So, I was reading this thing today about how horrible nursery rhymes are. The gist of the article is that most nursery rhymes are actually political in nature. And often, those politics are horrifying. They seem mainly to deal with Queen Mary of England and her torture. So, you know, exactly the sort of thing you want to teach a toddler all about (although, to be fair, back in the day kids were getting married at age 12 and dying at age 25. Also, considering the insanely high rape, pillage, pox and murder rates found throughout pre-Industrial Revolution Europe, maybe you did want to explain the violent, evil, mean-spirited facts of life to your toilet-trainee).
Anyway, what really struck me about the nursery rhymes was not how disturbing they are (ever read an original Brothers Grim fairy tale?), but rather, how nonsensical they are to the modern reader. Even assuming that this whole notion that “Mary, Mary quite contrary = rhyming genital torture couplet” idea is bupkis, what’s fascinating (to me at least) is that there is, in fact, room for doubt about its meaning. Most of these nursery rhymes are less than 400 years old. Most of them were originally written in English and there hasn’t been any sort of cataclysmic, Earth-shaking event which would have disrupted the contextual meaning of the rhymes. In other words, there’s no reason why the meaning of these rhymes shouldn’t be clear as day.
It’s understandable that large sections of the Bible are open to interpretation. It was written millenia ago over the course of hundreds of years in archaic versions of languages which today are, at best, not widely spoken. Plus, until relatively recently, it’s care and transmission were left largely to the Jews. Now, I’m not faulting the Hebrews for anything, I’m just saying that they’ve gotten the short (and often pogrom-ish) end of the stick for pretty much as long as they’ve been around. It’s understandable that somewhere along the line they would have fumbled a little bit and sort of let slip some important contextual tidbits that were necessary for a clear and accurate understanding of the holy writs. What with all the slavery and wandering and temple sackings and persecutions and such.
Anyway, what I’m getting at is that nursery rhymes don’t have any of those problems, and yet getting to their fundamental meaning is (almost) as difficult as understanding an ancient, poorly managed, supernatural salvation how-to manual*.
I wonder if this is a trend that will continue. It’s hard to say, but it’s enough to make me think about freezing my head before I die. I would love to be thawed out in a time, say 2350 A.D. when Lil Wayne’s Lollipop is on the lips of your waddling great-great grand kids**.
* The real implication here is that 99% of everything written in this century will be effectively meaningless within 400 years. In that spirit, Guzzle red run berry hatrick SitCH fact corrupt fast 134 bladders. (That should keep them guessing.)
** I would love for 2008’s strongest contender in the “Waste of Talent, Hip-Hop Single” division to come, song bird like, out of the lungs of my progeny, but I’m not sure I’ll have any. I think, for the most part, that this entire post is really, deep down, about my David Lynch-ian feelings towards my impending fatheriness (que screaming devil-cow fetus baby)
Really, I’m sure it’s one of those things where once I just jump and do it I’ll realize that there’s really nothing to it and I’ll wonder why I was so scared and hesitant***. It’s just tip-toeing up to the edge of that particular cliff that’s difficult.
*** I guess that I would describe myself not as being in favor of Abstinence Only education so much as I’m a supporter of Protectionless Only education****. I think that everyone should have a pre-wedlock child by the time they’re 15. I mean, it makes sense. Like driving and watching the Saw franchise of movies, having a child is something you should do while you’re too young and stupid to know how terrifying it really is. That way you can practice on your little mulligan baby and then, when you’re older, wiser and more financially well-off, you can pawn the brat onto your parents and go have a new, unblemished, child. I really think that system would make everything a lot easier for baby-making adults.
**** Admitedly, my Protectionless Only education stance does clash with my Pro-Abortion stance (to paraphrase the Simpsons, “Abortions for some, more abortions for others!”). No doubt when I run for Office, this contradiction will be used by my opponents as proof that I’m wishy-washy. I prefer to think of myself as being pragmatic about the whole thing: Abortions where we can, bastard children where we must.
I work for a newspaper. Not like a real newspaper or anything, just a small special interest (law) rag with a small circulation. It’s a small company and, as such, I wear a lot of hats around the place. One hat is the tri-cornered Colonial style hat of the feature’s editor. Another is the cheap, plastic mesh hat of the layout monkey. Today, those two hats collided (not to worry, it happens a lot).
While checking through my email this morning, I discovered that a military-oriented press service had sent me two different stories. And when I say stories, I mean pictures with absurdly long captions. One picture involved a service man from Dayton and the other a service man from Toledo. This was perfect, my employer just so happens to publish two different papers, one in Toledo and one in Dayton. I wear the trucker cap and the Founding Father hat for both papers. Then I actually examined the stories more carefully and decided not to run them.
