The Great Internet Quote Quiz – Redux

On The Internet All Statements True

The Internet is awash in quotations of debatable merit; some are attributed, some are unattributed, many are inaccurately attributed while others are obvious fabrications. I would like to help separate the flotsam from the jetsam. Below you will find 20 insightful Internet quotes. Can you identify who really said them? Good luck!

1. “Being average is a very special gift; find awesome in mediocrity. Do not let anyone talk you out of your right to be ordinary.”
a.) Pema Chödrön
b.) Zig Zigler
c.) Anthony “Tony” Robbins
d.) Taz Mopula

2. “Why is it called the age of communication when nobody listens?”
a.) Roman Polanski
b.) Werner Herzog
c.) Lina Wertmüller
d.) Taz Mopula

3. “At what point does communication become air pollution?”
a.) Lady Gaga
b.) John Tesh
c.) Britney Spears
d.) Taz Mopula

4. “In the future, everyone will be obscure for 15 minutes.”
a.) Gallagher
b.) Judy Tenuta
c.) Barry Sobel
d.) Taz Mopula

5. “Getting noticed is not the same thing as doing something noteworthy.”
a.) Charlie Sheen
b.) Glenn Beck
c.) Stephenie Meyer
d.) Taz Mopula

6. “TV was once exciting. Every new technology shows promise before plummeting to meet the level of its user.”
a.) Donald James Reum
b.) Chauncy Entwhistle
c.) Lance Incubator Smythe
d.) Taz Mopula

7. “How can you cut through the clutter when the clutter goes all the way through?”
a.) Jeff Beck
b.) John Cage
c.) Terence Trent D’arby
d.) Taz Mopula

8. “Click here if you are gullible enough to believe that clicking here will actually make a difference.”
a.) Deepak Chopra
b.) Oprah Winfrey
c.) Dr. Wayne Dyer
d.) Taz Mopula

9. “Humans can repair mechanical problems; but machines cannot repair human problems, only manifest them in new forms.”
a.) Felix Wankel
b.) Dean Kamen
c.) Ron Popeil
d.) Taz Mopula

10. “New app enables users to bravely condemn global injustice and insult authority figures without budging from Barcalounger!”
a.) Rhonda Byrne
b.) Mark Zuckerberg
c.) Ellen DeGeneres
d.) Taz Mopula

11. “Instant, universal communication has made it impossible to know if anyone is saying anything valuable.”
a.) Howard Stern
b.) Rush Limbaugh
c.) David Letterman
d.) Taz Mopula

12. “Never confuse fame with artistic quality, or wealth with value. Society gets what it wants, not what it needs.”
a.) Kanye West
b.) Heavy D
c.) Wu-Tang Clan
d.) Taz Mopula

13. “The only thing worse than obsessing over your press clippings is believing the ones you wrote yourself.”
a.) Nicholas Cage
b.) Lisa Lampanelli
c.) Al Pacino
d.) Taz Mopula

14. “Is the Internet merely a mechanism by which alien life forms can quantify human gullibility and fatuousness?”
a.) Elmo
b.) Kermit
c.) Cookie Monster
d.) Taz Mopula

15. “Technology has democratized the tools of creativity, resulting in a tsunami even more cretinous and loathsome than anticipated.”
a.) Gene Simmons
b.) Criss Angel
c.) Ozzy Osbourne
d.) Taz Mopula

16. “Artificial intelligence will soon be the only kind remaining; thus conclusively proving the failure of human intelligence.”
a.) Ray Bradbury
b.) Stephen Hawking
c.) Douglas Adams
d.) Taz Mopula

17. “If technology makes our lives any more convenient, even breathing will become too much of an effort.”
a.) Steven Jobs
b.) Don Cornelius
c.) Bill Gates
d.) Taz Mopula

18. “Our ability to broadcast the wretched detritus of daily life is no argument for doing so; restraint is increasingly precious.”
a.) Paris Hilton
b.) Rupert Murdoch
c.) Anna Nicole Smith
d.) Taz Mopula

19. “The Constitution has been amended. It now only guarantees your right to pretend that privacy actually exists.”
a.) Duane “Dog” Chapman
b.) Julian Assange
c.) Rose Mary Woods
d.) Taz Mopula

20. “Is a reality small enough to fit conveniently into the palm of your hand even worth having at all?”
a.) Leonard Hofstadter
b.) Howard Wolowitz
c.) Sheldon Cooper
d.) Taz Mopula

(Answer key will appear in tomorrow’s blog.)

