings start talking):

After Edward Snowden disclosed that the NSA had access to user data on iPhones and could read almost all of the information on the phones, Apple developed such strong encryption for iPhones that Apple itself can’t extract the information from the phone if it’s locked.  This led to the pending court case in which the FBI obtained a court order requiring Apple to create a new operating system that will allow iPhone security features to be disabled.  Apple refused, arguing that the government should not require Apple to create a program that undermines the security of its own product.  The iPhone in question was a work phone used by one of the shooters in the December 2015 attack in San Bernadino.  The phone may or may not contain, among other things, information about a possible third shooter.  The FBI recently asked for a delay in the court case because an Israeli company may be able to hack the locked iPhone, thus exposing a potential security flaw while giving no indication to Apple or to millions of iPhone users as to what that flaw may be.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, here’s what famous paintings have to say about it:

Grant_Wood_American_Gothic

American Gothic:  Have you heard about the latest development in the court battle between Apple and the FBI?

 

 

small_PabloPicasso-The-Old-Guitarist-1903

Old Guitarist:  I’ve been following the case.  I can’t believe the government actually got a judge to order a private company to create a program that would weaken the company’s flagship product.  What’s next?  Is the NEA going to get an injunction to have someone repaint my guitar and make it electric just so they can hear me play Stairway to Heaven?

 

The Scream

The Scream:  It’s outrageous!  Big Brother won’t be happy until all activity on every smartphone, tablet, and computer is automatically reported to the newly-formed Department of Douche-Baggery.  How dare they!

 

 

most-famous-paintings-9

Whistler’s Mother:  Your position on this issue wouldn’t have anything to do with those pictures I found on your laptop the other day, would it, dear?

 

 

The_Scream

The Scream:  Hey!  That was ART!!  Those girls were OLDER THAN THEY LOOKED!!!  And STAY OFF MY LAPTOP!!!!

 

 

 

521px-Girl_with_a_pearl_earring

Girl With Pearl Earring:  But what about the need to strengthen national security, especially as acts of terrorism on U.S. soil continue?  Shouldn’t the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few?

 

 

small_PabloPicasso-The-Old-Guitarist-1903

Old Guitarist:  Yes, clearly what we need in such urgent situations is a protracted legal battle.  It will be so useful to find out four months after an attack that the shooter was a frequent visitor to LOLcats.

 

 

Grant_Wood_American_Gothic

American Gothic:  What puzzles us is the FBI’s latest request for a delay because they may be able to hack the iPhone.  If they could hack the iPhone, why go to court to make Apple create a new operating system?

 

 

Monalisa

Mona Lisa:  I think it’s smart for the FBI to keep trying to extract the information from the phone in case the court case goes against them.  What I want to know is, if they do find a way to get into that phone, what’s going to keep them from hacking into my iPhone?  I have some very compromising portraits on it.

 

small_PabloPicasso-The-Old-Guitarist-1903

Old Guitarist:  Hmm.  Suddenly I’m not quite so opposed to the FBI’s actions…

 

 

 

The Scream

The Scream:  This whole situation has me so worked up.  It makes me want to shout, or holler, or just…somehow…make noise….

 

 

 

521px-Girl_with_a_pearl_earring

Girl With Pearl Earring:  This is why we should elect Trump.  If we build that giant wall on the Mexican border and stop handing out green cards to terrorists, we won’t find ourselves in this situation any more.

 

 

Other paintings:

 

[speechless]

Grant_Wood_American_Gothic

 

American Gothic:  It’s nice that you’ll always be pretty, dear.  That will come in handy.

 

 

As always, all opinions are those of the paintings themselves and not those of the blog.  Is anyone else wondering if those compromising portraits on the Mona Lisa’s phone might shed some light on the meaning behind that famous smile?  And Old Guitarist, what a roué.  I would totally pay to hear him play Stairway to Heaven, wouldn’t you?  Due respect to Jimmy Page, whom I revere as a god among men, but Led Zeppelin as interpreted by Picasso sounds awesome!