The picture for the serviceman from Toledo was fine, it was the picture from Dayton though that was problematic. Here’s a link. A picture of an American with a gun posing a bunch of Iraqis. Yeah, that’s the sort of thing that’s never gone wrong before. I mean, seriously, even if he’s not torturing them (by all appearances he’s forcing them to dance the Y.M.C.A., which does seem like something of an Abu Ghraib move) then he’s arresting them.
The picture for the Toledo service man, while far less inflammatory (it’s just the guy talking to some members of the Chinese Army), didn’t come with a headline and I didn’t really feel like writing one myself.
Sadly, my boss (who wears the nylon stocking face-covering editor’s mask) also saw the emails and ordered me to run both.
Thanks to the Internet (and this blog post) there’s a chance that the real media might find the Dayton photo and turn it into some kind of big story. There’s also a chance that a member of the Chinese government might read the headline I came up with for the Toledo photo (“Local soldier inspects People’s Liberation Army”) and begin pressing the red button.
P.S. My original headline was going to read: Local soldier humiliates, defeats People’s Liberation Army. So you can’t accuse me of not doing my part to avoid a nuclear holocaust.
So, it’s a Friday night. Let’s get wild.
So far I’ve created a new budget for myself. My update needed an update since A) I haven’t even tried to stick to it since early November and B) I just had my performance review at work and got a raise. Now, I’m not going to give an exact figure, but suffice to say that I would have received a larger one-year anniversary raise at McDonald’s (dear fluffy God, I wish that wasn’t a joke). To put it another way, I got a larger raise when I manned a register at a liquor store. And that was in a white-bred college town offering no threat of robbery, so it’s not even like the raise included hazard pay.
Also, I went to the mall for about 45 minutes… alone. My wife went to bed tonight around 6:30 tonight and left me to my own devises (in all fairness, she gets up at 4:00AM during the week for work). I’ve decided that I’m far too old to be going to the mall after dark nowadays. I don’t know. Maybe if I lived in a town that offered it’s wayward youthes something to do on a weekend it wouldn’t be so bad, but as it is going to the mall on a weekend night is like visiting the reptile house at the Zoo and realizing it’s been overrun by social outcasts from the primate exhibit. On the upside I did manage to buy two records for under 20 bucks. Unfortunately, it took me 30 minutes to decide what to buy, and not because I was overwhelmed by the choices but because my town is the proud home of the world’s smallest and lamest F.Y.E. Yes, there are degrees of lameness when it comes to chain record stores (all two that are left).
After the mall I came home and applied to grad school, again. If everything goes well, this will be the second grad school I’ll attend in one year. My first attempt was as a one-semester guest student at an out of state university. Let’s just say that things didn’t work out. Although I aced the course, the program of study wasn’t what I was looking for. Plus I just can’t afford paying 3K for a single course. Anyway, the new school I want to attend has a program that’s perfect. So perfect in fact that I applied back in October. After paying my 50 dollar application fee and sending off my resume, I received an email informing me that the program only accepts students during the Summer semester and that I’d have to apply all over again. So, back in February I called the admissions office to find out if I’d have to pay the fee again. I left a message. Since no one called me back in a week, I emailed them. The next day I received a phone call returning the message I had left. The woman who called told me that I wouldn’t have to apply again at all and that my previous application would be held and forwarded to the appropriate person when the application period opened. Yay. That same afternoon I received an email reply to the email query I sent the day before. The man who emailed me informed that not only would I have to pay the fee again, I would have to apply all over again from the beginning. Damn. So last weekend I began to fill out the application again. The application page on the school’s website informed me that early registration didn’t begin until the 15th of March, so I figured I was ahead of the curve. Yay, again. I surfed a bit more and drifted over to the webpage of the actual program I was applying to. That page said that they required applications no later than February 1st. Damn, again. Pissed off, I began yet a third web search, looking for some clarity. All I found was a “Graduate Renewal Application” which was only two pages long, required no fee and said that the ‘recommended’ application date was March 1st. Eh?. Frustrated, I gave up. On Tuesday, I called the admissions office again, hoping for a straight answer. I left a message asking if I needed to start the application process over or if I could just do the renewal application. I also questioned if I would have to send new copies of my transcripts and personal statement. I also emailed the same question. This time, I received a phone call from a new woman who told me that all I needed to do was fill in and mail the renewal application. Nothing was mentioned in regards to money or additional paperwork, so I’m taking the renewal application route. Of my three options (do nothing, re-apply from the beginning or renew) I figure this one has the same chance of being correct as the others and it seems to me as striking a nice balance between what I want to do (just do nothing and hope that the admissions office will take care of everything for me) and what I think I should do (re-apply from the beginning, pay the fee again and send multiple copies of my transcripts).