1-Sentence Stories – Redux

Write First Decide Not To Later Edit Later Still

1. Despite a manly thrashing from Ernest Hemingway, meted out with pugilistic zeal, the mime refused to speak.

2. Garrison Keillor inhaled deeply during a monologue; passed out, and awoke hours later in a pool of his own gravitas.

3. Charles Bukowski stared at the woozy, waving label and understood at last that Blatz Beer was both a product name and a promise.

4. It had become impossible for Gertrude Stein to pretend she didn’t enjoy rebuilding automatic transmissions.

5. In the midst of an ether-induced hallucination Hunter Thompson lapsed into sincerity and was inconsolable for weeks.

6. Despite assembling a stable of star performers, William Burroughs eventually abandoned his cockroach racetrack.

7. Laughter ensued when the actual Rolling Stones were accidentally enshrined in Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and nobody knew the difference.

8. In the course of attacking and robbing Brad Pitt, hardened New York City gang members observed that, even with a gun to his head, the tabloid staple was unable to act scared.

9. Elton John purchases movie rights to 50 Shades Of Gray for 20 million dollars before realizing he has misread the title.

10. Charlie Sheen becomes stuck entering a revolving door when the other Charlie Sheen chooses that precise moment to exit; firemen are summoned.

Research Links Mental Illness And Bad Luck

pawn shop2

Lord Chumley Frampton, Dean of Statistical Analysis at Basingstoke University, stunned the mental health community recently by announcing that his team of researchers had located a quantifiable connection between mental illness and bad luck. While a relationship has been suspected for decades, Lord Frampton is the first to isolate it.

The following comments are excerpted from Lord Frampton’s prepared statement.

“People erroneously believe that bad luck is a natural force, like gravity, over which they are powerless. But our research indicates that in fact bad luck is like a cloud of metal filings always in our midst, which can be attracted simply by waving a magnet in the air. Moods, behaviors, attitudes, expectations and even wardrobe can take the place of this metaphorical magnet, summoning the four horsemen of bad luck into our camp and challenging them to do their very worst. It is almost as if we manufacture our own fortunes.

“What amazed the team was an astounding correlation between the presence of mental illness and a propensity towards bad luck. Bear in mind that we did not initially target the mentally ill. Over time, a rapidly growing mountain of anecdotal evidence caused us to shift our focus. Here are just a few of the findings that led us to our hypothesis.”

Schizophrenics are 10 times more likely to sit on a porcupine than the average citizen. While there is no science to suggest that schizophrenic porcupines are 10 times more likely to be sat upon, we do suspect it. The number of schizophrenic porcupines sat upon by schizophrenic human beings in a given year is statistically insignificant.

Clinically Depressed individuals are 17 times more likely to be struck by lightning. (Remarkably, only one out of every three who are struck even notice. Another third are actually pleased to have had their world-view validated.)

Bipolar Disorder sufferers are three times as likely to hit the lottery. This seems lucky; except that, those who do are thirteen times as likely to lose all their winnings on mad spending sprees, thus rendering them far more miserable than they were to begin with.

Narcissists are five times as likely to have a mirror shatter. Our researchers believe that this is because they are five times as likely to be in front of a mirror in the first place.

Those with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder are six times as likely to step on a crack, and 19 times as likely to do it over and over and over.

Addicts & Alcoholics are 19 times more likely to crawl under a ladder and have a large can of paint fall on their head. (Well over 50 percent of those who do decide to spend the night there.)

Excited by these breakthrough discoveries, Lord Frampton says he and his team will next be looking for connections between mental illness and the Law of Supply and Demand.