 

How to rant effectively

Angry Penguin

Angry Penguin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’m looking out for you guys.  I want you all to lead happy and fulfilling lives, and I want to spare you from the pain and trauma that exist around every corner in this world.  So here is today’s life lesson:

What with the election season heating up and all the controversy over transvaginal ultrasounds and Tim Tebow being traded and all the other drama going on in our complicated little lives, we’ve seen a number of very passionate monologues, dialogues, arguments, discussions, and flat-out rants lately.  They’re on TV, at home, at work, in church, waiting in line at the grocery store…you haven’t lived until you’ve had a gut-wrenching, no-holds-barred debate on Kim Kardashian’s marriage with the lady at the next table in the coffee shop, and then you realize at the end of it that not only have you never seen each other before that day, you haven’t even bothered to exchange names.

So because I want to help you on your path to spiritual enlightenment, here is my advice:  if you’re going to go on a rant, be it televised or otherwise, make sure you dress up.  I get a lot of free entertainment out of watching people go on television in bad suits and uncombed hair, giving longwinded diatribes on the proper method of vermin control or whatever hot button issue, but a rant inevitably ends up with the ranter sounding like a crazy person with his or her voice hitting that register that only other nutjobs can hear.  If your hair is all shiny and styled and your makeup is done, maybe you’ve got a particularly flattering shirt on, no matter how crazy you sound, you will still come off as reasonable.  This is because people don’t actually pay attention to the content of what other people say.  Politicians have been taking advantage of this fact for centuries.

This also holds true if you just happen to be in the lunchroom at work and someone wants to bring up the latest idiot comment that [Insert politician/celebrity of choice’s name here] said.  If you’re having a bad hair day, or your tie is loose or there’s a run in your pantyhose, you’re going to come across as disheveled and unstable.  If you’re all power-suited up and you’re wearing your diamond earrings and you actually bothered to curl your lashes that day, you can say whatever you want and someone’s going to nod along with you.  Ranting is all about image.  You don’t want to be the crazy-homeless-person-ranter.  You want to be the clever, witty, insightful ranter who could have your own television show if you weren’t too busy doing work that matters.

So there’s your life lesson for the day: rant with style and you, too, could end up with a special broadcast on Yahoo, filmed in front of a hand-selected audience who will laugh and clap sycophantically.  Or else you’ll just rule the lunch room.  If you haven’t managed to pull it quite together, bite your tongue and live to rant another day.  But always rant responsibly.  Here endeth the lesson.

Famous Paintings Discuss Current Events: Super Tuesday

As regular readers of the blog will know, several famous paintings have been known to come on the blog and provide commentary on current events.  The paintings have been muttering restively about the Republican primaries, so I thought I’d let them out of the box leading into Super Tuesday.

A quick rundown of the facts, since  talking artwork isn’t usually big on spouting statistics:  while not quite so super a Tuesday as it used to be, there are still 419 delegates at stake tomorrow, with 1144 needed to clinch the nomination.  Mitt Romney currently has a healthy lead over Rick Santorum, and everyone else trails woefully far behind–but a sweep on Super Tuesday could put anyone back in the mix, so it’s still fun and games, even if I doubt anyone will lose an eye.

Now, without further ado, Famous Paintings discuss Super Tuesday:

Mona Lisa:  They just don’t make Super Tuesdays like they used to.  Come to think of it, they don’t really make presidential candidates like they used to.  Ah, that William Jennings Bryan, there was a man who could give a speech!

 

 

The Scream:  I know, and now they expect us to get excited about Mitt Romney?  “Ooh, Mitt Romney can fix our economy!  Ooh, Mitt Romney’s a businessman, he’ll clean things up!  Yeah, he’ll clean up all right.  How much is he worth now?

 

 

Whistler’s Mother:  I like that Newt Gingrich fellow.  He’s a firebrand.  He’ll shake things up.  And what a nice young man, so protective of his mother.

 

 

The Scream:  You know he’s on his third wife and proposed an open marriage with his second wife, right?

 

 

 

Whistler’s Mother:  Well, dear, I’ve had an arrangement with Van Gogh’s self-portrait for several decades now.  People have urges.  It’s nothing to be ashamed of.