In related news, today I received a letter from my previous grad school telling me that I was not going to be accepted as student for the coming semester. That doesn’t matter much as I never actually applied, but I feel it’s still hurtful.
I also posted a note to a friend on Facebook (aka Myspace for grown-ups). I have mixed feelings about online social networks. On the one hand it seems to me like cyber-social circles are a great way to reconnect with everyone you previously disconnected with for damn good reasons. On the other hand, the people I have gotten back in touch with (those of whom I knew in high-school) have all been perfectly pleasant and, in at least one case, are making me reconsider my “fuck any relationship more than 5 years old” stance. So, all in all, that post may just be the highlight of my evening.
But don’t think that I’m letting this off-the-hook craziness stop just because I’m almost done with this entry. Oh, no. As soon as I’m done here I’m going to expand upon my One Beer Rule (1BR). See, I have this test that I subject to everyone I know. The actual person being tested has no idea that they’re being evaluated, instead, the 1BR is a question I ask myself. “Could I sit down at a bar with this person and make it through one round with them?” In all fairness, it’s a fairly easy test to pass. In fact, since I’ve instituted this test only three people have failed it. Because, let’s be honest, even on my least tolerant night I can smile and put up with someone for as long as it takes me to suck down a beer (although the test is harder to pass in Ohio, where you can no longer smoke in bars, but more about how much Ohio sucks later). I’m starting to think though that the test isn’t specific enough. I mean, sure, most people are one beer simpatico, but what about two beers? Can I sit through someone else’s meandering, self-indulgent, not-funny-but-they-think-they-are stories through one beer, the wait to get a second and then for however long it takes to get through that second beer? That, I feel, is a much better test of my friends’ and acquaintances’ value as people. Also, I may institute a Three Beer Rule (3BR), but I’m willing to bet everyone passes that one, mostly because I’m a lightweight and at three beers I tend to fall in love with anyone within hugging reach.
So, all in all, tonight is still better than my freshman year of college where I used to spend entire weekends reading through the memorable quotes sections of various IMDB entries.
My first job ever was as a clerk at a small, independent book store. One day, while going through a new shippment I ran across a book about people in their 20’s and the attendent quarter-life crisis.
I remember scoffing at the book. After all, who had ever heard of anything as indulgent? To my naive and sheltered mind a “crisis” was something that plauged politicians and rapidly aging boomers with too much money. What, I thought, was a 20-something with their whole life ahead of them and a world of possibilities in front of them doing with something like that?
I knew that Generation X was pampered and self-absorbed, but come on! A quarter-life crisis? I was beginning to agree with Bart Simpson when he said, “What we need is another Vietnam to thin their ranks out.” (Full disclosure: depending on who’s writing the thesis paper, I may qualify as the last of the Gen X cohort… I disagree on the grounds that I’m too young to remember a pop culture without Nirvana and I don’t get the appeal of either loving Starbucks or protesting it. Also, I can’t think of any Generation X characteristics that don’t involve Seattle, proving that everything I know about them I got from Singles and Reality Bites – two movies I’ve never actually seen.) The whole idea of a quarter-life crisis just proved that all those angry, bitter apples didn’t fall far from their neurotic, gimme-gimme-gimme trees.
A few years later I got out of college and into the “real world” (and yes, I’m one of those people who overuse quoatation marks and parentheses). I worked at a pizza joint, sold windows door-to-door, clerked at a courthouse and then got a layout job at a small specialized newspaper. I’ve joined and dropped out of two different writing groups, lived with five different roommates and spent a semester in grad school at a college best known for it’s varried veneral diseases. Along the way I got engaged, married 19 days later and moved twice.
I’m now nearly 25 and that whole quarter-life crisis thing doesn’t seem so far fetched any more.
Don’t get me wrong, I still think people who whine about having no direction are full of shit. But on the other hand that strange, certain ennui does lurk in the corners of my (landlord’s) house and suns itself on the grassy median of the freeway I take to work.
I’ve named his Goes To becuase I hate Ernest.
- Maybe it’s just a problem of definition
- The Incredible Shrinking Party
- Stupid, stupid men
- It’s the little things that kill a relationship
- Children are horrible
- Today I started a scandal… and possibly a world war… the scandal thing doesn’t seem so important
- An Army of The One
- Why Doesn’t America Have More Killer Muslims?
- Things That Are Dead
- Is “Pathetisad” a Word?
- Dear Ann, Please Eat a Sandwich