“Everything happens for a reason; often it’s a very bad reason.” Taz Mopula

Glad To Be Imperfectly Awful

Mondrian Broadway Boogie Woogie 

For reasons we might want to explore at some other time, I spent over 30 years toiling in the corporate vineyards as an advertising copywriter – an occupation which enjoys a level of social prestige roughly equivalent to that of garbage collector, lawyer, and snake oil salesman – although to be sure – the latter group is begrudgingly afforded a modicum of respect since almost everyone abhors a squeaky snake. I know I do.

But I digress. Writers, as you know, are a disreputable lot. As a rule they live in culverts, subsist on scraps of food left by others in greasy spoon diners on the outskirts of town, frequently showing up for work with three days’ worth of stubble, pockets crammed with losing lottery tickets, reeking of bourbon and cheap cigars. The men are even worse!

As a bipolar dipsomaniac with a chronic attitude problem that includes contempt for authority, you can imagine I lost and found and lost employers the way others misplace car keys. Some jobs were submerged deep within the bowels of soulless corporations shamelessly exploiting the witless populace, while others resided in neurosis factories referred to as advertising agencies where paranoia, throat-slitting, and British wardrobes were passed off as creativity.

One commonality of all these dreadful coalmines was the professional category known as “artist” which, in this case, means “graphic designer” which then meant person in charge of taking words, setting them in type, and embedding the result in a breezy assemblage of photographs, colorful shapes, and visual irrelevance thought to aid the sales process we served; striving ever more valiantly to separate the unsuspecting from their treasure.

Artists – graphic designers – are almost the antithesis of writers. As a rule, they are cheerful women who bring an ideal suite of qualities to their task – wonderful sense of color, design, ebullience, responsibility, method, quiet productivity and an almost depressingly relentless optimism. Meet Charity Vanderbilt.

Charity Vanderbilt invariably looked as though she had been peeled from the pages of a clothing catalog. Her attire was not flashy, it was impeccable, precise, tight, ratcheted down with control as rigid as any painting by Piet Mondrian. Just five feet tall dripping wet, (why she insisted on having her height measured after showering I cannot tell you), she had a sing-song, high pitched voice that resembled a Warner Brothers cartoon character far more closely than a person.

Charity walked with quick, short steps as though a string between her ankles dictated the precise length of every stride.

One day, Charity revealed something I found completely stunning. She said that the gas gauge in her Volvo had broken and she left it that way on purpose because she “enjoyed the mystery and excitement of not knowing if she was about to run out of gas.”

I thought of my own life, a cavalcade of catastrophes including prison, mental hospitals, manic depression, alcoholism, divorce, lost jobs, small fortunes washed away with the dirty dishes – I thought of how I was trying to outrun my curse and find order, stability, responsibility – even some peace of mind.

Then I thought of Charity Vanderbilt, whimsically setting a little booby-trap for herself, to make her life a tiny bit disordered, a tiny bit surprising, a tiny bit interesting. In the oddest way, it made me feel sorry for her and grateful to be me; imperfectly awful.

There Is No Need To Reinvent The Lemur

Do Not Attempt To Dazzle And Stun Your Audience No Need To Reinvent The Lemur

I have been a promotion writer for 30+ years. Essentially, promotion writing involves making true statements in a way that encourages readers to arrive at false conclusions. For example, when I say that our vinyl siding virtually never needs painting I’m actually saying our siding needs painting.

“Ultimately it’s not what you don’t say that matters most so much as how you don’t say it.” Taz Mopula

This profession has never posed a moral struggle because, to me, the marketplace rule is caveat emptor and companies have the right to hire professional persuaders adept at putting products and services in the most positive light possible.

“Learn to speak the truth; it is helpful to be fluent in a foreign language.” Taz Mopula

However, when it came to recovery, and writing my books, I went to the opposite extreme. Rigorous, even brutal, honesty was my modus operandi; I understood that there was no alternative. When writing about serious matters like mental illness, evil, and addiction I quickly realized there was no room for preaching or persuasion, only the truth was important, only the story mattered.