 

 

The Scream:  Oh, God.  Oh, God.  That bastard.  I can’t take the mental image.  I feel like I need to yell, or shriek, or just…somehow…make noise….

 

 

 

Girl With A Pearl Earring:  I like Rick Santorum.  I know he’s not the sexiest candidate, but he just seems so dependable and sensible.  And he’s right, not everyone needs to go to college to have a rewarding and fulfilling life.

 

 

Old Guitarist:  You realize he’s a lawyer with an MBA, right?  He actually has more advanced degrees than Barack Obama has!  And he may be from a steel town, but I doubt he got any closer to blue-collar work than walking past construction sites on his way to work as a lobbyist.

 

 

Mona Lisa:  Does anyone else miss Ronald Reagan?  I mean, I know he drove us into an unprecedented deficit situation, but when you saw him onscreen, you really believed he was the President.  The man had presence.

 

 

American Gothic:  We’re just going to wait until we’re told who the candidate is for the Anyone But Obama party and vote for that one.  Super Tuesday, as far as we’re concerned, is just known as That Annoying Day With No Good Television.  Talk to us again in November.

 

 

Boy, that Old Guitarist is quite the liberal, isn’t he?  And who knew that Mona Lisa was a Reagan supporter?  And that Van Gogh’s Self Portrait, always causing problems.  As always, the views expressed are those of the portraits themselves, and not of the blog in general.  Happy voting!

How to succeed in politics without really trying

English: President Barack Obama and sec. of St...

Image via Wikipedia

This is what I imagine conversation is like behind closed doors in the Oval Office:

President Obama:  This election season is so much more relaxing than the last one.  It’s almost like I don’t have to do anything at all; I can just sit back and watch the Republican party tear itself to pieces.

Interchangeable Flunkie #1:  Have you seen the latest attack ads?  Gingrich’s campaign is threatening to sue over one that claims that he co-sponsored a bill with Nancy Pelosi to give $60 million a year to a U.N. program supporting China’s one-child policy.

President Obama:  Oh, that’s priceless!  I should throw out a hint at the next press conference about potential action against China’s human rights atrocities, really get them going.  Out of curiosity, is there any basis to that ad?

Interchangeable Flunkie #2:  There was a bill introduced in the House in 1989 called the Global Warming Prevention Act to develop plans to reduce carbon emissions.  It included support for the United Nations Population Fund, but specifically disallowed funding for the performance of involuntary sterilization or abortion or to coerce any person to accept family planning.  Gingrich and Pelosi were co-sponsors of the bill along with 142 other House members. The bill never became law.

President Obama:  So, no truth whatsoever.

Interchangeable Flunkie #2:  No, sir.

President Obama:  Fantastic.  I love being the incumbent.

Interchangeable Flunkie #3:  Romney’s PACs are targeting Santorum, now.  An ad ran the other day on his voting record in Washington:  “Would you have voted to let convicted violent felons regain the right to vote? Rick Santorum voted yes, joining Hillary Clinton.”

President Obama:  My God, not Hillary!  You know, it seems like only yesterday that I was being crucified alongside Hillary.  She’s not bad, actually, once you get to know her.

Interchangeable Flunkie #1:  I thought you said she was a demon in human form.

President Obama:  Well, yes, but now she’s a demon in human form that’s on our side.

Interchangeable Flunkie #1:  Yes, sir.

President Obama:  You know, after I’ve had a long day at work apologizing to Afghanistan and bailing out people who took on mortgages they knew they couldn’t afford, I like to switch on the television and watch my opponents take each other out, one by one, leaving behind one battered, weakened, exhausted candidate to go up against me in the fall.  After I watch Mitt attack Newt and Rick attack Mitt, I get to watch Newt come off like a crazed egghead philanderer.  I almost miss Michelle Bachmann.  I could listen to her all day long.  I would have loved to have debated her in the general election.

Interchangeable Flunkie #4:  There’s always Sarah Palin.  You never know about her.

President Obama:  Stop, you’re making me giddy.  Now, where’s the head of JSOC?  I need to kill another high-ranking terrorist right after the Republican primaries.

Interchangeable Flunkie #5:  Right away, sir.

President Obama:  God, I love this job.