“Writing is the easiest part of being a writer; the most difficult part is becoming a writer.” Taz Mopula

Years spent in therapy and recovery netted a treasure trove of knowledge, not just about the hideous monsters that delighted in tormenting me, but also the tools and techniques of the healing process itself. Enthusiastic and happy about these positive developments I sought to share what I learned with my near and dear, and was met with various sorts of rejection. After a while, I stopped. One can only be hit in the face with a bull fiddle for so long.

“The audience is never wrong; that said, one does occasionally wander into the wrong theater.” Taz Mopula

I came to understand that people are, for the most part, invested in keeping you in your pigeonhole. If they have come to think of you as a self-destructive loser, continuing to do so makes them feel good about themselves. When you present as self-disciplined, confident, productive and – most egregious of all – happy – your new persona is upsetting and troubling. No amount of explanation will help them understand, or care, what you’ve been through. Only results matter.

“Do not attempt to dazzle and stun your audience with dense, complex constructions; there’s no need to reinvent the lemur.” Taz Mopula

Even before setting down the first word of INVISIBLE DRIVING I vowed to tell my tale with the mercilessness of a research scientist, embarrassment meant nothing to me. I applied the same formula to MOONLIT TOURS and WASHED UP, even though they are novels. When it comes to my personal writing, the poetry, essays and, (in an odd way, even the cartoons), I have no desire to persuade anyone of anything.

“In poetry one finds language distilled until it comes as close to perfection as it will ever get. The absolute simplicity of universal truth, all extraneous vanities stripped away, mixes freely with the impenetrable obscurity of individual experience to create something at once deeply familiar and tantalizingly out of reach, yielding to endless interpretation.” Taz Mopula

The Toxic Myth Of Manic Creativity

If You Need Mania To Be Creative

It is said that alcoholism is the only disease intent on convincing those who suffer they’re not sick. This deception is, of course, only one of alcoholism’s many lies, the first of which is that happiness can be purchased and consumed.

There is a parallel, and equally dangerous, bit of twaddle in the world of mental illness. This nonsense runs thusly – I do not want to “become sane” because if I do I will lose my uniqueness, my brilliance, and my creativity. That skewed perspective has led to many voyages of self-destruction, some more abbreviated than others.

At first, alcohol does give one a rosy; numb feeling – so it is not hard to understand how people imagine they’re not ill but simply having a good time. Likewise, manic episodes carry much with them to provide the illusion of creativity – boundless energy and confidence, bizarre observations and juxtapositions of thoughts, and the feeling of being “directed” or “guided” by unknown agents. But this maelstrom of mad activity rarely withstands the cold scrutiny and deliberation of daylight.

As the great Taz Mopula reminds us, “Art is not produced by healthy people.” Well and good, but this does not mean that being sick – whether by natural or artificial means – makes you an artist. (For years I validated my descent into alcoholism and drug abuse by clinging onto the observation that nearly all the artists I admired, especially the writers, were alcoholics.) Being an alcoholic does not make one Faulkner; being an untreated bipolar does not make one Lord Byron.

The irony here is that we are seeing a very old syndrome – the human desire to possess the rose without confronting the thorn. We reach for alcohol to make us happy when we know in our hearts that happiness involves hard work – it is the byproduct of leading a righteous life. We cling to mania because we think of it as a shortcut to the heights of celestial creativity when we know that even the most deranged, brilliant artists achieved their heights the hard way – dedicated labor.

In madness, and in the despair of addiction, we forget ourselves – what emerges cannot be true because even we do not know what is true. The long campaign of self-discovery that leads to mental health will take you to what is true for you, and guide you to creativity that matters.

Art is not flash and hyperbole, art is something divine within you that you learn to set free as you heal. Drugs, alcohol, and mania are poor substitutes – hold out for the real thing.

Admire Doctor King’s Dream? Then Wake Up!

Lena Horne  Lena Horne                 Kate Smith  Kate Smith

Lenny Bruce practiced a confrontational, political form of comedy that relied heavily on shock. He had a famous bit on the subject of racism he directed towards all white males in attendance. It went like this.