They say you can’t take it with you when you go

In the news today is an article about how Russian scientists took a flower from the Ice Age, perfectly preserved for thirty thousand years, and brought it back to life.  It’s called the Silene stenophylla blossom, and it’s beautiful and improbable and astonishing.  Naturally, upon hearing this uplifting news I immediately thought about how I could use it in my blog.  I’ve come up with this:  a list of what I do and don’t want future scientists to bring back from today’s civilization.  I’ve divided it into categories:

Entertainment

Do bring back:  Adele.  Her voice is like fire, sometimes low and smoky, sometimes warm and comforting, then suddenly it engulfs the entire room.  It will burn the pain right out of you if you let it.  Leave out Britney (sorry, Britney), those kids who sang “MmmBop” (please leave them out) and the entire cast of High School Musical, but bring back Adele.

Clown.

Don’t bring back:  Clowns.  They’re evil, they’re just evil.  Man, they creep me out.  They just stare at you, grinning, and for all you know they’re actually frowning or making kissy faces or plotting carnage.  You just can’t tell.  Never trust a clown.  Don’t turn your back on them, don’t let them around your kids, and don’t bring them back!

 

Guys

This Year's Model

Image via Wikipedia

Do bring back:  the quirky, dorky genius.  This guy can take many forms, and they’re all knee-wobblers.  I’m partial to the scientist myself, but he could be a musician or a writer or a computer guy or a statistician.  You can always tell this guy by how his eyes get really big and start shining when he gets onto his subject.  It’s like the brilliance of the universe is locked inside him and he’s trying so hard to let it out.  The best part is, unlike the annoying jerks detailed below, this guy only gets more awesome and knee-wobbling as time goes on.  Totally worth bringing back.

Don’t bring back:  the obnoxious frat boy.  I usually end up getting hit on by these guys while I’m looking around for the quirky, dorky genius.  They can be preppy, sporty, slacker, emo, or anything else.  It’s not the style; the dorky geniuses can be any of those, too.  It’s that asinine approach to the world, of arrogance, entitlement, and most of all, that ‘whatever’ attitude.  That attitude just needs to die out.  On the upside, you do get to watch them degenerate into washed-up shoulda-coulda-woulda’s later in life.  Not enough to make up for it, though, and they’re still obnoxious even then.  Don’t bring them back.

Locations

Français : Paysage d'Amazonie à l'ouest de Manaus

Do bring back:  The Amazon rainforest.  I’m sure the world will continue to change as dramatically in the future as it has in the past.  We can’t quite seem to get it together enough to keep this massively awesome place around at the present juncture, but maybe if the scientists of tomorrow want to bring back more than just a flower, they could try for this.  Maybe leave out the electric eels, poison dart frogs, and vampire bats.  No, let’s keep the vampire bats.  And the eels, they’re pretty cool.  Oh, all right, bring back the poison dart frogs, but don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Don’t bring back:  New Jersey.  I know this one is going to cause some controversy, so I want to propose a compromise.  I’m fully aware that Bruce Springsteen is from New Jersey, and so I’m willing to allow that perhaps we don’t need to wall off the state altogether.  I’m even willing to celebrate Bon Jovi in a retro kind of way.  But let’s agree not to bring back the Jersey Shore.  We can all get together on that one, right?

Cartoon characters

Do bring back:  Peanuts.  Charlie Brown is eternal.  Thirty thousand years from now, we can have specials like “It’s a Post-Nuclear-Apocalypse Wonderland, Charlie Brown!”  Charlie Brown will still, thirty thousand years from now, be trying to kick the football, and Lucy will still yank it away from him.  Snoopy will still live out back in his doghouse, although it may be a self-contained eco-pod canine unit, and children will still not understand a word their teachers say to them no matter how much technology advances.  I’m not convinced that the Peanuts characters will ever fade away, but if they do, these are the characters to bring back.

From left to right: Swiper (in background), Do...

Image via Wikipedia

Don’t bring back:  Dora the Explorer.  My entire family is united in our disdain for all things Dora.  She’s a clueless idiot who tries to pass herself off as some sort of role model or educator for children, but her best friend is a monkey and she blinks in that creepy, vacant way while she’s waiting for a response.  Why this has caught on to the extent it has is beyond my comprehension.  Peanuts!  Calvin and Hobbes!  The Muppets!  Not Dora.  Let her empty-eyed oblivion drift into obscurity and eventual nonexistence, never to be resurrected.

Slang phrase

Do bring back:  Dude.  There are so many fabulous slang terms out there to put a particular nuance of meaning to your phrase, but I don’t think any is so versatile as “dude.”  It can be a question:  Dude?  It can be a pithy commentary:  Dude!  You can use it to refer to some random stranger, to your husband of fifty years, or just shorthand for a guy whose name you know but have forgotten.  We’re going to forget the attempt to feminize it by adding “ette” on the end, and focus instead on the fact that it’s been turned into a rock song by Aerosmith, features prominently in that bastion of awesome slang terms, South Park, and of course, denotes the protagonist in the coolest movie of all time, The Big Lebowski.  Even after 30,000 years, the dude will abide.

Don’t bring back:  Like.  There were so many runners up.  Dawg.  Junk.  Baby Daddy.  Gottsta.  You know.  Occupy the anything.  But none of them cause that twitch in my eyelid that “like” does.  I think I might hate it so much because it is so incredibly contagious.  If one person says it, ten more start saying it.  If a person says it once during a sentence, they say it five times during the next sentence.  Eventually, you end up with conversations in which over fifty percent of the conversation is the word “like.”  Don’t ever, ever bring this slang back.  If anyone tries, take all necessary measures to stop them, because once it comes back, it will grow and multiply and become a cancer on our language, and there is no chemo in the world that can take it on.

So how many people did I offend?  Are you offended because of what’s on the list or because of what I left off?  Contributions?  Castigation?  Tell me what you think.  Just don’t say it was, like, pretty good, or I’m sending you to New Jersey.

Whitney Houston

Miracle (Whitney Houston song)

Image via Wikipedia

I love music.  I may not be able to see the sunset, but I can hear and appreciate music in a way I never could if I’d grown up with perfect vision.  I grew up depending on my ears because I couldn’t depend on my eyes, and I grew up learning how to sing and how to play the flute and piano, and I learned the theory and the practice and the soul of music.  No, I learned the theory and the practice of music.  The soul of music I found when I gave my time and love to learn how to perform those incredible songs.  If you want a memory worth having, blindfold yourself for a month, then at the end of that month go to listen to a symphony performed live.  It’s worth losing your vision for a time to be able to experience music properly, to hear that overwhelming, melting, glorious music for one evening and remember it forever.

Whitney Houston died.  She was a beautiful and intelligent woman and obviously had family and friends who loved her very much, and it is a tragedy that she died so young and after so much suffering.  But her voice died a long time ago.  I can’t mourn the loss of an irreplaceable talent because I’ve already done my mourning.  Her voice was one of the wonders of the world.  When I think to myself that I’d rather be blind than deaf, the inability to hear her songs is one of the reasons I think of.  Beethoven’s Eroica symphony; the incomparable performances of Yo Yo Ma; the perfect voice of Whitney Houston.  As I go blind, I’ll miss the incandescent clarity in the blue of the daytime sky and the wonder of the stars at night, but if I had the image of the world in flawless detail, I would trade it to be able to hear her sing.

It shook me to my core to hear what had become of that voice.  When she sang, her voice was a river in flood, terrifying and awe-inspiring, carrying everything before it.  When she softened her voice, the river sparkled in the sunlight, flowing gently and whispering, “Follow me.  I will lead you somewhere new.”  When I found that the river had run dry, I grieved as though a living person had died.  I hope that she is somewhere beyond suffering now and that her voice, that voice that angels would die to have, is ringing through Heaven like a reminder of Eden before temptation, like the way the world could have been if we had made different choices, like the musical expression of the will of God.  If I’m very good and very lucky, when it’s my turn to die, I think the voice calling me home will be the voice of Whitney Houston singing the first, last, and only Song.

Rest in peace, Whitney Houston.  I’ll remember your voice when I’ve forgotten that I was ever able to see at all.