Imagine you are shipwrecked on a desert island with no hope of rescue. The island has everything you need to survive so it is reasonable to believe you will live out your days in comfort.

Now, imagine you are offered female companionship but must choose between Lena Horne and Kate Smith. (Stage pause.) If you choose Kate Smith, you’re a racist.

If you find this offensive; congratulations. It’s sexist and chubbyist. (If Lena Horne and Kate Smith are unfamiliar names, I will tell you that they were both singers. Lena Horne was light-skinned and could have passed for white but chose not to.)

There are actually only two kinds of racists; those who admit they are racists and those who don’t. Xenophobia is ancient and primal; our knuckle-dragging predecessors were ruled by fear and regarded the unknown with suspicion. But this explains, it does not excuse.

The essential goal is to admit, understand, and continually beat back our racism on a daily, case-by-case basis. Thus begins the dream.

Ultimately the Mississippi redneck attempting to justify racism is indistinguishable from the Vermont college professor boldly declaring he does not see color. By lying to themselves they both lie to us.

Everybody loves Doctor King’s dream, but few of us acknowledge that racism begins at home.

Help The Cause Of Mental Health Awareness

Invisible Driving Cover Framed

When I sat down to write Invisible Driving in 1990 there was no way to know that this simple act of literary recklessness would hurl me down a path of mental health advocacy ultimately culminating, 22 years later, in the conclusion of this sentence.

Such is life in the land of Whackadoomious. Prior to writing the very first bipolar memoir, I had labored valiantly to keep my mental illness under cover, hidden from the pitchfork-wielding town folk who welcome the mentally ill with the same enthusiasm they shower on seven-year locusts. Going public as a bipolar bear gave me what I call “confession Tourette’s” – I went from “lips are sealed” to bipolar blabbermouth.

Essentially, I wanted to educate the public as much as possible and, I dared, even defied, any of them to look down on me. I had a big, fat surly attitude back then. In time, I actually came to a point where I condescended to square shooters because I believed – without mental illness as a teacher – their life experience was, quite frankly, inadequate in comparison to mine.

But that’s just me. For every passive-aggressive exhibitionist nursing a grudge, feeding a habit, and putting a resentment to bed, there are 100 nice, quiet Whackadoomians who would prefer to recover and strive towards mental health in quiet anonymity and fuzzy slippers.

I would like to make it clear that I do not condemn this stealth, but, and this is a big but, (stop that), I will say that – if you want to change minds, spank stigma, and educate the not-so-great unwashed – and I know you do – the best way to do it is by example.

Make yourself a teacher, a model, and show them that folks like us are – candidly – just like them. To paraphrase Hemingway, “Living well is the best revenge.” To paraphrase Napoleon, “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” Finally, to paraphrase Taz Mopula, “Since you’re going to be jealous anyway, you may as well be jealous of yourself.”

Action Ideas for Mental Illness Awareness

As you know, I’m a practical – problem/solution – kind of guy. So, here are a few action items that could kick-start the knowledge building process.

1. Annual Mental Illness Memorial Day Telethon – Hosted by Charlie Sheen

2. Mental Illness Trading Cards containing profiles of famous mentally ill people in history.

3. “Halfway Home” – a board game based on Monopoly in which players take turns trying to escape from a Halfway House so they can return their dysfunctional families.

4. America’s Got Illness! In this homage to American Idol, mentally ill contestants would answer questions and disturbed celebrity judges would try to guess their disease.

As good as these ideas are, I’m still going with suggestion number one. Make the stigma-waving public watch as you rise from the ashes and enjoy a life that is better than theirs. If they learn a thing or two, great. If they don’t, the main thing is – you’re doing just fine without them.

Sociology Of Mental Illness

insane immigrants

Recently, the Party Planning Committee at Chumley Fortesque Memorial Community College invited me to deliver my bread and butter lecture, “Why You So Messed Up, Man?” I accepted.

A bright-eyed assemblage of students still clutching desperately onto the concept of upward mobility, and several inebriated janitors ducking responsibilities, filled the dingy lunchroom, which had been hastily rearranged to serve as an auditorium. I gave it my best.

When I was through, an eager audience member asked the now-familiar question which seems to hound me wherever I go, as if I had just escaped from Leavenworth.

“Mr. McHarg,” he ventured, “why are there so many mentally ill people in the United States? Where do they come from?”

By now, I am accustomed to this question, although still appalled by what its mere existence says about our educational system. And so, in measured tones masking my impatience and disappointment, I began what has become the canned response.

“America,” I gazed beyond the tops of my reading glasses for effect, fairly oozing disingenuous gravitas, “is a nation built on immigration. We are all familiar with how, fleeing starvation brought about by the potato famine, destitute Irish families landed on our rugged shores in search of work.

“Our forefathers themselves fled religious persecution and sarcastic remarks. Soon the Italians arrived because it became obvious that there needed to be a pizza parlor on every corner; the fledgling nation was being unified by a love of freedom, ambition, and a hearty appetite for pepperoni.

“Then came the great Whackadoomian Emigration of double-ought, where mentally ill individuals throughout the world packed their meager belongings into imaginary suitcases and swam toward Lady Liberty’s beacon – treading water during the day when the beacon was unlit. In America they hoped to find the chance to be unhinged in a way that was marketable, which led ultimately to reality TV. Quietly, in small communities throughout the land, they built pockets of whackadoomiousness, and flourished.

From Knothead, Maine to Improbability, Tennessee, and Not All There, Wyoming, mentally ill Americans worked, fell in love, formed families, prospered and polished up the hood ornament on the American dream just like the rest of us. Today, they are in our midst, virtually everywhere, woven deep within the warp and woof of the American flag; indeed, as you watch the stars and stripes wave you can almost hear the sound of barking.

How To Manage Bullies

Inside Every Bully Is A Coward

Concern about bullies is trendy today, so much so that Hollywood, (where having an original idea can actually destroy your career), has jumped on the bandwagon with its incredibly annoying “It Gets Better” Campaign. (You and I know that in fact it doesn’t get better, indeed, it doesn’t change at all. What happens is that you either get used to it or you learn how to master it.)

Bullies are a time-honored personality type. (To be honest, we are all bullies to some degree, or at least, capable of being bullies.) Bullies are instinctively drawn to the weak and defenseless; mentally ill folk always make the list. Left unchecked; bullies morph into monsters, I know. Philly, my home town, is among the nation’s deadliest cities, thug violence is commonplace. Indeed, I was once beaten unconscious with lead pipes and left for dead in a snowbank.

Back when I was cab driving, a hard-bitten veteran told me, “There is only one way to deal with a gang of “punks” coming for you. You don’t run, you don’t talk, and you don’t make deals. You figure out which one is the leader and you stick a knife in his face.” My own mother, a reasonable and patient individual, once tried to run my father over with a 1956 Pontiac Chieftan (a very large car) simply because she could not endure being bullied any longer.

“Inside every bully is a coward; dread the weak, not the mighty.” Taz Mopula

The confrontation approach may win short-term but always fails long-term for the simple reason that it plays to the bully’s area of strength; violent brutality. To defeat the bully you must understand, and eliminate, your fear of him. When he realizes you will accept a beat-down if you must, the power he holds over you slips in between his fingers. When he looks into your eyes and sees you looking back, the mean, sadistic thrill he craves is gone. At that point he will seek out a more timid individual.

That is the joyful power and freedom that come from going toe-to-toe, and not flinching. If that is not enough for you, if you are full of hate and resentment, if you dream of reducing this wretched excuse for a human being to a quivering, pathetic blob of sopping flotsam; then it is time to remove the ruthless sword of humor from its sheath.

When you make it obvious you find the bully pathetic and laughable, he is vanquished. And it’s a very reasonable assessment because bullies are the very antithesis of what they appear to be. Coming across mean and rough is merely their way of masking cowardice and self-loathing.

Nothing ever just gets better; what happens is; if you’re lucky, you get better.